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New Year, New Art Experiments

watercolour art experiments

It’s 2024 and I’m planning to spend a lot of time on new art experiments this year. I’ve been playing around with watercolour painting for a couple of months just for fun and, although I’m not terribly good at it yet, I’m trying all sorts of things and having a ball with it!

Why watercolours?

When I started designing greeting cards they all started as little doodles in a sketch book, which I scanned in, cleaned up and turned into card designs. Even my early custom cartoon portraits were done this way, which was a bit of a challenge when changes were needed…

Then a few years ago I treated myself to an iPad and started using a drawing app called Procreate and my Apple Pencil to draw digitally instead (which made it all soooooo much easier). Last year I discovered some ‘watercolour brushes’ in Procreate and started experimenting with those and this is what led to me overhauling a lot of my early designs.

This in turn eventually got me curious about actual watercolour painting again. I had dabbled a little with watercolours previously but never really took it seriously or made the effort to get any good at it.

My art experiments

Painting with watercolours is so much fun, but I’ve found it really unpredictable and have had some truly terrible results 🀣

I went to Norway in November, which is just the most beautiful place ever, and tried painting some of the gorgeous seascapes and sunsets I photographed but I am really struggling…

I seem to be ok when I’m following a specific tutorial, like the ones in Emma Block’s The Joy of Watercolour. These are a couple of the projects I’ve done from her book on the right.

The problems start when I try to paint on my own without any guidance…

I can draw an ink outline and ‘colour in’ with watercolour, like in the drawing on the left which I did for friends of their cottage, but whenever I try and use watercolours on their own they end up either looking messy or a bit wishy washy. Flowers are easier but still a bit hit and miss and I haven’t yet created anything I’m really proud of (or brave enough to show you hereπŸ˜†).

That said, I’m enjoying playing around so much anyway that I’m carrying on regardless. I really love the time I spend painting no matter what the end results. I guess an insightful kind of person might say it’s good for me to just enjoy the process regardless of the outcome 😁

Once I get the hang of it and produce a few paintings I’m proud of, I’ll start sharing some of my own watercolour art experiments here on the blog, but for now I’m just going to keep practising and having fun!

I hope you’re also planning to do plenty of something you enjoy this year – let me know on Instagram what you’ll be up to if you are…

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Christmas Card Illustrations

4 different Christmas card illustrations on a white wood background

This summer I’ve been working on new Christmas card illustrations, ready for the festive season. I know it seems a bit early, and honestly it was a bit weird working on wintery scenes while sweltering in the heat. That’s how the greeting card industry works though – retailers expect to see your new designs anywhere from 3 months up to a year in advance, so they can make their buying decisions nice and early. If anything I was running a bit late…

Now that it’s October, however, I feel like I can start to share my new Christmas and holiday illustrations with you without freaking you out too much 😁

If you’ve been following my blog (or Instagram feed) for a while you’ll know that I did a design refresh on a lot of my greeting cards earlier this year, as my illustration style has changed quite a bit since I first started. So it was time to do the same for my Christmas and holiday collection. I’ve redone the illustrations for some of my most popular designs as well as come up with some brand new ones and I really hope you like them. I did enjoy doing them despite the weirdness of the timing!

Here’s a selection of some of the Christmas card illustrations I’ve been working on…

Christmas Card Illustrations

I’ve also redone the illustrations for my Diwali and Hanukkah cards…

Diwali Illustration

diwali diyas illustration

Hanukkah Illustration

Hanukkah menorah illustration

If you’re the type of person who likes to get organised early for Christmas, then you can shop my new Holiday Cards range already, featuring these illustrations and more. Every card design is available in A6 or A5 size, and if you have a favourite you can buy them in multiples of 5, 10, 25 or 50 to save money. Or take advantage of my bundle deals if you want to stock up on a few different designs at the same time.

I’ll also share a few more theme specific card designs here on my blog over the next while, so if it’s a bit too early to be buying then please come back to see what else is available in a few weeks…

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Cosmos Flower Illustrations

cosmos flower illustrations

I’ve always loved drawing flowers and the very first cards I designed featured some of my flower doodles. My latest obsession flower-wise is Cosmos (cosmos bipinnatus for geeky folks) so I decided I’d share some of my cosmos flower illustrations with you here.

There are so many things to love about cosmos flowers. Their simplicity, their symmetry and the wide variety of colours they come in. I remember seeing them on the sides of the road as a kid in South Africa and they always just make my heart happy whenever I see them here in the UK.

My other half’s mum gifted me a few from her garden last year and this year I have at least four or five cosmos plants in pots on the terrace of my little flat.

First attempts

I did a quick cosmos flower doodle a few weeks back when I first started noticing cosmos flowering…

cosmos flower illustrations

I even turned them into a sheet of stickers which I used on my last blog post about decorating envelopes!

cosmos sticker sheet

More cosmos illustrations

Then this week I’ve been spending a bit more time on some cosmos flower illustrations which I think I might use in my next greeting card collection.

Here’s a single cosmos flower illustration…

single cosmos flower illustration

And here’s a row of cosmos flowers…

illustration of row of cosmos flowers

I think they’re especially lovely because they’re wild flowers. I really love to see flowers like cosmos, poppies, daisies and buttercups when I’m out walking or on one of my runs. Check out these wildflower drawings I did early on). It’s like a little present when you see a gorgeous flower on the side of the path. Or a field of tiny flowers catching the sunshine out of the blue πŸ˜ƒ

Expect to see lots more flower illustrations here and on Instagram. And for them to be a big feature in my future greeting card collections!

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Finding Creative Inspiration

Finding Creative Inspiration

I have to admit that I’ve really been struggling with finding creative inspiration the last few months. I’ve had a few hard knocks this year and they really sapped my energy physically, mentally and emotionally. I just couldn’t seem to get excited about drawing, or anything much at all. And if you follow me on social media you might have wondered if I’d given up altogether. Social media is hard work for me even when things are going well so I pretty much disappeared for weeks on end πŸ˜†

I won’t bore you with the details of everything that’s gone wrong so far in 2022. I’m sure you’ve got enough of your own problems and hassles to deal with! But here’s what I’ve been doing to try and get my mojo back creatively…

Taking a break

I have a part time day job which covers the majority of my bills so am lucky that I can take it easier in my greeting card business occasionally without getting in a financial panic. The guilt makes it hard to do though! There were some days when all I was accomplishing was processing orders and I felt really ashamed of myself. Here I was in the very fortunate position of being able to do something I love and I was completely neglecting it…

I did step back regardless though. Between doing my day job and dealing with everything that was going wrong, I honestly didn’t have the energy not to. And at least feeling guilty and ashamed could be done on the sofa without any effort on my part!

I went for plenty of walks, cried a lot, whinged a lot and generally felt sorry for myself for ages. I still do sometimes! Hopefully it’s better than being in denial and then having a breakdown later on when everyone else has forgotten about it all…

I heard something on a Daily Pep podcast the other day about how when life gives you lemons you really don’t need to feel bad if you don’t want to making f**cking lemonade 🀣 – and I’ve totally taken this to heart!

Taking the time to grieve and opt out of life for a bit has helped. I can now see what I hope is the light at the end of the tunnel. And not the headlamps of another metaphorical lorry about to smack into me… 😁 I’m starting to look forward to stuff again so hopefully taking a break was the right thing to do.

Finding creative inspiration by experimenting

Another thing I’ve been doing to help me with finding creative inspiration again is experimenting. Even before all this happened I’d gotten in a bit of a rut in terms of my drawing style and card designs. I decided to try a few things that were completely different, with no pressure to fit in with the rest of my brand.

Here are a couple of the drawings I did…

It really helped. I found myself losing track of time while drawing again, which used to always be the case but hadn’t happened for a while. I’m going to keep doing this – making time for drawing whatever I feel like however I feel like!

Remembering the good stuff

Last week my favourite squeeze and I went camping together and it was fantastic. Getting back to the simple stuff like barbecuing our food, trying to stay warm in front of an open fire and going on long walks in beautiful surroundings reminded me of the things that make me happy and that there is still loads of stuff I enjoy and look forward to. I got back exhausted but feeling more inspired than I have in ages.

I’ve realised that to stay inspired I need to keep focusing on the stuff I love. Drawing what I think I should be drawing just leads to boredom or burnout. Drawing things I enjoy drawing and experimenting with new styles and techniques is how I can go about finding creative inspiration – and stay motivated.

If you enjoyed this blog, would you like to stay in touch? I’d love us to get to know each other better 😊 so please sign up for my newsletter. I’ll let you know when I post new blogs and when I release new collections, as well as giving you a peek behind the scenes. You’ll also get a discount voucher and become a VIP who gets special offers on a regular basis. And you can reply to any of my emails with questions or comments – I always reply!

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Custom Postcards

Custom postcards for Tin Can Camping

Earlier this year I designed some custom postcards in one of my favourite projects so far. I drew custom illustrations to be used on the postcards for an amazing glamping site called Tin Can Camping. They have four Airstream and vintage caravans to stay in in a remote area in South Norfolk and it’s really worth checking out. We’ve now stayed there twice so I was incredibly excited when they asked me to do custom illustrations for a series of postcards featuring their gorgeous trailers.

It turned out that the owners really liked a thank you card I’d made for them the first time we stayed, so decided to ask me to work on the postcard designs for them. Here’s a screenshot of when they posted it on their Instagram account

The four caravans on the custom postcards

These are the four postcard designs I created together with photos of the original caravans.

This little one is the Bubble and is the first Airstream we stayed in – the same one pictured in the thank you card. It couldn’t be any cuter, could it?! That visit it rained a LOT (like torrentially) but we still had a great time snuggled up inside this cosy little trailer.

The next time we stayed we chose the Caravanner. The weather was kinder to us this time so we got to take advantage of the BBQ and fire pit more often. It was also fabulous!

This is the largest Airstream on the site, the Sovereign. I can’t even imagine towing something this size around, but I suppose roads are a bit roomier in the US!

And this is the Jewel, an aptly named vintage caravan that really stands out amongst the silver Airstreams.

Which one is your favourite? I honestly can’t decide…

It was such a fun project to work on. I love drawing, I love camping and I love these Airstreams. So I felt really lucky to have the opportunity to bring them all together to create these postcards.

If you have a custom illustration project you’d like me to work on, please get in touch πŸ˜ƒ