I have just finished my M.A in Children's Book Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art and thoroughly enjoyed it. I consider myself an illustrator with a four days a week job and I have an unhealthy addiction to sugar which I am trying to curb. The following entries are my drawings and musings. All images are copyright of Kerina Strevens. Please contact me on my website kerinastrevens.co.uk.
I have heard news this week that has dampened my Christmas spirit a little bit. It's made me think though, about how hard this time of year is for some people and how we should make the most of everything that we have. Apart from this news, I have been gently easing myself into the festive period. I had a great session at a care home and we had a lot of fun and I've had the Christmas tunes on. December is going to be a bit of a lull month for me as a lot of the homes had the whole of their Decembers booked up before I'd really got started with the business. I'm planning and booking for January now. One thing I am really grateful for is that I have managed to leave my old job before all this Christmas madness and it means I should be able to enjoy Christmas this year and I won't be getting gradually more and more harassed until I have the big, two days off. I haven't felt so pleased for a while. I'm looking forward to a Christmas with the family, which is much more likely now I don't have only two days to do it in. I really can't believe that everyone has become so scrooge-like now that even boxing day is being touted as a work day. Give shop workers a break! If you expect them in every day for prolonged hours (like my firm did) for the whole week coming up to Christmas, then you can at least expect to let them have at least two days to recover. Also, if people have Christmas day off, then some people agree to go in for extra pay on the boxing day to sort the shops out, as they're still devastated from pre chistmas. By opening on boxing day, you're effectively denying someone Christmas because of an all consuming desire to shop. It's nonsense. If you're that obsessed by shopping you really need to find something to do with your life.
I'm away this weekend, my sister is doing a mini Christmas/christmas dinner for us, as she is away in France this winter again. I've had a decent week and went to do a session at a care home in Hartismere in Suffolk,(incidently where my Mum was born), it's right next to Eye. I've been asked to go back, so all good. I really enjoyed that one too, they had a brilliant little room, just made specifically for crafting and making and painting. Every care home should have one really. Does anyone else believe all this black Friday rubbish? I can't see the point. It's come over from America and this is the first year that they've really tried hyping it in England. I think it's all a big con and only really there to make people think they have to spend quickly to get bargains that aren't really bargains. I'm totally ignoring it. I had to go and have a filling early on in the week. I haven't had a filling since my early twenties and it was only because an old filling finally fell out. I didn't like the bit that felt like she was using an angle grinder to get rid of any debris of old filling. Otherwise she was quick and efficient and it was over very speedily. I'm still aware of it at present though. Mum and I went out for a meal together this week to remember my Dad who we lost four years ago this week. It goes so quickly. Every moment of that day is etched on my memory. We knew which way it was going but really didn't expect it happening at the speed it finally did. He held on until my brother and sister and myself all got there and then a few moments later he was gone. I'm glad he didn't hang around suffering and dragging it out. That is a blessing.
These are sketches of one of our cats, Flo, as she was giving me a cuddle this week. I've had a frustrating week. Went out to deliver a session and was turned away because of illness, rearranged the date and went back and this time there were no staff and the residents were still recovering, so I've given up with that one temporarily. Another care home then asked me to rearrange when I got there as their residents were having choir practise with a school and the school had rearranged things at the last moment. As a lot of the residents that do the session with me were also in the choir it was decided that I'd return in the next week instead. I'm hoping that's my week of delays and frustrations out of the way now. Flo came and soothed me though, so I made a few sketches of her. I need to do a few of RJ now as well.
This is another one that I did for 'The Showing Journal' a little while ago. Had quite a good week last week, except for turning up at a home ready to go and being told everyone was ill. So I had to go home again and they rebooked. Not to worry, these things can't be helped. It was a lovely morning and a very picturesque part of Suffolk, so not all bad. Yesterday, I took a good three hour drive out of Suffolk and returned to Derbyshire for the day to see my friend Tracey and her lovely family and to meet her basset hound, Bertie.. It had been a few years, due to studying and time but hopefully I'll be able to do it a bit more regularly from now on. They'd made lots of road improvements too, since I last did it, so because I got confused I did end up taking little detours that I hadn't intended which isn't so great in the rain. It always amazes me how fast people still go when the conditions on the roads are terrible. There was so much spray you couldn't actually see the wheels of the cars ahead, they seemed to blend into the road and become invisible in greyness and spray and I was thinking about stopping distances and aqua planing but no one else seemed too worried as they hurtled into the unknown ahead. You only need one person to make a mistake and everyone then becomes involved. Still, luckily for me, while I was there all was well and I returned to Suffolk late last night. I have another good week next week. Let's hope so anyway.
Not much to report this week. I've been loosening up and messing around art wise, (as you can see), my aim was to splash a bit of colour around and draw loosely without taking too much care and just generally play really. I've really enjoyed it. I've had an unintentional week off. Well, sort of. I've actually been phoning round care homes and reminding those I've already dealt with and sending out post to others that I can't get hold of. It all needs keeping track of too, so when I say 'a week off', perhaps I mean I've been mostly at home on the computer. I have several paid sessions coming up in the next week, which looks to be busy. So there will be less playing with the accountancy software and trying to make head or tail of it and more action!! I went into Hobbycraft this morning. It was great and I only have good things to say about it. One little wish is that they had more of a selection of papers but it's only a little thing really. I think I will get to know that shop quite well. I would have liked to have popped into Tesco but it was pretty busy and I had some other things to get done too. Plenty of time for that in the future. The trees are fantastic colours and even though everything is drab and damp and grey, they make everything feel brighter. If you are going to have a bonfire this week, make sure you check it for hedgehogs before setting it alight. Either move it from one area to another or just check it very thoroughly. Poor old hedgehogs have enough to contend with.
After all the excitement and disruption of the past two weeks everything began to settle down again this week and I have realised how disciplined I am going to have to be. Lists and crossing them off have become pretty crucial. Things are off to a nice steady start and although it's very slow, things are positive. Things health wise haven't been so great though. Just when I could have done without having to pay out, I've been told I need a filling as an old filling going back to the seventies has fallen out and needs redoing. I didn't really realise it was gone. I was aware a month ago that something was irritating me but then it went away. Then I went to the hospital for a check up but because a result came back that was unexpected it looks like I'll have to go through another series of tests now to make sure that nothing is wrong. At least I don't have to get time off work to get these things done now. I just rearrange the day. The drawing for this week is an old drawing I did for the 'Showing Journal' from May. I've been doodling but nothing to show yet.
It's been quite a week. I graduated from Anglia Ruskin with a Master's in Children's Book Illustration. I enjoyed it so much I wish I could go back and do it all again. I'm missing my friends already and it was really lovely to see some of them on Wednesday, however briefly. It was also lovely that my Mum could be there and that my sister Anna, came all the way up from London to be there too. Since I started the course three years ago, I've moved house, swapped companies that I worked for and then left the job altogether and started working in a completely different field. It's been an interesting few years and the changes have been needed. I now have to organise as a lot of things have been left during the rushing around bits. My bedroom needs a real good tidy. That's now my main job for the foreseeable future, around booking care homes of course. Onwards and upwards.