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Heart and Soul

January was a write off with Covid recovery and so I am surfacing to February and brighter days. A long-standing struggle with Seasonal Adjustment Disorder (SAD) means I need to give myself a whole dose of extra January self-care. This year I have had an enforced stillness - I am yet to learn to give January over to simply getting through – perhaps I will diarise it for next year and give the month over to napping, reading and healthy eating. Maybe I will learn to practice what I preach – self-care comes before everything!

At this time of year, my head is frustrated that I’ve not started on my New Year resolutions, whilst my heart knows that if I look to nature, this is the time to start to grow – I have been waiting in the dark for the light. In the darker days of January, I have been reflecting on the last year, reflecting on what worked and what I want to let go of and move beyond. Often, we don’t give ourselves credit for our successes and dwell on projects that went wrong. As a lifelong artist, I have learned that it is only by projects going wrong that I move forwards, and yet it is such an uncomfortable place to be, waiting to harness the power of failure and redirect it into building something new. If art went well, there would be no point in trying again! It is how we respond to the mistakes, how we take criticism (from ourselves or others), how we resolve to try again and solve the problems presented – that makes us artists! Being an artist is a willingness to try and try again!

With the arrival of green shoots in my garden, I am looking ahead to what I want for the year ahead and how I am going to share this with my community.

In my online community, ‘Helen Hallows – The Nurtured Artist’ I have been running a ‘Create 28’ called ‘Hearts and Minds’. I set up the group to help fellow creatives and my students to understand their creativity as a holistic enterprise. We don’t come with a creative ‘on’ switch and instead need to follow our hearts in creating time and space to be true to the callings of our inner artist. We all need nourishing and nurturing to become our best creative selves.

My ‘Create 28’ prompts, are a series of Facebook posts that get you to look at yourself objectively and celebrate where you are in your artistic growth. It’s about realising that your differences (what you might see as failures!!) are what make you unique – where your own creative voice is to be found. Being part of an online community, responding to the posts and sharing our art, creates a space where you can acknowledge who you are and who you want to become – get positive responses to your art and making, and feel a part of a like-minded tribe.

The question I have been asking this week is

“What makes you, YOU?”

We are a complex mix of labels. Mine are woman, mother, wife, artist, dreamer, nurturer. In our fast-paced society, many of those roles don’t get celebrated. In order to create I need to feel whole, to feel valued. My Nurtured Artist community share with me in making a space that values those roles (among others).

So, who am I? What makes me, ME?

I love nature, I feel a part of nature’s beat. I love colour and texture and pattern. More than the outcome of art-making I love the process to be lost in the moment of exploring, gathering, drawing, painting, making. As much as my art is about what I see, it is also about what I feel, hear, taste and touch. It’s the smell of the woods, the sound of birdsong – all entangled into a visual poem.

Now that I have written that, I have a framework for my art-making. Setting down some boundaries helps create focus. Focus creates a plan, and a plan creates momentum.

Without that definition, we waiver and stop/start our art. That can be okay – the path of creativity is never linear – but it can also be disheartening. Having a clearly outlined project can be freeing. Make a plan! Write a brief or project overview. This can be thematic or get down to numbers – 10 sketchbook pages, 4 originals, 2 textile samples. Don’t fret if you don’t tick all the boxes, feel liberated to have a framework. You might find starting simply gives you a space to kick off from.

Art comes from head and heart – and if you’re too much in either space we get held up. Mostly I think we end up in too much headspace – overthinking and over planning. So, once you have made a plan, make space and lean into the process.

If finding a connection to yourself through your art inspires you, my next course is ‘Starting a Soulful Sketchbook’ and explores what it is that switches us on, what it is that you notice about your world and how to start to express that in symbols, compositions, colour and words.

This course is for you:

o if you like to work intuitively - following an idea from your imagination

o if you like colour and its connection to expressing mood

o if you like to combine words and images

o if you want to start a sketchbook that is expressive, narrative and colourful

o you lack confidence in drawing – let me show you how to overcome that!

o you want to find momentum for your art

The course is available from February 24th 2022.

You can book here when it goes ‘live’ on the 24th:

Or pre book your place here (use code in listing to remove postal charge):

What I want you to take away from this post is permission to create and permission to start over and make new resolutions whatever the month of the year.

I made this heart token to remind myself of my superpowers and my unique creative voice. If you'd like to make one you can find the free tutorial here.

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