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March: Meet the Maker, creative block and herbs

Yay! I’m finally getting to grips with this whole blogging regularly thing! Here is what March looked like for me.

March meet the maker

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been taking part in March Meet the Maker organised by Joanne Hawker. Initially, I was quite nervous about taking part because after the failure of my 100-day project, I wondered whether I’d be able to keep up. As I write this, I haven’t had to catch up more than one day at any one point throughout the month and I’ve really enjoyed taking part.

I’ve gained a few more followers on social media and have met loads more creatives and makers online, which has been great. There are so many talented creatives around!

I’ve also been developing my photography for Instagram. Content and the caption are still key, however, shooting in low light is no longer an option and ensuring I use good composition and more importantly, lots of colour have been high on my priority list.

To catch up with my March Meet the Maker posts, take a look here. 

New paints and a mother’s day card

I used to use gouache paints all the time when I was doing my foundation course (10 years ago!) but have never owned my own set and haven’t used them since. Having seen a lot of designers and illustrators using gouache in their work online, I wanted to try my hand at using them again. So I bought my own gouache introductory set in a little art supplies shopping spree a couple of weeks ago.

When they arrived soon after, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on them and to get painting. First of all, I doodled quite tentatively in my sketchbook, but a few days later, I wanted to create a Mother’s Day card for my Mum, so I got to work.

Mixing the right colour was tricky – only because I didn’t mix enough paint the first time, it ran out, then I ended up having to paint the entire background again after mixing a darker shade the second time around. I also found that I needed to use a lot of white to get the pastel colours that I wanted. I’m used to just adding more water to watercolours to make them lighter (and my first watercolour set didn’t even have any white paint) so I’m sure it is something that I will get used to. I love how this Mother’s Day card turned out, though, my Mum loved it and I look forward to playing with these paints even more in the future.

Creative Block

I feel like I’m finally finding my groove for this year, however, it hasn’t been easy. At the end of last year, I felt incredibly grateful and very overwhelmed (read: shocked) at the success of the desk calendars. Throughout December, I knew that I should be working on new ideas ready for the new year but I couldn’t focus on them. I hoped to hit the ground running in January with a few Wedding Stationery ideas that I’d had but nothing I created seemed to be working.

I got into a vicious cycle of first of all thinking that I wasn’t going to make a success of it all, then not doing anything anyway, so that was a self-fulfilling prophecy in itself. I would then look at what everyone else was doing, of course, it was all better than what I was creating and even when I saw work that I thought “I could do that,” even that was better than anything I’d created. It was a horrible rut to be in.

That was until, a couple of weeks ago, one evening after I’d had an especially bad day, I found a couple of articles about creating positive thought patterns and chatted to a couple of friends and made a few decisions/realisations:

Negativity isn’t going to be my default anymore
I think that I’m quite a positive person and I am about most things. Apart from the story, I tell myself about myself. That needed to change.

I will not be led by anxiety
Almost related to above, but I’d got to the point where I’d feel anxious about not feeling anxious and try to think back to why I was feeling anxious before. It seems silly when I think about it now and anxiety is real but I seem to have taken control at the moment.

I must make an effort to get outside or do at least 20 mins of exercise every day
Fresh air, stretches, yoga, breathing, and focusing on right now is healthy and it works.

Switch off notifications!
Put the phone down, back away from Instagram and stop worrying about why you only have 10 likes and whatsername has 10,000 likes and she only posted a photo of her lunch, whereas you posted a piece of work which took hours! (not based on real people or real events but I’m sure most people can relate to this)

Change my 7 am alarm to 6:35 am
This is a small change but I am a morning person and get up a lot quicker when my alarm goes off earlier and feel better for fitting in stretches, a walk and a slow breakfast when I get up early, any later and I feel as though I must get to work almost straight away.

These new plans have already made a significant difference to my days, my work seems to be looking a lot better too, which I’m not sure if it is a coincidence or not. I’m sure my positive outlook and good habits have made some difference.

Herb growing

It’s now Spring! Yay! Spring is my favourite season, mostly because the days get lighter as the weeks roll by, also because all the new plants and flowers are waking up and popping up everywhere! In the UK, it is ever so slightly warmer, we still have grey rainy days but we can’t have everything.

Rob and I planted some herbs in a little box on our windowsill and teeny tiny shoots have started to appear. We planted basil, coriander, rosemary and thyme as they’re the herbs that we cook with the most. The coriander is the one in the photo which is going a bit wild, the others are slow and steady. So that is exciting! I look forward to eating our own herbs. We also have a chilli plant which has woken up after the winter and already looks as though it’s going to produce more chillis than last year.  

Beauty and the beast

Beauty and the Beast was my favourite Disney film which I was a child (it still is!), right next to Mary Poppins, I knew all of the words by heart. So when I heard that they were remaking the film I was equal parts excited and nervous that it’d be ruined forever. However, we went to see the live action remake a few days after it was released in cinemas and it did not disappoint! It was, first of all, absolutely stunning, had all the charm that I enjoyed from the animated original and included a lot more of Belle and Beast’s story that you don’t hear about in the original. I really enjoyed it and would go to see it again in a heartbeat.

Lastly, another photo from the March Meet the Maker challenge, this one was all about milestones and included designing Wedding Stationery, Penguin Calendars, setting up shop and becoming self-employed.

January: new site, new ventures, new thinking

A lot of work has been going on behind the scenes around here, I’ve been thinking a lot about a lot of things but specifically about how my blog fits into what I do and how I work, which is why there has been such a long break since the last post, time has also gone extremely quickly! There has been a lot to share but where do I start? I thought I could start off by sharing monthly-ish updates on what I’ve been up to as I go along. It will be a mixture of a few projects that I’ve been working on as well as some recent adventures and thoughts.

Newly improved design

I’m pleased to announce that this blog and website has a newly improved design. I’ve spruced up my logo, added a homepage and a page specially dedicated to weddings!

I’m using the Make theme by the Theme Foundry, which is so simple to use and customise. I had spent so many hours previously, wrestling with the code on themes that weren’t fit for purpose, so it was time for a change and I’m so pleased with the way that this site looks now. I’d love to know your honest opinions.

Notecards

The biggest job that I had in January was to make all of my existing card designs available in my Etsy Shop. I had accumulated a lot of different notecard designs and it was a big job to take all new photography of them and make them available in the shop. I’ve had a lot of comments on them and am really pleased with the collection, so head on over to my shop to take a look. There are even a few sale items in the shop and a multi-buy option where you can get a discount for buying 5 together.

Wedding

I was asked back in December if I would design some items for a family wedding, which was in January. I was thrilled! I was asked to design their order of service, table plan, place cards and a couple of signs, it was a project that I really enjoyed. There was the time pressure of getting it designed and printed within three weeks and for family which can somewhat raise the pressure a little because they were putting all of their faith in me to do a good job, and being family, had to talk to me afterwards. They are still talking to me which I see as a good sign! Joking aside, I really enjoyed designing for this couple, their wedding was like a cosy winter wonderland.

Logos

I have also been working on some logos and have just signed those off, however, I can’t share anything just yet. I have worked on logos in the past, including my own, but this was the first as a freelance designer and going through the whole process with the client was something I really enjoyed and the client was thrilled with the final result too.

Plans

The start of the year involved a lot of planning, I had all these ideas of what I wanted to do this year and in true Sian style, I planned on doing far too much and I wanted to get it all done at once. So, after a chat with a friend, she advised that I write down two goals for the following three months and split those up into small actions to be divided up over a week by week plan. These plans have changed slightly but breaking them down and assigning weeks to them, really helped.

I had two other life-changing planning moments in January, the first was discovering Trello and the second was starting a bullet journal. I’m still getting to grips with using Trello, it feels like an application that I will love but it is taking a while to weave into my process. Bullet journalling, however, is really working for me. I’m keeping it extremely simple for now. It is pretty much just my list for the week, I’m not even using a pretty notebook, just a plain one that I had in my drawer and I’m keeping the pages extremely minimal.

Style dilemma

Since I became self-employed in October, and maybe a while before that, I’ve had a bit of a dilemma. At times, I would worry about it and at others, it wouldn’t really bother me too much; and that is, my style. I love my little penguin drawings, I enjoy vector illustration, I love hand lettering, I really enjoy watercolour painting and I regularly doodle little floral designs and patterns, but what is my style? What direction should I take my work in? Cue quarter life crisis! If you look at my Instagram, it is a mixture of styles, mediums and work that I really enjoy. I think it is great to mix things up a bit every now and then, but I had a couple of weeks in January where I was almost paralysed creatively by not knowing which direction I should take my work in. The well-known phrase, “jack of all trades, master of none” went through my mind a few times, I want to find something that I’m good at and be known for it. I got into a small trap of comparing myself to others for a while and even I know that doesn’t end well.

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After a while, however, I realised that I should keep it simple. Get to work, keep drawing, keep painting and keep creating. So that is what I’ve been trying to do and I seem to be getting there. I find that when I feel overwhelmed and getting ahead of myself: if I go back to basics, just keep drawing and forget about everyone else, I seem to find my groove again.

So that was January, better late than never! We’re over half way through February now and I already have lots to share, hopefully, that will be before the end of the month!

 

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Meet the Maker Week – Day 4

This week I’m joining in with #MeetTheMakerWeek organised by @joannehawker and if I were to take an “in action” video right now, you’d see me sipping on lemsip, wrapped up in a blanket, working on a boring spreadsheet. So thankfully, I took this video a few days ago when I was painting away with Gilmore Girls on in the background.

Meet the Maker Week – Day 1

meetthemakerweek_1

This week I’m joining in with #MeetTheMakerWeek organised by @joannehawker . So here goes, my name is Sian Shrimpton, I’m based in Hertfordshire and this is what I do.

I first opened my Etsy shop in 2010, just after graduating with a degree in Graphic Design. I would create hand painted notecards and stationery for family and friends. I had to stop selling because I found that I didn’t have the time with a full time job and a long commute.

I didn’t stop drawing however and I quickly filled many a sketchbook with ideas, drawings and a few penguins for good measure. Fast forward to 2016 and I have decided to take the leap and open my Etsy shop with all new products and working freelance as a designer and illustrator. Currently, I’m selling little desk Calendars and Greeting Cards (Greeting cards will be back in stock this afternoon).

My work is inspired by bright colours and bold lines. I have a passion for hand drawn lettering, paint and illustration. I put a lot of love into everything that I do and I enjoy every second of it, I hope that my work can put a smile on your face as much as it has mine.