Hurry Up Spring!

“I sit before flowers, hoping they will train me in the art of opening up,”

So says modern poet Shane Koyczan.

For five days I’ve been sitting in front of “a host, of golden daffodils” willing them to train me in the art of capturing their glory in watercolours.

“I gazed-and gazed” but found that yellow on yellow is really difficult!  Keep it loose and there’s not enough definition – add detail and it looks overworked.  Whilst the paint was still wet I went back in with a watercolour crayon which seeemed to work fairly well.  Oh and on the vase I used a white wax crayon to (kind of) define the water line.

Daffodils©Bunch-1.fwHere’s the best one out of VERY many attempts.

Daffodils©Crop.fw

Although after reading the very talented artist Kate Osborne’s excellent post on “Cropping” I tried this….

Daffodils©Crop-1.fw

…but decided that this one is probably best?  Actually, surprisingly, cropping is also more difficult than I assumed it would be.

Frustration aside, I enjoyed using my paints again – a necessary change from designing for my ** Zazzle store.

Ever the optimist, I plan doing some cutsie watercolours of themes suitable for children, which eill be incorporated into designs for greeting cards and various other items…you guessed…for my ** Zazzle store!

“And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.”

With apologies to William Wordsworth.

** I closed my Zazzle shop in March 2017

Hello Zazzle, Goodbye Life!

Anyone who wants to make money by selling their art online, let me warn you that it is a deeply formidable task.

When I naively thought it would fun to open an online business little did I realise what I was letting myself in for. Every day sees me investing long hours on activities which do not include painting pretty pictures.  I’ve had to…..

  • Decipher what and how to adhere to the site requirements on setting up the store front.
  • Learn every damned thing alone as Zazzle don’t really offer much advice.
  • Interpret and complete complicated forms to keep the taxman happy.
  • Know what size images are required for each individual product.
  • Be proficient at using imaging software – I’m self-taught on Adobe Fireworks.
  • Think up original ideas.
  • Create new images, not just with paint and inks, but digitally as well.
  • Become a champion at tagging.
  • Delve deeply into my box of descriptive words.
  • Open promotional media sites such as Facebook and Pinterest.

Zazzle©Desk.fw

But still…all I hear is crickets.

It’s going to be a long time before I see any reward for my efforts and I’m realising that it will be necessary to open new stores with other online platforms in order to appeal to a variety of audiences.

The thing I’ve found the most difficult is to not be timid about pushing my Zazzle store on social media such as Facebook and Twitter.  It’s not enough to simply upload a few items and sit back waiting for them to sell.  Constant promotion of each item is vital and I’m convinced that I’ve probably irritated my friends and lost a good few followers in the process.

On the plus side, Zazzle do print my designs on good quality merchandise and I am enjoying the process; the novelty hasn’t worn off…yet.

I just saw an article proclaiming that those who succeed with these online stores have been doing it fo approximately fifteen years, (FIFTEEN!!) producing more than one item per day – I’ll probably be dead in fifteen years.

Well, much as I’d like to, I obviously can’t sit here chatting – got to get back to consistently and persistently producing for my Zazzle shop.

Zazzle Dazzle Greetings Cards – Making Art Pay

I don’t have any controversial unmade beds nor hideous dead creatures suspended in formaldehyde to flog – and I don’t want my art just sitting around taking up shelf space – so as passion and creativity won’t generate an income, I’m commercialising; selling (very cheesy) greetings cards and other merchandise on the internet. This allows me to paint and draw what and when I want without pressure.

June-Malones_zazzle©lcards

Initial enthusiastic research rapidly dwindled into bewilderment and I had to enter a darkened room for a little lie down.

I’m currently limited to creating for greetings cards and various items such as t-shirts as my technical ignorance regarding converting images to acceptable vector file formats excludes me from contributing to Stock sites for now.

Being under no illusion, I admit my cards aren’t particularly original and realise that just because I’ve decided to put them out there doesn’t mean people will actually buy them; I’m a small voice in a very crowded room.  So definitely not a “get rich quick” scheme.  Nevertheless, even a few pennies here and there, must be better than a deft boot to the derrière.

Here is a link to the first site – my ** Zazzle store front… which will be regularly replenished.

One benefit of shopping here is that nobody will have to endure “All I want for Christmas” played on a perpetual loop just because it’s November.

Perseverance!  I’ll let you know how I get on.

** I closed my Zazzle shop in March 2017.

The “C” Word

I know it’s only October but…and I can’t believe I’m actually saying this…but I’ve made my own Christmas cards!  Sorry!  It’s most unlike me.

Moving swiftly on, if you have always been put off by the time and effort that making your own cards usually entails, then perhaps you should reconsider.

There is an abundance of inspiration and tutorials online.  This is the one I used.

ChristmasTree©StencilFirst you make a triangular stencil and place it over the centre of the card.  Then, using water on a brush, paint small squiggles within the triangle and follow through with a small brush containing green watercolour paint, once again, squiggling loosely.  I decided to splatter as well.

The photos are a bit pants but you get the idea.

Hand-made Christmas card with Christmas tree and gold star.

The card paper didn’t react well to wet-in-wet watercolours as does proper watercolour paper, but once the triangular stencil was removed, the overall effect was still pleasing.

Craft stores sell economically priced blank cards with matching envelopes and everything else required – just don’t get carried away and buy up the entire store as I did.  In this case, less is more effective.  I used some self-adhesive glitter stars and tiny gem embellishments.  I already had some gold ink for writing “Happy Christmas” inside, but you can even buy stickers for that.

This was a really simple, fun thing to do.

Apologies again for mentioning Christmas so early – I find nothing more soul-crushing than walking into a store and seeing Christmas supplies on the shelves at this time of year.  I’m not sure what came over me.

Caution: Contents may offend

Looking forward to Christmas shopping?  Of course not.

It is a british requisite to moan about Christmas coming too early and I’m usually first to grumble about the crass hype during the ever-lengthening run-up to Christmas.

Apologies then, to those who haven’t even managed to de-rust their barbecue yet – there’s a glimmer of tinsel to be found here!

For once I’ve resolved to positively embrace Christmas absurdly early by launching myself into the Tiger Print competition to create surface pattern designs for wrapping paper, cards etc – 2011!

Anyway, here it is for what it’s worth….and my entry has actually been uploaded to the site.

I approached it purely as a learning exercise and after WEEKS (!) of careful work I’ve realised that my (Fireworks) self-taught approach isn’t nearly enough and I urgently need some formal Photoshop training

So I don’t care how early those bells start jing-a-ling-ing or partridges are shoved into pear trees, just as long as someone stomps on every single recording of that repellent, ear-bashing, omnipresent Christmas song by those miscreants known as Slade.

la-la-la-not-listening…

Wedding Invitation

It was my immense privilege to design the wedding invitation for the eldest of my two amazing step-daughters.

The image was to fit on a narrow, horizontal, white card and illustrate that the event would be held on Kentish farmland boasting two fishing ponds and several animal breeds.

The happy couple were “thrilled” with my efforts and I was officially dubbed a “clever old stick!  The wedding day was appropriately and sublimely magical and I even made my own fascinator for the occasion.