Johanna Basford's sabbatical diary, week 2: Drawing a forest, buying a boat

Johanna Basford is on a four-month sabbatical from paid work to concentrate on making herself a better artist, illustrator and all-round creative person.

Every week Johanna aims to publish a diary entry, which we'll be running on Digital Arts so you can follow the ups and downs – hopefully mainly ups – as she pushes her creativity and vision into new areas.

If you've missed week one, you can read it here.

Week 2

Fuelled by a potent mix of Berrocca, caffeine and nervous adrenaline, it was time to kick start week two.

This week I’ve continued working on my first supersized illustration. I’m creating a forest of delicately hand penned trees, each between 60 and 100cm tall.

The opportunity to work large is wonderfully self-indulgent. Filling huge sheets of paper with inky intricacies is massively time-consuming and rarely plausible on commercial budgets and lead times. It’s this type of work though; the tiny details, the little areas of curious and the delicacy of working with a 0.05 nib that makes me happy. In an age when speed and mass production is everything, dedicating your day to crafting something so meticulous both enchants and delights.

I do however, on some level, have a need for speed. I’m no arborist, but I’m guessing four trees does not a forest make? I’ll definitely need a few more. And maybe a squirrel or two…

The completed woodland will form the first exhibit at my DCA show.

This week I picked my way through Stanford University’s Entrepreneurial podcasts; an audio Aladdin’s cave brought to my attention by Alex Barton of Student Designer – if you haven’t met him, do. Although not a fan of the term ‘entrepreneur’ – I lump it in the same category as 'social media guru', ie if it’s in your bio, you probably aren’t – I loved the podcasts.

You need to shuffle, some are bit venture vapitalist- and Silicon Valley-centric. One absolute gem is a 2005 talk by a young guy called Mark who’d come up with this thing called The Facebook.

My osmosis-like approach to listen and learn means I don’t always catch the details, but I latch onto the nuggets. Here's a case in point using a great quote I heard:

“Problems are just opportunities for creative thinking. The bigger the problem, the bigger the opportunity”

Awesome, inspired, game changing advice.

But I have no idea who said it.

Auto adventures

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you’ll know I’ve been searching for a white car to form part of an inky installation. It proved tricky and the little automobile of my dreams was not materializing.

I trawled social media, gumtree, eBay, garages and scrapyards. Nothing.

This was problematic. Or was it actually opportunistic?

At 4:23am on Thursday morning, inspiration struck. I emailed myself: “boat not car” and went back to sleep. If I couldn’t source a car, look for something else, something better.

The solution to my problem was the little white fishing boat I found the next day. Now, to call the long-suffering parents and ask if they’ve got room at the farm for a boat…

“It wasn’t me”

I've also learned never to leave the studio pup to roam the house freely…

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