Megan Dowsett is a creative consultant working in museums, galleries and the arts, an illustrator who is finding her voice through personal and local projects, and a parent to two young beings who can't help but influence her creative journey.

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.

10 December 2016

Decorated Clothes Pegs

DSC_0464With family in Canada, we needed to get going with Christmas presents early. I think Feets had no idea why we were making Christmas presents for Gran, Gramps and the rest of the family, but she enjoyed it nevertheless! With a bundle of clothes pegs hanging around, I thought they might be the perfect thing to paint as something useful and utterly unique to Feets, that she could be fully involved with. Using acrylic paints so they will stay dry with wet clothes, we first painted them in pastel colours. DSC_0465A day later, we painted one side with dots using cotton ear buds, and the other side with stripes, masked off with masking tape (this side a bit less successful, since I over-watered the paints, ah well).

Of course, I forgot that the highlight of the whole process would be wrapping them afterwards - some lucky people got several layers of wrapping!

1 December 2016

Hub Caps in my Shop!

DSC_0689Some time ago I mentioned that I'd taken to collecting hub cap patterns ... and obscure but highly addictive fascination, I promise! Well, the next phase has emerged. I created a drawing inspired by mandalas, taken from all the patterns I'd collected, and included it in my calendar. Now, I have added some paper bunting to my shop collection, which I hope adds an air of beauty and sophistication to any room, whether coloured or in black and white.

26 November 2016

Painting Bean's Bump

DSC_0634 In case you wondered, I'm expecting another baby and may disappear into 'Mum Bubble' any minute. In the meantime, we revived our tradition of painting the bump - Feets got the world, Bean gets the Universe!  Thanks, or course, to Mr Liam during a glorious, relaxing and inspiring weekend on Houseboat Dodge!

16 November 2016

Dorset Buttons

IMG_7892 IMAG0367This summer I finally learnt the mysteries of Dorset Buttons, through a workshop at Larmer Tree festival. I was quickly hooked - it's such a small, satsifying thing to do, and the entire thing fits in my purse to get out at suitable moments on tube, bus or pub. I started out with the green one, followed up with a big one (below) for my sister-in-law's 'sun, sea and sand' wedding, which allowed space to experiment with beads and variations, and finished up teaching my colleagues and, between us, making six of them to go round vases at a colleague's wedding last month. Now the obsession is over, but I'd like to make more ... IMG_7878

22 October 2016

Calendar on Folksy

DSC_0452 A project for some time, I've been working on a Calendar of Days for 2017, that I believe can be enjoyed as a colouring project or with no colouring at all! It celebrates the launch of my new shop on folksy, which I hope to fill gradually with all sorts of illustrated goodies. Watch this space, take a visit, and please spread the word! Thanks very much. July

16 October 2016

Conker Fun

IMAG0314 IMAG0313 Conkers! I've been looking forward to conker collecting season all year! What I forgot was that last time we collected things in the park, we brought them home to paint, so that was the assumption this time too. So we took out our collection of milk bottle tops, glued the conkers into them, added cocktail sticks and leaves for sails, and made a kind of 'boat'. All so simple! Of course, there was the unexpected too - I was introduced to the idea of painting Feets' sleeves (we decided it was the 'river' for the boats), which we had cut off for the occasion, and inevitably, Feets finished up with painting her entire exposed body...

3 October 2016

Paper Cutting and Toilet Roll Tubes

I picked up a book of contemporary Paper Cutting at the library, casually displayed to entice me into a quick loan.  It's beautiful, inspiring, unearthly, and huge in the variety of styles of this simple artform represented by different artists.
Perhaps the most resonant for me was Yuken Teruya, as he reminded me of my eternal love of toilet roll tubes (they remain heaped up on various shelves around the house and bathroom, as I can't quite bring myself to throw them away.  A man after my own heart, he creates nature inspired sculptures, trees in particular, from throw away materials, particularly paper.  This is Corner Forest, the toilet roll tube masterpiece that caught my attention.

27 September 2016

Charlie's Rocket

20160902_084206 Feets' relentlessly favourite books are Charlie and Lola, a series originally by Lauren Child, corrupted for TV and back into books. On impulse, I bribed Feets home from the playground by suggesting we make Charlie's rocket from 'Whoops but it wasn't me'. As we discussed what to make it with I realised that of course, Feets has no idea what junk modelling is, and is yet to see the potential in a toilet roll tube until she's shown it. So, 'together' we built a rocket, very quickly (I reccommend it - surprisingly lacking in problems!) and with remarkably little mess. Feets decorated it with foil, coloured tape and bubble wrap, while simultaneously making a 'superstructure' from an egg box. DSC_0321 What I hadn't realised was the automatic assumption that the rocket would be used to tell and re-tell the story. No sooner had we finished than I was demanded to make Lola, Charlie and Ellie the elephant, and these cardboard puppets were used by Mr Liam and Feets for play for the rest of the evening. DSC_0330

23 September 2016

Georgia O'Keeffe at the Tate

I joined some friends for the Georgia O'Keeffe exhibition at Tate Modern.  It's interesting to see a life retrospective an artist that you don't know a lot about, while having clear fixed images of their work in your mind, because invariably you are surprised to discover a whole host of work, themes and styles that you hadn't expected, as well as the opportunity to see how someone grows and changes.

In many ways I tended to find that she drew from her immediate surroundings far more than I'd expected, and in the same way that I can imagine doing if I lived in the heart of nature.  So I was most drawn to her landscapes, and to the way she simply responded by trying to capture the light, and towards the end of the exhibition, by the blend of realism and abstraction that found it's way into her work - I often find myself drawn to the abstraction that nature provides, rather than the pure abstraction from an artist's mind.

These are a few of my sketchbook notes ...
I always think of the colours when I think of Georgia O'Keeffe, but actually the composition is stunning - this one especially (Nature's Forms - Gaspe, 1932), and the lines, and the rolling hills.  All like what I've been drawing / thinking about lately.
She's interested in the same things as me - in capturing the light and contrast and colour, and the way mountains, dunes and desert can look so abstract, you don't need to do more to it (Black Place No IV). I get cross when things are just abstract and called 'abstraction', but I love it when things are abstract and the title shows you where it came from.  Like her plane series (Sky Above Clouds IV).  Again, with the Pelvis Bones, I feel like she did something I would do!

19 September 2016

Hub Cap Art

Hub Cap ArtI think it's my love of patterns, but I can't help it - despite my tendency towards 'natural beauty', I find myself fascinated with the seemingly infinite variety of designs in the hub caps on cars. I've had it in mind for a long time to 'collect' the patterns, and have finally gathered a few together in recent weeks. Next steps ... well, I have all sorts of thoughts for how I can use my collection!

12 September 2016

Sensory Play or Temporary Art?!

DSC_0318 DSC_0325I finally gave in and sacrificed my precious, colour-organised button collection to the great cause of toddler creativity. It turned into a joyful, many-levelled exploration, including sorting (I can't yet persuade her to sort according to colour, or really to make careful lines or pictures with them); filling a circle with them, and pouring them over her feet to leave foot prints. I do relish the improving concentration and motor skills of my two year old! DSC_0328

5 September 2016

Wax Resist

FloralI've tended to use oil pastels when looking for a 'resist' for watercolour art - I've always felt the boldness and density of the colours are more effective than wax crayon. But a very quick, spontaneous session with Feets (our first moment together, when we each made our own art!) when we were on holiday showed me that actually, wax crayon works much better. Crayon works consistently, while I find oil pastel a bit erratic - some colours 'resist' better than others.

29 August 2016

Nature Painting

IMAG0212 IMAG0222There have been moments when I've watched summer slipping away too fast, and with it the opportunity to make the most of our back yard space, where we're free from the anxieties of covering a rented house in paint stains. So finally, finally, Feets and I invited some friends over. In the morning we went to the park and collected seed pods, leaves, conkers, stones, feathers and the rest (okay, I collected most of these). Then we set up the garden for a painting frenzy and set to work with our collection. IMAG0226 IMAG0229 Feets still prefers to paint herself above all other things but nevertheless, they all managed to cover some leaves and most of the floor in paint, and tried painting with feathers, rolling painted conkers around, and printing with leaves. We planted our painted sticks in the garden, and a few days later, Feets threaded the leaves onto wire for us to hang from a tree.

Painted paradise!

11 August 2016

Gift from Gramzle

IMAG0055 Gramzle (my dear Mum) spotted Feets' love for buttons, clasps, zips, and basically anything designed to keep her out.

So she made her a lovely set of pockets, each one closed by a different kind of clasp and each one hiding a different secret treasure.

We love it!  Thanks Gramzle!

4 August 2016

Anniversary Tablecloth

IMAG0094Our forth wedding anniversary. We seem to have been following a traditional American materials theme, and so this year was silk. I discovered the silk scraps in my collection led to rather an enticing colour scheme! We'd actually agreed an amnesty (lets have a year off gifts, we're too busy), and then both back-tracked on it. So this had to be made in two hours max. An anniversary tablecloth of silk scraps.

28 July 2016

Around and About at Larmer Tree

IMAG0162 The recent Larmer Tree Festival was everything I dreamed of for the particular combination of Feets, Mr Liam and me ...

... small yet full of variety, intrigue and creativity, utterly welcoming to children of all ages, and overflowing with music, arty moments and people in crazy costumes.

These are just a few visual bits and bobs from around the site.
IMAG0109 IMAG0107

21 July 2016

Larmer Tree Festival

We finally found a festival to suit the varied tastes of my family.  In festivals past, I've always focussed on the music, and I was determined this time to see not only music, but everything else on offer to stimulate our creative taste buds!  We managed drumming for littluns, storytelling for adults, round-the-table Ping Pong, a comedy / spoken word slam, a lot of food, shopping, music (or course!) and ... I crept away for some visual arts just for adults ...
IMAG0154 I joined a team making junk / rag peacocks to form the congregation of a 'wedding', with a llama marrying off a bride and groom peacock on the wedding lawn, sculptures developed by Anna Roebuck.
And, on borrowed time as Feets napped, I made a flower for the hedgerows, using plastic bottles, a tea-light and some spray paint. Not my usual colours! Thanks to Rehash Panache for the workshop.

Finally, I spent a glorious twenty minutes learning how to make Dorset Buttons, something supremely, traditionally crafty that has long caught my attention.  Photos to follow in a future post!

10 July 2016

National Gallery Art Night

IMAG0014 I joined a number of friends and colleagues at the National Gallery Art Night on Saturday. I'm afraid I had no idea Art Night was a thing! I was tempted in by a group of young freelancers, part of a project started at LTM, who organised the event at the National Gallery.

The night was inspired by the highly accessible George Shaw residency exhibition, which focuses on how the 'romance' of many Titian, Poussin and other historical paintings which are set in beaucolic woodland scenes, could actually be seen a bit more sordidly and less romantically, especially when moved into the equivalent contemporary world! I found the exhibition humorous and familiar, and the young freelancers had done a marvelous job in creating a similarly fun and humorous event which had really clearly grown from the exhibition itself. IMAG0017 IMAG0018 As they drifted quietly around the darkened galleries, ladies dressed as trees whispered to you, inviting you to share your secrets by writing them on leaves. Little did you realise that your secrets might be shared back later in improvisation by the hilarious and brilliant punk choir, Gaggle, who had me mesmerised as they moved from room to room to share their music.

Finally, we were invited to make dens, or the secret places we hung out as teenagers, on the balcony overlooking Trafalgar Square. I didn't quite get to making, but I instantly thought of the bus stop at the end of the road ... I had a fabulous time - it was just what I'd hoped for!

3 July 2016

The Imagination Tree

IMG_7873Parents among us probably never feel 'good enough' - and certainly this inspiring website is simultaneously a daunting model of parenthood to live up to! But at the same time I find it full of really simple ideas that require little resource or preparation, that can turn a really ordinary day with Feets into a revolutionary and inspiring one! Today's activity - using a spoon to transfer tiny pompoms into ice cube trays. Worthy of Feets' highest (and rare) praise - 'I excited'. The Imagination Tree centres around this article which articulates everything I believe professionally and personally about working with children - The Central Importance of Play.

19 June 2016

Alphabet Cards

IMG_7876Having a daughter prompted Liam and I into creative collaborations that somehow it had never occurred to us to do before. The latest was Liam's idea - to create alphabet cards for Feets' long journey into literacy.

For this one, Liam was far ahead of me and as he finished and I was steeped in early pregnancy lethargy, and then Feets started IMG_7877 spotting the first letter of her name, I had to find a quick and effective way to complete my half of the bargain.

I worked with oil pastels and watercolours which were roughly as effective as I'd hoped (bold, simple), though the oil does have the tendency to come off on the other cards ...

5 June 2016

The Magic of the Natural History Museum

Birds CoouredOne of the things that gets me most excited at the Natural History Museum is the incredible decoration across every space of the building itself. So I took a brief moment of freedom while Feets was with Liam, to draw the birds from one of the arches ...

29 May 2016

Hooray for Summer Painting!

IMAG1111Oh the joy! When the sun finally came out, Feets and I could finally do what we'd been waiting for all winter ... while she napped, I set up our backyard with our entire stock of cereal boxes (thanks Jenny for this great tip, picked up years ago, on a strong free painting resource), every other recycled object I could find in our house, and a bundle of paint. A few friends, bean bags (foolish), a gin and tonic for the grown ups (shh), and we let them loose.

As I've found every other time we've got messy and bare skin has been available, Feets' main interest was in painting herself.  (We'll keep quiet about the fact that the Mothercare paint for 18 months plus is very high in stain factor!)  We had a LOT of fun.

IMAG1120And the fun didn't finish with painting - we continued into the clean up with a bucket of water and range of clothes that was eventually poured all over our creative masterpiece.

Thank heavens for good weather.  It's a different world from settting up at the dining room table, with everything protected by plastic bags and a strict 'clean up' rule, the moment Feets leaves the table!

22 May 2016

15 May 2016

Brockwell Park Community Greenhouses

IMAG1128 IMAG1125Feets and I discovered the hidden treasure of Community Greenhouses in Brockwell Park last week. I can't believe I've spent so much time in the park without really noticing them! Or at least, without realising they run activities that make the greenhouses accessible for non-gardeners like myself and Feets. We took part in a 'mucky magic' workshop to celebrate national compost week. Feets is particularly into painting and pouring at the moment, so she was thrilled to make paint from mud, water, and colourful spices. It gave me lots of food for thought for future painting activities!

19 April 2016

Collapsible Fabric Box

IMAG0781 In an impulsive moment of using up my hoardings, I decided to make a collapsible box ... IMAG0782 And finally I conquered a long-standing obstacle ... button holes ... IMAG0783