christmas 2019

reindeer close up by chris cowdrillseason’s greetings! we’re well into the festive season now, and recently i produced two drawings that i initially worked up as digital pieces – the first was of a partridge, the second a stag. now – in all honesty – i wanted to do a drawing of reindeer, but i was finding it really hard so i ditched the reindeer and drew a stag. i drew it; it looked like a stag; great. i scanned it into my mac and then worked it up in purple and blue hues (just as i have with a penguin, owl and sloth in the past) – and it turned out to more resemble a reindeer. i know it isn’t a reindeer (and those of you who might study animals can probably point out why – but just from looking at a few examples i could tell that the nose and antlers are very different), but the simple change in colour made it appear like one. i decided to also work it up in more natural colours and this (as you might expect), does look like a stag (!) i also made traditional cut-paper collage versions of both too. continuing my series of stern looking creatures – they’re both look pretty serious, but then that’s how they are. anyway, i hope you like them – the different versions are all included in the gallery below.

 

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in dreams…

i’d long been working on a tribute in dreams - an illustration tribute to david lynch by chris cowdrillto the works of director david lynch and i recently completed the project and so collected and printed the illustrations together in a book format. it’s titled in dreams after the roy orbison song used in blue velvet and the fact that dreams play such an important part in lynch’s work – either the dreamstate used as inspiration or as a narrative element of the film.

The covers feature a series of icons that represent dream-related items from several of the films and the images inside relate to twin peaks, mulholland drive, blue velvet, eraserhead and lost highway (the last i’ve always considered my favourite).

I made some of the images into sets of badges that i’ve put onto my etsy store along with copies of the zine. i’ve bundled the zine together with an ‘exclusive’ set of badges that feature quotations from the films. the quotations initially appear to be like positive, life-affirming memes…

‘go to sleep, everything is alright’
‘in heaven everything is fine’
‘that gum you like is going to come back in style’

…but how genuinely positive or reassuring they are is questionable when considered in the context of the films. i think this might be a little harder to get into than some of the more friendly, upbeat, smiling animal or robot work i’m used to producing – i’m not sure how well it resonates if you’re not a fan of the films themselves. to be honest i produced this work mostly just for myself. i love these films and wanted to produce a tribute to them. and i wanted my own bemused-looking henry on a badge. i’m sure there’s some more of you out there that will enjoy these – i’d love to hear what you think.

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retro robots

a short while ago i was back on robots again. if you’re a follower – you will haveretro robot set of 6 postcards by chris cowdrill seen this bunch before, but they were in traditional cut-paper form. so recently i decided to go back and produce digital collage versions of them. as usual they are drawn out by hand in fineliner, scanned in and then the colours, patterns and textures are collaged in using photoshop (from a stash of hand-produced and scanned painted textures). i really enjoyed going back to these characters – so much that i decided to get them printed as a set of 6 postcards and scale them down to make some hand-pressed button badges. i love making little sets of things! i put them up on my etsy shop and have also offered the images as mounted prints too. this was part of a conscious effort at expanding the range of work i have available on there.

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brum zine fest 2019

last month i was at brum zine fest which ‘celebrates independent publishing and diy making, bringing people together using zine approaches, methodologies and formats.’

the event was organised and managed by a lovely group of folks, who put together a weekend of events that included a zine fair as well as a series of activities and talks.

they faced particular challenges this year because they received no arts council funding so had to crowd-fund the event in a very limited amount of time. they were successful in doing this which meant they could pay artists for running workshops and activities, provide an access fund to help cover travel and accommodation for stallholders at the fair, pay festival assistants a living wage and invest in independent local suppliers. The full story is well-documented here.

i was in attendance as part of indigo octagon (the artist group i work with from time to time), and we had our series of self-published work for sale as well as a few prints, 2 new book editions by andy and a t-shirt design hand screen-printed by shaun. it was great to meet so many people, discuss our work, and pick up lots of zines and artwork by creative and talented folks.

Brum Zine Fest 2019 poster by Chris Cowdrill

they had an open call for poster designs, so i enjoyed producing an illustration just for this. the template included the text and a rounded rectangle – it was supposed to be the outline of a train ticket, but i made it appear that the shape was a hole cut into the background, rather than an object placed on top.

the positive, supportive and community-led approach by the organisers was particularly inspiring and made it a real pleasure and privilege to be a part of the event, and we were thankful to them for selecting us to be involved. i’m really looking forward to next year’s brum zine fest.

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peacock

a few months ago i developed a series of IMG_1167-copy.jpgworks based on peacocks. i’d been wanting to develop this work for a while and produced outcomes that included drawing, digital collage and traditional collage. The first piece I worked on was the pink portrait using cut-papers (this is roughly A3 in size), and then produced a second colourway in more realistic peacock hues.

peacocks are often simplified and their faces prettified with the focus on their plumage, but i wanted to work with portraits and thought that they were really quite stern with their faces containing often overlooked details and different textures. This was something I was conscious of when producing these portraits, and the drawing of them that i used to produce greetings cards emphasises their stern qualities even more, i think.

in addition, i worked up digital collage versions of the portraits in 2 colourways. this involved re-drawing them using a fineliner, scanning the drawings, scanning the textures and patterns that i’d used for the traditional collage pieces (i had the forethought to do this beforIMG_0253e cutting up the painted patterns), and then cutting and pasting the textures in photoshop. i also had in mind that i wanted to produce a full figure paper-cut collage of a peacock. this became quite an arduous, painstaking task because each of the 15 large feathers i produced contained 150-200 separate cuts. i got blisters on my fingers. but it was worth it to produce the larger scale outcome (its approximately 90×42 cm – larger when framed up in the pictures).

i’ve put some of the smaller work up on my etsy shop here, where there’s more photos too.

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christmas 2018

cut-paper collage fox by chris cowdrillis it really nearly christmas again!?

apparently so, and i’ve produced another series of designs for cards and prints for this festive season. there are three different designs and they follow in the same vein as the designs i produced last year. three different critters this time – a fox, an owl and a sloth each wearing something to keep them warm during the winter months. i’d decided last year that i wanted to add more creatures to the line up for 2018, and after feedback from people who liked the designs last year but were asking why not this animal or that animal it made my decision an easy one for this year. the card designs are hand-drawn, scanned and coloured/collaged in the computer – i’ve retained the pencil drawn outlines again, whereas i usually draw in fineliner to keep the lines more graphic. the cards are available through my online shop and i’ve also produced a larger cut-paper collage version of the fox for inclusion at craft fairs.

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visions of a free-floating island

i recently worked on this booklet for artists andrew smith, hugh marwood and shaun morris for their exhibition at surface gallery, nottingham. the title is taken from andrew’s painting featured on the cover which they had selected to use for their promotional material. rather than a traditional exhibition catalogue or a publication that included the exhibited work, they had decided they wanted to produce something in the vein of a colouring book because of its connotations of mindfulness and how this linked into some of the work directly, and indirectly. other than that, the brief was pretty open.

the booklet is twenty pages in total. the opening spread a collection of phrases and fragments gathered by hugh and set against a cropped photograph of one of hugh’s sentinel or childish things sculptures. i didn’t know at the time that he had actually applied some of these phrases to the sentinel sculptures, and so it turned out that i’d used the same background as he had for them. the middle section was a series of images of the artists’ work reduced to line drawings perfect for colouring in. the final section was a piece written by andrew titled a therapeutic conversation that i presented against cropped sections of the painting used for the cover. The back cover features part of one of hugh’s flagging pieces, the union flag consciously incorporated.

i always love working with these guys, and as an admirer of their work it’s always great to get to play with their creative output. i’ve included links to their online activity below so you can check out more of their work.

andrew smith’s blog

shaun morris’ website

hugh marwood’s blog

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christmas 2017

penguin cropmerry christmas.

i thought i should post my designs for christmas this year. i produced four different animal illustrations – a penguin, a flamingo, a llama and a rabbit – each wearing a scarf or hat to keep them warm in the winter months. i had two of the illustrations made into cards, and i used all four illustrations across badges, magnets, mirrors and prints. the illustrations were drawn by hand and coloured/collaged digitally but i produced a special larger paper-cut version of the penguin for display at any art/craft fairs that i was at. i’ve included some pictures of the designs below (click to see more detail), but you can see more pictures and work is for sale at my online shop here: chris’s shop.

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bugs

i’m working on a series of insect-based moon bugillustrations using ladybirds (or ladybugs), as the starting point. here’s the first two i’ve completed. there’s been some new challenges in producing them – although they only contain about 40-50 individual cut pieces each, some of the cuts are more intricate or tricky than usual (the legs, for example), and there are more cuts per piece on some of them than i’m used to (so one wing on the moon bug has 21 cuts, whereas the flower bug has 40+ cuts per wing). i’ve enjoyed working on them and will probably develop more of these beyond the three i’ve initially planned.

let me know what you think…

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baby shoes

if you’ve seen my twitter feed, then you’ll know baby shoe 14 ai’ve been drawing a lot of shoes recently. i’d wanted to document all of my daughter’s footwear from when she was first born (just over a year ago), and had been holding onto all of her bootees and pram shoes with the intention of eventually getting around to drawing them.

the impetus came when it occurred to me that although i often go on to students at work about the necessity for working from observation and using primary references, i hadn’t done some myself for a little while. i needed to do a bit more drawing and pledged that i would start drawing every day. thinking ‘it shouldn’t be too hard,’ it’s actually been a little harder than i thought it would be. i am pleased that it’s meant that i’ve been making time every day to draw something, even if that time has been late at night when my little girl girl has gone to bed, tea is made and eaten and things put ready for the next day (which is usually a lot later than i’d like).

i’ve been doing a lot of this drawing on my ipad, using the apple pencil and the procreate app which has a nice function on it that records your work from start to finish – imperfections, corrections and all (wordpress won’t let me host the videos on here, so you’ll have to pop over to twitter to check them out). i’m tending to favour the 6b pencil, and the gel pen (with a lower opacity setting). and i’m not the only baby shoe hoarder – my folks had a box of my baby things which included half a dozen pairs of my baby shoes, so some of those have made the mix too (the brown ones). i’m just including a selection of the shoe drawings on here – you can see all of them (and more to come), on twitter.

 

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