Beginning in January and running all through 2017 I’ve been travelling around the color wheel with a group of fabulously inspiring artists and creatives. 2017 is the first time I’ve shared this journey, although it’s by no means my first Year full of Color.
January was the month of Yellow, and the month I opened the doors to my Etsy shop.
February is my birthday month and this year I took a trip to the Tate Modern and then had a few days in Barcelona. Sunshine, paella, and the Gaudi buildings I’ve wanted to go and see for the longest time. I was giddy with excitement all trip. There just aren’t enough superlatives!
This was the month I began in earnest, my quest to declutter my space. Spurred on my podcasts and youtubery, I began shifting bags and boxes of stuff out of my life. It’s a process, I’m uncovering layers of past (not just mine, I’ve the bequeathed hoardings of others amid this mess.) It’s gonna take some time.
This month I revisited a design I came up with ten (no – wait – is it?…. yup, ten) years ago – the Tree of Life– and I recreated a new version to celebrate. This design started out as a watercolour painting that I developed in Photoshop – which is how I still see it in my mind – so it’s kinda cool to see it reinvented again as a design on leggings and phone cases and all these things!
(I’ve got Santa on board this year and he’s ordered me a set of the zippy bags in “Tree of life Blues” for Chrimble. I’ve heard good things about these bags – I’ll let you know when they arrive)
March was also the month I really began exploring time-lapse as a way to share my art. I love sharing what I do and make, but even more I love to show you the process, the stages it goes through – the lost layers – the ephemeral bits.
That’s what this blog was all about to begin with (that’s how it got it’s name) this month was the fifth anniversary of my very first post here.
watch a painting come to life, and see the hidden layers that are out of sight forever now!
After a long hibernation, finally springtime … trips out to London to the V&A and museums, walks in the woods with the bluebells. TWELVTY was all about blue-green in April and this teal-turquoise range is my happy place in the color wheel (well… maybe one of them)
I began playing with paper dying again – messy fun – a technique I shared with my Twelvty group and it’s inspired me to create a mini ecourse in paper dying for the new year(watch this space)
I’ll be back with the next instalment of reflections tomorrowish. Meanwhile………
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As a long time list maker and glutton for stationery, this appealed to me on a number of levels, and for almost two years this system served me well.
This Leuchtturm 1917 book was my travelling companion, my mental back up, home to a hundred post-its and the landing place for my brain dumps for longer than a usual diary, and I like how it provided a home for the lists that would otherwise be swirling inside my head.
But before moving forward, we need to rewind…
It was in the quest to reduce the anxiety-inducing levels of chaos I had going on in my life that lead me to discover bullet journaling. It’s when I first encountered these youtube rabbit holes: these whole communities of planners, people with planners, people planning their planners. A number of these folk have planners to organise the videos they make about organising their planners on youtube. It’s pleasingly meta and terrifyingly quicksandy all at once. That is why this is a blog post, not a video.
As I neared the final pages of my trusty turquoise book I revisited some of the many channels devoted to listing, journaling, planning, and the like. Because it had been a while I was ready to reconsider my listing and planning options. I was ready to hop back in the quicksand.
The that thing I missed when bullet journalling was having a readily fill-in-able set up for the months ahead. (There are ways around this – downloadable-printables, suggested hand-drawn-layouts, and more. But in two years of trial n error none of these gelled with me.)
Now it was time for me to re-explore a more structured planner route for a while, to find out if I could mash up a hybrid of the bits of all the systems I like.
Back into the rabbit hole of youTube.
In the intervening years the rabbit hole had become much deeper, much more rabbitty.
[There are squillions of videos devoted to this challenge: the quest for the system that fits an ever-changing, ever-busying life. Deep down we all know there isn’t one solution, but we enjoy the quest too much to stop.Because of all the reasons.]
I emerged bleary-brained some long while later, ready to invest more than I’d usually consider because this could be the ‘Neo of planners’, the one true solution to any papery chaos and confusion. Also, these particular journals have an almost cult like following – and I needed to know why!
Unavailable in the shops here, I ordered my first Hobonichiplanner through Etsy (the 6 month: July-December version) in order to dip my metaphorical toes.
There is no limit to how much you can spend in Hobonichi stuff: all the special covers and stickers and doodads that can go along with. I didn’t. I used a clear plastic cover intended for another this-size book & a postcard of a peacock to make it pretty.
The book itself? I’m kinda sold on it. I mean, enough to try a year long experiment and see if I can make this fit. These are my impressions after a few months…
Hobonichi Pros & Cons
One of the features that gets folk all ravey about the Hobonichi books is the super thin Tomoe River paper. It’s crazy thin, so much that a book with a year’s worth of daily, weekly, monthly, and other pages is still under an inch thick, but this paper isn’t so flimsy it tears and lets bleed through. What the what?
If I’m honest – that in itself is what almost sold me the first book. Then there’s the other big thing:
Pro: All the options
Daily pages with a time line for appointments, weekly spreads with hourly timelines on each day, monthly spreads with a good size box for each day. And the year with 6 months to a spread. Too much? almost certainly! But until I give it a good thorough try I won’t know which part is superfluous, so 2018 is my year of discovery.
Pro: Box grids.
I’m very much into box grids instead of lined paper. I have a dislike of lined paper which gives me flashbacks to school, but boxes and dot grids have a multifunctionality that appeals to me. It’s a yin/yang with my outside-the-edge-what-edges?-?-inherent-inner-discord-and-anarchy.
They are in an unimposingly faint print too.
Con: so many the options
4 months into my current half-year book, I find I’m still bouncing lists chaotically between the weekly and the daily pages. One will win out over the other before long, cos I’m stubborn by nature and hate to write the same thing in more than one place.
Right now I’m enjoying having a page that ‘belongs to today’ in order to list what I’ve got to do. But what doesn’t get done today has to float unfinished in the near past, and that unsettles me a bit. The Bullet Journal system made more allowance for floaty ‘to do soon’ lists. I think this will figure itself out into a system before long. I’m nothing if not inventive!
I have two new planners lined up for 2018: My first full year long version for 2018 A5 size Hobonichi Cousin which I anticipate will become list centraland the Hobonichi Weeks which is a year full but without the daily pages so it’s just regular diary size and can travel about with me. This one’s also got dozens of blank pages at the back which I plan to utilise for the bullet journal style lists. (BuJo folks call these collections, which is just gratingly quaint for me. As is BuJo. I’m absurdly sensitive to words and things, but also lazy and will take the easier typing option.)
Look! I got me a new pencil case. It’s predecessor (which is almost as old as me) has been retired to box of sentimental nonsense. The part of me that associates ‘new pencil case = new start’ did not leave when I finished school.. That was the best bit of school!
Are you a planner person? …I figure if you’ve read this far either you’re already a lister, a journaller or a planner of some kind, or you’re considering it as an option. What’s you book of choice? I’d love to know!
These new books of mine are part of a larger getting my ducks lined up strategy.
They’re coupled with another new found interest – the Getting Things Done methods of David Allen. I also discovered him somewhere in my rabbithole adventures and was instantly hooked, I listen to GTD podcasts, I bought his book which systematically working through.
The essence of this system is the idea the human mind is better used for thinking things up than stuffing full of things to remember. If we have an alternate, external way to store all the what-I-gotta-do-next things all that brain-RAM can work more efficiently too.
Theseare going to lead me into 2018 with my act far more together than ever before!
I know it’s popular to joke ‘things won’t change though’ in a self-deprecating way, but I really feel this becomes a self fulfilling ‘see – I told you I’d screw up again’ and I just don’t have time to spin in circles like that any more.
It took getting really ill a few months ago, have most the time and energy sucked out of my days to make me realise I need to stop floundering about and get organised.I don’t know how it’s going to take shape yet, but I do know that it will. For now that’s all that matters.
I share my journey, my creativity and random thoughts, each month in a newsletter you could have delivered direct to you emailhole. You’ll also get special discounts on things I make like online creative classes, and actual tangible things too. All you have to do is pop your email address in here and I’ll do all the rest.
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Your email is utterly safe to me. It will be wrapped up snug and nestled with a hot water bottle & a kitten until the spring arrives.
If you love learning about color, you’ll love my Year full of Color eCourse: TWELVTY. Find out more & Register now for 2018
Some lifetimes ago, a sixteen year old version of me failed to get the place in art school that she’d pinned all her early hopes to.
Dismissed by the grown ups who’d repeatedly explained: ‘being an artist isn’t realistic’ led to years floating adrift from my calling.
(They were wrong. And this isn’t what I do, I’ve come to realise, it’s what I am)
A few years ago, rattled by some mid-life reminders of mortality,I finally fulfilled my life long ambition. But being an art student was as far as I’d thought this plan through. After spinning around in a self made feedback loop of regret for two decades, while I loved my time at college, I’d completely lost sight of the purpose.
My confusion was confounded when my course was cancelled after the foundation year. Before I’d time to consider my options my personal life fell apart, as a few weeks later my mum died.
Now I was free falling and had to find something to grasp onto, something simple I could rely on to slow the descent.
I needed a project to latch my focus to. I needed a subject I could immerse myself in. It had to be something creative, it had to be something colourful.
It just had to be color.
I hadn’t the bandwidth for anything more complex. I needed colors, but one at a time. No other rules. Just me, a book, and whatever paints and pens and things I had to hand. In just one color. I began with the color I felt most drawn to at the time, which was red-violet, magenta. It was soothing. It was all I had space for.
I took that year, one color at a time, one month at a time.
After another family bereavement a couple of months into my year long color project, I knew I needed some accountability, some way to keep this project afloat.That’s when I started this blog.
By the end of the year I’d created a this whole book full of color.
It’s still with me in my studio as a resource for inspiration – (that’s something I didn’t foresee when I began this project.)
I think it speaks for itself that some of this year’s Twelveteers have already joined up for a second trip around the color wheel in 2018!
There are a limited number of discounted places available to folks on my mailing list. If you aren’t signed up already – what the hey?!! – scoot down to the end of this post to add your email before they’re all swooped up!
The backdrop to my 2017 is the year long art project, TWELVTY, where each month has its own color. An unexpected side benefit to this is I’ve got this clear delineation in my time. Each month is visibly new. A month is a manageable sized lump of time, and I’m relishing month-sized projects this year.
It all began in February.
On the evening of January 31st, full of pending-new-month-enthusiasm, I happened to be listening to an episode of The Slow Home Podcast talking about #minsgame – the minimalist’s month long decluttering challenge.
Now, I’m not seeking minimalism, but the place I want to be is in that direction from here…
This is the way it works:
Day 1 – get rid/recycle/donate/throw away one item of clutter.
Day 2 – two items,
Day 3 – three items – you get the idea…. for a month.
February, having 28 days, equates to 406 things. Just 406 things. No problem…
Did I stick to it all month?
No. No, I didn’t.
The first few days were hard. Because singling out just one/two/three things means resisting gathering up more than today’s allotted number… but that’s why it’s called a challenge, right? Through week one, as I made my coffee in the morning, I’d find the thing/s to put in the donations box. Odd things that don’t get used… bits and bobs. Easy. Fun. Yay!
By the end of week one there was a box of assorted junk/treasure to donate: 28 things.
In week two I was distracted by the fact that in week 3 I was going away for few days, which meant either before or after my trip I’d have to collect up an extra 63 things in order to keep up.
Suddenly this felt weightier than the actual living amid clutter.
I’m really averse to rules and structure. And precise counting.
My inner adolescent was stomping about in my head ‘I don’t need to be told how to get my shit together…’ (and my inner adult was surveying the clutter and shaking her head.)
But y’know what? – that first voice was right.
All I’d needed was the nudge into action. To convince myself it was a game. By mid-week two I’d built up so much momentum I couldn’t limit myself (or be bothered to keep count), so I went with the flow and box after box of stuff has found its way out of my house.
Bags and bags of ‘just in case’ material for projects that haven’t manifested, boxes of ‘holy cow that’s a bargain I’d be crazy not to’ excess quantities of *way more than I could ever use* plus all those things that were someone else’s sentimental memories. Memories of people long gone.
I sailed past the 406-thing-mark and didn’t look back.
As are the ripples. I’ve also deleted swathes of old emails. Documented trivia from over a decade ago: gone. Conversations long dead: gone. I’ve unsubscribed and I’ve unbookmarked, and with every unchecked box and each ‘Are you sure?’ — YES, there’s a bit more brightness.
The relief is tangible. I actually felt lighter.
But what I came to discover next was the sorting and choosing, the bagging and boxing, the discriminating between hasty enthusiasm I might later regret and misplaced sentimentalism, all that choosing and deciding, that wasn’t the final act.
My car contained the bags of stuff to donate, but there wasn’t a parking spot close enough to the charity shop. For longer than I expected.
The bags of textiles sat next to the door awaiting their final journey to the recycling centre for longer than I planned.
It’s like there’s an energy around these things, having a sticky quality to them. Their energy is so entangled with my own, the process became multi-layered, and it’s not over yet. I’ve cleared out round one and now as I survey my surroundings it’s with a different eye.
There’s a new hierarchy and the filters are finer.
I am a work in progress.
And I’m learning more about being me all the while.
If you’re tempted to haul yourself from the mire of accumulated years of clutter, I can really recommend Rachel, the Messy Minimalist, on Youtube. She’s fab. My mantra in moments of doubt was: If Rachel can do this, so can I. I haven’t read Marie Kondo’s book, but I’ve got the gist of it and used some of her principles too. There are countless Youtubes on folks Konmari-ing their homes and lives too.
The time is here: I really want to consolidate some of the mishmash of identities I’ve got here on the internets. It’s confusing for me now, so I forget how disconbobulating it must be for others…
Y’see, I set this blog up all those years ago as a bit of a whim. I wanted to have a record of what I was doing and making and thinking at the time and it seemed like the internets was a safe place to put it so it didn’t all get eaten alive by yet another computer. That’s all.
“Ephemeral Gecko” was just a couple of words I liked. I liked the way they sounded together.
I didn’t figure on anyone else noticing. I googled the phrase and when nothing untoward came up in the results, I made the choice and claimed the name. It didn’t occur to me anyone else would be interested in these musings. So, live n learn, huh?
Recently I heard Seth Godin talking about blogs – when you start to write online, he advised, use a pseudonym, gauge the response, if it isn’t favourable then who cares – it wasn’t ‘you’. Yes! clever me and my forethought! I knew that already! that’s what I did!!
Then he went on to recommend you switch to your real name after a few weeks.
Oh, not that bit. I didn’t do that bit.
And it’s been a few years now …
… and a few names too.
Ephemeral Gecko became the me that instagrammed and twitted (not twitting often enough to matter… until I remembered the auto-twitting of my blog posts I set up and promptly forgot about. So in that sense, a version of me I’d forgotten about was busy over there.
A long time before all this happened I used the name pentangledfor my jewellery making and early dabbles into digital art. I disliked that name more and more over the subsequent years and having established myself in that guise in deviantArt & redbubble, I finally ditched it.
I know, I know.
I adopted the name Mixy on facebook, to begin from pure silliness, then stuck with it as a point of principle. That was a time when it was being claimed fb was closing down the accounts of folk not using their real name. Which was really screwing up the lives of ppl who needed anonymity for their personal safety. That wasn’t my story, but I wanted to stand in solidarity with those for whom it was. No matter how futile and ineffective. I knew why, and that’s what mattered to me at the time.
There’s all sorts of reasons why this all seems scrappy and indecisive and bad practice, not quirky and adorable and fun. But there we are. I’m all those things, and I’m using the defence of “I’m an artist” in the same way asMarvin Gaye (formerly Spartacus) Chetwynd does. Because really, who cares? I make stuff. I share it online and sometimes real life exhibitions.That’s all that really matters. If things like this get you all tangled up, don’t let it, pour that angst into something important and leave me here.
This is all of me. Here I am – just the one of me – typing this too you in all the places I type to you from. And perhaps someplace automated I don’t remember too.
If you’d like more insights into my ridiculous & made up world, my colorful antics & frippery, you can do so by hopping onto my newsletter list for sporadic updates. And I’ll send you my lovingly hand crafted ebook all about color
Be well, my friends, Much love to you all X
(Your email is absolutely safe with me, I’ll just pop by and check up on it time to time, feed it biscuits, plump up its cushions, that sort of thing.)
I got back from my travels last month so wiped out with jetlag, post giddy-with-deleriously-excited induced tiredfulness that I lost most use out of almost a full fortnight. Then no time at all later I went and took off again. I’m back now, this time long enough to catch my own tail, to take a deep breath. And again. And to make some plans.
Last weekend brought a new moon, which on this side of the world was the second new moon in the month making it a black moon. I’ve loved the mythology, the tradition, the woo-woo – the whatever you want to call it – of aligning with the lunar cycle since I was a wee scrap. It’s part of my way of fumbling through this life. The new moon is the time to sow seeds – literal and metaphorical. Actual plant seeds want you to pay attention to the season for best success, but the seeds of ideas can be planted any time. I like the belief they get a head start when fuelled by intention and belief.
Inspired by a couple of dear friends I’ve met this year, this new moon I was inspired to begin this new moonly ritual.
A New Moon – Moodboard – Art Journal – Scrapbook. … Snappy title, right? ha!
The idea was introduced to me by Kate Robertson, I love it so much as it brings together a bunch of things I already do – the art journalling, the new moon intention setting, my unending love of cutting up and gluing together images… I haven’t moodboarded much before, for want of getting around to it, and finding a space for the thing to live, so to have it in a book is the perfect solution for me. Said book is now propped up open at the current view and in my line of vision where I sit and do my artly doings.
The process was enriched by the influence of Hali Karla, who I was delighted to meet up with in real life on my travels. Hali is an artist, intuitively in tune with an astrological practice that she weaves into her creativity, she provides an Art Practice New Moon audio recording each month you can listen to here. On Sunday I settled myself down with the big ole box of magazine pics I’ve been hoarding forever, a big new art journal, and as I listened to Hali’s words I chose the images and thoughts that shone out to me as what I want to bring into the coming month.
These shorter darker days call in more than ever the warm bright glowing colours for me, for cosiness and comfort, for the mental hibernation and reconbobulation I’m looking to toward the end of a year of big changes and personal re-routing.
I’ve got a sense of releasing the past, letting go and lightening up. Looking into the place where the dreamworld meets the real world, matching the edges together and seeing what I can make next.
In doing this I’m piecing together new plans for 2017, plans I intend to nurture this month. (Much more on that soon)
So you know how it was such a long held wish to visit the US… from early little me watching TV through growing up with the music and the movies and all that hype … through to a growing realisation the place is enormous and a long way away.
And then a number of years later, I arrived.
A friend said today how it was curious to see America through my eyes.
There are things I see as foreign, despite the similarities between the US & UK, it’s subtle nuances, things I knew about from TV but have never seen in real life. It feels like I’ve slipped through a portal to a parallel universe in which I shrunk back to child sized in relation to my surroundings. And with mountains. Actual mountains. With actual snow on them!
In my three week adventure I covered almost 12,000 miles, through 8 states, and met some really wonderful people.
I’ve been home about a day and a half and gradually processing and decompressing from the gazillions of new experiences. I came back with upward of 42 GB of video and photos … some edits required, then I’ll show you some of my adventurings!