Wow, time has really flown this year! All of a sudden #blogjune has come around again and it's time to dust off all the draft blog posts that I've been cogitating on (sometimes in writing, but mostly in my head) and hit that publish button again and again. But before that starts, I just wanted to share some long overdue news properly ...

This year I've taken a year off work to study visual arts full-time :)

As many of my friends will know, I love creating and making. Although for many years I've been happy for this to just be a hobby - separate to my work, and confined to my spare time - I had recently started feeling frustrated at not being able to explore my creativity further and dedicate more time to it. Late last year I decided to take a plunge and apply for a visual arts course. Happily, I was accepted and I've been a full-time art student since the beginning of February.

There have been ups and downs. Although it's really exciting to be a full-time creative for a while, I also tend to put a lot of pressure on myself (especially in terms of expectations of success) and it has been really stressful on occasion. I've questioned myself, my creativity, my skills, my goals, my thought processes, my learning style, and the course itself. I've struggled to manage my time effectively, as I've over-committed and over-stretched myself for assignments. The course structure and teaching style is different to anything I've done before too, and there was definitely a period of adjustment while I learnt the ropes.

It was only during the Easter break that I really felt like I had made the right decision and was able to fully commit to completing the course. After weeks of spending all of my time on assignments, I finally had some space to work on my own projects for a while. I doodled, and I mucked around, and I generally enjoyed myself very much. But although I loved being back in my comfort zone, I soon realised that if I wasn't doing this course I wouldn't have moved away from it anywhere near the extent to which I already have this year.

So it has been, and continues to be, a worthwhile activity. Challenging moments still occur with a fairly regular frequency, but they are all valuable learning experiences and I try to keep remembering that. The end of the year is a long way off, but I'm excited to think about what I will have learnt and created by then. I'll certainly have a better idea of how I want to incorporate creativity into my life and work going forward.

I haven't posted much of my work online yet, and this is something that I definitely want to start doing more. Of course I want to share my learning journey with my friends and followers, but I'll admit I've been a little nervous about it too. Okay, and maybe just a tad disorganised as well :) Anyway, #blogjune will be a good opportunity to share and talk about some of the pieces I've created so far this year, and provide a little context at the same time.

I'll start off with this self portrait that I did in my first week of classes. It's made up of pieces that were cut from coloured paint swatches that I created to represent a range of moods and feelings.

Self portrait