Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Jessie Willcox Smith with FREE fantastic pictures!

Jessie Willcox Smith (1863-1935) was a lady determined to succeed in a male-dominated world.  She was originally training to be a kindergarten teacher but began painting after acting as chaperon in an art lesson given by her female cousin to a male pupil.  She took part in the lesson and discovered that she had a flair for it, so much so that she ended her teacher-training and enrolled in the School of Design for Women.  She soon realised that the school had little to offer her that would prepare her for an art career so she transferred to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from where she began her career as an illustrator.

She quickly established that she couldn't survive doing freelance work alone so she went to work in the advertising department of the Ladies' Home Journal.  The turning point in her career came following participation in the first ever illustration class offered by the Drexel Institute of Arts and Sciences in Philadelphia.  This class was being taught by the master of illustration, Howard Pyle.

Pyle impressed upon her the need to become involved in the story and characters that she was painting.  Jessie became his most successful female student.  In 1898 she quit her job at the Ladies' Home Journal to concentrate on her career as an illustrator.  She quickly began to work for some of the leading periodicals of the period such as Collier's, Scribner's Magazine and Century amongst others.

Although many of her pictures depict the joy of motherhood and childhood, Jessie never actually married.  Her lifelong goal was to be a successful artist.  Most of the big children's books of the time were illustrated by men - the work of women generally appeared in the lesser-known books that just couldn't compete with the very successful titles.  Time and time again the most prestigious assignments were given to men, so when a woman embarked on a career as an illustrator, her future was uncertain.

Jessie Willcox Smith was one woman who did break into this male-dominated world which was an immense accomplishment.  

Jessie's works include 15 years working for Good Housekeeping magazine, her work appearing on more than 180 covers (likely earning about a quarter of a million dollars for this work); Charles Kingsley's 'The Water Babies'; Joanna Spyri's 'Heidi'; Louisa May Alcott's 'Little Women'; Clement C. Moore's 'Twas the Night before Christmas' and Charles Dickens's 'Dickens Children'.

You can see our card-making products that we've made using Jessie Willcox Smith images here:- and here

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Free Digital Stamps - Cricketers

It's a bit of a surreal day for me.  My son, who's 13, collapsed after school yesterday and we had to call an ambulance.  He was unconscious for about half an hour which was all very scary.  They kept him in last night and Andy's up there with him now. He seems to be fine and all tests have come back clear but it's a worry nonetheless.  No doubt he'll be back later and will return to the monosyllabic grunts as per usual - although this has made him quite chatty for a change!

Anyway, back to topic.  I have set myself the task of slowly scanning all of the pictures in my vast collection of old picture books and arranging them into files.  These images are from a 1930s/40s boys' annual and they would be good to use as digital stamps - just print and colour with Pro-markers, watercolours, coloured pencils etc.

Monday, 3 September 2012

La Pashe Christmas Crackers

We've got some lovely new decoupage sheets this week that will make humorous cards this Christmas.

These fab La Pashe sheets are available to download and use NOW - get yours and get started on your Christmas cards tonight at

Saturday, 1 September 2012

A trip to Amsterdam

We've been away in the last week to Amsterdam and a jolly nice time we had too!  We went with 8 of our neighbours so I must say more time was spent in bars than taking in the culture but we're back now to detox.

The things I liked best in Amsterdam were the lovely 17th century houses that line all the canals out there.  Elegantly tall and thin but crooked, leaning and skew-with - so interesting.

You can see some of the houses in the first picture here.  We're already planning to go back again, perhaps minus the neighbours so we can take in the culture a little more....