Friday, 30 December 2011

last post of 2011

So, its the last post of 2011 and what a great year it has been. So it's now time for reflection and time to have a think about things to do for 2012.... and my head is full of ideas... As for this blog, I'm hoping to breathe some life into in and make it more informative and bring in some posts about other artists and designers whose work I like... watch this space...

Reflection-wise, 2011 has been, creatively, a very good year for me. I've spent more time making new work, which has been really well-received. I've expanded my product range into tea towels and also have been exploring ceramics and glass, I've taken part in several exhibitions, continued working with Creative 10 (the group of designer-makers I spent time with on the Nottinghamshire Creative Business course) and also I took part in a ten week Life-Drawing class which has renewed my enthusiasm for sketching. I've spent the last two evenings sketching from some images I've collected and have really enjoyed just taking a bit of time, starting a new sketchbook and just filling the pages, and not caring if they all don't turn out as well as I wanted. I've also been accepted into Design Factory, which I think I have mentioned, which I'm hoping is going to bring lots of new opportunities and the chance to work and collaborate with other designers....

So, it would be great to hear all about your achievements during 2011 and what you hope to achieve in 2012.... please feel free to leave a comment...

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

remember the tea towels?

Well i trust you all have had a lovely Christmas and are feeling all settled and content? I had a great one and we still have more family to see and give presents to over the New Year too, so even though my well-meaning husband took all of our gorgeous decorations down today while I was at the sales with my two nieces, the festive season isn't all over just yet.

I have been busy this afternoon reviving my Folksy shop after a period of hmmm... shall we say 'neglect'? It's been that long since I have been to Folksy that it has had a major facelift and it looking all fresh and new... it might be worth popping over there to have a browse if you ahve some Christmas money to spend... there are some lovely things to treat yourself to (my two tea towels included!!)

Friday, 23 December 2011

last post before Christmas

the last week of life drawing classes, i've defintely improved from week 1!!

Merry Christmas Everyone and I'll be posting again in Jan 2012!!

Monday, 19 December 2011


I'm actually feeling christmassy.... I never feel very christmassy so this is a departure from the norm, I don't know what's changed but I'm liking the lack of 'bah-humbug-ness' I'm feeling. I can't believe how it has crept up on us but it's nearly here and I'm really looking forward to it. We are having Steve's family round for Christmas dinner and just having a really chilled out time at home, it's more about spending quality time with nearest and dearest and just having a nice festive break (and a very scrummy lunch.... HIGHLIGHT OF THE BIG DAY!!)

So I have lots of plans for 2012 and have looked at last years 'wish list' of things I wanted to do... I've been reading over my old blog and also reading this one just to see how I've done (why didn't someone tell me to shut up about my bloody 'to-do' lists?? who cares!!). It's extremely satisfying to have increased my stockists, taken part in not one but 6 exhibitions, and also to have completed a Creative Business course which has made me a lot more focussed and eager to succeed. I have been accepted to join Design Factory, which I was over the moon about, and I'm hoping that this will open a few more doors for me, and help me with business plans etc. and have had the great pleasure to work with some fab creative people over the last year.

One thing I did notice about my blog, is it just reads a bit like a diary of what I'm up to.... not exactly the most interesting read in the world, so next year I have a few plans up my sleeve. I'll be reviving the 'Wednesday feature' on artists and designers I like, sharing some of their gorgeous work, and also will be resurrecting my 'Sketchbook Peeks' series I started for the Nottingham Craft Mafia a while ago. If anyone would like to take part, there are a series of questions to answer, links to provide, which will all be featured in the write-up and also I want some pics of your sketchbooks ('cos I'm nosey like that... and very interested in creative processes etc). So please get in touch, I don't mind which media you work in, as long as you use sketchbooks then you can be considered.... looking forward to that... email me via my website...

So better be off, I've a bit of work to do, and also an early night to have, this is a really busy week at my regular employed job, so I need all my beauty sleep and brain power to get through til Wednesday night...

Friday, 16 December 2011

penultimate life drawing class

how the time flies, it doesn't seem like may weeks ago I was just starting my life drawing classes.... and here I am, only one more week to go. It's been really enjoyable, great to meet a new groupd of creative folk, and really rewarding to see an improvement in my drawing skills. I think there are going to be a few informal sessions after Xmas where we can experiment with new media... looking forward to that!!

Today I'm doing housey jobs, cleaning and washing, and not much else, trying to do my last minute ordering online and it seems every website I have tried to go on has crashed!! I'm determined to not go out of the house and to the shops so I will sit here until the sites uncrash, eating my bacon sarnie, and do my shopping in my cosy house.

I think I will venture up to the studio later though to do some admin and maybe a bit of sketching, I need to get my plan for 2012 written too, and also look back at what I've done in 2011. Hope you all have a good weekend.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

from a giraffe to a dog to a dragon...

I know, weird name for a blog post, but I thought it sounded a bit more interesting than ducks III! Plus I haven't done Ducks III yet.... maybe later this week, let's see what that brings. It a busy week or two in the world of community pharmacy up until Christmas so I might not get much time to sketch but I hope to. I have lots of ideas brewing for 2012, I have to look back over what I've achieved this year (I think this is always a good thing to do as you can see how far you've come and it does feel good to see how far all the small steps have taken you). I also have my first trade fair to prepare for, so I'll be scouring the internet looking for lots of inspiration and also meeting a couple of the experts to grill them for some good advice.

But, I digress, back to the sketches.I got some time last week to have a look  in my sketchbooks and just do some random sketches based on a picture my godson did a few weeks ago. It was a picture of a couple of giraffes and as I was playing about with the shapes it transformed from a giraffe to a dog (some kind of wire-haired terrier type breed) and then into a dragon. It's strange how ideas develop... I do love looking into other artists sketchbooks to see how their ideas develop and how they use their sketchbooks. A few years ago i did a series of Sue's Sketchbook Peeks for the Nottingham Craft Mafia blog. I'm thinking that maybe I should give this another try for this blog, instead of ranting on about myself all the time.... I also seem to have left my 'featured' slot I used to do on Wednesdays behind so maybe I need to look at that again too....

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Ducks II

Second new orginal of the week... I completed this whilst I was invigilating the Art at Bartons Exhibition last week so I can safely say I used mny time well and was very productive (although quite chilly!!) Maybe when it's my turn next week I need to get up and do 50 star-jumps every half an hour to keep warm.

Monday, 12 December 2011

bobbing along

i finished the first duck/swan picture last week and have also just finished another very similar one, but landscape instead of portrait format. Will show you pics later in the week.

Well I had some great news on Friday... I was accepted to be part of Design Factory which I am really pleased about. The new intake of members will be happening this week, after the meeting to decide on applications so later this week my details should appear in the member prfile section of their website. I'm very excited to be part of this nationally recognised creative collective, which is renowned for promoting high quality innovative design and I can't wait to have my first meeting with them to discuss all of my new plans for 2012!!! It's just great to have been accepted and I think that it will fit in well with my plans for developing my work over the next twelve months.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

a few more photos from Art at Bartons

Nicola Lidstone

Travis Kelly

Julie Vernon


Dawn Turner

Barbara Coulam

Here are a few of my favourite pieces from the Art at Bartons Exhibition which is taking place for three weeks at Bartons Bus Depot, Chilwell, Nottingham. The artists and designers taking part are:

Friday, 9 December 2011

something new...

I've been wanting to show you this for a week now, but this is the first chance I've had to have a proper sit down and write about it. I have been lucky enough to be in touch with Dawn Turner from Shed 2 Studios in Ilkeston and we have talked about getting some of my designs onto her glassware and Dawn has kindly had a trial run and this is the very pleasing result. I need to decide what to do next with this idea and we need to look into things further but I really like the result of the black design on tghe milky white glass.... watch this space for details coming soon...

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Art at Bartons

This is where I have spent the slightly chilly December afternoon, invigiliating our latest group exhibition 'Art at Bartons'. It comprises of Creative 10 (the group I am part of) and Shed 2, a creative collective based in Ilkeston, Derbyshire. It is taking place in the gorgeous gallery space at Bartons Bus Depot in Chilwell, which has recently been the venue for The Carnival of Monsters Contemporary Art Exhibition.

If you are in the area please pop in and have a look, you may even want to do a spot of Xmas shopping.....

Friday, 2 December 2011

Life Drawing Week 7

here are a couple of my efforts from last nights Life Drawing class. We are working on tone, which means you get really messy and covered in charcoal and last night with the compressed charcoal we all looked like a bunch of chimney sweeps by the end of the session!! I'm slowly improving but I can't get the hang of the mid-tones, seeing the shades as blocks of colour rather than gently changing tone and colour.... hmm, well we have three weeks left and then some more informal sessions after Christmas which I'm really looking forward to. Have a great weekend everyone!!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Work in Progress

You might recognise this from my post yesterday of my sketchbook draft-sketch?? Well I decided to start and A2 original of this one today and this is how it is shaping up...

It's great to finally move onto some new ideas and work in a sketchbook and even better to take ideas to the next level, ie fresh sheet of my 'posh/saved-for-best' paper. I have been dipping in and out of some of my reference/inspiration books recently and have been drawn to the patterns in the work of Gustav Klimt. I'm going to try and incorporate this into this new piece in the water area, lets see how it turns out!! It's time to stretch my boundaries a bit more and try something new.... if I don't start doing this my work is going to stay the same for ever and I don't want it to become stale and samey. It's good to try something a bit different... don't they say 'variety is the spice of life'? I'll keep you posted with how this one comes along...

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

time for a bit of reflection

well, it's been two weeks... two weeks too long since I last posted, and I haven't had much to tell you but now I finally have some time to write a few blog posts and actually do some new work in the studio. Today I had lots of little jobs to do, frustrating when I just wanted to get in the studio and do some new work, but necessary when trying to run a small business, orders to post, new frames to buy, bills to pay etc etc etc. I've had a really busy couple of months but I'm now ready for a bit of reflective time to think and plan and to write the next part of my business plan and put into place a list of the things I want to achieve next year.

Looking back over 2011 I think I've done a lot of what I wanted to do... I wanted to exhibit and I have been lucky enough to have been part of four exhibitions and a 'Pop-Up-Shop' in Chilwell. I have sold more work than I thought I would and have finally started to take myself more seriously as an artist. I have finally started to believe that I can make this work, I know I have the determination and drive to do it so I now need a bit more help and direction to make the next bit happen. I have BCTF on the distant horizon which I want to make a really good job of so there's my first big challenge for 2012. I also really want to expand my range of products and also to get into more stockists and gain a higher national profile. I have lots of people I'm in contact with to help and inspire me, my Creative 10 group have been a constant source of support and motivation and it's been great to spend time with such a lovely group of fellow creatives.

So, a loose plan in the making, I'm ramping it up for 2012, watch this space.... as for my picture for today, lots of sketchbook work, no real plan from today, just good to get a blank sheet of paper and get some ideas down....

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The Family Tree - new work

I'm not sure I have shown you this new piece of work when it was 'in-the-making' but now it's finished I'm just waiting to take it to the framers. It's called the Family Tree and it's part of a new idea I have had which I will offer on a commission-basis for my customers. I will be offering customised, personalised family trees on request, with the corresponding number of birds, to reflect members of your family.... you can even choose which kind of leaves you would like on your tree!! And the title will reflect the family surname... Clever? You like??

This one took ages, but I enjoyed working on it, although I did feel as though I needed specs by the time I'd finished it!! I wanted to see whether the concept worked before I took it any further...

If you know anyone who you think would be interested in their own Original Artwork Family Tree, let me know and get in touch via my website, we can chat about any particulars, family size, size of artwork etc... Your wish is my command (within reason!!!). I may even be able to do a couple before Christmas....

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Holmfirth Art Market - the Finale

As I always like to share by latest 'new-to-me' finds my final little write up of my Sunday excursion to Holmfirth Art Market is to tell you about an artist whose work I discovered there.

Her name is Helen Hallows a Midlands based artist, working in ink, collage and stitch (probably why I liked it so much, three of my fave media!). Add that to the mix of birds and landscapes, autumnal colours and collage, and I think I could have spent a small fortune!! The two mini-prints I bought were these two lovelies above, Love and Home (two things very close to this sentimental heart of mine!) and I can't wait to get some frames to put them in. I'm making a conscious effort to buy more art for the house, as the last few years we have been looking at (and not particularly seeing) the same photos, pictures and cobwebs!! Time for a change, hence the spending!!

If you want to find a bit more out about Helen she has a blog here and also an online shop here. I think if my cottage was a wee bit bigger I might have thought about the larger prints, but wall space is at a premium in our house so we have to be careful we don't run out of wall!!

Monday, 14 November 2011

Holmfirth Art Market - Part Two

These are some pictures from my visit yesterday to Holmfirth Art Market of the stand of my friend Gillian Lee Smith. I had to share them with you as this was definitely one of the most beautiful stands at the Market. As well as admiring her fanatastic use of her space and her vintage display boxes, books and shelving for her dolls and house sculptures I do have to say I think the colour scheme just worked so well. Gillian shares my love of autumnal shades and I think this is why I loved her stand so much. If you want to find out a little more about Gillian and her work you can read about her on the Art Amrket blog here or you can pop over to here website and have a look here

Sunday, 13 November 2011

The Art Market at Holmfirth - Part One

Well, this afternoon we decided to have a drive up to Holmfirth and visit The Art Market which is held in Holmfirth Market for two consecutive Sundays twice a year. Needless to say, we weren't disappointed. There was an amazing selection of exhibitors and I did treat myself to two more wood blocks by Fiona Wilson and a couple of prints by Helen Hallows, which I'll show you tomorrow. Also a good friend of mine, Gillian Lee Smith was also there, and her stand looked just divine. I'm definitely applying next year as I'd love to be part of such a great event.

This has been a really good week. I'm pleased to say my work is really starting to take off and I'm feeling that I need to be trying to spend my studio time a little better, I haven't actually had a day in the studio doing proper drawing for ages.... tomorrow I have orders to fill (some are very overdue) but after this week, the studio beckons.... watch this space.

Friday, 11 November 2011

life drawing week 4

Phew, I've just got back from my day standing at the Magic of Christmas Fair where I made some sales and also met some lovely creatives too. It's always great to get chatting to other in the business and find out what they do, and us girls in the Conservatory had a great laugh! There were Christmas Carols, mulled wine, cakes, sausages, cheese, lots of lovely delights to buy for Christmas pressies. I'm off there tomorrow as a customer so I'll be taking some money with me to spend!! I can now relax as far as my art work goes, no more Christmas fairs to do, just time to knuckle down and get some order filled for my galleries. I'm planning to do more new work too, so watch this space for developments....

See above for my Week 4 Life Drawing efforts. We had a longer pose this week, and I'm definitely getting the hang of taking my time a bit more, planning my drawing before I start filling in the gaps and

Thursday, 10 November 2011

The Magic of Christmas

Tomorrow I'm at the Magic Of Christmas Fair at East Bridgford (luckily for me, just up the hill!!) and today I have been getting my knickers in a right old twist trying to sort out my table.... I didn't leave it til the last minute at all!!!!

But, knicker-twisting aside, I did end up with a half-decent looking, if minimalistic, stand by the end of the afternoon. If you haven't any plans for the weekend, why not head up to the Fair. It's at a beautiful country manor East Bridgford Hill, which is a fantastic setting for our gorgeous fair. Wandering around the stalls today in the midst of 'set-up' mania, I was impressed at the quality of the goods on offer. There is a distinctive 'vintage' feel, with textiles, prints, jewellery, kitchen goods, as well as a selection of local foodie treats. I'm only there for tomorrow, the Ladies Day, which is ticket only, but I'll be visiting as a member of the public with my mother-in-law on Saturday when I'll be on the lookout for Christmas presents!

Friday, 4 November 2011

new life drawing pics - week 3

So, week 3 Life Drawing Class, and I'm really enjoying this new challenge. Each week we are learning a bit more of the 'theory' behind 'getting it right', lots of different techniques about measuring, curves, angles and lines, and how when you put all of these things together you get a much more accurate image than if you just drew the outline as you think it is!! Usually I'm too impatient and want to get my picture down on paper and start detailing, but these classes have taught me to slow right down and also to use the charcoal in a lighter, less aggressive way. So hopefully once I get the basics I can start to use this new subject matter in my work and who knows what I'll end up producing. I can't wait to find out.

As I said on Monday, this week has been mega busy, with trips to stockists, orders to fulfill (the to-do list is getting longer every day), but this weekend we are just having a lovely weekend at home, doing some lovely cooking and walking, and tomorrow we are going to an auction to hopefully buy some new-old stuff for our cottage.

This evening I've had the pleasure to visit Lustre, a gorgeous contemporary Craft Market at the Lakeside Pavillion at the University of Nottingham. If you are around in the area this weekend you should definitely pop in for a browse of the some of the best local and national creative talent.

Monday, 31 October 2011


Today has been mad... I've driven to Leeds to collect work from an exhibition there and then popped down to Chesterfield to meet with one of my other stockists and now back home again, dog is walked, paper work done, emails sent and tea is eaten. I just need a few minutes for a breather before I'm off out again!!

Whilst I was browsing in the Bowery in Headingley I noticed some gorgeous wood blocks with beautiful images of birds, trees and houses... and the more I looked at them I realised I had to buy one. I've learned over time that when you see something you really like you should just buy it!! So I did. And I have been trying to find a little more about the artist, Fiona Wilson as i must admit I do want to buy some more and make a feature on my living room wall. I found Fiona's blog, which you can see for yourself here and also her website which is here. She shares some of my passions for print, textiles and stitch, and her work is just divine. I'm looking forward to being the proud owner of some more!!

Monday, 24 October 2011


I'm just back from a lovely weekend in London with my husband, who very kindly booked us tickets for the War Horse on Saturday night. We spent the day wandering around the Portobello Road Market, sampling the wares at the Farmers Market and wandering around Kensington and Notting Hill (wow, the house prices!!!). Just near our hotel in Russell Square the Bloomsbury Festival was taking place and we had a little wander around there in the morning and then also later in the afternoon, listening to the music and taking a look at the activities going on as well as perusing the Craft Stalls in the autumn sunshine. One part of it that caught my attention was this interactive walk way of poetry, strung through the trees , encourgaing people to take part and add their own words to the banners. It made me think about words and trees and how I could incorporate them into my own work.

A few of my prints seem to be selling really well at the moment, especially 'Truly, Madly, Deeply' and it made me think about titles, and how the words in the titles of my work can maybe sometimes mean more to the buyer than the actual image..... it has just made me think more.....

Friday, 21 October 2011

bring on the charcoal

Last night I attended my first Life Drawing Class (a course of ten which my lovely friends bought me for my birthday!!). I turned up an hour late as I had to work yesterday, so could only make the last two hours. I was kind of nervous as I haven't picked up a piece of charcoal and drawn a 'person' sinced I was doing my Foundation Course about five or six years ago. So, as you can imagine I was a wee bit nervous. I wondered whether I'd have forgotten how to draw! I've been spending so long working on my intricate and detailed bird illustrations that the thought of drawing anything else apart from trees filled me with a bit of panic!!

But, what a great evening I had. The course took place in the function room of a pub in a village near where I live, so not too far to travel. There was a wide range of ages and experience and everyone was so lovely and friendly, I needn't have worried! I'm going to take some pics of my work every week so I can look back at the end and (hopefully) see an improvement!! Anyway, here are some of the sketches I did last night, not brilliant, but I felt quite pleased with them (ie you can tell that the subject is human!!). I haven't forgotten how to draw I just need a bit more practice!!

It felt great to draw again, to get charcoal all over my fingers and not have to worry about smudges, and it was lovely to flex the hand-eye co-ordination again, very enjoyable and very relaxing, a lovely end (well nearly) to quite a shitty week!!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

ta dah!!

These are the final pics of the pop-up shop taken yesterday at the grand opening. We had a very successful first day and made plenty of sales, which is great news for us makers!! The Opening evening was also a great success and we hung around for a drink or two and watched MissImp, a fab comedy improvisation act, and also listened to some live music by Chris McDonald. All in all, a lovely evening!!

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