May the force be with you

Dear friends. Another couple of weeks in. How are you bearing up? Are you surprising yourself with your resilience in this strange new world ? Or are you struggling with groundhog day? Maybe a bit of both, with the scales weighted drastically in different directions depending on the weather…. Like the radio broadcasters we listen to on waking, talking about their outfits and their breakfasts, (instead of their premiers and parties) : we are all now more aware of the details, because it is all we have. Here are some of our moments, from scrapbook trawling, to unwrapping childhood wigwams sent from Grandma’s attic, savouring the last few Christmas soaps, quiet studio moments, learning how to cook and appreciating the time to get a few pieces of artwork finished.

Our mornings have slipped into a routine between animals and the dreaded schoolwork, which actually, has been mostly excellent, although the uploading to a required forum, not quite so easy! We keep on drawing, and stitching, and talking and trusting and hoping and believing in the things we love ……. Every day I draw an object and share this idea to a couple of groups, on facebook and whatsapp… who.. in turn… draw, or share their artwork, and in some cases, haiku, sewing or poetry . It doesn’t matter where each journey ends. The huge thing for many people, has been regular contact, communication between others in the groups and lessening the feeling of only having your own ideas to dwell on. Uploading the videos I made seems to have foxed our local internet provision. So these early morning scribbles have become a new habit for us all.

For animals, life is better. They have us all the time now. Perhaps it was a conspiracy ! This week has included a spa for dogs and the chicken, including all of them being read to…and Skye’s daily walks with her boyfriend Glen. Molly and Max do what cats usually do.

Our usual noisy places are quiet. There is an eeriness where there is usually kid’s laughter. The seagulls are taking over the park as well as the overflowing bin bags from the nation’s decluttering.

We all have pain and anger.. Several people have alluded recently to positive posts or brightness in the face of adversity. It can be extremely easy to see what we want to see, when those things are what we feel ourselves. If you fall in love, love is everywhere, every flower shines it’s happy face in your direction. Currently, nobody really knows how to feel. And time spent staring into an abyss of different opinions online or listening to rumours won’t help you. We aren’t exempt from feeling sadness. Or frustration or fear. There have been tears and tantrums here, and not just Leah’s.

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We have been more aware of our isolation here now than at any other point. The brighter you shine, the darker the edges of the crowd. Usually we absorb the benefits of energetic, inspiring people around us every day. Your Vibe attracts your Tribe' - Brigitte Riley Yoga
And if your tribe aren’t about… you become more aware of those less positive vibes surrounding you. It takes a shed load of will and self preservation to maintain good mental health, and a positive life for another small human, when you live amidst some negative people. In past circumstances, I know, I have been guilty of believing the cynics, and the gas lighters. We all know people who prey on those who are less grey, unkind, self loathing than they are. Because to turn the mirror the other way , on themselves, would be too hard. So they attack other people.
The Owl and the Pussycat by Anne Lambelet
But one learns that serves no-one. I teach my daughter that we can choose. To be goaded into a response or to stand still, or float in your colourful boat in a sea of colour until you hit an island where your tribe are waiting.
At this time all our reserves are being stretched as far as they can go. All of us. .The European Central Bank Is Being Stretched to Its Breaking Point ...

We can’t replenish our soul with our friends smiling at us, our voices can’t soar in our choirs, we can’t drive to our retreats and our places of comfort. So all of that has to be done in our homes and within ourselves. It is a tall order . For us, we have terribly sad things happening in our family, which like for many of you, we can’t do anything about, or travel to be with the people we love. .

All we can do, is to carry on carrying on being there for each other and being positive for the art groups, our mental health group and our friends, to share some colour and kindness; even on the dullest day. There is another day tomorrow. There are new skills to learn and grow. If you don’t like it, don’t look. !

Book Children WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT? 1954 WONDER BOOKS Mid ...

I made this week bird week. This was for my mum. A prayer for the things she’s going through and I can’t be there for. She loves her beautiful garden and her birds. My friends were asked to choose their favourite bird on different days. In time, these will be prints and be shared as a tribute and as memories of this time.

As you’ll know, we recently lost our beloved friend Pumpkin. And in these times of lockdowns, no travelling, no school friends to knock about with, there is a huge surplus of hugs to contend with . So, on the first day of the pet shop opening in Berwick I had an 11 year old trailing her parent with fingers glued crossed that they had what she hoped for, then I was dragged to an x on the floor to sign a few virtual crosses for pet ownership…. and then this happened……

Meet Bonnie and Bumble. 9 wk old balls of fluffy gorgeousness. In a cage of many fur balls these two stood out as perfect for this home. They picked us . The most beautiful little guinea pigs you ever saw. One each, so no squabbling . They are already at home in Leah’s hair, and have become part of the Skye Blue zoo within hours. The cats have already given their approval. Skye loves everyone. So that’s that. The zoo is back . Bumble is sitting on my lap as I write. These days, multitasking is all…

How to Home School During Coronavirus - The New York Times

When you only have the people and creatures and thoughts that matter, choose them wisely.

Hugs Are Important! Its Proper Science! - The Shona Project

Well.. we’ve got carrots to chop , paints to squeeze, neighbours to annoy.. and glitter to sprinkle .

freetoeditedited #freetoedit #swirl #sparkle - Transparent ...

Lots of love in lockdown, xxxx Liz and Leah!!!!

A personal tour

Hello everyone and welcome to your tour. ! As you can’t come to us, we thought we would bring Skye Blue House to you and share a little of our world and various Art Spaces. In the three years since we have lived here, we have transformed every inch of our little kingdom. And in Summer, the window of opportunity to be outdoors is small. So celebrate we must.

Firstly, our vintage caravan. Crammed full of shabby chic, enamel picnic wear, cosy rugs and blankets and simple magazines, perfect for inspirational ideas while you’re drinking tea under the fairy lights.

When we came here, there was just a square of garden. Now three years on, we have two apple, a pear and a cherry tree, various acers, a willow, rowan and a multitude of flowers and plants bursting through every bed and border. My impatience for planting outweighs my knowledge of each specamin, but I instinctively plant, feed and nurture them and something is working. You can clearly flourish without knowing all the rules sometimes. . This period of time we are currently living through; a timetable without limits and these few months of a little more warmth on the body, has enabled re-painting of some of the murals and colourful paths here. Most of these are done with shed paint. I favour cuprinol for its intense colours. (But other garden paint is available!) It might not last forever , but if the look you favour is slightly weathered, that’s fine! I have been fortunate to have a friend make me some sturdy bin, log holders, gate and seats. Wood is far more coast friendly than metal.

And it isn’t just humans and animals that have somewhere to live here. Parallel to our kingdom is the fairy one. In amongst the alpine plants are tiny houses, tables and chairs, a beach, a church, even a circus… And when the lights go down at night….

No paint is safe here… Odds and ends can be used in various ways, but this time, the scraps went to create a garden Art chair, out of an old bedraggled child’s armchair.

As our galleries aren’t open just now, there was a slight issue with storage and trip hazards of pictures all over the place.. my sticks, speedy 11 yr olds and ploddy dogs. Solution? Build a gallery in your shed. This space was a camp last week, but the thought there MIGHT be a spider in there was enough to prevent it ever being used as one by it’s young owner. So mum, ever ready with a plan, presents to you… The First of our galleries. This one is called Rose Cottage, Named After Mopsie (my Grandmother’s) house. Next, will be a real one hopefully!

In the larger of the beach huts, there is both space to work alongside someone else as well as a space to sleep. It is only really a summer space as it gets so cold and windy here on the cliff, and I find it harder to be outdoors after October. But here are all the beach hut donations given to us by our mysterious annual gifter. Every Summer, new arrivals appear for the Beach hut lady, by a collector of beach hut paraphernalia. And are extremely welcome and well loved.

This is our garden room hut. Memories are everywhere here, peeping through from between pages in vintage books and in drawers and print blocks. Childhood games and gifts, tiny treasures and letters. A most relaxing hidden gem. This room beckons you in and keeps you here for hours.. Anyone who has ever read an Angela Carter novel will get this space.

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I did the same as a child in the dappled light of Mopsie’s garden.

Planners will defend Woodcut site appeal

Suspend your sensible mind for long enough to have some fun with your things, while you have this time . Look closer. Who knows what or who you’ll find. xxx

Give a green heart this Valentine's Day - Natures Home magazine ...

How to keep your parents entertained

Kids….. Over Here…….Hello there !

How to Remove Paint from Hands | LoveToKnow

Shhhhhh. The thing is.. even though grown ups pretend to know EVERYTHING; you know, and I know and they know really, that you are the ones that have the best ideas.

50 best indoor activities for kids - It's Always Autumn

Right now, everyone is wondering about a lot of stuff. Have you noticed? Looking around, with a confused expression, checking the cupboards a lot.. opening the fridge door…… even more… taking the dog out for so many walks he’s hiding in the airing cupboard…

The Reason Fridge Doors are Magnetic Today Is Terrifying

This woman has been there for three weeks….

Hilarious photos of dogs hiding! : Funny : BOOMSbeat

Your parents don’t know what else to entertain themselves with.. Give them a wee hug. If you’re in the house anyway, it’s ok. Look them in the eye and tell them you’ve got this entertainment business sorted, and you love them…

A Study Suggests That You and Your Dog Fall in Love When You Look ...

Let them do that stuff that normally annoys you …..

Mom braided your hair every day when you were little~~ Vintage ...

…keeps them quiet….

Rejoice, all you embarrassing dads, you're doing a brilliant job ...
Agree to a few little things that might make life a bit easier . Just don’t let them dress you in old curtains.

Now here are some cool ideas to help your parents de-stress over the holidays. Just do not tell them it might be fun. ANY mention of doing something which doesn’t involve bleaching their taps and ironing their pants will FREAK them out. TELL them it is for you, That will show them….

Overwhelmed Mom Syndrome: It's Real If You Have ADHD

Right….. you might need some serious motivational tools…..

Colorful superhero kids with superpowers | Royalty free stock ...

And some serious checking out of what there is stashed away.

Forget Crayons: 11 Great Art Materials for Toddlers - Artful ...
And then find a peaceful corner to explore your ideas.
How to Turn Kids Art into Posters | Kids art galleries, Art for ...

1 Bottle Sculptures

Start collecting washing up or washing liquid bottles .

To cover the bottle and build up the layers, tear up old newspapers, mix 50% pva glue with 50% mixed water to make the glue.

mix PVA glue and homemade glue (starch flour and boiled water ...

Before you start, bunch up a newspaper head into a ball, cut cardboard arms, wings or feet. stick these on with masking tape. Paper mache your whole sculpture with three layers of newspaper. If you are lucky enough to have modroc. Use this next. But this is just an extra idea.

paper mache around a plastic bottle to make characters. | Paper ...

To decorate, use the same technique to add coloured tissue paper layers on top. You can create any character by adding detail with more pieces of card and old jewellery, wire wrapped with wool and pieces of plastic covered in your paper layers. Paint details on with acrylic paint and varnish if you have it. Things to remember, glue guns are fabulous to use, but you are going to have to keep this out of reach of all adults, as they are clumsy with hot things and they get very messy .

Paper Maché Animals | Paper mache crafts for kids, Paper mache ...

While your art is drying , there are LOADS of things you can listen to online which make your brain get HUGE . Grown -ups hate this because it means you’ll be cleverer than them.. Ted Talks for kids have lots of good stuff. BBC audio have stories and music. Sometimes, it is nice just to hear things in the background while we get on with interesting things we need our eyes for !

2 Grow a family of Cress Heads

Mr. Fothergill's Cress Heads Fun Seeds: Amazon.co.uk: Garden ...

Rummage around for some lentils, cress, mung beans. Empty out some cooked egg shells after lunch.. Very very carefully. Put some cotton wool in the base with some water in it. Sprinkle your beans or seeds on the cotton wool. Carefully design your family’s faces with features and stick on eyes . In a couple of days, their hair should start to grow, and you can cut and eat it. Brownie points on the healthy food score too.

3 Paper Dolls.

All adults think they know how to do this…. why not test them on it?

Paper Doll Chain Template (With images) | Paper doll chain, Paper ...

4 Washing Line Tents

Make a super quick garden tent for the kids | Jardin de niños ...

Plonk your picnic blanket under the washing line. Fold a sheet Probably not a Tk- Maxx Egyption cotton zillion thread one….add in cushions, snacks, and lastly either the odd human, or failing that, animals or teddy bears.

5 Use what you have

We all know you’ve got some school stuff to do . Maybe not for the holidays but afterwards you’ll need to keep your brain ticking. Try really hard to get a good chunk done in the morning. Are those Adults trying to look everything up on computers? Doh. ! I bet you’ve got tons of cool books already with interesting ideas and things to do. Do you know there was a time between dinosaurs and now.. where we looked at books to find stuff out 🙂 Impress the oldies with your vintage methods…

Bright Book Night Light

6 Invite everyone to lunch

Ask what food is available to use and what you can safely prepare. Make a menu and get them to tidy their bedrooms while you make the tea!

This was my daughter’s invention…

7 Nature Study

Everybody has these kinds of books. And on your walk, in your garden or if you can get to the beach; start to look at things around you as if you were a scientist. Make drawings, write down where you find things, what they looked like, press flowers, make small collections of shells and find out what they are called . Be mindful of not taking home any creature’s house, or picking flowers (other than one or two wild ones if there are hundreds in a clump)

My Nature Journal | Emerging Creatively Jewelry Tutorials

8 Sleep upside down or in a Box

A change is as good as a rest! This activity incorporated playing in a box, hugs and animals. Boxes are good fun for millions of things, so keep any that arrive from online stuff….

Pop up a tent and look up stars online.. only eat white food and chocolate.. only walk backwards, have a pyjama day and invent a new language…

Indoor Camping Ideas for Kids | HGTV

9 Make a mobile

Use the same techniques as the bottle sculptures. For this you’ll need cardboard, sticks or driftwood, wire, pva/water mix, masking tape, white acrylic paint to make a base coat, coloured acrylics and any sparkly top layers. Don’t forget to make little metal loops for hanging your shapes on your string or wires. Balance the weight of shapes equally each side.

10 Use tiny toys in a picture

Could you re- purpose some of those annoying little toys that get in the hoover? Make a display case, glue them to a canvas and add some paint or make a photo frame. Your feet will thank you…..

And lastly ..

11 Revamp your wardrobe

If you are lucky enough to have a sewing machine about, learn to use it. Anything will be easier than your what your distant relatives had to use.

Cleaning and Operating a 100-Year-Old Sewing Machine – Lindsay ...

Be careful. Don’t let your parents use it if they have had wine. Insist on hand sewing only in that case.

Teaching A Child to Sew — Phoebe&Egg

This is a piece of time which will pass. You will be a bit taller, your clothes will be a bit smaller, you will be a little fed up but a lot wiser and everyone will be a little bit more grateful for the normal things we love.

Snow stride | Maddy, striding out in the snow Boxing Day, De… | Flickr

You will march out there into the world in clothes you’ve revamped yourself, showing off art you’ve created, talking about books you’ve read and having made the most of this unusual time.

you are amazing - Google Search | You are strong quotes, Rainbow ...

And you have to keep reminding those big people that they are too xx

Mortality due to heart diseases increases by 50% in winter
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Pumpkin says Eat well, keep safe and give your best smiles, See you soon xx

A spoonful of sugar …

Hello dear friends.

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Well, what started as a regular kind of monthly journal has become something very different this month. We truly hope you are well, wherever you are and send our thoughts to you in the world.

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As we all hunker down for little while there are some small things, we can do to stay healthy in different ways.  

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Firstly, this pandemic is all a bit like your mum turning out the lights while you’re still wide awake. It suddenly got dark. Nobody felt ready to just stop doing and being.

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But the thing to remember is how marvellous we all actually are in the face of adversity. soon you’ll get used to a routine and it will feel less scary. If ever there was an excuse to get your old teddy bear out of the attic it is now!

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A lot of folk with anxiety or who rely on social interaction and consistency in routine will need you to help them maintain this.  Perhaps this is you, or someone you love. It will be really vital to establish a structure of some kind in an indefinite time bubble.

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So, make sure there is some phone contact, post your numbers through the neighbour’s door, set up a time each day or week to speak. Routine for the vulnerable is really important. The world hasn’t disappeared. But for some, it might feel like it has. Please use this if you can..

    Hi, I am your Neighbour.
My name is:………………………………………………………………….
My phone number is:……………………………………………….
My email is: ……………………………………………………….
I can help you in an emergency with the following : …………………………………… …………………………………… ……………………………………. …………………………………….
I go shopping on ……………………………………………….
And I am happy to help if you need some extra things.
Let me know by ………………………..….………………………………..
I may need help with   ……………………………………………….. …………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………….. ……………
Use this space for your emergency contact instructions or information …………………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………………….. ………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………. ……………………………………………………………………………………….                              

If you have the facility to set up an online get together, or WhatsApp group make it an excuse for a collective chat and making session.  Social isolation can exacerbate old fears and self-destruct buttons. So, if you can be part of something for yourself, and each other it will help

My to do list will definitely include a pile of unfinished artwork!

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We will be posting lots of ideas on our Facebook pages over the next couple of months, and attempting videos … watch this space!!

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Don’t listen to too much news, don’t watch too much tv and scroll through endless pages on the internet. Limit your time to first thing in the day, and in the evening. Instead sit down and write all the things you never had time to do. If you don’t get them done at home in the next few months, you never will! So now is the time to crack on. create things, read your books, write a book! Colour in things, re- decorate, sew things, mend things, cook things and get outside and plant something, even in a couple of pots.

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All of the above can and should be part of your child’s home schooling, which most of you will have enforced on you as well. To make the day work as well as it can, structure a loose timetable to help them and you cope with what is happening.

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Definitely restrict screen time. Insist on this! But perhaps use it as part of a lesson to compensate.

Kids need a good breakfast and most work better on maths and English earlier in the day so pace their learning with short blocks of whatever they are studying. If they can check in with you often, or sit in an organised space they are more likely to absorb their task.

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Don’t reward each task with treats. The child wouldn’t get this in school and will otherwise end up the size of  a house! I am already finding the need for more stringent house rules on snacking.

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Even if I wasn’t a teacher, replicating school is never going to happen at home. Kids naturally don’t take us seriously. So, if we get a few sums done, an art project on alien virus creatures and you plant a sunflower, that’s enough.

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As for the more vintage of you, get a little more on top of the usual needs. Your doctor’s surgery knows everyone is worried and will expect you to place your prescription early. It might take a few days longer and if you are isolated ask a neighbour or in some cases they can deliver.

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For many people, in an emergency, there is an initial period of disbelief and then we go a bit numb. And this is when your coping strategies need to kick in, on behalf of those you love and yourself. If you feel you are safer at home, stay there. Feed yourself well.

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My friend said she found there was suddenly no flour on the shelves. Some of us might actually bake, but many people are buying in case they decide to! Think about the things which will sustain you, if you can’t get to the shops for  a week. What type of bread freezes best? (wraps are good) and go with a list to the shops. Because you will lose the ability to make logical decisions when surrounded by hysteria. Breathe, buy, head home and shut the door.

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Being indoors for a prolonged period isn’t easy, so make it your home your nest. Keep it clean and open windows to circulate air. Jiggle things around. use this as an excuse to do a drastic whatever.. Paint a wall, knit a rug, decoupage a dog bed… whatever keeps your hands busy.

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Watch things which take you to another world. Our minds need to dream, believe, trust and create hs yet to be explored. This cant be done by watching documentaries of people being evicted and soaps where everyone wants to sabotage one another’s relationships. . The same is true of books. Whilst an odd headline in a paper is ok to read, why not listen to audio books which teach you stuff, re- read a classic or read a story with your children. Or grandchildren. This can still happen over a facetime call. This might teach us all how to be story tellers again.

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I was asked to make something for a friend of mine recently. She knew of a couple who had a couple of old vases and they had sentimental value, precious to them. He broke one accidentally and threw away all the pieces . He was well and truly in the dog house. Could I do something with a few of the bits, so that he could give something back to his wife as way of an apology?

So I made them a picture ….. We await the result of his journey from the garden to the marital home! xxx

Broken things can be fixed, maybe not as they were before. But in a different guise and with a new mosaic pattern. Don’t throw anything away simply because it’s use isn’t yet understood. But don’t hoard either !! these next few months might make us all re-think what is important. .  

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Make the most of your cuddles, your animals and your resources. We are all fortunate in many ways still and have to be positive.

Image may contain: Liz Walker, eyeglasses and indoor

So, over the next while, please do stay in touch on Facebook and here. Keep your minds healthy as well as your body and your space.

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We just learnt that Skye isn’t too well, so this time is even more precious. You my friends are an inspiration and this too shall pass xxx  Good luck, take a deep breath and know you got this ..

With huge love Liz and the zoo.

xxxx

February Flowers

Twice in the last week I have been told to smile. Both times I emphatically believed I was smiling already. And what was wierd was one person could hardly see me on the phone, and the other had their back to me when they said it.

Thing was, I was in big pain. And it was possibly harder to hide than I thought . Even though my facial muscles were doing their hardest to fool everyone…

The people who know us know US. We are far more than a couple of facial muscles. What we emanante, even if we are miles away is an invisible but powerful combination of ingredients which make us up, and are ever fluid. We are made up of things ‘we portray, things we don’t realise we show, the things we do, the things we say, what we wear, and how we interact with the world.

Every time we try to revamp our style, all this does is brush on a fresh coat of paint on a well loved home. The home you personally inhabit is deeper than that. My pain was showing and I didnt realise. But even without looking, it was felt by those who cared. Sensed.

WE are the sum of more than just our own truths. Whether we like it or not.. and this is where you better make sure your’e on Santa’s good list.. someone somewhere can pick up on your hidden depths, your fears, dreams and gorgeously different ability to navigate life’s journey.

In our way is fear of success, fear of showing off, perhaps a life of crippling comments from a family member. Thankfully, if you ask those that truly love you who you are…. you’ll find out that you are not just your doubts, your pain or your insecurities..

Your fabulous personality is a coat of many colours. We recently asked our group to write down words to describe each other and put them together as a gift for each person. It is a tough thing for many people to read, let alone re-write nice things about themselves!! Most wouldn’t have dared to say those things in the mirror. Me included. !! But it was a very worthwhile exercise in cheering up a gloomy February Monday.

Kind of lovely…

If you don’t believe in your own particular style of magic who else will?

We have to trust that from tiny seeds planted when we can only dream ideas up, when we are sore or tired or alone: crumbling a handful of earth between our fingers….. that great blooms will eventually grow.

In between the grey skies and the routines, the heating breaking down (oh yes.. thankfully all pets at once sit on you in this house… )

A few things got printed… Completed and will add to the stock created by Liz at the Beach Hut to fund plans or our community enterprise Sea Sparkle…..

Thank you Serendipity for putting us in the window last week! We are hoping to build on our efforts to create a permanent disabled friendly space to host our Art group. As well as fund a travelling Art-Mobile to take our accessible art to as many people as we can.

We have been a little restricted with the weather lately but occasionally pop our head out of the window….

So in the meantime just pose in the odd cafe…..

Oh ok. Ill keep her.

Exhibition

This month saw the fruits of the Art group’s hard work come together in an exhibition, entitled Art for Health’s Sake. One of a few not for profit supportive and creative gatherings of individulas, coming together in creativity through ill health, mental health issues or through dementia. I can’t tell you how incredible it was to see our artists at their own private view, enjoying the compliments for their work and for their attitude to life and one another. Pride doesn’t come close. My heart is still bursting.

Go to Sea Sparkle on Facebook to see the exhibition video and Sea Sparkle.org on wordpress to see more great examples of the Artist’s work.

Our Coast is cornucopia of beautiful views, oddities, cultural sites and old world charms; backdropped against a wild and wonderful sea with big dramatic skies. As a member of the Eyemouth Art Trail, we spent an afternoon working out the accessibility of the route we plan to highlight in future maps. I am always delighted to show off the town and its cultural hotspots. Especially with a bouncy assistant in tow..

And then the best part… to hibernate afterwards, as it is still freeeezing. Thank goodness for this little baby and the other furry ones. Who understand the need for huddling in extreme situations!!

There is no escape…

Projects have continued by the fire. This is Lulu Hope. She is a little bit of all of us. Inspiration from my girlfriends and what they are achieving against the odds , and certainly gone to the best home of all , a friend I am in awe of.

How lovely to have some artwork in this gorgeous building. Marshall Meadows. A hotel and permanent Art Exhibition hosting several local artists within beautiful grounds. You can find it just before Berwick and the exhibition is coordinated by a friend of mine Dorothy. She helped hang several of my pieces and we will have a private view later in the year .

This was a secret present for a couple of my pals…

Happy Birthday lovely

We currently have no permanent venue for our groups. So once a week, we take our pjs and a trolley to the home of one maker. Everyone is welcome and we bring food to share. Winter can be incredibly isolating. And especially in areas where there is no central hub. For now, this is a wonderful and warm place to eat, make and gather.

The house is getting a lick of paint… Odd things are getting revamped, re-tweaked, repainted….

Even the bath panels didn’t escape a spot of decoupage…

because when Spring comes.. just try and stop my hands being in that earth….

And even a couple of paws…

Keep cooking up a storm…..

xxxxxx

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Keep watering your garden

 I don’t claim to be an expert in anything but the contents of my own head and an awful lot of creative seeds…

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Here at the Beach Hut we make a real effort to rise above negativity that can impact day to day, because we are about being bigger than what life throws at us and using our creative superpowers, when our bodies are being temperamental.

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Unusually, twice this week, my daughter and I have directly heard some unkind and less than charitable comments regarding our creative hub and our enterprise..

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Apparently taking photos means you don’t love people, having a colourful life means you are  bonkers, and we are all doomed…Oh dear…… Best put the brushes away then….

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The enormous effort to not only provide a lovely life for a child after a horrendous journey to get there, to co-ordinate a community enterprise, create artwork, maintain a home, nurture animals and cope with disability is pretty flipping challenging .. on a sunny day. But add in any unwanted factor- the cold, pain, new disease, deteriorating movement, and it gets impossible. Sorry- we won’t tolerate nasty little stings.

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Buzz off

Joy is found more readily and genuinely in the little things if you are limited in your mobility or circumstances. Loving life and each other , and giving back that joy without counting a tally isn’t up for debate. When you really need an adopted family you might be glad you did.

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Creating something new, making your canvas and your garden takes time, trust and patience. And keeping your focus on the magic at the end takes an almighty sense of both self, and belief in something bigger than yourself, (whatever that is for you)  Your process might not make sense to everybody.   It doesn’t have to.

Creating, seeing things grow, making new from old and learning new skills, dress up our failing and tender bodies with layers of brightly coloured jewelled silks and help us float about like the real artists we knew we were all along!! .

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Many days have tested endurance to the absolute limit. Pushing past fatigue so strong all you want to do is sleep. When you are on the floor with exhaustion and you can’t move your limbs.. well you can at least sit in your hospital bed, plan world domination and doodle.

Your support network might think you are off your rocker but the laughing isn’t at you

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Kindness and cruelty to others have one thing in common, both can spread like Summer weeds in the right circumstances and create a huge impact on everything in their path.

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But even a few weeds can be pretty. A garden is always full of all kinds of hidden gems.. a bit like a community. And even the smallest contribution can be worthwhile.The magic is in the mix.

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If you’re lucky you’ll grow a few extra special orchids..

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Having been quite unwell since November and still having mega hospital appointments, it has been a tough few months, of uncertainty, pain and exhaustion . But, I am still able to do what we do – to create magical community events for charity, build fairy gardens, sing in the choir and push the last strands of energy in my daft body to bring a hilarious splashy inky splatty under the sea art experience to eight year olds in our art club, or support adults with mental health issues because it is brings true joy and because I have helpers. This domino of positivity helps me, all our makers, and the ripple effect of wellbeing for each family that they are encouraged to hold onto. It’s not just glitter.

All of these things experiences are non- profit, and completely possible only with the help of a ton of friends and volunteers. From small people pebble painting, friends offering gardening, and loads of donations of materials and hours of volunteering in the art club. And this month that help is extended to hospital lifts, after school babysitting and offers of putting pets to bed while we go away on a long awaited trip to enjoy some Summer heat. … I have so far this month agreed to two separate charity events, helped at another, handed out fresh chicken eggs to a few neighbours, agreed to a put together a new village help directory and lunched over a meeting of our fabulous upcoming Eyemouth Art Trail .. and fed most of the village in our garden in a Summer Tea party to say thank-you for our first two years here. .

No Bad Witches were allowed in…

Communities need each other. Sharing skills, ideas and being greater than the sum of its parts. Like an aging body, there are still things that each of us can do and swap for another gift we aren’t so good at.

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This may sound very obvious but it is as simple as a practicing saying hello and not expecting to give away a bit of yourself in the process.

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Enabling others to connect with the skills they have, share yours. Be the tribe you want to be in. Give as much as you are able and that you can balance with what you need to thrive.

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In contrast, like spreading sunshine, the ancient pastime of muck-spreading still continues in many rural communities, and not just in the fields.

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Thankfully, it is on the wane, as there is too much potential to share and achieve with other like-minded individuals, in person and online- no matter what your interest… Seaside communities have to work together to create strong bones, to hold their bodies together in the long tourist free winters. Many events, groups and activities cross pollinate in a delightful way and supporting each other’s causes can grow friendships, networks and future potential.

If we give people a chance, we can unearth the most unlikely and gorgeous friendships

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Us humans are generally all a bit wonky, and for some of us these differences show more than others

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We carry our emotional shopping bag stuffed full of conditioned thoughts, programmed responses to new things, and reasons why connection is BAD We hear familial ancestral voices, backing up these notions, from generations past and accept it as fact. But, unless we challenge these perceptions, nothing will ever change. Allowing ourselves to be kind, allows us to accept it back from others. We can choose to walk away from the undeserved or unprovoked snarl once in a while. Hurt people hurt people. But it is perfectly ok to have a limit . You can’t fix everyone. And as a random cross section of people thrust together into a town or village environment, it would be mad to think you would like everything or everybody. Tolerance and patience are key, keeping your mind free for getting on with better things.

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Be an expert on what you love. Only then can people know what they love you for. Keep the kettle on and don’t set fire to bridges.. limiting the support available if you really need someone is not a great plan.

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Spread sunshine not gossip, Gotta love your neighbour…

There are cracks we can’t fill , but they don’t need to be all we see.

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Let’s take our big stompy wellies on adventures…

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Because you don’t need to tread on someone else’s garden. No matter how full of weeds your own might be

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Have a lovely week my friends xx

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Love Liz x

Girl Interrupted

I was a little taken aback recently. It was just a few words, but you know how they can be. Little bowling balls aimed in the right direction striking misery into our well crafted lives and crushing our faith and confidence.

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Same things different decade same hope that being would be enough.

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Only difference now is, I know it is enough. And always was.

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This is my daughter and our dog . They had just won sixth prize for waggiest tail and smiliest eyes in a country dog show.. ( the dog not the child) They were the happiest creatures in the world and I cried like an idiot seeing them jumping up and down with pleasure..

It was just pure joy.. My pride for her was physical. As lovely as ice cream.

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This is her winning entry for the Borders Art Fair, kid’s Art competition. (Bit of a theme here) and same utter pride and pleasure in their success…

Taking pride in anything we have courage to do, should be shouted from the rooftops. Happiness in our achievements can be celebrated in a whisper or a scream but should always feel deserved. When you find it, remember to feel it, snapshot the moment, breathe it in and keep it close. I loved that there was such delight in 6th prize. As they had stood in line patiently waiting for any colour of rosette, watching other dogs take the stage, having any colour at all was perfect. There is plenty of time for being competitive in life. As human beings we spend our lives comparing ourselves. How lovely it was to simply be rewarded for being.

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Friends. Use your imagination and energy for one thing and one thing only….. being colourfully creative.. Everything else is a waste of time.

On countless occasions recently I have seen and felt the aftermath of hyped- up imaginations going on overdrive and wreaking needless havoc for non-existent problems and comparing lives, pointlessly. Why is it so hard to believe that there are still people worth believing in? Why do we see a set of beautiful paint colours and insist on meddling it into sludgy brown.

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Seriously. Are we looking for reasons to prove the world is flat?

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Stop talking about each other and talk to each other. Appreciate that there are things you won’t understand about everyone and that we all have failings but leave theirs alone.  Gaps don’t need filling in every silence.

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Our spiralling  thoughts can be our own worst enemy.

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Damaging potentially gorgeous life experiences with questions and doubts.

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Especially if they loop into the weave of things which are not of our control. Or things which are none of our business.

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Believe that you matter.

This doesn’t mean you don’t care for those that you love and care for. But absorbing the weight of everyone’s problems without first knowing that you are ok, will leave you without a shield and that doesn’t help anyone. Sometimes people aren’t ready to know your stuff without bringing theirs to the table first. You won’t know this until you start talking, so choose your tribe wisely giving yourself permission to edit when people ask how you are. This is another reason for self expression through any activity which gets your fury out.. get digging in earth, get dancing, get making. But don’t get lost in the rejection you get if you don’t get heard. It’s not because you didn’t shout loudly enough. It just fell on deaf ears.

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Perhaps enabling your troup with a balance of expression, nurturing and inspiration is a good start. when I was told recently that not everyone could be as positive as me, I didn’t get the chance to say this. “Nobody is positive all the time. Pain kinda does that. So does being a mum to an interestingly expressive wonder-child. But we are learning together our route through this chapter. And actually, what we do all have is a choice to go ahead or go under.”

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And to be able to survive both your own path and help other people, be very careful of judging those who always have your back. You never know when you’ll need each other most.. A good team is crucial. They are sometimes unexpected and wonderful.

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Be the enlightened creative version of you. Float above the dramas created by those on your path, tempting your attention and energy. People may be a bit confused by your apparent refusal to absorb their barbs but.. its a destination choice not your forever home …

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You must consider how best to serve your best self.. your imaginative wonderful creative self. The one that if you were the best parent ever, you would be advising yourself to be. Make stuff. Do stuff, meet up with other people and then scoop up the ones who need your help and find out what you can achieve that you were always told you couldn’t. To help others do the same. Also, in answer to the previous question, I know that positivity is contagious. That every single one of the brilliant people we come into contact with in our classes, are closer to being able to help others, and by knowing that, are stepping out of behavioral patterns tying them to medication or worse. We are building far more than a portfolio.

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And that gets us all out of bed.

All we ever have is ourselves and our unique gifts.

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Seeing you thrive, develop, be your most colourful self is what your family and circle of friends (should) want for you.

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Setting you up for your own adventures…

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It is a joy to get older and wiser, accruing and cementing values and idiosyncrasies If we waste our time picking holes in what other people are doing, saying, thinking, wearing, watching, reading, painting, believing, what are we giving up in return?

The freedom of peaceful non judgemental thoughts?..

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And the right not to be judged in return.

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Our life is like a story. Each chapter unfolds as we go. Some chapters are harder and longer than others and seem to go on for ever. If we use up our precious reserves of energy by fuelling animosities and looking for reasons why other’s are failing; our focus shifts away from the story we are in.

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And the stories we are telling with our hands, hearts and voices aren’t nearly as much fun as what we could be getting up to..

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I have this weird and indescribable belief that there is a truth, and a reason to do what we do. Nothing to do with religion or karma, but an instinct which is strong enough to keep us safe, fed and moving through each dark passage. It is the picture in our heads we keep safe until we get there. And it works.

Believe you are worth something wonderful, that your burning desire to make and write and grow another world for people to smile at, is why you are here. It isn’t easy for someone unhappy to let you live that life. In the hope that you’ll pop back in your neat little box and cause no embarrassment , they might pick away at you until you stop, or ignore you completely.

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Ill health and joint immobility have done their usual over winter, and still we are in limbo with several surgical procedures to come..

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But as we drove away on a recent epic drive, which was both long and painful, surrounded by cushions and in an automatic car.. my awesome daughter reminded me that this wasn’t the moment to simply survive, but to flourish. We channelled a flourish for 600 miles..

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And that’s the thing.. if you’re going to be in pain, better to (where possible) try and distract yourself by not being alone, try and create at least some memories despite what the Gods have shoved in your face… The things we do can be ploughed through , enjoyed or celebrated and rejoiced for the happiness they give us. Life isn’t a list. It’s a chance. People fortunate enough to be on your path, your offspring, your friends.. they are lucky to have you, your crazy colours, your big heart..

and all your creations !!

So me and my dawg and our arthritic paws will carry on being positive . Who knows which one of us will get a waggy tail prize next time .

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Much love my friends,

Happy Easter xxx

L xxxxx

Waiting Rooms

Who lives in a house like this?

No matter what your background, culture or situation, you might respond with an impact filled emotion to these amazing buildings, which could go one of two ways! Certainly, you would imagine that anyone creative enough to build their life outside of the flatpack universe, must have a certain amount of strength, energy and help to achieve such a lot of work.

If you wear bright colours, you paint your face, your sticks, your house, ..or around here …your path; you may find that you are seen as not really being that unwell . Can you hear your own doubting public !! ? You hear many things when you don’t always look unwell. That’s ok.. It is a choice to make. to not look ill. When a condition begins to darken the edges of your ability to manage normally, you either give in, or you let yourself be the real you. Trying to repeatedly prove to anyone you are actually unwell, is another level of frustration you don’t need. Wear a badge, hold up a placard but find the bit inside that still exists as the rainbow you.

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Some people choose to wear their faces like this… let them…

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Even medical professionals struggle to understand how someone can really be in pain, but still move enough to do positive things for themselves, and especially continue to do things for other people. In fact, often serious conditions are masked and overlooked when you have another chronic one that you are coping with over a long period of time. It used to make me sad, or angry or frustrated. Now I realise, that they are all part of a big wheel of never ending paperwork, and you aren’t that important, unless you make it your business to be. Quietly, calmly and consistently. And continuing to feel valued and worthwhile helps stop you sinking into that feeling of non existence !!

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The reality is, you can get more done when you ARE feeling worse sometimes; especially if you know you won’t always be able to .  You get things done despite your pain, not because you don’t actually have pain. You have no choice. For short bursts you can achieve amazing things.

  • A knowledge of your limitations creates a determination to push them further. Eek out a tiny bit more energy and drive until the job is done, even if it takes all night, or ten minutes every day. You tell yourself you can do it.
  • You stop thinking one negative opinion matters, you remember all the people cheering you on and offering their stories and admiration in return, or telling you how you inspired them to do similar.
  • You figure out and stick to the things you need to make life work- warmth, adapting your environment, lots of light, human touch, avoiding toxic people and food and spending time with delicious versions of both.
  • You keep your vision clear in your mind and don’t waver.
  • You stop telling yourself you are a fraud for being wonderful with a disability, a mental health issue, being in a wheelchair blah blah. And worrying that someone will catch you enjoying yourself and tip you out into the gutter.
  • You take up the offers of help you felt too proud to take up, and realise you would do the same for your friends in a heartbeat. And definitely will again one day.
  • You look around and ask yourself whether you are 100 % in this version of you, even if it isn’t gong to be permanent. Which means having only the clothes and things around you that you can wear, bear, or that make you feel like you aren’t waiting for another life to begin. Who knows what shape you might be in future?  Who knows what you’ll be in to? But if things make you sad, or make you perpetually feel like you’re waiting for a train to come for a station to the future. Tumbleweeds will knock you off your bench. And you might miss the great town you’re already in.
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I say this as someone who, currently can’t bend one arm, walk or wear my vintage dresses because they get tangled in my crutches. But. I am still me. I’m not chucking them out. (sorry!) They are mostly stored on a rail in the attic where if medical science catches up with my head and super vet takes on humans, I will shimmy down my ladder in my retro polka dots one day. or… my daughter may wear them to the prom. Either way. It’s ok. They aren’t taunting me when I open my wardrobe (s) ! I like my linen floaty stuff just as much.

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Resting up in hospital gave me time to get creative. I recycled all the medicine tubs on the ward to paint watercolours in, and spent a lovely time chatting to a wonderful lady next to me whilst tinkering away at these posters.

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These few months have been many things. I thought they were simply slow and painful at times, too cold to be in my beloved garden and to feel sun on my bones instead of these sticky pain patches! But on reflection each step has been plentiful, gathering momentum towards projects all over the place.

Flags for the village Green all now re-stencilled and painted!

Research for The Eyemouth Art Trail has created new friendships, unearthed a host of local information of local artists in the area, which I will chat to you about another time, and Artwork made which will be used for various things related to the campaign.


My community Art group have worked away at various projects over the winter, despite their own challenges, and we are developing a new relationship with a partner community group, who are lovely; and understand our needs as an entity! This is so exciting. People who can adapt when the teacher for the first children’s class ends up in hospital instead….. well they are more than ok in my book.

Winter has been drawn on and written on, when the joints have allowed, before spring comes and more time can be spent outside. Almost every weekend plan that was made was changed by various friends, they themselves having different complications, and that was ok too. So, this inside- the- house bit of time  for us was two months of preparation and of making new connections, facing the realities of what this new set of adaptions all means. But also enjoying the freedom of not caring what the imaginary little judge on my shoulder thinks.

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Kicked that little monster to touch.

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Taking on the bears

We gather habits, patterns of behaviour like we gather clothes and books. Thinking we will get the same from them as we always did. And they sit there in our lives staring at us, taunting us with their lack of commitment to the actual person we need too be now.

Sometimes the accumulation can be too overwhelming….
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Time to go easy on ourselves for a while..

Perhaps, without actually getting rid of anybody, it is time to ask who, in your current version of your self is bringing you a squeaky tea trolley of tea and biscuits? Or wine? Or who you feel like sharing your leftover Christmas stash with! x What things do you do that make you happy? If you are unwell now or if you were to be in the future, what would give you most pleasure to have around you?

Keep what and who you love close by and be grateful for what you can do, what you can achieve in a day and what your influence does still bring. Shove everything else in the attic. Keep smiling. Spring is coming xx

Or you’ll have hermione to deal with… xxx

Your Rainbow friends,

L and Lxxx

Draw

Recently I started to go to an art class, as a member and not as a teacher. It is wonderful. Not only are the people running it wonderfully easy and friendly, open to you creating your own masterpiece instead of drawing their set-up; but the class members are as easy to be in a room with, as a warm fire and your favourite slippers. I love it.

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There was a moment in the room recently, where everyone was focused on drawing some Autumn vegetables. After a hub hub of friendly chat, a slow quiet descended in the village hall. Marks were heard softly being etched and traced over paper as curves and leaves of different shaped forms were followed gently by twenty pairs of hands and eyes. It was so still. there was no noise, verbal or otherwise. It was a no space.

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The silence was magical. I’ve thought about it a lot since and it was I believe it was a perfect combination of feeling comfortable, feeling unjudged, letting go and trust.

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Drawing does something to and for us.  When we look, we connect. As simple as that. If we can find a space to feel at ease to do that, it provides a magical harmony between us and the qualities of the object we are celebrating.

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You don’t have to be good at drawing to make that happen either, and if you try too hard to find it, you may be missing the point. The point is, not to try. The point is to be, to look, to feel and to get rid of the constant babble chat and judgement.

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The end results are not the point. The journey to get there is the crucial reason for picking up your tools.

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It doesn’t have to be drawing.. Image result for gardening toolsAs a very keen and recent amateur gardener, I can safely say that the same thing happens at certain moments when  your hands are in  soil , the sun is on your face and there is no such thing as  clock watching . Planting the seeds of an idea in whatever form you wish is still as magical..

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How to get the most out of your drawing

We all have methods we like and don’t like in art. The only way to know what you want as your style is to try many of them out and get to know what your style is.

Drawing is the key to everything. Looking at things around us us to get to know the things we see every day that little bit better. Like unlocking the secrets they were holding all along. Be your own personal camera.

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Keep it simple to begin with. Be comfortable. Alawys be comfortable. Whatever that mean to you. take off your shoes, sit on a cushion, sit on a bench. lie on a mat, play music.. My favourite thing to do is to listen to stories while I draw. This takes your naughty and argumentative left brain away from mocking your efforts and leaves your right brain to relax into creating..

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Be warm. Especially if like me, your joints are bad. Use your own set of pain criteria to establish your methodolgy. For example, I love detail, but it is soooo painful to do, so I can only draw like that every so often, meaning my style has evolved with my body. No point crying over split milk. I’m never going to do the splits either so I may just enjoy what I can do…

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Look at what you  are drawing. Not at your paper. Sounds silly, but how can you draw something you are imagining? Do you already know where the light falls on that shell? Where the tiny dots get smaller creating a rhthym to the shape? So look. Paper won’t go anywhere, but just in case, you can wedge it with an elbow.

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Begin really softly…….Sketch with a soft pencil. 2B or 4B.  They are easier to work with and you can make shadows, rub out and create flow.

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Then as you start to work the shape, feeling the weight of your object, use different tones to show how much shadow is in one area compared to another. The darkest being under and in between . Press hard, light, loose and vary your pencil marks.

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Your line should start to feel like a natural progression of your eyes looking or your fingers touching the object. Vary the weight of the line you draw to convey a natural mark with depth of shadow within it as you draw.

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Keep building both these techniques adding colour/ a wash of watercolour or another tone to define and contrast, or use your sketch as a start for a piece of artwork.

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The point is that it meant to be relaxing. It doesn’t matter the tiniest bit if it doesn’t resemble the object.

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Do you know how many sketchbooks I’ve ripped up and rearranged? How many times I’ve started over? Keep your ideas, drawings, studies, and rework them into scraps for collage and tester pieces for other ideas.

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Never think that anyone else has the secret you don’t .

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Enjoy the journey and others on it. Where you get to next …. is anyone’s guess.

Here’s to your creative future.

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Love from your creative inner monster…

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And me xxx

 

 

 

 

 

The Blank Page

 

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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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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.