Friday, 1 December 2017

Winter Nature Walk

 Bright winter brings a strange architectural beauty to the landscape.

Spiky, flamboyant teasel heads dominate the marsh.

Outlines are more defined -  edges are crisp and sharp against the clear blue sky.

Oak galls resemble a structure of miniature domes.

Rose hip boughs form decorative arches, and geometric designs.

Even the ragged edges of the fallen leaves seem to create distinct  abstract shapes against the earth.

Looking closely at the natural world opens the doors to so much new interpretation...

Friday, 24 November 2017

Creative workshops: what do you think?

Socrates said “I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think”.  

Today I have a question for you.  

There's always a catch. You have to read this post before you get to it!

I ran a new hand embroidery workshop last Saturday, based around the technique I call 'Stitch Doodling'.

It's a concept of using a simple shape, then building up the design within it, step by step. This is the sample I designed, a vintage themed version of my original bunny, (which you can see below.)

I try and give as much as I can to help people get the maximum out of their day. My favourite workshop joke is that I only have one rule, 'There are no rules'! 

It's true though - and it's up to me to help each person to think - and find the way that works for them. That's quite hard work. Brilliant fun, but not always easy. (Any tutors reading this, I know you're with me here!)

With this new class, there was a lot of content for the participants to get to grips with. There's always a certain amount of trial and error delivering a new workshop, regardless of how much preparation has gone into the day. You can never tell how people will relate to the content; sometimes you need to make speedy changes on the hoof. I had one or two panicky moments, but I think I got away with it, and I think everyone went away happy!

Okay then; taking into account:

  • coming up with an achievable concept and a plan 
  • creating samples
  • drafting (and often endless re-writing) numerous handouts 
  • putting kits together 
  • and then making sure there is a friendly, relaxed and supportive environment (and of course, cake)

Is it worth it? 

Personally, I feel there is nothing quite like interacting face to face. I get a huge buzz from sharing knowledge, and helping people discover how creative they can be. 

It's a powerful thing. 

Watching people's delight when they achieve something they've never done before, and knowing you helped, well, it's pretty amazing. 

Plus, it's a two way process; I learn so much from students - about life, the universe and everything!   

So fellow creative tutors, and those of you who come to our classes; what do you think makes a great workshop?

Original thread doodle bunny

Friday, 17 November 2017

The Joy of Snail Mail

Saying 'Yes', and 'I'll fit it in', have been  my mantras. In the past few months though, I've slowly  begun to stop and pay attention to the moment.

The world is becoming faster paced, there's a constant stream of information to receive and process,  endless lists of 'stuff to do'; social media and the dreaded busywork fill any gaps! We strive to cram in more and more.

 'Wasn't it a beautiful day today?'  ' Uh, I dunno, I was too busy to notice...'

Digital media gives us speedy and efficient communication (and it's the most brilliant source of information for any multi pod and trivia addict.) I've always relied on it heavily. Lately though I've realised I need to take a side road on the journey to revive and refresh myself.

Luckily, the solution was staring me in the face!  Your Beautiful Letter  is the brainchild of writer and illustrator Naomi Bulger. I've been following Naomi's blog for some time. I love her approach, which is basically, helping busy people rediscover their creativity and forge more meaningful connections through the process of writing letters - by hand.

'What,' I hear you say,'Why? Everyone knows how to write a letter. Besides, who has time today, that's what e-mail, text and DM's are for!'

I agree, technology has its place, and it's incredibly useful, but, don't we all love getting a real, live, personal letter?

Haven't you felt that rush of excitement when you hear the 'click' of the letterbox and look down to experience the joy of seeing a handwritten envelope falling on the doormat?

You pick it up, excitedly. Without any further ado, the handwriting tells you this is something very personal.

First, you guess who it's from. Do you know the handwriting?  What's the postmark ? Have they put a return address on the back? Hmmm, maybe you still can't work it out.

The excitement mounts. You open the envelope and realise it's from...... ! There are two sheets of paper and maybe a little something enclosed. You can hardly wait to know what the pages contain, but, you know you have to read them. No skimming over printed text here. This is something beautiful and unique. It's  been thoughtfully created, and crafted by hand, just for you.  You need to ponder over the handwriting, consider the words, and digest the content.

Maybe you need to wait, anticipating until you can sit in comfort with a coffee, so you can read and savour the knowledge that someone, somewhere, has made you feel special, and cared for.

Naomi's class has made me look at things differently. I don't want to give too much away, but she talks about writing and stories; about living in the moment and connection, as well as offering lots of practical advice and some things which are just fun! It was a delight and  lifted me.

I can honestly say since I took this class I've written over 10 letters, sent snail mail all over the world, each with some mail art on the envelopes. I've focused on slowing down to think and write, and connect. It really didn't take me very long. Letters don't need to be 20 page novellas. A handwritten note or a postcard is a wonderful start.

It means something.

I heartily recommend visiting Naomi.  She's encouraged me to become a writer who writes again. Ooh look, a blog post!