Another Blanket is Born (and some other bits and bobs)

My dear blogging friends!
I was overwhelmed to receive so many wonderful comments from you about my new painting and the Big Blanket. I can’t tell you how much they made me smile, and how much it meant that you all took time to write them. Thank you very much, from the bottom of my little skippy-happy heart.

Needless to say, on the crochet front there was a slight anti climax when it finally dawned on me that the BB was well and truly finished. What’s a girl to do??? Oh its obvious isn’t it!! Start another one of course!! And thats a wee corner of it above there – I have to tell you that my inspiration for the colours in this one came from some photographs of Seville I’d been looking at. The whitewashed walls of the old houses were drenched with beautiful and vibrantly coloured flowers, and the juicy orange trees in the little squares quite inspired me! So upon realising I did not have any white wool, it was hurriedly purchased on Saturday in John Lewis (who have a splendid selection of Rowan at the moment, and 15p a ball cheaper than most of my favourite internet wool shops!! Hurrah!!)

New Blanket began in earnest on Saturday afternoon. The little squares are quite fast to do and I can easily whip a couple up in 10-15 mins while the pasta is bubbling on the hob! (I think this counts as obsessive crocheting doesn’t it?)

Now today was meant to be an art day – but I had one of those rare and untimely moments of utter creative blockage. I sat and stared at the paper, meddled with some inferior sketches and scrunched it all up and threw it (mindfully) into the recycling bin.

The best thing to do when creative flow stops flowing in one particular medium, is to mess about with an entirely different one. I had a yen to crochet some more little squares, but I had to be strict with myself about that – today was Art Day, a whole day with Little Person at Nanny Mum’s and so therefore it was a day designated for other things.

So I thought Id have a go at the Valentine’s cards that the gallery had asked me to supply.
And I remembered that somewhere online, a month or so ago I had seen the most inspiring idea of sewing writing paper. Some of you may have seen this, and its brilliant – I can only apologise for not having a link to the original piece I saw but I thought Id try my own hand at it and embroider some little love notes to turn into cards…and here are a couple to show you!


…and this one here is a bit different, playing about with a heart theme…
I had tremendous fun making them and as I sewed, I had a couple of ideas for the character work I need to do for the Agency…Oh yes. I had a terrific email on friday, and it said that another couple of publishing houses had been pleased with my work and taken copies…and…asked to see character studies and line drawings! The character studies involve drawing the same little person/animal over and over in different positions, with various facial expressions. It is to show that I can create characters that would be recognisable throughout a whole book no matter what they were doing.

So that’s what Im doing next. And line drawings, which as most of you will know are black ink on white paper usually.

Busy busy…as usual… 😀

And so, to relax this weekend, despite the gloom and the cold we took off to Old Moor RSPB reserve and had a good walk around. Little Person was delighted to go into the bird hides and peep out through the windows. She didn’t quite understand the concept of being quiet so as not to disturb the birds, and at one point announced quite loudly (and much to our amusement) that ‘it would be quite nice to have a cup of tea in here!’

At which point we had to get out of the hide as we were laughing so much.

I was quite taken with the colours though. Faded browns and greys were predominant with the odd russet bull behind the reed beds giving the scene a warm burst of colour against the milky blue/grey sky.

As late afternoon approached, a large flock of geese came into land. We could hear them calling in that lonely distant way that they seem to have, darkly sillhouetted against the lilac clouds.

Before I go…its Award Time.

I was given this sunshine award by Louise Broomhead
and the rules state I have to pass it on to another 12 bloggers who are inspiring and delightful!
Well here I encounter a humungous problem. You are all inspiring and delightful. I can’t bear to pick just 12 of you – its far too difficult. And so Im about to break blogging protocol and be very naughty.

I think you’re all marvellous, you all bring me huge scoops of joy and inspiration and so I would like to invite each of you to take the award to your blog if it cheers you and proudly display it there – and if you wish to send it to 12 bloggers yourself then that would be lovely too!

Oh dear, am I terribly bad for doing that?

I hope the bloggers who do take this seriously will forgive me for being a little lame, but I honestly would struggle awfully trying to choose 12 favourites, when I have at least 120 favourites if not more…! (but then again, sharing sunshine with everyone seems to me to be a rather pleasant thing to do, especially in dreary January!)

Well, this was rather a long post! If you’ve got this far, well done!! Thank you for reading my ramblings today, and Im now off for a well deserved cup of hot tea and to sit down and do some character sketches.

See you all soon!!
Love Julia x x x

A New Painting and the Big Blanket

Hello there!
Well, its been a week of completing things! Just this morning I put the final strokes on this latest painting which Ive titled ‘Evening Stroll’ and which is an acrylic painting on a deep edge box canvas (20x20cm).

Im very pleased with it, I love how the fox is skulking through the autumn flowers in the early evening light, and the unsuspecting hens are absent mindedly wandering about in the garden…!

Ive noticed that I like painting scenes that capture that lovely time of the evening, just between the fall of the night and the ebb of the day – crepuscular is the name for it! I like new moons, water, skies and working with ochres and blues on my palette. I find Im increasingly drawn towards nature, birds and animals as subject matter. I still enjoy character work very much though, and I think my next piece may feature some human beings…yes, already there is an idea on the cards for my next painting which Im rather excited about but which may have to be put on hold as Ive been asked by the gallery that stocks my cards (and some of my prints) to send some Valentine’s themed cards asap, so Im going to be busy making those over the weekend.

But…without further ado (insert a tremedous drumroll here folks) – the Big Blanket is finished.

Yes, and oh how delighted I am with it. My first foray into crocheted blankets and already Im itching to start another one! Do you want to see it? Of course you do!! 😀

Here we go….

Ta-Dahhh!!!

Just look at all that cheerful hooky gorgeousness!! All ready to snuggle into!!

Its about 1.5 mtr square, its taken me 10 months (on and off) and I love it to bits – I love that its unique, there is only ONE in the WHOLE WORLD!!! Right now it has pride of place on the back of our sofa, for snuggle emergencies and tent building (heartily engaged in by our Small Person with gusto when she found it yesterday morning!).

So there we are – a most productive week in our little house! Im still reading my business books and learning a bit more about the art of marketing and selling, and Im finding it very interesting. I think Ive surprised myself a bit, as that side of things never appealed to me before, but its certainly helping me see that whilst its good to have dreams and goals, the actions are what makes things happen!

Im just going to mention (before I go), a big “Thank You”of gratitude to everyone who comes to my little blog and reads my wanderings and ramblings each week. I started this blog after a friend suggested I do it as a weekly challenge (during a creative dry spot, to give me something to think about). I never thought that I would meet such lovely people through it, and it means such alot to me that you come by and comment and even read the thing!

So! Im looking forward to catching up with your delicious blogs now – its about time I put my feet up under that blanket with a cuppa and trawl through your inspiring posts!! Just the tonic if you ask me!

Hope you have happy weekends, sprinkled with tiny snowdrop discoveries and winter sunshine – chat soon

Julia x x x

Soul Longings

It seems like months since we last saw grass, greenery and tiny peeping new shoots in the garden…and it seems absolutely ages ago since we were mooching about in crocs and summer dresses, sand between our toes, walking in shallow aquamarine waves…

The longing for the summer is getting stronger, so I made a mosaic of some of my favourite photographs which are all things South West, summer and beach to cheer myself up.

Isn’t it lovely?

Just looking at it makes me feel happy…and its easy to ignore the rather intense freezing fog which has pervaded every nook and cranny of our valley this evening when Im looking at those pictures.

As I was in the process of uploading my pics to the magical mosaic maker, I was browsing a few blogs and discovered that Diane over at Heartshaped was having similar coastal longings and had posted the most beautiful photograph of Porthmeor at sunset…I think this time of year can be especially hard, so I love that fellow bloggers are sharing their sunniest, most emotive pictures here to lift the gloom that January sometimes brings.

Meanwhile, in the art corner…

…work is a-happening. Oh yes, after a faithful pledge at New Year to devote more time to my art in 2010, I have so far managed to do this and Im currently engrossed in a new illustration piece that Im very happy about. Its not quite finished, but if you take a peek in the photograph below, you might just be able to see it!

Can you make it out? I’ll post a proper picture of it sometime next week when its all finished 🙂

Im feeling very inspired at the moment, plenty of ideas swirling around in the old grey matter – Ive shelved the sewing stuff for the time being in favour of the painting, and will perhaps make bits and bobs along the way. Id discovered of late that I was perhaps pulling myself in too many directions, and whilst I cannot deny that I love crocheting and sewing and making etc, Im not going to let them become pressures that overwhelm and bring headaches. I have been reading my business books, (some which are proving to be more useful than others), have taken part in some of the exercises and answered some thought provoking questions – and you know, its really rather good to have someone ask you this stuff. It makes you think. And it made me think about direction and goals, and what I want to achieve, what is important to me and what is not quite so important…

and so I know now, without a shadow of a doubt that my first love is my painting, that I couldn’t live without it…and perhaps my second is crochet as its a wonderfully meditative way to switch off from the world. Sewing and felting etc all come after that, and by acknowledging this, its been a bit like a permission slip to ease up on myself, not put so much pressure upon little old me to make and do in every single medium.

And that feels very, very good. 🙂

Its story time now for a certain Little Someone, so I shall bid you all a fond goodnight, and look forward to browsing your blogs over the coming weekend – speaking of which, we are hoping (fingers crossed the Woodhead or Snake passes are open again in time) to amble across to Salford on Sunday, to The Lowry where there is a fabulous exhibition on til the 31st January called ‘The Sea’
featuring work by Lowry and Maggi Hambling (the wonderful artist responsible for the big Scallop Shell on the beach at Aldeburgh, Suffolk).

Whatever you do, keep warm, remember each day is lighter a little longer…and the snow seems to be melting, in Yorkshire at least!

Much love
Julia x x x

Hibernating and Creative Business

Hello friends 🙂

Well, what a week it has been in the UK for weather!! I look out of the window and what do I see? Snow. I turn on my TV and what do I see? A special program entitled the BIG FREEZE dedicated to this icy cold spell!! People are a bit obsessed aren’t they, so today, instead of giving you heaps of snowy photographs to look at, Im going to show you what we made when it snowed hard for 14 hours here the other day.

And it involves the Queen of strawberry jams, Little Scarlet.

Me and the Little One got busy making scones, because I had a yearning for Cream Teas and summer, I was totally brassed off with all things white and cold.


And we decided to use different cutters to make our plain scones, ending up with hearts and rabbits…and a couple of unidentifiable ones that a Small Person was tremendously proud of!

If you’ve ever been lucky enough to get a jar of Little Scarlet jam, you will know where Im coming from with my rapturous description of it. Once the lid is off, tiny wild strawberries of the most sweetest kind practically burst out of the jar – indeed this is not jam, it is a jar packed with strawberries for there is hardly any room for the jammy bit.

Its not cheap, but sometimes its good to indulge isn’t it, and on that snowy day we buttered fresh warm scones, and piled oodles of tiny strawberries on top and watched the whirling white snow fall out of a heavy grey sky, although our thoughts were perhaps far away right then, in a tea garden far south of this Yorkshire border.

Anyway, I lied – I said I wasn’t going to show you any snow pictures but I couldn’t resist a few – its so very, very pretty when the sun is shining on a fresh downpour of the stuff!


This is across the road from our house, the tremendous trees are weighed down. Its bitterly cold standing on the doorstep so I hurry indoors….

…but not for long – the Little One wants to go and make a snowman, so we navigate the back garden and are both rather surprised how deep it is, she in particular as its well over her knees and she’s never seen anything quite like it!
The sunlight glows through the snow that has fallen between the boughs of our little flowering cherry tree…hard to imagine that in only a matter of weeks this will be frothing over with pink blossom.
The river looks very pretty, peaty black and icy cold against the bright white snow. To add to the theme of black and white was a little dipper who was out braving the weather, he was standing on a stone watching us before he took off under the bridge, his little white bib a blurry flash as he flew by.

Well, following my last post there have been a couple of my readers interested in the books I mentioned, and silly me, I should really have put the titles in that post for you! Never the less, here they are now for those of you who are interested in following the creative business dream:

The Creative Entrepreneur
by Lisa Sonora Bea
m

Creating a Life Worth Living
Carol Lloyd

Make Your Creative Dreams Real
Sark

The Small Business Start Up Workbook
Cheryl D Rickman.

If you click the links it will take you to the amazon page so you can read up on them a bit more and see if they are what you are after.

The top three books are written with a real focus on creativity, and include some great tools and exercises which teach you how to become a businesswoman (or man), and make your business real, one which makes money and brings customers…sound good?? It is.

These books also suggest keeping a journal/art journal to encourage your creativity. If you can, take the time to really work through the exercises. The good thing is that you can do this in your own time, and when you do sit down and answer the questions and think about what you’re reading, you begin to learn things (which sounds obvious, but Im the best in the world for skipping the practical exercise bit, I always want to be at the finish post first, but Im realising that these people can teach me things I don’t know and through making an effort Ive learnt more in the last week than I did in a whole year of going round doing the same stuff yet expecting different results!!)

The last book I mentioned is more practical nuts and bolts, crammed full of information about marketing and promoting yourself and starting a biz from scratch. Very good.

So there we are. Id love to hear from any of you who decide to work through one of the books Ive mentioned here. It can be quite a challenge starting off in business, but its not impossible and perhaps the ones of you who have decided to grow a business properly this year might like to share experiences here? Sometimes its nice to have someplace to chat about our journeys and what we’ve learned, and it can also be really helpful for others who are doing the same thing!

Let me know what you think – you know where to find me!! 😀

So here’s to the creative journey, wherever it may take you (be it kitchen to bake cake, or reaching for the stars and becoming the next Deborah Meaden 🙂

Big love to you,
Keep warm,
Eat nice stuff 🙂

Julia xxx

A New Year

Happy New Year dear friends

I hope you have all enjoyed a lovely Christmas time, and I wanted to take this time to thank you all for the last year in Blogland, for your friendship and support. Ive really enjoyed getting to know you all, and I look forward to following your journeys in 2010!

The picture above is a cherished view near to our home looking over the Loxley Valley, it looked beautiful on Christmas day following the huge snowfall we had awoken to on Christmas Eve. My sister and her family had travelled north the day before that, so we braved the icy roads to join them at my Mums cottage and had the best fun building snowmen with the children, having snowball fights and sledging races down the hill next to the house. It was one of the nicest Christmases Ive had in a while. I think the snow made it feel all the more so as well as the fact that we were all together (which doesn’t happen every year).

So, as quick as Christmas arrived and departed, so a New Year came creeping in. Did any of you see the lunar eclipse last night? It was also a very special moon in that it was a Blue Moon. That means that there were two full moons within the calendar month which is not that common (hence the phrase, ‘once in a blue moon’), but for a Blue Moon on a New Years Eve it was even more amazing as its only once in every 20 years that it happens.

For those of you who are interested in moon energy and cycles, its a very prolific time to set intentions and goals for the coming year.

Which got me thinking about what I would like to achieve this year.

I would seriously like to start growing my little art business. 2009 saw me supporting my other half in his business venture, climbing the peaks and navigating the troughs. Everyone we spoke to agreed it had been a hell of a year for anyone in business, especially a small business as this one is at the moment. To have survived it and come out the other side feels nothing short of a miracle and I admit to feeling worn yet more learned from the experience. Life sends us these lessons to test us, to see if we are ready and willing to grow, and I think we have grown. We have lived on the breadline and we have also experienced moments of wonderful abundance. We have travelled through very testing times. Despite the difficult bits, we are beginning 2010 with a renewed sense of possibility and optimism and I have made the promise to myself to devote more time to my own business too.

I am in the midst of planning some regular work time with my Small Person being in the house at the same time. I know from a bit of reading that its quite possible to do this. It just needs some forward thinking, such as lots of exciting activities to keep her occupied and regular mini breaks where we will spend time playing together, or having a snack or a sing-song…
Im also discovering how to help her understand that Mummy will be having Work Time, because at first she won’t realise whats going on. We are going to ease ourselves into it gently, just a couple of hours here and there, nothing too much. It will, I hope, create a happy balance for all of us and help my little art business grow into something a bit bigger that will eventually help towards supporting our little family.

Im reading a couple of really good business books that are created for creative people too – none of this technical mind boggling nonsense for me, hardcore business manuals just dont resonate and after a bit of inspiration from a friend, Ive been overjoyed to discover some excellent reading material that will hopefully serve to expand upon what I already know.

So that is what Im aiming for this year. 😀

What are your goals and ambitions for this new year?
What do you hope to achieve in this new month?

I send you sparkling scoops of goodwill and comfort for the journey, and look forward to catching up with all of you again soon.

Much love
Julia x