After a recent and fabulous 4 day break to the beautifully sunny Pembrokeshire, I was inspired to recreate one of the most prominent sites of the trip. Nestled along the Pembrokeshire coast between St Davids and Goodwick is the fabulous little village of Porthgain. The small, once commercial harbour exported slate from nearby quarries – an industrial heritage not easily forgotten with the presence of the now ruined lime kilns, crog lofts and pilot house. Yet for all of its historical significance, Porthgain is so much more than echoes of its past; with its breathtaking coastal walks and wealth of wildlife, this pretty little harbour is a welcomed sight for anyone wishing to escape from the chaos of daily life. I was only there for a few minutes – a quick drive in to get some photographs – but then, I’ve spent more time than I care to remember exploring the fishing villages of Pembrokeshire and Porthgain is an old friend of mine. While I pulled up in the usual spot to dash out of the car and take a quick snap of the sea, something caught my eye. It was nothing particularly unusual, but a single, colourfully painted fishing boat tilted on the sand. It looked almost lonely, as if it were sitting patiently waiting for the tide to return. The sun was glorious and the sea was a beautiful powder blue. Against the harsh browns and the greens the little white house and blue boat looked so inviting. I just had to take a photo.
When I returned home, I set about painting it – though not in its sunshine glory but rather as I had imagined the little boat in my mind. Sitting or sleeping peacefully under a large crescent moon, waiting patiently for the morning.
Pieces painted like this are always the most fun. There’s something very natural and unique about the end result and it’s something that I absolutely love.
I recently had a conversation with a friend about whether she should take the plunge into full time self-employment. It’s a difficult topic to advise on because on the one hand, I love her enough as a friend to want to scream ‘NO Don’t do it to yourself!’ but on the other, I love her enough to want her to feel the huge sense of fulfilment and happiness that I think, is only really experienced when working for yourself.
My game is paint, canvas, creative nonsense and depicting my favourite subjects in an altogether less than realistic manner, whereas her bag is Sound Therapy. A perfectly tranquil, ‘cleanse the soul’ sort of path. A job that would have me more zen than I care to imagine after a session filled day. A career, filled with worry, uncertainty and (at times) dread.. No, not therapy – Self employment. Welcome to the ‘hand to mouth’ existence that is the virgin solo worker. I know, I’m still in that phase, but the old beast they like to call ‘uncertainty’ has, as of late, become something of a unexpected friend.. the miserable old grandfather that terrified you as a kid, whose intentions and harsh reality were only ever meant to teach you.. in the kindest (albeit unorthodox) sort of way.
Being afraid of not paying the bills, not achieving your goals and being found by the Gas man half eaten by Alsations is actually a great incentive. It is, in it’s own peculiar sort of way, a great motivation. I’ve tried to explain it to family and friends before, but for those individuals who have the comfort and security of full time employment, the thought of not having that highly taxed salary at the end of the month is a hideous notion. It’s okay, I understand, I thought the same before I took the plunge – especially since I didn’t have a lucky pot of gold waiting for me to fall back on. But, needs must and my drive to answer only to myself, to control my own future and live by my own faults far outweighed the fear of staying put.
So what was the advice? It was ‘Do it!’ Contrary to popular belief there are always jobs to fall back on BUT, it’s the ‘Plan B’ that makes you fail. You have a choice in the matter, always, You can figure out a sterling ‘Plan A’ and work hard or you can give up. But Plan A needs to be so overwhelmingly attractive, so viciously appealing and so desperately irresistible that you would do anything to achieve it. There can never be a safety net or you’ll never let go of the edge of the pool… so to speak.
Plan B’s make you fail.
Think about it this way. Since becoming self employed I have had my earnings dramatically decreased (and trust me I wasn’t earning much before that despite being educated up to the eyeballs) but I am covering the essentials. I don’t get chance to spend out on the hair dresser, or buy myself those beautiful leather boots I perv at every time I walk past the shop window, BUT, I cover my bills, I live healthily and I can afford the occasional break away. So I am winning. Starting any business – especially from scratch – is a slow and arduous process. There’s no quick fixes, especially if you’re not funded by parents, partners or investors. It will be painfully slow at times but it will be progress. Progress in the right direction.
How do I stay positive when it’s all so stressful?!
You remember that you HAVE to. You remember that you may be stressed but you’re stressed at home, or in your studio, or your shop etc. The money you earn and work long hours for goes into YOUR pocket. You’ll be stressed but recognised for your own talent. You can organise your day as you see fit; pop to meetings, get a coffee, decorate, plan, advertise and above all else, you’re never EVER answerable to anyone else. There’ll also be an enormous sense of satisfaction and achievement, not to mention the feeling of self worth. This is your baby and what you created will take on the world. You just have to believe it will.
At the end of the day, you’re following your own dreams, not those of a multi million pound company. There are a thousand cliché lines I could throw at you like – ‘if not now, then when?’ ‘Life’s too short’ or even my personal favourite (and something that never fails to make me laugh..) ‘money isn’t everything’ (Ha! Try telling the bank that bad boy when they’re breathing down your neck to repay your overdraft!). It’s usually dished out by those in lovely comfortable jobs, from the equally comfortable sofa of their brand new show home. All of these people (though meaning well) are quick to hand out advice that they have never followed themselves.
Ultimately, being self employed gives you freedom, purpose and direction. The beauty of which is that you can choose exactly how much freedom, purpose and direction you want – the greatest way of controlling all those shitty little things that life can sometimes throw at you. There really is no better feeling than getting paid for doing what you love.
I thought you might like to see Polperro. What a gorgeous Cornish town it is too! That glassy blue water and bright blue sky is enough to make anyone jealous. Certainly me anyway!It’s lovely to paint such breathtaking scenery and it really helps to inspire me for future pieces. When you immerse yourself in art like this, it really has an impact on how you think, feel and act for the rest of the day. With me for example, I spend the following hours noticing the sound of seagulls overhead, craving the sea and wandering around in a sort of ‘holiday like daze’ – it’s just fantastic. That’s the power of art. The ability to transform the viewer (or creator) to a different place, somewhere special and unique to you. You start to smell the seaweed and remember the taste of your favourite ice cream, you can literally feel the surroundings and you can get lost for a while in your head.. memory is a wonderful thing and art simply turns it on.
Polperro is my latest work, measuring 20×30″ (before framing) and available to buy. http://www.moogledoo.com
So here’s the thing, the last 4 months have been – well, a bit chaotic to say the least. In May, I found out that myself and my lovely other half were going to have a baby in January! Yup, that’s right, our own little artist! *Yey!* Since that day, the rest of the past 4 months seem to have disappeared into a colourful blur of hospital visits, scans, midwives, extreme exhaustion (a bit of sick) aaaand of course, canvas, paint and contracts. It’s been a super exciting time filled with apprehension and happiness, panic and an overwhelming realisation that I might have to grow up a bit now (just a bit mind).. So basically, I’m hoping that this is enough of an excuse for you to forgive the quite distinct lack of blogging.
Nevertheless, now is the time to get back on the blogon (Blog-wagon) and update you on all things creative..
There’s been lots of work on and a super exhibition opening night that I attended not so very long ago – which I thoroughly enjoyed! The exhibition has a range of my most recent pieces in it and will continue to show in the Victoria Fearn Gallery (Rhiwbina) until the 30th August. But wait, there’s more… As part of the advertising for this lovely gallery, the owner has put a quarter page piece in the super Welsh Coastal Life Magazine – and guess who’s work they used! (Ok so it’s mine!) Since it’s the centenary of the birth of Dylan Thomas (Swansea’s own superstar poet), they’ve opted to use my version of ‘Llareggub’ as the header. It’s so good to see my work in there again! I can’t wait to get myself a copy next month!
With this going on quietly in the background I’ve concentrated on the commissions at hand, thoroughly enjoying the diversity they bring and loving seeing peoples reactions once they’re framed and delivered!
In fact, I have a few photo’s, but I’ll pop those up tomorrow for you to see – save making this post a giant essay.
So things continue to go well. There’s been quieter spots (all of which make me panic. naturally) but somehow it all seems to pull itself together in the end. There’s loads of new work on the website too, so if you get chance (go on, do it now while you’re online) have a look at the fine art section!
Its a situation we all find ourselves in. There’s a birthday, anniversary or celebration of sorts. We’ve got busy lives and we’ve totally forgotten about it all and now, its upon us! Argh! So we ‘nip’ out and grab the closest affordable thing to us… But are we happy with it? *sigh* ..no
What if it wasn’t that way? What if, when we looked at the calendar and noticed it was dads birthday soon we went online and got a local artist to do all the hard work? Why bother? Well, other than doing your bit in this harsh economy to support and protect the local creatives around you, you’re getting a unique and beautifully crafted piece that’s tailored perfectly to your needs. You’re telling your father, mother, brother, friend, husband, wife etc that you really thought about this gift and that you wanted to buy something for them that no one else in the world has. An original work created by hand with care, consideration and talent.
Now take out the feel-good-do-good part of this equation and lets look simply at how it benefits you. When customers contact me about work, they have a choice. They can either purchase an original that has already been created – for the asking price – or they can commission me to create something unique for them – at ANY price. Strange as this seems, its true. I work on an affordable art basis and am constantly pushing for art that doesn’t break the bank. If its £30 or £3,000 you have, I’ll work towards most budgets. I’m not saying you’ll get a meter long framed fine art piece for £50 but you’ll certainly get a canvas original! You’ll also get free delivery!
‘So let me get this straight’ you say… ‘I get hold of you, tell you what I want (ideally) and how much I can afford and you create it, wrap it and post it to me OR to the lucky person receiving the gift…?!’
Yup! It’s as easy as that.
Surely we would all love to give gifts like this all of the time? Yet, for some reason, artists are constantly having to persuade people of their worth and convince them that ‘art’ is a worthwhile cause. Art is an investment but you don’t have to re-mortgage your home to get hold of it.
So with this in mind, why would you go through the stress of having to drive into the city and find a gift that a million others have, only to be unsure of its suitability and irritated that you’ve spent more than intended.. Doesn’t make sense does it?
If you’re interested in getting something unique and affordable (of course! you tell me how much you want to pay) then why wouldn’t you get in touch?
Take the stress out of the gift and visit http://www.moogledoo.com or have a quick mooch round my facebook page for more ideas http://on.fb.me/1lPxQo3 – I’m super friendly don’t worry! So you can approach me about ANY sort of project! :)
Here’s a look at a few things you can have ranging from £50 – £500+
We all need to have some form of inspiration in our lives. For me it HAS to be a daily occurrence – not just for my work, but for my general well-being. Like so many other creative’s I thrive off emotion and that ‘good feeling’ you get at the height of an inspirational bout. A sunny day, a familiar smell, a new commission, a dog walk, good breakfast or even a good storm can cause the soul to swell with excitement and ideas.. But what happens if its raining, the bills are in, you’re full of cold and you’ve run out of coffee?!
For me, the bills don’t stop flooding in just because I’m unwell, feeling a bit pants or stressing about work. Far from it in fact. So how (when there seems to be no happy spark available) do you create that spontaneous inspirational moment that’s sure to drive us on? I know, I know, you can’t ‘create’ spontaneity – but you can generate that vibrant ‘on top of the world’ feeling if you think carefully about what it is that makes your tick. It’s important to realise that although we all have ‘those days’ where we just can’t be bothered to do anything, we should never accept defeat or chalk it up as lost.
Inspiration is a fundamental part of my life. I need to know how to get it, so it can work its magic on me and help me to achieve efficiency in my day and quality in my art. There’s no room for giving up. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid.
It’s different with everybody, but perhaps my ‘triggers’ might help you work out how to recognise your own. Here’s a list of some of the things that I do to push that inspiration out when it seems adamant to remain firmly hidden.
First things first – know you’re loves. They’re all sensory so pick them apart and try to achieve them individually.
Sight: For me it’s bright colours and calming blues, the sea and little British harbours.
– So get out for a walk, photograph wildflowers on your journey. It doesn’t matter if you wont use the pictures again, but the act of taking a photograph makes you sit up and take notice of your surroundings in detail. It helps you focus.
– If you can’t get out and about, jump onto Pinterest – its full of beautiful images that are a feast for the eyes. Trawl through fashion, architecture, wildlife or anything that tickles your fancy. It’ll spark memories, generate ideas and get the creative juices flowing.
– Paint your nails! Sounds daft but that splash of colour always cheers me up!
– Nip out with the intention to buy yourself the brightest flowers you can find.
– I love the smell of the coast! Seaweed, wet sand and fish and chips! Yet, though I live by the sea, I often don’t get the chance to just pack up and go out. Instead I’ll grab some fresh air by pottering in the garden, smelling the herbs or opening up the garage and getting a whiff of the wetsuits that are hanging up – they remind me of days in the surf. They might be small things, but they stimulate the senses.
– This ones easy! – Bare feet. Take off your shoes and walk around the house. Walk into the garden over the patio, onto the grass and explore with your feet. Poke the soil with your toes and let the air get to them. Just the act of kicking off your shoes and peeling off your socks will give you a sense of freedom and let you relax. Perhaps you can spare 20 minutes to read a magazine or your favourite book, but do it with those toes out!
– Icecream, fruit, chocolate, chips – oh dear! If its that summer/sunshine vibe you’re after, make a smoothie, a herbal tea (and drink it outside with your bare feet), treat yourself to a little bit of what you like. It’ll give you a sense of indulgence and you’ll feel better for it. I like to make a coffee and enjoy an Amaretti biscuit (or three).
Sound: – Herring gulls! (Seagulls) – I can’t get enough of the sound. It’s like the sound of the sea, the coast and all those places I love in one shrill shriek! But if they’re not there, I jump onto youtube and look for a documentary on Harbours or the Welsh coast. Pop on your favourite music or just open the window and listen to the world going by :)
There’s a million things you can do and ways you can stimulate inspiration. It’s simply about knowing yourself. Why not try some of these ideas, or your own. What makes you tick? If you have a list, I’d love to hear it and it’ll be great to have a list of others ideas for us all to try!
This is ‘Bolthole’. Look at it and through it and tell me what you see..
When I decided to paint ‘Bolthole’ I had little real understanding of what I actually wanted to create. I had an idea yes, I knew the colours I wanted to use, the items I wanted to include and the feeling I wanted to produce but there were no preliminary sketches, no rough drafts, no photos and no clue as to where to start.. (no change there then.) After dolloping on some background colour and patching in the window, I decided to let the piece develop organically. For me personally, it’s when I create my best work because there are no boundaries, no expectations and the possibilities are limitless.
When I get lost in my head I visit this place. I know what the house looks like, what flowers are in the little walled garden, how the breeze smells like a mixture of the sea and wood burning stoves in the evening and that the wooden gate needs oiling. I can hear the seagulls and the clinking of the masts in the wind.
The details are endless.
When we look at a piece of art that draws us in and inspires us, it creates something of a ‘safe place’. Somewhere the mind can wander and switch off. It generates a range of feelings and allows us to drift away in a daydream. ‘Bolthole’ lets me do this and I’ve had a similar reaction from many of my customers, (some claim they’ve become tearful looking at it! Hopefully in a good way!)
Since I rarely post these pictures on my Facebook page, I thought Id give you the chance to see how ‘Bolthole’ came to be.
I BELIEVE that everyone should have the opportunity to own an original piece of art.. Something that inspires emotion, sparks memories, ideas and becomes a central point for positivity, pride and conversation. Paintings we see that we can’t get out of our mind. Paint that draws us in and doesn’t let go.. Whatever the reasoning behind it, we know we don’t buy art because of its practicality, we buy it because it speaks to the soul.
In an age of fleeting digital photographs, television advertisements and rolling billboards, there’s little visual stimulation quite like the permanence of painted art. An object that lingers and waits until you’ve finished looking – not something that flicks on, off or over before you’ve had a chance to compute. This is why we buy it.
Art for some is a chance to show off wealth or to add a splash of well coordinated colour to a modern, minimalist room. To others it’s a dream. A dream of owning a window into a second, minute or hour of daydreaming. It’s a framed conversation starter, an escape from reality and a chance to get lost.. We all ‘wish’ we owned an original piece of art, but few of us ever get the opportunity. In fact, few of us realise we can all own art, it just depends on how far we’re willing to venture into it. Art is expensive. Or at least, the thought of art is expensive – but it doesn’t have to be. Though many buy works with thousands on the price tag primarily to claim they can, most art IS and will always be affordable. Ok, ok, you may not be able to afford a Botticelli (or I’d have a dozen) but there are a million pieces, artists and designers that create because they can’t imagine doing anything else. Look for these people. Don’t waste time on those who splash a little blue over a red background and call it £9,000’s worth. It’s not. Look for those who love what they do and know why they do it. It’s not for the money – that’s the ‘result’ (as author Simon Sinek states) but for the simple reason that they need you to see, feel and love their work as much as they’ve enjoyed doing it. These people want you to be part of their journey..
As an artist I strive to give people the chance to be part of this exact journey; to immerse themselves in the all encompassing creative process. I work on an affordable art principle, because it’s more important for me that everyone has the chance to buy, own and pass down a piece of art.
My designs are vibrant, bold, expressive and free.. but what they inspire, is entirely up to you..
We’ve all heard of Welsh writer Dylan Thomas, whose wonderfully colourful works have captured our imagination and inspired poets, actors and artists for decades. But, it is his literary classic Under Milk Wood’ that has become one of his most famous and best know of his creations. Based in the fictional village of Llareggub (which reversed is ‘bugger all’ ), Thomas takes you into the minds and dreams of the sleeping villagers in a vibrant, fast paced fashion with traditional ‘Welsh-isms’ and working class pub humour. Thought to have been inspired by Welsh towns such as New Quay (Ceredigion), Ferryside (Carmarthen) and Dylan’s beautiful home of Laugharne, no one really knows what this peculiar little spot actually looked like. Apart from a crudely scribbled map, detailing the location of the streets, hill and harbour, there was never any images accompanying the book.
Since this year we celebrate the centenary of his birth, I thought (in true artistic fashion) I would give you my interpretation of Llareggub. Based on Dylan’s original ‘map’, this large and vibrant painting shows the long winding Coronation Street (top row), Donkey Street (middle right), Cockle Row (bottom right) and Llareggub Hill in the background. With layers of colour and an almost dream-like quality, I aimed to make Llareggub as colourful as its characters, including boats from the book and of course the beautiful Welsh National flower ~ The daffodil.
Below you can see the final version and its journey from a snowy white canvas to a finished product.. As ever, this piece is for sale (framed) so if you’re interested do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
(If you love this style, why not check out the others by visiting my website http://www.moogledoo.com) and say hello to me on my facebook page – I always love to link with new people and hear your views :) http://on.fb.me/1lPxQo3
Waging war against the printer is (for the most part) a pointless, futile business. One is a basic, worn out and simple minded machine, beaten down by the endless production of colourful images and the other is, well.. the printer; an efficient, complex and temperamental creature intent on destroying the last shreds of sanity I may still have..
You can see how my day started.
After The onslaught of battle and a spectacularly empty victory on my part, I set to printing out the latest order of Moogledoo cards. Many, MANY colourful, wrapped and enveloped, well, envelopes later and I had a rather impressive pile of fine art and illustrative miniatures ready to wing their way to a fabulous little shop in Penarth. There’s something totally satisfying about seeing the crisp cello wraps neatly stacked and string bound in the window, with a quick thank you note slid in between. Success! One job down.
Since it is spring, I have started writing more ‘to-do’ notes in an attempt to be vaguely efficient and focussed with my work. Its not going too badly, though on todays list was not 1. Look for new house 2. Look for new curtains for new house or 3. Look at oven baked clay products.. Nevertheless, I have achieved some of what I started out to complete.. plus, the day is still relatively young.
I’m in an odd predicament when it comes to my work – I love nothing more than producing painting after paintings or illustrations for people, I love seeing the end result and the looks on the clients faces when they receive them BUT I so desperately want to get to the point where I can spend my days endlessly searching for inspiration for my latest work and have people fall in love with those instead. I dream of spending my days in a paint splattered studio and welcoming visitors into my stone built wonky walled gallery. Somewhere people can mooch around and let the kids touch and interact with my work. I can see it in my head – now I just need to work towards it. It is a privilege that I have yet to earn..
I’m 3 months into being a self employed full time artist. Its hard. Really hard. But it’s going to be I suppose. You’re going to have to scrimp and save and work huge hours for minimal money because you’re actual reward, is working for yourself and doing what you love.
I’m also thinking of getting involved with local schools and looking into running extra curricula art activities – creative hours spent helping kids explore and make a mess. Art doesn’t seem to hold much weight in primary school education these days and id love to know why. Not entirely sure how to start that one up.. if you happen to know, do let me in on the secret :)
For now then I’ll leave you with a few of my latest card creations… and the obvious link to where you can buy them ;)