Friday, June 20, 2014

more Winter Dreaming



Tomorrow is the Solstice and around this time of year a special space opens up. For me this time of year is my Winter Dreaming, a special season of it's own in my creative life. I could easily fill it by complaining of the cold, wishing I was away somewhere warm, or busying myself with chores, but I don't.

Instead I go with it, I go with the flow, the slow, the deep blue hues and the sea breeze and I let it seep in, in under my skin. I let go of what bothers me, what frightens me and dive deep, settle, sink to the bottom of my own ocean of emotions of thoughts and distractions and there at the deepest point, I find the place where I am still. Where there's no further to go down, no deeper to be, things will not get darker, colder, this is the limit of me. Here in the depths I sense what I am capable of and each year I do this I build a resilience that holds me safe and lets me go at my pace, doing my thing, in my own creative way.


Like a tiny seed at the bottom of the ocean, this is the point where everything ends and everything begins. This for me is the real New Year. From here everything is up. Up to the light, up to the sun, up to the air. I find this process so fulfilling, so nourishing that I gain much strength and courage from it.

In my floating, sinking, I have moved away from drawing coffee in the coffee shops and started to sit beside the shore. Sometimes the same place, space, where I've sat sketching in my 1000 words for Summer. This time though, I'm not sketching the scene, I'm listening to the stories the scene has to tell. By sitting here and back in my studio at home, at my computer and by the books I've been reading, books like "A Gift from the Sea", I've been immersing myself in the flow.



As I said in my last Winter Dreaming post. "It's a surround sound experience." Maybe I am looking for a creative TerroirGenus loci, a sense of place, a certain "je ne sais quoi" yes, I'm not sure what I'm looking for but I'm sure I'll know it when I find it. Maybe it's an primal thing, to want to listen to the tales of the sea and the land, to bond with them and let my art convey something special.


At the start of June, I went to Joshua Yeldham's talk at Eramboo, a similar talk to this one in these two videos, Joshua Yeldham - Artist at Work part I and part 2. I know he senses the spirit of place and captures it in his beautiful drawings, paintings and sculpture.

Unlike Joshua I didn't grow up here, I grew up near Stonehenge, and have been lucky enough to travel to many sacred places both here and overseas and felt the power of the earth. I've felt connected to the sky as well. So when the Solstice comes, it's a time which connects me to this planet as a whole and I'm wondering if I am trying to tell a narrative or simply a series of images. What about the poetry winter brings out in me? How does it all fit together.


As I said, I try not to question and instead I go with it. What has been really special is the number of happy accidents, happening around me as I draw on the page and film or photograph by the sea. The day after drawing whales in the picture above, I spotted one just off Avalon Beach breaching several times, which is something I've never seen before. In the past I've spent time drawing whales from images in books but it was very special to see one whilst sketching.


Watching the videos again about Joshua's works I realise my works are very small, but it's a start. Maybe it's the subtraction, the carving, the negative space that I seek. Certainly the vibrations between the lines speak and in these doodles, these intuitive drawings, in my filming and photographs and in my poetry I am seeing and sensing a repetition that its comforting that gradually, slowly I am finding me. What I love and what is my gift to the world?


I'm not sure I've quite reach the bottom. Maybe there's a few more hemispheres to go! In the meantime happy accidents like filming this mermaid as she emerged from the sea on the iconic Bondi Beach, when whilst swooping on the film crew, this seagull swooped on me! Maybe all these things are simply a reminder that life and art are always connected.



Then again today, the day before the equinox, a pod of dolphins swam by. Up and down they frolicked close to shore as the rain began to pour. Then after the sun shower a rainbow appeared.

Magic really does happen! 

Happy Solstice!




Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Winter Dreaming




I've been dreaming again, Winter Dreaming as I like to do at this time of year. This time when whales pass the coast. If I'm lucky I get to see them, playing, frolicking, splashing their tales about. I'm not always that lucky, but when I do, it's a chance to connect with a creature much bigger than me who likes to move slow and swim with the currents to and fro, seeking, taking only what it needs, nurturing its young. The giants of the oceans. That's what I love. 

In my dreaming, I've been filling my days feeding my soul in various ways. One way has been to watch the film Indie Kindred by the talented filmaker Jen Lee. It's a movie that calls to those creatives who work alone. Introverts not recluses who need space to hear themselves think, but who love to be part of something bigger than themselves, to connect with others. I really recommend it. Yes it's Vimeo on demand, but it's only the price of a big cup of chai, something I like to drink at this time of year.

I've also been reading Oak - The Nordic Journal full of poetic tales from a place much colder than here and buying new winter clothes! You see, for me, creativity is a surround sound kind of thing. It consumes me, I go with it.

 

Then a friend on facebook shared a great article about what's great about winter which I want to share with you here. As you know I try to create using the energy of the seasons and the phases of the moon. With my big 1000 words for Summer project half a year, a hemisphere away, it's time for me to rest, tune in and go slow. De-frag, de-saturate, turn in and hibernate. So playing, doodling in paint on the softest of papers is perfect for that. This weekend's long weekend also gave the time that I needed.

In addition to this I've been drawing intuitively in my sketchbook and playing in turning them into paintings. I am not sure yet where this is going, but that's not what this season is about. That comes later in Spring. Rest, rest and more rest, listening and dreaming. I know its getting hot where some of you are and that's good, but trust me, here where Summer seems to last half a year, any opportunity for Winter is a dream.

she dreams
the fish swim
she sleeps
the whale squeals
she listens
the fish chase
she smiles
the seaweed sways
she tosses
the waves roll in
she floats
the fish nibble
she giggles
the whale blows
she sighs
the night passes
she dreams
So after some rest and some dreaming, watching movies and reading, I've written a letter to My Kindred. I know she's out there. I know she may actually be a he, that maybe it's more than one, but that's not up to me. Here's what I wrote:
My Kindred, loves to hide in the shadows, she cannot show all for to do so would mean she would die, disappear in the vain attempt to appear. So instead My Kindred loves to smile in the street to those she greets and go about her day knowing that behind the scenes there’s a whole show going on, a dance, a theatrical performance of momentous scale that she is part of, that she is privy to, not because she’s entitled to, but because she has heard the call and chosen to show up.

Here, there, under her skin, hidden in her heart magic happens. Sparkles and listenings and insights which light up her eyes, her mind, her body, her soul, freshen her skin and drive her to do exceptional things, to give in extraordinary ways. Here, there, on her own stage, in the privacy of her own heart, she can hear the callings of her soul. Here, there, she’s not bothered by the titter-tat of the mundane, material world. Here, there, she shares with others from both worlds and worlds yet to come.
 
My Kindred loves to create, loves to play, loves to have absolutely no idea what she’s doing. Total freedom to explore, to embrace serendipity, synchronicity and spontaneity not in a way that surprises or frightens, but tantalizes and creates desire, appetite for more creativity in this world. 
My Kindred doesn’t seek the light from outside but the light from within, the ability to keep going, to keep creating. My Kindred will defend that need, will do anything to keep that flame alive. My Kindred works hard, searches and seeks where the breath blows, where there is just enough air but not so much that it puts out the flame. My Kindred understands the rhythm of her soul, a rhythm that’s in tune with the planet. For My Kindred seeks a self sustaining life, one that feeds itself, one that taps into the well and finds the never ending elixir.  
Gratitude, humbleness, kindness, generosity, quirkiness, laughter, joy and spontaneity are the hallmarks My Kindred wears silently on her sleeve. She seeks a quietness, a willingness to retreat to the silent parts, the quiet zones, the less visited, more mysterious places, where creation begins and imagination grows. This is the true home of My Kindred.  
My Kindred works in many fields, many mediums not because she’s confused, or rushed or scattered, but because all fields can be fields of creativity, even sweeping the floor, washing, shopping, doing the chores. My Kindred knows these are like stretching the canvas, they are part of the showing up, part of the limbering up, getting ready for the fun, the joy of it all. My Kindred grabs whatever’s at hand to capture the moment, the moment that without being captured may be gone forever, never to return and in that observing, responding, has no judging, simply a wondering, an admiring of the beauty and wonder.
My Kindred doesn’t labour, she dances, she doesn’t whinge, she seeks solutions, for she knows that just as the messy part of a painting can be fixed, so too anything can be created, but it’s the waiting and listening, the seeking of knowing what to do rather than the reacting, the panting and performing that gets things done. She focuses on the "what" and lets go of the "how".  
My Kindred seeks knowledge but she perfects skills, she turns up each day in some small way and keeps going. Sometimes that doing is being still, sometimes it’s incredibly busy, but each night at the end of the day, she gives thanks for being able to do it at all, for she knows others are far less fortunate. 
My Kindred knows it’s not all about her, but about a long line of creative women who have gone before and will come afterwards. She knows it’s about place and space and allowing these things to seep through. She sits long enough to allow them to infuse rather than rushing on in. She uses the old to create the new. 
My Kindred can see in the eyes of another the stories they need to tell, the stories that weigh on their heart, that hold them back. She knows the key to the lock and she willingly, gradually, slowly, enables them not only to find it, but turn the key, open the door and walk on in.  
My Kindred walks in the fields of flowers, and picks the fruits of love, of abundance and shares them with the world. She is a gift to her people whether they see it or not. She knows that what she does is enough. She knows that anything else would be too much, that doing anything else would be a waste of time so she conserves her energy for what matters most. She rests but she does not sleep. She works but she does not labour, she loves but she does not give away all for the sake of another only, so her bucket can be refilled.  
My Kindred is the source of her own life, she has found her well, she knows that the flow is endless and she respects and treasures it. That she does not show or share in ways others would doesn’t bother her because she has her work to do, that is all. Those she needs come her way, they do not boss or wish to own her, instead they seek a way to work with her, to ensure the elixir keeps flowing. They do this through a wonderful silent dance that balances their soul rather than disturbs the world. One that vibrates with a soothing rhythm as gentle as a mother rocking her baby to sleep. 
She knows all is well in this world and what she has to do to live a full life. My Kindred dreams beautiful dreams and lives to share the lessons she has learnt in her art, in her heat and the stories she tells.
There is so much more I could tell you about My Kindred, about who she is and what she does. I could tell you the many detailed things she loves, the tiny aspects of everything that she senses with all her senses, that she observes, admires and creates in this world. My Kindred lights up my world, she makes me smile, she makes me laugh, she makes it easier for me to live my life and together we enjoy the dance. Together we are more than either one of us could be alone.  
Are you My Kindred? If so   shall we dance?


Other posts about Winter can be found by using this link.

POSTSCRIPT:
Please read on into the comments, where a wonderful discussion opens up what this post might actually be about. (Love it when that happens!) Thanks for popping by, loved having you here.



Saturday, May 31, 2014

On Islands - acceptance.




Have you ever been on a blind date? An arranged marriage? How about a mystery flight? Ever taken on any of these? Well I am doing all three! Or at least that's how it feels having been accepted to the "On Islands" collaboration project with Eramboo Artists Environment. Curated by Selena Griffith from COFA, it is going to be a most interesting experience I am sure.

There was something in the call out to Artists, Poets, Writers and Composers that appealed, that led me to simply sit down and write. In a single stream of consciousness I wrote a poem and entered it and clearly they liked it because I've been accepted. I am pretty happy but also quite nervous, because although I've begun to embrace my poetry, it's the first time I've been called a Poet.

I am also intrigued with what will eventuate as my co-collaborators, those also on this blind date are three very talented people, none of whom I've met before. Angela van Boxtel, Eunice McAllister and Kuba Dorabialski are all established creatives from this part of Sydney and I am especially excited at the possibility of working with a composer to put my poetry to sound.

But as I said it's a magical mystery tour. Establishing contact, establishing how we work, let alone what we create is all ahead of us. We have been given a site at Eramboo and along with about 40 other people working in various groups, we will create installations which will all come together for an exhibition in November, 2014.



I am looking forward to sharing this experience, to sharing my creativity and the skills I've learnt from collaborating with others in various projects I've worked on both online and offline. I am sure there will be many challenges but also some wonderful creative opportunities and I look forward to what happens next. Another surprise is my oldest daughter is also participating in one of the other groups as part of her COFA Fine Arts degree. So you see, it's definitely a magical mystery!

One step at a time, with the support of a creative team. 

Have you ever done anything like this? Do you have any useful tips?



Thursday, May 15, 2014

Intuitive drawing on the full moon.

After a big day sketching and filming, it's nice to come inside after dark and sit in the warmth. Sun-kissed, wind blown, refreshed and fulfilled, I love sitting quietly and watching what appears on my page.

I really have no set intention as to what I draw, I simply allow the image to appear on the page. It's not easy, but it's certainly lots of fun. I go places when I draw like this, places I've travelled. I see snippets of things I've seen, memories, experiences, imaginary and real.

Each full moon I like to sit. Sometimes I paint, sometimes I draw, sometimes I like to film and sometimes I write poetry. This full moon in May, the first after Mother's Day signals the shift in focus of my work from Heart to Home (Valentines Day to Mother's Day) into Winter Dreaming. I really look forward to this time of year as a time to go I N and go S L O W.

For sometime now, I have been looking for a way to acknowledge the Moon more specifically in my work with a project of of it's own. I'm not sure exactly what yet, but with my recent acceptance of my role as a "Poet" in the On Islands collaboration, I thought it might be nice to link the two in a special form of Visual Poetry Project, maybe on my Instagram account.

Here is my first attempt:



"Last night I saw the moon, 
but the moon didn't see me, 
it was hiding behind the palm trees, 
and I was far below. 

As the breeze blew, 
and the fronds swayed, 
all I could think of was you. 

The moon is now passed
and day is now bright, 
but I hope you will meet me, 
come next moonlit night" 

© suzi poland 2014


Do you love the moon? Will you join me?... next full moon?

By all means let me know what you think. Any ideas, suggestions or collaborations are always welcome.



Saturday, May 10, 2014

Three films by three daughters



This week, as we acclimatise to the cooler, late autumn weather, I have been accompanied by one of my daughters as she has joined me on my creative outings around where I live. I absolutely adore the calmness she brings to my world and we are beginning to explore the influences we have on each other’s creativity.

As the year pans out in unexpected ways, it is my hope that we can bring more of our collaborative work for you to see. How, when and where we are not quite sure, but for now here’s a sneak peak.

 

Last winter as I sketched by the sea, I wrote more and more poetry including the poem "Beanie Boy". Winter is a very poetic time for me and I hope that by simply acknowledging our desire, our capacity and the opportunity we have, it will allow our creativity to flow and allow what we do to evolve.

With youth on her side and age on mine, working completely intuitively, it would be lovely if you could be involved by giving your feedback whenever, wherever you see us posting together. Thanks to many of you who have done so already this week on my Instagram.

This second film is my edited version of the film Saskia took of me sketching. The full length film (3mins) can be viewed on my Vimeo site. It's simply titled "Two Juices".



I have another daughter who is creative. Sophia is in her final year at art school and up until now I have always thought of this blog being my space, my creative haven, but I am learning too that creativity thrives with connectivity, especially for women.

I don't know where this will go, how long it will take to get there, I am not even sure where "there" is, but here is a film of her final year artwork which is ongoing and I want to share it here, simply because of it's enchanting, everchanging, ephemeral beauty.


I guess I am simply opening up a space and acknowledging that I have a creative family and that I want to include them in the hope that together we can do more than either of us could do alone. This is not something that was available to me when I started out, so maybe it's something I want to give back.

Maybe, I simply want to share the joy I have of being their mum and to acknowledge the influence they have on me. Is that too self indulgent? I don't really know, but I want to thank you for joining us on this journey. 

Do you come from a creative family? Do you get inspiration, ignorance, hindrance or support?

POSTSCRIPT:
I wasn't really sure at the start of this week why I felt compelled to write this post. I wasn't quite sure what I was trying to say. By weeks end with the amazing things that have happened including my acceptance into Eramboo's "On Island's" collaboration, some silent support from people in the wings and some news that my work has inspired other young artists studying at one of Sydney leading art schools, it has made me wonder if I am entering a new phase.

Tomorrow's Mother's Day will be the first without my mother, the first without my husbands mother. It will be the first without either of my girls grandmothers. Sophia and Saskia may not yet be mothers and I may not yet be a grandmother, but one thing we all have in common … all of us are daughters.

Wishing everyone a very

Happy Mother's Day!





Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Sketching at Strickland House Open Day





Some of you may know that my mother, who sadly passed away late last year, spent 24 years of her life saving Strickland House, a wonderful heritage building in Vaucluse, Sydney. For the last 15 years an Open Day has been organised by the Woollahra History and Heritage Society and each year my parents spent many hours preparing the displays, packing and carting equipment to ensure the public could experience this wonderful property. Over the years my father has given guided tours on the Open Day and volunteers have worked tirelessly to enlist the support of visitors to lobby the government to ensure the building and grounds stay as public parkland.




Last Sunday was a special day as it was the first one without my mum. It was sunny but very breezy and over 500 people from 130 suburbs of Sydney attended including fellow sketchers, family and friends. The Sydney Sketch Club Meet Up Group had arranged to visit and it was lovely to see them spread around the grounds raising much interest in what they were doing, what they were seeing.





It was a busy and emotional day for me and at the end of the long day I put together a little video of the talk that my father gave so you can get a feel of being there. My mother's legacy and her gift of organisation meant the day went off without a hitch.  I am sure she would have been very proud.

 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Country, City or the Sea - which would you choose?

May Day, May Day! It's the first of May! I remember a long time ago when this day was a big day in the land where I came from. It's not celebrated here where autumn is really just a cooler version of Summer. Here, by the sea, the land doesn't get so cold. Here, by the sea even if the sun isn't shining there's always something moving, something fun to see. Boats bob about, flags fly and stays on boats clatter and clang in the wind. Something, somewhere is usually blowing in the breeze and if it's not, it soon will be.


At this time of year it's nice to visit the country. The air is cool and crisp, the mornings have a chill and a fog that lifts. Later still and the chill will be too cool for me, one who lives by the sea. Now with the red and yellow leaves in the trees, reminding me of the flags that have gone from the beach. Now is a perfect time for a drive which I was lucky to do with friends who came from far away to celebrate my big birthday recently in the county by a big fireplace, in big rooms, in big houses that seem to dwarf the homes where I live.



 


Returning from the country to the city. Graffiti Woman gift in hand, it wasn't long until I was back in the city, where the big houses where I live dwarf the rooms that people rent or the street ledges people call home. The greys of the bitumen, where street signs grow like regenerating vegetation, where people come and go and hardly say hello. Where to wear colour or to smile makes you feel as though you are from Mars. There is colour to be found, in the arcades and alleyways, in the spaces in-between. Colour in the cafes, the clothes and on the sides of the buildings. Faces meters tall looking at you, or skyscrapers asking you to look up.


In the city, parking is metered and monitored like shark patrol at the beaches. Builders working on a building site do a carpark dance as they try to avoid a fine. I too don't stop nearly as long as I'd like to, so sketching is rushed and simple lines are all I'm left with. People come and go simply stopping for coffee, not to speak to anyone, just gazing at people gazing back at them. It's not easy to sketch people when they don't sit for very long and I end up noticing how different it is compared to the people sketching I did in Summer.



All the land, all the colour in the trees. All the bitumen, all the signs. It's not long until I am back by the sea. It's a beautiful bright sunny day and I see the clarity of the water, clarity of the air. The scene is dominated by the blues, by the brights, by the glistening of sunlight on the rippling water below.

Someone said about my artworks, "You use a lot of blues", I wonder if I lived in the city, would there be more grey? If I lived in the country would they all turn green? Variety is important to me. Would I have enjoyed this day as much without the other days that went before? Is this enough or is it the variety that keeps it fresh? Is this the same for creativity?



Drawing, painting, filming, making, writing, doodling, musing, moving. All these are vital to me, to my practice. The variety, the diversity is what keeps me fresh, keeps me motivated. I shift my focus throughout the seasons, but my tools, my mediums, are there to capture what I see, how I feel, each one expressing something slightly different.



I still refuse to choose, for doing so would be like choosing only one of these places to be. Each one is beautiful to me, each one feeding me with something different, enabling me to recharge by switching between. Maybe it will take me longer to climb the mountain of success (wherever that is). Maybe it means I carry more suitcases than many, but really for me, it's the only way to be. This way I can embrace all of life in my creativity.





Friday, April 25, 2014

Vacancy at Heart House





For those of you who know me, you will know there's a lot going on personally right now. Between my big 50 birthday and my recent losses, it takes a lot to swing from Joy to Sorrow and back to Joy. I don't know about you, but holding on, commemorating, then letting go and celebrating are like doing cartwheels in your heart, swinging up and back again.

I so wish those dear to me could be here with me now to celebrate this time in my life, but they are not.

At this time of year with autumn really setting in, it's time to start heading in. For me the months between Valentines Day and Mothers Day are all about the heart and the home. I did this little painting a few weeks ago and now today on ANZAC Day, a day to celebrate and commemorate the sorrows of war and the bonds of friendship I want to share it with you here.

I want you to know that the door at House Heart is always open, that someone is always there, someone will listen, but maybe you need to knock on the door first.

Others blog posts in this series:

Taking time for self care
Set your heart free
City of Love
Release
Swim

Other links to The Journey of Little Big Heart can be found here.



Thursday, April 17, 2014

sketching with Flipagram



Sketching is something I love to do, but it's not always as easy to paint on location, so pre-painting pages in my sketchbook before going out has been fun. It's also brought a new look to my sketchbook. Pre-painting means I have to match the page with the scene once I'm there rather than starting with the sketch and adding colours later.

With the cooler autumn weather, it's been fun to leave the beach and head out to cafes where I've sketched my #coffeeosophy series, Brother Albert cafe in Newport, being one of them. The day I sketched here, I was thankful for the neutral brown spotted page I'd made with left over paint from the pthalo blue, orange and red I'd used when I started Sketchbook Skool

I wanted to capture the sketch as it progressed because I am not following a process, but playing, experimenting and finding new ways to create. After pre-painting and sketching on location, I used a Prismacolour sepia marker to block in the table and a Copic warm grey marker for the blackboards and cafe walls. 




For some reason I felt a desire to collage and used tissue paper to capture the texture on the concrete pot and strips of quilling paper for the timber venetian blinds (something I've had lying around for years). I added yellow and blue F+W acrylic ink for the table and leaves on the pot plant and then messed about with paint before finally adding more coloured paper for the cafe benchtops. 




After taking a few detailed shots of the sketch as I went, I wondered what the best way was to share the process apart from here on my blog. Then I remembered flipagram. It's not particularly hard, but it is time consuming. 

First you need to download the app, then you need to select the photographs you want to use. I found it useful to create a separate folder on my phone so the photos were easier to find. I also like to edit my photos to make them nice and bright so that takes a bit of time too. 

Once all your photos are ready, it's very easy to load then to flipagram. You can add a title in a variety of fonts and either your own or music you download music via the app. For a small one off fee you can create a watermark that sits on the bottom right of all the photos, but as this was my first attempt, I was happy with their logo. Once done, the flipagram is stored to your photo library which you can share from there.

To make this flipagram I used 14 photos. You can include up to 24 photos but the more you use, the faster they flip thorough and some people have said they would have preferred it a bit slower. What do you think?




I recently made a flip movie of my sketchbook, but that was a completed sketchbook, whereas these were process shots. You can see flipagrams other artists have made by using the hashtag #flipagramart on Instagram

Have you ever made a flipagram? Any tips you'd like to share? 





Saturday, April 12, 2014

I started Sketchbook Skool!



Starting a new ecourse always takes a bit of life rearranging but I have been looking forward to Sketchbook Skool for a while. I first met Koosje Koene in Creative Courage some years ago and then I did her Just Draw It class which I enjoyed very much. I have not met Danny Gregory, but of what I've seen, Danny's Danny. Recently I started participated in his Everyday Matters fb group, but watching his klass videos is like watching poetry as he wanders about the page in his sketchbook capturing his world, making images and mixing words.


Before I go on I should let you know I can spell, but it's their clever branding that turns English into Dutch, with Skool and Klass and Fakulty. Sketchbook Skool runs for six weeks and each week we have a different teacher. Needless to say I was a bit apprehensive because it's enough to learn the ropes of a course, let alone a new teachers style each week.


So far, so good. I downloaded the first weeks klass from the course Ruzuku site (which I've never used before) and managed to glean most of it in one weekend sitting. I had to go back over the main three klass videos but I very quickly got the gist of what Danny was teaching. A total beginner might be a bit slower and a more advanced artist a little faster, but everything is clearly labeled, well paced and very encouraging.


I don't know how good I am going to be at sticking to klass assignments. I'm getting too old and too naughty, but rather than muck up in klass I've been playing in my journal which is a Stillman & Birn Alpha A5. So far I've been using Atelier Free Flow Acrylics rather than gouache, some Caran d'Ache watercolour pencils and of course my Lamy Safari fountain pen, although after seeing Danny work with dip pens I'm tempted to try other wider, more flexible, calligraphy pens or simply ditch the pens and start drawing with a brush, splattering as I go.


After sketching one of our bookshelves, I went down to the cafe. This time on some pre-painted pages in my sketchbook. It's not something Danny specifically suggested, but something he did in a video inspired me to try it. I painted one page but liked it too much as a painting, so started another. I quite like doing this as I'm super ready for colour having worked for months in B+W. I'm also super keen for a more painterly approach.


Painting lavishly in a sketchbook with acrylic paint is relatively new to me. I suppose I'm more familiar with drawing and adding watercolour or painting the odd page and reserving painting for a canvas. Whilst I love to write and I love to draw I'm not as familiar with putting text on a drawing, or mixing drawing with text so this will be something to explore.


Back at the same caf├ęs where I sketched my #coffeeosophy series, I drew table scenes and wrote my thoughts. Once home I finished off the colour. The orange coffee cup stands out well on the blue, but the tones were all a bit too mid-range, so I tried to lighten the table with light grey and white watercolour pencil. I don't have a white charcoal pencil and visiting the art shop is a little beyond me and my wallet right now, so I'm making do and enjoying the experiments restriction makes me do. 

What's that line?
Necessity is the mother of invention!  
I think I'm going to enjoy this course. I'm not out to make a pretty sketchbook or tell a story like I did in my Sketchbook Project 2013. Instead I simply want to learn new ways to create, meet people who love doing what I do and loosen up my art. By all means join me on Instagram, Twitter, Flickr or Facebook as I do my best to post updates as I go. 

By week's end I had run out of prepainted pages, so I was back using black and white. I moved off the beach, out of the cafe and into my local village, sketching everydays scenes. The way it's going, it's going to be a fun six weeks.


Are you signed up for Sketchbook Skool? Love to know if you are. With nearly 1500 students it's hard to keep track, so if you pop a little "hello" in the comments below, I'll be sure to keep an eye out for you in klass.



Monday, April 7, 2014

The Importance of Play



There's something special about turning 50. It's one of those big 0 birthdays, when friends make a special effort to connect. I have been lucky recently to catch up with some very old friends, not only old like me but friends who go way back. Back to when playing was not a silly thing.

Back then play was our way of exploring the world. Play was how you made your mark, how you interacted. Play was how you met other kids. Back then no one cared if we played in the park, in the dark, at the beach or in the street. We weren't stuck in our rooms interacting with machines. On rainy days, cards, puzzles, board games might have been involved, but usually it was physical, outdoors with groups or with one. Whatever it was, it was fun!


It's not easy to keep playing when you have your own kids. Sure you can play with them but as the parent it's like you're always the sensible kid, the one who sets the rules or calls "game over". You're the party pooper who stops others playing for the sake of a tidy lounge, for the sake of the dinner bell, homework or the next job to be done. 

Now my girls have both left school it's up to them to do their homework, it's up to them to tidy their rooms, it's up to them to pay some of their bills. They go to work, they go out and they need to find their own balance of work, study, rest and play. So it's time for me to do the same! 

Julia Cameron's The Artist Way was the first time I'd heard the term "Artist Date" and the importance of allowing play into our lives. It actually helps us create. 



Recently I went to the gallery with my old high school friend, had a play day at the beach with another friend taking silly photos. Another day I climbed up the lighthouse with an online friend visiting from overseas and waved another county's flag so our mutual online friends from there could wave back.

In my life as a Landscape Architect I designed several playgrounds, safe spaces for children to explore and play. Recently I've begun creating a few online groups for no particular purpose other than to let creative women meet and play. All harmless fun that brings humour back, brings movement back, brings frivolity and creative chaos. New ways of being, new ways of thinking, new ways of seeing, and maybe new ways of making art.



When I studied Children's Book Illustration they explained that each of us has an "essential age" an age in our childhood when life was really fun. Apparently that's the age we are most adept at writing or illustrating for. They also suggested taking breaks from the creative table, getting out and about, physically playing and doing things kids that age like to do.

Recently I've also enjoyed reading Leunig's Holy Fool:


It's a couple more weeks until my actual birthday, but if it keeps going this way, keeps allowing me to play, I am going to enjoy turning 50. So far it feels like being 5 again!

How old are you? What's your "essential age?" Like to come and play? Come and make art? In an online playground near you? If you want to, I'll see if I can link you to a group that suits you, otherwise, lets create one of our own! … Yes! Yes! We have Permission to Play! Permission to make making art fun!

Hope you enjoyed this post! I certainly had fun creating it. Thank you for stopping by.