Friday, December 20, 2013

Time Out From The Studio for Christmas

Not in the right headspace to get my butt over to the studio. 

Like the rest of the world I have been busy focusing on pressies for birthdays and Christmas and my travel plans to catch up with family and grandkids. Then there are the end of year drinks with friends and generally getting quite caught up in the seasons madness, even though I was determined not too.

See you on the other side of Christmas...and have a good one!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Merry Christmas- I do miss the snow!

Decorate A Duck For Depression!

...Yes - you probably think I'm 'Quackers'!

This is an invitation from a very lovely artist friend of mine named Philomena who, like myself has been a sufferer of mental illness and she is always looking for ways to raise funds in support of those affected. So please read her invitation as follows.

I want you to consider 'Decorating A Duck For Depression'!
I believe this could be a novel way to raise money to support those affected by Mental Health issues. It is my plan to auction or sell the decorated ducks around the time of my next exhibition planned for March at Houghton's Winery Gallery. 
....and I am asking you for your support!
To find out more and to obtain your Duck to decorate, - I have fifty ducks on hand for you to choose from!
or phone on
Wooden Ducks for you to Decorate any way you wish.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Exquisite Artist-Chris Maynard

American artist has used feathers to created stunning images of birds.

Chris Maynard uses eye surgery tools, miniscule scissors, forceps and sharp scalpels to slice intricate patterns into the shape of birds.

No More Markets!

I have always said to my husband, "don't let me ever do a market or car boot sale again"

Stupidly, I made a flash decision and rented a stall at a market today. Not even a market, but a school fete. Unlike market stalls that can cost $100 to hire, this was only $20, and was under cover which was a bonus when 38- 40 degrees was forecast for that day.

When I do these markets, I usually move out what I call my 'shrapnel' All the odd bits and pieces that I have been trialing different techniques and exploring ideas on. They are mostly small in size and after a while just take up storage space. 

Anyway at the last minute I decided that instead of taking them all down to the op shop as I did last year, I would tidy them all up, paint the sides of each one and pile them into the car, along with a table, chair and all the other clobber you need to present a lively market stall. 
I felt unusually calm which should have been a clue that this was going to be a complete and utter waste of time and energy! 

Instead I took it to mean something good was going to happen and this was 'meant to be.' I set of to my destination 20 mins away.
After carting all my gear a couple of hundred yards from the car to my spot, I set everything up to entice the buyer. I took to my seat and contemplated my surrounds. "Ah! This is good I thought, I'm glad I made the effort." 

Two hours later I was still contemplating my surrounds and at one point completly dozed off! (I did go to a Christmas party the night before!) And so it went on. All around me were bric-a-brac stalls piled up with kids toys. Being Christmas, parents were stocking up. Cup cakes were popular too. Last thing on their mind was buying a piece of original art, even if it was selling for less than the price of the canvas I painted it on!!

After nearly five hours, there were so few people about, I decided to pack up and get home to my comfy chair and air-con, which is where every other sensible person should have been on a 40 degree day!
The hardest part was lugging everything back to the car again (why do I always do these things alone?) Every female convener there seemed to have her husband in tow, carrying all the heavy gear. I guess it was Sunday morning and my husband was where he was meant to be, leading a worship service. By the time I got back into my sweltering car I thought I was going to pass out!

Oh well, what can I say? I sold two little paintings at $5 each and handed out a few business cards. I bought two $3 plants for the garden with my takings. So I made $4! You win some you loose some. Just remind me never to do markets again!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Elijah - 1 Kings 19:11b - 13

The Mandorla Art Prize: I have not stopped pondering about Elijah and his encounter with God. I had better start putting some of my ideas into practice soon. Ideas are always easier than putting brush to canvas!

As I lay my ideas out, I am deciding which one. stands out as something I want to work with, and even more importantly have the skills to work with.
As it is an Art Prize I'm not going to broadcast all over the internet what my plans are, only that they range from either a modern scene set in today's era or an ancient abstract theme or one that combines the two. My materials may include collages papers, words and symbols and/or a limited two tone palette. Newspaper keeps coming to mind and the history of communication over the ages, and especially from man to God.
 I've also been thinking  about what man has in common, no matter what religion, when he comes into the presence of 'other.' Especially in times of desperation. Do we cry out, look up, look down and/or close our eyes? We take the attention off of ourselves and focus on something greater than ourselves and outside of ourselves.

Elijah came out of the cave (out of himself) and covered his face (closing his eyes) and had a connection, a communication, a conversation with God. I often think that our relationship with God is less dramatic but certainly gives our life deeper meaning. But, there are many people I know who seem quite happy not to be in this relationship to God. They are quite at peace within themselves and claim to live completely separate from this faith relationship. I used to think this was quite an arrogant approach to the gift of life but these days I think it is quite gutsy! It takes courage to admit you don't believe and to claim that this life is all you have and all there is! You love, you hate, you laugh, you cry, you live, you work and you die. Life goes on no matter what. Even though they are surrounded by religion and spirituality that says otherwise, especially when loved ones die, they have the guts to say...I live and love but I don't believe there is more!

So, once again, how does this relate to the Elijah scripture? How does this story speak to those friends of mine? In a way it is a very 'in-house' story, all about the God of the Hebrews and the amazing relationship he has with his prophets and his people Israel. That can seem very distant from our reality today and I'm still wanting to pull it into the here and NOW. Elijah was running away from his life work and suicidal. How many of us have been there or know someone who has been there? Even I have been there myself.
After his encounter with God he was completely transformed and went back to work. Can that happen for us too? Can God come to us before we even call and transform our lives? Is that always the case? We know it doesn't always work out that way, but for those who believe, we cant help but stand back in awe as we contemplate yet another miraculous story of the Old Testament and we hear God asking us the same question He asks Elijah...Why are you here?

Perhaps I should stop thinking so much and start creating. I'm sure the same God that Elijah encountered will guide me....

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Wow! How did that happen?

This painting needs a name!

It rarely happens that I finish a painting and then I want to keep it to myself! This is one of those. It is quite large, about 1m x 1m and has a textured sand surface that was prepared before I started painting . I had a landscape in mind but more important to me were the colours that I had chosen. I started at the base with lemon and white and worked my way up. I knew I wanted to have a dark purple focal point in the middle, not knowing they would turn into boulders (yes, boulders again appearing in my work-I wonder what they symbolise?). 

I completed the work in one day at the studio. It was almost effortless, every stroke worked and transformed into something other than what I had in mind, and much better too. 
There is no doubt in my mind that Spirit bought this one forward through me and it is for this reason that I will put a much higher value on it. Hope I can do some more of the same!

The painting pulsates with energy and the photo above doesn't really give you any idea of the colours because it was taken at night with very yellowish lighting. I will take a daytime shot next time I am in the studio. 

I had some left over paint, so I even had time to experiment with the drippy series I'm working on! Another night photo but it gives you an idea.

Update on my 'Elijah's encounter with God' painting in my next blog. Still at the gathering ideas stage.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

I Think I Have A New Addiction - Figure Drawing!


I'm still  loving sketching figures. I never quite know what posture is going to be formed on the page when I first put pen to paper. All I know is I am excited about creating a recognisable human form. For someone who has painted mostly abstract because I struggle to draw it is exciting!

 think this is one of my favourites so far because of the beautiful, graceful posture, especially where. the line of her neck (is it the nape?) meets her cropped hair. At first I thought her hands were tied and her head hung low, but she turned out to be sitting up tall and graceful, maybe stretching her shoulders.
Think I'll share this one on Facebook too!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Settling Back Into The Studio Again

Just got home from a hard day at the office. Feet aching, back aching and no one is paying me for my hard work. You have to be damn passionate about this artist work to put in as many hours as I do. Either that or insane... I think I am a bit of both.

Well, my studio was organised enough to work in today, and it feels like a fresh start. I've taken down all my old paintings at put up some new. It really helps me to have inspiring work around me including bits and pieces that I have collected along the way.  These could be anything at all ranging from magazine pages, fabrics, inspirational quotes, colors I'm drawn to, images off the Internet, papers, photos, natural objects and whatever else captures my interest.
    My studio at Rob Park

We have hard rubbish collection this week so I piled up all the old canvases of mine that I wasn't interested in re-working and also those that had far too much texture applied to be able to re-paint over. Some of them I slashed off the frame (very therapeutic!) and others, if the frame was sturdy enough, I kept it so that one day ( ha ha! one day!) I will learn how to stretch a new canvas over them. 

Anyway that evening I put them out on the verge and the pile was huge. In the morning I went out to check that the over-night gusty wind hadn't blown them half-way up the street. I got such a surprise because the hard rubbish collectors hadn't picked up in our street yet but there wasn't a single canvas left...someone was very keen! I wish my exhibitions got such a positive response!

Next week I have a lady named Clare from 'Sort Your Stuff' coming to my home and we are going to get my room at home organised into office and storage of all my art materials that I don't need in my studio at Rob Park. I'm just starting to put things into piles. Whatever made me get into mixed media and collage and painting, drawing and encaustic? much stuff I have held onto like beads, postage stamps, feathers and wood shavings to name just a few...just in never know!

If you haven't got what you need, use what you've got!

   These are 18" x 14"   
It got to the stage Friday eve when I felt I just had to do some drawing. 
I had no charcoal or decent sized paper. So I used the back of an old Anne Geddes calendar and some really crappy wax crayons. The paper was really slick and nonporous so after sketching with the crayon II put a little 'Zest' orange solvent (like turps) on a cloth and with my finger I was able to blend and clean up some of the lines. That was really fun!
 I will experiment some more with this so don't throw away your old large format calendars that are blank on one side, please send them my way!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I Need A Fierce Clutter Buster

Today, I didn't get the vacuum cleaner into the car and I didn't make it to the studio. In fact I didnt get much done at all!

This urgent desire for less clutter and more order is still very strong. After spending most of the day doing non arty stuff, I then got on the computer to check out art competitions. This always consumes a lot of time and energy because you have to read all the rules of entry and the where, what, how and why? After this I was inspired to do some figure drawing. I was still at home? Did I have the paper I needed, did I have charcoal? - no. What about touch drawing? I had the tissue paper and the boards but no paint or rollers. They too were in my studio in Perth! 

Here I was frustrated once again by having a room in our house full of art stuff but not what I needed! Also there was no surface space on my table at home to work because it is covered in all the materials used for my encaustic work. Even my dining table is covered in my junk! This is getting serious. I have to do some serious culling and I don't know where to start. 


I suppose I am asking myself, what studio environment brings about a sense of well-being for me? What art materials need to be at my fingertips so that I can do my work?
If I want to have a sense of the divine working through me then how will I get in the frame of mind to allow that to happen? 

Normally I can work surrounded by clutter because I block it out. Right now I am acutely aware of it and I literally can't begin any artwork. 

I know it is going to take a great deal of energy and maybe a couple of weeks to sort through both studios. I'm not looking forward to it but I guess it is all part of getting rid of the old and allowing room for something new to come in. Over the last few years I have easily sorted through things each time I shifted studio, but this needs to be done ASAP. I am on the search for a  fierce clutter buster. One that will question me on how valid it is to keep something I haven't used in the last three years. I'll start in the morning, creating those three separate keep, to give away and to toss!


 I knew it would be difficult returning home from residency but I never expected to be so frustrated with people and things and most of all with my own disorganised and cluttered studios.

Most of today I have felt like one of those steel balls in a pinball machine, being fired in different directions. I became aware that I would need to cull my studio of clutter while I was In Beverley. Once home I off loaded the contents of my car into my Perth studio. I literally dumped all my art materials onto my huge work table. I managed to psyche up enough energy to plan what my next step would be to remove what I don't want and clear some space. Being a mixed media and collage artist and wax and watercolour and whatever else I decide to get into...I have so much bloody stuff that I have collected over the years...just in case I need it. Well, it has got to go because I can't think clearly surrounded by so much clutter.
I put back in the car the things I needed to take back to take to my studio at home and placed in a pile smaller works or canvases I could take to the markets and sell and that was it....I'd made a small start. Eventually I couldn't stand the cobwebs, dead insects and layer of thick dust all over the room so I went home, planning to return the next day with the vacuum cleaner and scrubbing brush!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Departing Thoughts

Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one.” – Stella Adler

The last couple of days at the Station Gallery have been quite different. Last night there were 3 extra guests in the house including a friend of mine who visited and stayed overnight, The new artist in residence from California and a new friend of hers who also stayed the night! 

Also, the place was a buzz with a working bee in the grounds and sound checks etc up on the stage for the band coming to do a show that evening. And, it had been raining all night for the first time in 3 weeks, so the ground was very wet creating puddles everywhere. I even had goosebumps from the cool air and had to pull a jumper out for the first time in 3 weeks, from the bottom of my suitcase!
I did pray that I would adjust well to the change of pace once I arrived home to the city but I think I had a crash course before I even left!

Before the exhibition that evening I continued to add finishing touches to my paintings, even though they were already hanging in place on the gallery walls...just can't help myself can I? I know when a painting is finished, but leading up to that moment there are a continuous stream of questions streaming through like " Is that  finished now?" or "It needs something else" or "something's not right" or " not happy with that one, maybe I should I take that one out of the exhibition" and so on.

EventuallyI I got everything packed up into my car so that I was ready to leave early in the morning. During my stay I ended up selling nine paintings and doing two workshops so I was very happy.

 I also learned that I daily need time to be still, to reflect, to write, to become aware of a higher power, to focus my thoughts and paint. Everything else in life flows out from that. I'm conscious that not everybody needs this way of life to be content, but for me this is a necessary and maybe a way to be able to offer something of meaning and value back to my community and world.

The challenge is always working out how to incorporate these values and disciplines in my everyday life at home. Not just as a list of things to do that get ticked of each day, and only when I have the time, but as my full-time job. As the heart and core of my day. As my work. It is really as simple as that.

What makes it so difficult to administer on a daily basis is the long list of negative beliefs that I burden myself with and that can also be backed up by society beliefs.  It is good to be aware of them and name them because then I can control how much they negate the blessing that I want to be in society rather than a burden. 

Negative beliefs: I  am unsociable, a hermit, a recluse, withdrawn, selfish, too analytical, too spiritual, too philosophical, not practical enough, uncaring , unsupportive wife, just not right, a weirdo. Working as an artist is a luxury, lucky to have such freedom, not a proper job, wasting money, couldn't do it if I was on my own, I'm spoilt, you can't always have what you want , you are not trained, not good enough etc. 

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Dr Suess 

So that is a robust collection of thoughts that I daily sift through to stay on track with my art career. I  ask myself, are true or false? Are they helpful and kind? Do they build me up or drag me down?  On the residency I was strengthened to keep on going because of the soul connection I experienced while doing my art. And being true to my soul is what matters most. I am learning to listen and respect and be guided by my soul a great deal more these days?

William Shakespeare put it this way:

“This above all: to thine own self be true,

And it must follow, as the night the day

Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Hamlet, I.iii, 78-80

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thinking about next year.

The Contemplative.      Touch Drawing and Mixed Media  30" x 24"

This was a painting that I knew needed just a little more but wasn't sure what. I tentatively worked on it this morning and I am happier with it now.

Danielle Smith, our next artist-in residence arrived from California today via a residency in China. She is 22 and will stay here in Beverley till the 29th December. She says her parents are celebrating thanksgiving today and she will have Christmas here in Beverley, just for something different!

I have booked myself in to Beverley for another residency April 2014. I am also checking out what else is available within Australia. There are plenty of great looking places to go overseas but I will need to save up enough funds to get there and back, so maybe 2015 I will go to Portugal, France, Scotland or Turkey! In the meantime I'm registering to do house sitting in Australia. That way I can have a continuous stream of getaways to focus on my work. I still need my studio in Perth which is close to home  as my base so I can work on the larger and messier compositions that don't fit easily into the car. 

So, I think 2014 may be a very interesting and productive year for me now that I know how I can get the best out of my creative self and the kind of environment that is conducive to hours of uninterrupted creativity and contemplation.

Reflecting On The Last Few Days

“Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make. Good. Art.” ~Neil Gaiman

One of the joys and purposes of an extended residency, is letting go of expectations and following whatever leads  you. 

How and in what ways my small, quick drawings and paintings, and my rumination about artists and poets will carry through in my work once I am back home, remains to be seen. 

Possibly these are in-the-moment responses to materials and experience and will have little carry-over outside this time. But I feel the very act of doing has been important in some freeing way.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pre- Exhibition Anxiety

Today has been one of those days when I decide I don't want to be an artist anymore...
For me, I always seem to go to war just a few days before an exhibition.  I find myself battling with some bitchy, judgemental, finicky, demanding, impatient school teacher type personality who has very unreasonable expectations! She pushes and pushes until I can't think anymore and knowing that nothing is ever good enough for her , I just want to throw the towel in! I end up exhausted, teary, hungry and all the while running out of time to prepare paintings for hanging!

Problem is, In my mind the work is not ready for showing. I start comparing my work to the exquisitely rendered photographic artwork of other artists that I hold in my mind. I continuously put paint on and take it off in my effort to get the perfect finish while instead it is slowly loosing it's freshness and turning to mud. I tell myself I have come this far, I must fight my demons and see this through to the end!

But, I am learning that doesn't work at all. I mostly end up with slap dash work that I am not proud of and a big headache! So, instead I am getting more familiar with this battle and today I stopped it fair and square in it's tracks and took a more sane approach.

I needed my own love and acceptance of myself and my work, exactly as it is TODAY. I am what I am, and my art work is what it is, and that is how it will be for this exhibition.  I took a short break, tried to completely forget about all the difficulties. Then I come back and centred myself by coming into the present moment, letting everything  go, especially the bitchy school teacher and prayed,  asking  what I needed to do next.   Staying calm was  important for me and waiting to see what ideas come. No rushing or panic or self abuse. 

I am learning that if I am not sure what needs to be done next then I LEAVE it alone!  I may ask someone what they think, but I must be sure before changing anything. Though I still have many choices to make, I try not to dip my brush in paint till I am 100% sure. This is not the time to be taking risks, exploring new techniques and playing. It is either the right step or it is not. It is better for me to leave the work as it is, maybe not even exhibit that one,  if I am unsure.

Finally, I have to accept that I may not yet have the skills required to achieve what I want and that this is not failure. I must work with what I have right now. I can always learn new skills later... after this exhibition. I need to accept that if I keep on learning, my  next paintings will be better than the current ones and the time leading up to my exhibitions will hopefully not be so stressful. Now back to it!


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Busy hanging works for a showing on Sat 29th 2013

It is over 30 degrees here today so I am staying indoors. My body is not holding up too well. Always seems to be worse on the days that I walk with the group. Aches and pains and really tired...I'm too young for all that!

I've been given free reign to hang and display my work ready for showing on Sat. What more could an artist want but a  little bit of gallery space, set up with a good hanging system and, hundreds of people coming to see a band named 'Chain Reaction who are doing the monthly show on the stage out in the garden at the back. A bar is setup and among other news the audience will be invited to browse through the gallery and see my little exhibition!

  Right now I am sort of having fun putting on the finishing touches to paintings, attaching wire to the back, climbing up and down wobbly tables and ladders displaying the work. A little frustrating when I attach my hanging wire to the wrong end or see so parts of my artwork that I want to change once they are on the wall and under a healthy spotlight!

By the end of today I'll take another photo and it should look a lot more presentable than this one. A number of the works are just on plain canvas board so I will have to lean them up against the wall. Wish I had the knack for whipping up a few frames out of discarded wood. Something else I'll have to learn one day soon, especially as framing can be so expensive.

Well I feel like a nap but I had better get back into the gallery and do some work!

Harvesting in Beverley

Before I knew it, I found myself sat next to farmer, Simon Braun ( once I managed to get up the steps) and watched him harvest one of his paddocks yesterday afternoon. Those machines are amazing! 

Inside the cabin is air-con so it is nice and cool and free of dust. You can see everything that goes on from behind a giant window. The cutters, collectors, spreaders and sifters - not sure they are the right names. Directly behind me is a window where you can see tons of wheat  piling up ready to be transferred into the bins that are carried away by the trucks. 
As I turn around in my seat, this is the view looking through the window behind my head. The harvested wheat filling up so is almost chockers!

I really wish I had recorded my chat to Chris, who has been a farmer for 40 years and said this was  of the most dense crop he had harvested in a long while. After 3 or 4 lengths of the field he had to off load all the grain. Most impressive was the precision in which Simon controlled the machine to manoeuvre so swiftly around tree stumps or rocks, and even more stunning was to see the whole machine do a 2-point turn in a narrow part of the field. Simon was saying that he has to stay alert for the rocks because that can be a costly repair job. 

He spends up to ten hours a day inside that cabin when the conditions for harvesting are good and he wouldn't want it any other way. He loves the farming life and comes from a generation of farmers in Beverly going back 120 years. He and Jenny live in the original farm home that has been renovated of course. 

Jenny is an artist and a key organiser of the station gallery monthly performances. In the house she had the best art collection I've ever seen in a private home including her own work.  Most of them are not by well -known artists and are average to small in size, but it was the variety of styles and media that I appreciated. I am gifting her one my own found-paper-collages which she was admiring when I first arrived. She doesn't have room for anymore on her walls but I will be proud to have one of mine in her house somewhere, maybe I could suggest pride of place on the back of a 'dunny' door

Now home for a roast dinner thanks to Jenny.

Jenny's gift.

Monday, November 25, 2013

May my artwork never become a blur!

One of the  great websites that I follow is Artsy Shark. Carolyn has this to say:

I’m Carolyn Edlund, the founder and author of Artsy Shark – devoted to helping artists grow their businesses. I work with artists every day in one-on-one personalized consultations to help them build strong, sustainable businesses. In my everyday work, I’m exposed to a lot of work that artists are currently making. And in looking at artwork every day, I see a lot of sameness. Similar subject matter, similar styles and themes. It can become a blur after a while. Yet many artists want their work to be memorable, to shine – and to stand out from the pack.

What gives art that “Wow factor” that causes your audience to sit up and take notice? What is that elusive quality that transcends the usual and makes your work truly remarkable? Seth Godin defines remarkable as being “beyond the edge”. Would you agree?

Does your work elicit remarks, and start conversations? 

Beyond the edge...I like that!  In the meantime I'll keep working, especially on my figure drawings. Really don't want to get too picture perfect with these drawings,which is why I prefer not to use someone else's images to learn from just yet. Even a real live model could make it difficult for me to capture the essence of what's going on in my imagination, but I will just have to trial that and see how I go.

I just love these scribbled gestures, in unusual positions, revealing all the guess work involved as I carve out the body. The markings are like the first slices a sculptor removes from the lump of wood, clay or stone. The quicker I work the better but I have to stay with it until it is resolved and that can take time. I scratched these out on computer paper (hence the wrinkles) before going to bed last night. I wanted to do more but I was very tired. I like the idea of using the water colour pencils.

U2 Lyrics - Some Days Are Better Than Others

Last night I literally fell into bed quite early in the evening. My feet, ankles, legs and lower back were aching like crazy! Possibly from way too many hours standing and walking on the hard wooden floors, I think. Not so good today either, though I managed my 60 min walk with the locals.  I had planned to clean the house today ready for the next artist in residence who is coming from America, Danielle Smith. I am looking forward to meeting her as she too is trying to characterize the feeling of spirituality through  painting. 

So far I'm not getting much cleaning up done as I'm lying flat on my back resting my feet. At least I can sort of do this blog and maybe some more life drawing. Early this morning I was working on the tissue sculptured vase of flowers, getting them in place and gluing them down. Choosing where to place them took forever. I liked the idea of the floral shapes being transparent and delicate but with the dark faux wood background I'm going to have to build them up more to add some depth. It also needs to look more contemporary. Looks way too seventies for me at the moment!

Not sure where I'm going with these little critters! Maybe a whole pile of them with a light shining up through them. If I don't get any inspiration soon they will get a light from my box of matches. 

And this one was really bugging me last night. Originally, I had chosen the colors quite randomly and that was the problem. Random doesn't always work. 
Finishing it off, I tried to create some sort of colour harmony but it still wasn't working. Another common mistake is when I  try to save the bits I like no matter what problems they may be causing to the rest of the painting as a whole so, that was it...I white-washed the troublesome areas with gesso. Hope I've made the right choice...too late now!

    'Grounded'     18" x 36 " Mixed Media 


Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Way It Is

The Way It Is, by William Stafford

Hello Poets,

William Stafford’s journey with words began most mornings before sunrise. This simple poem was written 26 days before he passed. The day before he wrote “Haycutters” and four days later on August 6, 1993 he wrote “November” in honor of Hiroshima Day.
One of his students, the poet Naomi Shihab Nye, wrote, “In our time there has been no poet who revived human hearts and spirits more convincingly than William Stafford. There has been no one who gave more courage to a journey with words, and silence, and an awakened life.”

The Way It Is

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

By William Stafford, from The Way It Is, 1998

Ann died in a terrible road accident on her way home from Perth one evening. I couldn't help thinking of her when I read this poem. Ann was only 59 years old. This little memorial is in the Beverley Station garden and is cared for lovingly by her friends. I water and dead head the roses so that I can play a small part in remembering Ann. There is a brass ballet slipper on the stone podium in the centre crafted by a close friend Jenny Broun.

Falling In Love With Teaching Children Again!

So far we only had four kids booked in for todays workshop and the organisers were apologising to me for so few attendees. Then there were eight. That was okay as I had 12 candles. The workshop was set to start at 12:30 today.  By 11.o'clock the numbers had doubled to sixteen children, aged from 3-11. I needed to buy more supplies quickly. All the shops in Beverley close at 12:30! I think I also needed a stiff drink!

I used teach kids everyday but I took a break because I wasn't giving any of my own creative work the time and attention it needed so, as you can imagine I was a bit anxious about today. So anxious I gobbled down some nuts for lunch and gave myself a bad stomach cramp. I decided I was being stupid getting all wound up, so I 10 min in prayer just letting all my anxiety go.  I was organised, so all I needed to do now was enjoy myself and that I did! I have to say, I think I had the 16 most beautiful kids in the world. Thank you God! They were just gorgeous and a real pleasure to teach. Their parents can be very proud!

We started off with an hour of InterPlay on the Beverley Platform which is actually a performance stage. perfect! Also, it was still in the shade. 30 degrees in the midday sun in Beverley is not very comfortable. This was a first for me. I had never done InterPlay with kids before, except a little with my three grandchildren.So this was a new experience for me. Oh! my goodness. I have been missing out! They were so responsive and creative and really got into it. With my adults there are so many layers to sift through before I can tap into the playful, creative and free spirited inner child. I know it took me a long time when I first started InterPlay, but wow-with these kids it was right there. I had so much fun leading them. I realised then and there, I must seriously look into offering InterPlay 4 Kids. Maybe that's why I haven't been able to get any adults involved on a regular basis- I'm meant to be teaching children! Anyway I'll look into finding a venue and planning something in the New Year. I couldn't take any photos of the InterPlay session because I was too busy leading but my friend Jenny was clicking away and I can't wait to see some of the action shots of those inspiring kids! I'll post them soon.

The other thing I observed was that 5 of the children had up to 4 brothers or sisters in the workshop.  I guess if mum's bringing one or two, the others come along and join in too.  When I run an InterPlay class for adults it is highly unlikely that one participant will bring one sister or brother, let alone three!
I know it is not rocket science but it is a kind of awakening for me to stop struggling to push my wheelbarrow up hill for the adult groups, why not fly down hill with the kids - whee!

After InterPlay we sat down and talked about symbols of Christmas eg Baubles were originally round to remind us of God's creation- planet earth. The colours red and green for the blood sacrificed by Jesus and green is the evergreen Christmas Tree to remind us of eternal life and so on. One 4 yr. old proceeded to tell me how her father, a farmer, had to kill a lamb and there was red blood squirting out everywhere! Mmmm...okay, moving right along. While the kids were decorating their candles, it was the same little girl that said to all the older kids at her table "Do it properly like mine!" Priceless.

From past experience with kids I know when I have a great project choice because the kids have everything they need at their finger tips. They know exactly what to do and hardly need any assistance. They quietly chat among themselves and stay focused on their craft for a full 40 mins. Also, I get the chance to relax, take photos and enjoy watching them create.

A bonus too-they all finished at about the same time. I used to get frustrated when I'd plan a 60 min kids painting class and 10 minutes into the class a sweet child, having done a slap-dash job would say "I'm done, what do I do now?" and he/she would start wandering around the studio and distracting the other kids. I would try to expand their thinking on ways to add more to their work but the response would be " Nah...I like it like it just the way it is." Not wanting to squash any of that unteachable confidence out of them or loose my 'working with children' permit, I would have to come up with another project-on the spot to keep this 'special' child engaged till mum arrived to pick him/her up.

Anyway, after today, I confess I have fallen in love with teaching children again.