Saturday, 16 January 2021

On Instagram - at last


At long last I have started using Instagram. OK, I'm a bit behind the rest of the world but that's normal for me. Although I have been using social media and my blog for over ten years it is getting harder and harder to be seen thanks to the dreaded 'algorithms' that decide if you are 'cool' or not (I am so very not cool).

So I have not been posting much anywhere just because it is soul destroying to spend time thinking of something interesting to say only for no one to see it. Currently I get my best engagement on Facebook if I post once every six weeks and my blog reach has fallen to almost nothing. It makes the whole thing a bit pointless. 

So I am trying Instagram. I don't have a smart phone (I don't have a mobile phone at all actually) so it has not been easy for me to post there. However, after years of trying to figure out a way I finally found a work around with a cheap tablet.

Now I can post my art more regularly as I am not using it to find hundreds of followers. I am hoping that people using either search engines or Instagram's own search system will come across my work and see something they like. I am not going to get dragged into the algorithm issue or numbers of followers. It will be an online portfolio for people to scroll through and enjoy the images - and it would be nice if a bit of work came from it too.

So, if you would like to follow me there and see photos of my art, local Scottish wildlife, plants and scenery and whatever else I think might be interesting then you can find me here.

Monday, 5 October 2020

Paper bead update - at long last

It has been a while since I released some new beads. There should have been a new collection in the spring but my mojo just couldn't handle it. So they were abandoned. Now, at long last, I have created some autumn themed paper beads. Harvest, trees, fruit and all things autumn. Autumn is my favourite time of year and I think that helped me choose these images. They have certainly been very popular so far. 


autumn paper beads

If you would like to check them out then they are in my Etsy store here.

Thursday, 1 October 2020

Wildlife greetings cards and stickers for a new dawn - hopefully.

I did it! I finally got some greetings cards and stickers made up with my art on. I can't believe it! For years I wanted to have my work on greetings cards - even submitting my art to many card publishers. Much to my disappointment, I was rejected each time. I was approached by a card company a few years back to design a card for the RSPB too - but after initial contact from the company I heard nothing more. As a result I am horribly nervous about putting my cards out there now.

Watercolour fox greetings card

This is just a small run to start with but I am hoping to add new designs over time. 

Watercolour wildlife stickers

If you would like to take a look at the full range then you can find it at my web site: where you will find rabbits, hares, badgers, foxes and woodmice alongside autumn leaves, shells and butterflies.


Watercolour hare greetings card

Watercolour british wildlife vinyl stickers

Saturday, 29 August 2020

Can you help with an art survey? Please!

Today I have a little request. If you read my previous post about new things I have been trying, you will know that there are a few plans I want to put into action.

Art sales have been slow over the last couple of years so I have been trying to think of a few things I can do and things I can sell. The trouble is, I am never sure what people are really interested in. I know they like my art, both the detailed and realistic stuff and the loose and free stuff. But I know the price of original art can put people off, and the younger generations are not as interested in owning art long term. Many people like buying low cost art prints then throwing them away once they get tired of them. That is a bit of a problem for someone who has sold a lot of original work in the past. I have also been burned when making investment in products I see selling well elsewhere. For me, they just didn't do so well. Ouch! So I would like to ask for your help.

watercolour rabbit greetings card

My mind has been in overdrive for weeks with ideas - I am considering getting some art made into prints, greetings cards and stickers but would like to know your opinions on a few things. Would you mind taking a short survey for me? It is just 5 questions covering the style of art you like, why you buy art (either original art/prints or printed products with art on) and the subject matter you like to see - and it's anonymous. It would be a huge help to me and would help me plan for the future. 

wildlife stickers rabbit, mouse and badger

Here is the link:

Thank you so much in advance.

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Moving forward, pattern design and some paintings

Things have been quiet around here recently, I know. With all that is going on in the world my creativity has taken a back seat. In fact I think it may have gone on holiday somewhere interesting without me. However, as you can see, I have done some painting. So I thought I'd share a few images in between my ramblings.

Bead and silk cord sales have been good over the last few months and I have sold a few paintings  - which I am very grateful for. But product development and general crafting has been limited. That is not totally down to Coronavirus. I have been struggling with Etsy for the last couple of years and it has taken its toll on my mental health.

If you read my post last year about Etsy's free shipping push you will know how angry and disappointed I was about that. Sales there have become fewer over the last couple of years, fees, taxes and postage charges have climbed higher and higher and Etsy is pushing us to use more seller services if we want to get found. Selling there has become a horrible chore for me. On top of that, being found on social media is increasingly difficult and my blog does not get the exposure it once did via Google. To me, selling online has become a dance with the devil. With family commitments as well, I am just plain, old worn out.

So, after all that, where am I going with my work? I was very lucky to access a creative business course for free during lockdown. The Make Art That Sells MBA course is run by Lilla Rogers and Beth Kempton. Lilla is an artist of almost 40 years and an art agent and Beth is an award winning author who helps people reach their full potential. The course guides creative people through finding a path forward, setting goals and advising on business practices in the art world. The offer turned up just when I needed it and has offered a lovely spring board into planning where I want my future self to be. It also led me down a rather large rabbit hole.

Beth Kempton is also linked to other creative people who run courses along side her. While Make Art That Sells is mostly about the illustration world, Beth also runs her own site that helps you build a more fulfilling lifestyle and is co-founder of Make It In Design with Rachel Taylor. By chance - or by Facebook's algorithm - and advert for Make It In Design's Florals in Nature course popped up. It covers creating floral and nature themed motifs for using in surface pattern design, i.e. all those pretty patterns that cover everything from wall paper, cushions and curtains to lunch boxes, notepads and phone cases. It opened a whole new world of possibilities for me and my first love, my art.

Following on from that course, I signed up for the Make It In Design hub that has lots of videos, interviews and inspiration for design (sadly, it is only open for sign ups at certain times during the year). Then there was a writing course by Beth - Word Heal. That was a joyful experience and introduced me to new self help options, new authors and new styles of writing. Next, I signed up for the MIID Summer School which gives us professional briefs and inspiration so we can try and design patterns that might be usable in a professional setting. (It started this week and I am already knee deep in sketches for my first brief.) And I hope to sign up for yet another course later this year to help me focus on new selling options. On top of that, I have also taken short courses and webinars in art and design by Tracy Verdugo, Bonnie Christine, Stacie Bloomfield from Gingiber, Martina Flor, Mye De Leon and more than a few via Domestika - a Spanish speaking art platform that offers art related courses with English subtitles. Phew! By the way, I'm not affiliated to any of these businesses - I have just enjoyed their courses and thought others might be interested.

So, now I have to put all of that knowledge into action. I am hoping that my future work will be more varied, more interesting, more stimulating, more profitable and more enjoyable. I have a path forward! In recent years I have not had the opportunity to do as much art as I would have liked. With all the problems over Etsy I have spent most of my working days trying to fix things rather than be creative. It has been no fun and far too much stress. So, onwards and upwards and hopefully the new things will bring me some new joy. I already have some new pen and ink drawings. I haven't used pen and ink properly in YEARS - and it is FUN! 

No doubt I will be sharing some of my new work on here over time - and hopefully more regularly too. It has been a while since I have been so upbeat about my future work projects so it is nice to feel free again. As always, if you happen to be interested in the paintings, they are all available on my web site along with a few more. Here's to a more creative future!

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Ideas for what to do in a global pandemic

I hope everyone is keeping well and safe right now. This is my first blog post of the year. Who would have thought I would be writing about a global pandemic? It has been a strange few weeks that have turned things on their head for many people. With all the stuff on TV and on social media, it is all too easy to slip into a place of anxiety. My parents are both in their 70s with health issues so trying to keep in my usual work routine has been a bit of a challenge. Thank goodness for meditation and yoga.

I have to admit that I am not much of a socializer. My idea of a wild night out is badger watching. So being in lock down has not been as difficult for me as for some people. However, if you are finding being at home a lot a bit of a challenge then I have a few ideas for helping pass the time and lessening the anxiety.

1. Try to limit your exposure to the news, be it on the TV, radio or social media. It does make a difference. While many of us will want to keep up to date with current affairs, being constantly bombarded with information about the crisis wears us down. I watch the headlines in the morning and the evening news to hear the government's latest advice. Other than a quick social media check-in twice a day, I stay away from Facebook. The time will come when I can go back to my usual routine - but right now I need to step away.

2. Focus on what you can control rather than what you cannot. Covid-19 is going to do what it is going to do. We have no control over that. We do have control over washing our hands regularly, not touching our faces (which makes it easier for the virus to enter the body) and following the rules set out by our governments.

3. Try new things. If you have ever wanted to try a new, craft, learn about a new subject or speak a new language then this is a great time to do it. It does not have to cost you money. You Tube has some great 'how to' videos on almost every craft you can imagine. Future Learn offers free short online courses in a huge variety of subjects areas, from professional classes to history and science. There are even classes on dealing with Covid-19. Duolingo is a free language learning app and web site and has 35 different languages available - including Latin and Klingon. Currently I am taking a business course, several art courses and am thinking of learning a little Spanish. It all helps keep my brain from running away with itself.

4. Ever wanted to read some classic literature but can't find the time? Audible is currently offering free access to some of the classic literature, e.g Frankenstein, Jane Eyre, A Brave New World, Anne of Green Gables or Winnie the Pooh. It is only a small collection as it is aimed at children who are being home schooled right now. But it is a nice selection to listen to while you craft, exercise, tidy up, etc.

5. Do you have any 'work in progress' pieces that you never got round to finishing? Yes, I am guilty. I have a badger painting and two ladybird paintings that I want to get finished on top of several knitting projects and now is as good a time as any.

6. Yoga and meditation. As a sufferer of anxiety, I fall back on both yoga and meditation regularly. I have practised both for over 20 years and have found them invaluable for my mental health. If you are interested in checking them out, there are a wide variety of yoga/meditation videos on YouTube to suit different tastes - but I can recommend Yoga with Adriene for yoga. She is enthusiastic and encouraging - and has a cute dog who helps too.

You can find lots of different kinds of meditation videos and podcasts out there too, ranging from guided meditations to natural sounds. Future Learn also has a few courses on mindfulness if you want to learn a bit about it. However, a simple meditation practice consists of breathing in slowly through your nose while counting to eight, then releasing the breath slowly through your nose for a count of eight. Repeat as often as you need to. I use it most days when things get on top of me and it does help me slow down.

Finally, if you are looking for some simple tutorials to follow during this quiet time, I have a few free ones on my blog. The links are below.

Simple silk bracelet tutorial
Silk cord and paper bead bracelet tutorial
Journal Planner Charm Tutorial
How to make a glued notepad

I also have a few paper bead and jewellery tutorials for sale on Etsy which you can find here. There is lots of inspiration in them as well as clear photos and instructions on making jewellery components, bracelets from paper and paper beads.

I hope the links and information above helps someone out there. The world is out of sorts right now but I hope it will find balance again very soon.

Sunday, 22 December 2019

Festive greetings and best wishes for 2020

I just want to wish all my followers a happy and peaceful festive season. I know a lot of people find this time of year difficult, and this year has been very difficult for some of us, but I am looking forward to a better year in 2020 with more creativity and a more peaceful path for us all. Thank you for following my work this year. I appreciate it very much and hopefully in 2020 I will have more creativity to share with you all - and maybe a few new changes of direction too.

Sunday, 13 October 2019

How to make a glued notepad

One of my new Etsy products is a digital download of notepad pages that can double as journal cards for memory books, journals and scrapbooks. 

However I recently discovered how to make your own glued notepads while looking for something else entirely. Isn't it always the way? My first notepad was made using scraps of leftover paper. But it is so simple that I wanted to make something a bit more decorative and realised my art made the prefect subject matter for some cute notepads to scatter through the house. 

Tools and materials:

10 printouts from the PDF included with these instructions. I use plain copy paper in 70-100gsm (roughly 20 - 24lb in the US).

Tacky PVA glue (It has to be tacky glue that is nice and thick. I use Aleene's Tacky Glue.)

Paper trimmer or scissors

Spring clamps

  1. Print out ten copies of the notepad papers. That makes 40 sheets of paper for the pad. I used the printer's standard settings but you can use a higher quality print if you prefer.
  1. Cut each of the sheets out using the grey outlines as a guide.
  1. Bundle all of the sheets together and make sure all the sides line up and are straight, especially the top edges. Clip the bundle of papers together near the top of the pad using the spring clamps. You want the top of the bundle of papers to be nice and tight and firmly squeezed together.
  1. Take the top off of the tacky glue and squeeze a generous amount along the top of the paper bundle. You want to smooth it out either using your finger or a little piece of card but don't mash the glue into the top of the paper or you will get glue oozing in places you don't want it. Let that layer dry. Then squeeze a second layer of glue on top of the first once it has dried. Again, make it a generous layer, smooth it out and let it dry.

That's it! You have a great little notepad using some cute images.

Alternative ways to use the sheets

Instead of using the glue method, you can hold the sheets together using a fancy bulldog clip or punch holes along the top of the pad and fasten the sheets together with string or hinged book binding rings.  

You can also use the sheets for journaling or scrapbooking too.

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Cute digital greetings cards

I have a new product line available on Etsy today - printable greetings cards of my art. I have always wanted to design greetings cards and submitted designs to various card publishers over the years. I was even 'headhunted' for designs for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) a few years ago. Sadly none of the opportunities came to anything but I still wanted my art on greetings cards.

digital greetings card rabbit, badger, mouse

Like so many things in life - sometimes you have to do it yourself. Although these are digital downloads, if they sell well, I hope that I will be able to produce proper cards in future. The beauty of these digital downloads is that they allow you to print cards out at home as many times as you need. If you need birthday, anniversary or even just 'hello!' cards for lots of people they make a great investment. I have bought a few digi-cards in my time for exactly that reason. I have 5x7 inch and 5x5 inch cards at the moment and all are blank for your own message - and therefore great to use for any occasion.

digital greetings card, badger and fox

I am hoping they will do well. It is an ever growing struggle to find customers and the ideal product these days. Being a rather un-imaginative person, it is twice as hard. I'm more at home walking in the hills than being the fun loving, social butterfly we are supposed to be online. However, if all goes well, I am hoping to produce other digital products soon. Next on the cards are digital prints but I'm considering craft products too. Only time will tell.

Friday, 30 August 2019

A new adventure with wildlife watercolour painting

There has not been a huge amount of creativity going on here lately. Things with Etsy have rather taken the wind out of my sails so I have had a quiet month or so to try and find a way forward.

However, on the bright side, I have been painting a lot more. I have had some ideas for a new product line that moves away from the hand made supplies I have offered for nearly 11 years. It's all a bit hush hush yet but it does involve my paintings. Over recent years the painting has had to take a back seat - much to my disappointment. I am hoping that in future I will be able to use my artistic skill much more and people will be able to buy products with some rather cute members of the British wildlife community on.

These guys are two of the pieces I have finished up. There are others including otters, woodmice and even moths. The big issue now is producing digital files for them. That's the scary stuff that has a steep learning curve. But, as they say, onwards and upwards. For the first time in a while I am feeling inspired and excited. I will keep you updated on how things go forward.