Hello! Lovely to see you! Here you will find random posts about living a creative life in country Australia. I am an illustrator. I create, take photos, faff, collect, teach. Watercolour, collage, colour, cheese, travel and dreaming are my faves. And Turkish delight. And cushions. And gardening. And op-shops...

Thursday, 15 December 2016

THE CHRISTMAS TREE of COLLECTED RANDOM STUFF - and how and why i made it...

THE CHRISTMAS TREE 
OF COLLECTED RANDOM STUFF


WOWSERS! How fast has December landed? How fast is Christmas coming? I guess because of all the THINGS that have happened in the last 6 weeks or so(knee operation/gastro etc)December caught me really off guard. But there was at least ONE thing I had done to create a bit of Christmas cheer in the house, one thing that reminds us it is the Silly Season. My Christmas tree of random  collected stuff! So how did it happen?

Miss 9 was home sick, and it was REALLY hot. Luckily the zircon was working a treat, so the lounge room was nice and chilly. Poor Miss 9 was vomitting lots, and floating in and out of sleep, and I really did not want to leave her alone. Which meant ducking down to the studio to paint was not an option.

I had finished a novel, done the washing, and faffed in the kitchen. What to do? I needed to stay in the room with her, in the cool, whatever it was. I thought maybe I should drag out the Chrissy tree... but Miss 9 was not keen on me doing it while she was sick, because she wanted to 'help'. Hmmm.

So I was going through our mail, sitting reading the postcards and lovely snail mail that had arrived for me amongst the bills, sipping on an iced coffee. Little snores were coming from the sofa, letting me know Miss 9 was resting.

My brain started thinking about how I had so many nice things sent to me in the mail, it seemed a shame to just put them on the fridge. I remembered how I used to Blutac them up, like wallpaper, when I was younger and lived in student rental digs. I had a whole wall of postcards from all over the place. It was supercool. 

In the stack of catalogues also in the letterbox, there were adds for Chrissy trees. LIGHTBULB MOMENT! Somehow my brain went...tree-postcards-buttons-stuff-THINK THINK THINK.BOOM!

In a flash I was collecting stuff, random things, from my studio, from my vignetting stash of props, laying them out on the table. 

So how to do this?

Lucky me, I have a Lovestar heart wall vase (my Chrissy present last year) perfect for the top of a tree. I used the nail, already there, to tie string around and stretch it out, to use as a guideline for the edge of the tree and get the shape just right.



the string was used as a guideline

I used Blutac to keep the string in place, and just started sticking on STUFF. Stuff I love, stuff collected, stuff waiting to get a chance to have a little limelight. I knew it would need stuff in it with a bit of repetition to create some harmony, so I looked at what I had lots of. Buttons, keys, playing cards, love hearts, dominoes, snap cards...







Then there was the stash of quirky stuff for fun. Feathers, spoons, take way wooden forks, swing tags, gift tags,cassette tapes, pencils, toy glasses, an ice cream magnet, painted paper doilies... you know, random things! But most lovely, some of the fabulous snail mail I have received from people all over the place. People who are friends online, and in real life. Special bits and pieces, special treasures.



It took a few packets of Blutac, and luckily I had loads of it stashed away, and a hubby who did not complain when I asked for more when he was ducking down to the shops for essentials. Nice man, a real keeper.

So there I am, sticking stuff to the wall, rolling up balls of Blutac, my family not batting an eyelid — just mum doing more weird stuff. 


Over the next few days, I tweaked and straightened crooked things, but I was not too fussy, definitely not a perfectionist. It was all done by eye, nothing planned terribly or measured. The tree was also added to over a few days, and I used buttons and keys and scrabble tiles to fill in gaps. And if I made a mistake, I just pulled it off and try somewhere or something else. Easy peasy lemon squeezey!

Seriously, I think ANYONE could do this! Just using whatever special pieces that you love, meaningful to YOU. Just have lots of Blutac, patience, and do not take it too seriously.

So what do you think? I love it!



Wednesday, 14 December 2016

#HOLIDAY#HOLIDAYHELLO#HOLIDAYS... MAKING MEMORIES

#HOLIDAY#HOLIDAYHELLO#HOLIDAYS
MAMAKING MEMORIES
(part 1)

holiday in Thailand 

HOLIDAY - a magical word, right up there with  my other fave words like SLEEP, CHEESE, DREAM and SWOON.

AND ONLY A FEW DAYS TO GO TILL WE ARE ON HOLIDAYS AGAIN!YAHOO!

We all have different ideas of what a holiday should be about. Some like mountains, some like cities, some bungy jump and seek adrenaline, some lie prostrate on beach towels and soak up the sun. Some investigate, savour the new and unfamiliar, explore, discover and seek. Some seek comfort in a familiar place, and routine. Wherever you fall on the holiday spectrum, we all love them, crave them, need them. Quite frankly, I would love take any type you offer me.


Silverton, Outback NSW


For me, in a household of teachers and school age kids, there is a rhythm to our lives that follows a 10 week school term cycle... 

Week 1 We are fresh and hopeful. 

Week 2 We are still feeling pretty good.

Week 3 Starting to forget we were ever on holidays, but still doing well.

Week 4 Things are getting a bit more hectic.

Week 5 Gee whizz, this is getting to be a real drag. Not fun anymore.

Week 6 Okay, jokes aside, when are the next holidays, because I am getting a bit over this.

Week 7 Everyone and everything is beginning to give me the shits, and I am quite tired.

Week 8 This family is impossible, you are all just lazy buggers, I am sick of this shit and all the school notes, having to nag all the time, and how much longer does this go on?

Week 9 Seriously, I am about to go neutron bomb crazy, and I just want to sleep and run away to join the circus, or live like a hermit in the wilds... wherever I do not need to fight about devices, homework, lunches, ballet times, school notes, answer emails or deal with the shit that tsunamis me everyday. 

Week 10 Remember that I look terrible in orange, that I DO LOVE MY FAMILY, EVEN THOUGH RIGHT NOW THEY DRIVE ME BATSHIT CRAZY that this too shall pass, and we can hang on till the e n d o f the w e e k...... PLEASE

 And then...

HOLIDAYS! ... and we love each other again... and all is good with the world.



tobogganing in Bangkok


I guess it is because life is a juggle, and I often drop all the balls, but holidays give me the chance and hope that I can scoop them back up again and start afresh.

It also gives me time to find inspiration maybe, to call on at a later date. 

And the MAIN THING... is that together we as a family , we make MEMORIES, things we later talk about, laugh at, reflect on, share...The things that help glue us together.


Mt. Cook, South Island NZ


So when I bunged up my bloody knee, and we had to cancel a family trip to New Zealand, I was majorly bummed. Gutted. Upset. And felt tremendously guilty. I had single handedly (or kneely - bad pun) screwed it up for all 5 of us. The holiday we needed so very badly. There were tears and sobs. But there was travel insurance ( Although the bastards took 12 weeks to pay us back the policy. Nuff said. Arsehats).



adventures in New Zealand, 2015


After the initial shock, the realisation that there was no way we could get on a plane, my need for a holiday overwhelmed me and like a toddler I jumped up and down (figuratively, if not actually) and demanded we re-evaluate and re-group because I WANT A HOLIDAY!!!!

So we did. Have holiday. And we came back knackered. It was fun, it was mental, it was great. And that my friend, is where I leave this...until part 2, when I tell you about it. See you then (I hope!) x









Some Nottingham family holiday snaps - making memories


Wednesday, 7 December 2016

A REALLY CRAPPY WEEKEND

WONDERFUL WEEKEND OF CREATIVE WORKSHOPS CRAPPY WEEKEND

a lot on my plate  2016

alternative titles...

  • WHEN GOOD THINGS GO BAD
  • UNEXPECTED AND UNWANTED
  • WHEN PLANS GO AWRY
  • SOMETIMES LIFE SUCKS LEMONS
  • SUNDAY SUNDAY, BUT NO FUNDAY
  • WHEN YOU LET LOTS OF PEOPLE DOWN AND FEEL TRULY AWFUL
  • WHY IS MY LIFE ALWAYS FULL OF DRAMAS
  • NO ART, NO PAINTING - BUT LOTS OF FAINTING
Yes, they really are apt alternatives. Any of them will do, and plenty of others with a bit more sauce and a slew of rude words too. So why? Why is it that sometimes life just throws stuff at you, and as hard as you try to cope with it, you really just have to concede total defeat?

This is what happened last Sunday morning, in Sydney, at around 8am to be precise. In tears, & barely able to stand up, with a warm shower washing over me, leaning on a cold glass screen, I had to admit I was going nowhere. Fast. Then I lost consciousness, & my hubby called it. 

You see, at 10 am I was due to begin teaching a day of creative loveliness at Little Lane Workshops.

I had prepped and prepared like never before, had some amazingly special people due to come, was going to see the lovely new premises, and was going to hug & see the lovely Sonia who owns Little Lane Workshops. I was SO EXCITED.

Not to mention, just me getting to Sydney is no small deal. It is about 350km drive from where I live, and because of my dodgy knee, I cannot drive till my surgeon says "okay"... So hubby does the chauffeuring! 

Additionally, (life is never dull) this particular weekend was not only my workshop weekend, but was also the weekend our Miss 9 had her big end of year ballet concert. You know, special hair, special makeup, early start, late finish & all associated ballet shizz. Hmmmm... 

Realising this was going to be tricky to pull off, I rang my parents who live in Newcastle, & they graciously agreed to drive the over 850km round trip, to spend a few days looking after the kids, & ensuring Miss 9 got to her concert. 

from the west we drove...

So you see, a LOT of people drove a lot of kilometres, & rejigged their schedules for me just to be in Sydney. 

Then there's Sonia - who had invested time,(and money) marketing, advertising, emailing, buying supplies...

Then there are the people who had paid their hard earned cash & committed their valuable time to attend the workshops. The people I care about & respect, because they are the ones who allow me to do this, teach & create. Lovely, lovely, lovely people. I knew they would have arranged babysitters too, caught buses & trains, travelled from nearby & some from far, have organised their time to be there.

So when at about 6AM Sunday morning, when I woke up feeling a little bit weird in my tum tum, I was filled with dread as well as squiffiness. NO!!!! PLEASE! NO!

Ick. I knew what was coming, because the previous week or so had been filled with me playing nursemaid & sympathetic Mummy to my 2 daughters as they moaned, groaned, spewed and pooed.

Eventually the squiffy became nastier, & the inevitable happened. A rush to the bathroom, & it had begun. BUT, I was sure, really sure, that maybe the 'bug' had now been expelled (surely) & with a little more sleep, & Panadol, I would wake up & be FINE. Okay... delusional I  now know. But at the time, it seemed reasonable. 

Because you see, it was not just the clawing beast of gastro doing circuits in my gut, but sheer panic, stress, & anxiety that was spinning around & around in my addled fevered head that was making me ill. The truly awful feeling of knowing that I was going to be letting so many people down. Fear that I will make them angry, & think me unreliable, unprofessional, lame. Anxiety that we had just spent time & money getting to Sydney for ZIP ZILCH NADA. And really really upset with myself for... just feeling like crap.

With all that swirling around, I collapsed in the shower. And then hubby found me, called Sonia, & the stumps were pulled up. 



swirly swirl swirly

From there it just got worse, if a bit comical too. Hubby knew he had to get me to the car, and he also knew I could not walk... so he tried getting one of those fancy bellboy large luggage trolleys, put pillows on it & attempted to move me on that. Epic Fail! 

Eventually the lovely people at the motel found a wheelchair for me at a nearby Sports Club, & I was able to be wheeled to the car, head lolling around delirious and mighty pretty.

Poor hubby. While I had slept, he had gone out & bought blankets(I had aches and pains, chills & shivers), a big bucket & spread around pillows & cushions in an attempt to create a little bed for me to lie down on. Bless his little cotton socks!

But somewhere along the freeway, going 110 km, after moaning and groaning in pain, I passed out again. Blacktown Hospital, hello and here we come. 

24 hours later, 5 bags of saline, an ECG, blood tests, scans, painkillers, lots of sleep and antibiotics later, I was allowed to go home, with a verdict of low blood pressure, dehydration, gastro & a kidney infection. 


my new Blacktown Hospital bangle

So nothing extreme, exciting, uncommon, special, newsworthy, or fantastically awful. Just enough to wipe me out for a few days, cause massive inconvenience, & wish I had shares in a toilet paper company.


Relieved. But not just because I knew that it was nothing too serious. But relieved too because of the kind and reassuring words from those around me. From Sonia at Little Lane Workshops, from my parents, from my hubby, from the doctors and nurses who treated me, from the kindness of the ladies at the motel who plied Jason with bottles of water for me. 



 friends make it all so much easier

Reassuring me that not only are people generally lovely, but the world would not end, that it will be okay. And yes, you can have more painkillers.


That the workshops will happen again next year, and life will go on. That your health and  wellbeing is number 1 priority. 

So I learnt something too. Not to panic - and that there are some other alternate titles for this blogpost really... which are just as apt.
  • WHEN YOU UNDERESTIMATE HOW KIND AND FORGIVING PEOPLE CAN BE
  • TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY
  • HOW LUCKY AM I TO LIVE IN THIS COUNTRY AND HAVE CLEAN GOOD HOSPITALS TO GO TO AND THANK GOODNESS FOR DRUGS, DOCTORS, HOSPITALS AND NURSES IN GENERAL 
  • FAMILY AND FRIENDS ARE JUST FABULOUS
  • A REALLY YUCKY DAY BUT IT WILL BE OKAY
  • THANK GOODNESS FOR GOOD PEOPLE
but probably most of all...


SOMETIMES SHITE JUST HAPPENS!







Monday, 28 November 2016

FAT MUM SLIM Photo a Day Alphabet Drawn, Alphabet photographed, Alphabet done... A month of drawing


ALPHABET DRAWN, ALPHABET PHOTOGRAPHED, ALPHABET DONE... 
A MONTH OF DRAWING






So a few months back this year, the insanely lovely Chantelle Ellem's (Fat Mum Slim) Photo A Day challenge on Facebook/Instagram had a month of Alphabet. Now because I am a totally ridiculous person who loves to just add more to their plate, I decided to do the whole month with every letter drawn, and a little drawing of something starting with that letter(of course) and a few props as well. It seemed straightforward enough. GAH! AS IF!






Silly old me, I should know better!!! I forgot to take into account that the month in question involved a whole lotta travelling, yep, and not being at home A LOT. DUH! I also failed to realise that it would mean selecting things I could actually draw (my drawing skills aren't actually all that great) reasonably quickly, but I would have to select things that went with the drawing that I had props for. 




Sure, it is true that I have lots of props. Tick that box. But I forgot that all the props I needed had to be SMALL and fit on a page for a square flatlay. It made it just a wee bit trickier. 




So I would lay in bed at night, or while driving in the car, and mentally go through the alphabet and try to figure out what the heck I was going to do. Eventually I wrote it all down in a notebook, scribbled some ideas and thoughts, and tried to organise in advance. Like for Z for Zipper, I saw some zippers at the op-shop in different colours, and stashed them away for a week until I got around to using them. I bought the X-ray skeleton pen with the image in my mind - as soon as I saw it at Typo it was clear that I needed it!





Of course, the wheels did fall off a few times. I went to Sydney and left behind the images and props I had pre-drawn and prepared. DUH AGAIN! Luckily, I always travel with sketchbook and pens, so I just redrew them while watching telly. But it meant that poor hubby was sent on a mercy dash to find glazed doughnuts very early one morning. He is so kind... the payoff was that he got to eat them when I was done!




Overall I was pleased with how it turned out. Some of the images were rushed, and not quite in focus. Some letters were pretty crappy and I look at them and wish I had redone them. Some I really like. The best part was when I was stumped about what to do and then an idea would strike. It was problem solving at its best, and I felt so chuffed with myself when it came together!



I must admit, it was tiring, even if it was fun. Definitely a challenge. But I felt enormously happy that I did complete the whole alphabet. The response to them was quite nice too, with people suggesting I turn them into cards, posters for kids, a book, or a wall frieze etc.  I would love to do that .. just not quite sure how to go about it. Will need to ponder that one a bit more. However, if you know any publishers who might be interested, let me know! Lol xxx Anyway, hope you like the selection shown here. What is your fave?


PS. Fat Mum Slim Challenge can be found on Facebook, or go to Fat Mum Slim's blog to find out more details!