Big News – Eclectically Grimm

In early November I submitted four illustrations to a call out by Reading Room Projects to illustrate a Brother’s Grimm Fairy Tale. The brief called for 2-4 illustrations per story and required a lot of thought as to which story to enter as the well known ones would likely attract a lot of entries.

After sitting with my copy of the complete Grimm collection I stumbled upon ‘The Fisherman and his Wife” and noted that a lot of that story takes place by the sea. This, I felt, would play into my advantage due to my previous work with seascapes (as seen in my Shipwreck Series of 2012).

I set about making my illustrations, the first depicts the fisherman catching the fish in the first instance. As per the book, I made the sea as clear as possible. The gorgeous deep blue was made with brusho and the sky with ink and bleach.

The second depicts the Fisherman’s first return to the sea, on request of his wife, to have the freed Fish Prince grant her a wish. As per the book the colour of the sea has changed and become green.

Illustration three depicts the shock felt by the Fisherman on return from yet another wish-granting trip to the Fish and his discovery that his wife is now Pope.

The final image shows the Fisherman’s final encounter with the fish. As per the book, the sky has darkened and the sea has turned black.

I chose the keep the figure of the Fisherman as a silhouette throughout my illustrations as a reminder that it is not his identity that we should be focusing on but rather his actions and how we can learn from them.

Click on an image for a full version of the illustrations.

I was recently notified that my illustrations had been selected for inclusion in the book. As one would expect, I am thrilled and delighted to have been chosen.

The book, Eclectically Grimm, is a 96 page collection of Grimm Fairy tales with 45 illustrations by several artists. Stories included are (with illustrations by):

The King of the Golden Mountain- Carys Fletcher
Jorinda and Jorindel -Anna Tromop
Briar Rose -Lucy Hirst and James Falciano
The Mouse, the Bird, and the Sausage -Rose Wilkinson
The Valiant Little Tailor -Dennis Markuss and Jon Williams
The Fisherman and his Wife -Larry Walker-Tonks and Emily Morey
The Wolf and The Seven Little Kids -Yael Maimon
Lily and the Lion -Sage Cotignola and Elizabeth Blades
Snowdrop -Emily Hallett and Paul Taplin
The Seven Ravens -Anastasia Bolinder
Old Sultan -Nora Yanagisawa-Ilcsik
The Willow-wren and the Bear -Else van den Hooven
The Queen Bee -Petya Tomova
Little Red-Cap -Ruth Grace Estipona (R-GIE)

cover grimm maggie 2 copy.jpg

Book cover for Eclectically Grimm. 

If you look carefully at the cover you may notice that the background is taken from my final illustration.

The book is priced at £10.99 and should be available by the end of November through Emma’s Attic Publishing.

I’m certainly looking forward to getting my copy!


In the Studio – Things Get a Bit Hairy!

Back in the studio things have gotten a bit weird! I set about sacrificing more cardboard boxes for my investigation into the qualities of expanding foam, this time aiming to create something more akin to flesh than the previous effort.


Once fully expanded and hardened I attempted to remove the foam from its box container. In doing so I accidentally created “wings”, amused by this, I have decided to keep them.

Disturbingly, the foam has appeared to take the form not too dissimilar to the shape of our intestines, it is this quality that I am particularly keen on. This association has been further exaggerated with painting in flesh tones.

Concerned that this looked a bit too perfect, “nicey nicey” and like a medical learning aid I applied a thin coat of black wash intended to accentuate the craters in the foam and to highlight the paint strokes.

I was concerned that perhaps this was a step too far as the outcome created what looked like charred or infected flesh. I created another piece that would not be treated to the wash in order to compare them.


Without wash. 

First up, the piece that was left clean (above) – as it were. I feel that the lack of dark wash works on this piece but that is because of the difference in appearance. This piece is more tumorous in appearance than the other piece, the natural shadows caused by the raised “veins” needs no further enhancement. I feel a wash would only distract the viewer. This piece did cause issue in that it left very few craters for the 3D printed “hair”.


With Wash.

As you can see, the piece that had the black wash applied is much more gruesome in appearance, having an unworldly quality of something not quite living. I do feel that the wash makes for a much more exciting piece but that perhaps it needs to be more subtle so that it looks believable.


I used the 3D Printer pen once again to fill in the craters of the foam and populate my “flesh” with little patches of hair. This time I used black filament to be more in keeping with the human association.

I particularly like the close up shots, both pieces are utterly disgusting (and I love it). I now need to search for my reasoning behind what I am doing as it seems to have escaped me. This is one occasion where the work comes before the meaning.

Until next time,


In the Studio – Expanding My Sights

After it being suggested that I look at the work of Nathalie Djurberg I decided to try and incorporate other materials into my sculptural work and started to look into the qualities of expanding foam.


Initially I used a cardboard box as a container for the foam and noticed that it had taken the form of a somewhat pot-bellied torso.


At this point I had decided to avoid going for a flesh tone as it felt too obvious a choice, it was only after completion of this piece did I realise that I wish I had in fact stuck to my gut instinct.

I chose a deep blue colour and had planned to paint some copper highlights into the this, akin to something from Avatar but a visit to Manchester Art Gallery soon changed that.

I was hugely inspired by the work of Maiko Takeda and in particular the ‘Atmospheric Re-entry head pieces’, 2013 (pictured above). I noted similarities in the thin and delicate strands of material used in Takeda’s work and the thin, hair-like quality that my 3D printer pen could produce.


I chose grey filament for this piece so that it would stand out against the dark colour of the ‘torso’, they were drawn with the 3D Printer Pen and then placed in the craters and crevices created through the foams expanding process.


It was at this point I wished I had used a skin tone instead of the blue but that’s another story!



Until next time,



In the Studio – Onwards and Upwards

Reflecting on the work I’ve made for the past few months perhaps now is the time remove the restrictive aspects of that line of enquiry so that I may continue making fresh work.

Firstly, purely focusing on the creation of 3D insect sculptures provides limitations in the few connotations that they embody, mainly those of fantasy that do not allow for artistic depth.

Second comes the issue of scale, the limitations of the 3D Printing Pen (in particular its short power cord and the difficulties of manoeuvring an extension lead around a piece)  very much determined the size of work I was able to make. The output of the pen was also an issue here, the filament that goes into the pen is 1.75mm in thickness and the output material thickness is entirely dependant on the speed that one works. For example, one 15cm square side of the clear 3D cube would take at least an hour to make. A task that soon became monotonous and tiresome. If only there was a larger (or ‘bold’) version of the 3D printer pen that ‘printed’ in much thicker strands.


In my most recent work I am removing the figure of the insect, I am removing the 3D Printer Pen as the primary element of my work. I want my work to feel less clumsy, as I look more toward sculpture and incorporate other materials into my line of enquiry – using the 3D Printer Pen to accentuate the work rather than be the sole aspect of it. I am also embarking on the journey of scaling up my work.


The two pieces shown here have been created with polystyrene bricks and gardening wire. This wire is tough and quite difficult to shape by hand. In order to establish a less clumsy aesthetic from the 3D Printer Pen I have used it only for the purpose of creating very thin strands, these have the same feel and appearance of hair. They are but a starting point, I’m not sure if they are successful or not yet – its early days!

Until next time,