Monday, 30 September 2013

The end of September

Hello if you've come here from Linda Tieu's Blog Hop  :) And if you haven't you might like to pop over there and click on the links to the other artist blogs!

I've spent the last few days working on speculative ideas for a card company - around commissions for wooden moons from Moobaacluck which are proving very popular! We had a friend here today having her jewellery creations photographed by my husband, I happened to show her a customer's order wrapped up with my new branding stickers (which arrived today from along with my new squirrel enclosures) - and she decided then and there to order one for someone in her family.

Among the work I did over the weekend  was a card based on the floral elements in the textile print in the previous post which I was so pleased with once I'd finished. I'd buy it!  If it doesn't get through to the selection process I shall use these elements to make a design for my own ranges. This isn't the design - just a section of the elements I played with.

I spent a little while sketching stems with a feather dipped in ink and drew with a brush too. Today I felt that I was making some progress in the way I like to work.

I also painted a large acrylic of spring flowers today, partly from reference, partly from imagination. I am not sure how I feel about it but need to take a good photo to send to my client. I think it would make a great greeting card - which is why I did it! but I need to do a whole lot more painting to move my style on. The only way to achieve that is to paint, paint, paint.

I come from a paint what you see background - you're primarily taught at school to represent what you see in a life like way, at least I was; and then at art college I loved life drawing. Realistic paintings are not really the paintings I'm so keen on personally, but I do like representational painting. My painting was a little rooted in my past but I can see good bits, the colour is good and I  learned something about what I like to paint.  I read a bio from one of my favourite painters -  Charlotte Hardy - today too:

"I am drawn to pattern and colour, often from domestic interiors. I am trying to convey the richness of my initial inspiration, simplifying the subject matter to its most important elements. My whole way of working stems from universtity, where I would draw and paint collections of ornamental objects, exploring playful compositions with a strong design element."

When I was at art college I focused on painting people primarily but there was always an underlying love of still life from an early age. Reading what Charlotte wrote was like not exactly like a lightbulb going off - more like finally turning to face a forest of candles burning half way down their wicks.

How do you view your progress in art? Do you think there are areas you've deliberately turned your back on for some reason? Are there images you dream of  or styles of painting you'd like to investigate but push to the bottom of the list?

Thursday, 26 September 2013

My first textile design has arrived!

In early September I sat in my summer house and got my brown ink out to doodle just to see what came out of me without any reference.. all I had in mind were late summer pods and the seedheads that have been appearing in the garden.  My acrylics came out to embellish and colour my drawings and I painted a loose yellow background on canvas and some simple elements.

When I had lots to play with I scanned all these bits and pieces in and made a repeat in Photoshop using the offset tool I'd read about in a book I bought recently called A field Guide to Fabric Design which is just brilliant. I liked it the result so much that I ordered some fabric from the US site Spoonflower the same day and it arrived this morning! It took about 3 weeks to arrive.

The only downside was the cost.. I had to pay £11.33 customs duty for this small amount of fabric, which had already cost me about £20. Naturally I tweeted about this and some lovely Notonthehighstreet partners Lindsey of LittleBirdyDesigns and Hilly of WhichGlassesAreWhich told me that there are in fact UK companies that do this sort of thing and to read the post on the forum about it (will do!) Gretel Parker gave me the name of a new company called Fancy Prints that will print your own designs too.

Sadly much as I am pleased with the fabric from Spoonflower it's not a sensible buying choice, unless I am buying just a swatch - in which case it might scrape in as duty free. I think I will make future designs available to buy from there though - that's not a problem.

Now what shall I make with it? I think as there are just two fat quarters and the fabric I chose is a sort of sturdy linen cotton that a bag might be nice.. what do you think? Although we do need cushions I think it would make a nice tote bag. I might hunt one of my talented sewing friends down to see if they are prepared to make me one :)

Have you ever had your own designs printed as fabric ?

Saturday, 21 September 2013

No more shoulds

Part of the reason for coming back to blogger is because it's where I started. My business seemed to happen to me without me having a plan and this is where I began to blog. I feel I am coming full circle a little wiser now and want to go deeper into what I want and what I need and what I can offer other people.

I don't want to worry about 'shoulds' and trying to seem bigger than I am. Thinking big is right for some people but that very term 'thinking big' perhaps is misleading. Thinking about what makes you happy is the right starting point for everyone: what suits you? Tempered with immediate needs of course and a little pinch of ambition or maybe a lot! The point is we aren't all the same and it's so easy to allow yourself to feel inadequate just because you want something a bit different from other people. Something smaller perhaps, something flexible, or something diverse or yes even something HUGE. Or even a halt. A complete change. It's all fine, it might not be immediate but identifying what you want, really, really want, is key.

It's also very hard to know what you want and feel trapped doing something else to pay the bills. If that's you - you will get out. I've been there and took a job as a product manager, gave myself 2 years and handed in my notice almost exactly 2 years later. I only had a months salary behind me when I left but I went out with my portfolio over London and I got work. I was determined and did well. In all honesty it's easier if you aren't a parent. After several years as a successful illustrator I had a baby, moved to the country and had another shortly after and let things fizzle out a bit - but something new blossomed. At least I've been able to just about manage as a freelancer for many years, but palpably, now there could be so much more.

Personally I'm not single minded and I enjoy working alone, which means I try things. Inevitably it means things take longer - especially with two children. It also means I have a great desire to connect with other people like me and perhaps help those who are at an earlier stage than even I am after all this time. I've had mini careers and I'm constantly evaluating where I am. Over the last couple of years I've seen that phrase 'portfolio' career many times - usually referring to one person doing a few quite unrelated things to earn a living. So why do artists - or is it just me? - berate themselves for not mastering just one discipline? No more. I'm just not going to do that.

I illustrate and I know I haven't done my best work yet. I paint and I know I haven't done my best yet.. really do you ever! I design wooden personalised decorations, this started for fun and thousands of people have bought them from me through the internet; I've been pondering on ways to diversify this area of my business and have a few ideas. Over the past year I've learned more about pattern design, taught myself the basics in Illustrator and learned to be more self reliant emotionally. There's SO much to learn and do. If I can make a better living for me and my family and keep learning all my life and have variety then that's my goal. I can look back and cringe at mistakes I've made but am starting to be kind to myself and live in the now.

I hope you are too.

We have one life (leave aside any reincarnation beliefs here) and it is scary to truly go for what you want; but if you are one of those lucky ones who really KNOWS what that is you have to do it! I'm not quite at the KNOWING stage but I am going to have a damn good messy creative time working it out.

If this raises anything for you please comment below or even if it doesn't - it would be lovely to know you are out there :)

The New Cultivate Art Collective Group

One of the best things about doing the Lilla Rogers course was meeting other students virtually. Many of us have continued to post to the private facebook page supporting each other's projects. Along with several people taking the MATs course I've joined a new collective devised and set up by fellow student, artist and teacher Rachelle Panagarry.

A recent painting purely from imagination as part of the Mati Rose Daring adventures in Paint & Life e course.
This is my page so far. There's much more to work on and upload but it is better to have a presence than wait until everything is perfect.

There will be opportunities to join in group shows like Surtex in New York which is a fabulous idea. I'd like to take part in this in Spring 2015 but there will definitely be a group of us attending in May 2014.

I've also joined the Moyo Directory too and would love some love :) Please click through there and if you like my work press the little heart. Thanks so much.

There is some wonderful work on both these sites and they will both be growing hugely in the next few months.

Have a look - I am sure you will be inspired!

Monday, 2 September 2013

I'll be back soon

I am feeling as though I want to come back to Blogger. So I think I will. Bare with me while I overhaul the look of this page!

Somehow after a year or so on Wordpress - although it's been great for 'meeting' new non blogger bloggers I do miss it over here and find that overall Blogger is easier to use and has more features included in the free package - such as the 'you may also like" button.

Plus I do love a makeover and am feeling much more confident to just be me.  I don't have the funds to pay a web designer to sort my web life out but have to be honest - I love doing what I can myself! It's all part of creative learning. Getting to grips with plug-ins and coding really isn't in me though. I am having far too much fun painting, designing, being a parent and gardening. Probably in that order!! HAA ha - sorry children. But it is the end of the summer holidays almost and we creatives like to get on. You know I love you to bits.

I read a quote today:

“Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.”

Anne Lamott