Thursday, 20 September 2012

The Last Day of Summer?

It is well known that I loathe the cold, and Winter. There is some pleasantness in Autumn, but after that, as far as I am concerned it is a matter of 'getting through it' until Spring arrives. Having some minor circulation problems the cold also causes me health problems, and increasingly, pain in my hands. 

And it is not just the cold, everything I love goes away; butterflies, flowers, pottering around in the garden picking salad veg and strolling about barefoot. But the worst thing is the lack of light, uninspiring for painting, difficult for photography and making me yawn at 8pm. The days are shorter and like some kind of furry creature I just want to eat pies and sleep.

So when last Saturday I got back from teaching my Art Class to find an appointment-free afternoon, and boyfriend trying to stop himself prodding and fiddling with the lime plaster he had just applied to the fireplace, I said "Let's go somewhere!" The weather was beautiful and it really did feel like this might be the last 'proper' summer day.

Boyfriend had a suggestion: A couple of weeks ago he had been to Leigh-on-Sea near Southend to pick up a second-hand dishwasher we purchased on eBay (Beko, nearly new £53 - bargain!), and had come back enthused with the local coastline.

So off we went, only to find that the local Regatta was on, and half of Essex had turned up:

Finding a parking place was tricky, and the area next to the coast was heaving with people. I do like a market, but this was more the place to find rip off band merchandise and dodgy burgers than vintage finds or local treasures. We fought our way though the locals, catching glimpses of a calmer scene between the local shops and pubs:

Every few minutes a train thundered past, as the railway is very close to the coastline:

And we snapped lots of interesting boat pictures, both big boats...

And smaller ones...

And the most impressive one of all, the home of the Essex Yacht Club apparently! 


Finally we wandered up through steep local parkland and got a great view of the evening light on the water with heathers and plants in the foreground:

It was a great farewell to Summer, and as we drove home the inevitable text message arrived from the teen, who had just arrived home: Where was everyone, and what time would dinner be ready? I waited until we got back before breaking the news that we had already eaten and that perhaps at 17 years old she might manage to cook herself a little something. As she muttered her displeasure and stomped off to raid the fridge of free food and heat it up with free gas, at least she could console herself that the dishwasher would take care of the dirty dishes...

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Beach Huts revisited


Above is one of my most popular paintings, and my biggest sources of regret. 

When I started painting, I just shoved things in frames and attempted to sell them. Sometimes to my surprise, this worked and the paintings went off to new homes. Encouraged I shoved more things in frames and displayed them in more places. This gung ho attitude was, of course, doomed to failure. I began to forget which paintings went where, and begun to feel sad that I couldn't look at the ones that had sold anymore. 

So, systems were put in place; reference numbers, delivery notes, and out came my camera (not a very good one) to photograph the paintings before they sold. More recently in addition to being photographed, my work is professionally scanned, enabling me to turn it into a limited edition print, a card, tea towel or anything I have the time and money to arrange.

I have often said that if I painted beach huts from morning to night I would be a rich person, their popularity never wanes, and the image at the top of the page gets top views on any site I put it on. Sadly though, the low definition image is not good enough to use for prints, and the original painting sold through a gallery in Bury St Edmunds a couple of years ago.

So, business being rather slow this time of year, I decided to unleash the power of beach huts, and revisit the subject of Southwold:

My modest amount of facebook followers seem to like this new painting, but boyfriend, wandering into the studio said "It's not as good as the other one". He is a constant source of encouragement in my life and has unwavering faith in my abilities, unfortunately he is also a man of absolute truth. You ask him "Does my bum look big in this?" at your own risk, because he simply doesn't understand that women do not want a careful assesment and honest answer to this question.

Whether it is better or worse than the first one is hard to say, I could fall back on that old chestnut; 'all art is subjective', but at the end of the day I am fairly happy with it, and not one to repeat stupid mistakes, it is off to my printers for a high definition scan tomorrow.

After that I shall wait to see if the desire of the buying public for all things beach-hutty is still as strong as ever!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

A little online collaboration

Back in the spring, when the idea of self publishing some of my illustrations was just formulating in the back of my mind I received a lovely email from a seller on Etsy called Joy. Joy originally came from Ireland, later moving over to the USA with her husband.

At the time I was toying with the idea (and still am) of self adhesive sheets with images on that could be cut out and used for decoupage. Anyhow, Joy was asking if any of my work might be available in 1 inch stickers, and a little investigation showed me that crafters use these for a number of projects. In America they are often called 'bottle caps' and are used to decorate anything from jewellery pendants to badges and, I assume, bottle caps!

So when I had my first stickers made I sent some over to Joy for free, hoping she would give me some valuable feedback:

Joy was pleased with the stickers, and in return sent me this lovely pendant she had made from one of the moth stickers:

I was of course, delighted with it, and it reminded me of what a lovely business I am in, and how special the people are. After years of working in offices, with their petty backbiting, gossip and general unpleasantness, it is so lovely to be away from all that. Of course in every walk of life you sometimes meet grumpy people, but generally, other people in the arts and crafts world are generous, helpful and always happy to cooperate and achieve something together. 

I am particularly enjoying being on the Etsy site at present, it works wonderfully well, and is a dream to use, which cannot be said of many places on the internet. I am also getting better at taking photos, helped along by my stash of still life items, recently augmented by a gift from a friend of a ton of vintage china. Some of it was broken, and will be used for mosaics, but some of it was just too beautiful to hit with a hammer, so I am making full use of it as photo props. It must be working, because I have sold 2 of these cards online this week:

Now I just have to photograph and list the other cards, and hope that smaller sales such as these (and hopefully some nice feedback) will give people the confidence to buy larger items like prints online. 

Onwards and upwards, and who knows who I will meet along the way!