Monday, 1 March 2021

DIGITAL DRAWING

As well as working on my painting skills, I have been trying my hand at digital drawing and it is SO MUCH FUN! I'm lucky enough to get to borrow my boyfriend's iPad Pro which has Procreate on it, a very cool digital illustration app.

When I first started drawing digitally I was RUBBISH, and seriously overwhelmed by all of the available brushes and tools. You draw onto the ipad with an apple pencil, and it has a screen cover which feels like you are drawing on paper, but it's still pretty intimidating if you don't know what you are doing. Thanks to lockdown, I've had lots of time to practice though, and while I've still got a long way to go, I'm pretty happy with where I'm going!


The beauty of digital drawing is the magical delete button. If you do something wrong, or it doesn't quite look right, just delete it! And you can copy and paste, resize, use fancy texture brushes, whatever you like! 

I've found because I've been working on using traditional media (watercolours and gouache paintings) as well as digital drawings, progress I've made in one area has really benefitted others. I've practiced anatomy and capturing likeness in my paintings, which makes faces look better in my procreate paintings. I've experimented and stopped being afraid of making mistakes digitally, which means I can take what works and apply it the next time I paint something. It's been such an amazing learning tool!


Another fun feature of procreate is that you can see a timelapsed recording of your art - which is very helpful if you, like me, are making it up as you go along, and then can watch it back to see what did/didn't work! You can see a timelapse of my Valentine drawing on insta here.

I'm a big fan of bright and bold colours and characters, so I draw a lot of cool girls, but it still feels like such a novelty to produce something that actually looks like a person. I have been trying to wean myself just off painting pinterest models (this video made me think about the references I'm using), although it is easy to get suckered in by the beautiful styling! 

I think my next challenge is trying to get more confident in digital techniques (up until now I've used the same approach, whether it's paint or on screen), and work towards finding that ever elusive 'style'.

Monday, 22 February 2021

HOW TO: BAKE A JAPANESE STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE

I am a pretty lazy baker these days, but I had to share this recipe for my new favourite cake! This is a beautifully light and soft sponge (which was decorated for my SnowRunner-loving boyfriend, construction vehicle decoration is optional!). I actually doubled the recipe below to make a mega cake, so scale up if you want a cake with height!

Heads up - this recipe involves leaving the cake to rest overnight before decorating/eating, so if you are looking for a cake to bake today, you will have to skip this step. 


You will need:

Cake 
  • 3 large eggs
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 100g plain flour
  • 40ml milk
  • 25g unsalted butter
Syrup
  • 60ml water
  • 30g sugar

Icing
  • 300ml fresh whipping cream
  • 20g sugar


Start by preheating your oven to 170°C and grease and line a 7 inch cake tin.

Separate the egg yolk and egg whites (it's actually easiest to do this with your hands!).  Place the egg whites in a large clean bowl and then, using an electric mixer on medium speed, gradually add the sugar into the bowl. Beat the egg whites and sugar together until stiff peaks form.

Still using the mixer, add the egg yolks into the egg white and sugar mixture. 

Then, using a big spatula, gently fold the sifted flour through this mixture until it is all mixed in. Be careful not to over-mix at this point, you want to keep all of that lovely air in the batter! 

Take a small bowl, and mix the milk and melted butter together. Now, take a small amount of the egg white mixture and stir it into the milk and melted butter. Mixing a bit of the batter with milk and butter stops the dairy from deflating the batter - the mission is to keep your sponge as airy as possible! Then add the milk/butter/batter to the rest of the egg white mixture and stir until its all mixed in.

Pour the cake batter into your cake tin, and bake for 35-40 minutes (you'll know it's ready when a skewer or sharp knife comes out of the cake clean). Resist the urge to open your oven when it is baking!

Once the cake's done, drop the cake tin onto your kitchen counter (this breaks the steam bubbles inside the cake and means your cooled cake will have a better structure). Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely. When it's cool, wrap in clingfilm and leave at room temperature overnight - this makes for a tastier cake!

The next day,  slice the cake in half (I chose to double the recipe and used two separate cake pans so I skipped this step). Mix the water and sugar to make a syrup, and brush this onto the two cut sides of sponge. 

Whip the cream and sugar until it's nice and fluffy, then decorate your cake. In the middle I layered cream, then sliced strawberries, then more cream, and I piped cream on top. Enjoy!

Monday, 15 February 2021

PAINTING (AGAIN!)

This blog has been many things, over the years. It's weird to look back at old posts (my first post was TEN YEARS AGO!) and see a snapshot of baby Juliet, and try to equate that with where I am today. I'm definitely less comfortable about sharing all my woes (I keep my over-sharing in person, these days) and I've (obviously) grown up pretty considerably in the last decade, but otherwise I feel pretty similar. I'm just making my way through the world, trying to have a nice time! 

One thing that has stayed pretty consistent over the years is my enthusiasm for making art... although my ability has been pretty inconsistent! It has been the real light of my lockdown though, and as I have nothing else to chat about, I thought I'd start sharing my drawings here too (but you can also follow me on instagram if you'd like!).

I've been painting pretty much every week of the pandemic, and I've worked really hard to learn new skills and get better. One of the ways I've measured how I'm improving is to return to old pieces and re-paint them, so I thought it would be fun to show off two of the portraits I had previously blogged about here: 2018 Creative Goals


One of the biggest differences I've made is learning how to actually draw a human skull - I am finally getting a better grasp of anatomy and it is really, really helping. Before I used to try and sketch based on the picture in front of me, now I sketch out shapes to map out what the skull and jaw look like, and how the features fall into position. 

I've also started painting on a bigger scale (one of the joys in having a hobby I talk about a lot, means my Birthday and Christmas presents were filled with incredible art things!), so now I have a proper table easel to use and lovely watercolour paper, so I have more space to fit in details, and a much better canvas to work from.

2020 vs 2016

And here's how I'm improving! I painted the left portrait last summer, so I already feel like I've grown since then. I've still not exactly cracked how to paint hair (although I am SO much better than past Juliet who avoided it completely), but it's been so rewarding - especially during the pandemic - to feel like I've got a creative outlet and I'm achieving something. I think I would have seriously struggled over the last 12 months if I hadn't found art again.

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

STAR TREK CHRISTMAS CARDS

 Hello! This year's been a funny old thing, hasn't it? I've been working from home for the last eight months, a bit jealous of anyone who's been furloughed (I do like my job, and I am very grateful to still have it, but it has been a bit intense and knackering) and somehow even though it's pitch black at 3pm, it still feels like it could be April and this was all a big fever dream?

I'm trying hard to find JOY and appreciate the good things in life (when really I just miss my pals, and would kill to drink a pint, indoors, with friends), so with happiness in mind I have thrown myself into trying to feel festive! The Christmas tree is up, I have completed my Christmas shopping (and it's all wrapped and already under the tree, what is wrong with me), and my Netflix watch list has their entire festive catalogue ready to go.

The other way I've been coping this year is art! I'm not sure what it is about a global pandemic that has inspired me to paint, but that is now pretty much my only hobby. And I'm definitely getting better! If you remember my old attempts (hello), you might notice a difference

So that brings me to my new favourite thing - STAR TREK CHRISTMAS CARDS!

I am a big Star Trek fan, so I just drew these for fun. Some of the puns ('make it snow') were already out there, but it took a long time to come up with 'I'm Dreaming of a Free Bajor'! I am really proud of them, so it took only the smallest amount of encouragement to get them printed, and then set up an Etsy store to sell them.

I was really nervous to see if they'd print okay (they did!) and then nervous about whether anyone would buy them (they did!!) and that it wasn't all an awkward burst of over-enthusiasm (it wasn't! thank goodness). 

If you have a sci-fi fan in your life, maybe you'd like to buy some? You can do so here - Etsy - Juliet Paints, and if you'd like to keep up with my art insta (which is updated much more than this poor blog), you can find that here - Instagram - Juliet Paint

I always knew shopping small and supporting local businesses was a good thing, but I really didn't realise how genuinely GIDDY I'd feel every time I got a sale notification, it really means a lot. So if you do buy something, thanks!! 

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

LIFE IN LOCKDOWN

Well, here we are. I'm currently on day 40 of lockdown, and can probably list the number of times I've left the flat on my fingers. It's such a cliche to say we live in unprecedented times, but jeezo, has there ever been anything quite like this?



Here's the good news. My friends and family are safe and well. I've still got a job and I no longer have to commute to work. I feel very lucky to be spending lockdown in my lovely flat, although I am furiously jealous of everyone who has access to a garden. I'm doing yoga and it's done wonders for my mental health. I got a kitten (more on that soon!) and she is a JOY and a perfect distraction from all of this. I've connected with old pals, and thanks to video chat, my social life feels as busy as ever. I have millions of books to read, and I'm a bit of a homebody anyway, so being told to stay indoors isn't actually that taxing. I am working very hard to not panic about things that are out of my control, and focus only on the things in my own sphere.

And the bad? Bloody hell, look at it. I have driven myself mad by obsessively reading, listening and watching the news and feeling frantic about the what if's, and the what might be's. I live in a busy part of the city and there's always just people everywhere, I am pining for the countryside. I am relieved to still be working, but a bit jealous of everyone that's furloughed, which feels like a pretty selfish thing to say. Our cinemas have closed and the film festival has been postponed, which means all of the exciting things we've been working on have just stopped. I can't imagine how or when things might return to normal, and I'm curious and scared of what the new normal will be.

So, how do you cope with this omnishambles and keep your calm? If you know the answer, please tell me! I'm now trying to lean into wholesome living and stop myself if I spiral into apocalyptic thinking - what can I do if it takes 18 months to get a vaccine and there's no immunity and society collapses? (AHH.)

Instead, I am giving myself permission to do whatever it takes to feel calm and have a measure of control, which in my case is: buying flowers constantly (if I'm stuck inside, it better look nice); doing popsugar fitness videos (body pain dulls anxious brain!); ordering weekly deliveries from my local bakery; watching stuff for teenagers on Disney+; immersing myself in fantasy books; taking 1,000 photos of the cat; and bailing on video pub quizzes (because I am QUIZZED OUT, who does this many quizzes in real life?).

And I guess, I am also dipping my toe into a cautious return to blogging? It is pretty therapeutic to write your angsty thoughts down, I recommend it. Until next time, stay safe, and stay at home.