Happy New Year!

Hello, hello, hello.

Happy New Year, Good Folk of T’interweb!

What a ride it’s already been. The end of last year was a strange beast. Lots of warm and cuddly bits, but some dank and dark ones too.

One of the saddest, being the loss of my dear wolf; Sheba Dog. She was such an inspiration; sloping into my artwork time and time again. Though, only in illustration form. I was never able to do a decent observational drawing of her; the problem being that those sketches would turn out to reveal ‘just a dog.’ She was never ‘just a dog.’ She was the best of friends. She was family.

As a free-lancer, she was also my sole work colleague on good, and bad days. Our office party contained a can of dog food, and me in my pants eating one too many Hob Nobs…. Sometime before we both Xeroxed our butts and hoped the boss (sometimes her, sometimes me) didn’t find out!

She was my therapist. On walks with her, I resolved issues, came up with so many ideas, and if I looked into her eyes for long enough, I swear she could hypnotize some calm into me. But, our girl didn’t suffer. She went as she lived, peacefully. And I’m left with a pain as pure and gentle as her love was.

As with everything though, there’s always a flip-side. In this instance, joy. The year finished with a really fun exhibition collaboration between myself and graffiti legend, Mark Meana. I did a couple of wonderful Christmas markets, amongst dear artist friends. It’s always so lovely to meet the people who take your work home too, so you get to find out the end to its’ story.

One lady bought three pieces for her unborn bump. Another bought a piece to send across the seas to her sister. Loveliest of all, was a lady who spotted me and told me she knew me. Apparently I’d drawn her friend on a train trip! She was able to describe in detail, the tatty old brown ‘Field Notes’ sketch book I was using months earlier. How had she remembered that, when I can’t even remember my house keys?!

I have a number of sketch books I rotate (so none of them feel left out!) and fortunately I had that one on me. We flicked through, and she recognised her friend and the other passengers on the train immediately. I remembered too, as I’d been well and truly rumbled by these two ladies. Often times, people are so buried in technological worlds that they don’t see you drawing. Not these two. They were cheerful and chatty and I was noticed immediately. What was lovely though, was that they said nothing, and knowingly allowed me to carry on drawing. So lovely. I tore out the picture, and gave it to the lady to give to her friend.

That was my favourite story ending for a piece, so far. I love how art connects people, and I’m looking forward to finding more stories in this new year.

 One of the first images I ever did, inspired by Sheba

One of the first images I ever did, inspired by Sheba

A short (ahem) first post.

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What a wonderful few days it's been! Full of lovely, magical, people, and amazing stories. And so many ways to see those playful, cheeky little tendrils of creativity; growing and entwining, collecting and connecting folk en route. You can almost hear its' glee as it heads your way with plans of mischief budding a' plenty.

It started off by knocking at Sharon Cooper's door. We sat at her table, drinking spiced hot chocolate, as Sharon set Graham (a rather rotund squirrel) obstacle courses in the garden, and introduced me to the joy of badge-making. Yes, badge-making. You should definitely give it a go. Such an easy pleasure. I felt like I was at a quilting circle for the lazy! As Graham (wheezily, I felt) completed the run, claimed HER edible prize, and proceeded to drop crumbs onto the fur of her over-sized belly, we 'ka-chunked' out badges on the amazing steampunk-esque machinery, and it got me thinking about all the different species of creativity.

I think of Sharon's form of creativity as an outward form, which, up until a couple of years ago was completely alien to me. My creativity has been mainly introvert. I have ALL. THE. FUN, but inside my own head! So, this outward joy  feels like something I'm very new at. Sharon is a wedding photographer by trade; but really she is a memory maker, and bottler. And, as she talked passionately about the relationship with her couples, it struck me how much alchemy is involved in coaxing the best out of people; in order to extract and record what would become most treasured memories. This outward creativity's aim is to spill over to other people. And it spills over to all the other areas of Sharon's life too. The care she puts into creating the perfect hot chocolate, setting new challenges for the ever-suffering Graham, her use of badge-making to proclaim her love for the supermarket, 'Iceland', on a routine food shopping outing! Sharon uses her creativity to make people smile. I've rarely been in a home which felt as playful, and as loved.  The mechanical, almost meditative quality of this making process we'd shared, mingled with our collective and thorough over-excitement of seeing it's results revealed. How a teeny tiny version of one of the pieces I knew so well could still surprise me, and transform itself, not only into something so tactile and wearable... but also so fun. I left with not only a jangling, clanking bag of treasures, but also the feeling that some of Sharon's magic outward creativity had worn off on me. And I hope to pin that to my lapel too.

Badges available from my shop
See Sharon Cooper's photography here