Wednesday, 25 January 2012

A Day off, to take away pressure

I followed some fabulous advice from a blog link on Zoe's blog, basically stop trying so hard. I was spending all my time desperatly trying to create something fabulous, too much pressure. So yesterday was a day off to just play with paint, pencils and inks. I did the above painting in my journal for fun and straight from my head (how worrying is that?) obviously my poor little people need some work, but the rest of it wasnt too bad, and I enjoyed it, used inks, watercolours and coloured pencils.

My mermaid was my very first attempt at drawing with indian ink and a dip pen, then painted her in watercolour and added inks to the background sea (yes, its meant to be sea) but again, relaxed and just had fun.

Not sure if you can read this, found out later the blue ink is rubbish and not water proof, but this was my free art journal time, after being very lucky enough to win a super book "Journal Bliss by Violette" on Darlenes blog "Freenie Belle - Living the Creative Life", everyone should have this book, as Violette says 'cheaper than a therapist'.. Now I am lucky enough not to sufer from depression (but I have done many years ago) but to anyone who does, this book is made for them, such a positive book with suggestions on how to 'let it all out' in your journal.
For me, the Art Journal is to create and have fun (well it is now I read the book) also the more practice done the greater the improvement. So I am going to (at least try hard too) stop trying and relax and enjoy.

Also need to sort out a chair, to try stop the neck ache that is causing some grief, must be a way, so going to try an adjustable chair from the other room, and perhaps look out for a more suitable stool or something to put myself at a better height, so frustrating not being able to do as much as I would like, though I do keep loosing hours worth of time.

Wont get much done today, got to go out soon and its dog class tonight - but hope to find an hour later at least to pick up a pencil for a while.

Todays lesson to anyone feeling the pressure - take some time out, it helps.


Sunday, 22 January 2012


I think I finally have it, after an awful lot of reading and experimenting I am having a crack at whimsical art, from what I read this is about taking a real image and adding your own take on it, lets face it I have not quite mastered making it look identical LOL, but that was never the idea. So, I chose a few subjects and put on my own take on them, wondering if I can turn these into cards? might just have a try. Here is my take on an owl, I thought he was quite sweet, also mixed media I have used inks, pastels and watercolours throughout.

Here is my frog, I never showed you but I have countless drawings of frogs, never quite managing to get their feet right, but with whimsical you can add your own, and try give their own little personality.

Lastly here is Fiona the fish, started from a goldfish image and somewhat expanded.

Whilst resizing I then had a bit of a play in photoshop, not sure if I like the originals or the digitally modified versions, so here they are with a bit of PC drama..

I am still practising the calligraphy, about an hour a day as it is starting to feel a bit like 'lines from school', but its getting there.. then I find myself doodling around it. Had to stop doing lines and do some quotes to make it more interesting to learn.

Going to have a go at printing out some cards and 'maybe' try them on sale see how they go..

Hope you had a good weekend, as usual all over far too quickly - soon be time to start another new week, dont know were the time goes!


Friday, 20 January 2012


How hard can it be? sometimes wonder if that should be booked for my headstone. With my recent drawings I wanted to add some inspirational quotes, so I had a go and wow what awful writing I had! This simply had to be dealt with, and I found many artists used beautiful calligraphy on their work, so ordered pens, ink and books. This coincided with my telling a few friends of my enjoying working with ink and they assumed I meant indian ink and were very impressed, not so impressed when I said it was infact graphic pens. So, the idea of calligraphy went hand in hand with having a try with real ink and real pens.

Of course this cannot be learnt overnight, but according to my Mum I did infact do this at school, which was only 30 odd years ago she has always wanted me to go back to it.

I set to work today, my first lesson (as their always is with jumping in feet first) was how on earth to fit an ink cartridge, as I had decided to try this first - needless to say that all went very wrong and their is now ink just about everywhere, all over me, the table, the chairs and the floor. Here is my first attempt from following insturctions, first learn shapes with a pencil, then learn the alphabet.. Excuse the ink all over the place..

I then had a go at my favourite quote of the week, I may well do better with the next cartridge I havent pierced with a stick and leaked it everywhere so the flow is not too good, making the letters a bit wobbly to say the least. I would like to say the mistake was intentional, but alas it was not... but does add to the appeal and the quote.

Next I tried dip pens, I am having a lot of fun with them, but not quite worked out the right nib for lettering yet - already my writing has improved though, so might be able to finish off some of the background work I have already done at some point. Never know I might actually have something a bit more impressive to show next time.

Thank you to Mick and my friend Julie for concern on the family news in last blog. Without going into too much detail, a close family member had a cancer scare after a final test this week got the 'all clear' so after a lot of worry and upset of what the future may have held, all is now well.

Back to the pens and the fun.


Wednesday, 18 January 2012

My first Mandala

Not much going on in my art world or Etsy shop just now, needing to care for a family member so may well be a bit quiet for a while. The beauty of my new art discoveries though, means it is something that can be done 'on the move' or in waiting rooms etc, also does help you not to go quietly insane (honest).

Whilst having a free hour to browse a day or so ago I discovered a wondeful art site called '' has a lot of free teaching and ideas, that is were I discovered the Mandala, of course I have seen many around but not actually known what they were, here is the explanation from the Artisfun website:

What is a mandala?
A mandala is a complex abstract design that is usually circular in form. In fact, "mandala" is a Sanskrit word that means "circle". Mandalas generally have one identifiable center point, from which emanates an array of symbols, shapes and forms.

Mandalas can contain both geometric and organic forms. They can also contain recognizable images that carry meaning for the person who is creating it.

In essence, mandalas represent the connection between our inner worlds and outer reality. Designing your own mandalas can be both inspirational and therapeutic.

Read more:

If you look around Etsy there are many of these wonders, far better than my first attempt, in the future I will show you an improved version (not done one yet of course but I will).

See, anyone can do this - and I can tell you its very relaxing to do. Mine was done in mixed media, inks, pastel and watercolour.

Have a good week, and be sure to do at least one thing you want to do!


Sunday, 15 January 2012

Birthday Cards

Whoops, seems I have been neglecting the blog again! When I started my art journey last year it slipped my mind my original intention was to try designing some cards. I was reminded this week when first I had to hurry out and buy one, then realised I had another two birthday's this week. So, the above is for my uncle who is a Laurel and Hardy fan, I think he is 71 this time. Hope he likes it, it was quite fun to do. The next one, was another valuable lesson learnt, first this would not be a good idea to sell one like this, as I started it on Friday and finished today, so at an hourly rate cant see it selling somehow LOL. Secondly I learnt NOT to do zen doodle ontop of a printed book were the print can then come off on the back of the card! Luckily Mum helped me sort it out by suggesting another column of pattern design on the back to cover most of it, but of course this took another two hours to do.

I have been busy with my new journal too, this has helped me a lot as instead of filling my head with things I must remember I want to do, I have been able to list them at the back, along with a few tips I pick up thus emptying some space in my head and helping sleep. Still not finished playing with my first page either, but second page was used for some people sketching to help with proportion etc.

I was very excited on Thursday night as I won a blog prize in Darlene's blog of an Art Journal Doodle book, I cant wait for it to arrive - the very same book was on my wish list on Amazon. Also yesterday I was given a whole stack of paints, paper and brushes that used to belong to my late friend Jess, from her son Paul - so kind of him and I am very grateful.

Well, back to the sketch book, to work my way through this list of things I want to do. Hope everyone has had a great weekend, weather has been glorious very cold but lovely and bright and sunny, giving us some spectacular sunrises to look at.


Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Are we having fun yet?

Cant tell you just how much I am enjoying this, I can just about see these ACEO things now, so got on with a few more. These are illustrated with ink and coloured with either inks or coloured pencil, depending on which I feel appropriate (get me). I think these are a vast improvement on the first flowers I tried to draw way back when, and I quite liked the giraffe too.

I am really loving the zen doodles, purchased some new pens which I am finding far easier than the 0.6 graffic pen I was using before, these are a bit of fun with the Nerd and the flowers who is penciled grey to make him look more boring, and the little girl presenting flowers to her Mum.

A bit more fun here with my own Alien appearing in the doorway to say 'hi' and the VW Camper in a dream bubble with hippy colour doodles.

I have now got very brave and ordered some ACEO sleeves, not sure if I am good enough to sell yet, but I already have one offer for a swap so might see how that goes for a bit of fun. Also awaiting my very first Art Journal, again inspired by the wonderful works Zoe (Fordy) does, gives me somewhere to plan out my ideas, and if all else fails I can bore you all to death with what I do in there LOL.

Must confess I have done very little with my Etsy shop this week, but as look would have it I was selected for the team treasury this week, so everyone else in the Craftyfolk
has been including me in their fantastic treasuries, I have had one sale from one already and higher views, wish it was my turn every week.

I must also thank so many kind people out there who have been giving me so much support and encouragement, I know I am not Picaso yet (by a long chalk) but its so nice to be spurred on to keep trying. Special thanks to Janice from Wellydog for taking time to look and comment when she is so busy with her own fabulous art and studio.

Better get on, my fingers are itching to pick up those pens again.


Sunday, 8 January 2012

Time to try ACEO

Each day whilst I browse the daily listing thread from the Craftyfolk team on Etsy Craftyfolk
I alwasy admire our artists, they are so talented. I have noticed that many of them do very well with ACEO's, which are minature art trading cards 3.5" x 2.5". So, I thought I would have a go at these, wow what hard work it was, hard enough trying to draw on a normal scale, but I found trying to draw so tiny even harder, makes me realise just how talented these artists really are, and its nowhere near as easy as they make it look. Here are my attempts from this week... Not sure how this got in here, its my pastel drawing of a donkey, not an ACEO but now he is here you may as well see him too..

Here is one of the first ACEO's, not brilliant as my poor deceased Greyhound is not that good a likeness, this was done from a photograph taken on our holidays a few years back, meant to be my beloved late Greyhounds Dave and Zola.

This one is my attempt at a tiny tulip, done in watercolour and pencil.

Here is my ACEO Sunflower..

This was 'meant' to be poppies, but think we will just call it 'flowers'

Yes, I do have a thing for donkeys, here is one from a photograph taken at the Donkey Sanctuary in Derbyshire..

Having joined the Strathmore on line art class, this week our course work is on Doodles, believe it or not I have never done doodles before.. this lead me to take a closer look at Zen Doodles which I have had a play with, wonder what Zoe our Queen of Zen Doodles will have to say (sorry Zoe, not quite in your league yet). This is the second one I did, I really enjoyed it, very relaxing and a lot of fun..

This was the first one I had a go at, more research was needed clearly - so had another look around after this..

I have finished my course work for the class, and taken the photo's - oh dear me, really not in the same league as the other artists there, but still it was a lot of fun and I got to make an awful lot of mess using all the media, as the first class is to try mixed media and a stencil and free doodle drawing. Might treat you to that one next time, meanwhile I am awaiting OH to set me up a new email so I can create a new flickr account and join in there with the other class members. Now the rest of today is 'meant' to be working on my Etsy shop and sorting out some listings for the week.. will I do that? or will I just start doodling again...

Hope you all had a great weekend, and my attempts make you smile..


Thursday, 5 January 2012

My talented friend

As promised on a previous post, my friend Jules has sent me her artwork. Bare in mind we have been friends for... erm... a very long time (we were christened on the same day in the same church) but dont see each other as often as we should. On my annual Christmas visit I told her I had picked up the paints and pencils to have a go at learning art, she sat there over the large glasses of wine we had, open mouthed... I didnt think it was THAT strange.. Then she dashed off to show me, she too had started up art last year, though having gone a bit further than I at school she is much better at it, but we are now sharing our fun and sure as a result will see more of each other this year (that is of course if we can put the paints down long enough)

Before I forget, also thank you to Zoe - who has just distracted me by her blog post of her wonderful work and told us of an on-line art course that I have signed up for and sent the link to Jules too.

Here is Julie's work;

Starting with my fave of the parrots

Next one is of her nephew Connor

Jules friends dog 'Dee'

mmh, now she did tell me... I think this is a friends granddaughter

Simple, but lovely

Hope you enjoyed them as much as I, I did try to do this blog post last night but by the time I had joined the online art class Zoe recommended, blogger had got too tired for the night and refused to load my pics. Hoping to have another go with ACEO's today, so might treat you to those efforts next time.


Tuesday, 3 January 2012

2012 and the Craftyfolk team

I did say yesterday I was not doing enough for my shop or my Etsy team, so today I will introduce you to a few of our newest members and their latest listings. You can find the Craftyfolk Etsy team here Craftyfolk
I also managed a treasury today too. (You can find that on my page on Etsy, just click the link on my shop slideshow).

Not the best of art days so you are spared from that one today.

Starting with Gelert Design and his latest item

Some lovely new items from Lynwood Crafts, I liked this one best

One of the artists I have always admired, an ACEO from MaxineVeronica

A simply lovely addition to Beadingbyshaz

More wonderful artwork, may be sometime before I reach these standards, from Virgillaart

Loved this from Diomoglass

..and lastly one from me here at SimJaTa, I am listing each day this week to catch up from my Christmas break, this one even comes with free make up bag to match

Hope you have enjoyed today's selection, as usual just click on the photo to be taken to that item and the chance to browse the rest of the goodies in the shop.

Stay safe in the terrible gales the UK are experiencing just now, hope it all settles down soon.

~Bags of Swank by SimJaTa~

Monday, 2 January 2012

Happy New Year 2012

Happy New Year to you all, may 2012 make all your wishes come true.

Yesterday my dogs and Bailey (the retriever I walk) had a great, and rather wet walkies with thier friends, not as many of us as usual for New Years Day as it was totally pouring down.

I am wondering whether or not to start a new blog for my art learning curve? or just stick to here? thoughts needed, see how it goes - as I am getting totally hopeless at advertising my Etsy shop and those of my crafty friends, but please do click on the Etsy shop link and take a look at my wares, and other fab crafters, you just might have a few pennies left to spend and well worth spending with the super crafts on Etsy.

The art work has continued, though I did have a bit of a setback over the weekend, when I foolishly showed the family what I have been doing, when will I ever learn? cant say they were very supportive, and their lack of enthusiasm 'almost' made me give up... but then I remembered the same thing when I started Bags of Swank, and they still think I should 'get a proper job'.

Anyway, here is my first 'real' painting, its adapted from artwork by Jean Dunand so not my own work entirely, I swapped the 'Deer' she had for Greyhounds.

Today, I had another go with the graphite pencils, I have been doing some study of how to achieve shading and how to draw 'fur' of course still needs an awful lot of practice but I do think I am 'slowly' improving.

Lastly, I was telling my team on Etsy about my sketch of the president, not one of my greatest efforts, again practice for shading really - I think he looks a bit like a spitting image puppet, my Dad asked if it was Rowen Atkinson? My Mum hadnt got a clue who it was 'meant' to be.. definatly back to the drawing board I know but I am working hard at it - my Dad has threatened to show his bottom on the town hall steps if I ever sell any artwork, so I will be sure to take the camera for that occasion.. their continued lack of enthusiasm does tend to spur me on more, along with the vow never to bother showing anything else I do.

Thankfully, my husband and a few of my closest friends are very supportive. Infact my oldest friend Julie has also picked up her pencils again after 30 years, so we are having a great time chatting about our efforts and showing each other what we do, she is very good - if she ever sends me anything by email I will show you. While I am working on Donkeys at the moment, she is doing Elephants - so sure they will be fabulous.

Ok, thats enough for today - back to work for many tomorrow, I really must do a bit more with my Etsy shop, I have started listing each day with the Craftyfolk team and made my first sale of the year yesterday.

Remember, life is too short not to follow your dreams, be sure to do what YOU want its your life!

~Bags of Swank by SimJaTa~