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!

Friday, 18 September 2015

Autumnal accessories

Every Autumn or Fall as some of you prefer to call it (presumably because you slip over on the icy pavements a lot...), there's an ever present accessory we are often seen sporting. Yes, you probably guessed from the photo above - it's a spider web - with or without accompanying arachnid.

Spiders just love to dress us up during these chillier months. They thoughtfully spin their webs directly where we will walk through them - preferably at face height right outside our front doors or across footpaths. This way it's easy for them to wrap our features in a fine gauze with their egg legged selves perching thoughtfully somewhere in our hair.

There's a ritual I've also observed as we get dressed up in this delicate gossamer. It requires much arm flapping, face swiping and head itching - plus often a whole body shiver. Rarely does putting on clothing and dance go so entirely hand in hand!

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Want to take photos like this?

I took this photo on my phone.

Do you take photos on your phone and wonder why they don’t always look as good as you’d hoped? Have you seen some incredible photography and wondered if you could do that? YOU CAN!

I’m running a photography workshop on Saturday August 22nd in Northampton Town Centre where you can learn what goes into making a great photograph and how phone apps can make all the difference transforming the OK into the incredible!

I have captured some of my best photographs on my camera phone. It’s always with me. While others are playing Candy Crush or checking Facebook, I’m snapping. There’s not always time to set up the perfect shot, placing everything you need in the perfect frame position, but hey there’s no need to worry … there’s an app for that!

There are so many apps available – many of them free of charge – that are able to produce the same effects as using as fancy DSLR camera. You can capture a shallow depth of field*, adjust the lighting, add filters and even change the sky in the background!

Once you get used to realising you have the perfect tool to capture magical moments with you all the time you’ll wonder why you never used it this way before. It’s not just about snapping your child with ice cream dribbling down their chin – it’s also very much about seeing differently, capturing emotion and memory. It’s so you can remember not just the scene but how it made you feel.
Your camera phone is incredibly easy to use, unobtrusive and best of all the sky is the limit when it comes to the effects you can achieve using the hundreds of apps available.

This workshop will empower you with the techniques and tricks you need to take stunning, memorable photographs using just your phone. It’s easy when you know how – and I can teach you!

* and yes – I’ll explain what this means too!

We'll meet at 11am in the Education Room at NN (the contemporary art building on Guildhall Road).

Our first session will cover what makes a great photograph - how to better frame your shot before you click; how to see things differently; learning what the rules are and how to break them!

Then, we'll go out on a shoot around town.

Over lunch in the NN Cafe we'll review our work then return to the work space to learn how using different apps can transform your shot.

I'll show you how to take shots like this:

and turn them into this:

All this for just £20 per person (excluding lunch).

If you would like to sign up, drop me a line at

With just 12 spaces available this is sure to fill to up fast so confirm your booking now!

(You don't need an iPhone - the apps I will use are suitable for android too).

Some more before n afters:

Friday, 26 June 2015

Cinderella the coy

Cinders is looking a little coy. Little minx knows she's impressed Mr Charming but thought she might pretend for a while that she hadn't noticed him yet - keep him keen you know. Plus she's still figuring out how to dance in shoes made of glass so for now she's content to just swish her skirts about a bit.

She'd better not leave it too long though - I'm at the ball too and have my eye on that Prince for myself. He's pretty easy on the eye it has to be said, got a touch of the Ross Poldark's about him...

Cinderella is for Summer of Colour - this week we're using a palette of two shades of purple and a yellow. I'm wearing lime green. I think the Prince prefers it, for now it seems he has forgotten the girl with the blonde hair, lilac dress and uncomfortable footwear and is heading in my direction!

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Pretty dancing Columbine

It's funny how the names for these girls just pop into my head. It's almost like they whisper them to me.

The title for this post is a line from a poem I can still remember learning when I was a little girl. By Cicely Mary Barker it tells the story of the flower fairy who loved to dance in her pretty little dress.
I learnt so many of those poems off by heart!

Well, anyway, here is my entry for the second week of Summer of Colour - pinks and orange. This particular Columbine has arrived at the ball with bouquet of flowers for her beau. He will probably bring her beer - they are a thoroughly modern couple!

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

I'm playing!

I have been going through a crisis of confidence lately. I lost my flow. Words, paint, even emotions - everything was blocked. A niggling voice buried in the depths of me kept trying to convince me to just start something, to get my fingers working, but I refused to listen. Instead, I've been burying my head in books, sleeping too much and time-wasting on Facebook (you know the kind of thing... quizzes to see what bird you were in a previous life or your hippy name...).

Something shifted in the last week or so though and I braved a few blog posts, then I picked up a paintbrush. I'd been reading a book on watercolour techniques (this one) and I was ready to play.

I started painting a series of girls which, if you clicked on the link to see the book, might surprise you since it was about how to paint landscapes! Each one requires a great deal of drying time in between layers so I have ended up with around half a dozen of them on the go. Then, on Instagram I spotted a post from Kristin announcing the start of the 2015 Summer of Colour and I knew I had to be in! So, I grabbed a couple of blues and a green and painted this one. She's my favourite so far!

I've named her Flo - because she helped me find my own flow again. Thanks Flo and thanks Kristin!
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