Thursday 25 October 2012

My Top 10 Folksy Halloween Treats - Part 2

Five more spooktacular treats found on Folksy...

6) Halloween Badges

Ten little badges all made from fun fabric. I think these would be great to give out to trick-or-treaters, adorn your witches hat with or decorate a sweetie bag. Made by Crafts Council.

7) Party Print Fabric

Sold by The Sewing Boutique this is some awfully cute fabric from Riley Blake, and I think it would be perfect for making a little 50s-style skirt with or even a tablecloth for a spooky spread. Boo! Eek!

8) Evil Owl Brooch 

Anyone who knows me will know that I love an owl, so this is right up my haunted high street. Not as fluffy and endearing as is my usual preference, but heck, spirits of the dead are walking the earth, so let's get jiggy with it. Made by Cherry Loco Jewellery.

9) Crocheted Eyeballs (!!!)

How ruddy fantastic are these?! I'm a bit of a juggler myself, so think I may actually have to acquire these for Halloween. A juggling Sugar Skull lady with stripy black and purple witches tights? Why not!

The creator of these is Lindylou Handknits - love her crocheted owl too.

10) Giant Pumpkin Fascinator

With flashing lights. Do I need to say anymore?! Gail Mitchell is a genius!

Wednesday 24 October 2012

My Top 10 Folksy Halloween Treats - Part 1

It's been several years since I joined Folksy now, appearing on and off over that time with some of my illustrated crafts. It never ceases to amaze me how much diversity and talent there is on there!

So I thought I'd take a look at what crafty goodies are on offer for Halloween, that eeriest of all holidays after Valentine's day for the heartbroken singleton...

1) Pumpkin Soap Slice

That's right! Keep those cobwebs at bay by keeping yourself squeaky clean on All Hallows Eve with this deliciously dark-topped, candy-striped pumpkin soap slice by The Soap Loaf Company.

2) Batty Tea Cosy

Appealing to my ever-increasing need for tea and comfort, I happened across this sweet, I mean devilishly scary, tea cosy by The Cosy Daisy. Tea and bats! Who knew.

3) Kitty Collars
Because I'm the type of girl who likes her cats to have a collar for all occasions (and the type of girl who recently bought a miniature Santa hat and Santa's-Little-Helper red 'n' green ruffle for her two feline friends), these snazzy treasures seem more like a necessity than an idle want. 

From Mog's Togs Cat Collars, there are several more Halloween-themed designs too. Enhance your kitty's Spidey Senses! Meoowwll!

4) Mug Cosies

The ideal Halloween day is crisp and cool; Autumn leaves swirling to the ground, a touch of mysterious mist in the air... perhaps from a recently boiled kettle... I think these little mug cosies from The Wooly Knitter are great, and will keep the ch-ch-ch-chill from your bone china.

5) Sugar Skull Mask

I've had a bit of an obsession with sugar skulls for the past year or so, notably since I housesat for an old art tutor who had a house full of Mexican artefacts. There's something wonderfully enchanting about their haunting yet beautiful faces.

I'm painting my face up like one this year, but a quicker and more readily reusable option would be this fantastic polyester felt mask by Janine Basil. Look at those colours!

More treats to follow in Part 2 tomorrow!

Monday 22 October 2012

Bright and Blooming

Hello there! It's been a misty old day here with a definite chill in the air. What better way to spread some warmth and sunshine than to jump on a plane to somewhere exotic design something bright and cheerful...! Today I had my watercolour paints out again.

Tuesday 9 October 2012


Running Like Clockworld illustration now available on t-shirts and hoodies on my Society6 page, alongside the usual prints.

Monday 1 October 2012

Embracing the new, repurposing the old

It's the 1st of October!! How did that happen? Well overdue for an illustration update I think! 

Over the past 5 months since my last blog post I've been busy beavering away creating lots of new work, including patterns, greetings cards and children's picture book illustrations. The latter have been submitted to publishers now, so fingers crossed for some good news in the early future!

October is going to be a month of change for me, which seems somewhat seasonally fitting. I'll be turning 26 at the end of the month (yikes), which means I'm officially creeping towards my late twenties (yuck). I'm up to my neck in boxes and bubble wrap at the moment, packing away my life's treasures, as a big move is on the cards. New beginnings and plenty of new challenges ahead, but they are incredibly welcome and in lots of ways I can't wait to get going. 

There's 101 things on my to-do list - a mixture of personal crafty projects, illustrations for clients and a big shake up of design for my online presence, which I've been wanting to do for yonks but haven't had the time for! But as for now, I'll share with you some new 'old-style' illustrations - old in as much as I'm returning to my roots here with watercolours and coloured pencils - and look forward to fresh energy, the start of a new chapter and all the excitement, fulfillment, positivity and chickens (yes, chickens!) it will bring! 

Wednesday 9 May 2012

Christmas Cards

Well, I've broken my own promise to myself on the blogging front. Best start making amends! Lots of new things to show you. Will start with these jolly Christmas cards:

Friday 30 March 2012

Bold Blooms

Hello everyone! Happy Friday! I thought I'd share with you the designs I came up with this week. They're bright and cheery, and full of flowers - my favourite things to draw right now.

Hope y'all have a grand weekend!

Tuesday 27 March 2012

New Card Designs

I've been beavering away quite quietly for the past few months since having been accepted by Advocate Illustration Agency. At the moment I'm largely working on greeting cards, gift wrap and other stationary items. As far as jobs go, it's great fun, and I've found myself striving to get better and better with each brief that comes through. So I thought I should really start showcasing what I've been up to, perhaps with a blog post once a week with some chosen designs. With this in mind, here's the first in what should be a series of posts!

This brief was for floral Valentine's cards. I chose a bright colour palette that I thought would shake up and stand out from the usual (and somewhat tired) red/pink hues associated with 'romance'. Really, I think the designs could be used for more than one occasion with the right caption, but hopefully they are a refreshing change to the usual hearts and roses. (Having said that, I also went down the hearts and roses road, ha!)

For the first time in a long time, I've started to play around with fonts again in my designs. Usually, they scare me. Too many designs have been ruined with the use of a naff font. Perhaps my choice isn't perfect, but I thought it was a good mixture of something bold, to work with the big colours, decorative, yet readable, and fun.

Tuesday 6 March 2012

Seeing the Beauty in Everyday Things

I read a quote this morning that went like this:

"I don't want life to imitate art. I want life to be art." Ernst Fischer

It lead me to thinking: how much of life would I consider to be art? How much would you consider, on your average day of waking, daily routines and chores? Would you even stop to think about it? It's very easy to wade through life on autopilot; your subconscious taking over from your conscious mind on habitual tasks, sometimes to the point where you don't even notice what you're doing anymore. 

A little example - I made myself a cup of herbal tea today. Quite a simple pleasure. I absent-mindedly noted that the tea tasted a little strange (well, it was a herbal infusion, don't they always), but whilst rattling off a new to-do list, it wasn't at the forefront of my mind. I reached the end of the mug. There, sat in soggy befuddlement, were two very different teabags. I have absolutely no recollection of putting more than one bag in my mug, but I'm assuming, whilst consumed with more pressing and conscious thoughts, I went into autopilot and added my usual rooibus teabag to the mug before recognising that I fancied a herbal tea. Either that, or I'm just losing (more of) my marbles. 

But the point is, I love tea. Yet I probably take it for granted that it's always there if I want it, and therefore it's become, by-and-large, an undervalued commodity. How much of our lives, in a fast-paced Western society, do we fail to appreciate?

Let's get back to the quote. Life imitating art vs. life as art. 

First up, I guess it comes down to what you consider to be art. Secondly, whether you have an appreciation for what you define art to be.

For me, slightly-kooky-self-employed-illustrator-with-a-spiritual-outlook-and-love-of-all-things-holistic, art can, and sometimes does, amount to everything my molely little bespectacled eyeballs see. It's primarily visual, but not always. It's expression, imagination; sometimes refined and sometimes a raw and beautiful outpouring of the soul. It can be challenging and difficult. It can be calm, reassuring and pleasant. It can be intentionally contrived and carefully considered, or free-falling, spontaneous spirit. But most of all, art makes you stop in your tracks, take stock, and think for a while. If freezes the world and presents a tiny portion of it to you in a heightened state. Sometimes it's reconfigured, accentuated, manipulated; sometimes it is precise, measured, photo-realistic, and sometimes it is a sweet, hazy, joyful, clever or delirious mash-up of what it is to live. Or maybe none of the above.

To see the art of others is an existential experience, either adhering to or challenging our individual view of the world. If it's the former, it can be reassuring, soothing even, or excite us to see something that's on the same wavelength as our heart, head or spirit at the time. If it's the latter, it can be uncomfortable, but its provocation is alluring in itself, and from this we grow.

To make art is often a cathartic process. But there doesn't have to be anything complex about it. Its beauty is subjective, unlike so many things in the world, and that's the wonderful freedom of it. There's not a right or wrong answer. It engages the right brain in a left brain dominated society. As an illlustrator, making art is often about producing and delivering concepts through to visual designs to a wider audience. It's a career, in my case, and it brings in some pennies - but it never stops being personal. It's not a 'job' that you ever switch off from, but then its rewards (perhaps more of mind and spirit than monetary!) are so bountiful that it's not something I'd ever want to switch off from. 

So to think of life being art is an interesting concept. If art is beautiful, we should see beauty in life. Perhaps even the dull parts. Maybe especially the dull parts. If art is challenging, we should (or could) see the beauty in life's challenges. Life, and consequently we and everything around us, becomes art through simply existing. Perhaps not even 'becomes', as that suggests a morphing process, but just is.

It is all too easy to get caught up in life's complexities. Even the simple pleasure of admiring art, beauty, life - enjoying a cup of tea - can become wordy and complex, as this blog is testament to! We are human beings, not human doings. Sometimes all that is required is to just be. To just be, and enjoy being, comes down to perception. And perceptions, although we don't always feel it, we have a choice over. 

My boyfriend and I have been discussing this a lot recently, and I was introduced to a book called The Tao of Pooh. If you haven't come across it, I would highly recommend it. The way of Pooh is admirable indeed. To quote: "While Eeyore frets, and Piglet hesitates, and Owl pontificates... Pooh just is." It speaks of the Chinese principle "Wei Wu Wei" - Do Without Doing. In much the same way, for life to be art, perhaps all we must do is See Without Looking. 

I'll finish off with one of my favourite quotes from the book:

"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"
"What's for breakfast? said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"
"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully.
"It's the same thing," he said.