While the man’s away, the girl can paint!

I am now about three quarters of the way through my boyfriend’s deployment (touch wood)! Rather than spending my days clock-watching, I have been filled with motivation to paint, plan and socialise!

So what have I been up to these last few months… apart from working full time five days a week?

ART

Exhibitions: First and most importantly, I exhibited in the prestigious Marwell International Wildlife Art Society Exhibition! This is the largest wildlife art society in Europe, founded and organised by Pip McGarry. I was at the exhibition all weekend – with a stall on Saturday 30th August and as a steward on Sunday 31st.

Beauty WM

It was a really enjoyable experience, although it made me realise that I am a relatively little fish in a big old pond.

The plus?

I am a young little fish with plenty of time and enthusiasm to grow into a whale (or at least a tuna)!

Tutoring: Each week, I have been art tutoring a talented and enthusiastic nine year old girl. I talk and demonstrate her through the steps to create a beautiful and proportional painting of a bunny. Doing this makes me feel incredibly warm and fuzzy and has made me realise that I love teaching (people who are patient and enthusiastic about art).

1655987_10152714632787095_6119319155349318375_n

Workshop: Tutoring has motivated me to organise my first ever painting workshop!

On the 28th and 29th October (half term), I am delivering a two-day ‘Learn to Paint your Pet’ workshop at Framin’ Art in Downham Market for 12 – 18 year olds!

The workshop will be kept to a small group, and we will cover everything the students need to create a masterpiece:
• gridding up and drawing out the canvas
• painting soft-focus backgrounds
• mixing colours
• painting eyes and noses
• painting long and short hair
• painting shadow and light
• finishing touches

Places are still available – please email me if you would be interested in attending!

aaworkshop

Paintings: I have completed three paintings and am about to start on a Christmas commission.

Hob-nobbing: I went to fellow Wildlife Artist, Lauren Dobson’s, private opening of her exhibition at the David Shepherd Wildlife Art Gallery in Guildford. I met Lauren, got inspired to try out different techniques, and had an interesting chat with the gallery owner.

SOCIAL

I tell you, there is nothing like living on your own to give you a kick to socialise.

Hostess: I have already had five of my friends / family come to stay with me in Norfolk for weekends. This has meant I have got good at whipping up food for a dinner party, and has spurred me to explore my local area – finding the lovely Wells Next the Sea, taking advantage of the rail line to Cambridge, and seeing wildlife at a nearby Bird Sanctuary!

aawells

Home time: I have spent a lot of time at my family home in Surrey, seeing my ‘home’ friends, having dinner dates, going to the Harry Potter Studio Tour, spending a weekend in Portsmouth with my sister, and going to a wedding! I am incredibly fortunate in that I can work from Norfolk or Head Office in Surrey, which means I can stay for longer than just a weekend.

aaharry potter

New friends: I have finally been making friends in Norfolk. God bless the WAGs! Having friends in the same boat makes this weird experience much funnier.

aawags

WHAT’S NEXT?

My diary is still chock a block, and so is my to-do list (with tidying the house and gardening taking a real back burner).

Paintings: I have a lot of painting to do! This includes:
• Christmas commissions – two booked, more expected.
• A couple of paintings for the David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year Award – deadline February.

Marketing: I need to continue marketing my art workshop, buy all materials, prepare my canvases for demonstration… oh and deliver it!

Old friends: I have plans to see a friend from university in London, have a girly weekend with my three best friends before two of them go to South Korea and Spain for the foreseeable, and go for a nice dinner out with work friends.

Tutoring: I also have some more art tutoring to do! The bunny isn’t finished yet!

All I can say is BRING ON THE NEXT FEW WEEKS!
And then I can collapse in an exhausted heap and hibernate with my Jack.

Advertisements

Developments of a moonlighting artist

Day jobs and running a (however small) mothership are time consuming, aren’t they? How anyone has time for updating the world on their slowly developing painty plans is beyond me.

Excuses out of the way, let’s get down to the real news, a round up of all that has been and will soon be happening in the world Art by Imi.

David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year

Back in December, I entered my kookaburra, Herman, into this prestigious competition – which sees the shortlisted paintings hanging at the Mall Galleries in London… right now. This week! GO SEE IT!

I just missed out on being hung, but a copy of my painting is being displayed in a folder at the exhibition (Selected not hung), and is also up for sale on their website.

The famous bird

The famous bird

Due to the curse of the surname, Woods, you will need to scroll right down to the bottom of this folder to see my painting! (Alternatively, it could be a benefit – the last one you see will stay fresh in the mind?)

It gives me lots of confidence that maybe next time, I might just get hung!

Rowledge Village Fayre

A rainy affair to say the least. Wrapped up in my ski jacket in late May, I spent the day painting Tomtom, an owl with a hella lot of attitude for someone only 20cm tall.

We met Tomtom (original name forgotten) at a Country Fair in Norwich, and I fell for him. Snuggling into the shoulder of his adoptive mother, he glared at us as we angled a camera in his direction, and we took some moody yet adorable photographs.

I got to hold a hawk, and we stumbled across concepts that I didn’t even know existed… like the Norfolk Goat Club.

DSC_2602

The girl loves birds

But anyway, back to Rowledge Village Fayre. Despite the weather, Rowledge residents were out in force, and I got snapped painting by photographers from the Farnham Herald and the Ash & Farnham News and Mail.

imiatrowledge

spot the difference

I met many dogs, and may have lined up some commissions for the coming months.

My new selection of cards also proved popular – please contact me if you want a pack.

cards

Zebs in every colour

Art tutoring

At the fayre, I met a mother of a nine year old girl, who asked me if I would consider art tutoring to me. When I was nine, I started having flute lessons. Breaking away from the norm, she will have ‘how to paint a bunny’ lessons.

After pinging a few emails back and forth, it is planned that I will teach my young apprentice in a series of six private lessons beginning in August.

Starting with marking up a canvas, I will cover subjects such as:

  • mixing acrylic colours
  • painting colour washes
  • building up detail through multiple layers
  • creating texture by getting creative with tools
  • painting eyes, hair, fur and feathers
  • using acrylic inks.

Having never been taught in animal portraiture myself, I think it will get me to ask myself why I do things how I do them, and consider ways of improving my own methods.

It will also (hopefully) get my apprentice enthusiastic about art, and enable me to influence her from a young age to ALWAYS PAINT THE SIDES OF THE CANVAS!

It is an exciting new project for me, and I hope it will open up doors to further teaching opportunities.

Doing that painting thing

Ah yes. Painting. I have been doing some of that too. Not as much as I would like, but some. Problem is, as soon as I get it out, the whole house looks like a bomb has hit it.

Cue whining to Jack: “pleaassee can we buy a house where I can have my own art studio?!”

oh I wish

I am currently painting a kingfisher (yes, another one). I am really enjoying it, it’s a fun project! Mixes of turquoise, phthalo green, and purple to create those distinctive teal feathers, and flashes of orange and gold for the glinting chest.
Marwell International Wildlife Art Society (MIWAS) Annual Exhibition
My new kingfisher is being painted for display in the Marwell International Wildlife Art Society (MIWAS) Annual Exhibition this year.

It’s at Rookesbury Manor in Wickham (which is half way between Portsmouth and Southampton) from the 29th – 31st August.

officially a member

I am giddy with excitement about it, and about the opportunity to be up there hanging with the big dogs of the wildlife art world (the pun was too good not to throw it in).

On Saturday 30th August, I will have a stall at the adjoining art market, where I will be demonstrating my art and selling my work, while on Sunday 31st, I will be acting as a guide at the event, greeting visitors and showing them round the exhibition.

For the amazing calibre of art you will see, I urge you to put the date in your diary and visit this exhibition. I was awestruck last year at the detail and beauty of the work, and how down to earth the artists were.

What if all the good things came true.

An antidote to the negative what ifs that attack us all from time to time.

What if all of the good things came true?

What if you got everything you ever dreamt of?

What if you got that big white studio with the skylights that make it always looks sunny? What if your dog sat beside you in the basket? What if that studio was part of a shop and people were always coming in?
abbey_snr_school_art_studio_full_size

What if big galleries wanted to display your work? What if you got a loyal following? What if people felt happy just by looking at your art? What if your art could bring back good memories? What if your art brought back loved ones?

Refer

What if you got the chance to see more and more beautiful wildlife? What if you got to go on a safari? What if you got to see a kingfisher in real life?

kingfisher ARTbyIMI

What if you went on amazing long walks with your man and your dog? What if you got to crunch through leaves and watch the birds fly? What if people recognised you and were happy to see you? What if you smiled at people and the smile went into your eyes and into your soul? What if they smiled back?

What if bad times led you to places you could never imagine? What if they are just a test? What if they are actually good in disguise?

What if you got to teach incredible people how to paint? What if you inspired people? What if you brought hope back to people? What if you could help other people overcome their problems?

Little brother ARTbyIMI

What if all the good things came true.

That’s my antidote, what’s yours?

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?

How naïve to think that Artists have time to paint!

logonewsletter

Sales pitch over.

I have a secret to share…
Preparing for a fayre, holding down a full time job, eating, sleeping AND finding time to paint is nigh on impossible.
If you throw in enjoying the sunshine and doing a bit of exercise then you get to the situation I am in now. That situation does not involve a paint brush.

On the other hand, the business side of my business is flourishing.
On Saturday, I will visit Otters Pool Studio print shop to look at the proofs of three of my paintings! I will then give the nod for 40 limited edition prints in the three designs to be created!

The designs I finally chose are:
IMG_1563kingfisher ARTbyIMIwoodpecker ARTbyIMI

Thank you for your help in choosing them!

I have bought cellophane bags for the prints to go in, I have bought cardboard backing, I have bought struts to keep them rigid and undamaged.
No-one ever tells you how much these little throw-aways add up to!

Ten designs of greeting cards are also rushing their way to me by post right now!
I will then order the ones I like best to sell at the Fayre – monitoring to see which are the most popular designs.

I have created order forms and newsletter sign up forms.
I have arranged to borrow a gazebo, and a three panel display board.
I have written my first newsletter which is raring to be released to the world!

Most excitingly, I have created a to-do list, which is OH SO SATISFYING to tick off another finished item.

Rowledge Village Fayre, I am nearly ready for you……

The list is still long, but this weekend it will take the back burner!
I am going to be a hermit on a Friday evening (shock horror) and paint (SHOCK HORROR!) and watch Grand Designs and other high quality programmes which allow me to imagine my future barn conversion with art studio, swimming pool and photography studio. A girl can dream.

image from chloeulis.com.

Do you feel you have enough time to do the things you love? 

The 30 second sales patter

Sales pitch: My pilot newsletter is written and waiting for more subscribers before it gets sent out into the big bad world. Hopefully it will make the big bad world a prettier more creative world. You wont know unless you subscribe.

In the not too distant future, I will be selecting one of my subscribers at random to win a painting. At the moment, there is a very large chance it will be won by my mother.  You have been duly warned!
logonewsletter2

Anyway, onto today’s subject. The 30 second sales patter.

It has come to my attention from my recent dog-walks-without-dog-but-with-boyfriend-instead that I needed a sales patter when presenting my flyers to a mixture of interested and uninterested dog walkers.

With the first few flyers, the patter was as follows:

blog2
“Hello, I’m a local animal artist…
so I like paint pictures of pets
and dogs and stuff.
Is that something you’d be interested in?”

 

I got a few outright “no”s.
I wasn’t pulling that face. I like to think I was smiling sweetly.
And I wasn’t even on skype… I was right there.

That sales pitch was not the strongest. I  repeated myself three times to these poor dog walkers. Four if you count the “stuff” “I paint animals… pets… dogs…stuff!”

I then confronted them into making an immediate decision “is that something you’d be interested in?”  

“Ahhh no thankyouuuu” they were probably thinking, “I just wanna scoop some poop and get outta here.”

***************************

Between dog walkers, I practised my talk with my apparently business savvy pitching partner. He picked out  my mistakes and didn’t get too bored with hearing the same thing over and over. Maybe because I promised to contribute a whole £1 towards a slice of cake in the tea shop. Generosity.

Image
“Hello I am a local animal artist.
I specialise in painting dogs and birds.
Is that something you’d be interested in?”

 

Dammit it had come out again! An involuntary confrontational language tick!
Boyfriend / Mr Sales “You shouldn’t limit what you specialise in. You can paint all animals!”
Animal artist extraordinaire: “I didn’t mean to… heyy – thanks!” 

***************************

With the last one I had sort of perfected it.

Image
“Hello! I am a local artist.
I specialise in painting pets and wildlife.
You can see my entire portfolio at this link here!”

*shows link*

 

That there is my “look, I painted this bird” face.
But I don’t just specialise in painting birds. I also paint dogs.

Dammit!

***************************

Any ideas on how to improve my sales patter?
Looks like I need further business savvy.

Fayres, newsletters and honest opinions

Hello ART by IMI followers 🙂

Some exciting things have been happening over the past week since beginning my Month of Paint. I would really appreciate some honest feedback from you all to progress my excitement further.

Month of Paint update

So far during my month of paint, I have got this far on a new penguin painting. It is a long way from ready but I am really pleased with how it is progressing. IMAG0960_1[1]

I also had to resort to doodling when away from my paints:

IMAG0963[1]

I have to admit I have somewhat bent the rules in my month of paint.
I changed them to be “spending at least an hour forwarding my business / creating art”

It may be a slight cop out but I don’t care because at last I feel like I am getting somewhere with this venture.

Rowledge Village Fayre

I have booked to have a stall at the Rowledge Village Fayre on the 27th May. This makes me giddy with excitement at the thought of all those people I will get to meet and show off my skills. I am going to see it as an investment, as the amount of money and time I have to put out in preparation will probably far exceed anything I get back this time.

Creating prints

I am getting high quality giclée prints made of three of my paintings, which will be for sale at the fayre and later on my Etsy shop. I need your help choosing which of my paintings to get made into prints. Please will you head over to my gallery and leave me a comment with your thoughts?

I am also getting greeting cards made in a larger number of designs. Again I would really appreciate your help choosing the designs!
woodpecker ARTbyIMIkingfisher ARTbyIMILittle brother ARTbyIMINelson ARTbyIMIErnie ARTbyIMIgoldenpheasantjan13wmpuffin ARTbyIMI

Art society member 

I have become a member of the Farnham Art Society which is very exciting. I can now go along to their meetings, meet other local artists, and hopefully next year will be be promoted to an Exhibiting member. 

.farnham art soc

ART by IMI newsletter

I have just created a monthly newsletter which will have information about my art, local artist events, promotions I am offering and creative input from elsewhere. You can get on the mailing list by clicking the button below!
artbyiminewsletter

Facebook

I am only two likes away from getting 100 followers on Facebook. This is not a big number but it is a small milestone. If you could boost that to 100, you will make me a very happy lady.

And there we are. Lots of exciting news, and lots and lots to prepare. I would love to hear your feedback 🙂

Love, Imi

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!

Every day motivation

Aside

This quote really struck a chord with me today, and I am sure it will with a lot of people.
It motivated me to do the things I have been meaning to, instead of letting life get in the way.

The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered:

“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices his money in order to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he doesn’t enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and he dies having never really lived.”

Thank you to Noora for sharing that.

It motivated me to finally buy marketing materials for my business. When they arrive I will put on my wellies and my biggest smile and go out on dog walks and meet people and their lovely animals. I will be able to reach more people and let them know how much I enjoy painting and how good I am.  I will gain new custom, and maybe even new friends that I wouldn’t have got otherwise. One day, I will accomplish my dream of spending my days painting and making a comfortable living from it. One day, I will own my own dog and paint him too. 

For the meantime, its the little things I do which keep me in balance of health, calm and presence, and I have to admit, I haven’t quite managed it today. I am looking forward to this weekend, when I can pretend that one day is today and will turn:
Image

into:

  Image

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!

Rules are different when its snowing… right?

Some people find pleasure from sharing negativity, but I am not one of them.

I have seen several little instances around me of just that this week.

The first involved me. A guard fined me on the train for travelling without a railfare.

Satisfactory in itself, but I had sought him out specifically to pay, I wasn’t attempting to rob national rail, and it had been perfectly acceptable, sometimes even encouraged on all journeys prior. And it was snowing. Everyone knows that all rules are relaxed when it is snowing… right?!

Woods in snow

“Why don’t you have a valid ticket?”
“I guess I didn’t give enough time to walk to the station this morning in the snow… And I didn’t fancy waiting half an hour in the cold either when I could get on a nice warm train… nor did I fancy being late for my meeting at work…”

Apparently these weren’t good excuses, although I think they are pretty up there, only just below “My waters broke and I needed to get the train to hospital” or “insert another emergency situation here.”

I think he got a lot of pleasure from exerting this power, but not as much as I did muttering “jobsworth” under my breath and imagining him going home to his unsatisfying life still living at home with his mother and their pet gerbil, and putting on his Simpsons boxset.

The second instance was a man (also on the train) telling a lady off for making short (and in my opinion, quiet) phone conversation in the “quiet zone”, before he proceeded to natter more loudly to his wife.

“It says ‘no phones’, not no voices. We don’t make the rules.”

Don’t most people only sit in the quiet zone to try to avoid the shrieking child that runs around the carriage for the entire hour of journey? (My treat last week.)

It leads me to wonder, what is the point? You don’t make yourself any happier for doing that, and you don’t make others around you happier either. The accusee in question proceeded to point out a rather loud text coming through on the accuser’s phone five minutes, and rightly so – it disrupted me far more than her 2 minute phone call (although I couldn’t really care less about either, I was only there to avoid the crying children (sorry to any mothers reading.)

I have to admit, I do get wrapped up in what other people say and do around me, and let it affect me far more than I ought to. I used to stew over stuff like that for days, not letting things go that only deserve fleeting attention at most. But I am getting better at “not sweating the small stuff”. You can read my article on the Ramblings today which tells of my journey so far of letting go of worries and focusing on happiness instead!

When I need to give my brain a rest, I paint. My boyfriend actually joined me in playing with paint yesterday, which I really appreciated. We holed up in front of the television and watched the Prison Break box set (manly) and painted together. I succeeded in completing my painting of a golden pheasant for the British Wildlife Painting Competition , the most bizarre-looking animal. How is it adaptively advantageous to have orange feathers with purple tips, a yellow Mohawk and a pink body?

Image

I also drew some dog outlines for my boyfriend’s mum’s class at school (She’s a teacher before you wonder!) I found it pretty challenging actually, just drawing free hand. Back to basics for me!

Image

How is everybody this week? Hopefully sharing good moods and not ruining other people’s just for the sake of it!

“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?