Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Being Creative Gallery Check In ~ May

Hello Friends

It's time for the Being Creative Group to share their marvellous work again!  This month's theme was 'Home'.  I have been loving the work that has appeared in our Flickr Group, there has been some very inspiring and different styles emerging, and I'm delighted that you have taken the time to join in, and to share your creativity with us all. I'd also like to take the time to welcome the newer members of the group - it's great to have you join us!

So...I have a confession to make.

I did not take part this month.  You may have noticed that my little blog has been rather quiet of late, and the reason for this is that I've had a break from pretty much everything.  I wrote a few weeks back how I was studying some creative business courses, planning new work, writing my creativity e-book, along with keeping my family fed, watered and happy...and well, you all know how it goes.  There's only so much we can do, and I knew that I'd taken a bit too much on.  I had some great ideas for this month's theme, but I just didn't have the energy to carry them out.  I have spent the past week or so just gently moving through each day.  Business courses and the like have been shelved and the urgency to complete them removed - I was sleeping 10 hours a night and still feeling as if I'd not been to bed upon waking...it was time to assess this crazy overwhelm for real and to do that I had to step back from everything I'd tied myself up with.

So that's the reason why I haven't taken part - maybe I'll come back to the theme again - I'm not sure.  However, one of the rules of this project is that it's flexible - you take part, or you don't - I guess as the host of it I feel some kind of responsibility to lead the troops and have something to show each month, which will help to spur others on, and to encourage new people to join in.
I'm sorry if I've let anyone down, but I do hope that you understand (I'm sure you do, you're  a lovely bunch!).

So, here we go - the theme for May was Home as you know.   
For those of you who would like to share your work via your blog/Flickr or other photo hosting webpage, then you are very welcome to add your link to the widget below (please just link to the page your work features on).  Don't forget to use the whole caboodle of http://www...etc or else the link won't work.  

Anyone who has already posted in the Flickr Group are also encouraged to share your images in the gallery here too!  It's going to be wonderful to have a monthly source to access everyone's work ~ and please don't be shy about sharing...encouragement and support is the key to growing in confidence with your creativity, and although it can feel a little scary, I think you will feel a huge sense of achievement when you share your work and get feedback from the other participants or blog readers here.

You will be able to add your 'HOME' themed work to the gallery here until the end of June.  There is a list in the sidebar so that the gallery pages are easier for you to find.

For those of you who are working on the project and don't have the facility to share pictures of your work, then you are welcome to add your thoughts about your creative journey so far in the comments section at the bottom of this post.
I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on taking part in the Being Creative Project, so please do share or feel free to email me privately.
The theme for June is OCEAN

You can post your work freely in the Flickr group as and when you like, don't forget to make use of the Discussion facility if you have any questions, or require some support.

I'm looking forward to seeing what you've done - thank you so much for sharing the vibrant, colourful energy of your glorious creations! 

Julia x


Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Remember that Crocheted Waistcoat...?

it's finished.

In fact, truth be told it was finished a good few weeks ago, but I'd not got around to putting the ties on!  It has been languishing on my chair in crochet corner waiting patiently 'til now.

What do you think?

As it's been such an age since I started this waistcoat project, I cannot remember how much I spent on wool, except to say it was less than the one for sale that originally inspired me to make this one!  I used Rowan Handknit Cotton for it, but if I were to make another one I think I'd pick a slightly lighter yarn.  Cotton is quite sturdy, and I think a more floaty kind of wool would look quite good too.

But here's the thing - the fact is, I probably won't be able to make another.  I tried to write a pattern, and at first it looked as if it were going swimmingly - and I was so excited as I reallly thought I could share it with you.  Then it got tricky...and oh my, tricky like you wouldn't believe.  I spent a while frogging and re-doing bits over and over until they looked right.  Even now, there are parts of it that to my eye look ever so happily wonky and not exactly matching...but hey, it was fun to do.

So, (and I dread you reading this bit) I am very, very (truly) sorry...but I do not have a pattern to share with you after all. Writing all the complicated bits down and reading through it made absolutely no sense to me at all afterwards, and even though I tried writing it out three times, it wasn't convincing me that it was easy enough for folks to understand, and to publish on a blog to share with a squillion people.

Will you forgive me?  

I have to confess that I've had rather a hiatus from crochet of late.  I've been much to busy with other projects and come 8 o'clock I've been too pooped to do much else apart from flop.
And then I read a post over at Coco Rose Diaries about a new magazine, with some rather fabulous crocheted apple covers featured.  You can have a peek into this new magazine here too, it looks really good.  Vanessa's post and this magazine combined got me itching to get hooking again.

I think it was a much needed jolt to remind me to get the mix of business and pleasure balanced evenly.  Despite my attempts at balancing life (as described in my last post), I realised that I was actually still feeling pretty frazzled and worn out which is a major kick up the butt for me to reaaaalllly slow down.  I realised that peaceful creative pursuits must be allowed as well as all this studying, drawing and writing that I'm doing, so I've started to do my yoga again (just gentle bursts of 15-30 minutes each evening) and plan some crochet time too; for me this is such a relaxing thing to do and like reading, it helps me to centre and unwind after a mad day!  My other stuff has now been re-scheduled so that my self imposed (rather tight) deadlines have now been gloriously extended!! Hurrah, sighs of relief and more time for the fun stuff.  Why didn't I just do that in the first place???!!

I want to say Thank You to everyone who left comments on my last post too - it was great to read all your ideas on dealing with overwhelm.  It was also interesting to see how many of us go through the same processes, thank you so much for sharing.

Before I scoot off, I just want to tell you that I am in the process of creating some new card collections for my website, which I'm really excited about.  If you want the heads up on these (that is, an exclusive preview with a nice discount) then all you have to do is sign up for my email newsletter which you can do here!  Just scroll down the page, fill in the form and that's it!!

Sending you love for a happy week, 
Julia x

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Doing Too Much and How To Do Less

'I believe I can' - affirmation card

Hello my friends,

I have the most amazing amount of stuff I want to achieve at the moment!  I've taken on two creative business courses (which I'm doing and loving), am dreaming and planning new art work not to mention all the normal stuff that comes with family life such as the supermarket shop, the school run, cooking, keeping the house clean etc; you know the kind of things I'm talking about!

When life gets full up with things to achieve, I sometimes find myself looking for a fast forward button - I feel so much excitement about my projects and ideas, that I just cannot wait to get them all done and out there!  When I feel this happening, I realise I need to slow down and find my rythmn again.  It's just as easy to lose my momentum on something if I go at it head down and full speed, as when I take an age beginning a new project, and the ideas percolate for too long and lose their sparkle.

What happens when we lose our rythmn and go into overdrive?
My experience has been this:  

Life becomes jumbled and untidy 
I tend to eat rubbishy foods (like cookies, chocolate, heaps of toast and marmalade and kettle chips) 
I am late going to bed and spend way too much time on my computer.  
I rush my 'relaxing' bath and race through my day with each thought chasing the tail of the last one.  
I get crabby and irritable
I feel overwhelmed

Not too much gets achieved when I'm like that because there is no rythmn.  It's jerky, it's messy, and it's painful because it leads to feelings of frustration and failure.  When I expect too much too soon, I usually always feel the pain of these feelings and emotions coming up and I know that I need to move at a more gentle pace, and make time to listen to what I (my body) really needs.  Oh, and I need a plan too.

 A favourite waterside walk to relax

Getting outside is enormously helpful for me (as in calming and relaxing), and having a diary or planner for my deadlines is too.  Once I have stuff written down and I can physically see the dates I'm needing to get stuff done by, the urge to rush around like a wild chicken disappears.  I know I can realistically achieve stuff when I've planned for it and that naturally creates breathing space for the rest of life to resume it's regular (and happier) pace again.  I begin to cook healthy food, go to bed at a reasonable hour, and I can hold a conversation without frowning and snapping.  I feel more balanced when I remove the panic and urgency from my mind.

How do you deal with overwhelm, and what do you find works best for you when you're bogged down with busyness?  Please share your thoughts in the comments thread, I'll be popping in randomly to join in the conversation!

Thanks for reading, big love to you
Julia x

I will shortly be releasing a NEW Open Edition Signed Print of 'The Evening Stroll' which will be available at a special price to my mailing list subscribers for a limited time ~ sign up now to hear about it first, and to take advantage of the discount! (click the link with the envelope in the side bar - it's free and you'll also benefit from exclusive news, art updates, sale previews and regular discounted prices on my work) x

'The Evening Stroll'

Friday, 6 May 2011

Truly Fabulous Inspiration Friday

Hello friends

As it's friday (and they're always fabulous), I thought I'd round the week up with a selection of amazing creations and inspirations from the internet for you that I've discovered!
I'm currently loving the work of Cally Jane Studio (above) ~ so much colour to soak up, and such wonderful art!

And who can resist these beautiful Fabriano Bouquet Notebooks ~ love the rainbow goodness of these little books all lined up together!

and more rainbow lovliness folks!! (why do rainbow shades make us feel sooooo good??!!)This gorgeous colourful yarn is Sirdar Smiley Stripes and I'm absolutely sure I can dream up a new project which involves several balls of this!!! A new hat maybe or a long, rainbow drenched scarf!


Recently discovered the work of My Baboo and have totally fallen in love with the designs for Lynne's cosies, especially this cat one!

More delicious art at Gingerbred - a freelance designer and illustrator with a huuuuggggge talent - do check out her superfantabulous work!

...and I love Hannah Willow's work ~ a soul~full artist and jewellery designer, beautiful and evocative work.

I've said it before and i'll say it again - Jennifer Lee's Right Brained Business Plan is the bomb!! Totally the best biz book for creative souls out there!!

And I'm enjoying a bit of laid back listening with Jack Johnson and G-Love's live version of Rainbow...perfect!

And last but not least, a bit of amazing crochet for you to feast your eyes upon:  Check out the teeeeny tiny work of Muffa Miniatures ~ breathtaking!

I hope you have enjoyed these bite sized chunks of inspiration!  I'm off to begin illustrations now for my NEW CREATIVITY E-BOOK which I will be launching soon, I'm really* looking forward to sharing this with you (* read ridiculously excited).
Wishing you a happy friday, and a glorious weekend - i'll see you sooooon!

Much love
Julia x

ps - thank you to all of you for your comments and sharings on my last post, I'm very grateful to each of you who wrote x


Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Choosing Not To (and the Art of Saying No)

Hello Friends

Harbour ~ one of the pieces for the show

A while back you might remember that I told you I'd applied to take part in the annual Great Sheffield Art Show.  I had gone as far as getting 'Harbour' framed up, but just one day before the selection day itself, I still hadn't chosen a second piece of work to take.

It felt like a pretty tall order all of a sudden, to fulfill this.  It felt like too much effort to choose another work, to get it framed or ready for hanging, to drive to the selection building and leave my work for several hours before picking up the paintings and discovering whether they had been chosen or not...

...and right then, I chose not to do it.

You might be wondering 'What?? Why??? How could you not???'

And the truth was, my heart wasn't in it.  In the middle of many other projects I was involved in; I had chosen yet another task to take on, something else to achieve and try to succeed at.  In the swirling midst of everything else, I had presumed I could handle it and I hadn't stopped to ask myself how necessary this really was in my Big Scheme of things and whether it was Possible.

Sometimes we have to take a big deep breath, and listen to our intuition which (in my humble opinion) is never wrong.  Like a whisper, my intuition simply said Stop.
And when I had made the choice not to take my paintings to the selection day, not to (possibly) take part in the show, I felt a wave of relief flood through me.  Within that moment I had cleared a swathe of fresh space for myself; I felt myself breathe more easily and the tension I had created by commiting to this event melted away.

And it's OK to say No to stuff, to change our minds.  If something feels like being Too Much, then it is absolutely OK to not do it.  

In my quest to make life a little more simpler, happier and easier for me and my little tribe, I occasionally lose the way.  I get swept away with the initial enthusiasm of doing something without questioning whether or not the idea is actually beneficial or doable for me.  And then I feel those small needles of anxiety, I begin to read my To Do List and it seems unfathomably long and Undoable, mild panic follows, life feels too full to even achieve the smallest of chores, it's a mess - oh my...

Learning to say No to things that I don't want to do, or that I feel I ought to do in order to please others, or to look good (despite it feeling wrong) is something that becomes more important to me as I grow.  My time is precious and I want to spend every moment of it doing things that nourish me and feel good.  So I keep practising, checking in with myself and asking if it's the right time to take on another project, attend an event.

Do you find it easy to say No?  Do you find yourself saying Yes to stuff that doesn't feel that great out of obligation or habit?  Will you share your thoughts with me on this please, I'd love to hear them.

Sending you love today, so glad you stopped by.
Julia x

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