Kerrie Woodhouse

Whimsical Watercolour

place

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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How to use your strengths (and each other's)

Kerrie Woodhouse

I used both ink and watercolour this month - they play so beautifully together. Of course, each is perfectly adequate on their own. But when they work together there is less to be expected of each one - the load is shared. There is a message in that for all of us, to be sure.

 
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Actually it fits so well with a sketchbook practice. In my opinion anyway, a sketchbook is a license to free yourself from undue expectation and be more open to play than perfection. An ink drawing is a great way to capture a scene. So is a watercolour painting. But if you put them together they can compensate for one another. 

 
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Watercolour is so good for a splash of loose but vibrant hues. It offers life and energy. People often think that watercolour is hard to control - it does seem to have a mind of its own. But if you let the pen join in, then inky lines can firm up any details that you feel are lost to the wilful nature of the paint. 

 
 

Ink on its own can sometimes feel a little stiff. A pen is a far more precise instrument. It is easy for it to lure you into tight little details. If you know that watercolour will come in and play its part then it is easier to loosen up with the pen. Easier to stop before it feels too finished and before the lines strangle the life from quick energetic sketch you began with.

 
 

Each medium has its strength. Ink gives bold strong lines, and fine, precise details. Watercolour is relaxed, loose and suggestive. Allowing each to offer its respective strength to the page means you have a good chance of capturing a lively but recognisable scene in rather short order.

 
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One medium need not do everything. Nor are there rules about which one goes first. Start with ink, or with paint, do what the sketch wants. Bring back the pen after the paint is dry to reinforce some details. Flexibility and teamwork - that’s what its all about. 

 
 

There is no need to try and be a jack of all trades - this applies as much to art supplies as it does to people. Ask for help when you need it. Trying to do something that you do not enjoy or find a struggle makes no sense if there is someone around who can do it better, and faster than you and actually enjoy it.

 
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Spend your time and energy on your strengths, not your weaknesses. Unless there is something new you really want to learn to do, you are probably wiser to step back - outsource or find someone to collaborate with.

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If we don't ask for help, we are denying someone the opportunity of sharing their gift. Likewise trying to be all things to all people may come at the cost of time spent doing that special thing that only you can do.

Let’s work with our strengths, and each other’s.

 
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Build your resilience with self care

Series of the MonthKerrie Woodhouse

Do you remember that wonderful line in Wind in the Willows, when Ratty talks about how worthwhile it is to  spend some time simply messing about in boats?

 
 

How right he is. It is becoming increasingly clear to me just how important it is to make some time away from the busyness of all those things we have to do in our beautiful but full, modern lives. 

 
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We have to make the time to do those things that replenish us in order to maintain the capacity to keep doing all those things that fill our schedules. And the fuller those schedules get, the harder it is to find the time to do the things that are important but not urgent.

 
 

It is that lack of urgency that Ratty alludes to when he is explaining his view to Mole. (Do you remember it? you can read it here if you like!) He talks about how it doesn't really matter if you get somewhere or you don't, he seems to thinks 'messing about with boats' always gives you something to do without requiring much of you.

 
 

And how rare that is. Think of all the tasks on your to do list. So many demands are made of us, consequences of not performing them well abound. We owe it to ourselves to find the things that we like to do, that can engage us gently enough to transport us from the everyday but without overburdening us. It is these self care practices that build our resilience.

 
 

For each of us this is something different. 

A long walk.

Perhaps a quiet cup of coffee in a cosy cafe where you can watch the world go by.

Gardening, baking or sketching (yes art making... definitely try that!)

A glass of wine in an indulgent bubble bath or spending time with a loved one.

What replenishes you?

 
 

The more of these boats that I painted, the more I came to see them as symbolising our personal space and resilience. As we move through the physical space of our world we should not ignore the mental and emotional space that we occupy. We can't control what happens in our environment but we have utter dominion over our mental and emotional space.

 
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Investing the time into replenishing ourselves is as wise as the captain keeping his boat in good repair. We have to tend to the vessel that holds and carries us through the water of our lives.  We don't know what is ahead of us. It may be choppy waters, it may be still as glass. For sure, it will be full of colour and texture, fun and excitement, but also challenging and testing at times. From the comfort of your well maintained little boat you can take it all.

 
 

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