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I bought this book through the KissKiss BankBank that was set up for the occasion. I have been following clit revolution on Instagram (click here to discover them) for a while now. I can't remember how I discovered them but I recall it started with their first video on youtube. If you speak French, I highly recommend checking out their youtube channel (click here) on sexuality with an emphasis on empowering women.




Tools :

- Winsor & Newton silver calligraphy Paint

- Midori ruler

- Tomboy light pink marker

- Staedtler dark blue fine liner

- Silver pen

- Uni Pin Fineliner 0.3

- Windsor & Newton round brush




This double-page was a simple and long process. To start with, I tried an ultramarine Copic marker on another piece of Leucchturm paper. Verdict? Copic markers and Leuchturrm notebook papers aren't friends: the marker was bleeding through the paper too much and ruining the other side of the paper. The only other blue I have that is closest to the book's beautiful ultramarine blue cover was the Staedtler fine liner. So I settled on the Staedtler, wondering how long it would take me to fill in the whole page.


I decided to colour in my title page with as much blue as possible without having to do the whole page. I started with the space between the letters. Once that was over, I coloured in the space in between words and around to create a full block of colour to replicate the book cover. I took my time and spread the work over a few evenings.





I appreciated colouring in those straight lines. I find the activity soothing. Also, it means that the colouring streaks are unidirectional and minimal and do not highjack the viewer's attention. I find that the finished look gives it a sort of 'static' effect which I quite like.


I then applied the pink marker. I originally chose another one thinking the pink would be the same as the cover but it was too dark. So if you pay attention to the letter C, it is a different shade. That's because I painted it over in white to cover my mistake and then applied my light pink marker. This is why you normally test your colours on a separate piece of paper first. At that moment, I was too confident and impatient and went straight into it. Oh well! Mistakes happens.



Then it was time for the silver. Nothing I own would replicate the mirror shine of that book cover's title. I took the next best thing which was this calligraphy silver paint. After two layers, It was opaque enough to hide the accidental blue smudge on the page. I applied it loosely, not bothering about making perfect edges. The aim was to have the same ragged edges as the letters on the book cover.

Because I am naturally high in conscientiousness, it was difficult for me to be careless in my painting the letters. Even though it was intentional, I constantly wanted to do straight lines or copy perfectly the bumps of the title. Hence, it was a good exercice for me to focus on the feel of the visual ragged edges and not on the execution of them.


In the end, this double-page spread isn't necessarily what I had in mind. The process of making it was relaxing, pleasant and quite fun so I feel rather satisfied with it.



The book :


As the title of the book suggests, this is a manual in how to be an activist for women's rights. Although the emphasis of the book is specifically around women's right, much of the advice can be applied to any activism whether it is for racial rights, LGBTQ+ rights, mental health rights, disability rights and so on.

The manual holds much practical information (e.g. websites, communities, groups) which are specifically for France. However, one can look for the equivalent in their own country and use the information as a template or a foundation to start with.

The book is wonderfully illustrated throughout and extremely well-edited and designed. I read it in one go and I feel very proud about it every time I see it on my bookshelves.


I hope they write a second manual one day which would address how to manage time and money specifically. Overall, I am so proud of these women and the work they do to empower women to continue fighting for our rights. I also felt empowered myself. I feel that I can also participate in my own way. With my smaller actions, I can still contribute to the cause.


The End.

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I sometimes would go to the Hackney Wick Life Drawing classes, here in London, to practice life drawing. It is a hard practice. The practice is about 2 hours long with breaks, and the models are varied in terms of gender and shapes, which is great.


I found 2 hours to be very long and I usually lose momentum after an hour.

I also tend to compare myself with others and so I lose morale, motivation and confidence.


Hence I have been avoiding going to the practice sessions for a long time.

Also because the hours didn't suit me: during dinner time and with the commute, I either had to eat too early or so late, and it messed up with my sleep (which in turn affects my mood).




So now I am glad for the confinement and lockdown because the classes have moved online (Hurray!). The session now run for an hour, which is plenty enough for me! I can now attend the Monday session at 2 pm, and I don't get to see what others are doing until the end, so I don't get to compare myself until then.


One Minute Poses


(session of 27th April 2020)


The class starts with 1-minute sketches. When I was younger, I used to feel like it was the hardest part and favoured the long hour poses. Now it's the opposite. I love the warm-up of the quick poses. It is an opportunity to grab the essence of the pose or the shapes of the body. One minute is a tiny spec of time when drawing, so you have to be quick. No time for indecisions! Here, I am recycling paper that came with deliveries and its crumpled state means that I worry even less about the final product and can really loosen up.

(session of 20th April 2020)



Ten Minute Poses


Then the class moves on to two 10 minutes poses. In the past I have tried exploring different techniques (e.g., drawing with my left hand) and lately I enjoy exploring different mediums (e.g., markers, pastels, pens, etc.).


I have this big bag of supplies I accumulated some years ago when I was subscribed to an art supply box. It comes in handy now!


This is a time for me to have a bit of fun with it and see what can come of it.


(session of 20th April 2020)



Thirty Minute Poses


Then comes the long pose of 30 minutes. I usually struggle a lot with making one finish drawing. My intentions are there, but eventually, I see all the misproportions and mistakes and lose patience. Often, I will try again and draw in a corner to understand the geometric shapes of the pose. I can quickly end up with a mess of a page of anatomically incorrect figures. I often lose confidence very fast, so sometimes I just move on to drawing irrelevant things (displacement) or see if I can try and have fun again with it (mindset reappraisal). Sometimes I just stop drawing altogether (avoidance).

I can see my mistakes but awareness is not always enough to correct them. I can get quickly disheartened as I am sensitive to feelings of failure. I am used to constantly being told what next I should be doing, how to improve or compared with what others are doing and I have no time to rejoice in the small accomplishments. With time, things have turned to constant dissatisfaction and a pressure to be better which in turn affects my artistic self-esteem ('What I do is not enough as it is').



(session of 27th April 2020)


Art has this ability to point out those things to me and give me a chance to explore it in a different way. Hopefully, by making the most of the online life drawing sessions, I can gradually build a tolerance to feeling insecure about what I produce. One thing I can try is to ditch the artistic goals and replace it with a cognitive goal. Perhaps I can choose to practice self-compliments towards my work and the things I did well. Or even just practice positive reinforcements for the act of drawing and do my best to push out the negative thoughts.


Simply being mindful of my thoughts of insecurities or judgment will give me an opportunity to practice letting them go. Like mindful meditation, where you refocus your mind on your breath, I can practice mindful drawing and refocus my mind on my drawing every time I notice I am going into my head too much.


Perhaps it is time for me to reappropriate the injunction of 'Practice! practice! practice!' I hear so often about my art practice, and make it my own. Practice my mind to let go of judgment! Practice my heart to welcome feeling joy and satisfaction as to what I create! Practice my mind in blocking out the opinions of others!


I have no doubt this mental practice will be harder than the actual art practice in itself. I endeavour to do my best though.



(session of 27th April 2020)


This Monday life drawing class I have attempted to reframe my mindset. For the 10 minutes and half an hour pose, I ended up writing some of the judgmental thoughts on the paper. Sometimes I caught the thought straight away and sometimes I wrote afterwards so I exaggerated the thought or created it to match what I remember thinking. I don't know if it was just the different mindset but I had more fun on my last session than I did in the last one and I'm rather pleased with some of the drawings I produced :).



(session of 27th April 2020 - 10 minutes poses)


Making art, in whatever shape or form, brings so many aspects of myself into awareness and I'm sure it does for many others as well.


Art is a form of therapy. Let's pay attention to the patterns of feelings and thoughts that come about and we will see ourselves a little bit more clearly.


We will make art out of those patterns.

x


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Yesterday, I called 999 as I was concerned for neighbours who were shouting and deep down I suspected domestic abuse. I was right (unfortunately) and as I was on the phone with the police, I witnessed a physical fight between a man and a woman.


Following the incident, I wanted to share the signs that I noticed. I know that, often, many people behave passively, not because of selfishness or because they are wicked, but rather because they don't have the knowledge or practice to know what to do. So I made a few stories on Instagram about them.


My hope was that people would feel empowered to call the police to support others in similar situations by sharing what I know. I had a lot of sincere and encouraging feedback therefore I have put the stories as permanent highlights on my Instagram (click here to see the story highlight).


As usual, when I witness such violence, I find myself personally triggered. I struggled immensely to fall asleep, assailed by flashbacks and past memories of abuse and the need to be pro-active and to educate others on these unseen realities. So in my head, I start to think 'How can I show people how it feels?' and art ideas started to swirl in my mind.


The strongest image that kept creeping back is a forceful wrist grab. In my experience, both as a survivor and a witness, they (in my life 'they' were always men, however, I don't want to target men specifically as abuse can be done by all genders) always grab the wrists or arms first. It is often the first physical contact during interactions.


Hence, I wanted to do a piece of work featuring that. So I looked for references images. I didn't found many. I even had to take a picture of my own hand grabbing my own wrist which was rather disappointing to look at. I sketched a bit to understand the visual of wrists grab.




I feel unsatisfied as the images aren't nearly strong enough for what I envision. Ideally, I would use life models or friends and take my own photographs to help me out. I do not have that at hand at the moment. I had a rough idea of the direction though. And I can tell, I am going to need to scour the internet for much longer than that, to find all the references I need.


I am not defeated. This is part of the creative process.


Sometimes, as I work through those early stages, I learn how much more work I need to do towards the end goal. Before I can draw, or paint, or experiment, I need to have a basis. In this case, I need to put my energy into setting up the foundation first and foremost. I need to spend time looking for more reference images and by practising drawing hands and arms. Both take time.


I wanted to explore other routes or look through older works where the art may relate to the topic. When I was in the foundation year of my art psychotherapy training, we were asked to keep an art journal. I looked through it and found two images.


The first one is this bolshevik poster inspired image. Here the wrist grab is the feeling I am trying to convey. But I want the grabbed hand to be tensed and relaxed at the same time to convey fear and submission. And I want it to have long thin elegant fingers to represent vulnerability. For the grabbing hand, the position isn't quite what I would need but it does have this bulky powerful aspect to it that I want.





The second image also called out to me. I was arrested by the 'no escape' and that eye forced to see which to me definitely evokes pain. Somehow it isn't quite the right tone for that original idea. I do think this would be an interesting inspiration for another drawing on the topic of domestic violence, to convey another feeling or aspect of the trauma.




My next step was to go back to the drawing board. I do a lot of sketching ideas there and then and it is one of my favourite things. I like starting with drawing a rectangle to represent my piece of paper. Then I try things out and I leave notes on the side as to the medium I should use, colour or even what it means to me.




It is an easy way to explore ideas and concepts. By doing this, I learned that this could become a whole bigger project where I explore my own past traumas of abuse. As usual, when working with such difficult topics, creation is a very slow process. Often it needs to brew inside of my mind (sometimes for years) before I can move on to the next stage of making it.


Writing this post, I realise I struggle to feel the feelings I am actually trying to convey. Therefore, it is clear that I am not ready to express it just yet since I barely know the feeling myself. My relationship with my own feelings needs to strengthen and I need to familiarise myself with them before I show them to the world.


These ideas need to brew for longer.


To be continued...


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