I spend a lot of my time in my day job as an event manager having to be very precise with logistics and planning. I find it very satisfying putting everything in order. But the other side of my personality is messy and free-flowing. Illustration and writing feeds this to a certain extent but drawing the picture book for example still needs an element of structure. This is why abstract painting is something I often come back to. I start with an empty page and watercolours, acrylics, washi tapes and pens and just see what comes. I'm a big fan of using words in art and at the moment I often find myself inspired by one word which I'll meditate on so it can become colours and patterns.
I really enjoyed this treat from the Hashtag Authentic podcast series presented by Sara Tasker. This week Sara interviews illustrator Helen Stephens who wrote and illustrated How To Hide A Lion amongst many other books. Helen has a lovely scribbly, warm style which has lots of energy and detail. She describes how she finds inspiration while drawing from life. I really agree with her about the almost meditative state you find yourself in while drawing and how this can open your mind to let ideas flood in.
Helen also describes how, while her early experience of traditional publishing taught her an awful lot, she found herself straying from her own style. She bravely took a year out to try to get back to her roots. It worked and she now manages to be totally true to herself while still being super successful.
Such an inspiring interview. I highly recommend listening to it even if you aren't an illustrator and are just trying to be true to your creative self. Click on the tweet below to go to Sara's site.
I finally have a record player back in my life after an absence of about 25 years and oh my goodness, it is so lovely. I dug out all my old 45s and sat on my lounge floor like I was fourteen again. The act of placing the record carefully on the turntable, the gentle clunk of the tone arm (who knew it was called that?) moving onto the record and the quality of the sound resonating from the speakers of my ancient Technics stereo was just wonderful.
The first record in the pile was this absolute classic. The second was Manchild by Neneh Cherry. My friends and I used to challenge each other to do the whole rap and I'm proud to say I still remember all the words. Just hoping my neighbours didn't hear me rapping.
I confess, I've posted this before but there really is only one song for today.
I first became aware of Jekka McVicar while I was working at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. For many years, while I looked after Alan Titchmarsh, he would stop to chat to her and we would admire her stand or garden. Jekka started by growing herbs for friends and soon they became so sought after that she found herself growing more and more. To the point where her family had to move to a house with some land so that the business could flourish. How wonderful to make a living from growing something that brings such happiness. Jekka has grown herbs for many top chefs, adding that little something extra but essential to finish their creations. She now creates herb gardens for school children and hospices amongst others and she also teaches to make sure that her immense knowledge is shared.
I listened to this interview while walking along the river in the sunshine. It's a lovely escapist listen.
As I've mentioned (several times!) before, Being Freelance is one of my favourite podcasts and this week was an extra special treat for me as the episode was with an illustrator I really admire, Emmeline Pidgen. I've been following Emmeline on Twitter and Instagram for a while and love her warm style. It's really interesting hearing how she works and also to hear more about her brilliant project What Emmeline Wore.
The start of an occasional series of handwritten quotes for my Quiet Life pages. A little wisdom from 30 Rock. So true.
I've posted about the power of nature before but this weekend we walked in the woods and I was reminded of the soothing loveliness of trees. Majestic, wonderful, wise. If you are feeling out of sorts, there is nothing more levelling than being in amongst the majesty of the woods.
"Oh the stars, they are ours. Just look up. Everybody needs a little hope."
The Take That Live Wonderland show beamed live into cinemas across the land on Friday night. It was a tumultuous day across the UK due to politics and we needed to escape. So we drank wine and danced and felt hopeful. I always say, if in doubt, create but also, if in doubt, hope.