Post by Category : Exhibitions

Disillusionment and Creativity

‘Seeing and Seeding’ Photograph by Kirsten Harris


The etymology of the word illusion comes from the word luminare or lumen meaning to light up, too illuminate, to shine brightly. The words illusion and disillusionment are ones that I believe have changed from their original pure meaning.

I am using the word illusion to mean creative light and disillusionment to mean a dimming of the inner light, that creative spark within all of us that is most powerful.

I was musing with a friend as to why I was feeling out of my creative flow. I realised I was feeling disillusioned by many things, people, events and in the main feeling put off proceeding.

As soon as I realised the word disillusioned meant a dimming of inner light, I felt the spark of creativity re-emerging, re-igniting like a pilot light guiding forward. My whole mood lightened up. Fuck it, no-one or no-thing was going to dim my creative light! I am alive now!

One of the meanings of the word illusion is fantasy or vision. If a population is in the main disillusioned we remain passive, obedient, sticking to the status quo. But if we see disillusionment as a calling to bring our inner light of creative visions into a future reality that does not exist yet, we have power. We become master illusionists! We become powerful magicians using our creative minds as instruments of change right now. Having a future vision or fantasy that doesn’t yet exist is, after all, how all creativity, invention and change comes about.

It may feel hard not to feel disillusioned looking at a planet on the edge of crisis and a population that seems, in the main, to only give lip service to caring. We rush around at high speed in airplanes etc consuming, working, doing our bucket list! Or we are stuck simply trying to survive in an expensive consumer society.

I propose it is time for a creative FUCK IT list instead of a bucket list!

Fuck it I am not doing that anymore.

Fuck it I am going say NO!

Fuck it I am going to create a different vision for the future.

Fuck it I am going to speak out.

Fuck it I am going to find simple ways to change things in the environment that I exist in right here, right now.

Fuck it, I am going to love getting creative!

Fuck it no-one is dimming the power of my light!

Our illusions are in fact not so much fantasy but fantastical vision of creative energy where mighty good power lies, where healing occurs and where miracles (may just) happen!

So as individuals and as a population are we illuminated or ill?

This is a magnificent planet of immense shimmering light and beauty. That same light and beauty is within me and within you, within and without. Switching our creative light on one person at a time to be master creators of a healthy future for our planet is what I believe we need to learn do. We need to create healthy visions for our world and share them with each other!

It is time to learn how to switch our inner vision back on!

So VISION ON my friends…

What lights your creativity up and what’s on your fuck it list?

Written with love

K x

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk – Art

www.kirstenharris.co.uk – Alexander Technique

We need bees! Beautiful bumble bee in my garden last summer. LOVE!

In Our Hands

(I shared this originally as a facebook post on my art page Kirsten Harris Art. I wanted to write something to go with the drawing and to write from my heart about horses. I thought I should post as a blog here. I hope you enjoy it. ) 


‘In Our Hands’ by Kirsten Harris

5 Thoughts – 
1. Our hands have immense sensitivity. Can you let your hands be neutral? Do your hands know how to listen to follow your horse or do they control and bully? Do you use your hands to pull at your horse’s sensitive mouth and head? Or do you allow the energy of your heart-brain and the elasticity of your body to move through your hands into a flow of union and connection? 

2. Can you sit in balance on a chair, easily for a prolonged period of time without discomfort? If not, learn to do so before you sit on a horse. You are only bringing your inbalances to your riding and teaching your horse tension otherwise. You will create imbalances. Find your own poise first and then you will find the poise of your horse. It’s magical when it happens and totally worth the work on your self.

3. Horses are teachers for our heart and soul. We have much to learn from them. If you feel anger, frustration or ego around your horse walk away. Take wise counsel, breathe, let go. A horse is not a sponge for your unprocessed stuff. Negative thoughts and emotions do not belong around your horse

4. Be patient and learn to be at ease with yourself. Meditate. Listen. Let go. Horses will teach you about timelessness, unity, flow, courage, the divine, non verbal communication, boundaries, energy… Horses will teach you how to think into the vastness of the universe and the great mysteries. Be patient with yourself and your horse. Learn to get out of your own way to allow the door of knowledge to open. There is plenty of time. It is all you have. Enjoy the process. 

5. It is OK to feel fear. You and your horse are both flight animals. It is not OK to take your fear out on your horse. Let your heart be open and soft. Love your horse with all your heart. Let your ego dissolve so you are pure around your horse. Be a child of wonder and awe in his presence. Be fully present. Enjoy what you are learning and experiencing right now. Don’t compare your journey with your horse with that of other peoples. The journey of ‘should’ and ‘ought’ will only get in your way. You and your horse are both unique and marvellous. Your horse is an honest loving mirror into your essence, your soul in space right now if you dare to peek. Do you love what you see? 

Written and drawn with love
Kx

copyright Kirsten Harris 
www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk – Artwork and prints
www.kirstenharris.co.uk – Alexander Technique

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The Wishing Horse

 

Increasingly my painting and drawing is looking at ways to express ideas about mind-body-soul connection, horses and riding, drawing on my experience as a horse owner and Alexander Technique teacher, as well as hopefully connecting with some of the spiriitual magic and timeless inspirational power that is horses and the lessons we learn from being in their presence.

 

 

The Wishing Horse by Kirsten Harris

Oil on Canvas

 

A girl wishes on a dandelion clock, her wish is focussed on horse magic. All she has ever wished for is a horse. Her hands are open, soft hands, light hands, loving hands, giving hands. Hands that will groom, muck out, lift bales of hay and buckets of water. Hands that will rake and sweep and get calloused through the hard physical work of looking after horses. Yet these hands will also learn to listen, to give, to follow the lightest feel into the forward flow. She blows on the dandelion clock in her hand to wish the horse wish. The magic begins …

 

 

 

Wishing in the Flow by Kirsten Harris

Oil on Canvas

 

The dandelion clocks and seeds represent wishes, the power of intentional thought and timing. Divine timing. Thought seeds are directing from and beyond the open sensing hand. Hands that seem to drop through layers of muscle deeply into the living being finding connections that we never knew existed. Each thought a direct message, a contact, mind to mind, soul to soul, girl to horse. Freedom communicated through the lightest touch, spatial awareness, presence….

 

‘Forward and up, let go, allow, sense the feel, trust’ she thinks …  and up, up the horse takes her into the flow, into the mystery, into poise, into a vastness greater than anything she has ever experienced. Her dreams become embodied. She rides through the light, free as the wind, bravely into the unknown darkness ahead. The horse continues to teach her many lessons. Trusting the truth that the noble honest horse reveals she gives the days of her life to be with these divine creatures …

 

How to Make a Dream Come True

by Kirsten Harris

Available as a print.

Blog about this drawing here

 

The Magic Stop by Kirsten Harris

Available as a print

 

‘The Magic Stop’ was drawn in my minds eye when I woke up one morning. It is about using the breath to stop your horse, to let go and to find the forwards and upwards flow of poise.

 

The girl holds a dandelion clock in her hand representing delicacy, freedom, light hands. Movement, flow, kinaesthetic awareness are ever present even when seemingly standing still. Seemingly doing nothing the girl makes contact through the breath, her thinking and the delicacy of her poise. She learns to ride a stop with nothing but her breath and then ‘forward and up’ she thinks and rides forward into the wind on her breath too.

 

My media downloads too –

Walking with Your Horse  here

Breathe   here

Body Magic  here

Alexander Technique website. www.kirstenharris.co.uk


For original art and prints please visit my art website or contact me www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk 

 

All artwork copyright Kirsten Harris.

 

Best wishes Kirsten

I Love Artists!

What could be better than gathering a group of artists who are scattered across this much over looked part of rural South Lanarkshire and who in the main don’t know each other and putting together an exhibition on a shared theme.

 

This time Tinto, our much loved fire hill, is the source of inspiration in a show at the Tolbooth, Lanark called 36 Views of Tinto, a homage to Hokusai’s famous 36 Views of Mount Fuji.

The last exhibition in October was inspired by the Falls of Clyde – Romance of the Falls.

 

So, a short blog of appreciation for all the artists …

 

What really strikes me about doing a group show with these people, whom I am just getting to know, is what intelligent, interesting, creative, easy going, solution orientated people artists are.

 

Artists are great!

It takes passion and courage to be an artist and a lot of self awareness.

 

To me it beggars belief that folk still think of artists as ‘mad’ and are quite happy to say it to their face, even if it is in jest. I am not being PC here, far from it, but making a point that sometimes we don’t question our assumptions.

 

For more musings in a blog called ‘Mad’ – click here! : )

 

So my thought for this morning is this – the world needs people with these amazing capacities as advisors, inspirers and general ‘earth angels’!

 

I love artists!

 

 

A Conversation at the Picture Framers …

On my recent trip to the picture framers for 36 Views of Tinto Exhibition I had a conversation that I have been thinking about all week. I want to share it –

 

I was helping another artist choose a frame for her painting for the show.

A woman in the shop became involved in the discussion.

She was framing her husbands painting, who she described as one of The Scottish Contemporaries.

My artist friend starting belittling her own painting as ‘only an amateur effort that Kirsten has kindly included in the exhibition, I am not sure why, it’s not very good ….’

The other woman replied – ‘Yes, there are only two kinds of artists amateur and professional’ or words to that effect.

She wasn’t being snobby (well maybe slightly) but she was just stating a perceived truth!

 

‘Is that true?’ …. I thought, and found myself saying what I believe to be true –

 

‘There is only one kind of artist, and that is artists, because as far as I can see everyone puts there heart and soul into their work and that is the only criteria that matters!’

 

Come and see the 36 Views of Tinto Exhibition at the Tolbooth, Lanark if you are in the area – where local artists have put their heart and soul into interpreting Tinto our local much loved landscape feature. Maybe you will find something you want to own. It is going to be a great exhibition!

 

Look forward to seeing you … and by the way, my friends painting is very good and I am sure it will be snapped up!

 

 

Dandelion Oracle

If Wishes Were Horses

 

Dandelion oracle

I blow on your clock

Sending wishes into the wind

Tell me when

Love returns

 

A year and half ago I was in the field next to my house early in the morning photographing dandelion clocks when my mum phoned from Portugal to say that my dad had died.

 

This February I decided to do a drawing a day and see what happened 28 drawings later.

 

As the month started with the full blue blood moon I decided to start the 28 drawings with ideas about the moon and time. Within a couple of days dandelion clocks started to appear. Every day I posted the drawings on my Kirsten Harris Art page on Facebook. On day 16 Something happened that has never happened to me before – the image I shared started to be shared and shared – 662 times in a week. Beautiful ideas for titles were suggested, the most popular being ‘If Wishes Were Horses’ and people started messaging me and writing on the thread. It felt like love was just blowing in on the wind …

 

It seems that I am not the only one with a personal connection to dandelion clocks. This week I have heard moving stories about what dandelion clocks mean to other folk – memories of lost family members, much missed horses, love, happiness, freedom … a spiritual connection resonating with others.

 

It has been a deeply moving week for me, with requests for prints and permission to tattoo the image. Folk have sent me gorgeous photos of their horses, photos they have taken of dandelion clocks, stories of arriving home from exhilarating rides with dandelion clocks attached to them …

 

These seeds on the wind have connected me to other horse lovers world wide. It has been truly amazing and I am utterly grateful to FB and the world wide web for a week that has given me a much appreciated boost and brought joy into my life.

 

Here are the seven images I have chosen for prints which are now available …
I have never made art prints of my art work before so this week has definitely moved me forward as an artist too. I hope you like them

 

Best wishes

Kirsten

 

PRINTS AVAILABLE – These are the eight prints I am getting made. They are a LIMITED EDITION of 100 A4 size and 100 A3. I will hand write the title and hand sign and number each one ready for you to frame. I am happy to write any words you may want to personalise.

 

A4 – £20 and A3 – £30 plus (plus p&p at cost worldwide.)

FREE postage if you buy more than one print!)

 

A4 measures 210 x 297 mm or 8.3 x 11.7 inches.
A3 measures 297 x 420 mm or 11.7 x 16.5 inches.

Printed on high quality white art paper. Posted in a cellophane bag and cardboard backed envelope.

 

AVAILABLE AS BLACK AND WHITE PRINTS (please excuse my photography here)

Please email me if you wish to order any prints kirstenfharris@btopenworld.com

 

1. If Wishes Were Horses

 

2. Sky Horses

 

3. When Dreams Fly

 

 

4. Free Spirits

 

 

5. Flying Horses

 

 


6. Seeds of Love

 

 

7. Transformation

 

8. Equine Lunar Calendar

 

Please email me if you wish to order –  kirstenfharris@btopenworld.com

On Tintock Tap – Symbolism in a Traditional Lanarkshire Rhyme

ON TINTOCK TAP

‘On Tintock Tap there is a mist,

And in that mist there is a kist,

And in the kist there is a caup,

And in that caup there is a drap;

Tak’ up the caup, drink aff the drap

And set up camp on Tintock Tap’

 

 

Tinto, 1/1/2018

 

To me the traditional Lanarkshire rhyme, On Tintock Tap, is less a rhyme and more a riddle full of symbolism, though it could of course be suggesting that there is great wealth buried under the 4 metre high Neolithic/Bronze age cairn which, never excavated by archaeologists, is believed to be the biggest in Scotland.

 

Walking up Tinto I started to think about the meaning of the symbolism in the rhyme, much of which is spiritual symbolism that shows up across cultures and traditions. Here are some musings …

 

Tintock/Tinto – meaning fire hill, is an immediately recognisable and identifiable hill seen for miles within this part of Scotland. Fire is associated with the sun and the stars.  Fire symbolises energy, life, courage, determination, action, risk taking.  The inner light, the inner spark, the divine fire burning within. Fire serves as a beacon and messenger, the light can be seen from afar, especially from the top of a hill. It’s fire is an invitation for people to come together.  Warmth, hope, energy, passion and will power, transformation, transmutation, creation and destruction, creativity and dynamism are all part of the symbolism. On top of Tinto is an enormous man made cairn, who created it and why? Fire also represents home – the home fires and dance – the dancing fire, primal energy, sexuality. (Many think Tinto looks like a giant breast the cairn being the nipple). Fire is made from burning wood. The element of wood is represented by the staff or magical wand and the tree of life. The ancient Beltane festival and the Baal Fire are associated with Tinto – traditionally lit across Britain on May 1st, half way between the spring equinox and Midsummer to bring good fortune and show togetherness, Beltane was a time when cattle were driven out to summer pasture. The simultaneous lighting of fires stretching across the landscape to show the unity and connection of people. Tinto has associations with the seasonal clock.

Tintock Tap – climbing to the top of a hill or mountain symbolises the will to succeed, aspiration ambition, success, reaching your highest potential, a challenge needing energy, higher attainment, a bigger perspective, leadership, a vantage point, self control. Climbing to the top of a mountain is the closest we can get to heaven on earth. Mountains symbolise eternity, constancy, stillness and firmness. Traditionally the mountain is earth and female. The sky, clouds,rain, thunder and lightning are male. (The River Clyde can be seen snaking through the landscape below Tinto. The view from the top is truly astonishing.)

Mist – Mist symbolises a veil, the hidden, the ethereal, the mysterious. What is shrouded in mystery? Mists of uncertainty, clouds, doubts, questions and anxieties, blurred vision, lack of clarity. Mist is a slow drizzle that blurs and distorts our vision and perception preventing us from seeing clearly. Mist can hide something that is real and true but is perhaps not meant to be understood or seen right now by our rational minds. Mists will lift in time. An invitation to leave the analytical ‘male’ aspect of the mind and enter the ‘feminine’ intuitive state on the top of the mountain?

Kist –  meaning chest. A treasure chest, secrets, something that you hold very close to your heart and want to keep safe, the body, the home, security, a container. Here is a mystery within a mystery, the mysterious mist contains a treasure chest with hidden things inside. How do you find the treasure and open the chest? The treasures of the heart.

Cup –  The cup is a a container for the spirit to be held as it pours from heaven to earth. Cups symbolise the spirit, receptivity, the heart, love, emotions, water, the holy grail, (Roslyn chapel is within view!?). Suggesting that the top of Tinto is an important spiritual place. As above so below.

Drop – water, a tear, life itself, a drop of blood, the individual, millions of drops of water to make a river, the river of life symbolised by water, the element of life. Purity and fertility. Rain fall. Cleansing. The emotions. The human body is over 60 percent water. Water is linked to the moon, governing tides. Water is symbolised by cups. Water finds a way … Water takes the path of least resistance to find it’s course. Drinking from the cup to quench a thirst, physical or spiritual?

Set up camp – take the path up the hill to set up camp, to stop! A steep path represents a journey that requires the energy to persevere to reach the look out point. To set up camp is an invitation to stop, to meditate, to look, to be and get clarity, take the time out for your self, to be still, to experience a new or different perspective. A high vantage point from which to plan your journey, your next direction.

 

The astrological  elements are represented in this verse – Fire, air, earth, water,. Where better to study the astrological clock than from the top of a hill.

 

So, to conclude – this traditional rhyme seems to be suggesting to me that Tinto is an ancient place of spiritual and physical importance with a profound message for anyone who wants to seek it ….  And perhaps there really is gold hidden under that giant mound of rocks, after all Wanlockhead the source of the pure Scottish gold of Kings is within sight of Tinto. Who knows … a mystery indeed!

7/1/2018 On Tinto Summit

 

8/1/18 Sunrise over Tinto

 

I am looking forward to painting Tinto for

36 Views of Tinto Group Exhibition at the Tolbooth in Lanark – 16 May – 6 June, 2018

check out the Facebook page 36 Views of Tinto, Exhibition here

 

Thanks for reading this blog.

Kirsten

www.kirstenharrisart.com

 

ON TINTOCK TAP

‘On Tintock Tap there is a mist,

And in that mist there is a kist,

And in the kist there is a caup,

And in that caup there is a drap;

Tak’ up the caup, drink aff the drap

And set up camp on Tintock Tap’

 

 

 

 

Framed for £100!

Do you want to collect art, but don’t know where to start?

Do you want to give someone a really amazing present for Xmas, a wedding or special birthday?

Do you already collect art and want to add to your collection but are running out of wall space?

 

  

Here is a solution –

  • This collection of small seascapes framed for £100. They are like windows to the beach. An attempt to portray a feeling that looking out to sea the view is unchanged … I am seeing what the cave people saw. Our distant ancestors of the neolithic, the bronze age … Perhaps when I paint the sea, I am connecting to my inner cavewoman! Looking inland at the landscape it is changed probably beyond all recognition from that distant past, but gazing to the horizon of the sea, there is a sense of the infinite and the timeless.
  • Small paintings are ideas being worked out, emotions explored, a passion for the sea and the sky – the moving elements captured in paint. Small paintings are intimate and personal.

If you are interested in any of these treasures washed up by the tide of 2017, you might want to check out my blog too.  I wrote over 40 blogs called ‘Diary of an Exhibition’ this year about painting the sea

 

I LOVE THE BEACH  AND I LOVE THESE SMALL SEASCAPES 

All paintings are oil on canvas or oil and sand on canvas and are £100 each, framed with a white frame and gold slip and signed on the front.

 

 

SMALL SEASCAPES GALLERY – FRAMED FOR £100 Click this link to see what is available. 

 

Email me if you see anything you like …

kirstenfharris@btopenworld.com

Postage worldwide will be charged at cost.

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Postcard from Lanark

I just wanted to write a short blog to sum up the Romance of the Falls exhibition.

When I started this project I bought a postcard on ebay, for £3.

Not wanting to promote any one persons work for the group exhibition I needed a strong image for the poster.

 

The postcard had been sent from Lanark to Calais in 1923.

It reads on the back –

Spending the week-end here. A lovely place. Think you would like it. Love Nessie

 

 

Nearly 100 years later, the postcard became the poster for an exhibition, the Facebook banner, the invitation and was screened on the interactive display on the high street.

 

I love that this simple, thoughtful greeting from Lanark was kept all those years and got a whole new lease of life, finding its way back from France to Lanark!

Butterfly effect through the ages …

 

In 1923 Lanark and the Falls of Clyde were still a tourist destination. I challenge you to find a postcard of the Falls for sale in Lanark today!

That is because the hydro electric stole the power of the Falls shortly after this card was sent and Lanark as a tourist destination fell into decline.

 

The landscape around the Falls of Clyde is till under threat.

Please check out this Facebook page

 

Save Our Landscapes – New Lanark/ Falls of Clyde

 

For over 200 years visitors, artists, poets and writers flocked to the Falls of Clyde. It would be wonderful to think in 200 years time the same thing is happening. It was a wonderful summer with the falls in full power. I would LOVE to see them like that all the time. I think it would be very good for the area and put Lanark back on the must go map!

 

Please like the Facebook page

 

Save Our Landscapes – New Lanark/ Falls of Clyde 

 

(sorry the link not active, you will have to cut and paste onto Facebook to find the page!)

 

Best wishes

Kirsten

 

 

 

 

Have you ever thought about investing in a dream?

EPSON MFP image

Have you ever thought about investing in a dream?

My current dream goes like this –  I want to make more Alexander Technique inspired cartoons next year and I want to plant trees, to do my bit for this beautiful planet we live on! I also want to engage children and teenagers with the Alexander Technique thought processes, so that is simply something that they naturally know from a young age.

I am an artist and Alexander Technique teacher and I have been slowly working away creating images that hopefully express AT in a fun way. A task that I find exceedingly challenging, but very engaging.

One teacher, phoned to ask to use one of my cartoons to promote teaching the technique within the BBC. She said  ‘The Alexander Technique needs more images with a sharp wit like these.’ Amazing feedback!

Another teacher said I was wasting my time making art to promote Alexander Technique, that people simply were not interested!

If I am wasting my time, so be it! I care about Alexander Technique with a passion. It can so simply and profoundly transform peoples lives. It transformed mine. If I can do a wee bit to bring it into peoples field of attention via a cartoon or a verse or something else, yippee! To me that attempt is not a waste of time – it is my dream.

What do you think?

This is my latest project. The Daily Ease – A Walk in the Woods.  An Alexander Technique inspired colouring story book for children and adults. All profits will be used to plant trees.

It is the sort of thing as a child I would have loved, and I think would have given me a ‘heads up’ on some useful thinking that might have kept me out of trouble in more ways than one!

If you have ever thought about investing in a dream, perhaps you will think about buying one of these. You can enjoy the black and white images as they are, colour them in, read the stories and AT inspired ideas contained within to a child, enjoy them yourself, give as a gift or know that a tree has been planted.

To buy click here

 

Free postage in the UK, please email me for international postage. kirstenfharris@btopenworld.com

Many thanks, Kirsten

fullsizeoutput_15f1

‘Feeling a Bit Prickly!?’ detail from ‘The Daily Ease – A Walk in the Woods’

 

Kirsten Harris 001

‘News – Skeleton Slumps at Screen!’

FB logo for The Daily Ease – Alexander Technique.

Organising a Group Exhibition

The last few months has been filled with organising Romance of the Falls exhibition in Lanark, and I loved it!

 

It has been a tremendous opportunity to meet other artists and locals in the community. As a self employed artist working from home it is easy to find oneself isolated. I no longer feel isolated. I feel connected to some great people.

 

The 3 arty parties we threw for the exhibition saw not only artworks bought but friendships formed. Like minded folk connecting. Be that artists with other artists or art lovers getting a chance to meet the artists and vice versa. It’s been great! The feedback has been really positive.

 

Today is the last chance to see the morphed exhibition – Artists Choice.

 

A big thank you to everyone who has exhibited or visited and especially those who have bought art work.

 

A massive thank you to Ian Leitch for his continuous tireless and voluntary work at the Tobooth and support of this exhibition. You’re a star!

 

Much love Kirsten

www.kirstenharrisart.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art, Bamboo Glasses and a Foul Mouthed Pub Landlady

Last night at the exhibition opening of Seascapes at the Old Chain Pier in Edinburgh, stories were told about the eccentric landlady who presided there in the 50’s and 60’s. Her family had owned the pub since the turn of the century.

 

My friends mum and dad, revealing how they went on their second ever date to the Old Chain Pier 55 odd years ago, reminisced.  Last night was their first time back…

 

Apparently Betty Moss was a character and a half, always resplendent in oriental costume and bamboo glasses. She swore like a trooper, shot a gun to the ceiling to call last orders, swung a cutlass over her head to deal with rowdy customers and told everyone to ‘fuck off children’ at the end of the night. It was a sailors pub and she was in charge! 50 years later she is still talked about, her photo, found by the present owner in the cellar, hangs above the bar.

 

 

(Betty Moss – check out the earrings!)

 

Back then every inch of the pub walls were covered in postcards from all over the world. There was no picture windows to the amazing sea view! I guess sailors don’t want to look at the sea whilst drinking a pint and a nip. In fact everything about the inside is different, yet the memory of Betty Moss lives on.

 

Later in the evening my friends gave me ‘how to’ instructions on a contemporary kind of postcard,Instagram, wondering why as an artist I hadn’t made use of this ‘postcards to the world’ form of communication to show my paintings.

Um, no answer apart from not knowing how to do it! Dah!

So I was given a brilliant impromptu masterclass from a professional marketeer, the art director of an ad agency and someone who has 1000’s of followers on the said platform… WOW! Thank you guys, I hope it all went into my brain. Brilliant stuff.

 

I wonder what Betty Moss would make of the social media conversation? By the sound of her she would have embraced it long since, have made big ripples in new medias and be talked about all over the world!

 

Hmmm ….. where are my bamboo glasses?

 

 

 

 

Exhibition on until the end of January.

Framed seascapes from £100

check out my website… www.kirstenharrisart.com

 

‘My Walls are Too Small!’

‘My walls are too small for a big painting!’

 

It’s a comment I hear a lot and it always makes me laugh. I look at the person and think, ‘What a load of rubbish, you don’t live in a hobbit hut!’

 

So here is my low down on why ‘my walls are too small’ is not true!

 

  • It may just be a matter of education, you may never have tried a big painting on a wall and so have no idea how amazing it will look, so are possibly assuming your walls are too small.
  • Did you know that a big painting in a small room will make the space look bigger?Breaking up the space with lots of small paintings can actually make a room look smaller.
  • A big painting adds wow factor to a room. It can save decorating. Just hang a big painting and bobs your uncle, you have impact. I am not a fan of rooms with a TV a sofa and white walls, the so called minimalism. Add a big painting and your room will suddenly have a heart!
  • Most ceilings are much taller than you! (I will make an exception for very tall folk entering low ceilinged ancient cottages) Most big paintings won’t be taller than you. Therefore your walls are definitely not too small!
  • If you buy directly from an artist most artists will be more than happy to let you try before you buy. I am like to hang a painting for someone who is interested in my work and try different wall positions to see if the painting is going to work in the space,  with absolutely no obligation to buy. So do ask. In fact my sister would say I should come with a warning as I will probably help you rearrange the furniture too!
  • On the subject of redecorating – if you are redecorating think about choosing the art work first then the wall colours after. It’s logical if you think about it!
  • A big painting can add structure and cohesion and flow to the look of a room, pulling all the elements together. By the way you can hang oil paintings in bathrooms.
  • And here is a radical thought, it is ok to take paintings down and put new ones up. I rotate my paintings all the time creating a new vibe in the room instantly!

 

So, go on … I dare you, think about being bold and buying a big painting. A big painting needn’t be more expensive and your walls are probably certainly not too small!

 

 

Wind and Sea and my hair being buffeted by the weather! – SOLD

A Falling Romance – SOLD

 

 

A big painting and some handsome men!

SOLD

Michael Douglas and a big giraffe painting … Genius me, I managed to get both him and the painting out of focus! I think I was too excited by having him at my exhibition! What an incredibly nice man. He loved the giraffes ….

 

There is another big giraffe painting hanging at the Tolbooth in Lanark this week.

 

Two upcoming private views – this week

 

 

and now for something completely different here is a link to my colouring book – I love it! Xmas pressie idea …

The Daily Ease – A Walk in the Woods  Colouring Story Book HERE

 

My Colouring Book

How about a giving a gift of planting a tree via a colouring book this Xmas?

At the same time you will be sharing a a healthy dose of Alexander Technique and mindfulness nature wisdom …

 

If that sounds appealing you have nothing further to do than click here and buy The Daily Ease – A Walk in the Woods, my Alexander Technique inspired colouring story book.

 

I am super proud of it – it is hand drawn and written with love inspired by walking in the woods with my dog Maisie. All profits will be used to plant trees, so please do consider supporting this environmental/educational project.

 

Front and back cover .. showing details of drawings inside…

 

  • ‘A very beautiful combination of writing and pictures’ John, AT teacher
  • ‘It’s making me want to go for a walk … That’s amazing in itself!’ Dougie
  • ‘Within the Words and magical illustrations are lots of wonderful reminders of the wisdom and teachings of the Alexander Technique. It is a delightful, gentle, joyous book of wisdom for all ages.’ Sally

 

The Daily Ease – A Walk in the Woods buy here! 

(sample pages when you follow link)

 

Please ignore the bit on the link that says local pick up only. I haven’t figured out how to change it!

Free postage in UK.

Please email me for costs to post abroad.

kirstenfharris@btopenworld.com

 

I hope to hear from you

 

Love Kirsten and Crazy Maisie dog x

Maisie walking int the woods in Scotland

 

 

If you love art you will adore an open studio …

Every year all over the country artists open their studios to the public.

This is a fantastic chance to buy directly from an artist. It is a win win situation for both artist and art lover. Here is why …

 

  • No commissions to pay to middle men aka galleries, art websites etc. This means that the artist does not have to add money to the price of the artwork to allow for commission, meaning that you the buyer can purchase the work at a better price.
  • The artist gets to meet you the buyer. Over the years many of the people who have bought my work have become great friends! Why? Because we share a similar vibe as evidenced by the art that we both like. Some unspoken, unquantifiable, joyous link is established. When you buy through a gallery or a website the opportunity to make that connection is not there. It is huge loss.
  • From an artists point of view it is absolutely brilliant to get feedback, positive or otherwise from your visitors. You learn so much by folk coming to your studio. Don’t be shy to talk to the artist about their work. It is also brilliant to know who has bought your art. Having put your heart and soul into the art work, to not know who has bought it is a little bit sad.
  • Open studios are often in the artists home. Visiting you get to see what influences the artist, how they live, what they surround themselves with, the environment the work is made in. Very famous artists studios have been known to be dismantled intact and rebuilt in a gallery situation after their demise! I can think of two examples local to me. Ian Hamilton Findlay’s amazing garden Little Sparta is now an out post of the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens. I was lucky enough to meet Hamilton Findlay and look around his garden before his death. Link to Little Sparta Trust here. Also Leith born artist Eduardo Paolozzi’s studio has been rebuilt in the Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh Link here.
  • An artist will want to find you something to sell at a price you can afford! Trust me on this! It is such a good feeling when someone want to have your work in their home, it gives you impetus to keep on creating. At an open studio you will see work that you won’t find on websites or in galleries. Ideas, work in progress, sketch books, unframed masterpieces … you will find treasures!
  • The artist will be delighted to see you. It is a lonely business being an artist. Folk paying an interest in your work is amazing. You will probably get a cuppa or a glass of wine or a bit of amazing home made cake!
  • It is a great day out. These days artists  often collaborate to make a yearly artist trail in their area. My open studio this weekend is part of the Biggar Little Festival.
  • www.kirstenharrisart.com

Open Studio – Up Cycled Danishly

I have been working towards Up-Cycled Danishly for over two years.

That is, painting furniture and doing seascapes for the walls.

This open studio I have achieved it the look I was after… It is not quite a fabulous as I hoped due to lack of space, so everything is a bit  crammed, but mission accomplished!

The idea was to up-cycle furniture in an antique Danish peasant style, as inspired by my Danish grandmother, and combine the furniture with seascapes. A look that reminds me of my childhood and one that I have always loved. I have a few inherited pieces of painted furniture so decided to add to the collection. My rule was to take solid pieces of furniture and improve them, rather than just make them look different. They were to look old and as though they were meant to be that way.

 

Bizarrely the  best brush I found for painting the motif details was a Japanese sumie brush, designed for painting on rice paper not wood. But it worked.

It has been a huge amount of work. Painting furniture is a slow business.Also bulky! My house is now beginning to be rather, um, full! Time to let go and sell a few pieces to create space to keep painting.

 

In order to set the room up I have turned my painting studio aka the garage into a dump. Anything that doesn’t go with the look has been put in there. OMG, total mess! But hey ho, a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do, and being a finisher/completer type (so a human resources friend once told me) Up-cycled Danishly it is.

 

Essentially the look is striped upholstery and rugs, roses and other flowers, hearts and birds as motifs, colour schemes blues, greens reds …

 

Carnwath, the nearest village to me, prides itself on being the village in Scotland furthest from the sea, which to my mind says nowhere in Scotland is very far from the sea! But oh to now transport the work to an old farmhouse on the coast with lots of space to see the pieces in interior design vignettes as opposed to squashed together.   In the meantime here is is in South Lanarkshire –  Up-cycled Danishly.

I hope you like it. All work is for sale.

 

Up-cycled Danishly

Next weekend … 28-29 October

My house …

Coffee and Danish biscuits and a warm welcome …

 

Berry Knowe Cottage, Westsidewood, Carnwath, South Lanarkshire. ML11 8LJ

Phone me for directions – Kirsten 07711 903537

Or by appointment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disappointment, Destruction and Recreating

The last ever trip I did with my dad before he died was to go and see a field shelter that I wanted to buy for my ponies. Here it is

Sadly within a few short months it started to collapse as the arches were built out of unsuitable material. I phoned the guy who built it who came and stuck a bit of wood in the middle saying ‘I didn’t realise it was this bad’ and promised to come back and fix it. He did not. Nor did he answer my phone calls. I felt so disappointed having saved up for a year to buy it.

So I paid someone to take it down as I was scared of it collapsing on my ponies and felt really upset. A pile of timber sat in my driveway for several months.

 

This summer a retired friend offered to help me to rebuild it, reusing as much of the wood as possible. Tears came to my eyes when we got the bones of the structure up as it felt enormously healing. Recreating something ten times more solid – I know dad would be really cheered.

Here is the finished shelter …

 

So despite being really upset about the lack of response and the shoddy workmanship of the original arc here is what I learned …

 

I learned about the art of hammering, with a free neck and a free wrist, letting the momentum of the hammer do the work.

I learned about the kindness and pure goodness of people  ‘I am not doing it for you, but for the ponies so they have shelter in the winter’.

I learned about patience. The original arc was erected in a morning. Our shelter took us many days, making sure that the structure was entirely solid from base up.

I learned about pacing yourself when doing a big job like this. Work away with awareness and consideration and a structure will emerge and you won’t ache.

I also wondered whether in the long run it is entirely more satisfying to make something yourself than to buy off the peg!

 

My friend tells me that I would now be able to build a shed myself, though I am not entirely convinced, but I do have a much better sense of construction having gone through this.

 

The tortoise and the hare story springs to mind.

We got there and the ponies LOVE it!

 

 

 

 

 

Wonderful World

Imagine an art gallery in an industrial unit?
The sort of place you might go to have your car MOT’d!

This is Resonate Arts House in Alloa and I love the space!
An artists dream in fact – big wall spaces, well lit, run by art historian Clark, whose passion and knowledge of the visual arts is contagious.

 

Mini Rant coming up! …

To be truthful a gallery run by an art expert IS totally wonderful to me! One of my gripes over the years is that most gallery spaces are basically shops, that you the artist hand over free stock to. Usually run as a second ‘nice wee income’ by the wife of an accountant or such like. There is no real interest in the thinking behind the art, the process or the artists development, just how much money are they going to be able to make selling your work! Yes that is commerce, I get it, but it is very limiting for the artist in many ways and not at all exciting. OK moan over!

To have someone who is actually interested in the work itself in it’s own right is flipping fantastic and very unusual! That is Clark and that is Resonate Arts House, putting the development of the arts right into the heart of the community. It is so much more interesting to be able to discuss your work with the public and get critique and comments good or bad, than just to hand it into a gallery with no feedback whatsoever.

 

Wonderful World, is an exhibition of oil paintings and drawings on show at Resonate over the next month. The name was chosen not only because Louis Armstrong’s Oh What a Wonderful World is one of my absolute favourite songs ever, but to describe the passion I have for painting. In fact I seemed to have rather ‘over egged the pudding’ for this one as I have somehow managed to make rather a lot of work.

 

This week is wonderful week.

Romance of the Falls exhibition also opens in Lanark. My first go at organising an ‘artist led’ group exhibition at the fabulous 15th century Tolbooth. It makes me smile as, recently refurbished, the Tolbooth now describes itself as ‘community arts hub since 1590!’ Love it …. um, amongst other things it used to be a prison!

 

Here are a few of my favourite paintings for the Wonderful World Exhibition in Alloa

 

 

and Romance of the Falls

Monkey at a Waterfall

‘A Falling Romance’ Oil on Canvas, 100 x 150 cm

 

Painting on a large scale involves using your legs.

 

Not only do you stand at the easel but in Alexander Technique speak you have to use your monkey. That is to bend at the hips and knees to get into deep squats. Monkey is a must if you are not going to end up with back ache as a painter of large canvases. (An Alexander Technique teacher will show you how powerful your monkey is!)

 

Walking back into your back to get a distance perspective also helps. Walking backwards away from the easel is a chance to connect the arms deeply into your back to flick paint, smear, scratch, dab and throw paint as you move forward and up again into the painting.

 

Staying active up and out of the hips, legs and feet to move while you work is also essential. Move with the paint to let it flow.

Dance like a butterfly, paint like a bee!

 

This style, as used in ‘A Falling Romance’ could be described as action painting or whole body painting. It is exhilarating, gestural, fun and messy. A bit like pogo dancing at a punk concert –  you just have to let go, go for it and not really care!

 

Inevitably beautiful passages of paint get lost in the craziness of the process.

Creativity, destruction, flow …

Let’s go…

 

If you want to let go more in your creativity adventure with a bit of Alexander Technique thinking thrown in, why not sign up for my free creativity e-course.

It’s fun – 8 emails over 8 days to get you thinking a little differently … hopefully!

It may be a good place to start and was written with love … link below

 

 

In the meantime –  here is a monkey (ok a chimp)

Darwin, Oil on Canvas, 40 x 50 cm

 

Link to my free creativity e-course below

To start learning Alexander Technique click here

 

 

 

 

 

An Ashtray and the Inspiration behind Romance of the Falls Exhibition

I smoked as an art student. Nearly all of us did. It was the 80’s after all and we thought we were cool. What we didn’t realise was that the ashtray we were casually flicking ash into was worth a million quid! Now that’s cool!

 

Professor David Hill, the world renowned Turner expert and author, was our art history lecturer at Bretton Hall College in the 80’s. Every class from cave painting to the High Renaissance, from pop art to pointillism, David Hill would find a way to bring Turner into the conversation.

 

As a first year I hated Turner, and with artist Jane Tomlinson took a pop at Turner by writing a joke essay about a fictional Mrs Turner and handing it in. Anything to argue against the revered man. By the third year I was converted and wrote my degree thesis on the Turner Prize.

 

David Hill wrote a book called In Turner’s Footsteps, so of course the big inspiration behind gathering a group of artists for the Romance of the Falls Exhibition at the Tolbooth, Lanark 12 October – 12 November is to follow in Turner’s footsteps drawing inspiration from the Falls of Clyde. Ever since I have visited the Falls I have thought ‘I am walking in Turner’s footsteps’, seeing what he saw. An idea for an exhibition has been brewing for several years. David Hill

 

For the million pound ashtray story and David Hill’s discovery here is a link to his website … well worth a read, quite amazing.

The Bretton Hall Marbles: #1, The Ashtray and the Million Pound Plant Pot

The Royal Academy of Arts in Edinburgh have kindly allowed us to  reproduce Turner’s Falls of Clyde painting as a postcard which will be on sale at Romance of the Falls, Contemporary Art at the Tolbooth, Lanark 12 October – 12 November.

 

Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775 – 1851)

The Falls of Clyde 1801

 

A Falling Romance – work in progress …

Detail from a much bigger oil painting’ A Falling Romance’ work in progress  ….

Looking down onto Cora Linn …

Looking across to Bonnington Linn

 

An old postcard looking up to Bonnington Linn.  Details of the upcoming exhibition

 

In the days when The Falls of Clyde was on the ‘must paint’ list for artists, visitors were able to get to the base of Bonnington Linn to paint the scene.  There was also a little red iron bridge, now unusable, over one of the cascades to the rocky island in the middle where the two falls separate, which housed a temple. The island is covered in trees so I have no idea how much remains.

 

The experience of the waterfalls then must have been more intense. Coupled with the fact that since the 1930’s the hydro electric has ‘stolen’ the water, subverting it though the power station. My guess is that action alone caused the Falls of Clyde to fall off the ‘must see’ list!

 

Unbelievable luck for this group of contemporary artists ‘Romance of the Falls’ as coincidentally the river have been running in it’s full glory again all summer due to repairs to the substation. So, in part, we have been able to see what Turner, Wordsworth, Naismyth, Burns and countless others greats saw. The left hand cascade on the old postcard is now-a-days usually dry, though not at the moment, so go soon if you get a chance.

 

Researching the history, I found an old etching by a nameless etcher.

 

I decided to imagine myself into the view from below, using the etching as inspiration. Many of the romantic paintings and engravings of the past show naked nymphs prostrate at the base of the cascades too. Not a naked nymph in site during my walks in the beautiful woodlands by the Clyde this rainy summer so decided against nymphs!

 

I began and soon realised what a flipping difficult task painting a waterfall is. I don’t want to paint a portrait but somehow portray something about flow, power, movement, energy, growth in a semi abstract way.

Water coming from the sky, over the falls and into the earth.

Wow and I thought painting seascapes was hard!

 

The first layer of paint came out as a pretty but fantasy-like waterfall picture. Hmmm, ok, but not what I had in mind… more walks …. more layers of paint …. more and more respect for the unknown etchers level of detail and truth about the landscape ….

 

To be continued …

 

 

The White Elephant and Treasure

The White Elephant, Oil on Canvas, 150 x 100 cm

 

I remember as a 5 years old at a village fete being totally fascinated by something called The White Elephant Stall. Where was the white elephant? And why a white elephant? It was the best stall as it was full of interesting stuff and weird objects.

 

I have just googled the origins of the expression and so it goes – the Kings of Siam gave such animals as a gift to courtiers they disliked, in order to ruin the recipient by the great expense incurred in maintaining the animal.

 

The title The White Elephant came to me towards the end of painting this huge canvas when I added a tiny calf. Despite the fact that the painting is mainly magenta, purple and cerulean blue, the focal point of the painting is the tiny white elephant lit by the moon and the river.

 

I have painted the theme of elephants at a water hole before (see blog ‘Why Do Artists Repeat Themselves?’) inspired by seeing a huge herd at the river in Chobe, Botswana on a camping trip with mum and dad. An amazing wonderful never to be forgotten sight that I love returning to in my imagination.

 

So to collecting treasure – art and stuff …

Art is subjective. As well as elephants, you would definitely have to love magenta and want to make a big statement in a room to own The White Elephant. A painting you love may not appeal to someone else. One person’s treasure is another persons white elephant. Exciting.

 

Car booting is a favourite Sunday morning expedition. Treasure hunting in a field, Maisie gets lots of attention and dog biscuits from kindly fellow treasure hunters, who like me are gleefully clutching their new white elephants.

 

This summer I seem to have been making a collection of wooden boxes, I even found one with an elephant carved onto the lid. I don’t know why I am drawn to collecting boxes at the moment and I don’t really care, stables for white elephants perhaps, new treasures yet to be found.

 

Time to get up and go to the car boot, a walk at the Falls of Clyde then back to the studio for the rest of the day to work on a huge waterfall painting ….

 

Link to The White Elephant painting here

 

Make Art Not War – Weapons of Mass Creation

At art school a tutor commented that my brushes looked like they had been at war. A comment that stuck with me, but I did not really understand.

 

Twenty years later whilst painting I was listening to a Radio 4 programme on post traumatic stress disorder, previously known as shell shock and realised that I had grown up with a father with shell shock. A man blown up in Cyprus working for Special Forces. It came as a shock to me. A revelation – of course why had I not seen it before!? It was so totally obvious. The programme went on to talk about secondary PTSD, that growing up with someone suffering these conditions the child could/would inherit a version of the condition.

 

Another ten years have passed, I have done nothing with this knowledge apart from to consider it and be utterly grateful that I discovered Alexander Technique at the age of 24 beginning the process of letting go of holding within my system and understanding the incredible power of transformation that our thinking and awareness holds for us. The past thirty years without Alexander Technique seems totally unimaginable!

 

My dad died a year past, and I have been painting solidly as a way of coping with my grief and the shock and the freezing of my surface emotions that came with his revelation of cancer and painful passing. The only way I have been able to let go is to paint, unable to cry and with no-one about to hold me or comfort me, I channelled my whole self into art, painting and writing. (Having been a person who cries at Lassie movies my entire life this inability to cry really surprised me.)

 

It came to me the other day whilst painting that what I have been doing since a little girl, when I would hide in my bedroom and paint, is channelling war – channelling the aftermath, turning destruction into creativity, finding a way to stay me and hold my course, be in my life line, despite the reverberations, the echo waves, the explosions, the untransformed shock that these soldiers hold within, past war scenes and battle fields that would leak into a suburban household.

 

I stopped painting last week, suddenly utterly exhausted. I come out of this phase with the thought that my paintbrushes are my weapons of mass creation and that artists are totally necessary for our beautiful planet right now.

 

Please create –  find ways of expressing your self, your ideas and inspirations, making connections – channeling what comes through you, listening deeply. Our job as artists I believe is to allow beauty, inspiration, truth, light, hope, healing, power, passion, the good stuff to shine through us.

 

So my war cry is – art warriors of the world rise up!

I truly believe your unique contribution is needed right now!

Enough of this nonsense about artists being mad or self indulgent or your art not being good enough. Art is healing on many many levels and this planet could do with some of that, the more the better methinks …

 

(written with love and tears)

 

Alexander Technique link

Artists Statement

As a painter my interest lies primarily in the process of painting – brush strokes, mark making, colour – the surface texture of paint, the flow of a line, the feel …

 

However, what lies behind the feel, flow and joy of painting is something I have started blogging about this year. That is, how my training as an Alexander Technique teacher influences my artwork. An influence much like the wind over the water that creates a wave … the breeze rustling the leaves of a tree … that invisible influence that changed my life and art. The awareness that the direction of my thinking influences me as I paint.

 

I am becoming more and more interested in what blocks and what allows creativity – yours and mine. I have been writing about it in my blogs on my website. The blogging becoming an important part of my art process this past year.

 

How does our thinking and sense of ‘self’ affect our artwork and creative minds?
I am sure the world needs unblocked creative thinkers right now!

 

An open flowing in the moment awareness and conscious balancing psycho-physical presence at the easel reveals something that is both palpable and recognisable to the viewer but at the same time mysterious and somewhat undefinable.You know ‘it is there’ but can’t quite put your finger on ‘it’ …

 

That mysterious thing was pointed out to me many years ago at an exhibition. Most of my paintings had ‘it’ a few didn’t. The visitor took me around my own exhibition and asked me what I had been thinking about and it struck me that she was absolutely right, the ones where I was truly present, without trying hard or thinking about the end result had a quality that was missing in others. They had it factor!

 

Since training as an Alexander Technique teacher in 1993 with the late Don Burton, my artwork has flowed. The unblocking of my ‘self’ and return to an easier balance allowed art to move through me, without me getting in my own way all the time. It is of course an ongoing challenge that keeps me going into the studio day after day. Life can be tricky and unhelpful habits can re – emerge. The question, how to stay in the flow, keeps the process of painting interesting and engaging.

 

As well as ‘presence’, another theme running through much of my work is portraying movement. I am moving at the easel, the natural world I am portraying is moving too! Kinaesthetic awareness in a ‘static’ painting. Seascapes have become the latest challenge to express this interest. The ephemeral quality of the sea and sky provides a huge challenge.

The sea is constant yet moving, light changing and influencing the vision and moment.
The body of water a metaphor for my own body, the light – the living soul.

How can I express the beauty and magnificence of what I see and feel?
A question that I will be working on for a long time.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Kirsten

 

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk – art blog, free creativity e-course
www.kirstenharris.co.uk – alexander technique blog – the daily ease

 

 

 

 

Writing a blog is better than talking to yourself!

Cartoon of negative chatter that gets in the way of creativity

 

I have been writing blogs! And it is interesting to me because it has now become part of the creative process. A bit of a revelation really and something I would recommend to any artist. Totally vulnerable making for sure, but it moves you through your ‘not good enough’ stuff and other unhelpful habits the moment you press PUBLISH. You move forward, learn about your process and despite blogging being solitary, as is painting, it is a fantastic way of connecting with people and the feedback is incredibly useful. Blogging has become part of my creative flow. I would never have thought in a million years that I would become a blogger! Blog on!

 

I am a painter and an Alexander Technique teacher, not a writer, but the challenge was set about a year ago to see if I could write about how AT influences and impacts on my art. It does for sure but writing about it?

 

So the title of this blog – well AT people and painters talk to themselves!

As an Alexander Technique passionista I am using my conscious thinking to maintain an easy upright stance. An internal and external present moment engagement. Helpful thinking that brings me to an easier loving sense of balanced self which is turn helps my painting!

 

As a painter there is a dialogue about which colour next, which mark, which brush to use … following the journey in something I am loving doing. The more I am loving the moment in paint and really comfortable in and with myself (thank you AT for changing my life) the better the result. People see something that they relate to.

Talking to myself in an AT way as I paint causes something to flow that works much better for me AND the artwork.

A line becomes an image becomes a day engaged in the present moment being creative and balancing in the ‘tension’ of it.

 

A bit like learning to drive … at first it is exhausting being so aware and concentrating on the road, but as you become proficient it becomes an easy habit. Painting with AT thinking driving the creative process is a habit for me. Folk come and visit and say ‘You have so much work!’ … as though it is not right! But what interests me is how artists get into the creative flow – unblock and become prolific.

 

I look at my paintbrushes( which do look as though I have ‘been at war’ as a tutor remarked way back at art school, nothing has changed there then!) and think – these are my weapons of mass creation! Surely that is what the world needs right now MASS CREATION. Individuals who are in the creative flow. Not locked up tight slumped in front of the TV thinking they are not good enough, not talented, not an artist in any way, filling in time with other peoples creative production instead of bringing their unique creativity out into the world!

 

So I will continue to talk to myself in my art stream and enjoy the moments of shared positive up flowing connection that the blogging brings too. Another creative layer, the writing informing the art from within and without.

It can be lonely being an artist … blogging connects.

Amazing world!

 

(Interestingly the more I write about art and AT, the more crazy it seems that I have two separate websites, one for the art and one for the AT! www.kirstenharrisart.com and www.kirstenharris.co.uk)

 

 

 

Looking Through Your Eyes

The process of painting is fundamentally abstract – colour brushed onto surface.

So why are artists driven to abstraction? What is the motivation?

And does a painting gather energy – become real, gain a life force, by being seen by you?

Does a painting actually exist if no-one looks at it?

 

I have a theory that paintings gather energy over time by being looked at, until images, take Van Gogh’s sunflowers, become part of our consciousness. The dialogue that Vincent had with oil on canvas becomes a time and space that we share with him and part of our own visual language. The past act of painting becomes our present. It is simply there in our minds. Images to fall into. Spaces to contemplate and inhabit and mind about.

 

It is all a bit quantum and no science based arguments here … but I believe the act of looking at art has something very magical in it. Do paintings exist if no-one looks at them? (Sorrow for all the paintings locked in vaults and museum basements and not sharing their soul with people!)

 

In the abstraction of the act of painting, me the artist, sometimes stops clearly seeing the art work. This is why many of my paintings take years to finish. And I mean years. To work out the answer to the problem started. To find the end of the abstract story for the painting to become its own compete presence and have a ‘soul’ and talk to us in a way that I believe only real paintings can! A place for you to contemplate the abstract –  that place that motivates me to show up and paint day after day, year after year. A kind of other world.

 

Computer generated art undoubtedly makes fantastic images, but the direct bodily relationship, that physical human transmission in the act of painting, I don’t really think is there. That undefinable presence.

 

This is why we still go to galleries and look at real art.

Standing in front of a painting we are able to talk directly to the artist.

Seeing through the artists eyes – seeing the surfaces, the images, the ideas.

What you are looking at is what the artist looked at, the very thing.

You can feel their soul, their life force, their physical energy.

Their hand and heart and thoughts transmitted through marks and colour, line and form onto canvas.

Their presence in time. That moment then, this moment now.

It is a gift. If you don’t live with a real painting, buy one and see what happens to you (I sell original oil paintings starting at £100 because I really want people to own real art. Small framed gems to contemplate) or go to galleries and be awed. Listen to the artist speak to you across time.

 

For me it is a two way passage –  the mystery returns to me when you look at my art and talk to me about it.

By the time you are looking at it, the painting has its own life force that has nothing to do with me …

I was just part of the abstraction making it …

I showed up and used some of my time on planet earth doing it …

Now when you look at it – your dialogue, interpretation, desire or dislike for the work means I start to see it differently again.

You become part of it’s story too …

 

Is it talking to you?

Are you held, captivated as I was in the dialogue of paint and colour on canvas?

Is it finished?

Are you seeing things that I haven’t noticed?

Does what you feel about it mean you just have to own it?

If yes, the journey of the painting into the world begins …

How many years, centuries will it be out there?

How many people will look at it?

Will children grown up with these images and colours as part of their psyche?

How many hands will it pass through?

How many conversations will it provoke?

What will the painting witness?

 

This weekend a friend came to visit and the helpfulness of his eyes over my work was profound.  His eyes just looking and honest feedback really helped me see my own work more clearly. I saw through his eyes. Paintings are meant to be a dialogue after all …

 

So PLEASE KNOW when YOU look at my work and have a response, you are adding energy to the painting.

I don’t need you to be nice and say it is good, JUST honestly look. The paintings have a life force of their own and your energy adds to it, our consciousness becomes shared.

A painting at its best opens a window onto another dimension that is really hard to describe in words …

A dimension that hopefully lasts over time and becomes part of the visual dimension of your life.

 

OK enough musings on art, back to the studio ….

 

 

I painted ‘Darwin’ about 15 years ago and kept him as I love his soulful eyes.

Might however put him into the next exhibition details below.

Exhibition starts this Friday …

In fact he may become the new poster boy as I sold the elephant on the flyer yesterday : )

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Solo

I have just been offered another solo show. It will be my fourth this year and I have said yes.

Solo – alone! Yup, that is true! Me, my paints and my animals. But somehow when I am working I am not alone. Painting definitely bridges the gap between here and there and keeps me present moment present tense aware and in the flow. And so I work. No point being addicted to worrying about the future. Best just enjoy the journey as I have no idea where I am going, but it is probably to the studio!

 

Filling four galleries, plus organising a group exhibition and doing an open studio event has made me think of the expression ‘rising to the challenge’, as I crawl into bed for an hour with my computer before going out to teach an Alexander Technique group class this evening!  Rising?Perhaps a bit of sinking for now!

 

Alexander Technique –  Forward and Up! FUP! Why not rise to the challenge? FUP It!

Life wouldn’t present the opportunity if I couldn’t do it surely! So just show up and paint. Let the challenge rise me!

 

The breath breathes itself, we can consciously control it, but we don’t have to think about our every breath.  My breath breathes me, why should the art not paint itself? Flowing like the breath onto the canvas. If I get out of my own way enough something interesting happens and the strange thing is that the more present I am to allowing painting, the more other people can recognise an undefinable but palpable quality. It sounds pretentious I know. But the reverse is also true, we can worry the paint to becoming an ugly muddy mess.

Allow painting, allow breathing, allow flow, allow solo …  or resist – think the work is not good enough, that there is not enough time, hold the breath, lose trust, worry about lonliness …

Choices …

Do I live life or does life live me?

 

Solo! So High!

Can’t wait to start painting again tomorrow …

 

 

 

 

 

Does lying on your back make you a better painter?

Michelangelo (1475 – 1564) – Self Portrait as Skin from the Sistine Chapel

 

We all famously know that Michelangelo lay on his back to paint the magnificent Sistine Chapel. This has always intrigued me – how did he do that? As an Alexander Technique teacher it is appealing to think that he found some sort of blissful connection to his back, his lengthening and releasing spine, allowing his genius to pour out. Some kind of High Renaissance version of semi-supine, aka constructive rest, that allowed him to paint with ease.

 

As a painter I have always been dubious. It turns out that the fact that he lay on his back to paint is a myth. Michelangelo was not comfortable in his skin at all, as this fascinating poem shows and the Self Portrait as Skin also seems to reveal –

Michelangelo: To Giovanni da Pistoia
“When the Author Was Painting the Vault of the Sistine Chapel” 1509

 

I’ve already grown a goiter from this torture,
hunched up here like a cat in Lombardy
(or anywhere else where the stagnant water’s poison).
My stomach’s squashed under my chin, my beard’s
pointing at heaven, my brain’s crushed in a casket,
my breast twists like a harpy’s. My brush,
above me all the time, dribbles paint
so my face makes a fine floor for droppings!

My haunches are grinding into my guts,
my poor ass strains to work as a counterweight,
every gesture I make is blind and aimless.
My skin hangs loose below me, my spine’s
all knotted from folding over itself.
I’m bent taut as a Syrian bow.

Because I’m stuck like this, my thoughts
are crazy, perfidious tripe:
anyone shoots badly through a crooked blowpipe.

My painting is dead.
Defend it for me, Giovanni, protect my honor.
I am not in the right place—I am not a painter.

 

Michaelangelo describes in great detail the physical discomfort he was in, not lying on his back but squashed into a crazy distortion to do the work. It really does make more sense that he had to contort himself to create such an extraordinary feat on a ceiling.

 

He says being physically stuck is affecting his thoughts, that he doesn’t feel right, that he has lost his confidence as a painter – ‘anyone shoots badly through a crooked blowpipe.’

 

I find this utterly fascinating and can relate to the lack of confidence that comes from being or feeing ‘screwed up!’ Simply put slumping and holding tension in the body effects the thinking processes and emotions.

Pyscho-physical unity of poise leads to more confidence and better thinking, as Michelangelo says – being in a bent  stuck body leads to thinking that is ‘crazy, perdifious tripe!’

 

Learning Alexander Technique certainly released my creativity. During my training with the late Don Burton I would regularly go into the movement studio in an evening and paint and paint filling the walls with artwork overnight.  The art had started to flow as the Alexander work released my ‘knotted and folded’ self.

 

I would suggest that anyone interested in developing their own creative process would do well to learn some Alexander Technique ‘Body Magic’ and lie on the floor and use the thinking like a magic paint brush. Learn to paint your own anatomy from the inside – exploring the shapes and contours, landscapes and places of your body with your mind to free into your unique creativity.

 

So does lying on your back makes you a better painter?

 

When I first came up with the blog idea title it made me titter in a very silly British humour kind of way! However, thinking about the question and discovering the poem by Michelangelo, I think it is a really useful question for painters and other creatives to think about. Maybe we don’t have the extraordinary genius and talent of Michaelangelo, but we can learn from him and recognise the truth in his words that being ‘stuck’ (tense, slumped, held, in pain, sore, physically contorted and out of balance) really does affect our thinking and our creativity and leave you, as he says, ‘not in the right place.’

Cartoon ‘The Zone’

Lying in semi supine to free up your creativity …

 

If you feel ‘a crooked blowpipe’ here is a link to a media download, BODY MAGIC, to be listened to lying down for you to work with  – CLICK HERE 

‘The Hallmarks of the Alexander Technique are creativity, spontaneity and adaptability to change.’ A.R. Alexander

 

Cartoon ‘Art and Anatomy’

(Me screwed up at art school!)

How to do a Truly Terrible Painting and Have a Totally Terrific Time …

To do a good painting you have to be prepared to do a really, really shit one.

So here is how to do a truly terrible painting in oil paint and have a totally terrific time

 

  1. Put on some rubber gloves, yup a bit kinky this ‘art thing’ darling, and if your lungs are sensitive like mine you can don a face mask too. Sexy, not!
  2.  Squeeze a good worm of scrumptious oil paint directly onto the canvas
  3.  Smear the paint on with your fingers – give it a good old enthusiastic rub and enjoy the sensation of colour and the tactile give of the canvas, add a few more colours and play
  4.  Sprinkle sand onto the painting. ‘Sand should surely look like sand in a seascape’ you think to yourself.
  5.  Get a palette knife and push the oil paint and sand around – crusty!
  6.  Blob some thinner over the crusty, lumpy oily paste, ‘oh heck it can’t get any worse!’
  7.  Mess about with a brush and realise using sand on a paint brush is going to wreck it really quickly …

 

Your painting should have gone through several truly terrible stages by now

 

8.  Keep thinking about the thing you want to paint (seascapes for me) and imagine being on the beach and wonder why you are working in the studio today? Promise yourself a trip to the beach asap, you need a holiday! Art is a tough business!

9.  Scrape paint off, squeeze more paint on. Repeat process. Repeat again. Try to forget how expensive oil paint is.

10. Start to wonder what the heck you are doing?! How on earth can you make such a terrible painting and wonder how this is ever going to come together? Totally embarrassing!

11. Be appalled by the fact that the horizon isn’t even straight!

12. Beat yourself up mentally a bit more and wonder if Van Gogh had such problems and then remember that he did and feel a bit better.

13. By now you have probably got oil paint on your face, your arms and your bum if you have been for a pee during the process.

14.  Oh well ‘keep calm and carry on’ and then you think ‘What calm?!’ Art is about suffering and passion!’ Suffer baby suffer, feel the passion, go for it and paint some more.

15. Somewhat desperately you wonder if you could call on the dead for help and try psychically channeling Turner and Rembrandt to paint for you …

15. ‘Oh! Maybe that worked’ …. suddenly something starts to emerge from the flotsam and jetsam of smeary colour, a beautiful brush stroke, a delightful colour combo that is ‘talking’ to you and then suddenly – AHA there is a seascape!

16. Feeling really rather proud of your masterpiece you reward yourself with a sink full of washing up, because your hands are now so covered in paint, despite the rubber gloves, that they need a jolly good soaking even after several scrubbings. This is no problem for you as you have a terrible habit of using a new mug every time you have a cuppa so there is a tsunami of crockery waiting for your attention …

17. You go to the kitchen, feel appalled and uninspired by the total chaos at the sink, (I thought I washed up this morning) make another cuppa, decide not to wash up and go do another painting instead!

 

She paints seascapes …

www.kirstenharrisart.com

 

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Dreaming of Love

Oil and Sand on Canvas

23 x 30 cm

 

Beautiful Old Grey North Sea

Oil and Sand on Canvas

23 x 30 cm

 

 

How Far to the Other Side?

Oil and Sand on Canvas

23 x 30 cm

 

 

The Moon is Falling

Oil and Sand on Canvas

23 x 30 cm

 

 

 

The Light

Oil and Sand on Canvas

23 x 30 cm

 

Fire Ball

Oil and Sand on Canvas

23 x 30 cm

Early Light, Oil and Sand on Canvas, 23 x 30 cm

 

Oil on Canvas

40 x 50 cm

Rain on the Beach

Oil and Sand on Canvas

 

Rain, Oil and Sand on Canvas, 40 x 50 cm

 

A Strange and Beautiful Place

Oil on Canvas

 

Stealing Clouds

Oil on Canvas

40 x 50 cm

 

Life is Beautiful

Oil on Canvas

40 x 40 cm

 

Early Evening

Oil on Canvas

40 x 50 cm

 

Light Rain

Oil on Canvas

40 x 40 cm

 

 

 

 

The Drama of Art

Recently a friend suggested I like drama …I do!

As Shakespeare put it  ‘All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances and one man in his time plays many parts.’ (As You Like It)

I used to teach Alexander Technique to actors too – I loved that job and the drama students that I worked with.

So, guilty as charged, give me a good drama with great dialogue and I am happily entertained, especially if it has a joyful, illuminating or interesting ending.

 

Up until painting in the studio today, I have always seen myself as enthusiastic audience for stage or screen production. Today I recast myself as star of my own production – the drama of art.  Well why not … funny thoughts come to you when you are painting.

 

Today as I worked on a huge very colourful painting of a running cheetah that I started about 15 months ago and abandoned for as long, it came to me that being an artist really isn’t so different to being in theatre … creativity in all its forms is full of drama, pathos, tragedy, comedy, adventure, surprises …

 

As an artist you are of course the producer and director of your own scene aka a painting, but also the hero or villain of the piece depending on how it plays out.

Your painting can become a stage set for life in someone’s home.

A great painting invites you to look at it over and over and allows a dialogue of thoughts to unfold in the viewers mind over time. A great painting holds the viewer in front of it and even changes a persons breathing. Watch people at an exhibition – you will see it –  captured and entranced, the breathing deepens and slows, perhaps something akin to love.

 

Some paintings are like action movies, in production they unfold rapidly. It is exciting. The excitement and movement recognisable to the viewer.  Energy transmitted. When I am the producer of that kind of painting I can say that my direction has been clear. I knew exactly what I wanted, was organised and focussed. I allowed the painting to emerge and enjoyed myself hugely.  The painting itself becomes the hero of the action.

 

Other paintings are like soaps – they go on for months, sometimes years. I did some work on a painting that is at least ten years old today, it is still not finished. It is definitely a soap opera kind of painting – a creation scene with lots of animals swirling in a vortex.  These soap opera paintings teach you lessons about art along the way. These paintings are problems waiting to resolve. Every time you spend time at a soap opera painting you leave dissatisfied – oh well next episode I might find out what happens. You rarely do! But it is great fun making all those bits of story line –  painting over and over, reworking the same image in a slightly different way.

 

Other paintings are episodes in a long running series of paintings, complete stories in themselves but starring the same cast, for example Vincent Van Gogh’s sunflowers, Munch’s the scream series or Monet’s garden scenes.

 

And of course there are cartoons and animations. Simply narratives where anything can happen. The madder or more exaggerated the better. Drawings can be just a rough or scratchy stick person,  it doesn’t matter – just a  great idea played out.

 

Now to the villain – sometimes paintings are simply bad!

They have to be painted over, destroyed, abandoned, discarded. After you have tried to nurture, coax, reform and bargain with the painting and failed miserably several times, you only have one option – to just give up and put it down to experience.  Chucking away all that time can feel like failure.

 

So before you give up on a painting –  fight the good fight with all thy might –  with your sword – your pen, crayon, chalk or brush,  and use these paintings to make a right old mess of things. It is liberating and something interesting might happen!

 

Hope it helps thinking about art as a drama?

What dramas are you having with your creativity?

 

 

The Daily Ease Colouring Book – Dog Ease

This page is a variation of a drawing I did to illustrate my blog 101 life lessons from my dog. I hope to turn that blog into a a wee book at some point as it makes me smile. (link here)

 

So to the colouring book – how does one introduce the concept of a free neck, prone, supine, whispered ah and other Alexander Technique goodies to kids in a fun way?

Animals are such wonderful teachers … so it’s doggies or dog ease!

These drawings are relatively simple but I am liking the simplicity.

I think I could add more words such as poise, awareness, rest, letting go etc but I will leave that to whoever is working with the book …

Hopefully this page says enough?

I am sure that as an older child and teenager, if I had been encouraged to roll about and rest on the floor as I had as a very young child, I would have avoided the pain I found myself in by the time I hit my early 20’s!

It was the Alexander Technique that was my life saver!

 

So I guess this colouring book is a bit of a mission …

Hope I am rising to the challenge?

 

Ok! Back to the drawing board!

 

To order email – kirstenfharris@btopenworld.com

 

 

The Field of Intention – What is it?

Maisie and Me in the Field!

 

What is The Field of Intention, other than the name of my next  painting exhibition and workshop that I will be giving at The Findhorn Foundation’s Moray Art Centre later this year.

 

The Field of Intention is my name for the magical creative IT!
It is not only an internal direction – that is a psycho-physical direction that profoundly effects all of you – bringing you into ease but also a simple clear focus.

 

The Field of Intention is to do with time, amongst other things. Time is magical – infinite, limited, cyclical. The Field of Intention is a magical place that creatives inhabit. Being in it is part of what drives artists to create. We want to be there, because it feels great, mysterious, exciting and wonderful …. and the results are surprising. The creative buzz lives in the Field of Intention.

 

You can inhabit it too …
Because I completely believe that EVERY BODY IS CREATIVE.
You live in a miraculous creative body and any lack of creativity is just caused by blocks, habits, old stuff. Simply put if you are not feeling creative you have got in your own way!

 

My 30 years experience as an explorer and teacher of FM Alexander’s discoveries and career as a selling artist has led me to being asked to bring the two together and teach how Alexander Technique and the flow of creativity work together. I have began writing about creativity and my own creative process over this last year. This is a work in progress, challenging and exciting!

 

Simply put, to activate the Field of Intention, first you set your direction then you cast your attention forward in time like a spell and allow things to start to line up. Time opens out and the space of The Field is available to you. Then you just show up and get on with it. You give yourself a spell of time to be creative.

 

It is so simple yet difficult too!
A dichotomy and a bit of a conundrum that takes skill and awareness.
On the one hand it is a lifetime practise and on the other totally available to you right now! It is intriguing, beguiling, bewitching and bemusing and befuddling at times too but totally worth exploring and activating.

 

Deciding what you want to do can be tricky. We have so many choices that sometimes we simply forget to choose or can’t decide or won’t commit or are scared to.

 

Another problem is that many people are not living in a way that they can line up with the flow. The psycho-physical mechanism of creativity is out of balance and they have no idea how to activate it.
The magic wand of manifestation, the spine, is out of tune …
Not functioning correctly …
This is where deeply understanding the brilliance of Alexander’s discoveries comes in and why training in the Alexander Technique helped me.

 

Alexander Teachers can help you tune up your ‘magic wand’ and things start to work again. For me the creative tap completely turned on during my three year Alexander Technique training course with the late great Don Burton. It has not turned off since. Learning Alexander Technique activated my art.

 

By learning to trust your Field of Intention you open to being a visionary, a seer – a focused flowing creative thinker.

 

The world needs creative thinkers right now  ….

 

Forward and Up!
Kirsten
kirstenfharris@btopenworld.com

www.kirstenharrisart.com

Field of Intention

All winter Crazy Maisie Cockerpoo and I have walked around the field behind my house. I walked, she ran and ran and tirelessly chased her ball.

 

‘Be more Maisie!’ My new motto since she came into my life!

 

All winter I have had the thought that I could do an entire exhibition based on this one field. Every day it changes – the sky, the clouds, weather, light conditions, plant growth, colour. I love the trees – old beech trees, gnarled scots pines, a little stream running down the side, sometimes deer, hare – old land.

 

Today I was meditating on ‘father time’ before my walk.

Have I enough time to do all the paintings I want to do in the amount of time I have? Of course … I decided!

Time is magical … set your direction, cast your intention forward in time like a spell and it will all line up. Time opens out and the space is available.

Then you just do it, show up. A spell of time to paint.

 

In the field this morning seeing the first dandelion clocks of the year I remembered I was walking amongst them last year when mum phoned to say dad had died in hospital in Portugal.

Time passes …  Ethereal clocks.

 

The just completed seascape exhibition has been an incredible healing journey.

An emotional voyage.

The emotion palpable in the paintings.

I know it and visitors to the exhibition commented on it.

 

Today I have decided that I will base my new work for my next exhibition on the field and call it Field of Intention. It will be an exhibition of landscapes and seascapes.

Perhaps metaphorically I have landed on earth again after the voyage of grief.

 

Intention set, the new work can begin … time to see what happens next!

 

Field of Intention

Exhibition of Landscapes and Seascapes

Moray Art Centre

Findhorn Foundation

Morayshire

 

Exhibition runs from 29th August – 1 October

 

 

 

 

 

Travelling the Seven Seas for £100

Directions, Oil on Canvas, 21 x 26 cm, framed.

 

Below are some oil paintings that I love that are available for £100 each!

 

I don’t know about you, but I love to travel and so do my paintings …. they are adventurous creatures!

 

Here is my choice of little gems who want to launch themselves onto planet earth and travel the seven seas for a few hundred years!

 

The beauty of the internet and wold wide shipping is that art can travel in search of new homes easily …

 

Anyone who knows me will know that I love selling original oil paintings at affordable prices …

As well as being unique, originals have endurance and longevity …

They have a life force of there own …

In fact I have a bit of a bee in my proverbial bonnet about the joy of owning real art rather than commercial prints!

 

And if you are looking for something bigger to make a statement and create some wow factor in your home please follow the link here …

 

 

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Ice Cream Seaside, Oil on Canvas, 21 x 26 cm

Framed

 

 

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Mysterious Forces, Oil on Canvas, 21 x 26 cm

Framed

 

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Tidal, Oil on Canvas, 21 x 26 cm, Framed

 

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The Rock and the Sea, Oil on Canvas, 21 x 26 cm

Framed

 

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Directions, Oil on Canvas, 21 x 26 cm, Framed

 

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The Moon Cometh, Oil and Sand on Canvas, 21 x 26 cm

Framed

 

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Fire and Water, Oil and Sand on Canvas, 21 x 26 cm

Framed

 

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Morning Mood, Oil and Sand on Canvas, 21 x 26 cm

Framed

 

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Tidal, Oil and Sand on Canvas, 21 x 26 cm

Framed

 

For more £100 paintings CLICK HERE

These paintings can travel world wide and are only £100 each. (with a little additional cost for shipping)

 

 

Diary of an Exhibition – Arty Farty Party!

Me age 19 (hair and photo by Kevin Dalton Johnston) 

 

 

When I was younger I was accused of being ARTY FARTY!

Who me?

It was the 80’s for goodness sake, you were MEANT to be Arty Farty!

 

Now the night before my exhibition I am wondering whatever happened to Miss Arty Farty?

Why …because she has a party to go to aka her own art exhibition and a wooly hat and jeans ain’t going to cut it!

 

Time to  think about what I am going to wear …

A rare opportunity to dress up … (country bumpkin goes to town)

Time to get out of the studio and into glamorous beautiful Edinburgh!

 

So, I am sitting here this evening wondering what the hell happened to the Arty Farty girl who loved …  loved …  loved dressing up?

 

Oh! That’s right! I wanted to be an actual artist, not just a poser!

And actual art, painting in oils, is not the most glamorous job in the world, in fact grimy would be a good description.

 

Today teaching Alexander Technique at school, before finishing hanging the exhibition,  one of the 15 year old girls burst into class and announced –

 

‘I am going to be on The Voice! It is meant to be a secret, but I am rubbish at keeping secrets. I am so excited! Live your dreams, that’s my motto, and my dreams are coming true!’

 

We all clapped.

Her excitement was joyous.

 

Well I guess I have been living my dream too.

When I was 15 I wanted a horse and I wanted to be an artist.

That was it.

 

I have worked hard painting seascapes for this exhibition with the big hope I can improve the conditions for my horse.

My dream – I want to build an arena  …

My field of dreams …

So that we have somewhere safe to ride …

Somehow I have lost my desire to ride on the road – too many cars with too little consideration for animals!

 

So roll on tomorrow, it is time to dress up and sell some art ….

I am excited and as I was reminded by my pupil today – I am living my dream.

 

The exhibition is looking good, Jenny’s and my work compliment each other beautifully.

 

Hope to see you at Sea and the City!

Love Kirsten

 

Original oil paintings from £100 at the exhibition and via website –  www.kirstenharrisart.com World wide shipping by arrangement.)

 

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Golden Firefly and Red Dots

Golden Firefly, Oil on Canvas, 120 x 150 cm

 

Many years ago the famous Zimbabwean silversmith Patrick Mavros gave me some advice …

 

‘When you hang an exhibition take everything you could possibly need with you! Don’t arrive and then ask the gallery to borrow a hammer or a ladder or a pair of scissors. It is really unprofessional. Turn up and hang your exhibition with minimum fuss. It sounds obvious but the advice will stand you in good stead.’

 

It has!

 

Today I am going to rent a van and take my seascapes exhibition to town – beautiful Edinburgh.

I AM organised –

 

Paintings painted and framed

Labels printed

Tools packed

Music system loaded

Bubble wrap on stand by

Wine bought! …. One of the few jobs where throwing a party IS part of the job!

 

The only thing left to do is buy more red dots!

The red dot, the joyful symbol that a painting is SOLD!

I love red dots!

 

I am feeling happy and optomistic today as I sold 4 paintings from my website yesterday … unexpectedly!

 

And even better they are paintings that I was not taking to the exhibition including Golden Firefly. A beautiful leopard looking at a red dot! Ok, it’s a firefly really!

 

(I am fascinated by the implied movement and poise between the firefly and leopard and have painted three different versions over the years. Blog link here ‘Why do artists repeat themselves?’)

 

I hope you will come to our exhibition  … I am celebrating already!

Hooray!

 

There is real joy when someone loves your work and wants to hang it in their home.

 

I am excited about the long day ahead hanging paintings …

 

And delighted that Golden Firefly is off to the picture framers on my way into town, it is a very big painting and I can utilise the van …

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Cracked! Going Round in Circles – The Circle and The Dot

I started wondering why the expression going round in circles is seen as a negative, a frustrating state of being, rather than being seen as wonderful art form, a metaphor for life in a positive way?

 

Art history tells us the story of the Italian painter Giotto di Bondone (1266-1337) being asked by a messenger to send an example of his work to Pope Bonniface V111 for a commission for St Peters. Giotto quickly formed a perfect circle in red paint to send to the pope, much to the messengers shock. The pope recognised the genius of the perfect circle and awarded Giotto the commission.

 

In Japanese brush painting one is taught to practise the Zen Circle – repeating the flow of brush on paper. True presence in the moment shown by the whiteness of the paper and the blackness of the ink – they both become truer by your intention, your ‘warmed heart’.

 

Riding circles on a horse, truthfully and in balance is a high art form. It takes awareness, thought, physical balance, practise, for both horse and rider.

A ‘still’ point of togetherness is sought. At its best the practise becomes invisible. I think circles and Angus, my horse, moves in the thought. So many images for paintings yet unpainted when I ride.

 

On Easter Sunday as I cracked open my boiled egg with friends, old and new, I asked for transformation. I got it. I rode Angus for the first time in months and my back cracked up. Ouch, but good, it needed to! Transformation can be uncomfortable! We can’t change and stay the same.

 

Despite hurting for a few hours, the release and contraction my body experiences is an invitation for me to perfect my own circle. My circle is not a good circle at the moment. I am tired from an intense period of painting in the cold. My circle has become small, my muscle spirals tight over the winter. Time to expand.

 

So where to start? I start by finding the dot, the still point, the centre of the circle and practice spiralling out from there. In my thought, then my movement.

I lie in semi supine, constructive rest, then flow forward into the movement that is life. Let myself move in spirals and circles, not in straight lines. Too much linear thinking and movement is not a good thing!

 

About a year ago I was teaching Alexander Technique to another rider, who had done exactly the same thing to her lower back riding her horse. We released her back quickly. My back has released quickly. I was reminded of my pupil as I had said to her a year ago – ‘This is a portal, drop in through the pain and you will come out in another place.’

I have.

 

So my questions?

Can I/you draw a perfect circle?

Can I/you walk a perfect circle?

Can I/you think a perfect circle?

It is high art!

 

This week I fell through a crack in my physicality –  tension contracting the whole. Now I must let myself fall onto the ground, perfect planet earth, to re seek the dot, the starting point for all creation, out of which the whole is born.

 

The dot, my infinite ‘still’ point, the balance of my head atop my spine.

 

Thank you back for cracking up and inviting me to stop and find the radius of a new circle, a wider field of depth and attention for my new intention and my new creativity.

 

I am looking forward to the continuing going round in circles in life and thinking up to keep re finding the centre of it all.

It’s art!

It’s difficult and it is so simple too. A dot and a circle. That is all!

Inspired by Giotto!

 

Forward and Up!

Kirsten

 

(More information and a recorded talk through on letting go of back pain, click here

More information on Alexander Technique and horse riding click here)

 

Diary of an Exhibition – My Motivation and Intention

‘Stress Puppy’ by Kirsten Harris

 

I chose to paint seascapes for my upcoming exhibition partly because I have sold every seascape I have ever made and I hope to increase my chance of success!

 

The reason I desire to sell well is to fund my next project, which is likely to take many months to complete and be a ‘gift to the universe life mission’ project.

 

The project is to finish illustrating an Alexander Technique book for children and teenagers that literally downloaded into my head about three years ago.

Strange but true!

 

It is a monster, fun, quirky, piece of writing.

 

The high school kids I teach love it. (I don’t think they are just being polite and kind!)

I have tried it out on them, and they are determined for me to ‘get it out there’ as they are sure it will help other kids get through school and life as the Alexander Technique has helped them.

 

My next art job is to hone my inner cartoonist!

All about letting the line flow simply to tell a story ….

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I am writing about my motivation behind my up coming exhibition to boost my confidence and strength of intention to sell and so the ‘angels of abundance’ know what the plan is!!

 

And because, to be honest, I am feeling a bit like this cartoon at the moment. A Stress Puppy Artist!

A bit of fear creeping in at the last minute. Not helpful, but human!

 

Time to transform fear to excitement. To be confident having put my heart and soul into painting all winter.

 

I keep waking up in the morning thinking maybe the big paintings are all too grey and blue, and then the next thought is that grey and blue are bang on trend for interior design and I loved painting them so TRUST! TRUST! TRUST!

 

Time to let it go and focus on THE BOOK manifesting after the exhibition ….

Let it Flow …

 

Original seascape oil paintings from £100 – £2000

Many are available to view on my website Click Here

 

Please email me for more information or come to the exhibition, it would be wonderful to see you.

Sea and the City, 26 – 30 April 2017, Dundas Gallery, 6 Dundas Street, Edinburgh.

 

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Diary of an Exhibition – Sailor Tattoo Symbols

I have been hand painting wooden boxes and furniture using sailor tattoo imagery as the source of inspiration, in particular referencing the work of the American tattoo artist Norman Keith Collins (January 14, 1911 – June 12, 1973) known as Sailor Jerry.

 

So here is the symbolism behind the sailor tattoo imagery I have been slowly painting onto boxes, sea chests and small pieces of furniture …. A contrast in activity to the frenzy of oil painting seascapes.

 

Swalllow – that a sailor has sailed 5000 nautical miles for each swallow tattooed

Anchor – stability and security

Rope – hold fast, a deck hand

Rigged Sailing Ship – sailed around the Cape of Good Horn

Heart – love, dagger through the heart – broken heart

Mermaid – the dangers of the sea and life, potent female energy

Compass – Making way safely home, direction, protection, getting through rough waters

Octopus – Complexity, diversity, mystery, vision, camouflage, illusion

Sea Horse – Symbol of strength and power, connected to Posiedon and Neptune

Red Rose – love

Key – luck, knowledge and success, freedom and liberation

Shells – love and fertility

 

 

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All pieces and more will be for sale at my upcoming exhibition Dundas Gallery, 6 Dundas Street, Edinburgh 26 – 30 April 10 – 6pm

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Surviving Art School and Constructive Criticism

Cartoon self portrait of me at art school in the 80’s!

 

 

One of the things you learn at art school is how to survive constructive criticism and turn a negative into a positive, a creative solution!

 

This is why for many art school is an ‘abusive’ environment and many art school graduates never paint again. Or give up for years … It is a challenging path!

 

At art school in the 80’s you were ‘deconstructed’, but the tutors often forgot to ‘reconstruct’ you at the end of the process. (My Alexander Technique teacher training later did that for me!)

 

However, artists become creative thinkers because of the rigours of constructive criticism.  They look for alternatives, they become truth seekers, they can turn a heap of junk into something beautiful. They look beyond the ‘hurtful’ words and move forward. You learn to stop taking criticism personally and carve out a new path.

 

So, you are sitting at your easel and a tutor creeps up behind you and says stuff like

 

  • That’s not good enough
  • Have you considered doing it another way
  • Rip it up and start again! (a classic 80’s anthem from the band Orange Juice)
  • The proportions are all wrong
  • It’s too tight, unexpressive, muddy …
  • It’s derivative, find your own style
  • You will never make it as an artist
  • Or just puff a bit of fag smoke over you and walk away ….

 

You feel anger, annoyance, despair, disheartened, but you never give up. Somehow in this clumsy but honest process the brain starts to seek new solutions, creativity is hatched. Determination is born. A ‘fuck it’ attitude of ‘I am doing it anyway’ starts to emerge.  ‘I am going to trust my own process’, develops inside you.

 

Art is not ‘wanky’ as I was recently informed, but an intense road to self discovery that demands vulnerability, determination and guts. Finding creative solutions to sticky problems and disagreement is what you are trained to do. A development of your creative brain in order to survive the assault course of constructive criticism that is art school. The constructive criticism is not personal – it is another artists attempt to get you to think by challenging your perspective. Being good at art is not the most important thing to be an artist, developing the ‘fuck it there must be a way to do this’ attitude probably is!

 

Any one think creative solutions might be useful right now?

 

Perhaps one day artists will not be seen as ‘self indulgent’ and ‘mad’ but having something out of the ordinary to say …

 

May artists rule the world!

 

Check out my free creativity e-course link below

 

Feel free to come and give me your constructive criticism at my up coming exhibition ‘Sea and the City’ with Jennifer Court at the Dundas Gallery, 6 Dundas Gallery, Edinburgh 26 – 30 April 2017 10 – 6 pm

 

Forward and Up!

Love Kirsten

Diary of an Exhibition – Love Guides Me Forward and Up!

I took this photograph driving home over the Lang Wang from Edinburgh on Saturday, April !st.

 

April Fools Day!

 

Driving towards this angelic cloud was so amazing I had to stop … a watery formation, an energy shifting…

A moment to listen for the message from The Fool!

 

It is time for an energy shift for me  … time to let go …

Time to put down the paintbrushes, let the oil paints dry and do other aspects of the job of hanging an exhibition i.e. marketing!

 

I used to find marketing relatively easy, but with the advent of social media have found it increasingly difficult. Weird but true!

 

I have had to learn to overcome my shyness and fear of Facebook and put myself out there. Be prepared to make a fool of myself …

That is what this ongoing blog has been about …

Letting social media be part of the art process …

Widening the creativity …

I have thoroughly enjoyed writing. A revelation!

 

I haven’t written about art since art school, and I have loved the start of this new journey.

First writing my free creativity course – link at bottom of this page

and then keeping a diary of an exhibition …

 

So April – time to let a new energy guide me forward and up …

Spring up and out of the dark cold winter months …

The exhibition will be of wintery waves, grey and cold … dramatic and stormy …

 

The benefit of painting in freezing conditions is that the oil fumes have not effected my lungs! Thank god!

Now it is warming up, the fumes are becoming harder for me.

It would be foolish to continue …

Time to STOP …. let my bones warm up, my energy increase, my body spring up into spring and BREATHE!

 

I have worked hard over the winter …

I have enough paintings!

 

(Anyone who knows me will know that is a very difficult sentence for me to believe, as an artist never gets it done … an inner drive always pushing, pushing, pushing!)

 

Time to look forward to five days at the end of this month meeting real people in the real world at my exhibition.

 

When another person looks at my artwork, I see the painting differently …

 

I look through your eyes …

You teach me and I move forward ….

When you love a painting the painting transforms …

We become connected in a magical way …

It is a strange thing …

That is why I like hosting an exhibition in person, meeting people is a huge part of the process for me. The audience informs the work. I love the connection.

 

I paint with love and passion, I never know what the work will look like.

When you find something you love in the work it always amazes me.

Passion connects us.

 

Love Guides Me Forward and Up!

 

I give myself permission to stop … to let go!

Art – a state of trusting the process – no matter how weird!

 

I have started previewing some of the paintings for sale in the landscape and seascape section of this website. Click here

 

Love

Kirsten x

 

Hopefully see you at  the Dundas Gallery, 6 Dundas Street, Edinburgh

April 26 – 30th

10am  – 6pm

 

How to Create Movement in Paintings

I often get asked – How do I create the feel of movement in my paintings?

So I thought I would attempt to write a ‘HOW TO’ blog!

 

How to create movement in a painting –

 

  • Keep your body and your eyes moving at all times. A key is not tightening your own body. A free neck equals a free arm equals a free painting! Alexander Technique in action – the other great love of my life!
  • Don’t sit and paint –  stand! Work at an easel not at a table.
  • Dynamic action, including making sure you are breathing and your free body movement, is revealed in the paint. Dance with the paint. Move your body and the paint will also move.
  • The paint is a vehicle for your thinking. Be quick in your decision making. Don’t over think it! Allow the next thought and the next to guide you with an urgency.
  • To create action in a physical object, such as a painting, let yourself just go for it! Art is a journey not a relaxation!
  • Paint fast. Action and activity again. Cover the white paper or canvas with paint as fast as you can. You WILL have a dynamic painting that way.
  • Connect your arms through your back all the way down to your feet. Each step of the painting is a step over your feet. Move your feet as you paint. Let the painting keep you on your toes!
  • Respond to the paint. Let the paint take you forward… now this colour, now a bigger brush stroke here … here and now, now here ….enjoy not knowing. Let yourself feel and flow your way forward.
  • Trust your intuition. Let the painting paint itself! Listen to inner guidance. It is there, I promise!
  • Fast sweeping brush strokes portray action. Use the whole arm not just the wrist and fingers.
  • Let the brush strokes do the work, don’t try and hide them. Each stroke is a gesture and therefore energetically loaded.
  • Let the brush stroke travel in the direction of the movement you are describing.
  • Throw and flick the paint at the canvas, allow random marks, the happy accident. It is a great technique for portraying movement – action painting.
  • Don’t worry about going wrong! That will slow you down and you will lose the dynamic movement. There is no wrong in your painting. How can it be wrong? YOU DID IT! It is a representation of your life force!
  • Paint big, so your artwork doesn’t get restricted by a small scale. Be bold, paint bigger than you have done before!
  • Don’t ‘worry’ the paint. Paint doesn’t like to be worried, it goes muddy. Paint likes to spread and flow, bleed and run, merge and blend, drip and spread. It likes to be trusted, not worried over!
  • Apply the paint with confidence.
  • And most of all, enjoy yourself. Let yourself get taken over by the activity of painting. Your present moment enjoyment WILL be revealed in the finished artwork whether you like it or not!

 

Hope that helps  : )

 

Bottoms up

SOLD

 

 

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SOLD

 

 

Even Field

SOLD

 

 

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‘The Moon Woke Me’

Current work

150 x 100 cm

To be exhibited at Dundas Gallery, Edinburgh in 26 – 30 April 2017.

POA

 

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Wind and Waves

120 x 100 cm

Current work

To be exhibited at Dundas Gallery in Edinburgh in 26 – 30 April 2017.

POA

120 x 100 cm

 

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The Race

Oil on Canvas

For Sale (click here.)

120 x 100 cm

 

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Forward

Oil on Canvas

80 x 100 cm

Currently available on website (click here)

 

  • Free creativity e-course link below(8 days of inspiration delivered into your inbox)
  • I am offering Skype tuition for artists or creatives who would like help finding a freer creative flow from the beginning of May. Email me for details.
  • Upcoming workshop tuition –   ‘Any Body Can Paint – Let Go Make Art’ at the Findhorn Foundation in September

Please contact me for more details …

kirstenfharris@btopenworld.com

 

Diary of an Exhibition – I’m in Two Minds!

How come some days I paint well, easily, in the flow… some days I surprise myself and paintings show up, arrive into life and other days painting is clunky, the paint goes muddy, the image unformed, lack lustre?

 

I have been thinking about it as I am running out of time to paint this exhibition and this is what I have come up with… I recognise that it is when I am in two minds about something that art struggles!

 

I took yesterday afternoon off to stop and tune in to myself Alexander Technique style as carrying on painting rubbish is not an option!

 

We have our everyday habitual chitter chatter mind and we have inspiration, a higher state of conscious flow … (for want of a better description).

 

If there is something bothering me in my everyday thinking it clouds the inspirational mind, it clogs the flow … just as much as a sore neck might ruin the day, a nagging annoyance does so too, and if we keep ignoring the white noise of our chitter chatter we lose the flow and become uptight anyway!

 

We have to deal with stuff, and that takes courage!
The artist as warrior not worrier!

 

This is harder than we may think … it takes self awareness, listening skills, honesty, vulnerability, trust …

 

We dismiss the background noise as unimportant –
‘I am just being silly’ …
‘There is no need for me to get worked up by that nonsense’ …
‘It will go away if I ignore it!’.
‘So and so will think badly of me if I make a fuss!’ ….
‘I can’t decide whether it is a good idea or not … I am in two minds’

 

Yet it persists, like an annoying tune, the persistent irritation sticks in our head for days, it gets louder and more distracting, more disturbing …
The art, whatever the form it takes, does not come through as a clear signal …
We are trying to paint when the mental receiver is out of tune …
An old fashioned image, but we become like a radio picking up two radio stations at once, the thoughts of our two minds come in and out of focus …
It is exhausting, confusing and uninspiring …
I get grumpy when I am like this!

 

No wonder the poor paint gets muddy, the image ugly!

No wonder I can’t find completion of the piece!

 

Learning to paint, or any other creative endeavour, I truly believe calls for us to listen deeply, not only to our higher self but to the sometimes white noise, chalk on a black board, chitter chatter of our thinking.

 

When we become consciously aware of the background noise, we come into tune and can decide whether we want to listen to that station and respond accordingly or chose something else …

Now we have choice!

Now we have action!

 

When we truly listen to the everyday mind and get clear, then the inspirational mind seems to tune in and delight …
Creativity as one mind …
Yup, I don’t mind that … That is work in progress!

 

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‘Fire and Water’

Oil and Sand on Canvas
A little painting that arrived quickly, in he flow and took me by surprise!

 

Free Creativity course – link below ….

Diary of an Exhibition – Size Matters

(A small and large painting framed, wrapped and ready to go!)

 

It turns out size matters …

 

I can do big

Big excites me

Big is a challenge to be enjoyed

Something to build up to and explore

Big is fun

Big is an experience

Big demands your attention

 

And I get thrilling intimate pleasure from a small size

 

But that in-between size is just not doing it for me

 

Something about scale and intent …

Big and I have to really open up and out, spread out my intention, really use my legs and arms and eyes to move across the scale …

 

Small and I can use my imagination and dive into the space and discover interesting moments

Pleasurable details

Find delicacy and finesse

Small is an invitation to come in and savour exquisite moments in time

Small is beautiful

 

But that inbetweeny size seems less exciting

Too predictable perhaps?

Or perhaps just too habitual, too normal, too everyday …

Too much what we are used to seeing …

 

The trouble is most people want medium, people understand medium

 

People seem to have a problem with housing big, goodness knows why!

Big makes a statement

Creates a sensation

Big has wow factor

 

Small is interesting, an invitation to envision and contemplate a private space …

Small is a meditation …

 

However I am going to really have to get to grips with medium to get this show on the road!

 

(The crazy things that occur to me when struggling with a medium size painting!)

 

 

Diary of an Exhibition – Painting, Stress and Death

Somehow I have to find a way through the grinding pressure I am feeling today and get myself out into the cold and paint …

 

I don’t have – to I want to …

I have committed to paint an exhibition by the end of April …

It is a clear intention!

 

I can’t let blinding, distracting, deathly boring, unfulfilling, monstrous stress get in the way – all that pressure can F**K off!

There is plenty of everything, including time, and I am claiming it for art.

 

I remember after surgery nice people telling me I would be able to paint while I recovered. ‘You’re having a laugh’ I thought as I smiled sweetly back.

 

Painting in oils is not a polite activity, a genteel pursuit. It is demanding, grimy and difficult.

 

If you want to fast track to self awareness, warts and all, pick up a paintbrush and let it be your magical wand of transformation! I am not kidding, give it a go – paint!

 

Today I am simply tired, yet I have the space and time to paint. I have freedom to paint. It is a gift. All that is required is that I stretch my energetic direction and find the wave that will take me forward…

The flow thrown up by the sea that I can surf for the rest of the day without having to do any more than show up, be present, balance on the wave and allow ….

 

How difficult can that be?

 

Die stress!

I choose to paint … watch this space!

 

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‘Separated’

Oil and Sand on Canvas

 

 

 

Diary of an Exhibition – Despite Myself I Paint the Sea

Painting the sea … It all comes back to flow

 

This watery world we live in

Surrounded by water … in the air, the ground, our bodies …

Little Britain, our island

 

We are destroying our clean waters, our clean seas

We are destroying our bodies

Beguiling sea – you are destructive and dangerous … beautifully calm

 

The theme of the sea for art gets bigger, and more overwhelming, like the sea itself

 

Despite my fears and inadequacies I will paint the sea

Even the word ‘despite’ has it’s roots in water – spit, bile …

Green water, jealous of other artists brilliance …

Harmful thoughts, totally unhelpful

I fall over on the rocks, slip on the seaweed and jar my back thinking that thought!

 

Despite myself I paint the sea

The wave of my life has value too!

 

How to capture a wave, a drop in the ocean?

It feels impossible.

Wave upon wave as my arm freely swings up to the canvas

Brush reaching the shore of the image

A sweep of intention, of colour

Free like the sea

Or not?

Be the ocean not a rock!

 

The sea just keeps rolling in, flowing, does the sea get tired?

 

Each wave different, inspiring, gone …

Each wave like a heart beat … precious

Just show up … get up and go out to the cold studio …

Let the wave of desire for the sea roll over you and carry you forward

 

Despite myself I paint the sea …

 

 

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‘Morning Mood’

Oil and Sand on Canvas

8.5 x 10 inches (framed)

 

 

Diary of an Exhibition – Paint Over

 

‘Influence’

Oil on Canvas

80 x 100 cms

 

Yesterday I decided to look at old unresolved canvases and see if I could do a paint over.

 

This canvas has two under paintings – hidden ghosts.

 

First incarnation was a kind of fantasy landscape done about 3 years ago, with hare filled fields and hares flying in the sky! Um, no it did not work!

 

Paint over number two – I attempted turning the crazy green harescape into a seascape a few weeks ago, at the same time using up what ever old paint was on my palettes.

 

The result was no more landscape and the beginning of some sort of seascape, inspired by my trip to Catterline and visit to the Joan Eardley exhibition at Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh.

 

I wanted texture and looseness. Old drying colour is good for getting lumps, bumps and crusty surfaces. I also threw sand onto some areas of the foreground.

 

The result was quite messy but with some interesting bits emerging.

 

I then dumped the painting in the pony field shelter and forgot all about it for weeks. I wanted it out of the way as there was a lot of paint on the surface and did not want to be breathing the fumes as they cured and had no idea how to proceed.

 

A couple of days ago I spotted the canvas again, amazed that Walter hadn’t knocked it over and trampled it under hoof. He is a very curious and fearless mini shetland pony! But obviously respects art! (Check out link –  Angus and Walt Horse Artists on FB!)

 

Yesterday I wondered if I could resolve the image.

 

I cut open the remains of a big tube of buff oil paint and decided to pull the image together with one colour whilst using up the dregs of paint.

Waste not want not …  So my granny told me!

 

Then I scratched into the paint and wiped away to reveal bits of the under painting and added a bit more colour and detail.

 

The result is a  textural surface and a fairly abstract image.

Today I feel happy with it.

Will I do more?

Who knows…

 

I am blogging about over painting as encouragement to not throw the crappy paintings away. You never know what they will become if you have the courage to do a seemingly destructive thing and paint over!

 

(The title – Influence – the moons influence over the sea and the tides in our bodies and our influence over each other, often positive, sometimes destructive.)

Postscript –

And then a couple of weeks later, I painted over it again – and it became this

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‘The Old Man and the Sea’

The new title that came to me today

 

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Detail

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Diary of an Exhibition – Releasing Art Flow

 

Releasing art flow

Muscles as water

I paint the sea and become the ocean

Body 70 percent water

Frozen body freeing to a flowing tidal wave of art

 

The heart my art

Muscles releasing – contracting to release again

Melting

Finally bouncing like the brush on the stretched canvas

 

Spring is springing

Warming my heart, earth

Love and art

 

Flexing art’s muscle

Tight or toned?

Held or free?

 

Lengthening muscles into the art

Releasing art muscle into the flow

The heart of all that is matter

 

Muscles flowing as spirals

Tight muscles tight art!

 

Long free ecstatic muscles flowing into art

Paint brush spiralling freely from my back

From the energising out breath

 

Loving the feel

The way I feel

A tidal wave through my body onto canvas

Energy in motion

Emotion

 

Given away, no expectation of return, just explored right now

I am free to dance the paint

Luxury …

 

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Egg Morning on the Beach

Oil on Canvas

40 x 50 cms

 

Diary of an Exhibition – Everyone Else is Taken

‘Sometimes there are Rainbows’

Oil on Canvas

40 x 50 cms

 

‘Be yourself everyone else is taken.’ Oscar Wilde

 

This is great advise for any artist and I found myself saying words to that effect out loud in the studio a couple of days ago.

‘This is MY painting’ I exclaimed!

 

The reason for my outburst was that other artists had got into my head and it was NOT helpful.

 

Looking at art is great, being inspired is fantastic, but when it comes down to it we need to turn up in the moment and be ourselves.

Just let go and make art!

How hard can that be?

 

So simple yet a work of conscious awareness.

 

I know when I am making art and when I am just making pictures – there is a difference, it is a lot to do with my thinking.

Am I right here right now responding to the colour and canvas?

Or am I interfering by ‘watching’ myself doing the painting, trying hard to do something good rather than simply enjoying painting, feeling it, being it, judgement and everything else suspended for now.

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This painting caused the outburst ‘It is my painting!’ and that outburst was me claiming me.

The painting arrived.

I wanted to paint a rainbow seen at the beach at North Berwick on Sunday.

Could I paint a rainbow without it being naff or cutesy?

The title came too …

‘Sometimes there are Rainbows.’

 

Sometimes there are rainbows in our thinking …

In other words like the clouds, rain and sun that creates rainbows, a combinations of emotion, flow and energy creates gaps in our habitual thinking that allows something magical and unexpected to happen … rainbows out of the blue, delightful always.

This is a painting that seemed to paint itself because I got out of the way and let it happen.

No matter what we think of our creative results – these rainbow moments of surprise in our creativity methinks are to be honoured and cherished.

 

As Edgar Degas said

‘Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.’

 

*****

Try letting go to make art … just be you!

You might surprise yourself with some rainbow moments in your creative passion.

Find a link to a free 8 day based creativity e-course –  Let Go Make Art –  Link below.

Written to free up your creative thinking combining art and Alexander Technique. It’s fun …

Diary of an Exhibition – Not Good Enough for What?

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.’

Pablo Picasso

 

I have been struggling with that ‘not good enough’ habit!

A habit that I am convinced for many of us started at school when we were told, as some kind of weird encouragement, that our work was ‘not good enough’ or to ‘try harder.’

Words that for many of us result in instant neck tightening tension habits.

Can you feel tension or tightening right now if you think about being ‘not good enough’ or ‘trying harder’?

 

My up-coming exhibition in April is in the ‘best’ street in Edinburgh for art, the Edinburgh version of Cork Street in London, and because of this daft value judgement a nasty little insidious voice in me has been taunting –

 

‘Your work’s not good enough!’

‘Who do you think you are?’

‘You are going to make a giant fool of yourself.’…  and other horrible scary jibes.

 

Do you recognise any of these getting in the way of your art making fun, destroying your creativity?

 

So I have been asking the question – not good enough for what?

Not good enough to play with paint on canvas or paper?

Is that true?

Obviously NO!

NOT TRUE!

 

Little children don’t worry about paintings being ‘not good enough!’

It is when ‘grown ups’ start to teach them to ‘keep paint within the lines’ and ‘be neat not messy’ that the ‘not good enough’ starts to set in.

 

‘If you find a voice within you that says you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.’

Vincent Van Gogh

 

So my thought for silencing the ‘not good enough’ habit is to paint paint paint …

Cover canvas as fast as I can …

Any way I like …

Music on, dancing with colour …

Playing with feel and pressure of brush stroke …

That is all …

Like a child!

 

Picasso again ….

‘It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.’

 

To paint like a child!

 

Art is a worthwhile journey – we can get out of our own way, let go of thinking habits that do not serve us and paint like a child.

Simple joy!

So easy and yet so challenging with our ego based comparative habits rearing there ugly little heads and ruining the fun.

 

So my question now, when I hear that creepy ‘not good enough’ thought form, is to ask the rebellious childlike question – Not good enough for what?!

 

****

photo – Yes, I am a very messy painter!

Hmmm, good enough or not good enough? Who cares! It is the way I work! : )

 

Perhaps you would like to try me free Alexander Technique inspired 8 day creativity e-course? It’s fun. Link below …

Diary of an Exhibition – Stealing Clouds

‘Good artist copy, great artists steal!’
Pablo Picasso

 

I want to steal the clouds, capture them, own them, trap them on canvas …
I am obsessed by clouds.

 

My friend it turns out is jealous …

‘I wish the the clouds did it for me like they do it for you. I don’t even notice them.’

 

There was silence between us for a while as we drove along contemplating each others experience of life – mine wowing and ooo-ing at the clouds, each journey or day experienced through the sky, her assurance that most people don’t bother noticing!

 

It is my new obsession … to learn to paint the clouds … and my head has felt cloudy and foggy for days thinking unhelpful thoughts such as I don’t know how to do this … how is it even possible …how on earth can I express what I feel and see?

 

I must let go of any thoughts about not good enough for how can the clouds be wrong – they are all about change.
Time for me to change my thinking …

 

So I think about Picasso’s wisdom – “Good artists copy, great artists steal!’

 

I will learn to steal the clouds –

 

  • Learn the rules and tricks of the cloud painting, such as clouds get smaller as they get further away – a great metaphor!
  • Look at artists I admire and study them …
  • Take even more photographs …
  • Be grateful for cloudy old steely wintry Scotland …
  • Draw little cloud thumbnails from my kitchen window, set up a mini kitchen studio today for gathering morning clouds.
  • Play and play with the clouds in paint
  • Think up up up – head in the clouds, feet on the ground, heart open – stay free! It follows the art will freely billow in like a fantastic clouds formation too!

 

When I expressed my cloudy thinking and doubts about my ability to paint the clouds a dancer friend suggested I reread my own free creativity e-course – Let Go Make Art! That it would unblock me as it had unblocked her. I love my friends who won’t let me get away with foggy thinking! (link below)

 

I know what I want – a clear intention is a good start.

 

I am on a cloud stealing mission …
I will be like an art thief planing to steal a masterpiece …
Strategising, preparing, pouring over books and plans, trying out different versions until I have the perfect crime …

Despicable me I am planning to steal the clouds!

Do It Now!

Painting is a quick route into learning about wonderful brilliant you – your thinking, your emotions, your body, your self image, in short who you are today.

 

Pick up a paintbrush and some colour and you will soon discover interesting things about yourself – your hopes and dreams, the things that worry, your ego, frustration and habits, the things that inspire and interest you, your inner brilliance and radiance.

 

Painting allows us to let go, to unwind, to be present to ourselves –

The higher self, the lower self and the mundane everyday me!

 

No distraction!

 

Just you facing yourself in a magic mirror … the blandness of a blank sheet of paper, a canvas or lump of clay … calling out inner beauty, fabulous ideas, unknown as yet insights and destinies …

 

Give paint a go today ….As Cezanne says it may be  ‘your salvation.’

 

To kick start your own unique creative process – here is a free 8 day e-course …

 

Written with love form the perspective of a painter, applicable to all budding creatives whatever your preferred medium, writing, photography, art …

 

Enjoy! Link below …

A.R.T. – The Sweet Spot of Creativity

(link to free 8 day e-course at end of this blog)

 

How do we find our creative sweet spot, our zone, that magical place where our creativity flows?

 

It is the thing that all creatives – artists, musicians, horse riders, meditators, dancers  – have in common.  The knowledge that the sweet spot is indeed SWEET and that returning to it, renewing it, replenishing it, is a joy –  nourishing, fulfilling, inspiring, invigorating … In short the reason that we peruse our passion!

 

Here is an Alexander Technique inspired take on the art of finding the sweet spot – A.R.T

 

A attention, awareness, arriving in the present moment. The intention and ability to really show up right now to allow something to appear before us.

The appearance, the apparition, the manifestation, our art, can only arrive when we attend fully to what we are doing now – allowing it to happen. Asking for it, the magical, to awaken.

 

R – respecting our selves and what we receive when we open our creative antenna into the space around us. The space that we have created that we are giving our full present moment attention to in order to allow the sweet spot of art.

Respecting our creativity and rolling with it, flowing with it, going with it.

Rejecting any thoughts of not good enough as those thoughts mean we are rejecting our creative self. Respect rather than reject as you respond to the moment.

Rejoice in what you have made, honouring your creativity, your art. It is replenishing you. It is a gift.

 

T – Time – giving ourselves the gift of precious time to devote to our creativity. Decide to take time for the creative self often no matter what! Time to develop skills. Time to listen to the guidance of our thoughts. Time to humbly allow art to move through us. To be a creative is to be a transformer of thoughts and ideas, inspirations and dreams into action.

Trust the process of creativity. Really trust yourself and what you make as valuable.

Our creativity has something to tell us and teach us as it moves through us and out into the world.

Be thankful for and treasure your creative self.

 

If I am to pick 3 words to sum up ART it would be Allow – Respect – Time!

What 3 would you pick or add to the list?

 

More on creativity?

You may like my 8 day free creativity course – find a sign up below to have it delivered straight to your in-box now …

The Diary of an Exhibition – Listening to Seashells

 

Yesterday I didn’t listen to my own wisdom … and painted in oils  despite not having found a mask that makes this possible ….. YET!

 

I coughed a lot and felt pretty rough after an hours work. I had also ignored my intention to paint in acrylic, deferring instead to my habit!

 

It is so much easier to DO our habits than to BE open to something new…. Alexander Technique teaches it over and over again… do the same thing in the same way and get the same result! So simple and yet so challenging to change.

 

After a mini strop with myself and a really helpful phone call with a friend,  I decided to go LEARN to paint with acrylics and be excited by and open to the challenge.

 

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I have been picking up shells on the beach –

Shells remind me of the inner ear, and my thought has been about listening…

 

Expanded awareness and balance can come just from opening our ears to sounds and sounds between sounds, layers of sound … shells as reminders …

 

  • to listen to what we are being told
  • to listen to your intuition
  • to listen for the mystery
  • to listen out for the path and the journey
  • to listen to the space between
  • to listen to our heart
  • to listen to other people, 2 ears one mouth!
  • to listen to the deep oceanic wisdom within …

 

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Symbolism and the shells painted yesterday –

 

Cockles – warming the cockles of my heart – attracting love, feeling love, the food of love

Conch type shells – The  human journey of life, spirals, the Golden Mean

Limpets – courage, confidence, strength to endure, strength to be yourself despite forces

Moon snails – the moon, tides, planetary forces, the feminine, psychic awareness, purification, peace

Scallops – travel, sharing, holding

Spirals – ‘Everything that lives and breathes and moves, lives and breathes and moves in spirals’ (Don Burton),  the mystery of life, DNA

Shells – protection, the home, containers of life, treasures being thrown up from the deep …

 

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I painted a quick series of ‘shell-scapes’ in acrylic … very small canvas sketches … here they are … ideas in motion … just where I left off, some finished some not.

I had fun, when I got out of my own way, my oily art habit, and allowed something new!

 

By listening to the seashells I found form within the formless and the unformed – seashells to draw upon within the formless sea – an idea to play with.

 

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Today I am going to see the JMW Turner watercolours at the National Gallery in Edinburgh which are only on show once a year to protect them from the light.

Excited to be inspired by watercolours from one of my art heroes!

 

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Diary of an Exhibition – The Joy of Stuff and Clutter

Diary of an Exhibition – The Joy of Stuff and Clutter

 

The last couple of days  I have been thinking I want to write something about the joy of clutter and stuff, in response to the many articles around that are advocating clearing out and living in empty spaces as some kind of new years resolution!

 

I am an artist  – I make stuff!

Stuff to last into the future, hopefully investments into and for the future.

 

I love rummaging in charity shops and car boot sales finding interesting and inspiring stuff…

My philosophy is that all my stuff is only ever borrowed, loaned to me for a while, until it finds another home either in my lifetime or after I die  …. so why not enjoy your stuff while you are here, instead of feeling like you are less spiritual or less evolved than those who have fengshui-ed their environment to live in a white space!

 

Lovely – give me your white space to fill with paintings!

 

Stuff and clutter are ideas made manifest, mine or other peoples … how wonderful!

 

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I want to live a life where ideas are inspiring me on a daily basis, not one that is sanitised and empty …

 

Nature abhors a vacuum anyway … Bring on the stuff and clutter!

 

Buy it … make it … enjoy it … give it away … sell it … give to charity shops … support other peoples needs …buy some more … let the stuff and clutter flow … transform it .. up-cycle it … recycle it… it has a life force too!

 

Enriching, enlivening, enjoyable stuff!

 

One of the interests I have in my painting is how to make a busy surface unified …

Creating chaos and clutter is part of the process  of finding the image, the way forward…

 

The painting surfaces are full of stuff … paint stuff, pigments from all over the world –

scratched and dabbed

scumbled and brushed

flicked and poured

applied in impasto smears with a palette knife or finger or back of a fist

 

I am having fun playing with stuff, making stuff, creating stuff, making a mess and making some kind of order at the same time.

 

Anyhow there are only 2 ways to make a living either

  • create something – make more clutter and stuff in the world
  • provide a service

I do both, I make stuff and I teach Alexander Technique.

 

But back to stuff and clutter –

 

For a start an artist can NEVER have enough brushes  – bring on the clutter, bring on the brushes!

Make me joyful and buy me brushes, any shape or size or quality will do, they all have

stories to tell!

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The word clutter, comes from the medieval root word clot as in blood clot …

 

Clutter and flow belong together, they are linked!

 

Paint in a tube or even squeezed onto a palette is like a clot waiting to flow…

Add enough medium and it will flow …

The medium is your intention, your thinking, your action plus water or other carriers …

 

Your blood life force energy, your heart, is revealed in your painting.

I learned that in Japan – the more present you are the more present your paining is.

‘Unclotting’ a painting has nothing to do with physical stuff and clutter and everything to do with present attention.

Can you be present despite …. ? Despite a less than pristine clutter free environment .. despite ideas about perfection?

 

I guess everything comes back to water in the end …  A blog about clutter and stuff and I am thinking about water … the carrier of my watery ‘un – formed’ feeling onto paper and canvas … manifesting seascapes …

 

Today a day of creating more clutter and stuff for the world  – I set my intention to paint small seascapes in gouache and acrylic paint.

Minimalistic clutter free living?

No thanks, I am going to paint!

 

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Detail – ‘Energy Vortex at Sea’ Oil on Canvas, 100 x 120 cm

 

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‘Energy Vortex at Sea’ Oil on Canvas, 100 x 120 cm

 

Diary of an Exhibition – The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Painting yesterday I was thinking about the stories we tell ourselves or the things we have been told and taken on as THE TRUTH, which may be unexamined and therefore NOT TRUE.

 

In terms of art here are a few stories that I have had to examine or am in the process of examining

 

  • Story 1 – Never use black paint! I was told this at art school. About 10 years ago I had an exhibition at Phoenix 369 Gallery in Edinburgh. When Andrew Brown the gallery owner came to my studio to discuss the exhibition, the paintings he liked were the ones where (in my mind) I had cheated and had used black paint. ‘You like the ones with black paint in best.’ I exclaimed. Never use black paint was not true!

 

  • Story 2 – Oil paint is better than acrylic because acrylic is a modern medium and not a traditional one! Messing about with acrylic paint today I realised that acrylic paint is different to oil paint. It is not a question of better or worse. I might prefer oil but that is different. My lungs have gone off oil paint so my revelation today was ‘Oh Wow! I am enjoying myself with acrylic!’ It has some qualities that are maybe different in a better way to oil, i.e. quick drying, can build up layers more quickly, no odour, non toxic, can hang on the wall at end of day and not have to wait for weeks to bring the painting into the house. My unexamined story has been a big hurdle for me to overcome. As anyone who has suggested acrylic paint to me over the past 2 or 3 years will know. Stubborn, resistant artist in the house!

 

  • Story 3 – Working from photographs in the studio is cheating!  A couple of days ago  I came to the conclusion that if one of my hero’s JMW Turner was alive in the days of photography, he would have definitely have worked from photographs as reference. Instead he created snapshot mini sketches and notes as reference in his sketchbook to then build up his big canvases in the studio. Using whatever aid is necessary to develop observation, memory, feeling and ultimately the painting… is not cheating! Much as I want to drag my canvas and paints to the beach everyday, middle of winter, Scotland, it is just not feasible. Using reference is not cheating.

 

  • Story 4 – The work is not good enough. I am including this one as I think it is an ongoing struggle for artists or creatives and definitely is a story that needs examining. The work is not good enough …. the work is good enough. Which one is true? Here are a few things to do to work it out. …. Take a photograph of the work – seeing it as a photo is revealing, step back, come back to it another day, write about it and the feelings that are coming up, note any ideas or inspiration, do another painting, look at the work in the mirror, again revealing…. Is it good enough? Good enough for what? What story are you telling yourself?  The large painting I made in acrylic paint yesterday is, at the moment, not good enough for my exhibition but it it has certainly been good enough as an experience as I have decided that THERE IS HOPE FOR ME AND ACRLIC PAINT! Painting is a journey. Your journey with your creativity IS GOOD ENOUGH.

 

As we go into 2017 I am going to pay attention to the stories I tell myself and ask the simple question ‘Is it true?’.

 

 

Happy New Year

Love Kirsten x

 

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‘Wave Goodbye’

Acrylic sketch on Canvas

23 x 30 cms

 

 

Diary of an Exhibition – Dreams and Symbols

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‘Homeward Bound’ Sea Chest

 

On Boxing Day after finishing painting and writing about ‘Homeward Bound’ I texted this photo to an extraordinary man I know who has been diagnosed with cancer for the second time.  I knew he was spending Xmas alone in quiet contemplation. It felt important to send it to him.

 

His reply – ‘Christ almighty!’. and shortly after a second text …

 

‘Dreamt last year was exploring a huge attic – I found an old chest and opened it. Was full of old embroidered cloths, gold brocades and gold chains – that is the chest in my dream. I especially remember the picture.’

 

I phoned him.

 

What followed was an amazing conversation about the symbols of the gold and jewels and the incredible embroidered patterned textiles that he described in further detail, being a metaphor for the music he still has to compose.

His unrealised, unfinished creativity. That the dream was a gift.

 

‘Your reminder of that dream is perfect timing’, he said, ‘literally half an hour before I came to know that the time left here on planet earth, and unknown but finite time, is to be creative. I am scared, but I am excited too. This has made me certain of what I have to do.’

 

‘I saw this quote today from Isaac Asimov, the great scientist and writer’ he continued

‘Asimov was asked what would you do if you only had a year to live.’

His reply – ‘Type faster.’

 

The symbol of the ship was traditionally a tattooed badge of honour that sailors would get after sailing round the notoriously dangerous waters of the Cape of Good Hope.

 

‘You have already sailed the Cape of Good Hope defeating illness once, the stormy dangerous sea. Now you are called to sail again, this time with a treasure chest of golden cloth…’
‘Kirsten, I want you to be my magic seeing mirror for this next journey…when I hold it up and look at myself in the mirror, I see you … keeping me moving forward in creativity.’
‘Yes!’ (Finding it hard to write what I feel about this. Yes is a powerful word!)

 

The ship  represents passage – our life journey

From one life to another

Earth bound to spirit (a gift for my dad)

For my friend, the passage from teacher, to which his life has been devoted, to composer – a different energy, a different voyage.

The beginning of new journey … an exciting one, but one on a stormy dangerous sea.

 

Clouds – emotions, change, problems, drama.

The stars – guides, hope, the cosmic up, thinking up, inner strength. 9 stars representing an ending,  a completion of 2016.

 

Water represents emotion. But it is also our planet and our body.

Water is everywhere – the clouds and vapours in the air, the water held in earth, water composing the majority of all living things. And water transmits vibration and stores memory. The body is 70 percent water. Healing, life giving water.

Water is flow, water is the vehicle for the painting

Without water the tree that became the chest would not have grown …

 

The sails – Harnessing the power of the wind, our thoughts, our inspiration, to move forward

The waves – Energy and movement, change, fear, depth and surface, form and the formless, undercurrents

The angels guides, the unseen, the unknown, the mysterious, hope, trust, faith and love, history and time, flights of fancy

Two angels The number 2  – union, mother father, two hands, symmetry

The circle – represents wholeness, birth, nothing and everything, eternity

The rope around the circle – ties, binds, the things that hold us safe but also stop us, connections, strength, weaving, creating

 

The treasure chest – our unique gifts and talents, our individual creativity, totally unique to us … our gold …

The Chest also represents the body as a container for our heart and soul …

keeping our treasures or our emotions close to our chest, hidden or opening our abundant treasure chest and releasing them fearlessly into the world.

 

None of us are getting out of here alive, how we spend our time is of the essence…

 

When we create something we never know who or how is is going to inspire or move another person forward… and move ourselves forward to in the process … dreams turning to gold … trust the creative flow …

 

There is treasure in store, me hearties!

 

 

 

 

Diary of an Exhibition – ‘Homeward Bound’ Sea Chest

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‘Homeward Bound’

 

I painted the inside image on the old sailors sea chest on Xmas Day and today, Boxing Day. I am home alone with a throat and chest infection. Painting a box, when my voice box is not functioning seems apt.

 

The title is ‘Homeward Bound’ and is in memory of dad, it would have been his birthday today. A memory box on Boxing Day.

 

As I painted I also started to remember my tutor at Epsom School of Art, in 1982,  the infamous performance artist, Kerry Trengove (1946 – 1991). Kerry once said to me ‘You will know that art IS your life when you paint on Christmas day.’ I remember being quite shocked by his statement. Who paints on Christmas day my 18 year old self wondered.

 

I thought about Kerrys influence too … How small moments in time, single sentences even, can have  a huge impact. Losing your voice makes you think about having one.  In 1977 Kerry created an endurance work ‘Eight Day Passage’ where he was buried in a small cell under the Acme Gallery in London and had to dig his way out. Buried alive… a rebirth…

 

The second angel on the lid was painted this morning, listening to the radio – memories and music of George Michael who died on Xmas day. Wham was definitely one of the soundtracks of art school days in the 80’s.

 

And so this box lid IS about death …

I had a dream a couple of nights ago that dad needed help to get ‘home’. He was very sick before he died in June, and the transit to fully embody as a spirit has been slow, the dream told me. The angels on the box are to help him on his passage. Homeward Bound we will all be one day… We don’t know when. May our passage be smooth.

 

This box has been here longer than me and hopefully will last longer too. It has already seen many lives, losing it’s own life as a tree, to become a sea chest.

 

Someone asked me a few days ago,  why are you wanting to paint on the inside, no-one can see the painting.

That to me is the point – a surprise, a secret, a hidden something…

A metaphor for the mystery of life …

The body as a container of life …

The mysterious workings under the lid …

The journey everyday to be at home inside ourselves …

 

This may all sound gloomy and odd to you, but really despite physically being unwell over this festive period my spirit has been peaceful and serene and painting the image gave me a feeling of joy, hope and renewal for the coming new year.

 

 

 

 

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(The Chest  when I bought it, painted in blue gloss paint! I distressed it with several layers of chalk paint and wax and lots of elbow grease sanding a few days ago. Under the blue gloss was white gloss and under that yellow! I think the finish I have given it looks antique now. In keeping with the actual age of the chest, revealing some of the antique pine. I will probably sand back some of the image inside when I am well. I like the way the surface of the chest echoes the surface of the sea in the oil painting.)

Diary of an Exhibition – Sea Chest

I am painting treasure chests –  sea chests to go with my seascapes for the exhibition in April.

 

Here is the first one….

It is a lovely old pine box that was painted in horrible black gloss paint, and had obviously spent it’s life in a shed somewhere.

 

I have let some of the age and history of the box shine through – the old pine and the black paint, by knocking back my painting  and giving it an aged look in keeping with its age,  but more importantly hopefully I have given it a whole new lease of life and it can continue gathering a history and not end up thrown into the dump or burnt, which may well have been its fate otherwise.

 

I like the idea of drawing with sand paper on painted wood, a bit like drawing with and eraser on pencil on paper.

 

I am using Danish painted furniture, antique sea chests and retro sailor tattoos as the inspiration for the imagery.

 

Am looking forward to setting up some photos of the treasure chests together when the oil paintings are properly dry.

 

 

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I still want to ‘weather beat’ the inside of the box, but am loving the red.

LET GO MAKE ART – It’s Body Magic! – Free Creativity Course

I have consistently produced artwork over the past twenty years …

 

I have not only paid my living expenses, but I have bought a house, some land, a horse  –  from selling my art. I am an independent artist!

 

Despite the fact that as a child I heard at school and from the adults around me  –

 

‘You will never make it as an artist’

‘You are not good enough’

‘Artists are crazy!’

‘It is too difficult to make your living as an artist’

‘Do something sensible with your life!’ ….

 

And despite being rejected from 5 art schools!

 

I have proved them all wrong!

 

How?

By learning the art of Body Magic…inspired by the wonderful Alexander principle…

 

 

  • By learning how to bring my whole self into the process of making art – body mindfulness!
  • By learning how to let go of unhelpful and often unconscious habits that block the flow of creativity
  • By developing a reliable understanding of my anatomy and how my thinking effects my movement, which in turn effects the art I make…
  • By learning how to make things easier!

 

This free 8 day e-course will help you do the same …

Learning Body Magic is all about finding EASE…

 

If you are interested in letting go to make art and finding out about the art of Body Magic at the same time this course is for you!

 

And it is FREE!

 

If you are interested in finding inspiration for your creativity why not give yourself a present and SIGN UP NOW at end of blog.

 

If you are already a creative person but feel you are stuck or need a creative jump start, a different perspective, then this free course may be just what you need…

Why not give it a go?

 

Being an artist or creative person of any kind is, in many ways,  being an alchemist or  magician –

 

  • Taking materials and transforming them into something wonderful…
  • Taking a piece of cheap paper, for example, and transforming it into something of high value by adding your unique presence to it!
  • It is so simple really and anything goes in art!

 

Success in art is available to anyone these days! Magical you, you can do it too!

 

It is just that so often we get in our own way by not having the confidence to let go and make art, by not believing in ourselves and our own unique perspective ..

 

Interested?

 

Your art may lead you to riches… you never know… you + art = pure gold.

 

Being an artist is all about creating a better future for yourself and others …

The world needs artists and creative thinkers right now.

 

So why not Let Go and Make Art?  It is Body Magic indeed.

 

Sign up below and 8 lessons will arrive magically into your in-box for the next 8 days and ease you into your art and your creative process.

 

More about Body Magic on the course.

 

See you there!

 

It’s fun!

 

Diary of an Exhibition – A Line in the Sand

 

A day at the the beach

Walking the spine

Drawing a line in the sand

Sea air

Waves

Shifts in energy patterns

 

I have been looking at the wave patterns on the beach seeing bodies … body consciousness … body maps on the beach …

 

I am lying in semi-supine a lot

Coming back to my back

For inspiration, release, rest, renewal and because it is cold and dark and winter and my Alexander Technique table is warm and rejuvenating

I can imagine lying on a warm beach, letting go, feeling good …

 

When I lie in semi supine, my realising muscles let go like grains of shifting sand, changing my perceptions and my feel …

 

Waves of my breath and the waves of my thinking effecting my muscles

Allowing change …

Expansion …

Allowing shifts in form and consciousness …

 

There is time to find freedom …

 

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Angels, dancing being

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Ribs, a spine, connective tissue…

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Female forms, a circle dance, rhythms

 

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The embrace – a madonna and child

 

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Walking the ribcage..

Diary of an Exhibition – Flow is a Wavy Line

Diary of an Exhibition – Flow is a Wavy Line

 

I walked on the beach yesterday thinking about painting seascapes and really hoping the sea air would clear my lungs

I was in a great flow of painting these last two weeks, then I messed up my lungs by having the wrong filter in the mask
A high followed by a low
Flow disrupted

 

But it has got me thinking about breathing again – to breathe, to be inspired

 

Inspiration
Breath
Tides
Flow
Wind
Waves
Seascapes

 

Breathe out, breathe out, breathe out, let go….
I have been doing lots of Alexander Technique whispered ah’s and it has helped a lot

 

I started to think about flow as a wavy line, the ups and downs of it
Flow is certainly not linear
Trying to control flow doesn’t work (well not for me)
But in such a linear wold it is easy to forget that, and bang our head against a hard wall

 

Flow, as in inspiration, being in the flow and letting artwork flow, just happens…
Like breathing
We don’t have to think about every breath
Yet we can bring our breath under our conscious control

 

Painting or drawing is like that
We make a conscious decision to show up to paint
To organise the art materials
To be present
Yet we don’t have to think about every brush stroke
We can let it flow
Not know where the next line is gong to go to
Be surprised by the journey of hand and eye on paper or canvas
Arrive at a new place, a new painting

 

Breathe and draw
Breathe and flow
Breathe and be delighted

 

Moments in time
Lines
Moments of breath
Inspiration

 

Flow surprises us
Flow is changeable
Ever changing
Limitless…

 

Flow is shifting and shifts
Present moment present time
Flow is present to oneself and more
Flow is getting out of the way
Flow allows…

 

Flow is a gift
Whispers of intuition
Barely heard ideas murmmering in the back of our mind take us there
Ignoring what comes in as intuition on the breath stops or limits the flow
When flow arrives it feels great
Flow is timeless
Flow is unpredictable
Flow is interesting
Flow cannot be contained…

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‘Flow take me over and bring grace’ – a prayer, a meditation….

 

I visited the bridge in the sea yesterday
The starting place for this exhibition
The tide was out again
I will keep going back until the tide is in…

 

Breathe out, breathe out, breathe out, the tide is out
Just keep breathing out
Allow it out
Take your time
Release slowly, softly, calmly, consciously
Waves come in groups of seven I believe… the seventh wave the biggest…
Breathe out…the in breath will simply flow in

 

Someone had graffited a message onto the bridge
Scrawled the words EASY on it’s structure

 

Flow is easy
Yet finding flow can seem tricky
In reality it is never more than a few breaths away
Maybe it is always there, just our perception is clouded, our breath held, fear masking the flow… breathing can be the bridge…

 

Flow and courage
A brave heart to be that vulnerable
Breath massages the heart

 

This week I chose not to worry or nag the flow but to let it take me….
Breathing my heart

A few conscious inspired out breaths are all I need to bring to the drawing board
Awakening tides
Awakening the feel
Awakening drawings with my breath
Drawing breath

 

Let flow take me up or down, into light or shade, let flow be a wavy line
A wavering line
Uncertainty is Ok

Trust
Breathe
Show up

 

This week I choose to flow into drawing with no expectation of outcome, which is just as well as I have only ever painted the sea in oils so far…

‘Forward and up and over the bridge’….
A title for a painting perhaps

 

For more about breath and inspiration CLICK HEREimg_3650

Diary of an Exhibition – Vapours, The Incident of the Mask!

Diary of an Exhibition – Vapours, The Incident of the Mask

 

GOOD NEWS! I am more an idiot than a lunatic!

 

Turns out that the mask I have been wearing had a dust filter and not a vapour filter in it! Who knew? Not me!

 

But my brilliant 80 year old retired biochemist friend, listened to my woes and thought something was odd, so took down the details, researched the mask and told me of my mistake.

 

No wonder my lungs have been hurting!

An artist with the vapours, Victorian melodrama scenario, light headed damsel in distress. and my very own Miss Marple… plot solved.

 

However, I AM going to experiment with other mediums for a while, and a couple of wonderful folk have pointed me in the direction of water soluble oil paints which I have NEVER tried. So something new waiting to be discovered.

 

I have been thinking about relationships – lungs, air, the sea, breathing, waves, Alexander Technique, wind, form… and getting ideas for paintings. So am turning a depressing blip of a few days into something positive in my mental sketchbook.

 

Meantime AHA, the incident of the mask over and note to self lots of Whispered AHHHHH’s – releasing out breaths to clear my lungs deeply.

 

I keep mentioning the whispered ah – if you want to find out more and why the school kids I teach call them ‘get out of jail free cards’…Click here

 

to a go to media download BREATHE, lessons in the Alexander Technique

 

Today am feeling a huge sigh of relief and blessed to have the Alexander Technique and clever problem solving caring friends in my life!

 

 

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Detail from ‘Luna Sea’

Oil on Canvas

80 x 100 cms

 

 

Diary of an Exhibition – Luna Sea

Diary of an Exhibition – Luna Sea

 

A grumpy two days of thinking oils and me are OVER! Not because I am not totally in love with oils, but because my lungs don’t like them anymore

 

This morning I decided to go into the studio and pack my oil paints away for now and let the atmosphere detox

The drying paintings can be locked into a contained space where the door can stay firmly shut until they have dried out!

 

I couldn’t help it…. once I was in there I just had to attempt to finish the painting started 2 days ago ‘Luna Sea’, painted over the couple of days of this super moon

 

A girl can’t help herself….Oil paint addict or something?

 

Here it is unfinished and finished

Waves and wind and rain

 

They photographs look like 2 different paintings, begging the question is a painting a physical object or in this digital era just an image?

 

I HAVE packed my paints up for now, to let my lungs recover, and am sitting wondering how to move forward with my seascape exhibition

 

Draw, draw, draw – the anatomy of a wave – seems to be the answer

 

I have no idea what kind of drawings I will make or what they will look like but it will be interesting to get clearer about the anatomy, if that is the right word, of wave energy, chaos or structure?

 

So that when I have a sneaky paint in oils sometime in the future….

 

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unfinished

 

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‘Luna Sea’

Oil on Canvas

80 x 100 cms

Diary of an Exhibition – Lunatic

Diary of an Exhibition – Lunatic

 

I have been busy – painting like a crazy loon

Well it is a super lune

Super moon

 

This painting has been hanging around my studio all summer – unfinished, unsure how I was going to move forward with it…

 

Today I started working on a seascape and as I did my usual, madly attempt to cover the white canvas as quickly as possible, I had an idea to work on this canvas too. That the super moon had awoken a new horse power….sea charged!

 

As I painted the words ‘The Moon Woke Me’ rattled around my head, a title…

 

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‘The Moon Woke Me’

Oil on Canvas

152 x 100 cms

 

 

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(detail)

 

It is a huge painting…

 

Then I went back to the seascape… thinking about how the moon affects the sea, affects bodies, waves of energy emerging and subsiding..

Wishing I lived closer to the sea to go there tonight..

 

 

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Oil on Canvas 100 x 80 cms – unfinished (?)

 

So why lunatic?

Because my lungs hurt, even though I have been wearing the crazy spectacle steaming mask!

 

I feel like an utter crazy lunatic – a super loon indeed!

 

I know I have breathed too many fumes from oil paint over 30 years of painting

I am sensitive to the fumes…. worse luck!

Yet because I love oil paint best, like a loony, I persist for it’s feel

 

I am feeling mega cheesed off and wheezy

Maybe the super moon is illuminating my super stupidity!

 

So tonight I keep going outside to breathe fresh air, working my lungs, hoping for the prickly feeling to GO AWAY!

 

Lots of Alexander Technique Whispered Ah’s…..

Waves of life

Breathe out, breathe out,  breathe out – let go…

Allow the fresh and new in…

 

And out there – not a super moon in sight

Just a dank dark cloudy Scottish night and a lunatic stubborn artist who probably had better give up oil paints!

 

So, what happens next? I don’t know…A new moon!?

 

But one way or another, I am going to have to pack up my oils for now, to clear out the gunk of fumes that is hurting me and experiment with other mediums for a while…

 

(William Blake has come into my life in weird ways twice in two days – so maybe it’s a signpost forward… Time to look at William Blake again… I love his work… tomorrow….)

 

 

 

 

 

Diary of an Exhibition – Lost Moments in Paint

Diary of an Exhibition – Lost Moments in Paint

 

As soon as you start a painting it becomes an attempt to find resolution to a problem

An ending
A visual solution

An idea unformed trying to find form
Each start is a commitment to the relationship
You are undertaking a journey
There is no turning back

 

The dialogue between colour and canvas, paint brush and intention

 

It’s no good stopping a painting before it is finished, no matter how hard the journey

If, by it’s completion, it is not your best painting, there are lessons to be learned

The next one will be better

 

I love oil paint because along the way you can change, change, change
Oil paint allows change in a way no other medium does

 

However lost moments in oil paint are the result
Sad sacrifices
Brave goodbyes (hankie moment coming up – sob sob..)

 

These images are some of the lost moments this week
Paintings that have emerged briefly

Moments of thought

Moments of almost resolution
The paintings that lie beneath are waiting to emerge another day
Glimpses of potential

 

I learned a word this week form my singer songwriter friend Woodstock Taylor – palimpsest
– a manuscript or piece of writing material on which later writing has been superimposed
– something reused or altered but still bearing visible traces of its earlier form

 

These images are some of the painting that lies underneath

 

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The painting hidden within my paintings this week

 

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The moments that existed – were enjoyed and now are gone

 

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Paintings surfacing briefly now hidden under the surface

 

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Thank goodness for a camera!

 

The sacrificed teaches – You have got to be brave, be prepared to lose and still move forward

You have to be prepared to change
So, my palimpsest paintings are starting places for the next paintings to be made

 

Ideas to come back to and reclaim

Diary of an Exhibition – Triptych

 

 

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40 x 40 cms

 

 

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40 x 40 cms

 

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40 x 40 cms

 

 

 

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‘Hope at Sea’

by Kirsten Harris

Triptych 120 x 40 cms

Oil on Canvas

 

I woke up this morning brooding on my triptych and whether I could resolve the problem of bridging the three images or not…
So I have been working on it…

 

The painting needs to dry now, the oil is so thick it is becoming unworkable and then I will decide if I have made 3 separate paintings or a triptych.

 

Hanging them on a big wall with space between each picture is the next step when the paint dries. But I am happy to leave the painting alone for now, and maybe I will decide it is complete.

 

 

 

 

Diary of an Exhibition – Triptych or Not?

I have been working on a triptych

 

The triptych started colourfully but the snowy light of the day seemed to influence the paint robbing the colour to a more subtle scheme

 

A triptych – 3 individual paintings becoming one

They have to work alone and together

 

I started to think of the painting in terms of relationship

 

Me

You

And the thing between us – the relationship

 

Alone and connected, all of us

 

The thing between, in this case the middle painting, has to connect from both sides and make sense of the other paintings

The middle painting is a bridge

From one place to another

 

With this thought the painting started to develop a narrative…

 

Two boats on the horizon

The viewer is seperated

Hope lies far out to sea…

 

A heavy cloud has gathered over the small boats

Light is needed

A way to reach the boats…

 

The boats are alone

Connected only by waves and sky

Are the boats going away or coming towards?

 

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For me, the painting works as 3 individual images

 

Do I stop here?

Or sacrifice the individual to make a cohesive whole?

Is it possible in this painting?

 

Finishing a painting is a little bit like correcting spelling mistakes and punctuation in a piece of writing

It doesn’t necessarily need much to bring it all together

To make sense of the structure

But often we need to look for a long time to find the missing comma

The missing brush stroke

 

Finishing a painting is finding a full stop.

 

Perhaps the full stop for now is the separated triptych

The bridge may not be possible in this work this time

A problem to solve another day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diary of an Exhibition – Wind and Sea

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‘Wind and Sea’

by Kirsten Harris

Oil on Canvas

122 x 92 cms

POA

 

On the way….to a painting..

 

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Sometimes interesting paint appears…

 

 

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Only to disappear again…

 

 

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Paintings hidden within paintings

Every brush stroke a thought

Like the wind changing the sea and sky

Our form changed by our thinking

 

Moments in paint

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On the way to itself

 

 

Diary of an Exhibition – Mask

Diary of an Exhibition – Mask

 

I allow myself to fail…. it’s a good strategy for success with oil paint, oil paint allows change

I am wearing a mask in the studio thinking about choices

Wear the mask and paint, or chose another medium?

I love to paint in oils

 

So today I chose to paint, and I will paint big and go for it

 

I will put my mask on and paint for the day….I will be disciplined and not breathe in any fumes

 

Painting the sea, I decide that it is easier to paint form than the formless

Painting the sea and the wind and the feeling of the beach is a challenge

Painting a horse or a lion feels easier

I stand at my easel and stay with it

 

The job is to feel – feel the movement, feel the space, feel the wind, feel myself there

A photograph is always going to be 2d and flat, no matter how beautiful

A painting has a chance of expressing something of the multi dimensional experience of being on the beach

Painting might seem old hat, but it does it for me!

 

When painting, it is best not to judge the progress of the painting

Stay present to every brush mark

Be in the painting

 

I am painting a large seascape

Evoking the beach

Disciplined about wearing my mask

The day is cold and sunny and bright, the door is open

Maisie dog is being undemanding

 

I woke this morning thinking about chalk pastels

The perfect medium to take to the beach

Instant colour

A solution for sketching

I am happy with that thought

 

I must make every brush mark count today

I can’t afford to waste my lungs –  too many years painting in oils and breathing in toxic fumes

Now I have to limit the amount of oil paintings I make

 

Today I painted the sea

 

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Wind and Sea

Oil on Canvas

80 x 100 cms

 

 

 

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Tools of the trade

The aftermath

I am a very messy painter!

 

 

Diary of an Exhibition – Chasing Light

Diary of an Exhibition – Chasing Light – Day 2

 

I am chasing light

Obsessed with clouds

Tormented by the sky

 

I visited the bridge again today

The tide was out

 

Driving towards him  – a weather front

Torrential rain for the last few miles

But I could see clear sky in the direction of the bridge

I was excited

 

These are painterly clouds

 

The stream was bigger today, much bigger

She had a new energy, the rain had filled her

 

I painted the bridge before I left for the sea, getting to know him

He interested me more than I thought he would

I thought I would be scared of his structure, but I am not

Though I don’t yet know how to describe him

 

The oil sketch was terrible

My lungs started to hurt even though I was wearing a mask

I think the culprit was a ‘fast drying white oil paint’

I have thrown it away

 

But I have started

Better to start than to be scared of starting

Scared of making a fool of oneself

Who cares about that – only me –  and that is a hindrance

Let it go – be the fool

 

There were more rainbows over the sea today

I ran towards them

 

I took many photographs and wondered why I would need to paint

But a photograph is always inadequate

The grandeur is lost

No-one would chose a photograph over a Turner sea, a Constable sky…

 

The sky and sea of the last two days –  the paintings of August Strindberg

 

Homeward a grey sky with greyer pig clouds – they really did look like pigs, lots of them

Should I just continue painting animals?

i can paint animals!

Why am I wanting to paint the ethereal…the not there?

 

The sky is incredible today

The sky has wow factor

 

A giant leopard sky accompanied me home across the moor stretching her orange light body across the horizon, small clouds her spots

A horse appears next to the moon

The sky is mocking me

I should be painting animals

Another doubt thought

Who am I kidding.. wanting to paint like the great masters of paint

 

An expanding circular rainbow opens around the crescent moon lighting a lonely hill… Samuel Palmer would know how to paint this mystical, yet very British landscape..

I want to paint the night

 

Paintings in words

 

I had a strange vision of light and colour at the harbour

Steely graphite grey sea contained by the harbour wall

A richer deeper coloured sea beyond the limitations

I have set myself up to fail

Is it safe to leave the harbour?

The sea is rough

 

A moored red fishing boat

The horizon turns pink

Singing steel grey and pink – it’s a great look

The harbour sucks in the pink light energy

The rose tinted ease of sunset glows

The enclosure is suddenly circled by a large flight of spiralling white gulls

A painted vortex of light moving

Everything will be alright

Hunger is making me strangely visionary

 

It changes fast

It all changes too fast

 

I am questioning mediums…

My love is oils

How can I paint an entire exhibition in oils if my lungs hurt after an hour?

 

A painting is an object as well as an image

My lungs object to oils!

What kind of object am I making?

 

 

 

Diary of an Exhibition – The Bridge in the Sea

Diary of an Exhibition – Day 1

The Bridge in the Sea

 

A bridge on a beach crosses a stream
When the tide comes in the stream is immersed by the sea
The bridge is stranded in the middle of the ocean
No one can cross to him
He is useless… a bridge from nowhere to nowhere

 

Little stream flowing out to sea, you will become changed forever
You will become salty

 

Today the bridge is useful –
A crossing place from one shifting sand to another
A connector

 

The tide rises and the stream disappears
The little stream is consumed by an energy bigger than herself
There is nothing she can do
She merges and becomes one with the sea
She hasn’t reached her destination but the sea has claimed her

 

Is she lost?

 

Incoming sea,  my emotions rise high, I too must wait
There is no bridge for me
The bridge is unreachable

I am at sea
Wait for the tide to go out, there is nothing to do
Wait –  the flow of the little stream will reappear
Trust

 

Little stream will you take me forward into my flow?

Now you are here again… up and over the bridge I can go

 

Up and over the bridge…a whisper to my ankles… up and over the bridge… a whisper to my legs …. up and over the bridge….my hips… many bridges…

 

The tide has risen, there is nothing to do, be present
I cannot swim out to you I will drown
The current will consume me

 

There is nowhere for me to be but here alone

 

The winter’s night is long
Only the ocean is available
Merge and become one
I have done it before

 

The stream has been eaten by the tide
The sea has devoured her
She has lost her own path
Her course is invisible
She accepts and waits

 

The moon pushes and pulls
Days and nights will pass
The tide comes in, the tide goes out
I breathe… I must remember to breathe
Ahhhh… I whisper to the wind
Arghhh… the wind screams back
The gust is so strong, but the stream is not altered

 

I look to you, the bridge in the sea today
You with your strange metaphors
A bridge from this non place to that non place
My unmade image is in the ocean, my seascape
Help me bridge!
You are solid and structured, but strange too

 

When the tide comes in – you bridge the present invisible
When the tide is out –  you bridge the flow

 

I cannot see the flow but it is here
I wait for my flow to emerge thinking the wind
Little stream I am here…waiting for YOU
I know YOU will appear

 

I am lost staring out

The sea of uncertain change becomes a dark streak of power on the horizon
I watch white horses
I want to capture the power you have over me, but I know I never can
I am awash with choppy emotions
I will paint you to the best of my ability
It is all I can do

 

You are a very little stream but you seem confident and tireless
You are strong resolute bridge for such a little stream…the sea must really bash you up sometimes

 

My paintbrush you are a bridge
My intention another bridge

Today we are separated – the sea, the paint, the desire

 

I am clear I will paint seascapes all winter…and the spring will come again
I will paint the colour of love into the captured tide….I will let you obsess me

No-one can help me to the other side…the painting done

 

The tide goes out at a certain time, there is a rhythm to it
I paint, but I can only paint at certain times… there is a rhythm to that too…time….wait for me…I need you

 

Today I visited the bridge in the sea
The wind was high and cold
Exhilarating and freezing
The tide was out
The bridge let me glimpse the stream below to pass to the other side

I visited the sea who had pulled away from the shore
I was glad

 

The wind was in control of the day

 

‘I am here and I want to paint!’ I said
‘NO!’ said the wind ‘You may not!’
You can not capture the sea today
I am too strong for you
My force is penetrating
I will blow you away
You who are nothing’

 

 

 

 

 

Transforming Stuff

Transforming Stuff
by

Kirsten Harris

I can transform stuff with a thought!

 

Oh, what a wonderful sentence!
The one I so wanted to be true when I was a ittle girl. I’d watch Bewitched and twiddle my nose and nothing would happen. I’d climb into the wardrobe and go absolutely no-where. No Narnia in the back of my bedroom cupboard. Worse luck!

 

How I yearned to be able to transform stuff.

Perhaps we all do?
Perhaps that’s the reason Harry Potter is so popular!?

We want to transform stuff with a thought – to be magicians!

 

And we can!
I learned how to transform stuff when I started having Alexander lessons age 24. The light bulb switched on in my befuddled brain in that first lesson in Edinburgh with Astrid Cox. The heavenly choirs sang, cartoon birds flew around my head. It was amazing! It was magical transformation, and I was in charge of it. My life changed for ever in that first lesson. I was being shown the way to finding my inner power, to being the magician I so longed to be!

 

So, I can transform stuff!
I pick up my paintbrush and make a mark on paper or canvas. It is transformed. Creatively or destructively… that’s up to me, but the transformation is…

 

I send a thought through my neck, my shoulder, my armpit down my long arm and out of my fingers – my arm releases, lengthens. Transformed by my magical thinking…

 

The transformed thinking transforms my painting. Win Win, Think Think. Body Magic! (click) 

 

I have choice, masses and masses or transforming choices, moment by moment, day by day..

 

But I am human! So what do I do?
I get stuck on the things I have no control over!
Batter my head against walls I cannot climb…
Try to push heavy rocks up hills…..

 

I can’t change you!
I can’t make you think or act differently…
I can’t make you speak to me…
I can’t make you see my point of view….

and
I can’t bring you back from the dead….

 

But I can change me…
Can I think differently?
Can I speak to me?
Can I see your point of view?
and
Can I bring me back from the dead?

 

This year has been hard, cancer – death in the family.
I have carried on making art, but my art has become smaller, tighter, controlled, safe.

 

It is time again for me to transform my stuff.
Stand up and face myself in the studio.
Let go and transform the death stuff into the stuff of life…
Not worry about what is going to happen next. Trust!
Come back to creation…
Squeeze vibrant oil colour onto my glass palette and be present to the materials that speak to me…
Let the colour tell me what to do…
Feel my way forward with oil on brush again…(my wand)
Show up and let my transformation happen…
Allow myself not to know what the painting is going to look like, where it is going to take me…
Let my life appear on canvas…

 

Only my fear has kept me away form my beloved oil paints.
Death got in the way.

 

Painting calls on us to show up, really show up and be open to the transformation that we will discover when we let go of fear, release ourselves from old stuff, bad stuff to let ourselves transform.
Making any art is an act of transformation.
It requires a certain boldness and a certain devil may care attitude to stand in our own presence, to allow vulnerability. To let our stuffiness out…
We become magicians for a short while.
We become extra-ordinary.
And people recognise it, instinctively, intuitively…
They offer you money for your work!

A thought becomes the sea… thought upon thought building up to become moving waves of energy…the energy becomes a horse… becomes breath.. a diaphragm…space…

 

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I am processing my life as I paint, meditating in colour, feeling my way forward, listening to shades of blue, white light…

 

It is work and it is play. It is serious and it is fun! Thought after thought. Alexander Technique’s conscious control….
Art has presence
Spirit contained on canvas
Life transformed into colour
Thought speaking through visual image…

 

And yes, sometimes we get stuck.
We can’t face ourselves in this way because life has got horrible and scary.
Life has become too much…We might go wrong. Paint something ghastly…

I can’t be bothered! Can I hide in the cupboard?
Transformation? No thanks!…. I want to be safe.

Quite OK stuck in my habit, thanks awfully!

 

Standing in a cold studio on a bleak day in Scotland meeting my true self or watching crap TV on a squashy warm sofa? Hmmmmm….

 

Can I transform stuff?

 

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At the end of this blog is a link to a free 8 day course ‘Any Body Can Paint.’
Exploring ideas around creativity and Alexander Technique….

I’m Stuck!

 

I’m Stuck!

by Kirsten Harris

 

Do you ever get stuck – physically, mentally, emotionally?

Stuck in your work?

Stuck with your creativity?

Stuck in your relationships?

Stuck in your thinking?….

I do! For sure!

 

Pondering my present ‘stuck-ness’ I decided I would use the notion of being stuck as a subject for teaching my high school teenagers, as the sentence ‘I’m stuck’ reminded me of being at school….

 

Here are some answers from the children from yesterdays class-

 

What happens when you think ‘I am stuck?’

 

My shoulders tighten

I get frustrated

I get a headache

My breathing goes weird

I feel stupid

I stop trying

I feel defeated

I feel frozen

I don’t know how to move forward

I feel anger, annoyance or irritation

I feel worried

 

What solutions could we find when we feel stuck?

 

Acceptance.

Stop.

See the bigger picture.

Know when to stop – noticing when I feel tiredness, sore or achey.

Notice when I have stopped being productive.

Notice when I am practising my mistakes.

Notice when I am losing focus.

Notice that I am creating obstacles.

Need to think about how to get around the obstacle.

Notice I can’t do it as I am trying to do it.

Think about how I am, how my body is.

Ask for help, but that’s difficult because of fear of being wrong especially in class and my stubbornness or pride!

Sometimes I feel stuck before I give it a go. I think I can’t do it.

I don’t want to do the things that are tricky so I put them off until last, then I spend more time feeling stuck.

I need to prioritise, because sometimes I feel there is not enough time, and that makes me feel stuck.

Notice that when I am all tight and bunched up it gets harder.

 

Aren’t kids insightful and brilliant!

 

What really struck me about the conversations is – are we taught how to ‘deal’ with being stuck or being wrong or making a mistake?  Do we just fear being wrong and get defensive instead of welcoming not knowing or our mistakes as a chance to learn, grow and create better connections?

 

What is your strategy for being stuck?

The skills that Alexander Technique provide consistently surprise me as a ‘fool proof’ paradigm for working through my stuck-ness.

Good job I find Alexander Technique consistency foolproof as I am so often a fool!

I love that the principles consistently move me to seeking truth.

 

Are children who are naturally questioning taught the art of questioning?

Or does asking a question become something to be ashamed of?

I remember a school report saying ‘Kirsten asks too many questions why!’ I thought it was a crazy report when I was 9 years old, and I still do!

 

The kids that I teach Alexander Technique to know how to access poise and the inner strength that it gives them. They know how to think and change instantly. However they informed me yesterday that they do not like to be forward and up in poise and direction in general class situations for fear of ‘being seen to be the teachers pet!’ They prefer to slump!

 

The school culture is slump.

Culturally we are allowing kids to become stuck!

Physically stuck and therefore inevitably mentally and emotionally stuck.

A class room of kids with the consensus downward pull of gravity being the major unconscious influence on the growing bodies.  School education is not teaching an understanding of up or buoyancy or balance.

The kids want to be seen as normal. Slump is the norm!

 

The lucky few who get Alexander lessons as part of education at this state high school, constantly ask –

‘Why doesn’t everyone at school get Alexander Technique? School would be better!’

They know they are lucky…

They know they are being taught skills that they can apply to all sorts of situations…

They know they are getting an advantage….

 

I remember the late Don Burton saying during our training – ‘As Alexander Technique teachers we will know our job is done when the world no longer needs us!’

In schools our job has not even begun!

 

And so yesterday we ended the class discussion on being stuck with the kids choosing to stop and constructively rest. A bit of semi-supine in the middle of a hectic school day.

 

But first the children decided to do the mathematics and see if there really is enough time to stop in a day.

They worked out (I was stuck with the maths) that if we take the ubiquitous seventeen minutes for semi supine, in a 24 hour period there are 84.7 seventeen minute slots available!

 

Insightful teenagers who are great at maths. I love my job!

 

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I am currently writing about unsticking creatively, see link below or

If you would like to find out more about the benefits of  constructive rest click the links below to take you to my media downloads.

Body Magic

Breathe 

 

 

 

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What’s nagging away at you?

 

What’s nagging away at you?
by
Kirsten Harris

 

I am chewing the cud with regard those thoughts that nag away at me. What are they saying and what they are about? Why are they so persistent?
I have decided to call these nagging thoughts horse power thoughts, as I am realising that they are important messengers.

These are the kind of thoughts that I intuitively know are going to take me forward in life.  However I so often ignore them!

Do you know the ones I mean?

Does it happen to you?

The really good idea that feels difficult. The brilliant intuition that calls on you to move out of the so called ‘comfort’ zone, that to be honest with the nagging horse power thoughts in the background is more of a ‘discomfort zone.’

 

So why do I so often ignore these useful thoughts, ideas and inspirations? Those little whinnies from my stable brain that are not going to go away.
I ignore and they nag, nag, nag….For days, weeks, months and even years. And I carry on with the ‘donkey’ work, chained to the known and the should and oughts that I think I have to do..

 

Low level guilt accompanies my mule like resistance, as I plough through life’s duties.

 

So today my thought is that those nag thoughts are a call of my creative flow…
They are horse power thoughts…. and like a lively magnificent steed pawing the ground, inviting me to climb aboard, exciting and unnerving…

Horse power thoughts scare us because they are going to move us forward.
They are going to transform us.
Lift us out of the mundane, give us wings, help us charge forward in life.  In short, horse power thoughts may just change us to become the magical mystical creatures we really are.

Perhaps it is an inbred herd mentality that choses to stay safe rather than run wild and free with the horses of our creative mind.
We want to change yet stay exactly the same! Change means confronting our ‘true’ self? Yes,  that can be a little unnerving for sure!
And so I plod along in life instead of galloping forward.

 

Just like our equestrian counterparts I can tighten my neck when frightened…a horse power thought, hmmm, not today! Not enough time! Not enough money!
I  freeze and fix myself, hold my breathe or run away, pulling in the opposite direction or work even harder on what I already know.

 

So what is going to encourage me to move forward? The carrot or the stick? Probably neither….

 

I am called to tune into and listen to what my ‘horses’ are saying… to show up and be really present to that nagging, see it as whispers from my intuition, my higher self…and follow the impulses.

Follow the float.

Allow myself a little time each day to BE my horse power thoughts.

Those nagging voices are not going to shut up, I might as well listen, for perhaps they really are encouraging me gently to let go into the creative flow. To giddy up and enjoy the ride!img_0437

Get Out Of My Way!

Get Out of My Way!
by Kirsten Harris

 

Get out of my way I want to create
GET OUT OF MY WAY!

 

Who or what is in the way?
Me of course!
It is only ever me, my thinking, that gets in the way of my creativity. Like a rabbit caught in the headlights I let fear, ‘excusitis’, laziness, procrastination, not good enough, no time, startle pattern trapped in my body – and another large dose and dollop of fear get in my way. Get out of my way you lot!

 

If it’s not love, it’s fear…..The two states are a choice, simple. I chose love! Not scared rabbit.

 

Creativity, be it painting or any other art form, is a work of love.
It feels vulnerable. We are falling in love…with ourselves…with our work, and we have absolutely no idea what the outcome will be. It is scary.

 

To be creative we have to allow the vulnerability and just go for it. Let go of the reasons why we can’t. Turn up and allow ourselves to love in the moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing is guaranteed! But it will NEVER be a waste of time.

Creativity may feel vulnerable but it is also powerful and safe.
Your feet are on the ground…. you are not going to fly off planet earth.
Your breath nourishes the work… inspiration.
Your head in the air….. let it soar, up up up to your wildest imaginations, dreaming in cosmic space.
Your heart is open …. allowing love to pour through you and out of you, onto paper, canvas, as painting, writing, music….

Being creative is a work in the present continuous…. you will never get it done.
It is an experiment with being alive. Being present to the freedom available to you, listening for your freedom.

And of course the startled rabbits are going to pop out of their holes, suddenly, unexpectedly. So what! Ignore them! Ignore the fear thoughts, you don’t need to stare back. They will flee back underground just as quickly. Magically disappear into the invisible dark warren.

 

Recently I wrote a creativity course – Any Body Can Paint. I wrote it in the flow, an outpouring of love.
My thinking is already developing about it…It now comes with a fun disclaimer!
I am not going to teach you to paint! You are going to teach yourself to paint….

 

Here is Vincent Van Gogh –
“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”
Substitute the word paint for create if you are not a painter.

 

My creativity course is a work in progress. It is where my creative flow is at the moment.
It is for anyone who needs some encouragement, who has resistance or fear they would like to let go of.
I aim to keep writing about my experiences with art and Alexander Technique, and yes, the rabbits are popping out of the holes, trying to distract me, get me to chase them. I am on a new journey. I would love you to join me.

Let’s make our lives more creative….No more startled creative rabbits caught in the headlights of fear.
The world NEEDS creative people right now!
The world needs your creativity. Your unique perspective. We need all sorts of creative solutions.

So my question is – do you need a little help turning your creative tap on?
In my opinion creativity is the FLOW.
When I get out of my own way it just happens.
The ‘art’ then is about getting out of my own way.
Why not give my 8 day course a go (see below)… It’s a start… art is in start…
You never know what your creative bunny might produce.You’ve read this far, maybe some bunny loves you….img_0518

Any Body Can Paint – Even A Horse!

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Last year Angus learned to paint – with a little gentle encouragement from me.

A roll of pre-primed canvas and some black poster paint brushed on his hooves…

He loved it – anything for a carrot, and I love the result!

Angus’s paintings have been hanging on my kitchen wall ever since.

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There was a serious aim to the fun idea.

I wanted Angus to be bolder, more trusting and accurate about where he puts his feet.

I just thought I would turn his training into art.

And of course, how cool a painting horse!

I believe any body can paint…..even a horse! He has a body, he can paint!

I have a painting horse..

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Have you always wanted to paint, but think you’re not good enough to be an artist?

Well if a horse can paint art that people love, you definitely can!

 

I loved the scroll that Angus made, very Japanese looking, but decided to cut it down and frame the result, after applying a bit of hoof oil to the canvas to give a sepia tint and disguise the inevitable odd muddy mark.

 

What do you think of the result?

Would you buy an abstract painting made by a horse?

Angus whispered to me that he might consider taking commissions… : )

 

I am offering a FREE online art course, available at the end of this blog.

I think the Any Body Can Paint Course is a creativity course that can be applied to music, coaching or writing etc as well as painting. That’s the feed back I am getting….

 

It is written combining Art and Alexander Teacher and is designed to free up your inner artist.

 

Why not give it a go and see what creative ideas you come up with… Let me know… the madder the better….

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My Shetland Ponies, Lettie and Walter, feature in the course too!

It’s a bit of fun and it’s free.

The course is in the form of 8 emails delivered over 8 days into your inbox.

 

Giddy Up…Give it a go…

 

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I am Successful!

I Am Successful!

by Kirsten Harris

 

I am successful, and that makes me feel good.

Does it shock you, me saying that?

It’s true! I am successful and so are you!

 

To be honest, I think I had forgotten the simple, fundamental fact – success is a state of mind!

It is pretty easy to lose a sense of success, with so many self-help programmes around, promising better health, more money, improved relationships….. if you buy this course, follow that programme, do this, do that! Let alone the consumer society.

 

I think I had let a whole set of confused, partially examined values, judgements, comparisons and fears make me feel unsuccessful!

All the ‘not enough’ thoughts had blinded me to my own absolute success. My thinking had got out of balance. I don’t need more money, better health, a nicer car, a husband.. to be a success. The fact that I am alive today proves that I am successful. It is so simple it makes me laugh!

 

I am successful right here, right now.

All the shoulds, try hards, I must improve and do, do, do thoughts simply slip away. Success is as easy as letting my neck be free!

 

My success and my sense of humour seem to be totally linked together. Inseparable friends in the kingdom of ease. Or in my case, the queendom of ease! I am a successful woman after all, and I love it.

 

As Einstein is quoted saying ‘Try not to become a man of success, but rather a man of value.’

 

How successful do you feel right now? Are you defining success or is an idea of success defining you?

I have been letting go of all the definitions of success that society shoves at me all day long and remembered that I am already successful. I am finding that it really is a much easier way to be. A fun, funny, inspiring freedom to be creative within.

 

 

 

The Nun, Picasso and Me

First day of school, age 11 – knock knees, straw boater and white gloves!

 

The Nun, Picasso and Me

by

Kirsten Harris

 

I have recently started writing about art and the process of making art.

It has led me to the question, why did I chose art as a route in life in the first place?

Believe me, I was discouraged the whole way –

 

‘No-one ever makes a living from art!’ ‘

‘Only mad people become artists!’

‘Kirsten! You’re not THAT good!’

‘You’ll end up being an artist for the government, drawing the dole!’

That helpful comment was usually accompanied by guffaws of laughter followed closely by the quip ‘Ha Ha Ha, A piss artist!’

 

Proof that all the nay-sayers were correct came when I was rejected from 5 art schools. Uptight, slumped, angry teenager I was lost for words when the art schools asked about my process.

What process? I didn’t have one!

I completely froze at the interviews.

 

Yet I persisted..and persisted….something has always kept me going…

 

Looking back I realise that Sr Marie Therese, the ancient, diminutive, French nun who was my art teacher at school (yup, convent girl) had planted a seed that endured. It is only now I fully realise what she did. She encouraged! She helped us find a beauty that we were capable of revealing.

 

Every girl at the school, year after year, passed art O’level. There were no failures in her class.

 

Sr Marie Therese would always find something of merit in our endeavours and help us build from there. A use of colour, an excellent brush mark, a tiny bit of the paper that we had managed to make look beautiful with our pots of poster paints. She spotted something good in us all as she went round the room inspecting our work. She applauded. She was genuinely delighted.

 

‘Look, Zat bit eez good!’

 

By drawing our attention to the good bits and ignoring the rest, we made progress.

So simple, so effective, yet so completely stand alone in my school education that art became my calling.

The glimpse of light that I felt I could work towards. A seed of encouragement dropping into the murky waters of my teenage mind.

 

But what of Picasso?

 

One day Sr Marie Therese showed me a portfolio of her exquisitely painted gouaches of circus scenes – performers, horses, acrobats, clowns, monkeys, crowds of people and fabulous Parisian street scenes. Painting after painting full of adventure and drama, colour and comedy, observation and exageration. I had never seen anything like them before and never have since. The closest I can think of are Seurat’s circus scenes, but these were smaller, more complex and infinitely more jewel like.

They were incredible…Alive! Still burning in my mind’s eye more than 35 years later.

 

And then she told me she had been a friend of Picasso as young woman in Paris.

 

‘Wow you knew Picasso!’ I enthused in my excited 15 year old way.

‘Sister these are amazing! You are a brilliant artist! Wow! Look at that! Wow!’

 

Something in her clammed up.

‘Zat eez enough now. Go! Go!’ She hastened me out of the art room.

 

I found out that not long after Sister destroyed all her paintings! She said she had exhibited a terrible ego to show me and that was wrong. What a huge loss to the art world!

 

Why had Marie Therese become a nun? What had happened in Paris that had led her to the convent? I will never know

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But I will never forget her amazing paintings. Or that she taught me we learn best through encouragement – having our own beauty shown to us through our endeavours, so we can follow its path.

 

As Picasso said – ‘I start with an idea, and it becomes something else.’

 

I started with an idea of being an artist, a light was lit, though only dimly burning for many years. It wasn’t until learning Alexander Technique that my work was truly ignited and started to sell. Alexander Technique encouraged. The lesson had come full circle. I learned to work with what was working, and let go of the rest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Any Body Can Paint – Free Online Art Course

My free online art course based on Alexander’s discoveries is now ready to send out, so hopefully the techno side of things will be done tomorrow, and it will be with you by Friday at the latest….

 

Learning the Alexander Technique was a game changer for my art.

 

It gave me a confidence and freedom that I had been unable to find.

I started to really enjoy painting.

It turned me into a selling artist.

 

I have written this course for several reasons

 

  • I believe Any Body can Paint. The phrase anybody can paint might bring up all sorts of resistance in you, but you have a body, therefore any body can paint.  You can make images. I hope the course will set you on a new path to freedom.
  • Developing body awareness whilst you paint is key. Musicians know that body awareness drastically improve performance, so do actors. Horse riders too! I have taught Alexander Technique in these disciplines . But how about artists and people wanting to learn to paint and draw?
  • A couple of colleagues challenged me to draw from my 20 years experience as a selling artist, and my 20 years experience as an Alexander Technique to create a course for artists.

 

I am offering this foundation course free as it is a way for me to learn if I can indeed draw my two passions together. I have loved writing it. The only thing I ask is that you will send me an email at some point during or after the course and tell me how it went for you…

 

What you got out of it and what you would like in the future?

Where you are now with your art and if anything changed?

 

Fill out your email below and you will receive the course from me very soon.

I will be sending the lessons out over 8 days.

 

ALL THE BEST

Kirsten

 

Art and Alexander Technique – Free online course

Just a quick update to say my ANY BODY CAN PAINT – LET GO MAKE ART

Foundation Course is very nearly finished.

 

It comprises of 7 complete lessons coupling both art and Alexander Technique.

 

I have designed it for anyone who

  • would like to free up as an artist
  • wants to paint but is daunted by the white piece of paper or blank canvas
  • has a stack of unused art materials
  • feels they are not good enough to be an artist, despite enjoying art at school
  • was put off art at school
  • feels that their art work never improves
  • feels that they try to hard when painting and drawing but always get the same result
  • feels there is a budding artist waiting to get out
  • went to art school but has never painted since
  • gets aches and pains when they draw or paint
  • wants to paint bigger, bolder paintings
  • would like a different approach to art

 

As far as I am aware this is the first ever online art and Alexander Technique course!

Will it work? Only you will be able to tell me..

 

Sign up here to receive your free course straight into your in-box very soon.

 

See you then

Kisten

Free Online Course – ART and THE ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE

Free Online Art Course – ART AND THE ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE

by Kirsten Harris

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Can you relate to my sketch?

 

Do you want to paint or draw but don’t know how or where to start and just think you are rubbish at art? Or love painting and think you need to loosen up?

Then this course is for you.

 

I am exploring my creativity in a new way by writing an online art course based on Art and the Alexander Technique.

 

It is a totally new venture for me.

 

When my mentor suggested I do this I was extremely sceptical. In fact I remained sceptical for about 4 months, until the penny finally dropped! I could do it!

 

I have almost finished writing it, and I am LOVING the process.

 

For 20 years I have painted and sold my work consistently and I have taught the Alexander Technique to lots of different types of people – horse riders, musicians, actors, people with back pain… But I have never taught artists or art! It now seems crazy that I have never done this as I am finding I have masses to teach. I am excited.

 

I am offering this 7 day FOUNDATION COURSE FREE, as it is a learning curve for me too.

I want to find out if there is an interest.

I want to find out whether people like my ideas.

I want to find out whether they help you to let go and make art.

 

So let me know. And just now if you have time, perhaps you could let me know what your Number 1 challenge with your artwork is?

 

My goal is to write a year long course – Wow I can’t believe I have just said that!

 

If you are interested in learning more about Art and how Alexander Technique can transform your art, then sign up,  the course will be delivered to you FREE in the next few days. I am just going through a massive learning curve on the computer too! So please bear with me as I learn the technology.

 

I totally believe that any body can paint and that the combination of art and Alexander Technique together will help you. It certainly helped me!….The course is coming really soon!

 

ANY BODY CAN PAINT FOUNDATION COURSE –

Art and Alexander lessons by me, for you, sent with my love and passion for both subjects.

 

In the meantime –

 

To find out more about Alexander Technique

www.kirstenharris.co.uk

LIKE my Facebook page The Daily Ease Alexander Technique

https://www.facebook.com/kirstenharrisalexendartechnique/

 

To find out more about my artwork

www.kirstenharrisart.com

LIKE my Facebook page Kirsten Harris Artist Click Here

https://www.facebook.com/Kirsten-Harris-Artist-416388555064662/

 

OK, back to finishing off the course. See you soon.

 

Forward and Up

Kirsten

 

 

The Artist’s Wobble

The Artist’s Wobble

by Kirsten Harris

 

I recently had a wobble….a big flood gate opening one….I wobbled and wobbled and wobbled, and I thought I was going to fall…. do you get the pretty picture? A mad artist in a storm having a major mini crisis!

 

I had been on a 5 day out pouring of creativity.

 

Loads of new ideas were coming to me, and I was getting them down as fast as I could. I was feeling high. I sat with the work and the work came. I was in the flow. Alone, enjoying it, inspired, feeling alive, surprising myself. It seemed to have it’s own life force.  It felt great and I was excited.

 

I had an idea for something that could potentially be my next phase of work and after this 5 day outpouring I decided I wanted to share my new beginning.

I sent it to a friend.

My friend unwittingly trampled all over the my work.

I know he absolutely did not intend to hurt me but my confidence was knocked and I had a big wobble.

 

I cried, felt despair, felt inconsolable and eventually felt anger and indignation too. Crazy lady artist in the house having a major wobble!

Why had I not just stayed true to myself and the process that I was allowing to happen? Why had I shared it? Why did I need approval?

 

Of course it was a learning curve for me…. The wobble was part of the process.

 

I started to understand that I would not have been so upset if the work wasn’t really important to me. I had opened myself up in a new way and had poured my heart and soul into it. I was having a reaction.

 

I has just gone through a ‘birthing’ process…I know the beginning of dreams are vulnerable. Why didn’t I  protect my new ‘baby?’

Creativity is to be cherished, nourished, watered, given the right light conditions to grow…

New ideas are potential gold….

No matter how small, they are precious jewels in a mundane world….

I had forgotten to treasure and protect the seeds I had just found.

 

I had been in my poise, a fine golden thread was appearing that I was loving. Instead of honouring the delicate balance of ideas spinning before me into a bright new interesting cloth, my impatience and ego got in the way and I shared. My little germinating sapling did not have enough life force to stand up alone no matter what.

 

So I let someone else’s words knock me off balance. As I understood what had happened I had another wobble. How could I be so stupid? So needy? So ridiculously enthusiastic? I was a loony!

 

Then it came to me –

 

Poise has a wobble inherent within it.

 

My art has always been at it’s best when I am poised.  Poise is not a very on-trend word but my goodness it is an important one..

 

Poised in the wobble. My sense of humour was resurfacing.  I was coming back into balance, the self-righting mechanism returning.

 

Alexander Technique has always been the key to unlocking my creative flow and it releases the energy that flows within my work. It has also aways been my way home to myself.

 

Poise, balance and flow allow movement and have a wobble inherent within. Aha!

 

The wobble, a delicate teeter totter that comes when we don’t fix or hold ourselves into a position – physically, mentally, emotionally or creatively.

 

Being wobbly is allowing our vulnerability. It goes with the territory.

 

So maybe not so much the crazy, mad artist, but the artist who allows the wobble in order to stay in a flow of creativity.

 

An artistic wobble….a new art movement …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anybody can paint – Any body can paint

Anybody can paint –  Any body can paint

by Kirsten Harris

 

Two similar statements, the first one you may or may not agree with.

 

The second one is definitely true.

 

Anybody can paint is a statement which is often overloaded with negative voices –

 

I’m no good at art! I can’t even paint a straight line. I definitely can’t paint. I wish I could paint but I am rubbish. My teacher at school told me I had no talent. I don’t have the time to paint even though I was quite good at school. I’d love to paint but I don’t know where to start…

 

Any body can paint is true. You have a body and a brain that flows to a skilled hand. Yes YOU have incredible skill and talent. You just might not know how to use it in a way that you think of as art.

 

As an Alexander Technique teacher and artist I am interested in what blocks the flow of your inner artist (yes you do have one!) and how to free up this skilled creative talented self to enjoy painting and drawing.

 

What gets in the way of you enjoying expressing yourself freely on paper or canvas? Those excuses, thoughts or reasons that may not even be yours.

 

How does one let go to make art? You could start by picking a name for the unexpressed artist in you. Perhaps name your inner artist after your favourite artist. I call mine Picasso! It’s not very original but it makes me smile and smiling definitely helps me loosen up and not take myself too seriously so I can have fun.

 

Painting is fantastic fun!

What stops you from experiencing the tactile sensual delight of mark making or colours on a surface?

 

As a little kid you had no blocks as an artist.  Children love to paint.

 

When did you stop enjoying painting? Or do you paint and enjoy it but feel that you need to let go more, loosen up?

 

If you have read this far you are probably interested in art.

I am curious  – does art flow through you or do you get stuck? Do you feel dissatisfied with what you make?

 

I have met many people who have a collection of unused paints, sketch books and pristine brushes, that have been bought from a desire to paint. Faced with the blank paper, the expensive paints, they then become unable to express themselves. Anxiously they paint a tight little picture of a cat, or a tree or a landscape. Disappointed with the result they declare that they were never any good at art and put the art materials back in the cupboard.

 

Is this you?

Or do you have paintings that you are too embarrassed to show anyone?

Would you like help to free up as an artist?

Would you like to make art that you love?

 

I have written a free introductory online course ‘LET GO MAKE ART!’ –

Why don’t you JOIN my mailing list to be one of the first to receive it.

 

I am interested to hear your story so if you have time, do send me an email and let me know what you would like help with.

 

I promise to reply

Kirsten

 

 

 

 

 

Listen! I’m an Artist

Listen! I’m an Artist

by Kirsten Harris

 

The other day I heard a great bit of wisdom.

‘Most people listen to reply not to hear’

 

It resonated with me.

I have been mulling on my listening skills and often time lack of!

 

For musicians, listening seems to be an obvious skill set but maybe not so much so for a painter.

 

I teach specialist music children at the Edinburgh School of Music. We do wonderful Alexander Technique awareness listening sessions.

Listening for space between sound

The depth and direction of sound

The internal and external sounds….

Our sense of hearing and listening to each other deepening and opening. Our poise easily manifesting as we listen consciously with interest to ourselves in the world. Skills the children become interested in applying to their instruments and friendships.

 

But what about painting and drawing?

I believe it is really important to listen to hear when you paint. Listening as part of creativity.

 

I am listening for my own poise. Listening to be present to the moment by moment internal and external conversation between brush and arm, fingers and brain, back and canvas. Listening that I am not in the way with negative judgemental thinking or poor body use. Listening to my body as I allow myself to paint, to push colour around, to let something appear that surprises me.

 

I am listening to allow myself to hear  the whispers of guidance – do this colour, paint here, step back, breathe out, faster, slower…. stop, walk away…see… hear.. now here, here, here the next brush stroke, colour, place to put my hand, my brush.

 

Listening I hear my thoughts change.

My thoughts are processing thoughts.

I am listening to the sound of ‘the zone.’

Painting becomes an exciting mysterious journey that is leading to some place new. Teaching me. The resulting paintings are a surprise.

 

When I don’t listen I go wrong! I was ‘told’ to stop, but I did more. I heard the instruction ‘to leave that bit of paint alone’ yet I interfere. I judge and the judgement makes the painting mean and cold.

 

Listening I become fast, flowing, instinctive, clear, loose.
So what is it I am hearing? Guidance? The wisdom of my higher self? The mystery? The creative impulse? The brilliant idea that comes from nowhere? A better version of me?

Breathe out.. It doesn’t matter what it is.

 

Showing up and listening to paint is inspiring.

Approaching a painting as though a pupil, using my Alexander skills, I paint well.

The opposite is also true. When I lose myself, get pulled into the painting, let my ego lead the way, hear the messy thoughts of my judgemental mind, the paintings inevitably get overly controlled and tight. I make mistakes that I then have to fix, to work through. The colours becomes grubby losing their light. I lose my lightness of touch.

 

My listening skills show up in the paint.

 

 

 

 

Wasting the Blank Canvas

A few years ago the wife of a local picture framer, who was teaching himself to paint, suggested to her husband that he spend a day painting with me. As soon as she made the suggestion he noticeably froze.

‘Um, I don’t think I have the time!’ he said.

‘Ridiculous, of course you do!’ his wife scolded  ‘What’s s the problem? Kirsten could really help you!’

 

‘Well……um…. to be honest, I would be frightened to paint with Kirsten , she uses too much paint!’

 

I was shocked. Yes I am a messy painter but his fear of wasting paint was standing in the way of spending time with a professional artist. I was more than willing to help him with no payment. But his resistance was way too big. He was visibly scared and I backed off.

 

Driving home I felt completely surprised at his reaction and have thought about it over the years. He had the potential to do something good but was standing in his own way. His work was tight, held, controlled. You could sense his fear on his canvases.

 

Maybe you have a fear of the blank canvas, are scared of wasting a piece of paper, going wrong?

 

A big canvas like the one that I worked on yesterday is expensive, so is oil paint, but I am not going to let that stand in my way. I am willing to go wrong, to waste paint. And guess what? Because I am not scared of wasting paint, I hardly ever do. Nearly every painting I make sells. The so called ‘wasted paintings’ are my learning curve and often end up as a surface in another painting, or cut down and created into something else. A layer of interest.

 

My secret to selling is not that I am an amazing artist, I got rejected from 5 art schools! It’s that I have learnt to listen to my fear and resistance and let it go. That fear usually turns up in the body somewhere. My training as an Alexander Technique teacher has taught me to notice what stands in the way of a successful painting. It is always me. My faulty thinking.

 

As I start to write about art and Alexander Technique I am beginning to think that success in art is about getting out of the way to allow art, the totally natural creative impulse, to flow through you. It is not about technique.

 

There are no external walls with regards technique in art. Artists of the past have cleared the way, they have taken down all the walls of tradition. Anything goes. Anything can be art. Therefore is no such thing as bad art.

 

The only walls are within. There is plenty of art where the person is missing!

Where the ego, the try hard, the not good enough habits, the voices of the restless mind, stand in the way of the wonderful potential energetic flow of the persons presence. A presence that can be portrayed on paper or canvas or whatever medium you chose.

 

‘Flow of Life’

Oil on Canvas

120 x 150 cms

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(photos a bit dark as too wet to take off easel)

This is yesterdays work, done with my fingers and a little bit of brush work.

I  had an intention to paint horses galloping. What it came to be about whilst journeying the painting was the flow of life –  that we are all coming from somewhere unknown and going to somewhere unknown. It became about life and death. The painting became a process for me coming to terms with recently losing dad. I didn’t expect that layer of meaning to be there when I started. When I get out of the way the unexpected happens. Responding to the paint and canvas rather than trying to paint a picture frees the art up.

 

So, is it finished? For now – Yes. The conversation between me and the paint has stopped, so that is a sign that it is complete.  Now no judgement. The painting has to just be left alone to dry, to gather energy, to speak back.

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Making a start

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painting fast

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the finished piece

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details

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What is IT?

What is IT?

by Kirsten Harris

 

“The hallmarks of the Alexander Technique are creativity, spontaneity and freedom to change.” A.R Alexander

 

The Alexander Technique has been a huge influence in my life for over 25 years, but it is only recently that I have started writing about it in relationship to my artwork.

 

Recently my colleague and mentor, Japan based Alexander Technique teacher Jeremy Chance, likened the Alexander Technique in relationship to my artwork as being like the wind rustling through a tree.

 

The wind – undefinable changeable, spontaneous, invisible yet sculpting and shaping the environment, bringing energy and influence to the form.

 

The tree, the form that the wind touches, shapes, bends and sculpts, the change, the daily presence, the artwork made.

 

The metaphor really resonated with me.

 

I know that the Alexander Technique and my art are totally linked and bound with each other within me. Yet I have two websites, and have for some strange reason kept them separate entities in my outside life, the one that I present to the world. Yet I know that the the success of a individual artwork has always been in exact relation to the quality of my physical and mental attention in the creation of my work. My understanding of the whole self gained from training in the wonderful Alexander Technique. A quality both definable and undefinable. The wind and the tree.

 

I first became alerted to the fact that other people can notice this undefinable energy at my exhibition ‘African Rhythms’ about 15 years ago.

 

A customer had spent many hours looking at this large exhibition of oil paintings and drawings before finally deciding to buy a small dark chiaroscuro oil painting of a leopard.

 

‘This has IT’ She exclaimed.

‘Kirsten there is something in many of your paintings, I don’t know if you know it is there. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. It’s a kind of mystery energy. I want you to come with me round your exhibition so i can show you what you have done!’

 

She then took me on a tour of my own exhibition.

‘Look! This one has IT, and this one has IT, and so does this one. But this one does not have IT!’

 

I realised that what she was noticing was my present moment spontaneity, my total absorption in the moment of the artwork, my exploration into the unknown, my willingness to be totally present int the act of painting, my poise as a painter. (Yup, that sounds totally pretentious I know)

 

The paintings that had NOT got IT were paintings that I had struggled with – perhaps not had a clarity of intention, been distracted, let my ego get in the way, not completely shown up for, doubted myself, tried too hard, tried to make a good painting that other people would like …my insecurities.

 

I knew it myself but hadn’t known that anyone else could see it, could see how I am, my well being through the paint. She was reading me through my paintings as though looking into a crystal ball.

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1Lion King

 

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Pursue – Woo – Follow Through!

PURSUE – WOO – FOLLOW THROUGH!

by Kirsten Harris

 

I am beginning to notice when people don’t follow through and am asking why.
I include myself in that statement.

It seems the world has gone in mad pursuit. Of what? If you ask people what they want, they seem unable to answer. It is like a dog chasing it’s tail. Exhausting. Fun but pointless.

The thrill of the chase it’s called – chasing money, chasing success, chasing love, chasing possessions, chasing followers… addictive stuff.

And the woo? Well we all know that’s addictive. It is lovely to be wooed, to be sold to, to be desired.

But the follow through … that’s a little trickier. We now own, have won or won over the object of our pursuit with our wonderful woo, and here comes the snag… there is involvement.

The adorable puppy becomes a 14 year commitment that needs to be walked and fed every day, doesn’t come when your in a hurry to go out, that has needs.

The horse has behavioural problems, he wasn’t what you thought he would be. But now you own him, he is your responsibility.

And how many men have I met full of pursue and woo, but with no follow through, but that’s another story!

The great idea needs follow through to come into fruition.

The behaviours that are needed for follow through are not of the addictive, high emotional, exciting arousal state type.

The behaviours are quiet behaviours – patience, loyalty, observation, awareness of ones own self, reliable thought, commitment, self reflection, physical hands-on work, appreciation, trust, listening, care, consideration, being present, courage.

When I don’t follow through I can usually find an excuse, which if I am honest is a half lie. I am pretty good at convincing myself that it is the truth, until it becomes a habit. Those habits are limiting beliefs that cause real physical tension in my body. They literally harm me.

‘I am too busy, too unwell, not good enough, don’t have enough time, people won’t like me, I am too old, I don’t have enough energy, I can’t be bothered, it’s not important, it can wait, they won’t mind…’ (add your own version of the excuse to the list)

Writing those words I feel my neck tighten, my breath becoming constricted. Those thoughts create body tension. My anatomy is affected by my excuses. A constricted body effects the quality of my life. Tension instead of appreciation of abundance. Tightness instead of flow. I am restricting my self.

We live in an age of poor self responsibility, the blame culture. And it’s a greedy culture, comparing our lack with others riches We want bigger, richer, better, more beautiful.

So I ask what do I want? When I get what I want from my action (my pursue and woo) is it followed by willing reliable response ability (follow through)? If I pursue and woo will I enjoy the follow through?
When is enough enough for me?
Why don’t I follow through?
When, where and why do I disconnect, physically and mentally?

Here’s my point –
I believe follow through is where the abundance is!
Follow through is the magic and creates magic.
Follow through is the land of riches and unlimited potential.
Follow through is full of surprises.
Everything starts to connect. The mind and body connects. The balance of the head neck back become one flowing comfortable easy attractive magnet for the good stuff in life.
Synchronicity’s occur
Opportunities emerge
Follow through is flow
Follow through is energy (so is money, that’s another blog)
Follow through is the unknown adventure

Perhaps we have to be a little braver to follow through?

Following through I am involved and I am evolving

I follow through and I feel better.

Free riches!

When I fully show up in life I am never disappointed.
When I let my excuses dominate me I hold low levels pain and anxiety in my body.
Staying in tight control.

So I am listening now to my excuses.
It is my belief that if we live a life of woo and pursue and forget to follow through we are missing out big time. We are not letting life teach us, lying to ourselves and to others, cutting ourselves off unnecessarily.

We short circuit the big picture, the anatomy of abundance, by staying in a limited loop of woo pursue woo pursue woo pursue. How exhausting! Mentally, emotionally and physically.

The abundant behaviour? Follow through to something new…
I’m going to….

Up-cycling

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Up-cycling

 

I’ve been up-cycling!
Painting furniture in an antique Scandinavian style, inspired by an inherited table and long case clock from my Danish grandmother.
Up-cycling  has been an exploration into my heritage, my maternal roots. It has been fun and and it has been grounding for me. A satisfying learning curve when life’s got a bit tricky. Finding pieces of ugly, unwanted furniture to rescue has been reassuring. A place for me to meditate quietly on life and death, age and ageing and  quality.
Up-cycling is trendy. It has a positive buzz to it. A bit green, a bit creative, a bit arty.
Up is one of my favourite words!
I am always thinking and  talking about up. The up that’s up there! The big up, that takes us up!

Understanding the power of up strengthens my structure, thinking up, my body follows. Up makes me feel good.
I have one rule for my up-cycled furniture, the piece must be well made. It must have a solid structure. It doesn’t matter what it looks like as long as it is well built. If it is well built it will last. The piece of furniture will have a useful future. I will give it new life. I will make it beautiful again, desirable. I will add value.
It is the same for my body, I must have a solid structure, a supportive skeleton to have a useful future. Being balanced adds value to my life.  I don’t want to collapse like a cheap chair that doesn’t have good joints. I want joints that dovetail seamlessly in my life. Not joints that hurt. I don’t want my upholstery to be straining under my weight. A saggy body in a saggy chair.
So I am up-cycling my life as well as brown furniture. Thinking about the shape of my legs as I paint the shapely legs of a nest of tables. Thinking about my supportive back as I decorate the backs of old farmhouse style chairs with hearts and flowers, birds and leaves, my interpretation of the traditional peasant style.
Why did my Scandinavian ancestors traditionally paint pine furniture in bright colours? To cheer themselves up during the long dark nordic nights. To feel better. Well made solid cheerful furniture for a well supported  up-flowing body.

 

 

 

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I Bought a Picasso

I Bought a Picasso

 

Yesterday I realised that my car didn’t just have car flu, it was terminal! I went to find a new one. My only demand to the dealer was ‘I need a big boot to carry paintings.’

 

‘I think we have the perfect car for you..a Picasso, low mileage, big boot, diesel.’

 

Ha Ha, Picasso, that does sounds perfect I’ll have a look.’

I was always going to be an easy customer – I had to buy a car.

The Picasso had a sticker of a giraffe on it from Blair Drummond Safari Park. A sign! It definitely had my name on it, I have lost count of how many giraffes I have drawn or painted.

 

‘Great! I’lll have it!’

 

Driving home, the last drive in my unsafe feeling old car, I started thinking about Pablo Picasso. Specifically his brilliant one line drawings.

Simplicity and control combined.

 

One line drawing is going to be my project today

Taking a line for a walk……..

Allowing hand eye coordination to find its way

Lots of paper and NO judgement

Observation and trust

Not controlling outcome, just allowing flow

 

Driving is a little bit like taking a line for a walk, so is mowing the lawn.

Driving and mowing, drawing in a different forms.

 

Today is a beautiful day.

My one liners are going to be of my ponies

The ponies can do the mowing

But first I will go and pick up my Picasso!

 

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Finishing

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I worked on a game reserve in Zimbabwe after finishing my Alexander Technique training. (I know! Lucky Me) An artist shaman called Bowen arrived at the camp, the kind of man who saw through you. Tall, unusual looking, he had an unnerving honest presence as though he was seeing into your soul. There was no hiding. He arrived in a fantastic all singing all dancing Land Rover that actor Val Kilmer (Batman) had given him as a gift for the experience he had with Bowen in the wild African bush.

 

My boss, Barbara Travers showed Bowen some sketches I had been making of Black Rhino and he gave me two pieces of advise that I have followed ever since.

 

The first piece of advise is to finish everything. This is deceptively simple. By finishing I commit myself. I commit to the canvas or piece of paper or canvas. . But 3 of the things that can get in the way of finishing are

 

negative voices

body tension

fear

 

The second piece of advise was the life is in the eyes’. Get the eyes right and you can do anything with the rest of the surface.

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‘Mark Making Lion’ 90 x 90 cms

 

This image of a lion had been hanging framed on my wall for several months. And it had annoyed me, which means I probably framed it before it was finished. I had probably got bored or fed up and thought it was good enough! That never works!

 

(I am sorry but I haven’t got a before image).

 

By adding more marks and working it up I am now satisfied. It is less of a polite drawing and I have solved the problem I started by committing.

I wanted it to be about scratchy scribbly pencil marks as well as a lion. Every rapid line a thought. Speed and energy of drawing. This an intense spontaneous way to draw, no outline keeping you safe!

 

I love pencil, the shades of grey. The way grey can portray colour and light imaginatively. The lion can go back in its frame now. I have finished making my mark on this piece of paper.

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1000 Days Hence

1000 Days Hence

by Kirsten Harris

 

I woke up very early this morning feeling sad. Life changes when people die. My heart is so heavy. I don’t know how to get used to it.

 

Then I felt a bit curmudgeonly and frustrated that things seem to be stuck in my life……..Yet I AM HERE. I am healthy and I have energy. I decided to get up and pull nettles in my garden. I have been letting the weeds grow. Distracted by loss.

 

It’s a midge laden Scottish morning and I have quickly retreated inside again, being bitten by tiny annoying bugs is horrible. But I have retreated inside with an idea. It is swilling round my mind, where will I be a 1000 days from now?

 

A few years ago I did a project called 100 paintings in 100 days. It was a huge success and when it came to an end I really regretted that I hadn’t set myself a 1000 day challenge.

So I wonder today could I commit to a 1000 creative days? Maybe even write about art. Would I come unstuck, stay interested? Have I the time? Would it be successful or irritating to me and others like the midges?

 

These are both good and stupid questions but one thing is for sure I very much hope to be alive and creative in 1000 days time. i know that i will be creative for the next 1000 days though I don’t know what the from will be. I can’t help myself, I think about art all the time even when I am not making paintings.  A 1000 days hence –  hope comes in my grief. Commitment to my creativity. It is non negotiable. I will be here. I chose to allow spontaneity in the days that come. Improvising my life through art. So here goes…I have today where will it take me?

Why do artists repeat themselves?

 

Why do artists paint multiple paintings of the same image?

This question that came up recently,  I have been mulling it.

Van Gogh obsessed with painting Sunflowers. Munch’s Scream over and over….

 

For me repeated paintings show it is not the image that is important.

It is the idea contained within the image. It is what the artist is exploring and learning that is important.

 

Here are versions of the same image that I have drawn and painted many times. An elephant moving head on.

 

What is it that interests me?

Elephants have the most amazing ability to shape shift into the landscape. To merge into the bush. One moment you see them the next they are gone, a great big elephant camouflaged.

How do I portray the power and size yet gentleness and mystery of an elephant?

How do I portray movement coming towards me? The blending of landscape with subject transparency and colour, movement with form.

How far can I push colour and shape with abstract loose brush stroke and still portray moving elephant.

As I write that last question I know I will paint the subject again. There is further for me to go with that exploration.

 

So, if you see me or any other artist paint an image more than once, it is not because we have run out of ideas. it is because the image is full of ideas. You have spotted or bought a good one!

 

To sum up you wouldn’t ask a musician why they play the same piece over and over again. You would understand that the practice and repetition is the musicians journey to mastery. It is the same with painters.

 

This is the first of a new series of art blogs which will look at such ideas as why artists paint, how to let go to make art, how to get into the flow of painting.

 

I have a mailing list, which will deliver the posts straight to your in box, so sign up if you are interested in making art or want to find out more about what artists think.

 

I look forward to hearing from you.

 

Kirsten

 

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Pheonix 369 Gallery Edinburgh

Bottoms Up

Pop Up Exhibition

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Mountain Rescue Landrover, Glencoe

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/111466453535?ssPageName=STRK:MESCX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1554.l26

Charity Auction for Glencoe Mountain Rescue2014 september 259

Big Cats

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Me and Mr Li, The Chinese Consul of Edinburgh

On the arrival of the Giant Pandas to Edinburgh Zoo.

 

Old Course St Andrews Exhibition

Me with the Chinese Ambassador

Painting being presented to the Chinese Ambassador at the Arrival of the Giant Pandas, yang Guang and Tian Tian, Sunshine and Sweetie,  to Edinburgh Zoo

A thank you gift from Royal Zoological Society Edinburgh to the Chinese Government

Michael Douglas at The Old Course Hotel with Planet Long Neck

Chefs Looking at Firefly Painting

Old Course Hotel

St Andrews

 

Dunhill International Exhibition

Kirsten at gallery

Studio Visits  1


Please email me to arrange a visit to my studio in South Lanarkshire, Scotland.