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  1. As I sit here in my studio, winding things down ready for a break over Christmas, it seems the perfect time to reflect on the year gone by – a year that has turned out to be a really pivotal year for me.

    I started 2017 having decided at the end of 2016 to concentrate on my drawing and painting full-time and excited about the year ahead. I had my first professional exhibition planned for the Spring so had a busy work schedule planned. I thoroughly enjoyed several weeks of hectic week painting and produced some of my best work to date.

    cheeseandwine

    I loved my exhibition and felt like I was finally on the right path. I then set myself the goal of doing my most ambitious piece ever in time to submit to the Liverpool Art Fair – the most high profile show I would have ever been part of. And this is when 'Devon' was born – which was done on time and accepted into the show and which went on to gain coverage on local radio, television and plenty of social media. I was humbled by the number of family and friends that took the time and effort to see the exhibition and will always remain incredibly grateful for this support.

     liverpool

    After this, I had no specific shows in mind but wanted to concentrate on building my portfolio and growing my work – and this is where the unexpected shift happened. As a big foodie (and drinkie!) I had loved working around this subject for several months, but I began to feel that even though I was on the right path by concentrating on my Art full-time, there was still an unanswered niggle in my gut – something telling me I had taken all these risks and taken such a big leap to come this far but that there was still a piece of the jigsaw missing. I somehow still wasn't settling all of that niggle. 

    I realised that after years of working to other people's needs – designing and making pieces to celebrate special events in other people's lives – I had lost my own voice. I didn't really know what I was saying any more.

    So, behind the scenes I have been reading and studying more about business and all that serious stuff but also learning about myself and what really drives and inspires me – and with this my work began to shift a bit.

    Beginning with the purple docs, I wanted to create paintings that had more of a story to them – more of a message that could motivate and inspire people. And as this shift happened, so that niggle in my gut got louder, but in a good way, as if it was getting excited and shouting 'at last, you're finally listening!!'

    new work

    So, as we reach the end of 2017 I think I finally have my niggle settled. There is so much going on behind the scenes here in readiness for something coming in early 2018 that even I didn't know was ever going to exist a couple of months ago. I have learnt this year that I love painting and that is something I need to do. But I now know that my painting is just one way I want to reach out to people and have an impact on them.

    My journey over the last few years has been one about over-thinking and self-confidence battles as much as it has been about paintbrushes. And this is where 2018 is taking me – to a place where I am going to build a platform, a community, that I want to use to help inspire and motivate others to stop over-thinking and grab life; to take steps out of their comfort zone and to find that belief in themselves so that they too can quieten their own niggles. Through my own experiences, loads of useful content and information and my paintings which will continue to develop in this direction, I am excited to inspire an army of over-thinkers into positive action and steps (however tiny) out of their own comfort zones.

     

    If 2017 was the year I found my voice, 2018 is the year I am going to sing my song.

    (and I am hoping you'll come along and sing it with me if it's a song that seems familiar to you...)

  2. Theodore Roosevelt once argued that 'comparison is the thief of joy' and I have to say that for a large part, I agree with him! The internet and social media can be a wonderful thing, but they also bombard us with so much 'stuff', that it is easy to find ourselves under so much pressure to have the perfect career, at the same time as being the perfect parent, also at the same time as being the perfect partner and friend!

    We feel the need to simultaneously boast about having to work overtime to get all our important work done, whilst baking cupcakes that Mary Berry would be proud of at the same time as drinking G&T at the new bar in town with friends on a Friday night.

    And if we can't reach this crazy idea of perfection, if we can't keep all these plates constantly spinning and unbroken, and without feeling overwhelmed, or losing our tempers or eating our bodyweight in chocolate (ok, that might just be me!) then we feel like we've failed. 

    Well, my mission is to encourage us all to welcome more joy into our lives, so as well as believing we all need to make more mistakes I also strongly believe that we need to embrace imperfection, in others but mainly in ourselves. And this is why I love the concept of Kintsugi (or Kintsukuroi) which is the Japanese Art of mending broken ceramics with precious metals, usually gold.

    Kintsukuroi

    This Art celebrates the broken, the scars, the imperfections - and makes the resulting object even more beautiful and precious than the original. I love this and I love all it represents. None of us are perfect, but all of us are precious. None of us get through life without a few breaks, but these just make us even more beautiful than before.

    diamond with a flaw

    So, instead of trying to compare ourselves to others, we need to celebrate the utterly wonderful imperfection that makes us all so precious. The days you forget an important birthday, turn up for an appointment on the wrong day, have a freak out with the kids that's so off the scale it even gets the neighbours cleaning their bedrooms or simply feel so exhausted that you want to hide from everyone for a little while - well these are the days that add more gold. These are the times that make us even more precious. 

    There is life in imperfection. There is joy in imperfection. There is pure gold in imperfection. 

    (and I will show you mine if you show me yours ;))

    Helen x

  3. When I turned 40 last Summer, it did have a bit of an impact on me. Not a major one as I have never been particularly hung up on age, but it did seem a moment to reflect and make decisions - I suppose I went into a mid-life non-crisis - no major worries or panics, but just a quiet move into the next phase of my life, not just drifting along but being firmly at the steering wheel.

    So, it is no coincidence that this was the time that I went 'all in' to my fine art work, and indeed in starting to build a business with my work, full-time. This shift showed that I not only made the decision to commit to my ambitions, it also showed that I was finally going to attempt to commit to myself.

    I have struggled with low self esteem for most of my life, and I think it is only now as I get older that I am starting to cheer myself on and be proud of who I am - with all my quirks and imperfections to boot. Which is why I love this clip of Ed Sheeran, which is definitely worth a watch if you've never seen it before (or indeed another watch if you have! Just be warned - there is a couple of sweary bits!) He is speaking with specific reference to having a stutter, but it's overall message is important for us all I believe...

    embrace your weirdness

    So, a big part of my journey towards not only building a success of my art work but also of leading the more joyful life it advocates, is embracing my own weirdness. It is the quirks that we have that set us apart from everybody else and give us the individuality to put our stamp on the world - so we should celebrate them, not try to iron them out.

    Let us all go out there and be ourselves - not with a whisper, but with a roar!

    be a flamingo

     

    Go forth, and be yourself :)

    Helen x