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

 

 

 

 

 

Cheese

Today I had to ask my friend what my blog was about.  It made me laugh. I found that summing up what we talk about in our classes and on here is too huge to put into a few sentences. When this started I thought it would be about  art, a little comment on arty things…

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Hmmm ..

Over time we have chatted about so many things, and often anything  but the serious concept of ART.. most times, a bit like an art group, we go off on a huge, huge tangent and never get back to where we started. a bit like being with your pals in the pub or like the fluid chatter of children.

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This blog isn’t about how to be the best artist or how to find out important political stuff. People get here because they find us, share us, become friends and become linked with our shared cornucopia of cauldrons boiling over with potions to try and help make human existence a tad easier.

If you can share what you learn with others , that makes life better.

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SHHHH!!!!!!!!!. Don’t tell anyone. But actually, not everything you see / hear/ read/  on the internet is real.

Except on here obviously. xxx

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The best things in life are very simple

Stand still. See what is right in front of you. Be grateful for something every day, Appreciate your environment and your tribe of people, know you have your own back, even though some days don’t feel that easy…

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The trick is to see that new and shiny is not always more beautiful..

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Belief… dreams.. faith in tomorrow and a resolute refusal to be a piece of someone else’s jigsaw puzzle, whilst doing your best for those you care about… is the balance we aim to find.

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Decent thoughts are like decent people. At first they pop up fleetingly, like good fairies.. You can choose to ignore them, act against your better instincts and the flow, but like a good neighbour, if the process you are ploughing on with, is the one you might learn from.. it will tap you on the shoulder again and again. Which is very good, if like me when you write you are also multi-tasking seven thousand other jobs simultaneously.

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So, I suppose this is a blog about all the best bits, which in this format we are fortunate to share. And some of the wisdom given to me to get us through the toughest times in our lives.

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A good stuff hamper

A few words and pictures to sit down and have a cup of tea with. Some sparkly bits, some inspiration and an extra hand .

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A reason to star in your own movie, regardless of what anyone else thinks.

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Be inspired and be creative, adding to your own vision and story . Use a journal, a sketchbook, paper pinned together or an online scrapbook. Having something tangible and in front of you is far more accessible though, and  you can work in a power cut.

It has taken me to .. eeeek a few years away from.. yes  actually… my 50th birthday to look at what I do and appreciate it. To get to a point where all the ideas, sketches, skills, and ideas are starting to form a pathway to something…….There was never a choice for me to give up.

I did well in art at school, but had no confidence. (I sold a lot of artwork and my entire degree show, so my grown up self is saying Why?????? ) But, life was dropping huge clangers on the path to creative freedom along the way and I also didn’t have anyone telling me some of the really important things I have since come to learn.

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The experiences we have that shape us, are never wasted if they then become, someone else’s path to freedom.

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When I was little and I started to sing, I was laughed at or sung over. I hid in my room and sang and drew, and rearranged the furniture, hoping that I would be seen. I held open days to show the new layout of my bedroom to my uninterested brother and parents. I felt like an invisible person.

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I lost my voice for a long time . Or rather, I started something.. a beautiful painting, an idea, a conversation and lacked the strength of belief to see it til the end. The tapping on my shoulder of crushing depreciation or ridicule prevented strides being made into the unknown.

I stayed where it was safe.

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When I spoke, I told myself I wouldn’t get to the end of my sentences. So I panicked half way through and then couldn’t finish what I was saying.

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Later at Art college it was a whole new adventure, and I found my niche in felt-making and mixed media. I began to flourish with sales of new works, and commissions from my degree show and my first business Curious Creatures, was supported by the Princess Trust. But I found then, that working just on my own as an artist was never going to be enough.. being amongst people and sharing ideas was my best balance. And looking back, this window to grow my ideas and confidence was so brief given what was coming next..

A new, even more dangerous dragon was around the corner.. And this time.. fifteen years went by with virtually nothing leaving the house, including me.

This isn’t a sob story. It is my story. One human’s path. And it made me me. I fed my artwork baby. I kept my sketchbooks, my ideas and my heart somewhere safely tucked between the pages like a pressed leaf. And now my real (big) baby and I are safely in our Hansel and Gretel house.. those creative ideas as well as all their new friends can start to creep out and become real….oct-2018-049.jpg

One by one.

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We are who and what we surround ourselves with. Maybe it takes a lifetime to know what makes us tick, but knowing who and what we like, what is good for us to be surrounded by, what draws us out of our shells, our bedrooms, our heads is fundamental.

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Children already know . And we can find that magic again.  I am learning that gradually some people reach the same freedom when they leave relationships, work and sometimes outmoded belief systems behind. I wish I had a magic wand. I know a few people battling their own dragons, still singly quietly in their bedrooms.

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Believe that there is more. Keep going with your plans, and add to your good stuff hamper.

This blog is a scrapbook of all the incredible people we meet along the way. Some of the art we do, some of the stores we hear and what creations are born. And this is a blog about what you can achieve when you feel uninspired, tired, a bit rubbish and a bit lonely.

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When I started writing a few years ago,  I had assumed I was speaking to certain people in my life, and then anyone else that it reached was a bonus. The irony is that very few of those people read it. But, lots of other people do. And that is the lesson. That you can scream and shout and clutch your person’s arm to get them to notice you singing/ drawing acting out twelfth Night, but if it isn’t in their peripheral vision to see you.. walk away. And look at the queue of people you have somehow gathered around you who ARE listening to you. They are who matters. Thank you !

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A blog about the cheese

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without the stringy bits..

 

Love Liz xx

Rain

 

Sometimes even the sunniest day has a rain-cloud. Having weathered many a storm, I had considered myself fairly immune to those pesky clouds… Well, life doles out surprises when we least expect it and the smallest detail going wrong can be the breaking of us occasionally…

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I really don’t mump a lot. But we all need to sometimes, and when you feel the scales of pain or unfairness outweigh your sparkle,  it is alright to smudge your freshly swiped eyeliner. People make choices in their communication and perception of others, and twice I recently encountered a drama storm without wearing my rain coat . I have seen that destruction before and witnessed the fallout by hurt people creating more of the same.   Image result for no thank you

I just felt too tired to get through the imminent events about to unfurl..  It was  experience and instinct. Having the last word is so rarely a gift you need to keep, and  I walked away. The effect was relief and utter exhaustion.

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It wasn’t just one thing though, and that is key. Generally we can deal with one or two muppets, disappointments, pain, and grief. But not all at once. Endless circles chasing  operations, being told to get a treatment, only to arrive and be turned away on the advice of someone else, having to got to a point where even my lovely physio can’t justify the little he is able to do to help. I felt my hope slipping…..

Now… my glass is usually not only half full, but full of sparkly bubbles..

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My path is usually strewn with sparkly stuff

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But, here I was in a feeling I didn’t recognise. I had crumpled inside when I least expected it. Trying to be ok lasted two days. I knew I wasn’t ok and so did my lovely tribe.

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The wierd thing was, that somewhere right down deep inside myself, I knew I was fine. I scanned the desire to run to Spain (no pun intended) or eat my bodyweight in custard creams, and riding it out seemed the only option. My face just needed to implode.

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So without thinking too hard about it, I told my friends on my personal Facebook page. I knew that they knew, it was unusual. It wasn’t awful, but it was a painful, black inky blip and I knew I didn’t want it to spread.Image result for vintage hand writing

Within a few seconds someone had replied. In fact, someone I know less well than some of my other friends, but her kind words and immediacy were so gratefully received. And the words kept coming, trickling in like a hand squeeze or an extra pillow.. My face leaked, my limbs ached, my head thumped and my eyes went very small . My sofa was delighted and so was were my animals who used my body as extra heating.. And the pain started to ease a bit.. I have suggested to one of my friends, that ordering hugs by courier ( just a hug! )  Might be a new business for them…

Thank you brilliant friends and neighbours for the time taken to give me support that day. The words you gave me were like little precious diamonds. I was asked by someone else why tell Facebook? Aren’t you just telling the world your business? My answer is no. When we can bear to speak about the demons, they start to shrivel away, and already this brief little bleuughhhhh.. became a positive conversation in another forum helping other people. You choose how and what and with who to share and only when you feel it is safe.

 

Opening up, rather than either taking it out on anyone else or internalizing has to be a good thing. Crawling further inside a body playing tricks on me, analysing and finding emotional pathways which weren’t there in the first place, was not necessary. I quite like my head clear enough to be of some use in the world. I watched as the weather came and the heavens opened……

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Once in a while, a day comes along which like a huge gust of wind literally knocks you off your legs… or in my case crutches… The usual techniques which work on cementing the stiff upper lip in place aren’t working, and the floodgates have weirdly not only opened but disappeared entirely… it was literally like drowning in your entire wardrobe..Image result for drowning in clothes

The mechanical workings you normally see in the mirror safely ticking along, easing each micro movement need oiling and you can hear some vital parts grinding together where once there was an easy flow..

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…All you want to do is sleep.  Sadness is so heavy …

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So let the monsoon come..

 

Because, after you tell someone it’s outside of you again… you start answering your own questions… it is the start of unbreaking.

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I am lucky to have some kind of unwavering determination to stay on this planet to keep being inspired by those amazing and brave souls I come into contact with every day.

For that, I thank whichever Gods are with me…

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Today I thank my neighbour for the surprise flask of hot water in the middle of a very long power cut . I literally can’t see without caffeine ! She is worth keeping positive for. And the surprise bunch of flowers from another neighbour who read my post. As he apologised for their store-bought origins, I want to tell him that a bunch of daisies from a grass verge would still mean as much.

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We shouldn’t apologise for ourselves. Or our own personal weather patterns. Our big, emotional, colourful, strange, indescribably, wonderful selves… who will have some days sunnier than others.

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Create, scream, plant, share, paint, stitch, listen, draw and see which doors begin to open on your path..

 

 

Crap days will come.. They just prove how normal the other ones are.

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If someone you know is having a day like this… just tell them its ok. Don’t judge, question, fix,  micro manage, and offer endless avenues of helpful possibilities and comfort, unless they ask you to. You’ll know if they need something. Just be around.

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It’s not about you.

Not today anyway. They will be back. And that’s the thing I have learnt, that the folk who help each other are the ones that just let you play it out, without always having to bring their stuff to the table. Because the real you just needed a break to let rip for a bit… you can’t get through understanding your stuff whilst simultaneously explaining it to someone else.Image result for exploding brain

Your brain, like your energy can only cope with so much…

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The next day they/you/we will be back in step again…

Sometimes we wonder why our children are acting out and riding unimaginably bumpy emotional rollercoasters . All this drama and frustration and anger at the world not quite being as they think it should be..

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How can our  funny, loving and confident young person, having coped with a lot already and thriving regardless be so utterly woebegone and angry?

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Because they are human. And its a hard hard thing to be, Some find it much harder than others and actually the ones that shout loudest are usually the ones who need most comfort. However, as a very wise friend told me, sadly showing scars on his back from his own childhood, keeping it all in is worse. Inverting the pain and not letting someone show their feelings will only ever end up backfiring.

We can’t go back to childhood but we can be inspired by it and its lack of emotional rules.

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My first feeling as an adult when I felt a bit rubbish, was guilt. What if I let someone down? What if I couldn’t fulfill all my roles that day? What if  not doing what I usually did and losing my brave face melted the world and everyone in it? What if .. what if…???

Do you know what happened?.. Nothing. Today’s power cut was a bit like that. All the electricity and noise went off. There was very little I could do, no way of communicating, no internet and not many jobs I could do but basic ones and some drawing. Bliss.

Headspace.

Every now and again a meltdown is just a appetizer to a better version of peace. and will free you. Your real mates will get it.

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We all have an enormous bag of gifts to offer. I lived a long time with my best ones under wrap, like brightly coloured parcels. Art, music, being allowed to dance and perform and the honest joyous conversations you can only have when you live without fear.Image result for looking in mirror

 

What I know now is that, I may have lost dancing (for now) but the Rocky Mountains climbed over to claim back all the other wonders were not hopeless. It took my inner tiger to get here and she’s still purring. I wear my heart openly in all weathers because these stories aren’t just mine. They are in all of us. In our Art group we share stories and we trust. Seeing other’s fall and not smash ourselves wide open without a safety net. If you feel safe to talk to someone when you are tumbling down, they won’t judge you. Saying it outwardly stops your thoughts turning to negative self spiralling spaghetti.. and worse.

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I wish I could turn back the clock and put my arm around the young woman coping,  patching over the cracks, and slowly vanishing.

She deserved to feel like a whole person. She might have run a long time sooner!

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A friend of mine told me she thinks we are all a bit flakey. We are. We have our coping methods and the right people in your life will understand them. Be sad, but be joyous too. “God mum you are so embarrassing” mini tells me last night as I hugged the car mechanic who delivered my car home.

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Quite right..! She didn’t know why. So I told her.

My car is my lifeline. Without it I can’t go anywhere. Disabled spaces are like jigsaw pieces around cities and map out our adventures together.. My car was making a dreadful crunching noise. The man in the garage I nipped into for advice, told me he couldn’t fix it. He has cancer. But his son was up from England, helping with the business and could look at the car later. On a day when the lad was already snowed under, probably worried about his poor Dad, he ordered the parts, drove us home, did the work and delivered the car back, getting a lift from someone else so we didn’t have to go back out. That kind of kindness should be shouted from the rooftops.

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It is ok to feel . Sometimes when life gives you lemons, a bit of juice gets in your eye and stings like hell.. All the cold grey mornings, art that won’t work, flopped cakes, screaming children, sore bodies, hurtful comments or worrying thoughts…..Most of us, like another good friend said, hold the wound until a clot forms.Image result for vintage strong

Being strong is admirable…

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But it’s always better in company…

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For the days when you feel bleuuuuuugh………………………………..Image result for old phone

For the moments when you feel like you are leaking……….Image result for umbrella

For the rude people who should know better…   Image result for vintage hug

and for everything  else…. Image result for vintage chocolate

Stay Dry. Love and Hugs

Liz 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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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.

childhood-memories

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!!

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

Do Sweat the Small Things

There is a feeling of inadequacy in certain circles if you aren’t going at a rate of knots and cramming as many experiences and selfies in as you can , you aren’t doing life properly .
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On holiday in Spain recently,  madam and I watched as Montserrat was viewed , not in awe through the eyes and ears of its spectators , but through a couple of thousand phone lenses . In the cathedral chapel , a precious choir of Angelic boy’s voices , who only sing for a few moments per day in solemn and beautiful prayer was drowned out in clicks and buzzes as the stretched out arms of selfie sticks , rose above the crowds to ‘capture ‘the magic .
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Once sated, the crowd , en- masse, shuffled into each other to escape , whilst the singing was still continuing, and began queuing for their next picture … to kiss a statue .
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It’s true .

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There were very few who were actually really there .

 So it made me think about how we have to be more than tourists in our lives . There are moments everywhere to be appreciated and knock us out in wonder, to balance out the worst (in most… ) situations, if we look hard enough: and trust in something bigger than ourselves .
Some of you will know that my small person can struggle with certain emotions, as a young carer and just generally .. !!! I recently posted this on my fb page :Image may contain: 1 person, closeup

………So today I was at my at my wits end.. a strop from madam , whilst I was in the wheelchair , her refusing to move … lashing out at the wheels , quite quite horrible and embarrassing , at a sacred site in the rain …😫… oh dear … but ….. tonight 💕an elderly Irish man came up to us at dinner and said .. I just wanted to tell you both how amazing , and brave and inspiring you are. ( he got a kiss ) and a little faith and equilibrium was restored . When the chips are down , even if one person sees things, and your loved ones the way you can … well .. that’s enough for me ♥️♥️♥️ xxx

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I posted this, not to receive the ..(very, very appreciated !!) comments, but to remind myself that I had substance still. I was more than the sum of my legs in a wheelchair or on crutches, and wasn’t an ‘imperfect’ parent because I couldn’t do what other parents (look like) they can do. And to notice that moment and celebrate it. I may never see that man again, but his kindness will stay with us always.
I had got us to Spain for heaven’s sake and up a mountain in a cable car . Maybe the disco would have to wait until I get some new joints, but there is always a way to have fun.
We stayed to hear the choir, whilst being bumped and jostled . It was incredible .
Fruit is clearly made for making  faces.. and at home we watch as our starling feeds his  wife and babies at our kitchen window ( and someone else’s babies too I think ! )
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And we will carry on noticing when nice things are happening under our noses .
You are lucky . You might not know why yet . In an art class recently one of my wonderful group was making a word picture . I asked him to think of his favourite person . I wasn’t expecting it to be me. I was humbled that the couple of hours given to my group had netted me that honour. Every day someone might see you in that way.
Remembering that you might be the only person someone sees today and something you say to them might wake them from their doldrums or turn their world on its axis .. simply by you noticing them ..it’s a powerful reason to notice your own good qualities and the small but wonderful things only you can do .

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Many of our community classes love to see their artwork on line and celebrated on our Facebook pages . It is lovely to see finished projects and pull together a series of finished  art projects .
But sometimes people and classes need to be quiet.

Contemplative……………, of the moment and about the moment …………. Some days photos aren’t needed. Some days the process and the company is enough, and provides a safe and assured space to just be . Some artwork never goes on the wall .

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It’s enough to be fully in a moment and record that moment it in a way that will stay in your heart – in whatever makes the most sense to you.  I love a good selfie, and you know I am attached to my camera like a third arm! But for us, they capture more than a pose … Our pictures capture all the patch-worked fragments of the magic we couldn’t paint / photograph or write about at that time. And when we see those pictures they will come with a soundtrack and a sensory record of what daft conversations or creative experiments we were in the middle of.

 

Share everything you feel you want to, never let it feel repetitive, but most importantly, slow each precious moment down to a snails pace for future joyous repeat performances.
Be there with bells on.
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Liz xx