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Category: DRAWINGS & PAINTINGS

  1. Stone Me!

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    I started my first little business 20 years ago. And as unlikely as it sounds it was selling painted stones. It was called Stone Me and it was the beginning of an adventure that I started because I had such a strong desire to be my own boss and to build my own business. I was in my early twenties, and although I didn't have much confidence, I was full of energy and love for my little stones.

    stoneme1

    [pic above: me with my stall, sponsored by the Prince's Trust, at the Cheshire Show in June 2000. Martin Bell OBE popped over to say hello on one of the days! Look at all those stones!]

    I travelled all over doing networking events and business training, I had stalls all the time including ones at massive events including the Cheshire Show and the Southport Flower Show and I worked really hard getting out there and building a reputation for Stone Me.

    stoneme2

    [pic above: My front page appearance in Warrington Worldwide magazine in August 2001 and a promotional postcard I used from about 1999]

    And then I got a permanent teaching post. Followed by a mortgage. Eventually followed by children and painted stones faded away for more serious pursuits. I have always continued to have some form of creative freelance work alongside my teaching because the urge was always there – be it photography, fine art and even cake decorating – so to finally take the leap into pursuing my own creative work again full-time a few years ago felt like something I had been waiting a long time for.

    But lately, the responsibility of this has weighed heavy on me. It's not too long ago that I went 'all-in' just on my artwork (rather than selling mainly craft based work to make my income) and this involved some massive financial risks (and sacrifices!) for my family to cope with leaving me feeling extremely guilty a lot of the time!

    I felt a bit lost. And when I should have been working harder than ever I seemed to slow down. I needed to find that energy again, the love and belief in my own art work and where it could take me. So, I went back to my roots. I went back to where it all began and I painted some stones – and I loved it :)

    It reminded me to find the joy in my work again, and reminded me what it was like back then with a whole world of possibilities in front of me. And then I also realised that they fit perfectly with my current mission – about celebrating uniqueness and ordinary joy. The beauty of the painted stones is that each one is different and it's the lumps and bumps and often imperfections in them that suggest the painting that should bring it to life. Every one is different, every one worth celebrating – just like us!

    So, here we are, 20 years after I first started. And I am relaunching 'Stone Me' as part of my current work – to remind myself to work hard, have belief in myself and to be excited about the path ahead. And to remind us all the it's our own lumps, bumps and imperfections that make us unique and amazing!

    THESTONESARECOMING

    Things have come full circle. And I think I like it.

  2. Friends are like stars...

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    As you will know by now if you follow me on social media or if you've spent any time on my website, my mission is to motivate and inspire people to be who they are and love who they are. All my current work is on this theme - based on quotes or messages that remind us to be joyful, be brave and to embrace the mistakes we will make along the way.

    But change can be big and scary, and getting our of your comfort zone to embrace new things is so much easier with the support of friends - and that is the inspiration for this painting. It is the belief and encouragement from my friends which has got me this far - and which has kept me going when I was a defeated heap on the floor.

    So, this is my homage to them. A thank you from the bottom of my heart for their love and friendship - and a reminder that I am here for them too, always.

    And it is a reminder for us all to make sure we surround ourselves with friends who build us up (not knock us down!), who we can trust and lean on when we need to (and who can do the same with us) and when we find them we need to treasure them and be grateful for them because they are worth their weight in gold.

    Let us celebrate our friends.

    'Good friends are like stars. You don't always see them, but you know they're always there'

    BALLOONS1

    BALLOONS2

    BALLOONS3

    BALLOONS4

    BALLOONS5

  3. And the award for longest painting title...

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    Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I'm not the bold, risk-taking type. I like security, rules and putting my pyjamas on at teatime. But, the older I've got and the more of life's 'bad times' I have seen, I have come to firmly believe that we have to take a risk in life every now and then – and sometimes an almighty huge one.

    The treadmill of adulthood can be relentless – the responsibility of bills to pay, food that needs buying and cooking (sometimes for little people that need feeding too!) and a seemingly never-ending list of grown-up chores that need doing can make us feel that we have our choices taken away from us. The need to meet all these things means we stay in a secure job, (one with a regular pay packet that pays the mortgage!), or stay with habits and routines which are familiar and safe to us.

    Often, fear keeps us in the safe zone – but sometimes we have a niggle for something more. Sometimes we face something that means taking a risk, taking a chance, taking a leap. It might be applying for a promotion, starting a new relationship, or giving up that secure job to follow a calling – an ambition for something more. Whatever it is, sometimes we need to take a deep breathe and take the risk.

    risk it quote

    'He that is afraid to throw the dice will never throw a six' is a painting all about this (I told you it had a long title..!) You can never reap the rewards of taking a bold step, if you never take the step in the first place. You can never throw a six if the dice never leaves your hand.

    And this is what I am doing now. I took the initial leap away from a well-paid job a few years ago – but it has taken me until now to take the final leap towards following the path I have always dreamt of taking. I have finally thrown the dice – and have yet to see where it will land.

    I am still in the stomach churning land of watching it spin – wondering if I can pay my mortgage, wondering if people will laugh at what I am saying, wondering if I've made a big mistake. Or indeed, if this is the start of the greatest success of my life – a big fat six!

    One thing is for sure, however it lands I will never regret throwing the dice, and I know I would never have been happy not giving it a go.

    And anyway, I'm holding out for that six...! :)

    dice

    FINISHED DICE

  4. Just Keep on Swimming!

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    Ask anyone who has ever tried setting up a small business and I bet they will tell you they feel like giving up on a regular basis (I know I do!). The same can be said for anyone trying to lose weight, studying towards a new qualification, training to run a marathon or even battling illness. Sometimes we get disheartened, and often we get tired. And we have to take all our strength and remind ourselves to just keep going.

    And this is what my latest painting is about – reminding ourselves to just keep on swimming.

     dontquitcartoon

    I remember seeing this cartoon several years ago and I now have it up in my studio and I make sure I look at it every time I feel doubt in what I am doing – or even if I just feel knackered and want to throw in the towel. Whatever our current challenge is, often the only difference between success and failure is not giving up.

    churchill quote

    So, whatever you are facing and whatever challenge you have to overcome, remember to just keep on swimming - and I promise I will do the same!

    Helen x

    goldfish1

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    goldfish3

  5. 'Beyond The Crumpled Paper' - a small painting with a BIG message!

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    Because I was working on the big scenery project for most of January, it has taken until today for me to complete my first painting of 2018 – and it's only a small one, but what it represents is massive.

    2018 is the year that will see me silence all my niggles as I push my work, and my brand, in the direction of sharing my own journey of overcoming self doubt and a lifelong overthinking habit and hopefully inspiring and motivating others to do the same (I wrote more about this here). This is a scary shift for me – and this painting symbolises this moment!

    The painting was inspired by a social media post I have seen shared on many occasions – and one which I think holds a very effective and powerful message. The original post is below – and I apologise for not crediting its original author as I have no idea where it originated from.

     crumpledpaper

    Now, as I said, I love the lesson in this in terms of showing the lasting effect that bullying can have (and I also include many other things in this that life can throw at us along the way!) but I felt unhappy about the suggestion of the permanence of the creases – that if we suffer something that affects us emotionally we are bound by those effects for the rest of our lives; as if our victim status is inescapable.

    And this is where the painting comes in – and why it's called 'Beyond The Crumpled Paper'. I would hazard a guess that not many, if any, people make it into adulthood without some 'creases' in their paper and I think these define us in an incredibly powerful way. It is these creases which make us unique – the same as everyone else on a basic level (we all start off as a plain, flat, unblemished piece of paper) but we develop our own, beautiful, complicated and intricate pattern that makes us oh, so very different, to anyone else who has ever set foot on this planet. And that is amazing.

    This pattern of crumples tells a story of life – of difficult times overcome and challenges survived. Instead of them being a reminder of how we felt at these times, we should let them serve as a reminder that we came through those times and can now be brave and build exciting times ahead. And that is where I am now – working hard to accept all my crumples and creases (not just the ones on my face!) and move on stronger, not despite them but because of them. Life is about living beyond the crumpled paper, not trapped within it.

    crumpled1

     

    crumpled2

    crumpled3

    final crumpled paper