25 June 2017

Where my heads at

This has been something that up until recently I have been tying desperately hard to ignore, I make it sound super dramatic don't I? It's not really I've just been struggling I guess with my mental Health right now things feel pretty hazy and I am relatively happy, my freelance life is sometimes the stem of my anxieties that fear of not having enough money at the end of the month to pay my bills is often what gets me a little stressed, but I suppose I love what I do so I just plough on. Life is ok I guess I have probably the worlds most supportive boyfriend that literally just lets me blub about everything and I think at times he feels a tad overwhelmed with the level of my grief with the loss of my Mum. 

The thing spurred me to pen this post was a recent youtube video I watched one of my favourite creatives Nancy Straughan  who talks candidly about her struggle with mental health, whilst I was laying in the bath (having to have some alone time) It really did make me feel less alone. I still live at home with my dad and 2 younger brothers, yep still at home at 28 but I bloody live in London and saving to buy house here is highly unlikely so right now it's just a stop gap while I save to hopefully eventually buy my own house, anyway she talked about the loss of her father when she was very young and the pressure that had on her growing up and having to look after a grieving mother, that kind of guilt is evident in mine and my siblings lives. The morning I lost my mother I felt like I had lost both parents. It's a tough thought but I look back over the last twenty months and as much as you should fend for yourself at 28 you're still learning about life and for me thats often alone. We don't have very close family members so we ended up struggling through our grief as siblings very much alone, not being able to turn to our father whose wife recently passed made the whole thing pretty bewildering. 

I think things feel very pressured at the moment I am at an age where you feel like you should have your shit together and I know as human we probably never do but sometimes to me it feels like I should have, probably from the outside looking in I live a pretty sweet life, freelance job, I am my own boss, I live in London I have a bit of a disposable income and I draw for a living, doesn't sound too strenuous but I think we all struggle through things and have our own battles behind closed doors.

I had taken the last 2 weeks off, this was pretty impromptu and wasn't planned my boyfriend had a car accident which meant I had to visit him while he was back home up north, he was safe and fine but it triggered another spate of anxious feelings, after you've suffered a loss the thought of others you love being hurt is a tough feeling to overcome so I took the time off to be with him and have a few adventures but gosh the feelings of guilt being away from desk were pretty overwhelming but those anxious feelings are being dealt with, I have struggled with anxieties since I was a little child like Nancy talks about in her video when you're that little you have no idea what they are and even now as adults it's hard to sometimes pinpoint what these odd feelings are, it feels to me sometimes that I have always had them and over time they have become part of my character and who I am. I know when they're coming on, I sometimes know what triggers them and to an extent I know how to squash the feelings before they become too much, my escape from these has always been drawing, I have a lot of people that message me about how prolific my drawing and portfolio is, this is because 90% of the time I am anxious about something so I draw and it just so happens that I make money and a living from my drawing that for the majority of the time it looks like I am working my ass off, I am but to stop the anxieties from becoming to overwhelming. Now you know my secret ha! I am lucky in the fact I can turn my stress into my job, but at times it does get too much and pressures of running a business or having high level clients can test my nerves. I have like a built in fear of failure it has always been there and it time I physically have to push myself to complete work, I love it once it's done but the fear of a client hating it or finding out I never trained as an illustrator plays on the mind until I painted the last stroke and posted it off. 

Imposter syndromes talked about a lot amongst creatives, we do something that is based on our talent and often we fear that one day someone will realise it's not because you have a talent its because you've blagged it thus far. But I guess listening to podcasts by the likes of Me and Orla (Sara tasker) are helping me push through the fact that sometimes I fear people will realise I studied fine art and no idea what I am doing in the illustration world.  I have found myself following people who I admire say they suffer from it too, so I don't feel to alone in that. 

There are new things I wish to succeed at like passing my driving test, sorting my work and living space out so it feels more inspiring and I am hoping by working on all the little bits things will slowly start to make me feel like I am succeeding more at life then I realise. 

I think at the moment things feel a little fraught, I feel like I should be far more successful, owning a house, socialising constantly, working loads and making more money. There are pressures there my logical brain is telling me to shut the hell up and enjoy the fact I have made it, I think back to my childhood dream, I wanted to paint for a living and I guess I do that minus the house by the sea but those things can be worked towards and saved up for. Once this somewhat depressive mood lifts (I hope soon) things will feel a td bit clearer for me. Things aren't always as bad as they seem and I'll just keep drawing and painting. 

22 June 2017

Recent sketchbook work

 So I have fallen back in love with my large square sketchbook, I am also a little bit obsessed with working with floral patterns and I have taken inspiration for Caitlin Shearer's cookbook photos, today I took a few hours of just painting, I have had a few days off with Ben which have really helped me just switch off from all my work and stress so I don't think my brain is yet ready to dive straight back in and thats ok, I have been exploring new ideas. I really want to bring out a series of items mainly clothing so I am working through different pattern ideas, this is probably why I am diving back into my sketchbook and just painting. 

The time away from work is always nice it was pretty abrupt and unplanned so I can't wait to share the photos of our little time away and adventures.


16 June 2017

I have been nominated for a Mollie Makes Award - product of the year

How exciting is this, I received an email a few or so ago telling me that my "Bloom where you are planted" vases has been shortlisted for Mollie Makes Product of the year award. Unlike the other awards this one is voted for by the readers and the public. So I would love it if you could possibly vote for the Vase to win

This vase was inspired by my late mother who was a florist, I know she would be really proud of me for being nominated. There are also some other really great products and other categories that are up on the website, head over and have a look

15 June 2017

Luxury Hotel Review - Lords of the Manor, Cotswold

There is nothing I loved more growing up then taking visits to the countryside with my family, so I had been to upper and lower slaughter but I had forgotten just how beautiful it was. Ben and I had the wonderful privialge of staying the night at possibly the swankiest hotel I've stayed at Lords of the Manor . The hotel it self is an old Manor House and the part we were staying the night in was the oldest part I believe it had been a rectory. So I was excited to learn about the history and the chance to stay in a luxury hotel. 
Driving from London to the Cotswold isn't too much of a journey and the scenery was so quaint and British, we detoured through Burford which is pretty picturesque and iconic. Now both me and Ben were pretty excited about visiting and whilst Ben had just come from work I think his excitement was too much and spent the afternoon napping while I wrote, drew and read. It proved to be a pretty peaceful place to find inspiration, as it's so in the Cotswolds there is practically no outside noise other then the rain hitting the window Paynes. 

I decided to make an effort and wear something nice as there is often a dress code for dinner so we knew that the food that would be served would be pretty amazing and we weren't let down as a vegatraian there were a few options for me which is always encouraging. We had three courses set out for us so we had a lovely night of food ahead of us, one of my favourite discoveries was the hand made butter that beautifully flavoured I probably could of happy just eaten the bread and butter for the rest of the meal.

The rest of our meal was beautifully severed and the waiters were just amazing keeping us entertained and welcomed. Both me and Ben had such a rememberable meal and Ben was so pleased with his mains.

After dinner we decided to sit in the bar area that felt like you were comfortably sitting in someones living room.

I do struggle to sleep in general Ben was out like a light and both of us did have a lovely nights sleep, I dont think I have ever slept in a four poster bed before so, it definitely made for a good nights sleep.
I was really excited for breakfast as it is one of my favourite things when I stay in a hotel and I wasn't disappointed we walked into the dinning all and there were all manners of food waiting for us. I enjoyed a coffee toast, fruit salad and a few pastries 

For me what was such a wonderful surprise was the amount of amazing art work that filled the walls of the Manor House I was giving a little tour of the building and as a fine art graduate as well as being the biggest history geek I really loved be taken around and told the history of the house. I was really impressed with the lovely staff that waited on us hand and foot and gave us one of the best stays I've ever had. Would high recommend a nights stay especially in the summer the seating outside has the most wonderful views and the local countryside is worth a wander. 


10 June 2017

Top summer ice tea recipes

So I have teamed up with Newby Tea to share with my favourite of their summer ice tea recipes

Newby Tea have a range of 25 blends inspired by the craft and heritage of fine tea.I have always been a big fan of ice teas in the summer its super healthy and is so refreshing. So to coincide with it being National Ice tea day, if you use the code ICETEA you get 15% off how fab is that!

I have decided to share with you two of my favourite flavours

What you will need

ice cubes
chill water
kettle for brewing
Tea pot or jug for brewing
Newby classic tea bags
fresh fruit and herbs to garnish

Green Lemon Iced TeaMethod: Brew 3 Newby Green Lemon Tea Bags at 80C for 3 minutes in a pot or jug. Leave to cool and then pour the tea into a glass filled with ice. Stir the mixture and top up with a little chilled water. Garnish with lemon and lime pieces and serve. 

Berry Mint Iced Green TeaMethod:Brew 1 Newby Summer Berries tea bag, 1 Newby Peppermint Tea Bag and 1 Newby Green Sencha Tea Bag at 85C for 4 minutes in a pot or jug. Leave to cool and then pour the tea into a glass filled with ice. Stir the mixture and top up with a little chilled water. Garnish with mixed frozen berries or redcurrants, blackcurrants, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries and add a sprig of mint to finish, then serve.

Strawberry & Mango Iced Black Tea  
Brew 2 Newby Strawberry and Mango tea bags at 100C for 4 minutes in a pot or jug.
Leave to cool and then pour the tea into a glass filled with ice.
Stir the mixture and top up with a little chilled water.
Garnish with fresh strawberries and serve.
You can share you Newby tea creations using the hashtag #Newbyteas 


5 June 2017

Baileys book prize illustrated series - The Dark Circle and The Power And Give Away

For the final instalment of my illustrated versions of the Bailey prize book covers comes my very favourite illustrations in the series The Dark Circle is written by Linda Grant, it proves to be a gripping read set in 1949 after the war and people are getting back to normality, the book starts in the East End of London following Twins, both poorly end up in a sanitarium in Kent, hence the favourite part of the illustration a big giant poster. 

I wanted to give the illustration a slight vintage feel and the chairs I illustrated in this image are based around a set my Grandma had in her front room, When ever I think of the 1940's I think of my Grandma so that was really helpful as a reference to colours that felt like I could include in this piece. 

Now the power proved to be a really dynamic illustration and I love the giant lighting bolt lamp, The Power written by Namoi Alderman, I am in fact half way through this wonderful book, women in this novel have the power, they are capable of inflicting such strenght through their fingers tips that it really makes you look at the world differently. The front cover of the book is actually pretty striking and I wanted to get the contrast in colours and the deep meaning behind the book in this one simple illustration. 

So you can see part one of my illustrated series with the Baileys Prize on there here blog series one features stay with me and do not say we have nothing and the second installemnt features The Sport of Kings and First Love 

I wanted to take the time to wish all the female writer that have been shortlisted the best of luck, its been a wonderful challenge creating these pieces. 

Now for the fun part you can win yourself the entire short list along with a bottle of Original Baileys Irish cream then Please head over to Instagram 

How toEnter 
2. Like the post 

*Illustration and post have been sponsored but all illustrations and words are my own

3 June 2017

Baileys Prize illustrated Series - First Love and The sport of Kings

Now for the second instalment of my fab collaboration with Bailey's Prize I wanted to bring elements of the books in the illustrations so I felt like the interior set in the book first love would be more homely and lived in, over looking West Brompton station is my favourite part of the illustration, the book it's is a riveting read and at times had me rather curious as to the direction it was going to lead. Don't be fooled by its simple exterior it is well written and I can see why it has been shortlisted for the prize.

For my fourth Illustration comes the sport of Kings, now this book is something else beautifully written by C. E. Morgan (I've always dreamt of writing a book and using my initial I think its pretty mysterious anyway!)

The book itself dives into the lives of two families that are worlds apart one a privileged white family with strong families ties to the founders of Kentucky and a African American family descended from slaves, mix in the competitive sport of horse racing, money and lust and you can imagine it's truly a gripping read. It is a hefty book and I must admit I am only half way through but it is up there with some of my favourite books. So I wanted to bring some vibrancy and colour to the illustration. 

You can find out more about the books shortlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2017 here

I have a further 2  more illustrations to share over the coming days before the winner is announced on Wednesday. Follow me and Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction on Instagram and Twitter - @_ellamasters_ and @baileysprize. *

*Illustration and post have been sponsored but all illustrations and words are my own


2 June 2017

dealing with buyers guilt

I am not talking little purchase from Primark in this post, If anyone has recently read my twitter will have seen a tweet stating that I had finally bitten the built and brought myself a new MacBook, to a few people that probably sounds a bit like so what?! but for a year or so I have been putting it off because the fear of parting with the money was just to much for me, now a lot of people have pointed out that I do work hard granted it still doesn't make the feeling of guilt subside any quicker. 

I have been propping my original MacBook screen with one hand and editing with the other making a normal job probably take an extra couple of hours hence the delay in blog posts, poor quality youtube videos and delays in orders. It was hard for me to order it, I was shaking I am not going to lie ha! silly as it's only money but being a freelancer waiting on invoices to clears it's a pretty intimidating process to part with the money. 

But I am going to focus on the fact  that I have this new and amazing piece of equipment that I can now work on and create some fab pieces of work, I still need to get the likes of Word and bite the bullet and pay for the latest Photoshop but I feel that I am slowly not letting the past memories of my childhood of arguing over the lack of money to guilt trip me from the essentials of my business. 

1 June 2017

Baileys Prize Illustrated series - Do not say we have nothing and Stay with me

This wonderful collaboration has been really hard to keep under wraps for the last few months. I am such an advocate of female writers, female artists and basically female anything so when I learnt that the Baileys Prize wanted to work with me to create six unique illustrations based around the shortlisted book covers I jumped at the chance. 
The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction is one of the most prestigious literary awards - previously called the Orange Prize for Fiction - and as someone who probably reads a book a week this was perfect for me. 

So you can imagine the collaboration sparked my creativity combining my love of books and drawing. The books and illustrations will be divided up into three posts with no real order, and over the next few days you will be in with the chance of winning yourself the whole stack of shortlisted books! 
First up, and probably my favorite so far to illustrate, is Do Not Say We Have Nothing, by Madeleine Thien. This book is set in Canada with a narration that really pulls the reader in as young Marie and her mother invite a Chinese lady who has fled the Tiananmen Square protest. For the illustration I wanted to bring in the patterns and traditional tea that China is well known for. I enjoyed being able to put elements of the book into the illustration.

Second up is the beautifully written Stay With Me, by Ayobami Adebayo. Now this book cover totally appealed to me straight away, who doesn't love a palm leaf or two?! But hidden behind the beautiful cover lies a story of jealousy, betrayal and despair. Set in Nigeria in the 1980's at a very turbulent time, Ayobami Adebayo is the same age as me and this beautifully written piece of fiction surpasses someone of her age. I tried to create a peaceful illustration opposed to the story that's filled with heart break. I decided complementary and calming colours would look best alongside my signature floral and palm design.

You can find out more about the books shortlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2017 here
I have a further 4 more illustrations to share over the coming days before the winner is announced on Wednesday. Follow me and Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction on Instagram and Twitter - @_ellamasters_ and @baileysprize. *

*Illustration and post have been sponsored but all illustrations and words are my own
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