Feature Artist: Carole Loves Art


Hello this is me, I’m Carole from Carole Loves Art.


My story will be like many others I guess, in that I haven’t always been been a full time painter, despite the fact that I’ve been drawing and painting for as long as I can remember. On leaving school I knew I wanted to be part of a creative industry so I applied to Cleveland college of Art and then studied at  Sunderland University for a  BA Hons In 3D design, specialising in glass with ceramics. However it was only much later during my years at the university of Northumbria studying for my MBA that I began to  think I could make a go of selling my work.

I had been initially diverted from a career in art by my desire to play a part in effecting social justice, and for a long time I worked in adult social care services. During this time painting was my hobby, but it’s always been my focus, my relaxation and main preoccupation.

Earlier this year I took the plunge and began to market and sell my work professionally.

I began selling small watercolours often featuring hares in moonlight. I didn’t think much about it at the time but the hares would often be looking into the distance or looking directly at the viewer in a challenging or defiant stance, maybe I was playing out my own feelings through these beautiful and mystical creatures as I took my first steps as a commercial artist.


I soon discovered that I love to see a piece go on to its final home and become part of its new owners life. The choice of frame and setting changes the painting and it becomes so much more than it was. I sometimes feel as though it was never mine when people tell me what the image means to them and why they chose it.

I find I never know what people will respond to so I make whatever I please and put it out there.

I think you have to be courageous to be an artist and to some extent ambivalent to the reaction you may or may not get. it’s lovely when someone likes your work and wants it but that doesn’t always happen and when it does happen it isn’t alway an immediate thing. Patience and confidence in what you do are probably the most important personal attributes for a professional creative as well as inspiration of course.


To misquote Thomas Edison, I believe Inspiration is one part motivation and two parts perspiration,

so I paint everyday and mount, frame, pack and network every night.

I’m supported by my partner Michael who makes frames for me and my daughter and son who help me at markets and events.

I am part of Network Artist North East ( NANE) and Love Art North East which is a wonderful initiative run by Leslie McNish a local film maker and jewellery maker that supports local artists and crafters by staging regular art markets in historic Newcastle upon Tyne venues.


More recently opportunities for collaboration with other artists is something I’m interested in pursuing. There is a fantastic sense of community amongst artists and crafters on social media sites like FB and Instagram and I love getting to know people through chatting and seeing their work, I have been so encouraged by the support other artists have given to me by buying and sharing my work and I try very hard to give back by doing the same. Which means of course my house looks like a gallery with original work jostling for wall space and a huge ‘to be hung’ stack still to go.


I am influenced by so many artists and crafters on a daily basis, of the greats Van Gogh, Klimt Frida Kahlo, Edvard Munch and many others are my sources of inspiration. I frequently reference Modern painters like Julie Dumbarton, Deborah Philips, Natalie Rhymer and Wolf Khan’s landscapes as influences on my own work and I find Richard Kuhn, Gill Button and Helen Downie’s (unskilled worker) technique and brushwork in their portraiture so apparently simple,fresh and enlivening I am constantly engaged with what they produce.


I use Colour in my work quite dramatically, in college my tutor would observe he could always tell what mood I was in by my choice of colour palette and that is still the case with me now. Although I paint in a naive, simple way my colours are often subtly blended or overlaid by layers to create depth and interest in the subject.

My work is always personal to me, somewhere I’ve been or would like to be or a feeling or emotion I’ve experienced. The cottages in the country scenes I paint will often have an anthropomorphic look, like a person contemplating or persevering – solid with warmth or strength as their abiding aspect.


Stemming from my first love of ceramics I have an appreciation of decoration and love decorative objects. My work often reflects this and I love doodling.


I’m most happy when I’m painting though and I love to be challenged or inspired by someone else’s ideas through the commissioning process. This has to be the most challenging of all artistic endeavours, no one wants to let someone down but it helps if the expectations of both parties are in accord throughout the process so I communicate progress as I go and show examples of previous work that has a similar feel or style to the person commissioning the work.


My goals for next year are to;

Work with a gallery, get the ceramics underway again, Attend more art markets ( at least once a month) and Stop using emojis 😳


I studied ceramics and glass work for many years and although I have equipment and the desire to keep making 3D work I find the work too physically demanding to do on a full time basis – none the less I still make small painted items such as slate hearts, cards,  some jewellery and painted wooden boxes that are available for sale.

Thanks so much to Lisa and team for this opportunity to let people know about me and my work which can be found in private collections in America, Europe and across the British Isles.

If you would like to see more of  my work please use the links below.










Friday Feature Artist: Moongazey Art

Tonight’s Friday Feature is an exciting insight into the behind the scenes workings of the wonderful Moongazey Art in her own words that’s given us the warm and fuzziness all over. So curl up on the sofa, grab a brew, and learn all about how this talented lady’s style came about!



Moongazey Art was once a fleeting wish of a dreamer child who drew morning, noon and night and wanted to grow up and illustrate fairy tales. However, pressured into studying graphic design by an over critical tutor at art college I ended up working in that industry instead. An untimely recession forced a drastic career change to my other childhood passion, archaeology.  It was actually a magical encounter with a leveret, on a misty excavation site, one August dawn, that ensured the name Moongazey Art found me at a later date.  I worked happily within the profession for twenty years but struggled to find paid employment, and it was after an accident left me with permanent damage to my arm, that ongoing support and friendship from online artists and crafters that encouraged me to revisit my own art once more. In April 2015, after plenty of their gentle persuasion Moongazey Art finally made its online debut!


Why Moongazey? rather than Moongazing or Moongazer, to me, this enchanting name encapsulates everything I love…the magic of the moon, hares, ancient folklore and standing stones. All of these elements figure highly in my work, alongside the flowers in my beloved garden, twisty, gnarled trees and anything to do with the ocean, both above and below. From a business angle, I felt the name would target a broader audience rather than purely evoking images of moon gazing hares.


Initially, my drawings were more exploratory pieces than planned artworks. My style has had to adapt to smaller works than I previously produced due to the limitations of my arm. My pace of work has also slowed considerably.  However, this lends itself well to the intricate detail, both in my illustrative ink work and commissioned pet and people portraits. An A4 drawing in my preferred mediums of ink, marker, coloured pencil or graphite, can take me anywhere between 25 to 60 hours to complete. I love to add little elements so people need to examine a piece close up and often title works to encourage them to think of a story behind it.  I’ve always loved the attention to detail and narrative in work by artists and illustrators such as Rackham, Dulac, Klimt and Dadd; plus, contemporaries like Yerko, Jansson and Org.  Pre-Raphaelites, Art Nouveau and Japanese art also figure highly in my influences…due, once again, to the exquisite minutiae, plus the beautiful, flowing linework.

Since Moongazey Art’s tentative beginnings I’ve moved counties to establish a more suitable home to run my business from and found other work to supplement my drawing. It’s a massive struggle financially as I do not have a steady income from either at present. It’s frustrating finding time to fit everything around the day job but I’m looking at ways to promote my art and keep it interesting.  I’ve been featured in a Dorset artisan magazine and approached to exhibit my work in a flourishing south coast arts centre. Recently, I have been invited to work on collaborations with other skilled artisans.  Seeing my designs interpreted in so many different mediums is very exciting and inspirational. I’m hoping to make these an ongoing venture as each has been well received which has fuelled my creativity and confidence a great deal.

At the moment, my work is only available direct from my Facebook and Instagram pages, in online and local market events, or through referral from previous customers.  I also network as much as possible within the platform of social media and supply four retail outlets with cards of my designs. However, I am currently working on various avenues to promote my business to an even wider market. One area I need to improve on is my product photography as it is difficult to stage an unframed drawing so good exposure is vital. I’m not very tech savvy either so learning how to utilise social media and my website to the maximum is essential. There is a new website that I will be adding information to over the coming weeks and an upcoming Etsy shop that I will be stocking with cards and prints of my work, as well as originals as soon as I can find the time to draw any! I’m also exploring the possibility of a range of wares that can be printed with my designs. All of this requires time I never seem to have to research suppliers but it’s progressing steadily.

Ultimately, the aim is to be able to focus my time creatively without the current constraints of my other job, finances and lack of studio space. Once I have worked Moongazey Art into a viable business I hope my printed products will generate a steady income so I can focus on creating pieces of work for galleries and exhibitions, as well as keeping my commission books open. One day I would also love to fulfill my childhood dream of illustrating fairy tales… my very own happy ending!

And that is our happy ending to a lovely article from this inspirational lady! Moongazey Art was asked to feature on this blog after seeing their beautiful work every week in our Facebook group, LLD the Lock In where we love finding out about talented artisans and makers and their beautiful work.

To find Moongazey Art on the Web,  go to:



Feature Artist: Dusty Souls Art

This week we have a little article written especially for us by the very wonderful Imogen Clark of Dusty Souls Art. It’s a small but fuzzy warm, snapshot into her fabulous business. I grabbed a Bailey’s on the rocks for this one!  Eeeep I am actually feeling Christmassy!


14593331_10154568611994439_988907848_nThe arting for Christmas stock is well and truly underway at Dusty Souls Art – backgrounding baubles and painting matryoshka, half the cards are waiting for their crystals and I’ve ordered some more feathers for painted feather earrings….all in September!
Not sure if I’m panic arting due to a couple of big Christmas fayres coming up in a few months but I’m rather impressed with my organisation!!!

It’s hard to get in a panic when you live in the North East of England fifty yards from the beautiful coast but we are an art-fuelled household, acutely aware of the approaching silly season and it seems that the distracting views and community life can’t even keep us away from the studios at this time of year.

I’m one of a rare breed of UK feather artists and as this years ‘new Christmas line’ I’ve taken to tying and painting on feather earrings.


I didn’t even know if it was possible, but I’ve made it so, as is the way of the positive thinker.

Feather art is a consuming but rewarding pastime…the earrings even more so! I call it the labour of everyone else’s love. Time passes so quickly when you’re staring cross-eyed at the end of a 00 brush in failing autumn light and I can feel frosty the snowman breathing down my neck!!!


This year you will find me and the other half of the Dusty empire, Under the Dust, as a permanent instalment at Tynemouth’s famous station market every Saturday until they close apart for an excursion ( I like to call them working holidays) to the beautiful Skipton , North Yorkshire for a weekend of Craft in the Pen, 19/20 November


If you are not near either of the above local events, you can always shop online – warmed by the glow from your computer(!) We have a selection of wildlife art, commissioned portraits, feather art, woodcraft and seasonal decorative giftware online in the following digital events and in our stores at the bottom of this article.

Also, if you see something you love and wish to order commissioned work please do so by mid-November so I have time to get it to you!

Now –  back to the panic arting…

For our online sales, make sure you don’t miss a thing by clicking “Going” to get updates on the events:



And that was Dusty Souls Art! We’ve really loved learning more about Imogen and seeing more of her gorgeous work this week, so we’ve added a bumper bunch of photographs to give you a real taste of the loveliness she makes. If you have a handmade business and would like to be featured in our Lock In Blog, head over to our facebook group and get posting some lovely insights into your work too – it’s where we pick many of our feature artists from! https://www.facebook.com/groups/lldthelockin/ 

In the meantime, these are all the links to find Dusty Souls Art on the web:


Feature Artist: Clare Lindley Papercutter Girl

This week’s Friday Feature Artist is the amazing and extremely humble Clare Lindley, of Papercutter girl. I was able to catch up with the lovely Clare via telephone this week and get to know her and her artwork better. This is what happened, enjoy!


You are quite a country girl at heart, what is it that makes the quiet life your cup of tea?

I’ve lived in the country all my life bar a few years when I was at college and a brief stint in York, just to see what it was like. I’ve never found it boring, and being surrounded by so much nature makes you more aware of the beauty there is in the world and how we are a part of the cycle of things.  Since starting papercutting nature has become an inspiration so I’m right where I want to be. I don’t sit in fields drawing what I see, but there is something to see every time I leave the house and it all gets filed away to be used or not, at a later date. I’m not into crowds and busy places, and can be a bit of a recluse so I am happy being a bit of a bumpkin. And I must belong here because I got asked to judge the handicrafts at the local show the other week! What more could a girl want!!

Is there anything about city living that you wish you had in your cottage?

The only things I wish were on hand would be galleries and museums, and all the lights glittering in puddles on dark, wet winter days. It would be nice sometimes not to have to drive miles, to meet up for coffee!

What’s your most treasured possession?

Ooh, this is hard! If it can only be one, it will have to be a book, A Ballad upon aWedding, illustrated with wood engravings by Eric Ravilious and published in 1927 by theGolden Cockerel Press and is one of only 375 copies.

Do you have a special artist that you love to collect and why?

A printmaker called Johnny Hannah. His work is rooted in British folklore and can be quite dark at times as he draws on the true tales not those cleaned up by those pesky Victorians! So his pictures are full of ghostly black dogs and dead maidens. He also publishes his own books which I am lucky enough to own two of. He plays the ukulele and he thinks I’m a witch! What’s not to like!


Did you always want to study art?

I did, though I briefly toyed with nursing and my art teacher stopped talking to me!

How were your college days and what did you study?

I studied Graphic Design back in pre-computer days, yes, I’m that old! I hadn’t a clue what it was when I applied, and was petrified I’d not be able to do it when I got there, but I loved it, especially the illustration. It was hard work as we had tight deadlines to work to and I always left things till the last minute but I learned a lot and it was the start of my obsession with detail. We worked hard and drank hard, there are a few lost nights from those days . . . it wasn’t my fault it was the vodka!

What influences if any did you have growing up?

I was drawing practically as soon as I could read apparently, usually animals and birds my mum always encouraged me. We always had books in the house, so reading fed my imagination as did an old set of Encyclopaedias. I didn’t enjoy secondary school it was too big and there were too many people but I had a fantastic art teacher, Mr Rafferty, who was so encouraging, and made me feel that I could grow up to be an artist.

Is anyone else in the family creative?

I have to say, nearly everyone in my family has a sensible job! Although my brother has a side-line in customising motorbikes, my mum is a bit of a demon flower arranger on the side and my dad was a church organist, Elgar expert and fireman! So creativity in different ways.

Have you ever had other none arty jobs and how were they?

Up until recently I’d always had other jobs, nothing glam. Pubs, shops, theme park and for a couple of years I gave up art altogether and was a cleaner! The word ‘cleaner’ in a rural area covers a multitude of sins and I met some characters! The couple who kept or left (delete as you wish) their kinky bedroom stuff out all over the place, whips and handcuffs anyone? Then the polar opposite, with gardening and bird watching, with the eccentric old dear who just wanted a bit of company. I remember a young couple who lived in a house with a ghost, who banged around upstairs until it got used to me. Then the lady whose very rotund husband would walk around the house naked! You see country life isn’t at all quiet and boring!!

How did you find papercutting and the Papercutter girl style you have today?

I fell into papercutting by accident, I’d been helping a friend to make cut out wooden shapes for mobiles and enjoyed it apart from the noise and the sawdust floating in my tea.  I thought I’d have a go at cutting out something less messy, paper. I’d no idea what I was doing so it was definitely a case of trial and error, most of what I did ended up in the bin and I nearly gave up. Eventually I twigged how it worked. I wasn’t a great one for using the internet then so never thought of looking it all up. I hadn’t even heard of Rob Ryan! So, I persevered. Initially I worked in just black and white but as I’d been a painter, so I gradually started adding bits of colour to my cuts. It has only been in the last couple or so years that I’ve started creating full colour pieces, building up the layers as I go along, painting with paper. I don’t work out each layer when I start I just decide what will look right where as I go along. I don’t know how to use computer programmes so it’s all done by hand.

14466324_1264643733565927_644131137_oWhat’s your favourite thing to do when you are not creating art?

I’m afraid it’s nothing exciting, it’s reading. I just got finished with The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman second time round too!

How was Ghost Bunny born?

Ghost Bunny nearly wasn’t born! I came up with him on a miserable rainy day, got him half finished then decided he was too odd and the colours too bright so he got chucked on a shelf and forgotten about for several months. Then, one day I wasn’t in the mood for starting a new picture, so I rummaged about looking for something half-finished and found him again. This time I did finish him and finally plucked up the guts to post him in one of the groups to see what reaction he got. I was gobsmacked that people liked him. Now he is a big part of what I do. An inauspicious birth but he got there in the end.

What exciting news has been happening for Clare Lindley this year?

Well, it has been an exciting year workwise. I’ve illustrated 2 books for a writer friend, ghost stories for children, done a book cover for another writer which has just gone off for printing as we speak. I’ve a children’s picture book to illustrate, written by someone else, which will be published next year. I was taken on by a greetings card publisher and my designs have proved popular, the National Trust have just asked for samples so I’ve got everything crossed in the hopes that they say yes! I’ve just done an article for the Artist magazine about my working process which will be in the January 2017 edition. And I was a finalist in the Specialist Media category in the makers’ awards run by Craft and Design magazine. Added onto this list I’ve got commissions to do, an art fair and a two-woman exhibition with a painter friend. And, for myself, I have started writing a book about Ghost Bunny.

If you could have 3 wishes what would they be?

If I were a Miss World contestant they would be, world peace, world travel and marry a millionaire! But I’m not so . . . A five door car because my dogs are snobs and don’t like my three door old banger! A London exhibition and. . . to live in a house in a wood!


What advice can you offer to potential new artists starting out?

Take that leap into the unknown and do it. It’s scary putting yourself and your art out into the world but that world is full of people who want art. Sometimes it can be a hard slog and sometimes the ‘business’ side can be a bit daunting but there is great advice out there.

How does real world networking compare to online?

As we live in the age of the internet, the world really can be your oyster, it is all there to connect with. And if it takes time to build that audience use it to your advantage and refine your style/technique, or go mad and organize your own exhibition to showcase what you do.

I know you have the most distinguished Ginger Tom cat, as he’s featured in some recent designs, tell us about him?

Ah, Stitch, my red and white Persian boy who acquired me via my mum’s rescue. He’s been my little helper for about two years now and is about fifteen, cute, in a walked into a wall sort of way, he thinks he is a dog a lot of the time. He sits in the garden surrounded by birds totally oblivious to them and has got looking gormless off to a fine art, although he is a superhero behind that facade! He goes out when we’re asleep in his cloak, mask and with his underpants on inside out and rescues girly cats in distress! (you can see how Ghost Bunny made it big now!)  And I can’t use my computer without him coming and draping himself over my arm, so he is reading every word I type about him. He helps with my papercutting too, now that is a challenge, hairy papercuts anyone???

What do you think you will be doing in ten years’ time?

As long as my eyes don’t fall out I hope I will still be papercutting and that I have a ghost bunny book or two under my belt. I’d still be doing my nature based pictures too, and who knows, I can hope to have that cottage in a wood.

So there you have it, a very wonderful insight to an extremely talented lady, humble, carefree and full of the good life. Thank you Clare for allowing LLD into your thoughts, watch out for next week! In the meantime, you can find Clare’s online world below:

On the web: www.papercuttergirl.co.uk

Clare’s Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/Papercuttergirl

Ghost Bunny Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1615972098729847/

Feature Artist: Not Just Paper Boutique

Welcome to our second big Friday Feature Artist blog, we are thrilled to be able to share with you an insight to a young and upcoming artisan, who not only has talent trickling from her fingertips, she has the mind of a mad genius and the ability to create beauty from these crazy convictions.

Meet the marvellous Lee Ann Donaldson of Not Just Paper Boutique.

14424197_1258323287531305_670236268_oLady Lock Designs first started working with Lee Ann in February of 2015, there was an immediate creative and business chemistry and the partnership of mentor and designer has thrived ever since. I was able to grab a chat with Lee Ann via telephone and ask her all about her thoughts and dreams.

The phone rings and a soft, Scottish accent answers “Hello, Lisa.” I have obviously spoken over messenger many times with Lee Ann, but had never heard the sound of her voice before, so in my head it had been more southern, as she lives that way… so this was a real treat for me! I love a good accent, don’t you?

So tell me about where you were born and grew up, and what you were like as a little girl?

I was born & grew up in Falkirk, in Central Scotland. I’d like to say I was a nice, lovely, well behaved child but I think my Mum would have a slight difference of opinion on that one! I do consider myself a true Scot, (she would not confirm what that meant? Haha!!) I did move away eventually but I still consider Scotland home.

Was art something you did a lot of?

Yes, I was always drawing from as far back as I can remember. I loved art at school, and remember the old art room fondly from primary school, with the smells of poster paints and piles of every colour of paper you can imagine pouring out of drawers.

I remember having massive reams of printer paper at home – the type with the perforated edges – and spent hours drawing and painting. I think the reams of paper arrived after I drew a life sized picture of a school friend on the inside of the wardrobe door.

Growing up what other trends and hobbies were you into?

I didn’t really have any specific hobbies growing up, I was a typical kid who would be out playing with friends after school, or as I got older, “hanging out” – which was much cooler! I loved reading, which I still do, but it’s a dangerous thing for me to pick up a book as I’ll easily lose a whole day to it. I’ve always been heavily in to music – not playing instruments, I just love music. Although, my Grandma used to set me up at her dining table with an old tape recorder and had me record myself singing so she could listen back to them. I’m 90% certain those tapes have been destroyed, I’d be mortified if they resurfaced, haha!

So, what is your all-time favourite song then? The Jezabels – A Little Piece… only because it’s what I’m listening to now! She couldn’t pick, which is a sign of an avid music fan after all, yes?

Do you think you had any early influences like teachers or parents etc?

My Grandma was very creative, she loved to draw or paint, and always had a box tucked away in a cupboard full of pastels, oil paints, “proper” colouring pencils etc. I loved when she’d dig that box out while I was visiting, she always encouraged me to draw, and had a great belief in me.

After she passed, my Mum discovered an old Christmas card I’d drawn in Primary 4 – I’d have been around 8 when I made it – which she’d kept in a frame on her bedroom wall for all of those years. I don’t think I realised until then just how much of a supporter she’d been of mine while I was growing up.

How did becoming a mum affect your career path?

I used to worry being a Mum would limit me in whether I could work in the creative industry. But actually, the most difficult part is trying to juggle the two. I’m a single parent so life can get very hectic especially when I have a lot going on with my work, but my ultimate goal is to show my kids that you really can achieve your dreams if you work hard at it.

If anything I think I take less risks than maybe I should, but I prefer to think that’s me being sensible!

What’s your favourite food and why?

Ooh, tough question! I’m not sure I have an ultimate favourite – maybe steak, you can’t go wrong with a good bit of steak!

What time of the year do you love the most?

I love Summer, however, I think I may like Autumn just a tiny bit more. I love seeing the changes in nature, and my inner child loves crunching the crisp leaves as I walk down the street! Throw in a sunny but frosty morning – that’s my favourite right there.

What makes you giggle?

This is such a Mum answer, but Charlie, my 4 year old. He’s hilarious, he makes me laugh every single day. For a 4 year old he has a brilliant sense of humour and impeccable timing with his one-liners. Sadly, he takes after his mother and has almost mastered the art of sarcasm, so I’m already dreading the phone calls from school next year.

Where did your idea stem from for your Shadow boxes?

I started out doing the same as most papercutters, cutting 2D papercuts for special occassions, but I always felt there was more I could do with paper. I started following the work of Carlos Meira, and was in awe at his work – the depth he creates using single sheets of paper layered on top of each other really inspired me. At the time I couldn’t find any tutorials on this, I didn’t even know what the technique was called! It took me months to build up the courage to try something similar myself, and it did take a lot of trial and error to make something that worked for me.

I was hesitant at first about making my shadow boxes available as DIY templates, I think I felt protective over them – I had put a lot of work into figuring out the process behind them – but I love that I’ve been able to offer something different to crafters.

When do you get your best ideas?

I think this has become a bit of a running joke with me, but they usually appear late at night when I’m supposed to be sleeping. The idea for my latest Alice-inspired piece, ‘Intrigue,’ came to me at a ridiculous hour, and just last night I had a potential idea for new products for some of my designs at 2am. Which is all well and good, but I don’t just stop at the idea or jot it down in a notebook to pick up in the morning – I go all out and lay there in bed for hours thinking through in great detail, the process of how I will make the idea I’ve had.

(I am so glad she does not message me at these times!!!)


What’s your favourite joke?

Knock knock?
Who’s there
Smell up
Smell up who?
Ewww, you smell of poo!

(Can you tell I have a 4 year old son?)

What are your best skills?

Hmm.. this isn’t earth shattering, but I do pride myself in being able to engineer something from paper. My 3D sculptures, for example, I love the process of having the idea as a rough, 2D sketch, and figuring out and then turning it into a piece of 3D art.

Is there anything you do badly?

Yes, loads! I am rubbish at drawing properly (papercutting is very forgiving!) – I’d love to be able to draw beautiful things, and if I could also have the ability to colour them and add tone and depth, that would make me happy.

How did you come to start papercutting?

I saw some work by Rob Ryan, Suzy Taylor & Julene Harrison a few years ago – I was in college so 2009? 2010? Around then.. I was really taken in by the stuff they were making, it was completely breathtaking. I started playing around with simple cutting soon after, but really it was quite embarrassing because I wasn’t very good at figuring out the designing of a papercut.

In my first year of Uni I got the scalpel out and cut an illustration into the pages of a book as part of a project, and the following year I killed said scalpel cutting the lid of a box to present a different project in (300gsm grey board, my hand ached for a week!)

Papercutting was just a hobby for me though, I played around with it for a couple of years, but didn’t start doing it seriously until towards the end of 2013, then Not Just Paper Boutique was born at the beginning of 2014!

How important do you feel technology is to the artwork you produce and sell?

I have a little bit of OCD over my designs, so always finish them off digitally to make sure everything is symmetrical, that circles look like circles. I feel like maybe it’s cheating a little bit, but I’ve used Illustrator for a long long time and it makes sense to me to clean up my designs there before cutting – otherwise I know I wouldn’t be completely happy with the final piece, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable selling them.

Are you a shrewd business woman?

I don’t think so – I honestly couldn’t tell you what sort of business woman I am! I really am an artist first and the business side of things is something I’m still trying to grasp.

What’s in store for Lee-Ann Donaldson next?

It’s funny you ask that, I’ve been sitting on some pretty big news for the last couple of weeks and have been bursting to spill the beans! Myself and 3 wonderful artists – Louise Dyer of Paperlace by Louise Dyer; Sarah King of Apple Seed Paper Cut; and Emma King of Bluebirds & Paper – have been invited by my good friend, Panda herself, Louise Firchau, in her next Paper Panda and friends exhibition. Eeeek!! There, I said it! The exhibition will run from 25th March to 7th May 2017 and will be held in the National Trust Nunnington Hall in North Yorkshire. I’m incredibly excited for it, I think it’s a huge positive step for myself as an artist, and a massive opportunity to exhibit alongside such talent.

That aside, I want to go back to experimenting with paper sculptures, similar to the work I made in the dome jars earlier in the year. I feel like these are the next step up from the shadow boxes for me – a friend and I joke about this, we call it “levelling up”, think Mario!! – and creating them is incredibly enjoyable, it really gets the brain ticking when you’re trying to figure out how to engineer something from a simple sheet of paper!

I love paper engineering – I lose hours scrolling through Pinterest & Instagram looking at the works of the likes of Hattie Newman (who is incredible, by the way!) and when I look at this type of work, it lights a fire inside me. So I feel like it’s a natural step forward for me to explore more.


Can we expect any Christmas gifts from NJPB this year?

I hope so! I have a couple of ideas I need to try out, so fingers crossed!

If you had a magic wand what would you wish for?

More creating time! Ooh – or Bernard’s Watch! I’d just pause the world and take as much time as I needed to complete a new piece of work, that way I wouldn’t miss anything going on around me.

If you could offer advice to another budding artist what would that be?

Don’t be afraid to make bad art, sometimes our most disappointing works pave the way to creating something you’ll be most proud of. Don’t be afraid to experiment or try new things either – if you don’t try it, how do you know it won’t be the one big thing that gets you noticed? And lastly, don’t give up at the smallest hurdles!

So there you have it! A very down to earth woman with an imagination high in the clouds. A joy to work with and a beacon within the papercutting family. We will be sharing more exciting news with Lee Ann and others very soon so stayed tuned – but for now, take a look below for the links to Lee Ann’s various online homes:





Feature Artist: Stephanie of Beyond Paper Stars

So, how is everyone enjoying our bumper blogging weekend? We hope you’re enjoying settling in to our new venture, and that you’re excited for the next HUGE step when our big sister site launches very soon – we certainly are! Carrying on with our theme of showcasing artists all weekend, tonight we have a special interview with Stephanie of Beyond Paper Stars talking about her inspirations, her experiences launching a new business, how she balances things with her work life and we get to find out about some of her other talents too!


Hi Stephanie! You started Beyond Paper Stars early this year. What made you decide to take the plunge?

A new years resolution. The first I have ever kept in fact! I only made the one resolution on December 31 2015 – to share some of the things I had been creating on the internet, and open myself up to pursuing being an artist again. My friends have been incredibly supportive of me with it all – my boyfriend especially, who has had to put up with all the paper, glue, glitter, resin, glass and wood all over the place. And now felt. He is a patient man! Nine months on and I feel my work keeps getting better, I’ve met some incredible people who inspire me, and I’m looking forward to carrying on making things and learning what I’m capable of.

Your pieces tend to be quite theatrical and feature the sea quite a lot. What draws you to those themes, and what else inspires you?

Stories. It always comes down to stories with me. My degree was in Theatre, and I specialised in scenic design so a lot of the stuff I have been working on recently takes me back to those layered worlds created from theatre flats and the classic red curtains that I always associate with seeing something special. If I’ve managed to make something that tells a story, I feel like I am on to a winner.


And for the sea?

I always associate the sea with emotions. I was in a production of ‘A Dream Play’ at Uni that was centred around the sea and the sounds of the ocean and I’ve been fascinated by how water can tap in to your emotions ever since. A happy babbling brook or a raging storm in deep water, saying goodbye to a ship bound on a long voyage. It’s a realm of possibility.

So, aside from your artwork, do you have any other talents?

Well, in my day job I am a Digital Learning Consultant at a Univeristy. I design e-learning, film videos, teach PhD students about tech solutions that can help with their research, deliver some training on different bits of software and build web pages for the graduate school. It’s all very technical, but also really tests my creativity too. I love the science of learning and am really enjoying teaching myself coding languages for the job too.

Isn’t it difficult juggling things with your day job?

One of the biggest things that held me back from ever getting started was the belief that I *had* to quit my day job. Actually, working full time alongside my business is amazing – not least because the financial security means I can afford to experiment a little more than I would have. It also helps me with planning and structuring my time, and I’m now learning skills to benefit both my day job and my passion projects.

Do you have any top tips for juggling things successfully with your day job?

Get a diary. Once you know the amount of time you have, you need to get yourself a diary to plan out what you want to do. This can be a paper diary, a big wall chart, or an online calendar. Personally, I use a combination of all three for different things. My wall chart is for setting my big ‘deadlines’, marking out family holidays and other days I won’t be free. My paper diary is for my daily to do lists, and my online diary plans out my month using the big wall chart.

Have there been any things you’ve got really wrong?

Omg yes. It’s all a big learning curve for me. My big thing this year has been my accounts. I cannot recommend enough getting an accountant. I figured I wouldn’t need proper accounts, as I knew it would take a while to start selling things initially and thought I wouldn’t have a lot to record. I diligently kept all my receipts in a shoe box, telling myself there weren’t that many and I’d sort them out in one go when I’d started selling. Cue 6 months later, 2 shoe boxes and 3 days spent sorting the receipts into months, going through my paypal and bank statements, and painstakingly entering each individual purchase into a master spreadsheet along with my sales. I am *still* not done. Don’t be like me. Get a spreadsheet. Update it every week.

What was the one thing you wish you’d known before you started Beyond Paper Stars?

Whether it is the kind of service you would want to receive, a product you think is useful/ace, or a beautiful piece of art that you love to make, it’s important to be excited about what you and your business is offering to the world. Loving what you are doing is what will keep you going when things are slow or tough. Yes, having other avenues just to keep some pennies rolling in is also important, but the core of what you do should be something you can keep going back to. I fell into a trap a couple of times of making things purely because I thought they would sell, and now I’m getting to a place where I am comfortable just letting my creativity out and seeing what comes of it – especially when that something ends up being something I truly love myself.

What’s your advice for anyone thinking about starting their own art business?

Work out how much time you can spend on your business, and then be prepared to spend WAY more time than you’d thought on it. It doesn’t matter if your time would be one evening a week, your weekends, two hours a day or all day every day. Work out how much time you can afford to give to this whilst still looking after yourself and doing everything else you need to in your personal life. Only have one night a week? Fine. Safeguard that time for your business and plan based on that time. BUT be ready for 11pm messages to your facebook page, last minute commissions or bulk orders for christmas stocking fillers. Networking, reaching out to stockists or galleries, staying up until 3am to put that last finishing touch on your creation either for your customer or just because you love it so much. Getting your pictures perfect, your packaging precise and practicing endlessly – it will all take those extra hours you didn’t know you had. And it’ll be worth it.

And that’s that! We’ve really loved getting to know Stephanie and her work over the last nine months as she’s grown her business with LLD and developed both as an artist and in her technical skills in her new day job too – and we can’t wait to see what she does next! To see Stephanie’s new work as she shares it over the next few months, here are her links:






Finishing Touches: The 3 Most Important Ways to make your Work Stand Out Online


My name is Mrs B from Mrs B’Spoke Gifts and I like to say I have an eye for details.  My aim is to create gifts that make people feel special so today I will be sharing some tips on making ‘Something Special’.

The difference between a decent crafter and a fantastic handmade artist is often in the details.  Get the little touches right and it will lift your piece from being ‘Ok’ to being truly loved and really get you noticed for all the right reasons.

Quality Materials

The customer can always tell when you’ve used cheap materials or cut corners.  If they don’t notice in your photos, they will feel let down when they open their new item and start to examine your work.  The best materials – paints, picture frames, pens, fabrics will give your feat of creative genius that polished finish that takes you from a crafter to a professional.


If you are selling online then your photos are what is going to sell your work.

It is your product photography that will make them stop scrolling past on social media, and it will be your pictures that convince them to hit the ‘buy’ now button.  If you are making good quality products you need to be showcasing them in the same way.

There is a lot that goes into photography and that’s why Lady Lock offers bespoke one-off sessions  to give you some pointers and a full development and editing service to their mentoring scheme members but I will try to give you some highlights!

Getting a great photo:

  • Try to use natural light, or get a light box. Make sure anything you post is never dark, dull or too harsh. Most importantly the focus has to be sharp, so whatever device you are using keep checking your images by zooming in to make sure it’s a quality shot.


  • Your background sets the feel of your photo. It must fit with your brand and could be a way of making your photos recognisable.  Make sure it’s not distracting or messy!


  • You can style your piece on the same background many different ways. Think props, positioning and angles.  Try to show your work as it is intended to be used and this is your chance to show the scale. Getting close to show detail is fine but off set that with a second image of it in situ.


  • Do not miss this step. This is when you take your images up a notch.  Cropping, correcting white balance, adjusting brightness and contrast can make your shots ‘pop’.  Just don’t take it too far! Don’t use weird effects or filters – you don’t want to change your photos just enhance them.

14389004_10154410279614627_1695246150_nPresentation & Packaging

A gorgeous little sticker on the outer parcel to let them know this one’s from you, a lovely little box inside, tied with a ribbon with your business name on it.  Inside the box, quality tissue paper protects their new piece of amazing work.

These are the little things that make people get excited all over again, adding that special feeling to the buying experience.  It’s what makes you the go to person for gifts, knowing that your items are already beautifully wrapped just ready to be gifted.

For help with your photography and advice on all aspects of your small business, remember Lady Lock has a unique and personal mentoring scheme full of talented artists and they love working with new members.  Or, if you’d like a short, one-off session – why not book a mentioned, taster session and see if they could help you find your Something Special?

Mrs B x

Written by Clare from Mrs B’Spoke Designs with Stephanie of Beyond Paper Stars, both of whom are members of the Lady Lock Small Business Mentoring Scheme. You can find Clare, and more photos showcasing her gorgeous eye for detail, here:


Feature Artist: Paper Panda

Lady Lock’s Bumper Blog, with the awesome Paper Panda!
***please note this interview contains giraffes, babybells and swears***
When Paper Panda closed her workshop doors for the last time earlier this year, the sound of panderettes quietly sobbing into their Starry Night’s china mugs could be heard across the whole of middle England! How would they cope knowing they had missed out?
Fear not PP fans help is close at hand, because LLD has an interview exclusive with the First Lady of Paper! And I got to ask her anything I liked!! Did I have feel like a kid in a sweet shop? Hell Yes!!! Peel back your peepers and enjoy!
In a cosy corner of a touristy village in Bourton-on-the-water lives the down to earth and animal loving Mr & Mrs P (Ryan & Louise Firchau) to the rest of the nation. Their family consists of humans and furbabies, all nestled in surrounded by eclectic collections of times gone by and scary faced meanies! Here they run Panda HQ and create the most astonishing art work together. In fact they are pretty inseparable!
So feeling like I need to ask a real meaningful question I decide upon, “We all know and love Paper Panda and the distinct style that you have, how did you find ‘Your Thing! your uniqueness?
“Which particular distinct style? I think there’s lots! I say “mmmh, how many are there?”
“So there’s the Woodland Friends both as sketches and papercuts. Then there’s the starry night series. Floating around in between are various typographical pieces, rainbows, the odd cat…there’s actually a handful of distinct styles, not to mention when Mr P creates a template for me to cut.
So really, I’m still winging it. I haven’t settled into making one particular thing yet. I haven’t really found ‘my thing’, I’m always changing it, developing, sometimes backtracking. Unique? Hmm. I don’t see myself as unique, not really. If anything IS unique it’s that between me and Mr P we can create lots of different things between us, there’s a real diversity there.”
I say, “Talking about diversity, you and Ryan (aka Mr Panda) get to meet all kinds of amazing people in your interesting arty life style, who have you found the most intriguing and why?”
“Easy. The Pratchett peeps. We’ve been working with discworld.com for a good few years now and they are SO interesting. The whole fan base, the characters, the stories. We’ve become friends with some pretty well known people and it’s nuts, completely crazy to mix in those circles when I’m just a work from home artist who rarely gets dressed. I sit there, next to someone who has just artworked a book that’s sold millions and show him my Mutant Ninja pants. On the other side of me someone is telling an anecdote about Sean Aston playing cricket in his garden. Bonkers. I try and pretend it’s all very normal but inside I’m going WTF, eeeee, OMG and fangirling my ass off.”
So I reply, “That’s quite a big stand out moment in your memory, but what’s been your most epic moment?”
“Ever? Wow. That’s a tough one! How can I choose just one? Okay, um, the night we received an email saying that Terry Pratchett and co loved our papercuts and they’d like to sell our artwork officially. The silhouette we created of Terry two years ago has been featured quite heavily at Discworld events and it’s the new ‘signature’ seal in the books. For someone that’s been a fan for 30 years that was super epic. That evening we were both on cloud nine.”
“Talking about being in strange places, during this last year what’s been your weirdest encounter?” I ask, “I fed a giraffe? That’s pretty weird, right?” I agree laughing whilst thinking to myself, “I only just manage to feed my kids!
So I ask her, “For those who already follow your posts, we know you find the funny in the simplest of daily things, do you have any thoughts for today?”
She replies after a little thought and a glance into the garden, “Wouldn’t it be funny if we didn’t have knees?” and looks back at me with that panda glint in her eye, “ermmm, I guess sooo!” I say smirking a little, “Do bees HAVE knees?” she continues, I shrug my shoulders, “how tiny would they be?”   I snuggle back into my chair a little more now, knowing I am in for a real treat! “Like if I was a cat, what would my name be? Could I have a boys’ name? I’d like to be called King Fuzzytoes the third!” I don’t get time to reply, she continues deep in thought, “On eBay when a listing says ‘from a smoke and pet free home’ I don’t want to buy from them because they sound like right boring bastards!
At this point I nearly spill my tea, not because, she made a swear! But, more to the point! I am that boring bastard!!!! (note to self, be more daring!) So I just re jig my sitting position and place the tea firmly on the table and agree wholeheartedly, “yes very boring.” Hoping I still look cool. (no, not cool, that’s for the kids, like chilled!) Anyway, she continues, “How come Kirsty Allsop is good at everything? Do you think some of the things she makes are really shit but they cut that bit out?” Lou’s dry humour is so infectious, I can’t but help let out a giggle. Now, I love flipping Kirsty Allsop, but secretly, I do feel this way too! So start to consider my reply as she continues, “Why don’t you get a suntan from daylight lamps? (I actually don’t know the answer either!) So we move on as she is on a roll right now. She picks up some cheese from her lunch, “Why do I eat cheese when I know there’s billions of tiny bugs all over them? Do they squeal when I chew them? Does that include Babybell? Is it a problem for vegetarians? Then pops the cheese in her mouth. I am done, I have tears in my eyes and have no come back! She chews the cheese whilst, wisely sizing up her prey, knowing I am about to lose it with the giggles!!
So I pull myself together and move on to the topic of Pokemon her biggest hobby to date, I asked her, how her quest or team thing was going, she ponders for a second, “Will I ever catch ’em all if I never leave my village? How can I be the very best like no one ever was? I pondered that last statement, surely that is impossible right?
“Team Instinct for the win!” She says all triumphant, “I like to knock the guy off the local gym who has a homophobic user name. I leg it out whenever he takes the gym so he’s not there for more than five minutes. He’s gonna figure out who I am soon so I’ve started taking my daughter as a shield 😉 Between ‘Godsmummy’ and ‘TheHappyDonkey’ we’re fighting the good fight.”
I am obviously out of my depth in this discussion so decide to change the subject. “When was the last time you laughed till your belly hurt?” I ask, wondering what the hell she could say next.
“Easily playing the board game ‘Tension’ with Lou and Jon from Button Cottage. So funny. No booze involved!” I decided I wasn’t going to ask, who knew board games are funny without alcohol!
So I continue, “What is your biggest love?” knowing full well the furbabies would win out, “Biggest love is cats. I AM that cat lady from the eHarmony video. I totally get her!” Then she insists I drop the link in for you all, so here is said link! Enjoy, but after you finish reading my blog though! It a tad emotional!
“So talking about relating to others, I say, if you weren’t Panda what else would you like to have done?”
“Well, she says chewing her gum in-between her soft spoken tones, I always wanted to be an art teacher and write books. In a roundabout way I guess I’m doing it! I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do instead. Living the dream! She smiles.
I decide to share about  my animals too,“My pregnant cat sits on all my writing equipment in all the most awkward positions, so I can’t retrieve them without her having a hormonal moment! What are your pet hates?”
“I love it when God sleeps on my pillow and we snuggle. I did until yesterday morning, when I realised my face had been sleeping on a poo stamp all night.” (The joys of co-sleeping with a Kitten! for those of you not in the know, no religious pun intended there at all! Promise) Finding God is a whole other blog!
The one BIG question I was dying to ask Lou was “Have you ever lost Munch?” (Munch the dog is massive!) and I was not disappointed with the reply!
“YES! It was a Saturday morning and Ryan let him out into the garden early then went back to bed. We didn’t realise the electric gates had failed and when we finally got up at about 11am we realised he was gone. Now, an 85lb dog loose in a tourist village makes for some extreme panicking. We all got dressed in two minutes flat and rushed out to find that some brave soul had locked him into a shop courtyard nearby. He was soaking wet. We never found out what he did in those hours but I’ll bet it involved bombing it up and down the river and scaring the pants off of old ladies.”
I smiled as I looked at my next question as I am always intrigued about how ideas happen, “Your work is simply unique and bridges the gap between witty and thought provoking with the help of your forest friends, Bear and FB Hedgehog how do your quotes find their way into your sketch pad?”
She was definitely going to tell me some deep and soul searching right?
“Honestly? We (all PP staff) have a lovely long list of quotes/images/memes we’ve found or heard over the past year or so. I choose ones that provoke feelings, be it profound or funny and apply them to the Woodland Friends.” ….I was hoping for a cake and cry moment! But I guess you can’t win them all! Panda is after all an extremely savvy and successful business woman, these things do need structure after all. So I decided to dig for a little hint of what’s on the horizon for PP.
“Tell us what the future holds for Paper Panda?” Lou smiled and said, “I know it involves the Woodland Friends being published in a children’s book in 2017. Beyond that I honestly have no idea, but I hope that’ll lead to FBH being interviewed on Jonathon Ross!” I think she has great intuition.
“Lastly” I say, realising we have been chatting for ages, “can you give us your top tips for staying in the game and life in general?” no pressure there!!
“Hmm. For staying in the game? Keep changing. If something isn’t working, then you have to try and realise it fairly early on and not try to hold onto an idea just because YOU like it. Sure, you have to make things that make you happy but you also have to cater to an audience so keep an eye on what works and dump what doesn’t, even if you’ve spent time and money on it.” * she sings* Let it gooooo!
I smirk. “What about life in general?”
“I can’t possibly give you tips on that haha, I don’t think I’ve got my life together enough to advise!” (extremely humble reply, I thought and a huge understatement) She is the master of surprise and continues to shine like a beacon to women out there working hard to make their thing happen. She certainly gave me plenty to think about!
And that was the end of our chat – wasn’t it fantastic? If you weren’t a fan before, I hope this bumper blog has made Louise of Paper Panda your new fan girl favourite!!
So you can visit her online home and wow at her skills, here’s all the links you need to explore Paper Panda’s amazing world online:

An Inside Job

So – welcome to our very first blog for The Lady Lock “Lock In.” It’s lovely to have you here! This is our little sister site, which will be filling up with loads of articles and teasers in the run up to the big reveal of the brand new Lady Lock website in around a fortnight.

But, for now, I thought I would introduce you to what inspired me to create the Lady Lock small business mentoring scheme in the first place, and get you nice and settled in ready for our next HUGE post that is coming at 6pm tonight. Trust me, you do not want to miss this evenings reveal! And, in the meantime, remember you can register for updates (and freebies) on our brand new site in the making by clicking ‘join the party’ above and registering with your email address!

Sitting at home, loving my family and new house, was a beautiful experience. Especially as I had worked my corporate socks off for the last twenty years and the break in employment to have another baby at 40 was very much needed. There was just this thing bothering me…  a constant desire to create my own dream job, but not knowing how to create it, or what it truly looked like was a major stumbling block!

It felt like a pie-in-the-sky, frivolous idea to be honest. The reality of having to re-enter the rat race was looming heavily in the distance. Yet my idea wouldn’t go away! For all dedicated parents (membership of 23 years and counting), putting your children first is your default setting when making important personal and professional decisions. Still having a pre-schooler myself meant juggling this conundrum on a daily basis. I still wanted the best for my little one and a great job! The two together are hard to find.

Again my brain ramped up the old imagination…. .I knew I had to be at home. I did already have some spare time – but how could I use the skill sets I had acquired over my working life and what did I really love doing the most?’ That’s when I started to dream about the vision of helping others from the comfort of my own sofa! I guess my business started that day as I began to mentor myself – pulling my ideas and skill sets together, doing a ton of research and networking a lot, looking for potential opportunities to link into.

Finding people to actually work with was not going to be easy! Who was going to trust a nobody? I had no previous clients from a creative industry background but what did I have that was different to anyone else? What made me unique? I kept bumping into online self-help downloads and promises of ‘watch this live Workshop and all your prayers will be answered!’ The reality was carrot dangling information, and “Buy my book now! The answers are all in there!” Which are all fine in their place.

But how could a one-size-fits-all coaching approach help me? I had gathered some really weird qualifications and hobbies over the years! I wanted real people to talk to, with time for me, and support when I wanted to throw my laptop out of the window, or just a kind word of support and direction when I had come to a dead end or lost motivation. Someone to suggest the right advice at the right time for me. Someone that I felt actually cared and wasn’t just interested in cashing in.

So, driven by frustration, I had found something that I felt wasn’t out there. A unique way of mentoring small creative businesses and tailoring things to them and their needs. I offered two talented ladies the opportunity of a lifetime! (you gotta fake it till you make it right?) They gave me the feedback I so badly needed and, in return, I got to create Lady Lock Designs and my bespoke small business mentoring scheme that has now grown and grown.

 Now, I am nearly one year in and I am about to expand and turn my dreams into a reality. To say it’s not been hard work would be a lie, but it’s hard work that I’ve loved! The rewards I experience are real and long lasting. Seeing others improve their businesses and achieve their aspirations is a massive honor and a huge sign that I am doing a great job. I am ready for the next chapter and the exciting journey that will come with it.

Want to come with me and develop your business? Then you should join me!

Lady Lock