Friday, July 31, 2009

Vive la difference! Celebrating diversity ...

My lovely new yarn gathered in my trusty jute bag

Rocking chair in the dappled sun at the entrance to the shed - bliss

My first attempt at scrumbling is in the bottom lefthand corner - I just had to make the tiny flowers and hearts because I liked the look of them, and the hexagon was just calling out to me. Don't actually know what I'm going to do with that. More pictures as my work of art progresses!

I spent a lot of yesterday scrumbling in my shed. What, you may ask, is scrumbling? Well, it is a fantastic freeform version of crochet and knitting, and to pardon the pun, I think I may be hooked. It all started because, to be honest, I've had a heavily emotional week and I woke up yesterday wanting to do something creative to soothe my soul and I knew immediately what I wanted to do - create a fabric out of lovely bright wools. Plus, buying some new yarn is a kind of (retail) therapy, giving one a double lift in the day! So, after dropping children off to school I called in at my local craft shop in the next village and bought some lovely yarns I was attracted to by colour. Then I raced home, gathered supplies and sat up in the shed at the top of our garden. I wanted to create something in the fibre arts that was akin to a painting, and knew I had to scrumble! My thought process was that fibres are comforting to work with, you can choose soft to the skin wools and use a hook or needles to make them go wherever you wish. I think it has something to do as well with these fibre arts being old and established - they give me a grounded feeling! Which I so need.

It was indeed like being in my own private paradise, sitting crocheting with no agenda and no pattern in mind, the only sounds being an occasional aircraft and the birds in the trees. And the air up in the Hills is so, so fresh - I'm really not making it up, it's so pure. Mmmm ....

You can see my attempts in the pictures above, I started by making shapes that I fancied and began to put them together today. Although I have said I had no particular pattern I was following, the actual motivation was to create something totally unique, from bits and pieces that came together as a glorious, perfect whole. My visualization of celebrating difference and diversity. Down with conforming to other people's opinions - be yourself and be proud! You see it's been that kind of a week, and the only way I could express it was through art - I am so thankful for creativity!!

To see a real expert on 'scrumbling' take a look at Prudence Mapstone's webpage - her work is amazing and may inspire you to let go of rigid patterns and freely follow a path that may be unseen but is more in keeping with your spirit!

ps - another blogging milestone - I've reached 200 posts! Yay!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Oh, what shall I write about?

I am a little bit annoyed with myself as I had planned to post a verse from a poem my eldest son wrote this week, part of which was inspired by a painting of mine - but I can't find the painting!!! Aaargh! So I will save it for another time. Then I was faced with a dilemma of what to blog about - I'd left it much too late really to take any photos of my art I'd made at a chakra workshop as the light wasn't right, but I wanted to write about something. Frustrating!
Then I looked across at my beautiful flowers in their vase and thought 'perfect'. I am always amazed at how nature can calm you and inspire you, plus I haven't taken photos of flowers for a while and winter is a good time to be reminded that the world is still a colourful place. Unlike my flowers I received back in February these have lasted for almost 2 weeks and still going strong! So I can enjoy them for that little while longer, and I do so enjoy having fresh flowers in the house. A little glimpse of them can lift the spirits no end! (And, wow, did I need that today - I left the school parent meetings wondering why I am sending my kids to school, but this is not the time or place to discuss my misgivings). Suffice to say, I am going to read more of Sir Ken Robinson's books to see if he has any advice on how parents can cope!
In the meantime I will look at my flowers and bathe in their short-lived but undeniable beauty.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The beginning of the journey ...

I've had to do this blogpost in two parts as for some reason Blogger wouldn't let me upload all 8 photos into one post. So although this post is written second, the photos are from the first part of my walk. This lovely old tree was caught in a mini bushfire I presume - trying not to think about it too much because it's just behind our house! But I adore the smoothness of the surface and the curves along the length. When I walked around to the side of the tree and took a photo from a different perspective it formed a perfect frame for the surrounding bush. Notice the little grass tree in the foreground. I'm rather fond of this native plant; they fascinate me with their ability to rise up from the ashes when they've been burnt, yet at the same time they are rather tender things in that if you buy a rescued plant from a specialist nursery you really have to look after it to ensure it thrives in the new surroundings. They can quite easily die if not given the proper care and attention.
In the final picture you can see more grass trees and a huge granite rock glistening in between the trees. This rock is where I sat for a while meditating about life and where I found my 'little fairy village' as well as rainwater rock pools. I like sitting on the huge boulders around this area, there's something safe and ancient about them, you really feel 'grounded' sitting on the foundations of our hills. I really should make the effort to walk more in the bushland around our suburb, there is a kind of prehistoric beauty that is unique to this country.

One moment in time ...

Here are some more photos of my walk at the beginning of this week. I was starting to be concerned that it was getting further away from the day I took my revitalizing walk, but all that a camera does is capture one moment in time. Everything will have changed subtly since taking these pictures, and it doesn't really matter when I share them. Time is a strange concept if you start thinking about it too much!

The inside of a grass tree - I just loved the red brown of the 'seeds' contrasting with the burnt black. It's almost a mandala!

The wonderful colours of nature - red, red earth, green grass and grass trees and the grey heavens.

I thought this looked a little like a fairy kingdom amongst the rocks - notice the water is rippled - it's starting to rain. Proof I'm not a fairweather walker!

Raindrops splashing in another rock pool.

I love this image - the tree in silhouette against the hills of the village on the opposite side of the valley, the fine grey of the sky and the grass trees and bushland in silhouette to the foreground. Grey, black and white can be very interesting!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Spirit Dolls with a story

Today I held my Spirit Doll workshop - there were 5 of us altogether, and you can see from the photos above what an awesome time we all had! Spirit dolls are a really calming activity, we were all quiet for ages just enjoying the painting and each other's company. This time I had the participants write their story of their dolls on a luggage label, to remind them of their creative process and any message they may have for themselves. For example, I called my doll 'loving kindness' and on the reverse of the label I wrote "stop beating yourself up", as I am often being told this by my support groups of family and friends! A good instance of that would be when I wrote 'that' blogpost just over a week ago questioning why I was writing at all. Thankfully I got over it and am still enjoying journalling my creative thoughts and anything else that happens in my life!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Great weather for ducks ...

Well, you may have guessed it. My family are fair weather walkers, and accordingly our trip into the Farmers' Market on Sunday didn't happen. So here is a lovely picture of a bright summery flower to bring back memories of warmer days. The fabric is from my stash and will be used in a quilt I'm going to make very soon. This one should not take as long to produce as my hexagon quilt in that the patchwork is mainly squares and I'll be putting it together with my sewing machine. Decided I needed some quilty comfort in double quick time. The hexagon project meanwhile continues slowly but surely.

To restore the family honour I decided to take a walk yesterday despite the delightfully gloomy storm clouds approaching. I did indeed get rained upon, quite solidly as you can see from the photo of my jeans, taken as soon as I reached home. I think if rain can soak your jeans right through in a matter of minutes it's really very wet rain! I'll post more photos of my walk tomorrow - I'm lucky to live in a beautiful, country area and the bush is just stunning. Particularly at this time of year when everything is still green. Seems unbelievable that in a couple of months time the areas that are running with little streams will be dust bowls.

Oh well, just wanted to touch base; I've got a workshop on tomorrow, so I'll be off to bed to read a few pages before a relaxing and restorative sleep to make me wake up enthused and passionate about art in the morning!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

To warm the heart ...

It's cold and raining outside, so it's very nice to be inside and toasty warm - the fire is burning merrily away.

I'm running a workshop this coming week - showing how to embellish a doll to make beautiful spirit dolls like the ones in the above picture. I've discovered the remarkable healing powers with doll-making, and this particular activity is very calming and meditative. In the workshop you'll be working with a variety of different materials and decorating the doll in a way that is meaningful for you. Included is a drink and snack at 'half-time' and great company with like-minded people.

Spirit Doll Workshop
When: Thursday, 23rd July - 9.30 am - 12 noon
Where: Creative Seeds Healing Arts Studio, 5/264 Kalamunda Road, Maida Vale
Cost: $30
To book and for further info, please call Linda or myself on 9454 5000, or e-mail me on the address on my profile page.
It would be great to see you there!

Right I'm off to put my feet up in front of the fire and drink my cup of tea! We were planning to walk into town tomorrow to visit the Farmer's Market again, but it's forecast to rain, so we will see if we are fairweather walkers when we get up tomorrow. I'll let you know ...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Messing about with colour

Felt the urge to draw today (yay!) so got out ALL of my oil pastels, even the ones mum sent me a Christmas ago and still had their wrapper on, and just drew. I love oil pastels because they feel so delightfully squidgy as you pull them across the page, and they bring back fond memories of colouring in with wax crayons when I was little. The 'art heals' doodling has been in the back of my mind for a while (told you my brain had been working on the theme) and I needed to get the message out to myself and everyone else on the planet so put it down on paper. I just put the pastels on the paper and drew. Symbols of growth, love and resources needed for growth kept appearing - note my tree, seeds, water and (hopefully) egg shaped dots under the tree. My creativity is so much a part of who I am that not to honour it would be life-threatening I think. It really is enmeshed in my very being, and I kind of lost focus on that for a while as I got wrapped up in the stresses of life and started comparing myself to others - then the whole circle of self-doubt began and I got sucked into the vortex! Took some time to extract myself, with some help from family, friends and people who I don't know but who could relate to what I was saying and here I am again. Thanks in armfuls go out to all of you. xx

Another reason I love oil pastels is because of the intensity of the colours. The second picture is made by a simple technique most of us learn in primary school - simply scribble some lovely thick patches of coloured pastels, then fill in over the top with a layer of thick black pastel. Then scrape and scratch away with something pointy (I used a cable knitting needle). I'd forgotten how sharp and brilliant the colours looked and how effective this method is, so I had to take a photo to show you. I'd only drawn it on a scrap of paper to see if it worked too.

Anyway, I think the Brits are sometimes judged unfairly for being dull (we've even been described as 'grey'! The cheek of it.) and not liking colour. It's simply not true. I've mentioned a blog here before that is abundant with colour, and indirectly referred to it a few blogposts ago (going very red-faced here, but Lucy of Attic 24 is a very gracious and lovely lady) but I have to mention it again because you just have to visit it. It's like potted sunshine on the web, so if you missed my reference to it a couple of month's ago, here it is again. Long live colour, where would the world be without it?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Out and about

Wrapped up against the 'cold'

Returning home with the spoils from the Farmers Market - is it supposed to be that sunny in winter?

Here are a couple of photos from our foray into Kalamunda Farmer's Market, which is held every Sunday. We bought some beautiful organic bread, an apple pie and some organic meat - all very, very tasty! Anyway, breaking with tradition, the boys went and did the shopping whilst my daughter and I messed about in the little park area near the markets. My attempts at taking our photo ended up with shots of just our eyes or a close up of my nose (not a pretty sight) so I gave the camera to my daughter and she did a much better job. Thank you!

On the creative front, other than buying the results of other people's creativity (see above!) I've been busy sewing some clothes, knitting my purple scarf and starting a bag for a Christmas present - it will be here before you know it! My husband and I have also started our 'Lose the Lard for Summer' campaign and have been taking a walk for the past THREE days in a row. That's a big achievement for people who say they have no time for important things like exercise. I must say that just getting out into the fresh air and taking a brisk walk really helps lift one's mood! It's great being in amongst all that nature too. I keep scanning the ground and finding little stones, twisted twigs and all sorts of gumnuts that could be used in artworks. For now I've left them in the open - I've already got a bag of pine cones, leaves and twigs sitting in the kitchen and don't think I'd get away with having anymore in the house. Anyway, part of the pleasure is in thinking about what you could create with nature's bounty, almost as much fun as the creativity itself.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The day after ...

It was good to get that off my chest (yesterday's post!), my husband read it afterwards and we had a good chat and I've had some thoughts about my creativity and what it means to me and the important message I want to share that it really is a healing medium, and that it's available to absolutely EVERYBODY. Wow, that was a horribly long sentence and not fantastically written, but it says it as I feel right now. Which is better than yesterday :) I've knitted a bit more of my purple scarf and am going to have to be careful that my daughter doesn't pinch it. Also visited Spotlight today and bought some really huge crochet needles, which were planned purchases - some other things magically leapt into the bag as well. Ho hum ...

It's quite hard going through this shadowy part of my journey, but I think it will lead to something better. It's creative in its own way, but a bit too scary for my liking. I will share my discoveries soon, just as soon as I know what they are ... In the meantime, I will keep on creating ...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Honesty hit

First it was my blogging mojo went missing, then my art has hit a block and I'm only able to do crafty activities that follow a pattern and require no imagination on my part. I am, however, still capable of choosing to create something that will soothe my soul through its elegant and unusual design knitted in my favourite colour. That's why I'm working on a beautiful frilly scarf in multi-hued purple. My gran used to knit my sister and I cardigans in this kind of wool, it gives me comfort to use a similar yarn now.

Why the 'honesty hit'? I'm confessing to suffering from anxiety and stress for the past few weeks. Lack of sleep, lack of imagination, lack of creativity, heaps of self-pity! I looked at one of my favourite blogs yesterday, and made myself depressed when I saw she gets 30+ comments when writing about buying sweets and most days I get zero. My mind immediately launched into 'what am I doing wrong' mode and 'is there any point to it?' type questions. I know there is, because at least whilst I'm still writing, I'm still writing about creating and even if no-one else in the whole world reads it, I'm still forming an intention and focussing on my creativity. But it is so hard at the moment! I've been off my 'happy pills' for two months now, and am beginning to wonder if it wasn't a tad optimistic. Now looking at natural alternatives as I'm fed up of filling myself up with drugs that make my head feel like Winnie-the-Pooh's fluffy brain has taken up residence. (Sorry, Pooh, you know I love you). So there it is, how I'm honestly feeling. I need to get the feelings out, which is why I write it in a journal, but I also share it in the hope that anyone else who does suffer from depression themselves and reads this will know they are not alone. And to give us all the advice - "don't let it steal your joy". OK - I'll keep those words in mind and go and do some more purple knitting before bed.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

An end ... and a beginning

This is an image of a painting I've had in mind since my art therapy session where I found the snake could well be a personal symbol of mine - despite being fearful of them! I've read a little about the symbolism of the snake, and the snake that is swallowing its own tail is called a 'uroboros'. It literally means 'one is all' and refers to the cycles of life, such as death and rebirth. The death of something old in one's life and the start of something new.

The picture is painted on a stretched canvas in acrylic paints. I made the dots using a small twig I'd found eons ago in a park, and kept for using for the right opportunity. This was it.

I wasn't intending for it to look so bright, but I'm glad it does. It doesn't appear so frightening and gives the snake a positive feel. It was quite uncomfortable for me to paint something that frightens me quite so much, but after I finished it I felt a sense of relief as if I now see the snake in a different light. Still a little fearful (probably very sensible considering where we live!) but also with more respect. An interesting exercise.

Friday, July 3, 2009

F-R-E-A-K-Y Friday!

The back of my "Mama Love" doll with 'tree of life' - I made her ages ago! Her hair is made from tiny gumnuts.

The two beautiful monsters painted very neatly.

From the left: Mama Love, Monster 1, Monster 2, my beautiful purple sphere and a lovely polystyrene ball! When the ball rolled up to the sphere, it was almost as if they had something to say to each other!

We had a little creative time today painting some models we'd made several months ago from air-drying clay. To be honest, I'd put them on a tray in our pantry and forgotten about them. My son had been asking to paint his monsters for ages before I realized what he was talking about. But here they are for your delectation! How artistic is my little boy? It must be in the genes! We really needed to do some creative work as we'd spent the morning walking around a shopping mall which is really my least favourite activity and I was feeling slightly stressed!

I love our little models and monsters -they are a little bit different, totally unique, an expression of us!

It's at this point I have to quote something said by my friend and fabulous artist, Violette!

"You may as well your "freak flag" and be loud and proud about it!"

We all need to express ourselves as we truly are. Amen to that!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Lost ...

I can't believe it - I've lost my blogging thingummy - 'mojo'. I'm at a loss as to what to write. Creative endeavours have been happening, but I don't feel like writing about them. I must have writer's block. :(

Well, I am painting at the studio tomorrow, and will hopefully have some work to share with you then. I feel better just for writing a few words; some creatives believe even if you feel you have the biggest block in the world, you still need to do 'something' to burst through it. That's what this little piece of prose is about - working through the block ... hope it works!!