Creative people have creative blocks from time to time. And I believe that all people, even the "non-creative" ones can still have creativity in their life in some form or other.
I think it's a genuine need to be creative, to be inspired during our working (and playing) lives. There are a loads of ways we can get inspired.
I found today, my own creative juices weren't flowing very much. I needed to find my own inspiration in order to be more productive in my day.
I found myself being reminded of Rodin's quotation " The main thing is to be moved, to love, to hope, to tremble and to live"
What would make me feel alive today?
The first thing for me was to get outside. Even on a wet September day there is so much to get excited about out there. The berries are coming out, the leaves are changing colour and I found a lovely rosebud...perhaps the last for this season.
The light has changed too. It's dusk at 7.15pm today, and will be dark by about 8pm. That might be a bit depressing, as we all love our long summer days. But the change itself is so very interesting. And interesting is inspiring!
In any event being outside, if only for a short time is good for us, it just is! And even without strong sunshine it helps us embed our circadian rhythms, and thus enable us to have better, restful sleep.
If it's really tipping down outside, and there are days when even the most outdoorsy, might resist venturing out, there's inspiration to be found elsewhere.
As a rule I try to avoid women's magazines and they tend not be inspirational, and make me feel rubbish! But I've found a lovely one recently. Its called Daphne's Diary and it's a little gem (I'm not affiliated with this magazine, this is genuinely my opinion). It has lots of little things in there about art, craft, interiors, gardens and workshops. It is so beautifully designed that each page can give you inspiration. I found myself reading an interesting article on fans. Fans. I didn't think I'd do that today!
You can also turn to other people for creative inspiration and support. I love delivering my classes teaching people how to Oil paint, http://www.louiselutonart.com/classes and there are so many opportunities to learn something new or develop your skills. In my locality Salisbury arts centre is the go-to place for creative classes, everything from feltmaking to filmmaking! http://www.salisburyartscentre.co.uk/whats-on/workshop-courses.aspx
When I came back into the studio from my little sojourn outside I played about with some ink and then did a line drawing over the top of it. It's really the painters equivalent of a doodle, but the point is it got me going. Made me feel alive. Helped me get on with my creative day.
Sometimes the very best way to get creative is to just get on with it! Whatever your creative release might be: drawing, painting, writing, sewing, making, baking....sometimes you just need to make a start without worrying about the finish.
For years and years I've taught art to students under the age of 19 at GCSE and A level. And I've delivered lessons to improve their skills and develop their creativity.
So now that I'm a full time artist, I've been reflecting on the very best examples of teaching over the years and working out how to deliver meaningful, enjoyable, useful art classes to adults wanting to learn to paint.
One of my favourite classes (my favourite to teach and the students' favourite to learn) was traditional oil painting.
A bit of research told me that apparently there are too few art teachers teaching technique.
That might sound like a scientific approach, but perhaps courses on kickstarting your creativity, aren't what some people want. One gentleman, after going to an art class elsewhere, told my husband at work " I don't want someone to teach me how to be more creative, I want them to teach me how to paint properly".
So with this in mind I'm launching new art classes in oil painting - based on my old A level workshops.
During A level teaching we devoted one lesson a week entirely to learning new techniques in oil. It ended up being nicknamed the "technical bake" lesson, as it was on the same day as the Great British Bake off!
So each week, their portraits developed, along with their understanding, each time with me demonstrating the content required in the "technical bake", and them working on it.
It was intensive but incredibly enjoyable.
Something that became clear about teaching in this way, was the students' ability to apply the techniques they learned to other paintings later in the course.
They were intimidated by oils at first. That faded in time.
Oils are difficult and intimidating to get to grips with, there are a myriad of mediums and solvents, the paints themselves come in a dizzying array of quality, price, colour. Should you work on board or canvas, how fine should the canvas be? What does hue mean on the tube? Is that good or bad?
And once you've walked out of the art shop a couple of hundred pounds poorer, then what happens? Where to you start? You heard about the rule "thick over thin", but that's not really enough to go on!
Is it really possible to de-mystify the dark arts of oil, in just a few lessons?
Yes. Yes it is. I can give my students the benefit of my experience. I can help them use the techniques of the old masters with the joy of our knowledge of chemicals and solvents to help them create better paintings with developed skill.
I want to share the secrets of painting in a "grisaille"- the art of creating form through monochrome techniques. It can revolutionise the way you use oil. Then you have the foundation to add colour over the grisaille in glazes and thin layers. This creates depth in your paintings.
So are you ready to learn to paint?
I love teaching, I can help you improve your oil painting, I have a lovely studio for you to paint in, and I make a cracking cup of coffee. What more could you ask for?
My classes start on Wednesday15th October.
Yesterday saw the fifth annual Salisbury Paint off take place in the Cathedral cloisters.
It's such lovely day. I really wish we could do three or four of these every year, as they are so much fun.
The artists pitch up between 10 and 11 am, set up, collect your canvas and off you go!
Some artists work on the view in front of them, others on other work that they've planned, or even working entirely as the mood takes them. Many work on their own, but I was delighted to see some really innovative collaborative work going on too.
Last year, I attempted the early english gothic architecture that sat before before me. This year, working from a couple of sketches and a photo for reference I created a seascape base in Hengistbury Head. I was much more comfortable with this, and I was delighted to discover some folks recognising my style from seeing my work elsewhere. High praise indeed.
I really enjoyed myself yesterday. I chatted to so many people, which was lovely, as so many artists lead a pretty solitary existence in their studio, that its great to share ideas and ideals with like minded individuals.
This year the Paint off also co-incided with the craft and heritage fair, which was on the West lawn of the cathedral close. Lots of people filled the close, eager to take in some visual art, listen to some acoustic music and general have a lovely day out.
There will be an auction of the completed work on Wednesday 10th Sept at 6.30pm at Salisbury Arts centre. If you fancy a bargain, this is the place to come, as work from professional artists regularly goes for significantly less they would usually sell for. Come along and snap up a great work of art at a great price.
Long may this lovely tradition continue. I'm already planning my canvas for next year's event.
Last night saw the return of Grand designs on Channel 4.
Like many others this is compulsory viewing in our house. Primarily because I am always astounded at the bravery (sometimes blind bravery) of the protagonists and their incredible plans, resilience and eventual outcome. The programme rarely disappoints.
Last night was no exception as couple Kay Ralph and Rob Hodgson built a beautiful, modern house right on the edge of a precarious clay cliff in North Wales. Remembering the storms of last Winter, my heart was in my mouth as I watched, thinking "this can't possibly end well". I was completely convinced that their estimate of 60 years of erosion before the sea would swallow the house would be ruined in that one storm in Dec13.
There was a lot of damage but the couple were eventually granted planning permission by the council to add clay soil to the eroded cliff. The idea being, they couldn't do anything structural to the cliff, but the earth they had dug out for their own foundations could then be deposited onto the cliff to "buy" them a few more years worth of erosion.
Like Kevin McCloud, I hope that mother nature is kind to them and they get to enjoy their beautiful home for years to come.
Early on in their project they had 'grand designs' on decorating their space with select pieces of art. Their white box is the perfect place to hang artworks. They went massively over budget, leaving no spare cash for cruising around London art galleries to get something special. No matter; the works of art were from friends and Rob even created his own version of a Mondrian painting, using the plans of the house as inspiration. The outcome was brilliant.
This couple were lucky enough to have artists as friends and some artistic talent of their own. But what about everyone else? What do they do about acquiring something beautiful for their home? Is it true that most people are so intimidated by the art world that they settle for prints, rather than real art. Are we completely convinced that we'll be ripped off by a gallery so we settle for something mass produced and disposable?
The thing is there are plenty of really talented artists out there who don't charge the earth for something wonderful. You'd be amazed at the quality of art that you'd be able to commission for only a few hundreds of pounds (not thousands, or hundreds of thousands).
With carefully chosen artwork you can have a really beautiful space. It takes real courage and skill to use strong colours on your walls and we all know that a dark colour needs about 8 coats of paint to cover it up when you want to get rid of it! But if you have white walls everywhere ( which is a very cheap and easy way to brighten up your house) you can then commission a nice big canvas and change the mood of the room completely. It can also be completely unique, uncopyable and highly enviable. Commission an artist to paint the view you wish you had, or to use the colour you wish you had the courage to use, or to create a mood or feeling in the room that you desire. Dynamic for the kitchen, calm for the bedroom; whatever you want! And you get to take it with you when you move house!
Go and have a look at unknown, comtempory artists, working in your area or via the internet and treat yourself to a select work of art, at an affordable price. You won't regret it!
Take a look at my new creative studio. A space designed for me to work in, to create in, and to teach small classes in. I'm delighted with my new space. A new chapter in my life has really begun.
The first thing I needed to do was to rationalise the space. I needed an office space. I need to be clever with storage as I wanted to keep as much wall space clear to display paintings. I needed to completely change the sink area as it was a mess and simply not fit for purpose. I needed a workspace for students to take part in classes. I needed the entrance to welcoming for visitors. Oh my goodness there was a lot to do.
We started with the entrance area, which needed to accommodate my office area and a place for visitors to sit, enjoy and feel welcome and comfortable. I've chosen some laminate flooring, which looks like white washed floorboards. My Dad, laid the floor for me and it instantly helped me visualise how beautiful a practical space really can be.
I upcycled an old pine dressing table, which used to be a rather redundant table in the corner of the lower level studio. Now it's a whitewashed desk, beautiful and practical. A homemade and colourful calendar above the desk, to write all over, and my Right Brain business plan, next to me, to keep me inspired and focused. An old pine table, also up cycled and whitewashed to display cards and merchandise on, and a new book case. Some up-cycled directors chairs will complete the look in a couple of weeks. Today, I'm sitting at that pretty little desk, blogging about how beautiful my new space is. What a great feeling
The next area to tackle was the sink area.
I needed to change the orientation of the brilliant metal sink, to allow more than one person to clean up at a time.
I needed to change the cupboards and units to allow for more storage of solvents, mediums and tools. I needed plenty of work surface behind the sink allowing me to re use some solvents, letting the paint settle, thus preventing unnecessary waste to be put down the sink. The transformation is amazing and again, thanks go to Dad's expertise in getting all this fitted.
The main body of the studio has been transformed by removing the cumbersome old drawing boards and replacing them with worktop space with storage and stools beneath. I still have plenty of space for big easels and chests of drawers for sketchbooks, paints and rags. The white flooring bounces light from the daylight bulbs making a beautiful space to create beautiful works of art.
I am utterly thrilled with the result and can't wait to deliver my first workshops in my new space.
It was well worth all the effort to make the transformation and huge thanks to my family for helping me make this possible.
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