A Moment of Reflection

Thinking about this year of 2016. I was ready to type a positive farewell.

Then I heard the all-to familiar  song of not one, but many Magpie’s. I will admit at 7.30am  I sat there watching them instead of writing this post. There were eight in total and I think the parents were trying to shed a few siblings that had reached the age to be let loose on the world.

The swooping began and to me it looked like a cruel ritual of diving and pecking at each other. It was over in a matter of minutes before they started singing once more. It left me wondering how far away the young adults go when they leave the nest. I was lucky enough to capture a photo that was worth sketching (below). Two Magpies singing or maybe giving out a war cry of warning. No matter, the song was beautiful and I thanked them for my breakfast music.dscn8810-copy

I guess when I look back on this year, the small moments like this one, I cherished most. It gave me time to breathe and reflect on my day before the madness begins. Yes the simple things, like a glorious sunrise or sunset are the events I try to be present in. Sometimes I won’t get my camera out because I just want to savour the moment, like watching a giant full moon fill the night sky.

I found many moments of joy this year in stretching my abilities in art. My passion for birds grows larger I think. I also enjoyed watching my children spread their own wings and learn to reach high for the best results in karate. Their Dad inspiring them all the way. Love them heaps!

So I say to you before the clock strikes twelve on New Years Eve I hope you remember to collect the Minuscule Moments now and in 2017. Find your happy space by doing the things that you love to do. I will be sitting on a beach for New Years Eve with my husband and kids enjoying fish and chips and the cool of the ocean. I leave you with a wonderful Quote and wish you all A Happy and safe New Year.

“Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you, shall form an invincible host against difficulties.” Helen Keller

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Nourishment for Heart and Mind.

dscn8797“Let Christmas not become a thing Merely of merchant’s trafficking, Of tinsel, bell and holly wreath And surface pleasure, but beneath The childish glamour, let us find Nourishment for heart and mind. Let us follow kinder ways Through our teeming human maze, And help the age of peace to come.”
— Madeline Morse

My thoughts on Christmas this year boil down to one question?

Why do we put ourselves through this festive circus? Battling the rabid crowds to find the perfect gift. The long queues, the tired, screaming children. And don’t get me started on the carparks. We find ourselves flustered and frustrated before we even reach the over populated elevators.

Each year when I walk into the mall I swear to myself next year will be different, next year I will shop in July. It never happens.

As I walk by the shops I see Santa sitting there on his giant chair. His beard has seen better days,  a child, her arms outstretched for her mother is wailing on his knee. Well when I say wailing I mean a high pitched squeal. She is upset because her parents want that perfect xmas photo. The one with the beaming smiles and happy baby. I stopped forcing mine to go when they were small, it was not worth the stress and tears. It seemed a tad cruel for two shy kiddies to be thrown on a strangers knee and to expect them to be happy about it. All those talks about stranger danger, if you know what Im getting at.

Today I decided to find an inspirational quote to get me in the festive mood to write a positive blog post about Christmas. I found this quote above and fell in love with it. My issue is I cannot find any information on Madeline Morse and where she came from. So if you know anything about this poem please feel free to share it.

Nourishment for heart and mind that is what Christmas is all about. I come from a family of nine children. This year almost all of us will be together on xmas day. Its not about the presents, but being present. My father (now gone) loved to gather all of us together his friends and family and have a sing along, a couple of drinks, good food, and lots of silly board games….. That is what I remember most, the gathering and the laughter. We have not all been together for a long time and our family has grown in size. I think there will be nineteen adults and eight children for xmas lunch. My father always said the more the merrier. No matter that he had nine children, he often asked neighbours and friends to join us for dinner if they dropped in to say hello. He will be with us in spirit.

My wish for you is that you find nourishment for your heart and mind, you receive  kindness and love from family or friends this xmas.

I am blessed to have a large, crazy, loving family but I know there are plenty of people who don’t. I raise my glass and say to you at christmas I hope you find peace and some joy in the small moments. I sit on my deck this Christmas eve morning and soak up the quiet beauty before me (Picture above) and wish you all a Merry peaceful Xmas.

 

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November Moon

dscn8767-copy Some may think I have disappeared from the blogosphere. Its November already and a giant full moon hung in the sky the other night. I have taken many photos of the moon before but after the super moon I had an urge to combine one of my scratchy ravens with a big full moon behind it.

My art is devouring much of my time at the moment. The picture book art is slower, but I read somewhere if you can’t run, you can still crawl. The bank balance for printing my first picture book grows. That and my obsession with crows and ravens. I guess the line drawings are my signature art. I do have a fascination for the darker side of life when it comes to birds and stories.

There will be a story eventually about these scratchy birds, but not sure if it will be for toddlers. (A tad scary)

I have started experimenting on canvas with acrylics and paint pens (below) instead of the usual pen and ink on paper. I was so happy when a lady took my card at the last art markets she told me her daughter loved my scratchy birds and wanted to buy some that she had seen at the last market. It gave me a smile and made my day.

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Funny because that day at the markets, my daughter and I agreed it was really slow and so I doubted myself….. should I keep bothering about creating these dark images? Something drives me to do them, I feel alive when creating them. I opened up my inbox with a heavy heart the day after and asked myself what should I be concentrating on? And there it was, her email saying she wanted to purchase some of my scratchy birds. We met up and I was  surprised when she brought the painting and two other pieces. She texted me her photo’s of all the original art she has collected over the years and my raven now has a place amongst some amazing pieces.

DSCN8436 (copy)My biggest issue now is I don’t have enough Raven/Crow photo’s for reference. I guess if I hang around the side of the road long enough, next to some road kill, they will come (ewe). They are very smart birds and never let me get real close.

After selling the first one, I painted another, same composition as the pen and ink above. I took it to a market yesterday and once again I found another lover of ravens. A young 12/13 year old boy from Sydney and he said he particularly liked the moon behind it. And that it would look awesome in his room. His mother was a beautiful soul, we chatted for some time and she told me that I should keep powering through with my hobby and art dreams. She said she would pre-order my picture book when I told her the story and my journey. How cool is that.

dscn8778-copy This hobby of mine is slowly turning into something, I say thank you to all those encouraging people who have commented or purchased a piece of my art. Each time I have shared my creations at markets or on social media I am humbled by the positive feedback.

I now paint what comes, I don’t try to think too much on whether it will sell. I just paint what inspires and feeds my soul. The rest will fall into place. Next year I can see this turning a corner and maybe becoming a legitimate business. Now that scares me because Im not good with paper work etc but I can now see my art printed on jewellery, cards, mugs, bags and the list goes on. Im just following my hearts desire and having so much fun learning along the way.

Below is a new idea for my ravens, dog tags, can’t wait to see what they look like when they arrive all the way from the USA.

4-176405636-0-2-1As I create new images, new ideas evolve. I like the idea  that my art might one day be scattered across the globe. Have a great day and believe in the beauty of your dreams. I know a few people now who have my art on their walls in Canada, USA and Australia and that makes me smile.

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Admiration and Appreciation

dsc_0562-copyINSPIRATION, ADMIRATION and APPRECIATION

It has to be said that if it wasn’t for my husband Peter’s wonderful photography I would not have anything to sketch.

So before I take my leave to the city of Canberra, hopefuly a weekend jam-packed with family fun. Like a visit to Questacon, to check out a Spider Exhibition (Eeek! kids choice! Due to a live huntsman colony on show) Of course then to my favourite, a Bird Aviary. Also to the Old Bus Depot Markets for a shopping spree, yay we love shopping.

So before I leave I wanted to share my better half’s photo’s.

I imagine we will have plenty more after we visit the Canberra bird aviary.

Peter and I take our camera’s at every opportunity, but somehow he captures the better photo. Neither of us have much of an idea on the technical side of things, well he may know a bit more than me. I’m a point and shoot kinda gal (keep it simple) and Pete well as you can see he has a flare for capturing much more than most amateur photographers. Keep and eye out for the four legged gull (I kid you not!)

We enjoy a healthy competition to see who can get the best capture of the day. He beats me every time. And so I usually end up using his photo’s for my art.

How could I not.

Enjoy the many beautiful images from the birds, farm life and of course the cows.

My dream when we retire is to go on a birdy-bucket-list tour. First around Australia and see all the birds that are not in our state. Then a bird tour in the United States one day to see the hummingbird. Yes I will die happy if I get to see one in the wild.

Birds have become a big part of our life, and I hope to join a local bird watching group when I get some time. Enjoy the slideshow of some of Pete’s stunning bird captures.

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This post is to say thanks to my Husband for forever surprising and inspiring me, as you can see from the photos and my art below. They are perfection and I hardly do them justice.

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Sometimes I think I should not try, yet something stirs the creative soul when I look upon them and I have to create.

I will leave you with one of my favourite cat portraits of Apple the cat. I could imagine this one on a giant canvas, one day I will get around to it.

Thanks for stopping by I would like to know where your inspiration comes from when you create?

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All We Have is NOW

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Today I had a huge decision to make, a free day to catch up on either the domestics, due to family arriving this weekend or follow a vibe that I needed to paint.

As you would have worked out by the above painting  my house is still in chaos. But I could not resist turning up the music and following the muse. I have not dragged my paint box out in a long, long time due to my passion for using pencils mostly.

I guess the painting reminds me of Spring and the changing seasons give me the energy to declutter. It didn’t happen today but I’m glad I followed my heart and created this little fellow. I have sketched him before and thought he would look good in paint as well.

I have been revisiting old art to see how far I have come and sketched this crow again too. I guess tomorrow I will behave and get the house in order.

BUT I don’t feel guilty at all, seize the day People.DSCN8436 (copy) My next creative opportunity will be Thursday, thats picture book illustration day. If we don’t grab the moments when they become available, they vanish quick enough.

Whether you are heading into Autumn or Spring I hope life is inspiring you to create. I know nature will never stop amazing me.

Enjoy the NOW, go for it! Create Create Create.

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Out of My Comfort Zone

IMG_1261 (copy)I know I have not been present in the blogging world, my attention has been with my picture book illustrations. To say I am out of my comfort zone is somewhat dramatic but I’m now thinking about the big picture and even how I am going to get the book out there into the hands of children once I have completed it. For me that is an amazing thought and one I never dreamed I could do. But now I see it in my mind and its all about the hard work. Creating my best work in the hope it captures the imagination or attention it deserves. So whilst I play with illustrations (can’t show originals sadly) I will share another small journey.

A great opportunity to push my skills with a commission to sketch a beautiful pet. She is unwell and my client wanted a memory for her daughter (now grown) of her favourite horse. I’m not that confidant with sketching horses and it is hard to create a portrait and capture the character of the animal from old photos which were not good quality. But in the pet portrait world it seems that people usually don’t have any good quality compositions or images. The darling horse in her day was beautiful. Recent illness and the photos of her now she is almost unrecognisable. We googled the breed of horse to get an idea of colour etc. To create a pencil sketch this large excited me I must say. Yet I was also a little nervous that I would not capture her spirit with so little reference to go on.

I sent my client a black and white outline of the composition (above) taken from several photos. She loved it and said she wanted just the outline, she was happy with that. I told her that the pencil rendering would be even better. Even though I had never really sketched a horse for a client before. I knew I could do better than the pencil outline.

Trust in your instincts and see where they take you. I have left a step-by-step rendering, you can see her come alive. My client was ecstatic and when she handed the artwork to her daughter she cried. She said I had captured her baby perfectly. Not all my art turns out this well but it’s just a matter of starting again if its wrong. I am happy that I can create art that someone can keep as a cherished memory of a special friend.

I hope when the opportunity comes for you to step out of your comfort zone you take the chance to learn something new. Thanks for supporting my blog and I hope to get back to regular blog posts soon.

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Sweet Retreat

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The most anticipated event of the year!

The Bundanon Art Retreat in April. It has been and gone already!

It is a wonder that I have not blogged about it sooner but my writing days slip into a deep dark void of nothingness. I look at the calendar and feel I have lost clumps of time and I have. It seems to be happening more and more.  I have so many things I could be writing about. Yet my attention and motivation for art have shifted my passions around.

My writing slows and the drive to blog also. I know it’s just a faze. I’m not going to panic, just go where my interests take me. I decided only to blog when I felt the need to share something of value. Yet still, it is almost the end of June! The need to polish those writing skills is the reason I started the blog in the first place. For someone living in a rural setting, (no neighbours). Blogging is a fantastic way to connect with fellow creatives from across the globe. I will try to do better next month.

Now…….back to art. The Bundanon Retreat is available to the common folk due to the generosity of Arthur Boyd and his wife. They decided to donate their homestead and property back to Australia. Many creatives have benefited from the artist in residence programs (would be an amazing experience).

For the second year I drove to Bundanon eager to experience a few days learning new skills. Although it is not just about the art. The energy in the class is a real buzz too.  It is time well spent honing new skills and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. The joy and laughter is infectious. Old friends catch up, share stories of life and also enjoy the odd glass of wine at the end of the day.

Mary and Jim deliver the goods, each lesson activates the senses. Opening my eyes to new ideas. It does help that there are no kids, (I mean that in the nicest way) no one to interrupt that creative flow.

Just me and my muse with oodles of time to play.

One particular area they utilise for inspiration is a walk into the nearby forest. We gear up with protective layers to combat the waiting leeches. They drop from the trees like black rain, with amazing accuracy. No kidding, little suckers turn up without an invitation. Two years running no leech for me. My ammunition? I drown myself in an expensive perfume and wear a pair of chunky boots (worked so far). Jim brings the salt and mozzy spray and off we go.

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Sitting under the canopy of tall spotted gums, there is a natural high as my eyes soak up nature. Our teacher Mary hands out the charcoal, we must colour the whole paper black (messy but fun). Mary asks us to choose a view to sketch. She then takes her erasure and proceeds in sketching, by selecting all the highlighted areas first.

I could not wait to start.

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After rubbing out the areas of light with my erasure I was stunned at the effect. We were then told to darken the shadowed areas with charcoal once more. A simple technique that had startling effects.

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I ended up using a tangerine charcoal to finish. But I actually preferred the black and white one better. The beauty of the exercise is there is no going back and thats okay, its all about the process.

At the end of each day I did not create brilliant work. But boy did I learn many a new technique. The company and general positivity about the camp, leaves a certain joy in your soul, that is only found at Bundanon.

I look forward to getting a place next year. My husband supports my time out and believes I deserve a couple of days off from the Mummy-me. I also get to spend time with two of my beautiful sisters Coleen and Carmel. And their gorgeous friends, like Nicky. Although sis Carm did not plan to stay over night this year and drove home the first night. Her new baby boy needing her more and fate decided that she was not to return when her car had a flat tyre. Hopefully next year Carm.

If you get the chance to go on any kind of retreat I would say go for it! My world is richer for the experience.

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Enjoy the slides this was only one lesson. We actually learned how to make a collagraph print too. Here is a link to a youtube clip of how its done, I love what this artist creates. I was happy with my raven collagraph, yes I had to sketch the birds whilst I was at Bundanon.

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