Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Number Ten

Ginger Fig is a delicious shop in Bath Place, Taunton. 

They sell all sorts of lovely stuff and have a gorgeous, light, airy gallery upstairs to support local artists. They are also situated on a very cute little street.

One reason I particularly like them is that they have just agreed to stock my greetings cards, which makes them the tenth shop to make that jolly wonderful decision and means I am exactly 2 thirds of the way to my goal. 

When I first set out to print my cards and sell them a few short months ago I decided that I would aim for 15 shops to stock my cards by Christmas. Don't ask why I chose that number and that date, it's just a goal and I find it helpful to have a deadline and an aim. 

So onwards I go, seeking out lovely inviting shops that I would love to shop in myself, asking their owners or managers to please take my cards. I have learnt a lot so far and I'm sure there are many things I still need to be taught, like don't leave THAT off your invoice, you Wombat. 

The lovely Catherine of Ginger Fig has also asked if I have any prints of the colourful animal designs that she could stock, mounted, alongside the cards. And I don't. But, I will! 

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Taking Off

I love my boots. I am not engrossed in fashion or the need to keep up with others. I don't care about brands and designer labels. I just like really comfy boots. The boots I have are Doc Martens Authentic Wedge boots and I am convinced they give me more energy. They make the street feel more bouncy and my legs feel stronger and longer. They make me feel like I could Pogo all the work and they make me take two stairs at a time.

Yesterday as I walked down the high street I had a definite spring in my step. 

The combination of the cooler air, the thought of going home for lunch to see the Kitties, and the boots I was wearing all added to the bounce in my stride and the urge to skip along, to run, to leap, to take off. 

I really felt at that moment that if sheer willing was all it took to fly, I could will myself along and up into the air.  I will remember this feeling when I am trudging along tired and heavy or hot and flagging. I am glad for my legs and I must remember to use them to their fullest while they are young and strong.  I love the feeling of stretching them to step up our step Victorian steps. I love striding in my boots.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Book Reviews - 'Stuck' & 'Daisy Dawson'

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers
Harper Collins Children's Books

Oliver Jeffer's latest picture book continues to prove his ability to give life and wings to a simple idea and turn it into an adventure. 'Stuck' explores the problems of throwing good after bad. Literally. It all begins with a little boy named Floyd getting his kite stuck in a tree. The ridiculous lengths he will go to, to retrieve it, are beyond belief and you will not fail to be surprised by the boy's lack of logical thinking. Just when you think things can't get sillier they do and just when you think the boy will solve the problem … he doesn't.
So much is left unspoken but as you look at the pictures you will know exactly what the author is getting at.

Perplexing yet entertaining, get Stuck in.

Daisy Dawson On The Farm
by Steve Voake illustrated by Jessica Meserve  Walker Books

'Daisy Dawson On the Farm' is the latest in a sweetly charming series about a little girl who can speak with animals. This is the premise for a string of adventures involving all sorts of creatures, at the seaside, in the snow, in a secret pool and everywhere she goes.

I would encourage anyone with a little girl who is gathering confidence in reading alone to try these books. Firstly they are fun, short adventures with lots of appeal. The text is laid out with plently of space and injected with oodles of illustrations. No page escapes the odd squiggle or sketch so the blocks of text are not daunting but inviting. Early readers will gobble up the words and be flying onto longer books 

before they outgrow their next pair of school shoes.

Secondly, the pictures are perfect. They are a gorgeously thick, charcoally black and, whether it's the bough of a tree arching over the top of a page or Daisy striding along the bottom of one, each drawing is a wonderful frame for the text. The animals are all very believable and expressive and Daisy is a delight.

Whether you start at the first or the last book, you will be     sure to dive straight into Daisy's happenings. On the farm, though, we follow her quest to bring relief to the hot, thirsty animals who are struggling through a drought. With her clever plans and ability to take everyone into consideration, Daisy will always find a way in the end.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Living the Dream

As an illustrator with a dream, I often wonder when my dream will come true. When will I be earning a living from creativity? When will I have a book published? When, when when? But lately I have been realising how very blessed I am. I am understanding that I AM living the dream right now, every day. I am IN my happily ever after and I am trying to live accordingly. 

 I married my best friend and I am grateful for every moment in his company. He is my dream come true and I want for nothing. I have been realising that I have no right to expect that everything should always go my way, that all my goals will be reached. 

What I have is enough. I am content. I am more than content. I am so very deeply blessed and I know joy. Anything extra is just that, an extra. A bonus. If I succeed that will be so lovely. If I don't, I will not allow it to wreck my world. 

It is also dawning on me that the time before a particular dream comes true is a very precious time. I have hope of wonderful things to come. I get creative when I can. I think about ideas a lot of the time. I plan and explore continuously. But I am no longer desperate. I used to think that if I was truly talented I would be snapped up by a publishing company immediately, that it would all happen very quickly. That if it didn't, there was something wrong. Either they had got it wrong or I just had no talent at all.

That early momentum and motivation was helpful, but you can't live that way for long; you burn out. I know now how naive and foolish I was all those years ago when I first sent my artwork out into the world. I am an older, more mature person now and I am glad I didn't succeed back then. I would not have learned so much. I am still on this road to "success" but I am walking at a pace that is sustainable. 

I guess I'm just a little pensive right now, having just had my birthday. I was thinking about what each year brings to me and what I bring to each year. I have often been self-absorbed and selfish and it's a constant process to think of and act for others. I keep reminding myself that when my time comes to leave this world I would like to do so knowing I've acted well. That good intentions are carried out, that lazy options are ignored and that going the extra mile will be my habit. Leaving a mark on the world doesn't have to mean that galleries everywhere will forever display my drawings or that bookshops in every town will keep a continuous stock of my books. I hope that the mark I leave will be in people's lives. That the state of my heart will be open and clear to think of others and love them. That I will have patience and forgiveness for those that test it. That I will have restraint where necessary, that I will choose kind and encouraging words instead of harsh, accusing ones. I sometimes wonder why everyone in the world expects the world to change because of what others do. The world is a wonderful and terrible place. We make it so. A good world begins inside our hearts and if you want to make an impact, start there. If you have children, teach them too.  Teach them the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, honesty and deception, kindness and cruelty, love and hate. It begins inside us. For those who wish the world was different, change is possible. 

I realise that there are a lot of expectations in the world. Expectations from parents and friends. From the general public and the media. People expect us all to want more. We even feel we need more. But what we actually NEED is less. We need less in order to learn to appreciate. What is the point of having all we need if we are not satisfied with it? I want to appreciate all that is good in the world. And for all that is bad, I will not be deterred.