Martha R. Ford : Illustration

A collection of works-in-progress, works-finished and 'things' I like.

Category: Illustrations

New Online Shop!

Image of Whales in the River - Unframed Giclee Print

Finally! I now have an online shop and as a little celebration (and an ‘I’m back!), everyone gets 15% off everything in the shop during September (offer lasts until 30/09/14 midnight).

The discount code is: SEPTOPEN15
(Enter at checkout in the discount box before you get transferred to Paypal)

Image of Party Time - Greetings Card

Currently selling cards and prints in A3, A4 and A5 sizes. I am still developing my illustrated jewellery collection but the lockets will be returning soon!

Image of Through the Two Mountains - Unframed Giclee PrintImage of Fishing - Unframed Giclee Print


So a while ago, as part of my teacher training, I had to develop new skills in an area of art and design I was not confident in and create new work for an exhibition at the university. As I have now finished my teacher training (yes!), I decided it was about time I blogged about this new passion of mine…papercutting.

I love it. I love the fragile, tactile, lace-like nature of the cut paper; I love the beautiful, ethereal imagery and I love the therapeutic, hypnotic, meditative process of paper cutting. (However, what I love less are the 5 small spiders I just found crawling up my leg as I write this!).

Before this project, I had previously worked in the Paper Scissors Stone/Made in Bristol shops with the very talented Sarah Dennis (

sarah3 sarahsarah1

Her work, the work of Michael Lomax (a fellow undergraduate- and the popular Rob Ryan, first introduced me to this artform.

Have an oggle at some of the other fantastic paper artists I researched before attempting my own paper cuts:

Elsa Mora:

elsa mora2 elsa mora3 elsa3elsa2

 Zim and Zou:

zim and zou4  zim and zou2

 Emma Van Leest:

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Peter Callesen:












Anna-Wili Highfield:













Lisa Nilsson:

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So after experimenting with quilling and 3d paper sculpture techniques, I began to develop my paper cutting skills. What started as just an assignment, has now become a bit of an obsession and I am looking forward to honing and pushing my (currently quite limited) skills.

Work-in-progress in the lead up to the deadline:




















Finished work:































Although I enjoyed the process and like the final outcomes, they were created during a busy teaching placement and alongside masters level essays and therefore I don’t think the ideas behind them are very well developed; more decorative ‘experiments’.

The final piece I completed for the exhibition is the girl’s head with the brambles and the branches. This has a more developed concept. I was beginning to explore low self-confidence and anxiety through this image, something I was feeling a lot during the course and like many people, have had to deal with in the past, and I think this is something I will explore further soon.



The exhibition itself was a brilliant experience. I have exhibited with other illustrators before but not with such a variety of different artists. Ceramicists-turned-textile designers were displayed next to graphic designers-turned-printmakers next to lighting designers-turned-painters and so on. It was also an interesting exercise; learning a completely new skill and analysing how you learn, how different learners work through creative problems and how this can then translate into art and design teaching.


RED Exhibition


A new digital illustration I created for the RED exhibition at the Tobacco Factory, Bristol in aid of British Red Cross. A percentage of artwork sales will be donated to the Red Cross and it will help raise awareness of the amazing work carried out by the people in this organisation. The theme of the exhibition is(you guessed it) the colour red.

I wanted a red focal point and something that hinted at adventure and overcoming obstacles to reach a seemingly impossible goal to tie in with the Red Cross.

In my mind, I had those old illustrations of lonely, ancient, ivy-covered towers in the middle of gnarled, dark forests but lately, I’ve also been re-reading Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn, so there were a lot of bleak swampy/boggy images floating around in there too. The image just evolved and came together over time.

The opening night of the exhibition went really well. The live drawing by Dave Bain, Paul Roberts, Liv Bargman, Loch Ness and Katy Christianson was great and the work on the walls was varied and interesting. The more charity exhibitions, the better!

Birthday Post!

It’s my birthday today and to celebrate, I am blogging! No, not really, I am going to the cinema, eating lots of food, drinking and playing geeky boardgames. Roll on Dominion and Gloom(both great games, give them a go!), oh and I think there will be a lot of Articulate going down later. Wild.


Anyway, so there’s this exhibition called ‘Beat the Blues’ coming up at St George’s (Bristol), running alongside the Acoustic Music Festival and I will be exhibiting alongside some really talented illustrators and artists.

Although I am sure some of you will see them in the exhibition(and there is an old piece in there), here are the three I shall be exhibiting.

The old ‘Rest in the Dark Woods’ I painted for my ‘Little Places’ series:


I created a new piece called ‘Home’. It’s mostly pencil and watercolours but then I have done my usual digital fiddling.

House on the island

And the third piece I will be showing is ‘Whales in the River'(and yes, I know Whales do not usually swim in rivers). This is a mostly digital piece although all the elements were drawn beforehand and scanned in.

Whales in the River

The print for this last one is a lot darker than I had intended but it should still look nice once hung. These images are pretty much just about cozy spaces. And isolation:D

Kevin from Edge2edge framing once again did an amazing job on my frames and they were all delivered to St George’s yesterday. Looking forward to the opening!


Hello poor neglected blog, I’m back and I have been busy.

I have had some new christmas cards in the Watershed. I was also artist of the month in Hamilton House’s December Programme and this little Rabbit Girl got her time to shine on the cover(she’s very happy):

Martha Ford_Rabbit girl

December 1st- My first craft market since I was a child. This time, instead of helping my grandparents sell their wooden bowls and little cabinets, I was selling my own cards, lockets, prints and hand-painted tree decorations. How grown-up 😉


The event was the Magpies & I Vintage and Handmade Market at the Spiegeltent on the Harbourside in Bristol. It was beautiful and space issues aside, was the perfect first venue for me to test the waters. I will openly admit to being a bit of a pessimist sometimes so although I was excited, I also thought: I wouldn’t sell a thing, there wouldn’t be room for me, my table would collapse, the other sellers would shun me, someone would steal my float whilst I was distracted by something shiny, that sort of thing.

DSC_0330 copy

My table did wobble every time someone walked past and my stall did create a bit of a bottleneck (whenever two buggies turned up, it turned into a tiny double parked road with a car coming from either end). And I did have a few people walk by less than impressed, my favourite was a little older lady who, when her daughter pointed and said “Oh these are lovely, what do you think?”, said with a great dismissive wave across my stall, “I don’t like ANY of them”.  Can’t win ’em all eh? But generally, my artwork and products went down brilliantly (toot toot own horn)- lockets, decorations and cards were the most popular but a fair few prints sold too.

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Saw many friends and friendly acquaintances and most of my family turned up to help. I absolutely loved it and if I wasn’t working in Forbidden Planet at the weekends, I would probably become a market junkie. Also, hot spiced apple juice and caramel crumble cakes are delicious.


Since then, I have been a guest in the vol.3 and 4 of Paper Scissors Stone and then was asked to come back for the Volume 5 over Christmas which was AMAZING. Really enjoyed meeting some new people and equally, working with some familiar faces. I had a few new designs in the shop and sold most of my stock which was, as you can imagine, VERY nice and will hopefully alleviate some of my post-christmas financial woes!


It also led on to a lovely opportunity. I am now selling my products in a co-operative shop above BS8 on Park Street in Bristol with 6 other talented people. I think I might do a little post about Upstairs at BS8 and my colleagues once I have settled in a little more.


Maybe not as interesting for some of you but I have also spent a good amount of my time volunteering in a college and a secondary school back in Swindon. The ESOL department of New College and the Art Department of Isambard Community School both took me in and let me help with a bunch of projects and classes. Absolutely loved it. The ESOL classes were lively and chaotic, with teenagers from all over the world coming together and showing that despite cultural differences, teens are always going to be teens:) I feel old.

Brisfest 2012

Walking back from work the other day all wrapped up in my massive scarf and jumper, I smelled woodsmoke in the air and realised Summer is over, Autumn has arrived and Winter is not far off. I wondered where my summer months had gone. Then I had a good think and realised I have actually filled my Summer to the brim, I just haven’t blogged about it…

So…as well as going on a couple of (parent funded family) holidays to Disneyland (yes, we are all big kids), Yorkshire(with kites!) and Greece (for a good friend’s wedding), creating my lockets and taking part in the Paper Scissors Stone pop-up shop in Cabot Circus; I have been working part-time in the super ‘geek’ paradise (I love it so much) that is Forbidden Planet, working on new designs and illustrations ready for a crazy crafty Christmas and volunteering in the decor team for Brisfest.

Fairground in the morning

Brisfest is a volunteer-maintained, community music and arts festival in Bristol with an emphasis on showcasing new and local creative talents. After five years, the festival has returned to the beautiful surroundings of Ashton Court and from what I could see and hear yesterday, has been a great success. It should be coming to an end about now-ish and although I decided to go home and read a book, I am hoping the more energetic festival goers fared okay with the bad weather!

My finished woodland seating area(most of the seating is out of shot!)

After volunteering for the decor team last year and having great fun, I was asked back as a core team member this year. I wasn’t able to give as much time as I would have liked in the first half of the year, but I did manage to free up quite a bit in the lead up to the festival. My personal decor projects were finished in time and I even got to help on a few other bits and pieces.

My contribution to the festival was a collection of painted wooden animals. We had next to no budget for decor so I made use of old graff. boards and our limited paint supplies(as well as adding some of my own). For me, this was painting on a big scale, something which I don’t often do. I do do a lot of work with traditional techniques and media but more and more, I am making good use of the computer to edit my artwork so I found myself  frequently surprised when I couldn’t just ‘undo edit’ something(fingers would occasionally twitch towards an imaginary cmd + z).

I had a good time exploring pattern and colour with these and it’s the first time in a while I have really explored how I depict animals.

A slightly sad looking stag

Wolfy wolf no.1

My two favourites

Originally meant for the Chill out zone and at the last-minute moved to a fence by the endangered beetles enclosure. Pretty lo brow stuff, no deep underlying message to these creatures, just fun and a little weird for a festival that was very fun and very weird. I loved making them and from the feedback I was getting, people loved looking at them so…success!

Family of foxes

And here’s a slideshow with a few more pics, take a gander:

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Etsy shop

I’ve been hard at work this morning. I’ve had an etsy shop ‘open’ since January but it has been empty of product and devoid of any customisation. Well not anymore. 

A nice banner and a few listings later and I am now selling my ‘wares’ online. I don’t expect the orders to come rolling in quite yet but I’m still very excited. More product to come soon!



So, I’ve created a piece for this unusual yet amazing exhibition called BUNT.

To celebrate BIG Green Week around 100 local artists are each creating a large scale piece of wooden bunting illustrating the range of bio-diverse plants, insects and animals from the region.

The BUNT show will be hung in many of the festival’s key venues throughout BIG Green Week, and is being coordinated by the local illustration collective Drawn in Bristol.

The pieces will then be auctioned off at the end of the exhibition.

We were given a long list of subject choices and, having a bit of a thing for bugs, I chose the Anax Parthenope (a species of dragonfly).

I’m quite pleased. Personally, I never feel a piece is ever ‘finished’ but sometimes, you just have to leave it alone:)

Looking forward to seeing it hung alongside what will no doubt be a some beautiful pieces. Exciting.


Babababaaaaaam…New Cards

Recently created 4 greetings card designs to sell in the Watershed’s foyer shop. So far they have gone down really well and a second order has gone in, wahay!

I wanted to create a cohesive set of 4 and went about this by really developing my use of colour and pattern.

Like a few previous pieces, I have once again, unwittingly, started exploring isolation within the natural world- being sometimes a part of it and sometimes very at odds with it.

I’m completely fascinated and constantly trying to visualise and recreate these themes of isolation.

My parents would take us on family holidays to these remote cottages in really beautiful and (seemingly) wild surroundings. We would go out exploring across the moors, or through the woods, or across these windy pebbly beaches and it always made me feel very small but in a natural way- I wasn’t imposing on nature, I was part of it. I’ve always lived in large concrete towns and cities and so these trips always had a profound effect on me.

I also grew up on a diet of amazing and weird stories. Roald Dahl, CS Lewis, Philip Pullman, Tolkein, Diana Wynne Jones, Maurice Sendak, Tamora Pierce and Mary Norton, naming a few on my long list of favourite writers. Then of course there was the consumption of many MANY myths, legends and folktales. They have all inspired me to create these weird magical little worlds.

These bright little cards are being sold at the Watershed in Bristol and the Paper Scissors Stone pop-up shop, also in Bristol. The photo below is the glass box they have set up to promote the store in Cabot Circus.

Secret 7″ Competition

I have recently submitted some pieces to Secret 7″, an exciting project which works with musicians and artists in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust.

The competition is to design a seven inch vinyl sleeve for one of seven artists(although you can design one for each artist if you so wish). These designs will then be voted on and the winning designs will then be available to purchase in the Idea Generation Gallery, London. Twist is, the buyers will not know who created the sleeve or what song is contained within until they have bought it! Exciting.

I have a bit of time on my hands at the moment but I like to keep busy so I ended up designing 4 sleeves: Florence + The Machine, Bombay Bicycle Club, Ben Howard and DJ Shadow.

Very happy with these:

This piece was created using fineliner pens, pencils, handmade textures(tea and watercolours) and photoshop.

And this one was a bit of an experimentation. I usually stick to fineliner pens but thought it would be good(and good fun) to play around with markmaking using pens with acrylic and inks. I also edited slightly in photoshop, just to up that contrast and add a slight background texture.

Fairly happy with this one:

This was really my first foray back into landscape(or seacape) painting. I haven’t painted a seascape in quite some time(and have never explored it properly) so it was really nice using acrylics again in this manner.

This one could use some work, its a little washed out(not striking enough) and I’m not sure the composition is quite right:

Overall, had a great time and found myself improving quite a bit with all the practice. Looking forward to checking out all the other entries, had a quick peek and some are looking REALLY good.

Oh and as there’s voting, I’ll be a bit cheeky and say “If you like any of the submissions, please vote for me!” Thank you:) (Voting begins 6pm today)

In other news, had my first proper rejection from a card company yesterday, woohoo, first of many in my professional career I’m sure:) And working on my online shop so I can start selling some prints again!