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  • Helen English Artist

Listening and hearing...

So, this week marks the start of a new year of blogs. My husband often asks me how I find things to write about and I reminded him of my ability to talk! I also spent this weekend in my new indoor market kiosk which was very exciting as it’s the first time that I have really been face to face with the public in this way. I definitely have learned a lot about what I do by chatting with people about what they are interested in when they look at my corner of the world. I also have found that creative thoughts have started multiplying, which relates to my previous words on finding inspiration.


I am going to build on that thought with what I have decided to call concrete inspiration. “What on earth are you talking about? You may ask. Let me explain.


So, my mind often whirrs with ideas. In my genre, that might be about how I can extend my current watercolour collection of birds into other New Zealand wildlife or how I might develop the design of my bags, adding key loops, zips and other helpful features. I think of these as the cement and sand of my designs but it is other people and the diversity of their thinking that add the shiny pebbles so that, when I add water to the mix and stir, it contains the things which then draws others to it.

These ideas are always out there but your mind needs to be ready to accept other’s suggestions. I speak from experience. In the past, I have often listened to a ‘helpful’ suggestion and not heard it. I have dismissed what others have to say because I feel like they are telling me that what I have is not good enough.


As my confidence as an artist has grown though, I see that other people want to have their ideas heard and that there is much value in diversity. It doesn’t matter what you do. Maybe you work in an office or a store or a café. Maybe you own that business. Maybe you teach or you are a caregiver or a caretaker. When I think back to the very different jobs that I have done in my life it applies to all of them.


Really, other people’s freely given opinion is a straw poll without the cost! Definitely worth hearing. They may not know what you go through to get through the day but their thought may be the difference that makes your life easier or more effective. My mantra now is to hear them, say thank you and write that idea down. Who knows how my ideas will have developed in a year’s time but I thank all of the people that have helped as I create.

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