Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Christmas

Me, Hannah and Sally at Roz's surprise birthday party!
I've not written a blog post for a couple of weeks, the main reason being how busy we all are in the run up to Christmas. Having recently attended a surprise birthday party in fancy dress - which was a first for me, actually, followed by my own birthday which on included watching one of my step-grand-daughters in a dance show and then singing in our Musical Society's Christmas Concert, this week is no less busy! After spending a couple of hours on Sunday morning tidying up, cleaning and putting the chairs out at the theatre between us, Keith and I were running the final rehearsal last night for the Junior Section's performance at our annual "Oscars Night" on Wednesday. Straight after that we rehearsed (rather badly, I have to say) for the adult section's next play. Tonight, I am singing again in our second Christmas Concert with Hull Musical Society, tomorrow night is the aforementioned Oscars Night, Thursday will be spent building the set ready for the January play at BADS, Friday is allocated last minute shopping and wrapping presents - although I've yet to wrap the gifts for the children at drama for tomorrow night, having bought them on Sunday.

I wrote our Christmas cards on Sunday evening/Monday morning - posted yesterday. This year I've only made a few, having had less chance to do any more, so the rest of them, which I bought, are charity based. I may even stop sending them next year - lots of people donate to charity instead or simply do not send them, but I must admit I still like to receive a card through the letterbox!

Last night, Keith took the photo we will be using in the poster for our next play - he is currently manipulating it ready for when I design the poster a bit later on.We are performing "Fringe Benefits" which is a comedy by Peter Yeldham and Donald Churchill. It is the very first play I performed in at BADS nearly 23 years ago - this time round I am playing one of the older wives instead of the scantily clad young female I played back then!. Where did those 23 years go???

On Saturday 22nd I will be at my last craft fair of the year- at the UpMarket in Prospect Centre, Hull. I have not yet made any new stock so my table may be spread out a fair bit! Sunday 23rd we will be looking after my 3 year old niece, and plan to take her to see the Christmas Tree display in our village church in Preston. It's always an excellent display and I'm sure she will really appreciate it this year as she is really, really excited about Christmas!

Christmas Eve may be a relaxing day, although I'm sure I will still have some presents to wrap and we will probably spend some time planning our festive quizzes for when the family are here over Christmas!

I will leave you with the reading I have prepared for the concert tonight, considering it's apt:


The first thing that came to my mind when I was asked for Christmas memories from my childhood was an overwhelming sense of excitement. I think I felt it more than my brothers and sister because my birthday is only ten days before the big event itself.

Specific memories of mine relate to the pleasure of giving gifts and the disappointment of one year in particular – the year I desperately wanted a horse for Christmas. Watching Black Beauty on the television probably influenced my desire, and I couldn’t understand why I didn’t get one. I thought it would be easy to keep a horse in our little back garden (we lived in a terraced house) and had vivid visions of me trotting along down the ten-foot and round the block on my personal steed!  I remember Mum trying her best to explain how impractical (and costly) the idea was, but it took me a while to appreciate that fact.

I particularly loved giving gifts to family members, especially ones I’d made myself. I started a tradition of making sweets to give as gifts, and look back with such happy memories of spending time in the kitchen with my Mum to make them. I would create batches of peppermint creams and coconut ice. I never liked coconut ice, but loved making it – particularly the part where I added the food colouring. Mum encouraged us to think of presents for others that we believed they would appreciate, and for some reason I will never forget being proud of a pair of red, spiral shaped candles that I spent 19pence on for an aunty!

Food and family were a big part of my childhood Christmas – combining the two for Christmas dinner when our Grand-dad, Grandma, Nanna, Great Uncle Fred & Aunt Olive all joined us. I honestly don’t know how we all squeezed round the table in those days, or how my Mum managed to cater for everyone, but she did so without fail and our Christmas days were happy times – until the arrival of the sprouts. I’ve always disliked them; despite trying them in different ways (disguised in a cheese sauce, for example) and my Christmas dinners will probably always be sprout free!

I have two brothers and a sister, so we used to share the opening of the advent calendar – although I always opened it on my birthday, whether it was my turn or not! On Christmas morning, it was usually a race between me and my younger brother, Daniel, to get downstairs first to see if “he’d been”! We continued this up to the time we were adults, and that excitement is still there when I wake up on Christmas morning.

I can clearly remember one or two of my favourite presents from my childhood – in fact I’ve still got one of them now. “Connect 4” was my main present in 1974 and I have played it again recently with my 3 year old niece, Charlotte. This game of strategy and planning is somewhat simplified with her, however – I think her favourite part is letting the counters out at the bottom when the game is finished (or more often than not, whenever she feels like it).  I also remember getting a “Potter’s Wheel” one year, which I was so pleased with, but I think I expected to be creating masterpieces in my first attempt, so was quite disappointed with my misshapen mound of mud! My other memorable gift was a creative game called “Construct o Straws”, which I’m pleased to see you can still get today. This game involved connecting many flexible plastic straws together to make as many different shapes and constructions as you could. As with most of our childhood games, we usually shared them, and I think we all got a lot of pleasure from that game. 


 
We used to put our Christmas tree up and decorate the house with streamers and/or tinsel as close to my birthday as possible – that’s a tradition I’ve maintained to this day. The whole family were involved, I loved arranging the little felt elves on the Christmas tree. These elves were three dimensional, with porcelain faces (I think) and long, spindly legs that could be tucked under their arms at the front.

Christmas seemed to go on forever when we were children, and there would nearly always be some sort of party on New Year’s Eve at our house or a neighbour’s house. If it was held at our house, we got to stay up really late and Daniel and I soon worked out that if we were quiet enough and stayed under the dining table, we could stay up even later – out of sight, out of mind, I think!  I always remember loving it when my Nanna started to play the piano at these parties – most of the songs I didn’t know at all, but the adults did, and used to sing along with her. Over the years I got to know the songs – a lot of war-time classics such as “We’ll meet again”  “The White Cliffs of Dover” and  “White Christmas”. Although I didn’t really like them at the time, when I hear them now, I feel quite emotional.

Christmas in the 1970s wasn’t complete without watching the TV “Specials” as a family. We loved Morecambe & Wise, The Two Ronnies, Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em and The Generation Game. All firm favourites in our house, and in those days, I actually liked watching Sir Bruce Forsyth on the TV, so much so that I longed to go on “The Generation Game” with my Dad, but it never happened.

If I had to summarise my childhood Christmas memories in one word, it would be “magical”. That’s what Christmas should be for children and I’m glad to say that mine always were.


Monday, 26 November 2012

3 out of 4 new notebooks sold!

I've just finished four new painted notebooks, three of which are already sold. These seem to be getting more and more popular as Christmas comes around again - I suppose they are ideal little stocking fillers for all ages.

Here are the four I've completed:

Glitterati

Night Vision

Starburst

Victoria
I've sold the bottom three - the top one, Glitterati is not yet sold, but I would imagine before too long it will be, as I am at several more craft fairs before Christmas - the next one is on Saturday December 1st from 12 till 5pm at the New Life Church Hall, Bridlington Avenue, Hull. In aid of the charity Colombia Childcare, which helps impoverished children in  Colombia. Entrance to this event is £1.50 which includes a mince pie, tea or coffee. Link to the event on Facebook is here.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Autumn Trees Painting

Yesterday I did an image search on Google with the phrase "Autumn Trees Paintings" and found a copious cornucopia of creativity! OK, I realise I've overdone the abundance in that sentence, but I really did see a lot of tree paintings in my results! I love trees, and representations of them in any form are appealing to me. I particularly like ancient, gnarled trunks with bare branches against a sunset sky!

Here's one that particularly caught my eye with the colours and texture within. It's painted by Carmen Guedez and I just love the way she's painted the leaves on the tree by applying paint directly from the tube to create a very 3-dimensional effect.


I contacted Carmen to ask her permission for posting the image on my blog and I'm happy to say that she has allowed me to do so. Having looked at her web-site I am sure I will be a regular visitor there now - she has so many beautiful paintings that really do appeal to me! You can see for yourself by clicking on this link, which will open in a new window: Carmen Guedez


Tuesday, 13 November 2012

I Know Him So Well.....

I've had my weekly singing lesson this morning, and my teacher has decided that as well as the solo performance I am rehearsing for at the show (which is now re-scheduled for February 3rd 2013), that I could do a duet with another one of her private students, also called Helen! I immediately suggested "I Know Him So Well" because I really like it - and after singing it through with Stephanie (my teacher) a few times, I am glad she approved of my choice. However, I can't help but think about the hilarious parody of it created by French & Saunders, which will always make me laugh - when Dawn French kept coming in too early, then held a note for far too long, and finally forgot the lyrics and just made up words!!  If you haven't seen the French & Saunders sketch, and know the song already, it's worth watching:

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

UpMarket in Prospect Centre, Hull

I'm pleased to report that after a successful run of Oklahoma last week, I am now preparing for the newly managed pop up market in the centre of Hull this coming Saturday, 10th November. It is being organised by the management of this busy shopping centre in a bid to utilise the empty area known as the atrium. Once a thriving food court, it now plays host to a variety of events on weekends, this pop-up market is to take place on the 2nd Saturday of every month and will show-case a wide variety of local stalls in order to attract as wide a customer base as possible. Run by Eve Lomax, who has negotiated with the management team, it promises to be a very successful event. Eve has had several years of experience in running events, and runs her own business creating children's wall art on canvas along with cotton bags of various styles which are designed to suit almost any occasion. In particular, her newly created Christmas sacks are proving very popular. You can visit Eve's page, Crafty Beggars,  on Facebook.

With over 40 stalls booked for the first of these markets, there should be plenty to choose from. I am preparing some Christmas Tree Decorations - examples below, as well as some more cup-cake key rings/bag charms,  and my latest cup-cake trinket boxes will also be on display.

If you know anyone who lives in the Hull or East Riding of Yorkshire area, please do let them know about this new venture - I will probably be buying one or two early Christmas gifts myself!

If you are on Facebook, you can join the event to show your support, and invite friends as well by clicking on the link here.

Here are a few examples of the new Christmas tree decorations I've been creating for the weekend:





Monday, 29 October 2012

Oklahoma!



It's show-time again this week for me. Hull Musical Society are performing the classic musical Oklahoma at the Hull Collegiate School, Tranby Lane, Anlaby, Hull. Performance dates are Thursday 1st November, Friday 2nd November and Saturday 3rd November at 7.30pm. There is an additional matinee performance on Saturday 3rd November commencing at 2.30pm.  I will be singing in the chorus, so am not missed so much if I'm not at rehearsal - which is a good job, since I've missed a couple this time due to illness, not something I like to do!! Anyhow,  yesterday was the last rehearsal held at my other Society's home, the Bilton Theatre. We've been rehearsing there on Sundays for the past 4 weeks, as an additional rehearsal to the weekly Tuesday nights in Sutton. As we are so near the production now, many of us did the rehearsal in our costumes, which always helps to create the right mood and focus for the show. Here are a few shots taken at the rehearsal (thanks to Andy Collinson):

You can just see me on the extreme right of this shot!
My face is hidden, but I'm 2nd on the left here!!!!
Neal Edlin and Richard Foot, playing Ali Hakim & Will Parker, love rivals of Ado Annie.


In case you don't know Oklahoma, it is the classic musical, which is the story of Laurey and the two rivals for her affections: Curly, a cowboy, and Jud, the hired farmhand. The play takes place in 1906 in an Indian territory of the American West during the time when Oklahoma was established as a state. It tackles class issues between the farmers and the cowmen in the still-developing, rugged landscape of a state in its infancy as characters struggle to find hope, love and the fulfilment of "the American Dream." It is also a romantic tale of love. Curly and Laurey both have feelings for each other but have difficulty expressing it because of their stubbornness. Just to spite Curly, Laurey accepts an invitation to the local dance from the evil Jud Fry. Eventually, Curly and Jud duel it out, with Jud ending up falling on his own knife and dying. Meanwhile, Will Parker has returned early from his trip to Kansas City. Unfortunately, his girlfriend, Ado Annie, just can't seem to say no to other men. All turns out well in the end as both couples end up happily married.


Tickets are priced at £7 for adults and £5 for children and can be booked in advance by ringing Jo Blanchard on 07879817583, or bought on the door each performance.

Tomorrow night (Tuesday) we will be rehearsing at the venue for the first time, then we have a Dress Rehearsal on Wednesday prior to the 4-performance run. Tonight, I will be rehearsing for the next play at Bilton - which will take place in January. So this week is a busy one, I guess Sunday will be a very lazy day indeed!

There's something about being involved in any team event, whether it's a play or a musical, that I love, despite any drawbacks that you may encounter along the way (there's always one or two!). I think it's the feeling of belonging and all being in it together that I like - and the fact that you share the buzz of performing with others who all enjoy it, too.

Please do try and get to see the show if you are in the area and have an interest in musicals, it is great value for money and an entirely different way to spend your evening (or afternoon, if you like the idea of a matinee).

Monday, 22 October 2012

Sketches and old watercolours

On Saturday I dug out my large sketchbook ready for a Life Drawing session organised by  the Facebook Group Hull Art, of which I am a member. I've always wanted to do some life drawing, but all the sessions I've seen advertised in the past have been on evenings when I am rehearsing for plays or musicals - I guess I should perhaps do less, but I like variety in my life and to keep busy! Anyway, I was actually looking forward to this event, but also felt slight trepidation as you do whenever you deal with something new in your life (well, I do, that is). As it turned out, I needn't have worried - despite the fact that the night before I'd had a dream that I'd turned up without any drawing materials so ended up doing the sketching on my hand with a ball point pen!!!!!

It was a surprise to learn that the organiser was also one of the models - I guess I should've really worked it out but I'm sometimes a bit naiive!  The session was untutored, which made it less of an ordeal and much more relaxed for all concerned. There were about 15 people there - we were able to sketch a male model in 3 different  poses during the first hour, then after the break, we concentrated on the female model and spent the remaining time sketching her. I found that the first couple of sketches of mine were really poor - it's been so long since I actually drew anything from life that I'm out of practise! However, by the third one, I was getting into it and produced this drawing of the male model:

After a break for tea/coffee and a catch up with someone I happened to know from years ago, we started the second half of the session with the female model and I was by now much happier about my drawing.
The plan is for these sessions to be a regular thing - if not weekly, then at least every fortnight. I will definitely be attending more in the future - it's such a good discipline to maintain, as you are forced to really look at what you're drawing, rather than what you think you are drawing.  I know I've got a long way to go before I'm accomplished in this area, but practise makes perfect and that's why I'm planning to go to more of these sessions. Hopefully, some of them will be tutored, so I will get valuable input and advice.

I tried to concentrate on the negative shapes whenever possible, as it's harder to draw the line of an arm, say, in relation to the torso and much easier to look at the space in between those two areas in order to get the shape right.

Having got my large sketchbook out, I discovered a couple of old watercolour paintings that I'd done, so thought I'd just share them on here. I really don't know if I will ever do anything with them (such as frame them or turn them into greetings cards) but here they are:



Saturday, 20 October 2012

Mini cat paintings sold...

I've recently sold these two mini cat paintings, so I will be creating more along the same lines, as I think they are going to be a popular choice for Christmas gifts.

"Casper" 
"Prudence"

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Betterware buy!

I have just received this lightweight and colourful plastic cake stand from Betterware at a very reasonable price of £5.99. I bought it to display my mini cup-cake trinket boxes at craft fairs. Now I need to make sure I have enough to fill it for the next time I'm at an event! It is easily dismantled and therefore easy to transport, too! I wouldn't recommend it for anything heavy, however - but it's ideal for these little treasures!


You can order one for yourself online here, but I placed my order with my local representative a couple of weeks ago so didn't have to pay postage.

I've just noticed, they also have a metal stand on offer at the moment - reduced to £5.49, so cheaper than the plastic one - but probably not suitable for my designs, although cake-makers may find it useful!

Friday, 12 October 2012

Blog name change....

Just in case you'd not noticed, I have now changed the name of my blog to "Arty Aitch". I originally called it "All things Arty" before I'd set up my Facebook page as Arty Aitch. Now that I am known as Arty Aitch for art and craft related items, I thought I may as well give my blog the same name.  If you are a follower of my blog, or have my blog listed on your page under "all things arty", please change it to Arty Aitch for me. Thanks!


Oh, and here is where I will be tomorrow from 11am until 3pm. :)


Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Cup-cakes in progress....

I'm currently painting and/or embellishing lots of little wooden cup-cake key rings/ bag charms in order to fill up my new display board in time for the Craft Fair this weekend. Here are a few shots of some that are hanging up to dry mid-paint, or ready for their second coat and finally some that are now completed and hanging on the display board!


I will be selling these at the "Made and Sold In Hull" event at The Marist Church Hall, Cottingham Road, Hull, between 11am and 3pm on Saturday 13th October. There will also be a Multi Cultural Market taking place in the adjoining rooms with free food tasting - samples of Indian, Chinese, Russian and African food on offer not to mention the 38 stalls taking part in the Made and Sold in Hull Craft Fair. This time, there is also a pamper room at the fair, where you can get mini treatments at great prices!



Sunday, 7 October 2012

Autumn painting....

I've just handed over my latest mini painting to a friend who wanted something with autumnal colours  - any design - what a great way to start a painting, I love it! My friend was happy with the result, so I can share the image with you now.

"Berry Fall"

I am happy to consider any requests for a mini painting like this - they make super little stocking fillers and are easy to co-ordinate with your own particular colour scheme if you so desire. You can contact me on here or via my Facebook Page, Arty Aitch, for more details.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Cupcake Display Board

I've recently finished designing and painting a new display board in the shape of a cup-cake in order to display my little wooden cup-cake key-rings/bag charms. Keith cut the board out for me once I'd drawn out the basic shape, and attached the stand at the back, then drilled in 40 holes ready for inserting some square hooks on which to hang said cup-cakes!

Obviously I now have the task of painting all those plain wooden key-rings, but hopefully that should be achieved before my next craft fair, which is the Made and Sold in Hull Market on Saturday 13th October - you can see the event details on the Facebook page by clicking on this link here.


Friday, 28 September 2012

"Maybe This Time"

I'm excited and quite nervous at the prospect of a new event that's coming up for me in November. I will be singing a solo piece at a show organised by my singing teacher! It took me long enough to join a Musical Society, and when I had to audition for that (3 years ago) I was so nervous that I just sang the song with my head bowed down looking at the sheet music - it's a wonder anyone could even hear me, never mind enjoy listening to the performance! I've always liked singing, have sung in choirs at school and along to my favourite songs in musicals that I grew up with, but always lacked the confidence in my singing voice to sing in front of other people unless in a group.  Therefore I decided to do something about this and earlier this year I started having singing lessons. I'm learning so much about the techniques as well as improving my confidence so hopefully by the time my solo performance is here I will be ready for it!

My teacher, Stephanie Bain, has helped me enormously with my confidence (although I still only practice at home if I'm alone in the house) and I'm sure she has guided me in choosing the song I'm going to be singing. I usually sing Soprano with the musical society, but have been singing a fair few songs in my lower range, which is perhaps what first introduced me to the song "Maybe This Time" from Cabaret. I had a selection of songs that I quite fancied singing, which included "On My Own" from Les Miserables, but when I tried to sing that at one of my lessons, I had to stop half-way through because I started crying! That particular song was then crossed off the list, and I tried others - "As Long As He Needs Me" from Oliver, "I Dreamed A Dream" from Les Miserables, "The Sound of Music" from The Sound of Music and "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" from Evita. Although I didn't think I had a favourite amongst those, every time I thought about my choices, "Maybe This Time" kept jumping out at me, and I couldn't get the tune out of my head!

Two weeks ago I tried out my song choices using a backing track - again, something I'd never done before. Karaoke machines have always scared the life out of me so I've never been on one! I then whittled it down to either "Maybe This Time" or "As Long As He Needs Me". By the time my lesson came round last week, I knew I wanted to sing "Maybe This Time" and we started working on it. When Stephanie first suggested to me that I sing a solo piece in her show, I naively had visions of me singing a sweet tune to her piano, perhaps something similar to something I would perform as part of a group. Ha! I should've known different, really - I will be trying to make the song unique to me (which I never realised you could do - or perhaps I just didn't understand how it worked, more like), belting it out when needed and holding back in other areas to give the performance more shape. I can understand how boring it would be if I just stood upright and sang, so I will be making it more of an acting performance as well hopefully - using a microphone and backing track. Since I've never used a microphone for singing before either, that will be something new to learn!

One of the main reasons I started having singing lessons was to improve my confidence so that I would feel able to audition for a part in a show - rather than spend all the time in the chorus. This time last year, there's no way I would've even considered singing a solo piece, so my lessons have started to take effect already. I have learnt so much from Stephanie, not just about my own ability, but lots of tips on breathing properly (from your stomach rather than your chest), how to make your voice resonate more (resonance is volume without shouting) by using a simple exercise, and the difference between your head voice and your chest voice (which I didn't even know about, although I'd heard the term). Your chest voice is usually the one you use for singing in a lower register and you can feel your chest vibrating when you sing in your chest voice - as you progress up the register, you switch to your head voice and the vibration is then found in your head (not surprisingly) - most probably at the bridge of your nose. Having singing lessons is helping me to make the transition between the two voices as imperceptible as possible.

The big event takes place on November 18th. I may be writing more about my progress as the weeks go by - this week I have been practising at home with the backing track and so far I've at least managed to learn the lyrics, which is actually quite good for me - I'm usually rubbish at lyrics, even though I can learn pages of a script for a play with no problem at all!!!


Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Cupcake week?

I'm sure I read somewhere that it is National Cupcake Week this week - or it could have been last week - but whichever, I thought I'd show my homage to the event (which is a completely new thing to me) by posting pics of these little cup-cake key-rings/bag charms that I recently sold. They are proving popular at local craft fairs, for £1.50 each, and friends have started to buy them as well now.





Sunday, 16 September 2012

"Blossom" - painted and parted with in one day!

Just thought I'd share my most up-to-date mini painting with you. I started this little creation on Friday, finished it Saturday morning and said goodbye to it Saturday afternoon. That's the shortest time I've ever owned one of my creations, I think! I didn't sell it, as I created it for a raffle prize in a coffee morning (or rather, afternoon) that was being held to raise funds for Hull Musical Society, of which I am a member.



I named it "Blossom" and was rather hoping it wouldn't be left on the table at the end - always embarrassing if nobody really wants something that you have invested time in! However, I needn't have worried, as Ros and Andy won it, both members of the Society, and they were genuinely pleased with it!

I also donated one of my hand painted trinket boxes, "Pretty In Pink" as a raffle prize, and that went to the organiser's grand-daughter, who seemed pleased also.



As for myself, well of course I had to win a prize on the raffle - I'm extremely disappointed if I don't win - and I selected some delicious-smelling tubs of body butter. Sounds odd, butter for your body, but they are very creamy and really do moisturise your skin well. I gave one of the tubs to my sister today, and I will see if anyone else I know in the family or amongst my friends would like any of the others - I certainly won't use them all, as there were 5 tubs in the pack. My favourite is the Brazil Nut scented one. My sister took the Almond scented one, and the remaining ones are Mango, Cocoa Butter and Bergamot.




Friday, 31 August 2012

New mini paintings - cartoon cats.

I've been inspired to paint some cartoon styled animals recently - it started with a cartoon dog, which I painted for a donation as a prize in an event at Driffield Showground on Bank Holiday Monday - I went on to paint 3 more of those dogs in a very similar, but not exact way. Then I started thinking about doing cats. I've always thought I couldn't really do cartoon paintings, but having positive feedback has encouraged me to try some cats. A fellow stall-holder at a craft fair (Lynda Mills of Wrapped In Style) suggested that I produced some cats on my mini canvases way back in March, but I wasn't sure at the time - I've now created two and have been sketching out several more in different poses. Here's the two I've now completed, as yet un-named. I will be asking my Facebook fans/likers to help me name them, as it's interesting to see what varied suggestions are thrown in!





Monday, 27 August 2012

Life's Little Ups and Downs..

Life is full of these - or so it seems to me, anyway. I have always thought that you actually need the lows in life in order to fully appreciate the highs.Some low points are obviously worse than others and take longer to recover from than others, but all the same it's nice when you get a high point after a low - this is what happened to me last weekend.

I'd done another event - part of a Family Fun Day - and not sold very much plus received some odd, rather thoughtless remarks about my work. Looking back, it was nothing, really, but at the time I felt quite upset about it. Therefore I was delighted to receive notification the next day that one of my painted wooden photo frames was featured in a blog all about sequins. The lovely Vixxie, who saw the frame on my Etsy site, wrote the blog, which you can read for yourself by clicking on the link Matin Lapin. It may only be a small thing, but somehow when another artisan selflessly promotes your work for you, it means so much. Thanks Vixxie, I really appreciate it!

Here's my painting of "Life's Little Ups and Downs" which was inspired by a series of such last year!


Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Bin Buddies Blog Spot: Art of Recycling Exhibition

I recently met two of the girls from this team of  LifeStyle members - Katie was on holiday at the time, but I was very impressed with the skills and dedication shown by Evie and Liv so far. Their theme for the project has been recycling and last year they concentrated on making several clocks using materials that were destined for the rubbish bin. They have continued with that idea this year, but also have created some stunning pieces of art using recycled materials. The girls came to chat with me, supposedly to ask my advice on what else they could create for their exhibition - but to be honest, I think they could've given me more advice based on their efforts so far. I did at least give them some materials to use, play around with and some ideas for smaller items that they could possibly sell at the exhibition. Unfortunately, I will be busy myself this coming Sunday, as I'm selling my creations at a Fun Day in aid of HERIB (Hull & East Riding Institute for the Blind). However, I will hopefully be able to see the girls when they start to put their exhibition together at some point on Saturday. Here's the link to their blog page detailing the exhibition.


Bin Buddies Blog Spot: Art of Recycling Exhibition: We are holding an exhibition of art made from recycled materials - this is in aid of Special Smiles, to fund a trip to Honeysuckle Farm for ...

Sunday, 8 July 2012

The way I see it....

Today's post is how I view life when I'm doing a craft fair. It's a strange thing, as you are thrust into a room of other people that sometimes you've never met before (which is a big deal for me, trust me!) and that you are, in effect, competing with for customers. I always, always get nervous in the run-up to a craft fair, in the same way that I always get nervous just before performing on stage either in a play or a musical show. I think it's to do with the fear of the unknown - you don't know what the other stall-holders are going to be like, whether anyone will actually buy any of your work, or even whether anyone will look at it as they glide past!

Usually, I can gauge when someone is going to buy something from me - and my heart starts beating just a little bit faster when that happens! Last weekend at the event on Victoria Dock, I had such a moment when a man bought the latest painted jewellery box, "Blythe".  He made a purposeful move to the trinket boxes in general, made a comment about one of the wardrobe-styled ones taking a long time to do, then when I mentioned that the largest one cost more than the rest due to the different compartments and the size etc. he simply said "I'll have this one please".



There were no more incidents last week, other than a couple of children roughly handling my boxes. Some children are sooooo clumsy (and have filthy hands, too) and it's really hard to know how to respond, especially when their parent is with them. I don't want to stop people touching my work - that is often how people decide on buying something, but maybe I could get a sign put up saying that any damages must be paid for - although I've yet to see that on another stall so maybe others have a different way of dealing with it.

Yesterday, at the MadeandsoldinHull fair, which was a great success for all involved, I believe, the sweetest thing for me was the little girl who initially came to each stall with her friend and asked if we had anything for 9p. About 20 minutes later, she returned and the amount had gone up to 20p, then 21p and finally she had £1 in her hand hoping for a bargain. I suppose I could have given her one of my little cup-cake charms for £1 instead of £1.50, but she wasn't really interested in anything that small anyway so doubt she would have accepted it! She turned down a ring on my neighbour's stall for £1 so she was obviously fussy about what she wanted also!

There are times when you wonder why you put yourself through the process of standing/sitting there for hours at a times only to overhear rude remarks about your work. However, thankfully, yesterday was not one of those occasions and I thoroughly enjoyed the day. It was particularly nice to meet some people that I'd only previously spoken to on-line.

Overheard remarks, even though at times they are upsetting (or at least they may dent your ego a tad), are often also amusing afterwards. I remember some from previous fairs I've attended - one woman asked the woman she was with (ignoring me completely) if my mini paintings on easels were "boxes". The woman with her said "No, they're just plaques".  Plaques are obviously lower down the chain of artistic creations, boxes are perhaps slightly higher up, but God knows where mini paintings are! Another woman asked me about the same paintings, squinted at them and said "what are they, then, just ornaments?"

Some people just don't realise that what they say to each other at their side of the table can actually be heard by us at this side! I've often heard remarks such as "Oh, I could do that easily" and "you can buy them in such-and-such for only £2 and paint them yourself" . I just think to myself "yes, but I'm actually doing it, not just saying that I could!" . I just try to spend my time smiling at people and saying hello when I make eye contact with them. Some people just blank you out altogether, however - a customer recently seemed to be taking a lot of interest in my mini paintings, as though she was trying to work out whether they were painted or not - so I just said "these are all hand painted by me" to which she just looked at me and walked off!

I had an unusual conversation yesterday with a man who is running a summer club for Youths and he was looking at my painted notebooks as inspiration for a craft project for them. He took some photos of the ones on display (asked my permission first) and we had quite a chat about how I created them, he thanked me, took my business card and went away. Several minutes later he came back and bought one of the books so that he would have an example to show them before they started. That sort of transaction is always such a pleasure - I feel good that I've hopefully helped someone else and I also made a sale out of it, which is an added bonus!

This is the book he bought - "Royal Crest".

The worst thing about doing fairs is when people just walk straight past your stall without even trying to feign interest. Yes, I realise that everyone has different interests, but to be polite, you'd think just the briefest of looks wouldn't hurt, would it? Perhaps us creative souls just need to switch off when that happens, and concentrate on the people that are interested, but it's really hard sometimes!

I am lucky in that my husband always supports me by coming along and sitting with me, even if he's the only man there (which does sometimes happen) and I really don't know if I could do it alone - so I really do appreciate the fact that he's there with me. He must get bored, I know - he brings a book to read and sometimes goes outside for a walk if it's a nice day, but I don't suppose there are many men that would endure such things - or that have the time to do so.

I sold 3 photo frames yesterday, a cup-cake key ring and a cup-cake trinket box as well, so all in all a really good day. The event organisers (Lucy Lines and Leni Bratten) were very friendly, extremely well organised and knew everyone by name when it came to saying goodbye at the end of the day. I always make a point of thanking the organiser at the end of any fair (provided I can find them) - even if I've not made a profit. I know from experience what a thankless task it can be, so try to show my appreciation especially when it has been organised so well.

Today, our 17th wedding anniversary, incidentally, we are off to a rehearsal for the junior production, followed by a Youth section rehearsal, so will not be back home till gone 7 at least. The weather is rubbish today, so it's not too bad that we are indoors rehearsing for a lot of the time!

I think I may spend more time jotting down the comments from potential customers, and collecting those from others to share in the future - it seems everyone hears something!


Friday, 29 June 2012

Grandadshouses Craft Fair

I am busy preparing for my next craft fair this Saturday - which is being organised by Grandadshouses. They are a husband and wife team who make dolls' houses, garages and farms complete with miniature play animals, as well as a host of money boxes and other small wooden houses!. They are planning to run regular craft fairs in the Hull area as well as teach some craft workshops at the same venue. Here is their blog page advertising the Fair for Saturday 30th June: Grandadshouse blog.

There is a Facebook Page for the event also - if you know anyone who lives in the East Yorkshire area and would like to pop along, I'm sure there will be plenty to choose from with the various artisans displaying on the day.

I am planning to take a couple or 3 new trinket boxes, two new fabric covered notebooks, some new yo-yos and wooden photo frames with me, as well as my mini wardrobe trinket boxes, cupcake key rings and mini art on canvas with easel.

Starting at 11.30am and finishing at 3pm, it's a fairly short day for a change, but I am hopeful as I know a lot of advertising has gone into this event and it's very near to the town centre, so perhaps we will get weekend shoppers strolling down as well!

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Forthcoming fairs/exhibitions etc.

I've just updated my website with dates of all the fairs and exhibitions I'm currently booked into over the summer (?) months. I also plan to enter the Summer Open Exhibition at Wolds Village, but have not yet filled in my entry form.

I'm currently working on some more wooden trinket boxes, mini paintings and new cup-cake mini trinket boxes - in between getting props and costumes sorted for the Junior & Youth Sections productions at the end of July!



Here's the list:

Upcoming and current exhibition details:
16th & 17th June 2012:
Holderness Art Show
Burton Pidsea

Saturday 30th June
GRANDADSHOUSES "HANDMADE" CRAFT FAIR,
Victoria Dock Village Hall,
Southbridge road,
Hull,
HU9 1TS.
11.30am - 3pm
Admission £1 includes entry into raffle,the prize is a HANDMADE DOLLS HOUSE!

Sat 7th July:
Made and Sold in Hull Event
11am - 3pm
Marist Church Hall
Cottingham Road
Hull

Saturday 14th July:
Summer Fayre - Endsleigh Mercy Centre, Hull

Sunday 29th July:
Real Aid Summer Fayre and Teddy Bears Picnic,
Tickton Village Hall and Field,
Main Street
Tickton
HU17 9RZ
11am -4pm

Saturday 4th August:
Costello Hull, Family fun day
(details to be confirmed)

Sunday 19th August:
Beverley Rugby Club
(details to be confirmed)

Sat 22nd September:
Newland Craft Fair
(details to be confirmed)

Friday, 15 June 2012

Sketch book drawings....


Thought I'd share a couple of pencil sketches I did whilst on holiday in Lanzarote a year or so ago. I love palm trees and would like to paint a detailed close-up of one at some point.

Look what I won!

I rarely win things in competitions - I nearly ALWAYS win on raffles or tombolas, but prize giveaways have always eluded me somehow. That is until this week, when I was delighted to have won this handy little pocket-sized book on pub walks in  East Yorkshire! Including 15 walks ranging in length from 2.5 miles to 6.5 (with several having shorter versions as well) it covers a wide are of the East Yorkshire countryside from as far North as Bridlington and as far South as Welton. Each walk is clearly set out with a map and steps relating to the written description so that you know exactly where you should be at every step (no pun intended) of the walk. Many photos of the pubs mentioned are included, and OS details clearly identified.

I can't wait for the thunderstorms to disappear so that we can try some of the walks out (hopefully followed by a hearty pub lunch).

I won the book simply by "liking" the Seaside FM Facebook page, which I have done for some time now, and my name was picked as the winner!  I was asked to send them a photo of my with the book, so thought I'd share it on here as well. When I do one of the walks, I will try to include a photo of me with the book as I go along!




Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Studio View - Summer 2012!!!

video
Thought I'd share this short video clip I filmed recently from my studio - the view through my windows on a summer day is typically grey, windy and with rain descending from the sky at regular intervals. Fortunately, I managed to capture some birdsong during this particular clip, but that has now ceased!

I really love the view from here - it can be seen from the living room too, as that is at the rear of the house like my studio is. I am especially fond of watching the crops of wheat (or is it barley, I never can remember the difference) swaying in the breeze - and do often stand for a while watching them, lost in thought.......



Monday, 4 June 2012

Recent sales

One of my mini paintings on canvas and a painted notebook have both been sold recently - also, I had a commission from my friend for two painted photo frames, so these were completed and handed over on Friday.




Saturday, 2 June 2012

Cute Cup-Cakes!

I've recently painted/embellished a set of 10 small wooden key rings in the shape of cup cakes, and here is a photo of 6 of them - the other 4 are still drying. I displayed these 6 at the "Handbags & Gladrags" event on Thursday evening, using my little wooden mannequin to display them on.

I just think they're so cute! They measure approximately 1 and a half inches high and are painted identically on both sides. Sadly, I never sold any of them on Thursday, but at least I have a full set of 10 to upload onto my Etsy shop or Facebook Page (or maybe both).

I'm selling them at £1.50 each, which I think is very reasonable considering the amount of detail that's gone into each one.

Here's the full set, with a couple of close-up shots of one or two as well.








For once, I haven't given my creations names, as I really don't think it's possible with these. For ease of reference, I'm using the basic colours of the top part of the cup-cake!