Why Write Your Story?

books and a type writer with text: What does writing your story mean to you?

If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a story haunting you. It’s tapping you on the ‘creative shoulder’ and asking you to be the one to ‘tell’ it.

Or … maybe a setting has inspired your imagination?

Maybe a character or several characters have turned up and they’re showing you what’s happening in their lives. And you’re ready to write what you’re seeing, hearing, and experiencing.

Maybe your characters are struggling with a personal, work or life problem, and now they’ve walked into your imagination, taken a seat on the couch and started talking to you as if you’re their creative therapist!

Maybe, you’ve got something important you want to say through story and it’s the theme that fascinates you. Maybe you’d like to write a story that ‘speaks’ to that theme and what it means to be human.

Or … maybe your story has been brewing in the depths of your imagination for some time now and you’re ready to take the plunge and write.

If you’ve been contemplating writing a story, no matter whether it is a brand new idea or one you’ve lived with for years, no matter if you’re a seasoned fiction writer or new to this writing gig, then I encourage you to get started. But before you dive in and start pecking at the keyboard to bring your characters to life, I’d like you to take a moment to think about why you want to write the story and what it means to you?

But, why ask yourself these questions? Why not just start writing? Who cares why you want to write the story?

Well, even though you may crave to write entertaining and engaging stories that capture your readers imagination and keeps them turning the pages, writers often have a deeper, more personal reason for wanting to tell the story in the first place.

And, it’s a good idea to explore your why so you know why you’ll keep trying even when no-one is asking you to write your novel.

Even when no-one cares that you’re writing.

Even when you’ve finally finished your novel and maybe you’re pitching it to agents and they’re passing on offering to represent you and your story to publishers.

Writing a novel is an long-term creative project for a lot of writers (myself included) and it can be hard to keep going, so knowing your deep and personal reason for showing up and doing the work anyway will help you to keep writing forward for months and years, and especially through the layered iterations and feedback that bring a fully immersive novel to life.

Not knowing why you want to write a novel isn’t strictly necessary to write a novel of course, but as a fiction coach I always ask my writing clients to think deeply about why they MUST write this particular story so they know their deep and personal reason for showing up to do the writing work.

Knowing your ‘why’ helps you to:

  • stay motivated
  • feel empowered to keep writing
  • helps keep self-doubt at bay
  • helps you to finish the first draft and many more after that too
  • brings insight into the deeper themes and story point you want to explore in the story
  • helps you to figure out the point of your story so that every scene in the story speaks to that point and reduces tangents in the story’s cause-and-effect trajectory
  • to continue to stay motivated when you’re feeling stuck or fatigued from the marathon of a long form writing project or you just need a boost
  • refreshes your creative belief in yourself to keep going and bring your story into the world

Writing a novel can take years and many iterations. I think of it as a layered process, and at times, it can be tough staying with the story that first inspired us to write, so reviewing your ‘why’ will help you to return to the kernel of inspiration that helped you take the leap of faith to write your novel in the first place. That’s empowering!

So, no matter where you are in the writing process, I invite you to consider:

  • What does writing this specific story mean to you? Like deep down, or hidden in your heart. Go on, be honest. Get deep and go beyond wanting to make money from it or build a career. Get to the heart of what writing this story means to you.
    Right now, I invite you to whip out a personal journal or open a new word document, and write a paragraph about what writing this particular story means to you.
  • What do you really want to say to the reader? Get specific. Is there a situation or a message, or a point you’d love to convey to the reader? Go straight there and write a sentence or two about that, and then write WHY this message means so much to you. Think about what it means to you and write about that. Digging deep and exploring the layers of what this means to you will help you to discover a deeper level to why you’re writing your story.
  • What will it mean to you to nurture this specific story and bring it into the world? Take a moment to imagine your story complete. It’s a short story or a short story in an anthology, or a complete novel. You’re holding it in your hands. Turning it over and marvelling at what you’ve creatively brought into the world. Now write a paragraph about what it meant to you to go through all the ups and downs of writing this story, and write about why you persevered through all the feedback and editorial corrections to bring it to your readers.

Now, read your answers to these questions. What have you discovered about why this story is important to you? What is driving you to write and keep writing? Have you discovered a deeper message you’re inspired to weave into your story now?

This is gold.

This is your ‘why’!

Keep coming back to it whenever you need to.

Thanks for reading this post. I hope you’ve found it helpful. Keep writing your stories and strengthening your fiction writing craft, and happy writing!

What I’m writing now… for those who are interested!

After completing my coaching certification, I have turned my attention back to writing novels. Each novel I have written so far has taught me so much about the process of writing fiction and sticking with it even in the toughest of times. I’ve also learned that nothing is ever wasted when we write stories, and even if something doesn’t work out, there are learnings that will enrich the next story we write. And as I’ve moved through the coaching course, I’ve learned how amazingly valuable coaching questions are and how feedback strengthen my fiction. I love that!

Recently, I have been writing an ‘inside outline’ for my own cozy paranormal mystery novel. I love mysteries. Especially cozy mysteries (or cosy mysteries for British English buffs). I also love paranormal and speculative fiction elements mixed with adventure and horror beats, so that’s what I’m working on in my story.

I’ve also weaved in romantic elements (which isn’t a full romance because it is a sub-plot not the main plot) into the story and I have been working with certified coach and author of The Red Fletch, Margaret McNellis, to develop my story, characters, conflict and structure of this story, and how I’ve been discussing options on how I can plan for it to become a series too. Writing a mystery is so much fun but it’s complex because characters have secrets, some lie, others refuse to tell the sleuth what they know, and there’s a lot of threads to weave together so the reader doesn’t figure out who did the deed before I want them to find out.

Margaret McNellis is a kind and caring coach who has met me where I am as a writer, and I’ve found working with her to be fun, insightful and her use of tarot has helped bring insight to the story and characters. I loved the experience. It was fantastic. The coaching questions Margaret has asked has helped me to develop my character’s motivations, and her understanding of story has also been invaluable during the process of developing my mystery. It’s been a delight to work with a coach solely on my own story. The investment, for me, has been truly valuable and I’m inspired to keep writing forward.

In recent months I’ve also written two short stories. One is a horror and the other a memoir. My amazing friend, editor and mentor, Lauren Daniels, author of Serpent’s Wake: a tale for the Bitten, taught me how to bring out the emotional truth through the scenes. It was an emotional experience, and I learned so much about showing over telling, and how to get to the heart of emotional truth in stories.

In July, I submitted the horror short story to an anthology call out but it didn’t make the cut … this time! But the experience was excellent. I learned a lot about submitting stories for anthology calls.

Now, I’ve submitted both stories to the Write Around the Murray AlburyCity short story award competition. It’s was an open call with no specific genres required, but the stories had to be original work, not previously published and under 3000 words. Tick, tick, and tick for both stories. So we’ll see how they go.

Overall, I’m very happy with stepping out of my comfort zone and putting my stories in the anthology call out and competition. It’s not easy to put out creative work but who knows, one day they may find a publication that resonates and they’ll both get published. The important thing is mind-set and being willing to be brave. If the stories get passed for publication (that’s nicer than saying they get ‘rejected’), I’ll keep them for the next opportunity, and in the meantime I’ll keep writing new short stories.

That’s it from me. Below is how to contact me if you’re interested in working with me as a fiction coach.

Until next time happy creative writing!

Work with me on your fiction

If you’re working on a story and interested in fiction coaching and want some one-to-one help, consider applying for fiction coaching. To do that, head over to my contact page and let me know about your story and what your goals are. Be sure to add your email address and I’ll be in touch with a Q&A form to get more information so I know how I can best help.

Please note: I am based in Australia, but if you’re in another country, I offer email and zoom coaching on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays Aussie times. I have worked with writers both in Australia and the United States with ease. We work out a mutual time on the world clock and get to work.

I got certified!

It’s been almost one year since I posted here and that’s because I have moved from Queensland to New South Wales, taken on two new administration jobs, and I have been hard at work studying to become a certified Fiction Book Coach through Author Accelerator.

After a year and a half of dedicated study, and working with fiction writers to strengthen their stories and the foundations of the internal and external plot lines, build worlds and characters that work for and with and come out of the story, coaching the blueprint for a fiction book, evaluating full-length manuscripts, evaluating chapters, writing editorial letters, having 1:1 coaching conversations to support writers with their story development, and most recently, coaching writers with a strong manuscript through the process of writing a synopsis, query letter and batching agents as well as writing up a pitch plan specific to my writer’s story genre and their career goals, with the aim of targeting agents who might represent them, I am now certified!

When I received the good news this week, I laughed. I danced around the house. And then I cried and cried. They were tears of joy and release because coaching writers is so deeply meaningful to me and I love what I do.

I’m a caring coach who gives kind but honest feedback on what I review. I’m super mindful of how difficult it is to give creative work to a stranger and allow them to critique it. It’s nerve wrecking and one of the bravest things a writer can do. I have so much respect for any writer who opens up to feedback and takes the feedback as an opportunity to learn and grow.

I know how hurtful feedback can be when it is delivered without thought for the emotional care of the writer because I have been there. I’ve been hurt and struggled to come back to my stories when I didn’t have the support I needed to see the gold in the feedback. But through this course and working with so many amazing writers in the last year and a half I have learned how valuable it is to have another person’s eyeballs on your writing to help see what you can no longer see because you are too close.

I’m delighted to share this good news with you and let you all know why I have been hidden away from the world for the past year.

I am beyond grateful to Jennie Nash and the Author Accelerator team for supporting me to become a fiction book coach, and especially to my editor and mentor, Lauren Daniels, from the Brisbane Writers Workshop for teaching me how to give feedback that is compassionate and focused on the arc, the character, the literary technique. This approach has allowed me to inspire and empower my writers to keep writing forward.

I am also deeply grateful to every single writer who trusted me with their work and allowed me to give them my observations. It takes guts to write and it takes guts to be vulnerable enough to receive feedback. I know. I’ve been there as an aspiring writer myself.

I could not have achieved my certification without the vulnerability and trust of the writers I have worked with. I send each and every one of them my deepest gratitude for believing in me.

So what’s next?

It’s time for me take a moment to celebrate, and begin to really map out how I can be of service to my writing clients going forward.

My goal is to coach my writers to write the best stories they can and to support them in their pursuit of their writing goals whether that is taking an idea and learning how to write a novel or novella that works and has a strong cause-and-effect trajectory, or taking a manuscript they have been working on but they’re stuck in revision hell and helping them get clear on what’s stopping them from taking it to the next step so the story satisfies their target/ideal reader.

My other goal is to help writers with manuscripts that are truly ready for publication (that means they need to have the foundation elements in place, a strong cause-and-effect structure, their writing craft is solid and they are willing to work on any red, yellow or green light issues to make it the best story they can) and work with them to pitch to agents or at conferences. As a coach I cannot guarantee publication or that an agent will want to represent a writing client, but I can help my writing clients to write their best story, and I can help them to feel satisfied that they have done everything in their control to write their story to the best of their ability. And that’s satisfying to know that you’ve done everything in your power to write your very best book.

So, as I’ve said in previous posts when I first enrolled in my course to learn to become a fiction book coach, this website’s focus will change from art, writing and life to serving writers. I want to thank you for hanging in there with me over the years. I appreciate everyone who has stopped by and read my musings or liked my artwork, or cheered me on as I went through the ups and downs of learning to write a novel. You have touched my heart and I appreciate you very much.

I hope, if you love stories and writing as much as I do, that you’ll stay with me. I’ll be working on posting more often around my coaching writing clients and working my other job. I want to inspire you to keep writing forward. New words in the bank today. Characters that come alive in your reader’s mind. Stories that work for the reader and keep them turning pages. All that good stuff.

But first, I need to do some deep thinking and figure out exactly who I want to serve. I love fantasy, speculative fiction, cozy mysteries, contemporary women’s fiction, romance, romantic elements, horror and magic realism. I’m eclectic in my reading but I need to be discerning and figure out who I can serve the best.

Thanks for reading and thanks for supporting me along the way as I have achieved this important personal career goal.

Until next time, happy creative writing!

Celebrating A Writer’s Success

I am delighted to share with you that my coaching client, Pamela Jeffs, a fabulous and highly regarded speculative fiction short story author has won the Queensland Writers Centre 2021 Flinthart Residency where she will work on her speculative fiction novel and develop it to publication later this year. Congratulations Pamela!

I’m so excited and grateful we got to work together. During our fiction coaching partnership we worked through a set of novel blueprint exercises to ensure Pamela had a strong foundation for this novella. The process required Pamela to provide me with answers to a set of exercises and I provided coaching comments, questions, and reflection on each one. We met over zoom and discussed the feedback, how it came across and the opportunities for improvement or further exploration.

Together we worked on all aspects of the novella from finding the best the point of view for the story, understanding the ideal reader and genre target audience, developing the protagonist and their misbelief, writing an elevator pitch, writing a book jacket copy, writing a plot that worked, writing scenes that showed a change or transformation, world building, and fleshing out an inside outline that had action and emotional impact that moved the story forward in a logical way. I am sure some of the questions I asked challenged Pamela to go deeper and find threads she was yet to discover. It was a pleasure to work with Pamela on her novella and I am glowing with joy for her success.

A collection of fantasy and sci-fi short stories by Pamela Jeffs.

I hope you will join me in congratulating Pamela Jeffs!

Also if you love reading short fantasy and sci-fi fiction, I can recommend Saloons & Stardust – A Collection by Pamela Jeffs. I have a copy and the first story has a great twist to it. I can’t give the surprise away but if you’re open to supporting an author, maybe pick up a copy yourself?

If you’re interested in reading a cracking collection of short stories, check out Relics Wrecks & Ruins anthology collection edited by the late Aiki Flinthart. You’ll find stories written by Neil Gaiman, Angela Slatter, David Farland, Pamela Jeffs, Garth Nix, Aiki Flinthart and many more.

Each story is a feast to read.

As an update from me, I am almost finished my fiction coaching course and I am looking forward to being able to coach more writers get the story down on the page. I am still drawing and reading, and I am in the middle of moving house. And, as you can see from this post I am focusing on fiction coaching and creative writing. Thanks for reading.

Until next time, happy creating and if you’re interested in working with me on your story go to the contact page and send me an email so we can chat.

**Disclaimer: Fiction book coaching does not guarantee winning a residency or publication, but it does support writers to write and to develop and write their stories/manuscripts.

Fiction Coaching – What I’m learning

I’m about 30% the way through my fiction coaching course now and have taken on some lovely practice coaching clients. This has forced me to step out of my comfort zone and to stretch myself. It has been such a good experience for me and I am now able to use all the writing skills I have spent the last twelve years learning to assist and guide my clients to think through their stories and figure out where they need to do more work on their novels.

It’s a good feeling to contribute to an author’s novel process, but there is a huge responsibility that comes with giving feedback that is honest and caring. I am very mindful of how much it hurts to receive feedback that your story isn’t quite where you thought it was and needs more work. I’ve just been through that myself, and now that I am learning to coach fiction novelists, I am also very aware of how hard it is to point out to a writer who has spent years on a manuscript that something fundamental isn’t working.

In my classes I’ve been learning how to take my writers through a process that allows them to delve into their motivation for writing their story, what’s important about writing that particular story, what they’re really trying to say to their reader through story as it unfolds. I’ve been learning to coach my writers to figure out point of view, genre, develop their world building, and how to write scenes that show a change and add to the cause-and-effect trajectory of a story. It’s exciting stuff and it’s deep work that requires writers to go deeper than they’ve done before.

If you’ve ever written a novel, whether that’s to publication or it’s still a work in progress, then you know writing is an iterative process where each rewrite brings new challenges and rewards. Sometimes it feels almost impossible to finish but by making incremental steps forward you will get there. And if you have a story calling your name, then it will haunt you until you put words down on paper/screen. At least, that’s my experience.

The best thing about my coaching course (to my mind) is the focus on getting the foundation of your story sorted out before writing it. I did the plotting thing and I have discovery written my way through a couple of manuscripts and there are pros and cons to both types of approaches. In the end I’ve settled somewhere in the middle, but still I’ve instinctively known something was missing from my novel and that was a deeper internal level to the story. My story has a lot of action in it and I know about the internal plot and have that in there too, however, it’s not as deep as it could be. I’ve learned it doesn’t yet pull my readers into the trance state I want them to experience. So more work is required to incorporate what things mean to my protagonist as she faces set backs, challenges, obstacles on her way to achieving what she wants. So, I have much more work to do on my novel.

But no work done on a creative activity is ever wasted time. Not to me. I can look back at complete disasters in both my writing and my art, and I can see that each piece has been a stepping stone in developing my skills, my understanding of what I was trying to do, and in expressing on paper an accurate reflection of what I wanted my viewers/readers to experience. Every mistake has a purpose and no effort to learn is ever wasted.

I’ll add more posts about my experiences in the near future. For the moment, I am doing a lot of reading, loads of study, and I am still drawing. I have decided to put a watercolour painting and a mixed-media drawing into a local exhibition in May. It’s another step out of my comfort zone. I can’t put the images of this work up here yet as I need to wait until the exhibition to do that.

So, what I’ll show you is this great horror anthology, Black Cranes Tales of Unquiet Women that I got in the post and have been reading. It’s been nominated for a Bram Stoker Award, and it deserves the recognition.

When I read Geneve Flynn’s Little Worm story my heart fluttered in my chest, time stopped and the hairs on the back of my neck stiffened. I was pulled into the story and couldn’t put it down until I was finished. I’m still haunted by it and it’s thrilling!

A horror anthology that will thrill you.

Geneve Flynn is a Brisbane based author and editor, and together with Lee Murray they edited this anthology. So if you’re looking for an anthology of horror stories this one is sure to thrill you.

Okay, that’s it from me today. I have more study to do and I am hoping to spend part of the afternoon doing cross hatching. I need to keep practicing my creative skills.

I hope you are staying creative and enjoying the process.

Creative Changes and Coaching

I’ve been writing this blog since 2013 (if my memory serves me), and it’s always been about sharing my love of creativity, my art, writing and inspiring others to be creative in some way, however, in January 2021, two things happened in my life that will impact the way I do things here.

First, I became a certified leadership coach which gives me the professional certification required to coach clients in all areas of their personal and professional lives. It gave me the tools and confidence to hold space for my clients, listen deeply to what is happening for them and to accept, blend and create with them as they move forward toward a goal, and, overcome any struggles they may be facing in pursuit of that.

Second, my day job was made redundant and at that pivotal point in my life, I took time to think seriously about what I wanted to do and how I wanted to be of service to others in my life. This lead to a decision to put my creative heart first and build a business that focuses on coaching, fiction coaching, writing and art. I knew I wanted to help other people go deeper into their life experiences and find solutions that suit them as well as inspire them to live their best creative life.

At my desk

So this is me, embarking on a new life experience. I’m changing and I am combining my love of coaching with my love of fiction and the creative process, and enrolled in the Author Accelerator Book Coaching Program specialising in fiction.

Around all of this change I am still drawing and painting and exploring creativity, however, I wanted to let you know that you’ll see some changes to my website as I become clearer on what I want in my creative life and how I can help you to develop your own relationship with creativity.

I wanted to take a moment to thank you for following my blog and to let you know how much I have appreciated the likes on my blog posts, the comments and the time you’ve taken out of your day to connect with me. I appreciate that very much. I also understand, that as things change here, you may feel my blog and website is no longer for you. If so, thank you for hanging out with me and I wish you every creative success in whatever you do.

If you’re staying with me you’ll see posts on creative writing, art, and coaching, as well as updates on what I’m doing creatively.

I’ll leave you with my latest pet portrait done in prismacolor pencils on premium drawing card.

Prismacolor Pencils on Premium Drawing Card

Write, play, explore and take daily action toward creating the life you want.

Thanks for everything and until next time, happy creating. I hope you are following your creative calling.

Animal Portraits

I’ve been very quiet for a while and that’s because I have been developing my animal/pet portraiture skills in procreate, watercolour, ink pen and prismacolor pencils. I’ve also finished working for a while and this has afforded me some creative time to explore my art, creative writing and to develop a business in coaching creative people as well as to develop my online teaching ideas.

One of my greatest joys has been bringing fur-babies to life on the page. I hope you’ll take some time to have a look at my pet portraits so far. There are many more inspiration pets in the virtual wings for me to play with. I’m going to keep going with digital art, but will also branch out and explore as many different mediums as possible, as I don’t want to become narrow in my art skills development.

Only one of these pet portraits is in watercolour and that’s because it is a challenging medium to get the hang of and I am still developing my foundation skills. Still I am very happy with the border collie puppy below.

I originally sketched out the this pen ink tiger in 2014/2015. I must have closed my visual diary and put it away thinking I’d come back to it, which I did around six or seven years later!

When I found it, I thought this is an opportunity to improve on a drawing and to see where I can take it with a few perspective corrections.

Tiger in black pen and prismacolor pencils
Artist: Selina Shapland
Created: 3rd February 2021
Ink pen underdrawing of the tiger
Artist: Selina Shapland
Finished: 3rd February 2021

I hope my animal / pet portrait art inspires you to develop your creative skills. Art is really about observation and learning to take what you see and accurately record it on the page whether that’s digital or paper or on a canvas. The better we get at seeing the world as it is and recording it the more accurate our art becomes. I do like semi-realism in my portraits but I am also going through some deep experimentation too. So I’m sure you’ll see many more pieces from me as time goes by.

Until next time, happy creating, whatever creative expression calls to you!

Developing an eye for values

Circus Clown Portrait – Procreate pencil drawing.
Artist: Selina Shapland.
Created: 8/12/2020
Inspiration photo from Professional Photographer: Lennie Duensing – Sktchyapp

I believe it is vitally important to take time to be creative. For me, it is how I allow my brain time to unravel the big issues I am facing and most importantly, it is how I de-stress and manage to quiet anxious thoughts and feelings.

Drawing, painting and focusing on my creative life through writing have kept me sane this year. I have learned so much about art and I know I have so much more to learn. I have written and re-written my story and it’s almost ready to be submitted to a competition for a chance to be shortlisted and possibly win one-to-one editing. Regardless of where my story comes in the number of entries, it has been a valuable experience preparing for this deadline.

Back to art. I’ve been learning to develop my eye for values and have started to do studies focusing on dark, medium and light tones which create a more realistic visual representation of the person I am drawing.

Here are some photos of other value studies I’ve been working on.

Portrait of a Comedian with Derwent Pencil in Procreate
Artist: Selina Shapland
Created: 1/12/2020
Inspiration photo from Sktchyapp

I have learned the importance of creating a strong structure of the face before beginning to layer in the darks, mediums and lights. I’ve also become more comfortable with making mistakes and working with them, correcting proportions as I go with each drawing.

The two studies above are also procreate portraits with inking, colour layers and value ranges. I have been enjoying this type of drawing a lot. The one on the left was created on the 4/12/2020 and the one on the right was created on 1/11/2020.

A portrait of hands in procreate
Artist: Selina Shapland
Created: 12/11/2020
Inspiration photo from Sktchyapp

I didn’t get an exact likeness but I think this study of hands says something special about human connection and the intimacy of touch. The lady who put up the inspiration photo on sktchy told me this was a special portrait to her as it shows her holding her elderly mother’s hand, and her mother has now passed away. My heart went out to her when she told me because as my own mother has developed advanced Alzheimer’s I have come to realise the deep importance of these moments. These touches say a lot and I was honoured that I could bring back loving memories to that lady.

The two portraits above are also procreate. I have been going through a big digital drawing phase. Maybe because it’s easy to take my iPad on the train to and from work? Anyway, the portrait on the left was created on 7/12/2020 and the portrait on the right was created on 28/10/2020. I enjoy the cartoon-y style and couldn’t resist that big sun flower. Both are inspired from sktchyapp photos.

Portrait in Procreate
Artist: Selina Shapland
Created: 16/11/2020

I enjoyed this portrait as I not only focused on values but put in layers of blue, red and yellow to create bolder effect. This one is also a sktchyapp inspired artwork.

I have been practicing my oil painting. It takes ages to finish a piece. I learned a lot about ensuring the underdrawing is accurate with proportions and mixing colours to match skin tone is an art in itself. I’ll keep practicing. I had a lot of trouble getting the nose right in this one but I loved her eyes in the end. It took me months to do this portrait because I couldn’t decide on colours and had a terrible time with getting a likeness and the proportions right.

Artist: Selina Shapland
Created: 29/11/2020

So that’s been the a pictorial tour of the last three months of my art practice. I’ve also dealt with the news that my job is being made redundant, selling my mother’s house to pay her care fees, and who knows what other stresses. The only way I have got through the day has been to turn to my creative life and live as much in accordance with my heart’s desire as possible.

Now I’m back to my creative writing. Got a synopsis and audience analysis to write before I submit my story in the competition.

Whatever you’re doing, I hope living a creative life brings you joy and happiness the way it does for me.

Sketching and Portrait Practice

My drawing practice has been taking twists and turns. I’m still working through my 100 portraits and practicing the human face using various techniques (as you can see from my digital and pen portraits below), but I’ve also been fascinated by lions lately and above you can see three of the studies I’ve been working on. The first one is pen and prismacolor pencils in my tinted visual diary and the other two were drawn on my procreate program. I particularly like the big boy in the centre. I fell in love with his jutting chin and had to catch a likeness of my own.

I do like the girl with the red lips. All of the portraits above are inspired by people posting their photos on the Sktchy app so that artists can draw them. It’s been an invaluable app for providing inspiration and tuition to continue to develop my portrait practice challenge. I’ve done 98 of 100 portraits as of this weekend. Only two more to go.

In between this, I’ve also rewritten/edited fifteen chapters of my novel, but have found that I’ve needed to return to my drawing more often to fill my creative inner bucket.

So recently I’ve started to explore the idea of sketching daily and learning urban sketching. I’ve got a lot to learn in art but particularly in urban sketching and perspective drawing. However, I’ve also decided that it’s about the process of drawing and enjoying the story I create on the page. These drawings of my world and the way I see things, and I’m very much looking forward to developing this new sketching interest over time.

Here’s some drawings I’ve sketched in my small Jasart visual diary over the weekend.

My partner’s Kawasaki motorbike.

I sat down and sketched my partner’s motorbike. It turned out pretty good even thought there are heaps of inaccuracies and a few skewed perspectives on it. Still I’m so happy with this drawing as it’s only the second motorbike I’ve ever drawn.

Sketches in my visual diary using pen and watercolour

I actually like this kind of sketching. It is so enjoyable. There’s a flower I saw on the side of the street the other day and a super cartoony sketch of my hand with my pen.

And above is a sketch of my poodle waiting patiently for his chicken jerky, and my other fur-baby hanging out on the couch with me.

This is one of the things I love about sketching in a visual diary. I can record the world around me and focus in on what is important or interesting in my life.

Now I need to sneak around with my sketch pad until I can draw my cat. It’s a challenge as animals have a sixth sense about being watched and move almost immediately. Anyway, I’ll get there.

And I’m going to keep drawing and doing my best to learn urban sketching and all sorts of perspective.

Until next time, I hope you have a wonderful creative day.

It’s been an arty kinda month

It’s been a while since I wrote a post. Seems to be something I say a lot lately. Life’s been busy with my deep dive into developing my life drawing and anatomy skills, learning oil portrait painting, more progress on my portrait practice challenge, and developing my digital art skills too. In between all of that I’ve still be plodding along working on my novel here and there, and going to work, living and spending time with my loved ones as much as I can.

I hope you have been well. It’s turned into a topsy-turvy world with this COVID virus and my thoughts are with everyone who has been affected.

So… I’ve been having an arty kind of month and am sharing some of the things I’ve done.

In early July, I attended a four day oil portrait painting workshop run by Jess Le Clerc from Art School Co on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland and focused on capturing my mum as she struggles with Alzheimer’s Disease. I wanted to capture how lost she is and how much she tries to understand what is happening around her.

I wanted to connect with my mother in a special way that conveyed how much I love her.

This oil painting was a very emotional experience for me. As mum emerged on the canvas I found my emotions swell up, crest and crash all over my broken heart. Memories of her before this disease started to steal her memories from us plunged pain in to the centre of my chest. My eyes welled but I also felt great joy as I quietly painted my mother’s likeness.

In a strange way I got to spend four days communing with my mum in a way that goes beyond language and touches the heart and soul. I don’t know if I will ever paint another image that will be as profoundly important to my heart as this one. Above is a photo of the still wet oil portrait.

Jess Le Clerc ran an excellent workshop and catered to many different portrait needs and artist skill levels. She was fun to learn from and so very informative. I wish I had been more developed as an oil painter so I could have peppered her with questions. But I’m still such a beginner I didn’t know what to ask.

Anyway it took some time for me to be able to speak about this experience with my mum’s oil portrait as emotions kept rising for me to deal with. Grief mixed with joy not only in the four days I spent painting but also for weeks afterwards.

As I moved through that experience I found myself doing more digital art. Here are two of my most recent digital portraits from my portrait practice challenge.

These were part of the Sktchy 30 faces in 30 days. I only did three portraits of this challenge as I had so many other things going on in my life. The girl’s hand took me four attempts to make it look like a hand and I think I sat on this digital portrait for about 20 days as I pondered what wasn’t quite right with it. In the end it came together and I am happy with my progress and progress is what counts.

Below you’ll see some life drawings from July as well as a study of the human eye. I’m learning more about anatomy and how to use light, shade and tonal values to create what I want you to see. It’s going to be fun to see how my slowly developing anatomy skills show up in my life drawings. I have no specific expectations, only a curious openness to what appears on the page.

Then I found my most favourite artist, Aaron Blaise, and joined up to be a member of his art classes because… well… I love his work and I am grateful such a great teacher is out there sharing his art and animation knowledge for creative hungry creatives like me.

I signed up to do his Hidden Creatures of the Forest class and this is my first digital panting. I followed along and created my own version of this fern creature. I admit I love him. And I am so looking forward to doing more of these kinds of creatures. They wildly imaginative and fun to do. Although I have discovered that digital art takes me three times longer to do than traditional art does. Maybe I am putting more time and attention into every detail now…?

The above fern creature is set against a photo that I took while in England in 2018. It was fabulous to use some of my photos from my big UK trip in my art. I hope you like him as much as I do. But I am biased. I love him!

Anyway, lots to do. More art, more writing, more meditation and stuff. So I’ll sign off now. Whatever you’re doing I hope it’s creative and filling your inner bucket up with joy and happiness. In these strange times I think it’s important to come home to yourself and let your creativity out into the world.

Happy Creating!

Developing Digital Portraits

Since May I have been diving deep into learning how to use Procreate and developing new digital portraits. It’s a whole lot of fun but also a lot of work as I have had to train my brain to think of drawing in layers that sit one on top of the other.

Below is a small cartoon-y self-portrait of my inner child. It shows that I don’t have to be all grown up about drawing and creating. It’s a practice that invites the inner child to come out and be playful, to make suggestions and to experiment. I feel so much joy when this happens, and I hope this happens for you too.

In the past month I have spent hours enjoying the process of drawing Sktchy muses with my Procreate application and I’m delighted with how my creativity has been growing. It has also given my brain a much needed break from my story, however, I am also excited to say that I have hit another milestone and completed the most recent edit of my novel. Of course, there’s still more editing to be done and in a way, writing a story is much the same as developing artwork with layering techniques.

I am continuing to make progress on my portrait practice challenge and have completed a number of digital portraits as that’s what is interesting and creatively nourishing for me at this point in my life.

Below are some of the digital portraits I’ve created. Some of these images are taken one or two steps before completion. I am so happy with them.

I’m finding that I am thoroughly enjoying drawing portraits that are semi-realistic but have a cartoon quality to them. It’s freeing not to be so fussed with an exact likeness. And a lot less stressful.

I’ll leave you with a short time lapse compilation of some of my digital portraits (if you’re interested in watching:))

Portrait Practice Challenge 2020 – Digital Portraits

Until next time, I hope your day is filled with child-like wonder and you are enjoying creative living whatever that is to you.

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