Saturday, 31 October 2015

October Work in Progress

The only real signs of Autumn in my little back garden!

When I started selling my greeting cards online, a 'marketing guru' friend warned me that I would spend 80% of my time promoting and only 20% creating.

She was just about right, except for the fact that the 20% has turned out to necessarily include a lot of other tedious tasks in order to get my designs on products for sale! In recent months, this has been particularly true of Zazzle, where my sales are greatest. There have been changes to the 'rules' and changes to the website that all entail hours of work for the designers. All part and parcel of selling online but it means that time in my attic studio has been very limited again.

Thankfully though, there is some creative work that I can carry on with in spite of spending so much of my time on my laptop doing necessary 'house-keeping' jobs!

I've just finished reading Andrew Marr's 'A Short Book About Drawing'.  In fact, although it certainly is a 'short' book, it covers a lot more than drawing. I suppose that's inevitable because of the blurred line between drawing and painting. 

For instance, even in a 'painterly' soft pastel like this one of Hereford Cathedral in the Autumn, I feel I am drawing rather than painting throughout the whole process:

The most important thing I took from this very interesting book was the reminder to draw something every day! 

And because my drawing doesn't always consist of trying to make an accurate representation, but often it's something more like doodling, as long as I have plenty of paper and pencils to hand, that is something I can happily catch up with while I'm watching tv - especially if it's the World Cup Rugby as it helps to relieve the tension!

Here's one of my recent 'doodles'! 

Of course, if I'd set out to draw a village, I'd have gone about it totally differently. 

For one thing, I wouldn't have started with the church. I'd have begun with the school in the foreground and built up everything else behind it. That would at least have helped me get the perspective right and avoid paths and roads that go nowhere! And what on earth is that bush doing, growing out over the pavement (top right) and into the road?! 

But it's in the nature of a 'doodle' that it isn't planned, it kind of grows organically and takes on a life of its own, ignoring constraints of things like perspective and practicalities. That bush - or is it a pile of manure? - could become the starting point for a story about village life! 

My 'village' will get filed away with all my other doodles and maybe one day it'll be the starting point for a design - maybe not! The main thing is that I enjoyed it - and it lowered my stress levels during a nail-biting rugby match on tv!

Meanwhile, it's still incredibly mild for the time of year and the trees are late changing their colours. 

Trees across the road from my house changing colour at last
We had a very wet August and September and now, in October, there's hardly been any frost so I expect that has something to do with it.

My walk to the shops through Bailey Park is lined with beech and oak trees and in other years, the oaks have begun to change in late August, the magnificent beeches in September. 

This year they've only just got going!

If you click on the 'Thanksgiving' collection below, you'll see some of the cards and invitations I made from photos of those trees in previous years -

One of the very positive changes this year has been Zazzle's introduction of 'Collections'. 

I tend to design patterns in 'collections' in any case. But it's great to be able to break down my collections even further, grouping them according to products or occasions! I still haven't finished my 'Periwinkles' collection - greeting cards still to be added - but here are all the coordinating periwinkle patterns on 'Periwinkle Gifts for a Bathroom and Bedroom' -

It's impossible to walk through the shopping areas of Abergavenny this Autumn without noticing that plaids and checks are still filling the windows of the clothing shops and boutiques. 

On a sunny day, it's hard to get a photo of a shop window without reflections but here are a couple that didn't do too badly -

Inspired by this continuing trend, I've gathered together all my fashion products with plaids and checks in this 'collection'. (Zazzle have just introduced canvas shoes for us to decorate with our designs so I hope to add some of them - as soon as I find the time!)

Although I haven't had time to create much new art this month, I have been busy creating 'Collections' and building up my other blog, now called 'Posh & Painterly' to avoid any confusion. 

Each day, I'm posting a new Zazzle Collection in the hope that the blog can become a useful shopping resource for anyone who likes my style of Art and Design. Six days a week I'm hoping to provice a new 'Collection' to browse! 

- it's all about style!

So please pop over and take a look - you might even find some ideas for Christmas presents amongst them (even though the flowers in my back garden make it seem as if Christmas is still a long way off!). 

Annual Godetias and Pot Marigolds, grown from seed
- nearly November and still in bloom!

Thursday, 1 October 2015

September Work in Progress

September Anemones and Montbretia in my garden
August was wet and decidedly chilly and most of September has been wet and even chillier! But finally, we have the warm, sunny days we expect in September and no sign of rain all week - though the nights have become decidedly autumnal.

At last my little tomatoes are ripening and the flavour is worth the wait!

And finally, too, Zazzle have agreed to refund the tax that they withheld incorrectly, so life is gradually returning to something approaching normal. 

However, in the meantime, Zazzle have completely reorganised their website and this has involved us all in mountains of extra work, getting our online Zazzle stores up to scratch and simply finding our way around the site, when I really wanted to get back to some designing.

But I have managed to get my new 'Little Mice' Christmas Card finished and uploaded to Greeting Card Universe and Zazzle. 

Here's the custom front version -

(It's also available with the greeting in Non-English languages)

What with the Rugby World Cup and spring bulbs and home-grown wallflowers urgently needing planting, time has been at a premium. 

So I decided to use the Periwinkle design I made a while back to create a new collection on Zazzle. I still need to find time to work on a border pattern and phone case templates for personalization, but here are the fifteen coordinating patterns I've worked with so far - on the new all-over print Tank Tops that Zazzle have recently introduced.

Click on the image to see them all -

But what about the new pattern I wanted to make from the photos of the pretty little Phlox plants in the photo I shared last month? 

I have actually made a start!

I find it really helpful to make a lot of little drawings of plants and flowers I'm going to use for a pattern - I need to draw them over and over to get to know them. It feels almost like getting to know a new friend! And I almost always find that drawing throws up some surprises. At first glance, the petals of all these pretty little flowers appear to be the same shape.

But once I start to draw them, I realise there are several different petal shapes.

As the plants have matured, more of them have started to 'trail'. And the curve of their stems has made me wonder whether they would be a suitable candidate for an 'ogee' pattern, like the periwinkle pattern that I used to illustrate how to make an Ogee Repeat pattern. Not sure yet and I'll probably try out several arrangements before I decide.

Planting out the 160+ seedlings in the spring was a bit of a chore but they've been worth it. They've flowered for months and they are still going strong when most of the other flowers in my garden are well past their best. 

And now the Marigolds and Godetias I sowed in pots are really coming into their own now and brightening up the shadowy corners of the garden.

Pot Marigold and Godetias
Not a very good photo - a quick snap with my phone camera - but perfectly adequate as inspiration for a future pattern. I love the combination of pink and orange and I made a pattern of Pot Marigolds and bright pink Busy Lizzies a couple of years ago.

The humble Marigold is one of the birth month flowers for October so I've put together a collection of October Birthday Cards and Gifts -

With so much going on these past few months, a lot of things have had to be put on hold! 

My decorating ground to a halt in July, I'm having to tie my hair back because I haven't had time to get it cut and as for cleaning the house, it's had to be reduced to the bare essentials! But it's a question of priorities and if there has to be a choice, housework will always give way to making patterns!

And anyway, I don't know whether this is true or not but I choose to believe it is!

(Also available as a Fridge Magnet and a T-Shirt)