Long term readers will know that I’m largely uncommunicative in the first 6 weeks of every year. I always seem to put myself on hold on December 31 and not press ‘play’ again until mid February. This year I was determined NOT to do this, and I did manage a few newsletters in January, but it didn’t come easily or naturally. Exhale. I can feel myself shifting into my New Year mode.
Thinking about new paintings
So while I haven’t posted on Instagram (or Facebook) much this last 6 weeks, it doesn’t mean I’ve been idle. I’ve moved house (still in progress), painted, and am currently dealing with a water issue in my studio.
Storage end of my studio
Moving house hasn’t meant moving studio. I now commute to work which is a bit novel, and I’m still adjusting to the consequences of not planning carefully and forgetting something vital. I’m improving.
I love my studio. It’s large and I almost constantly reorganise it to tweak its efficiency. It’s pretty darn good after four years! But I did have plans for a bit of storage reshuffle anyway but my plans were sped up by the recent rain.
About a year after I moved into the space I installed air conditioning (what a luxury/necessity). Since then it has saved me in the humid heat, and the chilly shady mornings in winter. It’s worked perfectly in all weather! But being at the pointy end of climate change we are now getting extreme weather conditions. Having been missed by the fires, my studio couldn’t get out of the way of the flooding rain over that last week.
The water damage end of my studio
Not that it actually flooded, but the sheer intensity of the deluges filled the gutters and the downpipes. The water just couldn’t get away fast enough. My problem occurred as a result of the full down pipes which allowed the water to go UP the air conditioning outlet pipe and consequently siphoned the water through the air conditioner. It flowed down the wall, over my slat wall brush storage. small boards in progress, and my huge stacks of used paper towels for reusing. It pooled on the floor where it became deep enough to lap against the bottom of an old table made from MDF. It’s destroyed, no big problem there aside from the mess. That stuff just dissolves into something like soft toy stuffing! My brushes will dry, but I think my slat wall is ruined. Small paintings are ok (because I spend so much time sealing the wood before I begin), but my paper towels, what a job to dry them all out.
You actually don’t need that much detail, sorry I know I ramble. What you might be interested in is the subsequent reorganising. I had used two tv stand cabinets stacked on on top of the other to store my stock of wood panels and works in progress. I’m emptying them and fitting all the stuff into other shelves so I can open up the space a bit, move other storage and have a sink installed. A sink! The dream of every painter may come to fruition for me very soon. It will be my very first studio with running water! (Just running water of a different kind the what I’ve had this week!)
Watershed Gallery, Pokolbin
During this time I’ve also been welcomed into the Watershed Gallery family. (What is it with water at the moment!!??) Owned and run by artist Lyn Hammond and her husband Ron, it is purpose built and smack bang in the middle of the Hunter Valley wineries area. If you’re in the area it is a must see. I’m thrilled to be included with such a talented stable of artists.
Once again I'll be endeavouring to post weekly - see you then!
Art sales, FREE tickets, and a new productivity tip
September 28, 2019
Ever had one of those weeks where everything goes so very right? Well I’m just finishing off a fortnight like that!
I’ve been painting up a storm finishing off new works to show at The Other Art Fair. It’s been great fun (most of the time) and while I’m still working on quite a lot of them, I’m happy with my progress.
Detail of something I'm working on for The Other Art Fair Sydney
I’ve been using a new planner and it’s helped me a lot. I know I’m late to discover him, but there may be some others out there who haven’t heard of Brendon Burchard. He’s huge in the high performance arena (think Oprah!) and to my novice eye it’s for good reason.
I discovered him when my daughter shared her new High Performance Planner with me. Down the Brendon rabbit hole I went and I now have his latest book (in hardcover and audiobook) and done one of his courses. (No I’m not getting paid to say any of this!)
But it’s the High Performance Planner that’s really made a difference to my productivity and ‘performance’ (which seems a strange word to assign to painting in a humble home studio).
Where his planner is different is that it covers all aspects of life, not just work, and it casts a POSITIVE shadow over everything. It has morning prompts and evening review prompts, a weekly review and a monthly review all with questions that don’t leave you feeling guilty about what you didn’t do, but happy with what you did and planning how to do it better next time.
Some of you know I’m a long time Bullet Journaller. I’m still working how the two fit together. I’ll post about that when I figure it out!
The result of all this self reflection and planning is more uninterrupted time in the studio with a focus on progressing the paintings. It’s working so well. I’ve noticed a shift in my attitude from ‘you have to get this finished’ to ‘you’ve got time to investigate this further’. And that’s brought some interesting results. I also feel more like an ‘artist’, as my idea of an artist is someone who investigates ideas, is curious and who plays. I now have scheduled time to do just that.
You’ll be able to see the results of my studio ‘performance’ at The Other Art Fair Sydney October 24 - 27. Tickets are on sale now, but I have 100 free tickets* to give away. That’s a saving of up to $30 and you can get your ticket for any of the days the fair is open. (Excepting opening night. Let me know if you want to go to opening night and I can get you a free ticket to that too.)
*Enter my code JAL2019 into the promo code field at the top of the ticket list.
The Other Art Fair has a new and exciting venue too. This time it is at The Cutaway in Barangaroo. That link includes how to get there too. Check out the photo of the venue! It’s underneath Barangaroo Reserve. It will be amazing! I hope to see you there!
Another detail. Come to The Other Art Fair to see the finished piece!
Oh did I mention I have sold six paintings in the last fortnight? I feel so grateful to my collectors and completely supported in my decision to become a full time artist this time last year. As my first year is nearly over I want to thank you my dear readers for your support too. I love all your comments here and on social media and know I might have given up earlier if it wasn’t for your resounding “yes” to my path. Thank you.
What a great year next year's going to be! I can feel it! In the meantime, follow my progress on Instagram or Facebook. Or if you’re worried about missing out on that painting, buy it now on Bluethumb, Saatchi, my website or at The Levee Art Gallery and Studios in Maitland NSW.
I’m excited to announce that I’m working towards exhibiting at The Other Art Fair again in October and I’m having a blast. Five large paintings are underway at the same time! I paint groups of paintings at a time for several reasons.
Painting painting painting etc
Painting a series at once means no single painting gets to feel too precious - that preciousness would mean fear of making a mistake would surface. It also means that as one painting progresses well it can light the way for the others, dragging them up to standard.
I’m constantly moving my panels from the wall to the table to the floor depending. Lucky I have supervision!
Painting groups like this also means that at the start of a studio session, faced with all these unfinished works that need... I don’t know what, that I can find a simple bit to add somewhere. Finding a way to start painting again while feeling daunted is key to getting the work done.
This is the first time I’ve painted so many large works at the same time and I’ve been pleased to find out that the above benefits apply no matter the size. The other thing I’ve discovered is that when you times the paint, cloths and brushes needed for a large painting by five, it’s a LOT.
My paint supplies are dwindling
I love thick paint in my paintings to get the look and surface I want and as a consequence I’ve been churning through tube after tube of paint. I also love the effect that layering gives my work so more paint goes on, even if it comes off again at a later stage.
Thick paint with thin paint glazed over creates some exciting colours and textures
I love my job! Being an artist is such a joy. But it is expensive so please keep that in mind when you next admire a painting and turn to read the label and price.
If you haven’t looked at my online gallery shop lately have a browse now.
Happy reader, as I write this I’m sitting in a local gallery for the day. I’ve seen such an array of people coming through to ‘just having a look’. They all have a single thing in common, they leave happier than they arrived.
On two separate occasions visitors even said the exact same thing as they completed their circuits absorbing the paintings and sculptures. “All is not lost for the world,” they say with a sigh of relief.
Some ‘don’t know anything about art but they know what they like’. These people tend to be drawn to realism and admire the skill of those artists. Some are drawn to the sculptures of people and give me a sense of their preference for tactile art. And some stand before my abstract paintings for a long long time, which makes me very happy.
How art heals the world
These people, my gallery visitors from today make me believe in the future again. They have brought me around to agreeing that there is hope for the world. People who understand the innate value of art make the effort to see it and absorb the many varied messages art sends, and then go out into the world again. Hopefully they share their new vision of the future.This is how art heals the world.
Where can you go so see some art this week? If your local don’t miss the Warmth exhibition, which includes my paintings, in its last week at The Art Space, Urunga.
The Other Art Fair again!
If you’re not local I’m thrilled to announce that I will again be exhibiting at The Other Art Fair in Sydney 24 - 27 October. Don’t leave it that long to see some art though, but do plan a visit to The Other Art Fair to say hello!
This last week saw me delivering my latest large painting to The Levee Art Gallery and Studios in Maitland. It was the first trip of its kind in my new van. I loved the driving and being able to fit in some furniture for my daughter too was a bonus. I still need a bit of practice getting the large size wood panels in and out of the van but that will happen soon enough.
Originally I was calling my Renault Kangoo "Skippy" but now it's changed to "Vincent Vangoo"!
‘Sun’s Calligraphy’ has been warmly received in the gallery as well as online prior to the delivery. It’s 120cm square (48 inches) and is my largest work in a long time. The gallery had asked for a painting in rusty reds but as you can see that didn’t happen. It wasn’t for lack of trying! My paintings seem to choose their own colour palettes and the shapes that feature within them.
Sun's Calligraphy by Jan Allsopp
Once again ‘Sun’s Calligraphy’ is made up of many layers of paint, some solid, some transparent and revealing what lies underneath. A prominent shape in this painting is the squiggling lines. These are lines that I notice appearing in one form or other in many of my works this past year.
Detail of 'Sun's Calligraphy' by Jan Allsopp
Usually a ‘m’ or ’n’ shape, my rounded squiggle lines have slowly revealed their meaning to me too. I now understand that they represent a connection or connections.
The word ‘connection’ has many meanings - association, relationship, kinship, path, merging, closeness, attachment, bond, bridge, communication, continuity, etc etc etc. I’ve come to understand that my arching lines can mean one of these in one painting, and have a completely different meaning in another. But they all mean ‘connection’ in some way.
Connection and anchors?
I’m not certain, but I believe connection is so important in my painting because it encapsulates the many ways we can look at a situation and yet still find the positive in it - if we look for it.
Working out compositional details for 'Sun's Calligraphy'
As you probably know, I’m passionate about happiness, in particular how it is actually a choice, as well as how we might make it easy for ourselves to choose it. Happiness and our actions that bring it about can also be viewed as an anchor in the turmoil that life often is (or seems to be). Unattached, unmoving shapes have also begun appearing in my work. I see these as anchors holding us to our truth, our authentic selves, our best intentions. And yet these anchors are not heavy or dragging us down. They are stable, but as light as air. They are not holding us down but encourage us to construct an interesting life using them as security and a foundation. Yes, it’s all a bit esoteric!
Once again I am reminded of why I am a painter - so I don’t have to find the right words to express it!!! For me, painting is much easier.
Can you see or feel the element of connection in ‘Sun’s Calligraphy’?
'Hydrogen' by Jan Allsopp. Now available from The Art Space Urunga, or contact Jan
Six of my latest paintings are currently showing in The Art Space gallery in Urunga NSW, Australia. If you are local or travelling during the next month please call in to see the all women show.
'Oxygen' by Jan Allsopp. Now available from The Art Space Urunga, or contact Jan
These paintings surprised me when they ‘arrived’. Now that they are here I can see a connection to my past work, but they came from joyous play and experimentation. Isn’t that the best way to birth something new?
When time stands still' by Jan Allsopp. Now available from The Art Space Urunga, or contact Jan
I find them particularly interesting as I get a sense of ‘water’ from them. (It’s OK if you don’t - it wasn’t intentional anyway.) While not strictly ‘landscape’ they are still a lot closer to abstract landscapes than I planned. In fact, I planned NOT to do abstract landscapes.
'Unfinished dream' by Jan Allsopp. Now available from The Art Space Urunga, or contact Jan
But the longer I live in my beach cottage surrounded by birdsong, trees, sky and beach, the more I can see landscape elements slipping into my work. And I’m starting to love it. I still don’t plan on chasing it or deliberately painting abstract landscapes, but if they come, well and good.
So much has happened since my last blog post. Here are the highlights.
There has been lots of painting and quite a bit of stuckedness figuring out a couple of them. I’m loving my current direction. Lots of layers and a mixture of transparent and opaque paint applications that bring about a sense of journeying through…what exactly I’m not sure. Sometimes I feel like I’m flying, but more and more the unintentional inclusion of the influence of the vast Pacific that is just a few steps from my door seems to be finding its way into my work.
'Oxygen' by Jan Allsopp. 60 x 60cm mixed media on wood panel. Available soon - better photo coming soon.
This has been interesting because I haven’t painted a landscape in 20 years or so. I don’t actually feel inspired to paint when I’m at the beach or in the bush. It doesn’t make me want to rush home and pick up a paintbrush. What it does make me want is to linger longer in it, near it. I absolutely love nature. I just don’t want to paint it.
And yet, here are waves, clouds, currents, seaweed and air currents. No trees I note. I wonder if they will push their influence into my work soon too!?
'Measuring air' by Jan Allsopp. 40 x 35 cm mixed media on wood panel. Available now.
A solo exhibition
I am thrilled to be able to tell you that I will be having a solo exhibition next year at the Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery. I will no doubt be showing you progress and sharing more about this as it gets closer. It’s still more than a year away so there’s plenty of time.
A change to Creating for Happiness
I’ve been writing emails to a group of subscribers for a year and a half now - almost every day. When I first started I doubted I could sustain it for the 3 months I had set myself. After 6 months of daily emails I wondered if I would ever run out of things to say on the topic. Now after 18 months I find I have. Well, not exactly run out of things to say, but certainly run out of thoughts for a daily email. So a change needs to happen.
Along the way I made many plans for Creating for Happiness. I had big plans for most of the time, but now I’m a full-time artist and submerged in my studio practice I find I’m less interested in ‘big’ and more interested in ‘deep’.
So Creating for Happiness letters will be shared publicly for the first time. I’m rebuilding the website they were to be housed on, making it open to all and keeping it free. I’ll share more on this soon, when the changes have been completed. For now, I’m just plain excited to share my writing on the topic so dear to my heart and one that I feel so strongly about - daily creating to improve your life and make you happy.
Until next time I hope you find the time to look at my available paintings and time to be creative yourself.
I’m ready to attempt to answer the question "How did you do that?" now that I’m back from exhibiting at The Other Art Fair in Sydney, have my computer (partially) repaired and have had some time to assimilate all the things I learned over the past couple of months.
This week I was asked the “How did you do that?” question about getting a body of work ready for the art fair. (Artists call a collection of work a “body” of work.”) The person asking on this occasion is looking to ready themselves for a solo exhibition next year.
When it comes to giving an answer, the bit I know is that you need to have a particular number of works, depending on the size of the gallery. They need to be finished in time for framing or, if like me you don’t frame your paintings, in time to do all the finishing off of edges, adding hanging wires etc.
The bit that I don’t know how to answer is the other side of the “How did you do that?” question, how did I know what to paint, if it was good enough, how did I come up with a theme, and how did I start? Those questions I didn’t know the answer to while I was doing them, and I can now only answer them, and only up to a point, with hindsight.
The truth is that when you come to see an exhibition, any exhibition I believe, the artist didn’t know what or how to do it when they began to build it. Even if they are experienced and there is a known theme, the act of creating paintings within that theme either expands or refines that theme, so it shifts significantly over time. And this is how things should be. Artists create and that act of creation brings forth both something not seen before, but also not imagined.
Yes this is a wishy washy answer. The only thing I can say is that each unknown step I took towards my body of work for the art fair revealed my next step. I never knew what that would be until I’d completed the preceding one.
From a more practical angle, and I have my art friend Sarah Mufford to thank for ingraining this in me, you want a consistent body of your best work.
Until this was reinforced for me I was distracted by thoughts like “Oh, I think people will like this!” or “This would look great in (this) type of home!”. These are thoughts of the audience, not the work. I needed to turn around, refocus on my work and simply paint the best I could.
So how did I develop me theme? It came out of painting, working in the studio experimenting and playing and asking myself questions like “What do I love in this so far?”
How did I come to my colour palette? It came out of painting, choosing colours that worked well but were still surprising and asking myself questions like “What does this colour say to me and how can I use that?”
Yes, the answer to just about every question comes out of the act of painting. So my biggest piece of advice is to just start painting and trust that it will lead you to where you want, and need, to be.
How’s your New Year progressing? Mine is going great! I’ve been experimenting.
When I first gave up my job last year I had in mind that I wanted to experiment A LOT in the studio. However, facing life without a regular pay cheque made experimenting seem like folly. I felt a push to create paintings like ones that had sold before. This push came solely from me and it caused me to be thinking about my audience while painting and anyone who paints knows there is nothing more certain to kill a painting that that kind of thinking.
It turns out what I needed was time to adjust to my new life and develop new ways of thinking about what I do. I’m now in a place where I feel confident enough in my situation to let go of the need for outcomes and let myself explore creatively. And loving it!
There is a reason I started this post with a question to you about your New Year, and it has to do with my shifting to a mindset that allows me to experiment. I’d like to share with you a post that I sent out to my Creating for Happiness members early this month. It is on this very topic and what I’m now calling ‘transitioning’. In this email I suggest that we spend a month (more if needed, less also if needed) transitioning to a mindset that has us ready to actively and successfully go after our new year’s resolutions and goals.
Since writing that email I have made the mind shift to being able to experiment about painting more loosely, one of my goals for my creativity this year. If, however, I’d got up on New Year’s Day and told myself that as my goal was to paint loosely this year, I’d better start today, I’m pretty sure I would have set myself up for failure. Using self-bullying to get us moving on our goals is never a good idea, and yet we seem to do it year after year, and find we have let even the idea of chasing that goal slide by the end of January or before.
So I hope sharing this email helps you recover from any heavy-handedness you may have had earlier this month around your goals. Of course when I talk about goals I’m talking about creative goals, but I’m sure it is much the same for all goals. Enjoy your ‘sneak-peek’ into the Creating for Happiness world and if you are interested in finding out more about the program visit the Creating for Happiness page and put your name down to be notified when the doors open again soon.
“Change is situational. Transition, on the other hand, is psychological. It is not those events but rather the inner reorientation or self-redefinition that you have to go through in order to incorporate any of those changes into your life. Without a transition, a change is just a rearrangement of the furniture. Unless transition happens, the change won’t work.” William Bridges
Do you know what I hate? I hate those articles about a ‘clean slate’ to start the new year. And I hate those articles that tell you to make specific changes to make your life better and yourself happier. Does this sound hypocritical? I don’t think I am being hypocritical and here’s why.
On my way to cracking the Creating for Happiness ‘nut’ I avidly read those articles. I did the planning and I made the changes. I read the testimonials about how much people had managed to change and what it had meant to them and couldn’t wait to join them. But I never did. Oh, eventually I did, but it wasn’t via any route I’d read about in that type of article.
Instead of changing my life for the better, those articles ultimately reinforced my self doubt and poor self esteem. I failed. I failed again and again. If others had succeeded, I inferred my failure was my fault.
As I don’t know when you are having a day when you need me to be gentle, I try to be gentle all the time. It’s a great way of thinking about how we work with ourselves too. So how do you make great change for the better while remaining gentle on ourselves? I think this month’s Journey Spark might help us learn to always incorporate a new practice in our change-making plans. Transitioning.
Instead of getting up at the start of the New Year and suddenly expecting yourself to be different, better, more predictable and productive, instead give yourself a month to achieve a mindset of understanding what that might look like, how it might work, and what is required.
The idea of transitioning should give you an instant feeling of relief, of being let off the hook. It should give you that feeling IF you were thinking of using sheer willpower to achieve your dreamed of change. Using willpower to achieve change is another way of reinforcing self loathing. Willpower alone cannot achieve your goals. Using willpower to achieve change will leave you feeling like a failure again.
Sure, I do talk about using willpower at times, but those times are very short, a couple of days at most. We need willpower to get us moving on change, but the change needs to be designed to happen ultimately without willpower. The power of transition comes to the fore when we design our change.
Designing our change is not only about planning either. Planning is great to get us started, but once in motion what we have planned needs to accomodate our need for different things on different days. Sometimes we need to be gentle on ourselves. Sometimes we need an extra kick up the backside. Sometimes we need inspiration to keep going.
So this month, let’s spend time integrating our desired changes into our current life. This will probably mean discarding as much as we add. This integration isn’t the same as achieving our goals. I’m not asking you to have finished adding and subtracting from your life by the end of the month! What I am asking you to do is to mindfully make adjustments to your day that put in place the structure you need to achieve your goals.
I have built Creating for Happiness around avoidance of guilt, shame, humiliation and failure. I am verment about it. Don’t do it! If there’s one change you do make instantly this New Year, make it avoidance of those self defeating thoughts. The rest of the change you want this year, transition towards it.
The above article was first sent to Creating for Happiness members Jan 2, 2019.
Setbacks, I've had a few. Particularly in the past 2 days!
Firstly I've had a major setback in the development of the Creating for Happiness website (ugh) and then today I went to work on this 3D painting and, well, see that wood coloured round circle in the lower left? Well earlier today that was a rich dark glossy blue.
3D painting under construction
But something went wrong with the finish coat I'd put on. OK. I'll fess up. I mean finish coatS I put on. I don't think you are meant to put it on quite as thick as I did. But every coat had some kind of imperfection that I thought the next coat would take care of! And the subsequent coat would take care of it but present a totally new problem as well.
In the end I had a really thick layer of acrylic polymers that was cloudy instead of clear, even when it was dry.
I tried sanding it off but even with my heavy duty belt on my linisher it couldn't shift it. It became a bit like gum, shifting around the surface but not scraping off.
In the end I had to sit down with a metal scraper and scrape and pull it of little bit by little bit. Once I was back to the paint (which was now damaged by the scraping) I could sand it off.
So here I am, back to the raw wood and beginning the 4 layers of undercoat all over again. (Did I say 'ugh'?)
But if these are the frustrations of a full-time artist, I'll take them any day over the frustrations of a full-time paid job. While I might sound like I'm complaining, I'm not. Not really. Well, maybe a little bit. Here's hoping setbacks don't come in threes!
Are you signed up to my newsletter? Well you had better be! You don't want to cause another setback do you??!! 😉 Sign up here.
I don’t know about you, but I have beautiful memories of time when I was a child - and I mean ‘time’ specifically. It was long and slow and golden. I often dream of getting that kind of time back again.
Last week, even by part way through Monday afternoon, I knew I was having the ‘longest week’. You know that week. I remember when I was working in jobs I didn’t love, talking about it with co-workers. We all knew what we meant. Some weeks simply dragged.
Days and days later it was still only Tuesday morning. I realised that my week was dragging but it was a week of doing a job I love and am passionate about. I reframed my situation. I was having the glorious long days I’d dreamed of for decades! And it was glorious after that!
In my memories I would be making something, disappear into that flow state we now have a word for, reemerge and play for a while, then do something else for a bit and then it would be almost lunch time. Enjoying my Vegemite on toast, lunch would be a time for day dreams. And then the afternoon would lie before me, long and rich with possibility.
How blessed am I to have this back again! Why has it come back to me? What changed last week?
I’m not really certain what changed, a lot is changing at the moment. While I made the switch to full time artist a couple of months ago, it’s taken me quite a while to shed all of my workplace habits and replace them with more fitting ones. These habits include my habitual thinking around things.
Anyway, I wonder if this beautiful golden time (which from now on will have an official Timezone code - BGT) is available to us all if we align with our true work? What do you think? Does time drag when you hate your job and yet go too quickly when you are doing something you love? Or, like my experience, do you find that time stretches to give you more of what you love when you are doing what is your purpose or vocation? I’m interested to know how others perceive time. (Partly because it will confirm I’m stark raving mad if no one replies!!!)
‘When cicadas sing’ has been delivered to The Art Space Urunga for the Summer Show exhibition opening this week. It’s still available for purchase through my shop though!
Don’t forget to buy yourself a present this Christmas either. Choose your favourite right from my shop now. There IS plenty of time for some things, but time for buying up art before Christmas is running out! There’s lots of beautiful ones still available.
PS. I’m experimenting with adding my Facebook posts here as blog posts, because that’s what they kind of are. What do you think? Did you see this in both places? Too much, or a great way of keeping up with what I’m writing?
Well, so that was November! It was both pretty exciting and pretty quiet for me. I’ll get to the exciting in a minute, but first the quiet.
I didn’t write a single blog post. I only made one studio video. I didn’t do much on Facebook or Instagram. I have in my mind that you might be wondering why, but if I think about it I doubt my being missing will have made an impact. I hope my being missing is something you noticed though. Yep, even I have an ego!
New work now available. Left 'Trompe l'inoleum; centre 'Forever Sunday'; right 'When cicadas sing'
So where was I and what was I doing? Well I was in my studio painting and making, and I was in my office writing daily emails for Creating for Happiness. Oh! That’s another thing I was quiet on! I actually had a week off from writing in November too. (I reposted some popular emails from earlier in the year.) So, I really did have a break from communicating in a big way.
Frankly I needed it. I needed to find myself more. Yep, that old saying ‘find myself’ again. But it is true to how I felt. I made the big change to being an artist full-time shortly before and I rode that wave of excitement for quite a while. It’s not that I came ‘down’ so much as I was sorting out how to be me under these new circumstances. I needed a break from telling you who I am so I could ascertain who I really am.
And quite suddenly I feel ready to re-engage. I do love sharing, it’s why I do all this. I’ve always been a big sharer and technology allows me to do a whole lot more if it! So thanks for waiting for me. I really appreciate it. Oh, and I don’t think you will notice anything different about me at all. It’s more fine tuning and reimaging that I’ve been through. Nothing has really changed. I’ve just got a whole lot more comfortable with my new life and the ‘me’ I am in it.
In other news I’m excited to say that I’ll be attending The Other Art Fair in Sydney next March (dates and details below). I will be working hard on creating lots of new paintings and 3D paintings to show then. It’s my first time at an art fair and I think I’m going to really enjoy it. I’m really looking forward to meeting lots of art lovers and if you’re in Sydney at the time I’d love to see you. Hell, it’s worth travelling for I’m sure! Lots of artists to see as well as me. Well worth it!
I’m just about to launch the Creative for Happiness website too. If you aren’t already signed up for Creating for Happiness pop your name down here to be advised when it happens. New website, new look, new content, it’s all happening! And yep, that’s a sneak peek at the new logo.
Now, about Christmas. You know, of course, that it’s most beneficial for our community if you shop locally and buy gifts that someone actually makes or from a small business. If you’re local and would like to have a look at my paintings then email me and we’ll make a time for a studio visit. No obligation.
And if your not local but want to give a quality art piece as a gift, check out the shop here on my website or my page on Bluethumb. And while you’re over there at Bluethumb, please ‘favourite’ my page. The more favourites I have the more I show up in searches and the more people can fine me. Thank you!
So thanks for welcoming me back into your inbox! Here’s the details for the Other Art Fair so you can add the dates to your calendar. Like I said, it would be so nice to see you there!
The Other Art Fair
March 14 - 17
Australian Technology Park
It's all happening so fast at the moment that I can't even get to the end of writing this post without needing to add something super new. Creating for Happiness now has a Facebook page. Please like the page to see what's happening as it happens!
Over the Moon - available only to subscribers this week 50 x 50cm. Contact me.
The last few weeks have been like travelling on a high speed train. While you’re on it you sit comfortably watching the slightly blurry surroundings and not really having any sense of how far and fast you are going. Then when you get off you’re thinking “Wow, was that it, am I really here? How fast was that? What was that? Where am I after all?”
If you’d asked me how things were going during these last few weeks I would have answered something like “OK, I’m still adjusting, I’m busy on my website and I’m painting. Things are just humming along.” But I would have been wrong!
My painting has taken a real boost and I feel like it has moved forward towards where I want to go. (Don’t ask! I have no idea what that means either! It’s a feeling though, and I have it.) And not just my painting. I’ve had an idea floating around for quite a long time now. You know those ideas that are the brain equivalent of a ticklish throat? Well it’s been on of those.
Moving it from brain to action was prompted by an upcoming exhibition that the Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery is putting on next year New Year - New Work. They have given all invited artists a thick piece of plywood 50cm square (20” sq) to do with what they will. I had planned to do a painting but looking at that piece of wood sitting there… it got to me.
So I purchased a scroll saw and started cutting up bits of plywood in different thicknesses into shapes - my shapes. I scoured my paintings and sketchbooks for shapes that appear in my paintings. Turns out there are quite a number of regulars! Once I cut the shapes I arrange them into compositions. These will be painted and assembled into what I’m calling 3D paintings that will hang on the wall. It’s all terribly exciting!
I’ve also been working larger, bigger and bolder. Wow, those three words - larger, bigger and bolder - they are the words I used to love so much when I first started painting again back in the 1990s. It’s so good to have them back in my visual vocabulary.
But this large, big and bold works come from tiny ideas - my 15cm square (6” square) sketchbooks! I’ve been using these tiny compositions to paint 120cm square (48” square) paintings. It’s been great. None are quite finished as yet - that’s another story and involves an art supply store I won’t be using any more.
I’ve also got a little website news. Ha! Not little. Huge! You know my website? Well l’ve been quite happy with it all except for one crucial thing… no art. What kind of artist’s website doesn’t have any art!!!??? Well mine apparently. Every time I added a gallery of paintings to my site it wouldn’t show, or I’d hate the way it displayed. I’m still not 100% happy with it but at least it shows now. And it’s all over the site! You can see my current available work here, all my paintings from the last couple of years here, and my sketchbook pages here. I hope you enjoy them! I worked very hard to get them there. How hard can it be, you ask? Hmmmm. Let me tell you!
Then today I got to do a half hour session on a webinar that was going out to artists from a ridiculous number of countries, and talk about my art. That was great, but what was really great was watching all the other people on the webinar talk about theirs. So many inspiring people!
There’s also some some of my work on exhibition in The Art Space Urunga until the middle of November so if you are local I’d love you to see it. There’s nothing like seeing it in person. Let me know when you’re going and I might be able to meet up too.
So as I alight the October fast train, I have very little sense of where I’ve come from and not much more of a sense of where I am now - my head is still reeling and asking “what was that!?”
This blog post is still not quite weekly and neither are my studio videos, but here’s the ones since last blog post in case you missed them. I am slowly getting more regular and thank you for your patience with me! Those of you who also signed up to receive my Available Art magazine monthly will be receiving the very first issue very shortly. Yes, that’s another thing that’s happened this month too. Yay! It’s all happening!
Until next time - be happy!
I had such a wonderful childhood. I just love revisiting my memories of warm golden sunshine while I played and created. My whole body recalls the feelings of bliss and immersion in doing something I just loved.
I had such a wonderful childhood, or at least that’s what I tell myself. When I think about it, the things I remember in this way are all when I was alone and creating. I created whole worlds for games, transformed odd bits and pieces into wildly wonderful objects and voraciously devoured anything instructional about making.
So was my childhood actually so wonderful? Does it matter?
Now when I think back over the last year, some of my most joyful memories are of being in the stage of painting where my ideas are still bubbling furiously with the heat of new inspiration, and the actuality of painting hasn’t yet covered and arrested them completely in dried acrylic. That is the target for me. I shoot for that feeling of joyous possibility and I try to leave it still showing when a painting is finished.
I still have this precious object from that time in my childhood when I thought my heart would burst with love for such a delicate tiny animal. It didn’t really matter if it was real, it was magically real to me.
It sits near the entrance to my studio. Sometimes, most times, I don’t even notice it. Then others, like today when the weather is finally shifting to penetrating warmth I take time to notice.
I want to embody that remembered child, her passions, her exponential creating and her limitless ideas. I never thought, or believed that there was something I couldn’t make. I remember the profound disappointment when what I made didn’t live up to my envisaged outcome. But it was short lived because I was back into making something else, a new cubby house, a mansion in a gully and a gum tree, or something I would need my father’s vice for. I loved using his vice in his garage. I thought I could make anything if I used his vice.
What can I learn from this digression into memory? Has it sprung up today for a reason?
I guess so. I think it is partly because I’m about to test out my secret weapon, this wooden handled bristle cobweb brush that was old when I was born. Somehow it was always kept even though the later plastic versions with extension handles were the weapon of choice for most of my life. And here it is, in my studio along with many other things from that childhood era that echoes in me today.
I’m finally getting around to giving it a cleanup and a test out. I’m pretty excited to see what it can do. Can it apply paint? I hope it does a better job of it than it did of removing cobwebs.
Sketchbook page Sept 2018, Jan Allsopp
Not what I expected. That is my summary of this week, even though it included a trip to Sydney to see family and I was pretty sure I knew what to expect there. Here are the highlights and unexpected theme(s).
Is there anything better than family?
I had 5 days in Sydney with my daughter and her family, including my 4-year-old grandson. I don’t get to see them very often and I was really looking forward to it. And I wasn’t disappointed at all.
Is there anything better than looking at art?
I made two visits to the Art Gallery of NSW to see the William Kentridge exhibition, yes two. He is just about my favourite artist and I’ve seen many of his exhibitions before. The second day I took my grandson and he really enjoyed the videos, especially the stop motion ones with the coffee cup and saucer being uncooperative, and the ones played in reverse where it appears Kentridge is putting pieces of paper back together and they have a self-portrait on them.
Detail of William Kentridge drawing, AGNSW
Detail of William Kentridge drawing, AGNSW
However, in spite of my great love for Kentridge, his exhibition may just have been outshone by Yona Lee’s In transit (double-function form), or at least in my grandson’s eyes. The stainless steel railings, barriers, ladders, double bunk and especially the exit that is actually an entrance had him captivated. All recognisable barriers used to prompt and control our interactions were reversed to disrupt it and interfere. Both of us were initially quite uncomfortable, not knowing how to react in this strange space. But then we got the hang of it and fun ensued!
Is there anything better than new friends?
While I was there I managed to meet up with some online friends, meeting them in the flesh for the first time. It’s always great to meet other artists and it’s always a surprise how universal our issues seem to be. We are all uncertain, not knowing what to do next and not knowing if what we are doing is ‘ok’. I did a bit of casual coaching and reassuring. It’s always easier to help others than it is to help ourselves, or so it seems.
Is there anything better than being organised?
I’ve been struggling with time management and general organisation since I went full-time as an artist. The ‘next thing’ is not always obvious when there are thousands of contenders all with merit. Since getting home I’ve been doing even more planning, making schedules, lists and charts. While I still don’t expect to have it perfect yet, I do now have a structure to work within. Ahh, the beauty of constraints to make us more creative and effective.
Is there anything better than checking off items on the to-do list?
This week’s video was released more or less on time, which is extra noteworthy because I skipped last week’s. I talk a little about that in the video as well as that uncertainty and not knowing we experience as artists, and of course, I talk about my issue with time. I plan to stop talking about that soon! But not until I’m ready.
Is there anything better than a weekend?
One of the things I’m enjoying most about being a full-time artist, as opposed to trying to be one while carrying on other jobs too, is I now get weekends again! I’m catching up with more friends this weekend and even thinking about going to the movies. What will you be doing this weekend? I know I’ll still be in the studio painting as well though. I just love it.
Sketchbook page Sept 2018, Jan Allsopp
Can you do better than me?
If you’re in Sydney and you can visit the William Kentridge exhibition at Annandale Galleries. While I did love the AGNSW exhibition, I had seen quite a lot of it before. Annandale Galleries always exhibit Kenfridges latest work and the exhibition Right into her arms has work from the past couple of years. It’s all very Kentridge but, in true Kentridge style, there are surprises. How do I know this? Well, I’ve looked hard at the website and the videos posted on Facebook because when I was there it hadn’t opened! It opened only days after I left. Do better than me. Go and see it!
What a week! If further clarification was needed that I’d made the right decision, then it well and truly came. This past week I’ve been so happy and busy. I’ve sold more paintings and confirmed commissions that were in the wings. I feel like it’s all happening and I’m loving it.
It’s also been a strange week. I had so much admin to catch up on last week that not a lot of painting happened. This week I’ve been back in the studio starting some new works and finishing off some others.
Here's one I'm currently working on.
This brings me to an important point. As subscribers to my blog you receive my updates every time I post a new one. You also receive my newsletter. I’m the first to admit I’ve been very quiet on both fronts! Now that I’m full-time as an artist, I’m have committed to doing both regularly. I am going to give you options for your subscription now so you get to see what interests you most. The ways you can keep in touch are by:
Weekly email notification of new blog posts and/or
Fortnightly available art update
What to expect
Blog posts will come out weekly, around Wednesdays. These will be a mix of interesting studio news and insights, and creative encouragement. They will also include the Studio Sunday video.
The newsletter will go out monthly (!) and will be a good one to sign up for if you enjoy my art.
The available art update will go out fortnightly (on a different week to the newsletter) and is for collectors, galleries, designers and anyone interested in buying my work. It will have all the details of where paintings are exhibited, their price and how to purchase.
The purpose of all these different ways of staying in touch with my art journey and paintings is so you can choose your level of involvement. Select all three if you like! You won’t actually be getting much more than you have up to now. (The fortnightly available art update is the only new offering.)
A big part of the reason I’m doing this is because of the GDPR privacy laws that were enacted in Europe. While I’m a long way away, I still have some readers in Europe, therefore I need to comply.
What to do next
If you want to keep receiving content from me in all three categories above, there is nothing you need to do! I will continue sending you blog posts, newsletters and you will receive the fortnightly available art update.
If you want to change what you receive from me, click 'update your preferences' in the footer of this email. From there you will be able to choose what you receive and what you don't.
The 'unsubscribe from this list' link is always in the footer. If you don't agree with my policies (linked above) or you change your mind you can unsubscribe there.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions. I apologise for the dry content of this post, but it had to be done. Have a happy week!
For those reading this on my website, if you haven't already, sign up to receive the content mentioned above.
It’s been one of those times when a lot has been shifting and changing for me, as an artist and simply as a human being. Even so, the last thing I expected was for my fingerprints to change!
A big thank you
Firstly, to those who reached out and offered support and kind words after the Studio Sunday 6 video I thank you. You helped me get through a difficult time. If you missed seeing that video here it is.
Just so you know, my Mum has been moved into the high care section of her care home. This is brilliant for her and I was very happy about the move as she will get care more tailored to her needs. The reality, however, was difficult to take. When I visit her I’m in a section where the other residents are further along the road she finds herself on. Looking at what is probably in store for Mum was heartbreaking. However, it’s amazing what you can get used to! I’m not struggling with it like I was. I’m focusing on the best aspects.
Now onto those changes
I had definitely had enough of feeling bad. During this year I’ve been moving towards leaving my job and focusing on my art and Creating for Happiness. The desire to make that move became stronger and stronger, especially as I was sad about my Mum. I needed some more scope for happiness in my life. Late one night I decided to take the leap. I would advise my boss the next day.
I was nervous about letting them know when the time came. I know they value me greatly and my work makes a difference. I didn’t like feeling like I was letting them down. I also love working with these people. The calibre of these people is amazing and working with them I had come to know them as friends. So, to some extent, I was umming and ahhing, not really, but I was not looking forward to making the call.
Then the messages started to come through
Firstly, I was frustrated because every time I went to operate my phone or tablet the fingerprint touch ID wouldn’t unlock it. It’s a simple little thing, but on top of everything else, it was frustrating. Then I got an email from a boss in a different department. This email made me feel small, insignificant and undervalued. So, not everyone I work with was wonderful after all. Well, that sealed the deal. I decided to make the call then and there.
More phone fumbling as it failed to unlock automatically at my touch, then a while later it was all done. I’ll be working 2 days a week for the next little while to finish off my current projects. Then I will become a full-time artist. Now that’s exciting! I went to get a coffee, I needed one.
During my break, I realised the extent of my phone/iPad fumbling. None of my fingerprints worked on either device! (You program in a few fingerprints so it’s easy to open no matter which hand or finger you use.) I know they don’t work well while the fingers are wet, or when I have paint crusted on them, but clean and dry my fingerprints were not doing it.
Had my fingerprints changed?
I felt like a whole new person because of resigning my job. It was a feeling I had, but the fact that my fingerprints seemed to have changed too… could I actually be a whole different person? I took it as a sign, confirmation that I had made the right decision to move on came in both the insulting email and my changed fingerprints.
It’s been a few days now and the reality of my new situation is sinking in. I’m completely happy with it. And yes, my fingerprints slowly reverted to their original state over a couple of days. Weird huh!? Signs might be all in our minds, I’m OK with that thought. I’d just like to know how my mind changed my fingerprints for a few days!
Now I will have time to paint more. I truly feel called to paint. I’m so grateful I have this opportunity. I will also be able to catch up on all the other things artists need to do, but I just hadn’t had time for them. And there is Creating for Happiness. Creating for Happiness is my little baby that has helped me and others become happier and more regular creators. I have plans to improve and expand it. Now I’ll have the time to make those plans happen.
This week’s Studio Sunday was also late, I made it on Tuesday this time. But with my new work situation, I will be able to make it on time from now on I’m sure. If not, I’m changing its name!!
I’m on Bluethumb
Since my last blog post, I’ve joined Bluethumb, an Australian online art gallery. I’m thrilled to have become a featured artist and sold a painting already. I’m hoping Bluethumb will get my art in front of new people and lead to new opportunities and sales. Now that I’m a full-time artist I need to focus on the business side of art and Bluethumb is one way of marketing art online. Please check out my page and follow me. By following me you will receive first notification of when I list new art.
Until next time, thanks so much for your interest in me and my work. I really appreciate your support.
Phew! I finally have come to a more comfortable place working in the studio. I’m in love with what I’ve been working on and the direction for my present work has clarified. I feel like I’ve arrived where I’ve been wanted to be for the last few months. While the pleasure of reaching a destination has been resonating through me these past few days, I’m now thinking well, what’s next?
As an artist, I work with change and the unknown all the time. I’m no more comfortable with that than the next guy. I want comfort and stability but I know if I get it, even in the mild form of these last few days, that it won’t last. I’ll have to step out into the unknown again once these three paintings are finished off and I start working on my unfinished test pattern paintings again and start the next few boards I’m prepping and other unfinished pieces, the list goes on.
My work has settled into three series that I feel I can work on simultaneously. I’ve not worked on three ideas at once before and I’m excited at the prospect. It will be interesting to see how it goes.
There’s the test pattern series. I’m excited by the experimentation I want to work into this series, in fact, I see this series as a vehicle for experimentation on a broad scale. Yes, there is experimentation in all of my paintings, but I have a more deliberate kind of experimenting planned for these.
The other two series haven’t acquired names as yet. One is a series I’ve discovered in my recent work that I hadn’t noticed was a series. It became obvious to me working on this painting this week while working on both the test patterns and my red commission piece at the same time. The differences between the three paintings helped me see that I’d actually been working in this series for a few years, well possibly for many years, just with breaks. It’s a kind of painting I return to again and again. Maybe I’ll call the series ‘Spots and stripes’ because they often feature, although not always. It is a series of fun, happy, bold and colourful works. It’s very ‘me’.
The third series has come out of my red commission piece ‘Juicy talk’ that I showed in my last blog post. This series will include many of the elements that evolved in this painting, transparency, juiciness, again boldness, and they will be primarily about colour itself. I’m excited to be doing more like this.
Actually, I’m excited to be working on them all. I can’t wait to get into the studio each time, and that excitement, for me, is what I really crave. When my ideas implode and indelibly stamp my mind and imagination so they drive me with enthusiasm, that’s what I’m after.
So what’s next? Next is me racing to the studio to do the work that will take me to my next destination, whatever/where ever that may be.
Last week I met a mental health practitioner who, when I said I was an artist, responded with something along the lines of “Oh! Well you’d be happy and relaxed the whole time!”
I was initially struck dumb and I must admit to waiting for the laughter to erupt that indicated she was joking. It didn’t come. She was serious! I asked if that was really what she thought because it was not my experience of being an artist. She replied that yes, it was the popular view of artists and their lot.
Sheesh. I’m pretty sure she hasn’t had any artists as clients otherwise she would be aware of all the fear, resistance, anxiety, depression and sheer bloody-minded self-obsession us artists go through.
This commission piece is almost finished.
The artist’s default mindset has been documented in history as well as in the countless self-help books available today, from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way to Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art and pretty much everything Eric Maisel has written. We artists have it tough. We are sensitive and open to stimuli even when we wish we weren’t. We suffer, and I don’t mean the starving artist image of suffering, we suffer from self-inflicted creative angst in many forms.
Yes, we also experience great joy and the expansive feeling of something that is a combination of success, self-worth and the pleasure of having learned something new. Creating something that has never existed before feeds our desire to create again and again.
Creating is often a journey of discovery that ends in a surprise. It’s like your birthday every day of the year. It’s like drinking wine and eating chocolate at the same time. It’s like reaching the summit of a mountain and surveying the view. It’s amazing.
But still we torture ourselves with questions like “Should I do xyz instead? Or abc?" "What will my husband/friends/the gallery/the world think of it?" “Why did I put that there!?” “What was I thinking?” and then onto statements like “I’ll never be any good” “No one will like/understand it” “No one cares”.
But there is a light at the end of the 21st-century tunnel with neuroscience and psychology research showing us ways to hack our thinking and make mindset shifts that allow us finally to be those people who are happy and relaxed the whole time, or at least most of the time.
These are the kinds of things I address in Creating for Happiness. If you are interested in being a happier artist, ridding yourself of creative frustration or being someone who creates for the sheer pleasure of it, then you might find Creating for Happiness will help you too. The group is closed to new members at present but you can pop your name down to be notified when it opens up again.
And if you find yourself talking to an artist who is struggling, send them there too. It’s time we used our 21st-century thinking to improve the artist’s lot.
Did you miss this week’s Studio Sunday video? So did I! But I did get there today (Tuesday). Here it is!
Tell me about your week! I'd love to hear what you've been up to.
I’m back, in more ways than one. Yes, I’ve had a wonderful trip to the UK and Ireland, my first time. I loved it so much and found it so inspiring.
During my trip I worked on and off in some homemade concertina sketchbooks. These were more about capturing impressions of shapes and pattern more than recreating a scene. I was struck by patterns and the different plants, countryside, and - well everything is very different to Australia!
Here are some of the patterns that saw. And these are only from St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin!
The other sense in which “I am back” is with Creating for Happiness. In order to be able to travel and allow for a jet-lagged slump at the end, I needed to pre-write 6 weeks of daily emails! That is a lot of work while you are planning and packing. I got it done though and Creating for Happiness hummed along nicely while I was away and I was able to pop into the Facebook Group at times to keep up with everyone. It worked really well.
Back home and with jet-lag receding eventually, it was time to look at Creating for Happiness and make some decisions. I launched Creating for Happiness on January 1 this year and have written more than 187 emails! No wonder blog posts and newsletters have been scarce or non-existent. I’ve loved writing them though and interacting with CFH members, coaching and everything to do with Creating for Happiness, so the decision to keep going was easy.
Having decided to progress, I could see the time for change had come. Firstly, can I continue to write an email a day? The answer turns out to be both yes and no. Yes - I have discovered that the more I say on the topic of daily creativity, creative block, creative anxiety, creative self-confidence etc etc, the more I find I have to say. I am not running out of things to say any time soon. And no - I can see myself writing daily emails for a while longer, but I can’t see that it is something I can do indefinitely the way my life is set up now. So what to change? The emails or my life? I’ve opted for my life. That decision lead to lots of other decisions, the subject of which I’m not ready to reveal just yet.
But one I can talk about is the membership. I’ve closed Creating for Happiness to new members until I make the changes to the program that I have planned out. There are a few reasons for this. One is that it keeps things simpler for me while I’m working on other aspects. The other I see as a kind of reward for current members. I want them to feel special because they put their faith in me when the program was new and I am so grateful. I have learned so much from them and I will use this learning in working on improvements and enhancements to Creating for Happiness. (If you are wishing you had signed up but think you’ve missed out, you can put your name down to be notified when it reopens to new members.)
I’m also back in the studio. It took a while for me to feel back in the swing of things and now I’m thoroughly enjoying being in the middle of a new series based on, of all things, the TV test pattern. My Dad was a TV electronics engineer during the golden age of television in Australia. He had a dream career and TV and visiting the TV station are fond memories for me. I’ve been thinking about this series for a while now, so it’s great to have begun. Oh, and I’m painting them in my Dad’s retirement electronics workshop! It’s now my studio.
Yesterday I delivered ‘A good day’ to the Glasshouse Regional Gallery in Port Macquarie. It has been accepted into the Northern Exposure 5 exhibition. Northern Exposure is an annual exhibition that showcases the work of artists on the Mid North Coast of NSW. I’m humbled to have been selected. The opening night is next Friday 13th and please come along if you can. The exhibition itself runs 14 July - 9 September. Please fit in a visit during that time if you can. 'A good day’ is also available for purchase. Let me know if you are interested.
Back too is my desire to connect more with my readers, other artists and patrons. To this end I am taking up writing these posts again and added to that I’m making a weekly studio video. I shared the first one last Sunday on Facebook. The next one will go out tomorrow. Don’t like Facebook? I’ve created a YouTube channel where you can find the videos. Or you can rely on these blog posts coming to you via email. I’ll include a link to them here too.
Future posts won’t be this long! I’ve had quite a lot to catch up on with this one. Where ever you are I hope you are having a lovely weekend. Winter in Australia is giving us ridiculously summer-like weather at present. It’s wonderful!
They were all looking at me, everyone of them, and they were already judging me. They knew on my past performance that this was going to be a big lead balloon, that I wouldn’t get it happening and that if I did it was going to be my biggest failure yet. I waited for some sign, some indication that even one of them was on my side. Not a sound. Not a wink. Not even one of them. They waited, my next step already firmly a failure in their minds. I watched and waited, poised to begin, even though no one was there. Even though I was alone.
We hear a lot about our Inner Critic and how to deal with them, that voice that tells us that we are no good, what we are making is no good and that we never will be any good. But what about our inner silent crowd? I have one. The crowd that never says a word but lives in humungous numbers in our minds - our ‘audience’. Like our inner critics, our Inner Audience does us no good at all.
Unlike our inner critic, our Inner Audience says nothing at all, they are always silent. But the expression on the their faces is as clear as the Inner Critics voice ever is - their faces say it all. The are shocked, disapproving, verging on disgusted, but the worst is that they are disappointed. Disappointed in my work and in me. They undermine me. They sap my confidence and my will continue creating. They make me want to hide under a blanket and lose myself in a good book (someone else’s creation that passed the test of the Inner Audience!).
My Inner Audience shows it’s huge silent heads when I put something ‘out there’. They are the imaginary friends my inner critic brings along. Recently I’ve been putting myself ‘out there’ and as I have my Inner Audience has grown. I recently launched Creating for Happiness, a free online program designed to build the habit of a daily creative practice. At the time of launch my Inner Audience knew for certain that what I was doing was going to fail, that instead of helping people I could harm them, but mostly that it was just plain wrong. I knew what they thought was that I should just crawl back to where I came from and keep everyone happy that way!
Why do we do this to ourselves? I guess, like all our unconscious programming seems to, it harks back to our hunter gather days when we needed to be fully aware of how we appeared to our community so we didn’t make mistakes that led to us being lost or outcast. Not useful when you are an artist creating in the 21st century!
For most of my life I’ve responded to this Inner Audience as though they truly represented my audience. I held exhibitions where only a few pieces sold. My Inner Audience had predicted this - I had seen it on their faces. ("We told you so!" their faces said.) I wrote blogs which had a lovely small readership which I stopped writing (My Inner Audience knew no one wanted to hear any of that). I shared and shared and shared on social media and the big crowds just didn’t show up. Or I thought they didn’t, was it just that my Inner Audience was so enormous they made the rest of us look small? My Inner Audience didn’t buy my work, read my blog or like my posts because they knew my creations were all failures. I was not a winner. I never would be. I probably should just give up. And they were very very disappointed in me.
Now I realise my Inner Audience is as harmful as my Inner Critic. I managed to banish my Inner Critic a while back. Did getting rid of him (my Inner Critic is male) allow him to morph and mutate into my Inner Audience? I don’t really think so. He was perhaps their spokesman, but they were always there. I’ll banish my Inner Audience too. I’m onto their game. I have developed a few strategies to fight my Inner Audience. Maybe you could try these when you feel judged by a crowd of people who simply aren’t there.
I have a firm idea of what it is I want and why I want it. I keep this nearby so I can refer to it when I’m feeling watched by my Inner Audience.
I recognise my Inner Audience for what it really is, an over protective parent who just wants to keep me safe from humiliation and public failure by enacting it beforehand. I thank them for their time and concern and assure them that I will survive even though I might be afraid.
I’m using the phrase that helped me banish my inner critic - “I’m better than that.” They get confused looks on their faces when I tell them that but they’re getting used to it!
I’m painting it out. I think any kind of creating will help too. I express the way they make me feel with paint and in the end see that there is something of value there, it’s not only the harsh judgement I thought it was. There is creative fuel there too.
I watch them when something good happens, when I sell a painting, when I get a grateful email from a Creating for Happiness participant and when people respond positively to what I’m putting ‘out there’. You’d think they’d show the opposite of disappointment, but they don’t. They disappear in a puff of I-don’t-belong-here smoke!
Being creative is usually an isolating activity. We work alone but we are never really alone in our minds. We have an Inner Audience. A big part of the creative process is showing others what you have made and putting yourself out there. So I did. I put myself out there and launched Creating for Happiness on January 1 this year. There was no cheer from my Inner Audience, no pat on the back or flowers from even one of them, as you would expect. In fact, they disappeared into a back room in my mind to regroup and reformulate their attack for the very next day, to stop me from continuing. What charmers they are!
I am creative being and I will share that no matter how big and judgey my Inner Audience becomes. Putting myself out there is always uncomfortable, scary and feels untethered, but I’m going to keep doing it.
Join Creating for Happiness now and get daily assistance with issues of creativity, get creating daily and build a sustainable creative practice.
"Midnight morning", original mixed media painting by Jan AllsoppThis painting recently sold. Make sure to let me know if you are interested in a particular work so you don't miss out!
"Happy Whoompaduper" and why "Happy New Year" makes you feel like a failure
January 12, 2018
I spend New Year’s Eve with the same people every year. It’s become a tradition. In the week leading up to it excitement builds even though we know how the evening will go, who will be there, and dare I say it, what we will talk about. We always have such a great time.
What we don’t talk about though, is our plans and goals for 2018. There might be a quick discussion about New Year’s resolutions but mostly now we don’t bother, knowing full well that they don’t last and making them will just bring disappointment in ourselves later. I don’t want you to think that either me or my friends aren’t supportive. If we did speak of our dreams and goals we would support each other absolutely. But we don’t speak of them.
There should be a special name for the time from about 11:30pm New Year’s Eve until about 2am on New Year’s Eve. One that incorporates the sense of relief that the past has finally been let go, and the sense of huge potential for a bold and positively targeted year ahead. Maybe “whoompaduper”? But I digress.
Some time between going home from the party and waking up the next day whoompaduper evaporates. New Year’s Day appears mellow. We fall into reminiscence. We dabble with the idea of a resolution again but let that go. Some times we think “maybe I should plan” but often we forget to think even that.
The reason we are so reluctant to plan is that we will fail. Again. The reason we fail is because good habits are hard to create and very easy to let go. (How cruel is the irony that bad habits are easy to create and hard to let go!)
Habit research tells us that the best way to form a new habit that sticks is to do it in small chunks. For example if you want to exercise every morning, you set your goal at doing some exercise for 30 seconds. You have to do the 30 seconds, but you can stop after that if you like.
If, on New Years Day, we reflected on what single 30 second habit could we build in 2018, then we might have had a happier, less empty time of it.
Even knowing this, habit building is difficult. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had someone, a habit trainer, who was with us every time we thought about skipping our new habit! As this was something I had always wanted for myself, I kept that in mind when building the Creating for Happiness program I launched on January 1 this year.
If, on New Years Day you wished for more creativity or happiness in your life in 2018, then Creating for Happiness is for you! Through the program you will build a daily creative practice and keep it going and you will find a general upswing in your mood too. You will be supported and yes, I will be with you every day, helping you keep your new habit.
We have so many people creating already and from all over the planet. The Creating for Happiness group includes people knitting, sewing, writing, constructing, painting and sketching. The program is suitable for any type of creating you can think of.
Here’s what people are already saying about Creating for Happiness and it’s less than 2 weeks old!
There is such energy in being in our "collective" knowing that so many people are creating every day! I'm a huge believer in the freedom of discipline, picking one thing and going deeper, and having accountability along with happiness. I loved Finding Your Because exercise! Another way to do value clarifications - and the ROUTE & CRUISE CONTROL being an invitation to pick one thing and go deeper - and setting up my environment to make it as easy as possible. (I call this environmental design.) Deena Haynes
This is great. It gives me permission to expect to be happy. Judith Ely
I’m glad I found the light for Creating for Happiness! I’m enjoying this so much. Thanks Jan for bringing this to my life. Melissa Murphy
I love your guidebook - I got some really good tips from it! You have put a lot of work into this program. LB
Thanks Jan for your generous idea of 'Creating for Happiness' and everyone for the inspiring posts and images. Kim Thompson
Thank you so much for putting in all the work for this, it is just what I need. Lynne Porter
You can join in too and have a truly Happy New Year! Read more about the program and sign up now. It’s time for more creativity in your life and it’s always time for more happiness. I will love having you with us. The January session is still going. Jump in now!
The photo above is of one of my Creating for Happiness pages drying in the sun. You don't have to paint though. Creating for Happiness is great for any kind of creating.
A practice of practicing
Did you read What is Creating for Happiness last week? It’s a busy time of year I know. Check it out if you missed it. Creating for Happiness is a new free creativity program that I’m launching 1 January 2018. The short description is that it’s a program to help you create something every day during your Creating for Happiness practice time.
A lot of work has gone into making the Creating for Happiness program. I love knowing how things work and come together. I thought today I’d explain what is meant by ‘creative practice’. If that sounds a bit too serious for your liking all you need to keep in mind is that doing Creating for Happiness practice each day is dedicated play time. Play is joyful and brings happiness. If that’s all you need to know then there is no reason to read on! If, like me, you like the nuts and bolts bits then the rest of this post is for you.
What is a daily creative practice?
For the purposes of Creating for Happiness, our daily practice is a commitment to making some kind of art daily. No matter what. It is time where we explore art making while withholding judgement of it. Time where we listen to ourselves, noting the negative self talk, acknowledging it and letting it go, and replacing it with the silence that our true thoughts, desires and preferences can speak into. Our creative practice is the time we grow our creative expression. Creating for Happiness sees this daily practice as outside of what we call normal creating. Normal creating is what you were already doing before Creating for Happiness.
Why do we think of Creating for Happiness practice as different?
The reason lies in our busy days, nights and lives. So many of us are so busy and distracted and we use our creating to bring pleasure and something different into our lives. And those of us who work with our creating and get paid for it are often pulled in creative directions not necessarily of our choosing. Market forces and economic necessities impose on all but the most successful of artists, and even then, they can make a dent.
Creating for Happiness is a dedicated time for practice, play and discovery!
Imagine you have you have a whole day freed up for creative work. You’ll no doubt have an idea what you will do. On the day you more or less do what you had thought you would. Great! This creative work is very important to you and for good reason.
Now imagine you take the first 15 mins or so of your creative time and do Creating for Happiness practice first, as you’ve been doing these last few days, before you get on with the rest of your creative agenda. You’ve been chasing a direction from your cruise control list these last few days. Your not sure where it’s going but you’re enjoying the ride. At the end of the allocated time you pack that away and get on with your main creative activity for the day. During that creating an idea pops into your head - it’s the idea you’ve been thinking about from Creating for Happiness practice, even though you didn’t know you were thinking about it. It’s a breakthrough! It’s exciting!
That’s great but lets rewind and imagine the whole day freed up for creative work again from the beginning. You begin with your Creating for Happiness practice. Done and packed away you begin your other creating, your normal creating. Someone pops in to ask you a question, your phone rings (maybe you need to turn that off?), someone NEEDS you to do something right now. We all know how this day ends. Not much creating gets done. It is hard to prioritise our own creativity above other responsibilities. In an ideal world we would follow the advice of the gurus and prioritise that way, but in the real world we know it is hard and not always doable.
But on this day you have created! You did do your Creating for Happiness practice. By committing to prioritising 15 or so minutes above other most other responsibilities you can, you will, create every day. It is possible to prioritise a short amount of time above other demands.
Why create every day?
There is a whole discussion of the link between happiness and creativity to come. I’ll post about that soon. Ignoring happiness for now, (now there’s a phrase I never thought I’d need!) we come down to quantity vs quality. The old adage “practice makes perfect” is true and there’s scientific proof believe it or not. This article has a telling quote from Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland and a fabulous short video on the creative process that eloquently explains why quantity beats quality by subversion, with quantity bringing quality hand in hand with it.
If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands 🎶
If Creating for Happiness sounds like something you could enjoy there is more information on the Creating for Happiness page. It’s free. It’s creative. It’s doable. And it’s happy. Join now.
The photos above are detail shots of abstract paintings in progress.
Dear patient reader!
While things around here may have been looking quiet I can assure you they have been nothing of the sort! My nose has been to the grind stone and look what I’ve made! Creating for Happiness is a brand new online program to get you creating daily and keep going with it. I’m so proud of this program. I’ve been working on it for a long time and now it’s time to share what’s it all about.
How did Creating for Happiness program come about?
Once I had the idea for this program I realised if it had been available to me a few years back I would have jumped at the chance of doing it! So from that moment on I decided to build the perfect program for my in-the-past-me.
I know I’m not the only one who has wanted support in creating every day. Doing anything daily is a real battle at times, especially if you’re not someone who loves routine. I’m still not a routine lover but a few simple tweaks and I turned into someone who creates every day, no matter what. Just what I’d always wanted!
The name Creating for Happiness came from a hybrid of this idea and a drawing class I ran a few years ago called Drawing for Happiness. The class was all about letting go of preconceived ideas around your drawing ability and just getting on with it. I didn’t really teach drawing so much as facilitate the participants drawing. And that’s how Creating for Happiness will run too. You can apply it to any type of creative pursuit irrespective of what level you are at, beginner to professional. If you want to create daily, Creating for Happiness will help you do it.
The happiness part of Creating for Happiness is intrinsic with creating. Creating for Happiness doesn't exactly supply happiness during the program (although we do supply information about it and the occasional trick to do), the happiness is a natural result of creating in a mindful way. Putting Happiness in the name of the program is a great reminder for us all on what to focus on around our creativity. It’s so easy to be critical of our creations, but not often helpful to them or us. Creating for Happiness program covers this too.
What is the Creating for Happiness program?
Creating for Happiness has several aspects. You start by downloading the Guidebook when you sign up. It leads you through preparing to start when the program launches January 1, 2018. The main aspect of Creating for Happiness is the daily emails. These begin New Year’s Day and work as a reminder to do 15 minutes or so of creating each day. These short emails also include information, tips, brain tricks or inspiration for you to consider that day. All this is designed to be motivating and lead you to the understanding that you CAN do it daily. (If I can, anyone can!) And it’s all free!
What makes me the expert?
Years of failing to maintain a consistent creative practice make me the expert! Years of longing for the bliss creating brought when I was a child sitting on the hot concrete path behind my house making bunny disguises. Years of not following through on fabulous creative ideas. Years of relying on the creative skills I already had and not expanding them because I "didn’t have time”. I think for me that the crux of the matter really is the 'not having time' mindset. So destructive. So unhelpful.
Over the last few years I’ve taken steps that have gradually reversed all of this. I am now a happy creative person who creates every day. Woo hoo! I can recognise a destructive mindset at 20 paces and know how to shoot it down. I’m able to follow my creative ideas through as much as one can - sometimes they trick us and take us down a circuitous route! But at least I’m aware of it now. And did I say I was happy? Yes.
There are a few other aspects of the Creating for Happiness program that I haven’t mentioned here, like the monthly Journey Sparks to help you grow as the months go by, but this is the main outline. The rest is all in the Guidebook and the emails. I truly hope you will join in! It’s going to be great! To sign up now or read more about Creating for Happiness click here. Got questions? Pop them in the comments below and I’ll let you know the answers. What do you think? Let me know that too please.
This is Theatrical Bits, a recently finished small work. I love the, well, theatricality of it! Well, that's how it looks to me anyway. What do you see?
Have a Happy day!
Do you dabble in sketchbooks? I do and I’ve noticed a distinct difference in my style there - free, loose, instinctive - to my larger works on wood panels - more considered and detailed. I know of some other artists who have this very same issue and while we have discussed ways of moving our art out from our sketchbooks and into larger works, we’ve not come up with a definitive answer - or hadn’t until I found the way this week!
The solution was in the problem. I ‘dabble’ in sketchbooks. Recently I committed to a daily practice in my sketchbooks. Presently I have a day job that takes up a lot of my time and so there were lots of days I just didn’t do anything with paint. I wanted the benefits of a daily practice while still working at an outside job, so I committed to it.
I have been doing a spread a day in my tiny sketchbook. It doesn’t sound like much but it has made such a huge difference in many ways, and it allowed me to finally move my looseness onto a bigger board or two! Yay!
Here are sketchbook pages I recently did. I like to limit myself within my daily practice, it makes it so much easier. No decisions to make when all I have is 5 minutes, I can just turn up and do. These pages are from my ‘yellow oxide’ days - I committed to 10 days of yellow oxide, black and white paint only. Not long before I’d got some new-to-me solid markers, so decided to test them out as well, to see how the paint reacted with them. Simple. Three colours and a couple of markers.
Well wouldn’t you know, after stopping dabbling and committing, within a very short time my sketchbook style appeared in a new series of four paintings! It was so easy! I didn’t even think about it; it just happened.
I think the main reason it was easy and doable finally was not only because of my daily practice but because I made a small size transition as well. These paintings are small also, only 30cm square (12” x 12”). And they are gorgeous! The richness of the yellow oxide gleams through.
I’ve included a lot of collage in these, in fact they are pretty much covered with old workbook pages, brochures, packaging, lists and diagrams that I found when converting my Dad’s workshop/Mum’s storage room into my studio.
I’ve also taken the solid markers out of the sketchbook and onto the boards too as I just love the way it interacts with the paint, sometimes peaking through, sometimes shouting in fluro! There are other marks made with pencils there too. It all builds - I want to say ‘a memory’, but really it is so much more - a remembered era, my upbringing, hence the titles. If there is one aspect of art making that I enjoy more than anything else it is the transferring of non-language ideas, experiences and emotions.
I hope you enjoy Upbringing I, II, III & IV as much as I do. They are all available separately or as a group of 4 (if you get in quick). Just email me from my contact page or text or phone, the number is also on my contact page.
Once again, thank you for supporting my creative journey. Have a happy day!
Why do I think I have something to share that might help? Well someone called me wise and it got me to thinking…
This is part of an ongoing series of blog posts. Here are the links to earlier posts: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.
16. Choose every day. Design your life, choose good things and people. Limiting beliefs makes you think you are stuck. It’s not true, there are always other options. Perhaps you don’t take those other options because the thing you’re committed to is the best option. Re-choose your commitments every day. You will appreciate them so much more.
17. Problems are an opportunity for creative thinking. Creative thinking is thinking to specifically come up with new ideas. Not only will creative thinking increase your chance of solving your problem but it will also boost your personal creativity.
18. Get lost - in your work/play/plans. Getting lost - or being in flow - opens you up to a whole new way of thinking. Fuel your enthusiasm with inspiration and dive in.
19. Accept that life is not fair. Artists know all about this because art is subjective and yet it gets judged at every turn. Better still, don’t even think about it. Thinking about unfair situations is a way of comparing yourself to others. Immerse yourself in being you, and doing what you do. I guarantee you will be happier.
20. Make until you can create. (My version of “fake it until you make it”.) Copy it, borrow ideas, follow step-by-step instructions, whatever it takes to get you started on your dream. Once you know how you can let your unique personality take over. Remember artists often learn by copying the masters.
Feeling brave? Share your story, adventure, creation, personal style with me – please! Comment below 🙂
I hope you are enjoying this series of Life Lessons and Artist Can Teach You. If you are please share it with your friends. And as always, thanks so much for supporting my art.
The first 4 images are details of my recent painting "OEB". The last image is the complete painting. It's a small one at just 30cm x 30cm (12" x 12"). If you have any comments or are interested in purchasing this or any of my paintings, please let me know through the Contact page. You will also find links to my Instagram and Facebook pages there. Please follow me.
Woo hoo! It’s the first day of Spring! I’m excited. Not that I hate Winter, I’m just over it. Completely. I’m a natural hibernator and while I don’t mind a good hibernation at times, I’m ready to come out of my cave. Well and truly.
Even hibernators learn during their hibernations though, or I did.
Australia has had it’s worst flu season on record and I was one of the masses who caught it. Many days out of regular life sounds like a bonus, but it’s not! Coming back to the real world, the real studio, is the start of another period of illness, the mental kind.
It’s always a difficult time, beginning painting again after a break. I used to forget the knowledge that I can paint. I felt like a beginner all over again, again and again. I eventually trained myself to ignore that and just assume I still could. Took years but I got there. That wasn’t my problem this time.
A complete loss of confidence accompanied with anxiety and, yes, I think I was a little depressed too, was my lot returning to the studio this time. Previously, painting healed me almost instantly. This time it took a couple of weeks for painting to do it’s stuff. During those weeks I struggled with toxic thoughts of giving it all up, how bad my work really was, how no one would ever want to look at it let alone buy it… etc etc. I think you can imagine. (Interestingly starting a course of probiotics fixed the anxiety almost instantly!)
I won’t dwell on the bad any longer. It was bad. A few internet friends supported me through it. Thank you! And I persevered.
And that is what I learned. To persevere, to stick with it, no matter what.
To say perseverance is not my strong point is understating it by a mile! I read about it, I plan to embody it, but I’m a natural giver-upper-er. I was shocked at myself the first time I watched the movie Gravity; the number of times I thought “OK, now that’s it! She can’t do anything” was amazing. Over and over I expected Sandra Bullock to give up and I was shocked when she didn’t. That’s when I realised I had a real problem with perseverance.
But now I know if you preserver with perseverance, you get there!
For those with perseverance issues I recommend you try Julia Bickerstaff’s 100 Day Goal program. The current 100 days starts today. It’s a fantastic program. I paid to get the extra BOOST help and while it’s not necessary to do that, I do recommend it too. This will be my second round of 100 Day Goal. Technically I failed the first time, not achieving my actual goal, however you can see I learnt a lot!
Now I’d like to introduce you to the healing artwork! There were other nurses along the way, but this one did the trick. It’s called ‘Bean bag’ and tell me you didn’t have a bean bag like this way back when they were design-must-haves!
Have a happy day!
* Do you remember happenings, those weird and wonderful pieces of conceptual performance art that made it onto the nightly news during the 1960’s and 70’s? Just typing the heading here reminded me I was once in a happening in the mid 70’s in Martin Place, Sydney with a bunch of other exuberant teens. What fun it was. I thought I’d arrived!
The happenings in my studio of late have been much more solitary but no less conceptual. I love concepts in art. For me that is where the juice comes from. I love that art can convey what words can’t quite muster.
My paintings in this time and place are all about this place in another time, my youth and young adulthood set in the golden glow of memory right here, in my beach house. But in truth, it’s not quite that simple, of course. I don’t know about you but my memories are not linear or even interesting half the time. They are snatches of this and that, memories from different times triggering memories from other times. It’s more like a light show in a 80’s disco than a line by line story in a book. A pop of purple funky curtains followed by a leaking dribble of orange cordial dripping down my arm from my Sunny Boy ice block, not connected but they add up to… the vibe of the thing.
Dripping Tetrahedron was inspired by the pyramid shaped icy blocks Sunny Boys and other similarly uninteresting memories. But combined into an artwork they become totally interesting, engaging and even inspiring, or they do to me. What do you think? Are you picking up on my ‘vibe’?
New gallery - Panoply
Several of my paintings are available through Panoply online gallery, both as originals and canvas prints in various sizes. Talk about an easy way to shop! You can even use ‘After Pay’ which is a bit like a lay-by you get to take home straight away. And the site now has international shipping. So until I manage to corral my Gallery page here - I’m trying and it will be better soon! - Panoply is a great way to go about covering your walls with retro-vibe paintings by moi.
Newsletter? What newsletter?
Yes, good question. I did a little pre-newsletter promo-ing only to discover another big glitch in my website - my newsletter sign up form is not really functioning. I’m working on it too. All this takes so much time and to be totally truthful - I’d rather be painting! So if you are waiting on my much touted newsletter I suggest you don’t hold your breath. Give me a week or two and I’ll try to surprise you with something worth the wait!!!
As always, if you have any questions just jump onto the comments here or contact me through my contact page. I’m always happy to chat.
Why do I think I have something to share that might help? Well someone called me wise and it got me to thinking... Third part of the ongoing blog series. You can see Part 1 here and Part 2 here.
11. Learn from those who came before. Read biographies, the classics - and look at art.
12. Be present. Look to see the small details in your day. There are rich rewards there. Artists are always looking for the little gems hidden in our everyday and in their work. It is these small surprises that lead us in the right direction for our art practice. Notice what you love.
13. Never say “I can’t (draw) (do it) (cope)”. Our brains are wired to make our words true. Saying it is a sure way to make it so. Artists are constantly pushing their abilities and stepping out of their comfort zone. Struggle is good. It’s how “new” is born.
14. Share. True joy comes from sharing, even when we lack confidence. Share your stories, adventures, achievements. They inspire others and help confirm to yourself that you did it and that you are capable of doing it again, or doing more. Sharing your stories before you feel you are ready might very well encourage someone else to start on their own story journey. Plus it will give you added confidence to continue on when you get encouraging feedback... feedback is usually good; if it's not, make a mental note not to share with that person again and remember their negativity is theirs, not something you need to take on.
15. Find your own style. Don’t be afraid to be you. It will be the best decision you ever made. No one will care. They’re all worrying about what people are thinking of them! Being uniquely yourself will get you noticed. Carry it with confidence (fake it until you make it) and before you know it you’ll be the cool one, the different one that others are wondering if they should be like. We were all born unique, now let's live up to that!
Until next time, I hope you are having a wonderful week! Feeling brave? Share your story, adventure, creation, personal style with me - please! Comment below 🙂
I hope your New Year is going well. Mine is too, although I feel like it has just started. Traditionally my New Year falls as late as March and as early as the last week in January, but never on January 1st. While my year ends on December 31, I seem to need a period of hiatus, a time to let the previous year settle in my mind and for my vision, even a glimpse really, to form and coalesce into something I think I can step into, my New Year.
♦I can use painting as a metaphor for this process if you like. First I lay down colours randomly.
♥Then I try to organise them.
♣Then I realise there is way too much colour! I need to edit.
♠Editing involves deciding what to keep and what to say goodbye to.
♦Keeping involves building a community of like minded marks, shapes and textures.
♥There’s always the ring-in, the one that stands out like …
♣That makes me realise I’ve lost almost all my colour! And my shades, my lights and darks. Everything has become the “middle”.
♠With a clearer direction in mind now, I add colour again, with discretion.
♦I remove some of my edits to reveal hidden colour and depths.
♥Surprising ideas come to me and I act on them, adding …
♣As the painting is nearing completion I find the changes needed are smaller and smaller. Finessing really.
♠I’m often surprised again at this point. Surprised that I have created this beautiful thing that has managed to come together in the end.
♦I keep surprising myself by adding a couple more touches to it.
♥It’s finished. “Yes,” I think.
I’ve always quite liked being a late bloomer - once I was out of my teens that is. It has meant I come at things with a different perspective, well that’s what I tell myself! I once did the Myers Briggs personality test and my type is “highly reflective”. No wonder I’m a late bloomer. I need longer to think, to reflect, to feel ready to bound on in to something as good as … a new year.
It is my guess I will miss posting in January next year too - unless I get good as writing in advance and scheduling. But that will take some thinking on.
Any other life-long late bloomers out there?
The photos in this blog post are from a painting that I'm working on at the moment. It's not finished but it's starting to be really interesting. I'll share it when it's finished.
This is Part 2 of an ongoing series that came about when someone called me wise. I wondered if it was because I'm an artist and we have to deal with these things every day. See Part 1 here.
6. Think big, dream big and go for it! I spent a lot of time reading inspirational quotes like “Just do it!” and wondering “but how?” Truthfully, you won’t ever know how until you begin, come up against something that tricks you and you have to work it out. Just don’t let those little tricks and trip-ups stop you.
7. Learn to “eat the elephant”. Have you heard that phrase before? Q: “How do you eat an elephant?” A: “One bite at at time.” When we have big goals and we start to work towards them it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, but if you keep the elephant in mind you’ll be making progress. Break your big goals down into steps. (Remember even these steps you come up with don’t have to be perfect! You can always adjust them later. They are a place to begin.) Next work out what is the next action you can take. It’s that simple. Every time you complete an action ask yourself “What is the next action I need to take to progress towards my goal?” Take that action. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat...
8. Colour outside the lines - exceed the common boundaries. Boundaries are just a form of limiting beliefs. I used to think I was bad at art because some of my colouring in would stray outside the lines. (It still does!) Life is full of these lines - boundaries, rules, protocols and even niceties. Now I’m not suggesting you stop being nice, but sometimes when you are being true to yourself, it means saying “No” instead of “Yes” and ignoring some of the rules.
9. Learn the rules so you can break them in a considered way. It’s a common thing to be told during an art education that "you need to know the rules - then you can break them”. That’s what great art, art that moves you, confounds you, takes your breath away is - art that breaks the rules. This applies to other areas of life too. Cooking - want to add balsamic vinegar to that? Go ahead! Holidays - want to go somewhere extreme? Go ahead! Business - want to make a unique mark on the business world? Go ahead! However, all of these examples could end up horribly wrong - if you don’t know the rules or conventions for that area or field. Once you do, don’t forget to have a go at breaking the rules in a constructive and creative way.
10. Be accepting when you change your mind. It’s creative editing. I used to be horrified if I let a big goal or new commitment go. "Why am I such a flake? I’m a fraud.” The truth is I’m not a flakey fraud (so there!) What I am is human. Sometimes you find out that what you thought you wanted, isn’t actually right for you. Conversely, sometimes we find out we aren’t meant for whatever it was. We change our minds as we progress through life. Actually it would be strange if we didn’t. How can we know everything, every step when we begin? We can’t and what we learn along the way means we need to change our minds from time to time.
I hope you are enjoying this series. Part 3 will be along in a couple of weeks. The photos in this post are all from my studio, including the old butcher's porcelain pigs head. I'll show you more of my studio soon too. Have a great week!
A pale artist's guide to enjoying the beach (number 4 is my favourite!)
December 13, 2016
A day at the beach is something we dream about for half of the year but have you ever come home and thought "well that could have been better?" Sunburn, blue bottle stings and believe it or not, boredom are some of the regrets we can have if we don't pay attention to the signs and do something about it. I've come up with a simple list of 5 things to make a beach visit perfect, unhampered... and creative.
I feel the heat. It impacts me so much that I don't really enjoy being in the sun. It's all thanks to a teenage dalliance with ignoring my fair skin that resulted in sun stroke that layed me flat for days. I've never enjoyed the sun since. A bit sad but I have found ways of enjoying the beach all the same.
1. Forget the hat, carry an umbrella
Hats are hot and only shade half your face. I have an umbrella designed for both the sun and the rain. It casts a large shadow over me and allows the sea breeze to weave its wonderful cooling way around me, including my head. I love it. Mine has a reflective surface on the top and a pretty Japanese floral on the inside. I can't recommend it highly enough. Carry it with you everywhere while at the beach, except in the water - I don't recommend swimming with it!
2. Sunscreen up before you leave home
Sunscreens take 30 minutes to bond with your skin and become effective so don't make the mistake of applying it when you get to the beach. You'll save yourself the inevitable sand mixed in and rubbed where you don't want it too if you apply it before you leave home and a sunburn surprise.
3. Walk along the tide line
Have you ever had a blue bottle sting? Awh awh awh awwwhhh! Believe me you don't want that cutting your beach day short. You know that 'line' above the where the waves run out, where the bubbles collect, along with bits of seaweed, shells and pebbles. Well, take a stroll along it and look for evidence of bluebottles. If bluebottles are in the water, some of them will have collected there too. I walk a hundred meters or so in either direction just to make sure. No bluebottles, then I feel safe to get in the water.
4. Take a break from the breakers and explore
We all know the swimming is why we go to the beach. It's cool, refreshing and relaxing. But don't let it be the only highlight. Explore the rocks at the end of the beach and the tide line as you walk there. Collect bits of flotsam, shells, beach stones and coral and keep them for the next key step. Once at the rocks, slow down and look. Fish, anemones, crabs will show themselves if you are still and quiet. The rocks too have colours and textures that are beautiful. Remember when you were a kid exploring rockpools? Emulate that childlike behaviour and let yourself become fascinated again.
5. Make something
Remember when a beach visit meant buckets, spades and building sandcastles? Well I'm not going to suggest you do that again unless you particularly want to or have kids to play with. Those bits and pieces you collected however, play with those. Arrange, juxtapose, stack, layer. Create a little bit of natural art. Keep moving things until you like the look of it. Take a photo with your phone if you brought it, or bring them home with you to extend the fun and photograph your #flotsamlove arrangement there. Please share them on Instagram and use the hashtag so I can see them too.
The best beach visits are simple. Don't take too much with you but do make sure you have a collecting bag or big pockets. And don't stop looking around on the way home. I found some flannel flowers. What did you find?
I want to show you glimpses into my studio and my process and today I am sharing a video I made of me painting a sketchbook spread.
The page took under an hour to paint. I'm using gouache in a hand•book journal. I start the same way as I do on my larger works, without a specific idea. As you will see the painting slowly comes together - well, not so slowly - I've made it with time-lapse so it all happens in less than 2 minutes. Enjoy.
What other studio-type things would you like to see? Please let me know in the comments and I’ll see what I can do. Any questions? Just ask.
A page from my sketchbook / artists journal
Recently someone called me wise. It was a surprise.
Of course some Friday nights, surrounded by friends and with a wine glass in my hand, I do feel very wise and like to share that wisdom!
But the comment got me thinking. Maybe it’s because I’m an artist and artists only have themselves to rely on, they have to work it out?
So I’ve come up with a list of things I’ve learned. I can assure you these didn’t come naturally but I have integrated them into my art practice and my life. These lessons can easily be applied to anything and anyone. As it’s quite a lengthy list, I’ve decided to make it a weekly series.
Do it. If you want to achieve something then you need to take an action that brings it closer - every day. A small action is definitely OK. In fact a small action is preferable. If we are looking down the barrel of a large task we are more likely to put it off.
Always strive to do your best, just like your parents told you, it will set you apart from the herd. For me, this means that I work with the idea that each painting will be of the highest standard but it's equally important with everything we do.
But don’t let perfectionism tie you down. Don’t get bogged down in the details. Keep the big picture in mind (pardon the pun). It’s easy to be distracted by the details, they draw our eye and we concentrate our vision on them, excluding all else. It’s like looking at an elephant with a magnifying glass - and gives a similarly accurate view!
Take risks. The best way to learn is by mistakes. I used to be so afraid of mistakes. I needed to be a good artist but I couldn’t always bring myself to paint because… what if it didn’t turn out? Well I took two wrong turns with that one road. Firstly I limited my creativity by not painting and secondly I created work that was so tight and desperate to please it was hard to like. Now making mistakes has brought me to being able to create freely. It works with all new things we try. Please make mistakes.
But don’t call them “mistakes”. They are learning opportunities. Part of why we don’t like making them is because of the word “mistakes”. My most hated mistakes were on the piano. My teacher (blue rinse set hair and dangerously serious expression) would whack me on the knuckles with a metal edged ruler every time I made a mistake. I’m sure it was fear that helped me make so many mistakes. Fear has its uses but not when it comes to learning. Opportunities to learn from what we are doing is much more healthy.
Watch for more life lessons an artist can teach you next week. In the mean time I'd love to know about your "learning opportunities". Tell me your favourite time you transformed a mistake into a learning experience in the comments below. Thanks![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]