Posts for Tag : alexander technique and art

Reflections on Plagiarism, Stress, Tattoos & the Kindness of Strangers!

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride

If turnips were watches, I’d wear one by my side

If ‘if’s and ‘and’s’ were pots and pans, 

There would be no work for tinkers hands!

 

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride

Watch!  Some ‘turnips’ have no integrity or pride

They’ll plagiarise your concept, pass it off as their own hand

Tinkering with someone’s art is theft! Could it be banned!

“If Wishes Were Horses’ by Kirsten Harris

A drawing that went viral on 16th Feb 2018

 

I will admit I have had a stress headache that has gripped my whole back and also felt awash with cortisol the last few days. I don’t suffer from headaches but I do know the cause. Someone has plagiarised my work and is selling it as their own in the form of t-shirts. 

 

What to do?

 

My first response to finding out was to have a glass of wine and go to bed saying to my ‘higher self’ – I will know what to do in the morning. Morning came and the thought was to rewrite the original verse. I didn’t want to go into a fear rant nor did I want to ignore it, so writing a poem appealed to my creativity whilst figuring out how to deal with it.

 

The plagiarised design concept is one I called ‘If Wishes Were Horses’ a dandelion clock releasing horses into the wind. For some reason this concept spoke to people and it went viral from my Facebook art page on 16th February 2018, the day I drew and posted it. That one post being shared organically 661 times with 91,169 people reached. Suddenly I was connected to loads of amazing people worldwide, and despite being snowed in alone for 6 days was having a great time.

 

On Friday I posted the verse rewrite on my Kirsten Harris Art page and this resulted in me getting the support I needed to work out what to do. I wrote to the company and they took the offending plagiarised t shirt off their website that day on the basis that it infringed my intellectual property rights. 

 

My back released immediately, the headache lifted!

It was quite a startling feeling of energetic flow whooshing through me! Justice and right action resulting in total instant physical release! Woo Hoo! I was happy!

 

I posted on my page saying thank you and the support I received over the weekend has been amazing and I am so honoured to have so many fantastic people behind me. It means a LOT!

 

Last night three people messaged me to say the plagiarised work is being promoted again. I have written to the company again! Again I feel stressed! I feel the fear and tension gripping me again. I DO NOT want to live a life of fear and fight! I want to get on and be creative, be myself, and follow the creative flow of ideas and work to allow art to keep pouring through me. I do not want to be thrown off my path or sidetracked by this. So this blog is my way of letting go this morning.

 

People think I am either lucky or mad being an artist, but it’s not a choice. I have to paint for my own well being. It is something that chose me and not the other way round. I know other creatives understand this. It is not meant to sound pretentious. In some ways it is a bit of a curse, but of course a blessing too. Like all things light and dark is always there. (Chiaroscuro is the arty term!) 

 

So how am I dealing with this. I don’t want to buy into fear but at the same time I don’t want to be walked over and want to do my best to stand up for myself without getting rigid.

 

During the weekend I started painting a canvas about Walking One’s Own Path and having the courage to do so. It is a big painting 100cm x 150 cm and not finished yet, but part of the series of ideas that I drew in February as ideas for paintings. These are available as prints from my website, and again it was the amazing people on my page who encouraged me to do this.  Hopefully I will finish the painting in next couple of days as well as mentally resolve this issue!

 

Working on it all weekend has been a vehicle to work out some of this crappy fear stuff. It is work in progress …

 

My paintings are journeys. They have meaning. For years I have attempted to find a way to start describing my thoughts about Alexander Technique, my other passion, and the mysteries of being alive through painting. I feel that my work is going well, I have been at it for years, so am so glad to be feeling this way. I don’t want to be thrown off course by plagiarism. 

 

Several people have had  ‘If Wishes Were Horses’ image tattooed on them over the past months. I have received letters telling me how they have hunted for years to find an image to commemorate lost love and this image is THE ONE.

 

Someone wanting to permanently own my work on their body is a huge compliment. I have no issue with this. I feel it has brought friends into my life and I never in a million years thought I would be a tattoo designer so it makes me grin. I feel honoured.

 

However to rip me off for commercial gain is frustrating as f**k!

 

For me the image of the dandelion clock has meaning too, as I was photographing their ethereal forms when my mum phoned to say my dad had died. The drawings is part of my journey of letting go and that is probably why it has spoken to so many people.

 

 

 

So it leaves me pondering does one sit in a tight huddle too scared to share one’s ideas with the world or to be brave and share? I know that getting the courage to share has moved me forward in so many ways that are good for both my art and soul.

 

So I want to let go and make art and not get bucked off my metaphorical horse by this!

 

However my back is tight again and I know that fear has got a bit of a grip again for now. I will be doing lots of semi supine over the next few days and hopefully keep finding creative solutions to get through this.

 

So while some people plagiarise, other strangers have been unbelievable supportive! I choose to focus on the positive energy. Or as us Brits say ‘Don’t let the bastards grind you down!’

 

The fantastic people on my page are encouraging me to make my own products. Maybe it is time …. am going to see if I can figure out how to do it …

 

Forward and Up!

 

(I do not usually suffer from back ache and this particular back ache is definitely emotional/psychic, the sensation is a feeling of being stabbed in the back! Not all back pain is physical, it can come from many sources, but that’s another blog!)

 

https://www.facebook.com/kirstenharrisartist/?ref=bookmarks

https://www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

 

5 big oil paintings in this series

Uncluttering My Sluttery!

Apparently the Victorians had a word for a room into which unwanted, unusable, needing to be mended stuff was dumped – a sluttery!  I love it. Why do the useful words drop out of usage? So here’s to admitting that I have a sluttery!

 

I am guessing most other people have a sluttery too, though they may of course be in denial! But I bet I am not the only slattern in the vicinity!

 

Do you have a secret kitchen drawer or cupboard that you would be appalled at the thought of someone looking inside? Or perhaps an attic or shed that even bigger stuff is dumped into. All that ‘it might be useful one day’ stuff that we don’t want to deal with. My sluttery has  got so jam packed that it is overspilling into my life. I hide my inner slut no more!

 

I think we all have a mental sluttery too! Unresolved stuff,  that has got to be a good thing, a creative thing, to own and to take responsibility for.  We hold onto whole load of cluttering thoughts that stop us moving forward in life and keep us in a slatternly frame of mind thereby giving us excuses not to be the person we might really be. The ‘I am not x,y, z enough!’ stuff.  The excuses and procrastinations that we might just need to let go of.

 

From an Alexander Technique perspective this thinking stuff can manifest as physical aches and pains and emotional or creative sticky stuckness too. We all have unhelpful thinking habits in our mental sluttery that may keep us in a physical muddle.

 

So, these last weeks I have been uncluttering my sluttery, and the expression has been making me laugh and making the job a whole lot easier. The acceptance of my sluttish behaviour has been fun.  My inner slattern has been showing up in the stuff that I haven’t wanted to deal with or finish or throw away. The paintings that I am never going to resolve, the ends of paints that have dried out …  I have decided to dump the slut!

 

Good bye to the pretence of being organised and neat by shoving the crap into my sluttery and hello to owning a sluttery and sorting it out to create space and along with it the grace of acceptance of less than perfect me and with that the fluttery exciting possibility of new creativity coming soon and no doubt having fun refilling my sluttery again over time ….

 

So, here’s to our brilliant Victorian anscestors for actually naming the place that they dumped their stuff, rather than pushing it out of the conscious mind and here is to the revival of having a named sluttery and with it our ownership of our difficult to deal with stuff which is just work in progress on many levels after all …

 

 

 

 

28 Drawings Later – Drawing some conclusions, half way through

I’m doing a project called 28 Drawings Later aka getting through a shitty February in the wilderness! (Us Brits like to moan about the weather, a national form of therapy and endless fascination!)

The title 28 Drawings Later appealed – the suggestion of a journey, the suggestion of arriving in a new place – bring it on!

 

Hmm, I thinks to myself – drawing through the depth of a snowy winter means I can stay inside and watch daytime TV, not like last years madness of painting seascapes in oils all winter in my freezing cold studio. Drawing will be a doddle by comparison and give me a focus through the hideous weather.  I’ll do it!

 

I envision myself knocking off a quick sketch everyday no problem, but instead it has got me ‘drawing conclusions’ about my lack of method and random processes as an artist as well as my desires and hopes. It’s the 13th of Feb and I’m nearly half way through this drawing everyday thing and feeling like I haven’t even got going …

 

Conclusions drawn so far

  • I have different styles of drawings for different moods. Guess I must be moody!
  • Initial enthusiasm soon turns into an inner dialogue of … why are you doing this? You work every day anyway … why am I making myself DO a drawing project, it’s not like I need motivating … I ignore the chatter and start
  • I have an idea that I want to draw horse anatomy. So far, day 13, I have got nowhere near that work. Procrastination February!
  • Week one, I seem to be in a quiet cartooning mood, with ideas developing around lightness, buoyancy and uplift.  The drawings make me smile and feel ridiculously content and happy, which is just as well as the TV seems to have got stuck on a channel entirely devoted to true life murder stories.  Days pass and daytime telly becomes a gruesome backdrop of how and why people kill each other, horrible and yet quite fascinating! I convince myself that Goya would have watched these documentaries unable to switch back to my usual diet of antique and cookery programmes or put some music on. Animals start floating off the page … I discover programmes about forensics, I like anatomy I tell myself, watching cop shows is research!
  • Week 2, I manage to turn the telly off, but rather than get on with the ‘oh so accomplished’ anatomically correct horse drawings that I can see in my ever hopeful mind’s eye, I start finishing bits of furniture, up-cycling Danishly! Doodling and finishing stuff is part of the process, I console myself, feeling like the Queen of the Procrastinators whilst sensing some fear around finding that my inner Leonardo da Vinci really doesn’t exist!
  • Having got rather carried away with buying and painting furniture recently I spend most of the second week thinking I really must sell some of it. (Artist as hoarder.) I seem to have a particular ‘thing’ for chairs. Feeling sad at the thought of restraining my trips to the car boot I get a genius brainwave –  if I rid the house of two sofas and a very large arm chair, bought for my even larger now sadly deceased dad, that I never sit in, I can paint more furniture and buy more random objects that appeal and I don’t have to sell my painted furniture that I like and takes ages to do.  I could even do some still life drawings to justify buying more stuff! Realising the total genius of this idea I conclude that sofa’s are crap for the back anyway, take up a ton of space and it means I can make another drawing area where the sofa was and start channeling my inner Leonardo properly. It is now totally obvious to me that I am not drawing the way that I want to because of the sofas! I  just need to find a van and a man to help me take said lumps of back breakers, posing as comfy chairs, to the charity shop. I am, it turns out, not a hoarder at all but the High Priestess of clutter clearing!
  • Feb 13th happy with my plan to release sofas from my life, I realise that I have been a bit withdrawn (interesting word) of late. I am just tired, tired of the endless snow and rain in South Lanarkshire and mud, lots of mud, but my brain is now racing with  ideas of what I would like to achieve with my drawing and painting. The next painting is always going to be the best one! This is exciting! This is motivating! So as it is February and snowing again, I decide to allow myself to be with nature, and rather than beat myself up with my coloured pencils and sticks of charcoal, align myself with the bulbs in the garden that are just beginning to show and know that all these brilliant drawings too are hiding just out of sight, a bit frozen in my consciousness but about to burst forth when ‘winter’ lets go of its grip.
  • This seems like a jolly good reason to do lots of resting in semi supine aka The Alexander Technique aka Body Magic (link) to help the budding art grow from the inside out and of course give Leonardo a chance to find his way to Scotland … maybe he just doesn’t like the snow either! Happy that the Alexander Technique always illuminates,  I am off do do some drawing … or maybe just lie down for now … Spring up spring!

‘Love Time’

by Kirsten Harris

Pen and watercolour on White Paper

The Lightness of Being a Horse

by Kirsten Harris

Pen and Watercolour on white paper

‘Up!’

by Kirsten Harris

Watercolour and pen on white paper

‘The Bird that Wanted to Fly’

by Kirsten Harris

Pen on white paper

 

 

My painted furniture – side panels from a corner cabinet and set of shelves

 

More Alexander Technique drawings here The Daily Ease A Walk in the Woods. Colouring Book

 

Free Creativity E – Course – Testemonial

This blog is a letter from someone who took my free creativity e-course. (link below.) Maybe you can relate to what she says about spending 50 years thinking she wasn’t creative …

 

‘Kirsten, through your online art course you made me feel like I CAN be creative after 50 years of thinking I can’t! You opened my mind to a new possibility and showed me art – my art creations – in the simplest of things. This is a mind opening, chink of possibility. I have yet to transform this new way of thinking into an actual, physical piece of art although I did go and cover my walls (the canvas) in paint recently. It was hard physical work and my arms ached for days afterwards but as I did it I reminded myself that this too, the simple act of decorating a room, could be classed as art when thought of in this way. Paint on a canvas. Strong roller strokes of a colour I love … And now I love the new feel of the room I have recoloured and recreated.

 

I want to find another slightly less physical way of covering a canvas in paint. I like words. They too are art I now realise. Squiggly lines on a piece of paper that convey something – a thought, an idea. I love the thought that putting on my moisturiser and painting my face with makeup is also an art form. This opens up my mind so much to all these ways of being creative. My garden – selecting just the right flowers and placing them in certain places that I choose, is a creation. Who knew? Me! Artistic. What a concept!

 

I love the concept of the physical body and the mind working together (or maybe letting go together) to allow a piece of art to flow and become. My art. My expression of something – as it is and as it shows up in that moment. But can I manage not to judge it? That’s a challenge. Years of internal criticism habits are hard to erase. A lot of old thinking patterns to break and yet you have helped me make a beginning. I don’t think I shall really draw or paint – I don’t think it’s my medium although I don’t rule it out, but you have opened my mind to the possibility that I can be artistic in so many other ways… my signature, my writing, an arrangement of objects, flowers, a choice of a photograph to take – oh so many possibilities suddenly appear. And art can be fun it seems – not too serious a business after all.

 

You work your magic in so many ways. Thank you for all the thought, love, experiences and fun you poured into this wonderful creation of a course – I loved it. It is a gift.’  Sally, Scotland

 

Why don’t you sign up for 8 days of ideas about creativity in the free e-course below, it is totally free, just an artists way of making connections …

 

 

 

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