Since my last post, I’ve done something that I really don't enjoy - I've taken down my Christmas decorations!
The house looks so bare without them!
But they have to come down sometime so it might just as well be on Twelfth Night as on any other day. My mother was really superstitious about that one!
But before we stow Christmas away in its boxes for another year, I want to share a tip that I just happened upon -
You can slide the back of the card in between the books to anchor it - or, if it's a 'tent-fold' card, tuck the back underneath some books. It works a treat!
And while I'm on the subject of 'decorations' -
It was great to read about the stars of the Olympics and Paralympics being decorated by the Queen in her New Year Honours List.
But I was even more pleased to find that one of my favourite illustrators, Quentin Blake, was also knighted!
It made me smile because it reminded me of when I was at boarding school, aged 11 – 18, where pupils who excelled at sport were treated like celebrities, especially if they were the shining stars of individual sporting events, such as swimming and tennis, rather than the team games.
I had been pretty good at netball at my junior school, and was even in my school team in my final year. But somewhere in the transition from local junior school to a faraway boarding school, all my enthusiasm for ‘games’ got lost, and with it, any small ability I may have possessed! Always true to my ‘Awkward Squad’ nickname, the adulation of sporting stars really irked me.
So when, in the Sixth Form, I was appointed Secretary of the Sketch Club, I went on a one-girl crusade to increase the popularity of making Art. I actually succeeded in getting quite a few of the younger pupils doodling away in their spare time and some discovered an aptitude of which they were previously unaware. And, although the stars of the school Sketch Club never enjoyed the dizzy heights of fame that the swimmers and athletes achieved, the membership of the Sketch Club did increase quite dramatically, much to the delight of our elderly Art teacher!
But back to Quentin Blake – now Sir Quentin! His illustrations are universally loved but that apart, I have a particularly soft spot for him.
When I first started designing greeting cards, nearly four years ago now, my confidence was quite low. I was keenly aware that I hadn’t had any formal Art training and I had got it into my head that artists who had been to Art College would know how to do things ‘properly’. My own, largely self-taught methods, weren’t too bad but I firmly believed that a 'properly' trained artist would have done things differently and that anyone seeing my work would shake their head and mutter something not too complimentary about ‘obviously not been to Art School’!
And then I discovered Quentin Blake’s website where I was able to watch a video of the great illustrator at work. What a difference that made!
Here was a world-famous artist dipping his paintbrush in water that was far from clean, mixing his colours rather haphazardly on a piece of paper and even at times admitting to ‘hoping for the best’ when painting stripes over another, possibly still wet, colour on the jumper worn by one of his unmistakable little characters! He wasn't at all bothered about whether he was doing things 'properly', in fact he wasn't - and yet he has become a household name when it comes to children's book illustration and more recently, greeting cards too!
Here's one of his unmistakable New Year's Cards -
So – if ever your confidence takes a dip, or you just need a ‘shot in the arm’ of inspiration, just spend 10 minutes watching Sir Quentin; his enthusiasm, his playfulness and his sheer down-to-earth attitude towards his art will surely be just the pick-me-up you need!