Reflections on My Daily Blogging Challenge

This post is VERY late. Oops, haha!

Back in February, I decided to challenge myself to daily blogging. So on February 1st, I sat down and put any and all ideas on paper without rhyme or reason and began to organize it into an editorial calendar. After all, I thought, the hardest part about daily content creation is having new ideas daily right?

Turns out it wasn’t as simple as that. I had a ton of ideas! I even had some that would have carried me over into March. I had single posts and series ideas. Luckily for me, I still have these ideas at my disposal and they will all make their way to this space. They just didn’t quite make it for February.

Technically, I didn’t succeed in daily blogging. I got as far penning in all of the titles in my editorial calendar and I published as far as February 22nd. There were days when I wrote I few in a row because I had fallen behind. If the main goal was simply to publish every single day then yes, I totally bombed in the last week of February.

However, just as I began to fall into the depths of despair (lit nerds will know what I’m referring to here!) at my apparent failure, I began to think about the point of this challenge and why I set it in the first place.

In the past, daily blogging seemed to be no problem for me. I was blogging for myself and didn’t care either way if I had a schedule or a plan or even readers. It was a creative outlet and place to save lovely discoveries. I had my own unique voice and it wasn’t stifled by fear. That first blog opened doors for me and I found myself blogging for other people and companies for several years. Blogging seemed like a cinch. But when I sat down to finally write my own blog, I was stuck. Coming up with ideas was not the issue.

I had lost my “voice.” Ghostwriting and blogging for companies are drastically different from personal blogging. My February daily blogging challenge became a means to finding my personal blogging voice. In that sense, it was a success! I discovered that daily blogging is probably not for me, at least not right now.

[I had another insight about the success of this challenge but life just happened – the phone rang, there was a knock on the door, bathroom break, Mr. Boeing started to bug me for a walk – and I lost my train of thought!]

I’ve also realized that I need systems in place in order accomplish everything I want to get done. [I found it!] Doing things in a random order with no plan makes it much more difficult to complete tasks on my to-do list. Systems, I think, will be extremely valuable.

On to the next challenge! [I don’t know what it is yet.]

On Bouncing Back

Had a bad day? Fell off the wagon? That’s cool, but now it’s time to bounce back.

Originally when I began this post, I was thinking more about how to bounce back from a bad art day. You know the kind: sketches feel extra rough, the paint isn’t cooperating with your paper… But the more I thought about it, there are so many situations beyond a bad day in the sketchbook that require us to bounce back.

Whether you are struggling with your art, post-vacation blahs, or a depletion of confidence in your abilities, it is so important that we get out of our own heads and back into the creative groove. I clearly have suffered one of these ruts and couldn’t find the inspiration to write whenever I did find the time. I even found it difficult to paint and sketch because nothing seemed to work or I simply had no drive. I’d get lazy and choose to watch TV instead. At the worst moments, I found that my confidence in my abilities was so low that suddenly all of my creative ideas (even the bad ones) seemed daunting and obscure.

So how does one break the cycle and bounce back? I took these two steps:

First, I spoke to someone.

As cheesy as that sounds, I decided to share that as a full time creative trying to make my living through my creative abilities, I was in a rut. It’s scary to admit when people around you may not understand and think, “That’s crazy! You’re so good.” (Hopefully that’s what they think! Haha) Basically, having someone to confide in works wonders for creative ruts. Often creative entrepreneurs have no office mates and it’s in these moments that can be felt more acutely.

Second, I just started.

I started typing, sketching, painting, tinkering, planning. You have to just go for it and literally dive back in and work through the first few pages, scribbles, sentences of crap before you can get back to the good stuff. I think creativity, like drawing, is a skill that can be learned. It’s a muscle that can be developed and just like going to the gym, the first time back after a break is painful!

Time to bring out and flex your creative guns! The more you practice your craft, the more confidence you will build as you see yourself progress. Here’s the thing: there are going to be bad days in the future. There are going to be people in your life that just suck the confidence right out and if you are a sensitive person, that’s going to affect you.

It’s how you bounce back and carry on your dream that defines you…

🙂

Painting Paris

Religieuse à la rose. Chou à la crème. Macaron a la fraise. Quai des Tuileries. Maison de la Rose. Patisserie…

There are so many beautiful sounding words in French. I also think they look pretty when they are written out, although I wish the spelling matched the sound a little better! Still, it looks and sounds pretty in each respective way.

Paris itself is quite easily one of the prettiest cities in the world and it has inspired artists over and over again. It’s charms, colours, and flavours capture the creative souls and inspire art in all its forms. And yes, I am aware that I wax-poetic about Paris, which is absolutely a cliche. I’m cool with that; hopefully you are too!

Here are some finished illustrations that were inspired by delicious pastries, charming shops, timeless architecture and the bright pops of green and blue on every street corner…

A Color Story + UNUM

Instagram is, hands down, one of my favourite social media platforms. As a creative and a professional picture maker, I imagine it comes as no surprise that it would be. It’s a wonderful tool for providing inspiration or even for marketing. And there is so much inspiration to be found there! Perhaps I’m a little bit addicted but I do enjoy beautiful images and art.

Two apps that I absolutely love and employ before posting anything to my Instagram are A Color Story and UNUM.

A Color Story is hands down my favourite photo editing app these days. I’ve tried out quite a few before I finally found myself always tapping on this app. Of course, it has the usual editing functionalities (cropping, temperature, saturation, contrast, etc, etc, etc.), but I also love the potential to create a new image. I tend to stick to my favourite editing steps and filters, but I love having the option to add light leaks, colour fogs and even adjust the hues so completely as to produce a completely new piece. Its interface is also very easy to navigate and benefits of good app design should not be overlooked!

The other app I am absolutely in love with is UNUM. This app allows me to plan my Instagram feed ahead of time and keep track of useful statistics. There’s more to Instagram stats than it’s follower numbers. As my personal Instagram evolves, I find it increasingly interesting to see which times are best to post and which hashtags are the most effective. If you are using Instagram for business, it makes sense to have it planned ahead of time (why scramble to create content here when you wouldn’t for a blog, for example). I only use the free version and already I find it so useful!
(I am definitely not paid to talk about these apps… but that would be cool! Sup UNUM. Sup Color Story 😎)

Appreciating Wins

I was chatting with one of my girlfriends the other day and I asked her: do you appreciate your wins?

We both began to note how we all too quickly give our successes a quick thumbs up and then it’s back to the hamster wheel of work and worry for the next goal; our wins slowly fade away. But why should these wins fade away? I understand that we can’t pat ourselves on the back for a job well done forever, but undervaluing them doesn’t make sense either.

I don’t believe it is “humility” that drives creatives to undervalue and barely appreciate a win. Humility is defined as a modest or low view of one’s own importance. As creatives, we strive to put our best work out into the world; the best we can create in that moment. If we thought so little of what we created and achieved, perhaps we wouldn’t even give it a chance to succeed; we wouldn’t publish our work for the world to see. So no, I don’t think it is humility that stops us from recognizing and enjoying the success of a project. You can be humble and still celebrate a job well done.

I think perhaps, it is a swell of negative thoughts or unrealistic goals or even high energy that drives us to pass over our little successes without giving them the time to be enjoyed. I’ll give you an example of what I mean:

Recently, I worked on a fun project for a magazine. It didn’t pay a lot but I had creative freedom and could reach a decent audience. I believed in the message of the article and I enjoyed the process. I worked, sketched, tweaked, connected with people, painted. From the beginning email correspondence to the final hand in and invoice, the project was a personal win. Every project is! As soon as it was finished, however, I went right back into my routine of work, work, set goal, work some more.

I didn’t take time to appreciate the success of my most recent project completed. Somehow the inner critic began its work, sending subtle thoughts to my brain to forget what I just accomplished; you’re not good enough, you’re not working hard enough. It took someone else to remind me to stop and take note of what I’d accomplished.

Never forget to appreciate your wins, all of them, big and small.

Creative Compendium 19.02.17

Ça en vaut la peine. It’s worth it.” –French Words

I love that Instagram account. Happy Sunday and welcome to this week’s creative compendium. I’ve got a short selection of inspiring articles and favourites that I must share and keep track of here.

Sometimes, when you have so many interests and creative ideas, it can be hard to discern your life’s meaning. At least, I felt this way in the past and on this subject, I recently read this article from Better Humans, Bill Watterson: How to Find Your Life’s Meaning.

Everyone, every illustrator and artist, follows a different path to their definition of success. This Girlboss Found Success by Owning Her Feminine Style.

This may seem childish but I love picture books. I loved them as a kid and then I forgot all about them as I moved on to novels and longer, imaginary adventures. Picture books have made a comeback to my bookshelves, now for their beautiful artwork. Picturebook Makers is one of my favourite blogs that celebrates illustrators from around the world and their creative process.

I wrote about the sublime in yesterday’s post but I didn’t really elaborate too much on Caspar David Friedrich. Click if you are curious!

(Feature image: Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, Caspar David Friedrich)

The Sublime

The other day, I had a view of the most incredible clouds at sunset. It was a huge sweeping expanse of dark greys with bright oranges and pinks reflecting upon them against a pastel sky. Even the mountains looked small in comparison. It was incredible. It was sublime. There was no better word I could think of to describe what I was viewing from my castle in the sky (a.k.a. the apartment).

Seeing those incredible clouds and thinking about the sublime transported me back to my university art history lectures. I decided it would be fun to go back through my old notes to refresh my memory…

The sublime is a concept, state or thing of high spiritual, moral, intellectual or artistic value. In art, it is an awe-inspiring image that creates terror or a feeling of insecurity. It’s the sense of something well beyond your control when you are confronted by an image or a view of nature and its vastness; it’s meant to inspire a feeling of being overwhelmed and/or vulnerable. The romantics explored these emotions in their art and wanted to share the sublime with their viewers and they believed that it was good experience these emotions.

Here is the first artist that comes to my mind when I think of the sublime:

In these images, the fog and mists create mystery and a sense of limitless space, making the viewers experience no security and ambiguity. Where is the horizon? Visibility is limited and sound would be skewed. The fog could be seen as a metaphor for an unclear future. The figure in Wanderer above the Sea of Fog is the focus, surveying a murky landscape while at the same time, insignificant the grand landscape he is surveying.

Nebel especially, Friedrich created an image that is meant to transcend rational structure and inspire a search for narrative. For me, these images create a sense of smallness in the world. It’s also disconcerting to try and see what is right in front of you. He is enveloping the viewer and the image in fog.

In other images of the sublime, nature is threatening. They don’t celebrate the power of the individual but rather express man’s vulnerability; for example, Snowstorm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps by Joseph Mallard William Turner. The storm in this painting is of cataclysmic proportions and threaten to destroy the figures.

Another, more subtle depiction of the sublime can be found in Antoine-Jean Gros’ Napoleon Bonaparte visiting the Plague-Stricken in Jaffa. Here the sublime is expressed through the contrast in colours, the horror of disease and the mystery of the Far East. It invokes a sublime response to neoclassical subject matter. Here, neoclassicism comes together with romanticism through subject and reaction.

 

Art history really is fascinating.

 

 

The Honey Glass Dip Pen

I’ve got a new ink tool to add to my collection, and this is the most pretty and delicate of them all. This past Christmas, my parents gifted me a Honey Glass Dip Pen.

It’s a gorgeous piece of art in and of itself. Its delicate nib is a piece of spiralled blown glass that holds the ink in the grooves. No matter the angle you write at, the grooves are all around allowing the ink to flow easily and smoothly. I was so surprised how easy it was to write with and how long one dip lasted. Perhaps this was my imagination but I also felt like it made my handwriting look nicer!

Okay, maybe it doesn’t make my handwriting nicer but that thought is just proof of how I romanticized what a beautiful pen can do.