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!

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