Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Interview With Artist Juliette Crane

OK so I'm currently squealing to myself in excitement (cue a strange look from my bunny George) as I'm about to share this months artist interview with you all. I've been a huge fan of this lady ever since I discovered her work back in 2012. Juliette Crane is a mixed media artist & teacher who paints adorable whimsical animals, owls and people. I've taken two of her online classes already (which were wonderful) & I'm the proud owner of two of her paintings. I'm so drawn to her work- the colours- the patterns-the layers- the mark making & of course her characters, I find her work truly inspiring. So grab a cup of tea (perhaps a biscuit or two?) and enjoy this heart warming, open & honest interview with Juliette :)

Hi Juliette, can you tell us a bit about yourself & how long you've been painting professionally?

I’ve always been creative and had all sorts of art and sewing projects going on, but I didn’t ever think I could do it all as a career until I was fired from the first job I ever really loved in the summer of 2009.

Being fired was the last straw at that point in my life. It left me heartbroken and not knowing what to do next. So I took the summer off to refuel my spirit and did what I loved most as a child, dragging out all of my art supplies onto a big blanket in the backyard and creating in the sunshine all day.

Friends and family saw these paintings when they’d come over (it was the first time I’d actually put my artwork out on display in my own home). They suggested I have a gallery show, so I asked about hanging artwork at the library. The next month I had my first local art show and hosted an opening.

Instead of applying for a new job, I signed up for an online business class, bought a printer and packing supplies, started a blog, opened an Etsy shop and worked really, really hard to build my business and grow it all in a direction I love.

When & how in that journey did you discover your love of Mixed Media?

I’ve always had a collection of art supplies (crayons, markers, papers, printing supplies, sewing supplies, watercolors, oils, pastels, spray paints). But whenever I would sit down to paint, I didn’t know what to create, so I would end up with something abstract and I never connected to it.

When I started these whimsical paintings, I was really drawn to folk art and paintings of girls that reflected something in their surroundings. So I began painting what I was drawn to and used whatever I had in my supply collection to get the look I wanted. If pastels didn’t work on top of oils, then I’d try watercolors and see what would happen.

I’m lucky to have been raised by parents who encouraged me not to have boundaries. It just always made sense to me to experiment and use whatever I had beside me and to try new things. I never thought there was a right or wrong way. It’s something I used to see as a weakness because I always felt I was supposed to fit into a box and follow the directions (like you’re told to in school). But then I realized it’s all part of my creativity and really an incredible strength that not everyone has.

When people started asking me to share more of it, that’s what led me to posting video demonstrations and hosting my own online courses and community.

When starting a new piece of work, staring at a blank canvas can be daunting. What is your go-to/favourite method you use to create your backgrounds & what are your favourite supplies currently?

One thing I am loving right now is painting on book pages. That way there is no blank page.

I fill up the book pages with layers of papers and paint the same way I would any other background I create. Sometimes I’ll journal on the book pages and rip up those pages, glue them down and add layers of acrylics, inks, water soluble oil pastels, glitter and more papers.

Creating backgrounds for me is an emotional burst that I need to get out. At that point in my painting, I am not thinking about what I am going to paint. It’s all about playing. So I set out all of my art supplies (like I loved to do as a child) and grab whatever I feel like using in the moment. I don’t think about my backgrounds, I just layer and go. If I have extra paint on my fingers, I smear it. If I make mud, it’s okay, it’s just my first layer and I will cover it up.

That’s my thought process when it comes to the blank canvas and knowing that I will probably cover it up makes it less intimidating.

Some of my favorite techniques right now are adding a layer of my favorite color acrylic ink on top of a muddy background I don’t like to keep the texture showing underneath but add a pop of color. I also adore using stencils and spray inks or spray paints or gluing down layers of lokta paper, tissue papers or vintage maps to add layers and definition.

I like to keep things fun and easy for myself, which is why I start with simple shapes whenever I begin a new character too.

When you work for yourself you have to wear many hats & take on many roles. Sometimes I find no room to fit in anything creative into my day! Can you give us any tips on how you organise your working days to ensure you have time to create & what percentage of your time is 'creative time' during the week versus everything else.

I’ve made being creative as much as possible my main business priority. However, organizing my days and making time for that creativity has been a learning process.

For me, I am happiest and feel most connected and calm when I am creative. I started my business so I could create and share what I create with the rest of the world.

When I get all wrapped up in the “work” side of business I feel stressed out and am never my best self. When I found myself so focused on the business side that I was going mad and only allowed a sliver of time to create, I realized that was just not how I wanted to live.

I’ve found that by taking time to create and be calm (taking walks in nature, doing yoga, sipping tea and mediating) I make better decisions, have more energy and really enjoy my life, which is the reason I am living anyways.

I realigned my goals to match the way I wanted to live and feel every day. I analyzed how I work best, realizing I must compartmentalize my business tasks and do a bunch in one afternoon, staying focused on them in the moment rather than stopping to check email or facebook.

I need huge chunks of what I feel is free time to create and be inspired, so I’ve grown my business around that idea.

That means I have cut out a lot of projects that I always thought I wanted (like licensing deals and having a clothing line). I looked at why I wanted those things rather than chasing the dream, thinking it was the right next thing to do. Then I cut out pretty much anything I wasn’t fully loving to do and either delegated it to someone else or cut it out of my business.

I also watch my time on social media and when researching what other people are doing.

Instead, I’ve made things that I love to do and do naturally, like painting and photographing, part of my business. My days are filled with painting, journaling, taking photos, and gathering up inspiration.

I’ve made it my priority to be creative and to have my business run around my creativity and what I need and what I can share best. That leaves me so much more time and energy to enjoy life and the things I love outside of my business- like spending time with my husband, my family and friends, staying healthy and living well and traveling.

For anyone trying to turn their passion in life into their career it can leave you feeling vulnerable- you want to succeed so badly that you can start to doubt your abilities & whether or not you can succeed. We all have these thoughts & emotions at some point on our paths. Most of us compare ourselves to others also, which can leave us feeling depleted. How did/do you overcome any negative thinking about your business & career as an artist?

When I first started painting again in the summer of 2009, I set up a room as my studio and filled the walls with photos of artwork I loved. And I could not paint.

If I did paint, it was never as good as what was on the walls. And it was way too similar to what was on those walls. I couldn’t actually create what I needed to until I took all of those inspirations down and stopped looking at them.

I was also lucky to have had some eye opening experiences that were heart breaking at the time, but which taught me to stay on my own track and make the decisions that worked for me.

I remember feeling like it would never happen. That everyone was doing better than me and that they had all of the answers. Those thoughts were so self-defeating. They kept me from actually creating my work, putting out into the world what I needed to share and making the things that only I could create.

I would go back and tell myself that it’s a process. That if you follow your heart and really work hard, it will all work out. I threw darts at so many things (local art shows, getting featured on blogs, magazine submissions, trying wholesale). It all made me really crazy because I was doing it all at once. I was so busy. But doing all of those things helped me see what I really wanted and what worked and didn’t work for me. Slowly, I realized it was okay to say no and cut out those things that didn’t work.

I had to have faith in my own ability and in my own creativity. It definitely gave me ideas whenever I’d look at others and see how they seemed to be making it (maybe they sold wholesale, had licensing deals, sold calendars and lockets, got into licensing, had their art on fabric, or released free videos). But, for me, it was so easy to get sucked into the idea and outcome of it all.

What helped me was to look at what reaching those goals meant in the long term and in my every day. Maybe you travel and teach all over the world, but never get to see your family or really explore a city. Those things to me were more important.

I also talked with a lot of the people I admired and who I thought had it all. Many were exhausted or having health problems, which helped me reprioritize. Some really loved what they were doing, but when I heard the details, I realized it just was not for me.

I have made a point of analyzing my life and business and making sure that what I do every day aligns with my overall life goals.

For anyone starting out following their creative dreams what did you find was the best way to get your work out there & seen? i.e Facebook? Blog? Etsy Shop? A combination of all?

The short answer is a little bit of everything. But I make it easy on myself.

I can spend too much time on social media, so I’ve had to make it simple for myself and have all of my social media connected to my instagram posts, so one post from my phone goes out to instagram, my facebook business and personal pages, twitter and tumblr. I also love pinterest, so I set aside time to browse there too (but no more than 10 minutes) and definitely not to any point where I start to feel bad about myself and assume everyone else is better than me.

I try and focus on what I love doing (that’s the only way I’ll stick with something… if I’m enjoying it or make it easy enough for myself). I enjoy writing and sharing photos and my creative process, so that’s what I blog about twice a week (it used to be 3-4 times a week, but that was something I needed to cut back on to allow more time to create and share my artwork).

Obviously, if you’d like to build a business, you need a way for customers to purchase what you have to offer. I found you can choose whether that is an etsy shop, ebay or paypal buttons on your website. However I assumed that when I opened my etsy shop, people would come. And that did not happen.

For me, it took promoting my shop on social media and on my blog (and not in a fake, sales-y way I hated, but in a way that I was excited about). It also took me thinking outside of myself and visiting other people’s blogs and taking the time to genuinely give them support, comments and kindness (I love doing that and start every morning off with an act of kindness).

The most important thing that I have found is to stay consistent and to put yourself out there in a way that fits you. It’s also important to have a website and newsletter list (and a way for people to sign up for it easily on your website). Then it’s also important to be consistent about sending a newsletter out.

What other artists are inspiring you at the moment?

I love Mindy Lacefield, Danielle Danielle and Misty Mawn. I also try and get as much inspiration as possible from outside the mixed media world and adore following artists Oliver Jeffers, Jr, and fashion designers Diane Von Furstenberg and Stella McCartney.

Thanks so, so much for taking part, please tell us where can we connect with you?

I’d be delighted to connect more on my website:

And I teach online courses here:

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Shop Update

Hello everyone. Hope the sun's shining wherever you are! I won't even tell you how long this has taken me, but finally all my new work is in my Etsy shop. I have lots of new paintings & prints to show you, oh and look! I've finally smashed my 30 painting target! Yay! :) Prints will eventually be available in my Not On The High Street shop too- that's next on my To-Do-List! In the meantime if you want to browse my Etsy shop, please click here.

Also to thank you for visiting, I've created a free calendar desktop background for you, it's at the bottom of this post. You can download it by clicking on the image and dragging it to your desktop. I hope you like it.
* Please remember that these desktop backgrounds are for your personal use only. THANK YOU! *

Wishing everyone a great weekend!

Love & Light Em x

 Painting Number 30

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Surtex 2014

Hope everyone had a lovely weekend? We went & visited the local woods to see the bluebells in full bloom. It was the most beautiful sight to see, I honestly could have stayed there for hours & I'm sure going back before they've all gone.

Work-wise I've been getting ready for Surtex 2014. Trying to get as many designs done as possible for the agency I work with Cinnamon Joe. You can see my flyer & all the amazing artists that Cinnamon Joe represents here on Print & Pattern.

Here are some more sneak peeks at the some of the designs I've created, do come & say hi to us in booth 312!

P.S I'm having a big shop update soon- this week I hope, if you want to be the first to snap up what's available do sign up for my newsletter here

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

To quote Ronald Dahl......Think Good Thoughts

I LOVE this quote & I do believe it's true. Why is it that we are really drawn to certain people? That we want to know more about them & spend more time with them? It's almost like they are a people magnet! I think that it's because whatever they are feeling on the inside reflects out onto those around them & that's what attracts us to them. We want to know their secret. We want to breath in some of their energy as it gives us a boost too. We want to feel happy on the inside too.

We need to think good thoughts too.

 Happy aliens! A new design I'm working on.

 Sleeping baby design snippets

Painting number 29. Lots of experimenting going on here! I've used paint, tissue paper, foil, pencils, scrap book paper, paint pens & gel pens! phew! 

Hope everyone's having a great week
Love & Light

P.S I'm having a big shop update soon, if you want to be the first to see what's available do sign up for my newsletter here

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Painting Girls.....

I think I've mentioned before that I've been taking a few courses in order to learn more techniques to help with my painting. Danielle Daniel's course Her Story gave me some pretty cool sketching exercises to do- one where we had to draw with our non-dominant hand & set a timer of 2 mins for each sketch. This was a challenge as I like to keep things neat!!! But boy, was this a great way to loosen up as you really have no choice in the matter. Here's one of my sketches below. Speed + non-dominant hand = this:

I've also recently taken a few of Mindy Lacefield's courses, one specifically aimed at getting back to basics & loosening up. You can see by my paintings below that some look more primitive than others as I start to let go & loosen up. My goal for myself is to do the complete opposite of what I'm used to! I hope that this process will allow me to become a better artist. I'm not sure what style I will end up settling on but I'm really enjoying the process & all the experimentation! 

Painting number 25

Painting number 26

Painting number 27

Painting number 28

Wooohoooo! Only 2 more paintings to go & I've finished my 30 painting challenge! I hope you like my girls & I wish you all a wondeful weekend.

Love & light
Emma x