Trust in YOU.

As per usual, it has been over a month since I last posted something on here. I have actually drafted a few posts, but some I am still working on, and others the timing doesn’t feel quite right, yet… I have had some intense creating time recently – which involved painting for long hours to create some new work for Breeze gallery here in Scotland. It had probably been a few months since I had painted that intensely, and it really felt like it was needed. It is such an amazing feeling to let something out that has been inside of you, and sometimes weighing you down, the whole process is quite cathartic. However, like with most creative things, and with most things that are worth doing, it also comes with some element of struggle. Struggle to not over think what you are doing, and why, trying to not question your work too much, and trying to come up against and cross this weird threshold that seems to hold you back from finishing anything at times. Thankfully I was under a nice amount of pressure – ie not too much, but it was still there – which meant I knew I had to finish them, rather than leaving them in this strange limbo where it’s as if by leaving them there you have some excuse as to why they ‘don’t work’. Maybe to some of you that made no sense at all, but I am hoping some of you creatives out there, from all creative disciplines, can relate to what I am talking about, even if I didn’t word it in the best way.

Since then, it now leaves me with a mass catch up operation. Yawn. This involves emails, making my new website (which has been ‘in progress’ for so long now it is starting to hurt >< ) , and the tedium that is photoshopping what feels like endless amounts of scans/ files so that they are ready for web/ printing. I have been wondering if I need to do a class in photoshop as it is quite possible there is a quicker way to do what I am doing… and I know I have a bad track record for inadvertently making things harder for myself. Anyway, my, longwinded, point is that because I haven’t been doing anything that creative for the last week or so, I am once again flooded, with a running commentary of words all jumbled up from everything I have thought/ learnt/ listened to / conversed about of late. It’s like I have too many to make any sense of. And they often hit me at times when I can’t actually put them down on paper, like when I am driving and listening to music, or if I am out for a walk by myself, or exercising, basically at times when my mind is allowed to wander. Which is a bit weird because I am by no means a writer, but I think perhaps because I don’t currently have a creative outlet whilst I am doing all the tedious stuff, that therefore I have to explode my creative stuff in some other way, and it has started to come out in words. Maybe because in some ways it is more instant, that’s what it feels like for me anyway, like I can off load a tonne of stuff quite quickly and it is like a weight has been lifted, or like a sense of having achieved something.

So I did start to write this to explain why I finally managed to unearth some sense and some direction to be able to hone in on a topic amongst all the other noise/ commentary in my head. And here it begins, the thing I actually sat down to write about(!) :

I came across this article the other day, an interview with none other than THE real life Erin Brockovich. Which many of you may know because of the film in 2000 where Julia Roberts played her. And if I am honest, is still one of my favourite films. It inspires me, and I love the whole idea of someone fighting against something that many would deem impossible/ insurmountable. (And even more so because the someone in this case is a woman!! *and I think women are amazing*) I also feel this is an apt moment to quote from another brilliant (!) film, also based on a true story, that I re-watched recently, ‘The Imitation Game’

“Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things no one can imagine”.

The quote below however, was the main catapult to put my thoughts into words. Mainly because, upon reflection, this concept was the main thing I learnt for myself last year, 2015. There were a few instances with my work, and decisions I had to make/ risks I chose to take in relation to my work, but also in my personal life (needless to say there is a very grey line where one starts and the other ends) where it was pointed out to me, mainly by a few of my nearest and dearest friends that I need to believe in my own decisions more, and trust in them more. I was actually taken aback when it was first said to me, even the language I was using was almost like justifying a decision in some way. I hadn’t even realised this was something I did. It was like my default, to think that someone else always knows better than me. It was also one of my great yoga teachers that made a similar point, that with some of the biggest decisions in our lives, we often turn to someone else for help, he used the example of buying a house, we entrust the help of a solicitor etc – and pay them a lot of money to do so! Now, I am not sure it is even possible to sell or buy a property without that in the UK, but if you think about it, it is a bit crazy, especially when I know many people who are so frustrated by the incapabilities of their solicitors in these instances, missing details at the start and quite basic things which then hold up the whole process, and yet we still pay them thousands to do this for us.

Erin B quote

Of course I accept and acknowledge that sometimes someone else does know best, sometimes I need someone that has the experience, or expertise or knowledge that I simply don’t have, and I hope I will be humble enough to take their advice. However I also know I still need to practice, as I’m sure many others do, to listen to myself and look back on how well I have managed so far, in a lot of aspects in my life, and usually through my own decisions, and hard work etc. So why would I stop trusting that sometimes I do know best? I can’t help but think that we live in a society where it is commonplace to assume that you do not know best and to often pay someone else or look to someone else for the answer. Perhaps we wouldn’t have many of the problems we do if more people took charge of their lives and situations, and spoke up about certain things. Rather than think just because you are young, or old, or because you don’t have this or that, or you don’t have a certain qualification, does that mean your opinion, thoughts or ideas don’t matter?

One last quote, on that note, that I saw on Instagram, so not sure who even said it, but it made me laugh, and is also very true! :

“Don’t let anyone tell you you’re too young to accomplish something.
A baby shark is still a fucking shark”

-Holly

x

http://www.hollysharpe.com
@hollysharpe

 

A little corner of my world

studio corner

Above is a recent photo of one little corner of my studio, and of course my world (!) when I stayed late to keep painting. – see more pics on my Instagram.

I just wanted to post a quick update on what I have been doing recently as I feel like, once again, time is somewhat escaping me and I haven’t been able to keep up to date with everything that I wanted to (what’s new). But I think it is important to keep swimming, and flow with it, rather than resist what is trying to happen to you and instead embrace what is coming your way. Not always so easy to do, especially when we get caught up and fixated on something that we are so desperate to make happen.

Storm - H.Sharpe Close up of ‘Storm’

The main focus I have been working on for most of this year, is creating new watercolour paintings for Breeze gallery here in Scotland (see above image). I feel really lucky to have a very supportive outlet to create new originals for. They really believe in me and my work, and of course that is always encouraging. So in some ways it feels like my illustration work is taking a slight side step, but then I like to think that it isn’t always necessary to define this work or that work and decide what you do and what you don’t do, as a creative person this scope is so broad and as much as it is good to have a focus, I do not want to be bound by any title or genre. And I know I am not alone in feeling like this, for anyone else that is very creative and has many ideas and directions all at the same time, it is sometimes a struggle to ‘manage’ it all and find the ‘right’ direction. So as I said before, I try to go with it and embrace what is working, and what I most enjoy doing at that moment in time, and this usually helps to produce the best work, if it feels right, and isn’t forced. So for me, right now, I am painting, a lot. And drawing. I draw before I paint which is part of my process. As well as trying to create lots of new colourful, sunshine-filled watercolours, I have also been busy with a few private commissions for individuals, all very special and unique in themselves. And then there is all the background stuff, seeing to my online shop, trying to create a new website (my on-going saga) , and constantly trying to make my studio a bit more organised and less messy…. but then I start drawing/ painting and it all gets a bit crazy again! There is probably lots more that I can’t think of right now… but that is my brief work update for now!  – oh and stay tuned on the new website… I *hope*

-Holly
x
http://www.hollysharpe.com

BE. inspired.

Sky - Holly Sharpe
‘Sky’ (sold)

Spring is here, and along with that so much light, everywhere, and a strong sense of hope. That is how I feel anyway. I love this time of year, when it feels like anything is possible and each day is getting longer – in Scotland anyway… Hopefully these words are uplifting in some way…. I wrote them on my phone on the bus after meeting a friend who was full of energy and enthusiasm and it made me light up and want to share it.

Let yourself be inspired.
Seek inspiration.
It is everywhere.
Don’t see it? Think your life is boring and the same every day?
That is your mind and the way it has been conditioned to think that life is dull, boring, and unexciting.
Open your eyes. Open your heart, and let in the thing that is always there, it longs to break free and escape the mundane.
All you have to do is change your perspective and see things differently. It all comes from your mind.
Everything you look at will change, if you change your mind.
Walk on the other side of the road.
Drive a different way to work.
Smile at someone.
Start a conversation with someone you wouldn’t usually.
Smile.
Speak like you mean it.
Act like you mean it.
Do everything with more awareness.
If you are more aware you will start to notice even small glimpses of hope, and little opportunities that you don’t even realise you usually walk straight by because you decided that you are stuck and that you don’t deserve better.
If you do even small things and start to change your mind, your heart, and see things differently, I promise you your world will start to open up. Things and people will come your way, if you believe it is possible for things to change, they will.

This is all a practice. It is about breaking long term bad mental habits, like being negative and not seeing opportunities but rather always feeling stuck and like there is no option. And instead to practice building up good mental habits, like choosing to be happy, trying to think with clarity and remember that there is always a solution. Whatever situation you feel trapped in, there will be a solution. It might not be an easy one, but, if you don’t scale the mountain, you won’t see the view….

-Holly
x

http://www.hollysharpe.com
Image from my Instagram

 

Fashion. Diaries. day 9.

D&amp;G H.Sharpe 05

Here is my latest (and slightly overdue!) fashion illustration of the INCREDIBLE D&G Alta Moda collection. Images from Vogue.com >> 

I really hope to have time to draw more from the collection..

D&amp;G H.Sharpe 01

http://www.hollysharpe.com

Fashion. Diaries. day 8.

Elie SAAB: Holly Sharpe 3

Elie SAAB: Holly Sharpe wip

Here is my latest Fashion sketch…

Based on images from the Trend Council website of the Elie Saab SS16 Couture collection. It is a beautiful collection… but it did leave me craving some bright colours after looking at it for a while! Above is a work in progress pic of my starting point with quink ink ^^

The final image is ink, pencil and a touch of a brush pen to give it some colour… the ink base did mean the overall image is much darker than the dress/ image in the flesh… but hopefully I still captured something of it… If I was to critique it myself… I would say my image is a bit too heavy compared with the essence of the collection… I have turned it a bit gothic/ dark, which wasn’t intentional necessarily. I think I might have subconsciously been trying to make it edgier/ more dramatic, and with that perhaps loosing the romantic, delicate feel of the collection..Something to keep in mind for next time perhaps…

Elie SAAB: Holly Sharpe 4

Elie Saab: Holly Sharpe 1

Holly, x

http://www.hollysharpe.com

Fashion Diaries. day 7.

photo 1

ERD_0511

photo 4

Tried to keep things loose with this one and didn’t spend very long on it at all…it’s always easier to keep things quick and loose if I go straight in with the ink, which I did, and then added some watercolour to bring out the colour, and then finished it off with some pencil detail here and there. Although would maybe like to go back in and add some detail with pen… or will just leave it as it is and move on to another one!

I love Erdem. This is from there Fall 2015 ready-to-wear collection.

Back with more soon..,

Holly x

http://www.hollysharpe.com

Fashion Diaries. day 6.

Matthew williamson scan low res

Matthew Williamson pencil

My latest fashion diaries illustration! Did this one back in the comfort of my studio, so possibly why it feels a lot looser than the previous ones, or maybe also because the dress itself is quite floaty… I would say this is actually more my usual style anyway… however it is always nice to play around with different ways of approaching the illustrations. I quite liked it just in pencil (above) before I added ink and watercolour and some pen details (below)…

Matthew Williamson Fall 2015 ready-to-wear

Matthew Williamson close up -H.Sharpe

Matthew Williamson with colour - H.Sharpe

Hope to have more for you soon!
Holly
x
http://www.hollysharpe.com

Drawing Fashion II

McQueen photo 3

 ‘Roses de McQueen’
details here.

As you may have read in a previous post (here), in April I decided to focus on creating as many new fashion drawings/ sketches as I could, to tie in with the fashion illustration workshops which I was also doing in April. I thought this would be a good way to ensure that my skills were up to date in order to teach and encourage those coming to the workshops, but it also gave me a focus and a chance to experiment with new ways of working and play with new mediums. So that is exactly what I did! I felt like I was learning again, and was therefore able to keep things fresh, and from my point of view – exciting. So, I have now put the most successful results from my month of fashion drawings online here and you can see some of them below. I had time to make a couple of the sketches into larger scale illustrations, which I hope to do more of as I don’t feel finished with this yet, but wanted to get the ones that I had finished online to show you before things got too carried away.. Overall I learnt that my new favourite medium is quink ink! It is lovely to work with, but also a tricky one to master as every mark is irreversible… so the key is layers and layers of building up watery ink, oh so delicately and carefully… that being said, when it goes well, it is a very fluid way to work and you can work relatively quickly, so I like the immediacy of it. I used this way of working with the ‘ink shadow’ portraits which was a lovely way to experiment with bringing this sensitivity but being able to work quite quickly with the ink… I mainly focused on capturing the light and shadows, which I suppose I always do in a way, but I felt the quink ink really lent itself to this shadow-chasing approach… I also learnt, as I have many a time, that things always take longer than you think, and I was perhaps over- ambitious as to what I could achieve, and how much (good quality) work I could produce in the space of just over a month… not sure if I will ever learn in that respect!

Anyway, I hope you will like my latest series of fashion drawings, you can see them all here where they are also available to buy as originals and prints, and some of my personal favourites below.

Thanks for reading,

Holly

Ink Shadows III print 72 dpi HOLLY SHARPE

‘Ink Shadows III’  details here

INK Shadows IV 72 dpi

‘Ink Shadows IV’ 

Ink shadows V 72 dpi print HOLLY SHARPE

‘Ink Shadows V’

Drawing Fashion II 72 dpi - HOLLY SHARPE

‘Drawing Fashion II’

April print 72 dpi HOLLY SHARPE

‘April’
details here.

April II print 72 dpi HOLLY SHARPE

‘April II’

details here.

http://www.hollysharpe.com

twitter: @hollysharpe

Channelling energy and emotions through art.

Weightless-final-for-web

‘Weightless’

“There’s such a fetish for happiness these days, it’s as if there’s no place left for being sad. But sadness, in the form of melancholy or even depression, can be a source of creativity. From Hamlet to TS Eliot, it’s the opposite of happiness that more often produces the finest lines” – Robert Rowland Smith

Since a number of people have commented on the fact that a lot of the girls I draw look sad… I thought I would try and offer something of an explanation as to why this might be.

Firstly, I like to think that there is much more depth to my work than sadness, there are layers and complexities, just as in human emotions. Secondly, not everyone may like to read any form of ‘explanation’, because after all it us ultimately up to the viewer, the observer of the work to determine what they see in any piece of art, in any painting, film, book etc, everyone has their unique interpretation of it. So with that in mind, the following is simply an attempt at an analysis of my own work, which I probably won’t do terribly well as that is the reason for creating visual art in the first place… (“If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint” – Edward Hopper) So if you like my work as it is and need no further words, but simply like it just because, then please don’t feel the need to keep reading, and also thank you for liking my work in the first place…

Everyone will, or probably already has, experienced deep pain, of the emotional variety I mean. The truth is, in my opinion, is that every human is so very fragile, even if they perhaps don’t admit it to the world, or even to themselves. The more I know of the world and of people, the more I believe this to be true, and I don’t think there are any exceptions. As we grow up we each adapt and learn different ways of coping with this affliction – or many simply don’t cope.

I am definitely not saying that I am solely expressing pain through my work, it is more that I use it to create work. I use pain, but I also use the array of thoughts, emotions, experiences, things out of my control and things that can never be answered, I use all of it. So when someone asks me what inspires me, it is quite tricky to answer, because yes, I am inspired by music, people, colour and nature, but the glue, the fire where this all accumulates and turns into work, is what is inside of me. I struggle to explain this in words properly as it is not as if I sit down and decide to dig up all these feelings etc inside of me, it is just a part of me, and my work is a part of me, whether that is conscious or not I’m not sure, but that is why, of course sometimes the girls in my drawings look sad, because sometimes I am sad, or have been sad. Perhaps that is putting it too simply, because when it happens, it often feels as if I am not even fully in control of it, it is like I have managed to tap into a source within me and sometimes it seems to explode all over the page I am drawing/ painting on. But sometimes I can’t even tap into it, it’s like it isn’t there.

The connection between emotions and creating art is of course not a new one, and should definitely be used to it’s full potential more. If we gave the creative arts even more credit in terms of helping people through stress, depression or ptsd for example, perhaps we could end this battle and stigma which surrounds mental health in the first place.

Alain de Botton, a philosopher I respect a lot (I have probably mentioned him in my blog before!), talks about this idea of art as therapy a lot. I have yet to read it, but here is a link to his book on such matters.

If you don’t feel like reading the book, here is a short video where he touches on the subject, and if you don’t feel like watching the video, here are a couple of my favourite quotes from him in the video:

On art : ‘Illuminating aspects of our deeper selves’

On the purpose of art: ‘To find an echo of our deepest and most complex sorrows …. To help us to live and to die’

Fade-FOR-WEB Almost - print 72 dpi

‘Fade’                                                              ‘Almost’

I have also heard him talk about a word ‘Sublimation’, which my translation of means to channel and use complex emotions within us and turn them into art whether that be visual art, writing, or of course music. He explains it better in his words here:

 “One of the unexpectedly important things that art can do for us is teach us how to suffer more successfully. … We can see a great deal of artistic achievement as “sublimated” sorrow on the part of the artist, and in turn, in its reception, on the part of the audience. The term sublimation derives from chemistry. It names the process by which a solid substance is directly transformed into a gas, without first becoming liquid. In art, sublimation refers to the psychological processes of transformation, in which base and unimpressive experiences are converted into something noble and fine — exactly what may happen when sorrow meets art.”

Perhaps there is a more specific word for what I am referring to. Whatever you want to call it, it is extremely powerful. It can propel you through the hardest times, it can force you to keep on working, keep on pushing, in a way these are the best times for creating your best work. When you get too comfortable and have no worries about life, relationships, or money matters, where is the drive? Where is the force keeping you aiming, striving.

I am a generally a positive person, and I try to find ways to maintain this – a balanced lifestyle, yoga, meditation etc. But in this troubled world, – which there is no denying is what it is, you don’t have to look very far to see so – there are always going to be days or weeks when you feel negative and struggle to stay motivated and upbeat. No one is happy all the time, and if they say they are they are either 1. Lying 2. In denial (i.e lying to themselves) or 3. Have managed to reach enlightenment (nirvana) and nothing bothers them anymore. If, you are like most people, and your day to day life is filled with ups and downs, if you have not yet found that something, or things, that help you channel this into something powerful, I encourage you to find out where and what it is. Once you can use this energy for something positive, it makes it a whole lot easier to pull yourself out of a negative space.

And on that note, I want to add that I feel extremely lucky to have this thing that I feel like I can always turn to, and that will always be there, I don’t think I will ever stop creating and that alone brings me great comfort.

Thanks again for reading,

Holly

http://www.hollysharpe.com

twitter: @hollysharpe

Shadows Limited Edtion FOR WEB
‘Shadows’

Client work = Brodies tea packaging

Last year I was approached by Threebrand to work with them on packaging for Brodies, coffee and tea merchants from Edinburgh. I had to do a watercolour illustration – following a brief for each – for 6 different teas for their new pyramid tea collection. It was a great project to work on, and I am thrilled with the beautiful outcome. And, free tea is always a bonus when you’re a tea fiend like me!
-You can see more images of the final illustrations and final products on my Béhance portfolio here. Below is a selection of some of my favourite images from work in progress pics, final illustrations and of course the final tea packaging!

WIP Holly SharpeGreen tea wip H.Sharpe 02

Green tea with japanese cherry - H.Sharpe
Peppermint wip H.Sharpe 02

Peppermint -H.SharpeRed berry crush 02 -H.Sharpe

Earl Grey 05 - H.SharpeEnglish Breakfast - H.Sharpetrio - H.Sharpe 72


Holly

http://www.hollysharpe.com

ps – the teas are delicious!