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.

IMG_2580

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

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

 

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?

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

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

IMG_0395

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.

back at work this week

Much as I like my colleagues, and as challenging and satisfying as my work can be, the skies are forecast to be blue all week.   Can anyone tell me why this seems to always be the case?     Probably for the same reason that the summers I recall from my childhood were always sunny every single day – a selective memory!     The question I was asking myself over a leisurely breakfast in the sun last Sunday morning was, how do I retain the contentment that seeped deep into my bones during the summer break?

A 'busy' day on the beach - there were only a dozen people or so in the opposite direction..

A ‘busy’ day on the beach – there were only a dozen or so people in the opposite direction..

Face up to the sun,
Listen . . . cicadas, birds, surf.
Breathe deep, in and out.

At the turn of breath,
The moment of peace, stillness.
Breathe deep, in, and out.

Feel the air flowing,
Soft turbulence, soothing, peace.
Breathe deep, breathe, content.