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A Painted Wall, created with a Victory in mind.

A community affair - between 'The Dome Youth', 'Victory Colours', myself and my younger sister Toria.

Where does inspiration come from? Where does it start? When you're young and just used to drawing on smaller sheets of paper, how easy is the transition to actually painting on a wall? Not to mention, actually working together in a group? However this is what the girls who attend Tuesday nights all girls class at The Dome in Gospel Oak community centre, managed to achieve. In a total of 12 weeks, which accumulates to about 12 hours in total, and that's logistically if each girl turned up regularly each week. Not all did. Some came even in the last weeks. Amazingly, it really was the local community coming together.

I just felt so pleased, after each session was finished, walking home, thinking about what each had accomplished in the hour or so. Even as I lay, reading our son his bedtime story, I would actively get out my phone and share the progress. Maybe Phoenix will one day want to participate in something similar. The more I involve him, the more he too is able to see what can be achieved with a little guidance here and there. Regardless of his age, he's already enjoying art in a big way, as we actively do it together regularly.

The initial brief was to create and plan art lessons, which included looking and learning at various artists and their work. Working with a variety of mediums - paint, pencils, collage, crayon etc, and various scales (small to large). Alot of the first few weeks were looking at what you see and to recreate this onto paper. All the topics I learned at college - about perspective, proportion, the use of colour and patterns.

Then we encouraged the girls to paint with a limited colour palette. Which actually really helped the girls to make decisions quicker. With only one hour to fill, and you need to explain each lesson at hand, not forgetting set up and pack down, it needs to be extremely focus lead. Each week, I would create my own prep, painting out what I had in my mind, showing enough examples in order to reveal what is possible, with guidance.

As the half way mark passed by, it was so thrilling to see the opportunity finally at hand, when I got to paint the area with a clean white paint - goodbye peach, hello clean walls! However marking out the space wasn't all that easy, since the skirting board and the floor were not super level. Saying that, this can come with the territory, so I wasn't hugely surprised. Just made me check and double check, all my mathematical equations so I ultimately ended up with a square canvas, equally portioned on the wall. (Actually it's worth noting here, that the original design created by the girls, myself and Tor, was portrait, however due to the uneven ground, it became square).

During the collage stages, one girl created a lovely heart encased in a flower. This became the central focus point, from where everything else flowed. The amazing thing that happened was, even though she wasn't so engaged with art as a whole, unlike others that came week after week, it definitely placed a smile upon her face, knowing that that piece was her design.

I wholeheartedly believe that we can each, in turn, help others shine, just by drawing out their strengths in which case, helps each to grow and flourish. Confidence is one of the integral driving forces of whether or not an individual will keep trying to pursue something until it becomes second nature. We all learn to walk, mostly all will learn to read and write, if education has been regularly served at early stages of development. However individual subjects, what ever the subject matter it might be, whether it's drawing, painting, using a camera, playing tennis or football, all these need to be developed and honed, in order to pursue it as a career. Passion, of course, also plays a part. In the film, 'Karate Kid', Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) becomes the karate champion because of his teacher Mr Miyagi (Pat Morita), encouraging him to repeat small movements over and over and over again. #waxonwaxoff

On a personal note, when I was encouraged to pursue a career in fashion, several fears within almost stopped me, firstly because of my older sister (Beki), who was so brilliant at it when she worked as a successful fashion stylist, secondly because I preferred to become an artist than follow my sister into a career of fashion, and thirdly, a huge hurdle I needed to overcome, which was seeing myself walk down a catwalk. This brought huge anxiety. What if people do not like it? What if my work is not received well? What if I do not get it finished on time? Sadly, due to all the years passing by, I can't quite remember the individual who helped me to close my eyes and actually picture myself walking down the catwalk, picturing the audience giving me praise, and yes, imagine it turning out to be a success rather than a failure. This took huge confidence and a giant leap of faith.

So confidence comes hand in hand. With each step a person makes, choosing to grow in their given subject of choice of preference, actively choosing to keep trying, keep practising, no matter the cost, no matter how many times they haven't tried, no matter how many people around them are saying don't do it, give up, stop trying, internally is where the actual drive will come, internally, it's where you start speaking to your own soul, saying, "I can do it", "I want to do it", "I believe I can do it".

This is what I believe the girls achieved in their own way. Sometimes the paint they were using was drippy (just to note - not Victory Colours, it was a sky blue I'd used at the Dome last summer for the mural workshop, so yes it was a little old. However the budget wasn't available to purchase new paint and this colour wasn't made available to me, so I used what resources I had). Sometimes the paint was a little thicker. As an experienced artist, I am aware that gloopy paint just needs a little liquid adding to loosen it up. As I always work with water based paints, then water is a necessity. But as artists starting out on their journey, like these girls, most were unaware of this. It's the same with knowing which brush to use and for what purpose. All comes with practice, practice, practice.

I had a fascinating conversation with a landscape gardener late last summer. He spoke passionately about the length of a particular screw and why it was so important for a particular job. After years and years of repeatedly doing the same thing, you begin to pick up and refine your self with the knowledge you learn along the way. You become faster by picking up speed. Whether thats by using the right tools or purely with actual speed.

With these girls who are just beginning their journey as a mural painter, most wanted to stand further away from the canvas/wall, most (not realising) had far too much paint on their brushes. When you're creating art on a flat surface, the paper on the table for instance, you don't need to worry so much about drips, etc, however on a mural, every time a colour lands on a place you don't want it to, you then have to wait for the paint to dry, before painting over the bits of colour you don't want to be included in the final design. The more mishaps, drips, etc, the longer a piece of work can take.

I also believe, that when we are at our most teachable, ie we genuinely want to learn something new, it is then that we will actively listen better, apply better, read more, practise more, in order to move from a to b to c. But when we are not teachable, defensive, unfocused, not ready to be told something, or not ready to listen to someone's view over our own, in fear of being wrong, we will remain the same. I guess we are all our master's of our own ships. No matter what is dealt from the beginning, true steadfast grit comes from full on perseverance and determination.

I definitely noticed some who were eager to have a go more than others. This is not shared to pass judgement, this is just something to be noted. Wholeheartedly I believe, if you want to pursue something, some passion, some dream, you can achieve it. If you wholeheartedly believe in yourself, are willing to put the hours in, are willing to be refined, mentally remodelled by others who have the experience behind them and are willing to keep carving at that block until you actually see it happening in the natural. The growth. Becoming like a diamond in the making.

Here are beautiful examples of these girls, stepping into the unknown, walking by faith, welcoming in the new, until it becomes the new normal. So pleased to be the person showing them, teaching and guiding them. So thankful to Mark, Naomi and Sarah, who all believed in me. Even when they knew I am not a teacher by trade, and yet, they offered me the opportunity to have a go.

I've personally learned alot along the way. Before this, I'd painted 2 murals during lockdown and a short 2 afternoons during last summer, teaching to paint on a mural (large canvas board) at the play scheme, also at The Dome, alongside my very talented younger sister, Toria Lamb (who's also growing in confidence as a practising artist, painter and designer).

Through this project it's stretched me, I've put in the hours, stepped out of my own comfort zone and into the world of teaching. Actually, when some close friends of mine, in particular Bunmi Abidogun and Kris Keys, were at my home to photograph Kris's scarves, they both suggested to me about teaching. The small me inside my frame, looked at them, and thought 'No way!' ... and here we are now. Many years later.

The God I serve is so faithful. As God has opened up the doors for me, I have faithfully walked through them. I wouldn't say it's been an easy journey. But the main thing is, regardless of all the comments, I haven't stopped pursuing. I've allowed God to heal me on the inside. It's been a day by day by day process. The little me had very little confidence in me, in my giftings and abilities. But slowly and surely, it's been carved, remodelled, developed, honed, crafted. My mind. My thought processes. Under the umbrella of #creation26 - thank you to those who have continued to encourage, to pray, to share their expertise and their help, am truly truly grateful.

One last shout out to Victoria at Victory Colours, who made it all possible - they truly are remarkable paints. Stunning colours. Absolutely stunning. Water based eco paints - wonderful for the environment (#noplanetb). Water based means no toxicity when the residue is washed down the drain. No fumes so perfect for younger children to work with.

The colours you can spot in the picture are:

Magenta (Pale Pink 2), Pale Pink 1 (actual Pale Pink), Cream, Beige, Dark Green (Water Dragon), Brown, Bright Green (Sage Onion), Orange, Yellow 1 (Sun Yellow) and Yellow 2 (Mustard Yellow), Mushroom (Grey), Lilac, Dark Blue (actually a mid blue in colour), Blue (actually a Navy), Red and White.

A little synopsis about Victory Colours, as taken from their website:

"Victory Colours Eco Conscious Paint has been developed to produce a tough, yet beautiful, water-based, intelligent emulsion. It has great opacity, excellent coverage, and a little bit goes a long way.

This emulsion is durable, robust and has great wipe-ability properties which make it ideal for use in high traffic areas. Smooth and easy to apply, giving a luxurious flat matt finish.  

Our eco friendly paint is essentially non-toxic, has ultra low odour, with virtually no VOC’s, and toxins that can emit after drying".  

If you are interested in learning about the actual benefits from choosing to work with environmentally friendly paints, here is a great article by Michelle Ogundehin -

Well that's it for now.

If you would like to see the mural 'up close and personal', I highly recommend reaching out to Sarah, Naomi or Mark, if you happen to be in the area. (NW5/ Gospel Oak). Also they have some great and amazingly free exercise classes that they put on each week, including Zumba (Friday evenings), Yoga (Tuesday lunch time) and Nordic Heath Walks (Monday mornings).

Until next time.

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