Printing

Experiments in printing

I’m so glad I got onto Twitter.

There’s so many communities and ideas and so much inspiration to try new things.
I enjoyed #drawingaugust but didn’t teally have time for #paintseptember so resolved to try #printoctober even though I am a complete novice.

I was given some lino, a roller and a cutter many years ago. As is my way I dived straight into the cutting without any preparation and realised that I had cut the part that should be black rather than the part that needed to be white. Short on time, I told myself I was rubbish at printing anyway and put the tools in a drawer.

Time for another go  and so as not to make the same mistake I drew directly onto the lino in white and cut away.

My first attempt was okay, a badger surrounded by a few fern fronds. It was a nervous attempt and I didn’t cut away very much of the lino but was keen to see if I could at least get the basic idea.
I drew on the lino with white chalk, a bad move as the drawing rubbed away as I cut and the resulting cut was not a good drawing.

My first print attempt was worse, I squirted the ink directly onto the roller resulting in a blotchy blobby mess and the grooves of my cut full of ink. I tried a few more times and got a couple of okay prints. I was relieved to have a result anyway!

The second time I tried I was keen to get a better basic drawing and a better print. I drew a bird very carefully and transferred it to lino using carbon paper. Then I coloured in the bits to cut away with a white coloured pencil ( I still don’t trust myself).

Drawing on lino

Drawing on lino

This worked much better.

There was a lot more lino to cut away this time and I managed to cut myself a few times as well as grazing my knuckles on the rough cut lino surface.

Lino cutting

Lino cutting

I read a few tutorials about printing with a roller and didn’t rush the print quite so much. Consequently I got a better result this time.

Bird lino print

Bird lino print

Not perfect, but better, and fun to do.

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Craft community, Craft fairs

September…and thoughts turn to Christmas

The end of the summer holidays means Christmas is coming.
It might sound early, but in craft terms I’m leaving it until the last minute…

My sons (well two of them) have learnt to get in early and I’ve had their requests in. One wants a jumper, a thick, stripey one that I’ll have to find a pattern for, as well as some good value, yet good quality wool.
The other wants me to paint a scene from his favourite Ian M Banks book…quite a challenge…not just painting a sci-fi landscape, but also seeing where our imaginations collide!
My youngest is 14 and not excited at the prospect of my handmade gifts. There is time to change his mind!

I’ve also got a few craft fairs lined up.
The first is next weekend and I need to see if I can tweak my table set up to display my pictures and cards at different heights as I’ve heard this is more appealing.

I have another four before Christmas, two in November, two in December as well as the Christmas online craft fair,  craftfest which I love because it involves other crafters in promoting each other’s works. It’s a really good way to learn to promote yourself online as well as picking up sales.

My next job, as well as a couple of commissions, is to get some Christmas cards and gifts made.

I’ve been playing with ideas, but have lots more I need to experiment with/get right.

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Maybe I will start a bit earlier next year, but as I only started Pastelesta in November last year, a week before my first ever craft fair I still have a lot to learn.
And whatever I make, Christmas carols are strictly forbidden until December 1st!

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Craft community, Starting up

What I’ve learnt so far..

When I decided to put my drawings out there and offer them for sale I didn’t know what to expect.
Eight months on, I have learnt a few things, but I suspect I have a few mistakes left to make yet!

Here are some of the things I know now that I didn’t back then…

Network, network, network!

Pastelesta's Etsy shop

My Etsy shop

When I set up on Etsy, I really thought that I would sell everything I listed, perhaps not immediately, but I was happily working out profits based on selling individual items daily.

This did not happen!

If you’re selling online on a shop like Etsy or Folksy or similar, you need to actively network and market your products to get yourself noticed. It’s a big old marketplace.

There are loads of groups on Etsy and on Facebook that you can use to get support and promote yourself and other people, as well as networking hashtags on Twitter.

Try Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more, each is slightly different and will give you slightly different results.

  • Facebook – good for building a ‘persona’ for your business. Show your work in progress, be chatty, promote your products. Build an authentic and receptive audience for your brand. Use pictures where you can to catch people’s eye in ther packed newsfeeds
  • Twitter – good for networking and news. It’s very time-based, so be carful when you post and make use of networking hours such as #handmadehour #uketsyhour and location-based ones like #hampshirehour or #yorkshirehour
  • Pinterest – good for getting creative ideas and advertising your products (remember to put the price in the title)

You don’t have to spend a lot on advertising

Building up a presence isn’t going to be instant and throwing money into advertising won’t give instant results. There is a huge amount of information online about social media and marketing so do your research and learn from other people.

Get out there to craft fairs, it will take a while to find where you best fit in as there are all sorts of different types, but they often attract press and publicity, so it’s a good way of getting your eye-catching products see in the press.

Marketing offline is an area I definitely need to develop, I’m not that confident about the face-to-face so tend to hide online. However, getting out there and meeting and networking in real life makes your brand ‘real’ to your customers and I know I have to do it!

Take the very best photographs that you can of your products

I still don’t have this cracked, mostly down to lack of time (bad time management from me) and a slightly dodgy camera, but the more professional looking your products are, the more likely it is that someone will be to part with their money online and buy them.

Again, there’s lots of information online:

Keep on making

Marketing is incredibly time consuming, but don’t forget to keep doing what you do best…making and creating. Try to build in time to try out new ideas, you never know when you’re going to hit on something that people love.

If you get creative block, here are some great ideas from Naomi at Artbiz Rx

You will learn a lot along the way

Dream picture by @pastelesta

Dream picture by @pastelesta

I have made quite a few mistakes, but I’ve also learnt a huge amount.

  • My drawing has improved
  • I’ve got more confident
  • I feel more fulfilled
  • I’ve seen a whole new working environment that’s possible
  • I’ve got new skills to bring to my day job

In November last year I did my first craft fair and although I got lots of compliments I didn’t sell a single thing. I’ve booked for the same fair this year, so I can compare how much I’ve achieved so far both with the things I sell and the profits I make.

It’s definitely a journey, enjoy the ride!

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Pastels

Summer days

Have you been enjoying the sunshine? I have, and still managed to get a bit of work in!
Here’s the golden retriever portrait I have been working on today:

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Bit of a mixed couple of weeks really, as I’ve been a bit too busy socialising and enjoying the glorious weather to get a lot of drawing done. That’s the hard thing about trying to build up your work in your spare time.
Also, the craft fair I was getting excited about for next weekend has been cancelled. I’m wondering if it’s just a very difficult time to try to sell things, will have to see what Christmas brings.

On the plus side, I thoroughly enjoyed  taking part in ‘craftfest’ last week with http://www.creative-connections.ning.com, an online craft fair run by crafters. We all spent a lot of time and effort promoting each other’s stalls alongside our own which was very satisfying and made me realise how art works as a collective.

I’m going to keep on drawing, but I think I’ll try to use a bit of time for experimenting with some other media and subjects. Watch this space!

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Pastels, Step-by-step drawing

Husky drawing

It’s not very seasonal, but the latest drawing I’ve finished is a husky in the snow. The sun came out as soon as I started it, so maybe I’d better keep to the wintry theme….potential Christmas card prints at the least!

Anyway, this latest drawing is tricky as the subject is mostly black and white. I like to be quite bold with my colours when starting the drawing at least as using contrasting colours allows the light to bounce off the pastel dust and give a more 3d effect. I also don’t really like using black. So, a challenge!

I started with an outline in pastel pencil which is easier to control than the sticks and gives a more controlled line

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I usually leave the background too late and struggle to get the tones right so have started to add it earlier.

Next I put down some tone by shading purple and orange over each over, as well as green and red. It sounds odd, but the contrasting colours will give a grey-brown key that is a layer to work on.

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I added some bright turquoise blue to the face to act as a key for the paler white fur.

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Then I began to build up the detail

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The process involved lots of redrawing and layering.
This is the finished picture

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I couldn’t avoid black, but it’s layered over blue, purple and orange which is allowed to show through in places.
I’m not sure it’s finished, that’s just so hard to call, but I hate to overwork my animal portraits.

I’m not interested in every piece of fur, more the look in the eyes and a sense of character.
Pastels give a good sense of fur quite quickly and easily, but I am also quite impatient and probably don’t spend as long on pieces as I should!

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Craft fairs, Starting up

Dog show

What a beautiful bank holiday Monday for a day at the dog show.
Stall ready, the only problem today was the wind which kept blowing the cards away!

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Saw lots of beautiful dogs of all shapes and sizes, so interesting to watch them all and their different personalities.
Had a few enquiries about portrait, gave out dome flyers and sold some cards so a good day.

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It was all in a good cause today with proceeds to Guide dogs for the blind and Blind Veterans UK, organised by the amazing Joshila fresh from her fundraising marathon running across the desert. Read more about her at http://www.joeythelittletrooper.com/

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You can buy my cards online at http://www.etsy.com/shop/pastelesta

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