Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Creative wish list for 2014

This is the last in my recent series of three very reflective, contemplative and slightly self-indulgent blog posts all about things that have been pinging round in the old grey meter of late. I've tried to put down in words some of my internal dialect, in the hope that others may relate and identify with the some of the things that I've been thinking....

You can read the other two blog posts here and here

OR to summarise, busy year, lots of things happening, work very busy, personal life very busy, not enough hours in the day, several selling events, weekends away from home, a looming exhibition and Christmas..... Mini-meltdown, considering giving up on creative dream and not feeling very happy at all.... Lots of thinking time, chatting to others, reading, having a break and coming to some conclusions.....

I'm attempting to redress the balance, changing what I can, and learning to adapt to the things I can't (the economy) in the hope that 2014 will be a fulfilling year, for mind, body and soul. And this is how I'm hoping to do it....

I'm going to spend some time visiting some of my creative friends, chatting to them about life, ideas, and why we do what we do, getting an insight into what makes them tick, and having a nosey into their creative lives. I might even do a couple of their workshops too.

I'm going to stop thinking of end goal when commencing new work, and start just creating for the sake of it, shifting my focus from end product and how well it will sell (commercial viability) and heading back to my creative roots, starting to examine what I'm truly inspired by, in the hope that I can find my way again, and start making some work that I can really connect with again.

I'm researching courses in new media, in the hope I can break away from intricate and detailed black and white and explore the land of messy colour for a while.

I've been researching creative sabbaticals, contacting other creatives who have stopped making for a while in order to refuel their creative engines, and I'm going on a new journey starting next week, with new ideas for work I'm interested in exploring. The sketchbooks are ready, the Pinterest boards are stocked with divine images to spark ideas and I will even be getting out the old sketchbooks from right back when I was on the foundation course and looking through them to see what I can find.

I'm determined to get out of the studio on my creative days and take my sketchbook with me. I need to book in a couple of sketching days with my sis. I'm going to rediscover the reasons I chose this route in the first place and enjoy it once more, rather than constantly feeling that my creative time is running out and trying to jam pack as much into it as possible, measuring the success of a day by the number of ticks on my to-do list.

I want to take my time, stop rushing from one task to the next and just immerse myself in my work, forgetting about results but concentrating on the process, I want to be more present, and to be more mindful and to make sure I enjoy ans savour my creative time, for I'm mighty lucky to have it.

As for my blog, it took on a life of its own in 2012 and 2013, but again in my period of negativity it was something that suffered. I felt I had nothing to say of any great consequence, and anything I did have to say would have come out as a whinge!! So as for blog plans, I'm just going to wait and see what happens. I will continue to blog about my creative journey, but maybe just not as often as I did in 2013. We will just have to wait and see.

My goal is to not put myself under any pressure to make everything perfect and sellable, or to get five blog posts a week published, but to just get back into drawing, painting, recording and looking. I'm taking a leaf from the book of Gillian Lee Smith and I'm going to start making art for ME.

So there you have it, in typical 'me'- style I've actually just written myself my resolution/wish list for 2014, without even realising it. I always like to kind of know what I'm going to do, but this year I'm conscious to make my plans looser and more fluid, to take the advice of my mother-in-law and to go with the flow..... Let's see how it goes shall we??

What are your creative wishes and plans for 2014? Having written mine down has actually made me feel like a weight has been lifted, I feel excited about the coming year and not filled with unease and restlessness, as I did a few weeks ago. 

It would be great to hear from you, please feel free to get your thoughts down in the comments section, and share your plans with us.... 

Monday, 30 December 2013

Contemplation and head space

Warning - this is a long blog post - you might need to put the kettle on and grab a biscuit before starting to read....

Following on from my last post I've been trying to put into words how I've been feeling recently, about my creativity and the direction in which I am heading (or not, as it seems, over the past few weeks!!). Whenever I have even had flicker of this 'feeling' in the past I always think it's a good idea to reflect, look back before you look forwards and you will sometime find your answers to your questions without even realising it.

The last couple of years have been an amazing journey, I'm over the moon with what I've achieved, and going back and reading my first blog, which I started in 2007, I realise how much my work and I have moved on and grown in the last 6 years, moving from a hobby or pastime into my very own creative business. I've also been reading blogs by other creative people I know and following their creative journeys, Helen Hallows, Gillian Lee Smith, Johanna Basford, Anna Simmonds, to name but a few. This has helped me to realise that my recent feelings of negativity and doubt are a completely natural part of 'being creative' and this realisation has actually helped my feel a lot better about things.

Taking part in creative business courses and working with a mentor from 2010 until 2012 has given me a fantastic vision of what my business can become and I have been storming ahead with my to-do lists and tasks which I have set myself. This has led to major developments for me, new product lines, new work and a major grande finale to 2013, a collaborative exhibition with two other artists. This has fulfilled a lot of my personal ambitions for myself and my business which is extremely satisfying.

But.... During the last few months of 2013 I started to notice how I was feeling, how my enthusiasm was waning, everything seemed to be getting on top of me, and I wasn't enjoying my creative business as much as usual. These feelings were most definitely unwelcome. I LOVE feeling positive, energised and happy, enthused about tackling the latest to-do list with vigour, excited about the possibilities and opportunities the world has to offer. I most certainly do not LOVE the 'unwelcome' feelings, of self-doubt, apathy, general 'pissed-off-ness' and demotivation.

Now before you start yelling at me, I know on the creative path I have chosen, there are always ups and downs, peaks and troughs, and periods of intense creativity and progress, followed by periods of quiet reflection, rest and replenishment. But after a few opportunities that's didn't go as well as expected  and I was even considering packing this creativity lark in, I knew that this time it was a bit different, something needed to change. Questions needed to be asked and answers needed to be found.

Hence the creative break, the absence from blog land, the withdrawal from making new commitments and the hiatus in preparation of new website.....

So what now I hear you ask? Well.... all the thinking and reflection time has been a godsend. It was the break I needed to digest, dissect, examine and put back together my own thoughts on my creative journey, my unwelcome feelings of negativity, and the reasons I wanted to be 'creative' in the first place, where I want this creative journey to take me, what I want to achieve etc etc etc

I've found a few answers to the things that were bugging me, I now know why I ended up feeling so negative by the end of the year. It was a combination of over-committing myself, taking on too much, and saying yes to too many things, seizing the day at every opportunity, as I was scared that if I said no to something no other opportunities would come my way. Basically putting myself under too much pressure, plus other stuff going on at home and in my day job = me in a big huff with life, considering chucking in the towel and handing over the studio keys to someone who can be arsed with it!! Sounds dramatic I know, I think I'm over it now!!

I'm super conscious that this post is turning into a bit of a 'Gone with the Wind' blog post of epic proportions so I will bid you farewell, before I bore you to tears and will be back with more next time..... Answers to questions, solutions to problems, a course of action and a bit of a loose plan for 2014.... See you then!!

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Quiet time

Hello lovely blog readers, it has been a while since I blogged last. I hope you have all had a great festive break. So what have you all been up to lately? Lazy days in front of the fire, visiting fiends and relatives, enjoying the crisp winter sunshine?

I've had a very quiet and peaceful Christmas this year, which I think is what we both needed after a very hectic and stressful couple of months. I decided last month that I was going to take a step back from my creative work for a while, which is what I have done and this has given me time to reflect and look back at the last few years since I decided that I wanted to pursue a creative life.

 I have been doing a lot of thinking, listening to the radio, sleeping, reading books, and generally having a lot more quiet time than usual. We've made the effort to get out and walk our dog early and then head back home for a chilled out afternoon in front of the fire. This has given me time to catch up with myself. I've been browsing Pinterest and finding lots of inspiration in the plethora of beautiful and inspiring imagery. I've also been reading lots of blogs which has given me great comfort in knowing that I'm not the only one who sometimes feel frustrated, demotivated, lost, drained, lacking in direction and confidence.

I have been experiencing an internal struggle recently about my creative direction, and it has been difficult to try to put into words how I have been feeling. I'll try to get it all down on paper (or on my ipad), which I think will help me to find some answers and to move on into 2014 with a clear head and an exciting sense of direction and purpose.

 Have you ever felt this way? What did you do to overcome your creative inertia?

Friday, 13 December 2013

Prints Charming - the Grande Finale of 2013

All images here are shown courtesy of SOCK Loughborough.

So we did it. From an initial idea a beautiful exhibtion was made!! Helen, Fiona and I all got together for the Private View last Friday and we were really pleased with ourselves and how the exhibition looked. From Helens inspiring landscapes to Fiona's gorgeous printed figures I think you will agree from the images above that us girls have done ourselves proud!! If you fancy nipping to Loughborough to have a look the exhibition is on until Mid-January, so there's plenty of time to catch it!!

For me, this is my Grande Finale to what has been a very busy year. From being Artist in Residence at the first Nottingham Festival of Words, to my second outing to BCTF, a new ceramic range and several selling fairs I can safely say that it has been another enjoyable and rewarding year for me in creative endeavours. 

As for the next twelve months, They are going to be a bit more sedate and peaceful, certainly the next six will be. I'm planning a few personal projects, treats to myself, a couple of workshops and courses and maybe a new direction or new subject matter. I have bought myself two new sketchbooks which I'm itching to begin. I'm planning several sketching days out and am hoping to reconnect with the heart of my creativity, and getting back into habit of drawing, creating and making, just because. I will still be blogging, so feel free to follow me, on the next year of creativity. 

I hope you all have a restful and relaxing festive period and I will see you all in 2014. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Prints Charming - a collaborative exhibition


So this is the culmination of my creative work thus far - a collaborative exhibition with fellow artists Helen Hallows and Fiona Wilson which opens this Friday at SOCK Loughborough. It's a biggie for me, in fact the biggest exhibition I have ever taken part in!! I've been to SOCK today to set up. The team there are so friendly they made what could have been a slightly nerve-wracking experience into a really pleasant one, being available to help with the technical side of hanging our work and offering us a ready supply of tea, coffee and encouragement!

We managed to transform our space from this.....

into this.....

in a matter of a few hours (although if my lovely Dad hadn't been there to help I think I might still be there, scratching my chin and looking a bit helpless!!).

So if you are in the Loughborough area and you fancy coming along to see us at the Preview - it's on Friday evening 6-9pm - bring all your friends - it's going to be good!!

Monday, 2 December 2013

Sketchbook Peeks - Anne Davies

I first discovered the work of Anne Davies via Twitter when I came across the hashtag #drawingaugust. Being the nosey person I am, I decided to have a look and I found some gorgeous work on show.Intrigues as ever I wanted to find out what all of this #drawingaugust was so I asked Anne to tell me a little about it

'I was quite new to Twitter (I started in June this year I think) and I saw some references to getting ready for #DrawingAugust from some of the people that I was following, I think it was Jean Stevens and Jean Edwards. I jumped in feet first! I've been meaning to renew my habit of regular drawing for years but there's always something more pressing to do! I got very addicted to posting every day and took my little drawing book everywhere. As it was a holiday and weekends-away kind of month there was plenty of landscape inspiration. I loved #DrawingAugust for the sense of community and support, seeing the different syles and looking forward to what my favourite artists were going to post that day. It re-ignited my passion for drawing and I have continued to draw almost daily. Its now a part of my creative process again and I think my paintings are better for it'

 I asked Anne whether she would like to be featured on my blog, as I was really drawn to her sketchbooks (if you will excuse the pun!). They reminded me of textile pieces, patchworks of coloured fabric, so I was intrigued when I found out they were painted. I asked Anne to tell me a bit about herself and this is what she had to say.........

Before we start, tell us a little about yourself/how did you get into art/craft/design career and how it all started and where you are now 

I loved art from a young age and went to art college straight after school . I continued to paint after graduating, usually while working at other 'day jobs' to pay the rent. I started selling work in earnest about 18 years ago and now show with several galleries.

How long have you been using sketchbooks? 

Since my foundation course at Chesterfield art college - we were very much encouraged to keep a sketchbook and I was almost obsessive about mine - I think I did some of my best work in it.

How often do you sketch? 

It varies but at the moment I usually draw at least four days a week and paint in my sketchbook once or twice a week.

How do you feel about the prospect of starting a new sketchbook? 

I love it, maybe that's why I have so many on the go at once! I'm not one of those people who has fear of a blank sheet of paper, I love a fresh start.

When/where do you get your inspiration for your sketchbook pages and how would you describe your creative process? 

My main inspiration comes from the landscape. I'm also fascinated by colour. Working in a sketchbook is very liberating because no-one else is necessarily going to see it so for me it is a place where I can work very freely and experiment with colour and shape. A lot of my work is about memories of landscape rather than about re-creating a particular view and so the landscapes in my sketchbooks are often created out of my imagination. In some ways my painting sketchbooks are a place to 'limber up' before I start on my other work. I don't recreate work from my sketchbook into a finished painting but some of the colour or composition ideas will find their way in along the way. When I'm drawing I will sometimes draw from life. Even then the drawing is filtered through my own way of seeing and won't be a technically accurate depiction of the scene in front of me. I'm more interested in the way a place feels and the memory it evokes than trying to produce a photographic representation of it. I see the landscape in terms of line, shape and colour and the stories behind the buildings held in it.

 Have your sketchbooks evolved over the years and if so, how? 

Yes. When I look back at old sketchbooks they were mainly colour studies and very loose/abstract ideas. Now I tend to try to make each page more resolved as a drawing/painting. I put a lot of energy and time into them. I went through a period of feeling that this was time misspent if I had 'finished' pieces to get ready for a deadline but now I feel like it's such an important part of my practice that I allow myself that time. It all helps to make me a better painter. Just because no one sees it or it doesn't end up in a frame doesn't mean it's not worthwhile.

What is your favourite medium to work with? 

Acrylic paint is my favourite medium. It dries so quickly which suits my way of working and some of the colours produced are inspiration in themselves. I'm also a big fan of the humble HB pencil.

 Do you have a favourite sketchbook? 

I have a tiny moleskine cahier that I paint in. I painted the cover as well and it's gradually building up into a little work of art in it's own right. The paper is very thin, probably not meant for paint, and the build up of acrylic gives the pages a 'leathery' feeling. I paint on a small scale anyway and the double page 5 x 7 inches is the same as one of my smaller pieces, so the size is perfect for me.

If you had to pick one favourite page which would it be and why? 

See above. I like the colours that I've used in this painting and it's loose and a bit odd and scruffy. All the things I like best in a sketchbook painting.

Thanks so much Anne for taking part in my blog and being the last sketchbook peek of 2013. Come back next year for a new selection and maybe a revisit to some of my old favourites!!

If you want to see some of Anne's work in the flesh then go to the Bircham Gallery, Holt, Norfolk Christmas show where you can see a selection of her landscapes from November 30th - January 8th

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