How to know when to STOP PAINTING and take a break!

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Time for Coffee

There’s no doubt that we can absolutely lose ourselves when we are painting. The experience of creating can be so compelling and interesting that we lose track of time completely. And, while its great to be so involved in something I also think that sometimes we need to stop, give ourselves a break to come back refreshed with renewed energy.

Self awareness in Art

My personal experience of painting has definitely been informed by my experience of training to be a psychotherapist.  In that training self-awareness, understanding thinking and feeling, and noticing what’s going on in my physical state has been very significant in my work in helping people.

It has also been really important to me as an artist where what’s going on in me is just as important as the technical understanding of things like colour, value and composition.

Why is this important in knowing when its time to stop?

What I’ve been noticing are certain states of mind that when I pay attention help me to know when to take a break.

Intuition to Mindlessness

I notice a shift from painting spontaneously and intuitively with a positive energy to a kind of mindless, frustrated applying of paint that gets repetitive and unhelpful with an underlying tiredness.

It isn’t a definite bold move or something considered but a kind of “I don’t know where this is going but I’m not able to stop” process. If this starts happening then you need to stop.

Tightening up in Painting

You’ve stopped standing back to look at the work and get focused in on small finicky details.  Using small brushes, messing with the details.  Going over and over.  You need to stop.

You’ve stopped looking at the clock, haven’t eaten or had a drink for a few hours. You’ve simply been at it too long without a break.  You feel tired and your energy is dipping yet you keep going.  You need to stop.

Critical Inner Voice

You start listening to the inner critical voice that is telling you the work is no good.  You need to stop.

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Breaktime

I think all of these are sign that our creativity has gone for a walk and that we need to take a break whether is it for a sit down with a cuppa, a walk in the fresh air or doing something different.  The break gives us time to refresh, come back with renewed energy and having found our creativity again.

Are there any other experiences you have had that tell you it’s time for a break?  Or, what are your strategies to renew your energy?  I’d love to hear from you.

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.

 

Online Shop Goes Live!

Mixed Media Original Cards
Mixed Media Original Cards
Limited Edition Giclee Print. Bluebells and Birches

I’m absolutely delighted that I now have an on-line shop!  I’m using Big Cartel which seems very straightforward both for me as the seller and for all my potential customers. Easy to navigate and secure, I can accept payment by debit and credit cards and by Paypal.

The last week has been spent searching out and testing suitable packaging for sending cards and prints through the post.  Going through some of my smaller works for paintings less than £100 and photographing them for the site.  I think most people want to see the item in person first if it’s over £100.  Maybe I’m wrong let me know if so!

And we are live today with a selection of handmade cards each with a different mixed media painting all mini originals, along with other printed cards of some of my paintings in various sizes.  I’ve some postcards packs and notecards available plus a selection of digital prints.

There’s also a limited edition giclee print of one of my bluebell paintings, Bluebells and Birches. There’s an introductory offer of 20% discount on all purchases over £20, just enter code 8BLR36 at the checkout.

All in time for Christmas!

Happy Shopping!

Watercolours!!

Anyone who has read my blog may have picked up that I’m don’t really paint much using watercolours. I paint in oils and acrylic and I’ve been using pastels recently, but satisfaction with watercolours has so far eluded me.  I was thinking about this recently and it dates back to school.  I was using oils and acrylics when I took my A levels and I only began using watercolours about two or three years ago. Which makes sense as to why I’ve found them a bit challenging.

I am very much drawn to other artists’ work in the medium,  I love the quality of the light that is conveyed and the beautiful lightness of touch and impression of spontaneity. So having recently decided that I wanted to improve my work in this area and spurred on by a couple of book purchases (see Doodling) I’ve been spending all my painting time this week either reading or using watercolours, beginning with some doodling earlier in the week, and finishing up with a couple of small paintings.

The process has been very interesting. I’ve resisted a lot of planning in the past. I’m a “lets get in there and start painting” person.  This does not work with watercolour. I’ve proved it several times. Two or three minutes in, one unthought through, brush stroke later and the paper is in the bin/ drying for scrap and I’m sitting feeling grumpy. So I’ve planned. I’ve done quick sketches, followed by tonal sketches in pencil. Then tonal sketches in watercolour. Then planned out the palette. And taken my time. Planned which colour to use and when.  And had some pretty happy results. A good start and not feeling grumpy.

Doodling

I was in Sheffield this week and found a second hand book shop on Sharrow Vale Road.  I bought three lovely art book bargains, one on drawing for beginners that I thought might have some useful exercises for my upcoming workshops, one on painting outside as, although I sketch outside, I tend to work mainly in my studio, and one on watercolours.

There are some very talented watercolourists out there whose work I love,  spontaneous, unusual and fresh work.   I think because I came late to watercolours it has been, so far, the medium I find the  most challenging.  The work so often ends up muddy, or overworked.   I aim for spontaneity and brightness and am often dissatisfied with the results.

So, when my bargain book, Fresh Watercolours by Ray Campbell Smith suggested doodling as a way to play with the effects of watercolour I decided to experiment.

The learning has been very interesting and I have discovered quite a few things:

I have been adapting (doing as told without evaluating or thinking about my own ideas) to an artist whose workshop I attended quite a while ago who said that round brushes are “the best to use.”  In my other work I mostly use flats, I like the definite marks that result and they are flexible enough to make quite a range of different marks too.  So a change of brush to test this out for while.

Because I work mainly with oils and acrylics I tend to work quite quickly and I think I have a habit of getting lost in the work and not standing back often enough to evaluate what I am doing. This does not work well with watercolour when something I am working on can go from fresh to muddy in a couple of brush strokes.  I need to slow down and pause.

Planning in advance. I do sketch out my ideas before painting and test out colours using thumbnails.  However I have to own that for most of my acrylic and oils I mostly have a broad idea of where I am heading at best and the rest evolves as I am painting.  I think this can be a problem with watercolour as an unplanned colour or brush mark cannot be changed.  So, I need to spend more time planning and working through ideas.  I do find this quite a challenge as often want to get in there and get painting  and it sometimes feels like I might lose the spontaneity by too much planning in advance.  Although maybe that is the challenge – to find a balance between planning and spontaneity.

Finally less is definitely more.  Simpler palettes, simple compositions seem to work most effectively with watercolour.  A doorway rather than a complex street scene, a tree rather than a whole wood etc etc.

To all those dedicated watercolourists out there, what do you think?  What have been your greatest challenges?  I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

Art Workshop Programme 2016

IMG_20150920_125717 (2)I’ve been putting together my new programme of workshops for 2016 and as a result thinking about some of the comments people have made to me at times.   When I talk about painting I so often hear a response that goes  something like – “Oh, I’d love to, but I can’t draw”, or “Someone told me I can’t draw/paint” etc.   Often said with a strong sense of regret.

Unfortunately it seems that there are quite few people have had some kind of negative experience when growing up around artistic or creative expression. Either that, or that art is not the kind of thing that’s worthwhile or that you can earn a living at.  Even without this kind of interaction people do seem create their own inner critic who sits on their shoulder (metaphorically) getting in the way of them being creative.

As a personal development professional and an artist I am interested in helping people step around this and connect with their inner creativity to express themselves in the ways they want and to be satisfied with their work.  So all my workshops pay attention not only to the techniques of working with the medium in question, whether it’s acrylic or oils, but also to the conversation we might be having with ourselves while we are working.  I’m looking to help the person begin to identify if some of their thinking might be getting in their way of their creativity.

And along the way we’ll be having some fun and Play with Paint! Interested?  Call me to find out more 07985 936393 about workshops or coaching.

Watercolour Explorations

I’m not a great fan of watercolour, always found them a bit wishy washy and I’ve never felt that confident using them either, too delicate I suppose. I’ve used them for rough sketching and playing about but nothing much else. However,  I recently discovered a great book, Art Escapes by Dory Kanter an American watercolorist and I’m inspired!  Here’s Dory’s website to have a look at her work. http://www.artworldtours.com/

Artistic Journals

The book is about keeping an artistic journal, and in it there are some lovely ideas and really great exercises to do as part of a process of doing something creative every day.  Which is my latest thing by the way, being creative every day – but more on that in my next post.

Derbyshire Open Arts 

What I’ve found most useful is her ideas on working with triads of colour.  Now,  I tend to work with a limited palette anyway, but her approach was new and I’ve been having great fun.  I’ve started with some little water colour paintings that I’ve made into cards, (they will be on sale at Derbyshire Open Arts this weekend) and I’m feeling like they will lead on to bigger things; maybe some larger watercolours.  I’m also really excited about how I might take this idea of working with triads and use the principle with oils and acrylic, now that could be really interesting.

And here’s a couple of examples. Great fun.

Greetings Card – Seascape
Greetings Card – Trees

Cuba!

The beach at Trinidad with distant mountains.

What an amazing place, of contrasts, drama, inspiration, frustration, people and of course heat and rum.

We had 10 days and travelled from Havana, to Trinidad on the coast and then back across the island to Vinales in the north, a place of absolute stunning natural beauty. I have written before in this blog about how my inspiration for painting comes mainly from the landscape,  in Cuba I found myself wanting to paint buildings and people as well as landscapes. I think it’s impossible to experience the place without having a connection to these things.  The mixture of crumbling, elegant facades with the newly renovated. The old cars.  The people who are warm,  friendly and welcoming. These things are so very much a part of what the island is about, along with the politics.  This was our second visit, we were there about 6 years ago, and things have changed. There is yet more renovation and a different energy, a positive, vibrant buzz about the place.

So will I paint Cuba?  Well so far, I’ve mostly been painting scenes where I feel a deep connection, or a sense of peace and they have been places from here in the UK.   I have felt that peace on my travels, but what I hadn’t quite realised until I went so far afield is the very deep connection to the land in I feel here at home in the UK. So although

Havana.

I had my sketch books with me, and in between walking and sight seeing found some time to sit and do some painting, in some ways they feel like my holiday scrapbook.  Here’s a selection and whether in the end I use this material for a new collection I don’t know.  But Cuba was inspiring, stimulating and incredibly interesting, perhaps not that peaceful but maybe this will take me in a different direction.

The interior of our hotel in Havana. Lovely balcony open to the sky, filled with plants and a great place to sit and sip a cocktail after a long day seeing the sights.

A couple of sketches from the beach near Trinidad. The Old Pier (l) and a hammock slung in the shade of the trees.

Distant mountains and boats on the shore. And a couple of much needed shady umbrellas for sitting under watching the world go by. 

Below, two sketches from Vinales, possibly the best view in Cuba. Stunning.