when inspiration strikes like lightning

Have you ever been listening to a particular type of music for ages only to find out that it’s a very niche genre that actually has a name?

Ever since the Baz Luhrmann version of The Great Gatsby (and probably before this too, but I can’t quite remember) I’ve been jamming to something called electro swing. Only I didn’t know it was called electro swing.

Designed by Jess Couture in Procreate with a set of neon brushes.

Designed by Jess Couture in Procreate with a set of neon brushes.

One day while I was working on something I had a live stream going in the background. A French man was cooking while listening to great music. When someone asked him about it he said something about “electro swing”.

I had an instant image in my mind of a vintage poster, with a swing dancing robot woman and a neon sign like the one above.

A page from Jess Couture’s sketchbook.

A page from Jess Couture’s sketchbook.

I started looking up 1920s style reference photos and sketching out poses to try to match the design in my head. I also almost immediately looked on Creative Market for a set of brushes that I could use to make a neon sign. The ones I found were incredibly affordable and came with detailed instructions on how to get the best results with them.

I played with the idea of having two dancing characters vs a single character, and then I moved to Procreate to start trying to flesh out the sketches.

The beginnings of a robot flapper character by Jess Couture

The beginnings of a robot flapper character by Jess Couture

But I didn’t end up going anywhere with this idea because I got stuck. I’m hung up on how to incorporate a more realistic neon sign with super cartoonish characters. I don’t normally go for realism, but those neon sign brushes are SO cool and I really want to incorporate them into the poster, but then I need to up my realism game for the dancing robot(s) and that terrifies me, because I know it will be a huge challenge for me and honestly I don’t think I can do my idea justice.

I still think of this poster from time to time even though I stopped actively working on this weeks ago. I think that means I have to work on it…

If you’re curious about electro swing, here’s a great playlist!


product illustration | an ode to my favourite condiment

Good morning! As illustration practice I decided to try to feature things in my everyday life, starting with the thing I have with my breakfast every single day. Rarely a day goes by that I don’t eat some version of scrambled eggs with Frank’s Red Hot sauce.

What’s your favourite condiment?

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december favourites - what I'm loving into 2019

So I took a couple weeks off from my day job in December, and while I originally planned to get a lot of personal work done I actually ended up taking it pretty easy. I went really hard in 2018, and it turned out that I needed the break. I’m happy to be going into the new year feeling refreshed and inspired.

During my time off in December I explored some new things and revisited some old loves. Here’s a short list of things I loved in December and have incorporated into my daily life.

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1. Barre classes: (I take mine Barre Fitness)

Those who know me know I generally don't like working out around other people. I have tried many times to get over it with various group fitness classes, workout groups, and running clubs. I tried Barre Fitness on my vacation and it took me by surprise! The people who go there and work there are all really friendly and welcoming, and even though I'm the least graceful, least flexible person in every class, I somehow still feel like I belong there. It’s expensive, though, so once my intro deal is over I’m going to have to try out the barre classes at my local community centre until I can afford to pay for Barre Fitness (or until they have a good deal for existing clients).

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2. The instant pot

Graham and I both got ourselves gaming systems for Christmas. Lucky us! A PS4 for him, a Nintendo Switch for me so I could expand my Pokemon universe. We asked our family to get us Best Buy gift cards so we could buy some more games for our new toys. And then... We had xmas dinner at his sisters place and got to hear her experience with the Instant Pot that she got last year when the hype was huge. The next day I asked Graham if I could use our gift cards towards an instant pot instead. Who am I?? *There was some $ left over for at least one of us to get a game. 😉 

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3. The bullet journal

This is a returning love. I've kept a bullet journal on and off for ages, and I don't necessarily plan to keep it going for any specific period of time this time either. But I wanted to use it as a way to set my goals and plan out my 2019 projects at least for the first part of the year, because I have big plans for 2019, but I also want to have more balance than last year. As an added bonus, it gets me to do more journaling in general which is very important for my creative process and my mental health.

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4. My favourite paints, the acryla gouache range by Holbein Artist Materials

I never stopped loving these tbh, but I felt like I had to include them because I used them quite a lot in December, from painting gift wrap, to painting the tree ornaments I made as gifts, to just painting in general. I want to make more use of them in 2019.

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5. A shampoo bar by Lush

This one I was really skeptical about. I have really thick, curly hair, and I thought there was no way I would be able to distribute shampoo from a solid bar evenly enough for a good wash. I was so wrong! I’m still learning how to use it, I still manage to use too much, but I’m so pleased with the results! I have had ongoing scalp issues for a while. I think I have plaque psoriasis or maybe just really bad dandruff, but I’m too scared to go to the doctor. I read the reviews of the Soak and Float shampoo bar, and several people said it helped with symptoms similar to mine so I thought I would try it. I’m happy to report that my scalp has calmed down! The only downside is that it leaves my hair squeaky clean which I don’t like, so I follow with a good conditioner and only use it a couple times a week. It has the added benefit of removing more plastic from my life which is always a plus.

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I made a Procreate time-lapse so you can check out my illustration process.

And that’s it! I might try to do a post like this once a month as it was a great practice in gratitude. I hope you had a wonderful holiday celebrating whatever you celebrate and best wishes to you in the new year. <3

tarot card illustration - because everyone else is doing it!

Tarot cards are so in right now and it seems like every artist I follow is working on their own set of cards, and honestly I kinda wish I had thought of it sooner. Now if I were to decide to embark on my own deck it would feel very unoriginal.

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That doesn’t mean I’ve totally ruled out the idea, because look at how cute this death card is! I did a quick mockup after I had the idea for the death card in particular. I would likely redo this one if I were to create a deck. I’d want to work on the hand-lettering. In fact, that’s sort of a great reason for me to do this project. Hand-lettering and people are kind of my weak areas and there are lots of opportunities to practice both in tarot card art.

Truth be told I love tarot cards. I wouldn’t say I “believe” in them per se, but I love the art work on them and I love the idea of pulling a card each day just for fun. I had a deck when I was a teenager but I got rid of it and I wish I didn’t! I might have to treat myself to a deck for Christmas.

put a bird on it

I decided to play with a mid-century illustration style since I’ve been using the mid-century brush set almost non-stop. I freaking LOVE birds with “cheeks”. I honestly can’t handle how cute it is. I think it’s why I love putting cheeks on the subjects in my work.

red-cheeked-cordonblue

This red-cheeked cordonbleu was inspired by an Instagram post by the Bloedel Conservatory here in Vancouver. I haven’t been there yet but I definitely need to take myself on an artist date there soon. I just realized this is my second time writing about them yet I haven't been there, and that’s weird! I think I’ll go next week.

Procreate brush second impressions - RetroSupply Co mid-century set

Ok, friends. I’ve spent some more time working with the mid-century brushes from RetroSupply Co, and I’m so happy to have them in my tool box. I made a piece using the brushes in Procreate while screen recording my iPad and turned it into a little review video for you. I hope it’s helpful.

If you want to see my first impressions, check out this post.

the world needs more body positivity in art

I've noticed a pattern with myself. Whenever I'm feeling particularly bad or gross about myself, I take that feeling and turn it into a piece of art meant to uplift others out there who might be feeling the same as me. Sadly there are far too many people with a constantly-negative inner dialogue, and mine has been particularly nasty lately. Not just crapping on my soft, lumpy body, but on my inability to adult and my inadequacy as an artist, too! 

When I'm feeling this way and creating these sorts of body positive pieces, it often serves double duty in making other people feel good, which in turn helps me to realize that my body image hangups are not unique, and therefore not interesting, so I shouldn't worry too much about them. It's that whole, talk-to-yourself-like-you-would-talk-to-your-best-friend thing. I'm trying to shut down my negative self-talk by spreading a little positivity. 

A painting of a girl in a bathing suit that I painted in my sketchbook with Posca paint markers.

A painting of a girl in a bathing suit that I painted in my sketchbook with Posca paint markers.

Actually, when I started this piece I wasn't feeling particularly bad about myself, I was just struck by the beauty of the photo posted by Nettle's Tale Swimwear on their Instagram. You should definitely check them out! And then for some reason, as this week went on I felt like I was on an emotional downward spiral.

I think I hit the bottom last yesterday, though. I'm generally a really happy and positive person, but yesterday the only two things that made me genuinely smile were a sweet text message from a friend (thank you again <3) and the song Roar by Katy Perry, which I listened to many times after that to try and pull myself up.

I'm feeling a little better going into this long weekend, which I extended by adding days off at the start and the end. I needed time away from my day job to work on my various projects related to my art business, as well as just get some space away from people for a while. I'm sure some of you know how that is. 

Side note: I'm really into Posca paint pens right now. Expect to see a lot of work done with these babies. 

Well, this turned out a little more ranty than I had planned. Let's move on. :) Here are a couple of other pieces that came from me feeling shitty about myself, which both ended up being very well-received on Instagram. 

Illustrated lettering that I created in Procreate on my iPad pro.   I was feeling really horrible when I made this. It was hot, I couldn't wear a skirt without spanks because my thighs would be on fire in no time, and I was feeling really uncomfortable in my clothes. I also wasn't taking the best care of my skin so I was broken out. I was hiding my body from my boyfriend. It was a bad time!

Illustrated lettering that I created in Procreate on my iPad pro.

I was feeling really horrible when I made this. It was hot, I couldn't wear a skirt without spanks because my thighs would be on fire in no time, and I was feeling really uncomfortable in my clothes. I also wasn't taking the best care of my skin so I was broken out. I was hiding my body from my boyfriend. It was a bad time!

Lettering and illustrations created in Procreate on my iPad pro. This piece started with the legs. When I was practicing figure drawing the poses were so short that when I looked down I had a page full of legs and was inspired.   Again, this one came from heat. It was way too hot to wear pants, but I was way too busy to waste time shaving my legs. Eventually I got over it and just had exposed leg hair! And truth be told I don't think anyone even noticed.

Lettering and illustrations created in Procreate on my iPad pro. This piece started with the legs. When I was practicing figure drawing the poses were so short that when I looked down I had a page full of legs and was inspired.

Again, this one came from heat. It was way too hot to wear pants, but I was way too busy to waste time shaving my legs. Eventually I got over it and just had exposed leg hair! And truth be told I don't think anyone even noticed.

I've been wanting to draw more humans. It's something that terrifies me because humans are complicated and so, so diverse. But I'm still trying to push myself out of my comfort zone each day, so I'm incorporating more human figures into my art. And I vow to base my sketches on real people. People like me and people not like me. My style is not super realistic at all, but that doesn't mean I can't base my illustrations on natural bodies. We are much more interesting than what society wants us to be, and art is so much more interesting when it's diverse. <3  

there's a blooming corpse flower in my city!

And I'm not going to see it irl. 

Uncle Fester by Jess Couture, made in Procreate with brushes from Bardot Brush

Uncle Fester by Jess Couture, made in Procreate with brushes from Bardot Brush

Don't get me wrong, I love seeing everyone's Instagram posts, and I do think the corpse flower (aka Amorphophallus titanum, ours is named Uncle Fester :) ) is beautiful. But I have a very sensitive schnoz and I'm not a fan of gagging or puking in public. 

Even though they say that he's not as stinky as most because he bloomed prematurely... still no. No fomo here. Yes it's rare, and yes I'm excited that my city has such a cool botanical moment to share... still no! I'm happy to enjoy it through the eyes of others from afar.