If you are a small business owner like me you will understand how we all have to start thinking about Christmas in the middle of summer and launch in the autumn to make the most of the festive season, and coming up with Christmassy ideas while the sun is still shining can be difficult! Luckily I came up with the rough idea of my new collection earlier this year while it was still chilly in spring and I have thought about it for months. A few weeks ago I felt ready and jumped in and started planning.
I knew I wanted to do a food-related Christmas card collection because I wanted to evoke a warm festive feeling, and the foods we eat in the festive period give me that warm fuzzy feeling instantly. There are also scents that give me that feeling – oranges, mince pies, cinnamons, fir spruce, vanilla, and so on.
I ended up with three different designs around this food / scent theme and these are Winter Fruits, Seasonal Scents, and Holiday Treats. I absolutely love each of them, especially Winter Fruits because it was the first design I created for the collection. When I create a collection It’s always the first design I am most proud of and I think it is down to the special moment of realisation where the design process is underway and going in the direction I hoped for.
I hope you will agree that my new cards radiate the festive feeling we get run up to Christmas and that all these three designs make a lovely collection.
I can’t believe I didn’t visit the University of Leicester Botanic Garden sooner! It is free entry and really beautiful. There are 6 or 7 greenhouses but you can only visit three of them: the desert house – which is my favourite of all! – the tropical house, and the alpine house. The greenhouses are a tad small, not that I am complaining, but the botanic garden itself is pretty big with some water features and sculptures. It took me about two hours to really take in everything they have got to offer.
The desert house is my favourite to visit because once you go in it’s like you are in a totally different place, and the colours in there are stunning – think green, blue, peach, and ochre together! I think it gave me the push I needed to start painting greenhouses. If you have read my previous post about finding my inspiration in greenhouses, you will know that I had been thinking about adding some kind of greenhouse collection to my shop! The cacti and succulents in the desert house were also lovely and well looked after.
Naturally it was very warm in the tropical house, and the alpine house was a little bare in comparison to the others but it was still a lovely place to look around and write down some names of potential plants for my garden.
If you follow me on Instagram, you will know that I’ve been painting greenhouses! As a plant lover, I naturally enjoy visiting greenhouses and last year I decided that I want to create more greenhouse paintings for my shop. So I’ve made efforts to visit more, and most recently made a day trip to the University of Leicester Botanic Garden to visit theirs!
I collected all the best greenhouse photos I have taken and picked one to paint. It was daunting to get started and I procrastinated because I wasn’t confident I would be able to pull it off, but a few weeks ago I sat down at my painting table, ignored the Fear, and got finally started. Looking back I wish I had just got stuck in instead of putting it off for so long!
The end result two days later was a confusion. It was a mixture of:
Did I paint it?
I like it but I don’t like it either.
I beat my Fear?
This is not my style?
Wow, I really painted a scene!
After getting some feedback from my partner and Instagram followers, I came around and now I feel that it is a lovely piece. Because of popular demand I decided to get it printed, so it is now available as A4 and A3 prints!
Last week I painted a Cacti Scene from another of my greenhouse snaps. I had a dilemma whether to add a background or not… and I haven’t decided yet! Here’s hoping that I continue to push Fear aside and paint more greenhouses. I am excited to see how this collection will grow.
Today I am excited to share an art process video of my Plants Are Magic illustration.
I painted Plants Are Magic a couple of weeks ago. The idea of painting an illustration based on this phrase has been floating around in my head since last year, and I decided to finally sit down and translate the idea to paper. What I have created is not quite what I envisaged, which does happen often with all the ideas I don’t act on quickly enough – my expectations have changed and the ‘fresh eyes’ are gone. At the end of the day though, I still love it!
To my surprise, when I did my usual routine of sharing the illustration on my socal media and collecting feedback, this illustration received a whopping 800 likes, several comments, and shares from plant loving friends on Instagram.
I seldom record videos of my art process but I want to make more in the future. I thought it’d make a great way to connect with my audience and show how I paint my work, and interestingly it is also quite educational for me because watching myself paint makes me aware of how I navigate across the illustration and think about what I would do differently next time!
I can’t get over how quickly 2018 seemed to pass. It seems to me that time goes faster as I get older, and last year is definitely the fastest year I’ve ever had!
I think it has to do with how hectic my year was. It’s not a bad thing at all – I just can’t recall when was the last time before Christmas that I had a moment to catch my breath, especially in the festive period when I had markets almost every weekend AND prepared to move house at the same time.
Buying a house is one of my biggest bits of news from last year! Aneurin and I also got engaged! I wanted a short engagement but we agreed to focus on the house first. Now that’s sorted out, whether we are going to have a wedding is on my mind and frankly, the thought of walking down an aisle does not do my anxiety any good, so I like the idea of eloping! Either way I really cannot wait to marry my love!
My 2018 word was “GROW”. My sales improved significantly in 2017 and I wanted to work harder on my shop, grow my product range, and partner with more stockists. That is exactly what I’ve done over the last year and I saw results from the hard work. I hoped for more stockists, and need to work on outreach and promotion, but I launched a lot of products in 2018 – a Valentine collection celebrating sign language and the Deaf community; wire bound notebooks; new collections of prints and cards; Plant Ladies and Potted Plants postcards; aptly named GROW tote bag; a weekly planner, and ceramics.
I am most excited about my ceramics – my first ever glaze fire in late 2017 flopped and it left me disheartened, but in the summer of 2018 I gave it another shot and tried another kiln firing place. This time my ceramics came out really nicely and they were fit for sale! I have had an overwhelmingly positive response to my ceramics, and while I still love designing stationery I’ve found I really enjoy the hand building aspect that comes with pottery, applying my illustration in different ways and bringing more one-of-a-kind pieces to my shop.
I am stumped what is my word of the year for 2019 and I haven’t come up with any new year’s resolutions either – but I do know that I want to be better at self care while I continue to grow my shop by carrying on what I am doing. I want to improve certain areas in my business, such as my online marketing and connecting with my audience through this blog and my mailing list. I am also looking forward to settling into my new home and studio. I am feeling optimistic about what this year will bring and excited to see what else I can pull out of my hat in my work!
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