My art journey so far

Here is my art journey so far and exactly what art means in my life.

This used to be a page on my site, but I feel as if this part of my journey is over, and I am starting on a new phase of my life, where this is no longer so relevant… so I am taking it down but sharing it with you today. 

I did a GCSE and an A level in art, but I never really stood out until I found my talent for painting animals.

My Godmother asked me if I would have a go painting her late dog, Hattie, back in July 2009.
I agreed I would have a go, but warned her not to expect much!

I was wrong. I am still particularly proud of the nose and mouth, and I must admit, I admire it every time I go round.

hattie ARTbyIMI

I gave it to her as a thank you for tutoring me through my French A level.
It was the first time I have ever seen her speechless.

I started my first year of university and forgot about art for a year. I was too wrapped up in first-year-fun. But when my Grandpa commissioned me to paint him a tiger in Winter 2010, I jumped at the chance.
First-year-fun was matched with first-year-funds (or lack of) after all.

Raja ARTbyIMI

He hung it proudly in his conservatory and
it gave him great pleasure to look at.

With a free time on my hands the next February, I turned the living room of my house at university into my own personal art workshop, to the slight amusement / annoyance of my friends.

Ernie ARTbyIMI

Ernie the kingfisher was created really within the space of a couple of days, and I gave him as a gift to my dad who has always loved birds, especially kingfishers.
In fact, he is such a bird-swot, he discovered by the markings on the beak that Ernie was, in fact, female.

I finished my second year at university with a high 2:1,
and immediately started another painting in June 2011, having well and truly regained my thirst to create.

kingfisher ARTbyIMI  

This is my personal favourite, and it hangs on my wall. I don’t think I will ever sell it.

That summer I worked at a summer camp as a Creative Art Activity Instructor. It was the most carefree six weeks of my life so far, playing, laughing and teaching children how to make tortoises out of plasticine (among other equally useful skills).

In September 2011, I created a new project, which was a greater spotted woodpecker after seeing one in the garden.

woodpecker ARTbyIMI

This painting gets the most compliments as being “like a photograph”.
I have used it to form my logo for my business.

After starting back for my third year at university, things went downhill really really quickly. Stress and worry made me very ill, which made me stressed, worried and more ill.. I didn’t do much for the term other than worry a lot and (thankfully) work a lot in the library.
My confidence took a huge knock, and I became… someone meek and self absorbed who wasn’t really me.

I was asked to do a painting of my boyfriend’s grandmother’s dog, which I started tucked away in my room away from everyone. It stopped me from worrying too much, as my mind is a lot clearer when I paint.
Morris ARTbyIMI
It was then transported half-finished down south for the Christmas holidays. I finished it on Christmas day 2011, sprawled in front of the TV with my mum and dad, before heading round to my boyfriend’s house to present it.

I very quickly got asked to paint his grandmother’s partner’s dog too, which I pencilled out and painted within about 48 hours in February 2012 when things were all getting a bit too much.
I remember it being a rare worry-free day, and I felt like myself again as I painted it.

Basil ARTbyIMI

This painting again got a lot of compliments.

The owner was very pleased with it and showed it off to his fellow dog-walkers.

During Easter 2012, I volunteered at an Art-based therapy workshop. It was open to help support people who experienced mental distress, such as depression, substance addiction and chronic illness. It was very therapeutic for me to be around people who were being healed through art, and it helped me to snap out of my self pity.

I was able to submit a painting into their annual exhibition for all workers, volunteers and members. I created a painting of a puffin, who I named “Little Brother” after the Latin name. Apparently their white and black feathers look like monks robes.

Little brother ARTbyIMI

I was slowly beginning to heal. My confidence started to return as I realised I was still interesting, talented and worth knowing. Art played a huge part in that due to its ability to quieten my mind, fill me with pride, and bring happiness to others.

I then went back to university to sit my final exams.
They were tough, but I coped well, and was much more myself again.

I graduated with a first class degree and immediately got offered a job.
Things were beginning to fall back into place again.

I decided to paint my boyfriend a large painting for his 23rd birthday in August 2012.
It was a personal challenge because I am used to painting animals.
I got it framed and I am very pleased with how it turned out.
Planes ARTbyIMI

It is in pride of place on his wall.
He told me that if he saw it in a shop he would have wanted it :)

After a few weeks at my new job, I showed a few people my paintings on my phone.
I got a lot of compliments around the office about my talent.

My mentor at work had her first wedding anniversary approaching in September 2012.
She commissioned me to paint a lemur to give to her husband for a present.
The couple got married in Marwell Zoo and are animal mad.

It took me between 30-40 hours work. The pressure was on truly on!
I really wanted to create something beautiful for my first non-family commission.

Lemur ARTbyIMI

It was put on the wall at work for a day while my ego inflated.
She loved it, as did her husband, and I got personal thanks from them both.

I was learning fast at work, and was given more and more responsibility, but I still found the time to paint another puffin.
It took me many weeks to find stolen hours to finish before I was finally happy with the result.

puffin ARTbyIMI

I sold this painting to my Godmother; it is currently in her lounge near her golden retriever (the beginnings of a collection!)

Towards the end of 2012, my painting life hotted up! I worked after work and stolen hours at weekends to complete this painting for my nutritionist.

Frosts ARTbyIMI

She was thrilled when I presented it to her.
It is already up on the wall in her office space for everyone to see.

I got approached by a man at my work who had heard about my art.
He asked me if I would paint him a cat for his wife’s Christmas present.
The painting was quite a challenge, especially getting the face right, as I had not painted cats before.
Spike ARTbyIMI

The painting went down a storm with his wife, who “thinks the cat is really there” every time she sees the painting.

I managed to sneak in another Christmas commission for my mentor at work, a repeat customer, previous owner of my lovely lemur. It was a present for her in-laws, of their little terrier, Rosie.

Rosie ARTbyIMI

She absolutely loved it, and I heard that her in-laws loved it too and thought it was the “spitting image” of their cute little dog.

I found out about the British Wildlife Competition online and was very keen to enter, under the category of “World Birds”.
I created this painting of a golden pheasant on a large canvas.
Golden pheasants are bizarre, how on earth an orange feathered, purple-tipped, yellow Mohawk-ed bird adapted I do not know, but it was a pleasure and a big challenge to paint.

goldenpheasantjan13wm

I didn’t get shortlisted. Oh well. Mum does love having the painting on her wall!

My Godmother commissioned me to paint her current Golden Retriever, Annie, to hang next to Hattie. Life got in the way during this painting, so it took me a couple of weeks for me to complete it. The eye took me about five hours of painting and repainting for me to finally be happy. Painting was not as relaxing as normal during those hours!!

Annie ARTbyIMI

The two dogs will look very fine together on her wall. 

Since painting the golden retriever, I have thrown more and more time into forwarding my business and really getting my name out there. I have got a stall booked for a local fayre so have been busy ordering giclée prints and greeting cards and setting up a Newsletter! I am seeing it as a big investment in my future!

I decided my next painting would be a Tawny Owl. When it was just 1/3 finished, it was reserved by an interested buyer! It was such a challenge but a true pleasure to paint! I named it Nelson, after my Grannie who loved all owls.
IMG_1563
Nelson has been bought and will soon be jetting off to Canada to mark the beginning of IMI paintings overseas! 

Still thrown into fayre preparations, I found time to paint a cute jackass penguin on a 50x50cm canvas. The sea and sand were the biggest challenge for me, as they required a lot of persistence and patience.

Penguin ARTbyIMI

I was so pleased with how it turned out! 

Most recently, I have painted a little King Charles Cavalier Spaniel. I rushed to get it completed before the fayre so that he could come with me and cheer me on.
Bertie ARTbyIMI

Maybe due to the painting or due to me, the fayre was a success and I got a lot of lovely comments. The owner came to pick up her painting on Tuesday and I received a hand written note of thanks stating how much she loves it. 

I am working on a couple of projects at the moment but they are secret and not ready to share!!

I feel as though I am moving forward… painting and my art business has gone from being my calm-down activity into a full blown lifestyle.

I am so much happier and healthier and back to ME again.

One day I will conquer the art world, but for now, at least I have sort of conquered myself!!

 

Have you ever noticed a beginning to a new phase of your life? Have you given your site an overhaul as it no longer felt like you?

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A month of paint

Painting is one of the activities I love the most. I feel happy when I know I have an afternoon with a film and a paintbrush… with company nearby if I need it! It is also a huge part of my healing and emotional wellbeing journey, as it quiets my mind and fills me with a sense of calm. I harp on and on about all the benefits and how much I enjoy it… but I haven’t actually done any at all for weeks.

Last week I was in Austria skiing which I guess is a fairly valid excuse. Paints are heavy, and I had very little time left in my day after skiing, swimming, supper, sauna, steam rooms and sleep (I know… what a hard life!). I don’t have any excuse for my days in England, apart from… I just couldn’t motivate myself to get the paints out after a day at work. Too much faff. Awful from a girl who wants to make a career out of this faff!!Image

Starting from April 1st, I am making it my mission to spend at least an hour a day painting or creating for the whole month. This may not sound too taxing, but other commitments such as a full time job, zumba, friends home for the Easter break and weekends with the boyfriend will make this pretty tricky. I will whip out my watercolour pencils at lunch or on the train, curl up in front of the TV after work with my box of acrylics and a chunky canvas, or use my long neglected sketchbook round at my boyfriend’s.

I don’t have any commissions in the pipeline (it’s the perfect time to swoop if you want a painting) so I will paint a range of recent photographs (such as beautiful shots of the Austrian Alps) kingfishers, owls, ducks and whatever takes my fancy. They will just have to decorate my room until they find a permanent home! If anyone has any other suggestions or photographs they have taken that would make a great piece of art, please please contact me!

I will document my progress weekly on my blog, sharing photos of my creations and weighing up the stress of finding time for obligatory art with the emotional benefits that painting brings.

Image

Stay tuned for my month of paint!

Taking back Lancaster

A big part of me blamed Lancaster for last year. I associated it with sadness, loneliness and pain when it really did nothing to deserve it (except rain a lot.) When I returned down south for holidays or long weekends, I clung to home and became very fearful of travelling up north again back to that place. One journey (I had been worrying about it for days) I became more ill and uncomfortable the further north I got – eyes watering in pain as I got into Lancaster again. It was a very physical sign of fear and overwhelm. Not just the workings of an insane woman.

When I graduated, I bid Lancaster farewell – not as fearful of it, but the association still deeply ingrained.

This time was different. I played out the best possible scenario of the weekend in my head, deciding it was definitely achievable. I drew on the train in watercolour pencil, which further set my mind at rest.

IMAG0865_1[1] IMAG0866[1]

As my train rolled into Lancaster station, I looked around in nostalgia (probably helped by the lack of rain!). I walked down the hil into town and saw that the market was on, packed with people selling their wares. I remembered happy visits in first and second years, tasting the variety of food available, stocking up on fresh vegetables, checking out the brick a brack of soap, scarves, jewellry, old books… dog treats…

Walking up the hill towards my friends house, I passed a restaurant we had visited to celebrate the end of exams in second year, the town hall, the cathedral and the memorial. Genuinely happy to be back.

That evening I visited my old friends, the same crowd that stuck together throughout the three years of university. Things clicked into place again and it felt like we had never been apart, despite me being fairly vacant for months last year.

We went out to the same club we frequented so many times over the years. I didnt drink a drop of alcohol but I bounced around, giddy to be surrounded by these people again in this familiar place. I made myself believe before we set off that it would be okay, and it was!

On arriving home again I was greeted by some very sad news. I’ve had a victory this week though, I took back Lancaster!

“So how was your 2012?”

“So how was your 2012?”

…seemed to be a pretty standard question floating around last night.
Mine was ok. Not brilliant. But it saved itself in the last half.

So here are a few of my highlights, and let us forget all the bad, hard and sad parts because they no longer matter!

I painted this in February 2012, to the delight of the owner.

I painted this in February 2012, to the delight of the owner.

dissertation

I wrote and submitted a 10,000 word dissertation, gaining a first class mark.

I watched my boyfriend graduate his phase 2 training.

I watched my boyfriend graduate his phase 2 training.

I painted some puffins in some stolen free time.

I painted some puffins in some stolen free time.

I I spemt a carefree week partying after my final exams with all my university friends

I spent a carefree week partying after my final exams with all my university friends. In fancy dress. My favourite.

I went on the harry potter studio tour with a close friend, where the phrase of the day seemed to be "MIND BLOWN!"

I went on the harry potter studio tour with a close friend, where the phrase of the day seemed to be “MIND BLOWN!”

I started my job and got to go down the tunnels in the underground. Dressed in orange.

I started my job and got to go down the tunnels in London  Underground. Dressed in orange.

graduation

Two weeks after starting my job, I graduated with a first class degree, in front of my family and boyfriend.

I went to the Olympic games with the lovely boyfriend, and the Paralympics with my mum

I went to the Olympic games with the lovely boyfriend, and the Paralympics with my mum!

I painted the red arrows for my boyfriends birthday present. It was mainly painted while on skype to him, under the guise of "another puffin..."

I painted the red arrows for my boyfriends birthday present. It was mainly painted while on skype to him, under the guise of “another puffin…”

jk

I “met” (in the loosest sense of the word) my idol JK Rowling ❤ I couldn’t say anything more to her than “THANKS” but I didn’t meant thanks for signing my book, I meant thanks for making my childhood magical…

I painted my nutritionists greyhound / whippet

I painted my nutritionists greyhound / whippet

I have so far been commissioned to do 3 paintings for work colleagues.

I painted three commissions  for work colleagues.

I had a great christmas with my family, my boyfriend and his family... and to top it off had a fun new years eve.

I had a great Christmas with my family, my boyfriend and his family… and to top it off had a fun new years eve.

And most importantly, my attitude has changed. Now I know change is possible, and if I see myself thinking irrationally, I will catch myself (70% of the time).

I will think “is it a good use of my time to worry about this and be negative?” which has helped me go a LONG way in my health and happiness 🙂

So how was your 2012?  

An odd sort of day.

Sundays are notoriously boring. But I was prepared for that.

I was looking forward to painting all day in front of the TV while watching various repeats of “The Xfactor”.
I was looking forward to being a bit of a recluse after a tiring week at work.

I spent the morning on a painting that I had started a few months ago and abandoned during final exams.

At lunch time, I decided to peel a sweet potato, to make crisps by frying it in coconut oil. Yummy huh?
Unfortunately, I didn’t make it that far as I managed to peel off my knuckle down to the bone.
Which proceded to bleed EVERYWHERE.

3 hours in Accident and Emergency, 1 glue gun and some bandage later,
I now have a human claw.   (I exaggerate slightly…)
One rule. Don’t get it wet or it will not heal. 

My dad and I then drove to see my granny in the nursing home.

“Hi Granny, How are you? I managed to peel off my knuckle” 
“…hello dear… that doesn’t sound appealing.”

Despite being very frail, she still had a bit of wit in her.

“Help me.”
“How can I help you?”
“Talk to me.”

So I talked for a while about paintings I had recently done, one for a colleague, one for my boyfriend, one just for me.

“I cannot work out what you are saying. I think you must be talking Dutch.”
“I can’t speak Dutch granny.”
“Egyptian maybe.”
“Nope. 
I am an eighth German though, and you are half. I think the German part is the humorous part.”
“You do need a certain humour to cope with being German.”

I watched as my dad cut her nails, filed them, and held her thin hands.
I watched the amount of care he put into it.
I watched as he managed to stay upbeat despite the elephant in the room.

“Help me.”
“What can I help you with?”

“I want a cup of tea. Is there any more tea?”
“Yes, here.”
“Good. I don’t want it. I need to go to sleep.”

I giggled. but it isn’t funny.
Like so many of those things, the giggle reflex came out so that I could cope with an overwhelmingly sad moment.

So we made to leave. I kissed her on her cheek.

“Where are you going?”
“You wanted to sleep.”
“I do not want sleep. Sleep wants me.”  

I then went home, had dinner and my mum found a plastic bag and an elastic band for my hand so I could shower.
I laughed because it looked like it should be kept in the freezer on ice.

An odd sort of day.

Painting presentation

Yesterday I gave my boyfriend a birthday present I have spent approximitely 25 to 30 hours working on.

It is a painting of the red arrows and is now framed in 130 x 90cm frame.
Took 2 rolls of wrapping paper and quite a lot of team effort.

Best girlfriend ever award I think.

Voila, my picture, it is now in pride of place on his wall!
What do you all think?

In other news, I saw a health specialist last night and I still have a way to go.
Thankfully, I am in a much better place to deal with it now as I am so much happier and less stressed. I will use painting as well as sleep and healthy food and supplements to nurse myself again.

And smiling and laughing again.
That comes much easier now!

Stay Tuned 🙂

The healing art of art

I have known for a while that painting gives me peace of mind
and the key to being happy and healthy is not worrying too much.

I’ve even volunteered at an art therapy workshop before.

For the members, expressing themselves through art – and giving their minds a chance to be clear and focused for a while – all contributes to their healing.

I’m just the same.

A while ago I set myself a challenge of doing ten paintings throughout 2012.

So far I have done three. I mean, I have also got myself a degree,
but it took a lot out of me.

Painting is the one thing I don’t worry about, simply because it has never let me down,  and never ceased to make me feel good about myself.

First hurdle: 7 more paintings in 4 months. Sounds doable?

With the biggest hurdle, I’ve found that often the trick is trying not to try too hard.

Tricky.

Painting helps me with that. 

Challenge accepted.