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Friday, 9 October 2015

The 52 Week Illustration Challenge

"Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly"

(Robert F. Kennedy)

Earlier this year I joined a Facebook Group called the "52 Week Illustration Challenge" which was set up by author Tania McCartney and is managed by a host of exceptional illustrators. I joined the group on the recommend of another illustrator and enjoyed watching lovely illustrations pop up on my feed each week under a weekly theme.

As with most illustrators I know, I draw most days. Sometimes my drawing is for client's commissioned pieces and sometimes the drawing is for myself. If I sit and watch a movie at home at night there's a very good likelihood I will have a sketchbook on my lap and be pushing my pencil around the page for a creative workout. If I am on a train I will also pull out my little travel pad and lose myself between stations as I scribble and scrawl. On my lunch breaks when teaching youth theatre on the weekends I always open my art book and continue to make and create. I have never known to be bored when I am left to my own devices. To me, a blank page is a new world waiting to be born.

When I first started this illustration path two years ago I was involved in a Twitter drawing challenge every week but after a while the challenge stopped and I just went back to my own work. It was only about six weeks ago that I decided to actively join in on the 52 Week Illustration Challenge to push myself and my skills as an artist. So I thought: why not use all these personal drawing moments to respond to the challenge of drawing for a theme with this lovely Facebook group? I have nothing to lose. But the gains are wonderful: learning to respond quickly to a theme, developing style, honing skill, networking with other illustrators, having my work "out there" for positive commentary from the creative community.
And having a reason to draw even more!!

I started the challenge in week 35. Yes I came into the challenge later in the year! Better late than never though right? 

The themes I have participated in so far:

I created this on a lunch break with pencil and pen. Here is a little time lapse video of me drawing this that I took on my phone:

I love to dance! Every week I am a student in an adult contemporary class (lots of 80s music and power moves!). The emphasis of this class is on fun and community. I think that moving the body is like a shower for the soul. Sometimes in class I get so happy that I have to breath a bit deeper or I swear I will start crying happy tears! Regardless of age or circumstance I hope that I will dance throughout my life. 
I created two versions of this illustration: one without a background on one on a stage (to honour my theatrical roots!) I was very proud to discover that this illustration made it into the weeks pics on the official blog page for the 52 Week Illustration Challenge - Dance

I got right into the zen zone drawing this! I love fine liner work and hadn't really put a lot of this "out there" in the world.  I was really happy with how this geometric bird turned out.

I really enjoyed this particular theme. Being an Aussie girl, I knew I wanted to illustrate something that celebrated Australian Fauna. I started researching Australian mammals and ended up seeing just how many are disappearing forever. The more I read about endangered animals the more I wanted to create a statement that would catch people's attention and alert them to this issue. This illustration also was featured on the official blogs picks of the week 52 Weeks Illustration Challenge picks - Fauna

After more than a few requests I am happy to announce that I have uploaded this illustration to my Redbubble shop. 
"Endangered Australian Animals" can be purchased on quality prints, apparel, bags, stickers, stationery and more.

Illustrate the city I live in? Yes please! I spent a lot of time mulling over how to illustrate this theme as I adore the town I live in for so many reasons. I wrote a list of my favourite Melbourne experiences and locations and decided the best way to approach this was to create a novelty map of sorts. I didn't want to draw actual places but more encouraged those who visit to find these kinds of places and experiences. After putting it up on Instagram I was happy to see that the official account for the City of Melbourne clicked the like button!

Which brings me to the current week of the challenge.
As a sometimes actor I have had the joy of dressing up in many a different costume for festivals, events, and carnivals as a roving comic character. I decided to base this weeks theme on a character I often play called Lady Lovely. This character is accompanied by her male companion Lord Gorgeous. These two fops enjoy throwing compliments at everyone they meet! I enjoyed choosing the colour palette and designing the carnival masks for this illustration.

If you would like to join the challenge yourself (or just see some of the amazing contributions that have entered this challenge) head over the 52 Week Illustrations Challenge - Facebook page to check out the rules and how it all works!

Dreaming big,
Lou :-)

Thursday, 27 August 2015


"Do you want to know who you are? Don't just ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you."
(Thomas Jefferson)

Tick Tock Tick Tock.... Time to ACT!

This kickstarter campaign needs your help! The eBook I illustrated “The Day Jake Logan Robertson Ran out of Hugs” by A.Nicky Hjort and published by Jetblack Publishing is hoping to become a printed book along with another four beautiful children’s books! Printed books will go to schools, libraries, childcare facilities and galleries. Printed copies will also be donated to the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation (ALNF is the first independent charity in Australia dedicated to raising national language, literacy and numeracy standards, especially in remote and marginalised communities.)
But time is running out to raise the necessary $9000 to achieve this awesome goal. 

We have only til the 12th of September to raise the funds. So please, PLEASE consider pledging whatever you can to make this dream come true!

With this deadline in mind I have sprung into action. I have been actively talking to whoever will listen. Shouting it out on my facebook, through emails, through instragram and phone calls.... whatever mode I can activate to communicate!

I also made this little video:

I have been reading a lot about crowd funding recently and truly believe it is the way of the future for artists to get their work off the ground by those who care about what they do. 

If you can please make a pledge!

Graciously thanking you in advance,
Lou xo

Monday, 24 August 2015

Gracious Acceptance (and I need your help please!)

“Gracious acceptance is an art - an art which most never bother to cultivate. We think that we have to learn how to give, but we forget about accepting things, which can be much harder than giving.... Accepting another person's gift is allowing him to express his feelings for you.” (Alexander McCall Smith)

I love to give. I grew up in a big family and sharing what we had was part of the culture of who we were as a unit. It's stuck with me through the years. I've always preferred to give presents than to receive them. I get all excited and find it hard to keep a gift a secret! "I have a gift for you!" "I know it's not til next month but I just got you the best birthday present!" "Ahhhh!!! Open it already!" My whole body literally tremors with excitement when I think about someone receiving something from me that will bring them joy. I have fed friends over the years making meals magically stretch out so that they wouldn't go without (I have a lot of artist friends who need decent meals!) I have given time, money, energy to those around me to invest in those I care about. Sometimes I have given it to those I don't necessarily care about just because giving is ingrained in my training as a human being (thanks Mum!)
Give. Give. Give.
Giving is good.
But so is receiving. In fact, if you have one without the other then you can get all lopsided and your personal spiritual bank account can go into the red.
Before receiving you really have to put what you need out there into the world. 
This requires asking.

Strangely enough this is not easy for me. Giving - piece of cake. But asking? And asking to receive something?  What I have to actually ASK someone for... gulp... help? 
I need help with asking for help! 
I have been doing a lot of self work recently which naturally is flowing into my life in all kinds of ways. First up is the practice of valuing myself and honouring who I am and my purpose on this planet. To do this I am realising I have to first give love to myself. In giving love to myself and truly valuing my souls journey I realise this has opened up the passage to asking for help. "Help! I need somebody! Help! Not just anybody! Help! You know I need someone! Help" (Thank you to The Beatles for this lil mantra). 

First up I am asking myself to help myself.
(And I am writing this blog entry to help myself learn about helping myself - yes, we are falling down the rabbit hole here...) 
Second I am asking the universe in help with helping myself.
And thirdly I am being brave enough to ask and to ACCEPT the help offered.

So.. What am I asking help for?

Jetblack Publishing (the company who published my first ever illustrated book The Day Jake Logan Robertson Ran Out of Hugs) has started a crowd funding campaign through Kickstarter to turn this and another four books into printed copies. 50 % of the printed books will go to the generous people that pledge over $50. The other 50% will go to schools, libraries, childcare facilities, galleries etc. Some will go to the authors and illustrators too :-)

Jumping on this help wagon is easier than I thought - because I believe in sharing stories with children. I love picture books. I love reading. I love children. And I love illustrating for them! So the thought of holding an actual physical copy of a book I illustrated with much love and care truly fills my heart with unspeakable joy.

I love the idea of crowd funding. I have often gotten behind others to support their dreams using crowd funding. I have helped launch theatre shows and films, sent people to school to train in the arts, helped artists tour the world. The idea of having a reward alongside your pledge is a fantastic motivator for both the pledger and those who set up the crowdfunding. 
If you pledge over $50 your reward can include a copy of one of the five books. 
I just pledged this morning and requested a copy of my own book.

But there is a LONG WAY to go to reach target.
And only eighteen days!!! 
But with your help I know we can do it.


Here I go:

(Please and thank you in advance!)

CLICK HERE to help: You are awesome at helping!!

With much gratitude
Lou xo

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Finding Confidence

“You are perfect. To think anything less is as pointless as a river thinking that it’s got too many curves or that it moves too slowly or that its rapids are too rapid. Says who? You’re on a journey with no defined beginning, middle or end. There are no wrong twists and turns. There is just being. And your job is to be as you as you can be. This is why you’re here. To shy away from who you truly are would leave the world you-less. You are the only you there is and ever will be. I repeat, you are the only you there is and ever will be. Do not deny the world its one and only chance to bask in your brilliance.” 
(Jen Sincero, "You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life")

So a trusted friend recently told me that I might be lacking in confidence. 

Who me?

From the outside it often looks like I have got it all together: I am a teacher of young people and love nothing better than holding a mirror up to my students to show them their brilliance; I regularly post new art work up on social media with no apologies for the continual saturation of my images and I have plans and dreams for the future and talk about them to whoever will listen. And I am relatively poor in pocket but rich in spirit and try and focus on the latter when I get too down about the former.

But my friend was right.

I have some learning to go through when it comes to ACTUAL confidence in myself. Working with students I often find it easier to shine a light on them (as that's my job after all). I always walk away feeling ten foot tall after those classes where students "get it" and sink into their own selves with new found confidence. But when it comes to my own life and my own dreams (although I nut out at them every day), my self talk is not always positive. I try, but I often miss the mark. I'm too this or too that or I perhaps I really don't deserve to have this or experience that and I guess my lot in life is just this etc etc etc. I have my good days but I also have the days when it's all just a bit too hard.

Perhaps you know what I'm talking about. Perhaps you too have these self flagellating talks? The self doubt?

My friend pointed me in the direction of a book called "You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life" by Jen Sincero. I have to admit I am not a fan of reading self help books. I always start with good intentions but get bored and frustrated too easily and go back to reading my fantasy novels where I can lose myself. 
Lose myself.
Hmmm. Interesting turn of phrase.
There's a time a place to lose yourself (and I will continue to read fantasy novels and enjoy every moment of it).
But there's also a time and place to find yourself.

And THIS I have decided is the time to find myself. To move up to the next level of self awareness and harness the power of being to really find true confidence and pave out the awesome life I know that I want to live.

So I am reading this book. 
Actually it's the second time I am reading it.
The first time was a couple of months ago. I got about ten pages in and thought "This is too hard, where's that book where the maiden is a kick butt sword fighter?"
And I closed it. And went back to my maiden-slaying-the-dragon tale.

But it's been sitting there at the back of my mind that I need to make some changes within myself.

So a week ago I went back to the book.

And lo and behold this time it's resonating. 
I'm reading it slowly, letting all the words and concepts infiltrate in a day to day way. I don't normally read slowly. I'm a speed reader (I did a course when I was eleven and it stuck). 

This time though... no speeding.
Purposely reading every page at a slower pace.

And I'm letting myself be a glorious work in progress as I go.

I haven't nearly finished the book yet. 
But I will continue to be open to it and continue to read it and just go on this adventure.

And in between the pages I am taking time to write down personal affirmations. And to draw words that I want to infiltrate into my life and into my work.

Here is a video I made on the weekend of me drawing the word LOVE:

It was the first time I have ever made a time lapse video of me drawing. The video shows what I drew during my lunch break. It's interesting to see the seeming confidence in my hand when time speeds up. My hand knows what to do and enjoys the process of just taking the pen for a twisty, curly kind of walk across the paper.

That night I finished the drawing.
I added in more line work and then immediately regretted it.
"That was too much! Why didn't you just follow the grey lead pencil you had underneath? There's too many curls and leaves now!! Ahhh! It's just too much. I'M just always too much!"
Then I stopped. I realised the negative/self doutb path of thinking I was going down was not helping at all.

So I allowed myself to stop thinking and closed the sketchbook and listened to music for the rest of the night.

The next morning I opened my sketch book and found that I actually really liked what I had added. I actually LIKED the extra line work my hand confidently decided to add in.

All that initial negative thinking was just a waste of brain power.
Good thing I stopped when I did and let myself be immersed in music.

I thought: what if I applied this to the rest of my life? 
So yesterday I decided to make some music. I wouldn't call myself a musician as such - more of a lover of music and an avid in-the-car-in-the-shower singer. Last year I bought myself a ukulele to have as a sing-a-long instrument. It's relatively easy to play the basic chords and after a few months of playing my novelty uke I decided to upgrade and buy myself a non-novelty instrument.  I had a fantastic summer playing and learning new songs. But I haven't picked it up in earnest in almost six months. So I took it out of it's case and let my voice just sing what it wanted to sing. I ended up singing "Smile" (music by Charlie Chaplin) and started thinking about my network of friends and those who really could use extra love and energy in their lives right now. So without thinking, I hit record on my laptop and made a video. And hit upload to my Facebook page.


I then let it go for a few hours while I played my little heart out and just enjoyed having a Sunday music sesh.

When I checked on my Facebook a while later I had over 25 beautiful comments from friends. And at last check about 75 likes! No one said I was "too much". No one said I sung out of key. 
People actually thanked me.
Thanked me! For singing my heart out!

So here is the video (again, posting it without letting my thoughts go down any negative track).

There is a powerful lesson here for me.
I am letting it sink deep into my being today as I prepare to go and teach a public speaking class to young people.

Wherever you are when you read this give yourself permission to speak of yourself with love. You are the gardener of your thoughts. You can choose what you propagate and what you weed out.
With love,

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Seeking Joy

"Joy is not in things, it is in us"
(Richard Wagner).

I love this quote by the German classical composer. It made me smile when I found out the quote was attributed to Wagner. As a child my father would play Wagner on the piano late at night as I lay upstairs in my bed. The dramatics and intensity of his classical piano pieces were not what I would call soothing bed time music. I was sent off to sleep to this music as if being sent off on some crazy, fast paced adventure promising danger, challenges and much tension. And I loved it! 

Last night I was lucky enough to be invited by a friend to a women's story sharing circle. I had never been to anything like this before. A group of a dozen or so women gathered together in a small room above a pub in Melbourne and sat in a circle taking turns to share their own stories on a moment of joy.  Being my first time in this circle I was asked before the proceedings started if I would like to share a story of my own. Although a little nervous I said yes. The stories these women all shared in this sacred circle told of moments of triumph, overcoming challengers, transcendental happiness, friends who made an impact on our lives and of life and death itself. What amazed me about all of these powerful stories shared was that the most profound moments of joy often comes from a moment of despair, grief, sadness and feeling lost. My own story came from the same space. I told of the moment I knew I had to change my life and look for another adventure to pay my bills. You can read about that moment in one of my earliest blog posts: All about me

This sharing of joyful stories came at the perfect time. I should preface this paragraph by noting that I am generally a positive person. I choose to share and focus mostly on what is going well and on the hope I have for my own dream path. The last few weeks however I have been searching about for my own joy and feeling dare I say somewhat disheartened. It's easy to forget how far I have come since making this career change and embarking on a life to call myself a working artist. Working as a freelance artist can be filled with uncertainty and doubt  - and a fear of how the rent will be paid next month! Recently a friend and I were discussing that being a creative is a little like being a frog in a large pond. We have to keep swimming and searching for those lily pads of opportunity. Sometimes a fog rolls over the pond and it's hard to know what opportunities lie around or near you. And sometimes you might think that you can see through the fog and so you swim towards what looks like a lilypad.  But often what you thought would be a lilypad ends up being nothing more than a floating piece of wood that you can't hold onto or sit on. It's the constant rejection and the search for the next "gig". My actor friends are always auditioning, my musician friends are alway trying to score gigs, my writer friends always looking to secure publishers and my illustrator and design friends are always pitching. There are times when you feel you have been swimming for an age desperate for a rest from all this uncertainty and just trying to keep breathing amidst the knock backs.  This constant seeking can make one weary and tempt you to give up on your dream. I have been lucky over the last twelve months on my journey in having lilypads of opportunity to leap onto. Some of these have come in the form of artist in residency teaching in schools, acting gigs (some corporate and some television work) and paid illustration and design commissions. I have never been without a contract or a client in the last year. This last month or so I have been however been floating back into the fog of the pond calling out for new opportunities and met with nothing but fog.

Pulling yourself out of the fog is not easy. 

Dr Seuss says it perfectly in my favourite of his books "Oh! The places you'll go"
"You'll Come down from the Lurch with an upleasant bump.
And chances are, then, that you'll be in a Slump.
And when you're in a Slump, you're not in for much fun. 
Un-Slumping yourself is not easily done".

Oh Dr Seuss. You know us all too well (after all you too were a creative). So the question for me is how to get out of this slump. And the answer for me is this: To accept the slump. To witness the doubt and fear and let it pass through. To keep making work and sending out my creations into the world. To come back to what brings me joy. Art. And the making of it.

I. Won't. Give. Up.

(Sometimes it helps to shout it out to the universe. Also to shout it out with a quick dodgy but colourful illustration).
So this week I decided to work on the illustrations that make me smile. Just going back to searching inside myself as to what makes me feel simple joy.   And for me that's usually puns. And flowers. So I drew two new punny designs (to read about my absolute love of puns in a previous post - Puntastic!) and decided to put two of favourite illustrations out into the world in a different form. 
So I have spent the week updating my Redbubble shop.

Here is a sampler of the puns:
(In keeping with my own personal fog)
I Avo Crush Available on all kinds of products via Redbubble

And here are the two floral designs. These illustrations I made for an Art Show last year and until now were just sold as limited edition prints under different titles. I have renamed them "Floral He" and "Floral She". I have them framed in my bedroom and they always make my heart smile. I decided to send them into the world available as not just prints but on apparel, duvets, mugs, stickers, cases and other awesome products.

So whats next?
Well I really don't know.
But I know I will keep going and seeking my dream path.
And be open for the moments of joy.
And right in this moment after writing all of this down I am realising.
I AM feeling the joy.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

The Magic of Mandalas

"Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without."
(Gautama Buddha)

Early last year I stumbled across a creative business dreamed up by Sarah Wilder. I say "stumbled" but I feel that I am drawn to what I am drawn to for a purpose. Sarah designs mandala ring talismans in sterling silver.  I don't remember how I came across The Fifth Element Life website but I am glad that I did. I immediately fell in love with Sarah's mandala rings and felt drawn to one design that upon further inspection represented Creativity (of course it did!). 

Wearing my Creation Mandala Ring

Within a few months - with my new life getting into gear as a full time freelance artist - I was drawn to a second mandala ring: Motivation. These two silver rings serve as reminders of my journey as an artist and to firstly seek my own inner power before I send my work off into the world. The rings hold no magic power as such - but they remind me of my own power and ability to manifest my dream life.

Earlier this year I started to experiment with illustrating my own mandalas. Sometimes on paper, sometimes on the computer and sometimes on my own arm! There is an immense calm that emanates with creating an image from the centre and then radiating outwards.
A cup of tea, some colourful flowers and my sketchbook.

Experimenting with water colour

This is hung up above my studio desk. On the right are the two cards that came with my TFEL Mandala Rings.
When I look around my studio I realise I have been drawn to mandalas for a while. Several years ago I was fascinated with creating dreamweavers. The calm that emanated while stringing them is the same calm I feel when I draw mandalas. 
A dreamcatcher I made several years ago
A dream catcher I made years ago that celebrates music. 

And of course right above my desk is a colour wheel I painted when I was at design school.  When I look at it I am drawn to the white space in the middle and the delightful way that the colours frame this clear space. My artist mannequins celebrate the light next to a salt lamp (and under a Hawaiian Lei - because why not?) Colour and light are mandatory in my happy little studio.


Earlier this year when Sarah Wilder announced that she was looking for contributors for a mandala colouring-in eBook I knew I had to put forth a submission! I am proud to announce that a mandala I created entitled "We are Stardust" is included in the beautiful book. You can read all about the book here: 111 Mandala Meditation Magick 

To celebrate the joy of mandalas and bringing them into my life with purpose and colour I have created another mandala design which is available on my Redbubble Shop. I have called this one "Creativity Mandala". 

This mandala illustration serves to remind me to come back to my quiet place and take time to breathe and just be to let my creativity flow from my core. The colours emanate with the creative possibility and potential that lies within each of us when we are quiet and peaceful. Our most authentic inner selves can radiate outwards in all compass directions with ease and joy when move from our centre. 

The Creativity Mandala is available on tshirts, prints, hoodies, posters, greeting cards, pillows, travel mugs, tote bags, and EVEN LEGGINGS!! Yes! Colourful grounded legs will dance the day away in these beauties :-)
Be the colour in room wearing these creative threads!
Rest your head and let your inner calm permeate

KIDS T-SHIRTS, BABY JUMPSUITS (lots of size & colour choices)

You can check out my Redbubble shop (and all my other designs avaialable on a range of awesome product here: Lou Endicott - Redbubble Portfolio and shop

Wherever your day takes you I hope you remember to take time out to come back to yourself and breathe in the richness of your being.

Creatively yours,

Friday, 6 March 2015

Self Belief

"The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it"
(J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan)

It's been a jam packed few weeks since the release of my first illustrated children's book "The Day Jake Logan Robertson Ran out of Hugs" (written by A.Nicky Hjort). As the publishing company (Jetblack Publishing) is a relatively new and smaller publicity house much of the promotion and sale of the book comes back to the author and the illustrator letting the public know about it. I have spent as much time as possible over the last few weeks talking to people about the book face to face, through emails and on social media. I think when you are proud of the work you have done (and have spent so much time and energy on a project) it's easier to gather your own sense of pride and belief and tell as many people as possible about it!

I am trusting more and more in my dream to live off my art and to make not just my living as a creative but to make a GOOD living as a creative. It's a large leap of faith (and a challenging road to be an artist!), but the signs are all there that it is possible if I just keep working at it every day and back myself. I must say in following this path I am truly the happiest I have ever been. Backing myself means looking after myself. Speaking kindly to myself, eating healthy and delicious food, exercising regularly (I started jazz dance classes last month!) and continually working on my art and my creativity. I am filled with purpose on a day to day level. I think having purpose is one of the keys to having a full life. So is gratitude. The smallest blessings become more and more obvious. Gratitude is the measure of a rich heart and a joyous spirit.

After sending out some publicity emails I was contacted by a reporter from "The Weekly Review" - a Melbourne weekly full colour magazine. The writer - Sarah Harris - wrote up a lovely story of my creative journey.

"The Weekly Review" also has an online editorial. Which in terms of getting a story out there makes it easier to share around in this digital age! You can read the little feature here: Feature Article