A Garden is a Grand Teacher – making of:

The final version of the May assignment for MATS Bootcamp using the suggested roses, a quote from Gertrud Jekyll and the given trend colours.

Journal/notebook mock up and partial design close-up.

Journal/notebook and more in this design available in my Society6 store here (lined and blank paper options)

The first design: line work scanned from inkpen on paper and edited in Photoshop

Before we were given a mood board with a suggested trend colour palette, our initial assignment was to play with and study roses in as much detail as possible (see previous post: In the Name of Roses).

For the mini assignment, the main working colour was still pink. That is why my first colour experiment was with pink.

First completed journal/notebook design.

But with the mood board, this changed drastically, as the colours were darker, bolder, and more adventurous. In the beginning, I hesitated to follow my first hunch to use the nearly black colour as background and opted first for the greyish-blue:

But the next day, upon looking at it again, I just felt that it was too flat for my taste and tried the nearly black background, which is the one I ended up posting to the online gallery, too.

But looking at all three colours, I find they all work well in their own way. I guess, colour choice can depend a lot on current colour trends and then on personal likes and dislikes.

The final design with no quote:

Notebook/journal design, no quote

I’ve noticed that colour trends can inspire me to try new colour combinations I might not have considered.

With clothes, I know the colours that suit me well. All the powdery colours make me look like an old chewing gum that was stuck under a table ages ago.

I like stronger, brighter colour on me like grass green and a juicy yellow. The non-colours black and white go well, too. Brown, depends. I’ll always run away from grey.

As far as blue is concerned, I’ve become overly saturated with it as blue has become too uniform and corporate for me. At one point, I suddenly noticed, I had mainly blue clothes and an occasional red, white or black something to combine it with. Kind of as if I’d been affiliated with Tommy Hilfiger, which I’m not. That is why I think the blue journal design just did not work for me.

Also, I do not wear flower prints. I do not decorate my place with flower prints, either. I hardly illustrate or paint flowers.

initial pencil sketch, scanned and edited in Photoshop

So, drawing roses turned out to be a challenge. I feel, for not being a very ‘flowery’ kind of person,  I’ve managed to find just the right amount of flowers I can handle in this design (I will put a flower in my hair if I find a nice one that fell off a tree, though. Flowers on a balcony and garden, lovely, too. A bunch of flowers for inside the home, also: fine).

wild rose sketched, scanned, photohopped

I think, if I were to design patterns with flowers, I’d go more abstract with the flower design with bolder shapes and colours and then soften it with line work as in the yogini’s hair. Then, I may even consider wearing a flower pattern.

This is what MATS Bootcamp is doing to me. I am suddenly thinking of design, patterns, textiles, fabrics and clothes. It’s been a while since I had these thoughts…

As for the next MATS Bootcamp assignment: next Monday we will get our June mini assignment. Can’t wait.


Until we meet next: have a lovely weekend!


 

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Home Spa

Sketch (7/60)

Last night, I did as I said I would and took my Epsom salt bath that made me sleep like a grizzly.

Bath Time: pigment liner, gouache, gold ink
Bath Time: pigment liner, gouache, gold ink

 


Home Spa (31-day writing challenge 6/31) (1112/500)

I truly love taking baths. And I’ve experimented with all sorts of baths. From bubble baths to milk baths to sodium bicarbonate baths to oil ‘baths’ to my all-time favourite bath: the Epsom salt bath.

So, let me share my bath evolution with you:

The bubble bath: not really sure how effective or healthy bubble baths are. But, they were always fun to get in and they filled the bathroom with a loving aroma.

I do not take bubble baths anymore because I had become suspicious of the chemical contents inside the bottles. I wondered whether a bubble bath was indeed a good thing for my body as well as how environmental friendly it was.

However, I did not give the bubble bath completely up until I discovered the milk bath. Since my first milk bath experience, I left the bubble bath once and for all behind me.

The milk bath: No woman lesser than Cleopatra herself, the queen of ancient Egypt, inspired my milk bath phase. After reading that she used to bathe in milk wanted me to get to the bottom of it.

My first milk bath got me hooked, as it was indeed quite special. Not only did my skin smell as sweet as a baby for hours after the bath but during the bath, I felt as if I was staying in a 5-star hotel presidential suite. For a good hour, I felt like a queen myself. It was a taste of paradise.

Surrounded by candles and burning incense, I would shut out the world and dive into bathing bliss. But after a while, it did not feel quite right to use milk in my bath for ethical reasons and I stopped after I discovered the Sodium Bicarbonate bath that had the ability to restore the acidic/alkaline balance of the body.

The Sodium Bicarbonate (SB) bath: this bath is really great if you have skin irritations, pimples or are suffering from acne. It is also beneficial to take these baths if you have a high ‘pitta’ dosha (‘fire’ constitution – Ayurveda) as it cools the body down.

I’ve never tried this but – thinking about it now – it may also be helpful to bring a fever down.

A ‘thing’ of mine with the SB baths: I loved to lay flat on the bottom of the tub and open my eyes and listen to the sound waves that were carried through the water. Quite the underwater world experience and it had a cooling effect on my eyes after hours spent in front of the computer.

Having said that, I would not necessarily recommend SB baths on a regular basis if you have a high ‘vata’ dosha (‘air’ constitution – Ayurveda) as it might cool you down and dry you up too much as it did with me. When I noticed that the Sodium Bicarbonate bath was not the best for my constitution on a regular basis, I discovered the Epsom salt bath!

The Epsom salt bath: these baths are heaven! Seriously, I love taking Epson salt baths. For a starter, because Epsom salts warm the body as they permeate the skin, even though the water is cooling down the body is heating up! What an awesome effect!

I also came once across a research paper that stated that giving the body magnesium through the skin was remarkably more effective than taking magnesium tablets orally. So while relaxing in the bath, I am giving my body the magnesium it needs! It also makes my skin as soft as silk.

And, Epsom baths are the antidote to insomnia. I am wondering why doctors prescribe sleeping pills when the most effective sedative is an Epsom salt bath?! Because of its sedative quality, I need to make sure I schedule the Epsom salt bath wisely or else I may not be able to get up in time the next morning. Bathing in Epsom salt makes me so tired that I fall into a such a deep sleep that lasts an hour or two longer than usual.

Last but not least on my bathing rituals list is the oil bath: Well, it is not so much a bath as it is an oil massage followed by a hot shower or bath. There are many articles online about treating yourself to Abhyanga (Ayurveda self-massage) at home and its benefits.

So let me just share my personal Abhyanga experience with you:

I mainly use coconut oil (as suggested by my Ayurveda doctor) that I warm up in a bain-marie. To create a relaxing atmosphere in the bathroom, I put instrumental background music, light candles and burn some incense. Then, I focus on my breath (abdominal breathing) and massage the oil deep into my skin from head to toe. Once I am done, I take a hot shower. I only use very little Dr. Bronner’s Baby Unscented Pure-Castile Liquid Soap to wash the excess oil off. After Abhyanga, I feel light, refreshed, and energised.

Even after showering, there is always a pleasant, thin layer of oil left on my skin to prevent it from drying out. But, especially in winter, I will add an extra layer of an aloe-vera-gel-coconut-oil mix after bathing. This way, all year round my skin stays firm, well moisturised and elastic with a healthy glow.

Another good thing about coconut oil is: it does not stain clothes!

 

For all those who have noticed that the illustration is fashioning a facial mask: indeed, I’ve also had my fair share of experimentations with facial masks leaving me with two favourites. But, I’ll share this in another post with you.


Do you have any bathing rituals or home spa you’d like to share and can recommend?


 

Advent Day 17 – Marks my Bday & White Peacock Revisited

Yep, I’m a full-fledged Sagittarius.

Usually, I don’t write about my birthday – but today something is somewhat different.

Yesterday’s ‘White Peacock’ illustration was so disturbing to me. I literally loathed it! And this feeling continued throughout the night and during today’s Advent and, well, my birthday, too.

I decided, the illustration needed to be revisited. I needed to create an improved version for today’s advent – although I had many other ideas: cake with candles, gingerbread man with birthday cake, huge cupcake with candle, Mrs Santa baking birthday cake, etc.

But the power of the White Peacock was stronger and demanded my attention. And, it was only after another session of peacock feather and symmetry frustration that I understood why.

 

Peacock Revisited
Peacock Revisited

 

The way I see it, birthdays mark the beginnings of a personal new year.

And although, in my case, the general New Year is only two weeks away from my personal one, these transitions happen differently, yet possess identical power in terms of introspection.

Every general New Year, I seek out an animal spirit totem that will guide me with its wisdom through the new year.

To find the animal spirit totem, I will use a deck of cards. If a real-life animal gets my attention before I lay the deck of cards on New Year’s eve, I will go with it. Last year it was a gecko and it indeed guided me well through this year.

Sometimes, it takes me a while to register the animal that is seeking my attention.

Like with the white peacock, where it took me a good day of annoyance over an illustration to tune into its symbolism.

To recognise the animal messenger (whether in meditations, dreams, in real life, in my mind, or even whilst googling for something entirely different),  something in my mind, heart or soul needs to start to move (annoyance – or amazement, awe, disgust, etc.). It usually triggers some kind of emotional or cognitive response.

And this is what happened today:

I was working on the peacock illustration when I received a beautiful birthday message from a very dear friend of mine that touched me to tears. One of the things he wrote was:

May you shine like a Sun for centuries in the millions of hearts! ‘Lavanya’ [meaning of name] is the life force and you represent that! ~ Madan

I was not feeling ‘unhappy’ today. I had a nice day. But maybe I could describe the feeling with ’empty’ or ‘pointless’ and still discontent with the ‘bloody’ peacock.

Upon reading Madan’s touching message, things shifted to the better. I also felt the urge to research white peacock animal spirit totem meanings.

I discovered, there is a connection between Madan’s message, the meaning of my name and the message of the white peacock.

In short, if I really wish to tap into my life force, the force (wait a minute, this reminds me: the new Star Wars movie is out! 😉 – anyways, where was I? Ah yes – ) that makes me shine from within and gives me the ability to touch hearts as I move down the path of life:  White Peacock will be my guide in the upcoming year.

Also, quite clear to me now: the illustration is not to my liking yet,  because I need yet to ‘become’ the White Peacock.

There is much more to the White Peacock’s message, but I will leave it at this for now. I’ve got 365 days to imbibe its message and teachings – and to get the illustration right! – Don’t worry, I will not post ‘a peacock a day’ until 17th Dec 2017! 😀

 


May the force be with you!


Flowers of Peace

For this evening’s #colour_collective colour Imperial Purple another illustration of ‘Flowers of Peace’.

I figured, we can never sow too many flowers of peace.

Flowers of Peace: digital drawing made with Photoshop
Flowers of Peace: digital drawing made with Photoshop

This world is like a flower…

“This world is like a flower. Each nation is a petal. If one petal is infested, does it not affect all the other petals? Does not the disease destroy the life and beauty of the flower? Is it not the duty of each one of us to protect and preserve the beauty and fragrance of this one world flower from being destroyed?

This world of ours is a big, wonderful flower with many petals. Only when this is understood and becomes deeply ingrained in us, will there be any real peace and unity.

The tug of war between nations is like a tug of war between the petals of a flower. Competition between the petals will only result in all the petals withering away. The entire flower will be destroyed.

Division will only dissipate our energy and vitality; real power is to be found in unity, not in division.” ~ Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi) #EmbracingtheWorld


May all beings in all the worlds be peaceful and happy.

Have a peaceful and joyous weekend!


April Struggles – Reality Check

April’s original blog schedule

At the end of March, I decided to join #buildapril on Twitter. This required to draw buildings and structures.

Owl

With participation in #buildapril, I wished to improve my drawing skills for backgrounds, scene settings, lighting and shading with the use of angles and straight lines.

Of course, I was also planning on posting the results to this blog, too.

The unexpected downfall

falling

And then, everything went silent – zero posts – all through April (I am blushing with my head hanging low).

My sincere apologies to all my followers. I was travelling through the hell of my own making, but learned a lot along the way – imagine and picture: Dante Alighieri’s ‘Divina Comedìa’ – I was there and forced to scrutinise the reasons for my downfall.

Then it dawned on me

Frankly, I was embarrassed by my creations. So, I sheepishly decided to only post them on Twitter hoping they may go unnoticed by the big crowd (which they did).thedawning

Because, I thought that all I produced was but a miserable outlet of shabby lines, I felt uninspired and had little to no motivation anymore to stride ahead and experiment further – possibly missing out on a creative breakthrough!

Lame excuses begone!

I have this thing with ‘excuses’. I really hate them as they bore me to death. They are nothing but a waste of time and energy.

I do not appreciate when other people waste my time and energy with lame excuses nor when I do it myself.excusesbegone

Yes sure, I was busy with many other things during April.

But the bottom line is that with #buildapril, I stepped outside my artistic comfort zone.

By being dissatisfied with the results, I dreaded it so much that, at one point, I stopped trying altogether.

Dishes to the rescue

dishesWhile busy with the simple task of washing dishes and filled with guilt feelings about neglecting my blog, I realised that I was too ashamed to publish what I created as it did not meet my own expectations.

Truth be told, I just wanted to spare myself from embarrassment and possible humiliation.

At the end of the day

As unpleasant as this inner struggle may have been, it was necessary. It helped me realise how the need to be perfect can be such a huge obstacle to move on.

The way I see it, perfectionism can be a big block for motivation to dare, to change perspectives, methods, techniques, as well as to experiment and innovate. It may well be the main culprit in my writer’s and creative block.

starsSure, it is good to shoot for the stars, just, while doing so it’s good to keep a healthy portion of practicality.

It’s important to remember that it may take longer than expected to get there.

But this should not create a feeling of discouragement altogether.

Let’s face it, if we never try, we’ll never succeed.


So let us all shoot for the stars!


Catching up with #colour_collective: Rose Quartz, Viridian, Deep Lilac, Naples Yellow & Cool Grey and #MeetTheCCArtist

To fill my creative well*, 2016 began with a thorough detox in a contemplative and meditative manner.

Meanwhile, the desire to catch up with and rejoin the wonderful #colour_collective community arose and I’ve decided to combine all that I have missed out on so far in one image:

Catching up with #colour_collective: Rose Quartz, Viridian, Deep Lilac, Naples Yellow & Cool Grey and #MeetTheCCArtist
Catching up with #colour_collective: Rose Quartz, Viridian, Deep Lilac, Naples Yellow & Cool Grey and #MeetTheCCArtist
Before #colour_collective’s 2016 sequel commenced on 22 January, #colour_collective artists came together on Twitter to introduce themselves through #MeetTheCCArtist on 15 January, 2016.

Something definitely worth checking out on Twitter, in case you haven’t already – lovely art works!

Hm, while writing this post, I’ve just noticed that thanks to my #MeetTheCCArtist contribution, I am a step closer to adding an ‘About’ page to this blog.

Wishing all a lovely weekend!

***

(*see Julia Cameron’s ‘The Artist’s Way’)