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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.
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The world shines anew

I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t love Snowdrops.

Writers from Burns to Wordsworth have waxed lyrical about the beauty of these delicate white flowers while artists lose themselves in their graceful and simple flowing lines. But did you know there is a word that describes people who ‘really’ like Snowdrops? Galanthophiles are described as ‘enthusiastic collectors’ which made me smile for some reason. I guess the idea of different levels of commitment – these folks are enthusiastic. A quick scroll through social media shows there is quite a movement out there – dedicated to the humble Snowdrop.

We get very excited about them here in Scotland because, depending on your point of view, they either signal winter’s last ‘hurrah’ – or they proclaim, joy of joy,  Spring is just around the corner. Whichever way you look at it, I’m sure we must be a nation of galanthophiles. We embrace their arrival because they give us hope – hope that lighter and brighter days are ahead. In all fairness, we probably wait a little longer than our neighbours south of the border which adds to the anticipation.

I’ve appreciated and enjoyed all the feedback on the Snowdrop notebooks. I wanted to thank you all for letting me know when my illustrations remind you of happy memories, and for sharing stories about who you are giving them to and why. They are great ‘Letterbox’ gifts just to let someone know you are thinking about them. It just shows how art and nature can truly connect people with emotions, memories, and experiences. If you love the Snowdrops as much as I do (or you know someone who is), I have also created some gorgeous wrapping paper, gift tags and greetings cards. Perfect for the galanthophile in your life.

Talking of emotions and memories, we’ve just celebrated Mother’s Day here and while it is a happy day for many, it’s fair to say it can be a bittersweet, or downright painful, day for others. I fall into the bittersweet camp myself as, like so many of you, my own mum is not here to celebrate. I am lucky though as I do have two of my own wee Bumbumbees who certainly know how to spoil me and lift any hint of sorrow.

I hope you felt love on Mother’s Day no matter what your situation is. In the meantime, I hope you will accept this humble Haiku of hope my sister Evie penned to go with your Snowdrop …

Snowdrop so graceful
brings fresh hope and brighter days
The world shines anew

The world shines anew

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Fabulously Feminine Fritillaria

Perhaps it’s an optimistic antidote to the long dark winters here in Scotland, but my studio has been filled with the joy of Spring colours and Scottish spring flowers. It’s as though my soul grew weary of waiting for winter to end so I decided to get to work ‘creating’ Spring early.

I’ve been working with wild roses, primroses and irises which all feel so light and feminine – perhaps this symbolises an ushering in of ‘gentler’ times. Let us hope.

March is that time of year when the earth feels like it wakes from its long winter sleep. Granted, in Scotland, it feels like Spring hits the snooze button for a few weeks after its initial burst of activity in the form of snowdrops and crocuses – but it’s a welcome tease no less.

The main star of the springtime flower fest, however, has to be – the gorgeous – the fabulous –Fritillaria. I have always adored these flowers as they exude ‘exotic’. I felt inspired to team them with this year’s colour to be seen in – vivid magenta – and then it wasn’t long before the pattern emerged.

You can’t live in Scotland, never mind whether you are a student (or teacher) of Art, without having a close relationship and appreciation of Charles Rennie McIntosh. Our household was no different, so it follows, some of my earliest memories are of going to Glasgow with my mum and siblings to wander through the School of Art. While McIntosh was more well-known for his architectural design, he did have a love of nature, landscapes, and flowers too.  

While I was doing my own painting, I remembered his stylised watercolour, titled ‘Fritillaria’ which really illustrates his fondness for the flower, and his love of the geometric pattern really shines through. I can’t help feeling there is a starkness to the watercolour that gives it more of a ‘botanic’ study vibe – perhaps he was more interested in the ‘pattern’ or the geometry of nature he could see within, rather than the emotive complexities. My own explorations seem to reveal fragility, humility and gentle warmth. There’s a sombre respect here in the flower’s nodding head which is why I thought bringing in some other flowers as a backdrop might create some balance and give the Fritillaria some new perspective – a new lease on life.

All that said, each of these spring flowers deserves the spotlight, so I’ll just continue to play with the patterns and colours and see where they go. I think that’s one of the things to remember in any creative endeavour. Allow yourself time to play. We can start off with an idea – but playing with it really allows us to see how far we can take it.

On that note, time to get back to conjuring up Spring with sheer will power and a little creativity. I’ll keep you posted on what I decide to do with Fabulous Fritillaria and her wild Scottish friends.

Until next time…

“Art is the Flower. Life is the Green Leaf. Let every artist strive to make his flower a beautiful living thing, something that will convince the world that there may be, there are, things more precious more beautiful — more lasting than life itself.”

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Fearless February

Well? Have you delivered yourself fearlessly into February full of feisty Va-Va Voom or are you still snuggled up in the warmth of a cozy Magenta mohair cardigan? In all honesty, I’m all about answering the call of the couch and the chocolate at this time of year, but that’s not what 2023 is all about, is it? So I decided to throw myself into the “#21daysinmyartworldchallenge”. It was a great way to keep motivated through January and kept me accountable.

Each day was a prompt to share something about life as an artist from sharing favourite techniques to favourite drawings. One of those days asked for a selfie which is so far beyond my comfort zone, but for the sake of completing the challenge (the keeping me accountable part) I carried on, sharing tiny pieces of myself and my art with the world.

Day 21 of the challenge ended on ‘Big Dream’. I decided my Big Dream was to create my own garden studio so that I can take part in open studios and continue to build this fantastic community! One of the highlights of last year was collaborating with Kim from @leafnaturalfoodwraps – a maker with top-notch eco credentials. I thought what a great idea to end on a challenge that invites us to look forward and focus on a goal for ourselves. It’s important to keep growing and evolving – it keeps things interesting, even if it does mean pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone.

So it led me to wonder. What would your ‘Big Dream’ be if you took part in your own 21-Day Challenge? What have you always wanted to do but you’ve just been a little bit nervous about? It doesn’t have to be a huge life-changing ‘dream’ but why not do something that calls for you to push yourself beyond your normal day-to-day. Perhaps you could put yourself out there on YouTube or Social Media, sharing or teaching something you’re good at. Or start something completely new – like drawing or learning watercolour. You never know where it might lead. Maybe that should be the theme for this month – Fearless February. I’d love to hear how you get on.

Well, that’s about it for this month. The good news is Spring is just about around the corner, though there is still a winter chill in the air. Which reminds me. Where’s my chocolate?

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Bringing the Va-Va Voom to 2023

viva magenta

Happy New Year everyone! Here at Bumbumbee Creative we hope this year is – an unconventional one – filled with vim and vigour, inspiration, boldness, exuberance, joyous optimism and lots of Magenta.

This year’s Pantone Colour of the Year is… drumroll please… Viva Magenta. We love a splash of Magenta here as it has such a rebellious spirit – it’s self-expression without restraint (yes Rosie and Adam I’m thinking about you as I type this).

Given the hardships so many of us faced over the last few years around the world, it feels like Viva Magenta exudes an upbeat strength and confidence. It’s the strong motherly hug combined with the push out the door that says, ‘come on now – you can do it – get out there in the world – the time is now’.

So instead of New Year’s Resolutions – let’s think about our Themes for 2023. Let’s look at life through the lens of Viva Magenta. Let’s celebrate humanity at its best with compassion and connectedness. Let’s be fierce but fun.

If the last three years have been tough for you, but the prospect of getting out there in the world again feels a bit too raw – it’s time to draw comfort and confidence from Viva Magenta. Maybe it’s time to create a new narrative – a new story – or if that’s just a step too far right now – perhaps at least new décor or a bold new hair colour.

Whatever 2023 is all about for you – we are here for it – and we are here with you. I’ll be back in February to let you know how we managed to weave the Viva Magenta spirit into our lives.

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The Princess and the Queen


In my last post I shared the three swallows I’d been working on. Well, the number three has popped up again – and this time it’s in the shape of a special birthday. Little wild child Rosie was three this month which can only mean one thing – we made it through the terrible twos – relatively unscathed.

In typical Rosie style, she managed to celebrate with three birthday cakes across her three-day celebration.  At this point, I want to say – ‘outdoing the Queen who has two birthdays’ but as most of us know, the Queen passed away on 8th September 2022. The State funeral was held on Monday the 19th but we managed to squeeze in a soft play party on the Sunday before. We are sure the Queen would have approved and agreed that a three-year-old has every right to feel like a princess on her birthday –complete with crown – even if it does land within a period of national mourning.

There’s always a little sense of sadness as September draws to a close because it means the outdoor days are getting shorter and the temperatures hint at the colder days to come.

On the upside, here in the Northern Hemisphere, we have thoughts of Christmas to keep us warm. I have been in creative mode, working on turning an existing drawing into some festive wrapping paper. I am at the stage where I triple-check that the repeat is seamless, I can still see mistletoe when I close my eyes!

But enough of that. Let’s not wish away the last days of Summer just yet. Still plenty of time for beach visits to collect shells and pebbles and soak in the colours of the sky and sea. After all, we’ve got to work off three birthday cakes and an excess of three-year-old princess energy somehow. In the meantime enjoy a picture from last year showing Rosie rocking a crown and little angel wings (of course).

See you in October…