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


Lauren Newman - May 2016

It's okay to cry (or not cry)
Personally, I don't think that this is said enough. I will be the first to throw my hands up and say that, not only am I an incredibly sensitive person, I cry a lot. When I say a lot I mean at least once a day. When I tell people this, though I might get the odd surprised reaction, generally they can believe it. I laughed whilst writing that, because maybe they just know me, but even when I mention it to people I don't know they will often have a very similar thing to say about themselves. Does this not mean that crying is a perfectly acceptable thing for us to do? So, if this is the case, why on earth do we put so much pressure on ourselves, and often on others, not to cry? Similarly, why do we prod people who don't naturally burst into tears in sad situations? 

I think a lot of this all falls into expectation. We must not project our expectations onto others and pull them up on their behaviour if they don't act accordingly. A big factor of this, I have observed, is gender. 
Please don't brush off girls or degrade boys for crying. I think we see it time and time again where people will say to their boys who are crying, "you're not a girl are you?" or "come on, be a man about it" or something equally as demeaning and insensitive. It is also hurtful to dismiss the crying of a female as "she's a woman, she's just emotional". Biologically, we may possibly have more reasons to cry (I don't really know, I got a D in GCSE Science) but this doesn't mean that our feelings become invalid. What I do know is that we should not judge the reasons why others are crying and decide whether or not we think they deserve to cry over it. We should believe people when they are showing their emotions and have the empathy and decency to accept it and offer comfort, if they want it. 

There's also the issue of people who don't cry being accused of being unemotional or heartless. I know quite a few people who often can't muster up some tears but who are still very empathetic, emotional and sensitive. The reasons why they can't cry is for them to deal with and, again, for us to accept and understand. I often used to worry that if someone didn't cry at something I cried at, it meant they didn't care about it. I could not possibly have been more wrong. 

Crying is a personal thing and if someone cries in front of you, whether by accident or on purpose, do not traumatise them by making crying into a shameful, forbidden thing. Sometimes when someone cries in front of you, it can feel uncomfortable because you might not know what to do. TIPS: Ask them if you can do anything to help. Ask if you can give them a hug (and act accordingly). Stay with them and offer hot drinks, blankets, food or if they want you to stay with them or leave them alone. 

Don't be afraid of crying. Be afraid of the fact that there are so many people who hide their true emotions for fear of being judged by others and let that fear drive you to help people who need us. 

Final Food for Thought
- If you're hungry, sometimes your stomach rumbles. If you are stimulated enough in a certain way, sometimes your eyes leak water. They are normal bodily functions. 
- If you cry, your gender identity doesn't slither out of your brain and stream from your tear ducts. You are a man if you say you're a man (even if you say it whilst crying). 
- If you cry for a reason you deem stupid (like dropping a Cadbury's cream egg on the floor - notthatIknowanyonewhohasdonethat), it doesn't mean you're not allowed to do it anyway. 
- You are allowed to cry because of PMS/menstrual related issues. Uteri freaking hurt and also casually create sadness on the side when they're not making a baby. 
- You are allowed to experience the most sad or happy moments available to humankind without shedding a tear if that's not your style. 
- Crying is not the zenith of caring. If you're not a crier, it doesn't mean you're not a carer. 
- Crying on the inside is still crying. 

Take care gang
Lauren Newman a.k.a shrInking violet 

Monday, 13 February 2017

Happy Valentine's Day

It's that time of year again where varying degrees of twitterpated people will be scattering rose petals, popping heart-shaped chocolates and writing poems in cards trimmed with red paper lace. You might have someone special this Valentine's Day, you might have someone special every Valentine's Day so I wish you all and your loved ones all the happiness in the world. However, it's also very important to remember to love yourself. So many people will experience increased loneliness and mental health problems on Valentine's Day and it's important for us to remind each other that love is not worth having for the sake of itself. Love is the most wonderful when it's given to someone who truly deserves it, and not because you just want to be in love. If you are not celebrating Valentine's Day with a spouse/significant other/FWB (friends-with-benefits) or any other complicated variation of someone you like a little, treat yourself. Eat something that makes you feel happy, enjoy getting to pick the film you watch, surround the bath with roses and candles and spend as much time as you want in the bath (you don't have to shave if you don't feel like it either). Most importantly, however, beyond all materialistic and trivial things; remember that you are not defined by who loves you, or doesn't love you. We all dream of falling in love and it's beautiful, but the most beautiful kind of love is when we learn to give it to ourselves. 

Happy Valentine's Day
Lauren Newman a.k.a shrInking Violet

Sunday, 12 February 2017

We Can All Be Artists

Today was "one of those days". That's my general term for "something big or small didn't go quite right today". I generally had a nice time, ate some comforting food and drank a lot of tea, but art-wise I was having a lot of doubts.

"You are not good at art"
"You will never be an illustrator"
"Quit now"

I sat there with a pencil and a blank piece of paper and stared at the off-white surface until my vision went blurry. I kept making marks, adding lines I thought I wanted and I had to keep erasing them and getting incredibly frustrated. I learned a lesson today that I re-learn every other day - you should not try and be like everyone else. I spent so long trying to create something beautiful I'd seen others make, recreating images in my head of elaborate scenes with realistic faces and intricates landscapes. There's nothing wrong with me trying these things, I still believe I should practice them as much as I can to achieve my full potential, but it is also important to think about style. My drawings do best when I draw in my own style and when I'm not trying to be like someone else. My mom brought up the excellent example of Quentin Blake. His drawings, though unconventional and not based on realism, are incredibly good. They are wonderfully suited to Roald Dahl's wonderfully silly worlds of fiction, or I least that's my opinion. 

I shrugged my shoulders, worked through this confidence boosting process in my mind, and drew how I felt and how I looked at that moment. I was sat in bed in my boyfriend's hoodie, Garfield pyjamas and socks that kept slipping off, which were incredibly fun to draw. 

Is my art perfect? Not by most standards.
Is it perfect for me? Yes. 

Though I am a terrible perfectionist and I will never be fully happy with my art, it is something that brings me joy and that has evolved so much over the many years I have been drawing that I can't possibly toss it aside. 

If you want to pursue anything in life, do not allow others to tell you it is unrealistic or not worth pursuing. Make yourselves happy :) 

- Lauren Newman a.k.a shrInking violet

Thursday, 9 February 2017


I don't particularly like how that hashtag sounds but I'm using it anyway.

I will (try to) upload an old piece of art weekly! I think it's important for artists to keep looking back at old work. Some pieces you will love, some you will loathe but all of them count as experience! Artistic improvement can be so gradual that you don't feel like you've improved at all, so being able to compare to past work is definitely helpful.

The piece below was an experiment in digital painting. My style is often very cartoony for good reason - I rush. I'm so eager for a finished product that I've envisioned in my mind, realism doesn't get a look in. Drawing something so serious in a style I still wasn't happy with means I dislike this particular picture but it still stands as one of my proper attempts at a digital painting that doesn't involve harsh lines and filled in colours.

 Let It Go - Nov 2014 - Lauren Newman

Goodnight folks!

Tuesday, 7 February 2017


Right now I'm drinking a cup of tea from a mug with 'The Walking Dead' on it that my boyfriend gave me for my twentieth birthday. It's a decent cup of tea but, to tell you the truth, I've spent more time trying not to smear my lipstick all over my face every time I take a sip. I'm going through a bit of a make-up phase. I don't know how this will hold up before a 10am lecture tomorrow so it's likely I will drag myself out of bed and be out of the door within ten minutes, clutching toast. Why do I need make-up anyway? Matt Haig always tweets about how 'they' make us worry about our appearance so we buy cosmetics. Do I really want to do it? Or do I just feel addicted to how it makes me feel about myself?

I'm not really sure how this blog is going to turn out. I'm trying to figure out where I want to be in life, mainly career-wise. I'm going to start sketching more. I miss all the free time I had to draw and read before university, but I'm looking at it as a short time in my life to work hard and reap the rewards afterwards. I'm already half-way through so I should think graduation will be here in no time at all. Part of me can't wait and another part is terrified. 

I'm kind of bobbing about listening to 'Tugboat' by Galaxie 500. I wish I had heard of them from somewhere other than 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower' soundtrack. As much as I love that film and all the music in it, I certainly don't feel like a Galaxie 500 fan. I should really branch out and listen to more of their music. They have a way of transporting you back in time and, even though I wasn't even born then, it makes me feel like I was there. It's also pretty cool that they were influenced by The Velvet Underground. Last year I studied an interesting module, it was my favourite actually, which was taught by someone I genuinely think is wonderful. He has white fluffy hair and bounces around in skinny jeans and plaid shirts and I always imagine him to have been a hippie. He told us about The Velvet Underground and I quite liked their sound. 

I think I will leave this introductory stream-of-consciousness with a tiny comic and will hopefully be back with more interesting content! Official avatar and theme coming soon!

- Lauren Newman a.k.a shrInking violet