Getting Organised – a new obsession..

I like lists. I like notebooks. I like the security of writing things down. (Especially after a major computer problem which meant a complete reset and rebuild of my PC!)

Trouble is, I write things down on anything. I have about 4 or 5 notebooks on the go, as I can never find the same one two days running. I have notes on bits of paper held in a “safe” place (probably never to be seen again..) .

I have scribbles on post it notes – some of which are stuck inside the notebooks that I cannot find…

So I decided I really had to do something about. I tried planners I had printed from the interweb thingy, a filofax (that was good for a while, but was getting expensive for all of the refills..) and just keeping a diary (which was ok, but restrictive as you had to know when you wanted to do everything)

I had heard mention of bullet journaling and seen a few cute pictures on the likes of pinterest and wondered if that would be good for me. (To be honest initially it just looked liked another excuse to doodle)

If you don’t know what a Bullet Journal is you can google it for a detailed explanation, but for me it is a place where I can record everything in ONE place. It’s paper based. (I am sure there are electronic versions, but I love my paper) and it is easy to do.

All you need is a notebook (there are some in my Etsy shop.. ;)) and pens/pencils. Some people have stickers in there. You may also want little sticky tab things to mark key pages.

You can record what you like in it (again google, you tube and Pinterest will help with ideas – but some of the common components are “future logs” – so a page for each month, each week, each day if you like (you don’t have to add them all at the start.. they can be added as you go, because of the magical index), plus pages for “collections” – for me that includes Illustration Ideas, Places I would like to Visit, Books I would like to read. Oh – and my list of where I have put things in a safe place! !

A page from my bullet journal
A good excuse for more doodles

But the key thing (for me anyway) is the index. Instead of having to flick through the book, I just look at the index and go straight there. Yep – simples,Β  yet I had not even considered it in previous notebooks πŸ˜€

I am not using mine as a diary, or to track my fitness, as I have electronic things to track those (more obsessions), but that’s the beauty of it – it’s completely flexible.

Ok –Β  so I am new to this. The novelty might wear off. But for now I am embracing the whole concept – it will be interesting to see if it makes me more organised andΒ  whether it helps me remember a few more things πŸ™‚ I am sure I will update you at some point.

Thanks once again for putting up with the waffle!

Lots of love, Jac xx

Moving Forward…

Hello! Long time to see….I know, it’s my fault.

Those of you who follow me on social media will know that I slowed things down over the summer. I didn’t disappear, I just wasn’t drawing as much. I made a decision to stop doing craft fairs, and I closed my Etsy online shop.

Things had got… well, muddled is perhaps a good word.

Yes, I was selling at craft fairs.

Yes, I was selling on Etsy.

But I was beginning to question the time it takes to prepare for a craft fair, or prepare one product for listing on Etsy. Ultimately I realised that those activities take me away from what I love – which is drawing.

Of course, I also have a “day job” – which is busy, and can be stressful. Due to a few changes there, my routine was thrown a little so I needed to adjust to that. (I love the day job. I think I have said before, no matter what path I chose, I likely will always have another job, as I need to the interaction. I am not one that can spend all hours alone in the studio all of the time)

In terms of my illustration work, I felt I was too focussed on producing designs that works for my printed items. I know that is ultimately what people buy – but that’s just it, I was being driven by what other people wanted, with no time to draw what I wanted. The printed items also have to be specific sizes and formats – so quite restrictive.

This will seem strange to any of you with a true business mind. I should of course be doing what people want, as that’s where the money will come from.

But that’s just it.

As an illustrator you need to keep your creativity. If you are constantly thinking about how commercial a piece is, you will just stick to a formula. You stop developing, no time to experiment. Eventually I believe that this would be bad for business, as people come to me as I can produce things that are different.

So – I had to take a bit of time out to figure out the direction I wanted to go in.

Was it successful. Well – yes and no!

I did progress a few personal pieces. I loved doing this. No client requirements. No time pressures. No budget to stick to (so no limit as to how long I could spend on these pieces). Ideas started flowing again. My passion for drawing returned. So from that perspective it was a great success!

Breathe in, Breathe Out
Breathe in, Breathe Out

However, I still don’t know what direction I want to go in! πŸ˜€

For the time being, I have reopened my Etsy shop. I will continue with my printed products but there may be less of them and those I do will be ones I like (selfish I know!). There may also be more original art.

I am increasing the one of a kind personalised work that I do –Β  this will be cards and illustrations (so be warned, there will be marketing ahead :D)

I will make sure I leave time for experimenting and for personal projects. And most importantly I will continue to develop my portfolio and work hard to become a professionally published illustrator.

I will not (and I am sorry to those who have visited me at events) be returning to the craft fair circuit. Not for the foreseeable future. The preparation time needed, and the time I spend there is just too much. One day at a fair is three days of work (plus travel, petrol, parking etc) and it’s just not economically viable. (So I do sometimes think with my business head on!)

Anyway. Thank you for reading all the way to the end of my waffle, and thank you for supporting Jac’s Little Welsh Studio.

In summary: I am still here and I still want to make the world a happier placeΒ  – one doodle at a time!

Till next time then,

Love Jac xx

Balloons, Bunting and Books

A couple of weeks ago myself, Ted and my long suffering husband (Mr E) went on a day Β trip to a little place a couple of hours drive away, called Hay on Wye.

It’s a small Welsh village/town – which is, in many respects like many other Welsh villages…

but Hay is a town of books. There are books shops galore. New books, old books, really old books. Picture books, fiction, non fiction…. I think that if you can imagine a book you can probably find it in one of the many amazing bookshops in this quiet little town.

And the week we went was no ordinary week … this time, Hay was not the sleepy, quaint little town I had been to before , or the way you imagine a little Welsh town to look.

Instead, it was bustling with people. There were balloons and banners, the streets lined with stall selling all sorts of items from Welshcakes (yummy), to ice cream (just as yummy), to clothes, to candles.

There were adults of all ages, children and dogs. What an atmosphere!

But why, what wakes a quaint little town and make it a huge attraction?

Why books, of course! We had travelled to Hay for the annual Literary Festival.

Hay Festival Fun
Hay Festival Fun

It was the first time we had ever been (yes, I know, we only live two hours away, no excuse – but it’s true), and it certainly won’t be the last. Ted & I loved every minute. (Mr E did too – but he mainly did the town and river part).

BUT – before I get carried away with the romance of it all – a word of warning.

It’s busy. Very busy. Narrow streets see lots of traffic – pedestrians and motorised traffic. If you don’t like crowds, it’s probably not for you.

At the festival site, there are queues. For everything – you will queue for coffee, queue for ice cream, queue for the loo (although that’s normal anywhere I think!), queue for the shows, for the signings, at the book shop… Be prepared to spend lots of time queueing.

And beware of grumps. I think it’s linked to the queues. I encountered one or two very grumpy people. Small children I can forgive – queues are very boring.

Grown adults of 50+, being rude and grumpy at such an event – no need. I do hope you don’t get one of those in the book shop queue – honestly – the sales assistants are doing their best, give them a break!

But – yes, another but. -If you can get past all that, there are books.

Lots of books.

Storytelling, Activities. You can spot celebrities. You can watch people’s eyes light up as they pick up a book, see their favourite author or simply eat some rather delicious food.

There are smiles, there is laughter, there are people just all getting along. We were there when the UK security alert was at critical. There is nothing makes you smile more than a heavily armed police officer talking to children about the Giant Jumperee. (OK a child and me….)

And, there are many talks and shows you can go to. Ted and I went to one.

We went to see Julia Donaldson – author of (you guessed it) The Giant Jumperee and The Gruffalo – and many others of course. This was inspirational – she talked about her process, how she works with illustrators – we saw a video of Illustrator Helen Oxenbury in her studio – got to see snippets of Axel Scheffler’s sketchbook…

Julia and her family even acted our the Giant Jumperee for us all, and we all sang along to the Jumperee song. I met Julia afterwards – got her autograph – and she even spoke to Ted. (She was lovely)

The day Ted met Julia Donaldson
The day Ted met Julia Donaldson

To see the faces in that audience – see how the children were engaged.

Some say books are dying out due to e-books and online content – well if that day at the Hay Festival is any indication that is very far from the truth. Books and story telling are very much still with us – and the future looks great.

 

Find Your Happy Place
Find Your Happy Place

As you know – my dream is to be an illustrator of children’s books. Well – that day – that one special day, I felt like I was one step closer to that dream.

Hay – we loved you – and we will be back!

 

PS – don’t forget, you can find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Dreams versus Reality

Hello.

It’s been a while (again). I realise my posts here can be quite eratic – To be honest I have struggled with what to say (which will shock some of you I know!), but, for various reasons, I feel I have found my voice again, so am giving it another go.

 

I thought I’d start at the beginning (always the best place I find) – Who am I?

Well, I’m Jackie (Jac), and I am an illustrator (oo sounds like a confession lol!)

 

So. An illustrator. That’s me. But what does that really mean?

 

Well in my head it means indulging my passion for drawing all day every day. Sitting at my pristine desk, in my pristine studio, surrounded by clean white furniture, Β bunting and beautiful art work.

 

The view to the side of my drawing board
The view to the side of my drawing board

But then, I always have had a creative mind πŸ˜€

 

Reality…

I don’t draw all day every day. I am a late starter. That basically means that by the time I set my heart on this path I had fallen into the conventional trap of job, house,car etc, etc.

Over the years I got used to leading a very pleasant life of a nice home, new cars, pretty shoes, dresses and eating out.

That costs money and the starving artist syereotype is not for me (and my hubby probably wouldn’t be keen either). Β Sorry – I know – many people sacrifice all for their art, and perhaps if it was just me I would do that (maybe) – but it’s really not fair to take other people with me!

 

The need to maintain this pleasant lifestyle lead to me having a full time job, as well as my illustration work.

4 days a week I travel 100 miles round trip to be an Information Manager for an emergency services organisation. (the one with the big red trucks). It’s fun, rewarding and interesting work (for those that like that kind of thing :D)

 

Every day off I get, I spend in the studio. Ish.

I also might run a duster round the house occasionally, do the odd bit if shopping, drink a lot of coffee and eat a bit of cake, washing, ironing and all sorts of other “real life” tasks – you know, those things we all really don’t like but are a necessary evil to our civilised lifestyles.

If I could, every day off, I would be in that studio from dusk till dawn (and probably longer). And some days I am πŸ™‚

I do try to draw every day though, be that working on a commission piece, something personal for my portfolio or just a very quick doodle in the sketchbook. (Those that follow me on social media will be familiar with my evening Daily Doodle slot).

Do I wish I didn’t have another job? Well, sometimes – if I am honest – sometimes I do think that. But,on the flip side, that income means I have time for the personal portfolio projects, I am not pressured into taking on every commision (like those I know my work woukd not suit so much).

It also gets me out, I work with some great people, which I would miss if it was just me and the four studio walls.

And what about that studio?Β  Is it pristine??Β  What do you think? Absolutely not!

It’s “lived in”, Β “creative”…Β  Ok a little bit messy. But you have to have a dream don’t you!

Speaking of which, my dream is to illustrate children’s books… So, its back to the drawing board for me. A dragon awaits!

 

Dragon - personal project - work in progress
Dragon – personal project – work in progress

If you would like to see more of my work (the illustration side – not the information part!), then you can find me on:

Facebook – www.Facebook.com/JacsStudio

Twitter – www.Twitter.com/JacsStudio

Instagram – www.instagram.com/Jacs.Studio

Why I Draw…

Last time, I told you about my hibernation habits (otherwise known as doing too much for too long, till the body says stop.)

 

Well, one way I stop is to draw.

Yes, I know – that is also β€œwork”. I am paid (by my extremely lovely customers) to draw. But it doesn’t feel like work.

 

More importantly – I have to sit still(ish) while I do it. Β  And I need to concentrate on what I am doing. Β As a resuly, my mind focuses on that one thing.

 

It may be a penguin, a dog, a bear or a toadstool. But at that moment, I am focussed completely on that one thing.

 

It’s my time. All the conflicting voices are shut down – there is no room for them.

 

I can get completely immersed in the work – I will sometimes forget to go cook tea (my poor long suffering husband can testify to that) – but that just shows how much I am enjoying it.

 

To me – it’s like a meditation – mindfulness. (I do practice mindfulness meditation too). It forces me to slow down.

 

Without my drawing, my world would be in a constant spin – a massive merry-go-round with no stop button.

 

So – I want to say thank you! Thank you for following me, liking my work – buying my work. It has encouraged me to keep going – and has undoubtedly been good for me too!

 

And I love that someone, somewhere out there, smiles when they see one of my pictures πŸ™‚

 

OK then – I am off to paint some toadstools

Magic Pencils
Jac wants to bring happiness to the world through her work.

Till next time,

Love Jac xxx

If you would like to see more of my work, you can find me on various social media channels – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – and you can buy my “ready to post” items online too.

 

Burnt Soup

So – every now and again, my body throws a wobbly. It decides I have done too much and that it doesn’t want to do anything more. This week was one of those times. I started the week a bit tired, and it just got worse. Thoughts got muddled, mistakes were made. Then, finally, my body decided enough was enough and that hibernation was the only thing to do.

Queue feeling freezing cold, no matter how many layers you wear (indoors, with central heating I may add), feeling too tired to pick up a book or even a magazine. The inability to string a whole sentence together without the words being jumbled. And (the worst bit) – the inability to doodle. (I had nether the energy to hold a pencil, nor any spark of imagination.

In fact – the only thing you can do is sleep.

Sometimes PJ's and Slippers is the only acceptable way to dress.
Sometimes PJ’s and Slippers is the only acceptable way to dress.

14 hours sleep on the first night. Finally you do manage to get up, reach the sofa… a bit of a nap (OK another hour or so)… it’s not a pretty sight I imagine – this pyjama wearing grumpy thing dragging itself around the house – just about managing sofa – kettle – back to sofa.

One day I managed to doze off while making soup (cooking real food is good for you they say)… Well, I can tell you it is in fact possible to burn soup, a feat I never though was possible πŸ™ (Thank goodness for working smoke alarms!)

I’ve never really figured out why this happens – lots of theories – nothing conclusive. But it does – and all I can do is to what my body blinking well says – cos I can’t do a thing about it!

Now I don’t want this to sound all doom and gloom – because it really isn’t. There are benefits…

On the plus side, I caught up on a few films. Most films were children’s ones that require little in the way of real concentration – which is fab, because how often do we get an excuse to watch kids films all day (especially when you have no children lol!)

I save a lot of money – I can’t drive, so no fuel costs, I can’t drag myself round the shops, I can’t even be bothered internet shopping – so I am guessing bank managers the world over are jumping for joy (not so much the shop keepers).

And when my body decides it’s caught up again, it gives me back my imagination. Soooo many ideas come flooding in. This has to be the best part πŸ™‚

I know I am back once I can pick up that pencil and draw again.

So – watch out for doodles, new projects and interesting social media updates.

This β€œhibernation” doesn’t happen all that often, once every two – three months, and lasts only a couple of days. I’ve never been able to predict accurately when it will happen, so it has become one of life’s little β€œadventures” – and I’ll be sure to take you along with me – especially the new ideas part.

I guess the moral of the story is – listen to your body. It knows what it’s doing! And maybe learn to slow down… but I’m not quite ready for that yet!

(Oh – and check your smoke alarm, You never know when you might burn the soup!)

So – I’m off to the drawing board to get some of these ideas from my head to paper. Talk to you all again soon!

Love Jac xx

Birthdays in December

Hello Everyone, how are you?

Theodore.E.Bear
Theodore.E.Bear

Sorry I missed last week – things have been rather busy here. Lot’s going on – what with a bathroom refit and Jac trying to prepare for Christmas.

It’s been noisy and dusty – and on some days very cold – but Jac says it will all be worth it when it’s finished. I hope she is right – my fur coat is gathering a lot of dust!

Drawing board wise – most work Jac has been doing has been Christmas related – lots of commissions, stocking up the Etsy shop and preparing for Christmas craft fairs (coming soon!).

But it’s not all Christmas – Jac reminded me today that people have birthday’s all year round – so she has been working on some birthday commissions too.

Don't forget those with December birthday!
Don’t forget those with December birthdays!

It’s going to be very busy over the next few weeks, so keep an eye out on Facebook, Twitter and Instgram for updates! There will be gingerbread men (and ladies); donkeys and Β many other characters, so do stay tuned. And of course, I’ll be back next week to tell you all about it πŸ™‚

Till next time then,

Love from Theodore.E.Bear xxx

A Day Trip

Hello All

I’m back again! Sorry I missed you all last week, but every bear needs a little time off. And both Jac and I had a day off together last week, so we hopped on a train to Swansea. Jac said we were going to an Art Gallery and Museum – the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, which has just been reopened.

Well, I didn’t know what that was, but Jac promised I would like it. And she was right – it was a big building just full of lots of things to look at. There was painting and shiny things, and even videos.

But the best thing was a room full of sketches by someone called Leonardo da Vinci – there were pages from sketchbooks, and the work was amazing. Jac said this was a special exhibition, something we’d possibly never see again, so she made sure to read all the information. After we had looked at everything, Jac bought me a book with all the pictures we had seen – copies of the sketchbook pages, so that I can look at it whenever I want. Jac says she likes things like that for inspiration, I can see why!

 

Leonardo da Vinci - 10 drawings from the Royal Collection
Leonardo da Vinci – 10 drawings from the Royal Collection

After the museum, we went for a lovely coffee, and enjoyed an evening out.

The next day both of us were raring to get to the drawing board – I love watching jac at work. This week she has been working on so many different things – there has been giraffes, and cars – and little old ladies. Apparently next week there will be donkeys and doves, it’s all very exciting.

Now I am afraid I must sign off, as I need to get my Halloween costume ready!

Theodore.E.Bear - Wizard extraordinaire!
Theodore.E.Bear – Wizard extraordinaire!

Till next weekΒ then

Theodore.E.Bear

 

PS – don’t forget, you can buy from Jac on Etsy, and also see work in progress through Facebook and Instagram.

Whitterings of an Illustrator…

Theodore.E.Bear is having a rest tonight, so it’s back to me to write this weeks blog – but too be honest I am out of practice! I never know what to write about.

I mean – do I tell you about the week I have had, or maybe about the glorious weather we have had – which has made the trees in their Autumn colours look just stunning – or do I just follow some random thought path (which let’s be honest is my normal approach!).

You’d think I would have a plan – I mean, I (or Ted, of course) write this every week! But no, every week I suddenly realise it’s Sunday night – again… and sit here looking at the computer looking for inspiration. While watching Strictly (which I can’t talk about in case you are recording it – but I am looking forward to Halloween special).

Perhap’s I should ask you? What would you like to read in this blog? Any suggestions (be nice!) please let me know via Facebook or Twitter, I shall see what I can do πŸ™‚

By the way – I have actually been quite busy with orders and stocking up for the Festive season! There will be new characters at Jac’s this Christmas πŸ™‚ (Available soon in my Etsy shop).

Mr Gingerbread, a new character in Jacs Little Welsh Studio
Mr Gingerbread, a new character in Jacs Little Welsh Studio

I think that’s probably enough waffling for now – I’ll try to think of something better for you next week (or I’ll make sure Ted is back!)

Love Jac xx

Taking it slow..

Hello again everyone – have you had a good week? It’s been very quiet here this week, as Jac was a bit poorly with a bad cold and couldn’t spend as much time as normal at the drawing board.

Don’t worry though, I looked after her wih plenty of hot honey and lemon drinks. As a bear, I recommend honey – I wasn’t so sure about the lemon, but Jac said it’s good for her, so I had to add a little really.

Although Jac wasn’t able to get on with orders as she woudl have liked, she was very excited when a man in a big van arrived with a giant box. Apparently it was full of new items for the studio shop. It’s all still being sorted out – but I did manage a sneaky peek and spotted bookmarks, mirrors and bags – all new deisgns I hadn’t seen before. Jac says I can’t tell you to much yet, but she will share pictures as soon as they are ready. (And they will all be added to the shop throughout the week).

She did say I could let you all know about the bookmarks – especially since she showed you the designs for those a while ago. There are cupcakes, and teapots and cats… not all on the same bookmark of course. You can see them all in more detail in The Little Welsh Studio shop – why not take a peek!

The lastest bookmark designs at The Little Welsh Studio
The lastest bookmark designs at The Little Welsh Studio

So – I guess it will be a bit busier this week as Jac catches up – so I better go now – but I’ll be back next week.

Love from Theodore.E.Bear (a.k.a Ted)