Mandala doodling!

Everyone loves a flip-through… at least I do! I love seeing what other artists are up to in their sketchbooks and art journals. So I’m joining in..

Here is my latest flip-through of one of my journals.

It’s a small, square journal that I used exclusively for mandalas. They vary a lot as you can see.. sometimes I use geometry, sometimes they are symmetrical, and sometimes asymmetrical. Sometimes I just doodle in a circle and see what happens. I like having the circular boundary to work with, that probably says something about my psychological make-up (maybe some psychologist out there can analyse that for me?).

I’d love to know what you think…

Also, I’m currently working on my FREE beginners ‘Mandala Makers 2020’ course to begin in October 2020.. be sure to sign up to my newsletter via my websit to get your free spot!

Love and Blessings,

Rachel

Exciting Times…

I’m putting a free mandala course together 🤗😎🌸🌼😊

“Ooh, exciting times!”

That’s a phrase my mum would use all the time, I hadn’t realised what a positive person she was until she passed away 18 months ago. I often find myself wondering what she would make of all this lockdown stuff, but of course I know really that she would put a positive spin on it. She would see it as an opportunity to do more around the house, get around to putting all the photos in albums (with comments), and tend to her houseplants. More than that, she would appreciate the times she did have with family and I’m sure she would (unlike me) love Zoom chats. She would also be determined to get plenty of fresh air when she could.

The last six months has been very ‘up and down’, but when I look back, I realise I’ve actually achieved quite a bit. We can swiftly move past ‘homeschooling’ which was, quite frankly, a bit of a disaster.

Apart from trying to keep the kids entertained, I’ve been concentrating on my business. And when I look back at where I was six months ago, I realise how far I’ve come in that time.

I’ve been making art for about nine years now, and it’s been an amazing journey. I decided not to go to art school but to access online courses and forge my own pathway. I’ve taken so many online courses now, and over the last couple of years I’ve had the nagging sensation of wanting to create my own classes to encourage people who, like me, thought they didn’t have a creative bone in their body.

Yesterday I sent out my first ‘subscribers’ email telling them about the free mandala course I’m running in October. I’m putting this out for free because it’s my first course and I’m hoping that through it I will gain valuable feedback and some “Wow, what a great teacher!” quotes to put onto my next class description.

I fell in love with mandalas about five or six years ago soon after discovering zentangles. It seems appropriate that my first course focuses on mandalas, although these days I do a lot of portraits, abstracts and art journaling. (You can see a selection of my work on my website.)

If you would like to sign up for any of my free courses, subscribe to my newsletter via my website, or ping me an email at rachelevanswhite@gmail.com

I would love to hear your story, how long you’ve been creating and where you are at with your art. Did you go to art school or are you finding your own way? Drop me a comment below or email me at rachelevanswhite@gmail.com

Transformation

Keep reading if you want to see how I created this canvas…

I really didn’t expect it to turn out like this, but I’m so happy that it did!

My plan was to create a background, and then draw a mandala on the top, and use magenta paint for the inside of the mandala and turquoise paint on the outside.

I had done something similar the other night when messing around in my art journal, and really wanted to transfer the process to a canvas. This is the piece from my art journal…

To start, I coated the canvas (12 inch square, deep edge) with black gesso.

Next, I added red and yellow paint with my fingers…

I have some lovely washi tape which has music printed on it, so I added some of that fairly randomly, but keeping it horizontal and vertical.

I gave the wash a good coating of matte medium to seal it in, then left it to dry.

When dry, I added squares of yellow ochre, then used a stencil to add some little squares and rectangles of titan green pale by Golden. Then I coated a lollypop stick with titanium white paint and created some lines!

At this point, I left the painting overnight because my initial intention to turn it into a mandala just wasn’t happening. Perhaps it wanted to be an elephant? I have incorporated elephants quite a bit into my work lately!

The next day the answer came in the form of a butterfly, quite unexpectedly. So I drew the outline with a watersoluble white pencil, and filled in the butterfly shape with a wash of quinacridone magenta (high flow by Golden).

I added a wash of phthalo turquoise (Golden fluid acrylics) around the butterfly, and then to finish off I outlined the shape using fine gold acrylic paint.

And there she is in all her glory! Not at all what I set out to do, but love it just the same. Maybe I’ll do a mandala version next time.. I’ve just had to order a whole load more canvases!

Please drop me a comment below if you enjoyed watching the process, or if you have any questions.

Weight or Wait?

Any other creatives having a hard time creating right now?

I manage to paint or draw now and again, but it’s usually something fast and furious – a chance to let out some feelings rather than get into anything involving detailed work. I used to be able to spend time on a painting, a few hours at a time. Now I have to take advantage of that small space between the kids going to bed and wanting to crash into bed myself.

I created this piece in about half an hour… no time for detail or fine tuning! At the end of this blogpost you’ll find a link to the time-lapsed version of the process.

Lockdown has given me more time at home, but in practice this means spending more time breaking up the children’s fights and less time in front of a canvas.

Our children haven’t been to school since March, which seems such a long time ago now. Homeschooling attempts were abandoned after a few weeks for various reasons – including the family upheaval of moving house to a completely new area of the country, and trying to make new friends whilst abiding by the ever-changing social distancing rules.

Reminding myself constantly to be thankful for the time I do get to create, I try not to get frustrated with the amount of time available.

If and when the kids go back to school, I know that I’ll be incredibly thankful for the increased amount of time gifted to me. Until then, I’ll have to make the most of what I’ve got and make a huge mountain of fast paintings! At least I’ll get lots of sketching practice in!

Here is the link to my YouTube video of the portrait:

Not Finished Yet

This girl came out of some very fast and loose painting in my hand-made art journal.

82B1F539-FC5D-492B-A09B-1901ED6D0374_1_201_a

I started with a page where I’d previously scraped some left over paint from my palette. I could see a place on the left-hand page where I wanted to add a face.

903645A8-ECB6-4A5E-9B36-AE59CA79DBA3_1_201_a

I painted a vague oval face-shape using some white gesso with a hint of antelope-brown ink added to it so it wasn’t stark white. Underneath I made some sweeping marks with some blue ink and sprayed it with water. I also added a sweep of fluorescent pink just for fun! Any left-over ink on my brush was added to the right-hand page.

Next I sketched in some facial features with an ordinary HB pencil and added a touch of turquoise ink in the pupils and around the eyes and nose. I also started adding some loose blue areas for her hair.

FE5D9F16-021C-4FDE-9E1C-983BE7870F8D_1_201_a

I used my stabilo all black pencil to add some definition to the facial features and used ink to add colour to the eyebrows and lips, more hair and shading on the neck.

5A38D453-EDCA-4DC0-B6D7-EDD804EDB6F8

Grabbing some magenta paint (quinacridone magenta by Golden) I loosely painted in her top.

I added some green paint to the right hand side and used a scraper tool to get some texture. I scraped the excess paint to leave marks on the girl’s hair and body.

2E069371-D432-4D44-A2F3-B71FCEA15DF2_1_201_a

Adding more paint (titan buff and titan green pale in golden acrylics) to the right hand side, I decided I liked the girl as she was, unfinished, and wrote the words using my stabilo all black pencil. I used a small wet brush to activate the stabilo.

CF47D667-4ACD-4021-A70F-1D0C0B753635_1_201_a

To finish, I added some iridescent fine gold paint (by Golden) using a stencil and make-up sponge.

82B1F539-FC5D-492B-A09B-1901ED6D0374_1_201_a

I enjoyed making this girl! I encourage you to play in your journal, keep loose and free – you never know what you might come up with.

Just a crazy person wearing a mask?

I wore a mask yesterday.

I don’t look very happy about it, in fact I wasn’t particularly happy about it. But it had to be done and I did it. Go me.

6E92AE28-11F5-41FA-AE0D-8DC9BD20E8E7

I put it on in the car before heading out to the shop, and had the weirdest sensation as I got out the car… it was as if none of this pandemic had happened and I was just a crazy person wearing a mask, and everyone was going to point and stare at me.

No-one on the street was wearing a mask except me, and there were a few people wandering about or hanging around outside shops – all without masks.

Just for a second, I doubted my own sanity and wondered if I would head into the co-op and be the only person in a mask.

Of course, everyone inside was masked up too, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

I’m not mad.

Or am I?

Lockdown thoughts

DC1F0237-9E1C-4BAD-BD1B-F74E5BAF57D7

So much has happened over the last few months – anyone else feeling overwhelmed?

We were just having a conversation in our house about the rules: what we can and can’t do, who we can and can’t see, where we have to wear face coverings.  No-one seems to have a definitive answer about anything, and looking it up on BBC News doesn’t seem to make it any clearer.

It’s no wonder we’re all floundering.

When lockdown first started, we knew where we stood, we knew the rules. It was clear what we could and couldn’t do and, mostly, we got used to it. Right now I don’t have a clue what’s going on.

Are things back to normal? Not really.

Are we still in lockdown? I don’t know.

Can we go to the park? I think so. But is it safe?

Some people are following the rules tothe letter, others are throwing the rule book out the window. Many people are still isolating themselves and still behaving like we all were back in April, because they don’t believe it’s safe to do anything else.

I don’t know anything any more.

What I do know is that without art I would be lost. Whatever the day brings, however difficult it’s been, I know I can pull out some watercolour paper, some pencils, ink or paint (depending on how much energy I have to select supplies – often I just grab what’s nearest) and play for at least a few minutes.

I’ve got the technology to film what I’m creating, I just rarely have the energy to set it all up. I’m using the dining room table for creating – unfortunately I don’t have my own studio space. So I have to share the space with my family. I’m not complaining, I just wish I had more energy to do the things I love.

My dream is to share my creativity with the world, and encourage others to find their creative side. I firmly believe we all have one inside us somewhere. But first I need to sleep… and dream of elephants.

The first draft

I’m writing the first draft of my first novel, almost 30,000 words in and I’m managing to ignore Susan, my inner critic. Actually that’s not entirely true: I’m not ignoring her, I’m just building up a portfolio of comebacks so that when she starts up, I have some witty replies up my sleeve. They might not shut her up, but they’ll make me feel better and more importantly I will continue to write. The worst thing would be if I stopped writing just because Susan said a few unkind things.

The first draft is supposed to be messy!

It’s where you get to go crazy, try mad things, invent, create… whatever you want!

On the front cover of my notebook I’ve written: “writing is supposed to be fun!” just in case I forget.

Writing the first draft should be awesome, fun… a rollercoaster ride… especially if you’re writing fast.

My characters aren’t doing much of what I envisaged before I started. Some characters, who I thought would have a main role, have taken a back seat. Some minor characters have stepped up and are taking more of a lead role. I might end up getting rid of some of the minor ones, or combining a couple of them into one character (that’s for the editing though, I’m not worrying about that now).

I’ve also written somewhere “if you dont know what happens next, make it up!” I would rather keep writing any old rubbish than stop writing, then when I get in the flow, hopefully something good will come out of it… hopefully.

Finally, I’m learning so much from writing the first draft of this novel. By the time I’ve finished this draft, I will have learnt so much that the second book will be easier and less messy. Perhaps!

Living with Susan

My inner critic is having such a good time… seriously, she is in her element. So much so, that I have decided to give her a name. After all, I talk to her so much these days that she really deserves her own name, her own identity.

The reason she, Susan, is having such a blast is that I am writing. I am writing a lot. I set myself a target of 10,000 words a week and I’m smashing it… my novel is 26,000 words in, over a quarter written in just over two weeks. You see, when I’m not writing, not creating, Susan is pretty quiet. In fact sometimes I swear I hear her yawning, chewing her nails, checking Facebook.

Not lately. Lately she’s been in her element. So much to criticize, it amazes me that she knows where to start.

“See!” She exclaimed gleefully just last week. “I told you your book would be rubbish, and I was right!” She clapped her hands and looked at me knowingly. “Go on,” she nudged me with her elbow. “Read back what you’ve written and tell me it isn’t awful.”

I stopped typing briefly and said quietly, “First drafts are supposed to be rubbish”.

“Oh who told you that nonsense? The good writers have a much better first draft than yours will ever be.” She continues, filing her nails.

I manage to ignore her. Yesterday she tried again.

“Oh no… oh this sentence really is awful,” she scoffed. “It doesn’t even make sense!”

“Come on, give me a chance,” I say. “I haven’t even finished it yet!”

I’m over a quarter of the way through a novel I never thought I would write. I’m learning so much along the way, and maybe one day I’ll write something worthy of being published – but only if I keep practicing… and only if i learn to live with Susan.

Starting out as a writer

Starting anything is hard.. to keep going is even harder.

I’ve make a commitment to writing a  novel, which is provisionally titled ‘XX XY’. I have made the commitment because it’s been nagging at me since about 2012 when I first started dipping my toe in the water with writing.

I am sick of it’s nagging, whining voice, and so a few weeks ago I said, ‘OK! Enough! I will write you, I promise.’ 

And that’s it. It can be so easy to make a commitment, but I remind myself of that promise every single day when I sit down to write and the gremlins start telling me it will be rubbish.

‘It doesn’t matter,” I tell the ugly little creature. “I never promised it would be any good.”