Watch Me Draw: Santos Grocery in Brooklyn

Spotted this colourful yellow storefront in Brooklyn - I loved how the bright yellow sign stood out from the rest of the building and new I wanted to draw it right away. I also wanted to try something new with my sketchbook! I’m so into that thing where artists will fill ENTIRE PAGES of their sketchbooks, rather than respect the borders, so I decided to give that a go. Check it out:

Spent a chunk of this rainy Sunday afternoon to sketch in a cafe - I’m trying my best to fill up entire sketchbook pages and it’s such a fun challenge!

Behind-the-Scenes: The Stages of a House Portrait Illustration

Whenever I see an illustration I like, I’m always really curious how it got put together. It kind of feels like that thing where someone tells you their job and they’ll often use words like “coordinator” and “liase” and “outreach” and “development” and “capital” and you’re like, ah, yes, sure, but … what do you do??? At your desk??? When you sit down on a Monday morning? (I, uh, don’t understand a lot of jobs. I’ll be honest.)

Anywho, I wonder if anyone feels the equivalent of that when I’m like “I finished this illustration!” because I sure as heck do when I see other illustrators post their pieces. So! I figured I’d show you a little step-by-step of how it all gets put together.

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I’ve been wanting to illustrate this particular house for a little while now. I think it’s on Gladstone just south of Dundas, but as you can see, there’s snow on the ground in this picture, and it’s currently April, so I took this picture quite a while ago and my memory only goes back about three hours — so we’ll never really know where this is.

But I love it and how cute and colourful it is! I had to illustrate it!

I start off by first sketching it out. This takes forever as I’ll often finish a drawing and be like, “dang it, it’s on the whole LEFT side of the page? have I ever heard of centering something???” and I’ll have to erase and re-draw it all. But I skipped all the erasing and re-drawing pictures to impress you guys. Look! A finished sketch! That definitely only took me one try to get correct and absolutely did not take me like seven tries to get all the proportions correct, why would you even think that!

I use two different pens to ink in the illustration after - I’ll make another separate post about the particular pens I use and whatnot, but basically a nice not-too-thicc-but-not-too-thin inky boy* for the main lines, and a super thin lil guy* for the details like bricks and the boards on porches, etc.

* I didn’t go to art school, but I’m assuming those are the correct technical terms.

And then on with the painting! The way I paint is a little bit slower because I almost always let the paint dry in between layers. Watercolour is a super versatile medium - you can let different colours swirl in with each other when they’re still wet and you can create lovely gradients, or you can layer ‘em up kind of like I do and create different effects.

So basically what I’m doing here is creating kind of a lighter base-layer of paint. But you see how in the original picture, it’s a bit more shadow-y on the porch and stuff? I’ll go on top of that, and add a slightly darker layer on top of that. Is there a word for that? I dunno. Again, no art school, so… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Then I’ll go overtop the dried base-layer and add in more details, like bricks and shadows.

Then I’ll add a reaaaaally really light beige-y grey wash to add shadows to parts of the house that are ‘white’ - they’re never really white, and this little subtle bit makes a pretty big difference in making a cartoon-y illustration have a lot more depth to it.

And then, all the final bits! These last bits, like that very faint shadow on the white parts of the house, make the greatest impact, I find. If the house isn’t too busy, I dot in the shingles with a small wet brush. (The only time I won’t do it is if a house is built with panels that have lines across or anything else that would just make it too busy or scattered.) And then I paint in the windows — I start off with a blotchy blue-purple wash that’s dotted on in thick watery globs, and then I add very dark, very thin lines across to give the illusion of a window pane reflecting back.

And voila! All done.

Let me know if you dig this kind of thing and if you’d be into more of them, or if you think I am the nicest & best & funniest. Those are the only two types of comments I will accept, please and thank u (you can also comment both if u so please, I SUPPOSE).

A weekend in New York

Went to New York for a few days and I friggin LOVED it. Did you know that New York is VERY big and VERY good and that I want to move there immediately???

I also did a tiny bit of sketching, both there in NYC but also here back home at my desk. I find it really hard to sketch in public — I get embarrassed so easily and feel very self-conscious drawing in public, as if the girl from grade 5 who was mean to me is lurking in the bushes just WAITING for me to take out my sketchbook so she can jump out and say “what is THAT! u think ur an ~artist~?” but it turns out she’s not and you really can just take out your sketchbook and draw and no one friggin cares. So that was nice.

I’ll be posting some more post-NYC sketches soon, but for now, here are some I’ve done so far:

Riso Printing Workshop

Last night I tried out a risograph printing workshop at Colour Code Printing. I’ve always wanted to try riso out but didn’t want to do it without knowing how it kind of works (it’s basically like if a photocopying machine and a screenprinting machine had a bébé) and so I figured a workshop was the perfect way to try it out. Because I guess I like just hurling myself into the unknown, I also decided to try printing a digital illustration despite the fact that I have never done a digital illustration before???? While I’m still not really sure what I was thinking, I’m kind of glad I did it? It’s nice to stick your hands into something you’ve never tried before!

2 spooky 4 me

The Conjuring is a SCARIER movie than I EXPECTED and I am only HUMAN okay?????? ALSO this is my first ever comic drawn on an iPad?????? which is why it looks kind of..... not great. I’m LEARNING but very very very slowly

I love how messy and fun these colour testing strips turn out! Right now I use them as thank you notes to slip into orders, but I kind of would like to turn them into something else at some point…

Perfect, quiet, happy studio mornings.

My favourite part of the day is eating breakfast at the little dining nook in my kitchen and looking through the little cut-out in the wall into my studio and planning all the things I’m going to do that day. My least favourite part of the day is getting off of the chair at the dining nook because anyone who’s been to my apartment will know that the dining nook and the chairs were built and left by the previous tenants who happened to be, like, SEVEN FEET TALL and so the chairs are VERY hard to clamber on and off of. But, uh, I digress. Mornings. They’re nice. I like ‘em.

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It is never not a delight to open up my email or my Instagram and see a photo from a previous client like this one. I am always thrilled to see a finished piece next to its real-life counterpart. Please do not ever stop sending me pictures like this, guys!!!

December Vlog // new merch, commissions, and orders, oh my!

Take a peek at what a bit of early December looked like for me, including a speedpaint of one of my new east end illustrations (The Witch’s House!), unwrapping some new merchandise that came in (two postcards and notebooks - my favourite thing to order!) as well as some commission work and order packing. It’s such a bonkers time of year for me, but I really love the busy-ness and the rush of it.

I was at the Toronto Art Crawl Christmas Market yesterday, which takes place at The Great Hall on Queen Street. Boy oh boy, is it a beautiful venue! However, to be completely honest and fair, you could put fairy lights on a garbage dump and I’d take a picture and put it on Instagram, let’s be real. But seriously - being up on a balcony and getting to people watch all day long while ALSO getting to meet so many lovely people all day long? Uh, fantastic.

A BlogTO Article! About lil old me!

So YESTERDAY I was just sitting on my couch, MINDING MY OWN BUSINESS, when BlogTO reached out and asked if they could interview me for an ARTICLE that they were writing? I am…still shaking!

You can read the article by clicking here — let me know what you think! I’m beyond thrilled and grateful. A huge thanks to Tanya Mok from BlogTO from writing such a lovely piece about me.

New notebooks!

With Christmas markets on the way, I put together a new notebook design featuring all of Toronto’s famous animals. It’s available in both lined and plain paper which is so exciting (and it’s recycled paper, too! woohoo!)

Well, it’s Christmas market season now, and while these boxes all normally live out in the garage (yes, I am VERY LUCKY to live in an apartment that’s got some storage space for me to cram all my market stuff into), they’re getting a little action by staying out in the hallway for the next few weeks instead as it’s just too much to cart them back and forth from the garage to the house.

Anyway - this is all to say that this is what my hallway’s gonna look like for the next, like, five weeks.

Just working away on this little blue guy this afternoon!

If you’ve seen the storefronts I’ve drawn up until now, you can probably make a super-safe assumption that I live in the west end because, uh… everything I’ve drawn is in the west end? Over the past few months I’ve been asked where all my east end stuff is, and that’s a GOOD heckin’ question. I finally added some new east end portraits to the mix and I’m really happy with how they turned out!