Orela Vokes

Category: birds

“Before the Breakdown”

A little while ago I posted that I was up to something exciting. That thing was an EP cover for the Swedish band Sun & The Rain Men, which I made with a mixture of painting and Photoshop. Here it is! (Sun & The Rain Men – Before The Breakdown)

Before the Breakdown - Sun + the Rain Men


Time Flies

I really love this time of year – even though it heralds the end of summer and the descent into the cold, dark months, it’s also the beginning of a new school semester. I’ve been back at uni for two weeks already and my mind is quickly filling up with lovely words and facts and ideas and arguments. The longer nights mean there are lots of excuses for snuggling up and I can already hear my paints and sketchbooks calling, even though it’s still quite faint. Hopefully, there’ll be some time for arty-stuff in-between classes and work (and jam-making and bunny-snuggling and all the other little things that make life good).

Flying Birds

Death Songs (Part Two)

Here’s the finished cover for the Last Box of Sparklers album (which you can listen to here http://lastboxofsparklers.bandcamp.com/album/death-songs-part-two and here Last Box of Sparklers – Death Songs (Part Two)).

Death Songs (Part Two)

Only Sleeping

Today I’m working on an album cover for Last Box of Sparklers, which involves a watercolour painting of a dead bluebird and lots of Photoshop lettering. Drawing dead birds is a pretty miserable activity so I’m trying to believe that they’re only sleeping. Despite the fact that I’m using internet references rather than drawing from ‘life’, my mind is still flooded with memories of all the fragile baby chickens and pigeons and starlings that I’ve met over the years. Only Sleeping

Death Songs (Part One)

Now that it’s released I can share the cover I did for the latest Last Box of Sparklers EP (https://lastboxofsparklers.bandcamp.com/album/death-songs-part-one/ and Last Box of Sparklers – Death Songs (Part One)). I like to use my own experiences in  my art as much as possible and for almost all my bird pictures I’ve spent time watching and photographing birds and then used those photos for reference. Getting to know a bird’s character makes it easier and more enjoyable to create a good portrait. For this cover I’ve painted a vulture and unfortunately I’ve never met one in real life so I had to resort to the internet. Vultures are fascinating creatures with a lot of symbolism surrounding them – a perfect subject. As always, I sketched the bird in pencil first, then drew over the ‘right’ lines with a waterproof pen. Then it was time for watercolours and I especially enjoyed painting the texture of  the vulture’s wrinkly neck. On Photoshop I added a plain dark background and my own lettering and the result is my favourite LBoS cover yet!

Vulture - pen

Vulture - watercolour

Death Songs (Part One)

Number 4

I’m back in snowy Sweden after a great time in England. Our fourth “Parched Artists” exhibition was my favourite yet; there was a lovely festive atmosphere and everyone in the group sold work. I have masses of coursework to finish before Christmas so I think I have to take a little art break, but before I do I have the fourth LBoS EP cover to design!



I’m excited and nervous and still-working-to-get-everything-done for tomorrow’s exhibition. I’ve got a couple of details to add to a few paintings and I still have to frame everything so it’s going to be a very late night for me!

Penguin 1

Penguins in progress

I’ve had a lovely weekend painting, listening to music, and drinking lots of coffee. I didn’t finish the penguin paintings but I started a couple of new pieces and am almost done with another two so I’m not panicking just yet. I’m flying to England on Wednesday and the exhibition isn’t until Saturday so if I need to I can pack a few tubes of paint and finish things there.

4 penguins in progress


“Parched Artists” will be exhibiting at Castle House, Banbury, one week today! We’re there all weekend so there’s plenty of time to treat your eyes. I went to Slottskogen (the big park here in Gothenburg) earlier in the week and had a wonderful time watching the Humboldt penguins. Thankfully, my camera worked and I was able to take lots of reference photos before the cold forced both me and the birds inside. I’ve just finished drawing a few of these beauties and am looking forward to painting them tomorrow.

penguin photo 1

penguin photo 2

penguin photo 3

Do play with your food!

I talk about ‘playing’ a lot and this is a typical example: I boiled some beetroot for dinner last night and, as always, admired the beautiful colour it had turned the water. But I didn’t stop there – I dipped a teaspoon into the pan and began sketching! I’ve used beetroot dye before (https://orelavokes.wordpress.com/2012/08/14/happy-sounds-and-sights) but this time the colour was more intense. I love the idea of using natural dyes but I’m worried that they’ll fade quickly, however these doodles I did on tea-stained post-it notes in 2007 have kept their colour so I think it’s definitely an area to explore.

Beet Deet

Tea Birds

Tea Bear

Tea Monkey-Bat