Preparing for Derbyshire Open Arts

I am in the throes of preparing for Derbyshire Open Arts which is happening this bank holiday weekend.  There are 6 new paintings upstairs laid out in my studio, with the varnish drying and I’m about to measure out a 9ft x 6ft space on the floor of my living room so I can plan the layout for how I am going to show my works.

Love of Art

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This year I’ve decided to tell the story of my development as an artist in the work I plan to show.  I’ve been painting consistently for about the last 8 years now.  This began with a holiday workshop in the Isles of Scilly with  modern impressionist painter Imogen Bone.  It rekindled a love for art that had been dormant for about 10 years.  The last time I had a long period of creativity was when I was running a small craft business with my first husband.  After my marriage broke down there had been a long gap whilst I was off training to be a psychotherapist, and once qualified busy building up my practice.  I had reached a point of recognising that whilst I do find my therapy work to be creative I began to feel like I wanted a different experience in my life and that that I wanted to express my creativity in other ways.

Self Development 

After the workshop in the Scillies I started painting again in earnest.  Over the last eight years I have undertaken workshops with a variety of artists, explored new techniques and materials through reading, watched a whole load of YouTube videos and pretty much designed my own programme of self development. My paintings reflect my expanding interests.  I moved from painting in oils, to using acrylics,  and then to mixed media.  Throughout this time there has also been a movement towards firstly loosening up as an artist,  and them becoming increasingly interested in abstraction.

Art2Life

All this culminated in my being introduced to art2life by Alice Sheridan and then signing up for the Creative Visionary Path (CVP) this spring with Nicholas Wilton.  It’s a 12 week online programme with literally hundreds of artists from around the world all taking part. It includes weekly videos, coaching and an online community.  We work through a series of principles and ideas that provide a structure to allow each artist to develop their own unique style and connect with their personal and authentic expression. It’s been a totally amazing experience that is not yet over. I have access to all the online materials for the rest of this year, and I know my development will continue.  I have also made some wonderful new friends and connections through the community aspect of the programme.

Revolution

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Breaking Through: one of my new paintings.

My art has undergone a revolution. I feel like I am beginning to find my authentic voice and I now I have way to express this. There is no doubt that CVP is transformational learning at its best.  I have been challenged in terms of what I thought I knew about painting and what I thought I knew about myself. It’s the latter that has been so significant as I have identified how some of my self-limiting beliefs have been present in my work as an artist.  The recognition of these beliefs in my work has enabled me to move beyond them to new ways of self expression. As a therapist I have already done shed loads of personal  development and I can confidently say that in some ways this course has been as impactful as my original training to be a therapist.

So, the first results of this new direction will be with me this coming Bank Holiday weekend.  I’m exhibiting with 7 other artists and you can find us at the Spring Bank Arts Centre, New Mills. 

I’d love to meet you and show you what I’ve been up recently along with lots of my earlier work charting my journey.

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Free yourself

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Plein Air watercolour and ink.

I’m thinking about new ideas in my work particularly how to join up the skills I have as a psychotherapist of over ten years and as a practising artist. Having been on my own journey of artistic development; from someone who hadn’t picked up a paint brush since “A” level I’m very interested in working with people in freeing up their creativity, whether it’s because they want to paint, play music, act dance or sing or because they want to find a way to improve their creative energy in a more general way and free themselves to be more expressive.

Critical Inner Voice

When I was at school I can remember how difficult art felt sometimes.  My inner voice criticising, feeling unable to express myself feely, being scared about what others might think or say about my efforts. From my own recent personal experience I can definitely say that my confidence in painting and in being willing to experiment now comes from having done so much personal development work as part of my training to work as a psychotherapist. That work has been all about understanding myself better and growing my confidence in my thinking, feeling and ways of being myself. Which has fed through into my painting in a willingness both to experiment and test out new ideas and to put myself out there, for my work to be seen and commented on.

Understanding Self

I’m not by any means suggesting that everyone who is an artist or who wants to express themselves in a more creative  way needs to undergo a course of psychotherapy – however I do think that there is something to be said for understanding how we might be limiting ourselves and then finding ways to liberate ourselves from old patterns of criticism, or insecurity in our expressiveness.

Coaching for Creativity

I work with people in just this way, whether in a small groups or on an individual basis I provide creative coaching support.  My approach is to focus on what each person wants to gain from the time with me.  So, we might explore practical techniques as well as how your thinking and feeling might be influencing your work. In my experience it is the ideas we have about our abilities and what we are doing that feeds into what and how we create.

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Mixed media experiment using collage. 

If you think you might be interested in exploring how I might be able to help then please give a call or drop my an email using the form below. we can have a 20 minute conversation free of charge to explore some of the areas you might like to work and if this might be for you.

 

To sell or not to sell…..

I had a really interesting conversation recently with a couple of people,  both artists, about the impact on an artist of taking a commercial stance to their work.  The question of whether to sell or not, and what happens to artistic integrity if we begin to take a commercial approach to our work.

Artistic Integrity

I have a background in marketing and as well as being a part time artist I am a psychotherapist and this dilemma reminds me of similar one when I first began to market myself as a therapist in private practice.  How to maintain my integrity as a therapist and be effective in selling and marketing what I do.  The basic principles of marketing are about finding out what your customers or clients want and then providing it.  But I think this becomes a difficult proposition  when it comes to something as deeply personal as art, which for me is about a creative expression of my experience of an aspect of the world.

Social Media

As a therapist I resolved this dilemma by deciding what was most important was, that I was true to myself and what I thought about therapy, regardless of any need to “sell” myself.  So, for me, the role of marketing in therapy was to find a way to be as transparent as possible.  I use a website, Twitter, Facebook and I blog, these are the marketing tools  I use to let people know about my approach and who I am, so that they can decide if they wanted to meet me and possibly work with me.

Marketing

So, how does this relate to being an artist? I think it is possible to retain our integrity and be commercial in our approach as well. I think the commercialism is about what we do with the work once we have created it.  What then becomes very important is knowing about our potential  markets – the people who may be interested in what we have to say creatively and making effective use of the various means that are available to communicate what we do to those people who may be interested.

What do you think? I’d be interested in hearing experiences of the impact of how selling your work has impacted on you.