Last week, I drove to the beautiful "Garden City" of Toowoomba, situated 130 km west of Brisbane. It was a business trip but I was lucky enough to mix in some pleasure when I called local artist Anna Bartlett. She kindly invited me over a cuppa and one of her delicious Peaches and Cream cupcakes and introduced me to her lovely family and creative space.
I first met Anna 2 years ago when she had enrolled in one of my screen-printing workshops and we have remained in touch ever since. This lovely lady totally amazes me with her boundless energy as she juggles a full house of children with her creative business Shiny Happy Art. Currently, she is hosting a charity drive but do read on to find out more.
What is Shiny Happy Art?
I love painting with bright colours and putting that final coat of varnish on, is perhaps my favourite part of the whole process. So about seven years ago I came up with Shiny Happy Art as a way of describing my work and it stuck. I have always planned to include work by other artists, with a similar approach, in my product range in the future. I am aiming to build something that will be a lot bigger than just me - it's just taking time!
My website is www.shinyhappyart.com and I am also a stockist of the wonderful "Golden" brand of acrylic paints. they simply make you paint better.
What do you make?
Over the years I've made so many things! For four years, I painted and sewed my own range of handbags but I really needed a break from that so now I mainly sell my original acrylic paintings (on canvas or paper), tea towels, aprons, hankies and stationery items including gift tags and bookplates. I really like to make art useful and I'm also collaborating with a ceramic artist at the moment. I also do a bit of graphic design and marketing consulting.
What inspires you?
Artistically, I love Matisse, Ken Done, Christopher O'Doherty (Reg Mombassa) and the amazing Sabrina Ward-Harrison.
Business wise, I'm inspired by the duo that is Prints Charming, Anahata at Papaya and Caroline Gavin from Ecojot. I'm also incredibly inspired by the many blogs that I follow. Reading them and writing my own blog always make me want to do more and do better.
Do you have professional training?
I have a marketing degree and a lot of graphic design experience. This year, I did a web design course and two years ago, I did a lovely screen-printing day with you, Thea!
How do you manage with family and working at home?
I've got four kids (ages 12 9, 3 and 1) and since my youngest was born, it's seriously hard to fit everything in. I have a laptop on a desk next to the dining table which I use a lot. But I pretty much just write off the daylight hours to parenting and the evenings to art, craft and business (I stay up way too late most nights of the week)! I know that my time at home with the kids is short in the grand scheme of things and from time to time, friends and family help me out with babysitting so I can finish a painting or two. My husband is great with the kids too, which really helps.
My main problem is idea overload thought. even though my brain is foggy from lack of sleep, I keep having ideas for things that I want to make or do. Last year, I started a card file to keep them all in so I basically do a brain dump and know it's all there to come to me when the babies are bigger.
Tell us about your charity drive.
I've just started selling a range of screen-printed hankies in what I'm calling THE GREAT HANKY DRIVE. The idea came to me when I started using some lovely old hankies that I found at Lifeline and they were just so handy!
I design and print them here at home and sell them thought my Madeit Store. I've got a stack of ideas for prints so am working through the list. They're great as a little gift popped in with a card or sent to someone who's sad.
50 cents from each hanky goes to the Scarlett Kisses project that a friend of mine runs. Basically, she bundles up a small photo frame with a sweet card that is given to mothers in hospital who have lost their baby to stillbirth or neonatal death. A SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Support) brochure is included in the package. My second baby was stillborn and SANDS helped me a lot, so it's a cause that's close to my heart. It's still a very small project at the moment but I believe it has great potential.
I aim to sell 1000 hankies by Christmas so I appreciate every order!
Would you share something interesting about you that isn't common knowledge?
I was in the Army Reserve for 6 years including one year full-time as Adjutant of the Queensland University Regiment. I look at the photos now though and it seems like a lifetime ago!
Thanks Anna! I really enjoyed finding out more about you. I know that you stay up late as we are often both blogging at the same crazy hour. It's nice to know that somebody is using the screen-printing skills that I taught them :)
Do say hello and support Anna's cause over her blog. You may also like to check out Toowoomba's upcoming Spring Carnival of Flowers.
Images are courtesy of Anna Bartlett except for portrait shot taken by me (Thea).
2 hours ago