My 2017 Goal Check In!

I like to remind everyone that time is actually just a concept and it doesn’t really exist. However it still is fact that we are coming to the middle of the year 2017 and I thought it would be a good time to check in with the resolutions I made at the beginning of January – seeing as I actually made some this year.

My first resolution was to put myself in more opportunities that will get me out of the house and meeting new people, and to get involved in the arts community. I knew that this would mean sometimes going to events alone and having to put myself out there. This has become more important as I have now taken the leap to part time working at my day job (it wasn’t so much a leap but a gentle step, however one in the right direction!). I have started going to a monthly illustrators meet up called Yo Illo. Most of the meet ups are in bars and it’s a relaxed and friendly vibe. I look out for events and am trying to put myself forward for things. This has recently lead to my work being shown at Cass Art in Islington. I am on the look out for more crafty and illustration events though so let please tell me about any you know about! In the next part of the year I’m thinking about some projects that will mean a little more branching out to people and I think with this one it’s so far, so good.

My next resolution was to be more organised in my approach to projects and ideas. I actually forgot about this one but! Pleased to say I think I can tick it off. The main huge help in progressing projects has been having a creative coach (shout out to Jen). We’ve discussed ways in which to work effectively alongside the DJ and I’ve spent a little time testing out what works best for me. I break down my tasks into tiny steps that it almost seems ridiculous but I’ve got stuff done. I still feel frustrated with the length of time things take me but I’m learning to work alongside any struggles I have. I’ve learnt it’s important to give yourself some grace and I’m remembering to do that.

My last resolution was to read a more diverse range of books. I am a slow reader (see above point about things taking me ages) but so far I’ve read some essays (particularly ‘We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie), poetry (We Carry The Sky by McKayla Robbin, Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur and Howling at the Moon by Darshana Suresh), graphic novels (Paper Girls and Saga by Brian Vaughn), non fiction (Tiny, Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed – again) and fiction (The Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan).  I’ve also taken to carving out some more time for reading and using it as wind down and non-screen time before I go to bed.

 

I’ve never really been goal-setting sort of person but I think, all things considered, it’s going ok. I’ve made more progress on ideas having set some goals for them rather than ‘getting to it this year’. Even if I set a date and have to push it back I’ve got to be chill with myself and content in the face I’m going in the right direction.

Wild and Uncivilised: Illustration Exhibition

I've had these guys finished for a while now. They've been printed, photographed and the top piece is currently in an exhibition at the Cass Art store 's gallery in Islington until the 30th May. 

The exhibition is called Wild and Uncivilised, and features watercolour works from various artists. Super excited to have this opportunity to exhibit in my favourite art supply store. 

Let me know if you get along to see it! 

Collection Moodboard: Supernova

Playlist

Wish You Were Here - Florence Welch, May I Have This Dance - Francis and The Lights, Tilted - Christine and the Queens, The Greatest - Sia, New World Coming - Benjamin Wallfisch and Disa, Palace - Hayley Kiyoko, Colors - The Head and The Heart. 


Stellar explosion of all the colours in shades that put the milky in the milky way. 


Top left - Spring Scattering Stars - Edward Blashfield, Second row left - here, Second row right - found here (please tell me if you know who the artist is, nothing is coming up on google), third row left - here, bottom row left - here

Artwork: Pastel Silhouette

Happy New Year! How many times have you said that now? Seriously. But, I do still mean the sentiment. I hope the first few days of the new year are kicking off just how you want them to be. 

I have to say, I have a good feeling about this year. And this good feeling has had results already. I've read two books; The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (this is both a recommendation and so you know that when I say two books, they would take anyone an hour to get through). I've also created three new pieces of artwork. 

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In among the Christmas and New Year celebrations I got to work on finishing up some new pieces I wanted to complete. This is one of them and I don't think I've ever cut thin lines this long. The other few will be revealed shortly. 

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As always work in progress shots are up over on my instagram

Let me know how you're starting off your new year! 

The First Chapter: Why I Didn't Talk in School

I greatly admired Carrie Fisher for her unabashed ownership of all that she was, for her honestly about her mental health, for her talent, her humor and for telling her truth. She was both an inspiration and a comfort. One of the unwavering affirmations I’ve felt from the praises for her has been how important it is to advocate and talk openly about mental illness. Over the past year I have been more accepting of a particular part of my story, greatly due to Carrie. I think now is a good time to share it.

 

I suffered/lived with/just simply had a sever anxiety disorder they now call Selective Mutism through most of my childhood. This co-existed with social anxiety, the effects of which I still live with today.

It basically meant that, for me, while I was perfectly able to speak I couldn’t in most public situations including church, shopping centres, doctors surgeries and school.  Both to strangers and family and close friends in those public places.

I couldn’t speak even if it meant me getting into trouble. I couldn’t speak even when it would be less embarrassing to. I couldn’t speak even if it meant my schoolwork suffered. I couldn’t speak even when I was getting bullied. I couldn’t speak when I was constantly asked why I didn’t.

It was like a brick wall fortified across my throat and the words would try to get out but couldn’t pass the wall. That is how I described it to the last therapist I was treated by.

I went through many different therapies, some of which I can’t really remember. 3 stand out overall.

I went to Art Therapy, which was a room full of as many craft supplies as you can dream up. I would go in with a therapist and essentially be let loose for an hour. I think we kept it up for a while however I was far too concerned with what I was doing that I never really spoke back to the therapist. Ultimately, for fairly obvious reasons, it made its mark on me. But it wouldn’t make me speak.

I remember another treatment where I had to lie down and have my head massaged by a doctor. It was in a building attached to a private dentist and it was fancy af. I used to be so bored lying there and even at the age I was, 8 or so, I remember thinking that particular treatment was a waste of time. However it got me out of school early and my brother and I were allowed to eat the sugar cubes from the serving of tea my mum got, and so I never said I didn’t want to do it anymore.

I wasn’t a shy kid, I had an attitude and I could be pretty conniving at times. I often felt like I was treated like I didn’t want to speak. That I was refusing to. My ‘reward’ for speaking at school was a trip to Disneyland Paris. I remember so many times adults would say, frustrated and almost angry, that if I just said one word I would be able to go. Would I ever be able to say one word? No, I felt 10 times worse then. I wished in those situations just to run away. It was all that I knew. I didn’t know I had an anxiety disorder. I knew I wasn’t the same as the other kids but I wasn’t the one making me different. I only knew what I wanted to do and what I didn’t want to do.

The last therapist I went to focused on Speech and Language therapy and was and writing a book on Selective Mutism. I worked with her over a number of years. These years were the last I spent in Primary school. The steps were so small I didn’t even realize they were steps. I remember exercises like recording the stories I’d written on tape recorders and having them played to my teacher, then a small group of friends and then eventually one to the whole class. It was a story about a hedgehog. I had called her Helen (my best friend had named her hedgehog Hannah). I went bright red and my heart beat so fast and the kids intermittedly turned around to look at me. My best friend held on to me the whole time. I went from speaking to my mum in school grounds, to a few group of friends, to other school children, to answering the phone at my house (I hated this and still hate this), to talking to my teacher in the classroom. I was just short of answering the register out loud.

By the time we were coming to the end of my treatment we had found out I hadn’t been admitted to my local secondary school.  I was going to a school 30 minutes away where I didn’t know anyone. Leaving behind my friends who had taken time to help me in my recovery, even though none of us really understood it, was really daunting.

As I came out of therapy I enrolled in drama school to continue social development and build confidence. I found I liked playing a character. I do it still now: to answer the phone, leave a voicemail or ask for directions.

I don’t think I can say all the ways surviving 11 years of this disorder has effected me, but I can say undoubtedly that it has. I still struggle. I struggle through. Looking back I can see the path that lead me to today.

Drama school lead me to theatre. Theatre lead me to story telling. I found art as a way to express myself when I couldn’t find the words. I could communicate without speaking.

I know I am able to face things. I know that I have to face things to function, to achieve that which I long to do. I know its ok. I know I don’t have to be embarrassed of my childhood.

I performed on stage at the age of 13. I started at secondary school when I was 11. I was quiet and awkward but I answered the register.

We went to Disneyland the next year. 

New Years Resolutions

For possibly the first time ever I have some serious new years resolutions. In previous years I’ve never bothered. And while I think it’s better to always Start Now, if you want to see the New Year as a symbolic occasion to make some positive changes well that’s grand.

That’s what I’m going with for this year. 2016 hasn’t been that great for me and I’m ending it a little bit low to be honest. However as I see out this week readying myself for the onslaught of the week after I have been thinking over some of things I want to resolve to do in 2017.

I’ve come up with these:

1.     I want to put myself in, and say yes to, opportunities that will get me out the house, meeting new people and getting more involved in the arts community. If I don’t have planned things to do I spend a lot of time home alone. I have a routine of going into work and home again. While I like spending time alone, I don’t very much like being lonely. If I don’t have plans with friends I want to see what I could go and do myself, I want to go to events and talks even if it means going alone. I want to seek out opportunities to meet and talk with artists and freelancers and creative business owners in a face to face setting.

2.     I want to be more ‘step based’ in my approach to ideas and projects. I want to break down tasks into manageable chunks and not become overwhelmed by what could or could not happen in the bigger scheme of things. This I hope with mean I don’t get stuck in the ‘thinking of the idea’ phase of a project and get me to the ideal I spoke of in the intro – just bloody get on with it, start now.

3.     I want to read a more diverse range of books. By this I mean both in genre and author.  I want to read more non-fiction, poetry, essays by authors and artists from different backgrounds and cultures.

 

I think those are 3 good ones to get on with. I hope to build towards great things in 2017 and I hope January 2018 me looks back and thinks I’ve done a good job.

 

How are you finding reflecting on 2016? Have you got any resolutions for 2017?

The London Illustration Fair

On Saturday I went to The London Illustration Fair on a last minute decision. I went alone but it was nice to wander around at my own pace and see it all. Here are some pictures I took. 

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Places and artists featured: Eakins, Hammer Chen, Guido Iafigliola, Katie Leamon, Scout Editions, Benjamin Rothery, Blank Inside, Marcelina Amelia, Nick Ellwood.

 

Gran Canaria and bodies on beaches

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I recently went on a week long trip to Gran Canaria with Hannah. We stayed in the fanciest hotel I think I’ve ever been to and the first 5 star I think I’ve ever stepped inside.

Whilst we stayed in the resort a lot we did venture out to a few places within walking or reasonable taxi fair distance. Those being the beach, bars, and a town called Mogan. But I wasn’t going to write about what I did on this trip, I do want to write about the sight I saw a lot. Boobs.

It was mid 30s most days and therefore I spent most of my time not wanting to wear anything. And the thing is – most of the people around us did just that. Honestly, boobs everywhere.  I’m talking all sizes, ages and colours. And it was just as common place at the palm trees.

For me, it was near revolutionary. By the second day I was walking around the pool with my arms swinging by my sides instead of placed self consciously over my stomach.  I pretty much completely forgot there was anything wobbly about me and splashed, rolled and pranced about having a great time.

Going back to it being as common place as the palm trees. It was so in the reaction too. No one gave a shit. No one was staring (apart from Hannah and I on the first day before it was dawned on us this was The Way).  It was un sexualised and I overheard no comments or saw no grimaces or pointing. Very un-British.  Not to say there was nothing like that at all and I can’t say the Canarians don't objectify women (we got a car beep at us on more than one occasion, even before we got caught in the sprinklers as we made our way back to the hotel after a jaunt somewhere), but it was the general reaction and view that we picked up on whilst there.

One of the oddest moments happened whilst we were at the beach. A group of 4 young people – 2 men, 2 women forming 2 hetro couples arrived and placed themselves in front us. Both women whipped off their tops in front of both partner and the other couple within minutes of arriving. The men were playing football with a tennis ball. It would all have been seen as very inappropriate back home but I thought it illustrated the differences perfectly. I mean both women were toned, tanned and very beautiful but I think it is a healthier reaction to bodies than we have in the more covered world. 

This was a very specific situation and people are generally more carefree on holiday. But in such a short space of time my view of my own body and my comfort within it changed significantly. I’ll admit there was a level of comparison, but it stopped being a ‘I think that person looks way better or not as good as me’ to realising there were so many different bodies around and no one seems to be taking any notice of how different they are- no one is going to care about what I look like either. It was really nice. It was a very good example of why we need to see different bodies around, what it's like when all body types on show are more common place and the effect that can have on how you feel in your own skin. 

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Inktober: Done Is Better Than Perfect and Other Lessons

Upon the urging of Hannah I decided to take part in this years Inktober. For those that don't know, it's a month long project where you post a drawing made with ink every day for the month of October. You can follow the official prompts, prompts made by other people or use no prompts at all like a wild child. 

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I have done daily challenges before and completed them, and this was less a chance to see if I could do it. It's more to see what I can do with it. 

We're only on day 20 and so I still have a little way to go but so far it's helped me realise a few things that are important when taking your work seriously.

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It's a daily challenge. You have less than 24 hours to complete any one piece of work. So it does not have to be your best stuff. When you put something into perspective you realise how much time and commitment it deserves. Done is better than perfect. 

For example: if you're commissioned to make an illustration for a newspaper you know that the next day it's going to be ripped out and laid on a floor for a pet to poop on. You don't have to give it the same commitment and time as the commission for a personalised art piece, which you sincerely hope does not experience the same fate.

Mostly I've tried to use the project to test out ideas I've had in my head, either for a while or that have come to mind while creating other pieces. Some have turned out ok, and some haven't turned out quite how I'd liked. I've, again, re-learned the benefit of continuing to produce work. Whether it's good or bad; you are more productive and move quicker in your ideas if you are consistently churning it out.

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It's actually been a really good experience to share work I'm not 100% happy with at the time. It's been good to see what I like and what I don't, and what I want to develop and what I don't.

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When you're working on your illustration game on the side it can be very hard to be productive all of the time. Some days I get in from work and want to do nothing. Following a project like this is very good at teaching yourself commitment and motivation as a freelancer. 

There is an idea that as artists we lay around waiting to be inspired and having dark periods where we just can't create anything. To be big in the game, to even be in the game this simply can't be true for you. Milk(wo)men don't get Milk(wo)man block. You have to go to work. This project, and the ones I've done before, are good at honing that self discipline.

I know it isn't realistic to have the same level on 'switched on' every day while I work full time. Once this month is over I'm sure I'll have days where I don't put pen to paper but put face to pillow instead. I think these projects are good bursts of mind training if you will. 

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These reasons are why I think projects like this are beneficial. Added to the fact you're joining in with a community that's creative and working towards the same goal, getting to be exposed to a whole load of new contemporaries and being able to receive the same level of exposure. 

Hope you're enjoying the project if you're taking part. You can search inktober on instagram and tumblr to see all the work getting shown daily.