This month has been all about nourishing my inner child and letting her play. It wasn’t intentional, it just happened to be what flowed out into my sketchbook when I sat down to draw. So many childhood memories flooded out and then having a go at drawing strange things from my mind in a style that I had always wanted to do since I was a little girl in school drawing aliens in the margins of my books.

Childhood songs became earworms when I started to draw these eyes…

20170213 - eye eye eye!

An attempt at comic style drawing led to this little story about my dog and reminded me of the Asterisk books I used to pore over.

20170207 - fergus the long doggo
My gender-confused rabbit from when I was about five featured when I needed to find something to draw for the prompt “memory” for the Sketchbook Skool challenge.

201702123 - Thumper!
And right towards the end of the month my inner child was fairly dancing about with glee as I had the privilege of taking a week’s worth of tuition under master illustrator Mattias Adolfsson in the Sketchbook Skool course I am enrolled in. Mattias’ quirky drawings are a more polished version of the Richard Scarry illustrations I grew up with  and always wanted to emulate.  This style of drawing is not something I have attempted before, so these two drawings were a challenge and a delight to do. It was like cracking open a new packet of pencils and getting lost in the fabulous creations that burst out onto the page. I was surprised and pleased with this first drawing in particular.

201702121 - first day of school

This next  drawing didn’t quite turn out how I saw it in my head, but nonetheless I had a lot of fun daydreaming the concept and attempting to get it out onto the page. I think I shall have to try it again some time 🙂 The idea for this one must be credited to my friend who has a vast disdain for sports and a clever way with manipulating words that lends itself well to this kind of silliness.

201702126 - Superb Owl Sunday

Letting my inner child out to play so much has left me feeling happy and content even in the midst of busy work weeks and not feeling well. The more she plays the more she creates. There’s a lot to be said for drawing and painting as therapy!

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I finished a sketchbook at the end of last year, and I had a play at recording a flip through it with my old digital camera (hence the poor quality) … i think I’ll try recording it on my phone next time! Tell me what you think!

 

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It was a gorgeous Summer morning to be out sketching! The past two days have been blisteringly hot and windy, so today’s milder temperature was a welcome change. I found a nice shady spot and got myself setup. I am finding that the steps I learned in Liz Steel’s Buildings course are becoming more automatic as I practice them more, and drawing buildings is far less stressful than it used to be.

Setup under a tree with he Old Parliament House tennis courts to my right

I used India ink to lay in the shadows before adding watercolour over the top for this one. The whole drawing took me about an hour an a half.

20170212 - NAA

I had a few moments before meeting up with the group for the group photo and sketchbook sharing session, so I had a go at a couple of quick gesture drawings of my fellow urban sketchers while I waited.

20170212 - NAA people
Next month’s meetup is at a car show…I am super excited!!!!

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This week has been a very playful one in my sketchbook. Perhaps because I have had a busy week at work, I’m not sure, but the sketchbook has been filled with fun things 🙂 I am not complaining! Anything that brightens my day is a good thing!

20170201 - hilarious

It was a big week for drawing critters … click on the collage to see the the full scans of these guys in my sketchbook album.

At the start of the year I bought myself a bottle of black de Atramentis ink after reading a review on Liz Steele’s blog (this post). I had been jumping between the Noodler’s Black ink in my Lamy Safari fountain pen (the pink one below) and the disposable Uniball Eye for the under drawings with watercolour in my sketchbooks. Both are waterproof once dry, but they both take an awfully long time to dry and more often than not I would smudge a line when I rested my hand in a little puddle of ink, or smear something when I added watercolour before it was completely dry. Also, the Noodler’s black wasn’t as dense as I would like, but the Uniball was nice and dark. The de Atramentis ink has been a wonderful change. It dries very quickly and gives a wonderfully lush, dense black line. It flows well and feels great in the pen. I think I am pretty well sold! I cannot wait to add some of the other colours to my inky stable! I’ll still need to use the Uniball for cold press paper, since the fountain pen nib doesn’t cope as well with the texture, but the de Atramentis inks will be my go-to for daily drawing fun!

February is looking like a continuation of the fun. I plan to keep going with the Sketchbook Skool daily drawing challenge, but I have also signed up for another class to keep developing my skills and perhaps learn some new techniques. So keen!

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20170127 - imagined lifehomework

Phew! January has been a challenge! If you remember my post from a couple of weeks ago (here), I said that part of nourishing myself was to curate what I let into my head. This has been an issue this month in two ways. Firstly, the US inauguration and the aftermath has tested my willpower to stay away from social media to the limits, and dragged up a great deal of emotional baggage to deal with in the process. It is difficult to ignore something as globally destructive as the new president and his administration, I want to disengage completely, but it is everywhere and has such broad ranging effects that I need to be aware. People are passionate on both sides of the fence, but do not engage has become my new mantra. It’s just more peaceful that way. No-one ever won a battle on Facebook or Twitter. I am nourishing myself by choosing my battles and limiting exposure where I can.

The other challenge to nourishing my brain space came when I realised that I had failed to take into account my propensity for overthinking. Everything. ALL THE TIME. Whilst I may have worked hard to limit the toxic material going in, I forgot that there was stuff already in there that I would think about, and obsess about, and have to deal with. The realisation that I could take some control over it all came when I read the following sentence on Kelly Exeter’s site:

…you don’t HAVE to engage with EVERY thought that enters your head.

This is a good thing…because I get a LOT of them. Choosing which ones to engage with will be the trick. 🙂 Baby steps required!

January has been nourishing in many small ways too though. New habits have been formed for nourishing my body in sustainable ways. Food, gym, and sleep habits are well on the way.

Art, as always, is my soothing place, but it is also a place of play and excitement and as I practise daily, I get a little better each time. I particularly liked the way the drawing above turned out. It shows my crazy thoughts and imagination, and it reminds me of the road ahead and to keep taking steps to get where I want to be. Nourishing my creative practice is probably the easiest of all my goals for the year. 🙂

Onward and upward as we roll on into February!

How are you going with your goals for the year? On track? Any major detours?

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Well…I didn’t start the year with an intention to draw every day, it just kind of happened. It may or may not continue…we’ll see. My intent was to take some online courses and to draw a lot, so I guess it kind of fits.

At the beginning of the month I started an online course called “A Drawing a Day” through the Sketchbook Skool. At the same time the Sketchbook Skool started a year-long challenge of doing a drawing every day and provided prompts for the community to follow, so I decided to do both. Start the year as you really didn’t mean to continue …. :S hmmmm that’s not quite how the saying goes. Anyway, I haven’t created fabulous masterpieces everyday, but I have put drawing implement to paper every day…and little by little I have learned some things along the way.

I have to say I am a little disappointed with the actual course, which Is probably my fault for not reading the box properly. I had hoped that it would be a course that provided guidance about how to build a creative practice of creating daily, but has turned out to be an exploration of different drawing techniques. The teacher is lovely and a very good artist…it’s just not what I was expecting. I have struggled with the homework, but still have learned bits and pieces along the way. (I will be taking another course with the Skool next month, so I’m not writing them off)

There is a week to go yet, but my favourite piece of homework thus far was in the first week:

20170103 - fruity

Other homework has included mark making and using odd colours to draw things…which really doesn’t float my boat in an artistic sense, but was useful in seeing how off-kilter colour choices can make a piece feel different. Here are some examples:
20170115 - a day at the park

No lines…just marks.

20170118 - homework

Disparate colours and moody colours.

I have gained far more satisfaction, if you will, from the general drawing a day challenge. I love starting with a word and finding an odd personal twist to interpreting it on my page. Here are a couple of favourites.
20170112 - unruly hair

Prompt: hair

20170106 - final frontierPrompt: portrait

20170119 - gnomesPrompt: cover

And my lovely Insta followers have overwhelmingly liked my drawing of Francis the bearded dragon:

20170114 - Francis

Prompt: pet
I hope to keep drawing daily, but won’t make any promises, because as sure as I do, life will smack me across the head and make sure I cannot. 😀

You can see all of my sketchbook pics for the year so far HERE.

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I realised a long time ago that having a long list of goals and resolutions for a particular year, with arbitrary timelines, was a good way to manufacture angst for no real reason, and make myself stressed.

Do I want to get things done in life? Yes of course. Do I have goals? For sure! What I don’t have are deadlines, because life has a way of having other ideas about what occurs in my day to day happenings. Why create artificial stress for myself? What I’d rather have is action, and for me to do that in a way that is adaptable, flexible, holistic and uplifting, I decided to choose a word or theme for each year. In years gone by I have had STRONG and CONFIDENCE as themes. I lost my way for a bit in the aftermath of my divorce and didn’t have a word or theme as such; I was too busy surviving and licking my wounds. Reacting. Consolidating.

This year I am ready to have an intentional year. My theme for 2017 is Nourish.

What does nourish mean? The dictionary says:

It has the feel of strengthening – both mentally and physically. It also speaks to me of caring, compassion and nurturing. It feels like healing.

I want to build healthy, sustainable, life-long habits to look after myself, and make space to allow others to look after me if I need it or if they want to. It appears to be an awfully long list, but comprises the little parts that make up my life. All of the parts that will be nourished in tiny little incremental ways each day. Nourishment needs to be balanced, and it must be a gentle, loose approach or I will dig my heels in and buck against even my own expectations. Will I get it right all the time? No, but that’s ok too. Being kind to myself is part of nourishment too. If I can build the habits and the correct thinking, these things will roll on over the course of years.

So…what areas can benefit from a little nourishment this year, what will it look like?

  • Movement – I need to move more in a general sense. I have a sedentary job and then like to come home and create art, so I’m on my butt a lot. I also want to continue to develop a consistent training regime to get strong.
  • Nutrition – choose food that does me good and supports health as I get older without getting all dogmatic and extreme about it, because that will suck my soul dry and ultimately not be sustainable.
  • Brain food – get rid of ‘junk food’ such as mindless television and most social media, 99% of news sites and broadcasts, advertising, reality tv, toxic people, avoid click-bait. I want to practice more critical thinking. I have to ask myself…Is this fake news? Is this sensationalism? Is this ideological propaganda? Instead I want to feed my brain with proper nutrition; choose reliable sources of information from a wide variety of viewpoints so that I am not in an echo chamber. I want to keep learning. Replace the ugliness with beauty, practice gratitude to counteract the whingers and passive aggressive rants, and surround myself with the right people.
  • Sleep – work at improving the quality of my sleep.
  • Self-care  – facials, rest, bubble baths and massages (mind you…all of the things on this list are self-care in one way or another, but these are the indulgences!).
  • Play time – encourage my inner child to come out more often. Life is too short not to have fun and to explore and have a sense of wonder about everything.
  • Down time versus social time balance – social interaction exhausts me (including work), so I need to make sure I balance that with appropriate periods of down time to recharge my batteries.
  • Relationships – pour time into the ones that matter and release, with kindness, the ones that are toxic and emotionally draining. I want to spend time with the ones that want to gaze at the stars and dive deep into conversations about life and the universe – the ones that can build me up to be a better person.
  • Art and Writing – eventually I would love to be writing and creating art full-time, in the short term I will continue to give them time and courses to let them grow and develop. I will explore options and perhaps arrive at my own recognisable style.
  • Soul food – get out in nature more, travel, go to galleries, surround myself with beauty …and much of this will tie in with the brain food that I choose to indulge in.

If I am nourishing myself in these ways I believe it will flow through into my art and writing. Each of them are intertwined and interdependent and add up to a happy and content Michelle. And that’s who I want to be. Happy, relaxed, content, at peace. The old thing about artists needing to be in perpetual anguish, I think, is rubbish; an outdated stereotype. I can create from a happy place. The unending guilt and fear of a life lived under a controlling paradigm is gone. I am free to fly, and nourishing myself will help me grow in my feathers so that I can soar.

So as I wander barefoot into 2017, these are the things I will be asking myself

  • Does this feed my soul?
  • Does this feel good?
  • Does this feel nourishing?
  • What would “nourish” look/feel like in this situation?

What works for you? Do you plan tightly or loosely? Do you have a word?

Phew it was hot today! The predicted top was 35 deg C and overcast, but didn’t quite get there while we were out. Not entirely pleasant weather for sketching, but the breeze was pleasant and I managed to find a shady spot to get set up for today’s Canberra Urban Sketchers meet up at Mount Stromlo Observatory. There are lots of interesting buildings to draw at the facility, but I chose the ruins of the Yale Columbia Telescope building. I sat outside this burned out building for the first hour and a half and then moved inside to capture the detail of the remnants of the telescope pedestal that survived. The telescope and dome in this building were destroyed 14 years ago in the 2003 Canberra bushfires, and in recent years the whole site has been redeveloped for tourism and to allow the ANU to continue their research work. THIS is what the building looked like immediately after the fires went through (and in all it’s glory before the fires), the photo below shows what it looks like now. I have wanted to draw this building for a long time, so I was very excited for today’s opportunity.

inside-building

I wanted to take a different approach to my sketch this time so that I could slow down and focus on the line work without having to rush to draw the picture and then paint it. I am not a fast worker by any means. So I prepared a spread in my sketchbook earlier in the week. I splashed a couple of washes around and added some narrative to the page.

prepared-spread

I played around with a stencil to get some interesting texture as well. It came up rather blotchy where the watercolour leeched in under the plastic of the stencil, but the overall effect works for me.

stencil-detail

I have returned to adding more “story” to my sketchbooks to help capture some of the information that is not immediately apparent in the sketches. And besides, my memories is going the way of the dinosaurs at present!

Here are my two completed pages followed by a photo of the spread.
20170108 - mt stromlo part 1

(More about the Magellan telescope HERE)

I used my usual Uni-ball eye pen, a fine-liner and white gel pen for the line work and then added shadow and tone with a water brush filled with diluted India ink. I am pleased with the effect of the wash in the background…I think it gives a little bit of an apocalyptic feel to it, which is apt.
20170108 - mt stromlo part 2

(Difficult to get a good clean scan in this particular sketchbook…I won’t be buying it again, even though I love the paper.)

file_000

Our next outing is in a couple of weeks to check out the Lunar New Year celebrations in town. Hoping for lots of colour and maybe a dragon!

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thank you

December 30, 2016 — Leave a comment

Where has 2016 gone? It seems that this year has flown by in a blur!

It’s that time in between Christmas and New Year where I have a week off work and I take time to relax and get ready for the year ahead. Before I charge into the new year though, I want to pause and say thank you to you, my readers and followers here and on Facebook and Instagram, for your support this year.

201611228 - thank you

Thank you for:

  • Commissioning fun paintings that stretched me and helped me grow as an artist (bumblebee, hedgehog and duckling);
  • Buying goodies from my shop;
  • Interacting and chatting and sharing tips and tricks with me on social media; and
  • Supporting and encouraging my exploration of art and creativity.

I have drawn and painted so much more this year than in any previous year that I really feel as though I am beginning to find my way as an artist. I have played with all manner of different styles and materials, joined my local Urban Sketchers group , taken part in an EveryDay in May drawing challenge [here and here], created gifts that I hope have brought smiles to faces on special occasions, and taken classes to help hone my craft as I try to find a style that is peculiarly my own. Thank you for coming along for the ride!

Click HERE to take a look at my sketchbooks for the whole year. I didn’t quite crack 200 drawings…but there’s a couple of days left yet, I think I might just squeak in a couple more drawings! It’s interesting to see the progression in certain types of drawings (buildings in particular) and the different styles I experimented with. I can easily see which drawings were done on location and which were completed in the studio and which ones I rushed through. I think my favourite drawing for the year is this ladybug or perhaps this dandelion. Do you have a favourite?

In 2017 I am looking forward to splashing the paint around again and working at improving my drawing skills, thinking about what new products I can add to the store, but also writing more again. Many moons ago I used to have a blog that focussed on my life and what was happening at the time, and I miss the writing aspect of it. I won’t be re-opening that blog, but I will be writing and posting here more regularly; sharing more about what I am learning, adventures that I take, what inspires me and hopefully more. Please pop in a bookmark or subscribe so that you don’t miss any updates! I would love to hear about your adventures in art and creativity. Please tell me what you think about my posts, interact, share with your friends, and tell your stories too.

What do you like to do in the time off between Christmas and New Year? Do you get time off? Do you take a family holiday? Are you ready for next year? I’m not sure I am, but it’s coming ready or not!

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messy desk

December 12, 2016 — Leave a comment

My art desk is currently piled with the detritus of my day to day life. It is a flat surface and thus collects the bits and pieces that need somewhere to reside for a short time before moving on, like the box filled with goodies for a friend that I really need to finish filling and tape it up to put in the post. It also has the drawing bag I took to the concert I went to last weekend that I haven’t yet unpacked. There are other bits and pieces there….scissors and tape left over from the christmas gift wrapping event….brushes lying around drying before I can put them back in their containers…balls of wool that I wound off the skein over the weekend for a project to keep my hands busy (like I need anything else!)

img_3096

My sacred creative space is piled with junk. I am prevented from creating at my desk because there is crap all over it. Well…perhaps that’s a bit harsh; it’s not exactly crap. It’s just stuff that shouldn’t be there. But it is there nonetheless, and it is blocking my creativity. It needs to go.

Art is one of the things that makes me happy and feel satisfied with life and helps me process the not so wonderful things in life too … so why is it the one thing that gets covered – literally and figuratively – with other stuff? It consistently gets pushed to the bottom of the list in favour of sometimes legitimate tasks, but many times, mindless procrastination and time-wasting on things like Facebook and inane websites about things that don’t matter? I replace something that makes me feel good with meaningless time-wasting that more often than not leaves me feeling dissatisfied and cranky. It doesn’t make a great deal of sense does it? Something to consider for the new year. I have long since given up making new years resolutions, but I think it’s about time I found a word to guide my year ahead and figure out which direction I want to steer this life of mine (yes, it’s the time of year for the existential crisis to occur). To remove the junk that’s blocking my creativity and to start paddling a bit … the boat has been drifting long enough.

I haven’t posted much here of late, Instagram and the RS Facebook page is where I post more regularly, and I had considered closing the blog down altogether, but I am feeling the need to write again…so perhaps this will remain! Stay tuned. Meantime, while I get my head together….

  • Follow me on Instagram to see regular art updates and the things that inspire me (this is where you will be notified of sales in my store.)
  • Follow my Facebook page for a more interactive experience as well as giveaways and competitions in the new year
  • Take a look at my Flickr account if you would like to take a look through my sketchbooks and art back through the years

Finally before I toddle off and clean my desk…I went to see Keith Urban on Saturday night! There was plenty of waiting around to get in, so I sketched while I waited. Here’s the fruit of my scribbling. I had hoped to sketch during the gig, but there was a problem … you cannot dance and draw at the same time :O I had a blast! Such a great night out. (ok… enough procrastinating.. going now!)

img_3097

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