Tuesday, 28 September 2010

3 ways to be an artist when you can’t draw -

This is a guest post from Joanna Paterson who blogs at both Confident Writing and her new site, the Mid Life Journal, where she shares tips and resources to help people find creative ways through the middle of life.

I have a confession to make: I can’t draw.

I know this is probably a limiting belief.  I know without a doubt that much of it stems from being taught in a hopeless way when I was at school.  I know there are probably people out there who could help me learn how to get some pleasure from painting and sketching. 

But still, even so, I think I will be left as one of those people who simply doesn’t draw. 

In days gone by this pained me.  Made me feel like I was missing out on something.  To be honest I still get pangs of envy when I see something like this gorgeous retrospective of Judy’s boat paintings  and simply wish I could create something like that too: colourful and vibrant, capturing the moment, revealing something of the artist within.

I’ve learned though to catch myself in those thoughts, and remind myself that I have, slowly and sometimes painfully, learned how to create things that are full of colour, that are vibrant, that capture the moment, and that reveal something of the artist within.

Here are 3 of the things I’ve done without a sketch book or paintbrush in sight:

Take photos

With a lot of encouragement from friends online I’ve learned how to really enjoy taking and sharing photos.  When I look at some of my pictures, especially those of flowers , I feel proud of the images of simple beauty that I’ve created.  And I feel a lot more ‘visual’ as a result - I think the act of looking for, taking, editing, cropping and framing has helped to develop the visual part of my brain.


Over the last few years I have written, loads.  I write on blogs, I write teaching materials to help people connect to their creativity and write with greater confidence, I write guest posts (!), and I write poetry.  More than that I’ve had the privilege to see other people sharing their words with me, starting to write more online, to create stories and craft poems.  Even within journal pages you can hear moments of wonder and magic, as beautiful as any painting.


I’ve done some experimenting with collages - grabbing images from printed materials like brochures, catalogues, and magazines - and working them into an image.  This might be for some personal development work, like creating a vision board for the future, or a dream board associated with a full moon.  I made one piece in response to a creativity prompt, and it’s now framed and hanging on my wall. 

Here’s how it looks:

This is a really easy and satisfying way to start getting creative and expressing your visual side.  I’d really encourage you to give it a go!

Those are the 3 main ways I’ve learned how to be an artist without ever being able to draw.  Okay, so there was one other secret ingredient: learning how to banish the belief that I wasn’t creative, and flick my inner creativity switch to ‘on’.  But that’s another story ;-)

Have you ever found yourself wishing you were more artistic?  What things have you tried to let yourself be so, even if, like me, you can’t draw?


Sunday, 26 September 2010

Smile on Sunday - another one from my fridge!

No comedy video clip this week, I'm afraid! Sorry to disappoint those of you who were coming to rely on it but my internet connection has been so slow/intermittent these past few days that trying to watch Youtube videos became so frustrating with all the buffering going on, that I gave it up as a bad job and hope that next week will be better! (Meanwhile, you might like to check out Jean's 'Funnies for Sunday')

Luckily, when I watched the long-winded announcement of the winner of the Labour Party Leader contest yesterday, in which Ed Miliband beat his older brother, David, by only just over 1% in the fourth round, it was only the picture that was affected and the sound was fine. Otherwise it would have been excruciating!!!

As I listened to Ed Miliband's acceptance speech and his plans to reunite the party and take on the 'Condem' coalition, it occurred to me that he might well need this little poem, which I typed out and stuck on the door of my fridge when I first moved into my present house and was faced with a far bigger refurbishment job than I had anticipated.

Somebody said it couldn't be done
But he, with a chuckle, replied
That maybe it couldn't, but he would be one
Who wouldn't say so till he'd tried.

So he buckled right in, with a trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, and he did it!

Edgar A Guest

I've referred to it often this year when beset by doubters and nay-sayers and hope that it might come at just the right moment for someone who is reading this too!


Thursday, 23 September 2010

How to Make Money from your Greeting Card Designs - Part 1

OK - so you’ve designed some greeting cards and your family and friends think they’re great. 

Someone has even suggested that your designs are good enough to be sold to the general public. What an exciting thought!

But what is the best way of getting your designs printed on cards in such a way as to earn you some money from them?

The good news is that there are numerous ways to go about making money from greeting card designs, so many in fact, that it will take several posts to cover them all! The slightly less good news is that there are advantages and disadvantages to each of these ways and I will try to set these out clearly, drawing on my own experience.

(Some of this, of course, will only apply to the UK. So if you have anything to add from your experience or knowledge of how things work outside the UK, please add it to the comments.) 

1. Approaching a Greeting Card Publisher as a freelance designer. This is probably the most usual way to begin and if you are successful, it can lead to you earning quite a lot of money. In the UK, most publishers will pay between £125 - £200 pounds for a design; some will pay you a fairly nominal royalty fee for each card sold on top of that, others will not. (One UK publisher offers twice that fee but all designs must be totally handpainted with no computer input at all, not even the lettering.)

If you decide to go down this route – and it’s well worth a try, especially if you are prepared to be patient and persistent! – the UK Greeting Card Association publishes a list of publishers who are open to submissions from freelance artists. Another way to find publishers is to look at greeting cards that are in a similar style to your own and check if the publisher’s details (website etc) are on the back of the card. However, some greeting card publishers employ in-house designers and it is hardly worth bothering to submit your designs to them unless they are specifically recruiting new designers, which is an alternative route for getting into the greeting card designing business.

Most of the publishers set out their submission instructions on their websites, on a page called ‘Artists’ Submissions’ but with some, you will only find their guidelines (or discover whether they are open to freelance submissions at all!) by clicking on the ‘contact us’ button. It is important to follow the instructions carefully. Most publishers are happy to receive submissions as email attachments or a link to a webpage; but some state a limit to the number of designs they will consider and most will not have time to search through many pages of a website. A few will only look at submissions if they are posted to them. So pick a few of your best designs and submit them in strict accordance with the publisher’s guidelines.

Be aware that you will normally be asked to submit your original work only if the publisher is interested in your designs, but until you reach that point, you should send scans, photographs or if you are not submitting electronically, really good copies, with a return envelope if you want them back.

Most publishers will be looking for a range of similar designs but if, like me, you have several different 'styles', it's probably best to submit the different ranges to publishers whose cards are in a similar style. Although I did receive a few 'rejection' emails that gave the reason for not wanting my designs as that they 'already had designs in this style', there were far more of them who wrote that my designs were 'unfortunately not our style'. More than a little confusing but maybe I wasn't intended to read too much into it and it was certainly kinder than being told 'not up to scratch'!

There are a few ‘downsides’ to this approach.

·    The competition is huge and especially in these times of economic difficulty, some publishers will not be able to afford to take on new designers. I had a ‘very near miss’ in 2009 which raised my hopes but came to nothing because of the recession. Of course there are some big names in the Greeting Card Publishing business who may be less vulnerable in these difficult times, but many UK publishers are less well placed. According to the Greeting Card Association website there are approximately 800 greeting card publishers in the UK, many of which are micro businesses, employing fewer than five employees.

·    The terms of the licensing agreement you will have to enter into with the publisher will probably prevent you from using your designs on greeting cards for at least the term of the agreement, though you may be able to use the same design on other products. It is obviously important to read the terms carefully before you sign up to them!

·    Some publishers will reply to your submissions but many will not. Sadly those who do reply are unlikely to give you any very useful feedback that might have helped you to make your designs more interesting to them. I'm generalising of course and in fact one of the largest, most popular greeting card publishers, who might have been expected to be too busy to take an interest, always replied to my submissions in a way that was very positive and encouraging, even though their answer was saying 'no thanks'!

·    It can be a lonely business, working alone with little or no contact with others in your line of work. But there are online communities you could join or you might find others in the same position through social networking sites like Twitter and facebook.

I hope I haven’t put anyone off by listing the ‘downsides’ but I think it’s just as well to be aware of the ‘cons’ as well as the ‘pros’. You can find many more greeting card design tips on Heather Castle's wonderful blog, Illustration Castle.
Next time, another option for making money from your greeting card designs!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Inspiration -

Where does it come from – and where does it go to?

I often hear or read of artists saying that they are, at the moment, lacking in inspiration. But ‘inspiration’ is a word that I’m very hesitant to use because I’m not sure how to use it correctly. In fact when, some years ago, a friend drafted an Artist’s Statement for me, I particularly asked him to avoid using the phrases ‘inspired by’ or ‘ gets her inspiration from’ because I felt that wouldn’t be an accurate description of what needed to be said.

One dictionary definition of ‘inspiration’ is: the act of drawing in, especially the act of inhalation of  air into the lungs and I think this literal, physical definition is a good one because it describes taking something from outside of us (the air) and pulling it inside us (into our lungs). And probably this is the way that ‘inspiration’ is  generally used – ‘she is inspired by the wonderful scenery’, or ‘he was inspired by the characters of the people he met’. Something from without sparking off a reaction within us.

My difficulty with using the word is that I’m pretty sure that for me it’s not quite as simple as that. It’s more of a two-way process, although I don’t entirely understand it.

I live in Abergavenny, a little old market town on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park, nestling between three mountains, Sugarloaf, Skirrid and The Blorenge. Inspiring scenery indeed and I love it! And yet, I have hardly ever painted the  mountains. I’d be a lot richer if I had as I’m told that’s what the tourist want. It’s not that I don’t like the mountain scenery. It’s wonderful to be able to walk to the top of Sugarloaf or Skirrid for all sorts of reasons – the splendid views, the fresher air and the feeling of being ‘on top of the world’.

The photo above is of Sugarloaf, seen from the top of Skirrid, 
or The Holy Mountain, as it is known locally.

And yet, I rarely  feel ‘inspired’ to paint the mountains! 

This pastel painting of the Brecon Beacons, from a photo that I risked life and limb to take from the middle of the Brecon by-pass, is hardly the sort of the thing the tourists are looking for!

It's more of a 'design' really - it might look quite good on a tote bag or some kind of holiday souvenir but as a painting it doesn't fit the bill!

I can look out of my top windows at the majestic Blorenge Mountain and observe the changing colours, the play of the light (in this case on a dusting of snow) and feel a sense of wonder and yet...

 ....it’s The Meadows at the foot of the Blorenge that I keep painting! (Also not particularly popular with the tourists who have come to a little town that advertises itself as 'Markets, Mountains and More'!)

On another day I may turn round from the glorious view of the mountains from my windows and find that a corner of my bedroom is begging to be painted! There is nothing special about the corner of the room but somehow, it ‘speaks to me’, if that doesn’t sound too pretentious!

So I think there must be something inside me that responds to some ‘views’ and not to others, and that can vary from day to day, from month to month and even from year to year! One day the path to my garage seems to insist on being painted, on another day it is just the path to my garage, even though nothing has changed about the path or the garage, or even the light that falls on them. Both the external and the internal have to be in line with one another for a painting to occur. A kind of ‘receptive seeing’ has to be in place that I don’t think comes with trying to 'see'. It either comes or it doesn’t!

More than forty years ago, when I was teaching in a big school on a huge council estate, sometimes I would go out with my paints and sketch book in the lunch break and paint the back-alleys and the backs of sheds and garages in the drab built-up area around the school.

What was that all about! 

Inspiration, – ie the right external conditions – is, I think, only half the story; the other half depends on something else, something internal. I’m not sure if there is a word for it but it’s why I’m so reluctant to use the word 'inspiration'. Maybe the internal part is what we mean by the word Muse ( ‘guiding spirit’ is one dictionary definition).

When the Muse is in residence, who knows what outer ‘views’ will inspire us? But when the Muse has left us – and that can happen for all sorts of reasons – we are completely closed off, unreceptive, to the most ‘inspiring’ of our surroundings. It can be rather like looking at the world through the murky, mud-spattered window of a fast-moving train! And that can have implications for how we can recover our ‘inspiration’.

Pablo Picasso said: Inspiration exists but it has to find you working.

Does this point to the answer?


Thursday, 16 September 2010

Do Greeting Cards Need a Verse Inside?

The results of the survey about Greeting Card Buying habits in the UK that I sent out last Spring, showed clearly that, over here, we prefer cards that are left blank inside.  77.9% of those asked preferred greeting cards with no verse inside and that would have included me, if I had done the survey.

And yet, there are a lot of greeting cards on sale with verses inside and people make a living from writing verses for the insides of cards; so some people obviously prefer them – those 22.1% of the people who filled in my questionnaire! I wonder why that would be?

And how does that fit with the very successful advertising slogan, 'Say it with flowers'? No words, just flowers...or possibly a floral greeting card.

Being very definitely a' no-verse-inside' kind of person, I can only imagine that verses are popular because the card-giver feels that someone else can express what they wanted to say more eloquently than they could say it themselves. In this case I suspect there’s a gender bias in our preferences but I don’t want to sound sexist!

There are several reasons why I would always buy a greeting card that was blank inside – unless it was the punch line of a joke that began on the front of the card.

1. My first reason is purely practical - it saves time and effort. There are many greeting cards, particularly those known as ‘Art Cards’, where the image could be suitable for many occasions and a verse inside would limit their use.

Apparently women are likely to buy cards as and when they come across them,  just because they like them and not with a particular use in mind. It’s always handy to have drawer full of greeting cards for the unexpected occasion or for when you can’t find anything just right in the shops. (Men, on the other hand, are far less likely to buy greeting cards unless they know they need them for a specific purpose.)

2. Another very powerful reason is that I find most of the verses inside cards overly sentimental and I would feel embarrassed to send them! (Maybe that’s just me being 'frightfully British'.)

3. A third reason is the question of 'personalisation'.
One of the buzz words these days is ‘personalised’; in fact I think the time is coming when it will be very difficult to sell anything online that cannot be ‘personalised’ or ‘customised’. And, although on most websites selling greeting cards, you can hit the ‘customise’ or ‘personalise’ button to remove the inside verse, what was the point of including it in the first place if the trend is towards ‘personalisation’?

I have no statistics to back this up, but my impression is that the American card-buying public is more interested in greeting cards with a verse inside than we are here in the UK. But it is also suggested that whatever is popular in the US is taken up in the UK a few years later. So maybe if I were to send out my questionnaire again in 5 or 10 years time, the results would be very different where ‘blank inside’ or ‘verse inside’ is concerned. I’m not sure how this would fit with the growing demand to personalise our greeting cards.

In the meantime, I’m leaving as many of my greeting cards as possible ‘blank inside for your own message’ and only adding some very brief inside text when the Greeting Card Universe reviewers deem the image and greeting on the front insufficiently explicit to fit in the category I’ve chosen for it. I just hope it will stay that way for many years to come!

But I'm curious about the 22.1% - what is it that is so attractive about having a verse inside a card?

Am I missing something?

What is your preference – a verse inside or ‘blank inside for your own message’?


Tuesday, 14 September 2010

6 Useful Art Tips – Part 2.

Last time I listed six 'tips' that have helped me in my painting. But it doesn’t end there! Each of these art tips has taught me a valuable lesson that I can apply to other areas of my life. So what are these 'lessons' that Art has taught me?

1.  Make a thumbnail sketch. When embarking on an important project, or planning any event, a ‘thumbnail sketch’ of your plan is often vital, whether it’s in the form of a list of all the factors you need to consider or a full-blown business plan.

2. Respect other people’s work. Respect other people, full stop! Everyone is as different as their artwork and we are all entitled to our own opinions and ways of doing things as long as they do no harm to others. Be ready to give advice when it is asked for but don’t cross the line into ‘interfering’ or imposing your views on others. Sometimes we think we are being helpful but one of my favourite quotes is, ‘Beware of ghosties and ghoulies and people who are only trying to help!’

3. Work all over the painting. It is all too easy to get caught up in one area of our lives to the detriment of other areas. Sometimes we have to make a conscious decision to make one area our priority but we need to be aware that this will have consequences and take that into account.

4. Stand back frequently and evaluate your painting. As with No. 3, it is easy to get carried along with the flow and not realise that we are veering off course. This is when it’s a good idea to take a brief pit-stop and check if you’re still heading in the right direction. It may be that you decide that you prefer this new direction but sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of our original purpose and the sooner we discover this and decide whether to go with it, or to make changes, the better.

5. Trust your intuition. By all means ask advice and listen to others but in the end it’s your life and there is a still, small voice deep inside you that knows what is right for you. Get into the habit of listening for it and trusting it.

6. Allow yourself to get into a muddle and work your way out of it. It is a very rare person indeed who never feels confused, overloaded, at their wits end. If you can recognise that this is part of life and an important ‘learning experience’ and trust that you can ‘work your way out of it’, using a mixture of common sense and intuition, and maybe help and support  from others, it will take the panic out of the situation.

These are just ‘lessons from my Art’ that I find useful and I hope you may find something that helps you on your way too. I realise that what works for me, may not work for you and we each have to find our own path, in Life as in Art. I am by no means an authority on Art, even less so on Life! 

So if you have any tips you can add to my half dozen, whether practical, technique tips or more general advice about how to approach Art – or Life! - please do share them by adding your comments.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Sunday Smile Spot

A switch from Art to Music this week - but one of my all-time favourites!

If anyone is having difficulties following the words, the link below might help. It gives you the words to follow along with -

Flanders and Swann - an Ill Wind 

And for more 'Sunday Funnies' please visit Jean's blog - The Joy of Birdwatching and Living a Simple Life

Friday, 10 September 2010

6 Useful Art Tips - Part 1

First of all I’d like to welcome all new followers and readers and say that I very much hope that you will perhaps find something useful and interesting in my blog and the comments – or if not useful and interesting, then at least sometimes entertaining! And it goes without saying that your comments are always welcome!

We have often touched on the subject of teaching art and those of you who have read my previous posts will know that I have some doubts about the extent to which Art can be taught. Of course there are practical techniques which we can learn from other people. But in my view, much of what we can be taught is a question of ‘unlearning’ the things that have inhibited us and prevented us from reaching our full potential.

The same thing applied to my literacy teaching. I spent a lot of time and effort trying to undo the bad habits my pupils had been taught; and isn’t psychotherapy largely concerned with ‘unlearning’ the beliefs and habits that have held us back in life?

But looking back over the many art classes I have attended over the years, from school to Adult Education classes, there are a handful of ‘tips’ that  I think have been useful as well as ‘lessons’ I have learnt from experience so I’d like to pass them on for your consideration - but not as rules set in stone.

Some of the following are tips I picked up from Art teachers – others are lessons I’ve learnt from experience.

1. Make a thumbnail sketch before you begin the full-size piece. Not always necessary or even advisable but sometimes it can help a lot, especially from the point of view of composition! (If you paint from photos you have taken yourself, much of this preparatory work will have taken place in the photo editing.)

2. Respect other people’s work-in-progress and expect them to respect yours by not allowing them to add or change anything you have drawn or painted.

3. Work all over the painting. Don’t get caught up in finishing one section in detail but keep the whole work at the same level of completion. (There are some mediums which make this more difficult than others and it is probably why I like working in soft pastels so much!) The danger of not doing this is that you may find yourself working very hard to change one part of the painting that you’re not happy with while in fact a small change in a different area may be all that was needed.

4. Stand back frequently and evaluate the whole painting. Sometimes a painting misses the mark because the artist has overworked it but if you can stop and leave the painting somewhere where you will see if frequently, after a while you will know whether it is finished or, if not, what you need to do to complete it.

5. Trust your intuition. This ‘tip’ is perhaps an extension of No. 4. The way it was put to me was, ‘let the painting tell you what it needs’. Sounds a bit fanciful, but if you have allowed your painting to ‘flow’, there will be a connection between you and the painting which will allow such two-way communication and remember that this ‘work’ is all about you and your artwork and while other people’s comments and suggestions may be interesting they are rarely truly helpful.

6. Allow yourself to get into a muddle and work your way out of it. Keep going, even if you think your painting is going nowhere. Again, I find this easier to put into practice using soft pastels but in my experience, the paintings that were, at some point, descending into chaos are the ones that have stood the test of time. The ones that came easily and seemed straightforward at the time, often seem to lack something when I go back and look at them later.

I hope someone, somewhere will find something here that helps them and perhaps you would like to share some tips of your own?

Very important to me is that I’ve found that some of these ‘Art tips’ have taught me some lessons for Life! In Part 2 I will endeavour to explain what I have been able to transfer from my painting to other areas of my life, what Art has taught me!

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Is it Art or is it Design?

 A Question of Labelling!

When I was attending Adult Education Classes at Wensum Lodge, Norwich, more than twenty years ago, one of our tutors made us the offer of evaluating our portfolios. I had a great deal of self-doubt at the time, although something deep inside me was quietly insistent that my work had some value and was worth pursuing. After carefully perusing my assorted offerings, including the rather wishy-washy winter landscapes in watercolours that I was so proud of, our tutor, pronounced me a ‘designer’ rather than a ‘fine artist’.

I was crestfallen because of course I’d hoped that he would say I was the next Russell Flint but it also started me wondering about the difference between Fine Art and Design. Were the gorgeous watercolour poppies on my curtains ‘Fine Art’ or were they ‘Design’?

Sometimes the line separating the two is hard to define and trying to arrive at an answer sent me into a state of paralysis with my work for quite some time. Fortunately I was prompted by a neighbour to stop worrying about it and ‘just do it’!

But this question has been floating around in the back of my mind again in recent months, since I joined GCU and Zazzle. Mostly we refer to ‘artists’ in those environments but why not ‘designers’? And then, just to complicate matters further, there are ‘illustrators’.... and dictionary definitions aren’t really much help.

I’m wondering whether what separates Fine Art from Design or Illustration might be to do with the intention behind the work? It begins to make some sense if the intention behind Fine Art is simply to communicate, while the intention behind Design is to decorate a surface of some kind, fabric, china, stationery, greeting cards or to address the visual aspects of something of everyday practical use such as a car or a window-frame.

Of course the line is still very blurred. I have ‘created’ mugs for my Zazzle store using images that were intended as Fine Art.and offered them as prints as well.

Piet Mondrian is just one of many fine artists, whose work hovers around the border between Fine Art and Design - in fact, Google images brings up Mondrian's images used to decorate clothing, shoes and even a car as well as the 'artworks' themselves! 

At what point does the original image change from being Fine Art to being Design? 

Why am I bothered about this? Well, the obvious reason is that the human brain is wired to seek patterns and sort things into categories. But could it also be that the sting of that tutor’s words all those years ago is still lurking somewhere, nagging me to resolve it once and for all by making sense of it?

Any ideas?

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Olivia Stefanino - Can you be spiritual and wealthy?

Our guest post today is by Olivia Stefanino, author of the management book, “Be Your Own Guru – personal and business enlightenment in just 3 days”. She has been interviewed on more than 87 radio programmes and has been featured in “The Guardian”,  the “Financial Times” and numerous other publications. 

I first met Olivia through the discussion forum of the TMS wiki, a website full of information and support for people with chronic pain and other symptoms, and she has gently prompted me to explore some of the unexamined beliefs that might be holding me back from achieving my goals. One such belief, that may well be an obstacle to many of us, is:

Do you believe you can’t be spiritual and wealthy?

Admit it – do you feel deep down that you can’t be both spiritual and wealthy?  If you’re one of the thousands of people who have deep-seated beliefs that when you’re earning money, you’re not being spiritual then you’re running on a negative pattern of self-sabotage…

Are you suffering from the symptoms?

¨    You work really hard – but never seem to make much progress
¨    When money comes in – so do bigger bills
¨    You can’t attract enough full-fee paying clients

Even though we’re not aware of them, all of us are running on sub-conscious beliefs that – until we investigate them – get in the way of our success. For example, you may have been told as a child that “money doesn’t grow on trees” or that “you should never try to get above your station in life”. 

While the comments may have been made by parents who were keen to teach their children not to be demanding, the result often is a “poverty mentality”.  When we think “poor”, we give off an energy of poverty – and this is what we attract.  Learning to change – consciously – the pattern is vital if you’re to succeed in life.

Changing your thinking is as simple as deciding that what may have been right for your parents and teachers isn’t necessarily right for you now.  It’s also about giving your conscious mind some positive – and believable - reasons for changing its patterns.

Firstly, in order to create an ideal world, we must learn to be mutually interdependent.  This means that while we’re able to look after ourselves, we’re also able to rely on others to provide us with what we need – and at the same time, they can rely on us providing them with what they need.

Or in other words, wouldn’t it be great if you could focus on doing what you do best, which would mean that you’d be earning enough to pay others to do what they do best. 

When you’re living with a poverty mindset, you have the belief that you can’t afford to pay anyone else – which is why you end up doing the jobs you probably loathe!  For example, if you’re fantastic at massage but hate book-keeping, it’s best for everyone if you focus on attracting massage clients – and with a small proportion of what you earn, you can then afford to pay someone else to look after your financial affairs! (And remember that all the while you’re doing your own books in this scenario, you’re doing a book keeper out of a job – how spiritual is that?!)

Manifesting is an important aspect of spirituality and it’s only the ego that believes you shouldn’t have oodles of money if you’re spiritual – not your soul.  The Universe is abundant!

Finally, ask yourself how spiritual it really is to live a life of poverty, stress and worry?  Start to see yourself as the co-creator of your own existence – and realise that you’re much more in charge of your own destiny than you may ever have believed!


1.    Remember that we tend to earn what we believe we deserve. 

2.    Understand that in an ideal world, we’re all mutually interdependent.

3.    Focus on doing what you love doing – and what you do best, which means that you’ll be able to  afford to pay others to do what they love and do best.

4.    Recognise that manifesting is a key aspect of being spiritual – when we’re creating and manifesting we’re bringing our spirituality into the third dimension. The Universe is abundant.

5.    Inspire others who may be about to embark on their spiritual path by proving how being  spiritual means being abundant and joyful!

Author of the internationally acclaimed book, “Be Your Own Guru”, Olivia Stefanino is the creator of “The Personal Enlightenment And Release (PEAR) Process”.  To get your special free reports, “Discover why you must avoid these 7 deadly traps if you’re to get the health, wealth and happiness you deserve” visit www.thepearprocess.com

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Friday, 3 September 2010

Recycling - is it always the best way?

With a doodle like this one, I couldn't resist having a bit of rant about recycling!

I’m every bit as much in favour of recycling as anyone – I was a ‘war baby’ after all! I still have my ration book tucked away in a case of mementoes in the roofspace and as a child, most of my clothes and toys were ‘recycled’, some quite ingeniously. So I’m not great at throwing things away that ‘might come in handy’ and I have a strong aversion to ‘waste’ in any form. But I do take issue with all the different coloured bags and bins into which we have to deposit our various kinds of rubbish for recycling! Vehemently!

I wouldn’t mind all the extra time it takes to sort the rubbish, wash the plastics, tins and glass, not to mention, remembering which to put out for collection on which nights, if I really thought all the effort was worthwhile. But that is what I’m not at all convinced about.

First there are all the bags and boxes that we’ve been issued with, all of them plastic apart from the starch bags we can use to line the food waste box with. Red bags, purple bags and green bags; a black box, a blue box and a silver ‘kitchen caddy’ food waste box. I live on a corner with my front door in one road and my back gate in another and nobody’s realised that I’m not two houses so duplicates of all these appeared out of the blue. Here we have five different categories of rubbish but there are places in England where they have nine!

Then there’s the washing of the plastics, glass and tins. I normally use a dishwasher but most of the plastics wouldn’t stand the heat so I have to wash them by hand. For this I need hot water, which uses gas or electricity and obviously water as well, all of which we are being encouraged to use sparingly! Add to these the washing up liquid for the greasy containers and surely my carbon footprint is already beginning to grow? So I just do it all once a day to save wasting any more water, gas or washing up liquid than necessary.Which leaves me with a sink full of yogurt pots, pate containers and marmalade jars, half submerged in beige-coloured water for most of the day!

But having dutifully filled my red bag with paper and light cardboard, my purple bag with the plastics etc and the green bag with garden rubbish and shredded paper, and remembered to put them out in time for the kerbside collection, I realise that there is still the food waste to deal with! Now that is revolting! Being just the one of me and not given to wasting much food, it takes a long time for me to amass enough food waste to be worth putting out so it sits and rots in the starch bag, which then degenerates into its blue box – the thought of keeping it in my kitchen, in the caddy provided, is a step too far! – leaving me with a squelchy mess that needs more hot water and washing up liquid to clean...

But of course, it’s all worth it because the jolly fellows who collect our miscellaneous contributions in their cavernous van - which of course runs on petrol – will take it away to be recycled. Or do they? Rumour has it that our sorting and cleaning are in vain as it’s all mixed together in the bowels of the van! And I read in the local newspaper - so it must be true! - that whereas it was formerly all shipped down to Cardiff – more petrol! – it’s now taken all the way to Southampton, on the South coast of England!

But fear not, here comes the 'aha!' moment! All has become clear and I'm pretty sure that I've discovered the true purpose of this irritating recycling operation! I do believe that it's a cunning ploy to reduce the unemployment statistics by giving work to the binmen and the drivers, who might well otherwise be joining the dole queues! 

So that's all right then - our efforts are not in vain!

This doodle was sent to me by my daughter who lives in Sweden. She was chatting to her brother on the phone when it 'happened' and she thinks it's the result of there being an exhibition of Chinese Terracotta Soldiers in Stockholm at the moment. But I can't help wondering whether it's something to do with her memories of her brother's vast army of little, stiff-legged, plastic 'Action Force' figures that he used to line up in rows on his bedroom shelves as a child - and woe betide anyone who dared to move them in order to dust the shelves! Maybe it's a combination of the two?

I'd like to make a little collection of 'back of an envelope' doodles on this blog so if you have one or more to contribute, please email me through my blogger profile page. There are some wonderful doodles at 'doodlers anonymous' but don't let them put you off - the back of an envelope will be fine!

(By the way, I went over my 'recycling' doodle with a pen because the original pencil scribble was difficult to see when I scanned it).

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Selling Original Artwork


How do you feel about selling your original artwork?

Of course the idea sounds great! Lots of money rolling in, the gallery owner beaming contentedly as the little red dots are placed discreetly beside your paintings that will be going off to new homes at the end of the exhibition. What a wonderful feeling! And yet...

One of the Art Tutors at Wensum Lodge, Peter Baldwin, (who, by the way, was the tutor who defended my chair with the 'wrong' perspective!) once told us that he always insisted on making sure that his painting were going to ‘the right home’. At the time, I don’t think any of us had the faintest idea what he was talking about and put it down to some sort of artistic idiosyncrasy.

But once I started to sell my original pastel paintings, I knew all too well what he meant. In spite of my need for the cash and the genuine satisfaction of knowing that someone liked my work enough to put their money where there mouth was, there was always an even stronger need to know that the purchaser was buying my painting for the right reasons. I can’t even begin to tell you what ‘the right reasons’ are; it’s something that I sensed – or didn’t! And there are one or two of my paintings that I’d be begging on the streets before I’d part with them. I have given away a few of my original paintings with no such qualms, but only to my family and my closest and most trusted friends and somehow that feels very different.

An understanding friend suggested that it must be like selling your babies. That’s probably a slight exaggeration – and babies do grow up eventually and leave home. But I think she was right in that selling one’s original artwork is like selling a part of oneself. So it’s not so irrational to be concerned about its future, to want to be sure that it will be appreciated, not stuck in the attic when the time comes to redecorate the room.

That’s one of the reasons that I’d prefer to sell posters or good quality prints – when one is sold, you can always make another one! And it’s also part of the attraction of selling greeting cards. The other reason, as I said last week, is that I am more comfortable with the thought of making art affordable to all, regardless of wealth or income.

Some of my paintings are available as posters and prints from Zazzle and there's an even greater selection at Red Bubble.