Posted on Leave a comment

CREATIVITY IN QUARANTINE | INSPIRATION, CHALLENGES & ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Last week I was invited to take part in a New York based meet up for creatives – Creative in Quarantine: Finding Inspiration in Isolation – a space for artists of all disciplines to come together and discuss the challenges we are facing during lockdown, and to recognise our achievements. 

It was an absolute honour to be asked to participate, and despite a deep aversion to speaking on camera, I dove right in and loved every minute of it. Afterwards I felt super exhilarated and inspired, in awe of everyone’s eloquence in discussing their creative journeys during Covid-19. 

creative in quarantine

We were asked by host extraordinaire Tricia Patrick:

What does it mean to be creative in this time? Does it have to yield products/ advance our careers? Or can we just be creative for creativity’s sake? 

Such an interesting question and something I consistently find challenging. For me, there’s an enormous sense of having to use this time productively. Create to produce a product. Create to provide content. Create to make money. When art becomes your business, it can be very difficult to separate the two.

But when the intention behind creativity is multi-faceted and not purely for the joy of creating, it can become a pressure instead of a release. 

In an ideal world, creativity has the capacity to

  • yield a sense of joy
  • provide a release
  • be utilised as a coping mechanism to navigate emotionally difficult situations
  • connect one to oneself
  • bring about a sense of purpose
  • eradicate boredom

With that in mind, are we able to explore creativity separate from our artistry? Is this something you are able to do?

pink pineapple

We were also asked to share the creativity challenges we’ve experienced and overcome during lockdown, our accomplishments, inspiration and self-care practises. 

Here are my reflections on these areas.

CHALLENGES

Fluctuations in motivation – one week I’m energised and hugely motivated, the next I’m devoid of enthusiasm, lethargic and uninspired. How can I meet these inevitable changes with self-compassion, gentleness and grace?

Time management – how do I balance creating with all other aspects of my business – blogging, social media, newsletters, making videos etc.  Once I create a routine, how do I stick to it? Can I practise softness and flexibility instead of self-criticism and rigidity?

Adapting – having redirected my focus to in-person workshops offline, how then do I shift back to online offerings? Trying to embrace the necessity to learn new skills eg. how to make downloadable colouring pages; how to make video tutorials 

Expectations – mainly of my own productivity. How do I manage the demands and sense of urgency I impose on myself? Can I set myself small manageable tasks and be content with a slower, more organic pace of ‘getting things done’?

Comparison – my susceptibility to a ‘compare & despair’ mindset: other people got online quicker, other people are more productive than me, other people are more resilient and resourceful than me. How can I bring my attention back to my own lane and my own voice?

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

It can be SO easy to focus on what we haven’t done, what we haven’t yet achieved and quickly descend down the rabbit hole of ‘not enough’, so a practise of gratitude and self-recognition can provide a glorious antidote.

My lockdown accomplishments so far:

Website launched – I’d been procrastinating, endlessly refining and struggling with the inevitable tech difficulties of trying to build my own website, but I launched it! Ahead of schedule. With all its imperfections and unfinished bits. I did it! I built it and I launched it.

Youtube channel launched – quite literally after years of procrastination and ‘valid’ delay tactics, I’ve finally done it! Expect to find lots of tutorials, time lapses & much more. Please do subscribe 💖

Colouring pages created – a series of hand drawn mandalas, scanned, adjusted in Photoshop, and added to my website as downloadable printables for you to colour.

More blog posts & newsletters written – I love to write and this has gifted me the inspiration and opportunity to write more.

Sold more sobriety cards than ever before! From Tynemouth to Texas, Carlisle to California, Watford to Washington, my cards are reaching far and wide. It truly makes my heart sing to see my cards fly all over the world 💖

Created ‘Unsung Heroes of Covid-19’ – a series of interviews with extraordinary people with ‘ordinary’ lives, modestly, humbly making a huge difference but with no applause, no recognition. This idea was inspired by my friend Del and I am excited to see it grow.

MY INSPIRATION/ MY ‘WHY’

pink balloon

What inspires you? What is your ‘why’ behind your artistry, behind your business? Has it changed during lockdown? It’s so easy to forget these but so important to remember and reconnect. A sense of purpose propels us forward and provides grounding amidst uncertainty.

My whys:

To find an oasis in the chaos – to feel grounded myself and provide tools for others to do the same.

To harness a deep sense of connection – within myself and with others. 

To find joy, beauty and colour within the array of grey – it’s so easy to descend into a scarcity mindset, especially at a time when so much of our security structure has been dismantled. But despite the darkness, there is always joy. It is my commitment to myself to find it.

SELF-CARE PRACTISES

What helps you on a day to day basis stay sane? What keeps you connected to yourself and others? 

Here are my essential tools to keep my mental health in tact:

One day at a time – by keeping my focus rooted in today, I am gifted a reprieve from the frenzy of future worries. If I allow my thoughts to drift into the weeks and months ahead, I can experience a sense of panic and anxiety rise in my chest. I can still make plans and set goals for myself, but my attention is on the day ahead.

Routine & flexibility – despite a deep rebellious streak within me that fights against routine, I know it serves me tremendously. I set myself a daily and weekly routine but also allow for space to modify it.

Morning ritual – this is my saving grace. My daily grounding practise. It can vary each day but always involves a combination of yoga, meditation, journaling, affirmations, reading spiritual literature.

Exercise – I am too often too comfortable sitting on my backside, so this one requires a little extra work for me! Joe Wicks I am not. My favourite exercise is dancing in the garden or walking in the park, music in my ears and singing at the top of my voice. I probably look like a lunatic but I always feel exhilarated afterwards & there’s something very freeing about letting go of what other people probably think of me!

Online connection – for me, this is recovery meetings, my ‘home alone’ meet up for local solopreneurs, and my spiritual/ self-development book group. Seeing that sea of faces over Zoom has become an immeasurable support for me and provides a surprisingly soothing level of connection.

Phonecalls – there’s something still immensely comforting about a familiar, disembodied voice at the other end of the phone. Just a good old-fashioned phone call where I can’t see their face and they can’t see mine; where I don’t have to care that my hair looks shit and I’m still wearing pyjamas.

Posted on Leave a comment

TODAY | Livi LIVE on Zoom

4pm UK | 11am EST

Watch my interview LIVE via Zoom

CREATIVE IN QUARANTINE : Finding Inspiration in Isolation

creative in quarantine

Perhaps one ‘good’ thing to come out of this situation is the inevitable side effect of having to face ourselves and some of our fears. I had been busy constructing my new reality of in-person workshops, in-person connection, in-person meet ups. Redirecting my life and my business OFF line was my primary intention and so to be ‘forced’ so suddenly into a mass exodus ON line was a fairly undesirable outcome for me.

What this has meant however, is that I’ve had to face my fear of video! I have never been a fan of video calls and never been brave enough to talk to the camera on social media. I’m not a fan of my face close up and like many people, the sound of my own voice is just WEIRD to me and makes me feel deeply uncomfortable.

Migrating all my meetings onto zoom has meant confronting all these insecurities and encouraged me to embrace a new reality. Miraculously, I am slowly starting to feel braver and bolder and less afraid of my own face! So much so that I unhesitatingly said a big YES when I was asked to be ‘guest artist’ in a New York based zoom meet up for creatives. 

It’s called Creative in Quarantine: Finding Inspiration in Isolation – an open meet up of creatives who are trying to stay creative or explore their creativity during this time. I will be interviewed by host Tricia Patrick and will be sharing some of the challenges I’ve faced during lockdown as an artist, what I’ve accomplished and how I’m taking care of myself and finding inspiration.

It’s free to join and open to all. Click here to register for free.

Wish me luck!

Posted on 2 Comments

MANDALA TUTORIAL | STEP BY STEP

I often talk about the beauty and power in the drawing of mandalas. It’s a magical, hypnotic process, one in which thoughts are silenced and order is restored. The art of drawing mandalas really feels like an oasis amidst the chaos – the chaos of the outside world and endless loop of doomsday news, and the chaos of the internal mind.

For me, drawing the mandalas creates more peace and more calm than colouring them. The process of drawing them demands a more intense concentration, thus quieting the noisy part of my brain. I am gifted a reprieve from my thoughts and can easily and happily reside in the space within. Colouring them however, albeit a calming, creative outlet, clearly accesses a different part of the brain and my thoughts are not silenced in the same way.

For this reason, it feels so important for me to share with you the process of HOW I create my mandalas, so that you may be able to do the same and experience the same glorious oasis in the chaos.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED

learn how to draw a mandala

Paper to draw on. A compass to mark your circles, with a light pencil. A fine black pen to draw with. (Ruler is optional to measure the precise middle point of your page.) 

HOW TO DRAW YOUR OWN MANDALA

how to draw a mandala

Whilst I always draw my mandalas entirely free hand, I create a series of different sized circles to act as my guide. Using a compass and a soft pencil, I draw approx 4 or 5 circles as a framework. This ensures each loop and curl is of equal size all around the circle.

how to draw a mandala

I start in the middle and initially draw 4 markings – normally a loop, leaf or petal shape – positioned at 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock. This is to ensure as much symmetry as possible. Then I repeat the shape 4 more times between my first 4 markings, until I have 8 loops. I call it the power of 8, as each loop, leaf or petal will be repeated 8 times around the circle.

learn to draw a mandala

Once the middle 8 markings have been made, it’s simply a matter of connecting each of those with a new loop, leaf or petal shape. It doesn’t matter what your chosen shape is, as long as it’s the same size and the shape all around the circle!

The choice of marking is entirely up to you! I often think it’s best not to overthink it. Simply let your pen do the work, and enjoy watching as the sensational symetrical pattern unfolds. No need to plan. Just allow it to happen organically.

mandala step by step

It can be easy and tempting to focus on the slight imperfections and size variations as you move around the circle. As a perfectionist myself, I feel you! When focusing on detail, the imperfections seem magnified, however, when your mandala is completed, it will be seen as a whole. All the individual markings, no matter how inconsistent and imperfect, simply add up to comprise the perfect whole.

learn how to draw a mandala

As a general rule I suggest to add details and embellishments after the whole shape has been created. These can either be drawn into the design, or added later when colouring or painting your design.

learn how to draw a mandala

Once you have completed your design you are ready to add colour! Depending on your surface, I’d recommend different pens or paints. Sharpies are fine for paper. Posca pens are great for non-absorbant surfaces, and paints are great for vinyl or canvasses. Painting mandalas however takes a loooong time and can be very fiddly.

how to draw a mandala

This mandala has now been added to my free downloads! Print this off at home and colour to your hearts content.

As I don’t have a printer, I’ve chosen to colour this one digitally as a demonstration. I’ve consistently been drawn to rainbow palettes for my mandalas and in this current climate, I don’t believe there’s anything more fitting!

rainbow mandala

So in love with how this turned out and it’s got me experimenting and thinking about lots of future ideas! Whilst playing with the digital image, I discovered this happy accident…

rainbow mandala

I just love how delicate this image is! The white outline, (instead of the black) just softens it so much. I’m thinking prints, cards, maybe more? What do you prefer? The black or the white outline?

STEP BY STEP GUIDE TO DRAWING A MANDALA

  1. Using a compass & a pencil, lightly mark out 4 or 5 different sized circles as your guides.
  2.  Start in the middle and draw 4 markings (leaf, loop or petal shape) at 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, and 9 o’clock.
  3. Make 4 more markings – in between the original 4. This ensures you have 8 petals evenly spaced in a circle.
  4. Connect each petal with another loop, leaf or petal shape, using your next pencilled circle as your size guide for these markings.
  5. Repeat the same marking 8 times around the circle.
  6. Continue to add leaves, loops, petals, teardrops, swirls, frills, connecting each adjacent marking. Always ensure the same leaf, loop, petal etc is repeated around the circle.
  7. Details and embellishments can be added as part of the colouring process.
  8. Colour in your mandala!

As well as my Art to Heart instagram page, I now have a dedicated page to my mandalas – Oasis in the Chaos. If you download one of my colouring pages, or have a go at drawing your own mandala, please send me your pics or use hashtags #arttoheart #oasisinthechaosmandalas #oasisinthechaos. I’d love to see your work!