Posted in Alzheimers, Courses, creativity, Drawing, Drawings, life drawing, portraits, portraiture, Proko

The Start of Creativity 2020

The start of 2020 has been full on for me. I’ve had the challenging experience of making a difficult decision (with my brother) to admit our mother to permanent aged care. It was a very difficult and emotional time but mum seems to be doing well and I can only hope that she enjoys her time in the beautiful homey residence we chose for her.

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My mum in her new residence. Love her so much!

So in between rushing to Canberra to do all things aged care I’ve also managed to injure my lumbar spine and have a bulging disc. It’s horrifically painful and is limiting my ability to do art and write. I have to write a sentence and walk around as I don’t have a standing desk and the only comfortable positions for my back to heal are laying flat and standing up.

But over the first two months in between all this change I have managed to go to life drawing once and do more portraits as part of my portrait practice challenge.

Here’s a few photos of the portraites I’ve been working on:

And a couple from my January life drawing class:

I’ve also signed up to learn more about figure drawing with Proko. I would love to develop my drawing of the human figure and have less perspective errors in my drawings. So it’s going to be a fun year of creative exploration. There are so many great drawing tips from Stan Prokopenko on YouTube too. So if you love drawing and want to get better at it, you may want to check him out as well.

I hope you have a creative day no matter how you like to approach your creative expression.

 

Posted in Alzheimers, creativity, healing, life drawing, portraits, portraiture

Celebrating Art in 2019

I have been delving into a daily art practice since May this year and I want to share with you the joy that this form of creative expression brings me. To do this, I have put together a six minute video showing a lot of the portraits I have done and some of the creative ways I have drawn people and random things that interest me throughout this year. I have learned not to be so precious about my art and to be okay with unfinished drawings. I’ve learned to be self-compassionate and to enjoy being fully present in the moment.

When I am doing life drawing or sketching random people I am practicing my observation skills and my hand-eye coordination. I’m seeing and recording what catches my eye and details that are important to me. When I am doing portraits I am attempting to get a likeness, to develop my own style and most of all, I am trying to capture a sense of their spirit through my drawing.

This year, I have written my novels sporadically and I felt awful that I couldn’t write the way I wanted to. I have two novels in various stages of editing and it’s been too much for me to focus on that while also dealing with the pain of my mother’s Alzheimer’s disease,  and the flow on effect this disease has on my life. My brain has felt like cotton wool every time I have come to write my stories so this year I turned to my art practice as a place of solace and healing.

2019 has been an emotionally difficult year and I think 2020 may have a bit more of that to offer me but I am going to continue my writing and my art practice because that’s my way of living a creative life.

So, I hope, if you take the time to watch the youtube video below, that you enjoy it and that you are inspired to create, write, draw, paint, sing, dance, make music, do whatever creative expression muse calls you to do on a daily basis from now on. Because, making art is a celebration of life as we see it and relate to it. That’s what I believe.

It is also my belief that creative expression brings out the best of humanity and can call attention to important topics and causes too. So if you have something to communicate, please don’t hold back on expressing yourself through your chosen medium. Let yourself out to play, move away from judgement and into self-compassion. Move into acceptance of where you’re at and know that with every step you take you are making progress.

This is David, my partner. He is a volunteer fire fighter and last week he was out on a strike team fighting fires in Bundaberg, Queensland. These people are volunteering to save crops, animals, people and property while dealing with smoke and heat and harsh weather conditions. They don’t get paid and many of them take annual leave from their day jobs to be there for those in need.

Dave’s portrait is number 44 of 100 of my portrait practice challenge. It’s a portrait but it is so much more than that. To me, it is about honouring the volunteers who put themselves on the line for our community every time a fire threatens to devour whatever it in its path.

He sent me this photo when he had a chance. It was meant to be confirmation that he was safe and well. But I looked at it and saw a man doing his best to care for those in need and I wanted to honour that through my art.

I hope Dave’s portrait inspires you to make art that comments on the good work people do in this world too.

I may not blog again until early 2020, but before I sign off, I want to share with you that I am grateful for you touching my life, for the positive and supportive comments made and I hope that creative living provides you with a safe place to play and be yourself without judgement too.

Have a great end of 2019 and may 2020 bring you many hours of creative fun and joy! 

 

Posted in Alzheimers, creativity, Cross Hatching, Drawing, Drawings, Gratitude, portraits, portraiture, Uncategorized

Creativity Keeping Me Steady

I’ve completed 39 of 100 portraits in my 100 portraits challenge. I have no time frame to do them in. I just want to practice and keep learning how to develop my own creative expression on paper.

The images above are the my three most recent drawings. Two are cross hatching with a micron pen and the one in the middle is charcoal and white poc marker pen. Each one took about a two hours to complete and I am quite happy with them. I’m learning how much shadow to lay down, how to capture the light on the page and how to follow the form with each cross hatching stroke. It’s not always easy and I make mistakes but the act of drawing takes me out of the critical mind and keeps me steady in life.

In November I went to Canberra, where my family live and I was born, to see my mum. She has Alzheimer’s Disease and it was time to go back to collect more precious memories and to touch base on a face-to-face-heart-to-heart level. The day I arrived my mum seemed unwell and by the next day she was in emergency. She had an infection and so I spent the week at the hospital. My brother has been mum’s main carer and he is doing a brilliant job of caring for mum and it’s difficult to stop infections from happening when the person you look after can’t tell you they are unwell.

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It was a difficult and precious week.

I took a photo of us holding hands, even though mum didn’t know who I was.

At one point as she started to recover, the nurses had lowered the bed to the floor and I sat beside her. My hand held in hers. She rubbed my fingers with hers, smiled for the first time in a long time and whispered, “You’re lovely. I think you’re wonderful.”

Tears welled in my eyes. I choked them back and said, “I think you’re lovely too and I love you.”

Her blue eyes turned to me once more and she said, “I love you too.”

And then she receded into whatever space one goes to when they have Alzheimer’s Disease. Her eyes grew distant and she stared around the room once more.

That is a moment I will treasure for the rest of my life. Even writing this now my heart is aching and tears are making my vision blurry.

My mum is teaching me all about living in the moment and how to appreciate the smallest murmurs with the deepest love.

Mum was still in hospital when I had to return to Brisbane but I knew I’d be back in a few weeks time to see her once again. Her light is still strong and I have more precious moments to collect when I am there. Moments that will be locked away in my heart for the rest of my life.

So, once I got home and was greeted with lavish licks from my dogs and a semi-tolerant stare from cat, I knew it was time to start capturing moments that held meaning to me through my art practice.

David, my partner, happened to be sitting down watching TV and I noticed his foot. Strange as it might sound, I knew I wanted to draw his foot and catch an impression of him in my big green chair.

Dave_FootI got out my micron pen and sketched his foot using extreme foreshortening and then his knee and then his other foot and leg, and then I added the rest of him at a distance.

When I finished this drawing I was delighted. It has become one of my all-time favourite drawings. It is not perfect. In fact it is filled with imperfection, but what it captures is love and life in action. I also hold a memory of this moment that I can relive every time I see this drawing. To get David to sit for me to draw him, I bribed him with an ice cream and an episode of Star Trek Deep Space Nine!

And this is how creative art has been helping me to stay steady in life as I deal with anticipatory grief over my mother’s health conditions.

I also had a glimpse of creative writing again and in that moment I took to my novel with renewed interest and care.

Staying creative – drawing and writing what is in my heart and what I find precious – during the ups and downs of life brings solace to my heart.

I’m learning how important the ordinary is and how extraordinary the ordinary things in life really are.

Until next time, with gratitude for the time you have spent here reading my blog, I wish you creativity in your day. 

Posted in Alzheimers, Courses, creativity, Drawing, Drawings, life drawing, portraits, portraiture, skillshare, Sktchy, visual diary, water color, Water Colour, Water Colours, watercolour

Arty fun has been had

In recent weeks, I have been diving deeper into my art practice.

My writing brain is having a holiday from the pressure of editing my novel. I’ve felt a bit burnt out with my writing lately and needed to give myself permission to do something fun where I have no pressure to be at publication standard. No-one has ever put pressure on me to write to publication standard, but I have and I’m a harsh task master.

I have been on holidays and it has helped me to fill up my creative bucket through art.

Below are some of the portraits I have done as part of my portrait practice challenge. These are all black pen and one of them I used yellow and orange pencils to make the flower pop.

The portraits below include a self-portrait I did which is now the basis of my next Skillshare course, called Draw a Self-Portrait in Graphite.

I also experimented with black brush pen to create the quickest portrait I’ve ever done of the young man in half shadow. Then it was back to graphite to capture eyes.

Eyes, eyes, eyes. All one eye studies which I did as part of a Sktchy course with France Van Stone. I’m still doing this eyes course and loving it. I’m about to move on to pen drawings, so I’ll keep you updated when I get those done. The eyes below are of my family, partner and friend as well as one of my own eyes.

Then it was time to tackle one of the most emotionally difficult portraits I have ever done… my mother’s face. She has Alzheimer’s disease and is often lost and confused. The day I drew this portrait (below) my heart ached and I shed quite a few tears as I processed the grief I feel time and again as I come to terms with what is happening to my mum.

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I learned how to combine ink with watercolour and pastel pencils to create the two portraits below.

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These portraits were quite a lot of fun to do. The one above is my boss. It’s not an exact likeness but I caught the fact that he loves bright colours.

Below is the one I did in the mini Sktchy course with Margriet AasmanIMG_0789

This one below is my latest portrait. I did it yesterday as I completed an online sktchy course on how to draw a portrait using charcoal medium. This was quite a challenging medium to work in and I had to get used to pushing around the willow charcoal to create the features, and not go too heavy on the compressed charcoal when I went back into bring the eyes to life. I thoroughly enjoyed this class with Neil Rogers.

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I’m going to keep developing my portrait practice. I’ve done 18 portraits so far and I have been adding to my understanding of how to capture the face as well as get a likeness, then how to allow my own style to emerge. I’m looking forward to what the next eighty-two portraits look like as well as seeing how my preferences for mediums change.

Of course, I haven’t only been doing art classes, I have been learning how to draw in my visual diary and use watercolours to enhance what I want to capture. Above is a sketch of my dining room, multiple watercolour (in graphite watercolour as well as colour) mushrooms, an apple that I ate and painted one bite at a time, three pears.

And to top all this creativity off, I went to an Archery for Authors event where I learned to use a bow and arrow. I’m not the best aim but I killed a balloon and when we went outside to play with long bows, I hit the bullseye!

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It was a fantastic morning. Now if I choose to have a character in one of my novels that uses a bow and arrow, I’ll actually know what I’m writing about.

Until next time, I hope you are living an inspired and creative life.

Posted in Alzheimers

Love to my mum on Mother’s Day

Love is important.

I love you, mum.

Today, I may not be there in person, but in my heart, you and I are always together.

Happy Mother’s Day to my mum. You are always in my heart.

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My mum has Alzheimer’s. It’s heartbreaking but these moments are precious. Here’s a photo of the love we share.

Rodger and I love you more than words will ever convey. We want you to know that you mean the world to both of us.

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My brother, Rodger and I, taking a selfie on Mount Ainslie overlooking Canberra. It was a beautiful evening and mum was wandering around having a good time too. 

Mum, you are so precious to Rodger and I.

You may not remember certain things now that Alzheimer’s has touched your life, but we will remember things for you. And we want you to know how amazing we think you are.

You’ve been a light in my life and you still are. I cherish every moment we have together, and I’m so very grateful that I got to have such a fantastic mum as you!

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Mum and I having a special moment. Mum was telling me, “I love you, darling.” And I was telling her, “I love you too.”

Neither time nor distance will ever stop us from loving each other. Now and always, Happy Mother’s Day.

Posted in Alzheimers, Creative Writing

Life and the act of creative writing

When life becomes stressful for me, one of the things I thoroughly enjoy doing is throwing my characters into conflict infested scenarios.  Then I sit there and wonder … how on earth are they going to get through this?

Sometimes writing fiction is as challenging as navigating life itself.

Life’s been very stressful for me this year. I can’t deny it. My brother and I have had to come to terms with our mother’s recent diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Dementia and it is the most heart wrenching thing to see and experience. A truly cruel disease of the brain.

Mum Rodger n Me

My brother has been doing the most amazing job caring for our mum because this disease is tough. Tough on the carers. Tough on the family and friends too. It’s tough for the person going through the dementia too.

 

So grief, depression and anxiety have been my companions.

It’s hard for me to admit how much this situation is affecting me and I am struggling to put things in to words here because of how keenly personal things are.

So in October, I flew down to Canberra to see my mum. I loved seeing her but she had changed so much. My mum stood before me, physically the same person, at least on the outside, but on the inside … the brain damage she has sustained shattered my heart.

At times mum recognised me (I live in Queensland and she is in Canberra so we don’t see each other very often). At other times mum thought she had given birth to twin daughters and continued to tell me that she couldn’t remember giving birth to me. She also insisted that her real daughter lives in Queensland and as nice as I was … well, in her eyes I wasn’t her daughter.

Sometimes what mum said was funny, somethings it was devastating.

Anyway, it’s been an emotional roller coaster and I never know if mum is going to remember me when I ring her. But on the up side, I am doing my best to cherish  memories on her behalf and to remember my mum for the amazing, strong and beautiful woman she was as I grew up. My mum is still there and sometimes, in her lucid moments, she surfaces and it is a true delight!

Some people believe mum should just try harder to remember things but she can’t do that. She’s had mini-strokes. It means she has brain damage and she can’t remember. When I’ve heard well-meaning people tell my mum that she has to try harder to remember and that she’s always had memory issues, I just want to slap them in the head for being so ignorant, so arrogant, so farking lacking in compassion.

If someone has a broken leg and it’s bent at some odd angle, would it make sense to tell them to, “Just stand up and walk. Use your legs!”

FARK NO!

Sorry, I’m so frustrated by stupid statements like that. It’s ridiculous and causes anxiety for my mum and for her children.  But I do understand that the comments come from a place of wanting to help and trying to make sense of a disease that doesn’t make sense.

Anyway, since things have been so full-on emotionally, I’ve found myself doing quite a bit of creative writing. I’ve been working feverishly on The Living Death of Toddy James. I’ve spent some time plotting out a rough outline and now I’m elbows deep in writing the chapters. The act of writing helps me to compartmentalise the pain. But it doesn’t mean I don’t face and feel the pain, it just gives me a safe place to take a breather and I am so grateful.

So far I’ve written sixteen chapters and I’m drafting chapter seventeen now. I’ve been writing everyday and it’s been a twisting turning journey for Toddy James. I hope I’m doing her justice. But for now I’m not rewriting. I’m pushing forward because I promised myself I would finish this story and I will.

Writing is a passion for me. I can’t not do it. So is reading. I love to read and I’ve been getting into reading romance stories lately. I’m learning more about the romance genre which will help me with my own writing because all of my stories have romantic elements.

I think another reason I have been enjoying the romance genre lately is that I need something to lighten up my life and even though every story is filled to the brim with conflicts, romance is known for delivering happy-ever after endings and that’s a nice thing to look forward too.

I hope life is treating you well. I’m keeping on keeping on as they say and I’m writing but most of all I’m sending my mum and brother a tone of love because they are both incredibly precious to me.