Studio

 

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Recently I was involved in a post discussion on Women in The Arts Scotland and it was a wonderful insight into what makes the perfect studio. My friend forwarded me the link again so I could join in again and I was embarrassingly slow at responding for the following reasons;

i like work

I am completely O.C.D when it comes to my work space. She will probably verify that actually   having been at Edinburgh Art college with me.. many moons ago. Some of our peers were able to create wherever their paintbrush landed , and make art out of the air they breathed. Alas I was not one of them. There were always too many things to think about and put together first, ideas to note   down, and drawings to sketch, projects to plan.  Ha ha,. But that was just the beginning… there was also the desk to get right! The materials to purchase.. the stationery or paint to buy ( Oh how wonderful are new art supplies!?! The desk or studio to rearrange, the coffee or ( At art college probably-beer!) to arrange artfully..- I’m being honest here…

blue brush tins

Back then I thought I was a bit wierd, and kicked myself for taking so long to start stuff, but now I think, those little quirks were important, and helped create the right atmosphere or feeling , and I did make a lot of art too!!! How we wish we could mentor our younger selves and tell them how well we are doing!!

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And knowing what you like and need to create is a really important part of your creative world and journey. You can’t expect yourself to cook in a kitchen with no ingredients or pots. Why would art or craft be any different? It should be a multi sensory thing.. make it feel as wonderful as possible.. add a sprinkling of music, of soft rugs ,or a huge armchair. Make it warm. Make it cold if that’s your thing.  As long as eventually you get it to a point where you find your comfy spot!! I believe now that anyone can feel the joy of making.. something..  but if the space and feeling are right first!

fluffy socksSo now.. fast forward 23 years…. OH MY GOODNESS!!!! How did that happen? And I would appear to be at it still. Only now.. instead of one space.. it is three !! When we first moved to the house, I tried a variety of different combinations of studio and work spaces , which had to work around keeping an eye on a small person and being functional on a cold day, if body parts were particularly painful..

Things will inevitably move about again, but I have shuffled things into the space(s) that work best for this person, at this moment!

The caravan is both an office ( when weather permits) as well as a weekend retreat! It has  been decoupaged and chalk painted and has enjoyed the odd roll of vintage effect fablon.. This space feels very clean and organised! It is a great room for conjuring up ideas and playing music to annoy the neighbours xx

Inside the house, the spare room, is also a making room for sewing, and less messy pursuits! It is going to be impossible to be outside on cold days when my legs and hands are already blue! So I doubled the desk space , using a leftover kitchen counter scrap.

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My actual studio is in a perfect spot.. you can see the sea from the window.. This was always my dream. For five years, I thought about seeing the sea.. even a little bit from a desk as you painted.  In my old house we cut a hole in the hedge and stuck a hollowed out piece of tree trunk in it as a window.. so there was a view of sorts.. ( and a cat bed) But I held this dream close and kept our goal..

This little hut is quiet and feels like I can make creative mess there that can’t be done in the house.. But it is a little small and nobody else can get in there with me and make  art too! So with the last few pennies found down the back of the sofa.. there is a new project about to start…

There will be an exciting new addition to the hut family soon! So a re-jigging and a re-purposing of current art hut as a proper summer house .. Hopefully by Christmas, I will be able to re-post this with the new baby! I can’t wait to show you. We will be finally closer to Liz at The Beach Hut and a venture we can share xxxxx!!

Liz xx

 

 

Three T’s

Tea-and-Toast1.jpgI think There’s a perfect time of day for everybody . Mine happens to be at five in the morning , much to my best friend’s horror when she heard my alarm go off when she stayed the night . In your magical time , your brain works best , your meds might be at their peak if that’s relevant ! Or your children might be sleeping ! ( oh yes … for most that’s a really important factor!) caffeine might be slowly inking its way like a 

 snake through your veins and the momentum to create, in your own chosen way is right there ready and waiting … I think this time is so precious . I really don’t like sleeping in , I feel cheated of my shuffling time . During this hour I can be known to do any of the following: paint furniture ( in front of a box set or drama on tv) write on here, catch up with posts and photos on our facebook sites lizatcreate and lizatthebeachhut after a community class, do the mum stuff that’s so good to get out the way before they wake up, and generally potter about feeding animals and doing whatever the opposite of unwinding is … 

sunrise 

But it’s more than that . It’s the mind stuff I like too . Being able to organise your thoughts and let a bit of intuition in , wander on a Facebook spaghetti path not knowing what blog or post you’ll end up being drawn to . It’s nice just to be, just to see what you’ll discover you’ll like to discover next ! Click on an audio , see what your pals are doing and learn things . Sometimes it’s when you sit down and just make or write . But I think if you put pressure on having to do a particular thing it won’t be enjoyable ……The whole point of T time is that it should be un-criticised by anyone, or be a list of chores like the rest of life . Be ready .. Have things in a box nearby just in case the urge comes over you during Eastenders!bd66d7ed9de4ab889f9c24abc6819f96--writers-shelves

( clearly I speak from experience ! )  I also find it’s good to do two things at once – like listen to a story on BBC iplayer radio drama at the same time as painting, or have half an eye on a film and decoupage your cupboard .. this has the unlikely result of absorbing all your senses , stopping you from thinking about crap and allowing you to relax into the task at hand .

You also remember the programme/ film etc through the creation every time you look at it . I remember a great rendition of Dorian gray , I watched , every time I see a particular painting I did for an exhibition. Association  .

This is also a good feed-your -brain -in -the -bath -time . Make the bath of your choice with all the usual shenanigans . Personally I find baths hard , ( but British showers are worse !) And I persevere for the peace I get . She hates the bath rack . It falls in the bath when she’s playing with her toys too splashily!! . But , it is great to hold a book on a wire rack , and has a thingy for a plate of toast . I’d leave the tea on the side of your bath if you model is like mine, we don’t want tea scalding injuries and more hospital visits !! And then  , read 10 pages of something wonderful that grows your mind !! In whatever direction you get drawn to at the library or bookshop .

hygge bath

There is so much to learn , and so many paths to choose . But it is so important to know what you do and don’t want in your head right now ( tomorrow can wait) … if history , politics, the worlds endangered elephants isn’t what your focus is today .. switch off a bit from that and you can still be a  decent person, directing your precious energy into what you’re interested and good at . 

Sometimes I don’t watch the news because it’s too much . But The world doesn’t stop , I haven’t changed how much I care , I won’t stop caring and I’ll catch up on important things . The tides will turn , the moon will swap places with the sun again . We’re not here long so I’m going to carve out those precious times and make them nice.  Give yourself three t’s occasionally..

Time , Tea and Toast .xxxx

Thank you B.F.F. XX

 

liz and leah

This little kitten is the person I am most proud of in the world . It isn’t always easy being her I’m sure , but we do have an awful lot of fun . Since the day she was born, after a long long long time and a lot of surgery and complications .. let’s just leave it there … she and I have felt like a team, and I feel it wouldn’t be right to do this page without thanking her .

So , despite the normal tantrums, tiaras, tears, meltdowns, moods and many many small plastic accessories , copious fluffy toys and inevitable grumps and grumbles  .. here’s a celebration of my partner in crime and the reason we can currently do what we do . Recognised as a young carer, she sometimes has to be that bit more grown up and I love the balance of hilarity we also get to have too . I know you’re not meant to say your kids are your best friend , but she is a pretty amazing  person . She’s kind and brave and has a huge heart .

She sometimes has to push a wheelchair, or a supermarket trolley, or help with picking things up that migrate south , and she mostly does it without question ! At times when there is anger over these things for her , there is soon after,  genuine love, compassion and an honest wish to be a team. I am so proud of the human being she is becoming , the way that the lessons life is throwing at her are developing her into someone with confidence, sparkle, wit and strength ,whilst still being very much a child , playing and running wild in the fields with her friends.

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I love you so much  sweetheart and you are the fairydust in everything we do. You were put here , not to be my helper but to remind us all of how kind people can be and how to be a friend  , I cant wait to see what adventures we will get up to next.

All my love . Your mummy . xxx 

Trust

Hope Orphanage Trust

There will be a number of people reading this blog  and that familiar  instinct will start to niggle. Everybody  wants something from you or the content must be false or has been written with a need to feed their own ego . Fair enough . You might need to feel that way just now. The reason for that is a complicated thing , but it generally means you might just really find it hard to trust someone being kind or giving you something without wanting anything in return . 

I have been in situations of Late where despite slogging my guts out , I have faced doubters and others inability to trust , therefore displaying unhappiness , jealousy or other less pleasant manners ! in the form of a variety of different guises. It happened once and I tried even harder, it happened twice and I smiled and walked away wishing the person well.

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I used to try so so hard to make people happy . I thought I could and that it was my job to . That because I had all this love , and all these ideas on how to make things better that’s what I needed to do , regardless of me . It’s still ok to want to do that, its just so much better if you aren’t exhausting yourself filling the gaps in someone else’s learning to satisfy your desire to perfect everything. And you can let them see the problem, but not fix every tiny detail for them. 

In the context of both the classroom and life though , the truth is , that the harder you care for others , without knowing that you deserve it too , all you do is create a reliance on others towards you for ever , without them learning the skills to develop as independent creative and unique people. 

lighthouse trust

To create well, you need to really love what you are madly collecting pictures of, thinking about drawing, imagining the marks you’ll make, or embracing the layers of texture you have found is your secret code for your work, or your fabric piece or your , or the brush-marks in your painting. No amount of teaching can find your unique way of making your artwork , but listening to every scrap of advice without ego and not judging yourself or anyone else is a good way to start.

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I guess it’s as simple as still bringing the paint and ideas and passion to the table , and being your inspirational wonderful self but not needing to know the outcome of each persons artwork , leaving the journey as important as the destination . Teaching the very young or elderly slows everything down to a snail’s pace , becoming about each brushstroke and the conversation at the time . Very rarely is the end result. Their trust in that minute , in you is a gift and a privilege. 

It can be an amazing thing to notice when we are given moments like this, when we find people who trust us, when time slows down to no -time and everybody is in the zone.

If you know you are being genuine , your work will be too. If you send out the message that you don’t trust people or gifts given in all shapes and sizes to you.. then that mistrust surrounds you like a cloak; and you forget to peep out from under it , once in a while. Not everyone is like the person that made you feel that way..

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Enjoy at least some of the ride , come and stick your hands in some paint… some of life’s passengers are quite wonderful! ! Xx 

At The Seaside

Beautiful St Abbs

Our journey to the sea began when I was a little girl being buried in the sand on Broadstairs Beach, or flooded in a caravan park in Wales. But we loved the thrill of the British Summer at the sea, where the days stretched out ahead with no plan, and parents mysteriously became languid and less bothered with dirt, schedules or routine..

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seaside-rummage.jpg  You were allowed to collect treasure, eat gruesome combinations of extra salty and sugary food and make instant friends over a rock pool find. Even beach sandwiches tasted amazing when you were little, peppered with sand and suncream crusts.

1502805201614.jpg--kilkenny___best_chips_pollHow wonderful to stay there, in our perfect place.. Oh wait.. thirty more years had to happen first, lessons to be learnt, children stepchildren, divorce, flats, degrees and houses, people to meet and health issues to navigate. But the die was cast . I knew in my heart that one day there would be fishing boats and seagulls near my door. I just didn’t know when.

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Several life issues collided and as I think I told you earlier, after five years in our temporary but lovely house that I bought when my life exploded, not being able to teach because of arthritis and also other slightly intrusive issues best left out of here…it was so time for an adventure! So we walked into an estate agent’s before Christmas last year and our house was sold in two weeks.

Our other house was lovely too. It was a hug house. It was what we needed at the time. Necessary to meet the friends I’m keeping for always, and to learn the tools in my newly polished, slightly scared tool kit.  Creating independence, bravery, strength and the ability to manage on our own against every set of odds imaginable.. that’s what that house gave us.

The best part ( and the worst bit about here ) is that my best friends could visit easily! I love these girls.. oh and one honorary girl.. sorry pal x. (although Australia is a bit far for a cuppa at either house !) They, and a few others had become my lifeline, having no family nearer than 400 miles. But they gently coaxed me,out of my fears and into my potential . Initially , I had that panic of  doing the right thing on moving.. it can be very very lonely and scary….

but look they do visit!! (This one is going to Spain now so we can all be brave at any time!)

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(More on friends at a later date.. don’t worry Won’t miss anyone…. xx)

Some St Abbs Stuff

St Abbs is a little fishing village on the edge of another slightly bigger village of Coldingham, on the southeastern coast of Scotland,  within the  parish of Berwickshire, and is well known as a site for scuba divers. The sea around the village is unusually clear,  and the spectacular underwater scenery resulted in Britain’s first Voluntary Marine reserve being established here.

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The double archway at “Cathedral Rock” is just 50 metres from the shore. Several small, nearby rocky islands, such as “Big Green Carr”, “Broad Craig” and “Little Carr” are near to the harbour and can be easily circumnavigated underwater.

A new visitor centre was opened in St Abbs in March 2011.The centre is located in the former village hall.  I may see some of you there sometime xx

St Abbs has its own privately funded and independent lifeboat station. The lifeboat station was originally established in 1911 following the sinking of the S.S. Alfred Erlandsen..

The station was previously operated by the RNLI but following its closure in 2015, a local fundraising effort saw the station saved through public donations and funding from the Tunnock’s company. The station was re-opened and the new boat launched on 17 September 2016. They are a very determined lot around here!

We miss our friends so much, but they do come, they stay longer , they bring their dogs and wellies and breathe deeper. We did the right thing for us and hope to see some of you in future projects with us here soon.

Love Liz and leah xx

no 4

Grandmas Garden

There is nothing better than the sound of the wood pigeons calling and the knowledge that your’e up before the rest of the world on a sunny day. Even in the depths of winter, a bright crisp morning can still bathe your face in unexpected warmth if you wrap your self up and head into the garden or your balcony or your park with your coffee . ( make it real coffee, favourite mug, don’t wake anyone else up.. )

 Mum’s garden in Sussex.

Sometimes it’s possible to wait years to allow yourself permission to be happy. It isn’t a cliche, or something smug people are telling you to annoy you. To give yourself the freedom to feel, and create and be, gets you back to that kid you have pictures of in a drawer somewhere. The kid that went out in the garden and knew the power of right now, being spontaneous and looking for magic in everything..

rose perfume

Its not gone. The grass is still there. Some days the sun will even come out! Some days if you can only draw with your left hand with a big chunky kids crayon, do that. It might become a layer in your best work ever. Just let the process be the fun.

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I am as guilty as the next person … of not creating until my ‘proper’ work is done. Of completing my to do list before I get my sketchbook out or only stepping into the zone when the ironing is neatly folded or the bathroom clean.

Thing is.. you never have a clear list. Blink and twenty years go by. You’re the parent or grandparent in the garden instead of the kid.. Because you always thought that it was an all or nothing thing this making lark.. either you were a famous artist or why bother.. you maybe just put it to one side until the perfect day came.

No day is perfect. Like us. Like our creations. Lift the pressure off and it feels like Christmas. I’ve discovered sneaking in odd little moments of it to shake myself up. scribbling in tiny sketchbooks as freely as I might have done before Art school squashed the life out of your randomness! ( Although I have to thank them for temporarily getting me to concentrate on learning to felt and getting a degree I guess!)

rose jam jarRemember Doing this?

Squeezing that little bit of pure unadulterated joy in, regardless of who gives a monkey’s is essential for your enlightenment as a human and also for you to connect with the person you were always designed to be.

Today. I am meant to be resting my hands after an injection for arthritis in my thumb joints, that are fusing together. I got too excited about writing to you and showing some pictures .  I promise to get the Voltarol out, but before I go I just wanted to share the kiss I got last night… Ha ha, don’t get too excited. We are on holiday, my daughter cavorting at the kids disco..It was from a tiny boy, on the cheek, because he was sitting playing a game on his own on his ipad, stitching up people. Great fun. We had a great chat, and as we left, my own child fit to drop, he bashfully asked his mum if he could give me a hug. Ahh.

Go play.. it reaps dividends !! xxxx

april 2016 092Felt artwork  ‘At Your side’

Sold

Dream…. brace….live..

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Liz at The beach Hut  came about because I was at a turning point , as so many of the wonderful people I meet and teach are. I often feel that there is a real.. there by the grace of God feeling to the stories I hear and the journeys we all take. Choices are made every day, every second. Whether to get up, go out, make the phone call, cross the road to speak to the person who slightly scares us, stand up for ourselves, go for the smallest challenge, let alone the biggest dreams, and there is nobody who can say that they honestly haven’t had those moments. I have, I do, quite regularly if I’m truly honest with you..

Because being in pain, being different, being and feeling a bit rubbish, comparing ourselves to other people and being at the mercy of others to have help or assistance can feel rubbish, and embarrassing and humiliating  . And it is easier, to take the path of least resistance, to curl away , to hide, to limit the obstacles and to protect ourselves with what we know, and limit the mark we make on the universe. Being less valuable is a perception you feed.

Cant walk? Try a segway!!

Heres’s the thing . The bigger the mark you  make on the world the more potential for other people to share your skills and your experience. Your fellow travellers absorbing the parts of you, your heart has forgotten to reach.. The more scars you have the more you can bring to the table.

This is only my story. I love hearing other people’s stories. Never dismiss anyone on your path. They are your own personal quest characters, maybe there to teach you something, share a valuable lesson or for you to help them.  Look at them closer.. spot the wizards and gremlins and pixies?

I’m sitting on a plane right now, next to an 81 year old lady. She was stuck with me and mini me in the wheelchair access section of the airport, waiting for the plane. We got talking about bravery, and choices we make. Recently she had a major heart attack. Jean was frightened to travel anymore, scared it would happen again. Next time it might not be on the way to the bingo. But she’s doing it anyway, getting whatever help she needs en route , choosing poolside over Jeremy Kyle.  Go Jean !!!

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Being unable to do something can offer a way of trying it differently, accepting that people might be there to make that process a bit easier, if we can accept their kindness without judgement. It gets easier . If you are reading this and temporarily or newly incapacitated.. You aren’t alone or suddenly worthless. it’s no fun losing some of your independence. But you are still you. And having support at an airport so you can snorkel in Majorca, is probably a good enough trade off.

It’s a journey through gratitude to peace , via acceptance, guilt, fear, anger and sadness  . All of which will come and go and all highly understandable.  You might look at my journey and pity me for not working as a teacher any longer, in a career I trained hard to do. Please don’t ! All the experiences and amazing children I met along the way are nestled in my memory brain boxes and I now have room for more of what my real life is for.. Creating, and building a space for you…

Giving help

There were moments yesterday abandoned off a coach with no way of carrying suitcases to a multi story hotel , no help as promised on booking and having had no sleep, that my internal feathers were more than slightly ruffled.. but remember, these are moments, and rare and they pass. We pinched a wheelchair from the janitor and have become portable pool divas.. This morning my eight year old had a melt down because she was fed up with the wheelchair. Fair enough. But then she realised that it could actually not only get us to the aquapark, but carry a lilo, me, several beach bags and her trusted Maisie.. it was a different story. xxxx

adventures

Some Old Art

Here’s some archive pictures to be getting on with from the last few years !! Most of these ended up as gifts and in friend’s homes with a few exhibited in community exhibitions here and there. . like many of us, our children and surviving become priority!

Feed each little piece of you. One day it will turn around and hoist you on its shoulders x

Not everyone will approve

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Happy is the man who can brush aside the offending remarks of another and go on his way.


Gordon B Hinckley

Being free of our emotional straight jackets is the hardest thing in the world. Most people can’t shake off their little pecking voices and fall back into patterns which stop them being who they can really be. They are sometimes aware and sometimes they aren’t, self sabotage, self doubt, circles of trauma relived or pain held back. It is the worst thing about the human condition. What we do to each other and what we do to ourselves.

I can only know what I know, and you will have your wisdom for someone else which they might need when you least expect it.

You can read books and books on that stuff , some of it is wonderful, you can listen to hours of audio tapes, and some of them too are worthwhile. You can meet gurus and change your style of clothes, call yourself something else and sit on a mountain.

But as well as that. The one thing to manage, learn, understand, live, get and do all the time is ;IMG_4305

Listen.

  • To your own voice. What you really really think /feel/need.
  • To what people who love you are saying on repeat.
  • To the signs and to the slow hum of the moment.

Because that’s all that matters.

Then breathe, and choose your next step.

Not everyone is gonna like it. But that’s half the fun !! xxxxx

 

Give it a go

Explore your creative beginningbrushes

 

Working as an art teacher with children for 18 years, was a privilege . As far as the provision of creativity for kids was concerned! They taught me as much as I taught them. Children of all ages and abilities and backgrounds , emotional needs and behavioral issues gave me a solid understanding of all areas of my subject, but also how scary it is for most people.  We all have this fear of drawing, even those who can draw quite well. But actually, the drawing part is a, not nearly as tricky as it seems if you have someone help you unlearn your conditioned fears, and b, for the most part, drawing doesn’t have to feature that highly in most creative endeavors. We can cheat in a million ways to get our project conceived.

When I wasn’t able to work standing up, or teach every day because of these old bones of mine, I had to find ways of still creating with some of the amazing people I had met , still having a voice, feeling valuable and not just watching my beautiful resources rot. If I labelled the illness as me, it would have won, the disbelievers who think you can’t still reach out and be of use to other people if you are disabled or tired or have days where your pain takes over… they’d be right. And the joy people get  just getting their creative freedom would be gone. I’ll keep doing what we do if its only with my big toe.

first week back 009For you and your making…There are no rules, no success criteria to live up to, no comparisons to make unless you choose them. I’ve seen the best ‘ proper artists’ tie themselves in knots, unable to create, unable to express their true work ; and I’ve seen my  gorgeous vintage customers , and the young fly free with abandon, to produce wonderful, expressive canvases you’d be proud to see on your wall.

You start with letting yourself be. Let yourself make mistakes and fail as many time as you need to. Take the competition with yourself and the world away . Trust that nothing is going to happen that won’t be another step in your growth, another tool to learn more about yourself, learn to  play be present. Enjoy the journey and how it feels on the way.

Here are some bits and pieces we like. Some might appeal and be a starting point for new ideas. Enjoy! x

Create a really comfortable space to work in. That’s so important. Think a doggie going round in circles in their bed until they get comfy. That’s you in your studio that is !

You definitely need the following:

Never try and do anything all at once, especially if you have issues with pain. Do a tiny bit, chip away. Chip away at several things at once and trust that they will evolve. Trying to climb mountains is just not possible every day. BUT sometimes a pile of chips turns into a mountain on its own. It’s what you do when you’re not focusing so hard that often turns out the best. Enjoy the ride…

If your hands hurt, use sponges, kids drawing tools, collage tools and your fingers to paint with. This can actually sometimes work BETTER than brushes because you take the control out of the equation. And you tap into the other side of your brain too .

pencil gripsThese are fab little grips you get for pencils that make it easier to manouevre your drawing .

Make it warm. Sounds obvious. You can’t work if you are cold or uncomfortable. Loosen up your arm-wear- tight sleeves mean you can’t bend your limbs to move them freely and you need to loosen your flow.. Being warm can be a little heater in your hut, big socks and a cat on your lap. (This taps into the next must do.. )

Surround yourself with familiar and gorgeous things which inspire you. And also things that have always interested you but have seemed too out of reach, too good for you, too scary, too hard, too cultured, whatever fear it has tapped into in your past..60229a09fa11a114e148fb8256c38a89--vintage-sewing-notions-vintage-sewing-room

That doesn’t matter. Get them out of magazines, print pictures, look at books, take photos, look at pinterest, collect found objects you like the look and feel of, rummage about for objects which you feel you want to celebrate, people, places or themes which resonate. Start with one object if you are struggling.. Like a pebble..write down words that are bubbling inside your head.. doodle ideas that are starting to grow..

inspiration

Sometimes its even better if nobody else gets why you like them. Fab. Use that to create your own space, wall, corner, identity. Let them see this new exciting version of yourself, the one youv’e been hiding in your head and notebooks.

Get tea and cake….Here’s an idea……………

 

enjoy it.

Make a mess, move some materials around and see what happens……………….xxxxx