Category Archives: Uncategorized

Longing

So many of us can relate to that desperate, all-consuming sense of longing. It’s the force which pull us along towards our goals and dreams and the very same force which grips us in a vice. We fail, we suffer. But what if we succeed? Can we ever be satisfied? I thought you would appreciate Rachel’s great post into our longings xx Rowena

rachelmankowitz

I live in a constant state of longing, for safety and comfort, for love, for excitement, for satisfaction, for a lot of things. Longing is both the engine that keeps me going, and the pain that keeps me stuck. There are some things that help for a little while, like: chocolate frosting, puppy kisses, therapy. I keep thinking that a publishing contract would help a lot, because I want to know for sure that my books will be published, not to make a million dollars, just to be sure that people will get the chance to read my work. Because one of my biggest longings is to be heard, and understood.

003.JPG “What is Mommy doing here? Why isn’t she scratching me?”

002.JPG “You’ll get used to it.”

I think that I use the word longing, rather than anticipation, though, because I don’t really believe these needs will ever be filled. I…

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Thursday Doors – August 9, 2018

I had to share this inspirational story of this incredible artist, Maud Lewis. It would be so much fun not just to paint your house, but really paint it.
Best wishes, Rowena

Norm 2.0

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing it, between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time), by using the blue link-up button below. 

Maudie’s Door  

Born Maud Dowley in March 1903 is South Ohio, Nova Scotia, Maud Lewis was one of Canada’s best-known folk artists.

Lewis who was severely hampered by advanced arthritis from birth, spent most of her adult life living in poverty with her husband Everett. For over three decades the couple lived together in his one-room shack in rural Nova Scotia without electricity or running water.

To make money Maud sold her paintings from their roadside home to tourists and passersby for about $5.00 each, and never more than…

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Shadowlands and the magic lantern…

I wanted to share Sue Vincent’s powerful and personal insights into prayer. I love it.
Best wishes,
Rowena

The Silent Eye

Every so often, I need a break from whatever is currently occupying my attention. Occasionally, I will watch a film. These are usually whatever I can find online and I seldom have a clear idea of what I fancy until something catches my eye.

Now, I freely admit that I am useless where films are concerned. I have neither been a movie buff, nor followed fashion. I’ve never… except for one brief period in Paris… had access to a cinema that showed arthouse films and even many of the cultural and cinematic classics escaped me, including those popular movies counted as old favourites by many.

Most movies aimed primarily at women have never really attracted me; Gone with the Wind was fifty years old before I saw it, I never did see Grease and I only watched Dirty Dancing only because it was a Christmas present. Anything more modern than…

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F- Frederick McCubbin- A-Z Challenge

As you may recall, my theme for the 2018 A-Z Challenge is Writing Letters to Dead Artists.

Frederick McCubbin (1855-1917) was an Australian Impressionist and a member of the famed Heidelberg School of artists, which played a critical role in the development of a distinctive Australian art. Moreover, through his position as an instructor and master of the School of Design at the National Gallery (1888 to his death in 1917) he taught a number of students who became prominent Australian artists, including Charles Conder and Arthur Streeton. Indeed, when I read artist Jo Sweatman’s reflection on the man, it’s clear both he and his wife Annie, did a lot to foster Australian art and artists:

“It is impossible to think of the Old Gallery days apart from Fred McCubbin, that dearly loved man. In both Mr. and Mrs. Mac students found inspiring and sympathetic friends, who kept open house on Sundays to painters, musicians, and senior students at their home in Brighton. Mr. Mac had a fine tenor voice, and, singing “The Erl King,” hands clenched, hair more than ever on end, and voice almost hoarse with horror, he thrilled one to the marrow. Mrs. Mac was full of energy and enterprise. She first discovered the Athenaeum Hall and helped to make it the present home of painters[1].

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Self-Portrait 1886 Art Gallery of NSW

His obituary also provides a helpful snapshot of the man:

“Mr. McCubbin was essentially a landscape painter, and showed remarkable skill in dealing with and realizing the intricacies, colour, and atmosphere of the Australian bush. Especially could he suggest the great spaces of the forest, the artistic tangle of the undergrowth, and the charm of solitude and silence. In 1906 he visited England, and the influence of Turner was apparent in all he did subsequent to his return, which added considerably to the charm of his landscapes.[2]

When you think about Australia back to McCubbin’s early days, European Australia was barely 100 years old and still an infant. News from Europe arrived by ship and was 3 months out-of-date by the time it arrived. So, it was very difficult for Australian artists to keep up with overseas trends, although our artists travelled overseas and brought ideas back with them and new immigrants did likewise. Moreover, vast distances and poor transport within the colonies compounded this global isolation. While most Australians lived in cities, in more rural areas, you couldn’t just  pop next door for a cup of tea, let alone chat about your latest painting.

So, any movement which could draw fledgling Australian artists together, was critical for the creation of a uniquely Australian art. By the way, I don’t just see that as a political or nationalist urge, but the need for the person on the street to find their own reflection in art and literature. To see our trees, our birds, skies and beaches populated by characters like ourselves, and not simply having someone else’s world thrust upon us.

Personally, I mainly know McCubbin through his work: On the Wallaby Track (1896. For me the first thing you notice, is that it’s distinctly Australian. I can smell the scent of eucalyptus wafting through the bush, and hear the dried up gum trees crunch and crackle under foot. You’re definitely not in England with “her pleasant pastures green”.

By the way, “On the Wallaby”, refers to going bush looking for work. There was a serious  economic recession in the 1890s, and this battling swagman doesn’t only have himself to worry about, but also a wife and baby to feed. It can therefore be taken as a comment on the harsh economic times. By the way, McCubbin’s wife, Annie, and son modelled for the painting along with his brother-in-law. So it was a staged, constructed scene and not something he stumbled across.

On the Wallaby Track remains a fairly well-known work. In 1981, it came to life in a Kit Kat commercial:

In 1981, it also appeared on the $2.00 Christmas stamp. Indeed, I remember tearing it off a Christmas parcel from my grandparents, soaking it off and adding it to my stamp collection.  I was 12 years old.

However, once you put On the Wallaby onto a Christmas stamp, the scene takes on a different story. Indeed, the mother becomes Mary, the baby is Jesus and the swagman becomes Joseph.

Well, at least that’s what I used to see when the stamp first came out. The last thing on my mind back then, was being a Mum and having children. Indeed, I wasn’t too keen on all the trappings of womanhood back then, and this could well have been around the time that I threw in my angel wings to become a shepherd in the Church Christmas Eve Service. That had nothing to do with cross-dressing or wanting to be a man. Rather, it acknowledged dissatisfaction with the limitations of being “a young lady” i.e. being imprisoned in fancy dresses and patent leather shoes, which couldn’t get dirty. I wanted to have fun, and having fun should never be political.

However, I look at that painting through different eyes now that I’m a mother of two children. Now, I not only know what it is to have a babe on your lap, but also to see them grow up and almost disappear within their adolescent features.  So, now, I look at that painting and think of me out in the bush with my husband and our first born.

Jonathon &Rowena Coles Bay

 

Oh how times have changed!

So, I thought Slim Dusty singing Waltzing Matilda would be a suitable musical accompaniment to On The Wallaby Track.

That reminds me, family and being a family man are integral to reaching any kind of understanding of Frederick McCubbin and his work. He was the third of eight children himself and he and his wife Annie, had seven children. He worked in his parents’ bakery in the early days as a cart driver, and various family members posed for his works. Moreover, with the weekend open houses, it seems that both Fred and Annie McCubbin extended their notion of “family” to include his family of fellow artists. They fostered young talent and their home was a fertile breeding ground for Australian artists, where they could collaborate and exchange ideas. Indeed, their son, Louis and a grandson, Charles, both became artists.

So, now without further ado, he’s my letter to Frederick McCubbin…

Letter to Frederick McCubbin

Dear Frederick,

You passed away just over a hundred years ago, and I assume you’ve been resting in peace ever since.

Well, I’m sorry to disturb you, although I can see you being quite enthusiastic to jump out of your box, and find fresh inspiration to paint. I wonder how you would depict Australia today? What stands out and gives us a unique sense of identity? Or, does that still exist? Has Australian culture been diluted so much, that there isn’t anything left? I cringe whenever my kids refer to tomato sauce as “ketchup”. What’s the world coming to? I sometimes wonder whether we’ve given away our souls, without even questioning how precious they are. Mind you, trying to define an Australian has never been easy. However, while I struggle to pinpoint what it is, I have a sense of what it’s not.

By the way, I hope you noticed the stamp on the envelope. Does it look familiar? How does it feel to have one of your paintings on an Australian stamp? You must be pretty stoked. I really love: On the Wallaby Track. It feels so real. Like I could just walk into the canvas, pick up your baby boy, and hold him in my arms. Indeed, I could even switch places and slip into position with my own son.However, that could also have something to do with this painting appearing in a Kit Kat commercial.

Anyway, I look forward to hearing from you!

Warm regards,

Rowena

A Letter From Frederick McCubbin

Dear Rowena,

Thank you so much for your letter. I showed Annie and the rest of the family the stamp, and we popped the champagne. It was such an honour.

As much as I was consumed with creating an Australian art back in the day, I’ve been away too long to have a finger on the pulse these days. What I did notice, was that no one talks to each other anymore. You’re all hiding behind those silly screens. Indeed, after awhile, I started to wonder if anyone has any personality or character at all. Is this what your generation calls “the zombie apocalypse”?

Anyway, I have a very important question for you, Rowena…What happened to your painting? Why did you stop?

Last night, I snuck into your house and your pieces weren’t even signed.

Are you ashamed of them?

What are you hiding behind?

It’s time for you to come out, my dear.

Don’t be so afraid.

You have your own way of seeing. Your own unique vision. Seize it with both hands and ooze it into your words and onto the canvas. Your time will come.

Warm regards,

Fred.

References

[1] Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), Saturday 5 April 1941, page 4

[2] Observer (Adelaide, SA : 1905 – 1931), Saturday 29 December 1917, page 12

Further Reading

Frederick McCubbin – Australian Dictionary of Biography

http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/australianimpressionism/education/insights_intro.html

https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/essay/the-art-of-frederick-mccubbin-a-view-of-his-materials-and-technique/

https://www.artistsfootsteps.com/html/McCubbin_Interior.htm

 

Five Things we should Know by Now…

I know we get a lot of advice about being a writer and how to write, but these points seemed to be a different and great advice xx Rowena

anita dawes and jaye marie

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These are some of things I have been reliably informed, are essential if we want to make a success of our writing. In retrospect, there is possibly too much information out there, and all of it supposedly the right way to write, that it can be downright confusing. At least I have found it to be so.
And to think, all this time I assumed it was a simple as picking up a pen!

1. There is no such thing as the ‘perfect’ book.
This came as quite a surprise to me, because I’m sure I have read quite a few that are, at least in my opinion. But according to some of these experts, I shouldn’t be striving to produce the perfect book. (I shouldn’t?)
All this time I have been trying to write well, constantly comparing my feeble efforts with that of my idols, something I have been…

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Puppies!

As you may recall, a close friend of mine volunteers for a pet rescue organization. Well, she messaged me during the week and mentioned they had PUPPIES!!! Of course, I invited us round for a playdate. Indeed, we were there in a flash and my husband even came along to supervise procedings. He had grave concerns about us arriving home with a pup! I wonder why????

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My daughter with one of the pups.

Coco and her sister, Daisy, are apparently black, curley-haired retrievers and are six weeks old. They are pure black, except Coco has a small splash of white on her chest. Both of them looked like miniature versions of our Border Collie x Cavalier, Lady, only they have shorter ears.

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The puppies up on the trampoline with the girls.

Not surprisingly, these pups were irresistable, and it’s amazing how I can find them trying to chew up my shoes and even my good jumper endearing. Of course, there was that typical Australian; “she’ll be right, mate” nonchalence, but they were so cute that I almost couldn’t care. I even let them chew on my finger.

We will be getting a second dog in the not to distant future. Indeed, my friend has told me there are some border collie puppies coming up and I’m thinking about joining up as a volunteer and hosting these. See if one of them clicks. So far, I haven’t been seriously tempted by any of my friend’s lodgers. They’ve been wonderful dogs but I still feel lie we’re hanging out for another Border Collie pup.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the pics.

xx Rowena