Finish something in order to start something…


This is my finished ‘Soaked’ painting from a few weeks ago.  Before I wasn’t happy with the photo or completely satisfied with the painting, I didn’t feel like it was finished.  Now I am.  I really like it, which is pretty rare with my artwork, often once they are finished I don’t feel too attached most of them.  This one I do though.
It’s helped remind me that feelings are temporary and everything changes eventually.  Sometimes things get very hard before they change though. It’s like riding out a bad storm I guess. You just have to hope everything calms down eventually.


A good laugh and a long sleep


This weeks Illustration friday topic was “Asleep” and the quote that came with it was

“A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctors book”  Irish proverb

I agree, sometimes they are the only things that will help.  The worst thing is of course, when they are the things you want and need most, but for whatever reason can’t quite get.  I thought this weeks topic gave me an opportunity to do an artwork based on my son, as I had previously done one on my daughter.  They were fun to do, but at the same time quite hard because I know the subjects so well, and am still seriously upskilling my techniques as I have been really out of practice with my art.

Trying to get a photo of my son laughing was hard, getting him to laugh is so easy, he is a generally very happy boy.  He would giggle, smile, but by the time my camera took the actual photo, all I would capture was the top of his head.  He gets a bit overwhelmed by faces and emotions at times and so sometimes, even when he is the most engaged with you, he is only looking at you out of the corner of his eye, if he is looking at all.  But that engagement is there, it’s a connection, you can almost see it between you when that true engagement happens.  These days getting that to happen is so much easier and much more frequent.  When he first got diagnosed with Autism, those moments were depressingly short and rare.  All the more treasured for it though.  A future with a constantly anxious, withdrawn and plain unhappy child loomed large at first after that diagnosis.  Mixed up with the pain of seeing your child lose physical and mental skills, their humour, their language, their laugh.  That powerlessness that so many parents experiance for such a variety of reasons.

With time and so much energy I am happy to say that my son, whilst not talking, communicates easily, is mainly happy and calm, and his humour is definitely evident.  He is a blessing and his personality shines for anyone willing to take the time…

The feeling is Soaked

This weeks Illustration Friday topic was ‘Soaked’, which at first wasn’t really triggering off any interesting visuals.  I only really got woman’s faces after or during a downpour, or in a bathtub.  Ideas which while not necessarily bad, when I tried to work them up a bit compositionally didn’t really pan out.  Then I had a vision of a more abstract take on the topic, of a woman soaked with emotion.  I loved the composition of it, I had some new paints and a canvas, so I decided to paint it.  It’s been awhile since I have pushed myself to get a painting this size done, conceptually and physically done in the week for Illustration Friday.  But I had the urge to paint and I needed to get this out.  I’m slowly learning not to fight that urge, to embrace it and see where it leads.

The lighting wasn’t the best, so I’m not totally happy with the photo.  I might redo the photo tomorrow if I have the chance.  I’m also not 100% sure that it is totally finished, but I am proud that I got as much done this week as I did.  I had a wonderful pearly white and as usual worked from the 3 primary colours, it was fun trying to paint a body for the first time in 10 years.

Sometimes you’ve just got to work with that emotion that’s soaking through every part of who you are.  It’s there and I’m finding that it can be much easier to acknowledge it, embrace it, and find the faith to believe it’s useful, important and transient.

We are going on a Safari, kinda…

This week”s Illustration Friday topic was “Safari”, no quote, just Safari.  I had a ton of ideas at first, but as often happens none of them seemed to “gel” enough to work through to any kind of finished visual that I was happy with.  Then last night as I was falling asleep I had two very different visuals pop into my half asleep brain.  So I have done two quick sketches and I’m going to include both pictures.  The first one is of a little girl, waiting for her friend to come over and play a  Safari game with her.  Waiting on the front steps…just waiting… 

The next picture was a weird surreal nighttime scene, “Midnight Safari”, probably in a suburban backyard instead of the African Wilderness.  They were both a lot of fun to just do.  Quickly and without over thinking anything.  I didn’t have a heap of headspace for too much over thinking this week.  Sometimes that can work out. 

As usual it’s been a kinda crazy hectic week, and it can get hard to maintain perspective.  To keep that long term goal in mind.  This week it’s been hard for me to maintain that long term goal for everything, from my writing and creative process, right through to child rearing.   I am still tired from being unwell I think, but in amongst those momentary, drama-filled storms of life, whether they are tantrums (mine or the kids) or attacks of confidence and self-belief, perspective seems to be the first thing that goes.  Sometimes it is a determined slog to regain it.  I’ve decided that as long as my loss of perspective and faith is momentary then that’s fine.  Being aware of it helps.  Life is filled of wonder and beauty and it’s important to remind myself of that.

Sometimes you just have to slow down…

This week is the first week since I started my blog that I haven’t completed enough of my Illustration Friday challenge to post anything really.  I had some great ideas, that I have started, so I will eventually put the photos on the blog, once they are finished, but this week I just had to listen to my body that was screaming at me “Slow down!”.  So for once I listened, as I had started getting sick, and it was that sick where you just can’t push through it, like I normally do, and do a “mind over matter” thing.  I just had to give in.  Do nothing when I had the chance.  So instead of writing, painting, cooking, housework, etc, when the kids were at daycare and school, I slept.  It was heavenly.  Much needed as well, and by doing that on the day that I really started to feel unwell, I seem to have avoided getting much sicker, combined with every herbal, vitamin and drug option we had in the house too of course.  It all helped.

It also reminded me about something that has been said to me numerous times over the years, by my mum, my mother-in-law, friends, every well-meaning woman relative when I think about it, bless them.  Especially after my son’s diagnosis of Autism, when his behavioral issues and anxiety were so full on.  The idea that is so often forgotten about as a mother, who is responsible and has little people (and others) relying on her, that you have to look after yourself as well.  Because as we all know, if we run on empty for too long, we break down.  Something that isn’t really an option.  I remember feeling at times so frustrated and even resentful, because I was doing my best, trying to keep everything going for as long as I could, and it just didn’t seem possible to take my needs into account.  Sleep, food, creative outlets, movies, etc, all those things we can treasure but not realize how important they are in filling up our own tanks, until that tank is totally empty.  It was a large part of my motivation in starting this blog, securing that space, even if its virtual, for my stuff.  I wasn’t really sure what that stuff would be, but I knew that the time had come to take some time for myself.  Even if its only a few minutes here and there.  Now I am so thankful to all of those woman who kept reminding me, even when I felt like it was an impossible fantasy to take some time and space to take care of myself.  Because it is true that eventually there comes a time where it is possible and necessary.  Hopefully it is possible before it is ultimately necessary.

I had major technical issues this week as well, which when I was sick just seemed like a bit of a sign to take it easy really.  I can take a hint, eventually.

The Lesson of the week…

This week the Illustration Friday Challenge was “Lesson” and the quote that came with it was

“But the ultimate lesson is just sit down and write.  That’s all.”   Wole Soyinka   (or draw as the case may be…)

It is really interesting timing to get a quote like that coming up for me.  I was doing a lot of writing leading up to starting this blog, but once I had started it, a large part of that writing dropped off for numerous different reasons.  Some I could control or influence and others I just couldn’t.  I am still writing daily but it is not to the degree that I have wanted, and more importantly I’m not finishing the stories or projects that I had planned to.  So 10,000 words into a story I have just stopped… lost faith and self-belief and suddenly that chorus of inner critics becomes louder then anything else.  Sometimes it seems like once that momentum stops, it can feel almost impossible to get it going again.  You lose perspective and focus.  But something strange and wonderful has started to happen out of doing this blog, I had planned to structure most of the posts around the Illustration Friday Visual challenges, and I have, but the recent feedback from people has been very interesting and inspiring for me.

I have been getting some lovely, positive feedback, which has been nice, but the surprising thing from my perspective has been that people seem to genuinely like my writing.  For me writing has been a deep, dark,  secret fantasy that I never really believed, for a really long time anyway, that I would be able to do anything with, or even get other people to read it.  Willingly of course.  But the comments that I have been getting out of the blue from people is how much they have been enjoying the writing aspect of my blog.  The really strange thing is that the writing is the easiest part for me.  When I just sit down to do it, the words are always there, and in fact is is usually just time restraints that means the posts are as short as they are.  Otherwise I really could go on even more.

So I have decided to take that “Lesson” to heart this week as a reminder to just sit down and write more.  I am going to start giving myself little deadlines as well, and commit to sharing some of my stories soon.  Very soon in fact.  I’ve started another story and this weeks Visual challenge for Illustration Friday is an initial sketch of my main character Melantha Hargrave.  She’s going to star in a paranormal/urban fantasy type thing.  I guess you never really out-grow the sci-fi/fantasy geek thing.  Thank goodness.  I often sketch my characters to make them more rounded and real in my mind.  Also while I do it, it helps me “flesh them out” more.  And its just fun. 

The week of the Bicycle

Well “Bicycle” was the Illustration Friday topic this week, and I have to be really honest, it left me pretty stumped.  Not that I couldn’t come up with a visual or concept, just that none of them seemed to “stick”.  I worked on two different abstract paintings throughout the week, actually devoting more time then I normally would to an Illustration Friday brainstorming session, but it was feeling totally forced and not at all gelling.  The topic was “Bicycle” but the quote that came with it was something that appealed much more to me.

“Life is like riding a bicycle- in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving.”  Albert Einstein

It is so true too, because as soon as you become too static or stuck in you life, things just seem to fall apart.  On the plus side, that does help give you some momentum I guess, but sometimes I feel that a little more calm stillness would be lovely in my often very busy and constantly changing life.  Not that I want to stop moving forward in life, it is more a case of wishing I had a lot more balance in it.  Something that I have been seriously pondering lately is how to achieve more balance in my own life?

I think it is a question a lot of people are faced with after going through some major life changes (kids/disability diagnosis/serious illness/marriage/kids leaving home/you know the big changes in life) or even after they realize that their own personal balance, for whatever reason is seriously skewed.  It is simple really, to be a balanced happy individual, you need to have a good sense of balance in  your life.  There needs to be a sense at least of everyone’s needs being meet/acknowledged.  Something I have realized for myself is that over the last few years I have really allowed a large part of myself to go unacknowledged and under appreciated by me.

My creativity, my inner artist, that thing that drove me to move across the country by myself, to a city I knew no one when I had just turned 17. Something that has previously been such a driving force in my life, has been temporarily been pushed aside to make room to raise my beautiful children.  There just wasn’t a lot of space left in my head except for that.  That is fine, and it was the right thing at the time.  Recently what I am acknowledging to myself is that the time is becoming right for me to honor those dreams, desires and aspirations again.  So I have been doing serious pondering on how I could do that beyond what I have already been doing with my blog.  As soon as I figure that out, I will know where to go next.  I hope.  So this week since the quote was the thing that was so inspiring, I thought I would do it up to put on my studio wall, to remind myself that moving forward, in whatever form, really is the only viable option.