Monday, January 26, 2009

Killarney Art Holidays

One of my New Year Resolutions was to try something that I have feared for as long as I can remember. I am not talking about flying or jumping out of an aeroplane, swimming with sharks or handling a snake - I'm talking about oil painting. It is probably one of the only art skills I have never attempted or wanted to, to be honest. I have thought about the reasons behind this and I think my avoidance came down to my impatience. I always thought oil painting would be too slow for someone like me who just likes to get on with things quickly.

So last week I booked myself in for a two day course with the renowned artist Tine Reed in her studio in Killarney. Tina is a regular visitor to The Crafty Alley Shop and every time I would see her I would think - ok I am going to book a course with her.

So off I went last Tuesday with my bag full of paints and knives. I had to treat myself to everything new as although I have a house jammed full of art products I had nothing for oil paining.

There were four of us taking the class with Tina. Everybody was immediately friendly and chatty so the ice was broken very quickly. Tine showed us the piece we would be working on for the two days which was a beautiful bluebell forest with a running stream through it. Of course, Tina's original version like all her wok was enchanting and beautiful. We had Tina's original and some study photos to work form as Tina took us through the composition step by step and layer by layer. As Tina will only take a limited amount of people in her studio, her student get plenty of help and attention.

A couple of challenges arose for me which I very soon got over. It was all to do with the new tools. Firstly we painted on MDF board which I was always dubious about but can see now why it is a perfect canvas (pardon the pun) to paint on. Most of the painting was done by knife which as first I thought I would never get the handle of but really enjoyed and the third was using Tina's infamous tool of the Dolls Needle, which she send drones of customers to our shop to buy. The needle which takes a bit of practice allows you to work with very delicate details such as thin branches and is actual quite fun and effective.

The two mornings seemed to fly in and I can undoubtedly say I am now hooked. So I will packing up the acrylics while I get myself further acquainted with my new oil friends.

I highly recommend Tina's class for beginners or improvers and you can find all the information you need on We also might be twisting Tina's arm to come and deliver a class or two in our own art studio in the shop in spring! I will post as soon as I have confirmed details.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Get Inspired in 2009

I thought I would share some of my old coaching and training advice to help you set, meet and excel in your creative goals for 2009.

1. Reflect and Review on your creative highlights and low lights of 2009. What did you achieve? What would you have liked to achieve. In order to move forward, it is really important to learn from the past. So take the good and improve on it in 2009 and take the disappointments and start afresh with them in 2009.

2. Set goals which are S.M.A.R.T (Specific, measurable, attainable, realistically and timely). Don't set too many but be realistic. Start at creating goals to have achieved by the end of the year and break these down into monthly, weekly and daily goals to make them more achievable.

3. Start at least one new thing which you always wanted do. It does not have to be a specific creative skill like paining in oils for example but it could be taking walks in new locations - beaches, country houses, forests etc. You may not always find inspiration in a tube of paint but in a wave or a branch of a tree.

4. Write, write, write. I cannot express loud enough how much writing can unblock you and set your mind off in directions you may not have thought possible. Mind mapping is a wonderful way to brainstorm (look up Tony Buzan) or just plain doodling. Write in different colours and techniques. Its always a good idea to dump down everything that is on your mind in the first couple of minutes to free your mind up for more inspiration.

5. Learn from others. Read and view the works of others. Read inspiring books, blog and forums ( have listed some of my favourites at the end). Go to galleries, exhibitions, craft fairs.

6. Have fun, do not take it too seriously and if you don't achieve what you want when you first try, put it away and try again a a day or two!

Good luck and happy creating

Some inspiring reads....

Danny Gregory - The Creative License
Julia Cameron - The Artist Way
Any art and craft book which teaches new techniques
Tony Buzan - The Mind Map Book
Edward De Bono - How to Have a Beautiful Mind

A Happy Creative 2009 To You

Happy 2009,

I hope you have all had a peaceful and happy Christmas and are looking forward to a fresh New Year. I am one of those people who cannot wait to get the Christmas decorations up as early as possible. As soon as new year day arrives though, I cannot wait to pack them away and banish any tinsel from the house. I love starting the New Year basically and I like to start it fresh.

Even with all the talk of doom and gloom (and any small business can simple not ignore that) I believe that having a positive and creative approach will make 2009 a year to enjoy.

It is hard to believe that The Crafty Alley Shop will turn One in March. As we move into our second year we have lots of exciting events, ideas and promotions planned to keep not only ourselves but our customers inspired and creating.

In two weeks time we will launch our new Adult and Junior Workshop schedule. There will be some of the old favourites on the list but plenty of new ideas too.

Also we are now opening our classroom to instructors to use our facilities and run their own classes. This happened informally last year and was a great success. Art teachers and crafters can now rent the room on a half day or full day basis and run their own workshops in their specialised areas. This will open up lots of new workshops for our customers also.

So as we dust of Christmas and clear the way for the New Year we would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued loyalty and support and looking forward to helping you achieve your creative goals in 2009.

If you would like some ideas on how to set these creative goals and make 2009 a year of inspirations and productivity, read my next post where I share some ideas on how to make a start.