February 27, 2017

Family trees and connections

Family have been much in my mind this week, family visits, family birthdays and family poorly and in hospital. (Sending lots of love to my dear Dad and hoping he is up and about again very soon).

I  love my family and am fascinated by the links we have, the family traits and characteristics.  When I look at old family photos it sets me wondering, where did those  traits and characteristics come from.  Who could draw like I can?  Where did the pale skin and red hair that my Mom, daughter and I have come from? And where did they live my ancestors? How did they meet? what was their favourite song, their favourite food. So many questions, so many stories.

Many years ago my Mom developed a passion for tracing our family tree,  discovering the pieces of the jigsaw and writing down the stories of our ancestors. I love to hear the stories, the snippets of information she uncovers, they are part of us, part of our heritage.  So far we are back to the early 1800's: all these people I am connected to from so long ago: the Jennings, Flanners, Bagleys, Days, the Jones, Herberts, Blackwells, Jobs, Bloxams! They came from Warwickshire and Oxford-shire, Glasgow and Switzerland, Birmingham and Worcestershire.

They were  gamekeepers, pen nib makers, gunsmiths, carters, glassblowers, glaziers, shoe makers, canal boat workers, plumbers, spoon makers, chandelier makers.Where did the creative side some from I wonder?
As Mom collected more and more stories and names that made up branches of our tree, I decided I had to create a painting to record all those names, all those people we were connected to, as a way to remember them.

 It took many sketches and doodles to come up with a design that was easy to read and on which I could fit all the names and dates. So I created my family tree flower design, it worked beautifully allowing me to add all the siblings in each family too.
Since that very first tree I have created many other family trees for folk, each one is a challenge, each one is unique. I love that I am part of the process and helping to create a family keepsake, a memory tree for those who have gone before and those still to come.
My Family trees have been given as Birthday gifts, and to celebrate anniversaries, as  wedding gifts and as new baby gifts. If you are interested in having your very own family tree created just drop me a line. I have a wide range of designs on my website that can be altered to fit in your own family members, your favorite colours, a special quote or memory. I am happy to discuss design ideas and love working with my customers to unfold the branches of their trees.

February 22, 2017

A treasure trove of gems and books and sketching

Last week was a time for family. My daughter and Grandaughter came to stay and we had lots of lovely times together, creating clay sculptures, walking down the lane, finding treasures in the garden.

Having a tiny person in the house is such a reminder to slow down, I love that she notices all the little things, a tiny daisy still growing in the winter grass, the funny shapes of clouds, the sound of the wind whispering through the branches of the trees.,  All the little things that we often forget to take the time to notice in our days.

With visitors to entertain it was a perfect excuse to take a trip to the 'GemRock Museum' in Creetown. A fabulous collection of jewels and gems, such vibrant hues and colours. There is a crystal cave to explore and a trail of gem bunnies that a certain wee person was excited to find. I even came across a tiny carved mermaid tucked away. And to finish off we had a delicious home cooked lunch in the cafe and then a drive through the stunning Galloway forest, a perfect day out.
A few days earlier I found myself over in Wigtown, Scotland's designated book town, a must for any book lovers out there! The reason for my visit was a trip to 'Curly Tale Books', a wonderful treasure trove of a children's bookshop that has agreed to be the latest stockist for my cards! They will be in good company for the shop is stuffed with loveliness of all kinds and is run by author Jayne Baldwin and illustrator Shalla Gray - creators of the lovely 'Beltie' story books. For those of you not in the know 'Galloway Belties' are stripey black and white cows found here in Dumfries and Galloway.

 With visitors here and trips to and fro to hospital to visit my poorly Dad, who hopefully is on the mend now, my sketching took a wee bit of a back seat.  I have managed a few though and am loving the variety of topics: eye, small bird, cafe life and the colour blue, I am determined to keep my sketches to within half an hour, but sometimes it's very tempting to keep going! I would like to get it down to 20 mins per sketch soon!
I'm thinking that, for folk interested in joining in the sketch a day but who are not on Facebook, I am going to post the weeks topics on here as well, lets see if that encourages any sketchers to have a go! I do have a Pinterest board for where you can find the daily topic as well here.

Do let me know if you join in and maybe we can find a way to share our sketches!

February 06, 2017

Sketching again and showers . . . .

We have had some "plowtery" days this last week. Isn't that a lovely word, it's Scottish for showery, I think it sums up this wet weather very well. There are so many wonderfully expressive  words in Scots language, I especially like these for wet weather.  "Smirr" meaning very light rain or a "dreep"  for a steady fall of light rain. I love being inside cosy by the fire whilst listening to the rain pattering outside, but in between the showers I did dodge out to capture these photos. 
The snow drops caught my eye too, nodding in the rain, tiny splashes of white against the vibrant green grass down the lane. They always feel like  a sign to me that Spring is on it's way.

A couple of weeks ago I happened to hear that folk singer, songwriter Seth Lakeman was coming to play at the annual Big Burns Supper Festival, and of course  had to go, and what a treat! His music has inspired me on many occasions whilst working away in my studio. One of my favourites has to be 'The white hare' , you can have a listen here.

Some of you might remember that back at the beginning of  2015 I was desperate to establish a good sketching routine (having failed miserably the year before) and so set up a Facebook group called 'Sketch-a-day', where a daily sketch topic was set and members of the group were invited to post their sketches on the page.

By the end of that 1st year not only did we have 60 members from all around the world contributing, but the group had become a gathering of lovely like minded, friendly folk, supporting and encouragement each other along the way.  It also resulted in my actually doing a sketch just about every day,  almost 365 sketches! 

Last year life got so busy that sadly my daily sketching fell by the wayside, though I still enjoyed seeing the sketches that other members of the group put up. There were so many positives that came from that daily sketching habit, my sketching improved hugely, my confidence grew and I tackled topics I would never normally have attempted,  so I have decided: new year, new start and I am very happy to report that as the group enters it's third year, I am going back to doing a daily sketch again. 

If anyone is interested in joining  our Sketch-a-day group do let me know.

January 30, 2017

Go slow, gratitude and Mindfulness resolutions

A Happy (Belated) New Year to you all my lovelies wherever you may be! I have rather neglected this wee corner of the world and have missed being here and the connections it brings.

Last year was a good year in lots of ways, with a whirlwind of activity: a trip to India, a new studio, exhibitions galore, workshops a plenty and lots of projects on the go, all very good. Yet as Winter descended and  the days of the year were numbered I realised my feet had hardly touched the ground and I was feeling decidedly frayed at the edges.
So I have spent my time since the new year in a state of hibernation, finding time to recuperate, time to ruminate, lighting candles, sitting watching the sunset, taking moments to stop what I'm doing and just breathe. Looking back, I realised that last year I simply hadn't allowed myself much time out at all. No time for mindfulness, for treasuring the moments, no time for the blog writing that I love to do, no time for my sketch-a-day,  no time to just sit and be. I hadn't even heard my body telling me to slow down!
It is so easy to get caught up in our frantically paced world and I knew I had to take action to re-claim the balance that had been missing last year. So I made just one New Year resolution -  To go slower, to savour the moments. After all that is why my blog is named '5 Precious Things', a reminder to self to slow down and find 5 precious things each day in my life to be thankful for.

I needed something visual and visible  so I made myself a huge wall planner and had great fun in the process using lots of my HeART Journaling techniques and included my words to live by for the year -  Mindfulness,  Gratitude, Courage and Peaceful.  I will pin my planner up on the wall of my studio  and it will be a a daily reminder to keep my resolution, and to live by my chosen words.

I have made space in my weeks for work projects and for play, for heath and happiness, for family, friends and for myself. It is so important to try and keep a balance and fulfil all the areas that we need to find harmony in our lives.
It amazes me just how often, when I am looking for answers, the universe drops the perfect solution into my lap, for look what I found in the local shop, this beautiful new publication called 'Breathe', filled with lots of interesting articles based on well being, mindfulness and creativity, including one on listening to your body clock. I also found a lovely wee journal in the sale section in which to record  '100 days of Gratitude'. Once you start to look for those precious moments in your day, you begin to find more and more. I  am already reaping the rewards of spending a few moments at the end of my day to pause and be grateful.
I set myself one more task to do daily, to help with my new resolution and that is to take a daily gratitude photograph. Today's subject just had to be this cheeky visitor to our garden, he was scampering about all over the lawn burying nuts and frisking his tail in the air, and made me smile with his antics. I got carried away trying to capture his antics.

I can't wait to look back at the end of the year and see my 365 photo's.