• Ellen Hopkin

Sharing the Joy of God's love one letter at a time.

Welcome to the Creative Life, Happier Life Blog, thank you for agreeing to this interview! Tell us about yourself...

Hello, I’m Helen, I’m a watercolour and digital artist and calligrapher. I live in Hampshire with my husband and son, and our super loopy cockapoo Audrey.

Before having my son I was a Senior Performance Analyst in Business Intelligence which seems a world away now! Although making the reports pretty was one of my favourite parts...

Here at CLHL we believe that creativity comes in all forms, from accounting to crochet! How does your creativity manifest itself?

I think I can say what I do these days started when I discovered bullet journalling a few years ago, which appealed to the organised part of my brain. I bought a set of brush pens so I could make my headers pretty, which appealed to the creative part of my brain. Then moved onto actual brushes and watercolour paint for brush lettering, then dip pen calligraphy (which may be my favourite). I started learning watercolour illustration initially just to add a bit of decoration to

the lettering but enjoyed it so much I’m now happy to just sit and paint sans lettering.

It was absolutely just a hobby, though I had a few people ask me to write things “fancily” for them. Often a verse or worship lyrics. Or make a card for a particularly special occasion. So I started pursuing it as a business.

How do you think using your creativity enhances your well-being?

At the same time as learning the different styles of lettering, I was working my way through Postnatal Depression.

After having my son I really struggled with my identity. I had left my gloriously nerdy career to be a stay at home parent and hadn’t realised how much I relied on that title to feel like I was valuable, and then didn’t know what my purpose was as “Helen” outside of being “Mummy”.

Sitting down to get creative with the Word - whether that’s working on a commission from a client or just for me - is an opportunity I’m grateful for to quietly process. To reflect on my true identity as a daughter of the king.

How do you think using your craft helps you to connect with God?

Hand lettering is not a speedy activity. It’s a slow and thoughtful process that’s closer to drawing letters than it is to writing them. I don’t have huge amounts of toddler-free time, so, though I’m sure they’ll come back one day, my days of taking half a day at the weekend to throw myself into a bible study or to actually go to a church study group are scarce.

The quotes/verses/lyrics that clients request are always such a blessing to me, and often come at a time when I maybe didn’t know I needed to hear it! His timing is perfect.

Do you think God works through your skill? How?

Going back to people asking me to write things “fancily” or make special occasion cards; All these things were nudging me into thinking how I could really use this skill.

I wanted to create beautiful things that encouraged people, that helped them find joy in everything, and that pointed them to Jesus. I think initially I worried that people wouldn’t be able to connect to the things I shared from my heart, or maybe I feared judgement for doing it “wrong”.

I made a few things in a style that I felt like people would expect from a Christian artist, but it felt so inauthentic which defeated the purpose. I didn’t want to share pithy quotes just for the sake of filling an Instagram feed or making money. I consciously take regular time to focus on remembering why I do what I do because I don’t want it to become routine.

The dictionary definition of “joy” is “gladness not based on circumstance”. We are blessed to get our “circumstance less” joy from the Lord. That’s the joy I want to share with people.

Do you have any tips or golden nuggets of wisdom for any of our readers who may like to try accessing your creative skill?

Ok, this is an important one for any new skill I think - don’t compare yourself to anyone else! Everyone starts at the beginning and the journey forth is your own. Enjoy it. The only comparison I’d suggest is keeping your early work, then in a few weeks/months/a year you can compare your latest work and see how far you've come!

I mentioned this earlier but try to think of it more like drawing letters than writing them. Consider the shape of each pen/brush stroke individually. An under turn and a down stroke = u, for example.

There are loads of online tutorials and books around teaching different styles of hand lettering and modern calligraphy and it’s a great way to practice the strokes, but it’s ok at some point to say “This is my style” and to own that. There’s only one you, and that’s wonderful!

Where can we find you using your creativity?

FB & IG @JoyJotterUK

www.joyjotter.co.uk currently points to my Etsy shop but it will soon point to my own website.

QUICK FIRE ROUND! The stuff we all really want to know!

Pen or computer?

Home or abroad? Home.

Who would play you in a movie?

Somebody once told me I reminded them of Michelle Ryan who played Eastenders’ Kat Slater’s daughter Zoe of “You ain’t my muvva!” fame. I’d rather someone like Kate Winslet please! Skill you’d like to learn?

Old style calligraphy like Spencerian Script or Old English Round Hand

Favourite bible verse?

It can vary depending on life season but I think overall, 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new”.

Chocolate or cheese? Cheese!

Thank you Helen! So there you go, with so many wonderful suggestions, how will you begin to explore creativity?

If you try out any of our contributors skills, pop it on Instagram (@creativelifehappierlifeblog) and give it the hashtag #CLHLblog

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