FREE Mindful Art Course

There’s hardly a moment to breathe in Brighton in May, let alone find time for your own artistic pursuits. The Brighton Festival, the Brighton Fringe, The Great Escape and Artists Open Houses catapult the city into a frenzy of culture and creativity. With so much theatre, music, dance, performance and art to feast on this month, June will be a good time to give your mind and body a break, whilst tapping into your own creative potential.

Stop Look Breathe Create 3 Challenge

To celebrate the upcoming release of her new creative mindfulness book, Stop Look Breathe Create – Wendy Ann Greenhalgh author of Mindfulness and the Art of Drawing: A creative path to awareness  is launching a new FREE three week creative mindfulness course you can do online and at home. The first ever run of it starts on the 5th of June and continues for 3 weeks until the 25th of June and she’s inviting the Art of Mindfulness Community to do it TOGETHER as a follow up to their Mindful Drawing Month. Here’s how it works…

Boosting Creativity

Over the 3 weeks of the challenge you’re going to explore the 3 Stop Look Breathe Create creative mediums – mindful photography, drawing and writing.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t consider yourself an artist or even especially creative. Wendy Ann has taught these simple creative mindfulness practices to people who’ve told her they can’t draw, are awful at taking photos, and can never think of anything to write.

These people always leave a workshop with drawings under their arm, photos on their cameras, and words on the page.

Mindful creativity is all about process – about enjoying creating and using it as a way of becoming more mindful of our bodies and minds, and of the world around us – it’s not about end results or being perfect. This means Stop Look Breathe Create is for everyone.

Deepening Mindfulness

So you’ll have your 3 creative mediums and over 3 weeks you’re going to combine them with the 3 minute breathing space, a very special mindfulness meditation.

The 3 minute breathing space was developed through MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) and MBCT (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy) programs by teachers like Jon Kabat Zinn and Professor Mark Williams.

It’s considered a key part of these programs because it’s the meditation practice that helps people develop the habit of mindfulness in every moment of their lives.

The breathing space is an immensely accessible and powerful practice for growing inner resources of groundedness, calm and self-compassion. In the case of a Stop Look Breathe Create breathing space – you’re nurturing creativity too.

Developing the daily mindfulness habit

Just as daily mindfulness has proven benefits – so too does daily creativity.

The Stop Look Breathe Create 3 Challenge will help you develop the habit of daily practice so that you can start to feel the benefits too.

The FREE 3 Challenge course materials will support you through the 3 weeks of the challenge. You’ll get:

* Three guided 3 minute breathing space meditations on MP3,
* Three MP3 mini-tutorials on drawing, photography and writing
* Three tips on how to develop your creative mindfulness practice for each week of the challenge in your 30 page PDF course booklet
* A Meditation Diary for you to keep track of your progress on the weekly challenges.

If you’d like to join us for the first ever 3 Challenge then you’ll need to sign up for the Art of Mindfulness community Enews by following this link:

https://artofmindfulness.wordpress.com/sign-up-for-e-news/

PLEASE DO SHARE this event with all your friends, the more people who join in the better – let’s spread the word about the benefits and joys of daily mindfulness and creativity.

If you do intend to join in and take the 3 Challenge then it would also be great if you registered by clicking the GOING button on the Facebook event. This will give everyone a strong sense of the community of creative, mindful people they’ll be sharing the experience with.

Any questions just contact Wendy Ann.

There’s lots going on in May at Evolution Arts, so if you’re suffering from festival fever, take time out and enrol on one of this month’s innovative and exciting courses, workshops or drop-ins: Introduction to Enamelling  Hatha Yoga, A Journey Within The Body, Silent Tea Ceremony, Figure Drawing & Costume in Mixed Media, Introduction to Portrait Photography, Freedom in Music, Butoh Dance and Introduction to Portrait Photography.

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New autumn courses and workshops in focus

‘Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all’ – Stanley Horowitz

Though we seem to be in the midst of an Indian summer, our thoughts are now turning towards the time of year where the leaves fall from the trees, carpeting the ground in golds, oranges and browns.  The light mellows and the nights begin to draw in, bridging the gap between a soon forgotten summer and a here too soon winter.  Now’s the time to explore new pathways, discover a new passion and build your self confidence.  We suggest Evolution Arts courses as the perfect place to start. In this blog we take a look at some of the new courses and workshops starting this Autumn.

Whether you’re interested in writing, acting, painting, mindfulness or aromatherapy, we think we’ve got some fantastic courses and workshops coming up to see you through the season.

The Fool
The Fool

Acting for Everyone: A Fool’s Guide to Playing:
Whether you’re a complete beginner or a seasoned performer, come and experience A Fool’s Guide to Playing with tutor Jonathan Brown, starting 31st October. Together you’ll explore many areas including script, movement, character and improvised theatre inspired by the Archetype of The Fool. Telling the story of the moment, in the land where anything, any emotion is possible, from the irreverent to the sacred, from the daft to the deep, from the hilarious to the hallowed.

With playful exercises, these sessions will stretch your acting muscles, offering new ways to play, create and perform. Learn to develop your palette and tools, play with a broader set of choices, and find more freedom to act, both on stage, and in life. Learn through exercises, games and more, about giving licence to your imagination, using your whole body and voice, exploring your emotional range, developing a character, taking risks and incorporating your personal experience in the moment.

Collective Writing:
With tutor Pete Maguire, starting Thursday 8th October, Collective Writing is a playful series of workshops exploring the freedom and enthusiasm that writing collectively can generate. Rather than instructing creativity to arise, the workshops encourage it to appear through improvisation exercises and inventive word play. Words will be flung around the room and laughter will take precedence over the end product. The workshops will examine creative inspirations from poetry, theatre, literature and art and will culminate in a shared writing journey conjured by what is explored in the session. It’s suitable for beginners, and those more experienced, from any of the arts that would like to embark on a journey of writing discovery.

Henri Matisse, "The Dance II" (1910)
Henri Matisse, “The Dance II” (1910)

Paint Like Matisse:
With tutor Claire Harrison, starting on Sunday 18th October, this workshop will examine the French artist Henri Matisse’s use of colour and will explain how to combine bright colours successfully. The workshop will demonstrate how Matisse, widely regarded as the greatest colorist of the 20th century, painted, and the revolutionary ideas behind his painting. Suitable for all abilities as Claire helps each student on an individual basis.

Aromatherapy Blending Masterclass
Aromatherapy Blending Masterclass

Aromatherapy Blending Masterclass:
Starting Sunday 4th October, tutor Leigh-Anne Morell will lead this masterclass in blending aromatherapy to make aromatherapy candles, massage oils and bath salts. Essential oils have been used for therapeutic purposes for nearly 6,000 years and in this class you will learn both the benefits of these oils and the art of blending them. You’ll have time to develop your own special blend and whether you choose to create an energizing candle or a sensual massage oil, you’re guaranteed to go home smelling gorgeous and feeling invigorated.

Mindfulness & the Art of Urban Living
Mindfulness & the Art of Urban Living

Mindfulness & the Art of Urban Living:
Starting on Tuesday 20th October, with tutor Natasha Lythgoe, this course aims to introduce mindfulness whilst exploring ways to re-enchant our everyday urban lives rather than needing to look or go ‘elsewhere’. The course will explore how to savour our lives just as they are – wherever they are. It’s an opportunity to re-connect with notions of belonging, community and nature in the city hopefully discovering meaning and connecting with your creativity along the way.

Feeling inspired? At Evolution Arts  we offer several courses and workshops focusing on arts and crafts, the body and mind, writing, acting, photography, dance and music.  Find a new challenge, discover a new passion and become part of the Evolution community this autumn.  Call the centre on 01273 204204 or click here for more information and to book.

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Mindfulness & the Art of Drawing – book launch

In celebration of and as a thank you to our creative Evolution community, Evolution Arts and Wendy Ann Greenhalgh will be hosting a book launch event for Wendy Ann’s new book, Mindfulness & the Art of Drawing – A Creative Path to Awareness on 18th September.

Through anecdote and practical mindful excercises, Mindfulness & the Art of Drawing explores how everyone can draw and how even doodling or simple mark making can create a deeper connection with ourselves and the world around us. As children we draw effortlessly and with abandon and it is only later as adults our mind tells us we cannot draw or our art simply isn’t good enough. The seed of doubt is sown and we slavishly succumb to it unable to shake it off.

Day to day things, however small and insignificant can often get in the way and create barriers to our art and here Wendy Ann discusses how mindfulness can help remove these barriers.  It can can help deal with our internal voice, the internal critic that tells us we aren’t good enough, we’re not doing it right or that’s not how it’s supposed to look and therefore bring back joyfulness to our drawing. We as mindful artists can rediscover the playful pleasure in drawing.

wendy ann
Author Wendy Ann Greenhalgh

The book has an easy and accessible approach, but can also work on a much deeper level of mindfulness practice if you want it to.  It has a broad appeal as no experience in either drawing or the practice of mindfulness is necessary to gain something from the book. It’s for those who haven’t drawn since they were at school, for those who don’t feel they’re any good at drawing, or for those who are experienced in art but are looking for a new approach. It contains enlightening chapters on still life, landscapes and cityscapes, life drawing and portraiture and themes of experiencing change, love, kindness and self compassion run throughout its course.

Wendy Ann refers to the practice of mindfulness and the art of drawing as a “gentle, self-compassionate approach to unblocking creativity” and a useful tool for removing the barriers to our drawing.  Through following these practices, Wendy Ann herself has changed as an artist. and feels that mindfulness has influenced her compositions and transformed her own relationship with drawing. She recently attended her first life drawing class in 17 years.  Having felt frustrated at previous classes, comparing her work to others and letting her inner critic take over, like most of us do, she felt completely different this time. She simply let go, was present in the moment and just drew. Her approach to drawing has changed, whereas she now approaches it as a process rather than an end product.

The book draws on her own experience as an Arts educator and artist and her 20 years of mindfulness practice.  She has worked professionally as a photographer, illustrator, performance artist, filmmaker, poet and author and has practicised mindfulness meditation since her teens. She has tutored at Evolution Arts for five years.

“Evolution has been a real home from home for me for the last five years. It’s the place I first started teaching my own vision for creativity and mindfulness, so it feels only right that the first celebration for my book, should be with the Evolution Community. It’s a thank-you to all the lovely people who’ve come on courses over the years, helping to make Evolution a hub for creativity and mindfulness in the city.”  Wendy Ann Greenhalgh.

The book launch will take place at Evolution Arts, 2 Sillwood Terrace, Brighton & Hove, East Sussex BN1 2LR on 18th September at 7.30pm. This is a free event but due to limited numbers you will require a ticket to enter.  Tickets can be acquired by clicking here.  The event will preview the book where you will have the opportunity to purchase a signed copy ahead of it’s major release in October.  The evening will include a 40 minute mindfulness drawing class with Wendy Ann followed by a Q&A session with the author herself.

You can find out more about Wendy Ann Greenhalgh by visiting her Facebook Page or Website.  Wendy Ann Greenhalgh has some mindfulness and creative courses / workshops starting this September at Evolution Arts. Participants will have the opportunity to book onto these courses at a concessionary rate on the night.

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Mindfulness goes to the movies

For such an ancient practice its intriguing to see mindfulness crop up in modern culture.  Going to the cinema for instance. While watching a film we focus on the present.  We are accepting of our emotions and thoughts meaning films have the power to make us think, make us question, even change us.  Watching a film can help us to exist in the present moment.  The dark of the cinema, the shared experience with fellow cinema goers.  We can give way to our emotions and focus completely on what is happening right now.

So a visit to the cinema can be a mindful experience but its also interesting to see how mindfulness has become a recurrent theme within the films themselves.

Pixar-Inside-Out-Fun-Facts

The recently released Disney Pixar’s Inside Out has a theme of mindfulness at its core.  The premise of the film takes place within the mind of an eleven year old girl called Riley.  Her emotions: sadness, anger, fear, disgust and joy are depicted by engaging characters who help plot Riley’s course through life.  Inside Out shows there isn’t a right or wrong way to feel, but encourages Riley to be accepting of all her emotions on a deeper level. Yes sure it’s a children’s film but it offers an insight into the human condition and encourages the viewer to take a look inside their own mind.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, creator of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, states;

“If you learn how to open to thoughts and feelings and not try to shut them off or change them, you can then taste a degree of freedom where you are not necessarily plagued by obsessive or difficult thoughts because you know they are just bubbles in the stream of thought and they are not the reality.

bueller-w
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

So mindfulness encourages us to be present in the moment, free from obsessive or difficult thoughts.  Another film example is 80’s cult classic, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It is the pure embodiment of living in the moment.  The hero, high school senior, Ferris Bueller seizes the moment and runs with it. He skips class, ‘borrows’ a Ferrari and gate crashes Chicago’s annual Von Steuben Day parade. Ferris Bueller may take mindfulness to the extreme but is a good example of how mindfulness can help us pay attention and be more attune to ourselves, our environment and to others.  A way to be more alive in each moment. There’s a well known line from the film which pretty much sums it up;

“life moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it”

breakfast-club-2
The Breakfast Club

Referencing another 80’s cult classic, The Breakfast Club.  The main characters are five students from different walks of life, each with their own label; outcast, rebel, nerd, princess and jock. They are forced to endure a two hour detention and write an essay on who they think they are.  This affords them plenty of time to focus on the present moment.  Each character has a chance to tell their story and each goes through a transition in someway by the end of the detention, by the end of the film.  Each character in turn becomes more mindful of who they are and learns how to be more present in life.

We’re not suggesting you play truant from life and steal a Ferrari or get yourself put in detention, but practising mindfulness can be a way of opening your mind.  It can encourage you to pay more attention to the details and become more deeply attuned to your emotions and environment just like Riley.  Being more present in life could help remove blocks to your creativity, help you focus on the process rather than the end result. Why not take a new approach to being present in the moment.  Learn ways of managing your emotions and tackling life’s issues…. but maybe leave out the 80’s hair!

At Evolution Arts we run several courses focusing on mindfulness, some starting in September. Call the centre on 01273 204204 or click here for more information and to book.

 

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Reconnecting with wildness and beauty

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”

Extract from The Summer Day by Mary Oliver
From New and Selected Poems 1992 Beacon Press

When’s the last time you stopped on your way to work, or to the shops, or going to collect the kids from school and just took a minute? A minute to look around you. A minute to breathe and create a little space to catch up with yourself, to come into the moment? Yesterday? Great. How many times yesterday? In that whole 24 hours how much did you notice, what did you see to gladden your heart and bring a little peace to your mind? Did you find the time for a little wildness and beauty in your day, for a little mindfulness, a little creativity – or did life take over?

 

Life taking over is all too common. We deaden ourselves in so many ways, with over work, with screens and inboxes and smart phones; with rushing and busyness and things to do; with bad TV and bad food and sometimes even bad relationships – but we’re suffering for it and we need to come alive, we need a dose of wildness and beauty every day, in order to enliven us.

 

But it’s so easy to forget this, we’re always coming from somewhere – going somewhere, there’s always someone waiting, which is why I use a mindfulness practice I call #stoplookbreathecreate. It works like this, wherever you are, wherever you’re going – slow down – pause – Stop. Look – notice what’s around, look up, look down – listen, smell, feel, taste it too. Breathe – breathing in and out we’re just here, present in the moment. This isn’t like sitting meditation – I’m not suggesting you whip out your little cushion at the bus stop and get cross legged – what I’m talking about is a mindful pause, what I’m suggesting is making just enough space to be truly present for a moment. When we do this on a regular basis what we start to notice is the beauty and wildness that exists on every street corner.

 

At the moment what I’m noticing are the flowers growing everywhere in the Brighton; not in gardens, but in the cracks in cement, in drainpipes, on steps, in gutters. The city is flowering, self-seeding bright scraps of wildness, and this is the first time I’ve really noticed it. One day I was doing my #stoplookbreathecreate and then there they were. And now I keep seeing them everywhere. So I stop, look, breathe and then I take a photograph of them. (You can see them on my Instagram.) Photographing them is important – the Create part of #stoplookbreathecreate is very important. Stopping, looking and breathing brings us into presence – but when we create we are connecting with our intuitive, instinctual selves, our own wild. Being creative calls something out of us, it energizes and enlivens in the way few things can. Creating something – anything, is a crucial, transformative part of this simple little mindfulness practice. We need doses of mindfulness and creativity to stop the wild in us from dying; we need them to come alive. We need them every day.

 

So stop – look – breathe and photograph it on your phone as I do, or do a little doodle of it on the end of your shopping list, or write it down in your journal, or just tell someone about it. Telling stories is a creative act too. And if you want to – share your doodles or scribbles or snaps using the #stoplookbreathecreate hashtag on social media or by posting them on my Art of Mindfulness Facebook page. http://www.artofmindfulness.wordpress.com

 

 

Wendy Ann Greenhalgh is running a 1 day mindfulness, drawing and creative writing workshop in the secret garden at The Garden House on Saturday July 11th – which will give you lots of time to Stop Look Breathe and Create. Reconnect with the wild and beautiful in the heart of Brighton.

For more information and to book click here.

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