Martha R. Ford : Illustration

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

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!

The Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford

I went to this amazing(and famous) museum just after christmas with my dear sibling and parents and absolutely loved it. Its like stepping into a Victorian explorer’s lost attic/warehouse. Collection after collection of curiousities(model ships, lanterns, coins, musical instruments, you name it)are hoarded and stuffed into glass cases.

The room, although big, is full right to the edges with interesting objects. Regardless of the space issue, there were still people sat on little stools in corners and in front of some of the cases sketching away. I would recommend going along for a few hours if you are ever near oxford and have a good drawing session. There are also some amazing patterns/textiles around the place.

I personally loved the shrunken heads display(I assume its a popular one) and the lamp collection- there were some wonderful lamps made from drinks cans from Palestine and a bizarre blowfish lantern.

It also has a great collection of weaponry upstairs.

Its a free museum although I fully recommend helping out and giving a donation if you can. Go visit! It was wonderful and I will definitely be returning with a camera and  sketchbooks.

Oh and although its a bit gruesome, I love sketching butterfly/insect collections and flicking through old botanical books so this beautiful display wall in the natural history museum(in the same building as the big pitt rivers collection) delighted me no end!:

NOTE: These are not my photos! I wasn’t able to take any of my own due to the old batteries running down on my camera:((so I nicked other people’s from google images- thank you, they are wonderful!).

Angela Carter- Illustrations based on her short stories

There was recently an illustration competition with The Folio Society to illustrate 3 of the tales from Angela Carter’s book ‘The Bloody Chamber and Other Short Stories’. Although I didn’t leave myself much time and as such did not end up entering, I did have a great time illustrating. I had already read(and loved) some of Carter’s work before so this was a particularly interesting project for me.

The competition asked for 3 illustrations(one from each of the specified stories) and a binding design. I’m posting the cover design and two of the illustrations but the illustration for the story ‘Company of Wolves’ needs another hour(or two) I think:)

The first illustration is based on the story ‘The Bloody Chamber’- Carter’s adaptation of ‘Bluebeard’.

“His wedding present clasped around my throat. A choker of rubies, two inches wide, like an extraordinarily precious slit throat.”

Then this was to be the front cover although I would like to work into this image a little more- add more keys to the cluster in order to make more of a thing out of the void space surrounding the main(bloody) key. Whilst I was drawing this one, it reminded me that I really do love drawing multiples- I’m a bit of a treasure hunter/attic searcher/casual hoarder/obsessive sketcher so its like visually collecting items on a page whilst satisfying that urge to mindlessly draw.

And finally, the illustration for ‘Puss in Boots’ (And now I quite like drawing hairy legs):

“…the beautiful beginnings of morning in whose lively yet fragrant air his sensitive nostrils catch the first and vernal hint of spring.”

Bottom’s up Exhibition Piece

Here’s the piece I contributed to the exhibition, ‘Bottom’s Up’. The aim of the exhibition and the animated film which is being created by the wonderful Tanya Scott, is to tackle the touchy subject of environmental sustainability through amusing and inventive imagery.

I created this piece through mostly digital means but also through experimenting with some nice handmade/handpainted textures. Its a little more ‘commercial’ than my usual stuff but I like it all the same, especially as I forced myself to use a lot more colour than I’m used to- good practice! Also got a bit of robot in there which was good fun:)

Looking forward to seeing the other artworks!

Here are some robots.

And Happy Boxing Day!

Merry Late Christmas!