Megan Dowsett is a creative consultant working with museums and galleries, and an illustrator who is finding her voice through personal and local projects.

Through the name Norris and the Flamingo, she shares the sense of adventure that runs through all of life, wherever we are on our journey. A sense of imagination, of possibility and discovery, for children and adults alike.

21 July 2019

Whose Shoes: The book, the whole book and nothing but the book

Beginning with the front and back covers, here is my recent 'Whose Shoes?' in it's entirety.

01 Front Cover               10 Back Cover 02 yellow pink 03 blue red 04 green 05 white grey 06 black 07 Purple 08 Orange Brown 09 All Shoes

7 July 2019

Van Gogh and Britain

It's something of a rare luxury to visit an exhibition with time to enjoy it at the moment, but having recently seen the film At Eternity's Gate, I was keen to see the Van Gogh and Britain exhibition at Tate Britain.  I enjoyed it, but I admit I was a little confused - almost the first thing I learnt was that Van Gogh hadn't yet become an artist when he was living in Britain.  And something else I couldn't understand was that he didn't seem to have done any drawing or painting at all during that time - even as an amateur, or a hobby, or simply a doodle.  I still find this a bit baffling - in fact, I think he must have done, but the exhibition didn't address this, or what is probably the lack of any work still remaining from this time.  Van Gogh I also struggled a little get particularly excited in most of the rooms, which aroused some curiosity in me - do I no longer have any attention span for exhibitions?  Are the crowds entirely off-putting?  Have I become more demanding now that I don't have opportunity to do this very often?  Or have I become more critical and analytical since I began to explore interpretation in my professional life?

Baffled by my indifference, I finally sat down and looked up a review.  And felt vindicated to find many of the same feelings expressed in the Guardian.

All of this said, surrounded by the work of numerous less-known artists, Van-Gogh's work shone.  It will always be beautiful.  And what caught my attention the most - or perhaps I simply had the courage to confront these less colourful pieces in my sketchbook - were some people studies from his early career as an artist.

30 June 2019

A Whitstable Retreat

I clawed a few days entirely to myself and took myself off to Whitstable to relax.  I had no concrete plans and wanted to stay free from pressure to 'create', but still I took a rucksack full of supplies and a couple of inspirational books, just in case. 20190507_121020 I felt as though I wanted to come home knowing what my next project was, that was all.  In the midst of work and family, I find I need to know what I'm working on to stand any chance of grabbing the spare half hour that appears a couple of evenings each week and letting art win out over TV. IMG-20190507-WA0005 It was blissful.  There was no TV or Wifi in the flat, so I was nudged out of my lazy moments, and I found myself happily pootling with tea staining, collage and book forms.  I returned to my black sketchbook - which I'll share at a later date - and I have settled on my next, slow project ... to make a book of my wedding diaries, which I began long ago and abandoned.

But for now, for this trip, I was every bit as playful as I'd hoped!  

16 June 2019

Easter Decorations

I've never been keen on the abundance of egg decorations at easter, since it seems to me more absorbed by chocolate than the original 'new life' thinking.  But this year, I've been completely converted. 20190419_131901 The simplicity of the egg shape gave us a framework for a day of painterly experimentation, for Feets, Bean and a schoolfriend.  And results which made lovely bunting.  I admit, I wandered around Pinterest looking for things that would pique not only the children's interest, but mine too. 20190419_132203 We tried:
- PVA and salt painting ... MAGICAL!  What a discovery!  The colours faded a little as they dried, but the texture of the painting and magic of watching the colour run through the salt crystals was wonderful.

- Painting doilies with watercolours, and mounting them onto coloured paper.  Also wonderful in being absolutely effective for all three children, even two year old Bean.

- Wax resist.  Again, five-year old Feets and her friend were thrilled to draw 'invisible' lines with a white candle, and reveal them afterwards with paint.  Less successful for Bean, but she was so happy to be painting that she didn't even realise she was missing anything.

Four happy ladies!  

2 June 2019

Dior at the V&A

20190424_105755 It was a spontaneous visit, one in company, and at a fraught time mentally. So I didn't take my sketchbook, nor did I linger, but it was fun to explore the V&A's Dior exhibition in a social capacity - something I rarely do.

As much as the dresses were spectacular, varied, abundant and awe-inspiring, the setting reflected this luxury just as much.  And so, ironically, the strongest memory for me was one mystical room which overflowed with white, paper-cut flowers.  What a gorgeous luxury of exhibition interpretation!  Every room had a very distinct atmosphere, theatrical to say the least.
20190424_105916

19 May 2019

Whose Shoes: The Book

20190523_175118 I have been working on this book for about four years, beginning with Feets and finishing it just in time for Bean to enjoy.  I admit, Bean cracked her colours a month or two before I could show her the finished book, but she has hugely enjoyed having a book featuring our shoes and family, requesting it about three times a day for the first week or so.

I'm pretty happy, all in all.  There are plenty of imperfections, but I was keen to let go of some of the perfectionism that takes hold when something starts to go well.  And I was determined to finish! orange brown My biggest learning curves ... it really is time that I started making a dummy book to test the colours and space before I make the actual thing.  So much of the success of this book is down to luck, and there are a few pages that have just a bit too much space in them. More practically, I've discovered that poster paint tends to peel after a time. It's not designed to be used in enduring hand-made children's books! All Shoes And my next steps ... well, I think it's time to move on from board books - my children are growing up fast.  This is pretty daunting - I'm going to need a lot more than eight pages in my next book!

Before I do so, I plan to make three copies of the book to share with a couple of other special children.

I will share the full story soon.

5 May 2019

Food Colouring and Kitchen Roll

One of those glorious, spontaneous activities that came from nowhere and kept my children occupied for hours ... 20190210_164718 I can't even remember how it came about - I think I wanted to show that the colour from a felt pen would bleed when pressed onto kitchen roll.  It didn't work as the pen had nearly dried out, so I got a tiny amount of water and a teaspoon to demonstrate the same idea.  Then Bean wanted some too.  And then it occurred to me they'd see what was happening better if I added food colouring.

20190216_174102 Eventually I threw my hands in the air and gave them various tubs of coloured water, endless sheets of kitchen roll, refilled the tubs on demand and stopped only when dinner was ready and there was no surface space left for bits of sodden kitchen roll.

At the moment it's not so easy to find activities that occupy both children, so this was a success a thousand times over!  We went on to cut it up, punch holes and turn it into bunting.