It’s Friday…


This week, I’ve been doing my best to get images drawn for the Eerie themed book.  Various appointments and just generally feeling down and unwell have got in the way, and today hasn’t been much better.

I have spent sometime drawing a ‘DoodleWorlds’ image, which is sitting in a file on my computer to be re-drawn and so on.

The zentangle kind of thingy above is something I’ve done not too long ago.  I drew the design using Sakura Micron pens and a white Sakura Gelly roll pen on natural coloured Mixed Media Paper from Claire Fontaine.  The paper size is 10cmx14cm.

Last weekend, I created this bit of art work:


It was’s 17th Birthday and a challenge was set there.  I wanted to have a go as it was a bit of a challenge, it let me try out new techniques/ides with Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and my Surface Book and Surface Pen, but mostly it’s because deviantART is where various editors/publishers/artwork managers have found my art and engaged me to do work for them.  That is the reason I was able to leave teaching, how I’m able to look after my mental health more, and to find a different way of life as well as being able to heal.

Thank you deviantART! And thank you everyone else who has believed in me, my work, and given me opportunities, even when I’ve not believed in myself, my ability, or the quality of my work.  And thank you everyone who has bought the books and stamps and so on … I am so grateful.

Happy 2017, and a personal review of 2016


See the end of the post for the line art version if you’d like to download, print and copy for yourself!

I know, it’s a little early, but I thought I’d post this today, as well as a bit of a personal review of the past year.

2016 has been an interesting year for me, one of some major changes in my life.

It started with me being a science teacher, off again on long-term sickness due to a recurrent bout of intense anxiety and depression.  I was so distressed about having to return to work as a teacher, about what else I could do.  I couldn’t think straight.  My capacity to read and understand what I was reading or remember it was severely impaired.  I had trouble going out of my home.  Anything to do with my job caused me an intensifying of these symptoms and the most distressing nightmares I’ve ever had.

Teaching has changed so much in the 28 years I was a science teacher.  The pressures have increased, both in terms of workload and behaviour/attitudes of the students that is a reflection of how society has changed too. All of this resulted in triggers for my depression/anxiety/low self-esteem/low confidence.being overwhelmed by even little things.  No matter how well people told me I was doing as a teacher (senior teachers, colleagues, inspectors (I never had less than outstanding in the last two inspections I was seen teaching in), I never believed them and thought it was just a fluke.

Because of this, I kind of knew that I’d have to leave teaching, but didn’t know if I could do so financially.  I’m single, responsible for all my bills and so on, so whatever I did I had to make sure I had some kind of financial security.

Eventually, I made the decision to leave teaching and to become a self-employed artist/illustrator based on the success of the adult colouring books I’ve done (of which there are now many – listed on my amazon author page), and that happened in the early part of the summer, officially.

This was, arguably, the best decision I’ve made for a long time.  The difference it is making to my mood/mental health, as well as progress in counselling is quite remarkable.  My only worry at the moment is my first tax return and tax bill in the early part of next year!

I know I have a lot to do to create a portfolio and to come up with projects that will keep contracts coming my way, but I do have some breathing space at the moment, with just one book to be completed asap.

On the back of this decision, my home had a major clear out, again in the early summer.  Though it’s not entirely finished, enough progress has been made for now. I now need to have a major de-stash of art materials to make space for either new, or just easier organisation of the materials i use most often.

I also discovered I have quite strong views politically about how our society should be a lot more caring of those who need help, for whatever reason, and how important the British NHS is and how much more it should be valued by those in power in the country, and not just seen as a cash cow for their buddies and supporters.  It took me a long time, but I finally worked out that my beliefs/views politically mostly aligned themselves with the traditional Labour Party (not ‘new Labour’, which seems to me just a lighter shade of blue than the Conservative Party).  So, I joined the Labour Party.  Yet to make it to my first meeting, but no doubt I will do.

I also have become involved with Time to Change Wales as a Champion.  This is an organisation whose campaign is to end the stigma and discrimination that surrounds mental illness.  I’ve yet to tell my story at an event, but that’s on the cards for sometime in the early part of 2017.  Again, this is something I have strong feelings about, especially the self-stigma that prevented me from recognising and accepting I had a mental illness (complex post traumatic stress disorder(cptsd)) and seeking help.

I am really grateful that I did recognise the cptsd, and have made the major change of going self-employed as a way of looking after myself and being happy in how I earn a living, and it doesn’t even seem like work most of the time!

I’m grateful for those who have stuck with me through thick and thin, offering me the support and encouragement that they are able to.

I’m grateful to those who have created difficult circumstances for me, and those circumstances have either shown me how far I’ve come along in healing, or where I need to focus some attention on as my counselling continues.

So, thank you 2016 for moving me forward in my life with the challenging events, for showing me how far I’ve come along in my healing journey, and for the fun and laughter that have helped me keep going.

Thank you to all those who have believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself, who have given me amazing opportunities to create and share art with others via the medium of adult colouring books, and I look forward to all the opportunites that come along in 2017 for me to continue to create and share with others.

Here, as promised, is the line art for the image above.  If you’d like to download/print and colour, please do so.  All I ask is you respect my copyright, you use it just for personal use, not for commercial gain, and if you share your coloured image, please link back to my blog.Enjoy, and thank you!


Philosophical thoughts stemming from a chat about tea.

Tea is always good! I always enjoy my first mug of the day, slowly coming around from a night’s sleep, and nothing beats that freshly brewed mug of tea when you get in from a day’s work. That big, relaxing, comforting sigh that accompanies the first sip is a wonderful thing, a switch from stressful times to more relaxed times. We often miss the little wonderful things in life that bring us moments of pleasure throughout the day, instead we focus on the big, important things, good or bad.  We feel that we should only tell others of the big things going on, things that sound important, things that sound hugely interesting.  We believe that much of our day to day lives are unimportant or uninteresting to others.

However, perhaps it is time we all reflected on those moments of peace, of pleasure, of love, of joy, of friendship, of satisfaction, of success, of good news from others or of ourselves, no matter how small or how big,  that pepper our day and shared them with others and with an air of gratitude.  By doing this, maybe we will realise, that no matter how tough life can get, there are still sparkles in the seemingly all pervading darkness that are there to brighten the dark, to help us through the tougher times, and help others to make their way through them too by reminding them to look for their own sparkles.

Perhaps by looking for a few sparkles of goodness, we then start to see more and more and more, and perhaps the darkness we tend to wallow in, believing life has to be a struggle, life has to be difficult, life has to be filled with sadness and troubles and woes, isn’t all that dark after all.  Instead there is a balance between the sparkles and the dark that we can find by not ignoring the darkness, but by shifting our attention to looking for the sparkles and the bright moments in a healthy, balanced manner.

Perhaps it is by finding the balance, or by discovering the the density of the bright sparkles is a little greater than the darkness of the tough times, that we discover that we are truly wealthy; things, possessions, quick-fix addictive behaviours may give a quick burst of brightness that hides the gloom for a while, but the true wealth lies in things that money can’t buy.  The smile and laugh and chatter shared with another human being that we barely notice because we are thinking of what needs to be done and how we are going to do it, the glorious beauty of a glowing sunset that we miss because we are rushing from one thing to the next, the kindnesses received and given and barely noticed because we take it for granted, the compliments and praise given by a friend or co-worker or acquaintance that we usually brush away…

The list is endless, isn’t it?

So, what do you have to be grateful for in your life?  Don’t just look for the big things, the obvious things, look for the little things, the little sparkles that are easy to overlook that happen continually throughout each waking moment of every day.