Monday, April 26, 2010

What a Mess!

What a mess! When you get very busy, do you find that the papers seem to just stack up and up? I'm drowning in a sea of reference photos, sketches, paintings, etc. I keep intending to tidy everything up once I finish a current project, but the next project comes along so quickly that I don't have the time! ( at least, that is what I have been telling myself)

Look at this stack of finished paintings waiting to be put away! It may not look like it, but there are 23 paintings in that pile! Well, posting these photos has made me realize I should stop making excuses, and just get everything taken care of. I know I will work much better once everything is tidy....

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Clever Girl

I'm a proud Mama of both my kids. My son is a very talented artist, and so is my daughter. This is her first design that she had licensed. It is a set of cards from Papyrus. She sketches designs in her sketchbook, and then we sit together to add color. She loves getting her royalties checks in the mail, as you can imagine! Poor thing got her braces put on yesterday, so she is hurting a bit today. She is keeping an amazing attitude about it all though.

Blogging will probably be fairly light for a little while. I am absolutely swamped with work, since Surtex is approaching so quickly!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Gray Day

It is a gray and cloudy day today, chilly too. On days like this it is lovely to curl up in a nice warm house, wearing the sweater Mr Right gave me for Christmas, and look through the family photo albums (and probably do a bit of painting too, naturally!). The cool dampness makes me think of England, where my extended family lives. I have been thinking of them a lot lately, so that is the album I chose.

This is my aunt and uncle's house, with my little angel out front. (okay, the picture was taken a long time ago!). The house is about 600 years old, I believe, although the site has been occupied since Roman times. This cottage has to be one of the most tranquil places I have ever been, and I will always remember it as one of my favorite spots.

This is where Mr Right proposed, all those years ago. It is called Willy Lot's Cottage, and features in one of John Constable's paintings. It is a famous spot, and last time I was there they had turned it into an art center. There is a river that runs in front of it, and Mr R and I were in a little rowboat when he went down on one knee (since life isn't like the movies, the boat didn't tip over). We hadn't seen each other for the whole year before that, because he had been teaching in Africa, and we got married six weeks later. I think my parents were quite worried, as I was only twenty and still in college, but we are still in love 24 years later so I think it was the right thing to do!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Trade Show Talk

Spring is trade show time, so I thought I'd write a few tips for first time attendees. Attending shows is an expensive proposition, so you don't want to waste any money. the first thing you should do is pick which shows are the best fit for you. for example, if your dream is to do greeting cards, you would probably want to go to the National Stationery show in New York. So here is a list of shows (I might have missed some, as there are conferences for just about every niche you can think of).


1. Atlanta Gift Show, January, Atlanta, GA : this is my personal favorite show. It is held in the Merchandise Mart and it is huge! The show covers most of the three buildings that comprise the Mart. There is a license and design section where artists can have a booth to show their work, although this is new and hasn't quite reached its potential yet. The manufacturors there represent anything you might find in a gift shop: Cards, figurines, garden ware, tableware, gift wrap, etc. There is also a summer show, which is in July this year. It is a bit smaller, but still good.

2. Craft and Hobby Association Winter show, January, California (I'm not being specific on location here, because this year it was in Anaheim, but next year I think it will be in L.A.): CHA is geared towards all aspects of crafting and hobbies, so you will find fabric, scrapbooking, stickers, stitchcraft, puzzles, paint-by-numbers and just about everything else you'd see in a store like Hobby Lobby or Michaels. Attendees are mostly craft shop owners. There is a license and design section where you can have a booth, and one of the nice things is that the organizers bring in art directors (from all categories)especially to attend the licensing section. There is also a summer show, in July in Chicago. It is quite a bit smaller, and does not have the licensing section.

3. Toy Fair, February, New York: Okay, so February in New York is not the ideal time for a show, but if you are interested in this category, the show is huge. This is geared to anything you might find in a toy shop, so potential licensees are puzzle manufacturors, craft kits, stickers, paint-by-numbers, etc, in addition to toys.


4. Surtex, May, New York: Surtex stands for Surface and Textile Design. This is one of the biggest shows of the year, and runs at the same time as the National Stationery Show, in the same building. It is huge. Surtex has agents' and individual artist's booths, where clients browse to look for licensable art. The Stationery Show has manufacturors of all stationery products: cards, gift wrap and bags, journals, partyware, all paper products. This is a huge show for artists and clients to connect. However, it is also the most expensive as far as booth space, and attendence has been down the last couple of years.


5. International Licensing Expo, June, Las Vegas. This will be my first year attending this show (and I really don't like Vegas much, but I will suffer for my career, I suppose!). This show is heavily weighted towards character licensing, although the other categories are growing here. Many artists and their agents have booths here (in addition to all the manufacturors' booths), and the attendees are both shopowners and manufacturors.


The most important thing to remember if you attend the shows (walking the show rather than having a booth), is that for the exhibitors, this is probably their biggest expense of the year. Wandering around with a portfolio hoping to snag someone's attention is really frowned upon at Surtex (and may result in you being asked to leave). At the other shows, make an appointment to speak to the manufacturors first, and you can bring some work to show, but never interrupt anyone when they are talking to someone else. The prime reason for all the exhibitors being there is to make money. If you see someone who is alone, you can chat for a moment and leave a business card, but excuse yourself right away if a customer comes up. The most important reason to walk the show is to get a feel of the marketplace, see what is out there and how you might fit in, and gather information to follow up on later. Shows are extremely stimulating and exciting, and I know I have gotten overwhelmed by them, but as long as you bring comfy shoes you are in for a great experience.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


This is what we woke up to this morning- more snow! I had just noticed daffodils poking their heads out, and was thinking that Spring was here... That's Colorado for you! Still, this is a nice reference shot that will make a good painting. Do you think the birds nesting in that lopsided little house feel vertigo?

Today is one of those days when it seems that there is never enough time for all the things I want to do. I have a hard time giving myself time to relax and refresh, so it is good that I have this blog. The time I spend on here gives me a nice little break from the busy world. That is why I like visiting other people's blogs as well- it is like a mini-vacation. Sharyn Sowell's blog is especially good for that. Her photos are always lovely, and her gentle, soothing soul shines through. (There is a link at the side of this page). I also like blogs that give me creative inspiration, like Diane Knotts'. I don't do the paper-crafting that she is so good at, but seeing how productive she is, and the lovely results she gets, is very inspiring.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Paintin' Peonies

I am in a sunshiny mood today, so I am painting peonies. These are some of the photos I am using as reference. I took them last summer when I visited Hilldene in Vermont. Hilldene is the beautiful home built by Abe Lincoln's son, and they have a peony festival every year in their lovely garden.

I love peonies. Don't they have beautiful ruffles? Such fun to paint! One of the other things I like about peonies is the symbiotic relationship they have with ants. A lot of people look at all the ants crawling over their peony bushes and think, "Yuck, I've got to get rid of those!". But actually, without ants, you won't have any flowers. The buds secrete a sweet sap that the ants chew off. If they don't chew it, the buds can't open. To me, things like that are wonderful signs of God's work. Aren't the inter-relationships in nature marvelous?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter wishes to all my blogland friends! It is finally Spring here. The last of the snow has melted, leaving everything green, and little sprouts are starting to show. Its time I went out and pruned the roses! I know a lot of people do it in the Autumn, but Spring seems to work for me. I haven't managed to kill them yet, anyway! Does anyone know a good mail-order place for plants? I would very much like to have a bittersweet bush, and my local garden shop don't even know what I am talking about. I would also like a wild-type rose that gets the really big rosehips on them. They are called dog roses in England (rosa canina), but they don't seem to be available here. My priority in planting new things seems to be dependant on how much I would like to paint them!

Thursday, April 1, 2010


I got some lovely samples last week, and I was so excited! This is my first woven blanket and pillow set that I have done. They came out great! After many years of specializing in cards and puzzles, etc, I am so pleased to be getting into home decor. That is one of the most fun things about this job: all the variety of different products that need designs!

Here is a close up of the pillow. Maybe for my next giveaway I should pick something for the home. I have a winner for the garden flags giveaway! Ta-da, the winner is Rosanna! I'll contact you privately and we'll arrange for you to get your prizes. Thanks to everyone who commented! I'm so happy about it that everyone will get one flag as a bonus prize. Can you all e-mail me with your addresses? Hooray, this is much nicer than an April Fool's prank, isn't it!