Back to Basics

I can not actually remember the last time I used any traditional mediums. Apart from sketching with pencils and creating ink textures to use in photoshop. And sometimes wonder if my endless strive for perfection is a derivative of this. The temptation to edit is too irresistible.

I wanted to get back to basics and needed to move away from the screen for a while. So I took a Skillshare class by watercolour illustrator and surface designer Ohn Mar Win. “Sketchbook Practise: Grow your art everyday”

The class encourages you to start a daily sketchbook practise. Creating a safe place to experiment and grow. To improve your skill and develop your own style without purpose or judgement. Somewhere just for you and your own creative advancement.

Day 1

Here is my first attempt with real watercolours. As a younger artist (before Adobe) I always painted with Acrylic. It dried so quickly and layered so easily I felt in control. Watercolour meant risk, no room for error….so I stayed well away.

Day 2

I am starting to understand how the watercolour paint lays on the paper in this second attempt.

Day 3

Experimenting with tone and shade with these limes. Finding it a little tricky to keep that transparent quality.

Day 4

Trying to add contrast to these oranges by playing around with watercolour pens.

Day 5

Feeling so much more confident with the paint already. A daily painting practice is really going to improve my skill level. This class is definitely what the soul doctor ordered, I quite like these lemons!

9 Different Face Shapes

I recently took a Skillshare class by picture book illustrator Nina Rycroft. Exploring the nine different face shapes and how to draw them.

Drawing the faces of characters has always been a challenge. Fear and trepidation sets in and familiarity takes over, compelling my pencil to sketch shapes and features I have previously used. Resulting in a collection of characters who look like they could be related. Not ideal…!

Here are the results of the class project. 

Kite shaped faces
Oval shaped faces
Square shaped faces
Teardrop shaped face
Heptagon shaped faces
Oblong shaped faces
Rectangle shaped faces
Added colour using Photoshop brushes

Active Animals Illustrated Alphabet

Illustrated Active animal alphabet

Everywhere I look these days children are staring at screens. How times have changed, when my twin boys where young I spent much of the time wearing them out doing various physical activities, no matter the weather. Screens where limited to a only a couple of hours a day.

As they grew so did their appetite for new experiences and with it a curiosity of all things active. With each new school year came the desire to try something new. As a single parent keeping up with the monetary costs and the demands on time was often a struggle. There was never enough time in the day or coins in the pot.

Thankfully I have had the love and support of a great mother, who made keeping up with such challenges possible. And the benefits have long outweighed the costs. For with this inclination to be active, came an eagerness to explore. To discover and investigate, to question and to enquire.

Now in their twenties my twins still adore new experiences. They appreciate the importance of trying something new. Whether that be an new activity, a new destination, a new recipe or a new encounter, they relish the opportunity to expand on this adventure we call life. I wish I was more like them….!

With these thoughts in mind I wanted to encourage children to be active. And when better than to start, than at the beginning. This active animal alphabet could help stimulate a healthy interest of activity from an early age.

Where is The Love

At the moment, I can not read an article without picturing how I would illustrate it. This interesting read was on the opinion pages of the Guardian. 

‘It’s easy to mock old hippies, but what the world needs is peace and love’ written by Carol Birch, made me think about my rather liberal childhood and the influence it had on forming my own belief systems. 

In the 70′s, when we first moved to Colchester, we stayed at a hippy commune in East Bergholt. And for many years, after moving into our own home, we visited their yearly music festivals, craft fairs and social events.

Growing up in a free thinking socialist household kind of guaranteed my belief in the power of collective communication. As a teenager I marched against the Poll Tax, camped out at CND protest sites and attended Green Peace rallies.  

Experiences that not only enriched my youth, but taught me to speak out when I believed something was unjust. To be myself, even if it meant not quite conforming, and to love with passion. I met some colourful people too, learnt a lot of tolerance and improved my knowledge of the wider world. 

Lately I have worried a lot about the woes of the world. Everywhere you look injustice prevails, corruption conquers and greed robs. Yet no one wants to talk about it.

Carol Birch suggests in her article, that we have lost the capacity to communicate, for fear of reprisal. People don’t want to debate, disagree or challenge one another’s opinions anymore. 

I agree…..I am hard pushed to find a friend who wants to talk about current or social affairs these days. ‘Oh, get off your soap box Rachel’, I hear before I even finished sharing my thoughts and concerns. 

Whatever the reason, I believe we are all missing out. Missing out on learning from one another, from growing together and from instigating change together. Lessons I learnt from the hippy movement and lessons we could perhaps do with following today. 

Single Mum

It was mothers day here in the UK last Sunday and I was spoilt rotten by my twin sons. They cooked me a traditional English breakfast, served with flowers and a huge box of chocolates. Took me for a lovely afternoon stroll along the local seafront and prepared a home cooked Thai banquet for dinner. Bringing them up alone has meant we formed a special bond. And although they have grown up now and flown the nest, we still see each other with regularity. I am very lucky.

© Rachel Lucette Adams

‘Plain Sailing’ – The struggle of trying to keep some sense of ones own identity, whilst navigating the choppy and sometimes treacherous sea of life. All the while battling to elevate the precious lives of your young. 

© Rachel Lucette Adams

Balancing the Books – One of the hardest things about being a lone parent is the financial strain. Making ends meet was a perpetual challenge.

© Rachel Lucette Adams

A Piece of Me – If only there were more hours in the day…..this is something I have muttered to myself time and time again. When you are the only person responsible for everything, things can get tricky. Being a full time working single mother of twins meant ‘tricky’ was a good day. I was so busy I didn’t have time to think, only act. I remember feeling like I had volunteered for a stage show that I had not prepared for. Completely unaware of its challenges and pitfalls.

High Heels High Hopes

iluustrated poster design

I recently asked a close female friend what she’d like to do once the children have flown the nest. And I was shocked by her reply, so I asked a few more. Nearly all of them had the same answer….. “I haven’t ever really thought about it.”

This surprised me enormously. I have always wanted to be more than just a parent. To have a purpose beyond procreation and maternal care. I began to wonder what motivated this desire. Was it my upbringing, the influence my peers had on me whilst I grew up, or was it society.

Being the eldest of 6 children, four of which are boys, had to have played a part. If I wasn’t the babysitter, I was the referee or games-master. Having gone on to have my own twin boys and then teach at an all boys school, male dominance, if only in numbers, is what I’ve known my entire life.

Was it this, that drove my determination. Did the inherent competitive nature of men manipulate my own feminine development. I do remember thinking…. if they can do it, so can I…. I do not remember ever aspiring towards married life or the typical feminine dreams one has as a young girl. I of course dreamt of love and affection, but when it actually came down to it, I resisted the constraints of marriage. In favour of the independence and impulsiveness of living alone.

Whilst being a parent has defined who I am today and has reaped some enormous rewards. It hasn’t plugged the knot of aspiration that sits in the bottom of my belly. As a lone parent, it has only fuelled my yearning. This is however, perhaps more to do with society then my own ambition. In climate of rife tabloid stereotyping and condemning, I have always felt a pressure to overcompensate. To work harder, to parent more rigorously, to study longer and to volunteer in my community more than the average mother. All to avoid the stigma of being a single mother on government benefits. I often felt cheated of the chance to raise my children full time, after all I hadn’t  planned on being a single parent. But hey hoe, I made my bed…..In any case, I set a good example to my own children and hopefully inspires some of their own motivational behaviour.

I have been lucky enough to have had the same set of friends since my late teens. All of us very different from one another, but with one thing in common. The good fortune of being able to laugh at ourselves. And with such a dynamic mix of characters, our social lives are constantly full of fun. Was their love and support the force behind my eagerness to succeed? Perhaps……Not being part of a couple has meant I have been the instigator of many of the get togethers between us all. Having had more opportunity for freedom and spontaneity, purely for the fact that I haven’t had to clear arrangements with anyone else. Was this organisational spirit a propeller towards personal accomplishment……Maybe!

Looking back now, I realise all of these factors have played a part in my personal growth, my need to succeed. It has been a combination of emotional and physical experiences, outside influences and stimulus and of course, just the practice of being a human being.

High Heels and High Hopes, is a poster design that celebrates my own feminine qualities of appreciation, as well as my masculine virtues of conquest.