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  • Writer's pictureSue Bulmer

Working with a Creative Coach, Helen Conway

a summary of my most recent creative coaching experience

Following on from my last two blogs about working with inspiring, creative and supportive women, I now want to share with you my third and most recent experience of working with a Creative Coach, fellow artist, Helen Conway.

I want to share these experiences with you to communicate just how powerful and transformative it can be to work with someone in this kind of capacity. All of my three coaching and mentoring experiences have been very different but I’ve taken something HUGE away from each and every interaction with these wonderful women. This particular collaborative coaching journey began in January of 2022.

A bit of background:

Since qualifying as an Art Psychotherapist in 2019 I had been pursuing a creative direction with my art as well as working in two jobs. If you have heard the expression life imitates art the next part of my story will really ring true, although in all honesty I’m not sure whether life is imitating art or whether it’s the other way around. Needless to say, there has been a strong connection and a parallel for the significant changes in both over the last few years.

I first began my creative art business back in 2010. I was making black and white monochrome, detailed, precise illustrations around the theme of birds, trees and houses. Back then, I never really considered my creative practice and purpose any more deeply than just knowing it was something that I enjoyed and gave me purpose. During the Art Therapy Masters programme we were encouraged to explore our relationship to our creativity, the materials, the process, the product, the creative self. I began to think about my own creativity, motivations and expressions very differently.

I now feel a deeper sense of connection to the creative process, not just in terms of wellbeing but in the way I express myself, the connection with the reason I create what I do, where I get my inspiration, how that evolves and grows, how it connects with my own values and alignment, how it connects with others, how images speak a language all of their own and how creativity isn’t linear but echoes the ebbs and flows of nature and the seasons. I now ‘get it’ on a totally different level.

How I met Helen:

So that brings me to a new understanding of what I want from my creative life. I want to connect with others. I want it to be ‘something bigger’, something more meaningful. I want to grow. I want to continue to learn. Subsequently I decided it was time to seriously invest in myself and I joined an amazing Artist Membership Group, Connected Artist Club, hosted by Artist Alice Sheridan (I will tell you more about this another day as this is alos key to my creative journey). One day, when I was feeling particularly stuck and uncertain, I posted something into the group and was bowled over the by advice and replies. Long story short, this is where I met Helen. She replied to my post and when she said she was a Creative Coach we connected and I decided I would like to work with her to help me through the next part of my journey.

Helen came up with a package of sessions to suit my time and budget and by the end of Jan’22 we started working together. Our initial extended session was spent thinking about personality traits and how they influence my process, and how they show up in my struggles and frustrations too!! We talked about goals and aspirations, what I really wanted from life, creative and personal.

I went off and did my homework, lots of journaling, thinking, pondering. I had been successful in applying for a new job which meant I would now be able to give up my pharmacy career and during this process of change I came up with the idea I wanted to take myself off on a Solo Art Retreat. Helen helped me to think about this in ways I hadn’t considered. She asked what I wanted this time to be, how I wanted to feel. These unexpected questions, that Helen is so very good at asking, really helped me to think deeply. I think having this investment in thinking time before I left helped me to get the most from the time away. When I came back a whole new body of work came with me in my mind and the next few months it spilled out onto boards and canvas.

Helen works very flexibly to suit the clients she works. This approach was perfect for me as I seem to go through periods of intense activity followed by times of stillness and rest. I found myself coming back for my last session towards the end of 2022. I had been struggling with the idea of balance (oh yes, THAT old chestnut!!) When I was really enjoying my job I didn’t seem to spend much time on my art, and vice versa. Once again, Helen hit the nail on the head by asking my why my thinking had become so binary. Why was I thinking about these two aspects of life separately?

This set off a whole new direction of thinking during December and early January which culminated in a major realisation and change of focus. Why was I thinking of my art therapy job and my art practice as two separate entities? They were linked, entwined and both very much part of 'me'. I had been spending the previous year aspiring to be like people I admired and I had forgotten to appreciate the person I am. I had a unique offering as an artist and art psychotherapist. I saw things differently and I had a firm belief in the wellbeing aspects of creativity and a passion for sharing this with others.

Where I am now:

This led me to where I am now. Rather than looking outwards to others for validation, support and direction. I've focused inward and plan to spend my year making art for myself in a more reflective, holistic and inward looking space. Thanks to Helen for helping me to get here. It feels right. I have set myself a project for the year to make a handmade sketchbook each month and fill it with seasonal inspiration. I've been sharing this on social media and the response has been astounding. I've inadvertently found a new creative community and and it feels great to share my passion for creativity and inspire people to create something new.

Find out more:

To find out more about working with Helen you can find her website here and you can find out mor about her coaching packages here

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