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:

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

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.