Tuesday, 31 January 2012


So people what do you think of these lovelies?? This will hopefully be the next addition to the 'sue bulmer' range of bird-related paraphernalia (if that is how you spell it!!) As you know, because I'm going on about it every week from now til mid-April, I'm taking part in my first trade fair this year and I'm hoping to be taking some of my own mugs with me... As soon as I have some I'll be putting them into my shop if anyone is dying to get their hands on one!!

So, did I mention a certain trade fair? I'm going to be posting regularly about the whole experience so that anyone else in my shoes (ie has never done anything quite so big and scary as a trade fair before) might find it useful... what works/what doesn't, that kind of thing.

Before I start, I'll take you right back to the beginning when a trade fair seemed a million miles away.....

This time two years ago if someone had said to me that in 2012 I'd be doing a trade fair I'd have asked them to tell me another!! (joke, that is!!). I had one experience a few years ago of a Craft fair and I can't say I enjoyed it very much at all. Three long days, not the right kind of customers and a whole load of other circumstances meant it didn't really tick all the boxes of something I wanted to make sure I repeated again. After attending a fantastic creative business mentoring course in 2010 I became a lot more focused and I decided that I really wanted to give this creative business a proper go and started considering the different ways I could market and sell my work, as a maker you can do that in a variety of ways...

1. Face to face selling direct to customers at Fairs
2. Selling via a secondary source such as galleries and retail outlets
3. Selling direct to customers online (there are loads of great online shops out there, Etsy and Folksy to name a few)

So having been put off by my one and only attempt at selling direct to customers I decided to approach a few galleries to see if they would like to stock my work as I thought that this seemed a better option for me at the time. You can also do this a variety of ways, ring them, email, letter, it's always best to find out how individual galleries like to receive promotional material from artists. Some even like to source new work themselves so I think it's always better to check. To cut a long story short, my experience with galleries has been, on the whole, very positive. You get the benefit of their customer base, reputation and publicity, and they effectively sell your work for you, all you have to do is deliver it. One thing to note, all galleries have their own terms and conditions for selling your work, commission varies from one to another, and it's always best to thoroughly read through these before you sign on the dotted line.

Having built up my stockists over the past year I then decided that this mode of selling worked well for me and I would like to increase my number of stockists over the next year.... how to do this.... hmm, a trade fair perhaps? 'Ooh, no that seems far too scary and I'm most definitely not ready for that' was my initial thought, but speaking to some very encouraging and positive people made me rethink and now I'm very much thinking along the lines of 'there's no time like the present, life is for living etc' and I'm raring to go....

So over the next few months I'll be sharing my journey from here to Harrogate, hope you'll join me!!

Monday, 30 January 2012

Sketchbook Peeks - Dawn Bevins

Before we start, tell us a little about yourself/how did you get into art/craft/design career and how it all started and where you are now

I have been creative for as long as I can remember, my life has revolved around drawing, and making, quite instinctively. I chose the Art & Design route through education, choosing an Art & Design GCSE, an 'A' Level, completing a Foundation course, and then ending with a degree in Graphic Design. Having no experience, it took me a while to get a design job, so I was a Bookseller for a while, (which I loved), then I got a in-house design job working for the MOD. I was happy there for a couple of years, but found creatively I wasn't pushed enough, and that I wasn't using my full potential, and that was frustrating. To get the kind of design job that ticked all the boxes, I knew, I would have to probably approach agencies in London, but didn't want to become a commuter, so I had to think of something else. It was strange, and I had to adapt, as I had never considered working for myself before. All through education, I always knew I would do something creative, but always thought I would be an employee, and I don't even know why. I mean finances can be a struggle, but no one ever mentioned how easy it was to become self-employed. I am now a sole trader, I have my own little web site, and sell on Folksy too. I create illustrations, cards, and various delights from polymer clay, including art beads.

How long have you been using sketchbooks?
On and off for years, there have been definite wilderness years, where I have been sitting on a bus thinking ' I really wish I carried a sketchbook with me'. I am definitely not the kind of girl  that has a sketchbook with her all the time, I wish I was, but, I will get out of carrying a bag, and just shove everything in my pockets if I can. If I have to carry anything, I will put it down and forget to pick it upagain :)

How often do you sketch?
At the beginning of 2012 I began a doodle a day sketching challenge, the Doodle Olympics, so for at least the next year, I will be sketching daily. I think it was university that stopped me sketching, we used layout pads, and were drawing all the time, but you had to use ink pen, as the emphasis was on quickly communicating ideas visually, and not perfecting an image. A lot of my actual drawing skills became very rusty, and I have been intending to try and get them back ever since, but this challenge is the first time I have ever really done anything about it.
How do you feel about the prospect of starting a new sketchbook?
 It depends on the sketchbook, I should stick to bog standard sketchbooks, if you give me anything remotely pretty, whether it be the cover, unusual format, or quality of paper, I will just keep it pristine for ten years, not wanting to ruin it with my heavy-handed scribbles. I need a sketchbook that I am not worried about ripping the pages out of. Actual blank pages alone don't worry me, it is important just to make a mark, and kind of mark on the paper.

When/where do you get your inspiration for your sketchbook pages?
I think I absorb a lot around me, without thinking too much. At the moment I am drawing from photos a fair bit, forcing myself the get my lost skills back, making myself draw eyes, forcing myself to look at skin tones. I also sketch things I think might be useful, I have been trying to draw woodland animals, as I might try and feature them in invitations for our wedding in the future. I have also been drawing cats, because I was trying to come up with Baby Shower invites for my friend, and she loves cats. Today, my mind was blank, so I put the television on and began watching it, with pencil in hand, and pad on lap. Then I began making marks, while looking at the television still. Some were just what I felt like doing, some were following the movements I was watching, then I was inspired by the mass of random marks, and turned them into something.

How would you describe your creative process?
It varies, it usually starts with, the couch, a cup of tea, a pad and a pencil, especially if I just want to sketch. Whether I am drawing from a photo or imagination, I usually just go at it instinctively, you won't catch me holding my pencil up, squinting, and trying to measure things, or doing too much planning, I'm more chaotic than that, and I liked to get absorbed and lost in things. If I am doing one of my Zombie collages, I will do a simple line drawing, then trace all the parts of image separately, then paint an cut out all the parts, before putting them together, for the final piece. Sometimes I will scan a pencil drawing, and colour by hand, using a Wacom tablet and Photoshop. Sometimes I will paint parts of an image, and compile them together digitally. I don't really plan ahead though, I just think 'right, what now?' In the case of the '30' Owl image, that was created from several elements, an Owl sketch, a sketch of a leaf, that was then turned into a repeat pattern, and then used to help fill the Owl in.

Have your sketchbooks evolved over the years and if so, how?
They have probably devolved. I have found it quite frustrating, knowing that my sketchbooks used to be of a pretty high standard, and now, not so much, but at least I know what I am aiming for, and what I am capable of.

What is your favourite medium to work with?
I think variety is important. I love to use pencil or pen, because they are so immediate, and great for jotting down quick ideas, but I find it quite hard not to use bright colour. I have created a few images using polymer clay, which I enjoy, but it is quite time consuming. I used to love working in oils at college, but I just can't afford to make the kind of mess I do, using oils, in my tiny house, it would be a disaster, I used to get it everywhere :) I mostly create collages, because it means I can create small bits, and then put them together, allowing me to change my mind at the last minute. I think years of doing graphics and using the Adobe programs, have made me rely on the 'undo' command, and that doesn't exist when creating in the real world. As well as drawing skills, I also need to remember how to commit to something, and not worry about it going wrong.

Do you have a favourite sketchbook?
No, most of my sketchbooks end up in pieces, I have sheets of paper lying around all over he place.
If you had to pick one favourite page which would it be and why?
Usually I wouldn't have one, because my pages end up having so many bits and pieces on them, but browsing through, I found a page, with a little character on, that looks like he is scared and reaching up. I like drawing characters, and would one day like to illustrate a book, but I don't yet have the skills, to draw recognisable characters consistently, and from varying perspectives. It was nice that this little chap, although not the most impressive example of sketching, wasn't just standing face on, looking out form the page, being just 'flat' I really need to get away from that.

Thanks Dawn for taking part in this post for Sketchbook Peeks, if anyone wants to contact Dawn or see more of her work you can find her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, you can find out more about her on her website, and you can read about what she has been up to on her blog.  

Friday, 27 January 2012

weekly round up

so this is what I have been looking at all morning, paperwork, lists, computer screen and emails, whilst dreaming of being in the studio, (i'm beginning to think I'll never see the inside of my studio again!!) As you know I'm preparing for my first trade fair and I have so much to do as far as organisation goes so I know that for the next few months I'm not going to be doing a lot of 'making' as I have to don my 'organising and getting things sorted' hat instead.
Ever since my 'Creative Directions' mentoring meeting with Rachael Chambers from Ferrers Gallery last week my head has been spinning with ideas and lists of all the things I need to do. I have decided on my product range and am also looking into developing a couple of new lines, ceramics and glass, but the research is taking a loooong time to get through. I really want to get some of my designs onto mugs, but trying to find a company who will produce the quantity I need, at a cost which is affordable to quite a task in itself. I have found a few good options, and have a few decisions to make regarding funding, but hopefully I will get this all sorted out soon.... watch this space....

I'm doing a slight redesign on my logo too, to include a more illustrative element, and something which will be more recognisable. Once this is done, new business cards and postcards can be ordered. The badges which I'm going to use in my promotional material are well on their way to being ordered, just need to tweak my designs a little and get them sent off.

As for the rest of the afternoon, I'm off to the bank and then going to treat myself to a broadband signal amplifier so I can actually work online in the studio rather than in the house. I'm sure this will make me feel better just being 'in' my own workspace where the distractions of everything else will fade away.

Hope you all have a good weekend,

Thursday, 26 January 2012


So look what plopped through my letterbox this morning, some lovely samples of badges I'm hoping to take with me to BCTF to help promote my range of goodies in April from the lovely people at Big Wow Badges and I'm very happy with the quality. It's been a very good week, lots of research and lots of things whizzing through my head of things I need to do to prepare myself and my range for my first trade fair.

I'm thinking of blogging about my experience of doing my first trade fair in the hope that it will provide some help, advice and inspiration for other newcomers to trade fairs, a bit of a diary about the trials and tribulations, ups and downs, mistakes and successes of the next few months, whilst I get ready for officially launching my range to the public. Maybe one post a week about how things are going, charting my progress, along with my sketchbook peeks feature, and also the 'Featuring' slot.... Hopefully this will direct more people to the blog and also give some informed content which will hopefully be useful to others? What do you think?

I've noticed how more regular blogging does increase yoru traffic. If it's your first time here I'd love to hear your comments about how my blog is shaping up, all comments welcome. Please post below.  For now I'll leave you, as it's time for tea and I've a whole list of things to do. See you tomorrow

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Featuring - BethBeeBooks

In our second 'Featuring' slot of 2012 I'm travelling across the pond to America, where I have discovered BethBeeBooks, a little book publishing operation run by Beth Barnett, painter and illustrator, who designs, illustrates and publishes this gorgeous selection of recipe books, address books, and note books.

Beth Bee Books was started in about 2002 and is currently located in Corvallis, Oregon which is a small city south of Portland in Oregon's Willamette Valley. I was drawn to Beth's work as I do love all things kitchen themed, and her recipe books above tick all the boxes for me. Great design, quirky illustrations, practical and well-thought out. Beth's products are a result of her own desire for useful books that help her to be more organized. She says 'I like to offer practical solutions, and that's also the way I approached writing Rabbit Food Cookbook - practical information and practical every-day (vegan) recipes'. I think I should be treating myself to one of her recipe books, all of my favourite recipes are crammed into a plastic poly-pocket on top of all of my cook-books, not very practical, attractive or easy to navigate!!

Whilst reading about Beth and her work I also discovered her vegan-vegetarian cookbook Rabbit Food Cookbook which she has written and illustrated herself and is now published by Sasquatch Books but which you can also buy in a limited edition handmade version here on Etsy. 

So, a very talented lady! I'm seriously thinking now I might need to buy a copy of this for my vegetarian sister as it looks so delightful!!

Beth also makes a selection of address books, again top-marks for the design element here, the smallest details have been so well-considered. There is even a selection of different covers which you can see here and the pictures of these little beauts can be seen below.

So there you have it, can you tell I'm impressed and rather in awe of these products? If any of my family are reading, please make a note for my Birthday and Christmas wish lists!! You can find out more about Beth on her website, her blog and also you can see more of her range in her Etsy shop here.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

new logo options

So before I do anything this week, I must re-vamp and renew my logo. I'm probably keeping the signature type style but it needs an illustrative element to make it 'go' more with my range, and I'm racking my brains trying to work out how to do it. I know my way around Photoshop (ish) but haven't any Illustrator/vector experience so most of this is trial and error. Here are some of my ideas.... After I've done this I then can get cracking with ordering new postcards, business cards and can start planning packaging for my tea towels.... ok, better go before brain goes into a tizz!!

By the way, watch out for 'Featuring' tomorrow...BethBeeBooks, lots of gorgeousness!!

Monday, 23 January 2012

Sketchbook Peeks - Lucinda Smith

I started drawing as an obsession in my early teens, in the early 80s when 'being arty' was v trendy and I also made a lot of (bizarre) clothes.  From school, I went on to Foundation at Norwich, followed by Design Crafts at Epsom School of Art and Design, which was predominantly jewellery based making.  I was taught by a range of talented people such as Charlotte De Syllas, Amanda Bright, Jane Adam, as well as a lot of exciting visiting lecturers - of course none of us were able to appreciate how lucky we were to be able to play and experiment and express ourselves in such a great environment.  

I kept sketchbooks full of my clothing designs and drawings of the surrounding area when I was at school, and developed into using them for interesting found objects, doodles, experiments and ramblings after a tutor at Norwich told me that a good sketchbook is one that doesn't close cos its full of random stuff.  I have continued to use (and spread) that philosophy, and always had travel journals crammed with bus tickets, leaflets, and doodles.

I think sketching is perhaps too polite a word for me.  I use sketchbooks as part of the creative process all the time - sometimes sitting and actually drawing something, more often than not, sloshing paint around, and glueing things in.

New sketchbooks don't stay that way for long - if I have nothing else planned, there's always a coat of gesso to go on the cover in preparation for something else (sometimes years later), or I might have some spare paint on my pallet that I'll use as background on a few pages.  Some of my books weren't new in the first place, as I altered them from something else.

I am currently obsessed with drawing faces, and to a lesser extent, figures.  This is a great source of inspiration as there is always a subject available, even if its in the mirror, and drawing people who are unaware of you means that there isn't time to get bogged down with detail.  

I give little thought to the creative process and just 'do', and I keep on doing until I am satisfied with what I've got.  As a result, I always have a number of books on the go at any one time, with some ideas developing over years.  I continue to aspire to the sketchbook which will never shut.

That philosophy has inevitably brought colour and texture into my work - I remember struggling with colour when I was younger, which seems ridiculous now.

I love using gesso in my work - it is so versatile, and I couldn't do without acrylic paint or Derwent Inktense blocks (bit of shameless local promotion there).  I also agree with Kirsty Allsop that free machine embroidery in the crack cocaine of the craft world, and, to my husbands despair, I'm pretty in to chopping up and using rubbish -milk cartons, telephone wire and the like. 

I don't think I have a favourite book, and my favourite page is usually the one I'm working on at the time.

Thanks Lucinda for taking part in Sketchbook Peeks. If you want to find a little bit more about Lucinda and see more of her work, check out these links: Etsy shop, Facebook Page, Folksy shop, or follow her on Twitter here.  

Sunday, 22 January 2012

perfect sunday

How does this sound for a perfect sunday? Lie-in until 9.45, quick breakfast of fresh fruit, then off in the car to Calke Abbey for a lovely walk with hubby and dog, followed by a quick visit to Ferrers Gallery, Garden Centre and Bread First Deli, followed by drive home, cup of tea, walnut bread toast (from said Bread shop) and then curling up in front of the fire with a few editions of Craft and Design magazine, and a turkey curry bubbling away in the oven! Heaven!! OOh yes and Birdsong starts tonight on BBC1...

Hope your weekend was lovely too!!

Friday, 20 January 2012

end of the week

Took this photo last week when i was out walking the dog, it's great to see the evenings drawing out a bit, meaning we a little less time in the dark and a little bit closer to spring! There's still a good few weeks to go yet until the clocks go back, but I'm in no hurry this year. I don't want the days to fly by and for it to be spring time before we know it..... no, I want time to pass slowly basically because I have so much to do! As you all probably know I'm doing BCTF, at Harrogate for the first time this year and I started my planning and list-making last week when I had the first meeting to discuss how it's all going to work.

I also decided to sign up for a Creative Directions mentoring session with Rachael Chambers from Ferrers Gallery and off I went to see her this morning for my two hour mentoring session, armed with notebooks, my work, and lots of questions! What can I say, this is the best £50 I have ever spent!! My mind is now whizzing at 100mph with ideas and possibilities of what I need to do and how I'm going to do it. Rachael's tailor-made two hour sessions are well worth the investment. She spent time finding out about me, my aspirations and how I want to develop my range of work and present myself at BCTF and she gave me some cracking advice. I just need some time now to consolidate and digest all she told me and put a plan into action!!

If you don't know Ferrers Gallery, it's well worth a visit. It's on the Derbsyhire Leicestershire border in the very charming location of Staunton Harold. Friends have told me about it, but it is somewhere I have never been before. There is a courtyard of independent outlets, an artisan breadmaker, ceramicist, toy-shop, the gallery, cafe and also a garden centre and I'm definitely going to revisit and take my hubby and dog for a lovely walk (if it ever stops raining). It's also not far from the national trust Calke Abbey, so we'll pop in there and have a gander too. Sounds like a plan for the weekend!!

Thursday, 19 January 2012


vessel: a hollow container especially one to hold liquids, such as a bowl or a cup.

So I have found some new inspiration this whilst browsing through my stack of magazines, a gorgeous photoshoot in Country Living Magazine gave me the idea for some new work... Well, I suppose if I'm honest it's kind of a continuation from my Kitchen-themed work I did a while ago. Up until now my head has been to full of birds and ranges and prints that I haven't had time to think what I want to do next. So, this is it vessels....

I got thinking about definition and interpretation of the word 'vessel' and to me it means something that holds or carries something else so it could be used/translated/interpreted in many ways. In that respect we can even think ourselves as vessels, carrying thoughts, feelings, messages, ideas..... I could go on but I won't you'll all think I've gone a bit la-la and philosophical. So anyway, thats what I'm exploring for the next few months. I'll share what I get up to along the way. I can't promise much headway very quickly as I'm organising my stand for my first trade fair in April with the birds, so I think that will be taking up a lot of my time. But it's good to have some creative ideas on the back burner, something I can just pick up as and when I have the time.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Featuring - Pool Pony Designs

This is the first of my weekly 'Featuring' slots which I have decided to resurrect after a bit of a lull last year. New Year, New blog Feature, thought it was quite apt. Well, I just downloaded the Etsy app for my phone (lethal if you are trying to be  'not-distracted' by surfing the web. It has been a while since I have stopped by to have a look at Etsy, and I was astounded at the selection of lovely work on offer. So, here is the first blog on 2011.... drum roll please.... featuring PoolPonyDesign from Sydney in New South Wales, Australia.

I was drawn to this work, partly because of the subject matter, birds, flowers, kitchenware, leaves etc, but also because I do have a bit of a thing for mid-century design (ala Lucienne Day) and also I love 1950s kitchen ware (Meakin Pottery, Israel Kadar designs). The colours Linda uses in her work are just divine, each piece complements the others forming a cohesive, professional  and instantly recognisable range.  I imagine they sit llok equally as stunning on their own as a signature piece for your wall. PoolPony specialise in their prints, they offer affordable, fine art prints with a mid-century modern twist and use museum grade pigment prints will add a touch of vibrancy and warmth to your home. The prints range from smaller 7x9 inch all the way up to A2, for that real statement of good taste to adorn your home!! 

If you like what you see here and want to see a bit more for yourself you can catch up with poolpony on their website here, their Facebook page here and also you can browse their Etsy shop here.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Big skies

Big skies, endless possibilities and lots to think about in 2012.... I took this photo last weekend when I was out and about near where we live, taking our dog for an early Sunday morning walk. I love to get out into the open air and take in the view. I find it very liberating and inspiring and I have it on good authority my dog seems to love it too!

Last week I had my first meeting to discuss my upcoming first ever trade show later this year. I have loads of ideas buzzing around my head, and lots to do. It's good to be able to bounce ideas off someone else too and the lovely folk at Design Engine up in Northumberland helped me out immensely with getting down on paper what I want to get out of this whole experience as well as what I want to say to my future customers, as well as sharing some great ideas and practical advice for stand design and promotional info. I think having someone elses take something really does help, it opens your mind to possibilities and ideas that you may not even have thought about. Watch this space for developments.....

And also watch out for the new weekly Wednesday 'featuring' spot, revived and resurrected with a great line-up of some very talented designers and makers I've found whilst browsing the delights of Etsy....

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Sketchbook Peeks - Sarah Cavani

Before we start, tell us a little about yourself/how did you get into art/craft/design career and how it all started and where you are now….

Colour is the dominant force in my work and the figure is a reoccurring subject matter.I started painting in 2006 when injury prevented me continuing my business designing and making bespoke bridal wear. Becoming an artist fulfilled my creative needs. It began with a block of life drawing classes and has now developed into a full time career that fits around my family perfectly

How long have you been using sketchbooks?
I have been using sketchbooks since 2006.

How often do you sketch?
I help to run a 2 hour life drawing class once a week. This has become my main sketching time. I try to attend at least one other drawing session every week. I also discipline myself to draw something every day, or at least sketch out ideas for paintings.

How do you feel about the prospect of starting a new sketchbook?
Starting a new sketchbook is always exciting. It either means I have found something new to ‘recycle’ into a sketchbook, been given a new sketch book or have new ideas to get down on paper.

When/where do you get your inspiration for your sketchbook pages?
Inspiration for my sketchbooks comes from day to day life. I am a bit of a magpie, though I collect images and Ideas, not shinny things. If I am going on a train journey I make sure I have a small sketchbook with me. Station platforms and cafe’s are two of my favourite places to make quick sketches of people.

6. How would you describe your creative process?
My creative process is very spontaneous and I often have several paintings ‘on the go’ at a time. This makes the sketchbook an essential tool. It acts as visual list that I can refer back to. Often keeping me focused on my initial ideas

7. Have your sketchbooks evolved over the years and if so, how?
Yes my sketchbooks have evolved over the years. To start with I treated every page as a potential masterpiece. I am far more relaxed now about what goes into my sketchbooks. Often the notes I make at the side of a sketch are just as important as the sketch itself.

8. What is your favourite medium to work with?
My favourite medium to work with at the moment is biro. I have recently recycled several degree show catalogues by applying white acrylic paint. This blocks out some of the printed image and gives an interesting texture to work on. Using biro has stopped me being distracted by colour and had helped me to consider my use of line.

9. Do you have a favourite sketchbook?
My favourite sketchbook is the one I have used for the last few months at my weekly life drawing session. It is a recycled degree catalogue. I enjoy letting the paint and print marks that are already present, and the life models pose, dictate where the sketch appears on the page

10. If you had to pick one favourite page which would it be and why?
My favourite page is in another one of my recycled degree catalogues. It is a quick study of a woman in a scarf. The existing marks and figure sat in front of me fitted together so perfectly. It was as if I had made the brush marks knowing what I would draw over them. This couldn’t have been further from the truth. This lucky coincidence makes it one of my favourite pages.

So thats' all folks for the first of my sketchbook peeks, I'd like to say thank you to Sarah for taking part. If you want to find out a bit more about her or see more of her work, check out her website here and take a look.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Bite sized chunks - a bit of simple advice

Ooh, one of my favourite things, Chocolate Orange, it's definitely not Terry's, it's mine!! Started to tuck into this the other night whilst watching a couple of epsiodes of The Killing, series 1 (fab TV if ever I've seen it!!). Anyway, you may be wondering why on earth I've posted a random picture of a chocolate orange? Well, there is method in my madness... I've been thinking about my blog and posting more relevant 'creative business' posts which may be informative to my dear readers and not just harping on about what I'm up to all of the time.

So, this got me thinking about a lot of the blogs I've read recently, especially since the beginning of the year, and it seems a lot of people are writing themselves their task lists for the New Year. I've done it myself and have some big things coming up in 2012, scary and exciting. With my 'to-do' lists I usually start off looking back at my last one and writing down the things that didn't get done, and then writing down the new things I need to do. I have noticed though that some items, such as 'sort accounts' and 'sort print catalogue' just keep re-appearing every time I write a new list. I thought to myself about the reasons why and part of it was that they just seem like too huge a task to tackle, and as as result, this was putting me off and I was shying away from tackling them. Not very productive at all!!

So how to make them a bit easier and more manageable? This is where the chocolate orange comes in... Who can eat a chocolate orange all in one go? Well, for starters, it's pretty impossible to get it your mouth all at once isn't it, unless you have an extremely large mouth! So what do you do...bang it on the wall and break it up into bite sized chunks and it's a whole lot easier to get through (mine is nearly finished now!) What I'm trying to say is, if you do this with the really big scary and seemingly 'unachievable' jobs on your list, break each one down into mini-tasks you need to achieve in order to tick off the 'biggie', it just seems a lot less trouble, and is much better for your morale!! Not rocket science I know, but just a new way to think about tackling those 'biggies' on the list that you find it hard to face!! Simples!!

So there you are, maybe you already do this, I'd love to hear how the rest of you plan your workload and get through those jobs we'd rather not have to do!!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

A few ideas to help you feel inspired!!

I've got a new app on my phone called Instagram, it's fab, I love it! It's like a photography app where you can post and share your photos and there is an amazing array of talent out there to feast your eyes upon! There are lots of special effects and filters and you really can get some great shots, even when you are an amateur like me! I rate it as good as Hipstamatic for the kinds of photos you can get, I'm still exploring it but I thought I'd share one I took this morning.... Flicking through the images of other peoples work made me think that there is soooo much creativity out there and so many places from which to get inspiration. I think forums such as this are a fantastic way to get help you out of a rut if the ideas aren't flowing as freely as they should be.

I sometimes suffer from lack of inspiration, ideas and just a general feeling of creative down-turn, and over the last few years I have come to realise ways out of feeling like this. Here are a few of things I do whenever I'm feeling distinctly uncreative!!

- I usually find it useful to just get away from my surroundings and take the dog for a long walk, to clear my head of the self-imposed stresses of creative-less-ness (if there is such a word!).

- I find chatting to other creative people (my sister being number one on the list!) helps to get the ideas flowing.

- Lists or brainstorming sessions where I just get down any ideas on paper of the work or subject matter I would like to cover works well as a starting point for actually putting pen to paper.

- I have a rather large cupboard in my studio full of books, ranging from books about sketchbook page ideas, illustration books, reference books etc and I find that flicking through a few of them gives me a few sparks of ideas, colours, shapes, patterns can all be starting points for new projects and work.

- Either that or I flick through my huge pile of ageing sketchbooks that I have accumulated over the years helps me to think about old ideas I always wanted to rework or explore further.

- Getting out and about armed with sketchbook and pens and just doing some drawing can also stimulate the old grey matter and give a boost to your creative mojo!!

- And if you don't fancy going out in the cold and wind and rain (today in the UK the weather is abysmal!!) then why not browse the plethora of excellent design blogs to help you wiht your lightbulb moment!! There is a small list on this blog and also a longer list on my old blog which you can find here....

- If it's still not happening then it probably isn't worth beating yourself up about it, watch a film, listen to some music, bake a cake, read a book, go out and so some gardening, or have a bit of retail therapy, whatever floats your boat. Just be assured that the ideas will come, honest!!

Please feel free to add your thoughts or things that you do when the blank-page-syndrome strikes!!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Featuring - Bonnie Murray

Wow, wow, wow... Etsy browsing never ceases to amaze me. I was browsing this evening looking for some work to feature on my 'Featuring' spot on the blog and I came across the wonderful collographs of Bonnie Murray, an artist based in St Louis, Missouri, USA. As well as collographs, my favourite ones are above, she also prints using other techniques and is an accomplished painter.

Her collograph print technique sounds quite complex, her skills honed over the past 30 years, but the results are visually stunning. She captures the mood and character of her subject, the dogs are just divine. The collagraph is an impression made from a board or block in which three-dimensional elements are glued. She usually use two plates in her process. The first one is to pull the black and white image with texture and the second plate is a way for her to add color. Many people, including myself, like the black and whites as they are so Bonnie decided to work on some editions that are just black and white. A great result....

You can find out a bit more about her work on her website here, her print-making blog here, and also if you want to treat yourself to a piece of her work you can find her Etsy shop here

Monday, 2 January 2012

Happy New Year

SO... Happy New Year to you all and hope you had a lovely one and got to celebrate in your own special way. We spent ours with family, we saw everyone and it was just divine. On New Years Eve we got to spend time with my gorgeous nephew down on the beach and here is one of the pictures I captured, just before we all ran into the waves and got our feet wet!!

I'm hoping that this year has lots of good things in store, hopefully a lot of creative stuff as well as being able to spend more quality time with family. I have a few ideas for the blog too, so watch this space, Wednesday will be the first 'Featured' slot on the blog and I have been browsing Etsy, looking for some fresh new work from talented artists and designers around the globe.

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