Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Watery Challenge

Have you ever really thought about how remarkable water is? Being a farmers wife, I’ve always known how important it is - without water there is no life. So, it’s utterly essential. But, I have to confess, it wasn't until I started this Photo A Day Challenge with ABC Open that I’ve ever explored just what water is really capable of. Never really spent much time contemplating the many possible faces, facets and characters of water.

It can be peaceful, serene and soothing; as it appears here at sunset over Bell Lagoon Dam. This dam has featured here before - it is frequently the home to a pair of black swans, a pod of pelicans, or a raft of ducks - do yourself a favour and do a google search for the names of groups of things - fascinating stuff! Did you know that a group of Owls is called a Parliament? 

Water can also be dynamic and exciting - filling a balloon with water and bursting it, trying to catch the explosion of water, requires a very willing, waterproof helper; at least 6 water filled balloons ready to go; a camera set on continuous shooting and a good dash of persistence. The result, though, when you finally nail it, is thrilling. Or is that just because it started to thunder and pour rain right as we stuck the pin in the last full balloon, thus adding to the sense of urgency?

Water can also gush, as it does here, out of the hose off the water tanker that my baby ( he's 23, but still, he's my baby!) uses when he’s spraying crops. He’s not into wasting water though, and this is just the bit of water held in the hose after the taps are turned off. I had to be really quick to catch this one - though he did kindly help me out by pressing down quickly on the hose to push the last bit out in a gush.

All this attention to water has reminded me of the importance of attention, of noticing, of really seeing. It’s also given my creativity a much needed kick in the butt. Spending a little time each day contemplating how to make something as mundane as water coming out of a hose look interesting and visually appealing, while at the same time considering the technical requirements of actually getting the photo, has been surprisingly challenging and stimulating. 

The biggest challenge so far though, was “A fish swimming in water”. I have no fish. I live a long way from anyone with fish. Short of dumping a frozen fillet of flounder into a bucket of water, I was stumped. I was discussing my dilemma with my girls (they’re my sons wives, technically, but they’re still ‘my’ girls) and Leah quickly had a solution. Little Payton has a pair of floaties with an inflatable fish on top - terrible floaties for a small person, but you can cut the fish off, and send him swimming! Crisis averted. Not sure it will win any prizes for creative photography…but it kind of makes me smile.

There’s still a few days to go - and a quick look at the topics for each day reveal some more challenges ahead. Do you suppose cleaning the shower counts as “water sports”?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

I've just made a disturbing discovery. Sometime last year, in the middle of some epic convivial confusion, the email address used for receiving notification of your comments here was closed and I neglected to change it in the bowels of the settings here. So... Some of you have made lovely comments here, and it would appear you have been ignored! My most sincere apologies! I love to receive comments here. That glitch is all fixed up now, and I promise if you use your precious time to comment here, that I will respond!

For the month of February, I've accepted a photo-a-day challenge, run by Lisa Clarke from ABC Open. The theme is - can you guess?
That's a fun one. Lots of scope for getting that camera off auto and testing out what it can really do.
This was day two's challenge - Water Coming Out Of A Tap. This was taken with a really fast shutter speed to freeze the movement of the water as it shot out of my garden tap.
What's great about a challenge like this, is that it stretches you - makes you look at things closely; differently - and kick starts that creativity that may have become a little sluggish. ABC Open is great for that. They have projects on the go all the time - writing, photography and video - from all over Australia. You can get inspired by other peoples efforts, or jump up and create your own. Go check it out.
 Right now, I'm off for a walk to take today's photo - A River. Luckily, there's one a hundred yards or so from our back door, so locating it wont be a problem. Coming up with a creative way to take a picture of it, however, may be another matter, but, I'm up for the challenge.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Tale of Three Art Journal Pages

Just One Heart Art Journal Page
© 2014 Tracey Hewitt
One way and another, the art has been struggling for attention lately. What with plotting ways to spoil a new grandbaby, end of financial year, and a tiny change in our farm business structure (how is it that a tiny change necessitates a thousand phone calls, pieces of paper, and forms to fill in? It will forever remain a mystery...) just to name a few; the time available for creativity has been limited.
There are, thankfully, Art Journals. Smeared with paint, spattered with ink, heavy with bits and bobs glued in, and carrying no pressure to come up with anything special - just to pick up a brush, pencil or scrap of paper and slap something on a page. Aaahh.... balm for a careworn soul.
As I'm writing this, looking at Just One Heart up there, I realise there should be a comma after the word blooming. Oops! (As a self confessed grammar Nazi, that's going to bug me quite a bit!) The page was created with Dylusions Ink sprays, assorted stencils, a few bits of paper, coloured pencils, stamps and marker pens. The Art of Whimsical Lettering by Joanne Sharp delivered the inspiration to have a crack at some fancy lettering - which was tremendous fun!
Worry Art Journal Page
© 2014 Tracey Hewitt

So much fun, in fact, that there was more on the next journal page. Worry is a Misuse of your Imagination. I need this tattooed inside my eyelids! Not only a misuse, but probably a terrible waste of imagination as well. Constructed in a quite similar fashion to the first page, with acrylic paints instead of ink sprays, and a hand cut stencil. Manilla folders are infinitely more interesting used to cut a stencil than they could ever hope to be in my office.
Ink Calf Art Journal Page
© 2014 Tracey Hewitt

As life's path seemed to be walking me more and more towards cows and tractors (which I shouldn't complain about - that enterprise kind of keep us fed and clothed), and further away from the studio, I engaged that imagination, and decided to try bringing the farm to the journal. This little guy is brushed in Sumi ink (my current infatuation) over a stencilled, ink sprayed, and scrap paper collaged background. He's funky, but I think I love him.
A little story, for your information: I often add links to products, books, artists, places - pretty much anything that I think is great. Only because I use it, love it, just plain cannot live without it; and to make it easier for you to find more info about the things I'm waffling on about. No one pays me to give them a plug - it's all about the love!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Making Friends with Muriel - The Joy and Wonder of Art Journals

Making Friends With Muriel; Art Journal Page
©2014 Tracey Hewitt
Let me introduce you to Muriel. I think she is in fact a little older than she looks; and she is the face belonging to the voice inside my head. Some people would call her the "Inner Critic", there are probably a hundred titles we could give her. Please tell me you have one too? You know, the voice that tells you how much you suck; that you're too fat, too skinny, too loud, too.... you can fill in the space. That ever present nagging that you're not enough of the good stuff and too much of the not good stuff. A little while ago, she was getting real loud. It was time to deal with her. It started with some writing, and at some point, I burst out laughing, because I realised that she reminded me of my high school Home Economics teacher. This woman had a most unfortunate voice, and was possibly the most negative human being I had encountered in my fourteen or so years. She would hawk up some spit onto her fingers to wipe chalk from the blackboard, and, most unfortunately, would swipe her finger through one cake batter after another in the Home Ec kitchen, suck it off, and move on to the next bowl, until she had tasted them all - never washing that finger off. And yes, she probably had spat on it to clean the blackboard first. Toss in sarcastic and a tiny bit mean, and (not that I consider this a character flaw, but it affected my opinion of her back then) sorrowfully dowdy and dull.

But, back to Muriel. It was time, as I said, to put her in her place. A quick sketch with a water brush filled with Sumi Ink (which might just be the best fun you can have with any drawing instrument on earth), and suddenly, she was getting a makeover. Sparkly turquoise glasses, bright pink lips and a big, fat piece of my mind! Who knew that could be so much fun?

Again, I was reminded of the power of art. To start with a topic, subject or feeling that has negative aspects; express it with colour and movement, and through the process transform it completely. The great thing about it is this - it happens every time.

Muriel will forever live in my head, and sometimes, she has some useful stuff to offer - like "For heaven's sake, get OFF Facebook and DO something!" But, when she's being a cow; thinking about this journal page makes me smile, and quietly ignore her and get on with shooting for stars and aiming for awesome. (Neither of which I accomplish, but I figure it's good to set your sights high!)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Art Journaling - It Feels A Bit Like Therapy

Does this pile of luscious goodness look like fun to you?
How about all this snowy, fresh paper and clean brushes?

Wheel that trolley out onto my back verandah and into a gorgeous autumn afternoon, and the stage is set for some serious Art Journaling fun.
A while back, I sent out feelers to see if maybe one or two people might be keen to spend a bit of time here exploring a few art techniques and materials in the safety of their very own Art Journal. While I love where I live, it is a small community, and I thought I might be lucky if I could find any takers. To my surprise and delight - there were nine! All keen to excavate the creativity they hoped was buried in them someplace. 

Over the course of three hours, they were introduced to Dyelusions Sprays, Distress Stains, stamps, stencils and all kinds of markers and pens, which they used to create some really fun backgrounds and play with lettering styles. Of course, many of them (OK - most of them) looked a little horrified when I suggested it was time they write - in their own handwriting - in their journals. When I asked how many of them hated their own writing - hands went up all around the table. What I told them in essence, was this:
 Every mark we make, every word we write, comes from us. Is us. Our essence cant help but show up in everything we do. Hating our handwriting (substitute voice, thighs, drawing, tummy, crows feet, toes, teeth.... you get the idea) is to hate a unique and authentic part of ourselves.
I know we all do it (I am guilty of it often!) But, I'm coming to believe that we have more to give when we give ourselves a break. When we are OK with ourselves and our efforts.
I reckon they all found the tip of their creative icebergs. Which makes me really excited for next week, when we'll have a play with acrylic paints, try drawing faces and dedicate a page to our Inner Critics. I've named mine "Muriel" (apologies to any wonderful and beautiful Muriel's out there...) and she can be a real shrew. Should be fun to share our stories and see the portraits these great girls create of their own versions of Muriel.

Friday, April 18, 2014

New Inspiration - for Pencil Sketching, and all kinds of things!

Payton #1 © 2014 Tracey Hewitt
Pencil 12cm x 12cm
We've had some big news around here.... A granddaughter! This post has been written, rewritten, scrapped and started over a number of times now. Then, I remembered that I wrote a letter to this baby girl the night she was born. Not quite your run of the mill, regular post, but then again, a family's first grand baby is not quite your run of the mill, regular experience is it?

Dear Payton,
Today we met you for the first time. New to this world- just hours old - I was captivated at once. Maybe one day, many years from now, I'll remember this letter and give it to you - a memory of one of the most favourite days of my life.
It rained! All day. And we had been hoping so hard and needing it for so long, which made it even more wonderful. Much like we hoped so hard for you. I feel as though I have loved you forever already - certainly since I saw you swimming around in your Mums belly at her first scan. And even before that, when you were just a possibility and we hoped so hard you would decide to stay and grow. And today, on the day of  my first baby - your Dads - birthday, you joined us in this mad, happy, crazy, wild, fun, fantastic circus called life, and our hearts are so happy.
It's difficult to describe how I feel tonight - excited, happy, content, nervous, pleased, thrilled- a whole lot of emotion all rolled up together, and full, my heart feels full. Thankful, grateful, full. I'm sitting quietly, listening to the rain on the roof - one of my favourite sounds, and thinking of you, of your tiny, perfect face, little bit of soft hair and wee fingers and toes. You had so many visitors today, and you slept and ate and were not the slightest bit amazed by the excitement your entrance into the world had caused.
We had a cuddle, you and I, and the world felt perfectly right. 
I know that as you grow and the years pass there'll be times you are sad and unsure, times you doubt yourself - you're human and we all do that. But I hope that through all those times, I can help you remember you are a miracle. You are perfect exactly as you are in any moment and magical in your ability to bring joy just by being in a room (that will never change for me, nor, I expect, anyone else in that room with you today).
So, on this ordinary, rainy day, while the newspapers ran headlines about a Malaysian Aeroplane that disappeared without a trace, and our Govenors General, Quentin Bryce (the retiring one) and Peter Cosgrove (the new one) have been announced a Dame and a Sir, and the republicans are getting all worked up about it, and most of the world was going about its business as if it were any other day; we know better. Today was a special day. The day Payton came to live on planet Earth as part of our family. And we are so very happy you are here.
Welcome to the world precious girl. I can't wait to get to know you, and the wonderful person you will become. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Rocks, Owls and "Pinspiration"

Do you ever find yourself in a creative blue funk, hankering for a bit of fun?
Have you discovered Pinterest? (It's only fair to warn you that Pinterest has the potential to inspire you to such an extend that you may be rendered mute and motionless, continuing to flick through ever more amazing images, and not actually doing a thing! Ask me how I know....)
This little family of Rock Owls was the result of my latest blue-funk-busting, fun-craving wanderings. The idea came from a 'pin' shared with me by my daughter-in-law Caitlyn, of a funky little owl family, much like this one, created by Carolyn Johansson for her Etsy store. They seem so much cooler than the 'pet rocks' of my youth!

A pile of stones, a couple of Sharpie marker pens in different nib thicknesses, a metallic gold felt tip pen, a white journalling pen and an hour or so of doodling; and voilĂ ! Blue funk officially busted, fun had AND a cute bunch of Owls to decorate a shelf on the back verandah.
Sometimes we're so busy being serious and focused on 'important' stuff that we forget the really important stuff - goofing off, taking the pressure down and just having some fun. I am really grateful to Caityln for sharing; to Carolyn for inspiring; and to my small friend Tilly, who arrived part way through and created a couple of rocks of her own, reminding me how wonderful it was to be five years old, in the moment and  free of self doubt.
If only I found the pictures of enticing food and organised tidy cupboards and weight loss workouts equally inspiring! What's your favourite thing to search for on Pinterest?