Life

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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{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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