drawing

#HeadsUp50Project - Collages, Conversation and Depression

#HeadsUp50Project - An honest look into depression and mental health that concerns all of us...

I introduced my #HeadsUp50Project back in January and now I find that I'm typing this just one day before my project begins!  It's super scary and vulnerable but I'm also really ready to start examining my past history of depression and what that has meant in my life.  I'm feeling curious about who I might be without the medication (Prozac) but also and really most importantly, to have some honest chats with you and society as a whole on the broad topic of depression and mental health.    

From tomorrow, I will be following my doctor's protocol for reducing my medication and well, ultimately stopping completely, all being well. 

In the videos below, I chat a little about what's going on at the moment, how I'm feeling, supplies I'll be using for my 50 collages and how I'm treating this whole 'thing' as an 'experiment' and I'm finding that this helps take some of the pressure off me and removes the whole 'failure' thing and suits my personality of doing things in my own organic way.  This approach also fuels my curiosity and that I feel is a really good thing.

Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.
— St Francis of Assisi
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Both a personal journey and an opportunity to look at depression and help to rid the stigma associated with mental health issues through shared conversation, authenticity, kindness and embracing who we are and celebrating that. I will be creating 50 (just turned 50) collages directly onto antidepressant medication boxes of various expressive faces, Yorkshire Tea teabags, personal writing and treasured finds.
I've taken my last Prozac tablet and I'm going to start with my doctor's protocol for reducing from tomorrow. I talk about materials I'm going to use for my collages, insights and how I'm feeling. www.janehinchliffe.com

I do hope the above videos give you some sense of what I'll be doing in the future and I'd really love for you to come along on this journey with me by using #headsup50project is you so desire and maybe starting up a conversation with me if you have any experience of depression whether personally or with someone close to you.  

Thanks for being here with me...

Jane x

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All Is Calm - Art Video and De-stressing At Christmas

Would you like to de-stress a little this Christmas?  

I can't wave a magic wand but I CAN share some tips/ideas that help me to manage my stress levels at this crazy time of year and of course, art always slows us down.  The girl is holding some 'fairy lights' - you can never have too many fairy lights, right?! ;)

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Art Video

I'm also showing you the full process (starting at about 8 mins) for creating the portrait above entitled All Is Calm.  I've sped the recording up, so you'll see the whole project in just over 20 minutes. 

I used willow charcoal, warm white soft pastel, charcoal pencils and compressed charcoal on toned paper.  Here is the link to the reference photo I used. 

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I hope you enjoy this video and please share with your friends. 

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The Darkness, The Light and Charcoal

It can seem that there is darkness everywhere...

So many events happening in our world (and personal lives) are just heartbreaking.  There's pain, tragedy, evil and brokenness all around.  Take for instance, war torn Syria, starving Yemen, North Korea, the Middle East and closer to home, here in the UK, so much unrest due to the Brexit negotiations.  

Do you ever feel like you could be swallowed up by the pain and devastation that seems evident everywhere you turn?

Yes, me too.  When I feel saddened with global news, family difficulties, friends who are struggling; I turn to drawing, creativity and there I meet The One.

Below is a charcoal portrait that I actually finished in the dark (almost) because I hadn't realised the time.  I can't tell you how much I needed to just lose myself and find myself again.

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If you’re feeling a heavy burden, I want you to know that yes, the darkness can threaten to engulf you but remember it’s when the night sky is at it’s darkest, that a simple candle flame can have the biggest impact... 
— Jane Hinchliffe

So, Sweet One, take a little time out from the hustle and bustle of Christmas organising and prepations and grab those knitting needles, that favourite baking pan along with the edible glitter you've had stashed at the back of your cupboard, that new art supply you've been aching to use, your art journal, or simply take that bath you've been meaning to, along with adding a few drops of lavender oil, some soothing music and then ENJOY this simple act, FULLY... 

Then give thanks because there's always something to be grateful for...  

Remember, you're not alone... 

and...

You never will be...  

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Autumn Leaves - Soft Pastel Tutorial Video + SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

Do you dread the dark nights, cold days and grey skies of late autumn and winter?  

Do you have a tendency toward Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?  If this is you, I've a beautiful book to share, some info. on SAD and an art video I've made...

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I've just purchased this inspiring book (see left) that's just recently been published called Making Winter - A Creative Guide for Surviving The Winter Months by British designer/maker, illustrator and naturalist Emma Mitchell for a dear friend - I instantly fell in love with the projects and nurturing words and wanted to share it with you.  

Also, this really got me thinking about the topic of SAD.  For sufferers, symptoms can start anywhere from September to November and last until Spring!  Occasionally, symptoms are reversed and can commence in Spring.  SAD is more prevalent in countries where there is dramatically reduced light and big changes to seasons and weather. 

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What follows are just some of the numerous symptoms people endure every year - for example, lack of concentration, sleep problems, panic attacks, lethargy, anxiety, overeating, relationship difficulties etc.  Approx. 8% of us can experience a 'transient depression, known as SAD' (Seasonal Affective Disorder) as per Emma's book in her introduction.

According to MIND 'SAD can also worsen symptoms of existing depression that you experience throughout the year'.

Treatment options include lightboxes (light therapy) as well as various other treatments like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), medication, specialist SAD services etc.  However, I believe creativity can also play a helping role and this is what my video below is all about.  

Emma (and I) has personally found (and research often backs up), that by including creativity into our daily lives whether it be using yarn, collecting treasures from nature on walks, colouring in, baking or painting etc. can bring numerous benefits to mood, stress and anxiety levels etc.

It’s as if my mood turns grey at the same time as the sky.
— MIND
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Supplies Needed:

Autumn leaves - real or found images

Sennelier soft pastel - bright, vibrant autumnal colours 

Caran Dache pastel pencils

Ingres pastel paper Daler Downey

Blenders or a tissue (not paper kitchen roll)

Wet wipe

15 mins and a willingness to try this out

 

Benefits For You...

- bring vibrant colour to life right in front of your eyes even though it might be grey outside

- get lost in the creative act whilst leaving room for self-expression

- leave other thoughts to one side

- enjoy a new medium and creative technique - this can help improve self confidence and fill you with a sense of achievement

- decrease feelings of anxiety

- potentially increasing serotonin (the feel-good hormones in the brain) 

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I really hope you find the above resources helpful and that you give soft pastel a little go.

If you have a favourite creative activity that you turn to in the winter months, please share - I'd really love to hear. 

Note: If you are having difficulty with any of the above symptoms, please consult your doctor. 

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5 Tips On How To You Let YOUR Art Come Through + Free Portrait Video

I'm sharing a little video with you today that is just 5 mins long.   

As I've been busy adding content to my upcoming ecourse Portraits In Time, I took some time out to play and explore and the video below is the end result.  It took about 20 minutes to complete but I've speeded the whole thing up to just 5 mins.  At the end of the video, I've also shared a complete supplies list should you be interested. 

If I create from the heart, nearly everything works: if from the head, almost nothing.
— Marc Chagall

I often get asked 'How do you let your art, your 'unique you' come through to the canvas/paper?'  

So five thoughts on this:

  • The boring bit is just to practice, play and be brave.  It's about putting in the time and commitment to learning how to draw/paint and with time, your 'unique' vision will come through. I always remember learning to drive and realising that we all have our own little ways of driving but overall, the core skill is the same.
  • Know that there will be 'off' days and 'off' pieces of art that frankly just need to be binned or painted over.  That's okay and totally normal.  Give yourself permission to make mistakes and try again (and again).
  • Listen to your inner voice and add a splash of bright pink there, a scribble over here and a bit of collage there.  Yes, the process involves risk but this is where the magic happens. 
  • Know that you're always evolving and so is your art and that's normal, so pay attention to what is real for you in this time and space.
  • Let go of perfection and say 'hello' to play and truth in the process.  

I do hope you enjoy this video and that you'll be inspired to have a go yourself.  If you'd like to create some art with me, please purchase my upcoming portrait class - the classroom opens on 11th September. 

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Three Art Books I'd Recommend

Everyone loves a great art book, so today, I'd like to share three that I'd wholeheartedly recommend.

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Bold Expressive Mixed Media Painting: Painting Techniques for Still Lifes, Florals and Landscapes In Mixed Media by Annie O'Brien Gonzales.

Lots of beautiful and colourful projects in this book which are set out in a clear and easy to read format.  Annie includes lots of additional info including colour theory, 'Painting Notes' and 'Learning From Our [artist] Ancestors'.  

Various techniques and projects are included featuring collage, abstract, florals and landscape using acrylic, oil and mixed media. 

A great book for helping you create work that is personal, expressive and colourful - you'll love it!

 

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Pastel Innovations: 60+ Techniques and Exercises for Painting With Pastel by Dawn Emerson.

Lots of interesting ideas in this book make it suitable for beginners or the seasoned artist alike.  So much variety here and the opportunity to build on each task.  

This book goes through some 'basics' and then shares 20 exercises that help build confidence.  There are also 40+ innovative techniques that are also shared.  Lastly, a useful section on self critique.  

All in all, a great book for exploration and using pastels in exciting new ways!

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The Confident Creative by Cat Bennett.

Cat beautifully shares her belief that we are all creative beings who can readily tap into a never-ending supply of inspiration that lives inside us.  

This book will help you relax whilst giving you 'permission' to create from a rich well of personal expression and experimentation - there are no mistakes.

Included are various examples and illustrations that complement the book nicely.  

Overall, a very easy read that you'll want to pick up time and time again.  A keeper!

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Please note, this post contains affiliate links should you purchase the book.  I only include products on my site that I genuinely endorse. 

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