MATS Bootcamp: Sylvia Pankhurst

Cathryn_Worrell_SylviaPankhurst

In March our MATS Bootcamp assignment was to create a portrait of a Suffragette and my Suffragette was Sylvia Pankhurst. I’d never heard of her before but she was one of Emmeline Pankhurst’s daughters.

Sylvia was born in Manchester but spent a lot of time working in east London, championing the working class, who she saw as instrumental in bringing about real change in terms of voting rights. This was one of the things created tension between her and her mother, and her older sister Christabel. Eventually Sylvia became estranged from her family after having a child outside of marriage.

In the 1950s she moved to Ethiopia after becoming friends with Haile Selassie, and she is buried in Addis Ababa.

March Favourites 2018

CathrynWorrell_March2018Favourites

In the same vein as beauty bloggers, and inspired by Frannerd, I thought I’d start sharing some of my favourite things each month, starting with a handful of the things I enjoyed during March.

  1. Winsor and Newton Flesh tint gouache paint
  2. The Making Obama podcast (and before this the Making Oprah podcast)
  3. Quinoa porridge
  4. The new Seawhite of Brighton Watercolour Travel Journal
  5. Season 1 of This is Us on Amazon Prime

Making Progresss by Working Slower

CathrynWorrell_slowandsteady

My main piece of creative work over the past few weeks has been a single drawing. I originally estimated that it would take me 2 weeks to complete but it’s actually taken 3 weeks from start to finish and sometimes that’s felt a bit frustrating.

During this year’s 100 Day Project I often spent hours each day working on a single illustration. It wasn’t good for me but it became a habit and finding a balance again is trickier than I expected.

Because I’m trying to work at a slower, steadier pace again, I’ve been quite strict about how much time I’ve spent working on this drawing each day. This probably skewed my judgement about how long I’d take to get it finished but luckily there wasn’t a hard deadline.

Mouse Timer

To help keep myself in check, I’ve got back to following the example of my friend, Michael Nobbs, and setting my timer for 20 minutes at a time, with my goal being to spend 20 minutes each day working on the drawing.

Sometimes I’ve done 2 or 3 short work sessions in a day, but more often than not I’ve just spent 20 minutes each day on this piece of work. Not only has this meant that the paint can dry between layers but it’s also allowed me to come back to it each day with fresh eyes, which has probably helped me to avoid making mistakes. It also helps me to keep a gentle sense of momentum with my work so that I can see progress without falling into the unhealthy cycle of boom and bust with my energy that I have a tendency towards.

It can feel really satisfying to work on a piece of work from start to finish in one day. What I’m now realising, though, is that the work I made earlier this year would probably have turned out better if I hadn’t tried to produce quite so much of it, or if I’d at least done what I’ve done in the past and set some sort of boundary in terms of the pace or size of my work.

I’ve now reached a point with my current drawing where I’m feeling ready to start a new piece of work and I’m pleased with the way I’ve approached this one. I think it’s been good for me and also good for the person who will own this drawing.

Now the challenge is to maintain this pace and not slip back into unhelpful habits!

 

Drawings and Reflections from August

Cathryn_Worrell_Car_Pattern

I still haven’t managed to get my energy levels back on an even keel since the end of the 100 Day Project (this is life with M.E sometimes!) so I was appreciated the slower pace for the 365 project over the summer. I created one new illustration each week rather than 3 and enjoyed being able to take my time with each one.

As you can see, I made 2 new repeat patterns (one of my favourite things to create nowadays), a simple fish illustration and a self portrait.

As well as these 4 pieces I made an illustrated map of the City of London, which you can see on They Draw and Travel.

CathrynWorrell_SelfPortrait

Now September’s here and I’m back to creating 3 new illustrations each week. Since my energy’s in short supply I’m experimenting with ways to keep things as simple as possible to avoid overwhelming and exhausting myself.

Right now I’m planning on sticking to my paper sketchbook and avoiding doing too much digital work. Digitising my work is fun but it can be really time-consuming for lots of reasons so cutting out that stage feels like a good plan right now. I may even use a pocket-sized sketchbook for some of my illustrations, just to keep things really simple.

Do you find it helpful to keep your work process simple and straightforward or do you prefer to spend lots of time on a piece of work?

Review: Back Pocket Notebooks

Back Pocket Notebooks

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been testing out the Back Pocket Notebook. Although it’s not specifically a sketchbook, I’ve been using it for some lettering and drawings to see how it compares to sketch specific books.

To summarise, if you’re looking for a good quality, robust little notebook to carry around, I would definitely recommend the Back Pocket Notebooks.

Back Pocket Notebooks Back

I have a set of 3 Kraft Plain Notebooks, each of which contain 18 sheets or 36 pages of 120gsm paper and a stapled spine.

Back Pocket Notebooks Spine

At first glance they reminded me of the A6 Eco Starter Sketchbooks from Seawhite of Brighton. The Back Pocket Notebooks are slightly smaller, measuring 9 x 14 cm. The paper isn’t quite as thick as the Seawhite cartridge paper but there are more pages than the Eco Starter and the paper has a nice smooth surface, which I really appreciated when using fine liners and markers.

Back Pocket Notebook Inside

Although it’s described as a ‘plain’ notebook, I think that refers to the cover because it’s pointed out on the band holding the 3 notebooks together that the paper inside is actually cross grid. It’s similar to dotted paper but each ‘dot’ is a tiny cross. I’d never used that kind of paper before but it was kind of handy for keeping my hand lettering straight!

Back Pocket Notebook Felt Tip

The paper in the Back Pocket Notebook is perfect for either pen or pencil. I used a few different fine liners and felt tip pens, and the only pen that bled through to the other side of the page was the Copic marker. But Copic markers seem to bleed through almost all paper in my experience so this wasn’t a surprise or a big deal. I covered some large areas with Koi brush pens and even with the darker colours the dots on the paper do show but that may or may not be a problem for you. It didn’t bother me because I wasn’t trying to create a finished piece of artwork.

Back Pocket Notebook Gouache

I was able to apply a light wash of watercolour in the Back Pocket Notebook without any problems and the paper took gouache quite well too. The paper does buckle with both watercolour and gouache but even some dedicated watercolour paper does that so, again, this wasn’t a surprise or a problem for me.

I’ve carried the Back Pocket Notebook around in my bag and it’s stood up well to that without getting damaged so far. I wonder if rounded corners might make it a bit more robust in that respect if you were carrying it around in your bag or pocket every day.

The Back Pocket Notebooks are excellent quality, and the size means that they’re really easy to carry around without adding lots of extra weight or bulk. I wouldn’t use them to replace a dedicated sketchbook but as somewhere to keep notes and ideas, make simple line drawings and practise hand lettering, the Back Pocket Notebook is an excellent option and, as the name implies, highly portable too!

Thank you to Justin at Back Pocket Notebooks who gave me this set of Kraft Notebooks to test in exchange for an honest review.