Updated: Nov 12, 2020
It has been nearly a whole year since I last posted a blog...whatever happened to my weekly blog plan I ask you?
Well, uh...I got a little busy.
And I just let my website fall into disrepair and I didn't keep it updated and all that usual nonsense that happens when you have other things on your mind. I could, I think, have found some time to add a blog here and there; but I really never liked the idea of writing a blog for just a blogs sake.
A flaw in my initial plan to write a weekly blog I suspect.
Anyway, first we have to address the elephant in the room. Not Clarence, he's harmless. Ignore Clarence, that's his trunk and he's very self conscious about it. No, it's what exactly have I been doing?
Well, more recently I've been doing "Not Inktober", which is me not doing Inktober. There's been a little fuss over Inktober this year (trademarks, plagiarism accusations and all that fun) but while I would love to say I opted for the knee jerk moral high ground and refused to do it because of that, I've just drawn a lot in ink recently and wanted a change.
Instead I opted to try a variation on Brushtober, a challenge created by the artist Loish. Though instead of following her plan I went my own way and produced 31 watercolour paintings - a medium I am often hilariously bad with.
Here's a selection of some of my favourites - I particularly like the Tiger.
Anyhoo, that was a whole month of doing something that I was awful at and if you think I did well, that is largely because you don't have access to the waste paper bin full of failures produced that month too.
But, that was the point, and I had a lot of fun. If you are afraid of failing, then it's pretty much impossible to succeed, as every artist and their piles will attest. Piles of failures.
Minds out of the gutter please.
Anyway ('cos I used "anyhoo" just a second ago), that brings us to our second elephant in the room. Still not Clarence; he's minding his own business over in the corner and he would thank you to stop looking at his trunk. Yes, he knows it's a little long, but that's not his fault.
No, this little elephant is the big one - Covid.
Now, first let me establish that so far I have been lucky enough to avoid it and I hope that if any of you have been unlucky enough to catch it, that you've not suffered too much and have made a full recovery. I really genuinely hope that you are all okay.
A little something is needed here to cheer us all up I think.
It's a slideshow by the way, click the little arrows on the sides to see both strips.
Where was I?
Ah yes, Covid bad.
Like most of the country (I'm in Wales in the UK) I have spent the better part of the last year in some form of lockdown or furloughed and dealing with the everyday stresses of living through a pandemic and the massive disruption it causes. This does sadly include the stress of employment.
Now, some context is needed here.
My job, as it initially existed, largely comprised of writing product listings for items for sale online. In the last few years it changed quite significantly and I started on a more creative path, helping to produce personalised stuff for the business I worked for as well as getting to stretch my art muscles a little and using Adobe illustrator to design actual products we sold.
I got to get pretty good using Adobe Illustrator as a result.
Those were produced as life size cut-outs by the way, and I am quite proud of them.
The problem, however, is the industry I happened to work in.
Have you noticed the use of past tense yet? It's a bit of a pain isn't it, gives away the ending slightly.
I worked in the party industry.
The party industry has, quite predictably, been devastated by the pandemic. If you are a retail shop selling party stuff and nobody is having parties, you're in trouble. Even if you're online, the industry has just shrunk so much; there's just not enough people partying.
So it would appear that I find myself cast adrift into the jobs market; sans employment if you will.
Well, not quite the end.
There are advantages in that I finally find myself with some spare time and I have been busy. Ignore the paradox.
I have finally got the chance to finish those little art projects on the back burner.
I've finally had the chance to work at drawing some stuff that's been bobbing around in my head for ages...
And I've had a bit of time to experiment with my tools and my ideas and really have some art based fun. I've even drawn a decent Batman pic at last, while I was furloughed.
So, free time has it's benefits. But that leads to the final elephant in the room. No, it's not Clarence! Stop looking at the poor guy, he just wants to be left alone!
No, what I mean is that the end is rarely the end. My old job is over but I have found myself re-evaluating my life a little and what I actually want to do with it. It's so easy to coast through existence surviving and so easy to forget that survival is not enough.
I've spent the last few months making pretty (well, not quite pretty sometimes) pictures and now that I have some definite spare time ahead of me, I hope to make more. And this blog is part of that. I'm looking seriously, for perhaps the first time, at how I can just find a way to maximise the time I spend making art. So I've been updating my website, boosting my visibility a little on social media and taking on a small trickle of commissions (something I've always been somewhat reluctant to pursue) in the hope that if I can make some money making art, then I can justify spending more time actually doing it.
So, we've reached the end. It's over. After over a decade (yes, really), my old job has evaporated. But maybe that's not a disaster. Maybe what I have now is not an absence of employment but an opportunity to try something else, to give myself the chance to make some use of the skills I've spent a lifetime building.
If nothing else, I've got the time to give it a go.
The end is the beginning.