IT MUST BE LOVE!

It’s coming up for Valentines and/ or Galentines if you prefer is a great day to celebrate love and friendship.

So if you’re thinking of making a heartfelt card for your love to say ‘I Love You’, ‘Be Mine’ or for the completely romantically challenged ‘You’ll Do’… I’ve created a handy download to get your started…

Share your creations with me on socials, I would LOVE to see them. Links below… you can always PM me pics.





The Magical Stress Busting Powers of Creativity.

As an Art School graduate and someone who has been creative all my life I always knew I enjoyed making things. It wasn’t till I discovered Calligraphy and the wonderful calming, brain boosting effects it provided that I realised I didn’t just enjoy being creative, I needed it.  This made me look further into the health benefits of being creative and, without sounding too evangelical, I’d like to share some of the interesting things I’ve discovered along the way..

But first, let’s have a bit of background!

We live in a ridiculously fast paced world, we’re ‘switched on’ all the time at our desks, on our phones, tablets and computers. We are in demand and the pressure of managing a work/ life balance is intense. How often do you get to stop, and breathe, and just be you for a little bit? Not very often i’d imagine!

Allowing your brain time to pause and think (or perhaps not think at all!) is almost classed as a luxury these days. Mindfulness and Meditation has seen a rise in popularity, yoga classes are packed and yet we’re still a stressed out nation.

I tried meditation when I was stressed but found out very quickly I couldn’t do ‘nothing’, even though the nothing was supposed to be good for me.  My mind was scattered, I couldn’t concentrate, ten minutes felt like a veeeery long time and I got distracted. I thought I had failed at the first hurdle destined to live stressed out my nut for the rest of my days, but it turned out I just hadn’t found the right stress busting activity.

Finding your calm/ reducing your stress/ clearing your mind/ looking after yourself, whatever you want to call it… it’s all about discovering what works for you! If, like me, you struggle with meditation then perhaps you need an activity that helps you to find that quiet place in your brain. The practice of calligraphy and the repetitive actions help focus your mind on what you’re doing, so by default your brain starts to turn off the stress.

You soon find that you forget about the report you have to write, or the worries you have about your family, work and life. The more you practice the better you become, so you also feel a sense of achievement which boosts your mood! It’s a win/ win situation really. More often than not, what started out as a ‘I’ll just do ten minutes of this’ turns into, ‘whoops where did the last hour go!’ I’ve lost days to drawing, there are significant amounts of beans on toast been consumed in my household as I exchanged dinner prep for calligraphy but do you know what? I’m totally cool with that.

So going back to why I started writing this, here are my top 5 facts about creativity and its magical stress busting powers, snuggle in… we’re going to get emotional.

5 FACTS about WHY creativity IS GOOD FOR YOU

1.     Brain Boostin’

Engaging in creative tasks promotes the production of new neurons, which are crucial for maintaining a healthy central nervous system.

Neurons are the clever things that make your brain work… so basically being creative makes you more intelligent. Anything that promotes neuron growth sounds good to me!

2.     Stress Bustin’

A study in Taiwan discovered that the practice of calligraphy had a greater calming effect than meditation. Participants who took part in the calligraphy workshop demonstrated a more significant reduction in their stress levels than those who took part in the meditation workshops.

 Additional studies have found that the practice of Chinese calligraphic handwriting has the ability to decrease your heart rate and increase your skin temperature – so it calms your heart as well as your brain, that has to be a good thing!  These principles can be applied to the practice of modern calligraphy too.

There’s a Buddhist monk called Thich Nhat Hanh who practices calligraphy for mindfulness, and has exhibited his work all over the world in order to raise awareness of this form of mindfulness. For him it’s not just about the act of creating but the calming effect on his mind, controlling his breathing, slowing his heart and feeling ‘grounded’.

3.     Future Proofin’

CNN reports that people who take on craft-based projects in midlife and older have a 45 percent less chance of developing cognitive issues such as dementia.
— https://edition.cnn.com/2015/04/09/health/creativity-socializing-delay-dementia/

But it’s not just CNN, there have been a number of studies looking into the correlation of being creative and how this can help stave off Dementia and Alzheimer’s. Keeping an active brain is essential for good brain health, challenging yourself with creative activities is a key way to achieve this.   

4.     Totes Emosh!

Creative activities have been shown to improve overall emotional health. The AJPH notes that creativity increases our control over emotional pain and depression
— https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2804629/

Art Therapy has been around for years and while there will always be a select bunch that regard it with disdain it’s benefits to body, mind and soul is clear! Being creative a great way to express yourself, work out how you are feeling and use it as a release for your emotions.

In addition, calligraphy has recently been tested with cancer patients as a way to reduce depression. While further testing needs to be completed before any conclusive outcome can be reported the initial stages are showing that the practice of calligraphy is improving the mood of the patients who are taking part.

The Influence of Art Making on Anxiety: A Pilot Study also revealed the psychological effects of creating art. It is said to "significantly reduce a person's state of anxiety" and has led to conversations about the use of art therapy to help students deal with stress for a calmer university life.

5.     It Doesn’t take long - Make Time

It has been said that just 30 minutes of being creative can reduce your stress levels and I am a huge believer in this! Being creative is not just about how ‘good’ the final outcome is, I am more inclined to believe that the process of creating is more important than the outcome. The very act of creating something inspires a sense of contentment which plays a major part in reducing the feelings of stress and anxiety

While you may read this and think it all sounds little idealistic there are many, many studies that have hard facts about how being creative is so good for you. Neurologists are now encouraging people with brain injuries to seek out creative activities citing neuron growth as a major factor - I got so excited when I was told this! It was like someone was reading my neurons… a little brain joke for you there. You’re welcome.

FINAL MYTHBUSTER before i go…

While I would like to think that whoever reads this will feel inspired enough to pick up a pen I’m very aware that a lot of people find it hard to be creative and don’t do anything because they’re not ‘good at art’. I’d like to dispel this myth right here, right now.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE GOOD AT ART TO BE CREATIVE.

Shockeroony! Creativity comes in many forms and you don’t need to be ‘good’ at it, you just need to enjoy it!

What if it’s rubbish? So what! Did you enjoy the process?

What if it looks like your 2 year old niece made it? Who cares, did you have fun making it? And anyway, were you planning on selling it in Southebys next to a Banksy?!

It’s not good enough. Good enough for who? Reassess why you’re being creative, make sure you’re doing it for you not anyone else! The chances are you’re not planning a side hustle in watercolour pet portraits but if you really enjoy painting pictures of your sausage dog then keep doing it!

Creativity is about cutting loose, shaking off your day and relaxing into something that lets your brain run free.

Whether it’s knitting, doodling, drawing, colouring in, cooking, painting, making lampshades, pottery, music, poetry, dancing, singing, writing, cutting and sticking, paper craft or simply sitting down and doing some calligraphy drills - try it all at least once, find out what you enjoy and what helps you to switch off your brain.

(Did I mention I teach modern calligraphy?! (shameless self promotion.)

Thank you for getting through this whopping blog, I hope it’s inspired you to try something new. I’d love to hear about new creative things you’ve tried!

With love to your stressed out brains.

Jen xx

I’ve added some sources below that I have referenced above but I do plan to keep adding to this list as time goes on.

SOURCES FOR MY RAMBLINGS

https://www.themindfulword.org/2012/mindful-calligraphy-thich-nhat-hanh/

https://artfromthestreets.org/blogs/news/five-great-mental-health-benefits-of-art   

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2804629/

http://www.artsforhealth.org/resources/VAE_Restoring_the_Balance.pdf

https://theculturetrip.com/europe/united-kingdom/articles/is-calligraphy-good-for-your-mental-health/

http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/documents/projects-programmes-and-initiatives/arts-and-mental-health-creative-collisions-and-critical-conversations/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/arts-and-health/201606/art-making-and-stress-reduction

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/study-says-making-art-reduces-stress_us_576183ece4b09c926cfdccac

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2015/08/25/why-making-art-is-the-new-meditation/?utm_term=.5b57b2bdb39c

https://www.verywellmind.com/art-therapy-relieve-stress-by-being-creative-3144581

 

 

Festive Freebie!

To quote that very famous Slade song… iiiitttt’s Christmaaaassss!

Well nearly and what better way to celebrate than by making your own cards and tags? Yes! Do you need a little help? I thought maybe you’d like to have some festive freebies avaiable to help wow your friends and family!

Click on the button below and you’ll grab a freebie and I won’t even ask you to give me your email… but you can if you’re feeling friendly.

Finally, if these freebies aren’t enough there’s a further five pages available to download for only £5 on my store!

toasty festive freebies

Glasgow Workshops in June and July

With the June dates selling like ice lollies on a hot day we have added a couple more Beginners Brush Pen Calligraphy to the mix! You can now book the 14th June or the 11th July to join us at the Braw Wee Emporium for a three-hour workshop.. trust me, three hours absolutely whizz by!

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May The 4th Be With You... and the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th.....

STAR WARS FANS.... i've only gone and popped a wee exhibition up in R:Cade Glasgow!

welcome to the bark side

WELCOME

TO THE BARK SIDE

Launching on the 4th the exhibition is in collaboration with Mark who's composite photos of Star Wars in Glasgow are infamous! 

R:cade is an amazing place, it's got games, it's got shooty things, it's got guitar hero, it's got noodles, it's got crafts, and it's got crabs (seriously there's a game called crabs). It's got everything you want for a fun wee evening and I highly recommend you give it a go though watch out, the games can get quite addictive - My brother nearly took Mark out wrestling to get crabs. yup, that's my brother everyone. 

Don't forget there's prints on sale, both A3 and a4 along with some cute little 'I love you, i know' originals of which there are only 10! 

Visit the R:cade website here.

The exhibition is running till the end of May, no excuses... go visit and have a game or two while you're there! 

A love letter to London

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I recently spent a few days in London, it’s hard not to fall in love with this city as there’s so much to see and do... and many lovely pubs for a revitalising glass of wine.

It was a real treat to take myself away and indulge. I visited a heap of places including the V&A, the Science Museum (space yay!), the Museum of Natural History (dinosaurs yay!), the Design Museum, the Wellcome Collection and the incredible, mind boggling neon heaven of Gods Own Junkyard - you have to visit here!

I took a trip to the theatre to see Kinky Boots, ate some tasty food and visited some fantastic art shops thanks to my lovely calligraphy friend @lettered.by.beth.  (Check out her beautiful insta!)

Each day I created a visual diary of my adventures - not only does this look good but it’s also a great reminder of the trip as I have a terrible memory! 

So long London, it was a brief affair but let's do it again soon!

A great big party... oh and a wedding.

Never one to shy away from a challenge I was excited to be asked to do these awesome invitations for Hayley and Mark- two very awesome people who decided to spend the rest of their lives together and were having a massive party to celebrate.

I loved the collaborative design concept for the invitation - the cover image drawn by Neil Slorance and they let me loose on the inside with a very open brief. It went a little along these lines...'we like your writing, we like that fadey colour thing you did on that other thing and please don't use the phrase 'getting married... '

pencil sketches

BUT WAIT!

How do you write a wedding invitation without using the phrase 'getting married'?

Google my friend, a lot of Google!

Spliced, Hitched, Wed, tying the knot... there were many options, so I sent over some suggestions. 

It was clear, the main focus was to be on the fact it was a celebration. A great big party with all their favourite people. The fact they were getting... erm... hitched was a side line. 

I started with pencil sketches, testing layout options and wording before streamlining the chosen design and testing in pen. Here's a selection of options that I worked on, you can see the process here from pencil sketch above through liner, adding colour and the final invite.

The final product included a small number of fully hand written invitations with envelope and a digital versions for printing. Can you see the difference between the digital and the hand written in the gallery below?

I'm really pleased with the final versions of both the digital and the handwritten. It was a challenge – especially to get the hand written ones as close to identical as possible. I had to keep reminding myself that it was highly unlikely that their day guests were going to stand and compare invites… but you have to keep your standards high, right!

It was a challenge but I really enjoyed the whole process and I'm delighted that Mark and Hayley loved them too. Wishing them both many happy years together <3

The final product

MATERIALS USED

Tombow dual tips and blender, Pentel Touch Sign Pens and some really nice fine liners that I never remember! Ipad Pro, Procreate, photoshop and a lot of coffee.

 

Star Wars in Glasgow

The pen is mightier than the... lightsaber? 

I have been asked by my friend Mark Boyle Design to take part in an exhibition he's curating. It's called Star Wars in Glasgow and technically this is the second, so does that make it Episode V? I'm not sure I've got my head around the order of the films, someone help... I'm way out my depth.... ahh this backpack is a rucksack....

Da Vader- Toasty Type

Da Vader- Toasty Type

Anyway, back to the matter at hand, the exhibition. I was asked to pull a few pieces together so I've been having a hoot translating well-known phrases from the films into Glaswegian... Da Vader on the right here for example.

I feel rather chuffed to be invited alongside some pretty awesome creatives.... including Neil SloranceMatty ,Tanya Roberts and Mark... wowsers. Have a look at the teaser images here.

The exhibition opens on the 3rd Nov for the month at Drury Street Bar and Kitchen. You should come along, it's going to be diverse, it's going to be entertaining and you might even bag yourself a limited edition print, or start your Christmas shopping early!

There will be prints on-sale with money going towards charity (the exact one we are still deliberating over but i'll update when it's been decided!) So stick the date in your diary, I can't wait to see it all come together.

This exhibition is a great excuse to dig out this picture again. Ha ha!

This exhibition is a great excuse to dig out this picture again. Ha ha!

No Opportunity

I'm a bit slow off the mark with this one but you can forgive me, right? It's time I took the opportunity to give the guys at Jam Hot design a huge big thanks for adding my little poster into their 'No Opportunity' exhibition at the Veneer Gallery in the West End.

The show featured a lot of really cool designs from some emerging designers and artists and was a great chance to see what everyone is up to!

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Here's a close up of my piece... one of very few hand drawn designs at the event.

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And here it is in situ... surrounded by digital pieces! While i now look at it and think... gads, I could have done so much more it's important to get your work out there.. it's the start of many more opportunities i hope! Thanks again guys, you're the best :) 

Three styles of bouncing

Modern Calligraphy comes in many forms but an extremely popular style at the moment is what you'd call 'Bounce' lettering.. where the letters bounce along the page and don't seem to sit still!

Nib and Ink

Nib and Ink

Bounce lettering, in a slightly more technical form means that the upstrokes or the downstrokes have been extended, often the scale has been played with and some of the traditional rules have been thrown out the window- hurrah! All of this means that the words seem to bounce along the page - it looks free and flowing,  a far more informal style to the traditional copperplate calligraphy... and i like it, a lot. 

If I'm honest, I'm not very good at keeping within the lines at the best of times so this style does seems to be a favourite of mine. Any excuse to bend the rules and push it a little outside the box! 

I thought it might be interesting to show three different ways in which I practice the bounce... it may look free and easy but you still have to practice... A LOT!

 

 

 
Ecoline Pens and Dip Ink

Ecoline Pens and Dip Ink

Drawing Pen for clean thin lines... none of this brushy business here!

Drawing Pen for clean thin lines... none of this brushy business here!

The first image is in the standard drill format... lines upon lines of the same shapes, working the muscle memory and aiming for consistency. Changing the tools often creates a different style so the other two pictures are of nib and ink bounce alphabet practice and a big, thick, inky Ecoline alphabet. It's pretty awesome to see the difference between the materials... which is your favourite?

You are gold, GOLD!

Always believe in your souuuuulll.

Oh Finetec, I love you. 

I finally caved and bought some of the finetec inks and OH. MY. DAYS... it was worth it. 

In my order was the 6 pack, an extra rose gold ink, a Brause Rose nib, Zebra G nib and a new oblique holder with a metal flange. What a treat! I immediately sat down and started working out what to do. These little ink blocks need to be wet then you paint the ink into your nib rather than dipping into a pot. It's a bit time consuming but oh so worth doing. Just look at this glorious ink!

Finetec Ink 2
Finetec Ink
 

It's probably best not to talk too much about how many pens there are there, those are the ones i use regularly. The rest are in the drawers... eep!

You can see I really couldn't wait to get stuck in!

Behind the scenes
 

A little wedding gift...

With wedding season in full flow I wanted to create something really special for Liz and Paul so i cracked open the foiling machine and thought i'd better learn how to use it. After putting the foil on back to front a couple of times and ending up with wrinkly foils on numerous occasions i think i have finally got it! 

Watch the video below for the big reveal... the best part of foiling is when you get to peel off . the foil and see if it worked... it's like taking the plastic of your new tv. Bliss!


Here is the final piece in all it's glory. Wishing you the happiest of lives together Liz and Paul x

Here is the final piece in all it's glory. Wishing you the happiest of lives together Liz and Paul x