Happy New Year! I haven’t shared some of my new card designs on here for some time, so here we go! This is a tiny selection – there are lots of different designs that I make to order with personalised greetings printed inside. To see the full range please come and browse https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/modestly
Making it matter – it’s always the little things isn’t it? and acorns encapsulate that idea with perfect clarity – because I love spending time amongst the trees. I have a majestic oak just beyond our window – and it is the same tree that my eldest son would sight from his bedroom when he lived here, and he loved that view. Somehow a tree manages to connect me with something I can’t quite name, but it is a feeling I treasure, and I think I share that with him. Autumn is so glorious and a treat I look forward to every year and I am preparing for a trip to discover the grandeur that Scotland offers at this time of year. It never fails to take the breath away. So I am going into the archives to find some of the Autumn pictures my husband has shot over the years. I really shouldn’t keep them all to myself!
Please do not use the photographs without permission. Any interest in the photographs please DM me.
And before I sign off a very big thank you to Annie Mason for spending time getting to know me in a virtual interview – we live at opposite ends of the globe but share a common sensibility for plants, painting and all things lovely. If you are interested please investigate the blog
This has been such a joy to create – I have been meaning to create a handmade book based on some of the epic poem by the American poet Walt Whitman for some years, so this lockdown crisis created the perfect opportunity. Whitman wrote to a friend that the poet Emerson had brought him to a boil – ‘I was simmering, simmering, simmering’..On completion of Song of Myself, he sent his hero a copy of Leaves of Grass, to which Emerson wrote the reply, “It has the best merits,namely, of fortifying and encouraging.” That it does, and continues to do so. ‘Leaves of Grass’ is the ultimate expression of a large man – an expansive, modern man. There are lots of very good essays available on the biography of Whitman, and a host of work on his work. The best thing of all is to get straight into the poems, and rest there.
I have chosen some of my favourite pieces – no doubt those choices will change over time, and illustrated them , then printed and sewn into a small book to add to a collection somewhere!
You can find it available in my store at Etsy. Book at Etsy
My dog walking is a joy these Autumn days – I took some photos a couple of days ago and turned them into digital paintings – just because I can! My artwork has had the feeling of fall for the past few weeks, but then it is probably my favourite season. I love the smells, and the colour – there is nothing to compare with a sun infused Autumn day. What I see informs what I create – here are a few Autumn creations in my sites at Society6 and Redbubble and at Etsy. I love finding the beauty in ordinary – very Zen!
And a highlight for me this Autumn was being featured in a beautiful digital magazine Nurture, where I got to share how I love my creative work. You can find the link here Volume 5 Nurture & Bloom
I am thrilled with how my latest foray into printing has gone – I sell my artwork mainly via print on demand sites in America and Australia, but wanted to sell some physical prints myself in the U.K marketplace – I thought I could use my Etsy storefront to be a marketplace as well as talk to some local galleries. I have yet to put all ten of the artworks I chose on the Etsy site – there’s always something to do! But I will. I was concerned that U.K buyers might get put off buying from USA because of the cost of postage, so this was my driver to get organised and produce some of my back catalogue of artwork for sale here. I chose mainly a 30 x 40 cm format so they can slip into standard frames easily sourced, and printed onto a lovely 350 g.s.m watercolour paper which has a slight texture. The result is phenomenal! I am so delighted with my print babies! I wish I could show you the quality ! Wish me luck in getting these out into the world – I am out of my comfort zone talking to buyers at galleries and elsewhere! But it’s time to put my foot in the water and try a little harder in the real world!
Please let me know if you would like to purchase any, and I will sort out the listing either via Etsy or direct using Paypal.
This little collection is taken from the pages I have at Society6 – this is where I spend my days. I have discovered that I have aphantasia – a brain wiring which excludes visual memory. This explains why I love to spend my time making picutres – my mind is otherwise blank! It means I can’t see pictures of my family in my head – or remember places visually – and that spills over to me not really remembering past very well. I live very much in the present. I didn’t know my wiring had a name until recently – but the knowledge sort of helps explain some of my idiosynchronicity. Welcome to my world!
If you like any of the mini prints here, then head over to Society6 and discover them there Framed mini prints at Society6
I thought I would share some thoughts I articulated when asked a couple of years ago to contribute to an art blog – just in case you haven’t yet met me or know what I do! It seems like yesterday that I sold my first hand made book on Etsy – and every sale is just as exciting to me as that first one. It is an opportunity to put a little bit of myself into the world, albeit in a very humble sense. I hope you feel curious enough to browse my links at the end and discover the work I produce!
The quest of living our lives well is the inevitable journey each individual must take. It is the perpetual drive to retain the mystery and magic in a world that is sometimes inhumane, hostile. Sometimes life becomes almost unbearable in the moment. I have struggled to maintain my equilibrium in different phases of mine – my early twenties working in a pressurised commercial environment, my early thirties becoming a parent, my early forties learning to live with the loss of a marriage and forging a new future.
Since I was a child I have had a curiosity about how to live well. To me this is the question that philosophy tries to answer. And philosophers are interesting, but so are poets and gurus, and business leaders. Curiosity is the spring board to doing something, whatever it may be, it is about the opportunity to dig deeper, to investigate. The process of making my books chose me really. I have loved mining the minds of past thinkers – and current ones too – I think in an attempt to understand more about how to be human. That seems strange, since being human should surely be the most natural of processes. I don’t find that, I find it discombobulating, I look at behaviour to learn from it. I know now I am not alone in that feeling of alienation from my own species, and writers and artists taught me that. I learnt from my early life that being a career girl disassociated me from what is most important to me. So I stopped.
One of my greatest pleasures in life is creating. To find yourself living that flow of easy ‘being’ when the mind and the body are occupied has to be the up there with the best things. I don’t care who you are, or what you have – this is the experience that tops status, recognition, fan appeal. It is really playing – and we in the Western hemisphere have somehow forgotten that play is how we began, and how children learn best. Learn to play, and you learn how to live well. Creating anything, from a cupcake to a spreadsheet, from a poem to an engine, is about that engagement of you with something else. And alchemy happens.
Since I started at Etsy, I have diversified into card design and that spurred me onto a new product range of published notebooks , which are beautifully manufactured and offer another way of enjoying my design work complemented with the wisdom of writers and artists that have inspired me .
The design work on cards suggested to me that I could diversify into other product ranges, and print on demand sites now offer my work on a multi platform , all of which can be found via my website, or here All my sites
Hoping to share more with you!
Just to recap over the past year – and remind everyone what I do as the day job! Working from home is often considered as not working at all. Having worked in industry during the eighties and nineties, then being a stay at home mum I can definitely tell you that choosing to create a business from a hobby is not the walk in the park many may think. Working daily at creating new designs is great fun…. and time consuming work. It’s not comparable to a shift at the coal face on a daily basis, but believe me, I put the hours in! For the past few years I have been building a profile at print on demand sites, mainly Society6 and have seen lots of changes -new products, new algorithms (?) and lots and lots of new players. It is increasingly difficult to be seen on a print on demand site, but perseverance pays and last year was my most successful there yet. Below are a few of the designs that made my best sellers. There’s no rhyme or reason for what sells and what lies unheeded. I am just delighted that some of my work is being enjoyed all over the globe!
2018 will see more of my eclectic design – inspired by nature, past masters and using my photography too as reference points to create something new, fresh, and ready to hang, wear or use. Dependant on which of the myriad of products you choose to purchase!
I would love to hear from you if you want me to concentrate on a particular theme – you can have a hand in making your dream duvet or your best thought as a phone case! You can link to my page at Society 6 by navigating to the S6 on the menu or link here My S6 store – lots of stuff!
‘ It was about being true to the very stuff of life, it was about trying to capture, though you never could, the very feel of being alive. It was about finding a language. And it was about being true to the one fact, the one thing only followed from the other, that many things in life – oh so many more than we think – can never be explained at all. ‘ Graham Swift ‘ Mothering Sunday’
This , then , is what I have to bring today. The closing sentences of the book I have just laid down. It did not disappoint. Within its narrative Graham Swift refers to one of my storytelling heroes – Joseph Conrad – who himself has an interesting comment on storytelling, whose quest was ‘ by the power of the written word to make you hear, to make you feel — it is, before all, to make you see. That — and no more, and it is everything. If I succeed, you shall find there according to your deserts: encouragement, consolation, fear, charm — all you demand — and, perhaps, also that glimpse of truth for which you have forgotten to ask.’
And the overriding sense I am left with is how fiction gives us permission to be most fully ourselves. I cannot imagine being the me I am without having encountered the characters and the writers I have met throughout my days. Science is mastering many of the facts , we are illuminating the darkness, but only dimly. Science is the first to corroborate how much is still unknown. A particle acts differently dependant upon it being observed – does this strike you as prescient on the human condition? We are and simultaneously are not the person we imagine ourselves to be. The codes we observe do not rely merely on the context of our time and culture, but also on our perception of them and of the fluctuating circumstances. That is confusing, much easier to narrate to you a true account of behaviour which shows how I hold personal codes of truth and loyalty , of fidelity and duty to be central to the person I am and yet act in complete opposition to them, choosing to end one marriage to a wonderful man , and father of my two sons because I had walked blindly into a new relationship where I felt at home. Not even a choice. And reader – I married him.
I haven’t learnt enough just from the handful of people who are present in my life, or who have been there in the past – they are priceless, but they do not bring me the breadth and depth of experience which helps me to understand I can forgive myself for frailty, for impatience, for laziness, for ineptitude. Because I am not alone. Because growing up is not just trying to imitate some version of being human handed down by parents et al, it is about encountering the various selves you inhabit, and allowing yourself not to be intimidated or frightened by them. Listening to voices from elsewhere can somehow bring you closer to knowing how to be your own.
In ‘Mothering Sunday’ Graham Swift practices his alchemy – his narrative is from a woman and it has one of the most authorative voice of being woman I have encountered. He is masterly in how deftly he practices this – the small sentences slipped in that are the ‘tell’ of what it feels like to be 22, free, single, and enjoyably bruised by sexual encounter ( not in a violent, abusive way). On removing from the scene, she mounts her bicycle ‘ slightly sore where she met the saddle’ .
I imagine the novelist’s challenge to himself – inhabiting not only the woman’s pysche at 22, but also later on – in her nineties and remembering. I imagine him imagining the reader – me – enjoying his playfulness, his zest for finding the right word, the correct tone, the piercing stab of the dramatic.
The point I am making, albeit clumsily is this – we need stories to remind us not how to live, but that life is mystery. Inexplicable paradox is what exists around us and about us, and the navigation around this mortal coil is facilitated by the storytellers, the magicians, the soothsayers, the lyric writers, the graffiti artists, the dramatists, the teachers.
There is now such a thing as a bibliotherapy – the art of listening to someone’s personal dilemnas and furnishing them with appropriate bookwear. (bookware?) . Such a stance should please me, but I am contrary enough to find something unsettling in it. Something proscribed – but then why not – we go to doctors, why not book doctors? I have a healthy disposition to challenge anything that is ‘good for me’ , and have only just discovered the heady delight of sucking up oranges. Now I evangelise about oranges. And for me they are the only fruit. I still have a long way to go.
I leave the last words to a woman author of impeccable skills, Marilynne Robinson, author of ‘Housekeeping’, ‘Gilead’ and others you may want to discover.
“While you read this, I am imperishable, somehow more alive than I have ever been.”
On National Women’s day I want to say something. It’s not radical, it’s not clever, it’s not even controversial – at least from where I am. And that is the point. I am writing from a position of privilege , I have been educated to the same standard as my brothers, I have worked in a male dominated industry and been accepted as successful within my career, and I have a marriage which is traditional in values but recognises my strengths ( and my weaknesses).
I want to say thank you – to all the women and the men who went before me and worked quietly in the background to remove barriers in the system. It’s not perfect, and I myself worked hard two decades ago to change attitudes within the company I worked. But the change has been remarkable in my lifetime.
The challenge for our society – U.K – is different now. It is to accept the equality between genders and to understand that equality retains the opportunity for difference. It is to accept responsibilities and duties that are incumbent on everyone to work hard, and to embrace challenge together, both in the workplace, in the community and in the domestic arena.
I would like to see less commodification of sexuality, which starts at birth now – the baby vests that promote the princess in the female , the five year old pageants, the sexting of teens. Do grown ups that have sex really need to display this sense of rampant horniness in the everyday and in the inappropriate age groups of the tender young.
I don’t know what a day can do to promote the values of women – I don’t even know what they are. My values are different to my friends, let alone those who think I am ridiculous. I just want a world where we can be confident enough to have a dialogue with one another beyond gender, race, abilities. It’s a bit of dream but we have arrived at a place undreamt of by my female ancestors.
On a final note I defer to the poet laureate Wislawa Szymborska, succinct and brilliant .
It’s a political age.
All day long, all through the night,
all affairs–yours, ours, theirs–
are political affairs.
Whether you like it or not,
your genes have a political past,
your skin, a political cast,
your eyes, a political slant.
Whatever you say reverberates,
whatever you don’t say speaks for itself.
So either way you’re talking politics.
Even when you take to the woods,
you’re taking political steps
on political grounds.
Apolitical poems are also political,
and above us shines a moon
no longer purely lunar.
To be or not to be, that is the question.
And though it troubles the digestion
it’s a question, as always, of politics.
To acquire a political meaning
you don’t even have to be human.
Raw material will do,
or protein feed, or crude oil,
or a conference table whose shape
was quarreled over for months;
Should we arbitrate life and death
at a round table or a square one?
Meanwhile, people perished,
and the fields ran wild
just as in times immemorial
and less political.