Posts Tagged ‘musings’


Last year was a mixed bag, on the whole it was long, hard and thoroughly exhausting with a large amount of emotional turmoil and upset that was only compounded for me with health issues and what can only be described as hormonal whiplash. I didn’t enter the new year with the excitement and hope that I normally have at this time of year but I am trying to cultivate it and make sense of where I am in life right now and where I am heading, all the while clinging to that adage about how you can change direction at any time by making different choices; you are in control of your own happiness and future.

In a world where it feels like we are each individually held accountable for so much by so many different people and organisations and also rely so heavily on them I both question the validity and wisdom in that statement while simultaneously cling to it as a light in those dark times where everything seems out of my control.

This post was a lot longer. I had to remove many of my random journalled musings before they darkened this post too much; they are there though, awaiting another day and another outlet, as always.

In the meantime, regardless of the less than thrilling start to 2020 on my part I do want to wish abundance, happiness and hope for the year to all of you out there. If 2019 was a hard one for you, if it ended on less than a happy note and if 2020 sees you starting off in that fog still, know you are not alone. I am right there with you, fumbling for the way forward and hoping that I will get back on track soon.

If you are reading this thinking it seems dark and melodramatic and 2020 already holds so much joy and promise then know that you are blessed. Let that lightness in your heart touch others through kindness and guide them out of their darkness.

Here’s hoping that, in time, we will all find our paths and our joy this year ❤



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Art Has No Rules

Arnie pot plant sketch

Arnie – watercolour sketch study

Art is about playing, there are no rules as to how to paint, what materials to use, what you should or shouldn’t do. It is pure expression and should not be hampered by your financial budget.

I was thinking about this a lot the other day in the studio. I allowed my practice to be stunted for a very long time after my experience at University. I quite wrongly told myself that if I didn’t have certain materials anything I created would be sub-par and not ‘real art’, but that’s not how creativity works. If anything, working outside the box with new materials and what you have to hand shows even more promise and creativity. It is something I have been trying to teach my daughter in the face of teachers who insist that it has to be done a certain way.

I implore you, if you want to create then create with whatever you have to hand; do it before you lose that flash of inspiration and motivation, see where it leads whether you like the end result of not. We have to make ‘ugly’ art sometimes to learn and create the art that we are proud of. We have to step off the path to discover our own way.

If there’s anything we can take from an $120,000 duct taped banana it is that art has no rules.

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It has been a tumultuous writing week. Some days I have kept well on track and others not so much leading to days of catch up. As I write this on the Sunday I am at a total of 14,508 words, a couple of thousand off of my target for the week. Whether I get more done today is a subject for debate right now. I’m feeling the need for a day off with the kids out with their father and the man beast at work. Today it is just me and the guinea piggles who aren’t the most encouraging of companions though damn, they are cute little balls of fluff.

That said, it has been developing nicely, in that first draft kind of way, where you know that the core of the characters and story are there and doing there thing despite the cringeworthy writing that is making it’s way down on the page, the random nonsensical sentences that mace sense at the time and weird switching from first to third person narrative, which is a thing that I seem to do depending on my mood and what the characters are trying to tell me at any given time combined with my need to get it written down as quickly as possible before it is lost to the ether.

It’s all fun though, I may not hold the same opinion when it comes to the time to rewrite and actually go through the draft to make sense of it in a few months but I am clinging to the enjoyment I get from the first phase in writing a novel right now, the part that I have affectionately dubbed the discovery phase.


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IMG_0515[1531] September has been a strange kind of month and I am glad to say that it’s over. One way or another my anxiety levels have been super high, the little things have made it worse and generally speaking my mental health has been at a low point. I took to writing notes like the one to the left for myself as reminders to breathe and try to take away anything that was unnecessary for me to be struggling on mentally.

Worst of all is how my metal health affects my creativity. I have kept creating through drawing exercises on the whole and the avenues that they have veered me down but it has been a struggle to keep up and push forward. I am, it would seem, still learning to work with the ebb and flow of my mental state.

I worry about anything and everything when I dip into this state. It’s very unlike me and seems to be a learned process that I have developed as I have gotten older. It is hard to get out of when that spiral begins and I understand that people don’t ‘get’ what it can be like. Mention anxiety, stress and depression to people and you’ll often, even now when awareness is far better, get an eye roll and the opinion that we all have to deal with it.

Just on the bus the other day I heard two women talking about someone who had mentioned they had anxiety issues to one of them and their response was flippant as they bitched about the person and didn’t really understand what it can get like. This came at  time when I was having a particularly bad day with my own and I remember shrinking back down into my seat and attempting to calm my thumping heart as not to draw attention to my own issues.

Now that I am feeling somewhat recovered from my latest ‘epidsode’, not entirely recovers, but somewhat, I feel more able to think rationally about it all and contemplate how it came about last month. I find myself, as an artist wanting to delve into my mental health issues visually but the whole idea also scares me.

It occured to me yesterday that I could take some baby steps with this on a daily basis using my companion journal/sketchbook and my tentative curiosity to try inktober this month.

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It means being yourself.

It means paving your own way.

It means creating your own rules.

It means following your heart.

It means accepting yourself as an individual.

It means doing you.

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Poppy Cropped How do you measure success?

For a lot of people the word success brings about certain feelings predominantly including social and financial. I’m beginning to understand that we, as humans, measure success in comparison to others. We see what we have/do/produce and compare that to the people around us to rate whether we are successful ‘enough’ when this is probably one of the worst things we can do, particularly for ourselves creatively.

‘A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms’ – Zen Shin

I love that quote because it is a hefty reminder that something doesn’t have to compete to be successful, fulfil it’s purpose, and be all it was meant to be. Success for a flower is growing into it’s potential and blooming. It grew, it lived, it became what it was meant to become.

I don’t really like the concept of success because it means that we have to accept failure as a concept as well; something that is notoriously given a bad rep and we are told we do not want. Success if ‘good’, failure is ‘bad’, strive for the former and avoid the latter when really perhaps it should be the other way around.

Sometimes ‘success’ brings bad things with it as far as our ego and the way we compare ourselves and relate to others is concerned; we’ve all heard the questions asked of celebrities rising to fame: ‘How do you stay grounded/down to earth?’ Failure on the other hand is how we learn and grow and find success deep down on an individual level; the kind of success that isn’t born out of comparison with others but that is born out of comparison with ourselves – where we are now compared with where we were and where we would like to be.

I think the big tripping point with success comes from when we allow others to dictate the measure of our success. It seems almost unavoidable these days but that doesn’t make it a good thing. Soceity dictates that we are successful if we make money, have friends, look a certain way, have X number of likes and follows on social media, own a house, are married (the list goes on) when none of that really matters.

Never pin your view of your own success on where other people think you should be in life. In the same way never consider your creative work only successful if it has sold for X amount of money or gotten X nmber of likes on social media. If you are happy with it and have learned from the experience of creating it, if it has given you a feeling of achievement and accomplishment, it is, in my opinion, a success. Even if it ‘fails’ as a piece in the end it can still be a success because in failing we learn and do better next time.

If we measuure our success on a personal scale we stop viewing things in the rigid, black and white sense of successes and failures and begin to feel content and blessed regardless. Remember, a beautiful flower just is. It blooms for itself because that is what it was born to do and in doing so spreads sustenance, joy, beauty and inspiration to those that come into contact with it.

Poppy Edited


‘Poppy’ – Pastel on grey pastel paper, available as various prints on my Redbubble Store.

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SONY DSCI am a big believer in journey over destination, it’s a theme and saying that I refer to over and over again and has become a main focal point in my artistic practice.

You may wonder why that is? Surely having a destination in mind, a goal to aim for, is a good driving force and way to push yourself forward. In my experience yes and no. I think goals and destinations are important for certain things but others respond far better to an organic approach. Art is one of those things.

I don’t think I have ever created something that has turned out exactly how I planned or envisioned it when I started out with the project. I see this as a good thing now but back when I was first learning and experimenting I saw this as a bad thing; a failure. It wasn’t just a thing that happened with my art either. I would write a story, for example, with a clear idea of exactly where it was going to go and how the characters were going to be only for my chracters to take on a mind of their own and want me to follow them in a different direction. Doing so always led to a better place for the story, something more natural that seemed to weave itself far more organically if I allowed it to. For a long time I would try to force it to follow the plan only to get no where.

Art was the same thing. I think one of the reasons I didn’t feel very comfortable at University studying Fine Art was because I didn’t feel like there was this opportunity to allow a piece to grow organically. I was supposed to have an idea to follow, a meaning to portray, a point to make and most of the time when I start a work I do not. For many years I got stuck behinds this wall of feeling like I needed to have something to say with my work in order to create it in the first place.

Nine times out of ten I do not start a work out with an idea to begin with. I feel like using a particular colour/medium/mark and I start by using it, building from there and discovering the character of the artwork I am making. The above mixed media piece in my sketchbook became something that made me think of the banded layers of an agate geode or slice thanks to the way the watercolour sat on the gesso I was experimenting with and reacted with other wet and dry layers in it’s process. It wasn’t planned to look that way but it is what began to appear on the page as I worked.

Our goals and destinations in life change as we encounter different paths, ideas and situations, just as when we create we sometimes have to compensate and allow for changes in direction that teach us something and allow us to grow. If we focus on the destination too hard we run the risk of blinding ourselves to the immense joy of getting there which removes all the satisfaction out of our arrival when we get to the end or, in worse cases, creates this feeling of failure if we don’t arrive at all.

I have also found that when we let go of the destination creatively we become less precious about the work which is also a good thing. The perfectionist in me always wants to keep pushing until I step over the line that ‘ruins’ the work. When you have no end point in mind it is much simpler to stand back and accept that it’s time to call it done and move on. I’ll expand further on this another day in a separate post as I know from experience that stopping myself from overworking anything creative can be hard to do.

Be kind to yourself, take the next step, enjoy the process and it will fuel your journey and cultivate a sense of pride and achievement when you do reach the natural end of whatever it is that you are working on.

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