An eclectic mix – as good as it gets

Over the last few days I have been battling with an irritating sore throat which has morphed into a persistent cough. I haven’t had much energy to talk, but I have caught up with writing some posts on my family history blog, Among the Branches, which can be followed here.

Writing about this particular branch of my ancestral family I am fascinated (and often saddened) by the sectarian mind, the apparent need to be certain that “we” are right and “they” are wrong. The feeling of security that comes from belonging to a group of like minded people, and the fear of being alienated from that same group, are familiar to us all in various forms. In my ancestral family, standing on principals and insisting on doing things “right” frequently led to acrimony and alienation, and much heartache.

How do we find a way to live together in our eclectic mix of backgrounds, cultures, experiences and treasured beliefs? That’s a question that’s being asked in families, and on national and global stages. I don’t have the answer!

Over the last few weeks I have also been having some fun experimenting with various art forms on a mixed media art journaling course Wanderlust 2019 from Everything Art. This week was a challenge, an opportunity to play with an eclectic mix of bits and bobs and form them into a meaningful creation. The process was worrying at times, as the variety of stuff looked very messy and unpromising. But the results were surprisingly satisfying, not perfect, but I felt they did have a final coherence which wasn’t obvious from the start.

Lessons from history and making stuff; perhaps it’s better to trust the process, the muddle and the mess, than insist on being right. Compromise will always be less than perfect, but perhaps that’s best it can be, as good as it gets, and it may even end up with a unique beauty of its own.


Constraining stuff

Sometimes the hardest thing about being creative is the sheer abundance of possibilities and ideas! This quote is true of me, and my workspace.

But sometimes the key to a really satisfying art process is constraint, choosing a focus and a limited palette, rather than being overwhelmed by too much choice. This week I have taken steps to constrain and contain my “palette” – my large stash of fabrics, threads, papers, paints and books, by sorting and storing them. A purchase of new Ikea furniture and a table which raises and lowers to a comfortable working height, has transformed both my work room, and my headspace.

I could have written about many other interesting, creative, and inspiring things I’ve been involved in recently, but I will avoid cluttering this post with “stuff”, and enjoy the truth of “less is more”. May it be true of my workspace too!

On this day – January 31st

The last day of my browse through seven years of January posts. I have enjoyed reflecting on my past moments, captured in words and pictures, and sometimes seeing them in a new light now time has passed. Two years ago I was reflecting on my experiment of drawing things instead of describing them in words, but discovering that I still liked words too…

Recently I came across these words of Marcel Proust; “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes”.

And, perhaps, new ears and new awareness of sounds, smells, tastes and textures all around us…

Keep paying attention, my friends!

January 31st 2017

If I’m honest I have to admit I sliced open this watermelon because I thought it might be good to draw, not because I particularly like water melon. Won as a part of a fruit basket raffle prize, it is not a fruit I would normally buy to eat. 

I was not disappointed with the bright pink flesh hidden inside the green skin, but I didn’t find it easy to capture the shape and colour, and the juiciness of the fruit. In fact after I had finished I realised that the slice was sitting in a little puddle of its own juice, and I had missed that altogether on my picture. 

I have spent a month looking and drawing what (I thought) I could see in front of me. It has been an interesting challenge and changed the way I look at things. I have loved exploring the line and shape of my surroundings, and watercolour is such a quick and delicate way to capture shades and tones. 

But when I took a spoon to the melon I discovered it was much juicier and sweeter than I had expected and distinctly fragrant! There’s more to life than what we can see… 

More senses (and artistic mediums/media) needed.

On this day – January 30th

Today the garden has been transformed by a light powdering of snow, not enough even for snowballs, but it brings a different light and stillness to the trees. On this day seven years ago similar weather provoked some philosophical ponderings. Reading them today they feel a bit heavy perhaps even for a Wednesday morning! But the transformation process is always present, and today’s light snow brings a quiet beauty.

January 30th 2012

I wake to view
white crystals on the window,
ice flakes fluttering silently,
transforming to drops, dripping
small hanging jewels.
Moisture condensing in the air
drifting, floating foggily to the sky.

From my window I see water, in three states of being, solid, liqiud and gas. Frozen snow, dripping drizzle and condensing steam from the boiler outlet, all exisitng together and in a constant cycle of transformation. It made me think how often I assume that my state of being is the only one there is! Who knows what other states of being are present with us right now… and how we too may be being transformed. Perhaps that’s a bit philosophical for a cold Monday morning!

On this day – January 29th

Sometimes the mundane things of everyday life can be transformed simply by the way we look at them. This short post from three years ago illustrates that for me.

January 29th 2016

Raindrops on the window transform streetlights into stars.

On this day – January 28th

By the time we reached this date in January last year I had given up posting here! My last comment (January 26th) was a sketch of my glue bottle and remarks about feeling stuck.

This is the time of year when I find it hard to keep going. January seems to last for ever, and the days are dark and cold. But browsing through my posts for this date in past years I also find hints of what keeps me going. One is being creative in some way, stitching most often. The other is in discovering the garden’s ability to continue to grow through the dark moments.

Two years ago today I sketched some early rhubarb. The exuberant and almost neon colouring of forced rhubarb is always a surprise, and is a great reminder that even in the dark short days of winter there is hidden sweet brightness just waiting to be discovered.

January 28th 2017

Not yet enough for a crumble, but sufficient stalks and leaves emerging from the dark earth to give a little thrill. The intense pink and acid yellow colours of the early forced rhubarb provides a jolt of pleasure, and gives me a moment of wonder as to how such bright vivid colour can be produced in a complete absence of light, only revealed when I lift the cover.

However it does it, it always cheers me up!

On this day – January 27th

A small stone from the very first year of my blog. I was beginning to pay attention to things around me which were part of my everyday life. Back then, as now, this small bear sits on my bed. Objects like this can be a soothing reminder of childhood, but this small cuddly teddy actually takes me back to a time when I was journeying in a country that is both beautiful and wild. Sometimes in life there are periods of adventure and wilderness which take us out of our comfort zones. I think this friendly bear reminds me to have courage, and helps make such times seem more manageable.

January 27th 2012

You sit on my bed, and wait for me, 
Ready to soothe, and comfort me
With soft squashy fur
For holding and hugging.

We met in the high Rocky mountains
Black bear from wild horizons
You came from adventure territory
To be a cosy, cuddly companion.

It is quite incongruous to think that an intimate cuddly, soothing, comforting “transitional object” comes from a wilderness of forest and mountain, and sleeps on my bed! 🙂