mixed media artwork

Identity; Loss Off + Collage 8/50

Looking Back...

Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.
— Unknown
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I still find it astounding to think, that one day I was ‘me’ and literally the second my first baby was born, I was never the same again (or, after my second and third babies).  My 28 year-old-self would’ve been very skeptical if someone had told me this - ‘I’m only having a baby, how much can I change?’  Well, a lot, yes?   

The same can be said for all big changes in life, right?  A bereavement, marital breakup, job change or, serious illness, even a house move.  Truly though, when I became a mother, that was by far the biggest shift for me and continues to shape me day by day.  I've accepted this gift now but the loss of 'myself' was quite profound for some years - it felt like I was mourning my 'previous life' for the longest time.

I chatted about this topic here and now again today because it’s showed up in my latest collage - called (you guessed it) Identity. It features the female form holding an infant baby.  The figure is of a darker colour than the newborn because she’s holding a brand new, pristine life in her arms ie. the baby that she’s carried in her body for nine months but she’s also lived a life herself prior to baby.  She’s weary for now; she’s been changed - she’s ‘older’ somehow.

Identity - 8/50 #HeadsUp50Project

Around her are flowers - they’re part of her everyday and their beauty refreshes her and reminds her that life is the same, it’s just her experience of it that has changed.  Everything is as it should be - the sun rises and sets and the stars are held above us, as always.  She’ll never be the same but she’s also softer, more malleable and kinder somehow.  She’s felt and seen things that have made her mark both physically and spiritually and she can't and wouldn't want to go back. 

In time, she forgives herself for not being perfect - (actually, it's an ongoing process, I find).  She does the best she can and slowly a new woman emerges.  She's wiser and not as quick to think she knows what life's all about...  

 The one and only, Brene Brown writes about 'Motherhood Shame' here in a brilliant pdf relating to her book, 'I Thought It Was Just Me'.  While I'm sharing, here are some other truly inspiring and noteworthy downloads that are free via Brene's site. 

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The Collages

As with all my previous headsup50project collages, this work is focusing on depression, my journey and the bigger 'picture' of mental health awareness and stigma.  You'll see in these collages that there is glorious imperfection, no neat edges with an accompanying deep love, appreciation and an inner knowing that I am many facets, not only a mother, a wife and daughter - I hope you feel this too when you look at this series of collages.  

Finally, this piece is available here (with 10% of the proceeds going to the charity, Mind) and others collages are on their way… Yay - 10 of 50 now completed, another 40 to go ;) 

Jane xo

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In A Rut - HeadsUp50 6/50 Collage - Expecting Change But It's Not Happening?

Change won't happen until there's a shift...

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.
— Henry Ford

Yep, the quote above is so true isn't it?  Agh!  I first heard this quote in the mid-90's when I was seeing my doctor for post natal depression with my first child. Those words really clicked with me and it was like I'd never really considered how my thoughts could inform the present and future - this was a time before self-help genre became a 'thing'. 

I think we all can experience this reality in life - doing what we've always done but somehow expecting a different end result.  I know, it seems so silly to expect a change but somehow we do and when it doesn't come we can end up feeling sad, angry, confused, frustrated and if we're already feeling depressed, it can just make you feel worse.  It's like you're banging your head against a brick wall and there seems no way to break the cycle.   

For me, I have various triggers and some are more bothersome than others. Overwhelm, timekeeping, getting distracted and not having enough quiet time, are all potential situations that can trigger unwanted reactions and behaviours for me.  

My latest collage is called 'In A Rut' and in the video below, I chat about what helps me and my 'behaviours' whilst piecing together and finishing off my latest collage 6/50 from my #HeadsUp50Project.

Please note, 10% of the proceeds will go to the  Mind  charity.

Please note, 10% of the proceeds will go to the Mind charity.

I hope the video and my collage are helpful for you and if this resonates with you, it might be time to get your journal out and have a little ponder and reflection on this over ten minutes or so with a lovely cup of tea. Take things slow and remember to be easy on yourself... 

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Shame + 5/50 Collage - Postnatal Depression + Mothering

Self-Compassion

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I've been introduced recently (thanks Lisa) to a new podcast which I'm really enjoying called Goop.  It's headed up by Gwyneth Paltrow (yes, the actress) and some of her staff.  Goop is Gwyneth's wellness/lifestyle website.  

It turned out there was mega synchronicity at work because my latest collage (5/50) is about Post Natal Depression and that is the very topic that was being talked about on Goop. 

The guest is psychiatrist Catherine Birndorf and they discuss the difference between postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety which was interesting.  Looking back, I think I experienced PND and anxiety after all three of my boys.  I actually chat about my experiences in my video below along with finishing my collage (click on the video below or, use this direct link.)

Of course hindsight is a wonderful thing; my 'boys' are now 23, 12 and 14.  I only wish I could sit down and have a chat with my younger self and give reassurance that I was doing a good job, that motherhood takes time to adjust to and to not be afraid to ask for what I needed both in practical and spiritual terms.  

I'm learning a lot whilst creating these collages; it feels like peeling the layers of an onion.  Each layer has its own story, it's own wisdom, some sadness, some joy - it's all been necessary to bring me to this place today.  

If you're interested in looking at my other collages, please go here

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It's completed - commissioned painting!

As you may know, for the past five weeks or so, I've been working on a very large (biggest canvas you can buy without it being specially made) commissioned painting for Grassfield Hall - a luxury bed and breakfast which opens its doors to customers for the first time today with owners Lisa and Alex Homer.painting

It's been quite the process and now it feels like I'm letting 'my baby' go out into the big wide world.  This weekend the room (one of many) will be fully functioning with guests arriving.

So, without further ado - here it is!

grassfield hall above bed

Here's another...

photo 2

Can you see the flowers in the middle of the painting reflect the shapes from the cushions (blinds etc)?  The painting also comprises of three photos of Grassfield Hall which have been incorporated using mixed media.  The flowers featuring on the bottom right hand corner, were the rhododendrons that were flowering when I first got underway in the beginning of June.  The pale blue background colour is again from the textile print as are the other colours.

Lisa is having the painting and other rooms, property etc. professionally photographed by Emma Hammond (who has photographed my artwork for licensing on products in the USA/Worldwide.  Also, Lisa has been interviewed by the local newspaper and so the article, together with photos will be published shortly.

 

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I so enjoyed this challenge and really appreciate everyone's kind comments and encouragement.  I'm looking forward to more artwork in the pipeline and wish much success for Grassfield Hall's owners and family.

Jane x

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Do you believe in miracles?

Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.― C.S. Lewis

the miracle of a rose

When I was young, I believed in miracles...

I thought that life treated you as you treated it - you know, if I was 'good', then good things would happen for me.  This was true in-part until my oldest son was diagnosed with leukemia, my marriage broke-down and I was eventually diagnosed with depression after having suffered for years amidst guilt, sadness and despair.

As if things couldn't get worse, my son Brandon (who was nearly 3 at the time) returned to the USA to complete his treatment for leukemia and due to a legal technicality, I wasn't allowed to re-enter the States.  Looking back, I don't know how I managed to let him go but I think the only thing that kept me going was that his life-expectancy potentially went from 60% to 70% with him completing his treatment over there.  That was 17 years ago and Brandon did recover after his two-years of treatment, thank God.

For years, I stopped believing in miracles and I went around with a gaping open-wound that was continually raw and festering.  It seemed, there was never enough healing to make any difference.  Life. hurt. big. time.  I thought this would be the way my life would be going forward and came to the awful conclusion that life was certainly not sweet.  It was only bitter-sweet and that there were no miracles, at least not for me.

I hurt deeply.

If there was such a thing as a broken heart, then mine certainly broke.

I couldn't imagine a way forward that didn't mean pain.

A way to live my life again without heartache seemed impossible.

However, through grace, I eventually did believe in miracles once again.  Whilst I couldn't have my little boy back, I received many other miracles.

One of those miracles is doing work that I love from the bottom of my heart.  It's not to say it's come easily but as I find myself in Grassfield Hall working on a commissioned painting, I know hand on heart that miracles do come true.

miracles do come true

It's not just the 'A-list' miracles that touch my heart though, it's also the 'small letters' (referring to the quote above) that are overwhelming beautiful.  Here is a great example from ZenHabits.  We live in an abundant world and as much as Society wishes to tell us different, it's not true - miracles do exist and they're happening right now!

So, take a deep breath my Friend and close your eyes.  Call forth God (or use a different word if you prefer) and allow yourself to be 'shown' the miracles that are showing up in your life in this moment, right here, right now...

What do you feel?

What do you see?

What do you hear?

If you can answer any of the above questions, capture the answer in your journal.  Remember to give thanks, even if nothing revealed itself - something may occur to you later...

Take care.

Jx

 

 

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Grassfield Hall - Commissioned Painting

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Commissioned Painting Update

If you've had a little visit to my Facebook Page recently, you may have seen the above work-in-progress photo (top left corner) of the first commissioned painting for Grassfield Hall - a luxury bed and breakfast located in Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire, UK.

I've been working on this painting for the last couple of weeks at Grassfield Hall itself and it's been lovely having a different routine to my day for the last couple of weeks and not to mention the beautiful surroundings and history of this house (fascinating).

The Hall is going to open on the weekend of July 5 when stage 1 of the Le Tour de France commences - so hopefully the painting will be finished in time.

So, watch this space for the finished painting and a little video tour of Grassfield's.

Take care.

Jane x

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