I was invited to take part in this project by artist Sara Bevan, who will be exhibiting the finished books this summer. The project excited me from the start. The potential of the blank pages and the manageable size was very attractive to me.
I had a holiday to Vancouver Island booked and I thought I would look for inspiration there. The scenery was breath taking. The ocean was decorated with islands full of trees that looked like giant bonsai gardens. It was wild.
On returning home I had to piece together the fragments and create something cohesive. I knew that I wanted to lino print the book and so I carved some new blocks that were inspired by my getaway. Conceptually I was thinking a lot about memories. Memories from my holiday, memories of my old art now being recreated. How memories change as you think about them.
Memories are made of layers. They are not always clear and crisp, but often faded around the edges like a dream when you awake. Some parts we embellish. Some we dust with glitter. Others are just like a little book that we take out to read again and again.
Craft and art shows can be a great way to get your work into the public domain, but how do you cope with a big (or small) flop?
Disappointing sales can not only be crushing financially but emotionally too, so what can be learned and what can you do to put a positive spin on things?
I asked in the Facebook group Advice for Artists - a groups of talented and professional creatives - what advice they would give.
Firstly it would seem that this sort of experience is certainly not isolated - in fact it was pretty much shared across the board. It’s good to realise that you are certainly not alone and so there is no reason to go into a shame spiral and throw all your work out of the window.
The trick is to look at what went wrong and see what you can do differently next time.
Assuming that you had a kick ass stall, the sort that Pinterest peeps would drool over and a selection of covetable goodies to sell: should you blame the organisers for your lack of sales?
Well, it’s kind of easy to not take responsibility and use a scapegoat, but it’s good to ask whether or not you played your part. Did you promote on social media, offer to put up posters or help in any way? If the organisers were hopelessly inept, then lesson learnt: don’t do another event with them.
So what went wrong?
There are lots of factors that go into a successful or a disastrous day. It could be that your target audience simply wasn’t there, maybe there were similar things at a cheaper price point, or even that it rained and nobody showed up.
One respondent told me how a show she had planned and worked towards for months turned into a nightmare. Due to strong winds she ended up being placed indoors alongside some smelly goats where she was treated like a hindrance by the owner. The event was so bad that she actually stopped doing fairs after that.
Deciding which events to do can feel like a game of roulette and if you aren’t careful you can certainly lose money on them. Some of the ‘bigger’ events can cost a small fortune simply in the stall fee, let alone travelling expense and accommodation if you have to travel far.
So how can you tell what to do?
Artist and illustrator, Betsy Treacy Siber, advised talking to the other vendors to work out what the good shows are: “This usually means they've been around for a while and have an established audience of shoppers.”
It’s a good way to find out what shows are worth doing and it can also be useful in terms of recapping afterwards. Sometimes everyone has a bad show - other times certain stalls are real winners. It’s kinda useful to work out what is working and why.
If you can’t find the right event then create your own! Another artist suggested that you put on something in your home or local venue with a compatible artist. You can invest your money on advertising the event instead of spending your usual event fees and if you get the right people interested - you could have a really successful event.
Some artists have managed to make events work for them as their main income, whereas others balance it with freelance and licensing work. You might want to really hop on the events train, but then decide that the experience is not quite for you anyway.
The important thing is that by getting out there you are getting out there! Shop owner/maker at Heart and Soul Apothecary, Leah Quinn said : “When I first started doing shows, it was more about getting people to learn I exist - think of it as paying for fabulous exposure.”
Every event you do increases your visibility and you never know who might find you or what opportunity might come from it.
Staying positive is really important, so dust yourself off and get ready to rock your next show!
So after picking up my work on Morvah Schoolhouse on Friday - I am officially finished. Well kind of! I have a great project that I am currently working on, but the point is I feel like I am on holiday already.
I’ve been working so hard getting things ready for the house swap, promoting the FLAME event, as well as getting my work ready, that I felt as though I had lost myself in the effort.
I have to admit that I can be pretty obsessive with things. A nicer word is focused, but I think that I do tend to get absorbed by things to the exclusion of my own needs.
But then, sometimes life demands that you put in extra effort - especially when you know that there will be a reward at the end.
Right now I am feeling pretty organised. I’m pretty much packed, the house is tidy and I can just take some time to reflect.
It’s like there is all this space in my head again. I can take time, breathe, do some yoga and wonder ‘what next?’. This is always a pretty big question for me, but now I have some time to think about it.
When you are creative the prospect of making a living as an artist can be pretty overwhelming. There is no one path. It’s not a straight line. No one really knows if what they are doing is going to work or whether they are good enough.
If I think about it too much I just want to run away, but I have come too far now and I enjoy it too much to do anything else.
I do wonder what am I though? Am I an illustrator/artist or designer? Do I have a t-shirt business, a stationary business or greeting card one? I do all these things and want to do more. I just love being creative! I love designing things and then seeing my designs on useful items.
I am hoping that sharing a shop in Chapel Street will give me a clearer idea about what people want and what items work. It’s an exciting opportunity to get my work in front of a larger audience. Chapel Street is a really exciting and vibrant part of Penzance too - it will be exciting to be part of it.
My dreams of the future are to keep on doing the things I love, but in a more holistic way. I want to make sure that I stay happy and healthy in the process of making a living.
In the meantime I will be having adventures, remembering that the world is a much bigger place than this piece of granite I call home and seeking magic wherever I can find it.
It took about four months work, lino cutting, printing and creating these items and then 2 hours to put the display together. I was tempted to do a time lapse film to show all the stages involved - but in the end I just needed to get on and do it! Maybe some other time.
If you haven’t heard of FLAME before then that’s because it’s a fairly new collective of Artisans and Makers. Standing for First and Last Artisans and Makers, FLAME aims to support artists and create affordable and well curated events.
I’m happy to be sharing the lovely Morvah Schoolhouse with 6 other artists. There is jewellery from Chris Wells, bags by Lydia Buttons, driftwood art by Jane Furey (Fureyiously Made), photographs by Steve Payter (Artisan Cornwall) wildlife paintings by Jackie Hichens and ceramics by Rebecca English.
The gallery is a gorgeous, light space overlooking fields and the ocean. With just a couple of tables and chairs upstairs you are ensured a relaxing drink whilst watching the skyscape transform in front of you.
The preview on Sunday was a lovely event with friends and visitors coming to chat and look at the displays. The exhibition is on display until the 27th April - it would be great if you would visit and sign the guestbook. Thanks!
It was a little strange how it happened. I can’t remember the exact moment. I think I saw somebody else’s work and felt inspired. Actually I think it was Lou Tonkin’s work. I fell in love with the line work and wanted to explore some more.
I rushed in. I had some cheap tools already and carved away, fast and furious. The results were satisfying, simple.
I learned a lot from the Linocut friends group on FB an was blown away by the images people were showing. I saw the fine lines and details that people could create and I knew I needed to upgrade my tools.
The lure of multi colour prints was also really seductive. The simplicity of black and white is very attractive, but being able to layer colours was intriguing.
For an art form that a lot of people associate with their school days, it is actually surprisingly complex and mentally stimulating. You have to think in terms of positive and negative and remember that you are creating an image reverse.
In order to do a reduction print, you have to carve away at the same block in order to create different layers of colour. This means you need to print on a finite amount of paper, allowing for mistakes to be made.
You then carve away again and print again with another colour. This is challenging in terms of lining up the image correctly - registration - and also that there is no going back. Each mistake reduces the amount of prints in the edition.
This is what makes limited edition reduction prints more expensive. I managed to create 17 prints of my bird image and each one is quite different.
It was an exciting process. I kept things fairly simple so that I could practice lining things up and see how colours worked together. Things didn’t always work out. Some prints didn’t make it.
I like things that have imperfections, but they have to be the right sort of imperfections if you know what I mean. It’s part of the charm of lino printing. Slight differences that are revealed due to varying levels of ink and pressure. It is a very hands on process and an afternoon of printing certainly feels pretty active.
It’s a lot of fun. I still feel like I have a lot more to explore and experiment with and I think this affair might last!
I’d love it if you could come to my joint exhibition - you can see all my new work!
This full moon was called a worm moon by Native Americans because of the worms starting to emerge from the earth. Things are starting to grow again and colour is seeping back into the world.
It still feels like a fragile time though, Winter keeps making its presence felt and illnesses seem to be lingering for lots of people.
I don’t quite understand how the moons work with star signs, but this moon is in Libra, which I know a little bit about because that is my husband’s sign. Libra is a sign of balance and fairness. Hopefully this means that we will start to feel relief as the cold shifts to warmth and we feel our spirits restored by the sun.
I have actually bought myself a white candle for this full moon and I am going to try a little intention setting magic. I will burn some incense, write some hopes down and then try to dream them into being. As you do.
My big news is that I have been offered to share a shop in Penzance, which I am really excited about. It will be in Chapel St and I will be in there a couple of days a week too.
It’s a lovely light space with plenty of potential.
I will be starting after my holiday - so I will be there at the beginning of June - hopefully feeling all renewed and inspired by the world.
It’s such a wonderful opportunity and I am very grateful to the lovely Dasa for thinking of me.
Sadly this also means that I will be no longer at Sennen Market after April. It’s been a great experience and I have loved being part of such a vibrant community - I really will miss everyone.
Anyway, I hope that this full moon sees you happy and healthy and full of dreams.
Best wishes and magical kisses.
Addicted to noise
I like to do most things accompanied by some sort of noise. It’s usually a podcast, some music, or Netflix playing in the corner of my screen.
Silence seems too much sometimes, too open, too empty.
So I fill it with stuff. Things that entertain me, give me ideas, a sense of connection.
Listening to podcasts makes me feel as though I am part of something bigger than my daily experience. I love listening to contemplations on the nature of consciousness, art and marketing and strategies for better living.
The thing is now I feel full and empty at the same time.
Regulating my intake is tricky. It’s like wanting a cup of coffee. There is a certain amount of belligerent entitlement - I want it so I will have it. What harm is there?
The problem is though, that the body and the mind have a way of telling you when things are too much. I have the equivalent of coffee jitters for my mind.
It’s not easy to admit. I don’t like being addicted to anything. It reminds me of Carlos Castaneda and the advice of Don Juan to ‘stalk yourself’.
The idea of stalking yourself is to free yourself of habitual behaviour. If you were an animal drinking at the same watering hole every day, then your behaviour could lead you closer to your death as a predator could easily be watching and learning.
Therefore the secret to living a longer life is to stalk your own habits and shift them when you start feeling stuck.
This is how I feel now, but something is already starting to shift within me. I believe that change can be much easier when you don’t hold on too tightly and focus your attention on how you want to feel.
I want to hear the birds singing more. I want to clear spaces in my mind that allow me to breathe and find my own thoughts again. To not want to constantly fill each moment with more pictures, more comments, other people’s thoughts.
It’s time to feel free and allow myself to daydream.
“Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.”
I expected the lead up to my birthday full moon to be some great happy dance that would leave me fit to burst on the day itself.
Instead I got hit by a virus that made me feel drained and unable to move or think a great deal. I watched season 2 of Sense 8 which was a pretty great distraction, but the fog in my head is only just starting to clear.
So, now I’m trying to make sense of things and decipher the signs.
By ‘signs’ I mean those things that happen and are a little unexpected. They tend to happen in multiples which is the thing that tends to make you notice.
I have had two crystal clusters break which would normally upset me, but something about the breaks have revealed some really nice points and individual crystals. It is like there is new potential and possibilities, rather than destruction.
I have also faced a fair bit of rejection. I applied to Launchpad which would have gained me a free table at a major stationary show, to Not on the Highstreet and also to a folk lore exhibition.
It certainly was enough to make me go ‘oh!’, but it’s okay. I feel like I’m creating my own path and if conventional routes are not open then I’m creative enough to think about something else
I’ve also done lots of giveaways recently. I hadn’t really planned it, but I really enjoy doing them. It’s fun to think that you can make someone’s day in this way.
I feel like I am in recovery mode at the moment, but also trying to visualise what I really want. I think that I am really lucky to live the life that I do and I know that everything is shaped by how you perceive it.
Quite often I despair at the tiny size of my house, but today I found myself in gratitude that it is so manageable! It really is a great size - it doesn’t take long to clean and it’s not too big to heat.
With the snow we have had over the last couple of days I have felt very grateful to have a warm and cosy house, to have enough food and to be safe.
There are lots of things I need to do in the coming months and I feel like I am entering new territory. I have times when I can see and feel the future quite well, but right now I can’t feel it. It’s like it’s a blank page refusing to be written.
I can feel one thing though and that is our house swap to Vancouver Island. That feels big and wild and adventurous. I think it’s going to be really inspiring. I think it will change how I think and I’m really excited to connect with some different energy.
It’s just around the corner now - we go in May for three weeks. I almost want it to be further away so I have longer to anticipate it, but times moves on regardless.
This picture was inspired by listening to the songs from “My Little Pony”! Tabitha had found a compilation on YouTube and there was one which had the lyrics ‘fill my heart with sunshine’ which just resonated with me.
I’ve been battling with a virus for a couple of weeks and so focusing on a happy picture was just the thing to keep my spirits up.
I am now taking it easy and enjoying watching the snow from the warmth of my cottage. It’s quite exciting to see everything white and pretty and I love how it intensifies the light.
I’m not sure what I will be doing for my birthday now though. I had booked a reservation at The Coastguard for lunch, but I’m not sure if the roads will be safe enough to travel!
Anyway, I hope that your heart is full of sunshine! Spring really is around the corner!
This February is a black moon and this means that there is no full moon this month - something that happens only every 19 years or so.
There is something about a month of darkness that makes me feel as though we are being tested and made to face our fears. I certainly feel as though I have been challenged and this is why I am writing this blog.
It helps me to work through my thoughts and there is magic in actually getting them out of your head and in some coherent form. Hopefully it will all make some sense and be of some use to you too.
Every month as the moon wanes we get this energetic opportunity to let go of what is no longer working for us and I find that it is at this time we also come up against our old selves, old patterns of thinking and resistance to change.
There is something of a Groundhog Day about this and it can feel frustrating when you are faced with the same issues again and again.
Letting go sounds like such a passive and easy thing to do - yet in reality there is a lot of work involved.
I see all of this in terms of yoga - our bodies make a great analogy for things we experience mentally . Our physical bodies experience pain and resistance when we push ourselves and so we get fearful of pushing too far and too hard. Yoga is just fantastic as it is the union between mind and body and breath and so when we push at our edges mindfully we really have nothing to fear.
In yoga, all we have to do is to be present and to feel. Feel the edges of our bodies, feel the expansion of the breath, be aware of how we feel in that moment and have love and compassion for ourselves.
I think we should always be proud, simply for showing up on the mat.
I’m trying to push my art business forwards and have been setting up new patterns of behaviour. I’ve been phoning shops and emailing them about my work and the potential of them stocking my necklaces and cards.
Believe me that this does not come naturally to me. I have resistance here. Some of it is down to fears of not being good enough, general self doubt and some of it is lack of practice.
I am learning to tackle this by being more yogic in my approach. I am trying to show up for this practice on a more regular basis. I am learning that progress is made even when there are days when it doesn’t feel like it and that it’s okay when you fall out of practice. It just means you have re evaluate what you can do to make it work.
I am a strong believer in momentum and flow and so my enthusiasm and love of my work seriously is helping to push me along.
The moon is also a great teacher as we can see how everything really is just a phase. My moments of self doubt and inner reflection are fading away and being replaced by a sense of hope for this new moon. I’m extra excited that the waxing moon will build to a full moon on my birthday on March 2nd.
There is something about birthdays that always make me feel happy and special! It’s really important to celebrate when we can and so I really want to feel bursting with joy! I can feel it now!
Anyway, it’s interesting how simply writing this has led me from feeling a bit dark and tired to feeling really excited and happy. Hurrah!
I hope that you set some awesome intentions for this new moon.
Love and magic.