Posts for Tag : alexander technique

Allowing Hands

This drawing is an attempt explain something about the anatomy of the hand in relationship to riding. For those of us who ride English style we have been taught to hold the reins between our fingers where the digits poke out from the webbing of the hand. But there is no joint at this point and therefore no true movement.

Joints are the main movers! Without a joint at the point of contact with the reins the conclusion must be that we are blocking out horses and the flow of energy forward!

I believe it is really important to understand this. 

Turn the palm face up. The joint is in the middle the palm. 

Turn the hand over you will see that corresponds with the knuckles.

My thought is to experiment with holding the reins further back in the hand to rest at the joint, the mechanism of movement. It feels a little odd to begin with, but I think you will find increased feel and forward flow and your horse will feel happier.

The joint is where the feathers and dotted lines are. I’ve drawn the dots on a curve because everything that lives and breathes and moves, lives and breathes and moves spirallicaly.

The feathers under the horses chin are to remind that head – neck – back poise is dimensional, it has ‘sides’, an ‘underside’ as well as a ‘top line’. (None of these are places as such. Poise is balance in movement, not a place or a posture!)

The hard lines that create the outline of the horses head in the drawing corresponds with where the digits meet the palm, where we traditionally hold the reins that I believe creates a block.

Any block at the horses head will block the free balance of the poll, the primary movement of the body, or in Alexander Technique speak ‘the primary control.’ We want to allow the poll to freely lead the roll of forward movement, forward and up into poise and power over the earth.

I hope this bit of hand anatomy helps? Do let me know what you notice with your horse if you experiment with how you hold your reins.

For more you can apply to your poise and balance in riding you might like to check out my media downloads here. 

My three titles are – Body Magic, Breathe and Walking with Your Horse. Each download 50 minutes.

Best wishes,

Kirsten 

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk – Art

www.kirstenharris.co.uk – Alexander Technique

Bum to the Wind!

Weathering the Storm by Kirsten Harris

I’ve been thinking about how important it is to to keep a steady course in the midst of a storm, and that maintaining a steady course is a balancing act that requires courage, patience and trust.

I notice people sail mentally into the eye of the storm and then wonder why they feel anxious, stressed, depressed, lost or fearful.

In a storm, find calm waters. Anchor up if you can. Still your mind, still your body. The calm waters are within.

Or be like a horse!

Horses stick their bums to the wind to weather the force of the storm, resting in the most sheltered spot they can find. As my friend nicely put it, ‘animals blend’ with a storm.

Trees rooted to the ground, blend too. Weak rooted trees fall!

I drew this image last year but it seems apt for where we are in 2020, so thought I would share it.

Love Kirsten

Breathe – lessons in the Alexander Technique – link

Body Magic – lessons in the Alexander Technique – link

Walking with Your Horse – lessons in the Alexander Technique link

Horizontal and Vertical Directions

Crucifixion’ by Kirsten Harris, Oil on Canvas, 100 x 150 cm

A jockey friend asked me if I had ever painted a crucifixion? Answer no. But I had been thinking about the symbolism of the vertical and horizontal planes and so decided to attempt this classical and religious subject. Gulp!

‘Crucifixion’ is inspired by Salvador Dali’s (1904 – 1989) famous 1954 Crucifixion painting ‘Christ of St John of the Cross’ at the Kelvingrove Gallery, Glasgow. My aim was to follow Dali’s musculature, structure and chiaroscuro as I placed the horses into the tree and then let my painting emerge.

I painted over a few days just before lockdown and put my shoulder into spasm doing it. I guess it was an intense process! A large painting. Dark, yes, representing my fears for the way we are continuing to crucify the planet, but, fingers crossed, hopeful, expanding and uplifting too.

The horizontal plane is our relationship with earth.

The vertical our relationship with the up that’s up there, the big up, deep space, the unimaginable hugeness. 

When we engage both the vertical and horizontal directions in our thinking we have expansion and freedom. Lengthening and widening! Lengthening and widening akin to a cross. Lengthening and widening which allows physical well being. Lengthening and widening into awareness of the space around us!

Two metres, twenty metres, two thousand dark and light years!

Holding awareness of both the vertical and horizontal is a necessary consideration for riding horses as these thoughts release the spiralling movement of muscle into length and allow freedom and flow for both horse and rider.

Forward we move and the horizontal plane travels through us.

Up, we think and we release the spring of life engaging our movement up and over the ground. 

The horses in the tree hold space open for us to love through all dimensions of time and existence…. Animals have not forgotten how to love, nor do they leave a hideous hoof or paw print like the dirty destructive foot print man has made. 

*****

Ascension by Kirsten Harris Oil on Canvas, 100 x 150 cm

‘Ascension’ was painted over lockdown and is loosely based on a painting of Jacob’s Ladder by the another Spanish painter, Bartolome Estaban Murillo. (1617 – 1682)

Horses ascend a ladder, seven steps skyward, to be greeted by horse angels, whilst other horses emerge from the seeds.

It is a painting about love of heavenly horses!

The seven steps of the ladder are symbolic. 7 days of the week, 7 chakras, 7 deadly sins…in fact the number 7 is significant in every major religion. Buddha rises and takes 7 steps, The Koran speaks of 7 heavens, Hinduism has 7 higher and 7 lower worlds, Muslim pilgrims walk around Kaaba in Mecca 7 times…  7 is a prime number and so it goes on… 7 is also associated with our short term memory and attention span…It appears 7 is a magic number!

Whilst appearing to be about death and other dimensions, I hope this painting has a lightness and wistfulness to it that it invites us all to think about what small things we can do to make the world a better place. 

That we too are delicate and beautiful like shimmering dandelion clocks and the wings of insects and our time is short. That we all hold our own magic and we must learn to use it.

For example the resurgence in interest in individuals, including me, in growing food during lockdown is wonderful.  In the darkness miracles take place. When we stop rushing thoughtlessly and are forced to consider our place on the planet we can make different hopefully kinder and healthier choices.

Deep in the grass there is hidden a Mother horse. She was central to the painting to begin with, but as it progressed her presence became more subtle, something to find…

********

If you would like to be invited to my upcoming postponed exhibition in a wonderful castle here in South Lanarkshire please do email me or subscribe to my blog to stay in touch.

And now to paint…

Thank you so much for reading.

Extinction Rebellious Art!


What if all we need to do to create change and stop destruction is to learn how to stop. Sounds simple enough. Just stop, or pause and take a bit of time out to think about what we are doing. Stop to create space to allow something new to happen. Stop the stuff that doesn’t work.

Stop burying our heads in the sand!

Stop pretending that the holiday you need because you are ‘exhausted’ is not going to add to the destruction of the planet. Stop to take a moment or two to consider whether what we are doing is really for the highest good or coming from our own ego needs. 

Truthfully I think I am suffering from environmental anxiety. 

Contemplating the Earth Walk by Kirsten Harris
Available as a hand signed print

I heard anxiety described as being too aware of the echo bouncing, as though sound is trapped in a cave reverberating from the walls but not going anywhere. That made sense to me. I hear talk about environmental concerns but no real change in behaviour. ‘Oh but we recycle so it’s OK to go to 5 star hotel in India for a fortnight.’

I am not exemplifying myself here because I know that changing habits is difficult and these are socially acceptable habits –

‘We’re having a fabulous week in Thailand darlings … skiing in the Alps … trip to Disneyland…visiting Australia…bucket list…flying half way round the world to attend a self improvement course.’ But are we really thinking about the costs to the environment!

What if I spend the money for one trip to plant a bee friendly place instead? What if I spend free time picking up rubbish? What if I save extra cash to plant trees? What if we said fuck it to the bucket list and started a plan it and plant it for the planet list instead!?

In Nature We Find Ourselves by Kirsten Harris
Available as a hand signed print

One older man said to me ‘Oh planetary destruction is not my problem, I’ll be dead by then!’ Another person told me ‘I hate trees’ they make a mess! 

‘Not my problem’ and ‘one person doesn’t make a difference’ are common forms of thinking that are part of the problem!  

And what about that gym membership – grown men and women running on treadmills watching TV in air conditioned environments whilst other people are struggling. It’s kinda immoral!

So how about – This is my problem and what can I do to make a difference?

Now that’s a powerful question! Dare I say it – that’s a rebellious question in this day and age of unquestioned consumerism and travel.

My thought is to start by stopping for a little bit –  your wise higher self will start coming up with amazing, exciting, challenging, creative answers for you. We can all find inspired ways to make a difference.

To learn the art of stopping Alexander Technique constructive rest works for me – lie down in a warm place to let go for twenty minutes and allow for ease and renewal. Letting yourself stop can take practise.

Today, the big picture with all the problems we are facing can feel overwhelming. It’s much easier to ignore the inconvienient echo from the environmental scientists reverberating in the distance and just stay busy – plan another distraction. Not my problem! I won’t make a difference.

For me, stopping, is a definite start in the process of change and creativity.

Stopping takes us out of habitual activity and allows time for ways to move forward with courage and for grace to be revealed.

We really can start to make a difference by simply stopping. We have to start somewhere.

Stop and let go into an open zone in yourself where you can ask the question – ‘What can I do to make a difference?’

It is powerful question, a prayer almost. Answers will come…

The Guardians by Kirsten Harris
Available as a hand signed print

Postscript – Thanks for reading!  I hesitated to write a blog asking people to question the unnecessary travel they might do, but it’s time to let my inner rebel have her say. Time to be braver. I am not asking people to stop travelling but to question whether that next trip or holiday is really necessary or could they do something more rebelliously joyously environmentally friendly instead that might give you more long term satisfaction and peace of mind.

My solution for environmental anxiety is make art about the environment – and use the money I make to plant trees. I am also in the process of developing educational art workshops for primary school children locally, focussing on the environment and self awareness skills for 2020! Holidays, what are they? Every day is a gift when you open your eyes, ears and heart to it.

I truly believe in the power of the individual that combined make a powerful collective consciousness for goodness. Individually and collectively we can and do make a difference.

Merry Xmas and Happy Stopping!

With Love Kirsten x

To Earth We Return by Kirsten Harris
Available as a hand signed print

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk – Art

www.kirstenharris.co.uk – Alexander Technique

What my horse drawings are about…

‘Connections’ –  A drawing of two horses about elasticity, flow, direction, spatial awareness and connection.

 

In February I set myself a drawing project, the weather was wild (snowed in home alone for 6 days) a drawing a day seemed like a doable project.

 

I decided to concentrate my artwork on horses. For years I have been slowly, tortoise-like, working to bring my passions together – art, Alexander Technique and horses. Moving to a small bungalow in the countryside with a wee paddock, saving up to buy a field shelter, a horse, more land, plant trees … working hard at keeping it all together and painting and teaching. Workaholic has been levelled at me! I never planned to do everything alone, but that’s the way it has worked out for me at present.

 

I have taught riders Alexander Technique and painted horses, seascapes and African animals. It was time to attempt to describe some of my Alexander Technique and horsemanship ideas and experiences in my artwork and focus on my love of horses.

 

Concepts I want to describe through drawing include lightness, flow, spirals, movement, forward and up, balance, connection, elasticity, direction, spatial awareness, daring to dream, the love of horses, hands on, the mystery that is horses, spiritual growth through being with horses, time, creation, the breath and breathing and some humour …

 

Quite a big list!

 

Dandelion clocks, feathers, the moon, spiders webs, the tree of life, seeds and hand prints are some of the imagery I have used along side horses to describe some of these concepts.

 

It has been an interesting year! In my attempt to draw some of the indescribable aspects of riding, horses and the Alexander Technique, somehow I have managed to speak to other people, with requests to sell my drawings as prints. This has been a really good development for me and I have connected with some wonderful people worldwide. (I have also been plagiarised, I am told that is a compliment!)

 

My drawings are ideas for paintings, most of which are still to be painted and I am looking forward to doing so. I have been minimising the time I spend working with oil paint as I have spent too much time in this medium over the years to the detriment of my lungs. They are getting better again, thank goodness. Viva drawing!

 

So now drawing is taking me in the direction of my dreams with my horse Angus and my two mini Shetland ponies, Walter and Lettie who are both my teachers and my inspiration.

‘Horse Time’ the mini Shetlands, the muses for my cartoons.

 

Patience is something that horses definitely teach us.  They invite us to stay present to what is in front of us without ego or expectation!  Horses I believe allow us a door to the mysterious aspects of the world we live in. They truly are divine creatures!

 

How to Make a  Dream Come True

Link to blog about this drawing here

 

The Magic Stop

About using the breath to move a horse forward, find poise and freedom and to ride a stop.

 

Connections

 

If Wishes Were Horses 

 

If Wishes Were Horses (colour print)

 

Four Winds Medicine Wheel

About the direction of energy, spirals and circles and space

 

Transformation

Transforming into lightness in the forwards and upwards flow

 

Equine Lunar Calendar

 

Sky Horses

 

When Dreams Fly

 

Seeds of Love

 

Up! (colour)

Lightness, up flow, the lengthening releasing spine

 

Free Spirits

 

Horses and The Tree of Life

For me this drawing is about being on a mission to plant trees!

 

Equinox

About breaking free into balance

 

Up, Up

Gravity and the up flow. Life and death

 

Flying Horses

Freedom is movement

 

Webs

About how we are all connected, internally and externally

 

Pony Shenanigans (also available as a colouring poster)

 

Angus, the muse for my black and white drawings and a dandelion clock

If Wishes Were Horses as a very large oil painting

 

 

All my drawings are available as hand signed black and white prints.

A4 £20

A3 £30

Free postage worldwide if you buy more than one print.

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

or email me kirstenfharris@btopenworld.com

 

Many thanks for reading and for all the support I have received over the years with people buying my artwork. Truly appreciated. Love Kirsten xx

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

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)

 

 

 

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!)

Form and the Formless

Cartoon of me at art school

 

In contemporary art anything goes! Artists have ultimate freedom! No rules! Break rules! Push boundaries! Explore! Create! Be original! Be daring! Be courageous! Be bold!

 

There is no paradigm, no truth that holds art together.  Unlike music which has an agreed set of notes and scales, a form from which to create from and from which to break the rules.  Artists can do anything and call it art! Any medium goes. The formless – well that sounds easy! Just let go and make art ….

 

Alexander Technique – I prefer the name Alexander Principle –  has a paradigm at the core of it. That is why I love it so much. It is reliable, interesting, illuminating. A technique implies something one learns, practices and imposes.  A principle is the truth. True for all. Something to uncover and reveal, something to understand. The head neck back relationship governs the functioning of the body, our thinking effects our functioning.  How does your head balance on your neck? Posture and poise – posture an imposition, poise a truth!

 

I am thinking that the reason Alexander Technique is taught to actors, riders and musicians, for example, rather than regularly to artists and at art school is because the head neck back relationship more obviously improves performance in music or riding. Don’t pull your head back and your voice will sound better.  Find balance and your horse is free to balance and move. Is this true in art where there is no agreed form from which to observe from?

 

I know as an artist that my ability to stay in the core of not knowing, the freedom to create, is vastly enhanced by learning Alexander’s principles. I know I have only dipped the surface of what is possible allowing freedom as an artist. One can so easily get caught up in technique – how to apply oil to canvas for example or simply paying one’s own way. One can be limited by other peoples taste and judgement and by our own.

 

Having no boundaries can create a muddy puddle, energy simply seeping and disappearing – a river is channelled by its sides and flows forward. Form containing the formless. Water directed by structure.

So as an artist what is the channel?

The channel your intention, your focus, your desire to create, your passion?

Forward and up in focus feeling your way forward not knowing?

An understanding of how the channels of flow in the body work?

An ability to be freely balancing and notice when you are not?

 

Artists and anatomists worked together historically, dissecting and drawing to understand the human body. Science and Art. Anatomy is at the core of art. The bones of it. I believe that knowing how to draw the human body is a key to freedom. A license to do what you want. I am a bit old fashioned that way perhaps. Life drawing classes have been at the heart of art training for centuries. Drawing from the body giving a framework to a body of art –  both the form and formless.  The artist and the artwork. Drawing the skeleton, muscles and person to enhance inner and outer knowing. Alexander’s ‘directions’ an art form, an anatomical skeleton of awareness. Paintbrushes of thought drawing our whole self to its poised potential within and without – our key to freedom in creativity.

 

I wish I had been taught Alexander’s principles and actual anatomy at art school rather than just sitting in front of a naked body hour after hour and drawing it without any understanding of the balance of the human form, mine or the model.

 

Is learning about balance a way of understanding both form and the formless and freeing our creativity? The art of art!

 

 

If you are interested in learning more about Alexander Technique you may be interested in my media download Body Magic – here is a link.

 

 

 

‘Be More Maisie!’

Maisie photo bombing with ball …

 

Ever since I was given Maisie, my Cockerpoo, as a 3 month old ‘please have her we can’t cope’ pup,  I have been saying to myself ‘Be More Maisie!’

 

She was wild!

She still is highly energetic and completely obsessed with catching her ball and making sure it is as easy as possible to reach. She is the queen of anticipating your next move. Extraordinary, as she really does seem to be ahead of my thinking. (‘Dull humans – not very bright’ she no doubt thinks!)

 

So my motto is ‘Be More Maisie!’ Because Maisie was never going to be more me!

 

Maisie needs a lot of freedom, a difficult dog to hand over to someone else to look after, so I stay at home more than ever. No holidays just Maisie appropriate trips like the beach, which led to a decision to do an entire seascape exhibition over winter. Good decision, thank you Maisie!

 

‘Be More Maisie’ has led me to focus even more deeply on what is important to me and made me realise what ‘ball’ has been my absolute underlying motivation with regards all decisions and my desire to work hard since the age of 15. That is owning and riding my own horse at home. I had a moment of absolute realisation this week that painting and teaching Alexander Technique has been very good to me and allowed my dreams to come true! A long route to a goal but achieved nonetheless.

 

I am not from a horsy background and I forgot to marry a wealthy man (actually I forgot to get married … Whoops!  Ha Ha!) so I have painted my way towards my goals. Each exhibition achieving another step in direction of my teenage vision.  A house, some land, a stable, a horse, who turned out to be a messed up horse who needed a lot of patience, a companion who turned out pregnant, so now 2 mini shetlands! A studio overlooking it all …

 

I have just kept painting for years. Self motivated and self disciplined. No you don’t have to be in the right mood to paint, you just have to do it!

 

My motto prior to ‘Be More Maisie’ was ‘If in doubt Paint!.’

I guess there has been a lot of doubt over the years because I seem to have done a huge amount of paintings!  Smiling.

 

My next goal is saving up money to build an arena. Meantime this summer I have decided to forgo my garden, the only flat area I have and turn it into a mini arena. I have been training Angus on sloping ground but it makes the job of balance a lot harder for both of us. So as long as it is not too wet I will hopefully avoid turning the lawn into a mud bath.

 

This decision has reminded of another thing I say to activate my creativity –

 

‘Everything I need is already here, I just need to line up with it!’ It is a useful saying as it eliminates all excuses and gets me thinking …

 

So I have lined up with riding peacefully in balance on my lawn which is a great idea! I could have done it years ago, but had to let go of some old fashioned thought about lawns being mowed and pristine. OMG really! The Shetland ponies taught me that there is no need to mow the grass they were more than happy to be gardeners. Years of relentless pushing a mower no more! Less is definitely more …

 

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Wee Walter and Lettie

 

Painting is a solitary activity by its very nature and latterly more so. But rather than resisting aloneness and thinking I am missing out on ‘the party’ I endeavour to remind myself to  ‘Be More Maisie’ and keep my eye on the ball. There is a huge massive pleasure in being present. Really present to one place for a prolonged amount of time.

 

‘Being More Maisie’ is helping me say ‘No’ and stay focussed because I simply can’t say ‘Yes’ as much as I might other wise with her in my life.

Maisie is no people pleaser … Maisie is a Maisie pleaser!

Maisie knows what she wants to the exclusion of nearly everything else – no snoozing, bug hunting, sniffing and other doggy pleasures for Maisie. She wants to catch a ball.  If she has a ball in her mouth she is not going to be distracted from her mission of getting someone to throw it for her to catch again and again. Focussed and happy, crazy Maisie has become my teacher ….

 

Knowing what you want is often the hardest thing in life.

It seems a stupid and simplistic thing to say but I think it is true.

In Alexander Technique terms I would call it ‘finding and maintaining your direction in activity.’

 

Once you have that figured out it is just a matter of keeping your eye on the ball and practice. Success coming from a clear focus on your goals, even if it takes decades.

 

So the lesson from one small hyper active Cockerpoo – stay focussed and ‘Be More Maisie’ – in other words do what you LOVE with commitment and passion and enjoy yourself … A little bit of dogged determination goes a long way and brings joy.

 

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What are you doing on that laptop – here is a ball!

 

For more Maisie inspiration – click here for ‘101 Life Lessons from my Dog!’

 

Thanks for reading

 

Forward and Up!

Kirsten

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