Recently I made a few images about one of the best things in my life - Swing Dancing! So thought I’d write a little bit about how I got started in it, and what it means to me.
I started swing dancing at the very end of 2011. I was at a charity event for work which had a swing dance performance. It looked very cool, there were lots of flips and amazing moves. But after their performance, the dancers all hung around, and they kept dancing to the DJ’d music. It looked totally different from all the other partner dancing I’d seen. They were fooling around, and making each other laugh. I’d only ever seen serious dances like ballroom and latin which didn’t appeal to me. Swing dancing looked FUN.
I went to my first lesson, where they were learning the Shim Sham (a swing line dance. Like the Macarena, or Nutbush). It wasn’t really what I thought it would be since I was dancing by myself. After the class they showed what they’d be doing the next week, and it was partner dancing, so I decided to come back.
I’ve been dancing for 6 years now, and it’s become a huge part of my life. I love that it’s based on improvisation, and on connection with your partner. I love that there’s a big emphasis on fun, and doing what feels right for the individual. There’s a freedom to express yourself, and communicate that to the person you’re dancing with. When you’re dancing with someone, it’s just you, your partner and the music. Like you’re in your own little bubble. It’s such a great way to feel present in the moment, without worrying about the past or future. I also love that there are so many different types of swing dances, and even after years, I still feel like I’ve just reached the tip of the iceberg. There are still lots of things to explore.
Since I started dancing I’ve become more confident in myself. Confidence in my own body, and the things it can do. I feel like I have better relationships with people, and I’m more comfortable expressing myself to friends. I’ve met so many different and wonderful people through the community. Almost all of my friendships and support network now, are people I’ve met through dancing.
If you think you’d like to try it, there are classes all over the world! In Melbourne there are several dance schools, the two I’ve learnt from are Swing Patrol and 1929 studios. I highly recommend giving it a go! It’s a great way to meet people, be active, and have fun.
This past weekend I attended the KidLitVic 2018 conference, an event where publishers, authors and illustrators can all meet each other. This was an event I’ve been thinking about and working towards for months. Having an opportunity to show my artwork to publishers was exciting and nerve wracking. I’ve definitely gotten more comfortable putting my work online, and promoting myself. But it still doesn’t really feel natural yet, and making the decision to show my work to people in the industry was one I wasn’t entirely sure I was ready for.
Most of the day was taken up by workshops and panels, while my folio was laid out in the Illustrators showcase area. I learnt so much throughout the day. Information on what publishers are looking for, things to do, things to avoid. One of the workshops ‘Direction in Art Direction’ with Donna Rawlins was incredible. She made me think a lot more about the construction of images, and how to use every tool available to you to create an image that tells a story. Rather than just a pretty picture.
I’d also booked a couple of individual assessments with publishers. This was definitely the part of the day I was most nervous about. I wanted to focus mainly on getting feedback on things I could improve. While it would be lovely if they only told me how brilliant my work was, constructive criticism is much more helpful for growth. Even though I was nervous to receive it.
All the assessments were great. I got some positive feedback which was lovely, and I also got some advice on things I can improve upon. The constructive criticism was amazing, and really helpful. A lot of it involved things I hadn’t even considered with my own work. I walked away from these assessments feeling inspired, and eager to work more on my art.
Another fun part of the day was meeting new people in the industry, especially other illustrators. I really enjoyed seeing how different everyone’s work was, and meeting the artists behind it. I’ve also got a lovely collection of business cards, and postcards now from all of them. While networking is definitely not my strong suit, it was easier with such friendly and open people.
At the end of the day I’m really glad I went to the event. It was very well run, with a lot of valuable information, and opportunities. I feel really excited to continue working in this direction. I’ve got a lot of ideas of where to go next, and I’m feeling really positive about where things are at.
AbiliTEA April is here again! AbiliTEA is a campaign run by the Learning For Life Autism centre to fundraise and mark Autism Awareness month.
At L4Life they focus on skills that children learn during intensive early intervention (ABA programs) that lead to other abilities later in life. Learning how to communicate, follow instructions, imitate, be more independent give these children valuable tools to use throughout their whole lives. This fundraising campaign enables more children to access these programs for families who would otherwise not be able to afford them.
Last year for AbiliTEA I illustrated different peoples mugs and favourite drinks.
This year I’ve decided to expand my own tea drinking a bit.
I’m a creature of habit, I drink the same cup of tea every morning, and I love it. But I also wanted to try a few different things. So this year I’ve decided to try a new different tea every day, and illustrate different flavours.
At the end of the month the top 30 donors from my Facebook page will get to choose one of the original tea paintings to keep as a thank you from me, for supporting this great cause! Stay tuned for the first image coming tomorrow!