It is four years since I decide to push visual arts to the top of my priority list.
Major knee injury meant I had to pass on the opportunity that I’d been hankering for years, to manage the PR for Meadowhall. Facing months on crutches and unable to drive, life was taken up by the countless rehab exercises and everything normal took three times as long. With a recovery period quoted in years rather than weeks time began to feel different. I had so little time spare that I had to get to the nub of spending time how my soul needed and what emerged from valuable sessions with my wonderful life coach Heidi-Mai, was art… making… creating, colour, I felt like there was a whole lot of colour and creations inside me that needed to be let out into the world. And so my visual art journey changed up a gear and I began to prioritise this work, moving it from the ‘indulgent, blissful hobby’ to the ‘if I don’t have much time available I’m going to spend it on what feels great’. And with a feeling of naughty delight I signed up for an Art Foundation course.
What an exploration it has been, and continues to be. I’ve always enjoyed a steep learning curve and staying on such a curve keeps me interested and motivated.
In the first four years I’ve had a solo exhibition, had work in four public exhibitions, have begun teaching fabric design techniques, have shared art skills in school, created commissioned artworks, designs, infographics, videos, animations and have made products from miniature pot plants to fabric birds.
I don’t know where the work is leading and when I’m in the creative moment I don’t think it really matters where or whether it leads. For me creating and making is calming, rejuvenating and present. It’s my antidote to the harrowing stories that the media try to intrude into my calm.
Here are my favourite pieces from the past four years. I look forward to seeing what will emerge from my work in the future.
I’m not stopping here. I’m busy preparing for my next workshop on Sunday 2nd June at Stitched Up and Fleeced, Sheffield.
I’m working on personal projects and strategic commercial communications. I’ve a plan for a book, watch this space, and have some exciting collaborations ahead.
Here are my favourite posts from the past four years:
Here are anniversary stories from the years you may have missed. I’ve always worked on the proviso that my work will improve, although I’ve a good way to go to be at the level I aspire to, when I reflect I can see the progression. Practice makes better…
Celebrating 3 years: It’s now three years since I began focussing on art and making. After injuring my knee I decided to follow my heart and felt a need to let out the colour and creative potential that I instinctively knew was within me.
Switching to a less commercial line of work has not been easy and has taken courage and conviction, but as I continue to explore and my work evolves I’m keen to see what I’ll be creating next.
The highlights of the past three years have been two Art and Design year long course Distinctions, a solo art exhibition, and being commissioned by customers to create bespoke artworks and gifts.
Collage of my favourite 9 from the past 3 years…
Latest work: My latest creation is an embroidered work for a dear friend, inspired by an image. I felt real flow in this work and felt guided in creating it by some artistic wisdom that joined me while I hand and machine appliquéd and stitched.
Workshop Development: Exciting news is that I’m developing a heat press workshop. This will given people the opportunities to develop a design and print it onto fabric in just 2 hours. Watch this space for news and dates. if you’re not signed up to receive Inspire news then you can do so by typing your email address into the box above.
Work in progress: Miniature plants need a miniature place to grow so I’ve been building a greenhouse in Fab lolly sticks with a Magnum stick for decoration. I’ve also tried a more rustic ones from twigs pruned from my Japanese Acer. Need to eat a fab lolly or two more to be able to complete the roof structure. I’m considering whether to plant miniature climbing plants with the rustic greenhouse to encourage them to grown up and within it.
Greenhouse picture 1 &2
Ceramics: I’m exploring ceramics, its not an area I’ve studied before so I’m learning hand building techniques. More on that when the pieces have been fired.
Commission Time: Christmas is coming and its traditionally a time for commissioned artworks for loved ones, providing a bespoke gift made for them. My deadline this year for commission requests, to be ready in time for Christmas is 31st October. Please email me and I’ll help determine all that’s needed to begin the creation of your unique artwork.
Thanks for the support in the past three years and here’s to the future. To creativity, and beyond!
October is #Inktober: I’m taking the #Inktober challenge again this year. My intention is to try to illustrate the prompt words simply and clearly. You can see my ink creations in my Instagram ‘stories’.
After major knee injury my resolve ran thin after so many repetitive exercises. I needed new impetuous and accountability to push on with vigour.
As steps on my path back to skiing I created exercise boards to inspire me and illustrate the exercises that will help strengthen. I’m studying illustration at present with Bill Wright, from Central St Martins.
Now I really have no excuse… I’ll schedule it in my calendar to try to get to it regularly. Maybe stating my intention here to do this 5 times a week will spur me on…
Here are latest highlights from my Instagram feed. I like Instagram as I can send my work across the planet and people near and far can see it, maybe in far flung places that I can only imagine. From my life to theirs in an instant. Shared interests found.
It’s been a busy time with my Foundation Studies final exhibition. My products exhibited for the first time after months of hard, but enjoyable, work at The Workstation in Sheffield City Centre.
I remembered my intricate paintings of the white dog Sam, completed a year ago, on his journey as he hoped to fly. I shared a previously private video of the ebook. You can watch this, 55 seconds movie, here.
Work In Progress – A rare sunny no breeze day meant I was able to work outside on my next intricate paper cut picture. This imagined scene is inspired by the Brighton’s seafront, with a tearoom, vintage style dress and ladies wear shop, and next a beach goods shop. This is the latest in my series of paper-cut pictures.
For a family birthday for an avid French Alps skier I turned a microfibre glasses cloth into zipper bag on my wonderful Bernina sewing machine.
I hand painted, printed and sewed a shower cap as my final exhibition product. Wipeable lining from my friend’s Sheffield haberdashery emporium Direct. Loved the pink satin binding – a beautiful find from Berwick Street, London.
I made a video of my recent work to promote my exhibition.
And finally my dress design fabulously modelled by Lucy.
I was so proud of my Ice Cream paper-cut picture that I used it for another love of mine, creating a jigsaw with it.
Even before I could talk I loved jigsaws, and in some ways when I’m creating my paper pictures they can feel like a jigsaw that I am creating the pieces of as I go.
The detail, size (A3) and colour palette of Hot Days Eating Cool Ice Cream felt ideal for a jigsaw so I ordered a master at myphotopuzzle.com. I was so surprised at how quickly the order was created and got more excited with each update email about its progress.
When the parcel arrived I was delighted to hear and feel the pieces in the box and was so chuffed to see and hold the box of my very own jigsaw.
I can’t wait to spend time savouring the artwork and putting the pieces together in this similar but different way. Maybe it will be almost as much fun as making the picture was. It’s a little bit of my legacy.
To order a limited edition 200 or 500 piece jigsaw email with your preference of 200 piece jigsaw £32, or 500 piece £36 (including postage and packaging to England, Wales and Scotland) and your full name and address, details of the payment process will be sent forthwith.
I have wanted to create a book since I was 7 years old.
The fluffy white Maltese Terrier Dog Sam has featured in each of my paper cut pictures, so I started to feel a story was emerging.
‘Sam’s Adventures’ came to mind and I decided to sign up for a Writing Children’s Books workshop with London-based publishers Nosy Crow. I ticked the box for the option for a manuscript review, and then was shocked when I received an email asking for the manuscript a good time ahead of the course. I swung into action and started to build a book from the pictures I had created.
I didn’t enjoy the process and the publisher’s MD didn’t like the outcome, as the character wasn’t prominent enough in the illustrations.
In the time between sending the manuscript and the course I had a burst of courage in my painting ability and I decided to paint the character and hoped to capture his spirit.
Here are some of the watercolour and acrylics paintings I created of Sam.
Sam was my brother’s dog, we had great adventures in the Alps and Provence together. I loved him very much and although it would be wonderful to have a dog of our own for the time being creating stories for Sam will have to suffice.
On the theme of Sam the dog wanting to fly I created a range of artworks. I scanned my paintings and created a PDF file which I then uploaded to create an e-book through Kindle Direct Publishing. I’m proud to say that the book is now available online.
Update April 2018 – A hard copy of the book is available at my Folksy Shop
The first book was about the scenes, the second book/ iteration was about the character. My challenge now is to find ways of putting the more developed character into unique environments and settings. When I achieve that I will share the outcome. Watch this space. You can do that by following the blog, just add your preferred email address in the box at the top sides of the page. I love welcoming new followers to the fold and won’t clog your inbox.
“My latest paper masterpiece, “Hot Days Eating Cool Ice Cream”. It is pretty with details and interest, always something more to see and packed with pictorial love from corner to corner.”
Read the full story:
I often have an idealistic view of what an event will be like. For instance say to me garden party and instantly an image conjures of pretty bunting flapping in the wind, smiling faces, beautiful colourful tablecloths, bright blooms, pink lemonade with ice glinting in the sun, gorgeous dresses and a cloud leisurely tracking across a vivid blue sky. My idealism can often lead to the reality being a little disappointing. I had seen this as a trait that was negative, that I was being naive and childishly silly.
But I have realised that it is this ideal world imagination that is the magic that can make my special kind of art.
My growing number of paper cut creations, finely crafted like a self-made jigsaw, come from this visual idealism.
Best seen in their original form the pictures are intricate and unique. In their creation is a calm happy place for me, one where I am in that sweet spot between consciousness and subconscious. Piece by piece, thought by thought I cut and stick to form a whole that when I step back I wonder how that came about.
When I was a youngster I would get frustrated that my art did not look like I had envisioned. That I could not recreate on paper the picture that I had in my head. But my paper artworks never start from a whole vision, it begins like a building, first the walls go in place, then I furnish the building with pretty furniture from my imagination and add personal items that belong to the imaginary owners, curated over their lives.
Ta-Da… My Latest Picture Revealed
I very recently completed what I feel is my latest masterpiece, “Hot Days Eating Cool Ice Cream”. Like the earlier smaller (A4) Beach Huts, Allotments and Ski Chalet (all in the strip above), it is pretty with details and interest, always something more to see, but this new piece is A3 and packed with pictorial love from corner to corner.
I created the Ice Cream artwork with new colour understanding after studying the relationships between colours. As a result it really pops off the page.
So here it is for your visual consumption. Have a Flake with that.
Hot Days Eating Cool ice Cream is a design made entirely from pieces of paper cut into shapes to make a bright, colourful work of art. The design feature an ice cream cafe on a sunny day. The ice-cream maker also sells the delicious ice creams out and about in the sparkly ice-cream van.
Two girls are at the cafe to enjoy ice-cream and a small white dog trots by to in the hope of a little chocolate or sweet treat.
In the distance people enjoy the fun and thrill of a rollercoaster ride and a plane flies overhead to spread the work about the wonderful ice-creams.
This is my first paper cut work that prominently features people. This was a challenge, at first I painted people and cut and added those, but later recreated them in paper and am happier with the paper characters.
Here are some details from the picture… (watermarked).
And now the fun starts on creating canvases, fabric and products which will take the picture out and about and on the move in the world.
I am seeking an art agent or art business mentor/manager to assist my art out into the world. Please share my post so that it can find its way to the ideal person to help.
If you’ve enjoyed this post here are related posts to feast your eyes and imagination on. Enjoy!
Following on from my previous post with the learnings up to the point of hanging the exhibition, this is the next instalment of tips and advice if planning an art show.
Thankfully my husband helped me to hang my art exhibition artworks on the walls of the cafe. The cafe had a picture rail so it was a matter of popping to the local angling shop to buy fishing wire strong enough to hold the artworks. Then hanging them, adding the prints, ensuring everything was labelled, and making sure that the Inventory was correct.
Fishing Wire: Know that it stretches depending on weight of the item it is displaying. Know roughly how much your artworks weigh – so you can select your fishing wire , if that is your hanging method. I didn’t know that fishing wire unknots itself, so you need to triple knot the ends. Canvases can hang with the top away from the wall when hung with fishing wire, so you may need something to pull them into the wall like a sticky fixing.
Exhibition Guide: It occurred to me the morning we were due to hang that the story of each artwork and its inspiration were relevant and may be of interest to visitors. The artist cannot always be at the venue so a succinct Exhibition Guide can work to inform on your behalf. I printed two copies of the guide and packed it as I had done the prints, in crystal cell bags with a cardboard sheet to support. This meant they would be fit for purpose at the exhibition and enabled the visitor to move around the exhibition with the Guide.
At the launch evening the guides were useful for people to be able to browse at their own pace.
Enjoy whatever happens: When the launch evening came I didn’t know how many people would arrive, when or whether they would pop in, stay a while, ask questions, or just want to look. Best to be relaxed and go with the flow.
Put plenty of you into the event: Its nice to have a professional cake and catering, but be sure that you have carefully thought about what to choose, how to display and how to ensure that the choices are your creative way. The personal touch can make all the difference and make the show more original. This makes for a more interesting, fun and memorable event.
Questions and Answers: I have organised travel events for journalists but an art event was new to me. I didn’t know what to expect, what people might ask, and therefore how I might explain or answer. I suggest having a think beforehand, either alone of with a couple of friends, consider what people may ask and give thought to artwork explanations that you may not have vocalised before.
Other activity: Think beforehand about whether you might like to do other activity alongside the exhibition. Once my exhibition was in place I felt very strongly that I wished to host an art workshop in the exhibition space, it would be the first of such an evert. Once my artworks were on the walls it felt fitting to practice art with likeminded people there.
Secondly I thought that I would have liked to have unveiled a new artwork part way through the show, my exhibition is live for five weeks so that is something I would have done in hindsight.
Younger Visitors or Young at Heart: As I launched my exhibition in the school holidays I thought that it would have been nice to produce some colouring or activity sheets for children to make the exhibition more interactive for them, and left a pot of crayons or coloured pencils with them. Maybe a children’s art workshop would have been nice.
Dedicate Time: I know that as my artworks are at the cafe I feel very drawn to be in that space, I would suggest ensure that there is some flexibility in your schedule to be able to go there when you feel inclined.
Later today I am opening my first art exhibition so here is the post I would have liked to have read before I started out. Here’s what I have learned so far and what I wish I had known.
1. Create in standard proportions
Do this right from the start. This will make it easier when framing, reproducing and packaging your artwork and prints. Otherwise you’ll have to lose some of your image, have white space or have to use more expensive customised fittings.
When creating something that you may wish to reproduce on canvas have enough space around the main subject (s) to wrap around a canvas frame, this means that you needn’t lose any of the work and will avoid time spent stretching or mirroring the image to make it cover the frame.
2. Learn how to scan, stitch scans together and colour match/adjust.
Find someone to teach you, this will save time, money and give you more control.
3. Be open to opportunities
In July 2015 I hobbled painfully on my recovering leg on a journey I had planned since the previous December. Whilst skating in the Christmas Show at Ice Sheffield Anwen, owner of Cafe and Gift Shop Airy Fairy, had seen my art on a cosmetic bag and suggested I visit her shop to discuss options for displaying my work.
Major knee injury just days after first speaking to Anwen had delayed my visit to her shop; but on meeting Anwen we discussed my work and she offered a five week exhibition in the cafe.
As my art is bright and sunny so I felt that it suited the month of April, so we scheduled the exhibition. I had seized the opportunity that arose through the chance encounter. I knew I would learn a great deal through the preparation process and would be able to show my art to a wider audience.
4. Measure and photograph the exhibition space
Don’t be shy about getting a measure of the exhibition space. Measure the space, take photographs.
Decide roughly how you will exhibit in the space and then curate from your art. I had lots of doubts, “do I have too many pieces” or “too few”. A scale drawing of the space would have enabled me to visualise the exhibition better, sooner and saved me time on the long run. Ask for a floor plan, your venue may have one.
Visit the venue to see how other artists have worked in the space and consider what works and what you might like to do.
5. Edit your collection
Deciding what to include is difficult, I thought about what would be popular, what would people like, what would suit the customer base. What I should have thought from the start was – which artworks do I like best, which show my skill/ability and are my greatest accomplishments. Those are the pieces to include. I came to under stand that we cannot control other people’s interpretations or how they will respond, not everyone will like everything as art is very individual.
6. Ask for supplier recommendations
I wanted to do as much as the process myself, so that I cold maximise the learning and my understanding of what goes into producing canvases and prints. I learned a about paper stock, print colours, calibration, image resolution, file format, scanning, canvas quality, canvas frames, hanging fittings, fishing wire, labelling, packaging, copyrighting and my nemesis… pricing.
7. Research and Read
I referred to Lisa Congdon’s Art Inc, Kelly Rae-Roberts Flying Lessons and Lila Rogers Make Art That Sells throughout the process. If anything I wish that I could have had a knowing artist buddy by my side who had been through a similar process.
8. Log all component costs into a spreadsheet as you go
Log all the artwork components and packaging elements so that you have your cost prices per artwork calculated well enough in advance. Pricing is challenging, so the baseline cost price is important.
9. Have someone to bounce off
A friend that can give a second opinion and to help you set up the show will calm your doubts and make it more fun.
10. Enjoy the process – stay creative
An exhibition is very personal and is you showing the fruits of your creativity and hard work. I found that when I wasn’t enjoying the preparation process it was because I wasn’t being creative enough. I learned to stop and think of a more creative approach which enabled me to be the artist, to be innovative unique and original. I also liked it when things were more personal and quirky. Our printer decided not to print anything in black ink just days before the event, but I have to say that I am pleased with the results and glad that it challenged me to find other ways and colours to express in.
11. Accept that there will be admin tasks
Spreadsheets, contracts, insurance documents, inventories, price lists, advertising, press releases, invitations, briefing notes. It’s all part of the process, it can be fun when you find a creative approach and know that this is to celebrate your work and give the art the chance to breathe and be seen beyond your home or studio.
12. Don’t over complicate, don’t stress
This is art, it’s not definitive. Focus on showing the best you can, what happens from there is out of your control.
13. Appreciate your followers
Their belief and support is infinitely valuable, remember that when feeling doubtful or confused.
14. Keep going and believe in yourself.
If it is, like me, your first exhibition this is totally new and so it will be challenging but keep going and believe in yourself, who knows where it will lead. There will be set backs, just now I’m waiting to pack the artworks into the car but I can get through the hall as there is a man working on our broken boiler. Hopefully the boiler breaking is the only setback today. Lastly, celebrate how far you have come and be open-minded about the future.
My art exhibition runs for the next five weeks until 2nd May at Airy Fairy, London Road, Sheffield. The exhibition comes after a journey into art, see the blog posts about the 52 Art Challenges that I completed on the way.