Sunday, March 31, 2019

March Meet the Maker Part Four

It's the last day of March and the final instalment of posts for the 'March Meet the Maker Challenge' over on instagram.
Day 26.
Self Care
I’m always thinking about my lists of ‘to do’ or new ideas and rarely switch off as I enjoy what I do. Sometimes though things can get out of balance if you don’t take breaks and recharge. Taking time out is important. Things I like to do are: spending quiet time outside in nature, looking and listening, gardening, feeding and watching the birds, lighting an outdoor fire and sitting beside it. Going for walks, visiting historic sites, day trips, listening to meditative music, writing, burning incense, and soaking in a candle lit bath with the latest book that I’m reading. How do you rebalance? Image is my ‘Be still and listen.The Earth is singing’ that I created in 2012
Day 27.
Anything goes
Today I can choose whatever I want so I thought I would share my little Robin friend who I was lucky to know for two years. For those of you that don’t know the story, he began following me around in 2014 making it clear that he wanted to be friends. I even caught him on the windowsill peeping in. Within a few days he was feeding from my hand. Then most days apart from nesting seasons he would be there waiting for treats and chasing any other robin away. He was a sweet inspiration and can often be seen in my paintings. One of the last times I saw him he let me stroke his red breast. I think he knew he didn’t have long left and was his way of saying thank you and goodbye. I will never forget him.
Day 28. 
When you purchase your items from Moonlight and Hares it will be packaged in a cardboard pip box or board backed envelope. Prints are protected in biodegradable cellophane sleeves that can be dIsposed of on a compost heap, or veg waste box. ( I get mine from @ecocraft ) A little reminder is added in with the print. Cards now mostly get sent naked, although sometimes if they are to go in an envelope rather than a box I will put them into the bio cello sleeves too. I don’t print receipts unless specifically asked for to save on paper and ink. All orders receive a card with a thank you note. I use paper packing tape instead of plastic which is great and soooo much less noisy! 
Day 29.
Most difficult to make. 
I suppose my ‘most difficult’ to make would be wooden hangers. Mote time consuming than difficult though, as they have to be cut out by hand and sanded before I even begin the enjoyable part of painting them. Many folks have asked when I will be making more. And yes I hope to get a batch underway soon. I do love making them but because I love painting pictures as well, it’s trying to strike a balance. I also get asked if I do commissions for them. Sadly the answer to that is no. I made the decision to stop taking commissions a few years back as found I worked so much better without any pressure, worry or commitment on a piece. 
Day 30.
Working on your own can be quite hard sometimes, so I’m grateful for all online support on social media. Your comments and wonderful messages continue to support me. So thank you! Here at home I have support around me in the form of a personal furry assistant. He makes sure I tidy up and never leave anything on the floor as if I do, he will quickly sit on it. He would really like to be chief sorter of the cards on the shelf as occasionally knocks them down with his paws, mainly when I’m concentrating and have forgotten that it was his lunchtime 10 minutes ago. When I’m feeling a bit down he reminds me that it’s time to go out into the garden, to look at the flowers and clouds and to give him a cuddle. Of course I also have support from my wonderful hubby who is also my best friend. He encourages me 24/7 through all ups and downs. And if the printer or computer is playing silly games, he will be there with his tech savvy skills.
Day 31
Product in use/wild
It’s the last day of March Meet the Maker today and I can’t quite believe I’ve managed to do the whole thing!   Thanks for accompanying me along the way, it’s been fun. Here’s a picture of my print Fox Chestnut all framed up. 
 Have a great Sunday and Mother’s Day xx 

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

March Meet The Maker Part Three

Part three of the month long challenge 'question and answers' that I'm doing on social media. Almost there now, only a few days left  :-) Hope you've had a good week?
Day 16. 
'Workspace' (tidy/mess) 
This is my new workspace, looking very neat and tidy. I do find it really difficult to work in a mess though, I have always had to have a clean space for my mind to feel clear. I’m still settling into this bigger room and making it feel just right. I only moved in here in January. There is a lot more space to store stock, although I haven’t got all the shelves up yet that I’m planning.
Day 17. 
'What I’m working on'
I'm currently working on this painting.
Day 18.
'Mistakes and Lessons'
‘Mistakes happen and the milk gets spilled and spoiled’ ...I drew this naughty pixie spoiling the milk a few years back and thought he was appropriate for today’s topic. 
You never stop making mistakes or learning lessons do you?  So far this year I’ve already made two mistakes.  Firstly I said yes to a print proof when my intuition was telling me no. (Intuition is always right) and secondly, I made a stupid obvious mistake designing something which cost me. 
Over the years I’ve learned a few lessons, for instance only do a job if your heart is telling you to, regardless of the money, involved. Easier said than done I know, when you may only have enough pennies for bread  and jam for the kids tea. (Have been there) Remember to put watermarks/your name on your work, as they go far and wide on this big wide digital world and any share without one could mean one less sale. Never ever sign your copyright away (yes that did used to happen) And only ever work for free under exceptional circumstances ie: if it’s for your absolute favourite ever charity and lastly, it’s absolutely okay to say no. 
Day 19.
'Dream collaboration' 
Ooh not sure about this one today? Maybe some of my designs on ceramics? That would be cool? 
 Day 20.
'Design process'
Being a night owl that often wishes she was a lark, I just can’t help getting my ideas late at night when all is quiet. The beginnings of an image may emerge like secrets of silver moonlight revealed when the clouds have passed or a shaft of golden sunlight through a crack in curtains that suddenly turns invisible dust motes into dancing sparks of light. Those ideas then move to my sketchbook as drawings, scribbles or words, where some will remain. But others will be played around with and developed and created into finished original pieces. Once complete I then play around again with them and see whether I would like to use the images in designs as cards, notebooks or prints, and design/ edit them accordingly ready for print. 
Day 21.
This is a painting I created in 2011,  but it really only seems the other day. ‘Indigo Wood'  
Day 22
'Proud of'
As a bit of a perfectionist and my own worst critic, I often find it difficult to feel proud of my work. Whenever I look back on pieces 99% of the time I find fault with something and normally my inner self will have a conversation with my outer self, saying something like...”Hmm...yeah that’s okay, but it probably would have been better if you had done it like this...” and me replying “ yeah, that’s true... 
I am proud of my shop though, that I’ve stuck with and all its sales which I have lovingly wrapped, packed and sent. I've now sailed past 12,000! so I thank you if you have supported it.  
Day 23. 
My top tip or advice would be to keep going. Even if it’s snails pace or one tiny step each day, do it! Don’t wait to be inspired, for a muse to drift along. Small steps are better than no steps. Also, even though I mentioned this the other day on the lessons and mistakes topic and for some it may seem obvious. I want to say it again. Please please put your name on your work before you release on the web. When I began I let pieces go without marking and have learned the hard way. Only yesterday a page on Facebook shared one of these old unmarked pictures without giving any reference to me as the artist. It had been shared over 1,400 times and nobody knew that I had created it! Over a 1,000 potential people that may have visited my shop if my name had been added. Never ever rely on others to add your name, put it on there yourself right from the beginning.
 Day 24.
 'Customers feedback'  
It’s always so wonderful to get feedback from you. Words can make all the difference, especially when you may be having a day when you feel like everything is going wrong. They lift me up! I enjoy reading all messages and feedback and am grateful that someone has taken a moment out of their day to contact me. Some of the messages are just so beautiful and I’m still amazed that pictures can have such a powerful effect on people. Hearing from a happy customer is like the final ingredient in the magical recipe. So thank you.
 Day 25
‘How it’s made’
“I dream my painting and then I paint my dream”~ Vincent Van GoghMy creations begin as a rough idea in the sketchbook. I go on to paint them with acrylic paints either on paper, canvas or wood and add any decorations, ie gold leaf or beads and adornments if it’s a hanging piece. Designs often evolve over the process of creating and sometimes end up a little different from the initial sketch. As you can see in the sketch here I left the running fox out of the final design and changed the words slightly and added a moon. Once the piece is finished I can then create other items like the card in the picture.
Day 26. 
'Self care'
I’m always thinking about my lists of ‘to do’ or new ideas and rarely switch off as I enjoy what I do. Sometimes though things can get out of balance if you don’t take breaks and recharge. Taking time is important. Things I like to do are ...spending time outside in nature, looking and listening, gardening, feeding and watching the birds, lighting an outdoor fire and sitting beside it. Going for walks, visiting historic sites, day trips, listening to meditative music, writing, burning incense, and soaking in a candle lit bath with the latest book that I’m reading. How do you rebalance? 

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 :-)