Tuesday, 31 May 2011

big, bright and bold

more tropical delights from Chelsea Flower Show last week. I promised you lots of pictures so here and some of the displays that really inspired me. I love the unusual shapes and colours, not usually what floats my boat, but I went there with a different motive this year... rather than looking for planting ideas for my own cottage garden, I was on the hunt for ideas for my work. I wish i had taken a sketch book, but it was that busy I don't suppose I would have got much done. But it's great to be able to bring your images home and work on them here...

Monday, 30 May 2011

weird and wonderful

Wow, there were some amazing displays at Chelsea Flower Show this year and I went down there with my camera eager for new inspiration for my art work. Now, I'm usually drawn to traditional cottage-style planting, delphiniums, lavenders, herbs, hollyhocks, fox-gloves and daisies, but this year what caught my eye the most were the brighter, more unusual tropical plants! There were some fantastic and very unusual plants that I hadn't really seen before, birds of paracdise, palms trees, big leafy green plants, with curly, spiky and frizzy foliage, and the colours were amazing too.... lots of ideas stored in the idea-bank in my head now!!

Sunday, 29 May 2011


well, its Sunday night and I'm pleased to say it's Bank Holiday Monday tomorrow so we have an extended weekend, and after all the shenanigans of the last week I'm pleased we have a day to chill!! You know sometimes when things are just sooo busy you just want to stop the bus and get off... well that's me!! Things have been non-stop... all good stuff but I'm really ready for a rest and recoup!!

Last week I had the chance to spend a lovely day in London visiting Chelsea Flower Show with my husband (quick change of plan as my mam had hurt her knee and couldn't come, which was very disappointing, but at least she is feeling a bit better now!). Chelsea was FAB, loads of inspiration, loads to see, and we did get caught in torrential rain and a hailstorm, which was a bit novel considering all of the good weather we have just been having!! SO that was Thursday, up and out at 9am and not back til 11.30pm... Then Friday morning was spent picking a huge order of frames and pictures followed by a trip up north with one of my very good friends to see the folks and go to see Take That in Sunderland..... and a very late night spent swilling G&Ts until the early hours!!

Fast forward to Saturday with a gallery visit in Corbridge to drop off some new work and then back to Notts for an early night and a BIG SLEEP!! Today has been a bit less hectic, out for lunch and watched a DVD this afternoon and I must say my bed is calling!! Hope you have all had a great weekend too...

The photo is Lollipop flowers, bubblegum tree and now a new bird house, it's nearly finished. I have been drawing lots lately and have lots of new work to print for my new print series so hopefully the next few weeks will be spent getting a few orders ready, printing prints and cards, and just slowing things down a bit a getting myself organised again.... lots to think about, it's amazing how things move along when you decide to step it up a bit... just feel as though I need a few days to gather my thoughts a bit and chill out!!

Friday, 27 May 2011


lollipop trees coming along great, no Chelsea photos uploaded to computer yet, no time as I'm about to whizz off up North to the Stadium of Light to see a concert... the clue is in the post title... should I really be admitting this?

Thursday, 26 May 2011

lollipop flowers and a bubblegum tree....

this is coming along quite nicely, I have had time this weekto spend some on this new picture, which I think I'm going to call 'in the land of the lollipop trees' kinda quirky... I can't wait to show you it finished!

Well, I'm off to Chelsea Flower Show today so not much to report yet. I've been watching it every night on TV and I can't wait to see it in the 'flesh' if you like. I'll be taking my little Canon camera so will be snapping away, I've already seen an amazing topiary display with lots of new shapes just waiting to be transformed into a new piece of work... watch this space!!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Featuring... MrsEliotBooks

Francesca Iannaccone is the amazing talent behind mrseliotbooks, and I have admired her work from afar for a few years. Francesca is an artist and designer living in London. She makes little wooden books, prints, cards, tea towels and original collage pieces and she has a huge selection of her work for sale in her Etsy Shop . She has a vast selection of work so it really is worth popping by to see if there is anything you like. I think my faves are the original paper on wood pieces featuring kitchen items, such a beautiful coffee and tea pots (as you know I do love kitchen-themed artwork myself). She says that she finds inspiration everywhere, so many of her ideas come from happy accidents. Mainly she is interested in random words and cut-up conversations, and in breaking down details into shape and colour and pattern. You can find out more about Francesca on her blog here

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

the land of the lollipop flowers...!!

yes, lollipop flowers(!), which started as a rough sketch, and which I developed just to see what they would look like alongside a bird house and a funky topiary tree!! Random, I know, but I'm really trying to keep my work fresh and try out new ideas each time I start a new piece... I don't want all of my work to just be a variation on the same old theme of trees in the same old format but I want it to remain cohesive and recognisable... does that make sense or does it just sound like one big contradiction? This one might not even make it to print stage or framing but it's kind of nice to just try out new ideas without the pressure of needing something to send to a gallery or to sell... I'll let you know how it goes..

Monday, 23 May 2011

back to houses...

I haven't drawn any bird houses for a while, so in an effort to keep each piece a bit different and my work moving forward (and so I don't become bored) I thought I would revisit them in the topiary styley!! This one was finished yesterday and it just needs a name. I feel though that I do need some fresh inspiration which is good timing as I'm off to Chelsea Flower with my lovely mam on Thursday for a day out, so no doubt there will be lots of gorgeous things to see and lots of new ideas whizzing around my head by the time I get home!

One of my Nottinghamshire Creative colleagues Rachel Carter will also be at Chelsea with her fantastic willow and mild steel sculptures so I will be calling in to see her at her stand to admire all of her hard work. And her Fallen Egg scupltures have been short listed for Chelsea Product of the Year 2011, which is in itself an amazing achievement. I'm keeping fingers, toes, and everything 'crossable' crossed for her. She has put so much work into her creative business I really hope she wins!! You can some pics of the event here

Friday, 20 May 2011

belonging here....

'Belonging here' is the latest finished piece in my topiary birds collection and I'm pleased to say it will be winging its way off to be framed later on today and hopefully will be in place in one of my stockists very soon.

It's been a very hectic week, with lots of jobs to be done once again, but I'm finding that if I get up early on my studio days and resist the temptation to have a little lie-in then I get lots more done. Today I was up with the larks at 7am (a little bleary eyed I must admit), have got my physio appointment and super-market shop out of the way (now that's one job I DETEST!!) and now I'm just off out for a walk with the dog and back to the studio for 10.30am to start on my next new piece. Again, it's going to be a larger piece, I have really enjoyed working on a larger scale and I think these two larger pieces will be quite a statement once they are framed.

Ok, jobs to do, places to be, have a great weekend. Oh, a just one little bit of info... I'm recruiting new 'likes' on my facebook page, so if you would like to 'like' me just pop on over to my facebook page and click on the thumb!!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

sold... to the mysterious person at the back

well, what can I say, I got some great news yesterday from one of my new stockists up in the North East, The Balman Gallery, three of my originals sold to a collector (fantastic, I nearly fell off my chair when i read the email) and they now need some replacements! This is just the best news I have had all week, and I'm just so pleased to see that my recent surge in creative and promotional activity is starting to pay off!! I'm over the moon (do you get the gist, I do have a 'slight' smile on my face!). It is a strange and slightly mysterious feeling though when a gallery does sell your work, as you have had no interaction with the customer yourself, and I do keep wondering who has parted with their hard-earned cash to buy a one of my pictures. I always thought that I only wanted to sell through galleries, giving me more time to make new work at home but this has made me think maybe I do want to get out there and meet some of the people who actually buy my work, so hopefully I will be doing one or two fairs/markets later this year. Don't get me wrong it's lovely to meet and chat to the owners of the galleries and shops who have enough faith in me to stock my work, without them things would be a lot different, but to meet the people whose walls it hangs on would also be great. So 'my-mysterious-buyer-of-the-above-works' if you do happen to read this blog I just wanted to say a heartfelt thankyou!!

So today, I have lots of jobs to do, first one being walking a very impatient looking dog, who thinks that if he stares at me for long enough I will stop typing and take him now.. ok canine mind control has taken over... better be off....

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Featuring.... Kate Broughton and her gorgeous new card ranges

I do love a bit of gardening, especially when the sun is shining, which it has been doing a lot lately. So I just had to show you the new garden designs of my friend, Nottingham artist and designer, Kate Broughton. You can have a look in more detail on her website here and also she has a blog on the website where you can find out how to get your green-fingers on some of her cards, brooches and badges for yourselves!!

Kate makes a range of products including cards, prints and bags from my illustrations as well as handmade felt brooches. Whilst working on her own ranges, she also work as a freelance designer on various illustration/handcrafted projects. She has always made things, as far back as she can remember she has been drawing, painting, sewing, knitting and a whole lot of other stuff besides. She grew up in a town called Otley in West Yorkshire where she did a lot of walking in woods, paddling in rivers, and birdwatching. This is where her love of wildlife began and since then it seems to have been a prevailing influence on her work. Kate graduated from Nottingham Trent University in 2004 with a degree in textile design, specialising in printed textiles.

And I just had to sneak in a couple of her Retro Homes Designs. I just LOVE them!! You can see the full range here....

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

I carry your heart...

this one was inspired by the gorgeous poem by E. E. Cummings, which also is in one of my fave chic flick films, In Her Shoes. It's not a brilliant picture I admit, but the light wasn't very good when i took it, but you get the gist. This one is going off to be framed soon too, to beef my collection up again for prospective galleries in the very near future (watch this space. I don't want to jinx things!!).

I'm having a busy week, and am looking forward to some studio time at the end of the week, but there are jobs to do, like getting a well needed haircut, buying some new running shoes, and scanning work and getting it framed, printing off some new prints... the list goes on, lots of jobs, some boring and mundane but I suppose that's life! All I really want to do is draw, but sometimes other things need doing too (if I leave my hair any longer I may be mistaken for a scare-crow, it needs some serious attention!!). I also have other things to do like buying a dress for my sisters wedding, but hopefully I can wait a while, maybe when i start running again, the weight will miraculously drop off me and I'll be a bit more in the mood for clothes shopping!! Ah well, better be off....

Monday, 16 May 2011

frustratingly slow...

...as I never seem to get enough time to finish it!! Once I start a picture like this it becomes almost addictive, as I'm so impatient I can't wait to see what it is going to look like when it's finished!! Plus I have another Gallery visit scheduled in a couple of weeks and I'm wanting to take this with me.

Hope you all had a good weekend, I was at home this weekend and enjoyed some time in the garden, weeding a patch that hasn't been weeded in way too long. Today I ache... I also visited a couple of my stockists to catch up and find out what they have been up to. And it was nice to browse their gorgeous gallery spaces as a shopper, I bought a birthday pressie for our niece, but it might not make it until her birthday!!

Friday, 13 May 2011

in stages...

blimey, blogger is back.... at last... what on earth happened there then? Anyway, I've been itching to show you pics of a new piece I'm working on today, it's larger than usual and took quite a while to get three trees done, hopefully I should finish it over the weekend. So all in all, a very productive day. Two other pieces finished today as well!!

We have a lovely weekend of not a lot planned so we are just enjoying a relaxing night in with glas of vino and a DVD.... bye for now...

Thursday, 12 May 2011

beginning to grow...

Wow, what a busy day I have had, I might even have to miss my Thursday night yoga class and just go and lie down in a dark room!!

After a mad rush to the Opticians for an eye-test and then a visit to the framers to pick up two re-framed pieces of work for a gallery, I rushed off to town to meet the lovely people, Lorraine and Angelo, at Focus Gallery, where I had a really productive meeting and a chat about working together. It has made me feel so positive about things and has put a HUGE smile on my face!! Focus Gallery has been around since the 1970s (in fact they told me they will be celebrating their 40th anniversary this year!) and it has always been one of those places where we knew we would find just what we wanted for that special gift. The selection of work ranges from jewellery, ceramics, etchings, scuplture, original art work and limited edition prints from some of the UKs finest designers, and I must say I am feeling very pleased indeed to be working with them. You can click on this link here and go to their facebook page where you can see some of the work they have there.

So, that was all good! Things are definitely looking up at the moment. I have also made a BIG decision this week and have decided to apply for the British Craft Trade Fair next year. Major 'scary-ness' as I've only ever done one Xmas Craft Fair before but I am seizing the day and am going for it!! My sister sent me a quote this week... A year from now you may wish you had started today... so that is just what I am going to do!!

 A year ago from now, I was thinking that I didn't really know whether my art was going anywhere at all, I was feeling a bit despondent, and thought about just packing it all in and giving up (see here for proof!!). I'm so pleased I didn't. When I look at how far I have come in 12 months (mostly thanks to the help and support from the Nottinghamshire Creative Business Course I took part in) I feel very positive about the future. Ok, on that note, I'm off to put the kettle on. BTW the picture above is a work in progress, I ahve the name already for this one, will show you when it's finished!! 

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Featuring... Anek

You know what. I never cease to be amazed at some of the gorgeous work out there in Etsy-land. Whilst searching for some more work to feature on my blog I came across Anek , a graphic designer and illustator working and living in lovely town called Zagreb, Croatia.  Artist Ana enjoys creating and tends to make her artwork simple, colorful, accessible and witty, which I think is what drew me to it. The colour are also really lovely too, especially those gorgeous alive greens in the set of three prints at the bottom.
When she isn't in her studio creating new wonderful works of art she is constantly thinking about new ideas and products but she also loves to spend time with her two amazing little boys. She says 'they are my best life teachers and inspiration for everything I do!'
You can check out all the goodies in Ana's shop on Etsy here or you can also find her on twitter here  Check her out, I know I keep saying it but her work truly is lovely.... you can't beat a bit of foodie inspired art for your kitchen!!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Truly, Madly, Deeply...

Another new piece of work, inspired by the fantastic film by Anthony Mingella... well the name is. If you haven't seen the film you should watch it, it stars Juliet Stevenson and Alan Rickman and it's one of my all time film faves, especially the scene then they sing 'The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore' when she plays the piano and he the cello.... it's one of those touching films about grief, death and letting go, truly uplifting, but you will need a pack of Kleenex!!

So another piece of work complete, I don't know where they are coming from at the moment, I just hope  the inspiration continues as I have three new galleries who are interested in my work, and I'm in a position I NEVER thought I would be, and just want to make sure I have enough work to go around!! Smiling, smiling, smiling.....

Sunday, 8 May 2011

My process

I have been thinking about my blog posts going forward as I was sat working in the garden on a sunny Friday afternoon and I thought about things that i like to read about on other artists blogs. I thought I'd tell you a little bit about my working process, from initial inspiration for an idea to getting it down on paper and coming up with a finished piece of work....

 A couple of weeks ago I went out for a few hours sketching with a friend of mine, and I came across some lovely 'tropical' looking trees in the gardens at Newstead Abbey. I took a few snaps and came home, thinking about what i could do with them and how easy/difficult it would be to simplify such a complex shape into something that would fit in well with my range.

So I set about in a cruddy old cheap sketchbook (one of those where you don't mind ruining the gorgeous white pages) just roughly sketching the general shape down and playing around with it. I also had been thinking about how I could change my bird character to fit in with a more tropical theme so decided to research 'parrots'. I usually like to work from 'real' primary objects, but as we haven't many parrots flying about in this part of the world I had to resort to 'google' and did a search on parrot images.

After a  bit of playing about with the general shapes and again trying to simplify the shapes I came up with Percival the little guy two pictures above that I told you about last week....

But I still have the problem of the palm tree. Because of the way i work I need to keep shapes really simple and very 2D so I find that if I try to really go back to basics and just use plain line drawings this works really well and helps me to find a way to get what I want...

Once I know what i'm going to do and how I'm going to put the piece together I either go for it and get brave and start with black ink (that is a bit of a leap of faith) or if I'm not feeling 100% sure of how it's all going to pan out I sketch in the general outline in pencil so I can make sure that the image fills the page the way I want it to and that I like the look of the composition. I usually start with my smaller A4 book of 'decent paper' to begin with and off I go.... drawing the outline in ink and once it's finished going over it to make the solid black lines....

In this case. impatience led to several bouts of swearing as I smudged the original (***!^#%s!!), but I thought I'd finish this one off anyway as I can use it as a print image and clean up the smudges in Photoshop...

When I'm happy with the image I then tend to scale-up and go bigger, this time working on A3 of the same watercolour or aquarelle acrylic paper (which has a gorgeous texture although it can be a bit of a pain when I'm trying to get the lines straight!!)

And this is what my sketchbook looks like after a couple of hours in the garden in the sunshine... I'm quite happy with how this one is turning out! I'll be sure to show you after the parrots have been added...

So there you go, that's how I tend to work through an idea, from start to finish. I always love to hear how other artists work, so if anyone else wants to share how they work, please feel free to add a link in the comments section

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