It’s been a long time

I cannot believe it has been so long since my last post. Well actually I can. It has been a whirl of activities with lots of craft fairs (lots of making) and running workshops so I found it hard writing as well as doing everything else.

My little one now 5 has started big school. This was a bigger shift than I thought possible. She is growing up. She is also spending more time away during the day so naturally, I started filling time with more crafting, sewing and anything necessary to prepare stock. It is amazing how much needs to be done just to participate to an event. Endless! Lots of fun but… you can end up with an empty tank. That was me in December. The last few shows gone, I finally settled to celebrated Xmas. My husband changed jobs after a period of uncertainty and associate stress but now he is a 10 minutes walk from work instead of a two hours commuting by train(that is when they are running on time or not breaking down altogether). I am now sharing my art room as my desk has been hijacked! OK I have free run of the rest of the house. Still….

So after a longer break than planned, I stared resting after feeling burned out. Now If you knew me, you would know that I don’t do rest. I don’t do “doing nothing”!  My diary used to be filled through and cracks and gaps that would dare to show a free space.

One thing changed though. I changed. Mindfully.Photo-2016-01-11-09-29-01

First I read a book called “Calm”. Beautifully tactile, it was a gem filled with the kind of pictures you see on Pinterest a lot. I started meditation and learnt that it is not what I thought it was. Just breathing, nice long  deep breaths. Then taking the time to notice thoughts, single ones, patterns, habits… I felt refreshed but still low in being able to define “what next?”. This had nothing to do with a new year resolution but rather something within that said I was not happy.

Bullet journaling diary, the end of classic diaries

Bullet journaling diary, the end of classic diaries

I am just coming out of hibernation after a lot of reading, drawing (having re-started drawing after 25 years interruption), and maybe the key feeling happier than I have ever been.

Now this is something coming from within, not looking for acceptance from others by from myself. Creative people can be so harsh with themselves. Trust me, I am one of them and it started when I was a child, when my mind started being non-stop.

It feels quite strange to write again. I know it will become more natural as I write some more but this is a reflection on the journey I have taken as a creative mum.

Someone I know said the media around us feed us a lot of short stories of success. Social media does the same when we get highlights of our friends life. Matching any of that, getting success takes time, work, good days and bad days but sometimes we need to know what is really going on, because we can relate to that and find strength in it.

I am now part of a community on an app called YOU. Beautifully made, it is full of people that set micro-actions to change their life. Don’t know what a micro-action is? Well imagine you want to change something big. Ok break it down in tiny pieces, this is where you will find micro-actions. Change happens beautifully in tiny actions that you make every day. And it is free…

the YOU app

the YOU app

This is one of the many things I have changed since I have started adding mindfulness in my life. But this is the start of another post so keep tuned until I write the next instalment.

Be happy, be safe, be well.

 

With smiles as always

Gaelle by the sea

http://www.gaellebythesea.wordpress.com

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A date with myself

Weird? No. Essential? Yes.

But first, what is a date with myself?

Well. It is time to escape and recharge the batteries, explore and be open to possibilities.

It is taking time out. No dog, friend, kids or phone. Just go and be in the moment.

Be in the moment

I came across this a few months back in a book called the artist’s way by Julia Cameron. A friend of mine told me to get a copy and it started changing my life.

The man thing is that I started looking after the artist within. It was a strange concept at first but I did not count on synchronicity! Taking time out never came easily to me. It was more long lists of things to do and feeling guilty when doing nothing, with that feeling that I should be doing something, anything. Grace Marshall would call it scanning in that clever article (http://grace-marshall.com/diving-deep/ ) and it gave me very little time to dive deep into nature, inspiration and new ideas.

There is this guilt though, almost a nagging voice that loves to remind me to do all these things at home. I wonder where it comes from. Education? The age of technology and multi-tasking that keeps adding tasks to our daily routine? But guess what? Strange and wonderful things happen when I ignore that voice.

So this morning it was my first long day with myself whilst little P. was at pre-school until 3pm. The weather was finally softer and brighter. All I needed was a destination.

The qtearroom in St Agnes

The qtearroom in St Agnes

I did not go very far, just a few miles down the road and my first stop was  cafe called the q tea rooms which also works as a tiny gallery. Just before walking in, I had a look in the studios next door and some ceramic work caught my eye. No name or cards left but… chatting with the owner of the cafe, it turned out she was the artist in question. We exchanged mental notes about laid back wedding, mine just gone and hers in a week. I felt I had made a connection.

The work of Caroline McDonald

The work of Caroline McDonald

What’ s important here is not where it takes me in the future but how an artist date helps me being in the moment. Everything else can wait. This is what makes me wonder why on earth this is not what they are teaching at school. This would be a gift everyone should be able to enjoy whether they are creative or not. Instead a lot of the teaching goes into these subjects that are to me, very remote from making well rounded individuals that will value time to stand back, enjoy unplanned encounters and recharge batteries. So one day at a time, I am learning myself so I can pass this on to my little girl. I know she is much stronger inside than I ever was when I was a child. But somehow, I can see that some of my experiences might be in her already. We can share and enjoy times together. The world can wait!

Upside down

There was silence…

… well on this blog anyway.

So what happened since last time I wrote? As it happens a lot.

The biggest things is that I got married. I said YES!

Me and Adrian said yes, we do!

Me and Adrian said yes, we do!

It was the most beautiful day. We filled the venue with handmade things and wild flowers. I will tell you more later but for now here is one sneaky picture.

I had two weeks before the wedding to get ready after 3 exhibitions back to back, one of them over 4 hours away from home.

Oh yes I was busy creating my new website, another WordPress but this time more specifically designed to promote my work. I will keep hovering between the two because this blog is where I started. I has a special place in my heart and it allows me to write as I please. This doesn’t happen on a website!

So there is much more I want to write but to avoid delays I will stop here and post this and write some more later.

A final thing though, I have just handed a commission today and here is the story www.gaellebythesea.com/?page_id=122

 

I am now the proud owner…

… of a shiny new website! I resisted for a long time whilst I was happy to develop my latest artwork. There is no such thing as waiting for a time that feels right. It needs tweaking, it needs more information and interior design blog tips but that will come soon. For now, it has information about the bespoke lampshades, more about me and 3 exhibitions I am taking part in from the 25th of April so if you have the time visit www.gaellebythesea.com (yes same address as this blog but without WordPress to keep it simple) and drop me a line to let me know what you think.

This is so exciting! New pictures, contents, events… and as if that was not enough my wedding in 6 weeks. Yep, life is busy but creative at every turn! Enjoy. xBlooms detail

The next step is not always easy

A few years ago, when I had to get a website (and had a stash of money behind me), I talked to a friend of mine, Kate (graphic and website designer) and she designed a site I was very proud to own and honed for a few years.

Times have changed though and my friend has now changed career. Tools we have at our finger tips now that did not exist then. Some are beautiful, inspiring and at times like now truly frustrating.

Let me explain. About 4 weeks ago I went on a 2 days course to push me to the next phase of my business. Yes, you guessed it, my homework is to create a website instead of just having a blog. I have put this off for many reasons but the main one is because choosing a platform, a design, a hosting company… (the list is long), this will gobble up a lot of my time and I am already time poor as it is. I haven’t got that elusive stash of money to pay an expensive website so I looked at both Weebly and WordPress.org . First I have to say that if you have never used WordPress you have the .com and .org . my blog is on WordPress .com, works really well and if I am totally honest probably was a bit of a learning curve too at the time. WordPress.org has an even deeper learning curve. So far I have paid for a theme pro I really like, dealt with the designers based in India, battled with the lack of response and when it comes it is unsatisfying. Deciphering their documentation (read this step by step instructions) which is at best incomplete and at times inaccurate! No wonder I was up in the middle of the night last night trying to sort it out. So having finally managed to post a thread on their support forum (even that was not as easy as you would think!), I am now both receiving help from real people, and (shock) at real speed too with positive results. the site has improved but is a mish-mash of the sample site and my information. A real mess. The thing is that it is really hard to change things that are not there. Eh? What? Yes, this is a weird concept to get your head around. I can’t give the link to anyone yet. I can’t put in  place a coming soon page until I am ready to launch and I am considering other themes (designs), some free, some not so watch this space.

Next time you look at a nice website, don’t assume that putting one together that works is an easy job because it is not. I know it will be worth it in the end but in order of keeping my sanity I just had to share what is going on. I guess the frustration is to be so close to something I can see a beautiful window to my work so close and yet so far. Wish me luck! I think this could be a useful post for everyone so feel free to drop in and share your experiences and maybe solutions. Bye for now.

From vision to reality

To me, a few words is all it takes. My brain engages, visuals start coming to me and the main elements are constructed within minutes of a conversation with a client. Then comes the research. How do I make this vision become a reality? This bit is harder and this is where the work starts. Sometimes elements will fall nicely together, but more often than not they will not, like an escape artist which I need to catch, sometimes, at the most unlikely moment. It is not always like making a recipe from precise measures. It is most like tweaking techniques that I used before whilst trying out new ones that fit this particular client or design better. I just know when it happens.

See, recently I have had this idea integrating Siamese fighting fish, swimming gently in a shallow pond in between rocks. I inked paper to add details of lily pads and dew. Stems holding the pads were ready to go. Except that when I starting painting the watery background, I decided to strip my design back to the bare essentials. I kept the hand painted Tyvek rocks with sand and I swapped ink and acrylic for the fish. It became more gentle but at the same time much more powerful. Less is more. I have just carefully applied glue to the rocks to assemble them to the watery backdrop. Tomorrow, I will make the final lampshade. At the time of writing this, I am less than an hour away from having a finished product and photographs I will be able to share with you.

Shallow pond 3

You may think that this process could be much shorter and to the point and sometimes it is. But on some other occasions it is when you start putting elements together that they start making sense … or not. The techniques I use or try hone my style into a more controlled finish that I am happy to hand to a client. Some of these techniques become easier to reproduce so that I can make this design again as part of a standard line. Some techniques I have perfected this week I will be shortly use for a couple of commissions I have started working on. Because whether this is working from my own ideas or making someone else vision, these techniques will surely come in handy at some point.

Shallow pond 1Shallow pond lit

Next time you see a handcrafted piece, functional or not, remember this process. Things do not happen from thin air but require materials, skills, research and “making” time. They also require marketing efforts so that we get the products in places when you can see and maybe touch them. With the best descriptions in the world and a selection of photographs, it will never match the product in the flesh because reality is so much better, It is tactile and textured, details will keep you intrigued for a long time and the result of not rushing this process will be all the difference between mass produced and unique pieces. Come and see me at home or at one of my exhibitions. You will get a warm welcome and maybe a vision of your own you want to make reality… with a little bit of help…

In a child’s mind…

… there are wonderful things, magical things and colours, lots of it. There is nothing that can’t be done. In fact, the world is an open shell where the most wonderful things can happen and they will help in any way they can. Children know what they like. That means they are tricky customers and they like to be involved. So my latest lampshade is for a 4 year old little strong mind, passionate about dogs and rainbow colours. When I started working with watercolours, I painted blobs of colours that happily spread into the fibres of the paper. My little one added a few drops of colour with a carefully applied brush and once done, we had a colourful base to work from. I then worked on some purple, pink and green threads free motion embroidery. I did not have any other brief on this one other than colours and lots of it so it was probably a bit more colourful than some of my recent work but I have to say I really enjoyed making it. I am also very pleased with the result and my little client is happy too. Not bad for a day’s work! Blooms detail So here are some pictures from painting to the final lampshade. Let me know what you think and if you ever consider asking me for a commission, don’t hesitate. This is great fun for all parties involved. BloomsBlooms lit