the shape of a decade, part three


Over the last days of the decade I’ve been thinking back to where my creative journey has wandered. You can see parts one & two in my previous posts. Now let’s catch up to the moment before we dive into the 2020s.

2017:

TWELVTY – Etsy – The 100 Day Project – Postcards.

Inspired by my own 12 month / 12 color project from 2012, I created a year long online class – TWELVTY – a trip around the color wheel. It was so much fun, over half the folks who joined me came back for a second time the next year!

Each month we explored a different color together. As part of the class I shared the making of this 12 color art journal filled with my most fav mixed media techniques.

2017 was the first year I heard about the 100 day project through social media. I missed the official start date, but in 100 days I made 100 drawings inspired by the random photos in my phone. I learned a lot in the process.

The images and faces that showed up in this book inspired my first collection of mini-print postcards, and more ideas that would unfold over the next months.

2017 was the year I launched my Etsy store, and as the year moved on I filled it with the colorful things I made.

Meanwhile, in the background I had a sketchbook of ideas fermenting into future ideas…


2018:

TWELVTY – the 67-ish day project – the Sketchbook Project – the Tiny Book Collaboration.

This year I stepped up the TWELVTY game, instead of making an art journal with the experiments in 12 colors, I made two 3D mixed media color wheels.

The 100 day project called me to step up again too. This time I embarked on a series of big paintings on canvas.

I don’t often work this big, I’d not painted on canvas before, and I planned to make my 100 day project from 100 time lapse videos of progress on these.

Tbh I really bit off more than was possible this time, so when I got about two thirds through I stopped and set these paintings aside for a while. I’m beginning to get the itch to return to them soon (watch this space!)

Sometimes it’s more difficult to stop when the time is right, to wait it out, than it is to plough on regardless. I feel like that was the biggest lesson learned for me this time.

I’m much more at home working in a small scale – when I heard about the Sketchbook Project it sounded exactly my kinda thing.

In light of this trajectory, it’ll come as no surprise that when I head about the Tiny Book Collaboration I joined up without a second thought!

Of course, while this is all going on I’m feeding my muse with regular down-time in an art journal. This was a fun change of format and opened lots of panoramic new ways to play.


2019:

Ink Dyed Papers – 100 days in 100 days – The Sketchbook Project twice – and a ZINE!

I began this year in my studio with more experiments in paper dying. It really took over everything for a couple of months or so, and I’ve still so much to tell you about this – something for the new year!

This time around I began my 100 day project on the ‘official’ start date and managed to complete 100 days in just that. I set my own rules and made them manageable this time – adding to an art journal I’d been dabbling in for a while took a lot of pressure off – so each day I just added a bit more.

Days add up to weeks add up to completed pages added up to 3 and a bit months of daily practice. These pages inspired my latest set of mini-print postcards.

2019 was book-ended by the Sketchbook Project.

Earlier in the year I completed my 2019 book, and to my amazement I finished my 2020 book before December 2019 was out. Each one is more elaborate than its predecessor, I think that goes to show how much I love making these books!

The first book was home to the characters, the imaginary friends & curious creatures, who collaborated with me to make my first ZINE that I published in December.

So the year ended as it began, in a delighted frenzy of gluing and doodling, as I assembled the pages of my 2020 Sketchbook project into this. It’ll be flying off to Brooklyn after the holidays, and another decade of making will commence.

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Thank you!

Thank you all so much for joining me in this journey – your support means more than I can tell you. I hope I can keep spreading inspiration around the blogosphere and color around my pages for many more decades, and I hope you’ll be here too.

Big love to you my friends,
I wish you a fabulous 2020 and beyond! X


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2018 looked like…


2018’s been a soupy sort of year, it feels like all the days and weeks swirled up together, undefined and drifty. It’s fun to go back and look at these memories I caught as they floated by. It feels like a reset: Ready to begin again.

New year: new art journal. Finding connections, exploring rabbit-holes.

“What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly.”

 – Lao Tzu

Inspired by……………….
Ali Brown
Hali Karla
Michele Theberge
Following the White Rabbit

Re-exploring Watercolor, Birthday weekend in Barcelona. Beginnings.

You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.

– Mark Twain

Studio spring-clean, surprise snow, finally spring.

“The chief enemy of creativity is good sense.”

― Pablo Picasso

listening to……………..

“Start Where You Are”Pema Chödrön
“The Butterfly Effect” – Jon Ronson
“What is the Bible…” – Rob Bell
Reply All Podcast

The start of the 100 Day Project (still a work in progress – watch this space!)

listening to……………..

The Sketchbook Project 2018 (planning 2019’s book already). Painty Paws.

What if the question is not why am I so infrequently the person I really want to be, but why do I so infrequently want to be the person I really am?”  

~ Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Heatwave, Human Design, Resistance, Repeating patterns, Reminders.

“Our job in this life is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.” 

― Steven Pressfield, “The War of Art”

listening to……………..

Extraordinary English Summer!!

listening to……………..

Sewing, Sari Silk, Daydreams, Doodles.

“Your life is your life.
Know it while you have it.
You are marvellous.
The gods wait to delight in you”

―   Charles Bukowski

listening to……………..

The Tiny Book Collaboration, Dying Paper & Fabrics

“The thoughts we choose to think
are the tools we use to paint the canvas of our lives.” 

―  Louise Hay

listening to……………..

“Do the Work” – Steven Pressfield
“The Untethered Soul” – Michael A Singer
Peak Human Podcast
The Mormon and the Meth-head Podcast

Gustav Klimt in Paris, piles of pebbles in Cyprus. Shavasana.

“Just for now,without asking how, let yourself sink into stillness.

Just for now, be boundless, free, with awakened energy tingling in your hands and feet. Drink in the possibility of being who and what you really are – so fully alive that the world looks different, newly born and vibrant, just for now..”

―  Danna Faulds

Inspired by……………….
Stasia Savsuk “Change your pants, change your life”
A Small Wardrobe
Frank James
Katwise
Susannah Conway

listening to……………..

Accidental art from my desk, Deliberate art on Etsy. Full circle.

“We’re all just walking each other home”

―  Ram Das

Whatever 2018 has brought to you, I wish you a shiny bright new start today. X


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To Brooklyn and beyond!


Since last summer when it arrived,  I was chasing my tail with ideas for this project. Three days before the deadline I declared it finished and posted it off to its new home in Brooklyn Art Library.

IMG_1004You might remember my first ‘best laid’ plans disintegrated along with the pages of this book on contact with watercolor.

 

 

Having decided to rebind the book in delicious watercolor paper I went off track from my plan and ended up making a bunch of pretty doodles in watercolor, that were fun to make but missed the point of what I wanted to make, and the rebound book sat on my desk for a while in a state of finished-but-no-finished.

Something didn’t feel right.

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I couldn’t get myself to film a flip through until when I finally did the edit went all catawompus. I was standing in my own way to package it up to post, to take those last steps.

It felt too mimsy and not very Mixy.

I kept coming back to the thought that if this is going into a collection that can be seen by anyone and possibly by no-one. In a library of + 36,000 books it should, nonetheless, be representative of what I am.

It should be more me.

A little over a week before the deadline to post it off I was awoken by vivid dreams telling me to begin again: Go back to my first idea. Do it now.

I got up that morning and tore out the fancy watercolor paper pages.

For reasons unknown to me up until then I’d kept those first pages. The original paper with holes where the paint seeped through, with scratchy ballpoint lines and un-erasable pencil lines underneath.

 

The "Wandering Doodle"
The “Wandering Doodle” as I called it, best seen like this, photoshopped together, it carries a line of wiggles and squiggles throughout the book.

 

 

The voice in my dream was saying IT’S A SKETCHBOOK. It’s meant to be sketchy. It’s meant to be about ideas, not nice paintings. 

I needed to work around the worn through holes, paint over and collage around the layers of ideas. I needed to fill the book with the thoughts and words and shapes that were torrenting around in my head. That’s the point of a sketchbook. That’s what sketching is.

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I spent that weekend sat on the floor of my studio, surrounded with collage cuttings and clippings, paints, pens and inks.

I doodled my little heart out.

I sewed in sequins and  crocheted page edges.

I rebound the old pages along with drawings I made decades ago. I poured in words that floated through from podcasts and song lyrics as I went.

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If you’d like to see a full flip through of these pages, hop onto my email list here for an exclusive preview next week.

the planner rabbit-hole


There are two sides, separated by a void. There is no middle ground between. The title of this post will either have meaning to you or not, and that will depend on which side of the void you reside.

If you’re a list-writing, journaling, planning kinda person, if you’ve explored the online circus of delights that cater to folk like us, you’ll understand the mental-quick-sand-iness of it all.

Alternatively you might live a hundred lifetimes and never know such wonders exist.

Folks in the latter group: click away now. Anywhere. Just away. You won’t like this.

I’m going to geek about diaries. If this isn’t your jam, click away now. I wasn’t joking about the quicksand. It’s very real. (In a metaphorical sense)


A while back I happened on the system of bullet journaling.

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.

bulletJournal2015-17

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 Hobonichi planner through Etsy (the 6 month: July-December version) in order to dip my metaphorical toes.

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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

Pro: Paper

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.

IMG_2726.JPG

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!

So……

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 central and 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.)

Moving along…

pencilCase2017

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.

These are 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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