I’ve been a little slack with blog posts recently but November and December went by in a bit of whirlwind for me!
I managed at stall at Chatsworth Christmas market for Paper Starlights again this year, which is always a lot of fun (if a little cold!) I think I’d like to have my own stall there one year, but there’s a way to go before I am able to keep a stall stocked for 2 weeks!
While I was there, I was able to have a quick look round meet some of the stall holders – it’s a really great little community 🙂 It also gave me more of an idea of what was selling, and what I could be doing myself in similar selling environments. This year I am hoping to move more towards prints and “commercial” products that I can have ready to go for shops and exhibitions.
Obviously, I will be continuing with my painting and commissions but I need to be practical and think about the money side of things (especially now Henry and I have just bought our first house!) So with this in mind, I will be looking into different products and prints, and some completely new avenues to start working towards this month.
I’m forever finding inspiration online and in various shops, so it’s time to knuckle down and diversify.
Christmas is always a busy time for me – and this time around did not disappoint! I’ve had a variety of commissions this year, with one piece going to South Africa and a limited edition print sent over to Australia…all very exciting.
My scribble style was popular with 8 dog portraits sent out in total. I really enjoy doing this style and so far they’ve been very well received as the scruffy nature seems to capture the characters quite well.
And some more unusual ones too…
Ever since I started painting to commission I’ve had a lot of people (mostly male) jokingly requesting all manner of paintings;
“Can you paint me slaying a Dragon?”
“Can I be naked on Horseback?”
” Can you paint me riding a Lion into battle?”
But this time the request was serious (ish)
It was commissioned as a gift for a friend (in a competition for the best Christmas gift) – a portrait of him as a Judo champion, sat on a throne, surrounded by his deceased enemies from both Judo matches and the business world. Of course.
Oh, and framed in an ornate gold moulding.
In between commissions and working in town, I have been creating a collection of handmade greetings cards which are currently for sale in a number of local shops. I find it’s a really nice break from painting and cutting and sticking can be quite therapeutic!
Initially I started with simple “Happy Birthdays” and “Thank You” cards which were good for the crafts shop, but more recently I have been making some with a more passive aggressive tone – and getting some great feedback! They’re still all handmade at the moment which I think is a nice touch.
I’ve been testing the water with the designs on my Facebook page and had some good feedback so far, but I understand that they won’t all be to everyone’s taste! The first batch have gone out to the salon where I get my nails done and they’re selling very well, so I think I just have to accept that some people will not be amused and get on with it…
We (myself and my exceptionally patient partner) are in the process of setting up and online shop at the moment, so these handmade cards will all be available to order very soon! I’ll be making them in bulk (10-20 of each design at a time) as it takes a while to make each one, but hopefully I’ll get into the swing of things and get a little production line going.
There will also be some digitally produced cards which will be printed onto plain white card and sold a little cheaper, so I’m playing around with Photoshop at the moment and trying to figure out a way to create digital drawings – any advice much appreciated!
Learning the ropes with the shop side of things at the moment, but excited about the upcoming projects. I’ll keep you updated.
After posting my progress on Instagram of the drawings in Stabilo pens, the UK branch got in touch with me to ask if I’d like to sample some of the new pens. And of course, I said yes!
The first set was coming from Germany. A limited edition pen called Pen in Black, which was being sent to only 5 artists and I had been selected as one of them – I was so excited! I’m thinking of doing a bright, watercolour style piece in these – just need to find some time…
And the second package arrived on my Birthday! This was from the UK branch who are trying out the new “Stabilo Artist Box” and I was selected to use the new products. It’s got all sorts in and I’m really looking forward to trying out the new felt tips, if they work with water that will be brilliant.
I also have plans for a much bigger piece so will need to buy a LOT more pens soon!
A few months ago my old head of year from Tupton Hall contacted me and asked me to do a short presentation for some students at my old school; as a “successful ex-student” they wanted me to say a little bit about myself and how I became freelance artist.
I was really honoured to have been asked but my public speaking experience consisted of class presentations – 30 people my own age. Also, it’s really hard to speak about yourself for 10 minutes! I put together a presentation and scribbled some notes down to read from, but never actually ran through it with anyone so I was just hoping for the best!
When I got there (The Winding Wheel in Chesterfield) all of my old teachers were there with a room full of students and parents…about 400 people in total they said. Hmm. A little nervous now.
I spoke to the teachers and they explained that I was going to be sat at the table on the stage with the head and deputy. In my head these are still my teachers so it was even more nerve wracking, the younger me felt like I was in trouble! But I was on stage and up to speak first – no pressure.
Rightly or wrongly I had chosen to wear outrageously uncomfortable heels (but they’re sparkly purple so…) and all I could think was “Don’t fall over whatever you do”. I managed to get to the podium and introduce myself and my presentation.
It was over before I knew it! I said everything I needed to do, not too many “erm”‘s and I even got a couple of laughs (with me, not at me thankfully).It was a really good experience and it feels great to have been asked, hopefully I got through to a few students about working hard and being a nerd!
Wow, what can I say? When I post my work online I only really expect a few people to see it, but instagram has been my Fairy God Mother this week. One of my posts about the Stabilo style I have been trying out was spotted by the account run by Stabilo – Deutschland!!
And once the photos started to get a few more likes, some other big art accounts found them which is really exciting 🙂
Stabilo Deutschland actually featured one of my pieces on their page which has a huge following and my drawing could now be seen all over the world, and I’m really proud of that.
Since then I have had a lot more interest in my page and it really is the best way to promote myself without any expense or a great deal of work!
I’ve been trying out a few different styles recently; it helps me keep on track and motivated if I’m doing something new. After using my Stabilo Point 88 pens with water previously, I decided to try out some scribbling – I find it very therapeutic!
Again using off cut mounts, I started a simple lion sketch and lazily scribbled while I listened to music. It soon started to take shape and I started paying more attention and using a bigger variety of colours, I think I used almost every one!
There was something about this piece that I instantly loved, not sure if it’s the new style which was exciting or the look on the lion’s face – almost majestically calm. First job was to show my family to see if they thought the style was working or just me that liked it, but all positive feedback was a good boost so I braved social media’s feedback next. I know it’s not a good idea to rely on praise from social media, but it’s a very nice feeling and gave me the confidence to explore this technique further.
Since then I have done 5 more pieces, all using off cut mounts and housed in simple oak frames.
In true English style – we’ve had a very wet summer. And unfortunately one of the wettest days in a long time was the day before Ashover Show!
But we were ready for it, so dad and I headed up the night before to prep the stand in the pouring rain! The ground was already getting bad and we had to trudge through the mud to get anywhere, but remained hopeful.
On the morning of, we were up at six ready to go up and set up. The village was already busy with tractors and various trades people waiting to set up, but the field was a mess – people getting towed IN! We managed to set up regardless (massive thank you to my trusty helpers again) and the weather soon cleared up a little. By midday it was bright sunshine and more people were arriving, but understandably the weather had put quite a lot of people off turning out so it was much quieter than last year.
I’m really happy with how the stand looked though and got some great feedback and sold a few too!
So it’s Ashover show time again.. and I’ve been really busy!
The stand I had in the craft tent last year got some really good feedback, so I decided to do it again, but a lot bigger. I didn’t really realise quite how big it would be until we assembled it in the garden last week!
Without playing a helpless girl too much, I had to rely on my dad and boyfriend to build it – those pallets are exceptionally heavy. I did a bit of sawing and handing out screws…
I had a rough idea in my head of how I wanted it all to look, but the main feature was that it fit inside my new gazebos which gave me 12m of display space (compared to about 4m last year). On the first full night of building, it rained, a lot. But we managed to get a lot of the building work done before we needed a pint. As you can see, Valli helped a lot and wasn’t in the way at all.
So once it was all up and the weather had cleared, I roped in mum and dad to help me with a practise run. I had seen the stand up and it panicked me a little, I had no idea if my work would fill it, but once we got going I soon realised that I actually couldn’t fit it all on – winner!
Time to set up:
Last night we loaded up the tractor (Thank You Henry!) and drove round to the ground to set up. Once again I was pretty useless but they boys managed to get it up very easily and it’s now standing proud just up from the craft tent.
I’ve never had an outside stall for me so fingers crossed everything stays up and relatively dry on the day. It has been raining all day today but should be clear for tomorrow – just need to clean my wellies now!
If anyone has any advice on outside stall which may be a little easier to assemble – please get in touch!
In the run up to Ashover Show I’ve been trying to get a variety of pieces ready to show I’m not just a one trick pony – so decided to go back to big and textured for this grizzly bear.
The original plan was to do something similar to The King with a dark background and slightly darker colours, so it would finish up being quite a moody painting. But.. it didn’t quite end up like that.
I started with the warm yellow as I did with the lion, but as I added more and more colours, it just got brighter and brighter and further away from the moody piece I had intended on creating! I really liked the way it was turning out so I stuck with it and decided to leave the background white.
Then came time to add the fine details and put a little direction into the fur, so I used my thinnest (and newest!) brush to get a few strokes around the mouth – it was fun but looked a bit like a furry cloud at this point.
Cue 2nd change of plan: I got a little carried away with the lines… now it’s covered! It has completely changed the look of the painting and now looks more like a digitally created image – which I quite like but unfortunately it has taken away from the textured effect. At least I know this for next time.
The next step is framing. I was thinking something simple and dark to edge it neatly, but after speaking to the framers we came up with some fun alternatives which includes 3 frames joined together, some parts painted and much bigger than I had planned.
I think it’s going to look great and I love having access to all these great frames – and the framers to help me make it exciting!
I’ve always been taught to experiment, but maybe next time I’ll do it on a slightly smaller scale rather than a 36×48″ canvas…