Kickstart Your Creativity

Collaborative artwork

Fresh wonders have been unfolding over here at Be Creative Daily as I started running a new course at home last Wednesday evening, called Kickstart Your Creativity. For one month, six courageous women have committed to spending two hours here each week, to embark on a creative journey. Art is being made, connections are being forged, dreams are being shared and I am filled with an enormous feeling of excitement and possibility.

At the moment, things are still in the early stages. The course has been (loosely) written and I am playing it out for the very first time with a group of local Mums, connected by a desire to welcome more creativity into their lives, as well as a need for connection and a wish for a feeling of community. My aim is to provide a space within which everyone can safely share, create and let go…
Let go of the desire for perfection
Let go of unrealistic expecations (that we often put upon ourselves)
Let go of shoulds and coulds and just play, like our children play, just as we did before we got caught up in our assumptions and became frozen by our fears.

How often do we have the chance in our busy lives to really let go…?
When do we have the opportunity to share our desires…?
How often to we get to explore what we really want for our lives and think about how we can take positive action to effect such change…?
How often are we even really listened to…?
But isn’t that exactly what we want for our children…? That they should play and explore the world without pressure and fears and that they should have the freedom to express themselves and their wishes without judgement or concern. Why then, would we not give that gift to ourselves? How can we lead by example?

These are some of the questions I seek to address as I use art-making exercises to explore each of these things. Last week, beautiful vision boards were created and tiny steps were taken towards living that fulfilling life. This week, we took pleasure in making imperfect pictures. We shared stories, made collaborative art, talked about the beauty of sharing and the power of asking for help. And next week another layer will be peeled… more fears will be faced, more experiences shared.

Travelling home, a little late yesterday, I waited alone at the station for my train. I watched carriage after carriage pull in and pass on. What struck me was the lack of interaction. What frightened me was the solitariness of each individual; the blank expressions; the empty stares and what I thought was how, in each moment on of our day, we pass up on the possibility of connection, be it as simple as eye contact with a stranger or a smile exchanged.

These strangers will be the ones I invite next… they will be the ones I welcome, should they accept the challenge, to kickstart their creativity. There is so much possibility and potential right there on one single busy commuter train. I will be delivering those invitations by hand, with a look in the eye and a smile.

If you feel that you are in a creative slumber from which you wish to awaken, this is your invitation, right here

Whilst on the subject of inspiration and positive change, I have something else I wish to share. Be Creative Daily began on May 1, 2012 with a simple commitment to a 30 Day Challenge. My personal challenge was to do something creative every day for 30 days and share it. So many things have resulted from that simple commitment… everything you see here in fact! Each art class and workshop, every group and creative connection is the result of making a commitment to my art. If you have something you have always wanted to do, a business you have been thinking of, an event you would like to run, there are few things you could do that would make more of an immediate impact than joining me and 200 other people all around the world as we commit to another 30 Day Challenge. Are you in? It can be life-changing.

With love,
Julia x

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

How my body-centred art makes me feel more like me

My full body art

My self-expression, of late, has been largely focused on the body.

I have been using my body as a vehicle for self-expression in more ways than one… dancing more, stretching more and, in turn, using my own form as a starting point for making art. It feels to good.

As with yoga, the more you do it, the more aware you become of the way you carry yourself; the way you sit whilst driving the car; the way your body feels whilst standing at the sink, hands in warm soapy water.

The more I use my body for self-expression with my art, the more aware I become of the way I am expressing myself in the day to day. Just as making art is becoming a habit, so is moving and flowing and I am feeling so much more connected; more confident; at ease, and whilst I am more aware of my posture and I find myself, just naturally, doing a little dance here, adding a little gesture there. I am also more conscious of the way I dress and what feels good and enables me to feel flowing and free. Pure self-expression is slowly moving through every part of me.

On Monday, with the absence of someone to draw around my body, I lay on my dining room floor and attempted to draw around myself onto a long roll of lining paper. With some difficulty, I drew a wobbly outline, squeezing it onto the narrow paper for my piece. And then I began to fill it. Starting at the feet, I filled my form with grass and roots and flowers and a big tree, ending, right at the top with a glowing head that reflected how I sometimes experience life and how I would really like to feel… not every moment of the day, but more.

The purpose of this work, apart from pure self-expression, was to gain clarity.

Before creating this piece I set an intention and on finishing it asked questions of my art and I was surprised how well it responded to me. I will not explain this right now, but I will share with you my questions and answers here.

I would love to know what you think or if you have any experience of the effects of delving more deeply into your own creativity as this is something I will soon be sharing more of here.

If you think you might like to explore with me… to begin your own journey of creative self-expression through art, keep September 21 free… I will be running my first one day workshop in London and I would love you to join me.

Setting an intention and questioning my art

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


The breakthrough

Three days ago I wrote about The Slump… that dark moment, part-way in, when I question everything. Familiar with this heavy territory, I also acknowledged that “This is often the moment before the breakthroughs happen… when you ride the storm and come out the other side; brighter, stronger.” Last night I felt brighter and stronger than I have felt in a long time. The breakthrough came sooner than I thought.

On Thursday night, having raised my voice too loud, I was suffering from an anger hangover. The term references what Brené Brown calls “the vulnerability hangover”, a term that she coined when she needed a concept that captured that feeling of, “Oh my God! Why did I share that? What was I thinking?” My term “anger hangover” captures my feeling of, “Oh my God! Why did I just shout like that? What was I thinking?” It was one of those evenings when I was over-tired and going over old ground, asking nicely for things to be done to no response and being faced with yet another challenging episode of big boy picking on small boy, when the fuse blew. When all was finally quiet and boys were both in bed, I was still feeling the aftershock of being pushed to my limits and becoming a person I think (wish, hope against hope) I am not. I feel it in every inch of my body… the tension, the regret, the shrinking into myself, the desire to undo, the reality of what I become when I forget, for an instant, to discipline calmly or to walk away. It was eating me up and I had to get it out, so I turned to my art. I did not know where I was going, so I followed my instinct, went to the pen drawer and picked up the thickest, blackest pen I could find. It was how I was feeling. I rolled out a length of brown wrapping paper and taped it to the table. There is something about the shade and the texture of that paper that makes me feel happy and safe. It is comforting in a way that I cannot describe. I picked up a pencil, lay my head on the paper I traced my profile. It came naturally to me. I still had no idea what I was doing, just feeling my way. I traced another profile… my other side, making two faces staring blankly at each other. With the thick black marker I traced each profile. One appeared a little softer… the me I would like to be. The other I attacked with my pen, drawing in jagged lines, up and down, angry with sharp edges. I scribbled areas of black at the back of my neck where the tension lay and in my chest where I felt the embarrassing pain of the me I had been in that moment and the spikes and lines that came out from my throat were expressions of what I had done. It felt good, letting it all out. And when it was done, it was done. I had released the tension, expressed the feelings and the fear. 

I then turned my attention to the other face. I felt calmer; my edges softer and that came out in the pen, the fluid lines, the flowing, curling waves of the me I wanted to be. It was that simple. I was redressing the balance. I drew out the me I wanted to be and in doing so I became calmer in the moment.

Redressing the balance: how it was and how it should have been

Late Friday afternoon, I listened to an audio recording by Laura Hollick in which she explained how she had discovered a technique which had enabled her to heal her skin and grow in confidence; a technique which she herself had created, just by feeling her way and going deeply into her art. Hearing her describe the technique and listening as she shared this way of working, I realised that I had to share what I had done the previous night for myself. So, last night, when two friends arrived for my evening workshop, we first went through a few tried and tested techniques… playful ways to step out of your comfort zone and let go of the idea of making perfect art; ways to immerse yourself in the creative process and enjoy the pure pleasure of simply making art. And then, I took the leap of sharing what I had tried the night before. We traced our profiles onto paper and I asked each of my friends to think of something that was a challenge for them right now… to go deeply into that feeling and let it out on the paper. I did the same.

In creating my negative head, I could feel myself scratching away with pastel on paper, rubbing and smudging, blurring and spilling every ounce of negative feeling into the dark-edged drawing that was my fearful self. There were glimmers in there too… fighting the dark, but overall this image represented the fear of a beige existence, tied to a job I do not love, a reality that is far from my own right now, but a possibility that seems to be raising its head from time to time. I resist and resist and even thinking about it I feel the darkness descend, starting right in my eyes and moving up over my head and down my neck, into my back, shoulders and beyond. It comes from the fact that I do not have a steady, stable income. I am not in reliable employment, I am feeling my way, just getting by, and how does that equate with a life in which I have a mortgage and two children depending on me? But I trust in the process. I believe wholeheartedly (and some might say naively, but they may never experience) that this exciting and terrifying ride will lead to freedom. And when I say “freedom”, I mean freedom from the cage of other people’s expectations. I mean freedom from being chained to a life that is not your own. I mean the freedom to be me… the me I am yearning to be.

And so, in the other head, I created my colourful life. I filled it with layers of greens and blues and let the brightness of all that I wish for and all I am working towards shine, and it felt good and it flowed freely and easily and I rose above my shadow and felt liberated and ready to take on the world. All of the negativity had slipped away and I was left with a feeling that this was the way forward and I only wished that we had more time.

We shared our stories… the challenges and the desired outcomes and described how we had represented these feelings and how it felt to be creating and sharing amongst friends.

It was a powerful releasing and allowing…a shedding… a letting go… a way of tapping into our emotions and creating a new reality… a brighter future being mapped out right there and then on paper with our own hands. And in sharing we were connecting.

My immediate thought was that a whole day of doing this kind of thing could be so worthwhile… encouraging and allowing people to make imperfect art for the sheer joy of creating and using art as a way of tapping into our emotions and letting go and sharing the story with new friends.

So this is my path. For now, I will continue to map out my own emotions. I will empty the negative into my art and create the positive new. This is my breakthrough. This is my path out of The Slump and not only this one, but any more that await me just over the horizon too.

Letting go: the fear and the brighter path

I would love to know what big breakthroughs you have experienced following a slump. Have you used your art as a path out of the darkness and into the light?
Please feel free to share your experiences here…

With love,
Julia x

 

It’s launch day!

For the past 30 days, I have been part of a closed community of 200 people, each working away on a personal passion or goal. The 30 Day Challenge is an online programme, run by John Williams, author of Screw Work Let’s Play and coach extraordinaire Selina Barker.

This was my third 30 Day Challenge.

I return year after year as the format, of the programme, the support on offer and the results I achieve always make me feel good. This year, I set out on a mission to Share JOY through ART. My original idea for doing this was through an e-course. It soon became clear that this was not going to happen within the 30 days as I went off on a deep journey of self-discovery, pushing personal boundaries to express myself more fully and gaining a wonderful sense of clarity in so many areas of my life.

Through face to face workshops, I was able to share my own joy in the process of art-making and I am now pleased to offer both group workshops and one to one sessions for anyone keen to explore their creative side. Would you like to join me?

I continued to push forward with my own creative practice and after years of promoting the work of other artists, I am finally offering my own art through an Etsy shop.

Keen for everyone to benefit from the delights of living a creative life, I am now offering a free downloadable PDF of simple ways to invite creativity into your everyday life to everyone who subscribes to the Be Creative Daily mailing list. If you are already a subscriber, yours will soon be arriving by e-mail. If you would like to sign up, just click here and you will soon be a step closer to welcoming more joy and creativity into your daily life.

Right, I am off to launch my project over on the 30 Day Challenge and then it’s time to put my feet up.
Much love,
Julia x

Share JOY through ART

Share JOY through ART

A week of workshops

It has been a hive of artistic activity over here at Be Creative Daily HQ this week.
On Thursday, I ran a one to one workshop with Karen Wilson. The aim of the workshop was to Free the Artist Within and I think we achieved what we set out to here as by the end of our 2 hour session, we both had paint on our fingers, smiles on our faces and had covered our paper rolls in vibrant swathes of colour with incredible depth and beauty.

Yesterday morning, I hosted a workshop of a very different kind. Creating a Life Collage (or Vision Board) can be a wonderful way to build up an image of what you would like to inject into your life. This simple act of flipping through magazines, cutting and pasting can be a really powerful tool for creating transformation in your life. Working side by side, we both created our own vision boards, talking through our ideas and dreams as we went. I look forward to seeing which of our dreams will become real.

If you would like to explore your creative side, please take a look at the Workshops page of the site for some inspiration.

Everybody needs Creative Space

Leading my Creative Space art workshop

Leading my Creative Space art workshop, photo: Karen Mercer

On Monday evening, I ran my first Creative Space art workshop at My Coffee Stop, a cosy, jam-packed spot on the station platform at Enfield Chase. The plan was to offer busy women the opportunity to explore art-making in a friendly, supportive environment, with guided activities as well as freestyle creation. It was thanks to the generosity of spirit and community consciousness of Karen Mercer (our wonderful, welcoming hostess… maker of great coffee, baker of delicious cakes) that the workshop came about. I had spent several months with the idea of such a creative art workshop floating in my head, but a suitable venue which enabled me to work with a small group of women at an affordable price had not proved easy to find. So, when someone recommended I go see Karen, and she offered me the use of the space, I jumped at the chance.

Walls decked with art, shelves stacked with Fair Trade goodies, music pumping, this was a space in which I felt comfortably at home. And so, with Karen, two friends and two strangers (who have since become friends) being brave enough to step into the unknown and embark upon an evening of playful creativity with me, the adventure began.

When embarking on something new, I often feel a sense of apprehension, as most of us probably do. Stepping into the unkown, no matter how well-prepared we are, can feel scary at best, but this just felt exciting! There were no butterflies, no last minute nerves, no what if’s… this felt different: natural, right. I had a real sense of adventure. I knew, from the moment these ladies arrived, that this was going to be fun. Their warmth, energy and willingness to open their hearts and explore their creativity put me at ease and I felt that I was doing what comes naturally… I was in flow.

I led the group through a number of playful drawing activities, designed to free the creative spirit through trying new ideas with unexpected outcomes. We explored new ways of working/looking/seeing. We laughed, smiled, sighed. One of my goals with this, and indeed with all of my classes, is to lead people away from any ideas of perfection and towards a free-flowing form of self-expression with engagement and enjoyment in the process of making art, rather than getting hung up on the end result. When the fear and the expectation is removed, the natural outcome, more often that not, is that great art is made, and this was no exception.

I loved that when the ladies were left to their own devices – with canvas, paint, glue, glitter, sequins, etc. on offer to be used in any way they wished – so many different things came out. Each person worked in their own individual style. The pieces that were created were very personal in that each one portrayed something of significance to them and it was a pleasure to hear the stories behind the art… it is this kind of sharing that bonds a group, helps them understand each other a little better, leads to deeper friendships. And there was a real sense of community I felt. A bonding over a shared creative practice… something so rare these days which brings such joy when experienced.

Everybody needs creative space in their lives… we should all take the time to explore our own personal form of self-expression, whatever that may be. This should not be a luxury, it should be a necessity. Perhaps if more people tried it, the benefits would be felt.

I felt deeply energised by the experience that night and woke in the morning feeling optimistic about what’s to come.

I have no idea what is coming next (so many ideas, it can be hard to choose), but I have a feeling it’s going to be great!

If you would like to take part in the next workshop or if you are interested in hosting a workshop in your own home, please do get in touch… I would love to hear from you!

Warmest wishes from a very chilly North London,
Julia x