I’ve been asked by my good friend and supporter in all things arty, Niki Cotton, to take part in a great artsy blog hop which has been weaving its colourful web around the internet for a little while now. The great thing about Blog Hops (Blogs hop?) like this is that they extend our sphere of vision beyond our usual sources of interest and inspiration, and expose us to new and exciting realms of creativity. This can inform our work and connect us to new members of a diverse and supportive tribe that all us solitary artists need from time to time, truth be told!
So I’ll be answering a few questions and sharing a little about my work and inspirations, then I shall pass the baton to three artists to do the same.
How does my creative process work?
My first thought was that, very often, it doesn’t! I regularly show all the classic signs of distraction, fear, blockage, resistance. But the more I create, the more I am working out what works to overcome the resistance. In a nutshell, I need to show up and do the work. Physically, emotionally, with open heart and mind, and let it flow. I am learning to be more intuitive and less head- driven. I try not to compare and emulate the work of the hundreds of thousands of amazing artists ‘out there’. I try and remember that process is as important as outcome. It’s the doing that matters. It’s the not doing, that hurts.
If I’m starting a new project I will look around my art room, at the vintage books, papers, maps. I might flick through my written journals and commonplace books. I’ll pull novels from my shelves. Words VERY often kickstart the creative process for me. Quotes, notes, poems, snippets and songs will trigger an emotional reaction within me. Connections are made. This phrase reminds me of something that happened today. That quote fires an emotion that I want to explore. The emotion charges my palette with colour and my canvas with energy. I never know where it’s going to end up. It’s chaos, frankly.
I take inspiration from everywhere. Life is a pinboard, a cork board, chalk board, a mood board for the pinning of experience and inspiration and hope and memory and trial and error.
In this piece, a quote dug in and wouldn’t go away so a journal spread was born.
Occasionally- and usually on larger pieces, I will sketch some abstract shapes which may form the kernel of a painting. Or not. But sketchbooks are fun in their own right anyway. My technique involves lots and lots of layers, usually paint, always some writing, maybe some collage, maybe oil pastels or watercolour crayons. I’m beginning to experiment with water soluble 9B graphite, yum. And black gesso is always a favourite.
In conclusion, I don’t think I yet have a definable style. Could you look at my work and say ‘ah yes, that’s a Maz Hawes’? Would I want you to? But I’m definitely honing in on some favourite techniques and materials which I enjoy using and seems to be a little more distinctive.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I’m not sure what my genre is- I’m probably more of an art journaler than anything else, but also a photographer, a painter, gardener… and sometimes it’s hard to place a feather between them. I believe that we are a sum of all our experiences and our art reflects everything we have seen through our eyes over the ages. I was exclusively a pro photographer for 5 years and a Garden Designer for 4 before that. In between I was full time teacher and mum to Oliver (here’s the story of that life chapter, which taught me more than any university degree or workshop!) So all these things define what I do now. I don’t regret any path taken, though occasionally those not taken. I weave my tapestry from the yarns that life has given me, and it won’t look like anyone else’s. Sure, I have my mentors and inspirors (take a look at my Pinterest boards!) but I might be equally inspired by a textile artist, a photographer, a writer, a gardener; elements from each of their own genres might end up in my work.
What am I working on now?
Since I stopped taking new clients in my photography business earlier this year I’ve been hankering to write a book. It won’t happen for a while, I have groundwork to do (does that sound like resistance?!) But I want desperately to fill the space on my bookshelves between the Positive Psychology and self help manuals and the art and spiritual books. I want to write about how we can enhance our wellbeing with creativity. It’s well documented that happy people are more creative (usually the research is done in a business environment- how to find creative solutions to business problems) but I KNOW too that people who are more actively creative are more happy. And given that we are all creative, we can all be happier, if we just learn how to step away from the resistance and tap into that creativity. I want to write a step by step, how-to of Creativity, backed by the science of why it works. So, that’s the long term answer! Medium term, I have a couple of online workshops in the pipeline, on iPhone photography and art journaling, and I want to start producing prints for sale. I’m also looking into holding regular Creative Circle Saturdays in the local area for people who want to try new ways of being creative. Short term, what’s on my desk? I am trying hard to create a daily art journal habit- it’s tough, but fun- plus some altered book journals and workshop projects to finish off. I am never short of ideas, or projects on the go, and on paper I’m not even really short of time, but somehow, the days go by!
Why Do You Do What You Do?
The clue to this lies in the answer above. When I was pregnant, 20 and 17 years ago, I was severely clinically depressed, bad enough for me to be on meds and in hospital for some of the time. It was a dark time, and the shadow of that depression reached out to me long after my children were safely born. I have had to, and enjoyed working hard at wellness of body, mind and soul and creativity is a huge part of that. That’s where my interest in Positive Psychology came from, and as a result I’ve spent several years exploring and experimenting and niggling at the threads which bind positivity and wellness and creativity. So I do what I do partly to keep myself sane, and increasingly, to share that message with others. And I intend never to stop!
And I nominate…
I ‘met’ Margie Woods of the Language of the Soul Studio not all that long ago, on a Facebook Group that we are both active members of called A Stand for Art Journaling. It was clear very soon that we had a great deal in common despite living a continent and an ocean apart. Margie’s work is bold, honest, and tactile and I LOVE it! She will be blogging in response to this in a week’s time. Please do check her out
And then, Amanda Grace, of Creating Daisy Jane . A breath of fresh air in blogdom. She tells it like it is, with a foundation of compassion and humour. Love, love, love this girl! In her own words… “I’m Writing away, regardless of (as we say on FaceBook) ‘likes’, just doing and seeking my thing, writing from the heart, the soul and sometimes, the head.” Please go and say hello to Amanda.
And finally “To be confirmed”… well, you wouldn’t want me to give you all the goodness all at once, right?
Thanks for reading, I do so appreciate it.