Organising photos for the creative mum

organising photos for the creative mum

Hi, hope you had a lovely summer. Mine just flew by.

I spent a few early mornings last week editing and organising photos I took over the summer and was so glad I had a system in place. I could just launch in and get it done, then go out and enjoy my day (and take more pictures!).

As a creative mum and blogger I take tons of photos every day; of my family, creative projects in various stages of completion, and things that inspire me. Then I download them to the PC and panic! Taking hundreds of pictures is fun. Going through them- not so much! They quickly get out of hand.

A couple of years ago, I decided to get organised. The system I used back then wasn’t very good and always left me in a muddle. Taking the the time to work out how to best organise my photos really paid off.

If you’re in the same boat, here are some things that have worked for me.

Start where you are

It’s tempting to go back and start at the beginning, but the problem is you soon feel like you’re never going to catch up. It’s better to start where you are and enjoy the sense of accomplishment, then add in older ones as you go. Once you get used to it, adding a few extra photos each time will not take that much longer.

Sort and cull

1. Delete bad photos before they even leave your camera. You won’t believe what a difference it makes.

2. After downloading the images, add them to the right folder straight away. It’s much easier to sort them if they’re already divided into manageable chunks. If your program allows, transfer straight into the right album.

3. Cull, walk away, then cull again. Have you ever held onto 20 photos that are pretty much the same because you were too emotionally involved in the subject? Yeah, me too. Get rid of the bad ones, then give yourself a little bit of time and distance before tackling the rest.

Create folders and subfolders

I only keep 5-6 regular folders on the PC.  They are the ones I use all the time. The rest are stored on an external hard drive. I’m sure your albums will be different to mine, but these are the ones I keep:

Personal photos: Family photos and every day life as it happens. The main folder is named after the year, with 12 subfolders named after the year and month (for example, “14-09 September”). This keeps them in order should they ever get mixed up with other years.

Creative projects: I have tried quite a few crafts over the years and still do many of them. Each type has its own subfolder. Some are fuller than others.

organising photo subfolders

Home Sweet Home: I decided to separate pictures of our home from both the personal photos and creative projects. That works best for me. I take a lot of pictures of the changes we make to it. The subfolders are mostly named by room, with a few others thrown in for good measure.

Blog: These are photos that have been optimised for the web. They’re right size for Artfully Carin, have watermarks and other graphics (if needed). They’re organised by blog category.

Name photos

Personal, creative projects, and home sweet home photos: Over the years I have tried all kinds of fun things, but I have realised simplicity is best, so I name all pictures using the year-month-date system, which keeps them in chronological order. If we have done something special, I add the name of the event to the date so it stands out.

Since I cull personal photos several times, I don’t usually name them until early the next month.

organising photos 2

Blog: I try to name photos after the blog post I am writing or plan to write. It doesn’t always work, but it helps.

Tag photos

Tagging helps you find the pictures you need later on. If you’ve done it well, you can search hundreds of images and only find the ones that you want. When tagging ask yourself “If I need this photo in 6 months, what would I search for?”

organising photo tags

Back up

It’s a pain, but it’s important. I try to always have two or more back up systems. Right now I use an external hard drive and my photo printing service. I upload all my pictures to the service, even the ones I don’t plan to print. I keep one folder per year, plus one each for the creative and home projects, and just dump the new photos on top of the old ones. Since they’re all dated, they stay in order.

You can also use cloud storage that runs in the background of your computer while you work. I’m going to invest in that next.

Have a printing schedule

When I back up to the printing service, I get the option to order the ones I’ve just uploaded. I upload and print once a month. I want to enjoy the pictures while I can. Doing it once a month keeps it manageable and cheap. Another bonus is that the photos usually come in an envelope that can be dated until you have time to deal with them.

Final thoughts:

You may have noticed above that I prefer organising photos chronologically. There are a few reasons for that.

  • First off, it makes them a lot easier to organise. You don’t have to worry about overlap (pictures fitting into more than one folder).
  • Secondly, it saves time. You know what you have to do, and can launch into it straight away.
  • Thirdly, you can see progress at a glance.  It lets you see how your style is changing (even when you think it isn’t), as well as how you’re getting on with a particular project.

The only folder I treat differently is the blog one since it requires a lot of extra attention.

Tagging photos using words and sentences that mean something to you may seem a bit tedious, but is actually time well spent. I search my tags all the time, especially when I work on my sketching childhood drawings.

Lastly, organising photos doesn’t require a fancy editing program, the examples here were all done using the program that came with my computer, but it does take a little time to get used to.

What do you do? I’d love to hear your photo organising tips in the comments.

Using value scales to improve your drawing skills

using value scales to improve your drawing skills

When I started working on my realistic drawing skills earlier this year, all my drawings were a little “off”. After reading The Big Book of Realistic Drawing Secrets, I started using value scales to help me see the value changes in my reference photos a bit better, and it helped a lot. It seems a lot of my early problems were down to not seeing values correctly. So today I share how you can easily make them yourself, and how to use them.

What is value?

Value is basically how light or dark something is.

Simple, right?

Well, no.

When you first start doing realistic drawings, it can be quite hard to work out how much lighter or darker something is compared to other things in the picture. But the better you recreate all the values in a drawing, the more believable it is. So you need to train your eyes to see them.

That takes time.

Thankfully value scales can help you out in the meantime.

What are value scales?

Value scales are charts that help you see what pencils to use where to get the most realistic effect in your drawing. They range from the lightest value you can create with the pencils you use to the darkest.

How to make them:

You’ll need:

A scrap piece of paper (preferably the same kind you usually draw on)
A ruler
A pen
A few pencils ranging from hard to soft.

What to do:

1. Using the ruler and your pen, draw 9 boxes along the edge of your paper

using value scales to improve your drawing skills
2. Work out your lightest and darkest values. To do this, leave the first box empty- the white of the page is your lightest value. Then fill in the last box with your darkest (softest) pencil. In my case, working with a tin of Derwent Academy sketching  pencils, that’s a 6B.

using value scales to improve your drawing skills
3. Using a light touch, fill in the mid-tone in square number 5. Don’t worry about getting it exactly right. You can adjust and darken later.

using value scales to improve your drawing skills
4. Now fill in the other 3 boxes on either side, making sure the scale gets progressively darker.
5. Adjust the scale until you have a good range that flows fairly seamlessly into each other.

using value scales to improve your drawing skills

How do you use them?

A value scale helps you match the values of your drawing to the values of your subject.

Live subjects: Hold the scale in front of your subject (you may want to squint your eyes a little), and see what part of the scale matches your subject, then draw using that value.

Photos: Pass the value scale over the photo until you find a match (again- you may need to squint your eyes a little), then draw that value.

The more you practise, the easier it will become to figure out the values on your own.

What do you find the hardest?

If you want to see how I’m getting on with practising my realistic drawing, come join me on Instagram.

using value scales to improve your drawing skills

Reflections on Britmums Live 2014

Reflections on Britmums Live 2014

On Friday 20th June, I travelled down to London to spend the next day and a half with 700 other bloggers going to the blog conference Britmums Live 2014.

I had an amazing time!

I’m lucky enough to live fairly close to London, so I didn’t have to drag myself out of bed at the crack of dawn to make it down there for the 12 o’clock pre-meet like so many others, but could have a pretty relaxing morning with my family before heading down on the train. It made all the difference. By the time I got to the coffee shop for the newbie pre-meet, I was no longer nervous, just very excited to meet everyone.

Having said that, arriving at the venue was a little overwhelming. After spending most of my days with one three year old, seeing 700 excited bloggers in one space was a bit of a shock to the system. Somehow, in that mass of people, I spotted Em from Snowing Indoors, who was the first Britmums blog I visited after joining last year and has been a favourite ever since. It made everything better. It reassured me that I would recognise a lot of the people I have talked to online from their blogs or twitter avatars. I was okay after that (Em, on the other hand, may not have recovered quite so quickly from me attacking her with a hug!).

The sessions

I have to admit that I had been wondering if the sessions would be worth my while. I’ve been blogging for about 5 years now and have been pretty good at finding information as and when I need it. Thankfully pretty much every session I went to taught me a little something new, or made me look at something in a different way.

These were my favourite sessions (in no particular order):

* Design tips to make your blog look gorgeous with Lucy from Capture by Lucy.

Lucy is one of my favourite bloggers, and has been so kind to me since I first started talking to her online, so I knew I’d go to her session no matter what else was on the agenda. I wasn’t the only one- her session was packed (standing room only). And it was a good one. It mostly confirmed that I’m on the right track, but I also figured out a couple of small tweaks I’d like to make to my blog design over the summer.

Being squished in a corner, I couldn’t really take notes, or photograph the slides, but I know she will put the notes on her blog in the next week or two, so go there for more.

Lucy later won the Bibs (Brilliance in Blogging awards) for best photography, and I could not be more pleased. I’m so glad I got to meet her, hug her, and learn from her in person.

* Google +: Learning to love it with James Dearsley.

I only got into Google + properly a few months ago, and have loved it ever since. I have devoured everything I can on it, and James brought a few new features to my attention that I can’t wait to try out. He had a really popular session too.

* Podcasting: the hows, wheres and whys with the Love All Dads podcast.

I was really interested in going to this one as it’s something I’m considering for the future (you heard it here first!), and it didn’t disappoint. The guys actually podcasted their session with us (which means we’ll be able to listen to it when it’s released), showing us how they put a podcast together and opened the floor to questions. It was very interesting and a good laugh too.

They won award in the Bibs too (innovate). Well done lads!

*Pinterest: how to be a power pinner with Lizzie Gold from Pinterest

The three main things I got out of the Pinterest session with Lizzie was that…

1) 75% of pinning is done from mobiles so make sure that blogs are mobile responsive, and have images that come across well on mobiles. Check images on your own phone, and on someone else’s.

2) Don’t limit how many pins you put on a board. If someone only follows certain boards (which is very common), they won’t know that you’ve started a new board on the same subject.

3) The real eye-opener for everyone in the room. Ready for it? Hashtags don’t work on Pinterest! It uses organic text, so you’re much better off using colourful, descriptive words instead so your pin turns up in lots of different searches.

*How to Instagram Better: Take gorgeous snaps, build followers, be part of the community with Marte Marie Forsberg

Marie has the most amazingly beautiful Instagram feed, and has been incredibly smart in using it to her advantage. She showed us how she creates the beautiful images we see in her feed, how she gains followers naturally, and  her long-term and short-term strategies for getting recognised by brands.

One of the things that struck me the most about her session was how well she knew herself. Everything she taught us pointed back to that one thing: know yourself inside and out. It was the theme of the conference really, but she personified it.  It made it much easier for me to approach her for a chat later, even though our styles are often polar opposites. I just had to talk to her since she’s another Scandinavian expat in the UK.

***

The keynotes

I also loved the keynote speech from Benjamin Dutton-Brooks from Life As a Widower, which was incredibly inspiring, and probably had half the audience text home to say “We need to sort out life insurance pronto!”.

***

The people

The very best part of it for me though was meeting so many wonderful bloggers. I have heard of a few people who had nasty comments from other bloggers, but I never heard or saw any of that. I saw a venue full of wonderful bloggers who were incredibly friendly and supportive, who chatted with everyone, whether they were big shots or newbies. And I made some wonderful new friends who I hope to get to know better as time goes on. I didn’t take many pictures, but these are just a few of the people who now have a special place in my heart…

BML 2014

Amanda, Emma, and Katrina (with Lucy in the background)

Britmums Live 2014

Me and Amy.

Post BML dinner

Out to dinner after the BiBs, with the wonderful Kanchan.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and will be back!

***

Linking up with Snowing Indoors point + shoot and the Britmums linky.

How monthly highlights can help you see your life in a new light

how monthly highlights can help you see your life in a new light

I have been making monthly highlights pages for nearly a year and a half now and absolutely love them. I really enjoy taking some time out each month to reflect on the goodness of the month just gone.

They started as an extension to the gratitude journal I began in 2012. I LOVED that journal, but it was kind of bulky and didn’t show my life in full, so the following year I decided to incorporate my gratitude lists in my everything journal instead. That was such a smart move! It’s fantastic seeing the lists of what I’m grateful for in among all the other stuff going on in my life. It gives them context and makes them feel even more meaningful.

Seeing how much I loved having my gratitude lists in my everyday journal, I decided to take it a step further and make monthly highlight pages in my art journal too. They have had pretty much the same effect. It’s great seeing these pages dotted in among my regular art journal pages. Having them all together makes it a much richer experience.

Since I started showing my highlight pages on the blog last May, I’ve had a lot of questions about them. So I thought I’d take a few moments today to explain how these pages have helped me, and how they can help you too.

The benefits of creating monthly highlight pages

* It’s a regular creative habit.

Life’s busy. Creative pursuits often get tucked into life’s darkest nooks and crannies. I get it, I have been there, but doing something like this once a month keeps up a regular creative habit. You don’t need to be artistic or have special materials. You can easily make these pages using things you already own. A  few months ago I made a simple page using basic shapes, ruled paper and  highlighters to prove that very point- and it still did everything it was supposed to do. It kept the good memories I wanted to keep.

* It makes you more aware of the good things in your life.

Days, month, and years whiz by. Monthly highlight pages give you the chance to stop, look back, and reflect on the goodness in your life on a regular basis. When you notice how good your life actually is, you are a lot less likely to complain about it, and as a result you become much more content with what you have.

*They remind you how good a month was at a glance.

I’ve made these pages for nearly a year and a half now, and love going back to check out old pages. Old pages are great reminders when you are having a tough day or month. Life goes on, there’s hope.

* They stop you dwelling on the hard times.

It’s easy to be grateful when life is all smooth sailing. But monthly highlight pages really come into their own when times are hard or stressful. We all have months like that, and our instinct is to not make pages those months and just forget about them, but they’re usually when we need them the most. They give you a chance to switch your thinking.

To begin with you may only be able to remember the hard stuff, but don’t give up. Stay with it. Keep adding layers to the page. After a while the good stuff will rise to the surface. Because no matter how gloomy a month may seem when you first look back on it, there’s always a lot of goodness waiting to rise to the top. When you stick with it, you don’t leave a month on a bad note, instead you see and appreciate the goodness.

A final note:

I don’t usually look at my planner until after I’ve come up with a few ideas. The pages tends to be much more natural if I write things down as they come to me, using the words that come to me, rather than the way they are written in my planner. After a few months, the simple act of sitting down to make the page will make this process a lot easier.

I hope this helps and that you would consider making them yourself. They are a great tool.

Monthly highlights May 14

P.S. Thank you so much for taking part in my reader survey! It’s made interesting reading and I can’t wait to build on it. If you haven’t already taken the survey, please head on over and answer a few quick questions on how to improve your experience here at Artfully Carin.

The first step to a more creative life

the first step to a more creative life

One of the questions I get asked the most is how I fit art and blogging and all of the other creative things I do into my daily life. At some point that usually leads on to a discussion on living a life we love and feel we were meant for. So many people want to be more creative, but don’t think that they are creative at all (well, I have something to say about that!), or think that creative pursuits have to be crammed into the darkest nooks and crannies of life. I know all about that because I’ve been there.

People assume I have always lived a creative life. The truth is I turned my back on it for years. When I started working full time, got married and set up home, I gave up on a lot of things I had enjoyed up until then. In my mind, being a responsible adult meant not doing those things. Alan, bless him, tried to coax me back into it by buying me my first ever easel. I still didn’t bite.

Then I became bedridden and housebound for several years.

When I started recovering from being bedridden, I promised myself that from there on in I’d always be me, no matter what. Even so, it took another 9 years until I realised I needed to be creative every day.

By the the power of blogs, I can show you how that journey began.

The other day I came across this post from my first ever blog, which is long since gone, but I thankfully saved as word documents before I hit delete, and was floored by how far I’ve come in the past few years. Aoife was two, and still only known as Fidget online.

***

MySacredHomeHeaderJan09

February 2009:

If you read my rather negative post yesterday, you know I have been fighting depression lately. Yesterday darkness won.

But living under a dark cloud for a while hasn’t been all bad. It has given me the opportunity to really explore who I am and how I want to, no need to, live my life.

One of the major things to come out of all this is that I have realised I need to live a creative life every day. That’s “need” as in you need air to live. And I’ve realised that part of the reason I have felt miserable for so long is because I haven’t done that.

Creativity has been a hobby, not a lifestyle.

Over the years I have hidden behind a dozen or so labels I have made for myself and started identifying with, but I’ve left the creative one out in the cold. The one label I didn’t like identifying with was that of an “arty farty”. I know it’s usually said in jest, but to me it suggests that being creative is something to be ashamed of rather than proud of.

Sure, I’ve had my cross-stitch, which I love, but that has also, I’ve realised, been part of the problem. I’ve been far too hung up on making complicated or fancy things (part personality, part perfectionism, part insecurity) that I can’t work on when Fidget is around. So they’re left for the evening when she’s in bed. But when she’s in bed, I’m too tired to do anything.

I need to start looking for daytime projects that can be picked up or put down as needed, so I can be creative every day. And I need to make things that come from me, not a kit.

I have also realised I need a creative home, not limited to fancy cross-stitches hanging on the wall.

I have always had a love of handmade things, but like many others I have gotten caught up in the consumerist society. A look around our house says it all. Pretty much everything is shop bought and mass produced. Yet we’re far from frivolous, in fact we’ve always been pretty frugal. I have come to realise I need the homemade factor in a big way. I need to be surrounded by beautiful (not necessarily perfect, but beautiful) things that mean something to me, things with soul.

I think it’s possible to live a creative life every day. I don’t think it has to be that complicated. I  just have to find a way to do it.

I know I can!

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And that’s the “secret”.

The first step to a more creative life is always making the decision!

I don’t find the time to be creative every day, I make it. Because I know I need to be or I’ll be miserable and a pain in the bum to be around.

Make the decision, then take a day or two to think about what living creatively means to you and how you can start the ball rolling.

The first step doesn’t guarantee an easy life. Things won’t happen overnight, and there will be plenty of bumps and scrapes along the way, but it will be worth it in the long run.

Just take baby steps and remember to breathe. It can and will happen!

7 easy tips for getting started with kids scrapbooks

7 easy tips for getting started with kids scrapbooks

The kids started their own scrapbooks last year after I saw the idea over at Pink Ronnie and was reminded of my own childhood scrapbooks.

Both kids absolutely love it.

I knew Aoife would,  but I thought Kirby was too young to get it. It turns out I was wrong! He LOVES it! Aoife loves having somewhere to jot down all her special memories, “like a diary, mummy”, and stick all the bits and pieces she’s collected along the way. Kirby loves sticking down pictures that mean something to him and chatting about them. It keeps them occupied for ages.

Saying that, it took us a while to figure out how to make the kids scrapbooks part of our routine, so today I thought I’d share some things we’ve learned along the way.

7 tips for getting started with kids scrapbooks

1)  Set aside a regular time and place for the kids to play around in the scrapbook.

If you don’t set a time, it won’t happen. Not regularly anyway. How often you choose to do it depends on how busy your lives are. You won’t always be able to do it when you want to, but knowing it’s coming up makes you more prepared and gives the kids something to look forward to.

What works for us: During the winter months, the kids worked on their scrapbooks every other Saturday afternoon. Now summer is coming and we’re out and about a lot more, we’re re-evaluating. We’ll have more to scrapbook, but less time to do it. It looks like it’ll be our main rainy day activity.

7 tips for getting started with kids scrapbooks

2) Have everything set up for when they sit down.

Try taking a few minutes to set up before the kids sit down at the table. This is easier said than done, I know (I swear Aoife has some sort of weird 6th sense for crafting- I just have to think about setting up and she’s there!), but it really does make life so much easier.

What works for us: I keep a little box with supplies, as well as the ephemera we’ve saved, near the breakfast bar where we do our crafting. Set up takes two minutes tops. While I set up, I busy the kids with something in another room.

3) Set aside some special supplies that are just for scrapbooking.

Set aside some supplies especially for the kids scrapbooks. It takes the stress out of it for you (no scrambling to find suitable supplies at the last minute), and the kids love using their special supplies.

What works for us: I keep a small box with coloured pencils, glue sticks, stickers, labels and the like tucked away in the kitchen. I swap some things around regularly to keep them guessing. They still have access to their normal craft supplies (and mine!), but love opening the box to see what’s in it and rarely use anything else.

As a side note; I do this with homework supplies too- Aoife has a special jar with supplies (a couple of pencils, a ruler, a sharpener, and an eraser) for homework. I keep the pencils sharpened and the eraser clean so she can launch into whatever homework she has to do with minimum effort.

7 tips for getting started with kids scrapbooks

4) Keep ephemera in a safe place.

Keep ticket stubs, etc in one place until it’s time to scrapbook. Put them in an envelope in the supply box, or some other safe place. The ephemera may or not trigger the kids’ memories.

What works for us: At the moment I keep everything in a plastic pocket in my home management file (yes, I’m that woman! Stop rolling your eyes at me!). When we’re ready to play in the scrapbooks, I set everything out on the breakfast bar, so they can pick and choose themselves.

5) Give advice and ideas as needed, but try not to steer their work.

I love seeing how the kids sometimes hardly mention something that I consider a big event, but then make a whole page on something I consider insignificant. It’s their scrapbook, so give advice and make suggestions as needed, but let them choose what to include.

What works for us: I keep a little list on my phone of what we’ve done since the last time we played in the scrapbooks. The night before, or early the same morning, I jot them down on a piece of paper for the kids and print out a few corresponding pictures on printer paper. Sometimes they tick off the entire list and use every photo, other times they pick one or two items (or something I don’t even know about/ consider “important”). The choice is theirs.

7 tips for getting started with kids scrapbooks

6) Let toddlers draw and glue.

Let toddlers and preschoolers draw and stick things in wherever they fancy. You can always write a note in the margins explaining what the page is about.

What works for us: Kirby loves seeing the pictures I have printed out and starts chatting about them straight away. He chooses what pictures to add, sticks them in, and draws or sticks things all around them. I write a note explaining the page in the margins, or add a little note of some sort.

7) Keep it fun.

Let go of your ideas of what the scrapbook is supposed to look like and let the kids have fun! If they think it’s a drag, they won’t do it. Zip your lips and let them do it their way (within reason).

What works for us: We put on some catchy music and have a good sing along while playing in the scrapbooks at the breakfast bar. It’s often part scrapbooking, part party.

7 tips for getting started with kids scrapbooks

Photos posted with the kids permission.

How do you keep your kids’ memories? Do they take an active part in their own memory-keeping?

Over to you: 2014 reader survey

Artfully Carin 2014 reader survey

I have been thinking a lot lately about what I’d like to do with this blog. The kids are getting older, Aoife is about to go into juniors and Kirby preschool, and I’d like to bring the focus of the blog back to family friendly arts, crafts and creative pursuits. Their stories are no longer mine to tell. I have tons of ideas floating around in my head on sharing how to turn daily life into art and would really appreciate your input. Would you mind taking this quick, anonymous reader survey for me? Just scroll down in the box below to see all the questions. Thanks!

Edited to add: I’m so sorry, it was brought to my attention some of the questions offering multiple choices didn’t work. It’s fixed now.

Thank you so much! You’re a star! I can’t wait to see what you have to say. xo

The Big Book of Realistic Drawing Secrets (review)

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The Big Book of Realistic Drawing Secrets (review)

I love drawing and I am, for the most part, self-taught. Early this year I decided to improve my drawing skills and started practising different facial features each month. I also decided to do a full portrait each month for comparison. I did really well for a few months, then got totally side-tracked by life. I’m not worried about it. It happens. But I am so happy I can pick it up again now. I’ve missed it.

I have picked up some fantastic drawing tips from YouTube videos since I started this project, but my go-to place to learn more is still “The Big Book of Realistic Drawing Secrets- Easy Techniques for Drawing People, Animals and More”, by Carrie Stuart Parks and Rick Parks, which was released in 2009.

The book

This awesome book of drawing techniques is written by a husband and wife team of professional forensic artists, who teach their skills all over North America. It walks you through how to make great realistic graphite drawings from photos- what materials to use to get the best results, how to use your reference photo to make great drawings, how to draw facial features and textures, and how to put it all together to draw realistic portraits.

book of realistic drawing secrets

The book is designed so that a total beginner can work through the entire book, and so that slightly more experienced artists can dip in and out of it as they need to to improve their skills.

My thoughts

When I first got “The Big Book of Realistic Drawing Secrets“, I read it straight through. I was totally amazed by it. I have been drawing on and off since I was a child, but this book still taught me lots of new tricks. It has great instructions that are easy to follow, and lots of exercises for you try. It’s setting a whole new standard for me. It’s pointing out what I’m doing wrong, and what I’m doing right, and showing me ways to make the two meet. It’s giving me the courage to attempt realistic portraits and keep practising.

realistic drawing portrait wip

Early work in progress

It’s also giving me a much better understanding of some of the drawing tools I have hidden away in drawers and never use, and showing me how to get the most out of other tools I use all the time. For example, it seems I have been holding my paper stump wrong all this time, which is why I sometimes get streaky drawings! Go figure!

Over all, I love this book. It is a bit repetitive when you read straight through it, but I think I’ll be glad of all the repetitions when I dip in and out of the book at a later date. Also, the tips and tricks that are written on images that look like crumpled paper can sometimes be a bit hard to read. But they are both minor annoyances and don’t take away from the quality of the book. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to get into realistic drawing or boost their drawing skills.

Have you ever attempted to draw realistically? What helped you?  I’d love to know.

And if you want to see what else I’m reading, why not add me on Goodreads.

Artful memory-keepers: an interview with Kate Crane

I’m so happy to bring you another interview today. Today you’ll meet Kate Crane, who has taken the art journaling world by storm with her fun, bright and heavily layered pages. Kate regularly teaches at Art from the Heart in Harrogate, and has her own set of art journaling DVDs out (you can see my review of the first box-set here). She’s also in her 5th year of doing monthly art journal pages.

Over to Kate…

artful memory-keepers: an interview with Kate Crane

Please tell us a little bit about yourself

I live in the north of England with my husband, two children, several small animals and a dog! In real life I’m a school teacher, but in my free time I love to play with paints, inks, rubber stamps, and anything else I can get my hands on!

I have written regularly for Craft Stamper magazine (UK) and have been published in several Stampington magazines. I have made four art journaling DVDs, which were published by Traplet (UK) but have been sold internationally. I have a passion for teaching and sharing my ideas and hold regular classes in various locations. I also love social networking and blogging. My style is colourful, quirky, honest, and a little off the wall!

What’s your preferred medium?

My preferred medium is acrylic paint as I love to build up my art in layers and acrylics allow me to do that. They are also very forgiving and allow you to cover up the not-so-good bits easily! However I would describe my art as mixed-media which means I’m quite happy to add a bit of anything that I have to hand, and often use ink sprays, oil pastel, washi tape, rubber stamps and anything else that takes my fancy.

What parts of your life inspires/ motivates your artwork the most?

I have always had the urge to make and create things, even as a very small child, and as an adult that urge never went away. Although I often love to make art for arts’ sake, the desire to preserve memories is driven by my family and the fact that I never want to forget a moment. I have been keeping a daily art calendar for 5 years now, but I wish that I had started many years before when my children were younger because many of those days are now forgotten.

Artful memory-keepers: an interview with Kate Crane

How often do you work?

I work almost every day, even if it is just for a few moments. Some days life gets in the way and there’s hardly any time to do anything other than get through the day, and if that’s the case I’ll jot down a few thing to remember on my i-pad. Other days I’ll have plenty of time and will spend happy hours creating. I rarely leave the house without a sketchbook, or journal, or something to play in if I find myself sitting still with the dreaded ‘nothing to do’.

How do you keep track of your ideas? Do you keep an idea journal or do you make things as they come up?

I keep an art journal which I work in fairly regularly, but I also keep an art calendar every month where I jot down daily happenings and family events both large and small. I have been doing this for 5 years now, and although sometimes it is a challenge to keep up to date I’m very happy to look back over the last 5 years and see what my family and I have been up to. I’m very keen to preserve the memory of not just the major events in life (we tend to remember those anyway) but the smaller everyday things that would otherwise get lost in the mists of time. I hope that in the future my children will look back over these art calendars with great interest and see what they were up to when they were younger.

Do you have any advice for someone wanting to get into artful memory-keeping, even if they don’t consider themselves an artist?

You don’t have to be a great artist to preserve memories, although you may find that you become a better artist the more you do. I would say, grab a scrapbook, art journal or smash book, and start collecting every day memorabilia such as tickets, and take lots of photographs and don’t be afraid to print them out and use them! There is always a temptation to say that days can be boring and there is nothing worth writing about, but I would say look for the interesting moments in every day however small they may seem. When you look back at these moments in the future, they will surprise you!

Artful memory-keepers: an interview with Kate Crane

You can can keep up to date with Kate here:

Blog, Etsy, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter

And if you like what you see here, why don’t you come hang out with Kate and I at the artful memory-keeping Facebook group. We’d love to see you.

Monthly highlights art journal page (step by step)

Monthly highlights art journal page (step by step)

Hi lovelies,

I’ve decided to put the link party on hold for a while due to lack of interest, but I have made a step by step tutorial for you of my art journal page instead. I decided to mix things up with my journal page too, while still keeping it simple.

April was a month of amazing growth for me as I questioned some long-held beliefs about myself and what I have chosen to do with my life. I wanted the page to reflect that growth. Symbols to the rescue. So here’s what I did…

1) I began by journalling all the stuff that was going on in my head on a gessoed background. Then I blended a couple of blue Neocolor IIs on top with a little water.

2) I outlined a tree trunk in pencil down the left hand side, and filled it in with green acrylic paint mixed with a little bit of gesso.

3) I cut some leaves from the scraps of layered washi tape left over from the Easter bunny project and glued them to the end of the branches.

4) I scribbled some lines in blue, green, yellow and orange all over the tree trunk and branches, then rubbed them gently with a wet finger. I carried on layering lines until I got the effect I wanted.

Monthly highlights art journal page (step by step)

5) I stamped flowers all along the bottom of the page with a blue Pitt brush pen, then added photos of the kids doing creative things since they tied in with what I had journalled about and what I want for them as they grow up.

6) I outlined everything with a black marker, added the date, and called it done.

How was your month?

April art journal page

If you enjoy making art with a hint of memory-keeping, why don’t you come hang out with us at the artful memory-keeping Facebook group. We’d love to have you.