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  • Your Inner Audience
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    The silent crowd that judges me
    January 31, 2018
    [cs_text _order="0"]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! [/cs_text]
  • Abstract painting in greys, white and red
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    What do artists do with their time?
    January 21, 2018
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    "Happy Whoompaduper" and why "Happy New Year" makes you feel like a failure
    January 12, 2018
    [cs_text _order="0"]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 HaynesThis is great. It gives me permission to expect to be happy. Judith ElyI’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 MurphyI love your guidebook - I got some really good tips from it! You have put a lot of work into this program. LBThanks Jan for your generous idea of 'Creating for Happiness' and everyone for the inspiring posts and images. Kim ThompsonThank you so much for putting in all the work for this, it is just what I need. Lynne PorterYou 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.[/cs_text] 
  • 5 abstract paintings in progress
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    Creative practice vs creating
    December 16, 2017
    [cs_text _order="0"]A practice of practicingDid 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. [/cs_text]
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    Big news! What is Creating for Happiness?
    December 13, 2017
    [cs_text _order="0"]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![/cs_text]
  • Blog post header about converting your sketchbook pages into art
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    Effortless sketchbook pages to inspiring art
    September 28, 2017
    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!
  • Detail of original mixed media painting
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    Life lessons an artist can teach you - Part 4
    September 6, 2017
    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.  
  • Indigo and white mixed media diptych
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    Happy Spring! and a tale of Winter
    August 31, 2017
    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!
  • Mixed media abstract painting in blues and greens
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    Studio happenings*
    May 31, 2017
    * 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. https://youtu.be/wJuXIq7OazQ 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.
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    Life lessons an artist can teach you - Part 3
    March 22, 2017
    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 🙂
  • Painting detail - work in progress
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    Happy New Year from a life-long late bloomer
    February 22, 2017
    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.
  • Old butcher's porcelain pigs head and "Go" sign in my studio
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    Life lessons an artist can teach you - Part 2
    December 15, 2016
    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!
  • Looking down on a secluded beach
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    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?
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    Painting in my sketchbook - a video
    December 1, 2016
    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.
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    Life lessons an artist can teach you - Part 1
    November 27, 2016
    [vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text] 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]