Speaker 0 00:00:00
Hi, sweet friend. Welcome back to the Calm and Creative Podcast. In today’s episode, my guest is Samantha Barnes. Samantha is an artist of nearly 30 years living in the uk, and she has a deep love of observational drawing. In our conversation, we chat about the benefits of having a drawing practice as well as addressing the different negative self-talk that we may encounter whenever we are trying to do something new or unfamiliar. So if you’ve ever thought or said to yourself, oh, I don’t know how to draw, I can’t draw. This episode is for you. Hi, sweet friend. Welcome to the Come and Creative Podcast. This is a podcast for artists and creatives of all backgrounds who seek to build a resilient mindset. Together we’ll dive into all things mindfulness and mental health as they relate to a creative journey. We’ll explore different tools and tips that can help us cultivate a more resilient and positive perspective on life. I’m Volta. I’m an author, a watercolor and animation artist, and the founder of Color Snack. I’m so happy that you’re here feeling stressed. I got you sweet friend. I created a free resource just for you. It’s five creative exercises that you can do anytime, anywhere. To tap into a moment of calm, you can access the resource on my website, color snack.com/calm. And again, that’s color snack.com/calm, c a l m. Alright, Sam, welcome to the Calm and Creative Podcast. I’m so happy that you’re here,
Speaker 2 00:02:01
<laugh>. It’s lovely to be here and lovely to meet you too, Volta.
Speaker 0 00:02:06
So, Sam, I stumbled upon you so we are truly like Instagram friends because I just completely randomly stumbled upon one of your videos that discussed the idea of doing a morning drawing practice. And I would love for our listeners to learn more about this concept and any tips that you have in sharing as to why this is beneficial for us.
Speaker 2 00:02:34
Of course, of course. So I, when I come up to my studio in the morning, whether it’s been, I haven’t been in the studio for two or three days or one day or two weeks or whatever, you come to it thinking, well, I don’t know what I’m doing. What am I supposed to be doing? Well, I don’t know. Very rarely do you pick up your brushes and go in. So I started this morning drawing practice, which is just about getting your arm moving, getting your eyes opening, and just kind of getting into the, the day. And I thought, okay, well this is working really well for me, so why don’t I share it on Instagram, these little practice. And they’ve been really, really well received. And I think the thing that’s really important is that they’re all exercises that I use every day in my practice, in my studio to get me going to kind of get us all awakened and ready for the day ahead. But you can actually do them at any time of the day. You certainly don’t have to do it in the morning.
Speaker 0 00:03:36
Yeah. Okay. That’s, that’s, I I wanted to ask that. ’cause you know, I, I think some people might wonder, well what if I don’t have time to do it in the morning? Yeah. Can I still, can I still enjoy this practice <laugh>?
Speaker 2 00:03:47
Absolutely. I mean, when my children are young, I would not have had a Scooby of a chance to do this <laugh>. There’s no way too busy running after shoes and getting them in the car to go to school. No, any time of the day. So I say morning drawing, what I mean is starter drawing. This is your starter drawing. So if you have, I don’t know, five minutes waiting for the bus, or you have a few minutes when you are waiting for something, then drawing is something you can pick up so easily. And that’s why I really absolutely love drawing myself, but also why I really encourage it for sort of health and wellbeing really, because it’s so accessible.
Speaker 0 00:04:30
Oh my goodness. That’s, that’s, and I’m such a huge fan of anything that helps us tap into, you know, that moment of calm. And I feel like having a tool, I guess like what are some tools that you recommend something that’s super accessible, I’m guessing, what are your go-tos for for that,
Speaker 2 00:04:48
For materials? Do you know? A pen, pencil and pen is so universal, but actually not even that, ER, you don’t even need that. You, you need the back of an envelope and a Biro, you just doodling is drawing any sort of, drawing any tools you’ve got to hand you can use. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I’m once did a workshop where we used old makeup.
Speaker 0 00:05:12 Oh, I love that. Because
Speaker 2 00:05:15
I didn’t want people to go out and kind of feel like they have to buy things. But yeah, what I always do in my workshops is just to say, listen, any paper you have to hand, any drawing tool you have to hand is good enough. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But then I always sort of follow it with the next time you deserve, you wanna buy yourself a treat or you have a birthday coming up, then some cartridge paper and a two B pencil is brilliant. Okay.
Speaker 0 00:05:41
Yeah. Wonderful. And what would be your advice to someone who says, well, I understand, you know, there’s a benefit to to drawing and doing this practice, but what if they say, I can’t draw.
Speaker 2 00:05:54
I know, I know, I know Annette. I come across that so often. The thing is that we tell ourselves that we can’t draw. Actually if you can sign your name, you can draw. I remember an artist writing that once before. I can’t think of the life of me who it was, but I’ve never agreed with anything so much in my life. If you can write your name, if you can do your signature, then you can draw. It’s really one of those things that we absolutely tell ourselves and we hide behind every possible, I don’t know, reason not to do it. My sister was the Artie one, my art teacher told me I was rubbish. We pull them right out of the box of tricks, <laugh> and all, all they are volta. All those thoughts are just from fear. And fear actually is our friend. ’cause our fear is just trying to keep us safe.
Speaker 2 00:06:51
Oh, our fear doesn’t want to do anything that might put us in an uncomfortable position, make us feel vulnerable. So it kind of spits out the computer of our fear and spits out all these thoughts of, no, no, no, I can’t do that. I can’t possibly, oh my goodness, no way. But actually what you can do in a really good trick to that is just to acknowledge it and almost kind of thank your fear and say, well thank you so much for caring. I really, really appreciate that. But actually you know what? I’ve got this one and I’m just gonna turn you down a bit. And so I think those fears are very, very valid. They’re really valid. But with the exercises that I teach particularly, we are all about giving our brain our mind something else to think about whilst our hands and our eyes get on with the job. Mm-hmm. Because they know what they’re doing. They know what they’re doing, they’re following the shape, they’re quite happy drawing. It’s only the mind that gets involved with a load of negative chatter.
Speaker 0 00:07:54
Yeah. Oh my God. And I love this reframe of fear as not something that we should even like fight against. Because the more you fight something, the more it persists. Like it, it just like stays there. But if we’re, if we’re like approaching it lovingly, like you said, treating it like a friend, because
Speaker 2 00:08:13
I think you’re right. I think, I mean I’m 52 now, so I’ve been around the block a few times. <laugh>, as we would say over here. And I think in my thirties I came across that somebody, I read it in a book or somebody said, you know, actually fear is your friend. Mm. And that was a real game changer for me to think, actually, I’m not on my knees through this now. I can see it as a kind of instant mechanism. Okay. So it’s my, my fear that’s telling me not to run down the high street wearing a bikini in January, <laugh>. But, but actually if I chose to, I still could. I could say thank you very much, but still got this. So fear doesn’t have to stop us. It just needs, I always think of it as a bit of an angry cat. Oh <laugh>. You can reassure it and say, you know, thank you so much. But why don’t you go and sit on the sofa and I’ll just do a little drawing over here. <laugh>.
Speaker 0 00:09:08
You know, Sam, I love cats. So this analogy is like, it just hit hitting me right in the heart. <laugh> <laugh>
Speaker 2 00:09:15
A really angry cat that all it really wants is some love <laugh>.
Speaker 0 00:09:18
Yeah. Oh, I love that so much. So Sam, how, how long have you been a practicing artist and could you share a little bit about how you got started? Like what was there like a specific moment in time that inspired you?
Speaker 2 00:09:33
Well, I’ve been practicing now for 30 years, nearly 30 years. So obviously in that sort of amount of time there’s been a lot of incarnations. And I have been a once gallery owner that was really interesting working with other artists and selling their work. I loved selling their work. Actually it was the kind of death of my own work for a few years though, because I was so busy. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it was really, really good fun. But I think I, I just loved drawing. My mum was a typist at one point, and this was before PCs or anything like that. I mean, that really is so funny. But she would just rain down paper from this typewriter if she’d made a mistake, would come out the typewriter and go on the floor and my sister and I would scrap to get the piece of paper to draw on.
Speaker 2 00:10:23
And so I think drawing has always been something fluid for me. I really wasn’t academic. I really didn’t en enjoy school. I loved sixth form, but I think it was something to do with just understanding the world a little bit differently. ’cause I was older, but drawing was something that was just something I loved doing and I felt sort of comfortable doing. And obviously you kind of leave it at times and go into other areas and do different things, but I think it’s just something that I, I really wasn’t much good at anything else, to be honest with you.
Speaker 0 00:11:02
Wow. That is so wonderful that you’ve stuck with this practice for so long. It’s very inspiring to hear that.
Speaker 2 00:11:09
Yeah. And I think there are so many times that you just think, right, this is utter rubbish. Why am I doing this? I cannot, oh my goodness. And I have got jobs alongside when I’ve needed to. Of course. Yeah. But some things always come along. Some things always come along just when you’re about down tools. Mm-hmm.
Speaker 0 00:11:29 <affirmative>,
Speaker 2 00:11:30
Something has always come along where I’ve thought, yeah. You know what actually, okay, well we’ll get onto this little bit here and we’ll get onto this little bit here. And life events have kind of strengthened my practice, if you like. Yeah.
Speaker 2 00:11:45
And I think a really good example of this is actually when I had my children. So I didn’t have the time to be spending, having a lovely time thinking in my studio about my next piece. Suddenly it was like tiny kids and they were, were completely, uh, wonderful, but totally bionic. And actually I set my drawing board up in the home and I had probably about four or five minutes of peace and quiet. And that’s when my drawing got really, um, simple. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> because I literally had five minutes at my drawing board before the children would want something. So I knew I had to make that five minutes work. And from that my hand became much more concise and the drawing became much more fast and fluid. ’cause I could, I didn’t have time to think. Yeah. So in many ways that was a, that was many the making of my hand. I think actually
Speaker 0 00:12:44
That’s such an interesting perspective in, I feel like a lot of people that might be, you know, drawn to the creative side and maybe if they’re not a full-time artist, they may think, oh, well you must have all the time in the world to create absolutely <laugh>. And the truth of the matter is, like, as artists, we also run a business. And that, that’s, there’s like time dedicated to that too. Absolutely. But also like the idea of having constraints can also actually help us with our creativity. ’cause like if you think, oh, if I had a whole day to just paint the entire time, and then when you get to it, you’re like, oh, I don’t know what to do. <laugh>.
Speaker 2 00:13:23
Yes. You’re so right. I’m very often giving ourselves those restrictions are fantastic. So a couple of brilliant things to do when you sit down to draw and you maybe haven’t done any drawing for a long while, is it’s all very well to set up your kind of jug and a couple of flowers or anything like that and think, well, hey, brilliant, I’m off. But your negative chatter can run a mock. So it is a good, good idea to kind of set yourself a timer on your phone of say, two minutes or one minute or 30 seconds and quickly just get the bones down within that time. Or to draw with your opposite hand or any of these kind of tricks. A, a single line drawing a, a blind contour drawing they call it, where you are not looking at necessarily what it is you are producing. You are just getting your hand moving. Mm-hmm. And I think these restrictions are fantastic at getting the stuff out of you.
Speaker 0 00:14:23
Yeah. Oh, these are all like wonderful tips. And what if someone says, oh, I don’t know what to paint. You mentioned flowers, but what if, like, for example, someone’s like, well, I don’t have any flowers. Yeah. Do you have any tips for other
Speaker 2 00:14:38
Absolutely. My darling. So Google is our friend. There is nothing wrong in thinking, I really love Delphi’s. I’m gonna find one online and draw it from that. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, likewise, the TV is great to draw from. You may not particularly love drawing figures, but it’s fabulous that it’s there and you can draw from it anytime. Yeah. I think it’s not what you are drawing, it’s the fact you are drawing. And I think you find your eye from drawing. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you find your eye. So I’m looking out the window now and I can see a garden chair and a couple of things out there. And I’m thinking, right, if I drew that, that’s fine. If I drew some flowers that are here, that would be great. Now by doing those two drawings, what would I most enjoy? Did I enjoy drawing the garden bench or did I enjoy, enjoy doing the flowers and that then indicates what I next draw. Do you see what I mean? So it’s very much by doing, it’s not thinking, it’s not putting up any barriers. It’s just about here’s a piece of paper, here’s a pen off I go. Yeah.
Speaker 0 00:15:46
Oh, I love that. And I think it’s so important to keep in mind that we just have to start whatever it it could be. Yeah. Starting that hand motion can help us. Yeah. Get out of our heads and absolutely. Focus and, and write what’s in front of us. You’re
Speaker 2 00:16:01
So right. And once you are over that, you’ve very, very quickly gain confidence very quickly, very quickly gain confidence. And once that confidence is raised, then you find your flow. You lose yourself. You might have a podcast, or I’m an absolute avid audiobook listener. I listen to all the time. And there’s nothing better in the world than just drawing away, listening to something, listening, spoken word, listening to music, and just that is mindful meditation that is flow. That place where you are just totally lost and engaged in what you’re doing. Drawing isn’t a very, I is an immediate access to it.
Speaker 0 00:16:47 Yeah.
Speaker 2 00:16:48
And yes. And I just think it’s so important to kind of just as we sort of talk to the angry cat of our fear, also, when you finish your drawing, imagine you are talking to a very dear friend. Don’t kind of look at your drawing and go, oh, well that was rubbish. We could remember, imagine you’re talking to a friend thinking, well, you know, you did really well there, you know, you that bit worked really well. Okay, this might need a little bit more, but just imagine you’re talking to a friend. Hmm.
Speaker 0 00:17:18
Oh, that is so beautiful. And actually I love that you mentioned that because that, that was gonna be my next question is how do we help someone who’s feeling maybe judgmental towards like, how do we ease that judgment? And I think what you said is just perfect, is treating it, talking it to, to a dear friend that you wouldn’t be mean to <laugh>.
Speaker 2 00:17:38
I think you, you’re absolutely right. It is about that. Talk to yourself as you would a dear friend, because we are, we as humans are so horrible to ourselves. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>,
Speaker 0 00:17:47 If we
Speaker 2 00:17:47
Stop and, you know, if we were to actually sat down and sit down and transcribe some of the things that we say to each other, then we’d have a bit of a shock, I think. And I was queen of that. I would give myself such a hard time. But now I recognize that again, that negative chatter is from a place of fear. It’s a place of kind of putting yourself down all the time. And actually our time on planet Earth is about pushing ourselves up. It’s not about putting ourselves down. There are, there’s other people to do that if you want <laugh>, but if you give them permission to do that, which most of us don’t, so why do we let ourselves do it? Oh,
Speaker 0 00:18:30
Wow. I felt that it gave me chills. This is so, so good. <laugh>.
Speaker 2 00:18:37
I think it’s so important. It’s so important, you know, kind of just being nice to yourself, just so important.
Speaker 0 00:18:44
Do you have a mantra or any kind of phrase that maybe you repeat to, or like say to yourself whenever, um, you’re encountering maybe like a little bit of judgment. Like, is there something that you say to stop that?
Speaker 2 00:18:59
I think for a long, long time, I remember thinking in the room, if somebody’s gonna spend 200 pounds on a piece of artwork, well why shouldn’t it be my piece of artwork? Why shouldn’t it be What’s stopping it being that my piece of artwork that they buy mm-hmm. <affirmative> and, you know, all those kind of negative feelings. And until I really learned that actually when your artwork goes on the wall, the last person to get involved with your artwork should be you. You put your work on the wall and you walk away and you let people have their own experience with it. And pretty much that’s the same for drawing. It’s almost like you are kind of other people and you’re another person doing it. And then to view it as another person, it, I think is, is really helpful actually. But no, there are lots and lots of, lots of books I read lots of mindfulness books and, and reading around that, that I do. But mainly for me, my joy comes from being lost. Making that drawing. Yeah. Or making that painting. And then something magical happens. Walter, when you’re doing it something really magical where you are totally lost hand knows what it’s doing, it just takes over. And your job is just there to give it the energy. <laugh>.
Speaker 0 00:20:20
Yeah. Really. And I, I think that especially now more than ever, with so much distraction and Yeah. Like even though I’m, I’m grateful that social media connected you Yeah. And me together, it’s still, if we’re not intentional in how we use it, it can be Yeah. An energy drain and with Yes. So many things going on. It’s so important to have that one, whatever it may be, practice, maybe it is drawing, maybe it’s whatever, medium, someone, it’s something
Speaker 2 00:20:49
With your hands, isn’t it? Yeah. It’s something with your hands. And I think it makes it very, very real. And I love the fact you work with food because food is something that’s kind of universal to us all. We have to take time out to eat. We have to, there is no kind of bigger mindfulness than the two things that you are mixing there. Art and food. And I think that frankly, drawing is, is immediate. And that’s why I really push the drawing. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> the drawing. It is just that it is an immediate thing. You can go to it anytime, literally. Anytime you can doodle, you can draw. And it’s just getting you in that zone of quiet.
Speaker 0 00:21:33 Mm-hmm.
Speaker 2 00:21:34
Even if it’s for three minutes. I think one of the most important things I ever did actually, was to switch my notifications off
on my phone. Yeah. So my family, they ring me when they need something. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but they have to actually phone me <laugh>. The notifications that come from the social channels, it’s just pure distraction. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you get the choice when to look at it. I don’t have my phone in my bedroom. Yeah.
Speaker 0 00:22:00
And, and it’s like, it relies on that dopamine, you know, we feel the release of dopamine whenever we get a notification. Yeah. But it’s so like short-lived. Whereas I feel like when we are drawing or we’re expressing ourselves with art, it’s the good kind of dopamine where it’s like that accomplishment. Like we did it or we tried something new, we experimented and it’s much more healthier than,
Speaker 2 00:22:25
Oh, it’s so nice. And it’s, it’s so visual. It’s something you’ve done. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> that line is real. It’s not digital. That line that you’ve drawn, that paint mark that you’ve made, it’s real and it’s in front of you and you can touch it. And that’s so precious, I think. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, yeah’s so precious in this
Speaker 0 00:22:45
World. Thank, thank you so much for sharing all this wisdom that you have accumulated over the years. I’m so, so grateful. And I have another question. It kind of pertains more to your practice as an artist. Yeah. On the journey of an artist, there’s often ups and downs, right?
Speaker 2 00:23:03 Yeah.
Speaker 0 00:23:04
Cool. It’s a rollercoaster. What is your advice, or how have you learned to deal with quote unquote failure? Anything that maybe you wanted it to work out a certain way, but then it didn’t, you know, it didn’t work out that certain way.
Speaker 2 00:23:18
I think they used to be here in the, oh I dunno, seventies. There were these little figures, toys, and they were called weebles. And the strap line of the weebles is that they wobble, but they don’t fall down. <laugh> weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down. That’s what it was called. And it’s one of those things that’s always stuck with me because I think we all wobble. We wobble and we upright and we are zinging and we’re fine and then we’re on our sides. And then, but you have to, nobody can, nobody can make you do it. You have to just get back up. Mm-hmm. And I think as an artist, you might have, I don’t know, in any given time, three or four months, you might have 10, 15 projects that you’re working on. And the majority, probably 13 of them, will not work out.
Speaker 2 00:24:10
They just won’t. And I think as an artist, you learn not to work on just one project. You work on multiple projects because you need to make the rent, you need to make the bills, you need that piece. So you are in conversation with somebody about one piece or selling, yet you’ve got another on an easel. And you’re showing that to social media, hopefully. I mean, it is juggling. It’s all juggling. But these are all seeds and you throw them out and they grow and they really grow. And when you are not looking at one, there’s another in the corner, which is a huge tree. And you hadn’t even noticed these incredible, incredible things. Our jobs as artists is to sow those seeds of ideas, put them out there, start ’em working, and kind of just as you cannot watch, sit and watch a flower grow, don’t breathe over it too heavily.
Speaker 2 00:25:02
Don’t watch it. Just let it grow. Give it a bit of water every once in a while and then go to another part of the garden and work on that. And do you know, now as I say, you kind of get to an age where suddenly it all is. Oh, okay. Oh, brilliant. So it was worth going to art school <laugh>. As I say, I’m 52 now and it’s all coming. Absolutely. Coming up roses. But having said that, I had two children and I kept my business going alongside that with my family. And that was the challenge. But I did it. We can all do it. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and who wants to be sitting, commuting every day, going to some faceless job when you can actually do something beautiful yourself and get paid for it.
Speaker 0 00:25:46
Yeah. Oh, beautiful advice. Really
Speaker 2 00:25:49
Possible. You just gotta put those seeds in the garden and keep re-seeding. Oh, all the time.
Speaker 0 00:25:55
That’s so powerful. Oh my gosh, Sam, thank you so much.
Speaker 2 00:25:59 My pleasure.
Speaker 0 00:26:00
It was just like such an honor to have you on the show. And if you could share with our listeners where can they connect with you on social media or, or the internet, if you have any resources that you’d like to share, feel free to mention the link. And I’ll, I will of course share that in the show notes.
Speaker 2 00:26:17
Well, that’s fantastic. So Instagram, I’m on Samantha Barnes paints, which is b a r n e s, Samantha Barnes paints. And then my website is www.samanthabarnes.com. And I’ve got some online drawing classes, which are coming out in January. My husband films them. Oh, it’s just so much fun. Oh, they’re really, really short. They’re like 10, 15 minutes and they’re just pay as you can. So anything from a few dollars to $10 to whatever, and there’s a project with them after it is just January’s such a terrible month that actually, it’s quite nice to kind of say, Hey, come over here and come and do some drawing with us. Yeah.
Speaker 0 00:26:58
Oh my goodness. That sounds so fun. And I will absolutely link to your classes and I’m, I’m excited to take ’em. So I thank you for <laugh>. Thank you for sharing these. And I know there’s a lot of work that goes into creating an online class. Yeah. Because I, I’ve been seeing you that you’re hosting in-person workshops and because you’re in the UK and, and I can’t travel there at the moment. I’m like, oh, I wanna, I wanna to get class with Sam <laugh>.
Speaker 2 00:27:24
Well, do you know what? These will be fantastic. Then there’s gonna be six or eight classes. Keep us all busy for January.
Speaker 0 00:27:31 Wonderful.
Speaker 2 00:27:32
Yeah. Loads of love to you, Volta. I really love what you’re doing and your work and the messages that you’re sending out. So much love to you.
Speaker 0 00:27:39
Oh, thank you so much, Sam. I hope you have a calm and creative day. Thank you.
Speaker 3 00:27:48
Thank you so much for listening to this episode. Sweet Friend. I’ll close this out by mentioning the acronym calm. The C and CALM stands for community. Remember, you’re Not Alone. I invite you to join the Calm and Creative Community Group on Facebook. It’s a private and free group where we can share various supplemental resources to help us feel more creative and calm. The A in CALM stands for apply. I encourage you to apply some of these learnings from this episode so that you can integrate this knowledge better into your day-to-day life. The L and CALM stands for Leave a Review if you enjoy this episode. This will help our podcast reach a wider group of creatives that are seeking to feel more mindful and creative. The M in CALM stands for Mindful, and that’s simply just being kind to our minds and remembering that it takes intention and practice. And no matter how you’re feeling today, I want you to know that we’re all doing the best that we can in a given
moment of time. So keep going. Sweet. Friend. You got this.
Speaker 1 00:29:10 <silence>.