A love song…

In two days I leave Broken Hill for 7 weeks.  In 6 days, my daughter gets married.  DSCN1078In 8 days I leave for a month or so doing my thing in Nepal. Last week I submitted ten pieces to Montsalvat in Eltham for their Gallery shop. (Thank you darling Caterina for getting this happening)  And just over a month after my return from Nepal we are moving.  Again.  I am sure that tied up in that imminent move is my desire to enter the most artistically ambitious thing I have ever attempted into our Outback Art Prize. It has been gestating since we moved to this isolated and amazing place and I…am compelled… to make it now. It is a good-bye love poem in polymer.  It is a desire and not a should because I feel excited, physically alive, almost tingly. It is flowing. In between the other stuff that I choose to do.

(One may have wondered why the afore-mentioned love poem needed to includeDSCN1081 many hand made, hand textured, hand painted bones and hundreds of paper thin polymer clay gum leaves.  One could ask if I really needed to do this right now* but one hasn’t asked this because one has been married to me for two weeks shy of 31 years and knows it wouldn’t help. Instead, without any fanfare or fuss, one sweeps, cooks, and picks up the neglected pieces.  One has encouraged and helped and been generally amazing. Sometimes you can get really lucky.  I know I did.)

DSCN1083I know, at other times, all this going on would be freaking me out. I am a little freaked but to my surprise, am feeling more energised than freaked. I realise that so often, the person saying Do it better; Do it faster; Be more on top of things is me.  Other people can handle it slower, less organised, well down vs perfect!  I can choose to do some things in a good enough way so I can really dedicate the time I want to other things. There is still that tiny part saying  Don’t worry. Tomorrow you will wake up and be REALLY panicked and then you’ll be sorry but for now I’m running with I’m going OK.

Here are some I hope tantalising glimpses of what is to come. Even if I don’t get accepted, it has been fun.  I am learning about creativity, trust, embracing life by the metaphorical balls and going with the flow.

*I do need to do it right now because it is a tad time consuming and the deadline is ten days after my return.

A long time coming

And I am not talking about the regularity of blogging!  Darling family members and friends have DSCN1037put up with me banging on about something for nearly 12 months now and the great day has finally arrived. I made a decision last year that I chose not to implement until today.  I celebrated it with these pieces.

Today I had my last colour. If I had done this when I decided to, my hair would be at a dreadful, horrible, disgusting stage right at the time of my gorgeous elder daughter’s wedding (next week) and the temptation to hit the bottle again would have been, I feared, too strong. So I am a brunette for the wedding but am now steeled for 2 years of skunky hideousness and potentially vibrantly emerging hair authenticity.DSCN1077  No plans for a pixie and at this stage hoping to be brave enough to go cold turkey. Euck.

Months of people thinking I have really let myself go. Maybe two years of ombre awfulness.  People thinking my husband looks really young.  I have studied the Pinterest pages of good transitions and great looking long haired silver sisters. For a while I avidly read the experiences of others with long hair on Going Gray, Looking Great. I bought Anne Kreamer’s book.  I have looked admiringly at long haired silver lovelies like Yasmina Rossi and Jodee Anello. I may have got a tiny bit obsessed.  But now it’s time to act. Or not act.

I suspect posts about going grey are really, really boring to anyone not choosing to do this so I will not talk about it again, maybe occasionally posting a photo or two of the journey, but otherwise, just letting nature take her course.  Some of my tribe think I’m mad, some think I’m brave and my already magnificently silver buddies (some well under 50) think it’s fantastic. Who knows. I approach with tenderness, curiosity and hopes that I can be very very patient.

Joy – an exercise in vulnerability

Last week, at WOMADELAIDE (a nearly annual pilgrimage) I spent three days listening to world music in Adelaide’s beautiful Botanic Park. The weather was delightful, the breeze cool, the food delicious and the music wonderful. I reconnected with old friends; I swayed with delight listening to Toumani and Sidiki Diabate, I sang along to Black Boys on Mopeds with Sinead O’Connor and I lay down for an hour and let the music of The Gloaming reduce me to joyful tears.

DSCN1065Within an hour of my return I was in a state of deep flow in a basket weaving class guided by my dear friend Ann Evers.  I learnt about the story telling of basketry; learnt about how plants and grasses from my local environment could be woven to create functional and beautiful items. I wove into my basket, farewell kattaks from Nepal and Tibet and a silk scarf over 35 years old that I bought in New Zealand.  It was hand printed, a serene and delicate mint colour and had become brittle with age but I could not bear to throw it out, so  I combined it with bells and reeds to make a very wonky but happy looking basket.

All this loveliness and I hesitated to write about it because I felt a bit guilty! Guilty DSCN1067for owning up to this seeming sustained self indulgence.  I felt like I should somehow justify it by sharing that I had a great need for something nice after a period of hardship. Perhaps I should itemise all the challenging things that have cropped up.  Perhaps I need to state that I am totally aware that the world is full of bad things and that having this joy doesn’t minimise my knowledge of that.  Why do I think this? Why is joy sometimes accompanied by a sense of…guilt?

The other thing I noticed has been so wonderfully described by Brene Brown in The Gifts of Imperfection.  She writes: Joy and gratitude can be very vulnerable and intense experiences. We are an anxious people and many of us have little tolerance for vulnerability…we think to our selves I’m not going to allow myself to feel this joy because I know it won’t last; or Acknowledging how grateful I am is an invitation for disaster.

I know as I lay there, feeling the power of the music of The Gloaming, tears of joy quietly rolling down my face, there was indeed that tiny little voice saying Yup and ain’t you going to come a cropper after all this loveliness?  And I realised that Yes, I might. I might be diagnosed with a terminal illness; the plane might drop from the sky on the way home; my hearing might finally give up its tenuous hold on usefulness and call it quits. Any number of disasters could befall.  But whether they happened in the future or not, right then and there, in that moment, I was experiencing joy.  I could miss it worrying by the future mights, or I could enjoy it.  And the memories of experiencing that joy could sustain me and give me resilience to face what comes.

So I did. Experienced joy. Grinning like an idiot. Counting my blessings – the dappled sunlight, the music, men with the voices of angels, the ears to hear it, the lovely bloke lying next to me (making it work!), gluten free cider….

 

 

Just a tiny bit excited…..

My darling friend Tory sent me a link yesterday to a talk Maria Popova gave about the combinatorial nature of creativity.  It contains many gems but this really resonates:

…creativity is combinatorial, [in] that nothing is entirely original, that everything builds on what came before, and that we create by taking existing pieces of inspiration, knowledge, skill and insight that we gather over the course of our lives and recombining them into incredible new creations.

Tory Hughes is someone who has contributed so much to the creative output of socollage 15P1 v1 many artists. It is no coincidence that she and another fabulous mixed media artist, Dayle Doroshow, were mentioned in several of the articles in the current edition (Diversity) of The Polymer Arts magazine.  Not just mine.

(Was that the Segue of the Century?)

That’s right. If you look at the collage of pages shown here, you will notice a magenta coloured one headed Exploring Oblique Strategies. THAT’S MINE!!!!  The article is about using Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies to enhance creativity and diversity.  I am so excited to be in this terrific magazine which brings joy, stimulation and delight with every edition, and exceptional joy and delight when I am in it!

Read about Wendy Jorre de St. Jorre, Heather Campbell, Wendy Wallin Mallinow, Ann and Karen Mitchell and other diverse artists.  Be inspired. Be very inspired!

A rich, deep, productive life

As I type these words, a group of friends are gathering in Albury, the town I spent 20 years, to mourn the death and celebrate the life of a gorgeous woman who died way too soon.  Kim was one of those positive, radiant women who was likeDSCN1035 sunshine. Her enthusiasm and passion for life was infectious.  And she made you feel as though you could do things. When I think of Kim, so many words spring to mind but three in particular are abundance, generosity and connection.  My life is richer for having met her and there is a sadness for so many people now that she is gone.

My older daughter sent me the link to a wonderful article by Oliver Sacks. It is powerful reading in its entirety but several thoughts bear highlighting.  Sacks comments that he is face to face with dying but not finished with life. In response to this he says: I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight.  I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective…

Sacks talks about a response of gratitude:  I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written.

Every morning, as I put my feet to the floor, I say words of gratitude.  Some mornings I sleepily utter a formal phrase, other mornings a jubilant list of things that bring joy. I didn’t need Kim’s death to remind me to be grateful that I lived to meet my grand daughter.  And now, some mornings I will use this wonderful sentence from Sacks’ article:  I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.

My pictorial choice of a vibrant, joyous piece of jewellery is no coincidence. It celebrates the life of a vibrant, joyous woman and expresses my gratitude for another day.

Taking a plunge

I create and I connect. I create designs for Samunnat, I connect with people who support us and buy beautiful Samunnat jewellery. I create my own art; I create and connect through classes and articles. I want to create and connect with clarity and abundance.  So I am making some changes to my website to do that.

DSCN0930The regular visitor to this blog (and may your god bless you!) may have noticed some of these changes! Like the vanishing comments! (I think that is fixed now.)  Or the challenge to subscribe…still working that one out!

In an attempt to embrace a growth mindset and become more independent, I am doing an online course for artists who want to create their own websites. To say I am not naturally gifted in this area is a massive understatement so it will be a testament to Susan Lomuto and the patience of Cynthia Tinapple when I can finally think For now, I’ve done it.  Unlike most website designers who no doubt have mantras like Beautiful website, Beautiful experience or We develop Smart Ideas mine is No-one will die if you press this button.

So, bear with me while I tweak, explore, press wrong buttons, discover new strengths and skills and create and connect in another way.  And feast your eyes on these babies: my personal flyer and business cards and the flyer for the magical Colourful Journey! Very exciting!

You can tell a lot about a girl by her caddy…

I don’t subscribe to many posts but one I love is Ginger Davis Allman’s The Blue Bottle Tree. She writes clearly, frankly and intelligently about all things polymer and her latest post about the Sculpey Organiser Tool prompted me to photograph my DSCN0933wonderful organiser!  We both agree that often the best storage tools come from other people’s junk.

I haunt our tip (as I may have mentioned before) and got these two caddies on two separate occasions. Gosh, I must have paid at least a dollar for them! I slightly modified one and find it to be a perfect tool caddy. It revolves. It is easy to shove in a box to take to classes and it was in one of those classes that students told me they were stands for remote controls! All I can say is that some people must have a lot of remote controls. I am just glad that sometimes they chuck out their holders!

I love that my fabulous texture sponges from Daniel and Natalia have their ownDSCN0936 slot and my extruder disks go in small containers blue tacked onto one of the corners. (Cynthia Tinapple’s have their own and the rest go underneath).  Another corner is for carving tools and a third for exacto blades which are stored in an old film canister (remember them!?) The final corner is for water spray when using molds.

DSCN0935I have a section for blades, a section for exacto handles and a Berocca tube stuck in one section is great fro storing my carving tools.  A second caddy is great for my pliers, scissors and measuring bits.  The careful observer will see that the caddy is decorated with a favourite Neil Gaiman quote:

Go and make amazing mistakes.  Make interesting mistakes. Make glorious and fantastic mistakes.  Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make good art.

The presence of Bandaids clipped to the side indicate that at least I take the Make mistakes bit seriously!

Choose

Some times, it is almost like you are being TOLD something. In my reading from various sources last week, there was a repeated message about choice.
First I was reminded of Victor Frankl’s words:
Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response is our growth and our freedom.
DSCN0716Then, as I read my beloved Brainpickings, I came across this from Anne Lamott in her books Stitches:
Most of us have figured out that we have to do what’s in front of us and keep doing it…Every time we choose the good action or response –  the decent, the valuable – it builds incrementally, to renewal, resurrection, the place of newness, freedom, justice…
We live stitch by stitch, when we’re lucky. If you fixate on the big picture, the whole shebang, the overview, you miss the stitching. And maybe the stitching is crude, or it is unraveling, but if it were precise, we’d pretend that life was just fine and running like a Swiss watch.  This is not helpful if on the inside we understand that the life is more often like a cuckoo clock with rusty gears.
It is an art to learn to spot the space to choose. So many of my practices – like my yoga, my journalling – are to help me to do that…to spot the space and respond mindfully and, as a wise and darling friend reminded me, with good intention.

Straya Day and a day for Australians

Thirty years of marriage to a soccer tragic means I have developed some 4574382622_e1869d4832interest in the game. And that interest was abundantly rewarded in last night’s nail bitingly tense final of the Asian Cup.  Two teams of frighteningly fit and dedicated athletes gave their all to see who would win.  And the Socceroos bought it home. Thank goodness or life here would have been morose for some time.  My football tragic has always believed in Ange.

Watching the post match analyses, as you do, made me reflect a little on what it means for me to be Australian. A stroke of luck rather than anything to do with wise decision making or careful birth plans on my part. I struggle with Australia Day celebrations. I struggled (read felt violently ill) even more this year when (apologies to any monarchists reading the blog) our PM knighted Prince Philip. (You have no idea what I really wanted to type but have restrained myself from typing in the interests of keeping this suitable for family reading).  It made it a debacle.

Listening to one of the Offsiders‘ commentators this morning was calming. He noted that the name of the Socceroos coach is Postecoglou, the captain is Jedinak, the scorer of the first goal was Luongo. Iraqi fans wore T-shirts acknowledging their heritage and their home.  This is what makes Australia special for me.

May we become a kinder, more welcoming, diverse, tolerant nation.  May we elect a government that helps us to be that nation.

About the photos: The football cane was made by Toni Ransfield (of incredible pen fame) from her FlickR photo stream and the fan was taken by Stefan Postles and is from Gettyimages.

 

Talking turkey with my creative self

DSCN0748At the prompting of Jen Louden, I recently asked my creative self what she was hungry for. I told my creative self I was ready to listen and I wrote while she dictated.

Boy, did she let fly! I confess to being taken aback. My creative self barely stopped short of swearing at me. Let me quote her (removing the more colourful language):

For months without end you’ve been utterly immersed in [various worthy things! Ed] …In all this, I may have got an hour! A scatty distractedDSCN0815 hour if I am lucky!! … You came back here and I was hopeful I’d get some quality time. But what did I get? Nothin’!  When do I ever get that focussed, dedicated time you give [various worthy things. Calm down creative self! Ed]? When does the unhurried dreaming happen?…Wendy, I want to tell you that all that other stuff will totally wait! If you give me a day, just one day, that other stuff will all be there the next day. No-one will have eaten you. No-one will have died.  Pretend the line was down, the power cut…whatever. Just do you and me the enormous good favour of a date! A joy date! A creativity date. VERY SOON! Tomorrow even…what I hunger for is your wholehearted, committed time. [Bold hers!]

DSCN0899So we had a date, myself and I. Four hours.  I turned off the computer and put the phone out of checking reach.  I said aloud to my creative self, OK baby, it’s just you and me. Alone. The two of us. I’m yours.  And we played.  We had a ball.

For an embarrassing number of years I have wanted to make a cane inspired by my handbag* so I did. It was a blast.  I made more pendants than one woman could use.  And the next day when I went back to work on all those waiting things, things flowed. Grace abounded. I achieved more than I had for ages.

I think I heard my creative self muttering ungraciously about how if I divided that one day among all the months she’d been bloody waiting there were still some dates owing blah, blah, blah…. but I can forgive her.  I say the same sort of thing myselExif_JPEG_PICTUREf.

*My elder daughter gave me a handbag by a wonderful Argentinian artist Graciela Fuenzalida for a special birthday and it never fails to bring a smile!  Her faces remind me of Picasso’s Les Meninas!  Her bag inspired my canes.