Saturday, 31 August 2013

Sneaky Peak and other, erm, stuff

Well, I thought it was about time I popped back here to give you an update on what I've been doing recently!

The book of Sci-Fi short stories will be out at the end of September (I will share a link to it when it's available to buy). In the meantime here is the first glimpse of the front cover (sadly, not done by me but the rest of the illustrations have been)

 Two T-shirt designs for a Thai Charity (Prints are available £15)

Another commission piece based on the 'Family Home' pic I did for my Mum. 
This one went off to France 
(If you are interested you can commission a 'Family Tree' or 'Family Home'. I offer them in three sizes A5 (10 to 15 different illustrations = £60), A4 (20 to 25 different illustrations = £100) and A3 (35 to 40 different illustrations = £200))

Oh, and there were the logo's (This one is a design for 7 Olives Photography)

and I ran a 'Tree of Rendcomb Life' Workshop for the students of Rendcomb college. 
I drew the tree and then provided some ideas of what should be included based on the curriculum, the history of the school and life for the kids that live there during term time. 

This is what it looked like after session 1. 
(apologies for the pic quality but the tree was A0 in size so I had to stand on a chair to take these)
After session 2.
and the final result was
And last, but definitely not least, I have a piece in the Journal 'When Women Waken' which is a fabulous new online literary journal publishing fresh voices and art in English from around the world. It is a journal of Poetry, Prose & Images and this issue features the first ever 'Family Home' picture that i drew. It now has pride of place on the living room wall of my Mum's house. I drew it for her when we lived in Thailand and I was missing her.

I have also done another two commissions since then. A pen and ink piece for a wedding anniversary and a 'spring' silver leaf painting but they have not been given to their intended recipients yet so I can't share them with you...yet :-)

Friday, 7 June 2013


Crikey...has it really been THAT long since I blogged!? Wow!! Time flies...

Well, I am still officially very busy (which is a good thing!). I'm currently working on:
  •  4 commissioned paintings
  • 2 commissioned pen and ink drawings
  • 8 short story illustrations
  • 2 logos 
  • 2 tattoo's
  • 2 art workshops and 
  • Stuff to exhibit in a Christmas Art Fair (for very prestigious art center) 

So,  those are the things that have been confirmed. I've also been approached by an old friend of mine who plays the bass in a Scottish cover band. They specialise in weddings and would like to offer a personalised tree to couples that book them as something that will make them stand out from the crowd. The band are good and they played 75 weddings last year so that could work out really well.


I've been approached about a graphic novel project (all very hush hush so that's all I can tell you at the moment)

It's going better than I could have hoped for...still not earning very much at the moment but that is not the be all and end all!

So what else have I been doing? Oh yes, I have applied to sit of the Board of Directors for Swindon Healthwatch. Healthwatch are taking over from the old LINK's which is were I have been working for the last four years.  It's a voluntary role (albeit at board level) and would be 8 hours a month...I just figured that I should put my money where my mouth is. I'm always going on about volunteering yet, for the first time in a very long time, I'm currently not doing any. Also, after spending all that time getting my Masters, I don't want to let my skills and experience in that sector slide. I had an interview last week which seemed to go well so am now just waiting to hear whether I will be offered the post. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Right, I'm off...need to finish illustration number 3 today and get the preliminary sketches done for one of the logos. I shall leave you with the photographs I took as I painted my last commission piece.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Well, they say it's better to be busy than bored...

but I'm not sure I'm convinced about that!!

I can honestly say that I have spent the last few weeks running around like a headless chicken...I just seem to have lots going on at the moment!!

"So what the hell have you been doing?" I hear you ask. Well, let me tell you...

I've now finished my latest commission piece. Couldn't show it to you till it had been given to the recipient but it was received last week and I've been told that it was a HUGE hit (Phew!). It is another example of the 'Tree of Life' pictures that I offer and every single thing contained in it relates to Gail and her life...even down to the morse code on one of the branches :-)

I have completed the first illustration for the Sci-Fi book of short stories that I am working on. I can't show you that but I can show you a doodle that I did based on one of my ideas for it (The finished piece looks very different).

I have been approached about producing three images for a Thai charity. They will be printed on T-shirts and sold to raise funds for a children's education project. Yup, you guessed it...I've agreed to do it (for free) because, you know, I don't have anything else going on at the moment!! They want something based around a commission piece I did. They like the hands and the Buddha so I will be playing about with these ideas. (This is the commission piece which prompted them to contact me)

What else? Oh yes, ages ago I said that I wanted to do a 'Four seasons' painting based on my silver leaf the time I was approached by a buyer who said that they would be interested in purchasing them if I went ahead. I got conformation last week that they do indeed want to go now I have to pull my finger out and actually paint them!! This is the pic that sparked it all off!

On Thursday I went to London to attend the book launch of my lovely friend Caroline Smailes. Her latest novel 'The Drowning of Arthur Braxton' has just been released and I am absolutely loving it!! (She has blogged about it here). She writes beautifully and I think that this is perhaps her best book to date...but don't take my word for it...go get yourself a copy! You can buy it here

Then on Saturday I travelled from London to Portsmouth where I was speaking about collaboration at the lovely Denyse King's 'What's your story?' book launch. She has been Portsmouth's writer in residence for the last year and has been running workshops all over the city the results of which have been complied and formed into a book. During that time (she is one hell of a busy lady!) she has also written a number of her own books including a children's book called 'Realand' which is the first in her Portal Series. (You can buy all her books here). She sent chapter 1 to a poet, an illustrator (me) and a photographer and asked us to produce something based on her writing. It was an honour to take part..not so much to do the speaking in front of loads of people cause I hate that...but I was honoured to have the opportunity to produce something inspired by her words.

I'm now off to Amsterdam to spend the week drawing and painting so I shall leave you with the image that I created for DJ's Realand.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Story Box Update

I am back! My commission piece is finished and the client is really pleased with it (YAY!!). I thought, before I start work on my next project, I would pop back here and give you an update on how the Story Box project went.

It was absolutely fascinating! There were 9 of us...some were writers, others were theatre directors and some of us, like me, were visual artists. We started off by looking at writing materials and methods and got to examine parchment and medieval documents that has been re-used to cover court books. One of them was just amazing...multi layered...writing over writing over writing over red illustrations that could only just be seen! It was utterly beautiful! Then we looked at a map of Stockton which had been drawn onto the skin of a sheep (lasts longer than paper!)...when it was spread out you could actually make out the shape of the animal! Incredible! We then had the opportunity of learning about the history of wax seals...some were HUGE and really ornate with family crests etc but my favourites were the ones of the 'commoners' which featured things like scissors (for the sheep shearer) and a knife (for the local butcher). The larger ones hung from the documents but the smaller were actually stitched in!

We then looked at how the archives reveal, in amazing detail, how our ancestors lived and the customs and practices they took for granted...which, I have to say, where rather alien to my modern eyes. We saw a map that depicted which parishes were responsible for which parts of a local road. It was drawn up so each parish knew who was responsible for repairs to the road and that was dependent on who owned the looked extremely complicated and apparently caused a lot of consternation as you had one long stretch belonging to one with a wee square right in the middle of it which belonged to another!

We read an extract from a will which really fascinated me....basically the woman had three sons...she left everything to the third son who was told to give each of the other two a weekly allowance. She referred to her two other sons as useless layabouts who would just squander their inheritance and who couldn't be trusted. Wonder what they did! Must have been bad for her to actually put that in writing!

We got to flip through a 'letter book' which was from 1704 and contained draft letters from Edmund Estcourt of Burton Hill, Malmesbury. There were all sorts in there...letters asking for money, letters about life to his sister, letters placing an order at the butchers...fascinating! We also read a number of 'Pauper' letters which were mostly written phonetically asking various local parishes for woman had been left with five children to feed after her husband had vanished and she was writing to the Parish where she was born (not the one she lived in...that wasn't how it worked) asking for them to send money...she wrote that it would be cheaper for them to just send her money rather than have her move back to the Parish. The amount of information was just mind blowing and we only touched on a fragment of it!

The afternoon was spent browsing and I did a few drawings which I plan to play about with! I got kind of fascinated by the crinkles made by the folding of the maps...the number of hands the maps must have passed through over the years...the folds looked like a map of their own and I spent a very happy afternoon doodling.

I also met some fabulous people! Two that I particularly connected is a lecturer at Swindon art college and the other was actually one of her students. I will definitely be seeing them again :-)

Anyway, here are some pics that I took on the day

The Road Map (am going to do some painting based on this)

This is the map drawn on the back of the sheep. 
Can't really see the sheep in the pic :-( but the map itself is still beautiful!


Signatures from the 1600's

Friday, 15 March 2013

Story Box

I am doing something rather exciting next week! I'm heading to  The Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre which contains unique documents reflecting 800 years of history in the area. The Arts Service are opening up the archive for artists to explore the documents through a project called Story Box. They want to establish a community of artists who use the archive as a source of cool is that!! I am attending a workshop that will give me the opportunity to work alongside archivists and researchers to explore not only what fascinating documents are held within the archive but also what fascinates the archivists and researchers.

Here's how they describe it...

Project Description:
Story Box is an intimate opportunity to explore the archive with an expert guide and select few for company. The Story Box project lifts the lid on 8 miles of archives and invites creative practitioners to slip between the centuries and delve into the lives of past generations. The archive contains a vast array of documents that pertain to every aspect of life and death within the county, there are registers of baptisms and marriages, there are proceedings from courts and school punishment books, there are also personal letters as well as the papers of state. The archive covers every strata of society from the destitute seeking shelter to the correspondence of monarchs dispensing their favours. The archive charts the transition of society from the sharp contrast of a feudal medieval society with its gruesome courts of justice on the one hand, and sporadic support to the poor from charities and monastic bodies on the other, to the creation of the modern welfare state with its democratic institutions and formalised widepsread services to those in need.

It is right up my street!! I'm interested in history and people and community and I can't wait!!! 

Monday, 4 March 2013

This working for a living is over-rated!!

Phew! It's been a busy old week!

I have been working on my Etsy site. It is no longer looking sad and's had it's teeth cleaned, hair brushed, shirt ironed, shoes shined and it is now ready to be sent off into the big wide world! *gulps*

You can visit it by clicking on the banner below

AND it now has a Facebook friend to keep it company which you can visit by clicking on the photograph below

I am trying to build up a following (so I don't look like Billy No Mates) so if you could click on the links and 'like' my pages I would be ever so grateful!!

Thank you
 (and sorry if your fed up hearing about this...just trying to make sure I'm covering all my bases)

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

My inner demon has reared it's ugly head! Time to look back over the month...

Well, it's coming up to the end of February which means that I have been working on this whole 'trying-to-make-a-living-from-my-art' thing properly for about a month and I think I need to stop and review what I have actually done. I've slept badly the last few nights (always do when Chris is away) and today the nasty little demon that sits on my shoulder whispering 'You can't do this' has reared it's ugly little head (I'm starting to feel like I've spent a lot of time in front of my computer but that I've not really achieved very much!) so instead of listening to it and having a wobble I'm going to stop and review what I've actually done! When I was at Uni I was taught the importance of reflection...of taking the time to review how you have spent your time, what that has achieved and what changes, if any, you are going to make to your behaviour/process going forward. So, given that I'm feeling a bit...., I thought I would do just that and actually write down what I have done so far (See, I do it may take me some time but I do get there eventually :-D). 

Right! I currently have five pictures in an exhibition, have received two commissions (I have not advertised my 'Family Home' and 'Family Tree' pictures officially yet so I am over the moon that I have secured two already), have worked out how I'm going to present my images, sourced proper ink and paper so I can make my own prints, have successfully made two prints (It was a bit trial and error but I got there), have done a ton of research which led to a change in my pricing and have started to update the listings I already have in my etsy shop. I have also been involved in running a creative workshop for people who have dementia and have written a report based on my experience of the workshop comparing it with the information I found when I undertook the literature review on arts & dementia. (It was the first time I've had the opportunity to combine my outreach work with my artwork and I loved every single second of it! The participants were working with clay and I watched them transform over the two hours we were there. As their confidence grew, they went from quiet and, in some cases, pretty withdrawn to laughing, joking and encouraging each other. It was fab and I learned a lot about running an art workshop from the experience which will definitely help me when it comes to planning and running my own).

I'm really glad I decided to write this cause reading that's actually quite a lot! (Ha, not so smug now are you Mr Nasty Demon?) (Note to blog readers: Yes, I am aware that I am now talking to my imaginary demon...please just ignore it and move on!). My goal was to have all the images on my etsy site up by now and because I'm not even close to that, as I said, I was feeling like I'd spent a lot of time in front of the computer but hadn't really much to show for it! Thinking about it can I run my shop if my pricing is wrong and I don't have the ability to produce what I'm selling? The answer to that is I can't! I have to recognise that the admin side of things is particularly heavy at the moment because I'm trying to sort out all the images. The downside of having a backlog of 70+ pictures is that I have a backlog of 70+ pictures!! Once they are up then I will be adding new art work as I go along and won't have to face such a mammoth task again but, like these things often do, it's taking me a lot longer to get it all done than I expected! But, you know what, that's ok...I am having to get to grips with new technology and software as well as having to frame each piece so it has a 'lifestyle' shot (Apparently people need to see a picture framed before they can imagine it on their wall at home). I just need to make sure that I balance my time going forward.

This has been a very good exercise for me...perhaps I should write regular monthly updates so I can follow my progress and evaluate whether I am actually making good use of my time or not!

Wow, a serious post! Don't worry...normal service will soon be resumed :-)

*goes off feeling sooooo much better than she did when she started writing this*

Monday, 25 February 2013

My Work Space

My Dad has just bought a house in Spain which I've not seen yet and last week he posted a picture of his office on Facebook. I LOVE seeing photo's of people's work spaces...I find them interesting, intriguing and inspiring. I like the fact that, when I think of that person at work, I have a mental image of where they are. So, with that in mind, I thought I would share a few pictures of my own.

Welcome to my humble, and slightly chaotic, abode. 

I am sat here right now

and all I need to do is turn my chair round and I can work at my drawing table :-)

No idea what my work space says about me but I thought I would share it anyway!

Friday, 22 February 2013

It worked!!

It worked!?

My cunning plan to be able to produce my own prints actually worked!!


I'm donating a couple of my pictures to a charity exhibition and the theme is 'Contrast'. I decided to try out my new technology and my snazzy new paper (It's all singing and all dancing...been developed for museum archives and is specifically designed for fine art prints dontcha know) then the plan was, if it all worked, to frame them for the exhibition. 

and it worked!!

Cloaked Woman


I am really pleased with how they turned out! I actually like them so much that I'm thinking of putting them up on my own wall!! (That NEVER happens!!)

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Cowpit Yow

So I had a long, and very silly, conversation with my best mate the other day and when I told him I had drawn a pink sheep for my blog he immediately started laughing and asked 'Was it a cowpit yow?'. Now, those of you not from Scotland will have absolutely no idea what he just asked so I shall explain...

The word 'Cowpit' in Scotland means to fall over (You can also use 'Cowp' to mean throw away. e.g. 'I'm going to cowp that CD cause I don't like the band anymore'). As you all know a ewe is a female sheep but in parts of Scotland this is pronounced as 'Yow' (Sounds like Pow only with a Y). Soooo, a cowpit yow is literally a female sheep which has fallen over.

When we moved from Glasgow to the small village I spent most of my childhood in I learned of this concept and was absolutely fascinated by it! Every single landscape I drew...for years...had a cowpit yow in one of the fields! So just for is my updated version :-)

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Pink Sheep

It's been a long time since I participated in a bloggy 'Answer these questions' thing *grins* but my lovely blog friend Mel has sent me some questions...and I'm kinda looking forward to this one since it means I can display pink sheep...AND....because I like the idea of pink sheep I just HAD to have a go at drawing one! (I can resist everything except temptation!)

Here are the questions and my answers to them (and my pink sheep)...

How do you celebrate your favorite holiday?
I'm not entirely sure I have a 'favourite' (It's has a U in it!! *laughs*) holiday. I guess if I did it would probably be Christmas...not for the religious aspect (I'm not religious in the slightest) but because it means that I get to spend a few uninterrupted days with lovely hubby (I know...pass the nearest sick bucket!).

What unique tradition have you developed in your family (past or present)?
Hubby and I now spend Christmas on our driving for 7 hours (on a good day) up to Scotland to see the family, no running around trying to fit everyone in and no stress. We get up, have Bellini's with smoked salmon and cream cheese with a glass of champagne (would be rude not to!), open our presents, have another glass of champagne, then it's time for Chris's home made pea and ham soup (which is AMAZING), have a break from eating and perhaps a glass of wine, then we have our roast with all the trimmings, have a break from eating and perhaps another glass of wine (are you seeing a pattern forming?), have dessert which is usually individual pavlovas with hot, honey drizzled, plums, have a break from eating and then perhaps some wine, discuss having cheese course and end up laughing cause we always buy really nice cheese but never eat it on Christmas day cause we're always too full :-D. So I guess that's our lots of yummy cheese for Christmas dinner but NEVER eat it on Christmas Day.

What's on your nightstand by your side of the bed?
I have a jewelery stand that is made from bent forks which is covered in bracelets etc
A mini shoe where my rings live
A hand made, wooden, buck toothed rabbit with HUGE ears...just cause
A wee wooden head with a big nose that I put my glasses on when I go to sleep
A gorgeous acid etched metal picture of honesty that my best mate gave me
A couple of random books (these change)
and a lamp
(and sometimes an empty wine glass if we've decided to watch a movie in bed)

How many tries does it take you before you actually thread a needle?
*laughs* too many to count! I try the 'cut the end of the thread and try to put it through' method followed by the 'Suck the end of the thread into a point then try to put it through' method followed by  'fold it round the needle then try to thread the loop through' method followed by the "how the hell is this wee fiddly metal thing with the loop supposed to help you thread a needle" method usually followed by some swearing and then I repeat the process until needle is finally threaded!

One quirky thing you embrace as uniquely YOU?
Big chunky rings...I am drawn to them like a moth to a flame! I LOVE big chunky rings and wear one pretty much every day (seriously, they are often so big that I have to take them off to type!)

A worry that paralyzed you, then or now?
When I was younger I got into quite a lot of debt...well, when I say I, I really mean my boyfriend at the time got me into a lot of debt...but I let him do it so I have to accept my share of the responsibility. I used to lie in bed at night fretting and plotting about how I was going to get myself out of it and I used to be terrified of opening the post cause I knew it would be another bill that I wouldn't be able to pay. It got so bad that at one point I was making a tin of beans last me two days and was walking into work cause I couldn't afford the tube fare. In the end my Dad helped sort out the mess, we sold my flat and we were able to pay off everything that I owed...I was lucky! It was one of the most awful periods of my life but it was a lesson well learnt....I've never been in dept since.

Which parent can YOU hear when you say something today?
BOTH!! *laughs* I am doomed!!

When do you consider it 'late at night'?
Erm, I'm not sure to be honest! If left to my own devices I would be a sleep late - work until the wee small hours kinda gal but since the rest of the world doesn't operate like that I get up when Chris does and I try to stop work when he comes home. Soooo if operating on my time then 'late at night' would probably be about 1am but if operating on everyone elses time then 'late at night' would probably be about 11pm. I would never call someone at that time of night so I'll use that as my gauge!

How do you respond when someone hurts your feelings?
Depends. I will rarely say anything at the time but will wait and then talk to them about it when it's just us. I do it calmly (and usually quite casually) and I explain why what they said hurt...that then gives them an opportunity to explain what they meant. Sometimes it can be a case of a misunderstanding but usually it's unintentional and the person that hurt me didn't realise that it was a subject that I am sensitive about. Occasionally it will be because someone is hurting themselves and are lashing which case I suck it up....recognise it for what it is and let it go. If it is someone who is intentionally trying to hurt me then I walk is too short to be around people that make you feel like shit! As my Gran would say 'Stay away from people who trouble the soul'.

What are two staples you can't run out of? And (LORD help us all....) what happens if you DO run out of them?
Wine and chocolate *laughs* that would be a disaster!! There is not much that can't be solved with wine and chocolate...ok, so maybe not solved BUT they do make you feel a bit better and they are always good to have in case you have a friend in need!

And finally--WHO do you need to say "I love you" to, today.....go do that and report back!
Ha, I've already told my lovely Hubby that I love him today. I tell him every day! Today we were tickling each other in the kitchen before he left for work and were both laughing...I gave him a big hug and told him I loved him (Now where did I put that sick bucket? *goes off to look for it*)

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

I'm Back *waves*

Boy I needed that!! After a year of posting every day I needed a break...needed to NOT feel like I HAD to post something and now after, what?, a month and a half? I finally feel ready to face my lovely wee blog again. Cause it is just kinda had it's 'this is a chore' moments and I had to step away so that I could love it again!

Sooooo, I did it...I actually managed to create something every single day for an entire year. Am I proud of myself? Well, yes I am a bit, cause at times it really wasn't easy, but posting the last one on NYE was a bit of an anticlimax. It could have been because I had full blown flu (yep, snotters everywhere, hot and cold sweats, throat like broken glass....the whole kit and caboodle!) or it could have been cause I was left with a 'What next?' feeling. I'm not entirely sure I've worked out 'What next?' BUT

I have spent my month and a half making some big decisions and I've decided to take the bull by the horns and try and earn a living from my art! *gulps*. I've gone through all my pictures from the last year and have picked out the ones I thought were the best...then my friend gave me a slap (not an actual one) and added a whole load more that I'd rejected! Sheesh...she is rather bossy that friend of mine but she told me in no uncertain terms that I was in no position to make decisions on whether my work was 'good' or not! Then I scanned...and scanned...and scanned...did I mention that I did some scanning? Cause I did you know...lots of scanning! And then I had a meeting...a big scary one...where I took my work and showed it to an Art know...someone that didn't need to be nice about my work...AND she was nice! In fact she was nicer than nice...commented that if it wasn't just after Christmas she would have commissioned me to do a piece for her!! How exciting is that!?

So here's what I'm going to be doing

- Updating my Etsy shop to incorporate the best of last years pictures (Still working on getting all the images looking as good as I can...since it's all image based that's kinda important)
- Sorting out my pricing cause I've really not got that right
- Offering 'Family Tree' or 'Tree of Life' commissions (No-one else, that I have found, is offering anything similar which should be a good thing for me!)
- Creating three workshops based on my 'Family Tree' illustrations - one for a morning, one for a day and one for a weekend which I will be paid for delivering at a local (and prestigious) Art Centre
- Exhibiting 5 pieces at Npower for Charity
- Illustrating a book of short stories
- Visiting a local Care Home and working with another artist
- Exhibiting at the Art Centre's Christmas Fair

What I might be doing
- A 'Tree of Life' Commission for a 50th birthday
- A 'Tree of Life' workshop at a private school

Still waiting to hear about those! So, as you can see, I've been busy!

Oh, and I did this illustration for the lovely DJ