Monday, March 31, 2014

Symbols in my art

Here's some snippets of what I've been up to recently. A little woodland design, circus design & yes, still drawing the sun & lots of clouds! Some artists talk about the same symbols coming up in their art time & time again, I find that very interesting & I also think it makes the design/painting more interesting as it gives you a glimpse of the artist behind the design. I'm noticing these recurring symbols popping up in my work now- I wonder what the reasoning is behind drawing suns & clouds? Perhaps it's just the simple reason that I'm desperate for summer now. Let's see if my symbols change once summer is here!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Chances We Didn't Take

This quote is giving me comfort today.

I had to think long & hard about my artistic journey & career this weekend. I had to say 'no' to something & that was so, incredibly hard to do- to turn down money. I had so many thoughts rushing through my head like 'Are you crazy? How can you possibly turn this down? We are in a recession Woman!!' or 'You'll loose a contact over this' & even 'You can't pick & choose your jobs, you should be thankful & take it'. My ego rattled on & on in my head but then I remembered an interview I heard at the Creative Thursday blog with Matte Stephens & how he struggled to make ends meet in the beginning, selling his paintings on Ebay, but he carried on regardless. What courage that must have taken. I also then thought of Eckhart Tolle who was very poor for a while & somedays didn't even have enough money to eat properly but still carried on the path he felt he should be on. I'm very fortunate that I'm not in that situation & certainly wouldn't go hungry by turning a job down but still I have this inner argument going on inside of me. It's definitely a money thing. If money didn't come into it, it would be a no brainer & there-in lies the answer. When I said 'no' I felt instant relief, whereas the thought of saying 'yes' made me feel miserable. I'm just going to have to be brave & trust my instincts as who knows what work I may produce in the time I would have lost if I had said yes? Let's wait & see.....

As I write this I have a little bunny sleeping next to me- just too sweet for words- I had to share it with you.

And I wanted to share a mother & daughter collaboration that we finished a while ago. I've had this huge canvas for years & just didn't know where to start on it, so I let my three year old go wild on it!
We put a layer of paint down first, then pens & pencils. She then stuck down paper on top, which is how our Cheetah came to life & I then immediately thought of Africa as we had used lots of hot colours, so we added clouds & a sun & moon with a stencil I made. We loved every minute of it & it now hangs above her little desk in her play room :)
I'll be back soon with some more work to show
Love & light

Thursday, March 20, 2014

New Paintings

So I've been slowly working my way through Danielle Daniel's Her Story e-course. Considering it started last September it's taking me a while to complete! Lol! I'll get there, never enough time in the day is my mantra- I need to fix that- perhaps a sabbatical? (unpaid) Then I can just paint, paint paint!

Anyway the course has been so much fun & Danielle really makes me laugh, she's does have a way with words- I can see why she loves to write as well as paint.

Here are the new paintings in progress, I only meant to start with one but now have four on the go, it was just too much fun, you could hear me squealing (with joy) as I created the backgrounds!

I have also finished painting 22 & 23- now available to buy in my Etsy shop.

Painting 22
Titled 'Happy Being Me'
Available to buy here

Painting 23
Titled 'I'm Home'
Available to buy here

I've named this creature Bob. Bob can change colour whenever he feels like it. He thinks today is a lilac sort of day............

Have lovely weekend folks!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Road Trip

We've just got back from a mini break to Southwold in Suffolk. I've never been before but have always heard lovely things about the place & decided it would be my birthday treat this year. Well, it lived up to its expectations : -) The beach was a delight- it just went on forever & the beach huts were so bright & cheerful, even after being weather beaten all winter. Good times were had. One thing that did hit me though, when I started to relax & switch off as it were from my 'normal' life, I realised I was/am exhausted. All I wanted to do was sleep- sleep in the car- sleep on the beach- anywhere I could. It probably didn't help that I still have this awful cold but I think it's time to listen to my body & go easy this week. No late nights working & having rests throughout the day (if my daughter will let me & if she won't I will just have to use my number one magic trick- CBeebies- works everytime ; -)).

On a totally different subject, anyone reading this had a Reiki session before? I'm going to a pamper evening later on & thought I would try it out! No idea what to expect!

Be back soon with new paintings in progress.
Love & light

 We had a lighthouse at the end of our street!

 Enjoying the view from the pier

 How teeny, tiny is this house?! Look at the car next to it to give you an idea of how small it is.
Now who used to live there do you think?

Eeeek! I've lost my legs.....

 No zooming in here, this chap was this close to me. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

No sleep, snippets & an art fair

Hello. How's you?

It's been a rather hard week for me in the fact that I've had little sleep due to my daughter having a nasty cough & cold- which I have now caught as well. She hasn't wanted to eat either, so she's hungry & very tired- not a good combination : ( As you can imagine, this has resulted in me not getting any work done at all. I think today we are out of the woods as she's back to her normal self, so fingers crossed we'll all get some sleep tonight.

I did however get to visit the Affordable Art Fair in London last night which was very inspiring & such a treat for me. It's still on if you want to visit. My favourite artists of the night were Becky Blair, Eithne Roberts & Charlie O'Sullivan. Here's a beautiful piece I spied for any bunny lovers out there.

I have been working on a few projects & here are some snippets below.

Trying to do more Geometric style designs in bright colours

Sketching initial ideas onto my computer. LOVE this bunny!!!

Adding paint & texture

I just cannot stop drawing foxes! Perhaps the fox is one of my totem animals- I must look it up!

Have a great weekend everyone & in case you didn't see it, please do read my latest interview with artist Mique Moriuchi, trust me, she is amazing!

Love & light

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Interview with Mique Moriuchi

Hello all.

I'm so excited to share my next interview with you, as this lovely lady- Mique Moriuchi, is one of my favourite illustrators. I have been a fan of her work for a few years now & I'm building up a rather lovely collection of her books for my daughter who adores them too! Her favourite being Butterfly Girl

I just love all the textures & patterns Mique creates. I adore her characters & the colours she uses are just, well, beautiful. Whenever I'm reading one of Mique's books to my daughter, she always ends up telling me off for reading too slowly because I can't help but linger on each page taking in the amazing art work!

I was so thrilled when Mique agreed to do the interview, as she is a first time mummy with a toddler in tow & something mummies just don't have is spare time!! I really appreciate this Mique! Thank you so much :-)

Here are Mique's interview questions. As before, some are fun, some are practical & some go deeper. Enjoy!

Hi Mique, can you tell us a bit about yourself & how long have you been painting/illustrating professionally?

I've always loved making pictures, ever since I was a little girl. My mum is an artist, so from an early age, we enjoyed making things together, from pots to picture books and crafty summer projects.

I studied Graphic Design/Illustration at Norwich School of Art & Design, then completed my MA in Sequential Design & Illustration at University of Brighton in 1999.

It took a few years of persevering, pestering and being utterly broke before things finally started to happen for me. I'd say I've been illustrating professionally for a little over 10 years.

When & how in that journey did you discover your love of Mixed Media?

Truthfully, it happened through my inability to paint! I did a lot of black and white lino cuts during my BA, but what I really wanted to do was use lots of colour freely and create textures. I was useless at painting figures, but enjoyed painting abstract backgrounds and pattern. I experimented with collage as a way to combine my lino printed characters with painted backgrounds towards the end of my BA, and that was how it all began. 

When starting a new piece of work, staring at a blank canvas can be daunting. What is your go-to/favourite method you use to create your backgrounds & what are your favourite supplies currently?

The beginning bit is the carefree, easy and fun bit for me. I loosely lay down colour using a combination of collage and acrylic paint. There's no pressure at this point, as any mistakes can be painted over, and becomes part of the process of creating layers and texture. I love painting so freely, and it helps me think about what I want the picture to be.

On the other hand, I find finishing a piece often the hardest part of the process. It's rare that I'm happy with a finished piece; I could probably go on tweaking little bits here and there forever.

Like myself you are a mother and someone who is self-employed. We have to wear many hats & take on many roles! It's a juggling act & most of the time I struggle to fit in anything creative into my day! Can you give us any tips on how you organise your days to ensure you have time to create & what percentage of your time is 'creative time' during the week versus everything else? (Don't worry if burning the midnight oil is your answer to this one!) 

My boy is at nursery 2 days a week, and these are my working days. It took 15 months until I was able to have this precious bit of time for myself, so I try not to get distracted with housework etc, but it's hard to ignore all the stuff that needs doing when you work from home.

When I am with my boy, it's near impossible to get any work done, so I dedicate my time to him and try to keep phone and computer time to a minimum. Once he goes to sleep for the night, out comes my ever-growing list, and I'm lucky if I manage to tick one thing off. In those few precious hours between his sleep and my own, I cram in dinner, email and all correspondence type things, blogging, catching up with partner (although more often than not, we tend to have our heads buried in our laptops, engrossed in our own little worlds), and at the end of or in between all that, I create.

Knitting and sewing is ideal as I can pick up and put down whenever and wherever, and I can do it in front of the telly, which is a bonus! Illustration is more tricky; as I do everything by hand, it's super messy, with paper and paint everywhere. Evenings are dark and I can't see the colours properly. It's hard to drag myself away from the comfort of the sofa to sit in my cramped little corner of the living room, especially when I am tired and sleepy from constant sleep deprivation and a full belly. However, if there's a deadline to meet it's a different story. I'll put in all the hours I have into my work. Sleep is the biggest sacrifice I make to fit it all in. Being a night owl, I used to enjoy working through the night but of course things are different now. If I stay up too late, I pay the price the next day

Are there any words of encouragement you would like to give to creative Mummies out there who are feeling run down & frustrated creatively. In other words when you are tired and don't have much time spare, how do you keep yourself ticking over creatively & how would it effect you if you didn't do anything creative?

Creativity is both a curse and a blessing. You can't switch it off. You're always looking, thinking, questioning, making observations and jotting down. Although I may not physically be creating something, it's all part of the same process. It's still creative time. Having a baby boy who wasn't the greatest sleeper, and who mostly only napped in my arms, I had no spare time or energy for anything but I still made observations (mostly about my boy) and jotted things down when I could. I'm glad I did, as my sleep deprived fuzzy brain wouldn't have remembered half of those things. When my boy started nursery, or had the occasional long nap, I would refer to these notes and make pictures. Right there in those scribbles and notes is my endless source of inspiration.

For anyone just starting out what did you find was the best way to get your work out there & seen? i.e Agent, Facebook? Blog? Etsy Shop? A combination of all?

Things were very different when I was first trying to get my work seen. It was before the days of the world wide web, which makes me sound ancient! I used to send out packages with photocopies of my work and handmade stationery to publishers, editors and agents. I came up with different ways to try and make my work stand out from the crowd. These days everything seems to be done digitally and online, which is great for saving time and money, but with so much great talent out there, I still believe it's important to make yourself and your work stand out from the crowd. Persistence and innovation are key. Exhibitions are also a great way to get your work seen, in addition to providing you with a deadline to work towards. One of my exhibitions led to my very first picture book commission, so you never know where things take you!

Today, I have a blog, Flickr page and Etsy shop, and I've just recently updated my website and set up a Facebook page. I enjoy all of these things and feel like I've made some lovely connections with fellow illustrators, as well as parents, students and people from all over. Life as a freelance illustrator can be pretty isolating at times, and likewise being a parent to a baby or toddler, so these little bits of communication can put a smile on my face, inspire and keep me going. Admittedly, I'm not sure whether these platforms alone would have led to big commissions. They are more an outlet for personal work, but it's really important to keep personal work going. My agents Arena take care of the business side of things, looking for suitable projects, and helping me manage my time, contracts, wobbles etc, which enables me to focus totally on my work. I've been with them for about 10 years, and they've been great!

What other artists are inspiring you at the moment?

Lots of people! Here are just a few of my favourites illustrators: Beatrice Alemagna, Kumi Obata, Morteza Zahedi, Jon Klassen, Christian Robinson, Blanca Gomez, Carson Ellis, Laura Carlin, Marika Maijala, Violeta Lopiz, Yasmeen Ismail, Tupera Tupera, Shinta Cho, Gomi Taro, 100% Orange, Leo Lionni, Tove Jansson...the list is endless!

Thanks so, so much for taking part, please tell us where can we connect with you?

You can find me here:

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Creativity Takes Courage

Notebook from the wonderful Ecojot

I so love this quote, it really does take courage to put your work & soul out there for everyone to see & judge. I take my hat off to everyone who is bravely showing the world their creativity in whatever form that may be.
Lately I've been pushing myself to make work that makes me happy & to try not to worry about what others may think. It's very easy to create commercial work but when I do, I feel like it's always lacking in soul. I've also been realising that I am drawn to very quirky & unusual artwork & that must be telling me something mustn't it? So my goal is to not be afraid to try new things & really let my imagination take over- that way I will feel fulfilled- even if that means risking creating artwork that may not sell.
I did push the boundaries fairly recently & created a very unusual piece that I really did think would never sell & to my surprise it did & quite quickly! Another sign perhaps? 
I will try to continue to be brave & when I'm not feeling it, I will simply repeat to myself "creativity takes courage".

 Snippet of a painting 22 I've been working on

Little mixed media project on the go

Little valentines project on the go

Sketching away. Something I am trying to do a lot more of.

I will be back at the end of the week with my next artist interview! Yay! I am really looking forward to sharing it with you :)

Love & light Emma x