I often get asked when and how I started to draw on shoes. The timeline around that era is fuzzy in my memory because it was a time of extreme stress, as you are soon to find out.
I’ve been an artist since mid 2015, after a 25 or so year break. I got D in design at school and was steered towards more academic subject matter, though I used to spend hours and hours drawing as a teenager. Before I was a mother, I worked as a lecturer in IT. My qualifications are post-grad Computing. I had drawn on my sons shoes before, he likes batman and superhero stuff, so it was a nice way to brighten up a pair of shoes for him and make them unique. I used to use sharpies but they have a tendency to bleed a little into the fabric, so it’s hard to get a good thin line.
Some time around 2015, I had some faded old Toms that still had loads of wear left in them but had got muddy and tired. I dyed them black and painted a little dandelion on them with some fabric paint (I think it was) and stuck a little twinkly bit on them. Way cheaper than a new pair! I continued to upcycle my own things to save money.
Back at that time in my life I began to be aware that I was being stalked. Things had been happening that I couldn’t understand but what I did not know was that my son’s father was stalking me. We were going through the family court system at the time and when the court was presented with the evidence that he was stalking me, they gave him the go-ahead to continue, saying that because of the ongoing proceedings, it was “research”. The police thought differently though and after several breaches of a restraining order he went to prison, for a very short spell.
In 2015 I was working as a blogger and sometime web designer but because of the stalking I closed down that business and would have been out of work had I not painted a few pairs of shoes as a thank you gift to some amazing people who helped me get through the family court and stalking traumas and get myself and my son to safety. The amazing Dawn from thinkitchangeit.com (p.s. she also cured me of my bird phobia) had some friends who had seen my work and they wanted pairs too. She encouraged me to set up an Etsy shop and the rest of the year became busy , particularly around the Christmas period.
While I am painting I am totally involved in what I am doing, so it helped me through this period of extreme stress. The main way that I am being stalked is online (yes, it’s still happening) and it was so nice to be able to do something a little offline, and something meditative. It’s lovely because I can do it while I spend time with my son, and he gets to see how life works. My techniques and skills have refined with practice and my supplies have expanded. I work from a tightly organised 3.5*4.5ft area of my living room.