My New Year’s Resolution is to try lots of new things! I’m kicking off 2020 by speaking about my artistic ‘journey’ at a TEDx talk in Banbury on 29th February and I’ll be trying out clay portrait sculpture at a workshop next month too (think Lionel Richie ‘Hello’ video!).
Trying new things for Artistic ReTreats mean creating new ideas for Powertex workshops, like the cat wine bottle workshop and the hare or fox animal sculpture, plus reaching out a little further afield geographically and showing Powertex to people who may not have come across it before.
So what are your New Year’s Resolutions? Are you still feeling bamboozled by the chaos of Christmas? Are you desperate to get back into the craft room but not sure where to start or that you’ve lost your mojo? Perhaps your studio was your sanctuary during the Christmas break, did you find time to take yourself there to reset and take a deep breath?
With Christmas looming large, in December I also like to grab a few moments out of the madness of festive preparations to reflect on this year’s successes and think about some new challenges for next year. I think it’s really important to push yourself (and your business) in new directions and try new ideas that perhaps take you out of your comfort zone.
Some people have everything on their Christmas list bought and wrapped by mid November, I’m half in awe and half appalled at this approach! It’s certainly not how I manage the build up to Christmas! Every year, I pledge to be more organised and give more meaningful presents but like many, I often end up with a stressful dash around the shops buying gifts that I’m not sure are completely necessary.
Giving and receiving gifts at Christmas is wonderful and I love it but perhaps we have lost sight of the real reason for giving presents in the whirlwind of retail gratification. Excessive gift giving can put an unfair obligation on others. No matter how fervently you urge people not to buy for you, they will want to reciprocate and they may not be able to afford it.
From an environmental point of view, so many gifts are unwanted every year and are also full of unnecessary packaging. According to a charity survey, the most unwanted Christmas presents are bath products, films & box sets and candles.
On my recent work trip to our Cornish Artistic Retreat, Valley View, I had a rare day off and decided to visit the Isles of Scilly – somewhere I’ve never been before. Even more adventurous than the flight from Land’s End to St Mary’s, I decided that a two hour horse ride would be the perfect way to explore the island, despite the fact that I haven’t been on a horse for a couple of decades or more!
I was given a ‘plodder’ called Charlie who suited my rusty skills and an instructor guide joined us. I was feeling rather pleased with how it was all going – we tried a little rising trot and a canter – so far so good. Then the ‘that’s never happened before’ moment happened! Something spooked Charlie, she leapt to the left, I fell to the right and landed unceremoniously on my back.
It’s certainly turning chilly in the mornings this month, although we could be due another burst of summery weather, you never know! As the children go back to school, my mind turns to the last quarter of the year, the traditional Harvest festivities and what I’d still like to achieve in 2019.
I spent a wonderful couple of days on the South Coast with Powertex Tutor Rosie Casselden (www.facebook.com/rosiecasseldenart/), learning some new Powertex techniques and creating a wonderful crow sculpture – more of that later.
I also had another go at glass blowing last month, to improve on some skills learnt on a pervious course last September and it was such an inspiring experience (www.facebook.com/pages/Creative-Vibe-Glassblowing-Limited/).
I loved the way the molten glass moves and how it’s difficult to control. It is fascinating to see how different materials react as they change from a liquid to a solid state. With Powertex coated fabric, I can at least manipulate the structure a bit as it dries.
Both these encounters got me thinking about where our creativity comes from and how we develop our ideas over time. The two sessions with these wonderful artists stimulated my imagination and made me want to get right back into the studio and create!
In July I’ve been taking time to learn new skills by visiting Powertex UK HQ for the annual Tutor Retreat. It’s a weekend I look forward to every year as it’s a brilliant time to meet up, share ideas and learn new techniques from some really inspirational Powertex tutors.
Visiting the Tutor Retreat this year was Abyssimo, a super-creative artist. I’ve met Abyssimo (Maria) before and was really impressed with her work and artistic talent, and this year we were able to interpret her work with Powertex Stone Art and take away some great new ideas from workshops and projects taking place over the weekend.
Mini travel sized versions of our favourite toiletries are now a staple of our bathrooms. The world is shrinking to suit our lifestyles! From shower gel to sewing kits, everything has become more convenient to transport and try out. The smaller price tag of these toiletries also makes us more likely to try out a different shampoo or deodorant as it won’t break the bank and doesn’t matter so much if we don’t like it!
The travel size phenomenon is also hitting the art studio with the launch of the Powertex Easy Mixed Media Starter Pack. This small and perfectly formed kit includes sample sizes of Easy Structure, Easy 3D Flex, Easy Coat Matt and Easy Varnish – all you need to begin your very own mixed media project.
This month I held triptych workshops for four lovely ladies – nothing new there, I hear you say. A triptych piece of art consists of three panels that make up the overall image. I usually offer students the chance to create a piece of abstract triptych art using Powertex and recycled fabric and moulded items.
This time, two of the ladies wanted to try the abstract approach, another wanted to create a landscape scene featuring her dog and a pond, and the fourth planned a horse’s head on her triptych panels.
Spring is well and truly here – despite recent weather telling us to get the winter coat out again! I just love the burst of colour that heralds the start of lighter, warmer days. Gardens are full of daffodils, tulips, forsythia and cherry blossom and the trees are tentatively sending out the most vibrant green new leaves – a real treat for the eyes and the soul!
One of the most rewarding aspects of being a Powertex Tutor is being able to pass on the skills for people to create their own amazing sculptures and artwork using Powertex. The sense of satisfaction that I get as a tutor when I see that a student is really happy with their creation never dims over the years I’ve been holding workshops and private classes for people.
This month I’ve been able to take my fulfilling lifestyle to a new level as I, and five other tutors, were taken through a gruelling(!) course learning to train others to become Powertex Training Academy tutors. This is the first time that Powertex UK has opened up the training process and it is a testament to the popularity of the product that the teaching is to be expanded across the country.
With the headlines full of global warming and record high temperatures, it’s lovely to be able to enjoy a frosty morning while we can. I’m lucky to live in the countryside and be able to walk from my village down the lanes and love to do this on a chilly, bright day – especially when you can come home to a roaring fire!
I’m so excited to be able to start the New Year with some amazing news! I am able to offer a five-day Cornish ‘artistic retreat’ Art Holiday in September 2019. This is a dream I’ve had since setting up Artistic ReTreats and with the purchase of our inspirational cottage and studio in West Cornwall last year, the dream is turning into reality.
The advantage of a five-day holiday is that we can explore even more Powertex techniques and products well away from the distractions of home and the clock. This course is ideal for people who like to explore their interests alone or for a couple of friends who love to share their experiences.
Christmas provides us with the perfect opportunity to make lovely memories with our families but the manic festive preparations can also rob us of these opportunities. It’s really important to spend quality time with friends and family but this is sometimes easier said than done, with all the shopping, cooking, partying and decorating to be done.
There’s a lovely Facebook post doing the rounds this month that talks about the memorable moments that children recount when they return to school after Christmas. They are rarely what they ‘got’ but are more about the time they spent with their parents and grandparents, playing games and the silly things that happened.
So how do we find that time within this hectic festive season to enjoy each other and create those cherished memories?
Every year, the Christmas build-up seems to start earlier and get bigger and more stressful, with a ludicrous amount of over-indulgence in food, drink and present giving. Don’t get me wrong, I love giving and receiving gifts at Christmas, but if we think a little more carefully about who we’re buying for and what we’re getting them, it would make the festive season so much more enjoyable and meaningful.
Three great ways to make Christmas really special are to share a lovely experience together; give a gift to help the person enjoy their hobby; and create something totally unique and memorable to present to your loved ones.