Christmas Colouring In

At 45 years of age, I know that Christmas in December shouldn't come as a surprise to me.  But each year in September I think, "Right, autumn is on it's way. THIS year I'm going to be so organised.  I'm going to have Christmas sorted by November 5th."

And then, I enter some kind of trance.  My mind occupied with thoughts of cracking out my big pants now that the cold weather has arrived, and my time spent grumbling about how cold my butt cheeks get, never warming up 'til mid-June.  Then, generally around 3 weeks before Christmas, I snap out of my Cold Weather Coma and my thought patterns go something like this...

"Sweet Christmas Pudding and all the Pine Cones!  Where the eff did October and November go? I need to do some Christmas shopping. Oh, for the love of tinsel, where did I put those Christmas cards I bought back in January?"

Just to let you know I came out of my Cold Weather Coma today and after mentally doing a "Chicken Licken" for a good few minutes, I realised I had itchy art fingers again.  

So, I decided to do some doodling in my art journal.  And this is what appeared on the page...


A Christmas wreath.

The preparations for Christmas can be stressful for everyone.  What better way to relax than with a pile of coloured pens and a wee spot of colouring in?  I've never lost my love of colouring in and I figure a lot of other folk out there haven't either...

So, feel very free to print off and colour in this Christmas wreath.  To help you chill out on long winter nights once the children are in bed.  Or to colour in with the children as a lovely Christmas decoration for your home.  You could get really creative and turn it into small Christmas cards, or decorations for your tree, or link several small ones together to make a dangling "string of wreaths" or wreath bunting!  I'd love to see what you create.

You're welcome to use my wreath drawing in whatever creative way helps you chill out. A gift from me to you. If you're a teacher, feel very free to photocopy it for your class to get them practising their fine motor skills in the wind-down to the Christmas holidays.  All I ask is that you don't use my wreath art for re-sale purposes.  

Sending love and Christmas happiness to your neck of the woods.

  

Eye Eye

Thank you for all your warm words, support and feedback. I love reading your comments. You make a big difference to me on this creative journey and I really appreciate your coming by to see what I've been up to.

Eric and Ernie are enjoying playing out in the garden now that the weather has warmed up a bit, and I've been taking a cuppa, my art journal and a cluster of pencils out with me into the garden to sketch for a few minutes while I watch them play. I love the fresh, cool air.

I like to sit with my bare feet on the grass. It's freezing, so it wakes me the heck up, but it also feels good. I read somewhere once, I can't remember where, that when we walk barefoot on the ground we are connected to all the animals out in the world that are doing the same. I like to think of all the big, lollopy lions who are out there somewhere treading barefoot on the ground too.

Yes. These are the kinds of thoughts that roll round my head. Nervous?

I'm on to my next drawing ambition.

To draw a detailed portrait. Showing light and shade, full features. Without the person looking as if they are gurning...

So, in preparation, I've begun doing detailed pencil studies of different facial features. Starting with an eye.

If you're a bit queasy about close-ups of an eye, step back from your desk now...

Scan of drawing

I used a simple HB, alongside two coloured pencils in black and grey.  

Photo of drawing
I'm off now to have a go at a nose, ear, mouth and eyebrow.  This whole exercise feels like some twisted Mr. Potatohead game!

What have you been up to?

Something Magical

I've always been a bit of a thinker.

I can remember being 6 or 7 years old and pondering the age old questions "Why are we here?" and "Do we get more than one go at being here?" I remember very clearly being in the back of the car, with my parents up front driving along the motorway, pondering these thoughts as I looked out of the window. Y'know, the way you do.

It doesn't take much for me to find myself having a good old ponder about something or other that's popped into my head. Pulling at the proverbial thought string and then tying myself up in knots, 'til I come out the other end, either feeling a lot clearer about something or being absolutely none the wiser.  I genuinely like thinking.

Since getting ill, the one thing that I've had in abundance, is time to think. And one of the things I've realised is that there can be a lot of stuff rolling round in my mind that perhaps isn't always doing me any favours.

When your body won't do what you want it to do, the very means by which you move through life becomes out of your control.  Life itself feels much more fragile, much less safe. Things become very basic.  The small things in life become mountains to climb.  Especially when you're experiencing pain and physical discomfort.

Before I got ill, if I was feeling a  bit blue, I'd get myself into the great outdoors and go for a good walk. Pondering all the lovely things I was seeing along the way.  Birds, flowers, leaves, the sunshine.  Or I'd take a dance class, go swimming, or rock climbing.  Generally do something physically demanding until I felt lifted again.  It worked well, and I never had any weight issues as the more I worried about stuff, the more physical exercise I did.

Not much of an option when you haven't got enough energy to scratch an itch...

At the beginning of last year when I was feeling particularly overwhelmed I started doodling, as a way of passing the time, and keeping myself upbeat.   It's very easy to get very low, and find yourself feeling worried, isolated and alone if you let your thoughts run away with you.  And my thoughts were running away with me. I realised I needed to find a new way of expressing myself that didn't involve high kicks.

Drawing and painting were the love of my life, alongside ballet, when I was a child.  I took art as an exam subject whilst at school and struggled to understand what was expected of me by the exam board and teachers at school.  I passed my art exams but in the process lost a lot of confidence in my abilities.  Picking up pens and pencils and committing anything to paper became a bit of an issue for me.  Was I doing it right? Was what I was drawing any good?  I had somehow become really critical of my own drawing and painting skills and couldn't seem to let go of those critical ideas.

Last year, scared stiff and feeling vulnerable, I decided it was time to let go of the bully inside my head who was giving me a really hard time whenever I wanted to draw or paint anything.  I picked up pens and pencils and started to get what ever was in my head out onto the paper without thinking about whether it was any good or not.  My only plan?  To fill the paper with fun and colour.

Something magical started to happen.  No matter how overwhelmed I was feeling, no matter how many scary thoughts were floating around in my head, when I picked up my art journal and started to doodle, my mind calmed down. So I kept picking up the pens, even if only for short blocks of time.

Very unexpectedly, and to my great delight, I discovered I had found something that gives me as much joy as dancing ever did.

But I still had a nagging doubt at the back of my mind.  "You've never painted on canvas.  Artists paint on canvas.  What if you can't do that?"

As a result of this persistent doubt, I'd never painted on canvas in case I was s**t at it and I would then have to let go of my dream of "really" being able to draw and paint. Waving it off sadly, while blowing my nose noisily into a lace-lined hanky, and silently sobbing to myself.  I'm nothing if not quietly dramatic.

Then, in January, I thought,  "Screw that!  If I never put a paintbrush onto canvas I'm never going to know.  I might very well be ruddy bloody good at it."

So I sat down and over the past few weeks, I've had a go on three small canvases I had in my house.

Have you ever found that a huge fear you had was completely unfounded?

My First Nude!

It was only a matter of time, when I started drawing and painting a few months ago, before I came up against my nemesis; drawing and painting from still life, particularly the human figure, and, very particularly, a nude.

As you may recall, my art teacher at school was frequently heard to utter the words "Emma, draw what you see, not what you think you see!" and I was perpetually confused as to what she meant.  I understood there was some kind of processing problem going on as what I drew on the page didn't look anything like what I was seeing before me, but I couldn't figure out what the David Dickenson I was doing wrong.

For the past few months I have gainfully avoided drawing figures wherever possible, and when I have taken the plunge, I've elongated them and played with them, to make them look cartoonish.

My butterfly boy was my first attempt to get bodily proportions right, and when he didn't look like something Picasso had painted during his cubist era, I was pleased.

Today I decided to face down the dragon and draw a nude.  From a photo, you understand.  It's been below freezing here in the UK and to ask a friend to strip down to the billy-buff for my art just seemed cruel. Although a good friend did volunteer...  Maybe next time.


I was focused on her back and buttocks to see if I could get the light and shade right without too much detail, so I'm aware her hair looks like a woolly hat my nan used to wear in the 70's and her toes are a bit weird, but overall I think she's not too shabby.

I'm still working on my adult male butterfly dude.  This nude was my attempt to start getting body proportions right before cracking on with him.  I'll post him as soon as he's done.

How is your weekend going?  It's been snowing here.  Eric and Ernie are disgusted with the weather, although watching Ernie slip on a patch of ice as he trotted down the garden path trying to look dignified did make me smile.

I hope you're warm and snuggly wherever you are.


A Butterfly Dude!

After my last post, my Significant Other, Steve, asked me if I'd paint a boy butterfly to fly with my girl butterfly. I know. He's gorgeous.

Having never painted a boy, ever, I didn't know if I could do it.

Painting female features feels easier to me. Eyelashes, rosy cheeks, red lips. We're good to go. I wasn't sure how to capture male features. I decided to start by painting a little boy, as I figured male and female children's features aren't that different from each other.

I also decided to make this a heavier mixed media piece to see if I could handle Caran D'Ache water soluble pastels and Inktense watersoluble pencils. I've used them before, but only the lighter colours in small doses. I wanted to see how they worked on larger spaces, blended with Tombow brush pens and watercolour paints.. I also wanted to use some words cut from a vintage encyclopedia I have.  Printed in the 1930's the text and paper quality is gorgeous and I wanted to add it to the painting.

Here he is.  He's called Arabis, and he's a butterfly flower nymph.  Mainly because my 1930's encyclopedia had those words in it.  I was hoping for "Joy", "Hope" and "Love" but no joy.  Literally.

Arabis is a little flower that flourishes in the tiny corners of rock gardens.  That made me smile.

My next drawing challenge is to try and paint an adult dude.  With butterfly wings that suit him.  This is no mean feat.  I'll let you know how it's going and will share him with you as soon as he's finished.  If you have any good tips on how to draw and paint male figures, they'd be very gratefully received! Again, huge thanks in advance.

I hope all is good with you?


Sending smiles,
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