Above are Aafke and Martine two friends who organize my creativity workshops, and more than that, make sure that they happen. Their playful, enthusiastic and caring energy sets the stage for a truly nurturing and satisfying day of creative exploration.

We had a smaller group this time and though it was less noisy and dynamic, it was more relaxed. There was time to really get around to everyone and give personal attention.

We started out by talking about the things in our lives which keep us from taking time to create, and how we could integrate creativity better into a busy daily schedule. Being inspired by Sandra Hobson’s podcast on rituals from the newest Art & Healing Network Newsletter , we did a simple ritual then went on to material exploration using felt.

We paused for a delicious lunch (I’m not going to get going on the Death by Chocolate cake we were welcomed by in the morning) full of fresh ingredients baked by Martine and Aafke, then got back to work. In the afternoon we made books and decorated them. From the previous workshop I knew not to schedule another activity in the afternoon because once people get started on the books, you can’t get them to stop!

All in all this was a very enjoyable workshop that was agreed upon to be a success all round. I saw people begin to have faith in their own unique creative ability and begin to challenge the censor in them that says you can’t create unless you are an artist. A woman who hadn’t worked with the visual arts in 10 years made some wonderful archetypal little objects and said she felt as free as a child again.  Several others were able to bypass their inner perfectionist and let the work lead them rather than trying to be in control all the time.

Basically what we try to do is create a nurturing and stimulating atmosphere to welcome people into. The materials are there inviting them to come and play, and they usually just take off.

More pictures at Flickr   http://www.flickr.com/photos/29918827@N00/

Serious decluttering

February 3, 2010

We recently decided to replace some carpets and vinyl in various key areas of our home. As it was planned, the floor coverings were delivered and laid all within a week, so it was a major upheaval. Everything, EVERYTHING, had to be taken out of my studio, our bedroom the kitchen, and the landing outside of my studio which I usually use to dump extra stuff from everywhere else.

I have to say here that I have been systematically decluttering for years, always with an eye to a future house move. But seeing the bare bones of those rooms again after 20 years of accumulating things, even useful things, was a revelation. And it made me vow to never ever pile it all full again.

This has required a different kind of decluttering; I am convinced that if it doesn’t hurt, you’re not doing it right.  I’ve had every single book I’ve dragged along from continent to continent over the last 40 years in my hand, and I posed the question, ‘Would it break my heart to let go of this’.  If the answer was,’No’. Then it went into the give away/sell box. If I wasn’t sure, then it went into storage in the attic until I could make up my mind. Entire identities pass in front of one’s eyes when one does this. It takes time, a sort of inner focus and energy, but it needs to be done if you are really serious about preserving Space rather than Things.  Also, I admit, that occasionally I’ve thrown a book nonchalantly into  the ,’No, it would not break my heart pile’, to wake up in a cold sweat the next night and go scrabbling through the piles trying to find that one book that I’m, after all,  not quite ready to part with.

One sentence you really have to throw right out of your vocabulary along with the old stuff is, ‘Well, gee, this may come in handy sometime’.
If it has lain at the bottom of a heap of junk in a drawer for the past 10 years, it is Not Going To Come in Handy Sometime soon. Get rid of it.  And if you discover you really do need it one day, I think you can work around it. My big temptation is to keep things for my various art and creativity courses. In that case I allow myself to keep half of the stuff and throw the rest away.

As a result of this, and of letting go my large light table, which I used only occasionally (gee I could have used it today, drat) my studio with its new white varnished wood look is like a Zen-do. Walking in there is like getting a shower of light.

Only problem is that it is so gorgeous and clean and spacious, I daren’t take out any of my paints, just imagine if I got a spot on my studio floor.

Obviously this is ridiculous. But that’s how it is right now.  🙂

#6 Chinese Cowrie shell

February 3, 2010


Chinese Cowrie shell

Size:  16 x16 cm
            6.25 x 6.25 inches  

Medium: oil on cardboard  

Story:  Dear friends C&G once gave me a book on the origin of Chinese characters.  It is an exquisite publication, full of images that stimulate my imagination like; old Chinese wells and bronzes, ancient vases, stone tools, shards, and statues. Every time I leaf through it I want to draw or paint. This image is almost an exact copy of a page about cowrie shells being the first currency. And the character, which you see underneath in its evolution and final modern form, stands as well for value, expensive

This piece also foreshadows the next few feature artworks, which are all on a shell theme.

What I like about this piece:  It is actually much warmer in colour than the photo appears. I like the symmetry and the tranquility.


Price: $25      €17      15 GBP         plus Shipping:  $5     €3,50      3GBP    (Only $5 shipping regardless of how many paintings you buy if  in the same order going to the same address).
Please note, all work is delivered unframed.

Ordering info: Please click here.