Stop apologising

Every day I feel the need to apologise for something or other.. Usually for reasons I have conjured up from my perception of other people’s feelings..

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No idea why!! But We ALL do it..

It’s human, and so so tedious!! We spend our lives being good parents, friends, work colleagues and children, and most of us strive to do good in the world. Yet, somehow, all the wonderful, creative, kind, selfless things have bypassed our self -back -patting buttons and our focus crashes into… the slightly odd conversation with the distracted friend we met..(Must be our fault), the letter we haven’t written yet, the cupcakes the school expect, the dust not swished, the family feud not resolved..

Negative voices get in the way of a peaceful existence. That’s a little bit of a waste of precious head space.

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In my work as community artist and in mental health, I have seen firsthand how quickly negative self talk can destroy our abilities to function, let alone create. We can literally paralyse ourselves.

The creative process works best when our brains are free to explore and intuit, rather than stiffly attempting to produce under the harsh scrutiny of our own, or another’s glare.

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For most of us, this inner critic began in the classroom when we decided at five or six that we couldn’t draw, and this belief became conditioned in us from an early age. We were then categorized in school and out into bands or grades, creating was about ‘having-to’ draw like a photograph or else you were rubbish at art.

It is wonderful to be able to draw, and to acquire the patience, dexterity and focus to copy a photograph. But not everybody can do that.

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It is clever to be clever and intellectual and have such great ideas that corporations pay huge amounts for concepts and installations.. But rarely do artists make livings producing and sustaining these works, and not everybody understands (or chooses to) understand them… There is a lot of Art out there….

There is a feeling surrounding ‘making’ that it is an exclusive domain of the already talented. However, Being at peace, Creating Art and learning craft skills are not mutually exclusive. They are all very much interlinked and they are your tools to learning how to communicate a, to yourself and b, to those around you.

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Play first!!  What our groups focus on is what young children do. To understand materials and explore the potential without judgement or (and most importantly) without expectation of an end result. Letting the therapeutic experience of being amongst friendly people of different backgrounds, building confidence and leaving judgement and worries at the door.. Lets the creative genie in. And then anything might happen. There is teaching. There are exemplars and inspirations to follow if you want to. But it’s a choice and a starting point.

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The blank sheet of paper metaphor for life is the stumbling point for so many creative and inspiring adventures we could take. Guilt for more worthy things instead, fear for not being good enough flank either side of our poor little brains.. Then we think…”What’s the point.”

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Easier to dust…..

Except, you don’t make friends by dusting, or chat through the feelings you’re going through or learn something you might actually love doing and benefit from .

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The first creative endeavors you twiddle with when you start exploring are never going to set the world on fire.. Who cares! Starting somewhere is the important part of the journey. I still have feelings of guilt every time I step into my studio. But here what I’ve learnt. Those feelings are normal, and ok because it means I care about the people in my life and I have a conscience. However…

What about… If you Feel the guilt and do it anyway….

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I now know; that everyone in my life who matters and who has stayed with us on our journey/met us on the way understands that we (mini me and I) are as we are. Juggling disability/single-mumdom and life in the wilds/childhood traumas/village life and days where limbs don’t work.  ……They know that our hearts are firmly on our sleeves, and we value our extended family of friends to the moon and back, so lapsed contact is usually for a good reason.  I am getting better at sitting still occasionally, and not giving all my time/money/stuff away.  Actually not leaving my artwork until I am too knackered to give it the attention it deserves;  because I am realising that a guilt free, better-rested me, is able to ultimately create more authentically, and connect more deeply.

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It is so worth challenging those guilty feelings and asking why and who makes you feel that way?

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TURN OFF YOUR COMPUTER… It is ok not to be glued to the demands of replying to other people by email or message. They chose to communicate at that moment.. You choose when/if you want to reply. Pick a time that suits to do that stuff and have a list, or you’ll get lost in technology land.

It is so so easy to get trapped inside your house. Even for the most confident person, self talk will flood in and take over. It is ok to be anxious after illness, but getting to a creative and easy going space will do wonders for your heart. SPEAK TO SOMEONE YOU FIND INTERESTING AND COMPLIMENT THEM. Immediately you are not defenceless, you are powerfully giving, and can save the world with your loveliness…Have no expectation other than to keep breathing…

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TRY SOMETHING YOU FEEL DRAWN TO, NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE ELSE SAYS; There is a nagging thing in your head that you know you want to do. Do you really want to be wishing you’d tried in twenty years? If it’s your parent’s voice telling you not to.. (That’s a whole other post) but it’s their guilt/ fear and anxt they’ve passed to you… Feel the guilt and do it anyway, then stop feeling bad because ….nothing bad will happen (there are exceptions to this obviously… but I am assuming I have a certain calibre of audience!!)

Nobody has it perfect before they start.. If you wait until it all comes together before you step outside/breathe life into that project or plant that space… the day will keep magically getting further away. When we put our house up for sale last year, it sold in a week, we had 12 weeks to move a lifetime of home/teaching possessions , buy a house, ( we didn’t know where,) find the money for a mortgage and I wasn’t working as I had retired from my teaching job. I was literally winging it….It took an enormous amount of belief..

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I felt a bit guilty. I had visions of having to saw my crutches in half to fit in the cardboard box I was certain me, my child, our dog and two cats would be living in!!

But I also had a massive amount of faith in it being ok. And it was in the end through sheer grit that we sunk everything into getting here and making it happen! Our friends are thankfully now able to visit an actual house and not a cardboard box, and one by one the have-to’s and musts are being zapped to make room for want-to’s and love-doings…  I’ll post updated pictures next time. If you can think it… anything is possible. Pop the guilt balloon. Come and play. images (4) Share what makes you tick,  and you might surprise everyone, not least yourself.

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Liz xxx

 

On Re-invention

How often do we get to really re-invent ourselves? Or re-discover styles and ideas we may have forgotten about? I have been thinking about that a lot recently, having just celebrated our one year anniversary of a new life here. Frantically painting, planting, creating this space… What.. And who do other people see ?!! There is no history of us here….nothing to gain ground on, for anyone to say, ‘Oh that’s ok, that’s just like them !!’
( I do think the neighbours are starting to now, as our garden paths get painted patchwork colours and more sculptures appear in the flower beds……)
It takes a lot of little things to makes us ‘us’. And a long time to realise that there is no formula, no magic ingredient and that no-one else can do the job quite like you.  But it is a tricky thing to be really and truly ok about…1950s hat fashion shot by Philippe Pottier (1)
Think about  airports.. I love a good airport departure lounge. Looking around at the thousands of snapshots of people’s lives, people between places, people on adventures, lovers in liaisons, people in meetings, families heading towards new lives, or the brave  away from old ones. It’s a wonderful opportunity to be absolutely anyone, dress as our alter ego, smarter self, more casual self, more romantic self and travel with the essence of our compacted personalities. Tiny bottles of perfume and miniature versions of normal dressing tables and wardrobes.. slivers of ‘us’… Mr Benn … through the door to a brand new adventure…. ( now I know your age!! ) ….
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Guessing where people are going, where they live and if they always dress like they are in this moment, that is much more fun than gazing at the departure board… But is it a true indication of who they are? Probably not.
Perhaps if you had to design your absolute true summing up outfit it would just be too difficult, because, our us-ness is far far too flighty for that.  !
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If we think too much about how we appear, we go bonkers. The best thing about getting older is the freedom to sink into our true form without the anxious voices of doubt questioning if it is fashionable or stylish enough to be credible. Our clothes are like layers of rock and sediment compressed into time capsules, until one day we can dig them up and reuse them once more..
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When I think of my friends now, every single one of them is a different size and shape and has a unique way of dressing which would be recognisable to me anywhere.. But this thing that we see in others, is the hard thing to pin down in, and is even harder to do for ourselves. We can spend our lives trying to catch it.. the perfume of our own essence.. what other people see, feel, sense about us that builds up over time and experience .
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It is like a little bird just flying off out of reach.
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So much of the world out there tries to force our uniqueness by making us copy each other. Technology plays a large part in this and loops us in so easily . (It has a place, if it weren’t for virtual friends we wouldn’t be chatting here..)  We can become an expert on everything from the internet, wax lyrical on every subject until we explode..
but..  Our wonderfully unique us-ness is not to be found on a phone.
Actually making, daubing, planting, stitching, twiddling once in a while.. is therapeutic, calming, mindful, and adding to the details of your existence in a unique way which lasts.. even in a power cut..
Creating your world in a unique way, no matter how small, is your gift. No matter what anyone thinks. You can’t please everybody. not everyone will get you, not everyone will know why your colours resonate, your shed is striped, some of your flowers are plastic..But some will and you keep them and add to your collection as you go…
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Without help, our garden and Art Space would not be coming along in the way it is. We intend to build access in for wheelchair users and an outside space for group-work. Being challenged on the mobility front, makes me so grateful and aware of the time and generosity given by other people towards this goal. To help set up a space for creative exploring for artists and makers by the sea, regardless of ability or disability. More of you will be involved as the years go by, and that is the best medicine and foundation for  art projects and creative connections.
Thank you so so much R and co. !!! For your uniqueness helping us create ours. xx
We are round pegs in square holes and we make no excuses!
On our anniversary, we celebrate keeping on being creative, unique, working through pain when you can, the generosity of those who join you on the way and never ever apologising for your differences. You are all wonderful you are all welcome no matter what you’re wearing!
Wanted : friends for life , lovers of fun, makers of sand castles, eaters of delicious food at midnight, persons of tolerance and humility, lovers of art and books, sharers of souls and hearts, keepers of treasures not grudges , makers of magic not troubles , appreciates of people, gardens, places and stories and believers in happy endings . All others although wished well , need not apply .
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Love the management xxx