Thursday, 19 June 2014

Bees... Illustrating Bumble Bee's and Honey Bees...

So, I've left my usual Halloween territory for a while of late and been enjoying drawing some rather more Summery subject matter... Bees!

Bumble Bee's have always been very close to my heart, they always remind me of my Granddad (now sadly no longer with us) He loved Bumble Bees. The last couple of years our garden has been full of Bumble Bee's, on the lavender and all over the flowers on our Oregano and Sage too. They are a delight to watch, fuzzy and somewhat unsteady in the air flitting and buzzing around the flowers, drinking up all the sweet nectar.

I've had a few invasions in my studio of late too, and spent a couple of hours carefully herding inquisitive bumble bee's back outside into the garden.

So inspired by the bee's I decided to draw them, and have some pictures here to share with you of the resulting Bumble Bee illustrations.

Pen and Ink illustrations....

© Nicola L Robinson 2015 All rights reserved
Bumble Bee and Honey Bee Illustrations © Nicola L Robinson 2014

© Nicola L Robinson 2015 All rights reserved
Bumble Bee face and antennae © Nicola L Robinson 2014

© Nicola L Robinson 2015 All rights reserved
Bumble Bee wing and leg © Nicola L Robinson 2014

© Nicola L Robinson 2015 All rights reserved
Honey Bee head and legs © Nicola L Robinson 2014

© Nicola L Robinson 2015 All rights reserved
Honey Bee Stripes © Nicola L Robinson 2014

I hadn't intended to do anything more than the bumble bee, but decided it would be nice to draw a honey bee too, so they are a pair. The honey bee is rather different in shape and looks somewhat more aerodynamic than the fat fuzzy bumble bee does.

Painted Bees- 

© Nicola L Robinson 2015 All rights reserved
Bumble Bee and Honey Bee Illustrations © Nicola L Robinson 2014

© Nicola L Robinson 2015 All rights reserved
Hairy Bumble Bee leg © Nicola L Robinson 2014

Neither bumble bee nor Honey Bee are totally accurate depictions, I'm not going for natural science illustrations here, and I have taken some liberties with them, most notably on their little antennae, giving them some curly ends. Fortunately these two don't have to fly around busily collecting nectar for their queen's and hives, this pair are going to be content on my wall in my studio, a reminder of Summer, which is never as long as we'd like...

(My Bee's are also available as signed prints in my Teeth and Claws Shop here -Bee's)

Save the Bee's - 

I'm sure you're already aware of the dwindling bee populations, and hope you will check out these Bee links to learn more about bee's and how we can help...

The Bumble Bee Conservation Trust - All About Bumble Bees...

British Beekeepers Association  - All About Honey Bee's and their Bee Keepers 

The Great British Bee Count - Needs you to log your bee sightings! (I'm already doing this)

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Polyphemus the Cyclops... a little Greek Mythology Illustration

© Nicola L Robinson 2015 All Rights Reserved
Polyphemus the Cyclops, in glorious technicolour © Nicola L Robinson 2014 all rights reserved

A new illustration I would like to share with you this week, Polyphemus the Cyclops... Those familiar with Greek mythology will recall in Homer's Odyssey, the hero Odysseus landing on the island of the Cyclopes with his men on their (very long) journey home from the Trojan war, finding food and shelter in a cave and meeting it's giant one eyed resident, resulting in a number of the men being eaten before Odysseus eventually outsmarts the Cyclops and they make their escape...
© Nicola L Robinson 2015 All Rights Reserved
 Black and White version © Nicola L Robinson 2014 all rights reserved

Some points I wanted to consider/include when illustrating this-

-I thought about including Odysseus and perhaps some of his ill fated men too being picked up and crunched up like cookies by the enraged monster... but then I thought it might be nice to not get too taken in with details, as I do have a tendency for, and so I stripped the idea back to focus on the main protagonist, the Cyclops himself.

- To focus totally on the Cyclops I have placed us, the viewer as Odysseus/his men, in the cave, at the point where Polyphemus has just arrived home from his day out shepherding his sheep. We can see our ships docked along the shore.

- Polyphemus is the son of Poseidon, king of the sea, and I've included a trident at the top right to symbolise him

-Later in the myth, Odysseus and his men manage to drive a big wooden stake into Polyphemus's eye, blinding him, I've added a blinded eye to the top left.

-Odysseus is famous for his bow, which I've included at the bottom left corner

-Polyphemeus was a shepherd, and I've drawn a ram's head to the bottom right.

-I wanted to make the Cyclops a little more interesting so have designed him some eye tattoo's, jewellery and woollen/leather smock. I imagine given all that wool from herding the sheep a Cyclops might develop skills in weaving, spinning and the like... (watch out etsy)
-In the myth the Cyclops is meant to be about the size of two men in height, mine is obviously somewhat larger, as I wanted him to be filling the space, and by adding the tiny sheep made him appear even bigger.  

© Nicola L Robinson 2015 All Rights Reserved
Pencil Sketch/Layout Plan © Nicola L Robinson 2014 all rights reserved

© Nicola L Robinson 2015 All Rights Reserved
12 Cyclops faces © Nicola L Robinson 2014 all rights reserved

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Releassse the Snakesss.... Snake Art Prints

Some slithery snakes... illustrated by Nicola L Robinson
I write lots of lists, more these days than ever before, not because my memory is getting worse (as far as I can tell!) but simply because there seems to be more and more to do, and more and more things to organise. So the to do list is my friend.

This week I had scrawled the provocative 'Release the Snakes' amongst the usual buy stamps, order paper, email XXX etc, and so I will.

To do lists aside, I've been busy of late developing some more design based illustration work for my ongoing Teeth and Claws shop ( and I'm enjoying it very much. Trying in this occasion to be less focused on adding narrative and humour and more involved in creating design and attractive patterns has been fun, I hope my snake prints are a good example of this.

© Nicola L Robinson 2015 All Rights Reserved
Green snake art print © Nicola L Robinson 2014

I did hesitate for some time before doing snake prints, I have drawn them before within my illustrations, and suffice to say they are a favourite creature alongside crocodiles (I seem to like scaly things) but I am aware a lot of people have Ophidiophobia, the phobia of snakes, having first hand experience of people with quite severe forms of this, so I have been cautious with my snake work! 
© Nicola L Robinson 2015 All Rights Reserved
Red snake art print © Nicola L Robinson 2014

I hope my snake illustrations are more tribal patterned and attractive to look at than scary, and promise I won't draw any realistic looking spiders or more violent looking snakes. The last thing I want to do is put people off my work!

Thanksss for reading :)

Monday, 2 June 2014

New website... well, updated illustration portfolio/design...

Nicola L Robinson Illustration portfolio website -
My illustration portfolio website -
I've had my website for about a decade now (eek!) I built it myself from scratch and I have got used to looking after it, I enjoy having the control over it and being able to move things around as I see fit (sometimes for better sometimes, maybe not so much...haha) In this time it has been through a lot of redesigns and re writes, it has been home to lots of different artworks of mine ranging from badly photographed surreal paintings on canvas back in the beginning through to artwork for pumpclips, beer labels and posters, editorial projects, and a fair few gothic esq cliches, sinister characters, crooked staircases and dragons (obviously) along the way.

Now it is a showcase for my current illustration work, which is mostly for the children's publishing market, and I make an effort to update it fairly regularly with new pieces of work, both in glorious full colour and black and white pen and ink illustrations too.

Something that is always a challenge and I expect it always will be is deciding which pieces of work actually stay in and which get thrown out... like any portfolio, be it web based or traditional. In the most recent redesign I have taken a lot of work out, favourite pieces of work in some cases, both published and unpublished, but I do think it helps to be stringent, and mindful of where you'd like your work to take you, or where it is already going.

So, amongst other things I've narrowed my portfolio down to 18 colour and 9 black and white pieces, and I hope to keep changing these, swapping old for new as exciting new work is available to share.

I'm quite happy with my site for now, but I expect I'll change it again as things dictate! It is a work in progress...

Visit my website -  here