Tuesday 21 November 2017

Fake News & Muddling Through

Sorry not to get back to you sooner but tradition dictates that I communicate sporadically.

I, in all my wisdom, have learnt something about myself this year. It’s not a huge revelation. I have been aware of it for quite some time and have tried many and various ways to improve or ignore it.

I am not good at sticking to a self-imposed schedule. No matter how hard I try, it’s like my brain knows that it’s 'fake news' and therefore negotiable, and I’m not just talking sometimes negotiable, I’m talking ALL the time negotiable.

Take blogging for example. I have decided that blogging for me is like making a New Years Resolution. I start strong but fade after a few brave attempts. Or keeping a diary, I have so many half full diaries. They all make it to about May and then they fizzle. When I was younger I would promise myself that I would stay organised and go to bed early (actually I still do this - so it's not really age related). But, do you know what the worst part is? I feel guilty for not being better at keeping all my self made promises to me, and yes, I do understand that’s ridiculous.

I truly would like to be the best me I can and not waste my time deciding whether to work on my portfolio, hang out a load of laundry, sweep the floor, paint a cat, work on a Children’s Book Manuscript, make a quick check of Facebook, or Instagram (which we all know to be impossible because they create their own time vortex), or clean poop out of the bunny hutch.

I have tried making timetables, and ‘to-do’ lists, all with the best intentions but life just doesn’t fit into my well-organised, colour coded, sticky noted, highlighted, tick a box ideal. I can’t even blame other people for interrupting my ‘oh so important’ plans. I know this because when it comes to doing things for others I am very capable of delivering what they need within the time parameters they set.  

I guess, what I am learning to accept about myself, is I am a muddler! I muddle through each day (with all life's ups and downs) and somehow most of what needs to be done, gets done. And if it’s an artwork or illustration it’s done to the best of my ability, because that’s what I’m good at. That’s the thing I love most in the world. I am also very good at procrastinating by keeping the company of books and buying stationery, to make my ‘intentions' as pretty as can be, while I stand in the pantry greedily devouring chocolate freckles. So to all my fellow muddlers - I salute you. Now, what can I tick off the list next? Oh, that's right. There really is a hutch that needs the poop removed. 

Tuesday 19 September 2017

Failures, typos and discovering I may have a few too many pencil cases.

During the week I failed to type "Thursday" correctly. Instead Thursday became "Thrudsay" and hilarity ensued. Resulting in an illustration of Queen Thrud and her Caveman love - and yes that is a 'turd' on her head serving as her crown due to a friend misreading my typo.
Queen Thrud
Prior to completing Queen Thrud I spent the week cleaning my studio - thanks to the ever inspiring Tania McCartney who posted a lovely blog about her studio spring clean. Mine was more like a spring overhaul. You know. . . turning a small mess into a bigger mess in order to achieve some semblance of order (in the process I discovered I may have an unhealthy obsession with pencil cases).

I also bravely shared a photo to my Facebook page of my mess during the tidy up. Truth be told, it was not a photo of the true mess but a partway-through-said-overhaul-photo that I was a little more comfortable sharing. Which made me question why am I embarrassed by my failure to maintain a perfectly clean studio 100% of the time? Why do I feel the need to live up to some unspoken rule about the way I should maintain my work space? Is it because I have been conditioned by society to expect nothing less than perfection from myself and those around me? So I am declaring I will allow myself to relish my failures. I will allow myself to fail and fail happily. To shrug my shoulders, admit it's not working, dust myself off and try again. So what if I make a mistake. We are taught to feel guilt, and shame, and remorse (which is fair enough if what you've done has a direct negative repercussion of huge proportions on other members of society) but what if you made a mistake that effects only you? Why is it not okay to say 'I failed, this obviously wasn't the best idea - lets try it another way and see if that succeeds'. If the saying goes 'we learn from our mistakes' why do we not celebrate these lessons learnt in moments of failure. As I tell my art students: There is no FAIL - only a First Attempt In Learning. And if I hadn't failed to type Thursday correctly Queen Thrud would not exist and the world would be a sadder place because of perfection.

I wonder what you call a collection of pencil cases?

Tuesday 12 September 2017

Books and Storage (and not enough of either)

Just a few favourites

I am writing this from a position of privilege. My house is full of books! Cases with books stacked in stacks. The shelves no longer capable of displaying them neatly with their spines all in a row, neatly arranged by colour and size. All sorts of books. Books about fairytales, adventure stories, whimsical picture books. Soulful, gut wrenching, heartbreaking, life lessons. Mysteries, magic, murder. Classic tales retold. Books that I have read and read again. I very rarely part with a book once I've read it, and I must admit I am not a book lender. I am a great believer in re-reading books at different stages throughout life. It reveals a lot about how the heart grows and opinions change. I think writers are magicians. The way they create whole worlds of other thinking, feeling beings for us to learn from, criticise and fall in love with astounds me. Pages and pages of words all interlocking to create meaning and, in a way, life. I was never particularly social at school and I delighted in filling up my library card but nothing can truly explain the joy I feel when I buy a book to add to my ever growing trove. I am fickle, I do like a good cover but ultimately the deciding factor is the voice of the story itself. I always flip through a book randomly before purchasing and read the first paragraph on whatever page happens to open before me. If that holds my attention then it belongs to me. I very rudely and very rarely read a book based on a recommendation. There are three exceptions to that rule. The first are two books that were my Mother's and it wasn't so much a recommendation but that I grew up with them and they grew me. The third is a book gifted to me by my Mother-in-law. 

The first is 'The Little Green Road To Fairy Land' by Author and Illustrator Ida Rental Outhwaite. A tale of a fairy who decides to become a human girl to heal a mothers broken heart. 

The second is 'The Golden Book of Fairy Tales' Translated by Marie Ponsot and Illustrated by Adrienne Segur. A classic compendium of traditional stories from Russia, Germany, France, and Japan. 

And finally - one of the most precious books I have ever read - 'The Lady of the Chimney Corner' by Alexander Irvine. As the author so eloquently writes in his foreword 

"This book is the torn manuscript of the most beautiful life I ever knew. I
 have merely pieced and patched it together, and hove not even changed
 or disguised the names of the little group of neighbours who lived with us, 
at "the bottom of the world". 

I adore books and hope in the future to have one sitting amongst my shelves that I have written. One to join the chaos of our small house with shelves that are full to bursting with books just waiting to tell me their story one more time. 

Tuesday 29 August 2017

The Theory of Chocolate Freckles and Making Wishes.

If a chocolate freckle has no 'freckles' can it still be a chocolate freckle? Surely this is a question that has plagued great minds through the ages concerning many varied objects, places, and people. The same query arises about wishes.
Nudie Chocolate Freckle
Do you have to wish on a real star for your wish to come true? I wish on most things that happen to take my fancy. A little while ago I ordered a 'gift-to-self' as a reminder that I am working towards the long term goal of becoming a writer and illustrator. I ordered this little gift for the reason it had a star on it, stars are very significant in our family (not the horoscope kind) it's my Mum's name, and I distinctly remember being taught under an inky sky the rhyme 'Star light, Star bright. First star I see tonight. I wish I may. I wish I might have the wish I wish tonight'.

Owl Pin create by Jess Rackyleft
The wonderfully talented artist and illustrator who created this wondrous tiny owl pin (and who has also illustrated numerous beautiful books) is Jess Racklyeft. This little piece of gorgeous serendipitously arrived in the post on the day that I started 'Scribbles', a writing course with Australian author Jen Storer. It represents so many wishes I have for the future. But more than a wish, it's a reminder that rarely do wishes come true without a lot of hard work and persistence. So I will say 'Damn the critics' and 'Aim for bravery'.

Back to the chocolate freckle. Ultimately it's all chocolate - sweet and nourishing. If a freckle without freckles wants to be a freckle then surely that's okay. Just the same as a writer and illustrator who is yet to be published, can work towards becoming a writer and illustrator that is.

You can learn more about Jess Rackyleft's work and Jen Storer's writing course by following the links in the text above.

Tuesday 11 July 2017

One Minute To Midnight

Tuesday's Blessings:
Sometimes I desperately need peace and quiet. They are two of my very best friends. I adore painting in silence to the steady tick of the second-hand as midnight approaches. It's a bizarre thing because when I try to sleep the ticking of our clock nearly drives me bonkers but when I am content, and my family are safe and sleeping (and all is right within my corner of the world), I find it ridiculously calming. So that is my blessing. I am trying hard not to wish the school holidays away because I can't wait to spend time on my own to draw and paint and focus on writing too.
There will be time enough for that. For the next few days I am going to desperately soak up every single moment I have with my family as every increment of time ticks relentlessly by. I will try to be like a little sloth and savour every second.
The Sloth Who Came To Stay - Margaret Wild & Vivienne To

Tuesday 20 June 2017

Tuesday's Blessings

Blessing 1: When life gets tangled but there are people who care enough to check that you're okay and 'untangle your hair from the wool'.

Tuesday 13 June 2017

Tuesday's Blessings

Blessing 1: When you can simply be a heart that hears when others need to talk.
Blessing 2: Realising you are raising a gracious child who has a view of the world that doesn't solely revolve around themselves (I missed an awards assembly today - clean forgot after being at eisteddfods all weekend! The exact same thing happened last year. This year however showed the level of maturity that can develop in twelve months. This time I was the one in tears).
Blessing 3: When you 'meet' amazing people who share amazing posts about even amazing'er illustrators and the way they work. And, you are able to directly put into practice what you learnt!
Blessing 4: Seeing an image in your head emerge on paper - it is still magic to me every time.
Blessing 5: Finding your glasses! (Just ignore the fact that I have already misplaced them *chuckle)

Rain on the green grass
Character mapping completed before the final artwork

Tuesday 6 June 2017

Tuesday's Blessings

Blessing 1: The generosity of kindred spirits.
Blessing 2: How much richer world is when people seek to share love and peace.
Blessing 3: The absoluteness of pure JOY when you least expect it.
Blessing 4: The blessing that is the perfection of timing.
Blessing 5: Jane, who sent me this gift having no idea when she sent it that it would arrive at the perfect moment and elicit the most heartfelt gratitude.

Thank You Jane x x x 

Coco Chocolate Artisan Organic FRECKLES!!!!

Tuesday 30 May 2017

Tuesday's Blessings

Blessing 1: Spending quality time with people who hold a special place in my heart.
Blessing 2: The kindness and thoughtfulness of others. Thank you Suzy Haughton I truly adore my Chocolate Freckle print!
You can see more of Suzy's gorgeous work here: www.suzannehoughton.com.au
Suzy Haughton
Blessing 3: Putting what you learn into practice - Yay, gold star for me!
Blessing 4: Realising that you still have so much to learn (especially when it comes to checking the mobile view of your website, and editing your blog before hitting publish and announcing it to the world - face palm)
Blessing 5: Taking time to re-group, re-focus, slow down, clean your house (out of necessity really), then taking another step to making your dream a reality.

Thursday 25 May 2017

Hello! Thursday is a good day to start something new

And so it begins. . . Another step closer to taking a dusty dream off the shelf. The studio has not been tidied, nor the washing hidden in draws. There has however, been progress made towards becoming an illustrator and writer. There is now a blog to go with the overhauled website.
It's certainly an adventure!