The summer holidays have ended and the transition into cooler, orangey times has begun.
It has been a good but challenging summer in some ways. I said goodbye to my characterful tortoiseshell cat much sooner than I expected and said hello to Luna, a springer/collie puppy a couple of days later.
Of course we had been expecting to get Luna since the beginning of the holidays and her presence has helped soak up our grief and distract us like nothing else. I am looking forwards to her injections being finished and then I can start taking her out for walks.
It’s going to be wonderful to be outside in nature more. My Ridgeback died earlier this year and I have found that I have stayed indoors more and more, not having the excuse to get out for walk. Having a dog just seems to have more purpose.
This time of year reminds me of going back to college, excited and ready to learn, collecting magic mushrooms in the fields in Worcester, weaving on a loom and time well spent with friends.
I’ve always loved learning and experimentation. Nowadays my art ticks these boxes for me, but my mind sometimes wanders back to my more reckless youth... My mind also wanders into my future and wonders what it will find there.
For the past few years I have had an incredibly creative time and have followed every creative itch. I’ve published a book, learned how to screenprint, lino print and create a myriad of products that now compete with Tabitha’s toys on the shelves in her bedroom.
Recently I have felt the need for more reflection. I have been so busy creating that I have more stuff than I really know what to do with. I think it’s time to slow down and take longer to finish things instead of racing to the finish line. I am having fun in the Endless Spiral though - it is a lot of fun having a space to create things for and I am rethinking who I am as a brand. When you see your work out in the wild you realise how things need to work together.
I keep listening to podcasts to help inspire me and give me guidance through a complicated creative path. At the moment I am listening to lots of Cathy Heller ‘Don’t Keep Your Day Job’. She interviews lots of creative people and her conversations really help to shift your perspective and give you new hope.
The internet is pretty awesome in that it has opened up hundreds of new ways to interact, be inspired, sell and show your work, but it is a noisy space with lots of people shouting.
I’ve never been very good at shouting, but here I am anyway, waving in my part of the world and hoping that you will understand a little more about me. Everyone needs connection and the thought of sharing my work and my life as authentically as possible is something that gives me this sense of connection
If you are reading this, then I think you are amazing! Thank you for caring and being curious enough to want to know what’s going on in my head. It means a lot to me.
Waves, flow and badassery
I had a great surf today and while I was out there contemplating life and stuff, I had a few realisations. Surfing is really great for that. You are in a different environment and able to let your mind wander while you are in an element that represents every living particle of existence - waves. It is no wonder that you can have some ‘aha’ moments.
Now, this is a bit of a tangent, but it will link up, I promise. Whilst waiting for the plane back from Vancouver to Gatwick I needed a book to read. After a quick look this one ‘how to make money like a badass’ by Jen Sincero jumped out at me. I am very hesitant with parting with cash, but after putting it down for the third time I decided I really did want it.
So how does this link with surfing? Well the book taught me that to be a badass at making money, I had to get really uncomfortable. I needed to start doing things differently to make the shifts that I needed to create more abundance in my life. (The book is complete therapy btw and I would recommend it to everyone!)
I like to take this sort of information and apply to different things and I thought if I tried to do things differently in the water then I might get more confident doing them out of the water.
When it comes to surfing I’m a little out of the loop. Being busy with my art and having a five year old, keeps me out of the water and so when I do get in I feel a little awed and out of practice. Anyway, I have been trying to surf a little further ‘in’ than usual which means I’m a little out of my comfort zone.
The temptation to surf out to a more usual position is quite strong, but I tell myself that this is good for me and I need to practice feeling uncomfortable. It’s been working pretty well.
Today I really felt in flow. I felt the waves were totally on my side and we were rocking this thing together. I was having this conversation in my head with Jessica Lively (The Lively Show and the founder of Consciousness school) about how she should start surfing because it’s such a great teacher.
I was thinking about law of attraction and the way that things don’t need to be so full of effort. Instead it’s all about getting in alignment and then acting. I really felt that today. You can paddle like crazy for a wave, but if you are not in the right position then all sorts of crazy crap can happen.
(I’ve had a board hit me in the jaw before, which made me unable to open my mouth more than the size of a grape - all because I wasn’t really paying attention to my alignment)
There were lots of people in the water today and I thought that even though not everyone was catching waves, they were certainly in the right place and that if they stuck with it for long enough then they would learn what they needed to learn. They were in the right arena and that was a good step.
So I was pretty happy after a lot of gorgeous sunny waves that were oh so blue that they were enough to make you turn into a mermaid. And then I got home and opened my email to see a rejection from an agency that I’d really like to work with and my stoke took a nose dive into feeling unworthy and not good enough ness.
It’s never easy taking knocks, but my good vibes didn’t not want to go and so I thought I better reframe my thoughts to keep me on track. So, this is where I am now. I was in the arena by applying to the agency (and this is good - you don’t get any waves if you are not in the ocean) maybe the wave was to big and I’m just not ready for it yet, in which case I just have to keep on improving and trying again.
I’m putting the work in and I’m also tackling the things that make me uncomfortable which I believe will lead to some breakthroughs eventually. In the meantime, nothing really has actually changed. My life is pretty awesome. I love what I do and I have a fabulous husband and daughter (and soon to have a puppy.)
Yep, sure that rejection stung, but I’ve been knocked down by some pretty big waves before and it hasn’t stopped me surfing yet.
The temptation to draw on the shop windows where I have my work was pretty big and after browsing Pinterest for a mere 3 minutes I was pretty sold on the idea. I got the thumbs up from Dasa, the owner of the Endless Spiral and that started a quick blast of research into what I could use on glass. It was pretty important that it would come off again and that it could be updated to suit the seasons (and my scratch whatever art itch I might have)
It turned out that most chalk pens are totally compatible with glass, which was beyond exciting as I already had some chalk pens. My fantasy was about to come real a lot quicker than I had anticipated. Seeing as I had the pens in my grasp already I knew that I would have to get started the next day and so I did!
I was actually ridiculously excited about this. The only preperation i did before hand was to draw the shape of the hare which I then stuck to the inside of the window as a template and then I just freestyled. I had some images and shapes in my head and I knew that I wanted to create something that flowed from one window to the next.
It was interesting to work on something that actually used the reach of my body. I’m used to working pretty small on my iPad and so working on a window meant I had to big arking moves and stand up on tip toes, all the while trying to maintain a steady line.
The window is actually under cover and so it was fine to draw on the outside, however if the window was outside and exposed to rain, etc, I would have had to draw on the inside.
The whole thing took me three hours and was a blast. I’m already thinking about what I can do next......
I am really enjoying my time in The Endless Spiral. It’s a quirky shop in the Chapel St, Arcade, Penzance, selling fifties dresses, vintage steampunk jackets and of course my art work!
I am there on Wednesdays and Thursdays and since I have started the sun has been shining and it feels like summer has officially started.
I feel pretty lucky as I get to listen to some pretty awesome music on Mixcloud all day. One of my favourite people to follow is Jazzcat who reposts consistently good mixes. It’s so great not having to think about what to play. I can also draw on my iPad or work on some jewellery... It’s really great to have some time and space to work on the business side of things too.
One of my favourite things about being here is getting to meet some lovely people. Everyone who works in the arcade is really helpful and friendly - not to mention the customers who are totally awesome!
There have been some people that have totally made my day by being so enthusiastic about my work and if that was you then THANK YOU. You are amazing for supporting an independent retailer and artist.
I’m really loving having a space that I can play with. It’s exciting looking on Pinterest for retail display ideas and every time I go in I’m trying to think how I can do things better.
It’s fun watching people walk up and down Chapel Street too - it’s such a beautiful part of town and so full of quirky, original shops. Penzance is a really beautiful town and I love the energy of the place. It feels good to be part of it.
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.