Kerrie Woodhouse

Whimsical words and watercolour

flora

Do you have a secret unlived life?

Series of the MonthKerrie Woodhouse

Do you love an intriguing pathway?

Me too.

I love a garden path with little delights hidden round each bend.  That's what I have been painting recently.

 
Garden Path no 3 - Lavender walk (Watercolour on paper, 9"x12")

Garden Path no 3 - Lavender walk (Watercolour on paper, 9"x12")

 

We are all naturally curious, aren't we?

Sometimes it's a light on the horizon that draws us in. 

 
Garden Path no 8 Sunlit Bend (Watercolour on paper, 9"x12")

Garden Path no 8 Sunlit Bend (Watercolour on paper, 9"x12")

 

Or the invitation of an open gate.

Actually, even a closed gate has a certain allure. Surely, whatever is locked behind a gate must be worthy of further investigation.

 
Garden Path no 4 Lavender Gate (Watercolour on Paper, 9"x12")

Garden Path no 4 Lavender Gate (Watercolour on Paper, 9"x12")

 

I have been painting these garden paths all month and I cant help thinking about the paths that lie before all of us.

We have so many choices, so many paths to take. Best to let our curiosity be our guide.  Listen to the whispers of our hearts and choose to bravely take the paths that beckon.

 
Garden Path no 9 Tulip Path (ACEO Watercolour on Paper, 2.5"x3.5")

Garden Path no 9 Tulip Path (ACEO Watercolour on Paper, 2.5"x3.5")

 

For beckon they do.

The wishes and dreams that we don't pursue don’t leave us. We may stop talking about them and we get on with the business of adult things. While fears and doubts may also do their bit to dampen the call, the little voice is always there, tempting you down the path. 

 
Garden Path no 7 Shaded Bench (Watercolour on Paper, 9"x12")

Garden Path no 7 Shaded Bench (Watercolour on Paper, 9"x12")

 

Stop awhile on your current path and make sure that what you see before you still fills you with joy.

Or is there something you put on your 'Someday' list that just might be better? 

 
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What are your secret dreams of things you still want  to do, be, learn or explore?

Start today. It's the things we don’t do that we regret.

The only thing worse than starting something and failing... is not starting something.
— Seth Godin
 
Garden Path no 2 Flowering Sentinels (Watercolour on Paper 9"x12")

Garden Path no 2 Flowering Sentinels (Watercolour on Paper 9"x12")

 

Follow your curiosity down the path that beckons.

For to carry around your secret unlived life is a heavy burden indeed.

 
Garden Path no 1 Bouganvillea Steps (Watercolour on Paper 9"x12")

Garden Path no 1 Bouganvillea Steps (Watercolour on Paper 9"x12")

 
I will not die an unlived life
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible,
to loosen my heart 
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance;
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.
— Dawna Markova

Do you have too many plump and juicy ideas?

Series of the MonthKerrie Woodhouse

Berries and seeds are tiny symbols of hope and possibility - don't you think?  I love that something so small can be so mighty. From a tiny little seed a whole new plant can come to be - nature’s everyday magic.

 
 

From the tiniest acorn grows a mighty oak.

Only it doesn’t have to.

Not every acorn will become a tree. We do not judge those acorns that don't end up transforming themselves. 

We see their fascinating shapes and textures and delight in their current stage. They are valuable just as they are, right now.

We don't see their worth as conditional on what they might become.

 
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“When we plant a rose seed in the earth, we notice that it is small, but we do not criticize it as “rootless and stemless.” We treat it as a seed, giving it the water and nourishment required of a seed. When it first shoots up out of the earth, we don’t condemn it as immature and underdeveloped; nor do we criticize the buds for not being open when they appear. We stand in wonder at the process taking place and give the plant the care it needs at each stage of its development. The rose is a rose from the time it is a seed to the time it dies. Within it, at all times, it contains its whole potential. It seems to be constantly in the process of change; yet at each state, at each moment, it is perfectly all right as it is.”
— W. Timothy Gallwey, The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance
 
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Those little seeds and berries remind me of all the ideas we have and the projects we begin. A new idea is exciting - as plump and juicy and wonderful as a berry. So is every book we add to our reading lists and every online course we begin.

 
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But just like those seeds, not every idea will manifest its largest form. We enjoy an abundance of new books and courses, ideas and projects - more of these are available than we have the resources for. That’s okay. Nature shows us that this is simply the natural way of things.

 
 

There is value in beginnings: the burst of enthusiasm, the creative zeal that sparks us into action. The joy of possibility is enough.

Some of our ideas and projects will see completion. It’s okay that we probably don't know which ones they are at the outset.

 
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Many seeds fall from the tree. Only the passing of time and allowing events to unfold can determine which ones will will flourish. And since we don't know which ones will flourish we need them all.

 
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Unfinished projects, or forgotten ideas are not wasted, they are a part of the process. They all have a role - it just might not be the one you expected. Some are stepping stones, some are just practice. Some are for exploration and help you find your way by a process of elimination.

Revel in the abundance of all your beginnings. Please don't berate yourself for the ones that didn't appear to go anywhere.

Let them go in the knowledge that they are enough just as they are.

 
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Find your resting places

Series of the MonthKerrie Woodhouse

There is something so enticing about a quiet bench in a beautiful spot. It is an invitation to stop even just for a moment, to take a breath and slow down.

 
 

No charging port or wifi necessary. Bet we all need to do a bit more of that. If we have become so busy that we feel we do not have the time to sit still for a moment, is that really progress?

 
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Do we see time spent sitting in quiet contemplation or even staring into space, thinking about nothing in particular as a waste these days?

 
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That would be a sad thing. Our 24 7 world of instant gratification and permanent connectedness is a world of constant activity. Perhaps it is encouraging us to forget  our  respect for the natural ebb and flow of daily life.

 
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Like day and night, like the rise and fall of the tide, we need the still parts of our day just as much as we need all that motion. One feeds the other, they are equally important. 

 
 

Take that nap.

Or sit in the garden with a cup of tea.

 
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Stop at that bench on your walk and just be for a bit. You deserve that. In fact, you need that. Finding resting spaces in your day is just as important as finding time for your work. 

 
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And while you are there in your favourite resting place, soak in every part of it with all of your senses. Build it into your memory. Then the next time you are stuck in that queue at the checkout you can close your eyes and return for a restful minute to your favourite resting place.

 
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Is it time to shake things up?

Series of the MonthKerrie Woodhouse

This month I took a slightly different approach. Usually I decide on not only a subject and a medium but also a particular approach or style to follow for each painting in the series. However this month I felt feeling a little wilful. I wanted to explore a few different ways of painting tulips.

 
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This got me thinking about routines and habits. I enjoyed giving myself a little more freedom. How often do we contain ourselves a little too much?

 
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Routine is all well and good but sometimes it is good to change things up. We are always being encouraged to establish good habits, begin each day with a 'power hour' morning routine.

 
 

We have a seemingly infinite supply of  books and blogs and podcasts that advise on how to do this and things you must do for that. With so much research at our fingertips it seems like we ought to find out exactly what to do before we begin. In moderation of course this is all well and good, but what about the joy of exploration and discovery? 

 
 

And do too many instructive resources leave you feeling a bit paralysed?

Scared to begin in case you do it ‘wrong’? 

There comes a point when you have to stop researching and just do.

 
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Of course we can learn from each other but we should not undervalue our own creative possibilities.

Just because someone else does something a particular way doesn't mean that you have to or that your way won't work.

Because someone else did a b and c before d doesn't mean you cant get to d earlier in the piece.

Or later.

Your own path is valid too.

 
 

Cultivate your butterflies

Series of the MonthKerrie Woodhouse

Brightly coloured flowers are irresistible ... not just to painters.

Did you know that the blooms are particular colours in order to attract what they need? Most flowers need the help of pollinators to reproduce. Bees are attracted to blue and violet flowers, while butterflies prefer bright pinks and reds, or yellows and orange shades.

 
 

Just as it is with us, the way the flower presents itself to the world attracts its tribe. The energy we put out influences what we receive.

 
 

Painting blooms and their bugs got me thinking about relationships. Blooms and their pollinating bugs need each other. These are the best kind of symbiotic relationships. Biologists call this mutualism - each party benefits from the relationship - just like the best friendships.

 
 

Every gardener delights at the sight of a ladybird in the garden.  The little ladybird in her quiet unassuming way does a great deal for the plants. She can munch her way through many an aphid and her bright orange and black markings are actually a natural deterrent to some birds that may harm the flowers.

 
 

There are other relationships in nature known as commensualism where only one party gains from the relationship. A tree orchid for example, gains support and partial shade from the tree without causing it any harm. It made me wonder if it is possible to have a human relationship like that.

 
 

Can we have an exchange with another person that does not affect us in any way... or is it true that there is no such thing as a truly unselfish act?

 
 

One  thing I do know is that not all our relationships will be beneficial. Just like in the garden - not all the bugs will be ladybirds. The odd pest is inevitable.

 
 

Most of us can identify the relationships we have that deplete us. At best we can remove ourselves from them completely. Unfortunately this is not always possible. But every garden can cope with a pest or two - so can you.

As long as we have enough of the positive, supportive relationships around us we have greater resilience to cope with the challengers. Like a butterfly in the garden, a good friend will brighten your day. Her warmth can lighten your heart and nurture your soul.

 
 

Sure, your best friend might not chomp the head off your foe - ladybird style, but she will buoy you up to handle what comes your way. Her support and understanding is enough to give you courage and strength when you need it.

 
 

So have a look around your garden today.

Identify the relationships that do not serve you well so that you can eliminate or minimise them.

And always cultivate your butterflies....

 
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Explore more of this series in the shop - come and see if your favourite still available.

Embrace imperfection - like a rambling rose

Series of the MonthKerrie Woodhouse

Roses can be one of the most challenging flowers to paint - intimidating!

But they are so beautiful, how could I not give it a try?  

If you can approach it with a glad heart and a brave brush, painting offers an opportunity to embrace imperfection.  And I am learning that the subject often chooses the artist, as it usually carries a message - a lesson not only in painting, but also in life.

 
 

I would be lying if I said I didn't worry that my loose watercolour style would not do all those immaculate layers of petals justice. A careful and accurate botanical drawing was my first instinct. However … careful and accurate… not exactly my way!

But one of my beliefs is that even a loose approach to painting should be able to capture  the essence of a thing.

In fact, to me, that is rather the point.

 
 

So if it is true in painting that you don’t need to be perfectly precise to achieve an outcome, is this true in life?

Embrace imperfection Kerrie Woodhouse

I very much hope so. It means that if you fumble over your words when you are trying to console a friend, the chances are she understands what you mean anyway. You gave her some comfort even if you didn’t find the perfect words, or get them in exactly the right order.

Some of our parenting moments are prouder than others... it's not just me... is it? 

A child does not need absolute perfection in their parents to grow up happy and healthy and know that they are loved. 

 
 

Sometimes I think we fool ourselves into believing that you have to do something brilliantly in order to do it at all. That level of perfectionism stops us from trying anything new and limits our avenues for joy.

Where would we be if if we didn’t allow ourselves to write a bad poem or bake a cake that sinks in the middle. The joy is in the activity, the process not the final product. It is still fun to play with words and ideas, and I bet that cake was still tasty, sinkhole notwithstanding.

In the process we capture the essence of the experience - that is what we are really after anyway. Like the haphazard tangle of rambling roses, they are joyful expression, and truly beautiful.

 
 

Do you delight in the wildness of the rambling rose?

I do.  Its long-stemmed cousin might be the florist's choice, and it has an elegant beauty too, of course. But there is such joy and abandon in the informal branches, leaves and blooms.

It might be an imperfect jumble and even have a thorn or two but it is always growing. Always striving. Ever reaching for the light. A chaotic thorny tangle does not preclude an exquisite bloom or two. In fact, it probably makes them seem even more lovely.

True for roses, true in life. Even when our lives get to be especially busy, messy or difficult there will still be at least one tiny bloom of joy somewhere. 

 
 

The persistent rambling rose will continue to reach up any structure it can. Such a symbol of hope and perseverance.

 
 

I love to see a wild rose climbing a man made structure. The contrast of cold, strong steel and gentle blooms and petals seems to carry a message.

Find your strong support.

Let it hold you.

Be flexible enough to embrace imperfection in order to grow.

Follow the light and never stop reaching.