a small goal achieved

When you set a goal for yourself, make sure it’s small enough to meet the very first step . . . the satisfaction is immense!

My goal was to make two more kete/baskets and harvest enough harakeke/flax for 3 more.  Done!

The first step of the plan didn’t go so well with computer-time rationing went out the window, however it wasn’t necessary to achieve the goal and weed the garden, wash the year’s supply of salt from my windows (a small price to pay for living at the beach) as well as catch up with friends.

Kete #1 Wendy @ the Late Start Studio

Kete #1, 25 x 17 cms high
Wendy @ the Late Start Studio

Kete #2 Wendy @ the Late Start Studio

Kete #2, 27 x 25 cms
Wendy @ the Late Start Studio

And now?  I’m off to help some friend to pluck some roosters and maybe a pūkeko . . . the feathers will turn up in our work so watch this space!

Pūkeko or swamp hen.

Pūkeko or swamp hen.

Now, for my next week’s goal . . .

am I a lost cause?

I want to do everything! I want to paint, sew, embroider, draw, pot, sculpt, weave, create assemblages and make mosaics, knit and crotchet, make crazy creatures, spend time in the garden and read until my eyes itch. And I know I can do all these things as I’ve done them in the past. But what do I do? Sweet Fanny Adams! I either run round like a headless chook getting everything I need for the project and then something else has caught my magpie’s eye and I want to do something else . . . or I procrastinate and do nothing!

Yeah, yeah.  I know.  I’m being too hard on myself but quite frankly people, I really do want to do everything and I really do want to do it all and now and what’s more I want to do it perfectly!  How’s that working for me?  Well of course it isn’t.  The evidence being my sporadic forays into all of the above with little development in my skills because I flit from one thing to the other.

Today was a bit of a nothing day and my favourite Deng Min Dao quote has been haunting me: Each day passes whether you participate or not.

Wendy @ Late Start Studio.

Wendy @ Late Start Studio.

So what, you may well ask, am I going to do about this?  I am not going to sit on my expanding bottom and give up. No, no, no!  I have a plan, a plan so cunning you could put a tail on it and call it a weasel! (Yes, I’m a Blackadder fan.) I have a SMART goal (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and within a Time-frame) and a plan to reach it . . .

By Sunday night I will have woven two more kete/baskets and weather permitting, harvested and processed sufficient harakeke/flax for 3 more. Why will I weave only two?  Because that’s all the flax I have left that’s prepared.

1. I am going to ration my time on the computer to 40 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening, blog posts are ‘permitted’ extra time.  Spending time on the computer is a habit I am challenging!

2. For the rest of the week I will focus on my weaving.  This includes the considerable preparation steps: harvesting, sizing, softening, labeling, sorting into sizes, boiling and dyeing and then finally, weaving.  I also need to keep my visual journal up to date for the assessment in late October.

3. Health is paramount!  Eat well and get some exercise each day . . . and you have no idea how I hate to exercise for the sake of exercise.  I like my exercise to be part of how I live on a day-to-day basis and today . . . well it was too damned cold to do much outside and I had a good book to read.

The goal and the plan are probably a result of my reading Becoming a Life Change Artist: 7 Creative Skills to Reinvent Yourself at Any Stage of Life.   It’s not that I need to reinvent myself exactly, I just need to do a little remodelling.  Quinn McDonald recommended the book a while back and if she recommends a book I take notice . . . she’s a wise woman and my town has an excellent library.

The problem with knowing I can do anything is that I think I have to do everything . . . I’m not really a lost cause am I ( please note, this is not a question and you may insert a sardonic wink here).

gainful unemployment

I think that sounds better than ‘retired’ . . . there is nothing retiring about me right now and I trust there never will be.  I have some serious play to work at!   Always a dabbler, I want to know if an artist lurks within.

Day 1 . . . the official Day 1 that is.  At the end of the school term there was the usual two-week holiday but today everyone else went back to work while I stayed home.  As I lay in bed with my coffee, a book and appreciated the warmth on this cold winters day, I realised that I now get to do what I want every single day!

Last week I completed these two kete.

Wendy @ Late Start Studio.  Two small kete.

Wendy @ Late Start Studio. Two small kete.

Yesterday I began a new kete as part of developing the skills I need for being able to weave more sculptural pieces.  Yes, I decided on my major focus for the raranga/weaving course: start with kete and see where it takes me.

Beginning a new kete: Late Start Studio

Wendy @ Late Start Studio.   Beginning a new kete.

Today I finished it.

Wendy @ Late Start Studio - Kete Whakairo

Wendy @ Late Start Studio.   Kete Whakairo

Tomorrow, I shall begin another . . . but only if I feel like it (insert mental image of me winking here).

I need to make a choice

The first part of the raranga/weaving course I’m doing is complete and I have acquired some basic skills so now I need to decide what my major focus will be.  Having completed my whatu tauri I could make a korowai/cloak, an enormous project requiring a great deal of patience.

My first whatu tauri. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

My first whatu tauri.
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

I could focus on kete/baskets and look at textures, patterns and ornamentation but something in me says I should bring everything together, develop the basic skills and take the traditional skills and come up with 3 dimensional sculptures.  Off loom weaving has always been an interest however one where I haven’t experimented greatly so this will be new and require some daring.

So what do I choose?  Play it safe?  Explore new territory?  It’s no contest really.  I shall start with kete because there is still a lot to learn and then . . . sculptural pieces incorporating some beach finds! And maybe I’ll make another whatu tauri with ‘beach treasure’ in it as well!

When a choice is made I am not only choosing to do something, I am also excluding other choices . . . and that is the difficult part for me.

my wonderful news

I was planning on writing a post about my news and I began wondering about what makes some information news.  I could tell you about something you didn’t know and that would be news to you but perhaps not the rest of the world.  Or some event may be news but insignificant . . . is it still news?  And we talk about breaking the news and even breaking news . . . telling it as it happens.  So if you read about a recent event and are not at all surprised by it . . . is that news?  I digress.  This is news, my news, and while a turning point for me, not important in the great scheme of things.

If you read my blog closely, you may not be at all surprised by my news . . . which being a week old now is not news at all I guess.  It was certainly news from left field when I announced it at work . . . that I would be there for just 6 weeks longer.

Yes folks, I have handed in my notice at the day-job.  I have handed in my resignation before I get stale, before I don’t want to be there at all because I find myself wanting to be doing other things all day.

Most people have assumed I’m retiring becuase I am of an age to do so, or perhaps I have another paid job to go to but neither of those are true.  There is nothing retiring about me or indeed any of the members of my family.  So having no further paid work planned, just working at play, what do I call myself when I fill in a form?  Am I still an educator? Teacher?   Probably but just not employed in that capacity.

I will call myself a consultant.  I am a Creative Leisure Consultant!  And f you would like to consult me about how to spend time creatively . . . feel free.  I shall be liberal in my services.  Payment will be in laughter, for both of us, I will offer extended consultations is you bring wine, I will travel to your town if you provide accommodation and I will bring you a shining example of how to live a sometimes challenging life, and be smiling and, by turns, satirical and optimistic as I begin to contemplate the future.  According to my mother you don’t begin getting old until your 80s and she thought she might be old when she was about 100 . . . maybe . . . so I have a good few years before that happens.

I have good genes, good health, a good attitude and I intend to have few regrets although I may own up to a few remaining dreams.

Reaching out to grasp the furture.  A map completed in a recent workshop with Jill Berry organised by Fibre Arts NZ Wendy @ the Late Start Studio

Reaching out to grasp the furture. A map completed in a recent workshop with Jill Berry organised by Fibre Arts NZ
Wendy @ the Late Start Studio

 

a little self-exposure?

I’m very quick to say “Yes!” or “Why not?” and when Natasha White asked me to take part in a blog hop I didn’t hesitate and fortunately, I haven’t suffered from cold feet even though the questions haven’t been particularly easy to answer.

What am I working on?   As usual I’m working on a number of things . . . or should I say I have several projects on the go but like most people with one pair of hands I can only work on one thing at a time: more and more I am convinced that multi-tasking is a myth put about to make us feel like we should be producing more. I cannot do one thing well and be thinking about something else . . . maybe I can think about something else while painting the house or pulling weeds or hanging out the washing but I cannot weave or paint or sew without concentration.

So while I have a quilt started, a set of Inner Hero cards on the go, been messing around with watercolour for a workshop with Tammy Garcia, exploring soft fibre sculptures, darning knees in tights for my youngest grandheART and me, knitting a jumper for my oldest grandheART, painting some terracotta pots for the garden, assembling some driftwood sculptures for the garden, have a project from Jill Berry’s new book Map Art Lab started (buy the book it’s fantastic!), my main focus is designing a pattern for the taaniko weaving on my whatu tauri. The translation for that is, I am designing the taaniko (Maori twined weaving) on a sampler. The sampler is part of a weaving/raranga course I am taking. I need to choose a major focus for the rest of the year and thus far I have at least 6 wonderful ideas recorded! What am I working on indeed!

There is no 'give' in this fabric!

The unfinished Chinese silk quilt

Exploring soft sculptures

IMG_2958

A kete waikawa for my daughter-in-law’s birthday.

Recent postcards

Recent postcards – sorry about the focus.

Creatively darning knees in tights - why not?

Creatively darning knees in tights – why not?

Flax/harakeke boiled and drying . . . still to be dyed and woven into . . . who knows what?

Flax/harakeke boiled and drying . . . still to be dyed and woven into . . . who knows what?

The question assumes I’m working on one thing . . . not possible!  And have I mentioned I have a day-job?  That’s a whole lot of creative problem solving too!

How does my work differ from others of its genre?   A genre? Me? Yeah, unless ‘making/painting/weaving stuff’ is a genre, nah. I do too many things and admire wildly differing styles to settle on one thing . . . and I like it that way.

Why do I write/create what I do?   The answer is easy . . . I can’t not create. It’s simple really, and you either understand the urge or you don’t. I love that feeling of taking raw materials and making something out of them that is useful or beautiful or, joy of joys, both! I get a buzz out of seeing something rise up out of my hands and particularly learning a new set of skills.

How does your writing/creating process work?   I’m not sure I have a process but if I do, it starts with and idea bursting forth in a rush and a roar, a fit of spontaneity and enthusiasm, and I immerse myself in the project. My internal clock is disregarded until I suddenly realize I’m hungry or thirsty or, even more inconvenient because I can’t ignore it, I need the bathroom. If I can’t work until I drop, sleep and then rise and throw myself back into a project because the day-job calls, I might lose focus or worse, the inspiration to do something entirely different might strike.

Does that sound undisciplined? I guess I am but that’s okay.

A question not on the blog hop is what do I want to achieve? That, for me, is by far the hardest question to answer. I love to learn new things . . . for me learning equals fun. That joy of stretching myself and trying a new activity, of mastering the skills without becoming highly competent is fine by me. And I’d like to use my teaching skills to share this joy of making something from almost nothing. I think most of all what I want to achieve is to show my children and my grandheARTs (my muses) that creativity in some form is a life-long, joyous, satisfying, essential ingredient in life.  And one day perhaps, I’d like to take part in an exhibition of some kind . . . even if it’s just a local café.

And now, to whom do I pass on the blog hop baton? I have asked three wonderful women who are not only wonderful artists in their own right but also generous women in their encouragement of others.

Violette Clark’s blog Creative Juice was the very first I began to follow . . . I felt as if I knew her although we have never met.   Her book Journal Bliss started me off on a journey. Violette is an artist, author and an Idea Factory/catalyst who loves helping women brainstorm creative ideas for their business. She lives in a purple magic cottage in B.C. Canada.  Yes, really, you can check it out here on You Tube

Diana Trout is highly creative and generous artist, instrumental in my late start as an artist. Her book, Journal Spilling, began my exploration of watercolours.  She has wonderful workshops and one day, I am determined to attend one in person!  Diana’s blog is another favourite.

And third? Coffee and Quinn Creative starts my day! Her blog with its wise commentary on life and creative adventures provides a venue for community of wonderful people to come together.   Quinn McDonald is an outsider artist, writer, and certified creativity coach. Her book, The Inner Hero Creative Art Journal touches on all those identities.

Of course there are more artists I could have asked because of the role they played in getting me here on the web . . . the creatively prolific, enthusiastic and generous Tammy Gracia is constantly being referred to at the Late Start Studio and her quote is up there on my header. . . Jill Berry who pushed me to explore some colours that I thought I wouldn’t want to use when I took a week-long workshop with her recently . . . and then there’s . . . oh!   I do hate limiting myself.   I had just three choices.

Check out the blogs now and especially again on Monday the 19th of May when these three lovely women will answer the same questions . . . perhaps not the last one though . . . that was a challenge I gave myself.

weaving up a . . . what?

I rather like the idea of making objects that are functional, it’s a hang up from childhood when the refrain of “make yourself useful” or “do something useful” was etched into my brain.  I also like to make gifts so when it came to my daughter-in-law’s brithday I decided to use my developing skills to make a basket that could be used for storing some firewood . . . that was the intention.

Some how it tunrned out to be a lot bigger than I intended, more like a laundry basket perhaps.Image

It’s about 75 cms or 30 inches high and made from untreated flax so as it dries it will shrink and turn a brownish gold (I think).

Although it didn’t turn out at all as I intended, due to my ‘developing’ skills, i.e. I did’t really know what I was doing but went ahead and did it anyway just like always.

Yo loved it.

leaping in

A mucker through and through, that’s me.  Like a magnet, new experiences in art pull me in all the time . . . I see something different and think to myself, “I could do that!”   Yesterday I signed up for Kawai Ruapapa-Raranga: thie year I am learning how to prepare and weave flax/harakeke!

After a Sunday afternoon with the kaiako/teacher in her studio trying to make up for a missed weekend, I am sold!  In the early evening I went and harvested some harakeke/flax, pulled it into strips and then wondered which big saucepan I could sacrifice to boil it . . . I think I need to visit a charity shop and find something.  And I need some new blades for my knife and rubber bands to tie the strips into bundles, maybe some dye but I like a natural look.  That’s it . . . minimum expenditure, the materials grow wild on my walk to the beach or along the roadsides!

Waitohu Stream

Harakeke flowering on the way to the Waitohu Stream

So busy was I that it never occurred to me to take photos!    But just watch this space . . . there will be some after every weekend!

Oh dear . . . I save the above as a draft instead of posting it so here are images of my very first attempts at weaving kete/baskets.

IMG_2851 IMG_2854 IMG_2855The next noho (a long weekend where you can sleep over) is early May and that’s when I learn how to attach feathers among other things.  Yahoo!

Guess who will be looking for a freshly run over pukeko on the side of the road . . . does that sound ghoulish?  If you saw the sheen of the plumage I’m sure you’d understand.I hope this image doesn’t have a copyright . . . I got it from google images.

pukeko

The pukeko or swamp hen.

My next adventure?  A week of diving into a workshop with the wonderful Jill Berry! 

internal conflict in the studio

Last week Quinn McDonald published The Pull of Inner Critic and Inner Hero and it really got me thinking.   I’ve known for some time that my strengths are also a kind of curse: I guess if you build a strong fortress, then when you are under siege you’re a prisoner in a jail of your own making.

It took a long time to realise that my being a ‘mucker’ (my uncle’s nickname for me), always exploring and trying new things, never settling on anything for long, made me incredibly versatile.   It took time too to realise that being a Jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none wasn’t as demeaning as it sounds, because that reframes as being versatile as well.  These dubious titles led to me developing the belief that if someone else can do whatever, the chances are I can.

So this versatility, this confidence that I can do just about anything I want, how is that a curse?  It’s a curse because I want to do everything and I want to do it now and I want to do it perfectly!  And no surprises, that plan just isn’t working out well!

That aspect of my versatile Inner Hero that says “Of course you can!” is countered by the damnable  Inner Critic who provides a smorgasbord of possibilities and as a consequence I’m stunned like a possum in a cars headlights.

Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Tammy Garcia once wrote ‘much better to start late than never begin at all’ which eventually gave me the blog name, Late Start Studio.  And yes, I’m starting late, and I know I don’t have to catch up I just have to start but oh, I want to catch up!  And I want to be a master of something!   But what?    Here I am, stunned, frozen, telling myself “just to something!”  Anything!  Just pick something and DO IT!  But one day I make some crazy stuffed creature, or a little soft sculpture, or paint a page in my journal, make another stencil or stamp or pencil-case or . . . you get the picture.

Versatile Inner Hero on one hand, Inner Critic spilling out all the options like the contents of a suitcase on the other.    I guess I’ll just have to settle for being a Master Mucker!

Those who wait for every little thing to be perfect before they embark on a project or who dislike the compromise of a partial solution are among the least happy.  Ideal circumstances are seldom given to anyone for an undertaking.

Deng Ming-Dao: 365 Daily Meditations, p.295

Quinn McDonald’s guest!

I started my blog relatively recently however the people who have been the most encouraging have been at it for considerably longer and have a clear purpose.   I’m still looking for mine . . . here with this blog and life in general.

One of the blogs I visit regularly is that of Quinn McDonald.  The people who comment regularly give almost as many thought-provoking contributions as the posts themselves and appear to be a cross-section of people, all of whom seem to want to live more satisfying and creative lives.    My contributions are sometimes stream of consciousness rants and when Quinn suggested one as a guest post I was extremely flattered and, rather than procrastinate about it, the next time I had something to rabbit on about I sent it through to her.   I was thinking about all the poor choices I do, all the automatic, thoughtless habits, that stop me from doing and being the best me I can.  You can read it here or go to Quinn’s blog and read it there . . . I believe in giving choices.

Dirty Little Addictions

Yes, most of us have them and from time to time they get out of hand.  I have one: I knew of it’s existence before partaking but eventually a personal introduction was made by a friend, well it was more like the way a new convert would be indoctrinated into a cult and I fell for it hook, line and sinker.  At first it was harmless and I thought I had full control, no one, not even me, was being hurt.  Now?  I can’t quite say the same.  The effect of this energy sapping, mind numbing (most addictions are), debilitating and dirty little addiction is that I am wasting my time, time I can never recover.

Because I have had a month off work and don’t need to clear my mind of rubbish by putting even more in its place (how pointless is that!) I am noticing how much precious time this compulsion robbing away from me.

I’ve tried to ration when I allow myself to indulge but to no avail.  Do I need to go cold turkey?  Is that even possible?  Do I need to find myself a 12-step programme and work through it?    I joke that I have oodles of willpower but next to no won’t-power.  Not funny.  I have to come up with a plan whereby I am accountable for what is wasted on this dirty little secret of mine.

Perhaps some kind soul would come and wave a big stick around, threaten, cajole, encourage by turns.  That might be a fine plan but will hardly empower me to make my own decisions, live my own life.  There’s only one thing for it . . . do it myself.  I got myself into this mess and I know I have lots of company but small comfort that is!

I don’t need to tell you what it is; you might try and experience the initial thrill of it for yourself and so it’s better you remain ignorant.  No, I need to ‘fess up to myself, put on my big girl knickers and get on with living! First SpreadRemember, “Each day passes whether you participate or not,” Deng Min Dao, 365 Tao: Daily Meditations.