Last year I participated in Lilla Rogers’ e-course Make Art that Sells, which turned out to be a brilliant investment in my very early professional art career that I only started that same month. Lilla Rogers -a well known American agent- also offers a less intense e-course: Bootcamp. She gets you “professional level assignments to stretch you to create fresh signature pieces that are ready to sell in multiple markets. Each assignment will be in two stages – firstly a ‘mini’ (on the first Monday of the month) to ease you in, and then a main assignment (on the second Monday of the month) to help you turn your sketches and initial ideas into a full blown piece that is ready to sell. Each month you will have three weeks to complete the assignment.” The January assignment was Edwardian brooches for a journal cover. Firstly I collected some examples at Pinterest and sketched them in Japanese ink. For this I use a small brush and try to be as spontaneous as possible, so no drawing in pencil first. I like the thickness of this type of ink, it dries quite slowly though.
I wasn’t sure which direction to go and made a pattern in Illustrator in basic black and white.
When you think of a journal cover a pattern is always a good idea, but I didn’t like this particular one very much, I thought it was somewhat uninspired and I wanted to make an illustration instead. The icons, or little drawings in black and white, will go in an archive: I’ll use them some other time (that’s something I’ve learned and used since my first Lilla Rogers’ course). A few years back I did a few paintings using gouache and one of them is a painting of a crow wearing a top hat.
When I walked the dog in the park and encountered some corvids I made up a little story
I thought it would be nice to make a piece that would go together with that one. When I walked the dog in the park and encountered some corvids I made up a little story about a magpie collecting her Edwardian brooches and other shiny jewelry. Back home I collected some Downton Abbey references (a few years post-Edwardian era, but Hey-who-cares?). The hats these women wear are great and I wanted to include one for my magpie.
These are some sketches. I like simple and bold compositions with nice details.
For inspiration as well as reference I used some photo clippings of animals wearing jewelry.
This fabulous bird book, that has come in handy several times already, had a perfect magpie to sketch.
This book about the still life paintings of 17th century Dutch painter Jan Davidsz. De Heem (something from my past as an art historian) gave me good examples of abundant flowers, shiny objects and shells, but no jewelry.
So I also got myself some life reference by using this necklace that I hate to wear -since it’s so heavy with stones- but lovely to paint.
Work in progress:
This is the end result (I got a spontaneous kiss of my youngest son when he saw it, haha):
And the art mapped on a journal: