Posts for Tag : art and alexander technique

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

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

Letting Go of Blocks to the Creative Flow

I have felt blocked in my artwork. Despite having masses of ideas bubbling to get out, the flow of energy to pick up a brush has not been there for a few weeks. That is a first for me for years and years!

 

So I have been thinking about letting go of psycho-physcial and emotional blocks and how to do it and why we get blocked in the first place. There are no profound insights here, but some musings as I declutter my studio.

 

– From an Alexander Technique perspective the answer to letting go would be to simply STOP,  lie down in semi supine, let the ground support you and allow time for the whole system to come back into balance.  A little bit of Body Magic required.

 

I haven’t particularly wanted to lie down recently but I have wanted to sit in the garden a LOT and just listen to the birds and watch the garden grow. I have spent mornings recording bird song and found balance through simply being the listening. And I have taken photos on my iPhone of bugs and dandelion clocks. Intuitive listening as to what to do next has always been part of my creative process. Trusting that listening and looking are simply enough has to, I guess, be enough.

 

– I am decluttering my studio ruthlessly. I totally understand now how folk in these TV documentaries become hoarders. The hoarding and holding on seems to come about in response to some emotional trauma that they feel unable to deal with, and thus holding on to a physical manifestation of their love and life becomes their way of dealing with that trauma.

 

My response to my dad having cancer and his horrible death was to paint even more than ever. The result being that I have physically run out of space in my house and studio for any more paintings or furniture to Up-Cycle Danishly! Short of moving house some radical decluttering is needed. Letting go physcically is feeling good emotionally. I have always aimed to finish paintings, an aim which can take years, as once the painting is started they can become problems that are hard to resolve. A couple of days ago I decided I was simply not interested in those problems anymore. They have been recycled. The first glimmer of space in my studio and brain. Yippee! I have let go of the physical manifestation of some past problems.

 

– As I oil paint in a space which could benefit from a lot more natural light, I had come up with the solution to hang lots of mirrors to throw light around. The mirrors are now all going back to the charity shop. Everything is only borrowed, let the borrowed light flow forward! I realised yesterday that the space they are taking could hang finished artwork and I will invest in some better lighting. Let there be light! More brain space and flow potential awakening. No doubt it is bad Feng Shui to have loads of mirrors anyway but I am no expert!

 

– I heard Robert Holden describe decluttering ‘as taking you back to what is important’ or words to that effect the other day. I think that is a lovely description. In this decluttering what I am left with are art materials and paintings and a desire to make my grotty garage studio a more light filled lovely space.

 

– Having always been someone with easy access to my emotions it has felt strange to me to hold on, unable to cry, needing to stay strong and solid rather than let go and potentially disintegrate. Probably living alone has solidified the need to stay strong. In some ways I have beaten myself up for this ‘lack’ of grief, but am now finding out that I am not alone in the inability to cry at the big events and that there is simply no right or wrong or ‘how to’ with grief. Death, like life, is a process.

 

Life and death surrounds us daily when we open to it. We are as part of death as we are of life, denying that or putting a ‘should’ in the mix of how to deal with life or death is to block the flow. My way to move through it has been to paint and write blogs. I have learned huge amounts in this process and am still learning.

 

Holding on and letting go are perhaps just mirrors to each other and part of the necessary human experience.

 

**********

 

Some of my bug photos – short, important, beautiful lives  ….

 

 

 

Withdrawn and I

In my last blog (link) about drawing through February I used the word withdrawn, realising I have been a little withdrawn of late. It is an interesting word in the context of drawing as it appears negative, withdrawn as in stand offish or depressed, but is it?

 

The act of drawing – to move a pencil around paper, to make images, marks, lines on a flat surface – is by it’s very nature withdrawn, a solitary activity.  A degree of withdrawing from the world is necessary to make time for art, to be in the alone zone, that is creative. Withdrawn can mean to be depressed but it also means to take money out, withdrawing a deposit made earlier.

 

To draw is to put money into the bank as an artist. Explorations in drawing are deposits of energy that can be taken out for future use later, either as skills, ideas or artworks to sell. To draw, is to make a journey into the unknown To draw can mean to leave something undecided, no obvious winners – it’s a draw. Drawings don’t have to be finished.

 

To withdraw also means to inhibit, to draw back, to step or retreat back, which is interesting in an Alexander Technique context as being back in your back allows a space to occur where something ‘magic’ happens. ‘Back back’ we say.  It is a skill that that is as profound as it is light.

 

Withdrawing can also be a form of meditation or constructive rest (link), withdrawing from the urgencies of the day at least for a while, to allow ease, change.

 

Staying back in your back is important for drawing, not only the arm connecting to the back to avoid pain, but back enough from your work so as to not be lost in the detail. Backing off enough to stay aware of the whole image but being drawn forward enough to actually create something. An opposition of direction, an expansion of awareness.  It is an art in itself.

 

Withdrawing can mean knowing when to stop because this is a ‘battle’ you are never going to win. A waste of unfocussed energy. A waste of life. Why is withdrawing seen as negative when it is in fact powerful?!  Withdrawing to allow change. Withdrawing, not so much about being defeated but more about looking after yourself.

 

Backing up a horse is a useful exercise. Asking the horse to take a few steps backwards gathers the horse’s energy so that stepping forward again is done with more controlled spring, coil, balance, poise … You can train a  horse so that you only have to think ‘back back’ and your horse will go back, drawing his energy up into poise, drawing you up on his back. (link)

 

As a self employed single person I have to draw on my own resources constantly. Withdrawn in terms of a relatively isolated location it would be easy to fall into feeling lonely, especially in the middle of winter. But day after day, year after year, the act of drawing, literally drawing up energy from the well of a creative source somewhere inside, takes me to a place of peace, calm and ease, where the days pass happily and drawings are made. If I feel negativity I only have to show up at the drawing board to be drawn into a happy focussed place within minutes. I learn to trust , my mantra –  ‘everything I need is already here, I just have to line up with it!’

 

Withdrawn? I guess I am just with drawing!

 

 

‘Ahhh Ha!’ by Kirsten Harris

Pen on White Paper

 

The Daily Ease, A Walk in the Woods, Colouring Book LINK TO BUY

A Walk in the Woods – Art Muscles and The Tree of Life

‘The Tree of Life’ by Kirsten Harris

 

You don’t get big bulgy biceps, if that’s your thing, without a lot of time spent developing them. The same can be said of art – developing a painting, an exhibition or collection of drawings takes time and dedication. Skills, like trees, take decades to grow.

 

Many years ago dad said to me –

‘If someone ask how long it takes to do a painting say  – a lifetime. Each painting is a culmination of your lifetime spent painting.’ I felt very supported in that moment.

 

I have no idea why I paint, I just do. But sometimes ideas come to me whilst painting.

 

Having spent the last 15 months since dad’s death painting even more solidly than ever, I started fantasising that it would be great to stop painting for a bit and develop a different kind of muscle.

 

The ‘Aha Moment’ came – tree planting!

A tremendous rest of a lifetime project waiting to be explored and grown.

 

So, with that aim in mind, I have made a colouring and story book called The Daily Ease – A Walk in the Woods. Hopefully it will appeal to children and adults alike.

 

The exciting bit – all profits will go to planting trees. The time spent quietly drawing these past few weeks will hopefully see a woodland habitat growing in the future. I want to plant trees! Trees for life on our beautiful planet.

 

A Walk in the Woods is a story and colouring book with a message – kind of Alexander Technique thinking meets eco-warrior meets animal lover meets tree hugger with a couple of unicorns thrown in for luck! Get the picture?

It is a walk with a black pen over white paper with a good intention.

 

Buying The Daily Ease – A Walk in the Woods, you will be part of this artist’s tree planting project. Together we can do a bit for the planet.

If you are interested  please email me …

Colouring book pre-orders being taken (or should that say tree-orders!)

 

It will be available to post in the next couple of weeks with a link on my website.

A Walk in the Woods is for sale at £10 per copy (plus p&P) – which is the projected cost of planting one tree.

Pre-order now

Let’s plant trees!

Love Kirsten x

 

Contact me – kirstenfharris@btopenworld.com

UK 07711 903537

 

(When you buy a painting directly from an artist, support an art project, comment on an art work or give feedback, please be assured it is worth its weight in gold. Artists have no paid holidays, no line managers, no work reviews, or promotions, no bonuses or incentives. You do that job by being supportive. So a big thank you for all past and previous support.)

 

 

 

 

 

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

.

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.