Friday, February 27, 2009

Words don't come easily ...

Ach ... I have writer's block! Spent the day tidying the house as even I was fed up with it - so it must be really bad! Yesterday I was talking to a friend and bemoaning the fact my house was always messy, and she told me I was a creative type so it was to be expected and was OK. Bless her! But I just couldn't live with it anymore so went on a tidy frenzy and did no art at all, and now I haven't anything to write about. Oh. Well, I'm not going to worry about it and get myself in a muddle. I'll just go off and have a cup of tea in my tidy room and dream of doing something creative tomorrow!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Nearing completion ...

If you remember a while ago I posted a 'doll' body made entirely of cardboard cutouts! Here's the head for the doll, so I am nearing completion of my project. I made the head out of an amazing modelling material called 'efa plast light' by a German company called Eberhard Faber. It's light as a feather, so I think it would be possible to make big heads and they wouldn't weigh the doll down. It's fairly easy to work with, you can mix it with water to smooth it out and it hardens in the air. It's painted with acrylic paints - I've purposefully painted the mouth with iridescent gold highlights because I want the words to come out of my mouth to be good ones! This doll is about the intended result of my healing journey with the medicine dolls, i.e. for me to find my voice, speak it with conviction and believe in it. I'll write a fuller explanation of the whole process when I've finished the doll.

I had another great day with my art therapist friend Linda - we have been planning the creativity course that I will be running from her studio. Neither of us were inspired with a name for one of the introductory activities, so I've asked for a week to think it over and hopefully I'll be able to come up with something. All I've come up with so far is "Hatch a new hobby this Easter ..." I did say we were both lacking in inspiration! Maybe I should sit down with my art journal and do some doodles, you never know what might come up ...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Creativity of a different sort

Today has not been a very creative day, unless you count creating a mess! My sorting frenzy of my art stuff is nearly finished. I've boxed up what I need to take to the studio, and most of the rest is in plastic boxes here at home! Very organized. Long may it last ... :)

When I haven't been sorting, I've take time out just to 'be' with the kids. We went to the park and enjoyed the lower temperatures and playing on the swings in the rain. The weather definitely feels as if it's changing season, it has the lovely earthy scent of autumn in the air.

Back to being creative very soon (in an arty way); glad to say I've nearly finished working on the before and after dolls of my healing definition for my online course and should be able to share them with you in the next few days.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Another exciting art therapy experiment!

An experiment by myself at home - taken just after I put the paintbrush down.

My first effort!

Today I learned an art therapy activity from a friend who is learning all about holistic counselling. She very patiently listened to me talking about my plans for the future, and my fears of taking that step forward, then took me outside to play with watercolour paints! This technique is known as wet-on-wet. How you do it is by brushing water all over the back of the watercolour paper, then turning the sheet over and loading the other side with water. We're talking making a small paddling pool here, which for me as an artist was a bit strange - no structure or planning - help! Then taking a paintbrush in your non-dominant hand you start to paint as you feel led. No thinking is allowed! And you only have 3 colours on your palette - red, yellow and blue, though you are allowed to mix them. Away I went! Now they don't look too impressive at first glance, but that's the point; these aren't 'pretty' paintings, they are you having a conversation with your inner you!!

I was so excited by the first painting - I just touched the tip of the brush to the paper, and swirls and clouds would appear from nowhere! It's got an angelic feel, and as Leah turned the paper for me to have a look from different sides, I did see a few angels. I can see a figure sitting in the top centre of this piece, almost as if she has her arms folded around something. And the activity felt so relaxing and calming, it was lovely!

The second piece I tried as soon as I got home from visiting. This time I felt drawn to using the yellow as well, and I think it forms a shining centre to the image. As I stepped back and looked at the paper I could see the vision of a person, again wrapping their arms around the yellow centre. Both pictures make me feel nurtured and I find them very comforting. Funny how they both have the same theme of protection and nurturing, when as far as I was concerned I wasn't thinking about anything in particular!

Now the images aren't that great to be honest, and you may have trouble seeing what I have described, but it's well worth a try yourself. It only takes a few minutes, really, and it's so calming. Definitely art for the soul.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Short and sweet

Have been a bit obsessed today about sorting all my art materials and making a new space for them. I'm also dividing them so that I can have some at my new place of 'work', but most will stay at home. It's taking some doing, but I'm slowly getting there! So this week is my sorting week, then I will be able to see the wood for the trees and start on my venture to make art to sell on Etsy. Yay!

Creating order out of chaos! See, I still manage to get creativity in somewhere!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Varied reds

Red sky at night ... sun setting over Perth city

Homemade tomato sauce made from our lovely red tomatoes!

It's been a hot old day again in Perth. So I stayed in at home and did some spring cleaning, I was very good and put a load of yarn into a box to take to the CWA ladies in the week, so they can do lots of knitting if they want. I know some community groups are knitting lots of items for the survivors of the bushfire, who lost everything. Then I spoiled my good intentions of getting rid of my hoard by buying some 100% wool from ebay to do some felting with. Think I will have to store it at my 'studio' when it's ready!

I also made some tomato sauce today, because I thought it was a good idea at the time. Pity I didn't realize how long it was going to take to reduce it in the pan, then liquidize it, then re-boil with the vinegar and sugar, reduce again to the right consistency then put into the bottle. It tastes absolutely lovely, thank goodness, but it's a good job I'm not producing it to sell, I would definitely make a loss! There's only half a litre, which won't last long in our house as all the boys are tomato sauce fiends. Still, after all the whinging about how long it took I am secretly very proud of my cottage industry ketchup! Thought the bottle was particularly nice - it's from Italy you know!

Oh well, can't think of anything much to say ... think the heat has melted my brain again. Sorry, it's not a very inspiring blog, though the photo of the sunset is pretty stunning. I'm going to paint a triptych of the Perth skyline, so needed to get that shot. Roll on autumn!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Creativity abounds!

Yesterday was such a lovely day I just carried on right through and savoured all the gorgeousness of it, without sitting in our little office and shutting myself away to write my blog.

The best part is I am an aunty again! My sister had 2 little boys; it's always a reminder that whatever happens in our lives, life does keep going on anyway, always creating anew.

I've also had a couple of great art opportunities turn up - to run some creativity courses locally, details later, and an offer to become part of the Craft Corps Community set up by Vickie Howell. She's an awesome creative chick, who writes books and appears on TV, whilst finding the time to constantly be creative! As part of the community we will have our profiles on-line, linked to our website - or in my case, blog, but I will be getting a website sometime in the future.

One of the other great things that happened yesterday was I had a clear picture form in my mind of the importance of creativity to me personally. You know that feeling when you watch a small child jump without a care off a climbing frame, because they just KNOW that their parent is going to catch them in their awaiting arms? Well, I feel that I can take a step into the 'unknown' because my creativity is waiting there with open arms ready to support me. My creativity is blossoming as I practise more and more, and now I feel I can jump without fear and fall straight into the comfort of my art making. I think I may even paint the image, because words just don't convey how important this relationship between myself and creativity is. Now I didn't know I had that painting in me until I wrote this post - it's a bit like being on a live broadcast - you never know what will happen!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Waiting expectantly

Don't really have much to write about today - I've been thinking of my sister who is expecting her twin babies today. This is when being so far away from the UK really hurts! So I'm on call for when the phone rings and we get the good news! My mind hasn't really been on much else really :) You can tell I'm a bit nervous - I've been visiting craft shops and buying bits and bobs to make myself feel better. I did stop at a ball of wool for $16.95 though - even the cashier thought that was a bit steep, so I gave it back. I was very restrained and am duly proud of myself.

I'm off to finish knitting a baby cardigan now.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Something beautiful ...

Had a wonderfully arty day today, but I won't be showing what I created just yet, as it's part 1 of a 2-part project and I want to write about them together. It's another doll for the art doll challenge/healing medicine doll course, and that's all I'm prepared to tell you!

I have a book of inspirational messages which I dip into sometimes, and the one I chose today said that I would be given something beautiful and I was to watch out for it, and be thankful. This is what I love about life - the synchronicity of it all if you just wait and watch and be patient - all with an expectant heart. Well, we were in the park this afternoon having a fantastic time playing and hunting for acorns - looking for the very hard to find acorn with a hat! (But we managed it, just look at the photo). So that was beautiful in itself. But there were other gifts for us to receive. As we walked back to the car we found some feathers, one in particular was beautiful - purple in colour with dots on it - and some tidbits from the 'heART in the Park' event I wrote about yesterday. They're all on the plate in the picture, we found some felting wool (purple - my favourite) and the plate which we used to carry our treasures. The best of all though, was when my eldest called to me and said, "Mum, I found this and it's for you" - and there was a little stone that had been painted on the day and dropped in the grass, all alone. That was my something beautiful - my son holding out his hand, giving me this gorgeous stone. How lovely is that? I wonder who painted the stone? I'm glad they did, it has a new home here, and will go outside by my front door, where we're getting quite a collection of painted stones. One of which I painted when I was about 12, of a donkey I'd seen in Clovelly, Devon! To me it looks very childish, but my children are rather proud to have something painted by their mum as a child next to their creations.

Thank you for my lovely day and the beautiful something ...

Monday, February 16, 2009

heART in the Park!

Three little crafty creatures from 'heART in the Park'

How lovely - my second bouquet of flowers in less than 2 weeks!

Yesterday was a wonderfully creative day! We started off the morning by visiting 'heART in the Park', an event co-ordinated by the Zig-Zag Community Arts group, which aims to connect the community through the arts. There were lots of free activities to choose from, including felt making, claywork, Uthando dolls (a very worthy project, check out their website) and painting honky nuts and rocks, as you can see above, amongst other things. It was a lovely sunny day, not too hot, and there was a folk band playing music in the background, so it had the soothing vibes of a village festival on the village green.

Later on in the day I visited a friend who is a wonderful artist, although she would never describe herself as such, for a cup of tea and some chat - taking the time just to be. People as a rule don't do enough of that! Anyway, she played the accordion for me and it was absolutely delightful to listen to - I closed my eyes and could imagine myself in France somewhere, outside a small cafe eating croissants and drinking a latte. Oh, what bliss! So my creativity craving was satisfied very well yesterday!

Unfortunately, today it's been back to the real world and data entry for our business. :( Needs must!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

We hear lots of bad things in the news, and bad things do happen in life that is true. But good things happen too, and today seems just as good a day as any to celebrate the good things in life. For example, the bushfires in Victoria were awful, but the spirit of the people in Australia has been amazing as people have donated clothes, household items and money to the bushfire appeal. Yesterday, the local supermarket donated all of Friday's profits to the appeal and it was absolutely packed with customers who'd held off shopping earlier in the week to spend their money on this particular day. People have been really moved to help, and this is all in the spirit of love and is worth recognizing. When it really matters, people pull together - awesome.

Have a wonderful Valentine's Day - let's be good to one another!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Amongst the undergrowth

Last night before I went to bed I finished cutting out my 50 pieces of corrugated cardboard, and glued them together to make my Australian grass tree, which is going to be the body of an art doll. My husband thought it rather strange behaviour, and also could not believe my patience with all the cutting and gluing. I, however, see it as necessary activity in the pursuit of my art! The doll is supposed to resemble a woman with her arms thrown in the air, celebrating becoming whole - healed at last! It will all become clear when it's finished I promise you. As usual I like to give you a sneak peek into my creative process.

I am forever amazed at the art of film-making. Particularly the fantasy ones which need both a good storyline and fantastic costumes. Tonight we watched Hellboy 2, which is actually very good on both counts - full of weird and wonderful creatures, and very fairy tale like in its unfolding. I particularly like the God of the Forest, which when it is destroyed covers the streets of Manhatten in grass and ferns. From destruction also comes creation. You will have to watch it to see the other special effects - we were all spellbound!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Words of encouragement

No blogging yesterday as I was unwell, but I'm on the mend today and am not about to break the blogging habit, having worked so hard to create it! Being forced to slow down allowed me some time to contemplate, and I realized I'm a little scared about moving forward with my art enterprise. There I was joking about my Etsy store being empty the other day, but the fact is I need to produce items to sell in it - and I keep putting it off. And why? My old friend/enemy fear! I'm scared to do it, I might fail or even worse be so popular I can't keep up with demand!

Luckily I have my 'dream team' surrounding me :) That is to say the people who believe in me and encourage me to keep heading for my dream and not let go. What started all this train of thought yesterday was an e-mail from my dad who complimented my paintings and encouraged me to get my work 'out there'. (Thank you dad!). I started thinking about my dream again, and thought 'you know, you can do this!' I guess that's another thing that your dream team does, they pick you up, dust you off and send you on your way again. Thank goodness they do :) Hope I do the same for other people, I like life to be a two way affair ...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Musings on a hot country ...

This picture is a bit dark because I didn't use a flash, but I had to post it because just look at those shadows! Tomatoes in a pot, and tomatoes in silhouette - I love it! Anyway ... tomatoes may not be your idea of excitement, but in a country where everything is dry and shrivelled it warrants celebration when you have a harvest. And these are all just from today, and yes, I am excited about it! The doll in the centre was made by my daughter, and is the summer spirit doll. Isn't she lovely?

I've read with sadness that the death toll is rising for the bushfires. I feel so powerless to help over here in WA. I think it's affected me so deeply because it could so easily be us, as well as all the devastation it has caused to the communities. There have been pictures released of some of the families who have died, and it becomes even more real to those of us who weren't there. It's at times at these that I ask myself why is life not fair, I guess we'll never understand it. Still sending prayers of strength to all the people over there, victims, survivors and the emergency services but it all seems such a small thing to do. Just thinking over it all ...

Monday, February 9, 2009

What's in a name?

'Heading Towards the Light' (copyright Lara Geach)

Thought it was time to put in another photo of one of my paintings. It was painted quite a while ago, it was me trying to describe walking away from an old life to a new one a bit earlier in my journey of self-discovery. The book under the woman's arm is the book of her life. I like it because it's positive and I'm quite pleased how the light feathers out around her head like a halo! It was all accidental, I didn't have a small enough brush to paint right up to the edges of her hair - I'd painted a yellow undercoat on the whole canvas - but liked the effect so much I left it. It's all part of the creativity evolving moment by moment as I talked about a couple of posts ago.

I've also been musing about names today. I'm glad to say I love my name, (thank you mum and dad!) and am lucky enough to have two variations of it. Lara is the name I use everyday, but my 'real' name is Larissa, and only my gran used to call me that, so it's kind of special. However, I've been thinking recently that I would quite like to use Larissa as my artist name because it's just so lovely and I feel I should use it after almost 40 years! Part of me, however, thinks that is being a bit precious, so I'm going to ruminate on it further! I have created an on-line store on Etsy called Larissa Designs, and my mum liked it, which is always good! Don't go and look for wonderful art to buy though, because it's just a store with no merchandise at present! I will make a big announcement when there is something to sell!

OK, I have ruminated further, and think that it is my name, I love it and why shouldn't I use it! Will have to practise a bit though, as LMG is a lot easier to paint than Larissa, but what a nice problem to have!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A link for you ... and prayers ...

I've broken with my Sunday off of blogging because I forgot to post a link to the Gordon MacKenzie quote I posted yesterday. I've just read the article about him and his work as an artist in a corporate environment, Hallmark cards. It's really very interesting, and he views creativity as a necessity rather than a luxury, which is my way of thinking too. So have a read and enjoy!

Also thought it would be appropriate to spare a thought for the people of Victoria who've had to deal with the most horrendous and terrifying bush fires, many having lost homes and lives also lost. It seems such a small thing to do, but I think sending prayers of strength and love for them would be a good thing to do.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Blue lines of society

"Everyone has a masterpiece within him from birth ... when we are young, society draws pale blue lines, as if your life were a paint-by-numbers kit. The message is: If you stay in the lines your life will be a masterpiece. That's a lie. You have to constantly battle to be nobody but yourself. If you go to your grave without painting your masterpiece, it will not get painted." - Gordon MacKenzie

This mandala demonstrates my creative process (or at least one of them!) It all started with the doodle on the back of an envelope that I posted 2 days ago. After ruminating on it for a while I decided to use some of the symbols and colour schemes, and that I would draw a mandala including these elements. Then I decided to take the concept of the 'pale blue lines' and drew my circle and the spokes with blue pencil. The inner circles are drawn with my compass, but the designs on the outer edge are drawn freehand, to reflect the desire to break out of boundaries set for us, but which may not be appropriate for our lives.

I like the way the colours sometimes run into each other, have fuzzy edges or are fainter in some places than other - it all gives the impression that this is all quite tenuous - society holding onto us, or us holding onto society - I'll leave you to mull that one over.

The art of creativity for me is a step by step process, that can evolve at any time along the way. I only thought of using blue to draw the mandala tonight after reading the quote - in fact I had only rediscovered the quote today as well - I'd decided to draw a mandala a couple of days ago, but the individual elements fused together today. The writing and designs around the outside of the mandala came into my mind as I was colouring the outer edge. Creativity is a continuous journey of discovery, a way to discovering who you really are.

Friday, February 6, 2009

A day of celebration!

Flouncing about in our sega skirts - sunshine joining in!

The beautiful sunset viewed from our drive tonight

What a lovely birthday! I was brought breakfast in bed and opened presents from my family. It was a great start. My big treat was lunch out at a winery in the Bickley Valley, it is such a relaxing place.

Us girls decided to get into the party spirit and wore our sega skirts which were made for us when we were lucky enough to visit the divine isle of Mauritius on a stop off back from the UK. We felt very exotic! Then after dinner we all sat on our drive and watched the sunset. The kids said that it was a present just for me from God for my birthday. I thought that was quite special!

The other reason for celebrating today is that I have achieved my 100 days of blogging!!! Hurray!!! It's been so much fun, I'm definitely going to carry on. I know I don't always include something arty in each post, but just writing is a creative act, and it certainly has helped me with my art and creativity. I need to think about what I'm going to talk about, whether I want to produce something for the blog and it also helps me to focus my ideas. The amount of artworks I have produced since starting this at the end of September has certainly increased - we're beginning to wonder where we will find the room. So, yes, I'm here for a while. Thanks also to the people who have encouraged me with their comments, both here on the blog and personally. You're lovely and it means the world to me!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A nice glass of Chablis ...

Here's a little doodle I made on the back of an envelope today. Just felt like using my coloured pencils which I'd left on the kitchen table. Was thinking of drawing a mandala with some of the symbols I'd made, but am so tired, so will leave it for now. There is no right way up to it, as I kept turning the paper as I worked. Wonder what that means?

Well, I am having a pre-birthday treat. I went to see a friend this evening, who lent me a lovely book, and I will put 2 of the quotes I enjoyed from it at the end of this post. Then I went to the bottle shop to choose a bottle of wine for my birthday eve drink - I quite fancied a French wine, and there happened to be a Chablis which I have never tried before. Must say, it's lovely! Spent quite a while chatting with my friend about life, the universe and everything, and now I'm feeling quite exhausted, and with my wine I have a nice, warm feeling that's telling me it's time to go to sleep soon! So I'll leave you with those quotes, they are from the book "A Recipe for Dreaming" by Bryce Courtenay.

"Whatever the dream, no matter how daring or grand, somebody will eventually achieve it. It might as well be you".

And my personal favourite (which concluded the book):

"Life is too short to iron tea towels".

And so, to bed ...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Colourful surprises!

Other side of the Sue Janson mug

Gorgeous birthday surprise!

I had a really nice surprise today - a loud knock at the door and someone waiting there with the most beautiful bunch of flowers for me. My sister (who lives in the UK) had arranged for some flowers to be delivered for my birthday which is at the end of the week. So I had to put them here to show them off, they're too gorgeous to keep to myself! You can also see in the picture a mug I treated myself to when I went to buy a vase for the flowers - that's a glass jug! I couldn't resist this mug - the design is called "Orange Grove" and is by an Australian artist called Sue Janson, who is a self-taught artist. Her designs are so colourful and full of life. You must take a look! My intention was to buy a glass or mug to try and encourage me to drink more water; I thought I'd be persuaded to do this if the receptacle was one I really, really liked, and this is so gorgeous and just perfect!

Some of today has been spent sorting through my 'stuff'. Very painful for a hoarder! But we've got so much, and it's become too much! So I invoked the law of packing, wherein first you sort and throw stuff out, then you sort through the sorted stuff again and throw another load out! The pile I'm left with is still a lot bigger than the pile for the charity bin, but at least my original pile is smaller. I reckon it will take about 2 years to sort this all out, but it will be worth it! Being clutter free also seems to make me feel lighter for some reason - must just be by association!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Pirate hat finished!

Well, the pirate hat was finished today, and here's one happy customer, complete with moustache made from scraps of felt cut from the hat. When I suggested shaping it a bit more, the reply was "no, I like it just like this", so I am happy too! As I said it's inspired me to want to do more felting and I've been surfing on the net to find some sites on making felt hats. I even managed to find one with a slide show of how to make a hat on a hat form, and the felter used bubble wrap instead of netting to stop the fibres sticking to her hands during the early stages of the felting process, which is great as I have lots of bubble wrap sitting round, and now I have a use for it! I did find that the felt stuck to my hands when I was making it last night, and could be why it was a bit lumpy in places! Think I will try another hat using a plastic pattern such as this one, and also making a square piece of felt then cutting hat pieces out and sewing it. May as well have fun experimenting to see which is best.

Yesterday, whilst I was busy felting by the sink I heard a comment from my husband along the lines of "you're in your own happy world over there aren't you", and I was! Totally absorbed, almost like meditation! That's what I love about art, it kind of takes you out of this world for a while, into a place that's calm yet exciting. It adds a whole other dimension to life.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Stage 1 of Pirate Hat

Wow - I actually managed to produce a hat, even if it is a bit rough looking! I am very pleased with it, not bad for a first attempt. Don't think I'll go through all the stages though here until I have practised a bit more and sound like I know what I'm doing. At the moment I would have to write 'lots of hot water, rub in circles, panic, keep rubbing until it feels felty', and that's not really that informative is it. The panic bit kept recurring though :) But - in the end I had a hat shape and that is all that matters to me, and the person that commissioned it. I promise you that it will indeed look like a pirate's hat in the end! (It might need some persuasion with scissors and a needle and thread ...)

It is really quite good for teaching me to remain calm even though I do panic and think it isn't going to work. You just have to keep on using the water and soap and handling the wool until it 'feels' right. You've got to hang on in there! The first photo are my materials gathered, second is the lovely fluffy and soft Merino wool fibres which were chosen for the hat by my 'client' laid out on the plastic pattern and the final picture is my finished article, which looks like one of my granddad's trilby hats. I am quite tempted to make one for myself. Do you like the little sheep looking on in the background. It lives by my sink usually, so it hardly had to move to appear in the picture!

The other day Violette was asking if we had any trinkets hanging around the house that remind us of an event, place or person. In the top photo you can just see some bells which are hanging off my brass unicorns which I bought from a hippie shop in Lampeter, Wales, where I was at university. Even though that was 20 years ago (my that sounds like a long time ago!) I still remember the high street and town as if I was there only recently. I couldn't ever part with my unicorns, I remember my time in Wales every time I see them!