Sunday, 28 September 2014

A taste of things to come

The temperature kept me indoors today.  The wind howled around the house and picked up everything not nailed down and it got under my skin in a good way. I love the sound of wind howling under the eaves but after four surgeries to remove skin cancers I have no intention of going out on days like this. I suspect summer will be a hot one this year if this is any indication.

Today has been productive, I managed to complete the latest draft of my September picture book story. I have put it on the forum in 12 x 12 for feedback then with a final spit and polish I will submit it to RYS on October 1st. I haven't managed to write much in the past five weeks due to family stuff so I am very pleased to have a Picture book written. This story about a little hunter and her intended prey. When the prey decided he has had enough he comes up with a solution to solve his hunter problem.  I have read it out loud once so far and my captured audience appreciated it. There are a few words I stumbled on so they need to change.

I also managed to make art today for the 52 week illustration theme of Words.
 I like the idea of turning the word into the art in this way. Many people have written poetry and prose over their art but I prefer this way. Many art teachers have their classes doing this little activity and teens seem to enjoy it.
 I might try a few different ways of doing this word. I used my fabre-castelle pencils for all three drawings and discovered they blend nicely.
water is something I need to revisit more often. I want to be able to obtain that reflective transparency with ease and that will only come with plenty of practice.

So did you miss me? I was gone for hours. I went to the supermarket for fresh rolls, lettuce and milk. I had two visitors, one dropped books off for me to read and the other came to regale me with tales of her travel plans and have a cup of tea. Then I made dinner for the family, home made hamburgers except they were beef not ham and delicious and prepared a meatloaf for tomorrow. I also cuddled the baby, made phone calls and did a further draft of a story. So what was I chatting about before I flitted off to do other things?
I am looking forward to the books. They are teen romance vampire stuff that I have avoided for several years but last week in desperation I watched the movie of the books and the same day read the first of the series and now I have the rest. I should not judge a story by the hype, honestly I should know better than that. I have read quite a number of popular fictions involving vampires and werewolves and teen romantic angst and I simply could not be bothered with one more except now I am. I am pleased I read the Sookie Stackhouse* novels before reading Twilight^ and disappointed in the overall film versions of both although the casting of the main characters of Trueblood is a delightful visual feast. Now I am reading Vampire Academy% after seeing the movie and it is lighthearted and entertaining at a time when I need lighthearted and entertaining and I liked the casting of the actors for the parts.

*The Southern Vampire Mysteries, also known as The Sookie Stackhouse Novels, is a series of books written by bestselling author Charlaine Harris. They began to be published in 2001. They serve as the source material for the HBO television series True Blood whose first season aired in 2008. The series has been retronymed the True Blood Series upon reprinting to capitalize on the television adaptation.
^ Twilight is a series of four vampire-themed fantasy romance novels by American author Stephenie Meyer.
% Vampire Academy is an American best-selling series of six young-adult paranormal romance novels by author Richelle Mead

I am so excited that two of my prizes from earlier in the year have arrived. A t-shirt and a note book. I was very excited to receive the parcel. There are still several other prizes that never arrived but that happens I suppose.
These prizes were for participation in the Chapter Book Challenge back in March. Not only did I learn a lot of useful things about writing, produced a story, made more friends around the world but I also acquired a t-shirt. Life is good.

Speaking of post, a letter came for me this week full of love and friendly words and I thought to myself that maybe letter writing will have a renaissance now that our government has reduced our privacy and given greater powers of invasion to our policing bodies who are now allowed to invade our computers and phone records to a greater extent than ever before. They were probably doing it to this degree already but now it is more apparent. Letter writing is sounding better and better to me except blogging and other social media help me network around the world, hand writing is painful and I don't need a stamp and a trip to the post office - hmmm I will have to think about this.

 Look who was napping with Nanna.
 This young man is the perfect audience, he actually enjoys me singing to him so long as it is upbeat and in a major key. Minor key has him dropping the bottom lip and crying.
sleep tight and dream sweet dreams.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Writing in the storm

It is 10.59pm and my eyelids are twitching from lack of sleep and stress. I haven't written much fiction for a while, well grown up fiction that is. I have several novel outlines waiting for time and attention but life is rather hectic at the moment so I am not in the right mind space and I am in constant demand which reduces my creative time. To really produce a good scene I need to immerse myself in the story and not be constantly interrupted.

 I currently have three adult sons, a daughter in law, a teen daughter and a 10 week old baby plus a dog sharing my miniscule house while they all have challenges in their life to work through. I love my kids and would do just about anything for them but there comes a time when I want to let go the selfless mother role and embrace the inner rebellious teenager who hasn't yet had her turn at life. My first born isn't talking to me at the moment and it all seems so overwhelming. Then I read the news and think at least my kids are all alive and somewhere I can find them. I try to focus on the things to be grateful for so I have a healthier perspective about my own troubles. I have wonderful friends who support me as much as I will let them and I am in reasonably good health all things considered. I have food and clean water and a warm bed to sleep in. I have social media to make friends around the world and my car works. I am living in a good town with easily accessible services and good health workers.
And I get to create art and tell stories and sing to my grandson. I can weather the storm when I 'count my blessings' and focus on the abundance of good things in my life.

I read an article by Neil Gaiman today. It was about Terry Pratchett. Neil described Terry as an angry man and while I was reading it and the message that Terry uses that anger to fuel his stories I realised I too am a bundle of anger and maybe I could use that anger to fuel my own stories. So I wrote one. It is less than 600 words and is the first flash fiction I have written in several months. I read it to my favourite beta-ear(the first person I read it to over the phone) and she said it has powerful imagery. It was a strange sensation to be writing with such anger in me. Acknowledging the anger helped me connect to it. I think I need to really tap into my emotional state when I am writing. I am thinking some of my more recent stuff is quite bland and probably reflects a lack of passion.

I weeded my front lawn today. I dug out the thistles and broad leaf weeds with an old table spoon. I had to do something with my hands and get out of the house. I was incredibly excited to see that a dozen or more seedlings have sprouted from the seeds of the trees that were cut down recently. I carefully dug them up and put them in a seed tray before the mower kills them. I will plant them in the back yard once they are established beyond two leaves and nurture a whole new forest.  The silver lining shows itself and I am grinning about the resilience of nature in the face of human onslaught.

Have I told you guys I have been a foster parent for 25 years. No quater-century commemorative medal for me just a lot of experiences and memories and some extra permanent members of the family. I fostered more than 55 kids in that time. Some for short terms lie weekends or two weeks at a time, some for much longer and one for the whole 25 years. Fostering here in Australia is not a paid gig. It is a volunteer position and if the fostering is done through a legitimate agency then the foster parents can be compensated for some expenditure. It is not something anyone should do lightly. Many of the children in care are already damaged before they land on the doorstep in wet pyjamas and need a long term plan to support them. The foster parents need constant and ongoing training and support and it is a 24 hour seven day a week possibly lifetime commitment. There are all sorts of reasons why kids need out of home care and every one of the kids who came to my care had different stories. I don't like a lot of the things that happen in the system that actually compound the damage to the kids and I don't like that good relationships are difficult to build but there has to be some kind of system to help kids who need it. I have discouraged people from fostering because they were going into it with an attitude they would get to look after some poster child for their local church group and were not mentally equipped for the challenge. I don't think I was either but I have proactively sought training and education that would help me help the kids. I hope that the experience of living with me for however long or short a time made a positive difference to the kids. It breaks my hear that I failed some kids and hope they found better experiences further along their life paths. I fell in love with some and often wonder where they are.

Life is an adventure.

I am so excited. One of the members of a group (musical) that I am supporting (with the pittance I can share) actually took the time to acknowledge my tweet to them. I am very honoured. (ps guys when I make it big with my writing I will up my patronage from ten cents to 25 cents okay).

Inktober is not far away and I did some preliminary pics to rediscover the feel for ink. I popped them on my pinterest board for Inktober.  and on this page of course.  

Well on that note I suspect I need to get some sleep since it is now almost midnight. I hope your life is not too stormy for you to weather. Focus on the positives to help you navigate the negatives. Hugs and love.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014


52 week challenge theme for week 38 is, you guessed it, Giraffe. Several times throughout the year other people have produced art works using coffee. The colouring of a Giraffe lends itself to coffee tones. I started off staining the canvas with a weak instant coffee mix then using various thicknesses of coffee and a few drops of water colour paint I produced this little guy. I am so pleased with the final product.
In the Botanic gardens and apparently several other gardens and parks around the state there is a giraffe swing. It did have all four swings attached not so long ago but as our nanny state filled with cotton wool helicopter parenting styles increases, all things that challenge a child are removed, anything that might be fun for someone over 18 months old is gone so now only the infant seats are still swinging. I am surprised some paranoid person hasn't complained that it is not a native animal and should not therefore be in our park or some other idiocy to have it removed.Can you tell I am miffed that there are no more swings for big kids like me?

Off my soapbox... I went to Portland on the weekend which is why my blog post is late. Portland Victoria Australia that is. It was a beautiful spring weekend and I decided to become a tourist for the day on Sunday. Portland has a little tram  and I purchased a little magnetic Tram driver to help support this delightful little tramway. It is kept running by a dedicated troupe of twelve and I thoroughly enjoyed being on it.
I started off at the Botanic gardens which have an awesome number of dalias and roses but none in flower so I have to go back. Then down to the depot where Pete sold me my ticket and I purchased a little tram driver magnet.

The noise of the engine was easy to ignore as the conductor spoke about the history of Portland and the various places of interest the tram line circumnavigate.
 I was also totally delighted to be able to sit on the open sided trolley and feel the cool sea breeze on my face.

I made sure my little tram driver hung on around the corners as we headed across to the War Memorial in the old water tower. This was a fascinating place to spend and hour in while I waited for the tram to return. The old water tower was converted into a multistory space to house much local memorabilia about how the world wars affected local people.

I traveled back to the Botanic garden, waving back to all the children big and small picnicking in the park. I wriggled my bare feet into the carpet soft grass of the croquet lawn then drove out to the light house at Point Nelson. 
My tram driver photo bombed the light house picture.  It is certainly a picturesque drive and a pleasant little town.

I am also a little bit sunburnt. Not a sensible thing for me.

So more art coming up I am doing INKTOBER  the brain child of Jake Parker  I quote directly from his blog and the facebook group....

31 Days 31 Drawings

Every October, artists all over the world take on the InkTober drawing challenge by doing one ink drawing a day the entire month. I(Jake Parker) created InkTober in 2009 as a challenge to improve my inking skills and develop positive drawing habits. It has since grown into a worldwide endeavor with thousands of artists taking on the challenge every year.

Anyone can do InkTober, just pick up a pen and start drawing.

InkTober rules:

1) Make a drawing in ink (you can do a pencil under-drawing if you want).

2) Post it on your blog (or tumblr, instagram, twitter, facebook, flickr, Pinterest or just pin it on your wall.)

3) Hashtag it with #inktober

4) Repeat
Note: you can do it daily, or go the half-marathon route and post every other day, or just do the 5K and post once a week. What ever you decide, just be consistent with it. INKtober is about growing and improving and forming positive habits, so the more you’re consistent the better.
That's it! Now go make something beautiful.

so I am going to make ink art as well as the 52 week challenge weekly theme 

The week has been full and awesome. I went out to the Warrnambool Books 30th anniversary. It was a trivia night and a fundraiser for The Leila Rose foundation. There were nine teams and my team won the trivia and two of the three awesome  raffle prizes. We had three very interesting authors talk about their books. 

Regina Lane, author of Saving St Brigid's
Jock Serong, author of Quota
Clint Greagen, author of Reservoir Dad
Held at The Last Coach on the corner of Timor and Kepler street in Warrnambool, it was a delightful night and I enjoyed it immensely. 

I have some commissioned art to make and a competition to enter so I plan to do a lot of art before the end of the week. I have polished up my 12 x 12 picture book draft for September and intend to send it off to RYS on the 1st of October and double check the criteria this time so it wont bounce back at me. Lots of work to do and a trip to the city in the middle. A couple of critiques to complete and life rolls on. Hope your week ahead is awesome. Love and hugs. 

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Guess what? It is only Saturday.

A lovely Saturday it is too.
I haven't shared a grandson picture for a while so I better do that because apparently grandparents are supposed to brag a lot and I need the practice because of being a bit of an introvert.

I think this boy is totally gorgeous. All of two months old and everything his parents could have wished for in terms of cuteness factor, contentment and good health. I like that he enjoys me singing to him and settles peacefully into my arms. I like having an appreciative audience even if he is captured in my cuddle. tee hee captured audience.

Okay on to other stuff and nonsense. I recently became a patron to two groups of musicians. I feel very excited by this. I believe in sharing what I have with others and although my financial base is limited to the lower rungs in terms of Australian affluence I am aware that my level of low income is an immense fortune for others. I am very fortunate to have a warm sturdy house, food in the cupboard, a reliable car to drive and all my needs available to me. Throughout my life I have been involved in many volunteer positions to the point where a friend referred to me as a gold star volunteer. It was cute. At one point I was volunteering for more than a dozen organisations. I have sat on hundreds of committees, raised funds, cooked for missions and I have been a foster parent for 25 years. Over the past two years I eased out of the majority of my volunteering as I dealt with surgery and recovery and hit the wall in terms of my health and well being. Through my life other people have assisted me when I was struggling and I like to think I can "Pay it Forward" in what ever way I can. I reevaluated the charities I had supported and reduced my outlay to two. Then I was inspired to support other creatives as I face the challenges of making my own creative journey into a career.
I am now a patron for the bands Walk Off The Earth and Home Free through patreon and feel a great sense of wonder at the marvel of being able to support the arts in this way. I can actually see the result of my financial outlay.  I think the reason I have been able to move past the difficult challenges in my life is because I am so busy helping other people so I don't have time to focus on my own dramas too much.

When I get down I try to get busy. It works for me but I am me and no one else is me and so my methods probably won't work for anyone else. (Disclaimer...)

So being creative I managed to complete some art work for an upcoming anthology of fairy tales which I will share on pinterest when the anthology is published.
I finished some art for a student who wanted original art work on her catering portfolio. Her theme is Alice in Wonderland and she made some yummy food. Here are the pictures I created for her. Apparently she is very pleased with them if the number of exclamation marks in her thank you text is any indication.
The 52 week challenge this week is balloons. Here are my little messy balloons in chalk pastels.
I looked at tutorials on youtube to try a few different approaches to balloons and liked the reflections in the top two in this picture.
 I like this little piece and continued with it after the scan, smoothing out the colours and white spaces. I enjoyed working with the chalk pastels.

I wanted to draw a crystal ball with this piece and started out following instructions given on youtube using graphite but then began to play with a pink pastel and turned it into a balloon. I do like the freedom of playing with styles and art products.

Oh last week in the challenge the theme was House, as I said in the last blog post I would upload my pieces when I finished them. I decided to pay tribute to two of my favourite fictional houses.
 This is my rendition in pencil of Howl's Moving Castle. From the studio Ghibli movie of the same name based on the book by Diana Wynn Jones. I love the books by Diana Wynn Jones and my entire family has been delighted and entertained by Ghibli movies since my second son travelled to Asia as a teenager and brought back the joy of a complete set of Studio Ghibli movies. All other animations and cartoons took a back seat to Ghibli and the magic created by Haiao Miazaki and the team.
Another place I loved was Mr Tumnus' house in The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe. This is my tribute to CS LEWIS and the original artist. Pauline Diana Baynes (9 September 1922 – 1 August 2008)  an  illustrator who illustrated over 100 books including for JRR Tolkein and CS Lewis. I love the art in Narnia.

This piece is very similar in content and composition to the original with my own touches. Pencil and graphite.

So plenty of art time snuck in around family dramas and demands but not so much writing time which takes a lot of uninterrupted quiet time. We now have the television in the centre of the main living space which creates a great deal of inane irritating background noise but I have conceded to the needs of the extra little family in my home and it is right here beside my work space driving me crazy. Argh I do not like television. It is not something we usually have running at all except for movies at prearranged times so my creating quiet is all gone at the moment.

It is interesting how many compromises and adjustments we make when someone new comes into our space for extra time. Having an entire family sharing the space requires a lot of adjustment for everyone concerned but it is all worth it in the end as relationships are renewed and strengthened.

So what else exciting has happened this week. Oh yes I did have a story returned to me by an editor asking if I would split it into two so I have done that.
I was approached by a man in the street who had seen my pinterest and he has asked me to create art for him, I spoke with another person who would like me to make art for her upcoming book. Another anthology has been launched with art and a poem.
 this is the second Teapot Tales and has 17  contributing authors and six artists.
Published on 5 Sep 2014
A collection of short stories with pirates and mermaids that will open your eyes to the magic that can be found under the sea. Let yourself be pulled into the magical worlds found within these stories. From pirates and sea monsters to kind-hearted mermaids and flesh-eating sirens, let these charming ocean tales sweep you away into the realm of fantasy. With twenty-six stories, including four poems, written by seventeen different authors from around the world, “Teapot Tales: Pirates, Mermaids and Monsters of the Sea” is a wonderful collection of short stories, each story just long enough to enjoy with a cup of tea.

To get your on copy of the anthology:

US paperback:
US Kindle:
UK paperback:
UK Kindle:
So altogether a busy and interesting week. I hope you have had a good week and an interesting one too. Tomorrow I am off to the F Project art market at the Fletcher Jones Garden. Time to sign off, have a cup of tea and go finish the novel I am reading. 'Four' by the author of Divergent et al. Veronica Roth  

oh and speaking of Veronica's, I have been invited to go to Lakes Entrance for several days with my friend Veronica. She and I might just get some quiet writing time together. Fingers crossed.


Sunday, 7 September 2014

Sunshine and early mornings

I woke up early. I have no idea why. The sun shone through the window and I simply could not lay-a-bed one moment extra so I decided to take myself to a cafe and have eggs benedict for breakfast. A BIG mistake. It was way too early in the morning to be eating such a huge serve of ham and strong flavoured spinnach with an overly generous lake of hollandaise sauce and I ordered a hot chocolate instead of a sensible cup of tea. The hot chocolate was less than awesome for the price and to top the whole oversized breakfast off, a family with an incredibly loud preschooler chose the table next to me in an otherwise empty seating area. My instinct had been to eat in the lovely back courtyard and I did not listen to myself. I gulped down my food to remove myself from the excessive noise and almost fell over when I realised they charged me the price of two loaves of bread for the extra slice of toast. I think I will stick to a cup of tea and the newspaper in future.

The sunshine is glorious though and it is shining brightly through the window beside me. Only the Baby's Mumma is awake and she has retreated to their bedroom so I still have a quiet house to myself for a short while. I can tolerate only so much noise before my second cup of tea in the morning. I know I know I am addicted to peace and quiet. Chuckle. I bet you thought I was going to write, tea. Yes that too.

This morning I am listening to  Meghan Trainor - All About That Bass meghan_trainor and Home Free doing their cover of Meghan's song  and I love both versions. I liked the overlaying message that 'every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top' and I like the bouncy ear tugging toe tapping tune. I only found both musical groups in the past few weeks thanks to FB shares and I am so enamoured I am contemplating becoming a patron through Patreon. I am trying to avoid reading the angry feminist deconstruction of the song and simply enjoy the piece for its entertainment value. I think I am feminist until I read the anger in some of the attack mode feminist manifestos then I lean more toward humanist non gender specific.
I suspect it is the burst of sunshine making me feel so excited about the possibilities in our world. I avoid news coverage that sensationalises or minimises the problems in our world but I am bombarded with information through all my social media sites and I prefer to focus on positives such as inventions and movements that try to make a positive difference in the environment or for all people. 

the 52 week illustration challenge this week is themed House and I started researching temporary housing options for the homeless and found some incredible people trying to make life easier for the uncounted homeless people around the world.  The Tiny House blog by features many great articles on tiny homes and people making shelters  After looking at the amazing little houses I thought I would draw some for the challenge.
this tiny house is a Japanese solution to homeless accomodation. Typically Japanese in its functional compactness. I have yet to do my own art this week but I have several planned pieces.

I want to celebrate the things being done to help the homeless but I also want to celebrate an epiphany I had recently about why I like certain household objects such as a wing back chair and teapots and other houses that bring joy to my life.
Mr Tumnus' house in the original illustrations is filled with items I love. The Narnia books had a profound impact on my development. Being a very early reader, in fact I have no memory of not being able to read and could read fluently by the time I made it to school at the age of 4 years and two weeks old. Enid Blyton and CS Lewis were my substitute caregivers as a child and I had to skip the university classes where they were deconstructed because it felt like having my parents attacked and I couldn't do that.  Anyway back to art. I attended our second drawing club at The Artery. This month we had life drawing with a model named Chris. He has the most amazing muscle definition on such a skinny. I managed to get proportions right on the fast sketches but given too much time I was able to make great detail but had my proportions all wrong and then I became enamoured with his feet which have the most exquisite arches and I bemoaned how much money I have spent on orthotic inserts for the shoes of my flatfooted children. So art art art, life drawing classes usually involve a model sitting naked in the centre of a ring of easels and artists in varying levels of discomfort as they grapple with the nakedness of the model and the model grappling with the varying bursts of difficulty standing naked in front of strangers. I modeled once or twice but only head and shoulders. I was too self conscious to be naked in front of strangers but could sit absolutely still for long periods of time. It was an interesting experience.

 Oh I submitted a story to Rate your Story RYS and guess what? I forgot to double check myself and sent it without the correct subject line and it was bounced right back at me. I am not going to make it far in the writing world if I don't read and follow the instructions. I am such a dill.

I am going to create art in this beautiful day so I am off to do people stuff and drawing.  Oh I have another commission to make art too. Loving it. I set myself a 90 day challenge to change my life and the work is beginning to trickle in at 1/3 of the way. Have a beautiful day loves.