Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Vegan Dessert Bread with Bananas and Berries


It's been a while since I've posted a recipe here. I've been trying to keep the blog mostly about my illustration work, but since I got quite a positive response when I posted images of this dessert on my Facebook and Twitter profiles, I decided to upload the recipe. It's based on a banana bread recipe, but quite heavily modified. I'm not even sure what to to call this creation, but it was tasty, soft, and moist.

Moist Vegan Dessert Bread with Bananas and Berries


1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 whole bananas)*
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup margarine (plus a little extra for greasing)
1/3 cup of almond milk*
1/3 cup of fresh blueberries
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 tablespoon ground almonds (optional)*
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

2-3 large strawberries
1 fresh fig


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 C). Grease a 9 inch diameter round pan with a little bit of margarine and sprinkle it with a little bit of sugar. Feel free to use a 9x5 inch pan instead, or any other kind that holds a similar amount of volume.

2. In a large bowl, cream the margarine and sugar together until smooth. Mash the bananas and add them to the mix, along with the almond milk and the vanilla extract. Lastly, gently stir in the blueberries.

3. In a different bowl mix together the dry ingredients. I recommend using a whisk for combining these together because it seems that with this method, baked goods turn out more soft and fluffy.

4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients bowl and gently blend them together, until just combined. I prefer to use a fork for this, so as not to over-mix the batter. Pour the mixture into your pan and prepare to decorate!

5. Thinly slice up the strawberries and figs, and arrange them on top of the batter in whichever way you like. You can of course use other fruits or berries (like plums, apricots, peaches, blackberries, raspberries, etc.) to fancy up your baked creation.

6. Bake at 350F (180 C) for 45-50 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean) on the middle rack of the oven. If the bread is baked through but top looks too pale to you – place the pan on to the top rack and turn on the broiler for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the bread cool for 10-15 minutes. Then, remove it from the pan and enjoy!


*If you don’t like bananas, you can also substitute puree from a different fresh fruit.

*Any other milk you prefer will also work for this recipe

*The tablespoon of ground almonds is optional because it doesn’t significantly change the flavour of the bread, but I swear that adding a little ground almonds to my recipes gives my muffins, breads, and cakes a more pleasant texture.

Happy Baking!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Mail Me Art 4: Open All Hours - Celestial Convergence

Hi there!

Today, I'll be sharing with you a small piece I created for Darren Di Lieto's Mail Me Art: Open All Hours show/book. 

Last year I had taken part in Mail Me Art: Short & Sweet and I was quite excited to get to work on my piece for the 4th installment of this mail art exhibition project. I had several ideas rolling around in my brain for what I might want to illustrate, but in the end something convinced me to integrate a part of the book project I'm working on right now into this piece.

You see, recently I've been working on creating characters, scenes, props, and much more based on Norwegian folktales and Norse artwork. I was really enjoying the research but I've become a little stuck in the sketching stage - not feeling quite satisfied with what I've been producing to take things into the painting stage. What I did feel confident about was designing patterns and decorative motifs, so I decided to choose one and bring it to completion. Luckily, my MMA4 submission was still untouched, so I decided to use it as an additional incentive to push out some finished work I could share. The theme was "Open All Hours" so I chose to go with a sun and moon motif, to connect to the concept of continuity I inferred from the theme.

And here's what I ended up creating:

I've fancily called it "Celestial Convergence".

Approximate dimensions: 6 x 6 inches (14.8 x 14.8cm)
Media: Gouache + ink pen + gold acrylic paint

And here's how it all came together:
1. I started with a pencil doodle in my sketchbook
2. Then I turned my ideas into vector shapes and lines in Adobe Illustrator. (This was the final line-work after many experiments with scaling of the different elements)
3. Played around with potential colour schemes. I knew I wanted gold and silver like colours for the design and I fiddled with the hues till I felt they were 'right' and would look good against numerous background colours.
4. After choosing to work with a dark blue background for this project, I properly knotted my foreground lines.
5. Then knotted my background lines into the foreground ones and applied some watercolour paper texture over everything to give the piece a more traditional look.

And this is approximately what I planned to paint on the paper that was provided to all the Mail Me Art 4 artists. The only changes I had planned to make was to add an additional outline in black around all line elements and perhaps add some subtle shading for more volume and depth in the background. 

But that wasn't going to happen apparently.
After I inked my piece of paper I took out my colour inks and mixed my first colour. The paper looked nice and thick, like the paper I usually used, and since there was no extra test paper provided I was really hoping everything would be fine. Nope, no such luck. When I applied my ink it became blotchy and I realized I'd have to re-strategize.

After some deliberation, I decided to rethink my colour palette a bit and leave the background white.
Something along the lines of this, except I would make my painted version have a golden and silver shine or shimmer.
I pulled out my gouache paints and painted the base colours.

Then I used my 0.05 micron pen and added some stippling in black around the outside of the elements.
To finish off, I decided to use some gold acrylic paint to go over top of the darker yellow gouache and add some stippling on the sun. I also used some white paint to do a little stippling over the lavender-grey areas. I decided to not use silver paint because my brain at the moment was shouting "less is more!".
Side by side comparison of the two resulting images.
In the end, I was pretty content with the piece and enjoyed it's more delicate and detailed look. The scanner doesn't really do it justice because it can neither show the sheen of the gold as the light hits it, nor the chameleon quality the gouache has. Depending on the light, it can go from appearing light grey, to slightly lavender-grey, to a more saturated lavender. Here are some photos to show you what I mean:

Oooh, shiny!

And here's one more shot of this mail art piece being sent off. 

In the silliness of holding my umbrella, whilst also holding the painting and trying to take a photo, I didn't realize that I was on the verge of pushing it through a crack, rather than the proper slot. A slot which I needed more hands than I had to hold open and photo-document the process. Alas...

Hopefully it'll make it to its destination without damage. =) To find out more about Mail Me Art please check out the Mail Me Art website.

Be well my friends!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Freebie Friday - Fanciful Florals 3

Happy July!

Here are some more free, high resolution textile textures from me to you. Floral motifs again!

Feel free to use these resources for personal or professional projects but please:

Do not claim the original resource images as your own,
Do not redistribute commercially. Basically, don't save and sell the resources as your own, but by all means do share the link to this page with others. :)
Do not use these textures as a base to create your own stock art/resources.

And, as always, please feel free to share anything you've made with these resources with me. I'd love to have a look! =)

Previous Freebie Friday posts:

Stained Coffee Textures
Freebie Friday - Layered Lace Textile Textures
Colourful + Abstract Textile Textures
Branches, Berries and Blossoms
Blue Pattern Textile Textures
Black and White Textiles (part 3)
Black and White Textiles (part 2)
Black and White Textiles (part 1)
Coffee Stained Paper
Fanciful Florals
Fanciful Florals 2
Vintage Inspired

Have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Pencil Portraits and Digital Doodles


Since my last post, it seems Blogger has been having issues. For example, I can only see one post from my Reading List per day, and when I click "View More" nothing happens. Not sure if I'm the only one with this problem, but nonetheless, it's one of the reasons I haven't posted much lately. Been hoping that the glitches would be quickly fixed, but alas, they have not.
Also, I've been working away on some new, secret projects, so that's also why I haven't shared much.

Anyway, a short while ago, I've updated the tools at my disposal and have been experimenting with sketching and inking digitally. And it's been really fun! To no surprise - there are many benefits to drawing digitally. Here are my favourite:

1. You can erase, redraw, skew, and do all kinds of modifications to your sketch, pretty much infinitely. (Provided you don't delete your original image layer and all you have is some skewed experiment which you don't like the end result of.)

2. No more scanner dust cleanup. For people like me, who are pretty OCD about dust specks making into a nice sketch or inked drawing which I want to show later, this is fantastic. More time drawing, less time hunting for little dots.

3. You can only use one physical drawing tool - the pen stylus - to produce marks similar to pencils, markers, ink pens, paintbrushes, etc. It can take some research and experimenting before you get good at it, especially if you don't often work digitally, but any skill takes time to learn.

There's only one the only thing I dislike about drawing digitally so far:

1. Zooming in and out. Now, this isn't a true dislike. It's more of a personal "quirk" that digital tools let me exploit. I like to fiddle with my drawings, too much at times. So, whereas on paper - the size of my sketch is as big as I let it be on the sheet. And the tiny hand movements are restricted by the dexterity and size of my hand in proportion to the size of my drawing. BUT,  if I'm sketching in Photoshop on a tablet - I can zoom in, and in, AND IN, to make tiny little adjustments here and there. This isn't healthy at the sketch stage of an illustration, and something I have to restrain myself from. It's always better to make a new sketch.

Anyhow, that's that. Here are some sketches, both traditional and digital I've done for fun, during work breaks.

Also, as an exercise to get more comfortable with colouring digitally (so that I can quickly and easily do color studies and coloured concept thumbnails in the near future, and make finished digital illustrations in the slightly less near future) I decided to create a simple self-portrait, in a more comic/cartoon style.
Here is the breakdown of my process. (Pretty much the same as my traditional methods, but way more layers that I could click on and off)

Loose sketch
Digital line-work/ink

Added some simple colouring underneath the inking and that's what it looked like with the linework turned off.
Made some color adjustments to the some of the line-work to make it more in tone with the colous underneath.
Finished off the piece by adding some subtle patterns.
And made a GIF of these main steps, because it only takes me a minute to do that.

Have a nice week!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Art of Yuki-Onna - The Master Post


Today I've decided to a final post about my work for The Art of Yuki-Onna collaborative visual development book I've been writing about. Hope I haven't tired you out with it! There are previously un-posted illustrations below, so stay a while. =)

**Edit: It seems that for some reason Blogger decided to turn the white backgrounds on most of my images grey.... For proper colours, please see this post's "twin" on my Behace page----> here

This collection of images represents a portion of the work I created for a visual development book called "The Art of Yuki Onna". It is a sampling of character, environment, and pattern design I contributed to the project.

Book Brief:
"The Art of Yuki Onna is a collaborative, yet independent, artistic exploration of a Japanese folktale about a mysterious snow spirit - Yuki Onna. Various interpretations of the story from each participating artist have been curated into a humble, limited edition book.


The snow spirit Yuki-Onna glides through the winter forest in contemplation and solitude, hardly detectable by mortal eyes.

*For close ups from this image, please visit through the "Concealment" project folder.
"Duality Discovered"

This is a scene in which the duality of the protagonist is revealed through a reflective moment of her husband Minokichi.

Yuki-Onna (above) and O-Yuki (below)

With our protagonist having two contrasting identities - an winter enchantress and a mortal mother -  it was a great opportunity to design (at least) two distinct looks for her. As the daughter of a winter god her clothing and hair are more elaborately ornamented, while as a human wife her styling is simpler.

Inari the Fox Woman

In one of our adapted versions of the folktale, Inari is Yuki’s guardian who is akin to an older sister that needed to take on a parental role. To allude to her fox-form and to contrast with Yuki’s aesthetic – I gave her sharper features and less traditional garment and hair. Her more traditionally masculine attire articles, combined with feminine pattern motifs, symbolize her playing the roles of both mother and father to Yuki.
Inari's fox form, rendered in a naturalistic style.
Potential accessories for the characters.
Some of the motifs I created to be used as clothing patterns and as decorative design elements throughout the book.
"Family Stroll"

This image depicts a scene from the folk-tale which speaks of the flourishing family of O-Yuki and her husband Minokichi. My favourite part was giving the baby white hair, as a symbol of the winter magic that is secretly passed down from O-Yuki to the children. This baby might even be fully blessed with Yuki’s immortal legacy.

*For close ups from this image please visit the "Family Stroll" project folder.

Environment - Maps Triptych

Inspired by traditional Japanese woodblock triptych landscapes, I created a triptych of my own. What resulted was narrative map triptych (for those with keen eyes) which captures three scenes from the story that take place in proximity to the human settlements -  the wood cutters’ discovery of the hut, Minokichi and 0-Yuki’s first walk together, and 0-Yuki’s ‘misty’ farewell.

In the original text, the story ambiguously ends with O-Yuki/Yuki-Onna turning into mist and disappearing through a chimney. My personal belief was that she did not perish, but became a part of the wind, so that she could still look after her family. Perhaps one day she will re-materialize.
The first printing of our book.