As I sit here in a huge jumper with the rain lashing at the windows I can’t help but allow a little smile to creep across my face. I was pondering why exactly I relish the Autumn season so much this morning in as I taught my Sketchbook Club class and one of my students enlightened me by asking - when were you born? I realised that as a late August baby its perhaps only natural that this is one of my favourite seasons. Gone is the skimpy summer wear and bare (mighty white) legs of summer - time to bring the focus inward, light the fire and as my mum always used to say- if you’re cold, put another jumper on!
If you, like me, are inspired by this bountiful harvest time, you’ll no doubt find plenty of rich pickings in our Autumn menu. If not, I have a few ideas on how to stay bright when it all gets a bit cold and breezy. This has to be the best time of the year for creativity as the weather outside gives us the perfect excuse to take a brisk walk before to popping the kettle on and settling down for some mindful making.
Ready for a slow down? Here’s a few of my tips to help you connect to the beauty of this wonderful season…
Take a Photo-walk..
Last Thursday I was delighted to be invited back to the ‘woods’ for a mindful photography workshop in collaboration with The Salt Box. We used their stunning site on the Priory Farm Estate to inspire us slow down and notice the small things. If you missed it, don’t worry, we’ve got plenty more in store for you this season - but here’s a taste of my photography as meditation workshop:
Close your eyes and focus your mind
If you close your eyes, just for a few moments, in any situation (not whilst driving please!) it gives both eyes and mind a rest and can help you to re-calibrate. Take is as a CTRL ALT DELETE for your brain. Whilst they are closed, give yourself a few creative boundaries for ‘looking’. Use your mind to help you tune into your surroundings before you even reach for the shutter. You can try simply looking for texture, or for pattern, choose one colour and notice where it repeats around you, look for patches of light and the shadows that fall around them. You might also like to try limiting yourself to a small amount of captures. Pick a number - 10 to 20 - that’s probably PLENTY for a photo-walk. Next time you’re taking a tootle in the woods try this and let me know how you get on!
Make a wreath
Wreaths are by no means just for Christmas! There is plenty of inspiration on the hedgerows right now and forage from gardens to be gathered! September offers up a wealth of colour and texture so there’s plenty to adorn your door! This season we’re delighted to have teamed up with Renee aka the Girl Who Gardens to bring this idea to the studio. We’ll be making moss and wire bases for our wreaths (which are so much more planet-friendly than the traditional florist foam) and then filling them to the brim with forage. You might even be able to ‘wreath cycle’ your base for your Christmas one! There’s still time to join us this Sunday 28th September / 10:30 to 12:30 to learn how to make a beautiful Hedgerow Wreath. Click here to get involved, all forage included!
Pop down to Polesden
You may remember that this summer we contributed to a sculpture project at Polesden Lacey. Although it was a fab idea, we realised that it was probably a job for a professional sculptor and so the team there recruited an artist from Devon to create their vision of sculptures that reflected the change in season and could also serve as ‘leaf collecting’ vessels. The idea is that families and kids can get involved with helping the gardeners keep on top of clearing the leaves this season. So get on down there and get involved - its good for the soul to engage in these seasonal activities!
Learn to Knit
As a young sprout, I tried countless times to master the basics of knitting - to the tune of many an exasperated sigh from old granny green! Whatever I did, I got my knickers in a right twist and my wool in a terrible tangle and as a result I didn’t touch anything knitting related for well over a decade or lets face it - two! Cue new knitting tutor Sarah North and her Knit Yourself Calm Course. Earlier this year, over 6 sessions (spaced out nicely once a fortnight so we had time to knit in between) square by square, row by row, Sarah FINALLY got me going. And once I started, I did not stop. Every boring netflix series, every sit down (even when I nipped home at lunchtime) I knitted! And every time I sat down to knit, after a few rows, I’d let out a little sigh.
Well because it turns out you can actually knit yourself calm given right guidance and a good (no offence granny g) teacher! After the initial alarm we all go through when learning something new, it just clicked. And once it clicks it is probably the most relaxing pass-time I’ve ever known. Not only that, I now have a stunning blanket, that has grown steadily, to curl up under during this tricky time when the boys are hawking over the thermo. All I can say is give it a go! Knit Yourself Calm with us!
Give something back
They say charity begins at home, but mine’s a bit messy since my dear partner in crime decided to go free-lance too so we’ve decided the studio is probably a better fit for our fundraising coffee morning for Macmillan this Friday 27th September / 10:00 to 11:30! We’ll be offering tea, coffee and cakes plus the chance to catch our Print-making expert Paul Wye sharing some nuggets of insight into the daily life of an artist teacher.
Paul will be bringing along a selection of his sketchbooks and an array of his print and sculpture work for you to peruse. He’ll talk about his journey as both artist and teacher and will be offering a demo on Paper lithography (creating vibrant prints from photo-copied drawings and photographs).
If you’ve never visited the studio before, or you’d like to come along and support this important cause, just drop us an RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s a free event, (although there will be a chance to make a contribution or buy a cake!) so we just let us know if you’re coming so we can save you a seat. We’d love to see you there!
Learn something new
We’re ever so happy that the world has caught up with us on the impact of Calligraphy on well-being. We know that our students find a sense of ‘flow’ in our workshops and that time seems to evaporate as they concentrate all their attention on the up and the down-strokes and on remembering to breathe as they do so. As I’ve mentioned many times in this post - learning something new can be the most challenging and yet the most rewarding thing you can do for you. Once you get over the starting blocks, the thrill at building a new skill is second to none. If you’ve yet to dip your toe into the world Calligraphy I’d recommend giving Brush Lettering a go. The pen we provide doubles up as a drawing tool and the starter kit of worksheets we supply gives ample opportunity to continue to practice. With Christmas just around the corner this is the perfect time to brush up on your lettering!
Ok, so its getting dark now - as it will do day by day from here on out, so its probably time for me to wrap up this little post, don my raincoat and attempt the swim home from the studio ;) But I’ll leave you with these thoughts:
There’s no such thing as ‘bad weather’ - weather is just weather, we can choose to dance in the rain or see it as a pain, its a choice!
Autumn is prime time for cuddles - summer is too sticky for that - and so make sure you find time for lots of these with your nearest and dearest
Change your habits, change your life. Make a habit of making time just to be or to do the things that light you up! Bake a cake, take a walk, talk to someone you’ve been missing deep down, join a class, write a diary. Whatever it is, shine a little bit of light back on you as the days darken and you’ll feel a little bit lighter and brighter as a result. Time is our most valuable resource - claim some back!
Wishing you a gentle start to the new season,
Ellie (SAS Founder)