Given The Chance

Strey creativity has taken an interesting turn in the past couple of weeks. This could be put down to astrology, numerology, or the new cookies & cream Kit Kat – which has nothin on the dark chocolate Kit Kat they recently discontinued (bring it back, please!!)
Whatever the case, there’s been a lot more arty-experimenting and a lot less writing.

Alright, so the real reason is that I spotted a long-held dream on the horizon.
It’s one of those dreams I thought had run so far away that I’d never catch it. You know the kind, an idea or intention you might secretly hold because it’s unimpressive to those around you? Or you feel it’s unreachable because you’ve built barriers out of as many excuses as you can find, over many years of telling yourself you can’t/shouldn’t/better not.
You both go into hiding – the dream scampers off into hills and valleys far away, while you stay in the city of distraction.
Time passes.

Then one day, somehow, life conspires to reintroduce dream and dreamer once more.

And so it was with me recently. A friend who I hadn’t talked to in ages sent me a link for a publisher that’s opening up for new illustrators and writers until the end of Feb. She knew about my illustrator dream from a few years back, and thought she’d pass the info along in case I was interested.

I picture my expression as something like this:

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Something encompassing surprise, joy, excitement, fear, and doubt. (While surrounded by the mess of everything else.)
I’d already started considering other little artsy opportunities here and there, and subsequently started experimenting.

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But this suggested a whole new level – a style, a professional finish, and a portfolio of work.

Am I ready for this?
Where do I start?
Is there enough time?

The questions tease me while I launch into a new round of scribbling and pushing myself to expand in style and experience. I’m still very much in the thick of this space now. It’s that age-old wrestle with self about worthiness, avoiding comparing yourself with others and, at the heart of it, just taking that courageous step and saying Yes to your dream. There’s that feeling that if I don’t try, I’ll regret it. Even if it goes nowhere for now.
So my awareness of time is a little more heightened while I decide just what I’ll do (while squeezing in as many creative hours as I can!) What’s the minimum I’ll need to submit? What skills will I showcase? Does it matter that I’m self-taught?
And can I fit in this chance for Dream Career #1 while I’m living and getting deeper into Dream Career #2 (which is veeeeery different)?

Can you live 2 Dreams at once?
I sure hope so.

A thought came to me while scribbling the other night, kind of in response to a lot of the motivational quotes you see talking about ‘chasing’ your dreams.

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Maybe the ‘chase’ is what makes it run away.
What if we simply relaxed & had fun along the way? Took the pressure off ourselves? We might find that one day, much sooner than we’d ever thought, we not only ‘catch’ our dream, but we’re already living and enjoying it.

Well, for now, I have a week. We’ll see what happens 😉

2014, eh? Crack on!

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I think my New Year is still in its wrapping.
You know how you get something new and you just want to admire it for a while in all its shiny newness? Crisp, clean, free of any sticky mitts…

I’m not kidding anyone with the fact I’m dawdling, am I?

Ok, time to break open the packaging and get into 2014!

I’m not really one for New Year’s ‘resolutions’ (who wants those judgmental undertones to start the year?) but there’s a bunch of stuff I intend to do this year (I figure ‘intentions’ give me a bit of leeway – I can approach them whenever I damn well feel like it!) So here they are in pictures:

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And in words: do another market, set up an online market stall, develop my sketches and characters, practice Quenya & calligraphy…

I’ll be honest, some of it’s kind of scary for me. I still feel like a bit of a tech n00b with online things and that I’m gonna stuff things up big time! Dunno why. I grew up with computers, then shied away a bit when the internet really got booming. Now I’m playing catch up with just a teeny weeny streak of self consciousness…

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It’s funny, I’ll take artistic risks all the time. I’ll work on something important, or something where I only get one shot. I get the idea, ponder it, then – rather than do test runs and perfect it elsewhere first – I’ll pretty much launch in and see what happens. Maybe not the best way to do it. I’ve screwed up, I’ve problem-solved, I’ve rescued. But it works for me. And I’m cool with that.
Yet something like setting up a thing online, that your average 3 year old has probably mastered these days… nup.
I get intimidated.
I procrastinate.
I hide.
Weird, huh?

So yeah, time to push past all that and embrace 2014 by expanding further on the interwebs. I’ll keep you updated on my progress. Who knows, maybe it’ll help someone who’s in the same boat (even if it’s just a rather loose sense of moral support where they can think, Yay, I’m not the only one!) For others of you it might prove anywhere from entertaining to cringeworthy (I still don’t know wtf this hash tag thing is all about. No, really. #WTF?)
Suggestions and support are always welcome, however! 😉

Right, well, one of my first destinations along this year’s path is an inn called ‘Learning to Photograph One’s Stock’. (Goodness, I think I’ve just fallen into describing my life as a big fantasy adventure where there are inns and forests and magic coins and things… haha. Awesome.) But yeah, learning to photograph the stuff I make and want to sell. This is an art in itself if you want to present things in an appealing and inspiring way. Think magazine presentation vs DIY classifieds you see here and there. = Magical vision of the thing in context vs lazy snap of the thing tossed on a kitchen bench. Hmmm.
Because I’m an earthy kind of person (who is prone to medieval and fantasy references, as you now know) and some of the themes of what I create are earthy, I wanted to incorporate that in my photos. This means choosing a certain background, ‘setting’, colours, textures, and props like leaves and bark. Having access to heaps of magazines has been great for picking up ideas and inspirations that I can start to experiment with.

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Already I’ve learnt that flat = boring (box 1), the protective cello bag needs to be ditched (box 4), but the bark and branch elements are quite good (boxes 2&3). These kind of complete the vision I had when making the charms themselves.
It’s a start.
So now I’ve flitted over to the stage of defining what my online stall will be (title, themes, maybe even logo) and also making the things specifically for it. Along with that then, when ready, I’ll look at creating a good set up for photographing them. (All the while telling myself, ‘You can dooo it’ in my best Rob Schneider impression, to keep the doubt & discouragement demons at bay) Hey, whatever works, right?

Something I have got rolling already is a second blog dedicated to Nut & Arbie.

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Yeah, I know, I’ve only just started this one! But they threatened to invade it if I didn’t give them their own space! And I do rather like the excitement of starting something new (see last post).
So if the adventures of a well-endowed bully dog and a cheeky, overgrown spider appeal to you, please check out their blog: Nut & Arbie
They’ll be overjoyed.

Now to find a slab of meat and a mug of ale! (…Or a sushi and hot chocolate.)
Till next time!

Scrap Wood Made Good

So last week was a good ole play around with photographs and editing apps. There has been more of that, thanks to more apps, more time messing around, and more chocolate. The muse likes chocolate.
But this week I’ve also been getting my hands dirty (or at least dusty & roughed up a bit) with woodwork. Nothing fancy! I’d better establish that from the get go. We’re talking veeery basic – chopping & sanding, since I haven’t done any projects with wood since Year 8 (i.e. a while ago). I think I’ve even still got the money box I made, somewhere…
But why wood? Why now?
Well, I found a piece. At the side of the road. Just an old shelf with four bonus screws poking out dangerously underneath. [Insert jump for joy here] Coz one thing I’ve been wanting to try for a while is making rustic, artsy little signs (you know the ones; currently breeding like rabbits in a homewares store near you). I think they’re great. And I wanted to create some with my own sentiments and quirks, rather than the usual ones you see.
So I lugged this plank home, ignored it for a couple of weeks, and then finally decided it was time to play. (Stars aligned and stuff like that.) Thanks to Dad being a hoarder of all kinds of tools and handyman shit, I had access to: circular saw, drill, sandpaper, ruler and pencil. The last two I could’ve provided but hey, package deal.
The result: a pile of pieces to sand.

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Nut decided to supervise.

Actually very enjoyable. And I found the stain on this particular wood created an awesome effect when sanded around the edges only. Bonus!
At this point I was also thinking about ideas and effects. The experimental piece reveals some of my discoveries so far:

Sacrificed for the greater wood. Erm, good.

Sacrificed for the greater wood. Erm, good.

Scratching letters in (channelling the high school vandal I never was), looked great but took too long. Metallic gouache that I had lying around, was shit. No, really. It needs to be chucked. Should’ve known there was a reason for the markdown price. White acrylic paint looked alright but I wasn’t completely sold on it.
Then enter the hero: Ink. Precious ink! that I’d snubbed all these years for no apparent reason in favour of watercolour and acrylic and graphite. I was introduced to this marvellous medium a month or so ago by a graphic novelist at a workshop he was running. Nothing beats ink and brush for creating a damn sexy line, he’d said. I have to agree. Line work, filling in, all of that, it just feels so good with ink. Which led to this morning’s trial run on my first little sign: Hero sign
A bit of free hand calligraphy that fit – thankfully. I’d sketched it first (good idea) coz I’m notorious for just charging in, which doesn’t always work but seems to work enough that I do it more often than not. (Gambler! Rebel!)
I’m currently deciding if I’ll add anything else before finishing. As I said, this is all experimental, and I’m really hoping ink remains the hero by staying permanent and shiny and neat.
If not, well, maybe it’ll be onto plan B. The wood burning kit. Which hoarder Dad remembered (and found!!) last night. Gotta love Dad. But it does mean I’ve gotta cut him some slack re: the overflow of stuff. For now. At any rate I’ll be experimenting with wood burning next!

In other creative news: note pad fail! I’d painted pics on little notepads to sell in gift packs for Christmas, applied clear nail polish over the acrylic paint to seal it, and then this happened:

Oh nooooo!

Oh nooooo!

The whole thing has peeled off like a big sticker (which I can use for something else, I guess) – but ack! Glad I found out now rather than later. Must’ve been the particular plastic cover coz that’s never happened before.

Which leads me to a thought for the week: giving oneself permission to fail. I never used to. I’d have sooner keeled over than made a mistake, let alone tell anyone. But that’s no fun and scares the muse away (chocolate or no chocolate). So I’ve given myself permission to mess up and laugh about it. Even share it with the world. o_O
Be sure to watch this space for future f-ups, triumphs, and the joys of being creative!

Have Phone, Will Create

On that bloody phone again, are we? Addicted much? Should we book in for surgical removal yet?

Huh? Did somebody say something? Oh, hey, howz goin?

 

That happens a bit now, I’ve found. Such conversations instigated by any number of family members, or my own inner voice, at any given creative time. Coz creative time can now happen anytime and anywhere (yay!), thanks to the marvel that is smart phone + camera + (I’m now discovering) photo editing apps.

Uhh… they’ve been around for years, Kel, I hear you say, bit slow on the uptake there.

Sure it’s not a new concept, but it’s new to me. (Hell, I’ve still got Flappy the carrier pigeon roosting in retirement out back, since I finally caved in to peer pressure and got an iPhone last year.) But what can I say? I’m certainly not interested in racing anybody to high-tech land. I’m a different kind of geek, thank you very much. I’m happy with my leisurely pace and my stumbling upon things in my own sweet time.

So, stumbling upon photo editing, as I have recently, I’ve discovered a whole new world of fun. I was already pleased with the easy, portable nature of a built-in phone camera for capturing those whims and inspirations that strike at odd times.

Bush walking one afternoon...

Bush walking one afternoon…

Now I can take that moment in time, spend hours experimenting, and end up with that same moment in time, just slightly modified. Faaantastic.

After some tinkering

After some tinkering

Also what I love about this is the simplicity. When the muse comes to visit I don’t always have the hours and space to get out drop sheets and paints and brushes. Or knives, embellishments and card stock. To be able to just point, shoot & then tinker is perfect. And I figure I can tie it in with my other projects as well.

Faery Charm, anyone?

Faery Charm, anyone?

Beats pictures of food.

What I’m probably liking most is that there are all these accessible, user-friendly apps that mean streys like me can add an artsy edge to our photos without getting all fancy-pants with expensive equipment and a whole new vocabulary. (I’ve flipped through a bunch of photography mags; I have no idea what they’re talking about.) They can start to sound a bit elitist as well which my photos… are not.

Nut

Nut

This is Nut. He’s a stray too. Picked him up at the toy-animal pound (aka the local op shop) a little while back. He’s a bit of a character and likes having his picture taken, so he might feature in some more. When I catch him causing some photo-worthy trouble… (often enough).

So this week’s creative spurt has been made possible by the Camera Awesome app, which has its own set of crazy terms for things you can do to photos, plus references to unicorns and other random things. RateCameraAwesome

Haha.

What other apps have people found good/useful/fun/worthwhile? If you can peel yourself away from them long enough to reply…