Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Decorations - Christmas and New Year's Honours!

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 -

If you run out of places to stand your Christmas cards - or if those 'tent'-shaped ones keep collapsing once they've been up for a few days - a bookcase can be a great solution!

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! 


gooseberrymoon said...

I loved the Quentin Blake video, he's got such a strong style that you can't help but recongnise. I was watching a TED talk earlier by Jerrett Krosoczka on how he became an artist, I love hearing these stories. He's the link if you get time to watch.

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Nicky - yes, Quentin Blake's style is very strong and for a while I had to make a conscious effort not to let my doodles NOT come out too much like his :)

Thank you for sharing that wonderfully inspiring TED talk by Jarrett krosoczka! I particularly identified with the bit about him not being good at sport, of course :D and I've pinned it on my pinterest 'Talks' board in the hope that others will find it inspiring. Trouble is, it's made me want to get back to my other 'love', writing and illustrating children's books!

Jayne said...

I'll have to watch the video later, when I'm not at work (ahem, I'm "at lunch...") Great post today Judy. Love your blog and have linked to it from my new art blog.

Judy Adamson said...

Glad you enjoyed it, Jayne, and hope you enjoy the video - and also the one that Nicky posted. And thank you for linking to your blog . . . which I'm just off to visit :)

Polly said...

I love your house!

Off to watch the Quentin Blake video.

Judy Adamson said...

I love my house too, but with the high ceilings and no double glazing (because I don't like it) it's murder to heat - and even worse to clean!

Enjoy the video!

Go Benny Go said...

I love Quentin Blake. I particularly love his illustrations for The Witches by Roald Dahl - a favourite from my childhood :)

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Brenda, thank you for your comment. I love his witches too - sas always, such character in his drawing!

Nicki said...

What a terrific post! As someone who struggles with being found out that I am not a "real" artist because I haven't been to art school, I can totally relate. I work hard at checking the negative self-talk and now maybe I can watch these links when I am feeling unsure of myself.

Thanks Judy! And Happy New Year to you!

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Nicki - thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment! I'm always really pleased to hear that something in one of my blog posts has struck a chord with someone :)

Charlie D said...

Fantastic post! I adore Quentin Blakes drawings, all the Roald Dahl books (especially Matilda) were always my favourite books as a child. I will watch the video now, thanks for sharing Judy.

p.s. your house looks gorgeous! x

Judy Adamson said...

Thank you so much, Charlie :) Hope you enjoy the video - and the one that Nicky posted too.