Tonight, at 10:43 BST, the Sun appears to enter Cancer, as viewed from the Earth. Of course, it’s the Earth that is moving around the Sun. Today, marks the official start of summer, but it also marks the time when we have the days of most light here in the Northern Hemisphere, and we’ll soon notice there’s not quite so much daylight at the end of our days.
This year, English Heritage are live-streaming the solstice sunrise tomorrow morning on their facebook page. You’ll have to be up early (or just not go to bed!) as they start streaming from 04:07BST, with sunrise at 04:52BST. I’m certainly going to do my best to watch it. This is one of the good things to come out of the pandemic. The live stream hasn’t been done before. I would never go to Stonehenge on either Solstice as there would be too many people and far too much noise and bustle for me, but this is a nice way to see it as it happens, not recorded and shown after the fact.
I’ve always felt an affinity with the cycle of the seasons and marking the solstices and equinoxes has felt far more natural to me than any religious celebrations. The scientist in me appreciates the facts around these dates in the calendar, my heart and soul appreciate them in different ways that are personal to me.
I found this quote about the solstices, and it sums up a little bit about how I feel about them.
The artwork shows a lot more about how I’m feeling today – not quite with it, spaced out, emotional and well out of sorts. I had an idea in mind, but I just couldn’t execute it to my satisfaction today. It looks like I need another self-care day. Which is fine. I’ve learned that sometimes it’s best to go slow in order to go fast. By taking time out from commitments, I return to them in a better frame of mind and emotional state and I’m more able to fulfil them to my satisfaction for sure.
I found this appropriate quote this morning, and thought I just had to try to add some pretty art behind it, and this is what I came up with.
I worked digitally and used some symmetry tools. I’m not entirely sure about it, but it let me try things out and let my mind work out some things, including how I’ve really been doing things a hard, long and laborious way in the past, digitally speaking. All part of the learning process, of course.
Yesterday, I had to take a total self-care day. I’ve had a very stressful couple of days, and that does take its toll on me. Today I feel less emotionally overwhelmed, I can sense that touchstone of contentment inside me, and the maelstrom of emotions concerning the events has mostly calmed down, and I hope the stressful situation will have done so, for a few days at least!
Shatterpoints of change causing stress and distress for someone in my circle, and supporting through it has been…difficult and unpleasant for me. Still, I think the situation has calmed, for now at least. The quote is really relevant to this situation, far more than for this person than for me.
As difficult as it has been, I have been able to see how far along my healing journey I have come. I can also see how my relationship with myself has become so much healthier. So that’s the positive pay off for me in all of this.
Self-love is a concept that isn’t fully understood. It took me a long time to understand it, or to accept that it is possible.
Self-love isn’t about ego, grandiosity, boastfulness. It’s not about thinking you’re perfect or the most beautiful or the cleverest person in the world.
Self love is about accepting yourself as you are, strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures, mistakes and all. It’s about accepting that all these, and more, make you who you are and that it is OK to be perfectly imperfect.
It’s about learning to treat yourself kindly, not to be so hard on yourself. It’s about being compassionate towards yourself.
Self love is about nurturing yourself, taking care of the needs of your body, mind, emotion and spirituality.
It’s about having a high regard for your own happiness and well being. It’s about not sacrificing these to please others. It’s about not settling for less than you deserve, about setting healthy boundaries.
It’s a practice, some days it will be easier to do this, others a bit harder. But it’s an importance practice for mental and emotional health.
Over the past few days, I’ve had to practice a lot of self love and self care. I don’t profess to be an expert; I’m constantly learning more about it, as well as constantly having to refer back to what it means and what I need to do.
So, I thought I’d do a blog post about it, as well as some arty stuff. I’ve not done much digital art of late. I became lost in the world of watercolour and journal making and paper crafting. This morning I felt the need to do some digital art. I dug out a sheet of small designs I’d created back in January 2020 and picked one to colour. The rest just fell into place.
This index card #ICAD2020 #DYICAD2020 was a bit of fun to create.
I used a mixture of Distress Oxide inks to colour the 6″ x 4″ index card. The colours I used were Old Paper, Bundlesd Sage, Dried Marigold and Chipped Sapphire. I built the background up in two layers, with chipped sapphire lightly dragged across the texture that the spray of water from the first background created. A final spray of water, a dab with some paper towel to leave some bleached areas and the background was done.
I decided I’d go with the typography theme today, so hand-lettered monograms for each letter. I used pieces of Canson XL Bristol paper coloured either with Distress Inks or Distress Oxide inks. After spraying the paper with water, I squished some cling film onto the surface to create abstract patterns in the colour.
Anyway, I used 06 and 03 Sakura Pigma Sensei pens to draw the monograms. Once I was happy with the designs, I edged the monograms with Ground Espresso Distress Ink. Then, I glued them to some brown-ish card, and cut them out with a border. I edged the brown paper mat with Ground Espresso Distress ink.
I then set to adding pattern and colour with Paul Rubens metallic watercolour set. Tiny dots and highlights were sparingly added to the monograms. Then, I used the same 01 brush to draw patterns around each monogram in colours that picked up the background colours of the monograms.
My final step was to edge the index card with Ground Espresso Distress Ink.
This was a perfect little project to practice my hand lettering as well as trying out the Paul Rubens paints. It was also good practice at using a fine brush to draw patterns. I do think a finer brush would’ve worked better.
The scan hasn’t picked up the sparkly, shimmery gorgeousness of the metallic paints.
This was a really nice way to come round after I’d slept off yesterday’s migraine-y stress-come-down headache. It was a small project that I didn’t feel overwhelmed by and there was no pressure on me for it to be perfect, as would be the case for my contracts for coloring books. So, it helped me calm and settle and find that sense of contentment, for a while at least.
I took an index card and used Dried Marigold and Bundled Sage Distress Oxide inks to colour it. I spattered on water to create some bleached spots. Then, I edged the card with Ground Espresso Distress Ink.
I knew I wanted to draw a marigold, which is what I did. In fact, I drew a few. The large one is a French Marigold (Tagetes sp.). The others are pot marigolds (Calendula sp.)
All the drawings are quick, loose, sketchy ones using an 04 Sakura Pigma Sensei pen. I did use a pencil to roughly sketch out the flowers.
As the theme for week one of the ICAD2020 challenge is typography, I added some hand lettering. I also looked for a couple of quotes about marigolds, which I hand lettered.
Finally, I added a wash of iridescent orange and yellow watercolours to the flowers, sage-y green to the leaves. I also added some graphic lines in iridescent orange to the letters. And I couldn’t resist spattering some of the iridescent paint on the card itself.
I think I may add the ICAD2020 creations into my journal, or maybe make one from them as time goes along. No need to make a decision today, I’m not really thinking straight at the moment.
Experimenting with watercolours
I woke with another raging headache this morning. So, some art was in order until the pills kick in and I can sleep the dregs of it off.
I thought I’d try some ways of adding texture and interest to watercolour backgrounds.
Putting some clingfilm (saran wrap I think it’s called in the US) onto wet watercolour creates a lovely texture. It’s not easy to see but I used it on the pieces at the top middle and top right. This is something I will definitely be experimenting with going forward.
I also tried salt again, on fairly damp, less damp and almost dry. The darker pink tile under the Marigold ICAD was where I added salt to rather damp watercolour and the blooms are just beautiful.
I also tried using white gouache. I spattered it onto a couple of tiles, but I also used it mixed with water to paint into wet watercolour. It adds a really interesting effect, the opacity of gouache looking intriguing against the transparent watercolour.
Finally, I used a straw to blow drops of watercolour around. That was a lot of fun and really created random, abstract patterns.
I added these to my journal with notes on how I achieved the effects so I can reference them in future. Today, I may not remember much about what I’ve done, all thanks to the dratted headache. All due to stress/anxiety/worry yet again.
Over the past couple of days I’ve been playing around with watercolours. Apart from fun, it’s trying to work out how I can get them to work for me, and here you can see some of my experiments.
As well as continuing with the Domestika course, I found a book on my Kindle called “The Art of Creating Watercolor : Inspiration & Techniques for Imaginative Drawing and Painting” by Danielle Donaldson.
I’d forgotten I’d bought this, but on rediscovering it and looking at it I found it inspired me, particularly when it comes to drawing people.
What was reassuring, is that Danielle Donaldson is someone else who likes to work on a small scale! She also uses a very fin (0.3mm) pencil to draw with, but also to add line and pattern to her drawings instead of pen. I wanted to try that out.
I also really like the whimsical nature of her art, and her people inspired me to have a go. The three people in the collection of images above are inspired by her work, one more than the others. The one that is most directly like Danielle’s work is the person to the right of the trio. I used a pencil to draw the design as well as outline it after it was painted.
With the other two, I used a very fine Pitt Artist pen to outline them once the paint was dry.
Looking at them all together, I quite like the softer quality of the pencil line.
Oh, these trio are also my way of developing a version of myself. Unfortunately I look pregnant in the middle one (I’m not!), though I rather like my hair in this one – I wish my own hair was as thick and long! I really need to work on feet and foot positions.
Watercolours have vexed me, and continue to do so though I will persevere with them. Drawing people has vexed me for longer!
I’m not entirely sure that watercolour will be the best medium for me to use…I’ll try others, including digital, to see what I can get to work for me and is in my style.
I also spent sometime experimenting with monograms and botanical themes. I really like the blue foliage, and the cute tree too.
Yesterday my art and other stuff was put on hold for much of the day; I woke with a migraine and couldn’t do much until painkillers had kicked in and I could sleep away the remnants of it. Once I woke, that’s when I found the book and did some art inspired by it.
I slept quite well last night, and woke just fine and dandy today.
All these bits of art will find my way into the journal I’m making, including notes and reflections on them.
On waking this morning, I wanted to work on the cover of my journal.
Yesterday evening, I managed to get a coat of gesso on to the cover and painted edge closest to the wire binding with gold. In hindsight, that may not have been the best idea.
I knew I wanted to use my silhouette iris drawing on the cover. Irises are my favourite flowers. Also, my aim for my journal is to use my own art as much as possible.
So, I printed out an arrangement of three irises, tore them out and coloured the paper with Distress Inks.
For the background, I used a piece of Claire Fontaine mixed media paper. I coloured it with Distress Inks – Old Paper, Tea Dye, a touch of Iced Spruce and a dusting of Vintage Photo around the edges and here and there on the main sheet.
This I adhered to the cover. I’d cut it narrower than the cover so that I didn’t have to butt it up against the wire binding. That’s why I wanted a gold border there.
Anyway, I decided to put some old book paper behind the irises. I added some ink to the edges of this paper too. I then glued them in place, along with the flowers.
I drew a border around this page with a copper-coloured Sakura Metallic gelly roll pen. Then, I used a gold glitter Uniball Signo pen to fill the background with tiny spirals.
I wanted to add the definition of ‘journal’ to the front cover. So, I did the typography in Affinity Publisher and printed it. After tearing the meaning out, I used Old Paper and Tea Dye Distress Inks to colour the paper, followed by Vintage Photo to ink the edge.
I then glued this to an old book page, tore that out and edged the paper with ink once again.
Before adhering the page to the cover, edged the paper with Ground Espresso Distress Ink as I didn’t think the edge was dark enough. I also coloured the edge of the journal cover with the same ink to hide the white.
An application of Distress Micro-glaze to seal the page and I could stick it to the cover.
I love the subtle sparkle of the spiral pattern on the cover. The micro-glaze picked up some of the fine glitter. It also makes the cover sheet feel very smooth.
I’m not happy with the gold edge to the journal, but I will, no doubt, find a way to make it look much better. Otherwise, I’m quite happy with the cover. I think it needs something else there, but I’ll work out what that is in the fullness of time.
The first three pages.
Page 1 I’ve shown before, and it’s now complete (apart from me adding journaling to the envelopes and other spaces.)
On page 2, I’ve added an experiment I did with Tombow Dual Brush Pens and a blender pen to draw designs on paper. I have some ATC cards coloured in the same blues/purples as the background of this page, so I’ll be finding a way to display them on the page when I’ve finished them.
Page 3 is a tiered series of simple pockets. I made them by tearing the paper of each page and layering them to create the pockets. The inserts are pieces of Claire Fontaine Mixed media paper that have been coloured in the same colours of Distress Inks as the pockets have been. I used Distress Oxide Inks for the pockets.
I’m not really sure what I’m going to do with the third page, yet. It will come to me, I’m sure!
I thought that I’d use Adobe Spark to make a short video rather than posting a montage of photos. I uploaded it to my channel on youtube so I could share it via social media more easily.
Adobe Spark is straightforward to use, and it does have a free option, though I pay about £10 per month for it. It makes creating simple content for social media really easy.
How am I feeling
I’m feeling much better today. The headache and light-headed/dizzy/drowsy feelings were with me for the whole day, including upset tummy and digestive system. I had weird pains in my right eye too. I slept a lot during the day, and just took it easy when I was awake. I wanted to crochet in the evening but found it hard to do even something familiar to me.
My digestive system is still uncomfortable and not quite right today, and I’m now beginning to feel rather tired. Like I’ve already done too much today. So, I’m going to be taking it easy for the rest of the day.
I often wonder about the purpose of art, the purpose of my art, and can never find the words or ideas to express. So, I’ve fallen back on a favourite quote of mine from Picasso.
It embodies how I feel about creating art. Being creative helps me to dust myself off, find myself back in the present, and to find my sense of balance and contentment. Being creative is so important to me each and every day, more so during the Covid-19 crisis and lock down.
I unashamedly make art that is a reflection of what makes my heart sing – line, pattern, abstract shapes, stylised forms, colour, intricacy. I soak up inspiration from all kinds of things and process it all unconsciously and intuitively to draw and paint things that are pretty and show what I find fascinating visually and that give me a sense of wonder and awe.
My art is, and will always be, a reflection of my heart, soul and mind.
I do, however, sometimes worry that my art hasn’t anything to say about the world, that makes people think about things. That my art is just … pretty.
What the world needs now, however, is some prettiness and beauty in it to dilute the worry and fear and ugliness that abounds. I’d like to think that my art helps in that process just a little.
Today’s mandala and typography were created digitally. I usually use a background from one of the collections I’ve purchased online, but today I used one I created. I used Affinity Publisher to produce the typography and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro for the artwork. My tools are by Microsoft – Surface Slim Pen and Surface Studio.