Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Traditionally Painted Designs for New Home Cards by Greeting Card Universe Artists..

...and a few that contain 'houses' for different occasions!

One of the artists who has contributed regularly to these post featuring GCU artists who use traditional methods, suggested that our next theme should be 'cottages'. (I wonder if you'll be able to guess who it was!). But to allow more people to participate, I broadened the theme to include any cards to do with moving house and also any that include a house or cottage, no matter what the occasion. 

So this time we have an even wider variety than usual for you to enjoy! Please click on the cards to see them full-size -

Cathie Richardson

Watercolour and Ink

Ana Ferreira


Judith Cheng


Alison Kolesar

Collages made with handpainted (watercolour) pieced paper
(Background and greeting added digitally)


Diana Ting Delosh
 Watercolour and Ink


Lisa Charlton

Aqua (Acrylic and Watercolour blend)

(Also available for apartments etc)

Lyn Hamer Cook
Acrylics on Canvas


Diana Liu

Watercolour and Ink

An updated version of the traditional Chinese Plum blossom painting. Plum blossom is one of the most beloved flowers in China.They bloom most vibrantly amidst the winter snow, after most other plants have shed their leaves, and before other flowers appear. They are seen as an example of resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity. 

Candace J Hardy


Bambi Papais

Lynda Linke

Brushtip Markers and Coloured Pencils



Michele Naquaiya



Judy Adamson 
Handpainted Paper Collage


If you enjoyed this post of traditionally drawn and painted greeting cards from GCU artists, please leave a comment and/or click on the +1 button at the end of the post.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Today on Mugs, Mousepads and More...

(Quite a lot of people are completely unable to publish their blogger posts - and I'm one of them! But I've found a workaround that I've used for my other blog and I'm hoping it'll work here too!)

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Guest Post by GCU Artist and Author, Susan Alison

Today's post is an 'interview' with Susan Alison, watercolour artist and author. 

Susan has illustrated her replies to my questions with some of her dog and cat illustrations. And you can see more of Susan's lovely watercolour paintings by clicking on these links - 

I asked Susan: 

When did you begin painting?
I took up painting as a serious endeavour twenty years ago when I needed to earn a living from home. I lived in the Forest of Dean at the time, so it was no hardship studying all those trees and expanses of water and trying to get them down on paper. It was incredibly naive to think I could earn a living from it just like that though! And, I couldn't - but I gave it a pretty good go, and my first painting sold from an exhibition in Monmouth Museum (ie a 'proper' venue) so I was pretty chuffed about that. I painted that particular picture twenty-three times before I was happy with it, and it is still engraved on my mind...

Most of my paintings back then were landscapes - I still paint some vistas but nowadays there'll be a dog in them eg 'Good Morning, Morning' in which a Border Collie says hello to a new day.

My circumstances changed and I stopped painting, taking it up again five years ago when I decided that surely there was a way through the internet to make it work.

The most valuable thing I've learned from my current experience is that you simply can't tell upfront what is going to sell. This means that, if you have to sell your work in order to keep doing it, your most important characteristic is persistence. I paint to sell. It's my job. All kinds of artists succeed and all kinds fail, and I fancy the main difference between the two is persistence - the presence or the absence of it. You just have to keep pounding away at the keyboard if you wish to succeed online.

Did you go to Art College or have any formal art training?
My art training has been a do-it-yourself learning curve.

I've had no formal art training. I believe there are some things (for me) that are better learnt on the job, and painting is one of them. I could spend a long time learning about how to do it instead of just doing it. Not only that, but I learn something new from every painting I do, so the training goes on for ever, although I've never again painted a picture twenty-three times...

What is the most valuable thing you've learned and who taught you that?
The most valuable thing I've learned about painting is to fight the fear that comes with a nice, new, clean, expensive piece of watercolour paper - just splash the paint on, and then resist the urge to fiddle with it. I learnt this from Edward Seago (see below). I also used very big brushes when I started out, which gave me lots more confidence.

What is your favourite medium and why?
My favourite medium is watercolour. It doesn't smell; it's quick to apply, quick to dry; easy to wash out of your hair and off the furniture. What I really love about it, though, is its translucence. Some very skilled oil painters can get close to that effect by painting it, but watercolour owns that effect and doesn't have to put it on. Its very nature is translucence and it only gives it up if one insists on messing with it.

Who is your favourite artist/illustrator etc? Have you been particularly influenced/inspired by any other artists? When I started out I was fascinated by people like Whistler, Sargent and Edward Seago because of the luminous quality of their work. I don't look so much now because I don't want to be influenced by anyone else and I don't want to subconsciously pick up other people's ideas. Mind you, I do sometimes watch the changing parade of cards on the front of GCU and marvel at the varieties of artistic expression. There will always be something new. That's how I feel, too - no matter how long I live I'll never live long enough to paint all my ideas. My inspiration comes to me now from my surroundings, wherever I am, in everyday life, but especially from nature and animals, particularly dogs. They can find joy where no one else can.

Where do you sell your paintings?
I sell my original paintings, mainly ACEOs, (Art Cards, Editions and Originals, sometimes called Artist Trading Cards or ATCs), but bigger sizes too, on eBay, along with prints, greeting cards, coasters and books.

My ebay store is here ;
there is also a store on Etsy
but my images can be found on several print-on-demand websites like

Which came first - writing or painting? 
Writing came first, but then I felt compelled to illustrate what I'd written, so it’s a close run thing. My very first book was called 'The Cat' and was illustrated in wax crayons. This cat had many more than the usual nine lives and firmly believed that raspberry ripple icecream cured seasickness. I still paint cats now, so maybe the original one was a foretelling of what was to come... 

These days, my cats are into so much more than just icecream though, whether they're stalking harebells...

...or line dancing to soothe 'their achy breaky hearts'. 

I would love to write and illustrate my own children's books but so far I haven't managed to fit that ambition into my life. The closest I've got to that is doing the cover art for my first grown-up book:

'White Lies and Custard Creams' is a romantic comedy with a dash of mystery - and, yes - there's a dog in it... (Well, there was bound to be...) It's on Amazon for Kindle for $1.59 here:  and for 97p here

Which is your best-selling/favourite greeting card? I'm quite fond of my whippet and greyhound painting of an egg and spoon race which has made a successful greeting card and print.

Although my cool surfing Labrador dudes comes a very close second...

 People seem to appreciate my less frivolous paintings too:

‘Forget me not’ ,


and ‘To Sleep, Perchance to Dream’. 

What is your next project or your plans and hopes for the future?
I have my second romantic comedy novel, 'Out from under the Polar Bear', finished but for a final polish, and I have to paint the cover art. That will be uploaded to Kindle before Christmas and I want to upload a new book every year from now on.

The painting of pictures will go on as usual. I really need to get more organised about using the images though, so maybe 'getting organised' should be my main ambition for the forseeable future...

In the meantime, everyone's support is much appreciated. 

I have a dog and cat artwork blog here: Monty and Rose and I'm on Twitter and Facebook if anyone would like to keep me company there, too. I love to hear from people and there is nothing more encouraging than when I get a response from someone telling me how cheered they are to see my pictures. 

You keep me going and I thank you very much!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Friday, 15 July 2011

Autumn already?

Do you see what I see? A tree beginning to show its Autumn colours? In July?

When I was tidying up my garden earlier this week, I noticed that some of the flowers that I associate with September are already in flower - anemones, montbretia (coppertips, falling stars). This chestnut tree really astonished me, though, when I noticed it on my way across the park to the shops this morning! 

But I suppose when you remember that my roses started to bloom a couple of months early, in April, this year, it's not surprising that the leaves are starting to turn  - in the middle of July!  


Thursday, 14 July 2011

Hedgehogs - my Naughty Pencil strikes again!

Oh dear! My naughty pencil has been getting up to its old tricks! 

I read somewhere that hedgehogs are trending in the world of design and this is all that my pencil could come up with. I wonder whether anyone can suggest how I could make it into a greeting card suitable for some occasion or other?

But, being the long summer holidays, I thought my pencil might as well make itself useful by keeping some of the littlies amused for five minutes! 

So this Fairy Princess and Pirate are a bit of an experiment, which if it works, I'll repeat from time to time. They are the drawings from some of my most popular children's birthday and get well cards and I've uploaded them  full size (A4) so that they can be printed out and used as colouring sheets.

Fairy Princess


You need to click on them to see them full-sized, save them to your computer and print them out ready for colouring in! 

If someone could let me know whether this works OK, or if there are any changes I need to make, I'll post some rabbits, dragons, clowns.... and anything else I can think of that might keep those little hands busy!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Painting Fast and Furious!

'When I work, I work very fast, but preparing to work can take any length of time.' Cy Twombly

To be honest, looking at Cy Twombly’s work , it’s easier to believe the first part of that sentence than the second!

But in a way, I think I have some inkling of what he means. I normally work very fast – a pastel painting takes the length of a CD, usually about 45 minutes. And if it takes longer, I’ve often gone too far and ruined it. But, although it’s difficult to put into words what I mean by ‘preparing to work’, I sense that the preparation has been going on for quite a long time.

It seems to suit me to paint ‘fast and furious’, without stopping to think what I’m doing, whereas there are other artists who are more comfortable working slowly, meticulously and with a degree of patience that I can only aspire to! The son of one of our local newsagents who sells my greeting cards, showed me the beginnings of a pastel painting of a lily that he’s working on. He has nearly completed one little patch of a petal – and then he’s put it away to continue another time. I simply couldn’t work that way – I’d ‘lose my thread’ – but it obviously suits him.

I’d like to think that my approach is more like Quentin Blake’s –  Quentin in Action  - notice how he doesn’t wait for the first colour to dry completely before applying the stripes and how he doesn’t keep carefully  within the ink lines. A much ‘looser’ approach.

These Iceland Poppies probably took me all of 15 minutes but have become very popular as a Greeting Card Design.

But recently I’ve been trying to learn to paint more carefully and slowly and, after three weeks of nearly tearing my hair out in despair at my efforts, I do think I’ve ‘improved’ a bit. I can’t say that I’ve particularly enjoyed working this way but I do feel that if we are to grow as artists, we need to challenge ourselves to step outside our comfort zone once in a while.

What was a huge challenge for me, probably comes naturally to many artists. They have no problem painting neatly and carefully, waiting patiently for the paint to dry thoroughly before applying the next stage. Painting ‘fast and furious’ like I normally do, probably wouldn’t come as easily.

But I think it could be a very worthwhile exercise for someone who doesn’t normally paint that way, especially if they happen to be in a creative slump and need to find their way out of it.

I think it’s fascinating to see what happens on the ’20 Minute Challenge’ blog!

If you’re the kind of painter who prefers to take your time, you may wonder what can possibly be the point of rushing your work, risking making errors and probably not having time to finish. I believe there are at least two important advantages of working to a tight timetable - not necessarily 20 minutes.

1. Many a good painting is spoilt by too much detail! Often a more simplified approach better captures the essence of the subject.

2. Painting ‘fast and furious’ doesn’t allow you to think – and you all know by now how I feel about thinking about your art! Just as most people, in the heat of the moment of an emergency, will do daring deeds that they wouldn’t have thought they were capable of if they’d thought about it, if you don’t give yourself time to think about your painting, you will probably surprise yourself! When there’s no time to stop and reflect, your intuitive side can take over and you may well produce some of your best work.

At the very least, it will be interesting and may be enough to set you off on a new course or jog you out of any ‘staleness’.

So why don’t you try it. Follow the instructions on the Twenty Minute Challenge blog but you don’t necessarily have to use paints – something as direct and simple to use as children’s crayons could lead to unexpected results. Paint like a child, with complete abandon and the minimum of ‘thinking’!

Nobody need see what you’ve done – it’s all for fun! But if, on the other hand, you would like to email me your work, I would be happy to post it on my blog.

One of my 45 minute pastel paintings. There was a builder working in my house when I painted these geraniums and he always came up to my attic studio to see what I'd done before he left. Imagine my nervousness when he stretched out his none too clean hand as if he were going to touch the flowers because he couldn't believe they weren't 'real'!