Wednesday, 17 September 2014

My Top 10 Classical Pieces

My Thoughts on All Things in the Creative World
Every Wednesday

Music has always been a big part of my life; everything including rock, folk, Celtic, film soundtracks and classical. I've been around a lot of genres since I was a kid, and I still listen to them now.

In regards to the classical side, I got around to thinking about that since the BBC Proms have just finished (I always watch the Last Night!). I recently rediscovered a film which I used to have playing in the background a lot when I was younger, packed full of classical music and nature footage. It's really set me on a mission to spend time listening to my favourite composers again. A lot of them are ones I can't even remember hearing for the first time - they appeared sometime in my childhood and I've loved them ever since.

So here are a few of my favourite pieces! Feel free to check them out!



SERGEI PROKOFEIV - Troika, from Lieutenant Kije Suite



GEORGE FRIDERIC HANDEL - Arrival of the Queen of Sheba, from Solomon


ANTONIO VIVALDI - Spring Allegro, from The Four Seasons


GUSTAV HOLST - The Planets Suite

Elphame Arts - My Art Journey

With the launch of Elphame Arts just around the corner, I thought I'd deviate from books a bit and tell you a little about my artwork. It's been a while coming for me to get to this point where I'm ready to open my own art business, and it's amazing to think that it's coming to life - especially since, until 6 months ago, I couldn't even grip a pencil properly!

Like most kids, I enjoyed drawing when I was younger. I've been drawing for pretty much as long as I've been writing; I illustrated my stories right up until I was 16 (the last one was actually the very first draft of Blindsighted Wanderer!). I played around with a lot of mediums in my early teens, and it wasn't long before I found my love of pencils - especially graphite. It was around this time that I really wondered if I could ever be an artist.
When I was 13, I discovered Selina Fenech. Even today, she's still my favourite artist, and her work has inspired me for ten years. I was particularly taken with her pencil artworks, and I studied her techniques, trying to apply them to my own drawings. I even used her as my style inspiration for my final art piece in school. I did enjoy art classes very much, but I resented them in a way as well, because most of the time, we had to use some kind of paint, and I can't use a brush to save my life. I always grasped any opportunity to use my beloved graphite and charcoal. But those opportunities were few and far between, so by the time I finished my GCSEs, I'd actually lost my drive to draw.

I finally picked up my pencils again three years later, just before I started university. I got a profile on DeviantART and I was overjoyed to be drawing again. After a while, I started experimenting with digital photomanipulations as well (using nothing but Microsoft Paint - I have no idea how I even managed that!). This was when I received my first commissions, and when I donated several pieces to raise money for charities.

But when I was 19, in my second year of uni, I started having problems with my right wrist. It was gradual at first, but then got worse and worse, until the point when I couldn't even lift a fork. To have all my strength sap away so rapidly was a real knock to my confidence, and I was forced to stop drawing again, because I simply couldn't hold a pencil.

The trouble with my wrist lasted for a long time, coming and going, and I've lost count of how many times I had to strap it up to ease the pain. I finally managed to get it seen to, and after a load of X-rays and an MRI scan, we found the problem with my tendons. I took a physiotherapy course for several months, and my strength gradually returned. To make up for my inability to draw, I'd turned back to digital art, and come on in leaps and bounds (especially when I invested in a Photoshop programme!). I self-taught myself, eventually creating my own concept artworks for my novels and, in the case of Tragic Silence, the book cover.

Just a couple of months ago, I dug out my old portfolio from my late teens and decided to test my wrist properly. I did a simple portrait, and I was amazed when I managed to complete it. Spurred on, I made more and more, and with each one, the pain and shaking in my hand decreased. I know that if I'd drawn this much at the start of 2014, it probably would have made my wrist worse. But now, it's adding to the strength, and it almost feels back to normal. And it helped me to finally make the decision to follow my old idea of being an artist.

PictureMy latest artwork: 'Black September'
Elphame Arts will open on Friday 3rd October 2014, and I'm so excited to let this become real at last. Not too long ago, I did seriously wonder whether I'd ever be able to draw properly again - or return to the standard I'd previously worked at. But with perseverance and a lot of hard work, this new venture is about to begin, and I can't wait to share it with all of you!

I hope you enjoyed this peek into my art journey - now it's time for the future to come rolling around!