• Emily Powell

Random Acts of Illustration

Drawing is my gift. It lights my soul and makes my heart sing.

Sometimes my drawings are about sharing words and ideas and bringing them to life; solving problems, communicating strategy and policies, capturing processes.

And sometimes they’re about sharing feelings, capturing moments and memories.

I thought those two things were different. I thought I had to choose between them. I wrote a blog about how I knew I should niche, but how I couldn’t choose. Then I wrote a blog about putting my big grown up business pants on and choosing business illustration. I closed my website shop and put all my personal projects back in the cupboard.

But as much as I love the business illustration work, I love ALL the other stuff too and it broke my heart a little bit when I put all the other stuff away.

So I’ve got it all back out again. And now I’m not sure that they are so very different to the business illustrations after all! Pictures are such an innate part of our human experience, I think they each represent connection and understanding, capturing words, ideas and moments.

Sometimes there’s a picture that I just have to draw. Until it is out of my head and onto the paper, it won’t leave me. When I think of so many of the pictures I have drawn, they feel like random acts of illustrated kindness. Capturing a moment, or a memory, or a character as a gift for someone. Sometimes that someone is me, often it is for those I love, and sometimes it’s for someone who I don’t know, but whose story made me smile, or touched my heart.

Here are just a few.

Moments for those I love

The little jenny wren in the snow, that I drew as a gift for my Auntie Jenny. The original hangs in her cloakroom, amongst her collection of other beautiful pictures and ornaments of the bird that carries her name.

The picture of my mum’s dog, Barty, with big sticky-up bat ears. His picture hangs in Mum’s living room. Although he’s not around any more, the picture is a reminder of muddy paws, long walks and hairy cuddles.

The birthday card I drew for my daughter, when we celebrated her 10th birthday in lockdown. We were only allowed to meet up outside with very few people. We had the best day, enjoying a BBQ and games with our lovely neighbours.

The picture of my son’s most loved teddy and the two scraggy halves that are all that’s left of his baby blanket. I drew it after he left them arranged on the windowsill one day. The moment was gone in the blink of an eye, but the picture will keep that memory alive long after the blanket has completely disintegrated.

The African Grey parrots I drew for my husband to celebrate 20 years of being married. A reminder of late nights and early mornings hand rearing African Grey chicks years before we had our own children to disturb our sleep.

Moments for me

The picture of my mum curled up reading a book that I drew just for me and is framed in my studio.

All the pictures that I drew of my journey through the Action For Happiness, 10 Days of Happiness programme.

The pictures in my Tranquil Times collection that represent memories from my childhood, that stretch behind me as a rich tapestry of images.

The illustrations that I created to bring my values to life, that help me to remember who I am.

Moments for others, whose stories inspired me

I drew a picture of Eagley, a much loved pet rescued and raised from a chick by Sara (@me_and_orla). He was named Eagley by Sara’s daughter, Orla, because she thought he had an angry little eagles face! He was stolen and killed, and it was heart breaking to read. I drew the picture to be a reminder of the good times and beautiful memories.

I created a little fairy picture for Sally (@sallyhardie_coach) after seeing her post about fairy stickers and declarations to customs. The post made me smile and touched my heart, and I wanted to say to 6 year old Sally not to worry over the soap stickers.

I drew a picture of Pebble the kitten, who was adopted by Brandon (@brandon.peterson) after being found in the middle of a busy road at 8 weeks old. I was so touched by the connection between humankind and kittenkind that I wanted to capture it in a picture.

It is the moments and characters and memories of our lives that fill it with richness. That’s what I want to capture. More than just the lines and shapes and colours on a piece of paper. The small moments, those everyday happenings that are the extraordinary in the ordinary; to recall the good times, and the funny times and sometimes the sad times too. And treasure those moments that are gone in the blink of an eye but can last forever on the page.

My ask of you (#randomactsofillustration)

Drawing is my gift. It lights my soul and makes my heart sing. And I want to draw for you. Pictures to make your heart sing and light your soul.

When you think about your life, what moments would you want to capture forever? What pictures do you hold in your heart?

I’m re-opening my personal commissions so that I can help you do just that. Intricate pieces of art crafted with so much care, time and thought, to capture those moments and memories that mean the very most to you. If there’s something really special that you’d like me to create, drop me an email or an Instagram DM to book your commission.

I am also creating random acts of illustration to capture some of the moments and stories that I see on Instagram that inspire me and touch my heart. If you’re on Instagram, please do follow along, and if you see posts that inspire you, I would love to know.

Whatever it is, if a story sits beneath it, and it makes you feel, please share with me through your Instagram stories or a DM to @thomkatpictures. Use the hashtag #randomactsofillustration and be sure to tag me so that I can choose a few to draw!

Fellow artists, feel free to follow the hashtag and pick some of your own favourites to bring to life!

Through #randomactsofillustration I want to bring more kindness into the world. Help me, won’t you?

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