Friday, 30 May 2014

When Teacher Says You Can't


The other day I sat and looked at my paint covered hands and immediately my mind was awash with the words.....'I hope you are good at your academic subjects because you are useless with your hands!'

I smiled as I shook my head and said to myself...'If she could only see me now....'

When I was about 12 years old, my needlework teacher told me that I was useless with my hands. She said that she hoped I was good at my other subjects because she didn't want me in her class the following year. 

As if I wanted to be doing that for the rest of my school days! I didn't even like needlework anyway....

Now I have had many teachers, who have said plenty of words to me....but none stand out like those... But you know what? Her words never left me. I believed her! I took her word as law and for a very long time I let those words control me. 

I believed that I couldn't do anything useful with my hands and always shied away from tasks that required working with my hands. I know there may be some people who wouldn't believe that today...but yes that was me....

Since moving to the UK in 2001, I have been unlearning and relearning. 

Working in a school at that time exposed me to some pretty amazing teachers from all around the world. One day I commented to the Art teacher, who shall remain nameless, that I was useless with my hands and couldn't draw. She immediately corrected me and said, 'just like everyone can write, everyone can draw...we are just at different stages of learning...' and those are words I will never forget too....

I started doing more things with my hands, got into crafts and even cross stitching (surprise) and I wasn't half bad....I had shocked myself and finally realised that just because I didn't like needlework, didn't mean I was useless. I have grown in confidence and have even stepped out of my comfort zone....I now use paint....for a very long time, I was afraid to use paint in any of my work....now, I love it!

My hope is that the teachers of today don't repeat the mistakes of old, even when the pressure mounts and the stress gets too much at times. Teachers have a huge responsibility and hold a very fragile and precious artefact in their hands....the future generation....
Teach them well...

I suppose I can be thankful for the experience.....it has taught me never to accept the restrictions placed on my capabilities by the ignorance of others. Don't let others tell you your worth....you are worth it anyway....

When I look at what I can do with my hands today, I am amazed at the journey thus far....
I accept that I may not the best....but I'm pretty ok....and that's just perfect...
My one regret is that it has taken me so long to rid my life of the effects of controlling words....


























Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Give and Gain

I've been meaning to post this all weekend....but the weather was great and kept me outdoors....before I knew it...time got away from me and it was Tuesday....

The day: Friday, 16th May 2014 
Occasion: National Give and Gain day

In the UK, give and gain day is a day when employees give up their day jobs to volunteer in community projects. 
The weather was the best it had been in a very long time.  Myself and a few colleagues left the office just after 9 am to make a contribution to this great cause. For some people this was the first time doing a volunteer project and there was some nervousness on what to expect. The journey to the site where we would be working seemed short and before long we were being briefed on the project.

Our task: to clean up a children's play area within grounds of the community centre. 

The equipment showed signs of years of neglect. Algae covered the climbing frames, floor and equipment. We had a huge task ahead of us but we didn't know it - we had underestimated the effort required. At first we were optimistic, there was pleasant banter as we worked and all seemed great until the muscles started taking strain and the sun wasn't as kind...

Signs of frustration, fatigue and annoyance started to rear it's ugly head. But that's to be expected when people have never worked with each other before. Some struggled to maintain high spirits and energy. 

There were times when I got frustrated and thought,  "why don't the people in the community get involved and take pride in the community in which they live?"  Then I remembered the kids who would benefit from my efforts and that set me straight again.

A couple of teenagers walked passed us and laughed at the work we were doing. It annoyed me at first but then I thought about their immaturity and dismissed their ignorance. My only hope is that the example they now laughed at, would resonate in their minds in later years and inspire them to do the same.

After we had washed all the algae off the equipment, we applied two coats of wood stain. We continued with the other tasks before us and eventually finished. Although we were all exhausted, we felt a sense of pride and accomplishment when we surveyed all that was done. 

The gain: For me personally, I got to work with people I hadn't worked with before. Volunteering gives me time to reflect on my own life and the things I take for granted. At one point I needed to direct someone to do something so there were opportunities to exercise communication skills and take the lead in situations. Above all, the sense of achievement, pride and general goodwill go a long way in nurturing our souls with positive energy.

Was is worth it? Absolutely! 
Although the journey back seemed long and dreary and I woke up with aching muscles the next day, it was worth all of the effort. I just think of the smiles that will light little faces when they play on clean equipment and it makes my heart glad.   

I only wish I had taken a photo before we began working to give you a glimpse of what we had accomplished. 








Tuesday, 13 May 2014

A Pretty Mess!

Andy Skinner is one of those people who inspire me to create....

The other day, I watched a video in which Andy demonstrated how to stamp using acrylic paints and as I had never attempted that before, I thought I had to give it a try.....





So out came my Art Journal  and all the acrylic paint I had....I just couldn't decide on which colour to use...

The stamping turned out pretty great, using Andy's technique, and I ended up with some lovely images....I was really very pleased with the result....

I started painting the background between the stamped images....it didn't look half bad....
Then I stamped a big doll face with an dye ink but it kinda got lost among the paint...and didn't show up quite so clearly....

So I went into 'fix-it' mode....

.....but then it all went wrong.....
.....you know when you keep adding stuff and hope it turns out right but it just gets worse by the second?
....that what happened to me....I messed it up completely.....

I reached for my knight in white armour....'Gesso'...and started all over again....

This time I decided to keep it simple.....much better....




























I stamped the roses and leaves with acrylic paint and used watered down paint to drag the colour from the edges of the flower and leaves. 
Next, I outlined the edges of the roses with interference paint to give it a bit of darker edge...

The little yellow flowers and the swirls were outlined from a stencil....I cannot draw, so I have to improvise... 

All in all....I'm happy....I learnt something new and tried it out!



Sunday, 11 May 2014

Art Journalling by Accident

So, I hadn't heard about Art Journalling until December last year...

Every time I would go to the store and get new 'stuff', I would come home and experiment with it in a book that I used specifically for that purpose...
So I ended up with a book full of lovely and not so lovely backgrounds...

I was looking around on YouTube to figure out how I can bring mixed media to my scrapbooks without impacting my photo's....when I discovered Art Journalling by accident...one of those 'good' accidents...

I was so excited that I could use this book to make awesome artwork that I dropped everything and immediately turned to Art Journalling...

I started adding some journalling to my already prepared backgrounds....some I had to add extra elements such as paper to cover up the mess...but most pages, I used as is....


Background
One of the experiment backgrounds before I did anything to it!
It was fun and I was loving every minute of it!

The first ever 'true' Art Journal page I created was using the front cover of my book which had a lovely background....as you can see it's very amateurish...I had no idea what I was doing....just trying it out.....


First Art Journal page
My journey to create timeless memories from imperfection begins...
What I Did
  1. I added some tissue and other paper pieces
  2. Used grunge paste through a stencil
  3. Used stamps for the diamond shapes,  the butterfly and the script text
  4. Added some die cut flower shapes and words
  5. Finished off with a handwritten quote and edged the page with distressed ink

It has been quite an amazing journey....one which led me to the awesome work of Terri Sproul. Terri runs free live art journal classes every Tuesday night through Google+ and teaches different techniques using various mediums....a definite MUST CHECK OUT
If you're like me and can't catch the live sessions....you know those time difference issues.....no worry, you can always catch up on YouTube at your convenience....

Terri has taken a complete novice, inspired me to use mediums I have never used before and turned my Art Journal pages into works of art....all pages below have been as a result of Terri's teachings....






   



   

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Waging War

So I've been eager to start blogging for what seems like an eternity now. 
It all started when I was first introduced to Microsoft's SharePoint and I wanted to share the blogging features with work colleagues but it just seemed that nobody else was interested....
That's sounds like an excuse....truth is I was just scared and didn't feel that I had anything to share!? 

Am I still fearful?....absolutely! Do I have something to share?....ALWAYS!

So why now? 
Basically, I've come to realise that the only person standing in my way is ME! Dreadful...I know....
So I am waging war against my fearful self and just doing it....and today is the first step towards victory.

Through my key strokes I wish to share my many interests and ideas, and hope you will be inspired like I have been, by so many awesome people I've met along my journey....