Phox Pop | Interview

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Phox Pop | Interview

Phox Pop Magazine | Interview with The Hungry Child

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This past spring, I had the honour of being interviewed by Amy Freeborn, founder of Phox Pop magazine, on some of the research I’ve been doing for The Hungry Child. Specifically, my banana research and the elusive etymological origins of Musa balbisiana. Read the interview below to learn more or grab yourself a copy of the second issue of Phox Pop, online or at selected retailers.

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Thank you, Amy, for having me.

Click image(s) to read the interview

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Phox Pop is a printed magazine about thinkers, seekers, makers, and doers. Through carefully-crafted words and striking images, we tell the stories of ambitious and inspiring people, and their creative and curious pursuits. Inside our pages you will find tales of and by people from fields including art, science, history, exploration, and experimentation. We like to think of ourselves as a cabinet of curiosities in paper and ink form. Phox Pop magazine is a free-range selection of stories that we would like to read ourselves, and we hope you will, too.

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A 100 Days of Botany: Week 03

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A 100 Days of Botany: Week 03

WEEK 03

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There's something quite lovely about The 100 Day Project, the commitment to show up each day to create. This year, I gave myself an easier task than last year, a 100 days of finding a creative way to share something on botany each day. Which went really well for the first 14 days or so and then I got a little fed up of sharing tidbits. I'm a sucker for long research sessions and getting to the bottom of things—or at least I try—and spending quite a bit of time on each article I undertake. My illustrations develop faster, but I do have a trip up point there as well. I've been illustrating plants for about a year and a half now, and in the beginning I was quite happy with drawing the generic versions of those plants, but around December (2015) I wasn't any longer. I wanted to illustrate the specific, the fine details that truly set very closely related species, and their infraspecific taxa, within a genus apart. Which meant I needed excellent reference material and the correct information on that reference material. Because true botanical illustration, however simplistic or complex it is drawn, needs to accurately represent the morphology of a plant.

One thing I really enjoy about the work I do is that for large parts of it, it isn't about me. But, sharing things daily about what  I know and learn about plants takes that away. And, there is a beauty about keeping what you've learned just a bit longer to yourself. To let it brew, to question it, to make connections whilst doing so.

So, this week I shared a little less, researched a lot more, and probably got a less sleep because it was good to be in full on article mode once more. Why do this project, if I don't like sharing on such a consistent base—if I need time to reflect. Partly because I'm an ambitious dummy when it comes to the scale of my projects and partly because projects like these connect me to a larger community. It's a way to find your people and to discover new work. Because creating in the dark can be damn right scary, but there's breathing space as well. And, even when it's nice to share your progress, I don't want my drive to create to depend on each like.

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Let's see how the next week unfolds. Create on.

Julie


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Day 15

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Day 15 on Instagram

DAY 16

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Plants_Musa_Karat_Unripe_Illustration_Julie Smits.png

DAY 17

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Day 17 on Instagram

DAY 18

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Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 22.27.30.png

Day 18 on Instagram


DAY 19

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Plants_Cavendish Banana_Illustration_Julie Smits

Day 19 on Instagram


DAY 20 + 21

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I posted Day 20, 21, 22, and 23 simultaneously as it was the combination of a brand new article 'How to Name a Banana' and a new illustration.


Follow Along on Instagram

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More on The 100 Day Project

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A 100 Days of Botany: Week 02

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A 100 Days of Botany: Week 02

WEEK 02

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The second week of the project was challenging in several ways. There were a few days were I wanted to give up because I didn't know how to fit everything in. Which can either drag you down or you learn new ways of navigating. When to work, when not to, when to go all out, and when to take a rest. Somehow I figured it out, enough to keep creating. Sometimes just toughing it out is the reward in itself, that and watching your skill develop as you tackle illustration after illustration. So, let's see how this third week will kick and stretch itself out.

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Have an awesome third week of creating!

Julie


DAY 08

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Day 08 on Instagram + Video + Ello


DAY 09

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Day 09 on Instagram + Ello

DAY 10

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Day 10 on Instagram + Ello


DAY 11

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Day 11 on Instagram

DAY 12

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Day 12 on Instagram


DAY 13

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Day 13 on Instagram + Ello

DAY 14

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Plants_Musa_Karat_01_Illustration_Julie Smits.png

Day 14 on Instagram


FOLLOW ALONG ON INSTAGRAM

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More on the 100 day Project

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A 100 Days of Botany: Week 01

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A 100 Days of Botany: Week 01

Week 01

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I set out to create 'A 100 Days of Botany' for this year's 'The 100 Day Project'. To find a creative way each day to share something on botany, wether that be through illustration, text, or both. This way, instead of committing to a hundred botanical illustrations as I did last year, I allow myself room to breathe. Room to say: today, I'm too busy to spend hours and hours on research and write and finish an article, or start and finish an illustration, but all I need to do is show up and find an interesting way to share something on botany. It doesn't have to be an article, it doesn't have to be an illustration. The commitment is this: SHOW UP. That's all, show up and create. If there's room and time, then go all out, if there isn't, then create something small.

As always, requests welcome.  Is there a plant, a botanical terms, or a botanist you'd like to know more about, or something interesting you might want to share instead, then leave a comment to let me know about it or reach out on social media. If it sounds interesting, I'll do my best to incorporate it in my project.

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Have an awesome second week of creating!

Julie


Day 01

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Julie Smits_Illustration_Grapes.png

Day 01 on Instagram

Day 02

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Day 02 on Instagram + Article


Day 03

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Day 03 on Instagram + Ello


Day04

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Day 04 on Instagram + Ello


Day 05

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Julie Smits_The Hungry Child_Perennial.png

Day 05 on Instagram + Article


Day 06

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Julie Smits_Plants_Illustration_Pineapple-Leaves.png

Day 06 on Instagram + Ello


Day 07

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Day 07 on Instagram +  Ello


Follow along on Instagram

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More on the 100 day Project

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A 100 Days of Botany

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A 100 Days of Botany

The 100 Day Project

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Doing the 100 day project last year taught me a lot. I learned new techniques, new ways of loving plants, but mostly I learned just how much illustration work I could get done in a day. 

Life got more than a bit hectic, so the project halted around day 42. The level of detail I wanted to create in my botanical art, simply didn't fit in a single day. But, this year isn't about finishing something each day, but about sharing something each day. Each day I'll find a way—through illustration, text, or any combination there of—to share something interesting and little known about the plants we use in our daily lives.

I'll post my progress weekly here, but if you'd like to follow along daily, you can do so on Twitter, Ello, and Instagram. I'll be using the hashtags #eachdaybotany and #a100daysofbotany. So, what about you? What would you do with a 100 days of creating?

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On Botany

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On Botany

You can now find an entire section on botany on the site—with botanical terms, and overviews of taxonomical and morphological terms, as well as a growing plant profile index.

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New Layout + Shop

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New Layout + Shop

I treated the site to a new lay out, and a shop page. If you'd like to buy one of my prints, you can do so here. If you'd like a print not currently offered or a different size, feel free to get in touch. Prints are Giglée quality printed on Hahnemühle paper at The Print Space in London. Each purchase is printed on demand, with the possibility of worldwide shipping. Alternatively you can pick up your print in store

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Nutrition Stripped + The Hungry Child

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Nutrition Stripped + The Hungry Child

Style Your Screen

A couple of months ago, Nutrition Stripped had an open call for designers and/or illustrators to contribute to their monthly 'Style Your Screen'. Thinking it could be fun to do, I sent over my portfolio, and received an enthusiastic email in return and the June slot for the monthly 'Style Your Screen'. I went all out with bright and saturated colours to create a summery and tropical backdrop for your screen. And, I'm really happy that after having it as my own background for several weeks, I can now share it with the rest of you. 

If you'd like to download it, go on over to Nutrition Stripped.

With hunger and love,

Julie

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The 100 Day Project: Week 04

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The 100 Day Project: Week 04

A 100 BOTANICAL ILLUSTRATIONS IN A 100 DAYS

TheHungryChild-Illustration-Medlar-Ink

Day 22

'Medlar' Mespilus germanica

Drawn from reference

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When I draw from reference I like to mix up the photos I'm referencing, either by having several open in tabs or other devices or by pasting several of my references on a mood board. I like to set this challenge, so that I'm not copying one image. For this medlar illustration, the fruits came from two different reference sources, and so did the leaves, but I took a bit more liberty with the rendition of the leaves, when I saw how artist Sarah Simblet drew a branch of Medlar for her co-authored book: The New Sylva.

The illustration was built by pencils and diluted ink. Drawn with a busted and gnarly pen nib, a newer sharper one, and painted with a soft round number 6 brush. I wrote a little about this fruit in my latest journal entry.

TheHungryChild-Illustration-Medlar-Watercolour

Day 23

'Medlar' Mespilus germanica

Drawn from reference

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The colour was built with a mix of homemade food dyes—red and yellow onion peels—Daler & Rowney Acrylic artist ink,  Sennelier's shellac inks, and Mont Blanc green ink (originally bought to fill a fountain pen).

TheHungryChild-Illustration-Pea
TheHungryChild-Illustration-Pea

Day 24

'Peas' Pisum sativum

Drawn from life

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Two versions, two experiments, and still not entirely happy how both turned out, so I'll return to it in a little while and give it another go.

TheHungryChild-Illustration-Avocado

Day 25

'Avocado' Persea americana

Drawn from life

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These avocados were almost entirely painted with one colour of ink, a Mont Blanc green ink, that I've been very happy to rediscover in my paint locker. I layered the ink over each and made sure to add extra textured brush strokes in the lighter areas to replicate some of the gnarly avocado bits. The 'almost entirely' part refers to my other medium, black olive brine.

TheHungryChild-Illustration-Avocado

Day 26

'Avocado' Persea americana

Drawn from life and memory

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The inside of the avocado was drawn from memory, since I wasn't ready to eat my desk companions yet. It was built up with yellow and red onion skins, pastels, and Daler & Rowney acrylic ink.

TheHungryChild-Illustration-Pea-Plant
TheHungryChild-Illustration-Pea-Plant
TheHungryChild-Illustration-Pea-Plant

Day 27

'Pea Plant' Pisum Sativum

drawn from reference and life

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I drew the plant from reference and digitally added the peas I drew earlier this week. Drawn in ink and built with watercolour and Mont Blanc green ink (that bottle is growing near and dear to me).

TheHungryChild-Illustration-Radish

Day 28

'Radish' Raphanus sativus

drawn from life, colour from reference

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I drew these radishes in week 03 of The 100 Day Project, but the colour was added on day 28. A mix between Sennelier shellac ink and Daler & Rowney acrylic ink, the green of the leaves is a mix between Mont Blanc's green ink, blue Sennelier shellac ink, and a little bit of watercolour based yellow.

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With hunger and love, 

Julie

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The 100 Day Project: Week 03

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The 100 Day Project: Week 03

A 100 BOTANICAL ILLUSTRATIONS IN A 100 DAYS

Three weeks in and I've amassed a whole new collection of illustrations through this project and the commissions I'm working on. My ink lines have become stronger, and I learned how to layer and work with diluting my ink. The one thing I haven't fully figured out yet, are my colours, that one is still a full work in progress, but that's why I still have seventy-nine days left.

TheHungryChild-Illustration-Radish

Day 15

Raphanus sativus or radish

Drawn from life

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The size of these could fool you in to thinking I drew turnips or beets, but I'm only trying to fill up the page, so I'll have more room when it comes to colour, detail, and line.

TheHungryChild-Illustration-Radish

Day 16

Raphanus sativus or radish

Drawn from reference

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After having drawn round radishes the day before, I hit google up in search for slender and tall ones, and google did not disappoint. After the ink dried, I scanned them in and digitally layered them over each other and a blue/green textured background I made late last year. The white ink drawings are the same as the black ones, just inverted.

TheHungryChild-Illustration-Kohlrabi

Day 17

Brassica oleracea Gongylodes Group or Kohlrabi

Drawn from life

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This kohlrabi was ridiculously overpriced for its size, but I saw the potential for a new illustration, so it scored a spot in my cart. I truly enjoyed drawing this one, all two hours of it. Not sure what I'll do with it colour wise, yet, but at the moment I'm happy just to have it as is.

TheHungryChild-Illustration-Pea

Day 18

Pisum sativum or Peas in a Pod

Drawn from life

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I put about three of these in a small paper bag at the shop for the sole purpose of drawing them. Way too much food is starting to hang out at my desk at the moment. Technique is a layering of diluted black ink.

TheHungryChild-Illustration-Chicory
TheHungryChild-Illustration-Chicory

Day 19

Cichorium intybus var. foliosum or Chicory, also known as 'witloof' in Flemish

Drawn from life

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Chicory, because I'm Belgian and I had a tingling to pay homage to a Belgian staple. When I was little, I wanted nothing to do with this veg, it was bitter, wether you had it cold or hot, but as I grew up, I did develop a liking for it. I'm not sure if it has to do with a more grown up palate or farmers breeding less bitter varieties, though, I have an inkling it's a mix of both.

Watercolours were digitally layered over the ink drawing, and even though the colours are accurate, there's still something missing, so this one will receive another go later on.

TheHungryChild-Illustration-Sea-Kale

Day 20

Crambe marítima or Sea Kale

Drawn from reference

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I saw this gorgeous, bright coloured baby in James Wong's Homegrown Revolution, quite a small photo, but there was something in the colours that hooked me. In the illustration I amped up the colours to an almost psychedelic level, which they're not in real life, but it aided the illustration, so one took priority over the other.

TheHungryChild-Illustration-Pea

Day 21

Pisum sativum or Peas in a Pod

Drawn from life

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A continuation of day 18, and the colours just worked, no fuss, no anything, they simply turned out spot on. So, I guess it's time to draw the other peas I still have tucked in the fridge.

With hunger and love,

Julie

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The 100 Day Project: Week 02

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The 100 Day Project: Week 02

A 100 BOTANICAL ILLUSTRATIONS IN A 100 DAYS

Last week saw me moving from London to Antwerp, and this week saw me catching up with this challenge. To which I'm now running a single day ahead of schedule. Sometimes, I'll have the digital edit finished a day early, other times, it's just the inks or the colours. I've been lucky to have had several days in which everything just flowed, and I was able to create between four to six illustrations, in varying stages of production. When you're taking part in this challenge, along with a full plate of commissioned work, you're more than grateful for those days.

TheHungryChild-Illustration-Blueberries
TheHungryChild-Illustration-Blueberries

Day 08

Vaccinium Cyanococcus Rydb. or Blueberries (species not specified)

Drawn from reference

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A colour and shape study, hence the two versions. The left one has an extra layer of purple watercolour added in digitally, whilst the right one has a few more layers. All of my textures are built out of scanned in bits of colour, paint, or paper, and photographs. I try to build up my arsenal regularly, so I don't keep using the same ones. If you're working digitally, start photographing random bits of paint stains, marks, scuffed up floors, gritty walls, etc to build up your own arsenal.

Blueberries come in a range of species spread across the world, that's still talking about species, let alone their developed cultivars. Since I worked from photo reference and didn't take down the species, the above name under which all species of blueberry fall will have to do.

TheHungryChild-Illustration-Fennel

Day 09

Foeniculum vulgare or Fennel

Drawn from life

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Often when I'm drawing from life, I might go out of my way to buy something I normally wouldn't get during my weekly shopping. Something in which I can lose myself for several hours. Not, that I don't buy fennel on regular basis, just not a weekly one and knowing I'll be able to draw to it, gives me that extra nudge. And, somewhere next week, one of those lucky specimens will be a pineapple.

I drew this fennel with diluted ink and very diluted ink to create a contrast between the first chunky layer of the fennel and the next one. I've been adding this technique more and more to my drawings to build a sense of volume. I followed it up with a light coating of diluted creamy yellow-green pastel on top. And, after scanning it, I added a darker green on the stalk, along with extra texture on the whole illustration.

TheHungryChild-Illustration-Courgette-Flower

Day 10

Cucurbita Pepo or Courgette 'Male Flowers'

Drawn from reference

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The lucky thing about growing courgettes is the availability of fresh courgette flowers to eat. You can eat both the male and female flowers. The female one comes attached to the end of the courgette, the male one on the same kind of stalk that the leaves are attached to. They're nutty in flavour and you can eat them raw or fried up.

If you pick these, try to use them straight away and check the inside for critters, if you don't fancy an extra protein filled crunch. Some farmer's markets will sell these, along with speciality shops, use them as soon as you get them, although when they come in a sealed plastic bag you should be able to keep them for up to two days.

The illustration is a mix between diluted and undiluted gnarly ink lines, combined with diluted pastel and shellac ink.

TheHungryChild-Illustration-Blueberries

Day 11

Vaccinium Cyanococcus Rydb. or Blueberries (species not specified)

Drawn from reference

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A late night experiment, in which I drowned a half drawn blueberry in blue ink. Sometimes watching ink swirl and spread is one of my favourite parts of adding colour. It's a part you don't have full control over, part of your painting is being painted for you and you're allowed to observe.

TheHungryChild-Illustration-Avocado

Day 12

Persea americana or Avocado

Drawn from life and memory

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Same trick I explained last time, each time I eat an avocadoI I tend to pop it belly up and trace its contours. This one is no exception. After doing it a few times now, I've started drawing the middle bit from memory, as well as the addition of the colours.

TheHungryChild-Illustration-Artichoke

Day 13 & 14

Cynara scolymus or Globe Artichoke

Drawn from life

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TheHungryChild-Illustration-Artichoke
TheHungryChild-Illustration-Artichoke

Counting from the moment I bought the artichoke, I'm quite sure it has now spent more hours hanging out at my desk, than it has spent chilling with the other veg in my fridge. I've now drawn four inked versions of this little beauty, and they've all been coloured in with a mix of watercolours, shellac inks, pastel, slightly weak in colour vervain tea, and boiled down artichoke stalk. Even though, I love the colours I end up when I use pastel, it dulls my ink lines, so I coloured each of the ink drawings slightly different to test out different combinations.

The shortened stalk in the photo above is my attempt to reduce part of it to paint without cutting away the parts I still needed to draw or colour. 

TheHungryChild-Illustration-Artichoke

For weekly updates on this project, feel free to subscribe to the newsletter, when I'm not drowning in work or life, it tends to go out during the later part of sunday mornings. For daily updates, Instagram is your platform.

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With hunger and love,

Julie

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The 100 Day Project: Week 01

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The 100 Day Project: Week 01

A 100 botanical illustrations in a 100 days

One week in to The 100 Day Project and I'm on schedule. Rather surprisingly since I moved house from London to Antwerp this week, and just started working on a commission for a large art piece for The Detox Kitchen's new deli in Fitzroy Place. Must have something to do with a willingness to abandon unpacked boxes for undrawn illustrations.

TheHungryChild-Illustration-Prickly-Pear

Day 01

Opuntia ficus or Prickly Pear

Study from an original illustration and multiple photos

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I experimented with diluting my ink and layering the tones over each other. Resulting in a less expressive line, but more expressive colour work. This illustration is a study of an original illustration by Georg Dionysius Ehret made in 1761. I changed the shape and placement of the fruit in its stages of development, so it wouldn't be a straight up copy. On top of the ink and watercolour, I digitally layered the illustration with textures and colours.

TheHungryChild-Illustration-Dragon-Fruit

Day 02

Hylocereus undatus or Dragon Fruit, also known as Pitaya

Drawn from life

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Since the flesh of Hylocereus undatus is white, you can see some of the more deeply embedded black seeds half and half shining through. I recreated this effect by diluting my ink and layering darker tones over each other. I added extra texture to the white flesh of the fruit, as well as the rind to amp up the pink parts.

TheHungryChild-Illustration-Cashew

Day 03

Anacardium occidentale or Cashew

Drawn from multiple photos

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One of the things I was asked to illustrate for my commionisoned work for The Detox Kitchen were cashews. Since, they're rather little, I thought I'd try my hand at the full thing, cashew apple and nut. Not sure if I'll end up using the whole cashew in my illustration, but it was a nice study, one I'll probably continue in another illustration further down the line.

TheHungryChild-Illustration-Lemon

Day 04

Citrus x lemon or Lemon

Drawn from a photo

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On day four, packing and getting ready to move back from London to Antwerp threw me off a bit . After all there's only so much drawing you can do when half your stuff still needs to be packed up in bags and boxes.

TheHungryChild-Illustration-Mulberry-Black

Day 05

Morus nigra or Black Mulberry

Drawn from multiple photos

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Day five was put together on day seven, when I was fed up of unpacking and needed a full on illustration session. Painted with concoctions of red onion skins, soaked black mulberries, hibiscus, and a little green pastel for the stalk. 

TheHungryChild-Illustration-Mulberry-Leaves

Day 06

Morus alba or White Mulberry

Drawn from a photo

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Since, I started illustrating food, apart from a few spinach leaves, I haven't actually drawn a lot of leaves. Hence, some quality time was spent staring at photos of mulberry leaves. The illustration is a mix between green pastels and digital layering of textures and colour.

TheHungryChild-Illustration-Avocado

Day 07

Persea americana or Avocado

Drawn from life

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I cheat a little when it comes to avocados. You see, each one is a slightly different shape or roundness, and to fully encapsulate that, I trace them. You start by washing out your avocados, turn them round bit up, and follow along with a pencil. I adjust the shape a little by squeezing and pushing, here and there. After I've lightly traced the avocado in pencil, I bring out my ink and switch between thick and thin ink lines to preserve the gnarly skin. Finished with pastels and tiny bit of digitally added colour.

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All of my illustrations are a mix between watercolour, pastel, ink, and digital collage + editing. My originals are drawn on Hahnemühle, which is a mix between 90% bamboo fiber and 10% rag, and weighs 265g/m2. I set up all of my illustrations with a beige craft-paper like background in Photoshop. For this project I've been changing the opacity of the background to better suit each single illustration, instead of the project as a whole.

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So, now that I'm back on track, it's time to illustrate my little heart out. Because, I'm only seven days in, I have a commission to dig myself in to, a box of kitchen stuff to sort out, as well as stray books that haven't found a surface to call home, yet.

 

With hunger and love,

Julie

 

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