Illustrator Deborah Allwright – A closer look at her book illustrations

A Patch of Black by Deborah Allwright
In a previous post, I took a look at illustrator Deborah Allwright’s creative process for creating illustrations for children’s picture books. In this post I’ll take a closer look at some of her work for the book A Patch of Black written by Rachel Rooney in 2012.

A Patch of Black by Deborah Allwright

I’m planning on experimenting with some of the interesting techniques (mixed media, collage and printing) that Deborah Allwright spoke about in the video in my previous post. Before I do, I want to take a closer look at some of her illustrations. I’m particularly interested in starting to think outside the box when it comes to adding colour to my artwork.

Drawing aside, there are a million and one ways to construct an image. When it comes to adding colour, texture, depth and interest to my work, I’ve pretty much got a default setting that I go to every time. I really, really want to push myself to start thinking differently about how I create my pieces.

A Patch of Black by Deborah Allwright

What inspires me most about Deborah Allwright’s work is how she uses texture, pattern and decorative elements within her pieces (the image below is a great example of this). She makes use of many different types of media within a single piece, which adds so much variety and visual interest to the image, yet the visual language is seamless.

A Patch of Black by Deborah Allwright

I haven’t really used mixed media within my work before. If I’m painting, I’ll paint the whole piece in one kind of paint (acrylic, watercolour etc). If I’m drawing, it’s either pencil or pen, that’s about it.

The nearest I come to using mixed media is scanning my traditional drawings and paintings into the computer and working on them digitally – which I really enjoy. I never really experiment with combining different kinds of traditional media, though.

Over the next few days, I’m going to experiment with lots of different ways of adding colour to my drawings – taking into account all of the things I’ve learnt from looking at Deborah Allwright’s work.

A Patch of Black by Deborah Allwright

 The images used in this post are my own photographs of the book A Patch of Black (2012) written by Rachel Rooney and illustrated by Deborah Allwright.


The House That Sailed Away – Original Illustrations

The House That Sailed Away - Original Illustrations by Laurence Hutchins

As I mentioned in a recent post – I’m working on creating some illustrations inspired by a story called The House That Sailed Away written by Pat Hutchins in 1975 as part of my university project.

In this post I’m taking a look at the original illustrations from the book by Laurence Hutchins.

The House That Sailed Away - Original Illustrations by Laurence Hutchins

At first, I wasn’t sure whether I should look at the original illustrations or not – I was torn between looking at them really closely to see what I could learn, and not looking at them at all as I didn’t want to be influenced by them too much.

But, they’re pretty hard to miss when you’re reading the text over and over again, so I didn’t really have a choice.

Having looked carefully at the original illustrations, I’ve decided that I’d like the new illustrations that I create to be as different from the originals as possible.

The House That Sailed Away - Original Illustrations by Laurence Hutchins

So, the original illustrations – all except the image on the front of the book are black and white. The drawing style is very loose. Laurence Hutchins makes use of solid areas of black or white to add depth to the image or to emphasise a particular element within the image.

In the image above, the thick black smoke is the focal point and the use of solid black articulates this nicely.

The House That Sailed Away - Original Illustrations by Laurence Hutchins

The book itself contains approximately 40 illustrations and has 150 pages. Ten of the illustrations are large pieces which cover a whole page or more. The rest are either half page or small in-text illustrations.

I haven’t decided how many illustrations I’ll create yet. At the moment I think I’ll aim for 1 large piece per chapter (there are 15 chapters) and then some small accent pieces that would go either in the text or at the bottom of the page.

But, at the moment, having never illustrated a book before (and baring in mind all of my other commitments for uni), I have no idea whether this number is completely unachievable or whether I’ll be able to make even more… We’ll just have to see.

The House That Sailed Away - Original Illustrations by Laurence Hutchins

I’ll need to do some research and testing before I can decide how many illustrations to aim for. If I decided to create the illustrations in the same way I make my paintings then I think I’d have to aim for less because my paintings take a really long time to create. I’m hoping to try something new for this project so hopefully I’ll find a quicker way of working.

The House That Sailed Away - Original Illustrations by Laurence Hutchins

So, things to do next include:

  • Do some research on illustrated books for older children. I want to find out more about the sizes of the books, whether they are printed in colour, image to text ratio, what kinds of illustrative styles are used.
  • Start testing out some possible methods of creating my illustrations.
  • Watch some videos and read some articles by professional illustrators to find out more about the process of creating book illustrations.

The House That Sailed Away - Original Illustrations by Laurence Hutchins
The House That Sailed Away - Original Illustrations by Laurence Hutchins

 The images used in this post are my own photographs of the book The House That Sailed Away (1975) written by Pat Hutchins and illustrated by Laurence Hutchins.


Illustrator Deborah Allwright – Process for Creating Children’s book illustrations

A Patch of Black by Deborah Allwright

In this post I learn about children’s book illustrator Deborah Allwright’s process for creating children’s book illustrations.

Having set my intentions for the last few months of my degree in illustration, I’m starting my research into Children’s book illustration by looking at the illustrations in a few randomly selected books from my daughters bookshelf.

The first book is, A Patch of Black written by Rachel Rooney and illustrated by Deborah Allwright. Deborah Allwright is a UK based illustrator and has illustrated over forty children’s books.

A Patch of Black by Deborah Allwright
She uses a combination of traditional and digital processes to create her work. On her website and in the video below, she makes reference to drawing, painting, traditional printing, collage and computer based design within her work.

On her blog, she describes her process, “My pen and wash visuals were the next development from pencil roughs. Sampling some colour and texture before going to full colour with painting and a sprinkle of collage.”

In the video above, Deborah Allwright explains her creative process for creating illustrations for a children’s picture book. The key points of interest for me were:

  • Her work starts in the sketchbook. Not only does she draw in her sketchbook but she also paints, adds cut-out collage elements, paints and uses traditional printing methods.
  • She then scans the images from her sketchbook into the computer and works on adding the finishing touches such as ’embellishments and light’ digitally.
  • Her painting and drawing tools include – paint, coloured pencils, paint roller (for creating textured effects) and brush pens.


  1. Experiment with some of the different techniques that Deborah Allwright describes in the video – mixed media, collage, printing, texture in my sketchbook.
  2. Take a closer look at some of her illustrations to learn more about how she puts an image together.

A Patch of Black by Deborah Allwright

 The images used in this post are my own photographs of the book A Patch of Black (2012) written by Rachel Rooney and illustrated by Deborah Allwright.


Setting intentions for the last few months of my degree

From now until May, I’ll be focusing on improving my skills as a illustrator.

As part of my final year degree work, I intend to create a series of illustrations for an existing story. The aim is to push myself beyond my comfort zone (which I’ve more than happily stayed in for the last year or so).


At the moment I’m considering creating some illustrations in response to a story called ‘The House That Sailed Away’ written by Pat Hutchins in 1975, although I’d like to re-read it before I decide for sure. I read the book as a child and was instantly drawn to the visuals that the story invoked in my mind.


I’m particularily interested in learning more about how I can most successfully communicate a message, meaning, feeling or atmosphere to the viewer through an image.

After some feedback from my tutors at Uni, I’ll be paying particular attention to composition.

I hope to spend lots of time going back to basics and working on my fundemental skills – drawing, composition and colour, and work on further developing my visual language.

As a starting point:
  • I’ll be taking a careful look at the work of some childrens book illustrators to gain a better understanding of the tools and techniques they have used to create successful illustrations.
  • I’ll find what information I can from illustrators on how they go about illustrating stories.
  • I’ll find some resources that will teach me about composition.
A selection of my little gals books
Top left: Barry The Fish With Fingers by Sue Hendra
Top Right: Icky Little Duckling by Steve Smallman and Tim Warnes
Bottom left: Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers
Bottom Right: A Patch of Black by Rachel Rooney and Deborah Allwright

Experiments on Paper

Experiments on Paper 1 | Landscape painting by Kylie Bowers

I spent some time the other day, getting my head around all the different projects I have on the go at the moment.

I was feeling a little scattered so I took an hour or so to go over all of my ongoing projects and upcoming commissions. I planned out what I’ll work on and when, and felt so much better. I realised though that I hadn’t left myself any time for experimentation. So I added a new project to my list called ‘Experiments on Paper’.


Experiments on Paper 1 | Landscape painting by Kylie Bowers


I haven’t really painted on paper much before. I never liked how it would warp and bend when I painted on it, so I wrote it off and opted for canvas instead.

Recently, I was working on designing some wedding invitations and ended up including some watercolour elements in the design. I bought some really nice watercolour paper and realised that warping isn’t really an issue when you work on high quality paper.


Experiments on Paper 1 | Landscape painting by Kylie Bowers


This discovery lead me to painting some illustrations on paper. I’m loving the process and outcome so much!

I used acrylic paints to create this piece. I worked in very thin, watered down layers. Building up the depth in the sky by blending colours over one another, once the layer below was dry.


Experiments on Paper 1 | Landscape painting by Kylie Bowers


My favourite thing about acrylic paints is that you can paint over dry layers of paint without worrying about disturbing the paint below. This allows me to create smooth gradients, means I can easily fix mistakes and allows me to create lots of texture, depth and interest within the piece.

I’m so excited for my next experiment on paper! Next week is all about starting my dissertation for Uni, but I’ll sneak in a little bit of painting in between…


Experiments on Paper 1 | Landscape painting by Kylie Bowers

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Painting Planning – Digital Sketch for a Commissioned Painting

Painting Planning | Kylie Bowers

Hi guys!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted over here! Hope you’re doing well :)

If you follow me in other places online, you’ve hopefully seen all the lovely arty things I’ve been up to… Follow along on…

I’ve recently taken my first ever ‘proper commission’ bookings and I’m working on them as we speak. It’s so much fun working together with clients to come up with the perfect piece of art for them.

One of my lovely clients has asked for a painting of their own home, under a starry sky (absolutely perfect for me and my aesthetic obviously!).

I created a digital plan for his painting in Photoshop and thought you might like to see the process video!

I like to sketch my initial layout in biro- it’s quick, easy and doesn’t smudge. Then, when I’ve come up with a layout I like, I take a photo of the sketch and work on it in photoshop.

The video shows the digital process. The plan is in black and white but the actual painting will be in colour!

I’ve sent the sketch to the client, and he loved it. So I’m starting work on it today!

Can’t wait to show you some process pictures and maybe even a video!

Is it weird to be in love with your own artwork??

Landscape Painting Detail | Kylie Bowers (c) 2015

Is it weird to be in love with your own artwork?


I’m seriously in love with this painting I made a few weeks ago. I feel kinda weird saying that, like I’m being big headed or something, but that’s really not what it is. I don’t love it because of the way it looks, I love it because of the potential it shows. Potential for a new direction for my work. A more mature and conceptual direction.

Landscape Experiment | Kylie Bowers

I also love it because I made it by accident. I had the idea of painting on un-stretched canvas after becoming a little bit tired of working on boxy canvases. I found a scrap piece of canvas at Uni and painted straight onto it as a test to see what would actually happen if I tried to paint on a piece of canvas which hadn’t been stretched.

I loved it. I applied layer after layer of paint and allowed the picture to create itself. After many layers, I eventually spotted a potential image. I picked out rooftops, trees and water and worked from there.

Landscape Painting Detail | Kylie Bowers (c) 2015

Painting on a loose piece of canvas made the process feel so much more involved. As opposed to sitting in front of a canvas propped on an easel and working with a brush at arms length, I could get more “up close and personal” (lol) with this piece. When I work on stretched canvases, it’s always a little uncomfortable because you can’t really rest your hand on the piece. Either it’ll dent the canvas or your hand is falling off the edge. I like to rest.

Also, because it was just a test piece, I wasn’t precious with it at all. I worked on the dusty studio floor, folded the canvas so I could work on individual areas, rolled it up and took it home, nearly lost it at the train station. It was fun!

Landscape Painting Detail | Kylie Bowers (c) 2015

Working this way made the actual painting process much more enjoyable for me. And that’s what it’s all about. I’ll definitely be working on loose canvas and being less precious again in the near future.

A huge lesson I learnt with this piece is to try new things and to push myself out of my comfort zone. I’ve had to re-learn this lesson so many times. And I know I’ll forget it and have to learn it all over again.

Landscape Painting Detail | Kylie Bowers (c) 2015

I wanted to share this with you as an encouragement to try something new with your work. And in answer to my first question? No, I don’t think it’s weird to be in love with your own work at all. If you can’t love your own work, how can you expect someone else to? If you wouldn’t hang it on your own wall, why should someone else?

I’d’ve quit a long time ago if I didn’t occasionally really love a piece I created.

I’d love to hear about the piece of your own work that you love the most and why you love it! Let’s chat in the comments.


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Process Video: digitally enhancing an acrylic painting in photoshop

digitally enhancing an acrylic painting in photoshop

Hello! I wrote in my last post about how I’ve been enjoying mixing traditional and digital techniques in my art recently. In other words, I’ve been starting a piece traditionally (in acrylic paint), taking it as far as I can and then finishing it off / enhancing the piece digitally in photoshop.

I’ve put together a quick little time-lapse video (less than a minute) showing the digital changes I made to finish off my little acrylic painting, “It Always Seems Impossible Until It’s Done”. Here’s the original painting and the video is below.

It always seems impossible until its done kylie bowers


Adding colour to a sketchbook drawing in Adobe Photoshop | Art Process Video

Colouring Linework in Photoshop | Deviate and Flourish

Hello! How are you? I’ve got a new video for you today. This one’s digital. It’s a screen recording showing how I used Adobe Photoshop to add colour to a sketchbook drawing. You can check it out at the bottom of this post or on my Youtube channel.


I love mixing traditional and digital techniques. Recently, I’ve been using photoshop to add-to my paintings once I’ve taken them as far as I want to traditionally. I’m enjoying the outcome so much that I feel like it might become a permanent part of my everyday process (I need a better name for that… ‘everday process’ sounds totally boring).

I still feel pretty new to art and new to painting. Probably because there’s still so much I want to learn. As my traditional and digital skills develop, I find it really helpful to be able to mix the two. What I can’t do with one, I can with the other… so combining the two gets me nearer to achieving what I’m aiming for.

I’ll write a more in-depth post on why I love mixing traditional and digital processes… join mailing list if you don’t want to miss the post.

Moleskine Watercolour Notebook | Deviate and Flourish Blog

Above you can see the original line work. I used black acrylic paint, white acrylic gesso, water and a teeny-tiny brush. The sketchbook is a Moleskine Watercolour Notebook. It’s so cute, I love it.

Windows Digital Illustration | Kylie Bowers

Press play above or click here to watch in Youtube.

Hope you like the vid! What are your thoughts on mixing digital and traditional techniques? Do you ever do this in your process? If so, how do you approach it?? I’d love to know. Let’s chat!


Catch Up Time: New art, landscape photography & new time-lapse vid

Hello. Remember me? It’s been over 3 weeks since my last blog post so I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t! I’m really not a fan of those ‘sorry for being rubbish’ posts so I’ll move on and tell you what I’ve been up to, and what you’ll be seeing in the coming weeks. (I am sorry for being rubbish though).

Working Together | Deviate and Flourish Blog

As I write this post, I’m sat in bed with my favourite little girl, planning blog posts for next week and sketching some new paintings. More about this later but first I’ll let you know what I’ve been up to.

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Two years to become a professional artist

Two years to become a professional artist | Deviate and Flourish Blog

The other day, on August 1st, I realised that I have exactly 2 years to become a professional artist. 731 days until I need to be making a full time living through my business. This realisation scared the crap out of me and gave me a major kick up the arse at the same time.

I was at my little sisters 1st birthday party. There were family members there who I hadn’t seen in ages. I knew the question was coming and I knew I’d have to answer it plenty of times before the day ended…

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