Friday, 29 June 2012

Confetti and stuff

More new work. It's been a while since I've been able to get some new work done, and rather than procrastinate I'm making the effort to just get some new ideas down on paper, rather than keeping them in my head. I've been accepted to take part in the Design Factor 'EMERGE' exhibition at Sock in Loughborough later in the year so I need to get some new work done for that, and I also have a couple of other things coming up to Christmas too. Better to be prepared than rushing to get it all done at the last minute.

I had my first Mentoring Meeting a coupld of weeks ago, I don't think I mentioned it before. It was FAB, everyone should have a mentor! I think is part of the reason I have new found energy and determination to make this creative business work for me. We set off by having a chat about the story so far and then went on to talk about the things I feel I want to concentrate on over the next six months. It was great having someone to talk to who knows what I'm on about, someone who has been where I am now, and can help me envisage where I want to go and also someone who has made me look at things differently. We talked for ages, and covered so much ground, my head was spinning by the time we had finished. BUT I now have a plan of action and have already started to research some new products which I will be launching in September.... watch this space for more details.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Thunderclouds

Another weather inspired piece I've been working on this week. It still doesn't have a name yet but is very fitting for today. So far we've had sweltering sunshine, cloud and thunderstorms with lots of rain, who knows we might even get some hail this afternoon!!

So this week I've been doodling every night as I'm working on a new Coastal Range for one of my stockists. I started working on the images way back in March when we were in Devon on holiday and now I'm just making sure I produce at least one new idea every evening after I get in from work. I think it's really important to make the most of those times when you just feel the need to get new work out of your head and onto paper and I think if you leave behind all of the doubts and just pick your pen/pencil/brush up and just create you can produce some of your best work. I know there are some evenings when all I want to do is draw but there seems to be something stopping me... it's frustarting especialy when you don't know what it is. Does anyone else know what I mean or it is just another strange 'me' thing?

Ok, I have a busy few days ahead, I'm off to try my hand at a spot of collage before I nip off to the airport to pick my friend up from sunny Spain... I hope she's bringing her wellies and mac!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Umbrella... ella...ella...

'You can stand under my umbrella'... new print, a bit of an ode to our June Summer weather (not particularly to Rihanna, although I do like the sentiment!)... fed up with it now, ready for sunshine.....

Monday, 25 June 2012

Sketchbook Peeks - Kirsty Mason



Hi, my name is Kirtsy Mason and I am an embroiderer, I work from my small studio in North Yorkshire and show my work here too. I make framed embroideries and my project over the last few months has been to go “back to basics” and look at my line drawings and sketches of local scenes and the animals around our home and interpret them in machine embroidery as “stitched sketches”. I have used black stitching on a heavy natural linen base to create these pieces and to mimic the look of my drawn sketches.


I have always loved drawing, stitching and making things. As a child I remember stitching buttons onto blankets at my grandmas house, making tiny fairy letters and drawing dragons.


I began using sketchbooks at college when I was taking my City and Guilds in Creative Embroidery. On our first day we were told by our tutor that we would be drawing, sketching and painting and would be unlikely to go anywhere near a needle and thread for our first year!


I sketch as often as I can but not often enough. I am studio based only on a Thursday so that limits things. I generally have a sketchbook tucked in my handbag but don't always feel brave enough to get it out and sketch in public - I am a secret sketcher!


I love new sketchbooks, the uncrumpled pages all shiny and new, I like the expectation and anticipation of how I am going to fill it.

 Inspiration comes from wherever I am, simple line drawings of landscapes or houses or more detailed sketches taken from photos. I have a few different sketchbooks on the go at once, a general A6 size book that fits in my handbag and then a few larger size ones in the studio that I do more detailed work in or project work. I like to flit between them.


I am more freer about what goes in my sketchbooks now, anything goes, sometimes it's not even sketches but just words or notes. In my sketchbooks at the minute I love using pens, especially biros. I always have one in a pocket or in the car, they glide smoothly over the page and I like the "ticking" noise they make when drawing with them - I also love the smell of the ink when you get it layered up nice and thick!


My stonework sketchbook makes me smile as it was the first time I really sketched in public. My children wanted to visit a play centre so I took my book, photos to work from and my pencils, spread them on a table and sketched as the girls played - I was tucked away in the furthest, darkest corner though so no-one would see me!


My favourite page at the moment is the crow page in my latest sketchbook, I think because he has a lovely character and I am excited to see how he's going to develop and what he's going to become.


Thanks to Kirsty for showing us her sketchbooks, if you want to find out more about Kirsty you can visit her website here or follow her on her blog here

Friday, 22 June 2012

Refectory Table Garden Party



Last Sunday I was invited to a Garden Party organised by the lovely Janet Currie and Pete Mosley from The Refectory Table. If you don't know about what they do, you can check out their website, they run business courses from their home with a unique twist, small gatherings, good food and a personal touch. I initially met Pete and Janet at BCTF and have kept in touch with them and their goings on since via social media. I've also read Pete's book 'Make Your Creativity Pay' and am planning a review on the blog when I get around to it, hopefully very soon!

SO when the invitation to their Garden Party came through I thought what a nice opportunity that would be to go and meet other makers and have a chat with Pete and Janet. They very kindly said I could take some of my work to sell on the day and I had the spot in the kitchen, which fit really well with my kitchen themed prints and tea towels.

Now, I didn't know anyone else there (a step out of the comfort zone is always a good thing!) but I soon got chatting to everyone and it turned out to be a lovely day, and it was great to meet so many new faces and chat to everyone! The sun shone and we didn't need to get the waterproofs out at all, Instead we mingled, drank tea and ate cake, courtesy of the Clandestine Cake Club, founder member Lynn Hill was also there, telling us all about her cake philosophy, and she opened proceedings by cutting into the first cake!


The gorgeous work of Helen Rhodes took pride of place in the greenhouse, and the setting of glass and a background of natural brickwork really set it off well. It was great to meet Helen, I've seen her work in several galleries and love her style and themes. I had to treat myself to a selection of her cards, will show pictures later.



Pete and Janet had installed some great viewing tables in their garden and on show was the work of Nita Nathwani, who makes beautiful ceramics, delightful jewellery of Nicollette Potton and more beautiful ceramics and pots by Rachel Wood, whose natural colours fit in perfectly in the garden setting.

 


Inside the house there was more to see with the stunning paper bird sculptures and paper cut pictures of Maxine Greer, above, and the gorgeous prints of Kay Van Bellen (unfortunately my photo of her work was blurred so I couldn't post it!).

It was truly a lovely afternoon, cake, creative chatter and tea, as well as lots of lovely eye candy to tempt you to spend! Thanks to Pete and Janet for the invitation!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Featuring - Beth Tobey



Another great Etsy Find this week, and I just had to show you. You should know by now I'm a complete sucker for screen printed textiles and gorgeous designs... This week I'm featuring Beth Tobey of SweetNature Designs, beautiful tea towels and cushion covers, stunning designs and happy smiley sentiments! Love them!!



Beth Tobey grew up in the Northwest and currently lives in a Seattle suburb with her husband and two school-aged children. Her company, sweetnature designs, began as an avenue to share her love of color and whimsy with others. She starts her days with a run, which is her thinking time, and then fills the remainder of the day with creating new designs either in her mind or with her hands.



Working with ink and fabric allows Beth to combine her love of texture, sewing, color, painting and illustration all at the same time! Her items are all meticulously hand printed with her own illustrations. The designs are whimsical and eclectic, and designed to brighten up your home and or your life. Beth has designed four product lines consisting of kitchen towels, scarves, bags, and pillow covers.


She has created elegant and stylish linen and cotton tea towels, practical yet whimsical fabric bags and purses, colorful and breezy cotton scarves, and eclectic pillow covers. If you would like to find out a bit more about Beth you can visit her Etsy shop here, her Facebook page is here, and her lovely website is here  

Monday, 18 June 2012

Sketchbook Peeks - Niki Walters




Hi there, my name is Niki J Walters and I am a glass artist, amongst other things. I was always creative as a child, but it took until I was 25 to finally get myself to University and complete a Degree in Decorative Arts, where I began working with Kiln Formed Glass for the first time. I instantly worked big, developing bowls and plates, focusing in the colours and textures that I could trap within the layers. I completed my degree and continued to train to be a teacher, whilst setting up my glass studio in Derbyshire. I have not been both a full time teacher and glass artists for a year. This year I had my first trade fair at BCTF in Harrogate and as a result have work available in several galleries around the UK.


I have used sketch books since at college, some 12 years ago. I always have one with me regardless of where I go. I often go though bursts of using my sketch book. I have times where I am really inspired and will use it daily, but other times it may sit in my bag for days without seeing the light of day. I always take my sketch book with me when I travel somewhere new, as I can always guarantee that I will see something that I will doodle about at the very least to inspire me later.


I always feel pressure when starting a new sketch book. I want them to be exciting and interesting to others, but often my first page is filled with single words that for one reason or another I like or want to remember, but mean little to others. Designs and doodles are so new that I may begin working from the back to the front, so that the opening pages are full of life, ideas and are more refined.


I am inspired by so many things. Nature plays a huge part in my work. I love the way that colours and light dance around on water, and sometimes try to recreate that, which I then try to recreate in glass. I am really lucky as I live on a farm. Colours can be found everywhere from the sunset, to the pond, to the patterns found in chicken feathers.


My creative process is very free. I often decide on the colours I want to use before I decide what I want to paint, draw or create. I’m all about the colour. I often paint using ink and love the freedom, along with the fact that you have to go for it with ink. Once it’s on the page there is no going back!


I draw using ink and apply it using a stick or the wrong end of a paintbrush. I don’t know why, but I prefer it. My drawing style is a little different also as I often overlap images. I found that when I did this I would feel that the pages were full and exciting to look at. When I find a shape or style that I like, I would highlight it in someway.

My sketch books have developed over the years. Initially my sketch books show that I was desperate to be creative. Desperate to hit on something that inspired me. These days I know that I am all about texture and colour, so often pages are simply a mass of colour. I don’t necessarily feel that I need to paint something. I simply create colours and explore how they look together.


In my sketchbooks I enjoy working with ink, as it’s strong, vibrant and once it’s on there, there is no going back. Ink is translucent, so I like to build up the colours exploring what depth I can create from layering. I often use fine liners over the top of the ink paintings once dry. Often the ink painting takes on a new form, such as a sunset or sky line.

I don’t currently have a favourite sketch book, however am most fond of a small sketch book I have which is from beginning to end a mass of mixed ink paintings.


I do have one favourite page, and I don’t really know why. The ink painting is very seed like and I simply feel that the colours work really well and the image is complete and complimentary.

I'd like to thank Niki for taking part in my Sketchbook Peeks series. If you want to find out a bit more about the lady behind the blog post you can visit her own website here, you can follow her blog here and you can follow her on Twitter  @njwhouseofglass

Friday, 15 June 2012

Floral inspiration



I spent yesterday at Birmingham NEC at the Gardeners World Live Show. I've visited there a few times and am always amazed and inspired at the beautiful displays of blooms on show. The colours and smells are divine and there is always inspiration to be found amongst the flowers and plants.

This year what really grabbed me were some of the stunning planting combinations, mixing colours I would never normally consider in my own garden, the bright lime greens and dark reds and browns of the foliage. I think I'll be paying a visit to the local garden centre this weekend in search of some new plants to nurture and grow in our little cottage garden...

Today though I'm having my first mentoring meeting as part of the Design Factory Pilot Scheme, which I was lucky enough to be selected for. I've been going through my aplication and trying to get my thoughts into order, thinking about how I'm going to make the most of this fantastic opportunity and do my own bit of 'growing' myself with my work and business. I'm very excited to be working with my new mentor and I'll keep you posted with developments along the way.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

more holiday inspiration




I've been away in my caravan again, back to the beautiful North Yorkshire, but this time further west near the cathedral town of Ripon. We visited Brimham Rocks one day, somewhere I have fond memories of visiting as a child, but this time I went with my husband and my dog. If you have ever been to Brimham Rocks you will know what a wonderful and enchanting place this is, strange granite rock formations rising from the ground, places to play, to hide, to climb, to picnic or just lie back and enjoy the view...

In typical British-weather style we have sunshine one minute and hail stones the next but it didn't stop us exploring. As I always say you never know where you will find inspiration, but these wonderfully strangely shaped rocks certainly fuelled my imagination for the rest of the day...



I spent the evening in the caravan, dog fast asleep, husband ensconced in a book, glass of wine at the ready, all we could hear were the birds and the owls, and I whiled away my evening just doodling. Now that's my idea of a pretty perfect evening.




So with ideas for new work fresh in my mind I've been up to the studio tonight, armed with paint brushes and watercolour box and I've just been having a play with colour, seeing what works and how the paint mixes and flows.... Twatch this space to see how it ends up!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Sketchbook Peeks - Stephanie Richards


My ability to describe and visually interpret the things around me has been apparent from a young age, and even as a child I spent hours filling my early sketchbooks with drawings of trees outside the classroom window and things around the house and garden. Even my school books were illustrated with maps and accompanying imagery, drawn by eye from text books. When I was young, drawing has been a way of really seeing and understanding the world around me and I have since learnt to capture the things that inspire me on paper in my own observational way. It was during my Art and Design Foundation Diploma course at York College that, along with three dimensional design and graphics, I was introduced to the world of textiles. I was hooked after two weeks and spent the rest of the year exploring the field of surface design, which (I was overjoyed to find) encouraged all the areas of design I loved the most: research, drawing techniques and composition.


This path opened so many doors, and eager to learn more about the textile industry and excited at the prospect of broadening my skills in a creative and specialised environment, I enrolled onto a three year BA (Hons) Textiles and Surface Design course at Cleveland College of Art and Design. This college, celebrated for its hands on, traditional approach to design practice, helped me to grow as a designer and nurtured my passion for well exectuted, hand drawn and screen printed surface designs for Interiors.


My drawing sheets, layered with bleeding ink backgrounds, crisp pencil illustrations and flat gouache detail, perfectly demonstrate my aim for my work - to develop hand produced designs which are inspired by the most beautiful remnants of the past but offer themselves as a contemporary interior surface. I graduated with First Class Honours, armed with industry and trade show experience and a portfolio demonstrating my ability to develop, finalise and screen print designs for Interior fabrics and wallcoverings. I originally began using sketchbooks as a visual diary of drawings and paintings inside and outside of school. I now use sketchbooks to document all my experiments and ideas and so they usually include a pattern of sketches and photographs interwoven with things that inspire me.


I try to sketch at least once a week and if I get the chance, prefer to spend a whole day drawing to really get into the flow of where it is going. I cherish every chance I get to draw. I try not to begin a new sketchbook without some sort of plan as to what I will include in it - whether it be a theme, a project or an inspiring object or image. When I have a starting point I find the book will tend to flow by itself and it makes more sense as a result. I work best with a general framework, which means the messy, experiemental side of my process can take place naturally along the way.

When starting a new project I gather my research first and play around with colour, texture and imagery in mood boards until I create an impression of the direction I am going in. Although this almost always changes along the way, it serves as a reminder of my original ideas and sparks new ones when I need inspiration. I usually visit exhibitions and museums and collect photographs from trips and places of interest. I read design magazines, visit design websites and refer to my ever growing collection of beautiful books.


I begin by - researching, collecting, photographing, photocopying, reading, searching, note-taking, visiting, travelling and visualising. I develop and finalise my ideas by - sketching, drawing, mark making, painting, collaging, arranging, repeating, tracing, experimenting, problem solving, sampling, testing, printing and packaging.

My most recent sketchbooks have included my design process from concept to final design, documenting my ideas, thought process and experiment outcomes, so they usually form a structure from start to finish. My early sketchbooks were a collection of individual drawings or a combination of sketches and evaluations of paintings and art works for a particular theme. I have included notes and written reflections in all my sketchbooks to document the things that inspire me and areas to improve on because I find I tend to both make mistakes and learn something new everyday.


It is difficult to choose one medium because I like to experiment with as many as I can and layer them to create different effects. I would have to narrow it down to either ink, due to its versatility, or pencils for fine detail.

I don't have a favourite sketchbook but I do have favourite sections and pages in each one where an idea has developed well and creates a fantastic impression of my theme or project. I am pleased with the last few sketchbooks I produced during my degree because I packed in so much of the knowledge and skill that I had aquired over those three years, and I was really proud of the final result.


There is one page in my very last sketchbook from my major project which included a layout experiements for a design, a watercolour and ink drawing and a layer of tracing paper with detail over the top. Whilst I was painting, a designer (Helen Stevens) who was visiting our course commented on how much she liked it, and I am reminded of her kind comment everytime I see it.


Stephanie is currently taking on commission work, developing new surface designs for Interior products and wallcoverings, as well as networking and visiting design and trade fairs. You can find out more about Stephanie on her blog here and also follow her on Twitter @stephkateprint

Thanks for taking part Stephanie, its been great to peek into your sketchbooks....

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