Where Have I Been? (Apology & Art Update!)

Taken by Oliver J Cooper (Instagram @coastaloliver), September 2017, Eastbourne, UK.

I am completely aware of my lack of new art work recently, and I apologise!

As I discussed in my December vlog, I recently took the leap into freelance work (you can read more about it here). This was one of the best decisions I have made and I am loving it. My big fear was not being able to find enough work to make a living, but recently I have been receiving so much it has been difficult to juggle.

Alongside my art work I create design pieces. I am working with some really fascinating small businesses, ranging from designers to therapists to photographers. While it’s mostly graphic work, I sometimes get to use watercolours in my designs, which creates a lovely combo between my two passions. I also write and work with different crafts, and and I’ve been learning how to balance and make time for a bit of everything.

I love the variety of my work and am grateful for the opportunity to work on so many great projects, but unfortunately I have found that while I have been finding and building a repertoire with my design clients, my artwork has been pushed to the side.

Learning how to manage my work is becoming easier with time. I am planning to spend a large part of the Spring sitting down outside with my paints, getting all the ideas that have been buzzing around my head onto paper.

What’s coming next?

Recently I have been really keen on minimalist line work, and I am looking forward to combining this style with my own.

I have also started to get my children’s book ideas onto paper, which is really exciting and should be the start of a fascinating project.

Another goal is to create a series of textile designs, as I think it’s interesting to cross the line between art and something that is functional – I’m looking forward to sharing more with you, thank you so much for your continued support.


Photo credit: Oliver J Cooper (Instagram: @coastaloliver). 

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New Year 2018: Trial, Error and Experimentation

Experiment with Gouache

Some fun trying out new paints! This is my first experiment with gouache, it's a little different to watercolour but so far I really like it, particularly the thickness of the paint and the way it can be layered. I'm looking forward to using these for bolder pieces.

Posted by The Art of Hannah Rose Shaw on Saturday, December 30, 2017

Hello, and happy New Year! As we go into January, there’s a lot of ‘new year, new me’ posts on social media. Of course, self improvement isn’t bad, but I like to remember that imperfection, mistakes and uncertainty are not always wrong.

I posted this video of a few clips from the painting process of a new piece I’ve been working on. It is far from being my favourite piece I have ever painted, but I want to show the experiments, the trail and error pieces, as well as the ‘good’ stuff.

I received a set of gouache paints for Christmas, and using them is really new to me. They’re a lot thicker and more opaque than watercolour, so using them a very different way of working, but they can be layered beautifully to make much richer, bolder pieces.

The concept for this piece came out of a bad week, where among other things I was seeing negativity and unkindess. This painting is about the importance of positive relationships, of allowing others to grow, and to grow through you.

It isn’t finished and I may not finish it for a while – I want to get some large sheets of watercolour so I can re-create it in detail, as at the moment it’s quite tiny. But it was an experiment and a learning process, a way of working that I will perfect over time as I become better with gouache and remember not to try and fit detailed paintings onto A4 sheets of paper.

The point is, imperfection is not a downfall but a sign of growth and a learning process. If we don’t make mistakes then we aren’t trying new things, and that is a failure indeed.


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An Unconventional Path to Art and Design

In my latest Youtube video I shared the story of how and why I do what I do. I wanted to show that there is no ‘right’ way of achieving something. If you have something you want to do and are working towards doing it then you are already on the right track. The important part is finding your own path and deciding what works for you.


Making things is my passion. It’s how I express myself – since being a child I have always drawn my experiences, whether it was days out or illustrations to sit beside my stories.

Beyond school I never had any art lessons. I believed for a long time that I couldn’t paint, that I could only draw, because my style didn’t seem to fit the way that art was taught in school. I was eighteen when I sat down with a drawing and some watercolours and decided to paint without thinking about composition or technique or colour, and to work in a way that felt really natural to me. That was when it all came together, and I realised I had my own style and my own way of working.

Since then I painted constantly. While I didn’t study art after school, I always painted during my spare time at university, setting up mini painting studios in my rooms. I went back to art in my postgraduate degree, where I studied the history of art and art theory. I still completely believed for a long time that there was no way to earn a living from art. I don’t deny that it is difficult, but it took a while for me to stop believing it was impossible.


Since deciding to go my own way I have worked on some really amazing projects, from curating and exhibition design to metal work and ceramics to graphic design and illustration, as well as starting my blog and my Youtube channel and planning some longer term projects, mainly my books and animations.

It took a lot of indecision and travelling down the wrong path to find out where I want to go. Don’t worry if you are still in that place – I find that the world has a funny way of righting itself. Keep exploring, and more often than not the right way is around the corner.

Do you have a passion that you’re pursuing? Let me know how you are doing it in the comments – I’m looking forward to reading your stories.


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Painting Process: Watercolour Eye Study

I finally bought myself a camera, which means that a series of new videos is on the way! I am incredibly excited about this and I can’t wait to share some new work with you in the New Year.

I have uploaded the quick eye study to my Youtube channel. I wanted to see what I could do with just 5-10 minutes, and I thought an eye study would be fun.

I love trying to capture expressions using just eyes, because for me they are the focus of any portrait and are where the most emotion is found. If you can get the eyes right, the rest of the portrait falls into place.

Please like, subscribe and keep an eye out for new videos.


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Make Your Own Handbound Notebook

I recently added these hand-bound notebooks to my Etsy store. I had a lot of fun making them and wanted to share a few tips on how to get started with book-binding. The idea can seem quite daunting, but once you get the hang of it there are so many options for customisation.

What you need:

  1. 10x sheets of paper. It is best to use a high quality writing paper, but you can also use regular printing paper. 10 folded sheets will make a 20 page notebook (40 sides) when the binding process is complete.
  2. 1x sheet of thick printing paper. Make sure that it is 150gsm or more.
  3. A small awl.
  4. A needle.
  5. Thread. There are many different kinds of thread that you can use for book binding. The best is linen thread, but cotton will work as well. The important thing is to choose a natural fibre that will last a long time and be strong enough to hold the notebook together.

Step 1

Print your chosen design onto your printing paper. This will be the cover of your notebook.

Step 2

Fold your notebook cover in half. Repeat with the 10x sheets of writing paper, and place the writing paper inside the cover, as you want the pages to lay.

Step 3

Find the centre of your notebook. You should start binding from the inside. You may want to use paperclips to hold the pages in place while you begin threading. Use the awl to make three holes – one in the centre, one an inch from the top, and the last an inch from the bottom. If you want the binding to be perfect then you should measure the holes to make sure they are at equal distances, but this is not completely necessary. Begin by threading the needle through the centre hole.

Step 4

Flip the notebook over and pull the thread through. The cover should now be facing up. Thread the needle back through the top hole, and flip the notebook over so the writing paper is facing up. Thread back through the centre hole.

Step 5

Repeat step 4 by threading through the third hole at the bottom of the notebook, so that the cover is facing up, then push the needle back through the centre hole. You may repeat steps 4 and 5 twice if you would like the binding to be particularly strong.

Step 5

Finish by laying the notebook and the writing paper facing up, and tie the loose ends together. Trim the loose thread and you’re done!

There’s so much opportunity to play with this process, designing your own covers and working with a variety of paper sizes, creating mini notebooks as well as larger books with different types of paper. Notebooks, sketchbooks and journals can all be created in the exact same way.

If you decide to try it out, I’d love to see the results!


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Rewilding: The Process


I’ve had a break from blogging for the past month. With one exhibition going on display, and another in the works, things have been pretty busy. I also escaped for a week away with my family, where I spent a lot of time reading and working on drawing studies.

Before I go ahead and explain the thoughts behind my newest painting, go ahead and take a look below at my Youtube video showing the full painting process.

I started this painting because I wanted to make something without already knowing how I wanted it to look. The plan was to put pencil to paper and see what happened. Like most creatives I am a perfectionist, but sometimes perfectionism can limit your work. In this piece I left in the rough pencil lines that I would normally erase. I like using flowing line work to create a sense of movement, and I like how alive they make the portrait look.

Rewilding, Hannah Rose Shaw, 2017, ink and watercolour on A4 watercolour paper.

I’ve recently been inspired by Clarissa Pinkola Estés’s Women Who Run with the Wolves. Estés talks, among many other things, about how a creative inner world needs to be fed. My work often comes back to the theme of inner lives, an introspective nature appearing in my colours and bringing together of the ordinary and the extraordinary, the external and the internal. I’m planning on this idea becoming a series of work, and I’ll talk more about it in posts to come.

For now, let me know what you think of the video, and I invite you to a challenge! It’s this: get out a pen or a brush and set of paints, and start making. It doesn’t matter how you do it, what it is or what the outcome is, just enjoy the doing and use it as a chance to work without worrying about perfection.


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Gaea: The Process

The goddess Gaea weaves through Greek mythology as the personification of Earth and the creator of all life. Greek vases show her as inseparable from her native element, rising from the Earth. In mosaic art she is clothed in green and surrounded by infant gods of things that grow. Described as the eldest of divinities, a giver of dreams, a nourisher of plants, Hellenistic worship of Gaea was a celebration of nature.

The ancient Greek explanation for the creation of the world was written by Hesiod in his poem Theogony in about 700bc. In the beginning there was only Chaos, a great void. From the void appeared the Earth, Gaea, who gave birth to the sky and the sea. The Romans called her Terra, and almost every culture on Earth has a name for her; the Aztec Coatlicue, the Inca Pachamama, the Celtic Dea Matrona, and the Hindu Add Para Shakti.

‘Gaea’ began as a sketch in November last year. I had been reading a lot of Greek mythology and while there are many strong female characters – Artemis, Athena, Nemesis – Gaea stood out to me as a powerful and creative force. I think there is a strong sense of duality about her that makes her such an interesting figure. She is maternal but also the strongest of all the gods, she destroys as well as creates, she brings into being both good and bad, she works in both the physical, natural work and the intangible world of prophecy and dreams.

Gaea, Hannah Rose Shaw, 2016, ink and watercolour on A4 watercolour paper.
Gaea, Hannah Rose Shaw, 2016, ink and watercolour on A4 watercolour paper.

I started this piece by sketching the face and then the leaves and flowers. The drawing process took several hours. I don’t like to rush my work, and I create best when I am in a calm frame of mind and simply let the piece develop.

To colour the drawing I used bold pinks and oranges intermingled with more natural blues and greens, allowing the colours to melt and merge. For this piece I used Daler Rowley watercoloursPebeos’ Colorex watercolour inks – the brightness of which I absolutely love – and tried out my new Finecolour markers, which are subtle but wonderful for adding detail.



I had so much fun working on this piece and working in a slightly different style to usual. The outlines in black pen makes it look more illustrative than my usual work, but I think it fits the boldness of the subject and colours. I’m looking forward to creating more mythology-inspired work. Have an idea which figure I should paint next? Let me know in the comments.

‘Gaea’ is available as an A4 print in my shop.


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