Friday, March 15, 2019

March Meet the Maker Part Two

This week has flown by here. Storm Gareth has blown the poor old Holly tree this way and that but thankfully she is still standing tall. Here is part two of the 'March Meet the Maker posts' a daily month long Instagram challenge by Joanne Hawker

Day 8. Product range
The product range for Moonlight  and Hares as most of you know, is currently greeting cards, postcards, notebooks and prints. I hope to expand on these products in the future.  
Day 9. Story behind the name
'Once upon a time there was a girl who fell in love with the moon. The moon told the girl to follow a hare along a path made of stars, so she did. The hare was always one step ahead, fast and wise he ran, leading her to places of magic and showing her the light that sparkled.
One day she will catch up with him'... 
Back in 2008 I began a blog and called it Moonlight and Hares because it was just two things that I loved. I’ve always been in love with the light of the moon and have been drawn to the magical persona that surrounds hares. The name just seemed to stick, although I never officially called my Etsy shop by it and often people get confused a little by that. I kept with my maiden name for Etsy (Karen Davis) because it was what I used for previous freelance work when leaving art college. Now I have my website domain as moonlight and hares and am in the process of getting a shop up and running on there too. 
Day 10. You. 
I wasn’t sure what to say for this one besides that I am a nature lover and married with two grown up children, so here are 10 random facts about me. Nothing arty just relaxed for a Sunday.
  1. I am learning Welsh on Duolingo have been since last July. “Bore da” ;-) 
  2. Star sign- Sagittarius 
  3. I  adore the scent of sweet william’s, night scented stock, bluebells, woodsmoke, a struck match and Penhaligon’s Agarbathi~ I’m saving up for a bottle!  🙏 😘
  4. I love sugared almonds and rose tea (yogi which i just discovered and tastes like turkish delight, how fabulous is that!) 
  5. I recently stopped dyeing my hair and embraced the grey although some days I wish my brown hair was still with me. I had a dream the other night that it was, but when I looked in the mirror I was Sandra Bullock and not me. 😂
  6. I haven’t wore a watch for about 20 years
  7. Book I just finished reading- The Warriors Princess ~Barbara Erskine
  8. I love ancient history, myth and magic, especially about the British isles. Druids, Celts, Castles, King Arthur, Biblical, Ark of the covenant, holy grail etc and often feel I was born in the wrong time. 
  9. I am an INTJ on the Myers Briggs personality test.
  10. I was an extra (background artist as they are called these days)  in the new Downton Abbey Movie. It was great fun to do and am looking forward to trying to spot myself on camera when it comes out this year ☺️
 Day 11. Reducing waste. 
This topic is ongoing for me as I am always striving to reduce waste.
I use cardboard boxes for packaging, only ‘reused’ bubble wrap for delicate hangers. Paper packing tape instead of plastic tape 99% of the time. 
Producing  prints means that cellophane sleeves have always been a big part of protecting them. In early 2018 I changed to bio veg starch cello sleeves. All prints now come in these. Most cards are sent naked, or tied with string, but sometimes depending on how they are being shipped, I will put them in the clear sleeves too. Default shipping settings is without a packing receipt, unless asked, to save on paper. 
I do a lot of printing, so means I am left with empty cartridges. Epson provide a free recycle service via their site. Fill in the request form for envelopes & they send you 4. I can fit in 2 of the cartridges I use, into each envelope. Every time I need to, I just request more.
Since beginning my journey as an artist I’ve used acrylic paint, which yes, is plastic! I often feel hypocritical about this. However I hope that my work doesn't get discarded that often to become landfill rubbish? When cleaning, I never empty paint water down the drain, so it doesn’t get into the water system. Instead I dispose of in a corner of the garden away from waterways. You can also pour it into a bucket, then when the water evaporates you are left with the tiny fragments of paint that you can dispose of.  Keeping the paint palette in an air tight tupperware box with lid, between painting stops paint drying out which helps save paint and money too. The less old flakes of paint you throw away, the better! If you do get some larger ones, maybe collect them in a jam jar & glue them into a mixed media piece or collage? (I’ve always thought of doing this but never have!)  When cleaning the palette, I let dry, then scrape fragments off with a palette knife or finger nails ( bad habit!) & dispose of safely. I’m now saving mine in a bottle & making an eco brick. Of course it’s not the best solution, that would be to use eco paints. But in the mean time every little helps. Do you have any tips to share to reduce waste? 
Day 12
Hands at work. For this one I thought I'd make a little video. Background music is by Thomas J Curran 

Day 13. 
I love photography, especially capturing the magical moments in nature. I’m like a child in a sweetshop when I see rays of light through trees and frost patterned mornings. Raindrops become jewels on branches and a moth or butterfly to me becomes as important as a black rhino in the African bush. When it comes to photographing my work though I don’t enjoy it as much. I find it’s often one of the things that takes a lot of time and I have a quite a few problems with. It sometimes takes me ages to get good pictures of my work before I add them to the shop, and then I’m often not 100% happy with them. I take most of my pictures with my iphone or iPad now as my old camera is not that reliable. I’m thinking of investing in a decent DSLR though, so any advice what I should go for would be appreciated. It’s all about light isn’t it. Get the light right and it doesn’t often matter what camera you have 📷☀️✨

Day 14. 
How I learnt.
As mentioned in day 2 (how I started) I studied Illustration at Art College.  However I don’t really consider this ‘how’ I learnt.  Learning comes from practice, more practice and repetition. Continuously playing around with pencils, paints or whatever your medium is, you learn through doing. You don’t need to go to college to do that. Art college for me gave me the luxury of time, the time to completely immerse, experiment, live and breathe it for 4 years. It taught me how to observe things and helped me find my path, which led me to the beginnings of a style.  

Day 15. 
My motivation is the desire to bring an idea to life, completion and share it. That’s what keeps me ticking. 

I’m not really the type of person that has big goals of grandeur. Just doing what I love each day, being happy, healthy, surrounded by trees, flowers, animals, in a cosy little home, creating things that I would want to buy myself is my goal for as long as possible. 

Saturday, March 9, 2019

March Meet the Maker Part One.

Over on Instagram there is a month long challenge called 'March Meet the Maker' it's created by Joanne Hawker and is an opportunity for artists/ makers to tell a little about themselves and what they do etc. This year I decided to take part. I know many of my followers don't all have instagram or Facebook, so felt it might be nice to share the posts on here too.
Every day has a different prompt and we began day one on March 1st. So here are the first seven days.
Day 1. Is ‘Favourite to make’ 
I like making all items that I create really, so haven’t really a particular favourite. There is something special though playing in the sketchbook and letting ideas appear. From those first marks made, or adding magical adornments onto a hanger, or the quiet solitude of painting, I enjoy them all. My favourite time though is the completion of the work. Getting the idea out, and into the physical realm from the imagination. That’s the icing on the cake for me. ✨💫
Day 2. 
How you started.
“Color is a power which directly influences the soul.” Wassily Kandinsky
Looking back,  it began with the colour blue. At primary school I loved using the big easel and remember being attracted to the beautiful sky blue poster paint which I would slap onto the sugar paper so thickly it would crack when dry.
As a child I was always drawing in my sketch pad or colouring in, being careful not to ‘go over the lines’ sometimes I wonder if I hadn’t cared so much about those lines my work may have turned out very different? Who knows maybe even abstract? Scribbling and painting my way through education, I ended up at Art College doing Illustration. After leaving I worked freelance and then when my children got older and I had more time again, I discovered Etsy. I opened a shop in February 2008 and after 11 years, it’s been a fantastic journey. This picture ‘Travelling circus’ was one of the first prints to sell in the shop.  
Day 3.
Treasures that inspire my imagination. ✨💫 Who can spot the ladybird that sneaked into the picture? He’s been hibernating in the window sill and woke up.

 Day 4 
Tools and materials
I’m quite frugal with tools and materials. I don’t have a vast amount and tend to keep the minimum paints that I need in my toolbox. I don’t have pots and pots of brushes, just the one pot and use the same ones until they wear out, then buy new when I literally haven’t got a decent one to use. The same goes for paints. I use mainly Winsor and newton paints and brushes. Sometimes I buy other brushes such as pro-arte. I paint on wood, watercolour paper or canvas. I like using all, but work much slower on canvas. 

Day 5 
Detail or close up. 
Day 6  ‘Full or part time’ 
When opening the Etsy shop back in 2008 I was working a part time evening job to sustain it. It suited because I would have the whole day to create alongside having a family and in the evenings would work solitary in the local school, cleaning and listening to music through my headphones, so my imagination could build and plan things in my mind whilst I dusted and washed the floors. A year later in 2009, it began bringing in the same amount per month as I was getting in my part time job, so this gave me the courage to leave the job and go full time. I’m happy  that it was the right decision 🙌 I’m still grateful for each and every sale, which enables me to do the work I love everyday. Sales have flown past the 12,000 mark now, so that’s a lot of happy dances.

Day 7 
Less glam side. 
 “So you just sit down and paint pretty pictures all day long”  Someone once said this to me years ago. 
I suppose ‘Artist’ does sound quite glamorous.  Seeing pictures online of perfect work and perfect studios it really is just a glimpse of a moment and a lot of the time it’s far from that captured image. 
The reality is sometimes you don’t actually get to paint. Only 50% of my time is actually spent on painting. The other half is packing, planning, photographing, listing, designing, and marketing.  Whole days are often spent just packing orders, answering messages and ordering stock. There is often not enough time to create the work and ideas. Pages of sketches never make it to finished pieces, or a whole day or week maybe spent on a design that never comes to fruition. Sometimes I eat lunch in front of the computer or realise its 4 o’clock and haven’t stopped to have any or even brushed my hair!  Like any job there are bad days too, when nothing goes right. Times when you feel like you’ve forgotten how to paint, someone’s order has not arrived or you’ve made the 3rd mistake in a row on a print job.
The last post said that I worked full time. In reality full time really means 24/7 because you never switch off. 

But I wouldn’t change it for the world and count my blessings each day that I’m doing what I love and yes ‘this’ year I WILL be more organised. 

I've never done a month long challenge, so hope to keep up? I'll be back with part two next week :-) 

Friday, February 22, 2019

A Snow Day

Gently and softly it came. The rooms became brighter inside, and the distant hum of traffic stopped. Quietly cocooned, the garden was wrapped up in white. Snow had fallen.
It was that perfect kind. The type that makes the best snow balls and sled runs. I wondered which of the 'fifty words' I would use to best describe it.
'Picturesque through the wardrobe kind' where a white witch's wand could be imagined, left carelessly  upon a sleigh behind the frozen crab apple? 
Or the soft steps of Satyrs or Fauns awakening frozen fairy bells, as their hooves crackle, compressing a thousand snowflakes into the shape of a footprint. 
From the branches, Aslan's little helpers watched on.
Extra hungry on days such as these, so seconds and thirds were provided. 
Quite a covering for this old westerly part of the world.
And although the primroses are beginning to bloom. I have to admit that I would welcome another day of this winter world before the Spring arrives.

You can join me on a walk during my snow day, shared in the video below  :) 

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Winter Fire In The Sky, While The Earth Sleeps

”Come, ye cold winds, at January’s call, On whistling wings, and with white flakes bestrew the earth.” ~John Ruskin
If it means I can watch skies such as these while I wait for snow, then I am happy even if we don't get a flake.
A sickle moon, pure and bright as the snowdrop that emerges on the ground beneath.
I love winter gardening and how while the earth sleeps, there is slow time to do those jobs that you haven't got time to do in the spring. Being outdoors, looking up and seeing fire in January skies and then feeling my face glow from a fire of dried brambles. 
As above so below.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Small Moments Of A Wiltshire Christmas

We recently visited Avebury Manor and seen it all decked out for Christmas. I hadn't been inside the manor for years, so it was lovely to revisit.
Each room is decorated as a different period in the Manor's history. I loved the Tudor room.
Although not so keen on the boars head. It wasn't real though, just papier mache,  so that was okay. 
The kitchen was gorgeous too, filled with sugar and spice and all things nice. Gingerbread, sugared mice, golden coins and marzipan fruit. These were real.
I spied a few letters to Father Christmas too. 
It's lovely to get out and see the old houses decked up for the festive season.
Here at home the wreath is on the door and I've given Mr Fox a mistletoe crown.
Things are looking sparkly with the return of the low winter light reaching into the windows and playing rainbow chase on walls. Each year I seem to appreciate it a little bit more than I did the year before. 
And it always takes my breath away and makes me sit and just be, which is so important in this mad and crazy world. 
Of course it's handy too if there is a mince pie ;) 
When the short days light has said it's goodnight, the room twinkles yet again. 
From pine scented branches.
And glows around royal crowns.  
And then in the morning, again. 
A brand new day begins within a single raindrop sparkle.
Wishing you all the most peaceful and magical Christmas time.

Friday, December 7, 2018

By Frost and Candlelight

The dark nights are upon us. A time of lighting fires, candles and curling up with a book to escape into other worlds.  A time for woolly tights, (I have a favourite spotty pair) soft jumpers, boots, cosy scarves. Time to get my little wooden cups out for warm spiced drinks. It's also the time of planning. Christmas, new year, what seeds to plant in next years garden and to dream up new adventures. 
I thought I'd better pop in and share my winter cards before they all disappear. Available to buy now in the shop. There are still some some available.
I've edged these two below with golden glitter. Not real glitter though, only printed (I'm trying my hardest to keep away from micro plastics and even the tiny stars in my pictures get carefully put away and reused in photographs)
There are also lots of notebooks. Shown below,  is one I'm particularly fond of.  Using the painting I created after my magical Finland trip back in 2016. 
Do pop across to the shop and take a look. I have ordered more calendars as two lots have sold out now. The last bunch should be arriving later today and then that will be it.
It's been a sad time here in the Moonlight and Hares household. We recently had to say goodbye to our dear little Willow, who became poorly quite suddenly.
It won't be the same without her. She was a sweet girl and we were blessed to share 11 and a half years with her. We buried her beneath the apple trees that she used to love climbing so much.
Until our souls meet again one day, we treasure the happy memories.
As the days go ticking by too quickly, outside the holly has fruited in abundance.
It does this every year and we are so lucky. By the end of November though, all of the berries have been eaten by the birds and it's bare again.
I do pick a few sprigs beforehand though and keep them in the greenhouse in a bucket of water. Today it was time to begin bringing a little inside, along with a some other garden seasonal foliage. 
I thought the reindeer needed cheering up too, so gave him a sprig. 
And finally I can share another winter painting that's now finished. It's been on the desk for a long time as you can see from the photo, with the sun shining and roses still being picked.
It's been such a busy Autumn for orders and I honestly thought I would never get it done at one point.  But here it is...
By Frost and Candlelight 
Prints are available in the shop and I will be getting some cards in next week for the last minute shoppers among us.