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  1. The inspiration for this painting was quite straightforward, but as the idea for the piece progressed the meaning behind it became much deeper for me.

    My studio is jam packed with paintbrushes and paints but you wouldn't believe how much trouble I have when I need a pencil (my 2 daughters are very efficient at 'borrowing' things off my desk!). So, I recently stocked up on a big bulk pack of pencils in the hope they would last me a while, and as I was putting them away, the repetition of the pencils, all standing to attention pleased me, and immediately I thought there was a painting in there somewhere.

    As I started doodling, I felt there was more to be said with this piece as I was reminded of the saying, 'No-one is perfect, that's why pencils have erasers' and this became the inspiration for the final piece that highlights the eraser and which I have titled 'Make More Mistakes'.

    einstein quote

    Part of the journey I have taken over the last few years, as I took the leap away from teaching and employment is understanding that making mistakes is an important part of the process. We can never learn new things or grow as people if we are not willing to do things wrong, and even welcome mistakes as a sign we are developing. This was (and still is) a struggle for me. Even as a child I remember putting incredible pressure on myself not to be seen doing something wrong, and as I grew into a 'high achiever' at school, it didn't seem long before I felt pressure from all round to not put a foot wrong (never my family though, which I am eternally grateful for!).

    I remember when I picked my A Level results up (quite a long time ago!) - I got 3 As (in my option subjects) and a B in General Studies and I was met with a wave of comments like 'ah what a shame' because I'd 'only got a B' in the subject I wasn't even bothered about. What a shame!! I had just achieved amazing A Level results yet somehow felt I should be disappointed.

    So, to be here now, trying to build a new business (and life!) and to be quite frank, making a whole load of mistakes doing it, right in view of a whole lot of people does not come naturally to me! But I am doing it, and have learnt so much and grown so much from doing it. The temptation we all feel to avoid mistakes is to stick with what we know, stay in the safe, familiar zone. And we can do that, and we possibly will make few, if any mistakes. But, we are only here once - in this life full of things to try and new opportunities to embrace - so a few mistakes on the road to somewhere new seems more than acceptable to me.

    I think it is driven in to us from an early age to always try our hardest to get things right, and as we get older we seem to be surrounded by social media showing us the perfect this and the perfect that - because obviously no-one posts about their failures. But one thing I have learnt is that most success stories are peppered with 'failure' - times when things have gone wrong, sometimes massively. But, a mistake or a 'failure' isn't the end of the journey - it is an important part of the journey that gets us to new places and new opportunities.

    So this piece is my call out to us all to be ok about making mistakes, to encourage our children to make mistakes and to even get to the point when we can celebrate them. As both my children will hopefully tell you if they make a mistake or 'fail' at something - 'it's ok, because it shows we're trying!'

    PENCILS1

    PENCILS2

    PENCILS3

    pencils_1200px_wm

    This painting was a real challenge for me in terms of technique and battling to get the realism I was looking for, but I finally got there (although I think the painting definitely won most of the battles!).

    Make More Mistakes
    Acrylic on Canvas, 50cm x 60cm

  2. This painting was the first one I had in my mind when I decided to take my love of celebrating ordinary joy as the defining direction in my work. It seemed such a simple statement to make, but because of this, it also seemed to be a good example of what my future work will be about. Finding joy in the little things.

    We can all make the choice to find joy in the ordinary and the everyday, and something as simple as wearing purple shoes, a yellow coat or a nice bright scarf can be a really easy but very effective way of doing it. I love wearing colour. Even as a rather introverted character (who certainly hasn't got a figure that deserves attention - due to my love of not only joy but also wine and cake!) most of my wardrobe features bright colours and funky prints and I rarely leave the house without a splash of colour. 

    Colour really does brighten up the world around us and can have a massive impact on mood, so I encourage you all to choose that orange dress, pick the lime green tie or even just wear some bright socks to the office. I mean, it's really hard to be grumpy all day when you're wearing shiny purple boots...

    boots1

    boots2

    boots with boots

  3. Every now and then you come across a really inspiring person when you're really not expecting it, and this happened on Saturday night when I thought I was settling down to watch a bit of telly to help 'turn my brain off,' if you know what I mean.

    The kids were finally in bed, Mr Mac was at work, so I made myself a nice brew, got my onesie on (a giraffe, should you wish to visualise the scene accurately!) and I settled down to watch the Jonathan Ross Show. Now, I enjoy a bit of Wossy and was expecting the usual mix of amusing anecdotes and witty banter.

     wossy shot

    But then a guest, different to the usual TV personality or pop star promoting their new album came on – and that was Henry Fraser (next to Wossy in the pic above). I had never heard of him before (although I suspect he will be very well known soon!) but I found his story and his whole approach to life so inspiring I felt compared to share because I think he has a lesson for us all.

    I urge you all to visit his website www.henryfraserart.com to read his story and to see his work, but to put it briefly, Henry was paralysed from the neck down on holiday with his friends several years ago when he was just 17, and a few years ago rekindled his love of Art and began painting using his mouth. He is now a busy Artist and a motivational speaker and the thing that stood out to me was his incredibly positive approach to life, and his gratitude for all the joy in it.

     fraser_paintings

    My work is driven by ordinary joy and I hope to encourage people to seek the joy we are surrounded by every day and be grateful for the 'normal' everyday things, and I was in awe of his attitude that echoed this as he spoke, even after everything he has been through. So, one of the very next things I am going to do is buy and read his book (and I think you should all do the same!). The title says it all – 'The Little Big Things: A young man's belief that every day can be a good day'.

    He really is an inspiring young man, and an amazing Artist and I think these words, taken from his own website, just about sums up how remarkable he is...

    henry fraser quote

    So, visit his website (and here too!), buy his book, follow him on facebook and twitter but most of all, I think we can all learn from him how to be grateful and not take the 'little' things for granted!

    Thank you Henry Fraser!