Thursday, September 30, 2010

Nosy Nutty - Incredible Art

Here are some examples of incredible art I found this morning.

Aurora, Jennifer Maestre, sculptor -

Halfway Through, Peter Callesen -

Push the Boat Out, Julian Beever -

Make sure you click on the links to the artist's homepages, they have a pile of equally wonderful stuff.

(nosying around the web)


I've just joined Digg and am fumbling my way around this new to me network. Are any of you on there?

(poking around late at night)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

12 Ways to Find Inspiration (part 1 of 2)

One of the hardest things to do in a given project, particularly if it is a commission or a job ordered by your boss, is to find the inspiration that drives it. That star-spangled thwap to the head that sends you reeling off to your paintbox, computer or drawing table. When it comes immediately, great! But there are those days that you can stare at the empty sheet of paper or computer screen and all you see is paper and pixels.

So how do you find it? Well, here are 12 methods I've used in the past to either get my pen writing or my pencil drawing.

1. Put the brain in idle
This is my favourite and often most productive technique. Stop constructive thinking, go off and do something entirely unrelated, preferably something physical that allows your brain to wander off by itself.. Exercise, go for a walk, or dare I say those ghastly words, do the housework. Of course, housework and exercise are not my forte, so I use the shower. Stop what I'm doing, jump in the shower and let my mind wander under the warm water. The only downside to my technique is the mad, naked, wet dash I make across the house to my studio when lightning strikes (and I have done it, trust me).

2. Just do it
Okay, yes, Nike had it right. The best way to get somewhere is to start the voyage. If you don't know what you want to write or draw, just start somewhere, anywhere, and see where it gets you. If you're worried about time constraints, set yourself a time limit, maybe 15 or 20 minutes and just do it. Chances are you'll find something on the way, and even if you don't, you will still have a piece of work that might be useful later, either to spark other ideas or completed as another piece of work. Everything we create has a use.

I wrote this tiny piece while looking for inspiration back in 2003:

A thousand tinkling orbs of silver, sprayed out against the purple of the sky. Thunder in his ears, a whistling of wind passing over the heat of his skin. Glare, as his face was forced heavenward, sunlight etching into his retinas, blinding him.
Trembling weightlessness.
A sudden indrawn breath of disbelieving astonishment.
And he fell.

It sat on my hard drive doing nothing for months. Somewhere in the middle of 2004, it sparked a 10,000 word short story that went in a completely different direction from it original intention. Which leads me onto the next way to find inspiration.

3. Keep a works-in-progress and scraps file.
There will be times where you just don't have the energy to start a new project. You know the feeling, you want to do something creative, but you really would like to finish something as well. Finish off a work in progress. It is already started, half the job is done.

Scraps are also wonderful things (see above). Brief flares of inspiration that flickered and died, chunks of writing, scribbled down ideas for artwork, even notes barely legible left beside the keyboard. You never know how useful these things might be in the future for generating ideas. I have just about everything I've ever written stashed on the computer's hard drive, and just about everything I've ever drawn, well, at least the prepwork, there are many final pieces that I will never see again. Looking for inspiration? Thumb through your pile of scraps and WIPs, you never know what may strike a chord.

4. Keep an inspiration folder, board, list, etc
I'm looking for a phone number, so I look in the phone book. I'm looking for inspiration, is there an inspiration book? Definitely, but you have to make it yourself. After all, you know what can push your buttons.
The unreliability of inspiration is what makes it so elusive. It strikes at the most inconvenient of times (see number one) – while feeding the baby, driving home from work, or at work, usually when you can't really stop to create. If you leave it too long, the flame can sometimes flicker and die or simply be forgotten. So write it down. It only has to be a quick one line note designed to spark your brain into life next time you read it.

When surfing I sometimes come across a pattern or piece of work that sets my brain churning (usually a colour combination, I'm such a sucker for colour). Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time, I don't have time to drop everything and go play with my pastels, so I will nab a copy of whatever set me off and stash it in my inspiration folder. Note: Don't plagarise, it's against my religion, and I would break my fingers before copying anything. The folder is just an idea generator, random photos, patterns and stockshots.
Some people keep a board above their art desks full of objects that inspire them. Some keep journals of inspiring things that they see through the day. Do for you what works for you.

5. Surround yourself with creative people
Nothing keeps the brain more in the creative spirit than seeing other people doing the same thing. I went to Cairns in Queensland for my honeymoon, oh so many years ago. I didn't take my art equipment, because whenever I did, I never used it and we were flying. I had never been to Queensland before and so had no idea of what I was in for. Consequently, after touring a bunch of vibrantly coloured art galleries and being immersed in the amazing subtropical environment, I found myself buying pen, pencil, eraser, sharpener and sketchbook in some two bit stationery shop in the middle of the forest just so I could desperately scribble down the ideas that were buzzing around in my head. My new husband was very patient with me as we sat in the middle of a half empty shopping mall so I could draw.

And the creative blogosphere...I have been here since June, wandering amongst all your wonderful blogs and art pieces. I have done more artwork in the last two months than I have done in the last ten years. Ideas generate ideas. In other words, you guys rock!

Which leads me to the next point...

6. Talk to a fellow creative.
One of the best tools in your inspiration basket is a fellow creative. Many a time I have been stuck on a plot line, not sure if my writing is working, or if my artwork is half decent. That's when you call on that special friend that will either thwap you around the head and ask you what you were thinking (either good or bad) or get on the bandwagon and chew your idea with you. In writing they are often called beta readers, in art, a second pair of eyes. This is a trusted friend who has the guts to say exactly what they think, gently, of course, and encouragingly. They are particularly great for mulling over ideas with and giving a new perspective. I've spent ten minutes on the phone with a friend in Sydney and, afterwards, written for hours. Sometimes the spark needs a second source of ignition.

I'll post the second half of this article in the next couple of days – it turned out bigger than I expected. Hope it is useful.

(off the edge, but learning to fly)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Nosey Nutty's eye candy (with a little bit of silly)

I'm browsing the creative community like crazy at the moment, a side effect of breastfeeding my little girl, and I'm stumbling across all sorts of eye candy. I thought I'd share some of the goodies this week with you to return the favour for all the goodies you've shown me.

First up is White Violet Art's resin experiments and her two beautiful blue mandalas. Two stunning pieces of art finished off with a technique I had never even considered and have been happy to have been introduced. And they are for sale! She has further information regarding her resin experiments here. And, WVA, did you manage to get the resin out of your hair?

I have also been dribbling rather extensively over Angela's pastel paintings. I dabble in pastel, but she really knows what she is doing. My latest favourites are Bleeding Heart and Amaryllis, though I have some serious attraction to the simplicity of Boat Reflection. The colours are so bold and confronting.

I came across this video on one of the blogs I read (sorry, I can't remember which one, apologies) and it introduced me to Helen Fitzgerald, a professional watercolour artist in New South Wales. Her finished works are absolutely amazing. I will admit that I do not want to paint like that, mainly because I really don't have the patience and it is not my style, but her work is beautiful. Watercolour paints scare me. The reason I'm posting the video here is because I was awed by the skill in her hands. To watch her work, a simple twist of her wrist makes marks I know I would labour over (and create mud in the process).  This video is part one of a series if you would like to peruse further. You can find all her works at

Over at the Happy Shack I was touched by 'How the birds and bees made me grateful'. I don't think there is a mum out there who wouldn't be.

I've also recently been introduced to the concept of 'zentangles'. I've been drooling over several artists who do mandalas and doodles, quite stunned at their work and baffled as to how to do it myself. Artists include White Violet Art, 2smart (here, here and a tutorial here!), and Jane (ow, my hand hurts just looking at them). I did have a short go at doodling myself, but failed miserably. I'm used to designing something in my head and then creating it, something I so totally proved to myself yesterday and today when I did the latest Art of Silliness exercise.

We were supposed to draw some elephants with a continuous line. Did I sit there and just draw that line like everyone else? No. I designed the drawing then drew the continuous line. Two out of three drawings were successful, but I don't think I did what the exercise was designed to teach me. I'm finding it hard to let go of what the final piece will look like. I got a glimpse of artistic freedom while creating 'Tree of Cyclones', which was genuinely created on the fly, but my brain reverts back to designer far too easily. This is at the core of what I'm working on. I need to relax and let it happen, like I do with my writing sometimes. I need more practise at letting go.

So The Art of Silliness 2.13 - Elephants in continuous line.
Elephant, continuous line, pen on bleedproof paper, approx. 100 x 120 mm
Elephant Chain,
continuous line, pen on bleedproof paper with quick digital fill when scanned in, approx. 230 x 50 mm.

(in a bit of a creative humph)

PS: A question...I've seen images from Flickr posted to peoples blogs that are obviously not their own. Credit is given to Flickr and the owners of the works. How do I do this? I would have loved to share some of the works I mentioned above, but am unsure of the nettiquette involved. What is permissible in regards to Flickr? Are we allowed to share others' works in a promotional manner? I'm still a newbie at this, but I'm learning fast. Any help greatly appreciated.

Monday, September 27, 2010

An artist in the making

As you can imagine, my two and a half year old, KJ, has enough art equipment to paint the side of the Titanic. Hubby and I spend time drawing with her almost everyday, or just letting her loose with the materials.

This is a rendition of Daddy she did last week, all by herself, with no prompting.
Daddy, by KJ, ballpoint pen, approx. 100 x 100 mm

Can I be a proud Mummy and say that this is totally cool? Daddy has a beard and a moustache, and, in this case, bed hair. Quite a balanced composition, too ::grins::

(gotta love 'em)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

An inspiring moment

Several years ago hubby and I went on holiday to Port Lincoln. On one of the days we were there, we went to Lincoln National Park. On that particular day the weather turned a little wintry. It was Spring and Port Lincoln sits out on the very end of a southern peninsula, cutting into the Southern Ocean. It is pretty predictable that the weather is going to be pretty unpredictable and squawly from time to time.

We only had three days for our holiday and Port Lincoln is about 6-7 hours drive from Adelaide, so we ignored the weather and went out anyway.

It was an experience.

At one point I remember clinging to a 45 degree slope in spitting rain, howling wind with a churning ocean a misstep away from intimacy. Why was I there?  I wanted to take a picture of a bright blue beetle I had found.

The cloudy day cast the ocean in grey rather than the crystal blue-green the open sea usually is, but it also gave me something  I expected, but, in the same vein, had forgotten.

We found ourselves at the top of a cliff. I left the car in the carpark and hubby along with it, he'd had enough of the freezing wind. I, on the other hand, made it to the cliff edge, camera in hand. It was raining, not heavily, but enough to hamper and the wind was tearing off the ocean far below. Off in the distance the sun was breaking through the rain, casting the sea in patches of silver.

I was rugged up in my coat, the wind whipping at it and my face was freezing off, but I didn't care. I love standing like that. The ocean at my feet, the wind in my hair, the elements filling my ears with sound. It's exhilarating. It's like you're part of the world around you and that world is reaching out to touch you with gossamer fingers...or in that particular case, whipping, howling gusts of gale :D

Eventually, I dragged hubby out of the car. He has a much more basic interpretation of such's bloody freezing. But I dragged him down the coast a little to take pictures of islands off shore and jagged rocks and angry ocean. The sun continued to try and break through, two abrupt rocky outcrops appeared through the misting rain in the distance and I desperately attempted to catch the moment the sun silvered the water before them (failed miserably) and had to settle for following the clouds as they tracked across the sky.

Hubby eventually dragged me back to the car, but as we drove off we passed some sandhills, almost orange in the wet conditions. Dry and bent trees with now blue sun-drenched ocean in the distance. The car stopped and the camera danced across the sand dunes (again failing miserably to get that perfect shot ::shrug::).

But I'll always remember those moments. The wind. The rain. The grit of the sand dune beneath my feet. The saltspray drying on my face, skin chilled to ice. The sun peeking through the clouds. The roar of the ocean. It's times like these that I feel I can be truly me. Be what I was meant to be. Even if that was a vague oneday wannabe artist/poet who simply can't find the words.

I love the wind in my hair.

I've since decided to travel more in winter. The light is better for photography and the ever changing weather brings some beautiful chances for pictures.

And there is a difference between standing on a cliff in the rain and standing on a cliff in the baking sun. They both have their beauty, but only one reaches out and touches...

(blowing in the wind)

Saturday, September 25, 2010


When first entered the creative blogosphere a few months ago, I almost immediately stumbled across Carla Sonheim . Not so much herself, but her book, 'Drawing lab: 52 creative exercises to make drawing fun'. It was all the buzz amongst arty bloggers and it caught my curiosity.

I now have a copy in my grotty little hands and have been drooling over it ever since.

Just over a week ago, I stumbled across Carla Sonheim herself and her online workshop 'The Art of Silliness'.  After some decision making (I've never done an online workshop before), I jumped in head first and have been having a great time drawing things that I wouldn't otherwise have considered drawing at all.


I want to do the 52 creative exercises in the book.  I want company so we can all cajol each other and share the experience. I wanna have fun (I am a girl, after all :D).

So I'm declaring a Challenge!
  • Every Friday for four weeks I will be choosing an exercise from the book, 'Drawing lab: 52 creative exercises to make drawing fun'. We will have a week to complete it (but late work is always accepted, RL can be evil, I know).
  • On the fifth week, there will be no exercise set, that week being used to either catch up, or complete a finished work directly related or inspired by one of the exercises.
  • The following week will then start up a new cycle of four exercises over four weeks followed by catch up week.  This pattern will continue until we either run out of exercises, or steam (though wouldn't it be great to complete them all????).
  • All that you need is a copy of 'Drawing lab: 52 creative exercises to make drawing fun', access to the internet, a variety of art materials, and determination to have fun.

The finer details
  • I will be issuing the weekly challenge by Lab number (exercise number in the book) and page number only in order to protect the author's copyright, so you will need a copy of the book.
  • When you've completed the exercise, either post a link to your creation here on the weekly challenge post or load it up to the Flickr group

items in Drawing Lab "flickr" More in Drawing Lab "flickr" pool
  • Some of the exercises are specific in a way that might not be possible for everyone, eg. a visit to the zoo, or drawing a pet, etc. I'm thinking that as long as we follow the spirit of the exercise, then an alternative version of the assignment is totally acceptable, eg. couldn't visit the zoo, but the exercise required drawing moving animals, so the artist drew people in the street, or kids, or a bird that flew into their backyard; didn't own a pet, so the artist drew their children, next door neighbour, a plant moving in the wind.
  • I'm also a big believer in following inspiration and using everything I create. So if you get inspired by an exercise and want to create a grand masterpiece, go for it! If you want to bend an exercise to an idea that has suddenly reared up and thwapped you across the head, do it! It's great to have a finished piece of work that you can hang on the wall, exhibit, or give as a birthday pressie. This is the reason for the fifth week. Time to review the ideas generated from the previous four weeks and polish them up.
So, would you like to join me? I'd love your company. I think we all work better with a cheering squad. Comment here so I know who is daring enough and we can meet each other.

Challenge No. 1 will be issued on Friday 1st October. I hope to see you there.

Best wishes,
(I dare ya)

Update: You can find the full details for the challenge on a permanent page of this blog, it includes a list of the challenges both current and past, and also a list of all the valiant challengers participating.  Join us!

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Laws of Baby Physics

This post is in honour of the fact that I'm up at 2.30am with Izzy. It was written in response to my first daughter, KJ, and consequently the accompanying photos are all of that particular source of inspiration.

The Laws of Baby Physics

1. Baby is the centre of the known universe.

2. If parent attempts to do anything other than acknowledge Rule One, baby will take appropriate measures.

3. It may be little, but it is loud - at both ends.

4. If parent manages to curl up on the couch and drift off to sleep while baby is sleeping, baby will wake up.

5. If parent is on the verge of collapse due to exhaustion, baby will vomit on parent's pyjamas.

6. If parent and baby are running late for an important appointment, baby will poo, wee and vomit on clothes necessitating their hurried removal.  Baby will then cry all the way to the appointment, and vomit in the car seat upon arrival.

7. If baby is not displaying the correct developmental activity and parent is concerned enough to ask the local medical authority, the baby will then demonstrate that yes she can do it, nah, nah, nah.  The parent's response is usually accompanied by mild profanity.

8. When entertaining visitors baby will act angelic, dispersing any excuse for the horrid state of the house and the birds nesting in the parent's hair.

9. The moment visitors leave, baby will display all the effects of over-stimulation and explode.

10. If you plan it, those plans will self destruct immediately upon application.

11. All parental visits to the toilet and other necessary tasks will be accompanied by the soundtrack of screaming.  See rules One and Two.

12. The only sounds able to conquer the soundtrack of screaming is the flushing of the toilet, the soundproofing of the car, and a jet engine on full.  Those brief moments of escape can be of fleeting relief to parent.

13. The first mouthful of a solid meal will necessitate the evacuation of baby's bowels.  This will be accompanied by grunting and red eyebrows.

14. If it goes in orange, it comes out orange.

15. If it goes in white, it comes out orange.

16. Breastmilk is a drug.  It has been known to cause silence.  It also has violent withdrawal symptoms.

17. Parent is desperate for some time away from baby, but if leaves baby, spends all the time away from baby thinking about baby and wondering how baby is doing.  Also talks incessantly about baby to everyone in sight.

18. The cutting of the umbilical cord is an illusion.

19. Parent will do ANYTHING to see baby smile.

20. Children are designed to do to us, what we did to our parents.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Looky, looky what I got!

I entered the art blogging world only a couple of months ago. I've been blogging elsewhere on a more personal note since 2004, but this blog is my first venture into the visual arts side of things (I've previously focussed on my writing, dribs and drabs of which will likely appear here in the future).

It was a touch daunting.  I'd been using all the time I had to sit on my butt breatsfeeding my newborn little Izzy to educate myself on the creative blogosphere (that and crochetting my hands off).  I found all these wonderfully entrepreneur women juggling art and family, or other jobs, and even some who had managed to grab the holy grail by its stem and go creative full time.  Wow.  And here I was barely managing to get the dishes done everyday and hadn't picked up a brush or pastel in years.

But I kept on reading and commenting in those places that caused my jaw to drop off.  Along the way I somehow managed to comment in the right place at the right time and the wonderfully talented Concetta announced that I had won a giveaway on her blog - Glittering Shards (love that name, it sparkles!).

Me? I won something? Oh, wow. I was a newbie everywhere and didn't really think I deserved it, but she packaged it up and sent it half way around the planet (one of the downsides of living Downunder is that unless I'm speaking to one of my fellow 21 million downunder peoples, I'm many, many miles away from everyone else). And it's arrived! (Well, to be honest, it arrived last Monday, but I haven't been organised enough to post it here with enough credit, the reason being something a little momentuous in my life which I will mention momentarily).

Isn't it gorgeous?  And it has me all inspired to draw dragonflies and create my own giveaway to pass the goodness on (I'm adding it to my list of must doos).  Thank you so much, Concetta.  This little piece of art will be hung above my art desk and will inspire me to new heights.  And thankyou for such a lovely introduction to the creative blogosphere community.  How on earth did I not know all you wonderful peoples were out here?

Okay, in reference to why this post was so delayed, beyond my inability to organise myself.  Last Monday my Sister-in-Law gave birth to twins.  I'm an Aunt!  And the four children (including my two) will all be around the same age and all will be fantastic when they are older.  Two little girls, who I will now refer to here as Hol and Miri (a shortening of their names).  This was all good, with one little exception.  The little twins weren't due until September, they are three months premature.

It was a hard couple of days, despite me not being anywhere near the frontline.  Sometimes the sidelines can be hard as well, and my brother is my baby brother, and having only had my little Izzy in March, I'm still really close to the whole issue.  I was beside myself for a few days.  But they are doing well.  Thank goodness and I wish them all the best.  I want huggles from them in the future.

(life is a learning experience)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Art of Silliness 2.7

I've quickly dashed off today's exercise before the kids wake up (my kids love to sleep in at the moment, yay for me :D). I do wish I had time to pen and colour these, but I'm pushing it just by managing to get them up on the web. I'm out of the house today so time is of a premium.  I suppose I'll keep them in my stash and can always work them up better later.

The exercise involved creating a pet creature from a pre-defined shape. If you compare the two drawings, you should be able to see the shape they are both based on.

Anyways, above you will find the Fleeposaur, a rather ferocious decendent of the dinosaurs.  Or he would be if he weren't the thickness of a sheet of paper and didn't sleep all day. Beware of papercuts.

And this is the Beeblefly. Had a collision with some wallpaper back in the sixties and has never quite recovered.

(typing and crossing my fingers that the kids sleep a little longer is a feat in itself)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Inspired maybe?

After spending my ten minutes drawing my stag beetle and then dashing off to attend to Izzy, I was left with a feeling of incompleteness. This feeling only intensified when I started looking at what the other participants in the workshop had come up with according to the same instructions.

I was a little flabbergasted. There was colourful completed artwork galore. I had to reread the instructions to see if I had done it correctly, which I think I did, and I had to come to the conclusion that this was the Art of Silliness and I should relax my teachers pet attitude of trying to get everything right. Relax, Nutty!

Of course, amongst all these wonderful pieces, my lousy little ten minute sketch, complete with wonky perspective, just didn't live up to the score. And to admit it, I liked the idea of the stag beetle and had the urge to scribble down some cartoony versions.

So with Izzy asleep on the couch, and despite the fact there are about a zillion things I should be doing with such a precious moment, I knelt down at the coffee table and drew for a little while.

Note: these are pencil works designed to be traced and penned with black ink, so they are pretty rough and are not finished works. As to whether I'll eventually pen them...unsure, time is a problem as always.

I don't know if female stag beetles have the horns and I can't be bothered to look it up, but this one spoke of girly as I was drawing it so it evolved that way.

This guy was supposed to end up a mean machine, but is a touch too mild mannered. The structure of the beetle speaks to me of hot cars and racing flames. I may expand on that idea in the future.

This one is achieved some of the 'mean' the former one didn't, even though he is essentially the same bug. The typography needs fixing (I'd either computer it, or fix it during the pen work) and please ignore the dark shadow from the scan.

That's all I've done so far. The magic of this whole thing is that I would never have ever considered drawing a stag beetle if it wasn't for the Silly Assignment. Already my tiny monetary investment in the workshop is paying off. Down the track I could possibly work this design into something I could use. And stag beetles? Not something you see everyday, so they have lots of possibilities.

I'm enjoying myself!

(still smothered in a list of six zillion things I need to do)

The Art of Silliness

Well, here is my first exercise. 10 minutes sketch, no corrections (didn't have time), so you have raw Nutty drawing skills...hmmm, looks squashed.

Stag beetle, pencil on printer paper, no eraser. approx 100x 200 mm

(dashing again for little Izzy who's hungry)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Who is Gumnut?

I thought it was about time that I introduce myself a little more extensively than the few words my profile babbles about. After all, there's the artwork, but who is going to care if they don't know me?

So I've added a page to this blog that lists a few of my facets. Enjoy it, I rambled on for a bit.

(who has had one of those days today)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Spring is here

I've just run out of baby free time, so here are the piccies I have been meaning to post for a couple of weeks to celebrate spring in my garden.

Hardenbergia in my front garden.

Hardenbergia, close up

Wattle, Acacia species, also my front garden.

I also have a bunch of ranunculi piccies to post, but must dash. More later.

(ruled by the children)

I did it.

I did it. I got out my credit card and typed in those numbers engraved in plastic into the computer and paid to join Carla Sonheim's Silly Class. :D

I'm a couple of days late in starting (such is my skill with the creative grapevine and, well, my lack of decision making skills).  I've never done an online class like this before, but I'm hoping it will be fun and I'll meet a bunch of fellow creative peoples.

Also, I have gotten my grimy hands on a copy of Carla Sonheim's book,  Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun (Lab Series)  (which I discovered through the creative grapevine a few days after embarking on my blogging voyage), and am thinking of attempting on a few of the exercises in there, too (one a week perhaps?).  Would anyone like to join me?  There is a Flickr group to display any works we might create. I can co-ordinate it as a challenge if enough people are interested in joining in (and if no-one knows if anyone else hasn't already set up such a challenge we could join, because I doubt it is an original idea).

(dying to do art, but eaten by RL recently)

Rumpling the Blanket

KJ, the little one responsible.
Sleep is a blanket that can be rumpled and disturbed.  It’s dark, almost black, but not quite.  Warm and comforting, occasionally laced with images, dreams, both good and bad, but mostly a welcome blanket that settles over and protects.

But it can be disturbed.

It starts with a whimper.  A muttered cry, an incoherent whisper that slips in between the folds, poking at the reluctant unconscious.  The blanket shifts, rustling and gently defiant.

But the whimper is not content at the lack of response.  It stutters and gains strength, calling out, penetrating the thickest of slumber, reaching in and touching that point, that link, the invisible chain that only that sound can touch.

And it wrenches you out of sleep.

Your baby is crying.

Sleep is replaced by a dark room, shadows lazily sketched out by a curtain-dampened street light and the harsh edges of red numbers declaring it to far too early for any sane person to be awake.

But then you are no longer a sane person.

You’re a mother.

Stumbling out of bed before your brain has fully engaged results in a teeter into the wardrobe and a trip without postcards over the pair of slippers you fell out of the evening before

But you can’t cry out.  Must be quiet.  It is night and everyone is asleep except you and your baby.  She calls and calls and calls.

Lamp switches blind you and you blink as the night is washed away.  It may tease at the headache you haven’t quite escaped, but it is the thought of whether the light is too bright for the baby that concerns you the most.

In truth, baby doesn’t care.  She’s too busy communicating you the state of her stomach.

Haste.  Is it the urgency of the cry, the threat that baby will die in the next few minutes if she isn’t immediately satisfied, or the concern of waking others in the house that takes priority?  You don’t really know, your brain hasn’t been fully engaged since she was born.  All you know is that she needs to be fed.

And whatever she wants is the most important thing in the world.

Listing off the rights and wrongs of lifting a child as you reach into the bassinet, desperately attempting to reassure the red face screaming at you.  “It’s okay, honey, it’s okay.”  Whispers that often don’t make it to the intended ears and you’re left wondering if you’re reassuring the little one or yourself.

Picking her up results is a surprised halt of noise and the house settles into night once again, only the light in the nursery revealing the lie.

Mummy’s here.

Everything’s okay.  Mummy’s here.

I love you.

The only response is a stunned stare followed by a reflex that ensures a newborn can feed, her gaping mouth rooting at your dressing gown, slobber caught in flannel.

It only takes moments to unfasten the bra you can never take off.  Shifting pyjamas and breast pads, nestling your little one snug in your arms.  But it is never fast enough.  You take a moment too long, eye contact is lost and suddenly the noise starts up again.

It drills into your head and links with the primitive brain.

“Nearly there, hon, just a moment, just a moment.”

Nature didn’t design with maternity bras in mind.

The scream is cut off the moment she smells the milk.  It’s welling at the nipple.  Her cries have woken you in more ways than one, and your breast is hot, swollen, and waiting.

She roots blindly and you guide her, that gaping mouth desperate to feed.

And she latches on.

Sharp, burning pain.  A breath sucked in for that moment.

But the cries have stopped and she is suckling.  Your breath leaks out your mouth as she settles down.  Your shoulders uncramp, you shift in position, seeking comfort, and her hands reach out to clasp your breast either side.

Don’t leave me, Mum.

And a pair of eyes stare up at you over the curve of your body.  Innocent.  Unknowing.  Needing.


Izzy, my current sleep challenger.

This piece was written in March 2008, a few weeks after my little KJ was born (I was still attempting to write back then).  This was what it was like for me as a first time mum.  I'm now a second time mum and things, while still wardrobe collidingly challenging, are slightly different, and as Izzy is now six months old, the world is re-emerging at my feet as sleep does make an occasional visit to my brain :D

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Finally finished artwork

Tree of Cyclones, approx. 750 x 550 mm, soft pastel on black pastel paper
I started this piece just before the Creative Colour Challenge started and has been on hold for over a month.  Today my wonderful Hubby took little Izzy for me for most of the day and I was able to finish it.  I owe him chocolate.

It was really fun when I started this.  It was a beautiful day and we were all doing family stuff in the backyard.  I gave KJ some pastels to play with and she got creative in her own way, Hubby was entertaining Izzy on the picnic rug and I got out my easel for the first time and ignoring all design rules, just drew.

I returned to that initial sketch a few days later and started to define the work more clearly.  It took away some of the freedom in the piece, but it upped the vibrancy of the colour and the mere actions of using the pastels taught me a great deal.  I also discovered the tree.  Totally unintentional, it just appeared as I drew.  I had one of those moments I've only really read about when an artist finds her art in the materials she is using.  It was an exciting moment.  I had never felt more arty.

Here are a few in progress shots.

And, of course, some gratuitous pastel porn :D

And a squiggly arty shot :D

In hindsight this design would probably have been better done in paint, but it did serve to educate me in pastel techniques.

And now I must return to motherhood as Izzy is screaming her head off.

(I finished it!)

The Top 10 Social Networks for Creative People

The Top 10 Social Networks for Creative People

This is worth a read. I've been subscribing to this blog for a month or two and it is certainly interesting reading. This particular post has introduced me to a few networks I knew nothing about, and enhanced my knowledge of others.

(this is what persuaded me to join Twitter)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Gumnut on Twitter

I've been on Twitter for several years but have not used it.  I didn't see its value and I felt I didn't have time to give it its due.  A couple of good friends migrated there about that time and I've missed them.  Recently, with my introduction to the creative visual arts blogosphere, I've seen recommendations everywhere to join Twitter.  It has taken me a while to work out why or how. After all, who wants to know the ins and outs of what I'm doing throughout the day? Nappy changing and feeds can only be so exciting.

But now I've come up with an idea.

You can find me here -   This is where I'm going to dump random thoughts and inspirations, musings, and that 99.9% of ideas that don't see the light of day.  I have a lot of ideas and not enough time to do anything with them. So I'm going to share.  Perhaps someone else might be sparked into creating a great piece of work.

If you do, please let me know, so I can grin :D

Anyways, must dash, the kids are screaming.  Furhter info to follow.

(never a quiet moment)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sunset Falling

Sunset Falling, Deviant Art Muro, by mouse on lounge chair arm

Just a quick last minute scribble for the Creative Color Challenge #5 - Lavender Purple.  It certainly came out more purple than I expected, and oddly watercolourish.  This was one of those paintings that evolved as I painted.  I started with the idea of a sunset over the sea, but thought that would be too 'done', and suddenly found myself with a horizon that demanded to be at an angle, which isn't really possible perspective-wise unless there is something in the foreground.  And the waterfall was born.  Perhaps a view of a waterfall you don't see very often, but I hoped to create the energy required via movement in the water we could see and the mist beyond.  And the mist took out most of the detail of the sunset in an oddly glowy way.

This is the last of the Creative Color Challenges and I have to say that they will be missed.  They have challenged me, freed up my art, and given birth to more pieces in this one month than I have done in the last five years.  Finally I can just draw.  It is such a feeling of freedom.  I have learnt new techniques both in the media of pastel and digital art.  I've discovered the common theme in all my works so far - light and colour.  I love both and I've finally given myself permission to explore them at length.  I am certainly looking forward to further challenges in the future.  To keep me going in the meantime, I'm hoping to create a piece for the monthly challenge of Found Art Friday over at Cathy Nichol's blog.  This month's challenge is change.

Thank you so much to all the entrants in the Creative Color Challenge.  I've met some great people with some fantastic talent.  Thanks for all your support, you've kept me going and that means more to me than you can know.  I hope to see you all in further challenges.

And just for the hell of are all my entries into the Creative Color Challenge - a challenge to create :D

#1 Sunshine Yellow

Streaming Headlights, soft pastel on black pastel paper, 300 x 420 mm
#2 Raspberry Red
Blood Lily, soft pastel & charcoal on black pastel paper, 300 x 300 mm
Dryandra, digital photograph, from my front garden

#3 Turquoise

By Moonlight, soft pastel & charcoal on black pastel paper, 420mm x 230mm

#4 Sea green/ To the Sea (Found Art Friday theme combined)

Crystal Wave, DeviantArt Muro, drawn by mouse
Breaking Storm, DeviantArt Muro, drawn by mouse on my lounge chair arm

#5 Lavender purple

Purple Inspiration, digital photo, from my garden

Purple Dragon, DeviantArt Muro, by mouse, lounge chair arm, very, very rushed and unfinished

Sunset Falling, Deviant Art Muro, by mouse on lounge chair arm

I did it. Completed :D

(who is up late and hoping Izzy sleeps through otherwise I'm in trouble)