Elowen begins…

I’ve just started psychology volunteering, but it looks as though it’s gonna be a long haul. I need cash in order to fund it. Time was, you took on a job and they trained you. Now, you pay for your own training and then work for free….

I have been toying with the idea of taking on some badly paid 9-5 but I’m worried that won’t give me enough flexibility to do the volunteering, which kinda defeats the purpose. Then I thought, sod it, I’ve spent all this time trying to get my singing technique up and running and now that I finally feel really confident with it, I should try and make some money with it.

Last year, Sally Holliday, my pal and photographer extraordinaire, and I got a few gigs in my local area singing classical and Christmas songs as a duo. It was pretty good fun and our busking session on Christmas eve went really well, so we thought we’d revisit it this year.

Last weekend, we sang through some numbers,  decided on a name, Elowen (we just thought it sounded nice) grabbed a couple of matching ballgowns and headed to Piercefield woods for a photo shoot! Recordings and website to follow, watch this space….

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My first digital painting!

galbraith sketchI’ve done it!!! I’ve finally created a digital painting that I’m pleased with.

I’ve been wanting to have a go at digital painting for years but was too intimidated to try. Although my drawing can be quite reasonable, I’m not too confident with colour. I have also been intimidated by using a graphics tablet and stylus.

A few weeks ago, I plucked up the courage to read the book that I bought (years ago)on the subject, took some reference shots and gave it a go. It was an unmitigated disaster, I couldn’t control the stylus and my colours were all over the place. I gave it all up as a bad job. Then, last night, something persuaded me to have another try. I checked out a tutorial by a chap called Daarken, his technique was to first create an amorphous blob in the vague shape of what he wanted and refine from there. His work tends to have a sketchy feel, which I quite like and have always wanted to create. I have a tendency to get too fussy with my drawing and want to put in every detail, which then stifles the work.

I chose Terry’s Empire character, Galbraith, as a subject. I got a bunch of reference photos of him as well as googled references for his sword and armour.

I really liked the technique of the amorphous blob. It was a very low-pressure way to get going and feel as though I was getting somewhere  at an early stage. I found that I was able to find the lines that I wanted and build the shape in a very organic way. It was also a good way to get my basic shadows in and I found it much easier to stick to a limited colour palette (always a problem for me)

I stepped out of my comfort zone by only choosing to refine certain parts of the image, and leaving the rest quite sketchy. I felt that this added mystery and allows the viewer to fill in the blanks, as it were, from their own imagination. I feel that I have finally hit on the concept of “less is more”

I’m pleased that it looks a bit like Terry without being a slavish likeness. I was aiming to draw the character, rather than the player dressed as the character, and I think it works. I’d really like to do some more, getting a bit quicker each time and gain some more confidence with colour. The nice thing about digital painting is that you can experiment without worrying about ruining the whole thing as you can always undo a mistake. I’m also looking forward to getting more control over the stylus, but I guess that’s a practice thing.And a couple of life drawing classes wouldn’t go amiss either, my skills there are somewhat rusty.

I’m looking forward to doing more 🙂

Psychology volunteering!

At long last, I’ve finally started volunteering in a psychological capacity! Today, I helped to facilitate a Stress and Mood Management course run by an IAPT in Bristol. The participants were a lovely lot and there were some really fun moments. No where near as nerve-wracking as I was expecting, but then again, I’m used to standing in front of groups of people. Some nice feedback too.

It was very reassuring to see that many of the skills that I have developed as a musician are transferable to this sort of work. Team work on the fly is one, the other facilitator and I were able to pick up each other’s points and add to them, running the session without any prior rehearsal together. Confident presentation skills are another. After this many years of cowering on a stage with expectant eyes on me, presenting the course to complete strangers was like second nature.

There are things that I would like to improve on next time, I’d like to have the time to digest all of the material, rather than just the bits that I was presenting, so that I can get a feel for how the course hangs together as a whole. And as I get more familiar with the material, I hope to be able to make it flow a little more naturally.

But, on the whole, I’m pleased, and looking forward to next time!