Hello. Some people may have noticed that there has been a slight gap between this post and my last one. Around a year or so. In which case I thought it might be best to explain why, in case I came across as inconsistant or lazy. I also thought that the reasons migth be of help to anyone else who's going (or has gone) through a battle against Depression, Anxiety and a general lack of self-confidence with their work.

In a nut shell, I was doing some CBT (cognative behavioural therapy) which was bringing up issues and feelings that I was having trouble getting past and as the months wore on I was getting more and more frustrated. Things had been going well but I couldn't seem to move beyond a certain point. I knew what was being said and what I needed to do but my brain, sponge as it is, didn't want to take on board what I was learning even though I was getting the concept. Eventually I had what you might call a mini-breakdown (or meltdown, relapse or 'muppet related incident') Not like a full breakdown which I had back in 2000 because I could still think for myself, but only just. Anyhoo,  after breaking down in front of anyone I talked too for the next few days, I was eventually put on Diazepam and Anti-Depressants and spent most of the summer in a pleasnt haze not thinking much about anything. Then it came time to start coming off them before they became adictive and that took several months and wasn't easy. When I finally came off the Diazepam (aka Valium) I came down with protracted withdrawal symptoms which lasted another month or so. So due to one thing or another I spent the last year not producing any art and trying to recover mentally. It was very frustrating having to take more time out but there wasn't a lot I could do.

However, this was actually a good thing. Honestly! Because up till now I had always gone on the assumption that the Anxiety I suffered when I was a teen had developed into Depression. What I discovered was the Depression was a symptom of Anxiety and that they were both there. And further more, I wasn't going to be able to deal with the Depression until I'd dealt with the Anxiety and that's why nothing was sticking. I was too stressed and too mentally tired. This was a massive eye opener to me and when I started researching and doing things to cope with that everything else started, slowly, to get better.

What helped me get through this were some very supportive and wise people and some books which I strongly recomend to anyone who is suffering from Anxiety and Depression. They've helped me slow down, change diet and habbits and understand what is normal in regard to personality and biology. Which chemicals may not be being naturally produced by your body such as Seratonin and Beta-endorphins, why you have to maintain blood sugar levels and why there are some aspects of
you whole make up that you should embrace instead of trying to change. The titles are listed below;


SELF HELP FOR YOUR NERVES by Dr Claire Weeks
Isbn - 978-0-7225-3155-6

COPING WITH A STRESSED NERVOUS SYSTEM - Autnomic Overload Explained by Dr Kenneth Hambly and Alice Muir
Isbn - 0-85969-946-3

OVERCOMING SHYNESS AND SOCIAL ANXIETY by Ruth Searle
Isbn - 978-1-84709-032-4


Good luck if you are trying to sort yourself out and if you try any of these books then I hope they are as useful for you as they were for me :)

 
 
This Blog first appeared on the art marketing site Artonomy as a guest Blog and all I've done is re-post it here pretty in pretty much the same format. If you would like to see it presented much better than I've done here then here is the link -
http://www.artonomy.co/2013/03/02/self-confidence-artists/

I'd always liked art and enjoyed creating it. When I was at school I was confident enough to think that I would get a good grade and was told that I would. I'd figured I'd move on to Art College and hopefully a career. Even though we'd had four different teachers in four years, when the last one ran through the list of things we should have done (and hadn't) I was still expecting good things. At that point I was young and surrounded by people giving me words of encouragement and support. I thought I could pretty much do what I wanted and that meant making a career from art. I was positive and looking forward to the future.

So it came as a great and horrible surprise that I didn't pass. I went into a kind of shock and just stopped doing art. My confidence was gone. Someone, somewhere, who carried a great deal of weight, had decided they didn't agree with everyone else. I never knew why or where I'd gone wrong. I may have had the support but I didn't have the experience and because other areas of my life weren't so good I thought that my one chance had gone.  I stopped listening to the sage advice from people telling me it was just a hic-up, that I could get back on my feet and try again and all the other supportive stuff they were saying. It seemed very black and white to my inexperienced eyes.

Roll on twenty years or so and I happened upon an architect's shop in France. It showed some of his stuff and it was amazing. And I realised that the interest was still there and so was the desire. But my situation was different and so those supportive people I'd been surrounded with had moved on or moved away. The people I was with at the time were not the same and there was one friend in particular who taught me how bad it can be to be surrounded by the wrong kind of people. In fact he taught me so many lessons at once I wonder sometimes if things really do happen for a reason.

It turned out that this chap had tried to sell his art before. When I first saw his work (he'd hung some of his originals on the walls of his flat) I thought he was good but after he told me how good he really was I thought he was fantastic. I wasn't sure about some things but, because he was so good, I figured it must be that I wasn't as good as him. I hadn't learned enough or got it right. He told me that he had made some prints (a massive amount - 500 I think, A1 or A2 size) and had sold around 3. He went on to say that there was no point in even trying because if he hadn't sold any of his there was no way I was going to sell any of mine. At various points he would tell me how things should be drawn or what everyone expected when they looked at other people's work. I can't remember how long I lived under this guy's shadow thinking there was no hope for someone as inferior as me and I never realised until now how much damage was being done. . Not just by him but by me for allowing him to do it. (Then again, I was suffering from Depression very badly at this point)

I learned many things from this. Firstly, that if you have absolute confidence that what you do is good, you can convince other people of that too. You can almost sweep them along in your enthusiasm. Even if you have doubts like I did about some of his work, you can end up thinking that of someone is so good, those doubts must be misplaced. If this chaps's confidence hadn't further into arrogance who knows where he might be today/ I'm not saying that you should convince other people that you are good (that's up to them to decide) but what it shows me is if you have confidence in yourself you won't care about those who don't. And you won't give up either.

It also shows me that you have to have patience. You can't give up at the first obstacle like my friend did or I did and you can't always expect things to go right first time. I don't think that's not the same as not believing in yourself but more in trusting that things will work out. That you may need to pick yourself up off the floor a few times as you go. That it's ok to fail and then succeed.

Thirdly, it's not for other people to tell you if you are going to succeed or not. Not only do they not know the future but they are not you. They failed. It doesn't mean you will. It does mean that they didn't have the patience or work ethic but not that you don't.

Lastly, it showed me that when your heads not in a good place or if you are very trusting of people (as artists often are) then their words and thoughts can have a massive effect on you. I believed this guy he was very confident in himself and his work, I was very unconfident in myself and mine and because he was a friend I trusted his opinion. But he (and the majority of people I thought were 'real' friends at the time) never offered any real encouragement or support. Just told me it wouldn't work or wasn't good enough and that became my perception regarding art until about 2 years ago. The thing was I never even realised that until I was shown. So not only is having the wrong people around you going to keep you down and view your future negatively but these thoughts become a pattern that you can end up taking with you without even realising it.

The support and encouragement given to me when I failed to pass my O-level must have sunk in. Without it I would have totally given up as a kid and deffinitely when my friend tried to tell me I wasn't good enough. If you are unlucky enough to have been surrounded by people who put you down because it didn't work for them or who never offered you any kind of support then it can only be bad for you. If you can offer support and encouragement to someone else then it might make a world of difference to them. It is difficult accepting that people you may have known for a long time and regard as friends are actually bad for you. It may take a lot of soul searching and effort to admit that it's true and if you are like me, there's a lot of resistance before the penny drops. It is also very difficult to 'un-believe' something you've been believing in for a long time.

In the end, I let go of the people who were bad for me. While it was very tough it's actually been one of the best things I've done. The effects of those templates are still there, such as the perfectionism, but they are so much smaller than they were and getting smaller all the time. I know that one day soon they'll be gone. It takes time to re-program your head and to believe that things that have been so negative can be so positive. And it's hard to make some decisions even if you know they are the right ones but it's worth it. Things also come easier to some people than others but if any of the above sounds like stuff you are going through then take heart that things can change and it doesn't matter if they take a while it's the result that counts.
Best of luck!

 
 
Hi there,
Ever since I started my site a couple of months ago I've been wondering about the kinds of things I should write about and which things someone else might find interesting or relevent. Lately, I've been struggling with things to do with art and where I want to be in the future, so I figured this might be the kind of thing people would like to know about. That there were probably other peope out there who thought about the same things and would find it reassuring to know that other people did too. I know when I realised I wasn't alone it was a great relief - not because it solved any problems right then but because it wasn't just me.

It probably helps to explain that I've had Depression for most of my life and Chronic Depression at that. Most of this stemmed from being bullied at school and it created a template and a pettern of thinking that I took into my adult life and have only now begun to shake. I'd like to say I'm sorted but I'm 'almost' sorted. This template was full of the most negative and self-destructive stuff that created negative movies of me, in the future, where I was never going to succeed and never going to be good enough. As such I have spent most of my life frustrated and confused as to why things never worked out for me even though I so desperately wanted them to, with all my heart. I always looked at people who seemed 'happy' and 'successful' and wondered why I wasn't one of them. I always saw it as working for them and not for me. I know now that this isn't true and that my depression and negative thinking was my minds way of protecting me from change which it saw as harmful but which had gone way over the top. There was nothing wrong with me, simply that I needed to re-train my mind and stop it being over protective.

Artistic Temperament
I've always struggled with Artistic Temperament and all the things that went with it. I thought that these were things that all artists went through. When I began exploring Self-belief, Artistic Temperament started to conflict with it which made me even more confused and frustrated. The things I'm talking about here are things like comparing yourself to other artists, perfectionism and never being good enough, self doubt and second guessing, thinking that your work is cr*p and it will never sell. I now realise that these are simply insecurities that don't help becuase when viewd this way they are negative things. When you come to realise that what you do IS good enough and you truly BELIEVE that you will succeed then these same things are no longer a problem. For me, I started to see them as things that are part of being an artist but without the feeling that somehow I had failed or was inadequate. I understood that I was never going to be perfect no matter how hard I tried but that not thinking about it didn't mean I wouldn't try to improve and do the best I can neither did it mean I had taken my eye off the ball. I understood that there will alwyas be people who can do some things better or differently than you but what you do is unique and just as good to some people. I understand that your work is never cr*p. It has value to someone! Just look at modern art and how some people rave at it and how others (like myself I'm afraid) can't stand it yet these same artists are making huge amounts of money and gaining lots of recognition. Perhaps the most important thing I have learned is that YOU are your own worst critic and that if you can't please yourself and like what you do then you can't expect or be surprised if no one else does. In fact I have found that if you really enjoy what you do then it shows and people pick up on it. Maybe you're somehow putting some positive energy into your work or it's just better, I don't know. I just know that it seems to be true and 'why' doesn't matter.

Belief
Believing in myself and my goals is a lesson that's taken me a long time to learn because it's one I've found incredibly difficult to get my head around. Put simply, Belief states that 'If you Believe - you WILL. If you don't Believe then you WONT.' My primitive mind was feeding me all these negative thoughts as too why that wasn't or couldn't be true so I kept resisting. But thanks to a very persitent therapist and I guess, perstence on my part, I kept going until it hit me! Well, more like slapped me about a bit until I finally twigged. And when you do believe you inderstand it has nothing to do with being good enough, with how good other people are, with your work being perfect or the stuff you've done in the past not being the same standard as it is now. It's knowing that you have the desire to want something and belief that you WILL achieve it, regardless of where you are right now. In fact it's understanding that success has nothing to do with 'being good enough' at all. You know that you will do whatever you need to in order to get there and you'll have fun doing it. I'm looking at my list of goals and thinking 'this is going to be great when I've got these done' and I NEVER thought I would hear myself say that!

I have to mention that in my quest to 'get sorted' I've come across some very nice and helpful people, either in person or via web sites and a couple of them deserve a quick mention. The first is Jeremy Thorpe who is a Hynoptherapist living in Devon and I can't recommend him enough. (I'm sure it's ok to put his details here but I'm gonna check first.) 
If you would like to know more about what he does (and Hypnotherapy is just one of them) then please let me know and I'll get back to you asap. The other perosn I wanted to mention is a lady called Helen Aldous who has a website called Artonomy, which is dediacted to helping arty and crafty people become successful as well as offering lots of wise and helpfull advice, mainly though her (and her contributors) blogs. She took the time to reply to my emails and is a very nice person. Her site is - http://www.artonomy.co/

Anyhoo, I hope this blog has been of some help to someone. If anything I hope it helps to know that no matter how cr*p you can feel or how low your self esteem and confidence you're not nuts and there's nothing wrong with you! It's something that with some effort and perseverance can be turned around and you can become one of the 'happy people' without the happy pills. Good luck!

Take care. . . . .


 
 
I guess inspiration can come from anywhere or anyone but I find most of mine comes from nature. It tends to be all year round and usually doesn't matter where you go but there are times of the year when you get things for a short while and you have to make the most of them. In particular, Mushrooms and Toadstools, which are generally around for a couple of months during the Autumn. While there are some that can be found throughout the year this is definately the best time to see them.

They've always fascinated me, partly because they are so unusual with their colours and shapes and partly because they never seem to be quite 'real'. By that I mean some look like they belong in a Fairytail while others in a Horror movie or from some Fantasy Book. Others can make things look ancient. Some of the colours are so varied it's like they're living Gem Stones. Even the browns and greys have enough variations to make them interesting.

So a while ago I bought a book on Mushrooms and Toadstools and decided to see what I could find, especially as I found a couple of cool ones last year and didn't have a clue what they were. Now I realise they are everywhere and unless you know what you are looking for you could be standing right beside them and not see them.  Of course I'm far from being an expert which is why half my identifications are sketchy to say the least and if anyone can identify a Toadstool for me that would be great. Otherwise I'll start making them up and hope no one notices.

Nature's Tower Blocks

I came across a fantastic Tree stump in a local woodland called the Plantation near Bovey Tracey in Devon. There were two stumps, one being bigger than the other, and both were covered in mushrooms. It just struck me how many of them were tigtly packed into little groups kind of like an Oriental Shanty town. In terms of art, I figured it may one day make a great picture either as it is or with a Fantasy or Sci-fi slant. The caps could be tiled and there could be ladders and stairways connecting them. Maybe piping and other stuff. Possibly the tree trunk could be rock and if the scale 's brought down then it's like the inhabitants have got their own woodland growing up the side of the rock face prompting me to wonder why they don't venture down on the ground. What else is living there and why so close to each other? Also, do the Tree stumps engage in block war like they have in Judge Dredd?
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Toadstool Treestump - with the other stump in the background
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Toadstool Treestump
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Blueleg Brownie (or Funeral Bell)
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Blueleg Brownie (or Funeral Bell)
This log was found in Parke Estate which is a National Trust property in Bovey Tracy, Devon. Just one fallen tree covered with some kind of Bonnet mushroom. Kind of like a Horizontal version of a Tower Block. For some of the pics I had to use a flash as light levels were poor but it does show them up very well. Again, it's looks to me like a load of fantasy buildings all crammed together for some reason. The Honey Fungus and Sulphur Tuft again demonstrate maximum use of space.
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Toadstool Log
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Toadstool Log
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Common or Clustered Bonnet
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Common or Clustered Bonnet
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Common or Clustered Bonnet
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Honey Fungus
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Sulphur Tuft

Colours

Having flicked through the photos in my trusty new book I was amazed to see the variety and intensity of the colours you can get. I'm sure most of us have seen the fantastic Fly Agaric in our time (bright red with white spots) so you have some idea of what I mean but there are examples for every colour of the spectrum, even blue. I haven't been able to find some of the best ones but here are some of the ones I have found this year.
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Amethyst Deceiver - young
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Amethyst Deceiver - older
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Amethyst Deceiver - older
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Candlesnuff Fungus
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Yellow Stagshorn (I think)
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Meadow Coral (or Yellow Stagshorn - not sure)
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???
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Milking Bonnet
The Lumpy Bracket over on the far right is white and pale green but I understand that the green is cause by an algae that lives only in this fungus and nowhere else.
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Silver Leaf Fungus
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Oysterlings
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Rufous Milkcap
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Lumpy Bracket

Textures

Most Toadstools and Mushrooms look pretty smooth but some are very textured, especially when viewed close up. The Puffballs are covered in spikes and nodules and the Wood Hedgehog is just weird underneath.

By the way, the £2 coin on the Parosol mushroom is at least an inch across (but I think more) so it shows you how big these ones were. When they get older the stem can't support the weight of the caps and they collapse.
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Puffball or Earth Star
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Puffball or Earth Star
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Puffball or Earth Star
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Parasol
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Parasol with £2 coin for scale
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Shaggy Parasol
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Wood Hedgehog

Shapes

Sometimes I think mushrooms have very strange shapes and sometimes they form strange shapes. The Turkey Tail on the end of the log looks like a frame for something and the Silver Leaf at the end looks like the edges have been crimped by a machine.
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Turkey Tail
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Turkey Tail
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Turkey Tail
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Some kind of Chanterelle
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No idea
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You think this would be easy to identify???
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Don't know
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Possibly a Silver Leaf Fungus
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Wood Hedgehog

Freaky

I reckon there are some shrooms out there that are staright out of a HP Lovecraft book. They look so strange and 'wrong' they can't help looking sinister. The one which I think is a version of one called Yellow Brain (the name itself is bad enough) looks and feels like jelly. I can't rule out spores from another Galaxy so I'll have to keep an eye out for tenticles growing on me where they shouldn't! (which implies there are areas where tentacles should grow?) One of them seemed to be growing upside down with a blob on it (it was part of a group that were all like it), the Dapperling one makes me think of Spiders (I have a Spider phobia) and the pink one with a hole is just wrong on so many levels. The yucky one reminds me of the giant insect at the end of the Starship Troopers film.
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Yellow Brain
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Yellow Brain
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Yellow Brain
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Upright Coral
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Just yukky
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If it twitches I'm outta here!
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Dapperling, possibly
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Pink Funnel - I made that up and it sounds a little gross
The orange ones look like discs that have landed on the branch and are clinging on. If I saw them move I probably wouldn't be surprised. Well, I would. The Ink Cap doesn't seem too bad except for the fluffy white hairs at the base of the stem which seem to make it a liitle strange. Plus the fact that it was found inside a treestump and while there were loads of other types around this was the only one of its kind. Probably a scout then.
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Orangy flappy things
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Some kind of Ink Cap?

 

Hello!

08/29/2012

105 Comments

 
Hi there and welcome to my first Blog, ever! I've got no experience writing these kinda things so I'm probably going to be making most of it up as I go. Once I get the hang of it, it'll probably still seem like I'm making it up. 

What I hope to do is let you know which projects I'm doing or are planning to do in the future and if you have any questions while I'm doing them I'll be happy to answer them. I'll try and add pics  and photos where I can and any comments or tips would be cool. If I'm aware of any events happening locally then I'll mention them and if there are any you would like me to mention then that's fine. Just send me the details. 

So, briefly, what I'm doing at the moment is finishing a picture of a Gorgon with Garter Snakes for hair and which seems to have taken for ever and then I plan to start either a Cat or a Wolf . For the scenery I have some large projects that I've been planning to start for a while - an Industrial / Post Apocalyptic style factory,  a Medieval / Fantasy style town and a Lizardman Temple City. I'll go into detail as and when I start them. I also have some small bits of scenery that need 'tweaking' and then I can put them in the shop. 


Anyhoo, thanks for stopping by my Website and I hope you'll come back soon!