Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Reddit Secret Santa 2013

This is the first year that I've taken part in Reddit Secret Santa, and I have really enjoyed it!
If you haven't heard about it, it's the world's biggest secret santa gift exchange. There are over 100,000 people taking part this year which will be a world record!

You sign up on and on the 2nd of December they match you with another Reddit user. You then get sent a little bit of information about your giftee, depending on how much of their profile they have filled in. You can also use this information to do a little non-creepy online stalking to find out more about your giftee (I have been trained by my Reddit-pro brother!).

At the same time, your name is given to another person from anywhere in the world. So I have no idea who my Santa is, but am ridiculously excited to find out. There are even celebrities like Bill Gates, Bear Grylls and Arnold Schwarzenegger taking part!

When I first received my giftee's information I was a little nervous because they are very sporty and I am definitely not. They are interested in horses (I'm allergic), football (I'm a rugby girl) and cycling (I haven't been on a bike since I knackered my knee a few years ago!). So I didn't really have a clue where to start, but really enjoyed the challenge.

Luckily, I have sporty friends and family members. My giftee (who will have to remain a mystery so I don't give the game away) is training for a cycling event so my first gift to them is a Buff. These are really good for outdoorsy people because they are a great way of staying warm without risking a scarf getting caught in whatever you're doing. I chose a horsey pattern to match my giftee's interests.

I then bought some energy jelly beans that my dad used to train for his 10k run this year. He said that they were useful, so I hope that they enjoy them. I also got a personalised cycling chocolate bar for them as a Christmassy treat. I love chocolate so that's sharing something I like too!

The main reason I'm writing this blog post though, is the final two gifts in my present. I wanted to share a few of my interests with my giftee. I love reading, and obviously art, so I tried to think of a book and illustration I could draw for them that would reflect their interests and well. Last month I went to see 'War Horse' at the theatre which was absolutely amazing, and as my giftee is interested in horses it seemed like the perfect book to include in their present.

I decided to draw Joey, the horse from the story, for them. I'm posting the gifts today and have written on the tag of my illustration that my giftee can find out how it's made here.

As usual, I worked in dip pen with ink and watercolour to produce this illustration. 

My very messy art materials!

I began by mapping out the main shapes in pencil, and then added detail in dip pen and ink. 

Next I added washes of ink to add shading and depth to the picture.

After that, I began to add washes of watercolour. I waited for each layer to dry before adding more.

Then I added more detail and texture with watercolour crayon. Finally, I added little splashes of colour to give the illustration movement and make it more atmospheric. This is a one-off illustration just for them.

Once it was finished, I mounted it with blue board and packaged it ready to ship!

I've now got all of my gifts wrapped and am heading to the post office. I'm so excited and nervous about sending the gifts. To my giftee, I really hope you like them and have a very merry Christmas!

Presents pre-wrapped. I included the candle in the photo to make it look a bit more festive and managed to
burn my finger on it- oops!

Wrapped and ready to go!

*UPDATE* I'm absolutely thrilled that my giftee loved their present and sent me the nicest thank you message :)

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Yuletide Tunes

To be honest, my Christmas preparations started quite a while ago, but now that it's officially allowed, I thought I'd share some wintery music that inspires me.

My favourite Christmas album is Annie Lennox's 'A Christmas Cornucopia'. This is great because it's a bit of a twist on some very well-loved carols, including my favourite; 'The Holly and the Ivy'. I love the pagan influences and muted colours in 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen' which help create a dream-like fairy tale feel.

Although I've enjoyed Kate Rusby's music for a while now, I only recently started listening to her Christmas albums. I started listening to them because I'm going to see her at Malvern Theatres later this month. These are traditional folk versions of well known carols so sound slightly different but are very catchy after a few listens.

From Kate Rusby's sing-along songs to something a bit quieter. I've had a soft spot for Enya ever since the wonderful 'May it Be' for 'The Fellowship of the Ring'. Plug in your earphones, take yourself on a solitary winter walk through a forest and let your imagination take you to a land of castles and magic.


I am now on BlogLovin! You can follow me by clicking on the link below: