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.

Gratitude For 2019

I’m a big lover of podcasts. I have 25 subscribed podcasts in my feed, most of which update weekly & I pretty much listen to them all each week. Last week I listened to two podcasts, back to back, that made me pause and think about my 2019. The first, Photography Radio, was a discussion from the host about why he picks his favourite 10 photos at the end of each year. He finds the task a good way to see where his photography is taking him and to note changes to his style that he may not have seen whilst actually taking photos.

In the second podcast, called The First Time podcast – the two hosts reflected on their 2019. Their career successes as authors but also books & podcasts they loved reading & listening to in 2019.

Inspired by these podcasts I decided to reflect on my own 2019. I feel like I tend to remember negative things that have happened more frequently than positive things so I thought it would be a great idea to take the time to think about good things from 2019. I’m also attempting to pick my favourite photos from the year, although that’s proving to be difficult. I’d have finished this post on Friday (it’s now Sunday) save for the fact that I’m having trouble picking favourite photos! I’m surprised at how many of the photos I really like. I’m also really happy to see how my photography has improved throughout the year. I can see where I’ve gone wrong, but most importantly I can see my growth.

Sometime during 2019 I became aware that what I want from my photography is to capture moments of everyday beauty. I was already doing this every week, when I was taking photos of my friends at my local Pole Fitness studio or during the times when I’d grab my phone to take some backyard sunset photos. However I wanted more. I felt if I took the time to look, I’d see there were moments of beauty all around.

Instead of writing a paragraph with each photo I’ve written a few words below them. I’d love to know what you think of them but more importantly, do you reflect on your year when it ends? Why or why not?

This is my favourite dog photo taken in 2019. I feel I have captured Zena’s personality perfectly
This photo of Paige was, I think, the first time I felt my quest to photograph my pole friends was starting to come together. It captures the beauty that I see in every class I attend
I spied this dog on Degraves Street in Melbourne, patiently waiting & watching as his owner ate lunch
I took this photo in Melbourne, it evokes the mood of the weather that day

I got to thinking about my highlights from 2019. Moving into our house at years end was the biggest thing to happen all year. It’s been a long process to get to this point & I’m grateful we finally made it.

Reinvigorating this blog is another highlight. I enjoy writing however I’ve long had trouble giving myself permission to write. Part of the work I did with my mentor Naomi Bulger during the year (another highlight for the year) was to work out what I wanted to do with my creativity. I came to the conclusion that writing weekly here was something I wanted to do. It’s great writing practice & I’m surprised how often I think of something that I’d like to share here. I’ve mostly kept to my weekly posting schedule & I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s especially great when someone leaves lovely comments on a post, it makes my day 🙂

I continued interviewing people for the Art Supply Posse podcast. I spoke to a wide range of artists throughout the year, learning a lot about what they do & bringing their story to our listeners. I’ve made friends with a couple of those people & it’s been great getting to know them better & watching their artistic progress.

2019 was also a year of short breaks – weekend trips to Melbourne & to Adelaide, with friends or on my own. I enjoyed the opportunity to move out of my daily routine & do something a little different. These moments were brief but impacted me positively, inspiring bouts of creativity & propelling me further into the year.

I took this with my iPhone, on a weekend trip to Melbourne with Paige. The light was stunning as we walked along St Kilda Pier. I couldn’t resist taking photos

I hope 2020 continues to bring creative inspiration, both for me & also for you.

Another pole fit photo taken during 2019

Accepting My Multi-creativity

This spot is pretty much my favourite local location to take photos, especially at sunset.

For the majority of my adult life I’ve struggled with the reality of my creative output. All around me are stories of people who specialise in something. From photographers that make their name from a genre they excel in, to water colourists whose exquisite work is world renown to writers whose books bring accolades from readers & critics alike, all I could see were people who found a particular type of art that compelled them to focus on it exclusively.

I am not that sort of person but boy have I tried to become one. As a child I fell in love with writing. I wanted to be an author & would write constantly. Not to long after that I discovered photography & felt compelled to photograph everything the caught my eye. For a while I thought perhaps I could be a photographic journalist, writing about important world changing things whilst also photographing them (given the awful trajectory journalism has taken I’m glad I didn’t pursue that avenue). I enjoyed drawing so in high school I took art elective classes with the thought they might help me find an artistic style I could be exclusively drawn to.

As I entered adulthood I became aware that to become ‘successful’ as an artist (a topic that I should bookmark for a future post) I needed to focus on one thing. No matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t. Taking photos only was enjoyable but didn’t sustain me. By this time shame about my desire to be a writer had taken hold in my mind so I had abandoned the idea to be an author (again something else I should return to in a future post). For a number of years I almost exclusively hand made teddy bears, with the vague idea of becoming a bear artist. Eventually I gave that up, which was around the time that I pretty much gave up on creativity. If I couldn’t narrow my focus to one thing then giving up on the creative life seemed the right way to live.

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Fast forward a few years when a couple of traumatic events in my life found me returning to photography. I don’t remember my initial outlay but it was the most id ever spent on photography (until last week when I ordered a new camera!), buying a Fujifilm X-Pro1 & 18mm lens. As soon as I held the camera I knew outlaying the money was the best decision I’d made in a long time. I began photographing things that caught my eye, but this time with the purpose of growing my skills. I read & watched & listened to anything I felt would help me get better as a photographer.

I may have ordered a new X-Pro3 but my X-Pro1 will always have a place in my heart. It rekindled my love affair with photography so will become my spare camera body.

Yet this wasn’t enough to sustain me creativity. I needed other outlets. I began writing, first stream of conscious journalling then tentatively playing with the idea of writing children’s stories. 2019 saw me step that desire up a notch or two, engaging a mentor, having a private session with a well known children’s author & beginning to submit to publishers. As yet I’m still working on that goal, I hope one day I’ll be able to call myself a children’s author.

I also began drawing again, inspired by the artists I was interviewing for the Art Supply Posse podcast. I’ve enrolled in & completed a couple of online art courses to get better at drawing.

Yet despite all this, I felt like I should be narrowing my focus to one thing. I still thought that it would be the best thing for me to do. Yet deep down I knew I couldn’t do it, I’d never be happy focussing on one thing. Eventually I started to think that it’s ok to spread my creativity over a number of areas. I came across people who are successful in more than one field, such as Austin Kleon. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you who he is, but when I read his byline ‘a writer who draws’ I finally accepted that being a multi-creative is ok. That for some of us being multi-creative is the best expression of ourselves. Conforming to one creative outlet doesn’t work for us. And that’s ok.

Now that I’ve accepted my reality I feel a lot more comfortable working on my art. Sure, there are days when I hate everything I create -show me an artist who doesn’t feel that & I’ll call out their lies- but knowing that what I’m creating makes me happy is the most important thing to me. Theres no point making something if it doesn’t bring you some level of joy.

How do you feel about being a multi-creative? Does it align with your creative life or are you focussed on one type of art? Comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

Unexpected Truths From Podcasting

For approximately 18 months I have been interviewing people for the podcast Art Supply Posse. I’ve chatted with a variety of artists as well as retailers of art supplies. Everyone from Kevin Murphy – whose art has been commissioned by such luminaries as The Rolling Stones, Game of Thrones & now runs his own art school, Gosia Orlinksa who is an artist & an art therapist to ceramicist Julia Skott who challenged me to label myself as an artist.

I love bringing these chats to our listeners. I try to guide our conversation in a gentle way so that it sounds like a chat between two friends as opposed to a question & answer type interview. I don’t know about you but I prefer to listen to a podcast where it sounds like I’m listening to a couple of friends have a conversation. It makes me feel like I’m in the room with them.

That might sound like it’s difficult to achieve but I’ve found that once people start talking about the thing they love, such as painting with watercolours or pouring alcohol based inks onto canvas, the conversation flows naturally. People slip into that world, their world of art & creativity & their conversation carries you into that world too.

Talking to so many artists who are often at different stages of their career to each other has made me realise a few things about myself & my long held views of my creative abilities. And I suspect these realisations have occurred to some of our listeners too.

By far the majority of artists have had family support to pursue their creative endeavours. Some have or had artistic parents & most have or had parents who encouraged the creativity when they weren’t creative themselves. Yet even artists with family supported have occasionally had doubts about their work. This goes against my expectations; surely only those who suffer from doubting their art are people like me who were actively discouraged from making art?

Turns out that’s not the case. Self doubt seems to affect a lot more artists than I expected. The more I hear this expressed by artists, the more I realise that its almost common among creative people. I’m always grateful when someone I follow on Instagram posts something about how they’re in a creative rut that they’re having trouble getting out of. Not because they are in that place but because they are sharing it. The more creative people can see that self doubt is common, the better. It will make it easier for us all if we know that self doubt is common & can be worked through, if thats what is wanted.

Everyone I have spoken to has encouraged our listeners to continue following their artistic pursuits or to take up something that they’ve always wanted to try but haven’t had the courage to do so. The more I hear this the more encouraged I am to continue with my creative loves. I can now say I am a writer & a photographer. It turns out, despite my fears otherwise, admitting these things won’t kill me! It doesn’t even hurt me!

Give it a try yourself, if you’d like to call yourself an artist, a writer, a filmmaker or photographer or whatever it is you know deep down you are. It won’t hurt, I promise! Start saying it out loud to yourself, then try it on your pets. Pretty soon you’ll find it easy to slip into conversation. It doesn’t matter if you don’t make a living from your creativity & it doesn’t matter if you don’t ever want to pursue it financially. Claim the thing you are. You claiming it & proclaiming it will make it easier for someone else to claim their thing. That I can also promise.

I’m Actually Using My Sketchbooks!

Further to last weeks post, where I mused on my breakfast art habit it occurred to me that I am also completing sketchbooks. As in using every single page to create something on. I cannot remember the last time this happened. It may be entirely possible that this has never happened. Yep, in 42 years it’s quite possible that sketchbooks have entered my life only to find themselves languishing in a cupboard or worse, thrown away in a mad moment of getting rid of things if I haven’t used them. So far I’ve completed two sketchbooks, both of which are in the photo below & am half way through finishing the larger one at the back.

I use a Midori Travellers Notebook as my daily diary/to-do list/reminder of things. The inserts in these get used, every single page filled with writing, notes, drawings & art. However when it comes to sketchbooks, well they are an entirely different beast. I have always thought deep down in the back of my psyche somewhere that because I am not an ‘artist’ I don’t really deserve the lovely new sketchbook I bought myself. Or even the lesser quality but still acceptable sketchbook that I’ve owned for years.

Only ‘artists’ should be using those. Lately l have come to realise that this is utter bullshit. Sure I am not an artist in the traditional sense of a person standing in front of a canvas, painting someones portrait in oils, but I still like to make art. I may be the only one who likes my art, but that’s totally ok with me. I’m not making it for anyone but myself. If I hang some of it on my walls and you don’t like it, you’re welcome to tell me. I will respect you more for your honesty. But you don’t have to like it. I’m making it to have fun. To express myself through pens & inks & markers & paint. That’s all.

Although as often seems to be the case in life, that isn’t quite all. Because I’ve realised that the fun I’m having making these small pieces of art is carrying itself over into my photography & to a lesser extent my writing. I am doing both of these things more often & each time I’m trying to get better at them. But I’m caring less & less about if they will be ‘liked’. Thats not to say I don’t want people to like my photos. Thats not to say that I don’t dream of seeing my writing published. But I finally recognise that what I write & what I take photos of does not suit everyone. And thats ok. Hopefully it will resonate with someone. Maybe I will publish my children’s stories (which is a big dream I have), but I also know that my life won’t end if I don’t. I’ll keep doing these things & be happy. I’ll be happier if in some one my work resonates with someone or reaches are larger audience than simply myself. But I’ll still be happy regardless of the reach of my work.

Next time you hear me complain that what I make is terrible & liked by no one, please point me in the direction of this post. I suspect future me might from time to time forget these words & will need a gentle reminder 😉

Accepting Imperfection

When I first began making what I refer to as my Japanese inspired wave art I was cautious, worried about making mistakes. The first three or four I made began with me drawing the design first using a lead pencil. Once completed I then went over it with a black brush pen. Aside from being a time consuming way to make them, I also wasn’t happy because if I wasn’t careful when erasing the pencil marks I would erase some of the pen marks. So it was out of necessity that I began making them using the brush pen only.

At first this was terrifying. What if I made a mistake? What if I destroyed the beauty I was trying to make? I painstakingly created the marks, looking at the reference images copiously, slowly getting something down that I thought looked ok. What I realised however was it doesn’t matter how careful I was being, I was not going to be able to make my art look like the reference images. They were made by Japanese master craftsman who had probably spent their entire lives practising this art. I on the other hand only began making them & I have no intention of devoting my entire life to this one practice only. So I had to accept that my interpretation was never going to be perfect. Surprisingly for me I found this realisation freeing. I immediately accepted the facts and moved on to creating art for arts sake.

I wish I could let go of perfection in other areas of my life as easily as I have with the wave art. I am so incredibly hard on myself, particularly when I am doing something that is important to me. I have an unhealthy ability to loop over & over in my mind a barrage of words that sum up how useless I am if I am struggling to do something. It’s taken me years to recognise this. I used to have the thoughts & not really be aware of them. Now I hear them & actively try to stop them. My success rate is probably about 50%, but hey at least I can stop them sometimes. Some improvement is better than no improvement, right?

If you’re at all interested, the background of this art is made using fountain pen ink. Why? Because I love the serendipity of the outcome. And the range of colours are vast. And it’s a great excuse to buy my ink for my fountain pens! The first one shown is made with Monteverde California Teal ink, the second uses Nick Stewart Ink in Randall Blue Black. The gold waves are created using a Uni Paint Marker inExtra Fine. Lighter background colours look better with black aves, for that I use a Uni Posca Marker PC.1M. The reference images I use are from three PDF books that I downloaded from the Open Culture website.

Art For Breakfast

For the past couple of months I have been making art every morning as I eat breakfast. I began simply because breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. When I’m travelling I always take the time to relax & eat a yummy breakfast whilst either sketching, people watching or both. I decided to implement this practice at home so I could always take the time to enjoy my first meal of the day. And to linger over a cup of coffee too 🙂

I’ve deliberately left the door wide open in terms of what art I will make. Often I’ll wake up with no idea what to create but whilst I’m walking the dogs (which is done pre-breakfast) an idea usually will form. If it doesn’t then I’m not above creating random colourful shapes on the page.

Initially I was making art that meant nothing to me; I realise now however that it has come to mean a lot. It’s helping ease my anxiety around being a creative person. I’m more accepting that that is the sort of person I am. We can’t all be mathematicians or neurosurgeons or other high functioning sorts. It’s ok that I’m creative.

Someone please remind me of this statement when I’m an anxious mess because I’m offering nothing to the world because all I can do is create 😉

When There Is No Time

I’m trying to grapple with the fact that sometimes life gets in the way. There isn’t time right now for me to do the creative things I want to. So I’m left with making do, either by looking at photos taken in the past, trying to learn what worked in an image & what didn’t. There is also a stack of photos that need editing, which I’m working my way through. And there are photos I can think about making, that perhaps might require a trip somewhere or might benefit from a certain type of light. Then there are the moments when I grab my phone & take a photo of the setting sun. Yes I know the image resolution isn’t as good as it could be. But I think the actual act of making (taking) an image is better than not doing it at all. And it inspires me to keep on going.

Noticing The Details

As every photographer who is trying to photograph something that qualifies as tourist related knows, it can be difficult to photograph a thing in a way that isn’t commonly seen. I suspect in many cases when taking photos for a client they don’t necessarily want something overtly different, particularly if the image is in some ways abstract in the context of the larger thing. Luckily for me my client, whose family own three paddle vessels, doesn’t mind me attempting to capture the unnoticed details of their vessels.

I was drawn to this rope, wound as it is, awaiting possible use. I felt compelled to capture it. I still quite can’t voice why it is that I like it.

It could be because it’s not something I imagine when I think about paddle vessels. It could be that I know the rope and metal were at one point in a natural state unrelated to the finished product I see.

Perhaps I don’t need an explanation as to why I like it. It simply exists as something that I appreciate. And might actually print and hang on my wall.