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I'd love to paint .... but I can't

or ... the reason that I wrote a book and now teach and mentor other artists.

So many people say to me ‘I’d love to paint but I can’t’.

They have such a huge block. Recognising this is there is the most important first step to stepping into, and enjoying your creativity.

Using the psychological insights gained from many years working with change behaviour in adults, I realised that what gets in the way of our creativity is not a lack of skill with paint, no, it’s the stories we make up, and believe, about how we aren’t creative. These stories protect us from our fears – fear of failure, of ridicule, of joy, of selfishness, of strangeness, of scariness, of rejection, of being ‘an artist’ and a whole range of other possibilities that we think we know are there when we say yes to being creative in our lives.

A lot of these fears are not based on any form of facts at all, they are just unexamined stories we have made up for ourselves. These unhelpful beliefs will inevitably get in the way of our creative efforts, so best to try and identify them as soon as possible.

My love of art goes right back to primary school days when she hoped for wet weather at playtime when the children could stay indoors and paint. Growing up in the seventies, I had to choose between an arts or science career path. I wanted to choose art and languages but was told that my drawing skills weren’t good enough so I’d have to take science.

Looking back, the refusal to let me take art at school gave me a great determination to succeed. Science taught me the chemistry of paints and colour and the biology of how we see colour. I also got a basic understanding of psychology which went on to influence my career.

For 15 years I worked full time, whilst bring up a family, and painted in the evenings and weekends, displaying and starting to sell my work at art fairs and shows. In 2007 a serious illness landed me in hospital for three weeks. It took me a while to realise that I was completely burned out. Something had to change and in 2007 I finally understood that I had to give up work. It’s a scary decision; giving up a regular income, final salary pension scheme and the professional status that came with my career.

I was completely exhausted and burnt out. Surprisingly I found that painting actually gave me energy - looking at a blank canvas and not knowing what picture it will turn into is to me really energising.

Becoming a full-time artist was an almost overnight transformation. I couldn’t believe how stubborn I’d been, hanging on to work that clearly wasn’t right for me and was making me both mentally and physically ill.

I can honestly say I haven’t looked back for a day because I am finally doing what I was meant to do.

See my website for deatils of my workshops, groups and 121 mentoring sessions

- for artists wanting to take their art and art career to the next level. Almost like an apprenticeship; and Creative Me workshops to help people of all ages find their creativity and express themselves with paint. “People find a little key into the huge creative well that we’ve all got inside. You can really see them flower and blossom. Most people come because they enjoyed painting when they were young, or are already painting but want to take it to the next level.

I support all my students to prepare themselves with the psychological tools for your creative journey with the same care that you they to choose your paint, this way their creative career path will be smoother and easier. Having ‘an attitude of gratitude’ has been the one constant that has kept me going on my creative path, through hard times and good. This involves actively paying attention to your art, to those around you, to nature, and to the smallest reflection of light on a drop of water. This leads to appreciation; which in turn will lead to gratitude.

Being appreciative in this way encourages confidence, and rather than being fearful of what may happen, we can be relaxed. We are happier and more productive when relaxed and more able to be appreciative, unlike when we are stressed or angry. Pay attention, appreciate without expectation, and creativity will come.

In 2015, in response to the questions asked by students, my book Creative Me - The Joy of Paint, was published. This took me way outside my comfort zone and took three years in all to complete. My publisher gave her three months to complete the first draft. I had to lock my self away in a small cottage in Pembrokeshire for a week so I could work without distraction on what I thought was an almost complete first draft. I ended up completely re-writing the book. It was a challenge and a huge learning experience for me, but it did allow me to summarise and pass on all that I'd learnt about paint, painting and being and artist. An invaluable exercise in focussing myself and really appreciating my own Joy of Paint.


Studio journal

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