Posted in Alzheimers, creativity, Cross Hatching, Drawing, Drawings, Gratitude, portraits, portraiture, Uncategorized

Creativity Keeping Me Steady

I’ve completed 39 of 100 portraits in my 100 portraits challenge. I have no time frame to do them in. I just want to practice and keep learning how to develop my own creative expression on paper.

The images above are the my three most recent drawings. Two are cross hatching with a micron pen and the one in the middle is charcoal and white poc marker pen. Each one took about a two hours to complete and I am quite happy with them. I’m learning how much shadow to lay down, how to capture the light on the page and how to follow the form with each cross hatching stroke. It’s not always easy and I make mistakes but the act of drawing takes me out of the critical mind and keeps me steady in life.

In November I went to Canberra, where my family live and I was born, to see my mum. She has Alzheimer’s Disease and it was time to go back to collect more precious memories and to touch base on a face-to-face-heart-to-heart level. The day I arrived my mum seemed unwell and by the next day she was in emergency. She had an infection and so I spent the week at the hospital. My brother has been mum’s main carer and he is doing a brilliant job of caring for mum and it’s difficult to stop infections from happening when the person you look after can’t tell you they are unwell.

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It was a difficult and precious week.

I took a photo of us holding hands, even though mum didn’t know who I was.

At one point as she started to recover, the nurses had lowered the bed to the floor and I sat beside her. My hand held in hers. She rubbed my fingers with hers, smiled for the first time in a long time and whispered, “You’re lovely. I think you’re wonderful.”

Tears welled in my eyes. I choked them back and said, “I think you’re lovely too and I love you.”

Her blue eyes turned to me once more and she said, “I love you too.”

And then she receded into whatever space one goes to when they have Alzheimer’s Disease. Her eyes grew distant and she stared around the room once more.

That is a moment I will treasure for the rest of my life. Even writing this now my heart is aching and tears are making my vision blurry.

My mum is teaching me all about living in the moment and how to appreciate the smallest murmurs with the deepest love.

Mum was still in hospital when I had to return to Brisbane but I knew I’d be back in a few weeks time to see her once again. Her light is still strong and I have more precious moments to collect when I am there. Moments that will be locked away in my heart for the rest of my life.

So, once I got home and was greeted with lavish licks from my dogs and a semi-tolerant stare from cat, I knew it was time to start capturing moments that held meaning to me through my art practice.

David, my partner, happened to be sitting down watching TV and I noticed his foot. Strange as it might sound, I knew I wanted to draw his foot and catch an impression of him in my big green chair.

Dave_FootI got out my micron pen and sketched his foot using extreme foreshortening and then his knee and then his other foot and leg, and then I added the rest of him at a distance.

When I finished this drawing I was delighted. It has become one of my all-time favourite drawings. It is not perfect. In fact it is filled with imperfection, but what it captures is love and life in action. I also hold a memory of this moment that I can relive every time I see this drawing. To get David to sit for me to draw him, I bribed him with an ice cream and an episode of Star Trek Deep Space Nine!

And this is how creative art has been helping me to stay steady in life as I deal with anticipatory grief over my mother’s health conditions.

I also had a glimpse of creative writing again and in that moment I took to my novel with renewed interest and care.

Staying creative – drawing and writing what is in my heart and what I find precious – during the ups and downs of life brings solace to my heart.

I’m learning how important the ordinary is and how extraordinary the ordinary things in life really are.

Until next time, with gratitude for the time you have spent here reading my blog, I wish you creativity in your day. 

Posted in Creative Writing, creativity, Journal, mindful art, mindful writing, mindfulness, Uncategorized, Writing

Mindful Creativity

I’ve been exploring mindful creativity through my art and journal writing practice. It is way of connecting with my inner creativity and continuing to learn that art and writing are tools which bring me completely into the present moment.

My portrait practice has slowed but I am continuing to make progress both in creative expression and accuracy. The images below include portraits 30 and 31 out of 100. There are also graphite drawings of eyes with glasses which I did as part of the Sktchy course with France Van Stone.

As I draw a portrait, I have found that I am looking at what is in front of me and my mind is engaged in seeing the tones and values, the contours, the various shapes and I am no longer labelling what I see. It is as if my mind enters a space of surrender to what is before me. It is a sweet space to occupy and it allows my subconscious mind the space to unravel things that need to be contemplated.

I have also been writing a daily journal with the prompt, ‘today I noticed’, and I what I have noticed is that I am more in tune with what is happening inside me but not in a self-aggrandisement way. Reflection on my inner self through this journal exercise has given me space to explore who I am in the moment and to learn to allow the thoughts that float in and out of my mind to pass through while I only catch the threads I choose to connect with. It is a mindfulness skill.

This writing exercise is also helping me to be fully present in the moment. One day in recent weeks I found myself jotting down how the swallow-like birds zoom around me as a walk to work in the morning. They race each other zooming around in ever widening circles. They movements filled with playful joy. Their inverted ‘V” tails flashing past as these tiny  blue-black birds whoosh past my legs, hovering two feet above the grass and dancing on the air currents.

Taking a moment of time to notice these gifts of nature helps my creative life to expand. I write down what I notice and my imagination expands. My vocabulary for writing expands and so does my visual vocabulary of symbols increase.

Being creatively mindful isn’t about the end result or producing something that I can sell or show off. It’s about the moment, the journey and the experience within.

I am loving this mindful creative living through art and writing. I love that I can learn and grow and play. It is refreshing and positive.

If you have read this far, then I hope what I have said here inspires you to develop your own daily mindful creative habit. And it is my hope that you will find the richness of the universe in those moments too.

Until next time, happy creating and being in the present moment.

 

Posted in anxiety, Creative Writing, creativity, Cross Hatching, Drawing, Drawings, portraits, portraiture, Uncategorized

Art and Writing Practice

It’s been some time since I last wrote a blog post. I’ve been continuing my art and writing practice while also working.

Below is my latest portrait. I’m continuing to practice my portraiture skills and my crosshatching skills. This is portrait 29 of 100.

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Portrait 29/100 of my portrait practice challenge. Created: 13/10/2019 Artist: Selina Shapland

Below are some progress photos of my most recent portrait.

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The inspiration photo came from the Sktchy app and this is another artist in that community. I had a lot of fun capturing his squinting eye, practicing proportions and capturing the way he looked at the camera with one eye open.

Below is another pen crosshatching portrait practice piece.

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It’s the first one where I’ve drawn teeth and got them looking like they are sitting inside her lips. The green pen was fun to use and gives her a soft quality. The inspiration photo also came from Sktchy app.

Around all of my other drawing, I’ve been learning to use procreate and draw animal portraits.

Here’s the iguana I did with the Sktchy School class.

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I’m so looking forward to developing my digital art skills and seeing how my creative life blooms with the mediums available on this excellent creative app.

I’ve also been writing a daily journal with the prompt: “Today, I noticed”. It’s a ten minute exercise where I either write in a paper journal or on my scrivener file and allow my daily experiences to flow through me and onto the page.

One of the excellent things about developing a daily journal practice is that it frees up my mind allows my creativity to flow. It’s really helping me to move through writing blocks and plot knots. As a result of daily journaling, my novel writing has sprung into life and I am thoroughly enjoying fleshing out the areas that need to change from telling to showing because I am not bogged down by mental thoughts.

Living a creative life means that I need to be willing to empty the mental and emotional bucket through writing and art. Creative living is a sanity saver for me and it reduces anxiety in my life. My brain has time to process other events happening in the background of my life and I am more in tune with life in a way that flows when I willingly come to writing and art.

I’m also touching on exploring memoir writing and personal essays of memories in my life. I love that writing gives me such a safe place for self expression.

If you’re interested in seeing my portrait art and my life drawing progress, I post most of my photos on instagram now. It’s a way of sharing without using up all my google space for photos. So I am choosing to only show select art here now. My instagram feed is on this blog if you’re interested in checking it out.

Thanks for dropping by and for checking out my blog. I’m in a weird place right now as I deal with some emotional home life stuff so I may not blog as often as I would like. Sometimes I wonder if I have anything to say that is worth reading… But maybe that’s anxiety talking and not the reality of the situation. I don’t know.

Anyway, I hope that as I explore creative living that I inspire you to explore your creative life too.

Until next time… have fun!

Posted in Abstract, creativity, Drawing, Drawings, Uncategorized, YouTube Channel

A little art video

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Black Ink on Acid Free Paper – Intricate Line Drawing in Circle – Artist: Selina Shapland, Completed: 6th April 2019

I’m in the middle of learning how to set up my camera and record myself doing art so I can create more skillshare courses. I’d like to create one on drawing intricate line drawings. So, today, I set up the camera and played around with recording. Then I put the videos on iMovie and created the little arty video below.

I hope you enjoy it. As always, I am learning and growing as I share more of my creative evolution with you.

I’ll be having a few days off work around Easter, so I hope to put together a skillshare course on art and one on writing too. We’ll see. It takes a lot to develop a course, but I have ideas I’d like to share with my students, so I will keep giving it a go.

I am so grateful for all of the students I have skillshare. The fact that they watch and (hopefully) learn something from my creative experiences is truly touching.

Until next time, happy creating whatever your medium of choice!

Posted in Gratitude, Minimalism, Uncategorized

In The Moment With Life

When life is busy and I have so much travel to do to get to and from work each day, it can feel utterly overwhelming. My job is busy and I also write and read and my mind swirls with anxiety too. I want to do so much and achieve what is important to me, but sometimes … it is all too much.

That’s when change needs to take place. That overwhelm is a signpost on the path of my life and I am stopping long enough to heed it.

I took action as soon as I realised I was beginning to burn out.

I changed the route I take as I walk across Brisbane City to get to my place of employment. Instead of weaving in and out of a river of people on George Street and feeling stressed, hurried and overwhelmed, I now walk straight down another, quieter street to the Botanic Gardens and take a few moments with nature.

Nature has a way of bringing me peace, healing and wisdom.

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As I have walked along the path with lush overhanging trees, I realised just how important it is to give myself the mental, emotional and physical space to be in the moment. The simple act of walking and placing one foot down in front of the other on the pavement allows me to ground and to take stock of what is truly important in my life.

I’m thinking things through. I’m changing. I’m course correcting in my life and considering the consequences of actions and outcomes.

Who do I want to be?

What do I want to do?

How do I want to bring value into the world?

How do I live my life in accordance with my highest values?

These questions have deep answers and I know I need to keep asking them. Even with my creative writing and my artwork, I know I want to go deeper and give more and create in a way that is fulfilling to me and to anyone who receives what I have to offer.

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Each morning that I walk through the Botanic Gardens, I take a moment to look at the Brisbane River and appreciate the flow of the water. I contemplate it. The flow, the speed, the tranquility.

No matter what obstructions are in the path of the river, it flows with ease, even in choppy times. This seemed like an appropriate metaphor for me to contemplate. Maybe the message of the river to me is that no matter what may be happening around me, no matter what obstacles are in my way, I can be like the water and surrender to the flow.

I’ve noticed that nature has a way of being, of quietly doing, of growing and of changing and flowing with the elements. The river flows, trees are flexible and give when the storms batter them. The earth stays steady (most of the time) under my feet and sometimes the earth shudders to wake us all up to our place in this world.

Nature teaches me that my need to grasp, control and bend life to my will doesn’t work.

On my reflections about life and nature, as I place one foot on the ground and then take another, I begin the process of surrendering to the moment which is where peace sits.

It is in those in-between spaces of noise and hurry and want and grasping that peace sits patiently waiting. Peace calls lightly on the breeze. In those moments, the in-between spaces, where life truly comes into its own, that is where peace is found.

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I am not sure if my musings make sense to anyone else. But I do know that as I walk and contemplate and breathe, I give my brain and my nervous system time to unwind. I also allow myself the space to consider what is truly important to me.

In the last couple of weeks I have given myself the gift of a moment in time. I have taken deep breaths, released stress and I have looked up and I have appreciated the blue sky, the cool air as it rushes against my cheeks and the lush green leaves that sway and wave in the invisible wind.

I have taken time to consider all the stuff in my life and especially the stuff in my mind. This simple action has made me more mindful of the moment and the precious moments of life that I have. I am suddenly grateful for all that I have and all that I experience. And I take the mental action I need to take to de-clutter.

When I say, de-clutter, I don’t just mean getting rid of things. De-cluttering applies to letting go of outdated mindsets, thought forms, ways of approaching the world. I’m going through a re-orientation in my life and it’s very interesting to experience.

It is also scary.

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Posted in Minimalism, Uncategorized

Seeking a simple life – Minimalism

manuel-meurisse-464510-unsplashOn my way to work this week, I hit the highway at 5.30am. The world around me was ink-black and cars on the highway flashed bright lights like stars in my side mirrors. I was merging into the traffic and it was hard to tell how far away the cars and trucks zooming down the road were from me.

I’m cautious, but I have to get to 80km/hr to merge effectively. So that’s what I did and that’s when this semi-trailer suddenly appeared next to me and it was so close and I was running out of merging lane.

It scared me.

I realised I wasn’t going to be able out sprint this big semi-trailer in my little four cylinder Barina. I slammed on the breaks, ‘hitting the skids’ as the cliche goes and narrowly avoided flying off the side of the road and into a ditch.

I don’t blame the driver of the semi-trailer in any way for the scare I had. I just realised how dangerous it is (at times) for me to be merging into fast moving traffic when it’s ink-black and the car lights are an unknown distance away.

Anyway, the reason I tell you this little story is that it gave me pause.

A pause.

A moment to reflect.

A moment to think about what if this, that or the other happened to me as a result of this encounter.

Am I fulfilled in life?

Am I happy?

Am I contributing enough?

This event was a catalyst, and I realised I want more in my life.

My thinking on this encounter lead me further contemplating, which lead to action which lead to YouTube where I came across minimalism. I watched a few videos and felt something deep inside shift. A door opened a crack and I peeked through and caught a glimpse of what my life could be like if I were to let go of things that were holding me tethered.

What if I let go of my out-dated beliefs? Who would I be then?

What if I paid off my debt and truly embraced financial freedom? How good would I feel about my day and what other choices would I have to follow my dreams to fruition?

What if I finally released my attachment to poverty thinking? How much more abundance would I notice on a daily basis?

What if I stopped filling all of my emotional voids with stuff and started to consume consciously? What would happen to my life when I did these things?

This contemplation lead me to realise that I am seeking a simple lifestyle. I want less busy-ness of my mind, less anxiety, less stress.

I realised I want a life where I have room for my values. I want to live in accordance with what my values are and be guided by them to make wise choices in my daily actions.

I realised I wanted to pull over on the super highway of Selina’s life and take stock of where my life was really at.

So I stopped.

I started looking around.

I started a re-set.

I started digging for my values and searching for what I think is meaningful.

So here I am, metaphorically sitting on the side of the Selina Super Highway, taking a breather and contemplating.

It’s wonderful and terribly uncomfortable at the same time. I say this because from the moment I felt the shift toward simplifying my life and lifestyle, I have had to ask deeper questions of myself. Questions that do not necessarily have easy or quick answers.

The truth is I have no answers. But I do have actions.

My first action and outward manifestation of the internal shift toward creating a simpler lifestyle for myself as been to take on a minimalism challenge for the month of May.

From the 1st to 31st May, I have committed to letting go of one thing from my life every single day. I’m on day 6 and I have let go of much more than one thing per day. I have culled stuff from any number of rooms in my house and from my desk at work and from my emails.

I have culled old emails that dated back to 2010, right up to 2016. A palpable weight lifted from my neck and shoulders on the day I hit delete on all those ‘just in case’ emails. I let go of something I didn’t even know was stressing me out.

I have also thrown out and donated things that no longer give me joy, are no longer purposeful in my life or do not add value to my life. Things like the clothes I’ve been hanging on to ‘just in case’ I lose enough weight to fit back into them.

What was I hanging on to these old clothes for?

Well, I’ve put on weight – one of the side effects of sitting down and writing more often (for me) has meant weight gain. Not a huge amount but enough that I expanded out of my clothes and felt uncomfortable in my own skin.

This lead to drawing a line in my life and treading a healthier lifestyle as I have made healthier daily choices and incorporated more exercise. But, I’m going to be honest here ( that’s a value for me – I like being honest) I don’t love being a slave to the gym any more. For years, I was a slave to the voice inside my head that flogged me to go to the gym and exercise until my head was ringing. It told me that if I didn’t go to the gym and exercise, I’d get fatter and be ugly.

Yes, I’m vain. I didn’t want to be over weight or ugly as my inner voice told me. I didn’t want to look in the mirror and see all the cellulite on my legs and back side. I didn’t care what the experts said about it being normal. I was chasing a dream of extreme fitness and I hated myself for the way I approached it.

I like exercise but I hate being a slave to it, and that’s the honest truth right there.

Despite putting on weight, I have hung on to clothes that I loved to wear when I was two sizes smaller than I currently am. And since the day I woke up and realised I’d gained wider hips and a fat roll around my middle that made it harder for me to breathe, I have dreamed about getting back into those smaller clothes.

Please don’t judge me harshly for my honesty here. I would never judge another person for their body shape but inside my mind, I had a cruel mistress who was never ever satisfied with how lean or fit I got.

Anyway, back then I went through a cycle of self-hatred, flog myself at the gym, eat lean, then binge, then get angry with myself, fall into depression, then whip shite out of myself for failing once again.

That cycle of self-loathing is a cost that I no longer want to pay. And keeping old clothes that I no longer fit into has been torturous.

It’s time to assess the true cost of the stuff in my life and I have started donating all the clothes I’d been berating myself over no longer fitting into. Letting them go has felt so freeing.

And I’m excited by the new, simpler lifestyle and style I am embracing.

I’ll let you know how this whole process of simplifying my life goes.  I don’t think I’ll ever be a minimalist but I do enjoy applying the principles of minimalism to my stuff and to what I choose to consume in my life.

It’s nice to value people, relationships, my animal companions and all the things that bring me joy.

I’m finding joy in this phase of evaluating my life.

Posted in Uncategorized

Reading Healing Tarot Cards

Today is the third day of the Brisbane Mind Body Spirit Festival and I’ve been giving mini readings with my new set of healing tarot cards. You can see them in the image above. They are extremely symbolic and filled with archetypes that get to the heart of the things that hold people back in life.

It has been fantastic because so many people have received accurate messages and gone away with a richer understanding of what is happening for them in life than they had before. I rarely understand the context of what comes through but really, the messages are not for me, they are for the person who wanted the reading in the first place.

The tarot is a tool to guide and provide further information when people are seeking but I also encourage people to listen to their own intuition and connect with their own guidance to see the lessons in life that are coming their way.

I guess that’s why I like this set of healing cards so much. They help get to the core of the unseen issues people may have been denying in themselves.

I am certainly stepping out of my comfort zone. One by doing public readings and two by charging for them. I’m also stepping out of my comfort zone by writing about it here on my blog. But I am who I am and I am living as much of an authentic life as I can. It’s no good advising others to do such things if I do not do this myself.

I’ve had a long standing love for Spirituality, psychic stuff, the paranormal and Spirit. I don’t often talk about it and it can be challenging for me to put myself out there but I am listening to my own guidance and I am trusting in Spirit to help me along the way.

Not only am I doing small tarot card readings for people, but I am also writing paranormal fiction stories that channel my love of all things paranormal into the lives of characters and let them explore the conflicts of the human condition.

Understanding archetypes, symbology and the universal conflicts/lessons on the human experience help both with tarot reading, art, creative writing and (for me) living a fulfilled and authentic life.

So a big thank you to every single person who took a chance on me at the Brisbane Mind Body Spirit Festival and got a tarot reading. You rock and special thanks to the two ladies to encouraged me to stop practicing and step into my power, surrender to Spirit and charge for my time while giving my readings.

I cannot truly express the depths of my appreciation to you and to Spirit for what I have received.