Instructions for life

On being a rebel, a stream of consciousness prose poem + a painting from my studio

Instructions for life and living in a hyperconnected world

I will participate, but not as asked.”
― Jenny Odell, How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy

When I was in my fiery teens, my father declared me a rebel without a cause. I’ve always been contrary. If you tell me to go up, I will go down. If you tell me not to do something, you can be sure that I will go right ahead and do it. And then proudly tell you that I did it too. That fiery rebellion of my teenage years has mellowed over the years, though – I guess that’s what they call aging.

I may not be a fiery rebel, but I am still contrary. I question most things. I tend to think deeply. Sometimes, it is annoying. It would be so much easier to just go along with what everyone else is saying. With the things the world seems to value. With what everyone else is chasing. It is so much more difficult to try and swim against the tide.

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Dancing with the muse

Plus some scenes from around the studio.

Dancing with The Muse: Finding our creative genius

I spent most of the weekend in the studio – painting, writing, creating. Completely engrossed in the paintings and projects before me. Flowing between paintings and projects and journaling and enquiry.

Not every weekend is like this, though I wish it was! Not every painting session goes so beautifully. And that got me to wondering.

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Art studio tour + can clutter really boost creativity?

Home art studio tour + why artists and creatives thrive in a messy environment

At the end of each year, I do an annual studio clean up: clear out the mess, scrub the dried paint off the table, and throw out the junk that tends to accumulate over the months. I thought I’d give you a little before and after of the process, plus a quick little studio tour!

My art studio is in a spare room that also doubles up as the husband’s study area, and these days as my home office.

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Finding my unique abstract language

Finding and developing my unique abstract language

Once upon a time, I hated abstracts. I didn’t understand the fascination with Jason Pollack’s crazy lines (still don’t), or why a single stipe of red across a canvas is considered “deep and meaningful work that traces the oeuvre” of an artist’s life and work (still don’t).

And still. I felt a pull towards abstract paintings. One that I didn’t understand. I mean, didn’t I just tell you how much I hated them?

So I tried. And resisted. And failed. And tried again. I got myself some books to try and understand abstract art – two, really:

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What your art practice can teach you about breaking out of your comfort zone

What your art practice can teach you about moving out of your comfort zone

As artists, most of us have our favorite color palette – the paint tubes and color pencils we reach for over and over again. Mine are blues, pinks, purples, and hints of orange.

Sometimes, though, it’s good to pick up the colors that you tend to ignore. For this particular painting, I spied a little-used tube of emerald green, which I decided to pair with orange and some hints of turquoise blue.

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Trust the process

Trust the process notes from an intuitive painting session

Notes from a recent intuitive painting session

Some days, you just feel so directionless, y’know? Like why are you here? What are you doing? What is the meaning of all this?

And those big questions make you feel scared and hesitant about everything. This is also something that shows up when I paint intuitively.

When I started this painting, I was just splashing paint, making marks, having fun (swipe to see – you’ll see a little arrow on the image below), and then I started getting scared.

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On my art table: The Mazaar

What influences your painting process?

For me, it’s often the music that I choose to listen to while I paint. Happy, upbeat music, for example, lends itself very well to fun mark making. Hand pans help me get into a more happy, floaty, flow-like painting state.

Needless to say, I’m always experimenting with the music that I listen to while I paint.

When I started this particular painting, I was listening to a Coke Studio playlist on Spotify. When Bismillah by Salim – Sulaiman, featuring Kailash Kher and Munawar Masoom came on, it captivated me and inspired the piece I was working on.

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The Art with Soul Podcast: My Artist’s Journey

My artist's journey and what you can learn from my mistakes, The Art with soul podcast

As a self-taught artist, I know the many pitfalls and perils of navigating the wondrous and many layered art world while trying to find your bearing. In this episode, I share my artist’s journey, including an over decade-long break from art because I thought I wasn’t good enough.

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100 day project 2020: 100 days of creative explorations

A variety of art supplies, brushes, and paint tubes on an art table

At the very last minute, I’ve decided to jump into the 100 day project again this year! {Wondering what that is? Check out this post on the 100 day project and how it can help you kick-start your creativity.}

I envision this as another working project, which means that I am not necessarily looking at 100 completed pieces of anything. But I am committing to 100 days of creative explorations – in whatever form it may show up.

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On becoming: musings on the intersection between chaos and liminal time

On my art table - intuitive art journal process - on becoming

Sometimes, things come together almost effortlessly – like this art journal spread. I started this spread in my art journal with swatches of paint, randomly painted on, to cover the entire page.

I then sketched in the figure, blocked it out with some dark blue paint, and softened the colors on the rest of the page with some white and titanium buff paint. I added in some paint to the figure’s hair, added a spiral symbol, a touch of shading, a little bit of etching, and before I knew it, the art journal spread just felt done!

I think this is one of the quickest art journal pages that I’ve ever created. And it all came from being in a state of complete openness and flow.

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