Friday, 11 January 2013

1000 words for Summer - be ready!

“Be Ready!” is the call of alarm that goes out at this time of year.

Be Ready! for the chaos that may descend to engulf, flood or shatter, striking you to your knees, to your core. Be Ready! is what they say about bushfires, floods and cyclones that hit this country each summer. Summer storms of rain, wind or fire. What would you include in your vessel for safekeeping as you flee from your home? What would you take in your back pack through to the next shore?

Be Ready! is also what they say in the arts. Be ready! for when work comes your way, the sun has come and it’s time to make hay. It's certainly what Elizabeth Gilbert tells us in her great TED Talk

I wonder sometimes if our culture is addicted to drama. Our heros wear uniforms and come to our need. Hundreds volunteering each year, doing amazing deeds. Saving us from nature. Where does this come from? Is it part of our past? Is it a ploy to get us off the beach, back to work? Or is it that it shows something special about us?

My Sketchbook Project sketchbook arrived on the Summer full moon, creating a whirlwind of it’s own. A mixture of excitement, possibility and chaos ensued. Plenty of fear of how things would turn out. The “what ifs” and “what abouts” and “would it be good enoughs”. The heat was on as the deadline loomed. Just two weeks to get thirty pages filled and postmarked back to New York. I had projects to run, classes to begin, emails to send out, blog posts to write. Online everyone was celebrating, picking words for the New Year and at home my family was still in holiday mode.

Was I ready? I was as ready as I could be, for I have followed this project and other projects like it for years and even tried some of my own. Whilst rushing is not my preferred style, I know there are times when you just have to jump in, step up, unprepared with no time to spare. These projects bring out the best in us, the best we can be at the time. Maybe this is why we like the drama, it makes us reach out, dig deep and challenges us to the core, helps us select what we need for this vessel to take us to the next shore.

I cannot imagine what a firestorm might be like, I cannot imagine floating on my roof or hiding in buildings hearing winds screaming through trees, ripping metal to bits, but I did emigrate as a young child, packing and leaving much behind. Sometimes I am thankful that I live on the edge of a big city, when nature and the land have it’s way. But even here, trees have fallen on our house. I have camped by a river that rose an inch a minute for two hours and two Summers ago my brother died in a fall hiking. Are we ever prepared for such things? How can we Be Ready?

With such little time, I took my sketchbook down to the shore and drew what I saw. What was happening around me and in the process I discovered I’d been preparing for this moment for years. Sketching, drawing from life, little vignettes de la vie, stories I saw, jumping ahead a few pages, running back, trying different techniques to colour the flimsy pages, improvising all the way, adding bits here and letting other bits go, diving in and stepping back, seeing it as a whole.

What makes a Sketchbook good enough? Who get’s to decide these things? Does it even matter? I paid for this experience and I dedicated a week of my life to it. What matters is I did it and it’s done and it’s what I did. So as I move it from one envelope to another, to return it back to where it came from, I am finding it hard to say goodbye. I don’t like parting with my art, it’s part of my heart. It’s brought out the best in me for a few weeks. But everything is matter and it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks. What I learnt in the mountains of Tassie this Summer is it’s never really finished, it’s just moving on to it’s next shore.

Many have lost everything, gone forever in Summer’s storms over the years. These people wear a badge of honour, a secret inner knowing of what they are capable of, something they share with others who’ve done it as well. They have been challenged to the core. My sketchbook was a far simple challenge, but it’s challenged me and I wear a badge of honour I share with others who’ve done it as well. Some of those others offered the kindest support in the midst of it, adding comments here or there online, spurring me on. Thanks to everyone, especially Jodi messaging me to see if I was done. Others may have watched and learnt for when it’s their turn, for that’s how it is when we help one another, volunteering in times of need, lending a helping hand, showing how it’s done. Not because we have to, but because we want to. That’s what we love in our heros. That’s what we can love in ourselves.

Through it all I have grown. In one week I got to experience more, see more, hear more, taste more, feel the air more, smell smells not smelt before, do more, think more, know more. I have found out what I am capable of. My bags will never be completely packed, my house may never totally be in order, but I have learnt that I can be ready.

Interestingly, intriguingly the morning I wrote this and still when I was feeling a little sad about posting it off, a parcel arrived from Yvonne. Posted just before Christmas from far across the globe, from her shore, landing on my shore. That’s it!, I thought. I am not opening hers until I post mine. I can’t wait to see what it is. So it’s posted, it's done, it's in the post from my shore to their shore and I am sure it’s what must be done. For it’s all matter and it does matter, but what matters most is that we do it, that we turn up, ready for work, ready to do our very best, to be there, to do it, and to do this we must ... Be Ready!

If you're ready to participate in my 1000 words for Summer project, you can add your words, photos or links to your blogs about Summer in the comments below, to the Facebook event page or the Group Pinterest Board. Or pick up someone else's words and create something of your own, or come along to art classes and I'll show you how. It's not as big or prestigious or as streamlined as The Sketchbook Project and it's hopefully it's not nearly as scary as a Summer storm. There's nothing to lose, but much to share and to gain, and hopefully it's a lot of fun. Something to enjoy at this time of year. 

I snatched a moment of time and created a whole new series of illustrations for this blog, then Illustration Friday announced it's theme for the week was "Ocean" and I could not resist a Project Trifecta so I entered the first image in this blog which you can see here.

UPDATE: In April 2013 my sketchbook was uploaded onto the Sketchbook Project Digital library and has the Brooklyn Library call number 193.103-3 you can view the sketchbook here

To read other blog posts in 1000 words for Summer Year 4, please use these links:

12.1000 words for Summer - summer wrap

To see what's happened in previous years, please click here.


Art by Wiley said...

Congratulations on finishing and posting off! Wow, what a mammoth effort you put in. That is truly inspiring!!! Well done :) (Thanks for the mention too, very sweet ;) x

Yvonne said...

Oh wow - you DID it!!! That is SO - yes, what Jodi said :) - inspiring!!! Others may have been off writing about their words for the year, but you put it all into the action, and my personal experience says - WOW! You hit the ground running in 2013, and that could very well set you up with Intention for the rest of the year! Did I mention I'm completely impressed with your enormous effort? I am!

I love how you tie it all in - being ready and getting things done - the gaping hole between the two and how we can fill it if we stop waiting for things to be just 'so' - how sometimes we're just forced to jump through circumstances, and the energy that comes from 'I wasn't ready, but I pulled it off anyway!' Beautiful post on flow - creative and otherwise, at leaast that's how it comes off the screen this side. Coincidental, all that Flow ;) Hope you opened my mail yet :) It's meant to inspire in light ways, the way you inspired and inspire me - oppositely - to go deeper :)

suzi poland said...

Well thank you Jodi and great to see you got yours off too. I am super impressed your paint tubes made it to the limited edition, that's fantastic. I can't wait to see what's inside yours when you get time to reveal all. I am in the process of creating a way to present the sketchbook on the blog. Maybe a slideshow if I get a chance.

suzi poland said...

Thank you Yvonne, I have to say this was not an easy task or an easy post to write so I am glad you liked it. Yes absolutely I opened the envelope, it was such a delight. Flowing full of papery goodness from your part of the world. I love that it's the first English edition, and I really like the byline "Flow - the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams" how beautiful is that. It feels like it's going to be a great year.

nini said...

O wow! WOW! Wow indeed! And bravo too!

It's so... yes, .... it's really inspiring what you did. You did in one week what most of us did in months and you enjoyed every minute of it and it'll show in your work and I only wish I'd be able to see your little book in real life, to be able to hold it and feel it's energy for it's there and it's a great one.

I took mine to the post office yesterday too, it was almost midnight when I post it but I wanted to send it off as soon as possible. And then I celebrated my achievement with a glass of wine :)

suzi poland said...

Too lovely Nini, I am so glad to be with you on this. I am sure yours will be beautiful and I can't wait to see it. I too would love to hold yours. Maybe we all need to meet one day in New York!!! :D

sandyk said...

I love this Suzi. Actually struck a cord on so many levels ! Our global ability to share horrific experiences ( not only weather / disaster experiences ), think twin tower ....The compassion that goes out to our fellow human beings and the people who risk their lives for us and the ones who offer up shelter and belongings to those in need.
We don't often meet these people and their lives unfold in front of us on TV or on our computer screen.
And I love the sketch book story. I have such a hard time parting with some of my work too ! I used to make little jointed teddy bears, but felt like Geppetto when it was time to part with them. I would name them and cloth them and oh my word I felt like I was giving up one of my children.
You've inspired me to explore sketchbook .:)
I know ' be ready ' is 2 words, but it sure could be my word for this year.

suzi poland said...

I snuck some time and completely redid the images on this post the photographs were too realistic and so with huge gratitude to you, here are the updated ones.

suzi poland said...

Thank you Sandy, you are so right that we don't meet our heroes, their uniform, is just that to keep them a uniform hero, but they are such special people. Although I wish we never needed them, I too am so grateful for what they do. I love the thought of you as Geppetto! I do hope you explore the sketchbook idea this year with your words Be Ready! Please pop a link here to any posts you write if you do. Happy creating this year!

nini said...

Aaaaah... that's an awsome idea! To meet in NY would be just insanely good and o boy the possibilities for creating while there would be tremendous! I'm thinking we'd have to wait for our sketchbooks to return to NY from all their touring but we could very much start planning the trip for 2014 :) hm hmmmm....

Koosje Koene said...

Woohoo! You did it! I love this post, every word of it. I have to say - I recognize that feeling of everyone being in a different 'vibe', and you still going strong and determined to get it done, like a steam engine. Well done!! And what a treat, to receive the first English version of the beautiful magazine Flow, too! What a delightful present from Yvonne.
I hope you will treat yourself for your achievement, even if it's just a 30 minutes retreat, with your feet in the water and your head in the shade, doing... nothing.

Amna Mehwish Art and Illustrations said...

Dear Suzi, I love reading your blog, every single post :) this time you have again touched my heart with your gentle & honest words.
I am so happy for you & I knew you would do a great job. And trust me there's something magical about all sketchbooks :) no sketchbook is bad, not even the incomplete ones! They all have this mystery and enigma about them regardless of the artist's level of skill, craftmanship, medium or materials. And you my friend are a talented artist :)
I am visualising our sketchbooks together in Brooklyn, sharing our secrets, struggles, triumphs and joys :)
Lots of love xo

suzi poland said...

Ahh Koosje, Thanks for your lovely kind compliments, you certainly were an inspiration to apply to this project. Off for a dip!! You will love my next post! :D

suzi poland said...

Amna, you are so very kind, thank you. Aww what you say is so special. I have so many sketchbooks going back to way back when. It wasn't easy giving this one up, but I am so glad of the connections it has brought and yes, all catching up in NY would be such fun!! :D