Tried & Tested: June

I spend a lot of time (and a fair bit of money!) testing out new art materials each month, so I thought I'd start reviewing and sharing some of my best finds right here on my blog.  

Here are my top finds for June: 

Flying Tiger Coloured Pencils

24 Shades of YEY! 

At £4 for 24 these pencils are incredible value and surprisingly decent quality.  In fact, when I used them at a workshop a few weeks back at least three people asked where I got them! Cheap pencils tend to be scratchy and produce a rather anaemic effect: but - without too much pressure - these produced a really impressive depth of colour.  

So, can you tell which of these sketches (of the same Vivienne Westwood AW17 look) I created using the £4 Tigers - and which one using my posho Prisma pencils? 

The one on the right? Correct! And I think I prefer it out of the two.   And just to prove my point about how good these pencils are, here are a couple more faces: 

Flying Tiger Watercolours

Chic on the cheap? 

I wanted to incorporate some painting into one of my workshops but needed to find something affordable to use: so I picked up this £4 Watercolour set to roadtest ahead of the event.  (Well no-one wants to host a party and serve up the watercolour equivalent of Lambrini, do they?!)  Whilst the depth of colour they produced isn’t great and they’ve got a slightly grainy and chalky texture, they definitely do the job if you just to have a bit of a creative play around. 

Just so you can see, here's how they compare and contrast with my Windsor & Newtons (on the left): 

FullSizeRender (2).jpg

Caran D'Ache Chunky Watercolour Pencils

The bigger the better? 

These chunky watercolour pencils turned out to be one of my best accidental, 'went in for something else' buys ever.  I have a tendency to work in mono and use a lot of thick black lines in my illustrations, so it was great to challenge myself to produce something using just a single colour: to play with all the different textures and effects I could create with just one of these pencils.  

They create a much denser finish than lots of other watercolour pencils I've tried, which can often be quite chalky and pale.  At £2.50 each they're not cheap, but they'll definitely last longer than my Tombows and - as illustrated - you only need a couple to create some vivid new work!





Despite the obvious shit bit, here are 5 fabulous things that happened to me this week: 

1) My portrait of the lovely Emma Gannon hit the big (and small) screen in a major Microsoft ad campaign! Although they seem to have doodled with the original a bit, I'm still pretty proud that one of my random early-morning sketches is getting its 5 microseconds of fame!   

Emma G


2) I learnt to screenprint on paper and pulled these 5 fabulous Flashdancers: all up for grabs on my shop! It's always great to learn a new skill and to fully understand the process.and potential of these things.  Although obviously time-consuming, it's so versatile and I can't wait to get back in the studio and experiment some more.


3) I had a very lovely meeting with Lunar HQ: an amazing 'co-working creative studio and pop-up shop' just up the road from the equally amazing goats (at Hackney City Farm).  Can't wait to go to Collage Club there in July! 

4) I saw My Life As A Courgette.  By that I mean the film - not me having some sort of existential courgette-based crisis! It's a a beautiful story and visually stunning - packed with amazing illustrations!  Highly recommend it.  

5) I discovered Unicorn toast! (How did I not know this was a thing?!) 

Hello JUNE

This month I shall mainly be: 


Balenciaga: Throwing Shapes 

New print collection out now

I'm excited to reveal my new collection of Balenciaga illustrations: created to mark the opening of the Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion exhibition at the V&A.  

Rather than focus on early day Balenciaga silhouettes, I wanted to create something fresh and focused on some of the recent collections. And Picasso has been such a huge influence throughout my creative life that it seemed fitting and instinctive to weave it into this project: to create illustrations that fuse the styles of both of these iconic Spanish masters.
The resulting illustrations are quite a departure from my usual style, but I'm loving them: and I hope you do too! It’s been hugely liberating, surprising and exciting to work on: so I suspect more fashion + art mashups on the horizon…


June events  



I'm heading to two brand-new venues and launching a new body image workshop this month! Check me out.  



Pink hair don't care

I’m hoping to get to Bleach London for a permanent pinking this month!  For now, I shall suffice with this spray-on Cotton Candy.  



It goes without saying that I'll be heading to: 

I'm also hoping to make it to Frida Wannerberger's Fashion Illustration and bookbinding workshop on June 17th.  I adore Frida's work and it's a fab opportunity to learn from a master of the craft: so fingers crossed  I'll be there! 



Getting cosy and creative with Caboodle!

I'm writing a feature on 'the joy of sketch' and heading up north to talk colouring and collabs with the adorable Editor of Caboodle, Kayti Peschke.



Watch this space! 





On colouring and creativity

I write this as I sit on a train, heading to visit a hugely talented and creative friend of mine: someone who has been a huge source of inspiration and support throughout my creative ‘journey’.  She’s a modest girl, so I won’t mention her name: I’ll just say it rhymes with Wemma. Anyway, I digress.  

I write this as I sit on a train where, 10 minutes earlier, a girl in her mid twenties plonks herself down beside me, whips out her iphone and sticks her headphones on.  My heart sinks and I think: great, another digital zombie who’s going to sit scrolling, ‘socialising' and distracting me as I try to work throughout my journey.    But then something brilliant happens: she puts her phone to one side and whips out a colouring book and a set of coloured pencils.  My heart leaps.

I’m busy working on a new colouring book so can’t help but take the opportunity to do a bit of research.  I ask her: what is it about colouring in that you enjoy? Is it the satisfaction of colouring within the neat lines? Or is it just the sheer joy of putting pencil to paper and creating something colourful and wonderful: the satisfaction of completing and customising an image based on whatever mood strikes you? It’s the latter, she answers.  

I’m not a regular consumer of colouring books: I prefer to sketch and create things from scratch.  But anything that gets people to down their digital tools and put pencils to paper gets my vote! Colouring has become so mainstream and popular that it's not uncommon to find at least 5 different colouring mags on the shelves of Sainsbury's.  And, in a world so replete with digital distractions and stressors, it's easy to see why.  The simple art of colouring-in is meditative, restorative and - best of all - doesn't require wifi.  Colouring, drawing, sketching: it all quietens the mind and forces you to focus:  and there’s nothing more gratifying than the feeling you get when you complete a work: regardless of how 'good' you feel it is.  It's done, you did it: you brought it to life on the page in a way that only you could and can. 

Artists are just children who refuse to put down their crayons.
— Al Hirschfeld

I’m all about making art and drawing accessible to all: especially those who say they “can’t draw” (there’s no such thing!).  I use a combination of both colouring and sketching activities at The Social Sketchup workshops I run, and I’ll be doing the same in my new book too.

My book will be out in the summer: meanwhile, here’s a FREE COLOURING SHEET for you to be getting on with!  It would be fab to see your colourful hat designs on Instagram - #dulcimerdraws !  If you're stuck for inspiration, take a look at some of these fabulous designs created at a recent Social Sketchup!    

Game + Sketch = Match?

They came.  They sketched.  But did any of them meet their match?

Well, as Cilla would say, "I won't be buying a hat"!

But the crowd at Tuesday night's Sketch Appeal seemed to have a great time nonetheless: getting up close and creative to test their connection and 'sketchual chemistry'! 

As well as drawing ALL THE FACES and producing some beautiful balloon art, they worked together to create an amazing set of undateables / "Tinder dates from hell".  

I also took the opportunity to crowdsource some creative ideas for a commission I've recently been given.  My good friend Joanna has asked me to design her wedding invite and (for once) I'm a bit stuck for ideas: so I asked people to pair up and design her one instead!

She knew nothing of my cunning plan...until I called her on FaceTime and asked her to pick a winner that is! She was so impressed and touched by what people created that I think she shed ACTUAL TEARS.  

So, although Sketch Appeal didn't generate any new matches on this occasion: it did generate some fab new artwork, chat and connections - and made one bride to be very happy indeed! 

The next edition of Sketch Appeal is on Wednesday 7th June @ The Doodle Bar.  So if you're single and up for a fun and fast-paced night of casual sketch...come join the fun!




Oops I bought an IPad
— Me

After being seduced by the (rather attractive) salesman at Apple, a couple of weeks ago I buckled and bought myself an IPadPro! 

It seemed like such a great idea at the time, but I've gotta say I'm finding it hard to set my usual sketching tools aside and pick up something digital to draw with.  The work I've produced so far is patchy to say the least!  But I love an experiment and I'm determined to improve and love it (as much as I loved that sales guy): hence I've started a


Watch this space to see how I get on and at the end of each week.  Practice makes 'perfect' and all that... 

IPadPro Challenge

Masterclasses @ The House of Illustration

Holy shit it’s May already

We’re almost mid-way through the year and I'm all too aware I need to up my blogging game: 4 posts in 4 months just ain’t good enough!

But it's hard to find the time, in between all the drawing, working, drawing, working, drawing etc. : that or it's too easy to get distracted by things like this...

Noodoll Riceananas

How cute am I? 


But from this point on, I shall endeavour to step up the blog: starting with this round-up of the two amazing Fashion Illustration workshops I attended last month: 

Workshop 1: With Sue Dray

Inspired by the current exhibition of the late great Jo Brocklehurst's work, the first was led by the fashion illustration LEGEND that is Sue Dray.  I’m a huge fan of Sue's work and style, so was thrilled to meet her at last: and she was every bit as inspiring, energetic and down-right fricking fabulous as I expected!

It was a pretty intensive afternoon: 4 hours of non-stop sketching our model/muse Mankoo, powered on by Sue's expert guidance and top punk playlist!  Drawing from life requires such focus and pushes me way out of my comfort zone.  It also forces me to let go of perfectionism; enabling me to lose myself in the process rather than worry about the end result.  That said, I was actually pretty pleased with what I produced: it’s amazing what you can do with 4 hours, a model, an awesome tutor and a shitload of random art materials! 


Workshop 2: With Montana Forbes

The second workshop was led by Montana Forbes; equally fab but minus the punk and very different to Sue’s.

After talking us through her work and influences, Montana set us to work on a variety of collage, watercolour and mixed media activities; stopping only to discuss and review our work in between.  I'm always fascinated by other people's style and individuality of expression; to see how diverse the interpretations of the same subject matter are across the group.  Here’s a little snapshot of the styles and skills that were shared and shown: plus the quick speed-portrait sketchange I did with one of my classmates!  

The Jo Brocklehurst Exhibition is running until May 14th and is well worth a look if you’re in London!  




On finding my style - and getting bored with it...

In the initial months following what I now refer to as 'That moment at that life drawing class when I re-discovered my long-lost love of drawing and realised what it was I was put on this planet to do', I was worried that I'd never find my way to a distinct style.   Friends argued otherwise, but I was convinced my work would never have a strong enough identity or consistency. 

Over two years on and I know I've finally found that style, but the 'problem' I face now is that I get bored! It's great to see the consistency and personality sing through from the pages of my sketchbook, but in the name of creative play and progress I like to experiment on a regular basis; to try out new tools and techniques that enable me to push my work further.  The last thing I want is to feel/get stuck: a fear and feeling I'm sure many artists and creatives share.   

Sometimes it all goes 'wrong', but sometimes these little 'sketchperiments' throw back some real gems.  For me, it's the sketching equivalent of the masterchef invention test: take a few random ingredients (art materials), throw them in the pan (sketchbook) and see what your hands can work up!  And on that note, I'm starving: so will leave you to enjoy a few of my recent sketchperiments... 

AW Fashion Week Sketchup

New York, London, Milan, Paris... SKETCHUP!

With the AW17 Fashion Week whirlwind finally over, it was great to set aside my sketchbook and host another sellout edition of The Social Sketchup this week!

For this month's edition, I'd curated some special catwalk-inspired activities; including magazine cover design, make-up colour-ins and the grand finale: another showstopping dressmaking challenge!  This month's winning design had something of Chanel AW17 & Cleopatra vibe and was made by a talented team of co-workers from X! 

Take a look at some of my favourite shots and sketches from the night - and watch this space for news of the next Social Sketchup! 

Sketchy times at Drink Shop & Do

Things got a bit messy at The Social Sketchup last week: messy in a colourful, creative, charcoal-covered way! 

There's nothing I enjoy more than getting creative and encouraging others to do the same, so I'm always in my element at these events.  And as usual, the Sketchup crowd surprised and surpassed themselves with their incredible creations, including Picasso-style portraits and paper dress designs that wouldn't look out of place at Couture Fashion Week!  

It's a joy to watch people experiment and grow in confidence over the course of night, then see them leave armed with sketchbooks and buzzing from all the creative action - and all the cocktails! 

Thanks again to all who came for making the night so fabulous.  The next Social Sketchup will be in March. Watch this space for details!

New year = new Sketch Shop!

Pick up an original piece of fashion art: fresh from the Dulcimer Draws drawing board!

Happy 2017!

So, how are you going to make your life even more fabulous this year?  New job? New hair? New man? 

Why not start with the basics and get something in your life that will make you feel good every day throughout this year - and beyond?

Try this: 

1)      Bag yourself a beautiful bargain from my new Sketch Shop

2)      Place it on a prominent place/wall as a daily reminder of how #FABULOUS you are

3)      Repeat the above and fill your whole house/year with fabulousness!

Each month, I’ll announce a ‘secret’ flash sale on a new collection of original artworks, which will be available to buy exclusive on my site, on a first-come first-served basis!  

I’ll be revealing the first collection, The January Blues, on Instagram very soon: so be sure to follow me there to ensure you’re first through Dulcimer Draws’ doors! 


January Blues

Festive Face-Off

This December, whilst you're busy getting off your faces; I thought I'd share one or two of mine! 

In the absence of time to create anything more spectacular (than a #cheeseadventcalendar !), I've decided to countdown to 2017 with some of my favourite portraits from amid the masses I've produced this year.  I draw every day, so you can imagine how things have stacked up - in a rather Santa's Grotto-esque way! 

If you're not already doing so, follow me on Instagram for a daily shot of 'Fabulous Faces'! 


Baby It's COLD

Hurrah: It's time to get my annual grump on about how fricking freezing it is and how I really, really must move some place warmer!  

The only good thing about this season (apart from the obvious festive ding-donging) is that we all get to buy  - or at least lust after - some fabulous new winter coats! 

So, in the name of busting those winter blues, I decided to revisit some sketches I did during A/W 16 fashion week and pick out a few favourites.  (see below)

And now, back to being a miserable bastard. 


Sketchup success!

Better late than never, here are some visual highlights from The Social Sketchup!  Thank you to all those who came and made the night such fabulous fun.  It was such a joy to see people unleashing and connecting with their creativity - and to wonder at the incredible, unique results!

I'll be back at Drink Shop & Do to host the next Social Sketchup on Tuesday 31st January 2017.  Here's to another sellout, sketchy success!   


The Social Sketchup @DSD!

I'm so excited: The Social Sketchup is back and in a brand-new home at Drink Shop & Do! 

There'll be speed-sketching.  There'll be colouring.  There'll be cocktails.  

You'll get to meet and make paper dresses with a team of fabulous new friends.  You'll also get to illustrate and take home your very own beauty box - and a balloon with your face on it! 

What's not to love?!  

Get your tickets (£12 inc. glass of red/white) here

For press tickets email: 

The September Issue

Or How Not to Blog

Well I've clearly broken two of the golden rules of blogging: "blog frequently and blog consistently".  But I like to think I've got a good excuse - or several! 

Firstly, I blame my colouring event @3INA in Covent Garden, where I spent the first Saturday of the month meeting, greeting and getting creative with lots of fabulous new friends!  Thank you to all those who came along and made the day such fun: especially those who shared their talents with us in our colouring competition.  Also, big thanks to the two girls pictured for being so excited to take home a Dulcimer Draws tote bag - you really made my day!

Secondly, I blame my friend's stunning wedding in Sevilla.   The photo speaks for itself: it was the stuff of Hello magazine and Hollywood dreams!

Thirdly, I blame SS17 fashion week madness!  New York, London, Milan, Paris... there really is no rest for this sketch addict! Results/sketchbook to follow in my next post... maybe around December time? ;) 

Getting my colour on for 3INA!

I'm excited to be busy prepping for my first creative instore event for the amazing 3INA! I first met the 3INA girls at Graduate Fashion Week back in May, where I was struck by their bold and bright colours and their playful, on-trend marketing activities: including my old school fave, a tombola! 

Several months and conversations later, I'm delighted that we're working on our first project together: a 3 hour creative colouring session at their flagship Covent Garden store! 

There'll be colouring.  There'll be makeovers.  There'll be giveaways.

So, if you're looking for something fun free and fabulous to do this Saturday 3rd September, come along to 3INA from 2-5pm! 



Going BUST!

It's 'BUST Craftacular Eve and my living room still looks like a (rather stylish) bombsite!  It takes a lot longer than you realise to prepare and pack for a big craft fair: god help me if I ever have to plan a wedding!  But at long last I'm all set and ready to SMASH IT with my new Patsy pins, notebooks and originals -  and a shed load of other fabulous things!    

If you're in London tomorrow (Sunday August 21st) come along!  London Bust Craftacular @ York Hall, Bethnal Green: 11am - 5pm.