As a few of you may know, earlier in the year I was approached by the John Lewis stationery buyer. You can probably imagine how excited I was! I was invited to submit my designs and short-listed as a potential greeting card supplier for 2018. The whole submission process was fascinating, albeit expensive and time-consuming. It involved me registering for VAT and submitting my first ever VAT returns, buying my own barcodes (who knew barcodes were so expensive!) and learning all the nitty gritty details about submitting a product to a major retailer. In the end I wasn't selected (they only selected 3 new suppliers out of 132 that were shortlisted) but they gave me lovely, helpful feedback and said they would consider my designs again next year if I expand my range a little more. I'll see how my other projects pan out in 2018 before deciding whether I do resubmit but I'm so grateful for the opportunity, excitement and confidence boost John Lewis have given me this year. Who has give you your biggest confidence boost this year?
I'm thrilled that my Christmas cards are now on sale at the wonderful Button Warehouse in the centre of Macclesfield. It's a gorgeous wholefoods cafe hidden down an alleyway off Chestergate in a beautiful old mill building. It's my favourite place to go in Macclesfield when I want a healthy treat and a calm, inspiring space to think and work.
I've been busy designing Christmas cards this week, for my own range and for the National Trust. Here's a sneak peak of my holly heart and robin design.
I had an amazing few days at the Bogfest 2017, a brilliant and inspiring conference/festival celebrating our precious boggy moorlands. I met so many interesting people and reconnected with some of the science and stakeholders of my former life as a researcher and climate change advisor. As well as running three Boggy Doodles workshops, I was also the Bogfest Artist in Resident, which involved helping delegates create a Boggy Art Wall, a fun way of giving them a chance to think creatively about why our moorlands matter. So many ideas, conversations and contacts to follow up on!
Many people ask me how on earth I came up with the name 'Boggy Doodles'! The quick answer is that our family cat is called Boggy Doodle. He was named by my little boy after my two great loves: art and peat bogs (which I studied during my geography degree at Oxford University and later during my PhD on nature conversation and climate change). I was searching for a name that would encourage people to come along and sketch in the wild, without feeling intimidated, and realized the name was purring right under my nose.
But it’s not only the name that combines my two interests. Boggy Doodles has given me a wonderfully rewarding way of linking my background in geography and environmental science with my love of sketching and new career as an artist.
It is my way of helping people reconnect with nature, the first step towards greater environmental stewardship. You have to love nature to want to take care of it, and it’s easier to appreciate nature when you start to see it properly; to really savour its beauty. Sketching helps you see -- not just look at -- nature; you notice so many details that you’d otherwise miss.
Yet so many people have limiting beliefs, stemming from childhood, about their inability to draw. Boggy Doodling gives people permission to have a go at sketching, without worrying about anyone judging their efforts. It’s so rewarding when someone is adamant and self-conscious about the fact they ‘can’t draw’ but then, after an hour of Boggy Doodling exercises, finds themselves losing track of time, completely absorbed in the act of sketching a humble hawthorn leaf.
It’s this focused observation that makes green sketching so relaxing. It can even be a form of meditation for those of us too pragmatic to sit in front of a candle. By giving our full attention to sketching what we are looking at in a particular moment, we are able to focus, mindfully, on one task and quieten the mental chatter in our minds – something so many of us crave in this age of information, digital and cognitive overload. Nobody worries while they’re Boggy Doodling!
Click here to learn more and book tickets.
I'm in Country Living! Huge thanks to the lovely CL team for including an interview with me in the extract of their fab new book, Turn Your Hobby Into A Business 2 (all about how to find the confidence to start and run your own business), which comes free with this month's magazine. The book itself goes on sale today in loads of shops, including WHSmith, M&S, Tesco, Sainsbury's and Waitrose. It takes guts and resilience to change career and start your own business but hopefully this book will inspire and reassure people that they can also be brave and follow their dreams.
I'm delighted to announce I've been invited to Boggy Doodle at Bogfest 2017. Bogfest 2017 is a joint celebration of our iconic uplands and brilliant blanket bogs hosted by the Moors for the Future Partnership and IUCN UK Peatland Programme. The festival/conference is an opportunity to connect with people working on upland and lowland peatland restoration, clough woodland regeneration and upland meadows.
I'm going to be running two Boggy Doodles workshops for Bogfest delegates on Thursday 21st and Friday 22nd September. I'll also be running a third Boggy Doodles workshop on Saturday 23rd September, one of several Bogfest events that are open to the general public. You can book tickets for the Saturday workshop here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/boggy-doodles-in-the-peak-district-part-of-bogfest-2017-tickets-36977124575
I'm so excited to be part of Bogfest 2017. Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love peat bogs! I studied them during my undergraduate dissertation and later during my PhD research. More recently, I've started work on a new range of boggy designs, inspired by all the sketches I make when up in the moors. By Boggy Doodling at Bogfest, I'm going to have a wonderful opportunity to help other people savour and learn more about our beautiful moors.
Just got back from 5 days of Boggy Doodling and relaxing with the family in Wasdale, a beautiful (comparatively) quiet corner of the Lake District. We stayed in a cute little 'pod' on the National Trust campsite; a very wise decision as it rained every day. Despite the soggy weather, I had ample opportunities to soak up nature and sketch all sorts of little treasures. I even befriended this beautiful female robin who was trusting enough to eat bilberry flapjack crumbs out of my hand. Simple pleasures!
Look who I found! When you try to make sketching a daily habit (I'm on day 36 of a personal 100 day sketching challenge), you find yourself looking for things to sketch and end up seeing so much more. We get a mini invasion of these baby frogs in our garden every year. It's so easy to miss them unless you slow down and look really carefully. I love the way it's holding on to my pen.
Thought I'd start my blog by sharing my new Boggy Doodles logo.
It's taken me the whole weekend to create this simple design, which involved drawing endless curves and birds in charcoal and then trying to teach myself how to use Adobe Illustrator from scratch.
I'm cross-eyed from staring at the computer screen but pretty happy with the end result (if only because I love the colour!).