I am a big fan of Fearne Cotton so when Not On The Highstreet asked if I would like to host one of their creative workshops at her Happy Place festival last month I jumped at the chance. Well when I say jumped, it was more of a small hop, as I was terrified, but this year I set myself the challenge of doing things that take me out of my comfort zone and this definitely ticked that box.
I often hide behind my paints [and Margot] and avoid public speaking, so teaching is something I have never explored, but I am so glad that I pushed myself to do it, as it was a wonderful experience which I want to share with you.
The festival was held over the weekend of August 3rd and 4th at Chiswick Park, it was a beautiful setting and upon entering I immediately felt a sense of calm, which really helped as the butterflies in my stomach were going crazy. I was hosting two workshops across the weekend my first on the Saturday wasn’t until the afternoon so once I had set up, I took myself off to Bryony Gordon’s ‘You Got This’ talk where she shared crucial life lessons and the art of self-respect, this really helped to steady my nerves and mentally prepare, I left feeling as though I was ready to take on the world, let alone host my first workshop.
To fit in with the festival I focused my sessions on bringing joy and creating a sense of calm through painting, craft, plants and yoga.
I was immediately transported back to my school days, as people entered the teepee and took their seats at the table all enthusiastic eager eyes on me, but this time I was the teacher and they were the students! After a few deep breaths I began, I started off by explaining that they would be creating their own nature-inspired yoga illustrations using watercolours and coloured pencils, inspired by my own ‘Yogi Wannabe’ print. The first part of the workshop focused on painting techniques and allowed all participants to hand-paint their own leaf artwork, everyone found this really therapeutic, as drawing is my profession I rarely use it as a form of relaxation but it was a great reminder that I should definitely be drawing more for fun in my free time. Once painting was complete, I had prepared cut outs of my Yogi Wannabe ladies so the second part of the workshop was focused around cutting shapes out of their leaf prints and dressing the yogis; there was some really beautiful creations.
Once all finished I went into a bit of a trance, overwhelmed by the positive energy of the room and the gorgeous feedback, I was also immensely proud of what I had just achieved. I sat myself on the bank overlooking the water, to wash my brushes and had the pleasure of listening to Russell Brand’s ‘Recover The Person You Were Born To Be’ his words of wisdom were the ideal way to unwind and reflect on what had just happened.
I got back to Chiswick Park on the Sunday bright and early, my second workshop was first of the day, I was feeling more confident and ready to embrace what was ahead of me. I had the pleasure of teaching another fantastic bunch of beings, all there for the same escapism reason and more stunning artwork was created. Prior to the festival I created a bespoke Happy Place Yogi Wannabe print so when the lovely Fearne popped her head into the teepee during the session, I took the opportunity to give her the print personally, which she loved.
Being first up meant that I had the rest of the day to enjoy the festival and I made the most of this. I listen to the Happy Place podcast whilst doodling away in my studio and the festival was just a live version of this with all of Fearne’s favourite people and things to do which coincidentally are all my favourites too!
First stop was energy healing, something I have been very intrigued by and wanting to try. The idea behind it is to teach you how to harness the power of your own human energy through chanting, movement and meditation, to recharge the body and calm the mind. The key benefits are to re-energise, de-stress, detoxify and release tension and pain, so I thought the perfect activity after all the work and stress of the workshop. Apparently I responded extremely well and I felt on top of the world when finished.
I felt so good that I then headed for an alfresco ‘Live Healthy, Live Happy’ workout with everyone’s favourite Joe Wicks The Bodycoach. The atmosphere was electric, so many people coming together to release energy and feel good, it was such a good workout.
After all the physical activities I was ready for downtime so took myself off to listen to some of the talks. I went along to Jasmine Hemsley's ‘Living La Vida Veda’ where I learnt all about how to infuse Ayurveda into everyday life and different ways to listen and understand your body type and how to nourish from the inside out, being gluten free I make sure to always try and learn about new ways to keep myself healthy. I also popped along to Lauren Mahon’s ‘Curtains Up How Cancer Made Me The Leading Lady.’ I am a big fan of this lady, so much so that I dedicated a tiny tee print to her Girl vs Cancer t-shirt collection. I have so much admiration for her determination and how you can always find a positive in even the darkest of times and situations, it was the perfect inspirational talk to end my Happy Place experience on.
I left on such a high, the feeling was like nothing I have every experienced before. A big thank you to Not On The Highstreet, my amazing students and Fearne for the opportunity and my wonderful friend Katie for all her support and help over the weekend, I am definitely exploring the idea of hosting more workshops so watch this space!