Sunday, January 10, 2021

Happy new year and Lifebook 2021

 I have treated myself to the online art and wellbeing course Lifebook for this year. I have tried it befor in 2017 and 2018, and enjoyed being introduced to so many different artists/teachers and new approaches and techniques. I also remember being overwhelmed by so many lessons, usually 2 a week (plus other bonus material) there can be hours of video which I don't have enough time for. So I'm doing it my way, as much as I can manage on a smaller scale than they suggest - I'm doing mine in an A5 journal , not loose sheets to be bound at the end. Also I'm not taking part in the facebook group, I don't enjoy facebook (to put it mildly) and don't want to waste time there or be too overwhelmed or influenced by other people's work.

Here's my first piece for the year! A warm up, I followed the instructions fairly closely and enjoyed the layering, stencilling and markmaking. It includes my word of the year - renaissance- along with the dictionary meaning "cultural or artistic revival." That's what I'm really hoping for this year, after beibg so focused on the kids finishing school for the last couple of years, now it's my turn!!

The other week one lesson was called Goddess of Light, I didn't watch all the videos for this one but used it as inspiration, a jumping off point for this journal page which is still in progress. Both these lessons were with Tamara Laporte. (You can find out more about lifebook at her website or Instagram @willowing). I will skip week 2 for now as the week 3 lessons will be out on Tuesday.

Happy new year and best wishes to you, take care of yourselves especially those back in lockdown, hoping things improve as the year goes on and vaccines are rolled out.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Back from a looong break!

 It's been a very long time between posts, mainly because I stopped making art for a big chunk of the year...from May to October really. 

When the pandemic arrived and exhibitions and craft fairs stopped, there was little motivation to make work, and then I discovered that I liked the peace in my mind without that critical voice that always questions whether my art is any good, whether there is any point in doing this. 

So I enjoyed my time gardening, I got good at growing basil from seed! And I focused on my twins in their final year of school, driving them here and there, being around to talk to and make snacks!!

We're very lucky in Darwin, we've had very few cases of coronavirus, we had a brief, lockdown in April/May after that life gradually returned to fairly normal except for restrictions on travel. So the thing that got me started again art making was the xmas craft fair. I decided in October to take part, and then had 6 weeks of madly getting prepared! The craft fair was at the end of November, here's the paintings I took along.

Since then I've set aside some time on Sunday mornings to paint. I hope I can stick with it and enjoy it without getting into that critical headspace again. I've also treated myself to the online art course Lifebook 2021 to keep me playing and trying new things. If you're curious about lifebook there are some taster sessions which I think have been reopened to try for a week, go to visit to find out more.

Sending my best wishes to you, I'm sorry if you've had a hard year and I hope 2021 will be better.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

A strange time for a digital detox

Hello, I hope you're safe and well where ever you are. We are living through strange and unexpected times, and because everyone's experience is quite different I thought that there's value in writing down how it's been for me.

I want to acknowledge that I'm very lucky, I didn't lose my job. I live with my partner and 3 kids so I haven't been lonely! We are homebodies, so it wasn't a big change to stay mostly at home. In the NT we've had only 30 cases of coronavirus and no deaths (so far, who knows what will happen when the borders re-open).

But I've been worried about my mum who lives alone in England, and I wonder how long it will be until I can visit her. I've been worried for my twins who are in their final year of school, how much harder it's going to be for them to find a job at the end of the year.

I don't usually look at the news, but as the situation blew up through March and into April I started checking the news several times a day. As soon as I realised the May craft fair wouldn't go ahead I dropped all the things I was working on for that - stopped making art altogether for a while. I spent more time than ever on instagram and felt a bit jealous of people in lockdown who were producing beautiful artwork, baking, crafting, and more. And I felt overwhelmed by all the free online content that was suddenly on offer, I didn't have time for any of it.

By good luck I reread Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport in April, and decided to have a digital detox in May. No more looking at news apps, no instagram except for half an hour at the weekends. I checked my emails morning and evening and tried to keep off other than that - only going on to check specific things, how to get somewhere on google maps, how to deal with ants on the veggie plants, etc. I don't do facebook, pinterest, or twitter, so they weren't a problem.

Overall, I stuck to it pretty well and it made a huge difference to how much I could get done on my days off - more gardening, more baking and more art. The pictures in this blogpost are artworks I made in May.

In the last week I've been less strict and have been going on YouTube and listening to some podcasts. I think I get bored of the same stuff that goes round and round in my head, and sometimes I do need a distraction and to just chill out and watch an art or gardening video!

I noticed that spending time clicking about online makes my energy and motivation drop. If I get up in the morning and have my brekkie and then get on with something, whether it's gardening or getting the paints out, I'll get so much more done with my day than if I get up and go online. I think to myself I'll just go on instagram for 5 minutes, and an hour later I'm still there checking somebody's blog, or some course that I'm never going to do. And then I feel bad that I've wasted the best bit of the day, and everything goes downhill from there...

So even though it's June tomorrow I won't be going back to my old habits. I think restricting my time online is a way I can take care of myself through the stresses of the coming months.

I hope you're finding ways to be kind to yourself. Best wishes everyone and stay safe.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

New year, new little paintings!

I always find the end of the year a bit too hectic for my liking! In November I'm madly getting ready for the xmas craft fair, and once that's out of the way I have to think about xmas presents, putting the tree up, Kriskringles and xmas get togethers...this year I got the flu at the beginning of December and took weeks to really get over it, so xmas was pretty low key at my house (my kids are almost adults, so they didn't care as long as there was good food to eat!).

So thank goodness it's January, life goes at a slower pace now, and I can make time for some painting. I'm working on tiny 4x4 inch canvas boards, so far they are all of evening in the suburbs, based on the odd photos I take now and again - I go out to the washing line, or to water the garden at dusk, and notice the sky is doing something amazing, so I run inside to get my tablet and take a photo or 2. Most of the time the photos are not that great but they help me remember. I'm enjoying working with more reference material after previously working mostly from imagination/memory.

I hope your new year has got off to a good start. Thanks for dropping by :)

Thursday, November 7, 2019

I do like Atkinson Grimshaw!

Last year I did a blogpost - Little things that are making me happy- One of those things was an artwork-a-day desk calendar, I loved it so much I got another one this year, and this was the artwork for the day a week ago.

I love the little surprise each day when the new artwork is revealed, and this one made me say 'oh gorgeous'. When I looked more closely I found it was painted by John Atkinson Grimshaw (1836-1893), an artist I'd dismissed as a teenager. Grimshaw was from Leeds (like me), and there are several of his paintings in the Leeds Art Gallery. When I used to visit I'd walk quickly through that room in search of something more 'modern', wishing there was a Matisse or a Gauguin in the collection!!

Grimshaw was a Victorian realist, mostly painting urban scenes often at night or evening, big canvasses in oils of gas lit streets and misty waterfronts, they seemed very old fashioned to me.

This painting is watercolour and gouache on paper, which is different for a start, and it's a country scene not the city. But what grabs me is that wonderful sky and the bare winter tree on the right. It doesn't feel old fashioned to me, if anything it feels timeless, and it makes me want to go out with my paints and capture the sky at dusk and the shape of trees against the sky.

Apparently this painting is in the Leeds Art Gallery collection, I don't know whether it's on display, but hopefully next time I'm in England I'll get to see it in the flesh.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Sketching wet season skies

Hello blog friends..... Wow, it's a long time since I posted. I never meant that to happen, it makes it hard to jump back in. Why now? There's nothing special to write about, but I'll just write something and hopefully get back in the habit.

One of the good things that happened last wet season was sketching regularly at the beach... For years and years I've said I want to paint the wet season clouds, skies can be so dramatic at that time of year. About 10 years ago I bought myself a beautiful moleskine A4 sketchbook for this exact purpose. Needless to say it was too beautiful to use, and is still on my shelf it's plastic wrapper unopened!!

So what made it happen this year? One thing was the terrible weather - it was relentlessly hot and humid with little rain to cool things down. Usually I go to the beach to walk, but I realised I was getting home so drained I was worn out for the rest of the day. I thought I don't have to punish myself like this! But I still wanted to go to the beach so I took my sketchbook and a chair instead!

The other thing that helped was sorting out a small sketching kit that worked for me - an aquabrush (no need for a waterpot and extra brushes) a couple of watercolour pencils and a dried up watercolour palette - I squeezed out tube watercolours onto a small palette rather than taking a big watercolour set.

I went sketching a couple of times a week from Xmas to the end of March,  and made around 30 sketches. They are tiny 10x15cm in a little cheap sketchbook. Some are good and some are not so good, and that's ok because it was really about the process; about spending time looking, about playing with watercolours a medium I rarely use, about going back again and again for another try, and in the end achieving something I'd wanted to do for a long time.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

I'm still here!!! And new lino prints!!

I can't believe it's three months since I posted here, I didn't mean to leave it so long.

I haven't done any more of the life book lessons, but by the end of July, and the end of the index card a day challenge, I had some inspiration of my own, and started chiselling my first lino in over a year. I've done 4 new linos so far and started making them into cards. They are all inspired by plants in my garden, ferns and flowers. I've played around with some multicolour reduction prints, as well as hand colouring black and white prints. It was so exciting to peel back that first print, it felt like coming home. I've added a couple of my new cards to my Etsy shop, and I'm hoping to do an Xmas craft fair this year!

I'm trying to keep the ball rolling by making small actions each day - they might seem tiny or pointless but they gradually add up. For example, I got started by going hunting for a packet of coloured card I'd bought over a year ago. The next day I worked out what size I wanted the cards to be and cut up a few sheets, the next day I cut up a few more sheets. It was a few days before I sat down and drew a design onto a piece of lino.

I feel like the universe is giving me a helping hand too. In June I was made permanent part-time at work, so my hours are much more predictable than when I was casual, it makes it much easier to schedule in time for art making.

I feel like there's much more to say, but I'd better post this before another month goes past. I am posting some of my art and garden photos on Instagram @fernyhoughkate, but I don't want to stop blogging... hopefully it won't be three months til the next post!!