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‘Pink isn’t just a color, it’s an attitude!’ Miley Cyrus.

Stories from my Sketchbook  . . .

When I pulled into my driveway a couple of days ago I was greeted by a largeand extremely rowdyflock of pink and gray galahs foraging for their supper on my front lawn.  I am not sure whether they had been rowdy for as long as they had been there, or whether they just became so when I drove in, but they certainly weren’t backwards in coming forwards in venting their feelings about my untimely intrusion  . . .

I think that is one of reasons I like them so much.  I love critters with ‘attitude’ (as if you hadn’t guessed) and galahs really have that.  In spades.

Being mostly pink just kicks things up another notch . . .

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Perfect is the enemy of good.’ Volatire.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

One of the (many) issues I have when sketching is knowing when to stop.  If I am not entirely happy with where my sketch is going (and, let’s face it, I rarely am) I will inevitably end up tinkering and fussing with it, ad nauseam, in a vain attempt to ‘get it right’.  Of course I never do get it right and, quite often, I make it worse . . .

Last month, in an attempt to get over myself in this regard, I took a short online Sktchy course called ‘Make Your Mark’ run by artist Joan Martin.   The course appealed to me because I was told I would be using materials and techniques I had probably not used before and this would, hopefully, force my work to become looser and more expressive.  It would also, I was promised, teach me to learn to accept the limitations of the materials I was using, and become more creative with my ‘mistakes’.

And, as far as I am concerned, the course delivered on its promises.  Although I did use some materials I had used before (paints, inks, pencils etc ) I also used them in ways I hadn’t tried before.  For instance, I have sketched with biros quite often but I had never sketched with a great big fat marker pen in one hand and a biro in the other—using both hands at the same time!  That was trippy.  It just about did my head in and the results were somewhat bizarre to say the least!  In other exercises I moved paint around with the edges of credit cards or torn up cardboard and I painted with pipettes and feathers and string.  I even used candle wax . . .

The sketch below began as an exercise where we were asked to scrub an ordinary white wax candle randomly across our paper.  This formed a barrier of resistance (in varying degrees) across the page—and consequently did really weird things with the graphite and pens I tried to use over the top of it.  (I nearly wore a hole in the paper trying to get doggo’s nose right!)  However, as promised, it also produced some really cool, unexpected results . . .

Was I entirely happy with all (any?) of the sketches I produced while working my way through this course? Not even close (some of them were just plain awful) but there’s no denying I learned a lot.  And it was fun to try out some new techniques and materials.   I feel I’ve become a tad more adventurous and a little more accepting of my own abilities.

As to that ‘knowing when to stop’ issue—well, I’m still working on that.  Perhaps this old dog and I can teach each other a few new tricks  . . .

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Orchids were not made by an ideal engineer; they are jury-rigged from a limited set of available components.’ Stephen Jay Gould.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . . 

The girls and I found a little fairy glen when we were out walking this week.  While taking a not-often-used shortcut through a little bush track, amongst the usual undergrowth of scrub, discarded gumtree bark, fallen acacia pods, roo-poo and other general bush detritus, was a clump of little white orchids.  (At least I think they were some kind of orchid. For all I know about plants they could have just as easily been some type of daisy, but for this post let’s just assume they were orchids . . . )

Orchids, I later discovered, are the largest family of plants in the world. There are apparently 25,00030,000 different species of which at least 10,000 can be found in the tropics alone.  They come in extreme variations of size, weight and colour.  Some orchids are only the size of a small coin when in bloom, while others can weigh up to one ton with petals as long as 30 inches, and sprays of flowers 1214 feet long. Orchid blossoms also appear in almost every colour imaginable, except for true black.

I think this sketch originally started off as being that of an orchid (although not the same species I saw in the bush I hasten to add) but as I was also playing around with colour and texture at the time I am not sure the finished product would ever be recognised as such.  My little wannabe-orchid seemed to become ever more triffid-like as the drawing progressed . . .

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Having a two-year-old is like having a blender that you don’t have a top for.’ Jerry Seinfeld.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

For the past week my girls and I have been playing host to a lovely wee dog called ‘Cinder’.  I am not sure Cindy is quite two years old yet (she might be just short of that) but I have to say, after living in her exuberant wake for the past week, I reckon Jerry Seinfeld’s blender analogy is spot on . . .

Cindy has stayed with us before but not for a whole week and I was a little concerned about how that would go.  Earlier visits had only been for a weekend or a few days and I had been at home to supervise.  This time I was going to be out working for a good part of her visit, and, as anyone who has fur-children knows full-well, you are never entirely sure what’s going on at home when you’re not around.

I tried to prepare my girls for Cindy’s impending arrival with constant reminders‘Cindy’s coming to stay for a while.  You remember Cindy, don’t you?  She’s a lovely girl.  You liked Cindy . . . ‘ so they had plenty of time to brace themselves but, unfortunately, as little dogs are wont to do, they often hear only what they want to hear.  The look my my Mabel gave me when Cindy actually launched herself through our front door . . .

Now don’t misunderstand me, Cindy is a lovely girl and a very sweet-natured dog.  She’s polite, affectionate and well-mannered and there isn’t a mean bone in her body, but my girls are all grown up now (I still can’t quite believe they are all now classed as ‘senior’ dogs) and they like their little routines and their quiet life . . . and I guess we had all kind of forgotten just how much energy a young dog can have!

Take going for a walk, for instance.  Walking my girls these days consists of a short saunter to the park where I let them off their leads so they can bimble about in the undergrowth and check out (and pee on) all the new smells that have been deposited since our last visit, followed by a slow wander home.  It’s all quite sedate.  Not so this week . . .

I quickly discovered I couldn’t let Cindy off her lead at all.  I did try once, in the early early morning when there was nobody else around and I imagined there would be less to distract her.  I don’t know what I was thinking.  Apparently anything can distract you when you are not quite 2.  I spent the next 30 minutes trying to coax her to come back to me.  She would come juuuust within reach and then . . .  whoosh . . .  she was galloping off again, laughing madly as she went.  Cindy thought that was the BEST.GAME.EVER.  

(I, on the other hand, was terrified she would fixate on something really exciting and head off into the swamp . . . or the river . . . or across the road and down the street  . . . and I’d be left having to explain the dire consequences to her mum!)

But, differing energy levels aside, it was a good week.  My initial concerns about leaving Cindy alone in the house with my girls all day proved to be unfounded.  Apart from a couple of thoroughly deconstructed and de-stuffed doggie toys (it’s astonishing to me how much stuffing can come out of one little toy) and, on one occasion, coming home to a rather wild-eyed and ruffled Molly (who Cindy occasionally tried to use as her own personal squeaker toy) there were no major dust-ups or dramas and yesterday Cindy was delivered, happy, excited (and unharmed) back to her mother.

Today we are almost back in routine.  Most of the debris has been cleared away (although I am still finding stuffing in the oddest places), special favourite toys (which I had, thankfully, the foresight to store safely away before our visitor arrived) have been returned and much needed nap-time has been (and, in some cases, is still being) caught up on.

It’s all good.

Cindy—resting after from one of her romps around the park.

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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‘I don’t believe in ageing. I believe in forever altering one’s aspect to the sun.’ Virginia Woolf.

Today is my birthday.  I am 59.

Several people have already reliably informed me that ’59 . . . is nearly 60′, followed by the inevitable‘So . . . how do you feel . . . being nearly 60?’

Well, to be perfectly honest, I hadn’t really thought about it much (so thanks for the reminder guys) but now the question has been asked I am a little surprised to find there are actually quite a lot of things about being ‘nearly 60’ that I really like.

For a startI like still being around.  Many people aren’t so fortunate so I view 59 years as somewhat of an achievement in itself.

I like that things that caused me a good deal of worry or angst or upset in the past now barely give me a moment’s pause.  (It’s taken a while but I have finally worked out that, while some things really do matter—many, many more really, really don’t.)

I like that I am far less concerned these days about how I look (or, perhaps more honestly, how anyone else thinks I look) and am now far more interested in how I feel.

I like that I am entirely comfortable in my own company and I can choose to participate, spectate, or entirely forgo (‘thanks, but no thanks’) without also feeling the need to elaborate on my choices with long convoluted explanations (or excuses).

I like that I have learned to never miss an opportunity to do absolutely nothing.  (Some may call that bone idle.  I prefer to think of it as a life choice.)

I like knowing that, while it’s definitely okay to follow the rules, bending (or even breaking) one every now and again can be a lot of fun . . .

. . .  and I like the fact that finally accepting some things really are absolutely and totally beyond my control has done wonders for my sleep.  (And, if I do still have the odd restless night, a nice little nap the next day is entirely appropriate anyway.)

So, all said and done, I am feeling pretty good about this birthday, and if you should come across me sometime, standing in the street, gazing blankly upwards, please don’t be alarmed.  It’s not my advancing years taking a toll on me.  I have not forgotten where (or who) I am.

I am merely taking a moment and altering my aspect to the sun . . .

Sunflower (Helianthus Annuus)

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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‘If loving shoes is a crime . . . I’m looking at life without parole.’ Brian Atwood.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

You know what I was thinking about most of yesterday?   My feet.  Seriously.  I was thinking about how much of my life I must have spent dealing with tired, aching, sore feet.  I mean—supposing it were even possible to calculate such a thing—what would that equate to in hours . . . days . . .  months . . . years?

It’s not as if I were even wearing horribly uncomfortable shoesthey were, in fact, one of my oldest and most comfy pairs—but at some point yesterday I became suddenly aware that all I was thinking about (seriously—nothing else going on in my brain at all) was how I could not wait to get in my own front door and kick my shoes off ( . . . and my bra too actually but that’s probably TMI for this particular post . . . ) 

Sadly it seems, no matter how much I might wish otherwise, gone are the days when I could don my high heels at 7.00am, run around in them all day (literally), pop into the supermarket on the way home to do a bit of grocery shopping and still feel able to stand around and gossip with one of my neighbours for half an hour at the end of the day.  These days I barely make it to lunchtime before I become increasingly aware (as my old dad used to say )my dogs are barking‘ . . .

But the thing is—I love my heels.  I really do.  I have always owned flat shoes of course (who doesn’t?) but no matter how cute they are, for me flats have always been for schleping around at home, or going to the movies (navigating all those steps in heels in the dark—I don’t think so), or walking the dogs.   They’ve never been ‘proper’ shoes.  Heels make me feel taller and slimmer and . . . dressed.  That’s it I think.  I have never considered myself properly dressed unless I’m wearing a fabulous pair of heels.  

What to do, what to do?  I know what you’re going to sayI should stop wearing my heels right now and give myself a break, right?

Well, I think we all know that’s not going to happen.  (I mean, seriously?) 

But I do think a compromise might be in order.  I think I might just be able to convince myself to buy a couple (or three or four) more pairs of extra-cute flats that might nicely complement the heels I already have.  Then I could wear my beloved heels for part of the day and surreptitiously swap them out for a similar (flatter) pair when I feel the need to give my aching tootsies a rest.  What do you reckon?

Sounds like a fine plan to me . . .

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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‘In Heaven, it is always Autumn.’ John Donne.

Autumn is here!  Finally!  Well, according to the calendar at least.  (Okay, so the weatherman says it is going to be hot again today so it might be a little while yet before we start to feel any real benefit but—YAY!—Autumn!)  Autumn has always been my favourite season in Australia and I have to tell you I have been seriously hanging out for it this year!  I have not enjoyed this summerat all.  I can just about deal with the heat (that’s what air conditioning is for) but the oppressive and constant humidity we have had to deal with over the last couple of months has been off the charts.  I have been longing for some cooler weather . . .

(Before I go any further, my sincere apologies to those readers living on the other side of the world who have been (and in some cases still are) trapped in the depths of a freezing winter.  There can be nothing worse than listening to someone complaining about an endless run of steaming hot sunny days when you are all freezing your bits off.  However, when it gets to be proper winter here and I start to complain about it (as I most assuredly will) I promise I will not be mortally offended when you write and gloat about how lovely the weather has been where you are . . . )

I am not the only one in my household who has struggled with the heat this year.  My girls have been exceedingly listless (in Molly’s case almost comatose) and their days have been mostly spent dozing fitfully, drinking gallons of water, going outside to pee all the water away again, staggering back inside to drink even more water . . .  and then dozing again.  Now I know that doesn’t sound all that different from any of their usual days, but this time all these ‘activities’ (and I use the term loosely) were all done in exaggerated slow motion.  (Except when I had the big fan trained on me and was required to briefly move from my seat.  Then all three dogs developed an amazing ability to immediately transport themselves miraculously into ‘my spot’ only to become completely unconscious again and therefore entirely unable to move back out of it! )

But never mindit’s autumn and all that uncomfortable heat and humidity will soon be far behind us!  I’ll be able to do all sorts of things I haven’t been able to do in months.

I’ll be able to wear sleeves again.

I’ll be able to take hot showers again . . . and eat hot food again . . .  and drink hot drinks again . . .

I’ll be able to get into my jammies and woolly socks and slippers as early as I like without feeling guilty about it.  (I’ll be able to actually wear jammies and woolly socks and slippers again . . . )  

It’ll be less crowded outside and there’ll be less dodging and weaving around pushchairs and prams and scooters and bicycles when the girls and I go out walking.  (It’s amazing how many ‘fair weather walkers’ there are around here.  Autumn and winter is mostly left to who of us who walk purely for the joy of it—or for our health—or who have four-legged family members who would make them crazy if they didn’t . . . ) 

Oh yes.  I think I like the idea of Heaven always being Autumn.

(Provided, of course, that heaven is also going to be loaded up with hot chocolate . . . and jammies . . . and slippers . . . and woolly socks . . . and dogs . . . )

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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