Literary winters, cosmic Christmas and reflections on a year

Well hello there and how is December going for you?

Well probably busy like mine has been, especially made that bit more tricky with the latest developments with COVID. As I sit here and write this, I have just closed my Etsy shop ( for new orders before Christmas, which is just as well as I had my booster jab yesterday and I’m feeling a bit groggy today. So hopefully later today, I’ll get to put my feet up and watch one of my favourite children’s adaptations, it’s the 1984 edition of ‘Box of Delights’ as seen on the BBC, currently on BritBox. A brilliant version of the children’s book by John Masefield, with adventure, magic, innocent children and wicked grown ups - oh and some decent ‘Scrobbleing’ - go and look it up if you don’t know. I love both the book and the DVD so much that I’m feeling inspired to make some illustrations for next Christmas - so watch this space in 2022!! They will be ‘Splendiferous’!

Reflecting on this past month I have had the opportunity to visit a couple of winter/Christmas events which have been a total visual feast. Firstly, I went with a good friend to Holkham Hall to see their Christmas display by Candlelight. Various rooms had themes connected to the current owners of the house - including a room themed for dogs (they have 4 and are huge fans), a tropical room including lots of parrots (as the owner owns parrots) and other rooms using simple colour schemes like blue and white or even just white like snow. It was simply stunning and such a wonderful thing to do on a day where it was so cold, you couldn’t be outside for more than a minute!!! I made a mini movie of our trip, which can be seen on my Instagram page @julesrussellillustration.

A few days ago, I made it down to Chawton in Hampshire - also known as Jane Austen country - to visit both Chawton House (where Jane’s brother lived and entertained Jane and her family regularly) and the Jane Austen House Museum to see a ‘Six Winter’s event - a guided tour of the house, with 6 rooms set out as winter scenes taken from either Jane’s life or from her characters lives. It was both fascinating and beautiful, especially by candlelight and I felt very lucky to grab a ticket from just a few that were available for this one off evening. Again, see my Instagram page @julesrussellillustration for the film.

Both events have given me so much inspiration and ideas for products that will keep me busy next year.

In the Studio this month, I’ve had fun with watercolours and gouache to make some varied illustrations for Christmas. I did a Skillshare course at the end of November by @Ohn_Mar_Win, that showed you how to produce simple watercolour sketches that you import into Procreate to add tonal highlights and detail too. I have some knowledge of this before I did the course, but I wanted to brush up on my skills as I need to utilise this great tool more for my work. I was able to transfer the skills to my illustrations and created some baubles that look a little ‘out of this world’. My cosmic balls, as I called them, partly because I was also watching the latest series by Prof Brian Cox called ‘Universe’ on the Beeb, were great fun to paint as I used plenty of Coliro metallic watercolour to make them gleam. You can never have enough metallic on your baubles can you?

I have also spent some time looking at what workshops I might like to run next year including Christmas paper crafts, Wreath making and lino printing - development for these courses will start early next year so keep an eye on my website for further announcements.

Reflections on 2021 . It has been the most roller coaster of a year for me and my family. Firstly and most importantly, we have managed to avoid the nasty COVID for which I am truly grateful. It has been sad to see my son miss out on so much of school and clubs but it has at least made him more appreciative for the things he does have. We started the year coming to the end of a very long and protracted house move. It was beyond stressful. Moving house in a complete Lockdown, with no support is something I never wish to repeat.

But it was worth it - SOOOOO worth it. And although we are just 15 minutes from our last house, we could be miles and miles away. The countryside where we have moved to is stunning and it’s a complete joy to be able to step into acres of fields for long and beautiful dogs walks from our back garden. PLUS - Jules Russell Illustration HQ has moved out from the small bedroom at the last house (where I really couldn’t make any mess at all!!) to a fantastic purpose built studio in a separate building in the garden - which is just mine!!! The possibilities for what I can produce there are endless so it’s just a case of deciding what I want to do and GO FOR IT!

Finally, I just want to thank all of you who have supported me and continue to do so along my creative journey. Having a new Freelance business start during a Pandemic is not easy, but I have had so much support and encouragement, the future really does look bright.

I’m taking a well earnt festive break and will be back in the New Year with my plans and new work. You can follow me on Instagram @julesrussellillustration and facebook: julesrussellillustration to catch up more on my year. To see products please go to my Etsy shop that will open again in the new year (COVID depending)

In the meantime it leaves me just to say have a very Merry Little Christmas and a peaceful New Year. See you in 2022!!! Excelsis!!! - Julie Russell 2021