Saturday, 29 August 2015

Life Book 2015: Week 35 - Creating new possibilities with Andrea Gomoll

So excited to have another lesson with the lovely Andrea Gomoll.

This lesson was more about techniques to get you out of a creative rut or overcome a creative block.  By choosing a word, doodling something to go with that word and then randomly applying water colour to the paper, it was simply a case of adding water and then allowing it to blend, adding some texture paste, a few paint splatters, a doodled border and it was almost done.  All that was left was to cut out shapes from a paper towel, colour them with the same watercolours and adhere them to the page - how easy and inspiring is that.  

Life Book 2015: Week 34 - Painting the muse with Alena Hennessy

I really enjoyed this lesson by Alena Hennessy.  

We got to choose our own Goddess and create our own interpretation of her.  

Alena had given us some options and one immediately jumped out at me - that was Cerridwen.  I love the name and I love anything Celtic, and she is a Celtic Goddess who symbolises the moon, magic, nature, music, art, and astrology ... and so she called to me.  I did read all the others but nothing else spoke to me like she did. 

So, Cerridwen it was, with a twist in that I have painted an amalgamation between Cerridwen and the High Priestess, which felt just right.  Thanks Alena for a fabulous lesson.

Life Book 2015: Week 33 - Inspirational power words with Joanne Sharpe

In this lesson with Joanne Sharpe we explored the concept of the feminine healer archetype by using hand lettering to understand and express various characteristics of the archetype both from the perspective of the healer and/or needing to be healed.  

Using our own handwriting we made art words by playing with and embellishing our own handwriting.  

Such fun, but also an awesome meditative and reflective process.

Life Book 2015: Week 32 - You are wise with Tamara Laporte

Another lovely whimsical girl with Tamara Laporte looking at beliefs that we hold that limit our ability to grow and develop and prevent us from changing and ultimately thriving.  

After a reflective exercise we wrote our limiting beliefs at the bottom of the page and covered them with texture and paint so that they were covered up.  

The girl flies above her limiting beliefs, transforming them into liberating beliefs, or in my case, her liberating beliefs are contained in the balloons that are taking her up and away from those beliefs that are stopping her from becoming all that she can be.

Life Book 2015: Week 31 - Traced hand hamsa protection with Rachael Rice

"The hand has been used as a symbol of protection since ancient times.  It is seen all over the world in the form of a hamsa, Hand of Fatimah, Hand of Venus, and Hand of Mary.  Traditionally it protects from “the evil eye” or bad energies." - Rachael Rice.

I didn't want to use the traditional 'hand' for this exercise but instead traced around my own hand adding symbols and doodles important to me.  I found this process quite therapeutic - it took time but it took me out of myself and into a quiet contemplative space for a while.

Life Book 2015: Week 30 - Letting go and letting in with Flora Bowley

Not so inspired with this lesson, in a bit of a dark space when I created these ... and it shows.  This is more intuitive painting from a lesson with Flora Bowley.  We made lots of marks very quickly on several pieces of paper before choosing a couple to develop further by painting in and around the marks made.  It was an interesting technique but not sure it's one I feel that comfortable with.  Still, for what it's worth here are my two creations -

Life Book 2015: Week 29 - Tiny story-telling with Danielle Donaldson

Oh my gosh, Danielle Donaldson's little girls are so cute.  Danielle provided us with some random words which she invited us to cut apart and make up a story to go with our little girl.  

If you read my blog earlier about the illness I have been battling for most of this year you will have read how I spent a lot of time pacing like a caged animal.  This story tells of how I worked my way through my illness knowing deep down that I would come out the other side having learned something from the experience.  It would take time, I would need to be gentle with myself, and there would be things I would need to let go of, but I would be okay. 

Here's the story - it starts: there's a very tiny story ... a really tiny one ... please read it "Here's the thing about her, walking, talking, always moving in circles ... she feels lost ... it seemed to her that, looking within her, working through the hardness, holding the unloved, she gets the idea, stands tall, knowing in her heart, just like that, her eyes shimmered: picture beautiful thoughts of all things that can be.  She always thought she would sparkle."

There is always HOPE.  You just have to believe in yourself.

Life Book 2015: Week 28 - Layers of you with Tamara Laporte

Another lesson I put off because it was just too painful and I didn't think I would ever be able to do this one, however, after a session with the psychologist I just knew it was time.  

The lesson, from the lovely Tamara Laporte, used a face/body from a fashion magazine (something that represented us) and then a background of collage and paint applied.  I didn't have a fashion magazine but knew that I wanted to use a photo of our grand-daughter, Ellie, to be the base for my painting.  It was important for me to do something playful and childlike, yet wistful.  Something that would reflect my inner child, and the magic associated with letting that child have the freedom to express herself.

It didn't matter that the lesson was completed 'out of order', it was important that it was done 'at the right time' for me.  It took me a while to complete it but a lot of healing took place during that time.  It was really good therapy and I love the result.

Life Book 2015: Week 27 - Artist interview with Jessica Swift

There was no actual lesson for this week but I was inspired during the interview with Jessica Swift  to create this page.  About the same time I saw the bird from the Tim Holtz collection and thought it was really cute so I drew it onto my page as the focal point.  It went well with the quote I had chosen.

Life Book 2015: Week 26 - Our inner Warrior Princess with Andrea Gomoll

I am so in love with the work of the lovely Andrea Gomoll (and she has the most gorgeous accent).  This lesson was designed to help us get in touch with our inner Warrior Princess, or as Andrea puts it "the little Lady inside of us that is strong, courageous, who is fighting for her goals and for what she believes in, who loves to discover new things, who is mindful and therefore at peace with herself" - something I was SO NOT!!!  I certainly did not feel strong, nor courageous, especially given the battle I was facing at that time but this came just as I started turning a corner, and, as usual, the timing was perfect.

First up was to sketch the face, hair and tiara before laying down a basic watercolour wash, then building up layers of colour, outlining with a fine black marker and adding texture paste and acrylic paint through stencils (stencilled quote from Donna Downey), followed by a little hint of Pan Pastels to intensify the colour.  The shield was created separately and then added to the finished page with foam dots to give a 3D effect. 

Absolutely loved this lesson and loved the finished page.

Life Book 2015: Week 25 - Stencilling what you love with Lynzee Lynx

Lynzee Lynx showed us how to create our own stencils.  This was a fun project.  

Lists of what we love, what brings us comfort and healing were written on a blank page.  Doodles and messages were then written around the writing.  The stencil was created and then paint splashes added.  Water was sprayed on the page and the paper tipped to move the water and paint around the page.  

Once dry I used a foam brush to apply paint over the stencil and then all the doodles and details were added using drawing and paint pens.  

So cool to make my own stencil.  I also used one of the stamps I made from an earlier lesson so lots of 'me' in this page.

Life Book 2015: Week 24 - Happy painting with Juliette Crane

This is a real 'mixed media' painting - it uses multiple papers and washi tape collaged to form the base of the painting followed by both oil and water paints.  There was no sketching involved in this painting - it was just painted direct onto the background.  Self portrait ????  Thanks Juliette Crane for an interesting lesson.

Life Book 2015: Week 23 - Magic, Vulnerability & Courage with Tamara Laporte

Again, another challenging lesson from the lovely Tamara Laporte.  This time - looking at the masculine archetype.  Right through this year we have been painting female faces and I did not want my male to look effeminate - he had to look masculine.  The concept was about vulnerability and how this requires having strength and courage - it certainly took a lot of courage to put pencil to paper.

In typical Tam style the background was created with collage, colour, stamping and gesso.  Stencils and doodles added, then time to paint the face and body. Finally the text was hand written on and I was done.  It took me a while but pretty happy with the result really - if I do say so myself.  I think he looks masculine - do you?

Thanks for looking.

Life Book 2015: Week 22 - Reflections of you with Jeanne Oliver

When this lesson from Jeanne Oliver was released I was not ready to face it, so I put it on hold for a few weeks.  Anything that had to do with looking at myself and/or my emotions was just too hard.  When the time came to start it was a challenge but one I knew I just had to do.

We started by taking a photo of ourselves then sketching it with charcoal and white gesso.  From there we photographed the sketch, printed it, cut it out, and used gel medium to transfer the image onto a blank page.  I added torn up pieces of wrapping paper and adhered to the page for the clothing.  We painted around the image with white gesso followed by paint and etching patterns with a skewer (I sponged gold paint to mine to give it an oriental feel).

It was then time to paint the face over the existing image and make any final changes - I added the flower embellishment and text to complete mine.

Life Book 2015: Week 21 - Black and white cookie with Lynn Whipple

This weeks lesson came with a bonus from Tamara Laporte where we were invited to paint an apple, complete with shading.  The actual lesson with Lynn Whipple I had difficulty following the concept (given my health at the time I'm not surprised) and so I focused on the bonus lesson instead. 

Seems funny that somewhere along the art journey there is always a still life drawing of an apple.  In the past I have never been too successful at this but I really enjoyed this lesson and came out with a reasonable looking apple.

Life Book 2015: Week 20 - Unravelling through mark making with Jenny Doh

This was a very freeing exercise with Jenny Doh.  Allowing ourselves to just smudge, doodle, and drip paint onto the page using whatever utensils we had on hand, we then looked at the page from various angles to try and identify a concept or idea that came out from the page.  

When I looked at mine, this cat jumped out.  It reminds me of the cats you see sitting on the counters of Asian restaurants - I see it as a 'lucky' cat.  For me it was a sign of better things to come (plus the part my own kitty cat played in my recovery).

"Cats leave paw prints on our hearts."

Life Book 2015: Week 19 - Stamping shadow and light with Jessica Swift

Emerging from darkness into light seemed an appropriate title given It reflected how I was feeling at the time.  This lesson with Jessica Swift involved creating a shaded background, hand carving your own stamps and then stamping onto the background.  

Using silver ink I stamped the feathers and bubbles over the dark area of the background and the plants and flowers were stamped in black over the lighter part of background.  Each of the stamps was hand-carved by me.

I then drew a pecked border around to frame.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder

Well it has been ages since I posted here.  Life took a different twist earlier in the year when I came down with a virus.  Appearing out of nowhere it took my feet out from under me and I was confined to home for two weeks.  What was even more debilitating was that I developed an anxiety disorder very early on in the piece.  It started off as being a night-time thing to 24 hours a day constantly in a state of high anxiety.  Being an art therapist you would think that I would be able to get myself out of this but unfortunately I couldn't even pick up a pencil or paintbrush as my motivation completely disappeared and I was unable to function.  I couldn't read, listen to music, watch TV, sit at the computer - all I could do was pace like a wild animal.  Being inside made things worse and I just wanted to be outside in the open air AND it was winter - not a good combination.  

I tried going the 'natural' route with homeopathic remedies and these provided some relief.  I also worked through some stuff with a friend of Jan's who is a spiritual therapist and this was really helpful, but in the end I had to go back to my GP and get medication to fix the chemical imbalance in my brain.  Ending up in hospital with a suspected heart attack was not where I wanted to be - my heart muscles were on the verge of serious damage and I could no longer fight it.  

The first medication I was put on was addictive and I quickly became dependent on it.  I tried to wean off it and start a long-term medication but had a violent reaction to the second medication and the anxiety got totally out of control.  I was desperate and ended up seeing one of the other GP's in the practice as my own GP was away.  He immediately doubled the dose of my 'addictive' medication and changed the second one.  It took a few days of some slightly unpleasant side-effects from this drug but slowly things started to change.  I finally also gave in and allowed myself to be referred to the local Adult Mental Health Service.  I saw a Psychiatrist who sorted out my medication for me and reassured me that this was only a short-term thing and likely came about as a result of the virus.  There was also a Psychologist there and I am currently still seeing him - he has been re-establishing techniques I had forgotten about with the onset of the illness.  Things like relaxation breathing, meditation, exercise, and grounding.  He also worked with me to establish what things occurred around the time of my illness which may have been triggers for the the anxiety.  Identifying possible triggers was the turning point - now I knew what I was dealing with and the healing could begin in earnest.  I have one more session with him next week.  

In the meantime I have been slowly weaning off my 'addictive' medication and hopefully will be off completely in a week or so.  At that point I should be able to drive again - I haven't driven in just on 4 months (when I first got sick).  The last few weeks have been an incredible journey.  I have been able to start drawing again and I feel so much better.  It is thanks to this amazing team that have got me through this and especially to my lovely Jan who has been through this with me every step of the way, my rock - i could not have done it without you.