Category: Blog

change your mind.

My mindset has changed over the last few weeks. Since starting my #draw365 project I’m starting to see everything that has been said about harnessing creativity is true: the more you create, the less you will be stuck for ideas. If you practise every day you will see yourself improve. The less you trawl through Instagram looking for “inspiration” (when really you’re just wondering why you can’t paint like that), the more time you will have to learn how to paint like that.

This all sounds pretty obvious. But it wasn’t so long ago I was reading various articles and blogs promising that the more you actually draw/paint the better you will get. Millennial entitlement syndrome kicked in: but I want to be good NOW. I don’t want to spend months or even years developing a style. That will take too long! It will be too late by then! (Cue quarter-life crisis). I will be too old! No-one will look at my Instagram feed! There’s no point! Gaaaaah!

Shut up brain.

Once I finally stopped whingeing to myself and got started with the process I apparently also matured a little on the way. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

A Change of Thinking.

All of these shifts in headspace/perception have come from the #draw365 project. What started as a notion during a moment of inspiration on New Year’s Day has very quickly turned into a much bigger beast. And is still growing. I have’t felt this excited about my personal work in… well, ever! I’ve been working with watercolour for over a year but it was very much dabbling up to now.

Three months in and #draw365 is now an inherent part of my day. I feel excited at the thought of coming home and adding another drawing to a rapidly filling sketchbook (and I am terrible for never finishing sketchbooks). At the start the  trickiest part was deciding what to draw. Sitting with a blank page in front of you can sometimes be the most creatively-jarring place to be. But once I had a few subjects to get me started, so the ideas followed, often when I wasn’t even drawing: I found myself being struck during run-of-the-mill admin tasks at work. The Notes app on my phone is now one of my most frequently used. It’s true what they say: the more you create, the more ideas will come.

Take it Easy.

Another product of this project is I’m no longer scared of producing “bad” work. I’m not so hard on myself. I don’t have the fear of getting something “wrong”, so strong was the notion that if it didn’t look the exact same as the image in my head then there would be no point in even trying. How bad is that?! And this wasn’t even because I was putting myself down: it was laziness.

I can’t describe how liberating it is to loosen up and just make marks on a page. It feels so good! I highly recommend you try it, right now.

Making marks #watercolour #paint #makingmarks #green

A post shared by Laura Hurst (@heylaurabelle) on

The more space I opened up to experimenting and mark (or mistake) making, the more the ideas flowed. The happier I felt. The more willing I was to try new things, which in turn lead to more ideas, more experiments, just… MORE! And it’s been so exciting, and liberating, and why didn’t I do this sooner?!

Sitting on the Sidelines

I don’t think I compared myself to others as such. I didn’t sit and bemoan the fact that I wasn’t any good and others were. I just felt impatient that I wasn’t as good as them yet. Knowing that in order to be up there with Iraville or Ana Victoria it would take months of hard graft, drawing or painting or both, every day. It would mean drawing even when you didn’t feel like it, or painting on an off-day. It would mean putting yourself completely and totally 100% into something. And so the hint of laziness played its part, and I watched from the glow of my phone screen.

Now I look at these artists’ posts and I feel real inspiration. I felt it before but it would be tainted with a sense of “why can’t I do that”. Now that I’m finally getting down to the hard work (I say hard – it’s incredibly fun but you know what I mean) I look at Iraville and go “that’s beautiful, I love the way she shades the faces. That’s something to try.” And in goes another note to the list.

Show Your Work.

I’ve also realised that part of the problem with looking at other artists’ social feeds is that you are often only seeing the final product. Subconsciously you get the impression that these people were always this good: that they picked up a pencil at age 12 and could immediately produce the work they are making now. Not the case I’m sure. What you are really seeing is the result of years of drawing, painting, getting messy, having bad days, developing ideas, experimenting, unearthing a style. But before all this they would have been in the exact same place as I am now: the beginning. And I have to remind myself of that. That everyone, everyone starts somewhere.

Which is why I’m going to start documenting my not-so-good work on here. I want to bare my “bad” work and show my development. Confession: there is a small part of me that hopes another fledgling artist might stumble across my thoughts and feel a small amount of inspiration from seeing my less Instagram-worthy pieces, and realise that no matter how amateur you feel at the start if you put in the work it will get better.

I can draw. I will never again say that I can’t.

 

saving the best.

For Christmas 2015, I was given my first proper set of watercolours (Winsor & Newton 45 half pan set) and a Moleskine watercolour journal. I was thrilled with both, excited to get back to Glasgow so I could crack into them.

Something held me back though. Since I was a kid, I have had a weird reluctance to “spoil” anything. Things that are so pristine and lovely when untouched that marking them and using them for their very purpose seemed a shame.

Having recently become aware of this tendency however I sat down on the last day of the Christmas holidays and tore open all 45 pans (they were individually wrapped!!) and got stuck in. Then something switched: I was frustrated that my pans and palette weren’t messy and used! They were too pristine! Fortunately this has been an interest I have stuck with and the pan set now looks suitably broken in:

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It took longer to move onto the Moleskine pad though. Being a Moleskine you feel obliged, if not downright dutiful, to only fill it with the most glorious works of art. It’s not for practice pieces or experiments: save it for the best of the best.

Pssht!

I’m sure Winsor and Indeed Newton would scoff at such a ridiculous idea. Art is there to be created! No matter how precious the paper brand! And so after starting with one or two tentative tests with a newer set of watercolours, I have now delved into the pages of the book and now don’t care about “saving it for the best”.

It only hit me tonight how much pressure that puts on myself – to only use a certain pad for pieces worthy of it? This would most likely result in that poor, high-quality and not-exactly-cheap notebook sitting empty, possibly forever! And that would just be a downright shame.

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I once read a blog (which for the life of me I can’t remember the name of) that talked about saving your “nice” things for only special occasions, in this bloggers case, cosmetics and smelly products. She made the point that her job and lifestyle didn’t include many fancy outings that would be deemed special enough for her treasured products, and so she made a change: to use all of her products whenever she felt like it, best or not. Otherwise they would never get used! And then what would be the point in having them?

Same goes for my wee Moleskine. It doesn’t deserve a life of blandness. I’m going to do my very best to make it colourful and interesting, no matter how “good” the outcomes are.

how to be an illustrator

I’ve always had this notion that because I didn’t study illustration or drawing at university that I must not be very good at drawing. That because I haven’t kept hundreds of sketchbooks over my formative years, bursting with mixed media experiments and little snippets of day-to-day life, that I must not be a real designer. I seem to have been thinking all these years that I am not that creative.

Recently, I have come to see that this is daft (like, really daft). A leftover symptom of not being groomed for art school, I have let myself think since the age of 17 that I am kinda creative, but not in the “right” way. What?!

It doesn’t help that I also seem to have this notion of it being “too late” to be an artist/illustrator/creative. That because I wasted all those years not keeping my sketchbooks bulging or that I let my visual diary slip I must have missed the bus.

But sometimes the busses are just running late. (Lisa Congdon didn’t start painting until she was in her 30s).

Over the last couple of years, I have been doing a bit of doodling, on and off at first, in various little notebooks I have accumulated over the years. I started to document these bursts of creativity on Instagram, which has been immensely satisfying. My Instagram feed has become a “life portfolio” of sorts, documenting the usual Insta-worthy life moments and my progress through my creative spells.

Instagram can also be a curse though. The hours of mindless scrolling, the comparing your work to others, the creative block that you are convinced can be solved by trawling through a particularly admired artist’s feed, right down to their first photo in 2012…

But I digress.

Luckily during the last couple of months I am finally coming to the realisation that everything I have been thinking is hokey. Of course it helps that I have kept up and increased the amount of personal work I’ve been doing (another realisation being that practise is absolutely everything if you want to get anywhere – seems obvious but it took me a while to get there).

But I AM creative. I CAN draw. And I WILL uncover my own style if I just keep it up. And I don’t see it stopping any time soon – it’s stopped becoming something I have to tell myself to do, and become something that I can feel itching in my fingers if I don’t get at least a couple of hours with a paintbrush or fineliner.

There is no right way to be creative! Just be creative.

 

thoughts on the referendum #1

I find it a little ironic that a number of no voters opted out on independence based on the promise of rather vague “new powers” promised by Westminster.

Could these be the same people who were unwilling to follow Alex Salmond’s vision due to “unanswered questions”?

Independence.

Why am I voting yes?

Because I am inspired by the idea that my vote will actually count. That my mark on the ballot might count towards bringing in powers more aligned with Scotland than we’ve ever had.

Of course there are risks, but that’s true of both sides. I don’t believe Cameron and his crew will give us these so-called powers they’re promising. And if they do come, it will be because they reacted hastily to the polls, not because they believe it’s something Scotland should have.

I don’t believe the current Westminster government have the interests of the British people at heart. I believe they are more concerned with being big-hitters on a world stage, with making money and playing with the Big Boys.

They know that they are weaker without us. But that’s never been admitted. The very fact that they trouped up here (skipping the PMQs, the saints that they are) shows how out of touch they are with Scotland. Do they really think we can’t see through their shallow attempt to recoup some votes at the last stretch? The scary thing is, it might work.

I trust Alex Salmond to get this shit done. 18 months to get his head down and work hard for the benefit of a nation we all believe in. He has vision and passion for people, which is something I feel Westminster lacks. He is far more aligned with the people of Scotland than Cameron or Miliband ever will be.

It’s not a question of can. It’s a question of should.

I believe an independent Scotland can stand on its own two feet and take it’s own place in the world. I believe we have enough industry and a strong enough economy to support ourselves. I don’t believe we need nuclear arms to protect ourselves.

We have the unique opportunity to take control of our own future and take the responsibility that comes with it. To grow alongside the remaining countries in the UK and the rest if the world. We have the chance to change. Change ourselves and change the UK, even in the event of a yes vote. No matter what the outcome, Westminster needs to wake up and catch up with the rest of the world it is so keen to play ball with.

My terrible memory prevents me from retaining many facts and figures. This statement is simply a summary of all that I have read and tried to absorb over the last few months. What these paragraphs lack in references and footnotes I hope makes up for in genuine, passionate belief.

It doesn’t have to be above divorce, or separation. It’s about building a new system which is in keeping with our ever-growing world. It’s about shaking off the old and broken system. It’s about being ourselves.

independence.

why does it have to be one or the other? why does it need to be scotland tearing itself away from england or being begrudgingly kept together? can’t there be another option, another solution? if scotland is so capable of being financially independent, why aren’t we using this to help england and use it as leverage to gain more power in Westminster, something we apparently lack much of. why can’t there be less of an opposition, more of a compromise, coalition even? i know, i know, “look how this one is turning out”. but who says it’s to be that way? if scotland is so full of pioneering leaders as the Yes campain claim then surely they won’t roll over and take it, a la Mr Clegg? why can’t we use our assets in a more co-operative, less destructive way?

starry-eyed? perhaps. unrealistic? maybe. but impossible?

it’s not very often…

…that I have more than one topic I like to blog away about but tonight I have accumulated three, and all in the last hour or so.

In reverse order the three topics are:

3. People wishing their mothers, who are not on Facebook, a Happy Mother’s Day…on Facebook. This may sound terribly bitter or cynical but I’m sorry, it is a cry for attention. Wish your mother a happy Mother’s Day in you own quiet and personal way with those who deserve to know about it; don’t broadcast it to Javier who served you cocktails in Malaga three years ago.

2. Women who are referred to as “curvy” or “real women”. Rather interesting subject and am halfway through reading an article on said subject and will most likely be revisited in the near future.

1. After watching The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel tonight I was reminded of a quote that stuck out in my head when I saw it at the cinema last year:

The only real failure is the failure to try.

There were actually another couple of quotes from that film that stuck with me, all of which, including the above, will be fodder for future blogs. As it has just ticked past two a.m. I am now going to go to bed and revisit them when my head is less dependent on needing a good snooze to function.

geek is the new black.

you know those memories that just stick with you, vivid amidst the grey cloudiness of all the things that you’ve done? One of mine is the boy I used to fancy asking me if my mum made my trousers for me, then laughing with his pals. I was wearing a pair of patchwork denim trousers which happened to suit and fit me incredibly well. After telling him to shut up and flouncing out the cafe I went home and told my mum what happened. This is the part I remember the most:

You have an original style though, pet.

“Is that a good thing?” was my 11-year old self’s main concern. “Of course!” mum said with a wee smile. She must have known that in a few years I would see just how good such a quality is.

The thing is, being “original” is now a trend. Being “odd” is now “cool”. “Geek” is now “chic”. All the things the cool kids used to berate the coolly-challenged for are now hot topics in women’s magazines!

Can’t wait until tractors become fashionable and we can be left in peace.