Tuesday, June 30, 2015

An Uncomfortable Model

Later this year, my creative efforts and I are off to Bush Christmas - an exhibition showcasing the work of rural and remote artists and artisans, held in Toowoomba in December, and I'm pretty stoked to announce that yours truly is to be the Featured Exhibitor for Day One of the exhibition.

What that means, is that I'll be there, set up with some goodies from my studio, ready to chat with anyone who is prepared to stand still for a minute, and share the delight of colourful, fun materials. There is potentially going to be a product addition to my offerings this year... There is a book in the pipeline! But more about that, later.

For now, the fabulous Bush Christmas organisers need photos and information to update their website and begin promotion. 

This is my least favourite part of this job. As a model, I make a good cook; and I agonise for hours over what to write about myself that people will find interesting to read. Thankfully, my daughter-in-law, Caitlyn, knows her way around a camera, and proved skillful in sneaking some shots of "the artist at work in her studio" that didn't leave me feeling awkward. 

I think she did a great job, and I particularly love this photo, with DO IT NOW on the inspiration board behind me. Not only because the kick-in-the-pants directive is helpful; but the focus is off me! 

When our "photo shoot" was finished, I bit the bullet and wrote the 'about me' piece to accompany the profile picture:

In between knocking up mustering smokos, doing budgets and bookwork, and managing the office for our Central Queensland family farming business; I create artwork, write, and prepare art journaling classes for people who are keen to flex their creativity, but aren’t sure where or how to start. I believe every human possesses an innate desire and capability to create, and have made it my business to help others unearth and explore that desire. Their eyes light up, shoulders loosen and they smile. A lot. I have a passionate belief in the transformative power of creativity.

Gleefully abandoning an art teaching degree in the 80’s to marry my salt of the earth farmer, my city upbringing gave way to the adventure of country life, where I’ve spent thirty years raising three high spirited sons, while fine tuning my skills in fine art, photography, writing and textiles. Ironically, the art teaching I was anxious to flee from has become a source of delight and fulfilment.

I have a tendency to think a lot more than I speak - there’s lots going on in my head. I have a thing for funky cowgirl boots, yoga, and soulful conversations; and my grandbabies think I sing the best “Incy Wincy Spider” the world has ever heard. Others might disagree.

Over the years, Bush Christmas has been a catalyst for a lot of amazing opportunities for me, along with the many other talented artists and artisans who exhibit there. You can follow Bush Christmas on Facebook for a look at some of the clever work happening in sheds and studios all over rural Queensland, and New South Wales. 

I'm off to the studio to get busy... safe and secure in the knowledge that I won't need to smile for the camera for a couple more years!

Monday, June 15, 2015

She Could Be Anywhere - Art Journal Page
©2015 Tracey Hewitt
 For some inexplicable reason - known only to the Gods of confusion - things have been chaotic here for the past couple of weeks.  New babies, growing babies, special visitors, annual reviews, feeding the multitudes, tax provisions, weaning calves, birthdays, unexpected departures, physiotherapy, coaching sessions, and home butchering - are just a few of the things that have landed on my plate lately. 

So it felt really wonderful to claim an hour in the studio and let it all pour out onto the page.

This little lovely has a background of acrylic paint and torn book pages on watercolour paper, while she herself has been brought to life with Prismacolour Pencils. 

Sometimes, when I feel like I'm done with the drawing, some words will want to be added to the page. 

"She could be anywhere... and she chooses here... with her heart in her throat"

are the words that fell out of the white paint pen and onto the page. (Have I ever told you how much I adore that Sharpie white paint marker pen? It's a cracker!) And, while this face was never intended to be me; those words feel like they belong to me this week. Of all the places I might ever have ended up; I am here. I choose here. Even when things are hectic and demanding. Even when I struggle to find time for the things I need to do; much less the things I long to do. Here is where I choose to be. 
Even when my heart is in my throat. I still choose here. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015


Until fairly recently, our family's focus has been solely on breeding cattle. These days, the human breeding programme is escalating beyond any ones expectations.

I was touched when the youngest of our princes - Keelan, and his wife Madi, asked me to take a few pictures of them in the last days of her pregnancy, to commemorate the bump. This picture was one of the last shots, taken while furiously whirling knobs and dials on the camera - adjusting aperture, and shutter speed, and all kind of things to try and catch them in silhouette, with that amazing sky. Thankfully, they took care of conveying the tenderness part that this shot really needed - I could hardly see them through the viewfinder, and was, at that point, laying flat out on the grass in a most bizarre and undignified position. I'm probably not going to tell you how many shots it took to get this one lovely one. Suffice to say there were more than one on the camera that were immediately deleted because they were completely black.

This precious bump will be Grand baby number three for us, and another one, due in a couple of months, will make four, in just over a year. People around us seem to think this is some kind of amazing turn of events - I guess going from no grand kids to four so quickly doesn't happen to everyone!

It's a tremendous joy and privilege to watch our sons make their families... and this grandparent thing is the sweetest gig ever! I have to confess though, that while I adore these little babies, there is a part of me that's itching to paint and draw and create up a storm with these tiny humans... right now though, Payton, who is 14 months is only interested in eating the sidewalk chalk, and Levi, at 4 months is a long way from even being interested in it at all... so I guess I'm going to have to be patient, and make the most of the wonderful photo opportunities in the meantime. Looking at this photo is occurs to me that this would make a fantastic stencil/mask for a journal page. I'll work on that just as soon as I've sung Incy Wincy Spider with Payton (complete with actions)  and snuggled with Levi until he wriggles to a spot with his nose in my armpit... it's his favourite position - go figure!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Serious Fun

Seriously. Fun is serious stuff.

This little tin came into our lives as the packaging for a rally car drive gift certificate. And no, it wasn't me doing the rally driving! I leave that thrill seeking stuff to the man in my life (the one I married - though the ones I gave birth to are all up for that as well, as I think about it!) I was, however, quick to grab the tin, and squirrel it away in the studio, because, really...what could be better than to open your traveling art supplies tin and be reminded that what you're doing is Serious Fun? 

There is a group of Serious Fun seekers hanging out here with me on a Sunday afternoon lately... I'm teaching them the basics of art journaling (and art, as well, with a focus on low pressure and low anxiety) and, as is inevitable when one teaches, they teach me things as well. One of the important things I keep discovering is what a great benefit it is for grown up women (and men!) to set aside their responsibilities and obligations for a couple of hours and just muck about and have some fun. To play. They leave looking somehow lighter, and brighter; and seeing that is Serious Fun for me.

This trolley (which my Dad made for me many years ago) has seen duty in my life for all manner of purposes. It's current role is by far my favourite. All those drawers are chock full of inks, sprays, pens, pencils, pastels, paints, stencils, stamps, watercolours, tapes..... so many opportunities for Serious Fun in there; and it can wheel out of the studio and onto the verandah, where all my Serious Fun seeking companions can dip in and share in the fun with me. 

Play is recognised as being critical to childrens development... and there's more and more evidence that it has powerful importance for adults as well. (Check out the writing of Brene Brown if you need  any convincing). I know for sure that I've got more to give and am much nicer to be around if there's been a little play time in my day. How about you? What counts as Serious Fun in your world? I'm always on the lookout for an opportunity to have fun - tell me what works for you!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Learning the Hard Way

Say Hello to Casper. He's an old man now - by cat standards, at least. Well into his sixteenth year, he - along with his brother Garfield - has been part of our lives for over half of our kids lives. He's an introvert. He hates lots of people, and new people freak him out so much, he's been known to quietly disappear to the shed when visitors arrive, only to return after three or four weeks living on mice and sleeping in the hay when he's sure the intruders have departed. Unlike Garfield, he is NOT fond of cuddles (or BBQ chips, but that's another story for another day), and might choose to come and sit close beside you if it's cold; or, if you're trying to perform a task which is made much more difficult by the appearance of a cat under your arm!

Casper pretty much does his own thing- as is the want of most felines - and provided he is fed frequently (he isn't actually all that good at catching mice) mostly keeps to himself and out of my way. Most of the time...

Which brings me to this:

This is my Peerless Watercolour Palette. See how the left side is all crisp and white looking? And how muddied and watery and splotchy looking it gets towards the left side? I guess it's my own fault, but, is the weird green pond water in my paintbrush water jar really more appealing than the fresh, clean water in your cat bowl, Casper? Apparently. So much more appealing in fact, that he not only drinks out of it, but knocks it over, all over the studio bench, drenching my journal, causing pages to run, and - most alarmingly - drowning my favourite watercolour palette and discharging all that delicious colour. 

As you might have guessed, I was pretty bummed about this. Actually, "bummed' doesn't put near a fine enough point on it, but it's somewhat unladylike and undignified to swear about it and put into print the words I uttered at the time. 

Casper has done this before - numerous times, but, I'd been lucky that nothing got damaged - usually just a puddle of nasty greeny looking water on the bench, and me muttering to myself that I need to learn not to leave the water jar full when I'm done in the studio, before the spill wreaks havoc with something special. 

Sometimes, we seem to have to learn things the hard way. Reminds me of that John Wayne quote. 
"Life is tough. It's tougher if you're stupid."
I'm off right now to empty that bloody brush water jar, before Casper decides he's a feline Michelangelo.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Sometimes, You Just Have To Do It Your Own Way  Art Journal Page

©2015 Tracey Hewitt
There’s been a lot going on here over the past week. Most dramatically, a shed fire. Another one. It’s been a while since the hay shed went up in flames – seven years, I think – but, surely one shed fire in a lifetime is enough for anyone – right? Maybe not. This one had no hay in it… but it did have an old Toyota, a ride on lawnmower, and a few other very useful bits and pieces; as well as a tractor parked right beside it. Not anymore. That thing’s now a pile of molten metal and ash.
However, my precious daughter-in-law and granddaughter, who were the only ones around for quite a distance when they noticed they had an ENORMOUS campfire - and no marshmallows - are safe and unharmed. Their house, which was closer than any of us would have liked to the fire, is also safe and sound. Bullet dodged, fire out, and heavy sighs of relief heaved.
The fire has nothing to do with the next thing on the agenda - but everything to do with this journal page - which is teaching another round of ArtJournaling classes, which might be some of the best fun it's possible to have! The page you see here is the result of some preparation sample and demo pieces for the classes. It also started with some writing about that fire. This is what is so transformative about the Art Journaling process (well, really about any creative process, but I love art journaling, because it truly is accessible to anyone). You can write out your worries and your woes, get lots of crap off your chest, and proceed to obliterate it with funky colours, patterns and scribbles, transforming that icky experience completely. You can still see snippets of the writing in odd places, which ultimately become just another layer of line and form.

Detail:  Sometimes, You Just Have To Do It Your Own Way

This was put together using mostly spray inks, stencils, and a mask I cut based on a photo of Keelan on his wedding day, as he was walking toward the altar. (Or, to be more precise, the gate and arch set up in front of the garden bed in our backyard for the ceremony.)
The stencil had been cut, waiting to be used for a while, and I grabbed it without thinking too much - just needed to get the page done, and I was keen to see how this mask would come up. It morphed from an account of  blazing destruction; to cool, strong colours carrying a great sense of independence and hope for the future. I don’t know about you, but that feels pretty transformative to me.                                                                                                                                                                            

Friday, April 10, 2015


Grow  -  Art Journal Page

©2015 Tracey Hewitt
I'm wracking my brain trying to remember a quote about trees - knowing when to rest and lay dormant, and when to burst into magnificent flower and all that poetic stuff. Essentially, it's about how we need times of fallow to rest and regroup and build strength readying ourselves for the moment when we flower magnificently. Or something along those lines.

This art journal page is partly about such a notion. It was an odd page for a long time; when I'm splashing around paint and ink and generally making a mess, I hate to waste pigment - so there's always a page or two in the journal with smears and splotches where I've wiped off a stencil, or used up a brush, cleaned off a stamp, or tested a new art supply. These pages often have a few interesting areas in them, but can get overly busy to do much more with. I've been admiring this technique of over painting large areas of a page, leaving bits of those busy pages showing through, and decided this would be a good page to try this on.

Not much thought went into this - a quick outline with a China Marker, and on with a layer of black gesso. That looked OK, but it needed a little bit of something else. So, the ever trusty White Sharpie Poster Paint Marker to the rescue! Outlining this growing little plant was a good start... but it still wanted something more...

I started to write around the edges, and began with the first word that came into my head. Grow. the rest goes like this:

Grow she said...
Grow and stretch and expand and discover the amazing things you can do with this wondrous  life you've been given.
Open up, take deep breaths and inhale possibility.
Let go of the thoughts and beliefs that hold you back.
You were sent here to shine
So be free
Be bold
Be brave and find your wings and fly.
So the world can have the very best of you.
Everyone's waiting.

Then off I went to chase the horse out of the garden (they love to eat my palm trees - go figure!), forgetting all about the words that found their way onto the page.

Fast forward a few days. Reading this again, I love these words. They are my prayer for you - for all of us. The last line - "Everyone's Waiting" - were stuck on the end because there was a small space that needed filling Now, that lines feels the most powerful.

Let's not keep everyone waiting any longer. Let's grow, shall we?