Wednesday, 20 November 2013

The Harley Christmas Market

So where will you be this weekend? Starting your Christmas shopping?

If you want a high quality hand crafted show, full of exciting wares by a selection of the UK's best Designer-Makers then come along to the Harley Gallery Christmas Market. It's open from 2-7pm Friday 22nd November and then 10-5 Saturday and 10-4 Sunday. As well as the Art and Food Market the Studios will also be open, so you will have the chance to visit the Makers who have studios there, and see how they do it. It'll be a lovely day out!! Hope to see you there!!

There's a full list of exhibitors here and there is something for everyone, jewellery by Adele Taylor, mosaics by Angela Ibbs, ceramics by Bridget McVey, delicate lace by JC Middlebrook, luxury printed textiles by Sky Siouki  and prints by James Green, to name but a few.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Taking my time

Hi there, I'm still here just in case you were wondering where I had got to. Been busy beavering away in the background, sorting stock for selling fairs and exhibitions, travelling to and fro, frantically trying to tidy up the studio so the four walls don't feel as though they are closing in on me! It does feel a bit like studio-tetris at the moment, not quite enough room for everything, or quite enough space to manoeuvre things in and out. The only time it ever seems tidy is when the car is packed to the brim and I'm off to a fair or show.

As I have hinted in the previous couple of blog posts I have been doing a lot of pondering recently about the things I am enjoying/not enjoying about my business at the moment and I want to redress the balance. Some of the tasks I found really enjoyable this time last year are now becoming draining and more of a challenge and I'm consistently finding I'm not getting time to do some of the things I really want. All of this thinking and pondering has lead me to a big decision. 

I have decided that from January 2014 I'm taking several months off (I'm thinking 6??) from new events and projects and instead I'm planning some quality time in the studio and out and about. I think I need to get back in touch with creating 'just because' rather than working to someone else's time scale and brief. Although I love my illustrations and working with ink, I want to spread my wings and rediscover the other media I love such as watercolour, ceramics and print.

I've been researching this idea already and I've been pleasantly surprised about the things I am reading. From the informative and inspiring blog detailing Johanna Basford's creative sabbatical, to the TED Talk by Stefan Sagmeister I hear one strong message coming through, we can all benefit from taking a break.

I want to get inspired again, rather than feeling I have to stick to the same formula, allow space and time for new ideas, rather than feeling under pressure to meet deadlines and demands. I know I'm lucky to be in the position to choose this path, as I also have a job which pays my bills, but I think if I want to be serious about the longevity of my creative business I need to give myself some time to experiment and grow....

Does this sound familiar? Is anyone else feeling the same? Have you had a break from your creative business and how did it feel?

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Inspired by...

a trip last Sunday to Newstead Abbey... 

A well needed break as I have been feeling a bit under the weather lately so we decided to get up early on the Sunday morning when the clocks went back and made the most of the glorious morning and took ourselves off to Newstead Abbey for an explore and a trip down memory lane for my hubby.

Even though it didn't seem like a good idea when I had to drag myself out of bed, not feeling tip top and hoping to make the most of the extra hour in bed, I really enjoyed getting out and taking in the scenery. It has made me realise how easy it is to become blinkered, stale, tired and uninspired, so I have made a few decisions about next year in the hope that I will feel quite the opposite - eyes wide open, creatively refreshed and inspired!

I'm going to spend some time getting back to basics again with my creativity, exploring a few different techniques and enrolling on a couple of courses and workshops to get the creative juices flowing. It has been a busy couple of years for me, I'm really pleased with what I have achieved through the mentoring course and beyond, but now I feel as though the time has come to step back from feeling as though I have to do and try everything, taking every opportunity that comes my way, and instead just slow down for a while, regroup and begin exploring my creativity and trying new ideas, experimenting and playing again and just see where this leads.

I feel a break from the non-stop busy-ness will do me the world of good and hopefully it will give me some reflective thinking time, after what has been a very busy and exciting two years. It will give me time to think about what I want from my creative endeavours and put me back in touch with the real reasons I started this journey in the first place.... I know I've rambled on, I think what I'm trying to say is, I just feel like I need to reconnect with myself. Does anyone else ever feel like that??

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Oops I did it again!!

So it's that time of year again when I slap myself on the forehead and wonder why I have committed myself to so many things in the run up to Christmas. It always seems like a good idea at the time when i start booking things in but then as deadlines start approaching I can feel the mild stirrings of panic setting in. I'm on top of things but feel a though I could just do with an extra hour in every day and an extra day in the week!

I've been very busy with preparation for my Upcoming shows and am looking forward to my debut appearance at The Art Market in Holmfirth next weekend and also the superb Harley Christmas Market from 22nd to 24th of the month. I will be launching my new range of ceramics here so if you're in the area please come along and tell me what you think of them!!

That's not all though, I'm pleased to say I'm exhibiting with two other artists, Helen Hallows and Fiona Wilson throughout December and you can find out work at the Prints Charming Exhibition at SOCK gallery in Loughborough. our preview is on Friday 6th December and the exhibtion will run until the beginning of January 2014. This will be the first time I have taken part in an exhibition of this scale and I am excited to be taking a broad selection of my work.

December will see me taking a well needed break (once the exhibition is all set up) and spending some time planning my pursuits for 2014, this is going to include some very much needed research and development time for new work as well as a couple of creative courses to help expand my practice. I'm planning to take a step away from direct selling events and will be concentrating on getting my online presence sorted out and brand new online shops in place. So if you do want to come and see me to buy something for yourself or your loved ones before Christmas then you only have two chances.... Holmfirth and Harley. If not you can always drop me a line if three is something in particular you are after.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Sketchbook Peeks - Helen Lang from Wetpaint

I've been an admirer of the work of Helen Lang from Wetpaint ever since I saw one of her gorgeous colourful prints in a lovely design shop in Nottingham a few years ago. I then saw her designs on some books in Waterstones and was really drawn to the colours and subject matter. As you know I'm a huge fan of birds and trees so another reason I love Helen's work. Helen is based in London and has worked with an impressive array of clients, including John Lewis and Harper Collins Publishing.

I feel honoured to have Helen's delightful sketchbooks on the blog this week. I asked her about her sketchbooks and her creative processes and this is what she had to say....

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

Hullooo.. okay, well I now describe myself as a freelance illustrator, 3 years into my fulltime freelancing career. I’ve always drawn and created work for family and friends and was also previously employed in creative roles. My first being that of a product designer in a greeting card and cracker manufacturing company. I also worked for over 5 years as an illustration agent and in my more recent past I worked in the creative design team at an art and card publishing company

However, in late 2010 I started to realise that I wanted to explore the talent I felt I had and I day dreamt of going freelance. I started to draw up a list of things I wanted to achieve and had some very strong goals in my mind. Slowly through a series of happenings, (meeting my current partner who was extremely supportive about my ideas, the company that I then worked for going into insolvency and the death of my grandmother) and working on new ideas and taking part in exhibitions, my work started to evolve and I began to explore a new style and approach to my work. I became more dedicated to finding out what I could achieve in my own artwork after years of supporting, promoting and researching other artists and designers.

How long have you been using sketchbooks? 

Essentially I've been using sketchbooks from when I was a kid. When I was really little it was sheets of wallpaper stapled together to make a book and then when I was older I used to thread together sheets of folded coloured and flouro paper from my dads work (he was a printer so I used all the off cuts) and made sketchbooks out of that. More recently though its A4 in shape and is usually a Pukka pad or a little A5 moleskine one I keep in my bag with me.

How often do you sketch? 

I have to hold my hands up and say I don’t sketch enough. I have spurts of ideas on themes that I want to explore so my pukka pads and notebooks are usually stuffed with old bits of paper or invoices I’ve drawn on the back of in a hurry. Its all just stuffed into the cover of the sketchpad and kept

How do you feel about the prospect of starting a new sketchbook?

Love the feel of a new sketchbook but I think I have a tendency to get a bit precious about the first page so I usually get one or some of the kids in the family to draw on the first couple of pages to break it in !!

When/where do you get your inspiration for your sketchbook pages? 

I'm a massive fan of pinterest at present. Its a great resource of ideas and knowledge of artists old & new. Work and artwork inspiration can also come from absolutely anywhere! I get inspired by lettering on old packaging, graffiti, music flyers, interior and music magazines, album covers, engravings, adverts etc; inspiration and influence really comes from everywhere.


How would you describe your creative process? 

Lots of thinking, tea drinking and procrastinating…and then a big flurry of ideas and trying to get things down on paper !! …And a steady hand when creating the final artwork

Have your sketchbooks evolved over the years and if so, how? 

I think my sketchbooks have remained relatively constant -­‐ I’m not sure if that's a good or bad thing? I think I can be a little formulaic in my approach and that is something I hope to change with some new line markers and pens. I used to draw a lot in biro initially which leaves no room for correction or editing and more recently in a very fine pencil which allows more control over the line and small mark making detail.

What is your favourite medium to work with? 

I work initially in pencil and then artwork final pieces in gouache and a very thin sable brush.I love the flow of a line with a brush and ink. However saying that more recently I’ve become aware of some amazing looking calligraphic marker pens which I’m going to purchase and test over the next few months.

Do you have a favourite sketchbook? 

Not really if I’m honest. But I do like to look back and see the development of work and ideas and will often return to pages or characters that I’ve previously created and develop them into something more detailed and finished.

Well, I'm sure you will all agree it's been fascinating to hear all about Helen's work. If you want to find out more about her you can check out her website here

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