I’m chuffed to say I managed to keep up with the Folk Tale Week and produced seven illustrations for the prompts - forest, magic, witch, ghost, insect, mirror and animal. After a busy time working on my day job, it’s really helped me to get back in touch with my creativity and love of drawing. Seeing all the pictures on the hashtag has been so inspiring. Time to get back to picture book three!
I had a little time to join in with #MarchMeetTheMaker on Instagram today. The idea of the challenge is that you post one photo a day to introduce yourself to the creative community. It's a great way to connect with people and to get inspired by fellow makers.
There's a different prompt every day, today's was 'Tools & materials'. Although I use Photoshop & a Wacom pad to draw digitally, all of my ideas start with pencil sketching. I often use watercolour and ink when I want to free up my creativity & to relax. I should have also included coffee in this picture as I also consider that a vital tool : )
I've been thinking about tenacity a lot lately. I absolutely love being creative and I love dedicating myself to my projects and seeing them through. But sometimes, especially when I'm tired or when I'm faced with obstacles, it can be tough to keep going. And because I have a job as a freelance event manager to balance, like a lot of people, I only have limited time to create. So when I do have time, I find myself determined to fill every free moment with drawing and writing. I become obsessed with achieving something creative before I'm back doing my day job... and I completely forget to rest.
So I'm writing this list for me... and for you, as I realise that we all need to look after ourselves and to feel supported. And I also realise I would like to feel as tenacious as I do now in ten years time. And twenty years time. And when drinking gin for lunch when I'm 95, still drawing and still publishing books.
1. Take a break
First things first, you don't have to work all the time. Rest is so important. Those moments of quiet are the moments when your mind processes and restores. Therefore often the time when you come up with some of your best ideas. Also if you work continually, you can get so close to a project that you can't see it any more. Stepping away and taking a break allows you to see things with fresh eyes and this can make what you're creating even better.
2. Achieve small things often
Set small goals rather than just seeing the end goal and you'll feel you're achieving more. Think of all of those little achievements as treats just for you. Be kind to yourself. It takes many bricks to make a home.
Close your eyes and think about how your book will feel in your hands. Turn the pages in your mind. Study the pictures. Imagine looking with wonder at what you have created. Think about how it will feel when people tell you they have read your story. What will your life be like if you follow your dreams? Visualising your goal will make it real to you and will make it feel more achievable.
Like a lot of creatives, I often find myself with lots of different ideas at the same time and find it hard to choose between them. An old friend taught me the importance of focusing on one idea at a time and this has helped me to publish my two picture books. Write down all of your ideas and think about which one you are most drawn to. Which one speaks to you most? Which one are you most curious about? Most passionate about? Which one won't leave you alone? And then get started.
5. Make your environment lovely
It's lovely being able to draw or write all day but it also often involves sitting still in one spot for hours on end. So make sure you're comfortable and that you love the space you're in. If you can, create a space at home that is dedicated to creating. I have a desk and chair in the corner of my lounge with artwork that inspires me washi-taped to the walls. I also often have fresh flowers on my desk and drink tea out of a pretty cup that I bought specifically for when I'm working. My chair is comfortable with a pretty cushion and I often work with a hot water bottle on my back. Depending on what I'm doing, I might work in silence or I'll have my Roberts radio tuned to BBC 6 Music to keep me company. Or if I'm drawing I'll set my iPad up so I can listen to podcasts or have Netflix treats such as the Gilmore Girls or Friends on a loop. Make snacks to nibble on and pop out for some fresh air at least once a day. A comfortable environment will make working a treat and will encourage you to keep going.
One of the very best things to have come from publishing An Amazing Alphabet of Cake is the messages I've received telling me about little ones enjoying it. I was absolutely bowled over recently when a lovely friend of mine told me that her little girl had been coming home from school every day and drawing pictures from the book. She had been determined to draw every page and my friend presented me with a collection of pages, tied together with golden ribbon, that her daughter had asked her to show me. Well, what can I say? I was so touched that my drawings had inspired her to create something so wonderful. She had picked up on all the detail and even drawn herself into the pictures. Wow. What an amazing piece of work. THIS is why I create : )
I've been taking a little break from illustration over Christmas and although I've been sketching a bit with pencil and paper, I haven't used my computer to draw at all. It's been really nice to take the pressure off after working so hard to complete An Amazing Alphabet of Cake. Today I took myself off to the V & A Museum in London to seek out a little inspiration for the New Year. I took my sketchbook, a Blackwing pencil (my favourite) and my camera and took my time, absorbing little details in each of the galleries. I was planning to spend the day looking at classical art and sculpture but discovered a lot more illustration than I expected. I was particularly enamoured with an amazing cabinet that was made in western India in the late 17th century, which was covered in quirky illustrated characters. A real gem (shown top left and bottom right below).
I was talking to my sister today about how my love of illustration seems to have almost come from nowhere. I started drawing about three years ago to get through a tough time and it's stayed with me as something I use almost as a meditation...Read More
It made me quite emotional today to learn that Michael Bond has passed away at the age of 91. His creation, the wonderful haphazard Paddington is one of my first and fondest childhood memories...Read More
I can't quite believe I only discovered my love of drawing about three years ago. I remember around that time noticing a comic day challenge hashtag on Twitter which led me to Frannerd... I started watching Fran's vlogs and it sounds strange to think of it now but until that moment I knew I loved doodling but I hadn't really thought about what illustration could be...Read More
I enjoyed a really nice browse around the Renegade Craft Fair in London yesterday. As I'm busy planning my first few craft fairs I wanted to do a bit of research about how to set up a stall and also to meet some of the makers and to buy a few treats!
I picked up some really useful tips about how to display greetings cards, how to add a bit of sparkle to your display and ensuring there is a bit of height to things so that you can easily catch the eye of prospective buyers as they walk by. There were some absolutely lovely stalls that looked really professional and inviting. I chatted to several creatives about their products and about how nerve-wracking it is doing fairs for the first time. Every one advised me that all their fellow makers are lovely and that half the fun is chatting to people who are in the same situation as you. It feels like a really lovely community to be a part of.
Here's a little glimpse at a couple of the treats I bought! Links to the makers websites below.