Thursday, 25 July 2013

Read about Pixie Copley, Graphic designer, Photographer and Fractal Artist.

I recently interviewed Pixie Copley from Cambridgeshire. As you will see, Pixie is a multi-talented artist - graphic designer, photographer and Fractal Artist!

As usual, my first question for Pixie was: When did you first realise that you were an artist?
I've always loved art for as long as I can remember, most of my school books were covered in doodles and I always knew I wanted to do something creative when I left school.

Have you had formal art/design/illustration training?
Yes I studies art, design and photography at college then started working in a graphic design and screen printing company where I learned more about working in the real world.

What was the most important thing you learnt from it?
I've learned so many important things and think they are all as important as each other, including good time keeping, sticking to deadlines and good communication.

What is the most important thing you have learnt on your journey as an artist and from whom did you learnt it?
I used to keep a lot of my photography and fractal art hidden away, it was personal and I didn't think anyone else would be interested in seeing it. I met some people while I was on honeymoon who persuaded me to start selling my photography as they wanted to buy one of my pictures to hang in their living 
room. I started selling my work online 4 years ago and haven't looked back!

Who are your favourite artists/designers/illustrators?
Dali, William Blake and Leandro Erlich 

What is your favourite medium?
My work involves lots of photography, graphic design and digital illustration and have recently got back in to a skill that I learned in my college days and have been creating felt art. I can't pick a favorite medium as I'd be lost without my camera, computer and wool fibers!!

How long has your business been up and running?
My business opened it's doors on 14th Feb 2007 so 6 years although we were working on business plans setting everything up for a good 6 months before that.

Do you enjoy the business side of things?
I love the business side of things, I really enjoy meeting clients and helping them to achieve what they want with the look and feel of their company. I don't mind doing the paperwork side of things, like writing quotes and creating invoices. The only thing I don't like is talking on the phone, I'd much rather meet people face to face but dealing with clients all over the world this isn't always possible. I know what you mean! I think there are probably quite a lot of us who feel like that about phoning vs face-to-face.

Why did you decide to specialise in graphic design? 
I always wanted to be a wallpaper designer, a product designer or a shop window designer so I specialised in graphic design. 

Do you find that the business side of things takes up more time than you would like?
Oh yes, I'm always saying that I don't have enough time to be creative! I manage a graphic design studio during the day and also run the online shops which take up a lot of time too. Wow! That's a lot to manage - and you also spend time helping to promote other people's work too. I really admire that, Pixie!

Are you working alone or do you have help?
I have a team of 3 other people that work part time for my graphics company. 

I work alone at home a few days a week and in the evenings. I really enjoy that too. I can get my head down and really concentrate on things without distraction. 

Do you paint/draw regularly?
I do a few digital illustrations now but don't spend as much time with a pen and paper in my hand as I used to.  I did buy an inkling pen a few months ago but haven't had much of a chance to play with it yet. I'm sure i'll be back in to my old doodling habits in no time! I'd love one of those inklings but I'm afraid I'd be playing with it constantly!

Are you still doing what you originally set out to do?
Yes I am but technology has changed so much over the last 15 years, when I studied there was no such thing as the internet or digital photography so have had to learn different skills to keep up with how the world is changing. Yes, it seems amazing that things we take for granted weren't even around 15 years ago.

How many hours per week do you work?
I was dreading you asking this question. Some weeks I can work a whopping 70+ hours a week at busy times but most weeks are slightly less at about 50 hours. 

Do you have regular contact with other artists?
Yes I do, a few of my close friends are artists and am also friends with a lot of creative people online. The creative community is amazing and I have met so many people over the last 4 years, I feel very privileged to be involved with such an awesome community.

What is your biggest achievement – or the one that pleases you most – so far?
That's a hard question too, up until a few months ago I would have said my first job was the biggest achievement, I started working there straight after college as a junior and within 3 years I'd work my way up the company ladder and was one of the heads of the design department.

My more recent achievements are having a photo picked to be displayed in the East Anglia Federation of photographers annual exhibition and receiving top marks for one of my photos that was judged by 5 top people in the photography world. Congratulations! That really is an achievement!

Do you have a favourite quote, art-related or otherwise?
Limitations live only in our minds. But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become limitless - Jamie Paolinetti  I love that one too!

Pixie, it just remains for me to thank you on behalf of all who follow or read this blog! Your lovely, exciting work is so positively cheerful - I'm sure it brightens a lot of lives. 

Here, again, are some links to more of Pixie's wonderful work:

And if you'd like to get to know Pixie better, why not follow her on facebook or twitter?

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Poppy Red - a Pantone Colour Choice for Spring/Summer 2013

Have you noticed Poppy Red in your local shops? It's one of the Pantone colour choices for Spring/Summer this year. 

But it didn't put in an appearance in Abergavenny until June. Maybe that's because, being the colour of fire, it's one of the 'hottest' colours, more associated with summer than spring. 

Or perhaps it was waiting for the poppies to bloom?

This oil pastel painting of a friend's garden is called, 'June Garden'. It's based on a photo I took when I had a birthday lunch with her - in June!

Whatever the reason for 'Poppy Red's' late arrival, there's a lot of it about now!

It's a colour I love - though, sadly, it doesn't suit me like it did when I was younger - so I looked it up in my big book of Colour. And here are a few of the interesting Facts about Red that I discovered.

  • Like yellow and orange, red is a colour that demands attention and is hard to miss. That's probably why the post boxes and the older telephone boxes in the UK are red -

- and of course, red traffic lights mean 'Stop!', a signal you won't want to miss!

  • Red is the colour at the top of the rainbow. Of interest to artists and photographers, is the fact that red appears to advance. Something red in the foreground of a painting or photo will give the image depth, especially if the background tends towards the blues, as in distant mountains.

  • Red is the first colour that babies perceive. Small children are attracted to it. The red crayons are always the most worn down in the box!

  • But in an environment with a lot of red, children become fractious - and maybe it's not just children! Red quickens the heart rate and stimulates the release of adrenalin. We use the phrase 'seeing red'; and 'red mist' is defined as, 'a feeling of extreme anger that clouds one's judgement temporarily'! 

  • But on a more positive note, red fruits and vegetables are not only attractive but good for us. You can read what it is that makes them a healthy choice HERE. Although there are plenty of green apples and others that are speckled with yellow and orange, traditionally, the red apples were thought to be the juiciest.

  • Red also stimulates the appetite - hence the heavily red-based decor of burger stalls and fast-food outlets.

And of course, Poppies seem to be one of the most popular flowers with artists. They can be quite a challenge to paint as their colour seems to change with the light and their petals are so fragile. 

Poppies come in a variety of colours but I always think of 'red' when I think of poppies. And this collection of patterns has been one of my most popular.

Here's a blog post I wrote about this beautiful flower a while back -

So how do you feel about Poppy Red? Is it a colour you're wearing this summer? For shoes maybe?  You'll certainly get noticed! 

But bearing in mind the effect of red on your heart rate and adrenalin, maybe stick to accents of Poppy Red in your home, rather than large, solid areas of this decidedly 'assertive' colour!

This week's new blog post on Mugs, Mousepads & More

- it's sometimes hard to think of the right gift for a man of any age, especially when he doesn't give you any clues!

So here's a suggestion -

Thursday, 11 July 2013

E-interview with Surface Pattern Designer, Wendy Flynn

This month's e-interview is with an artist from London who specialises in Surface Pattern Design and Illustration, Wendy Flynn.

Wendy's website
          Wendy's blog
Wendy on facebook
         Wendy on twitter

As usual, I began by asking Wendy: 

When did you first realise that you were an artist? 
I suppose when i was very young, it is all i ever wanted to do. I was always drawing and making things as a child and helping everyone else with their drawings in junior school! 

Have you had formal art/design/illustration training?
Yes I  have a BA in graphic design from Bath Spa; I spent most of the time in the colour darkroom and on the computer and they didn't quite know how to pigeon hole me at the end of the course as none of the other Illustrators were using those processes, which seems bonkers now as so many people only use the computer! It was only 1998! You were well ahead of the rest of us then, Wendy!!!

So, Wendy, what was the most important thing you learnt from your course? Tricky but I think it was actually something a tutor on my foundation course told me which was: to subvert the brief, i.e make it my own. That was my turning point on my degree course. I was having a really hard time in typography class and had contacted my old tutor. His advice to make it my own totally changed the way I worked. And my B+ in typography that term is all down to making an illustration out of tin foil and pink fake fur! I wish we could see it!

What is your favourite medium? 
I love Ink and a dip pen or a sharpened stick and adding colour in Adobe Photoshop.

Which artists/designers/illustrators inspire you, Wendy?
Orla Keily  for her simplicity and Miroslav Sasek for his great Illustrations

That looks like my Early Seventies Kenwood I see there, Wendy!

I see your business name is Doris and Fred, named after your grandparents. How long has your business been up and running?
Seriously, as Doris and Fred, since I graduated from the ABSPD course this year, although I was using the name before that for freelance work and my etsy and folksy shops since about 2008.

You mentioned your etsy and folksy shops - where else do you sell your work? 
These are my other outlets at the moment -


Do you enjoy the business side of things, Wendy? 
No! I hate talking about my work! I find it very hard to sell myself and really hate talking money! I think i need an agent!

Have you had any training in the art business? 
I took the Rachael Taylor course which has been really helpful.

Why did you decide to specialise in Surface Pattern?
I worked in a trend studio for 6 or 7 years and I learned to make patterns there, I really enjoyed it and have just sort of carried on, I tried a few other artistic avenues but have come back to pattern now that i have a family as it is (I hope) something I can do from home and juggle around family life. 

Do you find that the business side of things takes up more time than you would like?
Yes and the social media which seems so important takes up a lot of my time. I can relate to that completely!

Are you working alone or do you have help? 
I work alone.

Do you enjoy that?
Yes actually most of the time I do although I am easily distracted so sometimes I should have someone to pull me back to what I should be doing. I suppose it would be nice to work with a few others but I also like that as I work from home, I don't waste time getting to and from a studio and can work when ever I have the time.

Do you paint or draw regularly?
Yes I draw regularly and even more so since doing the ABSPD course, I had forgotten just how much I enjoy doodling. I do need to get back into making a mess with paints and such but at the moment, I just don't have the space.

Are you still doing what you originally set out to do?
Yes, I think I am; it is just taking me a little bit longer to get there than I had planned.

That's to be expected with a little boy to take into consideration! How many hours per week do you manage to work?  I would say 20 - 30 hours a week. I have help with my little boy 2 days a week and then pretty much work everytime he naps and in the evenings

Do you have regular contact with other artists?
Only online, but that is a great support. Yes, I think that's great too!

What is your biggest achievement - or the one that pleases you most - so far? Having my designs in Urban Outfitters In the US. It was only as a freelancer but it felt great to see designs that I created from scratch on their website and in stores. Wow! That IS an achievement, Wendy!

Is there anything you would like to change about your art business
I would love more time on it but while my little boy is small I need to give him my time and enjoy him, there will be plenty of time, once he is at school, to concentrate full time on Doris & Fred.

And finally, what are your plans for the future?
To find an agent and build my portfolio, then take over the world! Well, maybe not the last bit! But an agent would be beneficial to me, I think. It would allow me to focus my limited time on creating new work and still spend time with my family. 

Wendy, I'm sure all our readers will join me in wishing you joy and success in all your endeavours and in thanking you for taking the time and trouble to answer my questions. I'm sure your replies will provide someone, somewhere with just the information or inspiration (or both!) that they need!

If you have enjoyed this interview and would like to get to know Wendy and her work better, here are the links to her website, blog and social networking sites - 

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Mother Nature's Colour Palettes - June in my Garden

June is my favourite month in my garden! 

Usually the roses steal the show in June. But this year they were far less spectacular because they had to be cut back in preparation for the cavity wall insulation in July. In a way, though, this has made me take more notice of the other flowers. I've never really had time to give much thought to the colour planning of my flower beds. In my usual happy-go-lucky (aka slapdash) style, I  tend to just throw things in wherever there's a gap !

But Mother Nature has come up with some splendid colour schemes without my help so I've created three very different colour palettes from them which you are welcome to use if they appeal to you -

If you enjoy my blog, you might like to see more of what I do, in between posts - 

'Judy's Art' (on facebook)

Posh and Painterly (on Google+)

My Pinterest boards

My Zazzle store 
(planning to open a new 'Posh and Painterly' one shortly)

Monday, 1 July 2013

Dreaming Spires Roses . . .

As I write, the beautiful Dreaming Spires climbing roses in my garden are coming to an end.

I've been quite thorough in my deadheading of them to encourage them to flower again in the autumn. But I accidentally removed this very much 'alive' head. And, on my kitchen table, it has provided me with a cheerful reminder of summer on days when the weather has been anything but summery!

In other years, when I've had more time, I've painted this rose in watercolour . . . read more