Creating Flow… finding craft hygge in a circle.

A few weeks ago, I signed up for an art class that a friend had advertised… she was running it on a Tuesday night in a local gallery/social hub, Smithdown Social Arts Hub. It’s a short course, involving using inks, pastels, pens, paint, it was free to attend…. and it intrigued me.

I draw and I have painted for fun, but I’ve never been brave enough/foolish enough/ relaxed enough to really try collage or cold resist techniques. I’m a bit of a copier, so unless I’ve seen the technique in action, as it were, I tend to back off. I’m a crafter, not an artist, I used to say. A maker, not a creatrix.

Violet from A Series of Unfortunate Events. Nina read a passage and we created in response.

Art is one of those places where I get massive imposter syndrome. I know I can draw people, but I can only draw people and I get antsy when my drawing/creating is supposed to be anything else. Please don’t ask me to do something abstract. I will end up putting a person in there somewhere. I remember at a (fun!) art club at school, the teacher getting so cross with me because I chose a 1930’s Berlin streetscape to do instead of a neon sign-blazing 80s nightclub. He basically shouted at me for not being modern.

I never went back.

The Ugly Duckling: again, a passage we responded to. Obviously, I skipped to the end of the story.

Claiming to be an artist, proper artist, is something I struggle with. And yet, it’s something we should all be able to claim. We all create, we can all capture feeling, emotion, memory on paper whether in words or pictures. We may never make money from it, or be displayed or even ever be published (except by Amazon: God bless Amazon. I can write and publish books without risking rejection. An introvert’s dream) but we can, and do, leave our mark. Owning that, through the medium of homemaking, was one of the major steps I made in my 30s and 40s.

Cold Resist. It turned out to be wax crayons and washes for grown ups. Look at that colour!

I know I am an artist now: I create my own life, my home, my blog. My life is my canvas, and even the way I dress is a way to display my inner self, feeling, thoughts. My home reflects my chosen colour palette, and is a visual expression of all that I love best. Flowers, gnomes, bright shades of blue and yellow. Red geraniums: I need to make a list of all the things that make my heart sing.

A Mackintosh-inspired rose. It struck me the medium lent itself to stained-glass style panels.

So it strikes me as odd that I still can’t call myself an artist when it comes to anything to do with colour and paper. Never mind. I still love to create.

When I knew we were doing resist for a second week, this image came to me in a dream. It’s not perfect… I wouldn’t use the black for her face and neck now… but the serenity of accepting her biology appealed to me.

The advantages of going to a group outside of the house to create are obvious. The mess (if any) is made somewhere else: there are people to bounce off, and gather ideas from. And it’s a time set aside purely to make something. To knit, crochet, paint, sew, dance, make music, act… whatever. A time set aside for flow.

It turns out on a Tuesday that two hours so far has been long enough to make two ‘pictures’ each time. Yes, I know the process matters more than the product, but it’s good to be able to look at the things I’ve done and see how a limited palette or using a new-to-me medium has driven the result. And I’m pleased with what I’ve done. I’ve had a chance to play with materials that I haven’t had before, and next week (collage) is a whole process I’ve never been brave enough to try, despite buying a book on it. I need to remember that the people in my drawings all look similar, and have stayed like that since I was a teenager. I’ll use the techniques on offer, and make them mine. And above and around the art, I’ll spend time with new friends, talking work, stress, fun, lifestyle and more.

A seaside scene. The colours are just my favourites: if this scene is anywhere, it’s Wales, but it’s not a flat, calm sea. Look at that white water!

And, in the meantime, I’ll explore creating at home. When the course finishes I will miss that time set aside just to create. It’s easy to lose that in the daily grind. I wonder if I need to collect a couple of friends together weekly with permission to make? I know I need to get out my old equipment and just play, and also to find more spaces to gather and make. There’s a life drawing class on at the hub… that quite appeals, so I may see if I can join that next time. And I’ve bought a new book on gouache, a media I’ve never used before, along with some paints and that seems like a good toe in the water.

This pastel drawing started as the spiral and became a Goddess. I am an artist: a Creatrix. I need to own it, don’t I?

I am an artist. I need to own it and admit it. An artist, all be it a flawed one.

How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted to me or bought by me with my everyday wages or donations from supporters. Every book I review has been bought and read by me, unless stated otherwise.

I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. It always feels good if you get a book back in return for some money. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:

Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better. Lent is a season of rituals and resets. The book has small and easy ways to make your life flow with grace and happiness, which lead to more hygge.

Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little things in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human. And it’s always the little things.

Planning ahead, early, is How to Hygge Your Summer. It has ideas for taking your hygge with you out of winter and to any place you go in the summer… the beach, the park, your holidays. Hygge is an all-year feeling, so start preparing and let’s hygge the heck out of summer this year!

If you’d like to support me, but don’t want to buy a book, I have a Paypal.Me account as Hygge Jem. Every little helps, so even a few pence goes towards the books, goods and courses I use and recommend on the site. I’m grateful for every little bit that brings me closer to my dream of full-time writing, and I know I couldn’t still be writing if it weren’t for the support of many readers and friends out there. Thank you all for every little bit of support, emotional, physical and financial, you give me.

If you’ve enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it or save it so others can enjoy reading, thinking about and living hygge as well.

The regular photo I’m currently using between text and my book promotions is a photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash. It’s waterlilies, chosen for the reflection and because the flowers resemble lotus flowers so much. And my header is a photo by Gustavo Leighton on Unsplash. I liked the watercolour squares inspired by the leaves. It made me think of Conscious Creativity, which I thought I had reviewed on the blog, but actually haven’t (how?) and now I want to go back, re-read it and start creating consciously again.

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