Can colour and creativity help you heal?

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For many years I’ve been interested in alternative therapies and ‘hippy dippy – smells and bells’ stuff as we call it affectionately in my household. In the past couple of months I’ve been revisiting a lot of these things, I’ve started to attend a group every Tuesday night that gives a taster of everything from crystal healing and meditation to aura reading. The leader of the group is a crystal healer and is very passionate about using the power of colour for self healing.

I started doing a little bit of reading about colour therapy, for obvious reasons it appeals to my artistic nature! Some of the articles I read were very quick to dismiss it as mumbo jumbo (sorry I just love that term!) but how can we be so dismissive? Art therapy is a practical and effective practice that is used in schools, prisons etc. Its not something I have practiced or know a great deal about so excuse the naivaté of my musings, I’m coming at this from a more spiritualist angle.

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We know colour affects our moods, we choose the colour of our home decor accordingly.  It’s a matter of personal taste to some extent but research has shown that a room painted yellow disturbs sleep patterns as it’s such a vibrant, energising colour. In the ‘hippy dippy’ school of thought yellow is the colour of the solar plexus chakra which can be the root of a lot of emotions, if we’re feeling depressed and sluggish a big dose of yellow (sunshine, crystals, food, flowers, clothes, paint?!) can be the pick me up we need.

Even as a child we have simple colour associations – red is angry, yellow is happy, blue is sad, green is jealous etc. We’re brought up to give colour a meaning and attach emotional weight to it.

 

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We’ve all seen paintings that make us feel uplifted, or quite the opposite. It is the entire intention of art to evoke a response (preferably emtional) in the viewer. We make our own interpretations of a piece of art based on our personal experiences and the visual language we have developed internally throughout our lives. We hang paintings, photographs and prints in our homes that make us feel happy or inspired or remind us of a particular time or place or thing or fantasy. We surround ourselves with this subtle kind of art therapy. How many times have you been into a home that feels dead and unfinished because they have bare walls devoid of art? (perhaps that’s something only an artist would notice but I’m not so sure!)

 

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We also can’t ignore the therapeutic and healing properties of the actual act of being creative. When we paint of craft the concentration required frees the mind of other thoughts. We can attain a meditative state whilst creating which leaves us uplifted and refreshed. This is something that companies have even begun to explore as a business model :- Check out Zentangle as a perfect and fascinating example of this. (Interestingly though Zentangle is created in black and white.)

So where do I stand on colour? My musings have led me to think that if we can attain a state of relaxation and a free mind while painting in a particular colour,  then is there any reason why that colour can’t influence our mood and wellbeing and in turn help you heal? If we believe that the energy of colours can have a positive effect on our chakras, then why not the peaceful and therapeutic act of working with coloured paint?

I’m sure there must be artists that already work with this practice, if you are one I would love to hear from you!

“Artist heal thyself!’

x Charlotte

 

 

 




 

Inspired by my travels to …Romania

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We recently went on a family trip to Romania, I have a Romanian sister in law so we went to visit her family and attended the religious ceremony wedding of her and my brother in law in the town where she grew up.

I found Romania to be a place of many contrasts, imposing and grand gothic architecture, beautiful countryside and natural landscapes alongside industrial landscapes like abandoned factories. I was greatly inspired by what I saw, even creating landscape paintings and folk art inspired drawings while I was there and I expect that what I have seen will further inspire my love of sneaking gothic influences into my work.

Here are a few snaps taken by my husband and me during our trip, I hope you find them inspiring too and get a flavour of what Romania is like!

x Charlotte

 

Inspired by my travels to … Sorrento

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I’ve always been very inspired by travel and exploring different cultures and the imagery and mood of a country. In early May we visited Italy for the first time, the occasion was my Dads 60th birthday so we visited Sorrento, with the intention of fulfilling his (and one of my) lifelong dreams of visiting the archeological sites at Pompeii and Herculaneum. The art and crafts of the Roman era is fascinating, so much beauty, sophistication and advanced skill in fresco painting, sculpture, glassmaking and mosaic. My favourite site was Herculaneum where so much of the history is so well preserved and you can truly immerse yourself in your environment.

We also enjoyed the opulence of the catholic churches we visited, the quirkiness of the tourist traps and the natural beauty of Vesuvius and the Amalfi Coast. Below are a selection of photos that my husband took on our travels which I found particularly inspiring. I hope you enjoy them!

x Charlotte

 

New goodies in my Shop!


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A lot of people have been asking when there will be new stuff on the shop and I’ve finally added some prints and cards! These are mostly designs which you may not have seen before as they’ve not previously be sold online so check out my shop page for goodies!

I know how much you all love Alice in Wonderland and my other fairytale pin up artwork  so I hope you enjoy the new designs!

 

x Charlotte

 

 

Thoughts on ethical Art & Crafting

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For some time now I’ve been researching into ways of making my art and craft practice more ethical. There are obvious things such as using sustainably sourced paper/card etc and paints which have been produced with a minimum of chemicals and where the companies take their responsibility to the environment seriously.

The big dilemma for me so far as an artist is when you’re forced to choose between the results you want for the look of your work and your ethical stance.

We all spend years agonising over finding our niche as an artist, finding our unique style, our subject matter, getting our materials right to give us an end product that were happy with (or as happy as our inner art critic will ever let us be!) So limiting yourself to only using materials that leave you with a clean conscience throws a huge spanner into the works.

I recently found a paper-maker whose paper meet my standards for quality and ethics, but are slightly too textured for the fine details I like to capture on the faces of my pin up girls…so what to do? Do I stick with the paper at the expense of the artwork, do I go back to my perfect, but less ethical paper…or do I jog on and keep experimenting with different materials … which, as you would imagine, gets very expensive!

This dilemma is something I’m still battling with, and is something I have discussed with printmakers and other illustrators. Art is a pretty toxic business.

My heart says to keep searching.

x Charlotte

As seen in Complete Cardmaking Magazine!

 

 

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Check me out in this month’s Complete Cardmaking magazine! They’ve written a lovely little  ‘A Day in the life of’ feature about my work in the Serif/Daisytrail studio. Dylan the cat has somewhat stolen the show but I did get a tiny picture on the cover of the magazine and a mention on the website!

You can pick up a copy of Complete Cardmaking direct from their website or from your local WH Smiths and other news agents!

x Charlotte

My 2 Ingredient Sweet Potato Breakfast Pancakes (Gluten & Grain Free)

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Gluten & grain free breakfasts can be challenging and uninspiring so I love simple recipes that can become the foundations for endless fun experiments in the kitchen. A simple culinary idea works perfectly on it’s own, but can be added to, to make new variations  – Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations (the basis of Vulcan philosophy of course!)

These pancakes first came about last year, I was still on Slimming World and I had started to cut grains out of my diet to alleviate my various stomach woes. Like any sane person I love pancakes and I love American style breakfasts (possibly more than a good old full English Breakfast, controversial I know!) So I was experimenting to create a ‘syn free’, grain, and gluten free pancake recipe and after a bit of trail and error I came up with these little beauts!

They’re a lot like American pancakes, ‘hot cakes’ or English ‘drop scones’. Thick, slightly stodgy pancakes, as opposed to thin crepes, perfect comfort food. Quick and easy to make and they keep for about 3 days in the fridge so it’s easy to make a big batch that will get you through the first half of the week.

Basic Sweet Potato Pancake Recipe

  • 1 medium sized sweet potato (approx 250g)
  • 3 eggs

How to make them

  • Stab your sweet potato with a knife several times (with plenty of glee and malice and maniacal laughter) and then microwave on full for 5 mins, or until it’s very well cooked and soft and squishy. Or cut it up and boil it until very soft.
  • Cut it into chunks and allow it to cool (you don’t want the hot potato to scramble your egg!)
  • Leave the skin on the sweet potato for extra fibre, or peel it if you don’t like the skins.
  • Crack your eggs straight into your food processor or blender.
  • Add your cooked Sweet Potato and whizz it all up until it’s smooth!
  • Your pancake batter should be about the consistency of cake batter when finished. (It will vary depending on the size of your Sweet Potato, if its reeeally thick and not pourable, add another egg!).  If you left the skin on you will have some small pieces of skin in the mix but these just adds a bit of texture!
  • If you don’t have a food processor or blender, mash the cooked sweet potato flesh thoroughly with a potato masher (leave out the skin) and mix it together with the eggs in a mixing bowl (with a whisk if you have one!).
  • To cook, heat a frying pan with butter, oil or cooking spray (or nothing if you have a good non-stick pan) and spoon little pools of pancake batter onto the pan….or just cover the whole of the pan with batter and make one huuuge pancake. Cook until the side touching the pan is golden brown, then flip the pancakes with a spatula and cook the other side! Voila! Pancakes in your belly!

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Additional Tasty Ingredients to Try

  • 1 pinch of Cinnamon
  • 1 pinch of Nutmeg
  • 1 pinch of dried Ginger
  • 2 tbsp Cocoa Powder (chocolate pancakes!)
  • Chocolate chips (you know you want to!)
  • Chopped Nuts
  • Bacon pieces (drooool)
  • 1 tsp Honey or Maple syrup

(These are entirely optional things that you can add to your wet pancake batter, I like to play with my food and try new things!)


Awesome Pancake Toppings

  • Dairy free chocolate syrup (as shown) -  Just 1 tbsp honey, or agave or maple syrup & 1 tbsp cocoa powder melted together!
  • Banana (as shown)
  • Lemon or orange juice & sugar
  • Maple syrup & crispy bacon
  • PB&J or Nut butter & homemade jam/jelly
  • Icecream (!)
  • Nutella…or homemade chocolate spread
  • Chopped cooked Mushrooms & cream cheese
  • Greek yoghurt & blueberries…or any berries!

Shelf Life
3 days in the fridge.

Freezable?
I have tested freezing both the cooked pancakes and the batter with good results. Once you have defrosted the cooked pancakes, put them in a hot frying pan again to warm and crisp up, otherwise they’re a bit flabby.

Have fun experimenting with all the infinite combinations and let me know if you try anything new!

x Charlotte

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Earth Bunny experiment – does Acupuncture improve your health?

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I’m a Fox Mulder “I want to believe’  when it comes to alternative therapies, I’m skeptical but I like to approach everything with an open mind. Health is high on the agenda in our house at the moment, it has been for some time but now, more so than ever! I suffer from PCOS so I’ve spent most of my life battling to alleviate my symptoms and balance my hormones in order to have a body that functions within normal parameters (as Spock might say).

I recently gave up grains (which has helped no end), removed chemicals from my beauty regime (no shampoo!) and cleaning regime (dirty house!). I’ve spent 2 weeks without booze and caffeine (though I’ve never been a big drinker of either) and have cut down my sugar and sweetener intake and processed food. The next step seemed to be something more drastic and my extensive research showed that Acupuncture shows a lot of positive results in regulating hormones and female fertility.

So naturally I asked for a few recommendations which led me to Acupuncture in Nottingham (aka Lindsay Lukehurst)! Lindsay has 25 years experience and practices her own tried and tested mixture of Traditional Chinese Acupuncture (TCM) and the even more ancient Five Element method of Acupuncture, so I had complete faith in her!

Last night was my first session, a 2 hour incredibly thorough consultation which my husband attended with me.  Lindsay was wonderful and put us at ease throughout the health questions (none of which my GP or doctors have ever asked!) and some more holistic questions. Within an hour she had 2 pages of handwritten notes which she then used to devise my first treatment.

Up on the trolley bed I went, skirt hitched up as needles in my legs and feet were a key part of the treatment. She took my pulse from various parts of my wrist and then we were ready for needles! I wasn’t sure what to expect but Lindsay warned me before she put each needle in so I was prepared. It was a bit ouchy,  it felt a lot more like a needle being jabbed into me than I expected it would (daft right?)
But once they were in, the sensation changed!

Each needle was placed on a pressure point, three in each foot, one in each knee and one over each ovary. Once they were in place I began to feel a warm sensation beneath each one, which became – what I can only describe as a small ball of tingling energy, I didn’t expect to feel anything quite so dramatic!

The needles were left in place for around 20 minutes, during which time we chatted (no cringey whale music thankfully!). In the last few minutes my legs suddenly felt like lead, but this subsided once the needles were removed and I could barely feel them being taken out.  Acupuncture requires a course of regular treatment to be effective, so we booked another session in a weeks time and I left feeling warm, positive and uplifted.

We arrived home and I felt fine but different in a way I couldn’t pin point. I had a bite to eat (I have to keep my blood sugar steady) and about an hour and a half later went to bed. That’s when it hit me, the strangest feeling, dizziness like the room spinning fast, but no nausea, like energy rushing around my body.  It subsided with a bit of yogic breathing. I have since read that this is quite common and possibly a good sign!

Today I’ve been hyper aware of the points where she placed the needles on my abdomen, like a dull ache, certainly not pain from the needle pricks, a deeper feeling, but my legs and feet feel normal. I don’t know what to make of any of this so time will tell! It was a fascinating experience and I look forward to seeing what effect is has over the next few months!

x Charlotte

If you’re interested in Acupuncture for pain relief, fertility or other problems check out Linsday’s website

I’d also like to add a little disclaimer that the sketch is for illustration purposes only, I was in no way a human porcupine in a bikini! ;)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inspired by the words – evocative song lyrics

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The moon over Arches National Park – the kind of landscape that might inspire you to dance barefoot…

Inspiration strikes at the strangest times, a song you’ve heard a thousand times can suddenly take on new meaning and form new imagery in your head which just cries out to become a painting!

I always find music a great place for inspiration, I’m always inspired by characters and there are so many fantastic characters that are painted with music and words.  There are the more obvious ones like the femme fatales of songs like Dollys Parton’s ‘Jolene’ or Elivis’ ‘Marie’ in His Latest Flame, but there are more fleeting ones too.

My latest inspiration came from one of my favourite Creedence Clearwater Revival songs ‘Green River’, a song we turned up very loud during our US road trip in 2012 whilst driving along the river itself (it is pretty green by the way!) Listening to it transports me back to that day, which is rather lovely on a miserable, grey drizzly Nottingham commute.

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The wide open road in the USA, this is what I dream of on a grey day driving to work in the East Midlands!

The inspiration struck from a single line in the song, one that hadn’t really registered in my mind before:-

“barefoot girl, dancing in the moonlight”

What a wonderfully evocative image! Sketchbook and pencils at the ready!

A peek inside my Sketchbook

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There’s nothing I love more than having a nosey into another persons sketchbook. I love seeing how they put things together on a page, the materials they use, the construction lines and the techniques they use in their rawest form!

So here’s a few pages from mine…although strictly speaking not any single sketchbook as my ‘sketchbook’ is a thousand pieces of loose paper, and a dozens of different sketchbooks scattered around the studio.

Most of these didn’t amount to much, but you might notice an early concept for my ‘Nouveau Love’ digikit for CraftArtist (One of the kits I showed off on Create&Craft shopping channel!) There are also some very early concepts for my Christmas card designs and a bit of Neil Gaiman fan art thrown in for good measure! Anything to keep the creative juices flowing!

I mostly sketch in pencils (2h, 2b and 6b) and marker pens (Sharpies mainly but anything lying about) but some of these have watercolors added aswell.

Charlotte x