Your inner fire.

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“You can’t take the sky from me.” – Joss Whedon

I spent the first week of 2017 with a horrible virus that left me house bound and feeling very sorry for myself. If you are anything like me, you struggle to think clearly or positively when you aren’t well. It colours everything with a horrible shade of blue. You have little clarity or perspective. So you have to be aware of that and remind yourself that your negative view point when you feel like that is coming from the over shadowing illness and not your own mind. And it is important to remind yourself you will be thinking more like yourself again when you are feeling back to normal and back to health.

I had been so looking forward to spending that week contemplating my plans and dreams for the year, allowing myself to ease into the year slowly, to do things I like doing and generally feel like I was getting a head start on myself. But that never happened. So last week was my first week of 2017, that’s how I was treating it anyway. Yes I still felt a little behind, and have sorely neglected social media as well as other commitments I should have worked on. But I didn’t want to start the year the way I ended the last one, in a rush. This whirlwind will creep up on you if you aren’t careful and you will be so caught up in the race, the rush, that you won’t even realise it. In times like that, when I get too caught up, too busy, I lose all insight, I am flustered and probably dampening my creativity, it is not a good place to be. Being busy has become something to strive for in our hectic modern world. It is the true entrepreneurs, the real innovative thinkers that have realised that being busy doesn’t necessarily mean being more productive, and most definitely does not mean being happier . They have learnt to harness their own pattern, their own balance and find what works for them, often being more productive in a lot less time.

So to put a positive spin on my poor start to the year, it was in some ways the best way to start a new year. A slap in the face reminder to not ever take my health for granted. Physical, and mental, health. And to shine a light on how precious it is to be healthy 95% of the time. It has also led me to my main focus for the year, my year of ultimate health. I call it so, as I would say I am pretty healthy already. I take care of myself, eat well, I like to exercise, I try to sleep well and meditate. However, I have a lot of space for improvement, and have possibly become somewhat complacent with my health and fitness. And I realise how much it can impact every area of your life, every area of you. I want to be strong. I want to feel strong. I do not agree with diets, they are quick fix, short term, solutions, but I do believe in changing or adjusting habits and your lifestyle, for life. I am only a week in, but so far I have introduced what will hopefully become my new habits, I won’t bore you with the details, but I am feeling motivated and excited about my new challenges.

I actually love January, I know a lot of people don’t, but I really do feel like it is a clean slate, a fresh start, to think about what worked and what didn’t work the previous year, and to try and re-align what your priorities are, what you want, who you are, who you would like to be, what you would like to do. It is a good time to think about what is important to you and put that first. Make it a priority if you can. Don’t let that light go out. If you have a light on at all, you are one of the lucky ones, and the world can’t afford to lose you.

In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being.We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. – Albert Schweitzer

One thing I can personally reflect on from last year was that I realised I may in fact be a “people pleaser”. I think a lot of people are, whether they are aware of it or not. I hate the thought of someone not liking me, I don’t like to let people down, and I generally aim to impress. This realisation hit me in a big way, and it has definitely started to change how I think and how I make decisions. If I am doing something mainly to please someone else, I have to question why do it in the first place. I am not talking about helping others, that, in my head, is completely separate and I will always try to make time for that. But doing something, and straying down a tangent because you think it is what someone else wants you to do, doesn’t tend to serve you. So this year, I also aim to care a little less what other’s think. To not be side tracked by what someone else may see for my future. And instead to focus on where my own ideas, dreams, and priorities lie.

In order to have the strength of mind to stay true to you and what it is you want to do, you have to work on keeping your cup filled up. Keep your self filled up. Make time and head space to do the things that keep you physically and mentally strong. Sleep enough. Eat enough, of the right stuff. Exercise. Spend time outside. Spend time with people that lift you up. With people you love. Make time for doing what you love. Make space in your life for it. Only when you have this, can you help fill others up. Love yourself first and your world, and the world of those around you, will open up.

All of this, to me, comes down to getting to know yourself. Building an awareness of your mind, your body, and your heart. Only by trying to understand yourself, and spending time doing so, can you then understand what you really want. And what you need in order to keep your fire ablaze. I think I am some sort of weird introverted extrovert, (apparently most people are a combination of the two and it is very rare to be completely introverted or extroverted, most people have sides of both – this amazing TED talk talks about the importance of introverts) because I know now that I need quite a lot of time by myself, but I also need time with other people. I get energy both ways. It is a delicate balance. I thrive off meeting new people. And, to be honest, at times can be quite comfortable being the centre of attention, or the one keeping the dance floor busy at a subdued wedding. But if I have been running from place to place and taking on more work than I can manage, and have had no time to process it all, and be alone, I will be useless around people, I will have nothing to offer. However, if I have had time to do all the things I know feed me, I will try and give what I have away, I will try and share my energy, I love to make people laugh, or inspire them or show them the light if they are at that time struggling to see it. Which brings me to how much I also need those close to me. Only they really get to seem me when I do feel weak, and burnt out, and incredibly vulnerable. When I have lost all direction and am not myself. They help pick me up and I hope I can do the same for them whenever they may need it.

“Your spirit does not shine when the sun shines and your life is comfortable. It shines when darkness swallows you and you cannot breathe for the strangle of fear. That’s when what was invisible becomes undeniable.”  – Toni Sorenson

When I started to feel a bit better again last week, and a bit more myself, I decided in order to help guide and remind me of my ‘year of ultimate health’, I would do a new illustration which tried to encapsulate what that meant to me. I started with one that was similar to the photo below, a very restorative, meditative, pose. Which I do value, a lot. However, when I started the drawing, something didn’t feel right, it wasn’t working. Which is why I went on with the illustration at the start of this post, which started to make more sense as I was creating it, it felt right. When I am in a good routine of doing yoga every day, I try to do a ‘difficult’ pose, a challenging pose, within my practice, doing so makes me feel strong. There are a lot of yoga poses that are only possible with physical and mental strength, not only to get into the pose, but also the strength to dedicate your mind and body to practicing it, to give yourself time to practice it, day in day out, and to realise that there is no rush, no one to compete with, but that it will happen, if you give a little every day, every week, you will get there. And this, makes me feel strong, confident, and ready to take on challenges outside of my yoga mat as well as on it. So this is my symbolic illustration for the year. Not to mention the burning ‘sun’ in the background, (I call it the sun, but this is a metaphor as I would never attempt to capture something as vast and powerful as the sun itself in an illustration) this is my fire, this is your fire, this is the thing inside you that you need to work on keeping lit. If you let it go out you will have an even longer struggle to get it lit again.

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I encourage you to get to know yourself, get to know where your priorities lie, and from there take action on what you want, what you need, from this year. This is a good time to do it before things start to get too fast, too busy, and you have lost any sight or direction for yourself. And if that leads you to decide to work on letting yourself shine, working on being the best version of you, and trying to stay with that fire every single day, and help others to find and follow their fire, then that, in my opinion, is an honourable, and positive start to the year.

“The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it”  – C.C.Scott

A belated Happy New Year everyone, from a rejuvenated Holly.

If you liked this blog post you may like these similar ones: Awake and Motivation

http://www.hollysharpe.com
twitter: @hollysharpe

Self doubt will swallow you up

words

 

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt”

Sylvia Plath

It’s strange, I was talking to someone about my work recently, and what part it plays in my life, and how I feel about it etcetera – ye, pretty big questions I guess. And they asked me if I sometimes doubt my abilities. My first thought was, no, I am pretty confident after having so many people believe in, buy, commission and compliment my work… but then I thought about it a bit more, and yep, there is a shed load of doubt there. And like most of my emotions/ complex issues, it is not very far below the surface. To say I have ‘thin skin’ would be an understatement, although I like to think I hide it well most of the time… I’m sure those closest to me have never been fooled on that front. So whenever things with my work aren’t going exceedingly swimmingly, say a commission doesn’t materialise, or a commission does not go well, / is entirely rejected, or when I create something that doesn’t work, that I hate,… or when I decide to procrastinate by seeing what some of my favourite, and extremely successful artists/ illustrators have been up to of late and compare myself and my lack of comparable achievements, it sucks. (and here is a post about why you should not compare yourself). Some of these times I let self doubt engulf me and take over, I doubt everything and question everything and overthink everything and sometimes this can result in not doing anything. It is a slippery slope and leads to a big black hole and you have to reach out and lift yourself up before you go down too far.

So don’t do it, don’t let the doubt seep in. It will not serve you. This definitely takes practice, to make the choice, the decision to seek the light and not the dark, but keep practicing and it will slowly get ever so slightly easier. The plus side is I actually think I am getting a whole lot better at putting these things aside, yes, I mourn them for a bit,  I wouldn’t be able to do what I do if I didn’t let it affect me at all, because I couldn’t do what I do if I didn’t care about it all immensely. But I try to take a step back and be rational about it. Which also takes practice.

“Self-doubt does more to sabotage individual potential than all external limitations put together” – Brian Tracy

If you are in the creative industry, and no doubt many other industries, and if you work for yourself, you absolutely have to keep going. You cannot let it burn you down, because if you let it, it will. You have to get back up and use it. In a way, I think these times are actually necessary, otherwise maybe I would become too complacent with my work, I would sit too comfortably and not have the same fuel to prove other people, or perhaps more importantly, prove myself, wrong. To aim even higher, push even further than I have before. So that is my next tip, USE IT ALL. Use everything, all the emotions, the anger, the doubt, the frustration, the confusion, use it. I feel so fortunate to have an outlet to do so. Even writing about it right now helps. Especially because I know that I am not alone in feeling like this. Far from it.

I really feel like in this day and age there are so many things we have to deal with/ think about/ consider/ decide on (*yawn*). Things which, I can’t help but think that artists 100 years ago did not have to consider. Not that I long to have been an artist back then, as of course they had a whole other set of issues which perhaps we do not have now. But still, it is interesting to think about how much has changed, and perhaps to use that to figure out what is really worth doing, and what it is you actually want to do. Is it worth the heart ache? Or have you been sidelined again onto a tangent that isn’t even the path you wanted to go down?  Overall, I am using all this as a positive thing, these feelings, as well as many others, have always been useful for me to use, to push me to create something even better than before, to never get too comfortable, and to always try and work outside of my own boundaries, my comfort zone. Otherwise we will stand still. And in a world that moves so unbelievably fast, you cannot stand still, you have to swim, otherwise you may just drown in it all.

“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” – Kurt Vonnegut

 

Conversely, even though doubt is not a useful thing to have when you are trying to be bold and make things happen, there is also a humbling element to it. Which reminds me of a lovely phrase one of my favourite yoga teachers (Laura, that’s you!) used to say which went something like this,

“Be humble enough to know that you are not better than anyone else, but wise enough to know that you are very, very, special”.

We are all so fragile, but that is part of what makes us beautiful, and capable of creating wondrous moments and creations. It will always be hard to reveal your soul, to expose your feelings in words, a song or a painting, but it is what helps us stay connected, and we need that now more than ever.

“life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one” – Stella Adler

Thanks again for reading,

if you liked this post you may also like this one,  or this one

Holly x

twitter: @hollysharpe

http://www.hollysharpe.com

Go Your Own Way.

 

img_3779‘Soar’

 

“Life is painful. It has thorns like the stem of a rose. Culture and art are the roses that bloom on the stem. The flower is yourself, your humanity. Art is the liberation of the humanity inside yourself” – Daisaku Ikeda

Things have happened in the political world this year that have genuinely shocked me. And no doubt plenty others. I don’t think anyone could have even predicted this even 10 years ago. They would probably think it was a joke. Because that’s what this started as, a big joke, and now it is real, it is so real. I think that’s why I am actually still feeling quite detached from it all, because it is hard to believe that it is actually real. Maybe if I lived in America it would be feeling a whole lot more real right now. But thankfully, I don’t. But even so, this is going to have an impact on me, on the UK, on the entire world. To me, this is what is so baffling about all of this. The entire world IS connected, in more ways that just economically. And yet, this mass wave of building boundaries, barriers, and borders is taking over. This hatred against other humans, this anger, it is breeding. We should be building bridges, not barriers, that is my intuitive feeling, that is what is in my heart, and also in my head. To me, that is logical. Again, there is so much I could go into on this topic. But I typed the title before I started writing this, because I want it to be about that, and not some long negative rant about what is wrong with the world. Instead, I want to talk about what I think is the only way to move on from here.

I am sure there are countless people I could quote here, on the value of keeping going, on the value of art, and of hope. But for now, here are a few to get the point going –

“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope” – Barack Obama

“This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilisations heal.” – Toni Morrison

The title of this post, and in fact the whole idea I am attempting to explain, came to me when I was in the car this morning and listening to the song with the same title, loud. And it felt good, and it reminded me of a few things. With so many things in life, you can choose how you view them, you can choose your reaction to them, you can choose what you do about it and how you move forward. Some of which may take practice and working through negative habits, and tricks that your mind may play on you. But it is a choice. If you are feeling sad and depressed and you put on sad music, you are wallowing in it, dwelling in that dark place. That is not the solution, you must find the light, you must seek the light, you must cling on to the hope, you must keep going. If this is hard to start with, think of doing it for others rather than yourself, think of staying strong for them. If you don’t, all this noise, this chaos, will drown out the good, will dampen the hope and block out the light, and we cannot let that happen.

Get creative. I am of course biased, but I know I am not alone in the belief that art has a huge, and very real, place to play in all of this. Even more so than ever, at times like this, when many sci-fi stories are now becoming a reality, when so many people appear to have lost their way, this is the time. This is the time to immerse yourself in your own reality, to believe that anything you dream is possible, because when things are happening that no one believed could or would ever happen, when the boundaries between what is real and what is dreamt has been blurred, there is your evidence, there is your reason for propelling yourself even more so into something that drives you, something that feeds your soul and makes you come alive. Because if you come alive, everyone around you will start to feed of that positive energy as well. When there is less to lose, there is everything to gain. Let this be the time when everything has turned on it’s head and so you must turn everything you thought to be true on it’s head. What do you really want, what do you really believe. Let the answers to these questions be positive ones, and put them into action. Inspire and encourage everyone around you to do the same, to choose their own path and to question the path that has been dictated to them. You can do what you want to do, you can choose which way you want to go. And yes, things will happen that are out of your control, but that is not a reason to become despondent and give up, it is actually the opposite.

I hope that made some sort of sense. I typed that at a record speed because it is the only way to try and get my thoughts down and into something that makes some sort of sense before the thoughts seem to dissipate and I can’t remember what I thought, what I felt. So I am hoping I got there in time, I am hoping I managed to record the thoughts I had this morning, so that you can hopefully take something from them.

And if it didn’t, here’s some more quotes that might.

“ No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world” – Robin Williams

“Art is an attempt to compensate for some of the difficulties we have in human connection” – Alain de Botton

“The power of art can break the shackles that bind and divide human beings” – Daisaku Ikeda

If you liked this post you might also like this one which I wrote after Brexit, and this one, or maybe this one..

Thanks,

Holly  x.

If you liked the image at the start, ‘Soar’, it is avialable as a print HERE.

Twitter @hollysharpe

http://www.hollysharpe.com

Gratitude.

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“Very few people on the planet have the opportunity to even follow their dreams at all. Most people live in poverty, or in communities where the repercussions for behaving how they want are a lot worse than people just talking shit. If doing what you want is an option for you, you should do it, because you’re one of the few lucky people who can. And even if you fail, you will be in a better position than if you’d never tried. Every horrible thing that has ever happened to me has added integrity to my art and improved my understanding of the human race.”

The above was said by Grimes, apparently. I love these words so much, and I love them even more knowing that she said them. I also love her. Have been a big fan of hers for a while, and then I got to see her live earlier this year in Glasgow, and now I am slightly obsessed. She is so amazing. She exudes energy, creativity, and complete and utter individuality. But anyway, she is right. If there is even a small, tiny strand of hope, window of opportunity or thread of chance that you can do what you want to do, you have to grab it with both hands and chase it until you can do so no more. I think the majority of people that aren’t happy, are unhappy because either they don’t know what they truly want, or they aren’t trying to get it, and have decided that it is not possible before they have even tried, which is insane when you think about it, and also because they cannot see how lucky they are with everything that they already have.

I put the above photo on my Instagram earlier, and not that that can sum up how I was feeling today. But I was feeling insanely thankful, and a tad overwhelmed, which happens to me a lot actually. Through a few things I have done over the past year, and things people very close to me have done, I have not had to tread far to witness first hand how unfortunate some people are, how fragile their lives are, how much they got the opposite of a head start in life. It makes my heart bleed, and break, and want to envelope them in all the love in the world. I want to take all their pain away, and stop all the pain that I know is still to come for them. But I know I can’t. I can try, and there are some things I can try and do within my power to help them. But I can’t live their life for them. And if I didn’t feel grateful for so much in my life before, which I did, I now feel even more so. I feel so blessed, so lucky, so fortunate. Rather than feeling some sense of guilt or sadness that for some reason I have been more fortunate in some ways than them, I see it as a chance to be even more grateful, and instead to take advantage of my situation. And to me that means spreading my own positive energy as far and wide as I possibly can. Whether that be through my work, or by each and every time I come in to contact with any other person. Which is not always easy to do, I have my bad days as well. But rather than dwell on those, I try to cherish the good days, the good moments, and hold on to them as long as I can, and to let them radiate to anyone I can connect with.

And until I figure out how to take their pain away, that is all I can do. That, and encourage everyone else to be more compassionate, to think before you judge someone, because you literally do not know what burdens they carry, you do not know what they have been through, you can only try to imagine, but until you have walked a day in their shoes, be kind, be more accepting, and the world will do the same for you.

To come back to the point of ‘The best things in life aren’t things’. The best things I know I have been given are by people. I have been brought up with stability, with a family around me, and with that, so much support, and I know how rare and splendid a thing to have had that is. And through many ways, that has given me love, so much love, and I know that has made me capable of feeling and understanding love, as well as understanding how important it is for everyone to have. So if you are dwelling on the money you feel like you don’t have, or the materials things that you crave for so much, take a step back and look at the people in your life, the love that is hopefully there all around you, and that you can give back to others. Showing someone you care, giving them your time, is more valuable than anything you could every buy them.

– Holly

x

Step outside of your comfort zone.

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Step outside of your comfort zone. Do it. Trust me. Don’t ever get too comfortable. We are creatures of habit, there is no doubt about that, and we love our comfort. We stay in relationships, jobs and cities that bring us no joy, yet they are safe, comfortable. But why? Is it not better to jump, to risk it all, or at least risk a little in the hope that it will pay off? And if it doesn’t, we will surely learn a lot from trying, and have a better idea of what we want and what direction makes sense for us…

There is never a right time, you will never feel ready, have enough money, be thin enough, etc, stop waiting for the right moment to act on whatever wish or desire it is that you crave, the right moment will never come, you could wait a life time for it. The right moment is now. Go with it, do it, the rest will fall into place, it may just take time. I know some may think I am foolish and perhaps naive to encourage, think, and for the most part try to live by, these ideas, but the reality is, if you are reading this right now, probably on a smart phone, you are already in the top 2% (or is it 1%…?) of the entire world. You live in absolute luxury. I am guessing here, but I will go with it, you have already eaten at least once today, you are wearing relatively new clothes and shoes, you will go home to a safe, warm, sheltered house and have a sound sleep in a comfortable bed. Then you will wake up again and have a shower in running, warm, clean water. This is to name a few, as I’m sure you can now reflect on all the other luxuries that you are surrounded by. My point is, you already have everything you NEED, (and more!) so what are you waiting for, or saving for…. life will keep on going, the world will keep on spinning, so if there is something you want to do, stop making excuses about money or time, and start acting. Yes in an ideal world you can save for a while if that is what you need to do, but whatever it is, make a plan, and make it happen, even if you only take some small steps now, it is better than doing nothing and just talking about what you will do if and when this and that happens and continuing to cruise along waiting for something amazing to come and slap you in the face without you even trying – that, in my opinion, is foolish, nothing is going to land on your door step unless you take action or make positive steps to make it happen.

If you do continue to wait for the right moment, even if it does come, it may then be too late, because you will be too comfortable and will never know how it feels to fall, to jump, to take a risk, to brave the unknown, nothing worth doing was ever easy or however the saying goes… Growth, real growth, can only really happen when you push yourself, come up against your edge, out of your comfort zone and into the depths of the unknown.

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” –  Franklin D. Roosevelt

The people who ‘succeed’ do not necessarily have the most money or ideal circumstances, they just did, they made do with whatever they had. So, improvise, problem solve, use your head, be inventive, get creative, there is always a way around it, you may just have to think a bit harder about the solution.

Only when you truly embrace the lack of time, or money or whatever it is you are waiting to save you, can you really push yourself, take risks and make progress. It is about being brave, courageous and perhaps ever so slightly foolish.

Let yourself fall into the faith that things will work out, trust that thought, believe it, even if it is rocky for a while, that is all part of it and I truly believe things will inevitably come around again, maybe not in the exact shape that you envisioned, but that’s ok. On the other hand if you sit and wait for the right moment, you will gain nothing, apart from more fear of the unknown and more anxiety of all the things you don’t have or have never done.

“Stay hungry, stay foolish” – Steve Jobs

Thanks again for reading,

Holly

http://www.hollysharpe.com

Q & A (part 2)

Flux - Holly Sharpe 72 dpi
Flux’, prints here

Finally got around to writing up another Q&A post! (See my first one here) Below are some questions I have received in emails from people, and of course my answers to them. Similar themes seem to come up, so thought it would be useful to share in the hope that they may be helpful to others reading this! If you have a specific question please leave in the comments below, or email – hollysharpe@live.com And I will get back to you as soon as I can, and possibly feature it in my next Q&A post.

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Q. Can you tell me a bit about your background?

A. My background = Born in Edinburgh. Studied printed textiles at Duncan of Jordanstone, Dundee- got a 1st. Went on to travel and then moved to London where I worked as a textile designer full time for a while. Realised it wasn’t for me, and spent all free hours trying to work on my own drawings and illustrations as well as promoting it as much as I could mainly via the internet.

Q. When/how did you find your own signature style and work method?

 A. Uh, I guess it has been an ongoing thing that continues to develop and change, whilst still retaining my ‘style’ which comes naturally for the most part. I think it started to take shape after lots of experience, practice and knowledge/ experience in different disciplines. 
Q.Where do you usually get your inspiration?

A. Everywhere. – I answered this in previous Q&A which you can read here.

 
Q. How does your day-to-day routine when working look like?
A. It varies, but for the most part I will be in my studio all day. I spend a lot more time on my computer doing less exciting admin – type stuff, which unfortunately seems to take up a chunk of time. I will also spend time packaging and posting sales made from my online shops. And then of course time to work on new work whether on or off my computer…
Depending on how my day has gone, I sometimes stay and work late in my studio or I will keep working at home. Although I never do this every night as I think it is very important to take time off and create space, physically and mentally from your work in order to stay creative. 

Q. Who are your favourite illustrators or artists?

 A. Oh, also made a blog post about some of my favourite artists/ illustrators here
And a couple more which aren’t on there because sadly they are no longer alive are : Egon Schiele, and Lucian Freud.

Q. You’ve worked on commissions for products like Derwent and Chloé in Marie Claire magazine, how did these commissions come about?

A. Those commissions all came about by them contacting me basically. I am not sure where each of them first found or heard about my work. I think for this reason it is important to put your work in a lot of places, whether that be online or offline as you never know who is going to see it and when. So therefore the more places you have it in, probably the better. I try to post my work and news on social media a lot and I think that has definitely helped get my name and my work out there. 

Q. I’ve noticed that there is a reoccurring theme within your work and most predominately the use of women. Is there any particular reason for this?

A. Not exactly no. I guess one piece leads to another and I like to explore something that worked. I have always liked drawing people, and for the most part find women nicer to draw – having said that I did draw a couple of men last year and hope to explore that some more this year.  

Q. Do you still take any classes, or partake in life drawing sessions. If not do you use models for the subjects within your work?

 A. I occasionally go to a life drawing class, but don’t have the time to go anywhere near as much as I would like to. I find it very relaxing and enjoyable and would much rather be able to draw from real life all the time, but unfortunately it isn’t always possible. I did do life drawing at uni a lot, this is definitely one of the best ways to enhance your drawing skills.  

Q. Are there any interesting projects you are currently working on or plans for the future?

 A. A few things in the pipeline, but still in the process of making plans etc so I guess you’ll have to wait and see 🙂 

Q. I’ve followed your work on Instagram & your website for a while now, but how else do you get your work into the public eye

A.  Yes I also use twitter:  https://twitter.com/hollysharpe
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HollySharpeDrawings
etsy: 
https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/hollysharpe?ref=hdr_shop_menu
pinterest: 
http://www.pinterest.com/hollysharpe2012/
and my blog which I mentioned a few times. Apart from that I guess it is word of mouth, trying to get my work shown and  / or sold in different places etc. 

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….I am currently in my third year at the University of Lincoln, studying Fashion Design. This year I am writing my dissertation which is based on fashion illustration. After finding your portfolio on Association of Illustrators, I loved your work and I would be very grateful if it was possible for you to answer a few questions that would help me with my research, and that I can also include in my dissertation.

Q. How would you describe your style of illustration?

A. I will try and answer these questions as best as I can, I have actually answered at least one of them in this interview here which might be helpful to you:

http://castlefoundations.com/2014/10/03/feature-friday-illustrator-holly-sharpe/

Q. What methods do you use to create your final illustration?

 

A. The methods I use to create a final illustration are – I always start with pencil, pen or paint and paper. Sometimes I will draw/ paint the main image and then scan it into the computer to play around with it, or add to it in photoshop. Other times I will just use pencil, ink and watercolour and keep it that way. And sometimes I will draw/ paint the main image and some other elements separately, then scan them all in and play around with composition etc in photoshop to bring together the final illustration. I hope that answers your question? I don’t really have a strict method which I stick to, but I think starting with paper and paint etc will, for me anyway, always produce a richer result, rather than doing it entirely digitally. 

Q. Do you read any fashion magazines? If so, do you believe that there are enough illustrations included throughout the magazine?

A. To be honest, not often at all no. Sometimes I browse the Sunday Times Style magazine if I am at my parents house. Other than that, I may occasionally buy something obscure that catches my eye, but unfortunately there aren’t that many shops that sell the smaller, less mainstream magazines that I would rather buy. The last time I bought Marie Claire, it’s because I had an illustration in it – which was exciting of course – but I don’t buy it regularly. Oh, so to answer your question, no there are no where near enough illustrations in them, and if there was more I would definitely buy them A LOT more often! I just think it becomes very stale when flicking through a hundred generic photographic adverts for Chanel, Gucci, Burberry etc, I pretty much glaze over at most of them now. They need illustrations to bring them to life again!  – don’t get me wrong I love some fashion photography, but there is so much of it these days that only some of it really stands out.

Q. Finally, what do you think the role of fashion illustration is today and how has it changed over the years?

A. The role of fashion illustration today…. not sure to be honest. I like to think it helps to capture the essence or feeling of something, rather than describing a specific item or object. I think a lot of fashion illustration has become an art piece in itself. And once it becomes art it is hard to define what role it actually plays? I think it has changed a lot in that it is probably a lot more broader these days, people are so creative and we now have a lot more tools to help enhance that. Whereas in the earlier times of fashion illustration it was there to fulfil quite a clear purpose to illustrate clothes, when there wasn’t any/ very many photographs about, whereas now it has to do something more than that.

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Q. ….
I started drawing and painting this year, and although I’m not aiming to break into the illustration field , I would love to improve my work.
 
I wanted to ask you about what brand of watercolour you use, I’m trying find the brand that works for me but I want vibrant colours and good pigments without  breaking the bank.. I had been thinking of giving Dr. Ph Martin’s watercolours a try but I see you use watercolour pans or tubes.. what are your thoughts?

A. I’m not sure what country you are emailing from as I haven’t actually heard of Dr. Ph Martin’s watercolours….?? I use Windsor and Newton. They have two types which they sell, one is either called ‘professional or artists’ watercolours, and that is the more expensive and much better quality out of the two types that they do. The other one is still good, but the pigments are a lot stronger in the artists’/professional one and seem to be less likely to fade etc. To be honest I actually haven’t tried that many other brands, I probably should test out some other ones to compare! The ones I buy are pretty expensive, but they do last a long time, and if you buy them as a pack, rather than individual colours it works out cheaper. 

Q. Another thing is that I’m very intimidated by beautiful paper.. If I set to draw on nice watercolour paper, I get so nervous I ruin it, while if I draw on the ipad or on scrap paper… I make actually pretty good stuff..

Any tips to get over this?

A. I totally understand why you feel like this sometimes, and I think a lot of people get this ‘blank canvas’ complex. If I’m drawing in a sketchbook I pretty much never draw on the first page, I always leave it blank, or I’ll stick a postcard or a picture/photograph by someone else that I like there. So I guess that’s my thing, too much pressure to make the first page amazing that I avoid it all together! When working on loose leaf paper however, I guess because I have done it so much now I am rarely afraid to ruin it. That’s not to say that I don’t sometimes ruin it, I am just a lot better at accepting that I spend a lot of money on paper, and that’s ok because it is now my ‘job’ so if some of it gets wasted because I messed up, it’s not the end of the world (and I do try to always recycle it!). I suppose the best ‘tips’ I could give you are 1. Maybe warm up/sketch on a scrap bit of paper first and 2. Practice, doing it more and getting used to working on nice paper will hopefully make it more ‘normal’ and not so different form working on a scrap piece. 3. try not to think so much about this pressure that you are putting on yourself – which itself may just come with practice – not everything you do is going to be great, everyone has bad days, and work that they hate or that just didn’t work, so don’t stress too much if it doesn’t work out. Another thing I would say, is that it’s ok if you do great work on scrap bits of paper or on your ipad, you can keep them too and it is just as much a piece of art as the ones you create on ‘nice’ paper. The scrap paper may even add something to the work, maybe you should embrace that way of working?

Q. And lastly, do you work from reference photos? I struggle a lot with proportion.. and yet as most people I’m very concerned about originality…I feel like a cheat when I use reference photos from magazines and such..

A. Yes I usually use photos for reference. I don’t like doing it either, but it is not practical or possible for me to always have a model to draw from. I know what you are saying about originality, but I am pretty much never trying to copy the photograph, I may even be looking at a few and combining elements I like from each and putting that together with my own ideas and sketches to create my own piece of work. The photographs are for reference only. I have been going to life drawing classes for years, and although I don’t go to them as much as I would like anymore, I still go when I can. This is by far the best way to practice proportions. It is thought that the human body is the hardest thing to draw – which is why architects often go to life classes to practice their drawing – so don’t beat yourself up if you struggle with it, it takes time and practice and a lot of times you may not get it right. Just remember to keep looking – your brain/eyes play tricks on you so it is just practice. It should start to come a lot more naturally with time.

 
 

A few words on determination and success….

Believe

Determination is sticking to your health/ fitness plan when you really don’t feel like it, it is getting out of your bed when you don’t want to, when it is cold and raining outside, and putting your trainers on and going for a run.

That was me last Tuesday morning. I actually surprised myself, I can be pretty driven and hard on myself, but other times I am too soft and with things like going for a run I make excuses, tell myself I need more sleep, don’t have time etc etc. But it hit me that morning when I was feeling pleased (smug maybe) with myself for making it out and was enjoying the fresh air and refreshing rain as I ran through it, it reminded me that this is your ‘edge’, these are the times that you need to push through, that make the pros stand out from the amateurs, the successes over the (I use this word tentatively) ‘failures’. They draw out those that will always excel in life, because they continued to show up, they kept trying, against the odds, against the stuff that tries to put up a wall against your dreams, they push through it.

Below are a few things, in my opinion, which help towards building determination, and ultimately leading to success in whatever way that means for you:

  • Music helps.
  • Exercise helps.
  • Building good mental habits and practising positivity every single day helps.
  • Meeting new inspiring people.
  • Trying new things and building your confidence.
  • Picking yourself up when things don’t go your way.
  • Fighting back.
  • Perseverance.
  • Belief.
  • Strength.
  • Writing down small steps towards bigger goals and sticking to them.
  • Being kind to yourself.
  • Being hard on yourself.
  • Faith in yourself.
  • Keeping going when others don’t.
  • Focusing on what IS working rather than dwelling on what isn’t/ didn’t.
  • Focus.
  • Drive.
  • (More) perseverance.
  • Integrity.
  • Passion.
  • Grit.
  • Doing it for the right reasons.
  • Straight up hard work.
  • Will power.

What is going to make you stand out from the crowd, and take it a step further to achieve the success that you want?

Hope you are feeling a little more motivated after this fairly brief post!
Holly x

http://www.hollysharpe.com
twitter: @hollysharpe

Room for imagination = creating space to unleash your creativity.

Yoga sketch - Holly Sharpe
Recent drawing, idea I hope to explore this year, to somehow express my love of Yoga through my work. Pic from my Instagram.

“There are always flowers for those who want to see them.” – Henri Matisse

I know what I want to say here, but I have so many thoughts, ideas and words jumbled up and going around my head this morning, (well in reality, I have that most of the time, it’s just slightly muted sometimes, and it seems to switch off, or at least fade A LOT, when I am drawing = bliss) that it might take a bit longer for me to get it all out… hoping you’ll stick with me till the end though!

*Before I go any further, I want to stress, that all these words are my own, but I am not claiming to be discussing anything groundbreaking either, as most of it is an accumulation of things I have read, watched and listened to – and from their formed my own opinions on how I currently feel. I also want to say that this is how I feel, or think right now, it is not set in stone and maybe I will look back and cringe that I was ever so honest, but I’d like to draw your attention back to this first entry where I try to explain why I wanted to start this blog in the first place, and if nothing else it helps me put some of these nagging thoughts and musings in my head, into writing! *

What I want to try and talk about is the importance of creating space, physical and psychological space. I am usually directing my words at creative people, but in fact, I think more and more companies and intelligent people out there are realising that everyone can, and should be more creative. Just because you don’t draw or physically create stuff, does not mean you cannot or are not creative. In most jobs and in day to day lives, things would be improved a lot if creativity were encouraged more, if the option to fail was encouraged and therefore people would experiment and take risks a whole lot more, in theory… The problem is there is a lot wrong with, or to put it better, there is a lot of room for improvement, when it comes to the education system, in this country anyway, and my understanding of the US is similar. Sir Ken Robinson does a phenomenal TED TALK on this, ‘How schools kill creativity’ believe it or not it’s from 2006, he is extremely likeable, engaging, and speaks a whole lot of sense. It is hard not to become passionate about what he is saying.

Along with a lacking education system, we are now living in a society that never wants to give you a second to just be. A moment to reflect. With advertising, brands and general consumerism constantly being forced in your face, probably without you even realising it most of the time – at least in cities anyway. And technology meaning most people, in most modes of transport, queues (lines) for the till or a bus or whatever, are glued to this little rectangle that in many ways is the essence of how far we have come, and demonstrates what humans are capable of, smart phones are incredible, I am not denying that, but must they take over our lives, must they dictate what we do every time we have a spare second, or minute. I have read and listened to a few things this past week which talk about this obsession we now have with smart phones, which makes me think that there is going to be something of a revolution, or perhaps just a revelation, about how we are using our smart phones.

It is only since listening/ reading about people talking about this more recently that it seems to me that a lot of people don’t really daydream or let their thoughts be left without interruptions…? I feel like I have spent most of my life daydreaming and people watching, so I find this almost incomprehensible. I know that I don’t have the right balance either, as it probably isn’t healthy to be caught up in daydreaming so much either, but I still think it does wonders for your imagination, and therefore for your creativity and in developing your own intellect and ability to form your own ideas and opinions.

Since quite a few people have asked me how I stay inspired, it makes me wonder, do you ever just daydream? Do you ever just sit and be with your own thoughts. Do you ever go for a walk and not take your phone, and not feel the need to share it on facebook, or twitter or whatever. Do you? Maybe you do, and that’s great, you still have a grasp on living in the real 3 dimensional world and not the one that dampens your ability to think for yourself, to imagine, and to generate your own thoughts and opinions on something before something you have just scrolled through has changed your mood or your feelings towards it. The point is, we need to (in my opinion) channel stimulus from inside us to really grow creativity, rather than always relying on external stimulus. And if we don’t create space for this to happen naturally in the first place, then we may loose the ability altogether.

Another point on creating space, which I think is important for everyone, but possibly even more so for any one that is self employed and/or a creative. It can be all consuming ‘sailing your own ship’, as I seem to keep putting it recently. It is wonderful and exciting and extremely overwhelming and draining all at the same time to work for yourself. This is exactly why it is so important to take breaks, by that I mean lunch breaks, a break to go for a walk or an exercise class, but also longer breaks – a holiday! I know a lot of freelancers, and people that work for themselves only dream of this, but I honestly think that you will be more productive, proactive and focused if you force yourself to take a proper holiday. It doesn’t have to necessarily mean going away somewhere – although in an ideal world the further you can get from your normal everyday surroundings, the better – but just a proper break where you try not to think about your work, and definitely don’t do any work, no emails, nothing. Only by switching everything off – which is why I hope the whole mobile rant, along with the breaks thing have now tied in…. – can we really let out minds wander, be free, and work their magic.

Phew, another long one. If you’re still reading, thanks! Happy to hear your thoughts on the above, or on anything I have raised really.
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Email: hollysharpe@live.com

– Holly

Why not to compare yourself to others.

Ben Lomond
Me and Ben Lomond last year ^

Social media is a great thing in many ways, and I use it for my work a lot and it has helped me a lot. However, it also has a LOT of negatives. It is crazy how much time people spend wishing away their lives scrolling through Facebook etc. Aside from time wasting, the main issue I have with it, and have heard discussed here and there is the envy and jealousy it creates. Wishing you looked like someone else, wishing you lived somewhere else, wishing you had the fame or life of someone else. We, as humans, are naturally compelled to get carried away and indulge in these feelings of wanting and wishing. Which does nothing and doesn’t help anyone. What we need to remember, is that everyone’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc, is a tiny, tiny, edited version of their life or work. Everyone has ups and downs, rainy days and grumpy days, yet their social media profiles probably don’t represent this. As much as it is important to have aims and goals we want to get to, it is also crucial that we don’t spend our lives saying ‘when I have this’ or once I have done this, or live here, or have lost this weight or have this much money, I’ll be happy, and instead remember to pay attention to what we already have, rather than always looking forwards. Otherwise you might wake up one day and wonder where your life actually went.

And on a side note, it is always best to assume that Photoshop HAS been used on most celebrities/ models in most pictures you will see in most places, because it usually has.

I don’t know where I read this the other day, but it said, ‘Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle’. I think this puts it quite succinctly. It is completely futile to compare your ‘success’, your journey, or whatever, to someone else’s. Think about it, there have been so many points already throughout your life when one small decision affected a big change. So much is up to chance, hurdles you faced in your personal life that they didn’t, priorities you chose that they didn’t. Alain de Botton touches on this idea, and puts it across a whole lot better than I ever could in his extremely watchable (/listenable) TED Talk here.

My ideas on and behind this blog, and the majority of my posts on social media have a positive thread, or should do, throughout. This is intentional as this is how I want to come across, this is how I want to inspire and engage others, it is also how I want to be more of the time. (Having said this, a few people have pointed out that a lot of the girls in my illustrations looks sad, -blog post coming on that point soon.. – so maybe this counteracts all of this anyway…?) However, I wanted to share these words with you to make sure it is understood that my career, my situation is not always rosy. Perhaps it can comes across as if it is when I post about this commission or this break through or another ‘uplifting’ quote. But I wanted to make sure that people know I am human too, I have ups and downs like everyone else. Creating art is one of my coping mechanisms for sure. As is yoga, and people, of course. It is hard to remember that a lot of people that follow me and my work, don’t actually know me, or have never met me. So it is hard to know how people picture you if they only have written words and posted pictures to go by…

Anyway, point is, we are all only human, doing the best we can do and that is all we can do.

Thanks again for reading,
Holly

And if you would like to follow me on the aforementioned social media, here’s the links:
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr.

Motivation 2015.

words - find a way

Procrastination is not your friend. I am fairly well acquainted with it and I know there are very few occasions, if any, when it could be seen to be a positive. I remember years ago reading a fairly generic article where various woman shared their best one – liners of advice and the main one, well, the only one I remember is so simple, but for me, so perfect – ‘Just do it, then it’s done’. It just made me think, if I could just apply this to so many things in my life, I would surely be more productive and most likely less distracted. Like with all those little things that niggle at the back of your mind – phone this person, email someone else, fix this, buy that, do this, do that, go here etc etc Whatever it is, I’m pretty sure we all have them… don’t we?! I go through phases where I get better at applying this to my life. If I need to fix something or email someone, I try to do it straight away. It is amazing, if a tad pathetic, the relief and satisfaction I seem to feel after dealing with these small, but irritating things, that simply just need to be done. So, I am writing this for myself, as a reminder, as much as I am for anyone else that perhaps needs a little push. If you want to be more focused, productive, and generally achieve more in your day, week, month… tick off those little, but necessary things on your list first, get them out the way and then you will hopefully be more focused with less distractions at the back of your mind to get on with what you really want to be doing. This could, I suppose in it’s own way be seen as procrastination as I have read people advise that the best way to be productive is to tackle the hardest/ biggest thing on your to do list first, otherwise you just circle around it all day and find other things you could be doing first. Perhaps this is the best tactic, I’m sure different ways work for different people. But the main advice in both is to start, take action… like, now!

Continuing on this thread, after receiving another email earlier from someone asking how I came about a certain commission, or client or how I did this or that, it made me come back to something which really gets me excited and motivated and realise that it is something I want to do more of this year – I want to motivate you, I want to inspire you and I want to help more people see that they are not fulfilling their potential and that they are so much more capable of so many things if they only put their mind to it. The more I give out this sort of advice, the more I question it… perhaps I’m wrong and not everyone is capable of what I think, maybe I should be more careful when I tell people to quit the job they hate, and have done for years, to take to the road and travel with no particular aim but just because they had a strong urge to. Maybe not everyone is strong enough to deal with the aftermath, the struggle to then help your reality take shape. Or maybe not enough people have even tried? And that is why more people don’t. If you are surrounded by people who just accept things as the way they are, and think they have no choice in the matter, then it is less likely that you will question that in your own life. Without trying to waffle too much, once I get into this I could go on for a whiiiile, here are my main two points, I think.

1. Question everything.

Ok, maybe not everything, but ‘question most things’ doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. All I mean is, if there is something in your life that you are not happy with, don’t just accept that there is no other option, feel sorry for yourself and continue with it. Question it.

It really is my belief that most people have an option, everything in their life was and is a choice. Once you accept this, it gives you control back, it’s exciting! What would you change if you could? Well guess what, you can! I know some will think I have my head in the clouds, but the reason I am close to 100% sure of it now, is because I did it, I changed things I wanted to, and I try hard to keep changing things that I am not happy with now.

2. Action is key.

Whatever it is you want to do, whether it be loose weight and get into shape, learn a new language or quit your job and do your creative thing full time/ freelance, you need to do more than think and talk about it. Obvious yes, but it is in our blood to talk the talk and so many people convince themselves that they mean it and will get around to going to the gym, or eating healthy, or looking for a new job, but it seems much rarer that people actually take action and do something about it. Which we have all done, and the reason is that it takes effort, and confidence and courage. But it feels amazing when you even take one small step towards it. My advice, is start with one small thing. What tiny step can you take towards your goal? Do it. Then figure out the next small step… you should congratulate yourself after each small step, because it is a lot more than thinking and talking about it. For example, if your goal is : to loose weight/ be healthier. Don’t be unrealistic, start with something achievable like, no snacks between meals. Or no snacks every day apart from Friday. Then maybe your next step could be to eat more veg every day. Then maybe your next small step – after you have kept up the previous two for a little while – could be to do 15 mins of exercise every day, or take the stairs instead of the lift (elevator) everyday, or do sit ups every other morning.

Ok less about vegetables, but I hope you get my point, if you can apply that method to whatever it is that you want to do, it does make it seem more achievable and therefore you are more likely to stick to it longer than a week.

This may be stating the obvious but actually I think sometimes when things are written down, or said out loud, they all of a sudden become so much clearer and therefore easier to put into action.

I don’t believe that January is the only time to make changes and resolutions, but it is as good a time as any, so I hope this has helped some of you feel a little more motivated with your goals or resolutions!

Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!
Holly
x