Still Life

Here’s an illustration that didn’t require much research thanks to all of the references already laid out in front of me. I pretty much created a still life of my desk.

My immortalized desktop can be found in the April issue of Spider Magazine, accompanying instructions on how to make a magazine holder out of an old cereal box and paper scraps. I remember making something similar to this as a kid, and I’m pretty sure it had mostly unicorns plastered all over it.

magasine holder craft, Spider magazin, paper collage illustratione

Pockets Warhol

Ever wonder what happened to Darwin the baby Japanese Macaque, famously known as the Ikea monkey? Well, he’s since shed his fashionable coat and is now living life more monkey-like at the Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary. The sanctuary cares for over 20 monkeys, ranging from Marmosets, Lemurs, Squirrel Monkeys (my favourite), Spider Monkeys, Capuchin monkeys, Macaques, to Baboons.

Last fall, I had the pleasure of illustrating an article about Story Book Farm for the CWF’s kid’s magazine WILD. The article shed light on a special Macaque named Pockets Warhol who has an affinity for making art. His finger paintings have quite the following, and are auctioned off to help raise money for the farm.

pockets warhol painting monkey

Pockets relies on his assistant to lay down a canvas and squeeze out droplets of paint, but the rest is up to him. I wanted show off his distinct finger strokes in my illustration, so I first made the blank canvas with paper and then over-layed one of his actual paintings in photoshop. You could say I, too, was his assistant in this case!

Scrapbooked Cat

I’ve always shied away from using scrapbooking paper in my illustrations. I made the assumption long ago that using mass-produced, store-bought patterns would dilute my style of all it’s uniqueness. And so, working around this, I found ways to make my own patterned/textured paper using paints and stamps.

Last weak I loosened my pride a bit, and gave into experimenting with some available scrapbooking sheets. Using my boyfriend’s Balinese cat as my subject, I set out to recreate her transitional fur colouring using only the paper at hand. The tiny printed patterns proved very useful in this challenge, and I’m very happy with the results.

What I previously thought would dilute actually enhanced.

Toy_scraps

Toy_process

Toy_photo

And here’s a photo of the lovely lady herself. Toy is her name. She enjoys climbing up ladders, watching movies on your lap and eating the occasional piece of bacon now and then. She loathes the vacuum cleaner. (Photo Credit: Kevin C. W. Wong)

Year of the Otter

Last year around this time, I was finishing up the final artwork for Sizing Up Winter. The cover features a river otter slipping down a snowy slope into an icy pond, which is meant to be a close up of one of the inside spreads (pictured below).

sizing up winter otters in pond sliding swimming childrens book owlkids

It was a struggle to recreate the river otter’s likeness. Their colouring and proportions have to be just so, or else they end up looking more like seals or bears or groundhogs, even. After a handful of revisions and tweaks to the cover otter’s face and body, I was finally satisfied and all was completed and sent to the publisher.

I was far from done illustrating otters as you’ll see.

otter face closeup paper collage

Soon after, I found myself working on a third otter piece. This time it was a gift for my boyfriend, Kevin. Inspired by one of his otter drawings, I set out to recreate a similarly lush seaweed setting by recycling some paper greenery from a past project involving two goldfish (you can view it here).

It was pretty clear by now that I secretly enjoyed the trial and error process of recreating  this puzzle of an animal.

framed otter art succulent dragonfly paper collage illustration

The drawing I was referring to (pictured below) is titled Twists & Turns, and is one of many beautifully detailed napkin and coffee sleeve drawings that Kevin posts and writes about on his blog: http://kevindrawingonnapkins.com/

kevindrawingonnapkins_otter

otter process drawing sketchesA couple months later, and I was back on the otter track. I began working with Crush on another animation project, this time for Seattle’s Woodland Zoo.

My job was to stylize each of the featured zoo animals, giving them a simplified, geometrical, Charley Harper sort of look. Among the long list of animals to be drawn was the Asian Otter.

“Oh goody”, I remember thinking, as I was quite confident in the otter department by then. It was the quickest turn-around drawing I had ever made, and for good reason I guess. The lion cubs were another story!

Crush designer, Jullian Ablaza, would later transform each of my drawings into beautifully rendered vectorized art. (You can see an example of our process to the right.) Jullian did an amazing job with palette and pattern, and inspired me to consider using a little adobe illustrator in my future art projects (a skill I hadn’t quite mastered yet).

As well as designing some of the animals, animator Yoho Hang Yue, really brought everything to life! You can see for yourself in the final Woodland Zoo piece below.

So if 2013 was the year of the otter, I wonder what’s in store for 2014?

Sweet Potato Vine Update

I find it coincidental that the same week I watched “Gravity” in theatres, my sweet potato plant decided to give in to gravity and lower its vines.

As mentioned in my previous post, the vines were “growing upwards, straight like a sapling”…well, that’s simply not the case anymore! In the span of 48 hours, it’s stalks bent completely over like fallen timber and continued growing like nothing had happened. Its newly swooped vines give the plant a more balanced shape now, and I’m happy to see that it’s settling comfortably into its new, roomier pot.

sweet potato vine plant potted

Trick or Treat

Happy Halloween, friends! Here’s a festive spread I made for Chirp’s October issue.

I’ve included some close ups of the little cowboy puzzle below. On the page, kids are asked to number the scenes in order, but don’t worry, I’ve done the work for you :)

kids costumes halloween childrens illustration chirp

halloween kids costumes paper collage

trick or treat types paper collage

halloween comic cowboy costume halloween

Sweet Potato Vine

I came across this diagram in one of my old houseplant books:

vintage houseplant book sweet potato vine diagram

Sweet-potato placed in a pickle jar soon makes an attractive house vine”, it read. Seeming easy enough, I gave it a try with a few modifications.

Placed in a pot with soil, my store-bought sweet potato began to grow leaves a couple of days after it’s first watering. The leaves were waxy and veiny like tiny techni-colour bat’s wings, at first — a really strange sight to see!

sweet potato vine plant

It’s been over a month now, and this experiment of a plant is doing quite well. Unlike the diagram, my sweet potato’s vine is growing upwards, straight like a sapling. Maybe if it stays healthy over the winter I’ll be able to plant it outside come spring. I’ll share its progress in the coming months.


Hello

My name is Ashley Barron and I'm a Toronto based illustrator. This is my online show & tell of new artwork and anything else I find inspiring. Thanks for taking a look :)

my website:

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Soon this deer will have some friends in the picture. #wip @humanesociety Pulled up some Jerusalem Artichokes from the backyard this morning. Ever tried one? They're crunchy and nutty flavoured. #sunchokes Travelling back in time to grade 3. #decoupage My corn seedlings are quickly outgrowing their starter pods. Hurry Spring! Warm up already!! Come on out to the @gcbatco #seasonopener2014 happening this Wednesday at #Steamwhistle Brewery, and see how a bunch of artists have transformed their baseball bats. (Here's a detail of mine.) bulletin board Okay, so I lied. It's actually Puffin Appreciation Day! #ShapingUpSummer #Owlkids Happy skunk appreciation day! A peek inside my newly released "Shaping Up Summer": the fourth and final book in the Math in Nature series! #owlkids #skunks

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