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1. the creative space

So here I am sat in my studio/workroom/office typing this. While I appreciate that may not be big news to you, it is to me. It's huge. Its profound, intense, overwhelming, fervent, ardent (yes, I'm just copying out of the thesaurus now). But it is BIG.
This is the first time ever that I have had a space designated to my work. Up until now I've balanced sketchbooks, laptops and Etsy orders on my knee on the settee or amongst printers, guillotines and plates on the kitchen table. But one of the benefits of holding an Open Studios (in my case open house) exhibition, which I did last week, is that it forces you to focus and get things in order.
That's been one of my problems since going self employed (well, since, always) is keeping focus. It's one of those things I didn't think about beforehand, but now that I have all the time to give to my art and to my business, how best should I use it? And, I'll be honest, the first year and half, of going freelance, has been trying to adjust to that and it hasn't been an easy thing.
My mind is always so FULL of stuff. It never switches off. Ever. It's just full of creative ideas, millions of them. I find being organised really really difficult. The ideas seem to get in the way of getting things done. But now I'm self employed I NEED to get things done because I need to make a living.
So, this is why actually making a room/space for my work has been so massive. I'm hoping it's going to help with how I manage my time and my business. I hope. And, I'm open too, and appreciative of, any other suggestions that may help me focus on the task at hand rather than the million little ideas knocking at the door wanting to take up my time.
Now, back to work.

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2. extreme procrastination by Andrea Joseph

So quick, while I'm on a roll, and before I notice, I'm going to blog. I'm only doing it to avoid doing something else, obviously. I've spent months procrastinating to avoid blogging and now I'm blogging to avoid doing something else I should be doing. We're all nuts though, right?
I get quite a lot of students studying my work. Which is ridiculous and fabulous at the same time. And, I often get asked to answer questions and stuff, but I really just do not have the time to answer all those individual questions. I'm sorry about that. If I had the time I would (or, actually, I'd probably like to answer them but, if the truth be told, I'd still avoid doing it because of my terrible case of procrastination). Here are some questions I've been asked recently and answered in a kind of less boring way than just typing them out on a keyboard.

So, if you are a student doing research, or just a person reading a blog, this is a little insight into how I work. Now, I'm going to press publish, or this post will sit in my drafts folder for the next few years. 
One last thing though, if you do go on to read all the nonsense in the drawing below and are curious as to whether I did actually finish the project that I was going to start and actually finish...
...of course I DIDN'T!
Have you learnt nothing???

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3. and now for something completely different

As is standard with me, as soon as I say I'm going to be on top form, posting on my blog daily, I post nothing for weeks. I should just not say anything. Plus, I promised a month of inspirational drawing ideas. Well, I do kind of have one of those for you. Quite unintentionally really.
So, this was yesterday. A small group of us had planned to meet for our friend Karrie Brown's birthday in what was being called a 'Doodle and Afternoon Tea'. A sort of mini sketchcrawl.
After the first destination we had arranged to meet at was closed for 'emergency maintenance' our plans had to change, so we ended up at Staircase House - the oldest town house in Stockport - and while we didn't draw in there we (some of us) raided their dressing up box.
The kind people of the museum even let us take the costumes out on the town. Or specifically to the market. So with three of the group dressed up, in costumes that spanned the ages and messed with history, the rest of us got to draw them in various parts of the market.
It struck us that this is a great idea. Some of us already do urban sketching, and sketchcrawls, and we also do alternative life-drawing - with clothed models - but this brought those two things together.
So, just like above, getting models to pose in-situ was really good fun. And, at moments, also quite surreal.
So, that's my suggestion/idea. Give it a go. If you know anyone nuts enough to walk around in costume, in public places, rope them in. Otherwise hire someone! We intend to do more of this in the future.
I love it when things work out like that. Serendipity, I guess they call it.
Then it was back to afternoon tea and more drawing.
Oh, and here's another idea. Something I try to do lately. I always try to take some different pens and tools out with me on these little jaunts. Whether its a sketchcrawl or life drawing. I take things that I wouldn't normally draw with.
It forces you to use something else apart from your old favourites. Cos if you ain't got it with you you cant use it.
Like yesterday, not a fine liner in sight. I took marker pens (Letraset Aqua-Markers to be specific) and a brush pen. So, I know it's a real old cliché, but my idea for today is to get out of your comfort zone. I did and I'm pretty chuffed with the results.

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4. Valentines cards, made with love


Nora and George.

I drew Nora maybe three years ago. George is much more recent. I always wanted a companion for Nora and a couple of weeks ago I brought George to life. Both were based on two well known fascinating characters in the history of tattoo art. Nora Hildebrandt was considered the first tattooed lady and toured with the Barnum & Bailey circus whilst George Burchett had an equally amazing life and went on to become a world famous tattoo artist who even tattooed royalty.

It's been just over a year now, since I went full time as an illustrator and I won't lie, it's been tough. Great, and the best decision I've ever made, but it's been really tough financially speaking. So if 2015 was the year of transition, then 2016 has to be the year where I try to turn my illustration into a business. But that's really hard, right? Thinking of your art in those terms. But I need to eat and I need to pay bills and I need to keep a roof over my head. And, I'll do anything that means that I can draw for a living. Well, not quite anything...
I made both of these drawings with the upside down technique. Nora took me a while and quite a few attempts to get 'right' (or how I wanted her). I got George first time - but then I have had a LOT of practice with this technique as you can see in this sketchbook project. So Nora had a companion at last. I love both of these drawings. George and Nora are actually very dear to me.
I never ever saw myself making Valentines cards. I've never really done anything for a particular market or an occasion. Recently my sales in my Etsy shop have plummeted. I'm part of a local Etsy team and this seems to be something of a trend and not exclusive to me. There has been a huge amount of discussion on forums as to why this is but that's a whole blog post of it's own. I've spoken to people who have weathered that storm and asked them what they've been doing to keep afloat. A lot of those people have a good range of products at different price ranges. They also take holidays and markets seriously.
I couldn't though. I couldn't make something for a market. Not me. But Valentines day was coming up. Could I? Could I really? Surely it would be selling out. Surely it would mean I'd have to dilute my work and make something with hearts and roses and oh no. It was already making me cringe. But also, in another part of my brain, it became a kind of challenge. And then it made sense. I didn't have to do anything I felt uncomfortable about. I had the perfect pair for my Valentines cards. So George and Nora went to print.
I printed them on both white and cream card. I also made a sheet of different messages (see above), based on vintage tattoo designs, to put inside the cards and printed those off too. Then I hand cut them all out (this is where my great ideas always become very complicated and end up taking ridiculous amounts of time to create). Yes, I decided I wanted them to have almost a pop-up feel to them, so I cut around George and Nora and all the tattoos.
Then I bought some smart white and cream blank greetings cards and envelopes and hand stuck, with a little of that sticky foam, the romantic pair onto either side of the card and stuck the message on the inside. Finished them off with some cellophane bags and handmade labels and, hey presto, I had Valentines cards. Just like that.
And they went on sale. In my Etsy shop and at local galleries and art cafes. So, it is possible to make things for a specific occasion or market without compromising your art. When it comes to the amount of money I laid out and time put into each one I probably won't make my fortune on this range but I made something I'm proud of.
And, on another note, this is the kind of attention to detail and care that you buy into when you make a purchase from an independent maker. Products made with love and passion, where every single sale is appreciated. Now, I'm off to come up with my next money making world domination art project.
George and Nora. Made with love.
Available HERE.

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5. sketching Buxton

Here's a sketch I made today. I literally had fifteen minutes, on my parking, to get a coffee and sketch. I've this thirst for drawing out and about recently.
 Dunno why. Maybe its the new pens I've got (loving fountain pens right now). Maybe it's just dawned on me that there are so many fascinating buildings where I live. Maybe I'm just looking at things differently.
Dunno. Maybe it's, well, I don't know, but I always think it's good to go with that....that...that thing I don't know how to explain.
So, I'm in this amazing labyrinth of a local book shop, that truly is the best book shop I've ever been in, drawing the organ (yes the book shop has an organ) and I had about twenty minutes before they closed.
But it's enough time, you know? It's enough time to get out the fountain pen, water brush and get it down on the page.
Maybe that's it. Maybe I just can't believe it myself; that you can create something so fast. After years of taking hours and hours over a drawing I can't believe I can fill a page, in minutes, with something I'm happy with. And I am quite happy with these.
And then there are the days that I wake up and want to do some of that line work. The stuff that takes hours and hours. I dunno.

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6. advanced procrastination

Ah, my gosh. Somebody please run my blog! I just will do just about anything but do it.
I make myself so mad sometimes. I frustrate the hell out of myself.
Anyways, I'm going to endeavour to update it with some of the things I've been doing whilst I've been away. I can only but try.
COLOURING BOOKS?! I have made colouring in books. It was not something I'd ever intended doing. It all felt a bit, well, you know, done. But when my printers started a new range of colouring books it got me thinking about some of my drawings that may be cool to colour in. And I tried thinking of ways of putting a twist on the whole colouring book phenomena.
 I'm calling it 'advanced colouring' but really it's for any ability. But, if you're already used to wielding the pen then I've added tips to take your colouring to the next level.
There are two sizes of book, you can find them HERE.
See you back here in about six months time!
*I will blog more often. I will. I will. I will....*

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7. Happy Birthday to Joni

Made this little sketch to celebrate the birthday of Joni Mitchell. My idol. My hero. My inspiration. I've pinched - I mean, been inspired by - her lyrics more than any other artist, to use in my work, as blog post titles, as life coaching. Happy Birthday Joni (her birthday was actually yesterday, but I did draw this late last night so it was kind of in time, although as my family and friends will tell you my birthday cards, presents and wishes are always, without fail, late).
 
A young Joni in, my new drug of choice, the Pentel brush pen.

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8. if you go down to the woods

I have some lovely new posters in my shop, folks. Professionally printed wall art for great prices. Check them out HERE.
Thanks for stopping by. More inspiration soon.

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9. these cafe days

Tampopo, Manchester
I saw a friend recently, who said "what have you been up to? Just going from café to café?" And, you know, from my drawings, it could look like that is all I do.
I do enjoy drawings in cafes though. They seem to combine all my favourite things; people, food and stuff, whilst being (mostly) warm and dry.
It's particularly useful, too, should you have forgotten to take your sketchbook out with you, if the café has paper place mats. I commend Tampopo for this. I managed to dig out an orange felt tip pen from the bottom of my bag for this one. I believe all cafés should use paper placemats. When I'm Prime Minister I will make it law.
The Plaza, Stockport
 One of my all time favourite cafes is the Plaza in Stockport. This place is an absolute hidden gem in a grey concrete city.
 It was built in 1932 and the café has pretty much stayed unchanged since then. It's like being on set of a Poirot film. Really very beautiful.
Plus, whoever was in charge of casting, has done a great job with the staff. Perfectly drawable café in every way.
 Then, the other day, we found a new café. I love it when that happens - when you find a new good café. Because, yes, I like a drawable café but the food is just as important.
And this one in Eyam 'plague village' ticked both boxes. I'll be returning. Next time, I'll sit in a different place, for a different view to draw.
Oil Can Café, Hepworth
 And so to today. The last café before Christmas.
But just to prove that I'm not always just sat around a table eating and drawing here's a something I did at work...
Oh.
Merry Christmas folks.

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10. the upside down sketchbook project

 I don't understand how people get bored. It's a complete mystery to me. How is it even possible when there are so many things you can do to amuse yourself? I have a million and one projects on the go that I can dip into when I have nothing else to do. My problem is those projects too often get shelved because I never have nothing else to do.
Here's one of them. I started this a little while back when my friend, designer Emily Pickle, bought me a couple of Chagall and Renoir sticker books. At the same time I'd bought a couple of cheap little sketchbooks that were on a buy one get one free offer. So I dedicated one to copying the stickers. But, copying them upside down
Now, I'd heard about this technique a long time ago, when I first started drawing. I'm sure it was through Danny Gregory but I can't be certain. I didn't really give it much of a go back then. I was too caught up in making everything look perfect, and hadn't really learnt to trust my own judgement. Anyway, I only really started playing around with the technique, properly, a few years ago. Now, I really love it and use it often. Especially with portraits.
So how does it work? Well, it's really quite simple. I'm sure many of you already know, but for those who don't (and being self taught and not having that art school background, I had never come across these techniques before hanging out with illustrators online), here's a quick demo.
As I said, I was given these little sticker books of paintings from a series by the great painters. I'm not really a Renoir fan, but that really doesn't matter at all. And, as for Chagall, well, although I knew his work I hadn't studied it until now. And now I really am a big fan. I stuck all the stickers on the left hand pages of the sketchbook. You don't need stickers though. You can use absolutely anything as subject matter.
Then what you do is you turn the book upside down. See below.
All I have used is a fine pen and then a thicker pen; like a brush pen, a calligraphy pen or anything with a thicker nib. A marker pen will work just as well although they often bleed through the paper.
I started by making a line drawing. This exercise is all about looking. Really looking. Starting in the top left hand corner and trying to copy, as best you can, the photo or image you're working from. Stop wondering if you're getting it 'right' and just keep looking. Resist the urge to turn it the right way up until you've drawn the whole image in.
THEN you can turn it around. It's never really going to be 'perfect'. There'll always be a quirkiness about your drawing, but I think that's the joy of doing this. I always find I make the eyes huge.
 When I'd completed the line drawing, and turned the book around, I shade the drawing with the thicker pen. There's no reason you can't do all that while the image is still upside down. I just like brining it together like this at the end.
I've since found some more stickers of Japanese art which should complete the sketchbook (after I've shared them out with Emily Pickle, that is).
I should add that your first attempts may look absolutely nothing like the image you are copying. Mine certainly didn't. I've done a huge amount of this stuff since getting into it. But it's amazing how quickly I got better at it and how confident the drawings became. But, I guess that's the same of anything you do.
This one above, is one of my favourites.
One warning; if you do decide to dedicate a whole book to this technique, no matter how much you try, this will at some point happen...

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11. for a little paper doll

Tired of Christmas? Bored of all your new presents and technology? Fancy doing a little creative project, a bit of colouring and cutting out?
 Well, it's funny you should say that, because I've got just the thing for you.
Check out my new downloadable (so, no waiting around for them to arrive) colour in, cut out and assemble paper dolls.
Get out your scissors, pens and pencils and get creative!
Find them HERE.

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12. an open sketchblog


Putting your work out there, in the big wild world (the internet), is a weird thing. A great thing, but it never fails to surprise too. Specifically what people respond to. And don't. You can be really really pleased with something you've created and it'll get a luke warm response and then there are things that you are in two minds about posting/aren't happy with/don't like and they get a huge response. It's amazing. It keeps you on your toes. It makes you realise you can never predict or presume. Apparently these are my 'best nine' from Instagram (@aheavysoul) of 2015. They wouldn't have been on my list but once you've put it out there it's not just your work anymore, it takes on a life of it's own. Thanks for all the Likes/comments/etc here and on all of the other places I share my work. I appreciate them all. Even the ones for the crappy drawings!

Happy New Year to you all. I intend to fill January with posts, on my blog, to inspire people to draw. Sure, I know that most of you don't need any inspiration to draw - you're as obsessed as I am - but somebody somewhere may just stumble across it and get inspired. Just as I did around nine years ago with someone else's blog.

(An Open Sketcbook. It was Suzanne Cabrera's An Open Sketchbook)

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13. dream a little dream

The Red Case - continued
(Part 1 HERE)
'The Shooting of Hector Littleton'
 
Well, laid up in bed with a chest infection, coughing my lungs up, wasn't how I'd envisaged the start to my New Year. I'd wanted to start all guns a'blazing, but the Universe had other ideas.
Poor vain Hector,
 
 I love New Year. It is, without a doubt, my favourite of all the holidays and birthdays put together. I love all the possibilities and opportunities a new start begins. There's nothing I like better than a new chapter or even a brand new (sketch) book.
his untimely death...
(drawing by Kate Yorke)

 But lying here, gives me some time for reflection - which is yet another good thing about a New Year.
...meant he had no time to enjoy his ill-gotten inheritance.
 
2015 saw so many changes for me. Big changes. And one of those big changes, perhaps the biggest, was that I gave up my job to become a full time illustrator.
Somebody wanted that case and would go to any lengths to get it off him.
(Drawings by Karrie Brown)
 
This was not a decision I took lightly. I'd battled with it for years. And years. Making every excuse in the book not to do it. But I'd just got so bored of hearing myself talk about it.
On a train station on the other side of town a brief encounter was about to happen
(Photo by Karrie Brown)
 
Then, on New Year's Day last year, I just woke up and I took the leap. I made the decision. I wasn't going back to work. Job done.
But would she turn up?
(Drawing by Lynne McPeake)
 
I was now a full time illustrator. Yay!!!! Argh!! Shit! YAY!!!
He waited. And waited.
(Drawing by me)
 
I had no back up plan, hell, I had no plan. And, I had no money behind me, I had nothing. Not a bean to my name. All I had was this faith that somehow it would work out and this overwhelming belief that it was the right thing to do.
Then she came
(Photo by Rod Walton)
 
And sometimes that's the best place to start. There's something quite beautiful about being in that place.
But had she brought what he wanted?
(Drawing by Kate Yorke)
 
But it hasn't been easy. Far from it.
But when is anything? Anything that means anything?
There was no sign of the red case
(Drawing by me)
 
I was prepared for that.
And I was prepared to be poor. I'd been practicing at that for quite a while.
They moved into the café
(Drawing by Becky Field)
 
 But even though the stress about having no money continued (and still continues) everything else became better. Since making that decision everything improved. Finally I was doing what I wanted to do. What I was meant to be doing.
They'd go unnoticed there
(Drawing by Karrie Brown)

And, it's required me to be more, much more, creative. Not just as an artist, but how I live my life. I have to be creative in the way I spend my money and in how I make my money. And the latter has been a revelation.
He had the money but did she have the red case?
 
It was no longer feasible to just draw, and to hope that I might get some sales or commissions. I had to look at other things - things I'd learnt and how I could utilise them to bring in an income.
She came up with the goods
(Drawing by me)
 
I started using my creativity in ways I'd never have dreamt of. Bringing all of the things I'd learnt, all the things I was skilled at, and was good at, together. With some extraordinary results.

And there it was
(Photo by Rod Walton)
 
My favourite of which has to be this crazy idea I had for a series of alternative, costumed, life-drawing sessions, which had a narrative (that I'd written - in my head) running through them...
The red case inside the green case
Drawing by Liz Ackerley 
 
...passed on from model to model by via a little red case, and that included a lot of people getting shot or hit over the head with candlesticks and Prime Minsters getting involved with showgirls and...and...well, yeah, oh....
And whilst all of this was going on
(Drawing by Kate Yorke)

...and not to mention spies falling in love with each other.
This pair were falling in love
(Photo by Rod Walton)
 
I mean, who could have predicted all of that?
But can two spies truly fall in love?
(Drawing by me)
 
So you see, the craziest things can happen in just a year...
How could they ever truly trust each other?
(Photo by Rod Walton)

...when you take the leap of faith.
 And 2016? Well, I intend to make even more crazy things happen. Lots more.
Oh, and it would be nice to make a bob (buck) or two along the way too. That's the aim.
 And then there was Edna
(Photo by Rod Walton)
 
I must say a HUGE thanks to all of the sketchers and amazing models who have made this project an absolute joy and one of my proudest achievements.
  I CANNOT wait for the new series set in a swanky New York apartment block in the 1970s to start in Feb. Let your creativity have no limits and it'll take you to amazing places too!
 
Hector Littleton played by Mike Cross
Michael Mann played by Christopher Freeman
Eliza Day played by Kayleigh Amos
Edna played by Kristina Parkin

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14. how to draw a show revisited

Here's a post from the archives. It's from July 2010. The first thing that goes through my head is how things have changed! I would never use this method these days. My drawing is so much more instinctual now, but back then I was learning. I was teaching myself to draw. And, for me, that makes it a valid exercise, but then any sort of drawing that you do is valid. It's all about practice, and no matter how much we'd love magic pens the fact is that if you want to get to a place where you're confident enough to become instinctual you need to put the learning in first. And, what I have found also is that drawing is all about looking, seeing, and that is something else I was teaching myself to do here. Look. See.
 
 The other thing that has changed is an obsession with drawing shoes - where did that come from??!Anyway, here's
How To Draw a Shoe by Andrea Joseph 2010
Over the past few years I have worked through many different processes, when drawing from still life, to get to the one that I am happy with. As I'm self taught it's been a process of elimination to find the ways that work best for me. I have narrowed it down to a couple of methods actually. I'll show you both in the next two posts, and demonstrate with my favourite subject matter; shoes.
 
Above are the tools I have used. They are; a cartridge paper sketch book; tracing paper; pencil; rubber (I believe that means something different in the US?!); three blue ballpoints; one red ballpoint. I want to stress at this point, because I'm asked so frequently, I use ANY kind of ballpoint pen. No special makes or brands. Any. As long as they aren't blotchy I'll use them.
Step 1. I am pretty obsessive about getting the shape 'right', so if I'm sketching something, for eaxmple an Adidas trainer, I will do the sketching stage on tracing paper. I realised, a while back, that I do not have any 'sketchy' books as such. I only ever produce finished drawings. I do, however, have huge amounts of roughs on tracing paper. Doing things this way means I can work on the shape I want to achieve and then transfer it easily to paper. It also means that, if I should want to, I can reproduce the same image (in different mediums). Which is something I do quite often.
Step 2. When I've got shape I want I transfer it to paper. In the image above you can see the ballpoint outline. I would obviously start with a pencil outline, but the scan I did for that was rubbish - you couldn't see anything. So when the pencil outline is put down on the paper, I go over it faintly with a ballpoint.
Step 3. I have started to add some shading (values?) to some areas. I work out where this shading should be by observing the shoe and where the shadows and light fall. Excuse me if all this sounds really patronising, it's not meant to. It's just how I have learnt to draw. Step by step.
Step 4. Here comes the cross hatching. This is the part where I feel I can really get into the zone with this drawing. I love this bit. The shoe is starting to come alive, and more texture is being added through the hatching.
Step 5. A continuation of the last step. More building, more hatching, more texture. Also at this point I'm starting to add the detail. That's another bit I love doing.
Step 6. The finishing touches. My most favourite bit. Details, a bit of extra hatching and a splash of red. In this drawing the final finishing touch was to outline the shoe with a bolder line, using a ballpoint that has a bigger nib.

And that's it!
That's how I did things back then. Actually, this is the way I'd work these days for an editorial or book illustration job or for something that needed planning and page layout. So, I learnt quite a lot from that period. Mostly, I learned about seeing. And, funnily enough, I went on to teach a Sketchbook Skool course of that very name ('Seeing') five or so years later.
More demonstrations and things from the archives all month, here, on my blog.
But for now, that's all folks!

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15. whippin' piccadilly

These are a few sketches I made today at Piccadilly Train Station in Manchester. They're of some of the buildings that surround the station.
And some more bikes (see my previous post).
I created these with the Manchester Urban Sketching Group, and there was a bit of a celebratory atmosphere in the air as Manchester has been chosen as the city that will host the 2016 Urban Sketchers Symposium.
Led by Simone Ridyard, who was the driving force behind the Manchester bid, we got sketching this amazing city.
And my piece of advice for visitors next July; bring an umbrella. And a coat. Maybe some gloves, a scarf, hat. Only joking.
But seriously, bring a coat.

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16. what a difference a day makes

 What a difference a day makes up here in these hills. Or Peaks to be specific. I made these two drawings over a weekend. I was participating in the Buxton Art Trail weekend - where artists take over the town. with their creativity, and use shops and cafes and homes to exhibit, and hopefully sell, their work.
 I was upstairs in the Old Clubhouse pub. A venue we use for our Dr Sketchy events. It has the best view in the town, looking right out at the beautiful Buxton Opera House. The Saturday was bright, blue skies, sunny and very quiet.
 The Sunday was throwing it down. A very wet and chilly Buxton in July. I'm not sure whether people just wanted to get out of the rain or see my work, but I don't mind either way. I had the loveliest afternoon and met loads of really nice people. Hello if you're one of them.
You never know how these events are going to go. But after doing my fair share of them, I've learnt it's never about how much work you sell. Of course, that's great, it's the best, but it's also about lots of other things you get out of them; meeting new people, sharing your work, talking about your work. Plus, I signed up two fabulous new models for my alternative life drawing sessions and got two sketches of the Opera House. And who knows what else may come.

Get yourself out there.

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17. i got the blogging blues

 
No matter how many good intentions I have, I just can't keep  my blogging up. I sometimes even forget it's here. I can Facebook, Tweet, Instagram and even Flickr, but I just can't get into a blogging habit. 
Here, I bring you some flowers to apologise. Thanks to those of you who still visit. I'm not sure why you would. I hardly ever seem to. For those of you who keep up with yours; HOW do you do it?
Flowers for sale HERE

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18. Inky October

#Inktober Day 2 

In my quest to blog more (this always goes 'tits up' as we say in the UK) I've got on board with the whole Inktober thing. A day late, but I'm on board now. 
#Inktober Day 3 

Now, I'm truly rubbish at doing these things. Almost as soon as I commit I start resenting having to do a drawing a day for a month (or however long the thing is that you've signed up to) and then it just becomes a massive chore. But it has been a while since I've committed to any such thing, and I draw everyday anyway, so I'm giving it a bash. How hard can it be?
#Inktober Day 4

Another reason that participating in Inktober makes sense is that I am going to be taking a couple of Tracy Fennell's ink workshops during October. I really feel that need to push my work in a new direction. To take it somewhere exciting and I've always been a massive ink fan. So, no doubt, after the classes I'll be itching to experiment with all the new techniques.
#Inktober Day 5 

So that's the story so far. I'll post the rest as I go along. I will, I will, I will *trying to convince myself*. 

Some of my Inktober sketches are for sale, in my Etsy shop, HERE

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19. Ink on Kinder

Hello, it's me and I'm blogging and I'm still doing daily inky things for #inktober. Yesterday I did inky things up a mountain. Or a Peak. On Kinder Scout to be precise. 
Landscape probably wouldn't be my subject matter of choice, but I'd never rule any subject out. These days I love to tackle something I wouldn't normally tackle. 
But I don't really know how to approach landscapes, that's the problem. Or the challenge. 
So, I approached these rocks and this landscapes in the way I know how, by seeing them as a 1950s textile design. Did it work? I dunno. 
To be honest, I don't care. I had fun trying. And that's what #inktober is about for me. That's what drawing is about. 

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20. Teoh To Me (a reference you'll only get if you're British, unless the Chuckle Brothers have gone global)

Check out this lovely review of my book by Teoh of Parka Blogs. For those of you who haven't yet got a copy it'll tell you all you need to know about the book. Apart from the bit about me being French. I'm not. I've just always wanted to be!
 
Thanks so much Teoh.
You can get hold of a copy of my book HERE.

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21. raining cats and dogs

Still keeping up with #inktober (just about) and the last few days have been all about cats and dogs.
Not sure where it came from, some dark recess of my mind no doubt. Actually this poodle has been trapped inside trying to get out for ages. 
I've also been trying to work outside of the sketchbook. Not that I'm giving up in the sketchbook. NOOOOO way. I'd never do that, my sketchbooks are my favourite places to draw and that was the problem.
I just felt I couldn't draw outside of the sketchbook. And when I feel like that about some drawing related thing, these days, I challenge myself to....well....challenge the 'I can't' thoughts and feelings. 
So, with that in mind, I've decided to use up all of the scraps of paper I have around the house. It started with my bicycle challenge (the one where I felt I could never draw a bike so I drew fifty in a few weeks. Actually, I'm not sure I've blogged about that yet) I gathered every bit of blank paper in the whole house and have started drawing on them. 
A friend of mine bought this 1920s music paper for me so I drew on that. I drew on the cardboard backs of sketchbooks. And on brown paper. On old water colour pads. Anything that's been hanging around. It's getting drawn on.
 Like this poodle, if it's a bit of paper that can be drawn on then it won't be hanging around for long. It's going walkies.
 
Cat and dog drawings available HERE.

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22. inky update

I'll be honest, I have no idea where I'm up to with Inktober. But that doesn't mean I'm not inking away. In fact I haven't stopped. 
And my love for ink grows by the day. I've always loved the intensity of ink, and have used it in the past, but always ended up drawing with my paint brush in a very controlled way.
Last weekend I was lucky enough to take an expressive ink workshop by talented fashion artist and illustrator Tracy Fennell. I absolutely loved it. I really feel this is what I've been looking for.  
I'm always trying to improve my skills, always wanting to learn new things when it comes to illustration. I love drawing so much that I just want to keep learning. I want to learn anything and everything. 
So, yes, I'm very much loving ink and Inktober - even if I have no idea where I'm up to. 

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23. On Henry Moore and stuff

A few weeks ago I visited the fabulous Yorkshire Sculpture Park with Urban Sketchers Yorkshire. I love this place, plus, even better, there was a Henry Moore exhibition. 
I came to Henry Moore later in life. In the last couple of years, actually, I'm pretty sure it was on my first ever trip out with the Urban Sketchers to the YSP. Anyway, wherever whenever, now I'm a big fan. 
It's just SO drawable.
Earlier this month, when I had a grip on #Inktober - before it ran off in all directions - and I was doing an ink drawing a day, I came across my Moleskine watercolour sketchbook.
It hadn't been used much at all. In fact I hadn't seen it for years. But when I opened it I found this wash (above). Now, I have no idea what I was thinking way back then when I put it on the page, but just looking at it with all that time between us, I could only see one thing. You're thinking the same, right?? You can see it too, yeah?
Yes, exactly. 
So I came up with my very own Henry Moore reclining nude. An Andrea Joseph inspired by Henry Moore for day nine of #inktober

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24. the perfect (drawing) equation

You know when you find one of those places that is just perfect to draw? Perfect for you.
I found one a little while ago.
Actually a drawing buddy found it for me. Illustrator Matthew Midgley found this place, the Carding Shed and Oil Can Café, and he said the first thing he thought, on walking in was "Andrea would love this". And I did.
Why so perfect? Well, it had all the elements of a perfect place for me. And it got me thinking about what was the perfect place to draw (for me) and I came up with this equation;
 perfect drawing place = stuff x vintage (old stuff) + people - cold/rain (nice venue + good coffee + food)
Anyone who has ever urban sketched in the UK, specifically in the North of the UK, will know how important that last bit of the equation is. There always needs to be a Plan B. With a roof and hot drinks. Warning for all the Urban Sketchers descending on Manchester next year.
Anyway the Carding Shed had it all.
It even had bikes. Hanging from the ceiling. Perfect.
What's your perfect equation?

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25. two week sketchbook challenge

 The good thing about not blogging regularly for a period, is that you build up lots of work to post when you finally get back on it. Here's a project I completed earlier in the year.
So, I saw this post on the rather excellent Doodlers Anonymous where somebody completed a sketchbook in two hours. TWO. HOURS. I loved the idea.
 And, I had a couple of new cheap sketchbooks that I'd got in some sale. It gave me an idea of what to do with them. I should say that they were quite big sketchbooks (over 70 double page spreads) and so I set another goal; TWO WEEKS.
Which would pretty much mean taking the sketchbook wherever I went (including Ikea) and drawing even more obsessively than normal.
I started the sketchbook at a life drawing session that I used to attend weekly. It was a good place to start as that week we were focusing on drawing body parts, which meant I could fill up quite a few pages of feet and hands and, well, other bits.
And whilst I was totally pissed off that my washing machine was playing up, I did get a few drawings done waiting around at the laundrette.
I drew my friend's dog and I drew photos of my friends on my window sill.
The thing you have to do while speed drawing in this way is to ditch the fine liner pens. I pretty much used thick pens for the most of it.
I was also going to say you need to forget the detail, but I seemed to capture quite lot at my friend's gorgeous canal boat home - in both the one above and below.
Now it comes to something when you get home from another trip to Ikea, drop your bags on the floor and draw that, but I was determined to get that book finished.
The cat was not impressed.
Obviously these are just a tiny selection of the drawings I made. And they'll never be my best. But that wasn't the point.
It was a challenge, and I wasn't going to give up. I kept on pedalling.
In some places I had a field day.
Like at the antiques auction.
Where there was no shortage of things to draw. I was even sketching whilst bidding.
And I did it. And one of the things that pleased me most about finishing the book was that I finished it exactly two weeks to the day, at life drawing. And with the same model that was posing when I started.
So, if you're ever stuck for something to do, start yourself a two week sketchbook. Give it a go. And yeah, sometime in the near future I'll be giving the two hour sketchbook a bash.

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