Monday, 30 July 2012

Oh, I do like to be beside the sea...

With 24 hours to go before little 10 year old Alfie's birthday party, the girls are asking me what they could buy him for a present....what do I know about 10 year old boys!?
Having just printed off 40 odd pages of lettering for making stencils for a range of wooden letters I spot an opportunity to make little Alfie a unique gift. My daughter Eden is his girlfriend after all, so something special would hopefully keep her in his good books.
Previous wooden blocks have been the colourful lettering only, some with the occasional design - Jubilee theme, Christmas - however this time, with it being summer, I decided to opt for a nautical theme and put my lovely Craig&Rose1829 colours to use. Sticking to a blue-green range I also decided to add a touch of class to the rear of the letters by painting on white images relating to the seaside.
All things nautical, I am really pleased with how these have turned out, and as with all experiments I will be looking to produce more of this 'Alfie' nautical range in the future.
Next up will be some letter block designs for little girls...

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Olympia v Snowdonia

With Radio 2 in the background, I worked hard over the past two days to finish this little delight. My fourth baby commission, it's completely different to the first three. Not only because there are surely hundreds of different ideas that I could come up with, but mostly because this is a bespoke painting and it's all about Sylva - where she comes from, her baby birth statistics, nationality, Chinese year of birth, zodiac sign, her parentage and the meaning of her name - Goddess of the woods and forests, Protector of the fields - and it's in this meaning and the season of her birth (Autumn), that the theme is set. A Goddess for Snowdonia.
Fitting, then, that this painting was finished just prior to the start of the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony. Enthused, as I mentioned, by the Radio 2 DJs' excited commentaries, and the adrenaline-rushing, heart-pumping, emotion-tugging sporting montages on the television, I was on course to complete this task. Having lost momentum over Easter whilst juggling work commitments, training, childcare (x 3), health and family commitments, Sylva - nicknamed Maple Leaf baby - seemed to require pure commitment in order to bring out the best in her. Regularly, my art time is just a little bit here and a tiny bit there, but Sylva needed more, and more time was scarce.
Now, at the start of the summer holidays, with a few rest days available, and the positive vibes transcending the airwaves, I gave it my all and didn't stop until every last stroke had been delivered. Of course, it's quirky in places and part 'realistic' - part 'cartoon', but the vibrancy in the colours just make it work (for me).
As with all my paintings, a lot of emotion goes in, so it's almost inevitable that there will be a tug of heart strings when it's time to let her go.

If you'd like to commission a baby painting like this one, or like my other paintings on the Baby Boy, Baby Girl page, please get in touch! You can email me on, leave me a message on facebook, twitter or linked in, or give me a call.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Long days and pleasant nights!

Happy Friday!
And it's the first Friday of my kids' Summer Holidays...I wonder how wonderful it'll be over the next few weeks?
Well, today went well as the kids were in and out of the house, playing with friends, running for the ice cream van, back in for a carpet picnic, back out on their bikes, back in to play hide-and-seek...then came the disaster. Wee man wanted to draw, like me I suppose...but drew off the paper and over the carpet. It was actually quite spectacular. One very long slightly curved line ending in a wiggle on the fireplace hearth. Throw in two very large stars shaped like this * and we had something that Ikea would probably sell on their curtains. Come to think of it, my girl has that exact same pattern on her bedroom rug...? 
Nothing serious, good old washable pens (thank goodness!)
In between all this to-do, I managed to come up with these 4 ideas (inset) for up and coming projects. They don't always look like the what comes out of the paintbrush tends to take a life of its own.
Bit by bit though, I'll plough through the sketch book and build up my range. So exciting! Just loving the list of themes to work on. Next week Bryn (the master craftsman with the tools and the k-now-how) will be supplying my 20 plaques to get the originals painted onto. How long these will take is unknown, but I'll be giving myself until the end of the Summer holidays to have them done. Then once they're done, it's printing time!
Alongside these, I need to get down with the Marketing thang! I've probably only scratched the surface, already made a few boo-boos with the survey (will redo, promise), and could do with a dictionary at the ready to translate the lingo. Accounts? Yep, need to figure them out too, am lucky to have Katy offering her guidance...will certainly be needed. So, my Summer Holiday will mostly consist of the day job, revising, designing, keeping the kids entertained, and making headway with these plans. Oh and did I mention I'm racing in the International Snowdon Race tomorrow? That's my other Sun's going to be out, it's going to be a hot race, it's going to be fantastic! Especially the post-race birthday BBQ x
So, Day 1 has been recorded...looking forward to how the rest of the summer pans out!
Long days and pleasant nights, my friends.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Marketing a name plaque?

Afternoon Folks!
I'm taking stock of the year so far. It started with a flourish of orders in the first week of January just as I was on holiday in Stoke St Gregory, with visits to the Glastonbury Tor (inset), City of Wells, and environs. Steadily I've been building up my ideas, experimenting, researching, slowly turning this hobby into a product. Now 'business' is the word of the day at eden with pencils HQ. Time is being diverted into developing a marketing strategy, and for someone who left an International Business degree to focus on living and working in the real world (in Lyon), such words conjure up dark images of what I have to learn, and what I am able to retain....all the while wanting to just get to the drawing board! I have been given sound advice and I need to act on it (thanks little bro). So here goes, I'm reading up on Market Analysis. Hopefully, with several fresh cups of coffee, flap jack, fruit and yoghurt...and a little stretch...I'll have retained enough information to write up a survey to send out to those who have already had the pleasure of receiving an eden with pencils product. It's a mine field out there, so if you're about to help me along the way, let me know! I'm good for conversation and listening to advice. Hope you all enjoy your day, which isn't so different to January's  mild winter weather. It's cold, it's pouring with rain...the sound is bersing  me into a doze as it rattles off the conservatory/study/dining room ceiling. Better than traffic honking, I guess?
Until next blog (when I expect to be somewhat more educated?)....

Monday, 9 July 2012

Wedding Belles & Buttons

This weekend saw my biggest project yet - 9 wooden table plaques for the Owain-Ford wedding in the quaint, quite out-of-the-way, vintage village location of Clocaenog, near Ruthin. As luck (or skill) would have it, the colours used for the plaques were bright and cheerful and met the occasion well. A whitewash marquee adorned with beautiful bunting and flowers, the plaques helped to mark the event in true style.

Now out of stock of wood!

Only kidding, thanks to Bryn Jones I hope to maintain plenty of stock as Phase II of my business gets under way...printing plaques. It's an interesting time at eden with pencils HQ, and I hope to make the most of it and really get this business going. It's all learning, with quirky facebook marketing, and homemade photo effects, but these are the foundations that I'm sure I'll look back on in years to come and laugh heartily over. Hence the blog to keep a diary of how things are going...or going round.

Right, am now off to the printers to test out this gorgeous piece of wood on their machines...fingers crossed!

If you want to check out all 9 of the plaques from the wedding,then head over to my Wooden Plaques & Retro Lettering page for the full monty x