More space, less filling up, breathe slowly, take your time, explore the senses, enjoy the moment. Create more space within your mind knowing that it will calm you, support you, love you. Take care of the rainforest that is your body, take care of the garden that is your mind, shower yourself in your own love and bathe in the light of the sun and moon. Clean up those judgements, those criticisms and negative thought patterns. Practice mindfulness and notice what’s happening in the subconscious. Remove yourself from people that weigh down your heart, or do not contribute to your brightness. Wish them health and happiness and send them on their way. Slow down, tune inwards, become aware of your now, the stillness around you and the slowing but ever moving of your body. Surrender, flow, accept and repeat. Surrender to where you are going and what you are experiencing. Remove the responsibility you place on yourself to make everyone happy and content, and know that every other is on their own journey. Flow with the river that is life and accept the trials, troubles and situations you cannot change. Meditate daily, hourly even, as often as you can: 10 deep, slow breaths and become mindfully aware of this moment. Take care, tread gently, softly stroke and wonder. Nature is a spiritual being that is needed throughout all walks of life. Admire and notice, appreciating the complexity of the world and learn from the many lessons it has to offer. Breathe, smell, immerse yourself in its cleansing air. Gather, collect, draw, create, hold and look after.
I recently went to Amsterdam and I loved it. I was only there a weekend but it was beautifully relaxed and laid back - the kind of place I needed to recover in after spending 4 months in hectic London. We didn’t check out all the major locations that most tourists do for two reasons; 1. some locations meant parting with a large wad of cash that wasn’t recommended for my current budget, and 2. we only had one day to fit it all in. So we did exactly what we wanted to do and no more. For me, wandering around streets, checking into cafes and shops for a look, admiring the local scenery and chatting to locals is what I feel makes a trip all worthwhile and enjoyable. We hired bikes (as most people do) and explored more than what we could have on foot. I loved Amsterdam’s chill vibe and the weather couldn’t have been better. My favourite place was definitely the botanic gardens but my favourite thing to do was walking along the canals and investigating the Dutch book shops.
Surprise! I’m in London and if you haven’t been keeping up with my Instagram feed then there’ll be more than this piece of information that will surprise you. I made the move to London about 3 months ago with the idea of pursuing a temporary change in location. I’m originally from the North of England in a pretty little place called Ulverston in the county of Cumbria. Picture cottages, cobbled streets, woodlands around every corner and green hills as far as the eye can see and you’ll soon realise why I draw and paint what I do. So why London? A change is always a refreshing opportunity for new ideas and new experiences and where else than a thriving major city.
Going out at night during the countdown to Christmas has resulted in bumping into magnificent light displays of varying size, style and character. The busy stretches of major shops and restaurants with high foot traffic have adorned themselves with impressively shaped decorations and sparkly lights. Inspired by the displays I created a map illustration to highlight some of the best Christmas light arrangements in town.
Over the weekend of April 21stI held my very own, very first illustration workshop for adults. I will admit I was a tad nervous and often feel this way when I have a list of To Do’s the size of Niagara Falls and preparing myself mentally to ‘perform’ (of a sorts) in front of an ‘audience’ and guide them through the session. I’m not a very confident public speaker in any scenario and despite being a teacher by day, it took me years to finally feel comfortable and confident in front of a group of children. But all in all I was very proud of the workshop that unfolded and it was lovely to welcome such beautiful people into the space. The session involved some warm ups in order to get our rigid thinking away from the forefront of our minds and get our creativity a little looser. With materials including graphite pencil, watercolour paints, colour pencil, marker pens and collage, together we explored subjects of plants, flowers and curious items from the natural world to represent our creativity onto paper. I have to say I was blown away by the imagination, creativity and vibrancy of everyone’s ideas and loved the work they came up with. We ended with collage and mixed media, which I always feel is the most fun and has the most room for creative ideas.
Lastly I absolutely LOVED the atmosphere that Mache provided within its comfortable workspace and I will definitely be hosting another workshop there soon. Large solid trestle tables, warm lighting, attractive interior colours, beautiful indoor plants and the convenience of the portable water heater so we could all sip on copious amounts of tea while we dabbled in our creative endeavours. I recommend checking out their other workshops that are hosted by creatives alike as well as the weekly yoga classes held by Izzy from Fresh Sprouts.
Thank you to all that came, a special mention to my friend Lorraine from @Thesewcialite who helped me set up and pack away, such a dear!
Stay tuned for another workshop in the winter school holidays! xx
I want everyone out there to remember that end results are a product of hard work and persistence. I’m talking about all of those times you saw a piece of art that blew you away whether it was due to its beauty, vibrant colour, aesthetic appeal, detail or talent. Remember that this is a snapshot of the best version it became. Just like all those chiseled bodies and perfect hair shots you see all over Instagram, they too were snapshots of the best version they were in that moment. That means before and even after that picture was taken, there were moments of imperfection, of work taking its toll, of persistence, of even ugliness. When I look at photos of my artwork and I’m happy with the end result and take pride in sharing it with others, I do this with the satisfaction of having made the same illustration over and over again in different ways, not having looked right the first time. My final drawing/illustration/painting has taken perhaps an hour, a day, a month or even years (yes that’s right, even years), to get to what it looks like right now. It takes years of practice, persistence and passion to end up with the results one might currently produce. So for those that say to me “I couldn’t do that” or “I’m a terrible drawer”, I remind them that this end product they are currently looking at is not something I have been able to conjure out of thin air and without any prior practice. Just like learning to sew, sculpt, beat box, speak publicly, or write an essay, it all takes time, effort, persistence, mistakes, failures and practice. It’s important to remember this particularly in those moments of frustration having spent several hours trying to draw a leaf on a plant or a facial expression, or in fact, do anything that requires a bit of time and patience. Please enjoy a couple of my ugly mistakes and efforts that show that we are all human and the idea of “perfect art” takes a whole lotta time.
P.s. Note the rather hilarious little notes on the drawings by me when I was consumed with frustration.
I teach a weekly art class at a Children’s Center in Adelaide, South Australia. The opportunity to engage youngsters in messy, creative, colourful art not only teaches them to expand their ideas beyond their current capabilities, but it also inspires in me sparks of creative ideas and energy. Sometimes it can be a little trial and error but it enables moments of exploration and challenge. Both the children and I get a great kick out of it and we always make sure we work together to clean up afterwards. It’s an important part of being a community. Engagement in art increases children’s creativity, imagination, playfulness, risk taking, and visualization, all of which are important for thinking skills involved in English and any of the STEM subjects. It motivates them to try new ideas, express their feelings and see how other people express their thoughts and ideas. It strengthens their fine motor abilities, coordination and manipulation abilities. Such wonderful things can be learned from art.
Most importantly it teaches children that they are an individual with powerful ideas that are worth sharing. I love seeing what they all come up with from a given task. Every single one of them produces a completely different idea. I find that simply magic. If you are a parent who often watches art from the sidelines not wanting to get messy or thinking that you “just aren’t very creative”, I encourage you to get in their with your child. In fact, that’s the best place to start. Sit with your child, get the pastels, the paints, the charcoal or simply just the pencils out, and see what your child will inspire you to do. Let loose and have fun!
Lately I've been exploring other subjects for drawing and painting, one of which has been little portraits of women. I've been thoroughly enjoying painting these small subjects and capturing the diversity within the portraits. I feel passionate about illustrating women of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, cultures, etc to counteract in some way the bombardment of images of "skinny" and "perfect" white or tanned women that we are exposed to across the media. Not all women wear make up. Not all women are thin, pretty or fit the "ideal". We should celebrate this and include more diversity in whatever form of media whether magazines, commercails or TV programs. Capturing diversity within my paintings has also strengthened my skills and challenges me to not get too comfortable with one skin tone or facial structure. It's very easy to repeatedly draw and paint a similar kind of woman or character, finding familiarity in the same lines and shapes, colours and tones. So if you draw and paint, I challenge you to explore diversity of culture and draw something you wouldn't normally draw. Perhaps this is painting women from a culture very different to your own, perhaps this is drawing plants instead of buildings, painting very big instead of quite small. Challenge yourself and you will be inspired by the outcome. Happy Friday everyone.
This April I am hosting my very own first illustration workshop. Excited to share my passion and inspire ideas in others, the focus will be around botanicals and watercolour. No skills necessary as this is a creative workshop for playful exploration within drawing and painting. If you are interested in participating or would like to find out more, visit my events page on https://www.facebook.com/events/174197133216132/
I took part in this year’s RAW art event in which creative individuals are given an opportunity to display and sell their work. At my stall I had all my prints, cards and a folder displaying commissioned work, sketches, research and other unsold pieces. The event took place in April of this year and was a vibrant taste of bigger events to come.
More photos of the event are up on my Facebook page @Facebook.com/Chloeduffinillustration
A group of wonderful ladies and I have been included in a calendar for 2017 showcasing some truly beautiful artworks! The calendar is for sale at www.ladyartistsofadelaidecalendar.com and the calendar came about through graphic designer Caroline Gliddon's passion for promoting local female artists.
An exhibition will also be held at the new Peanut Gallery in Adelaide Arcade at the end of November in which the artists work will be displayed. This will be my second official exhibition, my first having been several years ago now, and I'm super excited! I'm thrilled to be part of this collaboration and I look forward to purchasing my own calendar and hanging it proudly on my wall as a piece of artwork itself!
Did you know that our own levels of happiness result from 50% genetics, 10% circumstance and situations, and 40% results from our intentions and effort? Long-term happiness is due to our own personal effort and striving to live a meaningful existence. There’s also what’s called being in a state of ‘flow’ which is where, like mindfulness, you are completely engaged and consumed by what you are doing, with little or no awareness of time, and feel a strong sense of creative drive and focus to complete a task. The level of one’s positive emotions increases from engaging in something that creates this depth of flow. It must challenge us in some way to encourage us to grow, develop and improve.
I’ve created art in one way or another for as long as I can remember. I grew up with a rather creative family and there wasn’t one of us that couldn’t be found making something. I was a storybook maker and writer, a builder or constructor, an artist and a musician as I was growing up. All children start off with an innate creativity that brightens their smiles and engages their souls. It’s as we grow older that we slowly step away from our creativity due to discouraging words, negative feedback, interests of other kinds or simply laziness. As an adult, today my passion lies with painting and drawing and there isn’t a day of the week where I won’t be drawing something.
I can easily describe myself as a positive individual with an optimistic view of the world and enthusiasm for life. This has been partly influenced by my family and through life experiences, but also due to my own motivation for developing a positive attitude and enjoying what life has to offer. There are many things that contribute to my happiness and wellbeing but I have never been happier than when I’ve been sat down with my sketchbook and drawing materials. Believe it or not I actually immensely enjoyed high school because I was given time to pursue my passions through my lessons and assignments, in particular of course, Visual Art.
I’ve read that drawing is a way of being mindful; a meditative practice. Drawing or painting of any kind is something that I find captures my immediate and whole attention. Time is forgotten, the world around me disappears and I become so engrossed in making pencil marks or mixing watercolours to create something beautiful. My skill has developed over time and it has taken many years to get to where I am. My skills, personal style, and preference for subject matter are ever changing and the process of learning new skills and acquiring these is one of the things that make creating art so wonderful.
My subjects are primarily natural; plants or insects. I also like to draw and paint female faces as well as children and animals. I draw these subjects because I find them beautiful and there’s something about them, specifically plants that inspires me and fills me with awe. Drawing these things also creates a calmness within my practice and it’s less about the final product and more about the process. I find drawing details of leaves and seeds particularly meditative as they require so much concentration and pencil control, and once finished it produces such satisfying results that gives me a sort of euphoria. Such deep engagement in a creative process really does prove to me how art can be a form of mindfulness and results in relaxation, enhanced awareness and lower stresses and anxiety.
One problem with loving drawing so much is the constant sitting involved. Sitting at desks is not good for your spine and hips and with the back problems I have I certainly notice when I’ve been sitting for too long. When I need a break I go for a walk either at the National Park or the local beach. During these walks I have time to get out of my drawing headspace, take a refreshing look at things around me and appreciate what I have in my life. The fresh air, sights and smells enables my creativity to continue to flow without hesitation and replenishes me. When I’m out for my walks I often find little bits of nature that inspire me to create images and sometimes I take photos or place the natural items carefully into my bag to take home and sketch.
I work part time as an early childhood teacher and outside of these hours I spend nearly all my time painting or drawing. Drawing is my one true love and I am mesmerized how one single object such as a drawing pencil can create so many different marks and meanings to represent something. Working part time has enabled me to pursue my passion in creativity. Of course, money is tight but I couldn’t be more content with my weekly routines and it is very important for me to find time to remove my stressed out teacher headspace and replace it with calm and clarity from doing the things I love. Art is my saviour; if I come home stressed, I grab a cup of tea and sit down to my sketchbook. Or I grab my iPad to surf Pinterest and Instagram in search of mediums to draw and recreate into artworks. If I’m having a hard day or week, thinking momentarily of what ideas I have to get down on paper and thinking of times to sit down and create them calms me and helps me push through the difficulties knowing there will be time for recovery during my drawing.
Happiness comes from being involved in meaningful (I can’t stress that word enough!) experiences and finding the things you love and doing them. Happiness is all about ‘doing’ and ‘being’, not ‘having’. For me, drawing is the main source of my happiness and I ensure time is prioritized for me to enjoy doing the things I love.
I bought two awesome books yesterday from a secondhand book store in Stirling; Buddhist Yoga, and Meditations from the Tantras. I’ve always been brought up to be quite spiritual through the influences of my family, I’m not religious but I hold dear to my heart the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism and have integrated mindfulness and meditation into my daily living for some time now.
After reading a little bit of each book and feeling elated by its positive and compassionate words, I went for a walk on the beach as the sun was setting and enjoyed the spring-like weather. I felt so blissful and at peace during my walk. I am practicing appreciating the current moment exactly as it is, which is helping to reduce or heal the frequent and persistent thoughts of looming work, chores, commitments and that my feel good moments are on a countdown. On mornings when I have work to go to later, I practice being in this peaceful moment before work and enjoying it. While at work, it’s easy to be in the moment because of the busyness it provides. But during those moments when I’m looking at the clock to see if its home time I’m reminding myself to be fully present and enjoy this moment exactly as it is. And if I can’t enjoy it, it’s all about accepting it. I feel an important thing to remember in life is that there are always going to be moments we dislike and other moments that we love and wish would last forever. The other important thing to this fact is that we must accept and breathe through the times of hardship or dislike (minor or major regardless, and easier said than done mind you), while during the joyful or peaceful times, appreciating it for all it has to offer without clinging to it and wanting it to never end. The ending of good things brings suffering when we become attached to it and the wanting of bad things to end brings suffering also.
I have recently experienced insistent pain in my neck and shoulders from a strenuous Vinyasa yoga session for the last two weeks. While this has been frustrating due to limiting my movements, it has been a meaningful time to practice my acceptance of what is, breathe through my feelings and appreciate my current health and wellbeing despite the pain. After Osteo appointments, gentle stretches and patience, my back is gradually getting better and my movements returning back to normal.
For now, I am appreciating this moment and loving the experience of life. I look forward to reading these books and sharing more from their pages on here later.
Peace and Love
This week's collection of lovely things is inspired by expressive, bold, vibrant colour, pattern and texture. I'm feeling the need for some creative outlet after a long hard week of work and I'm eager to try out doing some art like these beauties.
Happy Friday x
I get fluttering feelings of longing, inspiration and awe when I see photos of mountain ranges or deep woodlands. There’s something so intense about them that just captures my breath. I feel like I’ve been transported to that very place. I also get a huge pull in my body with the desire to go there immediately and explore. I posted last week a post on the benefits of nature and when looking at these images I can feel exactly what it is that one can get from spending time in nature as a means of therapy.
I thank these photographers for their endless stream of beauty: @_scottgordon_ @jasoncharleshill @Zckrf @helloemilie
Here’s something new! A new weekly blog post called Lovely Things sharing 4 inspirational images and accounts I find on instagram or pinterest or wherever else in the big wide world of the internet.
I will predominantly be sharing images around illustration and have a theme between all four images, but I will also do something different now and then, all of which though will be based around my interests. This could include mindfulness, nature, positivity, travel, yoga, etc.
First up I’ve chosen four images from four completely different illustrators who I find create some really amazing stuff. This first collection is called ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ and were all sourced from instagram accounts. Go check them out!
Such beautiful artworks…
I’m reading a book at the moment (one among the many I’ve started all at once) and it’s called The Nature Principle by Richard Louv. I love to read, but a non-fiction book that really keeps me reading is one that connects to me on a personal level and also inspires in me some meaningful thoughts. This book confirms through scientific experiments and studies the positive effects nature has on our wellbeing. Just reading the book fills me with images of great landscapes, mountain ranges, stunning lakes, greenery and trees and instills in me a sense of calm and ease. It also creates a deep urge in my being to go into those places right at that minute. I love to retreat to nature, even among the suburban landscapes I find solace in trees and near plants. I live in Adelaide which is fortunately quite green in its street and city planning but I feel like there’s never quite enough of the green stuff. In my mind a better society would have trees and plants everywhere! But this is just imaginings of mine that I fill spare time with. For now I like to go for walks, paint and draw images of plants and dream of living in a forest. So the next time you feel a little stressed, go find some nature to get lost in for a couple of hours.
I have always been a compassionate person; caring deeply for the feelings of others, being kind, believing in equality for all. And I have also always cared about animals.
I have been a vegetarian my whole life and my feelings towards animals has always been of a sympathetic or compassionate mindset. I am now a vegan due to my own investigations into everyday food production and my choice to cut off my support to these farming practices.
Following a career in teaching due to my love for children while also pursuing my passion in art and illustration, I’ve found reliable work pathways but I have always wanted to help those other, voiceless creatures that need help and care. There’s too little money in the business of looking after, protecting or living alongside animals either endangered, reared domestically, farmed or just simply living in the wild. While I’ve found my own career path my sister pursues a degree to help her get work in helping animals. Unfortunately though, the job results at the end reward with little recognition and financial stability.
So I want to at least try and do something to contribute to the people and organisations that do help those that are in great need of protection and help. While I do regularly donate to several animal charities, I’ve thought of something else I can do. I hope through my drawing abilities I can support these charities to get a little bit more recognition for the amazing work they do. I have started with one illustration of a bear for the Animals Asia Foundation who work to end the bear bile farming in places across Asia. I hope that if this little project of mine is successful I can create more illustrations for a number of other charities and together we can contribute in some way to ending the suffering of so many animals across the globe.
So for every Bear print sold on my Etsy store, $10 will be donated to Animals Asia to support their project on ending bear bile farming. This allows me to cover my own costs of materials, time and printing but ensures a generous part of the sale goes towards the reason I created it.
I hope you can help me support this great cause and hopefully eventually we will be able to see a reduction in the number of terrible things that are allowed t happen to animals all over the world.
My character design and illustrations for children's books is certainly developing but it's an ongoing process of experimentation. I've finally found a style I like and enjoy creating, after many trials of playing around with all sorts of different mediums.
The results are pleasing but it doesn't stop there. I'm experimenting with not only people and their characters but animals, landscape scenes, buildings, nature etc. to create a consistent style.
I'm currently working on a project that a family friend has asked me to do. He is writing and developing some children's leveled readers for primary school classrooms and has requested I do some illustrations. The project is fun but great and will take a while for the illustrations to be finished.
Life gets difficult and life can sometimes be a struggle. In order to cope with daily living, life events or difficulties I found my own way of managing my emotions and accepting the things that happen to me. It's become a bit of a trend of late in society and the book publishing industry but mindfulness is one technique that I've found, even if not practiced regularly (though this is where the true benefits are revealed), can help you achieve some peace in your life. Art for me is also something I can do that brings me some peace and serenity and this is something mindfulness teachers encourage everyone to try due to its meditative methods.
Through my art I try to express my understanding of mindfulness and what it means to be at peace or at least have a little bit of it. I've created a few pieces that express this and I use illustrations of nature alongside positive words to help people to be mindful and appreciate the beauty of life. We all get busy and stressed but it's important to remember the need to slow down and to also know how to do it. I hope my illustrations help people remember to do just that.
Some fantastic books on this kind of thing are from well known author and Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh. His Peace of Mind book is just beautiful.
Remember to be grateful of where you are in life and what you already have, be patient for what you want in your life and be present through it all, as there's not other moment in time but the now. These words have really helped me when dealing with difficult situations in life or disliking a circumstance I'm in. It helps to remember how lucky we are in the grand scheme of things.
Welcome to my very first website and blog conjoined into one so that I can showcase my work and express my current interests and motivations in life. On here I will be posting sketchbook pages, work in progress shots, posts on general life as an illustrator, thoughts and inspirations.
As I'm a part time teacher as well as a part time freelance illustrator, I've time over the summer holidays to reflect, relax, rejuvenate and feel refreshed. I've picked up some new skills through exploration with my art, I've started taking an online art course in the Foundations of Design, and I've had time to really get on top of putting together everything that forms an illustration business. I'm not quite there yet, but it's happening swiftly and efficiently. For now it's hard work and commitment and I'll get there before I know it!
Peace and Love