On what keeps me sane

Today’s topic for Blog Every Day in May with Rosalilium is: Fit and healthy. What do you do to stay fit or be a healthy individual. Share any tips or advice/plans to get healthier.

My answer to this is simple. I make art. I know what you’re thinking… art doesn’t make you fit. Painting will not tone your stomach. Lugging around huge boxes of art supplies might build muscle, but generally, it’s not going to make you physically fit. However, there was a six month period after finishing my A-Levels where I just didn’t do any art. I was completely burnt out, and I’d had such a horrible experience of tutors telling me my art was naff… I just couldn’t be bothered anymore. But living without creativity… that’s the most unhealthy I’ve ever felt. I was grumpy, I was unmotivated, I couldn’t focus on anything. This all changed when I finally opened up my sketchbook again.

So today I want to talk about one of my favourite things in the world, and the one thing that keeps me sane: art journaling. I have been experimenting with art journals for about four years now. The first two years don’t really count, as they were art-journals-for-ALevel-credit instead of art-journals-for-creative-fun. The third year is the year I always say I ‘started’ art journaling, and it was filled with hours of research and experimentation. Much fun was had. The fourth year I took two online workshops: 21 Secrets (hosted by Connie Hozvicka) and a free mini-course by Traci Bautista called Doodles Unleashed. And with these, I discovered that I absolutely loved learning from this online community of artists, and just letting other people inspire me. This year, I pretty much went off my head and started a bunch of online workshops, and although cramming them all in limits the ‘just me’ journaling I get done, surrounding myself with all these amazing, but oh-so-different artists is beyond inspiring.

Art journaling is just so low pressure it’s unreal. You can literally scribble on all the pages if you want to. You can glue in random receipts. You can create works of art or you can draw stick men. You can write out to do lists, you can doodle to your heart’s content or you can play around with journal prompts. The whole point is that you’re free to do whatever you want. To see a little bit of my art journaling, have a browse through the categories in the sidebar–>

D x

P.S. Seeing as I bring them into a lot of my blog posts, I thought I’d give you a summary of all the classes I’m taking part in this year, and what I think of them:

Doodles Unleashed Video Kit Club (Traci Bautista)

This art ‘kit’ includes three workshops (Inspiration+Mark Making, Girlie Glam Faces and Type+Letters) and six bonus projects. I absolutely love it. This is probably the class that has helped me discover the things I love to do in my art. Each workshop is broken down into (number) lessons and each lesson includes videos and PDF’s (which you can keep). As the workshop ran its course last year, all the lessons are self-guided. I actually prefer that as you really can just work at your own pace, there’s no pressure to keep up with everyone else. For more information, click on the link above.

Life Book (Tamara Laporte)

Life Book is a year-long art journaling course that includes one lesson per week. A number of artists have designed lessons, and all have such different styles that you really do learn a lot. Life Book also focuses on a lot of personal development exercises (which are entirely optional), I generally work through the arty parts but the meditative, self-analysing parts make me feel a little bit uncomfortable sometimes. All the videos and supporting PDF’s are downloadable, which is great as the course gets taken down at the end of the year. For information on how to register, click here. To see some the Life Book pages I’ve created so far, click Life Book in the category section of the sidebar –>

Inky Doodles (Michelle Houghton)

This was a six-week course that ran in January, and I think this was the second run of the class (it ran for the first time last summer). Unfortunately it isn’t available in a self-paced format, so if you wanted to purchase it you would have to wait for it to go live again… but once you’ve got it you have lifetime access. I did enjoy this class, but I feel that it was aimed more towards people who aren’t comfortable drawing or haven’t really grasped doodling… and as doodling is kind of my thing, I probably didn’t get as much out of it as others might. I’ve already posted about Lesson 1, Lesson 2 and Lesson 3 of Inky Doodles, I’ll share the rest with you at  a later date.

Whimsy & Wonder (Alisa Burke)

I wrote an introductory post to this class last week (click here to see it). This is a great class for those who create art on a daily basis and those who are contemplating getting back into art. I would wholeheartedly recommend this class to anyone, Alisa has a great teaching style and there’s no way you can not love her! Check out her blog for sneak peaks at her amazing artwork and other online classes.

21 Secrets (Connie Hozvicka)

This is a workshop that runs from April to December and contains 21 classes, each taught by a different artist. I took 21 Secrets last year, but I started mid way through and didn’t have much time to work through all the classes. This year I signed up the day it went live, so I won’t miss a second! There is such variety, I love it! This is probably the one workshop that has inspired me try something completely new. Sometimes these end up as failed experiments, sometimes there’s some art magic going on! The teachers and students on this course offer feedback and guidance all year round, which I love. Click the link above for info on how to register.

As you can see, I’m a busy little beaver right now. With a full-time job, an English degree and a blogging addiction you’d think I’d have enough on my plate without this self-imposed art curriculum, but I wouldn’t give it up for anything!

If you have any other art workshops, challenges, webinars etc that you’d like to recommend, feel free to leave me a comment below!

P.P.S. As someone who is pretty damn busy, I don’t have a lot of time to invest in the gym (and team sports just bring me horrific P.E. lesson flashbacks), but here are some the things I incorporate into everyday life to stay physically healthy:

- I walk everywhere (non-optional due to lack of car, but it definitely has its benefits)

- Eat breakfast every day (helps avoid headaches, snacking and humongous arguments)

- Run up the stairs instead of taking the lift (the minimum being three flights a day)

- Keep a glass of water on my desk/by my bed (as then I’ll absent-mindedly keep myself hydrated)

- Cook my own food as much as possible (so I can control what goes in)

- Dance whenever I can (even if I embarrass those around me…)

- Sleep as much as possible (this is the one I keep to least often though, no time!)

Inky Doodles – Filling up space

Today I thought I’d share the pages from the second ‘Inky Doodles’ lesson. This one was all about filling up space. The techniques Michelle shared included adding a cityscape, adding text and breaking up a page before filling with doodles. Here’s what I came up with:

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I’m not crazy about the text page, it’s just a lot plainer than I’d usually go for…

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A cityscape is not something I’d usually doodle, but I actually really like this page. The warm colours create a sunsetty effect that I’m liking right now…

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These two doodle-intense pages are much more ‘me’. There’s something so therapeutic about doodling without a plan, I love it! I wouldn’t describe either page as an artistic masterpiece but that’s not really what an art journal is all about.

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See you soon!

D x

Inky Doodles – Background Layers

One of the workshops I’m participating in this month is ‘Inky Doodles’ by Michelle Houghton. It’s fun, it’s whimsical and it’s very low pressure… very much more focussed on having fun than creating ‘real art’.

The first lesson was all about creating interesting backgrounds using a variety of simple mixed media techniques. From 5 sheets of A3 paper I’ve made 20 backgrounds that will later be bound in a journal:

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I can’t wait to get doodling!
D x