31 August 2009

artist's block?

I thought that I would be creating new and exciting images right now. I had planned this month for quite some time. It isn't happening; I have artist's block.

In the process of struggling to be fresh and creative I continue to learn more about myself, and where and how I paint best. Mellow is a word that springs to mind!

For now, however, it is good news for two patient ladies in New Zealand. This week I will get back to the paintings for your grandchildren. You will have them in November!

Today I am grateful for resilience.

30 August 2009

a little sunburn

The Block pARTy Today I sat under a canopy outside The Gnu's Room, carefully keeping my back out of the sun. Conversation was interesting, animated, and all in English. I didn't notice the time fly, or the shade move.

Inside The Gnu's Room was dancing, a comedy act, and much laughter... some of this involved two blindfolded volunteers from the audience and twenty-four mouse traps. All of it embraced a sense of community.

A casually dressed jazz big band outside the Amsterdam restaurant gave an hour long informal performance. The light-hearted presentation by the university group was a delight. For the history of the Auburn Knights Orchestra click here.

video

Love the way she handles the disconnected microphone... she didn't miss a beat! (I also love the way free outdoor concerts just follow me around... ah life! Can't beat it, really).

Today I am grateful for community-minded people.

28 August 2009

meditation for peace

This came via email this morning, a movement to meditate for world peace. It offers to send daily meditations to your email address, and asks for 5 - 7 minutes meditation per day.

Worth waking five minutes earlier every morning? Five minutes less TV in the evening? Together we will make a difference.
To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.

--Confucius

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prints and cards

I have had some prints and cards made of my recent work. This project is still at the experimental stage for me. What seems perfect colouring on my computer screen and in the photo prints comes back too dark from the printers. I modify, and will send again.

I am very much a hands-on control freak with my work. Perhaps I should find a tame local printer who will allow me to stand over the whole process. I had the luxury or working with one in New Zealand. He understood my angst and allowed me into his work space.

OK, back into the dictionary, there's a whole new set of vocabulary to be studied!

In the meantime, please excuse the colouring should I happen to post you a card with a rather darker than normal copy of a painting... and any artists reading this, if you have a tame printer (preferably one who speaks English and understands art prints and demanding artists) anywhere in the northern hemisphere do let me know.

Today I am grateful for hand sanitiser.

flying days

Intermittent internet and a busy few days... where has the time gone? My promise to myself to study for two hours a day has become half an hour of revision. My drawing stopped at the drawing stage, not a splash of colour added.

Saturday I will look after a booth at the Block pARTy, which will be an interesting experience. I am looking forward to meeting other artists from another culture.

I don't feel like painting. Memories come and go, good and bad, and I am struggling to stay up right when I would expect to be feeling great. I need to go out into the fresh air, to get some exercise, to blow away old cobwebs.

Life is odd, sometimes.

Today I am grateful for contact with far-flung family.

24 August 2009

hope, trust , prayer... and encouragement


A blog I follow shows how a few dedicated friends have made the world of difference to a family in need. It is inspiring, and after a bleak initial prognosis it seems only a matter of time before, once again,
Chris Will Walk

***

I remember writing a speech for the school competitions when I was 13 years old. It was entitled "The Power of Positive Thinking". I don't remember the content now, but I still believe the message. Attitude, appropriate support, prayer and positive intention; they really do make a difference.

It wont always be easy, but we can make positive change. Imprinted in my memory from Sunday School classes in the Maru Maru Memorial Hall are the words "In this world is darkness, so we must shine... You in your small corner, and I in mine". Sometimes we forget to shine. Who was the wise person who said that the light of a candle is not dimmed when its flame is used to light another candle?
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hope

Yesterday I had news that something I had been wanting for myself for two years is finally going to occur. Oddly enough I am not elated, just hopeful; not celebrating, just waiting. I am no longer confident that everything I think is a good idea will come to pass in the way and time that I desire. I don't give up hope though, but have learned to question my own timing and wishes.

What have I learned, in that intervening two years?

I have learned that ideas change, and, with that, needs change. Values change. I have learned not to give up hope. Hope, and trust. I have learned to trust not that I will have everything I think I need, but that I will in time have everything that I do need. There is a big difference.

I have also distilled a lot of ideas in that two years. Many people have said to me how they envy me, living the dream life, painting in Italy. I always reply that it was never MY dream. My dream was quite different, and didn't come to fruition in the way that I had hoped. My sense of purpose, however, strengthens and flowers. In that sense, I am enjoying the pursuit of the dream.

My dream once was to be a professional artist - however one defines that. When I had achieved that - according to my own set of definitions - I found that painting to sell was a hollow space to be in. For me it was not enough. Having work in galleries, commissions, and being accepted as "an artist" rather than a teacher or any other definition, was no longer important to me.

Oddly enough, once I let go of that dream and began to focus on being a member of a community, a friend and a neighbour, all the other things followed.

I have at times, too often, neglected the important things in life to be busy. Busy painting, busy earning a living, busy doing. In being less busy, more focused on the people I love, I have found more creative space.

This coming month I am sharing another artist's studio. She has made room for me as we work on a shared project. The following month, I trust, I will have a new studio space to share with other artists.

What is my dream? I have probably shared it before. It is not my dream, it is THE dream. Written across my tee-shirt, a gift from Ann in New Zealand, are the words "Live the dream". A rainbow surrounds the words. As a friend read the words on my shirt in hesitant English with a strong Italian accent it hit me, two years ago, that I wasn't floating, lost without a new dream. I had become a tiny little part of THE dream, working in a bigger movement, dreaming of, and working for, world peace.

I believe that peace is not merely the absence of war. Peace begins at home.

I believe that a smile can make a difference, a hug can make a world of difference.

If you have made it to the end of this post then please do this: give a smile where it is needed, perform a random act of kindness. You will make a difference... and you too will have a better day.

Today I am grateful for
creative challenges.

22 August 2009

fewer posts

posting may be a bit erratic for a while...

Today I am grateful for interesting encounters.

19 August 2009

G's first evening in Italy

Travelling N Z artist meets rural Italy ... this is especially for you, Carol, you should be here too!
video

storms and internet

Connections have been irregular as we have had some rather dramatic afternoon storms.

Today I am grateful for returned internet.

16 August 2009

in time

Sometimes little things "tickle my fancy". I suspect that expression used so many years ago by my grandmother is open to all sorts of less innocent interpretation these days, but I am sticking to the simple meaning as I understood it 50 years ago. Yes, really, 50 years ago!

Age is a state of mind... (more on this in a minute). I sat down to check an arrival time in my emails and noticed that the village church clock was striking 12 noon. And the time on my computer? Exactly 12 noon. That has to be a first. (How easily I am distracted from the task in hand...! Yes I will meet that train).

video
This is the clock at work, hundreds of years on and still wound by hand every day (OK, most days then... other people get busy too!)

***

I have been reading more L J Adlington (novels for teenagers). I read the third novel, The Glittering Eye, first; that sent me back to the first one, The Diary of Pelly D. I couldn't put it down, and now I am dipping into the second one, Cherry Heaven. I liked this regarding age:
I didn't care if she was a thousand or ten thousand or a thousand thousand years old. stars are older than you can count, and they're still beautiful, aren't they?
Adlington, L.J. (2007)Cherry Heaven, p36. Hodder Children's Books, London.

So why am I reading novels for teenagers? Well, it's a little like studying a new language. In this ancient place full of layers of living it keeps me young... she said with what she hopes was a youthful, impish grin!

relax...

Yesterday was the day that almost noone works. The cash machines are empty of cash. The shops are closed. The roads are almost empty. Italy has gone to the beach.

I took the day off too. It wasn't easy, in the midst of stuff, to do nothing. But it was good. A lesson in how to relax by a pool, listen to music, and do absolutely nothing!

A wise counsellor once advised me to stop being a "human doing", and start being a "human being". Sometimes, because it is easier to do than to be, I make the wrong choice.

I'm a slow learner, but I'll get there!

***

I was thinking... when we meet someone we tend to ask them what they do, where they are from, and, consciously or unconsciously, we make judgements accordingly. I wonder how we would respond if we had to say "who" (more in the sense of "what makes me the person I am") we are?

***

Today I am grateful for friends who pop in unannounced.

14 August 2009

pace of life

I know, I should be blogging about painting occasionally. But I think I am in a rebuilding phase after overdoing it for a while. I am gathering, sorting, resting, finding inspiration... some might call it procrastinating. But the longer I leave it, the stronger the urge to paint becomes. You wouldn't want a half-hearted artist would you?

Pickle (Piccolina, really, but she is now heavier than Zacchi) has learnt that she can have anything she wants to eat as long as she waits until Zacchi has eaten first. Mostly they are the best of friends. They know that treats have to be shared, and that if they jump for them they both miss out. But Zacchi says that if there is anything interesting on the menu he will have first pick, thanks very much. That is the only time this independent female gives way to the frail but conniving Zacchi.

Pickle still can't be trusted inside alone. She likes to chew the corner of the couch, which is an absolute no-no. She is ok relaxing on the mat, but sneaks the odd chew on my garden shoe or the newspaper. Unfortunately Zacchi has taught her that toes and socks are good too...

I wandered down the garden today just in time to find ripe peaches. The peach tree is out of sight, and I nearly missed the small but juicy crop.

I am more than a little anxious about the state of the garden at the railway station. I haven't been able to pull weeds, and the thunderstorms seem to stimulate growth. Maybe Sunday evening will be a quiet time there so I can make a visible difference.

But now, in keeping with the summer song of the cicadas, it is time for lunch and a siesta.

Today I am grateful for positive thoughts.

13 August 2009

spiky thursday

I don't often get mad. But two days ago, when the articles that were supposed to be delivered more than three weeks ago still hadn't arrived, and a whole series of promises had been broken, and I had had to put even more money on my cell phone to chase them, I got a little bit Italian.

Two days later (on the latest promised delivery date) I got a text instead of a phonecall to give the newest excuse. And the next promise... 100% assurance that said items would be delivered before noon today.

I waited.

I went next door for a birthday lunch (yummmmm).

My cell phone rang. It was my friend from the agriturismo. The shop owner had called her and asked her to tell me that the said objects, when unloaded, were not the colour I had ordered. They have been re-ordered. They are now due next Monday. I burst out laughing. (Not so Italian after all).

There was absolutely no reason why he couldn't have called me to explain that to me. After all, my number is well and truly in his cell phone. He would have had to look up my friend's number in the phone book. Hey, I think there is at least one Italian man a tiny bit scared of me!

Today I am grateful for a useful vocabulary.

a feast of festas

Balconies, poetry and serenades... from traditionally romantic on Monday... video
to just plain sensible on Wednesday! Outside the butchers' shop was a choice of spicy mutton stew, lamb chops, beef steak or sausages, cooked by a cheerful team for hundreds of people. The red wine was served straight out of a stainless steel vat.When you want a party you simply close off the road, spill out onto the streets... and use the other end of the street for parking. It happens quite naturally, and often! (Photo shows the gelataria and bar - which spills onto the street every night - not the BBQ. It didn't feel right to take a photograph of that part of the street).I lasted until the band began to play. The BBQ may have suited the old folks, but the music was definitely for the younger generation!

Today I am grateful for new friends and my adopted family.

11 August 2009

my magic camera

I was really disappointed in the way my camera picked up the background and repairs through the layers of paint in the room where I did the old-new-old fresco work. I couldn't show the effect of the finished images. Today, however, I am most excited about this magic camera (it's really nothing special, just a little automatic to cart around with me).

I was photographing a very ancient work with the intention of finding a little more about it. It is filthy, covered in dust, hard to see.

The magic camera went through the dust and the happy owners could see more detail on my tiny screen than they could close up to the work.

Strange.

Today I am grateful that my camera survived when I dropped it from the scaffolding onto the concrete.

10 August 2009

for want of a phonecall...

I have been boxing along without my credit card. This is normally not a problem, as to spend money you must earn it. However, the budget does extend to occasional visits to family.

I booked a ticket online, but was a bit worried about not having insurance. I thought I would stick with at least a language I know well (fine print being fine print in any language), and contacted my New Zealand bank to inquire about their insurance policy. They referred me to the Visa section.

The ever-so-helpful young man at the end of the phone assured me that all was possible, and should I care to upgrade my visa then the next time I booked a ticket using the credit card my insurance was automatic. Too good to be true, I thought, but having had that in place on a previous card I hoped it would work again.

He talked me through the process, set up a new card, and cancelled my old one. I needed a business address to send the new card to, as private addresses were not accepted. I found my bank address and contact details, but didn't have the name of the manager. Phone back, he said, and I will leave everything set up and ready to go.

Luckily, or unluckily, because of the missing name, I called back the following day. This operator called up my file. Yes, everything was ready to go. Something made me double-check. No, she said, such insurance was only for flights out of, and returning into, New Zealand. Oh, I reply, not surprised but very disappointed. Then in that case, I don't want to upgrade to the more expensive card. Can I please just have my old one again?

Not possible. However, the kind lady said, she would give me a distant expiry date so I don't have to worry about having cards sent to me very often. She also said she would make a training note for the other helpful operator...

The card didn't arrive... or at least, the promised phonecall didn't come. I went to the bank, taking all necessary documentation. No, my card wasn't there. No-one had heard anything about it. They would call me.

Today, having had to inconvenience daughter number two to get my flight booked before prices went up any higher (usually it works the other way... mmmm... I quite like this new scheme!) I decided to go and jump up and down, burst into tears, or do whatever it took to locate my credit card which I was sure was in the bank all that time.

I explained what I wanted, handed over the old card and all my documentation just to show the teller what he was looking for, and gave him the name of the bank director it should have been sent to. At that moment the director walked into the building, saw me, went over to the open safe and retrieved my card.

Why wasn't he there when I needed him before?

Today I am grateful for security.

9 August 2009

saturday, a casa

Saturday was a quiet, leisurely yet productive day at home. The washing is done (even the hand washing!), the kitchen is clean, the house is tidy (for tidy, please read "tidy for Kay"!) It's time to get my work life organised! I was enjoying a kind of lethargy, nursing my (much improved) wrist, planning ahead, but not actually getting on with the work under my nose. But deadlines are looming...

To work, she said, with a convincing strength in her voice. The cantina is cool, there is no excuse!

Sunday afternoon... what better thing to do than sort out all my art supplies, make notes of what I need, and be ready for a new start.

I love the clean white page.

Today I am grateful for beginnings.

7 August 2009

drawing lines in the sand

Today I didn't paint. I did work on my art, but not with a brush.

It was a birthday (not mine), an odd day. It felt like the weekend, so I forgot to do things that needed to be done during the week.

Last night's dinner with neighbours reinforced how lucky I am to live in this lovely place. There are ups and downs, but the ups are special.

It was full moon last night, my moon. I am a Leo. I wonder, how much does the moon affect our energy? If it can pull a tide, what can it do to a mere mortal? Or is it the merciless sun, the hot temperatures, that saps me now? Today I noticed that my little olives are showing the lack of water. Another summer, and I still haven't got my irrigation system up and running.

Have I taken on too much, or am I simply too good at procrastinating?

Pickle is barking outside and Zacchi wants to go out to join her. There is a beer festival down in the valley. No, little dogs, you must stay home tonight.

I see that the haka has been appropriated yet again... but this time performed by Maori. Does that say something? The haka is fascinating to Europeans, desirable, and money talks. I hope that someone takes a stand again, pulls the advertisement. Where is the line in the sand? Is money the wave, the tide, that takes it away?

Give me the moon, serene in the sky, rather than money, any day.

Today I am grateful for cool moonlit nights...

call me a dreamer but...

From my little corner of the world I observe a lot of relationships, and am often in conversation about what makes a good relationship.

Yesterday a conversation turned to jealousy in relationships. A friend said that if one loves another then there must be jealousy, that other friendships must change should a couple get together. I disagree.

I (from my soft fluffy cloud of dreams) believe that perfect love has no fear, and that jealousy is the result of insecurity and fear.

I am out of step again.

Big sigh.

Ah well, back to the drawing board...

Today I am grateful for frank discussions.

6 August 2009

today

slept in a little.

woke up feeling 20 years younger than I did on my birthday.

forgot to eat breakfast.

swam through an earthquake.

planned a new series of work.

had lunch in three languages.

had dinner at my favourite restaurant.

Life is good.

Today I am grateful for a sense of calm as earthquakes continue to shake my part of Italy.

5 August 2009

safe landings

I enjoy travelling with Italians. When we are safely landed they always show their appreciation by applauding the pilot.

I like the idea of thanking the person who, unseen, brings us safely home.

Today I am grateful for safe landings.

4 August 2009

changed lives

A blog I follow talks about how an instant can change a life. Sometimes we ponder the choices we make, the path not taken. Actions, reactions, acts and consequences.

At dinner a friend said that "There are no coincidences".

Today really is the first day of the rest of our lives, every day.

I wonder, what will tomorrow bring?

Breakfast, farewells to family, two airports, a train.

Meetings with old friends, and new.

Today I am grateful for the excitement of the unknown.

3 August 2009

little things, big pleasures

walking barefoot
sleeping in
television in English
bookshops
warm dressing gowns
spicey soup
hot baths
wedding photos
real butter
tropical fish

Today I am grateful for raspberries

1 August 2009

today

Today is one of those days when you look back and reflect a little on your life so far. I think the important words are "so far". You look back not to try to change anything, but to enjoy, to learn from, to move on.

Good news sometimes makes me cry. Today's entry on the chriswillwalk blog tells of his progress, his movement to rehab, all positive news. I am unashamedly crying for people I have never met.

Through a facebook photo tag I saw a young woman happily exploring at her first painting class. She looks so happy, so pleased with her day, that I am sure she will paint for the rest of her life. It reminded me of a comment someone made to me 31 years ago. I was at a class with Heinz Boenke and an elderly lady said to me "I envy you dear, you have the rest of your life to paint. I left starting too late". Other duties and parts of my life took over, and I didn't paint much for the next 20 years. I don't think it is possible to make up for lost time, so instead I draw on the life experiences in that non-painting time and use it for subject matter in my work.

I am very tired. Not because I am a year older, but because I have not got things in balance in my life. Sleep and relaxation are not high enough on my priority list. My eyes are tired from weeks of intense concentration, colour matching, and dust, and possibly from too much computer. My body is tired from too much standing in the heat, and pulling myself up and down ladders without taking time to stretch my muscles or go for walks. How can I be of any use to anyone if I am not in good form myself? Today I begin to exercise again, and take care of myself a little better.

Today I am grateful for the angels, seen and unseen, who come into my life.