A little thank you

I wanted to drop you a line, friends, to say hello...

As you know, I am studying law and, if you know any law students, you know that during semester, they go into a study cave and rarely come out. I am no different. My life is spent studying and sleeping, and occasionally decompressing with an episode of The Bold and The Beautiful (because if there is ever a show that reassures you that your own life is not so nuts, it's Bold!).

There is definitely no time for art - all good intentions aside - and the closest I get is looking at the lovely art on some Facebook groups I'm in or occassionally Pinterest. Every so often, I buy a magazine (when I can find the ones I like).

That's not to say I have forgotten you. I have not and my heart does yearn to feel creative. Over the summer I had big plans to really sink my teeth into some online classes. Then cancer struck - sort of. I had major surgery in January for non malignant but dangerous tumours relating to my previous cancers, and that basically killed off any creative urges I had. My primary goal was to stay awake and alive.

For what it's worth, I have recovered really well and have had excellent results, which is a nice thing to be able to report.

Here's an honesty bomb for you:

A big part of my lack of creative motivation has been the relative disappointment of Amplified Art. This was a book I poured my heart and soul into. I worked really, really hard on it, travelled to the USA to have the photography done and finish the writing, as well as teaching from it. I poured a lot of my hard earned money into it. I know from the classes I taught related to the book that people wanted this book from me. I would not have written it otherwise. I know people enjoyed the classes and wanted more.

For reasons many and varied, the book really hasn't succeeded - sales have been really low. It has been given virtually no support from the publishers and so booksellers haven't picked it up or been exposed to it the way I expected. There were massive issues around distribution which meant that, here in my own country, by the time the book was available, its moment in the sun had passed.

As an artist and a human, I wont lie: it hurts. I imagine it'd be a little like someone telling you that they don't like your child. It may not be meant maliciously, but it's personal and it stings. This does too.

I will say this: though the reviews have also been slow, they've invariably been positive - even the negative ones have actually been only partly negative. Some of the recent ones have actually been lovely. I want you to know I read them - all of them. (Even if I shouldn't). I appreciate them (even the ones that offer constructive criticism) more than perhaps I can convey. I truly take heart to know that someone, somewhere is getting it.

I've also had some emails over the journey of people telling me how much they appreciate my books and my work. This, too, means so much to me. I am not someone who necessarily seeks validation from others - if I know I tried my best, I can only do just that and what others think shouldn't matter. But it is nice to sometimes be reminded that this hasn't all been a colossal waste of time, that people are learning and enjoying what I've given them. I may not need the validtion but when things haven't gone quite as expected, it's nice to be reminded sometimes of my value as an artist and writer. Like other humans, I sometimes question my choices and second guess myself. I doubt many people whose livelihoods depend on this kind fo work don't second guess themselves at least six times before breakfast (hello to Lewis Carroll!).

I just want to say thankyou. Thanks for being on this journey with me. For believing in me when I don't believe in myself. For caring.

I don't say it enough, but I love you for it.

Happy 2017!

Welcome to 2017, friends!

I don't know about you, but I was really happy to see the back of 2016. I can think of 2 or 3 really good things that happened, but I can think of about 20-30 really crappy things too - not just little stuff, things that really impacted life for me personally and the world. Suffice to say, I stayed up on New Year's Eve to make sure the door didn't hit the year on its butt on it's way out!!

I am still studying law and last year was a tough year - challenging in the best and worst ways. I am half way to my degree which is reassuring, and so far I haven't failed anything...so it's bubbling along nicely.

As for art - 2016 was the year of non-art for me. I can't explain why but I had exactly zero motivation for art last year. I gave up my studio in February and didn't give it another thought. Every time I looked at any art supplies, it felt foreign to me - almost as though I didn't know what they were, much less what to do with them.

And then, as the year closed, another life "explosion" happened and that feeling of wanting to retreat into my art came upon me like a wave. I pulled everything out - rediscovering what I had - but just looked at it. It was like I had forgotten how to put pen to paper.

I tried. I signed up for some online classes and even bought myself a few new bits and bobs to attempt to find some inspiration. But so far nothing much has happened.

So in the past few days I have been just reading - looking through books, trying to remember what motivated me. And I know part of that is just doing it. I've been mainly looking at sketchbooks - anyone who knows me knows sketchbooks are far more interesting than finalised art to me - I adore the process. I think maybe that's what I need to do - just explore and experiment instead of trying to create something finished.

I've been exploring this book - The Art of Urban Sketching by Gabriel Campanario. I've had it for a couple of years but I am reacquainting with it. 

I also have pulled these out too - some I've had for years but it's time to re-read and see how I feel. 

How do you feel when you have a creative block? What strategies do you have to overcome it? I'd love to hear what you do - I need as many ideas as possible! 

Also special shout out to Pinterest - always a great source of ideas!!

John Olsen at the National Gallery of Victoria

Hello friends!!

I wanted to tell you about my visit today to the National Gallery of Victoria to see John Olsen: The You Beaut Country. John is a living Australian artist famous for his abstracts. I am not usually a big fan of abstract but I went along as I have felt a little cooped up recently at home. I didn't regret it!

The thing I do like about abstract art is that it can be or mean really anything you want it to. What the artist sees in their painting might be totally foreign to me - but I might "see" something else and think it's beautiful. In Olsen's case, that's exactly what happens. I am attracted to his use of colour - it is often vibrant and engaging. This exhibit focuses on his mid 20th century work of the Australian landscape. I don't know about others (and maybe this is the influence of my friend Jill Berry) but the landscape I see are maps. I feel like I am looking down from the sky or space and looking at maps - great bodies of land and water, roads, gardens and the like. I don't know if that's the perspective John had when he painted his works, but that's what I see.

All images © John Olsen.

If you can get to Melbourne (or anywhere else) to see this exhibit, I highly, HIGHLY recommend it. I loved it far more than I expected.

While at NGV I also saw an exhibit of Sally Gabori's work, and a group exhibit called Who's afraid of colour? featuring Aboriginal Australian women's art. It was fantastic - if anything I have come home feeling quite over stimulated and wanting to break open ALL my art supplies.


Getting unstuck

Hi friends - 

I just wanted to share this with you. 

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing best-selling author and teacher Jen Louden’s work for a few years and what I really appreciate is how loving AND practical she is. A couple of years back I took her Teach Now course and it was a game-changer for me. She's been a lovely friend and cheerleader to me since.

Jen combines pushing us to get-done-what-you-care-about with immense compassion and a ton of creative joy. So when she sent me her brand new beautiful guide to getting unstuck, I was grateful. It was almost like an intervention - I've been "artless" for quite a while and finding it hard to find my way back.

Jen’s created a fabulous tool to go to any time you feel stuck on any kind of project. It’s funny, it’s frisky, and it’s totally free! I've printed mine out - Click here to sign up and get it too.