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Hanna-Mae Illustration

Illustrator & eco clothing designer

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autism

Overcoming obstacles

After an impromptu break I’m finally back and feeling like my old creative self again. After two losses of two wonderful, strong women I found myself in a bit of a daze, neglecting the part of my personality that used to bring me so much joy and a sense of identity: creativity. A few weeks ago though I felt as though a veil of apathy had been lifted suddenly off my body, and the ideas and excitement came flooding back. I’d really missed this important part of my life and it feels so wonderful to welcome it back.

Although my degree is in illustration I’ve always been most at home with a more fine art style, sticking to this because I know it’s my strength and I know how to get the results I want, but inside my heart I’ve always held a love of children’s book illustration, and I’ve been having so much fun lately playing around with this style. Until now I’ve always wanted my work to be ‘right’ from the time I start until the time I finish, not really allowing myself much time to play around and experiment, but I’m turning over a new leaf! I’m reminding myself that it’s ok to make mistakes sometimes, and that experimenting is part of the joy of creating. On a long train journey recently I listened to an interview with Judith Kerr, the inspirational 95 year old who wrote and illustrated children’s books such as ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’ and ‘Mog’. It was so refreshing and reassuring to hear her admit that even after decades of illustrating she still finds certain things difficult and said ‘ I do a lot of rubbish, you have to work through the rubbish’. I’m allowing myself to be more experimental and reminding myself it’s ok to explore an idea, then decide it’s not going in quite the right direction. ( You can listen to the interview with Judith Kerr here: Link)

I’ve been spending a lot of time imagining up characters that belong in the pages of a children’s book and feel like I’ve finally found a style that works for me and that I’m happy with (excuse the dimness, i took these early morning)

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Artists and illustrators, particularly students, often talk of ‘style’, something which I’ve been reading about lately. It’s interesting to hear different people’s views and I’ve been a bit on the fence with my own opinion. I’ve just signed up to a 5 day email course on ‘finding your style’ as I’m curious to see what this could bring up. After years of creating art work almost daily I feel like when it comes to fine art I’ve developed a way of working that works for me, that I ‘know’, and use again and again, but when it comes to illustration I feel like I’m more transient. When it comes to character design I’ve found a way that works for me, but on the other hand there are so many ways of drawing and creating that a part of me feels I shouldn’t confine myself to a certain way of working. I read an interesting blog post that left me feeling reassured, that said some illustrators just don’t stick to a specific way of working, they work more to their brief, something I feel I can accept. However, I’ve also read other opinions saying that style is important as it’s almost like your calling card, it helps identify you as an illustrator. After reading some good reviews I’m currently working my way through ‘Illustration Workshop’ by Mary Kate McDevitt, which has been helpful in giving myself some focus. It claims to help you ‘find your style, practice drawing skills, and build a stellar portfolio’. Although the book is American, it’s still relevant to the UK, and I’m enjoying working on the projects, as well as reading the useful tips that are scattered throughout. You can find it on Amazon for around £10-£13 (LINK)

I’m really enjoying engaging my brain again and have been looking into possibilities for the near future. As someone with ASD and fibromyalgia getting about can be a bit difficult, but after some research I’ve been opened up to a world of possibilities. I want to reassure anyone with physical or social difficulties reading this that there are options out there for you, you just have to find them, and find a way of working/living that works for you and your particular lifestyle. For quite some time now I’ve been interested in using art as therapy and although I looked into doing my masters in Art Psychotherapy and went to an open day I knew it would be very full-on, especially for someone with limited physical and social energy. Although disheartened I decided to look in to alternatives and found an online course. Although this won’t qualify you as an art therapist you’ll receive a diploma and learn what art therapy entails. I’m hoping to use this when I begin volunteering with the Alzheimer’s Society as a ‘side by side’ volunteer (one to one visits to individuals with Alzheimer’s) to engage who I’m paired with. The Open University is also a good option for those who have disabilities or work/family commitments. I’m currently studying ‘Improving Health & Wellbeing’, which I felt could also help with my volunteering. It may surprise some people to know that even some mainstream universities offer ‘distance learning’.  For example, the University of London offers an MA in Art History. I’m keen in the near future to apply to study for my Masters in Illustration (distance learning) at the University of Hertfordshire. I was also excited to see that the London Art College offer an ‘Illustrating Children’s Books’ year-long online course. So whilst living with a disability can often feel frustrating and feel like your possibilities are limited, there are ways around it.

Last week I visited for a second time the awe-inspiring Peterborough Cathedral. My best friend lives not too far away and first took me to this treasure a few months ago. The architecture is unbelievable and sitting in the grounds sketching on a sunny day under a tree is a lovely way to spend an hour. Last time I visited we popped in to the visitor centre and discovered a little exhibition. It was so nice to meet the artists behind the work. It was all fantastic but two women’s work really spoke to me. I loved the way Stacey-Ann Cole (LINK) used watercolour, it translated really well into postcards, and was definitely something I’d love to frame and put on my wall. I also met mosaic artist Mahemuda Arsalani whose work was so beautiful. I loved her mosaic hearts so much I got one for my Mum’s birthday (she also loved it!). You can visit her website here: LINK

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Mosaic by Mahemuda Arsalani (Muni’s Mosaics)

As for my sewing (as you know I love nothing more than upcycling material into something new!) for a while now I’ve been interested in getting involved with a charity called ‘Days For Girls’, who in their own words:  ‘increases access to menstrual care and education by developing global partnerships, cultivating social enterprises, mobilizing volunteers, and innovating sustainable solutions that shatter stigmas and limitations for women and girls’.  There are sewing groups and individuals (known as ‘super sewists’) all over the world, creating the ‘DFG Kit’, which is then sent to young women across the globe. What a great way to use up my leftover material…as well as a good excuse to pick up some more! If you’re a keen sewer with a little time to spare, or have been interested in joining a sewing group, visit their volunteering page to find out more: Link

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Leftover & new material

So I’m happy to say that I’m back and will be starting my monthly reviews again, kicking off with Body Kun/Chan artist model dolls (gone are the days of the clunky wooden mannequin!) and in coming months I’ll be reviewing materials, books, and hopefully exhibitions.

Have a creative July!

 

 

 

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Seasons Tweetings!

Seasons Greetings to all my followers! What a year! It’s been a while since I last posted, I’ve been inundated with hospital and clinic appointments, but now thankfully I have some time to myself to ease myself in to a less chaotic time, and just enjoy the season. And I kicked off with trying a craft I’ve had my eye on for quite some time: needle felting. I’ve been saying for years that it’s a craft I’d love to learn, and finally I had an excuse! My friend bought me a needle felting kit for my birthday. Take a look at my sweet little robin, who I will be giving to my Grandmother who is a wonderfully creative and crafty lady and will appreciate the love and effort behind him. If you feel like giving this satisfying craft a go, I’ve managed to find some vegan-friendly, wool-free options too! Heidi Feather’s has a wonderful starter kit which includes all you need to get going, along with a project book full of cute ideas from a robin, elephant, penguin, and even bunting (HeidiFeathers)

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Christmas is always a time when people become a bit more generous, and embrace love for one another more, and lately I’ve been reading some inspiring articles that have really brought in to focus the changes I want to make myself, not just this time of year, but for the year ahead, and hopefully the future. Already I’m laying the foundations for my New Year’s resolutions by making small changes.

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There are two books which I’d recommend if you’re interested in making similar goals. ‘Touching Peace‘ by Buddhist poet, scholar, and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh may have an unassuming cover, but inside can be found gems of wisdom on many topics, from relationships to diet and general daily living. The second book I’m going to recommend is ‘Zero Waste Home‘ by Bea Johnson, which is an interesting read for anyone thinking of embarking on a more environmentally-aware lifestyle. This year I’m also pairing up with a resolution buddy! A nice idea as you can encourage one another when your motivation is flagging.

As well as being the start of a hopefully more aware year, I’ll also be kicking off 2018 as I mean to go on – in a creative way. I’m happy to say that this year I’ll once again be taking part in the Y Galeri Caerffili‘s Winter Art Exhibition after my piece ‘The Artistic Autistic’ was chosen to be included. I created this piece with the intention of communicating how it feels to live with autism in our modern world. Many people with autism have sensory issues, which can lead to what’s known as ‘sensory overload’. Whilst most people are able to filter out outside stimulus, this can be difficult for people with autism, meaning we experience a constant flow of sounds, sensations, and sights, which can become overwhelming. I chose the colours carefully to try to communicate the feeling. If you’re interested to know how it feels to experience sensory overload, there are some great autism simulators on the web. If you know someone with autism it’s definitely worth taking a look at these: Sensory overload simulator

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‘The Artistic Autistic’ Oils on canvas board

It’s become somewhat a tradition of mine to have a real sort out of everything at the beginning on December and put my decorations up, and this year I found a stash of artwork that I’ve accumulated over the years, some up to 6 years old. It was interesting to see how my style and the materials I use have changed over the years.

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As promised earlier in the year, I also kept a visual diary of my visits to my hospital/clinic appointments. I took the time I would have spent just sitting waiting to challenge myself and create super quick sketches – something which I find a bit difficult as I’m a stickler for detail! Here are just some of my sketches.

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Hopefully in the new year I’ll be back to my usual weekly posts, with reviews, tutorials, and the occasional vegan recipe thrown in!

Merry Christmas (and a belated Yule to any Pagan followers out there)

xxx

Experiments with pen

My latest piece, step-by-step. Love the versatility of ProMarkers!

Title: The Autistic Brain

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Communicating with colour

‘Colour in a picture is like enthusiasm in life’

– Vincent Van Gogh

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As artists and illustrators will agree, we tend to have our ‘favourites’ – our favourite mediums, our favourite subjects, and in my case a favourite colour palette. Well it’s time for a challenge!

The topic of my current canvas painting is ‘sound through the eyes of autism’, which explores the impact a variety of ‘everyday’ sounds we have become accustomed to whilst living in a busy environment can have on someone on the autistic spectrum. I will be using colour as a mode of communication, to express the intensity of the sounds, as well as positioning clashing colours strategically to covey the sense of discomfort. Whilst being an exercise in the perception of, and relationships between colours, this piece also allows me to practice using colours outside of my comfort zone, to learn the nature of the colours better, which I feel I have with my ‘go-to palette’.

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‘I want to know more, where do i start?’

Of course there’s so much to discover when it comes to colour. Whilst at university I took a module titled ‘Understanding Colour’ which only scratched the surface on this vast topic. If you’re interested in getting serious about colour theory, I recommend reading ‘The Elements of Colour‘ by Itten, the famous expressionist painter linked to the Bauhaus. First published in 1963, it’s an oldie but a goodie! An unusual and interesting read also comes from Sara Fanelli’s ‘Sometimes I Think, Sometimes I am‘, which offers ample visual examples of how colour and a limited pallet can be used to convey a message. The book also includes a colour booklet, and you’ll discover a mass of quotes from famous artists regarding colour. Find it on Amazon here.

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Colour can mean different things to different people and can be used in inventive ways. I found some treasures on Folksy by artists who are embracing the effects colour can have. I recently discovered talented print maker James Green, whose work uses limited colours in each piece to produce a real impact. Here is some of his work, which can be bought in his shop here: James Green Printworks. You can also show your support by liking him on facebook.

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Another shop I recommend checking out is ‘Hush‘, whose owner Sarah Walters has produced a wonderful series of prints based on the seasons. Her notelet pack offers the whole series of designs, meaning there’s no need to choose!

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Coming next week: Monthly tutorial – Accurate drawing for beginners

16/09/2016 – Tutorial now available here: Accurate drawing for beginners

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