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Hanna-Mae Illustration

Illustrator & eco clothing designer

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Tis the season…to get creative

Here in sunny Wales it’s been raining for over a week! Although soggy strolls with my dog and taking refuge in coffee shops have been welcome excursions out of the house I’ve been enjoying finishing off my Christmas card design. I’m happy with the finished product and am eagerly awaiting the arrival of my order from the printers.

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Final card design, water mixable oils.
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Edited design 1 (pre-made digital background)
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Edited design 2 (pre-made digital overlay/text)

I feel it was worth taking time over the colour palette as it all ties together nicely. If you missed last months tutorial: ‘Developing your ideas’ you can read about how to tie all your ideas together: link

As my old neighbour (‘old’ as in from my previous home) has been so kind to me this year I decided I would also get a mug printed using my design and give it to her as a Christmas gift.

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Now that I’ve got my Christmas cards sorted I’m focusing on a sewing project for my best friend’s nephew. I finally have an excuse to use up the stash of felt sheets I’ve been hanging on to for a while and am working on hand-sewing a personalised pouch (with lion pocket on the front) filled with wild animal finger puppets.  So far I’ve finished an elephant, a panda, and a tiger. As a long-term vegan I feel it’s important to know all about what I’m using; where the material/food/cosmetics etc I’m using are sourced and the process behind creating them. As some of you may know vegans generally avoid using any animal-related products, one being wool. It’s up to each individual what they choose to avoid/use but I believe in the importance of making informed decisions. You can read all about wool and the ethical issues behind it in my up-front guide here (click to view) : ‘Loom knitting for beginners and your guide to ethical knitting’

Although I’ll be using my own cards this year I have purchased a special one from a talented individual for the owners of a gorgeous little cockapoo who my own dog is in love with! The likeness is uncanny and if you’re looking for some unique dog-inspired art or cards for that dog lover in your life then MindfulDogCo is the shop for you! Run by the talented Imogen who’s based in Southampton, you can find her online shop here: link

 

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Christmas card from MindfulDogCo

Christmas is such a wonderful excuse to get creative, from card making to baking and making your own gifts. Next week I’ll be showing you how to use your leftover wrapping paper and turn it into something beautiful!

 

Happy creating!

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Monthly tutorial: Developing your ideas

This month I’ll be guiding you through how to develop your ideas. For me, this part of the creative process is just as important as the creating itself, as it’s the pre-planning that forms a solid foundation for my work. So let’s get stuck in…

‘Where do I begin?’

If you’re working towards a brief (if you’re studying art/design at GCSE onwards this word will become familiar to you and you’ll hear it often) then you have a good starting point. Read it carefully and make bullet-points or highlight exactly what it is you need to fulfil. Are you designing a Christmas card? A design for packaging? Does the brief state what style/feel they want? The more information you have the easier it is to generate ideas. Starting a self-led project from scratch can be difficult because every decision you make has to be your own and a successful design isn’t usually created by just picking up your paintbrush straight away without any blueprints. If you don’t have a brief, set yourself one. Write down briefly what you want to create, who/what it’s for and what sort of style you want. For example, I’m creating a Christmas card design, it’s for my family and friends, and I’d like it to convey warmth and cosiness and be in a cute illustration style.

‘What next?’

Now you’ve got your basics you need to build on this. Your task is to convey your meaning successfully. It can help to make some notes (I like to do colourful spider diagrams) to get any ideas in your head down. Let’s use my brief as an example. It’s for Christmas so I’d write down all the things I associate with Christmas, for example: holly, mistletoe,family get togethers, gifts, snow, stars etc. Do the same for the other important messages behind your intended design, in this case ‘warmth and cosiness’, which made me think of things like: blankets, thick coats/jumpers, fireplace, hot drinks etc. You’ll have quite a bit to work with by the end of this idea outpouring, so you need to narrow it down and decide which elements you think will work well together or excite you most.

Next steps…

Once you’ve decided what you’d like to include it’s time to pull the pieces together. How are you going to put these elements together in a way that’s natural and pleasing to the eye? It can help to do a bit of research at this point, see what other artists have done, and how they’ve gone about positioning things. If you’re designing a greeting card it can be really useful to browse card selections in shops. Bear in mind the message you want to communicate and work around this. For me, I wanted my design to be ‘soft’, which means soft, rounded shapes that curve and flow, rather than sharp edges. This is why I chose to position my chosen features (poinsettias, mistletoe etc) in a circular wreath and made my character rounded. Collecting images and making a small inspiration board to refer back to can be really helpful. When designing my Christmas card I collected a few photos of poinsettias and hedgehogs and worked from these, remembering my desire for ‘softness’.

 

 

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I like to do rough sketches of each element I plan on using before bringing them all together. I knew I wanted to include a hot drink in my design so I sketched a couple of versions of this until I found a version I was happy with. I like to make notes next to my sketches, for example, I wanted my hedgehog to be more rounded, so I wrote a note to remind myself ’rounder’. It’s ok for your rough work to be messy, no one will see this stage, this is your chance to get all your ideas down and play around to see what works.

Colour!

When you’re happy with your sketches and have decided the layout of your design it’s time to think about colour. Some colours work harmoniously and this is what will be most pleasing to the eye. Have a think about what sort of message you’re intending to send with this design, do you want it to feel cold and wintery for example? (in which case you’d consider cool colours) or warm an cosy? (in which case you’d consider warmer colours). For my design I wanted warmth but also to continue the feeling of ‘softness’. For this reason I chose not only warmer colours but quite muted versions of these colours. By this I mean I didn’t choose just orange, I chose a more burnt orange. A lot of the colours I chose I had to mix with colours such as burnt umber, burnt sienna and ochre to get that muted tone. I’m a huge fan of building yourself a collection of paint sample cards for use in your art/design planning. Get a file and get in to the habit of picking up some sample cards/booklets any time you find yourself in or passing a DIY/home shop. You can also just pay a visit to one when you have your colours already in mind. If you know you want cool colours, go and pick up sample cards just of these. You can do this for each project. I then hold colours I think I want to use next to each other and decide which appear most harmonious. When you’ve chosen, stick them to your rough sketches so you have a guide of what goes where. As you can see below, I’ve assigned colours to various parts of my character.

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Starting your final design

Before starting your final design it’s useful to work out sizing and most of the time I like to have a complete rough version with everything in place. Once you know where everything is going and how large it needs to be, it’s time to select your paper and begin. You can read about selecting the right paper in my guide: ‘Choosing the right sketchbook‘.  I chose to use fine grain heavyweight paper as I wanted a hint of texture as well as a paper that could hold oils well. Once you’ve transferred your design, you can begin adding colour. What medium you use is up to you but it’s essential to use paper that can handle your medium (see my mentioned guide, above, to read more about this).

As you can see on my rough pages, I’ve mixed my colours and tested them next to the samples before applying them to my piece. It’s a good idea to have some scrap paper nearby to test your colours on, particularly as they can appear different on your palette than on your paper. Some colours can dry lighter, some darker.

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I’ll be revealing my own complete design next month and kicking off December with some unique, creative gift ideas for you!

Happy creating!

‘Allow yourself room for your ideas to blossom, take root, and grow’

Welcome to the third week of the New Year! I’m glad to say that so far I’m keeping up with my resolutions, and finding them quite rewarding. The wonderful thing about pledging to do a ‘deed a day’ is that there’s mutual benefit. Studies have shown that people who help other people report feelings of satisfaction and gratitude. There’s also proof that doing good benefits your mental health. Win-win! To read more about the science behind this, and get even more inspiration to help others, take a look at this interesting article from goodnet.org (link) which brings me to my second resolution – to be aware of what I Put in my body, physically and mentally. In a previous post I mentioned the book Touching Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh, in which he explains the importance of maintaining ‘a proper diet for our consciousness, refraining from ingesting toxic intellectual and spiritual food’. I realised that by starting my day by reading of all the sadness in the world in the newspaper, and then flicking on the news channel to also view it, I was starting my day with thoughts of what I was seeing and hearing – violence, death, crime. In common with other people who suffer from anxiety, I find mornings to be one of the most difficult times of the day. Research has shown that cortisol levels (the fight or flight hormone) is at its highest during this time. By ingesting negativity I was feeding this anxiety, which is why I made the decision to instead fill my morning with craft and creative journaling. This has definitely given my sewing projects a boost! And I’ve started work on a St Dwynwen’s day (Think Welsh Valentine’s Day) inspired skirt.

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As with all my clothing this is entirely hand sewn, and made using upcycled material and vintage broderie anglaise found in my local market. The material is fantastic quality, and of course this piece will be one of a kind due to limited material. Next month I’ll be bringing you a tutorial on how to make your own basic children’s skirt, which is so easy it’s even suitable for beginners. If you feel the need to get crafty in the meantime, there are plenty of tutorials from the past couple of years to choose from:

Last week I was excited to drop off my piece at Y Galeri Caerffili (website) ready for the Winter Exhibition. It’s uplifting to see how the small town of Caerphilly has evolved over the years to now have a real presence of creativity. Next month I’ll be bringing you a review of the visitor centre/art gallery, and hopefully inspiring you to visit for yourselves. If you’re interested in seeing this year’s Winter Exhibition, which showcases the work of 72 shortlisted artists, the gallery is open from 10am – 5pm Tuesday – Saturday. The exhibition will run until 2nd February. You can even participate by nominating your favourite work for the Visitor’s Choice Award.
Although I’ve found my focus more craft-based than art-based lately I’m occasionally dipping in to an autobiographical piece that I started late last year. I’m taking my time and enjoying the process of creating. I found a wonderful quote by producer Carlton Cuse that I feel really expresses the creative process: ‘The creative process is not like a situation where you get struck by a single lightning bolt. You have ongoing discoveries, and there’s ongoing creative revelations […] along the way you must allow yourself room for your ideas to blossom, take root, and grow’. As I paint I feel different things, ideas come to me, and the piece almost always evolves from what I originally envisioned. I like to think that’s what puts ‘soul’ in to a piece.

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Seasons Tweetings!

Seasons Greetings to all my followers! What a year! It’s been a while since I last posted, I’ve been inundated with hospital and clinic appointments, but now thankfully I have some time to myself to ease myself in to a less chaotic time, and just enjoy the season. And I kicked off with trying a craft I’ve had my eye on for quite some time: needle felting. I’ve been saying for years that it’s a craft I’d love to learn, and finally I had an excuse! My friend bought me a needle felting kit for my birthday. Take a look at my sweet little robin, who I will be giving to my Grandmother who is a wonderfully creative and crafty lady and will appreciate the love and effort behind him. If you feel like giving this satisfying craft a go, I’ve managed to find some vegan-friendly, wool-free options too! Heidi Feather’s has a wonderful starter kit which includes all you need to get going, along with a project book full of cute ideas from a robin, elephant, penguin, and even bunting (HeidiFeathers)

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Christmas is always a time when people become a bit more generous, and embrace love for one another more, and lately I’ve been reading some inspiring articles that have really brought in to focus the changes I want to make myself, not just this time of year, but for the year ahead, and hopefully the future. Already I’m laying the foundations for my New Year’s resolutions by making small changes.

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There are two books which I’d recommend if you’re interested in making similar goals. ‘Touching Peace‘ by Buddhist poet, scholar, and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh may have an unassuming cover, but inside can be found gems of wisdom on many topics, from relationships to diet and general daily living. The second book I’m going to recommend is ‘Zero Waste Home‘ by Bea Johnson, which is an interesting read for anyone thinking of embarking on a more environmentally-aware lifestyle. This year I’m also pairing up with a resolution buddy! A nice idea as you can encourage one another when your motivation is flagging.

As well as being the start of a hopefully more aware year, I’ll also be kicking off 2018 as I mean to go on – in a creative way. I’m happy to say that this year I’ll once again be taking part in the Y Galeri Caerffili‘s Winter Art Exhibition after my piece ‘The Artistic Autistic’ was chosen to be included. I created this piece with the intention of communicating how it feels to live with autism in our modern world. Many people with autism have sensory issues, which can lead to what’s known as ‘sensory overload’. Whilst most people are able to filter out outside stimulus, this can be difficult for people with autism, meaning we experience a constant flow of sounds, sensations, and sights, which can become overwhelming. I chose the colours carefully to try to communicate the feeling. If you’re interested to know how it feels to experience sensory overload, there are some great autism simulators on the web. If you know someone with autism it’s definitely worth taking a look at these: Sensory overload simulator

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‘The Artistic Autistic’ Oils on canvas board

It’s become somewhat a tradition of mine to have a real sort out of everything at the beginning on December and put my decorations up, and this year I found a stash of artwork that I’ve accumulated over the years, some up to 6 years old. It was interesting to see how my style and the materials I use have changed over the years.

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As promised earlier in the year, I also kept a visual diary of my visits to my hospital/clinic appointments. I took the time I would have spent just sitting waiting to challenge myself and create super quick sketches – something which I find a bit difficult as I’m a stickler for detail! Here are just some of my sketches.

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Hopefully in the new year I’ll be back to my usual weekly posts, with reviews, tutorials, and the occasional vegan recipe thrown in!

Merry Christmas (and a belated Yule to any Pagan followers out there)

xxx

Once upon a time…

A while ago an acquaintance asked me to illustrate a children’s story they’d written about a little adopted kitten. I based some of the illustrations on places I’ve been/lived.

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Creative chaos!

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Chaotic! That’s the best way to describe my creativity lately, flitting from one project to another depending on my mood. I’ve been in search of inspiration in many areas, from spending time in beautiful natural spaces (which often stirs something in me) to searching pinterest for art, sewing, interiors, and everything in between. I’ve been re-visiting pieces and photographs, working on my seascape (yes, finally tackling it again) and searching my photo file to create a ‘thank you’ piece for a kind health professional.

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That’s one tip I’d give anyone embarking on learning/developing artistic skills: compile a reference image folder. That way, when the feeling to draw/paint strikes, you only have to reach for your file for inspiration. Mine is divided into sections: places, people, flower/plants and misc. It also encourages an interest in photography, and is a way to capture a little part of your day. I often carry my digicam with me, even if I’m going somewhere familiar. The beauty of natural spaces and even man-made spaces/views is that things are constantly changing, so there’s a constant supply of new material to work with.

Sewing-wise I’ve been letting my creativity have free-rein, and have been creating a colourful panelled skirt with bright colours, beautiful patterns, and those little details that bring a piece together. I found the perfect fabric which I immediately saw the potential in the moment I set eyes on it.

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Although my clothing project is a little behind where I’d initially planned by this point, I’ve decided the best route to take is to take my time making and researching, and to try to enjoy the creative process, which is in keeping with my objective to be more ‘in the moment’.

 

 

First steps

It’s been a while since I posted, and although I’m not tip-top I feel as though I’m taking the first steps on a long, but ultimately positive one. After years of pain that has got increasingly worse, I finally have a diagnosis. I feel it’s a bitter-sweet thing, as now that I know what I’m dealing with I can tackle it head-on by researching my condition, and trying things that have helped others. I’m hopeful that physiotherapy will prove useful, and I’m keen to explore all avenues. In terms of my mental wellbeing I feel this is just as important as my physical wellbeing, and feel as though, for the first time in a long time, my mind is open to new ways of thinking and living my life. It’s early days, but I feel a change is afoot.

I’ve been keeping up with ‘Project Speedy Sketch‘ and am quite excited at the prospect of curating an online mini exhibition to share with you. I’ve also been experimenting with pens after stumbling upon some unbelievably detailed work that I never imagined could be achieved with this medium. To keep myself busy I’ve been taking my sketchbook along with me to various places keep my mind occupied and teach myself how to use this medium. I often use fineliner, and have tried brush pens in the past with no real breakthrough, but was inspired by how these talented artists (see end of post for awe-inspiring work) managed to achieve such works of art! I’ve been dabbling with Winsor & Newton promarkers and find myself currently ‘on the fence’ as to whether this is a medium I’ll pursue.

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In addition to this I’ve also been putting some finishing touches to my Spring/summer children’s clothing collection, and have donated some pieces to charity. As my health has been quite tricky this year, I’m gearing up for a ‘proper’ launch when I’m feeling stronger. I’m thrilled to bits with the tags I had made by RibbonReelPrinting on etsy, and as the story behind my clothing is such a significant part of what I do, I’ve added a tag with an explanation on to each item.

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I’ve also taken my Folksy shop off ‘holiday mode’ and re-listed some of my items. I’ve also added sections to make it easier to navigate. If you’re looking for a unique card for Father’s Day (don’t forget – June 18th!) then take a look at my cute illustrated keepsake card.

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I’ve got loads more so share with you over the coming months, so keep your eyes peeled for new book reviews, vegan recipes, and lots of inspiration. You can find a list of all previous reviews and inspiration here: List

To finish I’m leaving you with some ink work that will leave you amazed! (Click names to visit full online gallery)

Ekaterina Putyatina

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Ekaterina produces artwork that’s so realistic it could almost be a photo! Her attention to detail is what really drew me to her fantastic work.

 

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New to Deviantart.com but so far I like what I see! Each piece in Wheeler’s gallery is jam-packed with interesting detail – each time you look you notice something different.

 

 

Sydney Nielsen (SydneyNielsenArt)

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As soon as I saw Sydney’s gallery I was hooked! Her work is bursting with colour and life. This piece appealed to the side of me that loves pattern.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art vs Craft

There’s nothing new with me dividing my time between art and sewing, but as I’ve been working towards a deadline (in this case a birthday) the balance has been significantly tipped, and I’ve been dedicating as much time to embroidering and sewing as possible.

The giftee owns a camper van and is always complaining of cold hands (yet refuses to wear gloves!) and so the little grey cells in my head set about providing a solution…

Introducing the cuddly camper cushion! A personalised cushion to keep in the back of your van, with a pouch to store reusable hand warmers.

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And as I’m so fond of recycling/upcycling, I made use of fabric left over from December’s inspiration board tutorial and utilised studs rescued from a handbag destined for the landfill.

artyWhen I’ve had the chance I’ve been sneaking a few hours here and there to work on an illustration using graphitint, putting the pencils through their paces ready for next month’s review. The piece was inspired by some old books I came across whilst sorting through my grandmother’s belongings. She, like myself, has always appreciated the beauty of nature. One book in particular caught my eye – The Hamlyn Animal Encyclopedia. It may have a dingy, stained exterior, but inside lies a treasure trove of detailed illustrations.

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For my piece I chose animals and fungi native to Britain that I thought would compliment the limited colour palette of the tinted graphite and not deduct anything from their natural interest/beauty; the shape was as important as the palette, with the curved backs of the Pine Marten adding to the symmetry – something I use quite often in my work, particularly my paper cuts.

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Pine Marten’s used to be a regular sight in Wales in the past, but during the 19th and 20th century became all but extinct. However, conservationists are trying to prevent this, and in 2015 the Pine Marten Recovery Project (part of The Vincent Wildlife Trust) attempted to recover numbers in Wales by transporting some from Scotland.

Finally, as my regular readers will know, I like to discover and share inspiring artwork and artists, so this week I leave you with a mini collection I’ve named ‘Wonderful Wildlife’. Click the icon to be directed to each artist gallery/profile. Click image to view full-size.

Mountain Bluebird‘ by Pamela Earleywine

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About: Caroline’s Deviantart gallery is full of beautiful nature/wildlife inspired art work, as well as exquisite portraits and sketches.

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White Lies‘ by Tess Garman.

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About: This gallery is packed full of impressive use of colour, with animals being a core subject. She captures expression so well and there’s a boldness to her work.

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Fungus Study’ by Ruvell Saylon Ates.

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About: Ruvell’s gallery is an interesting mixing pot of studies such as the one above, fantasy, and the occasional photo. I’m especially keen on his fungi studies, including ‘ Black Morel Study‘.

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Coming next month: Special crafty tutorial to mark St David’s Day.

 

Talent on the doorstep

Last month, in the post titled ‘A cofession‘ I mentioned ‘One For Sorrow’ (my mixed media oil/graphite piece) was included in the winter exhibition at Y Galeri Caerffili. At the end of last month all entrants and their guests were invited to a presentation event with the mayor of the town, and, being the first time I’d seen the complete exhibition I was blown away by the talent I found myself faced with. I’m pleased to say my piece was highly commended, but what a tough decision the judges must have had choosing from so many unique and powerful pieces.

As he exhibition draws to a close, I want to introduce you to some of the gifted participants, and hope you’ll find their work as inspiring as I do. (Social media icons are clickable)

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‘Carousel Pony Painting’, oils, Elin Sian Blake.

 

Elin Sian Blake – Elin’s agricultural history is communicated strongly through her artwork, with work including beautiful Welsh landscapes and her favourite subject – Welsh Cobs and mountain ponies. She studied graphic design at the University of Glamorgan. Above is one of my favourite pieces from Elin’s online gallery.

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Neil Chard – Like Elin, Neil studied at the University of Glamorgan, studying Art Practice. As soon as I entered Y Galeri Caerfilli I noticed Neil’s atmospheric portrait. Neil’s work is detailed and you can see the real skill behind each piece. Above is his piece ‘Face in Recession’ in oils.

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‘Tide in at Polperro’ – mixed media, Shirley Fursland

 

Shirley Fursland – Shirley describes herself as an ‘amateur artist’ who ‘enjoys using acrylic and mixed media’. Shirley’s exhibited piece stood out to me as I thought the way you could see some of the newspaper print on the roof of one of the houses gave it a real quirky feel. Her pieces are wonderful examples of how texture can be used to create interest. You’ll find contact details for Shirley on her website.

aheadOn the 14th I’ll be bringing you my ‘monthly tutorial’, but with a twist! As it’s valentine’s day we’ll be showing some love for sea life (as well as ourselves – your heart will thank you for this healthier version) by whipping up some vegan sushi. Over the coming year, as promised, I’ll be replacing some arty/crafty tutorial slots with animal-friendly cookery. But don’t worry, I’ll still be including some creative ones, starting with a mini sewing project in honour of St David’s Day on the 1st March.

I’m also working on a couple of reviews that’ll appeal to art lovers, and will be scoping out a promising-looking exhibition.

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