Ooh I forgot I had a blog!

Well hello!

I dropped completely off the radar there for a while – okay much longer than a while – but it seems I finally found the urge to blog again. It’s also interesting to realise all my blogging enthusiasm was around this time last year too.

Though I laid the foundations in November 2014 I didn’t start posting regularly until late February 2015.

And though I haven’t been blogging I have been observing my creativity and discovered it has seasons.

For the past few months I have had nothing to do with drawing/painting and completely dropped out of all social media. But for good reason.

I started writing a book.

Six actually.

I read so many Jack Reacher novels last year I was overcome with the urge to write a thriller novel and threw myself into the challenge.

“I’m doing this no matter how long it takes,” I told anyone who would listen.

And I wrote more than 60,000 words.

Trouble is I kept re-starting. So instead of a 60,000 word novel (would only have to do 30,000 more for a decent first draft) I have the first few chapters of six variations of the same thing.

Turns out it’s actually really hard to write a book and I have no idea where to go from here.

But the good news is I’m completely fine with that. It’s everyone else that has the problem.

My husband and my mum both bet their retirement on my phenomenal success as a published author while I was just trying to have some fun.

What is wrong with people?

“I’m allowed to be shit at this!” I want to scream at them. “I’m just being creative, stop putting me under so much pressure.”

But I guess that’s how I got all blocked up in the first place.

So I’m blocking out their words instead of my own creativity and finding that life is quite wonderful just as it is.

Thought I’d finish with something I saw on Pinterest:

The Creative Process

  1. This is awesome
  2. This is tricky
  3. This is crap
  4. I am crap
  5. This might be OK
  6. This is awesome.

 

Starting again

I have fallen in love with painting again after more than 20 years.

When I was at college studying business I got bored and would skip classes to stay at home and paint. I spent months painting anything that stood still long enough and I didn’t buy a single present for anyone that Christmas – I gave away painted plant pots, watering cans, cookie jars and even made and painted a papier mache jukebox! In our little rented farm house in the south of England I found my creativity and would fantasise about painting for a living.

Unfortunately life got in the way and I was promptly asked to leave my course for serious non-attendance!

Suddenly I had to get a job. I scoured the local paper for a job that looked half interesting and became an editorial assistant for a magazine publisher. My dreams of painting, and even getting past the beginning stages, were forgotten.

Three years later we emigrated to Australia and my publishing career came to an abrupt end too.

Years of administration followed and when I was approaching 40 and feeling dissatisfied I decided to finish what I had started all those years ago. I went back into publishing, becoming a cadet journalist at the age of 39.

What I had completely forgotten was that painting was my first love.

Somehow I had lost the memory of what it felt like to paint. To sit so still and silently and bring a plain something to life with colour and joy.

This little journey of mine to fill a day a week with creativity has cracked me open in a way I had not seen coming.

Sitting in my studio with paint brush in hand feels natural, joyous and even though the lines are wobbly and the paint is too thick (or too thin!) I seem at ease with the act of learning. Yes, I’m frustrated to get better and occasionally wonder how good I would be now if I had spent the past 20 years practising my art.

But I am ready to accept that I cannot get those years back, that I am starting at the very beginning again.

I’m also ready to accept that all the years in between have led me here, that whatever skills I have picked up along the way will serve me now.

I wasn’t ready then.

I still thought other people were responsible for my own happiness.

But I now know differently.

I’ve spent time in the dark place, and I’ve shed many skins.

I’m also a mother and I have little girls watching me.

And if I’ve learnt one thing about parenting it is that telling children to do something isn’t nearly as effective as showing them how.

There is purpose to everything I do now.

So I will follow my heart and if I don’t get it right the first time (or second, or fifth or 20th) it doesn’t matter.

Because as I’m slowly discovering it is never, ever, too late to start again.

Affirmation #2 I am abundant

 

I am abundant

I am abundant

As I get ready to meet my girls from the school bus I just have time to post my latest watercolour, the second in the affirmation series. Loved, loved, loved painting this even though I faced a multitude of interruptions! Still gloopy with the paint, no realistic shading and I’m yet to colour in a face but I’m starting to get a little more confident at turning up at the page.

Pure joy xx

Affirmation #1 “I am an artist”

Affirmation: "I am an artist."

Affirmation: “I am an artist.”

My lovely children are back at school and while my youngest had her first guitar lesson, I painted with her watercolours! Oh what a joyous day it was in the little sunroom at the back of our house. Now the intense heat of summer has passed I have been able to move my ever growing stationery collection back into to this gorgeous light filled room. I’ve even started calling it my ‘studio.’

Milli and the occasional guest were the only ones who used it through summer – Milli took to tipping all the recycling onto the middle of the floor and snipping away furiously until an assortment of wonderful creations emerged. Ever since I told her she was named after Milli in Milli, Jack and the Dancing Cat by Stephen Michael King we haven’t been able to stop her making things from rubbish!

As for me and my English sensitivity to heat (ok and cold) I’ve been parked at the kitchen table. As I’ve blogged before I love my kitchen table but the light in the kitchen isn’t as good as the sunroom and small people keep leaving sticky stuff everywhere. So on the weekend I cleaned up the sunroom, found some things we forgot we own and I even paid Monet a couple of dollars to help me. Surprisingly she did so without complaint.

Looking spick and span my studio has beckoned me all week and I couldn’t wait to have a day free to create something new.

I have felt increasingly called to the canvas recently, I haven’t blogged over the Easter break but if I had it would have been about painting. I want to paint. The colour, the mess, the itty bitty paint brushes.

I took the first tiny steps today with the cheap little watercolours and some watercolour paper. I wasn’t great! I have to rescue the picture with my Copic markers at one stage but I felt electrified holding the fine outline brush. I will practise using this – I had hoped to outline my picture in ink but I just couldn’t get around the curves well enough. Back to the trusty black pen for now until I get better control of the brush.

My new picture is the first in a series of affirmations I want to illustrate, I hope you like it. I’m a big fan of affirmations and the one currently scribbled on a scrap of paper on my bedside table is “My life is full of joy and laughter.”

Feeling called to the canvas? Enjoy this little video by the awesome Flora Bowley (I’m thinking of doing her e-course in June if anyone wants to join me…)

A week of doodles and some Etsy shopping

Scan 4 Scan 6

I’ve been feeling a little blocked lately.

For two weeks now I haven’t created a lovely picture — although I have doodled. I’m not sure if it is because my ‘finished’ pictures take me far longer than my attention span has to give or because life is just a little hectic right now.

If I could take a week off work and run away to a gorgeous little studio I’m sure I would create lots of finished art!

Blah, we’ve all heard that one before.

Anyway, my avoidance to be any more productive than a doodler has seen me explore some great online places.

I bought some stuff on Etsy. Oh Etsy I love you.

A friend of mine has just opened an Etsy store after thinking about it for a really long time. She’s selling her cute hand made softies here if you want to check it out (I bought Beth the flower loving cuddle monster!).

And while I visited her store I realised I haven’t been on Etsy for a while. I haven’t really been buying much stuff other than art supplies and food lately so it was a great treat to delve back into the world of handmade loveliness. One of the stores I had been wanting to visit was Frannerd – the shop of illustrator Fran Meneses. Fran is my favourite illustrator at the moment and I have been overdosing on her You Tube videos. I wish I could draw as productively as her and fill pages and pages of my journal with gorgeous illustrations like she does. All in good time, Sam, all in good time.

So anyway, I purchased some illustrated things to inspire me and also as a thank you to Fran for all the free inspiration/entertainment from her You Tube channel. I have made a more conscious decision to support independent artists and makers and Etsy is a great place to do that. I love that so many people have been able to upload pictures of their creative offerings and actually start selling to people all over the world.

On Thursday I watched some You Tube videos that were so random I can’t even remember how I linked into them. But I found myself being inspired by many words of wisdom and I doodled all the way through them instead of simply taking normal notes. That way I managed to convince myself I was flexing my creative muscles and not just wasting time online!

Scan 8Scan 7

 

Oh BTW I have been fiddling with settings and I think I broke the automatic notification thingy on the back end of the blog. If you stumble across this and wonder why you didn’t receive this post automatically it’s because I am completey clueless with WordPress stuff. Sorry…

 

 

There’s a lot you can do from your kitchen table

I’ve heard it said that interruptions bring opportunities.

This past week our home internet was down and I had only limited access to the net on my outdated mobile phone. At first I was frustrated and worried that I was letting folks down who were waiting for me to post on Facebook/blog/twitter.

But then I started to think that perhaps there was a reason for it (I’m an over thinker who finds a reason for everything) and I simply chose to sit back and see what came up for me.

Firstly, without my regular meditations (I follow guided meditations on YouTube) I was scattered and had less energy than normal.

Consequently I didn’t finish a drawing this week.

There’s a lesson in that.

Secondly, I noticed my thoughts hovered around money and time.

A lot.

Not enough time to do what I want to do, not enough money to give what I want to give. That sort of thing.

At the start of this year I wrote out a few resolutions and while one was to be more creative, another was to tithe 10 per cent of my income to causes that mattered to me.

It is nearly the end of March and I am still to set up the automatic transfer from my bank account that will ensure I save 10 per cent of my income without even noticing. I realised with regret that that money has now simply drained away.

And of course this week a couple of things came up that necessitated money for very worthy causes. I was indeed in a position to help but was it enough? For me it wasn’t.

I was frustrated with myself and disappointed too that I can’t think of a better plan to earn more.

To the little girl that needs a new body suit to protect her skin from a rare and painful condition I gave $40 – it was all I had in my purse at the time. And to the friend who has just been diagnosed with a tumour again after an inspiring first round with cancer, I simply wanted to be able to give thousands, to help ease the financial burden for this beautiful young family. But of course I couldn’t.

I could give something, but only a token gesture.

And so this morning I woke up feeling a little forlorn and questioning everything. What can I do to earn more so I can give more?

And in one of those serendipitous moments as I was scrolling through a creative blog the page simply closed. I went back in and started looking again but off it went. And then my attention was drawn to the email icon on my desktop. I checked my mail, read a quick newsletter and bam – the words “there’s a lot you can do from your kitchen table” leapt at me. My heart quickened and my mind raced – so many great businesses, so many great books and social enterprises have started at the kitchen table. And I love my kitchen table. It’s awesome and old and scarred by my children.

I want to make money. I want to give money. And I want to make a difference.

I know it, I feel it and I think my table knows it too.

And so I realise that my little creative adventures are not the whole story. There are other things I also want to do this year. It all comes back to the question – who do you want to be?

I want to be creative. I want to be generous. I want to be abundant.

So I will set up that direct debit. And I will honour my table with my presence more often even if it means staying up later and I will focus on abundance rather than lack. And above all I will be grateful for my family and their beautiful healthy bodies.

This is why I drew a double bass

bass love 4

Double bass love

 

When I was nine, the same age as my eldest daughter is now, I wanted to play the double bass. We were offered our first school music lessons that year and I remember falling madly in love with the big bass. It was huge for a nine year-old but such a gorgeous looking piece of equipment.

Unfortunately we had to audition to take the lessons. We had to stand in line and sing while a rather stern looking man walked past us listening. I was obviously quite crap, which might have had a lot to do with nerves. But the good old English education system of the 80s was not about to give me a break. I failed the audition.

No amount of wanting was going to get me behind a double bass that year.

The opportunity never came up again and apart from the recorder and a couple of saxophone lessons off a busker in an underpass, I’ve never played an instrument.

I’ve never honed my musical ear and I still can’t sing.

But it doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the beauty of many instruments, their sound and their craftsmanship.

The big bass is still one of my favourites and so to follow on from my picture ‘piano love’ I felt it quite appropriate to go with the first instrument I fell in love with – the mighty double bass.

 

Coming out of the creative closet

I was finally brave enough to come out of the creative closet on my personal Facebook account. I posted the Piano Love image and the response was amazing.

What wonderful friends I have!

Since then I have purchased the Kelly Rae Roberts Ebook ‘Flying Lessons’ and joined the Facebook group that goes with the book. Again a lovely response to my art.

Only trouble is I only had one picture to show!

I don’t get another day off that should be clear until Thursday. So amid the stickiness of my children’s juice and all the other clutter that gathers in our kitchen on the weekend, I got a couple of hours to play.

I did a quick drawing, scanned it in and then used the Wacom intuos art pad. I don’t have any professional software, just what came with the art pad but my daughter Monet and I have enjoyed colouring these little quickies:

listen to the whispers

Listen to the whispers

 

ready to bloom1

Ready to bloom

 

Creative explorer

Creative explorer

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