Angel Wings and Herb Tea

Life after loss; healing through creativity, writing and art


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Interview with artist Janine Adamo

So , as promised, here is my the interview with Janine and some stunning examples of her work, be sure to check out her website …links at the end…for more of her beautiful paintings.
1. How does my creative process work? 
I am a single mom of 2 little girls, ages 7 and 9. So by day I am a freelance graphic designer and by night I am a painter. Some days I get to paint during the day when I don’t have work to do or house work or chores. Before I start painting I like to light candles, I have an alter with candles and stones on it and my sage. I then like to sage my space, clear it of anything negative and it feels good, to start new each time I paint. I sage my space, my paint and my canvas and me of course. I then choose my paint, it depends on what layer I am on. I like to start with my warm colors and just put paint on the canvas, dance around and be free. Then when dry I add the cool colors. I learned this process from Flora Bowley. I just put marks on the canvas, all different kinda and I use a ll different kinda of things too like dice and round caps and things I find at the hardware store, anything that will make an interesting mark. I do a few layers and then I may see something in the paint or I start sketching on my canvas with chalk, I like to keep all of my painted marks when I can, it adds depth. OH and you can’t forget the texture! I LOVE texture, so I add joint tape to my pieces and also moulding paste. I paint right on top of it an it gives it that extra something. You want to touch my paintings because of the texture. I also add collage like book text or what ever I can find. Sometimes I need to sit and sketch in my sketchbook and it brings out what I am wanting to paint. But the big thing for me to remember is that their are no mistakes, that is the beauty of Acrylic… you can paint right over it when it dries and acrylic paint dries fast! That takes away the pressure of having my marks having to be perfect the first time around. I also like to go to galleries, art shows, botanical gardens, anything to get my creative juices flowing.  I guess my process is something I do when I paint and when I don’t paint because being an artist you also get influenced by many day to day things, that is the beauty of art.

 

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? 
I feel like everyone has something unique to share. No two people are alike and no two artist are alike. Yes, their are similar techniques and styles and even with in them, I feel that each person brings their own spice to the mix, weather its their favorite color palette or subject matter.  My work depicts my life, you ask me about any of my paintings and I will tell you what was going on in my life at the time. It always amazes me how I never know what my piece are going to look like when they’re done but when it is done and I sit back and look at it, it is telling me something, it is showing me what I need to see or hear at this point in my life. Sometimes I don’t get it right away but eventually I do. 

 

 
3. What am I working on now? 
Now I am working on 2 canvas’s, only marks at the moment. I will be blogging about them to show my process. I am excited about 2 courses I will be taking in the future, one is Tracy Verdugo’s Paint Mojo course which will start September 24 and then Flora Bowley’s e-course which starts October 13. I took Floras course a year ago and wow, how my work has changed ever since. I continue to take e-courses, I am learning what is for me and what is not. But I want to continue my education, I want to continue to learn, learn new techniques and styles and how other artists go about their work. It helps me grow and become a better artist. It also helps me create my own style and look. I pick bits and pieces from each person I learn from and make it my own. 

 

 
4. Why do I do what I do?
 
I do what I do to stay sane. I get this feeling, a nudge inside when I have to paint. Its in me, it makes me happy, it’s my meditation, my release, my everything. You see, I was in a deep depression about 2 years ago, what got me out of it was painting. I had not painted since art school. And I signed up for the Sketchbook Project, did my sketchbook on depression and that was it, I could not stop creating, I could not stop painting, doing anything I could to keep the creativity flowing. I started painting again and have not looked back ever since. It has always been a dream of mine to have a studio and paint and share and now I am doing it and loving it. I also participate in arts festivals and I love doing them, I love talking to people about art, getting their immediate input and see the way my art moves them and how they react. And then I get inspired to paint and some people get inspired to go home and paint which I love. Each of my paintings has a big of me in them, I can’t help it and the more I paint the more I have to give. It makes my heart happy. 
And I love to paint, that spine tingling moment when the right combination of colours appears and I know ‘this is it’. By painting in this way, and sharing my story of how I overcame self doubt and self sabotage I hope to inspire others to do the same, and I hope my paintings create joy too!!
 

 

Thankyou so much Janine for telling me about your process and the background to your work…….amazing to have you here….


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I did it!!

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Well, that’s me, in a local cafe, with my artwork…eleven paintings up for the month of October. At eight o clock yesterday morning I was splashing Payne’s grey and cadmium orange hue around with abandon, in my dressing gown, trying to ignore babies, need for packed lunches and bus money, and clarity around the location of the car keys.

At nine thirty I was carrying my new babies into a cafe in town, ready to exhibit them for the very first time. Old familiar feelings of not good enough, hell, the guy taking his paintings down from last month has an art degree, shit what do I even think I’m playing at trying to show my work. It isn’t even work, I really should cancel and go home.

The guy taking his work down expressed a desire to see mine and I felt shy and ashamed…embarassed, had to force myself not to apologise. The woman exhibiting in the other room at the cafe…an artist for forty years came in..I cringed and started to stutter about it being my first time.

The paintings  went up, I made some wee price labels, I stood back, Hugh took some photographs and we went for coffee and cake to celebrate.

The paintings looked ok. They actually looked quite good on those blue walls.

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Can I call myself an artist now? It still seems a bit presumptuous….

Artist. That elusive desirable unattainable state. I’m 15 at school, gazing longingly through the glass doors of the Art room, the soft chalkiness of pastels scattered over the desks. The mysterious depths of the inner realm of the place, the printing table, the easels, the paints. The A level art students whisking self importantly (to my envious eyes) in and out with cups of coffee, paint spattered aprons and grimy fingernails, Stone Roses on at an acceptable volume in break times. How I wanted to be there, how I let my wings be clipped, and how I followed meekly my teacher’s advice to concentrate on academic subjects and not waste my brains. ‘Keep a little sketch book if you like,’ they said, ‘only thick kids do art.’ Really. My physics teacher, giving me GCSE options advice. So I took Physics and chemistry instead of art…I hated both, had no interest in either. Meekly following did not serve me.

But I forgive Meekly following, and I try to accept her as a necessary part of who I was, thank her for serving me in the past and explain that I now no longer need her around.

I spent years collecting articles about artists, magazine pages filed away in a cardboard folder, I spent years being magnetically drawn to art supply shops, allowing myself to occasionally buy a box of pastels or pencils, to  handcraft birthday cards, because that was ‘useful’.  I didn’t give myself the gift of time to explore and grow with my art because I somehow felt as if I wasn’t allowed. Voices in my head…’you don’t make money from art,’  ‘its a nice little hobby,’  ‘you have to be really good to make it’ were ingrained in my thought processes.

I was perpetuating the good child in me, doing as it was told, trying to please parents and teachers, not make a fuss.

But then it occurred to me that as an adult, no one was actually stopping me anymore.

Well there was one person.

Me.

Only me.

Oh yes I’m an adult now, but the chains were my own. I felt obligated to be useful and dutiful, as if being happy and fulfilled myself somehow had to come only in odd minutes when everyone else’s needs had been catered for. Which when you’ve had five kids is basically never!

So I had to do it, which felt pretty big and scarey and almost too much.

And the truth is, that Lily’s death, followed two years later by the house fire, have been huge reasons for me to not take the easy road of trundling along ignoring myself.

Life is too big and glorious and necessary to be ignoring myself.

I started to take some online courses;

The lovely Julia Freund at  Lineanongrata, a Berlin based illustrator who offers wonderful personable illustration tuition, with  regular personal feedback and help and lovely written and video illustrated assignments. I really enjoyed it when I did it.

Misty Mawn was great…so much detail and inspiration in her 12 week Full Circle ecourse, truly amazing how much material was covered from oil painting to modelling, portraiture, charcoal..I’m still working through it as we have a year access to the course.

Next up was Flora Bowley...wonderful woman, inspiring intuitive painter who I full credit with me letting go of shoulds in my artwork. Yes, even when I finally sat down with my paintbrush I used to start to fret and plan and think I should be doing things a certain way..well I took Flora’s course and realised it didn’t have to be this way. I let go of my mind and followed my heart and my paintbrush.

Finally I took Draw and Paint what you love with Pauline Agnew, very different from the above, with a warm friendly tutor and lots of art history inspiration and practical knowledge, a lovely course and individual support and feedback.

I’m deeply grateful to all four women who led such journeys for me to follow and ultimately start to carve my own path.

So, today I am at the beginning of a journey, where I take myself seriously, continue to paint, and believe that I can do it.

I have!!

Each step feels huge, fighting through fear and resistance but its the only way…

Have you overcome a childhood fear or block…I’d love to hear how you have got where you are today…or perhaps you are just about to begin to thank it kindly and walk on without it.

Blessings, love

Henrietta xx


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Wednesday Gratitude

I think the universe is challenging this new gratitude space of mine. My first Wednesday…and one of those days which is so eye poppingly full of tiny challenges, huge challenges and enormous  tests of patience.
In my regular way I could chronicle this quite entertaining catalogue of domestic tribulations (I must just mention cat vomit as the grand finale..)

BUT.

I won’t.

Instead…..
I sigh, and breathe out and thank, thank…myself first for remembering to use my skills of listening to divert and soothe a major melt down at a home education group

I am grateful……. for this space here which reminds me to practice being grateful.

……….. for the beautiful gardens around me, and the food they produce.

………..for our chickens, the girls have started their spring egg laying with a great fervour, such a treat to hold warm eggs on a frosty morning

………..for the chance to paint and create again, this time with Misty Mawn and her Full Circle online course,

……….for getting to make a handmade art journal for my course with the kids, and its also home ed.

……….For the new climbing club they attend tomorrow which they love and means I get to hang out and drink coffee with some cool mamas and discuss inspiring stuff while Finch naps.

………For sugar free apricot and carob bars, a tasty new recipe which Tansy can eat…..and everyone likes.

…….for having a nursing baby which makes me sit down in the middle of the day…..a big exhale several times a day.

….this music which I bought at our table top sale today at the home ed group, and which dramatically improved the atmosphere at our homecoming….cat vomit notwithstanding

Well I already feel better  …….it would have been easy to slip into a moany evening…..

And I’m grateful for you reading this! Of course!

What are you grateful for?

 


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Blooming True

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This is what I have been doing…in between . In the little moments. The tiny hours where a baby
might sleep for a moment, the hour where a child might play, a teen might be at school, when I am between jobs, between needs, slipping between the marching daily hours to feed myself…more nourishing than food…

Twenty five years ago, I  was told not to pursue art at school because, ‘only thick kids do art’. Really. My dear physics teacher, thanks Mr. W, uttered these fateful words, backed up by….well everyone apart from my Art teacher and me actually. We were both pretty keen. But my keenness, my love, the light which sparked in my belly every time I stood in front of a row of pencils, pastels, paints in an art supply shop;  the way in which everything else faded away when I was immersed in drawing or creating, well it wasn’t tough enough to fight. I wasn’t tough.
I let myself be pulled away ‘don’t waste your brains you could do anything…languages, sciences…that’s what you need’
‘Keep a little sketch book if you like……you have to be really up there to do anything in art…’.

‘Birds..’ nearly finished!!

And so I was ‘good’ sailing (academically) through the rest of school with an ache every time I stood at the door of the Art room and saw my friends printing painting, sculpting and sketching…
Since then, I’ve drawn..a little bit, painted, a little bit…made birthday cards, and then……

Well I discovered, via the inspiring Lucy Pearce at Dreaming Aloud, someone who could help. Someone who could help release the good girl syndrome which held me back, stifled my creativity, made me think I couldn’t, shouldn’t, perhaps just wasn’t meant to. Someone inspiring, joyful and life affirming and full of joyous colour and soulfu,l beautiful art.

I enrolled on a Bloom True course     with Flora Bowley.   A brave move for someone with a two month old baby…but a blessed move, an inspired move, the right move.

I hesitated before enrolling…should I spend the money, could I commit the time…..Flora posts six in depth posts every week for five weeks….
The answer was YES!!

Flora Bowley 2011

For the first time in my life I felt free when I painted, free from self doubt, self criticism, free from ‘shoulds’ and free to paint from a place of intuition and playfulness.

Sneaking up to my bedroom with Finch every moment I could, to my makeshift studio by the window I layered glorious colour  upon colour, inspired by Flora’s daily lessons which encouraged me to let go, be brave and let my intuition be my guide.

                 Flora Bowley 2012

More than just a painting course, Bloom True encourages the participants to find their own voice, their true, and authentic intuitive and courageous voice, in art and in life.

Through professionally shot videos we were led through the progression of two large paintings from start to finish, interspersed with studio exercises, instagram prompts, and  daily encouragement and tips on painting and life.

For me the course was worth every penny….the magic happened on the canvas as I built up layer upon layer of paint, not planning, or thinking too much just doing what felt right in the moment and trusting that was right.

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There is a Facebook group to share work and thoughts, and now, months after the course has finished, many of us are still posting and supporting each other in the group. It has become a very special forum for sharing artwork and advice about not only painting but how our lives have been affected by this adventure in colour.

We all have our journeys…our damaged, joyous, painful and beautiful lives. A vibrant, loving and graceful spirit sings and paints among us; and healing and magic is happening even now as we continue to paint and create and share in our group. Art helps me heal. It helps me grow in confidence when people actually talk of buying my work.

When I started the course, one of the first exercises was to do some journaling and set intentions for the five week program. My first instinctive thought was to create something of what Lily has left me. Her love and joy and the feeling that I must not waste my life. It seems wrong to shy away from my longings, it seems wrong to be fearful of trying things which I burn to do…not wrong but somehow a waste. We are all designed to shine, we were not created to hide and apologise.

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Lily’s seven short beautiful years mean so much, and I have learnt so much since her death that I realise that I must start shining, with her light and with mine.

Being brave was the theme for the fourth week of painting with Flora and probably the hardest for me. Always the ‘good’ girl, doing what I think is expected…it felt so liberating to do what I wanted and to find ways to know what it is I want.

Flora Bowley’s e course has changed the way I paint and helped me take a giant step forward on my path in life,  and I wholeheartedly recommend Bloom True course, the next one starts on Feb 10th….sign up you won’t regret it!

This post contains affiliate links as I support Flora’s work and want to share it with you…..