Arty Brellas and a creative challenge

Arty Brellas (and my friend, Tricia Stedman) invited John and me to take part in a photo shoot. While I thought we were probably a bit older than usual umbrella-painters, the opportunity seemed too good to miss.

I’ve wanted to paint a paper umbrella ever since I first saw Arty Brellas and Tricia at a Fairbridge Festival many years ago, but have always hung back, although I usually look for new opportunities to challenge myself.

Since the first time I saw Tricia, many of my grandchildren have painted these wonderful umbrellas, but Tricia and I only met and became friends when the two of us joined a Blogging Mastermind group in 2018.

I tried to check with Tricia exactly how long ago she began this amazing venture, but she’s off setting up for this year’s Fairbridge Festival! It seems as if she’s been doing it for ever!

These days she travels with her umbrellas to far-flung places like Newman in the Pilbara region of Western Australia and to the Tiwi Islands, Brisbane, Esperance and Dowerin.

She works in schools, the street, parks and art centres. Even more interesting, she also choreographs dances for painters to display their painted umbrellas in action. Her clients on any day can be children or adults.

Last year, John and I took two great-granddaughters to Buddha’s Birthday Celebrations in Perth and met up with the ‘Umbrella Lady’. The magic for me doesn’t fade.

The creative challenge, some photos

Tricia Stedman with a group of people on the lawn. Kids dressed in painting aprons ready to begin
Tricia Stedman, the 'Umbrella Lady' with two children.

The concept of painted umbrellas is simple, and like many simple things, full of wonder and creative challenge. Arty Brellas provides the white paper umbrellas and multiple, beautiful coloured paints.

Only the imagination and skills of the artists limit what can happen next.

Surrounded by Tricia’s friends at the lovely Hyde Park, two kilometres from the Perth CBD, on a sunny autumn day, John and I had a go. It would be easy to pick holes in my own performance.

An old woman in a blue print top smiles at the camera over an umbrella. Beautiful park in background
An old man in a white shirt, a shoulder sling slung to one side, concentrates on painting an umbrella

Indeed, the children’s creations outshone mine, perhaps because I’m not an artist, and the medium was strange. By not planning, I hoped what I’d produce would be wonderful.

The photo of a little girl in a yellow and black satin dress with a pink, red and cream umbrella

And, guess what? My umbrella delights me despite its obvious naivety. Can’t wait for the next time. Thanks, Tricia and Arty Brellas.

22 replies on “Arty Brellas and a creative challenge”

  1. I guess that the point of being creative is that there is a risk that what you do will not always be perfect! Watching my daughters create beautiful umbrellas with Arty Brellas at Fairbridge was a delight and the Brellas gorgeously colourful. This activity is rewarding and engaging.

    1. I know on one level that perfection and creativity don’t sit together very comfortably, Jenny! But I so wanted my umbrella to be amazing, first time. I used to love watching your daughters painting umbrellas, and they were very clever with design, colour and technique. They might like to teach me.

    2. Thank you so much for your lovely feedback Jenny. It’s wonderful to know you enjoyed Arty Brellas and what a delightful Blog article Maureen Helen has written. I hope you can both come and paint another Arty Brella again in the future. I will let you both know for sure, when the next adult workshop is happening. And maybe we will see you at Fairbridge next year.

  2. Certainly a lovely thing to do and yes, Maureen …. I love your arty brella

  3. A beautiful write up, Maureen with some very special and lovely photos. You look like you’re having fun. And John, braving it, sling and all. And the adorable little girl! I’m so glad you got to meet her and her mum.
    I look forward to the day I paint an umbrella.

    1. Thank you again, Susan. I had a magic time. The little girl is a real sweetie, and I loved the dress she wore. Enjoyed meeting her mother, too.

      Perhaps we should ask Tricia to run a special umbrella-painting day for adults like us, or for Amanda’s groups, or something. I’m sure you’d enjoy it, and I’m ready to try my hand again.

      1. Wow yes, a wonderful idea Maureen. I would love to run a workshop for Amanda’s group and I do adult workshops from time to time and the adults enjoy it immensely and almost as much as I enjoy reading your blogs. Thank you so much for writing this one.

        1. My very great pleasure, Tricia. We had a lovely time. I hope you have time to do a workshop for adults somewhere soon.

          1. Will let you know as soon as I have the dates Maureen and hopefully that won’t be too far away

    2. It is a lovely Blog article isn’t it Susan. I am most grateful and I hope we can all have a glass of champers and a paint together soon,

  4. I commented already, but it turned out to be one of those that just mysteriously magics away!
    I would love to do one of those umbrellas, what a fun day!

    1. Oh, the vagaries of the internet, Sue, and in particular of WordPress. I find it very frustrating at times.

      The day was indeed a fun day, and I’m very glad we took part. It seems to have given my creative side a bit of a boost, hope it lasts.

      1. How to be eighty – I’m still learning how to be seventy!
        So many interests Maureen. I imagine you must sit back now and again and marvel at how you turned your life around, you have so many achievements under your belt.

        I am creative but I cannot draw and I would love to be able to. I enjoy painting, especially on the computer, I have no talent but it’s a pleasurable pastime. I will definitely try out your umbrellas.

        1. Sue, I think this must be the first response to my Arty Brellas post, which has been lurking on the internet and has now become visible.

          I’m still learning how to be eighty, but I thought that by calling my blog ‘How to be eighty’ I might be able to share my learning and experiments with others. It keeps me honest about the ageing process.

          I’d love to be able to draw, also. One of the nuns at school was quite adamant that I couldn’t do art, and I gave up trying at an early age, along with singing. Thank goodness they didn’t know about my other talents, or my curiosity and eagerness to learn.

          1. Some of our teachers have much to answer for, though one assumes they are now long gone. One put down and we stop trying. A little bit of praise and we try even harder!

    2. Lovely to read your comments Sue W. I hope you can paint one some time too.
      I must say also that Maureen’s blog captures the workshop so beautifully

      1. Unless you plan to go to Yorkshire Tricia, or Sue comes to Perth it might be a tad difficult. But I imagine either of those things could happen

        1. HI Maureen and Sue – In that case it certainly might be difficult at the moment, though my friend and I have discussed catching up in the UK next year, so who knows, if all our goes to plan I may well do some workshops there and, the quirk is that my friend Gill lives in Yorkshire…so you never know! He’s hoping 🙂

  5. Maureen, How I would love to do this. I wonder if it is possible to find out where I could try.
    does it cost much as this is a factor for me. I love being creative. I have designed three yards now and each one is very diffrent. I have even painted my wheelie-bin.

    1. Hi, Miriam, Arty Brellas goes to lots (and lots) of festivals, street parties, etc and you could join in anywhere she appears. Here’s the link to her site: I’m sure if you contacted Tricia Stedman she’d be able to tell you where she’ll be next. I’m not sure of cost, because we were invited guests. I do know that sometimes people paint an umbrella together, to make it cheaper.

    2. Wow! Thank you M. Kelly lovely to read your comments about my Arty Brellas workshops and thanks to Maureen Helen for the amazingly well written and enticing Blog. Arty Brellas is fun and yet quite relaxing and therapeutic. i run the workshops and will talk to Maureen about letting you know when the next adult workshop is being held. You certainly sound like a creative soul with all your design work, especially if you have designed 3 gardens and painted your wheelie bin. It would be lovely to have you join in on a bit more creativity.

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