Sunday 30 January 2011

Greeting Cards from Original Designs

A couple of years ago I made a series of small mixed media paintings on watercolour paper using acrylic paint and soft pastels. They were designed to be simple, stylised illustrations suitable for greeting cards that I hoped one day to have printed. Well it’s only been a couple of years (where does all the time go?!) but at last I managed to find time to get a few of these designs printed into cards. I did the printing through moo to see how they would come out, and I’ve only printed a small print run so far – I hope to do more in the future.

This design I’ve called ‘Little White Bird (Heart Tree)’ for obvious reasons. Hopefully you can see the little pink hearts in the tree. It’s a simple design which I hope will appeal to many and can be used for lots of occasions. The cards are blank inside so people can add their own message and of course they come with envelopes.

Anyway, I’ve just listed this card on my Folksy shop today so at the moment only this one design is available. But I hope to add more soon.

Friday 21 January 2011

Stocking Up

A couple of days ago I had one of those days: where every time you try to start something you discover you can’t because you don’t have the stuff you need. It kept happening all day so I realized I’d better do some stocking-up this week.

One of the main missing essentials was canvases. As you can see in the photo I managed to treat myself to a few in the end. These are all square, ‘deep edge’ canvases from Windsor and Newton. Sizes range from 8 inch to 10 inch to 12 inch squared. And the great thing was they were all on sale at half price! So I might go back to the shop for more. The square size is something I’ve been drawn to lately as a compositional idea. It probably comes from the way I’ve been cropping photos for this blog (and my shop and flickr account). And it’s really good to have a selection of sizes to choose from too in case you feel the urge to scale up or down.

Getting stocked-up on materials and equipment for me doesn’t mean just visiting the art shop though. From a local bead shop on the island I bought a selection of brown and grey suede thongs, which I use for threading my pendants. These seem to suit my glazes and the style of my pendants the best. And then from my local kitchen shop I bought a couple of little wooden mustard spoons and a large pastry cutter in the shape of a heart. I’ve already used the pastry cutter to make some new ceramic heart decorations (which are currently drying out ready to be bisqued). As for the mustard spoons: I’ve been looking for those for months, so I was very excited to find them. They should help me work out the dimensions for designing a new set of mustard pots I plan to make.

So there you have it. Re-stocked. I suppose that means I don’t have any excuses now…!

Friday 14 January 2011

Cabin Fever

When you’re feeling cooped up the best thing to do is to get out and blow away some cobwebs. So last Sunday I packed a thermos full of tea, some sandwiches and took a spontaneous bike ride to the beach.

In my last post I mentioned how I was going to focus more on the creative side of things. (Oh yes, and the painting…) That’s all very well of course, but making yourself sit down and ‘be creative’ doesn’t always work. How may times have I sat staring at a blank canvas wondering what on earth to paint? On days like that I find the only way to cultivate ideas and creativity is to take the pressure off and absorb some new surroundings.

And so my ‘inspirational’ bike ride took me to the tiny seaside village of Gurnard. It’s a difficult place to describe. It’s not really a typical seaside place – there’s something a bit special about it. It’s tiny. It has a tiny bay and river with tiny boats and tiny pebble beaches. But what I like most about Gurnard are the groups of higgledy-piggledy wooden beach cabins that sit right along the coast.

What caught my eye about these particular cabins in the photos above is the stretch of open grass in front of them that runs right to the shore. No nonsense holidaying. And from these angles there’s a nice contrast between the flat grey walls of the functional sheds and those little squares of bright green and blue beyond.

Anyway, I quite liked the feel of these photos so in the evening I spent some time cropping and arranging them into composites like this one - which can be a really useful way of exploring possible compositions. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to do anything further with them yet (it’s been a busy week again!) but I hope to get some suitable sized canvases and maybe paint something from them soon.

Sunday 2 January 2011

Teapot Revisited: or, What Are We Doing This Year?

In the past couple of weeks I’ve had some time to relax away from making pots and painting, and reflect on just how busy 2010 was for me! Pretty much rushed off my feet for most of the year, or so it seemed! And although it’s been really good and I’ve learnt lots of things and had lots of positive feedback from people, in the last few months I’ve been feeling as though things were running away from me a bit: getting swept along in a rush. And so it seems a perfect time – especially since we’re firmly into 2011 already – for me to re-evaluate what I’m doing.

Hence the photos of this teapot. A long time ago, back in March 2010, I made this ‘unexpected teapot’. It was unexpected mostly because it was hand-built (which I don’t really do, being mostly a potter) and also because it was unplanned and fairly spontaneous. And ever since then I’ve been meaning to blog about it when it came out of the kiln. It came out months ago but I never had the time to mention it. So here it is at last: slightly wobbly around the edges for being hand-built, but charmingly so I hope! It’s been reduction fired in a gas kiln and glazed using a clear glaze that allows the natural iron in the clay to show through as a lovely speckled effect. It’s only small – it holds just enough for a single cup of refreshing green tea - but it’s very cute I hope you’ll agree, and for once I decided to keep it all for myself (which is something I rarely do these days!)

But the point I’m trying to make is that this teapot was an experiment - and recently I’ve been feeling that experiments and creativity have been a bit sidelined in all the noisy demands and logistics of running a small art/craft business. It’s probably inevitable at times that the ‘business’ side of things takes over, but I’ve decided that this year I’m going to be focusing much more on developing what I make by getting back to the creative side of things. Get the balance back. At least that’s the plan.

Oh yes, and I really must do some painting too…