2020 in review: Gatvol, but grateful

2020 in review: Gatvol, but grateful

If you don't know the Afrikaans word, "gatvol", I suggest you look it up. It's a great one for your vocabulary.I'm pretty gatvol with 2020... My emotional state fluctuated like crazy this year -- one moment, I felt like an inspired, creative genius, and the next, I didn't even want to get out of bed.The worst was probably feeling very little sense of accomplishment or growth. I created something cool, or made a sale, or finished a big project, or whatever, and instead of revelling in it - celebrating that victory, however small - it just kind of passed me...

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Can't lock down love: Hand-painted succulent wedding name board

Can't lock down love: Hand-painted succulent wedding name board

I recently had the great pleasure to paint this keepsake succulent name board for a lovely couple. Not even a world-wide pandemic could stop them from solidifying their love. Even though their wine farm wedding - shared with friends and family from all over the country - had to be postponed, they opted to keep their original wedding date and had a gorgeous backyard wedding instead, with only their parents to play witness. Proof that love will prevail! The recycled, solid pine wood block was of course put together and stained by my wonderful carpenter hubby, Alex, from The Modest Toolbox. I used...

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Downloadable wall art: SA's favourite garden birds

Downloadable wall art: SA's favourite garden birds

It is my great pleasure to share the meticulous work-in-progress of my latest project: South Africa's favourite garden birds, now available as part of my downloadable wall art collection. After a public vote by my loyal followers, the top three were the Southern Double-Collared Sunbird, the Crested Barbet and the charismatic Cape Robin-Chat. I can't tell you how much fun it was creating these watercolour and pen illustrations. I'm tempted to immediately take on a few more! But alas, they will have to wait a while, as I have a few other projects that have already been waiting their turn for quite...

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Paint November BLACK

Paint November BLACK

I can already feel the earth trembling beneath my feet, as scores of mad-eyed shoppers stampede to their favourite stores in a wild dash of desperation to get the best deals of the year. Black Friday-day-day-aay-aaaaay (that was an eerie echo, in case you were wondering)...As someone who absolutely hatesssss shopping, all I can say is thank goodness that these days its possible to purchase almost anything online, from the comfort of your own home. Preferably while wearing your favourite Fat Pants. You know of what I speak -- that stretched-out-soft-as-butter-stain-on-the-bum-mess-that-you-wouldn't-be-caught-dead-seen-wearing-in-public-but-wouldn't-dare-throw-out-beauty. Yes, that one. And if you don't have one, WHY NOT?!I digress...I'm...

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South Africa's favourite garden birds

South Africa's favourite garden birds

In case you missed it, last month I asked my followers to vote for top three favourite SA garden birds, which I will then illustrate as part of my downloadable wall art collection. I also randomly selected a winner from the voters, who wins a set of downloadable illustrations from either the soon-to-be-birds, or my SA flowers. To the lucky winner - congratulations! Thank you to everyone who voted - it was great fun! Make sure to sign up for my monthly newsletter, so you'll always be the first to know about sales, competitions, giveaways and all my latest news.I'm pleased to announce SA's top...

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The ugly duckling: Where it all started

The ugly duckling: Where it all started

If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, it must be a duck. Can the same be said for an artist? The first signs of quacking started pretty early on for me. As a child, I used my Dad's leather-bound Roberts Bird Guide to source reference material. We recently visited my mom in Kimberley, and I dug up some of my childhood drawings. Seeing them was surreal... They reminded me of my late dad, who was always my top supporter, but didn't live to see me becoming a professional artist. I can still hear him...

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I've been framed!

I've been framed!

Here's a little joke for you: Where is the line between art and not art? Usually the frame. Lame anecdotes aside, I believe that a frame can make or break an artwork. Of course, just as with art, personal taste in frames differ greatly. For example, I adore a rustic, earthy frame. It adds such warmth and charm! Lucky for me, I have a live-in framer that feels the same way: My husband, Alex, who happens to be a wonderfully talented carpenter. The Modest Toolbox crafts all my frames from "upcycled" pallet wood. Together, we hand-pick wood that best compliments each individual artwork....

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No bananas here: Why downloadable art is the future

No bananas here: Why downloadable art is the future

In a time when a banana, duct-taped to the wall sells for $120,000, surely one can make the argument that art is not for the masses. Then again, Maurizio Cattelan's banana, entitled Comedian, evoked a huge reaction. And not just from a small, bourgeoisie exclusion of society, but by the masses. Say what you will about the absurdity of the banana (and its price tag!), it accomplished something intriguing. In the words of the Billy and Beatrice Cox, the collectors that purchased the first edition of Comedian, "People who usually would not have been so interested in art wanted to see 'the banana'. It has opened...

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"Beauty": The tale of the murderous Ground Hornbill husband

"Beauty": The tale of the murderous Ground Hornbill husband

Back in 2012, I introduced Alex, my Ukrainian boyfriend (now hubby) to South Africa through a month-long, shoestring-budget road trip through my beautiful country. Before checking into the Kruger National Park, we took the world-renowned Blyde River Canyon scenic drive, with a slight detour landing us at the fabulous Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. While waiting for our tour to begin, we noticed a Southern Ground Hornbill in its enclosure, right next to where we were gathered. Alex was immediately mesmerised by the big, beautiful bird. Even more so, the bird was clearly mesmerised by Alex! Without giving me a second glance, it followed Alex's every move. As...

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Introducing the Twin Personalised Animal Alphabet Poster

Introducing the Twin Personalised Animal Alphabet Poster

A dear client contacted me recently with the news that a very close friend of hers is expecting twins. As a big fan of my South African Animal Alphabet, she was hoping to gift them a personalised poster. But what letter to use? "T is for twins"? We decided to mull it over for a while...As with many of my creative ideas, I woke up one morning with the answer (thank you subconscious!): My alphabet posters need to be more inclusive. And so, the Twin Personalised Animal Alphabet Poster was born. Not only a perfect gift for double-trouble-siblings, but also...

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Introducing: Wooden Animal Masks

Introducing: Wooden Animal Masks

I am thrilled to share a new project with you that I am suuuuuper excited about: Wooden Animal Masks. A celebration of South Africa's unique wildlife, these modern wall art masks will look stunning in any indoor space! They are truly a labour of love - a collaboration between myself and my amazing husband, Alex, from The Modest Toolbox. It started many months ago as a few quick sketches and a vague idea... The production is a painstaking process... First, we recreate the sketches to scale using paper cut-outs. These pieces are then used as stencils to create the pallet wood pieces that the masks are...

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Dear Woman: A letter to to everyone

Dear Woman: A letter to to everyone

Dear Woman,May you celebrate your unique beauty. May you rise and grow and bloom, while encouraging your sisters to the same. For there is already too much ugly in the world to give in to petty arguments, jealousy and competition. Instead, cast your nurturing glow upon the women around you - loved-ones and strangers alike - and show them what it is to be a strong, kind, patient, loving, vulnerable, brave, generous, fierce, beautiful WOMAN.A woman that celebrates the victories of others.A woman that cries with the world.A woman that shares her good fortune.A woman that knows the power of...

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What is a "fine art print"?

What is a "fine art print"?

These are not just prints. My originals are scanned at the very highest quality (1.5 billlllllllion pixels, to be exact!) to capture the exact detail and depth. The scans are then professionally edited to match the colour of the original painting/drawing. Then, the high-res images are printed on 330 gsm, acid free,100% cotton rag, hot press paper. The result is museum-quality fine art prints, crafted to last a lifetime.What's more, my prints are all limited edition -- an exclusive run of only 20 or 50 per artwork will ever be available world-wide. Each print comes with a certificate of authenticity and is hand-signed...

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Colour me happy: Hare Salon

Colour me happy: Hare Salon

After completing my first two colouring pages during lockdown, I've been considering a variety of ideas for the third. At the same time, I've been plagued with a heavy-hearted empathy for my fellow entrepreneurs and small businesses in SA that have been hard hit by Covid. Having a very close, long-standing relationship with my hometown hairdresser, I was especially confused by the decision to keep the beauty industry closed at this late stage in our lockdown. I certainly wouldn’t want to be in charge right now and make all kinds of difficult, unpopular decisions... But many other sectors have been allowed to operate for weeks now. Sectors that...

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"Sweets for my Sweet"

"Sweets for my Sweet"

Every once in a while, I come across a photo that simply begs to be painted. This was definitely the case with the reference for my latest watercolour piece, Sweets for my Sweet, captured and shared with permission by the very talented Dionne Miles. If you have ever visited the Western Cape, chances are that you were lucky enough to witness the Cape Sugarbird in its natural environment. You would have experienced just how enigmatic these birds are, especially when royally posed on top of our unique national flower, the King Protea. Now, add to this already magnificent scene an impressively confident swish of the tail (can't you just hear...

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Spot the Difference: Hare Salon

Spot the Difference: Hare Salon

SPOILER ALERT! Herein lies the answer to my Spot the Difference game sheets - a free bonus when you purchase any of my downloadable colouring pages. Before you scroll down to see the answers, why not take another look with these clues to help you out. CLUES: Hare Salon (Advanced) The specials aren't so special anymore... Mrs Giraffe is missing something valuable. I needed that cucumber for my lunch... MISSING: Cover girl sporting spots. Someone misplaced the special bottle of shampoo. Easy to lose a shoe when you're hanging upside-down. Make sure to pocket your change! Ms Hare loves telling that tail. The King isn't...

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Colour me happy: Biking Bokkie & Sea Cow Jumped Over the Moon

Colour me happy: Biking Bokkie & Sea Cow Jumped Over the Moon

For a long time, I've had the idea in the back of my mind to create downloadable colouring pages... Something whimsical and proudly South African that will inspire both adults and kids to get the creative juices flowing! With the unexpected and brutally harsh arrival of Covid 19, this idea was forced to front-of-mind. I decided to create a range of colouring pages with the tongue-in-cheek concept of "only in South Africa", while remaining true to my core focus on SA wildlife. And so, Biking Bokkie was born... Only in South Africa, you can see a "bokkie" (an antelope, and also a term of endearment...

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Spot the Difference: Sea Cow Jumped Over the Moon

Spot the Difference: Sea Cow Jumped Over the Moon

SPOILER ALERT! Herein lies the answer to my Spot the Difference game sheets - a free bonus when you purchase any of my downloadable colouring pages. Before you scroll down to see the answers, why not take another look with these clues to help you out. If there is more than one difference with the same clue, there will be a number in brackets to let you know how many differences to find! CLUES: Sea Cow Jumped Over the Moon (Advanced) Take a leisurely stroll through the Cape Town neighbourhood. (4) Someone has trimmed the moonflower bush! (2) Three blind mice... Go climb Lion's Head! Someone needs...

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Spot the Difference: Biking Bokkie

Spot the Difference: Biking Bokkie

SPOILER ALERT! Herein lies the answer to my Spot the Difference game sheets - a free bonus when you purchase any of my downloadable colouring pages. Before you scroll down to see the answers, why not take another look with these clues to help you out. If there is more than one difference with the same clue, there will be a number in brackets to let you know how many differences to find! CLUES: Biking Bokkie (Advanced) Someone has trimmed the protea bush! (3) Head in the clouds... (2) How many legs does a spider have? Let's walk off into the sunset... That wheel...

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"Lookout": Celebrating small victories during lockdown

"Lookout": Celebrating small victories during lockdown

I'm really excited to share my latest piece with you. This original watercolour meerkat, entitled Lookout, is now available in my online shop, as well as only 20 archival quality prints!Apart from being pleased with how Lookout turned out, I'm just really chaffed that I actually finished it! I'm not going to lie, the past month has been extremely challenging... With the world coming to a firm halt, we all suddenly have so much time on our hands. Somehow, this led to the expectation that magic HAS TO HAPPEN RIGHT NOW. If we don't manage to accomplish something spectacular, life-affirming,...

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Earth does not belong to man...

Earth does not belong to man...

The other day I spoke to a dear friend all the way in Romania. In the midst of a global pandemic, stuck in a little box-of-a-apartment on the fourth floor, staring out of her window and noticing the first, beautiful signs of Spring after a harsh snow-white winter... "Nature is really not empathising with us", she remarked. How painfully true... Although we in the Southern hemisphere are moving swiftly toward winter, I definitely share in her disappointment...I love autumn in Cape Town - lazing like a dassie in the slow, comforting glow of the sun; peace from the relentless "Kaapse Dokter" (the persistent, dry south-easterly wind...

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"Splash!": Lady lion taking a leap

"Splash!": Lady lion taking a leap

It's my great pleasure to introduce "Splash!". This watercolour piece took about a month to complete. On-and-off, and as usual, a lot of time was spent on procrastinating: mindless scrolling through social media, crying, solitaire, drinking tea, staring off into space, yoga, anxiety attacks and more tea... In all seriousness (not kidding about the procrastination, though!), it was a very fulfilling experience, and I'm thrilled that I started the year off with a really challenging, "grown-up" painting. It's been a while since I painted something super-realistic (this darling baby elephant and sunbird was a recent commission), and one of my...

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M is for Meerkat

M is for Meerkat

It's the dead of winter at about 6am in Kimberley. I'm wearing my trusty Ouma-jersey over my pyjamas, wrapped in a sherpa that must have been woven in heaven. I have a boiling cup of tea in my hand and a hot water bottle on my lap. And I'm working away on M is for Meerkat, one of the 26 letters of my South African Animal Alphabet. A smile crosses my face. Ah, Meerkats. They are positively fabulous. Such charm! Such character! Adorably cute but surprisingly fierce, they are basically tiny tough guys that suffer from short-man-syndrome! In strolls my mom's rotund cat,...

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Is that your best price?

Is that your best price?

It seems that being the "little guy" in the mind-blowingly giant world of sales (especially when you sell your own hand-made products!), often means that people think prices are negotiable. If I had ten cents for every time someone used a phrase like, "And if I buy more than one?", "Is there a discount if...?", and "Is that your best price?"... I have to bite my tongue before I let slip, "When you go out to dinner with the whole family, do you insist on paying less because there's more than one of you?". "Do you think the time and money I spent on making...

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The Little Explorer

The Little Explorer

It is my great pleasure to introduce you to my latest commission, entitled Little Explorer. This was certainly the most unique request for a photo-realistic wildlife piece that I have ever taken on. The combination of an enormous baby elephant and a teensy-tiny sunbird certainly presents a challenge... In all honesty, I was skeptical about pulling it off without the sunbird ending up a mere speck on the page! Thankfully, with some perspective (literally and figuratively!) and a loooot of tea, it all came together in the end! Little Explorer made it all the way to the UK to his forever home.Take a...

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N is for Nyala

N is for Nyala

I often get asked where I got the inspiration for my SA Animal Alphabet letters. In the case of the first letter I worked on, A is for Aardvark, I knew exactly where to start. I could easily and clearly envisage the entire piece, right down to the last ant. Other letters proved to be a bit more challenging, especially when there weren't a lot of South African animals or birds to choose from. As it turned out, "N" was by far the most challenging when it came to the conceptualisation of the piece. The only South African animal that I could think of...

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The year of NO!

The year of NO!

The latest trend when it comes to New Year's resolutions is "speaking out" a word over the year that lies ahead. In doing so, this word-of-the-year becomes a mantra to carry with you throughout your day-to-day; something that signifies a greater goal for the year. Instead of focussing your energy on typical (and often abandoned!) New Year's resolutions like losing weight or finally organising the garage, powerful, positive words like "BALANCE", "SELF-LOVE", "HEALING", "JOY", come into play. In 2019, I decided to give the word-of-the-year resolution a try. I lived by the word "Balance". Lo and behold, it helped me to better learn how...

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The truth about social media marketing: Nobody cares...

The truth about social media marketing: Nobody cares...

  When you have different versions of the same conversation with several people within a couple of weeks, I do think it's time to pay attention... Allow me to share the gist of it: Even though social media marketing plays a vital, unavoidable and totally necessary roll in running a start-up, the world - your world - will not fall apart if you forget to post, internet gremlins cause a technical problem, or you just really need to take a break from it all. The honest truth is that nobody cares. As an entrepreneur (and a fairly new one at...

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I told you so!

I told you so!

Art is a funny thing... Or perhaps I should rather say, the way art appeals to different people in different ways is a funny thing. For example: I love all my artworks and adore creating them. BUT -- I don't have any of my own art displayed in our home. My mom lovingly refers to the art in our home as "quirky". I am under no illusion that it leans towards the dramatically odd side of the spectrum...!The closest I have ever come to keeping one of my own, original artworks is my quibbling Orange River white-eyes, I told you so!  There...

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The Serial Plant-killer

The Serial Plant-killer

I love plants. I really do. I love how they make a normal-old-day somehow feel friendlier. The fact that I have managed to kill countless plants in various ways might be slightly misleading then...Most have come and gone from a combination of sheer neglect and overenthusiastic devotion. One day they are gorgeous and thriving, and the next (okay, okay -- more like 42 days later) they are wilting and pathetic. My sincere shock and earnest guilt then lead to a showering of affection (and water) which in turn leads to their sad demise... Some, however, "cross over" without me having anything to do with...

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Letter to my eight-year-old self

Letter to my eight-year-old self

  Dear eight-year-old me,   You are smart. You are brave. You are strong. Smarter and braver and stronger than you can ever imagine. Don't sweat the small stuff. Ask yourself, "Is this really important?". If the answer is no, just let it go. People can be horrible to one another... But with kindness and empathy, you have the ability to reach over and through the insensitivity and misplaced anger of others to help to heal their suffering. Choose wisely who you spend your time with. Life is too short to waste your time on people who make you feel...

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A is for Aardvark

A is for Aardvark

  Although the concept of a uniquely South African Animal Alphabet is one that I have been mulling over for many years, it was only last year that I managed to gather-myself-towards-myself sufficiently enough finally create it. Sharing my deep-rooted passion for this country's extraordinary wildlife was an obvious driving force behind the project. My love for reading was another. In this 2018 article by Mail & Guardian, they refer to a study which tested reading comprehension of learners in their fourth year of primary schooling. The study found that 78% of South African pupils at this level could not read for meaning... The hope that my...

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The way back to your WHY

The way back to your WHY

  Recently, I created the above custom-order for a dear client using my South African Animal Alphabet letters. Seeing as it was such an unusual request, I was curious to find out more about the meaning behind the requested artwork. We spent some time talking about finding your own personal "Why" in life... Do you remember when you were little, and you went through your WHY-phase? We all had one. That magically annoying time when we questioned every single thing, every moment of every day. WHY? Because we were curious. Because we yearned for understanding. Because it felt good to ask....

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#MyHappyCrafts: Rustic Terra Cotta Photo Coasters/Wall Art

#MyHappyCrafts: Rustic Terra Cotta Photo Coasters/Wall Art

In this easy-to-follow tutorial for hand-painted photo coasters, we will create a perfect addition to Dad's man cave, braai room or an outdoor entertaining area. But wait for it... If you're like, "too many coasters alreadyyyyy," -- They double as really cool wall art too! They are a really great to use as part of the "Dad Pack" - an awesome personalized gift for dad!   Here's what you need: Terra cotta potplant saucers, roughly 9cm in diameter or large enough to fit your glasses/mugs (I got mine at Stodels for R14.95 each)  White paint - what do you have at home? Craft paint?...

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#MyHappyCrafts: Dad's Awesome Coupon Book

#MyHappyCrafts: Dad's Awesome Coupon Book

  This tongue-in-cheek printable coupon book is a great addition to the "Dad Pack"  - a perfect, personalized gift for dad! This is such a great idea to get the kids really involved and excited about Dad's gift. Make a little booklet for each child and come up with what they would like to gift Dad on his special day. And then HE gets to decide what he would like, and when...!   Here's what you need: Printed template (See Step 1) Scissors Stapler Your choice of a pens, markers, colouring pencils... to write in and decorate the booklet STEP 1:...

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#MyHappyCrafts: The Dad Pack

#MyHappyCrafts: The Dad Pack

Shopping for Dad is no easy feat. And finding something personalized and affordable is almost impossible. In this tutorial, I'll walk you through putting together this fun "Dad Pack" - a gift pack filled with a few personalized DIY gifts and some of his favourite treats.   DAD PACK PROJECT #1: RUSTIC TERRA COTTA PHOTO COASTERS/WALL ART Check out this easy-to-follow tutorial for hand-painted photo coasters - perfect for his man cave, braai room or an outdoor entertaining area! But wait for it... They double as really cool wall art too!   DAD PACK PROJECT #2: DAD'S AWESOME COUPON BOOK  How...

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The not-so-gentle giant

The not-so-gentle giant

People often ask me how I decide what subject to paint or draw. Most often, my (somewhat boring) reply is simply that a truly spectacular photo caught my eye and I couldn't resist. I follow various photographers' work, and I most often make use of a select group of favourites (both professional and amateur) that never fail to disappoint with astoundingly gorgeous work. On the rarest of occasions, I use my own photos. Never as astoundingly gorgeous, but firm favourites due to the memory that the image evokes.   A perfect example of a piece inspired by my own reference...

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#MyHappyCrafts: Giraffe Bookmark

#MyHappyCrafts: Giraffe Bookmark

  If you haven't already read my blog post about what inspired me to launch the #MyHappyCraft tutorials, start here first. Don't worry, I'll wait for you........... Welcome back! Now that you hopefully feel inspired to nurture your own creativity, let's jump right in!   This giraffe bookmark is an easy, fun project for all ages and skillsets, and will definitely appeal to the avid readers in your household. It also makes a great personalised gift for loved-ones, and can even be used as wonderfully unique party favours for little friends at your child's next birthday party.   Here's what you need:...

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Launch: A Battle with a Bateleur

Launch: A Battle with a Bateleur

There is a fantastic quote attributed to American writer, William Faulkner, that goes:     His words immediately put to rest the idyllically naive notion that Creatives lead this romantic existence where they are solely guided by magnificent inspiration. Unfortunately, as Mr Faulkner knew only too well, the wait for inspiration often outlives due dates on bills; a client's patience; a deadline... It is one of the cruel realities that any creative faces when turning a passion into a career. You can no longer sit around and wait for the luxury of inspiration to strike. Instead, you must sit down and simply practice...

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Nurturing creativity through #MyHappyCrafts

Nurturing creativity through #MyHappyCrafts

  As an artist, I have heard the phrase "I wish I was creative too", too many times to keep count. I always have the same reaction to this: I am filled with a deep sense of sadness.   Like the boisterously charming French chef in Ratatouille, I am a firm believer that anyone has the ability to be creative. I'm not suggesting that we can all become Picasso... but with practice, nurturing and heart, anyone can learn the art of being creative.   Unfortunately, when it comes to our own creativity, we tend to label ourselves as either creative or not....

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The Search for Happiness: You never have to know what to do with your life

The Search for Happiness: You never have to know what to do with your life

When I was a little girl, I was constantly drawing. Ponies and pretty birds and doggies and cats. As I grew older, my art evolved into what can only be described as my boomerang-mood-teenager-period (imagine Picasso's Blue Period... just um... with more Linkin Park logos, sullen-faced girls wearing shorty-shorts and various grungy skulls crawling with bugs. Oh, and much less blue). Looking back, what surprises me is that I never even once dreamt of becoming an artist. Not even when I was lost in childish imagination, removed from The Grown-up World that demands realistic career choices that offer the promise...

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An assault on the senses: My first exhibition

An assault on the senses: My first exhibition

The past 18 months has been a period of extreme highs and lows and constant change:  "Imported" my International fiancé.  Battled with home Affairs for weeks.  Battled a Purple Bride (a story for another day).  Got married.  Moved to a new city.  Got a great job.  Got a great flat.  Bought a fridge.  Lost that great job.  Almost lost the flat.  Lost a parent.  Almost lost myself.  Decided to be an artist.  Que drastic career-change.  Got a job.  And another.  And another.  Got offered my first exhibition - a totally surreal moment that has somehow halted the whirlwindean-storm that has...

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