Category Archives: Creative Feature

Pottery – Falling in Love with Clay and Time Out for Carers

Those who know me will already know I’ve been attending a pottery class for a couple of months. I’ve learned so much and come to love the medium of clay and sculpting. It’s not only therapeutic but also highly creative and fun.    

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I was really lucky when my friend, Ruth, invited me to a special class, put on by Dorothy Morris of Greenspace Gallery, Carmarthen, to learn pottery. Dorothy received funding for a class for Carers and she also runs a Textile class for Carers on Wednesdays. I’m my father’s main port of call as he suffers from disabling Ataxia and as he cares for my mother who has Alzheimer’s and Cancer, so I qualified, and it’s the best thing that has come out of the heartbreak of elderly parental care.

It’s worth noting that this came at the perfect time for me, having just asked for help to deal with crippling anxiety and depression myself. It came at a time when I was as low as I’ve ever been and unable to cope, and I fought my virulent social anxiety to attend and am so glad I did!

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My sleeping dragon before and after glaze and firing © Lisa Shambrook

Pottery is, as I mentioned, therapeutic, and I get huge peace from working the clay with my fingers, from considering and thinking of ideas, and from learning techniques and skills. Dorothy has a curriculum and we are learning right from the beginning, which is great as most of us are beginners! We began with pinch pots, moulding a ball of clay and pushing your thumb inside to create a pot shape, then smoothing and shaping into a bowl. The following week we made two pinch pots and sealed them together and created something from our imagination – you know my imagination – I made a sleeping dragon!

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Oak Tiles, Clay biscuit fired work, Tree Trunk Vase and some of our work in class © Lisa Shambrook

I sketched it first and began to mould it and this is where learning works, I began to cut out and shape two separate clay wings, to fix onto the sides of my dragon, but Dorothy showed me how to use the clay to sculpt impressions of wings adding ribbing and ridges to show where the wings lay. This worked so well, and I knew I was going to learn a lot.

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Bust and Bowls and other class members’ work  © Lisa Shambrook

We made busts with two pinch pots and another for shoulders, then we moved onto slab work making tiles and my natural inclination took me to acorns and oaks. A tree trunk vase came next, learning to curve and seal the slab into a cylinder. After that we had time to design our own project using both pinch pots and slabs of clay. I designed bookends. One was an acorn, I have a penchant for them, and the other was a reference to my three books: Beneath the Rainbow, Beneath the Old Oak, and Beneath the Distant Star, a rainbow, an oak leaf and a star. Sadly, these bookends blew up in the kiln.

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Acorn and Hope Within Bookends in clay © Lisa Shambrook

Accidents will happen, so it’s best to be prepared for them. Any air inside the clay that hasn’t got a hole to escape from will create a bomb inside the kiln – and any piece could have an air bubble, especially as we are all beginners. There’s no blame, as it could have been my own piece or anyone else’s that caused the explosion, we’ll never know. It did serve to help us be more careful with our rolling out and avoiding air bubbles!

Coil work came next. I had no idea that many, many pots, large and small, are first created with coils then smoothed, but it’s a great way to way to make pots without a potter’s wheel and to vary the shape. My coil work was a little suspect, not very tidy, and it rather frustrated me. But I did learn to use it in a later project.

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Castle Turret Box © Lisa Shambrook

Our next brief was to create a box, or at least a lidded item, using slab, pinch pots and coils. I designed a square castle turret using six tile slabs, scored the edges and used slip (clay and water mixture) to seal the sides to each other, and added the pinch pot to the lid, decorated with tiny coils. I wasn’t sure the coils would work, and worried about how they would look, but in the end they actually looked like roses and I loved them! I put battlements around the lid and a smaller square tile to the base of the lid so it would sit on top and not slip off the box. I pushed air holes into the lid beneath the pinch pot – I didn’t want another explosion! A decorative handle, a door and window, and creeping vines finished it.

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Castle Turret Trinket Boxes © Lisa Shambrook

I’m quite an efficient worker, so with my spare time leading up to Christmas, I made two more boxes. These were circular turrets, one in brown clay and one in white. Curiosity, I suppose, to see how the two clays differ. I rolled ‘snakes’ of clay and coiled them into discs that I then smoothed out, and they became my bases and lids for my castle turret boxes.

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Ruth’s work glazed and fired

I love this class. We meet in a small, cabin studio on a Friday afternoon for three hours. There’s no internet or mobile phone connection and I feel so free and at peace for those hours. I get to chat with my friends and work on being creative; it’s a win-win!

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Greenspace gallery and some of our Carers class…

You can find Dorothy Morris at The Greenspace Gallery and enquire about whether you would qualify for this class, there may be a few places left and we’re keeping going through next year too. She is also putting on an evening class for £10 per lesson working with pottery, textiles and art, so take a look if you’re interested.

I’m truly glad I took up my friend’s invitation – pottery has become a favourite outlet, and I’m thinking of playing and working with airdry clay after Christmas (as I don’t have a kiln!). It’s not something I want to give up!

Have you ever tried pottery or are you a potter?

What’s your favourite creative outlet?

Tell me what you’ve made…

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Cosplay Heroes – The Fans

My daughter just returned from her first Comic Con: Cardiff Film and Comic Convention at the Motorpoint Arena. She had an amazing time, and one day she’ll take me with her!

It was the culmination of great desire and months of hard, hard work creating her own costume…to go to a Comic Con and not cosplay? No way!

She finally decided on Thranduil from The Hobbit and got down to it. She needed much, including a sword, crown, elf ears, long blond wig and an elven coat. I saw it in many states of array and watched the whole costume come together. I was wide-eyed at the range of her talent, talent she already had and new ones! The silver coat was miraculously hand sewn from scratch, and is gorgeous!

The money, time and dedication that goes into a cosplay costume is legendary, and a lot…then she got to wear it, and she looked stunning!

Bekah - Thranduil by Antti Karppinen Photography, Alias Creative Nov 2014

Bekah – Thranduil by Antti Karppinen Photography, Alias Creative. Cardiff Film and Comic Con – Nov 2014

She got to take photos with Sylvester McCoy, the Seventh Doctor and Radagast The Brown and also sat upon the Iron Throne! She was stopped, too many times to count, by other fans wanting to take pics with her, and she loved the time to meet so many like-minded cosplayers! The costumes were first rate…and this is where the most amazing guy turned up.

Antti Karppinen, a young Finnish photographer, was there with a small set up and took photos of the fans. Seriously, this young man’s talent is fantastic, but his ethos was even better…he wanted to take pictures of the fans because he realised what the Comic Con was all about – without the fans the celebrities wouldn’t be celebrities – and he wanted to give something back.

Please read his story here, you won’t regret it and take a look at the other stunning photos he took! Assasin’s Creed, The Beast, Constantine,Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, Super Girl, Spiderman, Loki and more…they all rock! Follow him on Facebook too.

His photo was probably the culminating moment of Comic Con, a permanent photographic record of a costume that took hours and hours of blood, sweat and tears, and lots of determination and love! And a photo of my daughter that I can treasure…Now take me next time! 

Creative Feature: Troodlecraft

I’ve enjoyed bringing some great talent to my blog in the form of Creative Features for eight weeks, and this will be my last for a while. Though keep an eye out – when I see something special, I’ll let you know! And – I hope to be making a creative announcement of my own pretty soon! Until then I’m leaving you with cute and traditional in the capable hands of Troodlecraft.

I’ve known Trudi for a while and interviewed her daughter at Flourish Buttons just a few weeks ago, so this is another family with creativity running through its veins! I remember, when I was small, getting a clothes peg doll kit in my Christmas stocking, so Trudi’s little dolls brought back memories of something I did once myself. Her dolls are cute and cheerful and a delightfully simple idea for gifts. Take a trip back down memory lane…

Trudi Cotton - Troodlecraft

Trudi Cotton – Troodlecraft

Trudi Cotton – Creative and Doll Maker

What inspires you?

I think it is very difficult to pin point exactly what inspires me. There are so many things that I see daily that give me inspiration, whether it be a piece of art, a positive quote, or whether I hear about someone who has done something remarkable with their life.
I can remember some particular incidences over the last year or so, when I have been inspired by a particular event or a person, which has perhaps just been a fleeting moment in my life, but even so, has had a huge impact on the way I think about myself and my abilities. These incidences have inspired me to be more creative or inspired me to be more courageous, to try out new things, be more adventurous and childlike…and, I know that without these special moments, I would not have had the courage to start Troodlecraft, or to keep going when I had feelings of self doubt and low self esteem.

What inspired you to make clothes pin dolls?

When I was a little girl, and attended what they used to call Junior School, which is now called Primary School, the teacher gave us some pegs and showed us how to make ‘peg dolls’. A few years back, I remembered how much fun it was making peg dolls and decided that I would like to have another go. At that time I had no intention of starting a business, I was just purely looking for a creative experience.When I went onto the internet and typed in peg dolls, I found the clothespin dolls with lovely big heads, and I loved them.

 

I see you make both clothes pin and cotton reel dolls, which do you prefer to make, and do you create any other kinds of art?

I love making both of them…they are so different, but If I had to choose I would say the clothespin dolls. With the clothespin dolls you can give them flowers to hold or a baby to cradle, whereas the cotton reel dolls are a bit restricted by their cotton reel hands!! (Awww poor things!!) So, I have a lot of fun with the clothespin dolls!!! In fact that is what made me think about putting together clothespin doll kits, so that other people could have fun with them as well!! I also make bendy doll fridge magnets, wooden signs and, at Christmas I make nativity peg people, mini wreaths and Queen’s Guard peg dolls!

 

Do you have a favourite doll design?

No, not really!! Although, I do like the brightly coloured flowery material I sometimes use because it makes me feel light and summery, but apart from that I like them all! I find that each doll’s design is different, and I love that!

 

What are your future plans with your dolls?

Recently I made some clothespin dolls for people celebrating a special occassion, a bride and groom for a wedding, a doll for a university graduation, and someone asked me to make a gardener as a birthday present for their mum. I think it would be fun to do some more of these and perhaps expand that idea a bit more, and make some dolls associated with other hobbies like reading, computers and cooking.

Lastly, if you could commission anything for yourself, money no object, what would it be?

I love fairies, fairy houses and gardens…so a fairy garden would be wonderful. Little fairy houses and miniature fairy gardens. My husband is always saying ‘I’m off with the fairies’, so no surprises there I suppose!! Or, I did have an amazing dream once that I was travelling through Toy Town…you know, where Noddy and Big Ears might live…and I was there to look for a house to buy. I woke up feeling really happy! So maybe, I could build my own Toy Town.

You can purchase your very own dolls at Troodlecraft, and like Trudi’s Facebook Page. You can follow her on Twitter @troddlecraft, find out the latest at her blog and find her on Pinterest too.

BlueBell - Clothespin Doll - Troodlecraft

BlueBell – Clothespin Doll – Troodlecraft

Troodlecraft’s Bio

Troodlecraft is a small craft business in the town of Cinderford in the lovely Forest of Dean! All the Clothespin dolls and Cotton Reel dolls are handmade and painted, with wooden parts such as pegs and cotton reels. And for those of you who would like to have a go at making your own Clothespin doll, then please take a look in the Troodlecraft shop where I am selling Clothespin doll kits . All the dolls are sent to their new homes with a handwritten name tag and a description of their character.

 

Creative Feature: Bekah Shambrook

A Creative post today that keeps it in the family!

Pieces of a  Dream Model Jess Brown photographer Kimberely Collins Photographer Retouching Bekah Shambrook

Pieces of a Dream – Model: Jess Brown, Photographer: Kimberley Collins Photograpy, MUA: Bekah Shambrook

Bekah is one of the most creative people I know, excelling in art at school and branching out into many creative ventures. She has three businesses beneath the Masterpiece Artistry umbrella. Masterpiece Face Painting was born first and she regularly face paints at children’s parties and events. Masterpiece MUA came next and she’s worked with some brilliant photographers and models, and her latest venture is Masterpiece Design, designing logos, brands and websites. She’s a chip off the old block and is my daughter!

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Bekah Shambrook – Make-up Artist, Face Painter and Designer

Bekah Shambrook – Make-up Artist, Face Painter and Designer

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by everything around me but I think mostly by other make-up artists. It’s wonderful to see what other artists can create and I love to try to emulate techniques to create a piece of my own.

Model Abi Rose Photographer Kitty KEMS Photography Hair Owen Hair Follicle-Genius Roberts

Model: Abi Rose, Photographer: Kitty KEMS Photography, Hair: Owen Hair Follicle-Genius Roberts, MUA: Bekah Shambrook

You’re a very creative person, is your art planned or spontaneous?

The majority of my art is planned, being a makeup artist tends to be a collaborative process since you need a model and a photographer to create the finished product so I need to plan ahead. I love sitting down with my make-up kit and a mirror to create entirely spontaneous looks too though!

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Work In Progress…face charts and application

Looking at your make up artistry – do you have a favourite brand of make-up, or colours, or techniques?

I’m not one for spending lots on my make-up, I’m a believer of the skill being what creates the look and not the tools. I use a lot of Make Up Academy (MUA by Superdrug) and Sleek Makeup.
As for techniques, I just like to try everything. I have used eyelash glue to stick feathers to a model’s face and I’ve used white face paint to colour a model’s eyelashes white! If it works (and is safe) I’ll give it a go.

All That Glitters Model Vikky David Photographer Joe Prileszky Retoucher Charis Talbot

All That Glitters – Model: Vikky David, Photographer: Joe Prileszky Fashion Photography, Retoucher: Charis Talbot, MUA: Bekah Shambrook

You’ve turned people into zombies and warriors, produced delicate bridal make-up and created an eclectic variety of make-up work. What do you consider your best work to date – do you have a favourite piece?

I always love the more creative work, I feel as though my skill as a make-up artist is being challenged which is what I strive for. Your can never better yourself if you don’t try things you’ve never done before. To that end, my favourite piece is ‘ All that glitters…’ although it was one of my first pieces I love it and it would have been nothing if it wasn’t for the wonderful photography by Joe Prileszky.

Model Kirsty Walters Photographer Ginger Snap Dragon Photography Leather Gauntlets Lydia Wall Millinery

Model: Kirsty Walters, Photographer: Ginger Snap Dragon Photography, Leather Gauntlets: Lydia Wall Millinery, MUA: Bekah Shambrook

What are your future plans with Masterpiece MUA?

I’m not entirely sure, I wouldn’t really want to do it full time because I’m worried that it wouldn’t be so much fun for me.
I plan to work with Mel Davies Photography on her Nimra project which is super exciting!

Golden Mane Model Lizzy T Photographer Mel Davies

Golden Mane – Model: Lizzy T, Photographer: Mel Davies Photography, MUA: Bekah Shambrook

Lastly, if you could commission anything for yourself, money no object, what would it be?

Hmm… This is a tough one, most of the time if I want something and and can’t afford it I’ll make it myself! (or at least try to…)
I think it would have to be a costume… One of Daenerys’ stunning costumes from Game of Thrones… Or perhaps one of Galadriel’s gowns from The Lord of the Rings.

Merched y Mabinogi Model Kseniya Photographer Kimberley Collins Photography

Merched y Mabinogi – Model: Kseniya, Photographer: Kimberley Collins Photography, MUA: Bekah Shambrook

You can find Bekah’s portfolio on her MUA website, find all her websites on Masterpiece Artistry, like her Facebook pages: MUA, Face Painting, Design and follow her @bekahcat on Twitter.

Bizarre Magazine Model Abi Rose Photographer Ginger Snap Dragon Photography

Bizarre Magazine – Model: Abi Rose, Photographer: Ginger Snap Dragon Photography, MUA: Bekah Shambrook

Bekah’s Make-up Bio

As a freelance make-up artist I love to use my creative flair to dream up new concepts, looks, and ideas.
I don’t just make models ‘pretty’ I make them different, I love to take them from their comfort zones and drop them into a new realm. I will bring dreams to life.
I use make up as an art form.
I love working with models and photographer who also have ideas of their own, and I love to help bring their ideas to life to create a phenomenal shoot.

Models Kas Mason and Megan Toomer

Models: Kas Mason and Megan Toomer, MUA and Prosthetics: Bekah Shambrook

Creative Feature: Abi Burlingham

This week I’m bringing you another artistic writer, what a choice, words and pictures!

Abi is the author of several children’s books and when she’s not filling notebooks with words, she’s painting and creating works of art instead. I relate so easily to Abi, as much of my time is spent the same way! 

Abi Burlingham – Author and Artist

What inspires you?

Nature and poignancy for themes, colour and shape for appearance. I love the natural curves of nature and the diversity of colour. I really love being outside amongst trees, meadows, moors and I love creatures of all shapes and sizes. I find nature very inspiring and want to create something that the viewer feels a connection with, which is why an animal or person often feature in my paintings. Artists that have inspired me are Paul Cezanne, Gustav Klimt and Gaugin – I love their use of colour and shape and themes.

Live Abi Burlingham

Live – Abi Burlingham

Is your art planned or spontaneous?

I usually get an image in my head – it pops up without any conscious thought. Sometimes I store it in there and when I have two or three I draw them on tiny sheets of paper – about 3 x 4 inches – just in biro. They take seconds to do and are the only planning I do. Drawing the picture on canvas usually takes around 10 – 15 mins – I am a fast drawer! The painting and re-painting, as I make changes along the way, take a lot longer and I feel it as I go along, so yes, I would say my art is far more spontaneous than planned.

Matlock Abi Burlingham

Matlock (pen and ink) – Abi Burlingham

I can see you like bold colours and I’ve seen you use pencils and acrylics, but do you have a favourite medium, colours or techniques?

As a child and teenager, I loved using pencils. I still have my box of Caran D’Ache pencils. I now also use Derwent Inktense pencils which are really distinct colours and you can add water to them which increases the intensity. I love doing sketches in situ with these and a black pen. For larger pieces that are completely from my imagination, I love acrylics. They are so bold and bright and you can build them up and get a range of textures. I think they suit the bold, abstract nature of my paintings more than any other medium.

Ivy Leaves - Abi Burlingham

Ivy Leaves – Abi Burlingham

What do you consider your best work to date – do you have a favourite piece?

Ooh that’s a hard one. I think my personal favourite is the big ivy canvas I painted five years ago and have hanging in my hallway. It was a labour of love and took every day for six weeks to complete. I also love ‘The Walk’. I barely thought about the painting as I was doing it – it seemed to create itself and I was so pleased with the end result.

Grub's Pups Abi Burlingham

Grubs Pups – Abi Burlingham

You have several published children’s books, have you ever thought about illustrating them yourself? What are your future plans with your art?

I have! I really would love to one day. I have illustrated a book which I couldn’t find a publisher for and still have all the paintings for this. Maybe I’ll give it another shot one day. I need a fantastic concept that also fits in with my style and the themes of nature and animals. I am currently arranging for a limited amount of prints of my acrylic canvases and plan to sell these and the originals – I already have a buyer for ‘The Walk’ which is wonderful.

Leaf Fall - Abi Burlingham

Leaf Fall – Abi Burlingham

Lastly, if you could commission anything for yourself, money no object, what would it be? 

It would be a painting. I love sculpture too, but I am drawn to huge canvases more than anything. A really huge abstract canvas of trees and birds would be wonderful.

Tree from Website - Abi Burlingham

Tree from Abi’s website (you can all four seasons of trees on her website!)

Cloud Gazing - Abi Burlingham

Cloud Gazing – Abi Burlingham

Thanks Abi!
Check out Abi’s website abiburlingham.com and keep up to date with her projects and the future availability of prints. Take a look at her books which are available on Amazon. She also blogs on her website and you can like her page on Facebook and follow her on Twitter, she’ll be happy to see you there!

Abi’s Bio

Buttercup Magic Abi Burlingham

A Mystery for Megan – Abi Burlingham

Abi Burlingham lives in Derbyshire and teaches English to adults. She has had six children’s books published, including the Ruby and Grub series and Buttercup Magic: A Mystery for Megan. She likes to walk through fields with her rescue greyhound, paint, write and eat cheesecake. She would quite like to do all of these at once and is still trying to work out how.

Creative Feature: Alyson Fennell Photography

Photography is a passion of mine, especially nature and flowers, so this week’s Creative Feature brings you nature in close-up form!

Dandelion Diamonds - Alyson Fennell Photography

Dandelion Diamonds – Alyson Fennell

Alyson Fennell is an amazing photographer and her close-up pictures of flowers have totally captivated me over the last year or two. My own flower pictures are mobile phone snapped, fun and generally instagrammed, but Alyson’s are magical! Take a look at her Royal Crescent photograph and you’ll see where the magic resides, and you’ll understand why the Royal Crescent Hotel snapped up the pictures for their Christmas cards. Be entranced by Alyson Fennell.

Alyson Fennell

Alyson Fennell – Photographer

Alyson Fennell – Photographer

What inspires you?

I’m inspired primarily by Mother Nature, the greatest artist of all! What amazes me is that I can find beauty anywhere from the wild slopes of Dartmoor, to a humble window box in a city centre. Flowers and leaves always beckon, no matter the environment or season.

You frequent some beautiful gardens, do you plan your photography or is it spontaneous?

I find that if I plan too rigidly, and if I try too hard, the magic sometimes disappears. Indeed, some of my best shots have been spontaneous ones. The key is to be sensitive to those moments, when I feel the flowers are calling out to me,

Do you have favourite colours, flowers or techniques? Do you prefer close-up flowers or landscapes?

I gravitate towards flowers, without question. They are such ethereal beings. That said, in my search for some of the more elusive ones, a stunning landscape will appear and I can’t help but swing into action with my camera!

The exquisite ‘The Royal Crescent’ and ‘Dandelion Diamonds’ are two of my favourite works of yours. What do you consider your best work to date – do you have a favourite piece?

My favourite pieces tend to change quite often, but the red tulip series is always in my top 10. I am also very pleased with the clematis image on the homepage of my website, among others.

I love the diversity in your pictures from triptychs to landscapes to mirror images and even the occasional famous face. What are your future plans with your photography?

I hope my work will touch people around the World, whether it be in galleries, in advertisements, in hotels or at art fairs. One of my goals is to be able to travel far and wide with my photography – especially to the Valley Of Flowers in the Himalayas.

Lastly, if you could commission anything for yourself, money no object, what would it be?

You did say money would be no object!! I’d commission an architect to design a beautiful home for me in the South West. I lived in Totnes for some time, and it is such an inspiring part of our lovely island.

A lovely insight to your inspiration and process, thank you Alyson! You can find Alyson and her exquisite photography at her website www.alysonfennellphotography.com. You can like her page on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @AlyFennPhoto.

Alyson’s Bio:

Hi, my name is Alyson Fennell and I’m a Fine Art Photographer based in Bath. I began my career as a hair and make-up artist in London, working alongside some of the most celebrated international photographers. Having gained invaluable knowledge and experience in this environment, I have returned to my original passion for photography, combining a love of nature with fine art.

I have recently exhibited my work at the Royal Crescent Hotel in Bath.

To stock my greetings cards or prints, email alyson@alysonfennellphotography.com

* Please do not use or copy any of these photographs without permission from Alyson Fennell.

Creative Feature: Paul Ramey

My fourth Creative Feature involves two of my favourite pastimes: writing and art!

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Last year, Paul Ramey’s book ‘Edgar Wilde and the Lost Grimoire’ enthralled me. Wonderful imagery amidst an intriguing storyline drew me right into a mystery that Edgar Wilde, a teenage top-hat wearing misfit, stumbles into whilst taking amateur tours around his local cemetery. You’ll have to read the book to find out more…no really, you should! Let me introduce you to an author who does much more than write!

Paul Ramey

Paul Ramey – Writer, Graphic Artist and Musician

Paul Ramey – Writer, Graphic Artist and Musician

What inspires you, and what brought about your interest in graveyards?

I have always been thoroughly fascinated with lost or forgotten history. Capturing the mystery of times, places, and people that recorded history has lost track of is definitely what led me down the path toward writing my young-adult historical mystery, Edgar Wilde and the Lost Grimoire. Also, I tend toward “Goth/Victorian” aesthetics, and the stories and characters draw tremendously from that.

As far as graveyards – aren’t they just the most fascinating places? I remember when I was 15 and exploring the hills of Eastern Kentucky where my dad’s side of the family has a little nook up in the hills called Ramey Branch. And up near the top of one of those hills I stumbled onto a few small, forgotten graves. And one of them, I later discovered, turned out to be my great-great grandmother, and her name was America. America Ramey. Can you believe that? I’d never even heard of her before. And every family has markers of their past, their history, scattered like breadcrumbs as they’ve made their incredible journeys across continents and through time.

On another level, if you’re an artist then the beautiful iconography, calligraphy, materials, and styles are endlessly fascinating and addicting. Many of these places are truly national treasures – outside museums with their own stories and ambience. And even the saddest, neglected cemetery still holds so many stories and opportunities for discovery, and for restoration. One of my most important goals for the Edgar Wilde books has been to educate and inform young adults as to the importance and wonder of cemeteries, by trying to weave some mysteries through the stones.

You’ve used your graphic design skills to produce a great book cover for ‘Edgar Wilde’ and I’m familiar with your pen and ink drawings. How does your art fit and complement your writing?

My artist “inner eye” is vital to writing. I’ve mentioned it before, that the cover of Edgar Wilde was one of the first things that showed up, and I often kept a printed draft of it near where I was writing, helping me to imagine more clearly a book that didn’t yet exist. The auditory aspect of writing is certainly important – the cadence, the rhythm of the text – but a lot of my style is ultimately visual conceptualization and I think a lot in terms of colors, textures, and shadows and light. And to be honest, I always thought of my novel as a potential screenplay anyway, for an eventual Edgar Wilde motion picture! I mean, if J.K. Rowling can do it, right? So again, very visual.

Edgar Wilde Concept Art Paul Ramey

Concept art for Edgar Wilde: Chapter 2, Chapter 17, Corinthian, and Edgar and Shelby (left to right, top to bottom) – Paul Ramey

You have wide-ranging talents encompassing writing, music and art. Do you have a favourite creative ability, favourite colours and techniques?

Growing up, I dreamed of being a comic book writer and artist, and I still enjoy exploring the comic book styles of art. But my detailed pen-and-ink “stipple” work is the closest thing I have to an artistic craft. I’m very proud of it – these days many people who see it think it’s the result of some sort of computer program, but it’s really me, doing hours of dot-dot-dot with a pen! It’s a very zen, meditative process, and I love that place within me.

I have to also mention another source of creative pride, and that is my ability as a music composer and lyricist. I’ve been told I have a wonderful sense of wordplay and craft, and it’s exciting to be able to explore that kind of music-driven poetry and storytelling – more of a focus on essence, and intuitive partnering with the instruments, the harmonies, and tones. In 2009 I finished work on a goth/rock opera called Veil & Subdue – the Courtship of The Black Sultan, which was a three-year endeavor. The final, published Veil & Subdue is a 2-CD, 22-song album that I conceived of and recorded with my collaborator friend, Anna Loy (Anna K. Meade). The story is basically about Morpheus, the Dream King, and his ill-fated love of a mortal woman. It is based on classical mythology, but also draws inspiration from the “night terror” phenomenon that many people experience. It includes a complete libretto and is ready to be staged, if the right people come along to finally bring that dream to life. In the meantime it is available as a CD album only.

Your work is very varied, but what do you consider your best work to date – do you have a favourite piece?

I guess because I am all over the place I don’t really have a favourite. I think that many of my pen-and-ink “stipple” pieces are quite good – I look at some of them now and don’t even know how I pulled them off. My personal favourite, though, is an acrylic painting from 2004. I’m not the best painter, but I am still so thrilled with the finished product, and with the depth of symbolism going on in there. It’s called The Great Escape, and it features a character that showed up in a few paintings of mine many years back, called the Merry Prankster. He was sort of a mischievous harlequin-garbed clown character, and represented change – usually traumatic life change that you just have to laugh about because it’s just so ridiculously overwhelming. In this particular painting, he’s rising up out of a painting, so from 2-D to 3-D. He’s trying to escape his situation. But there’s a hand also rising up out of the painting, pulling him back in. It’s a female hand, and obviously represents a relationship memory or situation. He’s caught there, mid-flight, with the past literally trying to pull him back down onto the canvas. It was the last time I ever painted the Prankster, so I guess he’s still frozen there, forever caught.

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The Great Escape – Paul Ramey (acrylic)

I know there’s a second ‘Edgar Wilde’ book in the works, which I am incredibly excited for, what are your other future plans?

There are actually a second and third “Edgar Wilde” book currently in development, and that’s where my focus is. One of my most important personal achievements in the past decade has been learning how to focus on long-term projects, and to keep showing up for it. The Veil & Subdue project was my first major success with that. Edgar Wilde was the second. I believe Joni Mitchell coined the phrase “the rotating of the crops.” It means that you do some art, then eventually move to a writing phase, then some music (or whatever other passions you have), and then eventually you come back to the beginning. So it’s a cycle, and helps to nourish and inform each stage as you keep going around and around. That process really resonates with me, but I think mostly because I’m easily distracted, and “rotating crops” is a very comforting thought for a distracted person – an “easy out” for unfinished projects. No, these days I have to make sure I don’t drift too far, because I know I may never come back to finish what I started. So these days it’s all Edgar, all the time! And a little craft beer homebrewing. And a whole lot of raising my beautiful daughter, Sofia!

Lastly, if you could commission anything for yourself, money no object, what would it be? 

I’d like to send myself on a worldwide journey to explore and document fascinating cultures, architecture, achievement, history, and experiences (including culinary). Preferably by sailboat. Possibly an ongoing blog, with eventual books to follow (both fiction and non-). And at the end of it all, I’d like for those endeavors to sustain me so that I never have to worry about finances again.

I’d also like to commission myself to take on the inevitable film adaptation of Edgar Wilde. I have no idea how to do that, but I think I could give it a shot!

A fascinating look into your creative life, Paul, thank you for sharing your many talents with us! I like the ‘crop rotation’ theory…especially as I’m an arty writer, so I’m looking forward to a little rotation myself!

Please find out more about: Edgar Wilde and the Lost Grimoire: www.ninemusepress.com
Zen Salvador: www.zensalvador.com
Veil & Subdue – the Courtship of The Black Sultan: www.cdbaby.com/cd/paulramey
Graphic Design Portfolio: http://paulramey.carbonmade.com
Cemetery Photography Cards, Edgar Wilde Merchandise, etc.: www.zazzle.com/mementomorii

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Pen and ink stipple drawing – Paul Ramey

Paul’s Bio:

Paul Ramey is a writer, graphic artist, musician, and unrepentant cemetery buff. His most recent published works include his first novel, Edgar Wilde and the Lost Grimoire, a two-CD goth/rock musical album, Veil & Subdue – the Courtship of The Black Sultan, and Zen Salvador, a limited-edition book of zen-styled dog wisdom. Originally from Frankfort, Kentucky, Paul now lives in Jacksonville, Florida with his wife and child.

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Painting – Paul Ramey

Creative Feature: Flourish Buttons

I’ve always had a thing for buttons, so I’d like to introduce you to my third Creative Feature.

If you’re looking for something different and unique you can’t go wrong with Flourish Buttons and Becky Underwood’s gorgeous jewellery, I’ve got several of her pieces on my wish list! A mutual friend liked Becky’s page on Facebook a couple of years ago, and I couldn’t resist the buttons, the colours, and delicate designs. Becky operates an online store and also regularly attends craft fairs…take a look and see what catches your eye!

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Becky Underwood – Flourish Buttons

Flourish Buttons: Becky Underwood – Creative Jeweller

I love using buttons in my own craft, but what inspired you to begin making button  jewellery?

About 10 years ago, when my children were babies, I would make greetings cards once I’d settled them for the night. I used pressed flowers, embossed metal, acetate and you guessed it…buttons (not all at the same time!). I realised then that I loved buttons. Unlike most people, my mum or Nan never had a tin of buttons when I was growing up so I had had little interaction with them. I put my cards in shops and to my surprise they sold! At the time my husband was working for a recycling company and we were quite into reusing materials so I decided to make studs from old buttons, I called them ‘button ears’, these also sold well. One day I was in a wool shop in Fishguard and I discovered 50mm iridescent buttons and thought they would make fantastic brooches, these buttons are the back bone of my brooch designs. It was at the time when waterfall cardigans were very popular and they were great to close those, these also sold well. Then I was addicted, I loved buttons and I loved selling so I began to put together a range. I had to work out how I could hang buttons as the work differently from beads.

How have your designs developed as your business has grown?

Well, initially I had to look at glues and findings, what would work and unfortunately we had a few disasters to start with, brooches that didn’t stay stuck, buttons not hanging well, wire breaking. So I had to really experiment and test, find reliable suppliers of good quality products. This continues to be an ongoing mission. My range is pretty big now, I have taken on trends and customers suggestions and tried to deliver on these. I have realised that simple designs work best.

Do you have favourite buttons, or materials, or colours to work with?

I love to use coconut and shell, they are lightweight and you can get some beautiful coconut buttons that have been lacquered with designs and prints, the shell buttons can be lazered with designs and dip dyed to create a 2 tone effect.

I love bright colours, turquoise, fuchsia, burnt orange but I also like using vintage style buttons and I love to mix the two. I am the same as most girls and like floral, heart and animal designs.

What is your best seller, and do you have a favourite piece yourself?

I have a few bestsellers, dangly earrings always sell well, I think that is common for most jewellers. The best selling layered brooch is:

and from the single brooches:

and the pendants:

What I find interesting is how differently things sell in different shops and so it can be hard making recommendations.

I like the Tiffany brooch and have that on my jacket, I also own a Swallow necklace, Coco Rose brooch, Pink Bird necklace. I would own many, many pairs of earrings but my ears will only allow gold and I am not keen on gold jewellery. My favourite item at the moment is:

What are your future plans with your work?

Expand!!!  I have a part time employee, mainly covering my maternity. I am applying for a second Jobs Growth Wales employee, this a scheme that is entirely funded, for a placement of 25 hours per week, fingers crossed that will come through. I have attended several trade shows and I hope to do a lot more of these when my 5 month old baby is older. To keep enjoying what I do but still keep the balance of work and family (hopefully I do that now!)

Lastly, if you could commission anything for yourself, money no object, what would it be?

Ooooh…I love stained glass and I love fabric but have not had the time to explore them. I think it would either be a very elaborate ball gown with a fantastic petticoat or a small three walled house made of  stained glass, chunky slabs of glass in a variety of bright colours, especially cobalt blue!

You can view and purchase on our website at www.flourishbuttons.com or follow the links to Like Flourish Buttons on Facebook and Follow on Twitter.

Flourish Buttons

Established in 2008, Flourish designs and hand makes unique and contemporary jewellery using stunning buttons and the finest silver plated findings. Flourish is a small company based in a beautiful part of West Wales in a little town called Aberystwyth.

A high proportion of our buttons are sourced and even made in the UK, keeping our carbon footprint low and supporting our very important UK based button manufacturers We try to keep our conscience so we recycle as many waste products as possible and use jewellery boxes made from recycled card and on occasion a second hand button may be found in a Flourish bracelet as I like to re use beautiful vintage buttons.

Our style ranges from soft feminine qualities and influences from the past to bright colours with big statements. Many of our buttons are made from lightweight materials such as coconut or shell, making our jewellery effortless to wear.

Creative Feature: Amanda Makepeace – Artist

Two weeks ago I whetted your creative appetite with my first Creative Feature – here’s my next amazing artist.

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Fly Fast – Amanda Makepeace

I first discovered Amanda Makepeace when digital art was something new to me, and my own attempts at digital art meant playing with pixels on Photoshop Elements! Amanda blew me away with her visions of space and science fiction landscapes. It’s been a pleasure to watch her work grow and she never fails to impress me. I have purchased Amanda’s work and been given permission to use her ‘Dragon’s Egg’ picture with my flash fiction story ‘Delicate Strength’. She’s an amazing Photographer with a regular monthly spot on The Shutterworks and she also blogs regularly at Téssera.

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Amanda Makepeace – Artist

Amanda Makepeace – Digital and Traditional Artist

What inspires you?

If I’m honest, what doesn’t inspire me may be the better question. As a child I spent most of my time playing outside, wandering in the woods, creating imaginary worlds to play in with my friends and sometimes alone with my toys. My favorite movies from age 6 to 12 were The Black Stallion, The Neverending Story, Labyrinth, Star Wars and Alien. Nature, Magic, Fantasy and Science Fiction (with a dash of horror) can all be seen in my art from the last decade. Sometimes, things from every day life cast in a certain light will inspire me, sparking an idea that grows and spreads like frost on a window. My imagination does the job of inserting the magic.

Is your art planned or spontaneous? Can digital art be as spontaneous as other mediums, or does it require more planning?

I tend to believe nearly all art is planned. Ideas are spontaneous, but choosing colors, placement of figures, objects – a lot of thought goes into that aspect of art creation. This is especially true with narrative art, where one is trying to also tell a story. Even a still life is planned, whether it’s digital or traditional.

I put a lot of thought into my paintings. I will work on a sketch for a week, making sure I have a scene balanced before I begin painting. My ideas also tend to evolve. There can be many changes from that first spontaneous idea, to the sketches, and finally the painting stage.

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On Distant Moons – one the first pieces that brought Amanda to my attention.

I know you work with many different mediums. Do you have a favourite medium, or favourite colours, or favourite techniques?

Once upon a time, I would have said watercolors were my favorite. In 2011 I began having some problem with my hands. I suffer from an autoimmune illness, an arthritis that attacks my joints began interfering with my ability to paint in traditional mediums. I’m not sure now what made me try digital painting. It might have been curiosity, but whatever it was, it turned out to be a blessing. Painting with a Wacom tablet is painless and it supercharged my creativity. Even if I could, I don’t think I’d give it up!

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Fly Fast – Detail…those eyes…

What do you consider your best work to date – do you have a favourite piece?

This is a difficult question! I tend to fall in love with everything I paint, but there’s one that continues to standout. Fly Fast was painted last year and it still makes my heart smile. The full title is: Fly fast my friend. Go now. Do not wait for me.

It’s the story of a young woman sending her messenger owl off, with scores of other owls, as their village is attacked by a dragon. In the owl’s eyes you can see a reflection of the dragon. I think this painting will be a favorite for many years to come.

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The Elder – Jackalope

I’ve loved your latest embellishments on your digital prints, what are your future plans with your art?

Keep learning. I am truly still in my infancy when it comes to digital painting and illustration. One of my goals for the latter half of this year is to focus on improving my human anatomy skills!

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Dragon’s Egg

Lastly, if you could commission anything for yourself, money no object, what would it be? 

I would love to see some of my paintings become sculptures. A bronze sculpture of the ravens from my painting Stone of Knowing, and the magic stone, for my backyard would be amazing!

You can find and purchase Amanda’s art on her website amandamakepeace.com and in her Etsy Shop. Take a look at her Facebook page to keep up to date.

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Three pendants which delighted myself and my daughter at Christmas!

Amanda’s Bio:

I’ve always had an active imagination and a love of nature and the fantastic. My creative journey began in childhood, thinking up imaginary worlds in the suburbs of Maryland. Since those formative years I’ve lived in the southern burbs, moved abroad to London, England (later the Dorset coast), and now call rural Georgia home.

I’m continually inspired by nature, myth and fantasy–emphasis on nature. I love the outdoors and I have a strange (and to some infuriating) bond with animals. I’m also book lover and comic reader. I may also be mildly obsessed with all things Marvel. When I’m not creating you might find me wandering the woods or fields, taking photographs of very tiny wildflowers.

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Stone of Knowing – Amanda Makepeace

Creative Feature: Angie Richmond – Artist

I am a creative.

First and foremost, I write. I consider my writing art and have always enjoyed indulging in many other arts and crafts.

My daughter and I are soon to announce a creative venture of our own, but leading up to that I wanted to share some of my favourite Artists and Creatives. Many of them have their wares available to purchase and it’s a pleasure to be able to promote their work.

IMG_3306 copyMy first feature is Angie Richmond, a Vancouver based artist who creates one-of-a-kind mixed media collage, abstract watercolour and skyline doodle art. I have known and admired her for several years. Last Christmas I commissioned an individual piece from Angie and was incredibly happy with the beautiful result!
And look out for Angie’s special offer to readers…

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Angie Richmond – Artist

Angie Richmond – Artist

What inspires you? 

I really struggled with this question, which surprised me. When it comes to my art I find myself working at an intuitive level that doesn’t require a lot of thought. Which means that although I’m continually being inspired by things around me, I’m not always conscious of it.

But I can tell you that when I first started this journey there was one artist who did inspire me, Kelly Rae Roberts. Her work lead me to explore the world of mixed media collage. When I read her book Taking Flight I realized that everything I had been doing up until then wasn’t just fooling around. It was creating art. It inspired me to own the title Artist and take what I had been doing seriously. So I guess I owe her a lot. Maybe one day I’ll meet her and thank her in person.

Is your art planned or spontaneous? 

Most of the time it’s a combination of both. I usually start with an idea but rarely do I stick to it exactly. I find that my best work is often the pieces that were completely unplanned. Even when I’m working with commissioned pieces there is still an element of spontaneity that I love.

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My commission ‘Words of the Heart’

How do you like to work – do you have a favourite medium, or colours, or techniques? 

As a mixed media collage artist, paper and acrylic paint are mediums that I find myself continually incorporating into my art. I like paper with lots of words, like old dictionary pages or even sheet music. The older the better. Speaking of old, I also love using vintage dress patterns and postage stamps.

I tend to use a lot of turquoise. Blue is my favourite colour so even though I might make a conscious decision to try other colours, somehow blue always creeps in. Which I’m totally okay with.

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What do you consider your best work to date – do you have a favourite piece? 

Ha! This question made me laugh because upon reflecting I realized that I’ve said ‘This is my favourite piece’ like a hundred times! So I guess I can’t pick one. Each of them are special.

I’ve watched your art diversify over the years – what are your future plans? 

Good question. To be honest I’m not entirely sure. I’ve been doing some serious contemplation on venturing into the world of fiber art. I have a sewing machine set up now and I’m learning how to embroider. I’d also love to try pottery some day.

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Lastly, if you could commission anything for yourself, money no object, what would it be?

Hmmm, let me see. I suppose I’d commission a piece of jewellery. Either a ring or a necklace. Something vintage looking with loads of meaning.

***   Angie is also being especially generous and is giving a fantastic special offer to all you lovely readers! Just use the code LISAFANS in Angie’s Etsy Shop for 50% off!   ***

You can find Angie at angierichmond.com and at her Etsy shop. Follow her at @write_me_happy. Take a look and get inspired!

Thanks Angie, a lovely insight into your art!

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