Sunday, 22 January 2017

Anticipation versus instant gratificaiton

Image credit: Luke Chesser via Unsplash.com

I have subscription to Spotify. For around £10 a month I have access to virtually every musical genre known to human ears and millions upon millions of tracks. The algorithms know my tastes and provide me with perfect suggestions when I'm looking for something new. It's pure bliss.

My son, who turns into a teenager next month, has suddenly started taking a deeper interest in music. Like me he has varied tastes with his playlists that see country music stars rubbing up against the kind of tunes a parent yells "turn that racket down" at. 'Head-banging music' as my own parents would have called it.

It was back in the early 80s when I made my first purchases of vinyl 7 inches - having finally persuaded Mum and Dad to buy a record player. I remember taking my pocket money to Boots and coming away with Eurthymics Sweet Dreams clutched in my paws (yes, millennials, Boots used to sell music once upon a time!).

There was something to be said about that anticipation. Saving your pennies - £1.20 was a lot back then - and then finally getting the living room to yourself, wiping the dust off the needle and letting the magic happen. It's something my son just won't get. It's all instant gratification and I suppose there's nothing wrong with that. He can go on a musical journey right from the comfort of his phone these days, taking in a bit of early 20th century jazz alongside today's pop funk. His musical education is right there for the taking.

Maybe it's just nostalgia, but there's still something special about slipping the vinyl from the sleeve and hearing that crackle as the needle begins its journey...

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Free 3 video class


Do you wish you could paint? Or are you looking for a more intuitive way to create?

I’ve spent the last four months working with Whitney Freya to become a certified Creatively Fit Coach so that I can guide others through her Vision Quest programme and run my own workshops and courses.

Whitney is a wonderful teacher –full of creative energy that she commits to sharing with others.

Right now you can sign up for a FREE 3 VIDEO SERIES where Whitney shows you how to paint a dreamcatcher. No painting experience required – in fact you’ll be able to see her coach a complete beginner through the process in the videos. Whitney’s process helps build your confidence and bring out your inner artist while also opening your heart up to all manner of creative possibility!

If you love what you learn here, at the end of video 3 Whitney will invite you to continue the process through the Vision Quest training (with a special discount for those who watch the video) which will include coaching from me!

Follow this link to find out more and get your hands on that free video training – I’m painting my Dreamcatcher right now - it needs to be strong enough to hold Donald Trump as I dreamt he was chasing me the other night (he won’t be in the painting though!).

I’m also going to be running some really fun painting party workshops locally. Northamptonshire friends - watch this space! They will be a great opportunity to gather with friends and spend a day having fun, getting messy and creating beautiful art.

I'm so excited!

Monday, 16 January 2017

Grounded


My Goddess of the Lotus

The final stage of my four month Vision Quest with Whitney Freya brought us down to EARTH which is pretty appropriate as I plan to bring into this post an analogy about some cute fluffy creatures with big ears that like to burrow below the earth and make their homes among tangled tree roots, but more on that later.

Here with feet on terra firma we solidified the lessons learned in building our creative practice and gained clarity on what we wanted to manifest going forward.

Working through Air, Fire and Water had prepared the soil ready to plant the seeds that would be the start of new intentions. As I've been painting layers and meaning I've been building my understanding of what it will mean to take my coaching message out into the world.

I've also been realising how important it is to nurture those tiny new ideas and actions. Just like little green shoots, they are tender things that require constant attention - if I don't give them enough light, feed them or leave them in the dark they will wither and die. Ideas and intentions need room to grow, to put out new shoots that explore and develop.

Our the course of Vision Quest we have been learning to switch on and listen to our intuitive mind. The act of creativity, when we are completely in flow, will quiet the noise of our everyday lives and allow messages to come through. This might sound a bit 'woo woo' until you actually try it. Just as our brains sort through the day's events in the form of our dreams at night, so does our right brain like to figure things out.

Ready for the rabbit analogy now? Strictly speaking the bunny wisdom I want to share with you comes from a creature that didn't always live underground - not until he was 'real' anyway! I am of course referring to the Velveteen Rabbit! Tapping into our right brain through the creative process is like rummaging through our stuffing until we find what makes us real.



The simple act of writing down our thoughts and questions we seek answers to on our canvas and then covering them with layers of paint is like spark to a flame for our right brain. As we play, the brain sifts through its store of knowledge and produces solutions. It asks not "what is it?" but "what can I do with it?". Being intuitive opens us up to taking a much wider view, we look from all perspectives, going beyond the here and now. It never ceases to amaze me at what comes out when I start to paint, collage, create. I'll often look back and wonder if someone else made what is before me.

Then, moving off of the canvas and back into 'real' life we begin to learn the lessons from our creative practice. So many times when I make art I'll stare at a terrible first layer and want to quit. But I've learned to keep going, reinventing, trying something new, innovating.  It was just a step on the journey, a test to see if you could fight off any resistance you were struggling with.

And so now, as I develop my coaching practice I'm taking these lessons to heart. I fail fast, try another layer and bring in different tools and methodologies to see what will happen next. It's already making me a better coach.

And if you don't believe me, how about this guy?

"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We  have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift."
Albert Einstein

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Going with the flow


“If you are interested in something, you will focus on it, and if you focus attention on anything, it is likely that you will become interested in it. Many of the things we find interesting are not so by nature, but because we took the trouble of paying attention to them.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Finding Flow: The Psychology Of Engagement With Everyday Life

Have you ever felt the flow? Perhaps it was while watching a movie, playing a console game or ... CREATING! That's when I get it - those times when hours fly past because you are so immersed in the enjoyment of your process. When I'm in flow my intuition seems to take over. It's my right brain kicking in and adding its flavours to my creative juice.

Letting my paint and life flow in the direction it needs to go

Can you remember what it was like when you were a young child and presented with a blank sheet of paper and some poster paints. Did you sit there and moan to the teacher that you couldn't draw or that you didn't know what to paint? Or did you slather colour across the page, sticking your tongue slightly out of your mouth in concentration, and just make something?

Flow is naturally represented by Water and was the element explored by Whitney Freya and my band of vision questers last month. We dove deep into our soul and cleansed ourselves of notions that we weren't good enough or that everything had to perfect.

Imagine your life at present immersed in water right now. Are you all at sea with the waves of life taking control and casting you against the rocks. Is the sand clogging your senses? Do you need a sense of direction?

Or are you at one with your intuition, flowing down the river? When an obstacle appears on the horizon you don't fear it, you just flow right around or maybe grab the things from the water that will serve you and let go of what doesn't.

I've been painting with my intuition, just letting what wants to come make its way onto the canvas. Mostly the same canvas, I've fought the impulse to hang onto something just because it looked good at that moment and instead practiced detachment.


Evolution of a Picasso-inspired painting - later it became a red bird!

The lessons I've learned have applied in my work life too. I was holding onto a role that had been a comfort blanket but hadn't realised how much it had gone from soft and welcoming cashmere to a scratchy horse hair that was bringing me out in a nasty rash! So, I bravely let go of that which no longer served and followed my bliss. Right now for me this is stepping away from my regular income and throwing myself in the deep end as I launch my Creativity Coaching business. Scary stuff but there are no rocks so far! The water is warm and I'm bobbing along just nicely!

And as I flow into this new coaching career I seem to have Liz Gilbert on autoplay in my ear reminding me about how important it is to act on your ideas before they carry on downstream to find someone else to grow them to fruition. So, while in flow I've already launched both a new Facebook Group and a collaborative art project to further help bring my tribe together.

Art is Life. Life is Art.


Friday, 18 November 2016

Phoenix rising

Rising from the canvas - layers of paint underneath this Phoenix

This month on Whitney Freya's Vision Quest programme (where I'm training to become a Creatively Fit Coach) we are working with FIRE! Fire brings forth change and most of us are hard-wired to resist that right! But to create we must burn away resistance and stick our hands in that metaphorical fire. We might not find it as uncomfortable as we first think!

As we grow older and/or step away from a regular creative practice it's easy to carry around thoughts and behaviours that don't serve us. How many times have you said or heard a friend say "I don't have a creative bone in my body" or "I can't paint". Well, I'm here to tell you that as long as you can pick up a paintbrush and drag its laden bristles across a surface... then... YOU CAN! Vision Quest takes us through this process

The single most important change you can make each day is the movement from not creating to creating and once you take that first step it's a delightful ride to creating with wild abandon!

As we grow as artists there's more often than not a desire to make meaning from our creative pursuits, but sometimes just the very act of making the art is meaning enough in itself. The act of laying down colour and watching it mix and settle on the canvas is juicy, exhilarating and even a little bit sexy!

The beauty of many painting and mixed media materials is their ability to layer - to cover up. Not mistakes, never mistakes because we don't make those when we create! Oh no... we just make decisions that we move on from. We find interesting discoveries and openings. We just have to trust in the process.

Pretty soon what we thought was just blobs of colour starts to talk to us, to whisper itself into creation. Just like the Phoenix rising from the flames and all the other metaphors and stories that give us lessons in transformation and alchemy. Fire destroys but also purifies and opens up land to new growth.

Can we burn away your creative tangles and frustrations and open you up to rebirthing your creativity?

Sari - my Phoenix companion


Sunday, 9 October 2016

Art in unexpected places



8.15 on a Friday morning, the tide of humanity sweeps through Moorgate Underground station, head down, bags gripped in sweaty palms. Clear objectives - get out of the station as quickly as possible, avoid the tourists, slow coaches and people dragging tripping devices on wheels. Except for one...

Spot the artist, phone in hand waiting for the seething mass to pass so she can take a photo of the torn and tatty posters glued to the tiles. There's art and story in those layers. Look deeper, journey inside, be pulled in.

I haven't done anything to these photos except to crop them. Each I believe is a work of art on its own worth hanging in the Tate Modern. I wonder how many others saw the lady in the blue dress dancing and leaping across the layers; the man about to burst out with joy and the unrequited lover watching her beau walk away again...







Monday, 3 October 2016

Following my nose

My drawing of Little Bunny from the original illustration by J P Miller

When I was a little girl one of my favourite books was Little Bunny follows his nose, a story about a rabbit that sets off on an adventure with nowhere particular in mind. He just ... follows his nose, in other words his intuition!

There was something about this idea of nose following that I always loved - a clear clue to the free spirit in my nature, the yearning to always know what's around the next corner from the country path and city street to the results from the choices we make.

My intuition and I are friends and, although she doesn't say much, she's always there to nudge me in what she believes to be the right direction. I don't always listen though (bad Lisa!) and usually regret it if I shut out her opinion. My intuition lives in the right side of my brain alongside the power of the subconscious where she looks at pattern, shape, thoughts and puts the seemingly disparate together to make new meaning. She's a clever thing.

Recently I let her give me a huge push. I'd reached a point in my career where I wanted to inject something new into the mix. I've been thinking a great deal recently about sharing the wealth of knowledge and experience I've gained over the years. I've a yearning to make a difference in people's lives - particularly other artists and creatives. I love to talk about creativity, right brain magic and art making. Moving into coaching seemed to offer everything I was after and then, wouldn't you believe it, the Universe only went and delivered me an email from Whitney Freya offering the opportunity to train with her and become a Creatively Fit Coach.

We started our first month in September focusing on the under-utilised power of the right brain - a topic so close to my heart. I was blown away the first time I read Dan Pink's A whole new mind - why right-brainers will rule the future and love to let my right side loose outide the box - to rip it open, tear it up and make something new! Of course, there's a balancing act - we need the left side too, but as the world became more automated our right brains just haven't been given enough to do. For many, they are packed away in bubble wrap and placed in storage. It's time to get them out for a play!

Whitney's tool bag of exercises are designed to exercise and limber up the cramped right side - it was time to understand exactly how we will stretch the creative muscles of our clients' creativity and energise them into artistic action.

This month I've been losing myself in Mandala-making, spending time switching off and being 'me' and just playing with pens on paper.

By far the most interesting exercise I found to be the Soul Scribble. This is a method of tuning out of your left and into your right hemisphere. It's really easy, why don't you have a go now.

Grab a sheet of paper and a pen. Take a deep breath and try to switch off the 'noise' of daily life - you know, the thinking about chores you need to do, the urge to check your phone, wondering what the dog is up to... Try and empty your mind and ask it what it needs you to know.

Now just close your eyes and scribble on the page. About three seconds should be enough. Now, look down. What do you see? A tangled mess of lines? Look again. Turn the page 90 degrees, squint and turn it again. Write down five words inspired by the drawing then just keep writing and see what comes out.

I saw a whale on a stormy sea - was that me? Riding the waves, singing my own song?

Another day I drew my scribble, looked down at the marks on the page and saw a pair of lungs. Not really surprising as I'd had a chest infection all week and was still coughing so hard it felt like I was turning myself inside out. I grabbed at this symbolism and started writing about how my lungs feel clogged. Then the magic happened. I moved beyond the sickness and took my power back. I wrote down the word BREATHE. I realised that the story wasn't about my lungs at all. It was a message to slow down. Maybe that's what the chest infection has forced me to do... I have already started this process but it's given me more clarity. I have put many of my projects on hold so I can focus on becoming a Creatively Fit Coach. I'm putting away the things that aren't serving me at present. Not all of them are bad, far from it. There just isn't space for them in my life right now. That's OK. They can wait.

I saw a face with crazy hair that looked like two women. Was this perhaps the strongest message of all? That my exploration of both sides of my brain is exactly what I should be doing, that I'm learning. The figure on the right side looked like she was climbing out of my head - emerging, ready to move into her own power.

The Soul Scribble is taking us into our right brain, it's speaking in symbology rather than words and forcing us to think differently - it's taking us to answers to unspoken questions. It's incredibly exciting and I can't wait to share this and all the other things I am learning with my clients.

Magic is happening my friends. Stay tuned... there's so much more to come - I feel it in my soul scribbles!


Friday, 20 November 2015

Going potty for pots


When I first heard mention of a BBC TV show about that was hoping to do for clay what The Great British Bake Off has done for the Victoria sandwich, I admit I was skeptical.

A programme where we watch contestants make pots didn't sound like it could hold my attention for 20 minutes let alone a whole series of hour long episodes - after all we've all seen someone make a pot on TV if not in the flesh before (Patrick Swayze of course manages both!). However, strange as it may seem I find myself hooked.

What tension as pots crack in the biscuit firing, plugs don't quite fit in coiled sinks and as the contestants race to determine who can make the most egg cups in 10 minutes. Then of course there's all the sensual stroking of the clay and who could forget the tears of the big man judge as he marvels at the creativity.

Throw in a few great characters - we've got Major Tom with a stiff upper clay lip and a gentle touch, the hunky vet and Jim the rock-a-billy up against farmer's daughter Sarah, Sally-Jo the designer and grandmother Sandra who doesn't look a day over 30!

By far the best bit though is waiting to see the results of the glazing when the pastel shades that entered the kiln are revealed in all their shining bright glory.

Can't wait for the next episode! Check out the first three here.

PS: Dear Father Christmas, Please can I have a potters' wheel...

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Day 2 in the Big Blogger house: Chaos Theory



Well, second day in and I'm already wondering what to write about... Hmmm.... shall I wait for inspiration?

Hang on, what's that scratching my wrist? A piece of crumpled paper edging out from the pile of mountain of what only be described as 'stuff' cluttering up my desk. I look and sigh. It seems that no matter my good intentions, I simply cannot keep a tidy workspace.

Right now I can see a Batman cat costume (best not to ask), several notebooks, letters and parcels (parcels opened but brown envelopes studiously ignored), an empty cloth bag, a cuddly toy (this is starting to sound like the Generation Game...), a scarf, heat cushion, pens, a book on animal medicine cards, an orange USB and numerous scribbled notes - and that's just the top layer. Goodness knows what lies beneath, a veritable treasure trove of intriguing surprises no doubt!

Maybe that's why I let it get into this state or am I just a lazy, messy slob who will one day be swallowed whole by her junk mountains.

It's no good. I have to do something about it! Tomorrow I will try and write something a little more intellectual but no promises. I've been working hard all day and frankly the creativity is runnething a little dryeth!

I leave you with a little quote to ponder by mathematician Edward Lorenz who knows a fair amount about chaos theory:

Chaos: When the present determines the future, 
but the approximate present does not approximately determine the future.

In other words... the present is a pile of things that shouldn't be in a dangerous pile on a desk but stored in an organised fashion. By approximating such storage by use of a pile and not a filing system I am setting myself up for a chaotic future!

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

A bit of a Barney

Image courtesy of Pixabay

There is something of a gale blowing outside with strange thumps and rattles that sound like harbingers of Halloween on the rampage but are probably just the contents of my recycling bin rolling down the hill.

I'm not allowing myself to be frightened though because I know this storm is called Barney and frankly anything named after a cuddly purple dinosaur surely can't be that scary - because everyone knows that Barney isn't a real dinosaur!

I wasn't too sure where the idea to suddenly start naming UK weather systems came from so I turned to my trusty adviser Google for answers and it turns out make good sense. Giving a storm a name makes it easier to talk about - rather than just another big wind. Apparently we are to expect Clodagh next followed by Desmond and so on as we alternate male and female throughout the alphabet - but sadly skipping Gail the gale. The one I'm really looking forward to though is Wendy Windblows...

***

In an effort to kick start my blogging again, I am joining with this 30 day challenge to see if I can keep on blogging for 30 days. Well, here's Day 1!


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