I consider my hands. They are my interface with the world. Most think of art being about an act of seeing, an interaction with the visual world. But I see it as an act of feeling.
Running online mixed-media art courses, I often talk about the skill of developing hand, eye, and brain coordination. Yes, our hands are functional tools for holding a paintbrush or a pencil but also a conduit to the soul and to connect with the world around us.
Yes, I see the world with my eyes, but I feel it too. In the landscape I touch leaves, run my hand through grass. I respond to life holistically, feeling with all my senses. The paintings I make are about capturing the stories that I see, the senses that I have had stimulated. The narrative may be about bird song, the visual symbol a bird, but the experience of nature universal. The symbolic way I interpret the world, taps into your shared experience of the world and through that there is a connection. I love that this transcends time and space.
When I create, I seek a space that is internal, quiet and slow. I seek a space that is not about thinking but is about processing the world through techniques, about doing. I bring curiosity to my walks and back to the studio. I seek out that slightly uncomfortable space between knowing and the unknown. I dance with the potential of getting it wrong because at that edge of creativity there is a rawness where the unexpected can happen and we can grow as creatives, and as humans.
My hands show my growth as a person. Yes, I can look in a mirror and see lines forming and grey hairs appearing. But I must go to look. Yet in most moments I can see my hands, and they too bear witness to a life well-lived. Never one for manicured nails my hands tell of my connection to nature (soil caught in my nails) and time in the studio (hands inky and paint splotched). Recently as time reminds me, I have notched my way forwards along life’s path, I have been praising my hands for all that they do. Often in action, making art, writing, folding clothes, doing chores, driving, gardening. Sometimes in the doing the ideas come, especially if that doing takes me away from home, away from a plugged-in life. In nature it is easier to glean ideas. But mostly ideas come in the still spaces. Modern life doesn’t easily foster those. And yet I need to just be. I envisage my hands in prayer position or cupped in my lap and I instantly feel calmer. Meditation, journaling, art making, walking are all gateways into the soul space within.
My hands embody both sides of my soul – the connection inwards and the connection outwards. I’m in the perimenopausal stage of life, that time of change that I knew would happen but came as a great surprise that it was happening to me, now! My energy levels have shifted, and I no longer can do all I should as well all I want/need to do to feel fulfilled. I can’t stay up late into the night writing or painting and expect myself to bounce out of bed. I have to find my balance. I must DO and BE. I must be ME, not an old version, not an expected version but embody growth and change.
I often think that art has taught me many lessons, and in my online courses I try to share what those lessons are, and they fuel the ethos of my courses. Finding flow, not stopping because something goes wrong, failing and trying again. Accepting change or things not turning out as you thought they would. Finding creative ways around a stumbling block, finding flow.
This year I have had to remind myself of my core values, to give energy to what is important to me now. I have had to find the balance between being and doing. The lessons art has taught me have been fundamental in accepting change as I move into a different life phase.
I have been sharing this wisdom with others going through the menopause and perimenopause. I have been invited to be Creative Expert at Pause & Unite, a support network for women on their pausal journey. They will be launching their website to coincide with World Menopause Day on 18th October with offers on goods and services available to all.
For Pause & Unite, I have created a course that is about art and wellbeing and how slowing, reflecting and making can give us time out. Not every project has to be about an outcome. My ‘Hands’ workshop is about taking stock of where you are, especially if you are experiencing change or in a stuck period. It is about thinking of what your soul needs and turning that into an affirmation piece that embodies the intentions you set for yourself as you acknowledge who you were, what you do and who you want to be!
You are welcome to sign up, whatever life stage you are at, and invited to take the time to reflect, journal, acknowledge and affirm what you need in your life right now. It is a collage and mixed media course, you will be guided through tasks and techniques to help you celebrate all that you are and find words, and affirmation to be the next version of you. The piece you create will be a reminder of your intentions and offer a place to pause and reflect.
Wellbeing and creativity go hand in hand. Without my wellbeing I struggle to feel creative and without creative outlet I struggle to feel well. This course sits at the intersection and encourages both. I hope you can join me for it.
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Reading - "A Year of Marvellous Ways" - a delightful, comforting, poetic novel by Sarah Winman
Creating - new landscapes, new marks, feeling my way towards a new collection and enjoying the process after a quiet year of art making. Sometimes you have to look, think and gather before you can get started again.
Doing - transforming my garden has been bringing me much delight - the lawn is gone to allow for a gravel garden, a big flower bed and a wildlife pond.
Being - Tired mostly! Learning to rest and shift with the seasons. I use Reiki and Yoga Nidra to get me back to a place of being.
Visiting - the delightful Goldmark Art in Uppingham. Always and endlessly inspiring. Saw a John Piper exhibition but mostly blown away by the ceramics of Kang-Hyo Lee
Sharing - join me in my online facebook forum, "Helen Hallows - The Nurtured Artist" where we are reflecting upon hands and creativity, artists that inspire, techniques to share and support for a creative life of joy and wellbeing.
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