Friday, November 30, 2012

The illustrations of N Puttapipat

I first 'met' N Puttapipat on Livejournal (LJ - clearly the source of so much wonder for me!) and immediately became a huge fan of their timeless, whimsical, intensely detailed and absolutely astonishing art. The best way I can describe my love for their work is by stating that, if I could create an illustrator from scratch to my precise specifications, drawing exactly what I love to look at in the styles I adore - I would end up with N - nothing altered.

N Puttapipat is a sophisticated and peerless illustrator with an impressive back catalogue of work including illustrating books for the Folio Society, Salman Rushdie, Faber and Faber and Oxford University Press among many others. They are passionately fond of the ‘Golden Age’ illustrators, Oriental art, and silhouettes. They have illustrated several books for Walker Books and The Folio Society. Several of their illustrations for Folio’s 150th anniversary edition of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám were exhibited at the British Library in late 2009/early 2010. They were also awarded the bronze prize in the Books category of the Association of Illustrators Images awards 2010. They are represented by Artworks.

Being a master of the silhouette and also possessing the rare and uncanny ability to tell a complete tale with a single image, it's the devilish attention to detail in N's illustrations that sets them apart. I regularly find myself marveling over the intricacies of a single drawing.

This post will feature silhouettes, these are all from Myths and Legends of Russia, collected by Aleksandr Afanas'ev, translated by Norbert Guterman and published by The Folio Society:

Baba Yaga

The Frog Princess

The Feather of Finist

Two Ivans Soldier's Sons

The Castle of the Fly
Here are some other artworks that particularly strike my fancy today:

The Dog in the Manger

Sneak peak of Aladdin
Self Portrait

A delightful sketch: Vincent 'Van go'
The Twelve Dancing Princesses - from The Red Fairy Book
Rosette Title Spread (Detail)
Quatrain XXXIIThere was a Door to which I found no Key:
There was a Veil past which I could not see:
Some little Talk awhile of ME and THEE
There seem'd - and then no more of THEE and ME. Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám

Also see their incredible cut paper and sculpture work:

Kinaree popup card

You can see plenty more of N's work on DeviantArt. Check out the illustrations for The Red Fairy Book and the book jacket for Salman Rushdie's Luca in particular.

You can buy books, prints, mugs, magnets, and assorted ephemera on DeviantArt, or from the Folio Society, or from Red Bubble. I am buying several as Christmas presents, planning the prints I'm going to buy for our new house and also coveting Aladdin as a premature present for my son who is far too young to appreciate it but will, one day:

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Tamarind Date Cake

This is my favourite cake. I made it last night because we have some friends over today for lunch. It's so easy and spectacularly tasty, so you should make it! Don't be put off by the tamarind, it's not a strong flavour. If you don't do nuts I suppose you could leave out the walnuts but to me they are the best thing about this cake.

The recipe is from Dan Lepard's fabulous Guardian baking column.

Dan Lepard's Tamarind and Date Cake:

For the cake:
200g chopped dates
50g tamarind paste
250g unsalted butter
150g dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
275g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda 
175g shelled walnuts, roughly chopped

For the icing:
150g icing sugar
The seeds from 6-8 cardamom pods,
finely ground Juice of ½ lemon
(I didn't actually use this icing recipe, I just sprinkled icing sugar and stuck walnuts and silver sugar balls on top with a bit of lemony icing)

Line the base and sides of a deep, 18cm cake tin with nonstick baking paper, and heat the oven to 180C (160C fan-assisted)/350F/gas mark 4.

Put the dates, tamarind paste and 300ml water in a pan and bring to a boil. Boil for a minute, remove from the heat, add the butter, and set aside for 10 minutes to cool. Add the brown sugar, stir, then beat in the eggs until smooth.

Beat in the flour and bicarb, then stir in the walnuts. Spoon the cake mix into the tin and bake for about an hour, or until a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean. Remove and leave to cool. When cold, make a thick, smooth icing with the icing sugar, cardamom, juice and a little water, if needed, and spoon over the cake so it dribbles down the sides.

A perfect November cake

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The drawings of Eugene Morozov

I first came across the drawings of Dyolten (Eugene Morozov) through a Livejournal Moleskine community. He has kindly given permission for me to reproduce some of his art here. I could eulogise so much but I want to let the drawings speak for themselves - let me just say they've been my desktop backgrounds for months.

Be transported:
Pouring Rain
Temple of Forest
Atlantis Stamp
Window in Summer

Chief at Dawn

A comparison showing how the works progress through the addition of colour
Am Wasserfall
Miniature No 2

Birch 3
White Sea
Abraham -Illustration made for Matthew Clark's album Bright Came the Word
You can see the artist's Flickr here where there is also exceptional design work, typography, engravings and photography. Thank you Dyolten.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Moments stolen

Snatching a few minutes here and there - crouched on the train to work plugged into my iPhone, lulling the baby to sleep, staring into a pan of dinner, hanging up washing to dry, drifting through town on my lunch break, driving through misty valleys, before I go to sleep, a peaceful 10 minutes in the shower - to think, think and plan and sort through the endless lists in my head.

I have got far too into the habit of letting my brain wander, allowing myself to let this essential day-to-day life list making extend to the far future - how my work, our living situation, my strength (physically and mentally) will fit in with these long term aspirations for a proper working gigging band, another child, my money making endeavors, my writing, my work - it's impossible to fit it all together and often I find myself in a daze, unable to articulate my thoughts. It will all work out.

Up and down the A470

The street where I work

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Inspiration VI

Just a short one today - I've been so busy these last few days!
      Thomas Dewing - Lady with a Lute 1886
    Against the Mossy Tree - Edmund Dulac - 1900
From Edward Hopper’s Sketchbook and Register
Luis Bunuel-  L’Age d’Or, 1930
 Me forever.

Portrait of a Musician (detaiI), Pordenone 1483 – 1539

Friday, November 9, 2012


I have a thing about beautiful notebooks. Here are some of my most important ones:

A new discovery. I found these gorgeous A6 notebooks in Waterstones but they are made by - some of the other designs are a bit too floral and twee for me but these are just perfect. I bought three, I was going to give them all away but I sent one to Ama and am keeping these two for myself.

Two leather-bound books. On the left, folded eco-paper is bound in raw leather. The tiny book on the right is very special to me. I chose it when I was 12 from a small handmade leather bookshop in Tuscany, Italy. In it I keep a dried leaf from the huge bay tree in Leonardo da Vinci's garden which we visited later that holiday.

Left: A stunning Roger la Borde book that has brightly coloured pages all the way through. It's so beautiful I haven't written anything in it! Right: A magnetic fold over mock leather Paperblank journal with embossed gold. I took this one travelling with me and it has a travel diary in it.

A big mirrored leather folded wrap over book I bought from a leather shop in Camden Market years ago. All the pages are filled with notes, postcards, art cards, bits of paper and collected curiosities. This book holds everything I want to frame when we move house.

Miscellaneous. I have a couple of Moleskines obviously and this is one of them. I use them for keeping notes as I read books. A papyrus book. A tiny card notebook from many years ago, vintage Paperchase!

And possibly the most important of all due to their contents: my the two notebooks that contain lecture and revision notes on every scrap of knowledge I know about psychotherapy.