Stop looking so you can SEE

Stop looking so you can SEE what's around you. It sounds a bit silly really doesn't it?

It was a dark and stormy night... no, actually it was a light and sparkly wintry morning and I was having my coffee and reading Danny Gregory's, Everyday Matters.

One chapter stood out to me, he had written about really 'seeing'...

When you look at something you are filing it into a category, "I'm in the park", "Here's Soho", "Light's green." It's easy it's fast it's the way to cope with NY. But when you just let yourself SEE, it's like opening a window on the first day of spring. Things flow in, sharp, differentiated. Instead of whipping past, you study things you didn't really know existed."

Danny Gregory started drawing after his wife was involved in an accident, and with many hours in the hospital, sitting and waiting, started to draw.

"I spent most of my life not believing I had the right to consider myself an artist in any way.

But then I started drawing about fifteen years ago and it changed my life.

It led me to travel, to meet people, to get books published,

but most of all it transformed the way I see the world around me and how I experience every day."

Danny's art journal books (and videos - hope you enjoy these) are very inspiring, and I've revisited them many times. Over the years of studying, teaching and practicing mindfulness, I've found that it is fascinating, if you start to slow down... and take your time when looking, what you do see.

I'd never seen rainbow surf till a couple of years ago, but now if the light is right, just on dusk, when the sun is low in the sky, you will see rainbows on wave crests.

It still amazes me that it's taken me till my late 50's to see that, given that the beach is my happy place, my walking place and general go to place.

Split Rock at Crowdy Head National Park pictured above.

I've been hosting a creative cluster for Walking In This World the second book in The Artist's Way series, and part of our weekly exercises is to go for a walk for about 20 minutes. Not a hard task given all the natural beauty around this area.

I'd been wanting to head down to Diamond Head for a bush walk, and today seemed like a good day to do that.

So we packed up a picnic and headed off, and with Danny Gregory's words in my mind, I slowed down, and attempted to move past looking and into seeing.

The stones in this area are so interesting, there seems to be a range of basalt, granite and I don't know what else... of all sizes and shapes. They are ideal for stacking, and it was a delight to see all the stone stacks that people had left behind.

We both joined in and created one as well.

Dannys' words stayed with me this morning as I balanced on stones, steadying myself against the wind that was buffeting me, in order to take photos.

On the way back I kept looking up at this stone formation, and as I slowed down stopped and looked, my eyes focused in on a giant stone heart.

What a delight to discover, and a reminder what can happen when you stop and how much more you can see.

If you're ever in the vicinity, and like camping, there are spots for your van or tent, with lots of kangaroos and wallabies grazing, it would be a lovely place to spend a night or two. Maybe take the sketchbook and do some drawing, or just have some time out to do nothing (another task from Walking In This World).

We did the shorter of the walks, from Diamond Head Campground to Mermaid Lookout, as the afternoon was closing in and the temperatures dropping. Next visit we will allow more time, and do the longer walk that takes in Natural Arch.

Who knows we may even spot a mermaid on Mermaid Reef.

On Vulnerability and the Inner Artist. Honouring our Baby Steps as Creatives.

By Kareen Fellows

Inside many of us is a place where the inner artist has been left feeling vulnerable. That vulnerability may have happened when we received negative comments about our creativity, or where people laughed at our creativity, or even from where we felt left out. It may have been from where we felt compared to someone else, and not good enough.

One of my vulnerable places happened when I first started to paint years ago. I was in a back to work program and we were very fortunate, as we had a wonderful range of inspiring teachers who offered us courses in computing, art, and design just to name a few. Teachers who truly encouraged our creativity. Anyways... one teacher gave us silk paint, and silk material and we got to do anything we wanted.

At that time, what I wanted more than anything, was to own my own house. It looked as though I would never get one. I had heard of creating vision boards and symbols so I decided in this artwork that I would focus on home.

So I painted away merrily and was having a lovely time. UNTIL… a woman from the class walked around and looked at my art, and laughed at it and mocked me. I cringed inside, and the old critical voice took hold. I thought, ‘oh it is stupid’, ‘it is too childlike’, ‘why did I even bother’, ‘oh throw it away’, “I can’t do this” … etcetera and so on…

HOWEVER… something happened when I looked at my simple art… I looked at the colour first, and thought, ‘oh but I like the colour’… and then I remembered my focus in creating it, was the focus of owning my own home, and what that artwork represented to me… and suddenly, it didn’t matter what that woman thought.

I was happy with my creation… and do you know what happened once I reached that place inside? Other women started coming over and saying lovely things about it… which also was nice, but most of all, what was important to me, was my realisation. It is one piece of art I kept to remind me of that moment.

As you read this, are you aware of a time when you felt vulnerable over something you created?

Brene Brown gives an insightful talk about vulnerability - if you would like to listen in...

And as a footnote, yes the vision boards worked.