Life

Truths To Remember For Next Easter

If I could have, I’d have put Easter on hold this year and that feels hard to admit…

Our eldest son will be 16 this summer (oh my goodness!) and will be sitting his GCSE examinations (end of high school exams) in one month!

I’ve been helping him with his revision over the Easter holidays and it’s been challenging - juggling this task on top of an already busy schedule, felt at times, more than I could handle. Can you relate?

Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen...
— Matthew 28:5 ESV
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Ordinarily, I’d have mailed out Easter cards to friends and relatives. An Easter celebratory meal would have been planned out way ahead of time and most importantly, I’d have been setting aside extended periods of time (rather than fleeting moments where I could) for preparing my heart throughout the Lenten period.

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Instead, I was feeling guilty and pressured in the midst of pressing demands - until I went to church on Good Friday…

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As soon as I entered our church, MY priorities fell away. As I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit, I was reminded of the sacrifice He made for us and that this reality is still true today for you and I. It put everything into perspective. In that moment, I realised that it really didn’t matter whether I had all the details planned out or not…

We went to church on Easter Sunday and had a fabulous time engaging with a wonderful variety of messy crafts. We ended with communion and a rousing final hymn. Back home, there was a cobbled together meal roasting in the oven, a table lovingly set, a dessert made with the help of my 13 year old, loved ones close and most importantly the reality of the risen Christ - finally, I knew that my heart was filled with the joy and the life-giving reality of Easter!

Over to you: Is there anything you would do differently in the time leading up to Easter next year? Please share any thoughts, bible verses or resources that have been helpful to you…

Happy Easter friends!

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Let's Celebrate Love - The Art Of Contentment

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day is a wonderful chance to show people how much we care about them…

This month for my class, The Art Of Contentment and my theme of love, I thought it would be fun to create a mixed media portrait for a loved one. Once I’d completed the piece, I gave it to my Mum.

There is only one happiness in life: to love and be loved.
— George Sand, Author
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My Mum is often bed bound these days with extreme pain due to osteoporosis and I know things are really tough for her and my Dad and have been for some time. I haven’t given anything to my Mum before on Valentine’s Day but thought this year, it just felt right.

All the time whilst creating the piece and recording the lesson, I was thinking of my Mum and of other women taking my class and what they might feel called to create in the ‘name of love’. I was imagining someone painting their precious child, a grandmother, a special friend or a loving sister. The more I continued to paint and create, the more the class and my project felt infused with love.

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That’s the brilliant thing about painting and creating, you switch off from the busy, busy of the everyday and instead connect within to what’s at your core and what I would call my soul (you might say divine presence, spirit etc).

Throughout the process, my heart was filled with various memories, snippets of conversation and events. Life isn’t always rosy but there’s something really special about gifting a piece of art that you’ve created to someone else.

Reverse side of the project I made for my Mum

Reverse side of the project I made for my Mum

My hubby and I exchanged cards today. He also gave me a single red rose and some tulips - I was impressed! Our little celebration will be a few days late this year - on Saturday we’re going to see a live band and enjoy some nice food in a restaurant a little way from here - I’m looking forward to it.

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Valentine’s Day can be a lonely day for some people but I do hope that wherever you are and however you’re feeling today, I hope you feel loved for the truly special person you are…


Note: My class, The Art Of Contentment is open and available to purchase. Each month more content is added. There’s art, special guests, audio recordings from me, notable dates for each given month, books to recommend, favourite paintings from the past and throughout, ways to finding contentment in the busy of the everyday… You can see the full description here.

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Invited Guests - The Art Of Contentment Online Class

The Art Of Contentment - Meet My Invited Guests

Today, I’m thrilled to share my guest list for my upcoming class entitled The Art Of Contentment that goes live on 1st January 2019. I have 12 amazing women who will be sharing on the topic of ‘contentment’ as creative women living in a busy world. Hear/read/see their insights for living a slower life and finding contentment from within.

You’ll be hearing from successful photographers, artists, coaches, designers and authors - how do they find contentment? I think you’re going to love this - art and soul combined!

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So, without further ado, I’m sharing my guests names and ‘job titles’ in month order, starting with January, so here we go (starting top left):

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Michelle GD - Writer and Photographer

Cristina Colli - Artist, Photographer, Writer and Teacher

Michelle Turbide - Artist and Teacher

Sam Martin - UK Artist

Kerstin Martin - Squarespace Educator

Sheila Atchley - Artist, Author and Preacher’s Wife

Sarah Raad - Coach + Business Owner of Simple Happy Life

Lisa York - SuperMum Podcast Host

Renee Mueller - Artist & Online Teacher

Michelle Fletcher of Camels & Couscous - Artist, Explorer, Curator - all things art and travel 

Gabrielle Heckenbucker - Artist

Christianne Squires - Book Coach

Here’s what to expect from the class:

Let’s enjoy 2019 together as we paint through the year with soulful portraits and enjoy contributions from guests (and myself) on their insights for living a slower life and finding contentment from within.

Art helps us to switch off from the pressures of a busy world and enables us to reconnect with ourselves, refocus our priorities and slow down.

How It Will Work:

* Each month, I'll share with you a new and extensive soulful portraiture lesson. We'll be dabbling with various supplies and styles and creating paintings using acrylic, ink, watercolour, pastels, charcoal, collage, gold leaf, perhaps some clay and of course, using basic supplies such as graphite etc.

Along side the art, look forward to being inspired by other creative women and how they find contentment in a busy world. We’ll be hearing from talented artists, photographers, designers, writers and coaches - all with busy lives but with useful tips and heartfelt reflections to help you slow down. (See my amazing guest line up below)!

Make 2019 the year that you reconnect with who you are and what's important. Give yourself this monthly gift and watch how your year blossoms as you immerse yourself in portrait painting, slowing down, finding rest and discovering an inner contentment.

Please note: If you’d like to register, please click the button below (ps. early bird offer will end on 5th December - sale price currently £95 for the entire year)

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What Does Contentment Mean For You?

Contentment

I’ve been contemplating the idea of ‘contentment’ a lot these days as I’m putting together my online class called The Art Of Contentment.

As Joshua Becker writes in his book The More Of Less, learning to feel content is a lifelong process and it doesn’t come naturally but it’s well worth trying.

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I am content; that is a blessing greater than riches; and he to whom that is given need ask no more.
— Henry Fielding
The Butterfly Effect - acrylic on paper

The Butterfly Effect - acrylic on paper

Definition of Contentment:

According to the Urban Dictionary ‘contentment’ means:

Resting in who you are, who you have, and what you have.

To have contentment is to be comfortable with the world.




Thinking of the definition of contentment above, isn’t that what we all want? To feel comfortable with the world? I say yes!

One of the ways I get to feel ‘comfortable with the world’ is to paint, as well as having a foundation built upon my faith and gratitude. From a creative point of view, I particularly like painting portraits because I find various stresses and strains of my life seem to ebb away and I’m left in this delicious place of creativity, self expression and well, contentment; unless the painting is going badly wrong. ;)

There are so many ways to create a portrait and depending upon my mood I may create a soulful portrait, an expressive portrait or a portrait with a lot of attention to detail. It varies… For when I’m feeling super overwhelmed, you can’t beat some dark and smoky charcoal to melt away your worries.

Classic Beauty - acrylic on paper

Classic Beauty - acrylic on paper

If I feel less muddled, I might want to get a little more detailed and pencil works well with this.

If I’m feeling upset (or happy), collage works. There’s something so freeing about the gathering of juicy supplies, some journal writing and a lot of items to adhere to my substrate that clear my head, heart and mind (see below).

Gently - mixed media collage

Gently - mixed media collage

Mark making (see the background of the painting below) also helps with feelings of stress and overwhelm. There’s something about making small identical marks and many of them, that feels very cathartic and relaxing; meditative in fact.

Beauty and Fortitude - acrylic on paper

Beauty and Fortitude - acrylic on paper

So, I hope I’ve given you some ways to bring a little contentment into your life. Painting really does help your soul to breathe in the midst of chaos. There’s something about painting that enables your conscious brain to ‘wait in the wings’ leaving your subconscious permission to flow and then in that timeframe a shift occurs. Try it and let me know in the comments below how you got on and your thoughts on finding contentment in a busy world.

Take care and here’s to ‘contentment’ and The Art Of Contentment.

Jane x


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PS. if you are interested in my new class, the early bird offer of £95 will only last until 5th December 2018 and then the price will increase to £150. Class available throughout 2019 and beyond. All videos will be downloadable.

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Online Art Courses - How They Can Help With Stress

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Being busy is the norm for so many of us these days. This in itself isn’t necessarily a problem but when it becomes a way of life and you find yourself unable to relax and de-stress after a full day, things can unravel very quickly - I know, I’ve been there many times. Sometimes, all it takes to break the cycle of perpetual busyness is a little time for ourselves to do something that feels nurturing, relaxing and well, fun!

I know, play seems a potentially shocking word for us adults but I bet the idea of play seems enticing.
— Jane
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Online art courses are a brilliant way to unwind, express yourself and play. I know, play seems a potentially shocking word for us adults but I bet the idea of play seems enticing.

Virtual courses, ecourses, online classes - they all mean the same thing and they can include pre-recorded video (which is what my art courses are primarily made up of). They can also include writing - like a blog post, photos, slideshows, audio and sometimes the facility to leave comments or even start a group discussion (live or not). Sometimes the videos are downloadable (mine often are) so that you can keep them right on your computer too.

My courses are ‘self-paced’ which means that once you purchased the course, you get to create when it’s convenient for you and in my experience, both for myself and my students, that seems to be ideal.

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The other great thing, is that wherever you are in the world, you can purchase and gain access to one of my courses with only a computer and access to a fast broadband connection and you’re good to go.

So how can online art courses help with stress?

Well my students tell me (and I know from personal experience) that there’s something about tapping into our creative side that helps us put to one side the stresses and strains of our busy lives. Creativity can help us connect with our inner lives and reduce stress. I’m a firm believer that we are all creative and that we don’t tend to the creative part of our lives nearly enough. After all, if we take care of our own needs, we are better able to be present with our loved ones - you can’t fill someone else’s well if you feel empty. I also believe that our ‘creative muscle’ gets stronger, the more we engage with it. This article from The American Public Health Association shares clearly how beneficial creativity can be in all our lives.

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Recently I listened to the brilliant SuperMum podcast hosted by Lisa York (Mum of four). Her guest was Dr Pragya Agarwal of The Art Tiffin and they discussed How Can We Support Our Mental Health With Creativity - a must listen!

Finally, I hope this has inspired you to think about pulling those paintbrushes and paints out of the cupboard and perhaps taking one of my online art courses so that you can start tapping into your creative self and park that stress!







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9 Ways To Reduce Stress By Creating Art

If you're feeling the symptoms of stress or anxiety, you're not alone...

We live in a fast paced world and when we don't take the time to restore ourselves, we can feel overwhelmed and unable to relax even when we need and want to.  This can all to easily lead to feelings of anxiety, restlessness and in some cases depression.  

Today, I want to encourage you and say that we can ALL create art that feeds our soul.  If you can pick up a brush and apply paint, you can make art!  Please don't think you have to be an 'artist' in order to create art that lights you up or nurtures YOU.  

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There are many therapeutic benefits of creating art and reducing stress is just one of them.  It has also been proven that making art reduces high blood pressure and helps us to examine our feelings in a sub-conscious and non-threatening way.  Creating art also slows breathing (how amazing is that!) and is beautifully restorative and life-giving.
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If you're feeling overwhelmed and in need of de-stressing, look no further than a set of paints, paper and some brushes.    

You don't need to be a professional artist to make art and to see the benefits that making art can have on your life. 

Art helps you to slow down and put to one side feelings of anxiety, internal chatter and worry and instead put your attention to really seeing what is in front of you - it's very meditative.

Here are just some ways to start getting creative and making some art just for you: 

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Paint Outdoors - bring a small bag of supplies including watercolour paints, watercolour reservoir brush, art journal, pencil, eraser and paper towel.  More tips here... Begin by drawing something small like a wild flower, some clouds, pebbles, your dog, a person or a tree.  Next 'colour in' using your paints or coloured pencils.  Above is an example of a watercolour sketch a did at an RHS garden nearby.  The sculptural bench was both a challenge but also meditative as I couldn't not give it my full attention and by doing this, it puts aside the things of life for a little bit (which sometimes feels a relief...)  

Clay - air drying paper clay is brilliant for creating a little pinch pot.  Clay is so tactile and lovely to work with, you can't help but slow down and feel the cathartic benefits when you devote a little time. 

Colouring In - if painting your own scene isn't for you, there are so many beautiful colouring books out there and they are a lovely way to do a little creating in front of the television (or not) and enjoy the meditative benefits. 

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Colour - as we all know colour is very emotive - just think of a red dress versus a pale blue one.  Ordinarily red, orange and yellow are warm colours and usually associated with happiness and joy but equally may represent anger.  Try 'feeling' your way with colour on paper.  For instance you may ask yourself, 'Do I resonate with dark blue, light pink or violet today?'.  Whichever colour you choose, paint it on your paper and sit with the colours, close your eyes and take a deep breath.  

Paint A Face - the process of painting a face never ceases to amaze me.  It's difficult to put into words but when drawing faces, it's like you're looking at a part of yourself and this allows you to self reflect and get to know yourself and your feelings better. 

 
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Collage - use torn bits of magazine paper (see photo to the left), old books or any other papers you have and enjoy creating a simple scene, flower, a bird or a torn paper landscape. I also have an online class on the topic of collage called Fragments Of Joy and a personal project I'm mid-way through called Heads Up 50 (see photo above).

Pattern - the creation of repetitive shapes can be very calming and satisfying.  The process becomes a meditative act and can help you to reduce feelings of anxiety by using repetition ie. circles, triangles. 

Create With Friends - you can do all of the above and more with friends.  Gather some materials, some tea and with good company you'll be creating all sorts of things before you know it!  Think quilting bees and the camaraderie from creating together.

Soulful Release Art - when I'm struggling with overwhelm or worry, I like to write out what's on my heart without any sensor and then I simply paint over it after having taken some time to pray and reflect.  The idea is to 'cover over' the 'rubbish' and instead replace it with goodness, truth and beauty.  I might listen to some relaxing music, drink some tea, sit out in the garden or just close my eyes before covering over what I've written.  The process is always sacred, restorative and heart-felt (see right).   I may write out a bible verse, quote or poem that also helps to bring about calm, comfort or wise words. 

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Lastly, I do hope some of these ideas bring you a little bit of comfort and a chance to rejuvenate.  As always, please say 'Hi' over on Instagram or email me if you have any questions...

Jane xo


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