Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Summertime: books, books, books.

Good evening lovely readers,

With my previous essays done and dusted, another set of newborn deadlines have sprung and are descending upon me again in the coming weeks. Though I'm invested in reading course material, revising and figuring out how to outwit the future assignments, I am also looking to the future. Of course, I mean my immediate future; the distant future is that thing that everyone has rolling around at the bottom of the drawer and ignores. My immediate future, aside from death-by-assignments, consists of a beautiful place known to many as;

Summertime

(c) Lauren Newman 20-whenever

As someone who generally drops most of my hobbies during the academic year, the summer is quite literally a paradise where I can spend all of my free time being unemployed, scribbling, reading and staring at screens for hours on end. I will not apologise for this because quite frankly I need some downtime. So, what will the shr-Inking violet be doing this summer? I made some lists. I'm that kind of person who cannot function without making a list. My notepads are full of to-do-lists. I CAN'T STOP


Lauren's List of Stuff  (excited noises)

First Section: Books To Read (or re-read)

The Top Spot: How To Stop Time - Matt Haig
Image (c) Waterstones
After finding Matt Haig through The Humans, which my Uncle Rob bought me for Christmas one year, I sought out his other novels in the hopes of finding a similar joy (which of course I did). In addition to The Humans, my collection now includes Reasons to Stay Alive, Echo Boy and The Radleys. Haig's depiction of the human experience is so warming that curling up and reading anything produced by him is like being accompanied by a friend; every other line you will smile, laugh or cry. I could not possibly be more excited to expand my collection and purchase his most recent work. I will also definitely be re-reading these titles as they are perfect when I need to reduce anxiety. 

The Not-Top-Spot-but-still-on-my-list:
The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath: I want to acquire and read this novel because it's been mentioned so many times during my course and I've heard so many positive things about it that I simply must. It's also the book that the feminist protagonist of 10 Things I Hate About You is reading in the film which, I will be honest, was the deciding factor. 

Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen:  I actually own a copy of The Complete Novels of Jane Austen and seeing as one of my closest friends, Steph, is obsessed with Austen I must give in and finally read it!

A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness: After recently watching the film, whilst sobbing uncontrollably into my hands, I have been eagerly awaiting my chance to read the book. The underlying messages in the film genuinely struck me and I was completely overwhelmed by the depth and emotional complexity of the story that was unfolding in front of me. I can only imagine that the book will be even better. 

The Color Purple - Alice Walker: I truthfully don't know as much as I'd like to about this novel but I certainly know I'm missing out! I've received so many recommendations that I don't want to ignore it any longer. 

The Re-reads:
The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood: I studied this for my English A Level and I actually quite enjoyed it. It has concepts I would like to explore again with knowledge I have acquired whilst being at university. 

To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee: Another book I enjoyed at school, except this time for my GCSE. I have yet to read the latest installment, but I think I want to re-acquaint myself with the story before tackling it. At this point I must drop in a reference to The Boo Radleys because who doesn't like this song?

Jane Eyre - Charlotte Brontë - Another novel I loved during my A Levels which I want to read again with new appreciation (or perhaps I will change my mind?)

Of course, I will also be re-reading every single Matt Haig novel I own because, well, I want to. I will also be trying to purchase the remaining novels of his I have not read if I am able to afford it as a treat for completing my second year. 

Personally, I think this will be more than enough to get me through summer (perhaps too much considering all of the other projects I will have on-the -go). In the upcoming weeks I will be adding sections talking about my favourite anime and anime must-watches, discussing last year's Inktober, some self-care tips and dealing with mental health issues. 

Thanks to everyone who made it this far!
Love, 

Lauren Newman a.k.a shr-Inking violet









Thursday, 23 March 2017

Kitties


I genuinely cannot believe it's been an entire week since my last dredge-up-my-art post. I'm going to want to use a lot of the pieces for themed posts and truthfully I don't have a lot of time today so I've decided to share a really weird old doodle I did quite a while ago. I remember feeling really ill and sorry for myself and I didn't have the energy to draw anything so I decided to scribble some silly cats.

Obviously, care was taken to ensure that each cat was anatomically correct.
The stripy white-ginger cat and the black cat are both mine. No, they couldn't possibly be more different!

Short and sweet, 

Lauren Newman a.k.a shr-Inking violet




Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Relaxation Music

Good evening gang,

Approximately ten minutes ago, I plodded downstairs and poured myself a glass of milk. Actually, it's not a glass, it's a square mason jar with a handle, lid and straw. My mom has hopped onto the adorable trend of drinking things out of anything that isn't cylindrical. Anyway, because I'm irrepressibly obsessed with consuming things before they reach the expiration date, I was doing the necessary check and noticed the milk expires on the 25th of March. What was my first thought? "When this milk is out of date, my deadlines for this round of assignments will be over!" (or at least for the essays).

After spending the day completing an assignment, panicking and introducing myself to John Milton's Paradise Lost, I think it's safe to say that I am stressed. Bearing in mind that I am no more stressed than people around me, my friends have been working tirelessly on their assignments and my boyfriend has been working continuously for several weeks, I am a believer that "others have it worse" is usually not a relief.

So what do we do? Those of us who are constantly confronted with stress? I was chatting with a colleague at the end of my lecture on Monday about assignment stress and she was very surprised that I suffered similarly to her. We talked about the inevitable comorbidity of tears, panicking, sleepless nights and assignment periods. Is such stress unnecessary and avoidable?

Unnecessary? Maybe. Avoidable? Not for me. My general logic is that if I care about something I will worry about it, regardless of what it is. Therefore, and this leads me to my point, healthy coping mechanisms are essential. To lighten this up, and to get to the point of what I wanted to do tonight, I am sharing some music that I use to deal with worry. Should someone with Generalised Anxiety Disorder even be recommending ways to relax? Probably not. Are they going to do it anyway? Of course. (Not to mention there will be a post about dealing with anxiety in the future but if you want one right now, my friend Steph has already written a brilliant one: here).

(In no particular order because that would make it too stressful for me).

1.) Roslyn - Bon Iver & St. Vincent

I know I've recommended this song previously, but it's one of my favourites for when I need to empty my mind. If I'm being completely honest I still don't know the lyrics because I find it hard to work out what they're saying and don't really want to ruin that by looking at them, if that makes any sense at all. I love the atmosphere and images that it conjures up in my mind - I'd tell you, but I think it'd be more fun for you to make your own!

2.) Pearly Dewdrops Drops - Cocteau Twins

This is band I recently looked into as they were recommended to me by my lecturer who has previously recommended some great music. This song in particular stuck with me because it has a way of making me feel something indescribable. I could only attempt to describe it as a feeling so personal, it's as though nobody else could possibly have felt it. Not to mention that 'Pearly Dewdrops Drops' is one of the best song titles I've ever seen.

3.) There She Goes - Sixpence None The Richer
4.) Kiss Me - Sixpence None The Richer

Truthfully, I love the original of 'There She Goes' by The La's too, but I have a special place in my heart reserved for Sixpence None The Richer. My earliest memories of music are the late nineties, and 'Kiss Me' was played constantly in my house so when I hear that song I can smell my childhood and feel what the house used to feel like when I was little. I highly recommend nostalgic songs but be warned - nostalgia sometimes feels sad.

5.) Prelude in E-Minor (op. 28 no. 4) - Frédéric Chopin

I have always loved classical music. I'm not very well acquainted with a lot of it, but I love quite a few pieces from various composers. I know that most of Chopin is quite sad, but music that makes me cry has a strange way of making me feel calm.

6.) Howl's Moving Castle OST

This one is highly dependent on the fact that I have watched the film and adore it. For anyone out there who has never seen a Studio Ghibli film - I insist you must try them at least once. This song is so uplifting, gentle and simple and fills me with all the emotions I feel when watching the film.

7.) The Very Thought Of You - Billie Holiday

It was difficult to choose between this and 'I'll Be Seeing You' until I remember that the latter does actually tend to make me not-the-good-kind-of-sad. 'The Very Thought Of You' literally sends shivers down my spine and gives me goosebumps because her voice is so comforting and the crackle of the recording gives me that warm, flooding feeling that music is eternal and can awaken such complex emotions.

8.) God Only Knows - Bioshock Infinite Barbershop Cover

Anyone who knows me, even just a little, knows I adore the Beach Boys. However, I'm also a sucker for good covers. I found out semi-recently that I adore barbershop quartets (I don't really know how or why) and when I realised that Bioshock Infinite, the third in a great game series, had added this into the game I was completely hypnotized by it for weeks. Most people I know haven't been taken with it in the same way I have, but that makes it all the more personal to me.

9.) Tugboat - Galaxie 500

When I first heard this song in 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower' I fell in love immediately. Every time I listen to it I feel like I've slipped into another world, one which is magical and beautiful and when it picks up at 2:25 I literally feel my heart flutter. I realise this doesn't feel good for fellow anxiety sufferers, but fluttering for good reasons is always worth it and I feel so calm afterwards.

10.) Sometimes You're The Hammer, Sometimes You're The Nail - A Day To Remember

Just a heads up, this is most likely not going to be everyone's idea of "relaxing". ADTR are one of my favourite bands and after going through a significantly distressing experience, this song is a genuine relief and somewhere I can unload my feelings. If you want to skip the screaming, I know it's not everyone's thing, 2:50 is the part that genuinely hits me in the chest. The lyrics make me tear up every single time because it symbolises my coming to terms with anxiety, the responsibility for the mistakes and choices I have made and defending my sensitivity.

I hope anyone who reads this can take away at least one new song that they like. I hope to make more lists in the future. I recently did an exchange of ten songs with a friend when we realised we had no idea what each others' music taste was, it's a fun exercise in getting to know someone a bit better!

I'm going to go and pass out now before an early lecture tomorrow!
Sweet dreams,

Lauren Newman a.k.a shr-Inking violet




Thursday, 16 March 2017

Make Love Not War

How now, mooncalves?

I must admit, I really shouldn't be writing this at the moment. I have two essays on the go, a novel, a forum task and I've just ordered a copy of another book I need to start reading. However, after doing a recent collaborative post with my lovely friend, I've caught the writing bug again. I wish I had time to do more creative writing, but for now this is a good stress-reliever. 

If you've read my first post about this, you'll know I actually despise the phrase "throw-back Thursday". Maybe my inner hipster is just appalled at saying something so mainstream?...No, it's just a shit phrase and a bit of a tacky concept, but I'm obviously doing it anyway. 

This week I'm dredging up a piece that's quite fresh and may be remembered by anyone who added me on Facebook more than a year ago. It's approximately a year old but my sentiments and feelings which inspired the piece have not changed - the only guns that I would ever approve of would shoot little smoky hearts at people that make them feel fluffy and good inside. Disclaimer: I'm not a maniac, I'm an idealist. 

I'm quite regretful of the fact my art often contains representations and portrayals of myself. I would apologise for how incredibly egotistical this seems, but believe me when I say I desperately need an outlet in the form of self-expression. 

R.I.P
Lauren's Sidecut
An incredibly necessary solution to dealing with a crisis.
You are missed.

TIP: If you're feeling sad, get the hairstyle you've always wanted but are too scared to try. Hair grows back.

Personally I really like this stalling tactic until I have time to make more art.

Off to make a cuppa, 

Lauren Newman a.k.a shr-Inking violet

Make Love Not War - March 2016

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Dear Younger Me


My lovely friend, Steph, runs a great blog and she's a lot better at it than me (you won't be waiting too long for a new post). Anyway, she suggested that we write a collaborative blog post together and we got really excited about it and brainstormed so many ideas until we settled on 'Dear Younger Me'. 

I think this concept is really important to us both, and probably to a lot of people, because there are so many things in life that we wish we had known a lot sooner. Even though I am grateful to have learned from very valuable lessons, I think I can speak on behalf of both me and Steph that lessons were learned the hard way. 

Lastly, I just want to say how proud I am of my friend for how far she's come and how much I have enjoyed getting to know her and being her friend. Please give her blog a read - you won't be disappointed! 

Lauren Newman a.k.a shr-Inking violet

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Time

The funny thing about time is that when you're doing a degree you suddenly don't have a lot of it. That's my subtle apology and excuse, not only for barely posting here, but also for generally being unavailable whilst I'm panicking over working on course-related reading and assignments.

I'd like to say I'm incredibly resentful of the fact I have no time for social or personal activities, but I'm genuinely grateful for the opportunity to get a degree. It's hard work and I'm finding it quite easy to get stressed out but I don't think I'd still be here if it wasn't what I truly wanted to do. In fact, I'm finding it enjoyable and rewarding when I actually work hard and come out with a good grade at the end.

Today I attended my lecture on Shakespeare's Hamlet. Initially I found the play pretty boring and I can still say that I don't take pleasure in having to read extensive notes before I can fully understand the actual meaning of a sentence. However, after watching film clips of the play and discussing it in lecture I have, at last, found an interest in it! A similar thing did happen with The Tempest and has generally been the case with other texts on my course. It's fun to break down a text and explore themes in my lectures as it finally gives me something to get my teeth into that is reliable and safe to absorb. I think that doing this degree has opened me up to a lot of texts that I would have otherwise never picked up, which I am also grateful for.

Whilst working on something for a module called Text, Context and Spin, I was listening to a band called This Mortal Coil. My lecturer recommended them to us today and I was excited to find that I had already unknowingly been listening to one of their songs already; Song To The Siren. I almost always take up the opportunity to listen to music recommended to me. I'd been using Song To The Siren as part of a soundtrack I listened to when I went through a phase of doing Tai Chi (yes, I know). Although it didn't work for me, I highly recommend that anyone who is prone to stress or anxiety give it a try - everyone is different.

On that note, I will recommend one of my favourite songs that I use to relieve stress or just generally listen to whilst studying or tidying; Bon Iver & -St. Vincent - Roslyn.

So, time. What can it do? I'm staying on this theme because despite my confession of having very little personal time at the moment, I have managed to work on something. I decided to take a relatively old piece of digital art I created in 2014 - a punky-floaty-goggly human - and remake it using whatever new techniques I had learned since. Truthfully, I was concerned about the results. Three years, give or take a few months, is not a long time, is it? I have never felt like I have progressed or improved artistically and always felt as though I was going backwards rather than forwards. This exercise was truly helpful for me, because it has helped me see how a lot of time invested in art is never wasted time,

I issue this challenge to any artists who happen to be reading! It's fun and relaxing to remake something you used to think was pretty good, but now think you could do better!

And with that we have the results;

Merry Wednesday and a Happy New Thursday!

Lauren Newman a.k.a shr-Inking violet

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Jack Jack

It's Thursday again, which is my designated post-an-old-piece-of-art-until-you-run-out day. This piece is really important to me because, not only is it a picture of my beautiful collie, Jack Jack, but it's one of the first pieces that made me feel like I might want to pursue art. I had been drawing and painting and sketching my entire life, but this made me feel like I could really do something with it. It's very old, simple and I've seen better fur detail but it was a genuine spark in my life. I remember being particularly proud of his shapely snout and the light pink fuzz all over it. Jack Jack is a gift.

Hopefully some new art coming soon!

Lauren Newman a.k.a shrInking violet