One rather large project I have managed to pull off during these first few months of being a new mother is the illustration for the Prize for Illustration 2016 competition from Association of Illustrators, Sounds of the City.
I had collected the references for this work back when I was still pregnant, and I’m sure some of those buskers that I was meeting on the London Underground thought I must be a crazy lady, waddling around with a 9 month belly and a sketchbook, asking if I could sketch them during their performance in order to use it in my artwork.
It took me a while to work out the composition for this piece and I was never completely happy with it, but I had to commit so something in order to finish in time. This work has also given me a big push forward in my technique with watercolours.
Unfortunately it has not been selected for the shortlist, but nevertheless, I am pretty proud with myself for achieving something this size, especially whilst having a little, badly sleeping baby on my hands, which meant sometimes I had to work like this:
Our not so little anymore pumpkin is 6 months tomorrow… Cannot believe it how time flies!
And I’ve only recently managed to catch up only to his 12 week sketch in my baby journal! Still have a few pages before that missing too.
There has been so much change about him recently, just a few days ago he has finally figured out crawling, still not very confident but gets to things that he really wants. He seems to be so much more aware of everything, understands relationships between things, so interactive! Loves to listen to us speaking or reading a book to him, and if we go quiet will try to fill the silence by his own “talking” and babbling.
The last two months have been all about teething, and even though his first two bottom teeth came through over a month and a half ago, the next ones seem to be the upper canines and my God! are they taking their time and causing him so much irritation and pain! Poor baby.
With all that there has not been much time for me to draw anything (none at all to be precise). But I’m hoping to get some in over the holidays.
Looking forward to Matthew’s first Christmas!
Here are some more early sketches of my little one sleeping. I was even lucky enough to manage a quick watercolour portrait at one point.
At the moment I have a couple big things that I am trying to work on, so don’t get to do sketches of Matthew while he’s asleep, but I hope to get back to it soon and catch-up on some drawing from photos as well, to capture the significant moments in my baby sketchbook!
So far within the first almost three months of having our baby, as much as I thought the western world is tolerant and does not tell you how to bring up your children, I’ve been in equal amounts harassed by the dogmatic and preachy attachment parenting followers, as well as the “cry it out” method and “put down the baby, you’ll spoil them” believers. I am not a fan of either one approach and I don’t understand why can’t there just be a middle ground, with logic, understanding, love and care for your child and their needs (including the need to feel loved, safe and comforted) and within reason.
My aim throughout the whole of my life has always been to seek an understanding of why things are the way they are, and what can be done to fix them if something is wrong. When my baby cries, I want to figure out why and help him, because he’s too small to tell me why and crying is the only way he can communicate with me about his needs.
If I know my baby is upset about something, uncomfortable or just tired because he slept badly all day, how is a cuddle and some comforting going to spoil him? When somebody tells me how babies can be manipulative, I want to laugh in their face. Really? They don’t even know their name yet, or can’t figure out that how to operate their own hands, but they are evil enough already to know how to manipulate those stupid adults that brought them into this world? Makes me feel sad thinking about these people bringing up their own babies…
Quite often it seems to me, that the trend in the western society is that people love their dogs more than they do children. How many times I’ve walked past cafes and restaurants, where not only dogs are given their own bowl of water, but they are sat on the chair at the table next to their owners, muzzle lying on the table. Reaction of everybody in the restaurant when a dog owner comes in with a pathetic rat-looking lap dog under their arm – “Awww! Look at this beautie! Isn’t she gorgeous!”. Same audience reacting to a family with a baby in tow – silent condemnation at best. How dare you come out of your cave with your offsprings and threaten the romantic ambience of our dinner!
People need to start understanding, that dogs are dogs, any animal can be lovely and cute, but they’re animals, we should not be putting them above humans. Whilst a baby is a tiny, helpless, fragile human being, who does not really understand this world of chaos around him, or why his tummy is hurting and how to handle it, and sometimes it can all just be too much for them.
In the end of the day, if you, being a perfectly capable and self-sufficient adult, like some comforting and a cuddle after a bad day, why would you deny it to those who only have you to protect and care for them?
I am finally back here after two months of silence and I am so very happy to announce – our little adorable baby boy Matthew has arrived exactly 8 weeks ago!
He took his time coming to this world and made sure his mummy and daddy were truly desperate to finally meet him.
A healthy 4.3 kg at birth, he has already gained 2 kilos in the last 8 weeks. I have by now more or less figured out some sort of routine to help me get through the day and have even managed already to make some art, for some of which little Matthew has been the inspiration! I now have the cutest new muse in my own home, although I have to wait for the sleep time to really catch a moment and put my admiration down on paper.
Some of the first sketches of the sleepy angel below.
My new baby journal spread.
Soon to follow in the next post – my thoughts and notes on the first two months of parenting and some more art!
I am sharing my reading plan of carefully selected self-study art books for the next X months, mainly to have it defined for myself somewhere so that I know what I have committed to and stop switching from one thing to another. I have thoroughly researched tons of recommendations in these areas and most of the books I have chosen are well regarded classics, some from real art masters.
I have a lot more on my long list, but I have to start small so I don’t get lost.
The aim is to focus on the following areas that I need to improve first:
Composing Pictures, Donald W. Graham
Composition: Understanding Line, Notan and Color, Arthur Wesley Dow
Framed Ink: Drawing and Composition for Visual Storytellers, Marcos Mateu-Mestre
The Elements of Color (or The Art of Color: The Subjective Experience and Objective Rationale of Color), Johannes Itten
Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter, James Gurney
Famous Artists Course (I have chosen this as the starting point)
Creative Illustration, Andrew Loomis
Watercolour painting technique, P.P. Reviakin
Watercolor Artist’s Guide to Exceptional Color, Jan Hart
Today is my due date. What does any self-respecting artist do on their due date? Don’t know about anyone else, but I have spent it running around London using potentially my last chance to collect some more references for my personal project, which I am hoping to slowly work on over the next few months after the baby arrives.
I’ve tried out a new technique for quick sketches, using a fountain pen to loosely define shadow shapes and then a brush pen for some accents in the darkest spots. This technique is part of something Marc Taro Holmes is teaching in his tutorials, and it seems to work pretty well for me to make things easier and gives more depths to my subjects, compared to the sketches I previously did with a simple ballpoint pen which took a lot more time and effort.
I have also enjoyed a blueberry muffin in a coffee shop in the heart of Mayfair whilst sketching business people on lunch.
I am starting this blog whilst waiting out the very last few days before my little miracle arrives into this world after 9 long months and changes my life completely.
I do not even pretend to understand exactly how my life will change, but one thing I very much hope will remain true – I will still have my passion for art.
And I am full of hope that my baby will understand and cooperate to allow mummy to find ways to keep making her art, little by little, between the hours and days of taking care and loving her new most important thing in the world…
About this journey, of motherhood and creativity, and its struggles – will be the story of this blog.