Kerrie Woodhouse

Whimsical Watercolour


Magical mystical mandalas

My art journeyphoenixarttally
mandala no 1 arttally

It is hard to believe that it is the final series for the year. I had originally planned to repeat my favourite series theme from the year so far but I have just taken a wonderful free mandala class with Julie Gibbons.  This is the first mandala I drew in the class and now I can't stop so December is going to be all about mandalas.

I have had a big square sketchbook set aside and waiting for mandalas. To be honest I have all sorts of books about mandalas too.  Apparently all I needed was Julie's terrific class to get me to actually do something with them all.

Now it seems all rather perfect for the end of the year.  As the silly season begins in frantic earnest, setting aside some time for some soothing meditative drawing brings a calming balance.  You don't even need to be able to draw.

Why not give it a try?

Learn to draw for fun - no pressure, no expectations

Beginner Resourcesphoenixarttally

Learn to draw arttally I believe anyone can learn to draw. Drawing is so good for us. It teaches us to be mindful, observant. It helps us slow down and unwind. Its also a really fun thing to do.

Although maybe not so much when you are first starting out. The problem with learning new things is that we often fail to give ourselves permission to be beginners. Being bad at something doesn't feel excellent. But being bad at something is the first step towards being good at it.

I don't think you need to actually be good at it to reap some of the wellness benefits. Doing something with your hands is a good way to come back to the present. To spend some time doodling is a helpful way to switch off, perhaps after work, or if you have trouble falling asleep.

Drawing is a skill anyone can learn. There are techniques and rules that anyone can learn and with enough practice become proficient. Its a question of how many hours you are prepared to put in.

Those early hours are the tough ones. Like learning anything new, the first attempts can be almost painful - just think about what it's like to have your first few lessons with a new musical instrument! Even learning to drive has similar problems - you need to know so much at once to be able to execute the task.

However, the internet provides us adult learners with a rather marvelous opportunity. You can learn almost anything in the privacy of your own home and often enough, for little or no cost. Thank you, You Tube!

Drawing is no exception. I reckon the best way to start to learn to draw is to dig out that old bic from the bottom of your handbag, grab a scrap of paper that was already on its way to the recycling bin and have a doodle. Why not?

Don’t agonise over which supplies. Don’t go and purchase a fancy new sketchbook. These things ramp up the expectations you have of yourself and turn something that could be just a bit of relaxing fun into a Big Thing.

Need some inspiration? A bit of helpful instruction? Your smartphone is close to hand, I bet…. Many lovely teachers are just waiting for you. It was tricky to narrow down the list but here are three of my fave You Tube drawing teachers:

1. Learn to draw with Alphonso Dunn

Alphonso provides weekly videos on how to draw everything. No really, that is his tagline. I would suggest heading to the playlists and going for something like the ‘how to draw everything else under the sun’ playlist. There is a drawing fundamentals playlist. My suggestion is not to start there. Time for that later. This is just supposed to be fun. It's not school. Choose a short video - 5 minutes or so. How to draw an asteroid perhaps? A raindrop?

2. Learn to draw with Art a la Carte

Art a la Carte also provides weekly art videos for all ages and skills. You might find more of the cutesy stuff over here… cartoon kitty cats for example. Fun!

3. Learn to draw with Fine art tips

Sometimes when I feel a bit tired of drawing (what? Tired of drawing??) I find almost as much enjoyment in watching someone else draw. There is something soothing and absorbing about watching someone skillfully pull a three dimensional image out of a flat empty page. I love watching the image gradually emerge. Oh, and the sexy accent doesn’t hurt….

So what are you waiting for? Let's draw something!


Put your stress in perspective

Self Developmentphoenixarttally

Owls 3 Mixed media on Wood June 2015 arttally It is so easy to get embroiled in the minutiae of daily life. Chores pile on top of wish lists. Supermarket queues and incompetent drivers add a layer of frustration to the day. Everything seems urgent. Overwhelm can ensue.

And then every so often, life sends you a little reminder to take a step back, to put things in perspective. Today, Thing Two (my son, age eight) cut his head open with a cricket bat. He is perfectly alright now, after a trip to the plastic surgeon to dig out the remaining bits of the bat and stitch everything back together.

A minor emergency is a great clarifier, it seems. Funny how when needs must, a full day's itinerary can be shelved to deal with something that actually is important.

The most valuable things in life are not on any to-do list. Caring for our loved ones, spending a moment to feel gratitude for our cherished families is a most helpful way to reevaluate our priorities.

Perhaps all those tasks on your list - in whatever stage of completion - are not worthy of the stress we allow them to cause us.