The Blank Page

 

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Where to begin…. Again…….Image result for blank page

I’ll let you into a secret.. Blank canvas syndrome is an actual thing. Stalling at the moment of creative freedom is the hurdle of almost anyone who ever picks up a brush or a pencil. We imagine ourselves unable to do this massively hard thing which encompasses our genius in one monumental piece of art. Over and over again.

We stand enraged at ourselves for being rubbish before we we even start

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And then more often than not we don’t bother at all, because the fear of the creating bit is too big and too scary.

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There are too many choices

I have noticed this human tendency in many situations, presented with a wobbly, new or challenging step in our lives, we revert to our most vulnerable, smallest sense of self. Some people can overcome this through having had positive childhood  or life experiences,  conditioning from supportive friends and especially from family . But let’s face it, for most of us, there have been enormous gaps in our well-being feedback, in relation to most aspects of anything we put out there, on show to the world…

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If we can hide we often do

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We can lose confidence and momentum as easily as we gain it, because humans want to believe their flaws out weigh their fantastic qualities.

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Standing on the precipice of a chapter can be mind-blowing.Image result for standing on the edge

I know this to be true. You can fool yourself into believing there will be nothing there to fill the void.. you know nothing about his new thing yet, so how can you trust it? you will never reach the level of comfort you had before.. so best maybe to do what you always did.. and stay where you were ..oh so comfortable….

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and the magic and experiences waiting for you can never be.

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Life isn’t a straight line though,  like a bus chugging through the things we do, forgettable and then starting over again tomorrow. Your skills and wisdom back-back gets fuller as you go,  and you will only ever ripen in yer old age.. It doesn’t matter what your fears are.  Moving out of a loveless home, leaving a job, starting a new group or an activity you dreamed of doing when you were a kid.. If you need to do it from the bottom of your boots.. then the layers you have grown over your heart will turn slowly into your new jet pack.. and give you wings..Image result for flying person

Each day,  and situation isn’t a blank canvas .

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We are an accumulation of all that we have ever done so far.

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A million moments we either choose to remember, celebrate or let pass by..

Each one slowly feeds us and our mind absorbs the important bits , inspiring future ideas;  the big, important, or small, perfectly formed thoughts..the trick is to find your connection with what makes your hear sing;

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When we look for inspiration, or start a new artwork or project, we can be overwhelmed with self doubt .And we do the same with our own self image. We look at what we see in the mirror as less than perfect, swamping the whole picture , to reinvent ourselves once more and catch something new, which perfectly represents our ultimate ‘self.’

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Only , that particular fairy has wings. You’ll not catch her. She is a million fractured images at once, absorbed from past memories, experiences, joys and pain and can only ever be fleeting..  All you can do is be grateful for a good photograph occasionally, and smile as much as possible.. because it is the least aging facial contortion!

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As some-one who has been recently forced to look at  pictures of themselves less able  than they were, and not even know how lucky I was at the time, please take it from me that focusing on the perfections of what you look like NOW is so so so not important. It is about getting to know who you are this minute and to like them, trust your own brand of creativity without judgement, both in the mirror and on your canvas.

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Sometimes the more perfect we are the less we know ourselves..The more layers we apply to our guarded hesitant approach , the further away from freedom we have.

Enjoy your face but it’s what you do with it next that counts…

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Last week my daughter and I went to see Mama Mia at the Maltings in Berwick. We sat in the disabled bay with a man in a wheelchair. On paper tell me how fun that sounds?Image result for line of jelly babies

Well stop. Let me tell you, that between us, the lovely stewards (a very sweet couple) and a bag of jelly babies .. we probably had more fun than anyone in the cinema. Nobody cared we were singing and laughing out loud and we watched the film directly from the heart instead of from the perception of how it would look to others if we made a fool of ourselves. It was magical, memorable and we made three new friends.

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It is possible to enjoy yourself..

A surface of many types is just the beginning. Step one. The beginning of a chapter or an adventure. It is meant by its nature to be weathered and roughed up a bit, textured and aged until it’s true nature appears. If we know this we can see past the fear of the blank, because the joy of the process of seeking it out is part of the fun.

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 Let the magic happen.

And if it is your canvas giving you blank stares.. do one of the following;

How to Texture Your Painting surface

1 Cover the surface with pa and water, then tissue paper and then more p.v.a, flattening gently as you go with more gluey gloop and a big brush .

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2 Scrape a layer of texture onto your canvas,  using acrylic paints in either a rough approximation of your finished colour scheme or an opposite one ( complimentary colours can peep through your final work and look very effective.Image result for acrylic underlayer  on canvas

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3 Scrape on paint or an acrylic medium, or paint with a texture by adding sand .. then scratch into it with a card edge, tooth pick or press into your surface with bubble wrap or lace.

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4 Fill your surface with pattern and image from magazine cuttings,  in the same way as Idea 1, make sure they are nice and flat to work on. To make this slightly easier when you paint on top you can always glaze over with a very watery white acrylic wash 50% water/50% acrylic.

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5 After priming with a basic colour, draw on your canvas without looking directly at it. Do it with a really loose paint mix with a long brush or a stick with an oil pastel attached to the end. keep you marks really fluid and loose , enjoying the flow and rhythm of your idea without the constraints  of your four canvas sides.
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6 And when you start painting or applying your actual layers, don’t tighten up too much initially.. Try adding your detail with more tissue, or add torn -up older cast off artwork as an under-layer..

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The recipe for good things  takes time. Often we look at a person and their creations and think they appeared fully formed and gorgeous out of nowhere.. as if by magic. My guess is that they too have stood in new shoes..

Get your foundation right and the rest will follow.. Image result for good foundation

You wouldn’t plonk on beautiful make up without prepping your skin first .. to make it last, attach itself and shine out.  And the best faces, rooms, stories, canvases and relationships are built upon over time and with experience and wisdom . Trust what you know no matter what or who anyone else imagines you are.

 Artwork works when there is a  depth, texture and a hint of what has brought you to its creation.  Just please don’t confuse your surfaces.

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Its quite hard to eat your tea if your face is covered in magazine cuttings.

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Fill in the the blanks with your fabulous selves..

Love Liz xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading between the lines

What do you remember about yesterday?

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It’s hard to describe in words what and why our favourite memories are so important.

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Every story begins with a single moment in time..

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Every night my daughter and I write her diary… If it was up to her we would write the repeated sentence, “We did maths”……..

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But what if she peeked a bit further into her memory lunch box?

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So instead, as she comes in the door, I make a mental note of the trials and tribulations of her day… the playground dramas, the hay bale climbing, the secret societies being made and broken over a packet of crisps, and the shyly given piece of information of a boy smiling who smiled at her…. Next year these things will make her laugh and capture the essence of this day… far better than if it was listed or written by a well meaning but unobservant adult.

Last week it was my birthday, we ate amazing food and stayed in our favourite hotel. I had wrapped up gifts I had bought over the months leading up to the day itself… and the ironing was done well in advance… But what I remember most about the day was the silly moments, the spontaneous stuff and the effort made by other people to show their kindness- the candle lit cupcakes brought out by the kitchen at breakfast and the spontaneous happy birthday song from the rest of the guests, and the handmade frame lovingly glued together over several nights by the monkey in our neighbour’s shed .

To begin the week we had gone to a quiz night at the local community centre. I had naively thought this was an easy-ozey fun affair, where locals caught up on the week. Ha,… On stepping into the room at the exact moment of the arranged start time, pens were poised and papers grasped in the ‘ team-captain’s hand and tumble weeds slowly ambled past, as us two -and- a -half -humans appeared in the doorway looking for spare table room…oops.

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We were seated with three serious looking folk who for a long time wouldn’t let us answer many questions in case we were in fact as daft as we looked. Hilarious.

But as the evening, and rounds wore on, and the drinks in paper cups were downed, the table softened and we began to see between the lines on the paper… to the people who were there…stories unfurled and lives were glimpsed. We dug a bit deeper and realised it mattered so much more that you could catch the wave of this strange combination of people, mid mad discussion, sharing old and possibly half invented tales… than it did to know the answers to the questions… Thankfully!!

Look closer

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Memories- elusive little creatures.. what makes them park up and stay?

I’ve stayed in many countries on holiday in my previous life, enjoying the generic pleasures of hotels by the sea, but truth be told… I get them muddled up in my memory banks, because many places are awfully similar, catering for what us humans believe we need on our wish list, to make the perfect setting for a perfect break. Although grateful to have travelled, and having had the means to, if I had the chance to tell my more agile self anything, it would be this; get off the beach and do yoga up a mountain. There are only so many plates of all inclusive combo you can eat after a night watching parrots in national dress…

And all these things makes me realise that the key to memories that matter isn’t where you are, it’s how you are when you’re get there… What you let in. The truth is all in the details. Illness or disability might try and take something away; but, if you let it, it can be the beginning of delving deeper into life’s potential.  And I have decided if.. sorry.. when they give my wonky bones an oil change… when my hair is blue and I am in motorbike leathers, then I will not be on a cruise, I’ll be doing yoga up a mountain.

Sometimes the magic of adventure can literally take your breath away. Twenty years ago I stepped off an Italian bus one early misty morning and turned down an alleyway into a cobbled and arched Venetian street. It was a faded sparkly quitely lapping wonder. I Stepped through a cobweb of treasured stories read in adolescent novels, and inspirations hungrily devoured at college. It was real. I was finally there, breathing it in. It was all my senses at once. A perfect moment.  And like a camera click it is still there caught in my memory bubbles where I shall feast on it always. It made me cry. As did the moment my daughter was placed in my arms after ten long years of not succeeding in that particular quest.Image may contain: one or more people and baby

Roll on plenty more road trip adventures of all shapes and sizes please. x

( But one drama queen is quite enough…….!!!!

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Memories are bubbles of fabulous experiences that matter. They don’t need to be cost dependent but they should definitely be valued and treasured. For those of you not exhibiting in the Tate gallery.. Making Art or a craft are valuable ways of capturing something you want to remember through your own unique vision. The simple act of looking in more detail without judgement or filter encourages a better connection, whether you are drawing your favourite surroundings, your aged pet or your dreams..

Image may contain: drawingSt. Abbs Harbour Sketch from a moment on the way home from Brownies!

…..Make something… Anything…Or help someone else to..

True love and friendship.., your forever home, the perfect moment, a deep connection… none of these can exist without the ability to appreciate or stop long enough to look a little closer…

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We had entered the quiz hall feeling that we were outsiders in the big scheme of general knowledge and random clever-clog-ness and realised that the emotional intelligence it takes to connect with your immediate tribe is far greater and richer. Shaking that need to win, find reason, meaning which determines our greatness sometimes gets in the way of good old-fashioned joy. ( And despite the hysteria, we did still manage to get second place!

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So do what kids do…

I get told off by everyone I know for having too much stuff in my car, but being unable to dash off and quickly gather a deck chair/dog blanket/set of paint brushes or emergency outfit for a mucky kid has its disadvantages…

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I pack them just in case. And for the many, times now that we have surprised, comforted, calmed and quietened the folk we have met up with, I know we do the right thing..

And I do so with no shame anymore….

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Because, my picnics are legendary, I can always provide an activity for a hyper child and if you got stuck in traffic,  you could at least eat your limp sandwiches on an M and S retro plate. And these things make certain happenings…. into magic moments. Trust me.

Image result for smoked salmon bagel You do what YOU can. Someone else can run to the shops for the prosecco. I will be on the beach with the cosy blanket and salmon bagels…hoping I get into my small person’s diary once in a while…Ooh pick me!!!!

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Love and fabulous precious moments dear ones,

Liz xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fire in your belly..

Lat week my delightful handy man was telling me a story. For Christmas last year he had been given a tin of seeds. They were chilli seeds and he had never gardened before. But he grew them anyway, and regaled to me the tale of the compost, the splitting of seedlings and the abundance of lavishing love and care upon his precious crop.

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A few months in, and his three-year-old was leapt upon grabbing a huge juicy chilli from the fridge to the sound of her parents concerned cry of ‘Nooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!’.

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Only this chill was the size of a red pepper. And so were all the rest of a mammoth bounty. He was confused. So, he did some earnest googling…

Apparently, to really grow peppers properly, one doesn’t feed them quite so much, one doesn’t wrap them in little chilli shaped blankets, or put them in the airing cupboard.

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Oh no. You starve them. The chemical reaction needs to be created inside them so they can BE a chilli only when they have less attention and do their thing themselves…

And then they become who they’re meant to be and ultimately taste like you want them to…..

And I was thinking…

One of my more cheeky neighbours recently, made a comment regarding how huge my bank account must be,  to have a garden full of flowers, and to create what we do.Image result for vintage woman fainting

Oh…… if only they knew…….

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Often, our most incredible journeys begin when we are penniless. Or have no family or friends to support us. Or when our health has failed which we had relied on and always thought would hold us up. The reserves you have, are unbelievable. To draw on what you can be and do without being spoon fed and nurtured regularly by well-meaning loved ones is sometimes a very worthwhile pursuit…..

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Personally, we dealt with ridiculous levels of change, all at once..Leaving teaching, leaving my best friends behind, leaving our choir, doctors, dentists we knew, my daughter’s friends, and school, our home, and our routine. But I KNEW it had to be done, and my previous blogs have told you our story. But the point is, we moved to a little village where we began again, on crutches, on our own, to a house that needed completely doing up and two, no .. including the furry ones  …five, mouths to feed.

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…….In my mind I could sort of see how it might be, but I didn’t want to assume too much. Just pure blind faith and an innate craving to move forward.

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Having trust in what you can’t see…Teaching is a bit like this. Imagine the most perfect classroom ever created, all the bells and whistles and every available technological device.. ready to search for the answer to any question in a second.. But how will this create a learner? A resilient learner who can make mistakes and learn from them, look and look again, look and look further.. and not just believe the first answer they find. When teaching was becoming more difficult because my crutches got in the way, I also saw less and less of a generation willing to open themselves to the vulnerability of not knowing. and having to reach a goal themselves. I truly hope that one day schools begin to understand that the key to teaching is to start from scratch and allow children to find things out on their own.. not from Wikipedia.

      The perfect classrooms ? Yes.. But Lets have a few more books please !!!

Sometimes your unique character and true gifts will only shine when the rug is completely out from under your feet.

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Let’s be better at waiting to get good at stuff. You-tube can’t hold the brush for you. It can’t show you how to create your unique language unless you actually do it as well.

The longer a hot pepper ages, the spicier they become, increasing capsaicin and creating a far spicier experience…Apparently.

Hold out on the over feeding…..

( except for your loved ones.. give them cake )

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Then you can set the world on fire..xxxxxx

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The Holy Grail

 Do you ever wonder what the meaning of life is?

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A few things I’ve noticed along the way seem to end up in the same spot.

Here…

Right back where you started

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This came about recently when my daughter was watching a series of life hacks for kids. It is a great idea, and the kid doing it was very confident and sassy.. showing lots of ideas on how to do things better. But it is the tame end of a generation in a crazy rush to create more, have more, be more, talk more …..

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And sometimes listen less.

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 Listening…

The battle ground parents and teachers spend a long time preaching about. But sometimes just watching and absorbing through copycat behaviour can be a bit less likely to have you reaching for gin.

We all had posters in our classrooms saying what kids had to do… But having a vision of how other people should behave is useless if they can’t see it. If nobody is listening to you, maybe they haven’t been led your  example .. yet…

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Watch the Animals

We can learn a lot from our pets… our dog Skye does what I realised I also do in life. She gets into her bed, twists round in circles, pulling at the corners, getting it right, flipping it up again and huffing a lot until it is the right shape to plonk her bones on.

Dogs are forgiven. They don’t really need much more than comfy spot, attention and love… you can see where I’m going here.. In life, we all do it. We strive and strive for a perfect, better version of the thing we want or people we think we need, or new styled version of ourselves which will prove to the world we have arrived.. again..

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We all love a good tweak.. , twerking may have to wait for new knees.  it’s the tweaking and the journey to getting that ‘us-ness’ right, that makes the final result so much more enjoyable..Think big life changers here…

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( Ok.. not that perfect..)

But some amazing things do take time.

Sometimes a Long time.

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Before I got my best bed ever comfy bed, I had given my daughter my bedroom in my last house, and gave a friend my bed frame because he and his girlfriend didn’t have a bed. The bigger picture of knowing the right one would come along at some point in this crazy story of ours. was paved with numerous nights of being crawled over by several animals and a small person who all thought it was quite hilarious.. But was worth it.

( And often very funny)

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No, not my bed either.. but isn’t this gorgeous! .

Keep loving the process of finding your comfy bed.Image result for comfy bed

And if your bed has a jaggy mattress or person in it.. walk away.. It can never be comfy.

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Go Big but love the little things.

Being ambitious and very easy on yourself at the same time in whatever the endeavour seems the only sane way to fly. Kind of knowing you deserve to look up but knowing the best things are happening right there under your feet , nose and usually in my case leaning on my lap on the sofa.

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Painting is a similar process to finding that elusive snoozing place. . Absolutely, striving for that perfect piece which sums up your creative  completeness is a worthy and wonderful endeavour. It is the botanical gardens of our green fingered efforts and should be pursued ..

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BUT,  if you want to deviate,  splattering ink and charcoals, drawing in the sand with a stick, and making a sandcastle in an expressive burst of creative passion do that instead..

This was done with  a piece of string, in a couple of minutes and probably just stuck in a drawer.. knowing the lack of ego my friend has, .. but it was just lovely.. Just twiddle some string and see what happens…

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When a friend is there. Be there too. Completely.

Hang on to your good friends, even if you deviate on life’s paths. Nobody will get you like they do or laugh at your strange habits… But they all know a different bit of you, like a perfect jigsaw of your complete self.

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And sometimes… the best and most perfect moment of connection can happen with a person we would never have thought of as a friend, or so briefly we blink and they are gone. A moment on the beach, on holiday, or a comment in the street . Cherish each and every connection as a true friendship. You never know who will be in your life and for what reason, or for how long. Take notice of the possibility in an exchange, and look them in the eye.

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Love your neighbours.

Having just had flu, I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am to mine. This week we were very fortunate to have been given Fresh mackerel from a neighbour and apples ( in a bid to make an apple cake for one of them I think..) In this village over the last year I have given, amongst other things, .. a bottle of bourbon, bread, a double ham and cheese toastie to a stranded winter holiday maker, and numerous cupcakes and seeds, lifts in the car, shoes, and many hours of village help in classes and at community events..No automatic alt text available.

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There is always something you can offer somebody else. No matter how rubbish you believe you are, in your current bodily state/mental state.. you are valuable to someone else. And they in turn will be pleased to know they can help you. But often when you least expect.542904819-612x612

Keep Learning

I am endeavouring to open my own daughter’s eyes right now to different ideas about religion, belief and opinion. So she might balance her thoughts with a good idea of different possibilities. It seems to me that at the bottom of most things is the essential message of being good.  That’s fine. But I will be telling her It doesn’t mean you have to be boring or feel bad.  You have to be present and kind. And for me it shouldn’t be about following a pattern. There are a million ways of being respectful but not brainwashed, and living with abundance without walking around feeling guilty about what doesn’t interest you.

And Don’t take people’s opinions of you too seriously…

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So…

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Key for me is this;

Listen Better

  To have a good friend, you need to be one . You switch this computer/phone/ipad off and you hear what is being said. How often do you find yourself mentally doing your shopping list in the middle of a conversation?

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Don’t moan about the weather

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Unless you land on a dessert island, there isn’t much you can do about it. And in truth, the cycle of the seasons keeps things moving in the garden, an excuse to raid the garden centre, and gives you the chance to wear different outfits. What’s not to like. If we constantly feel we want something different, we might never be here. Get soaked, get too hot, freeze, wrap up like a burrito, wait an hour and the weather will change anyway..

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Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today..

Enjoy what you have right now, with all you have, because it will change and there will be loss and seasons.  And nobody knows what will happen next. I’m saying this in relation to the weather, the person in front of you, the time spent with your children, the animal on your lap. It is precious

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Be Here Now.

Listen to the tap on the shoulder telling you to do that thing

I hope it is the beginning of something wonderful. 

Love Liz xxxx

 

 

 

What are we doing?

There are lots of types of Art. But even more types of Artists. As most people won’t be written about in a hundred years for their brush dexterity, what is the point of getting in a tangle. You don’t have to be good at anything in particular or do everything at once, but what is a great shame, is the fear of ever trying….

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Whenever I tell someone I teach Art, most people tell me a story.. usually this begins, ‘I was rubbish at Art at school, my art teacher hated me…….

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Or a well meaning parent told you , that it wasn’t your strongest subject and not as important as Science/Maths/English …(substitute your own literal equivalent obviously… so you should probably just give it up… And most people do….

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They say that that your blue-print of an artistic confidence is pencilled-in around six.

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And that because we learn/don’t unlearn the basics then, or free ourselves from the tyranny of the criticism we felt then , we continue to stay there.. creatively…..hearing our judges for evermore…..

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That’s where getting brave comes in..

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Finding a way to watch something develop and exist, without fear of what the outcome will be, or how it compares to anyone else’s is a gift. If you can find a like minded group in a space which builds confidence and enable makers with different needs to develop…stay there!

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My Art over the last couple of years has included a little bit of everything!!! I have thoroughly enjoyed this process, after years of the curricular patterns in the teaching of secondary education, and our stash of accumulated resources is ever growing and developing ( in the back shed.. for now, but hopefully not for ever)

 

Our story began with the small people.. the ones who really know how to create… the ones who know how to use their sparkly super powers to full advantage..

 

To see our updates for community artwork, go to Image result for facebook logo lizatcreate… (These classes depend on funding as mobility issues require helpers and proper art spaces)

And for the grown ups- For five years, we have endeavoured to keep the ball rolling with self funding classes for a range of needs and groups, if and when we are able.

 

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The aim of continuing to bring Art to as many people as we can, is to show that you can still be thoroughly marvellous despite your wonky bits and on tired days and sore days. Especially if your teacher is feeling the same way. And we will continue to try and fund- raise to maintain this for as many people as possible. Please let us know if you can help in any way.

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And what about me? 

My friend whose husband is an artist, said he asked her the other day, if I ever did any Art.. He’s got a point.. I do spend an awful lot of time doing things for and with other people.. a balance I will slowly swing back a little, now we are more settled here.. But here.. For Colm..

 

I have a few bits up my sleeve which are more detailed.. if I can get my hands to work long enough.

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And like the work we did with Dalkeith Arts.. the more our community can do to support the Arts and crafts for those who need it it to stay well.. the better..

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Image result for facebook logo   Sea me- Vintage seaside ideas.

 

This is my latest little project.. for us nostalgic types..

Sea me will be our new community group name. And under the umbrella of Liz at The beach Hut, will be a lively and productive Community Arts Organisation, collaborating with volunteers to promote the arts within the St Abbs and District community. Our aim will be to provide support and inspiration to as wide a demographic and range of abilities as possible. At the moment, our face-book page is all things gloriously beachy and seasidey. Please do add appropriately x

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This week reminded me all too poignantly of why our drive to exist and make in the most beautiful way we can should be so. I would like to dedicate this post to my  friend and an inspiring and talented potter Anna Merecedes Wear. Anna sadly lost her brave battle with cancer very recently and has left a lot of love and respect from the art community behind in her fabulous quirky, ceramic foxes and figures. It was Anna who not only shared apple and cinnamon cake on a Friday over a cup of tea with me, in those first few weeks at Art college, but took me under her wing and showed me the polite way of sticking your fingers up to having to do things by the book. She continued to create in her unique and wonderful style, making so many people smile and doing what most of us only dream of.. sticking to her guns. I feel proud to have known her and been helped by her stoicism and wisdom. Our thoughts are always with her lovely family.

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Seize the day and let someone help. Or get your books and crayons out. Who cares what happens. Poke your old school teacher memories in the eye and raise a glass. Find your tribe. You never know what you can do until you try.

Love, Your friend,

Liz xx

 

 

 

Chez Nous

 

Once upon a time there was a little girl who dreamed of living in a white cottage by the sea….

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(Not in the sea)

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It just had to be magical .

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An old boat fashioned into a hut? . A perfect childhood den..

 

So, fast forward forty (odd) .. actually very odd years…but that’s another story…Wigwams in the garden/ hide outs in-between sheds/ childhood bedrooms designed and redesigned for a (usually- bored parent)  /numerous crazy junk-filled student flats/ an escaped marital castle. a temporary refuge and our hug house which help put us back together again…..but still, this little dream of a little blue and white house remained..

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My small person and I kept feeding the plan, despite massive hurdles. It had to have no stairs, and be a place of sanctuary . Where flowers grew, and the kettle was on.

 

We imagined…..

A seasidey, comfortable little house where people would feel at home, hydraengas in the garden and shells around the edges, inspired by trips to France and Greece and a love of deep Blue from iconic paintings and seaside holidays, ( So much so that my daughter has blue as her middle name.)

Image result for ultramarine blueI knew all our years of looking would be worth it. The ingredients were coming together  and we had faith in finding our home.  We knew it was here.

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As you already know, we spent a long time over the last year doing the groundwork, the garden, the inside etc. Finally, this week, we managed to get the walls done and it was like coming home..

…Can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs, and the mess was worth it. !

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We were lucky to have the best village painter and the weather held out so we got the job done in two days. Finally the whole picture came together .

Day one.

 

Day two.

So.. here is our home…Image result for heart

 

And the stripey detail drainpipes..

And the funky tattoo doorstep with the fishermen donated by the other beach hut lady.

And the beach blue windows..

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And the additional path colours.. Which will be a lifelong project I think. A bit like the forth road bridge…

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And the fab shipwreck wood half gate which will keep our neighbour’s little dog from escaping when we pup sit… ( It is a work in progress as it needed to go up before the rain hit… )… Another masterpiece from my dustbin- cover-upper-erer…

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And the beach…( which will be a long term working painting given the temperamental nature of my joints and the weather here!)

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That’s Molly giving it the once over… Again, it needs another coat.. not least because of the er.. snow affect my lovely painter accidently added in a mini blizzard. But also it will have more detail in it as time goes by…

Hope you like it. Think my six year old self would be quite pleased, given how many small people have congregated here this Summer!Image result for lifebuoy

I can feel the weather and my body getting less adaptable already, so I am grateful for these last few months of long sunshiney days. If I have had an ounce of energy it has gone into making what we have here, chipping away until each piece is done. It has been done on a shoestring, it hurts, its frustrating, but for now the biggest things are complete. You need the patience of a saint to build something yourself, and the skin of a rhino to throw off your critics….My rhino skills are sadly lacking but the positive comments and new friends made over the fence have more than made up for that.

Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not possible xx

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Love Liz

And six year old Liz xxx

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A little light on pain

Hello friends..

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For anyone you know, care about, or look after with a pain related illness, a widespread arthritic condition, fibromyalgia, M.E. or similar long term “chronic” symptoms.

Most of us would probably agree on one or two things.

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The term chronic is an unhelpful and misleading phrase, which lumps people together who simply have had an illness a long time. Chronic reads tragic, a bit sad and not quite figured out. The n.h.s, due to its inability to treat the whole person, fragments their parts to far flung departments, the more parts going wrong,  the more departments acquainting themselves with a version of the person they treat for 30 seconds.

Nobody ever seeing the whole picture and joining up the dots.

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When your body doesn’t work it leaves you frustrated, and struggling to know where you slot into a world you could previously easily move about in.

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You either sink or swim. And frankly some days the tide is against you.

Pain and immobile joints are exhausting. Being tired and feeling like you have flu, without the runny nose is common feeling, some days rendering you unable to lift limbs or keep awake until teatime. You know it will be different tomorrow, and you hold onto a fluttery butterfly of hope that the pain volume will be back down a bit. Those days are the toughest and might make your person sad. It is also really hard to describe the level of intense pain you have, to anyone who hasn’t felt it themselves. Similarly, if you look relatively ok, being believed and understood can be tricky. If your person has mental health or social anxieties as well, they might struggle to articulate the circle of needs they have and how people around them might help.

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Feeling you can’t mange physically can be very isolating. Seldom is there support for the feelings this can create. Whilst we try to create that in a practical way, it is different behind closed doors. Your partner and your children know you so well that they might not notice your day to day changing needs, or have the ability to understand them. Some friends might not see you in six months or a year and can’t be blamed for not knowing your deterioration and escalating needs. Check with your poorly person exactly what they are going through. It is a sure thing they haven’t wanted to bother you with the details.

You can guarantee your person doesn’t tell you a fraction of the times they are in pain. Not even close. So when they do, the Gods just turned the switch to mega-high and now, they need you to listen.

If they have a you to listen/help/share and support, then they are really really lucky.

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It is incredibly hard for your once independent loved one to ask for help. Nobody likes to feel they can’t be superhuman. But being human can sometimes feel like an enormous struggle too. If they ask you to help it might have taken a lot of biting back of their dignity and sense of self. Be kind and don’t stick an arrow over their heads reminding them of what a big favour you’re doing.

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Please don’t make your person feel guilty if they can’t make an arrangement, climb a hill, drive to a venue, stay awake past eight pm, or in my case sometimes even get from my car to the school door. Some days our bodies are letting us down badly, and to feel we somehow let down other people because of it, is a load too heavy to carry. ( Especially on crutches!)

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Hands, hips, knees, spine.. Every day can be a lottery, especially when it gets cold and damp. I am time limited with painting, to the sunny days and months.

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If your loved one uses a wheelchair, it can be a whole other set of issues. Being looked down on can feel like you are being ignored or bypassed when decisions are made. In crowds it is really hard to be pushed slowly like you have lost your va-va-voom and watch life zoom past you. Be aware of your friend or partner if they sometimes need help to get around, it can make them feel less than the person they used to be and humiliated to ask for support.

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Having to ask repeatedly for help is really tough. You kind of need someone to know, and not to dramatise it. If you can help someone, just be a subtle superhero.

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Without good support, I have seen people stop asking for help, creep slowly into their shells and stay there. In winter, when pain gets worse and bodies play hard ball, this can lead to people becoming terribly isolated and introverted. Then depression hits and you know how hard this can then be, impacting on health even more.

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If the person has a carer, especially if it is a younger person, they are connected in a way you might find hard to understand. Little things are big things to a person who can’t bend/walk/stand for long/use their grip or put their own shoes on. Quite rightly that carer needs support and their own space, but your friend will have a gap in their abilities to achieve certain things that they are used to getting help with, if that carer is away for a while. It might take much longer for example to get dressed, get the pets walked and fed or clean their shared home. The carer too has massively mixed feelings about their charge. Whilst carers can get a break, the guilt/co-dependence and shared care people have in their micro universe is tricky to unpick.Image result for carer

Your friend will simply be grateful you still see them as them, without the chipped away bits, the essence of who they were before disease or illness struck.

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For someone in pain, everyday activities they used to take for granted are like mountains and therefore it is incredibly important to respect how they still keep themselves tidy/organised and want to do normal stuff. And achieve their creativity or work.

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For example. It will be painful and arduous to Hoover carpets, get to the back of a bath or under toilets, under kids beds to clean out the mouldy plates. It will be very hard to carry laundry, sometimes carrying food to dinner tables, making beds or doing up buttons and opening jars. Any help is good help, as long as the assistant doesn’t make their mate feel guilty or that they need to ask. My best friend just grabs things off me and organises my fridge. Another put my entire post barbecue leftovers in Tupperware, housed all the cushions in the bunker, folded the chairs and stashed the wine bottles in the recycling. All tasks which would have taken the most part of a day to unpick.. She did it in twenty minutes whilst ordering me to drink tea.

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Your person is probably over compensating in some ways, because they can’t do other things. Let them. It’s their way. And their gift. Sometimes they might not say the thing they wanted to, or ‘be’ the person they hoped they would be that day. All a person in pain and illness wants, is to be treated with respect and to be quietly supported. If and when they can show their love back, it is almost certainly with utter gratitude and a deep deep relief that they have you in their life.

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To my friends now and in the future, thank you. I am very lucky to have you, and (most days!) my small person is my absolute rock. Creating an environment which welcomes folk in need of a bit colourful distraction is the start of our journey.  I wanted to share this as I am in the position of both being and supporting disability in different ways. In the act of helping in whatever way we can helps us too, and makes us choose gratitude over giving in.

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See you soon. Look after yourself and each other xxx

Liz

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On Being Nice..x

 

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I am realising that it is often hard for people to believe in goodness. Or people just being nice.

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So much so, that we can easily destroy the vital essence of giving,  without needing anything in return simply because someone can’t cope with our gift.

And we end up apologising for our choices and kindness because of the recipient’s interpretations and choices.

 

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It is a destructive cycle.

“Surely someone can’t be that nice to me!” …” I’ll check by kicking them. Oh look, they’ve reacted.. not so perfect now, in fact.. maybe they weren’t REALLY so kind in the first place.. Ha ha. Caught you, human like the rest of us and you’ll never be kind to ME again. Ha, that will teach you….”

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And then we can so easily get so disillusioned about showing love and kindness that we just don’t bother next time.

What is the point?

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But then we remember. Nobody forced our hand to buy that food, or create that perfect party or present. We enjoyed doing it. We loved the process, and the gratitude we felt for who/ what we were doing it for. If the recipient meets the gift or the affection you show with a brick wall, it isn’t because of your failing. Or theirs. But the choice to respond to a situation is out of your hands almost as soon as it is dreamed up.images (12)

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Which means you are free. Free to keep creating and loving and making gorgeously crazy unique gifts of love in whatever way you see fit ,

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because that is who you need to be. You can lead a horse to water.. But you can’t make it put on the jumper you knitted or eat the salt beef and horseradish foccacia which you copied from the latest Jamie..

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If you can look in the mirror and say I am NOT hurting anybody and I am listening to my friends when they say they have enough handbags/picture frames/jars of pickled vegetables/ dvds of old movies stars/ vintage embroidered kerchiefs…..

Then keep being you..

This summer there have been a few unforseen changes of plans. From family to health to eating through a fridge full of food intended for guests who never came,

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  and the roller coaster  journey of a small person with attitude.

 

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We had usually been somewhere hot over the holidays, but having been to Spain twice earlier in the year and having no options to stay elsewhere,   there was a delicious and almost rebellious joy in going nowhere in particular . Instead of rushing to be everywhere for anyone who suggested anything, my body dictated we stood still for once. A hard thing to have faith in, but sometimes there’s no choice.

When we first came here I introduced myself to a particular fellow, the grumpy cat of the village.. or so I thought. Our first conversation resulted in him telling me he didn’t want any more friends as they only let you down. .. Oookaaayy…

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Fast forward to this week, we just installed my new dustbin holder, which he made and I painted. For which, when I thanked him, I got a huge smacker on the cheek.

We just discussed a project to make my gate look like a bit of an old shipwreck and some collaborative boat ideas. He is lovely. So is his wife. Your new friends can literally be anywhere.

All we did was keep being us. TDDS_DS-Be-Nice-TT_1024x1024

Sometimes that is so hard. Sometimes you’ll get a reaction like I had this week from someone I am related to, that the love and kindness shown them is just embarrassing. Thoughtful presents and time taken over making memories was (translated as) an act of self gain.

In the past, I would have automatically crumbled and felt terribly guilty (not even knowing why. But stop. Nobody has to bother to be kind and if you are, nobody has to bother with accepting your kindness. You aren’t forcing them. You and they have choices. Good can be overwhelming, if somebody isn’t able to accept it at that moment, back away but  never let it stop your true essence.

It is so easy to internalize a rebuke or a put down. But think about it a little bit more. What does it say about the recipient? It is just as much of a skill to receive a compliment or a gift as it is to give it. Sometimes a negative reaction can be about a different thing entirely. Probably nothing to do with your big, ranbow heart gift wrapped upon your sleeve.

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Leave them well alone and tiptoe away.. until another day/person/scenario has a gap in their sleeve befitting your heart perfectly…

Who wants to live their life fitting in to the mould of how appropriate the amount of kindness you show should be?

Last week, two amazing people spoke to me over the fence and said they loved our garden. They were staying in the  big house round the corner and had loved what we are doing here. ( It is safe to say it is a bit different.) We swapped numbers and details and the lovely lady gave us a bag of organic salad and healthy foods that they couldn’t take home. Today I also got a wonderful letter from the ladies’ friend who himself is an artist, and has had support in mental heath Arts. I was so so chuffed and overwhelmed. Lovely people.. just being kind, tapping into a two-way gift of being nice. Fabulous.

( He did this!!!! How amazing is that !!!)

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Our gifted bag of goodies!

I would rather be understood and accepted by half the people I ever meet by being 100% myself;  than tolerated by everyone, so that we don’t stand out too much. Who wants to be beige.

Niceness, being kind and open is not a disease. You’ll not catch it, unless you want it to rub off on you. But it can be a pretty nice state of being. And you never know where it might lead you or what lovely people will enter your life.

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But who knows what and who you might be missing out on xxx

 

 

The Beach Hut Lady

I have finished the beach hut.

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My friend Margaret came the other day and helped with the high bits. Other friends have also helped me make furniture, paint windows and do the stripey bits. I do sections, stop when my hands hurt too badly, and begin the next day again.

This is the room I always wanted, but I didn’t have the time, the freedom,the confidence or the separation from my small child I needed to create it.

There were no gardens in the place we escaped to!!

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Its lovely. And its mine.  ( ours!!) Now I’m going to make Art in it. The leftover teaching supplies I no longer need are gone, the rest are boxed up in the shed with wonky labels on . The things I want to use in the community art groups get slung in the wheeley bags my lovely group help pull about and there are no to do lists left…I’m on the home front…’

As the final brush strokes were completed there was a call from over the fence.

That lady I told you about in the gala day blog, the one who had spoken to me at her charity lifeboat stall last week.. she was there calling over the sunflowers…..

‘I wondered if you would like my collection of beach hut memorabilia?’ she said.

Ermmm……

‘I  love your house, you were really nice and you said I could take photos of your house. ‘The beach hut girl’ ..I tried to look you up, but I decided to just come by instead. The beach hut I was going to have, never materialised and these things should go somewhere to someone  who will appreciate them…’…

Bunting, tapestry, tins and wooden huts….

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So they did.. they went straight into the newly completed perfectly ready beach hut studio. They fitted perfectly. Like they were made for it.

Cool huh…!!

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It was a lovely and generous surprise. She will of course become a friend. She has to! We Seem to collect cool people around here. Holiday makers and stall holders, artists and neighbours… The melting pot of open, friendly, creative people, willing to share.. in whatever way that will be..As time has gone by, and life has become more distilled.. the people we spend time with, however fleetingly, become more and more important, and valued. I liked her immediately because this lady wore her huge heart on her sleeve and valued friendship over profit. That’s who we want in our corner and in our beach huts.

A few Summer visitors

There is still magic out there . There are still undiscovered treasures. Friendships and connections waiting to grow and flourish if we look under the rocks and between the  lines… and not always who we imagine. It’s fun,  wondering who might pop up and surprise you. Age, country, job, it isn’t important. Leave your armour at the door and your heart open….

And I might never have known so many amazing people.  I might never have got here to our forever home. The studio might never have built.. the friendships never seeded…

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A couple of years ago something happened which could have blown the whole thing out the water.. Nobody knows when these things will strike… mine struck when my cat knocked over all my tablets…

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A combination of stupidity and time short muminess meant not checking what was now in the tub of tablets, I then scooped up in haste…
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I took what I thought was the usual combination and ended up in an ambulance. The mix of meds was not good for me, and I had a really bad reaction .

I was really unwell and it could have been the end of me. I called my best friend. Devastated, I told her the saddest thing I felt was that I had lived for sooooooooo many years already but that I  hadn’t even started to live yet. I had so much more to do. I realised, that if life was snatched now, I wouldn’t be ready. I had things to do and a child to love.

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As I wondered what damage the medication was silently and corrosively doing, I thought of the krypton factor which my life had recently become, the massive mountain we had literally just climbed off, and the dreams I still hadn’t un-boxed.  The reasons I still had to get out of that hospital in one piece.. We had come such a long way and I was not giving up . How anyone could intentionally inhale a box of paracetamol was completely beyond me……..Image result for dont give up

 

It was a close call and a reminder of how fragile life can be. I was dangerously allergic to the combination, and I had half an hour to fix it……

From that moment on.. I knew that if I was ok, I would take the cards dealt with my health and double what was possible to do in my life.

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Not many people knew that story at the time.

I felt a bit stupid….. 

Image result for onwards and upwardsIf it had worked out differently, Nothing that followed would have ever begun. Our friends, our home, and our beautiful, creative journey.

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We are all fallible, and stupid sometimes. We all make mistakes. Some worse than others. Some thankfully, enable the gratitude we feel to be sweeter and more poignant. And the colours we paint to be that little bit brighter..

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Thank you to the beach hut lady, thank you to my daughter who called the ambulance that day, and thank you in advance for the strange and wonderful life we made.

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Much of our dulling down comes from the belief that other people’s perception of us is true. It can be a choice to believe otherwise. Everyone messes up. Humans need to.  Learning from what happens next is to value ourselves a bit more. Give yourself a break. If we can still believe in a sprinkling of magic to chase the past away, who knows who might be leaning over your fence soon, and what they might bring with them.. and what colour you’ll ultimately decide your fence will become.

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Here at Skye Blue House ..We choose rainbow.xx

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You can’t please them all…

As we spent the day painting pebbles for a charity day in St abbs recently, I wandered around chatting to the fellow stall holders  One fabulous lady whom I bought a few beachy bits from, said she had waited years for a beach hut , but it went to her relative and so she was selling her stuff for charity, the lifeboat here in the village., …. Guess who was happy to give the seaside paraphenallia a good home !!!

I got our things and she asked me if she could photograph my garden. She had walked past a few times. she knew it was mine she said  … It had to be !! I was touched and thankful. It was of course, really complimentary. And they were a lovely family. They are in the gang..

Another woman walked up to the stall. I had seen her about in the village.. I knew that perhaps we had a similar taste in planting as both our gardens have thrived in the summer heat. I complimented this lady on her colourful skirt and top saying she looked nice and bright.. Imagine.. the surprise when the reply was.. Well I wish I could say the same about your house.. Ohh!! well, ‘That’s me told…….’. ‘Yes, she said,….. ‘I don’t like your house !!’

OOOOOOOOKAAAAAAY …

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Ok.

It isn’t what everyone has but really? Would you say it out loud!! Image result for say it out loud

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How easy would it be to wipe out that earlier lady’s comment? Or all those other nice comments we hear from people all the time? All the photos we get asked if people can take.. or the joy we can see when people see the achievement , just because of that ONE negative perspective?

BUT we do..

 

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We all do. All the time. The tiny tiny bad bit becomes all we think about in the big scheme of things and it is madness. ( But normal!) We are so much more than the jealous, or sad, or lonely person who chooses to voice their feelings in that way and we happen to get in the way at that  moment, on that day…

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The other 67843 lovely comments are still true.. REALLY. !!! And at the end of the day.. Do I like my garden? Yes.. Does the kid growing up in it feel happy in it .. YES.. !!

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Well then.

Having gone through a long term situation where there was a LOT of negativity.. I try to remember how fleeting these random commentaries are.

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The opinion of those we love.. yes, to a point.. but mostly if we are looking in the mirror and the person staring back is ok with the stuff we are doing/thinking/being… it’s probably enough..Image result for i like me more

Because I just don’t want to be anyone else.. And neither should you . All things which are different  create a reaction..If nobody is harmed, affected or comprimised by your flourishing.. carry on….Be your own reference.

Image result for snails in shellIf you get negative comments….Don’t go back in your shell… Decorate it !!

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Love Liz xx