Monday, 26 September 2016

How Autumn Inspires Me

So it's the end of September, already.  I'm feeling Autumn in my bones, and inhaling the scent of it as I walk my daughter to school.  The morning air is damp and cool and there are small yellow and orange leaves in the gutter, like leftover confetti from a carnival.  Our light evenings are dwindling into darkness earlier, and I notice that my flip flops are still in the hallway and need to go back in the cupboard.  I need to dig out warmer things, like cosy boots and warm scarves.  

I let go of summer reluctantly, I didn't want the warmth to leave, the long heady days where the sun shone and it was hot and we went to the beach and life felt free and brilliant.  I didn't want to let go of that and I resisted Autumn, I felt a sort of grief as I tried to reconcile myself to the fact that the season was changing and that was that.  Never more so do I feel a change in the seasons as when Summer departs, yet having to let go of the warmer weather reminds me again to be mindful, to accept change and allow life to flow as it always will.

Acceptance instantly makes things feel easier.

The arrival of Autumn has led to some new colours on my palette.  I walk alot and notice flowers, seedheads and stems, I see structure and colour and although bright it is not 'fresh bright' like you see in May.  These colours are mature, they are deep and warm as they hold the heat of the sun and stories of long days.
I drank in these beautiful colours and used them in my latest painting 'September' which I just recently finished.  I wanted to capture those colours and the feelings of late summer, such a mixture of happy and wistful.  I wanted to paint the sadness of summer leaving us, so a flock of lonely birds migrating  in the sky above those vivid blooms is my nod to saying goodbye.  I painted a robin into the picture too, as I hear his song tinged with melancholy as I work in the studio.  He sits on the wall by the door and I see him through the window and I wonder if he too, feels the change as we do.  I think he does.

My paintings are becoming more emotive and I find myself thoroughly immersed in these floral pieces - have no idea how they are going to unfold.  I begin them with a wisp of an idea, a shape or a colour that I know I must capture and put on canvas.  The rest just happens.
I have an idea bubbling away for a winter piece soon, I can already feel and see the colours that I will use - a brand new palette again to capture the fleeting colour and sensations of our seasons.  I am finding it very medatitive creating these art works, and I really hope that they resonate with you in some way too.
Like many people, this time of year feels like a new beginning for me, almost like New Year where we feel compelled to set new intentions, create new habits, buy new materials and note books, start journalling and dreaming up new ideas.  I like that after the lazy days of summer I am able to find a focus again, I feel industrious and brimming with possibility.
I take care to plan my days now, it is important for me to have a routine and structure or else I am easily led astray and end up meandering, reading books and baking cakes.  I invested in this Happy Planner a few months back, and each Sunday evening I spend a pleasant time filling in the coming week with my plans.  I can't imagine how I lived without one for so long - the addition of washi tape and planner stickers from various sellers on Etsy have made my schedule (especially the chores) look far prettier and easier on the eye.  I'd heartily recommend getting one if you haven't already.  I feel happier knowing that I have some semblence of order in my world, just having things penciled in and knowing what's going on is mighty comforting.
Autumn is a beautiful time of year and I am happily looking forward to crisp walks through colourful leaves, a trip to the coast, amazing sunsets, bonfires, mulled cider and of course cosy nights curled up in front of the fire with family.

Let Autumn inspire you - tell me your favourite ways of enjoying this beautiful season.

J xxx

Thursday, 26 May 2016

A long overdue Hello...

(The Magical Garden)

Is it really May?  Has it really been this long since I wrote a blog post?  It seems so.  This year is meandering and winding along in its own sweet way, it seems a time of growing and learning and slowing down to appreciate and accept things.

I don't know if I mentioned it but I had a tricky few months where I didn't want to paint.  I'd go as far as to say that I didn't know what to do with myself at all, I had ground to something of a full stop and my mind was full of questions and panic.

If I don't do this, then what?

I had become tired of my style, tired of painting the same thing.  I was fed up of feeling flat and lifeless, and truth be told I was also scared.  I realised that I had let my work define me, I had given myself a label and didn't know what to do without it.  
So, I let myself wander a bit.  I walked around with those lost feelings and wondered how to heal them, and how to find my way again.  In the end, I just gave in and let go.  What will be, will be.

One day, I went down to my studio, I unlocked the door and wandered over to my desk.  I didn't have a clue what I was going to do.  I was an empty vessel of possibility, and surprisingly this felt ok.  I squeezed out some paint, filled up my jam jar with fresh water and took out a wooden panel.  And then I sat there for a while, just thinking.

(The beginnings of the Magical Garden)

I decided not to inspire myself online.  I decided not to do what I had always done (which was lose hours of my life on Pinterest, blogs and websites being inspired), but just sit there and let it flow.  And like some celestial miracle from above, that is what happened.  I kid you not, I just let the brush do the talking and watched in something akin to astonishment as I began to fill that panel with colour, and then began to fill it with blooms and flowers working right to left (which in itself is strange, as I always work left to right across a canvas).  I felt the stirrings of something exciting happening.  I utterly lost myself in that painting and the hours melted away.  It was fortuitous that I happened to look at the clock on the studio wall to discover it was slightly past three in the afternoon, and I needed to be collecting my daughter from school, or I fear I may well have sat there painting until bedtime.

I couldn't stop thinking about what had happened in my studio.  I went in the next day and sat for a while, looking at what I had done before picking up the brush and with no effort at all filling the spaces with colour and life.  I didn't have to think, it appeared as if someone else were doing the work and I were merely a bystander.

And so, the Magical Garden was created.  It embodied the quiet mystery of those days in my studio where magic had actually happened.  People seemed to like it very much, and yet I couldn't explain where it had come from, this image, this change of style from seawashed beaches to enchanted gardens twinkling with fairy lights.

But I liked it.

And since then, I have worked on a few more like it.  And just like the first one, they seem to happen all by themselves, my brushes take on a life of their own and breathe their magic into the artwork.  I sit there, and let it come.  I know this may seem slightly woo-woo to some of you reading this, but it's the best way I can explain it to you.

(A corner of Twilight Magic)


Some of these works are now living in happy new homes, and limited editions are being enjoyed in various homes around the globe.  Newer pieces are with a publishing company and are being considered as art prints and cards.  I feel astonished and amazed.  And in the middle of this amazement, I am conscious that this is what happens when we let it be, when we just surrender into the moment and let the magic come.  We can't force it, we can't be anyone else and if we just stop and pause, be mindful and let the panic and the fear ebb comes.

(a work in progress)

This art journey of mine ties in with other things I've been experiencing of late.  As I move forward into my early forties I notice subtle changes.  I seem to have gained some extra weight which has crept on insidiously without me noticing, and have been prone to some roller coaster mood swings and low times.  These have been hard to bear at times, and I have felt at a loss, even a sense of grief as I realised I needed to let go of certain things in order to move forward.  I struggled to accept my expanding waistline and would look on in horror as yet another outfit refused to fit.  It seems, as some of you will wisely know, to be just a part of getting a bit older.  I have done my homework though, and I understand this phase much better now, I'm no longer 25 and cannot eat pudding and cake as often as I might like.  It seems one needs to adhere to the idea of smaller portions but also to be mindful that nothing is prohibited.  I have found that this way works for me far better than any quick fix diet, and have been gradually losing a few of those unwanted pounds while at the same time accepting the new curvier version of myself and investing in a few bits of clothing that actually fit which feels great!

  I have also found a wonderful herbalist who I see every few weeks and I feel much more relaxed and happy.  I am devouring many healing books (Susun Weed and Marilyn Glenville) and working with mindfulness CDs (try Sandy C Newbigging, his recordings and books are amazing) as well as practising it in day to day life.  I have started to go on bike rides along the trans Pennine trail, a beautiful car free route through countryside and woodland which is close to my home, and I continue with my yoga and trying to eat healthier (well, most of the time!)  I like to think that I am supporting my mind, body and soul as well as I can by doing these new things, and it all feels postitive. 
There are still some days which are tough, but as I accumulate a new tool kit to help me navigate this part of my life, I feel stronger and better able to understand what I really need, to be healthy and well.

(Enchanted Cove)

I look forward to sharing more new art work with you all soon.  I am also pleased to tell you that Twilight Magic will soon be available in the gallery shop as a limited edition print (in a run of 25).  Why not sign up to my mailing list to find out when they are here? 

Thanks so much for reading.

Have a beautiful day.
Julia x


Monday, 18 January 2016

Paint, Draw, Create

I am a soul who is very much affected by the weather, today is a day that makes me feel my surroundings are unbearable - a dreary fog, leftover patches of ice and snow and sad looking trees, dripping water from their bare brown branches.  I am trying hard to see beyond the brown and grey tones of the day and notice the birds who are visiting, and the new buds that are appearing, not to mention an early abundance of spring bulbs peeking out in my pots, delicious and succulent strong green shoots full of promise and hope.

So, my daily challenge is proving to be a huge tonic as it takes my mind away from the awful weather outside, and I can lose myself in my imagination where colour and magic lurks.  It is a fabulous distraction, this daily half an hour is both medicinal and productive in ways I hadn't imagined.  It is allowing me a space to play, away from the more serious business of producing art for licensing companies and to sell on my website, and for galleries and so forth.  It is a pocket of time where I get to explore ideas that would normally be forgotten, to put them onto paper, to see what happens when I play with gouache or ink.  Some of the pieces have surprised me - I've been rather excited by what I've produced.  Other days, when its not so easy to get inspired and I sit looking at a white piece of paper in my book it is harder yet still I draw....something.

I am using everyday objects as a starting point - a bottle of Henderson's relish was one, a blackbird in the garden was another.

I am discovering a like of typographical art, and I am absolutely in love with gouache paint - why haven't I tried this before?  I am now a convert, loving the buttery paint that dries to a chalky opaque finish which I can draw over in ink or felt pen.  It is opening up new horizons for my work.  I can see how my #paintdrawcreate366 daily art pieces are moving me in new directions, teaching me to try new things, and it feels good. Exciting.

These aren't polished, finished pieces and some of them I felt a little awkward about sharing on Instagram.  Having being used to tidying everything up in photoshop after working hard to perfect a piece, this is a new one on me in a way, laying bare the bones of a piece of work as it is, paint sloppily going over the edges, the writing not quite fitting in the space, sloping upwards, colours bleeding....all the little flaws that are suddenly just part of the piece.  And me and the girls decided to brave it, to share the crappy pieces along with the ones we really liked.  It's like running down the street in your underwear, you feel a little exposed and embarressed that people are seeing it.

If you want to join us, you can share your pictures on Instagram using the hashtag #paintdrawcreate66.  You will find me trying my best to post daily alongside Caroline Rose Art, Marna Lunt and Kate Brazier, Artist.

Explore. Create. Join in.

Julia x

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