Thursday, 27 January 2011

Guest Post by Illustrator/Author Diana Ting Delosh

Our guest post this week is an 'email interview' with Diana Ting Delosh, illustrator and author, whose work I have very much admired ever since I discovered it a couple of years ago.

Diana also designs wonderful greeting cards and she has stores at Greeting Card Universe and Zazzle. And you can see more of Diana's work on her website and blogs - links at the foot of this post.

My first question for Diana was:

Why did you choose Illustration as a profession?
'I had always thought that I would go into biology, because I loved animals, until one fateful day in high school biology class when we were supposed to kill and dissect a bullfrog. That was the day I realized I’d better think of something else. As I had been doodling since I was two, being an artist was an obvious choice but what type of artist?  As a child my first exposure to art was through picture books and one of my favorite artists is the illustrator, author Beatrix Potter. Choosing to be an illustrator seemed a natural choice. My training however was a bit circuitous. At the time when I went to school, few colleges offered illustration as a major. So I studied commercial art and took extra illustration classes.'

What did you gain from your Art Training?
'As I was schooled  in the pre-computer era - we were expected to be able to draw everything. No Googling for clip art allowed. So along with design, typography and life drawing classes, we just drew everything. A big part of my art/design education was the group crit. Basically we all displayed our work in front of the class and the teacher and your peers, sometimes humorously, many times cruelly, deconstructed your efforts. This ritual was done weekly in every class. As students we derived a perverse pleasure from surviving our crits as well as dishing them out. The crit did force you to do your very best for each assignment, gave you a discerning eye, taught you how to express why something worked or didn’t work for you and finally helped give your ego a thicker skin'.

Why do you like to work in Ink & Watercolor?
'I create my whimsical illustrations with ink line and “watercolor”. I actually use colored ink as I prefer the intensity of the pigments. I use a Rapidiograph pen to draw my ink line on watercolor paper and then brush in the color. While I have experimented with a few other mediums, this is the one I feel I can get the most range of expression and is the most comfortable for me.'

Animals feature in most of your illustrations and greeting card designs. Is there a particular reason for this?
'Animals play a big part in my personal illustrations. As I noted earlier, Beatrix Potter is my favorite illustrator and as a child I imitated her rabbits until they became part of my own image vocabulary. Early in my illustration career I freelanced for a few greeting card companies. Greeting card companies prefer florals and animal art because people are just too specific. Animals can represent a type. The audience could see themselves as the sweet rabbit or cat but the very specific women with freckles would be limiting. So I created more florals and animals. Yes, I do draw people but I prefer animals because they can be more empathetic and universal'.

Of all the projects you have worked on to date, can you pick out one that is your favourite?
'My favorite illustration projects have been those that I have learned from. I have found that a good editor or art director can bring the best out of you and lead you to a higher artistic level. My own self-directed projects can also be challenging but I find that I usually just have a lot of fun with them. Which is just fine as not everything has to be a learning experience.'

What are you working on at the moment and what are you hopes and plans for the future?
'Currently I’m shopping around a manuscript for a picture book along with a few finished illustrations to publishers. I would love for this project to become a reality.'

'The 2 illustrations posted here are from that story.' 

Diana, I would like to thank you very much indeed for finding the time, from amongst your busy schedule, to answer my queries. I'm sure that reading about your experience as an illustrator will be both helpful and inspiring to others. And I wish you well with your current project and look forward to hearing that it has indeed 'become a reality'!

Diana Ting Delosh


Saturday, 22 January 2011

Advice on Popular Party Games Needed!

We’re still in January and here I am already posting more than once a week! But this is just a quick one to ask for advice.

One of my grandsons will be 11 next week and I’m designing a birthday card for him. He’s definitely arrived at the age where it's difficult to find suitable birthday cards and my heart sank when my daughter replied to my enquiry about his current interests with, ‘X-box Live’!

For a start, X-box isn’t within my realm of experience any more than Playstation or Nintendo Wii are. All I know is that a lot of children and young people crave them!

Secondly, my most successful pen and wash greeting card designs seem to be ones where there’s a bit of action, or at least, movement. And from the little I have observed about these things, in television soap operas mainly, with video games, there’s very little movement going on, in fact the opposite, as the players sit crouched in one position for hours on end!

Which brings me to my third difficulty. A short time ago, I watched a television documentary about addiction to gaming. So all the time I was wondering about the design of a birthday card for my grandson, this rather worrying thought was at the back of my mind. However, the programme I saw seemed to suggest that people who get addicted to video games mostly have some underlying problem that predisposes them to addiction and that there are some real benefits to be gained from playing video games – in moderation!

So this is what I came up:

My query relates to the caption. In the UK, ‘pass the parcel’ is probably one of the most common traditional party games. But if I want to post this design for sale online -  ie globally! – I need to know whether that text will be understood worldwide. Is, for instance, ‘pass the parcel’ as popular in the US as it has been in the UK? If not, what would be the US equivalent? (And if there is anyone reading this who could translate my text into another language completely, with appropriate party game inserted, I’d be very, very grateful!)

Humour doesn’t always translate easily into other languages because of cultural differences. For instance, a range of my lighthearted Christmas cards that haven’t sold at all through Greeting Card Universe, sold very well through the UK website,

So maybe a bit of ‘international cooperation’ is called for and would be very much appreciated!

PS I must just add that Daniel, my grandson does do a lot of more active things – tennis, golf, skiing for instance – but not just at the moment! And his brother will be turning 14 in early February, so that will probably present another challenge for me!

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Valentine's Day Cards from GCU Artists who use Traditional Methods

When I think of Valentine's Day cards, the first things that come to mind are hearts and roses and the shops are beginning to fill up with variations on this theme. But GCU artists are inventive and have come up with all sorts of other original designs, drawn and painted by traditional methods:

(As usual, click on the images to see the larger version and purchasing details of these St Valentine's Day Cards)

A Pastel Painting Valentine Card by Jenny Landgraf

A Dalmation and Bluebird Valentine card
in watercolour and coloured pencil by Susan Herbst

'Cupid during the off-season' Valentine Card
in watercolours and Sharpie by Angela Castillo

An acrylic on canvas Valentine Card by C A Teresa 
with a painting of her cat, Leah, now sadly passed away.

A Wool/Canvas design of birds for St Valentine's Day 
by Mary Taylor

A French Valentine's Day Card in acrylic on canvas
from Leonilde

Diane Ting Delosh's Valentine Peacocks 
in ink and watercolour

Froggy Valentine in Watercolour Pencils and Watercolours
by Judy Adamson

And here's Susan Alison's Valentine Day Whippets card, just approved!

Another 'late entry' - Kerra Lindsey's 'Flamingo' Valentine card,
Watercolour on cold-pressed paper 

All of these Valentine's Cards, and many more, are available from Greeting Card Universe.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

First Anniversary

It’s hard for me to believe but it’s one year ago this week that I started this blog!

It’s been a bit of a hotch-potch, just as I warned in the very first post, a kind of  ‘Christmas pudding’ of ingredients! A few practical tips on selling greeting cards and a few on art-related subjects, stirred together with updates about how my card-selling business is progressing and hopefully spiced up with the occasional digression into gardening and birdwatching, all mixed together with a fair amount of  musing and speculating, opining and ranting and guest posts.

I wonder whether this has been confusing for my followers and so this is your chance to tell me if you’d prefer me to change the mix in some way in future. 

For this second year, I’ve decided that, much as I enjoy writing, I'll try to stick to one new blog post a week. This is partly to give myself more time for other things - like painting! - but also because I realise from my own experience, how time-consuming it can be keeping up with other people’s blogs! Of course, decisions like this need to allow for some flexibility, like when I slipped in an extra post with  the second photo of Sugarloaf’s ‘alpenglow’!

I’m sure most of you would agree that time always seems to be at a premium and that the internet can gobble up large chunks of our time! I’ve decided to limit the time I spend on Twitter this year too! I’ve come across some really interesting people through Twitter and ‘happened upon’ a great many excellent blogs and articles that I would never have otherwise come across. So I’ve come to have a kind of love/hate relationship with it, the ‘hate’ bit being when I realise how easy it is to get distracted by it!

Is it time that we lack or is it attention?
One of the articles I read was about how most of us tend to feel that the internet takes up too much of our time but that’s it’s not just time that it consumes but also our attention. If we’re not careful we can find ourselves bombarded with more stimulating thoughts and ideas than we can comfortably cope with, especially if we are trying to earn a living at the same time! 'Instant' communication seems to have had a 'speeding up' effect on our lives that doesn't encourage patience. I'm horrified to admit that if I go to a website that is slow to open, either because it has a flashy introductory page or because it has a lot of large images that are slow to download, I often don't have the patience to wait but move on to something else! I wonder how my attention span these days compares to that of a flea!

Somewhere else I read a suggestion for getting our household chores done by using those little bits of time while waiting for the something, eg waiting for the kettle to boil, to do a minor task, such as cleaning the sink. It sounds very sensible but it probably wouldn’t work very well for me because it wouldn’t leave me those precious little intervals that I value as ‘thinking time’!

Many years ago I designed an ‘Office Change of Address’ card for friends and they insisted on paying me by the hour. When it came to working out how long it had taken me, it was they who brought up the subject of ‘thinking time’ which I would never have counted as ‘work’. In fact a lot of time management advice seems to ignore our need for time to reflect on and process our experiences. If we don’t allow time for this it can result in a kind of mental indigestion!

But ‘thinking time’ is not something that can be easily scheduled  - it wouldn’t work to time-table it in for, say, 10 – 10.30 am on Mondays! We do need, though, to take account of it when planning our time by not expecting to fill every single minute of every day with definable tasks! But this is where the internet can wreck our best intentions. No matter how flexible our schedule, it’s all too easy for the internet to not only eat into our time but also our attention, leaving our heads buzzing with too much information or too many ideas!

But of course, some enterprising, insightful person has come up with a solution! A rather drastic one and it costs money so you’d have to be desperate to take it up, I think!

What do you think?

Monday, 10 January 2011

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

When Icicles Hang by the Wall....

 Sugarloaf from Bailey Park, Abergavenny,
Christmas Eve, 2010

We’re having an unusually cold winter here in the UK with the mercury hitting record night-time lows before Christmas and far more snow than we’re used to. Apparently it was the coldest December in Wales for 100 years - but also unusually sunny and dry.

Even though the snow in Abergavenny is now confined to the mountain tops and large heaps around the edges of the main car park, the weather remains cold and miserable as we seem stuck underneath the motionless grey skies of anticyclonic gloom. December’s sunshiny ‘deep and crisp and even’ seems to have given way to January’s bleak ‘earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone’.

Shakespeare’s description of winter – ‘When icicles hang by the wall...’ has also been passing through my mind. And when I was leafing through my artwork from school a couple of months ago, I noticed that one of the poems/stories we had been asked to illustrate was that very poem!

So here it is:

WHEN icicles hang by the wall,
    And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
And Tom bears logs into the hall,
    And milk comes frozen home in pail,
When blood is nipp'd, and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
To-who!—a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

 ...and my teenage illustration of it!

The icicles in my painting aren’t exactly hanging ‘by the wall’ and I don’t understand where the light source for the shepherd’s shadow is coming from - the lantern doesn't seem to be giving out enough light for such deep shadows. But I think if I were to paint this subject today, I’d use an almost identical composition though maybe I would try to include the owl and even Greasy Joan, keeling her pot (if I knew what 'keeling' was!). I would also probably avoid quite using quite so much grey.

But on the other hand, there does seem to be an awful lot of ‘greyness’ about the weather just at the moment and I find it quite depressing! I much prefer snow and sunshine!

I took the photo above on Christmas Eve at about midday, on my way back from last minute shopping. A few hours later, I returned to the park with my son, who had just arrived from York and fancied some fish and chips - the one type of food that I didn't have in house! This time, as we crossed the park on the way to the chipshop, the setting sun was lighting up Sugarloaf so that it looked as if it was on fire - a spectacular sight that I've never seen before! And would you believe, for once I didn't have my camera with me! My son took a few shots with his mobile phone but without a zoom, the mountain looked like a very distant pink dot! I rushed home and fetched my camera - but too late! The sun had almost set and everything looked a very dull pinkish grey -

So perhaps I should make a New Year's Resolution to carry a camera with me at all times  - just in case!


Monday, 3 January 2011