I’ve been really looking forward to this week’s interview as it’s with someone I’ve known for years and she’s one of those people who when you are around her, basking in her calm and fun-filled spirit, good things happen!
Adele owns The Mind Spa, based in Lindley, offering a number of well-being and healing therapies such as mindfulness, meditation reiki, hypnotherapy and life coaching sessions but she’s also an accomplished artist, producing beautiful abstract watercolour paintings, specialising in floral, sea-scapes, butterflies and birds, that also translate into items such as scarves and bags.
It’s only recently that her two passions have crossed paths, as she recognised even more the power of creativity in helping the people that she works with, as well as those who just want a peaceful few hours to paint.
With her healing qualities and spiritual way of expressing her creativity, she’s a person that very much follows her own path, which I find absolutely fascinating, I hope you do too…
Tell me about your work, what it is that you do and how long has it been going?
I’ve been helping people for 12 years to cope with overwhelm and stress by running courses, retreats, workshops and working one-on-one with people, all at my local business, The Mind Spa.
I’m also an artist under the name Juicy Watercolours, setting up a side business to sell my art paintings and also printed products via Vida.
I started to notice that people are being starved of a creative outlet and so I started to think how this was another opportunity to help people with their mental wellbeing.
Was this a long-held dream or something out of the blue?
I was born wanting to be a famous artist! So, it’s been a very long-held dream. Ironically though I also thought that you didn’t become a famous artist until you had died!
Were you creative as a child, what kind of things did you like to do?
Very! I loved painting obviously, but also gardening, creating crystals, and I used to design and make my own clothes and drama costumes. My Mum was an amateur artist and my Dad and antique dealer, he also used to make reproduction antiques so was good with his hands and had an eye for a find.
I was lucky to have really encouraging teachers and head teachers through the four schools I attended. They were all keen to see me develop as an artist.
What was your first job?
Although I had creative parents, they were not keen for me to pursue art into further education! I really wanted to go to Art school but my parents wanted me to get a ‘proper’ job, but I refused! So, my Dad marched me down to a shoe factory which his friend owned and got them to give me a job!
Unbeknown to me he told his friend to ‘make it difficult’, in the hope I’d leave and search for a ‘proper’ job such as being a legal secretary! I did try and make it more interesting for myself by getting involved in the fashion shows they did and modelling!
Where did your jobs / career go from there, prior to becoming a professional Artist?
Eventually I had enough of the shoe company and I left and my old Head teacher came with me to the job centre for support an said; ‘This girl needs a creative job!’ So, I then worked as a jewellery designer – my Dad’s plan had backfired!
After that I worked in interior design but then eventually went for a proper job, mainly to earn some decent money, and worked as a sales person for an electricity company. I liked the structure and career progression and got promoted up through the ranks, becoming the youngest and first woman Area Sales Manager! I liked developing the teams, and I became good at it, which then translated into several change management jobs for the police, and newspaper group, Trinity Mirror
Then, I had the opportunity to take redundancy, with enough of a pay-out to give me some breathing space and I came to the realisation of ‘I cannot allow another person to have control over my destiny!’
Thankfully I’d also been training in the background with a theatre school franchise and also in life-coaching and hypnotherapy.
After much soul searching and wondering what I was going to do, I thought about all the skills in personal development I’d gained and a lifetime of helping people and so The Mind Spa was born.
Does being an artist feel like having a creative ‘business’, or does it feel different?
The Art business came later. I’ve done Art all of my life, I can’t remember a time when it’s not been part of my day-to-day life, to me it was never a big deal, I was a secret artist squirreling away with no intention of making it in to a business (note: which I find astonishing, given her talent!).
What changed that was contact from an old friend via Facebook who asked to see some of my work and I posted it (before you could direct message!).
The response was amazing, I had comments and likes from a lot of people. It was a wonderful feeling, I felt validated as an artist! People left more and more comments, and then finally someone asked to buy one, I was both thrilled and terrified at the same time!
Eventually I set up a separate page under the name of ‘Juicy Watercolours’ and that’s when that business really started.
What is the creative process like for you, tell me the process of one of your paintings from beginning to end, how you go about it.
I wait until I feel inspired, I wait for the ‘flash’! It can come from the light, form, subject or just a feeling! I then meditate on that inspiration, wait until I live and breathe it and it becomes part of me. Words are very much part of the process too and come to me through meditation such as ‘precious or delicate’ if I’ve seen the way light falls through some petals for example – And then I just go crazy with the paint until it’s finished!
I get into the zone and paint in harmony with my materials, responding to the paint, and that’s when I love it! I’ve no idea how it will look, I paint in an abstract way and just wait for the outcome.
The process can take five minutes or five years depending on the thought process! For example, I adore peonies and know that one day I will paint them again, but in the meantime I’m buying them, spending time with them in beautiful gardens, touching them to see how they feel, examining the colour, etc etc and then doing some flow paintings where I experiment with backgrounds and then one day it will just happen!
Note: The picture of the tree heading this article was done as inspiration struck whilst out driving, Adele keeps a set of paints in the car, just incase!
What does it feel like having your skill and talent recognised by other artists, professionals and customers? What was it like to sell your first painting?
Every time I achieve another thing it’s a total thrill! It’s like going on stage and singing for the first time. In the early years I was contacted by a New York gallery to be represented by them, that blew me away.
This year, I’m really excited to be ‘artist in residence’ at Burton Agnes Hall, in the Yorkshire Wolds, spending time in their orangery with other artists and also exhibiting.
Encouraged by this achievement, I thought ‘I wonder if?’ (my mantra) and applied to exhibit at Patchings (the huge art festival based in Nottingham). I wasn’t particularly ready for it but wanted to get used to the process of applying but then was amazed to find I’d been accepted!
The first painting I sold was to a life coach I was working with, Heidi Dawson, it was a painting of sheep!
What is the best thing about working in a creative way?
Freedom of expression, being yourself and not hiding!
What are the positives of running your own business and of course the harder parts too?
Flexibility and freedom, you can choose what you want to do and work to your own rhythm, not doing crazy formal hours. You can spend your time working more impactfully and working at your best. It also gives you the opportunity to try new things and not get pigeon-holed into being a certain something.
The only negatives are it can be isolating working for yourself if you’re not careful. There isn’t the stability of regular income, it’s more peaks and troughs and finally, paperwork!
How do you feel when you are doing your creative work?
Every emotion under the sun. I don’t get creatively stuck because I don’t force myself to do it, I only paint when I feel inspired to.
What is your favourite painting you’ve ever done and what is your best-seller?
‘In full Bloom’ – Adele’s favourite painting
A painting called ‘In Full Bloom’ that happened after I was wide awake after drinking prosecco!
My best-seller is the humming bird, it’s been in magazines and on product prints etc, people seem to really like it!
The Humming Bird is one of my favourite’s too, just beautiful!
What are your plans for the future, where would you like to take your business?
I use my mantra ‘I wonder if?’ to guide me! I wait for signs to give me direction . I paint but where it goes in the world is not up to me.
I want to keep moving forward and stretching myself, a solo exhibition would be lovely.
Is it important to you to share your talents with other people, your local community, if so how do you do this?
Yes, I love connecting people! I want to continue with the painting workshops and offer more retreat days as I find them inspiring and so much fun to do and I know the impact it has on people, I’ve had great feedback!
The resulting paintings from one of Adele’s watercolour flowers workshop
What would you say to someone who is thinking about turning their hobby / creative passion into something more, a small business?
Just do it! You have nothing to lose but everything to gain, I wish I’d started this sooner. Also that if you wanted to do this on the side, with other work or business, that is also fine, don’t be defined by other people’s expectations!
What have you learned about yourself, along the way, whilst setting up, growing as an artist and running your business?
That the journey of setting up is almost like a journey of rejection and overcoming that has had an enormous impact on my life. Also that most skills can be learned!
I’m astonished by the kindness and support that people are willing to give you, it restores your faith in humanity!
What are your top tips for anyone starting out?
When you’re starting something new, you’re going to feel a whole range of things, like nervousness and fear, and maybe you can’t see where you’re going but it doesn’t matter, just ignore all that and just begin!
Do you still have other creative pass-times outside of your work, if so what are they? If not, how else do you relax?
You’ve got to keep your cup full as a creative. I have endless curiosity and am currently doing a course in Neuro- science online with Harvard University. I’m also creating 2 gardens and have my cottage project, in the Yorkshire Wolds. I also love walking, music and family activities are really important to me!
What’s the story behind your business name?
‘Juicy’ Watercolours, is how I used to describe new paints that I used, so it seemed apt!
With these bright colours in one of her latest paintngs, the name ‘Juicy Watercolours’ is very apt!
What are you most proud of in relation to your business?
Surviving, having longevity in this business, there’s been 2 recessions since I started! Having the confidence and experience to say ‘No’ to people I think I can’t work with.
Proving the nay-sayers wrong! And finally, the difference that people tell me I’ve made to their lives.
Finally, what does living a creative life mean to you and what are the benefits to you personally?
It means having the mental time and space to live the life I want, on my terms! With that, it brings better health, more peace of mind and authenticity, more me, more choice.
Knowing Adele’s deeper story was everything I expected it to be and more, she’s a strong lady who knows her own mind, won’t be swayed down conventional paths and there’s an air of mischief about her which is endearing.
But what comes across most is her unique way of expressing her art and creativity, in my mind she most definitely has a double dose of the ‘Big Magic’ that Elizabeth Gilbert so eloquently talks about, and that is something very special to have…it’s been a privilege talking to her today, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it too.
She also has an amazing cottage in the Yorkshire Wolds, a great source of inspiration that can be hired for a lovely break away, click here for more information.
Next week, I’ll be back to my own creative topic, I’m not sure what that will be yet, but I’m sure after being bombarded by inspiration by my four local creative interviewees, I’ll have plenty to say…
Until next time..
Juliet, The Curious Creative x