Tuesday, 24 February 2015

February's Work in Progress -


The time-consuming health distractions that beset me in January have continued into February with a very bad back and then concerns about my blood pressure meaning that I've spent more time in my doctor's waiting room than I would have liked. Thankfully I've now been told that my blood pressure isn't actually anything to worry about and my ECG was also fine. That's a relief but it's all been time-consuming!

So I'm quite surprised at how much 'work' I've managed to complete since I my last 'Work in Progress' blogpost, a month ago!

First there were the birthday cards for two of my teenage grandsons . .

 

 . . . and one for their mother, my eldest daughter, somehow completed and sent off in time - 




I've also finally finished a hand-painted paper collage to illustrate a quote that's been sitting in my ToDo file for at least a couple of years!

It's probably my favourite definition of a really good friend -
but I've found they are hard to come by
so I focus on trying to BE that friend to others!



And while all the messy collage stuff was out of its box, I made a couple of little friends for Finnegan the Fish - Freddie and Fiona. 


I hope I'll have completed some Greeting Cards for the Persian New Year with Finnegan and a pattern with all three fishes by the time I'm writing next month's Work in Progress blog post.



Shortly after Christmas, Zazzle added fabrics to their wide range of products - excellent news! But at about the same time, they put in a new algorithm for searching the Market Place and that has meant a lot of extremely tedious work for us shopkeepers! (Oh for a team of minions - or at least a willing Creative Assistant!)

So I'm still working with the 'Heffalumps' that featured on my grandson's birthday card, making a pattern collection for products on Zazzle, encouraged by having won a category prize in the Zazzle Fabrics competition. *see foot of post.

This will probably become a Pillow/Cushion

I can imagine this pattern on a little boy's pyjamas,
with a different coloured background, maybe.


I had planned to spend most of my 'zazzling' time putting my existing designs and patterns on the hundreds of new products that have been introduced since I opened my Posh & Painterly store in August 2013. I've managed to do quite a lot of that, most recently working on the 'Spring Sunshine' collection - but not as much as I'd hoped!



I never thought I'd do this, but in a 'mad moment' one afternoon, I actually put a design on some chocolate brownies and shortbreads! The thing I've learned about selling online is that you never know what people are actually going to buy!
 

And I've also made a start on creating gifts for St Patrick's Day, featuring my 'Shamrocks' collection!


So I've been pretty busy - and even when I'm relaxing in the evenings, watching my favourite WhoDunnits, I haven't been entirely idle. I don't know whether it's a result of spending so much time on the laptop, creating products and greeting cards that don't actually exist until somebody actually orders them.

But I've had a real yearning to make things, using my hands, real things, things you can actually handle!

A friend sent me a paper bead necklace for my birthday last year and it fascinated me. Apart from anything else, it appealed to me because I already have everything needed - scrap paper, glue and cocktail sticks. 

So I made a start, rolling strips of magazine paper around cocktail sticks, moving on to newspaper, junk mail and my favourite so far, wallpaper. I'm not very good at rolling them evenly yet but I am improving and I find it actually quite therapeutic!

I just KNEW I'd find a use for that plastic insert from a box
of biscuits - NEVER throw anything away!!!

Strictly speaking, paper bead making doesn't require expensive materials or tools and that's always a plus for me, especially when it also uses up junk mail that would otherwise have to go in my recycling bag. But as you can see from the assorted shapes of the bigger 'beads' above, I'm not very happy with the evenness of my rolling so I've sent away for a paper bead roller which I'm hoping will improve my technique sufficiently to make something really wearable. What I shall do with them if I succeed, I have no idea. I already have more necklaces than I know what to do with. 

Maybe it'll be making for making's sake?

I made the mistake of searching for Craft Ideas on Pinterest - now there's an occupation to while away those long winter evenings! I'm just dying to get back to some papier mache and some salt dough craft. I'm also attracted to the idea of Shrink Plastic, mosaic and decoupage on bottles - though I'll have to make some Coq au Vin and a Boeuf Bourgignon to liberate some wine bottles!

I've made hand-sewn patchwork quilts in the past. Here's a nice bright cot-quilt I made a while back - the design is an Islamic one:




But now I'd like to try my hand at applique.


So many ideas, so little time!
Watch this space . . .

*My winning pattern in the Zazzle competition 
















Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Pomegranate - Friend or Foe?

I haven't eaten a pomegranate since I was a small child.

And there's a reason! Born during WW2 and growing up during 'rationing', I can vaguely remember that imported fruits weren't always available. But somehow pomegranates found their way into my diet and I loved them, not so much for their taste as for their novelty value. Unlike other fruits, it's the seeds that we eat and it was that peculiar difference that made them so attractive to me.

But then, a week before my eighth birthday, I was rushed to hospital with a burst appendix and I found myself on the 'critical list' for a week. I can't remember who it was, but someone told me afterwards that it was eating pomegranate seeds that caused the emergency - and I took this to heart and have avoided them ever since.

But I'm sure that the pomegrate seeds weren't to blame and, reading about the potential health benefits of this rather unusual fruit, I'm tempted to give them a try again while they're still in season.

As fruit, I don't think they look particularly tempting. But their colours caught my eye in the market, ranging from cream to orange and pink to crimson, especially vivid against the bright blue of their packaging -  


I wonder how they'll taste!

Friday, 6 February 2015

Sheep From my Posh & Painterly Cymru Store!



Did you know that there are more sheep in Wales than there are people? (And because I'd never been to Wales at the time, I managed to mis-read an important exam question, and wrote a very convincing essay on why there are NO sheep in Wales - a great lesson in always reading the instructions/question!) So here are just a few from my Posh & Painterly Cymru store on Zazzle . . .



Tuesday, 3 February 2015

A Warm and Spicy Pot Pourri Colour Palette


We still haven't had much real snow, down here in Abergavenny.

But we have had some very low temperatures and wind blowing straight down from the Arctic bearing icy hail and sleet!

So I think it's a time to be thinking of hot spicy dishes and warming mulled wine, perhaps, to keep out the winter chills. This pot pourri not only spreads a wonderfully spicy fragrance but the colours are warm and cosy too!



I love the way the warm pink and orange-ish colours are balanced by the blue and white of the Spode dish.

If you can make a pattern or any sort of design using some of these seven colours, I'd love to see it - you can post it on the social media with the hashtags: #potpourri #colourpalette

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

GORGEOUS GIFTS from my Folk Heart Collection

GORGEOUS GIFTS from my Folk Heart Collection
on my other


It doesn't need to be Valentine's Day to give our loved ones a gift that makes them feel extra-special! (but woe betide anyone who forgets 14 February!)

Here are some gorgeous gifts from my Folk Heart Collection, with something to suit all budgets - and a matching Valentine's card and Giftwrap as well! 





Tuesday, 20 January 2015

A Snowy Colour Palette for January

Even a light dusting of snow was enough to make the Smiley
face that overlooks Bailey Park, perfectly clear to see!

Some people insist that snow is white.

I suppose that's true - technically! But when an artist paints a snow-scape, all sorts of colours other than white somehow seem to appear, almost as if by magic!

For example, here is one of my pastel paintings of snow from quite a few years ago. I always try to put down exactly what I see and here I must have seen pinks, blues and purples in the shadows and warm, 'creamy' whites where the low winter sunshine streams through the trees. 

Snowy track at Whitecastle - soft pastel painting from a photograph


(Click here  for a blog post from way back, that includes some snow paintings by famous painters, such as Monet.)

We've had very little of 'the white stuff' down here in Abergavenny, so far this winter; though at times the peak of Sugarloaf has been gleaming brightly in the sunshine, aspiring to outshine the Matterhorn, no doubt.

But a few winters ago, we did have a significant snowfall, enough to make venturing forth with a camera worthwhile. And this photo is still one of my favourites, because of all the different colours the low winter sun revealed as it did its best to penetrate the trees in the park.



And, interestingly, I think there are as many 'warm' colours in this snowy palette as 'cool' ones!

I've sometimes heard people say that the first thing an artist must do is 'learn how to see'. 

I'm not sure about that. I can't ever remember 'learning to see' or anything like that. But I do think it makes life more interesting, not just for artists, if we can sometimes take the time to notice the shapes and the colours all around us, even in things we see so often that we take them for granted. 

Taking photos is easy nowadays: most of us have a digital camera or a smartphone. So why not make a point of noticing the surprising colours  - and shapes  - in your everyday surroundings. And if you can, take a photo and post it on the social media with the hashtag: 

#CelebrateTheEveryday

(you may even discover, as I have, that your everyday surroundings are so fascinating, that expensive holidays/vacations lose some of their attraction!)