Letting go is all part of the process

Julia Elmore South Bank beach

Making art on London’s South Bank beach. Photo: Julia Barnickle www.juliabarnickle.com

I love it when something I share touches people and provokes a response. My blog post this week had been a long time coming, but I was glad to discover that it hit a nerve.

I had become a little too wrapped in things other than creating… you know, the life stuff… and had taken a step away from my art. Was it any wonder then, that I was feeling disconnected? Disconnected from myself; disconnected from my business; all because I had become temporarily disconnected from my art. How easy it is though, (as my artist/illustrator/cartoonist friend Richard commented on the last blog post) to get so wrapped up in the things we think we should be doing, but feel too much like work, that we forget to play. So play we must… and in doing so we reconnect. Not only with the heart of our business, but with others as well as we share our stories.

As well as sharing my stories, I love to share my art… on the blog and on the streets. Making art out in public is part of my process and many of my pieces have a connection to the place in which they are made. They are there for a reason, though not always obvious. Photographing the work, then letting it go are the following stages.

My talented friend Cecile (whose eccentric, eclectic videos help people learn fruity French) asked a question on the blog. “I love your mythical creature.” she said. “How could you bear to leave it behind?”

This making art and leaving it behind was a subject that had come up on the day of making as I had a friend (another Julia) along with me, creating a little film as I worked on my art. We had talked about making art and allowing it to have a life of its own after the making is done. I commented that in decluttering my home, I had found it hard to reconcile the making of more and more art that I did not intend to sell with the clearing of my home. That was until I decided to let go of much of it.

Art, for me, is a form of mindfulness. It is about being present and immersed in the moment. It can be as much about the process as the finished product, if not more so. It fills a need; a desire to be engaged in something I love with no fixed outcome. It allows me the freedom to let things – ideas / emotions / experiments – rise up, be worked on and worked through. It is liberating. But what is even more liberating is the letting go.

Allowing the work I make out in public to have a life after I leave it behind is vital.

As a little girl, I used to draw pictures of horses; every day, for a very long while. Occasionally, I would put a special drawing on top of my wardrobe in the secret belief, that one day, if I wished hard enough, the horse I had drawn would come to life and I would wake to find him in my garden. Of course, I don’t need to tell you that this never happened, but there was something about leaving my Thames Serpent behind on the South Bank beach that rekindled this dream and as I replied to Cecile, “I was secretly hoping that he would be brought to life when the tide came in.”

I never know what will happen to my work when I walk away from it. The best I can hope is that it makes someone’s day… or at least makes someone stop and think. Much of my chalking in my local environment is done with that intention… words to prompt thoughts; perhaps actions; certainly observations.

I let my environment lead me. I rarely know what I will create until I come to a place and start making. It depends what comes up for me and that could be anything – from the shadows the sun has created or the detritus washed up on the beach. I create; I photograph (in order to record it and share it), then I let go quite happily. This may mean that things remain for a month or so (in the case of Summer chalkings on wooden fence panels at my local station) or are washed away in a matter of minutes.

Whatever happens next is all part of the process.

Julia Elmore South Bank beach art

Photographing the finished piece before letting go. Photo: Julia Barnickle www.juliabarnickle.com

If you would like some support getting started with your art or taking a project to the next level, get in touch and let’s talk about it. I will soon be offering mentoring sessions both in person and on Skype and workshops will start again soon.
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7 thoughts on “Letting go is all part of the process

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  2. Hi there,
    Found, enjoyed and commented on the video of your serpent’s birth over at Julia’s; thank you for sharing it!

    One of my favourite quotes – and I’ve no idea where I came across it, is “The creative adult is the child who survived.” I’m 55 – no Pinterest, Facebook, blogs, Twitter, satellite TV or mobile phones back then; just hours of playing, reading, drawing, painting, creating, writing, making music, engaging…it’s taken me years to stop shoulding all over myself and cherish that wee girl again.

    Keep creating. Thank you!

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  4. Yes! I need to remember about the process too. I am feeling sooo overwhelmed about what sort of art I should be creating for others to enjoy but I think I need to remember to make the art for ME and stop looking at Pinterest for inspiration for a while and just see what comes from my own mind! Thanks for this post!

    • Jess, I truly believe that when we make art for ourselves, it speaks to others. We can try and guess what people might like, but making art for ourselves can be such a source of pleasure that I think it really shines through when you do. Forget about what you think you should be doing, create what you want and enjoy the simple pleasures of paint brush in hand; colour upon colour. Your art is beautiful.
      Trust yourself; follow your heart. xxxx

  5. Lovely story about your drawing of a horse on top of your wardrobe. I can imagine your sea creature coming to life, rising with the tide and drifting away. What you say about enjoying the process – that’s what I need to remember. The magic of creating art, doing it, and not knowing what will happen. x PS: Thanks for the mention. :-)

    • Thank you so much Richard. I really wanted to believe that my horses would come to life one day. Plus, it kept me creating! I remember, so clearly, being immersed in the process, repeating, repeating, drawing horse after horse, with slight variations. What joy!
      With your pet portraits, you have a clear outcome in mind – and always succeed in my eyes – to create a likeness of your subject. I really feel that it would be so liberating for you just to go grab some random materials and PLAY! Come down to the South Bank some time. x

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