Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Felt like scribbling a doodle tonight and colouring it in, no agenda - and look what happened! I've called it the 'Lovebird'. Also practised signing my name as Larissa, my artist name!

Today I went up to school to help out with the 'Easter Extravaganza' - lots of Easter craft activities for the kids. I think the children enjoyed themselves playing with paint, glitter and glue, but I was the one who was overwhelmed, it was so noisy and busy! The excellent thing about it was that kids were being encouraged to be creative and enjoying themselves doing so. It's just getting older that makes me grumpy about noise levels! :)

Oh, and today I am famous! I've appeared in a newspaper article about art therapy in the West Australian. It talks about Linda of Creative Seeds, and she'd asked me to do a testimony as to how art has helped me, and we were printed!! I feel very proud. Take a look if you have a few moments.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Arrival of autumn

Another sunset picture! This one had the most amazing colours - this photo just doesn't do it justice, the colours were much more vivid when we first noticed but in the few seconds it took me to go inside and get the camera, the colours became more muted. It's still stunning though.

So, what did everyone do for Earth Hour yesterday night? At 8.30 pm our family voted for Earth, and turned off all the lights for one hour. We lit some candles and the children went to bed by torchlight. It was all very exciting. Actually it was a refreshing change to sit without the TV on and enjoy the quiet. I thought we'd talk about deep and meaningful stuff, but we just lay on the sofas and savoured the silence. It was bliss!

Today was the end of daylight saving in WA, so dad, you are now 7 hours behind us! It's strange that this marks the start of autumn, but it's still pretty hot out here, mid-high twenties and the sun feels very strong. We spent today in the garden, pruning back the roses, moving a shed and planting cuttings; another season means more jobs! So no time for anything arty :( I will make up for it in the week! I am having a bit of a revamp of my wardrobe though and am either throwing out or altering clothes so they last for a bit longer. Will even attempt to make a skirt from a pair of jeans and will post the result here if it works, together with the link to the site that tells you how. Last weekend I ordered some fabric from e-bay to make some clothes for my daughter, and somehow managed to order some for myself too ... Looks like the long winter evenings are going to be busy!!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Zero tolerance for technology (yesterday that is!)

Obviously today technology is my friend again. My husband made the PC much better and today it's working!

Yesterday though, I took a break and painted for the day. It's a move away from my usual people on a smaller canvas - this canvas is about 100cm x 80 cm, and is a commission for our room by my husband. I'm using colours I don't usually paint with, I'm a bright colours girl and this is in neutral earthy tones - I'm more used to wearing them than painting with them. But it will do me good to have a change. As you can see from the photos I've drawn a band of Celtic knots down the left side of the canvas, and on the right hand side are two swirls, a very loose interpretation of the New Zealand koru. I suppose it's a painting to symbolize the two sides of my life on the two different 'sides' of the world.

On a technical note, the koru are made of thick jute twine which I glued onto the canvas then covered with tissue paper soaked with PVA glue - you can move the tissue around slightly with the glue brush to give interesting texture and it also helps to hold the jute onto the canvas. I will paint over it in acrylic paints when I'm happy with the texture and layout. A few years ago I took a book out from the library, I think it was called 'The Celtic Knot Workbook' and it taught a wonderful method of drawing Celtic knots using a grid method. You simply plot points, join them up and them draw the 'ribbons' along these lines. At first it really feels as if the whole thing is not going to work, but as long as you remember that the ribbons go alternatively under then over the ribbons it intersects with you can't go far wrong. It's very meditative as after a few minutes you just slip into it and the only awareness is of the progression of the ribbon. It takes patience and practice but it really is worth a try. I'm still working out of my exercise book that I practised the lessons in, but one day I hope to draw some knots freehand.

I'll post pictures of the work as it progresses because I think it's always interesting to document your work and also to share the process with people. I'm sure all artists would tackle the same project in completely different ways.

It was very restful painting. I've been concentrating on items to make for a craft stall and neglected my painting which is my first love. I need to do more! Still, all creativity is great to me and I'm really enjoying this plethora of artistic activity!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Technology-sometimes I want to scream!

This is not going to be a long post! I've been having trouble with the PC all day, my laptop does not want to connect to the internet, and now I've been loaned the smallest notebook in the world and I can't touchtype on it so it's taking me ages! Also the spacebar seems to stick sometimes so I have to go back and put spaces in and it's really stressing me out!! Computers can be so annoying, which is why I'm an artist and not in IT... (but I do love my blog!)

Right, have to stop now before I throw this computer out of the window!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Rainy day musings ...

Today it's been raining! Yay! So I went outside this evening with my youngest and we planted our baby strawberry plants a friend had given us yesterday. Now the plants will all get watered by nature and hopefully last a bit longer!

When we went into the village today we saw that someone had been creative in the car park. The asphalt had broken up over the months in one place, so this clever creative had picked up some of the pieces and laid a path of stones and built a tiny village with the asphalt pieces. I was gutted that I didn't have my camera with me - it was definitely worthy of being posted on the net. Hopefully it will be left alone over night and I'll get a photo of it tomorrow.

I've been feeling a bit frustrated today. A friend has been encouraging me to 'step up to the mark' with my art and visions of having my own creative business, and just reach out and take it. The thing is, I don't know what to do first! I have lots of paintings to paint, lots of dolls to create and ideas for workshops, but don't have much sense of direction or focus. Is it time to put a business plan down on paper properly rather than keep it in my scruffy notebook and as ideas in my head? A business plan doesn't really feel that arty, but I guess we do have to live in the real world! And a sense of direction always helps you to get where you want to go!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Needle-felting and happy doodles!

Whiteboard doodle by talented artists

My first needle-felting project completed

Don't you just love finding doodles that make you smile? I liked this spider that had been a 'joint' doodle by my children. It looks so cheeky and happy, I had to include it here.

Last night I completed my first needle-felting project. Farbles! (Felt marbles!) All you do to create these little beauties is to alternatively wind a small amount of wool fibre and some wool in layers until you've built up a small ball shape, which looks incredibly fluffy and lacking in substance! Make sure the last layer is wool fibre. Then you place the fluffball on a foam block and carefully push the felting needle in and out at intervals over the ball until the wool is secured, then continue inserting the needle all over until it's felted. The longer you use the needle the firmer the ball will become. Be careful with the needles! They need to be pushed in straight so they don't bend or snap, and they are extremely sharp and you don't want to stab yourself. I had to cut one of the farbles in half to see the colours inside, and you can see from the photo that it is felted right through. It's such an amazing process. I want to make lots of them now! I'm thinking that you could perhaps make smaller ones as beads then thread them onto a necklace or bracelet. Very original fibre art!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Natural creativity

An artistic take on yesterday's leafy creativity!

Yesterday we went for a walk on the new concrete paths which have been put down in our suburb. I quite liked the rustic no pavement look, but well, I guess they had their reasons for neatening nature up! Anyway ... nature got her own back in a very creative way. As we walked along we noticed that some leaves had fallen and stuck into the concrete whilst it was setting. Some of the leaves had already eroded away, and left beautiful leaf shaped indentations. We had great fun finding other leaves that were still stuck to the pavement and peeling them up to reveal the natural art underneath. It was interesting to feel the texture as well - some of the indentations were silky smooth and in others you could feel where the veins of the leaf had been. We were fascinated and it must have added an hour onto our short walk! See, creativity happens where you least expect it - you just have to look!

Today I have been a busy bee writing up a new resume (CV for Poms like me!) and cutting out patterns for a new design of spirit doll - it's a bit larger than the ones I have posted about before. Don't know how they will go, as their arms are obviously bigger too, and are pointing upwards. I did think today that this may be a design flaw waiting to happen as I'm not sure if they'll bend and become wonky after time passes. It will need some R&D I think! Maybe I can strengthen the whole lot by painting over in PVA once I've painted the doll with acrylics. I will post my findings here ... I've also been dreaming of making some beads by needle felting, which I've never tried before, but hey, that hasn't stopped me so far in my artistic endeavours! I've got the wool, I just need a bit of space and quiet so I can use the needles without getting distracted - they are very sharp and have barbs on them (ouch) to tease the fibres together, and you can injure yourself if you're not careful.

The weather is cooling down as autumn approaches as well, so I treated myself to a lovely, fluffy new dressing gown today as my much loved, but very old one, has become threadbare and is falling apart at the seams. The new one is so soft and comforting I almost can't wait for the chilly winter mornings!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bags of creativity

Hurray! Finally finished knitting my lovely green bag, after having to undo most of it the previous day. At the moment it hasn't got much structure, but wait until it's been felted! It'll look gorgeous!

I spent the first part of my day helping at school today. My duty was to organize the kiddies painting some animals they are going to make from paper plates and paper shapes. They were so excited, I had a little queue of people waiting for their go. It's so lovely to see children eager to create - such a shame we lose the will to do so as we get older. Notice I don't say 'ability' to create - we all have the ability we've just forgotten how to use it! Let's rediscover that childlike enthusiasm for creating, I say!

I'm typing this in bits, as I'm trying to upload photos of my healing definition dolls to the medicine dolls online group. It's taking quite a while, but it's good to see the process put in order rather than just as photo files on my PC. Each step emerging, a real creative journey.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A breath of fresh air ...

No posts for the last couple of days because I've had a cold. I've still got earache, but I missed writing my blog, so here I am. We decided to go out today to get some fresh air and make ourselves feel better. It's a few months since we visited Araluen Botanical Gardens so we decided to take the kids for a jaunt there as they've never been before - we could walk sedately along the paths, and they would be able to run around and climb on the rocks and play poohsticks in the river. They weren't expecting a wonderful, tree-filled, magical landscape, just gardens with some flowers! But Araluen is a place of magic and beauty, from the pink amyrillis to the gnarled tree trunks made into seats, which quickly became a king's throne in the imagination of children. My husband managed to snap a picture of me away in my own world, absorbed by the beautiful and vivid colours of the petunias. The children were reluctant to go back home, they were so entranced with the place. It's definitely one of my favourite places in Australia.

Painting has come to a standstill with my cold, although I do have a few pictures forming in my mind. So I have been knitting, and using circular needles to knit a bag, which I'm going to felt when I've finished it. Unfortunately, I started at the wrong place, so the increases weren't where they were supposed to be, and if I hadn't realized and felted it, I would have ended up with a real topsy-turvy-twisty bag! So I had to undo nearly all of it back to the base, and am starting again. It must be teaching me patience, and also to go with intuition - I thought there was something amiss when I'd only done a few rows, but thought it must be the design of the bag! I'll listen to that little voice next time, and take a look at the pattern and the shape of my knitting ...

Must go, need to have a Lemsip, then off to bed - still feeling sorry for myself!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Knit one ... (two!)

Hurray! I've knitted my cardigans for my little nephews. Just hope they fit by the time they get to the UK! I had to change sizes and knit one larger cardi when I found out that although they are twins, the boys are a good size! So that's why no blogging last night, I was frantically finishing these gifts, then knitting a couple of tension squares with 100% wool yarn so that I can test how they felt, as I'm intending to knit some hats and slippers for this winter. Most definitely some slippers for myself because I hate to have cold feet, and believe it or not it does get quite cold in Perth in the winter; and also some for a craft stall I'm planning later in the year.

These items actually knit up quite quickly using circular needles, and I've finally mastered the correct way to hold the needles, which has made my knitting much speedier and more comfortable for my hands. Less RSI! At present I'm knitting a bag with some lovely green pure wool, and I adore the colour, it's so earthy and reminds me of trees. I love knitting it just so that I can look at the colour. Colour is amazingly important to me, today I bought some potatoes because they had purple skins. They don't taste any different, but the colour is awesome!

As we're on a knitting theme tonight, I thought I'd include this quote which is just so gorgeous:

"Hearts knitted together with love can never be pulled apart." - Kate Knapp

Isn't that just so sweet! Yes, I know I'm soppy ...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Lessons in business

My lovely 'aura-soma' cuff!

Last week I chose an Aura-Soma colour of light blue and magenta, and when I went to the shops a couple of days later, I saw some ribbon in the same hues so of course had to buy it, especially as I had in mind to make a cuff. Now the aura-soma colour I chose related to creativity and wanting to share it with everyone, e.g. by teaching! Which was very appropriate as I am going to be doing some creativity lessons at Creative Seeds very soon. If you check out their website you can also get some information on Aura-Soma.

I sat down with my ribbon, some felt and my sewing box, and just started to make the cuff. I took notes at the same time for future reference, because I'm thinking of selling these cuffs on Etsy - everyone needs some colour in their lives, and this is a good way of making it portable but visible at the same time. I sewed the ribbon to the felt, which I'd measured to go round my wrist to just touch ends. I used embroidery threads in the same tones, and whip stitched gold thread through the running stitch. One of the things I found out is that the gold thread I used for the 'whipping' stitch did not like being pushed through the felt and fell apart! You're OK if you use short lengths though and are very gentle ... The final touch was to add a pretty sparkly button on one side, and a small elastic hoop on the other side to make the closure. I want to make another cuff using velcro for the closure to see which works best.

But, it did take quite a while to make and I don't think I would make heaps of money by selling them - I've got to think of ways to make it more economical. Being the typical artist I would quite happily sit for hours and make a few and sell them for not very much. It was pointed out to me however, that if I want to run a business I have to think of profit margins, something I think a lot of artists and creative people have a problem with. It's not enough to do it all just for love if you want to buy groceries! (Shame though!) It's quite a learning curve trying to combine doing what you love with making money at it - I wonder if it's possible?

Oh well, at least I have a lovely colourful cuff to wear and remind me of my creative aspirations - keep following the dream!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Healing Doll - part 2

Doll number 10

I am pleased to announce that I've finished my healing dolls! (Well, the practise ones from my healing definition - still lots of work to do for the course!) This is part 2, that is when healing is complete, the bringing of balance and freedom. It's based on the grass tree I saw on one of my bush meditation walks with Linda from Creative Seeds. It has a very womanly shape, which I have tried to replicate on my little cardboard cutout, and then highlighted with gold paint just to make sure! I realized also that my before healing doll was flat, very one dimensional, whereas this healing doll is a 3-D model - coming into fullness. This was totally unintentional, but I think it's great visually to describe the process of healing, so I was very pleased with my 'accident'. I made the grass out of felt cut into a fringe then rolled up tightly, before being stuck to the top of the branches/arms with craft glue. The kids would each bring the doll into me, with me crying "it's only just been glued", but they were so impressed with it, they wanted to talk to me about it. It's great having a ready made fan club at home. Love them all!! xx

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Teeny tiny post

"A life lived in fear is a life half lived."

I saw this quote in the opening credits of the movie 'Australia' on Friday, and it's been buzzing around in my head ever since. So now you can share it too! Very powerful don't you think?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Creative Distraction

Not exactly the post I promised yesterday. I got a bit sidetracked, being nurse again and building a fab boat out of cards! It took me an hour and a half to build, but how awesome does it look? I don't know how sturdy it is, but it is certainly pleasant to look at! It's by a company called Klutz and they make all sorts of crafty activity sets accompanied by a how-to book. Think they market to children, but adults obviously get a lot of fun out of the sets too! I did buy a bracelet loom and bead set to make some lovely woven bracelets, but haven't got round to using it yet. Maybe it's about time I took it out of hiding!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Healing Doll - part 1

Doll number 9

This doll arose as part of a challenge set by Barb Kobe from my healing medicine doll course. It's not one of the healing dolls proper, it's a visualization of part of my definition of healing. This is part 1, i.e. before healing. The doll is wounded, hence the knife in her side, and the flames around her head symbolize both the pain of her wounds, and also the light that she is shining on her wounds which will ultimately bring her to healing. I made a mistake by getting the back of the doll stuck to a piece of scrapbooking paper I had on the table, but then I thought it would be good to incorporate the back of the doll into my design, so I wrote my healing definition on the back. The hand is covering the face in a gesture of despair, of wanting to be hidden from the world.

The materials I used were handmade paper, the beautiful purple colour of spirituality, with its texture and dried flowers and leaves added an extra dimension; for the flames I used some collage papers that my creative class produced last year - these were also used for the heart. Other items used were a gold gel pen for the spirals and my favourite fine liners for the face details and writing.

It took quite a while to make the doll from a doodle I'd made in my journal (about 3 hours), but I feel the process was therapeutic - I was really looking at myself as a wounded person, but one that is on the journey to healing and it felt good. There's a lot of power in looking at the shadow side of oneself, but it takes courage to do it. The benefits are enormous though.

Tomorrow I'll be posting the second part of the healing process - towards completion! It's quite a different doll. Until then ...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Recuperation time

There's been a break in service! The temperature drops by about 12 degrees and everyone becomes ill! And someone has to act as nurse as well :) Hopefully I'll be able to blog about something tomorrow. I fell asleep at 8 pm I was so dozey, and woke with a start when I remembered I still had my Tuesday night jobs to do. Just don't want people thinking I'm forgetting my blog, it's a habit I don't want to break.

Until tomorrow ...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sunday's sunflower

Could this possibly be the world's smallest sunflower? On the packet it did say they were seeds for 'dwarf sunflowers', but surely this is exceptional? It is beautiful though.
I have taken time off from my arty projects because I'm trying to finish the baby cardigans for my little nephews. They were born slightly bigger than I expected them to be, and I have to finish the cardies before they grow out of them - so now it's knitting frenzy time! I do, however, plan to finish my healing dolls in the next couple of days. Everyone else on the course seems to be producing their dolls at a fair rate and I'm still stuck on my preparation dolls! Could this be a sign of some kind? Maybe that I just need to work at my own pace and not worry about what everyone else is doing! That would be a valuable lesson for me, I'm always worrying about what everyone else thinks, and sometimes it leads me to get stuck and not do anything ...
Yesterday I was extremely decadent and bought a French magazine from a gift shop in our village. It has no English text in it, so I haven't really got a clue what it's saying if it uses vocabulary any more difficult than my O-level French can cope with, but the cover was so colourful and there was an article about a French textile artist and I was seduced by all the colour and texture. Being such a visual person it's a real treat to just look at the pictures and enjoy the colours and European houses and decor ... just as well really that pictures have a universal language no matter what country you live in. That's why art is so fabulous!