I am not a morning person. My favourite time of day is around sunset - the light & shadows are gorgeous & often the colours displayed in the sky as the sun sets are breathtaking. I find my most productive times of the day are in the afternoon or the evening, depending on if the day proceeding is a work day or not. However I have come to appreciate the earliest part of a day, the time of morning when there is not much going on. I get out of bed - woken by my dog Cadel, hardly needing to bother setting an alarm anymore. I get dressed, grab the dog leads & head outside. The length of our walk varies, rain depending on if it’s a work day or not. But we do it daily, unless there is rain.
I enjoy the familiarity of our surroundings, of not having to think about where we’re actually going, instead simply placing one foot in front of the other & walking until it’s time to stop. I notice the sounds of my dogs, the noises their feet make changes depending on the surfaces we are walking on. The patter of paws on the road differers from that of paws trodding in dirt. They observe our world in different ways than I do, but they too notice changes. Spring brings new growth in the gardens we walk past - a tree with hanging branches, its leaves new & still small smells interesting enough to Cadel that he smells it every time we walk past it. But when summer comes, he doesn’t pay it any attention. I’d love to ask him why its scent is no longer important. Zena uses her eyes & nose to search the ground for things that might be edible. She is delighted when the table grape vineyards we walk past are being harvested in summer. Unsuitable grapes end up on the ground & I have to rein her in as we walk past them - given the opportunity she would eat them until she could no longer move!
Unless it’s the middle of summer the air usually has a crispness to it in the morning that is refreshing, invigorating. We see minimal cars at that time of day & usually see no one as we walk. Thats ok by me - I enjoy the quietness of it all. Most mornings we walk past magpies; I wonder sometimes if they’re talking about us, because the pitch of their chatter often changes as we approach & walk past them. Parrots too are going about their day. I spy them in long grass, snacking on seeds that have grown, young & tasty treats. Or they’ll fly past us, their speed & agility reminding me of fighter jets. They often screech as they fly past - are they warning us or warning each other of our presence? Occasionally, on mornings such as this very one, I’m graced with an even more delightful sight than that of the birds. This morning I raised my head - I’d been watching where I’d been placing my feet as we walked on slightly muddy ground - & saw a kangaroo come dashing out between rows of grapevines up ahead to my right, cross the road & continue into the block on the left. The kangaroo was small, as most of the ones I see around here are. Although I don’t see them often, when I do they are either alone or in a pair - every now & again I’ll see three but that’s a very rare occurrence. There is something about seeing a kangaroo, whether its a fleeting glimpse of one as it bounds across the road or a longer observance when a pair is resting near the old, large fig trees, having visited them for a drink of the water that pools around them, that makes me happy. I’m reminded how lucky I am to see them & of their unique beauty. I try to hold the image in my mind, to return to later during the day, as a reminder of the morning I’ve had.
The beauty of the morning fades too quickly some days, as I get caught up in the day & anxiety has had its chance to work its magic on my mind. If I can take a short moment or two to stop & notice the sun as it sets, not necessarily taking a photo of it but simply observing the colours as they change, then I am grateful. Grateful to have had two moments of beauty in my day.
It’s only early days in my 100 day project yet already I’ve noticed changes in my work At this stage they are minor, but I want to share them with you. Perhaps these small insights might help you in your creative project.
But first, do you know any of the history of the 100 day project? I was wondering about how the project came into being. I found an article on Design Observer which is an interview with the original creator Michael Bierut. In 2007 he challenged his graphic design students at the Yale School of Art to do a design operation that is capable of being repeated every day for 100 days. At the end of the 100 days the students who completed the task - not all of them did - presented their projects in a 15 minute presentation. Pretty cool, huh? As far as I can tell, he continues challenging his students to this day. In 2014 Elle Luna brought the 100 day project to instagram & the rest, as they say, is history! I’m sure you know a search of the hashtag on insta gives thousands upon thousands of photos; it’s safe to say there’s something there for everyone. If you’ve been thinking about starting your own 100 day project perhaps a browse of the hashtag will inspire you to start your own.
Now, back to what I’ve discovered. Beyond wanting to improve my dog photography skills, I had no real expectations from my project, aside from the hope that I would end up with one or two photos worth printing to be framed & hung on a wall.
To help keep myself on track if I found I was lacking in inspiration, I created a shot list. It consists of a variety of different photos, such as dog portraits & action shots. If photography is the basis of your 100 day project then take the time to sit down & think over the types of photos you’d like to create. This list will give you focus if you find yourself uninspired at any stage but also serves as a kind of brain dump. You might find later on in your project that some of those photo ideas no longer suit, but that’s ok. Writing the ideas down removes them from your mind, so you won’t find yourself unnecessarily thinking about what to photograph.
I’ve noticed that now I have one subject to focus my photographic attention on has freed my mind up from subject matter possibilities. My eyes are drawn to watching my dogs more often, looking for potential photos. Although covid restrictions mean I’ve not been able to get out as much as I’d like, when I am out & about I am looking for possible photos. The photo accompanying this post was taken whilst out walking with a friend. It was a quick snap, but my eyes were pealed for possible subjects so it came a lot easier to me than when I’ve tried this in the past. I’d set out to walk with my camera, hoping for dogs to photograph & I found them. It was all because I set out with intention. Try it yourself. Whether it’s photos you’re taking or art you’re making, try approaching what you want to make with intention. Flying by the seat of your pants works sometimes, but often times working with intention will produce better resutls.
I have also learnt to free myself from the desire to take a perfect photo every day of my project. Initially I thought all 100 photos would have to be perfect. But you know what? That’s a pretty unrealistic expectation. What exactly is a perfect photo, anyway? I can’t even define that, because there are so many variables, so how on earth could I make 100 perfect photos? Instead my aim is to make 100 photos that capture a feeling or a moment in time. So far, i think I’m doing that. Letting go of perfection is probably the hardest thing for many artists. Especially now that we’re surrounded by a world full of likes & dislikes, upvotes & downs. If you can, try to make your art without thinking about the possibility of the world liking it. That might seem a little contradictory, especially because sharing our 100 day project is part of the fun, but if you can like what you create then you’ll enjoy the porject process a lot more.
Finally, I want to recommend that you don’t have to create your artwork every single day for 100 consecutive days. Yes, that’s what the original project was about, but we’re doing this for the fun of it, not to get grades to pass a class. So, I you feel like you can’t be bothered one day, don’t. Forcing yourself to make art never produces a good result. You don’t want to hate what you’re doing or you won’t want to finish the project. Which, now that I think of it, is ok too. If for whatever reason you decide not to continue your project, don’t beat yourself up about it. Let it go. You gave it a try, it wasn’t for you, & now you know. Stopping your project is better than forcing yourself to continue with it.
I’d love to know how your 100 day project is going. Let me know in comments here, or over on instagram at kimlcofield
Have you thought about starting a daily art practice but haven’t quite managed to turn those thoughts into action? Or have you started a daily practice but found the habit slip away from you?
There is a plethora of advice available online surrounding how to start & maintain a daily art habit. Mark your art first thing in the morning before anything can hamper your creativity recommends some advice. Or create art of an evening when others in your household have settled for the day so you’ll have a better chance to create uninterrupted. How about Make are depending on the phase of the moon or before you’ve eaten your largest meal or had a coffee and on & on it goes.
But you know what? Sometimes you’ve got to decide to do the thing & do it. Or, in my case, unconsciously decide to do the thing & realise some time later that’s what I’d gone & done, created myself a daily art habit.
For a number of years I’ve known I’d wanted to create a habit of making art every day. I knew practicing daily would improve my skills but I also knew it would help improve my mental health. On the days I’d make art, even if that art was somewhat difficult to make, i felt mentally better afterwards. But everything I read about creating & maintaining a daily art practice left me feeling meh. There were too many rules, & none of the advice I read felt like a good fit for me.
One morning, as I was making myself breakfast, I remembered times when I was on holiday, eating breakfast in a cafe & sketching in my travel journal. Those unhurried mornings are some of my favourite. As the world around me hums with people getting take out breakfast as they head to work, or people are settling in on tables around me, conversation ebbing & flowing, I find something to sketch & settle into a flow of my own. Words often come to me so I jot them down, a reminder for future me about how I was feeling along with what I was seeing. If I could do that on holiday, could I replicate it at home? There was only one way to find out.
I grabbed a pencil & my journal / diary / hybrid book (I must settle on a name for it one day), & sketched what came to mind. Truthfully, I have no memory of what that was. Of course I could look in my completed books to find out, but what I sketched was irrelevant. What mattered was the feeling it gave me & still gives me today. That feeling? A sense of ease with the world & my place in it. With my mind as anxious as it often is, that’s no small feat to achieve.
Finishing breakfast & finishing sketching, I noticed that feeling & wanted it to stay. So the next morning, I sketched again. And haven’t missed a day since.
After a while I felt like sketching wasn’t enough. I needed more art in my life. So I began making Japanese inspired wave art in my book, which lead me to filling a pocket notebook centred on this one theme. When it was finished, I moved on to making abstract ink art pieces, like in the photo below. Eventually I decided the only rule to abide by was to make whatever I felt like making. I’ve stretched my definition of art a little, to encompass photography & writing. Because some mornings that’s what I’d rather be doing. When you make the rules you decide what goes.
I rarely set out with an intention of what to create. Oftentimes when I’m walking my dogs (the very first thing I do when I wake) an idea will come to me, so I’ll make a start on it once I settle in to create. I work Monday to Friday so those mornings I only have about 10 minutes to spend on art. It doesn’t sound like much but you’d be surprised with how much art can me made in a short space of time. It’s not uncommon for me to continue the art later in the day, once work is done & chores are completed.
So why not give it a try yourself? Give yourself a short amount of time one day, & make some art. Then do it again the next day. Don’t worry if you can’t do it at the same time every day. The very act of sitting down & making art is enough, regardless of what time of day it is. And repeat, repeat repeat. But also, be kind to yourself. Cannot be bothered making art one day? Fine. Cannot be bothered for an entire week? Well that’s fine too. Sure, it’s a lot harder to get back into the daily practice if you take a break from it, but if you’ve done it once you can do it again.
And also, don’t set out to make a masterpiece every time you create. Actually that should be a given for any time you make art, not just as part of a daily practice. But if you’re a perfectionist like I am, that can be easier said than done. Many of my favourite things I’ve made have come about during the short 10 minute space of time I have whilst eating breakfast on a work day. None of my art are masterpieces, but they make me happy & that’s enough for me. Know that sometimes you’ll create art that you’ll be proud of & other time’s that art might end up in the bin. What matters more is that you’re making art every day, improving your skills & possibly calming your mind.
Zena sleeping 28.8.2020
Cadel. Backyard portrait.27/8/2020.
Today’s photograph was a reminder in the art of patience. Not surprising, considering my subject matter :)
Tomorrow I’ll share details about my new project. For now, I’ll simply share the first photo of my 100 Day challenge, which I’m calling 100 Days of Dog Photography 📷 🐕
Lately I have been finding it increasingly difficult to do anything creative. I’ve managed to snap a few photos every now & again, I’ve kept up my daily drawing habit but that’s about the extent of it. I’ve barely written anything more than a few lines in my journal - not ideal considering I’ve begun an online children’s writing clinic - even trying to write this post has been troublesome.
In a moment of frustration & I’ll admit, desperation, I posted my feelings to an online group I’m part of. I hoped perhaps someone would sympathise with me, offer an encouraging word or two & that would be all. The response I got astounded me. In reading my words, a person heard me, felt my frustration & replied with their own experience of doubt around their creativity, offered advice, some suggested reading but more importantly I felt the impact of what they wrote. Hours later, it still sits with me. That connection, that feeling of being seen, so often I think that’s what I crave & I know I’m not the only one.
This person suggested I share some of my work with them, & thus with that online community. When I’ve finished this post I’ll be doing that. However I took their suggestion & spun it a little, challenging myself to look through photos I’ve taken this year, to see if I could find something that I’m proud of.
I’m sharing that photo with you here. And challenging you to do the same, particularly if you’re feeling doubt about your creative ability. Go look at your creative output from this year. Try to look without judgement; I know this is hard but it helps if you can look at your work without preconceived ideas of what you made. What sticks out to you immediately? Usually that will be the thing you’re most proud of. Don’t take a long time doing this, you should be able to find the thing you’re proud of within minutes. Don’t be surprised if you’re surprised with your pick. It’s easy to forget that you’ve created something you like, if you’re like me & judge yourself harshly. When you’ve found the thing, share it somewhere. Sure, you can share it on social media, but try thinking outside the box here. If it’s a digital photo or digital art, can you have it professionally printed, to hang on your wall? That way you can look at it every day & share it with visitors, assuming you live somewhere that allows people to have visitors during covid. Or if it’s something you’ve made, like a sculpture or a painting, how about giving it away? Or taking a photo of it & giving that to someone, even via texting them a photo of it with some words like, I made this & thought you might enjoy it. Perhaps it’s a piece of writing you’re proud of. Why not use it as the catalyst to start that blog you’ve always wanted to?
Whatever way you decide to share your work, I’d love to know about it. Send me an email at hello @ kimcreates dot net or tag me on Instagram.
For the past fortnight I’ve been trying to write a blog post. It’s sitting in my drafts folder, unfinished. It’s a post about how I accidentally started a daily art practice & I’m keen to share it with you. However I’ve lost track of the number of attempts I’ve made trying to write it. Three, four? Every attempt I’ve made at getting it right has fallen short.
I shouldn’t be as surprised by this as I am. My anxiety levels have been high lately so it makes sense that I’m struggling to write. In fact most of my creative endeavours over the past few weeks have been lacklustre. Mostly I’ve felt like I’ve been fighting against the thing I’ve been trying to create. More often than not I’ve questioned why I even bothered trying to make something in the first place. Eventually I realised that my creative fight tracked alongside my heightened anxiety levels. My problems aren’t caused by my sudden inability to create but rather are an extension of mind’s inability to stop racing with anxiety.
Even writing this short post has been hard. I’ve deleted sentences, saved the draft & gone off to read some emails, only to come back to this & still not be happy. And delete more sentences. But at least I know why I’m feeling this way. And I know this feeling of being unable to create will dissipate once I’ve taken the steps that I need to help ease my anxiety. In the meantime, I’m trying to get better at accepting that my creative output won’t be what I hope it will be.
You might be wondering why I’m writing this, if I’m not convinced my words are worth sharing. Well, for two reasons. The first is that writing this helps me accept that it’s ok to not be perfect. The worst that can happen is people get two sentences in, hate what I’ve written and move onto something else. Which is totally ok with me. The best thing that could happen, which is also the second reason for sharing this post, is that my words, however imperfect they may be, might resonate with someone. That someone might even be you. Perhaps you too know the sudden feeling of not being able to create the thing that usually brings you joy. Perhaps your anxiety might be higher than usual. Oftentimes these two things together will make each other worse. That’s ok. Work on the anxiety. Let the creative outlet go for now, or accept that it might be harder than usual. But that’s ok too. It won’t stay that way forever. I’m telling myself that when I’m telling you that. And that it’s to not be ok.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about letter writing. And actually writing letters too. I recently discovered that my newest pen pal has never had a pen pal before! I am delighted to know that her first experience of writing letters is to me. Delighted & a little bit nervous. After all, what if my letters to her aren’t good enough? What if what I share in my letters don’t interest her? What if, what if, what if?
I realised that I could continue to worry about these what if’s or I could simply sit down & write her a letter, post it & hope for the best. Because the thing about letter writing is, a reply may never be revived. The receiver might become too busy to reply, even if the reply is a scrawled note to let you know they’re now too busy. Or they might move & not provide you with their new address. They might not even receive your letter. Postal services are great but like anything in life they are not perfect. So I took all this to heart & wrote a letter that I hoped would resonate with my new pen pal. Only time will tell.
With many things in life, there are simple letters, where the author writes out their thoughts, or answers questions from their received letter or whatever the chosen letter writing format the author adheres to. And then there are artistic letters, those where are is included, either on the envelope, the writing pages or as an enclosed extra. I myself like to engage all three practices. I enjoy creating art on a smaller scale & a lot of my small art fits inside an envelope. I’ve found doodles are easy to add to an envelope, & look nice when using coloured envelopes. They add an extra layer of prettiness.
If you’d like to try letter art, a quick online search will provide thousands of results. Here are a few of my go-to’s when I’m looking for inspiration:
NaomiLoves is one of my most recommended & used sites. Naomi’s philosophy & art are apparent across all her endeavours. Whilst my artistic style differs from hers, I always find inspiration when browsing her site.
I often include a piece of origami with my letters. I find it relaxing to fold a piece of origami & their size is perfect for slipping into an envelope. Check out origamiway for instructions, including easy origami if you’re new to the art form.
If you’d like to improve your handwriting, learn hand lettering or learn calligraphy then thepostmansknock is for you. The site is full of tutorials, including free ones as well as a well stocked store to pick up some lovely stationary goods.
For more beautiful inspiration, head to the gorgeous site littlecoffeefox where you’ll be greeted with more handwriting inspiration as well as info on bullet journaling.
I would love to hear from you, if you already create beautiful letter art, or perhaps are inspired to give it a try after reading this post. You can send me an email at hello at kimcreates.net or a dm on Instagram (I’m kimlcofield by the way).
May your letter writing experience be full of beauty.
A three frame multiple exposure backyard sunset, taken 9/6/20
Every morning this past week I’ve created a new mini landscape using artist Nick Stewart’s technique
I love this technique. It’s incredibly easy to do, requiring only a short amount of time, some water, fountain pen ink & a couple of paintbrushes. And water colour paper. To make my small pieces of paper I tore a larger sheet of watercolour paper into the small pieces seen in the photos. They’re 10.5 x 7.5cm in size.
My favourite thing about these is I never have any idea what the outcome will be. The ink does what it wants when it touches the wetted paper & gives an almost surreal outcome.
The inks used, in order of the day made, are as follows: Twilight Black from Nick Stewart inks Randall Blue Black again from Nick Stewart inks Jade Noir by Monteverde Barossa Grape by Robert Oster Garnet also by Monteverde Sydney Harbour Blue by Blackstone Yama-Budo from Pilot’s Iroshizuku range
Do you have a favourite? I’d love to hear which is yours. My favourite changes by the day; today the Sydney Harbour Blue is my fav.
Day 4 of the Micro.blog art sprint Created with Robert Oster Barossa Grape fountain pen ink & water 🎨🖌
Oops, I forgot to add the photo! Here it is 🎨🖌
Artwork no.3 for Micro.blog’s art sprint. This one was made using Monteverde Jade Noir fountain pen ink 🎨🖌
My second piece for the Micro.blog sprint, this time created with Nick Stewart Ink Randall Blue Black 🎨🖌 #mbmay
Sharing artwork 1 for the Micro.blog art challenge sprint. I created this piece whilst eating breakfast this morning, using black fountain pen ink from the collection by Nick Stewart, plus water #🎨
Recently I realised that I prefer to make small pieces of art. I find it deeply satisfying to work on a smaller scale. I rarely have large blocks of spare time so any art I make is worked on over multiple shorter sessions. Sometimes I might sit down a couple of times during a day to work on something, other times I add to a piece during breakfast & don’t return to it again until the next morning.
However sometimes I want to start & finish a piece of art, even if I only have a small amount of time to do it. When those times occur I reach for my favourite practice, creating mini fountain pen ink & water landscapes. These are fun to make. I never know what the outcome will be although it’s rare for me to dislike the outcome.
If you have fountain pen ink I recommend you check out the work of Nick Stewart () nickstewart.ink/technique… who is the master of this technique. He creates stunning pieces of art, especially when he throws bleach into the mix.
If you give it a try I’d love to hear from you. Did you fall in love with it like I have?
Because of the small size of this art they fit nicely into my art journal, serving as a reminder of how easy it is to create something beautiful.
A couple of nights ago, whilst taking photos of the sunset, I had the idea to try making a multiple exposure photo. I’m pleased I did; the resulting surreal look is one I quite like. This might be the first of many.
Usually on my birthday I head out somewhere with my camera. It’s a perfect excuse to spend an hour or two devoted to photography. This birthday that was not possible, coming as it was during stay at home orders. Luckily for me the sunset that evening was full of beautiful colours. I may not have spent hours with my camera but it was lovely to spend a few minutes capturing the beauty.
Today I have no words. Instead I’ll leave this photo here, a multiple exposure of the trunk of a grapevine
I decided to throw some creativity at this weeks challenge because I was challenged by the colour prompt. I looked around & felt there was either too much colour, or not enough. I narrowed my focus & painted some water & fountain pen ink onto heavy paper & played around with photographic compositions. Still not quite happy with my results, I added the prompt from week one - multiple exposure - into the mix. Finally I had results that I liked. The photos look a little surreal, a little not quite right & I like it. I’ll share a couple more photos in the next day or so. If you’re playing along at home, the prompt for week three is Timber. Now to think about what I can photograph with this prompt.
Have you ever kept a garden journal? To note the changing position of the sun throughout the year & how it affects the growth of your plants? Or to track the harvest of your fruit & vegetables? Or simply as a nice way to draw your favourite flowers?
I’ve tried keeping a garden journal in the past & failed every time. I think the problem has been not finding a journal style that worked for me.
Over the years I’ve tried keeping a list of plants, noting their location & particulars relating to that plant.
I also tried keeping a basic garden map, as a kind of visual form of the written list. When that didn’t work I gave up.
However now that we’re settling in to our new home our attention has been turned to growing lawn & creating gardens. Although I’ve only a vague idea of what I’d like our gardens to look like I’ve always known that I wanted the front section to feature pink flowers. After doing some research I’ve settled on Kangaroo Paws, Ground Cover & Standard Grevilleas, Pig Faces and some native grasses.
With that in mind I sat down to draw out my ideas. I can’t draw photo realistic so I decided to create loose sketches of the plants in the vein of urban sketching. I enjoy this style of drawing so it felt right. Pleased with the results I’m now keen to keep drawing out my garden. Once I’ve nailed down what exactly I want everywhere else that is!
If you keep a garden journal, drop me a line at email@example.com I’d love to learn about your style & what keeps you journaling.
This post, despite being promised last week, almost didn’t happen. My day went pear shaped, almost as soon as my breakfast was consumed.
To be perfectly honest with you, dear reader, after the day I’ve had writing this post almost seems pointless. But I promised myself that I’d share my photo challenge images with you & I don’t want to break that promise. So here’s the final image from week one of my challenge, multi exposure.
Have you tried multi exposure photography? It’s relatively easy & produces interesting results. I suspect most modern cameras have it built in as an image option; check the image settings to see if your camera has the feature.
In the case of Fujifilm’s X-Pro3 (which is the camera I own) up to 9 exposures can be overlaid to create the final image. The majority of the photos I made during this past week used either two or three exposures to create the look I was after.
Your other option is to download a multi exposure app to your mobile phone. I use the iOS app called Double Exposure. It’s easy to use & has built in filters that can be applied before you take your photos, making it easy to see the final result. There are of course many other apps that will create multi exposure photos but I haven’t tried them. If you have a favourite, let me know & I can update this post.
Now for week two’s word. I selected it this morning. The word is Colour. A few ideas have popped into my my mind already. It will be interesting to see if I can reproduce the image in my mind as a photo.
Another multiple exposure photo, part of this weeks photo challenge. This time in colour, of grape vine leaves.
I’ve been itching to challenge myself photographically since upgrading to an X-Pro3 earlier this year. Initially this was quashed when my couple of weeks old camera suffered a malfunction that made it unusable. Thankfully Fujifilm replaced my camera with a new one, but in the few weeks of waiting for the replacement I lost that creativity spark that comes with buying a new camera.
The new camera arrived a week before Victorian’s were strongly recommended to stay home unless it was necessary to go out. Since then I’ve been wondering how I can challenge myself photographically whilst stuck at home.
I searched Instagram for a photo challenge I could take part in, but nothing felt right for me. The idea came to me yesterday to create my own photo challenge. So I have. I’ve jotted down on paper around 20 different words, cut around each word & put them in a pile. Each Friday I’ll pick a new word & it will become my photographic focus for the week.
The first word is multiple exposure - the photo that accompanies this post was taken after I picked that word. I’ll share more photos with you in coming days; perhaps you’ll get inspired & will take part in my photo challenge? If you do, I’d love to see your take on each weeks word.
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