Saturday, 7 July 2012


I recently went on a whistle stop trip to Scotland for four nights.  The plan to visit Scotland had started way back when I first got a new laptop that had Windows 7, and came with a default alternating background which included Dunnottar Castle. 

The idea was we would travel up through Edinburgh and see some things in Aberdeenshire, Perth etc.  That trip never materialised as we decided to buy a house instead.  This year Sam bought me this book:Exploring Britain's Castles

(For some reason mine has Corfe Castle on the cover rather than Harlech Castle)

If you hadn't guessed by now I like castles a fair bit.  I found some amazing castles in this book so set upon creating a tour plan for us. 

We would enter Scotland through Gretna Green and visit Caerlaverock Castle and if we had time, travel back on ourselves to see Hermitage Castle (Those who did A Level History will probably remember this castle being named a few times).  Caerlaverock Castle was such an interesting design being triangular shaped.  Hermitage is without doubt the most imposing castle I have ever seen and really emphasised it's dark history.

From there we then travelled to a hostel in Tyndrum where I faced criticism (from people who had no idea) that I had come to the wrong place to see castles, saying they were all on the other side of Scotland etc etc.  We had prepared ourselves for long drives and knew this would be the only way we would get see all that we wanted to.  The second day we saw four castles within a 40 mile radius.  So there!  These included Kilchurn Castle, Dunstaffnage Castle, Carnasserie Castle and Innis Chonnel.  granted we didn't get to explore Innis Chonnel as it is off shore and private.  If we would have only have had a rowing boat we could have explored the tiny island it stood on. If we go back we will defiantly contact the owners to get to see it. 

The next day we travelled north and visited the infamous Eilean Donan Castle and Urquhart Castle.  Both were lovely, although I felt the modern photographs of the family who own Eilean Donan Castle was completely inappropriate and felt as though they were desperate to cement a feeling of self importance. The sun came out in all its glory at Urquhart.  It was a lovely location on Loch Ness with really scenic views, could have stayed there all day.  From there we went up to Inverness to visit Sam's friend.

Day 4 we left the beautiful scenery of the west highlands and travelled east.  I discovered that no matter where you are in the UK, travelling east is always much more boring than travelling west (scenery-wise).  We travelled over to Stonehaven and visited Dunnottar Castle.  Such an interesting and complex place set on the North Sea.  It is well worth a visit as there is so much to explore.  I did feel however that the owners would benefit greatly from merchandise. (no gift shop!). 

We then chose to visit Craigievar Castle.  Craigievar Castle is what I imagine Disney Castle was based on.  Such a beautiful and enchanting building, and to make it even more fairy tale like, its pink.  All visitors are treated to a (very interesting) guided tour.  So beautifully designed with excellent examples of craftsmanship (although there were two exceptionally poor portraits). 

I already can't wait to go back to Scotland and see some more.  The landscape there is fantastic, although I certain and quite quickly got used to the scene (pine trees, mountains, lochs, fern grass and fox gloves).  It is amazing how you'll be driving for hours, see one house and then drive a hundred miles more before seeing another. 

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Self Promoting

About a year ago I started to dabble in stamp making. I had a Lino carving set left over from university, and I bought a bunch of erasers and carved into them. Its an easy method with Fairly sweet results.

I made these amongst a few other and then found that I was finding it difficult to get erasers that were any larger. So I turned to soft Lino. The tools I have aren't very good, I aim to get better ones once the summer is over and I'll have a but more money. (my bank account is still recovering from buying myself a new car, and I have a hotel to pay for soon). I can't tell you how many mistakes i have made with this cutting set e the blade as slipped. I quickly lose my temper when this happens. I'm considering moving onto hard Lino as - to my very limited understanding, it produces better results.

I have a love for British medieval castles, so I have been creating some prints of welsh castles; mainly North Wales as that's where I grew up and these are the ones I am mostly familiar with.

My drawing style has been described as naive, which I took as a compliment. I'd say my carving skills are even more naive which in my humble opinion work with these castles. Years of wear, neglect and acid rain has left a lot of these castles far from their once glorious self. I always imagine the castles in north wales as part of the scenery, as organic shapes that have been there as long as the hills they are sat on, and the mountains that create their magnificent backdrop.

Lino printing is great because it can be reproduced, and I live that they aren't always identical, especially as I don't have a press and do it all by hand. I decided as I have, for as long as the linocut lives, the ability to produce an infinite amount of prints I should try and sell some. So I opened up an Etsy shop.
Click here to see the shop

Etsy seems to be a very popular site. I however am completely dumbfounded by it and have absolutely no idea how to traffic in potential customers to my shop. I don't understand treasuries or circles. Needless to say I have not sold one yet!

So the other day I decided I need to be advertising these prints where people are going to be looking for them. I got some postcards printed at and they arrived yesterday. This morning I sent a load of postcards to small businesses in North Wales that I feel would attract the right people to want to buy these prints. I just hope some of the people I have contacted will find the time to get in contact.
Any tips on how to get your work seen by the right people, and advertised in the right place, please share your wisdom!!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Some inspiring things from instagram.

I have not long since joined instagram. The reason I am so late was because I failed to realise that it is a social networking site. I had always assumed it was a poor man's hipstamatic. What's great is you can up load old photos to it too. I have sound some wonderful illustrative pieces on there. Here's a couple (screen capped on my iPhone so that you can find the artist)

I'm not really sure how you search tags on names on instagram. The only tags I have been able to search are ones that already exist in my feed. The only people I have found is through tags and by looking through followers/following lists. But if anybody figures it out my user name is super_beck.

Suggestions of other inspiring creators on instagram would be greatly appreciated.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Stop Motion

I ordered myself a tripod for my iPhone, not just any tripod, a very bendy tripod with legs that can be wrapped around things so that your phone can be held at all sort of angles.  This is because I downloaded a stop motion app ages ago but never had much luck using it as I could never take the next photo from the exact same place again.  A tripod was needed and this seemed heaven sent. 

I always enjoyed dabbling in animation,  I loved seeing still things come to life.  I cant wait to get making short 10 - 30 second clips.  Waiting for inspiration as always.   I decided to have a quick scout around on the web for some stop motion stuff (yes there's a lot) and I came across this.

Stop Motion Freud

So flawless, I am in awe, and a little set back.  I don't think my patients or my iphone would ever venture to create something as great.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012


It's been a while. I sort of gave up. I get easily destracted when something new comes along. I'm like a child, I can only hold One interest at a given time.

I'm posting again to create myself a little encyclopaedia of inspiration which I can visit at my hearts content and use as an index of things I've found useful and interesting. And I know it will work because until I logged back on just now I forgot that I ever went to retro active all those months ago.

So this is going to be a place for me, I hope others find it of use too.

I want to get back into illustrating but it's so hard doing it alone with no real goal to it. I have been at a complete loss since leaving university but I'm going to try and keep my hand in, just so I'm not wasting something I worked so hard on for three years of my life. This is one of my first real steps back into that world.

I started exploring Lino printing about a year ago. I combined it with my love for castles. I have quite a few but have mounted some and they can be seen and bought here:

My Etsy Store

So I'll try and stick to it this time. Wish me luck.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Retro Active

Yesterday I went to this.

It all started at 11:30am, and from what I gather went on until 1am the next day. We got there just as the day was kicking off. The place was already packed out. There was s stall selling video games, a stall selling retro toys (I think he was selling anyway, I really wasn't sure if he was just showing off), a stall that sold prints - this was weird, I couldn't make out why they were there, they weren't even movie poster prints-just student silk screen prints I think. And finally a stall selling American sweets and drinks. We got two cans of root beer, and I tried a Baby Ruth and a Twinkie, I was not impressed by either!

This is the first time I had ever gone to the cinema and seen more than one film. Our first film was the Goonies. Great way to start the day, impossible to get bored watching that film because so much happens.
After this film ended we decided to walk around the games rooms. They had a few areas dedicated for gamers, including a tournament room. We went into the big game room where they had loads of different systems (I'm not going to even pretend to know what I'm talking about so to save myself embarrassment, they ranged from old to new). We had a quick game on street fighter, then we had to evacuate. I had never smelt so many people with BO in all my life. One person even smelt like a rancid sack of onions. We then went to visit the tournament room. They were playing bomber-man. It smelt like feet.

We then saw Labyrinth. I had never seen it before. Now I know why, it was awful!!!

The next film was Ghostbusters. It won a vote from Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Weird Science, Top Gun and Splash. It was obvious It would win but I would have liked it if Ferris had won. I have seen Ghostbusters at the cinema before, I am please to say this time the audience did not sing along to the theme tune.

Then we watched Lost Boys. I've seen this at the cinema before too. It just doesn't get old for me. I love it! We then left. Tired, my eyes were dry and I could barely see anything more than a foot away from me. The night continued with Robocop and Big Trouble in Little China, but I didn't care for either. They could have made much better choices.

All in all it was a fun day. I can't wait to see if they do another themed day, apparently they made a sci-fi day once.

Monday, 29 August 2011

All things decorating

I have not posted in a while, this is because I have been so busy with having to be back at work, which i am really not enjoying anymore so when I get home I just want to look for work, or feel sorry for my self. Also because this week the plumber finally started work!!! It still isn't finished yet which is a major pain, but it's getting there.

This weekend my parents have been up so we've been trying to get the tiling done. Typically we had to be awkward and buy quite expensive tiles that have absorbed all my money and is taking a while to put up. It's only about half done so I won't post a picture. I hate things half done, I always feel it's such an uphill struggle from then on.

Here is the inspiration for the decor in the bathroom.

Basically what we had done in the bathroom was quite major. We bought the house when it only had a bath, no shower. I love my showers but also treat myself to a bath every now and then. Ideally we wanted to get an electric shower to have in the bath, maybe get one of those L shaped baths from the bathstore. However, our bathroom is ably very small, it also has a sloping roof. We have therefore had to move the bath to run along the sloping roof, move the toilet further up the wall, put a standing shower in the corner where the roof is highest, moved the position of the radiator, and exchanged it for a towel rail, and moved the sink a couple of inches. I don't even want to think of the price!!! The only thing that's kept from the old bathroom is the sinks and the taps.

I also wanted to move the lighting cables so we could have wall lights, but now I really just want things done. This will have to wait a few years.

I also want to change the kitchen floor eventually. The kitchen is the only place we haven't re decorated. We're quite lucky because its lovely, and came with the cooker, fridge freezer and washing machine. It came with a tumble dryer too but were not keeping that. The floor is lino. It's fine for the time being but eventually, probably a few years down the line I would like natural multicoloured slate flooring. Like this:

I came across this wallpaper on The style files. It's so much fun. I wish I'd have seen it before we pretty much finished the decorating.