Friday, 30 August 2019

Mab Graves Portrait

I was compelled to pick up my pencils. My little one wanted me to draw "a beautiful lady with pink hair". This immediately made me think of the mighty and forever inspirational Mab Graves. She's a creative force of nature, and the fun and creativity she makes with her nephew Ransom is forever giving me goals. I really enjoyed this. Pencil behaves more according to your direction then ink, which has a mind of it's own. It was refreshing to erase imperfections, and have second chances. And what a face.

mab graves pencil portrait with pink ink
pencil sketch of Mab Graves with carmine pink ink

Sunday, 25 August 2019

GIF Making in GIMP

I have always been mesmerised by GIF loops. But then I'm old and I remember the whistling sound of a dial-up connection. GIF's (pronounced "J" - if - FIGHT ME) were a kind of witchcraft for me in the early days of the internet. Fandom members I knew well (on livejournal) had the power to make there own edits of shows, music videos and films I was obsessed with, and reduce them to beautiful second long sequences of awesome beauty. But for some reason, this always felt like something other, clever people could learn how to do, and that I would never get to know the secrets of how they were made.

Then, I watched a 3 minute video on YouTube this morning and now I have come to realise that this was a lie. The internet is still for everyone and it's all fair game. This sulky girl I drew a while ago seemed like a good place to start in my GIF making career. She's shaking her head, and to her everything is a full body cringe. BUT I MADE THAT. I'm a bit nervous as a peer down the rabbit hole I'm about to tumble down. The very limited social life I currently maintain is about to die. But look at the shiny moving thing! 

Saturday, 3 August 2019


“I am longing to be with you, and by the sea, where we can talk together freely and build our castles in the air.”
Bram Stoker, Dracula

Last week I went on an adventure to Whitby with my family. A full week of English sunshine. Very heaven. We stayed in a pretty little cottage on a pretty little street, just two back from the main part of the town. We had no idea we were so close to the harbour, in all honesty, when we booked. But we had seen we had a cracking view of the Abbey from the attic bedroom window. Be still my gothic heart. I dreamed Dracula passed through the keyhole of our front door and materialised in the house. A trip. 

I mean, have a word! I did spend some time shouting out of that window "Listen to them! The children of the night!" But it turns out it wasn't howling wolves, just exuberant gulls.

We had a little sitting-out spot under a pear tree at the front of the house. This house was just over from us, and it held our attention. It's designed like a ship. And we watched some absolute legend push his motorcyle through the front door. To park it. Respect.

What about that wood carving, aye? Oooph.

Whitby Harbour, from the bridge looking towards our favourite pub of the visit, The Endeavour. 

From a set of arches mimicking the Whale Bone arch, these found at Pannett Park which was also home to the Museum.

We took a day trip out to the Moorland Visitors Centre and had a walk around the woodland there and enjoyed a tea in their pretty tea room. Ideal for little one who is 6. We drove over the Denby Beacon which was epic and covered in vibrant purple heather. I failed to get a single photograph of the actual Moors, and I didn't even get out of the car to sing Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush at the top of my lungs, which I consider a Serious Life Regret.

Pennies for wishes thrown off the bridge into the stream.

Strange natural things like this remind me I'm on a rock in space.

Stars, caught.

We made the climb up the 199 steps. Not as laborious as I expected, even on the stupendously hot day we chose to do it. I got very romantic about the Abbey. This amazing human achievement, reclaimed by nature and degrading in front of our eyes with the salt from the sea carried on the wind biting into stone. The active church of, St Mary was absolutely beautiful as well surrounded by beautiful graves.

Grave stone spotting like a true Gothic, obviously. The demonic babies are clearly the best part.

We enjoyed the rockpools at Robin Hood's Bay. We saw a bright red sea anenome and several crabs. Extremely exciting to our small minds.

Runswick Bay was easily our favourite beach. The sand was clear, not even a strip of seaweed or a twig to be seen, and the water was beautifully transparent. I managed to get up to my waist, and really intended to swim, but the cold was truely overwhelming. I failed to get a picture of this beautiful spot because I was having so much fun taking it all in. The pub was the only feature of the tiny hamlet, and the beer was cold and delicious and the food was proper. The only downside was the hover flies constantly trying to commit suicide in my pint.

We went out to Staithes too, and it was too gorgeous to be true. And we found an ammonite! What more? 

All in all, a wonderful trip!

Friday, 2 August 2019

Printable Art, Gallery Walls and Statement Art Pieces for your Home Decor

Expressing Your Taste with the Best Art

Stand alone pieces command a room powerfully. A single piece lends itself to modern, minimalist aesthetics. But it can also create the opportunity for an intense flourish of expression and, even bold maximalism. 

Equally, a gallery wall made of several pieces is such a personal statement about your own unique taste and all the interests that add up to you. A sprinkle of eclectic frames adds character all by themselves.

Curating a gallery wall in your home can come together harmoniously with a large statement piece taking up the central space, from which smaller pieces add balance and contrast. But naturally, the best, large-scale pieces of art also come with a large-scale price tag. 

This is when printables really come into their own. Buying a printable for under £10 and having a print shop scale it up for you, means you can get the big price-tag look without having to remortgage your house.

Cheap Prints, Original Art? What's Not to Love?

Printable art is easy to find online. For just a few pounds you can have a print ready to go from your computer screen, you can run it through on your printer at home, and have a poster for your kids room or a last minute pressie, framed and wrapped, when you've run out of time and funds. It takes no effort and there's lots of cool stuff around. 

Isn't there? 

I don't know about you but I've found a lot of the instant printable art prints available on Etsy or elsewhere can be pretty... drab. Sometimes generic. And obviously cheap. There's usually a computer-generated brush lettering. There's often a vague quote that means almost nothing like "Bless This Mess" or "Home is Where the Prosecco is". There might be a teal background added and some sort of geometric pattern somewhere. But there's very little originality and certainly no heart and soul. 

The Case for Printable Art

Allowing clients to print my work themselves seems like a stroke of absolute genius. I can't justify having a stock of prints made myself, waiting for possible sales right now. And I have always worried ethically about the huge print-on-demand sites. It could be because I'm a control freak as well, but I like to know 

* how things are made
* who they're made by 
* and what they're made from

I just don't like the distance between myself and the people who might enjoy my work. Print-on-demand sites like Society6 and Redbubble communicate on behalf of the artist. If customers who enjoy my work get a bad service from an on-demand company, I can't do anything about it. 

This is why I think allowing my work to be available as printable art prints is a great option right now. For me and for buyers.

I've made several designs available. All with personality and quirky originality. But there's so much more to come. Find my printable art for your home HERE. And let me know what you think? Do you use a print-on-demand website to sell your art and products? What do you like about it? What do you dislike? Have you ever downloaded some art and printed it for your home or for a gift? I'd love to know your thoughts.

If you're curious about how it all works, or if you like the designs, you can find these prints and more in my Etsy shop, by clicking the link HERE.