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Inside/Outside group exhibition at The Eye Leicester

You may have noticed that I have been rather quiet here on my blog! Well, it is for good reason – I have been working away on a gallery project with friend and fellow artist Moira Robinson! It was a voluntary project and we were lucky enough to be loaned an amazing space for 6 months by the local Adult Education College. Soon we had 48 artists have faith in us and came on board, and we were assisted by 4 hardworking group coordinators who helped us in ways too innumerable to mention….. I won’t ramble on here, as there is far too much to say in one blog post – we had 5 stunning shows: one group one to start the project featuring all 48 artists, then 4 themed shows featuring 12 of the 48 artists, the exhibitions to be based on various themes which were chosen by the artists – Strong/Fragile, Light/Dark, Urban/Rural and finally Inside/Outside. To read more about this amazing project, please visit our blog – there is a plethora of wonderful material over there.

My show was the last in the series and I exhibited alongside 11 extremely talented artists from a range of disciplines, from Millinery to Felt-making to Ceramics. It was a really diverse show, with something to suit everyone’s taste and inclinations. To read more about the curation of the show, and see more of the other artists, we have written a blogpost about it over on The Eye Leicester. Here are a few sneaky peeks for you to see…….

Jane Sunbeam - Inside/Outside Panorama

Jane Sunbeam Panorama

 

 

Chris Allsopp Panorama

I chose the group with the theme Inside/Outside as I wanted to explore nests and burrows as a starting point. But, as time progressed, the work became far more embroiled in storytelling and personal narratives. Each piece involved a link to the inner world of our daydreams or inner lives, some from our childhood and others are secret dreams that we drift of to as adults.

Over the next few weeks I will add more posts about the processes and thoughts involved in the creation of these pieces, but for now, here are some pictures from the show itself – a reminder of all the happy memories, and a peek of the show for all those who missed it…….

 

Sadly the show is now over – it passed so quickly as I was so busy with the publicity and showing visitors around the show! Five weeks seemed like a long time when we were planning it, but with the Launch to organise, and Meet the Artist events and daily publicity on social media I barely blinked as it whooshed past. I feel twinges of sadness now that the whole project is over, but shall look back with great fondness on this project and all the wonderful things that have happened during that time.

I loved seeing each and every show, seeing how they each one took on it’s own voice, presenting a very different show each time it changed. It was a full on project, and there is no way it would have worked without everyone involved working so hard. I have found it a truly inspiring experience – and have learnt so much and been inspired by so many talented artists. It was very humbling that so many Leicester and Leicestershire artists wanted to take part. And now I have many of these artists as friends, confidants and mentors – which was a truly wonderful bonus to the project. Especially, as for me, I wanted this project to be more than the artwork on the wall – I wanted it to enrich the artistic community in Leicester.

If you wish to contact me  regarding purchasing a piece of work, exhibition opportunities or a personal commission please email me: thesunbeams @ btinternet.com

Thankyou.

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The First Flowers of Summer.

The Spring is ending, the bulbs have finished their glorious display and I am looking forward to what the Summer brings. My group show (with 11 other very talented artist/makers) which is based on the theme of Inside/Outside at The Eye is going well, with a number of sales and potential commissions. Many people have been interested in a particular piece especially when they realise it is embroidered – and many have been asking how it was done and the layering involved, which is always lovely.

So here is a little history of that particular piece:

This was my first attempt at screen-printing in quite a few years, so I was excited and nervous at the same time. Because of practicalities I opted for paper stencils and the monotype of screen-printing. Here are a few images of the images being created…….

laying on the paint
Layering on the paint

More layers

 

Final Print
The Final Print

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Screenprints mocked up into fabric design

But I felt that something was missing. Although it worked as a design, and I had always intended to work it up different ways, to experiment and to push this image forwards. And so I took a “failed” print,  added colour, more colour, and some fun flicked texture. And then some embroidery. And more embroidery, with a tad more embroidery. I was finally started to get the richness I was yearning.

 

The process of giving depth and texture to the work

It was hard to know when to stop with this image regarding the embroidery – but I wanted to convey the feeling that one would feel in a Cottage Garden, with borders spilling over with flowers. So I added a few more flowers, collaged and embroidered them, and even used masking tape on the back of the work to hold the tearing paper together whilst I added yet more stitches. But eventually it could take no more stitches, with the needle jamming in the paper, and I finally felt I had achieved my desired richness and it was time to stop.

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The back of the Sunflower – you can spot the masking tape as it is gradually added to reinforce the paper. 

 

The final artwork - Summer Flowers
The final artwork – Summer Flowers

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Artwork on show at the Inside/Outside show at The Eye Exhibition Project

To see the piece, and the rest of the work in the exhibition please come along to The Old Libraries Gallery at Leicester Adult Education College. To find out more please visit our official blog – theeyeleciester.wordpress.com

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Saying YES!

Hello there!

Thankyou to all the visitors since my rather long (ahem) absence. Truth be told, I’ve been saying “yes” lots to some exciting projects…some larger, some smaller.

My first “yes” was this cup a dear friend and writer asked me to create for a project she was working on. We had shared rather a magical afternoon over tea and biscuits, discussing our favourite books, illustrators and picturebooks etc. This was the cup she had become rather entranced by, and asked me to capture the essence of it for her project. This dear friend had supported me greatly through my Ma, so I leapt at the chance to say thankyou.

Jane Sunbeam - Magical cup of tea
Final piece in sketchbook for “A Magical Cup of Tea” project

This little piece of thanks grew into rather a good companion, and every time I drank from my cup, I thought of the faith my friend had in me and my work and our magical time together. And as the image sat beside me and the Ma show loomed ever nearer, I needed to think of designs for business cards and publicity postcards – I knew which image to choose, and this little illustration took on a new lease of life – joining me on the next stage of my journey.

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Publicity postcard

So, why this post now? Well, it’s a year since it’s creation, and I meant to write about it at the time, but so much was happening, and also it started the pattern of ‘yesses’, that has lead to exciting times, so it seemed apt to revive myself with this particular cup of tea.

If you wish to see more glimpses of my latest projects, please do visit my Instagram page…

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Meet Pepe – #WorldBookDay

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Pepe’s Amazing Tale – I hope one day a child with be reading this book on World Book Day

Happy #WorldBookDay to you all from myself and Pepe! Some fellow illustrators have felt like they have had a “world book week” so I am not too late…..(I am good at being late, you may notice a pattern here, but I am getting better at being less late! It all takes practice).

I’ve seen so many lovely bookish things this week – visiting the library where I used to do the craft activities at the toddler times, seeing old faces, and the now grown children dressed up as their favourite characters from books. For me, books can transport us to magical places, give us much needed knowledge and information, educate us, and inspire our dreams and aspirations. They do not require batteries or chargers, and can be gifted to a stranger we meet or a dear friend – to be returned or to be passed on and on around the world, gathering marks of its journey – folded pages and tears, rips and drink stains.  I have had fascinating discussions about how a book involves a commitment – if its only one of a few taken on holiday, we take the time to read through the more challenging pages, rather than skipping through the list of 50 books on our ereader to find an easier or lighter read. For me, there is something magical about the form of the book – that yellowing of the pages, and the mustiness that comes with age, or where it resides in an old bookshop filled to the rafters with lost books awating new homes.

Long live the book, and once again, have a great World Book time! Wherever and whenever it may be……..

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Second viewing – Cambridge

Well, my second show is now underway – this time all the wonderful work from the Ma Children’s Illustration students are up at the Ruskin Gallery, Cambridge until the 5th March.

Here, due to less space I decided to put less work up, and to fully concentrate on displaying  my prints (collagraphs).

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Work up in the Ruskin Gallery Ma show. Less is more? Or sparse and empty? We need to look at the bigger picture…

 

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A side view of my work

It an odd feeling that at this, my final show I opt to put up so few pieces, and truth be told, my heart, which is full of fun and clutter and all things interesting, wanted to fully fill my space. To cram it full of images of Pepe, and of images from my other books, as I did in my London show (no regrets there as there have been lots of interesting leads to follow up) but I wanted to give these prints a proper viewing, and so my “artist” kicked in – telling me to allow these prints to breathe – to encourage passers by to stop, to look, to pause and take in the details within my intricate prints – some of which take several days to create. And although in isolation (the top image) I feel that the display looks so sparse, when they are looked at next to the colour of it’s neighbour, the display works – the images bounce off each other.

I think what my tired brain (for I am tired after two shows and completing the Ma) is trying to say, is that often one has to carefully choose which work to show, and to match  work to the space, and to not always let the heart rule one’s mind.

And so to the show. For those who can’t make it to the show here’s a sneaky peek…..

Rapunzel in the Tower - An Illustration? A Print? Fine Art? All 3?
Rapunzel in the Tower collagraph on display

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The beautiful gallery space. Well worth a visit to spot the illustrators of the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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London Ma Show

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Here are a couple of pictures from the show…Sadly Gertie did not get to hold the pens for the comments book (there were a lot of lovely children who wanted to meet her, but she felt it was safer to sit and watch from above!). More pictures to follow, along with insides from the books. Its odd that this time last week it was all up and had a day of visitors, and now it’s over. But, it was worth it, with lots of great feedback and possibilities. But for now I am having a much needed rest…….

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Gertrude gets ready for the show

Well, I have done it – my journey of the Master’s is almost over, my work is back and its lovely being reunited with it all after such a long time. I have passed, and am now looking forward to the final show and the future.

I’ve been busy selecting work, and mounting some on foamboard (Thankfully I found a company that prints onto the foamboard for you, as that was one job I was not looking forward to…….), and the rest are framed up ready to be shipped off to the show in their gleaming white frames (sadly I was too busy to photograph the framing session).

My business cards have arrived too…. but that’s in another post.

The reason for my posting today is that I have a little friend who is desperate to say Hello…. Everyone, please meet Gertrude (She was named two years ago, so please forgive the connection with Hurricane Gertrude). We are working on a book together called Gertrude and The Moon and she will be appearing at the show. However, she does get a tiny bit bored, so we agreed on a job  for her to do – it is to look after the pencil for the comments book.

Jane Sunbeam textiles (1)
Gertrude

But a bit like the adorable Phoebe in Friends, (when she was allocated the task of looking after ice) Gertrude thoroughly went to town and decided that one pencil was not enough (and she needed to wear her crown!)…….so over to her.

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Look, I can hold a pencil, and more than one. I really can….
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Look, I can hold a pen too…

 

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Perhaps not. I’ll stick to one or two pencils.     Please come and visit me at the show!
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After the Party

Well…. it’s almost halfway through the month and I finally have the time to wish you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR. I hope it was wonderful and that the new year brings you all great adventures and happiness.

I have been busily working away on the Ma hand in for my last module, and have just uploaded images to the Ma website for the final show in London. Its all incredibly exciting. Please do visit the site – there you can see not only my work, but that of all my lovely fellow students. I feel very privileged to be surrounded by so many talented people.

But for now, here is After the Party – an image started whilst doodling in my local, drinking tea. Its wonderful for drawing people, as there is a Zebra crossing outside the large windows.

Initial sketch
Initial sketch….

I wanted to show that the magical world of the child is everywhere. I think the original child was in school uniform and I thought “what if……..?” The greys show the world as some see it – mundane, but for many of us, it is not – it is full of colour, magic and intrigue. I would love to be this girl and wearing her cat costume.

Jane Sunbeam Childrens (31)

 

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Happy Yule – a card for you all

Happy Yule! It is now less that a week to Christmas, but for me, the most important date is the Winter Solstice (this year its on 21st December) where the days are their shortest in the Northern Hemisphere. From Tuesday , slowly at first then ever faster, the days get longer and longer until the Summer Solstice, and then the days retreat. These dark, bleak days are really brightened by seeing the sparkles of Christmas trees (Yule Trees) in everyone’s homes, and decorating our homes with greenery. As this festive period will be spent mainly at my desk working for the last few weeks on my Ma I have a beautiful vase of greenery – fir, holly, gold leaves and sparkly fir cones – so I feel very festive indeed!

My vase of greenery to brighten up my desk
My vase of greenery to brighten up my desk, complete with hanging robin

So, for you all, Happy Yule – and here is my card to you all…..  I designed it to look like a spread in a picturebook, so when the card is opened full you see the page and the text. It is based on the Earth being seen as a person, and as she goes to sleep to rest,  the animals wait patiently for her to wake once again.

Yule Card from Jane Sunbeam
Yule Card from Jane Sunbeam

I feel that I am now starting to understand the translucency and layering that can be achieved with watercolours – my anthem is still dilute, dilute and then dilute some more….

Watercolour underpainting
Watercolour underpainting

It’s a bit hard to see all the details, so here are a few…..

Sleeping Gaia
Sleeping Gaia
Jane Sunbeam detail
Animals waiting – can you spot the hedgehog playing on its back?
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Gaia and the owls
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Owls and Squirrel
As she slept.....
As she slept…..

So, Happy Christmas, Yule and Solstice to you all. I hope you have a wonderful festive period, and as the Sun returns you enjoy great warmth in your hearts.

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My Catalogue page – Mermaid

Hello there! How time is still flying past….

I am still working away on a few projects as ‘ the end of the Ma. Today I want to share the image I created for the design for my  page for the Ma show catalogue. Initially I looked at all my images that I loved, but none sang out to me as ‘the one’. And as mermaids are close to my heart I decided to make a special image for this occasion – after all it was going to go out to some exciting places (publishers, our show, reviewers, past and current students).

I started, as I always do with a sketch, and then decided to bring her to life using watercolours (various makes but Daniel Smith in particular)….

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My mermaid with background

But I had made the background far too “heavy” – and the horizon too high, almost chopping her at the head. So I tried taking the background out, to leave room for my contact details….

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No background – but too plain?

But, rather like Goldilocks who was seeking the right chair, porridge  and bed, it was now “too plain”. Where was she gazing to? What was happening? Where was the drama or narrative? And so I created a second background to add in – and scanned on a couple of different settings…..

And then put them together….

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Final image, with lighter background and lower horizon

Now there is a narrative, and questions to draw the reader in. Where is she gazing?is the ship coming or leaving? I will never know whether this was the right image for the catalogue… but I believe it is.

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Cover Art and Owls

It been a busy week since my last post, as I have been manically working on pieces for hand in, but also I was brave and put work into the competition for the front page of our Ma graduation catalogue for the London show (I submitted 2 in the end). They were not selected, but the image chosen is beautiful (more on that nearer the time).

So, for this week’s post I thought I would take you through the hundreds of choices I made to get to the final covers.

1a
It started with this little Owl, (made using Daniel Smith Watercolours).
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Some of his details were picked out using machine embroidery.
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I thought he was a little lonely, so added in some parents.
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And a background
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then played with many different layouts
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and added leaves
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then played some more digitally, adding in more leaves and moving the moon
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and adding shadows for more depth
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But it felt too much, so the moon was removed…..
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…..and the leaves. But I didn’t like them all looking so directly out of the image…..
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And so for more narrative, I asked the parents to go to sleep. They said they would happily do so, as it was rather bright for them.
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And then, for my second image, it worked a bit easier – I chose cats! You know by now I love cats. And for the colours I used the “pipette” to choose the colours from the two cats. Oddly I prefer this to the owls, yet it took a tenth of the time.

So there you go….. 2 finished designs, one with more choices than others. The next piece to be created was for my page inside but more on that in the next posts……..

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And now for some Cats…..

 

Mog and Daniel Smith
Mog…. who is guarding my Daniel Smith “dots”

Cats surround me at the moment, from this delicious little chap (Mog’s doppelganger) who sits at my desk keeping me company whilst I work, to the numerous ones that live around me, many of whom were happy to sit on their front lawns in the late Autumn sun whist I sketched them. Now, there is only one little cat that braves the cold,  sitting on the many sheds watching over his territory. I have always loved  drawing cats, and my favourite book is Andy Warhol’s Cats, Cats, Cats – a copy of which I have treasured for many years.

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My copy of Andy Warhol – Cats, Cats, Cats

I myself have no cats, but have several “friends” I meet when out and about, and  do have my Mog – the perks of illustrating children’s books is that I simply have to buy the toys and the books. It’s all research….. honest!

So now to the stars of this post….. the cats themselves:

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follow me

 

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waiting

and some more cats….. (click for them to appear larger)

An inspiring trip to South Wales, and Sketching.

FeaturedAn inspiring trip to South Wales, and Sketching.

The year is marching on apace…..and now winter is certainly upon us. I am writing warmly curled up in my studio, watching the tree outside dance to the wind’s musical howl. But to backtrack a bit – last month we went to Wales for an inspiring break away. Our cottage was down a mile of track and up the side of a deep ravine. Whilst I was anticipating wonderful sketching daytrips, I did not expect our little cottage to be quite so inspirational…..

The view from our dining table, and late afternoon sketching at Whitesands
The view from our dining table, and late afternoon sketching at Whitesands wrapped up in two cardigans, a scarf, a poncho and a pair of fingerless gloves to keep out the cold.

Whitesands features regularly in my life as I follow the life of the delightfully wonderful Jackie Morris in her blog and other writings. Her work is full of the magic of Wales, but also otherworldly places and people. It was a bit of a pilgrimage (sadly she was away on tour) and I was lucky enough to see originals of her work and prints at Solva Woolen Mill. I was so excited and longed to stay forever. Sadly that was not allowed so I satisfied myself with a signed copy of her latest book Wild Swans, and a calendar. Not quite the same as original artwork, but just as beautiful!

Jackie Morris - Wild Swans
Jackie Morris – Wild Swans

On other days we explored the countryside and coastlines, and visited Laugharne, the home of Dylan Thomas for many years, and thanks to a good push up the hill from my husband, we got to see his writing shed (apparently smartened up now, as the walls were too yellow from his smoking). Nonetheless, it was still full of atmosphere, and I could imagine him walking straight in and pondering on another play for voices.

(Top) Dylan Thomas' Boat House, the view. (Middle and Bottom) Sketching materials and more sketches
(Top) Dylan Thomas’ Writing Shed, the view from his shed.
(Middle and Bottom) Sketching materials and more sketches

It was such an inspiring trip and I drew constantly each day…in a way that often the day to day does not allow. I was even so inspired by the new boots I found in St Davids, that I simply had to paint one of them…….

A Watermill, New Boot(s), A man looking for crabs in the river, and imaginative piece. I was certainly inspired.

And Finally…

Thankyou to all my visitors. I noticed some from North and Eastern America and Australia popping up, so “Hello” around the world.

Hello from me!
Hello from me! All wrapped up in the ever accompanying poncho!
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Paris in Autumn

Two years ago I was lucky enough to go to Paris for a very special birthday. I had just started the Masters, and was rediscovering sketching. Now, with the fine tuning learnt from my many hours of drawing, and inspired by Beatrice Alemanga’s A Lion in Paris  I took the time to open the sketchbook filled with memories and revisit the very sketchy sketches. All were done in greyscale so as to focus on the image making, although at some point I do intend to use these sketches to create ones flooded with colour.

1 interior
Interior
2 Nearing the Tower
Nearing the Tower
3 Ever nearer
Ever Nearer

Looking Up to Look Down

Choices
Choices
Happiness is a Balloon
4C
Trepedation
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Up the Steps

And now for other unfinished sketches…….other sketchbook pages 5 hands are full

Getting connected (and living with self doubt).

Hello all, thankyou once again for visiting this site, and my blog. Its been a while, and I have somewhat failed in my weekly blogs – it seemed such an easy idea – a blog a week, but my goodness, Self Doubt has been sitting quietly by my side the past few weeks (as it does with so many creative people – perhaps we can organise a Self Doubt group for them to play whilst we work away). Not especially about my work (I think self doubt is often part of the territory and is what pushes us to keep creating and striving to make artworks), but about whether this blog is worth writing and whether it adds anything to the mass of amazing blogs that are out there.

I often think of this little thing of Self Doubt that sits beside me as a little timid character – I shall draw him one day- almost like that in Gorey’s “The Doubtful Guest”. Seeing it as this character makes it easier to understand, to empathise with, and to usher out for a walk so that I can work.

Edward Gorey, the Doubtful Guest
Edward Gorey’s The Doubtful Guest – really worth getting a copy of as it is full of dark Gorey’s archetypal illustrations, combined with his famous dark humour In prose, Gorey tells the tale of character that comes to live with a family, engages in all sorts of antisocial antics, yet the family cannot rid themselves of it, and one can see the family growing darker as their guest stays and never leaves.

But, Self Doubt has gone for a walk in the sunshine today (it normally does not like sunny days and happiness – I normally escape it by going out, so the reversal is rather encouraging, perhaps Self Doubt is transforming itself into a jollier character).  and I realise I like the blogging process, and to have people reading it is a plus and a bonus.

So, whilst I have not been here blogging, I have been busy on my other sites, getting connected with the many different social media platforms that are out there –  and perhaps dear reader, you are contemplating whether or not to try a certain social media platform, here is a rough guide from my perspective. Naturally, read the small print about copyright etc before making the choice as to whether it is worth the exposure and connections you gain.

So, if you haven’t seen a blog from me for a while, do check me out in these other places:

Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/JaneSunbeamIllustration/ Whilst I do like FB, I struggle to get new followers on it – and have been told that even those following me say they don’t often get updates. Unless you follow and click “get notifications” and then “see first” it is harder to get your profile out there. But for building up a good library of images over time, I must say, it is a great, and for those who do “like”, and who get the notifications, they will see me in their newfeed. So, please, if you are reading this blog, please skip over to FB too,  “Like”, “get notifications” and “see first”.

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I am also on Twitter https://twitter.com/JaneSunbeam

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I also have a website http://www.janesunbeam.co.uk/janehome.html Although I am very happy with  (and dare I say proud of) my website, and feel that it represents my work well (and having toiled for many hours on it) by providing a professional introduction for potential clients. It gives an overview of the mediums in which I work, and my teaching work with each page having a  gallery which autoplays and can be halted on an image. Each page also has with a mini statement on it, giving  the visitor comprehensive information on me and my work. But like many, I deem it a “static” way of interacting with it – it provides no statistics of views, or countries, and as complex site I only update it annually for fear of it crashing.Screen Shot 03-31-16 at 04.20 PM

My newest social media platform is Instagram and so far I have found it extremely useful. As you can see from the screenshot, it is so visual right from the outset, with the “likes” and comments popping up as one hovers over the image. Screen Shot 03-31-16 at 04.19 PM 001I have only been on it a week or so, but found it very user friendly, and so easy to search for others to follow, and to make connections. Also, as it was initially developed for the phone user, I find it so easy to use when out and about, and one thing in particular that I like is that other artists post works in progress, and so it is a very useful learning platform aswell as being one for me to show my work. I know of many artists/makers who now use IG to notify of items for sale in Etsy (another platform I am working on) and even selling directly from IG. Further reading can be found here in this useful article by the Agora Gallery. The # (hashtags) make it easy to connect work and ideas too, and from my researches, the # is a huge part of the posting – with some Instagrammers using up to a whopping 28 #’s!

So I will bid you goodnight from here – as I slip over to Instagram to post a picture or two…..and I shall return to write more on another sunny day……….