When Art Imitates Life

Get Accomplished with Heather

The parallels between drawing and planning deliciously revealed themselves to me at the weekend.  Do your hobbies inspire your work?

I’m a member of a recently formed Watercolour Club where we make art or paint Plein air, (that is outdoors for the uninitiated!)

This month we went to this little place in the middle of nowhere in the French countryside called Les Jardins Secret.  I know why they call it the secret garden, you’d never in a million years find it unless you knew it was there!

It’s the most incredible place, it’s not that big but it’s absolutely full of handcrafted walls, buildings, and decorations created by a family over a period of 40 years, not to mention the abundance of beautiful plants and flowers with an array of scents and colors.

They’ve done an abundance of woodturning and carving, both decorative and functional, they’ve created their own lime-based cement and built walls, water fountains and created tiles. They’ve laid stone mosaic floors, they’ve crafted copper and glass decorations, it’s really something that has to be seen to be believed.

There is such an abundance of things to see left, right, centre and everywhere you look.   I’ve been there several times over the years and every time it surprises and delights me.  We decided to start with a cup of mint tea and a crêpe whilst we discussed our plan of action. 

We decided to walk all around the whole garden before choosing a place to settle to make our art. As we split off to look around it quickly became quite overwhelming, because from any place in the garden you could’ve created 100 different paintings. There’s just so much to see and take in. I actually found myself becoming anxious and jittery because I couldn’t decide where to sit.  The overwhelm was real.

I decided to go back and find my friend who is an art teacher so that she could talk me down from this wobble. I stopped myself when I realised I could talk myself down from the wobble! This is what I help others with all the time.  I help people who are overwhelmed by all the possibilities to get clear, get calm and take action!  It’s good to be reminded about how your clients may be feeling from time to time!  I remember when I used to feel like that constantly!  With so much to do in my business, I didn’t know where to start!

So I took some deep breaths and thought about what I wanted to achieve.  It’s the process that’s most important to me, not the outcome. So, how could I make the process easy, comfortable and good feeling?

For me, an introvert, it was important to be somewhere quiet with fewer people. So, I was looking for seating that wasn’t on the main thoroughfare, but also undercover because it was threatening rain.

I also wanted to find something without toooooo much detail.  The sheer abundance of wonderful things was causing me the overwhelm, so I was looking for something which stood out from all the detail.  

One of the first things we noticed on entering the gardens was the contrast of the decorative roofs. There were many, against the moody grey sky.   

I found a sheltered place to sit within a small courtyard garden filled with white cosmos flowers as tall as me and looked up.  There was a beautiful Balinese-looking roof, topped with decorative copper weather veins like birds.  It gave me a place to start with a solid outline.  I took out my pencil and paper and decided to draw, concentrating on just one thing – the roof.

The longer I sat and drew, the more detail revealed itself to me.

When I first looked at the birds all I could see was themselves. However, when I went to actually draw them, I realised that their tails were made up of six separate circles, inspired by peacocks possibly?

As I drew the detail on the roofing I suddenly noticed that there was another set of roofs behind! I’d had no awareness of then!  These roofs had love birds on them. It wasn’t until I actually began to draw that I realised their tails were made of hearts.  So cute!

Often I’d draw a line and realise that its relationship to my existing drawing didn’t work, it was too close, too far, or not at the right angle, so I would rub it out and have another go.

I found it fascinating how new layers of information made themselves available to me. The longer I sat and looked and observed, the more I discovered.  The roofs which had started as black triangles against a grey sky revealed all manner of detail. They were lovingly handcrafted by the family over the years.

I became totally lost in time AND detail!  I must have sat for ninety minutes drawing and only completed two-thirds of the drawing before we left.  It was a totally wonderful meditative experience.

The process of creating this drawing reminded me so much of planning and the planning and implementation process. 

When we first create our plan our brains and senses can only process a certain amount of information. We create a plan from our current awareness. Then as we move through time, implementing the plan, more information becomes available to us. We can then add to the original plan, take things out, or course correct relative to the original plan. It’s just like drawing!

The very first plan we make, is unlikely to be exactly what happened when we look back,  just as what I saw first when I began drawing, was not what appeared on the page during that ninety minutes.  The plan or drawing will always grow. It will develop and evolve as we spend time with it. Be open to what becomes apparent to us as we move forward. 

So why bother with a plan if you know you’re not going to stick to it?  

Oooh, for so many reasons!!!

It gives you a solid basis to start. Also, it gives you a framework with which to gather the information, knowledge, and wisdom you already have and distill it into a workable, doable, good-feeling action.  

It provides you with a place to record new information and wisdom as it arises. It can be in business metrics, mindset or energy shifts, something you’ve learned on a course, programme, workshop, video, or through a friend or colleague. You can see where it fits into your current plan and vision.  

It enables you to have a clearer idea about what is a shiny object and what is really going to move your business and/or life forward. Because of that, you can learn to be appropriately flexible in incorporating new ideas into your plan.  Also, it encourages you to have better boundaries, allows you to prioritise, and focus and spurs you to ask yourself great questions about your business, life, and progress.  It teaches you to be more realistic. Additionally, to have more self-compassion. It encourages you to celebrate yourself and your accomplishments, it gives your more free time and enables you to get more done!

Can you tell how much I love planning and the freedom and momentum it brings to me and my clients?

Every moment of every day is an opportunity to create a new plan, piggybacking on the last plan that we made.

My clients and I create a new robust plan every quarter. Throughout the quarter, we are open to examining the new information. It comes to us and we decide mindfully whether we need to change the plan, or ignore a shiny object and stick with the current plan.  

If you’d like help with creating your plan and developing your planning and implementation process, or just to chat about planning, book a call or send me an email.  I have a small group and one-to-one packages of varying lengths to suit where you are right now in business and in life.

A photo of the roofs described in the article