Shifting out of a creative block.

Creative block to me is a frustration with my work which leads to a lack of dedication to it. It flairs up all the thoughts of not being good enough, of wasting my time, and thinking who am I to have the audacity to believe myself an artist. 

I felt blocked for a very long time in this way, it feels like a couple of years now, and though my business and income from my drawing grew, my sketchbook was abandoned. I couldn’t see myself in my work and didn’t feel like I was growing creatively. I was better at marketing and worse at drawing, filling me with a huge sense of imposter syndrome anytime someone commissioned me for a drawing project.

I fell out of love with drawing, which is precarious considering that it’s also my job. 

Happily, I finally feel like I’ve turned a page the last three months, I’m obsessed with drawing at the moment, and unashamedly in love with what I’m creating. I’ll try and concisely share what’s happened and helped to create this shift, in the hope that it can help someone else (and for me to reference back to when I inevitably stumble upon another block).

To quickly summarise, my 3 keys to how I shifted out of creative block are:

  1. Morning Pages / a daily commitment.
  2. Connect your daily creative commitment to another passion.
  3. Create your own project, preferably within a Beginners Mind setting.

Firstly, I am starting with perhaps a cliché, as I’m sure most of you will have heard of The Artists Way by Julia Cameron. This book should live on every creatives bookshelf and is something I turn to whenever I’ve been blocked. The full course is a huge commitment so my use of it is a little less all-consuming. One day I’d love to commit fully to the 12 week course, Elizabeth Gilbert attributes it to the creation of Eat Love Pray, and she is one of my greatest inspirations.

I find this book to be a good launching point even if you don’t complete the 12 weeks (I don’t think I’ve ever actually got past week 2). For me the most essential thing from the book is The Morning Pages. This is 3 pages long-hand stream of consciousness journaling, every morning before your day starts.  It’s a hard-core commitment that I find I do with absolute enthusiasm for the first 10 days or so, then they become evening pages, then a day gets missed and then they get forgotten about. I’m sure many people can relate to this succession of events when attempting to establish a new habit.

Why I want to start here though is that this was the springboard that got me out of my block. I think it depends how deep in a block you are, but I find these Morning Pages can work their magic much quicker than having to fully commit to 12 weeks.

What I feel this commitment to the pages sparked for me was, well, commitment. When you start your day with something that is a hard nod towards your absolute dedication to your creativity, it becomes easier to think about picking up your sketchbook and filling a page or two. One thing I noticed I was writing in these pages was, “Today I picked up my sketchbook”, again and again these words were written. 

As the Morning Pages dwindled from my daily schedule the feeling of commitment didn’t. Instead of writing I was drawing. My meditation practice also became an easy daily habit. I wonder if because the form of my creative expression isn’t writing that my daily Morning Pages became daily sketchbook pages. They felt like they were having the same effect.

So step one is start with The Morning Pages.

The second step that led to me not only creating everyday, but also to loving what I was creating, came in the form of another daily commitment. I joined (for the third time) the wonderful 28 Moon Mornings project with Merilyn of Mylky Moon Lab. 

I have been falling more and more in love with cyclical living and learning about the moon and the daily energies. Last year I had a mentoring session with Merilyn and she suggested that I connect to and express the energy creativity through drawing. I couldn’t. Maybe because I was blocked then, but for some reason this time round I just got it. I felt I could draw what I was connecting to each day. This was when I started creating work that I fricking love (you can see the full collection of drawings created during these 28 days in my last blog post).

So step 2 is connecting your creativity to another passion. It stopped feeling like drawing was work and more like creative expression, a form of self-care, and that the marks on the pages marked that I had lived this day.

A similar pattern emerged for me as with the Morning Pages. The first 10 days I was there every morning, and soon it become Moon Evenings. But contrary to Julia Cameron’s advice that the Morning Pages absolutely should be done in the Morning, and probably that is optimal, for me it’s just the unwillingness to go to bed unless it had been done. A 100% commitment to not letting a day slip by without it happening is what I feel is important here. 

My third step in the last few weeks is what I feel has cemented the feeling of not being blocked anymore. The Moon Mornings project finished and I’m still creating daily, committing myself to another self-curated 28-day project. 28 days feels like a really good number to work with for me, especially as it links to cyclical living and the moon cycles. 

This new project is working with a new medium, which is helpful as it pushes me into Beginners Mind, making it easier to leave perfectionism at the door, and feels fun and playful. I’ve been holding onto this beautiful natural ink made by Kathryn John and I can’t express how in love with this ink I am. It’s been quietly sitting amongst my pens for a year as I feel it needs an extra special project to be used for, but also I’m a little uncertain of how to best work with it. For 28 days I’ve decided to draw only with this gorgeous ink and a paintbrush, breaking away from my comfortable hold of a fine liner pen, because I can’t think of a more special project than a journey out of creative block.

Now brewing in my mind is a year-long project starting on my birthday in October. I can’t think of a better way to mark the passing of a year than a dedicated collection of drawings to mark each day, and I’m sure I’ll be documenting that here on my blog.

I really hope this telling of my journey is helpful. I know I will stumble upon a block again at some point, I feel personally it’s an inevitable part of being creative, especially when you’re creativity also pays your bills and all the knots that money and expression can tie you up in. 

Lastly, I just want to say, be gentle with yourself. I promise you the block won’t last forever. In the depths of it I thought I just wasn’t made to be creative, but I am, and so are you. The only thing you need to do is commit to creating.

Art is not about thinking something up. It is the opposite — getting something down.” – Julia Cameron

28 Moon Mornings as Sketchbook Pages

Day 1 & 2 – New Moon in Gemini

28 Moon Mornings is a beautiful immersive journey held by Merilyn Keskula of Mylky Moon Lab. In her own words:

“This online offering is introducing you to the life I’m passionate about – one that is honouring and aligned with the spiralling cycles within and around us – and integrating this ancient understanding into the modern way of living… It’s not about perfection, but journey, the process. Being able to live life from the place of understanding, acceptance and alignment.”

It’s not an understatement to say tuning into cyclical living the last 2 years has changed my life. Beginning on the 10th June 2021, this was my third time joining as Merilyn led me and a group of inspiring women through 28 days of the Moon and the energies surrounding us as She moves through each astrological sign (something that happens every 2.5 days). Capturing the energy in my sketchbook felt like my most intuitive form of connection and I thought I would share the pages with you here. Each page feels to me like a journal entry, I can remember how I was feeling as I look at each drawing, the days of calm and the days of frustration that I feel are present in the lines. And in perfect synchronicity, the very last drawing fell on the last page of my sketchbook, on the inside of the outside cover.

Day 3 – Moon in Cancer
Day 4 – Moon in Cancer
Day 5 – Moon in Leo
Day 6 – Moon in Leo
Day 7 & 8 – Moon Waxing Crescent in Virgo
Day 9 & 10 – First Quarter Moon in Virgo Moving to Libra
Day 11 & 12 – Sun Moves into Cancer, Moon in Libra Moving into Scorpio, Summer Solstice
Day 13 & 14 – Moon in Scorpio Moving into Sagittarius
Day 15 & 16 – Full Moon in Sagittarius Moving into Capricorn
Day 17 & 18 – Moon in Capricorn Moving into Aquarius
Day 19 & 20 – Waning Gibbous Moon in Aquarius Moving into Pisces
Day 21 & 22 – Moon in Pisces, Third Quarter Moon in Aries
Day 23 & 24 – Moon in Aries Moving into Taurus
Day 25 & 26 – Waning Crescent Moon in Taurus
Day 27 & 28 – Waning Crescent Moving into the Dark Moon in Gemini

Thank you Merilyn for your wisdom and inspiration. I feel really proud of this body of work and hope to continue working with these energies to inform my art practice – creating work that is more abstract, more in-tune with the feminine energy, and more a representation of what I would like to express through my drawings.

Quick and easy product photography for selling art prints.

Many times I’ve read that product photography is one of the most important aspects of successful selling online. When I first started selling prints of my work this felt like a big hurdle as I couldn’t afford to hire a photographer.

If you’re in the same situation, don’t worry, I’ve got two things to share that have helped me. One day I would still love to invest in having my work professionally photographed, but this is what has worked in the meantime.

A quick note that this post is focused on art prints because that’s mostly what I sell.

Firstly you will need a jpg of your art, and I imagine if you’re selling prints you will already have one, as this will be the file you use to create your prints. Either scan your work, or If your work is too big for a scanner, then you’ll need to photograph as best as you can a flat image which you can then crop to the correct size. This is easily done with your phone camera if that’s all you have to work with.

The beauty of a mock up.

At first I struggled with making mock ups work for me but there are two ways that I always use them now.

  1. The free app Voun. You can pay for a few more options, but it’s perfect for a clean and simple image of your work framed. Just have the jpg saved to your phone photos and drop it into the app. You can play around with background colours etc to suit your branding. I like a simple white background and a black or wooden frame. I just always make sure to turn off the ‘reflection’ which you do by clicking on the frame to bring up the setting toggles.

2. Buy a couple of mock ups. Search on google or Etsy for “frame mock ups” to find lots of different styles. My favourite shop for these is 7thFloorStudio and if you have a basic understanding of photoshop then these are easy to use and a good budget option.

A mock up of the teapot print.

So with a jpg of your work, a couple of Voun frames and one or two mock ups you’re well on your way to having a beautiful gallery of your work to show a potential buyer.

I do take a few extra photos sometimes using my phone camera. I find that a little editing in VSCO and a play around with styling can help a lot (hint: textured backgrounds are great, whether its a crumpled linen sheet or a wooden table). I also love close up shots to reveal beautiful textures or the way the line sits on the paper.

Mothering Sunday Gift Ideas

With Mothering Sunday around the corner I thought I’d put together a quick little guide of a few things in my shop I think would make lovely gifts for your mum or grandmother. Also you can get 10% off until 22nd March anything in the shop just use the coupon code: MOTHERSDAY

I’ve a lovely collection of cards available here. I think this Roses one is perfect in its simplicity, but could also be cute if you have little ones who could colour it in themselves to add an extra special touch.

I have a collection of work printed on this beautiful eco-friendly Lokta paper which you can read more about here. These prints are a limited run of four and are all based around seasonal flowers. There’s only a few left but you can see prints that are still available here.

I’m a little bit in love with drawing plants and flowers which means my shop is full of prints perfect for your mum. The beauty is they last much longer than a bunch of flowers too 😉

If there’s any flower in particular that you’d love to see drawn in my style then you can pop me an email and I’d love to create either a new print or a bespoke piece of work for you. You can email me: carissatanton@gmail.com or if you follow me on Instagram pop a hello into my DMs.

My final suggestion would be one of my original pieces. The one above is inspired by a rose leaf and drawn on my handmade paper. Any sketches that would normally be popped into the recycling I now blend up and make my own paper with, a wonderful circular way of using paper that’s better for the planet, and also makes the most beautifully textured paper. There’s always a few more originals flowing in and out of the shop that you’re welcome to check out here.

A To Cultivate List.

Today I started a “to cultivate list” as I’ve been prioritising my to do list over cultivating habits that I really want in my life. However, I do find that there’s a lot of things I’d like to be part of my daily life that it would be overwhelming to force myself to try and get them done every day. So to take the pressure off I decided I don’t have to try to do all of them every day, I’d just like them to feature in my week at least once and to prioritise making as much space as possible for them around that to do list.

Speaking of to do lists I’ve also recently been going through mine and striking off anything that I don’t actually need to do. I love this quote from Francine Jay: “My goal is no longer to get more done, but rather to have less to do.” There are so many “to dos” on our lists that I want to question why they’re there. We’re told so much about what we need to do in order to be healthy and successful and fulfilled. Those things are so subjective that we need to decide what to eliminate and what to keep. There is no way that I am getting up at 5am or going to the gym. I’ve my own idea of what a fulfilled successful life looks like and it involves as many lie ins as possible and walks in nature over gyms. Everyone’s idea of success is different, a 5am run might feature on your list and you hate the idea of practicing yoga, just make sure your striving for your own and not someone else’s ideal.

Throughout May I’ve made it a priority to write ‘Morning Pages’. If you’ve not heard of them they come from The Artists Way, a book by Julia Cameron, and they’re a daily writing practice in which you fill 3 pages of long hand writing in a stream of consciousness style. It’s basically a brain dump of all the repetitive thoughts we have floating around in our heads, and although they’re called Morning Pages, mine rarely happen in the morning. I’ve only missed a couple of days, and rather than beat myself up about it I just accepted that those days didn’t have the space for them. For me it’s quite a private practice and some days I can’t get the alone time and that’s okay. One of the days the sun shone so much in North Wales that I couldn’t bear to tear myself away from the garden, and I consider that a day well lived. These tools that we bring into our lives like meditation and journaling are supposed to make our lives better. If we use them as another stick to beat ourselves with then they aren’t serving us. Try making your demands on yourself lighter, like doing something a few times a week rather than forcing yourself to do it every single day. Find what works for you.

I’ve been working through the Prioritization meditation course on the Headspace App, which I’d highly recommend if you’d like to cultivate a meditation practice. Today the question was asked, “what’s not getting done and why?” I decided to create this list and pick out why certain things weren’t getting done. I wasn’t consistently drawing as I didn’t have clarity over what I wanted that to look like. Other questions you could ask is do I need more clarity on this? Does it really fit in with the life I want to cultivate? Am I uncertain on how to approach this? Can I make it easier and simpler? Does tracking it help me to cultivate it? I’m going to track the things I’ve placed on my ‘to cultivate list’ and see what is getting left behind so that I can analyse why. I know already drawing is so important to me but is being very neglected. So starting from today I’ve decided to add in that I’ll fill a sketchbook page following writing my morning pages. I think when we’ve already nailed consistency with something then it’s good to try and tie that in with something else we want to cultivate. Think of the things that you do so regularly you wouldn’t’ consider not doing them. Can you be more mindful when brushing your teeth. Can you make sure you drink a glass of water every time you boil the kettle to make a cup of tea (presuming your tea drinking habit is as intertwined into your day as much as mine is!)

I hope you’ve found this a little helpful. I think cultivating the life we want rather than what we think we should want is really important. I’m also aware that there’s a lot of privilege around being able to make time for all these things, but I hope that whatever your life looks like, you can carve out a little space to grow where you want to. And if you’re curious this is my current to cultivate list:

To cultivate:

  1. Journaling
  2. Drawing
  3. Meditation
  4. Yoga
  5. Reading
  6. Walk
  7. Gardening
  8. Making paper
  9. Calligraphy

On Not Writing Beautiful Sentences

I always wanted to be a writer. I studied English Literature at university and thought that would always be the path my creativity would take. I adore getting lost in books. I have been struck so hard in the chest by the power of a sentence that has summed up a feeling about something I sometimes didn’t even know I felt until I read it. Words are powerful and I have never felt comfortable using them. Maybe I’ve just been trying to hard. 

My last attempts were a futile stringing together of words into poems that I read at poetry nights when I was living in Paris in my early twenties. Reading them felt like being caught naked in my worst most saggy underpants, exposed on the page in the most unflattering light as my inability to write a thought provoking or beautiful sentence led to a jumble of clichés and unexpressed ideas. But recently I have felt that urge to write again. My creativity has been satisfied by drawing but the desire to write has been lingering around those moments when I can’t fall asleep because my head is so full of ideas that it feels it might burst.

I’ve just started re-reading The Artists Way by Julia Cameron, and for anyone else who has read it you’ll know about the Morning Pages. Mine rarely happen in the morning but every day for 12 weeks you write 3 pages stream of consciousness style to unblock your creativity. I’m only 3 days in but writing has been like taking the over flowing recycling basket that’s always spilling out of the cupboard and separating it into it’s glass, paper and plastic bins outside. Possibly not the most lovely of metaphors but I’m trying to let go, this isn’t supposed to be beautiful sentences. Writing has allowed me to sort out the mess that’s in my brain, put things into their right categories or throw things out, leaving an empty more peaceful space and a cupboard that isn’t overflowing every time I open it.

What’s come up for me is that I want to write out my ideas. They’re not ground breaking ideas, they’re not ideas that I think are the only right ideas. They’re just something that I want to turn into coherent sentences, like taking a wild sea and turning it into a calm reflection. I want clarity and to share ideas that start conversations. I don’t want to be a blogger or a writer. In fact, these labels have stopped me from writing and putting ideas online for fear of imposter syndrome. I’m not trying to be something I am not. I would just like some writing that could be an accompaniment to my drawings, what fuels them and inspires them, or even just write about making them. 

I think the best thing you can do with an idea is share it. I’m not going to have a consistent schedule for these writings, they will come as and when, and they’ll be put on the page as they come out of my head much like this is. I find myself blocked by rules and schedules so I’m doing my best not to make them. There won’t be a coherent set of topics. I want to write about sustainability, creativity, tea, self-care, money, reading, having enough, having less, the art of drawing, walking, paper and who knows what other crazy ideas might pop up in that twilight moment between wakefulness and being asleep. Nothing more than ideas shared on a page, an emptier space in my head, a spring board for conversations.

Kyobancha – Japanese Roasted Green Tea

The more I drink different teas, the more I fall in love with tea drinking cultures, and the complexities and stories that lie in the tea leaves. From the Japanese I’ve learnt the importance of following the changing of the seasons, this is such an intrinsic part of life in Japan to the point that Japanese textbooks for learning English contain a section on how to explain seasonality to foreigners! 
 
In a Japanese tea room the changing of the seasons is intertwined with everything from the flower arrangement and the artwork hanging on the wall, to the type of tea that is served and the tea utensils that are used. For example the poetic use of a copper kettle in October to reflect the changing colour of the leaves. 

It’s this seasonal appreciation that I want to weave into my drawing and my tea drinking, and to share with you too, because even in the depths of winter we can find things to celebrate.
 
For me Kyobancha (京番茶), a roasted Japanese green tea, whose caramel smokiness reminds me of cosy dark evenings, is the perfect tea to drink through January.

Harvested in late March from winter matured leaves it is considered the last tea of the year (the tea production year starts in April/May), so as January marks the ending of one year and starting the next, so does Kyobancha. Plus as the leaves have matured over the winter this means they are full of nutrients, perfect for balancing out all the indulgences of December. 

‘Kyo-’ refers to the tea’s origin as Kyobancha is a speciality of Kyoto Prefecture in Japan. ‘Bancha’ simply means ‘common tea’ making it a tea that is enjoyed daily by the locals. Rarely offered outside of Japan, it is even quite rare to find it in Japanese supermarkets. 

After being picked the leaves are steamed in order to stop the oxidation process and then dried. There is no rolling process involved in the production unlike most Japanese green teas. The leaves are then roasted giving this tea its unique flavours of slight sweetness with hardly any astringency or bitterness. The roasting reduces the caffeine so it can be enjoyed anytime of the day. 

Brewing Guide: 

The leaves of Kyobancha are quite big so it’s recommended to use a large tea pot to allow space for them to infuse. It’s also worth experimenting with different quantites and brewing times to see how you like it prepared but as a guideline here’s my favourite method:

Use 3g of tea leaves for 200ml boiling water. Infuse for 3 minutes. 


Kyobancha can be reinfused 2 more times adding on an extra minute per infusion.


Can also be made into an iced tea by steeping with cold water for 2-3 hours, delicious in the summer.

You can find Kyobancha tea in my favourite tea shop Seibiant.

Eco Friendly Prints

Every drop in the ocean counts. – Yoko Ono

As a small business owner I feel a huge responsibility to make sure that what I’m adding to the world has as little environmental impact as possible. It can feel a bit overwhelming sometimes, especially when we feel like such small fish in a big (plastic filled) ocean, but really every little effort helps. So I’ve been working hard to source products that are as eco friendly as possible. I’ve aimed to have zero plastic in my products, and use recycled paper products where possible as well as thinking about the transportation impacts of any products.

I thought I’d share below the products I’m currently using or have experimented with. I’ll come back and update when I find something new, and please get in touch if you know of anything that can make more of a difference.

  1. Paper. I hadn’t even thought of my paper and it’s impact or where it comes from. I discovered something called Lokta Paper which is fantastic and I could buy from a local shop, but someone pointed out to me the impacts of importing paper from Nepal so I’m now working through a sample pack that I got from a UK based paper mill: Frogmore Paper Mill. The paper is beautiful and made from 50% recycled materials. There’s lots of lovely pieces to choose from with sparkly silver additions or pressed flowers. I tried their simple cartridge paper and unfortunately it doesn’t make as quality a print as my current paper. But I’d love to find a way to use them, maybe with a separate collection of prints.
  2. Display packaging. I had been using biodegradable plastic cello to display my prints in shops and thought that was all good. However I have since read that it’s not really a viable solution to plastic waste. A friend pointed me in the direction of glassine, a glossy paper that is water, air and grease resistant and I’m in love with it! It’s not 100% opaque but feels quite luxurious. You can order from them here, there not exact matches for paper sizes but pretty close.
  3. Washi Tape. I love it because you can get it in beautiful patterns but it’s also a paper alternative to cellotape. I buy mine from Majasbok because I love her work, but you can find it in most craft stores, Etsy, Ebay etc. I’m currently in the process of getting my own printed! If you need something stronger I’ve heard about gum backed paper but never used it myself.
  4. Cardboard. I use this to protect my prints, either as backing to the glassine envelopes or to protect them in the post. I buy greyboard from Ebay as it’s made from low grade recycled fibres. My only issue is that the paper sizes are always a couple of mm smaller than my paper.
  5. Envelopes. I buy board backed recycled ones online from ebay or green stationary.
  6. Tissue Paper. When sending prints out in the post I tend to wrap them in recycled tissue paper that I buy from eBay.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you want to talk about eco friendly business ideas. I’m now looking into how to make my art practice more eco friendly, with the pens and paper I use to create my drawings, so feel free to send me recommendations.

Much love,

C.

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Continuous Sundays

Continuous Sea Line Drawing

Continuous Sea Print available here.

So what is Continuous Sunday’s? You place your pen on paper and then don’t lift it until the drawing is finished, forced to create lines where they don’t normally exist, a beautiful sketch that follows a path you can’t quite predict. It started with me and my friend Harriet (@harriet_lowther) finding fun ways to create art in a way that felt free and didn’t require perfection but just the joy of creation. This challenge of restriction allows one to create in an alternative way, a way that tells the story of how the pen has been led across the paper.

We started the project back in April of 2017 but we let it slip aside as other projects filled our sketchbooks. At the time it was wonderful to peruse the hashtag and see the contributions from other artists, the greatness of Instagram being shown in its ability to create mini communities around ideas (we also had eyes closed drawing Thursdays and left handed drawings Tuesdays!). We’re certainly not the creators of one line drawings, Picasso used to draw them of his sausage dog and I’m sure many artists have created them before and after him too.

So whilst picking grapes in Germany I met a new friend, Nora, and we made one line drawings together. I realised how much I had missed dedicating a part of my Sunday to my sketchbook to fill a page with one line, and I’d also of the inspiration from other artists every Sunday that flowed in. So here’s to starting it again, and it’s open to all kinds of creators, I’d loved to see it applied to other art forms. I once created one using a long photo exposure and a torch. I’m sure there are other beautiful adaptations of the idea too. So join me on Sundays and use the hashtag #continuousundays on instagram so I can see what you’ve created.

C.

If you’re interested in more of my ponderings you can sign up to my newsletter here.

Continuous Plant Print available here.

The Way of Tea

When I’m not drawing I’m drinking tea.

TeacupsWeb

The Japanese tea ceremony (茶道 literally “the way of tea”) conjures up ideas of complex tea ware and formal etiquette that doesn’t have space in our everyday lives. Yet I think if we break down the ideas behind this beautiful celebration of the mundane, we can create our own little ceremonies and tea traditions that add a little art to the simple everyday act of making a cup of tea.

Okakura Kakuzō wonderfully describes the ceremony in The Book of Tea as “an improvised drama whose plot was woven about the tea, the flowers, and the paintings. Not a colour to disturb the tone of the room, not a sound to mar the rhythm of things […] all movements to be performed simply and naturally.” We don’t need to completely mimic the drama of a Japanese tea ceremony in order to put more thought into the simple act of tea drinking. We can adapt some of the simpler ideas though, such as creating a peaceful space to sit with a beautiful painting or simple flower arrangement upon which to rest ones gaze in a quiet moment of meditation. Our own ceremony can be developed from what we already have access to and from just giving a bit more time for carefully selecting our favourite cup and teapot.

My partners family teashop is named ‘Seibiant’, a welsh word meaning to pause and take a moment in the day for a little piece of respite. This moment hopefully already exists in your life simply and naturally, and we can take ideas from the tea ceremony to make it a little more nourishing.

Of course I can’t discuss the ceremony without talking about tea, though if you don’t like tea then this can be adapted to whatever your favourite beverage is, even a glass of water. When I used to work in the tea shop I was frequently asked about my views on the British builders brew, as customers would tentatively ask for milk for their tea. I would explain that what goes into a tea bag is classed as “dust”, swept from the floor of the tea sorting room once all the tea grading has been done and the best leaves have been selected. We add milk (and some add sugar) because the low quality and broken leaves make the tea taste bitter. However I’m not going to judge on peoples tea drinking preferences, tea is for your taste and my only wish is for it to be enjoyed. I occasionally do love a good builders brew, I was brought up on this stuff and it is my tradition. Nothing makes me happier than to sit with a friend with low grade black tea improved with a splash of milk and accompanied by a biscuit.

I would hasten to add though that most tea bags are made with plastic and the act of making a pot of  loose leaf tea adds more chance for ceremony, so if you fancy stepping up your tea drinking game, then loose leaf and a teapot would be a great place to start. There are a myriad of loose leaf teas out there filled with stories, traditions, different tastes and intriguing brewing methods. So I would also encourage you to sample some of the wonderful teas that the world offers. A cupboard full of teas is a beautiful thing to have and allows one to choose a tea dependent on your mood, the changing weather, the time of day or season of the year.

To conclude I’ve made a little recipe for making your own tea drinking ceremony:

1. Find a quiet space in which you can sit a few moments, preferably with something simple and beautiful to look at.

2. Select your favourite tea cup and a tea that suits your current mood, the season, the weather etc

3. Take your time to prepare the tea, even if it’s a tea bag in a mug, pour the water slowly.

4. Sit and savour, really focus on the flavour and the way you feel.

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I would love to hear about your own tea ceremonies and feel free to get in touch with any questions (I’m mostly on Instagram @carissatanton). And if you’re looking for some beautiful loose leaf teas, as always I recommend checking out Seibiant.

Happy tea drinking.

C

In Search of Style

stripeman copy

Style:

noun
  1. a particular form, appearance, or character.
  2. distinctive characteristic, mode of action or manner of acting.
  3. a mode of living.

I’ve been thinking a lot about style recently. Not just in a way of drawing or painting or writing or composing or dressing but in all aspects where style is expressed. Style is the way by which something is usually done and therefore our style encompasses everything we do.

I think that a lot of people (myself included) can feel a bit lost when it comes to embracing, or “discovering”, their own style. Personally this has been more in terms of finding a drawing style, but I think the same goes for anything, and that it’s about finding something that feels comfortable and best expresses what you want to put out into the world.

“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.” – Rachel Zoe

I wouldn’t say that I have found my style and I’m sticking to it no matter what, on the contrary I have so much to learn and the way I draw is constantly evolving and I hope it never stops. In trying different forms of creating I figured out what was most important to me, and that was to be able to easily create anywhere in a simple way. My style evolved from this practicality and is why I decided to make my tools minimal: black pen and white paper.

Seeking your own style in my opinion is more to do with figuring out what works for you and what’s important to you. If you want to find your artistic style maybe take a look at another part of your life in which you feel most comfortable with. For example look at how you dress, if it’s colourful and bold and you feel great in your clothes then perhaps you would feel comfortable painting in this style too. Or look at how you cook. If you love to keep to simple recipes that you come back to again and again, then maybe this philosophy is also mirrored in how you dress, and then could be a key aspect of your creative style too.

Finding your style is a lot about looking inwards, because really your style already exists, you are your style. However if you are finding it hard to identify your style in anyway then it can also be helpful to look outwards to find what it is that you do and don’t like, I’ve found Pinterest a particularly helpful place to turn to in this aspect, it’s about trying things on and seeing if they fit and feel familiar or comfortable.

Whilst looking outwards there becomes a defining point in which you realise that you can appreciate something on someone else and realising it’s not for you. I am in love with colourful and detailed illustrations but it’s not how I draw. This realisation has slowly given clarity in other areas of my life. For example I’ve always struggled with what to wear. Now I feel more comfortable with understanding my style, and if you look at the way I draw perhaps you can imagine the way I feel most comfortably dressed. Now I often find clothes, appreciate the pieces beauty and detail, then put it back down and go and find some black jeans. It’s not my style and I won’t feel comfortably me in it. Previously I’d have taken it home, worn it once, then left it hanging in my mismatched wardrobe.

I think I’ve identified that everything in my style could be boiled down to the seeking of simplicity and I’m a bit obsessed with the ideas of slow living and minimalism. So now my wardrobe is mostly black and white (with a touch of pink). I almost have a uniform of jeans, t shirt and a jumper. My home is white walled and tidy with everything in its place. My drawing are pen and paper, sometimes using patterns to add detail where colour would in someone else work.

So if you’re seeking your style I’d recommend looking at other aspects of your life but also think about how you want each area to look and feel, as it may not all currently be reflecting your true style.

“Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.” – Gore Vidal

If you’ve got any tips on how you found your style I’d love to here them, either comment below or come say hi on instagram (@carissatanton).

Much Love

C.

Favourite Brussels Finds

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08.08.2017

…For lunch: Chyl Cafe, Rue de Belle-Vue 62. Delicious, healthy, hip with lots of plants. They make amazing fresh mint tea.

…For disco balls  & drinking cocktails surrounded by Dali paintings: Dali’s Bar, Petite Rue des Bouchers 35.

…For dancing on tables: Le Corbeau, Rue Saint-Michel 18.

…For art: Musees Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Rue de la Régence 3.

C.