Friday, 29 August 2014

Poppies In Flanders Fields . . .

Please feel free to pin or download and print this high-resolution A4-sized quotation

The Poppy is the August Birth Month flower. But it has also been adopted as the Symbol of Remembrance, honoring those who have sacrificed their lives in war.

So, as we commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War this month, it seems appropriate that the quotation should be from one of the most poignant poems about 'The Great War', the war that was supposed to end all wars.

You can read about the author, a Canadian physician, 
and how he came to write the poem after the Battle of Ypres, 

Friday, 15 August 2014

Ways to Cope with Too Many Ideas?

"A good artist has less time than ideas." -

Oh how true! And this doesn't just apply to those of us who are visual artists; anyone who allows their creativity to flourish must surely identify with this Kippenberger quote. 

Ideas are at the very heart of creativity and when they come thick and fast they can easily overwhelm us. Sometimes the torrent of ideas, all jostling for 
attention, can feel more like a burden than a gift. I know there are times when I despair of ever getting out from under the crushing weight of them. 

When panic sets in, the impossibility of acting on all of them can make me want to run away and do something completely unrelated!

But I never actually do that 
because there are ways of coping with
'Too Many Ideas Syndrome'!

First of all, I found that knowing that other people 'suffer' from the same thing was an enormous help. (Thank you, Internet!) And I read through various articles on the subject with suggestions for keeping our cool when ideas threaten to overwhelm us. 

Some of them work for me, others don't. 

But here are the main strategies you may want to try if you feel in danger of being overwhelmed by your stream of ideas:

1. Write down your ideas as soon as possible after they enter your mind. This was by far the most popular strategy and it's the one that I find works best for me. Whether you keep a special notebook for 'ideas-on-the-go' or various notepads and jotters around your house and work-space (especially near your bed!), it doesn't matter. You may even find a specially dedicated folder on your computer works best for you. 

The important thing is to get the ideas out of your head and onto paper, leaving your mind free to concentrate on the job in hand - which, in many cases, is simply falling asleep!

2. Take a little time to review your 'jottings' regularly. What you may well find is that some of the ideas that seemed brilliant at the time, may have lost their gloss while they were waiting for you to come back to them. If so, that's great! Cross them out, delete them or do whatever you do to get rid of them.

Having reduced the number of ideas a little, look closely and see if any of them relate to one another in a way that means they can be combined; or maybe some of them are almost duplicates. If so, that will reduce the ideas tally even further. 

The next step is to prioritize the remaining ideas and even, if you are anything like me, organise them into a realistic schedule for carrying them out.

Once those steps are done, 
you should feel a sense of freedom,
 a lightening of the load  of 'too many ideas'! 
You don't necessarily have to
 stick to your plan/schedule;
 just making it can be therapeutic.

If you've carried out these two steps - writing down your ideas and then pruning and prioritising them - and you still feel over-burdened, here are some other ideas I came across, none of which works as well for me as the steps above.

1. Take time out to meditate.

2. Repeat to yourself, or out loud: 'There is plenty of time.' (this one definitely doesn't work for me at my time of life.)

3. Convince yourself that whatever needs to be done will be done. (again, to me that would involve putting on heavily rose-tinted spectacles.) 

Have you heard the Latin phrase 
'Ars longa, vita brevis.'? 

It originated from the work of the Ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, and the true meaning, as interpreted by Wikipedia, is:  "it takes a long time to acquire and perfect one's expertise (in, say, medicine) and one has but a short time in which to do it"

But it's often translated as -

 'Art is long, Life is short!' 

 - and as such, I can't begin to count how many times a day it runs through my mind!

How do you cope with
Too Many Ideas?

Friday, 1 August 2014

Water Lilies in Wales!

The first time I went up to the top of the Blorenge Mountain, I was very surprised to find a large pond up there, on top of the mountain!

The little market town of Abergavenny lies down below, in between
the Blorenge and Sugarloaf Mountain that you can see in the distance.

And I was even more surprised to find water lilies on the pond.

The Water Lily, a relative of the Lotus flower, is a rather exotic flower, isn't it? Something you associate with tropical countries - or at least somewhere with plenty of sunshine? 

Certainly the last thing you'd expect to find on top of a mountain in Wet and Wild Wales. 

This photograph of Water Lilies on the Keeper's Pond
has become one of my best-selling Sympathy Cards

But there they were, blooming on the Keeper's Pond!

So I did a bit of internet 'digging' and discovered, here, that there are a great many different varieties of Water Lilies, some of them hardy enough to grow in temperate climates. 

The giant, tropical water lilies were first introduced into the UK in 1849 and grown in a specially built greenhouse at Chatsworth House. But there are others that seem to thrive in wild or semi-wild habitats - on top of the Blorenge, for instance!

In many cultures and religions, the Water Lily is regarded as sacred. Maybe it's the symbolism associated with the fact that they grow up through the mud in the dark at the bottom of the pond?

Wherever they grow, whether in the tropics or not, Water Lilies are always exquisitely beautiful. Monet certainly thought so!

One of Monet's many 'Water Lily' paintings
- probably my favourite.

And the Water Lily is the July Birth Month flower.

I was quite nervous about attempting to make a collage Water Lily for this month's repeating pattern. All those petals made from painted tissue paper could easily end up as a soggy mess. But I had already painted some for a July Birthday Card and I wanted to do something a bit different this time.

I began with a border - 

It didn't turn out too badly and, combined with another pond inhabitant, the dragonfly, it resulted in some interesting patterns -

So, here's this month's Birth Month Flower message:

Be like the Water Lily -

Please feel free to 'pin' this or
 download and print it.

Friday, 25 July 2014

My 'Lily Pond' Collection - 21 Gifts for the Home

My collage Water Lily and Dragonfly
 motifs have expanded into
 so many different patterns for my
'Lily Pond'

You can see them now, over on

(And be sure to check back often as I'm adding new products almost every day!)

Friday, 18 July 2014

From Traffic Hazard to Mini-print - my Rosy Posy Collection

Hidden amongst the many bushes and shrubs in my front garden is a Dog Rose. 

I didn't even know it was there because the rooms where I spend most of the daylight hours look out on my little back garden, so I tend to be largely unaware of what goes on at the front. 

And that's how I came to be taken by surprise when I realised that our record-breaking wet winter, followed by a warm April, had made everything grow like crazy, including a rampant Dog Rose, at the front!

It was hanging right over the pavement and into the road, a busy road with enough big lorries to make the overhanging greenery a potential danger to drivers!

So out came my tallest pair of steps, and, armed with secateurs, I was able to cut back the errant Dog Rose, just about succeeding in not dropping the cuttings (or myself!) onto the passing traffic.

Job done! 

But I really don't like throwing healthy blooms into the garden waste bag; so I cut off the flowers and filled all my smallest posy vases with them. 

At that point, I realised that I had never really looked at Wild Roses, even though they were the basis of those most English of symbols, the Red and White roses of the Mediaeval Houses of Lancaster and York and, of course, the Tudor Rose! 

(You can read about 'The Wars of the Roses', and see portraits of the colourful characters involved HERE!) 

The Red Rose of the House of Lancaster
The White Rose of the House of York

The Tudor rose, bringing the two warring Houses together

What I noticed when I looked more carefully, was that, compared to cultivated roses, the Dog Rose has a very simple petal arrangement.

And that's something that influences me strongly when I'm thinking of making a hand-painted paper collage! The painted tissue paper I use is still slightly transparent after painting so building layer on layer of petals for a more complicated flower could end up as a rather muddy-coloured papier mache! 

No such problem with the Dog Rose and once I had decided to try it as my 'model' for a new pattern, everything else on my To-Do list was swept aside in favour of what turned into my 'Rosy Posy' pattern collection!

I've made it with various background colours - Sky Blue, Moody Blue and Taupe, as well as the original, White -

And I teamed it with coordinating Polka Dots, Stripes and Check patterns to make a faux patchwork -

All this as the result of one wayward little Dog Rose!

Rosy Posy Collection

I hope you like my 'Rosy Posy' collection!

You can see more 'Rosy Posy' greeting cards and gifts

- and there will be lots more to come!!!