Evening Workshops in 2018: Drawing, Watercolours, Papercutting and Sewing

‘Lighten Up’: A Solo Exhibition at the Harbour Lights Cinema, Southampton, January 2018

So excited to have 37! pieces of work up at the Habour Lights Picture House Cinema in Southampton for the whole of January…including 11 brand new pieces.

Originals and prints are available to purchase, just contact me by emailing caroline@daffillustration.com to place and order.

See the full online gallery here.

Major Project: ‘True Story’, Exhibtion @ Mettricks Woolston Waterside from 31/7/17

I am very pleased to announce that a solo exhibition of my major project is up at Mettricks Woolston Waterside until the end of September when it will move to Mettricks Guildhall. You can see all the illustrations for the show in the Daff Gallery as well as pictures of the limited edition box sets of prints and posters that are available to purchase now.

Major Project: I have a plan!

I’m off to Copenhagen for a week on Monday for a break before I crack on with my major project final piece.

I wanted to get everything decided upon before I left, including the box which I will contain all the illustrated cards in. I ordered these from The Wooden Box Mill however when they arrived I felt as though they’d be too big and bulky for the prints. I want the packs of prints to be much more compact and look hand made so I ordered some A5 ‘Brown Vintage Card Boxes’ from ebay which I think will work much better. My plans is to make the packaging look like a vintage parcel. I ordered a ‘Daff Illustration’ stamp from Vista Print and have loads of postage stamps from the 1950’s. I may make a belly band or label for the box to give details of what’s inside the box and include the RSPB in aid of logo.

When I get back from holiday I will be concentrating on the illustrations for ‘True Story’ – 10 watercolour and ink pieces for an exhibition at Mettricks Woolston Waterside starting on 31st July 2017 for 6-8 weeks and then moving to Mettricks Guildhall for 6-8 weeks. I will use a similar method to creating work for the ‘Summer of Love’ exhibition: order frames, prep paper and news clippings, design compositions and then make a start on each piece. I’ll have over a month to get everything done which should be plenty of time. I will getting the little limited edition boxes of prints ready for the exhibitions too.

I also like the idea of string tie envelopes which could have something printed on the front or a belly band. My decision between envelopes or boxes rests on whether or not I have time to include anything else with the prints of ‘True Story’, like a bird spotter and stickers etc.

Major Project: I’m back!

It’s been a while since my last blog post as I’ve been trying to sort through my ideas for the next stage of this project by writing ideas on countless pieces of paper and doing some experimentation pieces in sketchbooks to work out the style and format of my new illustrations. I’ve also updated this website with new illustrations (thanks to Grish Art for putting it all together for me).

I’ve slowed things down a little after a couple of hectic months producing a whole new body of work for a solo exhibition at Portsmouth Guildhall called ‘A Summer of Love’. This gave me the opportunity to focus on a theme and produce work that showcased my style. The show is on until 21st June and has been featured on the CCI and Strong Island websites.

So here’s a short description of what my Major Project will be:

A series of watercolour and ink illustrations which celebrate the variety of birds living in The Westwood that, when hung together in any combination, form a ‘birdscape’. Miniature prints of these illustrations on cards will create an ‘ever-changing birdscape’ contained within a box. This project hopes to inspire people to appreciate their nearby nature that so often gets taken for granted. A percentage of sales from products, prints and originals will go towards the RSBP.

The plan (maximum target):

1a) An exhibition of ‘Birds of the Westwood’ at a venue in Southampton in July and an online portfolio

1b) ‘Birds of The Westwood’ box of cards in an edition of 20 – an ‘Everchanging Birdscape’ for sale online and in the café (including ‘in aid of RSPB’ logo)

2) ‘A Summer of Love’ Exhibition @ Portsmouth Guildhall and an online portfolio.

3) ‘Butterflies of The Westwood’ (Large illustrations for Hampshire Open Studios exhibition in August)

I also have a number of commissions to complete over the coming months too, including a large painting for a cafe in Southampton…more information coming soon!


‘Making Nature: How we see animals’

I have lots of reading to get through but I couldn’t resist these (below)…The bottom three I bought at the Wellcome Collection when I visited their exhibition ‘Making Nature: How we see animals’ (left).

The exhibition shows how we have recorded and classified animals throughout recent history and given a hierarchy of importance to certain creatures over others. The methods of hunting animals, stuffing them or using them for their fur, feathers or skin was seen a way to engage with their worlds…but now we know that this has contributed to many animals being on an endangered list!

Putting animals into zoos is one way of learning about them, however, there is still a degree of separation – a belief that we are the most important species and giving attention to those animals we feel are more interesting, exotic and rare. Surely it is better to immerse yourself in animals natural habitats with as little impact as possible? Really looking at every creature with the same awe and curiosity. This way we are able to see ourselves as animals too avoiding the temptation to value one creature over the other just because they are more colourful or scarce.

What next?

For my next series of illustrations I came to the conclusion that I would need to put a limit on the number of birds I draw because I have seen so many in the Westwood in the past 5 months. I also don’t want to give any importance to certain species over others. I want this to be a true account of the birds that I saw on one walk through the woods. Taking inspiration from my previous ‘creative un-block’ challenge, ‘Blockvember’ I will set myself a few limitations in order to help me come to decisions:

– One day, one walk, 10 birds, 10 wild flowers.

– One magazine from the 1950’s called ‘True Story’. 10 clippings. 10 adverts for products. I enjoyed using adverts and stories from the old newspaper in my work for ‘A Summer of Love’ so have decided to continue this style.

– A more stylised way of working, this experiment below shows the kind of illustrations I’d like to create and use a bit of 50’s typography too.

The idea behind using these adverts for products related to the fact that the land next to The Westwood, which is now part of the nature reserve, used to be a landfill site in the 50’s – 80’s. This juxtaposition of consumerism and nature is present to challenge the audience: ‘If animals don’t need these products to be happy or healthy why should we?’ Still to this day companies tell us that we need this make up, cleaning product or hair spray to be a happy, successful and loved human.I believe that the closer the relationship we have with nature, the less we feel we need to be happy. Nature can inspire us to be more creative and satisfied with less. Since the closure of the landfill site in the 80’s nature has reclaimed the area and masked what lies beneath. If we stop interfering with wildlife and their habits the world would eventually heal itself…but we still have a long way to go when most of the world still buys into consumerism and capitalism.




Major Project: ‘A Summer of Love’ at Portsmouth Guildhall, 20/3/17 – 21/6/17

‘A Summer of Love’

You can see all the illustrations here in the Daff Gallery

An exhibition of illustrations by Caroline Misselbrook, celebrating generations of her family’s love of nature and creativity.

To mark the 50th birthday of the Summer of Love in San Francisco, the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries (CCI) at the University of Portsmouth and Portsmouth Cultural Trust (PCT) invited CCI students to submit a proposal to showcase new creative work as part of our ongoing exhibition programme to enrich the visual and cultural experience of visitors to the Guildhall.

The aim is to offer students and alumni an opportunity to showcase their work to a broad public audience, developing their professional creative practice. For this exhibition students submitted proposals responding to the theme: ‘Summer of Love’.

The selected student was Caroline Misselbrook, an MA Illustration student at the School of Art and Design, who was awarded £250 towards materials and display. This show will be part of a series of Summer of Love celebrations in Portsmouth. Talks, exhibitions, performances, film screenings, live music and other events will shine a spotlight on the history and legacy of the sixties counterculture.

The selection panel looked for creative excellence, originality in response to the theme and clear method of display. The judges were Simon Brooks (Interim Dean of CCI Faculty), Andy Grays (CEO of Portsmouth Cultural Trust), Eva Balogh and Oliver Gruner (Art & Design Visual Culture), Tony Spencer (Aspex Gallery Manager) and Denise Callender (CCI Faculty Promotions Manager).

In this series of 10 illustrations, Caroline gives a new lease of life to the birds from her father’s egg collection, which he started as a child in the 1950’s during walks in the Westwood Local Nature Reserve and along Weston Shore in Southampton.

While organising the box Caroline found a complete copy of the Daily Express from 1961 underneath the sawdust. Adverts and articles form part of the watercolour and ink illustrations and highlight the juxtaposition of animals that continued to live happily around us while we focused on our materialistic lifestyles and had unhealthy expectations of men and women. It was this post war culture in the U.S, Canada and Europe that eventually lead to hippies or ‘flower children’ during the Summer of Love in San Francisco in 1967, rejecting these consumerist values and turning to art, religious or meditative practice and politics.

Caroline accentuates the expressions and characteristics of each bird to create satirical and humorous illustrations. These artworks challenge the audience to ask whether values reflected in a newspaper from over 50 years ago have really evolved, or have they just become more deeply ingrained in everything we read and watch?

Richard Louv’s book ‘The Nature Principle’ in which he discusses his theory of ‘nature deficit disorder’ has been a key source of inspiration for this project. He believes that stepping away from screens to discover and appreciate the wonders of our ‘nearby nature’ can improve wellbeing and creativity. This exhibition is a celebration of the variety of birds within the haven of the Westwood and Weston Shore, which is less than 4 miles from the bustle of Southampton city center.

‘Creative Block’ by Danielle Krysa helped to inspire a daily challenge called ‘Blockvember’, leading to the development of a more distinctive and expressive style. Caroline describes her choice of media as a natural progression towards materials that forced her away from a safety net of precision and perfectionism. Ink and watercolours are difficult to control and embracing mistakes, drips and splashes gives the composition a more dynamic quality.

The series closes with a photograph of the artist’s father and his mother. Caroline’s grandmother raised a family centered on creativity and a love of nature. She continued to watch the birds outside her window until she passed away in January.


Major Project: Picture Books, Animation and Experience

On Tuesday 7th February Joel Lardner and Paul Roberts visited the University to talk about their project ‘Queen of Spades’; a animation, virtual reality, game experience based on a picture book by Lardner. I’m drawn to the idea of offering a new way of experiencing the picture book to the audience.


Picture Books

Emily Rand ‘In The Garden’ – “I like to create picture books inspired by my surroundings and I take pleasure in noticing the tiny details in daily life. I am interested in playing with the format of the book, creating unusual and experimental artists publications.”


Interaction and participation – meaning is formed from our memory. How we have interacted with books as children. A story telling device. Moving away from a sense of reality.

Metaphor – new ways of seeing things

Creating a space where the audience can experience something new: fairy tale, uncanny valley, style, visual symbolism, idiosyncratic, rekindle the passion for exploration and experimentation.

Boxes, mechanism, ‘toyness’.

Mood, atmosphere: the story is the catalyst

‘Creating imaginary worlds and inviting people to try them.’ – Brian Eno

Look/Book Report – Blog


Here are thoughts about a picture book based on my relationship with nature, contained in a box. Inspired by the box that my Dad kept wild bird’s eggs in when he was a young boy and that fascinated me as a child. These eggs were found in the same place that I am basing my project on – The Westwood. I could create a limited edition set of smaller boxes that contain a picture book that not only showcases my skills as a multidisciplinary artist but also my relationship with nature. This book would represent how my father’s relationship with nature has inspired my own and bring to life the birds which would have hatched from these eggs. I could think about including a narrative too.

The box as a metaphor, a new way of seeing things, a story telling device, a space where the audience can experience something new.

This contents of this box represents the variety of species within the woods but also the life that could have been. My artistic response will hopefully breath new life into these animals in the only way possible – imagination. I could also animate the birds, giving the audience a new experience – unique and totally different to just looking at images of my work or the box. This would allow a wider audience the chance to see my project online through social media platforms. This could be a medium through which to promote my workshops. Each page of the picture book using a different technique/material.

Major Project: Eggs, eggs, eggs…and boxes

After receiving feedback about my Major Project Proposal I have spent the last couple of weeks trying to think about how to simplify my project a little…rather than trying to take on far too much. I have decided to focus on the Westwood Local Nature Reserve as my main source of inspiration. This is somewhere I visited regularly as a child and continue to do so as an adult to maintain my relationship with ‘nearby nature’. I plan to produce paintings, drawings, papercuts and prints that can be taken to workshops as examples.

How will I contain or present the work that I’m producing over the next year? My tutor showed me this box of ‘Building Stories’ by Chris Ware. A collection of comic books and posters all contained within a box. For me a box is the ultimate symbol of a childhood: curiosity, imagination, presents, surprise, mystery. Last week we presented our ‘Advanced Techniques’ to the group. Orla and Lindy’s session was based on conceptual art and the subject matter that inspires them to create. These were represented by objects contained within small boxes, fastened with elastic bands. There was excitement and anticipation in the air as we opened these one by one and discussed what we had found. ‘Thinking outside the box”, “unleashing your creativity” etc…phrases that come to mind when thinking of boxes as a metaphor for creativity.

This egg box below belongs to my Dad. He collected bird’s eggs from the Westwood and Weston Shore as a child with his cousin in the 1950’s. When I was a child I was always fascinated with this box; I had to be careful and make sure not to damage the delicate egg shells and loved the smell of the old saw dust and wooden box.

The egg is also symbolic of new life and the mystery of what could be contained within. I remember being fascinated by watching our chicken’s eggs underneath the incubator slowly cracking, piece by piece revealing a little damp chick inside with it’s eyes closed and limbs folded tightly.

I would like to learn from my fathers experience and perhaps bring these birds back to life through illustrations and animations. A celebration of the life that now flourishes within these woods having survived a culture that, while trying to gain a better understanding of wildlife, was at the time a hindrance to it’s development.

I could present my artwork within a similar box and perhaps create a set of smaller limited edition boxes to not only showcase my skills as a multidisciplinary artist but also my relationship with nature. These boxes would engage the audience directly with the subject matter with the hope that they would want to explore their nearby nature too.

My Dad collected these birds eggs at a time when it was considered a hobby:

While it once played a role in increasing people’s understanding of natural science, we now have high quality cameras and other technology at our disposal to get a glimpse into the nesting habits of birds.

However, the most likely reason for egg collecting dying out is that modern generations are more likely to stay indoors playing with handheld gadgets than climbing trees. ‘My opinion is that this was a hobby for young boys before the days social media, computer games and mobile phones existed,’ reckons Taylor.

‘When I was in school 40-years-ago, it was often discussed in the classroom as a hobby. Now when I speak to younger children about it they look at me mystified. Times have changed considerably. The collectors that still exist are usually men from that far away era, now in their 40s and 50s.’

(“Case cracked? The illegal hobby of wild egg collecting,” 2016)

RSPB Wild Birds and the Law: Egg Collecting

It has been illegal to take the eggs of most wild birds since the Protection of Birds Act 1954 and it is illegal to possess or control any wild birds’ eggs taken since that time under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

It is illegal to sell any wild bird’s egg, irrespective of its age.

Possession of wild birds’ eggs is an offence of strict liability. Anyone that chooses to be in possession of eggs is obliged to show, on a balance of probabilities, that their possession is lawful. For persons found guilty of any of these offences, Magistrates have the power to impose maximum sentences of £5,000 fine and/or six month’s imprisonment per egg.

Despite the fact that legislation prohibiting the taking of certain wild birds’ eggs has been in existence since 1880, the practice continues and, in the case of particularly rare birds, it can have serious implications for their conservation. Rare breeding species particularly vulnerable to egg collectors include Slavonian and black-necked grebes, ospreys, white-tailed eagles, red kites and red-necked phalaropes.

Collectors can devote their life to the pursuit of eggs and can become obsessed with the practice. They usually take the whole clutch of eggs, and may return for a second clutch. Rare species of birds are often targeted. An egg will rot if the contents are left inside, so eggs must be ‘blown’. Collectors will take eggs at every stage of incubation, although freshly laid eggs are preferred as it is easier to blow out the yolk and the white of the egg.

Since the introduction of custodial sentences for these offences by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, a number of collectors have been sent to prison for up to six months. This appears to have had a positive effect in reducing egg-collecting activity in the UK and in 2008, the RSPB received just 36 reported incidents of egg collecting and egg thefts.

When compared to the 41 reports received in 2007, and that an average number of 66 reports were received between 2003 and 2007, this appears to be part of an encouraging downward trend that shows egg collecting is on the decline.

In spite of these encouraging signs, however, there are still active collectors at large and a number of significant illegally held collections. There is no doubt that with the passage of time more cases will come to light and there is some evidence that egg collectors are now operating increasingly abroad.

(“RSPB Wild Birds and the Law: Egg Collecting,” 2009)

The problem lies with egg collectors and nest robbers who steal whole clutches of eggs from rare species – not just a young boys hobby but a greedy, money making opportunity.

Major Project: Advanced Techniques Presentation

This morning Carla and I gave an ‘Advanced Techniques’ presentation to our group about dip pen and ink drawing and watercolour painting. We both use these materials in our work and thought it would be interesting to create some collaborative drawings to showcase our individual techniques. Carla drew the figures and I super imposed some watercolour paintings of butterfly wings on top. Our aim was to create a sort of fashion illustration. We both felt this was a successful experiment and really enjoyed the process.


Do Schools Kill Creativity?