Out There…

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I had one New Year’s resolution this year. On the 2nd of July, I will be officially half way to goal. My resolution was no television for a year. I can only assume this statement forms the collective gasp among some of you the same way it did when I shared the news with colleagues at work. At first there was disbelief closely followed by a million justifications why people have to watch <insert favourite show here>.

The culling of television from my life hasn’t really been that big of a deal. Every Christmas holiday season for the past several years, free to air has cranked out worse garbage than normal. It was easy to not even engage. Over the years, Tele and I have become a bit codependent. I’ve used it as an escape, believing the lies about chilling out, switching off, winding down, tuning out, even to the point of believing that it was good for me.

In past years, I have been seduced by the ads, the promise of new seasons, new series and multiple month lead ups to old favourites returning. I’ve fallen for them all. Except for this year. By the time any New Year’s Eve rolls around, my Tele is already on its seasonal sabbatical. At the end of last January, Tele and I had to have words.

“ I think we need to break up,” I said , late one night.

“It’s not you, it’s me…” I explained.

And that was it. I haven’t pushed its buttons since. It still sits in the corner, blankly staring at me from its ancient and out of date frame. I’ve been secretly wishing it would stop working for years but it just won’t quit, and, as with most dysfunctional relationships, it forced my hand. I quit for both of us.

So want to do at the end of a long hard day, I hear you all ask?

Since Tele and I broke up, I’ve filled the space with creative pursuits. Suddenly there are hours to fill. It’s blissful. It’s amazing how quickly end of the day fatigue dries up when you  engage creatively in a project you love.

I invite the muse over each night and more often than not she shows. Mostly she brings pencils, brushes, paints and paper. Sometime she offers poetry. On other nights, prose. And sometimes she just tells me to go to bed early and read just for the love of it. So wise for someone so flighty at times.

This year, so far, I’ve filled journals with writing, painted over 70 pieces of art, filled numerous sketchbooks, ventured into the world of online creativity with courses and workshops. And I have shared a lot of this. In sharing came the encouragement I needed to submit. To trust in what I was doing.

I wasn’t sure I was ready to put myself “out there” but sometimes you just have to do it and grow from the experience. About two months ago, many of you know that I submitted eight pieces of my work to The Style File. For those who aren’t familiar with them, The Style File showcases the work of different book illustrators through portfolio pages, displaying illustrative style and technique. This was a big step for me. A month or so after submission, I received the reply that my submission was successful.

If I’d never created some space in my life, I’m not sure this would’ve happened. Devoting my evenings to improving my craft and practicing daily has shown me that diligence does pay off.

Technically, I still have six months to go and so much in my head that I want to get down on paper, in word and in watercolour. My old mind numbing nightly ritual has been replaced with a new habit. A productive new habit. It’s been the best New Year’s resolution  and the only one I’ve ever kept, which tells me it’s here to stay. I’m grateful for all the encouragement everyone offered. It changed everything.

 

 

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The light at the end of the tunnel…

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It’s been almost a year since I’ve been here. In reading my last post, I  feel the grief of losing my little mate surface again. It never seems to go, and I’m still learning to navigate around it. Some think grieving is good for creativity. Or is creativity meant to be good for grieving? Either way, when I lost that little dog on a blue moon, almost a year ago – something drained my creativity tanks and I was left running on empty.

For the past year, I wrote to save my life. I found a journalling course on line and for six weeks that course flushed many a demon from inside me. By the end of it, I wasn’t whole but I was healing. There’s much to be said for spilling your guts on paper. I’m still doing it and it’s still having the same cathartic effect. It frees up the real estate inside me and makes room for the good stuff to flow in.

It’s like finding a safe zone where no one else may enter. A place where I can say and be whoever I please and judgement is checked at the door, unwelcome and uninvited. I’ve journaled for most of the  year. It’s become part of my life. Something I crave, now  I know of its medicinal value.

But it wasn’t just words that patched my heart. A while back I was invited to a five day illustration challenge on Facebook. I accepted. By the end of the five days, something had shifted. The more I painted, the brighter the world looked. At the end of the five days, I couldn’t stop.

I created my own alphabet challenge. 26 letters, 26 illustrations.  One a day. A discipline. Today, I am half way through my second alphabet challenge, and it’s still addictive. It’s a safe place for me to experiment – try new techniques and if nothing else – to practise like a mad thing. And it’s creating a new body of work with each challenge.

The more art I make, the better I feel. It’s like coming up for air,  knowing all is well in my world. There’s so many challenges ahead. I’m taking a deep, deep breath and chasing them down. I’ll share it all here…

There’s a big beautiful light at the end of the tunnel…I’m ready to explore. Continue reading