Perhaps you cannot believe that 2016 is over already. I know that the six months before July are a bit vague. The last three months are a blur and the others are missing altogether. What happened? So a time to reflect and jog the memory is required. What was 2016 all about and how can you make 2017 better?
Highlights and Other Bits
To be honest I find it difficult looking back on 2016. Yes we all had our personal ups and downs. Hopefully more ups. There are the hopeful moments and the despairing ones. The laughs and frustrations. Loves and losts. But if I must find a way to sum up the year it would be this. Almost everything was dominated by one thing. Fear.
Fear is Contagious
Yes the number one enemy is good old fashioned fear. Franklin D.Roosevelt famously said that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. This was way back in 1933 when the world was in the grip of the Great Depression. Roosevelt knew that what Americans needed was hope. One may say that food and shelter would be first. But without hope the people suffering in the 1930's would not be able to create anything new. Fear robs us of hope and our creative spirit.
What Has Changed Now?
If we compare ourselves to the millions who lived under the Great Depression we look rather spoiled. If you can read this blog and I can write articles online then we are way more fortunate than those poor souls. It is almost guaranteed that if you are living in a peaceful part of the world you will be better off today than in the 1930's. So what is the problem?
My Awareness Resolution
I broke a Golden Rule in 2016. The one that says "Avoid the Mainstream Media". If there is one thing that thrives on fear it is the media churning out so called news. Thanks to the US elections it was easy to get sucked into the news circus. How crazy were all the dire predictions? After this holiday season, away from news channels, I can honestly say that I feel better. More positive. More creative and I am looking forward to new challenges in 2017. The secret is to be aware of the message that feeds you. Bad news will bring you down. Good news inspires. Our thoughts determine our actions.
Two things will determine our future in 2017. Thoughts and actions. Your own thoughts and your own actions can lift you or bring you crashing down. At the very least make them your own thoughts and not some media house pushing an agenda.
I am looking for creative solutions to grow my art career. Improve my art, meet new collectors and artists. Work with like minded people and to learn from leaders in my field. We all need mentors who have walked the path before us. If you can learn from someone like this your creative vision is automatically enhanced.
Find Your Creative Niche
Not everybody wants to paint. Many people tell me that they read my blog because they like creativity even though they make something else. Jewelers, designers and decorators, for example, have written to me about their creative journey. What activity gives you a soul-boost? That is the one to focus on and grow your passion for it. Study your creative niche and take action to grow your art. Because that is what you are. An artist.
Write Your Own Script
If we can banish fear we can achieve anything! The idea then is to determine your own future. Write your script. Not just a few resolutions. A script has more detail. There is a beginning, middle and end. You want more specifics about actions and outcomes. Know what you want to happen in 2017. Write the script and take action to make it happen. One scene at a time. Add to the script as you go along, but know what it is you want for the ending.
My 2017 Screenplay: Act one. Scene One ...ACTION!
As many have said before the gentle river has carved out many great canyons over time. Nobody likes a pushy and overbearing person. Ultimately when we have everyone moving peacefully in one direction great things get done. Go easy on yourself and others, but stick with your script. You will be amazed at how a little positivity and kindness can do so much.
The past year would have been a bust without YOU. Artists, collectors and creative friends. I want to conclude the year by saying THANK YOU! I appreciate your positive involvement over 2016. To everyone that has taken a moment to share their common passion for art with me. I do appreciate it.
I wish you and yours a peaceful, joyful and creative 2017.
It was George Bernard Shaw who said “Youth is wasted on the young.” I sometimes remind my young adult sons about this when they are getting uppity. This amusing quote, like all good quotes, has more than a grain of truth to it, especially when you reach your fifties and sixties.
But how about we look at this quote from another angle. How about “Let us not waste our hard earned wisdom in old age.” I like that idea. Then it struck me how much painting is helping me during this time of life.
The Journey to Mindfulness
Let me explain. When I was a much younger man painting was about skill and show. I had to get the skills to steal the show – or something like that. I had to stand out, sell paintings and grow in reputation like any ambitious young person, I guess. This is fine to a point, but I missed the bigger picture since my focus was just on my career.
Painting and Awareness
Over the years I had to learn more about a balanced life. You may have had similar concerns in your career, too. Try as I might, I simply could not get into the meditation concept. Meditation is still very difficult for me. But it was through painting that I could disconnect from the stresses of everyday life. By doing this I became aware of thoughts that were causing me problems. When I painted, those ideas and thoughts disappeared – often not to return.
Why Being Aware is So Important
The world has witnessed some of the most important events in a long time. if you look at the Brexit and US Elections, 2016 is a watershed year. I have no political views to put forward. But I do see that people are very emotional.
The power of ideas can stir up unfortunate emotions where people say and do things that they regret later on. We all have our limits. I am no different. But it does help to see one’s behaviour and put the brakes on quickly. Awareness makes this possible.
Painting Makes the Difference
Without the pause that painting gives me I would be another touchy and reactionary person of the 21st Century. For many people starting retirement today the world can seem like a scary place indeed. Sadly, most people start retirement without the skills needed to cope with this time of life. With too much time to think about problems there can be very little peace of mind. Drama takes over every day.
If you have thought about giving painting a go, or you are a lapsed painter, I do encourage you to dive right in without a second thought. There is more to painting than putting paint on a canvas. It is a deeply intellectual pursuit without an end. You do not complete the game and look for something new. It is a journey of self-discovery that will help you see the world and your own life more clearly.
Mindfulness means being aware of your thoughts, understanding them better and being able to let them go. Very often our worries are simply imaginary. If we see them for what they are they lose power over us and we can be free of them.
Use Painting to Find Peace of Mind
Painting is one of many ways to develop mindfulness. It just happens to be the one method that has worked for me. Many artists that I have met over time say the same thing. So I hope you will forgive my esoteric essay, but if it does encourage you to pick up a paint brush and ease your worries then I am happy.
These upcoming holidays are the ideal time to regenerate your sense of peace. Instead of getting sucked into the energy draining runabout try painting instead. Keep it simple and fun. Need a little help? Start my Free painting course and find out how easy it is to get started. Sign up here and your free course will be with you within the hour. Happy Painting!
(First published in Sixty and Me)
The advice you sometimes hear from others is "Try something new!" Take a break and have a go at..." All well meaning and probably true. I tend to enjoy my comfort zone until I realise that I need a new challenge. Learning something new is good right? How hard can it be? Quite hard in fact.
Over the past year I have been working on Illustrations and book cover design inbetween painting. Before fine art took over my life I worked with graphic art. Posters, designs of all types and lettering. All by hand. Now of course hand drawings are still important, but these designs need to go digital too. Enter comfort-zone-defeating-learning-curve!
Do you enjoy reading manuals? I belIeve this is a skill in itself. A real advantage if you can do it. Sadly when I see the manual I put it aside. Opening a manual leads to confusion and distraction. Learn by doing is my mantra. So I jumped into digital image design and, as it turned out, the water was chilly!
I did have to humble myself and refer to the manual a few times. Basically every time I needed to know something. These programs are complicated. The urge to illustrate by hand and get s teenager to digitise the images was immense. However I had an incentive. Mainly this was to remain in my wifes's good books (pardon the pun). You see I was employed by her to help illustrate her new children's book, A Chirstmas Tail.
My richly talented wife had prepared the drawings in outline form and I had to digitise them and add color. Set the pages and design the cover too. Fotunately a children's book is short. But when you are coming to grips with using new tools and software it does take time. A lot of time and patience. Both of which are usually not in great supply. Looking back I can say that I did enjoy the process. Let's keep that our little secret shall we?
The Sense of Achievement is dwarfed only by relief!
The book was finally completed and launched a few days ago. We are all very happy with the result and filled with plans to start the next one. In the New Year.
I can mention that when you go the indie publisher route there is another learning curve in getting the book formatted for markets like Amazon and Kobo. Setting up your own store and making sure that your readers get the book. This is a story on its own that I will get into in some detail another day.
A fun part of indie publishing is being able to offer readers things like Book Bundles at great prices. This is exactly what you will find when you check out the great offer at www.kerrindewey.com. A great set of books for the holidays plus A Christmas Tail as a bonus for the young ones. I hope that you enjoy the books and especially the illustrated children's book.
Let us know how what you think.