Love in a time of no water…

When Ivy told me the theme of this month was about creative growth, I was thrilled.

Such deep and beautiful subjects and content that Ivy is presenting each month in StudioWorks and I’m feeling so touched to be sharing about this particular theme. It’s something that I’ve been holding close to my heart and some of the elements of this month have been coming through in my own personal work the past while.

The thing I’m discovering about emotional, intellectual and creative growth is how they all seem so entwined and interwoven and I know if I want my creativity to grow I also have to do the emotional and intellectual work together with the creative work in order to make strides forward.

More than anything else, growth like all things, takes time.

I know in May Ivy shared about our creative cycles and sometimes we have to steady the course and do the work to yield the rewards of growth. Be kind and patient with yourself and don’t rush the process.

Growth is an erratic forward movement : two steps forward, one step back. Remember that and be very gentle with yourself...
— Julia Cameron


Greeting and chatting about growth

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Two years ago when Cape Town announced that it had a major water crisis from a prolonged drought - the few things I noticed was (a) how as a city we had to come together as a community in our time of crisis, (b) to change the way we were doing things that were clearly no longer working in order for growth and change to take place and (c) the city had to be vulnerable to admit to mismanagement and had to ask for help.

[community, change and vulnerability]

The death of plants and greenery I was experiencing in my environment that comes from no water had deeply impacted me. This feeling of parchness in my environment in the physical was affecting every aspect of my being. I thought this was particularly profound and powerful analogy to my creative life at the time. I started going within and asking myself the question… Was my creative life in drought too and was it still yielding life for me? After 7 years of creating fervently with intense creative energy, it felt like the honeymoon phase was over… and now what?

I started looking at these things that I saw worked in the physical… in order to grow I would have to start by being vulnerable about where I was at. I would need to change how I was doing things and I would need to come together in community, even in a time when instinctively I wanted to retreat.


So by walking towards community I connected with a very special and intimate art group and year long class that really challenged me on every level of my creativity. It changed my approach to the way I did art. It held me accountable and it made me work deeply and vulnerably. And it more than pushed me out of my comfort zones (which I feel is imperative to our growth as humans). I met once a week with two friends as we worked our way through The Artist Way and had various online friends who I connecting with and we were sharing our creative endeavours. I also took two in person class in the year, one a yoga retreat weekend and one a stitching class in the city with a friend and with complete strangers - again pushing myself to try new and uncomfortable things in an uncomfortable setting. I do believe this helps one grow in leaps and bounds.

I knew in order for me to keep growing, I would have to change some things in the creative and my environment in order for growth to happen. I know the tendency is to change everything when we are feeling rattled and unsettled and I wanted to be careful not to knee jerk into mayhem. So I started slowly and methodically… the first thing I changed was my creative space. This was quite simply most incredible because it gave me a new lease on life in many ways. I changed the way I was physically working in my space and in many ways started over. All I knew was that I couldn’t go back to the way I was doing things, something had shifted and I needed to move with it.

To experience a turnaround in any area of your life, you must be willing to change
— TD Jakes

I had to be gentle and coax myself back to creativity. So I did things that were restorative and one of the biggest things I did in my regime was walking in nature. When everything about your nature is being threatened, it was like my soul was craving it. Being in and surrounded by green and nature really started inspiring me again. As much as I went out into nature, I also brought nature into my home. My insatiable need for green was relentless.


Walking in this world was powerfully restorative and inspirational… some of these elements started appearing in my creative works. I was being impacted by my environment and my own story during this time.


Let’s paint together



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Supplies List

  1. Canvas of your choice, I recommend a round canvas for something different. Working in circle is a wonderful experience.

  2. Paints I used: Prussian Blue, Raw Umber, Green, Violet, Venetian Rose, Red, Warm Grey, Titan Buff and White.

  3. Brown and Black Stabilo.

  4. Elements of nature for inspiration and references for inspiration.

What I also learnt in the physical was (d) that the rains did eventually return but now we were better equipped to manage our water wells well. We had learnt to harvest our water, redirect it and steward what we had with care and love because the alternative was just too awful. I trust we will never again return to day zero.

In terms of my creative growth and care, I’m also doing my best to steward well.

Thank you

Thank you so much for having me in StudioWorks this month and I hope you enjoyed this lesson. Thank you for allowing me to share some of my heart and life with you.

Much love, Jeanne-Marie