January

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The first few months of winter have come and gone! There have been a lot of changes for me too! There has been a wedding, a Norwegian Christmas and a change of location.

I’ve been doing a lot of planning for my business this year and now January is over, things are starting to fall into place. I like routine to keep up my flow of projects, however that has been quite difficult this past while. Now I have just finished setting up my workspace in my new flat, and I have some weeks free of client commissions to focus on exciting projects I have lined up in my head. I am hoping they can help push my work in a bit of a new direction. I’m also really keen to make contact with new clients in Norway, and I will be hopefully posting about creating some more local themed illustrations to help with that.

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A lot of my client work over winter has been emailing and sketching roughs so I haven’t had much to share online. However, I did get some time to sit down and do some media experimentation with my painting. I decided to paint a cuckoo as I had seen them on the local mountain this summer and was fascinated by them. A few pages of sketches on layout paper and I was ready to paint.

I was hoping to see what would happen if I painted with no prior colour planning and just stuck at it for a few hours. I am pretty happy with how it went, so it’s a definite incentive to play around with my process more. The colour planning and the then inevitable laborious colour matching on photoshop was really beginning to take the enjoyment out of painting for me, so I am happy to try out new methods, even if that means my final aesthetic changes quite a bit as a result.

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Over December I attempted the challenge of swimming every day in the fjord. Unfortunately, as I probably should have anticipated, there was absolutely no sunlight to tempt me out into the water. This wasn’t helped by a couple of weeks of temperatures below -10°C! I think I maybe made it in for half of the days, and this is probably a lot more swims than I would have managed without the goal.

However, when January came I was determined to keep up a routine of cold water dips. I appreciate how helpful it is for my mental health to have something like that – especially in January! For the last two winters I have aimed for a once-a-week outdoor swim goal, and I can happily report that this January I have managed it – even getting in one extra swim!

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Well that’s January – I hope that I can keep those swims going and keep up a positive mindset as the year goes forward. (I can now say I have swam in 1°C water for the first time!) I have a lot of interesting and exciting illustration ideas in my head, but I feel I am not jumping into them when I have the chance as I have been held back by frustrations with my painting technique. Hopefully more experiments and practice over the next month or so should get me where I want to go and I can start creating those artworks I have been dreaming of for so long!

Last of the summer in the mountains

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What a summer it has been! I have managed to get long walks in almost every weekend! Having shin splints for almost a year and half now has been a big mental challenge for me but over time and partly in thanks to my plans to reach some nice long distance goals with very gradual progress over the past few months I have come to settle to what I think is a much healthier state if mind. The shin splints haven’t gone away, I am still not running but I have been able to do and see so much this summer without feeling much pain at all, have discovered that hiking poles are great and am looking forward to see what I can achieve next spring!

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I also used the bike a bit to travel further distances away from home. Almost all of the early journeys had a mountain pasture as the end destination though. I would eventually start making some mountain tops in the early autumn but the time spent exploring the old huts and surrounding landscape of these historic places was very interesting and inspiring. There are so many of them around in the uplands of this part of Sogn and I expect I will be drawn to explore more of them next season and perhaps even reach a few on skis this winter too!

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Now the hunting season has arrived and I am adapting my time outdoors to fit in with the new challenges this brings. It’s not something I have ever had to think about before! The forest around our home is particular suited for deer hunting. It has very good access for quads and tractors as well as many flat places the deer like to sleep in. Hunting is normal across the whole of Norway but this area is much more busy than is normal elsewhere. This makes it particular important to take care in these areas after 15:30 and it is usually best to avoid them altogether at this time.

So far I have started thinking about doing some uphill running in the middle of the day as well as the possibility of cycling further afield from the hunting, while carrying the gear to do a short mountain walk. This might be something I start considering for the season but I will just have to see how the weather plays out. I don’t really  enjoy cycling in persistent rain (compared to walking when I am quite happy if I have my rain gear on) and the last month has been so wet almost every day. I am very aware of how much I will be limited in my route choices once the snow falls proper so if the weather improves over the next week I will hopefully have good motivation to seize any free time and to do as much as I can now!

Evening cycle in Sogn

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Here are a few photos from a recent cycle I made up to a lovely spot by Sognefjorden in Norway! I was very happy to find that there is plenty of rustic farm inspiration to be found there as well as quite spots by the water to sit and reflect. With the pond there is almost a Hobbiton feeling there too!

Illustrations for Turf and Grain Magazine

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Last month I had the pleasure of working with Simon from the Irish magazine Turf and Grain to create these illustrations for their latest issue. The theme was creativity and the issue features some amazing talented and inspiring makers from around the island of Ireland.

With these artworks I managed to create the work with 50% traditional techniques at least, which made me very happy. It is a challenge to try and mix digital and traditional media together sometimes with out it looking too distracting but I am very excited to be making progress with it!

Great Malvern – An Unusually Excellent Guide for Curious Explorers

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This was a really fun project working with Great Malvern Route to the Hills to create a family activity book and local park map for the town.

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Here are just a few of my favourite spot images designed for the book. I love projects like this as they allow me an excuse to delve into the rich historical background of an area and to research some fun period clothing!

http://www.routetothehills.co.uk/

Søndagstur in St Ives

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It’s been quite a while since I took and edited the photos from this trip but I thought that I would post them today anyway as a memory of long weekend days with Ragnhild,  exploring the Cornish coast, to counter the much shorter and dark winter days of December.

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St Ives was as busy as I always remember it but here and there we snatched little pockets of peace we turned down a wee ope or rounded a corner. I was on the hunt for good photos on this trip and although the weather wasn’t quite what I had in mind when we planned our visit, I am still very happy with some of the little detail shots I managed to capture in the end.

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So far we have barely dinted the coastal path directly out of St Ives so I am excited to be back there again after Christmas and maybe we can venture a bit further down the coast and maybe catch that funny green bus back to the town in time for the train home.

Millican Travelogue Illustrations

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This year I had the pleasure of working with Millican bags on a number of very exciting projects. My favourite was producing the cover and map of the world for their new Travelogue publication!

I am really hoping to land some more map jobs this year so the timing for the project was perfect. There was also lots of research to be done for the different travel locations but this is always my favourite part of map illustrations!

Since doing some research into traditional Welsh quilt making at the beginning of the year I was really eager to use some of this inspiration in my Illustration work. The wonderful design team at Millican were amazing to work with and let me run with my ideas for the cover which definitely has some of these lovely pattern influences in it!

The travelogue is going to be sent out with Millican product orders and used at trade fairs and I am really excited to hear people’s reactions to it!

 

 

A Cornish Søndagstur

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We are now living in sunny Cornwall! We have arrived as late summer is coming in and have been blessed with some amazing weather. So on our first weekend we decided to head out into some coastal nature to keep up one of our favourite cosy Norwegian traditions – Søndagstur!

In Norway pretty much everybody heads out into their local woods, mountains or lakes on a Sunday. This is Søndagstur! People are kitted out for all weather and bring plenty of treats and usually a flask or 2 of hot chocolate or coffee. (The snacks are perhaps my favourite part!)

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So we very excited to be adapting this tradition to our new home in the South West of England! Unlike most Sundays in Norway, we didn’t need so much rain gear on this particular walk but we did bring our towels and went for a peaceful dip in the sea, where we were surrounded by a huge shoal of sand eels (slightly surreal!) adding an interesting flavour of nature to our trip.

Already we are noticing the days are growing shorter and how fast darkness seems to set in this part if the world. It is going to be very interesting adjusting to the change in landscape and climate but I am already looking forward to it and Søndagstur is the perfect way to settle in!

Poster for Lost and Found

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A couple of weeks ago I worked with Lost and Found brewbar and cafe to create an updated poster for their new food venture – Pizza Night!

I had a lot of fun working with them with their Feast event poster last year. I really love their appreciation of good design and ethos around quality local food so was very excited to work with them again.

I hope the poster brings across the relaxed and friendly atmosphere of their food events and wish them all the success for the future with their evening events. Coleraine isn’t very lively place at night (yet!) and I think it would be amazing to see some continental cafe culture making its way across the sea to Ireland!

Ride Journal – Cycling up Lifjell

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At the start of summer I finally took my bike up to the top of Lifjell – the steep and rocky hill that I could see from the door of my flat in Stavanger and a summit from which I had dreamt of seeing the view back to the city and surrounding islands for too long!

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To get there I first had to pedal my way around the edge of Gandsfjorden to the start of the mountain track. This came to around 35km each way and had a few hills but nothing too steep. On the way I passed Vaulen my local swimming spot. It lies just beside a lovely shared-use bike path from which I happily took in the views and celebrated cheerfully the lack of busy traffic. This is just one of many amazing shared-use paths that run south of Stavanger and I can’t praise them highly enough!

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Then it was time for the steep gravel or “gris” climb to the summit of Lifjell at 282 moh. The track is for access to the radio mast but it also makes for great white knuckle downhill gravel riding too! I tried to wave home but unfortunately it appeared that I had chosen a day when fate had it that I was hidden inside a misty cloud on the top, so no mountain-to-city contact was made.

The initial road climb to the carpark and trackhead of Lifjell was more tough than I had imagined but all in all it was a very fun ride and I would recommend it to anyone who only has a few hours but is looking for something a bit more challenging in the close vicinity of Stavanger and Sandnes! (It is very flat to the south!)

Writing this is making me miss Rogaland quite a lot as I have some exciting news to share – I am moving back to Cornwall with my girlfriend! It is going to be lovely to be back where I studied and met so many nice people but I am going to miss Norway a lot too! So Cornish adventures coming up on the blog and maybe even some Celtic/Cornish themes finding their way in to my work soon!