Find Your Joy

To give you a little background – I only started painting in 2014 after I closed my business and retired. I ran a successful greetings card publishing business for over 23 years designing, selling and publishing greeting cards in many different languages all over the world. During my career I met artists, illustrators, graphic designers and photographers and this fuelled my interest in art.

I was brought up in an academic household where art was frowned upon and considered the easy option! I now know differently! Any early aspirations I had regarding art were soon drummed out of me.

So, in 2014 I started on my journey into art initially joining a local art club headed up by one of our members, Terence Rogers. I am still very much at the early stages, but I am very keen to develop and improve and have joined many on-line courses – some good, some bad. I haven’t yet found my ‘Artistic Voice’ but I am still looking!

The following is one of the very good and free on-line courses available which I would thoroughly recommend if it becomes available again.

‘FIND YOUR JOY’ Free On-Line Course by Louise Fletcher – June 2020

Lesley’s article ‘Creative Lockdown’ in the August edition of Update gave you an insight on how this course helped her break her creative block.

I signed up for a free newsletter from Louise Fletcher some time ago and every Sunday one pops into my inbox. I found many of her topics resonated with me so when she advertised that she was running this free on-line course I was probably one of the first to sign up.

Louise is a professional abstract artist who is inspired by the beauty of where she lives in the Yorkshire Dales. She is a straight-talking Yorkshire lady who I have found both inspirational and motivating.

This course ran for 8 days but it was very manageable and everything was recorded so you could catch up later if you got behind. Each day probably only comprised one hour of video/exercises and in addition, if you wish, you could spend more time on extra assignments.

Louise asks you some soul-searching questions e.g. What brings you true joy:

In life?
In other people’s art? (What art moves you/touches your soul? Why does it move you?)
In the feelings you get when you are working?

She also advises you to:-

set aside part of every painting session for experimentation and to get really comfortable with failure.

look at past work – good and bad, liked and disliked and to make notes/paste images into a scrap book.

She tells you to ‘Follow the Joy’ and ask what makes you happiest when painting, for example: –

certain colours, certain subjects, realistic details with a tiny brush, bold, big strokes with lots of sloppy paint, straight lines and geometric shapes, organic forms, country scenes, urban nightscapes, seascapes, florals, animals.
Also pay attention to whatever gives you joy AND DO MORE OF IT!
All of the videos and the exercises aim to make you feel more relaxed and happy with failure (it’s all part of the learning process) – in fact one of the exercises, is to make a really ugly painting which is actually great fun!
She also asks you to consider setting limitations for yourself (as too many choices can cause us to freeze) e.g. a limited palette- 3 colours plus black and white; to paint with a limited number of marks or a limited number of tools; to narrow down the idea behind paintings to something very specific.

I think we all have creative blocks and her answer is to show up every day and do something – maybe try mixing different colours and noting how you achieved them, or tidying your studio/workspace but most of all experimenting and practising. One of the analogies I have heard is that you don’t expect to become a concert pianist without practising your scales every day and the same applies to art if you wish to improve – keep practising!
The aim of ‘Find your Joy’ is to give you a glimpse of what is possible, to be relaxed and easy if paintings go wrong and to understand that this is all part of the learning process. To trust your instincts and stop comparing yourself to others. To be curious ‘I wonder what would happen if…’
Louise tells you that the things holding you back are in your own head and that putting soul and personality into your work is vital.
I really enjoyed this course and if Louise runs it again would wholeheartedly recommend it. She runs this free course as a precursor to a much more comprehensive and fee paying 10-week course but don’t be put off as there is no obligation for you to join the latter.

Esther Marshall