Thursday, January 31, 2008

Self portraits 6 - 10

Quick one using non-waterproof Quink ink, and a skewer.

Acrylic on primed paper. I really wanted to have a go at my hair.

Diluted Indian ink washes using a brush (this one is my favourite for today).

Coloured pencils on black thick paper - based on this photo taken by Sunshine.

By now I'm bored - dip pen in Indian ink.

Can you tell which ones are from life, and which ones from photos? Which side my hair grip is on gives a clue. Also, as you can see, I was wrapped up in my red scarf today - its been mighty cold! 10 down and another 20 to go ...

Am working at college as a 'student ambassador' the next two days - so a break from the portraits. Also, if any of my readers are potential UWE illustration students and coming for route-A interviews tomorrow, do say hello!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Self portraits 1-5

... and I've got to do 30 in total in the next week! All for the next module, "Drawing from life", which starts in a couple of weeks. The brief was "using different materials and media". We also have to then take bits of the portraits and make a collage self-portrait ...

First one, based on this photo Sunshine took of me about a year ago. Done with my favorite coloured pencils.

Inspired by Janey, whose work I just adore - from life(ie mirror), using pen and marker.

From life - continuous (mostly) line drawing done blind, ie not looking at the paper.

From life again - sitting much closer to the mirror, lines are less continuous, and I let myself look each time I put the pen back on the page.

A pixiefied version of me (I don't actually look like that!) based on a photograph taken by my very close friend Ellie about 4 years ago. The reason my hair is all over the place is because I was leaning against a wall and slowly sliding down it - so my hair is 'static-ed' to the wall!

Number 5 took
just toooooo long ... I'm going to have to do easier and quicker things if I'm to get all 30 done in time (and the collage made!).

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Phew, so this is the last update for my Four Words projects : "Disperse" . I appologise for the quality of the photos - I really struggled with decent light as we haven't had a sunny day when I've been able to take photos (only sunny days when I've not!).

I'd initially wanted to do something to do with bird shaped kites. Ideally a set of them showing the different stages in 'wing flapping'. I did a lot of research into bird flight and was struggling with how I was going to make the kites. I started experimenting anyways, and one of my experimental paper birds I made out of an old envelope. The tutors liked that and suggested I go along that route. At Christmas I found this book on Sunshine's sister's bookshelf and borrowed it. I made a paper bird based on the instructions and loved how it came out, so started making more with my collection of envelopes, which after some decorating, evolved into the birds you see above. Each bird represents one of the countries that I have lived in. Each bird too is addressed “To Mithila Shafiq” in the language of that country (thank you mum and Tiu for the help!).

The British one : ‘Bristol, United Kingdom’ – as that’s where I live now and where this will be posted from.
The Malaysian one : ‘Johor, Malaysia’ – in ‘Jawi’ script. Johor is the state in Malaysia that I was brought up in.
The Bangladeshi one : ‘Dhaka, Bangladesh’ – in Bangla script. Dhaka is where I was born.

I linked my own feeling of dispersal (living in three different countries) with the idea of birds, flight and airmail; and decided this would be quite appropriate for the Mailmeart exhibition. One of my New Year's Art resolutions was to get my work 'out-there'; exhibited, sold, etc, and so I'd been looking at things I could submit my work for. The Mailmeart submission deadline is tomorrow so I thought this would be a great way to 'disperse' my work into the world! I made a mobile from the three birds and made an envelope/box for them to go inside. I also cut out a lino stamp that says "DISPERCE JAN 08" (yes, I've just realised that its spelt wrong! - damn! and I managed to cut my fingers twice while making it as well .... oh well ...).

CRIT: Tutors were mostly happy with this. When I handed it in though, the inside of the box was not decorated, and they said that it would be better if I'd put as much effort into the inside as the outside - so what you see in the bottom two pictures is where I have done a collage inside to show my 'migration routes'. Also they suggested it would have been better if I did the 'windows' with that funny plastic that they actually DO use on envelope windows (rather than the acetate sheets that I used). I would have loved to have if I could source a sheet that was big enough to cover the holes I had (and I personally think my acetate is a bit sturdier). The other thing one of the tutors said was "if you were a real genius, you would have designed your own stamps..." . Hmmm... that's true, I COULD have designed my own stamps, but I actually LIKE sourcing ephemera and I probably spent as much time trying to find just the right stamps (you'll notice they are all relevant to the theme but not necessarily birds), as I would have designing my own. It's a shame I had to resort to printing some of them as my trip to the local philatelic shop wasn't very fruitful.

Since the assessments, I've only just had a little time to finish off the inside of the box, try and take a few more pictures, work out a way to strap the mobile to the inside of the box so that it doesn't get too bashed about in the post, and then this afternoon, I finally sent it off! Y0u should have seen the look on the postoffice-girl's face ;) I hope it arrives safely and gets chosen for the exhibition and book of the exhibition.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


The third of the four words updates - "Balance". This is the one that I was the most clueless about ... "birds and balance?" ... couldn't quite come up with a decent idea. Then my tutors saw this (see the bottom of the post) and said to go with it ... so you get birds 'balanced' on things (I'd prefer to call this piece "Perched"!).

Anyways, whilst I was thinking and planning out silhouettes I could do, I realised that a lot of them fell kind of into one of three categories - urban, industrial, and natural, and that's roughly how the three panels work. I still can quite feel my right index finger from holding my scalpel for so long. But I'm pleased with how they came out.

CRIT: Tutors were very happy with this - they said to go from our last review to this was brilliant. They said the frame could do with a bit of work (draws your attention too much at the moment) and I completely agree, and we talked about how I could improve it by painting and distressing it to be closer in colour to the silhouettes. But thats it! :)

I'm off to hand in my essay today, and then to a funeral tomorrow and a wedding the day after so the last update will have to wait a bit (also because thats the piece I had the most trouble taking pictures of!)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Number two of the four words updates. This was my interpretation of the word "Enclose". I think its quite obvious the link from birds to eggs to show "enclose". I also wanted to do the life cycle of birds which is also an enclosed cycle, so I ended up making up each egg as a part the story of the life of a pair of birds. They are done with goose eggs (which were a nightmare to source - but got there in the end!) and I had Sunshine's little Dremmel drill and mini drill bits to help me cut and shape. Theres also a little bit of Sculpey clay for the eggs and a few other bits and bobs. Straw from the pet store!

From the top:
Migration - Note there are two birds heading north for the breeding season.
Territory marking - Birds sing and display to mark their nesting territory and attract a mate. Note the sun which signifies both sunrise, and alludes to the yolk in the egg.
Courtship and Mating - pretty obvious, yes? With a bright red heart and all!
Nest building and egg laying - The eggs I've painted to show another circle of life within the circle of bird life. They are based on these drawings (see bottom of entry) that the tutors loved.
Feeding - then little baby birdies need a LOT of food to be able to grow strong ... decided to do just the gaping mouths - as that all you can really see of a baby bird, isn't it?
Fledgling - Then the babies have to learn from the parents how to catch their own worms.

... and back to Migration - thats why there are three birds flying south for the winter.

The bottom two photos show how the eggs were presented, in a basket of straw.

CRIT : The tutors liked the concept and execution and all the little details. Minor crits were the red on the 3rd egg was too bright - and I agree ... I don't have a daylight-bulb and hadn't quite realised how bright the red looked in relation to the other colours. Need to re-paint in a toned down red. The musical note in a speech bubble too would have been better made from a piece of egg shell, rather than some sculpey - but I had no more bits of egg shell left! Also they said the basket let it down and I could have got away with just a nest. And I agree there too. I just couldn't source the perfect thing to display them in, and ended up with this basket. I think I'll keep looking for something better, or try and make up a sturdy nest that they can all go in.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Here we go with the next update (can you see how I'm avoiding writing my essay???) ... First of the Four Words briefs on my selected theme of 'Birds' - "Support".

After many permutations, my take on 'support' had become 'to support a cause', and the obvious one being the RSPB - who I'm a big fan of. I wanted to design a poster or something similar, that which you could then buy copies of to 'support' the RSPB. When talking this over with the tutors, this somehow morphed into making some kind of signage (the kind you get in zoos) - so there could still eventually be a version of the sign in poster form that you could buy, but you also got a sign, with 'supporting' info about the birds... etc ...

I eventually ended up with what you see above. The actual painting minus the info key on the right is about A2 size. I concentrated on my local area - the Avon Gorge - as its two minutes walk from where we live, and I had started to get to recognize the bird life there. Its done with acrylic on primed plywood. I had a sheet big enough to paint the main bit on, and realised that I had enough left over to do the birds on too (rather than paint the birds onto the main section). I spent a day at the woodwork studios breathing in saw dust whilst cutting all the little birdies out! Some of the birds are propped up on bits of doweling to give them a bit of height, and add interest. The numbers are also bits of doweling cut to size. The background is a kind of simplified version of the gorge with the Clifton Suspension Bridge in the background.

CRIT: Interestingly, this is the one piece that the tutors picked on to show my one big weakness - and its quite an interesting observation. They were happy with my execution of the work, but what they say that this piece lacked, which they saw a bit more on the other ones, was my influence on it. At first I didn't quite understand what they meant. I had chosen to do the gorge because its personal to me ... isn't that what they meant? But then one of them gave the example that if I'd taken the 'info key' bit, and rather than do a straight 'info-graphics' presentation, the way I had, I had instead done a story about the birds, or described a walk along the gorge or something - ie my take on an info-graphics poster/sign - rather than an actual info-graphics sign, they would have been much happier ...

And this is quite true of a lot of my art work - I don't 'play' enough with it ... They basically WANT me to be a bit playful and obscure and make connections that other people wouldn't have. Whilst I'm still at college and not doing actual commissions for the RSPB, there was nothing stopping me doing that, and the tutors WANT me to explore that side of myself.

Hmmm ... you're asking the ex-scientist to let loose here ... might be a little difficult .... but then again I have never had any problems 'letting-loose' when I was dancing. Well that's because dancing was never 'work' - it was fun and outside the realm of work. Illustration is now 'work', so everything has to be neat and tidy and perfect, and unfortunately, a bit 'obvious' too .... well not anymore! I've had my poke, and now I'm going to work on being more free and playful :)

What a great thing to be told at a crit - "You need to play more!" ... oh yes indeedy!

Note: I have three more words to blog about, but I've realised that the photos are not very good, so updates might have to wait till I get some better photos ... sorry ...


Phew! Its all finally over (apart from the Visual Culture essay which is due on Thursday, but I'm not really in writing mood right now, so you get updates instead!)

So, this is what I handed in as my final pieces for my pastiche of French poster artist Paul Colin. the top is from a picture of me from a performance long ago in my dancing days, and the bottom is based on some of my favourite Swedish dancers, Hanna Zetterman and Mattias Lundmark.

If you look back at my posts you'll see that I wasn't particularly happy with my last image - and I worked out the reasons why - ie Colin really exaggerates his proportions and there is a lot of variation in his lineweight. So I went back into the lithography studio and spent a whole day on two new images. This time too I used pen and lithographic ink (touche) instead of the lithographic crayon. I think these are better than the last one, but still not quite perfect ...

I did a presentation on Paul Colin, and why and how he had inspired me, and showed off my final pieces last Tuesday. The presentation went fine - I've done enough public speaking in my time! And the tutors were happy. The crit being that I need to work more on loosening up my drawings to really achieve work like his. Fortunately they also conceded that I managed far better (on the loosening up) in my sketchbook where I was practicing drawing, and the real hurdle had been dealing with drawing on lithographic plates.

On Tuesday too, everyone else presented - so 40+ artists works to discover and enjoy :) but it all took 9 hours to finish :d ... MAN were we all tired by the end of it ...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Don't panic!

This is just a quicky to say "I'm still here!" ... completely overwhelmed by work. The pastiche got presented and assessed on last Tuesday, but I've still got all four of the four words projects to hand in on Monday and an essay due on Thursday. On top of that we have Sunshine's grandma's funeral to attend on Friday and a wedding reception to go to on Saturday! Oh yes! Busy Busy ...

So, don't panic, I'm taking lots of photos and there will be a mass update in about a week, and also, I'm telling myself not to panic as I have only a few days left and a LOT of work still to do ... eeep!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Lets pickle Damien Hirst!

Back at school for spring term and we're shoved straight into a 2 day workshop of making a 'fanzine' - or anti-fanzine, or anything similar in concept that we wanted to do. We were divided into 5 groups and then picked a topic out of a hat - and our group got "Damien Hirst".

After a quick brainstorming and research session, we decided that since he's so famous for his cut up pickled animals, we were going to make a "pickle your own Damien Hirst" kit. And so off we went ...

Harry did the head, Mark the Torso, Christine the arms, Charlotte the legs, Luke the labels on the jar, and I made the 'Free diamantes' label and an instruction sheet for the kit. If you have a facebook account, you should be able to see the pictures here on our UWE illustration group page.

Here's what Damien looks like all assembled:

And here's my contributions: The instruction sheet,
the 'Free Diamantes' voucher, the Hazard labels (which read: "CAUTION:CONTAINS FORMALDEHYDE. Toxic by inhalation and if swallowed. To be used only by authorised professional artists. May cause sensitisation to the media and critics. Repeated or prolonged exposure increases risk of egotistical behaviour.), and of course sourcing the scientificy bottles and gloves and the actual jar.

I must say that I really enjoyed doing this collaborative work, especially with such talents as those on my course. I think Damien went down very well with the rest of the course too. We had 4 other equally wonderful fanzines produced in the last day and a half.

I've also been up to a lot with projects over the holidays - its all 'work in progress' so I'll update as I hand things in for assessment ...

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Us!

* the graffiti was a white-out drawing of a cat and the words "... just looking at the lights...".

Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year and a wonderful 2008!

Lots of love from Mr and Mrs Sunshine-to-be ;)