Guest Emma Liggins

Our guest today is Emma Liggins, who is an intuitive business coach and is going to discuss the impact of energy vampires on creativity. Thank you Emma!

Almost everyone has had a time in their life when they are working on a project and get stuck inside their own head and depending on the deadline or lack there of this can last for hours through to years. This is quite an easy thing to break free from but the problem is you are stuck inside your head and so it becomes overwhelming and impossible to identify the solution through the internal noise that’s going on.

I personally like to define a problem in order to be able to find or create a solution. Defining this problem is likely going to start with something you may never considered before, you see we call this one an energy vampire. 

An Energy vampire is a common term and is generally defined as a person, animal or object that drains energy from its prey. Think friend who is always complaining, narcissistic ex or sitting in Centrelink. We tend to only think of energy vampires as external but they can also be internal.

This is what we are going to talk about today.

The internal energy vampire that is the inner critic!

Now an inner critic can be a good thing and at times you may have found it really helpful, when it assists you with that final tweak or reins in your massive idea to something much more manageable at a certain point in your life. But unfortunately sometimes it is given free rein and it becomes overwhelming and all consuming.

Several years ago I had a client who was an aspiring writer. My client was an exceptional writer and a very talented individual but he was struggling to get words down onto paper. He would spend the day writing and get two and a half pages and then he would come back the next day and cull it back to one. This would have likely still worked ok if he could achieve the two and a half pages regularly. However there would be long periods of time where he would struggle putting down a sentence and then labouring over that until he was satisfied and then he’d move to the next and so on until he had a paragraph. Then he would go over that again removing what he considered not good enough until he was left again with only a sentence or perhaps even no sentence at all only a blank page staring back at him.

This was an inner critic that new no bounds and had effectively taken over my client’s whole creative process and pretty much annihilated it.

So we decided to evict the inner critic!

We used a visualisation technique to walk the critic to the door and politely, or not depending on your mood, ask them to stay outside for a period of time.

Next we created a new behavioural pattern.

Once outside a timer was set for two minutes and the client tasked with writing non-stop during that time. The topic could be anything and in the beginning the client wrote about their pen and then later their desk. And when they could not think what to write, in order to keep writing they wrote ‘I do not know what to write’ over and over.

After doing this exercise for some time the client was then able to apply this behavioural pattern to their writing. First evicting the critic, then setting the timer and finally writing. What they found was once they had started to write for their project it flowed. Even when the timer went off they were able to continue writing and time passed quickly while words filled the page.

By evicting the inner critic for an agreed period of time you can create a new pattern for yourself which can then be applied to your creative work.

Bio
Emma Liggins is a qualified Intuitive Business Coach with a Master of Adult Education, Certificate of Intuitive Wellness Coaching and is completing her last two subjects for a Graduate Diploma of Psychology.
 
Over the last 20 years, Emma has worked in a range of different settings including medical education (both primary and tertiary care), oil and gas (WHS), migrant resettlement and hospitality. Emma has also built two businesses from the ground up, one a massive failure and the other a national/international success. Combining her professional experience with her extensive travel, property development and living in urban and rural Australia and overseas, Emma has significant life experience to guide her clients towards achieving their personal and professional goals.
 
Emma is passionate about Occupational Wellness, supporting and guiding employees, startups and existing business owners to combat limiting beliefs and impostor syndrome through identifying personal genius and recognising challenges as great learning opportunities. Wherever you may be feeling stuck, Emma is able to uncover the endless possibilities available to you and support you in implementing practical achievable actions.

Fox it is!

A while back I asked on my Cultivating Creativity FB page for people to say what I should paint next. A giraffe, a tiger or a fox. It was simply a fun exercise for me and a way for me to extend myself by painting out of my comfort zone. The fox was my least favourite choice to paint, it’s just not an animal I connect with. But I thought perhaps I could give it a go. I thought painting the giraffe could be fun, and the tiger something a little challenging.

Everyone who commented suggested the fox. So, I painted the fox. Twice.

The first attempt I wasn’t at all happy with. I’d grabbed the wrong colour, though crazy colours do work with this technique, I just don’t feel it came together in this instance. I couldn’t get the nose right. It was a warm day and the paint was drying quickly making it tricky to do adjustments. At the end of the session, I just felt that I could do ‘better’ but not that day. about to start

The image I used for inspiration was in colour. I remembered that it should be in black and white in order to see clearly the low, mid and high tones. I copied my print of the fox into black and white. Got together my three favourite colours I like to paint with and I attempted to paint the fox again.

first attempt

I also decided not to try and rush, and gave myself permission to take as long as I needed. This time, it took my half the time to paint the fox. Giving myself as much time as I needed took the pressure off, and helped. Having the image in black and white also made a big difference to see the different tones better. And I’d painted the fox before, so I had some experience to draw on.

This is the first time I’ve gone back and painted the same subject again because I wanted to ‘improve’ the outcome, and my skill set. Because of these benefits I’m even tempted to try to paint the fox for a third time. For now, I’ve got lots of other subjects to paint, so a third re-visit isn’t in the near future, but might happen one time. What I can do, is apply what I’ve learnt here not just to other animal paintings in this style (I’m sure I’ll do the giraffe and tiger at some stage). second attempt

second attempt finished

The painting of the fox serviced a bigger purpose, of also making me more aware of my process, so it has been a good exercise to do. And despite good intentions, creative projects don’t always work out well the first time, and that it all part of the process.

Now, onto the next project! (which is to re-paint a rose!)

foxes painted

A Project Finished~almost!

Doing up this old kitchen cabinet has been a creative project of persistence.

start-of-sanding.jpg

It’s taken three years to get to the point where the cabinet doors are now attached to the old-style kitchen cabinet which I had sanded and painted.

This has been a creative project of persistence. I bought the cabinet over four years ago, ended up moving, then I decided to get started. I bought an electric sander. Paint. Brushes. Wall paper. Sourced hinges, latches, and handles. It took over four weeks to sand it back, and remove the old paint over my summer break. Then painted it, not in enamel paint deliberately. This paint will flake off over time and that’s the look I want.

starting-to-paint.jpg

 

I planned. I took my time. I sourced hinges, and handles. I did this during summer, so some days it was just too hot to work in my garage. My dogs were by my side, laying on the floor (looking rather bored!) while I worked. It was a long-term project. But it wasn’t meant to have gone on for this long.

Kimba helping.jpg

For one reason or another, the step of attaching the doors and handles was being more of a hurdle than I had expected. I had a few false starts, where I tried to organise people to help. Life got in the way. It looked like I wasn’t doing anything about it, but I wanted to, and had tried, but there were other things were needed my attention, and were a priority. I was almost thinking that I might never get this step done. And this would be one of the many craft projects that I haven’t quiet finished.

painting-done.jpg

Finally, I cornered someone to help who delivered. I’m super excited that the doors are attached, and the handles are too. This kitchen cabinet is one step closer to being refurbished in my own unique design. This is the first time I’ve done a project so big – and the last. It’s been fun, but my attention needs to go elsewhere. There’s a limit to how many different crafts I can have on the go!

doors attached and handles

 

First, this projects still needs to be technically finished. The last step is to attach some chicken wire to the side – it’s cut out, and has been for the last three years, I just have to work out how best to attach it! Now, I can focus on this more easily now that the doors are on and so are the handles! Once the wire is secured then it will be finally finished. At least I can still use it in the meantime. And now when I walk past, I feel that little bit more content that it’s closer to being finished. And it’s been worth it.

 

Share a time below when you have taken a long time to finish a project ~ or almost finished a project, and while it might not look like it, you are planning on it, it’s just taking longer than expected.

Ideas Popping

This happens all the time with my writing. Up until about now, not so much with my paintings. I go to classes, do what the task is and that’s it. Until now.

Finally, I’ve got ideas popping like popcorn in my head!

And it’s exciting.

Not only am I learning new techniques, I want to go home and try them on a blank canvas. To add my style to them, to experiment and see what art I can produce. I’ve got one blank canvas ready to go, and I now own an easel, and I have new colours to paint with.

I’m not sure what’s happened. Maybe a certain heat level, has been reached and now the ideas are popping into life in my head? Or I have done (finally) enough basic experience so I can begin to use what I’ve learnt with more confidence A bit of both maybe?

To actually be conscious that this is going on is something, which further inspires me. I can map out my journey because of this; of how I’ve improved and persevered and now I am expanding on my journey of creative painting.

I’ve not managed to find this point when on my writing journey, so I like being able to mark this difference in these creative endeavours. It helps me to be more self-aware of the process, so that I can ensure that I repeat these positives when creating in the future.

Ripping Up My Notebook

As part of art class we’re doing a collage activity. My inner child was inspired and excited, as well as my adult self as I got ready to mix mediums to embark on a more grown up version of a technique I haven’t used since primary school.

I’ve come prepared with tissue paper from home, and have both acrylics and oil paints to use. The brief was to draw a figure and I selected a Victorian looking lady from the pile of images. I’d rather not to have to draw another figure because I find it hard, but I’m inspired so I embraced the task. Victorian Lady

There were stencils to use and I sat thinking what I to include in order to add texture and variety to the background of this rather pensive lady I’d chosen to draw and paint.

Why not use my own words? Written on paper with my fountain pen? My notebook and fountain pen are always in my handbag. Inspired I took them out and turned to the back of my notebook to write words I think will compliment this lady.

writing for artNot once do I think about how I’m going to have to rip out these pages of my notebook ~ one of my rules is not top rip out pages. If I don’t like what I’ve written too bad. It stays, a record in time of a difficult writing day. Right now, I’m too inspired about the canvas I’m working on to even care about this rule.

I want to get the words written, paper ripped up to see what magic I can create on the canvas. Then to see how the colours change, the image forms over the next few weeks. This is the part of creating I love. The experimenting side. The hold my breath stage, maybe it will work out, but maybe it won’t. The time when I have an idea of what I want to do, I’m going along with the journey and the destination could be quite unexpected.

When did you create art which was completely different to what you set out? How did you feel about this? Please share your comments below.

“Blank” Canvas

The first steps in this task of completing a collage, was to add a background colour in acrylics. I only had three tubes of acrylics with me, which limited the colour palette.

I could’ve brought more, but I’d recently purchased some acrylics but had left them at home.

So I decided to make do. And I’m glad I did.

The look was more rustic, perhaps a bit industrial than I was going for (I might actually re-do this background in the future for other projects, there’s a few ideas sparking). This is for a collage. I’m going to build on this first layer. And when I stepped back I could see in my mind’s eye where the next layer might go. Even though this wasn’t the ‘look’ I wanted, it was a start that I could work with and build on. Sometimes it’s better when things don’t go to plan and you are moved by the creative flow and take notice.

When have you started a creative project but it’s not gone to plan? But the result has been better than you had initially planned? Please share in the comments below.

Signature

I’ve taken the step and have signed my painting. Seascape is the first painting I’ve signed! (I’m disregarding the paintings done at school)

It’s long overdue, I have finally signed my most recent painting. It is a big deal. For one, I never felt a painting was feeling finished enough to sign. And two, how was I going to sign my name?

Isn’t it interesting what I was hung up on? What did it matter how I signed my name? As long as I signed it. I thought about writing my initials, or my full name, or a shortened version of my name. Then I realised it didn’t matter.

What mattered was that I took the step to sign my artwork. Because in doing so, I was saying to the world, but more importantly to myself, that I am happy, proud, and content with what I’ve created. And I am just that with this seascape. My signature might change with time, but of course that won’t matter. It’s all part of my development as an artist.

Driven to finally take the step of signing my name on my painting I realised I didn’t know what brush to use. Or what colour. These details do sort of matter. I asked my teacher. The colour didn’t have to be black, but a colour used in the painting. So I used a blue tone. I borrowed the teachers brush. I didn’t have a brush that was thin enough. Then I jumped in. I didn’t practise. I simply signed my name. And I think that it’s the best part of this painting.

I look forward to signing many more paintings.

 

Tinkering

I’ve painted enough to know to try and be mindful of overworking the image. It can be difficult to know when to stop, and consider if the painting is finished or needs to be left for a while. This also applies to tinkering.

When tinkering too much the painting can be changed in way that wasn’t wanted. A bit different to overworking. Tinkering is the adding another bird in the sky, or flower in the field, or apple on the tree, when the painting may well have not needed these extra additions.

The same can happen when writing, and editing. The life of the story can be altered in a way that was unintended. Not a big deal if the result is liked, but it’s a problem if the new direction ends up in a dead-end, or the wrong way. Then it’s a lot more work to get the manuscript back on track.

But when to stop? This is when it’s helpful to check in with yourself and ask question like; is what I’m doing improving the work?

I didn’t do so much tinkering when doing my last painting of a seascape, but it was something the teacher kept mentioning during the class. Stop tinkering! And I got what he was saying. Maybe that’s why I didn’t tinker so much. It’s another tool I can have ready to use when I’m painting. I can even extend this to editing a manuscript. There becomes a point when words are being changed but not necessarily adding to the story. At this point I need to stop tinkering. Leave the project, and either come back later, or consider that it may be as good as it’s going to be and release it into the world.

Stop tinkering! Is now something I’ll have in mind to help guide me through the painting of my next canvas and other creative projects.

Lilliana

Quick Study of Seascape

To start a recent workshop on seascapes, the teacher had participants do a quick study. With only 20 minutes to do the painting, I had no choice but to go with the flow. And to keep it simple.

I learnt that this was a fun way to experiment, and learn. And it will be something I’ll try again at home. This is always a good sign as I’m inspired. Often I don’t get to paint in short time frames like this, normally it’s much longer, and can take months. So it’s also refreshing to do a smaller image in a short time.

Sometimes writing is a long drawn out process. And I can’t map the process like I can when painting a canvas. So to be able to see the stages from start to finish in a short time is exciting. It’s a different creative process for me, which helps to keep me inspired, and ready to try new things, and to experiment. Because it’s also a quick study, if things don’t turn out, then because it’s not taken a huge investment of time, I don’t get hung up on that. I can take what I’ve learnt, and apply it to another study or if I’m happy with my skill set then a canvas.

With this new level of inspiration, and off to get creating. Who knows what I’ll create and learn!

start quick painting  step 2 quick painting.jpg finish quick painting.jpg

 

Seascape

The fine line between not liking your work to being constructive about what you’ve created is important. Actually, it’s important in life as well.

I was reminded of this boundary between my perspective of negativity versus constructive thoughts in regard to a recent workshop on painting seascapes. Not only did I learn how to paint waves I also learnt the value of looking at my work, seeing how I feel about it, by asking myself some questions.

Do I like what I see? Is the painting working? No. What can I do about it? What can I change?

It’s the last two questions which I found particularly helpful. Because the answers gave me positive action to take. By asking these questions, it also prevented me from spiralling down into a puddle of negativity that what I’m doing isn’t good enough.

Why were these questions so valuable?

Not only did the answers help keep my mindset positive but also allowed me to pause and consider how I could improve the painting. The answers gave me a positive focus. And a chance to try something with the intention of progressing the painting.

Whatever I do may not improve the painting (to my liking) but I can keep repeating these questions until I do. Or worse case, if I’ve tinkered too much or overworked the painting, then this becomes a valuable lesson for me to have learnt, which I can apply to the next painting I do.

How did I apply this process to my seascape? The big wave in the centre wasn’t turning crashing over like it is now. It was rolling in a white top across the canvas. This looked a little boring. I wasn’t happy with it.

step 4 seascape.jpg

With the help of the teacher the wave was changed part way across so that it was partly rolling over. It worked. It could’ve easily not have. And if that was the case, then I would’ve tried something else. Or learnt what not to do for the next seascape I painted.

 

Seascape Finished

It’s too easy to get down on your creative project, so it’s a good safety net as such to have process like asking yourself a few questions. “Am I happy with this? No. Then what can I do about it?” Because this can help generate inspiration and ensure the creativity keeps flowing.