Archive for November, 2018

Live painting at The Art House Cafe, 6/11/18

I was invited to paint a table at The Art House in Southampton last night along with another local artist, Dave Hubble. It was also a chance for me to deliver a recent commission to the cafe – a series of butterfly and caterpillar watercolours that are being used for the different reward tiers on their Patreon page.

I had so much fun painting the table with a really colourful bird themed design using acrylics and glitter! It gave me lots of energy and ideas for future illustrations and made me want to get back in to acrylic painting. (I had to use it so much during my A-Levels that I’ve been avoiding it up until now!). Thinking back to yesterday’s blog post I’d love the Harbour Lights Exhibition to be a celebration of discovery and the contrasts that come with being highly senstive. Big, bold, bright studies of colourful birds with more delicate eggs and feathers.


Introvert, artist and highly sensitive person…

I have recently found out (but probably known on some level my whole life) that I am an introvert and a highly sensitive person. It’s been a revolutionary discovery, makes a lot of sense and something I find totally fascinating. I wanted to write about this because it’s not something that many people know or talk about and I’m sure it’s pretty common for highly creative people to be introverted and sensitive.

In short, you feel and are aware of everything at once, all of the time. It can be completely overwhelming but also a huge positive, especially when it comes to making artwork and researching. I’ve also put this awareness and sensitively to use when it comes to teaching and networking as it makes me a good listener with the ability to empathise with students in order to understand how they learn best. I notice changes in atmosphere very easily and know when someone needs help or doesn’t understand what I’m trying to communicate. The downside is that I can find lots of things more tiring that most people would but I’m trying to learn lots about self care so that I can minimize the effects on my own wellbeing. Generally having more awareness is helping me to maintain good energy levels and means that I know when I need some alone time to recharge.

One of the best resources I’ve found over the last month is a podcast called ‘Introvert Dear’ founded by Jenn Granneman. Jenn and the co-hosts discuss all sorts of subjects related to being an introvert and highly sensitive person including self care, travelling, creativity, alone time, writing and relationships. It has been incredible to listen to people talk about these subjects and their feelings in a way that I can completely understand. This whole process has felt a bit like ‘coming out’ – I’m learning so much about myself and other people too! I see the traits of being a highly sensitive person as qualities that I can use to my advantage rather than negative behaviours that I should change. Certain aspects can be quite debilitating but I’m learning which situations overwhelm me and how I can look after myself when I feel over stimulated. Generally I’m doing well but there are periods where I don’t notice the ‘bottle being shaken up’ before it’s too late and I have to let it all out or I get completely exhausted.

Having a good routine is a big help – getting up early, taking the dog for a walk, dedicated studio days for making art, blogging or admin, teaching, spending time in the garden, baking, cooking etc.

I used to meditate more regularly than I do now but find it hard to fit it in to my day, remember to do it or have the motivation to do so. Perhaps it would be better to go to a meditation class once a week or someting? I suppose the worst thing to do is beat myself up when I don’t stick to a routine because that undoes all the good work!

My new awareness of what it is to be an introvert and highly sensitive person is informing and inspiring lots of new creative ideas which I’d love to show at an exhibition I have confirmed for March/April 2019 at the Harbour Lights Cinema in Southampton. The subjects and themes I’m considering so far are eggs, feathers, cracks, sensitivity, incubation, introversion, perfection and imperfection. I have previously looked at eggs for my project about the Westwood Nature Reserve and my Dad’s egg collection and after going back through some old sketchbooks and blog posts I realised that this is something I’d like to explore further.


Koestler Trust Exhibition at the South Bank Centre

On Sunday 4th November I caught the last day of the Koestler Trust Exhibition at the South Bank Centre in London. It’s my third year in a row and I am always amazed at the talent, creativity and originality of the artworks. All pieces are made by prisoners, youth offenders or mental health patients and it’s wonderful to see how these people are using art to express their emotions, experience, interests, passions and opinions. It is an emotional experience seeing first hand how time, materials, tuition, support and opportunity can ‘bring out’ such incredible paintings, drawings, prints, crafts, sculptures and recordings and in turn improve prisoners or patients mental health and wellbeing. We were given a fantastic tour by an ex-offender called Christopher who was so engaging, funny and warm. He has an obvious love of art and really believes in what creativity can do for the soul. His fresh interpretation of the selected works and choice of language made the tour accessible for everyone.

Christopher said that this piece, which was the most colourful and vibrant in the exhibition, is a reflection of all prisoners love of nature. Apparently inmates are always transfixed by nature documentaries (especially those narrated by David Attenborough like Blue Planet) because it’s something that everyone misses. He said ‘we’re all human’ and no matter what your past is we can’t escape the fact that we are all animals and we all have a connection with one another and the natural world. His particular favourite was a show about Meerkats! Nature and art are something can brings us all back to the same place. Documentaries transport inmates to another world outside of the prison or hospital walls – a temporary escape.

I’m Still Here

A drawing by a mother of her with her children because she misses them so much. I loved this piece – such a beautiful use of pastels to give us an insight into one of her most treasured memories. The marks are sensitive, bold and dynamic. It’s drawn in quite a child-like naive style. So emotive.

A collaborative piece by a group of young people. The many faces of mental health disorders, split personality, schizophrenia, anger, paranoia…A showcase of these young people’s creativity, skill, teamwork and original ideas. I thought this would be a fantastic image to show the medical humanities students in February. An example of 3D characters but also characters that communicate/represent different health topics.

One of my favourite pieces from the exhibition – there is so much integrity in the mark making and the soft colours and contours are evocative of sand dunes or the human body. Again, an intimate and sensitive piece of art.

I’d love to try using embroidery hoops to create artwork for my exhibition in April. Perhaps with typography, birds or eggs on them using embroidery stitches and felting techniques.

I thought this piece would be a great example for a future workshop – photocopying the same drawing 25 times and then using different styles and media to manipulate the image in a sort of metamorphosis.

Another idea for a workshop? Abstracting part of a scene and keeping the main focus realistic. I love the simple unrealistic colours and shapes of the tree in contrast with the squirrel.