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, future exhibition opportunities or a personal commission please email me: thesunbeams @ btinternet.com



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

Jane Sunbeam, flowers fabric.jpg
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.

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

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


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.

6 time for tea.jpg
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…

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”.

Screen Shot 03-31-16 at 04.21 PM

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

Screen Shot 03-31-16 at 04.19 PM

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……….





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)



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)….

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….

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….

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.

My New Website…..

Gosh, time is flying by, and it’s been a while since I posted. Summer is passing, and yesterday I smelt the first odour of Autumn waft past – faint, but on nevertheless on its way, with trees taking on the first hint of their bright and vibrant cloaks they will wear for the next few months.

I have always found it such an exciting time, of new beginnings and chapters in our lives – children are now back to school, rising gradually through the year groups, and students are embarking on adventures to new cities to start universities and placements. Such anticipation.

And I too am about to embark on the final year of my Masters – a journey which has gone far too quickly – rather like an express train than a slow steam train. So, in my time away  from you on this blog I have been busy preparing for this year by creating artwork (the next blog post I promise), but also doing a long overdue update  on my website. I have created so much work that I wanted to include, with many little friends and characters that demanded their places on it, their pleas too loud to ignore.

the opening page of my site

The Opening Page of My New Site

There was a lot to think about with this site, as I have so much that I wanted to show the world and include in it, yet also show a commonality through all my creations – from my textile designs, narrative paintings and prints through to my illustration pieces. Despite the many ways of working, the theme is there – magic! Whether it is transforming the world into a more magical place using textiles, exploring magical and Wiccan themes or seeing the world through children’s eyes, it is magic that binds them all together.

Sometimes I have been asked why I do not choose one technique and focus on it. My answer was that rather than distracting from each other, these varied ways of working compliment and feed each other. Many of the artists I identify with (Leonora Carrington, Gustav Klimt, Mac Chagall and Frida Kahlo ) felt the same – designing costumes/clothing, writing plays, and, as with Frida, her physical presence becoming as recognised as an icon just as much as her paintings. There are so many ways to express ourselves – and I choose the most appropriate one for my theme or narrative.

When defining the pages for the website I really struggled as to what to call them – Fine Art, Paintings, Drawings? And also, how to classify certain pieces – was it a painting  an illustration? Some pieces were over a meter tall, and were created to go on the wall, so surely not an illustration?  Yet they have been used as book covers, and in contrast smaller sketchbook pieces were completed and framed as artworks. It was not an easy task, but I hope that the visitor to the site sees the headings as loose guides rather than strict boundaries.

At the AllotmentAt the Allotment – sketchbook page

I suppose here I must ask, what is Illustration, and what makes it so different from Fine Art, if indeed there is a difference? According to Toni Fitzgerald, the lines thankfully between the two are blurring, with finally, acknowledgement that there is indeed a  “Fine Art” element in illustration. And with the trend of many illustrators being both the author/illustrator they are more able to chase the personal muses and ideals that Fine Artists (supposedly) had the freedom to chase. So thankfully, in my opinion one no longer has to choose which field to pitch their tents in…. the fence is down and the gate is open…..

 And as we can see from artists such as Shaun Tann, Oliver Jeffers, James Mayhew, Catherine Rayner, Catherine Hyde  and  Jackie Morris there are plenty of stunning artists who make, draw, design, paint and sew beautiful creations that are used in a myriad of different ways and who do not limit themselves to one field or an other. They are artists, as am I.

Rapunzel in the Tower – An Illustration? A Print? Fine Art? All 3?