Tag Archives: Van Gogh

Reflections- Letters to Dead Artists…A-Z Challenge 2018.

Welcome Back to Letters to Dead Artists, my theme for the 2018 A-Z Challenge.

For the entire month of April, and a few weeks leading up to the big launch, I have been traveling the world with my ball of red string  and exchanging letters with 26 Dead Artists, bringing together quite a divergent group of artists to forge something new both in terms of art, but also in terms of connecting up my own dots with that very same red string and becoming more connected within myself.

Map Final

26 Artists across the world all joined by a single, red string.

Perhaps, I should’ve thought twice before setting out on an epic adventure, albeit of the literary bent, on April Fool’s Day. Maybe, that’s why I set my sights so high that I was looking somewhere over the mountain and up towards the summit of Everest, when I decided to fly by the seat of my pants and write 26 letters to dead artists in 30 days without much preparation. Indeed, I wasn’t that unlike Bilbo Baggins who just walked out of his home in The Shire and set off without any preparation at all.

Then, like a crazed maniac, I researched, introspected and wrote well after midnight every night, in addition to the realities of being wife, mother, chief cook and taxi driver and managed to put together 55 088 words. I’m immensely proud of myself, and while this achievement goes well and truly beyond the scope of the challenge and readers like yourselves, I’m now well on the way towards a manuscript. That is my true goal, and I also hope that these writings are helping other people who are also stuck between a rock and a hard place. Writing and getting my book published will help raise me up, and I hope reading it will give others encouragement and hope…a reason to persevere.

While this series has the quirky title: Letters to Dead Artists, it could also be called: My journey with 26 Artists and Getting to Know Myself Better, which is nowhere near as catchy.

I am still learning so much about these artists and am yet to read through the series from start to finish. So, it is still too soon for me to really reach any conclusions and my observations would be very incomplete.

However, I have noticed that many of these artists lived with chronic medical conditions and/or disabilities and many of them experienced significant grief. Whether this intense suffering made the artist or not, I’m not sure. As I said, I still have a long way to go.

As for myself, working through this series has uncovered my own stifling perfectionism and an intense desire to avoid making mistakes, which has been paralyzing me on many fronts, and is clearly holding me back. In the past, I’ve always thought a perfectionist was that person who is meticulously precise and always gets it right. However, there’s a flip side to that…the person who desires perfection, yet feels so dreadfully inadequate, that they never get started. Ironically, other people could even perceive this person has great talent and might even have the external accolades to prove it. Yet, the perfectionist themselves can’t see it and is their own harshest critic. Indeed, this intense drive towards perfection can even claim its host. Of course, we’ve all known creatives who’ve seemingly burned up in their own flame.

The need to balance light and dark, relaxation and intensity is another life skill I uncovered during the series. I found that most of the artists I’ve related to in that really intense, soul mate  “Nano Nano” kind of way,  were expressionists and most of them had the intensity of a nuclear bomb, especially Munch’s The Scream. My connection to many of these paintings harks back to my youth. I found revisiting them now, especially all at once, too much and I found myself needing to detour to Monet’s Garden. All that angsty steam had to escape. It couldn’t keep building up and building up without an outlet. I also had a day off where I had lunch in the city with my mother and daughter at a swanky Japanese restaurant on Sydney Harbour and finished up at the Art Gallery of NSW approaching art in a much more relaxing way. Enjoying the colours, and catching up with “old friends” I hadn’t seen for awhile, which is also something I need to do in the real world. Work towards a better balance between the solitary writer’s life which is enhanced by my health and disability issues, and my extroverted, socially-driven self. These two seeming opposites need to be managed better to reach more of balance, happiness and all-round sense of well being. While “I write, therefore I am” might be a catchy motto, writers still need to look after our spiritual, physical, social, what ever other selves might be hidden under the hood. That’s where as much as I detest time management and putting limits on my writing time, it has its place…especially for an obsessive like me.

Are you like that? Could you write underwater?

Envelope to Georgia O'Keeffe

It’s a massive undertaking to read all of these letters, but perhaps you can pick and choose. That said, I encourage you to read some of the letters to artists you may not know, so you can also expand your horizons.

Since the challenge ended, I’ve also added a piece of music to each artist/painting to give the series that added boost. It is a truly sensory experience. These are all listed below.

It the list below, you’ll find the name of the artist and if you click on that, it will take you through to the full post. Next to that, you’ll find a link through to the music which I’ve linked up to each artist and then there’a photo of one work per artist. So, if you’re in the mood to spread your wings, I encourage you to take up. I have learned so much through writing this series and who knows when you might need to know some of this seeming trivia.

 

I hope you enjoy the series…

A –Z Letters to Dead Artists

Introduction

A- Alexandros of Antioch – Elvis Costello performing: “She”.

Venus de Milo


Alexandros of Antioch Venus de Milo, The Louvre

B- Sandro BotticelliO Fortuna – Carmina Burana

400px-Sandro_Botticelli_-_La_nascita_di_Venere_-_Google_Art_Project_-_edited

Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus, Uffizi Gallery.

C- Grace Cossington Smith – Kookaburra Sits on the Old Gum Tree

 

The-Bridge-In-Curve-quot--Grace-Cossington-Smith

Grace Cossington Smith, Bridge in Curve, Art Gallery of NSW

D Edgar Degas – Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Little Swans.

edgar-degas-Little-dancer

Edgar Degas, The Little Dancer, Musee d’Orsay

 E- Eileen Agar– Sia’s Chandelier

 

Eileen Agar wearing Ceremonial Hat for Eating Bouillabaisse

F- Frederick McCubbin – Slim Dusty singing Waltzing Matilda

 

Fred-McCubbin-On-The-Wallaby-Track Stamp

G- Vincent Van Gogh – Don McLean’s Starry Starry Night

 

Starry Night MOMA

Vincent Van Gogh, Starry Night

H- Hans Heysen – Dame Nellie Melba singing Voi che sapete (1910)

Heysen 1912

Hans Heysen, “The Old Blacksmith’s Shop, Hahndorf.” (1912)

 I- Isabel BishopDolly Parton’s 9 to 5

 

220px-Young_Woman_by_Isabel_Bishop

Isabel Bishop, “Young Woman”, 1937. Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

J           Jackson Pollock– Elvis’s version of: I Did It My Way

blue-poles

Jackson Pollock, Blue Poles, Australian National Gallery.

K- Wassily Kandinsky –  Arnold Schoenberg’s  Transfigured Night for String Quartet

Vassily_Kandinsky,_1913_-_Composition_7

Kandinsky, Composition VII, 1913

L: Norman Lindsay Galapagos Duck performing I Feel Good at the Norman Lindsay Gallery.

The_Magic_Pudding

M- Edvard Munch – Lindsay Stirling’s thrilling violin rendition of The Phantom of the Opera. 

 

Munch_The_Scream_lithography

Edvard Munch, The Scream, 1895 © The Munch Museum/The Munch Ellingsen Group

N –  Sidney Nolan – Peter Allen singing: I Still Call Australia Home

Kelly with clouds

Sidney Nolan, Ned Kelly, National Gallery of Australia

O  Georgia O’Keeffe Frank Sinatra’s New York. New York

_Georgia_O'Keeffe_-_New_York_Street_with_Moon__1925

Georgia O’Keeffe, New York Sky With Moon 1925, Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection on loan at the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

P Pablo Picasso – John Lennon’s Imagine

Picasso Peace Dove

 Q Queenie McKenzieYothu Yindi – Timeless Land

 

God sending the Holy Spirit Queenie McKenzie

  R Auguste Rodin – John Farnham’s The Voice

Rodin_TheThinker_Rodin Museum Paris

Rodin, The Thinker

 S Salvadore DaliGhostbusters (If there’s something strange in your neighbourhood…)

Persistence of Memory 1931

Salvador Dalí The Persistence of Memory 1931, MOMA.

 T Albert Tucker – INXS – The Devil Inside

 

The City 1946

Albert Tucker, Images of Modern Evil…City, National Gallery of Victoria

Detour Sign

The Great Detour to Monet’s Garden

Accompanied by Franz Liszt – Liebestraum (Love Dream)

Why We Need Monet’s Garden.

Monet’s Greatest Work

The Pondering Photographer in “Monet’s” Pond

                                                  ………

 U Paolo Uccello – Two Cellos playing  Game of Thrones

Paolo_Uccello The Crucifixion The Met

V – Leonardo Da Vinci–David Bowie Heroes to reflect his relationship with the Mona Lisa (I will be King, and you, you will be Queen).  I’ve chosen Star Man,  to reflect the man of science and the great inventor.

Mona Lisa

Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa, The Louvre.

W Andrew Newell WyethCeltic Woman singing You Raise Me Up

Walking Through Christina’s World

 

Christinasworld
Andrew Newell Wyeth, Christina’s World, MOMA.

_______________________________________________________________

stamp news flash in red

*NEWSFLASH – DEAD ARTISTS HIJACK TRAIN*

____________________________________________________________________________________

X -Gao Xi – Grieg – In the Hall of the Mountain King

 

guo-xi_snow-mountains-664x1024-500x900

Guo Xi, Snow Mountains.

Y – Jack Butler Yeats – The Dubliners: The Town I Loved So Well and Leonard Cohen, Alleluia

Yeats Man In a Train Thinking

Jack Butler Yeats, Man in a Train Thinking, 1927

Z – Shibata Zeshin – Enya’s Echoes in Rain.

Shibata Zeshin- On Being An Artist

 

grasshopper-and-sunflower-1877

Shibata Zeshin, The Grasshopper & the Sunflower

Z+     My Favourite Dead Artist

Choir drawing 1975

……………………………………….

 

Did you have any favourites among these artists? Which one really spoke to you?

Also, did you take part in the A-Z Challenge either as a participant or a reader? How did it go? I’d love to hear from you and will be catching on more of the reading side of things now the writing has settled down.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Poem: Welcome To the Yellow House

And he coaxed:

“Chirpy bird,

chirpy bird,

rest beside me,

chirpy bird.

The music of your spangled song,

thaws the freeze of love gone wrong.

 

Chirpy Bird.

chirpy bird.

Look what I’ve got,

chirpy bird.

Golden seeds

plucked from my heart.

Feast on these,

fresh shoots will start.”

 

But reason warned:

“Chirpy bird,

Chirpy bird.

Watch fast footsteps, Chirpy bird.

Your beak does peak

to chasms deep

as he bathes in your sweet

tweet

tweet

tweet.

But though he sometimes calls you “dear”,

note he’ll never let you near.”

 

Oh, Chirped bird!

Chirped bird!

Beak jammed in crack,

wings tied to torture wrack.

With a blind man’s bash,

your fragile bones he had to smash.

His yellow house was painted grand.

Do you think you’ll ever understand?

I only ever hear you cry:

“Lord, tell me why?

Just tell me why.”

 

Baited bird.

Beaten bird.

Chirped out bird

flopped in my hand.

Your crumpled feathers,

could I carress,

but you’d die

inside a comfort nest.

 

So, I offer you back

to the outstretched sky.

Spread your wings!

It’s time to fly.

Fresh shoots can spring

from golden seeds.

They’re ripe for thee,

my chirpy bird.

Eat & Fly free.

Rowena Curtin  14th August, 1992.

bird-1-1

Chirpy Bird.

It feels quite surreal these days, to reflect on the horrors of heartbreak in the years before I met my husband and “settled down”.

This poem revisits my trip to Europe in 1992, and the horrors of heartbreak. It’s title comes from Van Gogh’s house in Arles, which appeared in the painting The Yellow House. I chose Van Gogh’s house for the title as I was rapidly descending into the  same sort of anguished madness one associates with Van Gogh.

I hadn’t seen the painting when I named the poem, and the actual painting is much more conventional and “tame” than I’d expected, especially when you think of Van Gogh’s emotional and mental expressionism his works like:  Starry Night, which oozes with raw, unbridled emotion.

My “friend” used to call me “Chirpy Bird”, and seemed to find me a breath o fresh air. He’d never met an Australian before and I remember him and some of our friends wondering whether it was just me or Australians in general.

Due to circumstances my friend and I could only be friends and that was accepted and understood. However, emotions aren’t known for sticking to the rules and while I can’t speak for him, mine blew straight through those bounds, at least in my heart. For those of you who remember that great dating classic: When Harry Met Sally, friendship between single men and women is often fraught. I love this scene. Our “friendship” ended in a huge emotional vortex and then the bucket of ice hit. Ouch!

As I ripped my heart out and through it over  Pont Neuf long after midnight, I felt like I was the only person ever to have suffered such anguish. A sense of angst which permeated every cell like a seeping poison. Instead of being the wind beneath my wings, my friend brutally cut them off and threw them away. Yet, in a strange paradoxical sense, he also set me free. Being enslaved to a love which could never be, would’ve been a much great  thing, but you don’t se that at the time. You only hurt.

By the way, I actually visited Van Gogh’s home in Cuesmes in Greater Mons, Belgium with my “friend”, which also makes the link to Van Gogh more pertinent.

 

xx Rowena

 

 

Virtual Cafe Crawl Through Paris.

“The last time I saw Paris, her heart was warm and gay, I heard the laughter of her heart in every street café.”

-Oscar Hammerstein II

If a mighty caffeine hit is what you’re after, you’ve come to the right place. I’m inviting you to join me on an almighty cafe crawl through Paris’s left bank, as I desperately try to find the cafe where I used to hang out back in the Summer of 1992.

By the way, I apologise if our tour darts and criss-crosses all over the place. This is a virtual tour and you’ll find me curled up in my ink-stained writer’s chair inconveniently parked in Australia.  So, the dots could well be scattered all over the map.

“You can’t escape the past in Paris, and yet what’s so wonderful about it is that the past and present intermingle so intangibly that it doesn’t seem to burden.”

-Allen Ginsberg

Anyway, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m desperately trying to find the cafe I hung out at with my friends in Paris.

cafe-st-michel

Our cafe located somewhere near St Michel.

So, after much preambling, you’re invited to join me on a cafe crawl through the Left Bank. By the way, I can’t help wondering whether we’re being joined by the ghosts of creatives past…Hemingway, Cézanne, Picasso, Braque and Jim Morrison. Who knows?

Our first stop is La Palette at 43 Rue Seine on the corner of Rue Jacques Callot in St Germain. It has a large terrace overlooking Rue Jacques- Callot. The restaurant’s façade and the interior of the second salon, are registered as historic monuments. The second salon has a larger back room with dining tables, and is stylishly decorated with ceramics from the 1930s-40s. Meanwhile, the bistro is traditionally a gathering place for Fine Arts students, nearby gallery owners and artists. La Pallete was frequented by Cézanne, Picasso,  Braque and later by Ernest Hemingway and Jim Morrison. Today’s celebrities include Harrison Ford and Julia Roberts.

“But Paris was a very old city and we were young and nothing was simple there, not even poverty, nor sudden money, nor the moonlight, nor right and wrong nor the breathing of someone who lay beside you in the moonlight.”

-Ernest Hemingway

Our second Stop is Les Deux Magots. Its outdoor terrace is apparently a great spot to soak up the atmosphere of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. From there, you can also see the historic Saint Germain des Pres Church and Abbey. The nave and bell tower date back to 1014 AD, while its foundations date back to 543 AD. So, definitely worth checking out.

Les Deux Magots was founded in 1812 at 23 Rue de Buci and in 1873, it moved to Place St-Germain-des-Prés. In 1885, the shop gave way to an alcohol-serving café, which took on the name.

The Café started playing an important role in Parisian cultural life and Verlaine, Rimbaud and Mallarmé, to name a few, were regulars at the café. In 1933, the cafe launched its Prix des Deux Magots award. This is a major french litarary award presented to new works, which are generally more off-beat and less conventional than the more mainstream Prix Goncourt.

Les Deux Magots has also been frequented by numerous famous artists including: Elsa Triolet, Louis Aragon, André Gide, Jean Giraudoux, Picasso, Fernand Léger, Prévert, Hemingway and others, the café hosted Surrealists under the aegis of André Breton, and Existentialists around Sartre and Beauvoir.

Our next stops are going to be a lot quicker…

3) Cafe Dauphine 17 Rue Dauphine

4) The Luxenbourg  4, Place Edmond Rostand

5) Cafe Le Depart 1, Place Saint-Michel 75005, Paris

6) Cafe de Flore  172, Boulevard Saint-Germain

7) Cafe Le Buci  52, rue Dauphine 75006 PARIS

Finally, I stumbled across Cafe Conti at 1 Rue de Buci. Finally, this could be it. I have emailed the details to a friend, hoping he can see or remember something I can not. 

By this stage, Geoff is also home from work and I’m handing him the photo album and the laptop to help playing spot the difference. Did my photo match the image? We couldn’t be sure and in the end, all we had was eye-strain.

In a way, I hope it is. However, because it closed this year, I’d rather it was somewhere else. I’ve always wanted to go back and enjoy another cheap cafe au lait watching the crowds pass by. I’m sure my friends are still sitting there, looking exactly as they did 24 years ago.  After all, haven’t you ever noticed how memory does that. It freezes moments in time for eternity.

By the  way, speaking of Cafe Conti, it’s recent claim to fame is its dog. Or, perhaps I should be saying that the dog is famous. His name is Orson and he’s an exceptionally cute Cairn Terrier. You can read about his travels here: Orson Paris dog and there’s also an exceptionally cute video.

So, that ends our rather exhilarating yet exhausting cafe crawl of Paris’s Left Bank. I hope none of you objected to me appropriating Van Gogh’s Café Terrace at Night, also known as The Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum and transporting it from Arles to Paris. For me, it’s the ultimate French cafe scene. I had to use it.

Do you have a favourite cafe in Paris? Please share. I love a good story served up with a coffee and a French pastry is an extra special bonus.

Thank you for joining me!

xx Rowena

 

Wet Weekend Coffee Share 5th June, 2016

Welcome to another Weekend Coffee Share Australian Style. That means it’s Winter here and we’re thinking Hot Chocolate, although I’m currently drinking tea.

What are you sipping on? No doubt, many of you are trying to quench the Summer heat with a long, Iced Tea.

Autumn Leaf Palm Beach Sydney

Autumn Leaf, Pittwater, Palm Beach, Sydney

Personally, each season has its own character and beauty. Summers I love the long extended hours of sunlight and going to the beach at the end of the day. Autumn…I usually appreciate relief from the stinking hot Summer heat and the occasional flash of stunning Autumn colours. Winter is a time of hibernation, rest and restoring the soul before events take off again in Spring. Spring…it’s great to see the sun again and enjoy a bit of sun before it gets too hot. I enjoy other people’s gardens.

Spring and Autumn are my favourite seasons and Autumn edges out in front. I love those stunning Autumn leaves with their kaleidoscope of reds, oranges and yellows which glow like nature’s stained-glass windows backlit by the sun.

If you’re joining me this weekend, then you’ll need a good raincoat, gumboots, umbrella and a bit of pluck and courage to take on the heavy rain. That is, unless you’re a duck.

It seems like someone’s upended the heavens and that great swimming pool in the sky, is falling down. Still falling down. There have been dangerous, surf conditions, localised flooding and absolutely no incentive for heading out. For us, that’s been limited to driving the kids around. We’re no longer that interested in chasing the bright lights. Too much hard work…especially in the rain! The Georges River in Southern Sydney has burst its banks, along with the Wilson River in Lismore. As it’s flat around here, I’m sure there’s some localised flooding but we’re fine at home.

Last Thursday, I had my first job interview in around 4 years. It’s a one day a week job at my daughter’s school working in community liaison. I’ve done this type of work before but I haven’t seriously returned to paid work after having chemo two years ago. I had my last job for 5-6 years and so it’s been a long time since I’ve been through the interview process. Even if I don’t get the job, I am pleased with how it went and how I came across. These days, I’m more concerned about finding the right fit, than having to push the proverbial uphill to “make it work”.

I find out if I’ve got the job tomorrow, which may mean I’m pulling my old business-self back out of the closet during the next week. I am quite used to dramatic changes around here but as I was sorting out Summer and Winter clothes this afternoon, I was consciously aware that those business clothes might need to be moving centre stage…yikes!

This brings me to today’s job…sorting out our Summer and Winter clothes and boxing the Summer clothes up and having some snug woolly jumpers to wear, instead of needing a dog on my lap. Well, make that in addition to to dog!

Speaking of dogs, Bilbo has parked himself right next to my chair and his nose is almost on the laptop. You see, I’m eating a Vegemite sandwich with my cup of tea and dogs LOVE Vegemite. Lady, who as second fiddle has to sit further away, is lying on the floor just as keen but more of a sleeping assassin.

Van Gogh Sunflowers

Sunflowers – Vincent Van Gogh.

With all this rain, I’ll need to hang up my latest art acquisition: Sunflowers by Van Gogh. While other fools have forked out many millions for their Van Gogh, I picked mine up at the charity shop for $20.00. It might be a print but those sunflowers are still smiling at me and spreading their much needed cheer! Just what I need with the gloomy wet outside! Read more here.

By the way, my weekly flash fiction also fitted in well with all this  rain: A Rainbow In The Sky

How’s your week been ? Hope you’re all doing well.

Thanks for popping by! This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana at  Part-Time Monster . You can click here for the linky to read the other posts.

xx Rowena

 

Sunflowers-My Budget Van Gogh

“One may have a blazing hearth in one’s soul and yet no one ever came to sit by it. Passers-by see only a wisp of smoke from the chimney and continue on their way”

Vincent Van Gogh

Nothing like buying a million dollar painting for $20.00 from your local Opportunity of Charity Shop. While unfortunately my find is clearly a print and I’m forced to visualise the brushstrokes etched into the thick golden paint, it could nearly be the original.

Not a bad find for $20.00 and our renovator’s nightmare can actually feel a tad loved as I add such a spirited piece of beauty to its ho hum walls, especially when you consider that other of Van Gogh’s Sunflower masterpieces, Vase With 15 Sunflowers last sold for $39.7 (£24.75) on March 30, 1987.

Now, all I need to do is work out someway of turning our humble “beach” backyard with its sandy soil, into a magnificent field of smiling sunflowers with their stunning faces all turning to the sun.

Do you have a favourite Van Gogh?  Please share.

xx Rowena

 

Coffee By Moonlight

Welcome to another Weekend Coffee Share!

How was your week? I hope you’ve had a good week but I also understand that many of you have a lot on your plate and things aren’t easy. That’s what friends and community is for. Somewhere to rest your weary soul and feel the tension release.

If we were having coffee this week, we’d be looking at the night sky and the stars and philosophising. I’ve been in a reflective, contemplative and even vegetative state for the last few days after the excitement of our son’s triumphant return from the Australian Scouting Jamboree. It’s been a welcome relief from the weeks of renovating and cleaning which went on while he was away.

DSC_9267

Of course, when you go into his room now, it looks like it’s always been this way. That we’ve done nothing, which in effect glosses over all our hard work. In some ways, this defeats part of the purpose of renovating his room. That is to show him we love him and for him to look at his room and feel loved, valued, special. At the same time, we didn’t want him to feel guilty or that we weren’t happy to do the work. It truly has been a labour of love where our hearts have been turned inside out and plastered to those walls. Will he still feel the intensity and purpose of that love if he can’t appreciate what it took? I don’t know.

Perhaps. we should’ve stuck post-it notes all over the place, pointing out all our many hidden battles. “Patched hole in wall here”, “This skirting board has been sculpted to accommodate crooked wall, poorly situated powerpoints and network cables”. Or, perhaps I should simply stick a post-it  with “OMG” in huge caps on there. There were also edges we went over and over with blue then white then blue paint as we kept wandering out of the lines. I could also write a note documenting how my husband was staying up really late working on the room every night after exceptionally early starts and doing overtime at work. Of course, through the usual twists and turns of fate, a really busy time at work just had to coincide with an urgent project at home. The endless days of very heavy rain also slowed things down.

So, we ended up having quite a tight deadline towards the end. Of course, we didn’t need anyone to tell us that our best intentions would be destroyed if his bed was still out in the lounge room and his room under construction when he returned.  After 11 nights of camping on a rough stretcher, we would have been done for. The absolute worst parents in the world!!

I should also add that just the whole prospect of painting the skirting boards for his room, triggered a terrible near panic attack where I became completely paralyzed by my fear of failure, making a mistake: Scaredy Mum!The boards were yet to be fitted so it wasn’t difficult. However,  as heavy rain prevented me from getting started, these fears really festered badly. Sure, it’s difficult to know what your capabilities are as a person living with chronic health and disability but that’s no excuse for dropping your bundle. Particular now I’ve been reminded about another aspect of Lao Tzu’s quote: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. At least for me, that first step is the hardest part and after that it’s smooth sailing. I did encounter difficulties painting the wall and became dizzy but I put in a respectable effort.

The dog had a bit to say about my efforts there and also wrote his tips for fighting fear: Dog’s Guide to Fighting Fear

In the end, we know full well that the lad won’t appreciate what went into fixing up his room until he’s a Dad doing the same for his kids. Then, he’ll know and we might even get a phone call.

That’s just the way it is.

So, now that’s done, I’m pleased to announce that I’ve hung up my paintbrush and handed in my resignation. No more renovating! Hey, who am I kidding? When you have an old crooked house, renovation is like the good old days of painting the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Once it’s finally over a one end, you’re back to the beginning again!

By the way, Mister did appreciate his room. No huge leaps of excitement but it was deemed “very good”.

DSC_9302

Also, he said returning home was “weird”. Weird to have electricity again after 12 days going without and it was also “weird” having somewhere “comfortable to sleep”. Not unsurprisingly,  since his return he’s spent much time playing on his iPad, curled up in his blanket in bed.

I should also add that after missing Mister all that time, the dogs barely spoke to him when he first came back and gave him the real cold shoulder treatment. By the end of the night, however, all was forgiven.

jonathon & bilbo

Boy & Dog Reunited.

School goes back in 11 days so now this naughty, rebellious little night owl re-establishing something approaching normal sleeping patterns. Somehow, I need to acclimatize to waking up at 6.30AM to drive our daughter to school 45 minutes away. Instead of being able to have a daytime nap, I’ll be staying up there to bring her home in the afternoon. This is also going to dramatically play around with my writing and getting on with the Book Project, especially until I find a cosy nook where I can write and call my own. Once she’s settled, she’ll be catching the train and bus and I’ll probably just be dropping her at the station and picking her up. She might even become fully independent. I’m just playing it by ear.

Tomorrow, we’ll be off to buy Mister’s high school uniform. Not sure whether I’m truly ready for that either. That said, it would help if I got out of my pyjamas!

In terms of my writing in the last week, I’ve been rather inspired by Mister’s trip away at the Australian Scouting Jamboree and all his adventures. I had pretty low expectations of finding out much of what happened at camp and I was delighted to overhear him talking on the phone…his  Jamboree Tips. He sounded so grown up.These make for entertaining reading.

440px-Atrax_Robustus

As time went by, tales of Funnel Web Spiders began to emerge. These are considered the most deadly spiders in the world. Apparently, while I was concerned about him being out in a tent in the heavy rain, he was scared of Funnel Webs. It is mating season and the male funnel webs are out on the prowl in search of true love. A couple of funnel webs were found close to their tent and then a warning was issued that funnel webs had been found in scout’s bags returning home. Mister promptly ejected his bag out of his room and dumped it at MY feet. Perhaps, I should’ve been proud that he had such faith in his old Mum but not being the most attentive soul, I didn’t have a lot of faith myself. I have bifocals and sometimes they even miss the blatantly obvious. At the same time, I have  my self-respect and didn’t want to stoop to the “wait til your father gets home” routine. You can read the full story here.

book pile

I am also trying to reduce my book pile. After scouring the book shelves, however, I’ve only found 6 books to move on. For some reason, I just can’t find the heart to be ruthless to such good friends and good intentions. Perhaps, I’ll have better luck with the kids’ books. Trouble is, I like reading some of them too!

Anyway, thank you so much for joining me for coffee and I hope you have a great week ahead. This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share  and here’s the link up.

xx Rowena

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Expressing Myself… and my struggle to blog about it!

This is a reverse post. It’s actually my third attempt to write about my foray into crayon art. Note that it’s now Friday 4th January and I’ve been trying to write this post ever since Boxing Day!

Thursday 3rd January, 2013

I'd do anything for a quiet cup of tea and a chance to catch up on my blog!

I’d do anything for a quiet cup of tea and a chance to catch up on my blog!

Trying to get anything done during school holidays is mission impossible.

I don’t know whether you can appreciate just how hard it is to string a row of thoughts together when your kids are on the loose at home. I know some people can actually work from home quite successfully during the school holidays but I’m having trouble breathing, let alone managing something more complex. The kids are either under foot or up to mischief. I seemingly can’t turn my back without some disastrous mess erupting, seemingly out of nowhere.

We have also been attending Beach Mission at a local school and haven’t been home much. Consequently, my blog, my violin and the house are looking rather neglected. I miss my blog and my violin dearly however, when it comes to the house, neglect can be a blessing. With any luck, it might stay exactly how it is. As I’m sure you know yourself, school holidays aren’t kind on homes and I have no delusions about the house getting any better before it gets worse…or even self-destructs!!

So here I am and all I want to do is write a brief post about doing crayon art we did way back on Boxing Day, choose a couple of photos and click on the publish button. Surely, it shouldn’t be this difficult?!!

Hold that thought.

The dog is now barking ferociously at something out the front. I am in the office overlooking the backyard and the kids are missing despite the television being on. (Isn’t the TV supposed to be the ultimate babysitter?? My kids also received iPods for Christmas and they’re also supposed to be like a drug but they’re not working and I feel like taking them back to the shop in disgust. My kids can barely sit still.) Mr was last seen heading out the back door with a ball of wool he was tying around the garden furniture, around the rose bush and I now suspect he has absconded somewhere down the street.

I’ll be back…

Amelia creates a spider's web. Daddy beware!

Amelia creates a spider’s web. Daddy beware!

I actually found Miss out the front trying red wool around magnolia tree, the letterbox and around and around the trampoline, recreating a scene out of Entrapment starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta Jones. I’m just hoping Daddy doesn’t get stuck when he arrives home from work. He certainly doesn’t like getting caught up in their webs!

Rewind, rewind, rewind…Boxing Day…crayon art…

After being at home with the kids for only half the day, I am feeling sleepy, very, very sleepy!!!!!

Wednesday 2nd January, 2013

I know I probably shouldn’t be blogging in the middle of the day, especially when we are having guests for dinner tonight and there are layers and layers of clutter stacked up on just about every flat surface in the house (chairs, tables, floors) but I just needed to chill out and connect with someone on my side and have a metaphorical cup of coffee. After all, isn’t that what blogging is all about? Connection?!! I know I should be connecting with my kids but my daughter in particular is malfunctioning today. She can’t seem to listen at all. This morning when I asked her what her ears were for, she replied: “earrings” so you can understand what kind of day I’m having!!

But I am persistent…determined. I am going to write about crayon art even if it kills me!

Boxing Day

I don’t know what Boxing Day was traditionally for but when I was growing up, Boxing Day was always a day of complete and total rest. We never went anywhere or saw anyone and Dad quite literally locked the doors and barred the windows.  We are perpetuating this tradition. After all the pre-Christmas “excitement”, we just needed to stop!! Make that a full stop!!

Somehow, I had managed to resuscitate sufficiently by mid-afternoon to embark on some crayon art.

There are plenty of sites which outline how to do crayon art so this isn’t going to be a how-to guide. I just wanted to share my own experience because I had so much fun and the results, at least as far as I am concerned, were quite spectacular without being too tricky.

Getting started.

Getting started.

Essentially, you glue or position wax crayons onto a canvas and blast away with your hairdryer to melt the wax. I could only buy jumbo kindergarten crayons at our local shops, which took forever to melt and had a very limited colour selection but they still worked pretty well. I couldn’t find my glue gun. Actually, I didn’t even know where to look for it so I made do and balanced the crayons on the canvas. This was a bit tricky but once the wax started to melt, the crayons stayed in place.

Molten Lava

Molten Lava

I loved, loved, loved blasting away at the crayons with the hairdryer and watching the colours melt away, running along in tiny streams and crosscurrents down the canvas. It was so cathartic!! You could put a lot of energy into it the same way I’ve hacked into a garden hedge and found such release.

Pablo Picasso said “the purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls” and I felt so many dusty layers simply disappear and vanish as I blasted away at those crayons. All my inhibitions were gone and I was set free! I could truly express myself and I didn’t need to be a creative genius. I just had to be me!

By the way, while I was working on our masterpiece, I was reminded of the wax “sculptures” they used to do on wine bottles back in the 1970s. You melted different coloured candles and the wax built up layer up on layer building colourful and intriguing stalagmites. They were so much fun and way cool! Do you remember them at all? Mum and Dad had one which had all sorts of rainbow colours all over the bottle. I loved it!

Anyway, as much as I loved crayon art, I am a little unsure of where it lies on the “artistic spectrum”. Does it actually rate as real, serious art or is it for kids and people who can’t do anything “better”? You often hear people putting down modern art with comments like “a kid could do that” and that’s supposed to be the ultimate artistic put down. Sure kids can do crayon  art but do they get the same results? Moreover, some kids are naturally much better at art than many adults so kids’ art should also be appreciated for what it is and not automatically dismissed or prejudiced either.

I enjoyed this quote from Picasso:

“The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: the sky, from the Earth. From a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web…Rowena has added melted crayons to the list!

Crayon art with the kids.

Crayon art with the kids.

My kids did “help me” a little with my creation, although it was my project. They just had a few token blasts with the hairdryer to feel involved. Like any artwork, I had to select my colours. Put them into position and then direct how the wax travelled along the canvas. I turned the canvas backwards and forwards to mix the colours and I also manipulated the wax by moving soggy, waxy lumps of molten crayons around the canvas to create balance.

My initial concept had been  to have rainbow colours streaming down the canvas. However, one half of the crayons looked fabulous with bright vibrant reds, orange yellows and a pink for dramatic effect, while the other end of the “rainbow” looked very drab with dark green, navy blue and not the bright vibrant colour variations I prefer. Hence, I tilted the canvas and mixed the colours. I also added some white crayons. I like mixing white in with my colours and I thought it would look interesting.

So while the concept of melting crayons onto a canvas sounds simple enough, there is sufficient scope to express your artistic talents and produce your own legitimate masterpiece, which just happens to be made of wax instead of oils.

City Reflections.

City Reflections.

I was very pleased with the results and I’m actually quite proud of our “painting”. We have an up version which is titled City Reflections. It looks a bit like high rises reflected onto the harbour. Geoff suggested turning it around and we called our down version Fireworks. With all the splatters of colours and dripping wax, it really does resemble fireworks. The more I look at it, especially after watching the amazing fireworks over Sydney Harbour on New Year’s Eve, the more I prefer the upside down version.

As much as I am promoting crayon art as a serious artistic endeavour, it also offers those who perhaps feel artistically challenged, to be creative. You don’t need to be able to draw, manage a paint brush or mix the colours well. You can just blast away at those crayons and watch the colours ooze all over the canvas and let yourself go. Your artwork doesn’t need to look like anything in particular, be realistic or even pretty. It just is. You can just have fun for the sake of having fun!

As Vincent Van Gogh said:

 If you hear a voice within you say `you can not paint’, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced. (and that doesn’t need to be with a brush!)

The kids also loved it and were in raptures about the results. “Mummy, you’re an artist!” There was certainly no doubt in their minds although they haven’t really been able to clarify what they actually liked about it. My daughter just mumbled something about the hairdryer and the crayons. By the way, this activity is unsuitable for young children and requires close adult involvement.

Anyway, I encourage you to have a whirl at crayon art for yourself. You never know. You might just unleash some lost inner artist and find yourself.

By the way, hope you had a Merry Christmas and I wish you a Happy New Year!

xx Rowena

Zoomed in.

Zoomed in.