We certainly have a bumper crop of pumpkins and Autumn fruits in our collection of Thanksgiving Greeting Cards by Greeting Card Universe artists who use traditional painting and drawing methods! But we have plenty of turkeys too, as well as Autumn leaves and Pilgrims!
Please click on the cards to see them in greater detail and to read the artists' notes about them, as well as purchasing details.
This Thanksgiving card is a painting of our own (pet) Narrangansett Turkey, named Billy. We have a female too that Billy is trying to win the affection of but she is more interested in Billy's reflection in the back porch sliding glass window - hilarious to watch but sad to see him so rejected. They are not the brightest birds. Even when he slinks off feeling defeated she'll stretch to see past her own reflection calling for the male she saw beyond the glass. One of these days I'll do a painting of him in full tail feather but for now, this is a close up of his head when he was younger.
For a while, a couple of weeks ago, Zazzle was doing ‘scheduled maintenance’ so I wasn’t able to upload images and post products for sale. Fair enough; the internet is ‘open’ 24/7 so obviously there have to be times when services are interrupted for repairs and upgrades to be made.
But when all that was done, many of us were left unable to post products for sale and there were all sorts of other bugs in the system. Several people reported finding other people’s products in their stores and for a few hours, clicking on any of my product categories brought up the ‘there are no products in this category’ message - arrrggghhh! All in all, it was mayhem and it wasted a lot of people’s time.
Not long before that, blogger decided to introduce a new interface and, as a result, many of us were completely unable to publish our posts and there were also various problems with uploading and inserting images, which continue even now. Blogger didn’t, as far as I know, offer any solutions on the Help Forum and in the end it was another blogger who found a way to solve the problem.
Using the internet can be challenging enough for some of us without these extra, in my opinion, unnecessary hurdles to overcome!
Back in the Spring, facebook introduced a lot of changes. I barely noticed them because I wasn’t using facebook very much at the time, but I did notice the frustration it caused other users. And now Twitter seems to have got the ‘make changes’ bug!
When Twitter introduced its new interface some months ago, it didn’t seem very different from the old one. But then other changes started to happen. All of a sudden, I started getting emails each time someone retweeted one of my tweets. That was useful as a reminder me to do some mutual retweeting. But then that stopped, as did the emails telling me about new followers.
Next the ‘mentions’ button disappeared and an ‘activity’ button replaced it. This seemed to be telling me who was following me and even who my followers were now following – which is of no interest to me at all! Finally I discovered I could see who had retweeted my tweets if I clicked on the @judyadamson button that had appeared without me noticing it!
In spite of my advancing years, I am not normally much bothered by change. Annoying though it is when I’m in a hurry, I do understand that the supermarkets move all their produce around from time to time to try to get us to be aware of goods that we might not otherwise have noticed.
But this seems to be change for change’s sake and that just causes hassle. Why are they unable, it seems, to leave well alone? Are these changes really being made to improve our ‘online experience’ or simply because some techie wants to look as if he’s earning his salary? Or is it, perhaps, an attempt to keep up with the competition?
Google Adsense is now sporting a little message at the top of the page telling me that I am using the new interface. Fortunately I haven’t used the site often enough to notice the difference. – thank goodness. And facebook have started messing around with the option to add links, replacing it with options as to who we want to share with - presumably Google+'s quite neat idea of 'circles' has given facebook cause for concern!
Do we really need all this change for change’s sake?
Are we that easily bored by what we already have? Would it be a step too far to suggest that it’s linked to the built-in obsolescence, the need for ‘the latest model’ that has fuelled the bubble of consumption that underlies many of the current problems in our economies?
I was intending to let my 'naughty pencil' doodle some sketches to illustrate this post. But while I was searching Google images to make sure I got the anatomy right, I came across these super mousepads by a fellow Zazzler!
My name is Cathie Richardson and I live in a little town in northern Nevada. It is a mountain desert landscape so a lot of my art work contains sagebrush and the old buildings I see when I go exploring with my family. I design needlework patterns and enjoy drawing in a small format/illustration style.
When did you begin painting?
I began painting when I took a watercolor class in college and that is the only painting medium I've worked with and explored because I enjoy drawing the most.
Did you go to Art College or have any formal art training?
I obtained an associates degree in Art and usually take art classes now and then to keep up with new technology and techniques
What did you value most from the experience?
In college I remember being taught how to "see" and recognizing the difference between positive and negative space and that really clicked for me and was exciting to learn.
What is your favourite medium and why?
I enjoy drawing the most, especially with ink. I've tried almost every drawing tool I've come across, and pastels which is considered more painting I think, and I still love pen and ink the most. I like how I can depict different things with certain strokes and I think it just looks great with the desert landscape I work and live in.
Do you paint from photos, sketches or from life?
I like to draw from life and try to get out as much as possible. I sometimes take a camera when I go drawing, but I like to try and sketch as much as I can and then go back and fill them in later from memory. That is another challenge in itself and I just like to play with the drawings to see what I get.
Who is your favourite artist/illustrator etc? Have you been particularly influenced/inspired by any other artists?
I have a few favorite watercolor artists such as Kim Jacobs and Marjolein Bastin. I really love the classic illustrators like Ernest H. Shepard and I like their use of ink in their drawings. I like to study the illustrations of the classic artists and how they convey light and dark in a pen and ink drawing.
Where do you sell your paintings?
I belong to an art group where I live and we have art fairs every year and I sell my paintings there and have recently opened up shop at Artfire and have some of my paintings and drawings for sale there,
Which came first - needlework or painting?
I began drawing my garden when my children were small and then I became inspired to make some of my drawings into needlework patterns.
What sparked your interest in needlework/fabric design?
Growing up most of my female relatives and my mother were involved with sewing, needlework and quilting so I learned how to do these things watching them and stayed interested. I like textiles and decorating my home so thought it would be fun to experiment with my own needlework designs. It has been a great learning experience and a lot of fun working with the colored flosses.
I love my hand dyed floss collection! Recently I've started putting my art work on fabric on Spoonflower which has been a lot of fun. I like trying to think of things to make with my samples!
Which is your best-selling/favourite greeting card?
This red tulips anniversary card is one of my best sellers and is a favorite of mine as well. Watercolor being the challenge that it is, I was happy with the variation of color I got in the petals and the colors themselves. Watercolor is a challenge for me and I guess that is what keeps me going back to it, that and it is very portable!
What do you grow in your garden?
I really enjoy gardening and like to grow easy vegetables like tomatoes, plus they are fun for me to draw. Also I love the spring flowers like pansies, but they usually can't tolerate the hot dry heat where I live. A few years ago, I discovered that petunias can so I mostly plant those and really like their ruffled petals and bright colors. I very much enjoy putting my artwork online in the various POD sites and hope to do more of that. This past year I've really been focusing more on hand embroidery rather than cross stitch and look forward to doing more of those designs.
What are your plans or hopes for the future? My big dream is to be able to go back east to New England to explore and draw that landscape; hopefully that will come soon!
Something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently is: Why would anyone buy greeting cards online?
There are plenty of reasons NOT to, especially when you have numerous handy greeting card shops locally.
If you are looking to buy just one card, the shipping costs are out of all proportion to the cost of the card.
You will have to think in advance as your purchase will not be in your possession instantly.
And what if the quality is poor – many people like to hold a greeting card in their hand before deciding to buy it.
But nevertheless, people do buy greeting cards online, more maybe in the US but other countries are catching up. Greeting card websites abound and some of them are well established and very successful.
So why would anyone who has plenty of local outlets for greeting cards choose to order them online?
The first thing that sprang to my mind was that they might be housebound. I knew a couple where the wife was practically housebound and her husband did the shopping. When it came to choosing a birthday card for their daughter, he struck lucky and came home with a card that his wife really liked. She looked up the name of the artist on the internet, found her website and it all continued from there ...
Another reason could simply be that you don’t like shopping and going into a card shop is something you would rather avoid. I think this probably applies to quite a lot of men – I know my son would fall into this category!
But it was one of my daughters who gave me the biggest clue. She normally buys her greeting cards when she’s shopping in town but she told me that if she were looking for something very specific, then she would turn to the internet to provide.
This seems to be borne out by my online card sales. A very high percentage are age-specific, person-specific – or both! The very detailed ‘categories’ offered through Greeting Card Universe baffled me at first because many of them seemed so obscure! Just look at them here! No ordinary greeting card shop in the High Street could carry all those categories and subcategories. But of course with print-on-demand, the online stores don’t need to!
Which leads to a further reason why customers would turn to the internet for their card-buying. Personalisation!
Personalisation – or Customisation! – seems to be the flavour of our times! Once it was the prerogative of the wealthy to have custom-made suits and dresses, while the rest of us made do with ‘off-the-peg’. Now, with the benefit of technological advances, the ‘luxury’ of a one-off greeting card, created to our own specification is available to us all!
So how does all this affect us as we design our greeting cards?
It seems to me that there are two ways we can go;
1. Establish your reputation offline, get your cards selling in shops across the country, or even further afield! And then hope to pick up some extra sales from your website. Here are three of my favourite UK designers who have done just that:
2. Make your designs ever more specific! Birthday cards that age-, name-, family relation-specific, Get Well cards for every conceivable illness or procedure, Thank You and Good Luck cards for a variety of occasions, greeting cards for less known religious festivals and so on...
3. Taking that one step further - finding a good ‘niche’ will undoubtedly increase your sales. Greeting cards (and other printed items like T-shirts) that seem to do very well are often based on pet photos, especially if the pet is a very specific breed!
Offline, in our local shops, my ‘blank inside’, ‘any occasion’ greeting cards, based on my pastel paintings do well. But online they tend to sit there, gathering virtual dust.
The nearest I’ve come to finding my online and offline ‘niche’ is to make cards suitable for men, as friends have told me how difficult it can be to find anything suitable that isn’t full of unwanted innuendo! And, narrowing it down further, the fact that my grandsons are beginning to reach the teenage years has catapulted me into tackling that difficult and not very well-served category, cards for teenage boys!
Now I’m wondering whether it would be worth concocting a Folk Art style card design for a Welsh Step-Uncle, who is crazy about Tibetan Terriers,with a 53rd Birthday on Valentine’s Day?
A fellow artist and greeting card designer once told me, tongue in cheek, I believe, that she’d just decided that she was never going to make it to the Royal Academy and was going to settle for making some money from her art instead.
I wonder how many of us have secretly cherished dreams of fame and fortune that, at some point, we are forced to relinquish when it becomes apparent that our dreams were unrealistic. I suspect that at some point we have all hoped that, one day, we would be ‘discovered’ and a kind of ‘rags to riches’ scenario would ensue, though hopefully not quite like this one -
It does happen. We read stories and see movies about ordinary people who were ‘talent-spotted’ or who rose to the heights of fame, seemingly out of nowhere. J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series is a good example. She went from living on benefits to becoming a multi-millionaire within the space of five years. And the proliferation of ‘talent-spotting’ TV shows where someone like Susan Boyle can come from nowhere and shoot to international fame, with a song called, ‘I Dreamed a Dream’, shows us what can be achieved by ‘dreaming big’.
Perhaps this hope of a meteoric rise to fame, and all that goes with it, as a result of being ‘discovered,’ is linked to every little girl’s dream that ‘One day my Prince will come’, the story of Cinderella and so many other ‘and they all lived happily every after’ fairy tales?
Little boys on the other hand are perhaps more likely to understand that fame and fortune has to be sought proactively, like Dick Whittington setting off to London, where, he has heard, the streets are paved with gold.
So, yes, it does happen – there are fantastic talents, geniuses even, waiting to be discovered. And it’s good to have dreams. It’s good to set our sights high. But when our dreams don’t seem to be getting any closer to fulfilment than when we started out, what should we do then?
That is the time to recognise that we can’t all be the next ‘best thing since sliced bread’, that not all of us are going to make it into the ranks of the household names, however hard we try. And probably it's time also to recognise that it doesn’t really matter!
For every artist who has succeeded in becoming ‘great’, there are always thousands of ‘good’ artists - and the good news is that they all have their part to play. It’s important not to let those ‘big dreams’ stand in the way of recognising our lesser achievements, our day-to-day opportunities for job satisfaction.
Even with something as apparently ‘minor’ and insignificant as a greeting card design, I still feel thrilled that a complete stranger on the other side of the world chose my card to celebrate a special occasion, notwithstanding the meagre amount of money their choice has earned for me! Recently someone chose my sympathy cards for the loss of a son and a grandson. To me that was a huge honour that somebody had felt that my design was just right for such a poignant occasion.
Yes, art is more than a job, it’s a calling, a passion even, and it’s right that we all hope that our talents will be suitably recognised and remunerated. But it is a ‘job’ as well, sometimes requiring hard work, discipline and non-art activities that we may not enjoy.
And it’s most likely to be this ‘job’ aspect that will provide us with the little common-or-garden variety of satisfactions which will add up to contentment while we wait for our dreams to come true!