Sunday, 23 December 2018

Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas

Hi everyone.

If you’ve left your Christmas shopping really late and I mean Christmas Eve kind of late, there is no need to panic. My new online Etsy shop MJL Digital Designs is finally up and running and has some great printable items that you can download instantly, print out as many times as you like and then give as gifts.

I’ve designed everything in the shop myself using original artwork and there will be lots more new and exciting products coming in 2019. It’s taken me rather longer than I’d anticipated to set up the shop but I hope you agree that the wait has been worth it.

I’ve picked out three items that I think would make great gifts, not just for Christmas but for other times of year as well. Just click on the image to be taken the shop to make a purchase. Your download should be with you as soon as your payment is made.

The first item I’ve chosen is one of my 2019 ‘Year At A Glance’ calendars that would look great on a wall or on a desk. You can print it out in different sizes and all you need to do is add is a matching frame for a really affordable and unusual gift. I love the artwork that I used for this design. It comes from a really pretty digikit by DaisyTrail called Woodland Walk which has beautiful hand-painted images of woodland creatures in a watercolour style.

The second item is a piece of digital wall art with a design that would be perfect (or should that be purrrrfect) for a cat lover’s gift or anyone of a “certain age” who fondly remembers that saggy, baggy Children’s TV favourite Bagpuss. The quotation is probably quite appropriate at this time of year, too!

My final selection is another calendar and I’ve gone for a gardening theme this time. Again, the artwork is hand-painted (not by me I hasten to add) and although there is a pink wheelbarrow, most of the other colours in the design, including the hessian style background, would make this calendar an ideal gift for a male recipient.

Don’t forget, all the items in my shop are printable downloads only there is never any waiting for a physical product to be shipped and of course, that means no postage costs to pay either. And in the unlikely event that you have any problems downloading or printing your purchase, then please feel free to contact me at any time, even on Christmas Day!

So all that remains for me to do, having hopefully helped with your last minute gift dilemmas, is to wish you all a very happy and joyful Christmas, wherever you are and whatever you will be doing.

See you on the Other Side!

Sunday, 1 July 2018

New Etsy Shop Opening Soon

Hi everyone.

As usual, it’s been a while, but here I am at last. The summer is never my best time of year as I’m not a fan of the heat but this year I have tried completely reversing my sleep pattern and getting up around 6am so that I can work when it is much cooler. I think it has helped quite a bit although I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to keep it up!

Summer can be a good time for making those “behind the scenes” decisions though and one of the ones I made recently was to close down my digital wall art shop on Etsy. Sales have not been great but it was mainly because I have some exciting plans for a new Etsy shop and I wanted to clear the decks, as it were.

My new shop will still be stocking digital downloads or “printables” as they are often called but they won’t just be wall art this time. I’m planning on offering digital craft supplies such as toppers, embellishments, card fronts, background papers etc that I have designed myself, as well as stationery including party invitations, calendars, notepaper and greetings cards. All of these will be available to download instantly and print out (as many times as you like) in the comfort of your own home on the medium of your choice. It will be a new challenge for me but one that I’m really looking forward to.

To whet your appetite for what is to come, here are three of my designs that I hope will be on sale in my new Etsy shop very soon.

The first one is a sheet of embellishments that are intended for use in craft projects such as greetings cards, scrapbooking or home d├ęcor. The artwork is based on some photos I took of the roses in my back garden when I first acquired a digital camera several years ago and which I have used many times on various projects.

To put together the images, I created a heart digital punch in CraftArtist 2 Professional  from a CC vector graphic and used it to punch out of a small section of different photos. Then it was just a matter of playing around with a few different colours, blends and effects to make each embellishment different from the next.

The party invitation below is my second design and it will be available in a 5x7 format with two designs to an A4 sheet. Although many of the printable party invitations available on Etsy are customisable, there are some that you fill in yourself such as this one. I love the artwork which is from a digikit called On Trend by the American company Crate Paper. It has a mixture of pretty, contemporary and vintage elements which is the perfect combination as far as I’m concerned. I used a template for the text that I designed for a previous invitation, so all I had to do was copy/paste the text and then put the new artwork around it.

My third design is a piece of A4 wall art which would look great in a frame. I actually created this in an 8x8 orientation originally as that was the format I was using for my previous Etsy shop. This time round, I’ve decided to offer A4 wall art instead as I think it is probably more “user-friendly”, although obviously I’d be happy to offer a square layout if the customer wanted it.

The lovely pink flamingo comes from a really great graphics website that I discovered recently called The Hungry JPEG. They do some fantastic graphics at really affordable prices and all their products come complete with a very workable and free commercial license.

The rest of the design elements are from one of my favourite DaisyTrail digikits called Butterfly Paradise. It is one of the very first digikits I ever bought (I now have over 200!) and I always enjoy going back to it as the artwork is so bright and colourful to work with.

To keep up to speed on when my new Etsy shop is open for business, do keep an eye on my social media links as I'll be posting regular updates there.

In the meantime, enjoy the summer and stay cool!

STOP PRESS!! My Etsy shop is now open and I'd be delighted if you could pay it a visit. Here is the link:

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Make It In Design Winter School

Hi everyone.

I started my last blog post by saying that I couldn't believe it was almost Christmas and now I'm starting this blog post by saying that I can't believe it's almost Easter! Somehow, nearly four months have gone by since I lasted posted and I can only apologise for my lack of contact.

Although it is officially spring in my part of the world, even though we don't yet have the weather to prove it, I am going to blog about Winter School today. As part of my New Year Resolution (remember those?) to commit more wholeheartedly to my designing career, I enrolled on the Make It In Design Winter School. This took place for four weeks during January and according to the blurb is "an exciting global online design event that gives you experience working to Autumn/Winter 2018/19 trend briefs, helps build your portfolio and connect with other designers and gives you the opportunity to get your work published."

There were several reasons why I decided to enrol in Winter School this year and one of them was because Make It In Design is one of the leading global organisations for providing courses and information on surface pattern design which is an aspect of designing that I am keen to learn more about and develop further skills in.

Surface Pattern Designs On Mobile Phone Cases

Unfortunately, the experience of Winter School was not quite as good for me as I was hoping it would be. A lot of this was due to the technical and administrative problems I encountered which were very off-putting. However, as a result of the complaint I made regarding some of these issues at the beginning of the course, I was given a free place on both the Intermediate and the Advanced tracks, even though I had only signed up for the Beginner track.

The other problem I encountered which I felt put me at a bit of a disadvantage was that I am currently not using any of the "industry-standard" computer graphics software programs such as Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator. Because I came to designing via crafting, I have been managing quite well, at least until now, with crafting based programs such as CraftArtist Professional 2. However, not having the programs that most of the other course participants were using probably didn't help.

My Design For Beginner Brief 1: Neutral Art

Anyway, despite all of the above problems, I did eventually manage to produce designs for the two trend briefs for the Beginner track and the two trend briefs for the Intermediate track. (I didn't attempt any of the Advanced track briefs in the end). I also enjoyed interacting with some of the other course participants in the Winter School Facebook group and being inspired by their amazing work. And I did learn quite a lot more about surface pattern design and other aspects of art and design which was very helpful.

My Design For Beginner Brief 2: Autumn Equinox

My Design For Intermediate Brief 1: Bright Blooms

My Design For Intermediate Brief 2: Kabuki's Kingdom

It was also really useful to see my designs, alongside those of all the other participants, in the online Winter School Galleries and to feel that despite my inexperience and lack of technical expertise, my work did not look at all out of place. You can view all the 2018 Winter School Galleries here.

I definitely feel that I have raised my skill levels in surface pattern design, which was one of the main reasons I signed up for Winter School, so I don't have any regrets about doing it, even if it did turn out to be a lot more stressful and therefore a lot less enjoyable than I would have liked. So, onwards and upwards.

Happy designing and Happy Easter.

And I promise to be back before Bonfire Night!

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Downloadable 2018 Calendars

Hi everyone

How did it get to be December?! This year seems to have flown by, although I probably say that every year now.

I've been very busy recently and have finally set up a designing website and the relevant Social Media pages. I really enjoyed doing all of that, especially the website portfolio, although it did take a lot longer to complete than I'd expected.

Here are the relevant links if you have a moment to drop in on any of them:

Just before I embarked on all of that, I made sure I had designed some downloadable 2018 calendars for my Etsy wall art shop. I really enjoy designing calendars and not just because I prefer New Year to Christmas. They are quite a straightforward item to create, once you have the template and layout sorted, so I thought I would share some of my designs with you in this post.

For the first design, I used elements from a lovely digikit from Crate Paper called On Trend. It has a 'modern vintage' look to it, if that makes any sense, and is packed full of gorgeous embellishments from butterflies to florals, pocket watches to birds and tea-cups to word art. The background papers are fab too and I created my own from one of them.

For the next design I used a Creative Commons photo of some beautiful trees that are bursting with pink blossom. Just what we need to remind us that spring will turn up again eventually! I added some elements from a digikit called CS English Town (from the late lamented DaisyTrail) which seems to give the design a slightly more quirky style. 

The third design was created using another lovely DaisyTrail digikit called Woodland Walk. This is one of my favourite kits as it has some really beautiful water-colour style images of wild animals, as well as some pretty florals. For calendar designs, I particularly like digikits where there are suitable images to match the months. I added some embellishments from the kits to one of the papers to create my own background.

All final images Copyright Melissa Lawrence 2017

These calendar designs, as well as a couple of others, are all available as instant downloads from my Etsy shop and would make an attractive and very affordable Christmas present.

If I'm not back here again before Christmas, have a good one. 

Happy designing and Happy Christmas.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Peerless Designs Tangletastic CD-Roms

Hi everyone.

I hope you are fit and well. I'm trying hard to stick to my resolution of blogging "little and often" although it's rather a loose definition if I'm honest!

There is quite a lot going on in my life at the moment and I am always looking for ways to de-stress. One of my new favourite stress-busters is the art of zentangling. If you've never heard of zentangling before, this definition may help:

The Zentangle Method is an easy-to-learn, relaxing, and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns. Almost anyone can use it to create beautiful images. It increases focus and creativity, provides artistic satisfaction along with an increased sense of personal well being. The Zentangle Method is enjoyed all over this world across a wide range of skills, interests and ages.
You can find out more at:

Artwork from Peerless Designs Tangletastic 3 CD-Rom
Final Image Design by Melissa Lawrence

I first came across zentangling when it was demonstrated on Create and Craft by Mel Heaton. To be honest, I was put off it at first because it felt too "regimented" and also because I didn't have enough confidence at that stage in my artistic skills and thought I couldn't do it.
Then along came Sarah Hallam, the multi-talented artist, designer and founder of the crafting company Peerless Designs. She had produced an amazing range of CD-Roms called Tangletastic which were her version of zentangling and perfect for people like me who were put off by "proper" zentangling and wanted to do their own thing with pattern and design using Sarah's wonderful artwork.

Artwork from Peerless Designs Tangletastic 3 CD-Rom
Final Image Design by Melissa Lawrence

Thanks to Sarah, I now feel much more confident about zentangling or "tangling" as we non-purists prefer to call it and have been frankly amazed at some of the designs I've been able to produce. Yes, it is incredibly relaxing to do and a great stress-buster, but it's also helped develop my art and design skills, as well as increased my awareness of pattern. So whatever your reasons are for wanting to try it, just go for it. You won't be disappointed and your family and friends might not even recognise the new, wonderfully calm you!

Artwork from Peerless Designs Tangletastic 3 CD-Rom
Final Image Design by Melissa Lawrence

Happy designing!

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Art Journalling The Digital Way

Hi everyone.

I hope you are having a good summer, assuming it is summer in your part of the world, of course.

I recently made a Mid Year's Resolution (as opposed to a New Year's Resolution) to change my approach to blogging and go for "little and often" rather then "long and infrequently"! So I'm starting as I mean to go on with this art journalling page, done the digital way.

I started art journalling in the real world last year, thanks to a brilliant book I found by art journalist Dawn DeVries Sokol called Art Doodle Love. I'd highly recommend it, especially if like me you are new to the wonderful and creative world of art journalling.

One of the problems I find with art journalling is that I can't draw, at least I don't feel I can but that's a whole other story. So when I discovered a fantastic digikit called Pitkinesque by Gibby Frogett Craftations, I was delighted to realise that I could now create just the sort of designs I was looking for but digitally instead of by hand. Here is the first page I have done.

Artwork by Gibby Frogett Craftations
Final Design by Melissa Lawrence

Thanks to the very inspiring items in this amazing digikit, I feel that it might not be too long before I feel ready to have a go at creating art journalling designs with my own hand-drawn artwork. In the meantime, I'm just really glad that there are such talented artists out there who are willing to share their considerable artistic talents with us lesser mortals!

Pitkinesque is a Personal Use Only digikit and currently only intended for DaisyTrail members. 

Friday, 10 March 2017

Sunflowers & Stars Digikit from MJM Studios

Hi everyone.

So things haven't exactly gone according to plan since my last post due to my "hormonal hell" (as I've taken to calling it) which has pretty much brought my life to a complete standstill over the last couple of months or so. Fortunately, I do seem to be moving forward again now, thanks to a combination of HRT and a lot of rest but I wouldn't say I'm quite out of the woods yet.

All things work-wise have had to go on hold but I have just started to try and catch up on the projects I was doing before things went so awry. I was pleased this week to be able to finally finish the samples I was asked to do for Michelle Jackson-Mogford to help promote the fabulous new digikits she launched on DaisyTrail way back in September.

If you would like to see my samples from the first three digikits you can find them here:

My final samples come from a digikit which Michelle has called Sunflowers & Stars. Like all the other kits, it was inspired by one of her favourite artists. In this case it was Vincent van Gogh, the famous Dutch post-Impressionist painter.

The first design is for an A4 'Year At A Glance' calendar which I had actually managed to complete before I went AWOL and when 2017 still seemed fresh and new in everyone's minds. I used a calendar template I had already designed using the CraftArtist 2 Professional computer software and added a background paper from the digikit. I then blended in some of the lovely hand-painted embellishments to create my own bespoke background. For each month, I chose a different and appropriate embellishment and finished the design off with the artist's own quote which was one of several that Michelle had included in the kit.

For my second sample I wanted to do something a little different and used a design mock-up photo of two notebooks. This is the original photo:

And here are the designs I've added using some of the gorgeous hand-painted sunflower embellishments and a section of digital material from the digikit. Quite a difference, isn't there?

My third project is a piece of wall art which I must admit is probably my favourite of the three. I found a Creative Commons image on the internet of one of van Gogh's self-portraits and took it into the Cut Out Studio in Craft Artist to remove the background. I then added some appropriate embellishments to one of the scroll embellishments from the kit. The background was a blend of a digital background and a section of digital material with star gem embellishments added to create the starry sky. Finally I "frayed" the edges digitally to give it more of an artist's canvas look.

It has been an absolute pleasure to work with all of Michelle's digikits and I can highly recommend them whether you are new to the wonderful world of digital crafting and design or just starting out on your journey. Like most of us who admire her work and have been inspired by it, I can't wait for the next ones.

Happy designing! 

All final designs copyright Melissa Lawrence 2017