Painting, Sewing, Work In Progress

Repeating Myself

Blackberry-Underlayer-2

Lately I’ve become obsessed with sewing, and textiles, and patterns, and this obsession has meant I’ve finally got around to trying something I’ve been meaning to have a go at for a long time: designing repeating patterns. I am constantly inspired by colours and textures and over the years many people have suggested my style would lend itself to creating fabric designs. I don’t quite know why it’s taken me so long to have a stab at it, because it’s so much fun!

I used the blackberries I painted last week, and followed Julia Rothman’s exquisitely simple and easy-to-follow tutorial on Design Sponge (though I worked digitally, rather than cutting up my painting with scissors!)

Blackberry

I began by setting up the repeat, then I tried adding an ink wash background (which I’d painted separately). I like the result, but somehow I find it looks…tableclothy? Is that just me?

Blackberry Repeat

Blackberry-Green

So I got to wondering about what it might be that makes a print look like something you’d dress your dinner table with rather than yourself, and kept experimenting. I tried altering the colour of the background but it didn’t especially help. I started to see some improvement when I added more layers of brambles below the surface. The addition of depth, I think, must be part of the answer to my question.

Blackberry-Underlayer-1 Blackberry-Underlayer-2

Hours later, I’m still siting here twiddling with layers and colours, not to mention imagining one hundred more designs I might try. I’ve heard several designers mention that this process is addictive, and I begin to see what they mean. I definitely want to try more, play more, learn more.

And eventually I will bite the bullet and order a swatch from Spoonflower…

Thoughts

Balance

autumn woods

It’s a crisp and bright autumn morning. I have a steaming cup of ginger and lemon in my hand, and an ever-more-contented little dog curled up at my feet. I am wondering what to write.

I actually have a collection of half-written blog posts I could choose from: about the medieval dress I made, about what’s on my drawing table, or in my knitting bag, or in my brain. But like these creative projects, blog posts also sit unfinished a lot longer than they used to in these days of learning about balance.

blackberries

As always, the right blog to post is the honest one. Those are always more juicy to write and, I suspect, more satisfying to read. I am challenged at the moment to accept the limitations of a 24 hour day, during which I also want to eat, sleep, rest and look after my family. This is new. I have never, ever prioritised these things, anything, above work. I have always treated myself, my creativity, as a machine, cracking the whip to get things done without regard for sanity or health.

Now I am choosing to do things differently, but it’s uncomfortable. It doesn’t quite flow yet. The going does not feel smooth because this is territory I don’t know. I am used to finishing things. I am used to cycles of euphoric exertion followed by a crash and burn. I have spent the last eight years in an aggrandised version of that, from which I’m still emerging. Emerging with the question: can I do things differently?

What would it be like to have a working pattern that is sustainable? Is it possible? How do I explore and honour creativity as a gift, not an obligation? Can I use it in a way that nurtures rather than exploits my body, my mind and my family?

When people ask what I’m working on, these questions are my answer.

Drawing

Self Portraiting

You probably haven’t noticed because, like most things I do these days, it is happening verrrrrrrrrrrrrry slowly, but I am in the process of updating my website. I realised that the most recent photo of myself on this site is from 2013, and the self-portrait I used as an avatar on most platforms was older still. I no longer look quite the same (!) and nor does my work. It’s time for a change.

self portrait 2015 progress

I reflected back on some older self-portraits when thinking about ideas. I like them to show not only what I look like, but be created in my favourite medium of the time. This one, from 2009, was painted in gouache and the collage elements added digitally. I really liked the postage stamp composition, and the presence of a cup of tea (true to life), so I decided to bring these into the new portrait (don’t you think I look a bit miserable though?).self portrait 2009

The portrait I’d been using most recently reflected the style of Lighter Than My Shadow, drawn in Micron pen with shading and texture added digitally. I suppose one could argue that Lighter Than My Shadow is itself one long self-portrait, and this one certainly looks like the ‘me’ at the end of the book. It includes glasses, but my hair has grown several inches since then!

self portrait 2013

More importantly, after drawing 500+ pages in this style I’m kind of sick of working this way and it hasn’t been part of my drawing practice for quite a while now. I’ve been playing with lots of different media recently, especially scratch board. So that’s what I chose for the new portrait.

Finally, of course, the new portrait needed to include the newest member of the family, whose presence is as important – if not more so! – than the perpetual cup of tea.

self portrait 2015

 

 

Painting, Thoughts, Typography

Recovery is…?

Last week it was Eating Disorders Awareness Week, and I was thinking about recovery and what a misunderstood process it can be. My own recovery began almost 14 years ago, at which point I thought it was only about weight restoration (ha!). At various points in the years since, I’ve considered my time in recovery to be over, and while in some ways that’s true, in other ways it really, really isn’t. So I got to thinking about how I’d define recovery now, 14 years into the process, and put some of my thoughts down on paper. It’s worth saying that this is a very personal piece of work which you may or may not find fits with your experience – and I’d be interested to hear thoughts on that. Heck, in another 14 years I’ll probably have a totally new perspective again and laugh at this. But for now, in this moment at least, this is what recovery means to me…

Recovery Is

 

Painting

So I Started A Dog Blog…

This is something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time. I love the motivation of having a regular (ish…) drawing project, but it has to be something that’s simple. At the same time, it has to be something that will always feel appealing and fun to do. When I first started blogging and sharing my work online, I was an enthusiastic contributor to Gemma Correll‘s Flickr group “What I Wore Today…in Drawings” for many months. It fell by the wayside when I started work on my book, but I’ve missed creating and sharing something regularly, just for fun.  In case you didn’t know, I am completely obsessed with dogs and there is never a shortage of them to meet where I live. And so I’ve set out to draw them!

You can meet them at www.dogsimettoday.com

As an aside, Tumblr is a new and foreign world for me. I’m still finding my way around. Please be kind while I figure it out!