Behind the Scenes | January 2024
It’s been a while…!
When I started writing my ‘behind the scenes’ blog post series, I intended to publish a new post at the end of each quarter (March, July, September etc) informing you (in a nutshell) of the various projects I’ve been working on alongside my small creative business musings. My last blog post should have been published at the end of September last year, but it was around that time my Mum was receiving end-of-life care. She sadly passed away on 5th October, leaving a huge gaping hole in our lives. A reasonable explanation, perhaps, as to why my September and December blog posts didn’t happen…
She has been gone nearly four months now, and I’m still navigating the journey they call grief. There is no roadmap for this kind of thing which is bad news for me because my sense of direction is appalling, so I am relying on my intuition to get me to a less painful and more happier place. Since her passing, it’s been a whirlwind of emotions. Having two little ones has been my saving grace. Ironically, when she was alive, they were the source of stress, particularly in her final weeks. Trying to spend quality time with her and help my Dad care for her whilst looking after them was difficult. But, in the aftermath of her passing, they have brought only light and joy – they certainly have been a welcome (if tiresome!) distraction. Anyway, since the end of September, I have just been lying low. Quietly getting on with what needs to be done. And I’ve been ok. The outpouring of messages and support has been beautiful.
Christmas went better than I had expected – it was difficult, for sure. There were moments when I kept expecting to hear laughing or see her in the kitchen (calmly) getting Christmas dinner ready. However, because the illness (she had mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer) had taken so much of who she was latterly, in some ways, I didn’t expect to hear her or see her at all, if that makes sense. We’d gotten used to her spending less time downstairs with us and more time upstairs, resting, so you could say that 2023 was a long, drawn-out farewell. That said – we did enjoy several precious times where some of her old self shone and pierced through the sadness and pain she was in, genuinely smiling whenever she saw Ottie, who, at 15 months, had no clue what was going on and was happy to try and clamber over her doting Gran.
The run-up to Christmas was nothing short of busy. A brilliantly successful fair at Hopetoun House (my 9th year there, I think) got my festive spirits up, not to mention busy online ordering on my website and Etsy shops. December is a hectic period for most businesses like mine that demands immediate rest come 1st January. Previously, that wasn’t possible as I always had trade shows to prepare for. This year, however, was the first time I didn’t have to think about that!
In August last year, I partnered up with Parkwood Springs, a company specialising in creating ethically sourced products, to take over the majority of the wholesale side of my business in a licensing capacity. It is undoubtedly the biggest change I have made in my career. It has been exciting and nerve-wracking in equal measure! They will be exhibiting on my behalf at trade shows, so I no longer need to spend December and January frantically preparing for them, getting products shot and catalogues printed. I spent much of December and January creating new designs and revisiting abandoned ones, which was hugely satisfying.
I am starting to carve a bit more ‘me’ time in the evenings – my youngest is now officially a toddler (sob!), which means uninterrupted evenings are slowly making a return, woohoo! I have been using my newfound downtime to create more drawings – after all, it’s what I love doing the most! I’ve been creating a mixture of playful patterns made up of random shapes that I’ve drawn on the iPad.
I’ve also been drawing more leaves (one of my favourite things to draw), and have been busy creating some Hong Kong-themed designs for my UK licensee, as well as a portrait of Winston Churchill, because I also love drawing people. Did you know – it would have been his 150th birthday on 30th November this year? Random fact for you there.
I still prefer to draw on paper as opposed to my iPad. I usually draw in my bullet journal because I always have that on me wherever I go. The trouble is, the pages are dotted, so if I ever want to use the drawings for anything, I need to Photoshop out the dots, which can take ages. I recently created a Christmas wreath design that I am keen to use for a Christmas card this year, but I am putting off creating it because I can’t face the arduous task of removing the dots!
Speaking of Christmas, I did spend a little time at the start of the year creating some festive patterns. I shared a fun gift-wrapping reel before Christmas where I wrapped up a present using gift wrap that I had illustrated. I thought it made for a cheerful design so I will probably use it for a Christmas card, we shall see!
So, what’s happening in the next few months?
New products will soon be added to my website and Etsy shop – there will be stationery items and a new table runner design that I hope you will love! I have another Surprise Mystery Box launching in February, so be sure to sign up for my mailing list if you want to be the first to know about it! I have booked out time in February and March to work on new calendar designs for 2025, and I have multiple bespoke gifting projects needing to be started. With any luck, I’ll be able to share the outcome of those in my next blog post!
With January coming to a close, it kind of feels like Spring is just around the corner. I am looking forward to warmer weather arriving so that I can get out more to draw. In September last year, my good, fellow arty friend Hannah and I went up Glentress with our sketchbooks and art supplies (and plenty of snacks, obviously) to draw, and it was sheer bliss. Good company, nature and drawing are the best things for me, three vices for which I am hugely thankful. I’m also grateful for wine, jaffa cakes and coffee, my other, almost-as-important vices.