Memory match and making memories

I’ve been a long term fan of My Little Set so when Jasmine asked if I would like to collaborate on a memory match set, I jumped at the chance! I’m so excited to share our launch range with you, which includes two sets – Plant Pals and Space Friends.

The sets started with me drawing the plants and space characters on my iPad. Then each of my illustrations were hand transferred (not stamped!) by Jasmine onto timber discs to make the memory match set. And they come packaged in the cutest cotton drawstring bag.

We played memory match with both sets on the weekend and Harry loved it, though he did like to cheat and turn over more than two discs! There was some friendly competition and Harry declared himself the winner. After we finished playing, Harry loaded the discs onto his toy truck to pack up.

“It really was a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and brought back childhood memories of playing board games.”

The afternoon playing memory match reminded me how important it is to create memories with Harry. It’s these everyday, in between moments at home that are so special, but can be easily overlooked. So we are planning to have regular family board game nights/afternoons, and hopefully I’ll be the winner next time!

What was the last board game you played?  I would love to hear!

Do you journal with your kids?

A few weeks ago, I started journaling with Harry, where each night before bed we snuggle under the covers and I ask him about his day, what emotions he felt and what the weather was like. As a mama who experienced post-natal depression, it’s important for me to share with Harry ways to cultivate a positive mindset, understand his feelings and find gratitude in everyday moments. So, when I went looking for a journal and couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for, I decided to make it!

Journal time has now become a special moment in our daily routine, where we can wind down and check in with each other. Each day the journal includes the prompt ‘I felt’ and Harry can circle his emotion that day or draw his own. One night he circled angry, so I asked ‘what made you feel angry today?’ Harry responded with ‘an imaginary duck, ate one of my imaginary chicks.’

I continued to ask Harry why this made him angry and it was such a funny conversation that unearthed a small moment in his day that I might never have heard about if not for journaling with him. My hope through our journal time is to create a safe and comforting space for Harry to share his day, whether it be excitement and happiness or wobbly moments of sadness or feeling lonely.

“And after a long day of five-year-old tantrums and picky eating, when Harry asks’ Mama, is it journal time?’ my heart fills with joy. His journal is a safe port to come home to in calm or stormy seas and it’s a privilege as his mother to be guiding him on his journey.”

I’ve had inquiries from people wanting to use this journal with their kiddos, so I’ve made the Happiful Journal, a print-at-home gratitude journal! Through using the journal with Harry I’ve tested and changed things. I’ve made each journal page a consistent layout but unique with different emotions, questions and illustrations.

My 98 page ebook Happiful Journal is now in shop and is available in colour and monochrome. 10% of the sale is donated to Kids Helpline.

What are your small joys?

When I’m feeling out of sorts I write down or draw my small joys, the little everyday things that bring me happiness.  I often add to my list and read through it when I need a pick me up. They remind me of all the wonderful things that fill me with joy. 

After sharing my small joys illustration on Instagram people commented and theirs included “eating popcorn”, “a hug from my boys”, “listening to a podcast”, “the first cup of coffee in the morning” and “a warm bath”. How beautiful are these!

A few of mine are:

  • crunchy Autumn leaves
  • my grandma’s umbrella, it reminds of spending the day with her as a child and walking in the rain with her holding the umbrella so I didn’t get wet
  • putting on a cosy jumper in winter
  • reading your favourite childhood book with Harry snuggled on my lap
  • homemade biscuits
  • a letter from a friend in the post
  • a fresh page in a journal or sketchbook to be filled with ideas and drawings
  • Harry’s laugh
  • rain on the roof when I’m snuggled up in bed
  • a bath that is just a bit too hot
  • a pot of peppermint tea
  • fresh sheets on my bed

What are yours? I would love to hear! Also going eating fresh strawberries in summer!

Three tips for making time to fill your cup

Making time to fill your cup. I’m sharing a few ways I’ve prioritised my creativity by making drawing a daily habit.

Allocating a set time each day and making it a habit

For me, drawing fills my cup and makes me feel like me. This year I’ve allocated 20 minutes a day to just draw for fun. This drawing time it isn’t for a commission or to make a product for my shop, it’s just for me.

Making drawing part of my daily routine has freed me up creatively, taken the pressure off and loosened my grip on perfectionism. However, where the real magic has happened is that by giving myself this allocated space I’ve leaned into my thoughts and feeling, and been able to draw new illustrations.

“I honestly don’t think this creativity would have surfaced if I didn’t show up every day, pencil in hand and just draw what was on my mind. “

Some days I can fit in 20 minutes while other days its 2 hours. Some days I don’t feel like it and think everything I draw is terrible, but it’s funny the next day when I look at these sketches I find a thread of an idea that inspires me.

How did I find the time?

I made the conscious decision to allocate time in the evening after Harry is in bed to draw. I traded scrolling through Instagram, watching TV, folding laundry, reading or working on my shop for drawing. I started small with 20 minutes, but it has grown. I actually now find that if I’ve got caught up doing other things in the evening, that I crave my time to draw.

What I’ve realised is that when I’m drawing I’m totally present and not thinking about anything else and that its my downtime. Drawing fills my cup and gives me so much joy that I don’t feel like I’m missing out by not binge watching the latest TV show or missing out on that Instagram post. Though side not, I still make time for a bit of Netflix each week, hello Queer Eye!

How to find your creativity

What I would like to say is this. Make your creativity a priority in your self-care tool box. While drawing is how I like to create,  yours could be cooking, writing, photography, knitting or even dancing. And if you’re not sure what sparks your creativity think about what you liked to do as a child. It was asking myself this question three years ago that opened the door to me drawing again.

Follow me on Instagram and stories to see behind the scenes and inside my sketchbook. And if you sign up to my newsletter I’ll send you my ‘finding your creativity’ worksheet.

Free Printable Calendar and Weekly Planner

One of my goals for 2019 is to be organised and to find joy in the everyday. So I set myself the goal of creating a monthly calendar and weekly planner, which are available as free printables here for you to print at home. Each month includes an illustration, for February its my ‘Fresh Starts’ drawing and I release the new calendar in my monthly newsletter and on Instagram.

“I include fun weekly prompts to find the small joys in everyday like sitting outside at lunchtime, or adventures like visiting your local Farmers Market.”

I also created a free weekly planner as I just couldn’t find one I liked. I’ve divided each day into morning, afternoon and evening I wanted this structure is to help me with time blocking my tasks. Additionally, each week there is space to write things you want to let go of, would like to try, explore or nurture  and to do’s. You can include priorities like letting go of mum guilt and self doubt, to trying a new pasta dish, exploring an art gallery and nurturing your love of drawing by carving out 5 minutes a day to draw.

These free printables are available in formatted to A4 and US Legal sized paper here. I love using my calendar and weekly planner and I hope you do to! So head across to grab yours and remember to tag me on social in photos you take, I would love to them in homes!

To receive updates on next months free printable calendar and new resources I create, sign up to my monthly newsletter.

Drawing is my therapy

Drawing is my therapy. I find when I put pencil to paper (or Apple Pen to iPad) my mind quiets and I can focus just on the blank page in front of me. There is a feeling of calm that washes over me as my ideas, thoughts, feelings and emotions are turned into illustrations and words.

Over the past month I’ve felt a strong pull to draw and get my ideas and thoughts ‘out of my head’ and onto the page. It’s hard to describe in words, but once they are on the page I can look objectively at the feelings and gain new insights. I thought I would share a few of my recent illustrations from my sketchbook and the story behind them.

The idea for this illustration began with my feelings around being my own cheerleader and not searching for external validation on social media for my art. I thought to help me visualise my cheerleaders and make them more real in my mind I would draw them. I’m actually going to print my cheerleader illustration out to have in my office as a daily reminder that I can cheer myself on!

My heart
An illustration about how my heart is feeling over the past few weeks. My son is starting school for the first time and this time of transition has brought out mixed feelings and emotions for me. So I drew what I was experiencing, that way I could look at my feelings as an observer rather than being swept away by them. I found after drawing my feelings a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders.

“My son is starting school for the first time and this time of transition has brought out mixed feelings and emotions for me. So I drew what I was experiencing, that way I could look at the feelings as an observer rather than being swept away by them.

Measure of Success
I found my mind was thinking a lot about what success is and how its measured by society versus my own views of success. So I drew how I currently measure my success in life in this little illustration. While this illustration is still in sketch stage, I’m looking forward to playing around with colours.

Fresh Starts
The start of a new year is a time when I often feel pressured to set big goals and if I don’t have it all done by mid-January I’ve failed. So I decided to lean into this feeling and then turn it on its head, by getting back to what the new year actually is – a fresh start. So I drew different fresh starts that can happen throughout the year, and how these slow moments like the change in seasons or a cup of tea can give you a new beginning. I wanted to communicate to myself and others that it’s okay to start 2019 slowly and really get comfortable in the new year, rather than rushing.

Follow me on Instagram for more illustrations and behind the scenes photos.

How I create – it’s messy and imperfect

How I create is messy and imperfect. I feel a bit insecure about sharing behind the scenes photos of my pencil illustrations as the perfectionist in me thinks they don’t look ‘finished’. I then fall in to the comparison trap of looking at other illustrators work and thinking mine isn’t good enough. I’m learning to lean into this feeling of vulnerability, self doubt and fear and instead of keeping all my drawings hidden away in my sketchbook or in my iPad (I’ve started using an Apple Pen!) I’m starting to share my raw and imperfect drawings.

I’m sharing today some examples. First is an illustration using pencil and paper of a little girl who actually turned out to be a self portrait of me as a child, I wanted to capture that wild and carefree nature of childhood. The second illustration is a little blue bird who I doodled using my Apple Pen and Adobe Draw over an image I took of me in the garden. And the third illustration is of a sweet unicorn who I drew on the iPad, I then digitally colour her on my iMac.

“My iPad is filled with first, second and even third try’s at a drawing and my sketchbook has erased illustrations, crosses and abandoned ideas.”

I create my drawings in the ‘cracks of the day’ as I like to call them. In between cooking dinner, when Harry is playing, while watching TV or late at night. My artist studio is often my kitchen table, outside on the grass, in bed, the couch or at my desk. And my tools – up until recently when I purchased an iPad Pro and Apple Pen – are a less than $5 2B or 3B pencil, a moleskin or notebook from Officeworks and an eraser.

I feel if I share how I create and share my process more openly and with less perfectionism, it might demystify the idea that only certain people are creative. Or that you need to have all the tools, ideas and perfect space to be creative. When I was at high school I was told by a teacher I wasn’t ‘good enough’ to draw, so I stopped going to art class that year. That story followed me until three years ago when I picked up a pencil and paper again. I just doodled and dabbled, I exercised my drawing muscle to learn what worked and what didn’t.

I’ll continue to push through my perfectionism and share little glimpses and stories about how I create. It will be messy, imperfect and filled with eraser marks and smudges.

Follow me on Instagram for more behind-the-scenes.

Studio Scenes: May

A little look at what’s been happening in the studio in May. Every card and print is hand drawn and hand made from start to finish. So this month I’m giving you a look over my shoulder and inside my sketch book at how my illustrations start.

“Often I sketch an idea in my journal or sketch book and then come back to it a day or a week later to flesh out the illustration.”

The illustrations above are from a personal series I am working on. The ‘a grieving heart’ is now available as a card in the shop, and ‘an open heart’ will be available soon as a print and card.

Follow me on Instagram for more behind-the-scenes.

Our day out apple picking

A couple of weekends ago I went apple picking in Lenswood at Harrisville Orchards. I love finding everyday adventures that allow us to explore our local area, and are fun and affordable. After arriving at the orchard and collecting our bag, we set off to pick the juiciest Pink Lady apples.

With Harry holding my hand, we wandered through the trees and took our time looking for the perfect apples. I like finding the reddest apples and Harry favoured the small ‘baby apples’ as he called them. At one point Harry even sat down in between the trees and munched on an apple, with the skin on which he has never done before.

“It was a wonderful morning in the orchard and showed Harry and us grown-ups where the produce we buy from the farmer’s market comes from, and how important it is to eat seasonally.”

An interesting fact I learnt was some of the little apples had bumps on them, these weren’t a disease but from a hail storm in October that left small scars on the young fruit which healed into bumps as they grew. The apples were called ‘hail heroes’ and this made me think how we all have bumps and scars from life but are still whole and worth picking.

So why not plan a weekend adventure fruit picking in your local area, like straweberry picking in summer or apple picking in autumn.

My first illustrations

Two years ago I picked up a pencil and paper and drew my first illustrations. I really felt like I had something to share with the world, so I started an Instagram account as a creative outlet. I was a little embarrassed in the beginning to be honest as I hadn’t studied art, I was self-taught and thought I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t even tell my family and friends. I was worried about what people would think so this anonymity was appealing; it was like I had a secret superpower.

I was being brave, curious and adventurous. Like when I was a child climbing a new tree in the garden and unsure whether I could reach that next branch.

Eventually I shared my account with family and then friends. Then people who I didn’t know followed my account. They cheered me on and along the way my illustrations and confidence grew. I challenged myself by drawing new characters, which often led to frustration or the exhilarating triumph of ‘I did it’!

“Even in these moments of triumph I would hear my own voice saying to me ‘you’ll never be as good as (insert better illustrator here)’ or ‘you can’t draw’. This is my kryptonite. My own self talk.”

Now when I hear my inner critic, I think of that adventurous little girl reaching for that next tree branch. While she might have worried about falling, she tried anyway.

By no means have I stopped the self doubt. I still don’t feel comfortable calling myself an illustrator because I don’t think I have earned the title through study or years of practice. What I have learned is to be my own cheerleader and give myself pep talks, like saying ‘you’re doing so much better than you think’.

I encourage you to find your brave, curious and adventurous inner child, reconnecting with them could help you find your passion.

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