Last Friday I put my paintbrushes down after a solid two months of sculpture painting for public art trails. After the year we’ve had it was an absolute dream! I’ve been working sculpture painting commissions back to back. I am knackered but as a mural artist I wouldn’t have it any other way! So today I’m going to share with you a little bit about the trails where you can find my work on display this year.
The first trail to launch this Summer is the Moor Otters trail this Friday. My Sir David Ottenborough design has already been revealed. Inspired by the great man himself and the lifelong love of learning about the animal kingdom that he inspires. This sculpture was painted back in March 2020 so the trail has been a long time coming. He’ll be on display in Dartmoor at the pannier market in Tavistock from May 28th 2021.
Cows About Cambridge
Now this sculpture has been under wraps the longest. I finished painting my cambridge Cow in November 2019. Although I do know where this one will be displayed I suspect it’s top secret currently but you can find out this Summer. The Cambridge Cows will be raising money for the charity Break and their work with young people. They will be displayed around the beautiful green belt city, inspired by the cows that roam free there. I’ve also teamed up with Thameslink and Mind to paint a second mini sculpture for the trail too.
Bears of Sheffield
As a Sheffield Based artist I am absolutely buzzing to have a sculpture in this trail! Last time there was a trail in Sheffield was before I knew anything about Wild in Art and the amazing trails they run. To work along other talented local illustrators from Sheffield, South Yorkshire and beyond has been a dream. The sculpture itself is a familiar design based on the bronze one that lives in the bear pit in the Botanical Gardens. The trail is raising money for Sheffield Childrens’ Hospital. I am very excited that I’ll be able to see my bright bold design stand out on my local streets soon.
Worcester’s Big Parade
This design is still under wraps but I will say that this design is going to look right at home in the monochromatic tudor architecture that the city is famous for. The elephant I have painted is sponsored by Worcester News and certainly bound to make an impact. Seeing this particular design hit the streets of such a beautiful historic city is going to make my spooky little heart very happy this summer.
Big Trunk Trail Luton
The first of my double trouble parades is the Big Trunk Trail. I’ll have 2 colourful elephants hitting the streets there this year. That’s 3 elephant sculptures total that I’ve painted these last 2 months. They couldn’t all look more different though!
Stockport’s Giant Leap
These frog sculptures were bursting with character before they ever had a lick of paint! The designs are secret but I will say that they are bursting with charm. I’ve painted two sculptures for this trail and it always amazes me how different the same sculpture can look with a different paint job.
So that’s a whopping 9 sculptures I’ve painted to be on display this summer around the UK. I can’t wait to share with you what I’ll be working on next. Keep an eye on my social media for the full sculpture design reveals and auction details later on in the year.
I know it’s gonna surprise some of you guys when I say that spooky season can be tough for spooky artists. I know that others of you might be thinking ‘it’s early September why is she talking about Halloween?’ Halloween comes to the UK the moment the first Code Orange siren sounds as far as I’m concerned. For those of you who might not know about code orange, it’s the moment that high street stores start to sell their halloween range each year. In 2020 it came as early as July and some stores seem to be wrapping up their Halloween offerings already. This isn’t the norm though. It’s definitely a symptom of a corona code orange.
What won’t be a suprise is how much I love halloween. Scary films, spooky decorations, amazing haunted events. I’m still hopeful that there will be something wonderful to experience this year. Even if it is an online event or a socially distanced drive in cinema. This will be my first Halloween in a couple of years that I don’t have to work too. My pumpkin carving time is back, woohoo!
Get to the point Sian, why is it TOUGH?
In short it’s tough because all the non-spooky folk jump on the spooky wagon. It’s weird to spend all year as a bit of an outsider only to have that month or two where everyone gets on board. That goes for artists, crafters, shoppers and the high street. A lot of whom are happy to put their spooky back in the closet on November 1st and not think about it again for a year. So in essence, not my typical customer. The art I create is very much for people who have embraced the spooky lifestyle. I don’t think that there are too many other people interested enough in just their halloween to be following an account for spooks 365 days a year.
So as well as it not being super likely I will find too many new customers, my existing customers are suddenly kids in candy shops. I know this, because I am too! There is a short window where spooky is normal and you can fill up on halloween treats from a range of high street stores. People wait all year for it, and some save up especially too. October is definitely a month to stretch the bank account if spooky shopping is your deal. So it’s understandable that a lot of customers are focused more on buying what they can only buy at this time of year, as opposed to their favourite all year round halloween stores.
From Halloween is Everyday to Halloween is Everywhere
Ultimately though it is my absolute favourite time of year. Maybe next year I’ll embrace the drop in custom as a chance for me to take the time off. So I can enjoy all the spooky things I love about Halloween! As some shops are already winding down their halloween stock it might even be possible for small spooky businesses to get a bit of a surge again this year. At the end of the day though, that’s not what matters. Enjoying the holiday and all it has to offer is something I have been doing long long before I had my business and I intend to keep it up.
If you have good suggestions for halloween plans this year, including online events or films to watch let me know!
I am officially about to become a full time artist! The concept is equally terrifying and exhilarating. It’s safe to say I never pictured a pandemic being the reason though! Unfortunately my employer has been hard hit through these last months. I have balanced part time employment and my art career over the last two years since I started illustrating. I have always been open about the fact I probably haven’t balanced it particularly well though.
A New World
For the last 12 years I have been a fundraiser. Whether that’s been working with corporates, individuals, data or administrating I have been fundraising. I honed my career to specialise in Fundraising Events. It was my favourite aspect of fundraising. I always enjoyed how creative you could be in organisations events and the payoff in seeing it come together. The reality though is that there is no role for large scale events in society currently, and these were my specialism.
The job of generating income for charity whilst ensuring visitors got a great experience for their money has always been a tough job. Throw in social distancing to the mix and it’s just downright impossible for so many organisers with ambitious targets to hit. With my employer in trouble, my role impractical and my business weathering lockdown as well as could be hoped, making the leap was the only thing that seemed to make sense.
Not A Hobby
It has been a while since I would have classed my artwork as a hobby. I work too damn hard and it is far too busy for it to be so. No one does tax returns and finances and marketing as a hobby! I have treated my arts job professionally since I started illustrating. It is a huge leap for it to be full time though. The timing is so unnatural because of the pandemic but I am optimistic that it is the right decision. I am not a fool. It is going to take a lot of blood, sweat and tears to make it so. I need support from others and to self promote like there is no tomorrow, No matter how daunting it seems. I can throw myself into it fully and hopefully build something beautiful.
There is lots to be nervous about though. From guiding a business through an impending recession to the intimidating prospect of working alone. I’ve lots to learn too, that’s for sure! I am just going to try my best to make this thing work.
And on that note…
If you need an illustrator, please remember me! I do painting, digital work and fine drawing. I even do ceramics and the odd bit of animation Such as gifs and AR assets. Whether your company needs merchandise or a poster designed or you are looking for a print for your home or a bespoke gift for a loved one. Or even if you or your workplace want a great big mural painting too. Remember your friendly local artists Sian and don’t hesitate to get in touch for a chat. Even just through reading this blog I appreciate you spending your time to support me and gain a little insight into this bonkers new adventure of mine. If you want an even more in depth look into my process, works and sneak peeks my Patreon has that too, just check out www.patreon.com/thisissianellis for more details!
I have sectioned the studio off into different spaces with different jobs. It means I get to move around the space throughout the day as I work on different things. This is really attractive to me and how I tend to work at home. I have three main work areas plus storage and a corner all for Dot. There is my main desk with the most glorious shelf of ghosts. I was adamant I wanted this feature! It’s not practical but I love it. This is my main working area and where I do all of my hand drawn work.
Behind it is a more casual area. It has a bench and a beautiful monstera plant. I am still searching for cushions and a coffee table to finish it off. Plus I am really enjoying trawling for artwork for the walls too. This is like a breakout space and somewhere I can sit more comfortably to work digitally. It also means I can work and snuggle Dot at the same time. Basically live the dream! When I find a coffee table it will be in such a good light that I know it will make a great space to photograph my products too.
The Most Organised Corner of the Universe
Well, my universe! The third area is a corner dedicated to my online shop. It’s an area where I can pack orders like a little production line. This is a surprisingly time consuming job each week. Partly because I love packing things nicely and adding extra stickers and washi tapes. I don’t want to stop doing that because I know it is much nicer to receive post that way. I just need a great space to do it! With this new space I don’t have to clear away any illustration work I am working on or work around my pens and stationary. I’ve also been able to organise my prints a lot better so designs are quicker to find and there is less chance of wastage from my packaging and prints getting scuffed than when I am constantly routing through not very organised stock in the limited available space at home. I have got a real organisation excitement over this bit!
I instantly feel more professional in this space. Which is good because it is an added expense each month that I have to earn more to cover. I have faith that I can though. The vibe of the space is so nice and concentrating is easy. Giving all my work more space just makes working nicer all round. Building an environment that I think is beautiful a dn works for me builds my confidence too.
Last week was my second and final week of painting my Bears of Sheffield sculpture. Eeeek! It’s the first time that I have started a sculpture and then had a four day break in the middle. It was a revelation! It allowed me to come back fully charged, refreshed and having missed my bear! I got right back to work. The first day after the break felt the most productive painting day. I seemed to get some much done in terms of getting all the first layers of paint down and starting the second.
Remember, the bear is like 7ft tall, so we are talking a lot of paint! It always surprise me how far a little pot of paint will go! I always finish sculpture painting with paint to take home, more than I’d expect to.
Second layer (and third and fourth!)
It’s always a bit of a guessing game how many layers each paint is going to need to look good. But once the first layer is down, it’s all an endurance test. You just keep going until it’s done. I personally love this part of painting. It’s automatic to a degree as you already have all of your first layer mapped out. You just keep working and see your piece get better and better. I guess what I enjoy is that you see your work improve without any of the fear of making the wrong artistic choice throughout.
The finishing touches
I got a bit anxious when it came time to add the last layer of detail to my sculpture. I knew it would drastically change the piece but the most effective way to paint it would be to add it on as a new layer at the end. It meant that I created something I was really happy with but I then had to commit to making a big change to it. So yeah, it was scary! Luckily it pai off big time. Yes the design looked different, but better!
I was sad to finish it. Knowing that it could very likely be my last sculpture of 2020. I love painting sculptures sooooo much! I am staying positive that 2021 will have some more!
What I really love about it is that it is very ‘me’. I think people will look at it and immediately think ‘that’s Sian’s!’ It is such a great opportunity that I have had to do this. This week I will return to varnish it and I am so excited to see how much the colours start to pop when I do. It’s a shame that he’ll have to then go into hibernation for over a year, but I am looking forward to being reunited with an old friend. On the streets of Sheffield, July 2021.
I am always excited to announce new projects. If you have read any other of my announcement blogs, you’ll know. In this current climate though, it is even better! Lockdown has been scary in that regard. Although it’s bought new opportunities too! Hearing That I have successfully been picked for Bears of Sheffield though? I was buzzing!
After painting on so many sculpture trails, the idea of not painting one in my home city would be pretty rubbish. To get confirmation of a new painting project after these last few months is amazing enough, but a sculpture trail in Sheffield is just perfect! This will be my 9th charity sculpture paint since March 2019.
Bears of Sheffield
The trail will run in 2021 and raise money for Sheffield Children’s Hospital. In 2015 the charity ran the herd of Sheffield project with Wild in Art. Having learnt a trick or two they’ve gone solo. I don’t want to ruin any surprises, but as an artist on the project I am in some excellent company.
The sculpture design is based on the statue in the old bear pit in the Botanical gardens. A bit of a grizzly inspiration (ahem) but undoubtedly a great form. The mascot of the charity is a bear too. The statues themselves are absolutely huge. This will be the tallest sculpture I have painted and I predict a step ladder will get some use.
The design, as always is under wraps. I can give you a couple of clues though. The piece I will be painting is going to be bold, bright and very me! When I heard that was the shortlisted design, I was slightly shocked. It was the most experimental design I submitted, but I always like to submit a bit of a wild card. I do it in the hope that it will get picked, of course. But it’s usually a design that’s a bit wilder than your average sculpture.
I cannot wait to bring the design to life and I think about how sweet it will be when the trail goes live. A whole year after painting! I start my work on the sculpture next week. It’ll be a dream to go out to work again (socially distanced of course!).
Follow me on social media for some sneaky peeks at the process 🙂