Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Happy 53rd Wedding Anniversary!

Today is my mum and dad's 53rd wedding anniversary - I worked out that S and I will have to live to be 92 years old if we are ever to be able to celebrate that many years of marriage. Well, you never know! 

My mum is a huge advocate of making your own greetings cards and has been using her computer clip art and specialised card programmes to send us personalised cards for several years now.  With that in mind I decided to add to the Wee'uns range with a card especially created for my parent's anniversary!

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Crafty Shout Out - Cakes and Bakes

This week's shout out goes to Leah from Cakes and Bakes. I came across Leah on Twitter recently and was really impressed at the pictures she posted of some of her cakes - the work that must go into creating these edible works of art is something else.

Halloween Cake - Cakes and Bakes

This is especially true when you consider that this isn't Leah's main job - she has to fit all her amazing cakey creations into whatever spare time she has after the full time working day is done. She manages to do that with copious amounts of early mornings and late nights and no small amount of talent and creative flair.

I asked Leah how long she had been baking and she says that she remembers from a very young age being happiest in her granny’s kitchen. Leah loved helping her gran bake and then arguing with her brother and cousins as to who would get to lick the spoon at the end!

Credit: Cakes and Bakes

Leah's whole extended family are foodies, every celebration or commiseration is loaded with food of every kind. Whilst her mum is an amazing cook, she prefers the savoury end of the spectrum so most of what Leah has learnt has come from books and online research and just getting stuck in and trying things out.

Dragon Cake - Cakes and Bakes

Leah's real obsession with baking began about 4 years ago after asking her mum for her famous Banana Bread recipe to try and use up some over ripe bananas. Even though she had to measure the ingredients in a plastic drinking cup as she didn’t have any scales and she didn’t actually have any of the other ingredients she needed in the cupboard!

The banana loaf was a success and her obsession grew. She started a huge (and ever expanding) cookbook collection and found her way online, scouring baking or food blogs for recipes, tips & tricks. Leah has never actually taken a course (although she plans to this coming year) or had anyone show her how to make anything. All her training has been practice and online research.

Brownies - Cakes and Bakes

When I asked Leah where the name came from she said that she didn't want to be known just for cakes. She never started off making novelty cakes, it sort of evolved from the variety of baked goods she made. She still loves to make other treats and doesn't want the focus always to remain solely on cakes and cake decoration so she chose to have bakes in the name as well as cakes.

Interestingly Leah has also been a face and body painter for over 12 years but the baking has taken over and so she only paints at one or two events a year. At one point the site was going to be a joint baking/ painting venture and Leah's other half thought that bakes could be a play on the Northern Irish slang for your face (as in "shut yer bake!") although she says not many people have picked up on that!

Credit: Cakes and Bakes

Leah has had a few orders via twitter before but says that until she is in a position where she can do it full time she is mostly sticking to making them for friends and family just now. It’s difficult to balance with her job and maintain a home life but she says it truly is a passion that she can't imagine her life without. Her plan is to take some courses and look into how she can turn this love affair with baking and creating amazing cakes and bakes into a full time career.

Leah started a blog in August 2009 so that she would have somewhere to document the many recipes she has both found and created and to share her tales of new discoveries in the world of food. And, handily, as she frequents restaurants in the Belfast area, I will be able to try some of the places she has recommended.

Her blog on eating out has made me want a meal in Made in Belfast and I might just have to drop some heavy hints to S about one of Leah's amazing cakes for my next landmark birthday next year - hopefully by then Leah will have left the number crunching behind and be baking full time!

Halloween Buns - Cakes and Bakes

My problem with blogging about Cakes and Bakes was actually which of the many fabulously decorated cakes to post photos of! This is just a small selection of the many cakes Leah has made - check our her blog for the flavours and what actually goes into making these creations of sponge and fondant loveliness!

Chelsea Cake - Cakes and Bakes

Monday, 23 August 2010

Less Googling, more Doodling!

First things, first - good news this week is that I have another commission! Yay.  This one is for a pointy pet portrait of two lovely wee old patterdale terriers. 

This is them and I'm going to get started on that tonight!

Now, this definitely not a complaint because I love that I am doing so much art, but... it is starting to feel like there are definitely not enough hours in the day for all that I am trying to squeeze in. 

I'm working on filling the sketchbook for the Art House Project - there are 40 pages and initially I thought I would have to sketch/paint/draw on both sides but the paper is quite thin and so I have decided instead that I will do a sketch on one side and have a little bit of writing to accompany it on the facing page which technically means there won't be any blank pages! The pages are quite small being just slightly longer than A5 so the sketches don't take that long to complete - I've been starting the outline during my lunch break and then filling in the colour in the evening.

As the theme I chose is "If you lived here..." I am concentrating mostly on city scapes and street scenes. I am hoping to get enough inspiration from the places I have actually been to so I don't have to use other people's photos but having now found the wonderful Paint My Photo website I know at least the option is there without having to worry about copyright (as per my last post).

I managed to finish another 2 sketches last week - the paper isn't ideal for watercolour as it tends to curl a wee bit so the pics don't scan onto the computer the best, but here's what I've done so far:

This is a view of Loch Lomond in Scotland

This is a very northerly town in Norway
called Honningsvag at sunrise (which was also
pretty much sunset at that time of year!)

In order to better prioritise my time, and bearing in mind that not working 9-5 is not an option, I have decided that I need to stop spending quite so much time online.  Obviously I want to keep my blog going but I have found that online forums and other arty crafty sites are so completely compelling and addictive that what starts as a quick 20 minutes on the computer to update my blog turns into a 2 hour marathon of world wide webbing.  I seem to get sucked from one website to another by way of the links and eventually forget what I was actually online for! 

S helpfully pointed out, when I was moaning that I wished I had more time to do actual artwork, that maybe I should stay away from the PC for a while and that maybe, just maybe, I was spreading myself too thin and trying to do too much in the few hours between getting home from work and going to bed.  He's right and with that in mind, I have decided that my Saturday Shout Out isn't necessarily going to be a weekly event anymore (which means it needs a new name - maybe just Shout Out will suffice!)

Although I love finding other arty crafty people to mention and to showcase their work on my blog, it is taking up a lot of time researching and contacting them and then obviously getting the information together to write the blog post.  So something has to give and this is, after all, my blog so I guess the shout out will have to take a back seat for now.  It isn't gone for good as there are still so many people whose work I want to mention but for now, I need to concentrate on building up my own portfolio of work so I actually have something to show on my website.  So, the upshot is, less Googling, more doodling!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Is using a photo 'cheating'?

As part of my art world domination plan (!) I've been joining art websites such as The Artists Web (who are hosting my own website) and Total Art Soul. All these sites have forums for members to post questions, get and give advice and just get to know other like-minded people. Yesterday I joined a debate on Total Art Soul with regard to the moral and legal implications of using someone else's photo as inspiration for a painting/drawing.

There are a whole host of things to consider when using a photograph as the basis of a picture, not least is the argument from some art purists who look down their noses at those of us who work from photos and are of the opinion that it makes us somehow less of an artist because we don't actually draw from life.

I don't know about any other artists out there but I don't have the a) confidence to paint or draw in public or b) the time to actually do a portrait of a life model - bearing in mind I still have to work for a living and that the last commissioned portrait I did took me over 18 hours to complete - it just isn't a realistic proposition for me. Also, given the less than clement year round weather in Northern Ireland, for me to try and paint en plein air (as they say in France) my paints would be washed away by rain before they even got a chance to dry on the paper! So no, I don't subscribe to the school of thought that you must actually be there to paint the scene - that's what digital photography was invented for!

Which leads me on to the next dilemma - what if, like me, you are photographically challenged (I don't mean unphotogenic although I am guilty of that too!) I am just not very good at taking photos but, luckily for me, S is. From a holiday snapshot point of view, I never really saw the point of a photograph without someone in it. Now however, I am eternally grateful that S has taken so many of these photographic scenes as it means I have a huge source of reference material and I don't need to worry about copyright!

This is a photo he took of the walled garden at Bangor Castle and my sketch of it which I've used for the front cover of my Arthouse Co-op Sketchbook 2011 project.

Is the painting less mine just because I didn't actually take the photo - no I don't think so. A good photographer can capture a great scene and that in itself is a work of art. Likewise, a good artist can paint a scene, whether from life or from a photo and put their own stamp on it - as Simon Cowell would say they take the scene and they make it their own (a phrase I hate but that actually sums up what I mean in this case!)

Now, as to the issue of whether it is ever okay to use someone else's photograph to paint from, there are different views on this, aside from the whole copyright issue. Personally, I would always ask someone's permission if I wanted to use an image of theirs as inspiration for artwork of mine.

Because I worry about everything I then worried about drawing famous faces - is their image copyrighted? Yes, pretty much.  I found out that, even though Marilyn Monroe has long since shuffled off this mortal coil, the rights to her name and image belong to CMG. This concerned me, as I have her on my blog and website banner and not wanting to be on the receiving end of a multi-million dollar lawsuit, I emailed CMG and asked was it okay to keep the illustration on as a sample of my work and they said yes! Phew.

During my research I also found a wonderful website called Paint My Photo where photographers post photos that they allow artists to paint from. This is a great website and one I will be frequenting when I need inspiration without the worry of legalities! I have already found a few cityscapes on there of places I haven't been to which will be great as inspiration for the sketchbook project. There is even a challenge where artists are invited to paint a chosen photo each month. This month it's this photo by Rodney Campbell, a member of Paint My Photo (who did give kindly me permission to put this photo on my blog!)

The upshot is, as far as using someone else's photographs are concerned - yes I will no doubt still do so in the future as professional photographers will probably travel to amazing places I may never be lucky enough to get to and they are always going to take a better photograph than I could, but I will always ask their permission first. I would just always prefer to stay on the right side of the law and not step on anyone's toes into the bargain. And, I don't think I am not a 'real' artist because I work from photos (but then I am going to say that anyway!)

It would be interesting to hear other opinion's on this as it seems to be a real bone of contention amonst other artists on various websites I looked at. Any thoughts?

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Websites, P!nk and Sunshine

I registered a little while ago with the Artists Web which is a website set up to help promote artists, both established and unknown.  They have a gallery that showcases different work and also offer to host websites for artists with the benefit being that they help to promote them and they are also high up in search engine searches which should then help to increase the possible traffic to the artists' websites as well.  They were doing a special half price offer on their websites for the year so I decided to go ahead in the hope that it might look more serious and professional to potential clients than just a blog (which is essentially just me rambling on about a load of rubbish which ultimately isn't that interesting to other people!).  There is also a forum so I can pick the brains of professional established artists.

Anyway, my website is up and running now and you can visit it by clicking on the button on the right of the blog which I designed yesterday along with one linking to my wee Folksy shop (which doesn't really have that much in it just yet other than my four card designs!)

Well, in between spending so much time on the computer googling, tweaking, scanning and updating, I finally finished my pointy portrait of P!nk.  It's on A5 size paper which is a better size to do these types of portraits on as the stippling technique is really time consuming, which is why the larger commissioned portraits I did recently took so long to complete - obviously the larger the area the more gazillions of dots needed to cover it!  I think for this type of art work I might stick to A5 or at the most A4 in future.  Mind you, I plan to use A3 for the competition I want to enter (Artway Gallery) only because I think anything smaller might get lost or overlooked amonst all the massive canvases I imagine are going to be submitted.

Right, the sun is miraculously shining for August in Northern Ireland, so now that this particular piece is finished, I am going to get my suncream on and get out to the back garden as inevitably it will be back to the usual grey skies tomorrow!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Saturday Shout Out - Dainty Deity

Credit: Dainty Deity

Credit: Dainty Deity

This week is slightly still me banging on about weddings just a little bit!    As my hair is so short I am limited to what I can do with it on my wedding day.  I was never going to wear a veil anyway but wanted something  to make my head region look a bit sparkly and different from every other day of the year!  I didn't want a normal alice band as I didn't have the hair to cover the band part and, at the time,  I couldn't find a fascinator that wasn't outrageously extravagant and too OTT for me and that would stay on as, again, I couldn't clip it on to my short hair. 

So, I was thinking 'imagine if they did invisible hair bands so it looked like there was just something sparkly on my head with no obvious signs of how it was managing to stay there!'  I googled 'invisible hair band' and lo and behold it took me to  Etsy  and the shop of Christina, creator and proprietor of Dainty Deity!

Christina has actually trademarked the invisible hair band and for short haired folk like me, it is a Godsend.  At the time I was looking through her Etsy shop, there was a range of different styles using a variety of fabrics and beading and I contacted her to see if I could have one made to my specification, explaining what it was for.  Christina was very helpful and asked to see my dress design so that she could create a hair band to suit my tastes.  She then came up with three different designs and I chose the one I wanted.  I was so pleased with it when it arrived and have to try it on every so often as it is still a few months until I get to wear it for real!

Credit: Dainty Deity
It is small and discreet and the invisible band part is just that - hidden even by my very short hair!

When I contacted Christina about this blog she told me that she has now branched out from the hairbands and other hair accessories and is now making lovely dolls crafted and sewn out of fabric.  She finds that the change of medium helps her to stay fresh.  She normally made these as gifts but recently decided to list some on her Etsy shop as she felt the need to get back to sewing.

Christina, like many arty crafty folk has been crafting since she was a young child, having been taught to sew and crochet, amongst other things, by her grandmother, mother and aunts.  She was always involved in something creative as a child and it has progressed from there.

Credit: Dainty Deity

Right now Christina is a Child Development Specialist as well as a crafter and told me that she enjoys the duality of the two different professions.

When I asked Christina if she had any advice to give to other crafters or artists she said that that she believes that all creatives know what to do - they are intrinsically motivated - the danger was in letting your "day job" go. This is because she believes that creativity comes in spurts and starts so it is important to have stability which makes it easier to work on what you love to.  As you can see from the detail and quality of Christina's work, she obviously does love to create and is clearly very talented at it!

Credit: Dainty Deity

I asked Christina, as I always do, how she came up with the name 'Dainty Deity' and she explained that she used to make meditation boxes for her friends, she is petite and gave good advice and so Dainty Deity was born!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

To Do List!

This week I've been squeezing in a pointy portrait for an hour or so in the evenings when I get a chance in between walking the pups, bathing the pups (who for some reason known only to themselves like to roll around in highly undesirable stuff left in the grass at the park by the dogs of not very responsible dog owners!) and sorting out the niff naff and trivia of everyday life! I'm going to try to get this finished at the weekend but Saturday is pretty much out of the question as we're planning on emptying our attic and taking the contents to a car boot sale in town (before the ceiling comes down on top of us!!)

Here's what I've done so far - can you guess who it is yet?

I got an email from the Art House Co-op to say my sketchbook had been posted so I am waiting on that to arrive so I can get stuck in to filling it before January (bearing in mind we'll be away for 3 weeks in November getting wed!) I've already made a mental list of the sort of things I want to put in it.

I have also entered an art competition run by Artway Gallery with a closing date in October so I need to decide on my subject matter for that - I am thinking of attempting a pointy picture of one of Northern Ireland's most famous landmarks but that may be a tad too adventurous so we'll see how I get on with it!

The aim of the competition is to discover painters, sketch artists, photographers and digital artists from around the world and give them the opportunity to exhibit in a London Gallery.  The work will be exhibited on an online gallery and finalists will then be showcased in a live exhibition.  All entrants get to exhibit their work online for a year after the competition and can also sell their work on the Artway Prize website. I'm sure there will be some amazing work entered but, as the saying goes, if you aren't in, you can't win!

As for my greetings card range - well I got a couple of comments back in a positive vain so as soon as I get a chance I might just open a wee Folksy shop and put them on along with a mention of bespoke portraits for anyone who might want one.   So much to do and just not enough hours in the day to do it!

Monday, 9 August 2010

Introducing the wee'uns!

I mentioned a few posts back that I wanted to create a range of greetings cards.  Personally, I completely love cards.  I love to give them and I love to receive them. My favourite shops for browsing (aside from shoes, obviously) include craft shops, books shops and card shops.  There are cards for absolutely everything these days and sometimes you come across one that manages to sum up exactly what you want to say or that makes you laugh out loud (the On the Ceiling range of old black and white photos with funny captions from Emotional Rescue usually have that effect!)

Anyway, I've already mentioned that I can provide a bespoke wedding invite design service - if you are getting married and fancy wedding stationery that screams 'that's so them' when your guests receive their invites in the post, then you might like to have you and your other half immortalised in pen and ink on your invites and I can help - see much 'I do' about weddings. (plug over). 

So, I've been doodling in my sketch pad at lunchtimes and thinking of the sort of cards that I like to buy. As well as witty cards, I like when the words on cards make me go "n'awwwww" and go a bit melty.   My inspiration for this range are our two wee Westie pups (they of the pencil-gate fame!).  They have absolutely taken over our world (and our sofa!) and they make me laugh so much with their funny wee ways.  I refer to them as the wee'uns hence the name of this particular range of cards. 

I have completed four so far, so I thought I would put them on my blog and would really appreciate any feedback (negative or positive - as long as it is constructive!) just so I know if I am on the right lines or if I need to go right back to the drawing board!

I have left them blank inside so you can add your own message and they have the Pointy Pix design stamp on the back - I wanted them to look authentically handcrafted because they are hand drawn in ink on watercolour paper (this gives the background a speckled effect a wee bit like newspaper print when scanned and printed out on the card. I think this gives them an old fashioned appearance that I quite like) and not designed using computer graphics (other than the text obviously).

So I would really appreciate it if anyone reading would comment at the end of this post just letting me know what you think; if there is anything you would change or improve about the designs that would make you want to give one of these cards to someone or if you have any other ideas or occasions you think I should design a card for - sort of like market research!

Sunday, 8 August 2010

The Sketchbook Project 2011 - It's like a concert tour but with sketchbooks!

It is amazing how small the world is these days what with the internet and all the social networking sites there are.  I use Twitter a lot for following arty crafty people, pet people, wedding people and any other sorts of things that I, personally, am interested in.  One of the art twitterers that I follow posts all sorts of competitions to do with art, photography, graphic design and the like and it was from this that I found out about the sketchbook project.  This is a project created by Art House co-op who are based in Brooklyn, New York  (click on the link to find out who, what, where, when).  The actual project started about three years ago and is basically about bringing art to the masses and is open to artists from all over the world.

The Sketchbook Project: 2011

The idea is that you secure your place on the tour by buying a sketchbook from the Art House Co-op which you then have to fill and return by January 2011.  There are 26 different themes to choose from or you can allow the organisers to choose a random theme for you.  I settled on 'If you lived here...' as my theme.

All the sketchbooks then enter into the permanent exhibition in the Brooklyn Art Library where they are barcoded and available for the public to view.  Each artist can keep track of their sketchbook online and will be notified of  how often it is viewed.   The sketchbooks then go on tour from Brooklyn to Austin, San Francisco, Portland, Atlanta and Chicago so there is the opportunity of your work being seen by thousands of people! It is also possible to request a digitized version of your sketchbook so that it is also available to view online by anyone who can't see it in America.

It sounds like a really exciting project and so far when I went online yesterday to secure my sketchbook there were already several thousand participants! As the project has been getting more popular each year magazines, blogs and newspapers have been keeping up with it and CNN and Time Out NY even covered it.

I can't wait for my sketchbook to arrive now so I can get started on it.  In the meantime, it's back to those card designs I am working on...

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Saturday Shout Out - Rock n Roll Bride

This year I am more than a little preoccupied with all things wedding as I will be saying 'I do' to S in November on what will be the 5th anniversary of the day we met. I am beyond excited and everything at this stage is pretty much in hand as far as planning and arrangements go. We both decided from the get go that we didn't want a big affair (this being 2nd time lucky for both of us) and had always said we would just take ourselves off and do it quietly abroad.

Even though I have never been before, I loved the idea of getting married in New York (I think my box sets of Sex and the City had a lot to do with it!) and so we decided to book a wedding planning company to sort out all the little details so we didn't have to, booked our flights and hotel and will be jetting off to get hitched in the Ladies Pavillion in Central Park with a honeymoon to follow in Acapulco. My sister and her husband are coming with us to New York and that is the whole wedding party!

Credit: NYC Architecture

I trawled the internet for dress inspiration but having little joy finding anything within my budget that I liked, I decided to design my own. As I love all things 50s, I came up with a tea length 50s style prom dress (pretty much as it looks in the invite caricature in my last post!) and I found a great local dressmaker who is going to bring my creation to life.

Anyway, this is a very long-winded way to mention this week's Saturday Shout Out - a completely fabulous blog I thank Google I stumbled across on my internet travels while trying to find images of weddings that weren't all the same - let me introduce Kat Williams - the Rock n Roll Bride! This is, without doubt, the best wedding blog I have found and I know that even after I'm married I will still log in for my daily fix of all the gorgeous weddings and talented wedding suppliers that feature on it.

Kat started blogging about three years ago as a way of recording her thoughts, wishes and wants for her own upcoming wedding and it took off from there.  Even after she got married in April 2008, Kat decided she wanted to continue with the blog and developed her own niche in the UK as far as providing a blog of all things wedding-y that don't conform to the traditional idea of what a wedding should be. 

Rock n Roll Bride is full of weddings that are original, quirky, vintage, retro, punk, tattooed, DIY'd or just simply different from the mainstream wedding industry's idea what a wedding should include and should look like.  Essentially, the weddings on Kat's website aren't different just for the sake of being different (like some of those featured on Four Weddings imho) they just totally reflect each couple's tastes and style (which to me is the whole point of the day).

Even if you aren't getting married in the near future, are already married or plan never to get married, Rock n Roll Bride is worth a looksee just for the great photography and gorgeous dresses, shoes and accessories (and sometimes even cupcakes!) that feature on it.  Even though we had photography included in the wedding package we booked for New York, after seeing the stunning photography on Kat's site, We knew that anything less than professional just wouldn't cut the mustard and I'm very excited that we have now booked a great New York based photographer to record our big day!

However, I have more than just wedding inspiration to thank the Rock n Roll Bride for as it was through her website I found out about Emma Jones' book 'Working 5-9' which featured Kat and told the story of how she worked on her blog in the evenings while still doing her normal day job.   This in turn gave me the impetus to finally do something other than simply daydream about trying to make art more than just a hobby. 

On top of that, when looking for information on blogging etiquette I found that Kat even had that covered with a whole load of advice within her 'How to...' section for blogging novices such as myself!

Kat is now in the enviable position where, after a lot of hard work and long hours, she has been able to go part-time in her other job (as a producer on a TV shopping channel) and devote more time to working on her wedding blog, taking on sponsors and advertisers who fit the whole ethos of Rock n Roll Bride.  She recently won best bridal style blog in a poll by the Wedding Channel and has been writing magazine articles and was even asked to speak at a recent photography conference on blogging and alternative wedding photography. 

So, as a way of saying thanks to Kat for inspiring me to follow my own dreams and all the invaluable advice she provided to me without even knowing it, I decided to do a caricature of her - as you can see, the lady is actually a walking work of art herself!

Credit: Forever After Images

I emailed Kat to ask her if it was ok for me to blog about her and to send her the caricature and was more than a little bit overwhelmed when she gave me a mention in her Thursday Treats section!! I'm guessing that if you don't know who she is just yet, if you are in anyway interested in weddings, photography, or blogging, it is only a matter of time because this lady is going stellar!

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Much 'I do' about weddings

When my sister got married she asked me to do ink drawing caricatures of her and her husband. I did two different designs and she then got them printed up into wedding invitations and the order of service. They are now framed and have pride of place in her living room!

They went down really well and it was actually as a result of those that I then got asked to do larger coloured caricatures of couples as wedding presents. I did several of those a few years ago (long before I thought I could maybe make it more than just an occasional thing and unfortunately before I had either a camera phone or a laptop on which to store photos). 

The feedback I got was that the couples loved the gift of a painting of them on their wedding day as nowadays most couples already have pretty much everything before they get married and it is increasingly difficult to come up with an original gift idea.  Yes, you can give vouchers but they will inevitably be frittered away on something or nothing whereas most of us love to have something personalised especially for us and a caricature will forever serve as a reminder of the best day of their lives (and of what a great friend you were to come up with something so original!)

My sister and her hubby

The lovely S suggested that I do a caricature of us and turn it into a wedding invite for our own wedding this November.  This is even though we are having the smallest wedding in the world (just us and my sister and brother-in-law).  We thought my sis would appreciate the humour.  As my sister had a larger wedding (i.e more than 2 guests) she took the caricature to a professional printer to produce the invites but as I only need the one, I just jigged around with the scanned image myself and made my own card. 

This is how it turned out - I did it on A4 in ink and watercolour pencil which I'll stick up in our wee den as a reminder of our day:

I then printed it onto a square template to fit the blank greetings cards I bought and printed it off in grayscale (I would have printed it in colour but my printer was playing silly beggars with the magenta ink cartridge so, ever the queen of impatience, I gave up and went with grayscale instead.  Typically, after I'd already posted the invite S fixed the printer and now it's working fine!) 

And in case you were wondering, this is me and the lovely S.

So, if anyone has a wedding coming up and can't think what to get as a gift, then bear Pointy Pix in mind - I'd be happy to create a caricature (or a pointy portrait) of the happy couple.  Or if you are getting married and fancy something a little less peaches and cream and a little more original for your invites then I'd be happy to come up with a design of you and your hubby or wife to be. Shameless plugging, well yes, but if you don't ask, you don't get!!

Sunday, 1 August 2010

To illustrate a point

One of my failings, if I am to be totally honest, is that I am not very good at seeing things through to completion.  By that I mean that I quite often get very fired up about a new hobby, idea, gym membership, gardening night class, whatever and throw myself into it wholeheartedly for at least five minutes before I either simply lose interest or get distracted by something shiny, a far fetched plotline in Home and Away or life in general.

A whole lot of years ago I was living and working in Tunisia as a holiday rep.  Even though my job had nothing to do with art, I still painted and drew when I got the chance - making the most of my hotel information boards with cartoons and illustrations, selling a watercolour to one of my holidaymakers once and even painting a Christmas scene on a hotel window one year.  At the time I was thinking about how I would love to illustrate story books for children and on a whim decided that if no one would employ me to do that (and why would they when I wasn't actually an illustrator) then I would just write my own story and illustrate that instead.  And so the characters Jodie and Jazz were born.

Around this time, my little cat, Jazz, met a horrible and untimely end at the bottom of a well in the orange grove that my apartment overlooked (I know that location sounds really picturesque and lovely but in reality, not so much!). Anyway, I missed him a lot and decided he should feature in my book.  Because I was living in an Arabic country at the time, the theme I chose to write about was, naturally enough, an Arabian adventure including the ubiquitous flying carpet.  The jist of the story was that Jodie travelled to far away places in her dreams, had amazing adventures with her cat by her side and on waking up would find something from the adventure in her bedroom so that she was never really sure if it was all just a dream (it appealed to my inner child!)  I got to writing and actually finished the story which I then set about illustrating.

Unfortunately, I never did get round to finishing the illustrations, which was quite ironic as they were the whole point of writing the story in the first place.  By that time, I had returned to Ireland and sent the story off to several publishers hoping they might be so bowled over with my illustrations and marvellous storytelling abilities that they would ignore their own rules and actually accept unsolicited work. Needless to say all my manuscript copies were returned with very polite 'thanks, but no thanks' letters attached!

I was looking through some of my very old artwork today, actually searching for something else entirely, when I came across the story (typed on an actual typewriter as well!) and the three illustrations which I did manage to complete.  Over the years I have often thought of Jodie and Jazz thinking that, even if it never sees the light of day as an actual children's book, I should still finish the illustrations just so I can say I did actually write and illustrate my very own book once.

This blog has, so far at least, helped me with completing things, because I know that art is what I love to do and what I have always come back to over the years so even if no one else were to read anything I write, just knowing I've said that I'm going to do something, out loud and into cyber space, sort of compels me to really do it.  So hopefully now that I have dug these old illustrations up again I might actually finish that book after all.


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