2017 – the year of the Cards

 

So, 2017 is a ‘taking stock’ year for me.  I have been looking at my accounts – one way of measuring what one has done – and find I took nearly as much money from my cards as I did from my pictures, carvings etc which is astonishing.  I do very much enjoy making cards and try to keep them all as original works rather than reproductions so that, at £2.50, they represent decent value for money.  So here are just a few examples:

Linocuts: I use linocut a lot for cards as it is a relatively quick way to reproduce an image, depending on how complicated you make it and how many colours you try and introduce.  Birds seem to work rather nicely so here are a couple  of examples:

Jenny Wren Card

Jenny Wren Card

Blue TIt Card

Blue Tit Card

I mount them on previously marbled paper which sets them off well I think.  Sometimes I use old music paper as the mount.

 

 

Potato prints: these I use to make a comedy range of ‘birds with attitude’ with a real feather :

Guinea Fowl Card

Guinea Fowl Card

BIrd with Attitude Card

Bird with Attitude Card

They are so much fun to make as they come out with a variety of expressions – but
mostly they seem to be quite grumpy which probably says a lot!  The Guinea Fowl on the right is part of a new range that I am designing for a wonderful garden in Clanfield called Friars Court (www.friarscourt.com).  They are opening their beautiful gardens to the public within the National Garden Scheme – the yellow book and wanted cards which would suit their venue.  Lovely commission! 

Complacent Cat Card

Complacent Cat Card

Playful Cat Card

Playful Cat Card

Collage: finally I was messing about the other day and put together these cat cards made from material – now these are time consuming!  But  I can cut them out in front of the TV.  I think I was rather missing Sid, my cat who was run over just after Christmas….although he was grey, not blue with white spots.

And finally I have agreed to take on Christmas and Greetings cards for Wells For India again after a break of a few years, but cant show you those yet as I haven’t started them. 

It seems as if cards are chosing me at the moment which actually suits me very well.  I know they are a bit ‘throw away’, but they reach to unexpected places and can give great joy – what’s not to like?

Linoprint Workshops

Niamh's-linoprint workshop

Niamh’s linoprint ‘there was a crooked man’

I was first asked to do a Linoprint Workshop by a local Art Society early last year and, much to my surprise, I really enjoyed it.  Teaching a small group of adults who have chosen to come is an altogether different experience!  And also, it was quite affirming as I realised how much knowledge and expertise I have acquired, just from my own practice.  Most people  have not done linoprints since they were at school and they are really amazed at how sophisticated a technique it can be, whilst remaining accessible and manageable ‘on the kitchen table’ as it were.  Here are a few examples of some work done by my students.

The image on the right above was made by Niamh – simple design and really successful.  We tried it in a couple of colours but decided one colour was best.  I love it – it looks like an illustration from a fairytale.

Grace-linoprint workshop

Grace’s linoprint, ‘oranges and lemons’

The next one on the left is by Grace – completely different style but equally successful.  It would make a great card and, again, she tried a few different colour ways and felt this was her favourite.

christmas-card linoprint workshop

Karen linoprint ‘Snowy view’

 

 

Below right is a Christmas card made by Karen – a slightly more complicated design requiring two lino blocks, one on top of the other, but looks fab.  I feel like a proud mother!

 

 

Throughout the year I ended up doing quite a number of workshops for different organisations – usually no more than 6 people.  It is so exciting to see the anticipation as they peel back the paper to see what is revealed.  Chocolate biscuits seem to be essential to creativity – well I always knew that really! – and some excellent work was produced.  Now I am fully kitted up with the necessary sets of tools, rollers etc and I look forward to working with more students in 2016.  What larks!

A drawing a day – New Year resolution!

potato print drawing

Potato print with feathers

So…I decided in 2016 I would start by drawing every day…good discipline, improve my observational skills, blah blah, and I am proud to tell you that so far I haven’t done a single drawing!!  So already I am carrying guilt about failing so abysmally!  Why do we do it to ourselves?

potato print drawing

potato print with feathers – he looks so cross!

Apart from that I have a good feeling about 2016.  I am resolved to do some new stuff, broaden my horizons, take some risks.

Apart from not-drawing I have been fiddling around with making cards – it is fun and lightweight and provides me with bread and butter to finance the more serious stuff.  Looking in my accounts for last year I find that I sold as much in cards as I did in paintings and the cards have minimal outlay compared to framing and materials costs.  A bit of an eyeopener!  So I have just put together a new range of potato prints of birds which I think are quite cute – I have certainly had fun making them so now I must take them round a few outlets and see if I can widen my reach.

Last year I also started teaching and found, much to my surprise, that I really enjoyed it.  I gave lino printing workshops for small groups, and on an individual basis and people produced some great work.  I will get together a specific post and put some pics of their work once I have checked my students are happy for me to do so.

Meantime, Happy New Year to all.  Let’s make it a good one!

 

Getting Ready for Oxford Artweeks

I can hardly believe it is that time of year again.  Emma Ablitt and I have exhibited together with Oxford Artweeks for the last five or six years so we reckon we have it down to a fine art (no pun intended!).  However, it still always takes me by surprise how much of one’s time is taken up with the peripheral things that aren’t actually making images – so, framing, mounting, signage, personal statements…the list goes on.  I have just lately been having a go at carving in soapstone.  I am really enjoying it but it brings its own set of problems – how will I display them and do they need attaching to their base in some way?  Decisions decisions!   Anyway, I have collected the last few of my pictures from the framers, added the finishing touches to my paperwork and then I should be pretty much ready for the big hang.  Artweeks are a great opportunity to show friends and followers what you have been doing through the year so I try to put a selection of all the different things I have attempted over the months.

Ground-feederThis year I have a handful of carvings, quite a few linocuts and monoprints, and some pastels.  I am generally reasonably pleased with the selection so hope people like them.  It is incredibly useful to get feedback from ones audience and if people are enthusiastic about one direction then I will often go back to the studio and pursue it further.

Setting up starts next Wednesday and we continue the exhibition from 15-25 May – please do drop by and say hello if you are in the area.  Details on the Oxford Artweeks website.

Back at work!

monoprint with drawing

monoprint with drawing

More-autumn-fruits

Monoprint with drawing

Finally I have got back into my studio and started printing – feels great to be back.  So I thought I would update with a couple of examples that I am working on.  I have been looking at Ben Nicholson among others and really enjoy the way he uses line, and different viewpoints so have been experimenting with that.  They are, I suppose, monotypes rather than monoprints but that is quite a technical difference.  We have quite a crop of apples, and gourds from the garden this year and autumn feels like an appropriate time for these sorts of colours.

What else has been going on?  Well, if you subscribe to ‘Artists and Illustrators’ then check me out as I wrote the ‘star letter’ which resulted in a lovely voucher for £50 for art materials.  Decided that maybe I should abandon art as a career and just write letters to magazines!  I have nothing booked up in the way of exhibitions till next May when we do Artweeks but that always requires a lot of new work, and, in addition, publicity photos need to be in before Christmas!  I have another biggish exhibition in October 2015 in New Brewery Arts Cirencester, which feels like a long way off but, again, will require all new work, so I really do need to start getting serious.