New Art

I’ve been hard at work on my new novel so I haven’t had as much time for art. I try to fit it in around the writing as much as I can as it helps keep me balanced. I’ve done a few new pieces.

 

The individual pepper was done in watercolour and the three peppers in coloured pencil. It was fun to explore a similar subject in two different mediums. I can’t say which one was more enjoyable or easier, both were challenging in different ways and both took some time to complete in order to capture the realism of the peppers. I look forward to working on more projects in this vein, especially in coloured pencil.

The project I’m working on at the moment is a lot of fun. It’s also a watercolour and it’s a little field mouse. I’m doing a tutorial by Anna Mason. I love her tutorials and really enjoy the subjects she picks. I’m working on learning this style well, which includes the single pepper above, as I have a lot of images I’d like to paint on my own.

The little mouse was a challenge as all the character of the piece is in the eye, a very small portion of the painting. This is my second attempt and I feel like I’ve captured the character of the mouse in this attempt. Now I just need to paint the grasses and do a few finishing touches on the mouse to complete it.

I’ve been enjoying writing my new book. It’s challenging as I’m moving in a new direction with this story. It’s very different from what I’ve written before. I feel that I’ve found my voice with this one. I’ve been doing NanoWriMo this year in order to get a big jump into the novel. I’m over 35,000 words for the month so I’d say it’s going well. Just one week to go!

My Friend, the Blackbird

I’m sitting outside listening to the melodious song of my new friend, a blackbird. He lands on our terrace each morning and sings me a wake-up song. I’ve never seen the common blackbird before as there aren’t any in, at least my part, of North America. I find them seriously cute with their inquisitive eyes and bright orange beaks. Their song is one of my favourite birdsongs.

Every time I see him, though, I think, “…four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie…” I definitely don’t want to see him baked into a pie, but it goes to show how things stay with us from childhood.

It’s interesting to see all the new kinds of wildlife here in Europe. It was one thing I hadn’t thought about when coming to a new continent. It has surprised me how many different kinds of birds there are in Denmark alone. I come from a country that is filled with wildlife of all kinds, but I’ve never heard as many birds all at once as in Denmark. Sometimes while walking, we have difficulty hearing each other, especially if we pass below a tree. The birds are very loud!

Right now, as I sit out on my terrace, there is a concert going on around me. I could never get sick of this.

New Paintings

I’ve been having a blast in my studio lately. I’ve been working on a fan-art piece for my granddaughter’s bedroom. She loves Winnie the Pooh. I loved him as a little girl and her mommy loved him, and now she does. So, it’s kind of a family thing. Of course, I had to draw one for her. I’ve done a few Pooh drawings (among other 100 Acre Wood characters), but this is the first time I’ve done one in color. I used watercolor pencils for the first stage, then went over it in colored pencil (prismacolor for all the pencils). I’m new to colored pencils, and have only used watercolor pencils for textured paintings. This was a challenge and a lot of fun. I think I’ll use a blending medium if I do another one like this. I found the blending pencil didn’t get the colors as nicely blended as I’m used to with watercolor. Overall, I’m very happy with this one.

 

I did another painting in my realism series that I’ve been learning with Anna Mason’s school. I love her work and have been enjoying learning to paint realistic botanical subjects in watercolor. I’ve done a few and look forward to painting many more. There are so many subjects available in the botanical world that I know I could never run out of things to paint.

Next on the easel will be another Greek series painting. I’m thinking of working on another church, but haven’t decided yet. I just love those blues and whites against the sea. So gorgeous. There are so many different scenes to paint, how do I choose?

Time to go relax and read after hours of painting. I sometimes have to cut myself off or I’ll pay for it with a sore neck and backside. I started art at such a late age–I have a lot of time to make up for. 😉

A Culmination

It’s a beautiful, sunny day here, and I’m sitting at a local café having a tea and a scone with my husband while writing this post. It’s the day after we finally realized our goal we set out to accomplish over five years ago. One day I’m going to write about the journey in a book. It’s been an incredible ride.

Five years ago we were trying to decide what would come next. We’d gotten married recently and were at a crossroads in our life. We had gone through some very trying times and as a result, we had little income and not many prospects. We’d met at a writer’s conference several years before and we both had a dream of becoming authors. Having to work full-time, however, didn’t leave a lot of time for creativity, especially working as an accountant. I was always quite exhausted when I got home.

We discussed many options and Jonas came up with his best idea yet. If you know him at all, you know he’s a guy of great ideas. Sarah Roberts anyone? He suggested that I work for a year (This because I had better prospects to get a job that would support us as he’d always worked for himself) and he would stay home to write. His vow to me was that at the end of that year I would never have to work again. That was the beginning of our crazy journey.

I finished work in April of 2011 and soon after we got on a plane headed to Europe. We spent the first year or so house-sitting in order to keep our expenses low. The rest of the time we wrote. Well, we did some touring, too, but that was in our downtime, which we didn’t have much of. We soon released Sarah Roberts book after book and before long I had three novels for sale as well.

By the next year, we were making enough money from our books to come home to Western Australia. We stayed six months and got itchy feet again. We had discovered a love of travel. After being in Italy for a few months and working on getting a visa to stay permanently, Jonas got an email from a Hollywood studio. It’s been almost three years of going back and forth pitching multiple different studios, but yesterday we finally got an offer on the table. And a good one. A very good one.

Through all the travel and even hard times of having not much money, we believed this day would come. I’ve always believed that Jonas had it in him to be a big name in the publishing world. It’s so great to be proven right, isn’t it? So, lots more things to come. This offer is just the beginning of that snowball that’s already picking up speed. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

For now, though, we are heading back to Greece. We have fallen in love with the Greeks and their lovely country and want to make our home there. Off to a new adventure!

Daily Creations

Creating art has become a daily habit for me, something I find difficult to do without. I try to take weekends off to spend time with the family, which means no art and no writing. I usually succeed in staying away, but by the time Monday comes, I’m antsy with the need to create something, both with words and pencils or paint. This has come out of my commitment to learn how to draw.

I decided that if I was going to learn to draw at an older age, I needed to commit to daily practice. What started as a commitment soon became a compulsion. I love the process of creating a picture or writing a book. The best part of it is when I stand back and marvel at what has come out of my own brain, but I’ve learned for the most part to also enjoy the process. That’s one of the hardest lessons to learn. It’s easy to get too close to what you’re creating and begin to think it’s garbage, not worth working on. That’s when it’s time to, literally in the case of art, take a step back and take in the whole picture. For a story, you should put it away for at least a couple of days to see it again with fresh eyes. This is one of the reasons I take weekends off.

The most important thing to remember is, trust the process. You won’t know if you’ve got a masterpiece until it’s complete. If you quit early, you’ll never know what it was capable of becoming. If, at the end, you still have garbage, well you’ve learned something you can use to make the next project better. Creativity is never wasted.

This is a good analogy for life. You are also a masterpiece in the making. But, the process is ongoing. It’s important to trust the process and allow yourself time to grow and develop into the spectacular human you’re capable of becoming. Don’t criticize a half-made creation, rather watch and see how you will develop. I’m not the person I was twenty years ago and I’m sure you aren’t either.

Creativity is what makes life interesting and makes humans unique. Are you giving yourself space to be creative every day?

Is that Your Best?

My life used to be a constant search for perfection. I believe it came from never being able to please my mother. No matter what I did, it wasn’t good enough. So, I set off on a lifelong search to find a way to finally be good enough. That search led me to be hard on myself and to allow nothing less than perfection in everything I did.

To be perfect means never to make a mistake. But, mistakes are the very things that make us human. In fact, we don’t learn without making mistakes. These are necessary life lessons. How did I get off the perfection roller coaster? By realizing that all I have to do is my best.

In an episode of Breaking Bad, one of the main characters, Jesse, was telling a story about a carpentry class he took in school. He was supposed to make a small chest as his project for the year. He decided to make it quickly and get it over with so he could mess around for the rest of the classes. When he brought his shoddily-made box to his teacher, all the teacher said was, “Is that your best?”

Jesse didn’t feel that the teacher was criticizing him or telling him to do it better, he was just asking a simple question. If Jesse had answered yes, the teacher would have probably accepted the project and given him an average grade, but Jesse suddenly wasn’t satisfied with himself and his workmanship. He took the box back and spent weeks making the best chest he could make. He spent hours sanding and shaping until he had a project he was proud of. You could see the pride in his face even as he told the story years later. Now he could honestly answer, “Yes. This is my best.”

That’s all we need to do. We don’t need to be perfect. It’s actually impossible to be so. Besides, what is perfect anyway but someone’s opinion. One man’s perfection is another man’s lowest standard. If you do your best, you can always feel proud of what you accomplish. The next time you do something that isn’t perfect, remind yourself, “I did my best.”