084. 2017 Wrap Up & Life Update!

Greetings from Scotland! Yep, that's right - I'm finally home!

Scotland 2017_0363.jpg

I know this blog was meant to be a weekly update, but to be honest, I had a really difficult time over the summer dealing with the relentless stress of my situation.

For those of you who are new here, or forgot, I have spent the last 8 months working on getting my Fiance Visa to move back to Scotland and live with my Fiance (so we can get married and I can stay here permanently).

In April, my visitor visa expired, so I had to return to the US, alone. I spent the summer collecting a pile of documentation required by the UKVI to apply for the new visa, as well as saving as much as I could and still trying to keep up a normal work schedule.

I consider myself a strong person, and I've been through some hellish things in life, but I have to say, the stress of my situation blindsided me, and I spiraled into an almost insanity-depression mode. On the outside I was mostly keeping it together, but on the inside, I was an utter disaster.

I was drifting in and out of long periods of insomnia, which would sometimes lead to hallucinations and end in eventually collapsing in exhaustion. 

Why so stressed?? Well, apart from being separated from the love of my life over 4000+ miles away without any guarantee we could be together again, there was the added stress of my financial situation. I was paying for traveling + moving overseas twice, as well as two rents and bills, and the visa fee ($3,000) on a freelance artist salary. Needless to say I've been in the negative all year. 
In addition, despite loving the nomad lifestyle, it's not quite as wonderful when you still have to pay extra expenses on top of student loans, rents, bills, etc. - so having a stable home, with stable internet, and ability to work full time is necessary. 

Thanks to the pure generosity of some of my ongoing supporters, I have made it through, and now I'm sort of starting at ground 0 again. I have no more savings and no more safe cushion. Everything I make each month is now paying my bills, which is a very scary situation for me (I've ALWAYS had at least some savings in my account).

But, I'm proud and excited to say that the worst of it is over. I'm home again.

This year has been a true test of my heart, my instincts, my will, my resilience and my sanity. As difficult as it has been, I came out of it stronger. My fiance and I have faced more in the first two years of our relationship than many couples face in a lifetime... there's not a second's doubt that we are a better version of ourselves when we are together, and now we know we can accomplish anything when we work together. That's a pretty cool feeling :)

Despite all that, I continued on with my artistic journey, and even though I barely sold a darn thing this year, I kept streaming and kept creating. I called 2017 my Year of Experimentation. As a wrap up of 2017, I wanted to share my top 5 favorite things I've created, along with some stats at the end of the post!

I'll explain a little about why these are my favorite creations and what they mean to me:

1. Schloss Neuschwanstein (Graphite and white charcoal on Toned Paper)

This piece represents a pretty big turning point for me. While I was drawing it, I threw the idea of "perfection" out the window (which was rare for me when drawing architecture). I went totally instinctual, and I remember having an absolute blast drawing this. Toned paper has become a favorite of mine!

2. The Sacred Places I (oil on canvas board)

This was my third ever oil piece, and the first attempt at an oil fantasy style landscape. I had literally no clue what I was doing while I painted this, so the entire thing was a learning experience. I find it thrilling to be painting in this way, because there is so much discovery that occurs. It is truly fascinating, and something I find myself chasing a lot. That's partly why I am always trying new mediums and techniques.

3. Field I (watercolor on cold press)

It sort of seems odd that a painting with only 10 brush strokes could be considered a favorite. However, I did a small series of these extremely minimalist landscapes, and it was a freeing and rewarding experience. Creating a captivating painting in this way is challenging, and I found it to be a very eye-opening experience. I was able to set aside my fears and just go with my instincts.

4. Moonlit Forest (acrylic on canvas)

I started my career as an artist with acrylics. It has remained one of my favorite mediums, and despite people telling me I "should try oils" - and I am - I have always loved the fast drying time of acrylics - it suits my style and technique of painting. As a self-taught painter, I never judge my methods, I just do things. And learn from it. And try other things. This particular painting, was a moment of clarity for me, it made me realize that what I've learned in my gouache and watercolor studies has transferred to how I use acrylics. It's exciting for me because I am able to more easily visualize and execute my goals.

5. Mixed Media Waterfall (ink, watercolor on hot press paper)

This was the day before I started Inktober, and the first time I really embraced the mixed-media mindset. Before this, I saw each medium as a separate tool, meant to be used separately to fulfill a vision. Even though I had mixed watercolor and ink before, it was in a much different way and mindset. So this piece opened my eyes to how free I can be with my mediums. There are no boundaries, and no rules. Just create.

Fun 2017 Statistics

- I taught 12 Paintalong Tutorials (including this coming Saturday).

- I moved from Scotland to US to Scotland.

- I visited to 4 countries.

- I took over 400 travel photos, my favorites can be seen here and here.

- I painted/drew over 198 creations (not including sketches).

- I streamed approx. 550 hours of live art process.