Go Your Own Way.

 

img_3779‘Soar’

 

“Life is painful. It has thorns like the stem of a rose. Culture and art are the roses that bloom on the stem. The flower is yourself, your humanity. Art is the liberation of the humanity inside yourself” – Daisaku Ikeda

Things have happened in the political world this year that have genuinely shocked me. And no doubt plenty others. I don’t think anyone could have even predicted this even 10 years ago. They would probably think it was a joke. Because that’s what this started as, a big joke, and now it is real, it is so real. I think that’s why I am actually still feeling quite detached from it all, because it is hard to believe that it is actually real. Maybe if I lived in America it would be feeling a whole lot more real right now. But thankfully, I don’t. But even so, this is going to have an impact on me, on the UK, on the entire world. To me, this is what is so baffling about all of this. The entire world IS connected, in more ways that just economically. And yet, this mass wave of building boundaries, barriers, and borders is taking over. This hatred against other humans, this anger, it is breeding. We should be building bridges, not barriers, that is my intuitive feeling, that is what is in my heart, and also in my head. To me, that is logical. Again, there is so much I could go into on this topic. But I typed the title before I started writing this, because I want it to be about that, and not some long negative rant about what is wrong with the world. Instead, I want to talk about what I think is the only way to move on from here.

I am sure there are countless people I could quote here, on the value of keeping going, on the value of art, and of hope. But for now, here are a few to get the point going –

“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope” – Barack Obama

“This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilisations heal.” – Toni Morrison

The title of this post, and in fact the whole idea I am attempting to explain, came to me when I was in the car this morning and listening to the song with the same title, loud. And it felt good, and it reminded me of a few things. With so many things in life, you can choose how you view them, you can choose your reaction to them, you can choose what you do about it and how you move forward. Some of which may take practice and working through negative habits, and tricks that your mind may play on you. But it is a choice. If you are feeling sad and depressed and you put on sad music, you are wallowing in it, dwelling in that dark place. That is not the solution, you must find the light, you must seek the light, you must cling on to the hope, you must keep going. If this is hard to start with, think of doing it for others rather than yourself, think of staying strong for them. If you don’t, all this noise, this chaos, will drown out the good, will dampen the hope and block out the light, and we cannot let that happen.

Get creative. I am of course biased, but I know I am not alone in the belief that art has a huge, and very real, place to play in all of this. Even more so than ever, at times like this, when many sci-fi stories are now becoming a reality, when so many people appear to have lost their way, this is the time. This is the time to immerse yourself in your own reality, to believe that anything you dream is possible, because when things are happening that no one believed could or would ever happen, when the boundaries between what is real and what is dreamt has been blurred, there is your evidence, there is your reason for propelling yourself even more so into something that drives you, something that feeds your soul and makes you come alive. Because if you come alive, everyone around you will start to feed of that positive energy as well. When there is less to lose, there is everything to gain. Let this be the time when everything has turned on it’s head and so you must turn everything you thought to be true on it’s head. What do you really want, what do you really believe. Let the answers to these questions be positive ones, and put them into action. Inspire and encourage everyone around you to do the same, to choose their own path and to question the path that has been dictated to them. You can do what you want to do, you can choose which way you want to go. And yes, things will happen that are out of your control, but that is not a reason to become despondent and give up, it is actually the opposite.

I hope that made some sort of sense. I typed that at a record speed because it is the only way to try and get my thoughts down and into something that makes some sort of sense before the thoughts seem to dissipate and I can’t remember what I thought, what I felt. So I am hoping I got there in time, I am hoping I managed to record the thoughts I had this morning, so that you can hopefully take something from them.

And if it didn’t, here’s some more quotes that might.

“ No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world” – Robin Williams

“Art is an attempt to compensate for some of the difficulties we have in human connection” – Alain de Botton

“The power of art can break the shackles that bind and divide human beings” – Daisaku Ikeda

If you liked this post you might also like this one which I wrote after Brexit, and this one, or maybe this one..

Thanks,

Holly  x.

If you liked the image at the start, ‘Soar’, it is avialable as a print HERE.

Twitter @hollysharpe

http://www.hollysharpe.com

Awake.

Alive

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive”

  • – Howard Thurman

I wrote the following late last night (Thursday 17th Sept) :

Pretty sure I’ve posted these words online somewhere, if not on here, before. But I have been struck by a strong feeling right now how true this really is. I am not long back from working at an event for UGG doing live illustrations and I feel so happy that it went so well. I also feel so blessed that I get to do something for a living that makes me so happy. It doesn’t all the time… and that is why I felt the need to share this, because sometimes, including earlier today, I can be quite negative, and generally was not feeling too hyped about anything. This in itself is frustrating, but I know having ups and downs is just part of life, and I know everyone feels like this sometimes. I can’t help but think that if you are creative the highs and lows are possibly more extreme….? It just feels near impossible to snap out of it at times. And other times I can’t help but feel over the moon, and it feels like nothing can alter that state… but it always ends at some point.

I think part of the reason it frustrates me is because everything I am trying to learn about meditating and Buddhism is about maintaining, or trying to maintain, a steady, contented balance most of the time… without the rollercoaster. I think I need to accept that if you are creative, this is the nature of it, the nature of us, and maybe it is something I have to embrace. I just wish I could bottle the way I feel right now, and use it all the times when I’m not feeling so optimistic and grateful and generally have lots of energy. I try and remind myself of the times when I feel so happy and elated when I am not feeling so….but it can be so hard to make yourself feel something when you just can’t pick up the energy – I did write a previous post about things that I think can help lift you out of this way here.  My point to all this is, tonight I was reminded that I really do come alive when I get to do something I really love. I was in my element, and any nerves I felt prior to it quickly vanished when I realised this is where I excel. There was loud music on all night. There was lots of people there. And I love meeting new people. And most importantly, I illustrated a LOT of people, mainly girls it has to be said. This being one of my favourite things to do, especially from real life people (as supposed to a photograph). And every time they seemed so delighted with the illustration I did of them, which just continued to boost this high. I know I am extremely lucky to get paid for it on top of all that. Afterwards I felt so pleased, and a tad relieved, that it had gone so well, and I felt so full of energy, which makes it so much easier to pass that energy on, to be grateful for everything and everyone in my life, to smile at strangers, and to generally be able to pass on joy, happiness. I really think when you smile the world smiles with you, but sometimes it feels so hard to be that way, even if you do know it is for the best. So, my probably long winded way of saying it… but I want to pass on this energy, this enthusiasm I feel right now. I want everyone to feel like this, because it is true, if you feel alive, invigorated by something, it is inevitable that you will pass on that feeling, you will inspire people, make friends, people will fall in love with you, you will exude energy. And this therefore can only be a positive thing for you, and via the ripple effect, for the entire world.

So please, if you can, try and find whatever it is that makes you come *alive. I am not telling everyone to quit their jobs, (although I would support that decision if you dread your job every day….) but even if it is something you can do in the evenings, or weekends, or volunteer, or online. It can be a small thing, or a collection of things. And if you don’t know what makes you come alive, keep looking, keep looking and try and give yourself proper space, as in head space, to figure out what makes sense for you. What wakes you up?
Pema Chodron, who I have mentioned before and will no doubt mention again, writes a lot about finding, discovering, (and making space to do so) what wakes you up and what makes you fall asleep.

“We have basic energy coursing through us. Sometimes it manifests as brilliance and sometimes it manifests as confusion. Because we are decent, basically good people, we ourselves can sort out what to accept and what to reject. We can discern what will make us complete, sane grown-up people, and what – if we are too involved in it – will keep us children forever. This is the process of making friends with ourselves and with our world. It involves not just the parts we like, but the whole picture, because it all has a lot to teach us.”

– Pema Chondron – ‘the wisdom of no escape’

I also want to add that what I did tonight was something out of my comfort zone as I have never done anything before where I am actually illustrating live at an event, and for a big company who of course I want to impress and don’t want to let down etc… so needless to say, the pressure was on, and the pressure to create very quick illustrations of lots of people non stop for 3 hours… but like I said, I was in my element. I barely had a chance to look around so I almost had no option but to focus, keep my head in the game and do my best… sink or swim. So my point is, another invaluable feeling is when you are scared, or nervous or anxious about something, and part of you would rather turn back and just stay comfortable, just stay at home and not do that thing that scares you. But what if that thing that scares you goes really well and you not only feel *exhilarated that it has gone well, but you are also filled with more courage and confidence to know that you pushed yourself and you succeeded. And therefore next time maybe it will become easier to push yourself further out of your comfort zone.

And one final point, I had a hectic day all day prior to this event, and nowhere near enough sleep last night, yet I kept going (and trust me I NEED my sleep). And I know we all need sleep and food to keep us going, to sustain us and give us energy, and there is no way I could function with little sleep every day, as that way you are effectively running on adrenaline, and that is not healthy. However, what this did make me realise, is that when you do something that wakes you up, that *invigorates you, in some ways this can feed you far more than anything else could, more than food or sleep.

Phew, as usual I did not intend for this to be so long, so if you read the whole thing – thank you! I promise I did try and edit it down, but that never has been one of my strong points…..

And on a side note, I will try and write a bit about/ share pictures from the actual UGG event… It is on my, permanently long, list of things to do…

Holly
x

*exhilarate
1. To enliven; invigorate; stimulate

*invigorate

1.Give strength or energy to

*alive
2. alert and active; animated.

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www.hollysharpe.com
https://instagram.com/hollysharpe_drawings/

Sometimes // why I draw.

Bacon

I will keep pouring my heart and soul into my work, because sometimes it is the only thing I know how to do.

Sometimes it is the only place I want to go.

Sometimes it is the only thing that makes me feel like there might be meaning in all of this.

Sometimes it is the only way to make me forget the things I don’t want to remember.

Sometimes it is the only way to zone out of all the small things, and the big things, that occasionally make me despair.

Sometimes it is the only way I feel connected with every other soul out there trying to create beautiful art, words, music, and all things creative.

Sometimes it is the only way I can express myself, and hide away rather than revealing how I actually feel, for all the things I will never be able to say out loud. For all the things I don’t even know how to say in words. And for all the things I wish I had said, and now it is too late.

Sometimes I feel like I don’t understand myself, and certainly no body else does, but maybe they will, maybe some people really do ‘get’ my work, and therefore they ‘get’ me… maybe.

Sometimes I feel so inspired or anxious, or both, and drawing is often the most effective way to use all of this energy.

Because sometimes it is the only thing that makes any sense to me.

I will keep on creating till, well, always. For every piece of music I hear that speaks to me on such a high level, I will keep trying to reach that point with my work, if there is a way to put what I feel and hear in music into something visual, I will keep trying. I will keep on trying to pour out whatever it is I often feel such a strong urge to expel from inside of me. I will keep on trying to create a connection that I hope others will see, feel, and believe. I want to create something that helps you, that takes you to that place, the place where I feel safe, where I don’t need to question everything, the place where nothing really matters, but everything does, the place where I will never reach, but will never stop trying to.

– Holly Sharpe.

http://www.hollysharpe.com

quote

The importance of playing.

Image
Weightless’, ink and pen on watercolour paper

This new body of work (view them all here) actually started as an experiment of some sort. I guess I wanted to let go and have more freedom in my work. Compared with a pencil drawing which usually requires a lot of concentration, intricacy and focus, this new way of working took me back to a sense of spontaneity and a pleasant lack of control. I will always love drawing with pencil and will continue to create pencil drawings for sure. But sometimes I think if you are too ‘tight’ with your work, when it is something/ anything creative, the essence or feeling can sometimes be lost. I find that sometimes when you try too hard to make something work, when creating art, then it actually has less chance of working. And this, is the magic and unexplainable nature of creativity!

In these new works, I barely used pencil in any of them, I wanted to stop the obsession with lines and play with shapes and simplicity. Sometimes when you take away the detail, what is left actually says more. With this idea in mind, I used little or no colour. I played with quink ink, embracing the different shades and marks it creates when layered up. I then decided to experiment with using one colour only, in ‘Eden’ and ‘Immersed’. This is definitely something I will come back to, as I think it portrays something really strong, perhaps because there are less distractions than with my usual array of colours.

 

Image‘Eden’ and ‘Immersed’

It is hard for me to analyse my own work when I am so close to it, in every sense of the word. So I would be intrigued to know how others see it, and if it actually is quite different from my other work? Either way, I think it is important as an artist, to always try new ways of working, to experiment and not be afraid to make mistakes, to try something bold and different and then let the viewers decide how it makes them feel. Otherwise, it is easy to become complacent and can often lead to your work becoming ‘stale’. I still view these pieces as an experiment and in some way a transition. I have finally started a large scale (1 metre square, which is huge for me!) painting on canvas, and I think these works have led me quite naturally to this in a way that a pencil drawing never could. Painting on canvas is alone a whole new way of working for me, and the scale is something different entirely. I am so happy to say, that I have not felt this liberated or excited about my work, since starting the canvas in a long time. This is not to say that my work no longer excites me at all, but it is to make the overall point that playing, and the whole process leading up to where I am now, is all about chasing that magic. When people have asked me in the past about how I knew I wanted to be an artist, the best description I could think of, is that it is like a fire inside of me, and when I work a lot and really get into this zone, the fire grows and grows. However, the longer I go without attending to the fire, ie if I am not immersed in my work and creating, the fire starts to go out. The flame is always there, but it needs work to become a fire. And when I really get excited and passionate about my work, the fire is very much ablaze.

Quite simply, it makes me feel alive.

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