Ok, ok, I know I’m getting a little ahead of myself, it is only August after all and conkers tend to fall in late September here in the UK, but aren’t they just beautiful?

When I was in a short painting rut and looking for inspiration, I came across these beautiful conker photos by Sandra of ‘Reflections and Nature’. I emailed her to ask for permission to use one of her photographs as a reference for a painting and received a lovely email in response, kindly agreeing to my request.

Then came the difficult part: choosing which photo to use!

conker watercolour, botanical illustration

I opted for this composition as I love the contrast of the smooth, shiny conker against the spikiness of its case and the curled leaves. With a variety of browns and greens, it was an opportunity for me to really study colours and shadows.

conker watercolour, botanical illustration

One of my weaknesses is achieving a good contrast between areas of light and dark, especially in watercolour which I tend to over-dilute, making shadows too pale.

conker watercolour, botanical illustration

When I’d finished painting, I darkened some areas with coloured pencil to bring out the highlighted areas on the leaves and the bright spots on the conkers. I particularly like the effect of the different weights of line.

I hope that Sandra feels I’ve done her photo justice!

This week I’ve also been working on a couple of other quick paintings – as I mentioned in my last blog post, I’ve really got the watercolour bug at the moment!

house in Wells, watercolour illustration

This little house in Wells caught my eye on our weekend away last week, so I took a quick snap of it to paint later. This took about an hour and a half to complete – sitting in my conservatory this weekend while the rain hammered down outside and Sam took our little Munchkin swimming!

watercolour house in Wells, illustration

House in Wells watercolour illustration

On the same weekend away in Somerset, I took a photo of this flower in the garden of the cottage we were staying in. I find painting yellow things very difficult, given that yellow is a pale colour so it’s hard to distinguish between highlights and shadows.

yellow flower botanical illustration

I’m not one hundred percent happy with the outcome, but this is the beauty of sketchbook experiments!

Now, I’m going to do something to push myself out of my comfort zone a bit. My dream is to get into editorial illustration, so tonight I’m going to put an advert out on Facebook to see if anyone would like me to do an illustration for their publication for free, in order to improve my portfolio. Wish me luck folks!

I’m sharing this post on the following blogs: Handmade Harbour and Paint Party Friday!


The chestnuts are fabulous!! Never heard them called conkers! Your illustrations are gorgeous. That is awfully generous of you to do an illustration for free!! Your work already looks so professional!! I hope they appreciate you and pay for it anyway!!

Peace Giggles

Really? Haha, it must be a British thing! Thank you, I’ve had a little bit of interest, so fingers crossed it’ll end in some more paid work! x

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