This month the North Vancouver Community Arts Council has a great exhibit opening called "Homesick" and will be featuring my collage work in their lineup. It's a great topic, with a wide range of art styles and creative minds showing some of their most inner feelings and emotions.
For me the concept of home has changed so much over the last 10 years, and I've traveled a long, winding journey in deeper understanding and appreciating what it is to feel that yearning. I think it's going to be an amazing showcase of truly emotional and vulnerable pieces, well worth a trip over the water to check out.
For more info, click here to be directed to their website, or if you don't know your way around North Vancouver click here for a map to the gallery.
Once again, the new year seems to have crept up on me without warning. It seems the older I get, the easier it is for time to slip by unnoticed, until one day I turn around mid-sip into my morning brew and BAM! There it is. Three years have gone by and I didn't even see... Ok, three years is quite the exaggeration, but you get my point.
I read a small quote by someone recently, I don't even know who said it originally, but it really blew me away - "How we live each day is how we live our lives". What an outstanding thought. That those days we let quietly slip by while we wait for something better is actually what life is made of. And as we all pull our purse strings a little tighter, it got me thinking about what it really costs when we spend our time.
I've been an over-subscriber of the "one day" school of thought for most of my life. One day, things will be clearer. One day, all of my dreams will come true. One day, Chris Evans is gonna sit on the bar stool right next to mine... But in the meantime, here I am sat around waiting for one day to get here, letting day after perfectly good day slip right by without a second thought. Until I just happen to look behind me and see a great pile of them stacked up high like expired tickets. That's all spent my friend, no returns and no store credit. And you have to ask yourself, with all this spending, what is it I actually got in return?
I went through all my old family photos this Christmas, as I unexpectedly found myself back in the UK for the holidays. It seems an odd and very human process to capture moments of life, then move swiftly on and forget how cherished they are until they find themselves out of the bottom drawer and spread all over the living room. Even more so these days, where capturing a moment seems to have gone so far that you miss the moment entirely. Capturing and preserving seems so significant, yet in the process the moment is never enjoyed, and so did it ever even exist? Yes I'm looking at you, guy with his iPhone up and at 'em for the entire concert...
One of the first things I did this new year was spend time at my Grandad's hospital bedside. I lamented all the time I had frivolously spent, waiting for my "one day" to get here, trying to wait out that perceived rain cloud that was a bad time in my life. All those days I wished away because something better was just around the corner. The age old thought we all play with when we lose someone we love - 'what would I give to get that time back?' - The hard truth of it is you will never get it back. It's gone. You're gone. A version of yourself from a time and place that you'll never be again. And so we lament, and carry on with our flippant spending habits until the next time we actually stop to check our balance a few years down the line.
It's the thing we feel most poor of, and yet the thing we have in abundance. It seems a foolish thing to continually underestimate the true value of time well spent.
Now I've never really been one of these "seize the day" sorts, where every morning has to bring a new adventure, and if you're not planet-hopping or throwing yourself out of planes your not really living - Geez, it's exhausting to even think about. But this year I have discovered a new-found appreciation for the day to day. Because really, that's what makes up a life.
Getting to "one day" does take work. Those dreams I have, that life I want. It's there and it's waiting for me. Some days that means work. Hard work, and lots of it. Some days it means taking a chance or being brave, and some days it means darkly sobbing into a tall, fat glass with a foamy rim and cool, honey bubbles. There will even be days when I just stay still, and do nothing. Sit and watch the Captain America films. Again. Or wash the dishes, scrub under the toilet, rearrange the bookshelf, argue with the radio and so on and so forth...
Some will be big. Some will be quite small. But each and every day that passes is an opportunity for me to be the best version of myself, and revel in all the thousands of big and little things that make up my existence on this planet.
And maybe my "one day" is tomorrow. Maybe it's not. Maybe it'll never come. But I know for certain that no matter what it brings, each day in-between is worth it's weight in gold.
Happy New Year guys. Whatever you end up doing, make it count.
Photo credit: Andrew Montgomery, Michael Quinn, and Tim Marshall
Pete and I took a trip to the island this weekend to see relatives for a birthday celebration. Usually when we go we stay over for the night, but they had their hands pretty full already so we opted for a day trip. It's the first time we've taken a car over together, and despite the ludicrous prices of BC Ferry crossings, it was a great opportunity to soak up some amazing views.
The crossing itself was gorgeous, it started out really murky and grey but brightened up as we got out to sea. I don't really mind a bit of bad weather, especially on the ocean. It makes it seem all the more mysterious, and a little bit spooky. One of my favourite things about the sea is that sense of the unknown, mysteries lurking in the depths.
It was nice to see the sun come out though, and the views coming back with the sunset were astounding. I've never seen such beautiful colours, the mountains and the sky in soft pastel tones against the dark water.
Despite the expenses and hassles of ferry trips, I have to say I do really enjoy them. Even in bad weather. There's just something a little soul settling about it; not having anything to do, no phone signal, no choice but to sit back and enjoy the view, soak up the changes in the weather. It helps when the ferry is only at a quarter capacity too, getting away from people for a while is definitely a big part of it. Maybe I'll make it a regular thing, a high dose in peace of mind...
I've had a good couple of trips to the thrift store this weekend and found some interesting bits and pieces to decorate our apartment with. Finding something amazing at the thrift store is such a satisfying feeling, like when you get a line in Tetris. There's no beating a good bargain.
I fall in love with this mug every time I see it, it's hands down the coolest thing I've ever seen in my life. It's a hand made German ceramic, missing the lid I think but I prefer it that way. It's. freaking. awesome.
I picked up this set of ceramic book-shaped shakers, although I'm missing volume three. But that's one of my favourite parts, searching for matching pieces to add to the collection.
I also got this Hazel Atlas creamer, which I've already promised Pete we'd use to ceremoniously pour milk on our cereal when we build our breakfast nook.
I'm on the look out for more Hazel Atlas stuff for the kitchen, I love the colours and patterns on the glassware.
You've got to be in the right mood for thrift store shopping. When you boil it down to the basics, it's a lot of scrounging through other people's junk...
I've tried to train myself not to just buy all the crazy things I find in thrift stores, just because they're amazingly cheap or so obscure I feel like I have to own them. The worst challenge I find is wanting to save things. I see an old, cherished book or a figurine you know someone once loved and it's hard to pull myself away. In my head I see the box of my great nan's trinkets in the hallway of her bungalow after she died and all I want to do is take those old rusty clocks and chipped porcelain rabbits home where I can make sure they're safe from the trash heap. Someone cared for these things once, and it's often sad to see where they end up.
If I gave into every impulse though, I'd be surrounded by so much bric-a-brac it'd be like living in a constant raffle...
Thrift store things I wish I had room in my life for...
For some reason lately I've had a particular obsession over salt and pepper shakers. I think it all started at the Seattle public market, in the basement there's a shop solely dedicated to antique salt and pepper shakers. We already have three sets, I have a feeling we're going to have to get a dedicated shelf one day very soon. On the same vein, I have become particularly partial to weird shaped ceramics.
We've all been there - we see something in the thrift store that is so amazingly unique, we've always wanted one and it's so cheap that we just have to get it or we'll DIE. And it's ok if we just do it that one time... but we don't. That happens every time and more than once in every store. Before you know it you're coming home with more stuff, taking up more space, spending more time dusting weird things on the shelves than actually enjoying them. Three months go by, it's time for a clear out and all that stuff goes right back where it came from. It's a vicious cycle.
I need to take some control over this habit, before it becomes an addiction.
When in doubt Seth, stick to the five Ws of thrift store shopping...
It's very much a double edged sword - I believe in surrounding yourself with good design and beautiful things, but I also think that filling your life with stuff won't make it magically better than before. A good balance is key. That's why I love thrift store shopping, and spending less money on more unique items. If there was some sort of disastrous Breville-related mishap that destroyed everything I own, it would be ok. I love these things, but they're just things. Possessions. Objects. They're not expensive, they're not irreplaceable and they're not the reason my life is happy and fulfilling. If I can just remind myself of that the next time I want to buy a 2 foot tall wolf's head bust to use as a doorstop, I'll be OK.
When I first started my blog, it was more of a quick way to update my website with all the little bits and pieces that didn't really belong in my portfolio. I wanted to share those weird little doodles and half-arsed pictures but had nowhere to put them. That was a fair few years ago now, and since then blogging has become so much bigger and bolder that it's turned into an art form in itself. Blogs seem to be demanding more and more out of their owners and it's hard to keep up.
In all honesty, I find the whole thing overwhelming. I just wanted to show off a few scribbles, but now it seems there is far more to it.
I have to write articles, push myself on social media, give advice, run competitions, give things away, answer questions, count keywords, be a constant presence... As someone with a full time job and an overreach of projects calling my name [and, if truth be told, a lazy bum] I find it hard to live up to the expectations of what it means to have a blog these days. With so much going on it's difficult to sit down and dedicate time to a well thought out and aesthetically pleasing article.
Time to write being a separate issue, my first real problems are as follows:
Every time I go to sit in front of the screen and type something to post, these glaring facts about myself stare me down like an angry swan at the park. Ready to strike, it knows that I don't belong...
The world of blogging doesn't really seem to have a lot of space for me. As a grouchy, brutally honest British girl with a stiff upper lip and low tolerance for shenanigans I can't seem to find the right voice. All the popular blogs I've come across seem to be written by blissfully delusional stay-at-home-bake-and-sew-doting-housewife-mom-of-twelve types. Not saying that I have a problem with it, but it's just not me. And if that's the audience then what do they want with the opinions of a 26 year old ginger living in sin with her equally cantankerous boyfriend?
The answer is not much. But at the end of the day, everyone is different and the key is embracing who you are and what you have to say, rather than fighting to emulate other people. After reading a few issues of Artful Blogging and doing a bit more actual research, I jotted down a few good tips for getting a little more serious about writing articles for my blog.
I call them 'real articles' because some of my past attempts haven't really felt that way. They've been ploys to trick more traffic to my site, or lazy attempts at keeping my site fresh with content I don't really like. With these guidelines I wrote for myself I'm writing higher quality entries that make me feel better about my brand, which is what's important when trying to carve a space for yourself on the web.
Now that I've got a system in place that works for me, I've found my blog much more enjoyable to interact with. Before I saw it as a chore, something that loomed over me like overdue chemistry homework. It's still time consuming, and a struggle with myself to do something constructive rather than sit with my feet up and a cup of tea watching true crime documentaries. But with all this in place it's getting easier with every new entry, the difficulty now is how many witty metaphors I can come up with in a day...
A squeezing grip around your heart, no matter how hard you wish for artist's block to go away that freeze on the flow of your ideas just isn't going anywhere. Like being snowed in for a long winter, it can be dark, bleak and miserably lonely. For a while now I've been struggling with breaking down that wall and getting those ideas and creativity flowing, and it's definitely harder than it looks.
Creative block can happen to all of us, no matter what you do - draw, paint, write, cook, bubble gum sculptures, it can strike at any moment. The lights go out and suddenly you can't see the beauty or wonder in anything. Life is just blah. Being creative in a blah life is next to impossible. I'll sit in front of the computer, a sketch book, a bucket of lego and nothing will happen. Nothing will get created.
Have you ever experienced it? It's awful, and when creativity is such a huge part of who you are, it can seem like a piece of you just flew away. As I sit in front of a blank piece of paper I start to get the feeling that nothing is ever going to come, and this leads to an unwillingness to try. The notebooks get dusty and my sharpeners begin to rust, and I get blue watching all this time go by without a single thing to show for it - apart from perhaps a healthy right hand mouse click, and the highest number of rings I've ever collected as Sonic the Hedgehog...
In my journey through the proverbial wall, I discovered ways in which to equip myself with metaphorical tools that would help me break the barriers down. The best first step I could think of was going past the symptom to find the cause, and trying to solve the problems that may be building this wall around me.
These are my reasons. When I stopped and looked at everything I had on my plate, it was clear to see why I might not be feeling very creative. From this point I found it easier to navigate the next step and find a way of dealing with the problems, and pushing through them.
It's tricky to decide in which direction to go next. Although identifying the issues behind it made things a little easier, figuring out how to combat the block was still a hefty task. It's getting over that first hurdle that's the trouble, chipping away slowly and patiently until you can finally remove that first brick, and see the light on the other side.
The first thing I did, was nothing. As I was not able to think of ideas or feel in the mood to create, it seemed like a sensible move to embrace the lack of movement in my artistic life. I took a break from creating, and by choosing that break rather than trying to push through it, I was validating my own decision to not create. That felt miles better, particularly in this heat as it gave me the chance to really enjoy the summer and get parts of what some people might call a tan. I wasn't thinking "I should be using this time to create" and trying to be more productive, instead I was actually beginning to enjoy the lack of work and pushing myself. I became an art bum. Van Gogh would have been proud, the mooching layabout.
Accepting my forced hiatus gave me some breathing room, and a little perspective. It refreshed me and took a load off my mind, and felt like the first domino had finally began to fall. After that, I took some steps to ensure I maintained that positivity as I began to break through. These were my guidelines, I don't like to call them "rules" because it sounds too rigid. Rigidity is what got me here in the first place...
Sitting staring at the screen feeling sorry for myself I took a big gulp from my mug and thought to myself how deliciously comforting a cup of tea can be. Warm and wet, washing away all of life's distractions with one milky wave. It's like a snuggly duvet on the inside. Tea. Glorious Tea. I got out my sketchbook and drew a cup. Then a pot. Then ten pots. Then a room with a teacup in it, and a typographic poster about how amazing tea is and before you know it, ideas are sliding in thick and fast, and piling up in my head like love letters on Ryan Gosling's door mat. I had broken through, and finally I could feel the flow begin again.
Having lived my whole life knowing that a brew will always see you through, I don't know how I could have missed it being the key to combating artists block. I guess the fact that it's been too hot to drink it for the last 3 months has been a contributing factor...
Now that I'm back in the game I'm churning out decent ideas by the bucketload. The past week or so I've been thoroughly enjoying creating new things, coming up with new ideas and exploring just how far I can push my creativity. But like a cold hard case of jury duty, it can come at any time, and last for as little or as long as it chooses. All an artist can do is be prepared.
Creative block is a struggle. I'm not saying it's a fight for your life or anything, I'm not in talks with Lance Armstrong about any wristbands. But it is something that can affect an artist and their work. It makes them moody, at the very least. Take some time to validate and appreciate your creative process and flow, you never know when it'll dry up. And if you're ever in any doubt, put the kettle on.
At the bookstore today I found an amazing set of postcards based on the famous Penguin books from Sir Allen Lane. Pete's sister has an amazing collection of Penguin Books that I am quite jealous of, but as we don't really have the space right now to start collecting books, these will have to do.
I've already been through them and picked out my favourites, and can't wait to get a huge frame for them all. I even picked out a selection specifically for the bedroom wall, which I thought were particularly apt.
I am obsessed with postcards at the moment, and these beautiful, high quality prints have done nothing but encourage my fascination. If you're a fan of the classics and of great design, I highly recommend this wonderful box set, which comes in the coolest faux book box. A design delight that sits pretty on both my bookshelf and my wall. The only problem is I wouldn't dream of sending one of these beauties through the post...
Sometimes it's hard to get motivated. The ideas are there, but there's no real desire or need to put them into action. For me, this is at its worse when I have too much on my plate, and I lose control of things that are happening in my life. Things have been tough recently, due to a number of different things having various knock-on effects on me. I've never really been one to dwell on things without action, but sometimes you just need to take some time out, reassess what's important and start again.
So I had a little break, took some time out for myself for a change and worked on some much needed TLC and reigniting my passion for creativity. My life, my relationship, my home and my art have had a little refresh, and I had a tweak of the website again to give it a facelift.
The summer is here, and it's time to move forward into the sunshine. who's with me?