Friday, 13 March 2015

The Birds of Archibald Thorburn with FREE pictures

I'm not particularly a bird-lover (although I rather like owls) but I am a picture-lover and really love good artwork.  Talking of owls I always think Will-i-am looks like a cute owl when he's on The Voice - it's the way he turns his head one way, then the other and those big eyes... 

But anyway.... Archibald Thorburn was a prolific Scottish bird artist and animal painter who lived from 1860 until his death in 1935.  Archibald was born in Midlothian, the fifth son of Robert Thorburn (1818-1885) who was portrait miniaturist to Queen Victoria. His first education was at Dalkeith and in Edinburgh, after which he was sent to the newly founded St John's Wood School of Art in London. His stay there was only brief, since on the death of his father he sought the guidance of Joseph Wolf. It was his commission in 1887 to illustrate Lord Lilford's Coloured Figures of the Birds of the British Isles, for which he painted some 268 watercolours, that established his reputation. He illustrated numerous sporting and natural history books, including his own. He taught Otto Murray Dixon and Philip Rickman (both in Nature in Art's collection), and he encouraged the young Donald Watson when he came to visit him in Dumfries and Galloway. Thorburn was friends of other eminent bird illustrators including George Edward Lodge and John Guille Millais with whom he collaborated on a number of works including: Natural History of British Feeding Ducks; British Diving Ducks and British Game Birds.

His paintings were regularly exhibited at the Royal Academy and he designed their first Christmas card for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in 1899, a practice that he continued until his death. He was Vice-President of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. 

In the 1930s he refused to make use of electric lighting, preferring natural light for his painting, and making use of lamps and candles. 

His grave is at St John the Baptist church in Busbridge, Godalming.

These pictures are just 4 of 522 images that are included on our British Birds public domain DVD

All of the illustrations on our DVD are by four renowned bird artists - Archibald Thorburn (1860-1935), John Keulemans (1842-1912), Henrik Grönvold (1858-1940) and Joseph Smit (1836-1929).  

All of the 522 great quality images are out of copyright which means that you can do what you like with them!  Make prints, card-making embellishments, calenders, mousemats, fridge magnets, book covers, mugs and so much more!  Make items to sell for yourself, for charity fund-raising, school or church fund-raising with no restrictions.  Here's that link again... 522 Public Domain British Birds Images

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Art Nouveau Stained Glass Windows with Mackintosh-style designs and FREE pictures

Craft supplies and parcels have filled my time lately and I've been sadly parted with the beautiful images of the past that I so love - until now anyway!

In the last few weeks I've managed again to go digging in old books where I'm always delighted to find gorgeous, usable images that take me back in time whilst I work on bringing them back into the present day where they can be used and enjoyed once more.

These images definitely won't disappoint - sumptuous watercolour images of stained glass windows from the Art Nouveau period.  Many of them are in Mackintosh style which is so 'in' at the moment.  Take a look.....

These are just 3 of 460 gorgeous stained glass elements that appear on our Art Nouveau Stained Glass Designs public domain DVD.  You'll be able to take any of the images on our DVD and make them into any product you like, either for personal use or for sale.  Yes, for sale - COMMERCIAL USE IS FINE!

Just click on the link and you will see loads more examples of all the images on this disc - just think of what you could make with these fantastic images!

If you missed it here's the link again - Out of Copyright Art Nouveau Stained Glass Designs 

Sunday, 26 October 2014

A return to glorious Art Nouveau (FREE picture)

We've finally had a bit of a slow-down in the orders for the Debbi Moore Santa Claus box (not that I'm complaining!) so I'm actually able to turn my mind back to Art Nouveau again.

This is the image that features on the box image of our Art Nouveau DVD.  This is by Paul Berthon who lived from 1872-1909.  No age, is it?

I love this image, beautiful - I think the style of the lady is just gorgeous, very 'of the age' but she also has a touch of medieval about her which reminds me very much of Pre-Raphaelite art (which I love). 

There's another Paul Berthon image on our DVD which I have on my lounge wall which I think has even more of the medieval style about it.

In honour of my little trip into Art Nouveau, I've put together an offer for both this DVD and our Art Deco fashion disc for just £9.99.  Fabulous images, love 'em!  You can see our offer here.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Debbi Moore's Santa Claus Inspiration in a Box

Even the best-laid plans get thwarted sometimes, but for a good reason this time.... 

There I was on a cheeky little Art Nouveau trip when Debbi Moore's Santa Claus Inspiration in a Box suddenly landed on us.  Much as I love walking the art history trail, stuffing envelopes with Debbi Moore's tasty offering has got in the way!

Before I go back to Art Nouveau, just a little bit about this lovely craft tidbit first....

Lovely product - don't know how she manages to do it so cheaply!  Lovely glossy magazine complete with TWO CDs - all the stuff to print on one whilst the other contains project videos so you can see exactly how to create all the projects.  The magazine already contains all the papers you need to create the cards, the CD gives you all the stuff again to print as many times as you want.

You also get metallic card, additional A4 papers, ribbons and gems, die-cut toppers and tissue paper, all for just £9.99!

We've sold so many of these it's unbelievable!  But we knew we would.... the Shabby Chic Cottage Garden Inspiration in a Box has already been a best-selling product so we knew the Santa one would be a winner!

Sad thing is, this one is a Limited Edition and once our stock's gone, that will be it. Shame, but that means you've just gotta get a move on!

Click here to secure yours!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Get your business head on (FREE picture of course!)

When I first started our original craft business (Mad about Cards) in 2002, I bought lots of things that I would use myself.  

I'd made lots of cards using pom-poms and pipe-cleaners which had always sold very well; caterpillar cards made with yellow and green pom-poms (very 'Hungry Caterpillar' in style!) and fairies using white pipe-cleaners for legs and arms, a white pom-pom for the head and a dress made of what we called sparkle paper.  These were tried and tested designs that I'd always sold a lot of at craft fairs and to friends.

So, when we started selling craft supplies, the pom-poms and pipe-cleaners, to me at least, were essential stock.

What I discovered though, was that these things aren't essential stock to most other people - they didn't sell and we ended up putting most of the colours in the first sale that we had.

Something I never wanted to sell was peel-off stickers.  Why?  Because I didn't like them. Rubber stamps were in the same category - I wasn't a stamper so I wasn't keen to stock them.

I was wrong.  

When you're in business you must put your personal preferences to one side and go with what sells.  You won't necessarily know what sells to start with but you dabble, try something out and see if it works.  And if you get a bite, you go deeper into that area until you, perhaps, reach a saturation point.

We ended up with hundreds and hundreds of designs and colours of peel-offs and masses of rubber stamps and stamping equipment at MAC, we sold loads of the things.

The point here is probably obvious - don't think about yourself and what you like when you want to make money out of something, think about your market and who you can be selling to.

Our public domain discs each contain hundreds of pictures that you can take and use for anything.  I compile each one on a theme so you'll know, ball-park at least, what you'll be getting!  Some pictures I love, some I like but I can't think of a use for them perhaps, some I might even not like but I could see how they would be useful.  Not everyone likes the same thing, as the pom-pom and pipe-cleaner examples proves.

BUT, I know they are worth so much in terms of what you can make and sell using those pictures.  As well as the obvious things such as card-making items, calendars, prints etc., I've been examining some of the shabby chic things in the shops lately.

The things that particularly come to mind are signs and clocks with an altered art/collage-type background - these look amazing and would be so easy to put together with a few basic graphics program skills.

Anyway, enough rambling.  Well, almost..... Did you know that it's a Jules Chéret poster that appears in the girls' apartment in Friends?

In fact, I've spotted more Chéret posters in other apartments whilst watching the programme too.  His stuff I love!

You can see more examples of what's on our Art Nouveau Posters DVD here.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

British Art Nouveau with FREE Aubrey Beardsley picture

As I said yesterday, Art Nouveau isn't just about French Art Nouveau, which is what would spring to mind for most people.

British Art Nouveau was a lot less ornate - it was 'new art' because it was different from what had come before.  Art had perhaps always been heavy oil paintings with lots of dark colours before the rise of movements such as Impressionism - Art Nouveau was yet another new style which was modern, fresh and exciting.

I'm a big fan of Aubrey Beardsley's work although there isn't a great deal of it, especially not in colour, as he died at the very young age of just 25 of TB.

If I had a room with yellow accents, this would be straight in a frame and up on the wall - shame!  Actually, my study is just plain white with a wood floor - I could do it.... must go, something to do!

If you love Art Nouveau you'd be mad not to take a look at our Art Nouveau public domain DVD.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Art Nouveau - FREE uncompressed picture included

I've been reading the marketing book again which inspired me to completely re-write our website blurb on our Art Nouveau DVD.  It definitely sounds far more inspirational now although I'm sure it will get more tweaks yet.

The bad thing about it is that I'd previously taken time to write quite a lot about Art Nouveau, but that's now all gone in favour of - well, more dynamic marketing-type speak now!  If you want to read our new blurb, you can take a look here.

You can guess what's coming.... shame to waste it so here it is in all its glory!

Art Nouveau is an international philosophy and style of art, architecture and applied art, especially in the decorative arts, that was most popular from around 1890 through to the outbreak of World War I.  The name 'Art Nouveau' is French for 'new art', also known as Modernisme in Spain, Jugendstil in Germany (German for 'youth style' or the 'style of youth'), Modern in Russia and Secession in Austria.

The evolution of the poster was due to the development of printing techniques that allowed for cheap mass production and printing, including notably the technique of lithography which was soon followed by chromolithography, which allowed for mass editions of posters in vibrant colours to be printed.

By the 1890s the technique had spread throughout Europe.  Jules Chéret is considered to be the father of the Art Nouveau advertising poster.  He is said to have introduced 'sex' in advertising or, at least, to have exploited the female image as an advertising ploy.  In contrast to the often muted colours representing the seedier side of Paris night-life painted by Toulouse-Lautrec, Chéret's bright colours and laughing feminine figures brought a new conception of art as being of service to advertising (a bit like Simon Cowell using the TV to sell records!).

Posters soon transformed the thoroughfares of Paris into the art galleries of the streets. Their commercial success was such that some of the artists were in great demand and theatre stars personally selected their own favourite artist to do the poster for their upcoming performance.  The popularity of poster art was such that in 1884 a major exhibition was held in Paris.

By the 1890s, poster art had spread to other parts of Europe as well as in Paris, advertising everything from the theatre, actresses and the performing arts through to bicycles and bullfights.

What I probably see as the epitome of Art Nouveau are the posters of Alphons Mucha, who I wrote about a day or two ago.  His work is extremely ornate and detailed although his colours are perhaps more muted than Chéret's happy, dancing ladies.  Art Nouveau was a lot less ornate in both the UK and US, Aubrey Beardsley and Dudley Hardy leading the way here, whilst Edward Penfield was the prime Art Nouveau artist in America.

So many names and lovely pictures - hard to choose which one to show but I've settled on a Chéret.  

This one, Fête des Fleurs, is interesting as the background is very much in the style of Toulouse-Lautrec with its muted colours, whilst the foreground is pure Chéret.

By the way, this is an example of the quality of the images on our Art Nouveau DVD - another 249 on there!