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The Art of Flow - Art Lessons with Gabbi Lancaster

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by Erica Enriquez (subscribe)
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Learn to use your creative side
Like any true artist, Gabbi Lancaster draws inspiration for her artwork through the environment around her, and the people she hopes to motivate to love art as much as she does. In the 80s, her time studying figurative art and anatomy at The Paddington Art School led Gabbi to find that drawing and developing her art brought her to a restful, meditative state. She says, "I realised that we were learning about much more than drawing and painting. It was an awakening and deepening of perception, sensitivity, a way of being. I experienced moments, while drawing, of being in an altered state, meditative, it was spiritual and I loved that mysterious feeling".

But not all of us are blessed with the time to fully immerse ourselves in a creative pursuit, or are aware of how to. With so many of us working a nine to five grind in an office, or acting as primary caregivers for others, it's often hard to find the time to connect, or even re-connect, with our creative side, and find balance between our left and right brains.

Art of Flow, Gabbi Lancaster, Create or Die, Marrickville

Now that Gabbi combines her love of creating with her love of teaching, she's put together The Art of Flow, a 6-week series of classes that focuses on life drawing, painting and mixed media. It provides respite from a lifestyle of stress, and is ideal for artists of all levels, from those already competent with a paintbrush, or, like me, those who haven't been at an easel since year 10 visual arts. The classes are held at Create or Die in Marrickville, a venue run by Artistic Director Deb Morgan to support many artists and creative practitioners.

Art of Flow, Gabbi Lancaster, Create or Die, Marrickville
Image courtesy of Gabbi Lancaster

The Art of Flow class is a 6-week course, or can be booked in single sessions. I joined in during the course's third week, called Chaos and Order. Using paint, ink and implements that included a pen (like a quill in this instance) and a paintbrush, we were given a session in life drawing, complete with great company, music and snacks. Most of the students had attended the previous classes, so Gabbi had already built up some techniques for them to expand on. I hadn't attended the other classes, but that matter what was important was getting into the flow of the evening, and getting used to thinking in a different way.

Art of Flow, Gabbi Lancaster, Create or Die, Marrickville

The students I was with we were a group of about ten were all pretty good artists already. One woman I chatted with was a graphic designer. Did I feel a little intimidated by the talent in the room? Honestly, yes! In fact, my first few paintings were a bit of a mess, to put it mildly. My attempts at capturing the human form in its flow and movement were kind of ridiculous. Unless our model was the big marshmallow balloon character from Disney's Big Hero 6 animated movie, then his likeness was spot on. But he wasn't. He was an actual human person.

Luckily for me, Gabbi was a patient teacher. Our first few exercises included using the pen to write our names on the canvas so that we could get used to the way the ink flowed. For newbies like me, it was an interesting exercise that underscored the importance of play, and that allowing your experiment with materials and textures was welcomed and encouraged in this context.

Art of Flow, Gabbi Lancaster, Create or Die, Marrickville
Image courtesy of Gabbi Lancaster

The rest of the evening was structured so we could continue using different materials (like different sized brushes, paints versus ink etc.) and within different timeframes. Gabbi asked the model to hold a variety of poses for a certain period of time. Sometimes 10 minutes, with the model's arms outstretched, sometimes less time, with the model cross-legged on the floor. Part of the exercises involved us drawing quite quickly, so that we didn't have time to think and second-guess our creations. At one point we were doing exercises where the model held poses for 30 seconds and we were asked to capture the energy, essence, feeling, action and spirit of the poses.

It was at this time that Gabbi read out the following passage:

"Gesture can open you to peak experiences, by provoking, by giving you a situation, with which the mind cannot cope; new doors can open where other perceptions blossom in you; and as you relax and let go, the surprises of creativity arrive and overtake you"

To me, it was worthwhile hearing this while we were doing something meditative and creative. It helped cement the idea that giving in to a creative process would benefit a person long after the paint on the canvas had dried.

I can't say I unlocked a long-dormant gift for visual art in my one Art of Flow session. I can't even say I improved that much in the evening. But what I did gain was so much more valuable than anything I could've captured on the canvas. The name of the session I attended was called Chaos and Order, which Gabbi related to the yogic principles of Abhyasa (practice) & Vairagya (non-attachment). The philosophy behind these terms is that they are intertwined; practice is the act of the persistent effort and "showing up", but with that comes non-attachments, the act of "letting go" of our aversions and fears these can cloud the truth. While we show up and do the work, we still need to let go of our attachment to the outcome. Ultimately, it was in the creative process that Gabbi led us that through that made me see that the outcome wasn't where I found myself having fun; it was in the act of creating.

Art of Flow, Gabbi Lancaster, Create or Die, Marrickville

The remaining 3 sessions for The Art of Flow series of classes are available at Remaining dates are 30th May, 6th & 13th June.
Book tickets quickly as tickets are limited.

Other workshops with Gabbi Lancaster include:
Sun June 23rd - All Day ~ expressive art with professional life drawing models. A whole day to relax and enjoy connecting with your creativity.

The next Art of Flow 6 week series will be Thursday nights starting end of July or early August. Follow for details closer to the date.

You can also follow Gabbi at her website and via Facebook and Instagram, including updates on her group exhibition at end of July.

Art of Flow, Gabbi Lancaster, Create or Die, Marrickville
Image courtesy of Gabbi Lancaster
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*Erica Enriquez was invited as a guest
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Why? This 6-week series teaches you to unleash your own unique style and creative flow
When: Thursdays until 13th June 2019
Phone: 0425 349 375
Where: Create or Die, 7 Farr Street, Marrickville, 2204
Cost: Single sessions are $60
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Looks like fun!
by Amanda I (score: 2|819) 643 days ago
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