On Wednesday I had my very own stall at a Christmas market, organised by a local school with a traditional Victorian theme. It was very sweet and festive!
This is how my stall looked. The ‘wheels’ and table were already there, and I added my creations along with some vintage themed props and decorations.
I was selling fabric items and cards from my old collection of stock which I made a year ago, and is still not shifting… mainly because my work has moved on from this now, so I don’t have the same passion or interest behind these items.
That being said, I did have a brand new, never before tried element on my stall: live portrait drawing! I also produced some new signs and graphics using vintage ‘clipart’ images and my own handwriting, including an email sign-up sheet. I was really pleased with these!
I was offering 5 minute portrait drawings for £5, and had a few customers! Everyone I drew seemed to be really grateful and impressed.
Below are my happy customers holding up their portraits…
…including someone’s dog (drawn from a photo)!!!
I can’t wait to draw more people’s lovely faces, their pets, homes and things that they love! More to come in 2018…!
First up, I got some of my handmade products stocked in a local shop!!! The adorable shop and café called ‘Tea Cake’ is also new to town. But they are already jam-packed with gorgeous products from local artists and crafters. I feel so proud and grateful to be included in such a wonderful shop, in a magical Victorian side street called Getliffes Yard in Leek.
Getliffes Yard, Leek
My cards and notebooks inside the shop
Then, I re-launched my much neglected Etsy shop, and kicked things off with a seasonal sale, which continues until 20th of December. I have Christmas cards and handmade textile gifts for sale at the moment.
To promote this sale, I also made a new YouTube video, after a couple of months without uploading. It felt so good to be making a video again, and I already have a few more videos lined up for the following weeks, and hope to stick to a weekly upload schedule.
Next up, I am doing a Christmas fair again this year! My first ever market was a Christmas fair last year in Bristol. This will be my second market, and I will be taking a slightly different approach by doing live portrait drawing/painting, whilst also promoting my portrait commission service (which will be launched officially in the new year), selling Christmas cards, and possibly some textile gifts.
Speaking of portraits, I have been spending every day of November drawing faces for the first month of my 365 day art challenge. It has been brilliant! I am making progress, discovering how to get work done every day, and realising what tools and mediums I prefer to use. Below are my four favourites from the month so far, with just a few days left.
‘Angry’ – day 18
‘Curious’ – day 19
‘Eating’ – day 23
‘Beard’ – day 26
Now I have a new theme for December: ‘what I ate today’. I was originally going to write out separate food related prompts for each day, but I think the one negative point from November was feeling too restrained by the words I chose. This way, having an open theme for the month, all I have to do is draw/paint some or all of what I eat each day. Sounds fun!
(I am working on improving the quality of my scanned images! Sorry for the slight fuzziness here).
A few weeks ago, Fraz and I went on an awesome weekend road trip!
On Saturday morning we set off early and headed north across the border, and into Scotland. I’ve never been before, so it felt pretty cool!
We arrived in Glasgow just in time for lunch, and enjoyed some incredible vegan food at Mono café. I had my first tof-ish (battered tofu with nori/seaweed) & chips – and it is yet to be topped on my list of favourite vegan meals!
With full bellies, we travelled south, away from civilisation, in search of the ideal wild camping location!
Just over an hour later we were deep into the Scottish countryside, and as the light was fading we entered the Forest of Ae, winding along a narrow road with tall evergreen trees either side. Eventually we reached Loch Ettrick, and found the perfect spot to call home for the night. When I stepped out of the car, the silence hit me! It was so peaceful!
And this is where we woke up the following morning…
To be honest, I didn’t have the best sleep ever, with the wind and rain knocking our tent around. But waking up to this view in the morning made it worth it. After a quick breakfast, we packed up the tent in the drizzly rain, and got back on the road.
On the way home we went via the Lake District and stopped in Keswick. Whilst there we walked alongside Derwent water to Friar’s Crag, discovered yet another brilliant vegan café and visited the Derwent pencil museum (or rather the shop!). And of course we enjoyed some breathtaking views and invigorating fresh air!
Feeling exhausted but happy, we got back in the car one last time and Fraz drove us all the way back to Staffordshire. What a brilliant way to spend a weekend!
Since moving north I’ve been enjoying a few solo adventures out in the beautiful Autumn countryside. I really want to get to know the area, and find interesting places to explore; not just walk up and down the same roads.
Below are four recent adventures, illustrated with maps, sketches and photos. Alongside are stories from each trip; look out for the numbers in brackets to reference points on each map. The first two adventures are quite short, and the second two much longer; each time I discovered completely new places I had never been before – and met a few creatures and obstacles too!
Walk one:Friday 29thSeptember
This was one of my first walks in Leek; I had no plan, and I got a little lost!
After walking up the road from the house, at (1) I was faced with my first decision: continue or turn? I took the left turn as I wanted to see what was at the top of the hill. There was a pretty view, and a farm with a wind turbine. I continued along the road, and started to lose hope of finding a footpath, when all of a sudden at (2) there were two footpaths, on opposite sides of the road! The first simply cut the corner off the field and went straight back onto another road, so I took the one on the right, past some buildings, between dry stone walls where lots of mushrooms were growing.
The path then opened out into a field, but was still enclosed with a low wall on the left and a fence on the right. I soon came to a stone stile, illustrated in my sketch above, which seems to be quite unique to the north, as I don’t remember seeing them much back home?! At (3) the path became extremely steep leading down past Hawthorn trees to a stream and a footbridge that lead into an incredibly boggy field! At this point the contained wall-and-fence footpath was gone, and I was left squelching around, and continued onwards until I reached a house with an eerie field full of old cars. There was also a huge pile of stones hinting at a deconstructed hut of some kind. By now I was feeling lost, and saw no signs of a path, so at (4) I turned back and retraced my steps, satisfied that I had accomplished a small adventure.
Walk two:Wednesday 4th October
The following week I set out on a very similar walk. I was aiming to get to Ballington Woods, but missed the turning, so instead found myself in Birchall. Nevertheless it was a fun adventure!
I headed out in the same direction, but this time at (1) I continued straight, onto a bridge which crossed the main road, and up to Lowe Hill. Eventually – after passing a few houses with stunning views – the road turned into a driveway at (2), which continued around a corner, but straight ahead I found a footpath (shown in the photos below). Of course later I would discover that following the drive around that corner at (3) leads straight to Ballington woods.
So I continued on, and I soon discovered a trend of Leek fields and footpaths; they can be extremely boggy! The waterlogged field slopped gently down, and dropped into an enclosed path where I found some tiny apples, illustrated above. Between (4) and (5) the footpath opened out into a housing estate. Still curious, I walked straight through it, expecting to rejoin a path on the other side, but just found a busy main road. As with the first walk, I didn’t have a map (google is no good for footpaths!), so at (5) I turned around and headed back the way I came.
Walk three:Thursday 5th October (the next day!)
Third time lucky; this walk was CRAZY! I left home in the opposite direction to the previous two walks, through Haregate. By now I had also invested in a map – albeit a 20p leaflet map of the Staffordshire Moorlands Trail from the library, so I still got a bit lost…!
At (1) I left the housing estate, and joined a footpath through, yet again, some very boggy fields (I’m not complaining, simply providing evidence to myself for the need of better footwear). On the lovely open footpath I was surrounded by cows in the distance and momentarily accompanied by a dog named Rowan. I discovered this information due to the owner repeatedly and manically yelling its name from far away; I eventually turned around to see the owner wave and yell “sorry”! And the dog ran back to her.
By (2) I was hoping to see the Abbey remains, but I think that might be found on another footpath. Between (2) and (3) I met some VERY friendly sheep; I’ve never got so close to sheep in the same field as me (see left photo below). I continued past them out of the field, and along a narrow track (with some mossy walls, right photo below), to the right of which I caught glimpses of Tittesworth Reservoir between the trees. From the same direction, a heron swooped into view! And this wasn’t the last amazing animal sighting of the trip.
By (4) the track ended, and I met a main road, with a choice of left or right. I knew that I needed to turn left somewhere, but had missed the footpath by ‘North Hillswood’, so had to walk along the road and go off-map for a bit. You will soon see why this turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made! Once again I was fearful of never finding a footpath; I did pass one on the right, but I knew that was the wrong direction. It also started raining – the weather was very changeable that day with heavy rain followed by blue skies!
I finally found the footpath on the left just past ‘Folly Rest’. After climbing over a stile, I entered a field, and sensed something weird… Around (5) I was in the top left corner of the field and needed to head straight down, then enter the woods. As I began marching forward, something large moved straight ahead of me and to my shock and amazement I saw a stag, his impressive antlers projecting grandly from his head. We both stood staring at each other, about 100 metres apart. My immediate reaction was fear – was he going to charge at me? I was also awe-struck, and fumbled to get my camera to take the two photos below. Later I also drew him next to my map illustration (above and below). The moment passed, and he strutted down towards the woods, but discovered there was a fence, and after seeming to panic a little, he found a way out to the left into some bushes.
The funny thing is I had seen a stag red-triangle-warning sign on the road just a minute before! I decided it was safe to start walking again, and in that same second a pheasant flapped clumsily into the air right in front of me and I almost exploded, my heart was racing so fast!!!
I scrambled through some very muddy and overgrown woods, and emerged out into a field, with cows surrounding the stile at (6). I have a mild fear of being in the same field as cows, since they did charge at me once in the past, on which occasion I literally had to sprint out of the field. So I took a deep breath and edged my way around the field, as the cows stared blankly at me. I thanked them for not charging at me (!), and continued through a gate up ahead. Between (6) and (7) there was a lovely path along the top of a very steep field with a few trees scattered throughout. There was also a nice bench, which said “rest a while and think on me”, so I sat for a minute in the rain and reflected on what had just happened!
At (7) I arrived at The Abbey Inn, and walked along the road, past a few houses. There was also some kind of small factory/warehouse, where I discovered the footpath up to the left at (8). After climbing some steps, the enclosed path led around a corner, and eventually opened out to the left to look down across Brough park nature reserve, with a stunning view (right photo below). Then all of a sudden the path emerged into a back corner of Brough Park (9) in the centre of Leek, and I knew where I was again! I wondered back through town (10) to get home, and dry out my very soggy feet.
Walk four:Wednesday 11th October
By the fourth expedition I decided an actual map might be useful! So I bought the OS Explorer number 24, ‘The Peak District (White Peak Area)’. As well as helping me to get less lost, the map was also useful for accurately drawing the routes in each of my illustrations.
Heading out in the same direction as walks one and two, I finally found my way to Ballington Woods at (1). I found the twisted tree silhouettes really interesting (top left photo below), and as I came out of the woods I saw this trolley in the stream! (top right photo below). I crossed the main road and walked through the cemetery at (2), then crossed another road and joined a disused railway path alongside an industrial estate. The path was extremely straight and enclosed by a tall metal fence on one side, and trees on the other, and felt a bit ominous! I finally reached a turning to the right at (3).
The path lead into a small clearing with a ‘welcome to leak’ plaque and some information about the aqueduct at (4). I was stood on a bridge (bottom left photo below) over the river, and on the same level as the bridge was the start of the Caldon Canal, where another path lead to the left. But I continued straight, down some steps to the river level, and followed the trail.
Just before (5) I had to cross a dangerously busy road, since there was a corner leading to a split into two lanes, where cars were accelerating to overtake! I listened and watched carefully, then sprinted across to the opposite pavement. I walked on the pavement a short distance, and entered Ladderedge Country Park, with the path now alongside the canal feeder. This turned into the most beautiful footpath I’ve ever been on (bottom right photo below), covered in autumn leaves, surrounded by magical trees, accompanied by the tiny canal feeder, dotted here and there with sweet wooden footbridges into the park itself.
At (6) the path opened out into fields, still closely following the canal feeder, which was now a little more overgrown on either side. All of a sudden there was a bright, undeniable flash of blue from a passing Kingfisher! It shot ahead of me above the feeder, and I paused hoping to see it again, and maybe get a photo (far right photo below). In the end it was too fast, but it did make another brief appearance. My heart still racing I continued, and up ahead, to my horror, saw that four cows were blocking the path; the feeder on the left, and a short steep slope to the right into the field, with more cows. As with the previous walk, I had no choice but to push forward. So, I stood my ground and started waving/clapping/calling the cows back into the field, and gradually they gave way and let me pass. Once more I thanked them! Shortly afterwards I took the other two photos below, which I thought looked like a magical fairy bridge and boat!
Around (7) I was looking out for a turning to the right, and started feeling my usual doubts of ever finding the correct way. Eventually I found it, just as it started raining, and the path was getting muddier and muddier. At one point I even had to shimmy along the fence! The trail did turn into a concrete track at (8), but I was still swimming in mud, so I found a big stick to ensure I didn’t fall in. I then proceeded through the field, and to my delight I saw the railway track leading to Rudyard up ahead. I had planned to follow the path straight over the railway line, but was feeling too damp and exhausted, so decided to head home along the familiar track at (9) and once again arrived back in Leek town centre at (10).
Since the final walk above, me and Fraz have been on our biggest adventure yet: to Scotland and the Lake District. It was incredible and terrifying, and I can’t wait to share maps and sketches plus stories and photos from that trip.
It’s almost the end of the month, so the next post on here will be my ‘happy highlights’ from October. Until next time, keep adventuring and stay creative!
This is my 100th post on this blog! Wow!!! Thank you for being here and letting me share my creative journey.
I have been on so many little wild adventures recently, and can’t wait to share some stories, photos and artwork here soon. For today though, since it’s a milestone post, I just want to reflect and consider my plans for the near future.
This week I’ve started working on my own website, via Squarespace which is an extremely affordable and user-friendly website-building platform. It basically has all the building blocks to create a sleek and professional website to showcase all your work, add a shop, include a blog, all the usual information pages and more! So it’s pretty brilliant.
My main reason for wanting to create a dedicated website (rather than sticking with social media and a blog), is to start building a professional art portfolio. Since moving north I have been reconnecting with my love of painting and drawing, and exploring nature. I have also been feeling a renewed confidence in myself and my ability to become a full-time artist… one day. Of course that one day won’t get any closer if I don’t start working TODAY, and keep showing up EVERYday!
From this professional portfolio I would love to eventually show more work in galleries, get private commissions and possibly even editorial jobs and work in published books! Who knows!
At the moment I’m doing a lot of sketchbook work, but next I want to get out onto loose paper and other surfaces, and create finished pieces of art, to sell as originals, prints and merchandise. I’m also interested in rediscovering linocut and hand-carved stamps (which I have briefly explored in the past), to either use as stand-alone designs, or combine with paint, pen and collage for a truly mixed-media approach. Or a bit of both.
With regards to ‘merchandise’, I’m thinking of greetings cards, postcards, gift tags & wrap, letter-writing sets, notebooks… as well as digital downloads and ‘printables’ such as colouring pages from my line drawings and computer desktop wallpapers. So many possibilities!
Of course all of this means that I will also be re-launching my Etsy shop (which is a little empty at the moment!) and researching local art markets, plus I have already contacted some local art shops. And my Squarespace website will also enable me to create my own online shop.
Alongside all of this I also have a renewed enthusiasm for my YouTube channel, which has been steadily growing all by itself over the past couple of months, despite my lack of new content! I now have more than 100 subscribers, and almost 5,000 total views across my 13 videos, coming mostly from my very popular pen-pal video. That’s already half way to the minimum views needed to become ‘monitized’. So I will keep working at creating videos, especially focusing on art related content.
So, to summarise:
I’m going to create some finished artwork to sell…
…and build a professional art portfolio
…which I will showcase on my own website
…with a view to show in galleries, get commissions, possibly editorial work!?
I would like to create merchandise and prints from my artwork…
…to sell via Etsy/local shops/markets/my own website.
I’m planning to continue working on YouTube videos.
That’s all for now. I’ll be back next week, sharing some recent adventures and art to go along with them! Until then, stay creative!
I’m having a creative week so far, with a few adventures too! But not a very blog or YouTube focused week, and this post is a little late… so for today’s content I’ve just put together all the pictures from my latest Instagram feed, with a couple of exclusive extras at the end. I’m celebrating my creativity! What have you made recently sisters? Share it and celebrate it!
That’s all for now, see you back here on Sunday. Until then stay creative!
Life is hard. And I often feel like I stand no chance of growing up; no chance of having a proper job, saving money, driving a car, being a responsible adult… I was in a weird place the other day; so I went for a long walk around Rudyard lake and put Fiona Apple on in my headphones.
The lyric “I stand no chance of growing up”, from ‘Valentine’, seemed to be particularly poignant for me.
There are, however, four main things that keep me going and growing (in increasing order of importance):
Then there are all the other little things that make me smile, and bring me peace and slow my racing mind. And it’s nice to make a list of them, because lists make me feel calm too!
Green tea, the smell of that lush bubble bar, everything vegan, cartoons, yoga in the morning, beautiful magazines, libraries, museums, galleries, artists and their Instagrams, YouTube channels and Etsy shops… piano, BBC radio 6 music, singing, Björk, Radiohead and all the other musicians I adore… cobwebs with dew on, hydrangea, rising fog in the morning, seed heads, home-grown food, the full moon, shooting stars, reading horoscopes, ruined and forgotten buildings, drawing, collage, new books, old books, post, pen-pals, washi-tape…
And walks, lots of walks. Walking through forests and fields, up hills and mountains, and by rivers and lakes. Note to self: go on more walks! Below is a little photo documentation of the walk around Rudyard lake mentioned above…
Last week I also went on an art trail in Wirksworth, with Rosie (Fraz’s brother’s fiancée), which was wonderful. I ended up taking pictures of stuff that wasn’t meant to be art, as much as I was appreciating the actual art!
Then finally, a little bit of creativity for this week, in the form of two scrap collages – literally made up of some little pieces of paper from various projects, which I’ve been collecting in a little box!!!
First of all is a ‘junk journal’ with a witchy theme, that I made for a collaboration on Instagram. It’s a book with two signatures, each made with mismatched pieces of paper from various sources, including magazine pages, wrapping paper and envelopes. The cover is made from some repurposed cardboard packaging. I then painted the cover, and worked on a few pages inside the book.
As for the collaboration, the idea is myself and two other artists will each work in each others’ journals, and then return each one to the creator, filled with little bits of artwork from all three of us. I’m super excited to see the results!
Next I made this birthday card for my mum! I was really pleased with the result, and I learnt a new folding technique for an exciting 3D card. I love the simple act of kindness in making a card for someone else, and sending it via snail mail.
Then I’ve also been sketching in various locations – something I used to do all the time, so I’m glad I’ve rediscovered this habit.
…At Peak Wildlife Park, where they have giant bunnies, zebras, warthogs and more!
…At Peak Cavern (a.k.a. ‘The Devil’s Arse’!!!)
…At Jorvik Viking centre, in York.
And that’s all for now. I am trying to make a habit of creating something – even very small – every day… and consuming less. I will keep sharing the results with you!
I’ve moved…! It’s been one week since we packed up our things, said goodbye to Bristol and hello to Leek. And it’s just starting to sink in. Just starting to feel normal. I’m just starting to find a balance.
I haven’t taken many pictures this week, but I’ve had lots of thoughts buzzing around my brain, and lots of feelings beating through my heart. So I thought I would attempt to empty them out here, in my diary.
I have so many notebooks, sketchbooks, journals, planners, diaries; big, small, thick, thin, handmade, empty, well-loved… I’ve been trying to organise them, trying to organise my ideas: which do I need? How can they serve me? One book for planning and tracking, one book for observing and thinking, one book for reflecting and experimenting. One mind to hold it all together. But what do they contain?
I have so many interests, so many skills half-learnt, so many skills still to add to the list. So much potential. So many opportunities. So much to know, places to see, people I haven’t met… so much I’m still afraid of. I’ve been reading, researching, watching, observing, exploring.
I’ve been asking myself questions. Thinking about options: this or that. What do I like? What don’t I agree with? Where do I fit in? What’s right? What’s wrong? Where does the time go?
I want to create. But still this same question: what to create? And what for?
Recently I’ve been interested in mixed media art, journals, drawing, letters, cards, paper, cutting, sticking, layers… mess vs. arrangement, wild nature vs. clean manmade… How to create without destroying at the same time? How to get past my conscience to avoid destroying my own sanity. After all, how much weight can one pair of shoulders take?
If you train hard enough, you could lift more than people might expect. Yesterday we saw a strong-woman street-performer lift two grown men off the floor. Maybe I could train myself to take the weight of the world on my shoulders. Or maybe I could train myself to take the weight of the world off my conscience.
Creativity is here for you first. What you create and what brings you joy, is for you first. And for others second. What do I enjoy? What process do I enjoy? Forget about the problems and the consequences; the packaging, the waste, the plastic, the manmade… all we can do is try. Sometimes trying becomes too trying, and tears tear us apart. Let the creativity through and open up to inspiration.
We can work out the problems along the way, and find that balance. Think of my yoga practice; the breath, the strength from within; grounding down, whilst lifting up; connecting mind and body.
Balance can only be achieved in calm, not in anger. Balance can only be found with knowledge, not with ignorance. So keep learning, keep creating, and keep breathing in inspiration. We will find clarity, and we will see that the universe is unfolding as it should, and we are already where we are meant to be.
Until next time, stay creative; stay true to you.
Peace and love,
p.s. The wonderful flag is a handmade leaving gift from one of our Bristol friends, which was accompanied by a ‘Bye Bye Bristol’ flag. I love receiving handmade gifts!
Inspiration is everywhere. I breathe it in with every breath, and exhale creative energy onto everything I touch.
I have been feeling very inspired lately, but today I am tired. So I just wanted to share a few images and show you how inspiration can be found in every part of life, even the dull and rusted parts.
Nature never ceases to amaze and fascinate me…
But nature is more than trees and green.
It is microbiology blown up in scale and made out of glass…
…and it is flying through space in 3D!
Then there is the opposite of nature: manmade. The complex patterns and shapes in an engine…
…or the cogs in an old ship!
There is also beauty when the manmade begins to break down, and we are reminded of time, which nature is already so accustomed to.
With our manmade creations we sometimes think we are invincible, and can forget about time. Yet time always shows up in many beautiful ways.
In the rust…
…and the holes…
…and the layers of paint.
In the wood that got battered by the waves…
…and the places where we scratched our names. There is beauty in it all!
Thank you for being here, following my creative journey! I really like the direction this blog is taking, and I hope you do too!!! I am enjoying using my blog as a diary; a place to reflect, and collect images and words in an incomplete way. As something to document my adventures in creativity.
In next week’s blog post I think I will share some of the results of all this inspiration, in the form of some handmade journals and mixed media work. You can already see some of this over on Instagram!I’m there most days with posts of my work, plus ‘stories’ where I show a few behind the scenes snaps and other fun stuff.