Lately I’ve been allowing myself some more creative freedom, which is really refreshing. I’ve mentioned before trying to get away from the focus on a piece of work being ‘good’ and allow myself to just create. This week I’ve been working on part of my Children’s Illustration course that emphasises the use of texture, rather than solid outlines. I’ve been allowing myself to just go with my instinct and find I’m enjoying the act of creating much more than if I were worrying about how ‘good’ it should be.
I’ve also been experimenting with decoupage during my one-to-one volunteering through the Alzheimer’s Society. I really feel that creativity can have a beneficial effect on people and can be very therapeutic. For me, combining music with creativity helps me experience what’s called ‘flow’ – when you’re utterly immersed in what you’re doing – especially with classical music. As someone who has experienced difficulties with my mood I can really appreciate the benefits of making creativity a regular part of life for individuals suffering from depression and anxiety.
As well as art and crafts I used to write a lot of poetry, although the urge had left me for quite a while until the other day. I find writing poetry a good way of immediately letting out emotion and I’m happy to be inviting more forms of creativity back into my life.
With Easter just around the corner this is the perfect excuse to let your creative self out!
Recently my focus has been a bit all over the place when it comes to where to direct my creative energy. I’ve been dipping into my children’s illustration course then reviving old projects and feeling the need to work on those. Over a year ago I started an autobiographical piece that after a bereavement I felt unable to complete. I thought that that would be that, I’d never have the inclination to finish the piece as it reminded me of a difficult time in my life. However, the other day the urge to get back in to some….forgive me for this term….’serious’ art overwhelmed me.
It’s been a little while since I did what people in my life know me for, which is more fine art (not including the still life we had to do for one of the units in my course). As some of you may know over the past year I’ve been turning my focus more to less precise work and embracing the freedom of illustration but I do miss that feeling I get when I get really engrossed in detail. I’m having mixed feelings about beginning work on this piece again but I have this feeling that right now I’m supposed to be out-letting some emotion with it.
The other project I’ve brought out again is one I worked on years ago after the loss of my beautiful Springer Spaniel. Wanting to create something good from something bad I used the box her ashes came in to create a piece of work that had meaning behind it. I called it ‘The Fairy House’, but in a way it’s like a memorial piece. A lot of the materials I used represent something meaningful.
In addition to the box that made the main structure of the house I used twigs collected from places I visited regularly with my dog. The field I used to walk in with my Nan (who has also now passed), moss which I dried from places we’d also walked, and even the shells on the roof have their own story. Many years ago on freecycle someone was advertising a box of craft materials that had belonged to their late wife. They wanted them to go to good use as his wife had spent many hours enjoying crafting with them. I promised they would and so they became part of the Fairy House.
Some of the elements are handmade too; I used polymer clay to make tiny mushrooms that are ‘growing’ out of the roof, the blanket in the shell bed was knitted and the little pillow was a section of an old teatowel that I embroidered. A lot of work went into this project, yet for the past year the Fairy House has been sat in a shed. Now feels like the time to tidy it up a bit and decide where it belongs.
I’m enjoying my volunteering with the Alzheimer’s Society and am incorporating my love of craft and all things creative into the session I’m doing. I feel like getting creative can have a positive effect on our wellbeing, even if only for the time we’re doing it.
I’m yet to visit the Da Vinci exhibition in Cardiff (I mentioned in my last blog about the nation-wide exhibitions that were being held to mark the 500th anniversary of his death) but as it’s running until the beginning of May there’s still plenty of time to get there. Since I started researching the Italian Renaissance during my A levels (13 years ago) I’ve had an interest in the subject and artists from that time. I love the use of symbolism and considered using this era in my dissertation but opted for the Symbolist Movement (late 19th century)…you can see why.
This week I’m allowing myself to just be creative in whatever way I feel. How much I create and how much I engage with my work is often dependent on how I’m feeling. This week I’m feeling in need of some freedom, to outlet emotions with whatever project feels right at the time.
As any artist will know it can be difficult to focus when your mind is all over the place. Lately, my mind has been flitting from one thing to another meaning any sustained period of work has seemed near impossible! However, I’ve had a couple of short sessions over the past week where I felt really engrossed in my work and felt I channelled a lot of emotion.
I feel like art isn’t just a subject for some people, it’s so much more. To me, it’s not just something I’m ‘good at’, it’s an outlet, a distraction, part of my identity. Art is such a huge part of who I am I feel like it’s actually part of me, which is actually really quite reassuring when you’re battling with identity and trying to establish your place in this busy world.
I’ve started my distance learning with the London Art College and so far I’m finding it interesting. Initially I was wary of the way Unit 1 had me going right back to very basics but I feel like I still took something away from it. Unit 2 was interesting as it covered perspective, which is something I haven’t particularly found myself delving in to much over the 15 years I’ve been studying art. It was generally assumed that perspective was just a matter of getting the proportions and distance of what you were looking at right. Unit 2 took a more…’geometry-based’ approach (if that’s the right term to describe it) which actually had me searching the library to find out more. Next week I’ll be reviewing the book ‘Perspective & Composition’ by Barrington Barber. Perspective isn’t something you generally always have to worry about in the world of Illustration and I’ve found many inspiring pieces that appeal to the eye that aren’t in perfect perspective. It got me thinking of my own work though and how I’ve dealt with perspective without using the system described in Unit 2. Generally, I rely greatly on my own perception and trust what my eyes are seeing. I remember being just 8 years old and a teacher saying to me: we often draw what we think we should see, not what we actually see. I’ve remembered this ever since and always make a point of saying this to myself when I’m drawing from life. Below is an example of how I’ve used perspective relying on this concept.
At the moment I’m working on a still life piece that focuses on using shading to create depth. The advice given was to focus on the display as a whole. This is a real challenge for someone like me who often gets bogged down in the details! But I’ll be posting the finished piece soon. It feels good to be working in pencil again and taking time out from life to be creative.
What a week since my last post! Having been eager to really get stuck in to my artwork I found myself on pause as a fibro flare-up engulfed me! Thankfully I’m feeling much better and after a few days of giving in and resting (in addition to practically bathing in ibuprofen gel and having a heat pack permanently attached to my shoulders) I’m ready to get to work again.
I managed to get some sketching done early last week for my second project (which terrifyingly has a deadline of 3 weeks!) whilst my Christmas card design took a bit of a back seat. After several months of experimenting with other mediums I use less often (gouache, watercolour, pastel) I’m back to my old favourite: water-mixable oil paints, though I use them as though they’re ‘real’ oil paints, thinning them out with Liquin Original. I’ll be revealing the complete card design at a later date but for now have some sketches for my other project to share with you.
It feels good to work more freely and just experiment rather than go in straight away wanting my work to be perfect. My process has altered slightly over the past year as I’m allowing myself to play around more with designs and have a rough draft that I then improve on rather than jumping straight from rough thumbnails to final piece. This ‘middle’ step feels the most enjoyable as you can play around with so many possibilities.
I’m also eager to get back to sewing,particularly as I’ve recently been given a stash of beautiful material that would otherwise have been dumped. My followers will know how important keeping my sewn items as eco-friendly as possible is to me. I recently received an email that gives me the perfect excuse to get my needle and cottons out again. October 11th is ‘International Day of the Girl Child‘ and to celebrate this the charity ‘Days for Girls‘ have set up the ‘Global Girls Festival‘ running until the 1st November. There are several ways you can volunteer with Days for Girls, but the most creative way is by becoming a solo sewist, setting up a sewing team, or joining/founding a chapter. ‘Sewists’ create what’s known as the ‘D4G Kit‘ which is then sent on to young women in deprived areas of the world. You get access to all their patterns, can get support in the D4G ‘Kit chat’ group on facebook and of course get to scratch your creative itch whilst doing good. I have a feeling that stash of colourful fabric I’ve been given will be put to good use this month…
It’s hard to believe that it’s October already, this has been a difficult year of significant loss for me but I finally feel like I’ve got my passion for art back. Lately I’ve been working on two projects, though one has taken a bit of a backseat as I’m focusing more on developing my more relaxed illustration style (which I’m doing through designing Christmas cards) whilst the other I have a feeling is going to go down a more detailed fine art route.
I’ve been enjoying just sketching out some ideas and building on them and it feels good to be creative but not worry so much about detail and the piece being ‘good’. I’m focusing more on the feeling rather than the technique. Whilst it feels so satisfying to finish a detailed piece I feel more inclined to think ‘i’ll spend this spare time working on that piece’ when it’s more relaxed. It’s not the most serious of subject matter but I’ve been working on creating a cute card design that’ll give a ‘cosy’ festive vibe.
These are obviously just the very first steps, just my first rough sketches. Now that I have some ideas though I’ve started transferring these ideas onto mixed media paper (i wanted a bit of texture so I chose fine grain heavyweight paper (you can read all about selecting the right papers here: Choosing the right sketchbook )
As well as cracking on with my art projects last Friday I went to the Welsh Autism Show in Cardiff which was packed with information and resources. What I was especially pleased to come across was some fellow ASD artists and their brilliant work. Find out more about their work by clicking the names below. (Please bear in mind images are copyright).
When I saw the work Chris had on display I was amazed by how realistic his drawings were. In fact, my companion thought they were photographs! It’s evident how much care and attention goes in to each piece. Chris is a self-taught artist and is available for commission.