Once Upon A Dream…

I was thinking about what to draw next and took inspiration for this artwork whilst re-decorating my room. It all happened when I came across a dream catcher, which I felt the urge to add to my existing collection. (I’ve always been a fan of dream catchers and have often contemplated getting one tattooed on my skin). 

Dream catchers typically comprise of a wooden circle, covered by thread, which is woven in an intricate pattern and finished with precious items, such as beads and feathers hanging from the bottom of the circle. 

The Dream Catcher originated from native America and is thought to have been invented by a tribe, with the purpose of protecting it’s young from being harmed. The concept of the dream catcher became more prevalent, as tribes began to expand across the country and tribe leaders could no longer watch over the infants of the tribe. Consequently, in the absence of tribe warriors, dream catchers were woven by maternal figures, such as mothers and grandmothers and were hung above a cradle to protect infants from being harmed in their sleep. 

Originally, to make the dream catcher, two spider webs were woven into the circle of the dream catcher. Spider webs were used, since their properties are such that they tend to trap and take hold of anything that comes in their path. Using this logic, it was thought that the spider webs in the dream catcher would trap any harmful elements in the air and provide a form of protection. This explains why the thread pattern in modern dream catchers happen to look similar to that of a spider’s web. 

Also key to note, is the circular frame and how it represents the constant flow of life; through the way the sun and moon orbit the earth in a continuous loop. Similarly, the number of different points on the dream catcher are thought to symbolise different meanings. For example, a dream catcher with 5 points is thought to resemble a star, whereas a dream catcher with 13 points is thought to represent the 13 different phases of the moon. 

In modern times, the dream catcher is said to have the purpose of catching good dreams and filtering them through the feathers to the person below. This is in addition to protecting that person from incurring bad dreams, through the motion of catching them in the ‘spiders web’. Now dream catchers can be seen across a variety of items including jewellery, phone cases, home decor etc. and are made from various different materials.

About the art:
I decided to draw the classic dream catcher but with an added twist, through combining the semi-circle of the dream catcher with a floral pattern. I then added in some detail using lines and dotting (‘stippling’), to add shading and dimension. 

I was glad to find an excuse to use my new sketch pad and drew this only using a pencil and some fine liner pens (0.3, 0.8 and 1.0 thickness). I am pleased with the result; in hindsight the only thing that I would have changed is that I would have used a circular object to draw around for the outer ring of the dream catcher, instead of chancing it freestyle, as I did above.

~

What would you like me to draw next? Comment below 🙂🕷

1,000+ followers and blog analytics

Wow…1,000+ followers!! This is truly an unexpected milestone and one which I am struggling to comprehend – I didn’t expect to receive 100 followers let alone 1,000. (In fact, I vividly remember my first post, which was some 3.5 months ago and had accumulated a total of 0 views), so thank you all so much for the continued love and support. 

To me, growth is about more than obtaining followers, it’s about engaging with the community and gaining new ideas about the world from different posts. After all, knowledge is power and reading is healthy for the brain! It also just so happens that WordPress is a free library, which is home to a diverse range of subjects and perspectives 😜

My blogging story: 

From my relatively short blogging journey, I feel that I have learned a lot. At the start of this journey, I had expected to meet a community of like-minded artists and soon realised that perhaps WordPress wasn’t the right platform for me. In essence, I should have stuck to the likes of Etsy, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and Deviant Art, to showcase my work and meet other inspiring/upcoming artists. 

Instead, I was discovered by a poet and writer, who followed me and was the first person to leave a nice review under one of my posts. I was humbled by her act of kindness and reciprocated the gesture, by supporting her work in the same way that she did mine. Soon, I came across a wonderful community of writers, poets and lifestyle bloggers. By that point I was sold to WordPress and now looking back, I wouldn’t have it any other way! Thanks to each and every one of you that makes up the 1,000 follower count. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the amazing community of bloggers who have supported, uplifted and welcomed me with open arms. 

Top tips for WordPress growth: 

So here are my top tips for seeing growth on the platform, without having to pay for an upgrade:

  1. Ensure that you have completed your website and have a website title. In my opinion, there is nothing worse than having ‘site title’ at the top of every blog post! I personally found that once I re-designed my website, people wanted to visit my website more often and took more time reading my posts. 
  2. Like/comment on people’s posts and engage with people. Bonus points for commenting. People are likely to reciprocate on your posts and other people who haven’t discovered you, will see your comment and ‘visit’ your blog, increasing website traffic. 
  3. If you see that someone liked your comment or post and they seem to be an interesting blog, give them a follow. They will likely follow back, as they are initiating an interest in your personality/content! 
  4. Use relevant hashtags on your posts. This will attract the right audiences to see your posts, even if they don’t follow you. 
  5. Don’t neglect your blog. If you don’t post regularly that’s fine, but make sure that you continue engaging with people, via their blog posts on a regular basis.
  6. Monitor your website/blog performance using analytics. (See below).

Measuring website traffic using analytics: 

One of the many benefits of using WordPress, is that anyone can receive web analytics to assist in measuring the performance of their website/blog. Best of all, this is completely FREE to access and requires no upgrade. 

The analytics feature allows website owners to see how many views they are receiving across the different blog posts/pages on their website and make the necessary tweaks to improve performance. Below are my website analytics:

In totality, I’ve received 9,290 views and my website has attracted 3,212 visitors. Below is a breakdown to show the views on my latest post: 

This is based on my latest post ‘I Spy with my Little Eye’. It’s been 18 days since I posted (I wrote this in advance of posting) and I have a total of 737 views, 383 likes and 422 comments. The breakdown includes the number of views per week. I posted on the 2nd September, hence the weeks 10th August – 30th August have 0 views. The first week after posting has seen the best views, as expected. Between the 7th – 13th September, I took a mini break from WordPress and the impact that my lack of engagement has had is apparent, with less views during this period. However, upon my return, the views have increased again, emphasising the importance of having a presence and interacting with blog posts. 

Location analytics: 

It’s also interesting to see where my viewers are coming from. According to the analytics, there appears to be a global spread, with viewers coming from different continents around the world. A deeper look into my blog analytics shows that most of my viewers come from India, followed by the U.K. and USA. However, this can change from one day to the next, as sometimes I’ve seen that the U.S. has taken the second spot and Canada has made an appearance. 

What would make this even more interesting, is to be able to see what cities/states viewers are most concentrated in. This feature doesn’t appear to be available yet, but is useful, as it would enable the tailoring of posts to suit the interests of different audiences. For example, some states in the U.S. are quite religious, so I could look to incorporate religions references into my art. 

Well, that’s all from me. Thank you for reading and happy blogging! 😊

I Spy with my Little Eye…

A persons eyes,
Blue, black and brown 
Draw me in…
Are the key to reading deep into their soul,
and reveal secrets never told.
A persons eyes,
twinkle with joy,
when they dream fearlessly 
about a world of infinite possibility…

A persons eyes, 
roll in circular motions at an awful joke, 
when they are not impressed. 
In the same way that they avoid eye contact, 
when they are lying or depressed. 
A persons eyes, 
Blue, black and brown 
Draw me in, 
then slowly drift apart…
Until next time.
When I search for the right set of eyes,  
to feel whole again.
***
Sketch #1: the ‘realistic’ eye   

As my life begins to get busy again with increased work commitments, I find myself facing an internal battle against time to put together the artistic creations that make up this blog. Thus, instead of my usual style of A3 and A2 canvass prints, I thought that I would revert to a sketch book project. I have never had a sketchpad for my art and the thought of having a diary full of illustrations, where I can track my progress by turning pages, has me excited! 

About the art:  
I am quite an unconventional artist, in the sense that I tend not to draw lines and sketches. Instead, I simply get stuck in with a pencil and rub out where necessary; a bit like a trial and error process. Nevertheless, I always do my research beforehand. Google images, Instagram and Pinterest are great sources of inspiration for art. Facebook has some good art pages as well, with YouTube videos to demonstrate the process of drawing.  

My top tips for drawing a realistic eye:  

  1. Ensure that you have an image of an eye in front of you, as this will assist in providing an idea as to how to structure the shape of the eye, determine the length of the lashes and gain perception on how the light touches it.  
  2. Use all (or as many as you can) of the different shading pencils. For this artwork I used 2B, 3B, 4B, 6B and 8B. This is essential for creating depth, contrast and shadows, through the use of light and dark tones. I used 8B, which is the darkest pencil in my collection, for the eye ball and lashes. 3-4B will do for the shading of the eyelid. 2B can be used for the initial sketch and outline of the eye. If in doubt, test the pencils on a separate piece of paper. For added depth of colour, I went over the darkest parts of this drawing using a black fine liner pen, which makes the eye stand out on the page. 
  3. Be sure to use a rubber/eraser! A rubber is the perfect tool for erasing the spots where you want the light to show – for me, those light spots were the centre of the eyeball, to show that the person is looking into a source of light, as well as the inner under eye (lacrimal papilla/waterline), which makes the eye look bigger, due to providing a contrast to the shading on the eyelids. Erasing parts of the eye provides such a wonderful and exquisite contrast to the deeper tones, and is a must-do to achieve the perfect eye look. A white gel pen or tipex pen would work well too. Alternatively, you can use white paint, but ensure that the paint brush that you use is incredibly fine for precision. 
  4. Use your fingers (or a small, dry sponge) to smudge around the eyelid and create a realistic shading effect for the outer skin around the eye. I also used this technique underneath the top lashes, to provide the illusion of a shadow created by the eye lashes. 

The artistic process has also been demonstrated for you, by the photos below (my video wouldn’t upload). As you may have noticed, my sketch wasn’t perfect to begin with and I made alterations to the eye shape/added extra details throughout. This is an example of how you shouldn’t be afraid to have an attempt at art, as you can learn so much throughout the process. 

I hope that this post has inspired you and uplifted your spirits. Please feel free to mention my blog in any eye-related artwork, if you choose to draw one of these yourself, and let me know if you found the tips helpful 🙂  

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