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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Story Prompt 3 Winnie and Wink

This Prompt was not as easy as the other two. Not because I wasn’t inspired by all the wonderful and whacky prompts. No, it was a busy time. School holidays (say no more!),  Art Retreat at Bundanon (fabulous as always), seven stitches in my back, removing a suspect mole (was a bad one but all gone now), and life just got in the way of blogging and reading blogs. (That happens a lot lately.)

I want to thank Randall over at https://dalocollis.com for his crazy contribution in the comments. The kids loved his prompt. Please if you are not following Randall’s website you are missing out. His photography is a visual feast for the senses and he is also a unique wordsmith with interesting thoughts on life.

Thanks a bunch Randall you never know this story may become a picture book in time. Thank you to everyone who left a prompt. I hope you enjoy the story.

Winnie and Wink

writing prompt by Kath Unsworth

Whinnie to the Rescue

Winnie and Wink

 

Winnie and Wink

Winnie and Wink were the best of friends. They did everything together.

Their favourite game of all was hide and seek.

Winnie always found Wink. And Wink always claimed that the next time Winnie would never, EVER find her. But she always did.

“Why won’t you let me find you for a change?” asked Wink.

“Because you need more practice at hiding. And until you get better at it, your  Mum said you have to keep practicing. You don’t want the two-legged monsters to catch you and eat you, do you?”

“No I don’t, but it’s still not fair!”

“Well I’m the best at hiding and you need more practice.” Boasted Winnie.

The next day Wink set off to hide, again she shouted those familiar words.

“You will never, EVER find me!”

Whinny smiled to herself, she always found Wink. Yet by late afternoon Winnie was pacing up and down.

She had looked high, and low and in all Wink’s favourite hiding places, there was no sign of Wink, not even her scent in the air. Winnie refused to say the words I give up. That would mean her friend had finally won. Winnie did not like to lose.

Where could she be? She hoped Wink had not ventured into the land of the two-legged monsters to hide. No bunny was safe out there.

She heard a high-pitched squeal and wondered if it was Wink. Without thinking she scampered out of the woods into the clearing.

The two-legged monsters were stomping around in a garden. To Winnie’s horror they were collecting stunned bunnies.

Her heart stopped when she found a bunny that wore a pink ribbon just like Wink’s, only she was wrapped from head to toe in pink paper.

“What have they done to you Wink?” She knew this had to be some kind of black magic the two-legged monsters had used on her friend.

She had to think fast.

She lifted Wink over her shoulder and ran as fast as her hind legs could go. Back into the safety of the forest.

“Wink! Wink! Talk to me!“

It was no use Wink did not talk or move. Winnie felt bad for making Wink hide all the time.

“I promise Winky if we get out of this mess I will let you be the finder.” She sobbed. “I give up, you win!” She sobbed some more, wrapping her arms around her best friend’s cold stiff body.

“Who are you talking to Winnie?” Said a small voice from behind a bush.

“Wink! it’s you, I found you at last!”

“No you didn’t! I won, you gave up remember.” Wink said hugging her friend. “So tomorrow I get to find you.”

“Yes okay you won, you are the best at hiding, but what are we going to do about this poor bunny?”

Winnie and Wink went back home carrying the strange bunny. They hoped the elders might know a bunny spell to save it.

But that’s another story.

THE END or is it???

Let me know if you can imagine this as a picture book? And thanks for reading.

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PROMPT Me Punk 3

 

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Easter Monday and I finally arrive at my blog. My mind on over drive from too much Lindt bunny chocolate. I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter. We were lucky enough to spend it with family on the beach. Autumn is here but the days have been warm enough for a swim.

Looking at the amount of posts I have written for March, I must admit it’s slim pickings. My apologies. As I work on my illustrations for the picture book I am avoiding social media and the time traps that suck the good sketching light out of each day.

After all that chocolate I’m in the mood for some FUN. Happy to bring back Prompt Me Punk  3. It delights me to see the ideas the readers come up with. Eventually I imagine I will reshape these stories and create other picture books from them. https://kathunsworth.com/2015/03/08/i-cant-sleep-prompt-me-punk2-picture-book-draft/

Please contribute your idea  in a sentence or two, the sillier the better………

Choose two main characters.

One big problem.

Make sure you have names and if they are human or animal. Remember my children will be choosing the prompt that they would like to see me do.

REMEMBER real life can be stranger than fiction. Think about your pets or kids, or both and something crazy that may have really happened. For example today I found a tiny snail no bigger than my fingernail sitting on top of a cows head. It looked so small and vulnerable up there and so my husband put him back in the garden. My mind went crazy with picture book ideas.

I look forward to creating something special and thank you for inspiring me to challenge myself. I bid farewell to March and hope April is kind to us all.

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The Other Me

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Abseiling with my my sister.

The Other Me.

My children don’t really know her. I had forgotten about her until the other week when we went on a family adventure. My daughter’s birthday, we decided to keep it simple with just the four of us. Willow wanted to do the tree climb at a local fun park. They all wore these cheeky grins when I agreed to come along, like they knew something I didn’t. They had after all experienced the tree climb once before.

The kids jumped around excited that I was keen to come along. Mum usually sat on the beach or the sidelines waving at them and reading a book. Not this time. They warned me it was no easy feat and a bit scary. Especially if the wind picked up. I can tell you I was a tad nervous yet I pretended everything was fine. But I had a secret. My kids had not met the other me, the adventurous one before marriage and babies.

On arrival we lathered ourselves in sunscreen and drank gallons of water in ready for a hot day. I listened carefully to the safety talk, our trusty guides joked with us as they strapped us into our gear. My boy took to the ladder first, like a monkey chasing the last banana at feeding time. Then Pete followed him, up higher and higher with little effort. Willow smiled at me. I know she was checking to see if my knees were knocking. They were but I tried to look calm. She waved, then set off up into the sky towards the first platform.

My turn. I will remind the readers I have not attempted anything this physical in a long while.  But I thought about my years as a backpacker, all the different challenges I set myself. One step after another and using my yoga breath I found myself at the tops of the canopy. I will admit the ladder climb is one of the most challenging parts of the course, just don’t look down. My heart was thumping wildly but I smiled and waved at the kids like I had climbed it one hundred times before.

Foggy memories. The other me abseiling down a mountain cliff, came flooding back. As I attached myself for the ride of my life, I reminded the older me I had experienced much worse. I heard the kids cheering me on as I flew across the park on the flying fox. “Go Mum!”

It felt amazing.

The other me would have been fearless on the ropes and steps of the course. The other me was much younger, blonde and in prime condition. Shaken at first, slowly I gained confidence being up so high. I was thankful for the many weeks of yoga. My upper body strength was not brilliant, but I managed. Climbing nets, stepping across swinging polls and walking on thin cables.

When you reach the end they warned me there is a drop down to a small mat, way down below. Instead of thinking about it, I thought about a sky dive, a tandem  jump I did in my thirties. No fear there.

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I wondered why I had changed so much after children. How did I become this safe and boring person. You definitely change when you become a mother. Maybe a bit too serious at times, due to being the discipline police with little ones. Well I’m happy to say, now the children are almost both teens the other me has found her way back. In the last couple of months we have been active, embracing life. Bike riding, walking, using a paddle ski at the beach and now tree climbing. Where will we go next?

When I reached the platform I looked down at my tiny family below, waving up at me. I connected my link to the pulley and jumped, no hesitation. I knew the safety harness and the pulley would slow my decent for a soft landing. The drop was so much fun.

Pete commented at how I jumped off without a thought. I smiled and thanked the universe for all the amazing adventures the other me had experienced. It was cool to see my children look at me in a different light. My only regret is we did not get any photos. In the rush of adrenaline I said yes to doing it all again for my son’s birthday in July. Then I heard they are making a black course which will be even more challenging. Oh well I will have to ask the other me if she is available on that day.

When have you surprised your kids and shown them another side of you? I would love to hear about it.

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Now is the Hour

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Friesian Beauty by Kath Unsworth

Now is the Hour.

Did you find yourself scratching your head and asking, what happened to January?

Not me, (for once) determined to live each day in the moment. I kept my promise to myself and stayed on target with my projects. Checking in with my virtual diary. It assisted in tracking the hours I could use for creativity.

January will go down as the month I finished my outline illustrations for the picture book. Finishing was its own reward. The hard work begins now rendering each image to the best of my abilities. No turning back.

I discovered I can break the practice of creating new habits down even further.

I listened to a Deepak Chopra free webinar Finding Sacred Momentum and having your best year ever. I know most free webinars end with a pitch to sell you something and this one did not disappoint a nine week online course called Synchro Destiny. The offer was way over my budget (sadly I would have loved to join).

I took away a couple of great tips from the free webinar though that have enlightened me on this quest to stretch my boundaries. 

A basic thought process and frightfully simple. But it worked to help me to stay focused.

In this free webinarDeepak Chopra talked about. No regrets, no resistance, no anticipation all we have is just this moment, thats all. I use that in a meditation too.

NOW, is all we have.

What are we going to do with this moment?

When I ask each day, I see a clear action on what I must do. Deepak believes we should always be open to messages that come and follow the line of connection. Being in the flow is important and not fighting against it is the key. He believes when choosing our rightful path we should think about this…..

I’ll make choices in the moment that are joyful for me and others. 

Wow! This one hit home for me, when I am creating art I am joyful.

“No regrets, no resistance, no anticipation just this moment is all there is.”

I think what he is trying to tell us is when we discover our joy in what we do, things flow better. I set aside some time to meditate in the mornings. At the end of this time I imagine my book or project already finished. What it actually will look like. I imagine holding the book in my hands, it’s a powerful imagery and practice. One day my mind created images of cows and I knew it was a day I had to paint one of Pete’s photo’s.

The painting flowed that day and I know the meditation helped to bring it to life.

Another example of living in the now. A few days ago I came down with the flu (yes a summer flu). Instead of stressing about the book, exercise, or reading of my favourite blogs etc. I accepted that my body wanted me to be still. I enjoyed the stillness, sleeping and doing nothing for a couple of days. So I hope you see that if you go with the natural ebb and flow of your daily life, good moments can come from it.

I do wish to apologise as lately I am unable to read all your blog posts. Just know I read as many as I can but sometimes I just can’t comment on all of them. I need to focus on my art in this moment.

Please tell me in the comments how you discovered you were on the right path. Or if you are still looking for a sign to start your dreams, remember you only have this moment. What are you going to do with it?

Another take away quote from the webinar I will leave with you. I hope the week flows with an abundance of creativity and joy.

“The best use of imagination is creativity the worst use of imagination is fear.“

” Deepak Chopra “

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Friesian Beauty by Kath Unsworth

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Day by Day

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Cheeky Lorikeet By Kath Unsworth

I step outside. The deck feels oddly cold under my bare feet. Strange for a summers morn. The clouds look threatening. It has rained heavy for many days and it seems the storm has unfinished business in this corner of the universe.

Six Lorikeets perched high in a nearby tree. The racket intensifies as the sun pierces through thick cloud. The birds, grass and trees so vibrant under a ray of golden light. I soak up the rich colours of the Lorikeets and the natural beauty of where I live. I am thankful for the air I breathe.

That may sound cheesy to some but I am now practicing gratitude every morning. I close my eyes and listen to nature. The sun warms my face and I am ready to start my day.

Following on from my last post I am choosing yoga in the mornings. I am trying to introduce small healthy habits day by day. My morning instructor reminds me: if I use meditation and yoga often enough, my insomnia and fatigue will disappear. I wonder what she is doing now, I have had the DVD for at least ten years. I bet she is still practicing. Once a week I also attend a local class for over fifties. That in itself makes me cringe (I’m heading for the senior citizen zone). But when I first arrived, it was surprising, most of the class were older than me. Though amazingly strong and obviously yoga an ever-present practice in their daily lives. I could feel the uplifting vibes in the room. (not joking).

Creating new habits is not easy. Meditation is difficult for someone with a creative brain that never shuts down. It is difficult to squash all the stories and ideas bubbling to the surface. You wouldn’t want to go in there, my father said I talked in a babble or backwards even when asleep. A product of an overactive mind he use to say.

My husband, I know I mentioned him last week but he is my cheer leading squad. Encouraging me every day with my health and picture book dreams.

Since starting karate with the kids he has transformed his mind and body to accept a new healthy routine and resists eating fast food or too much sugar. I’m not as strong and won’t deny myself those treats every now and again. We know our children can see the benefits of having healthier, more active parents.

For all you readers with resolutions, goals or big plans for 2016. Jeff Goins wrote a post that resonated with me.

http://goinswriter.com/slow-start-resolutions/

It reminded me if I stick to a routine every day I will create new habits. Which in-turn will help me on the days my passion wavers. By starting with exercise and following with working on my picture book almost every day I can see small changes happening.

One sentence I printed out and pinned to my art board.

“When the passion goes away, it’s the practice that sustains us.”

From the post by Jeff Goins link above.

I want to practice good health first.

I look back over my virtual daily diary and I can see the days I started with a walk or yoga were more productive.

I have almost finished my outlines for Sugar and Spice. Only seven outlines to go and then the real fun begins in rendering them. But I’ll have the back bone of the story completed. Never have I gotten this far before.

I realise It’s not going to be easy when school starts back we all get caught up in life’s craziness don’t we. But by creating new habits and practicing every day we can get there.

I hope I have inspired you to think about your life goals. Share with me something you have added to your daily routine or something you want to change? Lets make January our starting point to a healthier and more productive year.

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