Monday, 16 January 2017

2016 Review and Goals for 2017

Happy New Year!  I hope that I am not too late to say that, as we are now already starting the third week of 2017!  The start of a new year is a good time to take stock of things, remember achievements from the previous 12 months and look forward to planning the next.  I've not really made new year's resolutions but instead thought about goals I would like to achieve, or work towards.

So first, here's a quick look back at some of the things I did in 2016...

The top 5 most popular blog posts for 2016 were mostly craft tutorials...

5.  3 Techniques to Decorate Pencils
3 ways to decorate pencils by Hazel Fisher Creations

4.  DIY Matchbook Notebooks
DIY Matchbook Notebooks tutorial by hazelfishercreations

3.  Rainbow Colours and Free Printable Planner Page
Rainbow Colours my sketchbook hazelfishercreations

2.  Learn How to Make Your Own Sketchbooks
How to Make You Own Sketchbook - learn this bookbinding technique to make sketchbooks, journals and notebooks! hazel fisher creations

1.  Origami Box Tutorial
Origami box tutorial, summer strawberries papercraft project Hazel Fisher Creations

I have to also mention the Printable Advent Calendar Village - this post from 2015 was also popular in 2016, as was the village in my Etsy shop (which is still available to buy from my shop if you missed out for 2016).  I'm so glad that so many people enjoyed making up their own Advent villages!  I'm planning to design some new Advent / Christmas printables ready for the next festive season.

Christmas Church and Advent Calendar Village - printable boxes to colour in a make up yourself - available from hfcSupplies on Etsy. Hazel Fisher Creations

One goal I set for 2016 was to blog at least once a week on average - I'm pleased to have achieved that with 59 posts.

Other things that happened in 2016...
I joined thortful to sell some of my card designs.
I also published my first class on Skillshare.
I also made lots of new designs for my Etsy, Spoonflower and Society6 shops.
I made a dress using fabric I designed from Spoonflower (I'll share some photos of this soon hopefully!).

I find that it's really important to remind myself of all the things I have done, because actually a lot of the time I feel like I'm trying really hard to do all sorts of things but mostly feeling like I never quite get 'enough' done, or what I have done isn't good enough.  So for 2017, I'm trying to set myself realistic goals - what do I think I can actually achieve in a day, week, or month.  That isn't to say I don't intend to challenge myself, but I want to do it in an achievable way.

For 2017, I would like to continue to grow my business and look for new ways to expand but also try to streamline and connect the different things I do more.  Amongst the many things I regularly do for work are: selling on Etsy, Spoonflower, Society6 and thortful, blogging, sharing things on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. So many things to do!  I'm going to try to plan ahead more and link up these different things - so work on one design theme at a time and use it to produce content across all these channels.
Blog wise I would like to average at least 1 post a week, and post more craft tutorials and sketchbook/ art work.
I also plan to publish more classes on Skillshare, and practise using video to share elsewhere too (like on Facebook/ Instagram - did you see my 'Happy New Year' video?).
Craft projects I would like to do in 2017 include: knitting a cardigan, sewing another dress, a handbag and a coat (I have seen a pattern I really like and although it says it is 'easy' I expect making a coat to be quite a challenge!)

What are your goals for the year?

Saturday, 31 December 2016

#BeInspired Cass Art Challenge Part 2 - My Artwork

Cass Art #BeInspired Campaign - What Inspires you? Be inspired hand lettering by Hazel Fisher Creations drawn with ProMarker, fineliner and Inktense pencils
Yesterday I shared a review of the materials I received from Cass Art for taking part in their #BeInspired campaign.  Today I can share with you some of the art work which I made using my new materials!
Some of the materials are similar to things I already use and some have been completely new to me but I have really enjoyed trying all of them out.  It has been great just to play around and see what happens and not to worry so much about what the finished piece will be like.  I definitely want to do this more and am planning to get some new sketchbooks and spend more time in 2017 experimenting with different materials in them!

The campaign is called Be Inspired and I have been thinking about what inspires me in my art - there are so many things! I'm inspired by the things around me, nature, my garden, wildlife, birds, my pets, places, things I see on tv, in magazines or find on Pinterest. I'm also often inspired by other artists, designers and crafters from the colours in their art, techniques and materials they use or subjects they draw etc.  There are so many places to find inspiration!

Cass Art #BeInspired Campaign - What Inspires you? Be inspired hand lettering by Hazel Fisher Creations drawn with ProMarker, fineliner and Inktense pencils
I've made 2 pieces with my new art materials to share with you today.  The first piece was inspired by the theme of this challenge.  I started by sketching out a rough design in pencil.  I'm really enjoying playing with hand lettering at the moment so wrote 'be inspired' - using the ice grey Promarker pen, which I outlined with pigment liner pen.  The Inktense pencils produce such great vibrant colours I wanted to draw something colourful, so added the flowers (which were inspired by the marigolds I grew in my garden in the summer).  I also used the liner pens to draw the flowers and leaves, using different thickness of pen to add variety to the design.
I used a sheet of smooth watercolour paper (which I already had and didn't come in the art pack) for this piece - I thought that the ProMarker worked well on this.

My second piece was inspired by winter sunsets - I was out a few days ago when the sun was setting and the colours of the sky were beautiful, with silhouettes of winter trees.  As it got darker the stars appeared, as well as a very bright light, which I think was Venus. I took a few photos and referred back to these to make this...

Cass Art #BeInspired Campaign - What Inspires you? Winter Sunset by Hazel Fisher Creations drawn with soft pastels, Inktense pencils and fineliner pens
I worked on another sheet of smooth watercolour paper, sketching in pencil first, then drawing the basic tree trunks and horizon in liner pen.  Next I used some soft pastels to colour the sky, using kitchen paper /my fingers to blend them.  I then used the Inktense pencils to make the colours more intense and blended with water.  I've only ever used soft pastels dry before (I didn't know you could use water with them!) but liked the way they worked with the pencils and water. I added more details to the trees using the finest pen.  Finally I added some stars using a tiny amount of white acrylic paint (which I already had and didn't come in my art pack).

Cass Art #BeInspired Campaign - What Inspires you? Winter Sunset by Hazel Fisher Creations drawn with soft pastels, Inktense pencils and fineliner pens
I hope that you've enjoyed seeing what I made! If you would like to find out more about the materials I used, check out my review of the art pack which includes links to where you can buy them from Cass Art.

If you would like to see what other people have been doing as part of the Cass Art Challenge, search for #BeInspired and if you've been inspired to make something yourself let me know - I would love to see what you make!

[This is a sponsored post and includes affiliate links - Cass Art sent me an Art Pack in return for me reviewing the package and creating art as part of their #BeInspired campaign, all opinions expressed in the post are my own - for more info click here.]

Friday, 30 December 2016

#BeInspired Cass Art Challenge Part 1 - Art Pack Review

I'm so excited to be taking part in Cass Art's #BeInspired campaign!
Making art brings so much pleasure and anyone can be creative.  It doesn't matter if you think you're not very good at making things, you can still enjoy the process - and just like anything else, the more you practise the better you get!

Cass Art wants to encourage everyone to explore their own creativity - they are on a mission to fill every town with artists!  They are dedicated to supporting artists and keeping their art supplies affordable - so that making art can be accessible to everyone, which I think is great! (You can find out more about Cass Art here, I found the history of their family, which they recently blogged about, really interesting too.)

The #BeInspired campaign is all about inspiring people to get creative and finding out where people find their inspiration from.
Cass Art have sent me a Drawing and Graphic Art Pack filled with new art materials to play with! I'll be reviewing the pack in today's blog post and sharing some artwork I made with the materials in another blog post tomorrow.

[This post contains affiliate links - for more info click here.]

Cass Art #BeInspired Campaign - art pack Hazel Fisher Creations
Before I go on to tell you about the art materials, I have to say that I was really impressed with how the pack was packaged.  First impressions are really important and receiving a package sent with care is such a joy to open!  The items inside had been wrapped in tissue paper and the shiny blue padded envelope just added to the excitement!

This was what I found inside...

Cass Art #BeInspired Campaign - art pack Hazel Fisher Creations

Cass Art Soft Pastels
This box of 20 half stick, professional quality soft and blendable pastels is from Cass Art's range of own brand products.  I like the range of colours included.  I haven't used soft pastels much, so I'm looking forward to experimenting with these more!

Cass Art #BeInspired Campaign - review of my art pack by Hazel Fisher Creations. Cass Art Artist Soft Pastels

Derwent Inktense Pencils
As the name suggests, these pencils give intense colours! You draw with them like an ordinary pencil, then wash over with water to blend. Once dry they are permanent too.  I like the range of 12 colours in this tin, which includes some more muted tones (more colours are also available).  You can also use these pencils on fabric, I'm interested to see how that works too!
Cass Art #BeInspired Campaign - review of my art pack by Hazel Fisher Creations. Derwent Inktense Pencils

Staedtler Pigment Liner Pens
I love to draw with fineliner pens so I can add in lots of details.  These are a different brand to the ones I usually use, but I've enjoyed drawing with them so far.  They draw smoothly and I like the range of sizes in the pack - from the super fine 0.05mm to 0.8mm and a chisel tip.  The ink is waterproof, so can be used with watercolour washes too.
Cass Art #BeInspired Campaign - review of my art pack by Hazel Fisher Creations. Staedtler Pigment Liner Pens

Derwent Line and Wash Sketching Set
This set includes 6 sketching pencils (2H, H, HB, B, 2B and 4B), 2 water soluble sketching pencils (HB and 4B), a waterbrush, eraser shield, paper stump, sharpener and eraser - all in a neat tin. There's a good range of pencils included in this set - I like to draw details, so it's nice to see some harder pencils included.  I've not tried watersoluble sketching pencils before so I'll enjoy testing those out!

Cass Art #BeInspired Campaign - review of my art pack by Hazel Fisher Creations. Derwent Line and Wash Sketching Set

Winsor and Newton Marker Pens and Paper
I received a selection of pens in this tin, along with a Winsor and Newton Pigment Marker Pad of paper. The paper pad has 50 sheets of A5 light weight (20lb/ 75gm2), smooth coated paper and is designed for use with Winsor and Newton's marker pens.
I haven't tried any of the pens from the tin before, so the card describing how they work was very helpful!  The pens I received were...

Liquitex Paint Marker (cadmium yellow light hue)
This is a water-based acrylic marker with a chisel tip.  It worked really well on the Winsor and Newton paper, with the paint flowing nice and smoothly.  The Liquitex markers can be used on a range of surfaces - I tested it on some different papers, including black card.  The yellow paint is quite opaque and stood out well on the black.

Winsor and Newton Pigment Marker Pens (Quinacridone Magenta and Colourless Blender)
I tested this out on different papers, including cartridge paper, too but it worked best on the Winsor and Newton paper.  I've now read that they can be used on other surfaces, like tracing paper - but something that is non-absorbent is best. These pens come in over 100 different colours and the blender pen can be used to create an even wider colour palette.  I just have the one colour, but the blender pen can still be used with this to produce a range of shades. I found that it worked best by using some of the blender pen on the paper first, then drawing with the magenta, then using the blender pen again. Using the magenta first then the blender didn't blend very well (see below left).  The pens also are dual tipped - one end has a broad nib and the other a fine nib.

Winsor and Newton Watercolour Marker Pen (turquoise)
After drawing with this pen you can use a water wash to blend the ink, it can also be used with watercolours.  I found again that this pen worked better with the Winsor and Newton paper, when I tested it on watercolour paper it didn't blend as well.  It has a fine nib on one end and a soft brush nib on the other.  I have the turquoise pen to test out but it is also available in over 30 other colours.

Winsor and Newton ProMarker Pen (ice grey) and Winsor and Newton BrushMarker Pen (forest green)
I was excited to receive these as I've often wondered what it's like to use alcohol based markers! The ProMarker has a fine nib one end and a broad nib on the other end.  The BrushMarker has a brush nib and a broad nib. As you can see below, I tested these out on the Winsor and Newton paper but preferred how they looked on some of the other papers I tried.  I still need to experiment with these more.
Cass Art #BeInspired Campaign - review of my art pack by Hazel Fisher Creations. Winsor and Newton marker pens and paper

In my next post I'll be sharing some art I've made with my new materials!


[This is a sponsored post - Cass Art sent me an Art Pack in return for me reviewing the package and creating art as part of their #BeInspired campaign, all opinions expressed in the post are my own - for more info click here.]


I've included links to each of the items I've reviewed - just click on the names of the products to find out more.  You can also find them by searching on Cass Art's website.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Spoonflower Contest - Ditsy Mistletoe

This week I had fun creating a festive, mistletoe inspired design for Spoonflower's 'Ditsy Mistletoe' contest.  I was also more than a little excited to have learnt a different way of designing patterns (more on that below!).
Of course one of the first things to come to mind when you think of mistletoe is the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe, but Spoonflower's brief for the contest also talked about the plant being a symbol of peace in Scandinavia, under which enemies would declare a truce.  So my design is inspired by love and peace and incorporates mistletoe with doves and hearts.

Spoonflower Ditsy Mistletoe design challenge - my Mistletoe and Dove design by Hazel Fisher Creations
As usual, my design started off life in my sketchbook, with sketches of mistletoe and ideas of how I could make it into a pattern.  I then made some pen line drawings to scan into the computer.  I added some details onto the dove, inspired by Scandinavian patterns, and the heart shapes are based on the mistletoe leaves.

Spoonflower Ditsy Mistletoe design challenge - my Mistletoe and Dove design, work in progress vector pattern design made in Serif Drawplus by Hazel Fisher Creations
Usually I would then work in Photoplus to create my pattern.  I wanted to use my pen drawings, to keep a hand drawn feel to the design, but I didn't want the black outlines, so decided to work in Drawplus and convert the drawings to vectors.  I have worked this way a bit before, but usually end up taking the pattern into Photoplus to create the repeating pattern.  After a quick bit of research online and some experimentation I found out how to create the whole pattern in Drawplus!

Spoonflower Ditsy Mistletoe design challenge - my Mistletoe and Dove design, work in progress vector pattern design made in Serif Drawplus by Hazel Fisher Creations
After converting the drawings to vectors and colouring them, I arranged the elements to create a pattern ready to repeat.  I then selected these elements and created a 'Vector Fill'.  Next, I drew a rectangle shape and filled it with the 'Vector Fill' I had just made. The 'Fill' tool then has options which allow you to adjust the spacing and alignment of the repeat.  I loved this part because it quickly allows you to see how your repeat is working and where any gaps might be.  With a bit of backwards and forwards, filling in the gaps I made new 'Vector Fills' until the pattern worked seamlessly.  I'm looking forward to trying out this technique again for other patterns!

Spoonflower Ditsy Mistletoe design challenge - my Mistletoe and Dove design, work in progress vector pattern design made in Serif Drawplus by Hazel Fisher Creations
For the Spoonflower contest I entered the version of my design with a blue/grey background.  I also really like how it looks with a dark grey background, so once I have test swatches printed, I will make both available to buy in my Spoonflower shop.

If you like this design I would really appreciate your vote in the contest! (If the design makes it into the top 25 it will be available for sale as soon as the results are announced!) There are also lots of other lovely mistletoe designs to see - view all the designs, and vote for your favourites here: http://www.spoonflower.com/contests/ditsy-mistletoe

** UPDATE ***
Thank you so much if you voted for my design in the contest - it made it to 12th place (out of 240 entries)!! That means the design is now available to buy on fabric from Spoonflower - you can find it here.  The version with the dark background will be available too as soon as I have a test swatch printed.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Inktober 2016 Round-up of my Drawings

This year I decided to join in with Inktober for the first time - Inktober is a drawing challenge started by Jake Parker to make one ink drawing a day for the whole month of October. (You can find out more about Inktober and see Jake's fantastic artwork on his website).
I wanted to join in with the challenge to practise my own ink drawing and to have some fun drawing different subjects. It was also great to see what other people were drawing each day.  I started the challenge with good intentions to draw every day, however, I did fall behind and ended up continuing the challenge into November. I have been posting pictures of my drawings onto my facebook and instagram pages but thought it would also be good to share a round-up of them all here...

[This post contains affiliate links - for more info click here.]

Inktober 2016 drawing challenge. My sketchbook pages - days 1 to 9 by Hazel Fisher Creations(Days 1 - 9)

At the same time as drawing for Inktober I was also working on other projects, so I found it difficult to keep up with the daily drawings. I still think that I got a lot out of the challenge though. I loved drawing some different subjects, like people and buildings which I used to draw more often but haven't drawn so much recently.  The project has inspired me to want to draw more of these.  I've also been thinking about the way I use ink differently and having a bit more variety in the thickness of my lines.

For most of my drawings I used black Faber-Castell PITT Artist Pens (Super Fine and Extra Super Fine). I've been using these pens for years.  I like the drawing tips - especially for drawing small details.  The ink is water proof too, so can be used with watercolours.  I also like that they're not too expensive!

On day 8 I used some black Quink ink. I used to draw with this a lot, but haven't for ages, so it was fun to play with it again. The Quink is really nice diluted with water because it separates into different colours, which adds a bit more interest to the image.  (It reminds me of chromatography experiments in chemistry lessons - did you do that? - where you see what colours things like felt tip pen ink, or Smarties sweets, separates into?)
I also reversed the way I would normally work for this sketch - starting with washes then adding in details with the PITT Artist pens afterwards instead of starting with the line work.

Inktober 2016 drawing challenge. My sketchbook pages - days 10 to 18 by Hazel Fisher Creations
(Days 10 - 18)

I would definitely like to take part in the Inktober challenge again next year - maybe I should mix in some more quick 5 minute drawings with the more time consuming ones so I can keep up with 1 a day! In the mean time, I plan to keep up with doing more drawing just for fun, and seeing what happens in my sketchbook.  I've found a drawing challenge on Instagram #IFDrawAWeek, which has a different theme each week - one drawing a week sounds like it could be more manageable!

Have you taken part in any drawing challenges? What have your experiences of them been like?

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Printable Christmas Church

Christmas Church and Advent Calendar Village - printable boxes to colour in a make up yourself - available from hfcSupplies on Etsy. Hazel Fisher Creations
Tomorrow is 1st December and Christmas is approaching fast (I'm sure time starts to speed up towards the end of the year!). It also means that it's time to get your Advent calendars out - do you have one? My Advent calendar village will be displayed in my home again this year and filled with sweets!  It has been lovely to hear how much fun my customers have had colouring and making up their own villages too.  I know one customer is also using the little houses as gift boxes rather than as an Advent calendar.  If you don't have one of your own, you can still buy one from my Etsy shop - they're available as Instant Download, so you can start downloading and printing the sheets as soon as your payment clears.
Christmas Church - printable box to colour in a make up yourself - available from hfcSupplies on Etsy. Hazel Fisher Creations
This year I have also made a new addition to the village - a church! Designed to fit in with the rest of the village, it has snow on the roof, a wreath on the front door and a Christmas tree on the tower. Like the village, it is also a colour in design - so you can make it any colour you like.  The finished church is slightly larger than the houses and is made from 2 pieces (the main church building and a tower) which are glued together to form one building.  It comes as 2 printable sheets; to make the church and a tree background.  Instructions are also included on the sheets.
Christmas Church and Advent Calendar Village - printable boxes to colour in a make up yourself - available from hfcSupplies on Etsy. Hazel Fisher Creations

Friday, 11 November 2016

5 Things to Love About Autumn

Things to Love About Autumn, sketchbook drawing inspired by Autumn by Hazel Fisher Creations
Autumn isn't my favourite time of year, as soon as summer starts to fade and the days begin to get shorter, colder and wetter I start to feel a bit sad at the thought of next spring being so far away. However, rather than dwelling on the negative, I thought I would come up with a list of things to love about Autumn. I actually do really love having 4 different seasons with all the changes in weather that brings.  I think I would get bored pretty quickly if everyday was the same!

Things to Love About Autumn, Autumn Leaves photography by Hazel Fisher Creations
1. The Changing Colours
The best thing about Autumn is seeing the changing colours in nature.  All the shades of red, orange and yellow are beautiful!  The Schumach tree in our garden has a lovely range of colours, it's one of the first trees with leaves to change and fall but is over so quickly, so I wanted to capture some of their beauty with some photos.

Things to Love About Autumn, Autumn Leaves photography by Hazel Fisher Creations
2. Autumnal Collections
It's fun to collect leaves, acorns and chestnuts in Autumn.  I also use the things I collect as inspiration for drawing and new designs.

Things to Love About Autumn, Autumn Leaves and Chestnuts photography by Hazel Fisher Creations
3. Harvest Time
We had a bumper crop of pears from our garden this year.  I don't know whether my tastes have changed, or we just had nicer pears, because I don't usually really like them that much but this year I've liked them more!  I've had pear cooked with my porridge for breakfast and we have made pear crumble for dessert.  We like to mix a little ginger and cinnamon with the pears in the crumble for added flavour.  We've been sharing our harvest with our neighbours (there are only so many pears you can eat!!) and our neighbours have shared theirs with us too.  I helped my sister bake this delicious apple pie with our neighbour's apples.

Things to Love About Autumn, Autumn Leaves and Chestnuts photography by Hazel Fisher Creations
4. Cosy Blankets
My favourite thing to do in the dark evenings is curl up on the sofa, under a cosy blanket, and watch a DVD.  I have a tradition of watching an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer at Halloween (I have box sets for all 7 series), I think having some more Buffy evenings this Autumn are a good idea!

5. Watching Fireworks on Bonfire Night
Last Saturday was Bonfire Night and we saw plenty of fireworks! From our house we can see some of the display from the big village show and several neighbours had fireworks too.

Things to Love About Autumn, Autumn Leaves and Chestnuts photography by Hazel Fisher Creations

While I'm writing about Autumn I thought I'd also share an interesting fact I found out recently!
I was wondering why we call the season 'Autumn' here in the UK but in North America it's called 'Fall', so I looked it up.  Apparently the season was usually called harvest before the 16th century, but as more people began to live in towns rather than the country the words 'autumn' (from the Latin autumnus) and 'fall' (a short version of 'fall of the leaf' or 'fall of the year') became more common.  British settlers to North America took both words with them, but over time Fall became the common term in North America while in Britain we now use Autumn.  Interesting how language evolves!

Whether you call the season Autumn or Fall, do you love it or wish it would pass more quickly?  Share your favourite things about the season in the comments below!

Things to Love About Autumn, Autumn Leaves photography by Hazel Fisher Creations