Our first year abroad came and went last week. The first year was an exciting yet challenging combination of fun travel, stress and isolation. So far this year we get to keep the fun travel and dump most of the stress. Could not be better!
The last year was filled with big change and adventure, with periods of intense loneliness and stillness. Moving across the ocean and saying goodbye to everybody you know outside your immediate family is exciting for sure, but also difficult and sad at times. Thankfully the experience is only getting better and I look forward to taking on 2016 with renewed energy and newfound clarity. Thanks to my readers for all the support in 2015, it has meant a lot to me. More painting, more drawing, more exploring, more learning and bigger projects for the next year. I'm ready. What are you ready to take on in 2016?
That happens in everyday life. Adjusting to being back in England after holiday in Spain has been a challenge. It still doesn't feel quite like home, especially after time away. But there is a lot of beauty and magic here as well even if I have total wanderlust for more and more trips.
Single people or people traveling without young children enjoy your much easier to plan with fewer limitations holiday!
Don't overschedule yourself on holiday. Think relaxation over sightseeing. And if there is some monument or museum that you just have to bring your kid(s) to, avoid an early ticket.
Go out on your own to see the sights that you are most interested in and let your partner do the same.
Get a place with a pool. This makes downtime so much easier and more effective.
Don't stay out all day sightseeing. Come back to rest midday or early evening if you got a late start out.
Memories over photos. Really look with your family rather than taking constant selfies.
Draw and journal your trip as you go and finish it up at home with collected ephemera like handouts and tickets.
Summer in England. My first Pimm's was at a pub along the river with my sketching buddy. Not a bad way to welcome summertime! Later we wandered a bit more and I got in a quick value sketch of an old church.
(Almost) Six months into packing up everything and moving to England we are pretty much adjusted to our new life. I have some observations.
1) Living abroad is lonely. Moving to a country with the same language certainly helps but the cultural differences are still hard to overcome.
2) You adjust. My kids adjusted the quickest and my husband and I a little slower. Adjustment doesn't happen all at once but it ebbs and flows.
3) Visitors from home are awesome! Our first visitors from the states came in May and we really appreciated spending time with them.
4) But when they leave homesickness will be rekindled.
5) Living abroad is addictive. I love not being super tied down and hope to live in other countries in the future.
6) There are so many flowers and birds in the UK! At least in the area that I am blessed to live in.
7) I am allergic to at least some of that beautiful plantlife. This past May was by far my worst experience with allergies.
8) I don't know why crosswalks exist since drivers constantly block them.
9) Traffic is the worst! But walking, biking and public transit are all reasonable options. (Despite the crosswalk blocking vehicles)
10) Living here still feels like a dream that I am going to wake up from.
Sketching in Rome was some of the hardest on site sketching I have done. Harder than Oxford, harder than Notre Dame. Headache inducing difficult sketching in the heat while putting a lot of pressure on myself to do a good job and "make the most of the experience". At the time I did not feel that I made the most of the experience in Rome since I didn't love a single drawing that I produced. Then we went home and I started going out more on non-rainy days and really focusing on getting buildings to look believable and confident in my sketches. And it's working. It's getting easier. I learned a lot from my "bad" sketches in Rome and am so grateful for the opportunity to make them. Relax.
Nothing exciting except after twelve years of single floor living and two kids this simple staircase is just about the best thing. A bigger space for my family, tons of inspiring local structures to draw as well as a vibrant art community to join plus traveling all over Europe these past five months in the UK have been pretty fantastic.
Exploring Oxford a little every day, exploring London whenever I can get away and soon to be exploring Rome. There are so many beautiful old buildings, parks, forests, rivers and cafes for me to explore and draw along the way. Life is filled with adventure.
A new challenge for 100 days? On top of my 365 creativity challenge but with a narrower focus. And the 30 days of blogging. Sure, why not? But only if I can roll it into my main challenge.
1) self portraits - 100 of them in a row, ouch! Not medium specific. Challenging to keep it interesting and not get terribly sick of myself.
2) drawing - probably too broad of a theme
3) painting - same problem as above
4) daily floral - another good option. Good chance to practice florals.
5) daily portrait - like #1 but with more flexibility.