C’est juin

June marks the beginning of the second half of the year. I’m a firm believer that each day brings about a new start to life. In this case, the first part of the year was a period of introspection and reflection. My mindset needed a gradual readjustment before I continue to progress further. C’est la vie! 

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I’ve set myself a small challenge to be more progressive with life. Taking the example set by Gretchen Rubin in The Happiness Project, I’ll be using June as a way of tackling small changes in my life. Things that I hope to achieve include: 

1. A more mindful way of living through yoga, meditation and healthier eating practices

2. Doing what I enjoy and becoming better at what I do. This means an overhaul of my blog and my artistic practice. 

3. Improved relationships with people as a result of a happier self. 

Whilst doing a blog-related e-course, I’ll be fixing up my website/blog @caaralopez.com. In the meantime, I will be doing my best to blog my progress on Tumblr and Twitter. (I apologise in advance if any cross-posting does occur.)

Please stay tuned! 

FRESH NEW BEGINNINGS

It’s a brand new month, and the rains have brought with them new beginnings. There were some difficult lessons that I had to learn over the past couple of weeks that related to my career path as a designer. I’m taking it in stride and I’m using this to my advantage. 

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed yet. I’ve changed the name of my blog to make it run seamlessly with my new domain. I’m all up for matchy-matchy things, and it seems as though caara (with two a’s) is going to stick as my personal brand. 

I’m still in the process of making everything look pretty. It’s also going to take a little bit of time. But, I think it will be worth it at the end of the day. What I’ve noticed is the fact that I still have a massive love for the simple/elegant monochromatic palette. I would prefer to change a LOT of other things (like typefaces and whatnot). 

HIM.

It’s almost the month of March. Time flies so quickly. Someone once told me that time does this when a person is happy, content and grateful. I have no reason not to object. 

March is a quirky little month. It also brought with it this little cutie. He has been a part of my family since the year we moved to Sydney. In dog and human years, he is pretty ancient. For a little dog, he seems to be just as comfortable believing that he is still a puppy.

This will have to be one of my favourite photos of the two of us. 

POP

My adoptive grandfather celebrated his birthday a couple of days ago. I wasn’t able to be there, due to work and other commitments. This card made with love acted as my proxy. A man who made an impact on a lot of peoples’ lives deserves nothing less than something that pops. 

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BENEATH EVERYTHING.

A little voice in my head and in my heart has been tugging at my creative heartstrings lately. It’s been telling me to draw more and to paint more. I guess that it coincides with the moodiness and insecurity that my mind has been plagued with. 

Art and writing have always been my favourite ways of trying to figure things out. When I’m not sure how to handle how I feel about situations or life-changing events, I usually put pen and paper to good use. My writing has always been more private and more intimate… But a picture can express a thousand things too. The intricacies of line, darkness and light have always fascinated me. Monochrome or colour… either way, they’re wonderfully expressive. 

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Life often brings us to places and experiences that we don’t expect. Like most people, I want certainty… It’s difficult to tell, but we’re scared when things are too certain and when there’s the cloud of the unknown. Somehow, I’m handling things better this time around. Creative outlets helped a lot. I ended up getting a couple of new sketchbooks when I wasn’t feeling too well.

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A year later, and a new art style that I’m becoming fond of has found its way to me.

CARDS AND ALL THINGS CREATIVE

I’ve always enjoyed illustrating. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always created little artworks. It was always more enjoyable when I gave them as presents to people I genuinely cared about. 

Lately, small occasions have given me the opportunity to revisit this small passion of mine. Although I genuinely love creating patterns with textiles in mind, I like tailoring small artworks to suit the recipients. Purchasing presents and small gifts is lovely. The time and energy that I devote to each one of these creations makes them more meaningful to me. 

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The card above was created for my adoptive grandparents. They celebrated twenty-five years of marriage. I couldn’t think of a better way to illustrate this without taking inspiration from the Disney-Pixar movie entitled “Up”. It’s probably a reference that they wouldn’t have understood. The movie was a sweet, yet poignant reminder that love is something that stands the test of time. 

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A few days later, I realised that I didn’t want to rely on Hallmark or anywhere else to show the sweetest man how I felt about him. Originally, I wanted to use olives as part of the theme. (He has a love for this gourmet food thing…) I’ve seen OLIVE YOU cards on Etsy, but they didn’t feel quite right. My card may have used illustrations that I had created from ages ago… as well as some improvised emoticons. 

People have made comments on our lack of selfies together on Instagram and other branches of social media. I’ve made up for it by pasting our images together and putting appropriate emoticons with it. And a heart… because Valentine’s Day messages are not going to be complete without hearts, right? I liked it so much, I had to print a copy for myself. 

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I learned that his mum’s birthday was coming up. I wasn’t sure what the best present would be, so I did my best to create something pretty. I know that she loves collecting artwork… and that she has an appreciation for beautiful things. 

I based this design on photos of flowers. I may have shifted elements around and abstracted the forms. In the end, I found an art style that I think I’ll end up exploring later on. Perhaps on canvases. 

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Coincidentally, my main man’s mum shares the same birthday as my little cousin who isn’t too little anymore. Because of our conflicting schedules, I haven’t had the chance to catch up with her properly. That said, I wasn’t sure what to get her. So, I tried to come up with something that matched her quirky personality. It’s not as colourful, but I think the patterns made up for the monochromatic nature of the card. 

I’ve given things some thought, and perhaps I may start on creating bespoke one-of-a-kind cards as part of my own design venture. Either that, or a limited range of cards depending on seasons. Suffice to say, 2014 is turning out to be a good one for creativity. Something inside me is calling out. It tells me to paint and draw. Unlike last year, it’s been tapping on my shoulder more constantly.

TODAY IS VALENTINE’S DAY.

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This photo is something that I found floating around the Internet. It features a monumental sculpture that spells “love” in a delightful frame of tactile and visual typography.  

I’m not normally a massive fan of the pseudo-holiday that is characterised by the red, pink and white hearts that jump out everywhere. I believe that every single day is a reason to celebrate love… and I still do. Small acts that make your loved ones happy, or show people that you care about them are meaningful. 

After reading a small book entitled “The Happiness Project,” I started to rethink my perceptions about smaller, more obscure holidays. Lately, I see holidays as an extra reason to express affection, joy and gratitude. At the same time, it makes me wonder about how the world can be better through the littlest of things.

Away from the philosophical thoughts in my head, I just want to wish you all a Happy Valentine’s Day. May it be happy and sweet… and also, full of love. 

FOUR.

I received a message from the Tumblr archivists and it turns out that this blog celebrates its fourth birthday today! Huzzah.

I know that I didn’t take this photo. Lucy Liu is just one of the most stunning women on the planet. She inspires me to be more creative with anything. 

So many things have happened over the course of four years. Among them, many designs were created. It is inspiring me to draw more and attempt to create more. What I’m envisioning in the future is the debut of my own etsy store that features small, textile-related knickknacks for the home. In the interim, I am conceptualising new collections- the best of which will feature in the store, once I get it up and running.

Until then, I will continue to delve into new adventures with people that I care the most about.

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE

Lately, I have rediscovered my love for music that is easy to listen to. Although I adore listening to a variety of music from musical theatre, music by rock or pop artists and even jazz, sometimes it’s good to listen to something relaxing. Since my trip to Japan a couple of years ago, I’ve developed a small fascination for music reminiscent of ones that would play in cafés on crisp, yet sunny days. Bossa nova is what this type of music is called, and it’s helped me to unwind during the most challenging or stressful of days.

Among the tracks that I’ve been listening to, I’ve enjoyed instrumental covers of songs by the Beatles. One of my favourites is All you need is love. This song has been played widely, and from personal experience has also been associated with Christmastime, due to its use in the film Love Actually. Seeing as this month has certain connotations to love, I can see how appropriate this song is during the time of year when the world celebrates the existence of romantic love. 

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This was an illustration that I created sometime last year. I remember entertaining a particular idea in my mind of how it should feel or how things should be. But, love isn’t something that is orchestrated. I guess that it took me a year or so to realise that love is best when it’s natural and organic. 

When it comes to releasing tension or understanding circumstances beyond my control, I tend to move to creative outlets like poetry or portrait-styled illustrations. With the latter, I remember art history and theory classes where we discussed the changes that tend to manifest themselves in our depictions of ourselves. Frida Kahlo was an example of this. She used her art as a way of expressing how she felt about herself and the world. With me, the style that I choose tends to show a lot about how I feel about things at the time. 

Like music, art tends to resurface from time to time. Styles reinvent themselves. Memories tend to manifest themselves differently, especially as perspectives on things change… And when circumstances tend to bring us to who or what is best for us. It’s only been a little while, but I think that being with my better half is among the life events that I’ve enjoyed the most.

It’s February. Time seems to fly when people have fun. 2014 has been teaching me a lot of things, particularly about keeping mindful and maintaining my centre. February is the month that people associate with love. I find this slightly crazy, as love exists in each moment of our lives. Even when we don’t see it or feel it at a given opportunity, love is still there. 

It’s wonderful to celebrate it. That’s all. 

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

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I had been meaning to read this book for a long time. A few weeks before Christmas, I took the plunge and purchased an autographed edition of The Fault In Our Stars. (It isn’t my fault that I have a thing for little scribbles that somehow connect me a little bit more  to the author.) A few pages in, and I was hooked- to the point that the main man in my life made the adorable suggestion of kidnapping the book and hiding it somewhere in his house. 

I’m digressing once again. I guess you see the picture. Girl gets hooked with book and falls in love with not one, but both of the main characters. And the plot! Oh goodness, everything that is real and human was encased in a few pages that made all the emotions come alive.

Imagine my immense joy when the film was announced! Actually, it’s not just joy. I’d call it glee just as gladly. 

This year seems to be the year of book adaptations. I mean… come July, a childhood favourite will be turned into a film too. It’s entitled The Giver, and is one of three books (or so we’ve been told). 

For now… I cannot wait to see THIS. I imagine big, fat tears rolling down my cheeks. And no, I’m not being overly dramatic.