How I Learn New Creative Techniques

I love to learn. I’m curious by nature and I’m always looking for ways to improve and move out of my comfort zone. I read traditional paper books before bed and electronic ones when I’m out and about. I split it about 50-50 between fiction and non-fiction, because I think fiction is super important for expanding horizons and vocabulary. I also listen to podcasts and audio books when I do some repetitive work like ironing or crafting that doesn’t include much decision making. Last but not least, I attend online courses to learn whatever I think I need at the given moment. My absolutely favourite place to learn is Creative Live. They have a ton of workshops, from photography and music to design and crafting. I have watched courses on social media, blogging, and starting a creative business. You can always learn for free when the classes are live or rebroadcasted, but you can also purchase them to watch when you want.

Hand Lettering 101

My Hand Lettering 101 project

Recently I worked on illustrations for a little book. My client’s wish was to include hand written text and I felt quite nervous about it as I have never learned how to do it like a “pro”, if I don’t count the early years at primary school. The fact that this was also my first ever illustration project (I started to practice drawing only a year ago), didn’t really help to battle feelings of amateurism and incompetency. Right at that time I browsed through my Instagram feed and stumbled upon Martine’s (of the iMake podcast) beautiful photos of hand lettering. She let me know that she was doing a Hand Lettering 101 course and I was immediately tempted to purchase it.

Hand Lettering 101 by lovely Annica Lydenberg is a one-day course with fun exercises that help you understand the basics of artistic lettering and learn different styles that you can then personalize. I downloaded the videos to my computer and watched them off-line at our lakeside vacation house. I felt like living my ideal lifestyle! :)

Learn. Swim. Coffee. Repeat.

Learn. Swim. Coffee. Repeat.

I loved that Annica didn’t teach to follow the rules to perfection, but instead gave you permission to relax and explore your own creativity. I also liked her idea of mapping a set of chosen words on one paper, so you’re actually creating a piece of art as you follow her directions. I thoroughly enjoyed the process of learning and after only two days of practice I felt confident enough to tackle my client’s text with an old-fashioned calligraphy pen (something I always admired other people do, but was intimidated of the learning curve). Annica’s project was done in pencil only, but I later finished mine with Copic pens to add more dimension. I’m happy with my results, especially for my first try. I would highly recommend her workshop, even if you are only looking for a bit of creative outlet.

finished

Do you watch Creative Live or other sites with courses?

Do you have a favourite one you would recommend to others?

What is the last thing you have been learning online?

Spring 2015 in Instagrams

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I discovered the wonderful world of zentangles and created this zendala. I used a template by the Bright Owl.

1. I discovered the wonderful world of zentangles and created this zendala. I used a template by the Bright Owl.

Oh wow. Last season had been such a roller coaster. I’ve made some significant changes in my life and mindset, gravitating toward simplicity. I’ve ditched the “busy lifestyle” ideal and made more space for spontaneity. Making art and crafts became a sort of addiction for me since I started (and completed) The 365 Animals Project, but I gave up on regulating and balancing myself by some social standards. Preferring to be in touch with natural materials most of the day, I majorly procrastinated to do any computer related work. After bravely deleting my Facebook and Twitter accounts (and not regretting it to this day), I focused on Instagram as my main bridge between “real” and online life. Result? Less overwhelm, more genuine human connections. Also more time for wonderful moments that can be captured visually, as I don’t find sitting in front of the computer to be too aesthetic. I hope that summer will go in a similar direction. :) Here are 10 of my most-liked photos on Instagram.

I'm always happy to visit the old town of Škofja Loka.

2. I’m always happy to visit the old town of Škofja Loka.

4. My 8 year old brother is showing his hairdressing skills.

3. My 8-year-old brother is showing his hairdressing skills.

The 365 animals project: wood burning, zentangle inspired art and bobbin lace making.

4-6: The 365 animals project: wood burning, zentangle inspired art and bobbin lace making.

7. Knitting socks for a friend who loves mustard.

7. Knitting socks for a friend who loves mustard.

One of my favourite things to do: sipping coffee while reading classic literature.

8. One of my favourite things to do: sipping coffee while reading classic literature.

9. I bought myself a colouring book! It is so calming.

9. I bought myself a colouring book! It is so calming.

10. Seaside is my favourite place.

10. Being at the seaside is my favourite place to be.

Are you on Instagram? Please come say hi, I’m friendly. ;)

The 365 Animals Project: Springtime-Waking

1. I made an advent calendar for my brother that revealed a new sweet and a woodland creature every day. 2. Bats from October got new santa hats! 3. Friends and family members were gifted animal cooks. 4. And I played with the camera - hope you recognise it. ;)

1. I made an advent calendar for my brother that revealed a new sweet and a woodland creature every day.
2. Bats from October got new santa hats!
3. Friends and family members were gifted animal cooks.
4. And I played with the camera – hope you recognise it. ;)

 

Committing to a year-long daily project is silly

300 days ago I started a project called the 365 animals. This has been one of the silliest, but at the same time one of my best decisions. Why silly, you ask. Well, it is a big commitment. Maybe creating one animal per day (and then posting it on the interwebs) doesn’t sound like much work, but in reality it’s not that easy to pull it off. For example, you get sick one day and you can hardly get to the toilet, not to mention create something and write a post about it. I tried to combat this “life happens” problem by starting to create animals in advance. I only succeeded with this strategy a couple of times because they simply took me too long to create +  post to get ahead. So by December, right after concluding my hibernating animals theme, I was exhausted. I just couldn’t keep up with all the commitments I had at that time. I continued creating animals (as the creation process brings me so much joy), but I lost motivation to photograph them, then edit the photos and write a post about them (the latter had a bit to do with the blog migration too). So most of my animals went to new homes before I even took the time to take photos. I guess I needed to join them at the hibernation station myself. :)

1. Prototype of my memory game. 2. My very first order, memory game, ready to go. 3. Robin bird in an apron for my mother-in-law (translated pun:  My robin (also meaning little mother-in-law) is the best cook. 4. Wood burning study of cats in different styles and poses.

1. Prototype of my memory game.
2. My very first order, memory game, ready to go.
3. Robin bird in an apron for my mother-in-law (translated pun: My robin (also meaning little mother-in-law) is the best cook).
4. Wood burning study of cats in different styles and poses.

 

Committing to a year-long daily project is life-changing

This journey of exploring creativity was so great for me. I’m absolutely not sorry that I made that decision almost a year ago. I’ve learned a lot and clarified my career path. I’ve learned about myself, rediscovered my love for animals and practiced new and previously abandoned skills. When I started the project, I didn’t really have any end result in mind. I kind of wanted to have a topic to blog about and just have some fun as a challenge addict. But it turned out to be so much more. I organically started developing products for my future handmade shop (something I dreamed about for so long, but shied away from it). I authentically connected with people who admire and support my work, which motivated me to chase my crazy dreams, not only in my head, but with actual work. The project helped me to stop fantasizing and start acting, even if I didn’t know where I was going. Action brings clarity and it the real rollercoaster adventure begins.

1. Me as a sheep for the carnival. 2. A fortune teller. 3. My first lace making project. 4. Gifts for my lace making group Lastovke (Swalllows).

1. Me as a sheep for the carnival.
2. A fortune teller, telling you wich animal you were in your previous life. ;)
3. My first lace making project.
4. Gifts for my lace making group Lastovke (Swalllows).

Have you ever tried a similar daily challenge? How did it go? 

Choose Your Own Adventure

Do you remember Choose your own adventure books? They were my favourite! I think I would still enjoy reading them, especially if I could get my hands on more grown-up versions.

Choose your own adventure books I owned and loved as a kid.

Choose your own adventure books I owned and loved as a kid.

Regarding how much I adored these books, my heart skipped a beat when Sarah from the blog A Love Letter to Adventure announced her printable Adventure Generator (you can grab it on her blog for free!). Of course, I had to test it out and here are my randomly generated mini adventures. You can follow them in almost real time on Instagram (are we friends there yet?).

my-adventure-generator

First, I printed out the printables, cut them, colored and sew together. You have three parts of fun prompts (an action, a modifier, and a destination), you flip through them and end up with a unique idea to do something new and different. I loved observing how other testers all came up with their own creative ways to assemble the Generator and then use it in ways I could never think of.

Adventure #1: Listen to a forgotten book. I listened to Craftlit, a podcast & audio book in one, which also happens to be my favourite podcast (Heather rocks!). I usually listen to books/radio when I’m crafting, but that day I only lay down to rest & enjoy a calming man’s voice reading Herland. This single tasking reminded me of childhood when my grandfather was reading stories to me, usually the Russian ones. Herland is a utopian novel about a country which is only populated by women. This book was forgotten for the great part of the previous century and is receiving polarized opinions to this day. Although polemic, it is a one-of-a-kind and wonderfully interesting book, exploring a very important and still relevant topic.

runefall

Adventure #2: Try a new game. I tried a few casual PC games and Runefall was the one that l actually wanted to play for the full trial period. It’s a match 3 game, but complex and unique. You also search for objects, solve puzzles, play mini-games and build a city. The graphics are gorgeous and the music is relaxing. Loved it!

Adventure #3: Delight in an old road. I have recently moved to beautiful Dolenjska and I love going on walks here, following the nearby roads. I enjoy the quiet nature, meeting shy animals and observing old buildings.

Adopt a small garden

Adopt a small garden

Adventure #4: Adopt a small garden. The meadows are full of snowdrops now and I “adopted” this gorgeous sunlit spot.

draw-a-secret-recipe

Adventure #5: Draw a secret recipe. I saved this for last as it is my favourite.  I searched grandma’s recipe notebook and found her aunt’s recipe for a pie (she was about 90 when I was 10 years old, so it must be very old). I was thinking how fun it would be to draw a “cooking book” for myself with real simple recipes that wouldn’t need a lot of words. Now I just have to look at my phone and I have the main instructions at my fingertips.  I was a bit worried how the apple pie would turn out because I have tried fancier versions before and this recipe is very minimal. But we ate it in 24 hours and my boyfriend declared it the best apple pie he had ever tried. :) I love simple recipes with as few ingredients as possible, so I will be testing more recipes from grandma’s notebook, in the spirit of Sarah’s another adventurous quest, global recipe project STIR. BTW, the cute apron I’m wearing on the photo is sewn by the same grandma. She may be a good baker, but handcrafts were her real forte.

So, have I tempted you to try a little adventure of your own? Print Adventure Generator for yourself too. :)

Stop Fixing Yourself

No, I don’t mean drugs. I’m talking about a common belief that we need to fix our personalities to be good enough. I spent the great part of 2015 in my own head, reevaluating my whole life. I always tried too hard to be someone else and follow the rules. I saw almost every characteristic of my personality as a fault.  I thought other people knew me better than I knew myself. In short, I was listening to others (the more “experienced” and “smarter” ones) instead of trusting myself, my intuition or whatever you call it. It took me forever to start implementing significant changes, but it is happening and now I feel as if I could move mountains! This post is vaguely inspired by Sarah’s Inner Samwise. She mentioned a hobbit wishing to become an elf and it reminded me that I’m kind of an elf wishing to become a hobbit. :) Read on if you’re curious how I was trying to become an A-type extravert, something I am totally not.

Slovenian winter wonderland.

In 2014, I decided to stop listening to naysayers and begin the journey towards self-employment. It’s something I’ve been dreaming about for years, but I was dealing with so much self-doubt that I didn’t take much action. I kept my options open (as everyone was advising me), moving in 10 directions at once and not getting anywhere. So, last year I decided to do it but didn’t have much clue how to go about it. I did the obvious thing for this era, joining the Google university. Confused by the information overload and observations of how others were doing it, I somehow got it into my head that I need to become an A-type personality. I admired women who had families + 9-5 job + their own biz + got up at 4 in the morning to write a book, even when having a flu. No excuses allowed! One of my (many) self-imposed commitments was to write a short blog post every day for a year and I succeeded for 6 months. But then I burned out and I needed a few months to heal. Any lessons learned? ;)

Resting at the lakeside.

Resting at the lakeside.

Another area where I was trying to “fix” myself is my introversion. When I took Susan Cain‘s test 2 years ago, my result was 100% introvert. If I’m paraphrasing, Jung said that if a 100% intro/extravert existed, his place would be in a lunatic asylum. Can you guess where I was reading this book? ;)100% or not, I believe to be an extreme introvert and I used to think this is abnormal. Psychiatrists, therapists and social workers gave me assignments to reach a certain number of social gatherings. Some friends/acquaintances remarked that I’m weird, too silent and that my rhetoric skills need to be significantly improved. After a week full of family time, craft clubs and workshops, I felt guilty if I wanted to spend Sunday by myself instead with friends. Somehow I believed that I will lose good friendships if I won’t actively nurture them every week. That family needs me to be available 24/7. That I’m evil if I prefer my own company to small talk over coffee. So I spent every waking moment socializing or being “productive”, complaining I wish I didn’t need to sleep that much. I felt exhausted.

100% or not, I believe to be an extreme introvert and I used to think this is abnormal. Psychiatrists, therapists, and social workers gave me assignments to reach a certain number of social gatherings. Some friends/acquaintances remarked that I’m weird, too silent and that my rhetoric skills need to be significantly improved. After a week full of family time, craft clubs and workshops, I felt guilty if I wanted to spend Sunday by myself instead with friends. Somehow I believed that I will lose good friendships if I won’t actively nurture them every week. That family needs me to be available 24/7. That I’m evil if I prefer my own company to small talk over coffee. So I spent every waking moment socializing or being “productive”, complaining I wish I didn’t need to sleep that much. I felt exhausted.

Taking time to smell the flowers.

Taking time to smell the flowers.

After learning my big, “be yourself” lesson, here are my conclusions.

Embrace your personality. There is nothing wrong if you’re an introvert (I think it’s a social crime whenever extraversion is regarded as being better than introversion). Actually, it has many advantages. The majority of artists kept social life to a minimum (which I learned reading Daily Rituals), so they could invest their energy into creating great pieces of art. If I get energy from being alone, it makes more sense to me to be a maker than a kindergarten teacher (first being my dream career, latter being a type of jobs I’ve been applying to). It’s important to learn what gives or takes your energy, and there is nothing to feel guilty about.

And for the record, introverts aren’t anti or even asocial. We’re great listeners because we observe correspondents in greater detail and we take every relationship to heart – that’s why it takes so much energy!

Work smarter, not harder. Rest and free time are non-negotiable. I was working on this with my mentor and I was really struggling at first because I was so used to always spend time “productively”. Right now, I’m reading Essentialism by Greg McKeown and it’s quickly becoming my Bible. So good! It makes me feel as if it was written for me and I’m certainly not the only one. ;)


 

Are you an introvert yourself? If not, how do you feel about these weirdos? ;)

Where you ever trying to become someone you’re not?

Hibernation Station: Sleeping Wood Burned Animals

Days 174-6: European hedgehog, raccoon and baby black bear

Days 174-6: European hedgehog, raccoon and baby black bear

I like to have a monthly theme for my 365 animals, because it makes the decision-process a bit easier. My November theme was hibernating animals and it was my first line of products (although not for sale) that became a hit on social media. I’ve received positive feedback before, but nothing like this. It gave me a huge boost of confidence and a kind of confirmation that I’m moving in the right direction. The animals are getting new homes this holiday season, which makes me a happy panda. ^_^

Days 177-81: Indian hedgehog, edible dormice, brown bear and eastern chipmunk

Days 177-81: Indian hedgehog, edible dormice, brown bear and eastern chipmunk

I created Polhek in polhica (male and female dormouse) sharing a chestnut for my boyfriend’s birthday. His parents have a beautiful vacation house in Bled, a wonderful location on the lakeside. It is an old house with space between the walls, which sometimes becomes an amusement park for edible dormice. We try to keep them out, but I cannot help myself not to squeak with delight whenever I see one. They are so adorable!

365animals182

Bonus: this merry Christmas bunny is now observing Ljubljana from the window in the medical center where my father-in-law is resting after an operation. He was recently diagnosed with cancer. This is a sensitive subject for me because I already lost two close relatives from this illness of the modern era. But I know that not everything is lost yet, so I’m sending mega positive vibes to the universe! :)

HEARTing Handmade Moved to WordPress!

Thanks for hanging in there with me. :) Now that I’ve made the move, I’m asking myself why I haven’t done it sooner – as I could have known. ;) If you’re thinking about starting a blog and deciding between Blogger and WP – pick the latter. At least if you’re not intending to write only for yourself and your cat. I am a bit tech savvy, but I still faced a lot of complications along the road – like my domain email address being down for 4 days. >.< But the main stuff is working now and I’m tweaking the site as I go.

BloggerRIP

I hope that you like the change so far and that you will visit again. Your support via comments on the blog and on social media means me so much. Thank you!

Day 173: Marbled White on the Whiteboard

After drawing a butterfly in the chalkboard style, it seemed logical to draw next one on the whiteboard. This board became one of my favorite things to use. It is my calendar, my to-do list, a place to write love notes and draw silly doodles. Today it represents my 365 animals canvas. :)
I also love this retro wallpaper. It makes me feel like I’m visiting the mountains in the comfort of my home.