Friday, 29 August 2014

Poppies In Flanders Fields . . .

Please feel free to pin or download and print this high-resolution A4-sized quotation

The Poppy is the August Birth Month flower. But it has also been adopted as the Symbol of Remembrance, honoring those who have sacrificed their lives in war.

So, as we commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War this month, it seems appropriate that the quotation should be from one of the most poignant poems about 'The Great War', the war that was supposed to end all wars.

You can read about the author, a Canadian physician, 
and how he came to write the poem after the Battle of Ypres, 

Friday, 15 August 2014

Ways to Cope with Too Many Ideas?

"A good artist has less time than ideas." -

Oh how true! And this doesn't just apply to those of us who are visual artists; anyone who allows their creativity to flourish must surely identify with this Kippenberger quote. 

Ideas are at the very heart of creativity and when they come thick and fast they can easily overwhelm us. Sometimes the torrent of ideas, all jostling for 
attention, can feel more like a burden than a gift. I know there are times when I despair of ever getting out from under the crushing weight of them. 

When panic sets in, the impossibility of acting on all of them can make me want to run away and do something completely unrelated!

But I never actually do that 
because there are ways of coping with
'Too Many Ideas Syndrome'!

First of all, I found that knowing that other people 'suffer' from the same thing was an enormous help. (Thank you, Internet!) And I read through various articles on the subject with suggestions for keeping our cool when ideas threaten to overwhelm us. 

Some of them work for me, others don't. 

But here are the main strategies you may want to try if you feel in danger of being overwhelmed by your stream of ideas:

1. Write down your ideas as soon as possible after they enter your mind. This was by far the most popular strategy and it's the one that I find works best for me. Whether you keep a special notebook for 'ideas-on-the-go' or various notepads and jotters around your house and work-space (especially near your bed!), it doesn't matter. You may even find a specially dedicated folder on your computer works best for you. 

The important thing is to get the ideas out of your head and onto paper, leaving your mind free to concentrate on the job in hand - which, in many cases, is simply falling asleep!

2. Take a little time to review your 'jottings' regularly. What you may well find is that some of the ideas that seemed brilliant at the time, may have lost their gloss while they were waiting for you to come back to them. If so, that's great! Cross them out, delete them or do whatever you do to get rid of them.

Having reduced the number of ideas a little, look closely and see if any of them relate to one another in a way that means they can be combined; or maybe some of them are almost duplicates. If so, that will reduce the ideas tally even further. 

The next step is to prioritize the remaining ideas and even, if you are anything like me, organise them into a realistic schedule for carrying them out.

Once those steps are done, 
you should feel a sense of freedom,
 a lightening of the load  of 'too many ideas'! 
You don't necessarily have to
 stick to your plan/schedule;
 just making it can be therapeutic.

If you've carried out these two steps - writing down your ideas and then pruning and prioritising them - and you still feel over-burdened, here are some other ideas I came across, none of which works as well for me as the steps above.

1. Take time out to meditate.

2. Repeat to yourself, or out loud: 'There is plenty of time.' (this one definitely doesn't work for me at my time of life.)

3. Convince yourself that whatever needs to be done will be done. (again, to me that would involve putting on heavily rose-tinted spectacles.) 

Have you heard the Latin phrase 
'Ars longa, vita brevis.'? 

It originated from the work of the Ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, and the true meaning, as interpreted by Wikipedia, is:  "it takes a long time to acquire and perfect one's expertise (in, say, medicine) and one has but a short time in which to do it"

But it's often translated as -

 'Art is long, Life is short!' 

 - and as such, I can't begin to count how many times a day it runs through my mind!

How do you cope with
Too Many Ideas?

Friday, 1 August 2014

Water Lilies in Wales!

The first time I went up to the top of the Blorenge Mountain, I was very surprised to find a large pond up there, on top of the mountain!

The little market town of Abergavenny lies down below, in between
the Blorenge and Sugarloaf Mountain that you can see in the distance.

And I was even more surprised to find water lilies on the pond.

The Water Lily, a relative of the Lotus flower, is a rather exotic flower, isn't it? Something you associate with tropical countries - or at least somewhere with plenty of sunshine? 

Certainly the last thing you'd expect to find on top of a mountain in Wet and Wild Wales. 

This photograph of Water Lilies on the Keeper's Pond
has become one of my best-selling Sympathy Cards

But there they were, blooming on the Keeper's Pond!

So I did a bit of internet 'digging' and discovered, here, that there are a great many different varieties of Water Lilies, some of them hardy enough to grow in temperate climates. 

The giant, tropical water lilies were first introduced into the UK in 1849 and grown in a specially built greenhouse at Chatsworth House. But there are others that seem to thrive in wild or semi-wild habitats - on top of the Blorenge, for instance!

In many cultures and religions, the Water Lily is regarded as sacred. Maybe it's the symbolism associated with the fact that they grow up through the mud in the dark at the bottom of the pond?

Wherever they grow, whether in the tropics or not, Water Lilies are always exquisitely beautiful. Monet certainly thought so!

One of Monet's many 'Water Lily' paintings
- probably my favourite.

And the Water Lily is the July Birth Month flower.

I was quite nervous about attempting to make a collage Water Lily for this month's repeating pattern. All those petals made from painted tissue paper could easily end up as a soggy mess. But I had already painted some for a July Birthday Card and I wanted to do something a bit different this time.

I began with a border - 

It didn't turn out too badly and, combined with another pond inhabitant, the dragonfly, it resulted in some interesting patterns -

So, here's this month's Birth Month Flower message:

Be like the Water Lily -

Please feel free to 'pin' this or
 download and print it.