Plans for May

I announced on Instagram the other day my plan to go on another social media hiatus in May. This is something I periodically do as a means of self-care. In the past, I’ve left it too late before taking a break and I’ve been left rolling in the dregs at the bottom of the barrel. I’ve been burnt out and rendered speechless with nothing productive to say.

I’ve learned from this experience, I’m planning my retreat ahead of schedule, when I’m still in a good position and enjoying the experience. I’m taking a rest while the going is good. And there’s a voice saying to me, I’m a fool for going now, for leaving the party early so to speak. Things are getting exciting, I’m making connections. I’m also receiving a lot of support for my #100daysproject. I go silent and I will loose all momentum, all exposure etc.

My sanity and health is more important. I take breaks from social media as an act of self-care. The time away gives me the time and space to go within and listen more carefully to my own wisdom. Going dark on the internet, gives me a chance to create without distractions or comparisons. It gives me space and permission to breathe.

I’ll still be posting here as well as on Patreon and sending out Studios Notes during this time as I feel as if I’m just getting started with this blogging malarkey.

This break is coming at a time when our new project is beginning, which involves more Black, Asian and ethnic minorities getting out into the British Countryside. I’ll share more details soon.

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5 ways to cultivate creativity

In the past, I’ve struggled with creativity. I thought I could neglect it and keep it under wraps. But creativity is an energy which won’t be silenced or railroaded.

It has to be respected, nurtured and practiced. Frequently.

Here are a few ways that I stay creative, they might even work for you too.

1. Turn up daily.

Being creative is a practice and you can only practice when you turn up. Turn up at the page, the canvas, the computer. Turn up without expectations, just commit to giving creativity some time and attention and see where it takes you.

2. Never give up, never surrender.

Some days the ideas are flowing. The words are all making sense. The colours are working together. I’m in the creative flow and I feel so much joy. But other days, I’m finding it difficult. I’m struggling to make sense, to feel good about what I’m doing. It’s icky. But I keep going. I keep turning ip because I know I’ll get back to the flow and joy and sweet spot.

3. Fall in love with the process

Process over product every time. Through focusing on the process, I’ve a much enjoyable ride. I learn so much about tools and skills and techniques. I’m present in the moment rather than jumping ahead to the end and stressing about if anyone will like what I create. With focus on the process, it doesn’t matter if anyone gets what the finished piece is about because the value comes through the practice.

4. Diversify

I suspend attachment and worries and stress when I create multiples or dabble in multiple creative projects. When I create in batches or move between different art form such as writing poetry and painting an abstract, it means I don’t place all my eggs in one basket. It means I’m not focusing on perfection or completion. I’m focusing on this mark now. And then the next mark. And how they talk to each other. I’m lost in the movement and the creating.

5. Trust yourself

This is probably the hardest thing to cultivate in terms of creativity as far too often we listen to our fears and self-doubts. We spend time and energy overthinking the process or second guessing our actions. We doubts our abilities and intentions. We fall into the comparison trap and before we know it we’re paralysed. We cease to create and feel a failure.

Trust in myself as a Creatrix has developed over time through practice. Through showing up and doing the work and enjoying the process. The more I do the more confident I am in what I have to say and share creatively with the world.

ten things

A few moons ago, I tried to bring into practice writing ten things about my day. Ten observations without using metaphor or simile. I detailed the task at length in this blogpost.

I kept up the practice for just a few weeks. Life as usual got in the way. Tonight, I find myself wanting to return to this practice. Maybe it’s been thinking on my decision to go deeper into my practices and life instead of adding width through acquiring new things, that has me reflecting on this ten things practice.

I see this daily practice as a means of generating more gratitude for the life I have created at the same time as grounding me in the present moment.

We’ll see how it goes. I’ll be sharing these creations on a special project page on my website – ten things. I hope you enjoy these sharings and look forward to reading them.

My Year of Deepening

tintype-577394653.781030While reading an email course I’d signed up to about community, there were links to the person’s website and courses. Before I knew it, I fell through the rabbit hole, following links and thinking of signing up to get another course which promised to support my quest in getting more in touch with my intuition.

Forget that, I probably couldn’t afford the course, the wonder and excitement juices were already flowing. The thrill of the new was taking over as I was pulling out the credit card. But wait. I took a step back. Backed off the ‘buy, buy, buy’ button and hit the breaks. What was I doing?

Buying another online course I wouldn’t finish? Spending money I didn’t have to spend? Fooling myself into thinking that this course held all the answers I was looking for?

All fantasy and stories we tell ourselves to justify the buy, the need and wish to accumulate yet another thing, I know off by heart. I don’t need width. I don’t need to buy another course, another book, another life. I need to focus and appreciate and dig deep into the things, the books, the skills, the course, the life I already have.

Around the beginning of the year, I’d heard about a #depthyear, but wasn’t sure what it was. I thought it was in connection with choosing a word for the year. But today, I found out what it means. The idea came about through an article by David Cain called ‘Go Deeper, Not Wider.’ Within it, Cain stresses a new tradition or intention of not starting any new hobbies, or buying any new things for a year but to revisit, reconnect, reuse the things he already had.

“No new hobbies, equipment, games, or books are allowed during this year. Instead, you have to find the value in what you already own or what you’ve already started.
You improve skills rather than learning new ones. You consume media you’ve already stockpiled instead of acquiring more.
The guiding philosophy is “Go deeper, not wider.” Drill down for value and enrichment instead of fanning out. You turn to the wealth of options already in your house, literally and figuratively. ”

In the age of consumerism, this is no easy task, as it’s habit to buy the newest gadgets and clothes. Value is placed on the new and the young rather than the used and the old. But what could be achieved and accomplished, if we just focused on what we had already and we took satisfaction and sustenance from that?

Subconsciously, I feel as if I have been going deeper through my #100dayprojects, first with abstract paintings and now with the black female portraits and figure paintings. Somewhere in my being, I felt the need to drill deeper into these practices in order to get better at them as well as to understand them. However, during the process, I’ve brought new art supplies and tools and books. I think this demonstrates a lack of trust in my own abilities by looking elsewhere for guidance and permission and inspiration.

All I need I have already. A lot of what I need is inside me to excavate, and if not then I can find the answers or further questions in the mountains of books and articles and courses I have accumulated over the years.

So take this post as the beginning of my year of deepening. Saturday 20 April, 2019.

By taking a whole year to go deeper instead of wider, I hope to develop a rich and joyful and carefully curated collection of interests, pursuits, skills and knowledge. I hope to reduce the power of newness and possessions has over me, in order to foster a deeper gratitude for what I have, the luxuries I already enjoy or have neglected.

Going deeper requires patience, practice, and engagement. Interestingly enough, these attributes have featured as my words of the year for the past few years. Maybe a sign that all has been leading to the point of awakening as I plan to delve deeper into this one glorious life I have.

What are some of your essential tools?

Recently I’ve been asked a few questions about my practice and process with my artwork. One question which struck a cord was, what are some of your essential tools for creating?

 

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My practice changes but what I can say is that I’ve fallen in love with mark-making while completing #100daysofabstracts, so anything that can manipulate paint on the page is something I want to get my hands on.

My trusty old disused credit card is always by my side as I use it to create the background for my visual journaling, but lately this has been accompanied by a Catalyst pebble sculptor No.6 white, a plaster’s trowel and a spaghetti scoop.

I love creating mixed media layers of papers, pencil, pastels, gesso and acrylic paint and then scraping layers away so the past is revealed.

Take the term, palimpsest which I’ve come to understand through my writing practice as a piece of paper where the text has been scraped or washed off so that it can be reused but each use is still visible, like a ghost.

I see the abstracts I’ve been creating in the same light when I create layers and scrap areas back so previous layers or versions haunt the finished piece. I’ve always been interested in how to read history and heritage in light of the present so we can learn for the future, through these abstracts I’ve been exploring these concepts visually.

My Favourite Influencer

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I’ve started my second #100daysproject of 2019. Joining in with the official challenge, #The100dayproject, I’ve decided to focus on created images where I see myself reflected, #100daysofblackwomen.
I’ve purposely not set up any long, drawn out rules. All I have to do each day is create a face or figure of a black woman. Far too often in art, if a Black Woman is present, she is not represented in an empowering or positive way. She might be the servant, or a sexualised object, ridiculed and degraded.
I want to look upon art and see my multifaceted identity reflected; the good and bad, the truth.
It’s only been in the last few years really that I’ve embraced this practice of creating, painting black women. I know taking Painting the Feminine with Dirty Footprint Studios, hosted by Connie Solera has influenced this development. Creating within a supportive group of women and gently pushed into our own ideas of what femininity can be has been a catalyst for
my explorations and expressions.
A recent discovery has pushed me further into my own visual language. This has been finding the artwork of Mystele Kirkeeng and then watching her create her pieces.
Watching Mystele and learning about her practice and techniques gave me permission to trust my own messy process. Seeing her process made me value my own for the first time and to lean into it more. It’s such a glorious feeling to finally believe in what I create at the same time as not worrying or stressing about whatever anyone else thinks about my artwork. Mystele reminds of the joy and excitement I can have for my own creativity. And this is priceless.

The Phoenix Soul

The Phoenix Soul started out as a digital magazine but now it is so much more; a collaborative blog, a creative community, a life-line for women who put creativity at the centre of their lives.

I’ve been lucky to be featured within the digital magazine a few times over the years. Issue 60, Inner Truth, saw me sharing about my embracing of my authenticity and intuition. Issue 62 Whole Hearted Living, details my love of getting into the sea and swimming with nature. The thrill. The medicine.

And I will soon feature within the collaborative blogging space as one of the new artist profiles. But until then I wanted to share from the blog a post by the creator of The Phoenix Soul, Amanda Fall. In this post she explores #bodypositivity through art journaling. And as someone who is on the path of self-love and body acceptance whatever my size, I found this share and video inspiring. I hope you do too.

A favourite quote …

It’s difficult to pin down my one and only favourite quote as I love so many. I use quotes as inspiration, as thought points, as guides.

At the beginning of each Studio Note I send out to subscribers, I include a quote, to set the tone, to ease into the topic of discussion.

Toni Morrison is always a favourite writer I quote because it was her book, The Bluest Eye, where I first found myself in literature. Before that, I always had to identify with the white female lead in the story. I found myself wishing I was something I was not; white, blond and blue eyed. In The Bluest Eye, I found myself, a little black girl growing up in a cruel, racist world, thinking if only she was white, then she’d be loved.

My quote isn’t from The Bluest Eye this time but it does touch upon this topic of self-love; my focus this year as my word is LOVE for 2019.

“In this here place, we flesh; flesh that weeps, laughs; flesh that dances on bare feet in grass. Love it. Love it hard. Yonder they do not love your flesh. They despise it. They don’t love your eyes; they’d just as soon pick em out. No more do they love the skin on your back. Yonder they flay it. And O my people they do not love your hands. Those they only use, tie, bind, chop off and leave empty. Love your hands! Love them. Raise them up and kiss them. Touch others with them, pat them together, stroke them on your face ’cause they don’t love that either. You got to love it, you! And no, they ain’t in love with your mouth. Yonder, out there, they will see it broken and break it again. What you say out of it they will not heed. What you scream from it they do not hear. What you put into it to nourish your body they will snatch away and give you leavins instead. No, they don’t love your mouth. You got to love it. This is flesh I’m talking about here. Flesh that needs to be loved. Feet that need to rest and to dance; backs that need support; shoulders that need arms, strong arms I’m telling you. And O my people, out yonder, hear me, they do not love your neck unnoosed and straight. So love your neck; put a hand on it, grace it, stroke it and hold it up. and all your inside parts that they’d just as soon slop for hogs, you got to love them. The dark, dark liver–love it, love it and the beat and beating heart, love that too. More than eyes or feet. More than lungs that have yet to draw free air. More than your life-holding womb and your life-giving private parts, hear me now, love your heart. For this is the prize.”

Toni Morrison, Beloved

already there inside you

I return after a three month hiatus for social media to take a few weeks away from work, in the real world, to recharge the batteries. I spent my time away from cyberspace, reconnecting with my self and my creativity but also working hard to build a union. At the moment, I’m close to burn-out because of it. So I need to step back and assess how I’m using my energy.

For the past few days, I’ve been operating with a sharp pain within my right side. I’ve experienced this pain before, a few months ago, but that pain came and went within a day. This pain has stayed. It may be related to something deeper inside that is happening, but at the moment, I’m reading it as a sign. My body is telling me to stop and I’m listening.

Metaphorically, I’m reading this stabbing pain, which increases when I bend down or put any pressure on, as a thorn in my side. That there’s been someone or some situation which has been causing me a lot of grief and heartache. Hence the rest. And I’m not going to allow this to continue to sap my energy and attention.

What I’ve been doing is stretching my body out, leaning into the pain and breathing. Kundalini yoga. Allowing the sensation ( see I changed the word there) to course through me and be. Yes I still feel the pain and discomfort but at least, I’m managing it. I’m not allowing it to stop me. Or define me.

I know if I was alright with myself, whole even, the past few months of attrition wouldn’t bother me, wouldn’t touch me. I also know that it takes a lot of energy and belief and self-love to let it just flow away and not touch me. It’s a practice. I continue to practice this each day. Some days I manage this and some days I don’t.

I leave you with some words of wisdom I read today on IG, from @the_ardent_alchemist, I’m thankful for this reminder.

>> … and suddenly you know in a flash – – just like that! – – that there is nothing to strain or strive for and there never has been. everything you need is already there inside you – it has been given to you and it can never be taken away … <<