Bits & Bobs & Collage

I love collage almost as much as I love colour.

So naturally, colourful collaging is my dream.

For a while, I wouldn’t let my flatmate or work colleagues throw away a single magazine, newspaper, flyer, pizza delivery menu, nail parlour cost sheet… (you get the gist) until I had flicked through the pages & ripped out bits & bobs that took my attention.

Funny headlines & quotes as well as pictures (often owls) & interesting photos.
I keep them categorized into brimming folders & boxes which I bring out whenever I find a collaging moment.

Aka A LOT

Making people mix tapes with collaged covers is a particular favourite. Despite the fact that CD’s seem to be so two-thousand-and-late I still do this & have a CD player in my living room.

I’ve been collaging books which I use as a diary for the last few years. The diary is my life line for keeping on top of a busy life, so having it colourful & lovely is most important to me.
As it is always with me, there is no surprise that it is full of drawings of nudes. Here a few pages from my recent diary and you can see more here from the last.

You can also have a bit of a insight into what I get up to in life, oh isn’t THAT a treat.

Front & Back covers

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Memories of: a charity drawing & dinner party & drawing Vanessa…

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Memories of: Sofar Sounds at the Bits & Bobs studio & Glastonbury…

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Memories of: A week in Italy with 20 of my best friends & Vanessa’s beautiful gestures…

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Memories of: A brilliant weekend in Devon for my friend’s birthday…

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Memories of: Bits & Bobs at Myrtle’s in Clapham & Easter Sunday…

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Memories of: a week of classes & a charity fundraiser in Emmanuel’s flat in a Church…

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Memories of: A Contact Collective clothes swap party at Shoreditch House & yoga retreat…

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Memories of: In the Heights musical & drawing Laura in her bedroom in Brighton…

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Memories of: Christmas parties…

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Memories of: Bella’s Bits & Bobs launch party & drawing Sophie…

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Memories of: Swimming at Marshall St. Leisure Centre & yoga with Steffy White…

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Bits + Bobs + Pearl & Groove

I grew up in Notting Hill, just 5 minutes from Portobello Market.

Portobello is one of London’s (and the world’s) most famous & iconic markets and is buzzing with food stalls, restaurants, vintage stalls, antiques and much more.

When I lived with my parents I popped on my roller blades every Saturday morning & cruised down the (Notting) Hill to the market. I loved the energy & buzz of it.

IMG_0408As well as all the vintage & bric a brac stalls, my favourites have always been:

The sweet stall (perfect for flying saucers, jelly babies, chocolate covered nuts & bags of dried fruit, all at £1)

Temptation Alley (it’s a stall & a shop here) for all the best arts & crafts bits & bobs

The Flowered Corner, a glorious colourful flower stall

All all the fruit and veg!

I was very excited to hear of a new Portobello Road bakery & just had to try it out.

Pearl & Groove Bakery is near Golbourne Rd & Ladbroke Grove Tube: 341 Portobello Road, W10 5SA

Unsurprisingly I was an immediate convert to their delicious array of beautiful little loaf cakes. Plus, they are gluten free & some sugar free AND totally photogenic.

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Within weeks of falling in love with Pearl and Groove we had set up a Bits & Bobs class there, adding to their fun event schedule. The evening is £20 and includes cake, prosecco and drawing. DREAM COMBINATION (in our humble opinion)IMG_1887IMG_2609IMG_4090Two final key points if you’re not already sold:

  1. You will draw under David Bowie.
  2. The bathroom wallpaper is ideal.IMG_4086

IMG_3546Upcoming classes at Pearl & Groove:

Tuesday 26th July

Wednesday 10th August

Wednesday 24th August

Email me or Meg to book:

Bella@bellafranks.com //  Meg@pearlandgroove.co.uk

Bits + Bobs + Brainchild Festival

I am one of those people who just loves a bit of mud.

So yes, I loved Glastonbury, despite getting stuck in the treacle like mud too many times to count. However, sometimes a festival without the likelihood of turning a permanent shade of brown can be very appealing.

And so, when I was asked to run Bella’s Bits & Bobs at Brainchild Festival for the third time running, I was simply delighted.

Brainchild is a glorious three-day intimate festival in East Sussex which was literally the brainchild of some good friends of mine. It brings together young creative minds for a weekend of inspiration and a jolly good boogie. IMG_5060 IMG_5154IMG_2182IMG_5198My class was running on Sunday morning which meant I could enjoy the colours and thrills of the festival on Saturday which was just magic.

My super cool sidekick Mary Martin had travelled over from Brighton to life model for the class & Caitlin was my very glamorous assistant.

I baked tasty oatmeal & raisin cookies to sell during the class – there’s always got to be some bits & bobs to get the creative juices running, right?

We also had Coconut Collaborative chocolate pots. Ideal.

IMG_2135We anticipated 20 festival goers would come, so in a relaxed manner we set up drawing boards with paper and put all the Derwent drawing materials on display..

Then suddenly BOOM people started arriving..one, two, twenty, thirty, forty….sixty…..apparently at one point there were EIGHTY PEOPLE in the tent.

IMG_2111 IMG_2117 IMG_2120 IMG_2139 IMG_5131It was certainly the most busy session I have ever run but it was just BRILLIANT. There was so much talent & everyone was very engaged & focused.

I whacked on my current favourite album: Chaleur Humaine by Christine and the Queens and had a proper life drawing (chilled, seated..) party.

I saw them at Glastonbury – totally mind blowing set. Check them out if you’re not already obsessed!

I raised over £30 from selling biscuits which will go to Contact a Family, for families with disabled children.

ALL IN ALL A PRETTY WONDERFUL MUD FREE WEEKEND.

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Bits + Bobs + Comfy Sofas

It is a known fact now that I am a complete & utter life drawing addict. I happily take my bits & bobs (drawing boards, materials & glorious nude models) anywhere & everywhere that will have me.

It is a lesser known fact that for me, even a garden shed would do.

So just IMAGINE my delight in the fact that my classes are being taken in by some really spectacular venues – that don’t present any concern of woodlice wiggling onto artists drawing boards..

One such place that has kindly welcomed in Bella’s Bits & Bobs is the members club Shoreditch House for people in the creative industries. My class pops up in the spacious but cosy Library with it’s stylish interiors & so-comfortable-I’m-never-getting-up armchairs.

I have popped a few photos from the class here mentioning the super cool art materials I’ve been using for my class & the yummy ‘bits & bobs’ we snacked on during drawing. I will write a proper post on all the Derwent materials I have been using so if you’d like some tips on that keep an eye on my blog!

If you’re a member of Soho/Shoreditch House you can come to the series of classes over the next few months so keep an eye on House Seven or email me for dates.

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IMG_9274 IMG_9334 I have been using Derwent drawing materials for as long as I can remember & was thrilled to offer the class a nice range of materials for them to explore and let their creativity run free..

I usually recommend beginners use willow charcoal (it’s soft, forgiving & messy – just what it takes to be an artist!) but also suggest pencils for those keen on the finer details.

The Tinted Charcoal set are a lovely material to use for a longer pose – building up texture and colour .. IMG_1240 IMG_1242 IMG_1346 IMG_1275

My favourite kind of creative ‘mess’!!IMG_1296 IMG_1299

The first of my series of classes at Shoreditch House was kindly sponsored by the DELICIOUS brand Coconut Collaborative yoghurt pots. Oh my, they are quite frankly the best things ever AND their logo has two little naked people!

Honestly, if that’s not a bits & bobs match made in heaven, I don’t know what is..

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The class began at 11am on a Saturday so the babes behind Nomi cold-brew coffee understood the need for our guests to have a little pick me up..IMG_1311

And finally, for the artists in the room who were in need of a seriously yummy sweet HEALTHY fix – we had gorgeous chocolate truffles by Raw Bon Bon… Now it’s that’s not a perfect combination of bits & bobs & boobs, I don’t know what is!!

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Bits + Bobs + Bella’s Story

I have been having quite a marvellous time taking my bits & bobs here, there & everywhere.

But where, my friends, did this all begin?

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Well…

My love of life drawing was instilled at a time of my life when I suffered with anxiety. It wasn’t outwardly obvious, but internally I was a little stress-pot.

Drawing is such a therapeutic activity for me & my recovery from the stress came through evening life drawing classes.

I found it hard to motivate myself to draw at home, always finding a distraction or seeing my self-critical voice overcome me. So I found the discipline of going to classes perfect. I would go on my own, plug into a relaxing CD & draw. Often feeling stressed at the beginning of the session, the drawing would consume me & my feelings were softly relived.

It was this that made me determined to share it with as many people as possible – whether they are stress-pots or not! So I started a Sunday class at my parents house in Notting Hill. I enticed my friends with the promise of homemade cakes, paracetamol (if they were nursing Saturday hangovers) & lots of tea. Oh, and a beautiful model, of course!

We shared food & drinks & a wonderful community began.

This living room class ran religiously & was attended by countless friends & their friends .. until they started to ask me to run classes in their own living rooms. Thus, Bella’s Bits & Bobs began.

Of course, personal therapy certainly isn’t the main reason for life drawing! Indeed, it is quite frankly the best way to learn to draw from observation. 

” Every time a model makes a move, there’s something to learn & work on. Shadows & skin texture, the way the limbs move, extend. Every pose or position, reveals a whole new composition, and another focus for a drawing. A great range of movement is possible, right in front of you, which combined with the anatomical & structural complexity of the body, make particular demands on us when we draw .. ”

Extract from Why all artists should have naked ambition

So please, rare up your naked ambition and join me!

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Bits + Bobs + Birthday

Birthdays are all about birthday cake, right?

It’s not like we want to remember the pain our mothers went through or dwell on the fact that our teenage years have far become a distant memory .. and so focusing on something sweet & completely in our ‘birthday’ rights to consume easily takes precedence.

I would also suggest that birthdays are about birthday cakes being made for us, however this year I decided that no one else could create what I was dreaming about for my birthday.

And so, I made it myself : The Ultimate Chocolate Owl Cake called ‘B’

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It was quite frankly stunning.

And delicious, of course.

Check out my little Instagram photo of the construction process: Video The sound track of Sufjan Steven’s ‘Carrie & Lowell’ album – one of my all time favourites. If you haven’t heard it yet – pop on an apron, melt some chocolate & bake to some magical music..

And now it’s time for another Bella’s Bits & Bobs life drawing video blog! Who’s surprised to hear that my birthday party involved a beautiful nude?!

My wonderful friend Lauren modelled for us. We all absolutely loved drawing her and she joined us for the birthday meal & cake after. What a dream.

Another of my incredible chums – the talented chef Alicia Radage – whipped us up a gorgeous feast. She chopped, tossed, grated in the kitchen as we drew .. It was such a treat and every last morsel was consumed.

I am so excited that Alicia has joined my little Bits & Bobs team & is available to whip up wonderful dinners and my events so if anyone is keen for a life drawing & dinner party, please email me: bella@bellafranks.com

Over and OWL-t as they say.

(Ok, no one else says that)

 

 

Fine Liner Life Drawing

All I want for Christmas are black Muji 0.38mm fine-liners.

Yes I am a woman of specific yet simple tastes. But of course, this is why:

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When I run a life drawing class, I begin by explaining a little about why we are sitting in a room – pencils poised – paper at the ready – fully clothed – while a robed figure waits tentatively to bare all in front of a group of strangers.

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Devon : Fireworks + Sea Swims

There’s nothing more lovely than a weekend jaunt to the countryside.

London is brimming with activities which I find both brilliant and at times a little overwhelming and so for me, escaping the City maintains a stable balance.

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A very good chum of mine recently moved from London back to his roots in Devon & so I jumped at the chance – and indeed jumped in the car for a 5 hour drive – to visit him on the weekend.

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