Kerrie Woodhouse

Whimsical Watercolour


Meditative mandala making

My art journeyphoenixarttally
mandalas no 2 arttally

The second mandala that I drew in Julie Gibbons wonderful free class taught me just what a meditative experience mandala making can be.

This mandala started out as a series of concentric circles made with a compass. The circles were divided into equal portions to make a rough guide. Just enough planning and preparing to keep the logical analytical part of the brain happy.

Then begins the more creative intuitive part - what could the circles and grid support? A lotus flower finds its form with the addition of soft curves, slightly imperfect - the only way my hand drawn curves ever turn out.

Methodically rotating the page and repeating the shapes is a very calming experience. Round and round, adding colour.

Ah.... bliss...

Learning to draw is good for you

Beginner Resources, My art journey, Self Developmentphoenixarttally

learning to draw is good for you This is Redford. He is my fourth project in the Crazy Cats class with Miriam Schulman.

This project felt a little more daunting than the others, somehow. It felt like it required a lot more drawing. I procrastinated a fair bit before I started this painting, and I think it was mostly because of the drawing aspect. That's the thing with watercolour, isn't it? Most of the time you really need to be able to start with a decent sketch, so if you are uncomfortable drawing it makes watercolour painting really hard.

Funnily enough, the part I enjoyed the most with this painting was the drawing.  Having to spend a little more time on the sketch gave me a chance to remember that I really love the process of drawing.  It is one of the most relaxing creative pursuits I can think of. If you can stop worrying about how it is going to turn out, and surrender to the process of careful observation and mark making, time slips by.  You can escape the world for a moment and just be in the present, enjoying the tactile experience of marking textured paper with graphite.  Taking the time to appreciate lights and shadows, shapes and lines.

And then as an added bonus when you are done you get to splash colour and water all over it. Can't think of a better way to pass an hour or two...


Mindfulness... the easy way

My art journey, Self Developmentphoenixarttally

mindfulness the easy way This morning I have spent the day surrounded by paint and paper and watercolour pencils and crayons. It is a glorious way to escape the world for a few hours and surrender completely to a joyful absorbing task. To me it is one of the easiest ways to practice mindfulness.

Mindfulness describes being fully present in the moment. Being aware of what is and accepting it without judgement.  Learning mindfulness helps us to find more balance in our lives through greater emotional equilibrium. We can learn to be less affected by the external environment. It can help us become more aware of our own negative thought patterns and enable us to replace them with more helpful ones. It can increase our effectiveness in our work and improve our relationships with other people.  Small wonder we hear about it so often and see it used by coaches, therapists and business people.

There are many ways to practice mindfulness. There is a short but helpful document from the Black Dog Institute that is a great starting point.  It suggests meditation, as well as practicing mindfulness during regular activities such as eating and walking.

My favourite way to practice is with some sort of happy creative activity. Choosing an activity that you do purely for the sake of recreation and allowing it to absorb your attention. Perhaps that is why it is easier. If it is a task you enjoy it draws your attention effortlessly rather than you having to try and consciously maintain your focus. I don't think it really matters what the activity is. Baking, knitting, drawing, painting or colouring in a colouring book. Its all good for you.

At last, something that is good for you that you can actually enjoy doing.

How to feel calmer in one minute

Self Developmentphoenixarttally
Monkey 4 Mixed Media on Wood Arttally

Monkey 4 Mixed Media on Wood Arttally

Here we are at monkey number 4. It always feels rather good to get to the end of a complete series. This little monkey is sitting quietly noticing the world around her. We all need to do that too. Being busy is easy. It feels inevitable somehow. Remembering to take a little time out and sit for a moment.... that is much harder. But so important.

I think we are probably all aware of how valuable meditation is,  but how many of us have managed to make this a habit?

For many of us the excuse is time. Somehow finding time in the day to sit and essentially 'do nothing' seems impossible and even counterproductive if you schedule is stretched already. The other excuse is that it is too hard, it takes too long to learn, that you are too restless and can't quieten your thoughts.

How much easier would your life be in you knew how to feel calmer in one minute?

Because one minute is actually all you need.

Even one minute of sitting quietly can make you feel significantly better. Whether it is a little anxiety, a little frustration, overwhelm, or tiredness, you might just be surprised at the difference a minute can make. Try it and see... its worth a shot.  Here is a little video that explains it all and gives you a chance to try it now for yourself. And there is a free app you can download called One Minute Meditation.

I love the idea of taking one minute to reset. No yoga mat, no meditation cushion. But I do rather like having a bit of help. By which I mean that while a moment of silence is immensely valuable, there are times when I like to have some more specific audio guidance.

If you do too, you might appreciate the free resources available at There are a series of one minute meditations available that cover all sorts of things such as visualisation, relaxation and concentration. They even have one minute meditations for kids. All these meditations are available free either to stream or download.

And may you have a calmer day because of it.