‘D’ is for Dragons, Detail and Daily Drawings

Each day in September, I took part in the John Vernon Lord ‘Drawing a Day’ challenge organised by the House of Illustration, London.
The challenge in which hundreds of artists took part in via Instagram was based on the series of daily one-inch squared drawings by John Vernon Lord (for every day of 2016!) That’s 366 teeny tiny drawings! Each one is an incredibly detailed work of art in pen and ink.


“Every day of 2016 I would do a drawing of something that occurred to me on the spur of the moment. The exercise was done for the fun of drawing – the liberation of drawing ‘for the sake of it’ is always something of a relief compared to the exacting challenge of illustrating professionally.” – John Vernon Lord



Word of the challenge quickly spread throughout Instagram and as I follow @illustrationhq and always love catching up on their latest exhibitions when visiting family in London, I had to join in!

I actually love working on a small scale. It was one of my most common criticisms in art college! I just love the idea of putting lots of detail into a small space, that invites the viewer to come close and interact with the artwork instead of strolling past because the composition can be understood and enjoyed from afar.
When it comes to children’s books and illustration, of course, simplicity can be beautiful and emotive. But I also love books that are full of little hidden details. Graeme Base’s “Animalia” draws its reader into the world of alphabetical fantasy, potentially for hours! For children with lower literacy and reading ability, these books can be so engaging and enjoyable.

Book: ‘Animalia’ by Graeme Base / ‘Drawing a Day’ one-inch squared drawings

Each page takes a letter of the alphabet and every single object and detail drawn on each page begins with that letter. Magical! Some are obvious and some require some thought. I remember pouring over this book as a child, figuring out what each object represented was called. My favourite page was the one in the picture above, “Diabolical Dragons Daintily Devouring Delicious Delicacies”. Mainly because there is a very tiny ‘Dalek’ and accompanying ‘Doctor’ hidden amongst the Diabolical Dragons! On each page is also hidden  a character of Graeme as a boy in a stripey jumper. Much like the “Where’s Wally?” books, this adds another level to the art of detail that simply wouldn’t work in a book of minimalist illustrations – it would just be too easy!

“Animalia” was the book I thought of when viewing John Vernon Lord’s drawings with this challenge in mind, so I decided upon the theme of animals for the 30 daily drawings I would undertake. Apart from this, I didn’t have much of a plan but when I doodled and came up with the drawing of an elephant squeezed into the 1”x1” box I drew for day one, I decided upon the theme of #squishyanimals.




I really loved taking part in this challenge, as well as seeing so many different takes on it from other artists on Instagram! I was delighted to be featured on the House of Illustration’s blog post, “25 Drawings for Day 25 of the House of Illustration Drawing a Day Challenge” which can be read here:


Thanks to the House of Illustration for  running this challenge and of course to John Vernon Lord for the fabulous work behind the challenge! I look forward to using my exhibition tickets when back in London at the end of the year.
To see some of the other participants of the ‘Drawing a Day’ challenge, check out the blog post below:

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