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Merrie & Bright

When I first started my tentative journey into children's illustration in 2014 (from my original background in Fine Art painting), the great catalyst for me was the encouragement I found on social media. Regular challenges such as Daily Doodle on Twitter gave me a platform to share work, inspiration to attempt new subject matter and, most importantly, the generous feedback and support of other illustrators. I was desperate to find my feet again creatively after having my lovely son and daughter (then 5 and 2) and starting to emerge from the fog that comes with those early days of sleep-deprived motherhood.

I had the thought that it would be fun to make a drawing each day during advent. I'm not sure exactly what made me think that combining looking after a 5 and a 2 year old, teaching part-time and making a new watercolour and gouache painting each day would be a good idea, but that's what I did. You can see what I made that first year on the 'Festive' page of this website. I called it #illo_advent and the little band of friends that I made during that funny, intense month of painting are friends still. It was the strange gulf it left when we got to the end of advent that gave birth in January 2015 to #colour_collective, but that's a whole other story.

This year's effort was a much more relaxed affair. As soon as I had the idea of a bookshop, it all fell into place. I could picture the final scene, it was just a case of adding things for 24 days to get me up to that point. Making it on Procreate allowed me to colour in as I travelled to work and add things while I spent time with the family. The idea of showing it changing throughout the day came just as I started. Some bits are rough and ready, some bits came out better than I'd imagined. Posting something everyday forces you to not be too precious.

Thanks to you if you've commented or liked posts I've made on Twitter or Instagram as I've made it. It's exactly that kind of encouragement that made me think I could be an illustrator in the first place.


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