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!

What is creative freedom?

What is creative freedom?
What does it feel like?
How do you achieve it?

If you had a light and airy studio, a limitless variety of materials available to you and all the time in the world, where would you begin? This is the kind of freedom many people think of as they indulge in the dream of being an artist, but in reality, such freedom can be overwhelming.

There is freedom in limitations and right here, right now, you have all that you need available to you in order to begin your artist’s journey.

On May 1, 21012, after many years of neglecting my creativity, I committed to just ten minutes of conscious creative activity each day for 30 days. I committed to my dream of being an artist. A single Mum with two young boys, doing part time work, I did not have a studio, had what felt like no free time and a collection of art materials I had built up over a period of several years when something I thought would help me be an artist caught my eye in the art shop and I couldn’t resist. At first, I set myself little challenges, then, as the days went by, I found that I was no longer making excuses and finding reasons not to start, but I was looking for a way to keep going. Ten minutes turned into thirty which often became a couple of hours without me even noticing. When the month was up and the odd day passed by when I did not make art, I found myself missing it. What I soon realised was that I did not need a studio to make art, I did not even need more time and I certainly did not need specific materials, all that I needed was commitment. A simple commitment to making art in the time and space I already had with materials readily available to me was so liberating. It took less than two weeks before I felt like an artist again. I made myself a little badge and wore it with pride. I had not yet found my voice or made money from my art, it none of this mattered. What I had gained was my sense of self… I had re-connected with my passionate creative heart again… the liberated, creative me that I lost when I stopped making art and expressing myself freely.

What can you create right now, in the time you have with the materials to hand?
I dare you to check back with me in 10 minutes.

If you had time to read this, you have time to make art… now… GO!

If you would like my support on your artistic journey, 21 Days of Creative Freedom could be just what you need! No experience necessary, just a desire to be creative.

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

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

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


How a week of gratitude has shifted my perspective

 

How are you feeling today?
What are you grateful for?

It has been just one week since I started my month of daily gratitude practice, surrounding myself with a wonderful group of brilliant, creative, supportive women, each keen to join me in making gratitude a part of the daily routine. Our little community centres around a secret Facebook group. It is a safe haven, a place to share good news… a group to be thankful for.

After one week of gratitude, I am becoming aware of how the daily practice makes me feel, both in general, and in the moment. In general, I feel calmer within myself. There have been days (well, probably only one), when I have sat quietly for a while wondering what I am grateful for. In pondering, many things have come up… little thoughts and bigger ones… I have so many things to be grateful for. I have noticed that if I am feeling down, taking a moment, not to indulge in feeling sorry for myself, but to think about what I am grateful for, instantly shifts how I feel. A few moments spent reading comments on our Facebook page lifts my mood and even if I am feeling happy, just reading everyone’s good news and thankfulness raises that good feeling up a notch. It has been wonderful to see the support such a group can offer. I had no idea how things would unfold when the idea of setting up Gratitude Daily came to me in the shower as a way of connecting and inspiring people online whilst initiating, formulating and pursuing my own gratitude practice, but I can safely say that this has been one occasion when I am glad I acted on impulse and put an idea out there almost as soon as it came to me… what is unfolding in this little group is thrilling to me. I am so delighted to see people asking for help, offering words of encouragement and virtual hands on backs… and what comes across is this general feeling that “we are not alone“.

I have used creative ways of expressing gratitude to connect with my children, to share with my friends and the ideas keep on coming.

I would ask you today, to contemplate…
How would a week of gratitude practice affected your mood, your day, your week?

Today, I want to share with you an incredible video which I first watched a year ago. It moved me then and it inspires me now. I firmly believe that an attitude of gratitude can change, not only your mood, your day or your week, but your life. Nick Vujicic is a living example. In Nick’s words, “You keep on concentrating on the things that you wish you had or the things that you wish you didn’t have, and you sort of forget what you do have… what I have seen in life are just a couple of key principles and the first thing that I’ve seen is to be thankful…” If you do one thing today, watch the video… and if it inspires you, please share it on.

Please share with me below what you think of Nick’s little film and consider how a week of gratitude could make you feel. For those of you who already practicing gratitude on a regular basis, it would be great to get a conversation going here below in the comments and compare notes on how the process is working for you.

I am grateful to you for being a part of this exciting journey… for taking the time to read my musings on life, creativity and everything. If you think you might benefit from taking part in a gratitude group, do get in touch. And for those of you who are currently walking this path with me, let’s see how the coming week unfolds…

With love,
Julia x

p.s. I have mentioned it before, and I will mention it again… this idea came to me as a result of reading Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to be and Embrace Who You Are. This is a book I would wholeheartedly recommend.

p.p.s. If you enjoyed this post, please share it on. Thank you! x