Getting healthy…1 year on & hitting reset

Getting healthy one year onI’ve been documenting my progress on ‘getting healthy,’ on my blog since I started which according to this post is now officially 1 year! I think it can be easy to get complacent when it comes to being healthy. When I first started thinking about trying to improve my health & fitness I was thinking about long term, small goals that I could fit into my lifestyle and sustain. I definitely made some good changes and learnt a lot throughout the year but just recently I’m feeling the need for a dose of motivation and to hit reset to get me back on track.
Beetroot & mint houmousOver the course of the year I have learnt a ton about nutrition (something I’m really interested in) it’s helped that there’s a health boom at the moment with the likes of Deliciously Ella, Madeleine Shaw and more encouraging us all to improve our lifestyles. Its easy to find inspiration for meals, recipe ideas and motivation on instagram too.  I’ve also learnt that making small, consistent steps towards goals is the best way to achieve them, not to strive for perfection all the time and to just try to be a little better than normal. This has meant as much as I’d love to only eat plant based, give up alcohol, not eat any refined sugar etc. I’m also a lot more realistic now with what works for me, let’s face it I like wine (and nachos…) However I know if I cut down on dairy, drink less alcohol and consume less refined sugar I feel really good so it’s always good to strive to be better.Half marathon finisherOver the course of a year my outlook has shifted (by focusing on the good) I’ve taken up running (and also the mindset that I’m capable of more than I thought) I’ve given up diet coke (a small goal but I feel a lot better for it!) I’ve lost weight and gained fitness, tried new exercises (ballet & zumba) and discovered a new way of eating that makes me feel good.Healthy 1 year onAs I write this I realise my good habits have slowly given way to a few old ones creeping in. I think this is mostly down to preparation and organisation (or lack of) not having an exercise goal or something to work towards and my motivation in general being low. I’ve been checking the post obsessively this week as the ballot results for the Virgin London Marathon are released this week and I’m crossing my fingers I might get a place. I know the demand is high but I’m hoping I might be lucky (or else get a charity place.) As the time has got nearer to finding out about places I’ve realised that (even though I’m terrified) I really want to run a marathon and I definitely feel like I need a goal to push me that bit further. I love running but I also like to have a purpose with exercise and I would love to raise more money for charity next year. I guess all will be revealed soon enough…

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Etsy shop launch!

Pet PortraitsToday I relaunched my Etsy shop! I started the shop a long time ago and never really did much with it. This time I’d love to create more custom and personal illustrations and offer affordable art prints and other bits and bobs. I’m looking forward to working on more personal projects and creating artwork that can be displayed in the home. It’s very early doors at the moment, I’ve got one listing currently and it’s for custom illustrated pet portraits like these. Can you recognise my girls?Pet Portraits ElsieIf you would like to commission a pet portrait I’m offering a single pet portrait for £50 (plus P&P) for a limited time. I’d love to draw some more examples of other lovely pets, it’s certainly not limited to pooches! Please do get in touch and stop by my etsy shop if you’re interested.Pet Portraits LillyYou can see more of my illustration work over on my website and if you spot anything you think would look great as a print do let me know, thanks for looking!

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New travel maps & food illustrations for Waitrose Kitchen

Galapagos mapI was asked to illustrate a few maps for the lovely team at Waitrose Kitchen magazine published in their September issue (where you can see the full set.) It was fun to incorporate some animals into my work too. I’ve been commissioned for a lot of maps recently and they’re always fun to work on because you learn something new with each one. I like working on the single elements and little drawings individually and then bringing them altogether to create the final piece. My work is all about layering and building – It’s fun constructing the illustrations in a similar way to piecing together a jigsaw puzzle. Although saying that I really admire artists who work on one canvas, there’s nothing better than seeing an original artwork in its full glory!Waitrose Kitchen mapsThe icons for Sri Lanka were particularly beautiful and I loved looking at photo’s of the sacred tree (Sri Maha Bodhiya) with it’s incredible trunk.

I also thought I’d share some of the little foodie illustrations I created for their August issue: Watercress, haddock, tender stem broccoli (yum!) artichoke hearts and spring onions. Their accompanying recipe of artichoke, goats’ cheese and lentil salad looks tasty too!August Love lifeI hope you’re having a happy start to your week.

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It’s in the little things Vol.2

little pleasures2A little follow on from my first post, here’s a few simple, happy things from this week…

1. Fresh flowers

These blooms were reduced to £1.99 at Waitrose which included the mason jar, bargain! I love sunflowers too they’re so nice to have around and really brighten up a room.

2. A full fridge and cooking again

We haven’t been very good with food planning lately so on Tuesday evening I did a big shop to get lots of veggies and fresh food and did some crazy bulk cooking and baking. I made a half batch of Deliciously Ella’s chocolate chia cookies & almond chia energy bites, a batch of granola bars, a big batch of Oh She Glows lentil and kale soup, some quinoa to add to recipes during the week and a Madeleine Shaw recipe from her Get the glow book for chickpea and lentil dahl with coconut cauliflower rice (first time trying cauli-rice, surprisingly tasty!)

3. Positive energy card

Everyone needs a little reminder to feel the positive vibes every now and again. The simple words + gold stamped lettering = perfection.

4. A new morning routine

I’ve started a new morning routine where I start each day with a walk. I get up with Chris at 7am and we’re out the door with dogs in tow by 7:30am. He drops me and the dogs off part way on his journey to work and we walk back home. We walk past some roads, a farm, some fields and then into the woods. There are some beautiful English cottages on the route too and it’s nice to be out first thing in the fresh air. I’m home by 8:30am ready to start the day and the dogs are ready to curl up and sleep off their walks (lucky them!)

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New illustration for Time Out magazine in association with Warner Bros

Time Out mapIt seems strange to be posting this illustration as I only just finished working on it last week and yesterday it was published! With editorial work the illustrations are often commissioned three months ahead so the pace of this project was fast but fun. I was really excited to be working with Time Out on this illustration as I remember contacting them way back (say…5 years ago now!) …Straight after graduating and this is the first time I’ve worked with them. This illustration is part of a four page spread in Time Out magazine for Warner Bro all about their new film Pan.

I was commissioned to create a map of London with all the locations that connect Peter Pan to London. It features Kensington Gardens – the place where author J.M Barrie was out walking his dog and first met the Davies family who inspired his stories. Great Ormond Street where J.M Barrie donated the copyright of all works featuring Peter to the children’s hospital. Lambeth – which is featured in the new film and a few more Pan related icons. You can see them in a bit more detail below.Map iconsThis project was so much fun to work on and evoked childhood memories of watching Peter Pan – I can’t wait for the new film! Thank you to Time Out for commissioning me.

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New illustration for BBC Good Food

illustration for BBC Good FoodI was asked by BBC Good Food magazine to create an illustration to accompany an eat well article in their September issue. The article by Sue Quinn was about how to read the label of the food you buy and understanding that products labelled ‘low fat,’ or ‘natural,’ may not be the healthiest. Healthy cerealI was really pleased to be asked to illustrate this as I think lack of education and understanding about nutrition is why we often make bad food choices. I recently watched Jamie Oliver’s documentary sugar rush where he is trying to introduce a tax on sugary drinks in the UK. I recommend watching it, it’s eye opening and shows the effect of sugar consumption on children and the NHS. It’s also crazy how much sugar we eat without realising! You can read more and sign the petition here.

Check out the September issue of BBC Good Food if you’d like to see the illustration in context with lots more tasty food related goodness. Hope you have a lovely (and healthy) week!

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Confessions of an illustrator – My five tips for surviving the quiet times

Confessions of an illustratorHello, I hope your week is off to a good start! This week also brings with it a new month and this month I pledge to blog more. If you’ve read my blog before you might be familiar with my ‘confessions of an illustrator,’ series. I’ve spoken about the highs and lows connected with having a creative career, money matters and three things I’ve learnt in three years. There’s also some great advice from some other illustrators in ‘Ask an illustrator,’ part one and part two. I hope these articles are helpful if you’re an aspiring/working illustrator.

Today I thought I would chat about the feast or famine aspect of freelancing. This is something that I have experienced myself being self employed and working as a freelance illustrator. It’s not to say I assume all fellow illustrators are the same but I thought I would share my thoughts and feelings on the subject because I think sometimes from the outside looking in things can appear somewhat different to the reality. I believe it’s important to not gloss over the real elements of being self employed.

The whole feast or famine aspect of freelancing (having loads of work and having none) seems to coincide with my all or nothing attitude. I like the idea of having lots of things on and multi tasking because I feel more productive and end up doing more with the time I have then if I had all the time in the world which can sometimes leave me wondering where to start and not actually starting anything…

On the one hand having little to no work can leave me feeling like an unemployed member of society whilst on the other having lots of work has me wishing for an assistant (or at least an extra pair of hands!) Unfortunately this can also create a turmoil of emotions from stressed to euphoric within a matter of hours/days/weeks/months. To everyone who puts up with me, I salute you, I really do. To other illustrators, do you feel this way or am I sitting alone on my imaginary emotional roller coaster?

It can be taxing on the people around you but also on your own poor emotional state (see roller coaster reference above.) It’s definitely something I have struggled with during this whole illustrator journey and something I convince myself gets easier with time. Perhaps it’s just the quiet times are less but I also think having a back log of ideas for when those quiet and busy times ensue is a good way to tackle feast or famine straight on.

My five tips for surviving the quiet times:

1. Enjoy. Umm this is somewhat ironic, no? I have no work but I’m meant to enjoy it…Well yes. It’s probably the best advice as once the jobs come rolling or crashing in (all hail positivity!) there will be no time for exercise, showers, eating, meeting friends. Enjoy that shower. It could be your last…

2. Channel your inner cheerleader (oh dear this is getting cheesy…) and get motivated. If you’re self employed no one else is gonna do the work for you. Sad but true. Start making plans, goals, new work, experiment a little, go back to unfinished pieces and finish them. Chances are a new job will roll in and you’ll still never complete that half finished picture. If it doesn’t your portfolio will gain some new work which could lead to paid work so it’s win, win.

3. Ask for advice. You could ask your friends, family, agent (anyone who’s willing…) to have a look at your portfolio or website. What’s missing? What are your strengths? Weaknesses? Maybe you could read some new business books or blogs, get some inspiration and think about the direction of your business and work.

4. Do something completely different. Being a creative can feel all consuming sometimes if you feel you have to be creating all the time. It can be nice to take a step back and do something completely unrelated perhaps not even creative to give yourself a new outlook and perspective and get you out of the illustration bubble. Hopefully it will inspire you or lead to new ideas and drawings!

5. Collaborate with your peers! I’m currently working on a collaboration with my talented friend and fellow illustrator Andrea Turvey. It’s a fun way to explore a new avenue of work and direction while getting advice and critique along the way. It’s also a good way to motivate yourself and each other.

I was going to share my tips for surviving busy times too as that also comes with it’s own unique set of challenges: time management, prioritising work, juggling deadlines/client emails etc. but I think a new post is in order judging by the length of this one. If you’ve read this far, thank you! Have you experienced the feast or famine aspects of freelancing? Please share your experiences and any other topics you’d like to know more about below in the comments, I’d love to hear!

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