Flowers in Mixed Media – Holistic Art Workshop – Bliss!

Flowers in Mixed Media – Holistic Art Workshop – Bliss!

People always say you should be kind to yourself, I’m not sure any of us really know how to do that but every once in a while an opportunity presents itself and you know by doing it, you are ticking that box. I am not talking about a week in Monart (although that would be marvellous) but I’m talking about looking after yourself and in this case giving your art practice and creative self a gift. 10 days ago, a fantastic chance arose for me and I was able to attend a one day holistic art workshop run by Aine Divine and her sister Eileen .

Aine, of Sky Art’s Portrait Artist of the Year fame, is a really talented Irish artist living in Scotland and you can check out her work at The day started with Eileen leading the 9 participants in a Chakra Tai Chi session to clear our minds and set us up for the day ahead. I’ve never practiced Tai Chi but I can see why a billion Chinese love it – what a super way of just grounding yourself and getting you into the ‘now’, something I definitely struggle with.

Aine paints flowers beautifully and had two still life arrangements set up for us to work from. The whole ethos behind the day was to relax and have fun. It was demonstration led commencing with Aine showing us how she would begin to tackle the still life. She works with the principle that you can make a wild goose tame but you can not make a tame goose wild, throw paint at the canvas, use rags, credit cards, your hands whatever you like to create interesting and thoughtful mark making. She also encouraged the use of collage to give a dept to the work.

Of course you need to stay true to what you are looking at but be free with the paint. I loved this approach and as you can see from the photos above I embraced it fully! On this subject Aine says, “True and faithful observation of the subject is for me a beautiful foundation for our painting. With this in mind I am committed to helping you convey the shapes, tones and colours you see with conviction  and confidence. It is my life’s work to be attentive to what is in front of me. I am passionate to pass on the joy that can be found in observing – really observing – with deep curiosity, then selecting what’s important and committing to the mark. It is this rhythm of seeing, deciding and committing that I revel in and that I encourage in my workshops.”

Something else to think about and relevant to any style, is to have a clear ‘runway’ to your easel so you can walk back and forward keeping your body, and in turn your work, loose. This allows you to keep standing back from your work with ease, taking in the full vista and giving you a clear indication of where you need to go next. So much of your mark making is influenced by confidence. If you are really ‘filling’ the space the confidence comes, just think of the wonder woman stance!

The day continued with one to one tuition from Aine and a further demonstrations on how to start to tame the wild goose. As Cezanne put it, the elements in your painting should hold hands and come up together.  After lunch we had another session with Eileen, this time in the garden in the shade of a 200 year old walnut tree. This one was more boisterous that the morning session and included us shouting to release any negative energy – what a great feeling! And in case that wasn’t enough we were also given the chance to get a ten minute massage from Eileen throughout the afternoon – bliss.

                                  Group Shot!

When it comes to the finished piece I produced, I have to say I am really happy. It is not my usual style of work but I love what it represents. While far from perfect, it has taken pride of place on my studio wall as it acts as a constant reminder to relax, have fun and above all be kind to myself.

So what are the ten things I learnt (or was reminded of)..

  1. Gesso applied with a roller to mounting board gives a lovely (and pretty cheap) surface to work on.
  2. Collage is a really interesting way of adding depth to a piece of work.
  3. Fully occupy your space – 99% of it is confidence.
  4. As your painting develops – mix between detailed and looser work – keep yourself interested.
  5. Keep standing back from your work.
  6. Use whatever is around you for interesting mark making; rags, sponges, credit card, your hands etc.
  7. Use your artistic licence but only if it makes sense – not as an excuse.
  8. Shouting under the shade of a tree with 10 other people is weirdly calming.
  9. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
  10. Have Fun!

Aine is back in November doing another workshop and details of this can be found using the link below. If you get the chance, go along – you won’t regret it 🙂

Aine in full swing giving feedback



Aine’s demonstration of the wild goose style!


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