Creative fun

Spread the Smile

I’m so excited to share my newest projects with you.

August has been a crazy busy month for me as two children’s books containing my illustrations have been published and both went straight to number one in a couple of Amazon’s best seller categories 😁😁😁

The first book written by the wonderful Claire Clements of Positive Pants is a delightfully positive book for little ones looking for ways to bring positivity to their day and feel better when they are feeling glum. It was such a wonderful process working with Claire to bring her book to life. When I first started drawing as a young child I loved to try copying the illustrations in the Beano so it was great to be able to include this iconic comic in the book, thanks Beano 😁 Click on the image or follow the link to buy Claire’s amazing book.

The second book is a story that has been in our Emotions Toolkit packs for families, and the Early Years and Key Stage One, for a while now and I am so delighted to finally have this published in paperback. Spread the smile is a story all about two friends Jack and Jane. They go on an adventure and meet Bunny. Throughout the story each time the children experience a big emotion Bunny teaches them a new self-regulation strategy.

The book couldn’t have been finished and published at a better time as the new Early Years Framework goes live this September and within the changes is the much needed self-regulation early learning goal. For us at the Emotions Toolkit we believe that for children to learn to self-regulate their emotions at an early age and be able to manage big emotions is crucial. These strategies are adult techniques that we have made child friendly and this book really brings them to life, putting them in context for small children. These skills will be with them for life 😁

With more illustration projects on the horizon I’m looking to fill my bookshelves 🙂 If you would like to know more about how I can help you with your book illustrations and how I work please do get in touch. I’d also be happy to hear from local schools or nurseries that might like to book an author, illustrator and qualified teacher for book week 🙂

Big Smiles

Debsta 🙂

Creative fun

The day things open again…

Mocha out out 😊

Someone recently commented that my blog posts are focused on the positive and called me Debsta the Positivity Gangsta. What a compliment, I’ll take that 🙂 Today is a day we have been waiting for alongside positive developments in the News reports. I emerged with lockdown hair to sit and enjoy my Split Screen coffee at the Bottle Top in the village. The sun shone and there was a feeling of hope on the high street. I chatted with a lovely lady who works at the City Hospital who was sitting having a moment of calm before starting her day.

As a small business owner I’m issuing a rallying cry. Continue to support your local high street that have supported you so well throughout the pandemic. Be patient as business owners open up and adjust to serving you all again. Remember you don’t know what is going on behind everyone’s smile, behind their masks so above all else be kind.

Best wishes to all

Debsta the Positivity Gangsta 😉 x

Creative fun

How do commissions actually work?

Planning a commission in the sketchbook

Owning an original piece of art that is unique is a very special thing. There are so many outlets where you can purchase canvas prints off the shelf but for something bespoke and special there is nothing better than original art.

Over the last year we have been forced to spend more time at home and many of us have been rethinking decor and making our homes the perfect place to be. One of the things I specialise in is providing the right piece of art to suit your style and taste. The perfect finish to your room.

So how do you go about commissioning a piece of art for your home or office or as a gift?

Every artist will be slightly different and will have their own styles of working. Here is what to expect when you commission a Debsta 🙂

  • A great commission starts with a good conversation. Contact me with your initial ideas and I will arrange to chat with you about exactly what you are looking for. We will talk about what art you like, colours, size and subject. We will discuss who the work is for or where it will hang and whether you want the work on canvas or paper or a wall in the case of a mural.
  • If we are a good fit I will go ahead and generate a no obligation quote. In some cases it may be necessary for me to provide a rough sketch so that you can imagine how the commission will look. I will also endeavour to give you a time scale of how long the commission may take.
  • The next step if you are happy to proceed is that I ask for 50% of the invoice up front. This allows me to purchase all of the resources needed to begin creating the project for you. Once this payment has been received I will go ahead with your project. Exciting times:)
  • When I am working on your commission I will film some or all of the process so that you can watch how your artwork was created.
  • I will keep you updated on the progress and even though most people wait for the big reveal I am more than happy to share progress photos along the way. Just ask.
  • Finally once the work is complete we can arrange the delivery, big reveal and final payment.

There are many decisions to be made along the way and I will offer advice and support to you every step of the way. One of the big decisions is framing. Some deep canvas paintings look amazing hung ‘naked’ with no frame, others benefit from a frame and I am happy to make recommendations of which style and colour would suit the work and your space and will also recommend local framers or those closer to where you live. If you would like me to get the work framed on your behalf this will be agreed in step one so that I can quote you for this and make sure that the frame is factored into your measurements.

Ultimately I would love you to enjoy the process and be extremely happy with your unique piece of art for years to come.

Contact me to arrange a commission and start the conversation.

A recent testimonial from a happy collector 🙂

Debsta x

Creative fun

Digital Book illustration versus traditional methods

I have to say I have a soft spot for traditional illustration methods. When I published my first children’s book on kindle a while ago now, I had great fun plotting the illustrations and painstakingly creating them in watercolour. I love the finished effect and was very grateful to friends in the teaching profession for giving the book a trial run prior to publishing.

The Alternative Tale of The Three Little Pigs is available as an e-book on Amazon 🙂

However, because it was my first solo foray into writing, illustrating and self publishing, I hadn’t quite thought through what exact size my illustrations needed to be, what format they would need to be in for creating the real touchy-feely hold in your hands book. In order to reformat my illustrations to the correct size to self-publish through KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) I would need to start again to get it absolutely right.

So here comes the beauty of digital illustration. I uploaded all of my original art work and I can now edit and tweak and reformat to my hearts content to get it book ready. So watch this space.

Going forward two things have made me more of a fan of digital illustrations. The first is that through my experience I can see how much easier it is to edit the images and tweak things for a client without having to go massively over budget and also saving lots of time.

The second is that it’s so incredibly portable. I can take my iPad with me wherever I go (and I do). I can quickly sketch out plans and ideas for clients and share my portfolio of work and my process. I can tweak things and move things around with ease and upload templates directly into my design software to ensure everything is to the correct dimensions for going to print. And frankly, I love digital illustrations and it is definitely possible to still get those painterly effects.

My most recent published illustration work was for a project very close to my heart. An anthology of poetry written by survivors of narcissistic abuse for survivors. Edited by Dr Sally Olewe-Richards, the book helps survivors re-write their stories, from heartbreak to hope and healing.

The cover artwork for this amazing book was created digitally to sit alongside a wonderful poem, and the title of the book, ‘My red quilt’. The poem shares how she took all the red flags of the relationship and made herself a quilt stitched with threads of pain and tears, eventually feeling powerful enough to rise again, lessons learned.

A powerful and emotional read.

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before every commission starts with a good conversation. If you would like to know more about commissioning illustrations please get in touch. Next week, I will share what to expect from start to finish when you request a commission, whether that be oil on canvas or digital illustration or even a mural.

Creative fun

Creativity Creates Calm

Buzzing bumble bee creating calming sounds

I’m thinking about the Fourth thing that I am grateful for this week and that is Creativity.

I am so grateful that as an artist creativity is a part of my daily life. The impact creativity has on mental and physical health cannot be underestimated. What brings you joy? What is so satisfying that it makes you smile and ultimately calm and happy?

Creativity presents itself in many forms, art, music, dance, drama, creative thinking, writing, photography, design…I could go on. It is something that we are empowered to use in any given circumstance. Creatively using the ingredients you have in the fridge to cook a delicious meal or creatively thinking through and solving any number of problems. It is something to be nurtured and encouraged for its own sake. But should creativity be encouraged for our health?

I’m going to start by sharing a story from my good friend Lynda from Rookery Creations. As well as being a wonderful friend and a great listener she is also a fabulous artist. Way back, eleventy billion years ago, in March 2020 she set up an exhibition at the Peggy Greenfield Art Gallery based on D floor in the QMC hospital here in Nottingham. Due to the pandemic her exhibition of work is the longest this gallery has seen. As a result Lynda has raised almost £1000 to support the league of friends charity to improve the lives of patients, visitors and staff at the hospitals by purchasing much needed equipment. (click here if you wish to donate to this amazing cause x) One of the most amazing things that has also happened are the lovely messages from patients, visitors and staff during this time sharing how visiting the gallery and looking at Lynda’s amazing work has provided a space of calm and solace. I think that impact is priceless.

For my own mental and physical health I noticed a very strange occurrence indeed. At the start of the pandemic we all struggled to figure things out and manage the changes that were taking place and I have to say sleep was not something I did very well. So you can imagine how surprised I was when my smart watch which tracked my steps, heart rate and sleep patterns said that I was getting plenty of sleep each day. Time to delve deeper, did I need to buy a new one? Did it need resetting or was is faulty? Nope it was perfectly fine, the glitch in the system was me. Apparently when I am painting and creating my heart rate dips. Sometimes as low as 40 bpm! So my watch thought I was asleep when really I was in a meditative state brought about by painting!!! I was amazed and figured that if that wasn’t evidence enough that creativity creates calm then I don’t know what is 🙂

What do you do each day to help you to stay calm? Think creatively x

Creative fun


Check out my Tiktok @debsta1975 for a big hug x

I really thought that pivot was the word for 2020, however, 2021 brings with it new challenges. There are no art fairs or markets on the horizon yet and no opportunities to meet up with the art community in person. But…here are some of the amazing things that are happening that I am so grateful for.

Firstly Clubhouse. Just when you think social media is taking over the world and reducing your real connection with others, along comes Clubhouse. For those of you who don’t know much about it its a purely audio social platform. You enter rooms based on topics that interest you and listen or go up on stage and contribute and chat. The benefits to me are that although I’m working from home I feel connected and can join in with the chatter. Also you can step out of your comfort zone and share your knowledge and skills to the benefit of others. It really does seem like a very generous and giving platform. Your profile is linked to your instagram and twitter accounts too so people will head there to find out more about you, follow and drop into your dms. The Artists Lounge club on Clubhouse is an amazing place to connect with artists around the world and learn from each other and experience amazing generosity. Join me in a chat on Clubhouse. Find me @debsta

Secondly, online is the only way. Building your online presence is vital when you cannot chat and meet with people for real. So I’m going to be blogging my thoughts more regularly here at, adding all of my greetings cards, art merch, prints and original art to my etsy store – DebstaArt, being present on social media, building my website, building my mailing list and and and… so much to do 🙂

Thirdly, we have time! Time to think, time to reflect, time to focus your thoughts, time to plan, time to dream and time to paint!

I will focus on the fourth thing in my next post…creativity creates calm.

Its so easy to get drawn into the negativities of what is going on around the world so instead lets focus on the good things, be grateful for the small things and joy.

Take care of your selves, hugs

Debsta x

Creative fun

Photography – When it makes me smile ☺ 

I love it when I download my photos from my camera, scroll through and find some absolute delights. 

I can remember photography ‘back in the day’ so it is a luxury now to be able take as many pictures as you like, review, edit and throw some in the trash, without feeling like it’s a waste 🙂

Then you are left with a selection of images that make you smile and capture the memories of people and places and emotions.

I am really lucky to be able to work with Karina at Studio 61 in Derbyshire.  She does an amazing job of professionally giclee printing my favourite photographs and art so that I can offer them for sale.

You can find limited editions of these and more at and I’ll soon be adding these to my Etsy listings too at 

In case you are wondering which camera I use to take my photographs I switch between my Canon 7D and my Huawei P30 pro depending where I am and what I have with me 🙂


Thinking is designing is art

I wonder how many good ideas are thought up and then lost amid the melee of life?

A huge proportion of my time just lately has been spent thinking.

Get on with painting some may say but I honestly believe the ‘thinking’ part is crucial to the success of a piece.  I imagine details and techniques and the overall piece tweaking ideas in my mind before ever putting brush to canvas or pencil to paper.

I’m in the middle of designing well over 200 stones for the SSBC in Nottingham and after many hours thinking it through, I then write my ideas down, then begin sketching.  I wonder if anyone works like this?
In tandem to this I have come up with several ideas for larger paintings,  those ideas and images are floating around in my head in between what to cook for dinner and what schedule my children have for the day etc 

There is a lot to be said for putting those ideas down on paper so that they don’t become lost during the school run.

How do you manage your creative thoughts?

For this painting of Bridlington Bay I used Windsor & Newton oil paints 🙂