Category Archives: writing

A thought on personal and individual style.

symbols in home

What is individual style? I have been thinking about this and have come up with a few thoughts about it. To me personal style transcends your home, your studio, your art, your creative endeavours. They are all just manifestations of your style. Your style is you. It is what makes you a unique person on this planet. Style is a reflection of your genuine self, your expression of who you are. Style is understanding who you are and being extremely at ease with that.

Your personal style is partly what others see, it is your art and your creations, your thoughts expressed, your home, and your community. As I think about this I see images from my home, my art, my studio and my journals – all different but threads of the same things – old symbols (hearts, circles, crosses), text and use of letters and words, old patina’s and vintage finds. Trees, beaches, bridges, buildings, houses all feature in my style, as does finding old nests, collecting sea-glass, rocks and shells, quirky finds and birds, horses, growing food, and history all interest me. Writing musings, journalling and playing with mixed media, painting big abstract paintings and trying to do photography everyday are my style. Noticing things others might miss and finding beauty in everyday things are my style. My style is thinking in interconnected circles but writing in bullet points.

Your style is also how you live. Being a mum to four kids will always be my first priority. That’s my style too. Like many of us, I am juggling everyday – the divergent needs and demands of a large complicated and blended family, working to earn income, running, and try to find space in my day to create, fitting in all the other messy stuff in between, that’s my style too.

I am a mother to three boys rapidly moving into that strange place between being men and boys, and one 4 year old princess fairy. A writer and keen blogger. I am a runner. I am a photographer. I am an artist. I am creative. I dream of Italy and of visiting Europe one day. I dream of living closer to the land, but also (ironically) closer to the city centre and so I can smell and hear the sea. I dream of my three sons as babies and wonder at their journey into being young men. I love my pink, sparkly princess who has in a thousand different ways saved me from myself through this process with her enormous smiles, delicious cuddles and piles of charm, giggles and songs. All of this, is part of me.

What has running got to do with style? Running is very much apart of who I am now, after I put on my trainers one year ago exactly and ran to the first lamp post then walked the next two. I run to clear my mind, to think straight, to have my body hurt in a good way. I run so no one can see tears occasionally. I run to have a few precious moments when no-one needs me. Running gives me space to plan, dream and plot. It takes time but it also makes me more creative and more efficient. I also see things that I don’t see when driving or distracted by tasks and errands. They are all part of my style.

Is style is the only thing you have left when you strip everything back to its barest state. Or is style is an individual and original point of view delivered with confidence? Or, the culmination of all the parts of a life brought together? Or is style really just having curiosity, a sense of spirit and confidence in yourself?


January meanderings…

yellow flower

I saw these unusual flowers, like big bright yellow round blobs of sunshine on the end of bendy sticks waving in the grasses while out on a walk recently. Yellow is not my favourite colour but they were so unusual, having no leaves or petals and so brilliant yellow, that I had to stop and admire them in their coastal garden.

Yellow, to me means transformation. I don’t really know why, but when I see yellow, I think of change. Maybe its from the years I spent in Canada and the yellow of leaves representing the changing seasons? Whatever the reason, I have been thinking about change a lot.

I realised this week, that I can not really call myself an artist, having not painted in over a year. I have dabbled in creating some mixed media pieces, but really apart from my journals, photography and writing, I haven’t really created anything of note. Worse of all, my art room – my studio – has sat empty, neglected and abandoned for most of 2013. It had turned into a dumping ground for all sorts of unwanted stuff (and not in an eclectic, interesting, creatively inspiring kind of way, but more a “I don’t want to set foot in there” kind of space)…it was a sorry sight – curtains closed, cobwebs taking over, and boxed piled up…. That I had not used it in such a long time really shook me. So yesterday, in a fit of new year/new attitude, I emptied it, cleaned it, sorted it and only put back in those treasures that inspire me. I turned it into “my space” again…a space to create (although I have packed my paints away) and to write.

There is a story to be told, a thread that runs through my blogging – a story about change…about life turning out not quite how you expect, and about a dream and a search for a more creative/more inspired life and this is the year it happens. There may be less art in the way of painting this new year, but I think there will be plenty of photography, writing, running, and musings on life, love, inspiration in the everyday, raising kids and all the messy bits in between.


Pausing to smell the roses…

spring blossoms in my garden

Creativity ebbs and flows, it shifts and moves. Sometimes you think you have none left. Not a single idea. Writers call it “writer’s block”. That frustrating space when nothing seems new, a blank page seems daunting, ideas seem stupid, and life seems to takeover – days go by and you realise that the most creative thing you have done is write a grocery list…

Then  after a pause, creativity flows again. I used to worry that my creativity had “gone” somewhere – possibly never to return again, but now I know that these pauses are just that – pauses…

I now trust that I will burst forth again after a period of creative down time…with renewed spirit, fresh plans, ideas and new creative thoughts. Like the spring roses that follow winters bare branches, we too have to trust that we will burst into inspired creativeness again. 

Roses in my garden today – enjoy!

 


encountering the familiar…

coast lines

 

Familiar sights are reassuring. They give us a sense of home, of belonging. But sometimes they become taken for granted, and are not appreciated for their beauty because the scene has become so common to us. Perhaps Parisian’s feel that way about the Eiffel tower also? Because of this nonchalance, we may long for fresh views, new sights, and different experiences. But sometimes we just need to step back and the see the same thing with fresh eyes. We can think about the familiar sights and how they might seem to a person who has not seen them before or recall how we feel when we have been away, look from a different perspective or view point, or instead of looking, use other senses…there are a million ways we can encounter the familiar in an an familiar way and experience our familiar landscape again for the first time.


Why not tempt fate?

tempt fate

Initially this mixed media image said “Don’t tempt fate”. I like it far better compositionally without the “Don’t” word – it just looks better! I also like the message itself far more without its authoritative and negative “don’t” attached.

If fate is where/who/what we are pre-destined be in the future…then I say let’s start by knowing the place where our heart feels most glad, where our bones rest best, where we are loved most and where we are most free to be ourself.

Tempt fate – mixed media piece – found papers, stamps, ephemera and a “Tempt” store brochure (very nice store in New Plymouth).


Up the garden path…

garden query

I found the image of the garden path…it led me to a thought about people who come and go in your life and those who stay…The question I had was…who will walk with me..today? And in the future?

Some people come and go in your life and that’s ok. What matters is not who walks the path with you when it is wide, smooth, and clear for miles but who is also there when it gets narrow, rocky and hard to see.


The touch of humanity…

The instinctive and ferociously strong grasp of a newborn infant’s hand as it reaches out to make contact with the person holding him close, sensing a familiar heartbeat and a known soothing voice, creates a powerful image. A grasp so powerful and deliberate yet coming from someone so unbelievably delicate and tiny is a reminder of the power of touch to bond us as family.

Touch… we can’t live without it. We fail to thrive without touch. It is as instinctive as breathing.  Even a tiny baby reaching out knows how important it is.  A baby’s instinctive grasp holds a message, “I belong here”.

 

 

 


When the light shifts

Late July 2013 015

to dusk and then nightfall, what follows is a new day. Sometimes a new day is a metaphor for looking at things in a new light.

I too, have been looking at things in a new light, trying to make sense of where I am, and where I am headed as I try to take all my loosely formed ideas and focus them in a business plan. (How do you turn your hopes and dreams into tangible goals?).

The key question in my mind is what would a “creatively inspired life” really look like for me? The answer is one where I am fully living the life I aspire to live, one focused on photography, writing, inspiring others and being creative. But how????

To continue to focus on writing (blogging) and photographing what inspires me and seemingly what resonates with others is crucial. But, I want to be more personal. More real. Less trees and sunsets…more heartfelt, more of me and I want to hear more of you, too. We are in this community together.

So, here is the real deal…I am still and always will be a mother first, to my four beautiful children. I am also a writer, a photographer, an artist, and am still seeking to carve out a life through my creative outlets. I work a few hours a week in project management, an important link to my former career and I love it for its completely different challenges, an opportunity to really “make a difference” and to be involved in transforming public spaces for people. I love it, almost as much as I love writing and photographing.

I am divorced, yes, and scarily find myself forty(ish) and have over the last few years gone through a completely unexpected, utterly horrendous custody battle over care of our three sons. It has nearly destroyed me in the process. But like a butterfly I am determined to emerge from this experience stronger and a more beautiful person. These things that come along that nearly break us, ultimately make us stronger. The experience doesn’t define me, but it is a big part of my story. Just as moving from career-aspiring woman to “professional artist” is.

Black Box Art Studio still exists – but it has morphed into a different space – photographic studio, writing space, journals and a laptop all jostle for space amongst paint, glue, canvases, a printing press and old suitcases full of assorted papers, stamps and inks…I still don’t know what it all means…but I know that what’s coming is different from what came before.

Black Box Art Studio – it is still about “art, life and the messy bits in between”, but it is now quite apparently more than that…it is the real journey toward my dream of living the life I dream of.. “A creatively inspired life”.

It starts now. Apparently with a business plan.


leaving a mark…

symbols

Symbolism runs deep in human species, and the same symbol can mean entirely different things to different people, at different times, places, cultures, beliefs and customs. I don’t really know what these symbols mean to the person(s)/artist(s) who made them… they are familiar but strange, they feel personal but universal…modern but ageless…urban but primitive.

They are permanent marks on the landscape. I wonder if they are a sign, a message, a story, or a reminder of something important – something the maker wanted others to know? Why do we humans, feel a need to leave a mark…from the first hand print on a cave wall, to now…we have a compelling urge to say “I was here”.

All our hearts carry primitive marks, held privately, and known only to our own hearts…unique symbols of love, loss, victory, grief, courage? But if we were to display our ancient symbols – what we stand for, what we are, who we are, where we are from, what we have done, loved, lost, survived…what if they were on display?

What would my symbol look like?


Outside the comfort zone…

Victorian_print

You may have noticed that I haven’t been doing any photography recently, or any painting. Or blogging for that matter. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been creative. I have in fact been pushing myself in an entirely new but related creative direction – getting to grips with digital media  and learning how to use Photoshop for creative expression.  Here is one of two “creatures” I have had to create from 10 of my other photographs – a composite image. It’s not technically perfect (I am a beginner in this area, after all), but it is part of my creative journey of creating and exploring and learning. True  to my own style, it is full of symbols, includes text, has rich colour, high contrast, and a sense of drama. I hope it creates a feeling that there is a story to be told. It is one of two images that attempt to answer  questions about ancestry and belonging.

Here is the other image. They are very different but both part of the same story.

tui lady for print 27062013

When we challenge ourselves creatively (or mentally or physically) and push outside of our comfort zone, when we shun the familiar and comfortable and when we try something different, new, challenging or difficult – its not easy. It can feel scary, intimidating and weird. You can feel, like I did, clumsy and awkward, and deeply frustrated at times.  But now  I can see the effort was worth it… this is literally “my ideas brought to life by me” through new skills I have learned. That’s a nice feeling for any artist – to be challenged and to grow creatively.


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