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 I love learning.  I think it’s because when you get to a certain age *cough* it starts to become clear to you where your interests really lie and that learning doesn’t always involve textbooks and lectures.  After stalking admiring her Instagram and blog for months now, I decided to be brave and attend one of 5ftInf‘s workshops.  Behind the name of 5ftInf stands a warm and welcoming, brilliant talent with a genuine desire to help others engage with their own creative centres – no matter how deep they may be hidden within.  Her name is Phillippa Stanton and she’s just lovely.
I say that I was brave because I’m used to conferences and large scale workshops.  I can go, and mingle, and essentially disappear into the background and take anything I believe that I’ve learned home with me, unquestioned.  Phillippa was hosting the workshop at her home in Brighton – and I was one of five women who had signed up.  There was no escape, no hiding behind anyone.
I rang the bell about half an hour too early as I was so concerned I was going to be late – and was welcomed into her abode.  And I truly was welcomed – within minutes you feel as though she’s been in your life forever.  Phillippa invites you into her home, her world [and essentially her Instagram too].  I spent the first ten minutes talking to her trying not to make it obvious I was so awestruck, taking it all in.  The books, the trinkets and flowers and fresh vegetables in the kitchen – and Cheeks.  Oh, Cheeks.  If there was ever a cat to adore it’s him.  The beautiful, vocal, velvety sleek and affectionate Siamese member of 5ftInf’s exquisite Instagram feed and blog.
5ftinf Workshop Brighton Phillippa Stanton colour and texture
5ftinf Workshop Brighton Phillippa Stanton Siamese Cheeks
5ftinf Workshop Brighton Phillippa Stanton open house
Our day was split into two, punctuated by a delicious lunch and ended with a debrief over sugar dusted sponge cake and hot tea.  We began learning about wabi sabi at the infamous 5ftinf table, admiring the “magic corner” and watching Phillippa work – and we ended it looking through her talented [and somewhat Instagram-pioneering] granny’s photos, all huddled together and sharing Cheek’s cuddles as he reluctantly let us go, one by one.
5ftinf Workshop Brighton Phillippa Stanton cheeks the cat
After an explanation of what the day held for us, we were going to be creating two compositions for our Instagram and learning in the process how Phillippa essentially works and feels her way through the colours and textures she uses.  The morning’s composition was dictated slightly to us with the distribution of a mixture of condiments.  Each of us had three that we had to include before we could add other elements to our picture.  Mine were loose leaf tea, black onion seeds and corn kernels.
It took quite some time – scattering, swirling, sorting and brushing the contrasting black and yellow before I realised I actually have quite a few preferences that I’d never realised before.  I like things to be visible – the tea couldn’t scatter on top of the corn, it had to be picked up and placed on top.  I also love to work in landscape, from left to right it seems.  Perhaps that’s the Japanese influence peeking through.  Phillipa came over and spent quite some time letting me take through my thought processes and realisations about myself – and my fears, also.  Saying everything out loud was therapeutic and calming – and although I won’t go into detail of everything I added and took away, as I used my iPhone as a preview tool, I gently came to a place where I was happy and ready to say it was complete.
5ftinf Workshop Brighton Phillippa Stanton human element
My husband calls it “Sherlock Holmes trips in the potting shed” which makes me smile at the way we both see things so differently – and how interpretive art truly is.
After giving birth to three boys, my brain-to-mouth connection isn’t what it was years ago and so when I was trying to write down what I meant by seeing things differently, I figured it out as that our own feelings and creative expression can ultimately impact greatly upon and exert a huge influence over our personal vision of pieces bought to life by both ourselves and others.
5ftinf Workshop Brighton Phillippa Stanton capturing colour
Which really, what it boils down to is that what I see isn’t what he sees, or what anyone else does, either.  Even viewing my own work from a different angle didn’t feel right.  There’s a part of us attached to everything we make or do – whether we give that part of us freely or reluctantly.

5ftinf Workshop Brighton Phillippa Stanton greens and blues

5ftinf Workshop Brighton Phillippa Stanton lanterns

5ftinf Workshop Brighton Phillippa Stanton autumn

I’ve never appreciated the art of creating so much as whilst I was at the table with Phillippa.  So much of what she had to say struck a chord with me.  And not just because she uses her iPhone camera as a kind of viewfinder, as I do with the boys when I’m photographing them.  I’m most often found saying to my boys or husband, “Let me see what I can see” or “Let’s see what it looks like” through my camera before I decide on how I want an image to appear.  It’s that she truly guides you, strengthening your own self belief.  So many times I’ve attended workshops which haven’t had any impact – they were instead stages for the presenter to describe their success in detail.  Although we all, I think, actually held our breaths when watching Phillippa working, there was no arrogance and no secrecy in her methods.  She talked and questioned us, and hid nothing.  It was incredible.

Through her teaching, you come to conclusions and reach realisations by yourself.  I discovered my style in a far less scary way than I imagined I would.  I thought it would involve hours of soul searching – and yet a few questions and suggestions from Phillippa and I was able to actual vocalise what I liked and didn’t – even though I had no idea about my preferences beforehand.  Having revealed the thoughts to myself, it was so much easier to compose my second piece in the afternoon – and even more fulfilling to receive criticism and guidance afterwards.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt as enlightened as I did that day.

5ftinf Workshop Brighton Phillippa Stanton

5ftinf Workshop Brighton Phillippa Stanton

5ftinf Workshop Brighton Phillippa Stanton

5ftinf Workshop Brighton Phillippa Stanton

What made my day even more wonderful were the four other ladies that I spent it with besides Phillippa – Sinead, Anna, Sue and Seona.  We chatted so easily as we learned and shared throughout the day, working amongst each other and admiring everyone’s creations as they unfolded.
5ftinf Workshop Brighton Phillippa Stanton afternoon teatime
5ftinf Workshop Brighton Phillippa Stanton afternoon tea and cake
5ftinf Workshop Brighton Phillippa Stanton Afternoon tea
Sharing a cup of tea [in a gorgeous hand thrown mug – one of which was gifted to me us by Phillippa at the end of the day, along with a gorgeous book, card of one of her fabulous prints AND a little succulent plant she had grown herself] with a slice of delicious buttercream filled cake, it was like saying farewell to family as we all went our separate ways and vowed to take field trips to flower farms together in the future.
I can’t thank Phillippa enough for the amazing day – and anyone who is considering taking one of her workshops and stepping inside the Instagram, you really should.  There’s a beautiful, more assured creative part of me that’s come alive after spending the day at that table with Phillippa. Both she and it truly are magical.
5ftinf Workshop Brighton Phillippa Stanton
5ftinf Workshop Brighton Phillippa Stanton Flowers
You can see our two compositions on Keep Up With The Jones Family’s Instagram Feed here and here, and more shots from our day in our 5ftinf Steller Story here!

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  1. I would LOVE to attend a workshop like that. I am not sure if you have Michael's craft stores over there, but they have things along these lines there occasionally, but they are not nearly as awesome as this workshop you got to go to.

  2. I would love to attend a workshop like that. I would be a little shy at first, I'm sure, because like you said, at large conferences you can blend into the background. What beautiful photos and such a gifted teacher. Looks like so much fun!

  3. I love nature photography, especially flower photos. I have a few beautiful shots of my dog too. He is such a cooperative subject. Attending a workshop is one of my dreams, I would love to learn a whole lot more!

  4. First and foremost, you are an amazing photographer. You really should look into creating a workshop that teaches others how to capture effortless moments on camera. Now I never knew there was such a workshop as the one you attended. I love how intimate it was.

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