Feeling A Lot Of Gratitude

At the end of August I was challenged by my brother to take part in the Great Cycling Challenge. Actually, scrap that sentence – he didn’t challenge me, he signed me up! He’d signed himself up & I guess he decided I should take part too.

You can find all the info relating to the challenge here https://greatcyclechallenge.com.au/Riders/KimCofield

The tldr: during October hundreds of people across Australia are cycling & fundraising to help kids living with cancer and I’m taking part.

I set a conservative cycling goal and fundraising goal. 75kms and $1000. There’s 14 days left in October and I’ve met and gone over both goals. I’m surprised and grateful.

Wednesday October 13 was Kick Cancer’s Butt day. Every dollar donated was matched by a group of generous corporate supporters. They had a million dollars to add to the fund over 1.6 million dollars was raised on Wednesday. It’s kind of mind blowing when you think about it.

Friends and family donated to me; it was amazing to get their responses and see their donations on my fundraising page. I’ve even had a friend who lives in the UK donate, which blew me away.

So, I’ve reset my goals. I’m now hoping to raise $1500 and ride 100kms. I hope I can do both. If you’d like to donate, the donate button is in there in the link above 🙂

An Observation Project

A double exposure, playing with expectations of a sunset

It has been a while since I’ve stopped to photograph the setting sun in my backyard. More often than not I’ll stop what I’m doing & notice it, observe the beautiful colours – even the skies that are appear to be a single shade of blue, making them a lot less interesting than the skies full of yellow, orange & pink hues – have a small amount of beauty to them – and then continue on with what i was doing. But actually picking up my camera & photographing it, well i just hadn’t bothered. I’d sort of thought, what’s the point? There’s only so many times something can be photographed before it’s boring, right?

Over the past couple of days I’ve read about photographers repeatedly photographing something, whether it be something around their home such as a magnificent tree or something further afield such as a lake or river. As i read about these projects i found myself wishing i to had something to photograph. Not daily, i find a daily commitment to one thing difficult to work with. But once a week, or every fortnight, that works for me. Then i realised, i’ve kind of been doing that already, with my backyard sunset photos.

Ok, so i haven’t been photographing them a lot lately, but I’ve been intermittently photographing them for years. Why not return to it? Why are backyard sunsets any less significant than anyone else’s projects? They’re not, of course. I just hadn’t afforded them any real significance. They were simply a thing I’d randomly capture, a small moment of beauty to admire. I’m going to change this a little. Formalise it if you will. My aim is to photograph one backyard sunset every fortnight. Sometimes it may even be more often than that. I’ll share my results here, with you.

Is there something you’ve been thinking about doing? Undertaking a new art project perhaps, or learning a new skill? Maybe you too have a project sitting in the back of your mind, not yet expressed. Why not give it a go? Yo never know what may come of it.

An Update

Stars in my eyes

It has again been too long between posts. I want to write here, I really do. What stops me is the hang up I have around writing. I was told for a long time my love of writing was a waste of time. When you hear something enough you believe it. It’s sad but true. The mind is an amazing thing but it can often work against you. As someone with anxiety I know the truths of that.

But I’m here writing to you (assuming anyone is still reading this blog) & want to update you with where I’m at. I’ve spent a lot of this year concentrating on improving my art. I always feel good making art, so why not get better at it, right?
I’ve found a bunch of talented people on YouTube & SkillShare who share their knowledge in a fun easy way. Would you like me to share them with you? Perhaps that could be the topic of another post. Let me know.
Their enthusiasm for their art inspires me to improve mine but best of all I’m enjoying myself whilst learning. Practicing art is like meditation for me, I’m focussed solely on the task which means my anxiety is no longer with me.
Because photography has always been a love of mine I’ve wanted to step up a level, get better at the types of styles I love. For a long time I was scared of portrait photography. Scared the photos I’d make would be hated by the subjects. Over time I’ve come to realise that what matters is me liking it, not anyone else. I’m not a professional photographer. Whilst it’s ideal if the subject likes a photo I take of them, they don’t have to because I’m not relying on them buying my work. But restrictions around covid has made it difficult to got out & about whenever I want to. So I decided to turn the camera on myself. I don’t like being in photos, but if I’m the only subject available then I’ve got little choice. Thankfully a lot of creative photos can be taken in an untraditional way. I’ve been having a blast learning how to take them & continue enjoying them. Best of all I’m gaining photographic skills that translate outside of self portraiture. A win win if you like.

These photos are a couple taken during the past few months, that I can actually say I’m happy with. That I’m proud to share online. They represent a new confidence in myself which I hope continues.
So, if I may suggest something, take a moment to think about what you’d like to do more of. Or get better at. And then do it. You might just find you’ll love it more. Or you might find it’s no longer for you, which is totally ok. If that’s the case then think of all the exciting things you’ve yet to explore, and pick one. You just never know 🙂

Abstract Art

Sharing my process videos on my YouTube Blues 31 Maychannel has become a place for me to show how easy it is to create art. In my case, art made with oil pastels & art that is more often than not abstract. I’ve received some lovely feedback from people, including a young woman showing me her version of an art piece she made following one of my videos. The feeling of knowing I’ve inspired someone to make art is difficult to describe but its a feeling I cherish.
However YouTube isn’t exactly the best place to share much in the way of writing. Who knows if people even read the artist statement I put in with each video? So I thought here would be a good place to share a bit of the feelings that went into a piece or perhaps an explanation of why I created it. It kind of makes sense, now that I’ve written it down 🙂
The photo here doesn’t actually have a process video. I realise that content is king as far as YouTube is concerned, but making art simply for making art is important to me. This abstract, which I’ve been thinking about calling Blues, is one of those pieces. I made it on May 31. I was exhausted & frustrated, lacking in artistic motivation but wanting to create something. I sat down, opened my sketch pad (a Toulouse Paper House 100 page drawing pad) & then proceeded to stare at my oil pastel set for a while. Shades of blue were calling to me – no surprise considering how I was feeling. I thought about going against what I was feeling, to create with opposite colours on the colour wheel, but I’m sure if I’d have done that the result wouldn’t have made me happy.
It took me about 30 minutes to make this. When it was finished I felt a little better, but best of all I now have another completed page in my drawing pad. I’m at the halfway mark of this pad. I don’t think I’ve ever completed so many pages within an art book before! It’s an exciting feeling,, knowing that I’m progressing my skills & making so much art. Perhaps I should share other pages here?

Checking In & Recommending Things

Hey there. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Too long really, if I’m going to be honest. Things have been happening in life, a lot of art thing actually. Well, other life things too, but they’re boring to me so they’ll be boring to you too 😉

What art things you ask? Well, my love affair with oil pastels continues. I’ve been posting process videos on my YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpMnJphAt4SXm-mTQDySPAA to hopefully inspire others to give oil pastels a go. Perhaps you’ll follow along with a video or two? If you do share what you make with me, I love seeing your art.

Photography continues to be a constant in my life, and I’m exploring different ways to express myself in the medium. I’m a member of Girls With Cameras, an online photography community for women which among other things offers daily creative prompts to inspire & challenge. If you’re a female photographer & keen to learn more, I can highly recommend the community https://linktr.ee/girlswithcamerasetc

Breaking Things That I Should Keep, inspired by a song lyric

My email inbox has been ruthlessly edited over the past months. I unsubscribed from a lot of email subscriptions that were no longer serving me. What remains is both more manageable in terms of reading time & by providing me with content I actually want. It can be daunting, especially if you have a lot of subscriptions hitting your inbox each day, but its worth taking the time to edit. Set aside a block of time to dedicate to tidying your inbox, either dealing with it in one hit, or if you’ve got too much to deal with, by allocating 10 minutes a day until it’s more manageable. I promise you’ll thank me once you’re done 🙂

Perhaps you’d enjoy reading some of the things I do? After all if you read my posts then we are in some way like minded. If digital art is your thing, specifically in this case iPad art, then check out Art With Flo https://artwithflo.com/flos-treasure-chest-full-of-procreate-freebies/ She offers free tutorials on YouTube, a weekly newsletter full of tips, brushes & creative inspiration, plus she is on Patreon too.

As a Murderino receiving weekly missives from My Favorite Murder are a joy to receive. Karen & Georgia’s rapport is a delight & watching two strong women rising above the cacophony of old white men who take up a lot of the podcast space is pure joy. Under the banner of Exactly Right Media they’re building a community of podcasts that have something for everyone. https://www.exactlyrightmedia.com/

Lastly for now is a recent find, Literary Hub. I can’t remember how I stumbled upon it, but Lit Hub is full of books. Book recommendations critiques, essays on the craft & subject & a whole lot more. https://lithub.com/

I hope you find something here to pique your interest.

Till next time, stay creative


An Abstract For Every Mood

Recently I was chatting with a friend about my newly discovered love of making art with oil pastels. It has taken me by surprise. Never before have I found myself wanting to create as often as I am, with any other art supply. I’m particularly struck at my urge to create abstracts. I’ve always loved them, but haven’t made many in the past. Currently I’ve got two of mine hanging in my art room plus at least 10 more in my sketch pad.

Jane (the aforementioned friend) summed up abstracts perfectly. They’re a way to make mood based art, using colours to represent my mood at the time. I love the idea so much, I wish it was mine 😉

I’ve done enough research into colour theory to know that colours can and do effect mood. I know myself well enough to know that when I’m incredibly angry I feel the best thing to create is from pouring black paint onto a canvas & going from there. But I also know I like to challenge myself, using colours that I don’t normally think of using. The second image above I made with those particular colours because I rarely use such muted tones. I challenged myself to see if I could make something I was happy with, with those colours. To not make it dull, I deliberately used pale blue as a contrast. I’m really happy with the result.

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I’ve come to realise these abstracts are a good way to ease my anxiety. For the hour or so it takes to make one, my mind is focused on the art only. Even if I’m recording my work to share on my YouTube (check it out here, if you’re interested https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nmC8Y68CsQ ) I’m not aware of my phone recording, sitting on a tripod beside me (even though it’s a weird thing for me to have accompany me as I create) or anything else for that matter. It’s just me, the oil pastels & paper. There have been times when I’ve finished an abstract & have fought the urge to make another immediately. That’s how much I love them 🙂

A Change Of Artistic Direction

A couple of months ago I was recording an episode of the Art Supply Posse podcast, when my guest Ana Reinart – of the Well Appointed Desk – challenged me to use my most unused art supply, which was a set of Mungyo Gallery oil pastels that I’d bought over ten years ago.

Ana is the founder of the ASP so we invited her to be our guest for the 100th podcast episode. An expert on all things stationery, Ana gave me a couple of pointers for using them. A few days later, I grabbed a piece of butchers paper & made my first sketch. Instantly I was hooked. The bright colours & speed of producing art using oil pastels speaks to me. I like speed in my art, because I don’t have hours to spend making it.

I’ve found some great artists on YouTube sharing their oil pastels & have learnt a lot; I can link them below if you’d like me to – let me know 🙂

I haven’t felt this enamoured by using an art supply, probably ever. I still love making art using other supplies, but there is something about oil pastels that has my heart. I’m grateful that I was challenged to learn how to use them.

So, what about you? Do you have art supplies stashed away, that haven’t seen the light of day in years? Why not get them out & use them. Most of us have way more supplies than we actually need, although want & need are two totally different things! Who knows, maybe you’ll fall in love with your old supplies. And if you don’t? Give them away. There’s no point putting them back in the cupboard if you don’t like them, but I’m sure there’s someone out there who would be grateful if you gifted them.

An oil pastel abstract, created January 13 2021

Oh, if you’d like to see a quick process video, take a look at my YouTube

Indoor Plants & Mental Health

My love affair with indoor plants began slowly, about two years ago. The small space we were living in at the time was utilitarian out of necessity but its drabness was driving me a little batty. I wanted something pretty & decided a couple of house plants would be perfect. I bought a Dracena Marginata and another plant that had no nursery label. I thought it was a Philodendron; I recently discovered its actually a Syngonium Podophyllum or Syngonium White Butterfly. Within weeks my White Butterfly had exploded in growth, going from a small plant with only a few leaves to a plant double in size. Some days it felt like she was growing whilst I watched her, so quick was her growth. Her stunning leaves resemble an elongated heart shape with pale green or white veins which I guess is where the name White Butterfly comes from. 

I’ve found bright indirect light suits her most, although I’ve seen suggestions that she will also cope with lower light situations. Wikipedia advises that the White Butterfly is a native to semi-tropical countries such as Brazil, Ecuador & Mexico. I wonder if her growth would be even faster if she was placed in a bathroom? Perhaps I should put one of my propagations in my ensuite, to compare with growth in a non humid space? Oh yes, I’m propagating my White Butterfly. Her growth is so much that I’ve found propagation is a nice way to control it. Propagation is very easy, simply cut off growth near a node, place it in water & wait a while for roots to grow. The growth will depend on the temperature; I took cuttings from my mother plant a week & a half ago & they’re already developing roots. Pretty soon I’ll have another five plants to add to my collection.

So Kim, I hear you saying, what exactly does this have to do with helping your mental health? And more importantly how can owning plants help my mental health? Well, it’s simple really. My plants make me happy. In a world that currently feels like its gone crazy I’ll take simple happiness whenever I can get it. I check my plants every day. I check them to see if they need a water, to make sure that there hasn’t been an influx of bugs since I last looked at the plant but also to check plant growth. It’s so exciting to watch a new leaf push its way out of a plant, going from a tiny green thing to a fully formed pale coloured leaf, eventually becoming a hardened fully grown leaf. Sometimes I grab my camera to photograph a leaf but mostly I just watch them in awe. Plant life is a little bit magical & I love having that in my life. A couple of times when I’ve been anxious I’ve gone looking at my plants, because I know doing that will ease the anxiety a little. 

I haven’t yet dived into the psychology behind the actual scientific studies that look at the mental health benefits of plant ownership, but I will. And if it’s ok with you I’ll share it in a future post. For now, trust me when I say plants will help improve your mental health. If you don’t already own house plants, treat yourself to one or two. And you’re allowed to blame me if you find yourself addicted 🙂

So I Made A Zine

The idea came to me this past Saturday evening to put together a mini zine containing short quotes about anxiety. I woke up Sunday morning & started working on it.

I made the decision to make several copies by hand & I’ll photocopy the best one to make several more copies. Towards the end of the day I was wondering what I’d gotten myself into, bored as I was with the repetitiveness of writing out the same thing eight times. If I make a second issue I won’t create it this way; instead I’ll make one version & make mutiliple copies of it.

But for the sake of the exercise, of wanting to create a zine & have more than one copy of it, making eight individual copies by hand was the way to go.

Initially I thought I would make it full of drawings to go alongside the words but as I began I didn’t feel like that would suit this project. Instead as you can see from the photos, I’ve kept this zine word heavy with only a sprinkle of hearts & weird scribbled flower that I love to draw as a doodle.

Why quotes about anxiety? Well, the subject felt right to me. You know I’m living with it. Loved ones have it. And I want to talk about anxiety as much as possible to help reduce the stigma of anxiety. I hope this little zine will contribute to this, in its’ own small way.

If you’d like to buy a copy, I am selling it for $5 plus postage. Send me an email expressing your interest & we can go from there.