Putting my world back together.

At the end of January my world blew apart at the sudden loss of one of my family members. I adored them.

Almost 4 weeks on and my mind has now rejoined my body – my body went about its usual routines, catching the bus, going to work, shopping etc but my brain remained completely AWOL. I’m ready to begin the slow process of putting my world back together, even though huge chunks of it are (and always will be) missing. Bereavement sucks, but Art is helping. I started drawing in my journal again about 5 days ago and those pages are some of the best work I’ve ever done. The drawings themselves have nothing whatever to do with bereavement, but watching someone I love die before my very eyes has freed me from fear of failure and filled me with determination. And Danny Gregory’s books on drawing came into my life at just the right time.

My Etsy shop is in vacation mode for the foreseeable future, not just because of bereavement. I’m having serious internet and computer problems too (I’m typing this at work!). All this gives me the opportunity to once again rethink the shop and inch my way closer to whatever it is I really want to do with my future.

It is a very sad time but also a very exciting time. I’m in that in-between space -
life and death,
past and future,
failures and possibilities,
pain and healing,
sadness and hope.

Isn’t life exquisitely complex?

Letting go of ego

I’m amazed, A M A Z E D, to report that for once in my life I have stuck to a plan. I’ve been keeping a visual journal of sorts and I’ve been doing it every day. This is particularly amazing to me because, even as an art student, I never drew everyday and in all my life I have only ever completed one sketchbook (completed a couple of weeks ago, but started about 4 years ago). But I have lived and breathed art in the last couple of weeks and finally, FINALLY I am treating it as the passion I always felt it ought to be. I told you a couple of posts ago that I knew at the first chapter that Danny Gregory’s book “The Creative License” would change my life and it is already beginning.

I work as a graphic designer and spend my days on the computer, so designing my own stationery etc for my etsy shop was fine, but I was truly frozen with fear at the thought of producing my own hand drawings and illustrations – what if I wasn’t any good? Rather than find out I just stopped drawing. But now I’m reading everything I can get my hands on about producing art and *shock, horror* I’m actually putting pen to paper. I’m gradually getting rid of the fear of failure, letting go of my ego and starting afresh. I’m practising. I’m sketching. I’m trying out new techniques. I’m producing wobbly, bad, amateurish but honest drawings and really learning from the process. I’m LOVING the process. I’m loving the process more than the results. Blimey, I sound evangelical don’t I?! But seriously, I never thought this would happen to me. I never thought that I could let go of my ego and competitive nature enough to just surrender myself to the process and really learn something new with every drawing. Finally I really understand what a sketchbook is for.

Just to illustrate how far I’ve come, above is a wobbly example of the sort of drawing I’m enjoying just making. It’s a sketchbook drawing, just a sketchbook drawing and nothing more, but at one time I’d have rather cut off my own ear than ever let a drawing like that see the light of day. I’ve still not fully let go of ego, because there are much worse drawings than that I could have shown you, but hey, one step at a time ;)

Neglecting the blog

Let’s pretend it is unusual for me to suddenly get involved in something else and leave the blog idle, shall we?!

Last Sunday my family received some pretty devastating news about one of our number and we’ve all been left reeling.  I wasn’t sure whether to bring something so personal to the blog, even though it would have helped a bit to just blather on about it instead of trying to remain strong for the family.  In the end I decided to be really British about the whole thing and not bring it here in any great detail.  I’d like to try and keep this little corner of my world as pure and safe as possible in terms of situations out of my control.  Nobody has died, thankfully, but like millions of other families out there we now have an uncertain and scary road ahead.  I’ve been through the usual spectrum of emotions and have come to an uneasy, partial acceptance of the bare facts at least.   I’ve accepted that life has to go on and I have to find a way to sleep and eat and laugh and value every little detail of life.  I’ve also come to realise that actually even though a big, scary, bad-news bomb just detonated, life has always been precious and uncertain and precarious and hanging-in-the-balance.  That’s just what life is, so nothing has really changed in that respect.

The funny thing is, just how many little things have been happening in the run-up to the bad news.  It’s like the universe was setting things in motion to help us all cope with the impending uncertainty, even before we knew we needed to cope.  It’s comforting to think that there may be a plan out there for us.  Most of the examples are too personal to bring here or not my own stories to tell, but I can’t tell you how thankful I am that I decided to buy those art self-help books when I did.  I’d already (reluctantly) begun journaling when the news hit and it’s been immensely helpful just to look back and see my changes in attitude over the few pages that have been completed so far.  It’s been a way to unscramble this huge knotted mass of emotions and thoughts and make sense of at least some of it.  It’s certainly helped me let go of ego and fear of failure and just get the hell on with it, living in the moment.

Although huge life-changing events have happened, my art (therapy?) has only been concerned with small mundane things.  I might be worried about life and death situations on the outside, but inside my journal I’ll probably react by drawing my coffee cup and saucer or my lunch or the toothpaste on the toothbrush.  The more these huge events weigh on my mind, the further I retreat into the tiny everyday details.  I guess there must be some kind of weird comfort in that or maybe I’m just trying to get some control back in my life wherever I can.  Whatever else it is, it’s really interesting.  And hey, if it helps hone my drawing skills at least that’s already something positive to come out of it.  I knew that art was a huge part of my life, but I’ve never known what solace could be found in it before.  Who knew?

Back to the beginning … again.

For the longest time I’ve been dissatisfied with my career. For the longest time I’ve been trying to change directions whilst unsure of exactly which direction I’d rather go. Consequently I’ve spend the longest time going round and round and round in circles. Actually the directions I’ve traveled are nothing like as organised as circles. I have traveled in a big messy scribble. And the more confused I’ve become, the less I’ve felt like creating, until eventually I wound up where I am today – only drawing at work and not at all for pleasure. Ever.

So I decided to do something for my future and try a little retraining. I looked at doing a part time course that I could fit around my job, but there was nothing locally that came anywhere close to being what I want to do. I looked at learning online but this again didn’t quite have what I was looking for. I was left with one option – researching my favourite subjects myself. I decided to buy what I hoped would be the artistic equivalent of self-help books. I am so glad I did. Half way through the first chapter of the book at the top of my reading list “The Creative License” by Danny Gregory, I just knew that I had in my hands the book that was going to change my life. No exaggeration. He put into words everything I’ve been feeling for years and I instantly knew I was in safe hands.

I’ve only just started the book but through it I’m going to relearn the joy and the habit of drawing and being creative every day. I really want creativity to once again be my reason for waking up in the morning. It’s felt like a chore for so long now. I’m just taking those first wobbly steps but with renewed enthusiasm and strangely enough, confidence. I can’t wait to see where this path takes me, but it’d better not be in a bloody big scribbly direction again!

The new postcards

The new postcards arrived in double-quick time and they turned out better than I could ever have dared hope.  The colours are utterly perfect and the finish is superb.  Thanks so much MOO.com

I’m busy listing them in the shops and have the new postcard sections here on Etsy and here on Zibbet.  I’ve begun to list unique items in each shop, but I’m keeping a few of the best sellers as cross-overs in both.  And there’ll be plenty more postcards in the future as these have really whet my appetite and there are so many possibilities.

This weekend I’m going to try (but no promises!) to get some of the designs reinterpreted as 3D characters.  I only promise to try because I know just how bloody fickle I can be.  I am, however, pretty damned certain that this weekend will be all about creativity, as I have the dreaded task of dying my hair.  I’ll therefore be a virtual prisoner in my home – I mean, who’d venture out with what looks like a cling film covered cow-pat on their head?  I wouldn’t even answer the door to the Postman like that, no matter what parcelled up treasures he was trying to deliver – there are standards you know.

I use those awkward solid blocks of henna and although I love the results, the method is so, so tedious (chopping, grating and mixing to the perfect consistency), the application is so unbelievably messy (if you’ve ever seen how a Hippo distributes its hippo-pats you’ll understand what state the bathroom looks with splatters of grassy-looking henna EVERYWHERE!), the resulting get up is eccentric-looking and uncomfortable (cow-pat on head covered with kitchen towel, covered in clinfilm, covered in a soft hat).  But the greys need to be tamed as they’ve been running rampant recently.  Which leads me to ask, where do the grey hairs hide while they are growing?  I only ever seem to discover full length ones, I’ve never yet managed to catch one that’s only half the length of the rest of my hair or a tiny one, just beginning to grow.  It’s like they leap on your head, fully formed whenever you’re not looking!

So imprisoned I shall be and working hard on my artwork if only to make the time go quicker.

My first sales on Zibbet

Just a quickie to say Hoorrrraaaayyyyy!  I’m so happy (and lucky) to have made my first sales since starting the new shop.  I’m even happier to have a really patient and understanding customer, because the details of the order were messed up and confusing and were delayed (nothing to do with either of us).  Thank you so much patient and understanding customer  :)  


postcard peek

postcard peek

So after setting myself the task of reinterpreting some of my existing designs as 3D felt characters, I completely lost the plot and reinterpreted them as postcards instead (wtf?)! Above is a little glimpse of the designs I’ve sent off to be professionally printed. I love them, but why is it that whenever I set myself a brief, inspiration strikes in another direction entirely?

Hardly any more work got done at the weekend due to me being something that is as rare as hens teeth for me – SOCIABLE! Yes, I spent my entire weekend in the company of other humans and loved every minute of it. Being in a sociable mood is kind of like February the 29th in my world: it doesn’t last very long and it’s not going to happen again for another few years. But enjoy it I did.

And finally, I have to confess (somewhat sheepishly) that I have now found the camera cables and the memory card that I’ve been searching for. All this time they’ve been quietly sitting in a hidden pouch of the new camera bag I’d bought! Oh dear. I often fear for my own sanity and moments like this do nothing to help.