Find your community of like-spirited people

Finding and being part of a community of like-spirited people can feel like coming home. A couple of years ago, my creative community was made up of my dear friend Laura and a couple of other local mums who had enjoyed creative careers prior to having children. Like me, they had let their own art and craft projects slip in recent years, but hankered for some creative time of their own. During one play date, Laura and I realised just how much we were missing our own creative time as we sat making models with Play-Doh long after the kids had wandered to another activity. We got together one evening just to sit, draw and chat together and then every few weeks to work together on our own little projects and inspire each other. It was fun, but we wanted more!

If you are regular here, you will already know that I committed to my creativity on May 2012, went on to teach art to children, run workshops and courses for adults and build my business around art, making and sharing my own creations as part of the process. It was around the same time that Laura gave up childminding to focus on her art. She had already started her inspiring blog and was taking commissions for portraits, but found this rather limiting and has recently been following her heart. She has now sold a number of her beautiful mixed-media canvas works on ArtFinder. There is value in doing what we love.

Since starting my blog and running my creativity courses over the past couple of years, my circle of like-spirited people has grown. Some of the strongest and most inspiring bonds have resulted from the online courses I have taken and having connected over creativity, we have kept in touch and continued sharing progress and inspiration long after the courses ended. Being part of a group of people with similar passions on a mission like your own has a bonding effect. Laura has found her tribe through sharing on Instagram, showing her images and connecting with artists worldwide.

It may be that like-spirited people are gathering at an evening class near you. Are they musicians or dancers or frustrated creatives keen to make art, but not sure where to start? Maybe it’s time to gather your own tribe.

Having a group of supportive, passionate people to connect with can be the difference between following your passions or not. The right group of friends will inspire you when you are feeling uninspired, cheer you on when you need a boost and share their own challenges so that you know you are not alone.

Have you found your community of like-spirited people yet?
If so, where did you find them?
If not, who would they be if you could find them?
Let’s talk this over and help you find your tribe.

Create JOY!

Joy does not simply happen to us.
We have to choose Joy,
and keep choosing it every day.

Henri Nouwen (Author)

The above quote was brought to my attention this weekend, just as I was uploading the images of my days away at the sea. It puts perfectly into words what I was trying to express in the above image which I had created only days early on the beach near where I had been staying. Yes, it is words too, but sometimes, in my art, what I wish to express is so much more than words alone can say. There, in that very moment, I was choosing Joy. I was creating my own Joy with each shell I picked up; every pebble I selected; every little scrap of driftwood or piece of seaglass I held in my hand and placed on the sand.

How do you create joy in your life? What is it about those moments when your heart is full that makes you feel so joyful? What are you doing? How can you create more of that joy in your life?

For me, the answer lies in my creativity. I feel happy and at one with the world when I can create freely. The world feels right when I have materials close at hand and I can express what is in my head, letting it spill out in shapes and colours and images. A camera in hand can allow me to do it as well… let me capture and connect with a feeling, a place or just a moment in some way and I am happy. In doing so, I connect with myself.

Why then, did I neglect my creativity for so long?
Other things took over… work; life; family; Fear. I chose other priorities… I told myself I didn’t have time. I lost my inspiration. I allowed my creativity to take a back seat and in doing so lost that vital connection to my authentic self… the one who was always creating… always processing the world in words and images.

I am glad to say that soon after inviting creativity back in, it began to be a habit again. When I committed to my creative self and made art a priority in my life, it was like meeting with an old dear friend… we had lots to say to each other and it was as though we had never lost touch. Now, I create joy on a regular basis by fitting art into my life whenever I can.

If you are at that in-between place… stuck between feeling creative and being creative, may I suggest that you just begin? Now! Start small. Don’t plan anything wild or elaborate just yet… pick up a pen or a pencil, start putting some marks down and see where they go. How does it feel? Really let go!

If you were able to do that every day, even for just ten minutes, how would that feel for you? It may lead you somewhere exciting! Creative freedom can be yours… you just have to let go of outcome, choose to create Joy, commit and begin.

If you are ready to commit to creativity and the joy it brings, I have created an online course especially for you… 21 Days of Creative Freedom begins April 28. Don’t delay your Creative Freedom a moment longer. Create Joy now!

Back from the beach… my creative heaven

I am just back from a few days away in a caravan on the coast with my Mum and the boys. Aged 5 and 9, the boys are independent enough to want to do their own thing, but young and mischievous enough to require fairly constant supervision… even from a distance. I had not expected to get a lot of rest, but I had also not expected to be crashing out around 8pm (still fully clothed on a couple of occasions), and ready to sleep a full 12 hours. Yes, 12! The potent combination of sea air, seaside food, lively lads and days out left me wiped out. Another thing I had not quite expected was to squeeze in as much creativity as I did. I took every opportunity I could to make a little something by the sea with what nature provided or with the chalks I had made sure went into the car when I packed. A beach littered with shells and pebbles is creative heaven for me. I find it almost impossible to train my eye away from the ground whilst walking along such a beach. I have to remember to stop, sit and look around me… to take in the rhythm of the sea and the sight of the wide open sky rather than totally obsess about what’s under my feet, afraid that I may miss any of nature’s gorgeous gifts. My treasure-seeking radar in on high alert as I scan the sand for the perfect shell, the perfect stone… and so often so many of them really are perfect. Add to the mix those jewel-like pieces if sea-worn glass and I really am in beach-combing heaven. Deep pockets are a must on outings such as these. Then, when I have gathered my pocket or bagful, I embark on the act of making, though the hunt doesn’t stop there… I often need a little piece of something else as the creative act ensues. I am always seeking new ways if expressing the creative freedom I re-discovered a couple of years ago and which I will be sharing over a period of three weeks in my upcoming course.

What’s your idea of creative heaven?
How have you expressed your creative freedom this week?

If you need a little inspiration to get your creative mojo back, check out 21 Days of Creative Freedom which begins April 28. Don’t miss your spot… sign up now!

Art is a basic need

Art is a basic need

The desire to express ourselves is something we experience from the moment we enter this world. A baby’s cry; a child’s marks made with sticks in the sand; songs improvised and sung whilst skipping along the road; cave paintings; the way we choose to dress… the list goes on and on.

Art is a visual language which can be used to help us interpret and better understand the world.  For me, it is a passion. The desire to make art is an overwhelming urge which I suppressed for too long, but which brings untold joy to my life. Art is an old friend… no matter how long the gap since we last got together, when we do reconnect, there is an instant and immediate bond. Having invited art back into my life, it has, once again, become a habit; it is an addiction I have no intention of breaking.

I make art when I cannot find the words. I make art when I need to process something. I make art when I wish to remember and I make art to help me let go of what I wish to forget. Art is a basic need.

When did you last make art?
What stops you making art more often?

What sucks your creative energy? What feeds it?

Over the past few months, I have been working, on and off, on a project that has sapped my creative energy. At first, I avoided it; pretended it wasn’t there; focused on different things, but with a deadline approaching and no way out, I got stuck in. And then I got stuck again.

As a Creator, I felt far from in flow. I had been asked to write out and turn into lessons the work I had been doing off the cuff for a period of years… the work that came freely and easily to me when faced with a room full of artists. This recent request was work, not play. How lucky I am that my work does, at times when I am in flow, feel like play and how blessed I am to be in a position that allows me to work alongside artists with whom I can share thoughts, ideas and inspiration in both directions: I am inspired as much as I inspire in this and in any teaching role. It is a privilege to be paid for such work. But turning my thoughts and ideas into a teaching manual? That is something entirely different. My creative energy dried up. There was little room for inspiration or for art, but hindsight it a marvellous thing. With hindsight, I should have said no. I should have rejected this part which has taken over my brain and killed my creativity for way too long (and a week would be way too long, but this has been months!). The energy taken in doing this work left little room for my creative heart. And now… now that it is almost done and I have a little bit of space for myself and for my creative mind to take flight once again, patterns are emerging.

Today and yesterday, for example, the patterns took the form of mandalas, drawn out unconsciously, elaborate embellishments to the notes I was taking whilst speaking with people who ignite and inspire me. No brain-sucking energy there… just uplifting conversation with Creator friends whose spirit and ideas motivate and excite me. And guess what…? As I move back towards my creative friends, the creative energy flows naturally, spilling out of me without me even noticing until pages are decorated and ideas and energy spreads, outwards and on… from my notes to a fresh new page where the mandalas continue, a focus for my restless hands. That is the pattern… sharing freely with creative souls, I am at my most creative. Block my mind and my hands are also tied.

My creativity helps me focus and relax. I’m inviting and welcoming it back in and recognising the patterns. Play more, make more art, do more of what I love and more creative energy will flow. Next time I am faced with a task that is so far from in flow, I will simply say no. There is always a way round it… someone else for whom that task will be easy; even fun. Next time, I will find them and free myself to do what I do best.

What boosts your creativity? What saps your creative energy?
What can you do today to remain in the zone of flow?

Inspiration and time

Last night's drawings on brown paper

Last night, whilst enjoying a 3-hour burst of creativity, something struck me… and I felt instantly grateful for inspiration and the time to create.

For years I battled with the fact that one always came without the other, but last night, fingers stained with oil pastels, pen in hand, it struck me that for some time now, they have arrived in unison and that my creativity has been flowing freely without me even noticing.

Is this luck, or something else? I feel lucky, yes, but I believe this current combination of the two essential ingredients to my creativity comes down to one thing: commitment to my art. I acknowledge that art is one of the most important aspects of my life and my art deserves as prominent a place in my day as it has in my heart.

Is there something you have been putting off doing because you feel you cannot justify it?
Is there something you would love to be doing if you only had the inspiration or the time?
If so, just for one week, try this: commit to it and make time (even if it’s only 10 mins).

Acknowledge your commitment to your art (or dancing or photography or writing, be it music or another passion) in the comments right here, then check back in a week and let me know how you feel.

Making time for art can be justified purely by the pleasure it gives me. In making my art and engaging in my passion, I am happier person, doing what I love and sharing the joy I feel through following my heart.

May you be blessed with the same and long may it last.

Challenge the old routine

Bank Holiday Monday… just a few days left before August is over and we start thinking about Autumn again. Soon, the Summer holidays will be just a memory and it will be time for school runs and routines. Whilst I can appreciate the benefit of a daily routine (especially on school mornings), I also like to feel free and this is where my art comes in…
I have built up an imaginative stock of techniques that I use to help me feel free.
I use some of them on the train if I am travelling, but need a burst of creativity; I use them to release me from negative emotions if I am feeling sad or angry; I use them when I want to express something for which words are not suitable… I use them to feel free.

On Saturday September 21 I will be running a one day art workshop in London.
I am feeling so excited about this, because it will enable me to share some of the wonderful techniques I use to connect with my own creativity and free myself from the worries and fears that hold people back. It has been just over a year since I really, truly committed to my own creative journey… and what a year it has been! I have learned so much and I have so many things I want to share with you, so I hope you will join me for a day of liberating creativity.

It can be easy to put off your creativity and indulge in avoidance techniques, but if you want to challenge the old routine and give your creativity a boost as the seasons change, take this opportunity, as I have a very SPECIAL OFFER for you UNTIL MIDNIGHT ONLY! This is a wonderful chance to give yourself the space to create in a supportive environment with me. I will be your guide to fearless creativity.

You will leave with:
a handful of art made by you
a JOYful spirit
fun techniques to apply at home
a new feeling of creative confidence
and a desire to let your creative spirit fly
…so JOIN ME!

Every day can feel like a Bank Holiday when you feel creatively free.
Enter the code HOLIDAY before midnight to get 10% off here:
https://bookwhen.com/becreativedaily

Don’t slip sleepily back into the old routine… spread your creative wings and come fly with me!

With love,
Julia x

p.s. If you have any questions, just e-mail me: hello@BeCreativeDaily.com

What is your WHY?

Today, I re-watched a talk that had inspired me, a few weeks ago, to examine my why?

In case you were wondering, this was it…

When I first took a serious look at my why? a few weeks back, the answer I came up with was this…

What is my WHY?

I LOVE ART!
I have seen, first hand, how art can change lives.
Creativity is a gift that I would like everyone to experience and enJOY!
For me, art is all about self-expression. It is not about creating something beautiful, it is about delving deep inside ourselves and letting all of our feelings and emotions spill out. I use art to explore and express the joys and the challenges in life and seek to enable others to step away from a desire to create something perfect and immerse themselves in the pure joy of the art-making process.
I want to help women reconnect with their creative selves after having children. As mothers, it can be easy to lose ourselves, focussing on the needs of our family and neglecting our own, but in looking after our own needs, we are better equipped to attend to the needs of others, making for a happier family life. By cultivating a creative practice, we can reconnect with, and powerfully express our true selves, and in doing so, encourage our children to do the same.
Art has always been at the centre of my life, but in reconnecting with my own artist’s journey after many years of concentrating on other people’s art, I found my way back to my own true, creative self.
I want to encourage every single person who feels the pull, but also the fear, to welcome art into their life.

And that, dear friends, is why I am doing this.

So tell me… what is your why?
And if you feel tempted by the pull of art, but frozen by the fear… join me for a day of playful creativity.

I will hold your hand as you let go… and let out a big cheer as you welcome creativity in. You have nothing to lose… and so much to win!

With love,
Julia x

ART from the HEART

ART from the HEART

This month, I am creating art from the heart.
As those of you who follow the blog will know, I have been exploring emotions on paper and creating work using my feelings and my body as a starting point for my art. I am being mindful and engaging in more of the activities that make me feel most alive. It has been a thrilling journey of one transformative experience after another.

Making art brings me such joy and what greater joy is there than sharing what you love with others? So, my latest offering is an afternoon art workshop, ART from the HEART. I love to share my passion for art and so this creative workshop is for you if you would like to connect through art… connect with yourself, your body and other people whilst making art.

Would you like to explore your creativity in a supportive environment, connect with others whilst creating a beautiful piece of art with YOU at the very centre? If so, please come and join me… it would be such a pleasure to make art with you. I promise it will be a playful occasion with plenty of smiles. You don’t have to have any art-making experience… just come and play.

Oh, and if the sun is out, the garden will be our studio! If you would like to join me, just click on the button below… there’s a special offer if you book before Sunday.

With love,
Julia x

Book Online

My June art adventures


June 1, when I committed to:
Doing something creative every day for the next 30 days
Sharing on the blog at least once a week
Being open to any direction my creativity may take me
Being open to any outcome
Sharing my feelings, learnings and realisations as I go through the process
seems like a lifetime away.

How is it possible for time to go so fast, yet for a mere month to feel like so long ago?
At the moment, I feel this way because I did so much more than I expected in the month just gone and in the doing, the time has flown. It has truly been a joyful, art-filled month of exciting discoveries, allowing myself to be free and get in flow.

I started the month sharing videos of my progress, but as June went on and paid work rolled in, there was less time to sit in front of the webcam and the journey became more of an action-based learning than the sharing I had initially intended. In writing this now though, I feel compelled to make a video of my learnings this month, as I realise that I am sharing very few of the details. To do so in a written blog post feels impossible right now, so… watch this space!

I made art almost every day. Some days a simple doodle or sketch; others a finished, framed piece. One of my simplest pieces was an emptying of my head before bed (above). It was a lipstick print of my mouth (representing me talking about what I love) enclosed in a heart (all the things I love) and a tracing around my hand (representing me making my art). The following morning, one of the simplest and most important pieces of advice from my coach summed up my previous night’s art-making in one sentence: “You’ve got to get out there and talk to people about doing what you love”. Yes!

And this is how the month has been.

June was truly a month of getting back to the heart of why I am here; delving deeply into my art and allowing it to flow in all areas of my life. The subtle shifts that have happened; the discoveries and realisations; all of these things, are becoming regular occurrences as I allow myself to do what I love; allow myself to be the artist I want to be; create and live the artist’s life I have longed for. It may seem, to my impatient self, like slow progress in terms of making a sustainable living from this artist’s life, but I feel optimistic that I am on the right path…

This week I created my first Birthday Art Experience for a friend’s 9 year old son. He made a beautiful work of art, way beyond his expectations. His Mum, a designer, is currently working on Art Experience Gift Vouchers for me to offer out to the world – the perfect solution for anyone wishing to give their loved ones the Gift of Art. Last week, I checked out the spaces to hire at Jacksons Lane and am working towards offering a workshop in one of their studios in September (if not before). I know now, that I want to help women connect with their true selves through the creative process.

In terms of personal satisfaction; in filling my daily life with more of what I love; in feeling closer to my true self and living the life of the Play Map in my previous post, this is fast progress indeed. I have spent a day at the coast with the kids, enjoyed other people’s workshops and spent a whole weekend immersing myself in art on a last-minute adventure. I wonder how much of this has to do with the fact that much of my art this month has involved body mapping (above), putting more of myself into my work and exploring my emotions through art. Perhaps the natural outcome is that I step closer to what matters to me. More of that in my next post… I have some wonderful images to share of my indulgent, art-filled weekend away, but for now, I just wanted to let you know that I am still here, working away on my art, finding new ways of sharing.

With love,
Julia x