Monday, 20 October 2014

Onwards and Upwards

Well after the little blip at the beginning of the month things have taken a turn for the better. The therapy exercises of writing all my thoughts down in the last blog and throwing paint about sorted me right out and I have resumed my illustrating. I have thrown myself into a mix of things and am currently working on black and white portfolio studies for my new website purely for my illustration work and a bit of digital work with my new toy (Wacom tablet and pen).

Last Monday was the start of a great week. Mr postie delivered two signed copies of books that I had won off twitter. The first being the The Fearsome Beastie by Giles Paley-Phillips which I read to my 7 year old daughter Felicity aka Flic last night. Thumbs up from both of us and Flic seems to have kidnapped the book now, reading it over and over again. The next book is Els Oot and the Lost City by the lovely Nelson Suit from Inkspokes which I will read to the kids this week. On top of this I have had a couple more exciting things pop up….

Inkspokes Virtual Artist in Residence

The first being Inkspokes virtual Artist in Resident of the month. Inkspokes is an online literary magazine that publishes articles on indie book trends, book reviews of independently published and small press works and author interviews. They also showcase some of the incredible work being produced by book illustrators, especially those working independently, and provide resources for indie authors and publishers to assist them in their writing, book craft and the publishing of their works.

Each week I will post a few samples on what I have been working on that week along with a little blurb and my blog link. So this week I will be posting a few of the black and white studies I have been working on for #inktober. I am killing 2 birds with one stone with this as I have been wanting to put together a little sample of black & white work for a while now so it was like fate that #inktober popped up. For those that don't know what Inktober is about, it is an event anyone can participate in during October, all you do is create a piece of artwork purely in ink and then when you post it on any of your social media sites include the hashtag #inktober I strongly recommend searching for this and checking out some of the work displayed, there is some amazing ink work out there. I have to say I am thoroughly enjoying playing about with this medium. These are my first three for the new website. I am going to do a few more based on the Hedgerow gang with a Halloween theme.

I am so pleased to be part of this new feature for Inkspokes. Please do take a look at their website and follow them on Twitter

KLAs featured artist of the month

The second exciting bit of news is that I am the joint artist in the spotlight with the talented illustrator Calum Jones on the Kid Literature Authors website. The kidliterature group is a fantastic community set up for all fans of children's literacy. Whether you are an author, illustrator or avid reader this community is a must to be part of. They are extremely supportive towards all authors and illustrators and I was honored to be one of the first artists to be in the spotlight. I will be helping them find talented peeps for the artist spotlight each month and I'm really looking forward to helping out in this monthly feature. If you are an author or illustrator I strongly recommend you joining this community, they have a Facebook page that gets updated regularly with useful tips and inspiration to promote your published books and advice on how to get your work noticed. Or you can follow them on Twitter

KLA Artist Spotlight

So what am I going to do for the rest of the month? The main priority is getting my new website launched. I am currently working on the banner which I am digitally colouring up, it’s taking forever!!! But I have got to admit…. I am loving the effect! I am excited to see what everyone thinks of my attempt, especially the digital pros I know out there. So the big question…….am I now eating my words and ready to throw away the brushes?? Hmmmmm that might well have to be covered in the next blog he he

Monday, 6 October 2014

With The Highs Come The Lows

Well the start of the month hasn't been great. I am usually upbeat about things and even though I have little blips now and again overall I am quite positive about how things are progressing. However I do have the odd spell where I get so frustrated with all of this, everything winds me up and it gets to the point it all bubbles to the surface and I have to vent out. It didn't help that I was struck down with the cold from hell at the beginning of the month so was feeling very sorry for myself anyway. A mix of things got to me and I had one of my spells of wanting time out and throwing something onto a canvas.
 So why do I get like this? Ready for the rant he he……. Well I used to get frustrated about how I don’t have as much time as I would like to dedicate to my artwork and how I am stuck in a rut with the day job. However I have learned to accept that now, and as much as it would be nice to have more time I am grateful for having a secure steady income and I wouldn't change not having the kids about for the world. So that frustration has eased off now but it used to niggle at me.

The latest cause of my grey spell is the paranoia you get from these social media sites. It absolutely does my head in! I get so tired of constantly doubting myself  with either a) how I come across to others or b) how good my work is. I was never part of the cool gang at school, I was more part of that little group of misfits, each with their own unique quirky way. I feel  a bit like I have gone back to school on some sites, not quite fitting in but meeting some wonderful people along the way. I can’t stress enough how grateful I am for the support I do have but I really do get left scratching my head a lot with other incidents. I have to learn to accept that not everyone will get you and to really not dwell on any negative vibes that come my way. I need to stop focusing on the “what’s wrong with me” and start focusing on my work and the people that really matter.
Then there’s the constant rejections you get, anyone who has tried approaching publishers /agents will vouch for this. It can be utterly soul destroying let alone so intimidating. The talent out there is absolutely ridiculous so you are constantly unsure whether you are good enough. It’s one thing having self belief but when all you get is rejection letter after rejection letter it can really get to you. It takes a lot of hard work contacting them, you have to be so careful with how you word your covering  letter. You have to try and sell yourself, appear a little different to the norm but not in a bad way, giving enough info to intrigue them but yet not boring them to death. Just writing the cover letter itself takes a lot of planning and tweeking and each publisher / agent has to have a bespoke one. Then you have to really research who you approach, making sure that they are perfect for you, sifting through all their published titles, the current illustrators they work with etc. It is not an easy I task I assure you! so you do all this, follow their strict guidelines, and for what….. a brief thanks but no thanks. No advice on why you are rejected just a “we really enjoyed reading / looking at your work but no, not suitable” or “our books are full”. I know they have hundreds of these letters to go through and can’t advise as to why you were not successful, but my god it’s depressing!! I have officially given up with the agent route for my book but I will be trying to contact them again for my illustration work later this year once my new site is up and running.

I was on a real downer with it all but chatting to an old school bud and some new ones really helped me and I decided to take a step back from social media for a  few days and do something just for me. This was the result. I did no prelim sketching with this as I didn't want it to be planned, I just wanted to get stuck in and get lost in something. I got my brushes out and dived straight in, not caring how it would turn out or if anything wasn't placed correctly, my theory was just add more paint if it looked iffy and if it was really terrible, who cares! I had this image floating about for a while which I thought was beautiful and I don’t know… it just seemed fitting. I haven’t attempted one of these in 3 years so the initial blank board was somewhat intimidating , but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I can’t say I am  happy with her, it needs a lot of work but it was a good therapeutic exercise.
The last time I had a bad spell like this was the last time I painted anything of this size. This was the result… says it all eh lol I admit it’s not great , some of the faces are well dodge, but I do like the concept and it did the trick, haven’t felt that pent up with my work for 3 years. Hopefully the angel will keep me going now for a while. I thoroughly enjoyed doing this and really feel like a massive weight has been lifted. I know some people won’t get any of this and might even think I need therapy he he  but I am sure all the artists out there, professional or non professional will have felt like this at some point. Talking with other people gets me through it plus doing pieces like this. Art can be very therapeutic, you can forget this at times. Sometimes it’s good just to have  a break from the norm and just do something completely different with no planning whatsoever, just go for it and literally throw paint or your medium of choice to paper.

These two were also done at the beginning of my 5 year rebirth, I was very frustrated back then but that was mainly because I wasn't at the level I wanted to be and just didn't get where I was going with it all, hence the anger and feeling lost vibe with it. I sound like a right weirdo here lol, I am really quite sane… well sort of he he. I just thought it was important to show this side to what I do as it does unfortunately rear it’s ugly head now and again.
So I would like to end  this blog on “good riddance!” grey spell and “welcome back colour”!!