Creative Connections

“The thing we don’t have enough of is we don’t have enough connection – we’re lonely – and we don’t have enough time. And if people can offer us connection and meaning and a place where we can be our best selves, yes, we will seek that out. No, it probably doesn’t help you build a big, profitable public company, but yes, it helps you make a better difference to the community that you have chosen to live in.”
– Seth Godin

Creative connections - stacked stone sculpture

Creative connections – stacked stone sculpture

I have been feeling this lately… a deep desire for community and connection. When I first heard these words (spoken in an interview on Krista Tippett’s podcast, On Being), they spoke directly to my heart and shone a light on the work I feel passionately about.

So many of us are always in a rush, passing each other by on the school run, a fleeting, “How are you?” thrown to the wind as we dash off to our next commitment. There seems to be so little time to stop and hear the answer, or really share how we are feeling. It is all too easy to lose ourselves and to lose our connection with each other as we put jobs and kids first and our own needs and desires second. Being and artist or writer, or a stay at home Mum can be a lonely occupation and we all need to feel connected – it is vital to our wellbeing.

In all of the creative workshops I have run in the past few years, connection is one of the aspects people value the most. In talking about our ideas and our inspirations, our challenges and successes, we can deeper connect with those around us. Creating side by side and collaborating too are some of the most joyful activities we can engage in.

This week, my boys discovered an app with which they can make stop motion films on their mobile phones and the item that has long been the cause of disconnection has brought them closer together as they collaborated on small movies, drawing scenes on a white board, photographing each one and rolling them together into a mini movie. Tonight, small boy and I made one – me on the camera and he moving teddies slowly across the blanket that was our green screen.

In the Summer, my partner and his son worked together on a small and spontaneous project on the beach, gathering stones and carefully balancing them to create a stacked stone sculpture. It was a thing of beauty to witness… the connection between the two of them as they puzzled it out, piece by piece.

A couple of years ago, a friend and I rented a studio space together for a period of six months on Mondays. This was our time; our space. We showed up each week with a variety of materials and no particular idea of what we would create, but knowing that this was a little window in the week when we could be our best selves, free from all distractions, make art, drink tea and connect. It was bliss. We drew, we painted and we talked – deeply.

I know that you need time out too… time away from your busy daily routine; time to step back from responsibilities and commitments to others and do something for yourself. I know that I am a calmer, happier Mum and more focused in my work when I have taken time out to recharge.

This time of year, as the nights draw in, has long been the season when I feel the need to join a course and start creating. Perhaps it’s my way of bringing light to darker days – just as the brightest items of my wardrobe are worn on the greyest of days. It is also about connection… meeting people and creating together. I have taken courses in photography and massage, clay sculpture from life and so many others… there are so many courses and options out there. Many galleries also offer courses and creative evenings. The weekly Drop-In-Drawing classes at the National Portrait Gallery in London as part of their Late Shift programme are brilliant and cost nothing!

This year, with my new expanded space here at home, I am feeling the urge to invite more creativity and connection into my own community. If you live in North London or within travelling distance, I would like to to offer you a place to come, create and connect, starting this coming Wednesday. I would like my newly extended home to be a space in which you can be your best self and find meaning. In her wonderful book, The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown says, “If we want to make meaning, we need to make art.” This is your invitation.

There will be tea, coffee and materials you can use to draw and paint and make things.

When I ran classes here at home a few years back, my son loved it… even from his bed. “I love it when your friends come over Mum” he would tell me, “I can hear you laughing.” It’s the simplest things that connect us. Our children learn from what they see, more than what we tell them. I want to make tea, make friends, make art and I want the same for everybody. As in all of my courses and classes, I ask people to leave judgement aside – only kind self-talk – there are no mistakes where art is concerned and it is vital to have fun and experiment. Try something new, allow room for things to go wrong, adapt your technique accordingly and create something even better. In Art Club, we love a Happy Accident!

In art classes and daily, in person and on the internet, if you see someone creating something you love, tell them. If you are interested in their techniques, ask them how they do it. Compliments and curiosity can lead to connection.

Of course, I would love to see you here at home next Wednesday. If you can come along, book your place now. If you can’t come this time, please consider how you can facilitate creativity and connection in your community. A box of chalks in the park at the weekend is all it takes to spark a creative conversation.

It’s in the detail

As I shared in my last blog post, I enjoyed time painting and drawing whilst on holiday recently. I showed you paintings of the sea and drawings of the islands, but what I did not share were the little details that caught my eye and captivated me enough to capture them.

Kioni plantlife growing through the wall

Kioni plantlife growing through the wall

On the island of Ithaca, we moored up in Kioni, a beautiful spot with red-roofed houses built into the hillsides and a feeling of creativity in the air… a pottery and jewellery shops seemed right at home here. It was one of those places where you find yourself dreaming of discovering a little gem of a house to renovate and return to each Summer. In high season, we would have been lucky to find a berth, but in October, we managed to get space on the quay, squeezed in between two other yachts. Here, we wandered the back streets of the picturesque village (or town, I was not sure). Few houses here survived the earthquakes of 1953, but a few interesting ones remained and I took photos of the details of some.

The image above was a snap on my phone. I was drawn to the muted, limited colour palette and the variety of textures. A plant I did not recognise had made its home between the cracks of a wall. Back at the boat, I zoomed in on the photo and worked on a little watercolour inspired by the details.

Watercolour inspired by Kioni plantlife

Watercolour inspired by Kioni plantlife

Little leaves shaped like hearts caught my eye on the path, the little spots on their skin echoing the small stones. It’s the little details like this that draw me in.

Heart-shaped leaf

Heart-shaped leaf

An abandoned house, just a few metres from the beach, beckoned me to its door to take a portrait. I loved the reflection of the trees in the glass that remained and the drape of the curtain through the gaps. The colour palette again, pale and sun-faded, with a hint of its vibrant past.

Abandoned house, Kioni

Abandoned house, Kioni

I just know such places have stories to tell… if only we could hear them! Write one for me about this place… go on.

It’s not just on holiday that such things move me. My phone acts as a visual notebook for capturing such moments and memories, in the woods and on the streets.

What catches your eye and inspires you in the everyday that others may just pass by?

Practice, practice, practice…

Me at sea

Me at sea

This time last week, I was on a yacht sailing around the Ionian Islands in Greece. As you can see from the photo above, I was relaxed and at ease… and I don’t always look that calm or feel this way! With the help of my Mum, my brother and my ex-husband, I was able to take a week away from home during school term time, knowing my boys were in safe hands.

My week away felt like at least two and I learned more about sailing in just seven days than I have in the past three years. Many of the things I was previously clueless or hesitant about started to seem natural and my confidence sky-rocketed. It was only last week, getting the sails up every day, asking the stupid questions I had been too embarrassed to ask in front of others and repeating actions regularly, under the supervision of my partner (an experienced sailor), that I really made massive progress with my learning. The power of practice!

And so, with a desire to improve my sailing and spend time on my art, I partnered sailing with drawing and painting. During the morning periods, when the sea was calm as a millpond and we spent time motoring before hoisting the sails, I drew the islands ahead of us or picked up my watercolours and painted.

Sketching the islands

Sketching the islands

Island sketch

Island sketch

Day after day, I observed the folds of the mountains; the light and the shadows; the trees and the plantlife. When I wasn’t painting on paper, I was painting in my head or recording the details on camera as future reference material or inspiration.

Islands from the sea

Islands from the sea

The “painting in my head” bit might sounds a little strange, but spending time looking and really seeing the way the colour and light changes, thinking about how I would get that down on paper, really noticing those details, was enormously useful. As the boat was always moving, so was my view of each island… the angles and the light ever changing. Whilst this could have been frustrating, I found it beneficial as it stretched me to work quickly.

Painting the islands

Painting the islands

As we were keen to hoist the sails at every opportunity, I found myself putting down the shapes of the islands, the state of the sea and any notable landmarks much faster than I would normally. Then, in the evenings, when we were safely moored up, I would return to my paintings and fill in the details slowly. It was getting dark shortly after 7pm, so the long evenings of Summer light that we had enjoyed a month earlier were gone and I had time to paint before dinner and often stole a few moments for creativity between waking and breakfast.

The morning light was stunning… something I did not even attempt to capture on paper, but having taken photos to remember the incredible fiery sunrise over Vathi, this is something I may well return to and try painting one day. It was interesting how, having time to observe and engage with everything free from the usual distractions, I was able to observe and implement my learning, both in sailing and painting.

Sunrise over Vathi

Sunrise over Vathi

We ate breakfast on board most days, dropping anchor in a different bay early each afternoon for a picnic lunch made on board. Port Leone, on one of our last days, was my favourite picnic spot.

Port Leone

Port Leone

We all start off as beginners and when you immerse yourself in repeated action, the learning curve is steep and the rewards are enormous. Had you suggested to me five years ago, that I would spend a child-free week on a yacht sailing and painting, I would have thought you were joking! Four years ago, sailing wasn’t even on my radar and three years ago, I took the first tentative steps to see if I would like sailing and spent my first night on a boat. It took some persuasion on the part of my partner to get me to even try sailing in the first place. I was scared and, if I am honest, I was not even keen at that point… curious, maybe, but had I not had that friendly hand on my back, encouraging me to step out of my comfort zone, I would not be sharing these photos with you today.

Through sailing, I discovered a love of the sea from an angle that was completely new to me and which provided me with the sense of space and expansion I had long been craving.

Say YES!

Try everything.
Don’t rule anything out… it’s never too late to learn a new skill and sometimes the thing you think will appeal to you least is the thing you need the most.

When you find that thing you love to do, practice, practice, practice.

I am not afraid to say that my art is far from perfect, but it was dropping the desire for perfection in my art that was the biggest source of creative freedom, EVER! With this freedom, the perfectionist demons that sometimes stopped me from starting in the first place were forever laid to rest and I now allow myself to make mistakes, learn from them by reflecting on how I would do things differently next time, and correcting them. Same goes for sailing and anything new.

Screw up. Make mistakes, be grateful and learn from them. Look at the mistake and don’t feel you need to rub it out, but embrace it and make it into something better. I apply this learning in my Art Club and the children now know to celebrate these “Happy Accidents”. 

Back home this week, I have returned to a couple of my postcard paintings. With photos as reference and the stability of a table that’s not rocking and swaying, reworking my little paintings has been a wonderful way of returning to the joys of last week.

Sailing to Fiskardo

Sailing to Fiskardo

Leaving Pólis

Leaving Pólis

I hope I have inspired you to try something new or pick up something you love to do, but have not tried in a while. Go on… go practice!

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Let’s talk about money…

Last month, I was one of 31 creatives invited by fellow artist, Eli Trier, to take part in her community project, Naked Money. The purpose of the project was to get creatives talking about the sticky subject of money. The project was an eye-opener. Subjects covered included how we make money; how to value our work; our money blocks and money breakthroughs and a wide variety of creatives at many different stages of their career contributed.

Seeing how each of the essays opened up new thoughts, ideas and conversations around cash, I felt that I wanted to share my contribution to the project with my community and Eli kindly granted me permission to republish my post here. I would totally recommend you sign up to receive the ebook Eli has created from this project. You can do so here. In the mean time, read on… and if you have any questions on money, art or how the two fit together, don’t be afraid to ask!

Creating Gratitude Cards

Creating Gratitude Cards

Eli’s invitation to contribute to the Naked Money community project felt timely as, only that morning, I had been taking audio notes on a subject that had popped up regularly on my radar over a period of months and which was relevant to my current personal situation around creativity and cash. The subject in question was JOBS… the payroll kind. Yes, as a freelancer of some 20+ years, who used to baulk at the idea of a regular role, I have, for almost two years now, been working a 4 day a week “good enough job”*, and it has had the most unexpected impact on my creative output.

When a freelance contract that had provided a healthy chunk of my annual income was not renewed two years back, I surprised myself by starting to think about looking for a job. The unpredictability of my other self-employed income streams had created a lot of anxiety around money, but it was not until l had been in a regular job for some time and the pressure lifted, that I realised just how much this fear around not having enough money month to month had distracted me.

When you rely on creativity for your income, you can find yourself creating what you think people will want and therefore buy, rather than what you want to be making.

As a freelancer, I worked for an art magazine, curated exhibitions of other artists’ work, ran online courses, as well as in person workshops and classes. Some of these I have continued since starting my day job. But all the while, I had never really taken the idea of making money from my own art seriously. Even now, I can’t quite tell you why. I offered a handful of works on Etsy and on my own website, but my marketing was minimal to say the least and I sold just two pieces. I guess I was embarrassed about trying to make money from my art. Something to do with that little voice that tells you you’re not good enough.

Of course, the fear of failure played a part. If I didn’t put myself out there, I couldn’t fail, right?

Wrong!

I failed to take my art seriously. I failed to give myself the chance to try enough things that might have worked in order to discover what did. I wanted to be making my art, not promoting it, though now, of course, I realise that in simply sharing what you’re doing with an open and genuine heart, you can build a warm and wonderful audience of people who take pleasure in seeing others do what they love and want more of that.

Truth is, it’s often not what we think people want that they actually crave and some of the most successful artists I know of are those who make the art they love and want to create, without a thought for what potential customers might buy. When you make work you love, that love shines through and people want a piece of that. 

The total freedom to create what I wanted when I wanted had, for a period, stifled me. I’m sure you’ve also experienced the feeling (hopefully in the distant past) that you have heaps of ideas, but when you do, you have no time and when you have the time to create, the ideas seem to dry up. I know I did. But that pattern of thinking was also a habit and what I actually needed to do was just start.

As a creative being, joy, freedom and connection are vital to me. When I started working my day job, free time became more precious, so it’s now much more important to spend that time wisely on things I really want to be doing. Aside from spending time with my love and my sons (connection), those things are sailing (freedom) and making art (joy). The story of the job itself and how I landed it is an interesting one, which I will go into in more depth on my blog. But what I lost in free time, I gained in a sense of urgency to create which has grown into a desire to finally offer my art to the world, now that the pressure to make money from it is off.

When I started making art for myself, I made art that I loved and wanted to live with. I put two pieces I adore onto Red Bubble and whilst I have only sold two stickers so far (bringing in less that £1.00 profit), there’s a cushion with my art on it on my sofa which brings me joy daily and am enjoying trying new things and putting my work out there and seeing what happens with no strings attached. I am fully aware that it’s still an experiment. An experiment I’m in for the long term.

I have made one of my paintings into an art print and, as I write this, I am just back from the post office, having packed up my first print sale and sent it off. No profit as yet, as I paid to print a small batch up front, but from payment on this first sale, any prints I sell now will bring in profit.

Money can’t buy that glorious feeling of knowing that someone will receive my work tomorrow, frame it and put it on their wall to enjoy. 

I want to share my art with the world because creating it brings me joy and if I can brighten people’s lives with my art, then I want to do more of that. There is enough darkness in the world right now and if the sight of a joyful painting can brighten someone’s day, then I want to share that as widely as I can.

Profit is also on the way with two sales of my Good Day Cards so far. The second sale was a repeat sale, so I already know that I have one happy customer and that feels so good!

One of my paid work roles (either side of my desk time) is walking the office dog (freedom). I love variety and for two hours each day this role affords me dream time in the woods where I make fast art (usually 3 minute faces) with the leaves, sticks and stones that I find. This brings me more pleasure than I can describe (joy). I often speak my thoughts, feelings, poems and bits of blog posts and newsletters into the voice recorder on my phone as I walk. This saves me time sat staring at my computer screen, as out of doors, I always feel more inspired. I also take photographs that inform and inspire my art. I share these on social media, growing my tribe as I walk. It’s a slow burn, but I’m in it for the long haul.

In addition, I continue to run my after school art clubs every week during term time. The inspiration for our projects often comes from my walks and I have used left over materials from my day job in my classes. The classes are of a size that I am able to speak in depth with each child about their art (connection). I learn as much from the kids as they do from me. On occasional Mondays, I now run a fabulous project called Interpreting Collections at the Wellcome Trust. Here, I support artists to research works in the collection and encourage them to interpret their research creatively. This, I LOVE. It is me in my element! I work directly with artists and gallery staff and we get to go behind the scenes and ask questions and have meaningful conversations. One day of this work, pays almost what I earn in a week at my day job. It’s one of those “am I really getting paid for this?” roles which again ticks my connection box and totally lights my fire! I am working on turning this project and its offshoots into something longer term and more regular.

I would be lying if I said I don’t dream of making lots of money from my art and my other passion projects, dropping the day job (apart from the dog walks) and being free to do whatever I want. But right now, it all works together and the truth is, I feel blessed to experience either joy, freedom, connection (or all three) in every area of my work. And importantly, the pressure of money is lifted, leaving me free to create the work I want.

As I look to the future (I am now 45), my desire is to continue making meaningful connections with other creatives, to supporting them in living their best lives and in doing so to live my own. I would like the freedom to follow my heart… to sail and make art, both with paint on canvas and out in nature, just as I do now. But I know that freedom requires an income. So I am working towards getting paid more for the roles that feel like play and if a house in the woods by the water, with a studio, a mooring and a sail boat are part of that playful future, I hope you will come join me for a creative retreat there.

*The phrase, “good enough job” came from Barbara Sher’s book What Do I Do When I Want To Do Everything. The good enough job is one that pays the bills and affords you the freedom to do things you love.

Art Club creations

Art Club creations

This article was written for Eli Trier’s Naked Money community project. To read the contributions of 30 other creatives, click here.

You can find me online at: www.BeCreativeDaily.com
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/julia.elmore.9 and https://www.facebook.com/BeCreativeDaily/
On Instagram: @juliaelmore

Sometimes it works out… sometimes it doesn’t

 

worldpainting

One evening last week, I came home from work itching to paint. I was also tired, so I took a nap. When I awoke everything in me was resisting the process. I distracted myself. Cooked. Ate. I then spent some 90+ minutes on an exasperating web chat with TalkTalk, attempting (unsuccessfully) to resolve my lack of internet. By this point, I needed to paint!

I unwrapped a circular canvas purchased earlier in the week as I wanted to experiment and began the slow process of pouring acrylics and rolling them over the surface. WOW, it was powerful! Slow, meditative painting, it eased away the frustration I was previously feeling and soothed me into a relaxed and more peaceful mood. I also loved what I had created… an image that reminded me of worlds and of oceans; of weather systems and forecasts. I had not imagined this outcome when I started… I just need to create; to experiment; to make some sort of art.

I didn’t want to stop… I wanted to start another canvas, but it was approaching 3am, so I slept.

The thick layers were not quite dry in the morning, but I was equally pleased with the result. I still loved the universality of the image, but I loved, above all, that it reminded me of the joy of the process when looking back at it.

The following day, the urge to paint remained. Into a tiny window of time between waking and work, I squeezed a half hour of paint pouring, this time onto a smaller square canvas. My intention was to create something with a similar feeling to the piece made a few hours earlier, but it was just not working this time. The colours I used were different, but only slightly. The paint was not pouring in quite the same way and the colour blends that emerged were much murkier than the previous brights. I added white; added black. Both helped, but then I ran out of time. I would already be late for work, even if I left immediately and my fingers were covered in paint.

The feeling of excitement and anticipation I had felt on approaching had turned to  disappointment and deflation, but I told myself this didn’t have to be the end. I could let that layer dry and revisit at a later date. I also told myself that this was not a waste of time and that in creating something that had turned out to be less than I hoped, I had gained important information on what was not working so well… all knowledge I could apply to any future piece.

A feeling of not wanting to paint for fear of not creating something I has happy with came (was thankfully only fleeting) and went and was soon outweighed by a desire to do more work and learn from each piece.

Sometimes it works out… sometimes it doesn’t.
This is as true of painting as any other endeavour in life.

Whilst pulling weeds in the garden this morning, my partner and I observed how some of the roses he had planted in his garden had taken and others had not. They came from the same garden centre at the same time, were planted in the same soil at the same time. The position was slightly different, but the amount of sun and water the same. Sometimes it works out… sometimes it doesn’t. We have to keep trying.

What we do not see when we visit any solo exhibition is all of the work that didn’t make it; that was painted over; that was abandoned; that wasn’t good enough. It does exist. In most cases too, I feel certain that the works that don’t make the grade outnumber the pieces that do. But artists keep on making art.

And so, we go back to the canvas too, or back to our planting or back to the recipe book or back out on another first date, because sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t and if we don’t keep trying, then we don’t get to experience the magical moments when it does.

You don’t need expensive materials to make great art

Nature Collage

Nature Collage

Do you love shops that sell art supplies? I do!
I feel like a kid in a sweet shop as I step into any establishment offering an array of paper and pencils, paint and canvas. I remember a feeling of sheer delight on receiving my very first tin of 40 watersoluble Caran d’Ache coloured pencils (yes, I still have the tin, though just 36 much shorter pencils remain) and I have a similar feeling each time I step out of an art shop loaded with new supplies. However, my visits to such shops are rare at present. I have a plentiful supply of art materials and, in recent years, have come to realise that the purchase of supplies, when I already have some, can be a form of procrastination, holding me back from creating…
Why waste time in the art shop when I could be making art?

What matters to me now, much more than obtaining new materials – and the feelings of excitement and possibility that go with them – is the actual making of art on a daily basis. The work I make now, rarely requires any materials or purchases, other than those I find for free just before I start creating.

As I wander out on my daily walks, I am regularly struck by the abundance of materials that are there at our finger tips, just waiting to be used, but are often overlooked. Always a scavenger when walking on the beach, I gather stones and shells, driftwood and seaweed. In years gone by, the gathering may have provided sufficient satisfaction, my treasures returning home with me, to become clutter in my bedroom. I did once cover a chair in shells I had collected, but that aside, the things I gathered were merely part of a collection. These days, I am drawn to creating temporary art, making something simple from the leaves, sticks, stones, feathers and other raw materials that nature offers up, asking nothing in return. My usual theme is simple faces, made in moments. I photograph them as a record, but it is highly likely, especially on windy days, that they will be gone in little more than the time it took me to create them. It is the act of creating – and how it feels – that is most important to me these days.

A couple of years ago, my friend Julia Barnickle captured me in action, making a One Wheeled Thames Serpent on the banks of the river. As you will see, from the video below, I am at ease and in flow when collecting and creating.

London Cameos – Gabriel’s Wharf, South Bank – Julia Elmore from Julia Barnickle on Vimeo.

This past week, a couple more videos have appeared on my radar, showing other people who create art from discarded items. The first showcases six artists, all creating using discarded materials. The variety of work, both in choice of materials and in scale was jaw-dropping. I hope you will enjoy the video and feel inspired, as I was, to experiment with new materials and find fresh ways of working.

The second video showed how the Aboriginal residents of a Cape York community are gathering debris from the beach and transforming such items as washed up old fishing nets and turning them into sculptures of beauty, depicting the sea creatures that may otherwise have been caught up in these “ghost nets”. The accompanying article explains how, in doing so, the sculptors are not only helping clear up their beaches and preserve the wildlife that may otherwise have perished, but also creating work that connects to their country, their ancestors and in the case of Short Joe, their art becomes a passport to visiting other countries.

Do you make art from materials you find? Please let me know in the comments below.

If you would like to receive more creative inspiration, direct to your inbox, please sign up to my mailing list to receive my next newsletter.

The interview that reminded me I’m at home here

Painting with floral detail

Painting with floral detail

It has been over two years since I posted on this site. I can hardly believe it has been so long and yet, so much has happened in that time…

• My work life has shifted from purely self-employed to a varied mix of roles.
• I have extended my house to provide my growing sons with bedrooms of their own.
• The extension has also opened up the back of the house, giving me a gorgeous space in which to cook and create whilst looking out over the garden. I cannot tell you what a feeling of expansion and bliss this gives me…
• I now enjoy a sense of space that I had never felt in this place and the changes have created a wonderful spot in which I look forward to running workshops very soon.
• I have experimented with blogging on my name site, but whilst that will remain live, with a few future changes, I felt drawn back to blogging here for some reason.
And now I am back, it feels like coming home.
Yes, Be Creative Daily feels like a home I have been away from for a while; a home that has gathered dust in my absence, but one where I feel at ease and able to be truly myself.
How often do we feel like that in the world, really? Even better when a friend, who knows what she is doing, has agreed to help give the site a Spring clean (watch this space)!

In my absence from this site, I have continued along my creative path, sharing art and inspiration on both Facebook and Instagram. I have made art in the woods on a regular basis, been drawing and painting on paper and on canvas, taken a parenting course that I would recommend to any Mum who feels like she’s struggling, spent a magical week in Japan, enjoyed time at sea sailing yachts – all of this around four part time jobs.
And still, I feel that I want to do more!
This is why I am back.
Because I know that I am not alone.

Today, as I often do, when home alone at the weekends (when my boys are with their Dad and my partner is away), I go search out the latest interviews on GLP Radio and this morning, I was drawn to a conversation between Jonathan Fields and Erik Wahl. I had not heard of Wahl before, but before the interview had finished, I knew I had to go seek out his latest book and dive in! The interview was one of those where you find your heart’s beating faster and you’re nodding in agreement and then, almost without realising it, shouting “YES!” at the computer because you know they get it! Wahl’s words that sent me back home to my blog, were these:
“There’s a lot of value in documenting your struggle; documenting your vulnerability and holding yourself accountable to producing a piece of art a day / producing a piece of writing a day and putting it out there because that act of putting it out there, is what helps you understand what the marketplace is looking for.”

The interview went deep… on parenting each of your children differently; on the history of graffiti; on using art as a form of healing, amongst so many other things. But most importantly, it served as a reminder of the reasons I first started blogging and why I should return. Not so much for the marketplace, but for a place of connection.
It was a commitment to making a piece of art daily and sharing it, that led me to set up this blog what feels like a lifetime ago. It was in making a piece of art daily and sharing my stories and experiences that I began to feel more connected and less alone. Blogging was a way to write openly about my struggles and vulnerabilities and in doing so, I connected with others who had similar feelings and experiences. I helped some people and some people helped me. So I am back… to remind you that you are not alone.

You’re not alone in your feelings of wanting to do more; be more; experience more. You’re not alone in your desire to be a good mother / a good friend / a good partner; to make art; make a living and to feel at peace with yourself and connected to family, friends and the world.

Right now, I am more in flow creatively than I can ever recall being…. and yet, I probably have less free time than I have ever had. The difference is this – I know how important my art is to me and well aware of the positive benefits, I make time to create.

One more stand out comment, in the interview I mention, came from the interviewer, Jonathan Fields. It brought tears to my eyes. Talking about art, he so simply expressed where I am in life right now and what I have come to believe,
“Maybe it’s not your living. Maybe it’s the thing you do to feel alive, but it’s not your living. And that’s OK.” 

We are in this boat together… welcome home. x

 

 

Yes, it’s been quiet over here… I was creating something new

createYou may have noticed that it has been a little quiet over here. If you are signed up to my mailing list, you will know that the reason I have not posted on Be Creative Daily for a while now is that I have been working on something new!

Art is but one of my passions and as a creator, I am often drawn to new things, new ideas and always keen to share the gems that inspire and light me up. Be Creative Daily has been my online home for three years, but I now have a new space… a place I feel at ease which allows me the freedom to share all of my interests and passions and pass on to you all of the good energy that goes with doing things you love.

So this post comes with an invitation… to come visit me please. If you like what you see, please sign up to the new mailing list. All you have to do is enter your name and email in the box at the top of the page and I will send you the occasional newsletter, the odd offer and invitations to connect with me.

BIG thanks to each and every one of you who has visited Be Creative Daily over the years. I look forward to seeing you over at JuliaElmore.com sometime very soon. Do leave a comment there to let me know you stopped by please.

With love,
Julia x

Painting blind

painting brushesOnce in a while, I see something that I just can’t keep to myself. Somewhere (and I cannot even remember the thread) on the Internet today, I stumbled across a video of an artist who, for 25 years, has been registered blind. In the words of Sargy Mann, “My desire has always been to make paintings; to make visual metaphors for my version of reality.”

As a visual person, I find it almost impossible to imagine how it must feel to lose your sight, let alone what it must mean to continue life as an artist after losing your sight. Sargy Mann‘s story is moving; his art is astonishing and his determination to keep going against all the odds is inspiring.

I hope you can stop for just five minutes today and watch this… painting after blindness. And if that moved you and you have a little longer, watch a full video of Sargy Mann’s art by his son Peter here.

Today, I am grateful for my eyesight; for the ability to view art and to make pictures and take photographs without any of the challenges that blindness brings. I am grateful for finding this story of sheer determination and art today.

Please leave a comment below if these videos move you… I would love to know what thoughts and emotions they stir up in you.

Late night Friday gratitude list

painted skyReflecting on the past 7 days, I have so much to be grateful for this week…

Sunshine and flowers as evidence of the fast-approaching Spring.

The package waiting on the doorstep on Wednesday containing paintings from the Visual Medicine workshop I attended the previous week. Also, for the overwhelming urge to paint early on Sunday morning that led to me covering the kitchen worktops in cling film (to keep them paint-free), mixing up paint in old jam jars and going for it! See above for results.

An afternoon visit to the theatre with my Mum to see this. It was brilliantly acted, provoked much laughter and holding of breath in all the right places. Our seats on the fourth row were just perfect.

Dinner with Mum last night at the pub I used to work in as a teen.

The joy of listening to my eldest doing his steel pan practice. That sound is so beautiful! Instant transportation from North London to the Caribbean… (in my mind at least).

An incredible shiatsu massage at my son’s school’s pamper evening. Thank you Sophie… you relieved all of the tension that had been building up in my shoulders and causing me to creak.

An evening with one of my very dearest friends.

The opportunity to go see my amazing and colourful friend Sue Kreitzman’s window at Selfridges, Oxford Street as part of their celebration Bright Old Things. See below for evidence.

Sue Kreitzman Selfridges WindowWhat were you grateful for this week?