Life

{Video} 'Hope' Collage and The 'Why' Behind Stopping Taking Antidepressants

New Collage - Hope

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If you enjoyed this post and you're on Pinterest, I'd be thrilled if you could click the image above and 'pin' it - Yay!

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops - at all...
— Emily Dickinson

 

I'm sharing my latest video and collage entitled 'Hope' from my Heads Up project.   As I was creating the collage and thinking about the words of (click link for poem reading) Emily Dickinson's beautiful poem, it got me thinking more deeply about the word 'Hope' both in my life and generally.  

It occurred to me that hope is not necessarily about believing everything is going to turn out okay but rather trusting that whatever the outcome, it will be the right one...  I'm doing my best to live this out but it's not always easy.

In other news, our boys have finished school today and have a week's holiday.  I'm looking forward to spending extra time with them next week.  

Have an amazing weekend and I'd love to know what 'Hope' means to you...

Jane xo

ps. if you're interested in taking part in a 'gentle' art challenge in June, click here.


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Tender Art Videos and Talk on the Struggles of Mental Health

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Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.
— Etty Hillesum (1914-1943 Dutch-born Jewish Diarist)

#HeadsUp50Project - Art Collages + Process

I've been busy, busy behind the scenes (think swan swimming serenely, whilst in actual fact, legs are flapping madly under the water - that's me ;)). 

Today, I wanted to share three videos that I've created this week as part of my ongoing #HeadsUp50Project. This project explores the topic of mental health and the idea of trying to find that place of quiet, inner contentment whilst living in a busy world that wants our attention at every turn. It's a challenge for everyone and especially if you are feeling tender.

Click each video to watch (or click the links below and watch directly in YouTube).

https://youtu.be/TuLmsBRVjjghttps://youtu.be/hsTZ8fkhj6Ahttps://youtu.be/97Y86qJDIFw

This work is both a personal project exploring my journey off antidepressants that I've taken for the past 10 years and at the same time, my way of bringing this conversation out in the open and hopefully nudging that little bit further towards removing the stigma that is still prevalent in society.

Each video explores a different aspect to the overall topic of mental health and as I chat, you'll see me piecing together and adhering the fragments of each collage to the canvas. The different elements of the collage, for me, kind of signify the fragments of our lives.

I came across this really interesting and inspiring post entitled Tchaikovsky's Surprising Wisdom For Artists With Depression. Tchaikovsky experienced deep depression many times but I love how in spite of his suffering, he was able to find beauty and good things in his life.  

I assert that life is beautiful in spite of everything!
— Tchaikovsky

Lastly, it's certainly not always easy but if we are to find some solace; a sense of contentment, the quote below is a great lesson for all of us.  'It is our tremendous resilience as people that carries us through difficult times. There are thorns, yes. But there are roses, too' - thank you Lori Chandler for those words.

Thanks for being here...

Jane xo

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Useful Tips For How To Have Fun AND Relax When Painting Outdoors

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Working outdoors or from life puts you in direct contact with the life force, not just the light and the landscape, but also the vitality of the world around you.
— George L. Carlson

I got a tip-off that some bluebells were flowering in the vicinity and so I decided to pursue them!  

I made my way to some woods nearby and it was all a bit of a last minute thing but I'm so glad I went.

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Painting en plein air (on-site outdoors) didn't become hugely popular with artists until the 19th century and thankfully today is still very popular even in the most challenging of weather conditions ie. the UK lol!  I'm a bit of a fair-weather outdoor painter, so this is my first venture out so far this year.

Sometimes it can feel a bit overwhelming to know what to take and then how to actually get started painting once you arrive, from a practical point of view.  Also, some people can feel ill at ease whilst painting outdoors ie. if people want to have a nosy - this too can take a bit of getting used to but don't let it put you off.

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Anyway, I want to encourage you from a practical and enjoyment point of view, so what follows are some handy tips and thoughts.  Remember, anyone can do this, you don't have to be an 'artist'. 

Here goes:

1. Make sure you'll be warm (or cool enough) - think layers ie. cardigan, jacket etc.  Wear comfy and practical shoes, after all, you never know where the muse might take you. 

2. Bring a bag that can sling over your shoulder, is not too heavy, is waterproof (preferably wipeable if mud or cow dung gets onto it (yep, it's happened) and has ample space.

3.  Of course, you need your journal/sketchbook and bulldog clips; they keep everything together.  Small travel watercolour kit (including a palette), travel brush with inbuilt reservoir, paper towel, pencil, eraser, mini water-spray, pencil sharpener.  Pop the smaller items into a make up bag or plastic sandwich bag (ziploc). 

4. Don't forget your camera, batteries and don't do what I did, which was to run out of battery - gggrrr!  Bring your 'regular' camera too.  Cameras are great, not just for the 'Instagram moment' but for inspiration and possible further experimentation and reference for when you're at home. 

5. A portable camping chair with it's own carry bag that can sling over your shoulder or, kneeling cushion (like you'd use for gardening) can be useful.  Of course, you might not need these items but for me something to sit on is vital because otherwise my back starts playing up and/or my knees - (yep, midlife thing).  

6. You need sustenance!  Bring a snack or packed lunch and a drink for afterwards. This outdoor creativity thing is thirsty and hungry work! You might also need to bring insect spray, sunglasses, tissues, a map and sun protection.  Oh, don't forget a paper bag for rubbish and/or bring it home with you -thinking leaving your environment as you found it. 

7. Perhaps bring your journal (or write in your sketchbook) if you want to jot down a little of your process (ie. colours used) or record any other thoughts that are going through your mind once you've finished.  

8. Tell someone where you'll be and a rough time you'll be back.  I didn't do this and ended up calling my husband later on because I'd stopped off to a friend's house for a chat and lunch without pre-planning!  He was 'getting concerned...', shall we say. ;) 

Home Truth

You might not be happy with your work the first few times but that's no problem - it's a process.  Make lots of thumbnail sketches and make a plan to visit again soon, so that you can 'firm up' your sketches and have another go.

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Location

Don't go somewhere too off the beaten path, that you might feel vulnerable or a bit scared and therefore not able to relax.  Find somewhere fairly comfortable, maybe near toilets and not so far away that you're shattered just getting there, before you even start painting.

Other People

Yes, it can feel a little embarrassing at first when someone goes by and wants to see what you're doing but more often than not, it's just their curiosity and a pleasant surprise for them to come across someone painting outdoors.  I find if I'm really concentrating and lost in the process, people will just walk by me and I haven't even noticed them approaching until they've walked by. 

Subject Matter

Don't try to capture a really complicated scene at first.  Try something small and beautiful.  There is so much to be said for close up and simple.  

It's also lovely to just capture a lot of smaller things that catch your eye, rather than one completed piece but go with what brings you joy. Fill up your page. 

Feel, Look Up, Listen  

Give yourself ample time to enjoy the process even if you're not happy with the end result.

If you're not sure what to capture with your brush or pencil, look up, down etc.  You might want to capture the colour of the sky, the sculptural aspects of a rock, a shell, an abstract pattern, lichen, or the rings on a tree that's fallen.  It really doesn't matter - just pick something that interests you.

When Finished

After I'd finished painting, I sat on a bench and listened to the birds, watched some ducklings swimming with their mum (14 of them!) and enjoyed the peace and tranquility of being outdoors, wash all over me.  I even closed my eyes and said a prayer of thanks for the richness and diversity of the flora and fauna around me. 

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I've said a lot here but really it's just about cobbling a few things together and making a pact with yourself to get out there and have a go.  

So, when are you ready to head out and try a little creating outdoors, you'll really love it - I guarantee!  Oh and let me know how you got on - I'd love to hear. 

Jane x

 

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Heart Letters & New 'Inspiration Library'

Getting 'real' and a new cosy creative space waiting for you to dip in and out of...

I’m changing things up a little [excited] and wanted to let you know about my new Heart Letters and free Inspiration Library that I’m busy adding the final touches to! 

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Newsletters are often not very exciting and leave me feeling a bit ‘yucky’ and I’m finding I’m really choosy about what I want in my inbox - I’m thinking you might be feeling this too?  Enter ----> Heart Letters! :)

My monthly/bi-monthly Heart Letters will include what’s really going on (good/hard) in my life; lessons learnt, what’s lighting me up and of course updates on my art, online classes and discount codes etc.  

That's not all!  When you sign up to receive the Heart Letters, you will also gain access to my new  Inspiration Library.  This is a cosy (free) and inspiring home for uplifting desktop wallpapers, relaxing art tutorials, useful and curated art resources, favourite books and free art prints to download along with many other goodies besides.  It will be a place you can come to and feel 'held' and supported as we conintue this journey together. 

Don’t worry, as more treasures are added to the Library, my Heart Letter readers will always hear from me.

If you'd like to receive my Heart Letters and enjoy a cosy little space that will help you slow down just a little, click the box below...

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Free Video! Paint Your Own Bullet Journal + Tips To Combine With A Sketchbook

Free Painting Tutorial - Bullet Journal Cover 2

Hi everyone, I hope you've all had a nice Easter and in a couple of days, the school holidays will have come to an end and 'normal' routines will pick up once again; at least we have two Bank Holidays in May to look forward to.  

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Anyway, over Easter I began a new bullet journal (yay!) and decided to again, film the painting of the cover.  I used a really pretty image of flowers in a vase (Sarah Raven) as my inspiration and then loosely followed it adding my own touches throughout. 

To watch, just click on the video below or follow this link if it's not viewing correctly below.  If you'd like to see the first bullet journal cover video (see image above) that I created, just click here

Supplies used:

Daler & Rowney A5 Artist's Sketchbook 150g

Clear gesso

Acrylic paint 

Paintbrush/Water

Sainsbury's 'fancy' paperclips

Ribbon

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I hope you enjoyed the video and hopefully it might inspire you to give this a go yourself with one of your sketchbooks or, even have a go at combining a bullet journal with a sketchbook like I've done.  

Please leave any comments on your thoughts or suggestions on bullet journaling, I always love to hear from you. 

Take care...

Jane xo


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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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