Paper People & Plaits

I've drawn a couple of tissue paper friends to accompany me on the scanner bed this time. As you can see, one of them has some stylish striped shorts, and the other has cleverly grabbed some cosy socks to wear. The unfortunate thing about them being made of tissue paper is that they are very easy to accidentally blow across the room.

Two of my favourite things about scans are the way plaits look scanned, and the weird result of blinking mid-scan. You can spot both of those things in this post. I've been plaiting my hair more often lately as it grows (and as it gets increasingly trapped by scarves and coats) and I've remembered how much I love them. I keep trying to do a French plait, but it is so not happening. I don't think I'm ever going to understand how to make my hands do that. Loose three-strand plaits and messy buns will have to do for now. I'm actually starting to wonder if French plaits are a myth. I hope they are.

Animal Crossing Journal #6: Stumps & Moomins

So Boy is, at this point, filled with flowers, bustling with public works projects, and home to two extra human villagers. What now? Well, I've installed some lovely wood flooring in my home thanks to Saharah (the camel with the carpets). Snazzy.

My dear friend Cousteau gave me a Macbook Air. Bloody hell. I guess if a frog can grow a moustache, it can probably also buy an expensive computer for its best human buddy. I'm so touched.

Here's me and Del having a little moment under the stars. Very pretty.

I sat on a few stumps this evening. It's a good thing they are absolutely everywhere in my town. Can't have me walking too far without a sit down.

Despite my bee stung face, I am always ready to party with K.K. Slider. Pompom disapproves.

I thought Cousteau's laptop was a special gift, but Molly gave me a glossy photograph of herself. This is too glamorous for words.

Enjoying the stumps in daylight this time.

I visited the lovely dream town Nicoland (6700-3506-3741), featuring this cool cat standee. A cat after my own heart.

Someone has the same outfit as me. That's what you get when you buy Primark. Looks nice though.

I'm seeing cake everywhere and I love it. I try not to eat villagers, but sometimes it's a struggle.

I spotted a beautiful line of fruit trees, and found Nicoland's sailor suit pattern. It looks pretty great.

I had a rest amongst some bamboo and this sweet doggie appeared. What an enjoyable evening.

Back at home in my town, I made a new dress and tried to imitate my Moomin jumper. It's kinda tough to copy your real life clothes (depending on their complexity), but pretty fun. It is, however, absolutely necessary that I'm covered in Moomins both in-game and in reality.

Mini Studio

I've been doing so much painting on and around my little table lately. My set up changes reasonably often, but when I'm painting I usually like to be quite near the floor, so this table has become very useful as it's only about a foot tall. I'm really into making small work and using small spaces and stuff, so this mini studio space is pretty perfect for me. I tend to use the chair as a second space (pictured being used as a workspace for customising my uni t-shirt), and then when they're both full I usually do some leftover stuff on the floor and then leave everything to dry.

I'm starting to collect my paint palettes because they're really pretty in their own right and I'm hoping to use them as part of a big wall collage later. I think I'm starting to get low on pink paint now. The Wimbledon t-shirt was something I got given at my first tutorial this term (I think they were leftovers from last year's degree show). I was using it as a pyjama shirt, but I decided I wanted to make it a bit more fun and special. Kinda makes me want to paint on all my clothes, but I'll try to restrain myself for now.

Messy Paradise

I had a group crit recently where I showed everyone my 360 book and talked about maybe showing the book and some stuff on a specially built corner or maybe a comfy area kinda like children's sections of libraries. I think my ideas for trying to make my work easy to "get" for people viewing it in a formally exhibited capacity have become really restrictive. I should just do exactly what I want. After watching Basquiat last week I realised how much I missed making stuff with great looseness. I love making feverish, gloopy, messy paintings and scribbling over stuff in biro, and tearing chunks out of work. Being overly concerned with how people look at my work in a physical space (which I wouldn't care about if I wasn't at art school) has only made me boring.

Jean-Michel Basquiat's work is so influential in part due to what LA artist Lauren Halsey calls the "muchness" of his work. She says "Basquiat did a great job at creating these maximalist, everything surfaces. They’re greedy in a beautiful way."1

I had a real moment of awe when I first encountered Basquiat's work. I was in New York on an art school trip in January 2013, and I went to the Gagosian with three other students to see a Basquiat exhibition. The four of us were on a sliding scale from unimpressed to head over heels. I was the head over heels one. I loved the sprawling, scribbly mess of it. It looked as if the whole world was Basquiat's notebook.

What I want, I think, is to have big boxes and folders of work, to take them over to a wall space, and to rip them apart and arrange them and tape them to the wall with masking tape to make a great big collage. Maybe then I could also paint and draw on top of that composition. It would be a unique installation - only existing in that space. It makes sense as a continuation of all the collage work I've made in my 360 book. I realise now that I'm not really interested in exhibiting a book, or building a special space with shelves or a seat. I want to make one big wall collage which is an expression of myself and a visual celebration of the process of making it. I want it to be easy to make and cutely crude, because that's how I work naturally. I want a chaotic and unpolished assemblage of accumulated shapes and colours. A cloud of brightness and brush strokes and cartoon bunnies.

I've made all these paintings which are just shapes, colours, and movements. I'm making piles and boxes and books of work. It's exciting, feverish, and pointless except for my glee in doing it. It's like hiking or walking in forests or gardens - you're doing it just to look at everything and feel the fresh air and your legs moving. You don't necessarily have any thoughts about it, it's just beautiful and natural and you feel good. That's probably the thing, if anything, I would like to convey. However, I don't think it's necessary that people looking at my work see that. I just want them to see colour and mess, and to think whatever they want about that.

  1. Rogers, K. (2014). Beyond Basquiat. [online] Available at: [accessed 18 Nov 2014].

Diary: Scarf & Pyjamas

The cold has been making me feel so weird, but I'm enjoying wearing 300 layers and anticipating Christmas for now. I feel like the lack of daylight is draining my energy though, and my lips are getting pretty chapped (I did just get given a new raspberry lip balm, so that was timely - thanks mum). Most of these diary entries have a definite "it's cold/dark/I don't feel well/need to lie down" vibe but tbh I'm always like that. Whenever I'm not napping I'm probably thinking about napping. I'm totally going to have a nap right now.

Felt Tip Dreamland

I drew a bunch of felt tip drawings to cheer myself up and just to scribble and draw surly/cute/weird stick figures. Some of these are really messy and basic, made without much thought, but I also played around with stick figure forms and ended up with the characters above. They have a kind and innocent look about them, which kinda reminds me of greetings cards. This green picture also looks quite like a Christmas card, I think. I wanted to convey warmth in these stick figures, like they're two people who are very close and wrap each other in blankets. I guess that naturally gave them a wintery vibe when I added a scarf and pine trees.

I always seem to draw a lot of trees and houses with felt pens, so I suppose that says something about me (that I want a house surrounded by trees).

How I Combat Anxiety

A while ago (four months ago, to be exact) I made a post listing a bunch of goals for the year ahead, and one of those goals was to ditch anxiety. Since then I've had one and a half job interviews (well, one interview, and one thing that was similar) and they were actually okay.

For me, anxiety manifests in its most extreme way when I try to do work-related things. Sometimes I get easily overwhelmed thinking things like "my CV is awful", "they're not going to like me", or the classic "I'm a horrible idiot who can't do anything". I think part of why I can panic easily is that I want to work so much. It's so important to me that I can't think about it rationally before mentally telling myself off for not having everything sorted already. Whilst I still sometimes find myself thinking this way before I can stop myself, I've definitely gotten a lot better, and having the one and a half interviews has really helped a lot.

I know that the more I familiarise myself with the processes that scare me, the more confident I will be with them, but I still need to be kind to myself and use as many tactics as possible to reassure myself and take care of myself. I'm going to list a few different things that I find helpful..

Touch & Personal Objects

Anxiety can have physical effects, of course. In particularly unpleasant moments, I've had my hands start to shake uncontrollably. The worst thing about those kinds of physical responses, other than that you can't stop them, is that they show anyone nearby how nervous you are. Once you start shaking or sweating, that's it, you've reached peak vulnerable. Just as anxiety has physical effects, though, it can also be soothed by touch. One of my favourite comforts, not just for nervousness but also for when I'm feeling sick or sad, is a small cuddly toy or maybe a cozy scarf. The feel of something soft is nice and calming, but I find it extra calming to pretend I have a little friend cheering me on wherever I go (especially if that little friend is something I can squeeze and cuddle).

Lots of other personal objects can help, like little gifts from friends or jewellery that you can fiddle with. I find necklaces the best for this. I've illustrated this post with some items that help me to feel comforted, including my card wallet where I always keep a photo of Elliot and a little note reminding me not to worry.


This is obviously similar to making yourself feel better by touching soft things or squeezing cuddly toys, but using warmth is sort of deeper - an all over body comfort. A good coat or cardigan can make you feel so much stronger and more confident, but if you're inside you can bundle yourself up and have a hot drink. There's not much that makes me feel more cared for than being all toasty. When I don't want to drink more tea I often go for a mug of hot water instead (fun fact: Tommy Wiseau has a penchant for hot water).

Rewarding Yourself

Doing the things that make you anxious is really hard. Sometimes, no matter how much you try to psych yourself up and ignore your anxious thoughts, you can't do it. That's okay, but when you try, you should reward yourself. Get into the habit of getting something nice every time you face your anxiety and you can slowly condition yourself to be less anxious about it. In any case, you deserve a reward. My reward would most likely be something like drawing myself a cute picture, or having a really delicious meal.

Ultimately, all of these things are about being nice to yourself. The best advice for tackling anxiety really is to treat yourself with kindness and understanding. If you provide enough comfort and reassurance to yourself in anxious situations then eventually the situations themselves can start to feel comfortable! Try to be good to yourself.

Protect Badness

While I was scanning my face for this Monday's "scanner adventures" post, I started drawing on top of screenshots with Snipping Tool. I'm not sure what gave me the idea, but it ended up being really fun, and I'm thinking of keeping some kind of digital sketchbook of stuff like this.

Protect badness is a kind of philosophy for encouraging and enabling art or creation of any kind that is not about technical skill. Those words came up because I just wanted to write some words, any words, on my screenshots, but I think they capture the spirit of this stuff pretty well. I think it's important to protect and respect your own personal "badness". First of all I don't think it's really "bad" because that's a value judgement, but I suppose I'm using the word "badness" to directly oppose the rejection of art regardless of the value judgement of it. Ultimately whether it is bad or not is irrelevant, because it's mine, it's for my enjoyment (of both the process and the outcome). So, embracing and protecting it in all its possible badness is my goal.

I feel like digital drawing is a great medium for this philosophy because I'm using my laptop's trackpad to draw with, which means I'm forced to draw in a technically poorer way than I am potentially able to. It's always a bit odd (especially when trying to write this way), but there's a certain ease and joy that I find comes with that limitation. It makes me feel happy to be not as technically good as I could have been, and also to just scribble on top of things. People are very busy trying to make their art look good, but a lot of the time I'm much more focused on how it actually feels to make it.