Drawing, Illustration

Drawing Dogs

As a nation, we’re a nation of shopkeepers but more importantly, Dog Lovers. The & Co. sign off of all my posts refer to the ever wooly, hairy, smelly, wouldn’t have him any other way, but loveable studio dog, our Border Terrier Walter.

Walter BW

His constant presense, and his role as the cornerstone in our family has in turn led him to position of chief muse and he has apperead on many birthday cards over the years.

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Walter on a birthday card has always been a hit, but his fan base (although wide), is limited. So in turn I took to drawing friends dogs and they loved recieving the cards as much I enjoyed making them . It’s basically dog porn, or the equivilent of me walking the dog in the park and meeting and greeting every other dog that walks by. Crufts on cards.


Eric and Dotty

The populairty of dog designs are unprecident. Bonkers dog lovers are prepared part with their cash in return for a portrait of their pet. Be it a bespoke commision or just a generic breed image. Even before we had a pet, my then boyfriend, now husband tried and succesfully won me over with a Sweet William Designs birthday card and Mug. Infact, we recived a Sweet William Design card for our wedding and loved it. (Thank you Emily and Andy, from one crazy dog couple, to another)

For me, a pet portrait doesn’t need to be pixel perfect photo realism to capture the heart and expression of our four legged friends. I love the work of British Aritst Sally Muir .  Muir’s dog portraiture..demonstrates the artist’s technical range and her keen understanding of essential doggishness. …Muir’s mastery of the expressive capacity of the canine eye in particular makes these paintings live and pant. — Claudia Massey, Spectator

01 Sally Muir

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03 Sally Muir .jpg

Sally Muir has become a regular artist in residence at Anthropologie. First showing in the King’s Road Gallery back in 2013, her pup portraits never disappoint. Her A Dog A Day Book, does as the title suggests, it began life with a Facebook post in 2013: ‘My name is Sally Muir and this is a new gallery where I will add a dog drawing/painting every day, adding up to a massive 365 day dogfest. These every popular pet portraits been succesfully liscenced on to the dessert plates, tea towels and mugs and are avaliable in Anthroplogie

I was asked by Kate, who run’s Sew Creative in Altrincham to draw her dogs, Eric and Dotty for a piece for her home. I was flattered and well it gave me just that little nudge in self belief to print some dog birthday cards and add dog portaits commisions to my store.

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For a non lover, this post reads as utter nonsense, but to the dog lovers out there who know just how important it is to have that extra heart beat in the house, I hope this resonates with you. If you or anyone you know would be interested in a pet portait, please follow this link on my store. They make great gifts for any occasion.







Drawing, Fabric Design, Surface Pattern, Workshop

Floral Motif Workshop with Rachel Taylor

On Saturday, 11th May, I took part in a Floral Motif Workshop led by surface pattern designer and teacher of Make It In Design Rachel Taylor at the Reloved Upholstery Studio at the Pear Mill in Stockport. The workshop came at a great time for me, in the midst of my #100daysofpattern project to learn from someone, who was desiging work to be liscenced across the globe, producing her own products and teaching students online through Make It In Design.


It was my first time visiting the Pear Mill in Stockport and it cetaintly won’t be my last. The ground floor is a Vintage Emporium will sellers filling the huge space with their array of clothes, books, household objects, furniture looking for a new home. The Pear Mill, which was built in 1913 was was the last cotton spinning mill to be built in England. Following the end of World War 1 there was a boom in cotton production, in England, but sadly that was not to last, as forigen markets in India, China and Japan increased their spinning capabilty and cotton prices fell by 38%.


The space is now let by local businness of all sorts, including Reloved upholstery . It is ran by Simione who loving breathes lives back into chairs, specialiaing in iconic Ercol designs. The large studio is crammed full of inspiration, from fabric swatch books, a library and a huge workspace with industrial sewing machines. It’s fair to say it was a great creative space to work in.

Floral Print Design workshop 01

Following initial introductions with the other course partipants, who were all women and in the majority looking to the turn their designs into a business, it was great to meet other like minded people. We listened to Rachel talk through her work and design process.  For me, the main take away from the teaching was ‘how are my lines different to anyone else’s’ and what makes my lines and in turn my work individual. If you’re working in fineliners, (FYI I swear by Micon) it’s easy for a line to look like anyone else’s line, but Rachel re-iterated the importance of finding your personal style and one way to do this is to create lines with diffrent marks and textures. From there we got stuck in, using a range of warm up techniques, left handed, eyes closed, different materials and then started to create motif’s on the flowers in front of us.  We worked in black so it’s easier to edit in greyscale in Adobe Photoshop and Illustraor.


It was great to draw a range of plants, all of which were (with permission) from Arley Hall Garden. They were a lot of show stoppers amongst them, Allium were stand out. But Rachel made a good point, these show stopper iconic flowers have been, and will continue to be inspiration for artists across the globe and through time.  One alternative is to create flower hybrids, just like it’s done by horticulturist, with stems from one plant and leaves from another for instance, to create individual designs, that still remain familiar. For anyone who has read my blog from the start,  (yep, I know that’s only you Rob) you’ll know initially I was reluctant to design florals because it’s not really my style, but I am prepared to take that all back.  I love plants, I just don’t like ditsy style prints. So it was about making floral motifs that feel like ‘my style’.


Signature style can feel elusive, but the more work you produce the more you find your voice, so I’m happy to continue to keep making stuff until it feels intuitvely my own, At the moment my best work is a combination of inks and fine liners. I want to create a solid body of work before I digitally print any samples on to fabric. I was able to ask Rachel questions about printing fashion fabrics, how to collate a collection and what were the best studios to approach within the UK.  As someone who followers a lot of home sewists online, I was familair with a lot of names mentioned and reiterated that although it can seem overwhelming, sewing, designing, illustrating all at once, all these pursuits feed into each other. So for now, i’m urged to keep up all the projects.


A rare photo of me caught in the act, happiest surrounded by plants, with a paint brush in my hand, wearing that jumpsuit I made.  (Proof it’s not just clothes I make for Instagram photos, I do actually wear them.)


At the end of the day, I had created heaps of floral motifs to scan and edit and work up into patterns on Illustrator.  But most importantly, I came away inspired, energised and filled with faith, that yep, I could do it too. When you’re creating work and putting yourself on the line, it’s all too easy for self doubt to creep in, you think ‘you’re not good enough’ ‘not talented enough’ ‘too many other people out there already’ and these moments of crisis in confidence can become crippiling. But Rachel instilled some wisdom, to make my work unique and made me feel that there is space out there for everyone, as long as you’re creating from your own authentic voice.


I’ve come full circle on my stance on floral design and now can’t get enough, I’ll be working these up into repeat patterns.  Rachel is running a drawing meet up at Arley Hall Gardens on the 3rd of August, that i’ll be going to for another day of meeting like minded people and stopping to smell the flowers. Eyes peeled for more florals to come.

All for now

Claire & Co.


Drawing, Illustration

#Portrait Challenge 2019

There is an amazing, inspiring, creative community on instagram with designers, illustrators and makers all sharing their work. To inspire and encourage new work challenges are a great way to step out of your comfort zones, plus it’s a great way to get a body of new work with the gentle push of a few prompts. Ohn Mar Win and August Wren set up the portrait challenge, it was manageable, just 8 portraits, but would encourage me to draw faces, which naturally I avoid because, frankly capturing the character of a person with a pen, can be nearly impossible. But the only way to get better, is to put pen to paper. So here it goes…








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What did I learn from this challenge? Well, portraits will probably always be my nemesis, but I have enrolled onto a portrait class at the Open Studios in Altrincham later in the month, with the hope of picking up some technical tips and finally stepping away from just line drawings and adding some depth with tone. So more to come.

What did work for me, was showing up and working on a project from start to finish and not being too precious if things weren’t great. My drawings were hit and miss, some days they were good, other days, they were off. Going forward, I want to focus on consistency.  I’m trying to complete 100 portaits in a sketch book by drawing a range of faces, both people I know and from newspapers and magazines with a focus on trying to create a likeness of the individual’s character, easier said than done. Here’s some more from my 100 faces project sketchbook so far.



More faces to come. If you have any tips for drawing faces I am all ears, so please share them in the comments below. Thanks so much.

Claire & Co.



Back to Life Drawing

Standing in a room around a real, living, breathing model, wearing nothing, is enough to make most people run in the opposite direction, but drawing from life is a real skill. In a forced attempt to improve my drawing skills, I went along to Life Drawing Class at Altrincham Open Studios. The class lasts 2 hours, from 11-1pm on a Tuesday morning, with a much needed break in the middle to refuel. It’s £10/£15 Members/non members.

Life Drawing_March 5th_2018

Going to a class forces you out of your comfort zone. At home I continue to work on my signature style, but it’s easy to get stuck in a rut and I wanted to challenge my own work. The tutor, Jo, started the class with a warm up of keeping your line on the paper with three quick poses, just a few minutes each. It helped me familiarise myself with working with an easel and using a real person in front of me for a reference.


For the next longer pose we were invited to use acrylic paint and a sponge brush. Strictly instructed to use only white, black and one colour of choice with no water. We were then told our work would be rubbish, which may seem counterintuitive to some, but it took the pressure off us, the students, to be precious and just go for it.

This was a real challenge for me, in my recent art work I have exclusively used watercolours and gauche. Using acrylic makes you mark permanent, it’s unapologetic and forces you to be braver with the your lines.  The only hint we got before starting the piece, was to use the black sparingly. Sponge brushes make thick strokes, sticking to the three colours forces you to identify light, shadow and tone on the body, rather than sticking to the all too familiar outline.

Life drawing_05 March 2019_02

The second half of the class was a longer pose, this time, we were instructed to use one extra colour and were allowed to use water. Honestly, by this point my concentration had started to wane and I made some catastrophic mistakes in terms of proportions. Taking it all down to experience I just decided to focus on the head in an attempt to salvage the piece.

Although none of these pieces will be making it to a wall anytime soon, I enjoyed the process, working in a new media, trying something new and meeting other like-minded people at the class. Over time I hope it improves my concentration and my accuracy of drawing.

I’ll be going back each week. Back to being a beginner. Back to a blank sheet of paper. Back to thinking have I ever held a pencil before. Back to thinking have I ever seen a human before. Back to making mistakes.

Claire & co.


P.S I’ll be updating this post with weekly drawings, so keep coming back for more nudes!






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Drawing, Journal

Slow Tourism & Travel Sketchbooks

Packing a sketchbook when I go on holiday is as essential to me as a passport and a pair of sunglasses. I wanted to share a few pages from my sketchbooks to encourage you to try sketching next time you’re on holiday and embrace slow tourism.



These pages are from our time taking a long holiday in Marseille, time was on my side, but as we rented an apartment, it was easy for our new surroundings to become familair as we carried out a daily life, albeit in a new surrounding.



Flicking back through a sketchbook brings you right back to a time and place, so much more vividly than a photo. But more importantly, sketchbooks force you to slow down and really a see a place when you’re away from home, afterall what’s the point of going somewhere new without really noticing what’s around you.


Sketchbooks are beta, they are not the finished piece nor do they have to be perfect, so it shouldn’t feel like work when you’re on holiday.


It can be easy to be daunted be whole landscapes or cityscapes in a new place, but something that catches your eye can be the feature of your page.


Trying to keep up the same sense of curiosity when you’re back at home can be tricky, but you still get the benefit of slowing down and really taking the time to look at a place, without the cost. So next time you’re feeling in a bit of a rut, lacking some inspiration or just feel like you need a holiday, I’d suggest taking your sketch book on a holiday in your own town instead, even a view from your local coffee shop can be noteworthy if you really take time to look at what is in front of you.


Happy holiday making and sketchbooking, whether that be on the otherside of the world or just in your home town, but remember to pack your pencils.

Claire & co.