The Perfect Medicine

I’m now almost half way through my 100 day challenge – #100daysofcreativeplay (#the100dayproject). So far, I have to say, it has been a mainly positive experience. 

I’ve dabbled with lino cut:

I’ve pushed myself to create some more intuitive pieces:

I have had a couple of days where I’ve been tired. Where the prospect of painting hasn’t appealed as much as a hot bath or vegging on the sofa. But aside from that all things have been pretty positive.  It is amazing how my energy lifts walking up to my studio. Even after a day sat in front of a computer screen on calls.

I’ve also been reading a lot about art and listening to various podcasts. So I’ve scribbled a ton of notes about the benefits you get exercising your creativity.

Some of these may resonate with you. If they don’t and you aren’t indulging in some creative endeavors its not too late. Pick up a pencil, splodge some paint, turn your creativity talents into some gourmet food or even starting knitting!

I had a long period in my life where I didn’t draw or paint.  I sketched a bit throughout university but starting my career I never found the time. It was well over a decade before I returned to a regular drawing habit.  But its true what everyone say, art or creativity can really change your life.

Managing Stress

I don’t know about you but my stress levels seem to peak when I feel I’ve lost control. When there are too many demands flying at me. When I don’t have much time, or things are changing and I feel I’m not keeping up. 

For me, thankfully, this state is usually pretty short lived.  More often than not it’s a few days: where I’ve too much on at work and the pressure gets to me. But I know for lots of people stress really has a negative impact on their lives.  I certainly felt the effects in my working life, as we have been navigating through the pandemic. First, we had to firstly furlough a load of staff. Then, sadly, we had to restructure our business – resulting in major job losses.  So stress is a natural part of our lives but generally an unwelcome part.

Often when I’m feeling like this it is too easy to neglect my art and opt instead for a Netflix box set and a comfy sofa. But when I do take the time to draw or paint I always feel so much better.  It’s a release – I control what I do. I start with a blank page or canvas and I get to make whatever I want. 

Making and Breaking Rules

I don’t have any rules to stick to and there is no wrong or right.  There is also a meditative quality to art.  No matter how many things I have flying through my mind when I draw or paint the noise quietens down.  My mind focuses only on the task at hand and I lose all sense of time. 

I also need to keep reminding myself that there is no risk of failure.  If I do something that messes things up its always possible to bring it back, to turn a screw up into something new and different.  Sometimes this is even when I end up with something I really like.  It frees you up, takes away the fear so you experiment and play more.

A perfect example of this was my 12 days of Christmas challenge. I went down a rabbit hole with the painting getting uglier and uglier. But in the final few days with some drastic action I managed to create a piece I actually like.

Keeping Yourself Positive

I’m not saying everyone with a creative lifestyle or hobby sails through life in a dizzying state of happiness. But since I started art again, I find I focus more on the here and now rather than tomorrow or next week.  I definitely notice more: from the beautiful colour of the sky at sunrise to the shapes and textures of the rocks or sea.  I’m sure some of this is also down to lockdown.  For all the negatives it has had on our social lives and lives in general, slowing down has been a big positive.  But since starting a regular drawing and painting habit I’ve certainly noticed my observation skills have improved.

And taking the time to make art or express yourself however you choose gives you the opportunity to let go.  Let go of the stress, negative thoughts or worries about the future and just be in the moment.  There is also something about giving ourselves permission to just play.  We are all naturally creative, we’ve been equipped with amazing abilities to imagine and dream so we need to embrace this and make the most of it.

So I’d encourage everyone to find a creative outlet.  Something that lets you express what’s unique about you. It’s great to see how many improvements have been made in the last few years in managing mental health. But there needs to be much more done and I’m not alone in thinking that art or crafts can play a big role.

In the Studio This Week…

This week I have been working on two paintings with a much more muted colour palette. The pieces have a strong personal connection for me as they contain fragments of my parents first ever TV licence. I was sorting through some collage papers for works and found that my dad had kept all of his TV licences, perfect for adding a bit of intrigue to an image.

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