As I have mentioned in previous posts, when I was signed off sick earlier on in the year, I spent a lot of my time trying to bring out the creative side of myself by experimenting with different painting techniques. When I wasn't painting, I began to notice that I would sit and doodle. It was never anything preplanned or overly thought out, but I used to enjoy creating patterns and shapes with some of my black staedtler pens I had left over from University.
At first it was just on random pieces of paper I could find, but then I remembered that my boyfriend Jai and I had bought plain notebooks whilst in Copenhagen earlier on in the year. The idea was that we would sit and draw together whilst sat outside in one of the bars, but it was February, it was freezing, and we didn't have gloves, so it soon turned into a painful task we were not willing to commit to. Not wanting to just throw the notebooks away, I took them back home with me and there they sat on the shelf in my bedroom until months later when my love of doodling took over.
A sample of some of the original designs I created earlier on this year.
At first it started out with me just drawing different patterns of circles of dots. Nothing too complicated, just a repetition of a simple design. However, then my love of nature came through and I started adding petals to the dots and creating daisies. This continued day in, day out, until I had covered three wardrobe doors full of small A6 sheets. I think I had over 60 designs in the end. I was so pleased with how the designs had developed and how I could create so many different patterns from the same flowers but using different formations. I found this way of drawing so therapeutic. With painting, I put a lot of pressure on myself to make the finished piece look perfect and I'd usually go through a ritual of painting over things again and again until I was happy with the end result. Yet, with these drawings I never seemed to make a mistake. It just came so naturally to me to draw these designs. I didn't put any pressure on myself or try to make them look a certain way. I just drew what I felt like drawing on that particular day.
I shared my 60+ collection of designs with family and friends to try and gauge what people thought about them, and if they thought there was any merit in taking these further, and I was so overwhelmed with the response. I guess it wasn't until I started showing my designs to people that they encouraged me to think of what to do with them. After all, I'd spent weeks working on these without a thought of doing anything with them, they were purely a calming exercise that I found comfort in doing. I guess its like the adult colouring books you can buy now. The simple lines and patterns seemed to bring me peace and it helped towards my recovery at a time when my head was so chaotic. It seemed to be the only thing that would slow my mind down. I have always put a massive amount of pressure on myself and my inability to clear my clouded head was one of the reasons I had a breakdown at the beginning of the year.
A sample of some of my final card designs.
At first all my designs were created using only black fine liners. I started adding colour to my designs using my large collection of letraset markers that I had originally bought for doing fashion illustrations during University. I had a spare pad of layout paper and went to work creating new designs but with a splash of colour. I was quite intimidated at first, as I was taking my simple and therapeutic designs to a more considered level, but to my surprise it didn't take away the joy I experienced when creating them. Soon enough my 60+ designs turned into 80+ designs and I knew that I wanted to create something final with this work. This experience was a first for me. Having been taught in University to work in a sketchbook where your pages have to be so carefully considered and thought out, there was something so liberating about drawing one design, ripping it out the book, sticking it on my wardrobe door, and starting the next one. If I didn't like it, I could tear it out, and no one would know!
Don't get me wrong, I love sketchbooks. I could spend hours and hours looking through the books of different designers and artists. I find them so interesting and inspiring, but I also find them quite intimidating. Again, for me, it's that need to make each page perfect. I think thats why this exercise helped me so much, not only mentally, but creatively. I decided to take the next step and bought a set of blank A5 and A6 cards to draw my designs onto. I ended up with a final collection of 40 different flora and foliage based cards, in a mixture of black fine liner and colour. I was so pleased with the outcome and it was so interesting to look back at where the concepts for these designs had started out. They were so organic and the process had been so inspiring and motivating.
A sample of some of my final card designs.
I have released 9 of the 40 card designs on my website today and I am so proud and so pleased to share them with you. The collection really does mean a lot to me, and I'm looking forward to sharing more of the designs in the future. I went through my own little market research experiment a few months ago with some of my friends and family where I got them to pick which 10 designs out of the 40 they like best. That way, I could get a rough idea as to which designs would be the most popular. It was actually really interesting to see what different people chose. If you would like to take a look at the cards I have featured please click on the STATIONERY tab at the top of the page.
I'm so grateful for how this experience has shaped me as an artist and a designer, and how its helped me discover and define my unique style. I think there is a real beauty to things that grow so organically as this process has. Our lives can be pretty fast paced in today's society, and we rarely get the opportunity to slow down and spend time enjoying and experimenting with our hobbies and skills which we once loved or dreamed of trying. I hope this post inspires you to think about an exercise that you've always wanted to try but never have, or a past hobby that you haven't given any time for recently. Spend December treating yourself to this time. Create a little goody bag of projects you can pick up and work on even if its only for 15 minutes. Whether that be drawing, knitting, reading, sculpting, or practicing that dance routine you've always wanted to learn! Just go for it! Make the time to do the little things that make you happy.
This one is for you.