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Katie Laura Ashton

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Orange Things Observed

I wanna be myself here. And you know what I like to do a lot? Wander and observe. In fact I think noticing is an art form. Today on my short wander I noticed a couple of orange things and then decided to play a game of how many more orange things I could spot on my way home. Although many were man made there were scatterings of dried orange leaves all around.. I think the season is turning guys or that’s how it feels this week. There’s rumblings of another heat wave? Anyway it’s a fun game, try it with any colour you desire to spot on your wanderings.

 

Illustration sketchbook page of orange things observed

 

 

Illustration sketchbook page of orange things observed

 

 

Illustration sketchbook page of orange things observed

Journal My Studio

Project Tall Boy

illustration of Shabby Chic Tall Boy Unit

I’ve been looking for a big chest of drawers to store my art work since we moved into our new place a month ago. Because frankly it was pissing me off that I had piles of art work on the floor wrapped in acid free tissue yes but on the floor or in hideous plastic storage boxes. When I moved out I made a pact with myself that I was going to do all I can with the spare room to make it feel and look like a 100% creative space for the artist & I 🙂

So one night last week I just happened to have a scroll one of those FB Furniture groups and low and behold I saw this old Tall Boy unit being sold for £20. I messaged the seller immediately… on these FB groups you do not want to hesitate. I’d been trying to buy another set of drawers from another seller for £35 and not even a fraction as lovely as this piece and they were dragging their feet in not responding to my messages about collection etc. But I knew I wanted an old set of drawers for they really really do NOT make furniture like they used to so I kept just scrolling every so often and telling myself that the right piece will turn up. The day before I saw the Tall Boy I jumped at the chance of buying 2 small portable sets of drawers for £10 as a make do solution until I found the ‘one’ So now I can use these 2 little sets after I’ve decided how to decorate them to store my art making tools and card stock- YAY. My art making room is really coming together!

Anyway below you’ll the original photo.. looks white right- wrong it was a pale yellowy green colour. (ewww)  I knew as soon as I went to collect the actual size & shape of it was perfect but the colour was not so I asked my Dad to take it straight round to their house so I can use al of his best tools to strip the paint away. Of course things like this are ALWAYS said easier than done as when I started to sand away the yellowy green paint thee was a thick layer of grey and a blue paint layer underneath. In the corners, nooks & crannies it was so thick it came away from the wood like thick tar.

Second Hand Tall Boy unit

 

Here’s my Dad removing all the fixtures- haha he loves it when I get my ideas!

 

Sanding old paint off cupboard door

 

The doors were my job! I stripped the layers of paint off using a couple of power sanding tools and also by hand to make sure all the bits of yellow in the seams were gone. My aim was not to take all the paint off but definitely the yellow shade, I grew to love the mint green/bluey shade underneath so bits of that were to stay. Just give you an idea of labour time for an ‘idea’ like this the first door I estimate took me around 4 hours to get it looking how it does now. I think the second cupboard took me little less time as I got used to using the power tools. All in all  I think it took around 12 hours to strip the whole Tall Boy and that’s with much needed help from my Dad. And there is no way in hell you could do this without using an electrical sander and this smaller one which stripped the paint from the corners and the awkward areas.

 

Second hand Tall Boy unit empty of drawers and cupboard doors

One finished drawer and the other in progress. You see the horrible yellow?

Layers of green and yellow paint on old set of drawers

 

Yes stripping furniture back to it’s textured wooden layer is a LABOUR OF LOVE!.. But man do I love this piece. I’m so happy. The other day I placed my artwork in the drawers and put all my sketchbooks in wooden crates and put them in the cupboard space along with my Epson scanner … and I almost cried.

 

Refurbished old Tall Boy unit to shabby chic style wood

 

 

 

Refurbished shabby chic Tall Boy unit with cupboard doors open

 

It’s always been a dream of mine to have old furniture especially a piece this grand and now that dream has come true. I’m so glad I didn’t lose my patience and just bought something from Ikea or Argos.. I don’t have any luck with newly built chest of drawers. Now I have this old Tall boy unit- no idea how old it is but this beauty is all mine and it makes a beautiful home for my paintings and drawings and a wonderful stand up desk too! – WINNER!

The texture is what furniture dreams are made of!

Wooden shabby chic textured cabinet doors

 

Yep the only missing is a bunch of sweet peas! >>

 

Vintage chest of drawers with floral jug and hand drawn sweet peas

 

 

Lastly I was wondering about whether I should paint the inside of the cupboard doors with black chalk paint but I’ve gone of that idea. I’m just not overly keen on the shade of blue.. but I think for now I’ll just leave it as there’s another little project to crack on with.

 

Shabby chic cabinet with sweet pea and paint pot illustration overlay

 

 

Drawings Hand Lettering Illustration Journal

A Home to Thrive in

Hand lettering, plant illustration

 

I never thought I’d need certain material & surroundings to help me thrive.. or maybe I just didn’t want to admit how much I need a home. After watching the minimalists documentary in 2016 I was all on board, immediately running to my wardrobe derailing the untouched half of my clothes. I wanted to rid of any notion of materialism even though my belongings were minimal anyway, it felt like it wasn’t enough. In hindsight, I think it was a bit of a rebellion of mine, I was bored, angry for many reasons and struggling with the question, the feeling… is this it?  And overall I wanted to prove to myself and the world that my very being could not be affected- improved or worsened by aesthetic, by material, by consumerism, by my belongings.

But since coming back from my travels (where we rid of our home entirely to do so) and recently moving into a new home, I’ve been nesting more than ever before. Instinctively curating my surroundings and appreciating the time & energy to do it all. The latter has been the most fulfilling part, in fact I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it’s helped me come back to life. As not so long ago I felt incapable of anything and lost all motivation.. just sitting in the dark really.

But moving into this new flat where there’s light, trees out of every window, birds singing all day long and really loudly in the mornings- what a delight! The spark which dimmed is becoming brighter everyday. The more I truthfully live, the more ideas that come, the more excited and determined to create the life I must live.

My truth is that I’m deeply affected by my surroundings and things I choose to store/ display in my home. I’m in disbelief right now that I disowned that very knowledge…. I mean I am a creative being, I design, draw & paint things to hang on walls, to bring feeling, thought & colour, texture & hope into other peoples lives. I believe our homes are reflections of us and therefore remind us often of who we are and whom we hope to become. So yeah my realisation today has me frantically typing these words while sitting on the floor next to the tall boy unit I’ve just spent 2 days sanding down with my dad. I’ll say it again, I can’t believe I disowned my beliefs & a part of who I am for a trend on the internet… ‘digital nomad’ which really got me questioning the very purpose of my creative work & my hope that in the near future it could have a positive affect on another being in their home.

And I want to loosely quote from the Minimalists doc:

‘We’re too materialistic in every sense of the word and we’re not materialistic enough in every sense of the word.’

Decorative objects, keep sakes illustration and hand lettering

This time we’re at now feels like a redefining moment in history for all of us. We’re all finding our way, truly defining for ourselves what it means to live a good life. Questioning how things have been done in the past and how we believe things should be done in the future for our happiness, longevity & positive change. And for me, partly it’s about having a home full of light, plenty of space but my few trinkets dotted around. Objects that bring about memories like the decorative glass bottle I brought back from our trip to Amsterdam, the laying down buddha from a 100% cheesy tourist shop in Bangkok which we popped into for the aircon, the illustrated print of a street in Amsterdam which I bought when I first discovered the wonderful world of Etsy many years ago. The tiny brass elephant which Chris’ grandma gifted me, the wooden pocket mirror my sister brought back from Cambodia. The ornate metal bottle vase I have on my windowsill.. hmm I think that’s a charity shop special and in it stands a thin bunch of dried foraged flowers from the field I played in as a child. The newest addition to my home is what I mentioned before the old ‘Tall Boy’ unit, purchased for £20 through Facebook. It looked white in the pictures but upon collection it turned out to be a yellowy green colour. I knew immediately that I could not live with that colour and here is where my beliefs kick in.. why should I/we make do with things? If it’s going to be in my home, if I’m going to store my beloved art work in it and spend a lot of time sitting next to it making art it’s best for all of us that it is made into something that I’m going to love and CANNOT WAIT to use, to photograph and for it to inadvertently inspire me to write new blog posts about life & create new pieces of art from my rather content self. And not to mention the new memories I have of spending time with my Dad, both of us with power tools scraping of the layers of paint, drinking tea & eating biscuits… causing a racket for the neighbours but oh well, it’s all for a good cause.

 

All these littles things around me are memories, dreams, affirmations, statements of me and little anchors for me in this chaotic world. Are my homely objects small parts of the overall equation that amounts to a way of living in which I can thrive?.. yes I believe so.

When I am at home I get a feeling like ‘yes this how things should be & there’s plenty of space for me to create and be me’. And that’s a really really lovely feeling to have & exactly what I need right now.