Blue Monday 2020 was a really great day I had as an artist

I am going to share with you guys a day I had recently as an artist that was a really great day. There are lots of stressful days as an artist, lots of days where it feels like you are getting nowhere or having got enough done. Being an artist is HARD. So I am sharing an account of a really good day I had, because they aren’t all that easy to find sometimes.

Monday January 20th 2020

Allegedly the saddest day of the year (I don’t know who decides and I hope its not a legal requirement!). Blue Monday. For me though, it was great!

Cows About Cambridge

I started the day by hugging my pooch, kissing my fella goodbye and hopping on a train to Cambridge. With a suitcase full of paints and a flask full of tea kindly made for me by my other half as I set off. It was my third trip to Cambridge since November, where I had painted a large Cow sculpture for the 2020 Cows About Cambridge trail. This time I was returning to work on a mini moo sculpture in partnership with my large sculpture sponsored Thames link and the charity Mind. Thames link had launched a competition for a service user from Mind to design a cow which I would realise and would form part of the mini moo family on the trail.

I even found time on the train to work on a design submission for an upcoming Wild in Art trail, so fingers crossed for that one!

Good News from Far Away

It’s always a win when you get an etsy sale, so that was the first good news of the day, along with sales reports from my stockists. I was delighted to find in my inbox a message from the fabulous Elizabeth of The Fox Fairy store in Affecks Palace asking if I’d like to join their stocked artists. A while ago I had mentioned this to Elizabeth a while ago and teenage Sian would be elated to have her work sold in her numbe one too cool for school shopping location. I accepted at once to move in in Feb.

While checking my social media I found that I had had a smal flurry of new followers and that my new stockist October 31st had posted abut me joining the store, which I was really excited about too! I even saw that an artist I followed was talking about arranging artist meet ups in my town. I have wanted to do this for ages without any real plan of how to go about it, and I hadn’t even realised that this wonderful artist was from my town! Immediately I announced my excitement and intention to get involved however I can.

In the Grafton Centre

Back in the real world I got cracking on my mini moo and got to meet the lovely Annie from Wild in Art. It was great to meet her finally and she had lots of helpful advice and offered so much support for me on my Wild in Art journey, thanks Annie!

Painting the sculpture was a new experience for me to translate someone else design onto a sculpture. It was an experience practice a different way of working. I usually work much more intuitively and make lots of decisions throughout the process. This took a much more planned and strategic approach to translate someone else vision onto the canvas (or cow!). 

While the primer layer dried I headed for a mooch around some local charity shops in the hunt for books, and scored an amazing full set of Rocky Horror figures for the princely some of £4! (This figures would then proceed to go viral believe it or not!)

At the end of the day

After a long and tiring but productive day of painting I crawled into my comfy B&B bed with some KFC and Magic Mike on the telly. What made this day perfect wasn’t living a life of luxury with all of these opportunities throwing themselves at my feet, but a delightful day where the hard work I had put in and seeds I had sown were paying off. It’s the best kind of day any artists can hope for if you ask me! Mostly it reminds me that the hard work pays off, not everything is a rejection and all you need to do is just keep swimming.

Goals for 2020: Part 1


I am splitting this blog post up into 3 posts in order to allow me to discuss each goal in a little bit more detail, and hopefully shed some light on why it is a focus of mine for next year.

-Shakeup My Stockists

-Secure more painting commissions in 2020

-Be spookier

-Make more, increase handmade offerings

-Work Less, Live More

-Collaborate

-Improve branding

-Learn more digital skills

My goals are a lot different to last years. Last years goals felt like milestones I wanted to reach, full of facts and figures in an attempt to quantify success. For 2020 my approach is as reflective as it is about trying something new. This last year has been so brilliant, and I want to keep learning, improving and building on what I have achieved so far.

Shakeup my Stockists

This was a tough one as last year a goal of mine was to be stocked in 2 shops, and after getting a brilliant 7 stockists I am now looking to reduce them. This is because I have been able to try a range of different models, working with a range of hops in a range of cities. I am learning what does and doesn’t work for me and the capabilities and priorities that I have for my illustration work. I am planning to remove my work from some of my existing stockists and focus more on working with shops on a Sale or Return or wholesale basis. Excitingly I have already begun this transformation of my business and aim to find new partners to work with throughout 2020.

Secure More Painting Commissions in 2020

It might not be clear in the title of this one, but I’m not necessarily looking to do more painting commissions than i did in 2019, I just want to keep doing them! Over this last year I have learnt so much and had such incredible opportunities to work on murals and sculpture paintings across the UK. My goal for 2020 is to find more and grow my experience and portfolio in this area even further. I am happily already in talks about some sculptures and murals for this next year, so I just need to keep everything crossed that they come good.

Last Christmas, I gave you my Art

It’s my illustration birthday!

At Christmas time 2017 I accepted my first commission. I didn’t have a plan to become an illustrator at the time. As I come up to my first year I have been reflecting on the last twelve months. I want to share what I have learnt and my reflections with you.

This week, my focus will be on my first Christmas season as seller. This has been my busiest time of the year as you might expect. I was surprised to find that it seemed to start as early as October. This was when my first commission for Christmas came in. I also found that, in line with recent shopping trends, bespoke presents are in demand at Christmas time. Over the Christmas period I have been commissioned to produce the most house portraits in a similar given time window, with a total of 3 requested before December had even begun.

One of a kind presents for one of a kind people

The number of commissions I could take on and window I could create them in was always something never very far from my mind. Consequently I chose quite a conservative window of stopping taking Christmas commissions on 8th December. This meant that customers didn’t have to be a super early bird to get one, but that I absolutely knew I was able to deliver all of the commissions on time. Especially in the context of increased ‘off the shelf’ Etsy orders and markets.

I also created a range of ceramic christmas tree ornaments and generally got my stall in the Christmas spirit. You may have spotted me in Christmas jumpers on a couple of occasions recently! As for the Fair’s I chose I attended 4 between October and December. There are a lot to choose from and I wouldn’t return to all the ones I did this year. However, each one is a valuable learning experience. Plus, there is always chance to chat to other stallholders about the world of craft and illustration when a fair is quiet.

The most wonderful time of the year

The best thing I have learnt is that I see myself doing this next year. I didn’t have any horrible experiences, where everyone’s stall is flocked around except mine. I did have occasions where I forgot important items, like carrier bags or my display stands, but there’s nothing that was a true crisis. Even the day where I didn’t make back my stall fee (unfortunately there was one) serve to help me decide which stalls to approach in future.

If you came to see me at any of my markets this year, or visited my Etsy store, supported me on social media I’d like to say a big

THANKYOU!

Year one has been brilliant and I have lots of ideas for year two 🙂

Merry Christmas, Friends!

Techniques for Illustrating Ceramics: 1. Underglazing

Introducing ceramics

For the last couple of years I have been practicing ceramics. I took a course in handbuilding and later one in the use of coloured slips. Alongside this I’ve dedicated time to practiciing and exploring ceramic forms and decoration. Throughout this blog I’ll share tips and tricks I have learnt beginning with a focus on surface design.

I have also created a glossary page with definitions of more specialist words I’ll be using to describe illustration and ceramic techniques. As with most things, they tend to be easy enough to learn once you break through the smoke and mirrors that is the associated vocabulary. Nevertheless I will try to keep this all as jargon free as possible.

My ceramics and illustration have always gone hand in hand and it is not uncommon for me to spend more time on the surface design of a piece than on it’s initial build. This is quite the feat as a handbuilder as building pots through slab, coil and pinch pot techniques is generally more time consuming than their wheel built counterparts. As such it makes sense to me on this blog to explore first different techniques in illustrating and colouring ceramic pieces.

The use of underglazes

The first technique I’m looking at is underglazing. Here I ‘m referring specifically to commercial underglazes that can be applied to greenware or bisque fired pieces before they are glazed. Underglazes work largely like paint. The colour that you see when you paint is then dramatized through the addition of glaze and the final firing process but they are very simple to paint directly onto bisque fired clay.

I’ve also had success with these underglazes on pieces that I haven’t glazed. However, I ‘ve found that the underglazes produced by my studio are quite volatile to use on greenware, often resulting in bubbled or raised results after the final fire. Ultimately the trick to using underglazes is practicing using the right amount as using too little can result in a blotchy finished piece and too much can bubble or run.

If you have any more specific questions on the use of underglazes, get in touch!