Drawing on Metaphors


100 days: 22-28

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”

~ Thomas Merton. 

Received wisdom states it take anything from a couple of weeks to almost a year to form a new habit to the point whereby it feels automatic. Of course some folk are more habitually inclined, and for anyone a habit that’s enjoyable is easier to fit into an exiting routine.

Existing routine – did you hear that? Like I understand the meaning of this phrase!

However, this daily drawing habit is a month old for me now, and I’m really enjoying it. Each day I’m learning more about myself in ways I never though would be possible through such a simple activity. After all, I probably draw something most days anyway. But this is different. This has got rules: use a phone photo. Even when you don’t want to. That’s the basis of all these drawings, even if it’s a scribbled outline with free-form-jazz-doodles going on inside and all around. And I post the drawing daily. Even when I don’t want to. So what you see here isn’t curated highlights, it’s the day-to-day ordinary.

Here is week 4:

 

day 22

   22 22a

It’s just about a year since I had an enormous revelation that I still can’t express in words. So I look for symbols instead, in the hope that by collecting them I’ll be able to turn the understanding into words I can share. It’s about connection and communication, it speaks of time and fragility. Impermanence, and the whole essence of what we’re here for. I can see it in this image and I can’t explain how. This week I had another revelation: I don’t have to have the words. I can just be with this as it is for now.

day 23

23 23a

I saw this in the V&A, I was entranced by the colours, the shape, the sheeny-shiny glaze, all those edges and faces. I want to make one of these!

day 24

24 24a

This guy was hanging around outside Barcelona Zoo- it’s ok, he wasn’t alone – there were a few of them.

day 25

25 25a

I’m back in the  Barcelona photos … cos it’s such a photogenic place! In a three day trip earlier this year I must have taken hundreds of photos. Already bewitched by the art of Antoni Gaudi, I was in bits when I found myself actually walking around inside of  it. 

day 26

26 26a

“What thinks?” Are thoughts generated somewhere inside this head? or is it a receiver for energy that’s outside of us? Today It feels like floating in a soup of information, drenched in world noise, trying not to drown.

I like to listen to podcasts as I draw. As an on/off meditator and long time student of Buddhist practice, I really enjoy the podcasts produced by the Insight Meditation Center, Audio Dharma. They get me thinking about thinking… 

day 27

27 27a

Who, what is this? He’s inspired by a series of fabulous creatures by Jane Alexander at the Tate Modern. Everyday I’m learning so much, about drawing, and on a deeper level through the drawing practice. My observation is getting sharper, but more importantly I’m getting better at course correcting when I don’t get it first time. And I’m kinder to the part of me that’s learning , practicing, not expecting a perfect representation (I’ve already got a photo- this is something else) I’m developing the art of allowing.

day 28

28 28a

When I’m not hung up on accuracy I can forget the details and just go for the essence. I can float back in time a few months and return to the awe that floated me around these magical dreamlike Gaudi buildings. I can’t pretend this is easy, but I’m learning. I am, and it is, all a work in progress. It’s such a trip.


If you missed the previous parts, you can find them here:

Week 1 ~ Week 2  ~ Week 3

If you want to follow along this project day by day I’m posting on Instagram (where you can also see more WIP & detail pix) & Facebook

 

 


All through this summer I’m offering a special discount in my Etsy Shop to all the folks on my mailing list – so clickety-hop aboard today if you want to snag a bargain!

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Exploring through drawing


100 days: 14-21

“The way we do anything is the way we do everything.”

~ Martha Beck

Do you have patterns you keep falling back to?  

I’m three weeks into this 100 day project, and I’m noticing more patterns – not only the literal doodled patterns and shapes I return to in my drawings, but the patterns of thought in my behaviour and habits.

It’s the spirals and swirls, AND it’s the haphazardness and self talk that accompanies every process. The consistency of my inconsistency, how I dart between the extremes of all & nothing, the wonkiness of the line and skewed perspective, the mid range despair before conceding: this is my way. I gotta learn to like it, keep practicing, don’t stop and dwell here. Keep moving, keep learning, trust the process. 

 

Here is week 3:

 

day 14

14 IMG_8424

The 100 day project is teaching me so much already: about commitment for instance. I did not want to post this one. I could easily have drawn something else, or skipped on to the next day, and no-one but I would have known. But there’s the key: I would have known.

I’m doing this for all sorts of reasons, and getting better at drawing ‘real’ things is one of them. And showing up to myself is another thing. So here I am literally doing this! Morning panda eyes, this is me. (Oh, and how I see my hair: full of doodles.)

 

day 15

15 IMG_6591

The word that stood out in the whatever-I-was-listening-to today was Dissolve. I’m enjoying the connection between this, the meaning of ‘forming a solution’, merging to become a part of, and my unending seeking of answers. And to let all that dissolve too. Let it all go.

The photo I used is a fabulous light I saw in Barcelona. It’s like the sun ☀️ . .

 

day 16

16 Untitled-1

Somewhere between keeping it simple – 1 color, black pen & pencil – and totally over complicating with all the doodles and patterns. Both. Everything. All of it. .
One thing I’m working on in this project is the notion of leaving white space. Breathing space. Moments of quiet.

So by making quiet space a part of my drawings I’m training myself to let this into other parts of life too.

 

day 17

17 IMG_5998

I went to the Tate modern gallery on my birthday, and walking up from the station I was captivated by this image. So many lines and angles, triangles and patterns.

I just noticed the synchronicity of the numbers: Day 17, and my birthday is the 17th. I like when you his happens. I take it as a clue I’m on track with what I’m doing.

 

day 18

18 IMG_4559

‘Do What You Love’ it said, and round the corner ‘Love What You Do’.

That’s it. Right here. That’s what I’m doing.

 

day 19

19 19hat

Today is made of wonky lines of words and scribbles. Some days have more words than others, and this was one of them. Been thinking a lot about dreaming, last night was a series of distinct dreams within dreams, like Russian dolls, fractal layers.

This morning I found a podcast series about lucid dreaming, so that was my ‘morning drawing listening’ for today. .

 

day 20

20 IMG_0799

I take so many photos like this, I can’t resist the textures and patterns in stone walls 😊
The words ‘safe understanding’ meant something at the time I wrote them, but I either got distracted or overestimated what me-in-the-future would remember about the context. Nonetheless they’re good solid words to be on a wall.

There was a time when photos would exist only on paper, and once developed would get muddled and out of synch. I would not have kept the memory of seeing this wall in the chronological organisation that digital images have, so would have soon forgotten that today’s image was within minutes of the following (much more memorable) one. Things like this counter balance all that’s infuriating about digital life.

 

day 21

21 IMG_0823 (1)

I invited this girl I found while I was exploring Sacramento.  Last year I tripped across the states by train from Seattle to Chicago. I had just a few hours here between trains, it was early morning before the day had really woken up so I strolled around looking for art. And I found it!


If you missed the previous parts, you can find them here: Week 1 & Week 2

If you want to follow along this project day by day I’m posting on Instagram (where you can also see more WIP & detail pix) & Facebook

 

 


All through this summer I’m offering a special discount in my Etsy Shop to all the folks on my mailing list – so clickety-hop aboard today if you want to snag a bargain!

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(and I’ll send you my ebook A Year full of Color as a thank you for joining)
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100 days: 8-13


So here’s the thing: I’m not ordinarily a jump-out-of-bed-filled-with-enthusiasm-for-the-new-day kinda gal

(Oh, how I wish… I’m working on this one)

And I get twitchy at the thought of constraining myself to  a regular routine. 

I’m not quite sure why the disparity between the me I’d like to embody and the me I currently am, other than  – the reason for most things – people are complicated creatures.

It’s part of my BIG WHY behind taking on this challenge

It’s a practice within a practice, the bigger challenge of this life: to keep learning, keep evolving, keep shape-shifting – to become a morning person, a person who carries a sketchbook, a person who can draw circles and faces and recognisable things without drowning in judgement and criticism…. a person with a wholesome, creative, regular daily habit —  to who knows what next.

I figure only practice will get me from the version of the person I’m being now to the one I want to be next. One step in front of the other, one page at a time.


Here is week 2:

 

8/100

8 7

I am magnetised by trees, hypnotised. I can just stand and stare at them. And I do. One of the (many) reasons, I love the shapes the branches make – the gaps and spaces – like windows to the sky.

 

9/100

IMG_8366 IMG_0868

I forget what or where this was. I don’t think that matters much. What’s most interesting to me is all the metaphors this brings to mind. Today I’m thinking about junctions, connections, the joining togetherness and shifts in direction.

 

10/100

IMG_8404 IMG_8235

I notice how today I’m just not feeling it. I get caught up in the details and miss the bigger picture. The perspective is skewed and botched. And I say ‘but it’s art, it’s a drawing not an exact copy. It’s *inspired by* …’ while all the while I’m wanting to practice and get better at observing, at seeing the whole picture, at planning and scaling and accuracy and all that stuff. It’s all metaphors and it’s all practice.

 

11/100

IMG_8409 11

This is a path I’ve walked down hundreds of times, a shortcut between two rows of houses. In the morning the sun shines through the tunnel of overhanging trees and dapples the path. Already I’m thinking I’d like to revisit this photo, see it through the eyes of a me-on-another-day.

 

12/100

IMG_8431 IMG_0403

I found this curious group in a shop in Washington. I was travelling light so could only come away with this photo. In my drawing I could only fit three of the characters, so the others might appear later in the book (I feel like they should be together in some form). In the drawing the two on the left look a little conspiratorial while the green dude on the right looks worried. I only noticed this just now. What do they know that I don’t? Has separating them from the herd caused some friction? 

 

13/100

IMG_8435 13

It’s curious (to me) how taking a photo traps a moment, a memory, and holds it, contained in a little rectangle. This rectangle contains the mixed feelings of the drive to the airport, going home from a holiday, in a place I called my second home for sometime.

 


 

If you want to follow along this project day by day I’m posting on Instagram (where you can also see more WIP & detail pix) & Facebook

Do you have a daily creative practice? I’d love to know how you find it effects the way you make, the way you process your ideas…

 


All through this summer I’m offering a special discount in my Etsy Shop to all the folks on my mailing list – so clickety-hop aboard today if you want to snag a bargain!

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(and I’ll send you my ebook A Year full of Color as a thank you for joining)
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100 days: 1-7


MY last trip to the art store was for essentials: gel medium and canvas. I passed through aisles filled with rainbows of paint and pens and all manner of glorious goodies. I resisted the urge to take home so much of so much. 

Until I saw this.

Screen Shot 2017-06-09 at 18.48.50
my companion for the summer

I keep seeing on instagram folks doing this #100daychallenge and feeling the tug of a challenge I wanted to play along too… straightaway I knew this little sketchbook would make the perfect companion for me through this summer.

Beginning 1st June I’ve been taking my morning coffee with this new friend. Together we ease into the day. The light mornings mean my days begin earlier in the summer, it’s still quiet out in the world and nobody knows I’m awake, not even the internet.

Each day I choose a photo from the extensive collection in my phone (I’m forever seeing and catching patterns or shapes that intrigue me – finally I’m using this library – to begin my day’s doodles)

Here’s the first week of the adventure:

1/100

Photo from the Pink Floyd retrospective at the V&A – PF have been part of my life since I was a kid and I’ve got so many memories tangled up in their music. I don’t listen to it much these days, so hearing some of those songs again, I got quite emotional. When I was a teenager I went through a real hippy dippy phase. (It could be argued I haven’t come out if it yet) and I adored early PF and all the psychedelic things.

2/100

Still in the V&A, I forget what this is the detail of, but the patterns appealed and was enough to form the beginning of today’s doodle. I was listening to an Unruffled podcast, chichis where the quote “comparison and envy are just a different form of procrastination” came from. Food for thought for the day.

3/100

Today’s doodles began as I absentmindedly drew round the shapes showing through from the page before. The indentations in the paper. The shadows and ghosts of yesterday. Then the shapes from a photo in the Cathedral in Barcelona, I was really taken by this arrangement of diagonal lines and circles. It’s one of a few similar photos 😉 .

4/100

The photo that launched today’s doodle was a shop window display. My inner magpie saw those colors, those zigzags, and had to catch them. The reflections making new shapes on top were a bonus I didn’t see until later.

5/100

The photo is of a metal grid thing at the train station in Sacramento, I saw while waiting to leave on the second part of my big train trip across the US last year. I like the perspective, the contrast in grid shapes. It set the scene for this doodle.

6/100

Mmmmm…. foxgloves. What more can I say – aren’t flowers amazing?!

7/100

Continuing the theme of nature being amazing, with this twisty tree from Kew Gardens. “Healing in Expression” was a phrase I heard as I played. Which is truly what this is.

If you want to follow along this project day by day I’m posting on Instagram (where you can also see more WIP & detail pix) & Facebook

 


Would you like to get sporadic updates on my thoughts and drawings delivered right to your inbox? Hop onto my email list right here.

(and I’ll send you my ebook A Year full of Color as a thank you for joining)
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Your email is utterly safe to me. It will be wrapped up in blankets. I will bring it tea and biscuits as required. (subject to availability)

 

 

Little Green Things


colorwheelspiralIn my year full of color, I’m taking one step around the color each month. 12 colors in 12 months. 

It’s a logical progression at a steady pace that suits my practice well.

I’m documenting and sharing my experience as I go in an online program, TWELVTY, along with all the myriad resources I gather along the way.

There’s a new creative project every month, and there’s an art journal that has a few pages devoted to each month. Over the year this book will develop into a mixed media color-wheel-book. (A bit like this one – which inspired this year’s journey)

At the end of each month the art I made is available to buy online, and I make some little flip through videos of the art journal pages for my YouTube channel.

 

If you’ve visited this blog before, you will have seen some. They look like this

 

Months 1, 2 & 4. Erm…?

 

If you know me at all, you’ll know that this logical, consecutive, stepping order is not in keeping with my natural method. Any attempt to follow a structured system is liable to cause a part of my brain to misfire. I plan, I organise, I wander off route. Every freaking time!

Over the years I’ve found ways to make peace (mostly) with these quirks. I dance about in my own kind of high octane chaos. I enjoy making these colorful little schedules and lists. These are the compass by which I course-correct along my wiggly route.

 

 

At almost the half way point in the year, I’ve kept order to the creative part, but the end of month sharing schedule has gone a little catawompus.

Which is why – having shown you Twelvty-Four’s blue-green creative output already – today I want to show you the little green goodies I made during  Twelvty-Three!

In this month of Green I made this small collection of greetings cards from little bundles of hand dyed papers, held together with stitching. But they are more than that. They are also pieces of art you can frame and love forever. These are delicate and intricate, the more you look the more you see.

If you hop on over to my Etsy shop you may be in time to snap one up before they go.


Would you like to have news on my doings and makings delivered straight to your inbox? Would you like to hear about my colorful doings and makings before anyone else? 

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Sign up here and I’ll whizz it right over to you

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Collections


I love sets of things, I love arrangements & collections.

When I hear a song I love, I have to scurry off as soon as I can to find the album it’s from, find the artist, track down the other tracks. Fall in love again.

When my eyes are magnetised by a piece of art, I race to seek out the artist and soak in everything else they’ve created.

I’ve done this with authors and poets, actors, directors, blogs and my current jam: podcasts. I get hooked. I have to absorb all I can until my attention is hooked someplace else. 

This energy directs me, and now I’ve identified it, I can see how it plays out in all kinds of ways.

I’ve had attachment to all sorts of obsession, with habits and ritual, with a certain style of living or eating or being, with a form of minutiae that maybe only I notice, but it’s place in my days has been critical. For the moment. Then gone.

Sometimes it’s a few days, sometimes a few years, or anywhere in between. The more life I live the more context for this observation and the more patterns I can see.

IMG_7836

Right now I’m channelling this obsessive method into making. I’m filling every moment, pouring every ounce of energy into making, and will do so until the next hook catches me. That maybe tomorrow – maybe next year – I’ll show you when.

It’s manifesting itself right now as a collection of paper and fabric collages, I’m calling the Peacock & Mermaid collection. This is part two. I don’t know if there will be a part three – I might get called away by another muse.

All of the pieces shown here are available in my Etsy shop. The first part of the collection sold out the first day – so hop over quick if you’d like one of them in your home!


Would you like to get sporadic updates on my thoughts and drawings delivered right to your inbox? Hop onto my email list right here.

(and I’ll send you my ebook A Year full of Color as a thank you for joining)

Your email is utterly safe to me. It will be hidden in a secret place, I will feed it tea and biscuits as required. 

Mermaids & Peacocks


colorwheelI’ve just spent a month dwelling in a color I love so much: blue-green, and I have to admit it wasn’t easy to move on!

In this year full of color, as I journey around the color wheel, I’m devoting each month to a single color, and April was all about teal, turquoise and sea-shades of aquamarine. These are the colors of a magical world inhabited by peacocks & mermaids. And me!

At the end of each month I add the fruits of my makings to my Etsy Shop — there are only three of these in existence, so catch ’em while you can!

12T04-madebymixy-8x8canvas

Mounted on 8 inch square canvas board, these are layered collages of hand dyed paper and cotton & silk fabric intricately detailed with little weeny glass beads and stitching. 

They are ready to hang as soon as they arrive in their new homes. 
Welcome to the underwater realms of my imagination … 

What 3 months of color looks like…


These are the art journal pages from the first three months of Twelvty: This is the story so far.

January: Yellow

 

When I look at these pages I’m whisked back the to adventures and explorations of the first month of this year long adventure. Using just one color brings out nuances and subtleties too quiet to hear above the sound of other colors. 

I chose yellow as a starting place in the color wheel because it is simple, it is small. 

There’s not much space or contrast in yellow – take it darker and you have shades of ochre, tan into browns. Only a smidge lighter before you hit white. No room to step either way before falling into yellow-orange or yellow-green, and they have their own months in Twevlty.

Yellow is compact with well defined parameters. 

 

February: Yellow-Green

Yellow-green: the first tertiary color we explored – and suddenly there’s a depth of tone to play with. Luscious lime to opulent olive.  Chartreuse. Char-freaking-treuse, people! 

And here’s the beginning of the “is it or isn’t it?” questions that will bob up all through this year. When does it stop being yellow and start being green? Where’s the spot in the middle? We’re navigating a continuum, there are no strict boundaries. It’s all part of the fun 😉

March: Green

Another month, another step round, deeper into greens. Each collage scrap and cut out shape here has a story and will serve to remind me of ideas that were born and then took a turn I didn’t foresee. I’m only the vehicle through which these ideas come to being, sometimes I forget this and try to control them. But, like water,  they find their own way.

 

This book is the place a leave seeds of ideas to incubate: reminders to a me-in-the-future. We’re nearing the end of a month of blue-green as I type this to you, and about to dive into the ocean of blue for May. Check back to see the cool bluey loveliness that emerges!

 


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5 reasons I art journal


As part of my journey round the color wheel this year I’m creating an art journal. It began life as a world atlas which seemed kinda fitting for an adventure like this. Old and dog-eared, it’s time had come for reincarnation as an altered book.

As the idea for this adventure sprang from a year long art journal project it seemed amiss not to include that part again this time round.

At the end of March I was looking back over the first three colors of the first three months (yellow, yellow-green, green) and remembering a time not that long back when art journalling wasn’t a part of my life.

For reals. 

Is it part of yours? If not, have you been curious why some folks get so giddy about it?

Here are five of my reasons

  1. A home for the offcuts and scraps of paper that are enough to remind me of an idea I had, a reminder of something to try again – or not to.
  2. A place to explore – what happens if I use this paint on this material? Do these pens work on this paper? Does this pen still work, or will it inklessly scratch marks, and how do they look?
  3. It’s the page I scribble notes to me-in-the-future: the name of the book or the band or the thing I just remembered, the meme that made me laugh or think or a bit confused and might want to about again. These might well get obliterated under layers, but once I’ve written something down I often remember it anyway. 
  4. A safe zone for mess – there’s nothing precious here, it can all get covered up and that’s fine. It’s all transient. If this get drips and splashes, they add to its charm. 
  5. Unplanned & unstructured, this is the organic way that most of my art grows. Every page in a book like this can spark hundreds of ideas. 

 

Want to see how the TWELVTY book is progressing? Check back soon, I’ve got more to show you! X


Would you like to get sporadic updates on my thoughts and drawings delivered right to your inbox? Hop onto my email list right here.

(and I’ll send you my ebook A Year full of Color as a thank you for joining)

Your email is utterly safe to me. It will be filed under ‘S’ for ‘Super Important’. I will bring it tea and biscuits as required. (subject to availability)

sticky things


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…

Hmmmmm…. 

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.

recyclemenowBags 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.

Good luck! X