Monday, December 3, 2012

Back in the creative ring...

After a period of creative frustration, my right hand seems healed back to its old self. I tested it out over the last few days with some intensive making, and said limb came up trumps. I'm back in the ring!

I discovered last Friday, whilst browsing a local paper, that an art exhibition run by Byron Community Centre was accepting entries in several categories. The closing date was the following Monday, which meant I had the weekend to get sorted. There was a watercolour and acrylics painting, 'Celestial Ocean', ready to go, it just needed framing up....

                                                     
I also wanted to put in one of the little dudes I make up, under the sculpture category. So, creative chaos ensued. I'm definitely not a neat person when amongst it. I like to be able to see all the beads, fabrics and wools I'm working with, which tend to be spread out all over the place. It's a bit like collage in three dimensions.

The head, especially facial features, is probably the most time consuming single part. I make it, then hands and feet out of Super Sculpey oven baked clay. Strengthened with lengths of wire inserted as a kind of armature. Then a body out of felt, and finally the clothes go over the top of it all.

Its a very organic process, no preliminary drawings, I just play with the clay. Then get inspired by the materials I have to hand. Often gathered at op shops, garage sales, as hand me downs or from chuck out piles.

Hopefully, resulting in the birthing of a little dude with character....

                                          
                  
I put my registration through yesterday. Now its a matter of waiting for the results to come in, to see if I get hung. The Byron Arts Classic exhibition goes up in early January and runs for a week.

Friday, November 9, 2012

No time like the present...




Ive managed to properly fuck up my right hand, hence typing this very slowly and in an uncoordinated manner. Im completely right handed, doing anything with my left hand is dodgey and slow. So im in a place where I can't draw, write, practice my tai chi, cook a meal or open a jar of pickles *sigh*, nearly driving me mental! A few people have asked me what the lesson is in this, uummm that Im chronically right handed and need to watch crappy daytime tv for extended periods in the now?

Anyways, Im keen for a redesigning of my online communications, perhaps uniting my two blogs into one and creating a website. Currently thats being sabotaged by my limbs, but the pause has allowed for reassessment and a  whole lot of imagery flowing through that Im eager to translate onto paper, but must wait for physical coordination to return to do so.

Its said that the hand we use is connected to the opposite side of the brain. Thus the left side of the brain which is rational and logic is channeled through the right hand, and the right side of the brain which is more intuitive comes through the left hand. Which in my case, creates imagery tending towards that of a three year old. I can barely write my name, let alone create anything representative, or expressing the many coexhisting realms of reality. Somewhat humbling and also grattitude inducing, in terms that let me know if I couldnt create id be feeling pretty sombre about my life, lets say suicidal...

Funny that i joke about such things. Yeah, laugh a frickin' minute. You see I'm coming up to the second Christmas without my bro, Dylan.  A true gentleman, who valued his friends and family highly and entertained a variety of hobbies that could make the mind boggle. Mad scientist. But you see, he suffered from depression in his recent years, that gnarly bastard that can catch you in unexpected moments and drag you into odd parallel universes. My lovely bro, who was sane in all the moments that I wasn't, went down to this disease of chemistry and circumstance....

He took his own life nigh on two years ago. When everyone expected it might be me to do so....

Sorry to get heavy, but i just wish to mention, that if you love someones eccentricities and odd tangents, bloody let them know. Embrace their difference, affirm who they are and their importance in your life. Because, before you know it, they could be gone from this physical incarnation.

Tommorow I'm going to a community celebration ceremony marking those that have passed over.  My bro phoned me when I was legally detained in a psychiatric ward, couldn't protect him, and the nurses didn't pass on the message till it was too late. I was isolated on the inside, he isolated on the outside. Fuck it, could it have been different if i'd got that message and been able to return his call.  I hadn't wanted to worry him. Either way, I now watch my parents suffer from that totally wrong process of outliving your own child.

Don't try to tell me suicide is a social phenomena restricted to bla type circumstances, it's no mathematical formula, its peoples chaotic lives. Unpredictable, random, down with the figures, or beyond comprehension, it happens. May Dylans passing wake folks up to the preciousness of staying in touch, and giving time to those we love, whatever headstate theyre in. Reality is often stranger than fiction but ultimately we're all living in a story. Crazy or otherwise, meet those you love where they are, and take it from there. There's no time but the present....



For Dylan, check out >>>  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gw-AgvUEVm4

Thursday, October 18, 2012

There's just something about Tai Chi...


My understanding of 'Qigong' is that its a series of movements, originating in ancient China, which are syncronised with ones breathing and a meditative state. Designed to activate your awareness around, strengthen and balance the internal flow of 'qi' or 'chi'. The force that is seen as the energy of life in much traditional Chinese medicine, martial arts and philosophy but that can also be translated into other cultures experiences, like 'prana' in Yoga.

Tai Chi Qigong Shibashi is a group of eighteen movements based on Yang style Tai Chi, developed in the 1970's by Professor Lin Hou-Sheng. Learning it gives a basis in the Tai Chi 'forms', activating the health benifits they offer, in a more simply learned flow as a stand alone series.

I first came into contact with this form of Qigong through Dhyana Tai Chi Qigong at our local community centre. I dipped my toe in and enjoyed it, but fell out of going to classes before I had the chance to memorise the movements. About 6 months ago I resumed classes with my teacher, Sandie (front) and gradually committed to practice outside class time, essential to giving myself the chance to consolidate some more and extend into learning Yang style Tai Chi.


Ill be honest, Im not a real active type, I walk, and Im definitely not a morning person. My routine day began with a rolling out of bed, staggering towards the coffee machine, imbibing two cups of caffeine in quick sucession and then a bleary eyed beginning of the day. I had done Reiki training, which I believe can amplify feeling some of the sensations associated with practices like Tai Chi that aim to cultivate the chi. Most of all, I just wanted to do something for my health, that was maintainable and that i enjoyed. So i turned to Tai Chi, and was lucky enough to find a teacher with both knowledge, a kind disposition and a sense of humour (required when you find yourself in knots with limbs disobeying instructions).

I began to have just one coffee, do Qigong as a warm up and then flow into Tai Chi practice, repeating what I learned in class each week, a little at a time. It became part of my morning ritual, and has been so most days for about 6 weeks now. That might not sound like much, but I count it as an achievement. That, combined with watching pretty much every martial arts movie in the local dvd store, has wakened something in me.

This is something that is gently, gradually strengthening my physical self, but also kicking ass when it comes to my stress levels (that being a technical term) and general sense of well being. Gradually, Ive heard tales of both practicioners, and teachers, who came to Tai Chi in varying states of health, some after serious injuries or illness, or later in life, began doing what they could, and have built a solid core of regained health for themselves. Its actually pretty inspiring.

Tai Chi is whats known as an 'internal' or 'soft' martial art. Practiced very slowly, with meditative intention, it is a graceful art. Echoing forms and patterns found in nature, along with the more familiar kicks and punches. Movements have names like Reeling Silk, White Crane, White Dove Spreads Wings, Dragons Mouth.

Im still at the mechanical, ok whats that arm doing over there, oops foot needs to be there, help mental blank, stage but there are moments when I find I am completely absorbed in a move, or synced in with other people who are. That feeling is pretty damn satisfying, and doing it in natural surrounds amplifies this. It must be truly inspiring to be part of the large groups who practice in parks in China, and increasingly worldwide.

If you live on the North Coast of NSW my teacher Sandie, takes classes in Mullumbimby at the Pioneer Hall, 32 Gordon St. Tuesdays, 11am till 12 is beginners/intermediate and Thursdays, 7.30am till 8.30 is intermediate/advanced. All classes are $10. Email contact : dhyanaqigong@iprimus.com.au.  





Sunday, October 7, 2012

Tai chi dragon....

I drew up this Chinese Dragon with calligraphy, that reads as Tai chi, for my teacher, who practices in the Yang style. Tai chi is an ancient 'internal' or 'soft' martial art, that has many movements sourced in observing nature, aswell as the more familiar kicks and punches. It is a very slow, graceful form, a kind of moving meditation. The different lineages, or styles, are usually named for the families who practiced, and passed them on.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Portrait of Amma...

I drew up this portrait of Amma, the love guru, for a devotee. A lady who is unwell in the moment but of strong spirit. I'm not really one for guru's, but a friend who spent time at her ashram took me, and a carload of other women, to see Amma. Her thing is to just hug people. Not a mwa mwa dahlingk type hug but a bountious embracing and holding. She hugged more than 1000 people the night we saw her. For hours on end, she hugged. Amazing. In India she sometimes embraces people for days on end, literally. She's pretty cool. You can read more about her and the other works shes involved with here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The gentler bay...

The music lovin' Rhubarb, and I wandered down to Tallows beach for a swim the other day, but the water was stirred up and rough so we decided to head for the bay. Not sure if we smelled, or simply that it was close to the middle of the day and folks were being sun smart, either way, the beach cleared, pretty much just leaving us and several surf schools amidst the waves. The bay was gentler, and kindly turned on its picturesque nature for all and any to see. In the distance, mountains, one of which formed the centre of the volcano so pivotal in forming the landscape and soils of this area.






Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Spring beach walk observations....

This is the time of migrating whales, journeying with their calves, along the coast where we live. If youre lucky, it also helps to be up high, you can watch them play. Huge flippers and tails slap on the waters surface erupting in white wash, spouts spray into the air above. It really seems like pure ecstatic fun, i cant see what practical purpose it serves except perhaps to knock loose the odd barnacle. Humpback whales are bigger than any dinosaur that lived, when you see them next to boats or surfers, this reality comes home.

The migrating terns have also reappeared once more, with their black caps and pointy beaks. They are consumate fishermen able to dive from a height into the waves and surface bearing fish. They fold their wings and become arrows of accuracy.


Along the beach jellyfish wash up. This week I saw a blue 'man of war' type one that was easily half a metre across, wouldnt want to swim into him. One day along the tide mark was what at first seemed like a line of jewels, glistening in the sunlight, they were infact tiny clear juvenile jellyfish.

An array of sea worn pebbles are carried and delicately deposited onto the sand by the waves. Seemingly infinte in the variety of colours and markings as I walk my gaze is draw to them, often I gather one up into my palm and walk with it a while, some come home with me. A cornicopia of stonelike variety.

We live where an ancient volcanoes edge of lava once would have met the sea and I imagine the cooling process as I look at rocks beside the ocean. Fire and water frozen in time, forces of motion fossilised into one moment.




Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The sound of waves and incense smoke.....



The path winds and turns through greenery, the beauty of where I am on this journey, engaged in the present. The more distant way hidden from view, until I move ahead and reach the point where one may see it revealed. The path carrying me, through changes and consolidations, as knowledge and learning evolve and shift.

The place I am, one where the direct perception of, and engagement with, nature are a compass. Living by the ocean, I take daily walks with my dog friend Meg, beachcombing our way along, the coastal spray feeds my innards and core. That part at my centre which is confident, strong and centred, tiny as a grain of sand perhaps, but returning after a period of years absent. The sounds of the waves wash through me, clear away the stagnancy that catchs in the corners of my being. In the same way that incense smoke does for the home and hearth, reaching into unexpected places and opening them gently to healing or a shift in conciousness.

Spirit journeys that one might expect to draw away from daily reality infact imbue it with signs of its luminescent underlay. The bird of prey hovering on the air currents is beautiful in its intense physicality but also carries the language of spirit messages to come. A feather found on a well manicured lawn hints that someone who has passed is near. Banksia flowers, like torches, light the way to renewed energy. Each being has its teachings to offer, as, in my experience, do those in spirit realms. I learn to ask ‘what is it you are teaching?’ giving thanks for it, and find such an approach can guide me in many realities. Sometimes the teaching is repeated, difficult or challenging.

I find mental health and perceiving spirit are not mutually exclusive terms. The two dance around each other like a dna strand for me. Balancing brain chemistry and soul can be tricky at times, but is a worthwhile pursuit. Nothing beats the satisfaction of realising that I’ve now halved one medication, the other is completely gone. That I’ve travelled through two soul retrievals and come out the other side with somewhat clearer vision. Similar strategies, in some ways, heal their after effects, even if that’s just to ask for help. I journal, trying to remember. I am amazed at the humour of spirit guides who take the piss.

 As, with guidance, I gather the fragments of soul lost and reweave them back into my life, I learn healing is not an endpoint but a process. An approach to, rather than an ascending of, lives difficulties and challenges, that requires looking into old fears and joys, whilst slowly creating a box of tools on which to draw. Like the oceans sounds, the incenses smoke, touching forgotten places and calling them forth. 



Sunday, June 24, 2012

Mika's back....


After a hiatus of several months, Mika, and her kids book story, are back on the drawing board. Shes had a makeover, as have the other characters and general style of the illustrations. The goal was a mix between traditional drawing and folk art. So Ive penciled in about seven of the twenty or so illustrations needed.


Im working on Arches100% cotton 185gsm watercolour paper, which is a bit lighter than Im used to, hence Im having to learn how to 'stretch' paper. Yep, like you do with canvas only different. Apparently it makes for ease of paint flow and stops buckling from washes.


Basically I got a 4 ply board and estapoled both sides and the edges to prepare it. Then you soak the watercolour paper in water for about ten minutes. Lifting it out you place it flat onto the prepared board, wiping off excess water. Then using special tape, which has a glue that activates when it gets wet, I taped the picture, with pencilwork side up, down to the board. Making sure to press out any bubbles or buckles. Ive just done this process with my first drawing, so apparently now i leave it to dry out on a flat surface, and then its time to add some colour to Mika's world. Exciting...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Soul retrieval...


Recently i undertook my first soul retrieval journey with Odettes contemporary shamanic guidance. The split apart that was retrieved was a small child part of me and she has gradually over the days since been absorbed into my body, where older, wiser aspects can care for her. She had been hiding under the bed (literally) for a long time and the kick back from the process has had its moments. Largely anxiety and feelings of vulnerability when out and about thats becoming knowing when to say enough, a lack of confidence that is evolving into finding a stronger voice. The thing with finding your voice, including parts that may have been silenced, is that its a bit of a one step forward two steps back situation initially. Integration occurs organically to its own timing.

 Soul fragmentation, called at times by psychology 'disassociation', occurs most often where there is trauma. In order to preserve a sense of self and survive, a part of the soul shoots off. Reconnecting to that part is a healing of embodiment, which can come with its confronting aspects. In the end though, we are here in body for the duration of our experience on planet earth 101 and becoming more present is a grounding and centring that soul retrieval expands upon. As adults we have more tools to begin to deal with and nourish through situations where we might have had limited empowerment as kids. In the same breath places where we have less presence as adults, can benifit from reintegrating child like parts that may have been missing for years.

So reintegration is a worthwhile process, as healing, but may come with its own challenges. Knowing to expect upsurges of emotions and memories can help, that these too shall pass.     




 










Sunday, May 20, 2012

Birds....

Birds, and indeed their feathers, have been symbolic, imbued with meaning and inspirational to people, definitely including me, the world over for eons. Shamans adorn themselves in the likeness of birds, witches create flying ointments, influenced by a striving for similar freedom to move between realms as is displayed in birds flight and the broader vision it allows. Like the Cormorant who can shift between water, earth and air in a single breath, such abilities bring rise to birds regard as messengers, translaters of secrets, bringer of omens, and bearers of souls. The Latin "aves" means both "birds" and "ancestral spirits".

Birds natural abilities allow them to gain access to wisdoms otherwise unheard or unnoticed, and give rise to the wise owl, or the clever crow, who is a worthy advisor.
Every bird has its own medicine, that can be hinted at through looking at its behaviours and presence in folklore and tale.  So that if one encounters a certain bird, or its feather trail, these charcteristics can hint at the meaning, and timing, of engaging with it, in both daily and nonordinary realities. One can also evoke a particular birds medicine if in alignment with a current path. Though, it seems, such connections are quite likely to occur organically once theres an awareness of the potentials.




Monday, May 7, 2012



I set up my altar for a Samhain ritual, slowly over a couple of days, including painting up an image to rest there. A gathering of bones. Its rather an apt time to be working on the illustrations for Ilkas masters, of species that have become extinct since she began studying.

I began to write a structured ritual but, as at other times recently, ended up just winging it and having a heartfelt adlib dialogue with spirit. I welcomed in my ancestors, guardians and guides aswell as Cailleach, for we now move into her time of year, more internal focused. I offered up roast lamb and baked vegies, with fresh fruit for desert and of course whiskey. I partook of a little too much of the latter...drinking for the ancestors too...gotta watch that....

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Nicks Dragon....


This dragon was about 3 days in the birthing, designed to go in Nicks bedroom as a complement to a Tibetan prayer rug. Its 120cm by 40cm in size. Now that its finished itll be a little hard to give it over! Hopefully its 'schizy' enough for his tastes....

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A poem, a conversation, a ritual....

On the full moon, just organically, as I was burning sage and lit a candle I began to dialogue with spirit. What Im gratefull for in the now, what i just don't 'get', how much I miss the physical presence of my brother and grandmother, the thanks I have for my ancestors, teachers, guides and guardians in flesh and spirit, the hope to remain centred when working with my current goals. It was kind of a flow of words that came through in a flurry and when it was done I felt at peace. Im not sure if it was a ritual, a poem, a conversation or some quirky blend of all, but it shifted me beyond tears. It made me realise the potential beauty of simply creating sacred space and then being open. Ive never been one for reciting long memorised or read excerpts but to have a rave naturally felt damn good. I didnt censor, didnt feel the need and I think that was part of the catharsis. So often we control and clamp down on our hearts, to let it all hang out in a space constructed out of respect eased the human condition. Spirit took it all good naturedly as I channelled any excess energy to compost into the Earth below....

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Monday, April 2, 2012

Natural history illlustration....


Before we moved from the urban jungle, I had applied to Newcastle Uni for a place in their Bachelor of Natural History Illustration, and to my surprise was accepted, but by then Id signed the lease on our new home, furthur north, and so was no longer able to attend. Recently I was delighted to find a new course of similar tangents run by Leonie Norton, externally from Sydney. Its a self paced process, periodically sending assignments in for feedback and comment. Modules include drawing techniques, painting techniques (largely watercolours) and then sections on reptiles, birds, mammals, plants, shells, feathers, crystals and rocks.So Ive begun study after recieving the first module last week.

This artform has always fascinated me, its detail and precision both a reproduction of natural beauty and an accurate description of the subjects characteristics which served as reference well before the age of the camera, and indeed still do today. Already my 'eye' is shifting, once you begin to look for natural source material the world comes alive with potentials and observation kicks in. Im enjoying the process so far....

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Contemporary shaman....


When i tell people that Im working with a shamanic practitoner, folks either get a little uh oh space cadet zone, she'll be off her meds next, or say 'thats great' whilst thinking, what the **** does that mean anyways. So I thought id spend some time typing....

For me, one of the prime tools of shamanism, and some forms of witchery, is trance journeying the spine of the world tree to otherworlds. Otherworlds that exist in parallel to our daily consensual reality, some call it the astral. What people use to trigger a trance state varies, for me i have used prerecorded repetitive drumming when flying solo, and now with Odette she guides me some with her voice, which is a pleasure, i have to say. Now this may sound like some kind of escapist fantasy, but the otherworlds are certainly not that, just as we have issues to work on in daily realms so to in the otherly ones. Infact, thats part of the point. Work done in one place effects how we are in the other, theyre linked, we come back to daily reality, grounding in and returning to it. Thats not to say there's no sense of humour or play in the otherworlds, far from it..
 
 When entering the otherworlds, its done via the sanctuary Ive worked with Odette to reestablish, my place of safety. Which requires space clearing maintenance just as any physical sanctuary does and this is the emphasis of the work at the moment solidifying and building safety. I don't mean alarm systems and bars safety, no thanks, but feel it in your gizzards learning how to deal with lost or wayward entities, getting to know your spirit guides, allys and their talents type safety. These are processes by which to navigate and map make your way. Blundering around the other worlds is no more a good idea than blundering around any other place, infact it can have harsher consequences.  Ive done some blundering, and some journeying. Now Ive been lucky enough to get some support and guidance from a shamanic healer who knows some of the local lingo and can read signposts.

 Yes, I do have a diagnosis, schizoaffective disorder (I tried for PhD but this is what i got!) and I am on meds but no that doesnt mean I can't work with a shaman, or that if I do Im losing it. Shamanism is as ancient as it comes and this ancient art has some very contemporary applications for folks who in our current society often do end up with a few extra letters to their names. 


Enough from me, if this is resonating with you, or you're just plain ol curious, here's a link to Odette Nightskys website where you can read some of her wise and gentle spirited writings on such topics.

 http://www.contemporaryshaman.net/

and here's her blog

 http://contemporaryshaman.wordpress.com/about/

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Mika's coming along....



After many failed attempts, Ive managed to trim Mika's story down to about 730 words, owch, and have broken the text up into whats on what page. It seems a childrens picture book is from 500 to 1000 words, with the latter pushing it. The time has come to refine the scribble of my storyboards into individual roughs, and insert the more detailed pages Ive done, into a 'dummy' book thats the size it would be if published.

Already this is clarifying where images are flowing and interestingly composed, or a bit constipated or obvious. Im having to create backgrounds, depth and make sure that Mikas character, and the style of it all together, has continuity. That she doesnt age 5 years from one image to the next and is easily recognisable as herself, which has meant leaving some earlier drawings behind.

I'm yet to see the larger drawings Ive done scanned, and then reduced down to the 21.6cm X 21.6cm, and how they look. They're some in the post i hear! All i've seen are the photos Ive taken myself, not great quality thanks to a slight tremor that appears whenever I really want a clear shot. Ive found a printer nearby with an A2 scanner so next week ill take in some of the bigger works, 42cm x 42cm, and see how they turn out reduced. Im hoping the detail of the pencil work will shine through. Also time to invest in one of those multiskilling printer slash scanner slash photocopier thangs. Although writing text by hand does have a certain ambience...

Well, back to the drawing board for me...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Mika's story...

When I wandered onto the path of writing and illustrating a kids book i didnt really know what id stumbled into in terms of the process. The characters and worlds have evolved, seeming to continue too, through the combination of clarifying both text and images. Most childrens books are 32 pages long, so ive done a rough, or three, mapping out of what text, plus visuals, goes on which page. Some images will be double page spreads, others single page focus. The actual point where you turn the page can build suspense or drama, so its another tool.

Simply illustrating the words works sometimes, but there are times when a little mini story can take place in the visuals aswell. Something to be spotted, or a reappearing theme. My pencil marks are getting a little less anal and tight, some fluidity is creeping in, I figure if you're going to make strokes they may as well be fun to do, otherwise the tedium of drafting a full page could quite possibly create insanity! Mika herself is becoming less a babushka doll and more a girl, which is interesting. Im learning the importance of quick gesture and composition sketches to bounce ideas around, rather than launching into detailed drawing....


Im drawing double size, so that in reduction, detail work looks fancier. That means Im working on a square 42cm by 42cm for a full page, or 42cm by 21cm for a smaller image. The goal is to work up a 'dummy' book the actual finished size I would want if its ever published. So once I gather enough illustrations im happy with and the texts refined, I'll scan them and reduce them down, print them up and glue them into a mock up thats 21.6cm square. I decided to go with the square for something a little different.

An excellent side effect of these processes is that i just have to do research in the small peoples section of the library, watching programs on tv and movies aimed at the younger side of humanity. Although hopefully Mika will be enjoyed by grown ups that are reading her tale too. Ive shown the story so far to a several teachers, one who recommended ages 5 and up, but that said she also reads to babies and toddlers. Apparently theres no 'too soon' (or 'too late') when it comes to reading. It can only serve to increase comprehension and language skills.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mika....

"Once beyond time there was a very ordinary town. In the town square was a very respectable statue of the mayor, with the words “It’s just always been done that way.” Here dwelled a boy, named Mika, who’s favourate words were “Imagine if?”." 

It seems that drawings of characters that started off as tangential and experimental fun are coming together into a story as time goes on. I have notes, some roughs of illustration ideas and am now doing more detailed versions. Im chewing through the pacer pencil leads! Also happen to be enjoying the process.This is something Ive wanted to do for a long time thats evolving organically...