Two things I won't ever do in the dark again...

Two things I won't ever do in the dark again...

...1) use tweezers and 2) eat pistachio nuts. The first is obvious, it hurts. The second, because I found a dead crispy earwig burrowed inside one. Still, none of this has any relevance except it was a slightly more intriguing opener than me bleating on about how busy I have been over the past few months. I have been busy though. Too busy to write about being busy. But I realised that one of my last few posts talked about the nights getting longer as spring was on the horizon and now here we are fully pyjama'd up by 7pm every night as the autumn blows in. It seems a while ago now but me and the family had a lovely camping holiday in Cornwall back in August. Instead of filling my diary with long lists of things to do and places to be, I decided at the end of each day I would reflect, be thankful and then illustrate the day. I highly recommend this to any of you keen doodlers out there. It serves a few purposes really. It cements a practice of gratitude and reflection, it provides a visual reminder of the day, it allows you to try out new drawing styles and it has the added bonus of making you want to leave space in your diary to draw, which in turn means less 'to do list' gloom. I've tried to carry on that theme since coming home and I'm now aiming for a balance. At the end of every week I have a functional and illustrated record of what I've done, where I've been and anything I've not managed to do just gets shifted over onto the next week - and it all starts again.

Of course this only works if you are a paper and pen kinda person. Which I am. I was persuaded many moons ago to go digital. Google calendar and a to do list app. It makes me shudder just thinking about it. My brain simply doesn't work properly if I can't hold something, flick through it, cross it out, scribble on it, use glittery pens, underline stuff and doodle all over it. My flirtation with digital lasted about two months. That was about 6 years ago and it left me scarred. If anyone tries to convert me again, I will shut them down. On a similar note I watched a mesmerising Instagram video of Ben the Illustrator working away. As well as being a very talented artist, he's a top guy. He was just drawing and chatting but it's such a pleasure to watch others work, to see their processes, their pauses, their hesitations and refinements. Like my own illustrations, his finished artwork is rendered on the computer but the planning is done on paper. It was lovely to see. There was a nice article recently on the BBC website about landmarks that make us feel at home. This struck a chord with me. I wrote about this exact feeling when I created the Sandy Heath Transmitter print. It was lovely hearing about peoples affection for places and the way that certain monuments, buildings or vistas can have such an emotional effect on people. That's what I aim to tap into when I create my travel posters. As a result of the BBC article a thread on MumsNet began and people continued the conversation sharing stories of family traditions and their feelings of recognising a landmark and knowing that they are nearly home. This feeling is at the very heart of what I am trying to illustrate so it was wonderful to see that one of my past customers had shared the link to my Emley Moor Mast and Humber Bridge print on the thread. This led to a spike in traffic to my website and a few sales. It's thoughtful shares like this that can make a really big difference to small businesses, so thank you very much. I have recently had a sewing success. I made a dress to wear for a family wedding and I was really pleased with the results. The plan was to make the type of dress that I couldn't afford to buy and I dare say I achieved that. The staff at Habby Days in St Neots were great at helping me choose fabric for this pattern by Simplicity - Project Runway. I've had the pattern for years but the wedding gave me a place to wear it and more importantly a deadline. I'm still annoyed that Sewing Bee has no plans to return to the screen. Partly because my love for Patrick has no socially acceptable outlet now and also because I have learned a lot from that show.

Anyway back to artwork. I have a lot of half finished illustrations at the moment which is a bit frustrating. I am hoping that now the kids are back at school I can build up some momentum and get things finished. I am currently working on one in Yorkshire, one in Edinburgh and one in Wales. All are a three quarters done. I just need a last push and some uninterrupted time. Here are a few that I've done since I last posted.



And I have got some stickers now that go out with each order. Totally unnecessary but a nice little extra to fall out of the tube along with the print, bookmark and gift tag.

I know I say it all the time but I really do have the most lovely customers. The reviews I get are amazing and I really do appreciate the time it takes for people to do it. It means a great deal to me. Some of you have kindly sent me pictures in of your framed prints looking good on your walls. This makes me smile so much and again I really appreciate the effort. My next blog post will feature those happy customer photos and it would be great to get some more. If you have one of my prints hanging on your wall then I would love it if you could take a quick snap of it and send it to me. You can contact me through my website, or on Facebook or Twitter and I'll feature your photos in my next post. Finally, whilst writing this post I have just hit 900 sales on Etsy. I really can't quite believe it and I am so grateful for all of your support. Thank you.

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