Call to action

The 30 Day Challenge is up and running and we are two days in. Projects are being announced and today intentions are being set. As a veteran of the 30DC (this is my 5th), I know the kind of magic that happens when you set your intention and follow your heart. What one thing could you do today that will take you a little closer to your bigger dream?

Tea, cake and collage

Four of my fabulous friends just headed home after the first ever Be Creative Daily workshop with Life Collages to be proud of.

I can think of few better ways to spend an evening than drinking tea, eating cake and making art with friends. With little more than a piece of card, a pile of magazines, a pair of scissors and some glue, wonderful, inspiring and possibly life-changing art was created here at BCD HQ tonight!

The process is simple, the result powerful. Life Collage is way of exploring your likes, loves, dreams and desires, in an intuitive, feeling way… discovering images that resonate, words that inspire and putting them together to create a visual expression of the good things you would like in your life. This evening’s Life Collagers all left with a smile, having met new friends, shared lively conversation and interesting ideas whilst making very personal works of art.

I have spoken with lots of people about the creation of Life Collages. For many, they have acted as a powerful tool for change, bringing into focus what is important in their lives. I look forward to hearing what positive changes come about following the creation of these veritable dream boards here tonight.

A conclusion, but not an end… let’s play

The 30 Day Challenge concludes today.
The journey of those 30 days is documented here.
When I look at what I have created over this period of 30 days, I see me. I see an artist. I see colour, life and joy. And that is only half of it. What I see here does not include the hearts in the woods that will, by now, have shifted shape, maybe vanished entirely, but hopefully brought a smile to the faces of passers-by. It does not include the photographs of flowers and trees, my word pictures, my first video interview, my unfinished experiments or the painting I left out in the rain to see what happened. I notice, from what I do have here, that I spent roughly half my time making tangible works of art… and the rest was play, but in a different way.

As those of you who have been following or making this journey along with me will know, this past month has been one of transformation. I have broken down some of the barriers I had put up for myself over many years… fears of making bad art, fears of not living up to my own (often unreasonable) expectations, the pressure (put on by none other than me) to produce something good, something original, something worthwhile. I have been reminded of the great joy and sense of inner peace I used to experience from simply putting pen to paper, from letting words and images flow, from looking at the little details in life and in sharing.

I feel liberated and refreshed, invigorated and inspired.

And I feel lucky.
Lucky to have had this amazing experience… to have grasped an opportunity that was offered to me and to have been part of a safe and incredibly supportive community of people, each taking small steps to make big changes in their lives, spurring each other on, offering encouragement on difficult days and celebrating successes together.

And I am grateful.
Grateful to everyone who has taken the time to read these words, look at these pictures, share their thoughts here. I am grateful to all those who have offered advice and ideas. To Selina and John for creating the space to make such change to happen. Thank you. You have all made this experience such a pleasure.

This evening, I will earn my first playcheque, for inviting people into my home to make art with me. How amazing is that? To get paid to do what I love and share that joy with others. My desire is to inspire and I hope that those who attend the workshop this evening will take pleasure in expressing themselves visually and sharing that experience with others.

Creativity has, once again, become an intuitive and joyful expression of who I am.

Creative play is, after all, only natural. It is the one of the first activities we engage in as children and at that stage, it comes without thinking, it is all in the moment, all about exploring, learning, enjoying life. Surely this is something we all need to re-capture and re-live. Today, without thinking, I found myself singing, improvising with my small son… he led, I followed. I made little films of his innocent and amusing games, photographed his funny little experiments with food on his face, then handed him the camera to document the day in his own way.

What if each one of us took every available opportunity to play…?
What if, whenever we were sad or stuck, we tried to play our way out of the situation…? What if, when faced with a difficult decision or awkward situation, we played it out… thought to ourselves, “what would be the most fun way of dealing with this?” and tried that option out…?
My guess is that it may not work in every situation, but I do believe that in many, it would.

So, as the 30 Day Challenge draws to a close, rather than being an end, this was just the beginning… a little introduction, a prelude to what’s to come… the start of a new, playful chapter in what I hope will become a long and adventurous story in which I hope you will also play a part.

 

Apple rainbow, soup man and fabulous friends

I am a little late posting tonight. I will miss my midnight deadline and missed posting yesterday as well. I am learning not to worry about the little things. I will do what I can when I can on this 30DC journey and remember why I embarked on the challenge in the first place… to bring the JOY of creativity back into my life. So… if it becomes anything less than a pleasure, I must stop.

Yesterday evening I had a good hour or so to focus on my art, but nothing was flowing, nothing became real. It was still fun, though slightly frustrating, so I just continued to play with no results to show, just a pile of images, arranged, rearranged and abandoned… put aside for the moment, to return to (or not) another day.

I no longer worry if I do not produce a finished piece at the end of each day, as long as I have made an effort to do something. This morning, smallest boy’s mind was thinking creatively as he sat with his healthy breakfast laid out on a plate in front of him. “Look Mum, it’s a rainbow,” he told me, looking at the way he had arranged the fruit in an arc on the edge of his plate.
The other food-related observation of the day came at lunch time when some of small son’s soup splattered onto the table. “Look Mum, it is a man and he has a bit of his arm missing.” I saw what he meant immediately. He is three. It made me smile and will be entered into my book of things my small son has done that made me smile“. I have such a book for my big son as well.
In downloading the photographs from my camera, I noticed that he had taken a sneaky photograph of me whilst I sat at the top of the stairs giving a friend advice on the phone about which art materials to buy for her son’s 8th Birthday, at the same time cooking up plans for future workshops in my head, the ideas flowing as we talked about easels and art boxes, brushes and paints.
I do love it when the boys pick up my camera and start snapping as I used to love doing with my own little camera as a kid. I love seeing things through their eyes, looking at the world from a different (usually lower) angle. I liked this picture as it captures the slightly chaotic, informal feel of our little home. I was pleased to see that he had taken a few pictures of his brother as well and tried his hand, once again, at self-portraiture.

This evening, three of my fabulous friends came over. We all have children of the same age, are all creative in our own separate ways, and once in a while find that getting together for a drink and a chat and a spot of making is just what we need. So tonight, the tea was flowing, the honey sweets and chocolates were consumed, the news was shared and the evening passed with each of us working on our own individual projects, inspiring each other to create and sharing life’s latest trials and triumphs. For me, this is one of the very best ways to spend an evening. Every artistic Mum should gather together a group of friends to share and create with… at least once a month. It is good for the art, good for the soul. There is no pressure. Sometimes one of us will make more tea than art or pass an hour of the evening flicking through a fascinating new craft magazine, but it does not matter… it is about being creative friends together, supporting and encouraging each other to do the things we love.

I was not sure what to do, so chose to play. Setting out with no outcome in mind seems to work better for me on some days than others. At times, when I have an idea in mind, know what I would like a piece to look like when completed, I feel disappointed by the result. The opposite can also be true… I can start out with no idea where I am going and end up producing something I had never envisaged and be pleased with the result.

Tonight, I played with cotton buds dipped in white ink, dancing them over black paper. After a couple of smaller patterned pieces, I worked on an A5 sheet, again drawing with white ink on a cotton bud, cutting wiggly lines from an old book, sticking them down, then drawing on top with a black wax crayon and adding some more wiggly lines of tissue paper to the piece. I was both surprised and happy with the result. It was like nothing I had ever created before, but I may one day attempt to make something similar again.

Playing by my own rules

Wednesday afternoon is art club at the local school.  I set up the club at the start of term and was surprised just how many children signed up, keen to explore their creativity, even after a busy day at school.  The energy in that room for our hour of art never ceases to amaze me.  Some of the children follow the ideas I put forward by the letter, others ask to do things a little differently and a few just play by their own rules, exploring their own ideas and building up their own personal style and visual vocabulary with, perhaps, a nod to the artist we are learning about on that day.

Today, I introduced the children to the art of Jean Dubuffet and, in particular, his collage works.  Having shown the children a few examples of Dubuffet’s art, I asked them to take their paintbrush for a walk and create a wandering black line all over their large sheet of white paper.  Then, as the paint dried, they built up colourful drawings and textures on smaller sheets of coloured paper.  These shapes and patterns were then cut up and stuck onto the black and white background which had, in some cases, been coloured in places or had further images added by hand.  Some truly wonderful abstract works emerged from this lesson and inspired my artwork this evening.  Tonight, I having a go at my own lesson… playing by my own rules.

So here, in a visual step by step, is what emerged and how I arrived at the finished work… my Day 2 creation for the 30 Day Challenge.