spring – time for growth

I look at trees, the way they grow if they’re sheltered and what happens when they’re buffeted by the predominant wind.  They’re like people.IMG_1744Bent, broken, misplaced, alone, determined to survive.

I think about trees as metaphors for people a lot as I drive.  Trees cut back as shelter belts, never achieving their own form, or bent out of shape by the demands of their environment.

IMG_1198There is something truly beautiful about a mature tree, having survived the inevitable challenges of time. Yes, trees are great metaphors for people.

squeezing in some creative time

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 . . .IMG_2170OTD 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?

Not long after I began this, Violette Clarke was encouraging everyone to do Messy Art Daily for much the same reasons . . . a little and often is the trick.

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!

IMG_2172IMG_2174When 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.IMG_2105The 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?

breakfast in the sun

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.  IMG_2085Yesterday 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! IMG_2087Before 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!

 

kid’s work

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.  IMG_1949IMG_1951 IMG_1947

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!

playing at work

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.

Adding circles and dots to text.

I wanted to show the students that the addition of circles and dots to their writing (on the left) makes a big difference to the overall appearance of the text.

Personal Qualities

This time I want to introduce the students to ‘the piano test’ which I first used in a class about two years ago. We were working on some visual presentations and to have the students critique their own work I had them prop it up on a piano and take four big steps back to view it. This page lacks definition and I’m hoping that is what the students will tell me.

Gone dotty

Again I wanted to show the effect of using simple shapes, lines and dots, and the power of a border . . . this one is just a wiggly line. I also left my pencil markings in the circles so that the students can see that just a little planning is helpful!

Any feedback is welcome as eventually, I’m hoping to come up with a resource for teachers of any skill level on art.

good intentions honoured

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.IMG_1835

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.

IMG_1681

The third from the top has “Draw you mind before it expires” written on it. As I’ve had it for about 4 years without using it much, I thought the time had come to give the message some serious thought!

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.

IMG_1885

Black and white journal cover – gesso and permanent markers

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.IMG_1882IMG_1875Tomorrow, I’ll try for three posts in a row but no promises with the darlings arriving here this afternoon . . . I could be busy.