To friend or to unfriend


Funny that despite innovations in technology our lives seem to get more complicated, not less. I balance a full-time job, a four-hour commute and ‘life’, so keeping up with dear friends online sometimes becomes yet another item on my to-do list.

I was on holiday last week so I was able to enjoy one of the monthly figure drawing sessions run by Debbie Hinks. With a ‘fabulous fifties’ theme our beautiful model had two costume changes, swapping from a full and flowery dress to a slinky mad-men outfit with a fur stole.  Light slanted in through the tall windows of Brighton’s Emporium Theatre and our arty efforts provided a point of interest for the other cafe visitors.

While we were chatting with the model during a break she said that if someone’s birthday pops up on her Facebook news feed and she doesn’t know them well enough to wish them Happy Birthday, she’ll unfriend them.

That seems like a sensible way to keep in touch with those that matter the most to you. So I thought it was funny when I heard on Radio 4 that artificial intelligence expert, Boris Galitsky, has invented a ‘robot’ to carry out his social interactions online. It sees what Boris’ friends have posted, eg ‘puppies’, then scans similar comments to add an appropriate response. I think ‘aw cute’ or ‘oh no’ would probably cover most of it!

Here’s a quick drawing of a ‘fabulous fifties facebook friend and unfriender’.


Gone fishing

neptune_Amanda_Fletcher_2014The Coldcut sample, ‘Honey I got rhythms I haven’t used yet‘ sums up how I feel about illustrating just now. How can you choose one style when there are so many exciting ways to make a picture?

This week I took the topic ‘Gone Fishing’ from Illustration Friday and after a few iterations, came up with neptune’s beard. Charcoal over felt tip is a new one for me.

I know a lot of people struggle with defining their illustration style – and having a unique and recognisable style helps you to be competitive in the illustration market. Apparently the tip is to keep drawing, keep drawing what interests you, keep drawing in the medium you like best and keep experimenting. Keep on keeping on. Easy?






A child theme

baby by Amanda Jane FletcherI had my web editor hat on last week and made some behind the scenes tweaks to this blog site.  After some investigation it looks like I’ll need to get my hands dirty with some coding (hurray!) so the next step is to create what’s called a ‘child theme’ in WordPress. That means that I will still be able to update this site without losing any additional changes that I make to the code.

As a result I haven’t had so much time to draw, so my friends have kindly agreed to let me post a picture that I drew to celebrate the birth of their new baby. Congratulations to them!

Sugar plum gorilla

I asked the gorilla to come back and give us a twirl, because my friend said that she wanted to see ‘the whole of the monkey’s body’. I do hope that she’s not disappointed.

Anyway, this is helpful for me too as I want to work on a new theme over the next few weeks. It’s a good way to generate ideas without constantly thinking of new characters or trying different media. I wonder what gorilla and chick will get up to next?

A bird in the hand

Sometimes an idea will pop fully formed from my mind to the page, but mostly it will take a twisty turny path being moulded along the way by random thoughts and impressions.

This week’s picture is one of those twisty turny ones. I wanted to illustrate a hand, as that’s what I’ve been drawing for the past couple of weeks (thanks to the artistic anatomy class at the Sussex County Arts Club).

Then add a bird. It was the RSPB birdwatch this weekend, though no actual birds came to my garden during my survey as they were probably wondering why I was staring out of the window for an hour.

And season with a gorilla. Et voila! A bird in the hand and the evolution of an image.

Children’s Illustrated Classics at the British Library


marmaladecat_AmandaFletcher_jan2014What’s your favourite classic children’s story? Which pictures made the most impression on you as a child?

Ten stories are featured in an exhibition of Children’s Illustrated Classics at the British Library, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Hobbit and The Iron Man.

I can’t remember who illustrated the version of The Hobbit that I first read, but here I was struck by the fine detail of Tolkien’s original artwork and by the graphic images of Eric Fraser’s reinterpretation from ’79.

The show includes video interviews with four of the artists describing how they work with the text, and sometimes the author, to develop their designs. I was particularly interested in what they said about their creative processes.

Michael Foreman illustrated Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (before Quentin Blake). He keeps sketch books to jot down random ideas and said:

It’s like they’re ingredients and every now and then you can make a complete dish or find a missing ingredient.

Lauren Child uses a mix of collage and drawing in the Secret Garden.  She likes collage for the happy accidents and the way that she can ‘push things around until they work’.

The final artist interview was David Roberts talking about The Wind in the Willows. I haven’t seen his work before and now I have a new favourite! He used Klimt as a reference for background patterns, giving Ratty and Mole a whole new stylish outlook while keeping their original character – wonderful.

Thinking back to my childhood I loved the soft drawings  in the Wind in the Willows, but to illustrate this post I’ve chosen Marmalade the Cat. My Dad made up stories about Marmalade and his antics to keep me and my sisters entertained when we were small.


Modern matryoshka

Remember Mrs Doyle from Father Ted? Go on, go on… I heard Pauline McLynn, the actor who played her, interviewed on the radio. When she was asked about the fact that she often plays older women she said:

It’s like I’ve got a mother and a grandmother inside me.

It got me thinking about Matryoshka dolls or Russian nested-dolls and what they might look like with modern women. Here are three nested women drawn in felt-tip pen on a rainy Sunday afternoon.