Hello there you! Here you will find stuff about living a creative life in country Australia. I am an illustrator who also creates, takes photos, faffs, teaches & hosts workshops. Watercolour, collage, colour, cheese, salads, travel, collecting, & dreaming make me ridiculously happy. And gardening. And op-shops. And art supplies. And the word serendipity. And you reading this. Oh and so you know, all the art & photos you see on here are done by me!

Thursday, 12 July 2018

A Raw Mess - living and loving better.


A Raw Mess


A beautiful mess    digital photograph

When Miss 11 had her birthday at the end of last year, she got a kitten. Yes, my husband almost divorced me over this. He does not particularly like cats, and 4 was really too close to crazy old cat woman for his liking. 

However Miss 11 agreed to nothing else being given to her, and she spent all her birthday money on this new addition. She surprised me by choosing the runt of the litter that was not terribly pretty. All google eyes and ratlike actually. 

The kitten came home, and was the most loved kitten I have ever known. Suki Bonbon spent the next 6 weeks of the holidays being carried everywhere, and that kitten loved it. She snuggled into Miss 11's shoulder, slept peacefully and soundly. She snuggled into her lap, her neck, her face. She was a shadow to my daughter, following her everywhere.

The love went both ways too. From the moment Miss 11 woke up, till when she went to bed, the kitten was the first and last thing she thought of. 

They bonded strongly - the rescued abandoned runty kitten and my sweet daughter. It was 6 months of kitten bliss. 

You can surmise what happened. One dusk poor Suki Bonbon was killed by a car. My other daughter and my husband found her in front of our house, managing to get her off the road before more cars made it worse. It fell to me to go and tell Miss 11 what had just happened. She began shaking, shaking so much. She went into shock. Cold and crying, she fell totally apart. She came out and patted Suki, and said goodbye, took a clipping of her fur. She wept and howled, and clung to me. 

The next few days the sadness was so intense, I ached with pain watching her trying to make sense of it. We had a funeral, made a memory box, talked and talked. We held her close as she sobbed. I found her lying curled up in a ball in her bed, quietly crying and heaving with grief. She was truly heartbroken. It was not for effect, it was true deep emotional pain. 

It is a few weeks later now, and we are still having times when she wakes up in floods of tears, and comes to our bed to cuddle and hold onto me. The pain is raw and real. The eloquence she has with describing the pain in her heart is so beautiful, but so terrible to hear. She has been a raw mess.

It is her first close experience of a sudden death. Or any death really. Her great grandparents have passed away, and she loved them, but accepted that they had died after long lives. I wrote about this loss, and its effect, when it happened.

The furl   digital photograph

Suki's passing though has meant that death has been a topic of discussion, about what it means, and how we deal with it. About how it happens all the time, but we don't actually talk about it much. About the experience and feeling of loss, emptiness. Of imagined times snatched away.

I do not mean to be flippant, but it has made me realise that if this is what happens when a pet dies, then the impact of a close family member dying must be too intense to comprehend. Then I pushed that thought away, because it was way too uncomfortable to let these ideas linger. I chose to distract myself with other things. 
  
Meanwhile, life continued on. Until I get a phone call saying a friend had passed away. Again, I was thinking about loss, and grief. After the shock of hearing this, though still numb, I posted a little thing on Facebook, about appreciating every moment we have, about the importance of making memories with those we love. 

Just as I  managed to hold back my tears, a lady I knew in my younger days, when we were footloose, fancy, silly, a little bit wild, and life lay out before us... someone I'd always thought was cool and funny and quite feisty, wrote a comment on my post. The tears fell again. Perspective, my friends.

This lady is amazing. She is a creative, who also writes beautifully. She is a force to be reckoned with. Cancer did not know who it was messing with when it came calling. This beautiful lady, who tells the story of living with terminal cancer with a directness, rawness, beauty and straight to the marrow and punch hard, she wrote something so sensible that I messaged her, asking if I could share it. So important. Powerful. 

She said yes. I am so grateful. Because after you read this, I want you to think about it. Even if it is uncomfortable. Let it linger. Let these words brew and sit with you. 

This is what she wrote:


Queenstown angel   digital photograph


Living with death is a very different perspective. It can enrich everything.

Twist your thoughts and emotions like a pretzel. And the agony of loss is without description. 


Loss of experiences with your child. Opportunities to watch them grow, love, travel, have heartache, graduate, have children and the rest. And it makes some tiny day to day things heart breaking when they normally needn’t be. 



It’s a raw mess really. 

But it’s our own mess. Unique to each of us. The big answer that I have stumbled on within it all is time. The richest gift to give anyone is your time.

Not everyone will give it to you. You won’t always decide to give it either. And somewhere in there we make our mark on peoples lives. In ways we will never fully realise. That’s the kicker. We really need to talk about death more. It helps us all to live and love better. 

Flower head - blooming with life   mixed media




Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Being a Creative Mumma

Being a Creative Mumma

 Beautiful( my daughter, I love you so)   collage

Recently I was asked how on earth I manage being a parent with also being a creative. Boy, did it make me think. So this is what I thought about, and the conclusions I came to.
 

My first child was born the same week I started my second degree, teaching, by distance education. My first degree had been Visual Arts, no surprise really as I had always identified as a creative arty farty person. But then this tiny baby arrived, and I had a new identity - Mother, and parent. And suddenly I was also a student again.

The time and energy to create high art evaporated completely, but the need to create still puckered me up at my edges. 


So my approach to creativity changed, and became more practical. I gardened, and my new palette was now flowers and foliage inevitably with a baby and toddler helping me, on my hip or next to me.  



Where Have I Gone to ?   collage

My canvas was now my home as I nested and decorated, made cubby houses and hung art everywhere. I wanted to fill our world with images and colour!

I occasionally brought out the paints and together my growing little family splatted and slopped and dabbed and made interesting  artworks on newspaper, boxes, fabric etc. 

Then at night I would paint my own small, modest things on the kitchen table, always things that were easily packed up. And eventually beautiful photos of my kids were not the only images on my rolls of film, but arty-farty, conceptual things began to appear again.

Gradually, slowly, eventually I started to put artwork in group exhibitions and even entered the local show. I read arty cool magazines and went to galleries, dragging my family with me, using these excursions as opportunities to show the kids cool stuff.


I kept my finger in a lukewarm creative pie, and stuck their pudgy little fingers in it too.

But then something dramatic happened in my life, that stopped me in my tracks. This event made me realise something. The path I thought I was going to walk on, a full time teacher, was not for me. Or I would never be content and fulfilled... and instead I would be a miserable mother and a woeful wife.



Harnessing her superpowers was a lovely thing   collage


To be happy I had to take another path, one with no real destination, no real sure steps, and lots of twists and turns and fiscally unsure. A path thats real reward was going to be the journey itself. I decided to become an artist. To live a truly creative life again. I was petrified. And excited. (My beautiful husband was aghast but supportive!)

And even though it was REALLY terrifying, the thing that gave me the biggest PUSH to do it? That stopped me from from giving up, and still does? It was the hope that I could inspire my children.


It was the thought that I could show my kids that there is a choice to live like this. To make them proud of what I could achieve. To model to them that passion and hard work and being creative is a choice, a real one.


Today, nothing makes me prouder than hearing them boasting to their friends about what I do. Than knowing the reason we are on a holiday is because I am hosting a workshop there and this gives us this opportunity as a family to have new experiences. 



Going on a journey   collage

I am like a kid at show and tell when I take them to my new exhibition, or show them some art I did in a book, magazine or a poster. 

I love having my kids sit in my studio with me, creating, even if it means my art supplies get filched. 

Nothing is better than hearing them talk about how when we go to Paris in a few months that they cannot wait to go to the Louvre, and the Musee D'Orsay. 

I know then that I made the right choice. 


The Compass   collage

And I am not lying when I say that it is their faith in me, their love, their support, that keeps me striving to live creatively, in as many ways as I can. They are the compass that points me in the right direction.


So now I am a mother and also a working creative.


These identities co-exist together and feed off each other, never seperate always intertwined. Just as they should be.I also still teach a few days a week, because I worked bloody hard to get that teaching degree. It is a juggle. And I am knackered! I really am. It is a hard gig. But my heart knows it is happy.


 With heart   collage