Beginning a Creative Project

Episode Focus: Taking Risks and Maintaining Focus

Creativity:  What creative projects give us: The freedom of psychological safety nets

Mindfulness: The art of single-tasking

Podcast chats: Kapiti Coast artist Julie Davidson and Work and Life Coach Leigh Johnson

Things I’ve referenced in this episode:

More on creative projects as psychological safety-nets.

More on the art of single-tasking.

Listen and subscribe to the podcast below

Podcast chat with Julie Davidson

Julie is a Kapiti artist, specialising in Fine Art and photography. She is a qualified teacher, running art classes and  is highly experienced in her field. Her attention to detail makes her work unique and she particularly enjoys capturing animals and bird life in her work. She undertakes Fine Art commissions and also specialises in wedding and engagement photography.

Find out more about Julie on her website: juliedavidsonfinearts.com

Can’t listen to the podcast? Here’s an abbreviated transcript of our chat.

Jordan: Julie, welcome to the podcast. You’ve got an amazing collection of talents. You’re a fine artist and illustrator and a photographer based here on the Kapiti Coast. What was your journey to being here? 

Julie:  When I was about 11 years old, my Mum and Dad gifted me a Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck book. And the centrefold used shapes to create the characters. It was the first point in understanding that art is like a jigsaw puzzle that each of the pieces have to fit.

And it doesn’t really matter what sort of style you’re doing. At the end of the day, it’s still got to come together like a jigsaw and it’s still got to have the balance, the contrast, the colours to use next to each other.

So from my first understanding, that shapes create – that’s when the art grew.

After school, I would have liked to have gone to art college. But my lack of confidence in myself led me to working at a bank, working at an insurance company. But every time I went into a job like that, things went wrong. I broke equipment. It just didn’t gel. I got glandular fever. And the universe went, ‘No, that is not what you going to do.’

So then I did a portrait for someone. And somebody saw that portrait and commissions started to come in. I was back on the right path. And through my love of animals and conservation, I became a wildlife artist and I had my first exhibition at the Kultan Craig Theatre in Stevenage, Hertfordshire. And it was successful. And then people asking when when is your next exhibition? And then it kind of grew.

Jordan: It’s interesting, you seem quite attuned to that kind of that universal direction. The nudges that you get whenever you step off. 

Julie Definitely. I’m not religious, but I am spiritual. And I do believe that there’s things in your life when you’re on the journey, coincidences or not coincidences that guide you.

Jordan: You’ve explored a number of different creative styles. You’ve specialised in photorealism for a long time. And you’ve more recently started exploring surrealism. What are the two different styles to you? And do you have to be in a different head space to do each one?

Julie: The photorealism for me, that particular style, was my apprenticeship. Learning about light and learning about composition, balance all the design elements and principles, learning that along the way, on the way, instinctively knowing what’s right and what’s wrong, honouring the animal that you are capturing. But I think everybody goes on through life as a child. We listen to people around us. We’re influenced by our environment. We’re influenced by whanau. Then you reach a point in life where you want something more. So for me, the art evolved. 

Jordan: What do you think are some of the more challenging aspects of being an artist?

Julie Never doubt yourself. The biggest obstacle on your journey and everything that you do is the fear factor. Fear of success. Fear of failure. I’ve been down that road. Don’t do it! Think positive. When you ask somebody for feedback, go to a trusted source. Go to somebody that you know that will give constructive criticism. Someone that will help you retain that positive energy. 

Jordan: You also  teach. Do you see are common hurdles for people that are looking to kind of develop their creativity?

Julie: When students come to me tell me that they will never be as good as me,  I tell them: ‘Hey, you’re going to have your own style. Don’t copy me. Be yourself, develop something. I can give you the tools, I can show you what to do, but don’t model your art or my art, take bits of it, but go out out there and produce produce something from you’.

Jordan: Beautiful, wonderful tips there. Julie, thank you so much.

Julie [00:26:30] You’re most welcome. Thank you for inviting me.

Podcast chat with Leigh Johnson

Leigh is a Work and Life coach.  She and her husband had a successful recruitment business for 30 years, but a series of painful events in her life triggered a long, deep depression. She spent  the next six years drawing on all her strengths and experience to create a pathway to recovery. Today Leigh is a blogger, ‘Nani’, fly fisher, and adventurer and lives her dream at the beach. Find out more about Leigh on her website: leighjohnsonnz.com

Can’t listen to the podcast? Here’s an abbreviated transcript of our chat.

Jordan: Welcome to the podcast, Leigh. You’re a work and life coach for women, you have a mindfulness practice, and you’ve also recently volunteered at a Te Moata Retreat centre during a seven day mindfulness retreat. I think it sounds lovely, but I think it would be hard for most people to not talk for seven days. How did you find it? 

Leigh: It’s very relaxed. You’re not spending hours and hours in meditation . So you can write, read, walk in the bush. So you can find other ways to process the thoughts or the feelings  that you have. The  first time was harder but the second time I went, I really loved the silence. I didn’t want it to stop! So it’s worth it. 

Jordan: Did you do you find that when you don’t talk, you start to tune in to your other senses more?

Leigh: Absolutely, and also turn to observations of nature. And also just being able to observe my thoughts. Sometimes just letting things be (as opposed to letting them go) can be quite a departure. 

Jordan: Amazing. Some of the things are important to you are things like living authentically, seeing possibilities and giving our self permission to live differently. What do you mean when you say give ourselves permission to live differently?

Leigh: To live differently is, firstly, is about self care. As women we’re not so good at that. Women of a certain age, we’ve been brought up to put others first. Be a good mother, be a good wife, a good person, a good friend. But what about putting yourself first? The second thing is about being aware of living by other people’s expectations  – or what we think are other people’s expectations. Half the time we don’t really know what their expectations are – they may not even care!  And certainly it’s our own expectations. I  went through a stage in my late 30s where I hadn’t lived up to any of my expectations, I didn’t have a relationship, I didn’t have money. I didn’t have a career. And then one day it came to me – where the hell did those expectations come from? They came from my upbringing, my family, my surroundings. And I just wanted to let them go and create some new expectations for myself. 

Jordan: Beautiful. Now, last question for you; if you had one golden tip for women on how to incorporate self care into their lives, what would it be?

Leigh: Baby steps! This is something that I have talked about a lot in the book I wrote called ‘She Loves Life Over 50’. Often I find that the women that I work with are in their mid-life and are stuck. We’re stuck in a place and can’t quite work out how to get to the next point. But if you take one baby step you are getting from where you were, towards something. And that is so much better than not making any movement at all.

Jordan: That’s a great tip and something that everyone can do. Leigh, thank you so much for joining us and enjoy the rest of the road trip that you’re currently on.

Leigh: Thank you. We will do. Thank you.

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