DIARY OF AN ARTIST: Inspired by Wales

 

A couple of weeks ago I took a short break away with my partner to the Welsh countryside. It was a trip full of exploration and getting back to nature which was just what was needed during what’s been a pretty non-stop year this year. I wish it could have been a little bit of a longer trip but it still felt like a great relief to get away from the city and experience a change of scenery for a few days without even having to travel very far.

 

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We stayed in an adorable beech wood cabin in Tintern with a fire-pit outside for evening barbecues and toasted s’mores (my new favourite thing). It certainly made me appreciate all that the UK has to offer for holidaying without necessarily having to break the bank on flights and fancy hotels. Along the way over the three days we also visited Chepstow, Monmouth, St Briavels and RSPB Nagshead in The Forest of Dean. I spotted a few red kites whilst wandering about which I have heard are becoming increasingly widespread in Wales so this was exciting to see. We were really hoping to spot some wild boar or perhaps even fallow deer on our walk at Nagshead but didn’t have much luck unfortunately.


Inspired-By-Wales-Gorse-Sky-Siouki

 

There was a great deal of beautiful old buildings to see too, both in the towns and villages we visited as well as some incredible historical ruins. We took a good look around Tintern Abbey but also discovered an incredible old church ruin at the top of a hill overlooking the Abbey called St. Mary’s. If you’re ever in Tintern this one was well worth finding as the views were amazing and all the overgrowth made it feel so much more fascinating and spiritual.

 

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Among all of the places we saw I gathered loads of inspiration from a whole range of sources. As always beautiful colours and textures are what really captivate me as you can probably guess from the two images above. I hope seeing all those natural hues of browns and greys against bright pops and rough varying surfaces will fuel my painting practice further in the coming month as I have a couple of upcoming exhibitions to announce still before the year is out!

For now, I am back to it working hard on launching my new collection of water-bird designs. I have begun sending off the designs for production this week so feeling super excited to get the first lot of printed products back and see how they have turned out soon! It will take me until October most likely to photograph and upload everything new so you’ll have to be a little patient still, but if you’re local to Bristol you might be lucky enough to get a first peek a little sooner!

Sky x

AUGUST Pinterest Board of the Month

 

This month I’ve chosen a beautiful botanical themed Pinterest board called Succulents + Plants by Justine Swindell.

Having recently been drawing leafy plant illustrations to add as finishing touches to my new design collection, I’m finding tropical leaves and succulents particularly inspiring at the moment.

Plus having become a home-owner for the first time this year I’m getting rather obsessed with home decor ideas and garden plants too so all the beautiful little ceramic planters also featured on this board are calling out to my interior designer side!

 

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There’s all sorts of inspiration to take away from this board, in many different forms. With a great mix of botanical based art and illustration, creative photographs showing off stunning colour contrasts like the pink and green leaves above, and succulents planted in teacups and handmade pots dotted about too, this board is totally worth a shout out today!

If you’d like some planters similar to the black and white ones in the bottom left, head to 1220 Ceramics! She’s a lovely Bristol based ceramicist who makes very similar pots to these and can often be found at local markets like Tobacco Factory and The Frome Independent alongside myself!

 

JULY Pinterest Board of the Month

 

Whilst I’m in the midst of editing photos of my paintings to create new limited edition prints… and also working on a new design series of water birds to add to the Flight collection… Summer colours are inspiring me more than ever right now! Colour is what really fuels my passion for painting and is at the core of what I create. That and my love of birds obviously! So a Pinterest board full of beautiful satisfying colour combos just makes my heart sing basically.

This board is called COLOUR by Rebecca Jane Broome.

 

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These three are some of my top faves, something about green is really calling to me lately. I never used to be much of a green fan but lately I’m all over it so expect to see more! I chose the board before realising Rebecca was in fact a fellow student on my textile degree, which explains her great choices of contrasting hues! The board is full of fresh nature inspired tones, many that have a summer feel perfectly suited to the hot July we’ve been having. Think dusky pinks, peachy oranges and deep botanical greens… yum.

Stay tuned for August’s board of the month! Sky x

 

JUNE Pinterest Board of the Month

 

You know when you see something so beautiful your heart practically starts racing? That is how I felt when I discovered this month’s Pinterest board of the month. Featuring a stunning array of artwork all inspired by nature, literally every image is just utterly awe-inspiring.

The board is called Nature Inspired by Robyn Gordon.

If you love art and you love nature, I strongly suggest you have a browse.

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This is just a small selection of some of my favourites from the board. As always, it was so hard to choose just a few. There is a wonderful mix of ceramic art, embroidery, illustration, painting, printmaking, sculpture and 3D and pretty much anything else in between all there to inspire. Basically a textile design student or graduate’s dream!

Stay tuned for my next board of the month! Sky x

 

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NOVEMBER Pinterest Board of the Month

For November I’ve picked a Pinterest board called:

TEXTURE by Brenda Lowe Thomas.

It’s been a little while since I got sharing some musings on the blog. I think I need a refreshing wave of inspiration to get me motivated at the mo so I’ve picked an exciting Pinterest board full of colour and texture for this month’s Pinterest Board of the Month!

These images have got me super excited about creating new colour palettes for new paintings next year! Just what I need to get me through the busy Christmas markets I have coming up. Things have felt a little monotonous and non-creative here at Sky Siouki lately so I’m looking forward to getting expressive and artistic in January again. These beautiful images are giving me something to get excited about!

Yellow and Grey Cracked Bark   Purple and Turquoise Pheasant Feathers

Pale yellows against cool grey, warm violets and bright turquoise, rich rusty ochres and creamy fresh greens are all really grabbing me right now. Watching Blue Planet II has also really got my creative cogs going lately as well. All of the colours and textures in these images are so stunning, the beauty of nature never ceases to astound me.

Green Peeling Paint   Grey and Ochre Tree Moss

There are even more amazing images on the TEXTURE Pinterest board so go and check it out if texture and colour gets you excited too!

Next on the blog I’ll be sharing news of the next Tribe Aisthetica exhibition I have helped to curate, taking place at The Malago Restaurant!

 

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AUGUST Pinterest Board of the Month

This month I have picked Botanical Pick Me Up as my Pinterest board of the month.

Joint curated by Dean Hearne and Lobster & Swan.

Botanical forms are super on trend right now and I can understand why. Filling your home with plants creates a fresh, bohemian energy and succulent and tropical plants are so nice and easy to manage too.

Pinterest Board of the Month August - Botanical Pick Me Up - Plant Pots

Pinterest Board of the Month August - Botanical Pick Me Up - Art Print.jpg

This board is full of ideas of other ways to fill your home with botanical greenery besides plants in pots too! Just adore the print above, and the handmade trinket dishes below are so cute and unique.

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Check out the full board here for lots more botanical loveliness and for more inspiration on how to make your home feel at one with nature. Love the title of the board too, as it’s so true that a few plants around the place really can be a wonderful pick me up!

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Going Bananas for Tropical Birds!

A little bit of visual research and inspiration on the blog this week! Feast your eyes on this beautiful array of tropical bird species.

If you regularly follow what I’m up to at Sky Siouki you may know I’ve been talking about ideas for a new design collection for a little while. I hate that I’ve been continually saying new designs soon but as of yet no illustrating has been happening. I’m so eager to get going on a new set of birds but it takes a lot of dedicated time to do and there are always a million and one other jobs that seem to need doing first! BUT I think I may have at least made a decision on what the theme of the new series will be… Tropical Birds!

Tropical Birds Green-Breased Mango Hummingbird

Green-Breasted Mango Hummingbird

Tropical Birds - Greater Bird of Paradise

Greater Bird of Paradise

Having had a few suggestions via Instagram, a lot of followers seem keen to see hummingbirds, kingfishers and birds of paradise which all fit into the tropical category quite nicely. I also had a lot of suggestions for garden birds and although I was heavily swaying towards that direction at one point, I then realised that there are an awful lot of garden bird designs already out there and let’s face it, tropical birds are just a hella of a lot more exciting! I mean check out the plumage on this White Faced Ibis!

Tropical Birds - White Faced Ibis

White Faced Ibis

Tropical Birds - Banded Broadbill

Banded Broadbill

Something I love so much about designing a new collection is researching all the different bird species out there and learning about them. It’s astounding just how many species there are and the incredible variations of colour and markings they each have. For example I only learnt today that the Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher even exists, how gorgeous is this little guy?!

Tropical Birds - Oriental Kingfisher

Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher

Putting this post together has certainly helped to get me inspired and motivated for this next collection so I really hope it won’t be much longer until I get working on it now! I will still need to make a final decision on four birds but a kingfisher and a hummingbird definitely look to be on the cards. It’s not too late for suggestions either so by all means post a comment below or hit me up on Instagram to tell me what you think. I always love to hear customer feedback.

MAY Pinterest Board of the Month!

INSPIRE/PATTERN by Cerulean Grey

I’ve chosen this bright and botanical board called Inspire/Pattern for my May Pinterest board of the month! You know it’s a winner when it’s near impossible just to choose three favourite images from a board. Paying homage to my textile designer roots a bit with this one. It’s full of inspiration for pattern designing and makes me want to get my paints out again and go crazy with collage!

Julie Hamilton Collage - May Pinterest Board

Liz Casella Textile Design - May Pinterest Board

There are some lovely influences of Matisse and Patrick Heron coming through in the designs on this board. Particularly love the Schiele like scribbled lines of the botanical patterns on the black and white design above. So bold and effective. The collaged piece above by Julie Hamilton makes me think of fellow Bristol artist Fiona Clabon‘s beautiful collages (go check her work out).

SOU SOU Textile Pattern Design - May Pinterest Board

 

Stay tuned for my next Pinterest board of the month for June and subscribe via the links on the right! Check out my own Pinterest profile too if you fancy a look at more of what inspires me.

 

INTERIORS INSPO – Keeping it Cosy

It feels like Winter is making it’s approach in full force this week. Definitely time to get the blankets, hot water bottles, big scarves and extra large mugs out! But at least it’s an excuse to give the house a little seasonal makeover to keep you cosy throughout the next few months so I thought I’d seek out a few of the best cosy living spaces I could find on good old Pinterest and share some ideas on how to give your home some rustic, homely vibes.

Modern Meets Rustic

Cosy Fireplace

WOOD: These homes have a wonderful modern rustic feel with their use of natural wooden floorboards, painted wood wall panels, indoor plants and antique fireplaces complete with vintage armchairs alongside. The addition of a few big logs in the fireplace or a basket full of kindling ready to get that fire roaring really completes the look. Love the ceiling high bookcases here too, somehow lots of books seem to make a home feel extra cosy, perhaps because they tell more of a story about the people who live there.

Velvet Sofa

VELVET: As far as I’m concerned, nothing feels quite as amazingly soft as velvet does. I’m such a sucker for velvet sofas and cushions. You can bet you’ll be comfortable on a sofa like this one plus it look so effortlessly glamourous.

Scandinavian Living Room

RUGS & THROWS: This Scandinavian style living space is made to feel cosy with it’s big high pile rug, sheepskin throws and candle collection on the coffee table. Candlelight in the evening always adds a wonderful warm glow to a room on a cold night and it really does add heat too. Even the deer skull on the wall here adds to the rustic Winter style perfectly.Earthy ColoursEARTHY COLOURS: Colour is so important to the mood of a room. Although I love the pure style of Scandinavian homes I do find it can be a little too much white sometimes. This home shows how more dusky and earthy colours can create warmth in a space and works especially well when paired with antique furniture and textiles. A nice big Persian rug is ideal to create this look. Even if you’d rather keep the walls light it’s easy to bring in a bit more earthy depth using cushions and painted furniture instead. My fave colour choices are dark mauve, rusty orange and dusky rose pink.

Happy decorating and stay warm! I’ll be launching my new product collection this Friday, Nov 11th, so keep your eyes peeled and read all about the making of in next week’s post!

Inspired by Insects

Hello and a very happy Hallow’s Eve to you all! I thought I’d make this week’s post a little Halloween themed by featuring creepy crawly inspired designs. I actually really love insect inspired artwork as their often intricate wing patterns and delicate structure make for fascinating subjects to observe.

So I’ve rounded up a little selection of my favourite artwork and products featuring beautifully illustrated insects right here for you to enjoy on the scariest night of the year. Click on the images to visit each designer’s website, or see more details at the bottom of the post.
Insect Models

Moth Necklace

Beetle Wallpaper

Butterfly Tea Towel

Textile Art Moth

Insect Hybrids PrintBeetle Jars

Top to bottom:

1. Insect Collection by Kasasagi. These amazing handmade sculptures use recycled papers and stitch.

2. Death’s Head Moth Necklace by Red Bird Makes. Unique laser-cut birchwood necklace by a fellow Bristol maker.

3. Beetle Wallpaper by Porter’s Original Paints. Wonderful wallpaper inspired by the Christmas Beetle and available in four different colourways.

4. Botanical Butterfly Tea Towel by Marks & Spencer. This beautiful printed tea towel has a very vintage quality and I love that moss green.

5. Fibre Art by Yumi Okita. Yumi’s handmade textile insects are absolutely stunning and one of a kind!

6. Insect Hybrids by Jess Albert. Incredibly detailed illustrations available as limited edition giclee prints.

7. Set of 3 Beetle Jars by Laura Zindel Design. Printed onto ceramics, these are available in a vast array of other designs and products too.

Exhibition Visit – Grayson Perry: ‘The Vanity of Small Differences’

Last weekend I made a brief trip to Bath to catch Grayson Perry’s ‘The Vanity of Small Differences’ exhibition on it’s last day at the Victoria Art Gallery before it moves on to Coventry, and I’m so glad I did. I’d been thinking of seeing it for a while and then suddenly discovered it was about to end that Sunday so thought since I had the day free I was just going to have to go. I’d purposely tried to avoid reading too much about it or looking at many photos before going so as not to spoil the experience which I feel was a good move as it allowed me to get properly immersed in the story Perry tells. So for that reason I’m also not going to say too much about what the exhibition is about here and have just included an image of one of the six tapestries below.

The Vanity of Small Differences

The one thing that truly amazed me was the attention to detail and incredible amount of thought and consideration Perry has put into each piece. This can probably be said for most of his work in fact but until you see it up close in it’s incredibly large scale I don’t think you really appreciate that fully. Some parts made me laugh and others made me sad, he really takes you through a story and makes you realise just how fraught with connotations every tiny object in our world is. The exhibition illustrates this so well and made me realise just how much weight the role of design has in our culture. As a textile designer I was also very interested by his choice of medium to portray these pieces, especially having done some jacquard weaving myself during university. Tapestry is such an ancient craft with it’s medieval origins making it such a perfect choice to fit with Perry’s influences and the story-telling dynamic of the show, only cleverly reapplied to modern day using modern technique.

So having been a little unsure whether or not to go to the exhibition to begin with I wanted to write this post to say to anyone considering seeing it during the rest of it’s tour through Coventry, Worcester and Canterbury that you should! I’m so pleased that I did. You can see full details of where it will be on the British Council for Visual Arts website here.

Inspired by… Madeline Denaro

There You Go, 2014

Over the past year or so I’ve found myself increasingly drawn to abstract art and painting. I have enjoyed abstract painting for a long time but recently it seems to have gained a real hold on me, perhaps even just because it has become an ever more frequent trend on my Pinterest feed as of late. I have become captivated by artists’ work like Madeline Denaro‘s and as you can probably see it has begun to heavily influence my own work and how my tastes have evolved in the last year. I appreciate art in many forms and do believe figurative painting can be just as beautiful as abstract but there is something about the pure focus on colour and texture in Denaro’s work that sucks me in and has so much more of an emotional pull.

Nora's Green, 2011

I think that the reason for this surge of emotion most likely comes from the root of each paintings’ creation. Madeline explains how the process of her art is uncontrolled “Working intuitively, I enter a realm of the unknown where there is more of a following than any real choice” and I believe that much as you can feel the emotion in the words of a soul singer, you can really feel the raw emotion when viewing the brushstrokes of an abstract artist. The deep layers of colour and varying pressures and speeds of each mark fill me with wonder. As a creative myself I naturally find myself wondering how did she create this beautiful texture and depth? What tool made that mark on the canvas? How can I create something so purely beautiful as this? Works like these inspire me more than anything to create because there is such an emotional drive behind it.

Plum Loco, 2011

Crimson and Clover, 2012

My love for art like this transfers directly to my passion for textiles in that all that really seems important is the beauty of the colour and the texture. The way Denaro uses a heavy pulse of vibrant crimson balanced against misty greys and dusky pinks in the artwork above titled ‘Crimson and Clover’ for example has such a satisfying calming sensation. The bubble like textures overlaying patches of dense maroon and flurried contrasting marks fighting for space beneath fill me with so much intrigue. Each of her paintings feels like a world to dive into and discover… so beautiful and so mysterious. I feel desperate to get painting myself now, if only just to feel that rush of emotion that it brings.

Slimbridge Wetland Centre

A couple of weeks ago I went for a little day out with my dad to Slimbridge Wetland Centre in Gloucestershire, not too far North of Bristol. My dad has become an avid wildlife photographer of late and I am always inspired and excited to see wildlife so it made the perfect activity for us to do together, and my dad has kindly let me use his photographs for this post.

We were amazed to see the masses of flamingos they had there which included flocks of all six existing species. My favourites had to be the Caribbean flamingos as pictured below just because of their incredible neon colour and flamboyant plumage! It was interesting to learn that their colour is due to the carotenoid in the crustaceans that form their diet.

Flamingos

River Otter

I expected there to only be birds there but they also had an enclosure with a family of three playful American River Otters there. They were so delightful to watch and have already inspired me to draw an otter which you may have seen on my Instagram feed here.

I was also surprised by how beautiful the wide variety of duck species they had were. My favourites were the Ruddy Shelducks as pictured below. Their markings are very subtle but they’re just such a lovely soft caramel colour and were very cute to watch too. The gentle white patches around their eyes made me think of deer markings which perhaps explains why I liked them so much.

Ruddy Shelduck

A big thanks to my dad, Robin, for sharing his photographs which you can see lots more of on his Wildlife Photography Facebook page here. I think I’ll be doing lots more drawing in the coming weeks and Slimbridge has left me full of inspiration so I can’t wait to see what I manage to come up with. Keep up with what I’m doing on my Instagram and Twitter.

TOP 5… Wintery Wildlife Prints

I absolutely love getting lost online finding artist’s work I haven’t yet discovered. It’s so awe inspiring to see the talent out there and so I’m giving a little homage to just that this week with my favourite 5 winter wildlife based art prints. I’ve known the work of some of these artists for a while but some are entirely new and very exciting discoveries. Hopefully you might discover a new favourite of your own amongst them too! I’ve gone for the winter theme to remind us to appreciate the frosty beauty of nature during winter since it’s been feeling particularly nippy out this January.

Deer by Mark Hearld

1. Deer by Mark Hearld – A printmaker and a collage artist, I’ve been a big Mark Hearld fan for some time now but everytime I revisit his work I fall in love again. These vulnerable little deer trampling amongst the winter branches are just delightful.

En El Bosque by Daniela Dahf Henriquez     Ghost Owls by Helen Musselwhite

2. En El Bosque by Daniela Dahf Henriquez – I’ve come across this illustrator’s work many times on Pinterest but never known her name so I feel it’s about time I give her some recognition. Her drawings are so full of character and charm, some sillier than others. This one beautifully celebrates woodland wildlife.

3. Ghost Owls by Helen Musselwhite – I came across this paper cut artist only today and was blown away by the incredible intricacy of her work. Her website is a must see, honestly I was dumbstruck! This collection of works called ‘Ghost’  fits my winter theme perfectly, the subtle variations of colour really make you appreciate the complexity of layers she uses.

Brown Hare 3 by James Bartholomew     Wreath (February) by Denise Nestor

4. Brown Hare 3 by James Bartholomew – Another new discovery, Bartholomew’s work beautifully captures the energy of the animals he paints and his colour use has a wonderful fresh balance. I particularly liked this hare against the duck-egg blue background with his eyes wide and alert.

5. Wreath (February) by Denise Nestor – The attention to detail in Denise Nestor’s illustrations is second to none but besides that her compositions make for such wonderful pieces of art. I love how this fawn, hedgehog and blackbird are so perfectly nested together into a circular wreath sleeping peacefully together like a little woodland family.

That’s my Top 5 for this month, look out for Valentine’s Day ideas next month and next week I’ll be posting some news about an exhibition I’m going to be a part of very soon.

In love with… Shilo Engelbrecht Textiles

Since I’ve been researching abstract painting and ideas for a new collection of painterly designs, the work of a favourite textile designer of mine recurrently comes to mind… Shilo Engelbrecht. Shilo’s collection is branded Älv Textiles featuring a stunning range of digitally printed table linen, cushions, bags and scarves as well as fabric by the metre for furnishings. The designs are taken from Shilo’s vibrant, expressive oil paintings and printed onto linen and silk. The fabric accentuates every bold brushstroke and colour contrast fantastically showing off the beautiful texture within her work in an explosion of colour.

Alv Textiles by Shilo EngelbrechtShilo Engelbrecht Table Linen

Expressive painterly textile prints seem to be hugely popular at the moment and looking at Shilo’s work it’s easy to see why. I find looking at her textiles so invigorating and inspirational – each piece just injects so much energy into a space, they really are a must have. To see more of my favourite textiles designs you can follow my Patterned Wares Pinterest board and if you’re also an Älv Textiles fan I’d definitely recommend following Shilo’s Instagram too.

Shilo Engelbrecht Paintings

Inspiration from Abstract Painting

With plans of designing a new cushion collection ahead of me I’ve been getting really into my research lately. I’m hoping to produce some designs with a slightly darker edge than the original Sky Siouki collection using abstract painted textures as a predominant design element. So recently I’ve been totally engrossed in Pinterest looking at beautiful abstract paintings full of thick expressive brushstrokes and exciting bursts of colour. Below are a few of my new favourite artists and their work…

Heather Day

Heather Day – I love the simplicity and boldness of Day’s paintings. Using just a few high contrasting colours she creates an expressive statement that really grabs you.

Sam Lock

Sam Lock – There is a wonderful level of depth within Lock’s work, creating an aged and decayed feel to his paintings. I find the rough uneven textures and subtle variety of tones in his work incredibly absorbing.

Cy Twombly

Cy Twombly – Not quite as recent but a long time favourite of mine is Cy Twombly. I prefer some of his pieces a lot more than others but the Quattro Stagioni series and this particular painting from the Hero and Leandro series have always moved me since seeing them exhibited at Tate Modern.

Lola Donoghue

Lola Donoghue – Donoghue’s paintings are somewhat prettier than the other artists I have featured here due to her use of feminine pastel shades. I love the tonal blends of colour within her work creating very soft transitions between hues.

Patricia Sadler

Patricia Sadler – Sadler’s work is derived from more literal sources than the other artists in this post but I think she abstracts her subject wonderfully creating intense dark and moody scenes that move way beyond figurative depictions of landscapes.

Can’t wait to get painting more myself! Watch this space! But in the meantime, see more of my artistic inspiration on my ART Pinterest board here.