Money can’t buy joie de vivre, but it can buy a ticket to Paris!

“The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before.” – Albert Einstein

Paris diaries 01.

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Travelling slows down time, everything is new again. Your routine, your surroundings, your perspective, everything, changes. I don’t think it is always necessary to leave your city or country to have a refresh, a reset, but I do think it can help to get there quicker and with more effect. Which is why I went to Paris by myself for 10 days (with a hiatus for a few days when my friend joined me). 10 days felt more like a month (in a good way).

Maybe this feeling or need, to get away, to leave, to change, isn’t for everyone. Maybe you are ok with time slipping away so quickly before you, where weeks go by in a flash, and you are quite content with everything staying roughly the same. For me, it is like an internal itch, to get away, to see something new, be somewhere new, encounter new people. I’m sure this could be seen as perhaps unnecessary or extreme, however, if it spurs me to do things and make changes, I guess I’m ok with that.

 “When you’re travelling with someone else, you share each discovery, but when you are alone, you have to carry each experience with you like a secret, something you have to write on your heart, because there’s no other way to preserve it.” – Shauna Niequist

Over the years I have often embarked on adventures that probably seem strange or even foolish to others. (side note – somehow I have always been really lucky and can think of a number of times where I look back and think, thank goodness I had some weird luck following me or that could have turned out a whole lot worse!) Travelling alone for some people is probably a foreign concept, and at the same time for others, a beautiful and exciting one, with total freedom. I think I’m somewhere in between on that front. But what I do think I have is an internal compass of sorts, or maybe it’s more like an alarm clock, and after a while it compels me to book something, there and then. With not much of a plan, and frankly, very little thought, I go ahead and book something, I set my heights super high and usually have some grand vision of how wonderful it is all going to be…. And then the time comes around and it is the night before I am due to leave, and everything changes. Excitement and hope quickly changes to fear, anxiety, and general unease at the sheer unknown of what lies ahead of me. Then I will be thinking, ‘why, why, do I need to make myself do things like this?!’.

“Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that’s the one that is going to require the most from you.” – Caroline Myss

But, this is all part of it. Not that I have the insight to think that at the time, I’m too busy being scared or beating myself up. Only once I settle in, and meander along my bumpy path, with doubt and a whole lot of unknown, that I realise that it is an adventure. You can’t have the adventure and the glory without some of the fear and mishaps. Instead take the plunge, give into fear and surrender to whatever lies ahead. It is a (necessary) voyage out of your comfort zone and into a new arena, and often, a new time zone. By which I mean literally, but also metaphorically, abandoning your usual time restraints and restrictions. I personally find it easier to just drift and not be concerned with what time it is, or even what day it is. To no longer feel tied down by the day of the week, or hour of the day, to me, is a pure joy, which no doubt with practice can be brought in to our every day lives, but it is something I find very difficult to do. This is time to slow down, let go of time, and expand. Expand into new ideas, new perspectives and new levels of creativity. Getting out of your comfort zone in this way helps in many ways, sometimes it will help you see something from a new angle, or perhaps tackle a problem from a new angle, and it will definitely build your confidence. Once you look back and remember the fear, that you then changed and settled into, you can build on that and recognise the strength within yourself that you have created.

“How do the geese know when to fly to the sun? Who tells them the seasons? How do we, humans, know when it is time to move on? As with the migrant birds, so surely with us, there is a voice within, if only we would listen to it, that tells us so certainly when to go forth into the unknown.” – Elizabeth Kübler-Ross

Many of us in the western world, busy ourselves along day by day, week by week, hardly looking up to take a moment to notice anything. This is not a way to live. By taking an hour out, to go for a walk, or take a weekend off to drive to the countryside, or, if you are able, leave the country for a week or longer. And, if you are brave enough, do this alone. Only when you are alone can you see things as you alone would see them, let them seep in and let them conjure up new views, new ideas, and breathe in a new lease of life.

If you do this alone, it probably won’t be all roses, especially if you are not used to solo time. But now, more than ever, it is important to physically get away. If you are an amazing yogi, or meditator, maybe you don’t need to physically remove yourself. You probably have it sorted where you can just sit down, close your eyes, and bliss out to anywhere you want by not going anywhere at all. However, with the growing number of distractions we are near enough constantly faced with, this is not easy for most people – it is for sure something to practice though.

I know this idea of getting away, or of shutting yourself of from the world isn’t a new one, but it is a great one, especially if you are trying to pursue anything creative.

So I will end there, and encourage you all to take yourself away from it all, even if just for half an hour, whatever/ wherever is accessible to you. Allow yourself that time. I read/ listen to so many successful people say that their best ideas come when they are not trying, when they go for a run, or have a bath or generally slow down and take time out, time off.

“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” – Rosalia de Castro

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog, and I hope it got you thinking, (and perhaps even doing!).

To follow in a blog post soon – a little more about my time in Paris.

Holly

http://www.hollysharpe.com

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Self doubt will swallow you up

words

 

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt”

Sylvia Plath

It’s strange, I was talking to someone about my work recently, and what part it plays in my life, and how I feel about it etcetera – ye, pretty big questions I guess. And they asked me if I sometimes doubt my abilities. My first thought was, no, I am pretty confident after having so many people believe in, buy, commission and compliment my work… but then I thought about it a bit more, and yep, there is a shed load of doubt there. And like most of my emotions/ complex issues, it is not very far below the surface. To say I have ‘thin skin’ would be an understatement, although I like to think I hide it well most of the time… I’m sure those closest to me have never been fooled on that front. So whenever things with my work aren’t going exceedingly swimmingly, say a commission doesn’t materialise, or a commission does not go well, / is entirely rejected, or when I create something that doesn’t work, that I hate,… or when I decide to procrastinate by seeing what some of my favourite, and extremely successful artists/ illustrators have been up to of late and compare myself and my lack of comparable achievements, it sucks. (and here is a post about why you should not compare yourself). Some of these times I let self doubt engulf me and take over, I doubt everything and question everything and overthink everything and sometimes this can result in not doing anything. It is a slippery slope and leads to a big black hole and you have to reach out and lift yourself up before you go down too far.

So don’t do it, don’t let the doubt seep in. It will not serve you. This definitely takes practice, to make the choice, the decision to seek the light and not the dark, but keep practicing and it will slowly get ever so slightly easier. The plus side is I actually think I am getting a whole lot better at putting these things aside, yes, I mourn them for a bit,  I wouldn’t be able to do what I do if I didn’t let it affect me at all, because I couldn’t do what I do if I didn’t care about it all immensely. But I try to take a step back and be rational about it. Which also takes practice.

“Self-doubt does more to sabotage individual potential than all external limitations put together” – Brian Tracy

If you are in the creative industry, and no doubt many other industries, and if you work for yourself, you absolutely have to keep going. You cannot let it burn you down, because if you let it, it will. You have to get back up and use it. In a way, I think these times are actually necessary, otherwise maybe I would become too complacent with my work, I would sit too comfortably and not have the same fuel to prove other people, or perhaps more importantly, prove myself, wrong. To aim even higher, push even further than I have before. So that is my next tip, USE IT ALL. Use everything, all the emotions, the anger, the doubt, the frustration, the confusion, use it. I feel so fortunate to have an outlet to do so. Even writing about it right now helps. Especially because I know that I am not alone in feeling like this. Far from it.

I really feel like in this day and age there are so many things we have to deal with/ think about/ consider/ decide on (*yawn*). Things which, I can’t help but think that artists 100 years ago did not have to consider. Not that I long to have been an artist back then, as of course they had a whole other set of issues which perhaps we do not have now. But still, it is interesting to think about how much has changed, and perhaps to use that to figure out what is really worth doing, and what it is you actually want to do. Is it worth the heart ache? Or have you been sidelined again onto a tangent that isn’t even the path you wanted to go down?  Overall, I am using all this as a positive thing, these feelings, as well as many others, have always been useful for me to use, to push me to create something even better than before, to never get too comfortable, and to always try and work outside of my own boundaries, my comfort zone. Otherwise we will stand still. And in a world that moves so unbelievably fast, you cannot stand still, you have to swim, otherwise you may just drown in it all.

“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” – Kurt Vonnegut

 

Conversely, even though doubt is not a useful thing to have when you are trying to be bold and make things happen, there is also a humbling element to it. Which reminds me of a lovely phrase one of my favourite yoga teachers (Laura, that’s you!) used to say which went something like this,

“Be humble enough to know that you are not better than anyone else, but wise enough to know that you are very, very, special”.

We are all so fragile, but that is part of what makes us beautiful, and capable of creating wondrous moments and creations. It will always be hard to reveal your soul, to expose your feelings in words, a song or a painting, but it is what helps us stay connected, and we need that now more than ever.

“life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one” – Stella Adler

Thanks again for reading,

if you liked this post you may also like this one,  or this one

Holly x

twitter: @hollysharpe

http://www.hollysharpe.com

Trust in YOU.

As per usual, it has been over a month since I last posted something on here. I have actually drafted a few posts, but some I am still working on, and others the timing doesn’t feel quite right, yet… I have had some intense creating time recently – which involved painting for long hours to create some new work for Breeze gallery here in Scotland. It had probably been a few months since I had painted that intensely, and it really felt like it was needed. It is such an amazing feeling to let something out that has been inside of you, and sometimes weighing you down, the whole process is quite cathartic. However, like with most creative things, and with most things that are worth doing, it also comes with some element of struggle. Struggle to not over think what you are doing, and why, trying to not question your work too much, and trying to come up against and cross this weird threshold that seems to hold you back from finishing anything at times. Thankfully I was under a nice amount of pressure – ie not too much, but it was still there – which meant I knew I had to finish them, rather than leaving them in this strange limbo where it’s as if by leaving them there you have some excuse as to why they ‘don’t work’. Maybe to some of you that made no sense at all, but I am hoping some of you creatives out there, from all creative disciplines, can relate to what I am talking about, even if I didn’t word it in the best way.

Since then, it now leaves me with a mass catch up operation. Yawn. This involves emails, making my new website (which has been ‘in progress’ for so long now it is starting to hurt >< ) , and the tedium that is photoshopping what feels like endless amounts of scans/ files so that they are ready for web/ printing. I have been wondering if I need to do a class in photoshop as it is quite possible there is a quicker way to do what I am doing… and I know I have a bad track record for inadvertently making things harder for myself. Anyway, my, longwinded, point is that because I haven’t been doing anything that creative for the last week or so, I am once again flooded, with a running commentary of words all jumbled up from everything I have thought/ learnt/ listened to / conversed about of late. It’s like I have too many to make any sense of. And they often hit me at times when I can’t actually put them down on paper, like when I am driving and listening to music, or if I am out for a walk by myself, or exercising, basically at times when my mind is allowed to wander. Which is a bit weird because I am by no means a writer, but I think perhaps because I don’t currently have a creative outlet whilst I am doing all the tedious stuff, that therefore I have to explode my creative stuff in some other way, and it has started to come out in words. Maybe because in some ways it is more instant, that’s what it feels like for me anyway, like I can off load a tonne of stuff quite quickly and it is like a weight has been lifted, or like a sense of having achieved something.

So I did start to write this to explain why I finally managed to unearth some sense and some direction to be able to hone in on a topic amongst all the other noise/ commentary in my head. And here it begins, the thing I actually sat down to write about(!) :

I came across this article the other day, an interview with none other than THE real life Erin Brockovich. Which many of you may know because of the film in 2000 where Julia Roberts played her. And if I am honest, is still one of my favourite films. It inspires me, and I love the whole idea of someone fighting against something that many would deem impossible/ insurmountable. (And even more so because the someone in this case is a woman!! *and I think women are amazing*) I also feel this is an apt moment to quote from another brilliant (!) film, also based on a true story, that I re-watched recently, ‘The Imitation Game’

“Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things no one can imagine”.

The quote below however, was the main catapult to put my thoughts into words. Mainly because, upon reflection, this concept was the main thing I learnt for myself last year, 2015. There were a few instances with my work, and decisions I had to make/ risks I chose to take in relation to my work, but also in my personal life (needless to say there is a very grey line where one starts and the other ends) where it was pointed out to me, mainly by a few of my nearest and dearest friends that I need to believe in my own decisions more, and trust in them more. I was actually taken aback when it was first said to me, even the language I was using was almost like justifying a decision in some way. I hadn’t even realised this was something I did. It was like my default, to think that someone else always knows better than me. It was also one of my great yoga teachers that made a similar point, that with some of the biggest decisions in our lives, we often turn to someone else for help, he used the example of buying a house, we entrust the help of a solicitor etc – and pay them a lot of money to do so! Now, I am not sure it is even possible to sell or buy a property without that in the UK, but if you think about it, it is a bit crazy, especially when I know many people who are so frustrated by the incapabilities of their solicitors in these instances, missing details at the start and quite basic things which then hold up the whole process, and yet we still pay them thousands to do this for us.

Erin B quote

Of course I accept and acknowledge that sometimes someone else does know best, sometimes I need someone that has the experience, or expertise or knowledge that I simply don’t have, and I hope I will be humble enough to take their advice. However I also know I still need to practice, as I’m sure many others do, to listen to myself and look back on how well I have managed so far, in a lot of aspects in my life, and usually through my own decisions, and hard work etc. So why would I stop trusting that sometimes I do know best? I can’t help but think that we live in a society where it is commonplace to assume that you do not know best and to often pay someone else or look to someone else for the answer. Perhaps we wouldn’t have many of the problems we do if more people took charge of their lives and situations, and spoke up about certain things. Rather than think just because you are young, or old, or because you don’t have this or that, or you don’t have a certain qualification, does that mean your opinion, thoughts or ideas don’t matter?

One last quote, on that note, that I saw on Instagram, so not sure who even said it, but it made me laugh, and is also very true! :

“Don’t let anyone tell you you’re too young to accomplish something.
A baby shark is still a fucking shark”

-Holly

x

http://www.hollysharpe.com
@hollysharpe

 

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

Change the world by changing yourself.

Hope

“Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi

I’ve been thinking a lot about change recently. And about compassion. Not quite related I guess. Which is to say: I’ve been thinking (or over-thinking) a lot recently. Not much new there really.

I feel like as time goes on, and life seems to throw bigger decisions at you, sometimes it is so hard to know what is the right direction. What is the “right” way to be. What is the “right’ thing to do. I don’t think there is ever one answer to any of these questions. And one thing I think which is useful to remember, (re my post about comparing yourself) is that we are all so different. Each and every person is unique. That’s 7 billion complete and utter individuals living on this planet (don’t get me started on what is beyond this planet, as that is a little too mind blowing). If I’m honest, that fact alone completely over shadows any worries or concerns I had in my own little world. And instead I find myself in awe of this overwhelming miracle which is actually a fact.

With a decent dose of my usual tangents, I will try to get back to what I think my overall point is… For quite a few years now I have taken it upon myself to learn more about yoga, Buddhism, and meditation. I have a whole array of thoughts on them all, which I will for the most part leave aside for another day, in another post/s. But what I do want to say, is that when you feel in doubt, when you are confused and questioning whether you are in the right job, or at the right place in your life or whatever it is you are (constantly) questioning. One thing you can be sure of, in my opinion, is to work on bettering yourself. Now that of course means something different to everyone. However there are probably a few core things which most would surely agree on, such as trying to be a good person, trying to treat others without judgment and without criticism. Trying to be healthier, to treat you body and mind with the respect and love it so deserves, and encouraging others to do the same.

They are just a couple of things which I think most people would feel happier if they tried to improve on them, and for most people there is always some room for improvement within those areas. And I think that once you are focusing on these things, in time the rest will start to fall into place, because your whole outlook will be more positive and with more clarity. I want to try and make my point with a ‘story’ or whatever you would like to call it, which one of my wonderful yoga teachers, Laura, recently shared with us. It was written by an Unknown Monk, in 1100 AD and reflects that we can only change ourselves –

“When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family. Now, as an old man, I realise the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realise that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.”

This really said something to me, because I think it is so true. This ‘ripple effect’ of passing good intentions and good energy, but by starting with yourself, makes so much sense to me, and is a lot easier to feel like perhaps you could in fact help change something, rather than feeling helpless and overwhelmed by the state of the world if you start thinking about changing the entire world yourself.

And just to round this up, perhaps on a slightly too cheesy note for some, here are some words which perhaps a lot of you already know, but it’s a nice one to remember:

Promise yourself

To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel that there is something worthwhile in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past, and press on to the greater achievements of
the future.
To wear a cheerful expression at all times and give a smile to every living
creature you meet.
To give so much time to improving yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy
to permit the presence of trouble.
To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud
words, but in great deeds.
To live in the faith that the whole world is on your side, so long as you are true
to the best that is in you.

The Optimist Creed

By Christian D. Larson 1912

Hope you enjoyed my post, thanks again for taking the time to read it!
– Holly

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Why not to compare yourself to others.

Ben Lomond
Me and Ben Lomond last year ^

Social media is a great thing in many ways, and I use it for my work a lot and it has helped me a lot. However, it also has a LOT of negatives. It is crazy how much time people spend wishing away their lives scrolling through Facebook etc. Aside from time wasting, the main issue I have with it, and have heard discussed here and there is the envy and jealousy it creates. Wishing you looked like someone else, wishing you lived somewhere else, wishing you had the fame or life of someone else. We, as humans, are naturally compelled to get carried away and indulge in these feelings of wanting and wishing. Which does nothing and doesn’t help anyone. What we need to remember, is that everyone’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc, is a tiny, tiny, edited version of their life or work. Everyone has ups and downs, rainy days and grumpy days, yet their social media profiles probably don’t represent this. As much as it is important to have aims and goals we want to get to, it is also crucial that we don’t spend our lives saying ‘when I have this’ or once I have done this, or live here, or have lost this weight or have this much money, I’ll be happy, and instead remember to pay attention to what we already have, rather than always looking forwards. Otherwise you might wake up one day and wonder where your life actually went.

And on a side note, it is always best to assume that Photoshop HAS been used on most celebrities/ models in most pictures you will see in most places, because it usually has.

I don’t know where I read this the other day, but it said, ‘Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle’. I think this puts it quite succinctly. It is completely futile to compare your ‘success’, your journey, or whatever, to someone else’s. Think about it, there have been so many points already throughout your life when one small decision affected a big change. So much is up to chance, hurdles you faced in your personal life that they didn’t, priorities you chose that they didn’t. Alain de Botton touches on this idea, and puts it across a whole lot better than I ever could in his extremely watchable (/listenable) TED Talk here.

My ideas on and behind this blog, and the majority of my posts on social media have a positive thread, or should do, throughout. This is intentional as this is how I want to come across, this is how I want to inspire and engage others, it is also how I want to be more of the time. (Having said this, a few people have pointed out that a lot of the girls in my illustrations looks sad, -blog post coming on that point soon.. – so maybe this counteracts all of this anyway…?) However, I wanted to share these words with you to make sure it is understood that my career, my situation is not always rosy. Perhaps it can comes across as if it is when I post about this commission or this break through or another ‘uplifting’ quote. But I wanted to make sure that people know I am human too, I have ups and downs like everyone else. Creating art is one of my coping mechanisms for sure. As is yoga, and people, of course. It is hard to remember that a lot of people that follow me and my work, don’t actually know me, or have never met me. So it is hard to know how people picture you if they only have written words and posted pictures to go by…

Anyway, point is, we are all only human, doing the best we can do and that is all we can do.

Thanks again for reading,
Holly

And if you would like to follow me on the aforementioned social media, here’s the links:
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr.

Motivation 2015.

words - find a way

Procrastination is not your friend. I am fairly well acquainted with it and I know there are very few occasions, if any, when it could be seen to be a positive. I remember years ago reading a fairly generic article where various woman shared their best one – liners of advice and the main one, well, the only one I remember is so simple, but for me, so perfect – ‘Just do it, then it’s done’. It just made me think, if I could just apply this to so many things in my life, I would surely be more productive and most likely less distracted. Like with all those little things that niggle at the back of your mind – phone this person, email someone else, fix this, buy that, do this, do that, go here etc etc Whatever it is, I’m pretty sure we all have them… don’t we?! I go through phases where I get better at applying this to my life. If I need to fix something or email someone, I try to do it straight away. It is amazing, if a tad pathetic, the relief and satisfaction I seem to feel after dealing with these small, but irritating things, that simply just need to be done. So, I am writing this for myself, as a reminder, as much as I am for anyone else that perhaps needs a little push. If you want to be more focused, productive, and generally achieve more in your day, week, month… tick off those little, but necessary things on your list first, get them out the way and then you will hopefully be more focused with less distractions at the back of your mind to get on with what you really want to be doing. This could, I suppose in it’s own way be seen as procrastination as I have read people advise that the best way to be productive is to tackle the hardest/ biggest thing on your to do list first, otherwise you just circle around it all day and find other things you could be doing first. Perhaps this is the best tactic, I’m sure different ways work for different people. But the main advice in both is to start, take action… like, now!

Continuing on this thread, after receiving another email earlier from someone asking how I came about a certain commission, or client or how I did this or that, it made me come back to something which really gets me excited and motivated and realise that it is something I want to do more of this year – I want to motivate you, I want to inspire you and I want to help more people see that they are not fulfilling their potential and that they are so much more capable of so many things if they only put their mind to it. The more I give out this sort of advice, the more I question it… perhaps I’m wrong and not everyone is capable of what I think, maybe I should be more careful when I tell people to quit the job they hate, and have done for years, to take to the road and travel with no particular aim but just because they had a strong urge to. Maybe not everyone is strong enough to deal with the aftermath, the struggle to then help your reality take shape. Or maybe not enough people have even tried? And that is why more people don’t. If you are surrounded by people who just accept things as the way they are, and think they have no choice in the matter, then it is less likely that you will question that in your own life. Without trying to waffle too much, once I get into this I could go on for a whiiiile, here are my main two points, I think.

1. Question everything.

Ok, maybe not everything, but ‘question most things’ doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. All I mean is, if there is something in your life that you are not happy with, don’t just accept that there is no other option, feel sorry for yourself and continue with it. Question it.

It really is my belief that most people have an option, everything in their life was and is a choice. Once you accept this, it gives you control back, it’s exciting! What would you change if you could? Well guess what, you can! I know some will think I have my head in the clouds, but the reason I am close to 100% sure of it now, is because I did it, I changed things I wanted to, and I try hard to keep changing things that I am not happy with now.

2. Action is key.

Whatever it is you want to do, whether it be loose weight and get into shape, learn a new language or quit your job and do your creative thing full time/ freelance, you need to do more than think and talk about it. Obvious yes, but it is in our blood to talk the talk and so many people convince themselves that they mean it and will get around to going to the gym, or eating healthy, or looking for a new job, but it seems much rarer that people actually take action and do something about it. Which we have all done, and the reason is that it takes effort, and confidence and courage. But it feels amazing when you even take one small step towards it. My advice, is start with one small thing. What tiny step can you take towards your goal? Do it. Then figure out the next small step… you should congratulate yourself after each small step, because it is a lot more than thinking and talking about it. For example, if your goal is : to loose weight/ be healthier. Don’t be unrealistic, start with something achievable like, no snacks between meals. Or no snacks every day apart from Friday. Then maybe your next step could be to eat more veg every day. Then maybe your next small step – after you have kept up the previous two for a little while – could be to do 15 mins of exercise every day, or take the stairs instead of the lift (elevator) everyday, or do sit ups every other morning.

Ok less about vegetables, but I hope you get my point, if you can apply that method to whatever it is that you want to do, it does make it seem more achievable and therefore you are more likely to stick to it longer than a week.

This may be stating the obvious but actually I think sometimes when things are written down, or said out loud, they all of a sudden become so much clearer and therefore easier to put into action.

I don’t believe that January is the only time to make changes and resolutions, but it is as good a time as any, so I hope this has helped some of you feel a little more motivated with your goals or resolutions!

Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!
Holly
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Q & A

I quite often receive emails from various people asking me specific questions about my work and or practice. So I thought it might be a good idea to start a feature on here which allows you to send in your questions and I will try to answer them all at some point or perhaps on a monthly (or every-other-monthly) basis!
If you want to ask me something please leave a comment below this post and or email me – hollysharpe@live.com

Here are a couple I have answered recently –

Q: …I haven’t been working on this particular project for very long but I am really struggling to come up with new and creative ideas for designs so I was just wondering what you do when you are trying to design something and need a little help or inspiration? How do you come up with something original that is completely your own work?

A: This is probably something I could talk about for a while, and don’t think there is a black and white answer to your question as it will be different for everyone. So with that in mind I will try my best to give you a few pointers as to how to start off getting ideas which are your own and help you to stay inspired.

I really do get inspiration from everywhere, whether that be nature itself, music, or something I have listened to or read. The way to build on an idea to create something that is your own, is to take it step by step, ie do lots of research, collect images that you like – not necessarily of a finished piece that you want yours to be like, but perhaps photographs, colours, textures, patterns. Anything that you are drawn to, don’t get too bogged down with how related they are to your final project or outcome. The initial steps should always be research, and then you might want to create a nice ‘mood board’ of any images you want to focus on. Then the best step is probably to start sketching, again don’t think too much about where it is going at this stage, just sketch and try to generate different ideas. I very rarely have an image of what my finished piece is going to look like at this stage. So I guess that is where I am going with all this, the process should be quite organic and flourish almost by itself, rather than sitting down and expecting to just come up with something amazing, it is like most things, a step by step journey. Hope that makes sense? If you try to work this way, your final piece/s will have so much more substance.

Practical things I do when I need ideas are things like – go for a walk or run with music on, for some reason this helps take away the pressure and will sometimes let ideas come about quite naturally, read books or go to an art library where there is an abundance of inspiration, and I guess generally looking around, look everywhere, try and absorb all the amazing things around you….. Don’t try to force ideas, let your mind wander and they should come to flourish themselves.

 

Q: I am currently in the process of writing my essay and one of the artists I am focussing on is you, so I was just wondering if you could tell me some information about yourself, like what inspires you etc

A: I always say this, but pretty much everything inspires me. I usually start with an idea, which might come when I am listening to music, or reading or going for a walk amongst the trees, these are some of the best times to generate ideas. These ideas are usually quite powerful, but not necessarily something I can put into words at the initial stages. So I will collect images I like, do some sketches and generally build on the original idea to finally follow it through to finished pieces, I have a lot of ideas, a lot of the time, so it is choosing which ones to pursue that I find hard. So basically so many things inspire me, from music, to colours, to nature and philosophy, fashion and of course other artists.

 

Thanks for reading! Hopefully these answers are useful to others too…  Please feel free to reply with any more questions.

 

Holly

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*No secret formula* – tips on making it in the creative industry. Part 2/2

Paul Coelho

 

Following on from part 1 (read here) here are some more ‘tips’ which I personally think are important if you are trying to make a career in the creative industries, or if you already are but need some reminders to help keep doing what you’re doing.

– Be yourself. –

 Focus on what makes you unique, on your own strengths. It makes a lot more sense to build on what you already have rather than try and change into something you are not. The same goes for your work, of course take inspiration from others, but trying to copy what someone else has done is futile, as you will never be able to do it as good as them, just as they would never be able to do exactly what you have done.

– Create something unique –

Following on from the point above, it will be a whole lot harder, in this already highly competitive industry, for you/ your work to stand out if it isn’t truly your own and there are already a 100 people out there doing a very similar thing. If you create something unique it has a much better chance of standing out. Rather than creating a similar take on something that has already been done. Find your niche and this will give value to what you do and the product/ service you offer.

– Experience –

  • Take risks, do internships (although don’t be one of these guys that works for free for 6months – a year!! *some companies will take advantage*).
  • Meet people/ connect with people in similar fields – find out what it is happening in your area or even online. Go to lectures/ talks / seminars, expand your mind and GET INVOLVED!
  • Experiment with your work too, keep pushing the boundaries of whatever it is you are doing, try new techniques, technology, whatever it is that applies to your discipline/area. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. I know this is hard sometimes, and in some ways the more ‘success’ you have, the harder it is because more people are looking at you and your work, ready to ‘judge’ it. But if you don’t take risks your work will become stale and stay the same. Some of my best work has happened when I least expected it, when I was playing around and trying not to worry about the final result and really letting go.

– Be nice –

This might sound basic, but hear me out. I believe that you should try and be friendly, polite and courteous to everyone that you come into contact with. Whether that be through an email, on twitter, or in person. In your personal life and especially in your business life (although if your situation is anything like mine… they tend to merge into one.. and yes I know that isn’t very healthy!). My reasons for this are:

  1. Because it’s nice to be nice and positive energy is infectious.
  1. From a professional point of view, I think it is important to remember that you don’t know who the person you are in contact with knows, for example their Uncle could just so happen to be the CEO of a design company you desperately want to work for, or an editor at a major magazine you want published in, or the curator at a prestigious art gallery. You get the idea. The point is, any of these people that you are in touch with, could lead you to a person that may be able to help you on your way to that dream career/ project/ commission! Building connections and a client base does not happen over night, yes I’m sure you could buy a long list of names and addresses in your field, but even then, they don’t know you, or have any personal affiliation with you. Professional relationships take time and effort to naturally flourish. It is a two way thing and they need to know they can trust and rely on you.

This whole point came to me after being amazed at the number of people who have emailed me asking my opinion on something, advice, questions etc And after I took the time (ok sometimes 3 weeks later, but still) to send them a well thought out response, a lot of them never even replied with a simple ‘thank you’. Without wanting to start a rant, I really don’t understand this. I completely understand that people are crazy busy/ stressed etc. But 30secs is all it would take to say thanks. Call me old fashioned, but I just don’t get how they don’t see that it’s all connected. I know I rave on about how you are the main driving force behind your own destiny and everything, but there will undoubtedly be a number of key people at different stages in your life that help you along the way, and sometimes they appear when you least expect it.
Oh AND of course-

3. No matter how much your client or the person you are working for/ with is annoying / frustrating you, take a deep breath, step away from the computer, go for a walk, come back to it the next day if you can, and be NICE to them. Clients can sometimes be tricky / demanding, but they are paying you and it is not always going to be a match made in heaven whilst working on something together. Especially when it is something creative, there will be clashes. One thing I like to remember and have really appreciated when working with a couple of clients is that you are only half of the picture. You need them as much as they need you. So please, don’t get too on your creative high horse and try to respect that their vision is just as valid as yours, and hopefully if you find the right balance together you can create something way better than either of you would have done separately.

– Baby steps. –

It is great to have a long term goal/ ambition, but this can often be very daunting and seem unattainable. I think the best way to get there is to break it down into smaller, more manageable sized targets. Perhaps by making a monthly, weekly and daily list of smaller steps/ actions which you can realistically take now to get you closer to your end goal.

 

I hope you have found some of the words in these two parts helpful! I have no doubt I will think of more things, and there are so many factors which help or hold you back when trying to make things happen in your life. But for now, think about the things I have said and decide for yourself if they perhaps apply to you and if it makes sense to try some changes which will hopefully help you achieve the things that you want to. Please get in touch or leave a comment below if you have any questions or want to discuss some of the things that I have said.
email: holly sharpe@live.com
Twitter: @hollysharpe

Thanks again for taking the time to read my blog!!
Holly
x

courage

 

The importance of playing.

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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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