a gift

When you  make something to give away you never quite know how it will be received . . . but you give it away and hope.  Like watching a child leave home because you put everything into it that you could at the time.

Yesterday I received a gift in return.  Spontaneous words of appreciation.

“Nanna, you know that book you gave me for my birthday.”

“The nature one?”

“No, the one with the photos.”

“Yes.”

“I really like it.”

And she gave me a cuddle so at this point my heart melted all over again.

Yes, a delightful, inquisitive, cuddlesome monkey.

Yes, a delightful, inquisitive, cuddlesome monkey.

One day Meg could be an animal trainer.

One day Meg could be an animal trainer.

She loves being at her Nanna's house

She loves being at her Nanna’s house

But the beach is what she loves most.

But the beach is what she loves the most.

Three weeks ago for her seventh birthday she received a book with 5 years worth of photos of her taken at my house . . . but I received something much more precious.

another book

I wanted to return to my son some of the gift he has given me . . . images of my grandhearts taken over the last four and a half years I’ve been back in New Zealand.

The album has a dyed calico backing, a paint-stained baby wipe, embroidery and a few washers.  The pages are tea stained paper bound with coptic stitch so it will lie flat when open.

Adam's Album

Adam’s Album

The baby wipe was stained from wiping off paint or cleaning up bits of acrylic paint as I worked in a journal or monoprinting papers. If you smooth them out a bit when they’re still damp with paint, they dry quite soft. You can also work them in your hands a little so they’re even softer. They aren’t hard-wearing of course and the pattern is quite random which dictated where the stitching went.

I save stuff just in case it comes in handy . . . I have several more.

a handmade journal

Now that Christmas is over and the new year well and truly begun I can show you the journal I made for my daughter.    For obvious reasons I couldn’t show it before but now . . . here it is!  And very pleased with it I was too as I entrusted it to the New Zealand and Australian postal services.

Paint applied to calico with a roller, embellished with stitching, washers and beads.

Paint applied to calico with a roller, embellished with stitching, washers and beads. Bound with waxed hemp thread.

Interior page with commercial paper strip sewn on.

Interior page with commercial paper strip sewn on.

Interior pockets with tags and single page signature sewn on

Interior pockets with tags and single page signature sewn on

Small page insert with tab.

Small page insert with tab.

I really enjoyed making the cover, just stitching, embellishing and letting one addition dictate what would happen next.  And while my bullion stitch bridges are a little wonky . . . I’m rather pleased with them.  No doubt I shall improve with practise now that Karen Ruane‘s course Swathed in Stitch has begun . . . I would imagine it isn’t too late to join in and I heartily recommend it.

Most importantly, my daughter was impressed with her present!

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?

another late start?

When I read Natasha White’s Grand Declaration post today on Define Your Joy, I realised that if I didn’t want to start slipping backwards I needed to start moving forwards again . . . marking time is not an option!

I was lent a copy of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron a few years back and couldn’t read it, it didn’t seem to be what I needed at the time but later, I borrowed the book from the library and then eventually bought a copy.  Writing the morning pages works for me: they help sort out my head, help me focus on what’s important and head me off on the right direction for the day.  It is in this journal that I started to realise that I could dream and that those dreams are attainable.

So why is the book such a difficult read for me?  God has something to do with it – and there’s quite a bit of God in there.   You see when this God with a capital G turns up and is referred to as ‘He’ I have to do all these complex transformations to fit it to my beliefs and quite frankly it gets in the way sometimes.  You see I don’t believe in the ‘God’ I grew up with, I don’t believe in an interventionist god, but I do believe in the power of love and hope, and I do believe in the connection of all things and that we are just a small part of everything.   I do not believe humans have any superiority, nor that one faith is, nor I am more important that any other form of life – I believe in positive interdependence.   And while I’m at it, I believe I’m here just to be uniquely, lovingly me . . . that’s all.

And then there is the cultural divide – the book’s written by an American and I’m not one . . . I’m a down-to-earth New Zealander and it all needs to be taken into account.  It can be somewhat exhausting really.

So why am I wrestling with this book again?  Because having already found something of value there, I want to dig a little deeper and see what other gems I might find. I aim to respect my skills and talents more, to honour my Self.  I’ll let you know if and why I give up trying to read it again – and what the gems might be.

When I started this blog, I hoped to demonstrate, primarily to women in their 60s, who had put their creative dreams on the back-burner, who had eaten the burnt chop and given the best to everyone else at the table (sometimes literally), that it is never to late to find what you want to do and go out and explore – I just have to want to enough . . . enough to enter uncharted waters and create my own map.

So when I pass this vine-covered tree on my way to work each day, I’ll imagine that it is waving to the other motorists and me and saying, “Off you go, be yourself, be happy.”

The Greeting Tree

The Greeting Tree

Natasha made a pledge, to blog about The Artist’s Way each week.  My pledge is to just blog at least weekly from now – a bit of whimsy (like the tree), some mucking around, and perhaps an insight or two – what ever takes my fancy.

Thanks for stopping by.    Ka kite ano au i a koe . . . I’ll see you again!