My lovely friend Alex recently sat for me. I had asked to paint her for a few reasons;
1. She is one of the most beautiful people I know – both inside and out!
2.She has been a huge supporter of my work, right from the beginning …. and a cup of tea or (more likely) glass of wine with Alex can set the world to rights on days when I am questioning what the hell I am doing with my life.
3.I knew it would be fun and we could have a bit of a catch up …..
And we did! But what surprised me most about the whole process, was the fact that this stunningly beautiful girl was actually really self conscious. I took some snaps on the day and made the mistake of letting her see some when she asked. “Noooooo! Ugh, I look awful. Delete, Delete, Delete! Pleeease!” No-one likes themselves in photographs (unless perhaps you are Gisele)! But in the end, Alex put her trust in me and I’m so glad she did.
I must admit to being super nervous to show her this work. I tried so many versions before I eventually stripped the whole thing back and just made it about the lines of her face and her eyes – pretty much the first thing I noticed about her.
Anyway, I hope I did her justice. Thanks again Alex! x
Being an illustrator is not like being an accountant or a lawyer. It’s not what you might call a secure career path. In fact, it’s not a straightforward career path. You’re not necessarily guaranteed a career in illustration just by doing a degree in that subject (mind you, you’re not guaranteed a career as a lawyer just by doing a law degree, but you catch my drift). You have to work HARD, be professional, grow a thick skin and learn to bounce back, move forward, be self motivated, keep going even when you’re at a real low point – because that’s usually when something really good happens.
But the hardest thing of all, I have found, is learning to shut out all the negative voices. It has taken me a while. Perhaps this is a British thing? Some of my lovely American friends, use words like “wonderful” when discussing my career path and say things like “you have a real gift. I’m so thrilled you’re capitalising on it”. A gift? …… Me? ……..Really?! Even the ones that don’t gush quite so much give off an air of support and understanding when we talk about my chosen career. Perhaps it’s just more a part of the American psyche to go after your dreams?!
Anyway, of course I have very supportive British friends, not to mention an incredibly supportive family and husband, but over the years I have heard a variety of comments from people who perhaps don’t know me so well. “When are you going to get a proper job?” Seems to be a bit of a classic and it usually comes from somebody who doesn’t love their own job. Another recent one stemmed from somebody who knows my husband (and also hates her well paying job) “but Helen just draws all day, that’s easy”. Hmmmm.
Then of course there are the negative voices you project onto others when they innocently ask “how are things going?”, “Are you busy?”, “sold any paintings recently?” Of course, these could just come from a well meaning friend or acquaintance trying to make conversation, but because you have heard the classic “when are you going to get a real job” a few too many times, you start to project this as sub text.
So the trick I have found is to learn to shut out all of the negative voices (whenever possible) and only focus on the good.
Another trick I have learned is to ask myself – “what would Adele do?” Sounds ridiculous I know but I just LOVE her. Her music kicks a$$. She is extremely talented and works very hard but more to the point you get the feeling that she wouldn’t take any nonsense. Cut her off mid acceptance speech and what does she do? Gives the middle finger to the fat cats while being shown live to the nation!
Now, I’m not saying I’m going to start being abrasive. Not even close. But with Adele, you get the sense that it’s all about the music. She doesn’t seem to give a stuff what anyone else thinks and if she does, she does a good job of hiding it. She knew what she wanted from a young age and she has gone out and gotten it. Perhaps us polite girls could all stand to be a little more like Adele.
What do you think? Anyone else encountered a similar scenario?
*Seriously, if you ever need your ego boosted, just hang out with an American (a nice one that is) – it works wonders.
So …. when putting together my new website/blog, I started looking through my illustrations, deciding what to add to get me started. I created this one back in winter and it was inspired by an especially beautiful and what looked like ubber flattering (on the six foot gorgeous model that is) winter outfit as shown on the Burberry catwalk at London Fashion Week earlier this year. I absolutely love Burberry and though, for now, it is somewhat out of my price range, this image and the images I found of Burberry’s glorious winter range got me thinking about what I am going to wear this Autumn to stay warm. This may sound mad – given that it is currently mid July and I am about to embark on a summer holiday to Southern Italy later this week and the fact that the British weather has FINALLY started to resemble something a little more like SUMMER – woohoo!
However, when I went shopping last week to snap up some last minute summer clothing deals ahead of my holiday (there are sales everywhere!), I was disappointed NOT to be able to buy myself the kind of frilly/pretty bikini that would do my petite frame a thousand favours. All of my size had sold out! Moreover, I couldn’t help but notice all the invitingly new looking Autumn/Winter stock already available in store.
I have therefore made a deal with myself to look for a new and flattering winter coat early this year – before all my size sells out! It might not be Burberry – but perhaps I’ll look in Reiss, before the Duchess of Cambridge decides to wear something stunning from there and then that sells out too!
I absolutely LOVE mens clothing on women – especially men’s watches and shirts and shoes! There’s something very sexy about it – perhaps its because men’s clothing doesn’t show too much flesh, or perhaps wearing men’s clothing and accessories serves to highlight our femininity – who knows? This gorgeous androgynous outfit stood out for me at Antoni and Alison’s show at London Fashion Week.