I drew a bunch of felt tip drawings to cheer myself up and just to scribble and draw surly/cute/weird stick figures. Some of these are really messy and basic, made without much thought, but I also played around with stick figure forms and ended up with the characters above. They have a kind and innocent look about them, which kinda reminds me of greetings cards. This green picture also looks quite like a Christmas card, I think. I wanted to convey warmth in these stick figures, like they're two people who are very close and wrap each other in blankets. I guess that naturally gave them a wintery vibe when I added a scarf and pine trees.
I always seem to draw a lot of trees and houses with felt pens, so I suppose that says something about me (that I want a house surrounded by trees).
A while ago (four months ago, to be exact) I made a post listing a bunch of goals for the year ahead, and one of those goals was to ditch anxiety. Since then I've had one and a half job interviews (well, one interview, and one thing that was similar) and they were actually okay.
For me, anxiety manifests in its most extreme way when I try to do work-related things. Sometimes I get easily overwhelmed thinking things like "my CV is awful", "they're not going to like me", or the classic "I'm a horrible idiot who can't do anything". I think part of why I can panic easily is that I want to work so much. It's so important to me that I can't think about it rationally before mentally telling myself off for not having everything sorted already. Whilst I still sometimes find myself thinking this way before I can stop myself, I've definitely gotten a lot better, and having the one and a half interviews has really helped a lot.
I know that the more I familiarise myself with the processes that scare me, the more confident I will be with them, but I still need to be kind to myself and use as many tactics as possible to reassure myself and take care of myself. I'm going to list a few different things that I find helpful..
Touch & Personal Objects
Anxiety can have physical effects, of course. In particularly unpleasant moments, I've had my hands start to shake uncontrollably. The worst thing about those kinds of physical responses, other than that you can't stop them, is that they show anyone nearby how nervous you are. Once you start shaking or sweating, that's it, you've reached peak vulnerable. Just as anxiety has physical effects, though, it can also be soothed by touch. One of my favourite comforts, not just for nervousness but also for when I'm feeling sick or sad, is a small cuddly toy or maybe a cozy scarf. The feel of something soft is nice and calming, but I find it extra calming to pretend I have a little friend cheering me on wherever I go (especially if that little friend is something I can squeeze and cuddle).
Lots of other personal objects can help, like little gifts from friends or jewellery that you can fiddle with. I find necklaces the best for this. I've illustrated this post with some items that help me to feel comforted, including my card wallet where I always keep a photo of Elliot and a little note reminding me not to worry.
This is obviously similar to making yourself feel better by touching soft things or squeezing cuddly toys, but using warmth is sort of deeper - an all over body comfort. A good coat or cardigan can make you feel so much stronger and more confident, but if you're inside you can bundle yourself up and have a hot drink. There's not much that makes me feel more cared for than being all toasty. When I don't want to drink more tea I often go for a mug of hot water instead (fun fact: Tommy Wiseau has a penchant for hot water).
Doing the things that make you anxious is really hard. Sometimes, no matter how much you try to psych yourself up and ignore your anxious thoughts, you can't do it. That's okay, but when you try, you should reward yourself. Get into the habit of getting something nice every time you face your anxiety and you can slowly condition yourself to be less anxious about it. In any case, you deserve a reward. My reward would most likely be something like drawing myself a cute picture, or having a really delicious meal.
Ultimately, all of these things are about being nice to yourself. The best advice for tackling anxiety really is to treat yourself with kindness and understanding. If you provide enough comfort and reassurance to yourself in anxious situations then eventually the situations themselves can start to feel comfortable! Try to be good to yourself.
While I was scanning my face for this Monday's "scanner adventures" post, I started drawing on top of screenshots with Snipping Tool. I'm not sure what gave me the idea, but it ended up being really fun, and I'm thinking of keeping some kind of digital sketchbook of stuff like this.
Protect badness is a kind of philosophy for encouraging and enabling art or creation of any kind that is not about technical skill. Those words came up because I just wanted to write some words, any words, on my screenshots, but I think they capture the spirit of this stuff pretty well. I think it's important to protect and respect your own personal "badness". First of all I don't think it's really "bad" because that's a value judgement, but I suppose I'm using the word "badness" to directly oppose the rejection of art regardless of the value judgement of it. Ultimately whether it is bad or not is irrelevant, because it's mine, it's for my enjoyment (of both the process and the outcome). So, embracing and protecting it in all its possible badness is my goal.
I feel like digital drawing is a great medium for this philosophy because I'm using my laptop's trackpad to draw with, which means I'm forced to draw in a technically poorer way than I am potentially able to. It's always a bit odd (especially when trying to write this way), but there's a certain ease and joy that I find comes with that limitation. It makes me feel happy to be not as technically good as I could have been, and also to just scribble on top of things. People are very busy trying to make their art look good, but a lot of the time I'm much more focused on how it actually feels to make it.
Last weekend Elliot and I went to feed some ducks (and other birds) at a local park. Visiting and feeding birds is so uplifting. I am absolutely not one of those people who hates pigeons. Pigeons are always welcome to be near me. I love you, pigeons.
There are lots of other nice things about going to a park to feed birds, like the sound of running water, people walking their dogs, and children getting excited about all the pigeons. Going for a walk itself can be so calming. I guess it's because there's so many things around you. Sometimes I feel like a little kid seeing and hearing everything and tasting the cool air.
I wore my pink Moomin jumper from Primark's sleepwear section, and a simple black skater skirt over the top. Lately I'm really into this type of skirt again because I can tuck bulky tops and jumpers into them, which is really useful now it's all cold weather. Oversized tops are everything to me, but I like to be able to tuck them in neatly. I'm also enjoying wearing plaits (always the standard three strand) as my hair starts getting long again. My fringe is at the point now where I have to hold it back with a bobby pin or it really gets in the way and makes me sneeze. I'm looking forward to my hair surpassing its previous length (from before I cut it in March), but that won't be for a long time, so I'm making sure I'm appreciating it for how it is right now!
1. Molly Soda
Molly Soda's work can be described as one big, exaggerated, kitschy internet diary, I guess. She uses webcam pictures and videos, glitter graphics, various digital artefacts, and her own vulnerable thoughts and feelings, and kinda smooshes all of this together across the internet in an intensely personal way. Her work is firmly situated amongst a wealth of cultural imagery from the 90s and 00s - the tentatively computerised childhoods and adolescences of people our age, There's something about that cultural element that I like a lot and relate to.
2. Lauren Poor
Lauren Poor's work is so busy and colourful, it's kinda like sifting through an attic of childhood memories. There's such intricacy and bright personality to everything. Lauren Poor seems to be collecting. A great big collector who collects everything, somehow. Collecting every single possible colour, maybe. I like that.
3. Le Cam Romain
Looking at LE CAM ROMAIN stuff is like looking at the whole world at once. This is a very concise world of photographic diary. Everything is pristine and beautiful. Every picture feels as big as a country. This is the vastness of a single moment expressed perfectly.
4. Ayesha Tan Jones
Like Le Cam Romain, Ayesha Tan Jones has a photographic diary, but hers is less polished and fairy-like. She has a fascinating focus on her everyday world. I find it so compelling, and I could scroll through her photos for hours. I think some of the appeal is that I know these are things that I might see, maybe, on a normal day in my life, or that I could make them happen, but they are still so cool and expressive and rich. There's a whole life in every picture, and that could be my life too.
5. Mogu Takahashi
Mogu Takahashi is such a big influence because when I look at her work I feel totally free and happy. She doesn't seem to make her art by any rules, she just makes shapes and has fun. She keeps ongoing sketchbooks and periodically makes videos of herself flipping through them. There's a great sense of carefree enjoyment of her time, which is pretty much the main thing that I want in my life.
6. Kendra Yee
Kendra Yee draws strangely shaped people and sprawling patterns. There's a great fantasy/dreamland feel to a lot of her work, and I get the sense that she uses drawings as a way of figuring herself out, reassuring herself, and celebrating new discoveries. I chose the picture above specifically because it's a wonderfully positive diary entry. I know I've written a lot of similar things in my diaries because I purposefully try to use them as a way of recording my progress and praising myself for it. It's one way to use diaries as a type of therapeutic self-support system.
Sometimes sunlight shines through my window in the most beautiful and relaxing way and it just makes the day so pleasant. It's weird how light can affect your mood. Sometimes darkness makes me happy because there's a gentleness to the darkness too, but sunlight definitely has a mesmerising, calming quality. It lends a vibrancy to everything, which is why it's great to paint when the sun is shining. All the colours seem brighter and everything seems sort of big and hazy. Like nothing really matters, but it's okay. I mean, that's probably a pretty good philosophy in general.
Nothing really matters, but it's okay.
I think I want to talk more on this blog about stuff like that, transient feelings and how much you can be manipulated by light, or just small things that happen in a day. Like when you burn your toast and you're grumpy for the rest of the day. I want to talk about those things more. I've had a certain structure here, but I think I want to change that. I want to pour myself out into these posts and be more lucid, have it be more of a big diary. I want to be more honest and detailed and stuff.
Anyway, so... these pictures were taken some time last week. I can't remember which day, but it was sunny, and beautiful, and pleasant, and I painted. It was a perfect day. A perfect day to be alone and wearing a huge cardigan, and a perfect day just to breathe slowly, and paint slowly.
This week has been possibly more art-focused than usual. This is probably because I handed in an essay draft and watched the film Basquiat. If you're keen on seeing David Bowie give a wonderfully comical performance as Andy Warhol, give it a go. Other than art, I've been preoccupied mostly with omelettes and ducks, but also One Direction and loo roll. Ain't life grand?