More Creativity

The days have been blurring a bit, not helped by the persistent trapped nerve pain in my leg and lower back – but going into one of my branch libraries has given me a bit more exercise as a change in routine and does seem to have helped with the worst of it.

In the meantime I’ve been continuing to draw and play around with software so there’s at least something constructive going on.

I also finally managed to solo complete a legendary list sector in Destiny2 to retrieve the Four Horsemen exotic before the option disappears with the new season later today. There may have been some quiet swearing involved.

Right, back to work…

Fitness Ow

I’ve been a little lacksadaisical about exercising regularly in lockdown, and so this week has seen a concerted effort to at the very least get my step count back up by going on walks round the block – about thirty-forty minutes depending on pace – with Lady M.

View over the M3 motorway

Today my body has decided to register its protest by twinging at the base of my spine across my hips; so I am currently sitting carefully, reading and writing while I let a hot water bottle ease the spasmed muscles. Later, I shall slowly shuffle to the shops to get some painkillers, and a few minor groceries – and count that as today’s exercise.

Back to the walking tomorrow when everything is a bit more sensible. A pity really, because it looks really nice out there at the moment. On the plus side, I’ve been getting some nice snaps on the phone as I’ve been walking about – so that’s another reason to keep doing it as there really are some hidden gems locally.

Whether it’s local plantlife, or views across the horizon, it’s sometimes easy to forget that we’re right on the edge of London, just where the countryside starts to open up into parklands,woods, and farming but still also relatively urban. It makes finding signs of spring both easy, but also easy to overlook because it rarely takes the form of woodland clearings covered in snowdrops and daffodils. Instead there is blossom on trees and bushes, thick verdant foliage, and the sound of birdsong – all of which do surprisingly well at pushing out past concrete and asphalt – albeit sometimes quite discretely.

Right, I can feel my muscles easing – so I shall change to go out, and try not to look like my spine is fused.

Centering Through Art

It’s no mystery to long-time readers and people who know me that I use art to centre and calm myself. All the things that happen around me flow through my pens to evoke patterns and flows. Sometimes there are creatures and more figurative elements, and sometimes it is a lot more abstract.

The last week or so in ink

A common theme is one of disparate elements flowing into and through each other. There are knots and reflections, sinuous morphology and interlocking pieces. Tension and worry tends to result in spikes, while calmer emotions bring curves and loops.

In a very real sense, a whole page of my sketchpad will reflect the ebbs and flows of my mind and emotions across a period of time.

Some of these pieces get thrown away when done on scrap paper or consigned to collections that rarely see air. Others I’m actually quite happy with, especially if there’s something innovative or new that has emerged in terms of technique or detail. These are details from this week or so’s decompression work

Filter Silliness

I probably spend far too much playing around with the silly filters on social media – mostly as we send updates to each other to put a smile on each others faces.

I’m a cute lil devil apparently

What I find interesting is to see how much fun I can have to produce the more unusual poses rather than just the stereotypical straight to camera glares. It appeals to me on an aesthetic level, and can be a fun way of practicing for the cosplay photos.

While that may seem of limited use – it a) is something that makes me happy and b) means I have more confidence when more official photos are taken. I recently had a shot taken at a work event to go on an ID card, and was able to pose enough within the limits that I actually appear to be full of life rather than sapped of the will to live.

Fabulous, or demonic? The jury is still out

Being able to have confidence in my own appearance is a relatively new development. My weight gains due to disordered eating while depressed were huge – at one point I weighed over twenty-one stone (135kg) which played no small part in my developing type two diabetes. I came to loathe images of me, especially when I compared them to the slim and athletic appearance I had when I was younger.

It has only really been the last couple of years since I’ve started cosplaying that I’ve begun to be comfortable with having my photo taken. Dressing up and putting myself in the hands of photographers keen to help me make the best images has both boosted my confidence and given me practical guidance in how to hold myself in healthier and more flattering ways – and to stop caring about looking silly along the way.

Discarding the voice that cares and frets about not looking ridiculous has been a freeing experience and helped me feel more comfortable in my own skin. It has helped me in my own journeys to know myself, and it has helped reduce my retention of stress.

And that’s why I love playing the Fool for selfies. I can let go, laugh at myself and with others. I can welcome the silliness and feel both childlike and more adult in my appreciation of using my body with at least a little less shame.

Yes, I do actually go out in public and pull faces too

Doodles and Sketchpads

I finally got round to updating this year’s Inktober gallery under the Art pages, and after a few days rest the drawing bug has returned, so some of the more coherent doodles will continue to appear here

This one has been gradually growing in my new sketchbook, mixing block structures with finer lines reminiscent of magnetic force lines. I hadn’t had any image in mind when I started, and the larger fragmenting piece only developed into something resembling a heart when I saw the resemblance and wanted to fill the page.

The finer lines started as more practice at the style, again with the intention of just filling the page, until it felt like any more would spoil it somehow.

There wasn’t any conscious design element to this, but I’ll be interested to hear what it says or suggests to people.

Another Week Down

Oh, wait, I’m working again this weekend. Okay, it’s nearly the end of the week. Lady M’s nephew is staying with us this weekend, so hopefully they won’t end up as semi-drowned rats while I’m at work and I’ll be greeted with smiles as I get home.

A quiet Sunday will hopefully then be achieved before I have to go get prodded by disappointed diabetic clinic nurses and ambushed with a flu jab on Monday.

I did have an interesting character come into work and try to engage with me at work over art, writing, the creative process, and the angels and demons that inspire us – but the need to stay professional overrode the temptation to play along. No doubt they’ll return at some point. There’s something to look forward to…

Oh well, was nice to have the doodles on the scrap paper admired

Inktober: The Final Push

I made a minor mistake not bringing my sketchpad with me, but I’ve persevered through and managed to get the last stretch done. Don’t get me wrong, I love the challenge of working to prompts each year, but I’m going to enjoy not having to draw for a few days – especially as we’re in the road and there’s a wedding to attend.

Given the fun and games I’ve had with my back this week, perhaps I should have drawn that, but a couple of plasters seemed to evoke the prompt of Injured more precisely. I’ve never drawn plasters before for some reason, so not bad for a first try.

Day Thirty prompted us with Catch and I enjoyed this simple representation of a fishing line that may or may not have something on the end of it. I particularly had fun with the riverbank and bushes in the background for some reason.

And at last, the final image for the month: Ripe. As we’re visiting my parents and cheeseboards are a regular feature of meals, it seemed entirely appropriate to represent the lovely Cambazola we had yesterday evening. For those unfamiliar with that cheese, it’s a mixture of Camembert and Gorgonzola that combines creaminess with the sharpness of blue cheese. One of my favourites after a good stilton…

Inktober Twenty-Seven and Twenty-Eight

We were travelling most of yesterday so I was too tired to draw anything yesterday, let alone upload and post it. Today, everything hurts, and the traditional seaside air lassitude has me groggier than the groggy thing of your choice, but I have at least done yesterday’s picture so I can post these two images up

Day 27: coat – I’ll make no apologies for a pretty literalist approach to this one. I could have done something cute with coatings or animals, but cloth and semi-normal clothing is something I still feel I need to practice, so I did this. It’s not perfect, but it is recognisably a coat and is done in a mix of grey fineliner pens.

I forgot to pack my big sketchpad so we’re back to the small notebook that I used for most of last year’s images. The prompt is Ride – so I wanted to do something with a bit of implied motion to it. As winter approaches, what better than a snowman enjoying a ride in a sled? Go on, tell me he’s not enjoying himself!

Inktober Twenty-Five and Twenty-Six

Day two of being on leave, and I’m just enjoying having a staycation for a couple of days – and it’s just as well as it’s allowing me to get all the sleep out the way that my body is craving. Oh, and do some drawing

Day 25’s prompt is ‘Tasty’ – and while I made Lady M groan by saying I’d draw her but be unable to do her justice, I settled instead on attempting a chocolate-coated strawberry, complete with a pot it’s just been freshly dipped in. It’s fun, but another reminder that I really do need to practice drawing real things. It’s recognisable as a strawberry, but it could be much, much better.

The prompt for day 26 is “Dark” – so inspired by lady s’ love of the TV show Hannibal I went for a representation of the titular character as the Chesapeake Ripper vision used as a recurring motif in the show. I enjoyed this piece, spending my time in layers of greys to produce it.

Inktober Twenty-Three and Twenty-Four

We’re nearly into the final week of Inktober, and I’m about to have a few days off so finding time to draw as inspiration strikes should be a bit easier. Well, that’s the theory

Day Twenty Three gave us Ancient as a prompt, and while I initially toyed with doing a wider Stonehenge/Avebury landscape I settled instead on focusing on a classic trilithon to practice rendering a set of stone surfaces and a bit of perspective. I’m really happy with how this one turned out, layering successively darker greys and some fine black lines for outlines.

I struggled a bit with “Dizzy” and originally drew a full-length pirouetting figure before making horrible mistakes with feet and leg proportions. So I started again with a head and shoulders shot. I only realised as I took the photo that I’d drawn a blonde to lean into the “dizzy blonde” stereotype.

I’m not as keen on this second image as I am on yesterday’s, but it’s also about of an apples and pears comparison. Onward!