Tuesday, 23 March 2010

500 post blog giveaway

I'm having a little blog-holiday until the beginning of April, and as I'm nearly at 500 blog posts I thought I would have a blog giveaway to celebrate. I've come a long way since I started blogging nearly three years ago and have made lots of friends, both those I have met and those I haven't. I really appreciate this online community of like-minded individuals and have gained so much from your comments and advice.

So the deal is: you can chose any print from my Folksy Shop and if you want to enter the draw please leave a comment telling me which print you would like (and also you can follow me too if you would like to or mention my blog giveaway on your blog too, that would be vey nice indeed)

Closing date for comments will be on Monday 5th April 12 noon GMT so you have until then if you want to enter. Good luck and thanks so much for reading my blog.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

sunday folksy find - mollymoo

I've been doing a little bit of looking around on folksy and i found a new shop today which I haven't seen before and just had to share it with you (and it's also a refreshing change to talk about someone else's work and not mine!!) Its MollyMoo, and features a superb range of delightful greetings cards, all hand-illustrated, quirky, yet simple designs, which I just love. Have a look in the shop if you like them it's here. You can also get them with personalised messages if you want... def worth a visit.
Hope you have all had a good weekend. It's been a lovely warm day and we planted our seed potatoes, a sure sign that spring is in the air. It's been lovely to feel the sunshine again, without a wind chill factor. I just hope it continues as i'll be away in my caravan soon!! I've had a few days off studio work, haven't even really thought about it much, it's been nice to just do other things.

Friday, 19 March 2010

rambling on... and on...

oooh, and i'm just still not sure whether i like them.... there seems to be something not quite right... is it just me or when you feel a bit out of sorts or just a bit tired/grumpy/hormonal does this impact on everything you do/think/feel???
is it the sky?? is is just not strong enough, are the trees too bold, or do i just need some better photos? Maybe i just need to experiment more, and not just think that the first things i create should be good enough.. maybe i just need to go back to basics and think and draw.. or maybe i just need to help my husband prepare for the post-christmas-christmas meal for six we are cooking tonight (turkey and all!!). Maybe today i will just draw daffodils instead...
blimey, have just re-read this post, i bet you all think i'm a crazy, paranoid headcase, I'm not, honest... no really (or doth she protesteth a bit too mucheth!!) ah well, it's the weekend, let's just drink wine and enjoy!!

Thursday, 18 March 2010


all done experimenting with the colour and the birds, this is the final result of my first finished picture... hmm, i think it will take me a while to decide whether or not to pursue this idea, i'm not sure i like it!! i really like the way the trees have turned out, but i'm not sure about the whole thing really, i think it looks a bit flat and boring (or is that just the mood i'm in today??).
i think i just need a break from it now so i'm going to go and read some of my new books i got the other day and try to decide what to do tomorrow. I'm contemplating having a day off 'studio-work' and doing some cooking, walking and maybe will do some general sketchbook stuff (yes, it's still ongoing, i'm filling up the pages nicely but haven't spent as much time on this as i would have liked lately, so maybe i will attempt my first bunch of daffodils!!). I'm feeling a little bit lack-lustre today, not sure why.... i keep pondering my lack of sales on folksy and wondering why?? if i come up with any answers i'll be sure to tell you!!

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

another work in progress

i just wanted to share with you some of my work in progress, my attempt at introducing more colour and another dimension to my 'bird' series'. I was bought a load of watercolour pads for Christmas by my sister and I have been trying them all out to see how the paint and paper work together, some watercolour paper really warps when it gets wet (does anyone know how to avoid this??)

I've had a really busy week this week at my day job, and am so glad it's now time for my sooziebee work, time to create. I'm off to see a new contact tomorrow at her studio and take some work over for her gallery. I'm very excited, and I'll post you some pictures when I return.
Hope you are all having a good week too...

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

love cupcakes - new print

love cupcakes is a new print which will soon be available in my folksy shop for all you 'cupcake-lovers' out there. watch this space and it'll be available soon.

i'm off to drop some work into a new gallery later this week so will be posting about that too.

also some new work will be gracing your pc monitors soon too, lots to show, but not tonight. i'm off for a bath and bed as i've had a very busy day!!

Monday, 15 March 2010

and the winner is.....

birgitta from birgittadesignz, so well done birgitta, and thankyou everyone for entering and spreading the 'give and forget, receive and remember' philosophy. I will be having another giveaway very soon, one of my prints, as I will have reached 500 posts (i know, can you believe I have been blathering on for 500 posts!!!)

Sunday, 14 March 2010

more colour

i thought i was done with the birds but it seems i'm not, here is the start of a new collection, similar to my last but different due to the colour aspect.

It's Mothers Day here in the UK, something i probably won't ever be celebrating as a mother, but luckily for me i have a lovely one to celebrate it with. My parents have been to stay for the weekend, the boys insulated the loft (and remodelled my bathroom ceiling, which i won't dwell on much, but i'm not liking the big hole!!) and the girls went to town, visited Nottingham Contemporary Gallery (hmm, not really sure how I would describe that experience, each to their own, it was very 'contemporary', but not really my cuppa tea!!) and had lunch and bought perfume!! Today was lovely, a nice walk with the dog and a huge Sunday roast. I'm just settling down now with my sketchbook and pens, and doing a bit of work on 'the birds in colour!!' Perfick!!

Friday, 12 March 2010

cooking on gas

my goodness, if i didn't know any better i'd say someone has slipped something into my morning cuppa tea!! I was up with the larks this morning and out walking my dog at 7am (what?? this is not usual behaviour for me i promise!!). Once that was done, washing in the washer, breakfast eaten I went up to the studio and have been having a very productive morning, thanks to my new to-do list...
One of my tasks was to try and introduce some colour into my illustrated bird range. I have been meaning to do this for a while, to try and develop the range and bring something new to it. The answer.... my birthday watercolour set, a beautiful wooden box full to the brim with gorgeous tubes of paint in all my favourite colours (courtesy of my darling husband). SO ideas are pouring forth onto my new watercolour pages (courtesy of my lovely sister) and I'm really feeling like I am getting somewhere. These two pictures above are my first attempt, you get the general idea, i think I need to go experiment some more...
OOH, i also got three new books thru the post today from Amazon, another Danny Gregory nd two textile books, will share more next week...

Thursday, 11 March 2010

love teapots - new colours

as a special request from a friend of mine i have designed a new version of my 'love teapots' print so it is now available in pinks and reds. I hope you like it.

Fantastic reponse to my blog-giveaway so far, please feel free to leave a comment on the post below if you fancy the chance to win a print of 'tea for four' in browns or greens

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

give and forget, receive and remember

another interesting and useful little gem that i wanted to share with you... give and forget (give something to someone for free and forget all about it)... receive and remember (when someone receives something from you in this way they will remember you)... it's another waay to promote yourself and your work in a lovely way.

i like this theory which is why i'm having a little giveaway myself. Please leave a comment to win one of my 'tea for four' prints, and just let me know which colour you would prefer...
Forgot to add a closing date: hmmm, let's see, how about Friday 19th March at noon GMT....

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

stuff out of my window, whitby

this was a quick sketch done on saturday over a glass of wine and a chat with one of my old college friends as she was cooking dinner, just an idle sketch or two of a beautiful church which was just outside the window of The Old Theatre holiday cottage we hired for the weekend. Not ground-breaking or anything but just nice and relaxed and part of what i want my sketchbook journal to be.
no business tips today, it's tuesday and i don't have a lot of time today. I can't believe that this year is passing so quickly. I'm feeling that old 'busy-ness' creeping up on me again (busy with nice things, don't get me wrong) but it still leaves me feeling that sometimes I don't want to be rushing round, constantly on the go. I just want to be still and quiet and alone in my studio or walking the dog or reading a book, and not feeling like i'm careering head-long into the next entry in my diary!! But like one of my very good friends says 'would I rather have an empty diary, with nothing to do all of the time, no friends to see, no places to go, no family to share my time with' and the answer to that is 'no, of course not'. I'm very lucky to have the life I have and the people around me to share it with, i just wish sometimes there were maybe a few more hours in the day or a few more days in the weekend to enjoy 'just being'...

Monday, 8 March 2010

talk is cheap

a strange title for a post but i'll come to that in a min!! Here is my latest 5 min sketch i did the other day when i was in the studio and before I started doing my work, call it a quick warm up if you like, stretching and flexing my creative muscles!! I'm still sticking with the sketchbook journal and have ordered another Danny Gregory book too, which should be with me by the end of the week. I can't wait to get it!!

As for post title, it was just another little gem of information i picked up the other night at the seminar I went to - 50 cheap or free things you can do to promote your business. Talk is cheap was the title of the heading, 'talking to your customers'.

I know it sounds like common sense but how many of us have been to a craft fair/market and you wander round and stallholders sit behind their stalls and avoid any eye contact?? This was one of the points made by the speaker and she commented on how this came across to a potential buyer (ignorance, rudeness, snootiness etc). I must admit, I probably did this at the first fair I ever did, partly from being shy and nervous (yes, me I know, but I was, honest!!) and partly from not wanting to appear over-bearing and pushy. I do still feel uncomfortable talking to others about my work, I'm not sure why, but I know it is something I have to 'get over' to promote myself more and 'sell myself'. Our speaker talked about how we, as artists/designers/makers should try to talk more to customers, whether it be polite chit chat, talking about the weather, your latest product, anything to get the conversation off the ground. After all, talk isn't only cheap it's free and it provides a portal into which your potential customers can find out more about you and your work. If people like you they are more likely to like your work!!

This talking lark, or chatting up our customers, I do on a day-to-day basis in my job, so why do I find it so hard to carry this over into my creative work??

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Judith Reece Exhibition in Whitby

wow, this is the kind of work I aspire to!!
I have been away in Whitby this weekend and whilst wandering thru the streets and lanes I found a gorgeous cafe, The Art Cafe, on Flowergate. What drew me to go and look inside was the fantastic textiles piece by an artist called Judith Reece which was in the window. On further exploration I found about 15 more of her pieces inside this gorgeous little cafe. If we hadn't had the dog with us I think I would have been tempted to order a hot chocolate and curl up on one of the comfy leather sofas and just sit and take in the sights on offer.
Judith's work is truly amazing, it is mostly landscape based, inspired by nature, hills, moors, rock pools, the sea. I found it really stunning the way she uses her own hand-dyed fabrics, layering them, cutting, stitching and burning them to reveal layers below, creating undulations, waves and skies in a way I can only admire, silvery delicate threads, soft ethereal colours... I could go on!! The end result I can only describe as 'magical' and it has to be seen in the flesh to be fully appreciated. When you find an artist like this whom you really admire I think its' great to spread the word and share your discovery with others.
You can check out her website and have a look for yourself or get a list of where you can find her work for sale.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

more tea vicar?

I'm not too keen on this one, I think it's a bit too sparse, but it was fun to draw. whether i will use or not i don't know but we will see.

following on from yesterday's handy business promotion tips that i picked up from an event i went to the other night here is handy hint number 2 for cheap/free things you can do to promote your business:

Pricing: now this is a trick old subject but it's all linked to knowing your market and isn't an exact science by any stretch of the imagination. It's something I really struggle with at times. You don't want to undervalue your work but when you are starting up and have little or no reputation you can't charge the earth for your product. Know all your costs for materials and time and be able to build in a margin for discount. If you are able to offer this to your customers they are more likely to come back for more if they think they have received 'a bit of special treatment'. Also make sure that your pricing structure is the same across all your areas. Now I'm no expert on pricing but there is lots of help/advice and info out there. I have found the forums on folksy to be helpful with pricing advice but if you pick up any craft business book there is info on pricing structures and how you work them out. Another handy nugget I picked up was to have a good spread or range of prices across your range of work, from higher end 'show-stopper' pieces (in my case, an original illustration) to a more affordable mid-range (eg prints of the original) and then smaller items which you can make more of (eg greetings cards, postcards, smaller versions of prints).

Any tips or comments on how you price your work would be really helpful...

Friday, 5 March 2010

new teapot composition - work in progress

My studio time yesterday was spent on some new work. I think now spring is in the air and I have had a holiday I feel so much more positive about life in general as well as about my work. So here are a few pictures of my newest 'tea-themed' work.
Last night I went to a local event which was put on by The Creative Greenhouse. This is a fab group which I joined a couple of years ago and there are lots of members with a variety of backgrounds but all working in the creative field. It was great to meet new people and get to find out about what's going on in the area, and also to chat to people who have the same questions, concerns and goals as myself. As well as all the chatting, tea and cake, we had a presentation on '50 cheap or free things you can do to promote your business' which was really useful. I'll tell you about some of the tips I picked up over the next few weeks in the hope that my blog will become more useful and informative (and not just a 'what I've been up to in my life' diary).
The first one was a simple one, which a lot of you proabably do already, but one I have been meaning to start but never have had the time... the mailing list!! Apparently if you don't have one you should get one!! I recently got together a list of contacts from my sales over the past few years so my mailing list is now on my 'to-do' list.
How many other people use mailing lists and do you find them useful/leading to sales/positive/negative. Would love to hear your comments on this...

Thursday, 4 March 2010

i like...

my two new framed textile landscapes, i just picked them up today from the framer, and here they are... ready to be sent to the shop and (hopefully) sold!! I think having a piece of artwork framed professionally, although it can be more costly, always makes it look so much nicer than a DIY-job (well this is true in my case anyway!!). So onwards with new work today and a day spent dans la studio, which has been nice.
I'm off to a Creative Greenhouse event tonight about 50 free or cheap things to do to promote your business. I will be blogging about what I have learned later in the week so I can share all of the useful knowledge I pick up, 'cos I'm nice like that you know!! Plus if you take a peek on the Creative Greenhouse website I'm featured right now!! How nice!!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

northumbrian landscapes

Here are some of my pics of the wonderful landscapes of northumberland and the inspiration it has given me for some new work. I love the rolling hills, open spaces, lack of crowds, quaint villages and most of all the friendly people (i know i am slightly biased being a northern girl myself). I think I could actually live there....

Monday, 1 March 2010

Stella's Lucky Spot

Stella McCartney has been commissioned to provide an amazing 3-D sculpture at the English Heritage site at Belsay Castle in Nortumberland. We went to see it last week (an incidentally stopped off at the nearby coffee shop for the nicest Lemon Cake I have ever tasted!!). We walked around the grounds and quarry gardens and then nipped down to one of the towers where Lucky Spot was housed. You can read all about it here. It was well worth the visit but it's only there until the spring so you'll have to hurry if you want to see it...