Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Changing & Growing

When the sunshine came out to play last week, so did I! I took my 2nd canvas which I wasn't entirely happy with and began making some changes to it. Unfortunately I don't have a picture of it when I left the retreat but its changing & growing into this:

I LOVE what I am creating.  In her book Taking Flight, Kelly Rae Roberts talks about running marathons and each time she crossed the finished line she was running back towards herself - I have a similar feeling when I paint, I feel like I am reconnecting with a long forgotten self.  It's magical. And, whilst on the word of MAGIC, I am determined to keep the DWYL magic bubbling and brewing :

I bought a Spell Book!!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Do What You Love Art and Enterprise Retreat Contd.....

A week ago today I woke up for the last time in "The Shire" aka Natural Retreats, Richmond, North Yorkshire.  Said goodbye to the bunny rabbits, had a birthday breakfast in the Tipi, packed up Dora (my trusty VW Campervan) and hit the road...a few hours later I had crossed "the border" back into Red Rose Country (Lancashire). I can draw many comparisons between the Lord Of The Rings Trilogy & the DWYL Art & Creative Enterprise Retreat:

Magical Woodland

Flora Bowley - A Teaching Wizard

Fellowships & Friendships Forged by the campfire
Unchartered territories deep into the mines of our souls were navigated, some with laughter, some with smiles and some with tears, some shifts at a deep level were made as I met and vanquished my own fears.  As I sit writing this blog post, one thing I know for sure, a ring of magic was weaved in those days and will live on inside me ever more! - I do like a bit of rhyme!


Friday, 20 May 2011

Do What You Love Art and Creative Enterprise Retreat

Moss topped lodges, nestled into rich green hills, surrounded by woodland, birdsong and magic....I've been enjoying the Yorkshire Dales equivalent of The Shire! A Natural Retreat set just outside the town of Richmond was the perfect setting for Beth Nicholls Do What You Love Art and Creative Enterprise Retreat.

The retreat teachers were American painter Flora Bowley, British Book artist Rachel Hazell and British mixed media artist Priscilla Jones.  I was booked in with Flora's painting class, where I spent an extraordinary 3 days learning to paint with acrylics the Flora Bowley way.
She has a really simple and fresh approach to painting, firstly she likes to acquaint you with a few basic principles/philosophies:

~ We are all artists already.
~ There are no mistakes.
~ Let go of expectations.
~ Focus on the process, not the final piece. 
~ Allow the painting to emerge naturally through your own process of  discovery.
~ Trust yourself.
~ Consider yourself a vessel for the unknown.
~ Loosen up, have fun, be playful.  Don’t take yourself too seriouslyJ
~  Recognize “happy accidents.”
~ Feel the music!  Paint to the music.  Move your body.
~ Do something drastic/bold…more than once.
~ Allow your process to be SEEN.  Let go of perfection.
~ Be authentic (true).  Don’t force. Don’t copy.
~ Focus on what IS working and what IS fun for you.  Let this inform the       
   rest of the painting.
~ Don’t be afraid to cover things up.  You are making room for something even greater!
~ Use plenty of paint and build up many layers.  This will make for a deep      
    interesting painting.  
~ Practice non-attachment by changing your course often along the way.
~ Use the techniques that work and leave the rest behind.
~ Breathe, stretch, and dance!
~ Walk away from your work often to get perspective.
~ “BE” the way you want your painting to look. Ie: bold, colorful, peaceful
~ Be easy on yourself!
~ Have fun!!!

This was my first introduction to painting with acrylics on canvas so it was a baptism of fire!  However, Flora made it very simple and straightforward and so I no longer ever need to fear a blank canvass again!  To get you started was easy enough and I still remember her saying "this is the time to reconnect to that 5 year old!" We took a couple of colours and dripped them onto the canvass, we sprayed water onto the paint and watched it transform into something lovely! Paint was oozing all around the canvas and I felt like I was back at school with paint, water and a straw!! BUT, that was the purpose of the exercise, to let go of all the inhibitions we carry as adults and just get FREE!!  We were encouraged to use our hands to spread the paint around the canvas and even paint with our eyes closed to enable the free-flow, intuitive process.
Flora then introduced some specific techniques for applying the paint using foam brushes.  We were encouraged to hold the brush loosely whilst listening to funky music to keep us loose and to use the whole arm, starting with the shoulder.  We twirled the brush over the canvas, skipped, stamped, scrubbed - no limits (apart from our imagination)!

Here are some pictures (courtesy of Tara - Aquamarine) a talented artist from Brighton, go check out her blog.

Our Painting Tent

 An example of skipping, swirling, twirling, smudging, wiggling - keeping it loose!

Working on the principle of using plenty of paint and building up many layers, we continued applying the paint, moving to the music, stopping for intermittent stretching breaks, until class finished for the day.

Here is what my canvas looked liked at the end of day 1:

   My canvas
More news from the live adventures of a Bloom True student to follow!............

Monday, 16 May 2011

Do What You Love Art and Creative Enterprise Retreat

"There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."...Anais Nin

So, I took the risk and signed up to Beth Nicholl's Do What You Love Art and Creative Enterprise Retreat, based in the Natural Retreats setting of North Yorkshire, just outside of Richmond.  It was a truly magical experience, and, under the instruction of the inspirational painter and teacher Flora Bowley I did blossom!

Flora has been described as "an inspiring and generous teacher" and from my own experience over the past few days I can totally agree with that.  She has a wonderful approach to painting and teaching!  A bit like creating a cake, there were many ingredients in the painting mix, stretching, dancing, running around a field, painting on each others canvases. Yes, you did read that right! painting on each others canvases was a way of being free and practising the art of "unattachment".  


The picture above was my canvas after everyone had "dabbled" a little with it!  I thought it was a fun exercise and was a good opportunity to work with colours, shapes and textures which I would have normally avoided. After several "layers" later, the canvas had morphed into looking like this:

I found my style to be very swirly, and the word found its way onto the canvas! 

I could write so much more about my time at the Art Retreat, but as I have an exam to prepare for I will add more to this post later. 

In love and gratitude........SwirlyGirl xx