Tag Archives: art

Foxes & Angels Greetings Cards review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of a product that I received for free.  All opinions are my own.

It is always a delight when I receive a nice card with a lovely personal message, so I like to give similar to my family and close friends, either making the cards myself or taking great care choosing ones to purchase. The key criteria for me is that cards should be environmentally friendly, so I was very happy to discover Foxes & Angels, who offered to send me a free pack of cards to review. As times are tough for small businesses right now, I said that 2 cards would be sufficient.

Foxes & Angels Greetings Cards

The cards are beautifully illustrated by Besheer Abbaro, a descendant of Sir Edwin Lutyens the architect, using techniques of lino prints, drawing and painting. I am always in awe of people who can craft such lovely designs. Besheer is very talented like my brother-in-law, who does traditional wood block printing.

It was particularly poignant to receive the Alexandra Palace scene, as that is one of the venues where my mum used to exhibit and teach at craft shows. She used to make so many different types of cards – cross-stitch, iris folding, quilling, tea bag folding to name but a few. I’m sure I got my own love of craft from her.

Foxes & Angels Alexandra Place Christmas Card

These cards are blank inside and measure approximately 18cm by 13cm, so lots of space for your message. The cards are printed on good quality FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) certified card, as they have been unable to source suitable recycled card to showcase the lovely images but they are still pursuing this. And the envelopes are brown kraft recycled paper. They offer a choice of protective recycled cellophane bags which are made from corn starch or small paper card clasps when you purchase online. The clasps are a peelable label. Alternatively you may opt for neither. I was pleased to see that the external postal packaging also looked recycled and noted the use of paper tape. Their website states that they are always seeking to reduce their carbon footprint where possible.

Foxes & Angels Christmas Card

As well as Christmas cards, the range encompasses birthday, new baby, new home, thinking of you, music exam and everyday cards.

In addition to their own online shop, the cards are also sold via a selection of independent retailers. I think it would be useful to the consumers who purchase the cards via these other stockists, if there were some indication that the bags are biodegradable cellophane and more importantly, how to dispose of them. Perhaps this information could be incorporated onto the reverse of the cards.

It would also be great to see more information on the website regarding estimates of how long the biodegradable recycled cellophane bags take to degrade and whether they are suitable for home or industrial composting.

Foxes & Angels Christmas Card

The pricing of the cards is excellent value, currently most of the range is priced at £2.75 each or packs of 6 for £11. Checkout process is simple.

Do take a look at the range to see all the other great designs. They have a great vintage retro look. And thankfully no pesky glitter or foil embellishments in sight.

Foxes & Angels greetings cards

Foxes & Angels greetings cards

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a selection of both winter and their new spring season greetings cards courtesy of Foxes & Angels to one lucky winner. A lovely prize.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I think Stag At Night is my favourite and I’d love to hear which card design you like best.

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The Horse’s Arse by Laura Gascoigne

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Horse’s Arse by Laura Gascoigne to review.

The Horse's Arse by Laura Gascoigne

Here is the book blurb.

Patrick Phelan is an ageing artist who has never made it big but who somehow manages to live on air in a North London suburb.

When not running art classes for amateurs, Patrick wrestles in the shed at the bottom of his garden with his life’s work: a series of visionary canvases of The Seven Seals.

When his wheeler-dealer son Marty turns up with a commission from a rich client for some copies of paintings by modern masters, Phelan reluctantly agrees; it means money for his ex-wife Moira. However the deal with Marty is, typically, not what it seems.

What follows is a complex chain of events involving fakery, fraud, kidnapping, murder, the Russian Mafia and a cast of dubious art world characters. A contemporary spin on Joyce Cary’s classic satire The Horse’s Mouth, The Horse’s Arse by Laura Gascoigne is a crime thriller-cum-comic-fable that poses the serious question: where does art go from here?

Although enjoyable, I found the first few chapters very disjointed as the scene gets set. The book starts with Pat in the shed at the bottom of his garden, painting a copy of a Degas. We then meet Pat’s son Martin with art dealer James Duval who is researching for a lost painting. Pat also teaches an amateur art class called the Blue Orangers in his shed. What a lovely name. Pat then earns another £3000 copying a Derain in between working on his own series The Seven Seals.

There were lots of other characters to come to grips with from the art world and I kept getting confused. Gallery directors, auctioneers, art journalists, art critics, even a police art expert, etc. But the story packs a lot in besides the fake paintings – burglary, murder, kidnapping, romance between Daniel and Yasmin who are on the trail to work out what is going on.

The Horse’s Arse is available for pre-order on Amazon, currently priced at £8.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. A nice story, but you do need to concentrate, as it is so busy.

An extract from Chapter XXXII of The Horse’s Arse, where art magazine editor Fay Lacey-Piggott has just discovered that her young intern Daniel Colvin has made a sensational scoop.  

“By 7pm the preview for RDV’s Boegemann sale would be in full swing, but Fay Lacey-Piggott – the woman known in the trade as Network Southeast for her dedication to social linkage – was still at her desk. The joke was unfair on Fay, who was a lot more punctual, although tonight she’d be missing the speeches and perhaps, in these times of austerity, even the champagne.

To be perfectly honest, she wasn’t that bothered. She’d seen it all where Boegemann was concerned – there were only so many shades of grey a girl could take – and any VIPs who turned up to this evening’s reception would have been at the State exhibition a few months before.

Been there, done that. So the little black dress she had collected from the dry cleaners that morning was still hanging on the back of her office door, its plastic cover bloating in the air from the fan heater she had switched on against the autumn chill.

Outside Fay’s office window it was spitting with rain. Inside, the editor’s mouse scurried over the face of her hot pink Marilyn mouse mat, whiskers twitching with unusual nervous excitement.

She’d been right about Daniel. This was dynamite. Suddenly it all made sense; the story held water. But could Marquette run it? That was the question.”

About Laura Gascoigne

Currently living in Hampstead, North London, Laura Gascoigne has worked as an art journalist for over twenty years, editing Artists & Illustrators (1994-1999) before going freelance. Laura was born in Cairo in 1950, the daughter of a bookseller and an Italian teacher, and grew up in Brussels and Cambridge before studying Classics at Oxford University. Her sister is the writer Marina Warner. Surrounded as a child by the paintings her father collected, she has always had a passion for art and when not writing about it, she paints.

I’m participating in the blog tour. Do take time to browse round some of the other posts.

The Horse's Arse by Laura Gascoigne

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Painting with PlayColor

Bigjigs introduced Playcolor products to their range back in March of this year. It is the no mess
painting alternative and they sent me a free sample in red and gold for the boys to try out.

Play Colour

It has taken us a while to get round to trying it out, but last weekend son2 put Playcolor to the test.

Playcolor Metallic Solid Poster Paint

Son2 tested them out on his bear picture and we were both very impressed. It was easy for him to hold and use. It functions like a glue stick with a rotating mechanism and has a lid to replace after use. It dries very quickly on the paper and washes off his hands easily.

Playcolor Metallic Solid Poster Paint

So Playcolor has all of the benefits of poster paint but without any of the mess! No need for water or paintbrushes and doesn’t wrinkle the paper either. Quick drying and solvent free. The range includes paints for use on paper, cardboard, textiles, and even face paints.

A pack of 6 assorted 10g colours currently retails for £5.99. Good value in my opinion and ideal for school or home use. Suitable for age 3+.

And I have an offer to pass on to my readers – 10% off your next purchase of Playcolor at Bigjigs with discount code: “GBPC10PC”. This offer can also be redeemed on Amazon, so long as you select Bigjigs Toys as the seller.

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Family Fever

Disclosure.  This post is a review of a product I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Skinny Sketchers review & giveaway

Last month I told you the exciting news about the Inventors Workshop which is being held on September 22nd. And today I want to talk about the Skinny Sketcher which has been invented by Gillian Logan, one of the speakers at the workshop. I received two free Skinny Sketcher drawing kits to review, which have now been road-tested by the boys.

Skinny Sketcher drawing kits

Son1 opted for London Flavour whilst son2 chose The Fast and The Curious.

Each kit contains 6 drawing designs and sheets of tracing paper, plus a propelling pencil in a visually attractive container which looks like a takeaway coffee cup. I can imagine these standing out on the shop shelf.

Son1 chose to draw the London Eye from his kit.

Skinny Sketchers drawing

Skinny Sketchers drawing

Meanwhile son2 did all the drawings in his kit in about the same time as son1 spent on one drawing, although not nearly as carefully. However they both enjoyed doing their drawings and I was pleased to see them absorbed in what they were doing rather than their usual request for more screen time.

Skinny Sketchers Drawing

Skinny Sketchers Drawing

Skinny Sketchers Drawing

The designs are built up step-by-step, a great way to help you learn to draw freehand. There are six kits in the range. The other four are Architecture, Butterflies & Blossoms, Capture The Castle and Dinosaurs.

These kits currently retail on Amazon for £6.99 each compared to an RRP of £7.99, excellent value in my opinion. They would make great stocking fillers or use them for party bags. I always try to avoid the standard party bag fare and usually opt for books, so these would be nice instead.

Gillian Logan with Skinny Sketcher

Mumpreneur, Gillian Logan, inventor of Skinny Sketcher

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway the full range of Skinny Sketcher drawing kits to two lucky winners. That is 6 kits each, so loads of fun.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear what you would like to draw.

And don’t forget that my blog special offer of £99 for the Inventors Workshop is still valid. Just call Georgia on 01992 535646 and quote the code Charlie99 to book your discounted ticket.

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Family Fever

Disclosure. This post is a review of a product I was sent for free. All opinions are my own.

Galt’s Mini Masterpiece – ‘The Kiss’ by Gustav Klimt

Earlier this year Galt Toys asked famous contemporary artist Ed Chapman to recreate Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe portrait using Galt arts and crafts materials. The result was a stunning Marilyn Masterpiece, which just showed the fantastic artwork that can be achieved with the right supplies and a little bit of imagination. Following on from this Galt has now launched its very own ‘Mini Masterpiece’ series – 6 templates from famous works of art that little ones can print and decorate themselves, to create their very own mini masterpieces!

My boys were very pleased to be invited to take part in the third challenge in the series until they heard which piece of artwork they were going to recreate. A mini masterpiece of ‘The Kiss’ by Gustav Klimt. Their art appreciation from previous gallery school visits vanished and there was a chorus of kiss, yuck. And why can’t we do Starry Night (which was the theme of challenge 2).

The Kiss is a very famous painting by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt. The painting is part of his ‘Golden Period’ when he created a number of paintings using a similar gilded Art Nouveau style, and took him a year to paint from 1908 until 1909. The masterpiece is of a man and woman embracing, each wearing an elaborate gold robe painted using oil paint with layers of gold leaf.

The boys were slightly mollified when I showed them the free product that Galt had sent us to help create their mini masterpieces. It was a Sponge Painting Set.

Sponge Painting

So we opened up the Sponge Painting set. Son1 pressed out the sponges whilst son2 pressed out the stencils. Meanwhile I was delegated to squeeze a dollop of each colour paint onto a saucer and mix with some water as per the instructions. It was difficult to judge how much water to add.

Then the boys set to, decorating their versions of ‘The Kiss’ with sponge painting. Frequent calls to mum to mix more paint or to wash a sponge so it could be used in a different colour. We did find that the sponges were mostly much bigger than the tiny sections of the design of ‘The Kiss’, so probably a fine paintbrush would have been easier to use in this instance than the sponges. But after getting over their initial reluctance, the boys had great fun producing their own mini masterpieces.

sponge painting

sponge painting

Also Galt are running a kids competition to win a big bundle of arts and crafts goodies. Just download and print off a copy of ‘The Kiss’ template for your mini artists to have a go at recreating.

Family Fever

Disclosure.  This post includes a review of a product I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.