I really believe in the benefits of drawing something every day. I always start with a proper sketch, which I upload to a sketching thread on ArtTutor, or sometimes maybe a few thumbnails for an illustration I’m planning to make. I try to fit in some writing too – and that’s all before breakfast!

But at Christmas, a friend gave me a Moleskine Accordion notebook:

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I’d never had one before but have many times followed Lynn Chapman’s adventures  as a resident artist doing similar things (with greater skill haha!).

So I set about it, documenting bits of my life every few days or when I felt like it. And today I got to the end of the second side. (You work through it one way, then it sort of folds over and you work your way on the reverse until you get to the cover again.)

It has been such a fun journey. Here is one of my spreads from a month or so ago.FullSizeRender 8

I might have to buy another, but then I also need a few other things, like, um, food! Although art does tend to become all-consuming 🙂

Back in July 2016, I posted about a new version of Humpty Dumpty I had invented on a whim. You can find it here.

This morning I got up and found some new words to another nursery rhyme going round in my head. I jotted them down and then added some pretty primitive sketches.

Maybe I was inspired subconsciously by having seen one-day-old lambs yesterday (ours are late up here), but anyway, I thought I’d post it here tonight to amuse you.

Enjoy!

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The NHS in the UK has an acronym, CLANG, that stands for Connect, Learn, be Active, Notice and Give back – all things we should do every day to stay in a state of mental wellbeing. I hate being told what to do, but it did make some sense, so I self-initiated a task based on CLANG.

Here is the result. Looking at it on a non-retina screen, I do think I will go back in to each and make the highlighted word red instead of green. But apart from that, I am well pleased with my week’s efforts. Hope you like them. There is a certain satisfaction in making them all match in terms of colour and style, just like when I draw a child doing different things but always recognisable.

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My mother always said I was a fairground child. She had reason – I used to like trying my hand at all the stalls. Not that we went to many fairs, but the Girl Guides and the Scouts had them and occasionally one came to town from further afield.

I think I frustrated her because she could see that I had some talent of sorts but that I squandered it (her words!) on getting to grips with many things instead of mastering just one.

Actually, I think this enriches my life. I love learning all sorts of things and getting fun from doing all sorts of activities. But – and it’s a big but – it does mean that while I’m illustrating (and in the zone), I’m fine. Same with writing. But if I’m casually doing one or the other (not in the zone) then I can get seriously distracted . For instance, I had just finished an article illustration done digitally, about the financial sickness of a particular country’s banks, when I decided to do some watercolour! Not for any reason in particular; just some vegetables and fruit for fun. Miniature ones. I’ve assembled them here for you.

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White Nights watercolours on Khadi handmade paper

It’s not that they’re bad (for my lowly ability, they’re quite reasonable – and each is only two inches tall) but I know I won’t continue to practise watercolour: my oil pastels are winking at me. And my alcohol inks… So – fairground child indeed!

What I’m thinking of doing is rationing some of my time. Work is work and I must concentrate, then allocate myself some hours or days to simply do whatever takes my fancy among the fairground stalls. For that, I shall call myself Wandering Ellie.

After finishing two very intense weeks of serious work proofreading and copyediting, I got back to a couple of self-imposed tasks to illustrate two articles.

One was intended to honour some of the celebrities that died in 2016 (delayed from New Year – when it was at least relevant! – because my dad died suddenly). The other draws attention to the amazing number of crowdsourced activities currently happening. These seem to range from medical operations to new products to books to activities. Getting the money doesn’t seem to be a problem (the aspect I show here), but getting the market reach afterwards might be 🙂

My favourite of the two, though, is the celeb one – I wanted to show them (I hope you can recognise them!) refusing the die off, and the reaper’s angry look as their legend lives on. I hope you like them. Both started on paper and were coloured and finished off digitally.

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Every now and then I remember to practise drawing the same character from different viewpoints doing different things. You may remember this attempt. I was at it again in the last couple of days, only this time I gave him (or is it a her with shortish hair?) some huge objects to manhandle. I was just being whimsical. But then some ideas came to mind.

Maybe:

He feels little in his family. Maybe he has a skill no one really notices. Maybe there is some incident when he knows he could help but no one even glances at him.

So what happens? *shrugs* Well, maybe he has to surreptitiously assemble the things he needs, in order to do whatever he needs to do to sort it out! So, stretching my brain a bit… he, um, steals the sharpener to sharpen the pencil, then draws the image and finally paints it.

That latter image was meant to be pastel sticks but looks more like watercolour paints – except for the lack of a mixing lid! He struggles to lug this one to his bedroom…

So yes, I don’t have time right now because a 400-page book has to be proofread this week for a publisher. But this is how a story could grow in my head, needing many revisions obviously, but perhaps it could be made to work if I really wanted to.

Nice to have conjured up a spark on a cold, icy day 🙂 Happy new year to you all.

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As promised yesterday. How does this work for a pair of writings? Any comments welcome 🙂 Criticism welcome too!

An open book (2)

Knowing the library manager was out till tea time, I made straight for my favourite place down one of the aisles and started picking out all the books in that section that needed mending. I didn’t have to think about it. I’d mentally clocked them up when they came back in less-than-perfect condition. Numbers, facts, photographic memory… If only I didn’t have to work in a library. But it would have to do till something better came along.

Then I heard the main door open with a sough of chilly air, and my heart sank. This dark shut-in building was my womb – and wombs are best left in peace while things develop inside them.

I reluctantly stood up, picked up the damaged books and staggered with them over to the entrance. ‘Can I help?’ I called to the girl. ‘You look lost.’

There. She’d feel as if someone cared. The exact phrase was on page 25 of the training manual, bullet point 3. I could see it in my mind.

She handed me a list. I stared at it in amazement. What sort of person goes into a library with a list? And worse than that, a doctor’s scribbly handwritten list, naming self-help books for the weedy. I now recognise every doctor’s handwriting in this town – they’re all at it, this bibliotherapy thing. What we should do is charge them! And then replace these stuffy old shelves with neat lines of matching, pine-coloured shelving with desks at exact intervals so that people can sit near to where they’re browsing. I could make a proper go of running this place, given a chance.

I offered to fetch the first book on the list, and then, following rule 2, page 30, kept eye contact while asking her for identification. I did start to lose track when she rambled on about eBay and charity shops. Obviously out of work. Probably no good at anything. Anyway, if she was broke, I wasn’t interested in her.

‘Sorry?’ I murmured dutifully. (Rule 10: Keep your complete attention on the client from the moment they ask for help.) ‘Oh yes, I buy my books, too,’ I told her, hoping I’d got it right, and handing her the somewhat dog-eared copy of Managing your Moods. I’d need to add that to the mending pile when she returned it. ‘Yes, much better to own books than borrow them. Though I shouldn’t say that, should I? Not working here!’ (Rule 12: Maintain a sense of humour at all times.)

Of course, I wouldn’t be working here if I could find another job. It’s those stupid interviewers out there who can’t cope with suggestions for improving their businesses. You’d think they’d be grateful to employ someone who could think widely as well as remember all the existing protocols.

‘Have fun with this one, Lucy,’ I added as she turned away. I’m not sure why she looked so pleased – I mean, that book’s dumb.