Tag Archives: the apple exercise

How Creativity and a simple daily plan contribute to holistic wellbeing.

‘Wellness is the complete integration of body, mind and spirit – the realisation that everything we do, think, feel and believe has an effect on our state of well-being’.   Greg Anderson. 

watercolour/gouache – I painted this overlooking the Usk Valley Wales where the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains meet.       Through Mother Nature we see how all of life is interconnected. 20-11-15 - 1 (267)What is Holistic wellbeing?  

Holistic wellbeing is characterised by the treatment of the whole person.    It is to look at the self from a whole (holistic) perspective and to understand the mind, body, spirit connection.  

To change one fraction of a painting, – changes the whole painting.     This is true for we humans….to change one small part of ourselves, (positively or negatively), changes the whole. 

watercolour/gouache – Brecon Beacons Wales – Mist over the hills. 20-11-15 - 1 (493)In our ever more complex and stressful day to day living, finding ways to balance the different aspects of our lives can at times seem overwhelming.     It is for this reason that I believe to make changes, we first need to create a simple daily plan.  

The following are some of the things that have helped me over the years.

Movement to enhance physical wellbeing –  A daily walk – a stretching routine – dance.   (we don’t have to run a marathon).

Emotional  wellbeing  – We can do this by removing unnecessary technical stuff.    Do we really need our phones on 24/7?

Clearing the space in which we live helps to clear the mind and the body.

Keeping pen and paper close at hand to write down thoughts and feelings.   Emptying our heads before going to sleep by writing down anything that is causing distress or disruption.

Spiritual food –    The creative process in all it’s many forms can feed this need.   Painting, writing, music, gardening, cooking and colour all help to feed our senses and enhance our imagination and observational skills.       

Without establishing simple routines, our creativity can be neglected.    My little book – The Apple Exercise – is all about making space in our daily lives to explore our creativity.     In the book I suggest fifteen minute exercises.

Each person has to create their own simple daily plan, one that works for them.

When we address these simple needs we experience a sense of wellbeing.

This watercolour exercise demonstrates that as we change one small portion of a painting, or ourselves, the whole changes. 

20-11-15-1-726Allow time for a new simple daily plan to become part of who you are….change one element at a time.20-11-15-1-728It takes 28 days to form a new habit.       The key is to be persistent and consistent.        20-11-15-1-729As we make positive simple changes, stress is replaced with a calmness which supports the whole.     This is holistic well-being.    20-11-15-1-731Everything I write in this blog comes from personal experience.    I came up with a simple daily plan for myself thirty-two years ago, when I recognised that my own life had become overwhelming – out of control.       Feeling overwhelmed and fragmented affected my physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.

You might say that at that time, I had an epiphany, a sudden and striking realisation that I needed and wanted to change.

To make these changes, I started with a very simple daily plan.    Slowly but surely my life improved beyond recognition.

With these tried and true tools in place – I am now able to face stressful situations in a much more constructive way.

‘The key is changing our habits and, in particular, the habits of the mind’.   Buddhist Offerings. 

Happy Valentine’s Day from the magical hummingbirds. 🙂20-11-15 - 1 (458)A Bientot

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Away for a couple of weeks….Olhao Portugal

Olhao Portugal – http://www.artinthealgarve.com     From one of my many sketchbooks.20-11-15 - 1 (63)Those who follow my blog will know that I take a break from all social media including my blog when I go away to paint.

Given this, I thought the following passage from my book, ‘The Apple Exercise’ would be appropriate.

‘Given the fast pace of life today and the fact that so many of us are plugged into technology of one kind or another, our collective senses have been deadened. 

Along with this comes a feeling of loss.   A loss that in many ways we are unable to identify.

As we constantly try to fill the ever widening holes with more and more frenetic activity and stuff, our frustration levels grow.

Feeding our senses through the creative process, in all its many forms can produce almost miraculous changes, which lead to a sense of well being and fulfilment.’

11083819_10153183552095396_1247590049461091690_oI will be back here at the beginning of May…..

A Bientôt

Feeding our senses through the creative process……

‘Feeding our senses through the creative process, in all its many forms, can produce almost miraculous changes, which lead to a sense of well being and fulfilment’.    From my book ‘The Apple Exercise’.

rapid watercolour sketch –  Monet’s Garden at Giverny.

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A Bientôt

Like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle being revealed……

‘As we go about our daily lives, just like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle being revealed, the seed of an idea can pop up with more information.    It’s vital to record these ideas, because even when we think we couldn’t possibly forget a moment of inspiration…..we can’        From my book ‘The Apple Exercise’

Self portrait – circa 1989 – mixed media 

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A Bientôt

Seeing beyond the obvious.

In my book ‘The Apple Exercise’ – I talk about seeing everything in a myriad of different ways.

The images on this post were taken at the Art School in Olhao on my recent visit.     I am looking at the courtyard, steps, wall and canopy in the Pool House from different points of viewbeyond what might be considered the obvious. 

http://www.artinthealgarve.com

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In fact within each frame shown here there are many different images.

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When I walked into the courtyard of the School House, I immediately loved the triangular shape of the canopy along side the softer Bougainvillea.

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Again, looking at the same subject from a different point of view – gives me new and exciting information.

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and so it goes…..

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I have begun work on some images reflecting the shapes and shadow play within the numerous alley-ways of Olhao, which I will share as they develop.      Observing one small area, is like looking at a jigsaw puzzle of shapes, lights and darks. 

Right up my alley, you might say:)

The Magical Hummingbirds bring vibrant colour to begin the week.

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A Bientôt

When the answer is revealed….

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Another tutorial and reminder of the importance of observational skills.   I

This exercise is all about observing the whole picture, –  the subject and the area surrounding it, which is referred to as the negative space.

I sometimes see people struggling with one area of a painting that they keep going back to time and time again….adding and removing paint,  when quite often all that is needed is a shadow or some colour thrown into the negative space. 

Using  yellow ochre, I have sketched out the rough form of a Calla Lily

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It’s much like life when we are trying to solve an ongoing problem.  We tend to keep going back with the same solution, which doesn’t work!

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It’s not until we look in another direction, in this case into the negative space surrounding the Cala Lily, that the answer is revealed. 

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As we approach paintings and life from a different point of view….new solutions and answers are revealed.

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For this image I used a mix of colours that happened to be on my palette….and then scraped out some colour with a knife, which gives energy and breaks up the background space.

Note that all the white you see is dry white paper. 

I used the same dark tone/value in the back ground colour as I did for the dark shadows on the lily, and just a touch of Winsor & Newton Green Gold and cadmium orange to pull the image together

I never use black when watercolour painting….it deadens the picture.    Instead, I mix Burnt Sienna and Prussian Blue….or other combinations of browns and blues….which produce a beautiful rich dark.

A Colourful Magical Hummingbirds for the day.

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HummingbirdHQ.com

A Bientôt

Art in the Algarve – establishing rhythms

As mentioned in my last post, David Clark has organised a cohesive structure at the Art in the Algarve school, allowing for each tutor to focus on the job at hand.    I was delighted to find that life and costume models are available, which is something to consider for further workshops, but for this my first time at the school, it was necessary for me and the group to become comfortable with one another and acquaint ourselves with our surroundings.

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I find that when a group of individuals who don’t know one another meet in a new place things can often seem overwhelming…..where to begin?

My first suggestion was that everyone pick a spot in the studio where they could lay out their supplies – easy to grab, without shuffling though bags or running back and forth to rooms. 

Given that I always emphasise the necessity of warming up before a days painting, the next stop was to gather in the two courtyards….and begin to observe the exquisite shadow play…..and at the same time, make rapid notes and sketches. 

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I always begin a watercolour workshops regardless of the different levels of skill, with the idea that we are all starting from scratch.  One of the key elements of the course, was to use sketch books for gathering information, thoughts, memories and observations, and as the week developed transfer those thoughts and ideas to larger paintings.

I also begin every day with rapid watercolour demonstrations, emphasising the importance of adding any written notes to sketches, i.e. time of day, etc. 

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Given that most people on the course were interested in honing watercolour techniques, on our first morning the apple once again became a great subject for rapid observational sketches.     By  using such simple subject matter, observational skills were honed and basic watercolour techniques practised, allowing the group to observe more clearly what was happening with the constant change of light and shade. 

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These rapid observational sketches  and our sketch books became the foundation block for everything else we did during the week. 

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The Art in the Algarve school is a feast for the eyes.    So much to see, and of course the wonderful olive tree, (symbolising peace,)  meandering up through the different levels of the building is a constant source of inspiration. 

A rapid demo in my sketch book of the olive tree….again demonstrating the importance of allowing the sketch book to be a place for thoughts, ideas….nothing has to be perfect.   It’s all about seeing and expressing thoughts as quickly as possible.  Capturing a moment. 

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On our first day we were introduced to Margarida’s superb food at lunch time…..and here she is in the kitchen. Image

 

Then in the evening after a most satisfying day’s painting, getting to know one another and exploring of the town we ate at a local Tapas bar, and oh what fun it was…..and the food again superb. 

As we walked back to the school after our meal at around 10.30 p.m. we were all amazed to observe the cleanliness of the streets. 

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My post tomorrow will focus on our visit to the weekly Ohlao market.

http://www.artinthealgarve.com

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

A Bientôt