Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Creative Anxiety: A Common Problem?

Admittedly, I haven't utilised this blog as much as a should have during the Summer months, only blogging about limited things but leaving out my thoughts during my journey as a budding professional creative. Therefore, I am taking this opportunity to share with you a small part of my mind at present.

As a student at University, there is always that sense of having to achieve at your maximum potential to gain the best out of your degree. However, as a creative I feel that there isn't enough time to develop, and it is a struggle to reach your maximum creativity when faced with more than just education. Since beginning University, the challenges I have faced have affected the development of my creativity. Such factors include larger issues like moving away from home, making new friends, losing old friends and being forced to become independent in a short space of time. However, even budgeting money, having a part time job and figuring out the washing machine are all factors which have never been included in my previous creative practice. This means that my time has to be divided into education, social life, and simply looking after myself whilst staying healthy. 

University doesn't seem to acknowledge these factors, and we are expected to grow and develop at a fast pace which often isn't manageable. I'm sure any budding, or even professional creative has their struggles whether it be due to having a full/ part-time job, family or just finds themselves too busy to really focus on their true love: art. 

At this present moment, I have been struggling to find the right topic to start on my next 'breakthrough' project. I have a desire to always develop on my last body of work, though I feel limited to what I should do. Being at University has made me question even the basic ideas, complicate them until they are truly unique and meaningful. Through doing this I always come to a dead end.

My creative anxiety is stopping me from creating. Is this a common problem?

Thanks for reading, sorry for the lack of visuals,


Saturday, 6 September 2014

A Collaboration of Two Taylor's Make 'TAYLOR MADE'

Logo design created by myself. Digital in Photoshop

I am very excited to announce, to all those who are not yet aware, that I have recently become part of a collaboration with a very talented local photographer of West Yorkshire, Alex Taylor. We have named our collaboration 'Taylor Made Arts' due to our shared surnames of 'Taylor' (coincidentally the same might I add and not related!).

Since we began in July 2014, we have produced several works based on the idea of combining two different practices, photography and illustration to create new and unique imagery. Photography and illustration has been combined many times before, but I would like to emphasize how the local imagery and illustrative style of Taylor Made is completely fresh and innovative.

We are very proud of what we have achieved so far! Here are the stages of the process we took to create our very first image:

Step 1: Photograph

Alex, the amazing photographer of 'Taylor Made' captures the local scenery in West Yorkshire through his lens.

For our first image, I was allowed choose an image from any of his existing photography - one lucky illustrator! Therefore, I chose a beautiful image named 'Blue Bell Birch'. Vibrant tones particularly stood out to me, I couldn't wait to illustrate the image!

Alex Taylor's, 'Blue Bell Birch'

Step 2: Illustration

This is where my role in the collaboration begins: the illustration.

The technique I chose for this piece was mono-printing with acrylic to mimic the vibrancy of the blue bells in the original photograph. Then, I added in more detail with charcoal to bring out the features of the tree trunk. The contrast creates a strong illustration but more importantly I have not just copied the image, I have re-invented it with the choice of media and style.

Blue Bell Birch, illustration by Carla Taylor

Step 3: Merge

In the final stage, the original photograph and illustration are merged in Photoshop to create an entirely new and unique image. Here I demonstrate the process which I undertake to create this new work of art:

Open photograph in Photoshop (CS6)

Scan in illustration and place over the photograph (file-place).  The opacity was reduced to reveal part of the photo, then the image was rotated to align the tree trunk in both the photo and illustration. 

Creating a layer mask allows that particular layer to be manipulated. This allowed me to use the gradient tool to fade in the edges of the illustration to create a softer look.

Using the curve layer, I altered the brightness and contrast until I was happy that the two images merged together effectively.

Finally, reducing the saturation made the tones softer and subtle.

Final Image

And there we have it, Taylor Made's first ever image! I hope you enjoyed learning about the process in which the final image was created.

In general, this is the main process that is followed with each Taylor Made image, though of course the imagery can change including the way the illustration and photograph are merged in Photoshop. I can only speak about the illustration and merged image in regards to how they are made, though I know Alex will also use his creative eye to create unique and captivating imagery.

Personally, I am very excited about the upcoming projects for Taylor Made though I am proud of what we have achieved so far. Have a look at ALL of Taylor Made's artwork so far on our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter.

There is more to come!

Thanks for reading,


Friday, 8 August 2014

An Inspiring Journal for an Aspiring Illustrator


That is the only word (expression?) which came to mind after reading illustrator Holli Conger's journal which she wrote 10 years ago in 2004- the same year I began my own journey through secondary school. It seems such a long time ago now! Well, I guess it was.

The journal entry which she wrote was titled 'Becoming an Illustrator: One girl's journey to doing what she loves'. I stumbled across this article after completing several searches in Google to find out how to become an illustrator. This stemmed from anxieties and losing faith in my abilities to ever make a career of illustration; it never seemed practical.

Consisting of 12 parts, Conger explains her ups and down throughout a year of making it to become a successful illustrator. In her journal entries, she includes marketing strategies, portfolio building and ways to get her name out there as a creative. Reading through, it was clear that the journey Conger undertook was genuine and passionate, and never once did she give up on her dream.

I cannot reflect on how brilliant it was to read all 12 journal entries (I was hooked after the first one) as it is something that should be appreciated whilst reading it yourself. However, I can say that after the final entry, my mood and general attitude towards illustration as a career had become more positive. It was truly inspiring to learn how one illustrator found success even through negative, unmotivated times, and with a bit of determination and effort a dream can definitely come true!

I will definitely rethink my attitude towards my dream and begin taking the necessary steps to become a successful illustrator myself.


Thanks for reading!


Read the journal entries yourself here

Find the work of Holli Conger on her website here

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Contacting Artist: Sharon Tiernan

Home is always pleasant and I wish I could visit more, though being at University has meant I cannot come back as often as I'd like. Bridlington, East Yorkshire, is where I call home and there is nothing nicer than being beside the seaside in an English summer. There are also other perks of visiting, and that is the local art scene; this is where I found the beautiful and technically brilliant work of Sharon Tiernan in a gallery in the centre of town.


As soon as I saw her work I had a desire to know more! Therefore, this is how Tiernan responded after I contacted her: 

"Hello Carla.
Thank you for your kind words. 
I don't mind you writing about my work in your blog, and don't mind you using my images.
I have included some of my Personal Statement, as follows:

Sharon Tiernan
Born: Scarborough 1979
Trained: (First Class BA Hons) University of York.
(MA Painting) University of Hull.
Currently works as an artist and tutor of art.

I have a solid grounding in the arts and have a First Class BA Honours degree and Master of Arts degree in Painting. I have exhibited previously in London and Leeds; but have mainly spent the last few years concentrating on passing on my knowledge of the arts through teaching others. I currently teach art and photography in a local Secondary School (full time). I have a studio in Scarborough, which tends to get used mainly on Saturdays and during the school holidays, but occasionally if I am feeling energetic then I will do a couple of hours after work.

This body of work comprises of an eclectic mix of images, demonstrating wide and varied interests. I see painting as problem solving; like a challenge and enjoy stepping out of my comfort zone. I am interested in the physical act of painting, particularly Realist painting, Trompe L’Oeil and photorealist painting. I have a love of painting for its own sake.The physical act of painting is a meditative act which enables you to ‘see’ and appreciate the beauty which surrounds us, which we often take for granted. It is essential for me when acquainting myself with a subject, to aim for accuracy and realism within my work. Usually when I am painting, something within the image will have captured my interest and intrigued me, whether it be the texture of fur or feathers, or simply the composition within the image. I tend to work from photographs and have a keen interest in photography, but on occasions I will work from direct observation if the subject permits.

The method I use is to lightly sketch out the image, and then block in the tones using brown under-painting. At this stage the under-painting enables me to correct the shape and look at the composition within the images without getting too involved with the fine detail. I tend to build the colour up within the painting using lots of layers, and gradually use smaller and smaller brushes to work into the image (using cross hatching and hatching techniques). I also glaze into the images with acrylic gloss medium to give a richer depth to the colour.

As for my recent inspiration: I had a brush with cancer in 2013 and consequently had 9 months away from the easle due to chemo treatment etc (it was frustrating not to be able to paint - the worst bit about the experience). Even during treatment when I could venture out; I still thought about my art and took my camera with me to record images for potential paintings... e.g. the squirrels within the exhibition were taken from photos I shot of them at this time. Little things such as feeding the ducks and squirrels became highly important and meaningful, and gave me a lot of upliftment and pleasure. As soon as I was able to get back into the studio, I began to transcribe the source material I had gathered, and recreate the images which had meant so much to me during treatment, in paint. Since getting the 'All Clear', I have been back in the studio with a vengence making up for lost time! It certainly increases your passion and desire to paint when that is taken from you. 

Hope that this helps?

Yours Sincerely
Sharon Tiernan"

I couldn't be happier with Tiernan's response. It is honest and genuine, really expressing the artist's journey as a painter. Her skills in painting are completely perfect, capturing the vivid tones and textures in the subjects of her work. The detail in the pieces is defined and it is clear how much time and passion goes into each one. Tiernan's recent experiences have only enhanced her love of the arts making each piece even more special.

Personally, with my love of animals and nature, the subjects of Tiernan's paintings are what drew me to her work, although I could not ignore the skill and precision in every piece. Her story only gives the paintings more depth and meaning, instantly connecting with the viewer on a more personal level. I certainly will be looking out for more of her work!

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, 24 July 2014

Collaborating with Alex Moldovan for Monochrome Madness Exhibition (Sunday 20th July 2014)

Having been to the previous pop-up exhibition, 'Without Us There is Only Mud', run by the Unpretentious Arts (click here for my previous blog post about the exhibition), I was kindly invited by one of the photographers, Alex Moldovan, to collaborate and be part of the next exhibition 'Monochrome Madness'. 

I was absolutely excited to be part of the next exhibition and couldn't wait to get stuck into the collaboration! As an exhibition, there were five photographers and five artists (including myself) who took part. Each piece would reflect on a poem they were given from a collection written by Antonia Kinlan, a very talented poet!

Collaborating with Alex Moldovan

Initial discussions took place over a coffee, a very long chat indeed! I was introduced to the poem we were given titled 'Worth':


In the Darkness
I wonder what I ever did
To reap such rewards?
Giving comes easily
But the lack of return
Makes me question
My worth,
Kindness reaps neglect
An emptiness that lingers
Long after apologies
Are never offered.

After much discussion, we both decided on a theme for our collaborative piece. This theme would use 'loss' and the spiritual world' as a starting point. Here I drew up a basic concept of the idea we came up with:

'Doodle' of composition
The basic idea was to split the image into two, so the top half and model would be photography and the bottom half would be my illustration. The scene would be in a forest setting with the model in a lake so we could get the reflection of water in the image; my illustration would become part of the reflection.
Once the idea was agreed on, it was time for the photoshoot. Alex decided to be the model in the image therefore it was quite interesting helping with the shoot! After losing a pair of flip flops, imitating Billy Elliot, and getting very very wet and muddy, the photograph was complete!

Photograph by Alex Moldovan
Now I had the photograph as a base, I was able to begin my illustration for the piece. The arm movement in the image immediately reminded me of a bird's wings, therefore as there is a lot of spiritual symbolism of birds I decided to illustrate an Eagle in flight as I felt the bird symbolised power, freedom and spirit, all aspects I wanted to portray in the image.

Initial bird sketch in watercolour

Eagle illustration in watercolour by Carla Taylor

I was very happy with how the illustration turned out, making sure I included detail and tone in the image. The background is loose contrasting with the detail in the bird which I feel works well. When I sent the image over to my collaboration partner, Alex, he suggested that I also illustrate some feathers to enhance the piece overall.

Feathers in watercolour by Carla Taylor

Now the illustrations were complete, it was down the Alex to use his fantastic Photoshop skills to merge the photography and illustrations together. I was able to watch the whole process of editing which was very intriguing! Five hours later, the final image was complete!

Before and After: Original Photograph (left) and Merged Image (right)

'Worth' by Carla Taylor and Alex Moldovan 

'Worth' Colour Version by Carla Taylor and Alex Moldovan

Overall I am very happy with how the image turned out, especially the colour version. The detail in my illustration is not lost and I think it compliments the photograph effectively, as well as the poem.

Monochrome Madness Exhibition

Flyer featuring myself for the upcoming exhibition!

'Worth' on display at the exhibition

Monochrome Madness Exhibition. Photography by Matthew Nuttall

I must say that after meeting all of the artists I was pleasantly surprised by not only their work but their enthusiasm and creative passion. It was interesting to see different interpretations of Antonia Kinlan's poetry come to life altogether in the exhibition. Unlike in my last post, I am going to leave it up to you as a viewer to interpret and enjoy the work yourself just as I did in the exhibition. Here are the pieces featured, photography by Alex Taylor:

Caitlin Sagan's piece with a slight tone of blue to enhance the detail in the photograph, stunning!

Briony Sullivan's painting really shows off her talent, the text included really allows the viewer to think about the meaning behind the work.

Howard Cheslett's sculpture completely captures symbolism and religion in his piece, the effort is clearly noticed!

Katie Lodge and her piece; a lovely realistic portrait really captures the mood of Kinlan's poetry.

Mark Lawrence once again impresses all with this fantastic, eerie sculpture.

Martin Beech's photography work is of a very high standard keeping in theme with Kinlan's dark poetry.

Photograph and piece by Matthew Nuttall. Incredible how the photograher has captured the sky in this image, so much detail!

Alex Taylor's photograph for the exhibition. The beautiful smokiness in the background of the image really creates the perfect backdrop and reflection of Kinlan's poem, a remarkable piece!

Overall, all those who took part in the exhibition should be extremely proud, all the work was amazing and complimented the poetry very well! A special thanks goes out to the Unpretentious Arts- Brian
and Antonia Kinlan who organised this event, Herbert's Bar for hosting it and of course a huge thanks to Antonia for providing such inspiring poetry!

Watch this space for the next pop-up exhibition by the Unpretentious Arts!

Saturday, 14 June 2014

'Without Us There Is Only Mud' : A Closer Look at the Work of Mark Primus

After reviewing the 'Without Us There is Only Mud' exhibition, I was delighted to receive this wonderful photograph by Mark Primus who was featured as one of the nine artists/ photographers. I had seen this photograph at the exhibition although was unable to find it afterwards to review! 

Therefore, here is my review of this wonderful piece by Primus, interpreting the poem 'No U.N. Intervention' by Brian Kinlan:

Stunted growth
The only measure left
Of a once giant cloud bearer
A desolate patch that contains
Enough physical evidence
For those willing to prosecute a crime

Primus' interpretation of a poem by Brian Kinlan
The immediate focus of the piece was the definite skull shape stretching along the bark of the tree. This gives connotations of death and fear, themes which could also be symbolised by the birds, in particular crows which are also symbolic of death and bad omens. 

Subtle red (bloody) markings including a hand print, imply a crime scene which reflects on the last line of the poem 'For those willing to prosecute a crime'. It is clear that Primus thought of every last detail with the portrayal of crime including several notions which relate to this theme including: the red markings implying blood, the skull embedded into the bark of the tree, the symbolic crows and the sign reading 'KEEP OUT'- a clear indication that something terrible has happened within this scene.

Personally, I love the more subtle and delicate smokiness of the clouds in the background. This insinuates a more fantasy-like notion within the piece that could represent the spirits of those who had been caught in this 'death trap'. This perhaps suggests a greater sense of 'crime' and death than may initially be implied.

In relation to the poem, Primus has interpreted it well and the viewer can see a distinct relation between the poem and photograph. In particular I noted the heavy clouds in the piece reflect on the line 'Of a once giant cloud bearer' and the tree has deliberately been chosen to reflect on the opening line of the poem 'Stunted growth'.

Overall, this piece is very strong and an effective interpretation of Kinlan's poem. The subtle red tones break up the monotones in the image, whilst the detail and connotations within the piece make the viewer left wanting to know more about the story behind the image.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, 8 June 2014

Pop-up Exhibition:Without Us There Is Only Mud

Apologies for my lack of blogging lately! I am back on track and ready to tell you all about my latest artistic ventures.

So I was kindly invited to a pop-up exhibition back in May by one of the featured photographers, Alex Moldovan, therefore I could not refuse! The exhibition named 'Without Us There Is Only Mud' was organised by The Unpretentious Arts, an Arts House run by a passionate couple, Brian and Antonia Kinlan. 
The exhibition explores nine different interpretations by four photographers and five artists, of nine poems written by Brian Kinlan. Initially when I arrived at the event, I was astounded by the amount of people who turned up to see the wonderful artists! This made it difficult to interact with the artists themselves, however I was able to view their work without any knowledge of the poetry which inspired each piece. This approach was refreshing and allowed me to gain my own perspective of each work rather than being influenced by the text which they had interpreted. Even so, I did get a copy of the poetry collection after viewing the work which gave me a better insight into the intentions of the artists/ photographers. 

'Devils in Our Midst' by Caitlin Sagan
As a collective, I found the themes of most pieces to be quite similar with clear elements of nature in each. This was very definite in the first photograph I viewed by Caitlin Sagan who appeared to draw on ideas of isolation and mystery, not giving too much away in the image. Though initially my eyes drew me to the darkness in the foreground, I was unable to ignore the light in the background which suggested an earlier time of day. This seemed intentional when reading a line of the poem 'There seems panic this morning'. Daylight can be associated with safety and joy, though in this photograph I get a sense of a juxtaposition between the innocence of light with the fear of the shadows.

The next set of work interested me greatly with Brian Lewis' drawings which he even admitted to be quite illustrative. The set of drawings were presented in a triptych style; the subject of the images being very open to interpretation. Dark, thick lines gave a comic-strip feel to his work; the bright blue background enhanced this notion.

Brian Lewis, left, standing in front of his illustrative triptych. Photograph by Alex Taylor.

I was very pleased to manage to talk to Lewis about his work and view it from the artist's perspective. His illustrations were seemingly created using charcoal, but I was soon corrected and was told of the true media, "woodys". Having never heard of this media before, I was especially impressed by the artist's passion to gain and use such a unique form of material. Lewis then went on to say how his creations were made "in front of the television" and straight from his imagination. This was an admirable quality to have and demonstrated his abilities as an artist. I was given a new perspective of his work when he picked up some of his drawings, turning the pages to allow me to see a variety of imagery within individual pieces. Overall, Lewis was pleasant to speak with and even demonstrated an interest in myself as a budding illustrator, offering advice.

Briony Sulivan's painting interpreting poem, 'Last of the Mohicans'.
Photograph by Alex Taylor
Tray Tronic and Briony Sulivan were the next artists I came across. Tronic made an abstract piece full of bold colour using oil paint, whilst Sulivan used vibrant acrylics to make a beautiful fairytale piece. Pamela Lum's beautiful watercolour illustrations were also featured, interpreting the poem with the title of the exhibition 'Without Us There Is Only Mud'.

Below, Alex Taylor's  eerie yet stunning interpretation of Kinlan's poem 'Forced Eviction'. Focus is immediately drawn to the fallen tree among its structured neighbours relating well with the line 'Movement is strange when used to standing still' from the poem. The nature is personified in relation to the poem giving a sense of life and emotion. Reflections in the river give depth to the image, whilst portraying the image in black and white insinuates there is something dark and unknown within the image.

Alex Taylor's 'Shore Line', interpretation of poem written by Brian Kinlan

Moving along the exhibition, Alex Moldovan presented a conceptual piece of photography with the title 'Trapped'.

'Trapped' by Alex Moldovan
I love the way the photographer made the arms appear to have the same texture as the bark of the tree as though the branches have taken human form. It is very effective and makes the tree behind the subject (self-portrait) come to life immediately. This reflects one particular line of the poem 'Merchants of Death' by Kinlan - 'Chippings give an aesthetic appeal'. The density of the forest gives a sense of isolation which can reflect the title 'trapped' quite easily, as well as the subject being physically 'trapped' among the 'arms' of the tree. Regardless of the idea of being trapped, the subject does not appear to be resisting; this may be in response to two of the lines in the poem: 'I no longer contain any fight, Or defiance'. Overall, this piece is effective and reflects the chosen poem very well.

Photograph by Mark Primus
Finally, I was able to see the work of Mark Primus and Mark Lawrence. Primus' work mainly had a definite focus on nature, although there were some cute portraits of babies which I couldn't resist saying 'awww' too! One image which stood out in particular was presented in his portfolio. Shown on the right, the detail of the leopard immediately stood out to me. Initially, I hadn't even noticed the subtle human portrait merged in with the animal. The sharpness and striking composition left me 'wowed' by this amazing piece.

Artists in front of Lawrence's contemporary piece.
Lawrence's work was completely unique in comparison to the other work displayed in the exhibition. The abstract artwork forced me to have a closer look at the piece and ponder over the possibilities of its meaning. Visible more from a side view, Lawrence had made his piece stand out in a 3-D effect using mixed media, possibly mount board, to make the geometrical shapes stand out. The title of the poem the artist interpreted 'X Marks the Spot' made the hint of yellow in his piece make much more sense than when I initially viewed the piece.
Overall, I was impressed by the diversity between each piece of work I saw at the exhibition. The turn out was amazing and it was clear that it was a great success! A great chance to see the artists/ photographers work and meet them in person.