Life has been very busy but still I managed to squeeze in a little time to doodle . . . not a lot of time but at least it was regular.
I often work with teachers and students to develop SMART goals: Specific, measurable, Achievable, Realistic and within a Timeframe. On this occasion I made one for myself. Often my goals are achievable but unrealistic so this time I kept to the KISS principle and Kept It Simple Sweetheart! My goal was to do a very small doodle a day for a month . . .OTD stands for On The Day. There were only 5 occasions when I was late so I feel really good about the other 25. Why would I beat myself up about the 5 late ones?
I’ve also attended a conference in Auckalnd recently and managed to squeeze in some creative work there as well. I seldom take notes because I know I won’t refer to them again. I tend to listen intently, perhaps jot down some key words or references and follow up with reading more on the subject later . . . this time I doodled as I listened, pages and pages in my Black and White Journal!
When I go away I take a minimum of materials. The Doodle a Day needed just some pens and one Copic Marker (the damn thing bled through the page, most annoying!) however my watercolour crayons and pencils smuggled a ride along with a small Moleskine and spray bottle.The pencil-case is one of several that I made recently after borrowing Alisa Burke’s book, Canvas Remix, from the library.
So, how do your squeeze in some creative time when you’re run off your feet?
My house talks to me. When it starts making a good solid clunking sound as the sun heats the roof past a certain temperature, I know that summer is on the way. It’s been months since this happened but now, each morning when I hear it, I know the day will be warm. Yesterday was the first Saturday morning for some time that I sat outside in the sun among the shells, stones and bleached driftwood and bones collected from the beach, listening to the sound of birds and the surf. Bliss! Before I knew it I was dead-heading the arctotis. No commitments, no demands on my time, I’m just relaxed and being spontaneous. I have a real sense that I am exactly where I should be, doing what it best for my spiritual, physical, emotional and mental health, so like I said . . . Bliss!
Oh I am so slack sometimes. NO! Not true! I have been incredibly busy and had a bad back into the bargain that kept me away from the computer to a large extent. Excuses? No, reasons.
Another reason I haven’t shared some of the results of the work with students that I wrote about in my last post, playing at work, was that I was unsure of which parents had signed consent forms. I have permission from parents and students to share work and in some cases permission to share photos of students working. While parents may sign consent, I won’t share unless the student agrees. So, here are some examples of student work.
These were their very first pages and the topic was their positive attributes. First I asked what they thought they were . . . oh difficult! We have a culture of not blowing our own trumpet in New Zealand as the tall poppy quickly gets cut down. Then I asked what someone who knew them well, their parents, an aunty, uncle or grandparent, the teacher, might say of them . . . much easier!
After their second pages, quite a few students went back to this first one and added detail. Their concentration was wonderful to see . . . in both boys and girls. I had fun, they had fun, and some of the conversations were quite revealing about how they feel about themselves.
I set the topic, showed them a few ideas, demonstrated some lettering techniques and they took it from there . . . if they took one of my ideas from the pages I showed them, then they truly made it their own!
More soon . . . I promise!
Just because I haven’t posted anything for a while doesn’t mean that I have been idle on the creative front. Yes I know I was intending to post daily over the school holidays but what with noisy builder’s electric saws whining away and then the bashing of hammers as they replace the cladding part of my house, and the wonderful distraction of my two grandchildren, well, it just didn’t happen and what is more, I have NOT been beating myself up over it. But since returning to work . . . I have been playing as part of my work.
It’s been rather more than just doodling in meetings (it helps me focus) because I’m working with a wonderful teacher in a class of 12 and 13 year olds creating individual journals about their developing personal identity. The class teacher is working on an inquiry about careers based on their strengths and skills and I am augmenting that focus by having them uncover at their personal qualities and eventually, setting some goals.
The planning incorporates several areas of the curriculum: the Arts, PE & Health and Literacy. I am excited beyond measure! One of the resources I am using is Violette Clark’s Teen Dream Journal DVD and her book Journal Bliss . . . they’re so user-friendly for teachers!
This afternoon I played around with three very simple versions of the same page, complete on the left and incomplete on the right so the students can see how they are developed. I’ve used just basic script, circles and lines. I kept to the KISS principle . . . Keep It Simple Sweetheart! The letters for the heading for the first spread are cut out of squares and rectangles of magazine pages . . . a technique I will show them tomorrow. The heading on the second spread, in Big Fat Letters, was demonstrated last week.
Any feedback is welcome as eventually, I’m hoping to come up with a resource for teachers of any skill level on art.
Knowing that I had two weeks of holidays, albeit with some day-job work to do at home, I got out some books and supplies to start playing. I will have a few days of granddaughters staying so the house will be completely given over to creativity as they have a tendency to get going before they even get out of their pyjamas.
I got out the pile of journals that I used in a rather haphazard way and was really surprised at how many there are . . . and horrors!! I even found a travelling journal that the wonderful Quinn McDonald had sent me for a contribution before sending on to another journaler in this neck of the woods. I cannot believe I have been so remiss! What was going on in my life at that time that I forgot? I’ll send it on very soon Quinn, I promise!
But I digress . . . here is the pile I have.
The one on top is a duct-tape journal I made after watching a video of Diana Trout‘s. It lives in my bag and has its innards replaced from time to time. The zibaldone is my commonplace journal, my ‘everything but mostly writing, daily pages’ journal – read this and you would know my innermost thoughts! It’s a 2002 diary that somehow did not get used and was put in storage while I was overseas. While I’m thinking of it I should perhaps see if I can pick up a 2013 A4 diary before they get sent off for recycling.
A favourite for now is this visual journal with alternating black and white pages.
I had been thinking about how vulnerable the heart is, that while we need to guard it well, we also need to let others in. I have mentioned the TED talk by Brené Brown, The Power of Vulnerability before . . . do watch it. I thought that for this serious topic, I’d have a little play with cut outs.Tomorrow, I’ll try for three posts in a row but no promises with the darlings arriving here this afternoon . . . I could be busy.
On Diana Trout’s blog last Friday I wrote “Today is the last day of the school term, 2 weeks holiday just around the corner (although like most educationalists I’ll have work to do . . . bugger!) and I am determined to pick up AND USE brushed and pens EVERY DAY! YES!!! You heard it here first. And I will POST every day . . . except maybe when the darlings are here. :)” I missed on the very first day! It’s not that I didn’t have some playtime, it that by 11:00 pm I didn’t feel like posting anything. Yes, good intentions, that’s me.
My day started when I was jolted out of a book by a thump on my house . . . I leapt out of bed to find a dead tui on the deck. These native birds are beautiful, and have a distinctive sound as they chortle, click, whistle and sing in the trees nearby and I was upset to find that one had tried flying though my house instead of over or around. I guess with big glass doors on both sides . . . this is the third bird and they’re getting bigger and I’m wondering what will be next. We have big black-backed gulls aplenty, the odd pheasant hiding in the sand dunes. Just as long as there’s not an albatross blown in by the storm that’s heading this way!
The plumage is beautiful, glossy black, gleaning with blues and greens and that little tuft of white on their throats. It seemed unreasonable to just bury it in my garden so I rang the Maori language university, Te Wānanga o Raukawa. My guess is that some Maori weavers will make use of the feathers – I hope so.
Oh my goodness, two entries in a row where a pointless death is featured so just to let you know that play took over for the rest of the day, here are some backgrounds made with homemade stencils (cut out of acetate).
The trouble is, I get to this point and I’m not sure where to go next . . . I tend to just lay it aside for later and sometimes ‘later’ is a long time away. For instance, this was a very early background that I just haven’t done anything with . . . yet.
Ah well, maybe today it’ll speak to me. I need to loosen up more and not expect to have a final image in my head . . . to just see where it will go if I make some random marks.
Where did joy go?
Muffle your laughter; let your tears fall silently.
Let silence fill the world even if just for a moment.
This is not a time for joy,
This is a time to be struck by the miracle of living and despair at the cruelty of Death.
My dear friend’s daughter is just like mother: she has much grace and strength. I can only trust that she and her husband have sufficient of both to bear this eviscerating blow: the death of their beloved Emily Rose. Just 3 months and already showing she had inherited much those same traits through her mother and her grandmother, my friend.
Not for them the joy of their wee bairn flourishing within the circle of their love. For them, the harrowing pain of watching Emily’s peers growing and thriving on the love of their families. What, were there nine of them lined up on the couch? Most of them there with parents to farewell that beautiful baby who was yet to become a child. Their combined grief was harrowing.
I cannot imagine that this overwhelming pain they are feeling is in anyway comparable to what I have experienced, my loses pale into insignificance: they are a young couple without their first child, completely in love and loving.
I have no more words . . . please don’t comfort with talk of your god needing another angel . . . no god needed that baby more than her parents . . . I don’t believe in that god. It makes no sense: it is not right.
From Emily Rose’s service, the words of Michael Leunig’s poem, When the Heart . . .
When the heart
Is cut or cracked or broken,
Do not clutch it;
Let the wound lie open.
Let the wind
From the good old sea blow in
To bathe the wound with salt,
And let it sting.
Let a stray dog lick it,
Let a bird lean in the hole and sing
A simple song like a tiny bell,
And let it ring.
And yes, I went straight from that sad, sad funeral to my son’s to cuddle my granddaughters, to hold that family tight and feel blessed.
The shortest day is coming and I know after that, the worst of the winter weather will strike. At the moment, walking on the beach is a weekend activity or on those days when I can get home in time for this . . . . staying warm is on my mind.
When Diana Trout asked the question “How do you feel about your clothing?” and spoke of Fast Fashion, I began thinking about the Slow Fashion movement and began responding about how I thought about clothes. When I started rabbiting on, as is my wont, I decided my feelings needed a whole post.
Sometimes my attitude to my clothes is that they just cover my body and keep me warm. At other times, I dress to alter my mood . . . I clothe myself much more carefully if I’m feeling low. I made my first wearable garment fro myself at 11 and made almost everything for many years after, even earning my living sewing for clients for a while. My claim to fame is making a strapless wedding dress that was worn by the bride for 12 hours straight without having to be hitched up once! Sewing now? Well I have boxes of fabrics I can’t bring myself to part with, and sometimes I’ll have a burst of enthusiasm and make my granddaughters dress-ups or tights (there’s a neat factory shop that sells the fabric nearby) or I might make merino tops for myself for the winter. I wish I had more time to make more interesting garments than these pedestrian items but a full-time job doesn’t leave me with enough daylight hours.
I’m no more vain that the next person, I like to look good however I don’t really like shopping for clothes. Fabric, yes, clothes, no. I get annoyed by racks of clothing that are all the same, racks of clothing cheaply made from cheaper fabrics by someone in India, Pakistan or China that must be bemused by the size of these garments given that they could fit 2 or 3 people into one of them. I get annoyed when a shop assistant tells me that something is popular, as if that should make me want it . . . it has the opposite effect. I get especially annoyed when I see women slavishly following a fashion trend that must have been thought up by some misogynistic, money-grasping charlatan (male or female). I get especially annoyed to see young women looking self-conscious or uncomfortable in their fancy-dress (yes I know that’s my opinion but I think that’s how some look).
So from that little rant you’ll know I like good fabric, quality construction and practical yet interesting design that allows me to express myself. So do I make or buy clothes regularly? Not really, a few garments each winter or summer: good quality, thoughtfully sourced, classic items that augment what I have . . . and some garments have been in my wardrobe a long time.
It all comes back to consumerism, we must buy, buy, buy so someone else can work in substandard environment and some one else can make more money than they really need (my socialist leanings exposed here). I try to be a minimal consumer, a recycler, a reuser, endeavouring to have as little impact on the environment as I can . . . I’m not very successful in some areas of my life but I try and I’m getting there.
When I read the following in my book of mediations by Deng Min-Dao recently, I realised how important my efforts are in this respect. I’m sharing just a few of the thoughts expressed in the daily meditation.
How do you know when your life verges on decadence?
When etiquette and morals become more important than righteousness . . . When procedure becomes more important than creativity . . . When patriotism becomes more important than measured governing and enlightened treatment of other nations . . . When the act of eating becomes more important than considerations of nutrition . . When the opera becomes more important than helping the homeless . . . When style becomes more important than function . . . When books become more important than teachers . . . When expediency becomes more important than the elderly.
When you smell these things happening, you are not far from decadence.
Does that answer your question Diana?