Can’t Draw? No Problem!

If you’ve been looking at my Instagram feed for some time you might have noticed I use a lot of botanical line drawings. (Oh, my instagram is @bettyvirago)

Vintage Florals design

Each flower is hand drawn by me and scanned into my computer and to be honest, it’s taken a long time to get to the point where I can say I like my drawings.

One tutor at uni would say regularly that we should draw everyday, but it was only after university that I finally started to take that seriously.

Am I a cheapskate for using every last bit of the eraser?

I often hear people tell me how talented I am, but it dismisses the hard work and hours of sketching that I do.

Talent? Yes, perhaps, but also hours and hours of practice.

Some time ago I found a website called Creative Market. It’s a place where you can buy items from other creative people for use in your own work.

I’ve used it to buy watercolour brushes for photoshop and some fun procreate templates to play with. One of the best things about creative market is that there are 3 payment prices for items also called licenses.

The cheapest is the personal price or licence. This allows you to use the files for your own personal use, so if you’re just wanting images to colour in then you can pick up some great designs for less than £5.

The next licence is commercial. It allows you to use the files on a number of items for sale and one social media account.

Then the most expensive is an Extended Licence, which gives you an incredible amount of freedom with the images.

For more about the licence types click this link: https://creativemarket.com/licenses/general

If you’re a small independent designer you can purchase a range of illustrations for under £20 and have the licence to add them to your own items. Great for those who want an artstyle they can’t yet do themselves and great for the artist who is paid for their work.

It sounded like a good deal I draw far more flowers than I could use myself and I liked that as an artist I am protected with licenses.

And so, I’ve just opened a shop on creative market.

Tulip Botanical Illustrations

So for just over £10 you can buy a bunch of flowers in both jpg and png files for your own personal use, or for a few pounds more you can buy the licence to put the images on mugs and t-shirt and cards and sell them yourselves.

You can find the shop here: https://creativemarket.com/BettyVirago

Mothering Sunday

This year the UK celebrates Mother’s day on the 14th of March. It changes dates each year but is celebrated on the fourth Sunday in Lent.

There are records of a celebration of mothers going as far back as Ancient Greece, but was a celebration of the Rhea, the mother of the gods and goddesses. In the UK it has origins in the Catholic church that celebrated it as a day to give thanks for the Virgin Mary also known as Mother Mary.

In Victorian years it was a day when servants were given time off to visit their own mothers and for many servants it was the one day of the year they got to spend with their family. There was even a Mothers cake often made with the masters permission that was made to be taken to their mothers.

Traditionally in the UK it was called Mothering Sunday and I think it’s a shame we’ve lost that term.

Being a mother has never been something I’ve felt called to, but I have friends who longed to be mother and yet, were never given the opportunity and for them, Mother’s day has sometimes given them a sense of failure that there was one thing in life they didn’t achieve. On the other hand, there are people who I have tried to be a ‘mother figure’ to.

I’ve mentioned my dad several times and mentioned that he died a few months ago, but perhaps not so much mentioned my mum, who also died a few months before dad.

This year, for me and many others, will be the first year when Mothers day, will be more difficult and I wonder whether churches will consider that in their services in a few weeks time. To be honest though, I’ll probably just give that Sunday a miss.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 196349_1009827096225_1810_n.jpg

But it does make me wonder whether we should make a return to Mothering Sunday over Mothers day.

I’ve had one Mother, it wasn’t always a perfect relationship, but she wouldn’t be replaced in my eyes. On the other hand, throughout my life there have been many men and women who have come into my life and taken on a role of ‘mothering’ and ‘fathering’.

Although I only had one set of parents there were many ‘parental’ figures without whom I probably would not have survived.

Mothering Sunday (and possibly Fathering Sunday) would add a nod to the people in our lives who come alongside us when we need them most.

I won’t name them, simply because I’d embarrass some of them who did their part without wanting recognition…

besides, I know I’d miss one or two out!

Women who took me into their homes and fed me, who counselled me and built up my confidence. One woman who convinced a landlord to take a risk and rent a flat to me, another who took a risk and offered me a job. The women who years later, still make regular contact with me which has been so invaluable in lockdown.

We can’t all be mothers, but we can all give the gift of mothering to someone who needs us, and perhaps so much more this year than ever before. People are needing someone who makes regular phone calls just to ask how your week has been. A person on their own needs to be invited into your family as part of their support bubble (I am so grateful that I was invited into a support bubble), Young adults might need inviting to your home for Sunday dinner.

While each year we sit (in my opinion) through Mothers day sermons on how grateful we are for our Mothers, perhaps the sermon should be how we can look out for those who need a bit of mothering! Maybe we should be changing our focus from being inwardly thankful to outwardly seeking someone to help.

Run to the Father

The next card on my list is the Fathers card, based on the song by Colonel Edward Joy.

Is there a heart o’erbound by sorrow?
Is there a life weighed down by care?
Come to the cross, each burden bearing;
All your anxiety, leave it there.

CHORUS:
All your anxiety, all your care,
Bring to the mercy seat, leave it there;
Never a burden He cannot bear,
Never a friend like Jesus.

No other friend so keen to help you;
No other friend so quick to hear;
No other place to leave your burden;
No other one to hear your prayer.

Come, then, at once; delay no longer;
Heed His entreaty, kind and sweet;
You need not fear a disappointment;
You shall find peace at the mercy seat.

Salvationists know the gift of physically going to the ‘mercy seat’ to talk with God, but we also know that our Father isn’t tied to a wooden bench.

We can, at anytime, run to the Father with our needs, hopes and concerns.

The image in the card is that of a child running to the Father

Inside the card is the words of the hymn as well as a bible verse

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you.”

1 Peter 5:7

Again, if you want to buy the card here is a link to the Etsy shop.

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/bettyvirago

The Potters Card

I’ve spoken several times about the cards I call Hymn cards.

They’re a series of cards I designed, perhaps in memory of my dad, but certainly because of him and his love of old hymns and Salvation Army songs.

I recently made the decision to get the cards professionally printed and list them on Etsy. Well this morning a couple boxes of cards and wrapping paper arrived and I’m slowly sorting them out and writing the many listings for Etsy.

It’s going to be quite a job, but hopefully soon all cards and items will be in the shop for you to buy.

I’ve decided to write a post about every card design I’ve ordered and show them to you.

So firstly… The potters card.

The Potters card

The imagery of a potter at the wheel is mentioned several times in the Bible, even in Genesis there is a sense of God mixing dirt with water to make clay to form Adam.

The image on the card is of a master potter, working with the clay to turn it into a final piece, the same hands that made the goblet for the king made the begging bowl for the pauper.

But the message of the story isn’t only in the greatness of the potter, but in the process of the clay.

In 1902, A young woman named Adelaide sat in a prayer meeting feeling very discouraged. She had dreams and plans of going to Africa to serve as a missionary. It was a worthy but costly goal and she hadn’t managed to get the funding needed to travel.

I can imagine her thoughts, Why would God call me to Africa and not provide the means to go?

So many of us have had disappointments this year.

Education has been disrupted, employment has disappeared, our daily routines have been changed beyond recognition. Fear of catching a virus, fear of not seeing family and friends in time, uncertainty and loss have been companions for so many of us.

The Potters Card

I can relate to Adelaide.

As she sat in that prayer meeting wondering why this was happening? having big dreams and little means, and wondering whether something can come from this, she heard an older woman speaking out.

“It really doesn’t matter what you do with us, Lord. Just have your own way with our lives.”

That night Adelaide walked home and thought of what the woman said. She thought about the imagery in Jeremiah 18:3, of clay in the hands of a potter.

She went home and wrote this hymn:

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me, I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway!
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me.

– Adelaide A. Pollard

Pottery

I don’t know whether Adelaide made it to Africa, but I know her words and poetry went there, and went much further. We don’t know what God has in store for us, Adelaide had a big dream of speaking about God in one country, but God had plans that meant Adelaide communicated far beyond her lifetime.

And so, the first of the card is listed.

If you are interested in buying a card the link is here:

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/964760353/thou-art-the-potter-christian?ref=shop_home_active_1&frs=1

Highest Heaven

It’s been a little over a year since I sat through the night in A&E with both my parents. What followed was hours and hours of sitting beside hospital beds.

I’ve said before that most people wouldn’t know my dad as a singer, but for me, his singing is what I remember best about him. For many Salvationists the song book sits beside the Bible and is a part of their worship and for dad the words of the hymns and choruses were especially important.

Lockdown brought a lot of pain, not being allowed to see my parents, my parents not being allowed to see each other, and their eventual promotions to Glory.

Before they got ill I had been working on a quilt with the words of Dads favourite song, ‘O Boundless Salvation’ embroidered into it.

O Boundless Salvation quilt

I finished the quilt and it sat on dads bed in the hospital for a little while before the lockdown forced me to remove it.

Before Lockdown I had sat with dad on several occasions and sang his many favourite songs to him. I had also started adding words to hymns and choruses to images I had drawn and had some printed out for dad to read in hospital. I hoped that though I was unable to be with him, he could read the words and see my sketches and know my heart was with him.

I’m not alone in ending 2020 in grief, nor am I alone in starting 2021 in further grief of friends.

Many of us have lost so much in the past 12 months and many of us have more to come, and the sense of loss, whether from family and friends or from employment and opportunities will be long-lasting.

On the whole, I’ve been strong, but as I started the week learning of another friends passing I realised I had lost more friends and family in the past 12 months than I had in the whole of my life. I found myself falling into depression and struggling to find the strength or will to pull myself out.

And then, after a few days of inactivity, the words of an old Salvation Army chorus came to me and what my dad had instilled in me throughout my life, came into effect. I started singing…

Prayer gently lifts me to highest Heaven,
From Earth’s confusion to Jesus’ breast;
My sin and weakness, my doubt and sorrow,
Are lost forever in sweetest rest.

I could add a video of a talented pianist playing the tune, or an arrangement by an Army band, but I found this video, it’s how I think it should be sung, not in great skill and show, but humbly and in quietness.

And suddenly I realised what I’d been missing, I’ve been carrying all this weight on my shoulders and forgetting to lay it at the feet of Jesus in prayer.

I created a sketch some time ago, but hadn’t found the right words to it, but the chorus fitted so perfectly.

To Highest Heaven

I’ve been working on having my artwork professionally produced onto cards for a long time. It’s helped me, it helped my dad, and perhaps sending hymns and my artwork can help others.

It’s taken a long time, I’ve been worrying whether others will feel the same way I do about the cards. However, after again finding strength from the words of the chorus this week I emailed the printers and I’m going ahead with producing cards.

Below are just 2 of the cards I’ll be producing.

Prayer gently lifts me
In His time

I hope others will find the comfort through hymns and choruses as much as my dad did, and as much as I have done.

Let it snow!

This is a little design I made for a wrapping paper competition.

It’s not long now before we open our presents, hope you’re all ready.

Let it Snow!
Wrapping Paper Mock Up

Houndstooth

As much as I love digital art and working on the computer there is a need to make contact with handmaking.

I’ve wanted a weaving loom for many years but only recently treated myself to a rigid heddle loom.

Ashford have produced a complete rigid heddle weaving kit that comes with enough materials to make a scarf. and so I bought one from Wingham woolworks.

Complete weaving Kit – FibreHut Limited

I’ve actually been looking at the Ashford heddle looms for quite some time but kept umming and ahhing about loom size and things. This kit comes with the 16″ sample it loom, which wouldn’t have been on my list of possible looms simple because the name ‘sample’ doesn’t give me the impression its for more than tiny projects.

In reality though, this loom is probably the perfect loom for people who want to make scarves of a variety of wools. It comes with a double heddle ability which I think is an added extra on other looms and uses the heddles of the 16″ rigid heddle loom.

My first scarf was just a practice with some scraps of sock wool, it turned out quite well I think, it’s a bit like a Dennis the Menace jumper.

Then I made the houndstooth scarf that comes with the kit. There was more than enough wool with 2 x 100g balls of DK wool and I actually finished the scarf in one evening.

Both scarves have been hand washed and are hanging to dry.

You might see in the photos that I use a shuttle to weave, well, since buying the kit I’ve also bought the shuttles which make the weaving more enjoyable. I’m hoping that some of my large wool stash can soon be put to good use through this new hobby.

Seahorses

I’ve been drawing florals for some time now, it’s a stable design element that sells well, but I’ve been interested in drawing ocean life for some time too and am only now starting to get into drawing and designing with that idea.

I’ve sketched some seahorses, and since this months Make it in design live hub is on the half-drop repeat I’ve come up with a simple half drop repeat design using the seahorses I’ve sketched.

So here’s a short runthrough of how I turned some sketches into a finished design…

I sketched several elements on both paper and procreate in black and white. I like to sketch in black ink then use illustrator to turn the sketch into a vector image.

A hand drawn seahorse

I sometimes put the vector image into photoshop or procreate and colour it in to see how that looks coloured in.

Coloured in Photoshop

I can use Photoshop or Illustrator to make the pattern, both have their different uses, but if the image is mainly line art I use Illustrator.

The finished half-drop repeat pattern

Once the pattern is finished I put it onto the Spoonflower website shop where you can order fabric with the prints on.

I use a couple other print on demand sites too, but all fabric patterns go to Spoonflower. I then use mockups to create an image showing the pattern on a product. This mockup came from the Spoonflower website, but you can buy them ready to use or make your own.

The final job is to come up with a name for the pattern, this one I simply called Seahorses.

Mousey Mouse

Recently I was able to update my Ipad to one that supports the apple pencil, what a difference it makes.

Anyway, I started sketching some little mice on Procreate that I thought I’d share, maybe they could be a pattern at some point.

Mouse and Bee
The Pied Piper
Mousey Housey

A Continuous Line

I’ve been setting myself the goal of completing the weekly spoonflower challenge.

The challenge for the 10th December is to create a pattern with a continuous line. I’d already created a pattern like this…

Faces Pattern

Unfortunately each challenge has to be a brand new design, I added a few more faces, this time women’s faces, then added a pair of lips. It’s a bit darker than what’s becoming my current trend of floral patterns but it fits the challenge.

Faces in the crowd

It’s not yet available on spoonflower, but will be soon.

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