This week I started a new kourse with Sketchbook Skool. I haven’t taken one of their multi-teacher kourses in a long time and this one – called The Whimsical Sketchbook – looked like fun so I signed up.
The first teacher was illustrator Rebecca Green and the assignment was to illustrate a character or scene from one of your favourite books. I chose to illustrate a short story from a book by Tove Jansson called Letters From Klara. I didn’t feel confident enough to draw a character so I decided to draw all the details mentioned in the first short story of the book – also called Letters From Klara.
I wasn’t sure how this was going to turn out and I felt slightly out of my comfort zone but I was pleased with the finished drawing, although I feel like I could keep tweaking this one for ages.
Tomorrow (12th May) is International M.E Awareness Day so around the world there are lots of events taking place. One campaign happening across the world is Millions Missing – a day of action, demanding funding for biomedical research and education.
Many people with M.E are too ill to take part in these days of action, or aren’t able to travel. So, they can join in ‘virtually’ by donating a pair of shoes or placing their shoes outside their front door. Photographs of people’s shoes will be shared on social media using the hashtags #millionsmissing and #canyouseemenow.
Each pair of shoes represents one person with M.E who is missing from the life they would otherwise be leading.
Last year on 12th May I shared a drawing of my shoes. This year I’ve worked with M.E Action, the charity behind Millions Missing, to create a design for a gold shoe pin (keep reading to find out how to get hold of one).
What You Can Do
There are lots of ways you can support people like me, who live with M.E but here are 7 things you can do:
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.
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.
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!