The Blessing of my Sketchbook


Today was my art day and I woke up full of enthusiasm for it. I was expecting a delivery from an art mail order company of some new paint and a new watercolour block on which to begin some new landscape works that I have recently been thinking about.

The delivery never arrived…so I half heartedly dug out a small canvas and decided to set to work on a piece for the kitchen…I pondered, chewing on the end of my brush…cupcakes? something French themed perhaps…? Yes, that was it, some wording, like ‘Patisserie Vianne’…something like that (can you tell Im a fan of Chocolat?). So I set to work, and ten minutes later I scrubbed the lot off and started again. This time I thought, maybe something more country style…birds, hearts…a bit whimsical and vintage…I wandered off to get some lunch all the while knowing in my heart that although this was my art day, it wasn’t physically going to be anything of the kind.

After my sandwich I went back to the canvas, I drew an outline of a bird, painted it blue…scribbled into it with crayon and stood back. I hated it.

If you are an arty or creative type, Im guessing you will empathise with me and completely understand that some days, even with the best intention in the world, its just no good…its better to put the paint away and let it be.

For me, this causes a frisson of mild annoyance, in that I only get one daughter free day a week to work on my art, and as the fates would have it, today was a write off from the start. There are a couple of reasons for this. Number one, my fiance is working away all week, as he did last week so there is an element of lonliness creeping in (which is hard to shake off when one is also tired). Secondly, the plans we had made to visit family in Wales are now scrapped thanks to the disorganisation of the company my fiance is freelancing for, so I feel a little disappointed today as well that exciting plans and a break away have been cancelled.

But life does this, some people handle it better than others, for some these kind of situations enhance the creative work they are doing – its easier to lose yourself in a piece of art than to acknowledge that all around you (albeit temporarily) is on a downward slide.

I decided to get out my sketch journal, to remind myself that not every time is like this, that I am still a good artist even though today I didnt meet my own expectations. There will be other days to paint and work on my next series of work, in the mean time I can sit wrapped in my own company, browsing my old journal with a hot mug of coffee and a plate of lebkuchen by my side, Bing Crosby is on the stereo, the sun is shining and my head is filled with sudden ideas and the promise of future successful art days.

I allow myself to squander time today, I allow myself to feel a little lonely…its ok, Im meeting with friends tonight, and right now its easier to ‘play’ at being an artist in the comfort of my weary mind. There is only one person writing the rules here, and its me…no need to impose ‘should haves’ and ‘could haves’ on myself which would only serve to make me feel worse. Best to throw up my hands and admit defeat today – it feels wonderful, a relief.

Theres always next time…

Commission Card – ‘Candlelight’
Im still recovering from a fast paced weekend, my sister came to stay for a couple of days and we had a good night out at a lovely restaurant with two friends on Saturday night. My head didnt hit the pillow until 1am and the following morning, other members of my family descended for a huge english breakfast before Jo departed for Suffolk and we set off for a big walk around a lake!
So Im writing this yawning (still) but I was happy to have some time this morning to work on a commission card. The theme was simply ‘candlelight’ and I wanted to create a shabby chic style feel to the art work by finishing the design with tiny stitch work achieved with a fine line pen.

I feel that Im struggling for time at the moment, to work on my art. There seems to be so much to do, to get the kitchen finally completed, helping my partner set up his new business venture, and with Christmas creeping swiftly upon us I find myself writing lists to keep on top of everything!! However, Im looking forward to meeting up with members of a new group I belong to – hopefully next week sometime, so that at least should be an inspiring and arty/crafty themed evening! Check us out here, there is some awesome talent in our city and some of it is right here!

Sheffield Craft Candy

I have been thinking quite hard lately about how and where I want to take my art…Im in two minds at the moment whether to concentrate on random paintings as the ideas flow, or settle into a series of work, coastal themed…Im drawn to several ideas, but at the moment they are just wisps of things Im thinking about, nothing feels too solid at the moment and Im happy to see what transpires.

Im hoping that once things settle down, I’ll be able to be a part time artist again, instead of a once-every-now-and-then type artist. Its important for me to keep connected to my creative side, it helps me maintain a balance when all around me seems to be verging on mayhem or mess!

Im taking myself to the bookshop this afternoon, for some well deserved solitude and then I might grab a nice coffee before heading back to reality – cooking…toddler bathtime…laundry…

But its all good.

Sending you a pocket of tranquility

J x

Lampwork Love

‘Emerald Isle’ Lampwork bracelet

Today is a very typical autumnal day in these parts. Patches of blue sky are suddenley overshadowed by deep grey scudding clouds, wild winds send fallen leaves flamenco dancing into the air and sudden squalls soak you within minutes before passing over.

I came home from the little ones toddler group this morning soaked through and more than ready for a little dose of solitude and calm. I suddenely remembered a little something I had hidden away a few weeks ago as I hung our wet coats by the radiator to dry and decided I would dig this little packet out…it seemed unkind for something so pretty to be hidden away in a small envelope at the back of my craft drawers!

I was lucky enough to stumble upon these handmade (and exceptionally pretty and unique) lampwork beads some time ago, but with time being of the essence of late, I had tucked them safely into my drawer and forgotten about them in the midst of plastering, tiling and general mass upheaval of our current decorating project.

I used sterling silver findings, swarovski crystals in the palest green and softest lemon yellow as well as some glass beads that have the most beautiful foil inlay to set off the distinctive lampwork beads. Im wondering if it would make a nice present for somebody special!

This time of year, my attention is still focused on creating hand made Christmas cards, Im working on a commission card right now for a wonderful lady in America who has always been a huge supporter of my work (thanks Lisa!). The theme is Candle Light and I am using a country/shabby chic style to create this card for her with a special message inside. Its always nice to be able to create something like this for someone, working with their ideas or sometimes just one word to play with – its a reward in itself if the finished piece is just what they were hoping for.

There are more paintings on the horizon too, once the kitchen is finished, Im hoping I can reclaim my Art Day with a passion and get down to some serious work again.

Until then…sending you a warm cashmere shawl to keep you cosy this cold November day!

J x

Shabby Chic Inspiration

Last week we returned from a trip to Suffolk to find a bit of a leak under the kitchen floor (it was pouring out through a crack and down the cellar stairs!)so we promptly departed to my folks’ house while the kitchen floor was excavated and new pipes laid….!

Due to the fact that there was no internet there, I spent many an afternoon when the little one took her nap, browsing through various magazines and drawing furiously in my journal, mostly ideas for new Christmas cards of which you can see the results of one here!

Id been rather taken with this faded aqua green handmade paper that I found in our art store recently and felt it would enhance the shabby chic style lettering I wanted to use for this design. I was very inspired by some of the nordic Christmas style decorations I saw in some of the magazines, and liked the simplicity of the ginghams and spotted fabrics that were used. I’ve attempted to recreate the effect of fabric here using watercolours and watercolour crayon, edging each letter when dry with tiny stitch marks made with a very fine liner pen.

The finished card in all its Christmassy glory!

I recently decided that I would like to make a contribution from each card that I sell, to the Downs Syndrome Association. Im very lucky to be blessed as being Aunty to a very special little boy, Oliver, who was born with downs, and this charity has been a huge support to my sister (Ollies’ Mum) and surrounding family. Ollie is pure sunshine, the bonniest little chap and you can’t help be be bowled over by this happy little person when you meet him!

This card is for sale at my Etsy shop right now, for £4.50 (includes P&P).

Sending sparklers and catherine wheels to light up your November the 5th!

Julia x