Inspired Art and Living with Fiona Stolze

What do You do While You’re Waiting?

We’re in a bit of a strange position in our present house. You see it doesn’t belong to us, we only have a rental contract and the landlord is wanting to sell, which means that there are regular viewings by potential buyers.

Now this means that we’re in a bit of a no-man’s land as we have no idea how long it will take for a sale to happen and we are keeping an eye out for a new home. Some of you will remember the article I posted a few months back regarding me putting my foot down during one rather intrusive viewing and since then there hasn’t been any real momentum – Bringing thoughts, words and actions into alignment.

But now I’m beginning to feel very strongly how detached we have become from this house. Since we don’t know how much longer we’ll be here, there is no incentive at all to do anything in or to the house, particularly since it doesn’t belong to us. And if I’m really honest, it’s beginning to affect me quite a bit, since I do like to put my roots down and feel at home where I am. A lovely interior decorator friend of mine, Jen Duchene the Makeover Mixtress, has been asking all sorts of stimulating questions about what we all do to make our homes beautiful places to live in, and this stirs up such a yearning in me to have a place I can really call my own again.

This means we are in a permanent state of waiting.  And waiting in itself isn’t terribly productive. So what could we do instead? Well, I like to talk about taking the waiting out of waiting. This means coming back into the present moment and accepting what is. Finding gratitude for our present situation and making the most of it.

I’m a Cancerian which means that I love to have a cosy, secure haven to retreat to and right now I don’t have that, particularly since there is also a huge noisy building site right across the road from us which makes it a bit hard for me to switch off and find time for solitude. So instead of allowing my thoughts to constantly wander away into some fictional future where we find an ideal home to move to, it would be much more beneficial for me to bring my awareness back to where I am right now.

This is our home. It gives us a roof over our heads. It keeps us warm and dry. And for that I am very thankful. There are also benefits to the noise from the builders opposite. It means that we get up and get busy doing other things in other parts of the house. Since our front room and bedroom are on full display, it means that we make that extra effort to keep them neat and tidy. And the noisiness also means that our minds are much more open to lots of other possibilities of places to move to, whereas before we had fixed ideas of where a new house might be.

For years I have dreamt of living in a beautifully warm and relaxing place and the intrusive noise has now helped to bring my focus back a bit to the vision I have held. Who knows, it may even be instrumental in helping me to take that leap of faith when an opportunity arises.

So what concrete steps can I take to reduce the waiting? Putting nice fresh flowers in vases on the table, clearing out clutter (which we wouldn’t want to pack up and take with us anyway), drawing lovely mindmaps to free up my creativity and just taking each day as it comes.

And who knows when our ideal house will manifest? I will certainly keep you posted.

How do you manage to take the waiting out of waiting? Are there any particular things that you do to keep you in a productive frame of mind while waiting for changes to take place? I’d love to hear your comments.

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March 2, 2011 Posted by | INSPIRATIONS | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Giving up the Struggle and Connecting with Source

I’ve been inspired to write this post by my experiences of having the flu for the past two weeks. It was the first time ever and I must admit, I got quite a shock at the severity of it because I always thought it was just a bad cold. Not so.

I think the most difficult part to deal with was the coming and going of the flu symptoms and each time I thought things were beginning to improve, the next day I was flat on my back again. The whole thing was just so unpredictable and it was a big lesson in letting go and just going with what is.

Looking back on it I was really grateful for the oppportunity to spend so much time in bed and allow my thoughts to slow down and partially stop.  Because that’s a really big one for a lot of us, isn’t it? Slowing down all the chatter that’s going on in there 24/7 and finding that still space that’s underneath it all.

We’re all so busy working out thousands of things in our heads, reliving past experiences and worrying about future events that may well not happen,  that we lose sight of our real presence in the now. It’s when we slow down and make that connection in the present moment that we tune into something so much greater than ourselves. Call it what you will, your Higher Self, God, the Source of all creation. It doesn’t matter what name you give it. The important thing is that you breathe out and feel that connection. A beautiful feeling of peace and stillness.

The more time you can spend in this space during the day, the more likely you are to create space in both your mind and your life. Space for new ideas, new things, new people. And you can be sure that these inspirations you receive are coming from an inspired place.

A great starting place is to simply find somewhere quiet where you can sit or lie undisturbed. Gently cup your hands in your lap or if you are lying, fold your hands over your heart. Close your eyes and bring your awareness to your breath. Feel your breath entering and leaving your body. Allow this all to happen without trying to change it in any way. Simply be in acceptance. And enjoy the relaxation that builds with every breath.

This anchors you in the present moment. And in this state you give up all struggle and let go of distractions and worries.

This is your natural state of being. And it is an extremely powerful place to be in because nothing of your outside world can touch you in any way.

So the next time you find yourself struggling with what is happening, take a moment to bring your awareness back to the present moment. Make that inner connection and release the distractions that are creating the illusion of difficulty and struggle.

When you do this simple practice regularly, you will be amazed at how your connection with Source grows. It will enable you to slowly gain control over the runaway nature of your mind and help put you back in control. And remember that any illnesses are a golden opportunity to do this. Embrace the time you can be still and enjoy the benefits it brings you.

Have you had any illnesses where you were able to tune in and gain clarity on what was going on in your life? How do you experience the time-outs in your life? I’d love you to share your stories here.

 

February 25, 2011 Posted by | INSPIRATIONS | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Take Action and Make it Happen

Everything begins life as a thought. All those amazing ideas we give birth to that float around in the ether are just waiting there, in seed form, not knowing whether or not we’re going to take them all the way. And indeed, many of them will remain there. In fact, the vast majority of them do.

A single snowdrop

How many times have you been completely relaxed in a total right-brain, creative space and suddenly you’ve had the most amazing idea? One that gets you so excited, you just can’t wait to share it with someone else or at least write it down on paper so that you don’t forget it. Everything else gets forgotten and this one idea just seems to consume you, pushing everything else to one side.

And then you get on with life, you sleep on it and in the morning, you get on with all the other pressing things that are in your life and need to be seen to first. What appeared to be so world-shattering the day before is now sitting there with a completely mundane air about it. So what happened?

Well first of all, let’s just get really clear on one thing. You are not alone. This happens to the majority of us.

A lack of follow-through on even the most world-shattering idea means that it’s not worth the paper it’s written on. Ideas alone are simply fairy-tale castles, without substance.

It’s when you take action and make it happen that the magic begins.

So what do I mean by taking action?

This is not about putting a huge plan into place and working through it in a fixed space of time. It’s much simpler and much more powerful than that. It’s about making a firm commitment to taking the very first step.  And this needn’t be huge. The importance in taking the first step, no matter how small, is that you are signalling to the universe that you truly want this to happen and that you are willing to do what it takes.

So how does this look in practical terms? Break it down into bite-sized chunks and do the smallest possible piece that you are willing

The Dream Grows

to and capable of doing right away. If you’ve had a fabulous idea for a book, then write this down on a piece of paper and commit to spending 5 mins minimum that very day on expanding the idea further.

Some of you may smile at this as it may seem over simple. However, if you can break things down into steps that are very doable for you, then there is absolutely no chance that you will sabotage yourself. If I don’t want to do the ironing, but say I am committed to doing a minimum of 5 mins, I laugh with delight when I manage half an hour and pat myself on the back.

Set your 5 mins, achieve this and much more if you want. If not, that’s okay too. Then reward yourself for doing it. For doing it straight away and getting the momentum going. Because that’s what’s going to breathe life into your dream. And that is true inspiration.

Don’t let another day slip away without doing anything, because that’s when the life force drains out of your dreams. And then, even the best idea in the world, slips away and is worth nothing.

What first, tiny step could you take today to get the momentum going on a great new idea you’ve had? Please share your ideas here. I’d love to hear what you are planning.

February 21, 2011 Posted by | INSPIRATIONS | , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Let’s Be Friends but if You Come With the Hard Sell, I’m Off!

I’m sure you’ve all experienced it in social media at some point or other. Someone connects with you, wanting to be friends and before they’ve even taken the time to get to know you properly, they’re in your face trying to sell you something or force the  latest affiliate scheme on you.

My immediate reaction is to put that person on the back burner. I feel as if my space has been violated in some way and certainly don’t feel particularly endeared to them.

inspired art and livingI wonder what it is that gives these people the idea that it’s okay to start spamming you with offers on their products just after they’ve got to know you? It’s the unwritten law on social media sites that you just don’t do this.

Basically it’s a complete lack of awareness. I get this all the time from people I know on all the major SoMe sites and just because many do, it doesn’t mean it’s okay. There seems to be a great deal of confusion around who is friend and who is potential client. To be honest, when I click on the  ‘accept friendship’ button, I don’t remember signing the agreement that you can step into my space  to sell me your stuff.

I think it really boils down to getting an understanding of what social media really is about. If you are interacting  this way on the Facebook, you will be engaging with others first and foremost as a friend. On Twitter you want to hear what others have to say and are building your network (as well as making good friends). You’ll reply to those you’re interested in and build up a relationship. And then, the more you bond with others, they are much more likely to share what you post. This is how your network grows, a support network of people who will recommend what you do.

So just stop and take a moment to reflect on what it’s like for the other person if you immediately overstep that boundary and try to treat this new made friend as a customer.

If you did that to me, I’d find you unattractive, pushy and unfeeling. I would probably stop interacting with you so much and I would have to tell you at some point that I found it unacceptable.  As I write this I am fully aware that there are probably many people who think exactly the same way about me and so it’s always a nice reminder for me to bring awareness to where  I might be exhibiting this behaviour in some form too.

And it gets even more puzzling. There are those people who even ask me to buy reduced goods from them that are similar if not identical  to the products that I create myself.  Really? They obviously don’t know it comes across as needy and desperate and I’m sure that’s not what they are intending.

If this is a practice you use a lot, why not take a moment to think about how others may receive it. Is that really the image you want to project on others? Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and ask yourself how you’d feel if they did that to you.

So if you’d like to connect with me, please remember, I’m glad to be friends with you and be part of your network, but if you try the hard sell stuff with me, I’m off.

Have you had any experiences of so-called friends trying to get you to buy their products and how have you felt? What did you do to deal with it? I’d love to hear your experiences here.

February 17, 2011 Posted by | INSPIRATIONS | 18 Comments

Competitors? What Competitors? It’s All a Question of Resonance.

I was inspired to write this blog post by the silk painting community that I interact actively with online. It was founded by the lovely Francine Dufour Jones and is a wonderful place for silk painters to connect, share and ask questions. And it has struck me how so many people have been worried about how to market themselves in the face of so much competition.

Well, it’s my honest opinion that we are all so totally unique as artists and that we are not in competition with each other. Your state of being will determine what energy you radiate as you interact with others and the best way to see what that is, is to look at the people and situations that are prevalent in your life right now.

If you are letting your shoulders hang and using negative self-talk then that is what you are sending out and that is exactly what you are receiving back from the universe.

It’s always a question of resonance. There’s always a marriage of energies.

And this is very significant for artists. Because the clients that get attracted to you want to buy your artwork as it represents the energy you express. They have a piece of you in their home, whether or not they are consciously aware of it.

There are some who might argue that you do some competitor research, which of course you can do. When I did a business course a few years back when I lived in Malahide, County Dublin, part of the requirements were that we submitted a completed business plan. And of course, this involved doing competitor research.  So I set off joyfully researching potential products that were similar to my silk mandala cushions. The bottom line of it was that I didn’t find anything remotely like mine, most companies were just mass-producing in China and the prices were throwaways.

It left me seeing that artwork is simply in a class of its own and you can’t really put a price on it. The value of a piece is something that is decided between the artist and the buyer and cannot be nailed down to specifics. What it means is that if a client or artcollector decided they loved your artwork, the energy it emitted and the energy you emitted as an artist (which are normally the same) and  knew without a doubt that it would hang beautifully in their home, the price is not of the essence.

So start looking at your artwork with fresh eyes. See it as an extension of you. Learn to value it and cherish it. See it through the eyes of potential customers and treat it as though it were highly valuable. Because you certainly are. Your artwork reflects this. And when you do that your artwork will start to send out new messages.

Whether or not you are an artist, I’d love to hear from you about your personal experiences. Have you found this to be true for yourself? Please leave any comments below. Thanks.

February 13, 2011 Posted by | INSPIRATIONS | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 51 Comments

Featured Facebook Fan on Friday with LouLovesLearning

What a lovely surprise. At the end of last week my very lovely friend Louise Edington contacted me and told me that I was her Facebook Fan of the Week and that she would like to do an interview feature with me.

Louise Edington of LouLovesLearning

Well, I couldn’t say no, could I? In fact, I was totally delighted. I took a bit of time out to sit down and pen my responses to her questions and send them back over to her. It’s always an interesting process to create a story about yourself for others to read, for the most part total strangers. But it’s lovely because it leads to all sorts of unexpected connections.

You can have a read at the interview on LouLovesLearning right here. And when you’ve finished reading it, you might like to browse a bit on her website as she does interviews like this every week with all sorts of fascinating people. But you’ll also  find all sorts of other inspirational articles and vlogs documenting Louise’s journey of exploration.

Louise is currently the blogging coach on the SNCC with Ann Evanston (Warrior-Preneur) and is the lovely woman who guides you through the sections on getting to grips with the ins and outs of creating blog posts that are going to really grab your audience. She also works as a childcare coordinator for the International Aupair Finder.

But Louise is truly in her element blogging about life’s challenges and all the amazing things she is learning on the way. She has come on quite a journey, working her way into the world of social media and finding her niche online. I also happen to know she is an avid reader and has piles of books at her bedside just waiting to be delved into. A very like-minded soul!

So I hope you will go over and make friends with Louise and find out more about what she does. I think you’ll have fun.

As always I’d love to have feedback from you. Please leave any comments you have here or why not leave a comment on Louise’s page. I know she’d be happy to hear from you.

February 7, 2011 Posted by | INSPIRATIONS | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My 30 Day Video Challenge: a great way to build self confidence

Some of you will know that I am currently working my way through a challenging social media bootcamp with Ann Evanston learning skills that are already bringing many benefits to my business online as well as lots of other things which I will be telling you all about very soon. It’s fun and hard work at the same time.

Now I’ve just been doing the video section and saw that my lovely new online friend Sharon Hiebing had done a 30 day video challenge and had been looking at getting over all sorts of issues in the process. That really inspired me and so I decided to have a go myself as it would be great to break down my personal barriers and dissolve my limiting beliefs surrounding this. I see this challenge as a great tool for self empowerment as it can really help you to get out there and be authentic.

Well, as luck would have it, yesterday was the New Moon, the perfect time for starting up new ventures, so I decided to literally grab the bull by the horns and get started. I’m a triple Cancerian born on the New Moon so really love to tap into this energy.

I won’t be editing these videos. They’ll just go up as they come. And I will have the opportunity to look less than fabulous, feel tired, have a messy room and just get over it all. When I filmed this first part I already had to ‘get over’ myself because I had wanted to do it outside in the sun but by the time I was ready, it had become cloudy with a vengeance and a strong wind was blowing. So inside it had to be. I’m looking forward to experiencing being in the flow and going with what is and generally just enjoying being in front of the camera as a new way of communicating with you all.

I won’t be publishing all of these on my blog as there will be 30 0f them, but you will be able to see them all on my YouTube channel, so I’d love you to come on over and subscribe so you can keep up with what I’m doing and have a dialogue with me.

Thanks for joining me on my journey as I take the challenge. I look forward to hearing from you. And if you decide to build your self confidence in front of the camera, I’d love you to share here too.

February 4, 2011 Posted by | INSPIRATIONS | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Inspired Art and Living

Many of you will know that this blog started out being completely dedicated to silk painting. I shared all sorts of silk painting techniques, did problem solving (trouble-shooting) and explained my process in the painting projects I tried out. You asked questions and I did my best to answer them based on my own experiences and things that others had passed onto me.

The good news is that I will continue to be publishing all sorts of posts around the topic of silk painting but at the same time I’ll be exploring many new avenues. I have a background in teaching and have been involved in coaching and self-development work too. So I will now be combining all of my skills and offering services that take everything into account.

The first change was to a new name. And so, for those of you  who are here on this page for the first time, welcome to ‘Inspired Art and Living with Fiona Stolze.’

I’ve been actively involved in an intensive online course called SNCC which has taught me so much about social media and enabled me to bring focus into what I do and be more effective online. It’s an ongoing process and you’ll be seeing the latest results of this when I launch my new blog very soon. I’ll be moving away from this platform to WordPress.org which will give me many more possibilities including using my own domain name. But don’t worry, I’ll be making this transition as smooth as possible so no-one gets lost on the way.

I’m really looking forward to sharing this with all of you and hope that you will continue to follow me on my journey as a silk artist, teacher and coach. Thank you.

Do you  have two seemingly different areas in your life that you’d love to bring together so that you can work with both of them? I’d love you to share your thoughts here.

February 2, 2011 Posted by | INSPIRATIONS | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Gain Visibility as a Silk Artist Online

Many of you reading this are silk artists or at least have some interest in silk painting generally. And I know from talking to many of you how hard you find it to get your work seen in the huge sea of work that is available these days. It’s true that we can’t just sit back and expect people to magically find our work so it’s up to us to make sure that find those people who resonate with what we do. And that’s why I  decided to write this article. It gives you some ideas of how to gain visibility as  silk artists online.

My suggestion to you is to open an account with one of the many online galleries and start to put your work on display there. Yes, there are very many of them, but you need to browse a bit and find one that is in keeping with what you are all about. I would also suggest that you pay attention to possible fees you will need to pay. Some of them charge you a fee just for being there on their site. Others only charge you when you make a listing. Others again, only charge when you make a sale. So do some homework and see whats fits for you.

It’s sometimes hard to judge what the service is going to be like before you take the plunge and join up, so why not send an email to the contact address on the site you like the look of. Clarify any questions you might have, regarding all fees, promotion, etc. And make sure you know what their policies are regarding the publication of your artwork. You’re the artist and you want to remain in control of your artwork.

There’s also Ebay to think about as it can be utilised as an online art gallery too. Go on the site and have a look at what other artists are offering and how they are displaying their work. It’s quite easy to set up an account and start selling there. They even have weekends where they don’t charge any listing fees so watch out for opportunities to save yourself some money.

If you are one of those silk artists who also paints silk scarves and accessories of different kinds,  you might be interested in looking into artist opportunities on Etsy , where you can set up a small shop with relative ease. The big tip here is to keep a steady trickle of new listings as the newest items on the site show up in the feed and are much more visible than those you posted a while back.

For those of you who feel confident enough, you could start up an artist blog and share your projects, experiments and processes with those who are interested. It takes a bit more know-how to do this on your own, so why not get started on this site, WordPress.com and make things easy for yourself as everything’s laid out for you at the click of a button.

There are very many artist opportunities available for silk artists and the important thing is taking that first step to move your artwork from confines of your attic to the screens of people looking for attractive artwork like yours! I will be expanding on this topic in due time.

What experience have you had?  Please share here if you’ve found any platforms on which to share your artwork, whether you are an emerging artist or someone who has been playing the field for a while. Or even if you are an art lover. I’d love to hear from you.

January 26, 2011 Posted by | INSPIRATIONS | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Buying Silk Painting Supplies at Low Cost

I recently posted an article about how to do silk painting on a shoe-string budget and not long after that a friend asked for some help on how cheap this whole thing can be.

Well, I had a look into this and came to the conclusion that you really can do it for very little money if you are prepared to just start with the absolute basics and not invest in lots of fancy equipment. Why spend a lot if you don’t really know if silk painting is going to be up your street. Wait until you are hooked (which will happen very quickly) and then think about spending on some of the more specialist products.

Okay, back to the silk painting supplies.

When you are starting out, I would recommend you buy the silk paints, not the dyes. The paints are fixed into the silk using your household iron whereas for the dyes you’ll need a steamer of some sort and it can be a bit trickier. There is one exception and that’s silkpainting with the microwave which I wrote about a few weeks ago.

Get yourself 3 small jars in red, blue and yellow so that you can mix whatever shades you need. If you’re in the USA the store to contact is Dharma Trading. And if you’re in Europe, try out Rainbow Silks. These will cost around $3.99 or £3.95 per jar.

The next item is a square blank silk scarf which you can tear up into 4 smaller pieces. If you buy a 90cm x 90cm one made of habotai or pongee 5mm, you might pay around $5.19 or £6.00, so each piece costs a quarter of that. This is the thinnest quality shops sell, but it’s perfect to get started with.You can get these at the stores I mentioned above.

Next you’ll need some pins or tacks which you’re bound to have lying around the house. And finally, instead of a frame, you can stretch the silk over the top of a cardboard box. There is a delightful little video by Yanghaiying which shows this silk painting technique.

Use any watercolour brushes you may have in the house and if you need to buy some, you can pick up a couple at very low cost from any hobby or craft store.  Old mugs or empty jam jars are perfect as mixing pots or water jars.

And finally you might want a tube of water-based resist to draw some lines with, but it’s not essential. This will cost around $2.89 or £3.75.

So adding all of that up we come to a figure of around $12.00 or £22.00. That’s enough for four  45cm x 45cm pictures, which makes each one cost $3 or £5.50. Oddly enough the US prices are much lower than the UK ones,

I hope this price list helps. It is just an approximation so you’ll need to check things out for yourself. And if you have, how did your calculations go? I’d love to hear if you managed to kit yourself out for this or less.

Oh, and don’t forget to let me now if you got hooked after the first go.

January 22, 2011 Posted by | INSPIRATIONS | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How to do Silk Painting on a Shoestring Budget

How many of you sigh when you hear the words “silk painting” and think that it’s something that you’re going to have to dig deep into your pocket for? Well, in a way you could be right but actually you might be quite relieved to hear that it’s possible to create some fabulous work without having to break the bank. This article is going to talk you through how to do silk painting on a shoe string budget.

And this is what you need to do:

Buy yourself a piece of silk yardage  that you can paint on. One quite good way to do this is to buy a large blank square scarf and divide it into four so that you can make 4 smaller pictures. You might be lucky enough to have a bridal outfitter’s near you that you can visit and barter with for lovely silk off-cuts.

You’re going to need some sort of frame to stretch the silk on. Special frames for silk painting can be costly, so what I would suggest is to go to your local DIY shop and buy 4 lengths of wood which you can nail together to form a square or rectangular in the desired size.  You don’t need to invest in those 3-pronged pins at the start. Drawing pins would make a great substitute. For more info have a look at a video I made on how to stretch silk on a wooden frame.

Pin your silk all the way around the frame, making sure that your fabric is quite taut as it will tend to sag as it gets wet during painting.

As a beginner opt for the small bottles of silk paint which you can heat fix with your iron afterwards. Any watercolour brushes are perfect for applying this so have a good dig through your art materials and see what’s already there.

Now depending on what you’d like to paint, you might want to buy a small bottle of gutta which creates the lines that give structure to a silk painting. When you’ve drawn the lines you want onto the plain silk, let them dry and then you can get out the paints and silks and have a ball. If you choose to just use the paints on their own, it’s important to know that they flow freely on the silk. A great effect for this is the salt technique. Sprinkle large grain salt onto the very wet paint and just watch the wonderful effects manifest before your eyes as the pigments get drawn out.

And for those of you who love to mess and splash, how about laying out some plastic sheeting, wetting the silk and then scrunching it all up before sprinkling different paints on it. When it’s dry, just iron on the reverse to fix the paints. The great thing is that you save on a frame. It’s really important to remember to buy the paints for now as you can fix them easily with your iron.

So please don’t think you have to go spending huge amounts of money to be able to indulge in silk painting. You don’t. But remember that after the first attempt you are most likely to get hooked…..so beware.

I’d love to hear back from any of you have tried this out for the first time. Did you manage to use things that were lying around? What creative ideas did you come up with?

* This article first appeared on the UKHandmade website as a winning article in a competition they ran. The above version has been adapted.

January 20, 2011 Posted by | INSPIRATIONS | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Help! How Can I Stop People Breaching my Artist Copyright (Part two)

Since I made my last post I’ve been having a good think about the various responses I received and have come to some conclusions. I spoke about some basic steps the layman can take  to protect his artist copyright and realised that I had already come on quite a long journey in this respect. And so I decided I would share those insights with you here.

When I first started silk painting I had no idea how to get it out there and get the price right, let alone how to deal with the issue of people trying to copy it without my permission. And it soon became obvious to me that the more I worried about these things, the more I was attracting them into my life. Many people honestly wouldn’t know what they were doing unless I educated them.

It wasn’t until I began working in article marketing a few years ago that I really became exposed to putting my work out there on the net and just letting it go. I remember the guy we all worked for telling us to run some tests by Googling the first one or two lines of our articles and seeing where they appeared. Well, I was stunned at how many people had actually lifted my work and published it on their site with so much as a simple acknowledgment that it was mine. One specialist even claimed it was his work. Many of these magpie sites just disappeared overnight but it exposed me to the scale of this whole business.

Okay, back to the artwork. I began to realise that there will always be people who give themselves permission to use my images in whatever form they choose without my permission. I have decided that it is impossible for me to be vigilant round the clock. I have also decided that as long as I don’t know about it, there is little point in me worrying about it and wasting my energy. Just as there is little point in me worrying about the possibility of it happening. I am not a huge shark in the artworld, rather still a very little fish. So, to be honest, people aren’t going to be queuing up to use it.

And if I become as famous as Leonardo da Vinci is now (one of my all-time favourites), then why would I worry about bandits trying to steal my artwork?I feel at ease about sharing and trust in the process and will cross these bridges if and when I come to them and not before.,

I’m in a good space as far as artist copyright is concerned. I take care to point out publicly that my work may not be reproduced and that I am likely to take steps if this is not adhered to. But in terms of where my life is leading me now, others will find it very hard to copy and steal me, my very own brand. That is definitely something I am not afraid of.

For those of you who would like to know more about using images on the internet, have a look at this great post put together by Kathy Alice Brown about public domain photographs.

And what about you? Do you agree with me or do think differently on this matter? I’d love to hear your comments.

January 17, 2011 Posted by | INSPIRATIONS | , , , , , | 32 Comments

Help! How Can I Stop People Breaching my Artist Copyright. (Part one)

It’s every artist’s nightmare, isn’t it? You take the brave step of publishing your work online and then discover down the line that someone has taken the liberty of lifting it and passing it off as their own. It can be very disheartening and put you off sharing any more of your work, but is it a reason to completely give up? Basically, no. And I’m going to discuss some simple layman procedures here with you which will help you to minimise the chances of someone breaching your artist copyright without you having to dig deep into your pockets in the process.

Firstly and most importantly keep in mind that you need to assert ownership of your artwork whenever you publish it anywhere. So when working online, be sure to make clear statements on your website or whatever page your work is appearing on that the artwork is yours. The more you do this, the better it will be if it comes to any dispute.

So in my case, I show my mandalas paintings and state that they are under my copyright and are not intended for public use in any way without my express permission. I also write that the images in question do not belong to the public domain. Whenever I sell prints or greeting cards of my artwork, there is a copyright symbol together with my name on the reverse, again showing my ownership and copyright to the work.

Copyright symbol on back of greeting card

Another good tip is to take a quality photograph of the completed artwork, ideally with you standing beside it and to sign and date it and send it to yourself in an envelope. You will then keep this envelope unopened in a safe place in case any dispute arises. Opening the envelope in the presence of a lawyer proves ownership of the artwork.

When you are uploading art files to a website, make sure that you only do this with low resolution images, no larger than 700 x 700 pixels because this will mean that anyone trying to reproduce them will only get grainy images which are substandard for any commercial use. You could also put a watermark on them as this will help to deter any illegal downloads.

This question was recently asked by Franziska San Pedro and Judy Stone-Goldman in a discussion we had on how to protect work when dealing with the public. So thanks a lot for your inspiration for this post.

Have you had any bother with people trying to copy your work in any way without your permission? If you have any hints or tips on this subject, I’d love you to share them here with us.

January 16, 2011 Posted by | INSPIRATIONS | , , , , | 6 Comments

My Unfinished Silk Mandala – Seeing it as a Reflection of Me

This afternoon I went up into my attic studio and decided that it really was time to completely declutter and tidy it all up. I recently pulled so many things out of boxes and shelves when I was picking some items to put in a friend’s shop in Glastonbury. And, as is my wont when I have just abandoned the space after an excavation, I left it looking as though a bomb had hit it.

This occasion was no exception whatsoever.  But it has never bothered me because I know that I will always go back in and enjoy putting things back in place, exploring nooks and crannies that I haven’t looked into for a while and getting inspiration from all the things I find there. Literally exploding with creative excitement.

And then I bring the space into a state of real tidiness and order ready for the next work session.

However, this time is a bit different in that it’s New Year and I would like to get to grips with all the piles of artistic chaos and bring some sort of new order into it all, symbolic of me changing direction somewhat and bringing in new forms of expression.  Luckily I was reminded by a lovely friend Franziska San Pedro to take photos before I got stuck in. Strangely that’s something I always do with great delight, but it’s more linked with the creative process, documenting my steps and not looking at how messy things have got. So the photo here is sort of taking a new direction in that it reveals my mess in its full glory.

Many of you who follow me both here and on the Silk & Art Facebook page will have seen the one I am talking about here. I started it a few months ago and then about half way through, I placed it to one side and left it sitting there.

I sat down and had a good look at it. It is the very first mandala painting I have done with a mantra on  it, something I had been wanting to do for such a long time. ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ runs around the outside in gold letters. This is an ancient Sanskrit mantra roughly translated as ‘the jewel in the lotus’. It is claimed that all the teachings of the Buddha are contained within this one mantra.

As I painted it, I listened to a beautiful rendering of this mantra on a CD I bought a few years back, which had been brought over from Nepal.

And so why did I not complete it? I think there are many reasons for that. Often when I am in the process of creating a painting, the events going on around me play an important part in its make-up. I see these artworks as a barometer of where I am in life at the time.

These paintings really take on a life of their own and this one was no exception. Firstly, they let me know how they want to be and the sooner I get out of my own way and allow this, the easier everything flows. Secondly, they know what energy they need and tell me when it’s time to get out the brushes and continue the work. They determine the pace. And thirdly, they know that it’s sometimes wise to wait in order to find their true expression.

I hadn’t felt drawn to do any more with it over the past months as I had entered a space where I was feeling the need to redefine myself in many ways. And yet today, when I took it out and saw the unfinished work, I realised that this blank canvas, so to speak, was showing me that I had work to do. I do indeed have work to do and am excited at what this year has in store for me.

So I feel resolute about clearing out what has become obsolete in my workshop space and feel brave enough to part with many things that have simply run their course. And this mandala will be an expression of the new space I am moving into energetically. I look forward to seeing it in all its bright colours and vibrancy. I know now that it will be bright. A reflection of the new me for this year.

And on that note I’d like to ask if there is anything you are looking forward to this year? I’d love to hear what lies ahead for you and if you have any unfinished business like me.

Happy creative 2011

January 3, 2011 Posted by | INSPIRATIONS | , , , , , , , | 38 Comments

Finding the Balance Retrospectively – Nothing was Missing in 2010

Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve and I’m taking the time to sit and reflect on how 2010 has been for me.  Many of my friends in the blogging world have published highlights of the past 12 months together with insights they gleaned and this has inspired me to take a look at what my year offered.

I was going to summarize what I perceived as my successful moments as well as those I reckoned really weren’t anything to write home about. But when I began to zoom in on how things were for me, I got the distinct feeling that it hadn’t been all that good at all and wondered if I really wanted to write about it all.

So my first thought was that I would just skip it, claiming that I ran out of time and then no-one would give it a second thought. I would get by unnoticed. What a cop-out.

I decided that I was important enough to be accountable to. So for that reason, being accountable to myself, I’m going to share with you some of the things  I came up with.

  • Firstly a bunch of unprofitable craft fairs that I took part in but ended up asking myself why I had gone there in the first place.
  • Then we had to navigate a spell of visits by potential buyers of the house we are living in at the moment as tenants
  • There was a police incident with one of my sons who was ‘jumped’ by a mob at school
  • Our top stairs capsized
  • And I continued to grapple with severe insomnia and other health issues

Okay, that’s enough to be getting on with. And this is the point where I take a deep breath and know with certainty that despite how all of this looks on the surface, every single thing that has happened, has had just as many benefits as drawbacks. Here are some examples – my craft fairs were  excellent opportunities to network and see who and what else is out there. The house viewings led to me speaking out in no uncertain terms instead of just swallowing and getting on with things. You can read about it here: ‘Bringing Thoughts, Words and Actions into Alignment.’

The beating up opened up new avenues for us getting help for our son and 2011 will mean more support for him in school. The capsizing stairs brought more awareness around the steps I was taking as well as ensuring that jobs were done adequately and safely. And the continuing health story has helped me to see where I need to let go and surrender and confront my inner demons.

And already I can fully see that I am on track and always have been. The same applies to everything else that happened this year and last year and every year before that.

The thoughts and longings for things I think I didn’t have or didn’t achieve now come to mind, too. But as I contemplate each of them, I can see that they did indeed manifest, just not in the form that I was expecting. But they were there. Whenever I think about me being less successful than I had hoped, I remind myself of comments I received on Facebook, my newsletter or in emails, phonecalls or face to face. All those wonderful people who sit and watch and enjoy quietly  in the background and then step forward to share their appreciation at the most unexpected moments. I have no way of truly knowing what appreciation there is for who I am or what I do. I have no way of really knowing how many people’s lives I have touched in a meaningful way. And the same is true for all of us.

The recognition that nothing is ever missing is what centres me and brings me back to the present. Just knowing that everything is in perfect balance at all times.  I think that this is agood  reason to celebrate 2010 as the best year yet, just like every one before it. And it is with this strength that I step into 2011. The only goal I need to set is to be myself.

On that note I’d like to wish us all a wonderful year ahead of being ourselves and having our best year yet.

December 30, 2010 Posted by | INSPIRATIONS | , , , , | 18 Comments

Reflections on the Art of Christmas

It’s been nearly a week since we all sat around the tree unwrapping presents and enjoying the festivities. And this year it was just that bit different because the family was smaller than usual. It was my first Christmas without one of my sons. So I’m writing this post to share with you some of my process as I came to terms with how that would be.

I think I was making it a bit difficult for myself because I  had expectations of how I thought it all should be. You know. Families all belong together at Christmas. It certainly never even entered my mind that one of my kids would want to go off and be somewhere else.

When he first told me, I took it with a pinch of salt and had this belief that he was going to change his mind. But as the day got closer, it became more and more obvious that he really meant it. He would be spending Christmas with his girlfriend. Oh my God. I immediately went into the victim role, feeling totally got at and abandoned because he was putting her before me.

The day came when he was ready to go off on his journeying and asked me to help him get his things together. We ended up stuffing things into a suitcase at 1 o’clock in the morning, freezing out in the hallway with arctic conditions in the house. I went to bed with a headache and got up really early to see him off. Not a joyful moment. The rest of the day I felt quite miserable and kept wondering what I had done wrong. I knew this would come at some point, just not as early as this.

But strangely it was my husband who came to the rescue. He caught me wallowing in self-pity and said quite simple: ‘You know, it’s only Christmas. Don’t get all hung up on it!’

I stopped in my tracks and gave it some proper thought. He was right. Although it was the Festival of Light, a time of connecting and a time of rekindling love in our lives, it was still only another day. Me having a good time would be a choice. Choosing to have a great Christmas, whether or not all my kids were with me, was all it would take. I could continue to love them all and feel loved whether or not they were there on that day. And the fact that one of my sons had chosen to spend a few days with his girlfriend didn’t mean that he loved me any less.

We all act true to our values no matter how we try otherwise. It’s a subconscious thing. We can’t stop ourselves. And just remembering that my son was doing the same as I was doing, helped to put it all into perspective. We are all in the right place at the right time no matter how it may seem on the surface.

And so Christmas day came and went. I had a lovely time. And the days passed quickly, my son returned and it was lovely to have him back.  No more. No less. No big deal.

One more lesson learnt in the art of mastering the chicks leaving the nest.

December 29, 2010 Posted by | INSPIRATIONS | , , , , | 18 Comments

Making a Silk Dress with my Very Own Handpainted Fabric – Part 1

Remember I painted 2 lengths of silk recently? One of them was in satin silk and was a bright array of vivid pink, fuchsia and orange.

The other was a pastel affair in soft shades of orange. Well, at last I’ve got round to planning the next step which is to make a lovely silk dress for myself.

You can see the fabric in this video and hear about what I’m planning to do with it.

But I really had to laugh while I was editing this footage. I’m going to have a competition to count how many times I say the word ‘gorgeous’  in this film! However, even though it was a little bit silly, I decided there was no way I was going to do the recording again as that would be even sillier.

Enjoy.

December 19, 2010 Posted by | INSPIRATIONS | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Busting the Myth Surrounding Silk Painting

I just wanted to say a few words to dispel the myth that silk painting is painstaking. It’s not. It’s fun, creative and you never know where it’s going to take you. Enjoy.

November 29, 2010 Posted by | INSPIRATIONS | , , , , , | 39 Comments

Bringing Thoughts, Words and Actions into Alignment

I remember reading many years ago that it is very empowering to bring your thoughts, words and actions into alignment. At the time I read it, it struck me as quite a difficult thing to do and I immediately began to ponder on how I fitted the bill.

I’ve always highly valued walking my talk and have never felt comfortable with advising someone else to do something I had never done or wouldn’t be prepared to do. And as you can imagine, it can be quite a high standard to live up to. There have been so many situations where I saw clearly that I wasn’t doing any ‘talk-walking’ at all and that I was holding unreasonable expectations of others.

Over the past couple of years this whole concept has been foremost in my awareness and I came to realise that this was not something that I needed to really consciously work hard at. I saw that had more to do with a shift in my awareness and a new way of being that came automatically.

I have sat and watched the whole process unfolding within me again and again. A situation would arise and I would begin to have a reaction of some sort and start an inner dialogue of what I was thinking and what I was going to do. I might share an idea or two relating to it with someone else.  And then….nothing. It would sort of fizzle out and that was it.

So where was this whole thing with word, thought and action being in alignment? I would start to see where what the other person was doing was really only a reflection of me. I would do the ‘metaphysical’ thing and take ownership. But often this just left me feeling frustrated and I knew that the issue had not been truly resolved.

It really was time to stir myself into action and get beyond just playing bits of film in my mind’s eye.

Well, the universe certainly served up an opportunity for me to put this to the test and created the ideal situation. It came in the form of a houseviewing yesterday. Bear in mind that we are tenants and will have notice served on us when an offer is made. The estate agent had also persuaded us to stretch out limit to beyond 5pm for viewings for this particular client. I was focussing on remaining centred throughout this process, but this is what happened in a nutshell. The three ‘visitors’ started talking very loudly,  turning up the volume in their discussion so we could hear every word they were saying. They began laughing raucously and joking around. They began banging on the walls, testing them for structure. They opened and closed cupboards.

I was getting really annoyed and envisaged myself confronting them. This escalated until half an hour had passed. I thought, ‘Just take a deep breath, they will be gone in a minute.’ But no, the estate agent came mincing back through the kitchen and said ‘You don’t mind if we go back in the garden, do you?’

The back of our house being guarded over by 2 little angels

Right, that was it. I turned around and said really crisply: ‘Would you mind bringing this viewing to a close. You’ve been here now for half hour and I think that’s enough!’ Well, by the looks on their faces, you’d think I’d just dropped a bomb-shell. They were almost more surprised than I was at actually doing this.

They left within a couple of minutes without saying goodbye and I was immediately galvanised into action. I picked up the phone asking to speak to the manager in the estate agent’s office, saying I had a complaint to make about the lack of professionalism during the viewing and leaving my mobile number for boss to phone back. I then contacted our letting agent, telling them what had happened and that I wanted to contact the landlord directly and tell him how unacceptable this whole experience was for us. They were very supportive and understanding and took the  matter in hand.

I then got a message the next morning on my landline from the office manager I had contacted, saying he had heard I wanted to make a complaint and could I call him back. His tone was very stand-offish, he sounded threatened and was clearly nervous. Not a hint of: ‘Madam, I’ve heard that you want to make a complaint. I’m really sorry that this has happened. It wasn’t our intention to do so. Let’s have a talk so that we can see what we can do for you.’ The buck has to stop with him. That’s his job. Professionalism? What’s that?

And what about me? Well, to tell you the truth, that’s about one of the most amazing ‘thought, word and action being in alignment’ experiences I have ever had.  And what impact did it have on me? I slept better in the night after it than I had for a very long time. I woke up with a spring in my step and a smile on my face. I really did pop a balloon. This has been incredibly empowering for me. I still keep thinking – wow, did I really say and do that?

We create our own reality and recently, many things had been pretty crap to say the least. I realised I had a choice. And what a choice. It was still my home and this was unacceptable in my 4 walls. I had been keen to keep on friendly terms with all involved, however, this was not obviously a win-win in our case.  So it was time to change the parmeters. Shift the goal-posts, so to speak.

Bringing my thoughts, words and actions into alignment lets me tap into my hidden strength where nothing is incongruent any more.

And what does it matter if some people don’t like me now. It is not my job to ensure that everyone likes me. It is hugely refreshing to see how people don’t like me when I speak up for myself. Everyone lets down their facade and it all gets real. No pretending any more. And sure, it can be hard.

But you know what? I like me more for this and that’s all that matters. Good job Fiona! 🙂

p.s. I just wanted to add the insights that I have received over the last few hours. I am in gratitude to these people for allowing me to experience this and galvanising me into this new ‘kick-ass’ energy. It’s sort of shocked me out a certain lethargy that I had settled into and it seems to be the new energy that will serve me well in exploring new areas in the months to come. So thank you Besley Hill.

September 25, 2010 Posted by | INSPIRATIONS | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

A Change of Perspective

I love it when I have an unexpected change of perspective. And to be honest, it’s happening more and more these days.

I love going onto the various forums and listening to what other people have to say, thinking at first that I have my onw preferred way of doing things. But then, oh so gradually, I notice that what the others are saying begins to take on an allure. And then, something from deep inside of me says, hey how about giving that a try?

Those of you who know me a bit better will also know that I do like to try out new things. And so, when someone comes along with something that rattles my cage, I just have to have a better look at it. In a way, it’s just so useless to talk about things theoretically. For me, it’s about walking your talk. Have a go and see how it works.

All of this can refer to any area of life, but in the context of this blog, we’re talking here about perceived fixed ways of doing things in the field of silk painting.

And I’m sure you’ll all agree that the field of silk painting is rampant with preconceived notions about how things should and shouldn’t be done. It’s actually quite funny. All the more so when someone makes a claim about something having to be done this or that way. Then the next person comes along and does exactly the opposite, finding it works a treat. It’s hilarious.

I’ve spent a great many years using gold resist and painting my mandalas on satin silk.  And you can imagine that I’ve become rather fixed in my ways (if you’ll pardon the pun!). Yes, of course, I’ve gained lots of experience and learned some great skills along the way. However, my way is not THE way and there are indeed many, many roads that lead to Rome.

So it was really great fun for me to recently take the plunge and leap head first into the world of painting on silk using soya wax as a resist. Talk about changing your perspective. What joy! There was me, pretending my preference was for slow, deliberate brush strokes and blending of colours. Imagine how thrilled I was to cast care to the wind and splurge my silk full of paint using a big brush all over the wax! Don’t get me wrong. I still adore the gold gutta on the mandalas, but this unexpected excursion into unfamiliar waters took me right back to my sandpit days. 🙂

So just take a moment to think how that can be applied to the rest of life. A complete turnaround in the way we normally do things to bring about a complete change of perspective. How refreshing and invigorating is that?

Well, now I’m setting intention to consciously bring about a change of perspective in my life wherever I can.   Life’s too short for fixed ways.

September 8, 2010 Posted by | INSPIRATIONS | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment