Remember when I said I was going to postpone the launch of my collections for 2 months? I thought that would be enough. Guess what? That won’t be enough!
I was working on my Halloween collection last week and I was really enjoying and having tons of fun. But yesterday I realized it’s already September 3rd and I don’t have any completed drawings. Not even 1! You might think, oh you have almost 2 months to Halloween. But I actually don’t.
I have a full time job
I’m going to visit my husband’s family for 10 days
Halloween collection should be released about 2 weeks before Halloween…
So I calculated and basically I have 20 days to do everything (16 pieces, between stickers, illustrations and handwriting quotes). I started to think about cutting some of the drawings and making a smaller collection. Then I thought about skipping Halloween completely and start working on the Christmas collection. But I didn’t like that idea. Why would I publish the whole Thanksgiving collection for September/October and then spend again another month and a half without posting anything again and then suddenly post a ton of Christmas drawings? People want some consistency!
Well, yesterday I was painting the floor of one of the art studios I work at. I love those days when I can do something mechanical, it helps me put my mind back in place. I thought a lot about many things.
Pushing myself so hard is destroying my creativity
Drawing takes time! While it’s nice to work with a sense of urgency, I can’t keep like a machine. I need to be kind to myself. So I took a hard decision, but this will give me peace of mind. I postponed everything for the next year, including the Thanksgiving collection that is already done.
I’m going to create enough drawings to have a “savings account” of drawings. I want to have 6 months of drawing collections ready before starting posting on social media.
This might not make sense for most people. You might be thinking: why don’t you just draw and post like you did before? Why make such a big deal?
It’s been a while I like to work in collections (astrological signs collections, months collections, holidays collections, etc). I prefer to work in collections because it allows me to tell a complete story and I feel very accomplished. The other reason is that collections help organize visually my portfolio and offer a variety of products on the same theme. It’s pretty much like a fashion collection. I’m pretty much inspired by fashion, so it makes sense to plan collections like a fashion designer plans for the runway.
So that’s what’s going to happen. I’ll keep posting behind the scenes here and I’ll offer a few isolated drawings online until I get my collections organized and well stocked. Best news I got this week, I was approved on Giphy, so soon I’ll make lots of gifs available for Instagram and Facebook. Keep in touch!
It’s been a while I feel our lifestyle is too fast, too focused on the mundane and too immediatist. I’ve been reading some amazing books about art history, myths and ancient legends and all this makes me think a lot.
I studied architecture at the university and I remember reading this huge and great book called The History of the City, from Leonardo Benevolo. One of the most interesting things he said was about the way we organize our cities. In the beginning of our history, we organize everything around the temple. For centuries the temple was in the center of our villages and cities. Much of our lives was focused on the divine. If you think about it, we had ziggurats, Greek and Roman temples, Gothic churches, Renascentist churches, Baroque churches… all the other styles that came after had amazing churches and they were in the center of the city, many times the largest and most important building of the community. But that all changed starting with the industrial revolution and modernism. Skyscrapers took over and business towers became the largest buildings in the cities. The sky line of a city was not focused on the divine anymore, a new power took over and changed the way we live forever.
I was born in this lifestyle. I never lived in a city where the church is the largest building. Nature was not the center of my life either. All the cities I lived in were typical 20th century cities, life rotates around the commercial center, a conglomerate of towers with offices and stores. We live for work and immediate pleasures. There is no bigger mystery or wondering.
How different my life would have been if I had grown up in a city focused on the divine or focused on nature? A city that focus on the human soul and it’s mysteries? Can I slow down and change the way I think? Can I stop focusing on now and start focusing on larger and more permanent things? All these questions motivates me to read about ancient times and different ways of life.
I’ve been to Florence in 2018 and visiting the Cathedral was a magnificent experience. I wish I could go again and again, there is no feeling like entering that church. The contrast of the rich sculpture outside with the austere inside is the first surprise, then you slowly walk across the nave and visualize the unbelievable duomo from the inside, getting higher and higher, as if you can reach an infinite sky of angels.
This weekend I watched some documentaries about Florence and it’s Cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore. The first one is a friendly touristic overview of the city, showing a bit of it’s attractions and history.
The second one is a technical and fascinating investigation on the methods of construction for the duomo.
Thinking about how long the great masters took to create their masterpieces and how life was at that time was very interesting for me. Things took years of dedication, study, perseverance. Art was made for eternity. I want to bring this spirit to my life and be more focused on the soul and less in the everyday things.
How about you? Do you feel life is always rushing? What makes you wonder? Let me know in the comments!
Improving a skill requires constant effort. As an illustrator, I’m always trying to find interesting ways to tell stories through drawing. After a long gap without producing art, I finally felt inspired again and started a series of illustrations in late May. I was motivated and happy but in less than two months I felt trapped and had to stop again to reorganize my plans. What happened?
I’ll tell you the truth. I’m addicted in social media.
I need to draw, post on Instagram and see the reaction of people immediately. I even started to post videos everyday sharing not only the completed drawings but also the process and each part of what I was doing. The result? In one month I got stressed and bored. Every time I was not producing fast enough, I would feel guilty and on my videos I would repeat just “I’m stuck, I’m stuck, I’m stuck”. So annoying! Not having time to reflect about my work led me to make a lot of mistakes and bad choices. In the last week of July I chose some very strange colors and did some really weird patterns. Not proud!
Making these mistakes helped me realize I needed more time. I decided to draw 2 months in advance, so in August I started to draw for Canadian Thanksgiving , October 12. That was a great decision. I finally got time to breathe and see a full collection finished before I started posting. It’s been challenging to stay away from social media and don’t see interactions everyday, but I believe this will be very important to start producing good quality artwork.
I recently finished reading On Writing, from Stephen King and it’s a great book! Here is something he said that was important for me (on drawing on my case)
Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open. Your stuff starts out being just for you
I think I opened too much of my process and the truth is that most people are not interested, except for my artist friends. That limits too much my potential and reach. Also makes me insecure about my choices and I feel very inconsistent, as I rush things to show in public fast. I also notice I don’t give myself time to review my work.
If you are in the creative career, either writing, painting, music, anything artistic, I really recommend this book. I’ve never read other books from Stephen King because I’m not into suspense stories but I really enjoy learning about his creative process and where he gets inspiration for his projects.
I also watched the September Issue again. I love this documentary about Vogue and Anna Wintour. I really love Grace Coddington participation, Anna and Grace are both really inspiring women in very different ways. It’s great to see how they prepare the fashion editorials, how the teams plan the stories and what happens in the edition room. I like how they take their job very seriously and how sometimes hard decisions are made to keep the magazine aligned with their ideals. One thing I noticed is that they started the plan for the September issue about 5 months before the launch! I didn’t know they start so early.
All this helped me regain my focus. I finished my fall illustration series and I’m ready to start the Halloween series. I will post on Instagram only in September but if you are reading here you can see my fall illustrations before everybody! Just visit my portfolio page –> here.
That’s it for today! Thank you so much for reading and we keep in touch!
We often hear stories about people who change their careers for something completely unrelated and become extremely successful in their new areas. One of my favorite examples is the business entrepreneur Sara Blakely. Sara got a degree in law but was not able to pass the LSAT test. She spent seven years selling fax machines door to door until she finally invented Spanx and today her company is worthy one billion dollars. In numerous interviews, she looks to her past and explains how being repeatedly rejected and learning to deal with failure set her up for success. I also like Steve Jobs’ journey. In a very famous speech at Stanford University, he explains why dropping college and enrolling on a random calligraphy course was essential for the success of Apple later on. Even being fired from the company he founded contributed for his success, as he used this time to start other creative companies like Pixar, today a multi billion animation company.
I’m fascinated by this kind of journey because I’ve been in a career transition as well. Although I graduated and worked as an Architect, it’s been 5 years since I decided to become an artist. During this period I worked at a coffee shop, clothes store, department store and finally at an art studio. In 5 years I got some praise but also I heard multiple times I was wasting my talent. The fact that I served coffee at Starbucks for 2 years was a source of much controversy. Why would an architect with a masters degree decide to serve coffee? How would this contribute in any way for the development of an art career?
Deep inside me I knew I was learning from this experience but since I couldn’t see the outcome, many times I got anxious or frustrated during my journey. Looking back, I can finally see things coming together and the more I work, the more everything makes sense.
You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.
Here are 4 points to help you in your career transition:
1. Focus on what you can control
When I decided to become an artist, I got a part time job at Starbucks, and started classes at the Alberta University of the Arts. Every morning I wore an apron and served coffee, all afternoons and evenings I was drawing or studying. I had big dreams and was full of creativity and motivation. I couldn’t see clearly where I would reach, but I was happy and focused.
The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter into one of the most creative periods of my life
People around me couldn’t understand. I remember introducing myself to a new person saying ” I’m studying arts” and some friend discreetly would add “but she has a masters degree in architecture!”. I used to get upset at these reactions because I thought my friends were embarrassed from my choices. Today I understand it was not their fault. If I couldn’t see clearly the future, why would I expect other people to be able to see? This was beyond my control. In these past 5 years I learned to focus on what I can control, that means, what I want to study, how many hours I can dedicate to my practice, how I respond when I face a challenge. People’s reactions to my choices are beyond my control. I choose to don’t get upset anymore.
2. Keep track of your progress
I spent my whole first year exploring the city with a sketchbook and a black marker. In the beginning I used my phone to take pictures of my work and the environment around me. After a while, I noticed other artists presented their work in a more clean way. I got a scanner and stopped sharing pictures that were not art related. All my drawings were based on the reality around me and I was afraid of colors.
Studying colors was the biggest change of all. I went from simple black and white sketches to very colorful compositions. The architectural style gave way to experiments. Acrylic paintings, pastel drawings, watercolors, pointillism, chalk markers. Animals became my favorite theme because they could be so colorful. I learned a lot. Working at Starbucks made a huge impact in my art. Since I was constantly drawing chalkboards for them, I brought the black background to my paintings and also started learning about typography. The experience of working in this huge company also taught me many business lessons, the most important of all was understanding what a vision is and why I should have one if I wanted to grow.
In the beginning of 2018 I developed my own vision, I want to make the world more interesting. Everything that contributes to my vision is given priority, anything that doesn’t help me achieve the vision is abandoned. Many times I discarded artworks because I didn’t think they were interesting enough. The vision should be something huge and abstract, not a simple goal. I’ve been following this vision since then.
Looking to the past I noticed I didn’t have a consistent style. I was all over the place. I decided to experiment again until I could find “my style”. I also wanted to understand the meaning of “interesting” for me. At this point I already knew I wanted to work with limited colors, mix them with some black and white and use more patterns. First I got inspired by fashion illustration and later for art for kids. I tried digital drawing, unexpected colors, printmaking, stamps and stencils. Experimenting and going out of my comfort zone was essential to discover what I liked or not.
Much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on
I finally understood what I consider interesting. My whole life I loved to read and I have read lots of books. Many years ago I even had a blog about books and movies, I used to analyse how people tell a story. I discovered the most interesting thing for me is storytelling. All my illustrations should be part of a story or be the story on itself. The techniques and style has been compressed to just follow the story. This is what I’m working on now.
3. Looking back to move forward
Keeping track of my own art, constantly reviewing it and comparing with other art I like was essential to identify opportunities for growth. I archive my drawings and the process to arrive at the final piece. Stephen King expresses this idea much better than I when he speaks about writing. The same could be applied to any form of art:
“You have to read widely, constantly refining (and redefining) your own work as you do so. It’s hard for me to believe that people who read very little (or not at all in some cases) should presume to write and expect people to like what they have written, but I know it’s true. If I had a nickel for every person who ever told me he/she wanted to become a writer but “didn’t have time to read,” I could buy myself a pretty good steak dinner. Can I be blunt on this subject? If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that. Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life. I take a book with me everywhere I go, and find there are all sorts of opportunities to dip in …
Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
In 2015 I simply copied the reality around me, without thinking so much. The exercise of studying other people’s art and process lead me to improve my own process and make it much deeper. Today I define my theme and start with some loose sketches and simple written notes. As I get to the first concept, I study what other artists did, as well as explore my own memories. When I feel I have a stronger visual base, I advance on my drawings and add more details, while I transform my written notes into a text. The process is a collaboration between memories, references, drawings and thinking. For me, an idea is a person climbing a narrow gap between two buildings. It departs from the pavement, made from my memories and references. It puts the feet on the wall of the first building, my drawings. Get some impulse and put a feet on the second building, my writing. It keeps climbing dangerously with the support of both building, writing and drawing, never losing sight from the floor, my memories and references. Will the idea trip and fall back to my mind? Or will it reach the top? Can my ideas fly?
4. Be excited about what you don’t know
Understanding there is so much to learn is the best way to discover new techniques and approaches to solve problems. My career changed in some unexpected ways, one discovery led to another and I’ve seen myself walking on paths I’ve never imagined before.
Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know.
Improvement can only exist if I’m willing to see new ways of doing things. As we plant the seeds of our destiny, we imagine and plan where we are going to reach but so many discoveries on the way lead us to unexpected paths. The circle of choices is open but it’s my mind that closes its border. I’m the one who creates this invisible ceiling and says – here is where it stops. What if I could see there is no end?
Changing the mindset is the most interesting way to grow and discover value in our own experiences. Imagine how many combinations you can make with each piece of the knowledge you already have.
Good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.”
Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Today I feel I’m combining everything, there was no right or wrong path. Skills from all my previous jobs, ideas from all my hobbies, memories from all my travels, slowly all my life experience is getting compressed and molded into new matter and transformed in illustrations. The unexpected is great. The mystery and vastness of the future are fascinating for me.
Do you wonder what the future holds? Do you ever wonder where you will be in 5 years? If I could look through the crystal ball, I would visualize an immense maze of ways and possibilities. The maze of our destiny is so vast it simply doesn’t have an end. It’s infinite. Walking on the roads of my destiny, every single day I discover new possibilities, every single moment I can make a new choice.
All these experiences together brought me where I am now. Working with large companies and learning about business helped me understand how I should guide my own career. Being open, trying with different art supplies, techniques and ideas helped me improve the quality of my artwork. The love for reading made me understand how a good story is important for me. Being excited about the future motivates me everyday.
Would you like to see your career growing in ways you never imagined before? Here is what I see so far:
Focus on what you can control
Keep track of your progress
Look back to move forward
Be excited about what you don’t know
I hope you enjoyed reading this post! Leave a comment or share, I would love to know how you are approaching your own career growth. Thanks for your visit!
Gosford Park is one of my favourite movies and I was so glad to watch it again now that it’s available on Netflix. The movie features amazing set designs and costumes, and a great and original story that includes one of my favourite actress, Kristin Scott Thomas.
We follow a group of rich and snob people who gather for hunting at Gosford Park, an English country house. We see the whole action through the eyes of the servants, specially Mary Maceachram, a new maid working for Lady Constance Trentham. The house is magnificent and full of contrasts. The upstairs are opulent and highly decorated. The downstairs, in the servant quarters, are functional and austere.
The house rooms are all different from each other, some are very full of heavy details and others more delicate. There are different wall colours, linens, furniture…. Some masculine and feminine designs.
I understand Lady Trentham is an honoured guest and she stayed in one of the most beautiful bedrooms in the history of the movies. That’s what I want to show you today.
The bedroom features a peacock and flowers wallpaper with a soft light blue background. I love the blush curtains, the tall windows and brass details in the furniture. The fringe lamps on the nightstands and dresser are so charming and well placed. The canopy frames the bed beautifully and I cannot forget to observe how the pastel rug connects everything harmonically.
We enter this bedroom through a door beside the large wardrobe. Above we can see Mary bringing a wood tray with the breakfast for the lady (I love the silver pieces on it). I won’t show the pictures in the chronological order. Instead I’m showing the bedroom during the day and in the evening. I’ll start with the morning sun.
Beside the large wardrobe there is a tall mirror and then the bed set with two nightstands. Although the wallpaper pattern is very fluid and organic, the furniture placement keeps the structure and symmetry, reinforced by the table lamps and round picture frames.
I found interesting how the dressing table is placed right in front of the window. The same happens with the desk, in front of the other window. The triptych mirror certainly make it special, what a beautiful piece! Notice how the wallpaper behind Lavinia shows much more flowers, it’s a very interesting pattern alternating flowers and birds.
How about the tassels everywhere? Tassels on the curtain holder, tassels on the table lamp, tassels on the perfume bottle. There are fringes and tassels everywhere, I love it!
Did you notice the objects on the silver tray? I think those are beauty products. Don’t you want to exchange all modern plastic packages for those? I do.
Here we go, composition, contrast and symmetry again. The wallpaper pattern is asymmetric and dances around without following any grid. But the structure is there, notice the repetition of another triptych mirror, symmetrical amphora vases and twin sconces. Everything is ornamented, from the picture frames to the fireplace golden details. I also love the tall white baseboard, make such a neat edge.
Beside the fireplace there is a door that I’m not sure where it goes. There is also this black and gold cabinet that is shown very little during the movie but it’s very unique and got my eye, it looks like a Chinese cabinet. I find intriguing how the black doesn’t look heavy, but it’s well balanced with the large wardrobe and all patterns of the bedroom. The wardrobe is not shown on this picture but I like how it makes a pair with this black cabinet and it’s opposite to the pair of the windows on the other side of the bedroom. Also note the vase of flowers on a stand, it’s also placed opposite to the large vase of flowers that sits between the bed and the dressing table (check the first picture).
The bedroom is a social space and the ladies enjoy talking and gossiping while the men go hunt. Here we can see how the wallpaper pattern is heavier on the bottom and lighter on the top. Also we can see the sofas and chairs around the fireplace (in front of the bed). I really like how the structure of all seating is apparent and slightly golden. The only thing that we feel it doesn’t belong the the bedroom is Mary, dressed in all black with no ornaments. I’m sure that was the director’s intention, to show how the servants were there almost like a shadow, with no life of their own.
Here is a nice shot of the bed and its canopy. Notice how all shapes reinforce the heavyweight on the bottom and lightweight on the top. Mirror, lamps and canopy are all wider in the bottom and narrow on top creating a illusion of a heavy base that communicates perfectly with the wallpaper pattern.
And again we see fringes and tassels everywhere, on the canopy, on the table lamp and even in the reflection of the curtains on the tall mirror. The wallpaper behind the bed is the richest and most original, peacocks with yellow orange tails and some very asymmetrical branches, probables inspired by old Japanese prints. It’s the contrast of the wallpaper with the furniture that makes this bedroom special. Can you imagine the same furniture with a regular pattern wallpaper? Or with no pattern on the walls? How traditional and boring!
In the evening light I cannot tell if the wallpaper is green or blue, it looks greenish for me in those scenes. Here is a good view of the beauty containers and the gorgeous table lamp. Maggie Smith portraits such a detestable and self absorbed lady, it’s hard to forget her character and poisonous remarks. It’s so natural how she distills her disdain, she is a master in the art of contempt.
Here’s a last look on the bedroom with a good view of the wardrobe and the bed. I absolutely love the bed head and foot, specially the curve that holds the mattress and the golden ornaments. The mirror and wardrobe are very beautiful, unfortunately I don’t know a lot about types of wood but you can’t help but notice how the wood veins on the wardrobe door and nightstand drawers are strong and rich. And although I’m focusing on the decor, how not to notice the gorgeous dresses of the ladies? The antique pink of Constance dress even matches the pink pleats of the canopy over the bed, such an achievement from the visual department in this movie.
So that was it for today. Lady Constance Trentham is an old snake and Sylvia follow her steps closely, but behaviour and class struggles aside, I can’t help but to love this bedroom and find it a masterpiece in decoration and visual composition.
Did you like it? Leave a comment! I’ll post about the kitchen and the rest of the house another day, keep in touch!