Tuesday 20 October 2015

Now you know ♥

Hello dearhearts!

This post might come across as a bit unusual to some of you, and I aplogise in advance but there's something i've been wanting to write about for quite some time and i'm going to do it right now. So to lighten the mood, i'm filling this post with some of my own illustrations from the past few years! So if you can't be bothered to read, at least you'll have some pretty pictures to look at.

'Sugar Skull'
Now then, as i've mentioned many, MANY times over the years, I happen to live on a lovely little island in the middle of the Irish Sea, called the Isle of Man.

I know that quite a few of my readers are local, in which case... some of you may have heard me on Manx Radio yesterday afternoon!

You might have been a little surprised to hear me sounding so chipper and bright, you might have been even more surprised to hear what I had to say during my time on air...

A few weeks ago I was invited onto the Women Today show to talk about my art, how I create, what motivates me etc. Obviously I was super excited about this opportunity, Manx Radio is on 24/7 in our house (seriously!) and i've been interviewed maybe 4 or 5 times over the years, usually for craft fairs and art exhibitions. So I was thrilled at the thought of getting to take part in an hour long show, especially one geared toward female opinions and women's issues. GIRL POWER or what?!

'Selfie Queen'
Anyway, the show was live and on air yesterday from 2-3pm and I had A LOT of fun chatting with Beth, Jo and Kate, the three lovely presenters. If you know me in real life (lucky YOU if you do) then you'd probably think i'd just go on the show and ramble on about drawings and pastel colours and books and netflix... which I did do. But I also went on and talked mostly about art and Aspergers.

Because if you DID hear the show (if you didn't, you can give it a listen right HERE the show kicks in properly around the 6 minute mark if you want to skip ahead) then you will now know that I was recently diagnosed with Aspergers myself.


'Do Not Disturb'
Those of you that are regular readers of the blog may or may not know that since February 2014 I have been receiving treatment and medication for ongoing depression and anxiety. It's been a big help getting some proper treatment after so many years of trying to deal with things myself. I've been to all sorts of group sessions and have filled in lots of questionnaires and quotients to try and find out what exactly I 'have'. Well now I know.

Initially, my psychiatrist speculated that I might have Borderline Personality Disorder but this was a diagnosis I disagreed with, I didn't feel that I ticked enough of the boxes to warrant having BPD. But then one day my CBT therapist turned around and said 'what do you know about Aspergers?'. I didn't know very much and when I asked him why he said 'because I think you have it'.And it turns out that he was right.

'Pretty in Pink'
It has all been a bit of a revelation to be honest. Since then i've read several books on Aspergers + dozens of articles and publications sourced online, and before my diagnosis, the more I read about it the more positive I was that it all pertained to me. I've briefly touched on my battles with mental illness in the past, but never in any real depth. I try to keep this blog a happy place full of bright colours and nice things; but it's true that the reason my intrepid blogging ambitions have waned in recent years is because i've been dealing with depression, anxiety and self-harm.

'Just Can't Get Enough'
I'm not ashamed to talk about this now. It used to bother me quite a lot, I felt like everyone could either see what was wrong with me and would judge me for it, or that no-one could see it at all, so that when I did eventually speak up and say 'I need help', nobody would believe me because I looked 'fine'. But then isn't one of the worst things about mental illness the fact that it is often an invisible illness?! If you told someone you had a broken arm they'd never tell you to 'pull yourself together' or 'stop feeling sorry for yourself', so why should comments like that be an acceptable reply when someone admits that they're depressed or dealing with anxiety. They're not, obviously, but some people still seem to think it's okay to say things like that when confronted with mental illness.

Fortunately i've not had to deal with too much of that sort of thing, my friends and family have all been incredibly supportive throughout everything. And I find that usually when you do tell someone that you're receiving treatment, they often surprise you by admitting that they (or someone close to them) has dealt with similar issues. Early on there were of course those who refused to accept that anything was really 'wrong', emphatically pushing various self-help CDs and apps on me each time I confessed to feeling low. But after a while as I was prescribed more and more meds and as the visible scars became more numerous, people seemed to realise that maybe this wasn't the 'it will go away by itself' kind of problem.

Since my Aspergers diagnosis in August, i've only told a few people, friends and family close to me. Which begs the question, WHY did I decide to talk about it live on the radio. All I can say is that I guess there's no better way to 'come out' (as it were) as an Aspie, than on national radio on a Monday afternoon!

'Candy Queen'
Since the show aired, i've had people messaging me telling me how 'brave' I was to talk so openly about my troubles on the air. But I don't feel particularly brave, i'm just being honest after all. There's still such a stigma attached to mental illness that we're simply not always used to hearing or reading about it so candidly, so when someone does turn round and say 'this is what's wrong with me, but I embrace it' people aren't quite sure what to do or say.

Now some people might have heard the show yesterday and thought, 'gosh Aspergers, how terrible for her' or something along the lines of 'wow, she must be REALLY weird' in which case, no it's not terrible and yes of course i'm weird! Who on earth wants to be normal?! But then I went on to talk about how positive I think it is, how I see it as a 'gift' and that it's absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Because it isn't!

'Love is the Drug'
I mean it's not like I can help it, any of it. I didn't wake up one morning aged thirteen and think 'oh i'll be depressed or anxious today' or decide as a child that being 'normal' wasn't for me. Until I started high school I didn't even realise there was really anything 'wrong' with me, and i'm still not sure that there actually is. I'm the way I am and that's that. I can't switch it off even if I can sometimes hide it away, but however much I feel the need to pretend or 'fit in', i'm always going to be this way, regardless of what people think or say.

I'm fortunate as well that a few of the more typical Aspergers traits, mainly concerning social skills and recognizing emotions in others, aren't things I really have difficulties with. It seems that a lifetime of observing and imitating others' behaviour has helped me to adapt better and 'blend in'. That makes me sound like some sort of hideous alien infiltrating humanity! But it's a good thing, I think, it means that although I might sometimes come across a bit blunt or unsympathetic, I can ultimately hold a normal conversation with someone and recognize when someone else is sad/happy/annoyed etc.
'Pretty as a Picture'
If any of that sounds odd to you, and you're wondering how someone could possibly NOT recognize basic social skills or emotions in others, then that probably means you don't have Aspergers! I don't have a problem with talking to people or 'putting myself in their shoes' as it were, however other traits of Aspergers syndrome can be frustrating and difficult to overcome.

I'm very sensitive to sounds, for example, I often have to carry earbud headphones with me when i'm out in a busy place as the overstimulation of sounds can spark off a sort of panic attack where i'm likely to end up crying hysterically. Fortunately it doesn't happen very often but when it does it is, to put it bluntly, 'a pain in the arse'. Especially when it happens in a busy shop/cafe/swimming pool. But it's something I can and do work on, luckily it's quite a minor inconvenience compared to some other typical Aspie issues.

'Buzz Buzz'
Ironically as well, despite the fact that I can often pick up on delicate emotional imbalances in others, i'm almost completely clueless when it comes to my own emotional states. I can tell you what a stranger across the room is feeling (and get it spot on) but if you ask me how I really 'feel' i'll probably stare at you blankly while trying to come up with an answer. It's massively frustrating to be stymied by your own brain when you're trying to make things better!

It's funny as well because these are things i've dealt with all my life but i've only just been given a reason for them. I know that some people don't want any labels but finding out about the whole Aspergers thing has made it so much easier to understand why some things are so easy and others are so incredibly daunting. Public speaking, going on the radio, teaching a class... that's fine, i'll do it with a smile on my face; but ask me to make a phone-call or catch a bus and i'll probably fall to pieces.

'Go Away'
As I only received my diagnosis a few months ago, i'm still learning about it and coming to terms with it + what it really means to be an Aspie. But it many ways i'm relieved to finally have an answer to so many of the questions i've had all my life.

So I want to thank the lovely ladies at Women Today for inviting me on the show and giving me the opportunity to talk not only about my art, but about some of the struggles i've had and to open up a bit about Aspergers. So THANK you!!!

oh and if you did listen to the show and you heard the description of my outfit and you're wondering what the mermaid skirt looks like...

there you go! (and yes, I know that the mirror is in desperate need of a clean!!!)

so on that note, i'll say goodbye for now.

naturally you can expect more Aspie themed posts in the future! Well now that the cat is out of the bag it would be rude not to keep going on about it...

by the way, if any of you have any questions about anything I talked about on the radio yesterday or touched upon in this post, you can leave a comment below, send me an email or private message me on facebook, twitter or instagram if you don't want a public chat, and I will of course reply.

so until next time, thanks for visiting, come back soon.

Sunday 11 October 2015

Truly Outrageous ♥

hey dolls! I'm back AGAIN! what's going on?! two blog posts in one week!!! EXCITING!

anyway I have some new stuff to share with you all. I've been working on commissions and other projects recently so it has been a while since I drew a new member of the Candy Doll Club. But I got a day off last week so I started doodling and the next thing I knew it was 2am and I'd finally cleaned up the linework enough to start adding colour.

 this was the result...

now if you grew up in the eighties or early nineties you might remember the animated show Jem and the Holograms. Personally I LOVED it! Mainly because of the wacky outfits and candy coloured hairstyles, but also the cheesy songs and general air of Girl Power that the show was all about.

well a few months ago someone left a comment on my Instagram asking if i'd ever do a Jem fanart. My first thought was ABSOLUTELY YES, but then I sort of forgot about it and drew other stuff instead. So this week I started drawing a girl in denim shorts and a leather jacket, gave her some retro styled hair and it wasn't until I began adding colour that she magically transformed into Jem aka Jerrica Benton before my eyes!

So as you can probably tell, my take on Jem is a little different to the original cartoon. For a start mine's a bit curvier and gone is the 80's hair, with some retro candy pink curls and a ribbon bow instead. The make-up is pretty much the same + she's still wearing her hologram projector earrings.

This doll doesn't have any visible tattoos, mainly because her arms are covered. Oh and if you're wondering what's going on with her super bright outfit,  the wacky pastel leather jacket is actually based on a real one that I always see online and secretly LOVE! I'd never be able to wear it myself but I like the sweet sugary colours so it definitely inspired this Candy Doll's retro style!

the original jacket via DOLLS KILL
my version of the jacket
 Naturally she's showing off her band with a 'Jem' crop top! I like to draw women of all shapes and sizes but I do sometimes come under flack online from people accusing me of only drawing 'skinny girls'. First of all, I draw skinny girls AND curvy girls, I don't always have a specific plan in mind when I sit down to draw so sometimes they might turn out skinny sometimes not, it all depends on how the image develops in my mind. When I drew the lineart for this I didn't know it was going to end up a Jem fanart piece. It was fun to draw a girl with more curves but it wasn't until I added colour that I realised it reminded me so much of 'Jem and the Holograms' that it couldn't be anyone else!

now 'my' Jem is inspired by the cartoon I watched as a child, but if you're a fan of it as well then you'll probably know that there's also a Live Action 'Jem and the Holograms' movie coming out later this month. Now I haven't seen it yet, obviously, but I didn't really want to base my drawing off the trailers for it...

so instead it's a sort of mix of the original cartoon AND the amazing comic series brought out earlier this year! The artwork is BRILLIANT and so are the stories, it's a new take on the classic series but also a whole new take on the characters. Definitely worth a read if you're into comics, especially ones about kick-ass female characters. Read more about the comics HERE.

so yeah, there you have it. Another new Candy Doll and fanart piece. I'm not sure what i'll draw next, I kind of want to try a few more fanarts based on some of my fave female characters so we'll see!

and on that note i'll sign off. I just got home from another lovely Christening (the cake was AMAZING) but I didn't eat much (other than cake) and i'm pecking so i'm going to rustle up some dinner.

until next time, thanks for reading, come and visit again soon!

Wednesday 7 October 2015

Spooky Babe ♥

hello chums! I'm back again and it's only been just over a week... see I TOLD you I was going to try harder!

anyway I want to share some Halloween goodies with you all. If you're a regular reader then you probably know how much I LOVE Halloween, it's one of my favourite times of year because how can you not love a holiday that celebrates all things creepy and spooky!

every year I usually draw a Candy Doll illustration for Halloween, last year it was THIS and also THIS.

but this year I ended up creating a pattern instead.

Spooky Babe pattern
 As you can see it's perfect for a pastel witch, or the modern girl-gang/coven with lots of cute but creepy symbols so that every day can be Halloween!
so why a pattern you might wonder?! Well It's been a while since I last designed one and I kind of love making patterns, there's something really satisfying about the moment you first test out how seamless it is and then turn it into REALLY COOL stuff!

products from Society6 and RedBubble
 I have a few print-on-demand stores but by far my two favourites are Society6 and RedBubble. They offer a brilliant range of products and unlike a lot of other POD sites, their prices are fairly reasonable considering you're getting something that has been printed and made JUST FOR YOU! Excitingly at the moment, Society6 are also offering FREE WORLDWIDE SHIPPING until midnight on October 11th, so go treat yo self HERE

products from Society6 and RedBubble
 recently both sites have added even more products and now there's a whole bunch of lovely stuff that you can buy with my illustrations on! In case you're wondering about the quality of the products, I've bought a few of them myself over the years (because i'm a big saddo who loves to see her own work on stuff!). I can personally vouch for the printed tees, the iphone cases, vinyl stickers, cushions, tote bags and prints. And lately i've been hankering after a printed scarf or notebook.

all over print tees - Society6
 but the Halloween fun doesn't end there, oh no... there's also heaps of spoopy (no that's not a typo, click here to learn why) goodies available in my Etsy Shop

 this year we have lots of sparkly Halloween glitter brooches featuring teen tiny ghosties and other spooky critters! There are lots of designs to choose from + some one-of-a-kind brooches in the shop.

OOAK brooches - once they're gone, they're gone!
as if that weren't brilliant enough, as an added sweetener, i'm also throwing in free trick or treat sweeties with every brooch or necklace order this month! Why yes, those ARE Ghostbusters sweeties!!! 

Spooky brooches + sweeties = Happy Halloween
I've already posted a few Halloween brooches off the the UK, USA and Finland, so if you want yours in time for the spookiest of days, then get to the shop and pick out a treat! And if the Halloween brooches aren't your thing, then maybe you'd prefer a candy cute Troll doll pin or necklace instead!


yes I did inadvertently create a troll summoning circle while trying to take a photo of them all! Each tiny gem is hand applied by me to add to the general air of magic and kitschy cuteness that these mini trolls give off!

and now I can't think of anything else to say so i'm going to sign off before I start rambling again.

before I go, do YOU like Halloween or not? Is it called something different where you live like it is here (Hop-Tu-Naa for us Manxies) or do you not celebrate it at all? let me know in the comments below. I always reply because I spend my entire life online.

and on that note, bye for now! Thanks for reading.