22 August 2014

I'm moving


Rather than having my stuff appearing under various names across the internet, I'm trying to make life easier and bring everything under my own name.

I'm still on Blogger, but here's my new blog address (or you can clock the arrow above). The buttons at the side still work but the Bloglovin and feed one will link to the new location.

Thank you :)

6 August 2014

Make It In Design summer school

To keep me going over the summer months I signed up for the Make It In Design summer school. There are three tracks - beginning, intermediate and advanced - each consisting of three briefs over 6 weeks. I wasn't sure what level I was at so I signed up for all three, figuring at least one would be do-able. Turned out they were all within my comfort level so it really came down to starting with the one I found most interesting, the Retro Geometric, then moving on from there.

I'd had an idea simmering away for, what I thought was going to be, a simple geometric pattern. This turned out to be one of the most time consuming, headache inducing pieces I've worked on, and yet it looks so simple. After that I just wanted to do something more free flowing and painterly, so the Water Rays came about from that. I still had some time left and remembered that I had some unused drawings from MATS and thought I might be able to use them for a Tropical Paradise piece.Turns out this last one was the most fun to do, probably because I already knew I had two finished pieces.

I actually managed to do a forth pattern. I'd had a second idea for the Water Rays pattern but wanted to make it a repeat and couldn't face tackling that immediately after the nightmare geometric. It was heading for the 'to finish' pile but I decided to give it a go. I've called it Surface Waves.

3 August 2014

Daily lettering summary 18 - 35

I'm really enjoying my daily lettering project but I keep forgetting to blog about it, but I do post daily updates on Instagram @nancy_mckenzie.

I'm off and running on the Make It In Design Summer course now. It was hard to resist, 3 tracks (beginner, intermediate and advanced), each with three briefs and it's free. I signed up for all three tracks as I wasn't sure which level would suit me best. A by product of this is that I can go with whichever brief interests me the most. I'm hoping to not get too bogged down with them, to keep them quite light and use them to play around with different techniques.   

22 July 2014

July Bootcamp - beverages

Hmmmm, I really struggled with this assignment. I struggled to find inspiration and the summer holidays meant that my brain had shifted down a gear into holiday mode. I don't even have a favourite beverage and I don't have any groovy cups or china to draw. Eventually I just decided what I wanted to draw (blue and white china) and went with that.

Style wise, I think I reverted to a comfortable familiar style rather than pushing forward and trying out new things, but that was to do with having limited time to work because of summer holiday stuff. The class as usual produced a diverse array of work, you can see the class gallery here.

That was the last Bootcamp assignment. It's been a great framework and community to work within and I'd highly recommend it. People were doing the class for all sorts of different reasons, some people had full time jobs and Bootcamp was their way of doing personal projects, others were just looking for some light structure to their work process, and others were using it as the first stepping stone in a much hoped for creative career. It was also a great intro for the more intense MATS courses. I did 2 months of Bootcamp and felt confident enough to sign up for MATS A. The change of pace was quite marked and I think I would have struggled at the beginning if I hadn't already done a couple of months of Bootcamp.

I'm hoping to keep the momentum up. I've got a couple of projects I'm hoping to rework and I want to have a re-read over the MATS A coursework before I do part B in October. I've set aside a lot of personal projects 'to do' so I'll hopefully get to some of those, and I'm still doing Nautical stuff ... it really is the theme that keeps on giving :D


20 July 2014

More bingo lingo

The school holidays, World Cup and good weather (hot enough for my daughter to venture into the North Sea without a wet suit) have been distracting me and I've been forgetting to post about my daily lettering project. I'm having much more fun with the bingo calls, they're making me think a bit more obtusely about imagery and writing styles that might suit the images.

It's the final Bootcamp submission this week and I really struggled with it. We had to create a piece based on our favourite beverage but I had a bit of a tumbleweed moment with it... nothing was inspiring me. Eventually I just chose something I wanted to draw and went with that. I'll post it next week as we've been asked to not share our work before the deadline. 

6 July 2014


After finishing off the alphabet I was looking around for something to use for my daily lettering project. I thought I might pick a word that seemed relevant to that day (summer holidays and Dolly Parton on these ^^^ days) but with so much choice I knew I'd end up wasting time deciding which word to choose. I needed something more fixed, something I couldn't argue with.

I was flicking through a book and found a list of traditional (UK only, I think) bingo calls so I gave them a go. They're great to work with because there's a number to do as well, and, if the phrase suggests it, I can do a little illustration as well. Much more interesting than the alphabet.


28 June 2014

Week 3-ish hand lettering S - Z

Just finished off the alphabet. Was itching to do words but tried to be patient. Can you tell I was getting a wee bit bored towards the end? I'm keen to keep going with this though as I think it is making me think about letters in a different way.


19 June 2014

Week 2 handlettering G-R

This is actually last week's letters, I just forgot to post them. I found my interest dwindling a bit last week week. Not in the project as a whole, just doing a letter a day. I blame K,O,P and Q. O and Q because the round shapes didn't have any ends to play about with and K,O,P because the upper and lower case letters are the same.

I'm a bit surprised that even though I've only been doing it for a short while, I think the lettering project is making a difference. I had to create some lettering for the nautical pieces I made and I was aware of feeling more sure about how to tackle it. 

18 June 2014

June Bootcamp - Wall art

This month's market was wall art and the theme was ship in a bottle/nautical. Nautical is everywhere at the moment but that doesn't make it any less fun to work on. It's really rich theme and one I've returned to over the years because I've always been interested in sea lore and mythology. My dad came from a family of fishemen and when we visited them it was like visiting another country. Their homes and customs seemed so different; they would have buoys and nets hung up outside the house, and strange things like skrimshaw on the mantlepiece, and they used shells as ashtrays. To the 7 year old me, it was fascinating and so exotic. 

Initially I was a bit overwhelmed by the amount of ideas and drawings I had, so I decided the best thing to do was to get them out in one piece (Nautical still life, above) and then, if I had time, work on some simpler pieces aimed more at the children's market (Ship in a Bottle and Whale, below).

When I was doing the still life I started thinking I might have enough drawings for an a-z. I really liked the edges of some of the shapes I was using in the still life and thought they might work well in a grid structure for an a-z, so I set them up then filed them away in a 'to do' file. I was planning to do a kind of cabinet of curiosities composition but after doing the whale picture I could see how a similar treatment might work well in the grid I'd set up, so decided to give the a-z a go.

It took a bit of time to think of 26 icons which I liked, but after that it all came together quite easily. I had to draw some new icons, then, for the sake of continuity, I had to re-draw some of my existing icons. I was mainly thinking boy's room when I was working on the piece (because I have son and know the frustration of trying to track down some decent non-dino/truck/camo/football decor) but really my intention was to make it suitable for both a girl or a boy's room and I think I managed that.

This has been a really rich theme to explore and I think there is still more to do, but I think I'm going to have to call it a day till the next assignment. Our schools break for summer on the 27th,so I need to get a few things organised before then. Plus my daughter's finishing primary and moving onto secondary, so there's a lot of 'leavers' stuff going on .... and there's the World Cup, of course :D


2 June 2014

Week 1 hand-lettering A-F

This week I've done A - F. Not that exciting but I've learned a lot just playing with the shape of the letters.

I enjoy doing these in the morning before the kids get up, it's like doing my morning stretches. Doing F the day after doing E was a bit boring tbh - too similar.