Absent….but not missing

I have been away, for a few weeks now, not in the physical sense, but mentally absent from my creative self.  I have rejoined the world of …..(gasp)……..adult study.  

I am finding this problematic on several levels, not least the juggling with all other crucial areas of my life, but also because apparently at some point in the last 10 years, my brain went into retirement, and is very reluctant to come out.  It is with horror that I find myself facing scenarios such as this on a daily basis….


….and after 4 or 5 hours with this crowd, my laptop, and printer, my brain literally hurts.  So what does any self-respecting, pattern-loving, hard working student do when they are up against a deadline?  Go shopping, of course!


 Not just any shopping, naturally. WHSmith, Paperchase, even Wilkinson’s manage to provide a little lift to the proceedings at my desk.  Who can resist a mini hole-punch, a mini-stapler or (joy!) flourescent page markers.  

The next few weeks are going to be a long haul, with a few thousand words to be typed and the death of a similar number of brain cells.  However, I shall now be doing it properly equipped.  And on my breaks I shall be sneaking over to the Pattern Study Course that I wish I was able to devote a similar amount of time and energy to.  I may be neglecting my studies in that area at the moment, but it will always be my first love. 





















It’s starting to make sense….

As mentioned before in this blog, I am and always have been addicted to stationery.  On the whole, I am not a big shopper, but this is one area of shopping I can engage in for hours.  In all other areas of my life, I shy away from choice,  give me simple every time.  But in a stationery store, I feel a delightful sense of anticipation – who will I choose?  Will it be lined, A5 or A6, square, ring-bound, hard or soft cover, elastic closure, pen inside? Each has its own merits, but which one will suit the job in hand? I somehow can’t resist them even when I know I have an empty one at home waiting, so I often have several on the go at one time, telling myself that I am sub-dividing my labours.  Once it is purchased, once I have it safely in my bag, I can’t wait to be alone with it, to open the first page – what will it become???

Previously, I have always bought lined books.  I was once a diary-keeper until I felt the deep pain and betrayal of having it read, so then I became  a list-maker.  Lists about everything. What am I doing today?  Who am I?  What are my plans for the future? What food do I need?  Must remember that website.  What books do I want to read / films do I want to see?  How do I plan to improve my home?  I like the shape of that dress….etc?   So my drawings were always hasty sketches with a lined background.  It never occurred to me to go blank.  It also never occurred to me that this hourly record of my small life was anything other than whimsy.

So without being conscious that this is what I was doing, without an art school background, I have always kept a sketchbook.  On my travels, and in my daily life, a little book has always been with me, nowadays accompanied by an iPhone, which takes some of the workload.  Sadly what I didn’t do, which art school would have instilled in me, was to keep them all.  I saw no value in my musings and doodling.  I often threw them away after a quick flick through to see what I was doing a year ago – sometimes tearing out pages that I liked.

And while I thought that I just liked the patterns on the front of my new notebook, I didn’t recognise the much deeper significance of devouring pattern, and storing them away, until I was ready to start my own pattern journey.  Thus a compulsive need to list, record and keep has only started to make sense in the last few years, as I have become aware of journals and sketchbooks, it finally feels valid.

“Nothing better than Nature for Inspiration” Celia Birtwell

I love to draw flowers and sketch different things but before yesterday I hadn’t really grasped WHY I like to scribble abstract flowers so much or do detailed watercolours of hydrangea petals for example.  I love flowers and look closely at Wedding Flowers as a key starting point to designing Wedding Stationery and Invitations, not only for their colour but their form.  I did it because the flowers can give me a good idea of the type of wedding my clients want but listening to Celia Birtwell made me think again.  When my clients commission artwork I feel tremendous satisfaction when it all comes together and they are pleased with the finished product.  As Celia said in the interview “It’s very good for the ego to find that people really like what you do”.  It’s true!  When people buy my work it does make me happy!  And when I truly explore the Creative tasks on this course I will be happy beyond belief to finally be able to say that I have discovered my own Unique and Original style of pattern design.

“There is nothing better than Nature for Inspiration”, Celia Birtwell.

On our Fabulous Surface Pattern Design eCourse yesterday we were asked to look at a video.  Why haven’t I seen amazing Lady before?  Her work really has stood the test of time and has recently been available to a whole new audience through Top Shop!  That’s probably where I’ve gone wrong and missed it – My Top Shop Days are well and truly over!

Her work is Timeless and she had so many great things to say that I found myself scribbling down her wise words ready to share here! She talks of scale to add detail and interest and of how important variety is.  Different proportions can make pattern interesting.  You need to ‘mix things up a bit’, my words not hers this time. This led me to thinking of how We, (Emma and I) could eventually swop our motifs with each other or agree on 6 shared motifs from our course, (3 each), and we can then see what we do with them.  It would be interesting to see what we both come up with based on the exact same starting point!  Now I don’t think we are quite ready to take this on just yet as we are only half way through week 2 but already I feel inspired and ready to mix things up a bit to see what we end up with!

“Love British…Love Design…Love Fabric”  Celia Birtwell