It has been a couple of weeks since last I did a blog, so here is what I have been up to - Not a whole lot!
Watercolour has again touched my palette and I am busy with a series of mousy characters that will be used as plates for a new bundle of commissioned work. As you know, I like to take my time throughout the whole process from ideation to testing and then laying out the watercolour. I do heaps of research to get characters looking just the way they should or rather would have looked in the days of Beatrix Potter. Actually, I find the whole process an incredible step back in the past and puts me very much in touch with my technique. I get so worried I will stuff up the treatment of work that sometimes, I think I overwork my pieces for fear of failure. This is something that I fear most in all spheres of my artistic world, as many of you well know. If it is not just right, I will rip it up and start again, no matter the hours spent on creation of the piece. Tell me, I know not if that is good or a bad thing.
A good friend of mine always reminds me that this is not always a good decision and suggests to, “just put it out there and get perfect later”. I reckon this works well for most things in business, because as one develops a product you can always tweak the product a little way down the track. Yet, as you know this is not the case for creatives of illustration, tales, design or performance. All are what make up my being. So I guess, even though I would love to follow this suggestion – it is not as practical as when I first thought.
On a personal note - I would like to thank all of you who have encouraged and given me strength over the past trying months with the Big C. It has been a huge learning curve; lots of mental adjustment and just trying to move forward and not thinking about any of it. I feel so blessed and much stronger than I was a couple of months ago and with God’s blessing, all of this will be very much behind me. So again, thanks to everyone. Mwa! 😊
Getting back to what I love doing has of course, been somewhat trying this month.
I started with good intentions and then I ended up sleeping a lot, I mean a lot. If any of you know, my athletic body often requires considerable sleep and when it is out of sync - then, I guess God takes over and knocks me out for a good 14 hours or so. It is not unusual for me to wake only for half an hour or so and then, it is back to the pillow.
However, things are improving and so too, is the regularity at which I feel like picking up a pencil or paintbrush. Of course, the fog and rain spurs me on. Thankfully, I have been blessed by a caring family who have been onboard with my life marathon. I feel blessed. :)
Anyhow, my efforts today have been rewarding; maybe I’ll be just as lucky tomorrow.
A year or so ago, I wrote an article about living a life according to 'Re'. A self-designed philosophy from which, I believe each and everyone of us, can benefit. If you are not sure, whether or not you read this article, I'll place the link below.
In life, we all have choices. The choice to use or not to use a product; the choice to throw away packaging in the right or wrong place; the choice to find a way to bring it to life again; the choice to give it to someone else to enjoy; the choice to re-purpose the old and make it new; or the choice to just re-use it - over and over again because we don't want to waste money or pollute the planet. At the end of the day, how we use or abuse life, the planet, people is an active decision on our behalf that we all have control over - that we can tweak, to make our world a better place.
The idea of 'Re' is just that - to place 're' before just about any verb so that you have a way of re-purposing things, thoughts and actions. Be doing this, we make renewed, conscious decisions to make the world a better place, just because we can and because if it doesn't start with us and the generation that lives now, then who and what generation will act for the benefit of all?
No matter how small or minuscule we think our actions might be, they truly add up to something that will change the world forever - one drop in the bucket now, will give a full lifetime of sustenance for another being.
So below, I have added to the list of 'Re's to re-jog your memory of just how simple the process can be on a daily basis.
Click the hyperlinks for some added ideas.
The World According to 'Re'
So, what on earth is the Art Cart?
Well, given I was forever thinking, 'how am I going to get my work out and about in this region of the countryside, on a regular basis, without incurring a stack of funds for a shop window?' I thought the best solution for this, was to create an Art Cart that I could use to showcase my upcoming works, as my product gets renewed. It could travel to where-ever, given the weather is fine and be pulled along by my bicycle. I needed an avenue that could mutate, as my work evolves and as my product-line becomes more diverse. I did not want to be restricted by unaffordable, expensive shop rent. I needed something that would become familiar to one and all. So the Art Cart was the perfect solution to my needs.
Should I rent or purchase such a cart, it would cost me in the vicinity of $4000~5000 dollars and I just did not want to go down that expensive road - I just didn't have the funds. So, given I am pretty creative and handy with tools, I thought I would design and whip up my own cart - from start to finish - well almost finished. It is still missing a canopy, but that's not far away. My plan was not to release some major know-how on the construction of such creations, but to show you that if you are desperate and have no other avenues at your disposal, you can come up with all sorts of wonderful solutions to resolve a problem. No, it is not perfect, but I learnt alot; hit my finger a few times; miscalculated a bit - but none-the-less resolved my initial problem.
From a simple idea, a drawing, a few bits and pieces, and a lot of grunt - reality became a real work of art! The video is a collation of photos that I kept for my own records, as much as for your enjoyment!
Watercolour is such a tricky medium and unless you keep your hand in the pot with a good deal of regularity, it is easy to get stale. Keeping the right consistency and ration of paint to water is always an art in itself. This applies to whether you are a pure wash, wet on wet painter; a wet on dry or even dry on dry artist. All of it, requires such dedication to the art form. Renewing fluidity across the page is through trial and error, and hundreds of hours of just placing the brush on the page, which at times can be so daunting if you are a perfectionist and hate making mistakes. A blob can look like a disaster and put you off the watercolour paper for ages. However, trying to just bite the bullet and forget about creating a picture is often the best thing you can do. I like to tackle days like these as just a learning task, where I am trying to overcome problems on the paper or with the tools and paints I am using. I literally write - 'test' or 'task' at the top of the page with a clarifying phrase that tells me what I am trying to achieve with my painting for the day. i.e. 'master proportions' or 'control light'.
In this manner, I have set myself an achievable goal, that means if I make a mistake, it's okay and that it doesn't matter and then I don't get so upset if it all goes wrong. I also find it easier to zone into the painting because it has become more of a task of mastering problems than rendering a wonderful masterpiece. Then, if all goes well and I have learnt to control what I set out to do, I end up with a bonus - maybe a good-looking painting. I take notes and record how I achieved the results I have so that I can practice it all over again and improve on what I have done. Sometimes, I don't get back to the drawing board for a week or so and I have forgotten everything I have learnt, the weekend before. I do my best to be at the drawing board with a great deal of regularity, but realistically speaking, this is not always possible.
Anyhow, this week's trials and errors have been with the creation of twin paintings. Neither are yet finished, as you can see both have blank and line work still on the paper. Each has the same characters, but I wanted to bring them nearer the fence line as if they have stopped for a quick conversation with the little red robin who has been following them through the snow fields. My task was to use the paper as the snow and to minimise the use of both watercolour and ink for the setting. A hard task. If I put too much on the paper, it's going to look like your standard grasslands and if I use too little, the paintings are going to look unfinished. Hence, the reason I have paused work on both because I am scared I am going to over do them - yes, I know they are learning curves and I am trying not to let my perfectionist nature kick in. This stuff is so much easier said than done - trust me.
LILIWIOFE is not a story, a tale or a novel. It is a diary. Some of you will ask, "but why a diary? What possible use could a diary have in anyone's life?" This diary is far more than just a method for attacking one's goals head on and recording the tasks one needs to do, in order to achieve them. It represents the act of taking action, in a physical sense. When an individual writes something down by hand, there is a commitment to oneself and the likelihood of following through with a dream, to make it reality, is far more likely. The brain switches on because the senses have been initiated.
However, for me this diary represents time - something we all have, but in limited supply. It is a full year, that we can choose to engage with our dreams or flitter them away on something less meaningful. And sometimes, it is not just a year. It could be as much as six years, just gone in an instant and you don't know where those hours, days, minutes have flown. Time has a funny way of healing one's heart. You don't plan to lose time or put your life on hold - it just sort of happens without you realising it and before you know it, you have not moved in the direction you set out to or something else has taken its place.
Since my father's passing, six years ago - life has just up and flown away and with it a great deal of my confidence. He was the person to whom I discussed my ideas, my plans and creations. We were very similar, in many ways. This diary represents a promise - not to waste a minute, an hour or a breath. It is a commitment that I can physically see on my shelf, see what I have achieved and how long it has taken me to create those dreams I had planned, prior to him being consumed by cancer.
Dad was a man who was energetic, creative, passionate and had dreams like the rest of us. We don't know what Mother Nature has in store for us, where we will be, who it will affect, how we will react or how we will claw our way back when the dust settles.
All I can tell you, is that we should not let 'time' steal our plans for achievement, joy, love or life. So many times we hear, "oh I'm just killing time; I don't have the time; I lost time; I can't give you my time." The list goes on. I'm sure, you could think of your own phrases that you use on a daily basis, as to why 'time' is stealing what you set out to do. Yet, my point is simple - we don't have time. It is gone as quickly as you can say the word, 'time'.
It doesn't matter if some of you don't get what I am saying - that's okay. In 'time', the penny will eventually drop. But for me, I am on a quest to do as I say and complete what I started six years ago...and on my way, I hope to help a million others to leave their comfort zone, before 'time' up and flies away. Living a life without fear and taking a chance on getting it right, takes a lot of guts. You have to shelve the voice inside your head that says, 'what if it doesn't work out; what will they say if I fail...' There are so many what if's. But what if, you get it right? What an honour that would be to yourself? What an achievement it would be to be proud of your growth and the person you have become. What an honour it would be to share those milestones, with others who have struggled similarly and overcome the hurdles.
This is my plan. You are my witness - help keep me accountable - failure is not an option.
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