Monday, March 31, 2014

Interview with Eileen from Eileen's Craft Studio

I have another craft Interview for you today the lovely Eileen from Eileen's Craft Studio.  After you read her interview why not pop over and like her page on Facebook and then have a lovely browse round her folksy shop.  Links below.

What is the main, Art/Craft you are known for?
That is an interesting question and I guess it would depend on which group of people you talk to.  To a great many they would know me for my embroidery and sewn pieces.  While for other’s it would be my crochet and knitted items.

Is this a full time job?/Second income/ Or hobby for you?
This is now my main job.  However I have made and sold part time for many years.  I taught arts and crafts until ten months ago.

How long have you been doing it?
I opened my folksy shop in June 2012.  I have been designing and creating a wide variety of items for over 40 years.

 Could I have a little potted history of your creative life please?
I started out very young as my mother was a knitting pattern designer for a very large knitting pattern company so I learnt to knit long before I started school.  I remember knitting my first item a vest for my new little brother when I was 3 years old on a pair of metal no 7 knitting needles which I still use to this day.  I taught myself to crochet at the age of 7 by deconstructing a crochet granny square from a blanket my aunts had made me.  I then learnt a few more crochet stitches from 2 elderly ladies but until last summer I’d never learnt to read a crochet pattern. I took up patchwork after seeing a display in my local library at the age of 10 and a year later due to the same library I taught myself to Crewel embroidery, blackwork and cross stitching from some wonderful books.  I’m a qualified seamstress and about 10years ago I added fabric painting and glass painting to my crafting knowledge base.

What do you love most about what you create and the process of creating it?
I love the creative process.  It could be a simple comment I might have overheard or something I’ve seen in my garden  that fire’s my imagination or simply a I need to produce something to keep me warm or replace a broken item in the home.  Forming an idea and then seeing the finished project is always exciting and often it means rethinking/adjusting one’s original idea.    It’s exciting when an idea comes out better then I first envisaged and you think gosh did I really make that?

Is this your total creative output or do you also work in other areas and if so what are they?
I have worked in wood so I can produce a nice dovetailed joint and produce a sturdy cupboard, bookcase or occasional table.  I am often found flower arranging or making preserves or producing scented candles. I enjoy enameling and glass engraving.   I have also been known to turn my hand to Topiary.  I am doing a lot of reading on the subject at present.

 Do you think that its important to specialise in one area or to have lots of creative outlets?  Can one impact on the other, in positive or negative ways?
I think it’s important to get a good grounding in a couple of disciplines and then learn the basic’s in a few other areas.  This then allows you to become even more creative and combine more than one discipline/skill into a single project.  I tend to become bored easily so having more than one outlet for my creativity is very important.  I often find when I work in one medium it will give me idea’s in other mediums so helps to keep the creative juices flowing.  A negative for myself is sometimes I might be working in one area which can push the creative process into overload where it means I want to hurry what I’m doing just so I can then move onto another areas.  I have learnt to be strict with myself so I quickly write a few notes for a later date so I can concentrate on the task in hand otherwise I fear I’d never complete a single project.

 What gets you out of bed in the morning and motivated to create wonderful things?
The thought of that finished item.  Wanting to know if what is in my head will match what my skill set can produce.  Trying to push myself into making something new it’s exciting.

Do you have the support of friends and family when crafting and do you and they value what you do?
I count myself blessed as my family is very creative we even take crafting holidays together.  I also married into a very creative family.  Making things with your hands is very important in our family.  We all tend to be hoarders in one way or another preferring to not just through things away but to mend or remake into something different.  My friends are of the same mind set.  So yes we are all very supportive of each other and will encourage each other.  Even without their support and encouragement the erge to create would not go away.  I would still do what I do.

Describe what your perfect Art/crafting day would be like?
Gosh my perfect crafting day would begin with reading through my source books that’s where I write down all my ideas.  Looking through all my wonderful stash which is vast and take’s up most of the house.  Then getting down to work on one or two different projects in my half built conservatory and not having to put everything away at the end of the day.  I love finishing off my day just watching TV while working on a piece of knitting or crochet work.

What are your aims and goals for the future
My aims are to keep working on my shop and start to add the fragile glass and china painted items into my shop.  At the moment I’m worried about them getting broken in transit to my customers so have I tend to reserve them for craft shows.   I also plan at some point to start running demonstration classes as I’m beginning to miss teaching arts and crafts.  I also plan on doing a few more ‘How To’ tutorials for the craft forum I’m a member of staff for.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A busy time and a new studio

Sorry there has been no interview this week, things have been a bit busy with a few personal matters, connected with my Dads Death and I also a fab weekend with my wonderful daughters, which was brilliant but exhausting.

Also, I can finally show you this Pet portrait I did,  it was commissioned for a 60th Birthday present.  It was completed a little while ago but I didn't want to spoil any surprises.  The new owner and the lady who paid for it were very pleased, so I am a happy bunny :-)

My Garage is also a bit more sorted.  

if you remember this was it, as I started to sort it 

 and this is how it is now.........................

I do quite like it but I have been busy sanding and polishing my Printers draw ready to put some of my beach find and sea glass collection in and its very handy for access to tools.  As for painting,  I did do one.  It was on a canvas I bought a little while ago, but I had bought the wrong one and it was  bit to long for what I wanted, so had just sat there. I wasn't worried about wasting the canvas so just splashed around and this is what came out.

Next Monday I should have another interview for you, so see you then

janice x

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Step by step acrylic painting - Seagull paddling

I thought you might like to see one of my recent paintings develop.  So here are 15 pictures taken while I was painting my little seagull.  

If you want to see them all together in a slide show then follow this link and it will take you to Youtube

Sunday, March 16, 2014

New Studio

So things have moved on from last week.  I have given myself a bit of a talking to and decided I have got to stop feeling sorry for myself and just get on and do stuff.  It doesn't matter if its any good, just to do it!!

So I did.....

First I did a watercolour, I wanted to play a bit more with my new KOH-I- NOOR paints,  they are very vibrant so I thought I would do a Sunset

 I offered it on Facebook for a bargain price as it was only a quick sketch and it was snapped up straight away and is off to its new home, as we speak  :-)

I then painted another acrylic seagull,  these little chaps have preoccupied me quite a bit recently. I started by putting them in my seascapes,  the usual sort of V shape birds,  but slowly they got more rounded and the I wanted to get closer still. This is the third close up I have done.  As always I love painting water so liked that this one was paddling along.

This one can be found for Sale in my folksy shop

Also I have had a re-think about studio space.  I decided that it would be a good idea to move into the garage.  We are very lucky to have a garage at the side of the house.  Its not actually big enough to put a car in and the front door hasn't opened for a few years. So we have managed to fill it up with complete junk.  Its such a waste of space.

In talking about it, Mr WD suggested getting a window put in and I thought that we could put patio doors in the end onto the garden.  But it would warrant a lot of effort as the greenhouse would have to be moved and we would need to get builders in, not a prospect I look forward to.  But it seems like a very viable option, so I would like to explore it.  The plan therefore is, to get me in asap ( I don't have  a lot of patience and when I want to do something, I just want it now!!! ).  So with help from my lovely Hubby and Son, we have moved all the junk down the bottom end and filled the shed.  I am then  going to paint the walls white to lighten it up and I will move in.   Its not a permanent solution but it will allow me to throw paint around a bit more and of course its rent free.

I think MR WD knows me too well to invest to much before I try, as I do have a bit of a reputation for changing my mind a lot... opps.  I am also worried that as its just a hop, skip and  a jump out of my back door then I wont feel its a work place and not be motivated to go in.  I know a couple have people have commented about the cold, but if you had ever visited me in the studios at Clevedon Craft Centre you would have realised that was something, I got used to.  The heating on ever went on a hour before students arrived,  I have a few small heaters , a lot of big jumpers and fingerless gloves.  We are also getting to that time of year where hopefully that wont matter  and if I do stay, I could get all the work done by the time next winter comes.  So I think its a good solution and I am actually very excited at having my own place again.

This is how its starting to look.  Hopefully the 2 old rocking horses will get moved next weekend and I should just get and list them on ebay as all my children are now late 20's early 30's so I don't they will be using them again and no sign of any grandchildren in the near future.

So things are looking a bit brighter and maybe by next week I will be in and snug as a bug in a rug

Bye for now

Janice x

Anne Corr - Handmade Books and Cards

I am loving all the interviews from fellow artists and Crafters and I hope you enjoy this weeks, which is an interview is with Anne Corr  from Handmade Books and Cards by Modestly.  Check out her wonderful Folksy store here;

and you can like her on Facebook here

Please let me know if you would like to feature in an interview in the future on my blog :-)

What is the main, Art/Craft you are known for?

My craft I am most interested in is handmaking books, which came out of making handmade cards.  It started as a hobby and was prompted by receiving a present from one of my closest friends.  After she had relocated to Yorks, I would receive lovely reminders from her, and this particular time she had sent me a blank handmade accordion square book.  I looked at it, and thought " I want to do that" , so I did,  and because I have always loved visual arts and literature, I decided to make one which reflected some of my preoccupations,a sort of keepsake journal.
I still have the original one Karen sent me, I can't bring myself to use it!  I have been creative for years, but have only been making books during the past couple of years.

Could I have a little potted history of your creative life please?

Living half a week in the Midlands, and the other in Essex I live a very simple life, having to travel light and know where everything is!  My family are nearly grown and flown - I have one of my two wonderful boys living with me still (when I am there!), but he will be applying for university this year.
My career before having my family was in printed packaging, and entailed elements of design within it. Staying at home with my boys was a lifestyle choice, and I never regretted it.  One of the aspects of staying at home is developing aspects of yourself that continue to challenge and develop you, just to avoid going completely stir crazy!

What do you love most about what you create and the process of creating it?

I enjoy every element of making my books, but probably the most thrilling bit is the planning - the moment when an idea plants itself and then the research sends me to different places to gather information.  I have loved literature all my life, so I find myself digging for quotations which have been the landscape in my mind.  It feels a little like I imagine archeology- I am mining for secrets in my own life, for self awareness and illumination, and the process is infinitely fascinating and rewarding.  The books are bonuses really!!

Is this your total creative output or do you also work in other areas and if so what are they?

I also love photography and digital illustration, from which I produce illustration for my cards, but also creates opportunity to offer my design work to a broader product base on sites like Society 6 and Redbubble.  I love the idea of someone drinking their coffee from a mug of my illustration, or having an i pad with my design in their pocket. I also like to give personal presents, so the opportunity to put my design onto clocks and mugs and totes is ideal!! It is so fulfilling to give someone a product that has your personal work on it.

An important influence since I was a young adult , literature and history have been more than diversions for me, they have been sanctuaries.  I was always someone who questioned, I distrusted easy answers, I wanted to uncover the whats and whys and hows. I love the connection that happens when I read something that a writer has written , or an artist has painted, because it opens up a channel within me that is often suppressed. Simply put, art and literature help me to feel.  That is why they are critical to me. I think I may be on some sort of spectrum that tunes in at a frequency slightly askew to alot of people. Writers and artists have helped me tune in to the frequency which suddenly clarifies and illuminates the world, and life becomes meaningful.

Do you think that its important to specialise in one area or to have lots of creative outlets?  Can one impact on the other, in positive or negative ways?

We live in a wonderful time of modern technologies and opportunities, but this gives us a paradox - because we can hear the very best music, see the genius paintings and buy designed artefacts that are manufactured in volume, we do not want to surround ourselves with 'stuff' we see as inferior in quality.  I can see why, but we lose a huge aspect of ourselves in accepting that model.  We need to create in order to feel human. I think it is as important as that. What we make is secondary to the function of learning a skill and practising it.  The immersion in a concentrated , focused endeavour is what the psychologists call 'flow' - and we all need it. Some feel it playing sport, or in the kitchen. I feel it when I work with words, and images.  Somehow I have to create something that blends the two things together. This is what I am doing now, and I know it will be temporary - I will want to move on to doing a different craft at some time, I definitely want to learn letterpress printing, but lack the room at present.

 Do you have the support of friends and family when crafting and do you and they value what you do?

My family are very supportive of my craft - they are aware that I have physical limitations to what I can do as I have fibromyalgia, a nasty condition that saps energy and limits physical activity.  They love the fact that I keep busy and focused and have a sense of achievement when I finish a project - it is easy to be defined by our limitations, but I refuse to be!!

Describe what your prefect Art/crafting day would be like

My perfect crafting day would be one where the imagination was immediately available to me ! Often I have to allow myself to be ' empty' in order to be able to create. It sounds a paradox, but the truth is that there's too much going on.  That is why I love travelling to the Isle of Skye, as it recharges me with the desire to be creative.  A creative life is not all making pretty things, alot is slog, taking time to dig deep for something that resonates, that demands to be played with. I love Keat's idea of 'negative capability'. That is the dream I asprire to!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Studio dilemas

Even though I have been blogging every week with the fabulous interviews of fellow Artists and Crafts people.   I haven't really updated you as to my situation for a while.

Since giving up my studio in December and loosing my Dad in January I have been a little bit unfocused.  I went from being very busy teaching and travelling to visit my Dad, to being completely on my own with nothing to do.   It great in so many ways, I am enjoying the freedom,  the first time in years I haven't had to work weekends and Bank Holidays which is bliss, and I now have time to spend  with my lovely Husband and great children. We also have a happy occasion coming up as my youngest daughter is getting married in July. so all is good in so many ways.  But things aren't quite right with my painting and in my studio ( spare bedroom).  As far as painting goes I have been rather unmotivated and uninspired.  Someone described me recently as boat without a rudder and I think it sums me up brilliantly.   

As you can see my workspace is cosy.  I am happy in it but I am slightly held back by the need not to splash paint around. The carpet is old and worn anyway and walls can be painted over, so its daft really that I should worry about it. 

The office side of it is great and I am happy with the amount of storage I have, but I do need to find a way to be more comfortable with dripping paint and splashing it about.

Its not stopped me actually painting,  but I haven't done much and I am back to being quite controlled with it,  which is something I don't want to be.  I have spend the last few years trying to loosen up and it would be a shame to not continue that.

Apart from the 3 paintings here then I have also done a pet portrait that I am really pleased with,  but I can't show you just yet, as its a surprise for a birthday coming up soon.

Although I am pleased with them generally they don't quite do it for me!  I know it sounds very arty farty but I want to let myself go.  I am not sure if I am holding back as I am still keeping my emotions in check or if it really is the space that is causing problems.

I nearly got a new studio last week,  there was a outbuilding in a old school, that came up recently,  I could have afforded it,  but it had problems with water and the owners didn't seem that interested in putting it right for me.  They didn't come back to me when I said I would only take it,  if the door was fixed and water was running, so I guess they couldn't sort it. But in retrospect it was not the right place for me.

We have also thought about putting a  garden office in,  apart from the expense,  and the hassle of installing it,  I am not convinced it would have any less distractions than being in the house.  
There is of course no hurry to find a solution,  I can, when the mood takes me paint anytime,  I really do want to make it work hereas I am generally enjoying being here but it is bugging me I can't quite get back on track.

We have a free weekend this week so I am hoping to grab Mr WD and see if we cant find a better solution for me in the room I am in?  I suppose its just trial and error and a solution, no doubt will be found, I just hope its soon x

Please pop back on Monday when I will have another interesting ( I hope) interview for you.  I am just off to start drafting it up now.

So see you later 

Janice x

Monday, March 10, 2014

Art in Wax and Interview with Hazel Rayfield

I have another interview today and this one is quite personal.  I have known Hazel on-line for a very long time and I even own a piece of her work.  She encouraged me to have a go at encaustic Art,  sometime ago.  It was not for me,  but I am in awe of what Hazel can produce using wax as a medium.  Take your time to visit her webpage and browse the wonderful work she has on offer.

and perhaps follow her on facebook

What is the main, Art/Craft you are known for?

I am an artist with a passion for painting in hot wax, often referred to as Encaustic Art.

I love to paint to flowers, Landscapes and Seascapes mostly.

Is this a full time job?/Second income/ Or hobby for you?

I am self employed and my art is now part of my career portfolio, having started as a hobby.

Together with being an artist, I am a web developer and have been creating websites and web graphics for many years, my first commercial website went live in 1998, but in the past year I have stepped back from this side of the business to focus more on my art and the now only work part time on web design.

I paint most weeks, at times most days, it is a balancing act, being an artist that sells their work isn't just about creating art I have found, but marketing, admin, accounts etc. also plays at part. Self promotion is hard but also an essential part. 

How long have you been doing it?

I have painted in other mediums for many years but started painting in wax in 2011.

Could I have a little potted history of your creative life please?

I am a self taught artist, I have always been a creative person and have painted on and off since I was a teenager, I have experimented with oils, acrylics and watercolours in later years. When I first painted it was in Oils then Acrylics, and after a break of several years I was given a set of watercolours which revived the painter in me, I had still been being creative in my work, but found art was something I wanted to do more of, I still enjoy my watercolour doodles but my passion is for my hot wax painting.
I discovered encaustic wax art at the end of 2010, the vibrant colours and the shine of the artwork was unlike anything I had seen before and I knew this was something I wanted to try. I bought some wax and heat tools in the Spring of 2011 and started to experiment. As an artist painting in hot wax, I find I can create the texture I loved with Oils and Acrylic but with a movement and vibrancy unlike anything I have used before.
I first showed me work online in the summer of 2011 and was amazed at the response, and now sell my work internationally with pieces of Art In Wax now in homes in Europe, the US and Australia.
Art In Wax has featured on TV as examples of encaustic art and been seen in several magazines over the past couple of years, and on several websites as guest blogger and interviews.
I paint as large as A3 size but also as tiny as 1x1 inch which are doll house paintings, I was commissioned to paint a set of dollhouse originals in 2013 when a lady who owns one of my larger pieces asked if I would paint for her Georgian Manor house, this has lead me to painting more miniatures which have been very popular, my husband built me a 1:12th scale Art Gallery which houses a large collection of my miniatures.

What do you love most about what you create and the process of creating it?

The colours, texture and sheen that the finish pictures has is what draws me to paint in wax.

Working with wax is a challenge and this is one of the things I love about it. I love to experiment and it is  exciting to see what can be done with wax as a painting medium.

Is this your total creative output or do you also work in other areas and if so what are they?

I am in the main an artist and painting in hot wax is my passion.

I paint using different types of wax and support so the work I produce is varied. I use heated irons and stylus tools with encaustic wax blocks, sometimes using hot air, brushes, and a hotplate too. Most of this work is onto a specialist gloss card. These paintings have a thinner layer of wax and are dry within minutes of finishing.  

I also paint with a different type of wax, a handmade beeswax medium which I paint onto wood panels. This is a different formal of wax and I do this melting the wax in tins on a hotplate and appalling with larger brushes then heated with hot air to fuse layers of wax, these pieces take  a few months to fully cure and need to be looked after in a different way.

Do you think that its important to specialise in one area or to have lots of creative outlets?  Can one impact on the other, in positive or negative ways?

For me its all about painting, I do create a variety of artwork but having been a creative person in different formats most of my life I think it is up to the individual.

What gets you out of bed in the morning and motivated to create wonderful things?

That's is an easy question, I just love to paint. Mornings are my favourite time of day and when I am at most most creative so once I am up I am ready to paint.

Do you have the support of friends and family when crafting and do you and they value what you do?  

My family and friends are very supportive. My husband encourages me to paint and to show my work, he also tells me when I've not got it right too, sometimes it is hard to see for ourselves so his support is invaluable to me. 

I have made friends because of being an artist as well, which is great, as like minded people are a great support and encouragement. 

I know my friends and family value what I do, they are excited for me when I show my work or sell a piece. Most of them have a piece of Art In Wax, on request I might add !!! Some have even commission me to paint for them to give as gifts.

Describe what your prefect Art/crafting day would be like?

Up early, the light is best then, tea and toast by 6 -7am and into my studio area. 

Fire up the irons, stylus and maybe hot plate, prepare my workspace, I keep the wax tidied away when not in use, and then paint in hot wax till coffee break ….... I normally have a plan of what I want to achieve in a session, I may have sketches of ideas I want to try or maybe paintings specifically for a project or commission.

If I am doing larger pieces I stand to paint so by coffee time I'm ready for a sit down! when painting smaller pieces, miniatures, cards and ACEO's I sit and at my work desk, hours will fly by  when the wax is flowing …..... I normally finish mid afternoon.

When I'm finished waxing …... then comes the clean up, I make a lot of mess when working, but like to know I have clean slate for the next session so all surfaces and tools get a clean up …... and so do I.

Once cleaned up I may mount some pieces and photography them to show.

What are your aims and goals for the future

I have lots of things plans for 2014, I have been invited to be artist of the month for a local art club and Art In Wax is to be featured in a miniatures magazine in the summer which is great fun. 

I am a keen blogger and write about techniques and my experiments working in wax as well as what new with me and my work, plus we have made several videos of me painting in hot wax, which all helps promote my Art In Wax and I will doing more posts and demonstrations too.

But most of all my plan is to paint more pictures in hot wax …... simple as that!