I’ve been pondering recently about imaginal thinking and how it can shape change. It involves, for me, more often than not, taking two or more seemingly unrelated images, putting them together and creating meaning from them. An act of ‘wondering and wandering’.
I work a lot this way in my notebooks / sketchbooks. From the semi-intuitively produced image comes larger thinking and access to parts of my consciousness that may be dormant – the subconscious or unconscious and makes it iterative and conscious.
Practice with materials leads to and becomes part of the exploration. Wider aesthetic thinking occurs (something we in the West have largely lost) which leads to thought and words. Afterwards I might write or just ponder as I garden or cook or do the daily tasks. Sometimes there is a notion of an imprinting in the body (embodiment), the book is closed and other life is resumed. Closure….for now.
I haven’t posted since April – where did the time go? Hope you are all staying well and enjoying some more freedoms than before and some lovely summer weather. I am revelling in the gardens and hedgerows at the moment – literally rolling around in grass like a puppy sometimes – I think it’s just a release from the darkness and enclosure of a strange winter.
There’s plenty of inspiration for shape, colour and pattern down there at welly level!
Much Wenlock, Shropshire – ‘The Spiritual In Nature Exhibition’
Now we can freely travel and visit places again, you may like to visit this gorgeous village in the heart of some beautiful countryside. There are antiques shops, bookshops, a yarn shop and plenty of lovely food outlets.
Excitingly I have an exhibition there for the whole of July – although please note that the venue, The Guildhall, is open Fridays to Mondays 11am – 4pm. It’s an amazing building itself – built in 1540. You can go into the courtroom and the council chamber which features the most exquisite wood carvings and furniture.
Cards and prints will also be on sale and I will be there on some of the days – this morning, next Friday afternoon and the 11th July. Other times I will drop in too. Let me know if you would like to meet.
The exhibition is my response to lockdown, featuring birds and wildlife that we could see through windows as we felt so trapped inside. But didn’t we come to appreciate it? Didn’t we notice its importance? Also I am addressing in my work, the need for new myths and tales to be told for our future generations about what we have learned about changes to environment through the actions of mankind.
The address of the Guildhall is 1 Wilmore St, Much Wenlock TF13 6HR. There are stairs to climb to the first floor. The exhibition and entry to the building is free but please expect to wear a mask. The red blob below on the map is opposite the Guildhall.
I have achieved the desire of a lifetime which is to by myself a Campervan (not a VW trend-setter one!) to travel, read, write and spend time discovering more of our beautiful natural world. You could call it a mobile ashram and painting studio! There is loads of room for art materials and the potential for lots of silence, stillness and solitude. Expect more of this:
… anyway it’s all too exciting – I am looking for places to park up cheaply, walk and paint. I could deliver a mindfulness and art workshop near you with a group of your friends?
Wolf Town Art Club
I have decided to take a small break from our fabulous art club which has happened monthly online over the past year and we will resume in the latter part of the year. We all need to be out there at the moment, whilst we can!
Community Art Projects
I’m in the middle of two funding bids at the moment for some funding for great projects – watch this space – should know more at the beginning of August.
Meditation and Wellness Sessions
These are still online – you can find out more and book here (Gatis Community Centre) and here (Boundary Way Project).
That’s it folks!
Meanwhile get out there, smell the roses, make some marks, draw some and ENJOY THE SUMMER!
Well the lockdown is lifting and we are not sure what the future holds. Many people in shops and pub gardens enjoying themselves but I am wary. Not anxious, but more practising being in the field of the unknown and working on being OK with that.
Fortunately I have a happy hermit mentality for the most part and making art, writing in notebooks and growing plants and veg keep me fairly isolated. What I am looking forward to is a few visitors to the studio and chats in person about art and meaningful stuff. Meaningless babble welcome sometimes. 3D people would be a bonus. In moderation. Introverts unite (well, the unite bit can be tricky!).
So I have enjoyed working on the PhD – very in the head with that but I also need to get out in the air, move my body, practice yoga and sitting in total silence as a contrast. I am working on the balance.
Pieces like this run daily at the moment alongside written thoughts.
I am working on some larger oil paintings and small pieces for a solo exhibition in July in Much Wenlock, Shropshire. Some are inspired by new myths created for changed times for we are sorely in need of new narrative.
The exhibition is part of the ‘Word In Edgeways’ storytelling festival which covers July in the town. The paintings can be viewed at The Guildhall, Much Wenlock. More details when I know them.
I am still running Wolf Town Art Club online once a month on a Sunday lunchtime – if you fancy a bit of art fun do join us for the cheaper than chips price of £5.80.
Next session is Sunday April 18th 11am-1pm – no experience necessary – the theme is birds this time – read all about it and book here:
Something else I love to do – the practice is my total foundation. I am qualified and overjoyed to share. Please find sessions on the Boundary Way Project events pages and also Gatis Community Centre’s Eventbrite listings. These sessions are competitively priced or free.
Wolverhampton Art Gallery has re-opened
If you are visiting and would like to visit the studio please drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07976 350062 to see if I am in and covered in paint!
It is how it is and I have given up planning. There isn’t much point in wishing it otherwise so really I am concentrating on making the most of every day aren’t you?
I would love to hear how you navigate through. Do post in the comments.
I am walking a long walk each day (unless it’s really wet – I confess a tendency toward fair weather walking!) and busying myself with artwork – some large oil painting when I can get to the studio and a lot of small sketchbook work and trials with materials.
I have also enjoyed making some short films – here is one celebrating the faces in West Park, Wolverhampton. This is a space where I am allowed to go for exercise. Who know there were so many faces there!
I have called it West Park Ghazal which is becasue it sits alongside a poem in this form that I made on a workshop with Emma Pursehouse and Steve Pottinger last week as part of the Boundary Way Project. Emma is the poet laureate of Wolverhampton – do look her up she’s insightful, poignant and humerous. She features in Wolverhampton Literature Festival next month. I might be performing for the first time on February 14th – eek!
West Park Ghazal In West Park the sun is lower – om shanti The mist obscures at an early hour – om shanti
Ice sheets crackle in blue chipped wonder The tiny moorhen, a struggling rower – om shanti
Geese sliding comically on landing Webbed feet losing control and power – om shanti
Trees drip fog drops to the slippery paths Azalea buds with a promise of flower – om shanti
I pity the birds, the struggle for food A leaf too tough and a berry too sourrrr – om shanti
I give thanks for my lot at this early hour – om shanti.
– Clare Wassermann Jan 2021
and here was the day itself – wasn’t it beautiful?
I have been enjoying teaching both meditation sessions and art online. If you would like to join one I have : Wolf Town Art Club – next session is Sunday lunchtime on February 21st – here are the details on Eventbrite. 2 hours of fun for £5.80 – cheaper than Sunday lunch.
Meditation sessions are available through Gatis Community Centre – look for Mindfulness, Meditation and Wellbeing – they take place on Tuesday nights online. These are free for now.
Also at Boundary Way monthly meditation, movement and mindfulness sessions in January, February and March on a Monday morning at a very reasonable £2.50. We are lucky to have been awarded funding for this work.
Meanwhile I continue to walk and draw when possible outside – in itslef a very mindful activity – ages can pass and I can be almost completely frozen solid before I notice my body!!
More poetry and film
I discovered Haiflu today too.
Created by Spoken Word Artist Liv Torc and supported by Forward Arts Foundation, National Poetry Day, the British Library and Arts Council England
Featuring over 600 contributions from all over the UK and beyond and told through stunning weekly film instalments. This is not just lockdown art, it’s a historical record of human beings and society in the midst of great change. Here is the website and there’s a great Facebook page too if you like short poetry and film. It’s all very current.
Best wishes to all of you out there – stay mindful, warm and well.
Not sure whether we are really finding it a season to be jolly this year. There has been so much pain and suffering that it’s hard to think of Christmas parties, gathering families and carol singing without feeling whistful and sometimes quite sad. We have, I suppose, to find our own way through and find things which give us pleasure in a deepening winter and a confusing world. We may need to rephrase and instead say: ” ‘Tis the season to be grateful.”
Gratitude can go a long way towards finding some kind of contentment in small moments. I am finding ways to celebrate what I have. In the words of Dr. Andy Cope, (doctor of happiness at Loughborough University) I wake up each day and say to myself “my teeth don’t hurt and my pancreas is glowing with health.” Try it – it’s a good way to start the day!
Ways that have helped
As you may know I am moving from my huge studio where I had held lots of wonderful classes in creativity with groups of fun loving and eager art makers. In the time that we have been keeping ourselves to ourselves I have worked from home and therefore smaller.
For me, spending time drawing and painting, is great – it is fully absorbing and is time away from the news and social media which only serve to fuel fear and mistrust. I have also enjoyed taking photos on my long tramps around the streets and along our urban canal network. With more time it is amazing what you can notice right under your nose – particularly small details. Documenting shifting light through photography has been absorbing.
Last week I undertook a little online challenge – Folktale Week 2020 which involved prompt words and in my case paints, pencils and pastels working just to A5 size. I liked the discipline and sometimes only finished my daily prompt just before midnight by the skin of my teeth!
Here are my images …. along side them a story emerged quite natually, of a kestrel on Dartmoor! More of that to come maybe but here are the images:
An event for you – how to have a little fun and calm time with me online
On December 13th I will be hosting the second of my Wolf Town Art Club sessions online. I used to have open house at the studio once a month on Sunday lunch time for people to come and work on their art and meet like minded folk. We can’t do that for now so art club is online … do come and join us – no experience and limited resources needed. This time we will do a mindful drawing exercise and look also at colour palettes – read all the details here – there are a few places left at the moment.
If you need to buy art materials in a hurry Jacksons is brilliant – if you don’t have an account at the moment click the banner below and you will get 10% off and even if you DO have an account click on the banner anyway because you will still get 5% off – I get all the materials I can’t get locally from them.
All the above links will give you a 10% or 5% discount. Think Christmas!!!!
So … to the future
We don’t really know what it holds do we but I have invested in a new space to work from – it is pregnant with possibility! And when events can safely go ahead I will look for venues to hold our workshops. We will survive!
Unfortunately the robin Christmas cards have all sold out. In addition to this I have some original artwork getting ready for exhibitions next year – drop me an email if you are interested in viewing sooner….email@example.com
This Autumn, more than ever, is a time to gather resources for what seems a more hunkered down hibernation than ever before. Covid-19 means we will all need to protect each other and restrict our movements out of the home.
My resources include:
Restarting a particular art practice Investing in Pranayama as a daily nutrient Eating well Daily exercising. Meditation. Yoga. Taking in only healthy things wherever possible, particularly with regard to through my eyeballs – this too counts as nutrition. Caring for my garden …. singing a lot!
I would be interested to know what are your preparations for this ultra-isolated winter?
My new daily practice will be returning to Intuitive Art making. I will write a post shortly about this soon but it is based on deep meditation and opening to creative prompts which feel as though they come from a place within which connects to the connectivity of us all without.
Here are a few recent examples:
Eventually these may translate into larger paintings but for now I will work smallish for convenience. It feels good to be working back this way again and my method will contribute towards the PhD I’m working on.
Out and about
I am always working in sketchbooks though – it doesn’t matter what it is really I try to draw every day – sometimes waiting in the car, for an appointment or sometimes deliberately setting out to sketch. All of it contributes in some way to the recurring theme that is ‘fear of getting started’ – most people experience it!
Last week I was lucky enough to spend some time in Wales and enjoyed drawing in harbours, hills and beautiful beaches. Sometimes the weather was quite moody – always good for atmosphere and Wales specialises in it!!
As this constrained winter approaches I am thinking about running my Sketchbook and Art Club online – let me know if you’d like to come. It used to be in the studio but restrictions will not allow for that to happen easily so I am working my head around adapting. We can share what we have all been making and I can lead some fun exercises!
Maybe wine would help????
Back soon – I am going to try to keep this blog more regualar so sign up below if you would like to see my journey and develop yours perhaps too.
Autumn Preparations for a new kind of Winter – blog post.
It’s there if we look. That symbol of renewal and rebirth.
Planting it comes next, and following that nurturing it for transformation.
This will take work and determination and a simpler attitude to life, so that there is time to water it daily and provide a healthy environment.
Circles in general feature often as a symbol in Buddhism. Mandalas representing the universe are made in sand to remind Tibetan Buddhists of impermanence and as an aid to concentrate the mind. The idea of the Dharma Wheel, the wheel of reality is important and is said to turn in both directions.
The ensō is one of the most common subjects in Zen calligraphy. It symbolises enlightenment, power, and the universe itself. It is a direct expression of thusness or this-moment-as-it-is.
Generally it is a brushstroke, or sometimes two, painted in a single breath and can be symmetrical or irregular, thin or thick, heavy or delicate. They are generally accompanied by a verse (san) composed either by the artist or a separate commentator. The enso acts as a visual koan.
Koan pictures, alongside the riddle of the words, represent that moment between not being and being enlightened. The idea is that everything around one can be used as an aid to enlightenment and one just needs to have eyes to see it and apply it to whatever problem you are facing in the moment.
The circle may be open or closed. If it is open it represents beauty in imperfection and transience (wabi-sabi), allowing for movement and developmentand if closed, perfection and completion.
The notion of wabi-sabi is that beauty is found in combinations of symmetry, irregularity, simplicity, weathering, basicness, simplicity, without pretence, freedom and tranquillity.
Painting of Enso is be used as a spiritual practice as often as once a day by many practitioners. Once painted it evidences the state of the practitioner at that moment and is not added to or redrawn.
This spiritual practice of writing Japanese calligraphy for self-realization is called hitsuzendō meaning ‘the way of the brush’.
I am currently working with the breath to create enso.
The breath is life, ch’i, prana, the vital force. Don’t take it for granted.
So I think it is week 7 of Lockdown – although truly, after Boris’ unclear and blurred message to the nation last night it is hard to say if it is still to be classed as such. You are supposed to go to work if you can. Well I think it is very premature myself. The traffic hum is more this morning – a big increase – those felt impelled to go to the workplace out of need or pressure from employers
The world laughs at the UK, at our incompetence, and the government attempts to PR itself into a what is a self congratulatory flag-waving mess.
Anyway – I have found it hard to create or find meaning in creativity. Maybe it iscreeping in more now. I have no income but it seems wrong to try to create art to sell when there is so much loss and sacrifice around. It seems trite.
I have more recently gone back to making art to think instead. Occupying the hands. Taking the chatter away by doing and creating space for more important questions. Mostly my sketchbooks are the place for that. My thinking spaces contained within a holding place for a doing thing.
I have a couple of small paintings on the go, a large piece of creative stitching and the increasing volume of sketchbook work.
I wonder how it is for everyone else who makes art?
Otherwise I do big physical things in the garden, small detailed things in the garden, walk and practice yoga. I try to shop for others, more needy once a week and participate in some family cooking and attempts at positive thinking.
My preference would have been for the government to look at making it safe to cycle here – semi closing roads and allowing us to commute, exercise and shop safely by bike. Wishful thinking.
Meditation is the perfect balance between alertness and relaxation. It doesn’t matter if you practice in a chair or sitting cross-legged on the floor; it’s all about quieting the mind and stilling the body. It is about finding a still point from which you can look at the world in a different way and discover a fresh new perspective on your life. I am teaching a session to introduce people to meditation on Sunday March 15th. It will involve gentle relaxation and movements all designed to still the mind and to give you the chance to take some of these skills away with you. If you are interested it will be at my studio at 10:30. We will be finished by lunchtime and the link is HERE Please book in advance if you’d like a place.
Creativity Boosting Workshop
A workshop to help you open up your creative soul and find a voice with paint in sketchbooks and on paper. This would be ideal if you have never painted before or you have plenty of art experience but suffer creative block and don’t know where to start. It’s also a great way to learn to get into the zone – almost like meditation – and out of the chatter in your head!
A relaxed and introspective day to fire up your creative mojo. This is on Wednesday May 13th from 10.30 – 4pm. Investment £37 – tickets and lots more information HERE
There are other workshops including oil painting here on this site.
Please do come back and look again as I do update regularly – there will be another Travel Journals Workshop posted soon.
Since the beginning of the year I have been working in almost monochrome – it seems to suit the time and simplifies for value and composition.
Some of this work will probably emerge in future paintings I have no doubt.
I have also gone back, after quite a break to working in stitch which I have been enjoying since the weather is so dire and I can happily mix using the sewing machine and hand stitch.
As if I’m not already a busy person, I have embarked on a PhD where my focus is the field of “art and meditation”. It’s a massive challenge, undertaken part time, with all my other work and commitments but I’m giving it my best shot and stepping into another world. So far I like all the academic help available at Wolverhampton University and I have two great supervisors in Professor Ross Prior and Dr. Louise Fenton. I look forward to working with them and others over the next few years! #PhD
Happy New Year to all. It is a difficult start to 2020 globally.
I’m offering an opportunity to tune out briefly.
Meditation has certainly helped to release the creative side of my brain. I use it to reduce anxiety and to create courage in my life. Here is an opportunity for you to do the same.
Meditation is the perfect balance between alertness and relaxation. It doesn’t matter if you practice in a chair or sitting cross-legged on the floor; it’s all about quieting the mind and stilling the body. It is about finding a still point from which you can look at the world in a different way and discover a fresh new perspective on your life. I am teaching a session to introduce people to meditation on Sunday January 12th. It will involve gentle relaxation and movements all designed to still the mind and to give you the chance to take some of these skills away with you. If you are interested it will be at my studio at 10:30. We will be finished by lunchtime and the link is here