A Year in retrospect

Cards

Happy New Year 2021! It’s the beginning of another new year! Another chance to do all the things we didn’t get to do last year, another chance to try new things, another chance to love more, laugh more and…craft more! I could say that I hope we have a better year than 2020, but personally, 2020 was a great year for me for learning new things… and connecting with people!

With all the free time I had when I lost my teaching jobs cause companies were scrambling to put in place home office infrastructure, I used it to create a learning management system for a company to create online courses… for which I spent countless hours learning how to do, and even more hours creating the asynchronous courses! I also got certified to be an online teacher and once companies were equipped to send all their employees home to work and people got used to working online, I got even more jobs teaching online. Not having to spend hours travelling from companies to companies, I could spend more time teaching!

On the crafty side, after spending afew months thinking I wanted to take my art to a professional level, I decided that it was taking all the fun I got out of painting and reverted to just painting for fun and starting a 100 day painting challenge to learn how to paint more intuitively and from the heart. I am at day 16 and counting and I can feel my art getting looser, more intuitive and personal.

I also felt finally ready to learn how to sketch…by sketching daily. I decided that I didn’t care how it looked, as long as you could vaguely make out what I was trying to draw, that was fine with me! I would learn about perspective and dimensions along the way. So here’s one of my first sketches of my decorated door.

As for connecting with friends, we hooked up more often over Zoom, chat or one to one. As we don’t have our extended family in Germany and our closest friends here were only allowed to see their family, we spent Christmas Eve with a Spanish family that we only met once before, but with whom our kids are close, and hung out with more (teenage) friends of our kids on Christmas Day, and we had a great relaxing time!

So all in all, 2020 was a very productive year for me and I look forward to doing as much in 2021…and perhaps more! I will definitely continue making Christmas cards for the Merry Little Christmas challenge as this was what allowed me to have enough Christmas cards by the time Christmas came round…and this year I even managed to send them off in time…almost!

So what have you planned for 2021? I look forward to reading them in the comments. Thanks for stopping by and have a great start to 2021!

Lots of love,

A new challenge for 2021 – Learning to sketch

Cards

As 2020 draws to a close and with no parties to organise, food to cook or friends to visit, I can concentrate on working on my goals for 2021. You noticed I didn’t say resolutions, but goals. I think having goals are more concrete than resolutions. To me, resolutions define your wishes, but goals define what you want to do & where you actually want to be at a certain time.

So my goals for 2021 are:

  • To finish my 100-day painting challenge by 21st march 2021 and discover what my personal style is
  • To learn how to sketch by sketching daily too & find my personal sketching style
  • To capture significant memories in my past 55 years in my sketchbook
  • To log an average of 6k steps daily
  • To get dinner on the table by 8pm latest at least 4 times a week
  • Create 3 more asynchronous English courses for website

As we might be moving to Madrid next summer, everything beyond those goals are uncontrollable, including my professional life, but those goals already take up most of my day to achieve so I think I’m set for 2021!

So as you can tell from my title, learning to sketch, by sketching daily, is a new adventure for me. I finally feel ready to set aside any notions of achieving perfection, imitating reality…and sometimes even perspective, in my attempts to sketch my life. One reason to this lack of fear of ridicule is the fact that I’m now 55, I’ve achieved a lot, travelled a lot, learnt a lot and I feel I’ve earned the right to exist without caring about the judgement of others… and also seeing accomplished artists like Skye Ali or Kelsey Buzzle succeed with their childlike illustrations is very encouraging!

“peeling” coconut leaves to make a broom

This step away from perfection and going back to childish drawing is a huge step for me as I cannot remember a time I actually felt like a kid. I guess as women, we shed that part of us really quickly, so my goal to sketch my life memories is also a great way to delve back into a past I haven’t spent much time thinking about. In the picture above, I’m peeling coconut leaves to make a broom, one of my rare memories in the garden. Can’t fathom why we are doing it and not our maid, we were probably really bored, or more realistically, it was probably a punishment!

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you’ll follow me on my adventure to a happy state of senility! I look forward to finding about your goals for 2021 in the comments! I wish you all, a very positive start to 2021!

Hugs,

Learning to be loose…

Cards

So I’ve been painting daily for 5 days now and what’s different this time from any other attempts to paint daily, is that I’m re-doing paintings I’m already aesthetically happy with, but painting them again to try & do them more intuitively. Here are the first 3 tries, my first attempt on the left and last one on the right.

I know, it’s looks like each painting just got worst doesn’t it? 🤣 That’s because the 1st one was painted “copying” a photo and the last one was completely from my head. Painting it 3 times allowed me to remember where the colours should go, so I could just paint intuitively.

You would think that seeing how bad my painting was when painting intuitively, I would just go back to what I was good at, copying a photo. It actually had an opposite effect because I really treasured the process of learning to let go and so the 3rd painting is more valuable to me because of the freedom I allowed myself!

I also realised I needed to watch some tutorials to understand where to add focal points to bring out the centre image in a really minimalistic way. So I was really motivated to continue and I started another snowy bird scene, (I can’t help it, there’s snow all around me and I want to capture the beauty of it) with some help from Kristy Partidge’s tutorial.

This was my first attempt!

Which would have been ok if I wanted to bird on a branch of a coconut tree instead of a pine branch… I decided I needed a real life reference. So I went out and cut a branch from my tree. Isn’t it a beauty?

From the first painting, I put all my mistakes to good use by learning from them and painting something I’m rather proud of now.😊

I was so enamoured over the beautiful pine branch that I decided to do a painting completely focused on it and at the same time, practise painting snowy branches again.

Thanks for stopping by and I would love to hear about your painting process too.

Have a great day!

Painting with emotions…or not

Painting

I’ve decided to start sharing & blogging about my paintings again, after I heard another inspirational talk from Charlie O’Schields of Doodlewash during the Artwork-Creative Productivity unlocked summit organised by Nina Roycroft. This summit held many inspirational talks on how to keep a creative practise and combine it with a business. Charlie’s talk reminded me about how much I used to love writing so I’m back after a long absence! I also start a 100 day creative challenge with a few ladies from where I live, as I need that accountability and motivation to create each day. If you’re interested to join in with us, leave a comment and I’ll get in touch!

When I started this painting, which came from a wonderful course by Olga Bonitas I took on Skillshare, my go-to for inspiration, I was not in a good place. Her example showed joyful scenes of Christmas in the window, but I felt like adding a sad girl missing her friends and family over Christmas cause of COVID in the main window, and a silhouette of a pair of legs hanging in the air… in the window above. Yes really dark isn’t it. Don’t worry, I have no suicidal or self harm tendencies, but I wanted to convey the despair and sadness I felt creeping up on me, like the foggy and cold days of winter. I was dealing with constant aches and pains from my knee and back, the really bad mood swings of my teenage daughter and my son studying (or lack of) for his final year of the IB…and the passive stress of COVID in the background but ever present.

As I continued with the painting, as expected, my dark mood lifted and I felt much better. Painting the bricks especially was so meditative. Just putting one uneven, imperfect brick after the other, even the colours just mixed themselves to lovely blends. Yet when I reached the time to add the images in the windows, I was still torn about adding the hanging feet or not. The reason being that I rarely paint with emotion. I usually paint by “copying” a photo I took or found online or follow an example a fellow artist shared in a class. Sometimes I paint still life but I still try to paint it exactly as I see it instead of giving it my artistic rendition. So here I was, finally motivated to paint something that came out of my emotions, but the image I wanted to paint was so dark that I was afraid of the reaction I would get once I posted it online. So I decided against it.

Thinking about it now, I regret not going with my emotions. I could have just kept it for myself or if I hated looking at it after I painted it, I could just tear it up. It’s just paper after all. (Although I know it’s not, it’s a little piece of ourselves, especially when we add emotions in them.)

Cause life is not all smiles and happy days, especially now. I know it’s better to have uplifting beautiful images and stories to share, but sometimes, you just want to cry and say you’re sad, and as an artist we should have the right to express it in our paintings too right?

Anyway, thanks for reading this to the end and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Gwendolyn

Watercolor poinsettia wreath

Painting

Hi all! It’s the first of the month, so another challenge starts over at the “Merry Little Christmas” challenge blog. It’s always an “Anything Goes” challenge as long as it’s some craft object that is Christmas themed.

I decided to paint a Christmas wreath with my watercolor paints. It’s my first painting a wreath with poinsettias and birds but I followed a tutorial on Skillshare by Irina Trzaskos and I learnt some very useful tips like how to create the circled background for the wreath, to give it more depth. I love the classes on Skillshare as it has taught me so much about painting. It also helps me start my daily painting practise again when I’m lost for inspiration or after a long break.

I created a video of my painting process and I hope it will inspire you to start painting for Christmas, or just to create something Christmas related and share it on the Merry Little Christmas challenge blog.

Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to see your wonderful creations! Don’t forget to stop by at my fellow teammies blogs to admire all they’ve created just to inspire you!

Have a great day doing something you love!

Hugs,