Monday, 23 July 2012

Summer at last - and a big decision!

Suddenly we have something a lot more like summer weather – dry and sunny but with quite a stiff breeze to keep us from overheating. 

The schools broke up last Thursday and it is so unusual for the weather to change for the better once the children are at home – it’s usually the exact opposite!

I heard that the birds are getting confused by the weather and migrating at the wrong times and something quite bizarre is certainly going on with one of my little apple trees –

It’s hard to see but yes, that is blossom up at the top, on the right and apples down near the bottom, all on the same tree!

I’ve been working on that rose and lavender design, making it into a repeating pattern, trying not to get frustrated with my laptop running out of memory and placing the design elements as accurately as I can by eye.

But on Saturday, I heard about some so-called ‘improvements’ that Zazzle are making to the site, which most people seem to think will be disastrous for sales!

Products seemed to have gone missing from our stores - I clicked on the 'Tote Bags' button only to find that there were 'no products found' in spite of knowing that I had created more than fifty tote bags!

I was quite overcome by a feeling of 'powerlessness' in respect of the various Print-on-demand websites I sell through. During this past year, each one of the four main sites I use has made changes that have adversely affected the artists and there’s not a thing we can do about it.

I read on the forum about an artist ‘leaving her computer in tears’. I felt a bit the same way but instead, I went out and mowed the lawn and took out my exasperation on the edges with the shears! I should really have been working on my designs -  putting the 'greetings' on the Roses and Lavender card above! - but it was the first of the beautiful summer’s afternoons and it would have been a shame to stay indoors.

I often do my most constructive thinking whilst trimming the edges of the lawn!

And as a result of my pondering, on Sunday morning I did a google search for online surface pattern courses as the products that Zazzle have launched this year – cushions, bags, sleeves etc, have reawakened my love of surface pattern design.

I was completely amazed when a UK-based course came up straight away and it looks like just what I need!

Here it is -
The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design

So - (deep breath!) - although it will involve expenses that I don't really want to think about, I have decided to do what I wanted to do more than 20 years ago . . . . . . . . better late than never!


Monday, 16 July 2012

The Magic of Flowers!

At last I’ve got around to making those ‘Poppies and Cornflowers’ greeting cards!

But on the other hand, that Islamic Pattern that I made for the collage for my brother’s birthday card is only partly edited. It’s going to take a very long time, and not being a person with a lot of patience, it’s quite likely it’ll languish in its current unfinished state until I forget all about it!

And I’ve only just got around to creating the customizable version of the ‘Bubbles’ Screenprint design from a couple of weeks ago!

I seem to be far more in the mood for flowery designs, in spite of our decidedly un-summery weather!

I’m sure this has been said many times before, but I really believe that this is the worst, coolest, windiest and, above all, wettest summer we’ve ever had! I shall actually be glad when the autumn arrives and we can stop pretending it’s summer!

I haven’t been a great fan of the summer for a couple of years now as I was feeling quite unwell whenever we did get a hot and sunny spell, due to my pollen allergy. I love growing flowers in my garden, particularly the sweetly fragranced ones. And most of them seem to really thrive in this Welsh clay soil!

But gradually, year after year, my symptoms increased and going out in the garden became a no-no and as for bringing flowers into the house – well, my shelves of vases had sat redundant, gathering cobwebs, for a while now -

But then, at the end of May, after the only really hot and sunny couple of days we’ve had, I had my first ever asthma attack after going out to bring my washing in from the garden! 

Scary as it was at the time, I have reason to be grateful it happened. As long as I use the puffer my doctor prescribed, I can enjoy my garden again and even fill my house with vases of flowers, just like the old days, before my allergies. I've even had the posy below in my bedroom and enjoyed a good night's sleep without coughing!

I usually like to let flowers fall naturally in their vase, rather than ‘arranging’ them. And this little posy of lavender, Albertine roses and Mock Orange Blossom particularly caught my eye and asked me to take a photo of it. This weekend I got around to using the photo as the basis of a design – not a painting as such, but a motif that I’ll use to make a repeating pattern. And probably some greeting cards as well!

First I have some more catching up to do - why do I so often seem to be trying to catch up? When Zazzle launch new products, as they have recently, I generally find that some of my older designs will fit on them nicely. So that will keep me busy this week.  

But maybe I’ll find a little bit of time for those ‘New Baby’ designs I mentioned last time!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Patterns - Islamic and Art Nouveau . . .

. . . but the colours are similar!

More than a week has passed and I still haven’t made those ‘Poppy and Cornflowers’ greeting cards!

The trouble is, Zazzle keep showering us with exciting new products to put our designs on so the amount of time I spend creating products keeps growing and edging out other things! Still, it’s something that I enjoy so I’m not complaining.

But I was so busy that I nearly forgot my brother’s 80th birthday and making his card was a bit of a rush in the end as I first painted quite a fiddly Islamic pattern on the layout paper that I cut out for the collage numbers!.


It would have been much quicker and easier to colour the pattern digitally; watercolours tend to ‘pool’ on layout paper. But I’ve found in the past that designs that I print out aren’t suitable for collage as the glue on the back seeps through and makes the colours run!

(I scanned the pattern before I began cutting it up so I can clean it up and use it for some Zazzle products at some point, if ever I run out of ideas!)

The card I sent was a slightly more 'personalised' version of this one!

The Art Nouveau design that my bedroom fireplace tiles inspired has been very versatile!  

I just used one of the colour options – I can use the other one another day! - and lined up the motifs on my computer, to make the pattern, trying to ignore the pop-ups that told me I was running out of memory.

It has been fun, experimenting with different background colours on the Zazzle site -

 - but I actually quite like the fresh white background with the blue and green.

It seems there are cases and sleeves for everything electronics- and computer-related! And now that we can make ‘skins’ as well (tomorrow's main task!) they keep us pretty busy.

But what I really enjoy making most are products for the home, clocks and cushions and, of course, a whole range of dining accessories, everything from mugs to jugs, plates to placemats!

You can see a selection of the Dining Accessories I've made this week by clicking
I’ve been brewing up ideas for some New Baby products.

I wonder whether I’ll get around to making them before the summer crop of new arrivals comes to an end . . .

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Poppies and Cornflowers, Blue Bubbles and Art Nouveau

I made so many products from last week’s Poppies and Cornflowers design that I haven’t had time to make any cards from it yet!

More Poppy and Cornflower products
Poppies and Cornflowers - Out and About:
Poppies and Cornflowers - At Home

But I have made some cards from one of my ‘Bubbles’ screenprints.

I think everyone agrees that finding suitable greeting cards for men isn’t easy. I sell a lot of cards for older men, the ones with the almost cartoon-like characters, dancing and jogging and doing altogether unlikely things! But younger and middle-aged men are even more difficult, unless they have a particular hobby or interest that you can build on. Jokey ones are another possibility but I’m no good at that at all.

So sometimes a design that is purely decorative in a non-flowery way, is a solution. Which is where my screenprints come in! A Bubbly Birthday Card -

And here’s another screenprint  - the same design but in different colours. This one will probably find its way on to some customizable smartphone cases and skins sometime soon.

But not this week, if I can find time to develop the design I’ve just painted into a repeating pattern.

It’s based on the tiles in the lovely old, original, early 20th century fireplace in one of my bedrooms, a genuine Art Nouveau design.

I’ve changed the colours slightly but I do like blue, green and white together for a particularly clean, ‘fresh’ look.

The challenge I’ve set myself is to use this tile design to make a pattern that doesn’t look too much like tiles. Not sure at the moment how I can do that so I expect I’ll have to play around with it quite a lot . . . results next time!