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Spring Promises of Bluebells, Butterflies & Birds


Our human brains love ‘patterns’. We have a natural aptitude in recognizing them. Writers, particularly journalists, love nothing more than an amazing alliteration where the first consonant in every word (or stressed syllables within the words) is repeated. You can see patterns in poetic stanzas using ABA rhyming patterns or even the not-so-humble syllabic Haiku – all examples of a pattern.

As a nature lover, I observe patterns all around as we cycle through the seasons. Nature is full of patterns from the rings inside a tree trunk, to the waves that ebb and flow on our coastal beaches. I find it mesmerising and meditative to study the patterns in the smallest petal, leaf, feather or scale. My latest illustration is a pattern that brought me joy to create. Its shape and emergence in our Scottish woodlands is a welcome reminder, a hopeful promise, that Spring is softening the hard ground, and the sun will rise above the horizon for more than a few hours a day.

There is a very good reason why our brains love patterns and it’s key to our survival. Pattern recognition allows us to anticipate what comes next. Our brains are busily matching and sorting, comparing images we see with images we have stored so we can assess whether something could be a threat. Put simply, patterns help us make sense of the world and our place in it.

When you look at the graceful bowing bell of the bluebell or watch the butterfly ‘s natural display of geometric colours and patterns as it gathers the bluebell’s nectar, you instantly feel the associated memories come flooding back. Memories of sunshine and bird song that have been in hibernation along with your summer clothes and bucket and spade.

In the natural world, the ‘blue’ Bluebell connects us to the blue of water and the blue of the sky. Water is the source of life, while blue skies mean optimism and possibilities. So we can say the colour blue reminds us of freedom and care -free days – it reminds us of Spring and new beginnings.  

We made it through the winter. Welcome to Spring everyone. I hope you enjoy my latest Bluebell pattern ….

This Round of Robins could be winging their way to you

Does someone in your life love to watch the birds in the garden? Our latest illustration featuring a Round of Robins could make the perfect gift.
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The Fickle Nature of February

round of robbins

February flew in on the wings of a Robin or two  – in fact – a ‘Round of Robins’ made their first appearance on my sketchpad. As the trio of cheeky chirpy chappies took shape, my biggest dilemma was whether to use gold colouring in the background, or whether to keep the image crisp and white. It’s such a subjective thing and when you are the one creating, you can find you’re too close to be able to ‘see’ the illustration objectively. In the end, I put it to the vote, and the majority of you liked the gold background. It turned out to be a wonderful, warming choice that brought the Robins together on their bough of ivy. If you’d like to buy a print head over to our Online Store or, if you don’t see the print you’d like, simply message Bumbumbee on Facebook and we’ll sort the rest.

We also popped in to restock a few illustrations at the gorgeous Gallery at Culross Pottery. I’m always so grateful to our stockists and to the wonderful customers who support these unique local businesses. We are so lucky to have such a vibrant community of creatives in the area – all supporting one another.

Those of you who are Scottish born and bred, will know February is an ‘in between’ time of year. You are so close to Spring you can nearly taste it, but winter holds on for a few last hurrahs. Sometimes it’s just a case of getting through it, particularly when you are still getting up in the dark to go to work. Back to school after New Year was all a bit of a blur for us, so we made sure we made the most of mid-term.

The Bumbumbee family headed to the Aberfolyle, a gorgeous village in Stirling for the full immersion in nature experience. It was, as you would expect, decidedly dreich, but that didn’t spoil the fun. Time well spent just being a family and soaking up (quite literally) natures’ colours, textures and noises and smells. There were thundering waterfalls, the smells of moss and atmospheric mists and low clouds washing our faces and nipping our noses. Even the youngest crazy child returned to our lodgings beaming, cleansed and happy.

On that note, I hope you are all beginning to emerge from your winter hibernations (now that would be nice wouldn’t it?). It’s a good time to start planning new projects and thinking about a new creative pursuits or just think about refreshing the energy around your home.  Look out for the messengers of Spring in the shape of delicate flowers and beautiful birds. And if the rain is stoatin off the pavement or a smizzle on your cheeks, try to remember there are parts of the world who are praying for rain.  I know – it’s hard to imagine isn’t it? But living in beautiful Scotland – we sometimes forget just how lucky we are.

Until next time

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Good vibrations for 2024

good vibrations colour peach fuzz

Imagine how different our life could be if we were all surrounded by kindness. Not just through the lens of positivity – but real, authentic kindness from strangers and loved ones. Can you imagine the effects that would have on us? Imagine how that would open us up. We would feel safe, we would reach out to connect with others more because we wouldn’t let our self-limiting, inner narrative control our actions. We would be able to flourish without fear of judgement and push the boundaries while feeling supported.   Imagine surrounding yourself in a colour that could promote this level of comfort in your life. If you read my November blog, you’ll know this is the promise of Peach Fuzz, the Pantone Colour of the Year for 2024. You will feel embraced, lifted up, and held in compassion. You will feel all the comfort of Hygge in a gorgeous peachy dream. It got me thinking about how colour influences our mood, sets a scene or communicates with us on the most subtle of levels.

Colour is taken for granted – it’s just ‘there’. Unless you are studying the colour wheel or colour theory, you are unlikely to think about it too much. And yet, colour is one of our most important ‘messengers’ directing us, communicating with us and keeping us safe in the world. Our world is full of colour-driven controls and processes.

Children will often use colours to express themselves emotionally … which can be very useful if they can’t articulate the feelings or moods they may be experiencing. If your child is struggling in some area of their life right now, consider using colour as an extra ‘tool’ to help them feel comforted, loved and supported. If your child is highly strung, perhaps blues, greens and turquoise might be a calming accent to add to their room – even if it’s just on one wall. Pay attention to the colours your child enjoys because you can use them to help foster feelings of joy, creativity, and safety, or whatever they may feel is lacking in their life. If they are lacking confidence, red may be a good colour to introduce (but proceed with caution on the red front … too much red might not be a great colour for a child with anger issues).

In the world of colour therapy, colour is used to treat certain mental and physical health conditions – and using this colour this way can be traced back to the Ancient Egyptians. They would use coloured glass in their sunniest rooms to benefit from the colour’s vibration.  Even the medical world uses colour – I’m thinking infra-red and ultra-violet and so on. It might be a fun game to play with your wee ones on a rainy day (and let’s be honest, we don’t have a shortage of those days). Ask them to think of all the uses of colour and work out what the colour is communicating, or even how the colour makes them feel. Perhaps in the process you’ll find out which colours your children out the ones they gravitate to – and then you can use this information in the future. If nothing else, you will be giving your children a good introduction to colour theory and you might even plant the seed, or spark an interest in colour on a creative or psychological level.

Even if you think this is all hocus pocus, think about the rooms you like in your house, your favourite colours in life, or even the colour of clothes you constantly buy. What colours do you surround yourself with and how do they make you feel? It would be interesting to find out if there is a universal favourite colour.

For now, I am loving the comfort and warmth of Peach Fuzz. If you’d like to get all warm and fuzzy with our latest notepads and cards, head over to our online store or Facebook for details. I’m sure you will see peach fuzz creeping into a few of my illustrations over the coming months, along with the rich colours of nature as the seasons progress. Sending you all good vibrations for 2024.

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Peaceful Peach Fuzz

peach fuzz pampas grass

As we move into the most festive (and coldest) time of year, why not consider enveloping yourself in some gorgeous “Peach Fuzz”– the newly crowned Pantone Colour of the Year, 2024. 

“In seeking a hue that echoes our innate yearning for closeness and connections, we chose a colour radiant with warmth and modern elegance. A shade that resonates with compassion, offers a tactile embrace, and effortlessly bridges the youthful with the timeless.”

I think we can all agree there have been so many harrowing images on our screens throughout 2023 as the worst of humanity came into focus. While we don’t wish to watch such horrors on our TV screens, we also can’t turn our backs on what is happening elsewhere in the world. Being aware without risking traumatising ourselves or our families with the 24/7 news coverage seems to be the way we try to operate in such times. It’s a balancing act. As parents we feel such deep empathy for parents who are powerless to spare their own children in the way we can when we switch the channel.  

It’s hardly surprising we feel a need for a more gentle, “nurturing” environment, or kind, compassionate friends and family around us. At such times we dream of a peaceful future for the world – and for our children.

I hope the gentle nature of Peach Fuzz reminds you to nurture yourself too for a change. Of course you want to make sure your family have THE BEST Christmas EVER – but don’t forget you. Human connection, kindness, warmth and gentleness seems would seem to be the perfect antidote to the stress we all experience in the build-up to Christmas and to soothe the heartache as the world goes mad around us. 

I think the events of the past few years have actually helped us re-assess our priorities, we have re-evaluated what’s important to us – and for some of us that means we would like our lives to look very different. Some of us may be in the process of making that happen. Times such as these make us think of those who are dear to us and it’s right to pause in gratitude for bonds shared and memories made.

It may be time to, not only nurture yourself, but to prioritise the things that bring you joy and contentment.  As long as we keep love, kindness and compassion at the core of who we are, I believe we will build a better world – a safer, more peaceful world for our children – and a more balanced and harmonious lives for ourselves.

Pantone chose Peach Fuzz as colour of the year because it expressed a desire to be close to those we love and the joy we feel when we allow ourselves to tune into who we are and just ‘be’.  It evokes a feeling of when life seemed simpler but with a wise contemporary twist.

Colour, whether it’s in our homes or expressed in the clothes we wear can really help set a mood or emotion. Peach Fuzz feels like a safe, comforting world to live in so you might want to consider this when redecorating the kids room or bringing a modern twist to your home.

On that note, I hope 2024 brings those you love to your side, and I hope you connect with the joy of creativity and the flush of peach in your lives. I also hope 2024 turns out to be gentle and peaceful for you and your loved ones – but with a whole lot of laughter and excitement on Christmas morning.

Me? Oh I can dream – it’s back to the crazy excited kids that didn’t get the memo about “gentler, more peaceful times” … And for that I am truly grateful. 

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Christmas Cards hot off the press

Well, the pressure was on to get everything off to the printer in time but we made it. Christmas may still feel like a long way off but those printer deadlines wait for no one!

This year I created a couple of detailed illustrations featuring seasonal foliage, including berries and pince cones and I combined these illustrations with a couple of wintery Haikus my sister wrote. I turned the designs into some festive greeting cards and I’m sure you’ll agree, they are little pocket-sized pieces of Christmas.

The cards are available in our shop – Bumbumbee Creative Store – or if you prefer, look out for me at the local markets – I’m sure I’ll be carrying a few with me.

Don’t forget our other Christmas designs. They are all unique and are styles in the Bumbumbee aesthetic so you won’t find these designs anywhere else beyond my store, the markets, or our wonderful local stockists.

I’d love to hear which Christmas cards are your favourite.

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Autumnal Musings

It seems the Summer is being nudged sideways by an impatient Autumn this year. Here in Scotland, we tend to feel the nights drawing in a few weeks before our cousins South of the Border and similarly, the Summer takes its time making an appearance again come June.

There are two separate dates marking the start of the seasons. One is defined by the Earth’s axis and orbit around the Sun and the second is a fixed date used by meteorologists. Meteorologically speaking, Autumn starts 1st of September, but in Scotland, we are generally talking about the former, which means this year, Autumn starts on the 23rd of September and ends on the 21st of December.

I know people are always saying how quickly time passes, but when I look back on the Summer that is ebbing away, I do genuinely wonder where it all disappeared to. It’s not until I look back on all the goodies that have been on the packing table these last three months that I realise how busy it’s been.

Our online store is growing with new illustrations and summery stationery vibes. We’ve also had some new additions to the ‘Scottish Rain Words line, with the reaction to the new Tea Towel being huge. In fact, we’ve practically gone global with that one which is very exciting. I worked out in recent weeks, it’s made its way across the UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Norway!  If you still haven’t got one, it would be a great gift for the Pluviophile in your life, and of course, you have to make sure you get one for yourself too. 

We also enjoyed glamping during the summer holidays – a time that was much needed to just reconnect with nature, each other and ourselves. In amongst it all I had the lurgy, so it felt doubly important to step off that treadmill for a bit. The kids thought it was great fun taking our enamel mugs out into the wilds. It’s great they are so easily entertained.

As I reflect on the Summer that’s now gently setting with the sun, I think about the things I love about Autumn. It’s important to have gratitude and appreciation for life in the here and now, instead of wishing away our colder seasons.

There is a lovely hush that wraps around Scotland in Autumn- granted it’s normally in the form of a damp mist, but it’s a great time to get all cosied up for those chilly walks. It’s time to look forward to the spectrum of leaves decked out in oranges, reds, and yellows, illuminated in a crisp, golden afternoon light. The treasures tipped on the kitchen table are no longer sunflower seeds and petals, but conkers from the Horse Chestnut trees and pinecones that remind me Christmas won’t be too far away.

There’s always something to inspire and restore you here in Scotland, whether it’s along the coast, or in the countryside and forests. I do hope you enjoy our wanderings as much as we do.

Before I go, I just wanted to thank you all for supporting small business. I love to hear your suggestions for my new patterns and prints – keep those ideas coming. It means the world to me, and I am so grateful. I am also beyond grateful to the wonderful stockists who come back for more when they have sold out – and the bunch of amazing creatives I collaborate with and license to. I appreciate you all. Thank you.

Who else is excited to see what Autumn brings? Maybe a new Christmas card design?

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Ignite your creative spark

There comes a time when, in even the most prolific of creative lives, artists, writers or musicians, feel they have run out of ideas. Try as they might to search the ether, the next big idea eludes them. I found myself momentarily facing that invisible brick wall of blackness where once ideas poured in, where, on some days, there were too many ideas to pin down. Where did they go? That’s typically when we sensitive types open the door and welcome in the demon we usually fight so hard to keep ‘out there’.

I kid you not, imposter syndrome is a very real thing and can leave you feeling as though you are a fraud in your own life – despite any success you may have achieved. Imposter syndrome comes guised as self-doubt – it’s when you begin to wonder will I ever have any great ideas again, or maybe that was a fluke … and so on.

If imposter syndrome is something you can relate to, you might be interested to learn there are five ways it shows up like an unwelcome guest in your life. Perhaps you are a perfectionist (like me), or a subject matter ‘expert’, who feels like a fraud because, despite being an expert in your field, you feel you don’t know everything so feel like a fraud. If you are a natural genius with imposter syndrome you refuse to believe you are naturally gifted, however, if you happen to take a while to learn something new, you berate yourself and see it as proof you are not a genius. There are those who see it as a failure if they need to ask for help when they’ve done everything themselves before. Finally, there is the ‘superhuman’ who believes they must work non-stop to reach the highest level of achievement, and if they don’t, well – they must be a fraud. Exhausting, isn’t it?

But let’s rewind a little. What can a creative do when they reach into great beyond for ideas and find they have run out? What can they do to keep Imposter Syndrome at bay if the invisible brick wall appears unexpectedly?

Give yourself permission to let go of perfection

I’m lucky to have family and friends around me to ‘jump start’ me out of this state before I spiral into any significant negative self-talk. Having two munchkins helps keep you grounded, and it only takes a moment for them to completely change the energy in my world. In fact, it turns out, changing the energy around you is the key to dismantling that brick wall and it could be easier than you think.

First, consider whether you are just exhausted. If you are juggling work and family around your creative endeavours, it’s no wonder the creative brain goes on strike from time to time. It could be you simply need a good long nap and just maybe you will wake up feeling it’s not the end of your creative life as you know it. Everything is better after a nap.

If you are trying to draw or write but the ideas are not flowing, do something completely different. Get out in the garden, go for a walk, maybe paint some rocks – get out in life – talk to people (even if you are an introvert). If you are a perfectionist like me, it may help to let go of trying to come up with something fully formed and perfect … just doodle, scribble, or colour in. You will be amazed at how effective this is. You could even try meditating (if you have the time and a quiet space). If you enjoy words, read some poetry, or look at a painting to see if it inspires a flow of words.

In addition to the techniques mentioned above, I tend to grab the kids and take them on our favourite walks along the Coastal Path or through the parks, woods and forests of Fife. There is so much in nature that calls to you from the textures and colours of leaves and berries to the way the Oyster Catcher ‘peeps’ as it wades along the shore. The kids will often return home from our adventures with woodland treasures safely tucked into their pockets. On our more recent walks I’ve noticed an abundance of pine cones which got my creative mind working – just by looking at how a pine cone is formed. You see, your ideas don’t have to be a huge complete project, but by noticing the seemingly little things around us – that’s where the magic is.

So, my advice is – don’t sit there overthinking things or trying to force it – give yourself a break from time to time. Give yourself permission to do something else. By engaging in life, you feel inspired again – but just remember the importance of letting go too.

You’ll be pleased to know I did eventually find inspiration. In this instance, it came from a combination of that woodland walk with the little bumbumbees and a chat with my sister. Let’s just say, over the next few weeks you will see the fruits of that conversation. Goodbye brick wall … until next time 😉

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Happy Sunflower Season

The littlest Bumbumbee was so excited to bring a sunflower seedling home from nursery the other day. There’s something wholesome and so symbolic about the way our two come bearing gifts of nature, clutching leaves and flowers, or cradling seeds as though they are a highly prized treasure, that must be kept safe in their hands at all costs. It does inspire the hope that perhaps the environment may be safe in the hands of our children if we as parents and teachers can find a way to spark the magic within.

Teaching kids to care about the environment is a responsibility we should all take seriously but the ‘lessons’ don’t need to be serious. I find kids love nothing more than a big mess, whether that’s in squelching paint or getting their hands (and clothes) dirty in the mud. True to form, it was with great glee that Rosie got stuck into planting her sunflower seedling.

We showed her pictures of what her sunflower would look like and how tall her plant was going to grow, almost as high as Jack and the Beanstalk, we promise. Her eyes wide, and her muddy fingers gently press the soil again as she whispers incantations to her magical seedling. We, meanwhile, cross our fingers behind our backs – oh the pressure on this sunflower to bloom!

Sunflowers attract wildlife, birds, insects and pollinators – our beautiful bees love them – and these all have a positive effect on the environment. The seeds are also edible and can be roasted with Paprika or any other seasoning you care to try. But all that good stuff aside, who doesn’t love sunflowers? They have such beaming happy faces and you can’t be sad when you spend time with a Sunflower.

I think I must have been feeling inspired because the next thing I knew I was lost in the creative process, playing with lines, shapes, and patterns before delving into the blissful world of warm, buttery yellows.

I do hope you enjoy the latest sunflower inspired stationery creations. I’ll keep you posted on whether Rosie’s Sunflower is a success

If you need some Sunflower goodness in your life, the link below will take you to our online store where you can place an order.
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The ‘Collective’ Collection

If you follow me on Facebook and Instagram, you’ll know I’m developing a series based on the collective nouns of all things birdies and beasties.

Since we are named after the humble bumble bee, we couldn’t ignore the wonderfully descriptive, ‘Hum of Bumblebees’, one of the many collective nouns to describe a gathering of bees. Other words you may be more familiar with include hive, swarm and bike. I even saw ‘a game of bees’ noted, and instantly I began bzzing the theme tune to Game of Thrones in my mind. Sorry, you’re doing it now too, aren’t you?.

Did you know bees flap their wings 200 times per second – that’s where the ‘bzzz’ noise comes from. The hum is used to communicate many different things in the hive and experienced beekeepers have the ability to recognise different types of hum. I love the collective noun Hum though as it really does make you think of bees hard at work, the soundtrack of our Scottish summers.

Perfecting the Playful Puffin

As well as a gulp of Swallows, I turned my attentions to Puffins since I’ve had a lot of fun illustrating them in the  Coastal Collection. Who doesn’t adore the beautifully turned-out Puffin? I was so chuffed when a recent Commission requested a ‘Circus of Puffins’, which meant I had the excuse to illustrate a whole gang of them. There are a few collective nouns associated with Puffins – the ‘Circus’ of Puffins usually refers to Puffins in flight, performing aerial acrobatics as they glide and flap their wings. Other names include colony, puffinry (I love this one), and hilariously the collective noun for a small group of young Puffins is called an improbability.

If you have any further ideas you would like to see added to the ‘Collective Collection’ do let me know. I am seriously contemplating a curfew of curlews or a squabble of seagulls right now. Seagulls around these parts have a high profile and big personality so it could be a lot of fun to capture their essence on canvas.

Until next time x

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The smirr and smizzle of summer

Every year around this time there is a sense of excitement and anticipation. We are on the threshold of Summer here in Scotland. Our temperatures can reach a balmy 15 -17°C throughout June, July and August. OK, so these high temperatures might not quite have you running into the nearest loch shouting ‘scorchio’ or ‘taps aff’ (unless your name is Alex) but our high latitude certainly makes up for it. Scotland’s high latitude means that we enjoy endless long summer days and often an extended twilight (particularly as you travel north). There’s nothing quite like long days of summer, though I have to say, getting the little bumbumbees off to bed is more of a challenge when the sun is still shining at 9pm.

Summer offers such a rich source of inspiration, and I’m not just talking of writers, poets, or artists. I think we can all appreciate the changes in light, the sounds of birds, the laughter of children playing, even the sound of gliders above, or gardeners out mowing the lawn, evokes golden summer feels. The truth is though, we don’t have to wait until summer to be inspired enough to create. I mean let’s be honest, ‘scorchio’ turns to ‘stoatin’ before you’ve had time to get the BBQ sausages out.

As most of you know, I find my inspiration on the Fife Coastal Path and in the natural beauty of the area I live. Depending on where you live, it might be more about ‘finding’ the beauty in where you live, or finding something in your environment that you particularly enjoy. The natural world is never boring. It changes with the seasons and one day can look very different to the next. The light can vary on a tree, making it look warm and golden, or cold and stark. The weather, particularly in Scotland, is so changeable too. The sea transforms and seems to move under clouds and sunlit skies. But it’s not just our environment that changes. Our moods and emotions can provide a powerful filter through which we view the world. If we are feeling low, clouds and rain and the greys in our environment can seem to mirror those emotions. But you know, as creatives, we can really ‘use’ those emotions and feelings.

You know when people say, “I wish I could bottle that feeling”, in relation to something good in their lives? I think you can apply that to every mood and emotion within ourselves – and nature. Turn to your sketchbook when you feel blah, or when the weather is offering up more blah. Use the greys, blues, lilacs on the page. Study that stormy sky. Channel your emotion onto the page while you are in the moment. I invite you to feel how the rain feels. Go outdoors. Stand in it. Watch it land on your hand. Observe it landing on plants. Listen to the shrieks of happy children splashing in muddy puddles.

Rain is something so intrinsic to being Scottish, isn’t it? I suppose that’s why we have over 100 words for it. When I began ‘illustrating’ the rain, I was initially inspired by the many words, and then I was guided by experience on how that ‘form’ of rain felt. We can all relate to feeling ‘drookit’ or the prickles of smizzle on our face or the sheen of smirr on our skin. Creating those forms of rain using inks was a lot of fun. You can really encapsulate an emotion or feeling when you create ‘in the moment’ and then this becomes your library to draw upon when you want to evoke those same feelings, emotions or weather in a different context.

Using your creativity in this way builds a powerful bridge of connection too. My sister always says she feels instantly connected to ‘home’ when she sees those rain prints because she remembers exactly a moment in time when it rained a certain way, or how the air smelled before rain, or how some rain was ‘wetter’ than others. I guess what I’m saying is, yes we all get excited by summer and the world seems full of possibilities, but we have to be realistic too. This isn’t the Med. Most patriotic Scots amongst us would say ‘who needs the med?’, (while all the while silencing and shooshing our inner sun-starved selves ‘me…I need the Med’). There will be rain in amongst the sunshine. Many, many beautiful, unique forms of rain. So many wonderful variations of rain, we’ve turned it into an art form.

Where can I buy?

Scottish Rain Print

If you'd like to buy a Scottish Rain Print including all your favourite 'Scottish words for Rain', or select your favourite individual postcards, head over to our online store.