Illustrated Life – January 2019 – C’est Si Bon!

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30 day has September, April, June and November. All the rest have 31 expect for February which has 28 (29 in a leap year) and January which has 576.

January, the Monday of the months, has finally come to a close and although lengthy it has delivered a whole heap of happy memories to my kick off my 2019 collection. I love the collective energy people have towards January and the way it dispenses a sense of vitality.

This is the first in my ‘Illustrated Life’ series, an honest monthly instalment of how I live my life incapsulating words, photos and illustrations.

I was eagerly awaiting January’s fresh start to breath new inspiration into my life and work. For the first year in a long time (perhaps ever) I was ready to jump feet first into a new year of unknownness. When nothing is certain, everything is possible. 2018’s twelve months taught me so much and gave me a deeper understanding of my life and creative identity. Although I didn’t see it at the time with hindsight and the perspective of time I can see it was hugely confidence boosting.

Maybe I was so keen for January as I was well rested having deliberately taken an extended (heavenly) three week festive break from the drawing board and studio and made socialising my full time occupation. It turns out I was extremely successful at my career side step and went past the finish line and then some! Luxuriating in fun filled days meant oodles of time with treasured friends and three precious weeks blurring into a succession of interesting, unexpected adventures often ending with a champagne and canapé fuelled soiree!

When the clock chimed midnight hailing in 2019 I immediately felt life shift, felt ready for the next chapter and adjusted into the January zone. Things appeared clearer in my mind and my uber-relaxed self made several decisions with the overarching choice to level up my life. Where focus goes energy flows, I will give my wildly ambitious ideas a bash and hope to watch in wonder as they flourish over the coming weeks and months. I’ve always known if you aren’t willing to work for it then don’t complain about not having it and i’m forever believing something wonderful is about to happen, because in it often actually does in some unexpected way.

I knew my 2019 self would thank me for my short term studio abandonment and for stepping off the relentless creative carousel and this proved correct as an avalanche of inspiration flowed when I resumed my usual creative set-up. Of course this involved my omnipresent studio canine companion Dot. She lies faithfully at my feet daily, stirring only for a walk or when she accompanies me to a client meeting. She might seem to be rolling her eyes as she pads through fashionable London on her four golden paws but given she benefits from free lodgings and an unlimited supply of Boneo, all in all she isn’t doing too badly. Illustration ideas were sparking readily and the style strike and inspiration hiatus which dominated for a time in 2018 was well and truly over. Read all about that in 2018 Merci Beaucoup, if you are interested.

The birth of January saw me raring to go, juggling several big commissions, working on my first collection of fashion illustrations for my new global agent Renee Rhyner in New York, creating a brand new collection of original works for Modern ArtBuyer, the wonderful gallery who exclusively represent and developing top-secret, soon to be revealed projects in collaboration with various clients. There are never enough hours in the studio day and a huge amount of new work will be shared soon!

When i’ve not been in the studio tackling another day and another deadline, there certainly hasn’t been any winter-esque hibernating going on. I’m forever needing to source inspiration for clients and projects so justify all my out-and-about-ness with seeking to fulfil this need. Maybe i’m kidding myself but it’s working for me so i’m running with it.

January has been a jam packed and crowded social month but given i’ve a phobia of boredom to see a full diary fills me with  reassurance. In a nutshell it’s involved time in the city, the country and in Cyprus. There have been too many escapades to mention so I will elaborate on the highlights from each.

I’ve had several evenings at The Ned with various friends for non-stop conversation over cocktails. Why anyone banishes alcohol in January is simply beyond me, it’s unnatural to deprive yourself of pleasure in the gloomiest of months! Given how busy The Ned was each time I succumbed to a Negroni (one of my better 2018 discoveries) it appears most City-dwelling folk are in tune with my way of thinking. The Ned has become a regular haunt of mine and is a stunningly sympathetic conversion of the former Midland Bank, situated in the heart of the City of London. A melting pot for suits and Hipsters The Ned certainly lives up to it’s hype. I mean how can you not love the eye wateringly beautiful interior styling in this hotel and private members club which to top it off, hosts a roof top with jaw-dropping views of London? Go and check it out for yourself and report back.

One urban night involved meeting a friend at the iconic Fleet Street journalist and barrister’s watering hole El Vino. Stepping inside old school institution you immediately sense it’s history and why it’s a hot spot for London’s wine lovers. It never ceases to amaze me how one glass of good champagne and a good life de-brief with a girlfriend can make everything seem alright again.

A new discovery this month has been The Landmark Hotel in Marylebone which plays host to exquisite London charm in a multi-height palm court (real palm trees!) where you can effortlessly relax in a breath-taking oasis of luxury, sophistication and serenity. I will be returning there soon, that’s for sure. I’ve no idea how I spend half my life flitting in and around Marylebone, yet until now i’ve never been to the Landmark. Poor form Em!

A friend who shares my love of all things design made it to the Anni Albers exhibition at the Tate Modern days before it came to a close. I’m so glad we did as it opened my eyes to Alber’s abundant creative talent and be reminded how i’m not the only artist to let my creative output to be affected by the high and low points of my personal life. During her lifetime Annie said ‘Our world goes to pieces; we have to rebuild our world … We learn courage from art work. We have to go where no one has gone before us. We are alone and we are responsible for our actions. Our solitariness takes on religious character; this is a matter of my conscience and me.’ Amen to that Anni.

Two of the loveliest mementos I take from London this month are spontaneous and unplanned moments which could never have been foreseen. The first is a calm walk through a deserted St Paul’s Gardens on a particularly bitterly cold Wednesday morning mid-month. The pocket of stillness in the centre of a busting metropolis filled me with a sense of ‘it’s all going to be alright’. I can’t put my finger on exactly what changed during those few minutes and i’m not religious in the slightest, but there was something almost spiritual about it.

The second is a somewhat random memory when I became deeply engaged in conversation with a homeless man outside Liverpool Street station after Dot stopped to greet his dog. Although our lives are vastly different we bonded over our shared love of our hounds. Dog lovers come from all walks of life! His upbeat, jovial and friendly soul reminded me to appreciate the life I have. He didn’t expect or ask anything but giving him a tenner proved the theory that when you are looking for yourself, do it by helping others. One single bank note is nothing in the grand scheme of my life but it meant so much to him.

One final city side note is January saw me commence a weekly course in my beloved Marylebone but I will go into that in another time.

Country days this month have involved long bracing (christmas canapé calorie burning) walks in the mind numbingly cold Chiltern Hills. The studio companion was in her element larking about with twigs and sticks and I was in mine accompanied by a hotchpotch of friends. Rural rambles which end in front of a roaring fire with a hot drink and a tired dog, always prove to be a winning combination.

In mid-January I cashed in my sister’s offer of a trip to visit her Mediterranean abode in Cyprus. Feeling like I had won a Willy Wonka style golden ticket I hopped on board a magic carpet (aka Easy Jet – all the glamour – not) and took to the sky en route to milder climes. The four day jaunt would have been the perfect antidote to any lingering New Year Blues but thankfully as this year I wasn’t a sufferer it only made the vacation even more of a bonus. Time by the ocean and hanging out with the ‘Cypsters’ (Cypriot hipsters) in The Cookhouse reconnected me with the bigger picture and gave more perspective to my bohemian and wild ways.

As you can see January has been a crackajack of a month and this only skims the surface of it all but anymore would have this Journal jotting rivalling the length of War & Peace.

Thank you so much for following along, let’s see what February has to offer.