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.

 

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.

Alphabet Adventures

Hello again everyone πŸ™‚

What a great week it’s been here in the studio. Jac has been kept busy with commissions and sending out packages from her Etsy shop.

She has also been working on a project to create an alphabet illustration, and has just started sketching ideas for the letter B. I am very excited, as I get to feature in some of those – and she took me to a ball pit for inspiration. That was great fun – it was just like a swimming pool – but instead of water (which gets my fur all soggy) it was full of brightly coloured balls. You can jump in them, hide in them, or just throw them around. I can’t wait to go again!

Ted.E.Bear, the ball pit and balloons
Ted.E.Bear loves to play!

Did you know that Jac publishes her sketches on her Facebook page? And – you can suggest ideas and sometimes she will turn your idea into one of her doodles. That’s what she is doing with the alphabet – she posts an idea most evenings. I think she will be starting on the letter C soon.

Today Jac went out without me (I was looking after the studio for her) – and met with some people who, like her, draw pictures and write stories. She said the meeting was really good – and that she has lots of ideas for new stories with me in them! I can’t wait to hear what she has in store – I’m sure she will let me tell you all about it at some point.

Well – that’s about this for now. Next week, Jac and I will be working on more commissions – which will involve something called Halloween. I am not sure what that is – but I am sure I will find out. Jac says it involves dressing up in costumes – which I always love to do. My favourite is my lion costume – maybe I can wear that this week (it’s nice and warm, it’s getting cold outside now).

Teddy, or lion?
Ted.E.Bear just loves dressing up!

Thanks for taking time to read my stories – I am really enjoying it.

Until next time

Theodore.E.Bear

Stay Safe!

Hello All – and thank you for joining me again πŸ™‚ I must say I am enjoying writing Jac’s blog!

This week it was a bit wet here in South Wales, so we didn’t get out and about lots – but we did walk into town for our shopping. On the way, we saw lots of children on bikes wearing yellow vests. Jac explained they were learning how to be safe while riding their bikes on the road – like letting other people know where they are going by using their arms to signal what way they are turning, and learning to look behind them to see what is there.

I noticed they all had hard hats on – Jac told me Β these were called helmets, and said these are very important when you ride a bike (or scooter or skateboard). She explained that if I was to fall off, a helmet could help prevent me hurting my head so badly.

I don’t ride my bike very often, but I think I will always wear my helmet when I do.

Stay Safe whilst Cycling
Ted always wears a helmet when cycling – stay safe!

The rest of the week, Jac was busy working on commission work. She is a bit sad as she can’t share any of it yet (most are surprises for people’s Christmas) – but she has told me that this week she has an idea for a new project which you can all get involved with – so do check out Jac’s Studio Facebook page for details on that πŸ™‚ (And, if you are looking for gifts your self – do check out The Little Welsh Studio on Etsy)

Till next week then,

Love from Theodore.E.Bear (aka Ted)

(PS – Jac says thank you to Cycle Training Wales for her inspiration this week. She saw them out at least twice with two different schools – keep up the good work she says!)

Introducing – Theodore.E.Bear

Hello πŸ™‚

I am Theodore Edward Bear. (Ted.E.Bear or Ted for short). I live in a small town in South West Wales, home to the Little Welsh Studio.

Ted.E.Bear a character created by Jackie Evans, Illustrator
Hi – I’m Ted.E.Bear

I live with Jackie (most people call her Jac). That’s her legs in the picture (I am not a very tall bear).

Jac owns the Little Welsh Studio, and is an illustrator – which means she draws pictures for people. (You might have seen me in some of them). Sometimes she get very busy, and so doesn’t get time to update her blog as often as she would like to.

That’s where I step in. To be honest, as a Teddy Bear, I wasn’t really sure what a blog was – but Jac explained it’s a way of telling stories to people so that they can read it on their phone or computer.

I really like stories, so I offered to help out by writing the occasional tale.

I am not sure exactly what I will write, but I do love adventures. And I have lots of friends here in the studio – like Tarquin the Turtle and Doodle the Mouse, so I am sure I will be able to find something for all of you.

I plan to write my first proper story later this week – so do pop back to see what my friends and I have been up to. (I’ll ask Jac to let you all know when it’s ready, I know she uses things called Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, so I am sure you will find me).

So – I’ll sign off for now – look forward to seeing you all.

Lots of Love

Theodore. E . Bear (Ted).

Keep Believing…

I type this from my studio.

After a leisurely coffee and croissants for breakfast, I’ve strolled through to the desk. I’ve left the main house – all clean, tidy and organised – washing and ironing all done for the day.

My board is sitting on a beautiful whitewashed antique table, next to my matching shelves, adorned with pretty and colourful keepsakes.

As the sun streams through the window – my personalised bunting casts a faint shadow over my current piece of work.

I pick up a pencil form the array of jars full of colour coordinated pencils, and begin to sketch out ideas for my latest book…..

OK, OK – that’s not really what it’s like. Really it’s grab a coffee, do a bit of social net working with breakfast in one hand – schedule posts for the day and rush out the door to day job. (with the house covered in a layer of dust and the ironing in an ever growing mountain :D)

Day job over I am at the desk – which is circa 1980, and not whitewashed – but is surrounded by pretty items – and my pencils are all in jars and are (almost) colour co-ordinated. And I do have personalised bunting, courtesy of a very lovely friend.

But – you have to have a dream. A goal.

And that’s mine – to spend my days drawing, painting and writing – my evenings at home with friends and family. And I know one day that scene won’t be a dream any more. And the first stage was to write it down. Here in my blog – because now you know – and now I have to do it, because you will all be watching. (Although I have to warn you – the bit about all the ironing being done may be a little unrealistic…)

Of course – I can’t do any of that without you, so I want to take a moment to say thank you to everyone who has, and continues to, support Jac’s Little Welsh Studio. I cannot tell you how wonderful it feels when someone hits that”like” button, or Re-tweets a picture – it’s all of you lovely people that have allowed me to start truly believing in myself, in the studio.

I’m continually working on new designs – listening to what you like – and creating things i hope you would like to buy. Things that make you smile. Things that make the word just that little bit happier.

Dream Big
Dream Big

My book? Well, that’s a bit more of a distant dream – that’s pretty much in my head. But – there are lots of short story ideas in there, I’m trying to persuade them to come out. Of course, many involve Ted – so he needs to be persuaded to…. maybe next week…let’s see shall we…

In the meantime – dream big everyone – and believe!! πŸ™‚

(Don’t forget to check out all my social media channels – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest – and of course my online Etsy shop. There is no escaping me!)

Love Jac xx

How time flies!

23rd January. What – really – already? Time really does fly when you are having fun!

So far January has been an amazing month for Jac.

Normally January is quiet, but already I have booking for commissions all the way through to December, and membership to Jac’s Colouring Club has proved to be popular. (Click here for details on that).

The Daily Doodle is another hit – the best place to see them is my Facebook page, one new doodle, every day, just for fun. In the end I’ll have 366 of them – and perhaps some will be developed into illustrations or printed items. (If you have a favourite, do let me know!)

I’m currently working on Valentine’s day items – as well as commissions for weddings, anniversaries and birthdays. It will soon be time to start Mother’s Day items too!

Smile and be happy
Start every day with a smile

I have always loved drawing – andΒ now I know that my drawings can bring a smile to people’s faces, it makes it all the more special.

Ooo – I almost forgot – you can now find me on Instagram too!

Until next time then,

Love Jac xxx