Monday, 28 January 2013

Nottingham Festival of Words


As you may know I am taking part in the very first Nottingham Festival of Words which runs throughout February 2013. I found out about the Festival last summer and applied to take part. As I had been working on some ideas incorporating words into my work it seemed like it was perfect timing and I was over the moon when my application was accepted and I was invited to be Artist In Residence.

I took part in the launch event which took place in September and I sketched 'live' in response to the events of the evening, something I had never done before. The poster I produced, Nottingham Loves Words, which you can see below, is now available for auction, the details of which you can find here.


I have been working hard on a new body of work for the Festival which is inspired by famous literary love quotes, song lyrics and poetry and this will be exhibitied in the foyer of the Newton Buliding at Nottingham Trent University over the middle weekend of the Festival, the 16th and 17th February I will also be hosting a participative artwork over the course of the weekend, which will feature a large scale interactive artwork which members of the public and visitors to the event can contribute to. It's all very exciting, and I'm very muich looking forward to the whole festival.

For more information on events you can download an event brochure and programme here.

On that note I will leave you with a work in progress, a quote from Mr William Shakespeare...


Thursday, 24 January 2013

Finding Inspiration - remembering forgotten ideas


Do you ever get stuck for ideas when you are embarking on a new project? I do, and I know I'm not the only one. Creative Thursday, the book review of which you can read here, gave me a few ideas for finding new inspiration and I think that looking back through old sketchbooks can really get the grey matter working again and fire up your creativity.


I have a cupboard full of sketchbooks, of all shapes and sizes, some crammed full of sketches, doodles and notes, some may have been started with a new idea which filled a few pages and then was forgotten, and some are empty, their pages blank, full of possibility...

Whilst I was looking for something in the depths of my huge cupboard the other day I came across a sketchbook I started a couple of years ago. It's a beautifully designed Eco-Jot ring-bound pad A4 made of recycled paper. I bought it on holiday and had forgotten all about it after filling a few pages with my ideas. I had wanted to start a food-inspired project, as I'm a bit of a foodie, love cooking and do like spending time in the kitchen. I had two pages of research ideas and things I wanted to explore, but then something else came along, I got dragged away and I forgot all about it.


On rediscovering my sketchbook I sat and browsed for a few moments and it really took me back to my Foundation Course and the processes I used to go through when starting a new project. I think I have become so focussed on my current technique/themes/content of my ink illustration I was surprised to realise that I seem to have temporarily forgotten about everything else, all of the other possibilities, materials, ideas, and processes that I've used in the past. At college we were encouraged to do our primary and secondary source research and list possibilities we wanted to explore. I was intrigued to read through my list of ideas and remind myself of all the things I'd thought of - photography, visiting market stalls, buying samples, tasting them, using fruit and veg to print with, looking through my cookery books, going through my image box, sticking and collaging images into my book....

It was refreshing to see how I'd experimented with other media, monoprinting, which I used to love, painting, collage. This has made me realise that I need to continue to experiment with my work and it has also re-awakened my enthusiasm for a food-inspired project. I have a busy few months ahead but this is definitely something I want to explore again. So, thanks to Creative Thursday, the book I reviewed last week, my creativity and inspiration has been sparked and I feel like I can't wait to get on with it!!

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Book Review - Creative Thursday by Marisa Anne


So it's New Year and I'm only just getting back into the habit of blogging a bit more regularly than once a month!! Last year I was asked to review some 'creativity' books. This has been a really enjoyable experience. I published my first review in November last year and the plan was to do one every month, but then December ran away with me and it's now January. Oh well, best intentions aside, I'm proud to be able to bring you my little review of Creative Thursday by Marisa Anne, an inspiring artist and textile designer from Los Angeles. I love how this book looks and I also love Marisa's whole philosophy and a lot of the things she talked about throughout the book really resonated with me.


I'll start by saying that the introduction grabbed me straight away and I really identified with a lot of the things  Marisa said, which made me think that I was going to enjoy the book a lot. So I delved straight in to the pages which were filled with Marisa's delightful illustrations and structured chapters covering all aspects of creativity, from setting out your intentions of what you want to create, believing in them and visualising how they will look before you take action and make them happen.


It was reassuring to discover that I'm not the only creative who suffers from procrastination and resistance every now and then, there are some great tips for how to deal with this, especially when you feel as if you can't move away from it. Self-doubt and negative inner voices are also dealt with, and again, this seems to be something we all suffer from, it's in our nature. Marisa gives us ways to look past this and to be more accepting of our imperfections and to embrace what we are and where we are in our lives.

There are also chapters on finding inspiration, feeding your creativity and making time to enjoy gathering inspiring images, photos, etc and Marisa encourages recording this whole process, using journals, sketchbooks etc and I love the idea of forming your own 'creative wellspring' of inspiration, what you can dip back into during your creative lows. She encourages opening your mind and being inspired by the simple things in life and getting back to basics.  I love this approach to creativity, my own home and kitchen, cooking and following recipes has given me lots of inspiration for new work in the past.


This is a lovely book (I think the only criticism I would have would be the font size, which for me was a little small), it was well thought out, full of inspiring ideas, colourful and quirky, and Marisa's characters were really loveable, personally I think they would make great characters for a childrens book. It will be a great one to read in one sitting but also to keep on hand to dip into every now and again when you feel you need a boost or a bit of direction.

If you would like the chance to win this book, please leave a comment telling me about something that has inspired you so far in 2013. Closing date is 31st January and I'll inform the winner in Feb.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

The Simple Things - New Year Wishlist




So, this is a new magazine I discovered over Christmas and it is chock full of beautiful imagery, interiors, interviews etc, all themed around The Simple Things in life being the most-fulfilling. I'm not the only one to have discovered this little gem, I also noticed Alison Bartram from Heart Gallery in Hebden Bridge had blogged recently on a similar theme, and her lovely blog post inspired me to reflect on my wish-list for 2013 which I made recently. Like Alison, I have decided to keep my personal wish-list simple so here it is:

1. Watch less TV: So often the TV is on in the background and we end up, especially at the time of year, mindlessly watching whatever crap is on. Well, no more, I'm taking charge of the remote and switching it off... Instead I'm going to enjoy the silence and...

2. Read more books. The last few years as I have got busier with my art business my reading has suffered and I have only seemed to have time to read on holiday. I love reading and can easily devour a book in a day, I love more than getting lost within the pages of a right good read. Now I have my new Kindle I'm resolving to read more books, and to try some of the classics, a Thomas Hardy or Jane Austen perhaps...

3. Get more sleep - since New Year I have been making more of an effort to go to bed earlier, and as a result, I feel loads better. I'm also cutting down on my alcohol intake (after a rather over-indulgent New Years Eve Party!) and getting to bed at least an hour earlier. Result - much more energy and feeling lots more positive.

4. Be thankful - One thing I thought of to kick the New Year off on a positive note it to write in my diary every day ONE thing I'm really thankful for that day. Today I could have been really miffed that I had a 20 mile drive to work in the snow, but instead I turned this negative thought into a positive one and was thankful I got to see so much beautiful snowy scenery on my frosty drive to work.

5. Do more things I've never done before, challenge myself more and step out of the comfort zone, let's see how that goes.

6. Fly a kite - this has been on my wish list for a few years. I need to do this in 2013!

So there is my little wish-list... what's on yours??

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Sketchbooks Peeks - Suzanne Washington

So this January I'm pleased to say I'm working on a whole new series of Sketchbook Peeks. I've had a lot of interest so I'll be bringing you at least one 'peek' per month, to keep it manageable, weekly posts were a little too much so I think to keep it all easy I'll be posting one or two a month


This week we have Suzanne Washington, surface pattern designer....

Before we start, tell us a little about yourself/how did you get into art/craft/design career and how it all started and where you are now
I studied printed textile design when I was at Loughborough university and since graduating have produced prints, patterns, surface designs and illustrations for a number of product areas which have sold internationally. I have also spent some time working for the high street and have been commissioned by brands such as Ness and Harrods. Last year I completed an online course called the Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design and I am now developing my own style in order to gain more commissions and license artwork to more products.



Ooh, I'm intrigued to find out a bit more about the Surface Pattern Design Course, I've read a lot about it, and have quite fancied doing it myself. Can you tell us a little more about it?
Well even though I have been working in the industry for a number  of years and have previously studied printed textile design I felt that I had lost a little bit of the passion for design and felt the need to go back to basics and re-ignite my inspiration and open new doors of opportunity. I learnt a lot on the course the main benefits for me were ideas on presentation and how to promote yourself and create a brand identity as well as new avenues that I hadn’t really been aware of prior to the course like understanding licensing.



There was also a strong sense of community through the classroom and flicr forums which I have made a few friends through who provide vital feedback on my work and have encouraged me to have confidence in my work. One of the things that was very lacking in the final year of the university course that I did, was crits and peer group feedback, which helps you develop as a designer and give you confidence in presenting your work to the world! As a result I entered and won some competitions and have also have developed my own wallpaper collections with Art 2 Start and Wallpapered.com. I am now looking to expand my collections and open to receive licensing opportunities and commissions directly rather than solely via agency

How long have you been using sketchbooks?
Since university so about 10 years or so.

How often do you sketch?
I sketch or 'doodle' every day to create my designs, most of it is very rough with a lot of notes and annotations but occasional sit down and draw something really neatly.



How do you feel about the prospect of starting a new sketchbook?
I tend to sketch rather small scale so it takes me a while to fill one but I love a fresh sketchbook and feel I don't want to spoil it with my spider scribble!

When/where do you get your inspiration for your sketchbook pages?
I sketch from photographs or doodle ideas with notes about designs I am planning.



How would you describe your creative process?
I tend to plan quite a bit with lists of what to drawn and then draw icons which I scan into a computer to trace and colour up for a design.

Have your sketchbooks evolved over the years and if so, how?
I used to fill them with magazine clippings and be more like a scrapbook in a way, but now I research more online and collect things in Pinterest etc. so they are now purely for drawings and notes.



What is your favourite medium to work with?
Black pens! Anything from biros, fine liners to marker pens.

Do you have a favourite sketchbook?
Yes I have one that I have been using for a while that I just keep adding to.



If you had to pick one favourite page which would it be and why?
The first page has a nice soft pencil drawing that I have used a few times as background filler so its been very useful!


Well a big thank you to Suzanne for taking part in the first Sketchbook Peek of 2013. i'm sure you will all agree it's great to nose into sketchbooks again! If you want to find out a bit more about Suzanne and what she gets up to you can check out her website here and her blog here and if you want to find out a bit more about the Surface Pattern Course Suzanne mentioned you can read all about it here

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Looking backwards and forwards



I don't know about you, but the 'end of the year' time of year for me is a time for thinking, mulling things over, planning ahead, looking back at achivements, reflecting, cogitating, pondering, looking back and looking forward... I love going through this process. Looking back at where I was this time last year and where I am now gives me a great sense of achievement, it makes me feel really positive to look back at what I ahve done and it reinforces my sense of purpose for me and my business.

I think 2012 has been the best one so far for me and my creativity. I've taken so many journeys out of my comfort zone and feel as I am really hitting my stride. I feel inspired and driven and I want to succeed and I have a clearer idea than I've ever had before about what I want to achieve and how I want to do it. It's a good place to be and I'm loving every moment.

I also think the beginning of the year time is a time for planning new ventures and making that WISH LIST of what you want out of the coming year. I'm hoping 2013 is going to be even bigger and better and I have lots of exciting things in store, being the Artist in Residence for the Nottingham Festival of Words for one thing, is something I'm MEGA excited about. I'll also be taking part in the 5th SOCK Fair, at Loughborough Town Hall and will be returning to the British Craft Trade Fair in Harrogate in April. So a very busy beginning of the year for me. I also have a showwcase at Ferrers gallery which opens next week from 11th january 2013 until 24th March where you will be able to see some of newest works, and browse a selection of prints and originals. very exciting!!

So, a question for you dear readers, what are you proud of achieving in 2012 and what are your plans for 2013? I'd love to hear....

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