Some 2020 reflections... – Alice Draws The Line

Hello! Thanks for popping by! If you'd like to sign up to my monthly newsletter just click on this banner :)

Some 2020 reflections...

What a year. 

I'm not going to dwell on the pandemic in this post, but instead think about all things Alice Draws the Line and how it has evolved in the last twelve months. I'll work through month by month - mainly for my own benefit, as I have started to do this each year anyway, but usually in a notebook rather than a blog post. However, I love reading about other people's year - particularly in business and so I thought I'd do mine here this year in case anyone might like to read about it. 

January 

New Beech Leaf and Puffin tea towel designs arrived (designed and ordered before Christmas).

Designed the signs for the studio and ordered them. 

Moved my website, started designing it and stocking the online shop.

Ran a Brush Lettering workshop in Shrewsbury.

The art of mushrooms exhibition opened at Somerset House, London - stocking some of my fungi products in their shop.

Ran a Winter Printing workshop with Helen Cass. 

Picked up the keys for the studio!

 

February

We hired a trailer and moved all studio items from my spare room to the new studio.

Ran a Modern Calligraphy workshop and the first 'Draw the Line' beginners drawing workshop in Hereford.

Put my post box up at the studio (I love receiving post and so this is an important feature for me!).

Went to a Herefordshire Art Week meeting (Herefordshire open studios normally happens for 9 days in September) hopeful to have an open studio this autumn as part of their trail.

Ran a Beginner's Botanical Watercolour workshop in Shrewsbury. 

Discussion with a festival organiser about maybe running a workshop at their festival in the summer.

Finished working one day a week at a shop in Shrewsbury. Something I started when I was made redundant. It worked well as I could walk to the shop and do a day a week, or occasionally more if cover was needed.

Packed up and said goodbye to my house in Shrewsbury after six and a half happy years there. 

 

March

The studio signs went up - one above the window and the other above the covered part by the door. 

First customers visited the studio-shop. 

Brush Lettering workshop.

Closed my Etsy shop. 

Lockdown announced.

Created the 'Draw the Line' downloadable beginner's drawing guide.

Spent time in the greenhouse. Listened to a lot of podcasts. Stopped listening to the news during the day.

 

April

Launched 'Draw the Line' downloadable drawing guide.

Worked on my website.

Spent a lot of time in the garden and greenhouse. 

Did quite a bit of business pondering. 

Re-opened my Etsy shop and website now has products listed too. 

Drew spring wildflowers. Loved walking along the lanes.

Spent time back in the studio wrapping orders. 

 

May

Spring wildflower letter paper, the spring wildflower bouquet card and the spring wildflowers mugs launched - all created from the drawings I did last month.

The Bug mug and the bug card also launched, as did the Mushroom Mug design and the Calendar Cards. All photographed and and added to the website and Etsy shop.

Tried running a brush lettering workshop online with a lovely willing friend. Technology failure/ poor internet strength made it clear this wasn't a format that I can use at the moment. 

I found some bluebells near the studio just before they finished for the year. I love bluebells.

Lovely walks around Brampton Bryan when we were able to meet and walk with another person. 

I challenged myself to do a bigger drawing, working faster with a real sense of freedom. The finished picture is one of my favourites of the whole year.

 

June

I wrote very little in my diary for the first three weeks of this month - now I'll never know what I did!

Over the last few years I have been sometimes working with my other half when he needed an extra person at work. He's a landscaper and so being outdoors gardening suits me very nicely, especially since leaving the Forest School job. This month he took on a new member of staff and so I stepped back. For the first time I have been solely doing Alice Draws the Line work. 

I collected grasses (as I do most summers) this year I actually drew them! Then kept drawing them. They have become a favourite thing to draw and I'm already looking forward to collecting and drawing more next summer. I have a couple of vases of them in my studio that I occasionally revisit.

More walks and finding new places to explore near the studio. 

Sorted the studio so that a shop section was created. 

 

July

Three weeks missing in the diary here too!

New summer grasses greeting card and letter paper added to the website and my Etsy shop.

Launched my monthly giveaway - to be in with a chance to win a £15 voucher for my Etsy shop just tag me @alicedrawstheline and use the hashtag #alicedrawstheline on Instagram or e-mail me the picture. The winner is chosen at random at the end of each month.

Framed pieces ready for my exhibition at the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre which ran from the 15th and finished on the 31st August.

Finally managed to link my website shop with Instagram and Facebook (had been trying to do this for months!).

Some of my favourite pieces sold in the exhibition - this was a real confidence boost as I loved the style I'd created these in and they were bigger than the other work I'd been doing.

Had a couple of days away by the sea with one of my best friends - this was brilliant. We put the world to rights, had lots of sea air, chatted and chatted, had chips on the beach and in the evening snipped up magazines while drinking cocktails from a can at our accommodation. 

I saw a kingfisher on the river after months of looking in hope.

They trimmed the iconic yew hedge opposite the studio at the end of the month and I watched and sketched them from the studio window. 

  

August

More kingfisher spotting on the river.

Made a quill from an old seagull feather I've had for years. Loved the marks it makes - the start of many quill drawings. There is a video of me drawing with it on Instagram here

Drew the final bouquet for the 2021 calendar. 

Met with Andrea Gilpin ahead of a photoshoot at and near the studio, which then took place the following week. Really good to meet first, talk it through and work out a shoot list ahead of the day. I'm so thrilled with the images Andrea took. You can see more of her work over on her website by clicking here

I started sharing a few more of my own nature/ inspiration photos over on Instagram and Facebook. My camera reel is always full of photos and I decided it was time to share them.

 

September

Added more products to my website - this seemed to take forever. I hadn't realised just how many cards and products and how many different designs I have created since I started. 

It was my parent's Ruby wedding anniversary and we met at the seaside with my siblings and had a lovely day by the sea to celebrate.

Sold my first original pieces from the studio. A really useful reminder that if I let people know that my work is available to buy - that they might then choose to do so. 

The calendar samples arrived - a few edits made and then the print run ordered.

Rediscovered the joy that is gold ink. Added it to many pictures and experiments.

 

October

The 2021 wall calendars arrived from the printers and went on sale.

Autumnal hedgerow bouquets drawn with the feather quill - a possible idea for next year's calendar.

Photographed some of my Dad's carpentry tools and began drawing from the images for my carpentry card and cup design. 

Made a set of price range categories on my website to hopefully help browsers ahead of Christmas. 

Tried a distanced in person brush lettering workshop with a friend, although it worked and it was lovely to a)catch up and b)get the brush lettering workshop kit out again, I decided it just wasn't as lovely and relaxed when wearing a mask. Made the decision to continue to postpone re-launching my workshops for the time being.

 

November

Launched the Carpentry cup and card.

Delays receiving any more mugs from my printers. Order I put in last month now not going to arrive until the new year. Not ideal ahead of Christmas but can't be helped. A good lesson in not putting all my (business) eggs in one (product) basket.

Second lockdown. Quite busy online with sales. 

Filmed some videos for online brush lettering workshops - currently still work in progress.

Stretched (prepared) paper ready to do some bigger paintings. Made a series of paintings with black ink ahead of Black Friday and launched them then. Thrilled that some of these sold during that weekend. A different style for me and really enjoyable to do. Remaining available paintings can be found in the shop here.

The second edition of my Birthday / Perpetual calendar arrived from the printers and was photographed and put on the website and Etsy shop.   

Ordered a second print run of the 2021 wall calendar.

 

December

I went for a slightly different style of free botanical download this month and it was lovely to see it shared online, with lots of people having a go at home. The design was for a paper orange bauble.

I did a little 'open studio' joint event with Melissa Hunt who also has a studio in Brampton Bryan over two Saturdays in December. Hopefully in the future we will be able to have more of these events. 

It was lovely to see customers that called in this month and lovely to know that those that wanted to shop as locally as possible could do so. 

---

At the end of 2019, in the lovely between times of Christmas and New Year I reflected on 2019 and dreamt up a list of things I might like to do in 2020 to develop the business. 

On the list included moving to a studio, saying goodbye to Shrewsbury and moving further south, having some professional photographs done at the studio, and many workshops. Sadly the latter didn't happen but they will keep and run again one day. I was also keep to blog more which I have managed... although I do acknowledge I'd let the bar fall pretty low so I had a good place to start!

I'm going to spend some time over the next few days having a think about 2021 and what I might like to aim for in the coming year. 2020 has taught us more than ever that we have to be adaptable and not just assume things will be able to happen because they are scheduled in a diary!