We're thrilled to have been working with Sarah Claire Doyle, the creative force behind Annie's Fingers, on an exciting feature for issue 1 of Sketch Appeal Magazine! Ahead of its publication, we asked her to give us a sneak peek inside her sketchbooks and tell us more about her life and work in gorgeous Granada.
So, tell us: what’s the last thing you drew?
I’ve been super busy the last few weeks preparing a project to be able to sign up for the Christmas market that’s held in the city where I live so I haven’t had all that much time. I did however have to send them a plan of how I want to set up my stall if I’m selected so I went ahead and drew it! (Recreating the drawing if chosen is going to be interesting). That and some stick men, numbers, and trees in my son’s sketchbook.
When do you draw and how often?
I normally draw everyday but recently this has been a little more difficult as we have a 3 year old. I still draw everyday but it’s been cartoon lions and houses with cheap crayons. I need to be left alone when drawing so my plan is to do lots of it from September onwards when he starts school. (Queue the evil laugh)
Where do you get your ideas?
I like drawing from my imagination and then I feel like I’m influenced a lot by the theatre and the circus, anything over the top and flamboyant. I’ll maybe watch a movie or see someone in the street with a style that’s caught my eye and from that I can usually pluck out 4 or 5 different “new characters”. But I don’t usually copy images, I’ll see what I remember from the experience and go from there. (Except animals, I use picture references for animals, tricky buggers).
How did you get into drawing?
In Spain, where I’ve lived for the last 20 years, teens are made choose a path at 16 and their last 2 years of high school are focused on said path. I’ve always liked drawing and making things but this is perhaps when it became a little more serious. I chose art and when I finished at 18 I went into fashion design for 2 years. Not far into the course I realised I was much happier designing and illustrating the clothes than anything else so that’s the direction I took and I’ve just kept at it.
Why do you enjoy it so much?
What a hard question to answer without just saying “because I do”! It makes me feel good! To be able to have an idea and then project it onto paper gives me a sense of accomplishment, “I did that”. I also sell my work regularly and to see people smile when they pick something up makes me so so happy.
What or who inspires your creativity?
I very recently took the plunge into becoming a fulltime freelance illustrator. As I mentioned before, we have a 3 year old and me working the ridiculous hours I was working before wasn’t healthy for any of us. My little family really inspires me to keep doing a little more every day and to keep this illustration business going. It’s become slightly more necessary than before as it’s now my only source of income but I personally love that bit of pressure. Also for our son (and others) to be able to see that life can work in other ways apart from what society pushes us into, I think, is kind of special.
What would your dream drawing scenario be? (e.g dream commission or drawing destination)
I’m going to be super boring and say home! I love drawing in cafés with a hot cup of coffee (or 3) but as soon as someone says “Oh you’re drawing, let’s see” my social anxiety kicks in and I get put off. So home is the best place. But, if someone wants to buy me a small house surrounded by trees, by a lake, somewhere cool, I’d be totally fine with that too. #lifegoals
What materials do you love using?
In my pencil case, in my bag, I always carry around a couple of refillable Pentel brushes and various mechanical pencils, my favourite is my yellow KOH-I-NOOR 2mm and I use a Faber-Castell 0’7 with pink lead a lot. I also have a Tombow Mono eraser, a couple of fountain pens, a white ink Uni-ball Signo and a 0’4 Pilot. For colouring, watercolours are my favorite. I use Windsor and Newton and mix them up with my Kuretakes and Faber-Castell watercolour pencils for details. I love 280gr Michel watercolour paper which I buy in blocks and I have a friend who makes them into notebooks for me. It’s cheap paper but it’s great!
How do you get your creative mojo flowing? Any top tips or favourite exercises you could recommend?
I need peace when creating. I wait until everyone is out of the house, maybe shower or at least wash my face and hands, tidy up my desk, lay all my materials out, put on some music and go for it. This way I feel whatever I’m doing is something new and natural, not forced. (Don’t know if that makes sense). I like taking pictures of the process, of the tidy desk, of the sketch, of the colour going onto the paper… it helps me to see what I’ve been able to do in whatever time I’ve had and gives me a little break to admire what’s happened so far.
Any words of wisdom or encouragement for those who think they “can’t draw”?
I can’t draw either! If I compare myself to other illustrators I see on social media I end up upsetting myself when what I should be doing is looking at everyone’s art and seeing each person as unique and special, including myself.
Maybe you’re not where you want to be at the moment with your art but don’t worry! Everyone, absolutely everyone, has also been there. Keep going, try new materials, make messes, cry if you need to, get together with other creatives, have fun with it without worrying too much and one day you’ll look at what you’ve made and realise it’s exactly what you wanted it to be!
Well we couldn't have put it better ourselves! Thank you so much Sarah!
And another thing...
This is Sarah's (current) favourite illustration, which she turned into an awesome brooch - available on her Etsy shop!
She used: NOH-I-KOOR 2mm mechanical pencil, refillable Pentel paint brush, Windsor and Newton watercolours and Faber-Castell watercolour pencils to create it.