Friday, November 14, 2014

Four things about me

I've been invited to be the next in a long line of bloghoppers and answer the four questions below. I'm not usually drawn to this kind of thing, this blog is mainly about the pictures, but illustrator-extraordinaire Nicky Linzey asked me to, and I like her and her work a lot. Also, I'm going to take the opportunity to tell a bit more about myself because, up until now, I've been pretty anonymous here.

See? Illustrator-extraordinaire! I love this picture. © Nicky Linzey

Why do I write / illustrate what I do?
I've always loved to draw and paint so at 18 I went to study art at UCA and specialised in textile design - I loved it! In my 20s I spent quite a few years in seasonal jobs across Europe (some of the more interesting ones being pear picker, EU helpline operator, campsite receptionist, flight school sales administrator and ├ępicerie manager!) and although I was still drawing when I could, my mind definitely wasn't on future careers. After a summer driving around France, my partner and I drove through the medieval city of Bruges on our way to his family's home in the Netherlands and we've been here ever since. After a lot of work and dust our old house is a bit more comfortable (giving us back our free time :D) and I so want to see if I can make a living by returning to what I love. Four years ago I thought that starting a blog and learning from others through their blogs and other social media would be the best way to start.

This design is based on the history and buildings of Bruges in the style of a medieval woodcut.

Poortersloge (detail). I made this watercolour when we first moved here. It's not a myth about the light being
special in the Low Countries - it's especially beautiful in the autumn.

What am I working on now?
Right now I'm working on inventory for an Etsy shop; it's scary and there's a lot to it but.. see above!

Clockwise: Palace Garden in Indigo - Zipped pouch featuring a Hiroshige woodblock print - textile paint experiments - Migrate in watercolour

How does my work differ from others in the genre?
All my work is based on the natural world. It's a popular subject but I think everyone has different thoughts and feelings, a different take on it. There are so many tiny decisions and lucky accidents made when you're drawing or designing that it's inevitable for the results to be unique.

How does my writing / illustration process work?
I've got a lot of (very messy) sketchbooks with little doodles, drawings, ideas and lists; the biggest limitation is always time! A few years ago I taught myself how to work with vector graphics and found it totally absorbing; it's especially addictive to use the texture fills, they add instant depth and warmth to a design. If I'm not painting or making, I prefer to scan in drawings to use as a base for digital work - I don't think there's any replacement for the kind of marks you get when drawing by hand, no matter how versatile the program. Then I play around with the colours and composition until I'm happy.

Thanks for reading :) If anyone has experience with Etsy or selling online elsewhere, I'd love for you to leave any tips in the comments. Have a good weekend!


It's the usual thing to pass on these questions to someone else. If you'd like to have a go at answering them and would like to see your link here, email me!


Forest & Sea ▪
hand drawn nature on fabric, accessories & homeware


  1. Hi Cally (I'm blushing) - thank you - that means a lot. I'm really glad you did accept my challenge as I have found this so fascinating to read about how you came to live where you do and how your surroundings have become the inspiration for some of your fabrics. I'm in no doubt that you'll make a success of your online shop although I can imagine what hard work it is to get started.
    The woodcut fabric has worked so well - it's beautiful.

    1. Hi Nicky, I'm glad you liked the post! I've been a bit reticent about saying too much about me but as you carry on with writing online it does get easier doesn't it? I've especially found Instagram to be very encouraging in that - everyone I've come across there is so kind and supportive. Next stop vlogging! ... no, maybe not.

  2. Moo, I love that you're going to open a shop!!!

    I think one of the biggest things I learned when I started on Etsy was A: not to take it too seriously and B: post every day and interact. If you favorite things on etsy and touch base and poke around you'll find a community there, much like on spoonflower or instagram. Every time you post an item there is a chance you will snag someone looking at 'recently posted', which is why it's good to space them out.

    There are lots of really great Etsy blog posts explaining how to maximize sales, etc, including how to take good photos and tag and so forth. Check that out for sure.

    Of course, I buck all the rules because honestly, I only have an etsy shop so that the things I make aren't just sitting on shelves or getting gifted. I love the idea that some of my art might make its way into a happy home of someone who really truly wants it. It doesn't even really pay for itself. But I'm also doing my art on my free time, with a fulltime job paying the bills.

    Everyone joins Etsy for different reasons. And what you get out of it like a lot of things I guess, is what you put in. There are lots of great treasuries and tips but honestly you've clearly already gotten down how to take delicious photos of stuff, so I wouldn't sweat that part. (Though since you're overseas I suggest you figure out some basics about how much it's going to cost you to deal with shipping and packaging, so you're not losing your shirt over international orders).

    Other than that... I think Etsy has a lot of information that should make things easier! Go check it out! Try using 'tips' as a search term on their blog, that should bring up some nice articles.

    PS: Most Etsy sellers are SUPER NICE so if you find a shop in your area and want to ask them questions try the 'conversation' option on Etsy you might get good advice!


    1. Thanks so much for all the detailed info Rose! I appreciate you taking the time (and thanks for saying my photos are delicious!) That's always good advice for me: don't take it too seriously :)

  3. Looks like I am quite late to the party but I've enjoyed reading this! I always love your instagram photos and seeing your work in progress. Fun to have a little background!

  4. Thanks for stopping by Elizabeth! I enjoy your instagrams too, I'm glad you liked the post :)


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