This Week in the Studio

What a busy week but a very enjoyable week. There has only been one new piece of artwork completed amidst the production of greetings cards and giclee prints. All of these new products now need to be added to my Inventory [which also has the facility to show my work online], my Website and my Shop. That will keep me busy next week!

The new work, top left, is multi-media using a still life photograph I had taken several years ago. The photograph has been digitally altered and painted on and will be available next month as prints and greetings cards.

There have been several greetings cards designed and produced this week, mainly DL format plus a 4x6in ‘With Sympathy’ design. The two landscape photographs above [taken during a walk up Glen Moy on 1st January this year] have come out well as greetings cards / note cards. I am planning to get some more Angus scenes added to the range of greetings cards.

The Rood Dudes [my wee story characters] have also got their own DL greetings cards. The ‘Wee Hooses’ artwork on these cards was created by Tina Williamson for a local event a few years back. Tina’s shop A Longer Table features in the Rood Dudes story and these ‘Wee Hooses’ can be seen in her shop. Tina has given permisssion for her artwork to be used for this card.

The two artworks with a single tree have both been produced as giclee prints and will be available to purchase from February. I have also managed to produce several DL greetings cards of the tree on the right hand side above and they will be available to purchase from next week.

Woolma, my sheep oil on board painting from a few years ago will be produced as giclee prints and greetings cards.

Being busy has brought me many pleasures this week. I do love it when plans come together and give positive results.

~A~

This week : Greetings Cards

A selection of cards designed with proofs produced this week. I seem to have spent so much time getting to grips with learning new IT skills. Research and development never comes without cost and effort.

The first card to be produced with satisfactory results was the With Sympathy card [size 5x7in]. My uncle sadly lost his life to Covid on Monday and with the local card shop being closed during this lockdown, I decided I would try to do a suitable card myself. It took me a whole day to set up a template for the card design and to find a sympathetic scene to convey my condolences to my aunt. I used a recent snowy local scene from a photograph taken by Bob [permission granted and rights acknowledged – so important if using someone else’s images]. I personalised the type-written message inside.

The next card was the Rood Dudes in Fairy Neuk [size DL] which has come about from a wee story I have begun [The Rood Dudes even have their own Facebook Page!]. It is my hope that I can come up with a collection of four cards featuring Doris and Donald Dude.

Most of my afternoon yesterday was spent working in photoshop preparing some of my own photographs and images ready for some new greetings cards to be produced as the year progresses. The top two cards are from the photographs I took on 1st January when Bob and I walked up Glen Moy in Angus. Again, I am preparing some ideas and images for an Angus collection. These cards are DL size.

The last card to be produced yesterday was the ‘Our Boy’ card [again DL size]. This was quite an emotional card to do as Tiko [‘Our Boy’] came to live out his last few months of life with Bob and I after the death of my youngest daughter last year. What a character this old lad was – and such a handsome Siberian Husky! I am thinking I may do a collection of pet greetings cards but that is for later in the year.

Eventually the cards will be marketed on my website and on my Shop Platform. Hopefully get some of them up next week and with an option to personalise an inside message if required.

~A~

Learning: New Printing Methods

Yesterday was spent trying to get to grips with designing and printing my own cards. The WHOLE day just playing around with computer and printer. What else do I have to do (lots actually!) during this lockdown? Quite sad though that my first card to be produced this year is a sympathy card. Yet another family death and this time Covid related. An uncle in his 70’s. This will be sent off to his wife and family today.

The current lockdown restrictions impact on all of us and making us think of other ways of working. I had only one public event last year, a two week pop-up shop in the back room of a local eco-friendly grocery shop. Emotionally last year took its toll as I lost my youngest daughter and found myself unable to work to full capacity so in some respects it was good for me to not work. However, a new year and a not so new problem of an income shortage. I need to get back working and earning.

Printing my own cards is one way to reduce my costs and increase my product range. I aim to put some of my artwork into print also which will open up another avenue I have not pursued since leaving Suffolk. I am hoping to be trying out some canvas prints too but that may be a little further down the line when I have mastered the process.

In the meantime it is learning, practice and even more practice…..

~A~

Warm Ups

My ‘Daily Practice’ seems stuck at the Warm Up stage. Two weeks into 2021 and I am yet to complete something. However, doing warm ups is still daily practice. I’ll cut myself a bit of slack this month because I have a new way of working to adapt to and a whole new set of tools and skills to learn. After my old laptop finally dying on me (November last year) and not having access to many, many files and applications anymore, I am getting to grips with cloud storage, Microsoft Surface and Office, plus a whole heap of digital / technical tools to make my artwork more available to potential customers online.

Online seems to be the way to go in these troubled and difficult times of Covid. Going totally online is a whole new experience for me and it takes me an age to get to grips with various platforms, software and applications. All this learning, practicing and doing eats up time like a wild hungry monster. Hence, there is little time left to be able to create anything larger or more detailed than a wee doodle or ‘warm up’ piece. I need to produce more if I am to survive this Covid-Storm. The ‘Pond’ is shrinking and there are many more fish in it too now that we are all struggling to earn a living. Ponds and fish are for another blog, another time.

So, back to Warm Ups. I am trying to commit myself to the good practice of doing about 30-60 minutes of doodling or visually emptying my morning mind each day. I always found this to be a valuable practice for inspiration and self-encouragement. This morning I grabbed a selection of things that took my attention – a bottle of some lovely lavender McLean’s Gin (not a family connection), my favourite wine glass and an empty box which contained some champagne truffles. I set this still life low to give me a different perspective and used a black Bic biro on some very heavy duty lining paper. I often use lining paper for the rough doodles because it is cheaper than using specialist paper. I’ll talk about the pros and cons of wallpaper lining paper in another blog. I don’t get precious over these sketches and it frees my mind up, knowing that most of these end up in the bin after a while. Often, a quick sketch will trigger an inspiration to take forward into a project.

This week’s Warm Up sheet:

~A~

Daily Practice

Warm Up Study

Sometimes the Muse just gets up and leaves. A fickle creature, the Muse. My Muse is female, probably because I am a female. But Muses come in all shapes, sizes and forms. My Muse exists only within me, myself and I. Your Muse may live outwith you. Your Muse may be another living being. This gives rise to other difficulties and possibilities. The Muse is not the topic for today’s blog however. Today I want to talk about how I am trying to tempt my Muse to participate more with me.

For a long time now, too long in fact, I have struggled to create anything of any real substance or meaning. It is as if being in a lockdown situation has pushed my Muse into hibernation. An a-Musing situation to some degree. Although it is not a laughing matter by any means. No Muse, no artwork, no income. Simple as that. Difficult to cure.

So yesterday I decided I had to revisit some old methods of encouraging the Muse. Daily Practice first thing in the morning. I give myself a large piece of paper and allow 30 to 60 minutes of mindless scribble. I draw the first thing that takes my attention. I use whatever materials I think of first or whatever is at hand. I don’t seek perfection, I don’t expect a conclusion. It is merely a practice piece that is more or less going to end up in the bin. No expectations mean no disappointments. Hope is present though. Hope that I can feel motivated to move onto something a bit more meaningful. Hope that perhaps one of the morning scribbles will inspire me to continue with something as a study. Hope that the Muse will suddenly appear and say ‘What about doing this …..’

Daily Practice or Morning Warm Ups, whatever they may be and whenever they are done, are a good way of keeping the creative spark alive. They are a good way of enticing the Muse to be present. Today I used watercolour pencils and a roller ball ink pen.

A photo I took of a beach in Norfolk 2004 – stuck it on the freezer to inspire me.

Try it. See if it works for you. And enjoy!

~A~

Walking in Old Shoes

Creativity seems to have walked away from me. Discarded like the old shoes that have become tattered slippers. I have so much to learn and get to grips with regarding the new technology that I have available to me.

I’ve spent the first few days of this year getting to grips with a new way of working using Microsoft OneDrive as my main storage for files etc. Also I have bitten the bullet of modern methods by subscribing to Microsoft 365. My new Surface Book 3, like many laptops these days, does not have a CD drive and so I cannot load up my Microsoft Office from disc. Okay, it’s Office 2007 and probably so out of date now. I made the decision to do annual subscriptions for MS 365. So much has become available to me! So much to learn! So far I have been quite successful in getting accustomed to Whiteboard (love this brain-storming tool!), the Tasks to-do-list organiser, MS Project Moca (another discovery, another excitement). And the list goes on.

I am investing time and money into trying to make good out of a bad situation. Income has dried up and avenues are getting narrower or even no longer exist due to Covid. I feel like I am walking my Path in old shoes. Shoes that are no longer fit for original purpose and quickly becoming redundant for any other use. A bit like my old ‘girly’ summer shoes that soon became indoor slippers when they weren’t getting worn outdoors. Even they are getting beyond fit for any purpose.

I tried to focus on making new artworks today so I thought I’d do some warm ups. What did I draw? Well, the old shoes that became slippers which are now heading out towards the dustbin. They will go in the bin once I am done with doodling and daydreaming.

The Muse still seems to be more absent that present. So the analytical side of my brain has taken over the day. I found myself continuing in the ‘I must get to know and understand’ stage as well as the ‘I must organise myself better’ approach. I’ve learned more about how to use my Surface Pen and I’ve organised my 2021 Goals. Time to make a ‘pudding’.

Stay safe my friends,

~A~

New Year ~ New Project

The New Year has brought with it many challenges but organising some new projects helps to take the mind away from some of the serious aspects of living, and trying to make a living, under the threat of Covid-19. During the Christmas break I have been giving thought to what projects I can undertake during 2021. One of the projects I will be concentrating on the next twelve months is my Fill A Frame project. Like many artists, I have an obsession with collecting frames. Frames of all sizes, various types, some new and some to be re-used. The photo shows a mere sample of what I have stored over these last few years. I’ve chosen some of the smaller ones to start with and I’d like to get something in each of these frames by the end of January.

Wishing you all the best for 2021 – stay safe, stay busy and be happy.

~A~

Adding Stars to the Night

As 2020 draws to a close I am left wondering how we will all move forward from the stop/start and constant pause that Covid-19 has brought to most of our lives. I doubt if anyone has been left untouched and without loss during these difficult few months. 2020 certainly has been one of my most difficult years. I hardly recognise my old ‘Self’ and long to find a solution to the punishing regime of Covid restrictions. But to dwell on the gloomy side of Covid lifestyle is to weaken and diminish the creative impulses. And for me the instinctive urge to create has been somewhat lost since April of this year. Lost and hidden from consciousness for six months. November somehow brought a little bit of fresh inspiration and desire to create once more.

Difficult was a word that was always going to be around, for me at least, for the foreseeable future. Difficult is the constant flux I have found myself in for the last few years and more so in 2020. But 2020 will pass shortly and a new year will begin. No resolutions as such for this coming year. Just a resolve to keep moving forward positively by accepting, adapting then creating something from the chaos. One way of encouraging positivity is to exercise both the body and the mind. My lack of exercise in both areas during this year has caused a bit of a black hole. I’m looking to put some stars back in this dark void in 2021. Not sure what form these ‘stars’ will take but am looking forward to getting creative once more.

I’ve started planning my ‘starry, starry night’ for 2021. And by the end of 2021 I hope to find my ‘new dawn’. I’m planning more of an online presence in the coming year because we may still have some Covid restrictions to adhere to, particularly in the first few months. I long to get outdoors again properly, wandering around freely and meeting people in normal circumstances. Daily connections, daily creations. Bring on 2021 and let us all make the most of what we have each day.

~A~

Last Few Days …

ENTER HERE ~ CHRISTMAS MARKET …… visit AINETHEON ARTS table here

This is a virtual marketplace worth visiting, not least because it has some of the best artists, writers and makers, but also because it is one of the easiest virtual marketplaces to navigate. Each artisan has a ‘stall’, just like a real Arts & Crafts market. Visitors can browse around similar to how they would if they were wandering around a real venue. The only difference is that we are seeing the products in 2D rather than the full 3D experience of a real live event. But most of us have got used to online shopping during the difficult times of the pandemic restrictions. And it is safer.

When you enter the Art Craft Finder Christmas Market you will notice that the order of ‘tables’ does not always follow a chronological list. This makes for a good and fair practice by the organisers, Art Craft Finder. It means that every stallholder has a chance of being seen near the ‘entrance’ of the marketplace and it makes for a more enjoyable repeat visit for shoppers. You will also notice that there is a search bar right at the top of the page. This means that you can search for a particular table or artisan and go straight there. Now that is a bonus if you know what you want but don’t want to plough through lots of tables to get there. However, I would encourage you to browse some other stalls once you have found what you are looking for. There really are such a wide variety of products available from some of the best artists and crafters around. I went shopping in the previous market, bought a beautiful scarf from North Star Quilting then went back and bought another for a birthday present next year!

Ainetheon Arts is on table 14 in this Christmas Market. The link should take you straight there but do take the time to visit the other tables. Time is running out to get those last few special presents. The Christmas Market ends on 20th December 2020 so don’t delay too long. I’d love to hear from you if you do visit the Christmas Market. All feedback is very welcome.

Enjoy the Christmas season,

~A~

Motherhood and Art – Guardian article

photograph taken from digital The Guardian newspaper 2 Dec 2020

‘Motherhood is taboo in the art world – it’s as if we’ve sold out’: female artists on the impact of having kids – by Hettie Judah 2 Dec 2020

This well written article highlights the age-old problem women have always had in trying to combine an art career with raising children. I particularly like the quote Hettie Judah has used from Tracey Emin: “There are good artists that have children. Of course there are. They are called men.” Men do seem to have had an easier path through their art careers and even although women artists are becoming more acknowledged and revered for their artistic contributions to the art world, they are still trying to juggle two major roles or having to sacrifice one for the other. I don’t know what the solution is or even if there ever will be a satisfactory outcome for working female artists who happen to be mothers.

Read the article

~A~

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