Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year!

A New Year's Eve post is in order, I think! The last post of 2011! Holy sh- where does the time go?

I hope everyone has had a really fabulous Christmas and stuffed yourselves to the point of morbid obesity.

This is the first Christmas in a very long while where I didn't have dissertations or other such essays to write. This time last year I was sobbing in a dark corner over my dissertation on fairy tales that had to be in the day after New Year, which meant I had to travel the 5 hours back to university before Christmas had even officially ended, all the while trembling over the fact that I wouldn't let my dog read the damn thing for fear of her sneering at it, let alone a human EXAMINER.

This year, though, I've been home for the entire Christmas season, and have been able to enjoy it to the fullest (even if it was marred once again by a long-standing illness, it has been great nonetheless.)

I drank an inordinate amount of mulled cranberry juice.
I ate an inordinate amount of stuffing.
I watched 'A Muppet's Christmas Carol' approximately 90,000 times.

And since the Christmas period does not yet officially end for another 5 days, I plan on continuing with these activities right up until the very last minute.

However, I have suffered this Christmas from blurred vision (due to previously mentioned illness), and had been wholly unable to produce any artwork of any particular worth. For the entirety of the week leading up to Christmas and much of the week after, my crowning artistic achievement was a stupid doodle of two of my former housemates as 'Adventure Time' characters:


However, this artistic stupor has luckily abated this last day or so, and I've become super-productive. I decided to return to something I started about two months ago, but abandoned. It is a single scene done in a comic book-esque fashion. I just had a vision of a creepy little girl encountering an even creepier shadow-thing. It began as a kind of children's illustration, based very loosely on Greek Myth, but it's turned out probably a little 'darker' than most children (or at least, their parents) would like to see. Oh well, I do like how it turned out.

It's supposed to fit all on one page, but since most computer screens aren't big enough to show the whole thing at a decent size, I've broken it up into 3 pieces for this blog;

***I advise you to click the image below to view it properly.***

And here it is in full just so you can see how it supposed to look in full.

This one little scene that doesn't have any continuation of story to it has actually inspired an entire story of a similar vein, and so that is currently in development. Fear it.

And, continuing the Greek Myth theme this post has taken on, I give you a griffin on a pillar.

So, yes!
That is all for now, I think!
I hope everyone has had a jolly old 2011, and let's all hope 2012 is even better and full of fun and excitement (and that it doesn't end in some manner of nuclear/zombie/pirate apocalypse.)

Happy New Year!!! :)

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Foxes and etc.

I'm sitting in my living room. The Christmas tree is up, the entire house is decorated, and the dog has on her special red collar with white fur lining and jingling bells.
All of this suggests that we have arrived at my favourite time of the year!
*Breaks into song "It's the most wonderful tiiiime of the yeeeaaarrr!"*


It is snowing outside, though I don't think it'll settle or snow long enough to build up any significant layer. To be honest, I'd rather the snow held off until Christmas eve. I don't think I've ever seen snow at Christmas (snow in England is usually reserved for mid-January. Only the northern counties such as Yorkshire are likely to see snow earlier.), and it would be nice to be able to get in the final Christmas food-shop without any problems getting to and from town in the car, or being blocked in our house by the local bus that didn't slow down as it sped round the corner and slid gracefully into the ditch either side of our front gate. 
I do adore snow quite excessively though, so whenever it falls I run outside in my pj's in a great big happy mess, regardless of time of year, or whoever happens to be walking past on the road.

I enjoyed a really lovely Christmas BBQ yesterday with some wonderful friends - some I haven't seen for several years, and this has marked the official start to Christmas. YUY!
And, this morning I saw some reindeer at the local Christmas fayre! 

I also got a lovely little gold fox decoration for our Christmas tree from a very close friend. Here it is hanging next to another little fox decoration. There's a partridge in the corner looking a little worried at the prospect of dangling next to two foxes for the duration of the holiday season.


That's enough personal nonsense. Back to art.

I broke out the oil paints again after about 4 years and painted some foxes for my parents as a slightly early Christmas present:

The painting is slightly too big to stuff into the scanner, so I had to photograph it, and of course, this is a really, really, reeeally rubbish representation of the actual picture.

My mum has already placed an order for a wild boar painting from me for her birthday in a couple of months time, so that will probably reveal itself eventually.

So, yes! That's about all I have to say. I don't know what the hell I was thinking when I started typing. It's a pretty incoherent mess of sentences, isn't it? And of no particular interest to anyone. Oh well.
I can smell cranberry juice mulling in the kitchen, and should probably get back to wrapping presents. 


Saturday, 3 December 2011

Character Concepts

Hey Hey!
Long time no post. Well, kind of. I mean it’s only been about two weeks I think. That’s not overly long, really. Life kind of got in the way of me sitting down and typing words into sentences, and it’s also kind of got in the way of me drawing things - apart from the odd commission type stuff - which is a rather hellish experience for me as usually I cannot be torn away from my workspace with my stupid drawings of derpish animals. I sit down to draw something and realise I can’t decide on what, and simply end up flitting from idea to idea with no discernible goal. 
Instead of drawing new things I flicked through my sketchbooks and paper files, perusing my gigantic and disorganised collection of doodles for anything passable to turn into something more refined and professional-looking. *scoff*
I picked out various doodles to collect together for show. And here they are. Firstly, the worst of the lot, a bunch of humans. 

I’m not overly confident drawing humans. I rarely did it as a child as I found animals infinitely more interesting. I can do it when I have the motivation, but I much prefer drawing animals.
And now back to good old animals again.

Dogulars - African Wild Dog, Red Fox and Thylacine. (If you don’t know what a Thylacine is, what the hell is wrong with you? You are missing out on a really awesome animal. Unfortunately it’s extinct, killed by farmers because they thought they stole livestock - but this rumour was enormously exaggerated and they were killed off for no good reason - a famous photograph of a thylacine with a chicken in its mouth that was paraded around the country at the time as ‘evidence’ of this was later discovered to be a stuffed specimen. Typical. 
It could open its jaws to almost 120 degrees, similar to a snake, had pouches like all marsupials, and could hop like a kangaroo.
It is massive shame that they no longer exist.)
I advise you to check out some very rare footage of the last Thylacine known to exist:


Catlings - Serval, Ocelot and Snow Leopard.
Not much to say here really. I like these animals.

And finally to finish off a couple of rubbish sketches of a weird character I came up with as part of a little story about a circus. You’ve seen him already in an earlier post on this blog; Eli Lewis, the Lion-Tamer. He is a tamer-who-is-a-lion, and he trains cats.

And yes! That’s about all I have to say right now!
 It’s getting colder here and the changing season is evidenced by the daily migrations of the rooks from their usual haunts in the forests to the trees of the nearby estate grounds (and back again).
I have a glass of mulled apple juice and a nice fire to sit beside. Lovely!

Monday, 14 November 2011



It annoys me when people only care about endangered species if they’re cute and fluffy. For example, no one cares about Aye-Ayes because they kind of look like they’ll pull your brain out through your nose with their freaky elongated digits.

Sharks are particularly prone to this unfair judgement. They don’t have fur, many have a constant look of sheer rage on their faces, and they have the unfair discrimination of having every toothy encounter with a person, however big or small, published on news outlets worldwide, giving us the impression that sharks will soon be wriggling up our drainpipes as we wash the dishes.

The other day I came across an article entitled ‘Killer Sharks Infest Golf Course”. Freshwater sharks had been swept into a golf course lake by floods, and were now living there and even breeding happily. Golfers liked their presence, taking scraps of meat to feed them, saying they’d become quite tame and were peaceful to watch. So, what exactly makes them ‘killer’ sharks if they haven’t killed anyone? Because that particular species had been known to attack people? Why then don’t we attach ‘killer’ to all other human-attacking species, such as tigers, or pandas, or elephants... Or dogs, horses, cows, pigs, whales, dolphins, bears, hippos, lizards, birds etc?
Even though the article turned out to be harmless, the title made me very angry as it was clearly just an attention-grabbing selection of words playing on the “Jaws” idea people continue to cling to. Arrrgh!)


Love sharks! They love you for breakfast!
And love all fugly animals! They can't help their fugliness.


Since this is meant to be an art blog, I suppose it would be right and proper for me to post some artwork.

A little comic I created in memory of the wonderful framed set of Victorian photographs showing the process of a magician's magic trick - a fully fledged rose bush growing out of an empty vase. It was at an auction house I attended with my dad. While he pored lovingly over old paintings of badly-proportioned horses, I can across the Victorian magic photographs and fell to my knees and cried over how I could never ever have them as they had been priced a few hundred pounds out of my range. SO I MADE MY OWN.

Eli Lewis and his Cacophony of Cat O' Wauls. Characters from a little set of stories of mine about an odd little circus, called Papavero Circus. Words cannot describe how stupid these stories are. Genuinely. I can't imagine any parent ever letting their children read these stories unless they cared little for their mental well-being.
In fact, that might make an interesting new direction of advertising:

"Is your child too clever? Do you observe your child doing their advanced algebra homework and feel inferior? Is that special school for gifted children that your gifted child so desperately wants to go to too expensive? Then, fear no more. The book I'm about to reveal to you is guaranteed to scrub your child's superior brain of all thoughts on String Theory or nuclear fission like a road-maintenance man scrubbing badger intestines off of the pavement!"

More will eventually follow on this particular thread.

A simple creepy street scene. Went for a slightly wonky angle, and added a demon thingy - these little critters pop up a lot on my work. You'll get used to it.

Well, I think that's enough to be getting on with. Just a little taster of the kind of things I do. 
This blog will be updated whenever I feel I have a piece of artwork I feel compelled to share.

A Sad Day

As I said in my first post, I've decided to transfer a couple of posts from my previous blog to this shiny new blog just so there is something interesting to look at between now and the time I next post up new drawings or writings.

This post was from about a month ago, when I discovered that my old school was closing down. People really liked this post, so I'm putting it here.


T’is a sad Day.
I am breaking briefly away from my habit of posting stupid doodles of cartoon animals to inform you all of some rather upsetting news.
My old school, that I attended for 9 years, is closing because of a lack of funds after 80 years.
It was a small school of about 200 students; all girls except for some boys up to the age of 7, situated in a small village surrounded by fields.

A former workhouse, Amberfield was a real, classic English school, with strict rules on uniform - tartan skirts had to be the right length just above the knees, no jumpers were to be worn under blazers, even in the icy depths of mid-winter. Hairbands had to comply with the colours of the uniform (red, blue, green or black), and absolutely, positively NO. MAKE-UP.

Manners were an enormous part of daily life. Few students dared question the authority of the teachers, fewer still lived to tell the tale. The ultimate punishment was a trip to the Headmistress’s office, where students would stand and face judgement under the accusing gaze of the toy wombat on the sofa by the window.

I was part of the choir (which was pretty bloody good) that often participated in local musical events. The Christmas Carol Service was always the highlight of the year, walking up the aisle singing and carrying candles that dripped hot wax all over our hands, hoping to God the hairspray-smothered hair of the girl in front wouldn’t ignite in the close proximity of so many open flames.

Once a year we sat in dire boredom as some guest speaker rambled on as part of the riveting spectacle that was Founders’ Day, an occasion that took place in the Great Hall where we would gather every morning to sing hymns and say the Lord’s Prayer, being careful to pronounce the “let us pray” as clearly as we could for fear of being rebuked by the drama teacher for saying, “lettuce spray”.

Amberfield sported a rather impressive science building, and had what must have been one of the country’s best biology rooms, painted in the style of a fluorescent green rainforest, with bugs, snakes and birds adorning every inch of the walls (though, it was eventually repainted a Fail-tastic shade of pale green - so that we might focus harder on our studies than on the colourful surroundings. Or something.)

Sports Day was another highlight of the calender... If you were sporty, that is. If you weren’t sporty, however, it was a hellish maze of embarrassment and boredom, barely managing to even finish the 200 yard race and accidentally lobbing shot-puts into the watching crowd. I was always particularly good at the high-jump, though my confidence in my abilities was tainted one Sports Day when I landed spine-first onto the bar which failed to fall down with me as it was supposed to, thus leaving me with a nice bar-shaped bruise along the small of my back.

Hockey and netball were the school’s two main sports, and, after years of running around, lobbing the ball with all my might to get it as far away from my personal space as possible before all the good, aggressive players came charging at me like bulls, expecting me to defend myself, I never even came close to learning the rules or what each player was meant to do.

The school had a close relationship with the local residents of the village, giving out gifts collected by students to the elderly every Christmas. And any student who travelled by bus to and from the school would remember the old gentleman who sat outside his house on the other side of the road and waited for our buses to pass so that he could wave happily - and of course, we never failed to return the favour, shouting “It’s Old Man! Wave to Old Man!”.

(A photo of me crawling through the undergrowth of the 'Forbidden Path' that ran round the side of the school. No more good little girl. I'm rebelling, beeches. Photo taken by my lovely friend Julia Bagert.)

I met some of my absolute bestest-friends-for-everest at Amberfield school, and, six years after leaving, I still like to recall all the strange and silly things we got up to. I remember vividly the smell of the biology, physics and chemistry rooms, and the smell of the art room. I remember standing in the downstairs section of the textiles room, painting the same piece of cloth over and over again as slowly and meticulously as I could to stave off the stage where I have to go upstairs and sit at the sewing-machine by the textiles teacher’s desk, feeling her hawkish eyes boring into the back of my skull, watching my every move, waiting for me to accidentally thread the machine with tacking thread, or forget to put the presser-foot down so that she could explode in a disproportionate rage at my insolence.

The day we all left and parted ways was a sad day indeed, not to mention terrifying. We were breaking away from the sweet little bubble of innocence that was Amberfield school and searching for our places in the world, worrying about university applications, swearing and blinding at the UCAS website, getting jobs. Amberfield equipped us well for all of this. I thank it most graciously for its efforts in giving me such a well-rounded education.

I leave you, Amberfield, with one complaint. I’ve always been an artist. I always knew I would draw pictures for a living. I told you. I told you I would never need algebra. I told you that I would go out of my way to avoid any career involving algebra at all costs. But, still, you insisted on shoving it in my face. To little effect. Your endeavours failed miserably. I’ve forgotten it all. Ha!

(This lovely photo was taken by Julia. And unfortunately that gorgeous german shepherd is hers, not mine. I'm the one in the middle, pondering how I can get the dog into my car without Julia knowing.)

Shiny New Blog with a Bird on it!

Hello all,

My name is Sophie, and this is my blog. I had another blog on a different blogging site, but I decided it was time for a change, and so back in June or July I registered this blog... and then 4 months later here I am actually beginning the switchover to Blogger. Fascinating stuff I know.
Anyway, this blog is primarily an art blog. I am an illustrator and as such I am prone to drawing things. And those drawing things may well end up posted here for all to laugh at. I will sometimes break up the artworks with writing and other such things that take my fancy, so that'll be something you can look forward to laughing at, too!

I suppose I should explain the relevance of 'Paper Magpie' as a title for a blog. The reasons are threefold:

1. I am a total paper magpie. I love books. I love paper. I simply cannot throw away paper. No matter how crumpled or torn or covered in paint, pencil or muddy boot prints it is I always have this nagging feeling that it will one day be of vital, life-saving importance. And so I must hoard it.

2. The term 'Paper Magpie' vaguely refers to a little project of mine that is no where near completion (and it may be that it never will). Hopefully, though. Hopefully, it will be ready to show sometime in the near future. Exciting stuff, eh?

3. I love magpies. They are such beautiful birds - and so underrated, I think. They have the most beautiful iridescent feathers! And, they're exceptionally intelligent, one of only a handful of creatures on this planet that can recognise themselves in a mirror. They also hold 'funerals' for dead family members. I just luff them.

So, yes! Now you know me, somewhat.
I hope you enjoy what nonsense spills forth from these pages. I shall post shortly a few articles from my previous blog just to have something interesting to read before my next 'new new' post.