Mini creative recharge project – noticing beauty

Checking in and focusing on the beauty around me is one of my low key, completely free self care activities. If I’m feeling tired or noticing that I’m very ‘in my head’ I bring my attention back out to the world around me. I often use flowers as a focal point – what flowers can I see in my neighbourhood that completely capture my eyes and lift up my heart? The more I set out to notice, the more I see. I then shift into feelings of awe, appreciation and wonder. I notice myself slowing down. I feel more abundant and expansive.

Here’s your invitation to notice something beautiful this week.

Flowers not your thing? Try looking for striking shadows, or amazing angles and lines in the urban environment, or colourful tiles, or maybe the changing colours in the sky. I find having just one thing I’m looking for keeps the project feeling more fun and do-able.

To create a permanent record of your noticings try making an album on your facebook page or in your phone and saving photos into that.

Or print your photos old school style, and make a huge artwork of them for your wall.

A simple creative recharge project that is free and you can do anywhere.

Have fun!

Let me know how you go!

If you were going to do this project right now, what thing would you look for daily to bring your attention to beauty and wonder? Let me know below: your idea might inspire someone else too! 

Why I love doing this thing…

imageI have been sharing paintings I’ve been doing on used, deconstructed teabags. I’ve been inspired for a long while by Ruby Silvious to try by teabag art and recently my art friend Fran of Studio 64 Marin kicked off my resolve to give this a try by sharing her gobsmackingly gorgeous mixed media faces on teabags. So… I’ve been painting these almost weekly for about three months – a long time for a passion project to last for this scanner.

Barbara Sher (yes that Barbara Sher!!) just asked me on a facebook forum what the paper adds to the process for me (great question, as ever, she’s not the Godmother of Life Coaching for nothing!) and I thought I’d share the answer here too: ‘why I love doing this thing’ 😀

(Why I love painting little portraits from my imagination on used tea bag paper…)

Well firstly, and importantly, I think it helps lower risk to use inexpensive, ‘nothing special’ paper (‘it’s just a little scrap of paper’ I think to myself) because it helps my inner critic stay quiet, lowers the stakes, lowers expectations…

And I love the idea of recycling…

And the crumpled and stained nature of the paper adds texture which I really enjoy working with and around…

And I love that it’s a set project so I can just a grab a bunch of papers and start painting without worrying ‘what will I work on?’.  I personally love the restrictions of size and materials so I can then play with infinite variations of paint within that – specifically my creative mind doesn’t waste valuable painting time pondering what size or shape of paper (or non paper materials) to paint on, and it doesn’t get overwhelmed or stuck by thinking ‘but what am I making? But what will I do with this?’. Because I’ve decided to do this as an ongoing project I just skip the deciding part and start making. It reminds me a bit of my wonderful ICAD experience.

I also love that I don’t set any limits or restrictions on colours or have any preconceived notion of what the faces will look like. They come out moody, snooty, happy, wry, silly, goofy, sad and everything in between. They come out how they want to and I just stop when each one feels done.

I actually love the small size because it suits my way of working well. I like to sit down for a burst of painting and create maybe 4 or 5 faces on one sitting. Slow and steady doesn’t win my race, I like short bursts then plenty of everything else for a week or two before I start again. This keeps it feeling fresh and fun and delicious to me and not stale or forced. I honour this way of working and know that it works for me.

So that’s it! Why I’m enjoying my teabag face project.

In fact earlier this week I decided to commit to making 100 of them and then exhibiting them somewhere this year (whether that’s a gallery or a loungeroom wall or something in between!).

I’m sure this will trigger some resistance for me (to be honest it already has), so I’ll be sure and share any tips I have for working through, around and alongside resistance once we set a goal we care about.

Making things: Festive season prompts for your art journal

As the year draws to a close this of us who like to write a journal/ do morning pages / junk journal/ travel journal/ art journal/ letter journal/make digital art might want to reflect on the year that has been and the year that is come. Or we might want to celebrate and document the traditions of the festive season. Or we might want a way to let off steam when old uncle Billy tells one more cracker joke at the lunch table. Either way, here are some ideas! A month’s worth to get you from here firmly into January. Pick a number that corresponds with today’s date, or you have my permission to cheat and just pick the one you like best.

  1.  Draw in your journal / sketchbook with a child and paint over, around and next to it later
  2. Tis the season for – Document 6 things that you love that you saw this week and associate with this time of year
  3. Tree of life – trees feature in lots of traditions as signs of life and symbols of life’s journey. What has this year looked like as a tree? What is the tree doing now? What is it looking forward to next year?
  4. Pick a colour theme that relates to this time of year for you and do a whole page in that (it might be white if you are in snowy lands, or turquoise if you spend southern hemisphere summer at the beach)
  5. One memorable gift from childhood – what it looked like, smelt like, tasted like, and how it made you feel
  6. Get those photos on the page – find some favourite photos from the year just gone and print them (on copy paper, on photo paper, on tracing paper) and include those in your journal pages. You can write over, under and around them.
  7. Wrapping paper – see if you can gather a small snip of every piece of paper you are given and turn it into a cohesive collage
  8. Favourite holiday movie?
  9. Favourite winter / summer tradition?
  10. Favourite Christmas carol? (even if Christmas isn’t your thing). Either write out the lyrics or use one image from the song to start a page
  11. Stamps -getting cards? What fun things can you do with those stamps?
  12. Honouring a loss – think of one thing / person/ stage/ part of your identity you ‘lost’ this year and honour it by noting all the reasons you loved it/ what it(/they) taught you/ how precious it remains as a memory/ how right the timing was to move on
  13. Your favourite holiday dish and a recipe and memory of that dish
  14. Follow your whim – if you have been researching an odd topic, or fascinated by a project or invention this week, add that into your journal
  15. Your senses – what does today sound like, smell like, taste like, feel like either literally (maybe right now where you are) or metaphorically (if the day as a whole had a smell, taste, sound etc)
  16. What a character – spot someone on your daily commute, dog walk or errands and try drawing them / collaging them and writing some words about their life from their imagined perspective. how might they be feeling about this time of year?
  17. 20 awesome things about this year – write the list as background and pick one to represent visually on the page
  18. One friend who stood by me this year and I’m grateful for
  19. One place I loved going to this year
  20. One new person I met this year who was interesting
  21. One journey I took that was longer than I thought
  22. One recurring theme that kept coming up for me this year
  23. One thing I bought/found/was given just for myself that brought me joy
  24. One dream I had that came true
  25. One wish each for next year for my mind, body, heart and soul
  26. An animal I enjoyed meeting this year
  27. An act of kindness that made me happy
  28. A plant I was astounded by
  29. A memorable sunrise or sunset
  30. A peaceful place
  31. A reminder list of all the self care activities that help me feel good and I will do from time to time in 2017

 

 

7 Days of Flower Love Challenge!

OK so I seem to be sprouting challenges EVERYWHERE at the moment as if Southern Hemisphere spring energy has caught me and my business garden is sprouting new shoots.

Today is an invitation to join my FREE ‘7Days of Flower Love’ challenge.

What is the challenge?

  • Find a flower each day that you feel like taking a photo of
  • Take the photo (phone cameras are fine)
  • Share on the internet (our group or elsewhere) that same day, using the hashtag

I like to do these at the turn of the season as a great way to bring focus outwards to nature, and also to gently foster a sense of beauty and appreciation.

The last one was gorgeous!

So if you’d like to join we start on the 1st September (wherever you are in the world, just start on your 1st September) and we take and share one flower photo A DAY for a week. That’s it. Simple!

Where do you share? 

  • Share all over the inter webs using #7DOFL as the hashtag
  • (Optional) share in the dedicated face book group I’ve made for this challenge called ‘7 Days of Flower Love’ (just click the link or type this in your FB search)
  • If you do share in the group feel free to ALSO share on your own page. Your friends won’t see what you post in the group, only group members will.

What are the benefits?

And you might be wondering what is the point of all this. Are you? And I would answer: Oh so, so much. Joy. Generosity. Simple creativity. Engaging with nature. Connecting with other people. Learning about flowers. Brightening up your Facebook Feed. Helping you get outside for a walk. Helping you see beauty all around. It’s just generally good. And a week isn’t very long so you can totally do this even if you are busy.

IT STARTS ON THE 1ST SEPTEMBER! 

I will send some inspiration each day to the facebook group for those who want prompts for their looking and seeing, and their photographing. You can read those or just go right ahead and start sharing.

How to fudge the rules

Please DO find a flower to photograph each day of the challenge.

But in terms of what flower means…. If you can’t find a LIVE one feel free to take a photo of a bund of dried flowers, a fake flower, a statue, a seed head from a flower, a flower type shape in nature – be imaginative. But the idea is really to find real living breathing flowers and take their pic.

This isn’t a competition or especially for people skilled at photography, anyone can play along.

Join us!

100 tiny winter sadnesses

This week as the weather turns cold here in the Southern Hemisphere I was thinking about those feelings of melancholy that can arise as the days shorten and the wind is icy, or maybe just when we are tired and weary. These observations for me are often not deep grief but small sadnesses that are often tinged with sweetness about the fragility and beauty of life.

Here are some that I thought of:

Walking home in shoes that pinch

Watching grey lipped people caught in t-shirts by the first winds of Autumn

Saying goodbye to a small child whose face can’t believe you would go right now in the middle of fun

Someone coming a long way and preparing for the journey only to not get what they came for

Wishing someone would do something different and knowing they won’t

The smell of a dinner coming from another house when you have nothing planned

Going to take the last sip of your coffee only to realise you already have

Trying to save a spider only to realise you’ve already wet them with soapy water beyond repair

Noticing your teeth have gone yellow

One lone white eyebrow hair sitting amongst the many

The faded poster for a lost cat

A chain store moving into your row of village shops

The basket of odd socks that you can’t quite bear to tackle

A lost button

Messages stuck on a phone with no password to listen to them

 

No, I couldn’t think of 100. I only got to 15. Are there any tiny sadnesses you would add?

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Today I honour fleeting sadness and melancholy as a part of life – feelings that are with us sometimes, and that we hopefully move through easily and gently if we do not fear them, and notice when they arise. Observing our feelings and thoughts, exploring them, expressing them in therapy or through art is a helpful way to make sense of our world.

Poignant observations about the changing seasons have been part of storytelling and poetry for a long long time. You may be in a different season today – but what do you notice that speaks to you of that season, and evokes some emotion? Try a list of your own… 100 tiny summer joys? 100 churning Autumn changes? 100 hopeful emergences in Spring?

If things feel sad, hopeless or flat most days and have felt that way for two weeks or more, you may be suffering from depression. Here is more information From Black Dog Institute on when to seek help and also where to seek help.

Daily creativity – Nancy talks about the 365 Body Project

“Through embodiment we gain a unique way to touch into our darkest primitive instincts and to experience them as they play into the daylight dance of consciousness; and in so doing to know ourselves as though for the first time—in a way that imparts vitality, flow, color, hue and creativity to our lives.” (Levine 2010, pg. 279)¹

Tell us about your daily art project for 2015 – what did it involve and why did you begin it?

Initially I started the project inspired by Gretchen Miller and the Six Degrees of Creativity workshops, as well as by other artists that are engaging in a daily art practice. I continued the project in 2015 because, having never committed to doing anything on a regular basis, I wanted to apply this commitment to the focus on my body and positive change. The 2014 project inspired me in such a positive way, that I hoped it might do the same to approach issues around the body.

The year-long art project was an art-based embodied research in which I wanted to explore the following questions:

  • Can a sustained daily project focused on ones expression of the body through creative practice have an impact on the experience of being in the body?
  • Can engaging with body image issues through the arts change (and potentially improve) a person’s sense of self-esteem and acceptance?
  • What questions/insights/concerns are identified through engagement with the body and creative practice?
  • And, finally, what impact can the sharing of the project with others have – can the process be used to develop interventions to work with people struggling with body image, self-esteem, and trauma?

What were the unexpected challenges and delights in the project?

I have grown to love the collage process, however, there were times with this project that I was feeling unmotivated to do the work. I tried to mix it up some, working with different mediums and eventually the bodily forms started to materialize again – taking me back to the form that I originally started with in my previous graduate work.

I found pleasure in ripping up these false goddesses and creating images that felt more healing.

Some of the other challenges were in posting the images to social media. I chose to be subtle with the messages at times and struggled to navigate a very personal project with a social message. Perhaps it caused me to sensor the message, or play it down to not reveal the true feelings behind the work. I also found it ironic that I chose mostly women’s magazines that typically portray the “ideal” body image. I found pleasure in ripping up these false goddesses and creating images that felt more healing. The use of materials is always a concern for me in my work.

Nancy_nothing to hide

 

What did you personally gain from the project?

The 365 project has contributed to developing a deeper sense of connection to my daily life experience. It has served as a coping skill in its ability to look for the positive in each day’s message and purpose. In this way, I intend to use this process as a way to engage with the embodied experience as a source of enquiry, discovery, and personal change. This speaks to a mindful awareness of being present and guided by ones own instincts through and of the body.

What is creativity to you, and why do you think it’s important to express ourselves creatively?

I believe creativity is a necessity of life. It is my way of breathing into the world. I look at everything through a creative lens.

I believe creativity is a necessity of life. It is my way of breathing into the world. I look at everything through a creative lens. Art has also been a way for me to survive, and to negotiate the challenges that present themselves along the way.

Being creative is a part of life and as humans we have done it since the beginning of time. We can make creative moments in every aspect of daily life from choosing what we will wear, to designing a meal for loved ones.

Nancy_strength

 

If you could change one aspect of our society through your work, what would it be? / What do you hope to influence or change with your art?

I have always been an activist. In my work, I have an ongoing love of the female form and its intersections with nature. I hope to show others how I see nature and the inherent beauty and learning it holds. My relationship with trees is a metaphor for healing and my greatest goal is to use my artwork to raise awareness of violence against women and girls and to empower them through the arts.

Now you’ve trained to become an art therapist – how do you think being an art therapist and your own personal art making relate?

I have always seen art as a way of healing, so becoming an art therapist is a very natural path for me. Personal art making is a crucial part of self-care. I feel like my identity is an artist first and foremost. Not only do I communicate through art, but I need artistic practice so stay focused, balanced, and alive.

I have recently started a role teaching an undergraduate unit in ‘Multicultural issues in art therapy’. Teaching art therapy is new and exciting for means actually when I was a little girl I said I wanted to be a teacher!

I like that it involves social action, working with women, older people, LGBT and the opportunity to bring contemporyray issues – political and social – into the teaching. I want to do a holocaust project on campus. I have a background in higher education so this feels quite natural for me to be working in a University setting.

See images: 365 Body Project on Flicker

¹”In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness” by Peter A. Levine, PhD (2010) North Atlantic Books, Berkley, CA.

Nancy_every body

 

About the interviewee 

I am nancy

I am daughter

I am black warm rain

I am fast motorcycle

I am fall evening

I am woodsy, exotic, oriental

I am accepting, learning, transforming

I am sensual raven

I am orchid

I am spaghettiOs®

I am daughter

I am nancy

Nancybiopic

 

 

 

 

Daily Creativity Practice – Beth Pastore talks photography

This is the first in a series introducing people with a daily creativity practice. These articles will explore how and why people began dedicating time to a creativity practice, what they get from the experience, and what they love about the medium/s they have chosen.

Today’s interview is with Beth Pastore from Sydney, Australia who speaks about her mindful photography practice, and the emotional and spiritual benefits she has found from this daily creativity. She shares some of her beautiful images with us as well. All images in this article are taken by Beth.

———

I began creating images a little over 3 years ago as a way to connect with the world around me.

image1 (1)

 

I had started trying to meditate but found that being still and focusing on my breathing actually made me feel anxious. So I started to use my walk from where I parked my car each day for work to practice breathing while observing the beauty around me with my camera. I took the words of John O’Donohue to heart and started to “Take time to see the quiet miracles that seek no attention” on my walk each day.

 

The more aware I became of my surroundings, the more beauty I would find. I started to see that I was deeply drawn to flowers, treescapes and the night sky. I would often walk different different paths and walk to music that I found inspiring which helped increase my sense of wonder in my everyday surroundings. I most often share these on my Facebook page and on Instagram and sometimes on my Blog.

image3

Keen to be better able to express what I could see and feel when creating an image, I began to take some online photography classes with Susannah Conway, Vivienne McMaster, Catherine Just and Henry Lohmeyer.

Creating images makes me feel free to explore and open to possibility, which translates to other areas of my life experience.

I photograph the often hidden beauty in my day or in accordance with different themes that I am exploring in my life to extend my visual and emotional vocabulary. Sometimes I take a take an online class (often with Catherine Just) as I find that I love the experience of creating alongside people and sharing in their explorations and how they are interpret the world.

I often take myself out on what Julia Cameron refers to as an Artist Date. I often visit places like a local park, the beach, or a flower garden to be in the presence of beauty as a starting point. It is then in this space that my senses are soothed, my mind becomes quiet and my creativity and imagination stirs. In this space I wander with my camera collaborating with the beauty around me to create images from my experience of being in that moment.

image4
Photography for me is a visual journal. I can look at images I have created at a much later time and re-experience that moment because I had been deeply engaged in the moment of creation. This also means I can ‘gather’ beauty for when it might be needed.

image5

Consciously looking for and finding beauty each day has helped me create a mosaic of the little things that make my life feel so enriched. Creativity is and continues to be such a gift to my soul.

More information about Beth:

Beth Pastore
Dreamer, Seeker of Beauty
Lover of Visual imagery, poetry and glitter pens.
Devourer of podcasts and audiobooks.
Blog https://www.bethpastore.com
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/beth.pastore.3
Instagram http://instagram.com/twocheekymonkeys2