I just wanted to share some of the amazing work that the painters on my Bold, Intuitive Painting classes have created so far. And we’re only just over half way!
As a creative facilitator, watching people find their unique style is the most joyful, satisfying thing to see. I have no interest in creating a group of “mini-me” painters, because, for me, the whole point of creating is to find a meaningful, authentic, and true way of expressing yourself. It’s also just so much more fun to create from a place of personal intuitive freedom!
That said, I’m so excited to share some of the unique paintings and sketches created by my workshop participants over the past four weeks.
My daughter had a lot of emotions tonight. She took two hours to settle and then finally fell asleep exhausted in her cot, after her little body had thrown itself about in my arms unsure of what to do. I felt so helpless, all the time telling her she was safe and loved, talking to her about how she felt, but all the time feeling so drained, so beaten up, so annoyed, so angry with myself. Is this what other parents feel? Are these emotions ever easier to handle?
I had planned to write out my workshop planning this evening. It’s massively overdue – I am hoping to run some art workshops next month. I needed to get the course outline written up and the marketing sorted. Instead I’ve been holding, patting, singing to and crying with a thrashing toddler. And my anxiety is on the rise, again.
I haven’t really spoken about my anxiety in public, but it is something I’d like to share more about because I do believe that the more mental health is discussed openly, the better chance we have of understanding it and working towards its improvement.
My anxiety started in my early twenties, when I was away at University in London. Thats a another story for another day, but it really changed me and my life – and it’s something I’m still trying to work through. Shortly before and during my pregnancy it was pretty non-existent, and I was lulled into the falsely secure feeling that I might at last be recovered. Then I had my daughter and it hit with full force. I suffered post-natal anxiety, and no one knew. Maybe I’ll share that too one day, but for now I’m just coming to terms with the reality that anxiety is still very real for me. Working as a painter and being a Mum I have found some new ways to help myself through this. Painting, in fact, can really lift me out of any deep worry. So can playing with my daughter, or just being with her! Knowing that I am strong enough to be there for her even when I feel at my weakest, gives me great peace.
Tonight, though, as she struggled with her own big emotions, I felt despairing and sad inside. The familiar feeling of a rising anxiety attack made me question my abilities as a Mum. I was not brave, not calm, not confident. I felt powerless, selfish and lost. Looking back now I can see that I was there for my little J. She knew I was there and she fell asleep calmly with me by her side. But all the while I was battling my own panic, my own sense of fear, and anxiety left me feeling unsure how to process what has happened.
I don’t know how other Mums feel when their little ones struggle like this. Maybe they would say the same, maybe not. But lately – and its probably no coincidence that this has coincided with a lack of sleep – I have noticed my anxiety creeping up and I can tell you it’s a real pain! Anxiety can manifest in so many different ways, for me mostly it’s heart palpitations, nausea, rapid heart rate, breathlessness, claustrophobia, pins and needles, numbness in my arms and a jittery feeling. It’s incredibly physical whilst at the same time terrifyingly mental. I also suffer with something called SVT which is basically an extremely rapid heart rate. This can happen randomly at any time, though in the past its always been very infrequent. This year though I’ve already had two episodes (previously I had one or two a year) and they both happened when my daughter woke crying loudly at night. My guess is they were triggered by anxiety.
I don’t want to ramble on too much about this right now. I just want to say – this Mum thing? It’s hard! I am finding it hard sometimes. If you are too, you’re not alone.
Anxiety is like a wave, you have to ride it out. It teaches you to hold on because some time soon it will pass over and you will still be standing there. It teaches you that feelings are like waves. That emotions, however overwhelming, big and powerful, don’t last forever. I clung onto my little girl and she clung onto me and we were both still standing at the end, holding each other. I hope that I can teach her how to navigate these storms and know that she is never alone.
As for the art workshops, well, they will just have to be ever so slightly later. Hopefully they’ll be even better for it.
Ok, so let me tell you about the challenge I have set myself. It’s a bit mad, and I’m sure many of you will be thinking – how are you going to do this, you don’t have time to do this? If you know me – you know I’m already super busy – but here’s the thing: I HAVE to do this.
I’ve had this idea floating around in my head for a while and I finally want to give it a go. What better time to share my colourful paintings with the world, one painting at a time, than during the cold, bleak months of the English winter?
So what’s the challenge?
I am going to paint 100 paintings in 100 days. Yep. That’s right. ONE HUNDRED PAINTINGS!
Why, Helen, Why?
Because I want my paintings to be the best, highest quality they can be. I want them to be amazing. For me, but also for you! And to get better I need to paint, paint, paint! So I’m starting this challenge to push myself, to push my work forward and to create amazing artwork for you!
When does this challenge start?
Tonight! That’s right! It starts on Friday 1st February. Put it in your calendar – I’ll be launching LIVE on Facebook at 7pm tonight. My first painting, number 1 of 100, will be on Instagram at 9pm. So follow me!
How does it work?
Every evening at 9pm I will publish my painting of the day on Instagram. All my paintings will be for sale via my shop, you can also message me to order them. You can find all my paintings for this challenge on Instagram using the hashtag #100daystopaint
I’ve never done a challenge like this before, I’m excited to see where my painting will go and also how my style will evolve. I’m also nervous about committing to such a long challenge! I’ll try and vlog along the way so keep an eye on my Facebook page for this videos.
QUICK RECAP IF YOU SKIPPED TO THE END! (I do that a lot…)
Sam was walking through the woods one day when the long, blue legs that stretched out across the ground in front of her, moving with every step, suddenly grew even longer. She allowed her eyes to follow them…and watched as the legs stretched into poles that reached up into the sky. At the top of the long, leg-poles perched a wooden house. Squinting through the sun she edged towards it, breathing thinly through cold, stretched lips….
I really want to paint a wooden house in the trees! Saw this on our holiday at Centre Parcs and it fired up my imagination. Today, while my daughter napped, I quickly sketched some trees/leaves and played with watercolour on canvas – which created a weird, pool-like surface allowing a dreamy feeling to emerge. Lots to be done on this but a fun start – no house yet but that’s next! Just wanted to share it with you!
I’m doing videos people! I’m SO excited to announce/share/be brave enough to introduce you to my first ever vlog. In this video you can watch a time-lapse of a painting as I create it from start to finish. I love painting trees, forests and pathways through wooded landscapes. They evoke so much for me – of journeys, places I’d like to wander and places I’ve been. For this painting I was really excited to try something new.I imagined my landscape and let it unfold as I painted. This was scary but exciting! Filming pushed me to make slightly quicker decisions which I found both good and bad, but overall I really enjoyed the process and it’s given me motivation to paint from my imagination again.
This painting is now for sale on my Etsy shop! Click here to buy! I’ll be putting the prices of all my artwork up at the start of February, so if you’d like it/to grab a bargain head over there now!Sign up to my newsletter and you can get 10% off this painting and all my artwork!Just subscribe at the bottom of my website page/via my Facebook page.
I hope you enjoy this video. I’d love to hear your thoughts so please comment/subscribe to keep up to date. Thanks for watching – here’s to being brave and trying out new creative ventures! I’d love to know what new creative ventures you’re doing this year…?
2019 is officially here and so many of us are trying to set new goals so that we can be the best version of ourselves – the one that all the other years didn’t quite make happen.
Well, I don’t believe in new years resolutions because, to be honest, it just feels like I’m setting myself up to fail. But I DO believe in recovery, goals and change. And I believe these three things can REALLY make a DIFFERENCE to YOUR LIFE. These are the three things that I am going to be implementing in order to do what I want to do for a living (making art, selling art and sharing my insight with YOU) and, essentially, make my dreams come true. Exciting, right?
So I’m going to tell you what you can do to make your dreams come true.
This is how I have started to make a living doing what I LOVE.
Grab a cuppa and read on – you’re going to want to take a few minutes to soak this up.
Ok so the first thing you need to do in order to do what you truly love, whether that’s selling knitted tights and bobble hats or fishing for trout in southern France, is recover. Now I know what you’re thinking – I don’t need to recover, Helen. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m absolutely champion, thank you very much. To which I say:
No. You’re not. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but EVERYONE needs to go through a process of recovery before they start changing the way they live. And that’s what we’re talking about here: changing your life so you can do what you love and cut all the other junk out.
So what is recovery? It’s a process of healing, transformation, repair – whatever you call it it’s something that takes time but without which you will simply be dragging all your unwanted thoughts, negative vibes and unfocused energy along with you into your new venture. AND YOU REALLY DON’T WANT TO DO THAT. Trust me.
Recovery looks different for everyone. For me, it’s been a process of acceptance – accepting where I was in my life, that I was struggling, that I couldn’t be there for my family because I was run down, emotionally empty, suffering from post traumatic stress/post natal anxiety (more on this later) and generally unwell. I needed a plan – a recovery plan. And you do too, but yours will look different to mine. Yours might be a plan to recover from burnout, from anxiety, from simply not believing in yourself or your goals, from not believing you have the ability to do what you love. Maybe it’s simply recovery from the day to day slog of life. However big or small it seems, taking time out to recover is critical for prepping your body and mind and getting into a sort of ‘neutral’ gear that allows you to be open to the change that’s about to come your way.
Some great recovery methods are: journaling, talking therapy, yoga/activity/meditation, a course like the Artist’s Way or finding a personal life coach to help you realise your dreams.
You probably have heard this a million times but it’s a really big deal. If you want to do what you love, you need a goal. I’ll definitely write another blog post on this to break it down, but essentially you want to have short, mid and long term goals.
Short term goals
So if you want to make a living as a freelance artist selling prints of night time city scapes (Amazing idea. Thank you. You’re welcome) in the spare time you have between doing the school runs and entertaining the toddler (Go for it, you can do this – you SO CAN) you want to have a short term goal that reflects what you want to achieve in the next month – no more time than this. And it doesn’t need to be big. In fact is needs to not be big, it needs to be SMALL.
So maybe creating three or four prints that really represent who you are. Make this goal really achievable, that way when you have accomplished it you can really feel empowered and ready to step it up. Plus if you’re a Mum like me, you need to set realistic targets that allow you to balance your goals with looking after your little ones.
Mid term goals
Mid term goals are great for setting marketing strategies and targets. Things like updating your pretty defunct website which still has that picture of you in a boiler suit riding a ferris wheel you thought was so cool back in uni. Figuring out how many people you want to get to like your Facebook page, how many subscribers you want on your mailing list and how many products you can realistically make over the next six months.
Long term goals
Long term goals can be anywhere from 1-5 years depending on how fast your business changes and moves. Maybe you have a goal of how much income you want to be making in 1 year. Maybe you have a goal of how many paintings you want to have for sale. Maybe you can see what your business will look like in 5 years time. Make it ambitious but not outrageous. Visualise yourself achieving this goal and write it in your journal and on your calendar as if it’s happening – the same way your birthday is happening (however many people you don’t tell and however many numbers you knock off your age, it’s still your birthday on THAT day).
Now you’ve set your goals you need to make some changes. I could write a whole blog post on this (maybe I will!) but I’ll break it down a little for you.
If you’ve been through the recovery process and identified what areas you want to change then great! This step is basically a follow on from that. You’re pretty much going through recovery to set your goals and identify what you want to change in order to achieve them – and this is the bit where you do the change. Woop!
For example, maybe you’ve identified that you need a place to work, more hours to work, a bigger network and a better website. So now you can start making that happen. Write your changes on a board and pin them above your desk. These things might not happen right away. Maybe you need funding, or a larger house – something that seems impossible right now. But I promise you CAN make this happen – it just requires a change of the biggest kind – a change in YOU.
Example – is there someone who can offer you some tech support in return for a few hours gardening (time sharing/skill swapping is a great option that could get you that new website). Do you need to spend some serious time visualising your bigger office space? Maybe you need to set your target sales higher, look at your prices, get an extra day to work – and stop thinking you don’t deserve to be happy?
My daughter loves unwrapping presents, so for a fun independent activity I wrapped her toys in tinfoil! I chose toys that were easy to wrap and small enough to fit in her little box. She loves taking the lid off the box and discovering what’s in there.
I found that she even turned the familiar toys over in her hands, exploring them anew. This was a great activity for when I needed a few minutes to clear the kitchen after breakfast! She did get a bit obsessed with the tinfoil and we ended up scrunching it into balls to play catch with too!
Confession. I LOVE PLAY DOUGH! So on a recent haul round local craft shops I made sure to pick some up. Actually, I made some last week – recipe at the bottom – but I have to admit, it wasn’t as luminous as the stuff I bought today and that won out for me. I like things bright and shiny. Like a magpie. But the home made stuff is really fine too! And cheaper 🙂
Ok so this stuff wasn’t for me it was for my 14 month old daughter, but I think I had the most fun with it! In the end though, she got into the swing of pressing down cookie cutters and rolling the squidgy substance around her palm. (Mostly she wanted to pick bits off and flick them onto the rug…)
It’s definitely an activity I’ll be returning to and which we’ll both be getting more out of as she grows. Try it out – great on a rainy day and really helps little ones to focus, use fine motor skills and experiment with touch. Just watch out for their experimentation with taste – not an activity they can do unsupervised!
Home Made Play Dough
Little ones can help you make this soft, fun play dough. Here’s what you need:
1 cup of flour
1/4 cup of salt
1/2 cup of water
a few drops of food colouring
Here’s what you do:
Mix the flour and salt
Slowly pour in the water, stirring as you do. Knead until the mixture is combined and the dough is soft but not sticky (add more flour if it is).
Make a well in the centre of the dough with your thumb, add a few drops of food colouring and knead until thoroughly combined and the colour is even.
Add more colouring if required!
As you can see my play dough was a bit pale – I ran out of time to add more colour, but adding more blue would really brighten it up!
September is here. And I am not ready! J, my little girl, has not been sleeping at all lately. Her back and top teeth are cutting through her tiny, tender gums and she has had her one year immunisations. She feels pretty rubbish. So she has needed me even more, and even more in the middle of and all through the nights. I have tried to drag myself up to my attic studio space to work when she has finally gone to sleep but I admit, I have not always tried very hard. I have crawled under a duvet and stolen a few precious hours sleep instead. This is the challenge of being a stay-at-home-work-at-home Mum. Two, three, four hours sleep to see me through the days and nights and my brain just cannot find the space to reach for colours, for shapes.
I painted two portraits this week and both went very badly. It’s hard to put your finger on what makes a painting work but I believe some of it has to do with a feeling of balance and a sense of space when approaching the page. Neither of which have been very available to me lately. So I sit here again, in front of a blank page, breathing deeply and trying to tell myself that things will happen. Trying to train myself to work in the gaps that present themselves to me – a half hour here, an hour there. Ignoring the low, heavy feeling of sleep beckoning me from my bedroom below.