Tuesday, 15 April 2014

A Golden Sky

It's the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.

I don't usually like to write about anything current or "political". Honestly, sometimes I feel too afraid, other times I don't feel it's my place to do so - with Hillsborough, it's tinged with both.

But this post isn't going to be about the politics.
The bottom line is: 96 people died.
They went out on a beautiful sunny day, to enjoy themselves, to watch a game of football.
And they never came home.

I had family at the match. They were in the area of the crush. They were incredibly lucky. The rest of my family are incredibly lucky.
I am incredibly lucky.
It doesn't bear thinking about.
To think of even a fraction of how it must feel for the families of the 96 who weren't so lucky is nearly impossible. I can't even imagine how they must be feeling - how they felt then, how they felt every year since, and every year from today.

There's a lot of drama surrounding this. I'm not getting into it.
I'm a young girl from Liverpool, directly affected by Hillsborough - you can probably guess my views.

Instead, I'll say this:
Love those around you.
Hold them tight and never let them ever think you don't love them.
Let them know every day just how much they mean. Yeah, even when they're annoying you, or in the midst of an argument, never lose sight of what's important.
It's easy to regret saying something in the heat in the moment. But real regret comes when you can't take it back. Ever.

My sister and my dad were so fortunate, and it's always in the back of my mind to think of how lucky we (my family and I) all are. I love them all so, so very much, and if I can take anything from today, then that's it.

It isn't about letting go.
It isn't about giving up.
It isn't about the vitriol you can store up when you're facing a rival team.
It isn't about attention.
It isn't about newspapers or media.
It isn't about football.
It isn't about numbers.
It's none of those things. 

Life's about living and loving the ones you love.
That's it.
That's all it's ever going to be.

Rest in peace, the 96, and I hope one day peace finally comes to their families. 
Monday, 14 April 2014

Dinosaurs on Schedule

I sketched and inked this up last night, for an upcoming post I'm doing over at Superfluous Rex. I won't talk much about the post in question, because I want people to actually read it, but here: have some dinosaurs!

I'm pretty fond of the parasaurolophus girl, so I drew her again!
I decided her name is Posey, and she's got a wide variety of interests - though some would consider she's just a poser.
I can't say any more for fear of ruining my Superfluous Rex post!

Schedules, Routines and Such...
I've noticed lately that I sketch a lot, and can sometimes be bothered to ink, but I'm not finishing a lot of pieces.
My schedule is pretty weird. My actual day job can have me working a full week (like this week), or only for a few days, and there's no real routine to any of it.
I put this, as well as a few other factors, down to the fact that my artwork has been sporadic for quite a long time.

Recently, I've been re-reading all my Roald Dahl books.
Dahl is a huge hero of mine, and in each of the editions I have, there are facts about his life & work featured after each story.
At the back of The BFG (not-so-secretly one of my favourites of Dahl's), we're treated to learning about Dahl's routine. It was very strict:
First, he would eat breakfast and open his mail. Then, at 10.30, he would retire to his writing hut and work until noon, when he would go back into the house for lunch.
Dahl would then have a nap (I applaud this - too many people are against the idea of having naps, but I think they're vital because sometimes you just have to recharge!), then go back into the hut for more writing from 4pm until 6. Then, he would have dinner with his family.

I find this all really inspiring. Dahl is one of my favourite writers and his creativity seemingly knew no bounds. That said, he was also a family man and spent his time wisely between working and enjoying his life. That sort of balance is often hard to find.

In the past, I used to draw all the time.
Not a day went by where I had not drawn something, even if said something was just a simple doodle (or many - once I start sketching, I find it hard to stop!). However, this meant that I didn't really do much else. My relationships weren't pleasant at the time, and my life was pretty much spread between drawing/writing and being on the internet.
It worked in a creative sense, because I was extremely prolific and got a lot of creative things done, but I didn't really spend any time enjoying myself. The idea of just sitting, relaxing, watching a film or playing a game was virtually unheard of.

Other factors applied later on, changing this busy routine of creativity I had, namely depression and change of circumstances regarding jobs and, well, actually, being happier in life too.
(Yes, it is possible to be happy while going through depression. It's actually easier to notice happiness when you're "not feeling your best".)

Nowadays, things are different. They're a lot brighter, and I am finally finding it easy to think of myself as 'relaxing' and also being 'productive'. I put a lot more emphasis now on actually enjoying life over what I'm doing with it.
I guess, after going through the worst parts of depression, I realised that being 'noticed' for my talents isn't really a top goal of mine any more.
But perhaps I should talk more about that another time!

That said, though, I do still enjoy drawing, and I am feeling quite inspired about being at DeviantART again, as well as posting my work here and finding a routine (or even just half of one. I'll settle for that!) which works for me.

I'm not fond of writing much about my personal life any more (though I do feel I need to explain that, and why, and all the wheres and whats as well, in another post! Watch this space, I guess!), but I'm sharing this because I feel it might help others. I've known several friends & other creative types who feel 'useless' or if they're a 'failure' if they aren't creating work.

You aren't.

Of course, I might be the only person telling you that, but, if you want to listen, I'll say it again: you are not a failure if you aren't creating something 100% of your time. Your time is yours, and you're free to do with it whatever you please. If you don't feel like making something or working on something some day and it isn't completely vital, then, DON'T DO IT. If you feel like just vegetating on the couch on your day off and watching cartoons or that! You've more than likely earned it.

Cataroose promise.

PS: Obviously, the finished dinosaur painting will be up on Superfluous Rex soon as I finish it and the post in question. Keep a watch on either my Twitter or the feed for Superfluous Rex itself. Thanks! :D

Monday, 7 April 2014

New Painting - Comfort Zone

Comfort Zone
Gouache, watercolour, oil paints, acrylic and ink.

This piece came out as a bit of a happy accident.
I predominantly work with watercolours, and though I will always love them, sometimes I want to try something else.

I've got a set of budget art supplies for when I just feel like experimenting - oil paints, acrylics, inks. That sort of thing. I like to try and keep a lot of materials on hand so if I want to make something in a specific way, I have the opportunity. Or that's the theory.

Anyway. With this, I wanted to practice making something different & challenging myself.
I've been using watercolours for around five years now, and though I will never claim to be an expert, I've reached a point where I'm pretty happy with using them and I have my own little knowledge of how they work/what to do with them.
Acrylic paints, gouache etc - they're all pretty new to me, and oil paints terrify me.

This cataroose portrait was made using all the mediums I listed up there - the cataroose's fur is a mix gouache, oil paints and acrylic, her antlers are only gouache. I also challenged myself to only use watercolours here very sparingly - so I only used them as the yellow wash in the background.

It definitely took me out of my comfort zone, but I had a lot of fun with it, and I'm really pleased with the outcome.
Expect further painted experiments like this in the future! 

Also - I encourage fellow artists out there to do a similar thing. Get some supplies you're not used to and just have fun with them. 
(But don't end up with your elbows in blue oil paint like I did...)

Sunday, 6 April 2014

A Week of Art Blogging; DAY SEVEN - What Now?

It draws to an end!
I hope you've enjoyed this week of full-on art onslaught!
I've certainly enjoyed revisiting my older works, talking about my influences, friends and characters, and I hope it's been enlightening!

So, indeed: what now? What next?
Well, for starters - I've not really been "here" this week! I've took the time off being on the computer (apart from, no doubt, watching things on Netflix in my down time - I'm writing this from the past (31st of March, to be exact!) who really knows?), and written these posts in advance.
I took the time off to collect my thoughts & get back into the actual swing of painting for fun again.
Though I'd intended to write about why things went a bit south for my artwork & mood-while-making-it for the past few years, I'll leave it for another time...this past week's posts have been pretty positive, and though the darker times lead to ultimately better things, those stories will come in good time!

I've made a lot of promises throughout my blogging here on Cataroose Blue, and indeed during this week.
Talk of revisiting the Patchwork Plane, my characters, and so on and so forth.
So that's what's next.
Continue to read this blog & watch for my updates on Twitter!

I'll leave you now with a little "making of" of the above piece, one of my favourites so far from this year, which features the 'dragonaroose' who I like to draw sometimes when I'm not feeling particularly feline!

Thank you for taking the time to read this week's posts, and for your continued support of my artwork, characters and projects.

Onward and upward! :D

Saturday, 5 April 2014

A Week of Art Blogging; Day SIX - The Patchwork Plane Commissions

I don't want to talk much about commissions.
My view on them has changed a lot, and I'm not sure about them in my art's future.
However! I did take on a bunch once that really inspired me and I'm still super proud of them.

I took commissions where I drew other peoples' characters as they might appear in the Patchwork Plane.
Basically, the gist is, when a character/creature/person/whatever turns up in the Plane, they generally take on a slightly altered appearance.
They might gain new markings, they might be given a mask to wear (the Plane is all about masks...), or they may even be assigned a task to undertake.

The characters featured here are all obviously the property of their original creators!
This is not all of them, but a choice selection of my favourites.

This was the first one I made, and I still love it very much!
Keelah here is fond of flying, and when she manifests in the Plane, on top of a cloud, she feels very excited indeed! She can actually fly here (though the wings on her flanks are just for show!), and as she picks up her playful, African-style trickster mask and adjusts her aerial goggles, she thinks of where she might venture next...

For Fraulein.
I was given some background about this polar bear character before I made this piece.
He is actually the protector of his creator's character, and I believe he means quite a lot to her.
So, in a colder part of the Plane, this bear is still noble and brave, but he is feeling a little lost without his beloved girl. He casts the mask aside, and decides he has to find a way out of this strange new land for his heart aches without her...

Her character enjoys autumn, I was told, and so I just picked that theme and ran with it!
In the Patchwork Plane, she is given the job as autumn spirit. She has a mask, as you can see there, but she's chosen not to wear it while she runs through all the crunchy leaves!
Autumn colourschemes are gorgeous, so this was really wonderful to paint.

This beautifully-designed character is very much about femininity and is quite maternal, so inspiration struck and I'm really pleased with the outcome!
The story here is that Jewel is in control of unborn children. It is up to her to decide which sex they will be. If she dips her hoof in the pink part of the river, a girl, if she dips it into the blue, it will be a boy.
Her elegant mask is propped up beside her, a kind of offering to the fertility spirit.
I really liked this concept, and I am considering recycling it for a future Patchwork Plane character of my own.
(The concept was mine originally, I must add! Don't worry - I'm not ripping Jewel off :))

Thank you again to all of those brilliant artists who commissioned me for these pieces!
I had so much fun with your lovely characters! :)

Friday, 4 April 2014

A Week of Art Blogging; Day FIVE - Intergalactic Animals

A while back, I completed a set of pieces for my dear friend, Phano (another great and influence to me, and he posts very frequently to Superfluous Rex, too!).

He is fond of astronomy, and I asked him to give me a list of animals that he liked too.
You can possibly see where I was going with this...

I'm incredibly proud of this series, and still pleased with how they all turned out.
I love space as well, though I am not nearly as knowledgeable as Phano about it all!

Thursday, 3 April 2014

A Week of Art Blogging; Day FOUR - Pictures from a Patchwork Plane

The fourth in my weeklong installment is going to be more of an image flood than anything!
Why is this? Well, believe it or not, I've written this entire week's worth of posts in one night, while recovering from a pretty hellish cold(!).
I'm not asking for a medal or anything, but I think that's worth noting!

The other reason is because I want to keep fairly quiet still about the Patchwork Plane.
I plan on sharing it in the best way possible soon, through my artwork, but for now, I'm going to remind you of some of the older Plane-flavoured pieces.

To get you up to date:
-An Introduction to the Patchwork Plane.
-Brief rundown of (some of) the characters.

I wonder if anybody remembers all of these characters!
I'm working on bringing them back. I promise.
I'll even bring a few new ones along for the ride, to make up for the loooong hiatus...


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