A spot of reading

Currently reading – ‘ Z – A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald’ by Therese Anne Fowler

 

“I don’t want to live, I want to love first and live incidentally.”
― Zelda Fitzgerald

I’ve always loved reading zeldaabout 1920’s America: the music, architecture, dancing, fashion and films. It seemed so exciting and vibrant. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of my favourite novels and so, when I saw this book, ‘Z – A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald’ by Therese Anne Fowler, I was eager to learn more about the famous couple and their life in 1920’s America. This however is a novel of fiction and at first I was disappointed that it didn’t revolve around more solid facts. I wanted to hear Zelda’s own words so I could view this era through her eyes.  However, on finishing the book I realised this was as close as anyone could get.

What I’ve learnt is that the Fitzgerald’s life or what we know of it, was based in fiction itself. Half truths. Gossip. There have been many differing accounts of what really went on. The whisperings at the time have evolved and grown into fantastical stories that alter from source to source. Their success in the social scene  had it’s foundations in gossip and scandal. Here were these young, beautiful people, determined to be rich and famous, making sure they were at every party, meeting every important person they could, drinking to excess, spending money they didn’t have and by doing so, creating a reputation for themselves that everyone wanted to know and talk about.

Scott was passionate about writing and was clearly good at it, but at the same time seemed almost more obsessed with the idea of being a success and the life that would bring. He was trying to live the life of someone who had succeeded and already made their millions but he wasn’t anywhere near reaching that kind of achievement. Whatever money he did make, he was spending straight away. He was severely in debt and a lot his money went on alcohol and in turn the alcohol became more of a focus that the writing.

Zelda followed him wherever he went, dutifully fulfilling the fictional personality he had created for her. She was his muse but at the same time a sort of puppet. He told her what to wear, how to act, what to say and in turn enjoyed this ridiculously extravagant social life with her, thriving on the attention from strangers and playing up to the act he had created for them both. Women at this time were generally seen to be the pretty things by their husband’s side but understandably, after having had her fun, Zelda grew bored of having no achievements of her own.

“Nothing could have survived our life.”
― Zelda FitzgeraldDear Scott, Dearest Zelda: The Love Letters of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald

This particular story follows Zelda and her desperation to do something more with her life, other than being a wife. It shows a couple living at such heady heights that you knew they had to crash in a tremendous fashion at some point. It’s incredibly heartbreaking and although you have to keep reminding yourself that it is a work of fiction, you get the feeling the truth can’t have been too different. The letters sent between Zelda, Scott, their family and friends as well as their journals are the basis for this and many other novels written about them.  Some say Zelda ruined Scott’s life where as others believe Scott ruined Zelda’s. What I find quite tragically beautiful though is their love for each other. It’s not pretty and it’s not healthy but it’s there. Even in moments where it seems to have gone it’s just hiding under the surface. They may have ruined each others lives but at the same time they couldn’t seem to function without each other in some form.

We will never truly know the truth but maybe the young Scott and Zelda, the couple who loved the excitement and gossip surrounding them, would have loved it that way.

“All I want to be is very young always and very irresponsible and to feel that my life is my own-to live and be happy and die in my own way to please myself”
― Zelda Fitzgerald
Illustration · Sketchbook

Starting a new sketchbook

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Starting a new sketchbook can be a bit daunting but it can also be a welcoming fresh start. In my previous post I talked about what makes me happy and the main thing that brightens me up is drawing. Now that the weather is beginning to improve (let’s forget the recent snow showers), it’s the perfect time to get outside and do a bit of drawing. I’m hoping to take a visit to Edinburgh in the coming weeks and head to the National Museum of Scotland where I love to find a quiet spot to draw. If the sun decides to appear them I’ll hopefully get to sit outside and  draw some of the buildings.

Sketchbooks are usually just a personal thing for me and I don’t tend to show the pages that I work on.  They are a mix of drawings, notes and things I’ve found and stuck in. I always have one nestled in my bag and try to add to it as often as I can. The contents itself isn’t in anyway personal but it’s not something I usually post online or show to people. That is until now!

This new sketchbook is going to be one that I post photos of and hopefully in return it will push me to update it more often. If all goes to plan I’ll have a sketchbook section on my website and I’ll be able to chat about it a bit on here too.  I enjoy looking at other artist’s sketchbook work so perhaps it might be a bit of fun to post some of my own.

My sketchbook preference is a Moleskine as the paper is a joy to work on with the pens I use and if I fancy working with a bit of watercolour, it holds it well. I recently bought a Winsor & Newton Cotman watercolour field plus set.  I usually use my 45 pan set but it’s a bit big for carrying around.  The field plus set has a water carrier and additional pull out mixing trays.  It all folds up into a handy travel friendly size so will be perfect for taking on day trips. My main pen is my trusty Copic Multiliner SP in 0.03mm but I’ll carry around a few others too such as the Zig Millennium and Derwent Graphik. I’m always losing brushes so I tend to just buy sets from Amazon. As long as they are small for detail then they’ll suit me fine.

So that’s me ready to start! I’m working on a few other projects at the moment but sketchbooks for me are for all the moments in between. I don’t have a particular timescale for uploading work from it but keep your eyes peeled for the first instalment soon!

Life updates

The things that make me happy

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Everybody gets down days, weeks, months, and sometimes years. We’d be lying if we said we didn’t, or robots. Unless you’re an emotion sensitive robot but I digress. We all feel rubbish sometimes. I can’t speak for everyone but it’s times like these that I feel the need to surround myself with the things I love.  The things that make me, me. I’m not saying they are cures or the answer but they certainly help. So what kind of things help me? Here’s a few, and maybe they might help you too. They may be my happy things but I’m sure they could work for other people too.

I like to visit bookshops and spend long amounts of time browsing the shelves. I’m never really looking for anything in particular but I usually do end up leaving with a handful of new reads. If I’m being good and not spending, I usually scan books with my Goodreads app and add them to my ‘want to read’ virtual shelf. This kind of feels like I’m buying them in my head. There’s nothing quite like a brand new book. It’s a form of escapism, it’s a new focus, a different perspective, a journey. Books can really help to pick up your brain, give it a squidgy cuddle and place it somewhere new, fresh and comforting.

Beachcombing is a lot of fun and now that the days are getting longer and it’s beginning to get warmer, it’s the perfect weather to wander along a beach with your nose in the sand. I’m not counting out rainy days though.  A windy, rain filled day on the beach can be pretty refreshing. My favourite thing to find on the beach is pottery and other pieces of ceramic as well as sea glass. You can find some pretty amazing treasures.  I like to come up with stories of where they came from and try to guess how old they are. They are lovely for placing here and there in your house or making jewellery out of. I kind of just like having them for the sake of having them and keep them all together in a container. They are a simple pleasure to find, keep and look at.

I’ve got a bit of a childlike fascination with growing plants at the moment. Life goals are to have a cottage with a garden filled with plants but rewind to right now and I have a windowsill covered in little baby cacti instead. Both sets of grandparents had loads of cacti and succulents on their windowsills which I was fascinated with when I was wee.  I found these weird, alien-like plants to be so pretty in their own spiked way. They are kind of ‘on trend’ right now, but that aside they are fun little plants to grow.  I have two trays of baby cacti and have just planted some lithops. Gardening is a nice little activity to focus your brain on and even if it’s just a few indoor plants, it’s still enjoyable.  Cacti are especially fun to grow as they start producing spikes when they are incredibly tiny and it’s entertaining to watch them transform. Put simply, keeping plants just makes me happy.

As I’ve already mentioned in previous posts, I collect old photographs and antique dolls (the broken, worn kind, not the frilly dress kind). Focusing on a collection I’m passionate about helps relieve my mind.  Focus in general is a good thing I think. There’s nothing quite like trawling on eBay for a new addition to those collections but I also like to visit antique shops too which are always fun to browse. Building a collection takes time and patience and I take a lot of joy from finding the next piece that fits the puzzle. If you like something a lot and want to have it in your life, why not start a collection?

Getting up and doing something when you’re low can sometimes be quite a struggle, but once you’re up and about, it can really help to improve your mood. I like to take little day trips to places and explore the streets, shops, galleries and museums. You can do this with family and friends or if you’re feeling like some time to yourself, there’s nothing wrong with taking yourself on a day trip. I usually bring my sketchbook with me and I’ll spend some time sitting in a park or a museum, doing a few sketches. I’ll then perhaps treat myself to a nice lunch and buy a little souvenir from my trip, as well as taking some nice photographs of the day. Sometimes all we need to turn our mood around it to take that first step to doing something with our day and before you know it, your brain is occupied by something new.

Music may seem like an obvious mention but the right combination of my favourite songs can really lift my mood. If you happen to have a pet, try singing songs to them. I know that sounds ridiculous but I swear it’ll make you smile.

When times are particularly tough and the mood is just not lifting, the one thing I’ve always managed to count on is drawing. It is my constant, it is the essence of who I am and what makes me happy. It’s helped me through breakups and low moods.  I’m not saying I was creating masterpieces during these times but my hand was drawing and my brain was focused. It is a repetitive, comforting process. I’m usually my harshest critic when I’m drawing but in these times, that automatically takes a back seat.  It’s like the critic in my head knows this is my medicine.  It knows to take the day off and let me just enjoy the process of creating an image on paper.

These are just a few of the things that make me happy and these are on top of being around family and friends. Sometimes the simplest aid to feeling better can be to a good old blether with a loved. What cheers you up on a bad day?

More drawings and work related things coming soon! Current projects are still in progress but I will post updates as soon as I can.

 

 

 

Old photograph collection

Collecting antique dolls

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As well as collecting old photographs, I’ve not long started collecting antique dolls.  I’m not talking about perfectly dressed, pristine faced dolls.  I am more drawn to the old, worn, broken dolls, that were well loved and that now need a home. These dolls are more beautiful to me, with their broken limbs, missing eyes and sometimes even no bodies at all. I love to imagine who cared for them and squeezed them with hugs until their stuffing came out or their arms fell off. Like my photograph collection, I feel like these pieces of history need a home and so that’s why I’ve started collecting them too. I think I’ll need more shelf space!

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My newest additions are a ceramic head and shoulders doll and a bisque doll head. The head and shoulders doll has no makers marks or holes on the shoulders but it was probably attached to a cloth body.  Perhaps it was glued on as there are slight marks around the edges of the shoulders. You can see that this piece looks similar to two of my others dolls who still have their bodies.

The bisque head still has a lot of its colour, especially the rosy cheeks, red lips and eye brows. The flesh colour is also still quite strong. I love the tiny teeth still in place within the mouth.  It makes me wonder how it would have looked when it had hair, eyes and a body.

It’s pretty exciting searching eBay everyday to see if I can pick up any particularly special items.  As with my photographs, I don’t just buy anything.  It has to fit into what I already have so that usually means the collection builds up quite slowly. That’s probably for the best though as I’d run out of room pretty quickly!

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I couldn’t buy these dolls without also having a look at what photographs were on offer so I also bought this lovely 1920s photograph of a young lady. It doesn’t have any writing on it, or markings but I love her hair and what she’s wearing.  I thought it would suit the rest of my collection very nicely. My next task is to try and find a book of some sort to start identifying types of dolls and I might try and find some local antique shops too for a browse! Best start saving up…

 

 

 

A spot of reading · Illustration

A spot of reading: Treasure Palaces: Great Writers Visit Great Museums

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One of my favourite objects from my workplace is this Inuit doll. It can be found at The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum.

World Book Day was yesterday so I thought that would let me away with doing two book posts in a row!

Treasure Palaces is an incredible collection of essays written by a variety of well known writers.  Each explores the memory of a museum they have visited and how that museum has effected their life and for some, their work.

This isn’t a description of the most famous museums around the world.  It doesn’t read like a stuffy guidebook. It’s very much the opposite and is instead a collection of personal experiences and memories harvested from within the walls of some very unique places.  From Roddy Doyle’s piece on The Lower East Side Tenement Museum, New York, to Andrew O’Hagan’s memories of Kelvingrove, Glasgow, we get to see why these writers have picked these particular places.

Each museum within these pages holds objects from history, paintings, sculptures, all the usual things you would expect to find in a museum.  So why do places like these have such a profound effect, not only on well known writers like those of ‘Treasure Palaces’, but on everyone? Why do people keep visiting these buildings full of pieces of our own past?

Ever since I was very little, I visited museums with my family. I was lucky enough to visit so many dotted around Scotland.  They ranged from city museums to tiny ones hidden away in quaint villages.  Then there were the castles and stately homes, frozen in time, rooms barriered off creating museum like exhibits from what were once someones home. I took it all in, spending my holiday money on postcards and guidebooks so I’d never forget these wonderful places. I used to love running my hands down banisters in castles or brushing my fingers along the doors. I was trying  to take in the fact that hundreds of years ago, the women in the beautiful dresses and men in fine suits staring out from the paintings, had once ran their fingers along the same bannisters and doors. Doing this and seeing their shoes sat out as part of an exhibit next to their pocket watches or embroidery made me feel close to them.  They were like something out of a film, or from a dream, but by seeing their belongings, taking in their paintings or walking through their houses they felt more real to me, like they had only just left and I found that so exciting.

As I grew older, these old objects behind glass continued to be like a doorway to another time. They were so precious and held within them so many stories. Like the escapism of reading a good book, I found museums could transport me back to these time periods I was so fascinated by.  They were peaceful havens full to the brim with detail to take in, beautiful things to look at and amazing things to learn. Then they began to effect my art and to this day I find them the most inspiring places to draw in. They also led me to start collecting old photographs and other objects and opened up so many of the things that I am most passionate about today.

I work in a museum and everyday I get to experience how much these treasure palaces mean to people. Generations of families visit.  Children are brought to see objects that their great-grandparents loved as a child. People ask after paintings as if they are family. You’ll have regular visitors who spend time with their favourite objects and others who will travel from afar to see a particular piece. People are passionate about their past and these buildings show it. We hold onto these things and nurture them, everyday objects that were once used without a second thought are now cradled  by gloved hands, protected for future generations.  I couldn’t imagine a world without museums. They allow us to stop for a second and look at ourselves. They show us what we were, what we are and and teach us about what we should become.

…places in which we can withdraw from the pace of everyday life to examine ourselves, or explore the vision of others.  They both demand and afford time for reflection and contemplation.  In a world dominated by commerce and commodity, by fashion and novelty, museums have become places where values endure. In a society in which a sense of community or common space is now more rare, they provide a location for shared experience.

– Treasure Palaces: Great Writers Visit Great Museums

 

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Inuit toggles and a net making needle made from ivory and bone.  These objects can be found at The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum.
A spot of reading

A spot of reading: Suite Française by Irene Némirovsky

ireneI’m back into reading. I tend to stop reading as much during my winter bus journeys because that time is usually spent napping and trying to keep warm. As the mornings are beginning to get lighter, I’ve felt the need to get back into my books again and a long bus journey is the perfect reading time.

I recently finished reading  Suite Française by Irene Némirovsky and it has completely stayed with me. There were three parts to it, Tempête en juin, Dolce and then the addition of Némirovsky’s notes and letters. It is set during the German occupation of France following June 1940. Originally there were to be five novels but only the first two were completed and these are the two parts brought together in Suite Française. I include the notes and letters to be a third part because they absolutely have to be read as they are incredibly important not just as an insight into the life of Némirovsky but also that point in history itself. 

Tempête en juin follows a group of people from a variety of backgrounds, all trying to flee Paris before the Germans take the city. There are fleeting moments when the lives of one family, cross the paths of another, sometimes only brushing by them briefly. This connection brings all these different personalities together, combining as one for even just a passing moment, their differing attitudes and priorities. This part is a fast read, flowing quickly and mirroring the rush and panic of the characters as they tried to find safety.

We then move onto Dolce, time has moved forward just a little and the German’s have now taken occupation of France.  The story is set in a small French town, focusing on one inhabitant in particular,  Lucile Angellier. She lives unhappily with her mother in law in a large, dark prison cell like house in the village.  Her unfaithful husband has been taken as a prisoner of war. For Lucile and the village as a whole life under German occupation brings with it a sadness and humiliation but there is also a constant battle with the knowledge that these soldiers are much like the fathers, sons and husbands that they are missing. Although there are strict rules and the Germans are very much in charge they are also kind to the village folk, playing games with the children, flirting with the young women and finding comfort in the elders who remind them of their own distant mothers. Within these conflicting feelings, Lucile finds herself falling in love with Bruno von Falk, the German commander billeted to her home, bringing her the first real happiness she has ever felt. These emotions flit to and forth in the readers head and you can’t quite settle on what is right and what is wrong.  What should be felt and what shouldn’t? It really gives a powerful insight into what must have been a incredibly strange, guilt ridden and confusing time for a lot of people on both sides.

 It’s a truism that people are complicated, multifaceted, contradictory, surprising, but it takes the advent of war or other momentous events to be able to see it. It is the most fascinating and the most dreadful of spectacles,’ she continued thinking, ‘the most dreadful because it’s so real; you can never pride yourself on truly knowing the sea unless you’ve seen it both calm and in a storm.  Only the person who has observed men and women at times like this’, she thought,’can be said to know them. And to know themselves.’ –  Lucile Angellier in ‘Suite Française by Irene Némirovsky

The final part is Némirovsky’s notes which give us an insight into her plans for the remaining three novels.  It also allows us to see the way in which she worked and the little snippets describing how she was going to change certain scenes. Following this is the heartbreaking letters sent from Némirovsky to friends, talking of how she was in need of money but how even though she was a successful writer at the time, laws were coming into place stopping anyone with Jewish links to be able to have work published. Her friends were able to get her work published under other names for a time but eventually at the age of 39 she was arrested, taken from her husband Michel and two young daughters. We are then able to read the frantic letters sent by Michel, desperately searching for his wife. He talks of being unable to eat or sleep, pleading with numerous friends to do all they could to find out where she had been taken.  Unknown to Michel, Irene Némirovsky had died of Typhus in Auschwitz around a month after she had been arrested. Michel even wrote to find out if he could take the place of his wife in the labour camp but the Vichy government responded by arresting Michel.  Not long after he was taken to Auschwitz and was taken straight to the gas chambers.

Their two daughters survived thanks to their governess who went on the run with them, hiding them until the end of the war.  The eldest daughter, Denise, had picked up her mother’s notebook before they fled, thinking it was a personal diary. She couldn’t bring herself to read it for over fifty years until she decided to donate it to the French archives.  It was then she realised that it actually held the manuscript for Suite Française and that is how we are now able to read it today.  It sat there for years, holding a specific moment in time within its pages.  It reads like a time capsule, sending us back to a time in history that holds with it so much pain and emotion.

The reason for this series of novels being unfinished stays with you after you’ve read it and the weight of those last words she wrote is deadening, leaving an emptier silence behind it than any other book I’ve read.

Life updates · My wandering knees

Knee Update: What Is knee fear?

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‘Knee fear’ is a phrase of sorts which I made up to describe a feeling I get in relation to my knees. That’s an odd sentence in itself and won’t make much sense unless you know about my knee story, you can start from the beginning by reading this post here.

If you don’t have time for that the short story is that my knees have dislocated frequently at random times all my life. Doctors kept telling me I’d grow out of it, that physiotherapy would help, that strapping my knees down in the opposite direction would help, etc.  That was all wrong as it turns out I don’t really have knee sockets, they’re flat, that my knees are therefore technically dislocated all the time. Also my leg bones are all twisted in different directions and are popping my knees off too. Fast forward to now and I’m due to have operations to fix both my twisted bones and my knee caps in the near future.

But what is ‘knee fear’?

Knee fear is an everyday thing. I’ll try and explain it.

When your knees dislocate it’s traumatic, not just in a physical sense but in a mental sense too. Your body immediately goes into shock and panic sets in. No matter how many times it happens and however many years have gone by of the same thing you never stop panicking. The pain first of all is immense.  There are two different types of pain that stand out for me.  There’s a stinging pain that feels like a cut and you know it’s because your knee cap has ripped inside your leg. It’s sharp and stings and stays with you after the dislocation, especially if you’ve fallen badly and hit the ground hard.  Then there’s the aching pain that takes your breath away.  It’s a dull, sickening pain and it’s intertwined with the knowledge and feeling of the actual dislocation.  It’s as if your body is yelling at you,’Part of us is not in the right position and we need to fix that NOW!’.  It rolls over into the panic and the nausea, the shock creates dizziness and the feeling is just sheer horror. This is what causes ‘knee fear’, but ‘knee fear’ doesn’t occur in the moment of dislocation.  It is the memory of that pain and panic.

‘Knee fear’ is basically the fear that at any moment, I could experience all that again. I’ll have days where I’ll feel that way all day.  Sometimes it’s a passing feeling, other times it occurs if I have to walk a distance from A to B.  I’ll imagine my knee dislocating, I’ll hear the loud dull crack in my head and think of the fall. The funny thing is, it causes me to do odd things. I’ll suddenly jump or if I’m walking along I’ll touch my knee. I usually end up pretending I’m sorting my coat or something. It becomes like a twitch, and if it’s really bad, I’ll almost feel like I want to curl up and sit on the ground to avoid all possibilities of falling or just stand completely still. I’ve never actually ended up sitting on the ground, but I have felt like it.  A kind of ‘if I don’t move, it can’t happen’, sort of feeling.

So apart from the physical change of getting my legs sorted by these operations, I really hope it will take away the ‘knee fear’.  I hope I’ll be able to walk without thinking about my knees all the time. I hope I’ll stop reliving falls that force me to think of other things to avoid odd twitches and movements. ‘Knee fear’ is debilitating in itself and doesn’t allow me to live my days to the fullest. Even without a fall, I’m spending my time thinking about falling because the fear of it is always with me. I know I’ll have a lot of work to do.  A lot of pain to work through from the operations. The day I’m able to say, ‘goodbye knee fear’, will make it all worth it though.

My latest scans are now complete, both CT and MRI so now I just wait for my appointment to discuss the operations ahead. Not long now.

 

Illustration

Cultpens drawing materials haul

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I’ve been asked a few times where do I like to shop for my drawing pens and the answer is – Cultpens! They have a huge selection of brands and within that a massive range of pen types.  As well as pens they sell a vast range of pencils and refills and then on top of that they have paper and other accessories. They are absolutely fantastic and their prices also beat so many other similar suppliers and believe me I have looked at a lot of suppliers of pens over the years.

I feel settled with Cultpens, they are my pen haven, my Aladdin’s Cave of drawing implements, and my new pens arrive in the beak of a stork, bringing my new pen babies to my door. (Disclaimer: Ok, not a stork, but a well packaged envelope with a free sweetie inside.) Delivery is fast and always on time so if you’re new to drawing or writing and don’t know where to get your supplies from or you’ve been drawing for years and just can’t find a good supplier then I highly recommend these guys. By the way, all views here are my own, I just honestly really think they’re a great supplier. So onwards to what I got in my most recent delivery!

In the photo above you will see a big batch of Copic Multiliner SP spare nibs (0.03mm tip) and spare ink cartridges. This was my main reason for the order as my Copic Multiliner SP in size 0.03mm is my main drawing pen. I could not actually love this pen more. I need the tiniest of pen nibs for the detail I draw in and after years of searching I finally found my perfect pen.  It was quite a few years back that I found my pen soulmate and I haven’t strayed since then. Sometimes I’ll pick up the odd drawing pen here and there, because lets face it there are other nice brands out there that draw well, but this is my favourite.

It’s also the smallest nib I’ve found so its lines are exactly the size I want for my drawings. I didn’t buy any of the pens themselves in this order because I have enough although I do like to top up my stash of them sometimes, not for any logical reason, just because I love them.

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The next item in my order is this Faber Castell TK-Fine 0.35 mechanical pencil which you can see below. I’ve never used this particular pencil before but it looks like a beauty and I also got a Cultpens offer with it too – free Faber Castell Super Polymer leads, so that was pretty handy. I got HB leads and you can see a little example of the line thickness below. I mainly use mechanical pencils for line work if I’m not going in freehand.  I find mechanical pencils work best for me as I don’t need to sharpen them along the way and they give me the level of detail I need.

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Next up are some pens I wanted to try out. The great thing about Cultpens is that they carry such a huge number of brands and types of pens that there is always the option to have a browse and try out something new. I was interested in trying out some grey drawing pens and also sepia so I bought this selection below.

From the top we have the Kuretake Zig Mangaka Drawing Pen 01 in Grey, Derwent Graphik Line Maker Drawing Pen in Graphite Grey and the Derwent Graphik Line Maker Drawing Pen in Sepia. I drew a quick little line below of each so you can get an idea of what they’re like. I’m quite excited to try these out in a drawing I have planned.

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I needed some nice little notebooks to carry about with me to jot down ideas for blog posts, drawings and the like. I spotted these lovely Field Notes graph paper notebooks in a pack of three and decided to add them to my order.  They have a lovely finish that looks like wood.  I’m also a sucker for graph paper and really enjoy writing on it, probably more so than lined.

EDIT: I just found out from Cultpens that these are covered in real cherry wood! How beautiful is that!

Finally my last item is something I’ve been in need of for a while.  My pens usually end up rattling around the bottom of my bag so I had to find a slimline pencil case that wouldn’t take up too much room.  The Derwent Pocket Wrap is exactly the sort of thing I was looking for. This will keep my pens in one place and will hardly take up any room.

So I’m now sorted for drawing materials for a while. Time to get drawing with them!

Head on over to Cultpens and get yourself some drawing treats!

www.cultpens.com

Planner fun

Where do I buy my planner accessories?

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I draw mainly in black and white, I like antiques, old, worn objects in sepia tones, browns, blacks, greys, BUT there is another side of me that loves bright colour, cute things and lots of stickers…

My Filofax is turning out to be quite a treat to use. You can read a bit more about me delving into the world of planners here. But where do I buy all my accessories for my planner such as stickers, washi tape and even the storage? This post is going to be all about my favourite places to shop for all things planner related.

When it comes to a planner, you’re obviously going to be doing a lot of writing. My favourite pens to use are the Stabilo point 88 fineliners.  I got this pack of 30 on Amazon and they are perfect for making my lists look very colourful. The pen doesn’t soak through to the next page even though they are quite pigmented so I highly recommend them for using on Filofax paper.

Washi tape is excellent for dividing up lists, creating borders and adding a bit of colour to pages. I usually get mine from a range of stores includes Waterstones, Flying Tiger and a number of shops on Etsy.  I’ll be listing the shops I use below so you can check them out yourself. A number of designers and illustrators are creating their own tape now and a favourite of mine is the jammy hearts tape by Nikki McWilliams.  I’m always using this to wrap up presents and seal envelopes too.  You can’t go wrong with a tasty biscuit on some tape!

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Looking into the planner itself, the first thing I really wanted to get for it, was a fold out calendar so that I could add my days off onto it and have a clear picture of when I have free time. I work on a four week rota pattern so having a calendar like this to look at makes things much easier when trying to make plans.

There are so many sellers on Etsy that create and sell printable PDFs of planner inserts.  These are great for two main reasons.  The first is that you can print them straight away and add them to your planner, so no waiting for delivery.  The second is that you can print them multiple times so if you make a mistake trimming them or adding the holes, you can easily print another. The one thing to make sure is that you are buying the correct size for the planner you own because all the different sizes can get confusing.

My favourite seller of printable planner inserts is PerfectlyOrganised on Etsy.  They made the foldable calendar insert that you can see above. Their PDFs include guides so you can cut out your printouts to the correct size as well as the option of an A4 PDF which for me just makes things easier for printing. Their colour scheme also fits perfectly with my planner so they were an instant favourite!

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Next up is stickers and oh my I am addicted to stickers. I bought some organisers from Flying Tiger to try to keep them in some sort of order. Flying Tiger’s stock changes about quite a bit but they always have lots of storage options to choose from so I would highly recommend checking them out, especially because they are cheap as chips!

I especially love planner related stickers and by that I mean little images of the weather, emotions, events and occasions that you can put alongside the recording of your day. Most of the suppliers I buy from are again on Etsy.  The following is a list of all my favourite shops, not just for stickers but for all my planner accessories.

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So why buy all this stuff and spend so much time on a planner? Every night I’ll sit down for a little while before I go to sleep and I’ll find stickers that represent how my day was or what I did.  Sometimes I’ll right a line or so but mainly I just add stickers. I don’t need to think, it’s purely visual and probably takes me back to when I was little and would just sit and play with stickers for the sake of it. It’s an enjoyable and relaxing process and at the same time I’m keeping organised. It’s lovely to see it come to life, be added to and grow into this colourful record of my days.

If you have any shops you like to buy accessories from for your planner, I’d love to hear about them.

Illustration

Why do I love to draw derelict buildings?

It’s always difficult to start drawing again after some time away from it. I had been drawing every day for Inktober, my first year of doing so, and I was getting into such a good routine of drawing on a daily basis.  I was feeling more and more confident in what I was doing and had almost completed a full month of drawing when I caught a nasty flu.  That floored me for a month and then of course there was Christmas, work and catching up. Before I knew it, I hadn’t picked up a pen in some time.

This happens though and it’s only natural to sometimes find yourself not drawing for a while. I used to get really frustrated by this and put myself under a lot of pressure to draw but this never ends up creating any good work. I’ve also found other creative outlets such as embroidery, felting and cross stitch which help in times like these. I find that when I’ve stopped drawing for any length go time, I need to focus on drawing a subject that I love. It has to be a subject that I feel confident drawing and can really immerse myself in. I have a few ‘go to’ subjects, but this time I chose derelict buildings.

The house kept its own time, like the old-fashioned grandfather clock in the living room. People who happened by raised the weights, and as long as the weights were wound, the clock continued ticking away. But with people gone and the weights unattended, whole chunks of time were left to collect in deposits of faded life on the floor.

Haruki Murakami

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So why draw some old run down buildings? It comes from a general interest in abandoned places which I’ve had since I was very little. On our family holidays camping in the Highlands of Scotland, I’d often see the ruins of old cottages tucked away in the cold and lonely glens. As well as that we’d visit castles, many of which were ruins which we could explore.  There is a feeling in these places of lives that have once played out behind their walls. Generation upon generation have wandered through the corridors, peered out the windows and have slept under their roofs. I was always fascinated by the history of buildings such as these and was keen to find out as much as I could about the sort of people that once lived there. Apart from the characters that once lived among their walls, derelict buildings also have their own personality.  They usually sit as if they’ve just let out one last big sigh, tired, a bit worn around the edges and ready for a long sleep.

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These personalities create details: old brickwork, rotting timber, overgrown gardens, broken windows and leaning walls. There are so many details hidden within them. Detail is what I am obsessed with.  I love getting lost in a drawing while I’m working on it, trying each time to include just that little bit more. This is why derelict buildings are the perfect subject for me as they combine a life long love of old buildings with my love of drawing detail.

Above are my two most recent derelict building drawings which have helped me come out of my drawing slump.  The last photo is one of my Inktober drawings which I thought would suit nicely as my page logo.