Remember this Johnny Nash song:
I can see clearly now the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sun-shining day
That’s a pretty good description of how I’ve been feeling lately. Although at the time of writing the post, I’m full of a cough and cold, so the bright sunny day has been accompanied by a lot of tea and tissues.
Laying on the sofa, has given me time to reflect on these past few months and I just needed to check in and have a chat about it all.
A death in the family, a potential arthritis diagnosis that is affecting my hands – (a pretty shit diagnosis for an artist) – and generally feeling the paws of the black dog on my back, had left me feeling, well, pretty lost. My work had totally dried up over the summer as had my creative spark.
Taking Time to Be Mental
I remember crying to my husband “I absolutely don’t know who I am any more”.
I had no idea what I was doing, where I was going or why. All I knew was I was deeply unhappy with myself and with the path my life was taking.
Instagram was pissing me off deeply. And I was cross that I’d allowed it to get that bad. I felt creatively stifled by it. I felt I had to keep everyone happy. On and offline. My family, friends and even strangers. Ruining my own happiness in the process.
I’ve done some very deep soul-searching these past few months. Seen a therapist, practised mindfulness-ish (my own take on meditation/mindfulness), yoga and gratitude. I’ve even been experimenting with living by the phases of the moon. When you look into it, it makes a lot of sense!
I’ve taken time to be mental. And it’s really helped.
The Biggest Realisation
Trying to make ‘it’ as an artist/illustrator was doing my head in – it’s not for the faint-hearted and I felt very faint of heart. I hated it. Customers making stupid complaints, asking stupid questions. I closed all my shops except the NOTHS shop. I still like it there and it’s pretty self-sufficient.
I stopped social media for the summer.
Wow that felt good!
Especially as a lot of the proverbial life shit hit the fan over the summer months, so I’m glad I was able to deal with all of that, without worrying about my online life.
The biggest realisation was accepting that the pain in my hands means that long periods drawing, painting, sitting at a computer etc get uncomfortable. To be honest I live with pain every day. I prefer not to go on about it but I have had to review my work practice. In fact, it’s provoking a change of creative direction and medium for me.
What I have discovered is that moving around the studio setting up styled shoots, making animations, was a lot less painful. I wasn’t sitting still all of the time. My hands weren’t in a limited position for hours on end (like holding a pencil or typing on a keyboard). Therefore the more I move, the less pain I feel. It’s been through a natural progression, that I’ve found a love for creative still life photography mixing it with my love of Photoshop. And stop frame animation of course. I love that!
What also came out of this period was my need to give something back. Offer something of meaning. I wasn’t really sure what that looked like. So I started with an area I feel I have a little expertise in.
You see, there was a point 5 years ago that I had basic skills in Photography and fairly good knowledge of Photoshop but knew nothing about stop motion animation. In those past 5 years I’ve mastered more Photoshop, feel more confident in Photography and have found a passion for stop motion animation. Which has brought opportunities for work that I really really enjoy. More than trying to sell prints or cards online.
I thought to myself, if I wanted to know those skills 5 years ago, perhaps there are people who also want to know them too… today.
So I’ve started The Content Designer. Teaching other people to make beautiful visual content too. It’s early days. I’m building the website and adding content as we speak.
As for my art and illustration. That’s mine again. Not for the commercial market. I draw and make because I like it, I feel happy when I do it and it’s my creative outlet. It’s no longer for profit or for other people to give me approval.
I love them but I hate that I feel pigeonholed by them! I’m not giving them up, I’m simply expanding my subject matter.
Oh No Instagram
I was ridiculously worried about the change of direction and how I would translate it to Instagram. But when I looked at my work, I could see it was all over the place anyway. The work I was sharing was very floral but just didn’t feel like me.
You’ll see, there’s been a change over on my personal Instagram feed now. More colour. Fewer flowers. More styled. And in case you’re wondering, yes, I’ve lost a shit load of followers and I’m not winning a popularity contest anytime soon. It’s not been a great time for anyone on Instagram anyway, to be honest. But as I teach in my workshops, it’s not about numbers, it’s about connecting with like-minded people.
However, I have maintained a core set of followers and fellow wonderful creative spirits. I wish I could say a thank you to every one of you in person with a hug. They are the people who regularly turn up with a friendly comment, a direct message, a mention here or there. I’m so grateful to everyone who has followed my creative highs and lows.
It’s felt good getting all of this out. Writing thoughts down is very cathartic and I can’t recommend it enough. It’s been good to talk and be a little mental.
Have an inspired day