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Please #DrawACatforEllen in memory of wonderful Ellen…

Yesterday (Nov 10th) we received the terrible news which we had all been dreading. The wonderful Ellen has lost her battle against this horrible, evil, brutal disease. She had recovered fully from Breast Cancer shortly after I met her for the first time, where she came all the way to Stratford to see me ‘perform’ with the Reduced Shakespeare Company.

We had been online friends for a long time before that, she even held one of the first ‘Sketchbook Clubs’ at her children’s School. She was always so incredibly supportive and encouraging. Commenting, sharing and endorsing my posts and news.

It’s funny how much you feel you know someone and like someone even before you meet.

We kept in touch after last September and exchanged emails and messages, I hoped that we would meet more often and that I would get to know her family more, as I so enjoyed meeting them in Stratford. 

Then, a bombshell, Ellen’s cancer had returned. In a frighteningly short amount of time, the news went from bad to worse and she posted a ‘statement’ telling us that she did not have long to live.

I was beyond honoured that she chose to come to my All Day Sketchbook Club a few weeks ago. We spent such a fun, relaxing day, drawing and painting and laughing and chatting. It was impossible to comprehend that she may not have had long…

But here’s the extraordinary bit. The really really astonishing bit, the bit where she would say “I had no choice”, or “I am not being brave at all” or “anyone would do the same”, well, I’m not so sure Ellen. 

I am pretty convinced that the last few weeks of your extraordinary life were pretty exceptional. 

Ellen has, in all honestly, changed lives. She has made us, no, insisted on us ENJOYING our lives. Every day. Every second. We are beyond fortunate and immensely privileged to be here. 

Below are the words of Ellen, the very very wise words. Words that I hope we will all adhere to…

“Please go and enjoy today. Grab every f**king second of it. Live it for yourself. Live it fully. Have no stupid regrets. I have none. I have lived a life of love and privilege and even when I’ve been at my lowest and depressed I still had it good compared to many. I made some tough decisions in my life, especially since my initial cancer diagnosis, they helped open my eyes and heart, don’t wait to make those decisions, some I should have done years ago, hindsight is a wonderful but totally useless thing though. I’m ok with that. Clearly wasn’t to be before. But now they’re done I know it was right. Surround yourself with the people who love you not judge you, be proud of your actions and always remember just how bad life is, it’s no one’s fault, but your actions can help improve it. Live a life that you can be proud of, not of the big stuff, but the every day little stuff. Be kind. Because it’ll always come back to you.”

“Go on that holiday, learn sign language, draw a cat, ditch the d*ck heads, spend time with your chosen ones, your chosen family, your favourite family. And just really enjoy every minute.”

So, just for Ellen, here is a very special #Sketchbookclub 

She urged us to “Draw a Cat” (which made me really laugh) so I have put together a transfer sheet and instructions, it doesn’t include a video this time as I wanted to get this out quickly, so it is only £2.50 but EVERY penny will go to Cancer Research.

I hope you enjoy drawing your cats, she would be delighted that you’re trying something new and enjoying the moment.

GOOD LUCK 

#DrawACatforEllen (Link here)

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Press coverage update (I know, its been ages!)

I MUST blog more, I must I must! It is just sometimes hard when you are a one woman show, but no excuses now, I am at my desk and ready to tell you about some great press exposure we’ve had recently.

A short while ago, we had the most wonderful feature in The Guardian about how to bring out your inner artist- featuring Sketchbook Club! Hooray!

It was such a lovely piece and we had an overwhelming response from it (waves at all the new followers/users/subscribers!).

You can read the full article here

We also had a sweet little piece in Yours magazine, one of my Sketchbook Club members was asked what she did creatively in her retirement and she very Kindly told them all about Sketchbook Club. She made a really good point that she now makes a lot of her cards as a result of learning how to paint and draw, hooray for Sketchbook Club and thank you so much Ann! xxx

We also had a nice mention in Bath Life magazine for our Circus patches, which are stocked in the wonderful Children’s shop in bath, Spotty Herberts. If ever you are in Bath, do check them out, it is honestly the loveliest Children’s shop I have ever been to!

So… I promise I will try and Blog more, especially as we are getting to that point where we choose FUN things for our house (we’re building a house, yup, a whole new house – scary!). Until my next post, have a lovely week and keep on showing me your Sketchbook Club masterpieces!

xxxxx Jennie

 

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Naughty Paddington – Lovely You!

Gosh, what a week!

I knew that the pictures of the book in Paddington 2, when compared to the pictures of my Pop-Up London book kind of spoke for themselves, but I really didn’t expect such a strong reaction!

On Wednesday, The Telegraph covered the story in their news section and online, the journalist I spoke to could not have been more sincere, professional and supportive. The facts were correct and the article was sensitive and rightly cautious.

On Thursday, The Mail Online ran with it, sadly I didn’t get to speak to anyone, so a few facts were incorrect. My actual fee that I quoted Studio Canal was 30k to be split between myself and the paper engineer for 6 months of solid work, not as The Mail stated, purely 30k for me (I wish!) and the reason I didn’t get the job was actually unrelated to my fee, here’s the line from Studio Canal’s email:

“I think that we are planning on going with the graphics company that could not only illustrate the book, but also make the physical copies.”

This seemed perfectly reasonable and honestly, I didn’t mind at all, until…

I saw the trailer in a cinema with my Mother and daughters, they didn’t notice as they were busy chatting and as I didn’t want to spoil the day, I kept quiet, however, I was clearly deeply distracted as leaving the cinema car parking space, I reversed into another car! Then the tears came and I had to come clean.

It was upsetting to say the least.

There have been so many generous offers of legal help and advice, suggestions of crowd funding, insurance against losses and legal representation for me. I am SO incredibly grateful for all of these offers and have been overwhelmed by people’s kindness, it has completely restored my belief that the majority of us are good people. Really good people.

I decided against facing the High Courts, not only because of the huge financial risks involved, but also, judging by the correspondence we had received (I was represented by the wonderful Teacher Stern), the defence would be incredibly bullish and fierce. The case could take weeks or months and not living in London, being Freelance and having a family, would hold its own complications and implications.

I was advised that there was a strong chance that they would settle (and hopefully apologise) out of court, but after months of legal correspondence they were very firm in their denial and we reached a brick wall.

So I took a deep breath and decided to ‘go public’ as I believed, to do nothing at all, would be an act of complete submission.

I feel so strongly that as Artists we are treated with huge disrespect. We are underpaid (“we have no budget, but will tweet/Instagram about it” is a usual response to payment) and we are copied. Cases of plagiarism by the big companies of small individual creatives are more and more frequent.

So for the sake of this wonderful creative community, I decided I just had to make this known and if in some small way, my story can help prevent further imitations of Artists work, then all of the upset and horror of it all will have in the end, been kind of worth it…

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‘Naughty Paddington’!

So.. I have reached the end of a legal road with the ‘Copycat Meanies’ at Studio Canal Productions. They are refusing to discuss this further and the only option would be to go to court and I have decided to spare myself the stress this would inevitably cause me.

Bear (no pun intended) in mind that they contacted me first, saying how much they loved my work and asking me to produce a Pop Up London Book for Paddington 2. I didn’t ‘get the gig’ and thought nothing more of it – until I saw the film.

But enough words from me. I think the pictures below speak for themselves, so I will just leave them here so you can make your own minds up….

 

 

Above, it is not only the mechanism which bears an uncanny resemblance to my book (pictured on the right), but also the artwork, which in my humble opinion is very similar, black line drawing with a background wash….

‘Paddington’s Pop Up London’ Book – Buckingham palace on the left.

‘Jennie Maizels’ Pop Up London’ Book – Buckingham palace on the right.

Below, Trafalgar square, can you tell which is which?

As you can see from below, when they said they liked my work, clearly it wasn’t just the London book they ‘liked’…

Pop Up London (Published by Walker Books 2012) 

Anyway, I had a WONDERFUL friend who is a deeply talented QC help me with this legal journey, so I have been very lucky. He wisely advised me to refrain from ‘going public’, but now we have reached a point where I can go no further. I feel VERY strongly that this blatant copying of artists’ work HAS TO STOP, so I have decided that now is the time to ‘put it out there’. It is all too common, I see copycat products around all the time. Please ask the artist to create the work for you. It’s their job and it’s THEIR work.

Thank you for reading and I hope nothing like this ever happens to you.

xxx

Jennie

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#SketchbookClubRobin – A Christmas treat from Jennie!

Hello!

Are you all feeling festive?

I am SO excited to be sharing with you a little Christmas treat…

Here you will find everything you need to create a BEAUTIFUL Robin Christmas Card with lovely hand lettering.

As always, anyone ANYONE can do this, from 5 to 105…

You will need: good quality paper, a pencil and rubber, watercolours, two paintbrushes (size 1 and 6) and some coloured pencils. You may also like to add details with a white gel pen.

To make things easy, I have put together a little pack for you on my online shop.

You can watch my Youtube Tutorial showing you how to make your Robin cards here…

 

Now you have watched the tutorial, you are ready to start!

So… Fist of all, print out your reference sheets (you will need one per person):

Once you have printed out the reference sheet above, start to transfer your images…

Firstly draw over your chosen lettering in pencil. Then, turn the paper over & scribble firmly on the back transferring the lettering onto your paper. Next, transfer your Robin!

Draw over the paler image of your chosen Robbin, using an HB pencil. Next, as with the lettering, turn the paper over and scribble firmly on the back.

Now it’s time to add colour! Use the brighter coloured Robbins as reference (as these are the ‘right way round’).

Try a watercolour base with pencil or pen detail when paint is dry. You could do what I did and add white gel pen details too.

Finally, looking carefully at the reference you can add little sprigs of holly and snowflakes in any gaps 🙂

Here are a couple I created:

But in the end I chose this one as my final Christmas card to print ott…

I scanned in the image using my home scanner at a DPI of 300.

I then positioned the image all squashed up on the right, onto A4 paper using Photoshop – like this:

This way, you can fold the paper and cut them out into cards, minimising the paper use.

Three per A4 is quite small! But I liked them as dinky little cards, you may prefer to position then differently, or print them out same size and stick them onto Card.

I really can’t WAIT to see your creations!

Don’t forget to share them using the hashtag #SketchboookClubRobin and I will share my favourites on Instagram!

Good Luck and HAPPY CHRISTMAS!!

Lots of love from Jennie xxxx

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Introducing Pop-Up Shakespeare!

One sunny day I was driving in my car, deep in thought. What pop-up book shall I create next? I was midway through Pop-Up New York and needed to start thinking about my next project.

It needs to be theatrical, splendid and entertaining, I thought. Then, it popped (no pun intended) into my head like a flash. A pop-up Shakespeare book! Immediately, I knew that The Reduced Shakespeare Company needed to write it.

Believe it or not, I remember seeing their show on what was my first proper date with my now husband! I remember laughing so hard my tummy hurt, I remember marvelling at the pure genius of the concept and how cleverly and hilariously it was executed. I’ve since taken my children to see their show and was amazed at how it worked on so many different levels, they too laughed until their tummies hurt!

So, on returning home from my drive, all excited, I sent The Reduced Shakespeare Company a tweet, it said “please can I email you an idea, I’m not a weirdo” (I was worried they might think I was, naturally, haha!)

Because of the time difference, by the time they replied saying “Sure!” I had written my pitch.

Happily, Austin Tichenor, one half behind the RSC, had many of my books and was aware of my work (phew!), so he was on board instantly.

We were soon Skyping away excitedly plotting and planning.

Reed Martin (the other half of the Reduced Shakespeare company) lives in California and Austin Tichenor in Chicago (and me in the middle of nowhere in Hampshire!) but it completely worked! Skype, email, phone, Twitter, Instagram and only ONE in-person meeting was all that was needed, geography didn’t make any difference at all. In fact, it has been one of the most stress-free, happiest books I have ever worked on.

Austin and Reed are true comedians, SO SO FUNNY! Just listen to one of their Podcasts if you want proof.

It was hugely important to me that the book made people laugh. Once, by coincidence, my husband and I both packed The Reduced Shakespeare Company’s ‘orange’ book on holiday. The two of us spent the whole holiday chuckling out loud and reading bits out to people, it was absolutely hilarious.

Austin and I are fresh back from what was a truly wonderful book launch, hosted by The Shakespeare’s Birth Trust, Austin has recorded a special Podcast about the event and The Birth Trust took some fabulous photos….

The book is now officially available EVERYWHERE, I am super proud of it and I really hope you all like it (and laugh a lot!) as much as we do!

Lots of love xxxx Jennie

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A Sketchbook Club FREEBIE! A Nature Table Watercolour Tutorial just for you. xxx

Hello!!

This is something I have been thinking of doing for a while.

My passionate belief that EVERYONE can create masterpieces has made me want to share this with as many of you as possible. Plus, Autumn is my absolute favourite time of year and I really could’t wait to show you these tips and tricks in order for you to create your own beautiful Autumnal artwork and in the process, begin to truly understand the magic of Watercolors…

So, let’s get started!

You will need the following materials…

  • Watercolour Set
  • Coloured Pencils
  • Tissues
  • Cotton Wool Buds
  • A Needle
  • Size 1 paint brush
  • Size 6 paint brush

Here is my little video talking you through the process (and even having a good old forage in my garden!)….

Either use the reference sheets with all the beautiful Autumnal images below (just print them out by selecting them and hitting print!), or have a good forage for some leaves etc. to draw in the actual great outdoors!

Here are some written instructions too….

  1. Start by either drawing around a real leaf or copying one from the reference.
  2. Fill the leaf drawing with a generous wash of clean water (using your bigger brush), then immediately add blobs of Autumnal colours, letting them run wild and merge together.
  3. When the paint isstill wet, gently scratch in all the little veins using a needle.
    The hardest bit is to now leave it alone to dry!
  4. Now start on your next drawing, follow some of my watercolour techniques in the film, remembering to leave things alone and revisit them when they are dry to work on them further.
    This is the nature of Watercolours. The more left to their own devices, the more they can work their wonderful watery magic!
  5. Treat your Sketchbook spread’s composition like a fabric repeat, each drawing should have the same amount of space around it and if there is a large empty space, depending on the gap, either draw in a little leaf or another painting.
  6. When your paint is dry, it might be a nice idea to add some more detail and colour using coloured pencils. This is great for the leaves of a carrot, or for the blush of an apple for example.
    If you have chosen to paint the toadstool, when your solid red watercolour base is dry, use your thin brush to paint in the little white dots with some thick white Gouache.
  7. You might like to add a few highlights wth the white paint too, it really brings berries to life and is lovely for a small shine on an apple or pumpkin.

And there you have it! I really hope I have shown you just how fabulous Watercolours can be.

One of the best things about them, is that they are totally portable, so hopefully you can use them out and about. You could even try drawing some leaves in situ in the winter sun! xxx

 

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Sketchbook Club At The Good Life Experience festival 2017!

Wow! What an incredible weekend! Our third time at the wonderful Good Life Experience festival and our best yet.

This time we had our own big tent…

We were INSANELY busy from the very second we opened at 2pm on Friday (My Birthday, woohoo!) to 6pm on Sunday evening when it was finally time to drive home. My tent was always full of delightful, smiley and gorgeous children, parents and grandparents. Everyone had a go!

We loved every minute! There was some extraordinary talent, I couldn’t believe some of the stunning works of art produced at the festival.

Can you spot yourself in THE SKETCHBOOK CLUB HALL OF FAME???

I really hope you all keep on ‘Sketchbooking’ folks! Don’t forget to show me your creations! See you soon and lots of love from Jennie xxxxx

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The problem with loving colour….

So, we are building a house. A whole new, completely from scratch, house.

We are insanely lucky to have a plot of land at the back of our house with lovely views, so we will be selling our house, renting for a year and then moving into the new house, simple, right? It’s going to be completely stress-free and completely enjoyable. Just like it always is on Grand Designs, haha.

We are at the stage where we are choosing kitchens and bathrooms, this is, I admit, completely thrilling. Having put up with a 1980’s kitchen for 10yrs, I can’t wait! So, we visit showroom after showroom, talk to kitchen designer after kitchen designer, but (and I know I am THE fussiest person on the planet) I just do not like anything. Nothing. It’s embarrassing. I pretend to like things, nod approvingly, but am I that different? Why does nothing make me excited?

I thought about it, I thought about it hard and it occurred to me that at no point in any of the showrooms or meetings did I see any colour. I mean actual proper colour, not terracotta, moss green or dark blue, I mean sunshine yellow, coral pink and vibrant teal. Where. Are. The. Colours?

I went onto a big flashy showroom and stood in the middle and honestly, if someone had told me it was a showroom for medical schools, mortuaries and science labs, I would have completely believed them. Everything has become so clinical. Why are we so afraid of colour?

So, after extensive research, I have stumbled upon a few pioneering companies who have dared to be different, dared to introduce small, da da daaaaaa….. splashes of colour!

I have decided, that the world needs to know about them, and as I like the idea of sharing, I am going to document my findings throughout the house build, here on this blog.

My first discovery were these fabulous sinks from Villeroy & Boch. The bathroom basins come in really nice shapes and have a collection of carefully chosen (and spot on, in my opinion) colours.

I’m thinking of this pink one, or perhaps the blue, imagine what fun you’d have choosing tiles to match (more on that later).

I was also shown (by a kind twitter friend) THIS:

I am waiting to hear back from Aston Mathews as to whether it is available still, I really really hope it is.

Bathroom cabinets are always white or wood, so I salute Duravite for these gorgeous coral pink units. Maybe paired up with a teal coloured sink? Now this, gets me excited, I can get very very excited about this…

So my friends, I will keep searching for colour, I will keep thinking of ways to inject life into our new build and I will keep you informed! More soon….  xxx Jennie