Tuesday, 28 October 2014

I won't do it, I haven't got the time.

I won't do it, I haven't got the time.

I don’t do Halloween.
 No pumpkins, brooms or witches
I don’t like monsters and ghosts just leave me cold
I can’t abide those costumes with red and stripy britches
I don’t like snotty brats knocking on my door 
I won’t give treats to kids, who really don’t deserve it
The giggling and screeching
those tippy tappy footsteps
 annoying high pitched laughs, oh
It all gives me a headache and
the things that really scare me
are the creak I heard upstairs
A footfall and a loud tick tock
I live alone and have no clock.
I don’t do Halloween. 
(word count excluding title 99)

My entry for Susanna Leonard Hill's

courtesy google images
The Contest:  write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children (title not included in the 100 words), using the words pumpkinbroomstick, and creak.   Your story can be poetry or prose, scary, funny or anything in between, but it will only count for the contest if it includes those 3 words and is 100 words (you can go under, but not over!)  Get it?  Halloweensie - because it's not very long and it's for little people :)  (And yes, I know 100 words is short but that's part of the fun and the challenge!  We got nearly 80 fantastic entries last year so I know you can do it!)  Also, you may use the words in any form - e.g. creak, creaky, creaks, creaking, creaked.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Home again home again

It feels so good to be home in my own space. My own bed, my own shower, my own kitchen smelling like my own spaghetti bolognaise, my own computer and internet. Can you hear my sigh of contentment? Being away from home can have all sorts of rewards and positives but in my mind there is no bed quite like my own and I am so very happy to be home. I shall miss my little grandson.

The privileged and pleasure of being in his life so completely in his first four months have been very special but it is time for me to leap back into my own life and take up the strings of the things I was doing before he came along, namely building my new creative career.

I have been making more art and several interesting opportunities have come my way which I will tell you about once I share my Inktober pieces to date.
day 14 Fern. I have a set of very fine tip markers which I have found quite interesting to create with. Being away from the computer for several weeks, apart from short stretches at the library has given me ample time to explore what I can do with just a few tools. The library has been a fabulous resource in terms of art books.
 day 15 Radio. I felt like doing something silly with radio waves especially staying in a seaside town.
 This piece is for day 16 Umbrella. It is done with purple ink and a brush on brown paper then the fine details added with a red marker, yellow fine tip marker and white uniball ink pen.

 day 17 Spirit. Inktense and water on black card plus white uniball marker. I struggled to think what to do for this prompt that was not a ghost or bottle of strong alcohol. I liked the colour effect of the inktense on black.
day 18 Mild. what could be milder than these particular cheeses. I have had the delight of sharing cheese platters with friends of recent times and introducing my son to a variety of cheeses he had never known existed. He was not particularly find of cheese with moulds. 
 day 19 Target. when only a few pens are laying around and it is late at night the target is to get work uploaded and representing the prompt. This piece took all of five minutes and the odd angles are a testament to that but I did manage to squeeze quite a few targets into the composition.
 day 20 Photograph. A photo-inception. I had fun with this using my fine tips.
 day 21 Little. I had much more time to plan and execute this piece. 'Little is relative' is my title. The colours have not scanned well for some odd reason and I tried to adjust them with my program but cannot seem to get them the way they are on paper. Odd. I have had to upload most of my pieces via my phone and yesterday scanned the whole lot into my folders. This was the only one that would not scan true to colour.
 day 22 Bridge. My art mojo began to kick in by day 22 and I was very pleased with the overall composition of this piece. Using lines instead of blocks of colour has created an interesting and pleasing overall effect on the various parts of this scene. I predominantly used fine tip markers  with a brush tip ink marker on the sky.
Day 23 Window. This is my favourite piece so far this month. I used my brush tip marker and finetip markers plus my white uniball pen. I loved the way the brush marker produced the folds in the curtains and once again lines rather than full colour in the scenery except for the brush tip on the pink shed,. I do need to work on foliage a lot more. Practice makes shady.

 Day 24 Hairy. Not everyone's cup of arachnid. I decided this furry fellow was a good follow on from the window and imagined he had been hiding behind the curtains. The background is inktense and water brushed over. The spider is a layer of brushed on black ink that greyed out as the paper soaked it up then covered with red hairs with the brush tip red marker and finally white highlights with the uniball white ink pen.

day 25 Vampire. I foolishly sent home my art box on day 25 and was left with a blue pen and a scrap of paper to whip up a piece for vampire. My blue pen managed to be useful for the task.

so that is my ink for the week but wait until you see my birds for this weeks 52 Week they come.
 Week 43 Bird. This one is purple ink and brush
Oil pastel duck on water. This piece also has not scanned true to colour. 
 Mosaic in oil pastels. I had a lot of fun with this piece. I like mosaics but I am not patient enough to complete one so the next best thing it to fake it with a piece of art. Considering how long all these dots took I am guessing I may be wrong about the patient enough for mosaics statement.
 This very bright owl was inspired by the art work of an illustrator of children's books from the 1960s. He created a painting in oils entitled "Birds" in 1967 which depicts two owls in this dramatic and colourful style. My little piece in oil pastel attempts to recreate his style as a practice using pastels and as a tribute to great childrens book illustrators.
 There is a group on line called the Drawing club who offer mini art tutorials as tasters for their paid classes. I have tried out several of their mini tutorials and this little fellow was the result of one. A parrot in pencil.
and then I tried oil pastels to produce this parrot. I like the colours but think I have a lot of practice to go before it becomes a medium I am confident in.

The good news is that the 52 week challenge will again be happening in 2015. I like having opportunities to continue improving my art and to share with a world wide art community. Yay to Tania McCartney for the brilliant idea that started a community.

So all art to one side, I have another grandson. He is teensy weensy and so very cute. How can one Nan be gifted with so much cuteness? Lucky me. His Mum is doing fine after a C section and his Dad is overjoyed and I think I am so very very very fortunate to be able to have these new lives as part of my journey.This little lad has a plethora of Nan's to choose from and I am glad I am one.

Okay on to interesting opportunities. I have been involved in a worldwide artistic collaboration to produce a colouring book. I have not been able to be totally involved due to my ENORMOUS October but I did complete my page and sent it off.
Then in a cafe I discovered an opportunity to paint and sell small canvases on commision so I now have two completed to the theme.
A piece of art I did for the 52 week challenge has generated quite a number of queries for copies or similar pieces.
I had several phone calls asking me to create art for individuals and I said yes yes yes.
I have applied for illustrator positions with two new publishers.
I have a request for manga style art for a children's book by another writer.

Now my dilemma. I have to research and create a price list. I need to think about an hourly pay rate and factor in the time it takes to plan and create pieces of art in various mediums. Then I have to incorporate the time, tools, products and profit margin for each piece. I need to value myself and my creative process and price accordingly and not be suckered into mates rates. I also need to factor in the time it takes to liaise and negotiate with the customer for the initial commission and the subsequent negotiations around changes.
I have a price list for simple line black and white pencil works.

This is my new career and I need to be paid accordingly so I need to value myself and expect my creations to be respected and honoured with appropriate pricing.

The dilemma part is that I have spent a life time giving away my skills and time. Gold star volunteering does not pay the rent and I need to leave behind my give it all away for free mentality because quite frankly the old sayings are true. Give them an inch they take a mile. Why pay for the milk if they get the cow for free? No one will hire a volunteer; why would they pay someone if they can take a volunteer for granted? I think that too many artistic creative people undervalue themselves and are then undervalued by their audience.

I am off to research prices for art. I am sure I will continue to give away my art to some degree, it is part of who I am but I also want to pay the rent. I will find the right level for me.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Getting ready for November   Oh my goodness a year has rolled around and it is time to sign up for all my favourite November challenges.

Last year I signed up for Tara Lazar's PiBoIdMo, also known as Picture book idea month, a month to try and generate thirty first draft picture book ideas.
It is my second year and the sixth year since the challenge's inception. Last year I managed to pluck 45 ideas out of the quagmire that is my mind. I also met some fabulous people and learned a whole lot more about the picture book community and the building blocks of making good reading for little people. It is a learning curve I am still on and through the networking of PiBoIdMo I also discovered some amazing people, communities and forums which are helping me polish my craft. I went on to join Julie Hedland's 12 X 12 (12 picture book drafts in 12 months), Christie Wild's 14:14 (fourteen picture book reviews in 14 days, Picture Book Marathon (, Angie Karcher's Rhyming Picture Book Month (, Susanna Leonard Hill's ( many fabulous opportunities for art and writing and so many more amazing people who generously give their knowledge and skills to help others hone their own stories.  The list grows with each successive month as I explore my new writing and illustrating career.

Last year I hit the ground running, scattered, disorganised and flying by the seat of my pants. As the month rolled along I had to get organised in a hurry because I was also involved in three other challenges. SkaDaMo, NaNoWriMo and RWA 50/30. By the end of the month my eyes had ceased working, my ankles were swollen, my eating habits had become akin to 'nerdy computer single man in flat pizza addict' and I had 104000 words, 45 picture book ideas and 30+ sketches. NOT RECOMMENDED! DO NOT DO THIS especially if like me you are also working a day job and have children. I do not believe one skerrick of housework happened last November.
So this year I have planned ahead.
*I have a folder (hard copy) with a nice neat chart in it with space for dates titles and idea descriptions. I also have a running sheet on my computer.
*The folder has a print out of the PiBoIdMo logo for this year in the front pocket. All my folders for different challenges are now labelled like this.
*I have picture book dummy sheets (30) printed out and slipped into each pocket
*I have an idea sheet that has space for a title, a character description, conflict description, a hook, a synopsis and a box for research/bibliography and a sentence about what the character wants.
*I quit my day job and all my kids are old enough to look after themselves next month.
*I plan to warn all family and friends I am unavailable in November for any reason- births, deaths, weddings, funerals, birthdays...fires, floods and rampaging aliens. I DON'T WANT TO KNOW!
*I have pizza on speed dial
*I have a pedal exerciser under the desk
 *I had my eyes checked, bought a book on eye exercises and have reading glasses (four sets so I can find them when I need them)
*most importantly I have BETA readers and critique partners

So the best laid plans of rodents and two legged rodents aside I am ready. I hope. I think I am, maybe I am ready, okay I am planned for readiness and yes I am doing the other three challenges. Good luck everyone in finding fabulous ideas and making them into amazing stories.

Oh I forgot, I did Movember last year to raise money for men's health so I am planning to wear a fake moustache again and get a Movember page happening so if you are interested in supporting a good research cause come find me and donate your spare change.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

three months old today

My little grandson is three months old today. It has been a very busy three months.
How quickly they grow and become aware of the world around them. This little guy has perfected a particular type of cooing when he wants me to sing to him and I am so grateful to have had such a close association with him that I am able to tell that is what he is communicating. He enjoys when I sing and i enjoy singing to him. I found a book of 1001 popular tunes in an op shop just recently, the newest tune is from 1967 and the oldest was copyrighted in 1887 and interestingly I know a large proportion of the songs in the book. My grandson is beginning to learn them too. He doesn't like songs in a minor key and he is not keen on slow pieces. He bounces about and smiles, waving his arms and cooing loudly if I sing upbeat bouncy tunes in a major key. Already he is developing his own tastes. These early developmental stages are so incredibly important in setting the foundation for our children and their future. I was especially happy at an announcement by the government that in establishing a national curriculum, music will takes its place again as a foundation subject at the early stages of schooling. Music is such an intrinsic part of our world culture that it seemed almost insane that previous governments and school systems would devalue it and even remove it from the curriculum. Music stimulates the brain as no other activity can. I am doing my little bit and singing to my grandson.

So Inktober continues and here I have days 9 - 14 for your viewing pleasure. One of the difficulties with being away from home is that i can only take a limited amount of my art gear and I am reduced to uploading my art via my mobile phone, which is not idea for many reasons not least of which is my strained eyesight however I am pleased that I have a short amount of time each day to dedicate to producing some art.
 Day 10 theme is Cycle so I drew the water cycle; that old standby of science teachers everywhere. I think I will enjoy doing a colour version of this for grand baby's wall at some time.
 Day 11 Lock, many of the participants drew some magnificent locks including water locks. I used fine tip markers for my lock and key. Unfortunately this picture does not do it justice and I will have to scan it properly.

Day 12 is Fresh. and I decided fresh breath fitted the theme. Once again using fine tip markers. Day 13 was Dragon and I do like my dragon on a turret.
Today I am drawing some fern leaves for the day 14 theme, Fern. I am not finished yet and I have some other art to complete for a deadline so I will get that done shortly. 

Portland has been interesting. I found a set of stairs going up a cliff and decided I needed to jog up them. I made it to the first landing after about 25 steps, wheezing and gasping and clinging to the rail. A gentleman passed me at a slow and steady pace and wished me a good morning. I managed to gasp out a response and said I hoped I made it to the next landing and off I went. Eventually I made it to the top of the cliff with the gentleman passing me at his slow and steady pace going up and down. My thighs screamed protest at me as I began my descent. My lungs almost went on strike and as for my pour pounding heart well it put the percussion section of the greatest orchestra to shame. The gentleman suggested slow and steady and build up to jogging. I crawled across the sand of Nun's beach, narrowly avoiding nesting plovers in the small grassy islands and gasping dragged myself into my car vowing never to exercise again. 

 How do plovers survive? They lay their eggs on exposed pieces of ground in the middle of parks, beaches, playgrounds, highway median strips and schools then think some squarking, fake injuries and occasional swooping with deadly intent is going to help them raise a brood of chicks? Crazy birds but they are around so something works for them.

This morning I backed the car out of the drive at 6am, began to drive toward the east and flipped down my visor. This landed in my lap, or its twin did. I hit the brake only it was the accelerator and did some fancy break dancing and hit a note somewhere at c above c above middle c almost shattering the windscreen, found the brake, leaped out of the car doing yet more fancy dance moves and brushed the poor creature onto the bitumen and watched it go into the spider equivalent of the foetal position. I apologised to the spider for the agony its innocent leap landed it in, climbed back into the car and drove on. Irrationally I could not then flip the visor back down, knowing the spider was gone I could not bring myself to flip it again. Totally irrational behaviour but I simply could not do it. 

Interestingly my blood pressure was very high around the time I made it to my doctor appointment. Hmmm I wonder what caused that?

So more art. This week the theme for the 52 week challenge is Black and White and here are my contributions.
This one is titled 'friends' and is inspired by a photograph of two models. I will add the link to the original when I locate it again.
 This is a Gown and is done on bleed proof paper with liquid ink and brush as well as finger smudging. Then I used fine liners and a white ink pen. I didn't like the paper.
 Masque. A mixture of graphite, ink, fine liner, markers and pencil on bleed proof paper again.
 This is the cover of my black sketch pad. Occasionally I like to explore white on black and I was using my white ink pen on the plastic cover of the pad. It was an odd sensation drawing on plastic. This is titled Moonlight.
The happy and sad theatre masks are done in fine liner on cartridge paper.
This week my friend Melissa is having a launch of her book 'Swallow me now' at the Oakleigh library in Melbourne. I would love to be there to support her but I may still be in Portland and not sure if I can do the 7 hour round trip in a day. The book Invitation to a book launchcontains a number of pieces of art by me. The girl on the cover, 'Sam', is my creation based on the character in the story.
When: Saturday 25 October, 2014. 1 – 2pm
Where: Oakleigh Library, 148 Drummond Street, Oakeigh, VIC, 3166
Children and adults are very welcome to attend!

 So a busy week as usual and of course I managed to come up with an idea for 12 x 12 October picture book. Now I just have to develop it and write it up and do a few drafts and then see if I can send it out into the world. So far this year I have managed about 45 ideas with some research, some rhyme, some prose and some complete drafts. Some of the stories are in their tenth draft, some have gone out to critique groups, some are gathering dust motes and some are just waiting for the right moment to jump out at me.

I am going to do PiBoIdMo again this year and see if I can come up with 30 more ideas in November along with SkaDaMo(30 sketches) NaNoWriMo (a novel in 50,000 words in a month) and of course RWA 50/30 except this year I will make NaNoWriMo and RWA be the same 50k.

I am going to finish off with some pictures of the curators cottage in the Portland botanic garden.
 This is the entry gate to the gardens.
 The cottage itself is a little museum filled with interesting items donated by locals and cared for by the historical society of Portland (Sorry Gwen and Margaret if I got that wrong) and of course open to the public for a nominal donation to help with upkeep. It is personned by wonderful volunteers who share their wealth of knowledge about the items on display, the cottage and its occupants. Their enthusiasm for preserving this little piece of history is commendable. Thanks to Gwen and Margaret for giving your time. The offset chimneys are noteworthy.

According to the tales, William Allitt and Henry Hedges had no children but Joseph Couch did and according to local legend it is said when he asked where his children were to sleep the local council replied "We are not in the business of housing children". They did however pay to have the cottage extended from one down stairs room to two. Three rooms in all, two downstairs and one upstairs, a narrow flight considered dangerous to the public in today's litigious standards, plus an out house, a camp oven and a woodshed. It makes me appreciate my modern abode. What a garden for the children to play in though, with two croquet lawns and  all the trees they could climb.

On that note my lovlies I shall finish up and drive back to Portland. Farewell and have a wonderful week.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Friday the third and then some

Today has been an unusual day to say the least. I spent an hour in court

from 9.30 to 10.30am and stood in the witness stand discussing a change in view with the Magistrate who allowed the changes. Then had a cup of coffee courtesy of my son who shouted me a take away cappucino. The cafe was extraordinarily busy today so it took more than ten minutes to have our coffees made but it is the only place I will have coffee. I am normally a tea drinker  and might have an iced coffee once or twice a year so it is very unusual for me to have coffee. Bright Bird Cafe in Warrnambool does make a delicious coffee and it was worth the wait.

I am going to Portland for 3 weeks. Portland Victoria Australia that is.
I plan to spend a great deal of time in the library catching up on words and art and walking to and from which should be good for me. So before leaving I filled the car with petrol and purchased two raffle tickets raising money for Peter's Project

for a prize of a life sized 'TheStig' cut out with its own metal frame.
So already weird. I managed to slide it into my tiny Barina over the top of the seats. It only just fitted. My friend Glenda gave my son and a mattress a lift to Portland and I am following later on with a carload of clothes and a dog and The Stig.

five days later...
I launched merrily into INKTOBER and most of the art is on my pinterest sent as a photograph from my phone to my son's phone then uploaded and then onto FB. I am temporarily residing in Portland to support my offspring and their offspring and they do not have internet...scream hair tear crazy I am home for the day catching up on emails and uploads and I just plugged in my scanner but I am off for lunch with a friend before I do that so I will be back in an hour or so to tell you all about my Inktober uploads. watch this space...

Lunch consisted of carrot, pumpkin and roasted capsicum soup with toasted sourdough. Very delicious.
So back to art and my ink creations for Inktober.
Day 1 WOOD  dip pen and ink
 day 2 Vintage. felt tip markers and fine liner
 day 3 Envelope. Inktense
 Day 4 Path
 Day 5 Spiral
 Day 6 Monument
Day 7 Fire

Day 8  enormous

I am enjoying expanding my thinking with ink. I borrowed some books on cartoonists and tattoo art from the Portland library so I can further explore the world of ink.

So my day home in Warrnambool is almost over, I washed my clothes and checked my email, organised things, paid bills, had lunch with a friend, picked up some groceries for the boys at home, hung out the washing, and here I am finishing the blog post I started last week. Staying 90km from home is a little awkward and disruptive and I so miss my own bed. I did say hello to it - yes I know, crazy right? It is all for a good cause so I will stop complaining but I sure am looking forward to life settling back to known routines.

I did managed to read all five of the novels in the Vampire Academy series and intend to write my mixed reactions up as a book review. I will share it when I am home next.

Time to go my dear readers. Hope your life is a little less tumultuous than mine. Sending you sunshine and hugs (eucalyptus scented ones).