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Autumn Adventures in Art :: Our memory tree

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‘What’s a memory?’ asked Wilfred Gordon…

‘Its something you remember’ said his Father. But Wilfred Gordon wanted to know more,……

Our final project in our Autumn Adventures in Art series was designed to ‘put the student in the picture’ by connecting him/her to their work in a personal way. By looking at ways to ‘represent’ themselves using memories and nature references, they produced unique work and re-enforced the value in their own form of expression, their own memories, their own style.

I have just loved meandering through the past six weeks with artistic-intension together with a wonderful bunch of enthusiastic students. They were polite, inspired, wildly creative and an absolute joy to teach!

Looking forward to more adventures next term – thanks Riverbend Books and Cafe!

midweek creative :: practice solitude

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‘Quietness without loneliness’

The Gaelic phrase that means mindless mental wandering. Practice solitude, the art of being alone with your thoughts.

You are never lonely when your mind is engaged.

I watch her…. she will often laze alone in a corner and I see her mouth moving, her eyes ablaze. I wonder what story she hs spinning, the journey she is going on, the fantastical tale that is bubbling. She may wander over after a while and sigh contentedly…….

‘I was dreaming’ she will exhale.

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Winter here in the southern hemisphere can often feel ‘blink-and-its-gone’ and so when the days do lean inward, cold + grey, I try to remember that this season was created for hibernation. We are anticipating a break in school routine in the coming weeks and so I am planning time and space to nurture ‘quietness without loneliness’ for myself and my children.

Won’t you plan to join me and take some time to respond to the season with rest and contemplation.

midweek creative :: do it again!

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‘Do it again Daddy!’ our 5yr old squeals in delight as his strong firm hands throw her confidently up and catch again.

[And we wonder how much longer we will be able to do that with ease!]

Please do it again!’

Have you noticed that children never seem to tire of repetition?

‘Read it again Nana!’ to that favourite book…..‘Just one more kick Dad’, she says during a never-ending game of touch.

I’ve been pondering the boldness and courage that it takes to not tire of monotony.

We see it with ease in our children when they identify something they are passionate about. I often think that creativity can become entangled in the mistaken thought that all is spontaneous and new. Certainly as we grow into adulthood we sometimes lose the desire to do the same thing over and over. To be creative suddenly becomes the need to come up with new ideas all the time…or at least in the shortest timeframe possible!

Yet I wonder if being creative is more closely aligned with passion and repetition.

To love something so much that you want to do it again and again, practice again, try it again….for the pure joy of experience. And within that joy and repetition surely comes improvement, strength, something better, a stronger idea or solution.

My eldest daughter is a swimmer. She swims 6km up to 6 times per week. She is only 13. She embraces a life where she repeatedly jumps in the cold water and swims lap after lap. Improving technique, getting stronger, practicing discipline, refining her craft. This week she represented our state at a national championship. I shared her disappointment when she didn’t have the swim she hoped for, she works so incredibly hard I can’t explain to you my respect and admiration for her dedication. And yet she wanted to come home and train that very afternoon – back in the pool, practicing again: refining, strengthening, problem-solving. DO IT AGAIN.

My second daughter is a runner and she too puts in kilometre after kilometre – focused and determined. She had a big run go not as well as hoped this week too. And yet she picked herself up and is training again today and will compete again on the weekend. DO IT AGAIN.

As surely as the sun and moon rise each day to the same rhythm – DO IT AGAIN…..in creative splendour each time, I am challenged this week to pull back and search for the things I am passionate about doing again and again and again.

In solving an Interior Design problem: the cyclical nature of the design process generates ideas, tests them against a brief, refines them with the client and comes back around for a second and a third pass until the best creative solution is reached.

In making art, techniques need to be practiced again and again until they are refined and produce quality work.

In almost any profession, the journey to innovation is creative and passionate repetition.

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And so in our midweek creative this week, join me, won’t you? And seek some ways to nurture your creativity through repetition: just ‘DO IT AGAIN’…..

 

 

midweek creative :: take a walk

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‘Wander often, Wonder always’

‘In a world of deadlines and endless meetings, pencilling in time for an afternoon sojourn can seem indulgent, almost wasteful. And yet stagnation pilfers much’
Sasha Fedulow Wirth, kinfolk magazine

And this is just the seed that is germinating in me at the moment. The quiet work that is liberating and teaching me more about my self and the creative habits that will bring growth and fulfilment.
In our last few midweek creative posts we’ve shared about carving out time and creating and hanging out with an idea in a void.

Today it’s the transformative act that puts one foot in front of another…

changes perspective.

gifts fresh air to the lungs.

allows adrenalin to pump and surrounds to stimulate + inspire ideas.

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Today as I picked up copy of Kinfolk magazine, I was reminded that: ‘On a walk around London, Jane Austen came upon a portrait that brought her beloved character Jane Bennet to life in Pride and Prejudice. A stroll along the countryside of Vienna gave Ludwig van Beethoven the rustic melody of his Pastoral Symphony…Steve Jobs did laps around the corporate park…….’

So in strapping on walking shoes and stepping away from the problem, I am reminded that rejuvenation is required before anything new can be reborn, rethought or revised. And of course inspiration can dazzle you,

For me the gentle waters lap rhythm, the tree’s tremble with texture and I see again with artist’s eyes.

The translation for me is time in the studio to create what my mind’s eye is seeing, or access to paper + pencil to sketch out a burgeoning design idea. But if time is sadly lacking as has been the case for a while now, I let the euphoria of those creative leanings project me joyfully into what is at hand: work, family, relationships, with renewed passion and purpose. With a determination to live out this unique way of seeing the world, gifted only to me.

I wonder if permission to ‘take a walk’ is just the creative freedom you need to gift yourself today?

midweek creative: the importance of nurturing creativity in yourself

 

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It’s midweek in my home and a whirlwind of schedules, activities, practicalities and workload are all vying for my attention.

My daughter’s 13th birthday is this weekend and thoughts interject about presents un-purchased, plans un-finalised, intention unresolved!…..My husband and therefore our family are amid critical employment decisions….and we are still surrounded by boxes lingering post our move 1 month ago! Children are end-of-term weary but still juggling assessment and extra-curricular activities. Oh just a few of the interjections in my mind that make finishing a cohesive and decisive sentence nigh on impossible!

Yet this morning I was reminded by a dear friend that this is the ‘creative palette’.

To see the chaos as possibility.

And to tie down new ideas through the process of creative habit.

I wasn’t so convinced I could see the correlation between lifestyle chaos and the romantic term ‘creative palette’, but here is what I surmised from our discussion.

Carve out time.

With the noise of life swirling, find a place of quiet inspiration and sit awhile.

Notice the detail, your senses, let your mind wander freely.

Take a notebook and pencil with you and at the end of your time (don’t be tempted to pick it up along the way, give yourself time) sketch or write your mind.

The important things really will surface. An answer or two to a problem. The ordering of priorities. The feeding or resting of your weary spirit.

If you feel so inclined, sketch too. The practice of sketching unlocks yet another part of your brain.

In her book ‘The Creative Habit’ Twyla Tharp asks us to ‘build up our tolerance for Solitude’.

She notes that this activity is the exact opposite of meditation. You are not trying to empty your mind, not trying to sit restfully without conscious thoughts. You are seeking thoughts from the unconscious, and trying to tease them forward until you can latch onto them. An idea will sneak into your brain. Get engaged with that idea, play with it, push it around – you have acquired a goal to underpin this solitary activity.

This is quietness without loneliness.

You are not alone anymore; your goal, your idea is your companion.

And so with the bay breeze swirling and blue sky opening up her possibilities, I remember to prioritise this habit today and suddenly a hopeful new order takes root amid my chaos.

 

just sit with creativity awhile

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Just sit with creativity a while….
Offer her a cup of steaming tea in a quiet house, cloistered away from the surprising buffet of the winds out in the streaming September sunshine.
Sit and let thoughts + ideas brew between you.
Rising and falling, steeping in the silence.
And when at last you drink deep you exhale the warmth of collaboration, of something that fills and satisfies, comforts and awakens all in one mouthful.
Resist the urge to leap up to action, sit a while longer, let the warming brew do its work and become you.
Just to sit awhile with creativity is to remember who you are and what is genuinely your centre.

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There is a repeat pattern in my life that I have long avoided acknowledging. For my externally-processing, collaborative, energy-buzzing self struggled to own it.
I have my most inspiring, authentic creative moments in complete solitude – in a lennngthy period of quiet contemplation, often sitting still, letting my mind and senses wander to inspiration.
As my personality has consistently failed to own the power in these moments, the pattern that seems to have emerged, I am ashamed to say, is that I have my most creative moments when struck down sick.
Not the deathly-sick, can’t move in agony sick, but the worn down, often allergy induced heavy-head-cold sick that eventually marches me to bed ‘or else!’ for some restoration.
Yesterday was one of those days.
Alone cozied in my home with my thoughts + cups of tea, muscles bound by aches to the bed, the inspiration slowly filters through its proper percolation process: of threads grabbed from here + there, ideas pondered and either discarded or woven in. And some new work is born….well, tentatively conceived shall we say. And rather than bounce this fragile seed among creative peers, I want to quietly nurture it until it develops some maturity, some bold confidence to go out into the world.
It’s a new process for me, one that I have oft discarded as a melancholy lack of productivity.
But it has happened too often for me to deny that a new way of working is slowly longing to take the place of old patterns.
The new way of working must embrace solitude as a conduit for genuine creativity.
My challenge is to make room for this new way of working, and not wait until sickness strikes me down to relent and embrace!

Do you find that creativity flows in the quiet, alone moments? Do you allow yourself these? We’d love to hear your thoughts, leave a comment and chat with us awhile…….