time is of the essence

This morning I was reading a post on Diana Trout’s blog about Golden sending her nine of their new QoR watercolors.  She also talks about her recovery from her first eye surgery . . . it must be a very fraught time for an artist!

Any way, I started rabbiting on in the comments that I’d like Golden to send some paints to me as well but a little voice says “Don’t you think you should use some of the paint you have first?” And I agree, but I can’t sew,

More mended knees for Meg

More mended knees for Meg

and weave,

Dyed harakeke container

Dyed harakeke container

OC Detail

Detail of shredded harakeke, dyed flowers, beads and silver crimps.

and make thingies (very technical term that) out of shells and rocks

A beginning . . .

A beginning . . .

A shell mandala . . . a temporary sculpture, unfinished.

A shell mandala . . . a temporary sculpture, unfinished.

Centrepiece, prior to decorating with pearls and crimps.

Centrepiece, prior to decorating with pearls and crimps.

Plus small green pearls and silver crimps.

Plus small green pearls and silver crimps.

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A beach is to walk on.

and plant some veg and walk on the beach, AND paint . . . something’s gotta give!

Remember when I bemoaned a lack of time because of the day-job? Now that I am gainfully unemployed, it’s got worse, not better!  I shall simply have to rise earlier because Baby, as a fully fledged, pioneer Creative Leisure Consultant, I have plans!  LOTS of plans starting with sorting out all my travel photos, from the quirky,

Taken at the end of my street in Tokyo. Dispensing machines for anything and everything are everywhere but the advertising on this one got me every time I walked past it.  Smoke and you'll turn into a muscled westerner?

Taken at the end of my street in Tokyo. Dispensing machines for anything and everything are everywhere but the advertising on this one got me every time I walked past it. Smoke and you’ll turn into a muscled westerner?

. . . to everything else.

Children of the Mekong

Children of the Mekong

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

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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.

yet another late start

. . . but at least I am starting.   I have no valid reasons for not having blogged for almost 3 months.  If I put my mind to it I could come up with string of excuses but they’d be rather feeble and really, you’d see through them in a heartbeat.  So what if I work full-time in a demanding job?  Others do too, along with caring for their families and countless other responsibilities, yet they manage to blog more frequently that I do.  And besides, I’ve been on holiday for 4 weeks now.

My energy deserted me, me get-up-and-go got up and went . . . it’s as simple or as complex as that.  I didn’t want to so I didn’t. It’s not that I haven’t been working on creative projects or thinking deep, analytic thoughts and my sense of humour didn’t desert me.  It’s just that I didn’t feel the desire to blog about them at the time.

Fortunately, I’m not about to castigate my Self for sloth or admonish my Self for procrastination, it is such a waste of time and energy and will only serve to make any internal opposition stronger.  Aren’t I lucky that my ‘I/you-should-blah-blah-blah-muscle’ can be rested?

It’s not that I haven’t been working on creative projects or thinking deep, analytic thoughts and my sense of humour didn’t desert me.  It’s just that I didn’t feel the desire to blog about them at the time.

This Christmas every gift was to be handmade or be consumable so I made gifts and gave food and music (which counts as a pleasure-giving consumable with longevity).  I slipped up just a tad when I gave Adam and Yo a Corkcicle to keep their bottle of wine cold while they sit out under the trees in the evening sun.

Recycled jeans, acrylic paint and a little imagination.

Recycled jeans, a zip, acrylic paint, a handmade stencil (recycled acetate), bubble wrap and bottle tops as well as a little imagination.

The colours in this photo aren’t great.  The jeans were a pale grey and the red and orange, same as the ukulele inside the bag, looked great together.

Meg's unicorn, complete with false eyelashes.

Meg’s unicorn, complete with false eyelashes.  I was laughed at for buying these ultra-cheap eyelashes in Bangkok but I just knew they’d come in handy!

Meg had asked a while back if I could make a pink unicorn . . . I don’t usually take orders but in this case, how could I say no?  She was one happy camper!

I took a tacket stitch class with Diana Trout and this journal was the first one I made.

Tacket stitch journal

Tacket stitch journal, recycled cereal box, gesso, sprays and handmade stencils made from recycled acetate pages. I used the used the stencils and then printed with them to blot them dry.

Here’s a close up of the stitching.

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Tacket stitch journal #1

And my stencils!  One sheet of recycled acetate, one exacto knife and a pleasant half hour.IMG_1622I found that drawing an image and laying it under the acetate when cutting made the process easier.  I didn’t attempt to slavishly cut on the lines of the draft . . . they were just a guide.  Because the acetate sheet is clear I sprayed a page and placed it behind the stencil when I stored it in a clearfile . . . IMG_2469And then there were the little back-to-back notebooks as bonus gifts for friends and relations.  The covers were left over collage papers stuck to recycled manila folders or printed onto recycled and cereal box cardboard.  There’s quite a bit of recycling happening around here!

So I never really stopped, just a hiccup, we all have them, no need to explain.

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.

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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.

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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.

good intentions

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!

Tui R.I.P.

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).

Homemade stencils

I used 2 A4 sheets of acetate and cut the shapes freehand . . .

Homemade stencil 2

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Chalk pastel overlaid with gesso

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.

winter, keeping warm

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.

IMG_1762When 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.

Decadence

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.

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Recycled and repurposed grocery bags became kites that cost nothing and gave great pleasure.

Does that answer your question Diana?

un-shelving and 3 insights before lunch

Un-shelving is a word, because I just used it.  My blog had been deliberately laid aside, shelved, for a further two months for no reason other than I chose to do so . . . and that should be good enough.  It’s not that I’ve been busier than usual, unwell or not creating anything, it’s just that I make choices to (pretty much) suit myself and being able to do that is one of my most basic needs.

What I need in my life are very simple things: people I love and respect; peace and tranquility within; play, the activity when I get lost in the moment, is essential to my wellbeing; being productive whether at work or play is immensely satisfying to me; and power, the power to make choices.  These are my 5 Ps and I have been thinking a great deal about them over the past couple of months . . . well, years longer if truth be told.  Maybe I will blog some more about each . . . are you interested?

I could have blogged about the pohutukawa tree in my garden that burst forth in blossom in time for Christmas . . . IMG_1345DSC09963the art I have created . . . IMG_1207work inspired by Diana Trout on 21 Secrets, call it emulating or copying if you will, I really admire her style – it was wonderful so I signed up to 21 Secrets 2013 (check out all the amazing tutors) over at Dirty Footprints Studio.Meg's fish carcase and crab Emulating Diana Troutthe beach treasure that has been found and the creativity it inspired . . . Meg's fish carcase and crabJeanne's garden sculpturethe forgotten potatoes, desperate to grow . . . Potatoesthe 20,000 bees that thought the bench seat at my front door would make a great hive . . .Visiting bees my holiday visitors . . . Jeanne with flowersMeg and Elmoor even my new flagpole – you simple cannot live at the beach and not have one.  The flag represents the five elements and I brought it back from one of my visits to Hanoi . . .Flag - 5 elements. . . however I didn’t.  I chose to take a break and today, with the sun shining, cicada’s chirping and sound of the surf in the background, I have chosen to resume blogging partly as a response to thought-provoking blogs such as Quinn McDonald’s. 

I keep a journal, mostly writing, very personal and occasionally a blog or the journal itself will throw up a quote I want to use as a leaping off point for creativity or just to ponder and write another page.   Today I was reading the comments on Quinn’s blog entitled Speaking Up For Your Own Sake, the comments are always worthwhile. There was a quote from Meg Hess, “you can tell the helped by the hunted look in their eyes” and it made me think of how I hope to respond, both personally and professionally.  My success is variable.

And Violette Clark’s blog today had me thinking about balance and the struggle, that perhaps most of us have, in retaining our equilibrium.   Personally I think there is a lot to be said for shaking it up occasionally.

So, my three insights or BFOs (Blinding Flashes of the Obvious) before lunch?

  1. Helping is something I try not to do, even when asked, as I believe the most valuable thing I can do is to make a space where they can help themselves.
  2. I respect my body: we’ve been through a lot together.
  3. Just like a tightrope walker . . . getting the wobbles is fine as long as you know where your centre is.

So there you are . . . I’m back, how often I have no way of knowing.  Sometimes daily, but I doubt it.   Maybe weekly?  It will be irregular and although I’d like to say I’ll provide X posts a week and have a particular focus, that isn’t me.   Yes, there’ll be links to interesting blogs and inspriational TED talks, yes, I’ll posts about my delightful granddaughters, yes, creative endeavours and insights and, goodness knows what else . . . I just don’t like being boxed in.   My need for freedom of choice is way too high!  Ah, the power to choose!

I am content with myself at this point in time.