Monday, 3 November 2014

new beginnings

I've been away from the blog and the website, in fact most things 'creative' due to a manic period of mayhem at home and work. I've been working extra at my day job prior to finishing, and I've also been away for a few days and have been celebrating with my lovely ex-colleagues at my leaving dos. But now I can breathe a small sigh of relief while I gather my thoughts and think ahead to this new chapter in my life.


As you can see below I haven't just been twiddling my thumbs in the background, but I've been frantically working away to get my Christmas Cards ready for launch, and that has kept me busy in the limited spare time I've had. These designs have been sitting on my to-do list for a while now and I finally got the nudge I needed a few weeks ago and went ahead with them and got them printed up.

I'm really pleased with how they have turned out - you can now buy all five designs in packs of five cards, blank for your own festive message from
the shop


So now it's time to think ahead, plan my to-do lists for the rest of the year and work out what I need to do over the next few months to keep driving my business forward. It will be great to have more time to spend on my business, as well as getting some experience with a new temporary job that I start tomorrow - it's all change, something I tend not to cope with comfortably, but I know that this is necessary change which will lead to a more fulfilled, satisfying and happy life. Wish me luck!!


For every new beginning there has to be a preceding end - so to mark this new chapter in my own creative life I'm migrating over to my website blog fulltime now so will sadly be saying goodbye to this blog - which has been my blogging home since my rebrand in 2010 - if you wouldb like to follow me on the next part of the journey please click here and you'll be taken to the NEW BLOG!!

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Maintaining the right mindset

I've just read a blog post by Jo Gifford, Dexterous Diva, about the challenges of maintaining the mindset a successful entrepreneur or creative business owner and this really made me think about my own journey over the past three years and how I've struggled at times with my mindset. Some of Jo' top tips and points really resonated with me and helped me to put into words how I came out of my creative dip and what I'd do that helped.

Jo Gifford - Dexterous Diva
I don't know about you but I love the buzz of running my own business, the fact I can decide what kind of work I do, what time to get out of bed in a morning, what yo wear, how to fit my dog walk into my day, when to book my meeting and appointments and just generally how to be my own boss. So what do we do when the days that don't go as well as we would have liked or when doubt start to creep in and make us question our own ability and vision?
I got to this point late in 2013. In 2012 things went so well for me I couldn't really have wished for anything more. 2013 started well but then things started to go down hill. A disastrous trade fair experience and a few selling fairs which didn't go as planned. Add into this the beginning of the most stressful twelve months in my other job and all that entailed and I was ready for throwing in the creative towel. I felt like it was all just too much effort for the returns I was seeing and this was making me question why I was even attempting this chosen path. I just couldn't be bothered to haul my work to selling fairs anymore, couldn't face the thought of working on my new website and getting it ready for the public to see, my blogging suffered and dropped off to a handful of halfhearted blog posts, pondering the reasons why I was feeling the way I was, and mulling over my future course.

So what led to my change of heart and what have I learned so I can reduce the chances of this happening again in the future? I've really struggled with how to put into words and understand how I came back but Jo has really helped me to see what has worked for me. In her blog post she mentions a few things you should do when you are feeling low and can't recapture the lost feelings  of positivity:

  • Look back and see how far you have come - this always works for me. I am an avid list maker so it's always great to look back at my achievements which have been recorded in my todo lists. Doing this gives me a very realistic interpretation of where I was at any given time, things I was dealing with and going through, and things achieved as tasks were crossed of my list.
  • Rediscover your flow and reconnect with yourself - through enrolling on an Ecourse and a couple of workshops run by other artists helped me to reconnect with myself, looking at what inspired me and helping me to make sense of my own journey. It made me pick up a pen, pencil, charcoal and get back to basics and get something down on paper again. This felt good.
  • Stepping out and getting away - my creative sabbatical was a conscious decision to step away from my business. I knew it was something I needed to do. I was starting to really fall out with my work and everything I had previously loved to do. I took time to go away in the caravan, didn't take a sketchbook with me, I started reading more, the escape of fiction giving me valuable headspace and distance from the business. There is a wonderful quote which jo mentions in her posts which is all about the miracle happening when you are gone. This is so true.
I slowly started to feel my old self return, the embers of my enthusiasm were once again stoked and glowing and I started to swap my choice of fiction to creative business books and those old feeling I had so enjoyed throughout 2012 returned. As you've probably gathered I'm now feeling back to my old self and I'm loving the way I'm feeling about my business. I'm ready for new challenges and opportunities and ready to embrace a life with less of my old job in it and more creativity!

If you'd like to read Jo's other top tips for things to do when you are feeling crappy and useless you can read her full post here. Her website nad blog is jam packed full with other gems such as this, and if anyone is able to inspire you to maintain your mindset it is Jo.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Transforming inspiration

transforming inspirationI’m really interested in the creative process and how different artists and designers work – how do they take their initial inspiration for an idea and transform it into a final piece of work. My series of sketchbook interviews on my last blog ‘Sketchbook Peeks’ gave us a glimpse into the sketchbooks of a wide selection of artist and designer-makers and I was constantly intrigued into the different ways that we all work. In today’s I’m going to share with you and example of how my original ink illustration Truly Madly Deeply came into existence.


The idea for my topiary trees in Truly Madly Deeply came from a day out at Thorpe Perrow in North Yorkshire one Mother’s Day weekend when my Mam and I spent the day wandering around the gardens and enjoying the daffodils. We came across these unusual looking trees and as soon as I saw them I just knew I had to take some photos and include the beautiful forms into my work.


I think this goes to prove that you never really know where you will find your next bit of inspiration, which is why it’s a great idea to always carry a camera or sketchbook with you when you are out and about.

I’d love to hear where you found the inspiration for your current piece of work – feel free to leave a comment below.

Friday, 19 September 2014

open for business

Hi folks, I can’t believe it’s Friday already. I’m blogging this morning with a bit of excited news. I’m super-pleased to announce that I launched the Sue Bulmer online shop last night so I’m now officially  OPEN FOR BUSINESS (and I’ve already had some orders!!)

It has taken 11 months from my last website closing down to get to get to this point and it hasn’t been a walk in the park, let me tell you! It has taken me what seems like AGES to get here. I suppose during those 11 months I did step away from the business for a while as explained here so that did delay things somewhat. Making a new website was the last thing on my mind for much of that time but I’m pleased to say I got there in the end (a big thanks of course going to Heather Maloney of The Design Engine)

One of the biggest challenges for me was the task of product photography. It has seemed like a never ending process; setting up the shots, sorting out composition, editing, saving them at the correct size for the site and then seeing what they look like online. It has caused me hours of frustration but I think I got there in the end. I’m really grateful to those of you who left me valuable feedback on my Facebook page about styling, it really did help.

Why not pop over and have a look for yourself. I’d love to know what you think?

Thursday, 18 September 2014

The benefits of a creative break

Benefits of a Creative BreakAt the end of 2013 I was well and truly fed-up with being creative. I never thought I would ever feel that way since starting up my own creative business in 2011. I had just completed a Creative Business support programme in 2010 and I was ready to start on my own, building on all the things I’d learned throughout the previous year.

To cut a long story short, I spent the next couple of years working on my product ranges, developing my illustrative style, gaining stockists, forming solid working relationships with other creatives and collaborating as and when I could. I was applying to, and getting accepted for the shows and fairs I had previously aspired to and I was generally feeling really good about how things were panning out.

But things took a bit of a down turn. After a less than successful second trade fair where I made a bit of a blunder with my new range and then a few selling events when I barely covered my costs, I began to falter. I lost my confidence and drive and found that I was starting to dread the weekends when I would have to pack up my whole studio into those blue IKEA bags, haul it all to the next fair and bring most of it back home again at the end of it. I was losing the sparkle and enjoyment of something I had previously loved and it was making me question WHY I was doing it and whether I even wanted to continue.

Around about this time my other job was also providing me with my fair share of challenges and with Christmas looming I also had the general busy-ness of the good old festive season to deal with and a seemingly endless list of things to do. I strongly believe that sometimes life is like juggling a set of balls, there are only so many you can keep in the air at one time without dropping one. With this is mind I knew something had to give and I decided to spend some time away from the business to preserve my sanity!!  And so my creative break or sabbatical began! You can read all about it here in these three blog posts which I wrote at the end of 2013…

So I had time away, did some of the things that I set out to do in this blog post  (doing more sketching, taking my sketchbook out and about with me, taking an e-course and an painting workshop etc) and just like that things started to change . I slowly started to get my enthusiasm back. I met up with a Design Factory colleague which made me feel a lot better when we went over my wish list I had in 2011 when I first joined Design Factory and I was happy to realise I had achieved nearly all of the things I had set out to do.

Having had my own creative break, which yes, I admit, I was fortunate enough to be able do, and now feeling like I’m back there are a few things I have learned that I wanted to share:

  • Like everything else, creativity has its ups and downs, embrace both, they are both part of the journey
  • There’s nothing wrong with taking time out – pushing yourself on through times of low motivation can sometimes do more harm than good – know your limits. Even if you can spare a day away, it’s better than nothing.
  • Time away gives you great perspective – and that is something that I carry through other areas of my life too. When you run a creative  business you ARE the business and sometimes you are too close to it to see things clearly. Having time away and doing something completely different can help you gain clarity and perspective
  • Everyone needs time off – and coming to realise and accept that makes it a whole lot easier to do. Don’t give yourself a hard time about it. You’re not a failure, just normal.
  • Talking to other creative people really helped me – it’s great to get the perspective of others. Surrounding yourself with positive and understanding people makes such a difference and can even help banish your negative feelings and pull you back up again.


Wednesday, 17 September 2014

30 Day Blogging Challenge

So I mentioned yesterday I was back to the blog after having had some time away - and what better way to get back into it than a 30 Day Blogging Challenge (which you can find out all about here.) I'd noticed that Jenny Creasey from Itch Gallery had been doing and she kindly told me all about it yesterday, it sounded so good that I signed up straight away. I think this is exactly what I need to get me back into the habit of blogging. This is officially Day 2 - so I have a long way to go but lots of great things I want to share with you. I will be revisiting some of the old favourites as I migrate across to Wordpress - the most popular one was all about Writing a Sale or Return agreement, as well as others about preparing for trade shows, getting to know your customers, approaching galleries with your work, how to deal with creative ups and downs and things you can do to help your inspiration and creativity.

I've also got lots to tell you about what I've been up to for the past 8 months, what I have learned whilst stepping away from my creative business for a while and the benefits it had brought to me, as well as the things in the pipeline that I have coming up before Christmas and going into 2015.
So for now, I had better get on with my shop so it's all ready for launch later in the week..... See you tomorrow!

By the way I will be posting the 30 day blogging challenge to both blogs and then I will be kissing Blogger goodbye and migrating totally over to my new website

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

back to the blog

Hi there people, its been a while since I've blogged as there have been so many things going on here. Firstly there was my well-needed creative break which I have really benefited from. Initially it was only going to be from January until March but then it kind of expanded to cover most of the summer. I'm going to blog about it in more detail soon. Then there was the fabulous e-course Unearth Gather Create by the very talented tutor and my friend Gillian Lee Smith, which I am still working through. It's been fantastic to learn more about colour, technique and working in different media. I've still not completed all of the lessons but will be trying to squeeze some in over the next few months. There's been the new website (ta dah!! which I'm really proud of I must say, although getting to grips with wordpress has been a challenge!), as well as some important changes in my job,(more about that soon) and lots of weekends away over the summer in our lovely caravan, visiting lots of places in the UK. So although it has been refreshing and revitalising to take some time away from my business it's great to be back.


So you might be wondering what I have planned for the next few months.... Well, of course there will be the shop launch later this week, which has been long awaited as far as I'm concerned. Just a few more tweaks and a few 'never-seen-before' products to add and then I will ready to press 'publish' and you can spend all your hard earned cash on my goodies. There is an extensive collection of prints, cards and tea towels as well as some screen prints in colour and some mixed media work.

I'm hoping to hold a sale of some of my older work. I seem to be out-growing the studio at the moment, so I really need to make some space for new work. And also I plan to hold an Open Studio Day and just need to clarify the date for that. If you haven't seen it already there is the fab commission giveaway to celebrate the new website  - all you need to do is sign up the newsletter at the bottom of the page before the end of November and I will be holding a prize draw on December 1st.

You will be able to see me at the Harley Christmas Market once again this year. This is a great Christmas fair and one of my very favourites where you can find an extensive range of high quality hand made and crafted good, from jewellery to ceramics, textiles and art. The resident artists studios are also open and this is great opportunity to see where the magic happens and visit and chat to the makers in their studios.
So that's all the news for now. I will be back to a more regular blogging schedule from now on - I've set myself a blogging challenge which a colleague of mine told me about. More soon....

Monday, 1 September 2014

Hurray- the new website has landed

So hello there my dear blog readers - I just wanted to let you all know that my new website went live today and to celebrate I'm having a giveaway!! All you need to do is to sign up to the newsletter on my new site and you have the chance to win a personalised original commission (yes your very own Sue Bulmer original drawn just for YOU!!) The details can all be found here

So as you can see my new website also has a blog included so I will be leaving blogger (sniff sniff!)and heading on over to Wordpress (eek!!) - I will continue to post on here for a few more week as well until I get fully used to my new pad and then will eventually totally move and stop posting here.

Monday, 11 August 2014


Well hi there again I'm glad to say I'm back - lots of exciting things have been going on in the background and lots of exciting news to share - the biggest being that I've finally taken a big step towards a major reshuffle as far as my work life goes - I've resigned from my job and am hoping to spend lots more time on my creative business in the very near future, I've been thinking about it for a while but something was holding me back, and I think it was fear of the unknown, and the fear of giving up my financial security. My husband has been very supportive of my decision, work have been fantastic and very understanding and I'm starting to feel the stirrings of excitement and possibility rather than the sheer panic I felt when I first decided what I was going to do. It was very 'un-me' thing to do as I normally think decisions like this through to the nth degree but this time i just went with my gut feeling and did it!!!

Secondly I have lots planned for the rest of the year. Whilst I haven't planned any Christmas selling events I will be launching my new website and shop in September, celebrating with a weekly giveaway each week during that month. Then I'm holding a big Facebook sale in October (watch out for some amazing bargains) and an Open Studio in November. So I think that the rest of the year is going to be busy but I'm feeling in a place now where I have recovered my enthusiasm and drive so sky's the limit now, who knows what is around the corner. Someone said to me this week 'leap and the net will appear' and that has already been proved to me in this last week. 

I think now I just need to pace myself, and having said goodbye to some of my daily stresses I think I will be much more equipped to approach my creative work with a more balanced and consistent state of mind. Hurray, let good time roll!!

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Just 'being'....

I just wanted to drop by and say hello and I'm still here, just taking a bit of time out enjoying the summer, lots of time away in my caravan, exploring the great British countryside, out walking with husband and dog, reading Jane Austen books, working through my ecourse, and just generally enjoying 'being' rather than the constant 'doing' of the past couple of years. The break is great, the pressure is off and I'm just enjoying life, but that's not to say I'm disappearing.... I will be back later on this year when I launch my brand new website celebrating with a great big studio sale... Watch this space everyone - it'll be worth the wait!!

See you soon x

Thursday, 8 May 2014

New habits

Have you ever got so caught up with your creative direction that you become blinkered to change or to doing things differently? You know what works for you so you stick to your tried and tested success recipe? It's so easy to slip into a comfortable and familiar way of working, it feels good and it works for you, and you do it so often it becomes second nature. This can be great, the work flows and everything seems rosy. I feel this has been me for the last few years, I got into a groove and went with it, I've had a fab time, and have achieved lots more than I ever thought I would. But what happens when you start feeling stale, unfulfilled or just plain bored with what you are doing? You lose one of your magic ingredient, and the recipe you have been working with no longer works for you....

Well, you know the expression 'a change is as good as a rest'? I think it just might be true. The course I'm currently taking (Unearth, Gather, Create) has un-blinkered me - the prompts and tasks I have done so far are stretching me to work and think in ways I haven't before and I'm loving it. Writing, for example, has never really been part of my creative process, unless of course you count the endless lists I used to compile for myself on a weekly basis. This was writing but in its most practical sense!! 

Unearth, Gather, Create is encouraging me to incorporate creative writing and journaling into my practice, something I initially really struggled with. Remember that beautiful leather bound journal I mentioned a while ago? I've been using that to write in, but seem to have been going round in circles with the things I was saying and it seemed pointless. Something in this process seemed to be jarring and not quite coming naturally and it was niggling away at me. Then one of the lesson prompts seems to just make it click into place. 

My practical side was battling with the creative side - I wasn't writing the things I thought I 'should' be, but I couldn't work out what it was I 'should' be writing. When the penny finally dropped, I realised that there isn't really a prescribed formula to this writing lark, everyone is unique, and you just have to try to find the formula that works for you, so I decided to just start making notes from the tutorials, and plans and ideas soon came tumbling out onto the paper... Then the lightbulb went on and I realised I was doing it, just writing.... creatively.... No disjointed unsatisfactory feelings of inadequacy, just writing.
So, my point is, after my rather long winded explanation, I've now formed a new habit of writing as part of my creative process and I think it is helping, with the thought provoking prompts from Gillian, to help me for the jigsaw pieces of my own creativity back together in a new and exciting way. I can't way to see what it will look like when it's completed....

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Why I enrolled on an ecourse...


Have you ever thought that ….
  • you don’t have any ideas to develop work from
  • you have difficulty knowing where or how to begin in developing your own style.
  • you want to expand your own personal language in mark-making and expression.
  • you want to go beyond being inspired by other artists but think everything has been done before.
  • you want to develop your own unique style and create art that you are deeply connected with.
  • you have the skills to create art, but it no longer excites you.

These words spoke to me!! This was the opening statement for the Ecourse I enrolled on earlier this year. The timing was perfect, I'd decided to have a few months away from the work I had been doing, and I thought this was the ideal tool to help me achieve some perspective during 2014. I will admit, yes I was sceptical, having never participated in such a course before, I didn't know how it would all work and whether I could even achieve any of the above within the allotted time, but I thought I'd take a chance and treat myself anyway.

Having gathered my materials, nervously anticipated the first week of lessons and started to work my way through the tasks and exercises I can say it has already got me to think about my art and creativity in ways I never have before. It has been like going back to school. Gillian's style of teaching makes it so easy to connect with what she has set out to achieve with this course, and I'm finding myself listening to the tutorial ideas, making notes and setting out my goals and ideas for the course.

Last week, after I got back from Wales is decided to go right back to the beginning and started to explore the mark making lesson. It was great to get my hands dirty and rediscover the contents of my cupboard. It felt like Christmas had come again as I started to unearth my stash of art supplies, most of which had been long forgotten as my obsession with black ink and white paper had grown over the past couple of years. There has been no space for dirty finger marks and dust and smudges in my studio with the work I had been making recently so it felt a bit strange to break out the charcoal and blending sticks, pastels and erasers and just make some marks onto paper. But the more I did, the more I realised what I have been missing and it felt amazing to start to see that there is more to my creative direction than intricate ink, pristine and precise line. So already you can see what a difference this course could potentially make to me.... I'll be blogging about it as I go.... Feel free to join me!!

Sunday, 27 April 2014


So I've been away a while, it's getting to that time of year when the draw of the caravan and the time 
we can spend away from home exploring new places becomes irresistible and I find myself thinking about where we are off to next in the lovely country in which we are lucky enough to live. Last week was Wales, (although it doesn't seem long since we were just back from Devon) and we had a lovely relaxing week, filling our days with walking, taking in the views of the glorious Welsh coastline, taking time to read books, sketch, play Scrabble.... It is over far too quickly and I now find myself heading back to work tomorrow... But next weekend is Bank holiday.... Hurray!!

I also feel I haven't had a lot to share recently, I've turned inward, puzzled with how I have been feeling,  and have been mulling things over a lot, thinking about my direction, reasons why I've chosen my creative path, and why I've been feeling a distinct lack of enthusiasm and motivation, and I have wanted to spare you the boredom of reading about it all!!

But... Eureka Moment... Enrolling on a fabulous e-course Unearth Gather Create by my good friend Gillian Lee Smith earlier this year..... I must admit I was slightly concerned about what it would all entail, and how I would fit it in around work and life, but having been feeling the way I have for a few uninspired months I think it was the right thing to do. 

Lessons started at the beginning of April and I couldn't wait to see what they contained. Needless to say I haven't been able to keep up with them, as the content has been so full of depth and scope, very thought provoking and just what I need at the moment. I'm going to blog more about what I've done so far, what I have unearthed and discovered. I've incorporated writing into my creative practice at Gillian's suggestion and have already come up with a few of the answers which had so far eluded me. 

If you are feeling curious about this ecourse and what it entails let me direct you to the website where you can find out more.

there is another intake in June if you are tempted to register....

Friday, 4 April 2014

Back from Devon and a new e-course

A few Devon delights from our recent holiday in Riverside Cottage near Sidmouth. What a beautiful part of the country. I've come home feeling inspired by the beautiful countryside and scenery, as well as the wealth of creativity I found in some of the most lovely galleries.

This week I'm starting my first ever e-course Unearth, Gather, Create which I'm really excited about. the first class is next week, so I hope you'll be following me and what I get up to. I'm looking forward to the journey.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

collecting imagery

I've been out and about today photographing some of the beautiful Derbyshire scenery. I've always wanted to just hit the road and go wherever I feel and stop where I want to. With the dog walked, and tea already made before 10am this morning, I was well-prepared, armed with my camera, sketchbook, tank full of fuel and a hint of sunshine in the air.

These are some of the snaps I took - they are all going to be developed and put into the image bank, and I'll be adding to them next week when I'm in Devon.

I'll be back in April, see you all then

Monday, 17 March 2014

Rewriting the rules

I've been a bit quiet lately - a lot of thinking has been going on and I haven't really had much to say that you haven't heard already. The conflicting feelings I mentioned in my last post have faded a little as I've been doing a lot of thinking and soul searching about 'creativity' and all it entails. After much deliberation, wondering what I was even trying to achieve, and why it wasn't working, I realised I was just going about it all the wrong way. 

Let me explain.... The reason I decided to pursue a creative direction in the first place was because I wanted to be in the driving seat, master of my own destiny and all that!! I wanted to call the shots myself, rather than feeling I had to dance to someone else's tune. The whole point being that I don't have to follow anyone else's rules, I can follow my own, I just think the ones I had made up for myself a few months ago were wrong, which led to the conflict and worry, lack of enjoyment and motivation. 

When I decided to have a creative break after the busy last months of 2013 I thought I should set myself a deadline of six months so come up with the goods for my next body of work, therefore subconsciously putting myself under pressure to perform and losing the enjoyment and spontaneity in the process. I've come to realise that wasnt working (and why) so I've rewritten the rules. I've now decided to take as much time as I need, rather than just six months, and to think of it as a BIG investment in creative-me, to do the things I enjoy and to not think about the end results. 

So that's it, I've given myself a good talking to, had a rethink, rewritten my rules and I feel a load better.

Watch this space, I'm looking forward to starting my first ecourse in about three weeks time, so I'm sure I will have lots onto share. 

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Am I overthinking it??

Well dear blog readers I cannot believe we are nearing the end of February and I'm already a third of the way through the six months of my 'sabbatical' - my 2014 period of exploration and experimentation. I have something to admit though, I am having mixed feelings about it and I'm not sure about how it is going. I'm not sure I'm actually achieving anything at all..... And I'm not sure I'm enjoying it as much as I thought I would.

As I have said before I'm very task and goal driven, I love nothing more than a list of things to work through so I can visualise my achievements at any given time. I think achieving keeps me going. I think that this is what motivates me, having tasks to do, places to be, lists to write and tasks to tick of when completed. I think the current lack of this may be why I am struggling with the whole sabbatical thing at the moment.

Im not even sure what the problem is, which makes it even more frustrating, as I don't know how to put it right. I think most creative people would be over the moon to have this time to explore their work. I can't work out why I'm not enjoying the process more than I am? 

I think my studio days, which used to be a whirlwind of activity are now quiet and peaceful studio days, no real concrete aims and tasks, just doing what I feel like, but, crazily, this is making me feel unsettled and unfulfilled. Am I expecting too much of my free and easy days, am I expecting too much of myself, and am I putting myself under pressure to create. I seem to be having trouble just enjoying the fact that I have time on my hands to fill as I choose. The thoughts of free time seems to be paralysing me when I enter the studio, I end up creating nothing I like, and then leave hours later with a feeling of disappointment.... What's wrong with me??

Luckily I've enrolled on Unearth, Gather, Create - an ecourse by the talented Gillian Lee Smith, which starts in April. I've gathered my materials from the list, and have invested in a selection of paper, ink, brushes and paint, have started writing in a journal as part of my creative process, so I'm just hoping that things start to flow soon. 

Please someone tell me it's not just me feeling like this!! It is just the vestiges of winter affecting my brain, am I lacking sunlight and vitamin D.... I'm hoping so, bring on the spring!!!

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Monoprint and paint

One of my favourite media when I was at college was mono printing, I loved the line quality it produced. In my quest for a new direction I thought I would dig out my old printing inks and have a go with some basic landscape images. My aim was to simplify the landscapes and break them down into very simple shapes, using line, and then to try to fill in the colours later.... This is what happened...

It was really interesting to see how the ink and paint merged and mixed and how the line developed when water was added. I've always been very interested in the use of line in my work, which can be seen from way back even in my old school sketchbooks. I've been experimenting with my new brush pen and the new paintbrushes I've recently bought and looking at the different kinds of line I can produce using different pens, pencils, brushes and papers.

 I recently heard a review of the new Hockney Exhitbion in Dulwich so I'm treating myself in a few weeks time to go and visit and explore how his use of line informs his work.... I also need to work on some composition as I'm drawing the same landscapes from photos and the windows of my house and am just getting a bit bored with them, so I'm off for a long weekend to Yorkshire, one of my favourite stomping grounds to gain some inspiration from the beautifully wild landscapes up there. 

I'm also very excited to have enrolled onto Unearth, gather, create - an ecourse by the talented Gillian Lee Smith. That starts in April so I'm hoping it will give me an injection of enthusiasm, which I seem to be lacking at the moment. This grey rainy weather is getting me down, I can't wait for spring to arrive!!

Friday, 7 February 2014

Incorporating line

Today I've been out and about with my sketchbook and camera, checking out the inspiration on my doorstep. The Trent valley contains some typically English rolling hills, it is very agricultural, and being a farmers daughter myself, I love to see the effect that man has had on the landscape, the undulations of the land accentuated by tractor treads, the lines of seed sown each autumn, the furrows ploughed and the barley swaying in the early summer..... Ahhh... Happy memories of growing up on a farm..

But for now, Nottinghamshire is my home and here are some of the shots I took today, a brighter day than we have had of late, the sun even showed his face. Is spring around the corner? I hope the snowdrops I saw this morning are a sign it is truly on its way....

On returning home the studio, the paper I had stretched earlier had dried, so I was pleased to have patiently prepared. My task for the afternoon: four different representation of the same image. I decided initially to try to base today's experiments on line, having just bought myself a lovely new pen-brush and also I wanted to see how it compared to ink, water soluble and resistant.... It was great to see how the quality of line changed throughout. Such fun!! The results most certainly won't win any prizes but they are proving to me that I CAN adapt to a new medium, however frustrating the progress is at times. I have to keep reminding myself of my word for the year.... Patience.... I'm enjoying the journey, who knows where I will end up??

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Compiling a sketchbook

Project 8 in Water Paper Paint, a book I'm working through to help me discover the wonders of watercolour,  is all about Keeping Sketchbooks. If you have read my blog for a while you will know this is something I'm quite passionate about, and even though I don't sketch as much as I would like to, I do think sketchbooks form a really important part of my creative process. They help me to get things out of my thoughts and down onto paper, and record my progress through different ideas, topics and themes I explore. 

My foundation course in Art and Design got me back into using sketchbooks, although I did feel that the critique of our sketchbooks meant you felt inclined to 'make' them look as good as you could rather an just using them as you naturally wanted to, as part of your creative process. Every page doesn't have to be a work of art in itself but at college I always felt that it did.

So since leaving college to pursue my creativity in my own way my sketchbooks have become more real, more about me, for me, and I don't miss having to create page to impress others. So, you can imagine my excitement before Christmas when I placed my order for two of my favourite Heaton Cooper large square sketchbooks from their studio in Grasmere, Cumbria. I bought two as I had two projects in mind for 2014, Landscapes and Vessels, both very different, and I like the idea of keeping them separate and in their own book each.

My Landscapes sketchbook is filling up nicely with plenty of experimental painting techniques. Here are some of my favourite pages below...

Monday, 27 January 2014

Working on your own -

One of the joys and/or challenges of working for yourself, depending on how you're feeling and how you view it, is working on your own. For many, this beats, hands down, the alternative of working in a corporate environment and many wouldn't swap it for the world. I'm lucky as I get to have the best of both worlds, working with my lovely team in the pharmacy I manage, as well as having 'me' time in the studio, where I can enjoy my own company, listening to my music, podcasts or the radio, or just peace and solitude and time to be alone. At one time I did think I would love to work in my studio full time but after a spell of a week when I once gave it a try, I realised that, as a permanent arrangement, it wasn't for me. I like the balance of both, although at times it is a fine balance, too much of one and I crave the other.

Other creative people I know, both personally and online, often talk about the isolation of working alone and they find it really useful to meet up with others, for a bit of a creative chat, cup of tea, and just to connect with other like-minded folk. This is something I do really enjoy, and something I'm going to make the effort to do this year, in my quest for cake, nosing around studios and workspaces other than my own, delving into the creative minds of others and learning new things. I'm intrigued by what makes other creative minds tick, so I will be doing my own bit of research and hoping to find out more about they dative process. As well as getting out and about to meet my creative friends I'm  also hoping to enrol on a couple of creative courses to expand my knowledge in the company of others, so I will be blogging about that too over the coming months.

So for those of you who do work in isolation, in your own creative haven of peace and quiet, would you change a thing, or do you yearn for a bit of company and conversation every now and then? How do you cope with working on your own... Do you use social media to connect with your peers or do you belong to an organisation who meets regularly for support and networking... I'm all ears, please leave your comments below

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Happy days

Yesterday was a really enjoyable day. For one thing I got a rare day with the house to myself, so it was great to meet with Hayley from Design Factory, who had come round to do my membership review. The last time we met was just after I joined Design Factory, in March 2012, and reading through the notes she had made, it was like a trip down memory lane, as I was just in the throes of preparing for BCTF for the first time. How long ago does that seem? We reviewed the goals and aspirations I had at that time, and I'm pleased to say that I achieved a lot of the things I had set out to do, which is a nice feeling and makes me feel a lot more positive about my progress.

When Hayley left I spent a bit of time catching up with jobs, sorting out orders and getting soaked on a trip to the post office and then I knuckled down with my Water Paper Paint book and continued working through the tasks and chapters. This week I tried scraping paint to give a different kind of background to ones I had done last week with colour washes. also on the menu this week were splashing, blowing, splattering, results above.

I've also been trying my different sized brushes and experimenting with mark-making. I think I need a trip to the art shop to get some new brushes and some different weights and textures of paper. Does anyone have any recommendations for a good selection of brushes for watercolour? I'd be interested to hear from you.....

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