16 May 2014

all the young dudes

Finding the time to produce any new artwork has been hard recently. Priorities and other work commitments have made my relationship with my pens, paper and Photoshop a distant one. But look, I've managed to make something! And I made it mostly standing up cos I've got a bad back! I'm pretty pleased with that. It's helped that I've had extra help with the kids from my parents this week. Thanks to them I could do a little extra work. It's surprising what you can fit into a few hours here and there.

I wanted something bright and cheery, maybe for Griffy's room. That's when he actually gets a room and moves out of ours. 

It feels good to have made something new. I'm feeling motivated right now. Guess I better ride that feeling and get shit done!

8 May 2014

it's always me and her and him

I miss being on my own. 

And I feel weirdly guilty saying that, as I'm blessed with lots of wonderful people around me, people that light up my heart and who help make my world a beautiful place. I love those people. I need them, adore them, would do anything for them but...

...but I'm never alone. Those of you with small children will understand that it when I say I'm seriously never alone, not even in the bath, not even on the toilet. If on a crazy whim I close the bathroom door for a few minutes you could set a 20 second timer to the first calls of 'MUMMY?! WHERE ARE YOU?'

I need alone. 

A little space for myself, just for me. That's normal. That's more than normal, that's absobloodylutely necessary.

When I'm not with the kids I'm working with a roomful of students, or joining in with some group event, or watching a film with David, all of which I love and which I wouldn't change for the world... but oh to be given a couple of hours which no one else around. At all.

Maybe it's a post small baby thing; Griff has turned one and as his need for independence increases so does mine. Otherwise I'd be heart broken everytime he took a step away from me. He's still very clingy right now but every now and again he gives me a little shove as if to say 'Back off, I'm busy'. Kids. They do stuff like that. Soon he'll be saying 'Mummy, why are you still here? Go home, I'm seeing Nanna on my own today', just like his big sister does. 

And now I've kind of talked myself around. I'll have plenty of time alone soon enough I guess. But until then maybe I should get a lock for the bathroom door, I think that's an acceptable compromise.

6 May 2014

doing it not right

Griff. He's happy even when I'm feeling like I should be doing something else, so I guess I'm doing something right!
You know that feeling, that insidious, stealthy feeling that whispers you're not doing it right? You get it too, don't you? The one that makes you look at your life, at your home, at your job and at your reflection and think 'oh, bloody hell...'.

I'm always trying to work out the best way to live my life; I sometimes feel like I'm doing a crap job of it, I always feel like I'm doing a crap job of something. Maybe I am. Probably I am. Yep, I am.

What should I do next, what should I do now, what should I have done this morning when the baby was asleep and I had an hour 'free'? (I did some ironing. I'm thinking I should have done some pilates or started writing a novel or something...)

I often feel like I look a wreck. I often feel like my house is a mess. I often feel like I don't earn enough money, that I don't exercise enough, that I should read more, that the kids should be eating more fresh vegetables and less pasta, that I should be living somewhere else and that I should sit on the floor and sing 'Twinkle, Twinkle' with the baby more often.

Christ, it's exhausting. And I could make some bloggy comment now about how I'm going to walk away from that way of thinking and go easy on myself and make a cup of tea and eat a piece of cake and go and cover some pine cones with glitter with the kids but that's bullshit cos I'll still be feeling like it's not enough and I know it would take at least 5 years of therapy to stop thinking that there's a better way to do everything all the time and even then I guess I'd still have my moments. Because I'm human, and I'm female, and I'm a mum. That's why.

So what can we do? Anyone? Why do we do this to ourselves?

16 Apr 2014

Griff is 1


I can hardly believe that it's been year since Griffy was born. A year! I can remember the day he came to join us so clearly; how can a whole twelve months have passed?! Although, in another way it seems like he's been here with us for longer, to think back to when we were a 3 is to cast my mind back to another era, long gone.

He such a dream boat. That's what I call him, and then Edie laughs and says he's her dream boat too.

Griff's birthday was yesterday and we had such lovely day. We went to a children's petting farm set in the most amazingly beautiful landscape and stayed outdoors till bedtime, riding the toboggan ride, taking the tractor tour, bouncing on trampolines, eating ice-cream and lying back on the grass looking up at the blue blue skies. We stopped for chips on the way home and found a lovely spot in the Brecon Beacons to eat them. Edie made us all laugh all day, she was so excited that it was her brother's birthday and to be honest I think she enjoyed the day a little more than the birthday boy did; he was content to sit his chubby bottom down on the picnic blanket with a welsh cake and watch his sister hurtle around the place like a bouncy mad thing.

And so Griff's second year begins. I look forward to watching him grow over the next 12 months, time will fly by once again no doubt but I'm so happy to be spending that time with him by my side.

24 Mar 2014

I like this stuff...

I don't think I've ever posted about a clothes label before but I'm liking the look of this easy to wear stuff from Hush lots right now. I'm not sure on the styling they've used on this shoot, it's not really calling out to me, but I can look past that and there are several items I could really do with for spring/summer 2014. Like the slate trousers below... Don't they look comfy?

I'm a newcomer to Hush clothing, I own only one item of theirs, a grey cashmere beanie that I wore every day through the winter. I LOVE that hat. It's so soft and warm and the perfect slouchy shape. I sometimes worry that at Edie's school I'm known as the 'one who always wears that hat' as it was seriously stuck to my head throughout January and February. Now I've started talking about it I'm tempted to go and get it and put it on right now, yes, I love it that much.

I may get those trousers... And the shorter black dress... Ahh, decisions...

20 Mar 2014

just a Thursday afternoon

Edie is home ill from school for the second day this week. She is ill with a nasty cold but I have the sneaking suspicion she's laying it on a bit thick. It's so hard to judge when kids should stay home and when they should just battle on. She's only 4 though I guess and we all feel rotten with a bunged up nose and a cough don't we? Even a cough that has an element of RADA, The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art to it.

And it was my day off. I had so much planned, but hey ho.

I've been sorting out my prints for an art fair I'm doing on the weekend. Luckily I had lots already prepared or I'd be panicking right around now. I've just made a last minute order for more printer paper so I can produce more of the 'Reading Makes Your World Big' print and also 'The Alphabet' print; I've sold a few of these recently and my stocks are running low.

I hope this art fair will be worth it, the last one I did was very slow. You can never tell with these things. 

Anyway, it seems my ill daughter is in desperate need of a snack so I shall leave you now and go and attend to the invalid. The constantly hungry invalid who miraculously feels better when she is playing on the iPad. 

18 Mar 2014

10 signs of spring; collected, photographed and noted

1• there are buds on the trees and they're starting to blossom. Soon they will be bouncing pink and white bundles of beauty! Fleeting but all the more magical because of that.

daffodils. They are the front line of spring flowers, their bright and cheery yellowness makes the world a better place, don't you think?

birds getting crazy. Something is going on up in the eves of our house. Every year we have a little nest there and we watch the comings and goings. Last year a fledgling's first attempts at flying were unsuccessful and we had a stressful morning trying to keep our dog away whilst trying to coax it out of it's hiding place in the wood pile so it's mum and dad could find it and encourage it to try to fly again. Happily they did find it and it did manage to take flight. Happy ending!

bees. There was a bee in the house; a HUGE one. I picked up a pair of socks I'd left on a radiator by the bedroom window and my hand began to buzz... there was a giant bee in my fist and I didn't scream much at all.

pussy willows. I've just discovered we have them in our garden and I'm so pleased about that. They're fluffy and full of the promise of growth and new things.

ice cream (especially ice cream in the park).

light. Light in the morning and light in the evening. doesn't it make things so much easier?

there are clothes and accessories in the shops that I really like and they are not black, white, navy, grey, sparkly or metallic...

• blue skies and bird song

and finally (but this is maybe my favourite) that smell you catch in the air, the one that smells green and woody and earthy and full of life and sunshine. Oh my goodness, when you catch that smell it's so beautiful.

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like


 Margaret Atwood, Bluebeard's Egg

Spring! The beginning of new things. The awakening of sleepy things. The goodness that light and warmth and new life bring to us all. And it's all happening right now all around us. Enjoy it!

6 Mar 2014

tackling the blog bio...

Okay, time to tackle the blog bio.

This is hard for most of us but especially so for those of us who struggle with bigging ourselves up. Those of us like me. I get red faced whenever someone asks me about my artwork, my writing, or my blog, I almost apologise for it. Yep, I'm that girl. I'm much more confident about the things I create than I used to be but I still have a long way to go.

Basically, I'm rubbish at showing people the things I'm proud of. That sucks right? 

So I'm trying to change that, and my blog bio is as good a place as any to start.

The blog bio is an introduction, a way of telling people quickly and succiently who you are, what you do and why you're here.

There's no room for being coy or running yourself down. You need to lay your cards on the table and tell people what you've got that they would like or be interested in.

But what should I include?

I began by writing a list of reasons why I blog; why I bother putting all these words and images onto the world wide web for anyone to see. 

And here's that list:

•I do it for social reasons; to meet wonderful people who are a lot like me and amazing people who are very different. 

•I do it because I love to write.

•I do it to promote my artwork, my writing and my shop.

•I do it to create a record of our lives.

•I do it because I believe it makes me focus on what makes me happy and gives me pleasure. 

•I do it because it motivates me and gives me the momentumn to make good things happen. 

What do I need to include in my blog bio that faithfully represents all these aims? What do I need to mention?

So with that question in mind I started typing...

I had a few false starts...

I'm Anna, I'm a mum, I'm a wife....

Um, nope, I was bored already. Start again.

I'm Anna. I make things. I like peonies, walks on windy beaches and Scandi design...

Gah, that just makes me want to slap myself.

And then, just to confuse things, I thought 'do I write in the first person or the third?' 

Anna is a British artist, designer and writer living in a leaky 1920's house in South Wales.

But no, I didn't like it. It's not right for me. I want something more immediate, less disconnected. So I went straight back to first person...

I'm Anna, a British artist, designer and writer living in a nearly renovated 1920's house in South Wales.

Well, that's all true I guess. Makes me cringe a little but that's my problem, right?

I have a business called Goldlion, through which I sell my artwork and products. You can find it here.

My prints are bold and colourful and aimed at both kiddies and adults. I like to make stuff that brightens up walls and makes people happy.


I also run community art groups, a part time job that I love.

I write here, on my blog, as often as I can about my artwork, my children, my home and whatever else takes my fancy.

I try to be kind, to live in the moment, to keep things simple and to laugh as much as possible. I love my family.

In my past lives I've completed an art degree, an MA in Writing: Practice and Issues, and I worked as a freelance writer in London before coming home to Wales.

Now I can bring in the peonies, right?

I love swimming in the sea, starry skies, cheese boards, dancing in the kitchen with my kids and big bloomsy peonies. 

I'm a feminist, a vegetarian and a leftie and I'm proud to be all three.

I love that this blog is my online diary, my portfolio, my gratitude journal, and my place to meet people like you.

If you've got something to say or would just like to say hello you can get me here:


Okay. It's a start. It's a work in progress. Anyone got any tips or is there anything else you'd like to know about? I'd love to hear what you guys think. 

And would any of you like to offer their bios up for inspection? So I can have a nose around? I've checked out quite a few but the more the merrier.

4 Mar 2014

out of puff

image from Life magazine (found on Pinterest)

We had this little routine going over the weekend. We get ready to go somewhere outdoorsy and just as we get in the car it starts hammering down with rain. So we go somewhere where we can drink hot chocolate or lattes and eat cake. 

If we were hardcore outdoorsy people we wouldn't let the lashing rain stop us, would we? No, we'd make ourselves miserable and wet and I'd lose the feeling in the toes of my right foot (that always happens when my feet get cold, it's not nice). 

But we're softies. And when it's tipping down we like sitting down. Inside. With cake. 

The facts of the matter, however, are that I'm not getting enough exercise. The other family members all daily get their heart rates up by various means whilst I'm getting out of puff just popping out to the kitchen for a look in the fridge. 

I've always been *quite* fit but this wet winter combined with me having a baby has seen my opportunities for exercise diminish vastly, but enough excuses, I need to get my wellies and waterproofs on and get out for some early morning dog walks. Or maybe I should do a exercise dvd. Although that sounds more improbable than the dog walking. 

We shall see.

What do you do to get your exercise? I like dancing around the kitchen, maybe I should just up the ante on that and work up a bit of a sweat whilst cooking dinner? Ew, that sounds a bit gross, so maybe not whilst cooking, but dancing in the kitchen, that's the best idea so far.

3 Mar 2014

this baby boy

It's been more than 10 months since this fella came to join us. He's growing fast; look at those teeth! They took a while to pop through but there's no stopping them now. 

Everyone says what a chilled out baby he is and it's true, he's so laid back and smiley, and it's so easy to make him laugh.

Griff loves dancing, bopping away to any music he hears. Then he gives himself a clap and has a little chuckle. 

He's a slow crawler so when he makes a run for it I've not got to panic. He's a very determined fella, just not a sprinter... Bless his chubby legs.

He finds Lola, our dog, hilarious and cracks up laughing whenever he sees her. 

He's terrified of Edie's little rocking horse. Terrified. It's really the only time I see him upset. So we've hidden it out of his way for a while. 

And I, of course, am as madly in love with him as ever.

28 Feb 2014

with open arms


• bluebells • green shoots • longer days • shorter nights • new things • in like a lion, out like a lamb • daffodils • a touch of warmth in the air • but still the chance of frost (or snow) • flasks of tea • woolly jumpers • colour • buds • catkins • lambs • waterproofs • wellies • walks in the woods • goodbye winter • sunsets after 6 • bright things • optimism • light • mud • frogspawn • red sky at night • salty sea air • plan making • green fingers • breton stripes • more outdoors, less indoors • busy days, cosy nights • 

March is here. And about time. 

20 Feb 2014

a song to get things done by

It's been a long, hard week. I've not been outside since Sunday. The kids have been ill, I've been ill, we've all been flopping around the house with aches and pains and runny noses. I've had more than a few moments when I've felt a little stifled; sometimes my patience has been a bit short, sometimes I've had to give myself a kick up the bottom to get myself motivated to cook for the kids, to bath them and keep them in clean pyjamas. So I put on some music that helps me do that.

Like this one here.

It's one of those getting things done songs. 

And you gotta love Karen O, don't you think?

19 Feb 2014


How is it the 19th of February? HOW?!

I'm constantly surprised by the date, the time, the year even.

Winter is almost over, and I'm hoping that's going to mean the weather is going to get better. I'm naive like that. 

What do you want to do when the weather gets warmer?

Last summer I had a tiny baby and so the gorgeous weather we had kind of passed me by. I was in baby mode, I remember a few barbecues in the garden, I remember a couple of days out... um... I remember a baby mostly. Which was clearly the important thing.

But this year... do you think we'll get a little sun for s/s 2014? Because I want to get outdoors. I want to drink wine in the garden, I want to swim in the sea, I want to sit in a beer garden, I want to go bike riding, I want to make the most awesome picnic ever and spend the day in the park with the kids. Normal stuff, but normal stuff that doesn't involve umbrellas (unless they are in a cocktail) (no actually not even in a cocktail, just give me a bottle of wine or a pint of lager, sod the umbrellas full stop).

Because right now it is certainly not looking much like spring. It's looking like it's raining outside and there are ill children lolling around the house wiping their noses on their sleeves. It's looking like it's been 4 days since I've been outside. It's looking like me in a pair of leggings and a stained hoodie trying to sort out the house insurance online. In short it's looking a bit bleurgh.

But these days can't go on forever... we'll get better soon and the weather will get better soon and I'll throw my leggings into the sea and dive in like a mother fucking mermaid.

6 Feb 2014

slap it on

I'm painting again. In little snatched doses. I can coat a canvas in 15 minutes, leave it to dry, return to it later (or even the next day) for an hour or so. It's fine; that way of doing it suits me although it's tough dragging myself away when the baby starts grizzling. 

You know that slogan 'do what you love' (which actually annoys the hell out of me, if only life were so simple), well, I love painting. Just getting stuck in, not thinking about the outcome too much. It's my meditation. 

I get a little high while painting And I don't think it's the fumes. It's the marijuana (note to my mother- that's a joke).

Paint; beautiful, colourful and responsive to my every impulse. 

It's just lush.

5 Feb 2014

the killer draft

image by me, illustration by me...

So my new plan is to work in the evening, to design, blog, make, plan, do and organise after the kids are in bed. And it's tough. I'm lucky to grab an hour or two a couple of evenings a week before I have to drag myself to bed. Griff is teething and not sleeping well right now, which of course means that I'm not sleeping well either. But it is lovely, having an hour or two in the evenings for myself. I feel so content sat at my little desk in a quiet room with a candle on and no one shouting 'MUMMY! I NEED YOU!' Bliss. Our new desk is in it's place in the corner of the middle room. It's very compact and leaves much more space than the last desk to use the rest of the room as we want. But the draft there from the floorboards is beyond cold. It's Arctic. The other night my feet got so icy I got chilblains. And I'm not a person who feels the cold now that I'm a dress size up on 2008. Bloody baby weight. And, erm, bloody cheese.

Anyway, the cold corner. Tonight I'm clever enough to wear slippers.

And a cashmere cardigan helps.

And a hotwater bottle.

And a cup of tea.

And now I'm toasty.

And ready to work...

So I guess that's the cue to sign off.


4 Feb 2014

lipstick, cigarettes and car keys

When I was a small child I loved watching my Nan get ready for a night out. The smell of her perfume (Yves Saint Laurent Paris), her lipstick (Estee Lauder), the cigarettes that she held but rarely puffed on (Regal king size) and the drinks her and her friend Winnie sipped as they chatted (vodka? gin? Not sure), these things make up such strong memories for me. 

To me she was the height of sophistication. 

Remember when you were a child and you got to peep behind the curtain into what you thought was the adult world, that glamorous grown up world that you eventually realise doesn't actually exist at all? The smells, the silky petticoats, the snatched fragments of conversation that only make half sense. For me, the symbol of adulthood above all others was a set of car keys. I wasn't interested in actually using them to drive, I just wanted to jangle them about in a self important way. Of course they had to be my keys, not my dad's or my boyfriend's, that just wouldn't have the same impact. I managed to achieve my ambition at the age of 33, just 16 years after passing my driving test. And yes, it does make me feel like a proper grown up holding those keys, I'm in the club now.

Things that make me feel grown up. 

My kids
My car keys
Having a pot plant that hasn't died yet
Radio 4
Having a dog

Things that make me feel like a kid
My hair
My mess
My parents
In fact, mostly everything else

Is that the same for most of you? 

Do you feel grown up most the time? Or just like me it it only really when holding a set of car keys? 

28 Jan 2014

half an hour

This afternoon the weather can't make up its mind about how it feels. Dark brooding skies, heavy rain, howling wind, blue skies, hello sun... and repeat. I have so much to do. You know that feeling when there's so much to do and so much you want to do and you just don't know where on earth to start? That's my general default feeling at the moment. I have a baby, a job, a little girl, a dog, a house to run etc etc and yet I still feel like I'm never getting anything done. Just getting 'life' done should be enough shouldn't it? Feeling bad cos you haven't covered a chest of drawers in vintage wall paper is a little dumb really.

Griff is having a nap and so I'm taking the time to write this. A quicky.

Blogging can be a trap I think, taking time away from the thing you really want to do. If I have an hour 'free' do I want to spend it writing here or should I be doing something else? I don't think I always get this right but I do know that I enjoy writing and this is the only place I get to do that right now. 

Annnnd... he's awake.


22 Jan 2014

the second half of winter

Edie asks me every few days if it's 'still winter' and counting the weeks until spring has made me realise how short the seasons actually are, how they fly by and how in just six weeks it will be March the 1st. This winter's been a mild one and spring will soon be upon us, so with this in mind I'm trying to embrace this second half of winter. Even if I have an actual chilblain on my toe. Even if I hate getting up in he dark every day. Even if last week everything felt a bit rubbish.

Perhaps last week was a bit like that for most of us?

I've been thinking of ways we can enjoy the coming weeks more. Thinking of things we can do when it's darker and wetter and colder and you feel half human half slug. And not a healthy slug, a slug with a nasty cold.

I'm hoping for some dry evenings as the dark nights mean that you can see the stars before tea time. Edie's got the star gazing bug from some Cbeebies' show she's mad about so I'm going to wrap us up warm and take a flask of hot chocolate out to the garden on a clear night to look up at the twinkling stars. She wants a telescope for her birthday but it's hard to tell what's a passing fad and what could be a real interest with a four year old. Although the same can be said for me I guess, perhaps she's just like her mum.

I've always loved looking up at the night sky. That feeling is nuts, isn't it, when you've been staring upwards for a while, amazed by the beauty of our solar system, and then... boom, it hits you, how colossal the skies are and how minuscule we are and the ground kind of shifts beneath your feet and you have to go inside for a sit down and a cup of tea.

These few weeks will pass quickly as all weeks do these days and I want to snap out of this little funk I'm in. Perhaps the stars can help me to do this a little. Here's hoping for a twinkly, cosy, happy, second half of winter. X

20 Jan 2014

monochrome print

This is one of the monochrome prints of mine I mentioned in the last post. I made it a few months back now but it hasn't made it into the shop as of yet. In fact the shop has been generally neglected for quite some time now.

I don't think I've mentioned it here before but I have a part time job as an art tutor. Since having the kids it's just been a few classes a week but it's the best fun. I had a class today and we made dream catchers. Getting paid by the hour to help people make dream catchers makes me do a little happy dance. BUT this lovely little job of mine is under threat and I fear it'll bite the dust very soon. I'll be lost without my classes, my students and my time away from the kids.  

I would love to say I'll have more time to do my other work, my design work, my Etsy shop, write, that kind of thing, but it's not easy with a nine month old baby and a four year old... But people do it, don't they? Somehow they manage to get the stuff done. 

It's 9.30pm right now and my children are both in bed. My husband is on his way home from London and the dog is asleep on the sofa. And I have time right now, this time, evening time. So I guess I sacrifice Netflix and baths and books and early nights and instead work every night along with any time I can snatch in the daytime and on weekends. 

And we'll see. 

Do any of you guys work on stuff in the evenings or weekends? What do you sacrifice? 

16 Jan 2014

dreaming up a monochrome wall

Black and white. It's been a 'thing' for ages now (like triangles and teepees... imagine a monochrome teepee in a trianglular print. Too much? Or bloody lovely? Probably bloody lovely.). But it's a 'thing' that I still love the look of. Perhaps black and white will never really look outdated if you do it right. Black and white with a 'pop' of colour (the 'pop', let face it, usually being a cushion).

Anyway , I want a gallery of black and white prints. With maybe a 'pop', or maybe not a 'pop'. I'm unsure on the 'pop'.

And when you have a hankering for design inspiration you turn to pinterest and get blown away by the lovely homes that people have and how clever and not lazy at all they are. *sigh*

So here you go-

all these and more here at Pinterest

I have some black and white prints of my own that are good to go but if anyone has any black and white print recommendations they'd like to share then please do! 

9 Jan 2014

this year, last year

I mostly did a baby in 2013
I'm only now getting my head around the fact that it's January and that it's a brand new year. Well, not brand spanking new, but still pretty fresh out of the box. Last week I was still catching up on 2013 so I guess I'm starting 2014 a week behind. Sounds pretty right for me these days.

Last year was a good one. Our family grew by one. Having a baby boy was clearly the stand out moment. A peg to hang the whole year off, 'What did I accomplish in 2013? Well, I made a human being!' I'm pretty sure I won't be making any more human beings in 2014 and so I'm going to have to make a little more effort to make this year's big events, projects and general ambiance special. 

It's the stand out moments that stay with you and make memories. And those moments usually have to be made, they don't happen when you spend every evening in front of the telly and every weekend at the shops, do they? So I'm going to make a list of what I'd love to happen in 2014, and I'm not going to hold back because I know we haven't any spare cash or because doing stuff with a baby is hard. I'm just going to write it because even I'm not sure of what I want to do, and that's no place to start making moments.

I hope you all have a wonderful 2014. I really do.