Some self reflection

I took a step back from the internet – I’ve always had some sort of presence on social media – when my Husband finished work for the Christmas break on the 15th of December. I was using some websites pretty avidly in the month or so before this date and honestly, I was feeling like it was taking over my life (again)

The break has been welcome and now I am looking over my actions with hindsight I can see how badly I was using the internet and social media; I was in the grips of addiction. The decision to take a step back was both welcome and eye-opening.

I took a quick peep on my dA account while I was writing this post; as that’s the place that I have been most active and it’s all doom and gloom. People threatening to kill themselves over (honestly) the dumbest stuff ever and all I want to do is scream at them to get a grip! I think, in part, it’s because that now I am a bit older I don’t really feel like I fit in with the younger people on there these days. Where issues like, Apu from the Simpsons suddenly being outed as a racist character, seem to be more relevant and important to discuss than third world poverty. Or where the ability to pick and choose ones gender on a whim seems more un/acceptable than the so-called rape culture we live in. I am generalising for emphasis here; but these are the things that I was encountering daily on the wider internet. And also being labelled a stalker for reading the pages of another persons blog  – surely, that is what a blog is for? Reading?

Needless to say, it all just became too much and the decision to leave it all behind was a welcome one.

But, what am I thinking of now that I am in the midst of this break? I’ve used the internet to define a large part of who I am for a very long time. Websites, like DeviantArt have been the platform for my voice and my art for the past 14 years – longer than some of it’s users have been alive – so I have been left to do a serious amount of thinking. If I leave these social media sites behind me I know I will overall be happier and leave a more fulfilling life and I won’t be carrying around this addiction anymore. Yet, I would cut off some people I have known for a very long time, people I see as good friends and some of the only social interaction I get sometimes. I know I’d hear a lot less from some important people in my life – to the point where I doubt I would hear from them at all.

Do I stay in a place that ultimately isn’t good for me, but gives me a platform to express my creativity and gives me contact with people. Or, do I use the internet and the social platforms I have to keep in touch with people and express my creativity at the expense of my mental health?

I can see pros and cons for either side of the argument and I am thankful that I have enough time to ponder the conundrum for a while longer before the husband returns to work and I am left more or less alone with these thoughts.

I am thinking that there must be a healthy medium somewhere, but considering how the internet feels like an addiction surely using just one website (including my blog) is like an alcoholic or drug addict saying ‘One won’t hurt?’

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Internet Detox – Day Seven

Monday.

I had the blues.

I needed a distraction today, so played a heap of Dragon Age again. Soon I’ll be needing a Dragon Age detox!!

I also read about the next step in my watercolour learning process and it looks a lot like it gets complicated quickly.

I’ll be giving the next step a go today and report on it shortly.

Most of the day was pretty uneventful though – it felt like one of those days I should just bury my head in the sand and not achieve anything major. Even the evening was a bit of a bust. We did the food shopping after taking Barley for a walk and then watched Game of Thrones.

Is anyone else finding this season a little lack lustre compared to the others?

As far as the detox is concerned, I made it a week. A week without doing anything other than coming here for five minutes to blog.

I feel a load better for it and now feel that I can focus my time on the internet a hell of a lot better.
So tomorrow I shall start introducing a few websites that I am allowing myself to go back to.
Mostly DeviantArt and Facebook – for my pages.
I’ll see how it all goes and decide if I am winning or not.

It’s been really good to do this though and I am glad that I did.
It’s really helped me figure out what it important and what isn’t.
And most of all, it’s really helped me bond better with the world beyond the internet.

I can’t recommend it enough to any internet addicts!

Internet Detox – Day Six

I don’t think there was much to say about today really.

It was a Sunday.

Myself and my husband went to the Trafford Centre at about lunchtime, which was a bit of a silly mistake because we seemed to spend about an hour stuck in traffic.

We brought ourselves a present in the form of a 40” 3D TV – we didn’t know about the 3D until we got it home and set up though. We are yet to test this feature!

It also has a football mode; I have no idea what this is!

It looks pretty swish though.

So we’re happy.

But other than that, I think the day was pretty eventless.

I could talk about consumerism here I suppose?

I’ll leave it at that though.

Internet Detox – Day 5

Today was easy.

It’s a lot easier to avoid addictions like the internet when you’re with other people. Real people. Not to say that people that you speak to aren’t real, but they’re just not the same. You can’t call them up and ask them to come over and keep you company when you need it. They won’t be there for you if your house gets robbed or something drastic happens and you really need them.

At least, that’s what it was like for me. Mostly because the people I knew and spoke to were half a world away or more – and there was something else as well. People that I spoke to on the net were generally needy people with so many problems coming out of their ears that they don’t have the time to to care about their ‘friends’

And yet, I clung to these people like they meant something.

I’m not saying it’s true for all of them, it’s not. There are some I know and have known for a long time that aren’t like that. These are the people that if you tell them you’re taking a break from the internet, they’ll support your choices and say ‘See you when you get back.’
I know who those people are now and I feel a lot better for it.

So, today we had visitors.

It was nice to walk around Bury Market with them, and actually see the market for myself. I’ve only had the chance to wander about a couple of times – as before I used to work every market day.

It was also nice to be able to talk about my artwork as well. One of the visitors commented on a painting up in my living room and it was nice to be able to say that it had been up in the local gallery and tell her all about how it was made and the process I follow.

I felt encouraged by the conversation.

Internet Detox – Day Four

I spent most of my day today on Dragon Age: Inquisition. My husband is out this evening so I shall probably spend most of the evening on it as well.

I’ve lost my day timing a little bit with the blog at this point, so while there might be more days in between posts than I days in the detox; but I’m writing these posts on the days they’re meant to be posted, so they will be in order regardless of actual posting days.

I did a bit more watercolour work today, just a little mind.

It was more work with washes and using them as a gradient shade. As it stands I feel this is something that I need to deal with more often, as the washes I laid down didn’t really seem to have much of a gradient effect to them.

I’ll try painting the same scene a few times from the book and see how I’ll get along with them, I might do some more of them on Saturday morning or sometime during Sunday.

Until then enjoy seeing my efforts so far

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Using the other end of the brush to make the spikey effects in the weeds was something I’d never even thought about doing before, so this process has already given me ideas to take forwards into my own work. And this is only after a few of the lessons in the book.

The book also has courses for oils and acrylics, which I am interested in following. I’ve used acrylics a few times before in the past, but mostly as backgrounds to overlay my Scribble Doodles, it will be interesting to read and try out new ways of working with them. As for oils, I’ve never even considered using them. Whenever I have seen them used they look dark and uninviting. I have also always been put off by the fact that they take so long to dry; unlike acrylics.

So I have a lot to be getting on with and trying out while I am offline, keep your fingers crossed for me that this detox works and I can find myself in all this time I am giving to my artwork.

Internet Detox – Day Three

So, I am now onto day three of my detox. It’s gotten a little harder. I can’t express how important I feel this process is for me. I was spending all of my time on the internet. From, the moment my husband went to work to the time he got home again. So, that’s at the very least 9+ hours of the day. I know there will be people out there who spend longer than that, but the point I’m trying to get across is the fact that this addiction was starting to ruin my life. At least, it felt that way. If I was interrupted while being on the ‘net then I would get moody or snappy with whoever spoke to me. Or I wouldn’t even acknowledge they’d even spoken at all. It was mean and it was unfair on them.

Today I felt a little bit lost, I couldn’t really focus on what I wanted to do. I flitted about the house and I don’t really feel like I did anything. I played on a silly game on the PC for a while, until I realised that the game would be the fastest way to RSI possible. So I mostly faffed about.

I did start the next watercolour tutorial from the book, but didn’t finish that until today (Day four) so I shall write about that more in tomorrows post.

As for the dog walk today – if you couldn’t tell this now feels like a big part of my life; Barley found himself some play mates in the wood and was chasing a lovely labradoodle dog about for a stick. It’s lovely watching the dogs get together and play, I think in the end there was about six of them all running about with one another, playing various games of catch and chase. I will remember to take the camera with me one day

What else?

In the evening Elliot and I played on the Xbox, something that we’ve not done in a while together. We picked up a game called Dark Souls 2 again, which we stated a while back and for some reaosn put down again. It took us a while to actually remember what the hell we were doing and how the game worked, but in the end it turned out pretty fun.

Video gaming for me has always been a social affair, ever since I was a little girl. Growing up we had an Amiga and played various games together, mostly classics such as Monkey Island, Lemmings and Elvira: Mistress of the Dark.

So for me, playing video games is a bonding experience. Offering up ideas on how to do things, what route to follow and puzzles to solve while the other person controls the game (and possible ignores everything I say)

Internet Detox – Day Two

I felt it nagging today, and as such I felt a little unsettled. I could hear that little voice just telling me; ‘Check your messages, it won’t take long.’ It took a lot of effort to resist it, but I did. And I feel proud of myself. I buried my head in housework, simple things like washing up or emptying the bin when I heard it calling to me; so far it all seems to be working out all right.

It’s hard just keeping to my blog page and staying there, but I’m doing a good job of resisting so far. I think as soon as I get over this main hurdle, it will get easier.

The second lesson was taking the image above a bit further with some more washes.

I repeated the creation of my monochrome image, mostly due to the fact I was unhappy with a large area of dark hill in my first. That’s a hard part about watercolour, there isn’t a way to lighten it once you’ve made a mistake like that!

The process involves adding two colours over the top of the painting – blue for the sky, green for everywhere else. I think it’s purpose is to practise more with washes; which seem to play a big part in the watercolour process.

So I came across a bit of an issue with this one. My paintbrush never seemed to store enough solution (Paint and water) to run across my paper. Bare in mind, I am only making small paintings at the moment 6×4 at the most. I’m not entirely certain why, I’ve created enough wash and I’m not running out. So I seem to think it’s the brush.

Readers, if you’re painters and use watercolours yourself, what sort of brushes do you use? Do you have any recommendations to a watercolour newbie? I would love to hear from you on this, as I don’t believe mine to be a very good make despite it being a soft headed brush.

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Positive outcomes;

  • Added colour to the painting without the colour blending with the black
  • Successful washes despite having to return several times to the palette

Negative outcomes;

  • Not enough tonal range on initial painting. I think this was due to being hesitant with the black compared to the previous painting where I had that really dark patch. So, I need to find a happy medium between the two in future.
  • Lack of patience with waiting for areas to dry before adding more washes!!