Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Remembering that playing isn't just for kids...

I have been playing with's such fun doing strange things to my own face!  Here I have morphed into a strange wood woman, a wild wood woman.  And speaking of wild, we took our little people to see Where the Wild Things Are on Monday.  It's a bit of an odd film, the characters and the costumes and sets are wonderful, the model fort and the fort Max and his monsters eventually build are glorious to behold.  But the story is...well, there's not much of it, and the monsters all seem to suffer from various forms of depression, which I'm not sure would make sense to small people, especially as at the end Max leaves them on their lonely island apparently as unhappy as when he arrived.  Having said that, they both seemed to enjoy it, and I came away with a strong feeling of the importance of PLAY, which is something we adults tend not to do anymore because we think it's silly, or unimportant, or too self indulgent for responsible big people.  When was the last time you built a fort?  Or imagined, and half believed, you could make a rocket that would actually take you to the moon?  It made me think about my approach to my work, that sometimes that sense of wonder and excitement gets lost in a perceived need to produce something that is 'proper art'.  I thought about the things that appeal to me, and often they are things that stir that childlike delight that hides deep inside.  If that is what I love, then it follows does it not, that I also love to MAKE those kinds of things, and that if I make things with a childlike sense of wonder and humour, then surely that sense of wonder will infuse the object or artwork, and will appeal to the child hidden deep inside others?  So I think...I need to stop THINKING quite so much, intellectualising and agonising over where to put the next stroke of paint, if I add a small dog, or a full moon, or a pelican in flight, what will the 'meaning' be, and so on.  I had some very wise advice from a very wise little person a year or two ago...sitting in my studio I must have been audibly umming and ahhing, and a little voice floated up the stairs. "What's the matter mummy?"  "Oh nothing sweetheart, I'm just thinking, and I can't decide how to paint this next bit," I answered.  Busy drawing herself, she replied (all of 6 years old), "I don't THINK mummy, I just DO!"

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Merry (slightly belated) Christmas to all and sundry!

Yes, I'm a little late, but we had not one, but two Christmases this year, on Christmas Eve and again on Christmas day, so we could spend time with all the grandparents and family.  So things have been a little hectic.  Now I am back from the south west of our big state to discover that I have a new follower, but unfortunately I don't know who they are because my Followers box has refused to reappear, so whoever you are, hello and welcome!  I hope everyone had a wonderful festive season, whether you celebrate Christmas or not, and that sadness has not touched you or your loved ones.  Thank you to everyone who has visited my little fledgling blog and left me such wonderful words of encouragement and inspiration.  I wish you all a brilliant and fulfilling new year, and hope to see you all here again in 2010, where I will endeavor to bring you more of my work and some words to make you smile.  My post picture today is a gorgeous little Christmas tree drawn by my daughter who is now 8, when she was just 5...they grow so very quickly!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A little bit of summer, if your toes are cold...

My 'Followers' box has disappeared again...and it's too hot!  Well, the temperature on the Yahoo homepage says 35˚C (a little below the century in old money!), but it FEELS hotter.  I've been baking so that probably hasn't helped.  This really isn't the weather for Christmas style bake-ups.  I have finished the second batch of panfortes, one more to go, maybe this evening when it's cooled down.  Though at 10pm last night it was still hot and sticky outside.  Progress pics...just poured the chocolaty, toffeey mixture into the dry ingredients.  Then a strong arm is needed to actually stir it (husbands come in handy sometimes...he's also good at getting lids off pesky jars). Finally, some token stirring for luck from the little people. Note the pristine green t-shirt...shortly to be covered in chocolate after licking the mixing bowl clean.  I'll post some pics of the finished product shortly.

But that may be the only 'finished product' I post pics of for a while, it's school holidays till February, and with two little people home to entertain, plus two weeks of swimming lessons, I don't know how much drawing I'll get done!  And there may be some bedroom painting required soon, as the super-bedroom-makeover is moving along at a cracking pace.  Beloved (I really need a better name!) insists he's starting the bed platform this week, but we'll see.  But you can see how far it's come in the last couple of weeks!  All that roof space that usually gets wasted, I don't understand why people don't make use of it.

I mentioned a little while ago that Flynn has decided that the old couch is now hers, since it has moved outside.  So here she is, reclining, but with a just slightly guilty look on her face, as if she's not sure she's allowed to be there even now.

And finally, a couple of pics showing what the sky looked like a few days ago.  When there's a cyclone up north, we sometimes get pink skies, rather freaky and weird, but it did soften the sun's bite for a while.  Meanwhile our bore has gone on the blink, and my garden is looking rather like a desert.  It's rather depressing because last year we grew tomatoes and cucumbers enough to supply the family without needing to buy any for two months, plus lettuces and the usual herbs...sigh!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Little people...and how they amaze me everyday

I did start this blog as a way of showcasing my work, creating new networks, linking with other artists, and finding a sense of community.  But as a mother I can't help occasionally showing off what my children do to constantly amaze me with their leaps and bounds in thinking, seeing, understanding, and representing the world.  And as so many of you out there are also mums (and a few dads too!), I'm sure you'll allow me this small indulgence.  My 5 year old did these this afternoon, in a little 'break' from sewing some Christmas presents (with a bit of help from mummy in knotting the end of the cotton...though she can thread a needle better than I!).  I am frequently in awe of what my children draw, and though I can't stop other children at school, and sometimes adults, from telling them "this is how you draw a cat" (ie. large circle, small circle on top, 2 triangles for ears...I'm sure you know what I mean), I have made it my rule never to 'teach' them how to draw anything, and to let them discover their own way of seeing and representing.  I love seeing how their skills develop, one day dots for eyes, the next day eyelashes appear as if by magic.  Mermaids shift to faeries, move on to ballerinas...and sometimes a bit of all three!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

And just like that.... Followers box has mysteriously reappeared...with an extra follower.  Magic!

I have made my first batch of Christmas Panfortes...and of course, had to sample them just to make sure they were up to an acceptable standard!  One got slightly singed along one bottom edge (dodgy oven NOT dodgy cook, I swear!) and my dearly Beloved tried hard to commiserate but he really wasn't being very convincing, as he knows full well that any that don't measure up as presents will end up as his...well, ours.  I'm not letting him eat ALL of them by himself.  And we mustn't forget to leave a piece out for Father Christmas! ;-)

This little painting is one of the new ones in my shop here .  It's called "Wherever I lay my hat..."  Now who else remembers Paul Young ?!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dusting down my shop shelves...

Just a quick post to let you know there are some more original paintings in my Etsy shop, including 'Nightcap'.  But please be aware that if you are an international buyer (ie, not here in the land of OZ!) then items ordered now will more than likely arrive AFTER Christmas.  But still perfect for birthdays, Mother's Days and the like. ;-)

And because I can't bear to post without a little visual delight, here is another of my small square paintings (and I just about went cross-eyed with the details on this one)...though this one is sold!  It's called 'Babel-on'.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Web Piskies...

...are out and about it seems.  We lost our internet for a whole day due to 'recabling'.  We were assured it would ultimately mean a much faster service, but so far it just seems to mean that I can't access my emails at all, or the Typepad blogs that I like to read, or Etsy...or our internet banking!  My beloved spent rather a long time this morning on the phone to our provider while simultaneously sitting under the computer desk pulling out plugs and putting plugs back in, following the instructions of the person on the other end.  Finally it was fixed...we thought!  But alas, not exactly.  I think this getting half a service is more frustrating than no service at all.  But it really is a bit of a shock to realise how much we rely on it...apart from pulling out plugs and taking delivery of large bits of timber for the next stage of the super-bedroom-makeover, beloved has been twiddling his thumbs because he can't really get on with any work without it.  Sometimes it is scary to realise how much we rely on technology for everyday living.  I should really think of a better title for my beloved...though he wasn't impressed when I suggested the 'Merman'!

But here are a couple of paintings to brighten up the post anyway.  These two lasses came home from Melbourne recently, crossing the Nullarbor in a camper van with my folks.  They are called 'Nightcap' and 'Regrowth' respectively.  'Regrowth' has just had her hair done for that special occasion and it's springing out already and she's not happy, but that's Morning Glory for you, can't stop the stuff!

We retired our old couch at last, it's been hiding its decrepitude beneath crocheted throws for some time now.  We moved it outside, where Flynn has instantly commandeered it.  She wasn't allowed on the couch inside the house, so it's interesting that she decided that once outside, it's fair game for little red dogs!  And a perfect blank canvas for little people too, who asked if they could draw on it...I think they're a little obsessed with mermaids too.  Now that it's such a marvelous work of art, I'm reluctant to throw it out.  It's also nice to sit on for morning coffee!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Becoming...but I'm not sure what yet

This is sitting on my family room table at the moment, amid my pencils and inks and a small sewing box...I've migrated downstairs because it's rather hot and crowded ( I did mention I'm a hoarder, didn't I?) upstairs in my attic.  It's me but not really me, my face from a photo but that's all, she's really someone else, I'm just not sure who yet.  Perhaps a hedgewitch, or a real greenwitch...though I don't think she'll be wearing the hat I made.  I'm thinking leaves and bits of old sticks in her hair...perhaps she collects the odd bits and bobs that messy humans leave behind, like bottle-tops and foil lolly wrappers, and weaves them into her hair.  Hmmm, will have to wait and see how she evolves and who she wants to be.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Artist as.....shaman

Great minds (and those of us with lesser minds too) think alike.  The theme of artist as Shaman is one I've had buzzing around in my head for simply ages.  I've always felt there really WAS something magic about art, even as a small child.  I remember thinking when I was a teenager and wrote rather a lot of (probably rather bad) poetry (as teenagers often do) that poetry was about as close as I could get to magic, because of the strange and mysterious feeling of plucking a poem out of the air (for a lovely description of just that notion, go here ). I've never really felt that any poem I've written is truly mine, I just happened to 'find' it floating in the ether.  All art seems to tap into this magical 'otherplace', painting ideas seem to take on a life of their own, and often motifs and themes that I've added for no particular reason suddenly make complete sense when the piece is finished.

A few years ago I read Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife.  And this passage jumped out at me and so I scribbled it down in my visual journal/diary, because it made such complete sense to me.

Another journal entry from a year of so later finds me fascinated with the odd little things my daughter (then just 5) often made for herself.  I also used to make 'things' all the time as a child, and I can remember the state of mind in which it's part make-believe and part totally serious.  On one level I knew I was using old bits of wood and string, feathers and gum nuts, but simultaneously on another level the object's 'true' magical identity and purpose existed, I could 'see' both objects at the same time and both were equally real.  Sometimes I still have flashes of that feeling, though my terribly logical and rational (!) 'grown-up' brain tends to dismiss them now.  But I do occasionally make/paint/create something that seems to have come from somewhere else, or has a sense of power and life beyond what I've attempted to imbue it with.  Some time ago I found some very cheap little plaster masks at a local craft shop. Nothing special at all, but being fascinated with masks I bought several.  But in painting them they suddenly seemed to develop not just personalities, but a quite powerful presence for items so small and mass produced.  They seemed to WANT to be brought to life.

So finally, I was browsing through my lovely copy of Brian Froud's Good Faeries/Bad Faeries yesterday, which I've had for a few years but never actually read the introduction before...and found this lovely passage.  I'll leave you with these thoughts...and a couple of odd little things I've made recently.
"Joseph Campbell has said that artists are the 'shamans and myth-makers' of our modern world.  Like Campbell, I believe in the artist as shaman, journeying deep into uncharted inner worlds, then bringing back sensations and visions encountered in that mythic terrain. I see my pictures as maps of the journeys I've taken through the realms of the soul.  And I hope that these maps will lead you to find faery pathways of your own."

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Synchronicity...I DO like that word!

While my girls were enjoying a birthday at one of those organised kid's party places, and I sat waiting for them, I started reading Mythago Wood again.  But it was too noisy, filled with children screaming and laughing and music too loud for reading much of anything.  So I set it aside and instead I flicked through the little notebook I always carry around with me to scribble those odd thoughts that occur at odd (and always inconvenient) times, otherwise I forget them.  Sometimes I'm quite surprised to rediscover what was going on in my head just a couple of weeks ago.  And I found this page.  This is an ongoing theme for me, I come back to it and revisit it often.  It's on my 'to do' list, to actually make some of the things I've written about here...I think I might need a bigger studio!  But it also made me think about Rima Staines' latest post on the role of the artist as an intercessor between the human world and the world beyond.  She says...
"I think that artists over the centuries who have made with their hands and their souls objects that are beautiful, are intercessors, portrayers of the inexplicable wonder of life or the divine or whatever you choose to call it. And in seeing these beautiful objects, these sights that delight the eye, some transformation takes place within you, because of what the artist was feeling whilst creating."

This afternoon I was having a little surf through the web and found this gorgeous creature here .  And it reminded me of something I made years ago (about 12 to be precise) when I was studying theatre at Uni.  I was Head of Lighting on a pantomime.  Which meant Lighting designer/operator/rigger-on-very-tall-ladders/general-dogsbody/etc. And I was having trouble with one particular light, which I could not get to work.  Finally, after much faffing about including changing what was probably a perfectly good light bulb (which is NOT an easy job perched at the top of a very LONG ladder over the auditorium leaning on a not-so-stable lighting grid!), I discovered that the lighting grid had been labeled incorrectly, and plug numbers didn't match up with grid outlet numbers...grrrrrr!  Anyway...I sorted it out, which left me with what probably had been a perfectly good light bulb, but I could no longer use it because they aren't any good if you touch them...apparently.  So I took it home and transformed it, with feathers and beads, leather and other bits and bobs, into The Lighting Operator's Talisman.  I put it into a nice box, and presented it to the theatre manager, to be handed on to subsequent Heads of Lighting for good luck and a stress-free show.  Some years later, I bumped into a fellow ex-student who had completed the same course a few years after me.  And who had been Head of Lighting once.  And who had been duly given The Lighting Operator's Talisman to keep for the duration of the show.  She was quite excited to meet the person who had made it, and I was rather chuffed to discover it was still being passed on.  It made me wonder how long it would take before it stopped being a bit of a joke and became a real tradition.  I wonder if they still have it!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Child finished...

Such a little piece, and yet it's taken me hours to finish it.  So much detail in one tiny 9 x 13cm space.  But I've enjoyed it so much.  I think I will do more of these, perhaps they are something I can do during the long summer, when it's almost impossible to paint because it dries so quickly, and the heat can be so oppressive sometimes I find it hard to think.  I'm really NOT a summer person, we had a taste of what's to come today, 37ยบ Celsius, and I just wilt at these temperatures.  It will be another long, hot, dry summer, and my garden is already looking a little woebegone!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A small tribute in progress...

One of the themes (for want of a better name) that ran through several of Robert Holdstock's books was the magic of masks.  I've always felt masks to be powerful and strange and a little scary.  They figure in so many cultures around the world, including my own (Ned Kelly would probably not be half the legend he is without his magnificent one), and hold great and deep significance.  There are ten masks that appear first in Robert Holdstock's Lavondyss , but reappear in his other books.  When I first read the passages about these masks, I almost felt I was holding my breath in the presence of something truly ancient...they spoke to me, and have entered my own personal mythology (doesn't everyone have one?) and have evolved and melded and changed and grown in my imagination, and I have added my own to his original ten.  And thinking about them yesterday, I started another little pencil drawing, unfinished as yet, but I thought I'd post it to see what you all think.  This is Sinisalo, The Child in the Land.  And here are Robert Holdstock's own thoughts on the masks that appear in his stories.

"In Lavondyss I introduced ten masks that I believe may have been a part of our earliest culture. Call them spirit masks, or shaman masks, or Old Land masks, or Dreamtime masks (which I do)… call them anything. But they represent the great encounter of our earliest conscious minds with the curiosity and memory that is such an important part of what makes us human. New mythology juxtaposed with what we know.....For myself, I have been ‘dreaming’ Ryhope Wood for more than twenty years, now. I live at its edge, half asleep in reality. Then I hear the sounding of a horn, or the howling of a hound. Someone or some thing steps out from the edge of the wood, and beckons to me. And once again, it’s time to wake up. Time to journey."

He has gone on the greatest journey.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Voting for the future and for our children's future...

Yes, I know my widget says 'VOTE EART' : ) but I'm not html savvy enough to figure out how to make it fit properly and I figured you'll know what it means, and that's the most important thing!  Copenhagen is only a few days away, and though I told myself I wasn't going to get into politics and the like on my blog, I think this is so important that it goes beyond politics and economics and so on.  This is the future we're talking about, and I want my children to have one.  If you agree, please click on my VOTE EART (!) widget and you can let the leaders of the world know what we want from them.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A sad goodbye to a wonderful writer...

I have just heard that one of my favourite authors, the wonderful Robert Holdstock, has passed away after a brief battle with an infection.  He was 61.  I first discovered his wonderful Mythago Wood series when a friend recommended them back in 1991, and I think I have bought every title he's written since.  His writing somehow made fantasy earthy, grounded deep in the soil, not flighty and fluffy like a lot of fantasy that I've read.  It wasn't all shiny swords and wizards in velvet cloaks, it had dirt under its cracked fingernails and it smelt of composting leaves under dark oaks.  It was new and yet old, unfamiliar and yet so so so terribly familiar, like reading a long lost memory, discovering a part of yourself you never knew was there.  For me it was like coming home, and his writing has been a continuing inspiration to me.  His extraordinary talents will be missed by many.  RIP.
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