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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Another p.s. - I did it!

Yay! I did it! I blogged everyday in December. I'm so pleased with myself because I made a commitment and stuck to it! Yay!
Happy 2009!!!! :)

New Year's Eve


Here is a sneak peek into my inner sanctum!! Aha! It's my wee tiny studio space, tucked away in a corner of the kids' games room, my trusty, very old sewing machine in the background. This corner must exude sacred vibes or something because my children don't go near it, bless them.

Anyway, here is the torso blank canvas I was telling you about yesterday, it's being painted with gesso to give me a lovely white surface to paint on. I received a lovely comment on yesterday's post which has encouraged me to get this project finished in double quick time. It's dedicated to all my sisters in creativity!

I think I've mentioned I'm doing a healing medicine doll on-line course, and I'm also part of the 100 art dolls challenge. Today I've been thinking of 4 dolls to create, my mind seems to be running overtime, and must be finding the dolls very inspiring! I will give you the links to the doll course and the 100 dolls challenge in tomorrow's post, it's just that I've got to be fairly quick tonight because the family are waiting for me to celebrate New Year's Eve with them, but they know if I don't write my blog today I'll be a bad mood, so they are being lovely and giving me space to write.

All that's left for me to say is a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone, let 2009 be a year where you follow your dreams, and even if you feel the fear, simply feel the fear and do it anyway! Will be back in 2009, with the links as promised - if I forget someone has to leave a comment and remind me! Best wishes ...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Baking hot day ...

Don't know what came over me today - baked a loaf of bread (in breadmaker), made a quiche and some meringues with the leftover egg whites. All on a 40 degree day! I must be mad, the house was like an oven by the time I'd finished. However, must be something in the creative process of baking because as I was rolling out the pastry I had an idea for a new art doll. Hopefully, I will get it finished before the week is out. I have a cardboard torso (sounds bad, but it's just a blank canvas really!) which I would like to paint. Thinking of painting it in pastel colours, but putting some very strong messages to myself on it, all about the awesome-ness of being a woman!! I know that some people look down on women that choose to stay at home and look after their children full-time, but I think I'm rather good at being a wife and mum, so I'm going to paint my doll to celebrate that fact!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Colouring and Writing


Today's post is a live broadcast of sorts - I'm sitting at my desk with a glass of Pimms and lemonade (the true taste of summer!) and my art book is open, and I've started a mandala. So I will be writing thoughts and colouring my mandala in between.

The weather has been hot today. Now I know it's a terribly boring British thing to talk about the weather, but honestly it's a big part of our lives! Today it's been in the high thirties, and I have not been a happy camper! My husband joked today that I must be a cross between a Pom and a vampire because I shrivel in the sun. I gave him my best scary horror movie scowl in response. It's not kind to laugh at another's weakness! So, yes, I have been a true whinging Pom today moaning about the hot weather, so much so I even got fed up with the sound of my own voice - I've decided to make amends and draw a mandala showing my gratitude for today! That is my artwork for today, and it will appear as if by magic by the time you get to read this.

I wrote some notes in my other journal today - with proper paper and pen. I really enjoyed writing, I don't seem to do it very much these days, and my blog has replaced my journal writing. It made me think that people don't write letters very much these days either. I still go to my mailbox with a bit of a skip in my step expecting a letter from a friend, but all I get these days are bills or junk mail. It would be a real shame if we lost the skill of writing letters or journals - it's fun to read over entries from years ago, or to re-read a letter from a loved one. I've kept a couple of letters from my grandmother that she wrote to me when I was very young. Although she's passed on, I still have that piece of her presence, her writing on the page, her voice in the words, and it's very comforting.

OK, I've finished my mandala, and it has made me feel better, much better to be thankful than grumpy! It is slightly meditative colouring in, and I just love drawing those spirals - very therapeutic! Strange though that you'll have seen it, before you've read this far ...

Think I will write once a week in my 'paper' journal and keep up those writing skills.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Rural Inspiration!




It's been another hot day; we cooled down with friends and the rest of Perth at Lake Leschenaultia - even the name sounds poetic, like waves lapping onto the shore! As we were driving out there (it takes about 30 mins from where we are in the Hills) I looked at the scorched trees and parched land and thought how lonely it felt. The countryside here is very primal, it's almost as if man has been here all but a minute and at any time it could revert back to its natural state. I feel that the countryside in the UK is more nurturing, almost as if it could wrap you in its arms and envelop you in comfort. (Maybe not in the cold and frost at this time of year though!) I'm blessed to have lived in both places and experienced both extremes. Lots of inspiration for my paintings and art.

Made up for no pictures yesterday! The top two are taken by the Lake - I was impressed by the blue sky, it was just so blue! The third picture is one that was inspired by a walk into our village - I could imagine fairy folk peering at me from between the gum leaves, and this is the result of my fanciful imagination ...

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Postscript

Have just re-read yesterday's blog - I should take my own advice shouldn't I!

Inner journeys

I have no pictures today, so you'll have to put up with me rambling on about nothing in particular! Today was a 'this and that' sort of day. My creativity extended to icing the Christmas cake finally and finishing a flower for my patchwork quilt. May post a pic of that some day, it's something I've been working on since 2004, obviously not regularly as I've only made 7 flowers, and I need to make 14 I think. It's that long since I've looked at the pattern!

I've also been sorting through piles of old magazines I've had for years. They've got plenty of colourful pictures of fashion, gardens, crafts, etc and I like to keep scrapbooks of the ones that interest me in case I need inspiration for a project. Plus it's a bit like revisiting your childhood making a scrapbook. I did read in one of the articles that keeping a childlike outlook on life can help you stress less, so you should indulge in something that brings out the inner child, like playing footie with your kids, scrapbooking or blowing bubbles!!

For one of my Christmas presents I was bought a place on an online doll making course. It's a healing medicine doll course, and you have to keep a journal as you work through the curriculum and share thoughts and processes with an online group. The course is by Barb Kobe and you can look it up on the net, I will put in a link in a day or so. I was invited to join the group, but chickened out for some reason I can't explain. It's a course I really want to do, and will do it, but I know that as soon as I introduce myself to the rest of the group I will have committed to another journey of self-discovery and I know it's hard work! I will let you know as soon as I've been brave enough to say 'hello' to the rest of the group ...

Oh well, off to sit outside under my fairy lights and have a nightcap, a lovely peaceful end to a peaceful day.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Quiet Boxing Day ... ramblings


Not much doing today, the quiet after the storm. Think my whole body went on strike after all the rushing about and I slept on the couch in the front room whilst my family occupied themselves around me!

The most creative thing I did was make some mince pies, which were extremely yummy and I think I may have had more than my fair share of them.

I sat up late last night when everyone had gone to bed and watched 'The Hours' which is a story based around Virginia Woolf. Some of the scenes relative to mental health were reminiscent of the experience of depression which I've suffered myself in the past and it was quite painful to watch. I absolutely loved the film though, it was one that really makes you 'feel'.

On a lighter note, we finished off the Christmas crackers and sometimes you can find a gem of a quote, one of which I will share here:

"Everyone has a talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads." Erica Jong

Don't fear to follow that inner journey, just follow your heart ...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Christmas!!



Festive greetings! My friend Violette has posted photos on her blog of the snow they are having - we couldn't be more extreme! It was nearly 30 degrees today, and I'm sitting there cooling off my feet in the pool!

It's been a lovely quiet day today. I was given a DVD set of 'Black Books' which I just adore - Dylan Moran is so funny, it was good to have a giggle. Laughter, like art is good for the soul.

We also sat and watched 'Ratatouille'. There is a very condescending food critic towards the end who is determined to write a damning report on the restaurant, but instead he is transported back to his youth by the simple fare he is offered, and his heart softens. It brought it back to me that what is important in life is that which touches the heart - and it's like that with art and creativity. You may feel that technically you are not the best, whether or not it's true - but if you feel that what you are creating is from the heart it has much more impact and importance than something which is perfectly executed but has no 'soul'. So, my advice is, follow your heart and you can't go wrong.

Now I did say I would make another angel before Christmas was over, and pictured above is a peg doll angel I made today. I felt like doing something crafty, and this only took about 20 minutes! I took the idea from a decorating magazine, but it's really a prototype for me as I'm interested in making dolls of all sorts. I've even been asked if I could make a peg doll in a kimono - I'm willing to give it a try! The most difficult part was sourcing the wooden pegs, but I eventually found them in Spotlight, which is a larger craft shop. Very easy - you just cut out some clothes in felt, sew around them in running stitch with embroidery thread. Embellish the clothes however you feel inspired, put some glue around the body and insert into dress - then you twist a pipe cleaner into a halo if you're making an angel and stick on the back of the dress. Sew around the wings and stick over the top of the halo ends to hide them. There you have one cute little angel - doll number 6 in my 100 art doll challenge!

To finish I'd like to thank the lovely people who read my blog. It's been a learning experience, but a journey of great fun. Thank you to those who've left comments, it's been very encouraging for me as I'm starting out, and I hope it's given you a little inspiration too! Keep reading ...

Have a lovely Christmas.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

One more sleep 'til Christmas!


I finished the kimono! And it looks fantastic, the photo doesn't do it justice - doesn't help that I took it at night-time with no real lights on, but just had to supply evidence that it's all finished! My bed was the only place I could lay it out so that it wouldn't be stood on by children.

We did intend to spend today doing the last minute chores I had marked down on my whiteboard, but some friends invited us across for a cuppa, we took a bottle of wine and we ended up having a spontaneous party with just the 4 of us. What was going to be a 20 minute break before both of us resumed housework turned into a 5 hour catch up. It was much more preferable to cleaning the kitchen floor! I think we all get so concerned with jobs that 'need' doing that we forget to take time out to connect with people. Christmas is a good time to do that, and I'm glad that we ended up chatting to friends rather than being cooped up in the house tidying.

I also got the chance to look at some more arts and crafts - I am surrounded by arty people here in the Hills. My friend and I are intending to start an art group of our own in the New Year, so as well as conversation and wine, we made plans for 2009 - a valuable afternoon and very enjoyable (unlike housework - I have a fridge magnet that says "housework won't kill you: but why take the risk.")

Oh well, a mountain of presents to wrap then our last sleep before the big day. Happy Christmas to one and all!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Festive Greetings


Or maybe it should be 'Festive Grrrrr-eetings' after the evening I'm having. I am again questioning my sanity on making a kimono for a present three days before Christmas Day. Stress levels have been high! The fabric is delightful but extra slippery and the threads on my overlocker keep breaking - I am not a happy bunny! Still, we seem to be over the hill and down the other side, there's not much left to do, and I may get to bed before midnight. Thought I would take a break and write a post. Then I got into a muddle with the photo and started to stress again. I'm OK now though - success is sweet!

This is a Christmas wreath I made last year and had forgotten about until I unpacked it again this year - it was a lovely surprise! It's made from a wicker circlet covered in torn fabric strips that are simply knotted around the circle. It's that simple. Add some Christmas bells for a real festive feel and voila, you have a very splendid looking wreath to adorn your front door! I did find it was a bit heavy for the drawing pin I'd tried to press into the wood. My son rescued the wreath for me and brought it indoors; one of it's bells had fallen off and it was looking a bit sad. Ever the one to go OTT in repairs I decided to hammer in a tack - the door is Jarrah, a gorgeous red hard wood from Australia, and I think the tack is in there until Doomsday. I will have to think of some other arty things to make to hang on the door for the rest of the year - seems silly to have a tack there and not use it! ...

Monday, December 22, 2008

5-second challenge!!


Forget the 5-minute challenge I talked about a couple of days ago, this is more like the 5-second challenge! This little fellow is a 'chad'. I think it must be a British thing, as when I ask anyone over here if they've heard of one, they look at me as if I've been in the sun too long! Anyway ... it is a remnant from my youth, and would be drawn with any question not being too silly to add to the wall - I remember drawing them mainly in physics lessons which I didn't quite understand.

The question today was driven by me running around like a mad woman trying to finish all sorts of tasks before Christmas Day. Why do we do this every year, and not learn?? Today I've been making a kimono for someone's Christmas present. It looks absolutely gorgeous and when it's finished I'll be posting a picture on here - but why oh why didn't I start this weeks ago? I've also had to do a bit more shopping and done the usual mum things. However, I did find a few minutes to finish a book I've been reading since seeing a film based on it - it's Graham Greene's 'The End of the Affair' and I've really enjoyed it. The part that I have been fascinated with is that God is pervasive throughout every element of life according to Greene. I believe it too, whether you call this higher power God or 'Divine One' or 'Supreme Being', it's definitely there. I couldn't imagine life without the presence of the divine in some form. I think I've said previously that my creativity and spirituality are so entwined it's difficult to tell the two apart. The book is fab, and I'm going to read it again as I'm sure there are some 'deep' parts I've missed. I really admire people who can write, it truly is an art form. Wish I could write a book - I'll have to put it down on my dream list!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Changing Seasons


Dolls 4 and 5

We were going to have a relaxing day today, but instead spent the day in the garden. I was busy in the 'wild' garden at the back of our house clearing away piles of dried leaves and twigs to make our house and land fire safe. It's one of the perils of living in the Perth Hills but a small price to pay for living in such a beautiful area. It also gave me lots of time to think; this time of year often makes me think of our family and friends we've left behind in New Zealand and the UK - I really miss them, but know that they love me and I them, we'll always have each other in our hearts and heads ...

As I was putting the twigs into bags, I was saving some that would be suitable for making spirit dolls such as the ones in the picture above. Together they are the four seasons, and I got the idea from my daughter who had made 'spring' at school. You simply bind 2 twigs together with ribbon or thread and wrap some toy stuffing around them. Then you embellish the 'body' with fabrics, wool, beads, you name it. The face is made from air-hardening clay, which is painted with acrylics after it has dried, and stuck onto the twigs with hot glue. My daughter made 'summer' and I made 'autumn' and 'winter' (the two dolls on the right of the picture). I am including these in the 100 dolls challenge, and will be making spring and summer dolls to complete the set. They are great fun to make, and you can use up your stash of materials to finish them as you don't need large amounts of fabric.

It really does seem strange to be in the middle of summer at Christmas, when my family is shivering back home, nights beginning at 4pm! One Christmas I am going back to the UK just to soak up the atmosphere of walking through the shops in the dark winter air, my breath turning to mist in the cold, the mesmerizing fairy lights twinkling in the windows and around trees. I am just a big kid at heart - we have our own fairy lights around our verandah, and it's not by the children's request!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My Angel


This is what I really wanted to blog about yesterday, but couldn't work out how to get the picture rotated and cropped as it was late, and I was too hot and getting very frustrated. However, the weather has been decidedly cooler today, it's even rained heavily and my brain is no longer over heating. I'm quite pleased with myself actually because I managed to work out how to edit photos in our Kodak program, and the result looks good if I say so myself. The picture looked a bit messy with the frame and a brick wall showing as background, and I wanted to concentrate on the painting. All this learning for my blogging is really exercising the brain muscles which can only be good in the long run!

As the title suggests, this painting is called 'My Angel' and is taken from a gorgeous photo of my daughter. She was actually cuddling a toy, but we both decided it would be better to have an angel holding a baby or small animal, which is why I've chosen the generic shape shown. I really like the feathery effect of the wings, which could easily be cushions in the chair she's sitting in. I chose purple because it's one of my favourite colours and it's also a very spiritual colour; I wanted to give the picture that 'other worldly' feel. It's worked in acrylics on canvas.

I must be thinking about angels more than usual because it's so near to Christmas. I believe angels come in all forms, from the voice of conscience that speaks to you, to someone who smiles at you when you're feeling wretched, or someone who you don't know comes to your aid and you never see them again. Random acts of kindness score highly on the angelic scale too - my children make me believe in angels when they fetch a tissue if I'm upset or make me breakfast in bed just to cheer me up. What makes these acts of kindness so angelic is that they are done out of love and no wish for personal gain. Thank you to all the angels out there - please don't give up on us!

Think I may possibly have one or two more angel posts in mind before Christmas is over ...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Writer's block!


Hoping this will kick start some creativity! Posting this so I keep to my one post a day!

This is drawn with Derwent watercolour pencils - then brushed over the top with water. Think I'm having trouble thinking because it was so hot today - fried my brains!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

5 Minute Challenge


This is the result of a little challenge I set myself earlier. I was panicking about having nothing to write about - I usually spend time throughout the day at least thinking about what I would like to write about, or noticing something that is going on around me that I can describe. However, I've been rushing around today as it's the last day of the school term and completely forgot to observe! Then I hit on the idea of trying to draw something in my art journal in as short a time as possible that I could post on this blog. I was so pleased with the result I've decided to add another 'label' to the blog on '5 minute challenges' - should exercise the old creativity muscles!

Technical details - I just drew the outline with pencil and went over the top with a fineliner when I was happy with it. The dress bodice/heart was coloured in using Derwent Metallic pencils, which come in a great range of colours and are lovely and soft to use.

The inspiration for this one came from my Moon Diary for 2009 which I picked up yesterday. It's full of lovely line drawings and I thought I could do my own for the festive season, and this angel just popped into my head. I like the idea of the 5 minute challenge because it will focus me on my creativity, and I'll have the guideline of 'no thinking', I'll put on the page whatever comes into my head and we'll see what is produced. I'm quite excited by the concept. It will also help me to reflect on the day and see what inspired me.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Imperfect is Perfect!


A couple of days ago Violette wrote in her blog about her experience of being taught jewellery making. The teacher wanted to teach her the 'right' way of making jewellery, whereas Violette just wanted to know how to make jewellery for her artworks and if they weren't perfect it didn't matter. These two different points of view lead to some tension! So in support of lovely 'imperfect' jewellery I'm posting a picture of a bracelet I made last year, from some wire and glass beads. All you do is twist 3 fairly long lengths of jewellery wire together, thread some beads on in a haphazard manner and twist as you go for a spider web effect. The candle is there as a colourful prop! I must say I don't actually wear this bracelet a lot, I put in on the side so I can look at it and admire the different beads, it's rather soothing, must be the calming colours of green and yellow!

I took the photo on the steps in our back yard, I liked the sunlight filtering through the leaves of the peach tree. When I walk through archways of trees and the dappled effect of shadows and sunlight, it makes me feel like I'm in the presence of the Divine ...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Couldn't decide ...

A night for quotes tonight - we are busy writing the final cards for work - only 300 more to go! So thought I would delve into my newly found 'The Artist's Way' and see which quotes inspired me. Now I have the problem of which to choose, so thought I would use both!

The first one is a call to action:
"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined."
Henry David Thoreau

And this one just because I like it!

"The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed." C G Jung

I really enjoy Jung's work, he did a lot of work with mandalas himself.

This week I've been discovering the classics that I first read when I was about 18 or 19. The trouble is I can't decide which one to revisit first so I have a pile of books by the side of the bed. I had started reading 'Brideshead Revisited' by Evelyn Waugh, but today I picked up a copy of Graham Greene's 'The End of the Affair' from the library - it's in large print which is making reading a breeze! (I have wobbly eyes!!!) Seriously, I do need to wear glasses, but keep losing them or sitting on them much to my husband's chagrin, so it's lovely to sit down with a book and not have to bother finding my glasses! I watched this story on DVD last week and was fascinated with God's presence amongst everything, and just wanted to see how the emotion and questioning of the characters was dealt with in the book. It will be interesting to see the difference between the two media used.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Salad greens - and reds!


OK, you may be wondering why on earth I've taken a picture of the salad we had for dinner tonight, even my husband asked if I was running out of ideas. Far from it! The main aim of my blog is to encourage people to be creative and to make them realize we are all creative on a daily basis, not just necessarily in an art or crafty way. Tonight as I was cutting up the salad veg and pulling apart another pomegranate I was struck by how vivid the colours were, and how a meal that is seemingly thrown together can look quite stunning in its simplicity. The colours here are beautiful and all totally natural. A salad created by me, and appreciated by my fans (hungry family!) I also think the salad goes well with the orange tones of my kitchen chair.

Today has been another uncomfortable day in the heat. My poor husband and children got stuck out in the 40 degree sunny weather yesterday when the car broke down! Luckily they were able to start it and make their way home, thankfully all in one piece. We've never been so thankful for air conditioning. I can't believe with this weather that Christmas is just around the corner, coming from the UK I'm used to cold, cold, cold and it being dark at 4 pm. We've been out here for a few years now, and it's still taking a lot of getting used to!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Clay work


This mask was made at a get together with my ladies from my creativity lessons run this year. We all took turns to run an evening activity, and this was the result of a 'claywork' evening. It was quite remarkable for me! This is not actually the first mask, the first one I made was a really scary looking man's face. The other ladies came to look at it and agreed that it was rather creepy. So I set to it with my modelling tool, which was in itself a therapeutic act, and destroyed it to make another mask.

This time the result was quite different. I'd thought myself that the face looked like a Chinese old lady but hadn't shared my thoughts with the group before I let them have a look. One of my friends said that it looked Asian, but much, much happier! Which is how I felt about making it. I also stuck butterflies around the edge, I think you can just see one, and scratched in the words, 'wisdom', 'joy' and 'spirit'. Later that same evening I checked the internet for symbolism of the Chinese Wise Woman, not really expecting any results, but found that there is such a character, and that she symbolized wisdom and transformation - just like the butterflies I'd placed around the edge, and the word itself! I wonder what the scary man symbolized in the first mask? I think it may have been fear, so it's very symbolic that I destroyed it, to start afresh with a new transformation!

The friend who led the group said that clay doesn't lie. It's a very interesting medium to work with.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Yeuch!

The last thing I feel like doing right now is writing a post, I've gone from creativity to destruction in one day and am not feeling the best! BUT, I am sticking to my promise to myself to write everyday in December come hell or high water, as they say.

Creativity showed itself when I was having my haircut today, the young lady concerned was lovely and attentive and as I was watching her snip away and add shape to my unruly locks I realized she is an artist in her own right. I left the shop feeling quite the work of art myself!

Later on though things took a turn for the worse when somebody I thought was a friend said something disrespectful to my husband and myself. The destruction came in the form of my becoming upset and being unable to carry on being present within the group. Now I have to work on re-gaining my self-respect, and creating a calm space in my head. Think it must be time to paint. Hopefully resuming normal service sometime soon. Not such a positive post, but completely honest!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Commitment and creativity

End of the week, and I seem to be getting myself busier but no more time to do the jobs in! Nearly disappeared off to bed without posting, but I am very committed to my goal of blogging every day until the end of December, want to prove I can stick at something! One of my friends said the other day that she admires me because I say I'm going to do something, and then I do it. Which is really funny, because my perception is just opposite!

Anyway, here is a quote I found which I would like to share, it's actually from a book called 'The Artist's Way' by Julia Cameron, she uses the quotes in the margins to inspire! It's funny because I haven't picked the book up for ages but felt drawn to it tonight for some reason, maybe it's time to read it?

"Why should we all use our creative power ...? Because there is nothing that makes people so generous, joyful, lively, bold and compassionate, so indifferent to fighting and the accumulation of objects and money." -Brenda Ueland (Quite a good one just before Christmas when we all get caught in the consmerist Christmas trap!!)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Rock 'n' roll dragon!



Earlier this afternoon I didn't have a clue what I was going to write about in today's post. Luckily the end of the school term came to my rescue - this beautiful fantasy creature was brought home, and I am now the lucky owner. It's absolutely gorgeous! And the thing I like about it that makes it unique is that it rocks to and fro on its bottom! Apparently it was put in the kiln for firing before this little design fault could be corrected but I think it adds to the charm.

I suppose I was also worried that I had to produce an entry with lots of thought provoking creative suggestions or reflections, but I think it's more honest to say 'there's nothing going on today' and just be myself. Much more authentic, and much less stressful...

Oh and today I reach 50 posts! A milestone for me and one I am proud of!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Doodling 'Shenpa'!


Well, as you can see I managed to use my curvy lines from my doodling yesterday - I've used them to depict hooks. On her meditation CD 'Becoming Unstuck' Pema Chodron, who is a Buddhist nun, uses the word 'shenpa' to describe what we would call a 'niggle' - a feeling which hooks us in and starts us worrying about something, and we can't let go of it. We just scratch and scratch at this 'niggle'. So I drew my picture of a cartoon me being hooked by some worry or other. Some of my random lines joined up to look like wings, which is why I coloured them in - I am by no means implying that I am angelic! For instance, my shenpa could be worrying that a friend seemed overly quiet today, and that it must be my fault, what have I done, etc, etc, on a downward spiral to feeling awful about myself. Pema's advice is to stay in the present moment, and when you do this you can't worry about the past or the future. Easier said than done, but meditation is one way of learning to 'stay present'. There are lots of books available on the subject if you want to explore further.

Sometimes I get stuck and hooked in worries about the future, wondering what I should be doing with my life. Amongst my ever present store of papers with things written on them I found this little gem of wisdom:

"Where you need to be you are, this moment, where you need to be. Take the opportunity to live it with passion and purpose. There is no reason to keep pushing the best of life out of your reach, saving it for another time, another place, or another set of circumstances. Now is the time, this is the place to fill with goodness and richness, with beauty and love. There is no need to wait or to hope for things to get better. For you can be your very best no matter what else may be happening around you. There is nothing to be gained by wishing that the past had been different. Instead, put your energy into living and fulfilling the best of the countless possibilities that are now in front of you. The value, the goodness, the love and effort you give this moment will come back to you many times over. Now is the time to invest yourself in positive, productive thoughts and actions. Stop making excuses and start being the best you can imagine. Stop waiting and start to truly and fully live." - Ralph Marston

So what are you waiting for? Be happy now - live life in the now - take action now!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Doodles


Here's some doodling from a quiet moment today. It's funny how different people can like different things in the same drawing. My son really loved the eye, he thought it was very expressive! I like the curvy lines, and think I may include them in a painting sometime. It's interesting to see what comes to fruition when you're just armed with a pen and paper and no agenda.

After my marathon post yesterday, I will keep today's entry short and sweet! I just remembered something else though about my painting which was the result of our bush walk meditation. My friend looked at the painting and said she could see the symbol of the dove in the feathery gold and purple I'd done at the base of the 'figure'. She felt that I had come to peace over some of my issues. I hadn't intended that at all, but on looking again I could see what she meant. I just love hearing other people's perspectives - it keeps life interesting!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Sunshine in my Pocket ...


At last, some space to write about yesterday's adventure on the bush art meditation! I'm only going to write the pertinent bits, otherwise I reckon I could write a whole new blog on the experience!

So, as Dylan Thomas would say, 'to begin at the beginning' ...

On arriving at Linda's 'Creative Seeds' studio we had to choose an Aura-Soma bottle to decide the colour we would be using in our painting. (The Creative Seeds website offers an explanation of the Aura-Soma colour system). The idea is just to choose a bottle without thinking as to why you need to choose it, just go with the one you are drawn to. Well, being me I couldn't choose between two bottles of the same colour just in a different combination (a lovely purple, and a lovely red). Aura-Soma bottles have 2 layers - I asked why one combination felt calm and the other felt like it was shouting at me when they were both the same colour. Linda suggested that maybe the 'shouting' one would be more of a challenge for me, so I was very brave and decided to use the more challenging colour combination. We were then asked to paint a white shape in the centre of the board, and the bottom colour on the bottle was to be the surrounding background colour (our 'soul' colour), graduating from the white to the pure colour at the edges.

Well, I don't know what was going on, but I felt very restless when painting the shape which I was trying to make into a circle, which rapidly turned into a feathery pattern round the edges, and I knew I didn't want that at all! I just seemed to be full of a nervous energy! So after painting my red background, I took another brush, a few deep breaths and rounded the edge of my circle off again - almost symbolizing my 'grounding' myself.

As last time we started our bush walk at a stream, and this time our subject was to be 'Life Rhythms' - we would be thinking about how we have moved, and are moving through life. Again we would be stopping at points along the path to meditate upon themes and questions brought up by Linda. The first thing I saw was a small sign in the bush with the words 'Revegetation area - PLEASE RESPECT' and those last two words spoke volumes to me! I wanted people to respect me, but I also had to have respect for myself! We walked a few steps more and stopped to think about our birth. Now I have never been able to re-visit this important moment in my life through meditation, and have always been envious of people who could, but as Linda was explaining that we have all come from a pure white light, I had this image of me being in a beautiful space surrounded by this light, then all of a sudden I was in this world screaming "Oh my God!", and all I could feel was fear! It makes me smile to think of that now, but I also understood that I have moved through a lot of my life with this fearful feeling. Quite a revelation for me.

We also looked at the view from a rocky plateau which helped us to look at the bigger picture of our lives. How had we moved from childhood to adolescence to independence? My first thought was 'fearfully', but then I spied a beautiful orange butterfly and realized that although that is how it felt like some of the time I've managed to get this far and can look at the whole of my life and be happy about it. I made it! We also looked at seeds on the grass and considered the spiral shape of some of the plants and trees - either turning inwards or expanding outwards and embracing life.

A most powerful part for me was when we stopped to look at a tree that had a dead branch from a bush fire, but also new growth on other parts of the trunk. It had to let go of the dead part to refocus energy into growing the remaining healthy part. At this point Linda asked us what we had to let go of. I really felt I had to let go of my fear of life. When I looked back at my life I could see all the good parts (and there were many) but realized I had been living under the shadow. The shadow seemed so heavy, impossible to move out from, but also very small, much smaller than the good times. What is amazing too is that I've been looking at my memories of childhood, university and so on, and this is just a continuation of that work - it is true that when you need to learn, the teacher will appear! Art is most definitely my best teacher, where I am able to express myself safely and most closely to my soul.

Linda made a point of saying that we are supported by the unseen, love, friends, and nature reflects this support. Even though we live in a harsh, rugged, often dry environment, nature still manages to flourish, very symbolic for our own lives.

My list of feelings experienced yesterday were euphoric, challenged, happy, sad, scared, felt physically sick, breathless - but by the end of it I really felt challenged and that I had survived it. Inner work is not easy, but for the intrepid explorer it reaps the most valuable rewards.

My resulting painting is shown above. It came out really quickly! Expansive arms, welcoming life, the spirals show my tendencies to turn inward, but also to turn outward and embrace life. The white circle is the pure white light at the centre of our being. The orange at the top is actually a butterfly, to symbolize transformation, I used gold on the painting as I think that people respect gold and as I said before this was important to me, so much so I've written 'please respect' in orange oil pastel at the bottom but don't know if you can see that! Purple was my other 'Aura-Soma' colour, but again also a colour demanding respect and reflecting my spirituality which is important to me. I've called this painting "Sunshine in my Pocket" as along the path I saw a small quartz stone that glittered up at me - I felt compelled to pick it up, it was lovely and warm from the sun so I held it in my hand until the warmth faded, then put it in my pocket to remind me of the walk. It now sits on my dressing table as a reminder of my journey with the rhythm of life.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Phew!

Busy, busy day! A perfect day for walking in the bush and meditating - I had a very enlightening day, but will leave the details until tomorrow when I have more time to write properly - I don't want to miss any important details out! Should be OK - I took two pages of notes whilst I was walking. It was all very positive, and very challenging but well worth it.

I have to go and wrap presents to post back to the UK, so this is a short and sweet mail. I will make up for it in the next post!

Whilst I was foraging through my old diary - from 1994 - I found this quote which I would like to share:

"You have no idea what a poor opinion I have of myself - and how little I deserve it". Unfortunately I didn't take a note of who quoted it, but I cannot take credit for it. It's just reminding me to have respect for myself, which is one of the lessons I took from today's meditation. More details tomorrow ...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Memories


I've decided that December can be my month of trying to think of alternative creative ideas seeing as art has taken a backseat in the run-up to Christmas. Today was my day for creating order out of chaos. The photo is taken just before it was all properly sorted! For the past couple of weeks I've had some boxes sitting in my room waiting to be gone through and squashed into a smaller box so that we can free up some storage space. It was like hunting for treasure, and finding it! In the picture you can see a dress I had as a baby, my favourite skirt when I was about 8 years old, my green mouse with it's nose chewed off when I was a baby, as well as a card made years ago by my children for Mother's Day, and a school project. There are also cards from friends, letters and old bus passes. I keep everything! It's so interesting re-visiting my childhood, school and university days. As I've said before, I'm building up a long list of memory based art, and exploring old memories draws me to books I haven't read for ages, or places I haven't visited in an age - armchair travel!

I said yesterday that I'd read about Carmarthen in a UK magazine, (this is the part when I am drawn to re-visiting places from my past), which wrote a little about Dylan Thomas and his home town which provided so much inspiration for his books. I've never read 'Under Milkwood' but knew I had a copy somewhere and I found it today, only it's called 'Unter dem Milchwald' because it's in German. It's a beautiful old and yellowed second hand book I bought as a student when at university in Wales, where I studied German. I read a few lines today and have forgotten a fair bit, but I think I'll understand a lot more than if it were written in Welsh! It's been a delightful journey down Memory Lane. In art therapy one of the tools used is to look at a picture and think of the first word that comes into your head, and then see where that word takes you and so on - a kind of visual word association I suppose. And that is the process that's happened here - I read a magazine about an old haunt, went to find a book I remembered by an author in the article, remembered my love of the sound of the German language from the book. It's great to remember your past and be happy with what you see. With depression it's the opposite, hard to appreciate the past, and impossible to be hopeful about the future. I'm so grateful for the journey I've had today.

Talking about journeys, I'm off on another 'Bush Art Meditation' tomorrow. Think I'll make it a regular exercise, as it's so therapeutic. Looks like I will get some art done tomorrow after all. Can't wait! Look out for the post ...

Friday, December 5, 2008

It's all a matter of perspective

No photo today, I'm a bit over it after trying to upload the pomegranate treasure masterpiece about 20 times yesterday and it still ending the wrong way up, even though it was the right way up at the start - if you see what I mean. So it's just words today, but good ones at that.

Yesterday, colours predominated my day, today it is words. I went with my daughter to the hairdressers and read a lovely magazine while she was having her hair cut. It was called 'Heritage' magazine and had lots of articles about the UK, basically to do with its history and genealogy and such like. Anyway, I was drawn to the articles about Carmarthen which is a large town in Wales, near where I went to university; about Haworth, home of the Brontes which I used to visit with my mum and dad as a child, absolutely loved it; and the small township of Fowey in Cornwall which gave such inspiration to the wonderful writer Daphne du Maurier. After first reading them, my initial thoughts were 'why am I putting myself through this torture?', these were all places that were very meaningful to me as I was growing up, and I felt a great sadness at missing them. Then I decided to change direction and look at it from a different perspective. I realized that I have been blessed to have had so many experiences and lived in such a wonderful place steeped in history and inspiration. I'm living life in a different country, which is giving me different experiences which will in turn give me inspiration for other different projects. As it is, thinking over my life as a child has given me a heap of inspiration for art projects, and I have a lovely long list of works I wish to produce, much better than having writer's block! I just felt much better after changing my perspective!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Pomegranate treasure!



Have just enjoyed a glass or two of red, and now ready to post! Red is the colour for today judging by the photo! Actually, I did take another of the result of us digging for pomegranate treasure, but for some reason it keeps appearing the wrong way up, which is fine if you have had a few wines, but not so good if you're totally sober so I've left it out. Shame. Anyway, I just had to take a picture of this pomegranate because the colour is so vivid. Pomegranates bring me back to images of my childhood, when my mum taught me to eat them by picking out the seeds one by one with a pin. Took forever to eat! So today I looked at the web to see if there were any tips on how to eat a pomegranate and of course there are! However, I decided to throw caution to the wind and ignore the beautifully produced picture show, and just cut one in half and dug all the seeds out with a spoon. My son and I sat there happily for over an hour picking out seeds and showering ourselves with delicious red juice. They are just so yummy.

It's been a very creative day, but not arty creativity. I've made two Christmas puddings, and a flag for the dark knight of the family to go with the sword I blogged about last week, as well as introducing my children to the magic of eating pomegranates. Creativity comes in many forms! A very productive day I would say.
Bliss!

Oh bother, have decided to include the photo anyway, the colour is just so intoxicating, just pretend it's the wrong way up for artful reasons. The funny thing is it keeps changing orientation every time I try to upload, just never comes the right way up. Tant pis!! (never mind!)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Inspired by a flower


Here are some beautiful bourgainvillea flowers which are growing on our fence in the backyard. I love them because they look so delicate as if they're made from tissue paper, and these particular ones are two colours on the same flower - pink and orange, which I think go stunningly with the green leaves. Yummy. Although they're delicate in appearance they actually have long, very pointy thorns hidden amongst the leaves. Like us mere mortals perhaps?

Today I'm finding that life is taking over a bit again, so creativity is not in full swing. But I do find looking at something in nature, such as the flowers above soothes my soul to some extent. I was talking to someone today about homesickness, and sometimes I feel it so strongly it makes my heart ache. That's the subject of my painting that just has to get onto canvas pretty soon, or I think my heart will burst! I do love Australia and enjoyed my time in New Zealand, but the simple fact is that the UK is still my spiritual home. So sometimes it makes me feel sad, but the wonderful John O'Donohoe believes that longing makes us feel alive. He's right, but if only it wasn't so sad! I also upset a friend today with something I said, and I feel bad about that (that's the 'thorn' - see comment above!). Why can't we always think before we form words? Part of being human I suppose, and the thing about true friends is that they love you in spite of yourself. Good job too!

I will keep myself busy with chores around the house, and doing all my last minute Christmassy stuff. Another friend a long time ago told me that during our more stressful times we have to take life one day at a time. Good advice it seems to me.

On the subject of one day at a time, I don't know if I've already said this, but I'm committing to writing my blog every day in December, so I can get to day 70 by the end of 2008 - a milestone to aim for! If I have mentioned it before then now I'm doubly committed and have no reason to renege on the deal. Onwards and upwards, 'til next time ...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Christmas dolls and smiley faces!


Here's my Christmas doll for the 100-dolls-challenge. I didn't actually make it this Christmas, but when I found it in our decorations' box I decided I want to include it because I like it. And the rules for my doll challenge are that there are no rules really, so I figured as I made it, it doesn't matter that it's a year or two old. I do remember making a point of creating it as I felt I was wasn't making enough things, life really was taking over and I believed Christmas was a jolly good reason for taking some creative time out. The children really like it because you can fill the apron with sweets. Yum!

Not much writing tonight, we've just come back from a function at the school and are very tired, it's been so hot today it's just too exhausting!

Did anyone see the smiley face in the sky last night? I think it was a southern hemisphere happening - there was a crescent moon for a smiley mouth, and Jupiter and Venus made the eyes. It was spectacular. I thought they were stars last night, and found out they were actually planets when I saw the yahoo home page today. Wish I could turn back time just so I could have another look, and really appreciate the beauty of the planets. Oh well, only have to wait another 5 years to see it again!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Pinch, punch, it's the first of the month


Firstly, where did that saying come from? The house was full of excitement tonight as we freed the Christmas tree from its 'prison' and festooned it with baubles, lights and tinsel. There always seems to be more tinsel on the floor than on the tree when we've finished though. It's our little joint act of creativity. You can tell the children are growing up - they actually asked if we could put less on the tree, and agreed to one colour of tinsel. In previous years every decoration we owned would be put lovingly on the branches, this year we've gone for the 'less is more' look.

I started 'that' painting last night. Won't have time to do any today, but I'm hoping to set aside an hour to finish it tomorrow. It won't be technically stunning, but it's more of an art therapy piece, it just needs to get out onto the canvas. I was talking to my daughter about it today and asking her advice on the proportions of the face. It's great to have a fellow artist in the house with whom I can swap ideas and tips.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Going dotty


Ah, what a lovely Sunday - sitting in the sunny outdoors, sipping wine and talking about life, the universe and everything. A good way to spend the afternoon, especially as we'd both planned to be doing a whole list of chores, much better! Anyway, as I was contemplating the meaning of life I looked at our dead Ponga tree trunk for about the millionth time and realized that it is covered in a spotty pattern. It's beautiful, don't know if you can see it properly in the photo - I was trying to talk to a friend on the phone whilst taking the picture one handed! I've toyed with the idea of making it into a kind of totem pole, it's just calling out for some creative re-working, but now I want to do something with those delicious dots. Will have to get my thinking cap on. You see, inspiration is everywhere.

I'm also putting out my intention to paint this painting I keep mentioning to everyone who will listen. It's been stuck in my head for ages and I need to get it on canvas. So if I say here that I will be painting it this week, it will happen, and then I can blog about it.

Also in my picture is my beloved purple windmill. I bought it last Christmas and after a year in the garden in all weathers it's looking a bit sorry for itself, all its shiny bits have fallen off, need to get my glitter out and 'bling' it up!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Double Creativity Day


Double creativity day for 2 reasons: double posts and 2 artists! The picture shows a cake made to look a little bit like 'Hello Kitty' and a Japanese styled ceramic object made by my very creative daughter. It's a Panda, with 'love' written in Japanese on its front. It's very sweet and quite rightly she scored top grades for it. (Very proud mum). We held a Japanese themed party for some friends so I had to be really creative in the kitchen too, making Sushi which actually turned out surprisingly well.

I'm still busy on the Christmas present front, but hopefully that will end soon as most of the gifts are bound for the UK. There's a really neat site called 'Etsy' which sells handmade products made by real crafters, well worth a visit.

Think I may have found a small studio space in our local town. It's just a small room with its own sink, but the more I think about it the more ideas I have for how to set it out, and what I can create in there. My poor husband has had to listen to me get excited about it all day. It's another step towards my dream ... watch this space!

Thank you!

Saw on the news yesterday that it was Thanksgiving Day in the USA, so thought I would have my own post-Thanksgiving Day - as we all know an attitude of gratitude makes us feel much more positive about life. So I would just like to give thanks for all my family here and abroad, and for all my fabulous friends - you know who you are! I'm glad you're all part of my journey!

Will hopefully write again later today - I'm a bit cross with myself for not blogging more. When I was in the planning stages I was rather optimistically thinking I could write one post everyday, so I should be up to about 70 days from the day I started. Ooops. I'll hopefully post an extra here and there to make up the days! Must say I've really enjoyed the experience though, it's helped with my creativity in that I actively think about it and bring my attention to it, I'm planning more 'works' and the writing itself is a creative act, which means I'm packing much more creativity into a week. For someone whose creativity is a lifeline this can only be good!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Desiderata - my favourite verse

To be honest I've been feeling a bit low for the past few days - my little black cloud does try and follow me about some days! I re-read 'Desiderata' and the following verse is just so lovely, I find it very soothing ...

"Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should." - Max Ehrmann

I like the idea of being 'a child of the universe'. It makes me feel comfortable and as if something much bigger is looking after us all. And we are all important.

My dream of being gentle with myself, would be to sit under a big tree in the sun and just draw and paint for hours and hours. Absolute bliss ... How would you be kind to yourself?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Find your moment of peace ...

The days seem to speed by on the countdown to Christmas, and I find myself increasingly busy getting ready for the festive season. As I've explained before I'm trying to make as many presents as I can, but today I conceded defeat and bought a few items from the garden centre near us - metal animals for the garden, which I can also honestly say I would not have a clue how to make myself, so it lessens the guilt a little! My friend and I looked at each other with horror today as we realized how close Christmas is - we were planning a get together for the beginning of December and were shocked to find we have a week less than we thought. But I will remain calm and NOT PANIC! When I was thinking about all this rushing that everyone finds themselves doing whether they want to or not it reminded me of the beautiful poem 'Desiderata', the first line particularly:

"Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence". - Max Ehrman, 1927.

... I'm feeling more at peace already.

Earlier this evening I was sitting on the sofa with my eldest son, who was watching me knit a doll for someone's present. He remarked that I always seem to be creating something, and how could I be so good at it and produce so much? I replied that it's not a matter of whether I'm any good or not, it's just that I love it so much I couldn't stop if I wanted to. It also warms my heart that the children notice what I am doing, and that they see creativity as a normal part of life. They're quite creative souls themselves, think I may display some of their work here too.

That's all for now, I'll share another part of the beautiful 'Desiderata' next time I write. You can find the entirety of the poem on the net, or you could visit the local library - a veritable treasure trove, and one of my favourite places on earth! Off to find my moment of silence ... bliss ...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Any type of creativity counts


Yesterday I was asked to make a shield. I was quite relieved to have something to think about as I was feeling a bit low - that little black cloud of depression sometimes still hovers on the horizon! Anyway, I really got into my activity, finding a suitable box to pull apart, drawing the dragon, putting it all together in such a way that it will hopefully last a week or two... By the time I'd finished it, just over an hour, I felt completely different, much better to my relief. All it had taken was to be present in the moment as I was creating. I've tried 'being present' to combat feelings of anxiety, but hadn't really thought of using the technique for those times I feel low. I will do so in future! Funny how the little things can help, hey? Happy to report that the shield met with my client's approval, although after having seen the ones used in the film 'Gladiator' he now has slightly bigger ideas. Think he'll have to wait a bit for that one!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Not writer's block!


I've been feeling a bit frustrated today - I feel as if I've got loads to do, and don't know where to start, so I haven't done anything. Ah! Christmas is just around the corner, and I've been determined to make most of the presents, rather than go out and buy stuff that people may or may not like. Part of me is wishing to give in and hit the shops, not very creative hey? I've also got several projects floating around in my head that I want to create on canvas or with my new found love of felting. It's almost like writer's block in reverse - I've just got too much to do and I don't know what to do first. Maybe I should be like an organized business person type and make a list of everything I need to do and then prioritize. Worth a try.

Anyway ... the picture is a little reminder for me not to stray from the path, and not to get into too much of a flap about everything! It's funny really, I was thinking I may have to switch my day around and make time for artistic pursuits, and how on earth was I going to do this. This afternoon I popped into a friend's shop to buy some crystals for my spirit dolls and as I was paying I picked up one of the cards on the counter (they're like 'wise words for today' type cards). This card's word was PROCESS and basically told me that I should head for my goal, but not push it too hard. Instead I should take it day by day and just enjoy the process of getting to my goal. So maybe I should stop panicking take a bit of time out to smell the roses and just enjoy the journey rather than get frustrated by it!

Just an aside, I did take a few moments out today to watch a bobtail lizard in our garden. We'd been hearing quiet scraping noises and wondered what it was, and on investigation discovered the bobtail walking right alongside the ground level windows, scraping it's tiny feet as it went. They are so gorgeous, though I must say the first time I saw one, I only saw it's head first and frightened myself silly thinking it was a huge snake, until the last part of its body walked past. They truly are a marvel though, I enjoyed my few moments watching it living it's life in our back yard.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A tiny post ...

Just a tiny wee post this time. I've just finished watching a program called "Face Painting" which features Australian cartoonist/artist Bill Leak, and shows the process of him painting a portrait of famous Australians who are no longer with us. He said one thing that resonated with me and I just had to put it here; he said that "art is either a matter of life or death, or it's of no consequence". That's how I feel about living the creative life, and from other creative people I've read about (or visited their blogs), they tend to feel the same way. It's great to see other people as passionate about the creative life as I am, it's inspiring.

OK, that's me stepping off my arty soapbox now! Have a wonderful day ...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

On matters of spirit and soul ...


Realized I haven't got very far in my 100 doll challenge, so have taken a photo of some spirit dolls that are under construction. These are prototypes of new shapes I'm trying, pleased with most of them so far, although I haven't decided how to decorate them as yet. It's great watching them come to life.

I've started reading a book called "Eternal Echoes - Exploring our Hunger to Belong" by John O'Donohue. It was recommended by a friend who knows I'm reflecting on homesickness, longing and belonging for a painting which is forming itself in my head. I've only read the introduction, but it is so beautifully written. I think he wrote it so that it could speak to our souls, and it certainly did that, it felt a bit like coming home. You'll have to read it to see what I mean! I did some research on him as I wanted to find some more poetry of his, and found out that he died in his sleep back in January this year. I felt a great sense of sadness, that such a poet and gifted writer was no longer here, but what a legacy he has left. He wrote such beauty that will go on to inspire others for lifetimes to come; true creativity.

Here's a poem from the start of the book, it paints such a vivid picture in the mind, enjoy:

Matins
I.
Somewhere, out at the edges, the night
Is turning and the waves of darkness
Begin to brighten the shore of dawn

The heavy dark falls back to earth
And the freed air goes wild with light,
The heart fills with fresh, bright breath
And thoughts stir to give birth to colour

II.
I arise to day

In the name of silence
Womb of the Word,
In the name of Stillness
Home of Belonging,
In the name of the Solitude
of the Soul and the Earth

I arise today

Blessed by all things
wings of breath,
delight of eyes,
wonder of whisper,
intimacy of touch,
eternity of soul,
urgency of thought,
miracle of health,
embrace of God

May I live this day

Compassionate of heart,
Gentle in word,
Gracious in awareness,
Courageous in thought,
Generous in love

by John O'Donohue

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Listening to your own advice & some meditation!


Why don't I take my own advice? A few days ago I was talking about keeping your eye on the ball and aiming for your dreams, not letting life distract you! Ooops! I've been feeling a bit sorry for myself today - I read a few items in the news that saddened me and I let them 'hook' me in; I got myself into a muddle in other areas of my life at present - and as a result have forgotten to do things and yes, I've taken my eye off the ball. Felt a bit annoyed with myself, but then that just takes you further along the downward spiral and is pointless really. So, earlier this evening I decided to practise my mindfulness techniques, and stay in the present moment. As I was taking the washing off the line I could feel the warm sun on my skin, which always makes me feel happier. Next door's cat had come round for a fuss and was friendly company, so I sat down on the flagstones which were warm from the day's sun, and just stroked the cat, and listened to a mad magpie in the distance imitating anything from a burglar alarm to a telephone, or at least that's how it sounded to me! Although noises of life were carrying on all around me, it was such a peaceful few moments, the feeling of 'aaaarghh!!' had left me. The reason I'm describing it in a creative journal is that we CREATE our own reality every day, and by being mindful I chose to enjoy the present moment rather than feel sorry for myself. I felt much better and am probably a much nicer person to be around as well!

Talking about sounds and taking time out brings me to my meditation beads above (or prayer beads). I got the idea for them from a lovely and inspiring book called 'Beading for the Soul' by Deborah Cannarella. The longer of the two pieces actually had one long bead as the centrepiece in the book, and just a tassel to finish. However, I liked the sound the purple shells made as they clinked against each other so I added them. The long string of beads reminds me of the 'worry beads' that I used to see Greek men counting as they prayed, when I was on holiday there many years ago. I've used a coin at the top to symbolize abundance (not particularly abundance of money). The tassel is made using some sari silk fibres and is attached to the beading cord with gold jewellery wire. One of my requirements for these pieces was that I had to use items from my stash and not buy anything new! Luckily for the shorter prayer bead piece I found a beautiful heart shaped glass bead. The glass beads are so lovely, colourful, sparkly (just love a bit of bling), and the knots are completed by having some more gold jewellery wire twisted round them (this is in the book too). I would definitely use these whilst meditating, but I think they would also make lovely charms for a bag or purse. I'm pretty pleased that they include the sensory perceptions of visual colour, touch and sound - they're not 'just' a string of beads, but rather they have meaning for me.

Right, off to design some Christmas cards, which I won't be showing here for a while-they're top secret!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Attitude of Gratitude



Had a relatively busy day today, my last job being to clean out the fish tank. Now the filter is working properly again and I can hear the bubbling in the background which I happen to like, and the fish are swimming round like it's their birthday. They're obviously happy to have their bubbles back too!

Well, I promised yesterday that I would tell all about my bush meditation walk. It was run by Linda from Creative Seeds, and a small group of us met at the studio and painted a background on a piece of MDF before driving out to a beautiful spot in the Kalamunda National Park (you can Google it and see just how gorgeous it is here). We stopped at a small stream whilst Linda explained that we would be reflecting on our 'lifestream' symbolized by the stream we were standing next too - basically a journey through our life and into our soul. We started with a short visualization and walked up the rocky path, stopping at intervals for Linda to guide us into meditating on the stages of our life - childhood, adolescence, transition to adulthood, where we are now. We imagined the struggles, the good times of each phase. It was really important to stay in the present moment, to go with the flow of life, and we did this by listening to our footsteps, the nature around us, and we weren't allowed to talk to each other, just give each other respect for our personal spaces.

For me personally it was quite a journey. I was expecting it to be a pleasant walk in the bush, with some likeminded company and some painting at the end. It was all of this and more, so I will just go into the highlights here. At the start I was entranced by the babbling of the stream as it crashed over the small rocks - it was lovely to listen to and I felt energized by it, it seemed to me to mark the flow of my journey through life. Linda also explained to us at one point as we stood on a huge bank of rock looking out over the city in the distance that as we get to adulthood we look at things from a bigger perspective. She also explained that no matter how hard we try to avoid things, our psyche will bring us back into line somehow and reconnect us with our lifestream, which we have probably lost track of through the distractions of life. I had a lightbulb moment as soon as she said it. I have suffered from depression and anxiety at different times of my life, and it seemed to me that this depression = reconnection for me. All of a sudden I could see depression as a means to reconnect with the flow of life, rather than as a weakness and that was so empowering!

Other highlights were an outcrop of rock Linda called a 'temenos' which is a sacred place. As I looked at it I could see a part of the rock that looked like the eye of an old man, and I immediately wanted to curl up and sleep on the rock it felt so safe and restful. As we walked back into civilization we walked through some lovely grass trees which had been burnt in a bushfire last year, Linda held up the grass on top of the plant to show what looked like a perfect pair of breasts!! This gorgeous plant looks like a woman dancing with her hair down, like life is to be celebrated, and is aptly named 'The Empress'. So I've included that image on the painting, and shown it in detail - I love the way these plants regenerate themselves, even after having been burnt they come back. Awesome. I've also painted a rock at the bottom of the board - the little curl is me asleep! Hope you enjoy the painting, I've called it 'attitude of gratitude' because after the walk I really felt like I'm thankful for everything that's happened in my life, even the dark times - just like the burning of the grass trees, they were an opportunity for growth.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday night ...

Well, it's Sunday again already and I'm off to do those horrible chores - ironing, eeeek, I hate it! Anyway, it's been a lovely weekend of socializing with friends, discovery and community. We went along to the local primary school's Spring Fair today and had fun buying books we've been looking for since I don't know when, Christmas cards drawn by friends of ours and sitting in a real fire engine. It had a real sense of community and all ages were there right from babies through to grandparents. Plus the weather has picked up from winter cool last week, to us all walking about with cherry tomato red faces it was so warm today!

I started the day with a bush walk meditation and some art making which I will tell you about tomorrow. My mind is still working on it, it was a brilliant journey 'into the soul' and I need to think about what I want to write. I made a painting which was very refreshing as I haven't painted very much for a while and I miss it. I just love the sweep of the brush and the flow of the paint. Lots of ideas in my head - I just need to get them down on paper/canvas. Until tomorrow then ...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

From little things, big things grow ...


Thought this picture was an apt choice considering my topic yesterday about following your dreams and taking the first step. A dream is a bit like a seed, the start of something big! My kiddies used to sing a song called, "from little things, big things grow ...", think they were talking about acorns and oak trees, but it could also refer to our visions for our future!

This particular seed is made from Cornish granite and resides in the core at the Eden Project in Cornwall, UK. It weighs over 75 tons, and is two stories high. It's amazing. I just loved touching the surface and feeling the texture and the energy coming from it. I'm sure it has a few blemishes, but to me it was just perfect, a beautiful work of art.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Late night thoughts

A short post tonight - have just finished my bookkeeping and my brain is feeling tired and hazy! Wanted to share another quote that is in line with how I've been thinking for a few days. I have a dream of being an artist and sharing my message that creativity is everyone's birthright, but sometimes I get a bit mixed up with other things that are going on in life and I get distracted by it. It's not that I forget my dream, I just take my eye off it for a second. And then it hits me - that feeling of having no direction, as if I'm wandering aimlessly and it feels very uncomfortable. A wise friend commented on this recently, saying that if I keep my focus on my dreams, everything else will fall into place around them. I've been mulling that over for most of the day and it really is very sensible! I'm now feeling as if I've found the path again and am heading in the right direction.

I think it's healthy for us all to have dreams, however large or small, and it's important to keep our eye on them, and head towards them one day at a time, which brings me to my quote:

"The distance is nothing, it's only the first step that is difficult." Marie de Vichy Charod, 1763.

So keep going, one step at a time!

Monday, November 3, 2008

My quilt is finished!


I wanted to post this last night, but the light had gone and I couldn't take my photo of my quilt, of which I am very proud. It's what you might call a freeform quilt, that is to say I didn't follow the usual quilting conventions when I made it! I saw a lovely quilt in a home magazine and immediately wanted to make one similar, using silky fabrics and velvet. So I didn't have time to equip myself with a rotary cutter and quilting ruler, I measured the rectangles with a ruler and cut them out with my trusty dressmaking shears and hoped for the best. I do now own a rotary cutter, which is fab for cutting everything, including body parts if you get them in the way (ouch). Seriously, keep them out of reach of little fingers, and your own, because they are deadly sharp and could cause a lot of damage and gore.

I did learn a lot from making a fair few mistakes, for example, I had to undo my tacking and smooth all the layers out again, because I hadn't started tacking from the middle as you're supposed to. Ooops - made a few ripples before I realized but it all adds to the character, and it's on the back so no-one will notice. I am very pleased with my shiny, tactile and cosy quilt.

The photo came out quite well - I've got a bit of the evening sun shining through our windows, and reflecting off the gorgeous satin. The teddy you can see in the background is one my mum made for me to take to university (19 years ago - my word!) Thanks mum! It still travels around with me!

Quite a crafty post tonight, a refreshing change after doing some bookkeeping (which I hate, but someone has to do it!) Even writing about creativity gives you a wee buzz after a busy day, good medicine for the soul.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Some art therapy


Here's a picture of what I painted for my art therapy session I did a couple of weeks ago. It's lovely and bright, I call it a sunburst; I just kept seeing lots of them popping into my head whilst I was doing the visualization. It was just beautiful. It was also great because I got the opportunity to use some gorgeous, expensive brushes and they just made the paint flow so easily! Looking at the painting a few weeks later makes me feel happy, I remember on the day feeling that I'd got something out of my system that was threatening to burst out - it was very freeing! Like I said before, you don't have to be having emotional problems to benefit from art therapy, sometimes it's good to express yourself just for the sake of it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Back again ...


Feeble I know, but I finally succumbed properly to the 'bug', whatever it was and spent lots of time lying around feeling sorry for myself. And after making fun of my husband for being victim to 'man-germs'. That'll teach me!

Anyway, back to feeling fairly normal, and the creative buzz flowing again. Hooray! As we've been talking about mandalas I thought I'd share a work that didn't initially start out as one, but ended up as a mandala style and could be quite healing in the process I think. It's a very rough drawing from my art journal, you might not be able to read the notes scribbled in the corner, but they explain I just had to get the idea on paper - I want to turn it into a painting very soon. It's quite personal - I was challenged to look at myself as a little girl, and to imagine being with her now - what would I do and how would I react to this younger me? I've always been a bit disappointed in my younger self as I remember being painfully shy and awkward around people, but as I imagined that little girl being me I realized I didn't dislike her, I just wanted to befriend her and encourage her - and that's where the picture came from. When I've painted it I'll publish it here, then you can see the continuation of my idea;jottings;painting process. I just love it when an image comes together!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

More mandala stuff ...


Here is an exercise I did after looking at the book 'Mandala' by Judith Cornell, who is an authority on mandalas. Can't remember why we had to draw it now, but looking at it reminds me of energy moving. It actually looks better in this photo than the real thing, I think the light from the flash must be reflecting off the white! The white pencil didn't work as well as I hoped, might be better if I had used pastels. Quite pleased with how it looks here though.

Meant to mention that the mandala from yesterday was drawn and coloured with 'Inktense' coloured pencils. You use them the same way as normal watercolour/aquarelle pencils, but they give a much more intense result just as their name implies. They aren't cheap, but every artist must have their vices!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Not much doing today


Just a quick blog today - the house is full of germs and we are all feeling a wee bit poorly! So thought I would choose a mandala to show today, think I had been investigating Celtic art and nature religions to come up with this theme of being 'one with the earth'. It was the first mandala I'd ever drawn and I found it very relaxing, also I love round things (explains the dotty blog template) so I think I will probably produce some more in the future. Will post a couple more I've done recently and explain a bit more about mandalas another time. This virus turns the brain to mush and I just can't think straight! Apologies for short and uninspiring blogging!

Monday, October 20, 2008

It ain't half hot ...

I spend a lot of time thinking about but not doing things, because I don't know how to do them, instead of having a go anyway and seeing how it all turns out. That's another great thing about this blog, it's inspiring me to try new things like the felt egg I made a couple of weeks ago. I didn't have a clue, but I wanted to share the results anyway (good job it turned out well!).

It's really too hot to blog - 34.5 degrees today, just the start of things to come. Yuck! So I will finish with a quote:

"The best angle from which to approach any problem is the try-angle." Author unknown.

I just love it!!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sustainability


Every time I walk out to the washing line I pass this amazing display of nasturtium in a battered old dustbin, but it's one of the most beautiful things in the garden! We actually ripped up some of the plant because it grows like a weed in this area, and put it in the bin to dispose of it. However, it seems the plant had other ideas, and after dying back after the first few days, it keeps coming back as this lovely voluptuous plant. Isn't it just gorgeous, I adore the colours, fiery and passionate.

What got me thinking was the question of "what sustains you? what keeps you going season after season?" Then as my mind does, it started a rollercoaster of other ideas. What sustains me each day, what energizes me to keep going? Firstly, my family sustains me, though of course I also expend a lot of energy on it - it's a two way street! And my art sustains me, I think I would be totally lost if I couldn't create a little something each day, even the 'routine' portfolio I talked about the other day. So, what sustains you, energizes you, where does your passion lie?

This blog has been somewhat of a revelation for me, not just the techno side of having to get to grips with a PC, but also that it makes me think about issues, ideas, creative processes each and every day, which in turn energizes me - and keeps the brain ticking over! And all that from a dustbin filled with flowers ...