Hello my pretties,

How has 2022 been for you so far? Mine has been fairly quiet, with a bit of gentle creative exploration. I took some time off during the holidays, but I found it hard to ‘turn off’ and really relax. The Netherlands has been in lockdown since the week before Christmas and I found this amplifying my restlessness and frustration. Getting back into my creative practice after the holidays was hard, the work I made felt tight and unexciting. Remembering this fantastic post about creative play by Rebecca Green, I decided to give myself some time to create without a goal in mind, and well, have a play.

Following Rebecca’s instructions, I started out putting some shapes down on the page, in collage and Neocolor II. After turning the page a few times, trying to find an image or character in the shapes, I decided on this composition below. (Cat mug and coaster by the fab Harriet Lowther)

And that’s how this cute Scottish Terrier was born! I used a Neocolor II for his moustache and fur and used collage to make his eye. Excited by the process, I decided to collage another Scottie and create some more texture.

For my second Scottie I used a dark blue painted sheet I prepped after watching Sarah Dyer’s Patreon video. I’m a big fan of Sarah’s Patreon, if you are into picture books and collage then I absolutely recommend checking her out. Sarah is very generous in showing her creative process, I very much enjoyed her character exercises, her folktale process videos and her video about prepping pages for collage.

Snipping the Scotties scruffy moustache and eyebrow (do dogs have eyebrows?) was so much fun to do. The glue I’m using is called Coccoina, I saw it in one of Sarah’s videos. It comes in a tin together with a tiny brush and it smells like almonds. I liked using this glue, it’s easy to apply with the brush it comes with or with one of your own. This is especially handy for small details. The only downside of it is, is that it dries white, as pictured below. Since I painted my sheet with gouache, I could reactivate the paint and get rid of the white, but if you’re using acrylics or coloured paper this could be an issue.

I’m so chuffed with the result. Another thing that’s great about Sarah’s Patreon is that it made me feel okay about my paper hoarding, I mean collection. I have a massive collection of paper, big and small, with some gorgeous old wallpaper in there. I’m excited about trying more collage, the exercise really helped me loosen up and become less precious about what I make.

Do you have any go-to exercises that you use when you’re feeling stuck creatively?

Let me know in the comments or on Instagram.

Take care!

X Maris

This year I was in full Christmas mode already in mid-November, listening to my favourite Christmas songs whilst illustrating my card designs. To make the studio extra cosy, I got a tiny tree, with lights! It’s a potted tree, so hopefully he will be happy in the studio until next Christmas as well, and maybe many Christmases after that. I've named him Klaus, for obvious reasons. I might even decorate him differently for all seasons. How cute would a Spring tree be?

Initially I was only going to use my Christmas cards for myself to send out to friends and family, but I have a few extra cards sets that are now up in the shop. Since I was a bit late this year, I might have rushed the tiniest bit when sending them out to print, overlooking a rather crucial element in one of the cards. Rookie mistake.. Always double double check your finals!

When checking the printed cards, I noticed that the box with decorations that the elephant dad is holding was rather empty. Bah humbug! As I was complaining about this to my lovely friend Frances Ives, she had the best idea of using a tube of Gold Holbein acrylic gouache to fill in the star on top of the tree. I decided to use coloured pencil to add more baubles to the box and use the gold for extra details. So now, the card with the elephant family decorating the tree are hand finished.

If you happen to order a set of cards, the Tree cards might look slightly different than the one the photo, as all of them are hand finished. I love how they look now, and I hope you do too.

Stay festive and cosy my pretties!