Sunday, March 29, 2009

Carter - carbon pencil portrait

WIP Joy - Carbon Pencil on Arches HP A4

Yesterday afternoon my children were happy and best friends (makes it an easier day than when they are not best friends) so I pulled out my camera and got heaps of beautiful photos including heaps of them both together.

Carter was enjoying the posing and one photo caught this expression which I had to draw. So last night when watching Quantum Solace (pretty damn average) I started on this one. I still have some refinement to go and there are some areas that are not quite right yet but I will let it simmer for a few days and then make the final adjustments. Carter and I had some quality Mummy/Son time this morning when we went to The Wiggles concert and it was fabulous. I don't think Carter quite believed it when he saw the Wiggles come out onto the stage and we had great seats, on the floor, 11 rows from the front so he was completely blown away.

On other news, on Friday, Sophia Elise, Julia Dungan and I spent time painting, preparing and sending out the packs for this year's NZ Art Guild Collaborative project. I'm really excited about what the end version will look like and just need to figure out what I will paint on my piece. This year the entire profit from the auction of the artwork will go towards the Mental Health Foundation and it feels really good to be involved with a great organisation that doesn't get any government funding. So stay tuned and I am sure I will be posting images once it is all put together (which is when my lovely practical husband comes into play) and is all unveiled!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The night closes in - another resin piece

The night closes in - mixed media and resin 4" x 4"

Life has been busy busy busy which is why my posting has become somewhat erratic. I have been doing a heap of work on my new business which I hope to launch in a few months time. As you may be aware, I am an Human Resources Consultant in my other life (apart from being Mummy, artist and accounts lady/landlord for our property businesses) and I am now moving more into the area of Career Coaching. I am currently developing my workshops and material and doing stacks of research and I have also got into the Enterprise Training Programme which means I can attend business workshops in areas such as Marketing, Pricing and Costing, Branding etc, and all for free! Yes, the New Zealand Government pays the training providers to provide this training for the owners of small and medium sizes businesses (if you meet the criteria and complete a business assessment) and it is fully funded from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

I went on the first course this Wednesday which was developing a marketing plan and it was excellent. I can also see how these skills can also transfer to my art if I decide to really start marketing it.

I am still completely into resin and the piece above is a small 4" x 4" which is a really nice size to play with. I resined 6 pieces on the weekend and I have a number more in progress so hopefully soon I will have enough to replace my art at Cafe Apollo with this series.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Production Factory

I am currently enjoying some blissful silence as everyone in this household is currently asleep except for me. I am dreading the day when Carter no longer needs his daytime sleep as that is my sanity break and art break during the day and I really enjoy it.

I know I have been silent on this blog for over a week but life has been very very busy. We got some good news re our business stresses and I am all signed up, accepted and booked in for some business courses through the NZ Trade and Enterprise Scheme for my own business and the direction I am heading in for that. So life is good, kids are happy, boisterous and messy and I am working on heaps of small mixed media resin pieces all at once and feeling like a production factory.

It does make sense to work this way as it is much more efficient as each of these pieces require multiple glazes and layers and layers of paint and ink before they are ready to resin which also means lots of drying time. However it is strange to move from different pieces all the time which is why I feel factory-like.

I am over-due to replace my art at Cafe Apollo and I wanted a consistent theme so I have decided to have a full range of these resin abstracted-landscape and seascape pieces and also have quite a few smaller pieces which will then be lower in price and more suitable for the cafe environment.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tranquility and the art of juggling

Thomas day at Glenbrook last Sunday - Carter's best day out ever
Another strange blog post title but pertinent to my current state of mind when I think about my life and how much it has changed since I had children. Two and a half years ago exactly today, I was finishing my very last day doing an HR contract at Bendon. I had loved that contract and enjoyed every second of it and while it was originally intended to be 5 weeks, it turned into 5 months with me finishing at 4pm on the 11 September 2006. Why do I remember that date, well because at 4am on the 12 September 2006 I woke up thinking, yep think this is it and later that day Carter arrived and rather angrily screamed his displeasure for his first fifteen minutes of life on the outside. Then when he was just over 4 months old, I found to my surprise that his sister had sneaked into being and I was 6 weeks pregnant.
So, as you can imagine, life changed substantially with one baby and then having another one 4 days before Carter turned one, meant it changed even more.
However that first year (which I had two years in a row) is now over and I am enjoying having two munchkins and it is quite freeing to think that I don't have to have any more unless I really do get a strong urge (which is nowhere in sight at this point of time) and this year I do feel like I have more control of my life, even though it is an absolute juggling act and I feel like I am several different Melissa's depending on what day it is and what I need to do that day.
This year the kids are in daycare 3 days a week, which are then my work days. At least half a day I do the boring horrid accounting related stuff for our construction and property businesses. I don't enjoy it but I do get a sense of achievement when it is up to date and knowing that all tax and gst is sorted and accounted for. The rest of the 3 days are a mixture of doing some small HR contracts (which bring in some money) and working on my business plan, materials, programmes etc for the business I want to launch later this year (which of course brings in no money at the moment).
Wednesday and Friday are my two kid days so Wednesday (today) is lots of playing with kids and painting and drawing while supervising them playing with each other. With studying art part-time, I have to log 15 hours per week so I need to juggle that within these two days and then evenings and weekend. Wednesday is also when I try and find some interesting resources and reference material for the NZ Art Guild as I am a moderator on the forum as well as providing hands-on support to Sophia Elise the manager of the guild here in Auckland, and on Friday I try and catch up with friends and have play dates with our kids.
So it is a juggle, and while some weeks go to plan, other weeks just don't and nothing gets done in their allocated space. The "mummy guilt's" are part and parcel of juggling and I got them the worst time ever when I didn't make the Christmas party at daycare last December because I had meetings that I couldn't shift. And it makes me feel sometimes like I don't know how to define who I am because there are so many facets of my life that don't necessarily come across as interconnecting, but they do because they have to and because it is me. So today, here I am in my "mummy clothes" which now have dried banana and snot (not mine) over them. I have blue paint on my forehead and in my hair from when I was dashing up to the studio to do some glazes earlier.
Tomorrow is work day again, and I will be completing the work on a small contract I am doing. I will drop the kids at daycare, come straight home into my office and focus all day without having to have one eye constantly surveying the location and activities of each child. If I need to meet someone, I can pull on a business suit and feel like I am professional Melissa again, far removed from the snot and paint camouflage I have on today.

And yes, better mention Tranquility, well, that is the title of this resin piece which is the fourth piece that got hung at the Mercure Winsdor Hotel on Monday. And I guess tranquility and fulfillment is what we are searching for isn't it. At the end of the day, business stresses and juggling aside, I really like my life. I don't want to work full-time as I enjoy my days with the kids and yet being a full-time Mum would drive me crazy. Working part-time and also being my own boss works for me and has enabled me to have the time to be creative and escape through my art. Now I can't imagine going a week without drawing or painting. But I don't want to work as an artist (although that may change in the far off future), as I am fulfilled by being good in my professional career, balanced by art and my beautiful children (who would be even more beautiful if they would stop talking in their room and go to sleep!).
So while life is a juggle, I like all the balls I have in the air, so it's all good!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The art of giving...and another resin piece

'Icy Morning' Mixed Media and Resin 600 x 475 x40mm

I have been pondering the concept of Giving this morning and how it is a fundamental requirement of human beings to give to other human beings if you want to be happy and live a good life. It feels good to give so why do we convince ourselves so much of the time that we need to hoard our gifts (whether these are access to money, services etc) for ourselves and our immediate family rather than recognising that we are all connected and for one to have more than one needs and another to have none, affects us all.

Personally, I have noticed how I have pulled back on giving in the past few months and I shouldn't have. Our business has been affected by the credit crunch with access to funding having been difficult which really sucks when you are half way through building two big houses, go to top up to get the money to complete them and get told that the bank no longer funds construction. While we are coming to the end of this hard period now and have a funding solution that we are in the final stages of, we have had to pull tighter and tighter to get through and our personal spending has pretty much been nil.

While we lived tight in the first few years of starting our property businesses, we had a few years when money was good and we didn't have to really think about it. Our assets were growing and if we saw something we wanted, we could get it (within reason of course). For me, it was buying books as I am quite addicted to books and can easily spend a week in Borders. So we used to be fairly free about giving to various charities as well and I think we must have ended up on a database of people known to give as we get rung up pretty often.

When things started getting tight, I stopped giving. A month or so ago, I saw a man selling pens for Save the Children fund. I have always bought these pens in the past but at $20 per pen I chose not to support that. And I felt like crap! At the end of the day, even though we are going through a temporary hard patch with our business, we are still exceptionally lucky. My husband and I have a very good marriage, our children are amazing incredible creatures and we have assets, even if we don't have a great inflow of cash right now. It is so easy to get hung up on what is wrong with your life that you forget how great it really is. Maybe I should have given that $20, I could have got through without it. I think I got so used to having money in the past, that now when I take out the weekly budget of cash for our personal requirements, I like the security of having it in my purse. But to give, would have bought better returns to me than the security I felt of having it there in case I needed it for our family.

I have been doing a lot of reading recently about the law of attraction etc and while I am still working out my own feelings about those philosophies, I do firmly believe that you get what you give. And if I still give, even when I feel like hoarding for personal security, who knows what good things will come my way. There is no reason why so many people in this world do not have access to clean water, adequate food to eat and shelter in a safe environment. If we who are so lucky to live in countries where we are free to succeed and have a good life, could consider that we are all connected and for a child to die of starvation in Africa hurts all of us, then we could make this world a better place.

I think we get hung up on the concept that there are limitations and that we personally will need to give up what we have in order for others to have enough. But that is not true. There is enough water, food, shelter, money etc for everyone in this world to live a good life. It is how it is managed or hoarded that means currently some have much more than they will ever need and others have none.

Some statistics to back this up, in 2004, the global spending on weapons was $900 billion. If the USA alone froze spending on military and weapons for 18 minutes only, there would be enough money to feed, house, clothe and educate all people who die of starvation for a whole year. And in four years up to 2003, the USA, UK and France earned more income from arms exports to Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America than they provided in aid.

I have hope that our world is moving to a higher level of consciousness. I have great hopes for Obama from a global perspective and if we all just gave just a little bit more, just how great could we make all our lives?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Life Drawing Workshop

Here are a few part-completed drawings from a life drawing workshop I attended yesterday. I was really looking forward to this and I came out feeling frustrated which I talked about on my art school blog if anyone that reads this is interested in hearing about that.

Didn't get a chance to do some more completed drawings but I was pleased at how far I have come in terms of being able to get the proportions pretty much right on the page.

This one was from an interesting exercise where we had to look at the whole body in terms of cylinders and only put the outside lines down once we had completed the figure.
The model was great though and did some excellent poses. I do need to do more life drawing as it is one of the best ways to improve drawing ability, I just wish I hadn't come out of this class feeling so frustrated.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Resin and RED and the search for not needing approval

How is that for a title of a blog post! And I have just realised that I have hit the 4000 views mark just now which is fairly exciting. Obviously a few people like to check in with what I am doing which is nice to know.

I have continued working on these abstracted landscapes with resin and I love them. I finished this one yesterday. Unfortunately it is so hard to take an accurate photo with resin and this particular one just glows in real life. I still haven't come up with a title yet, so still mulling on that, however size wise it is 600 x 450 x 40mm.

I have been thinking about why I am using these materials and why I am suddenly doing this more abstract work and why I am loving the process and the outcome. What I am coming it is that these are about a feeling I have of a sense of place, not the physical representation of it. And because it is a feeling and sense, I first close my eyes and imagine myself where it is and then identify my feelings about it and then translate that into bands of colour. I have so many ideas I want to express this way and I am finding it really exciting.

I also love the tactileness of these. Every time I walk past one on my wall, I stop and touch it, I feel the smoothness of the resin and see the suspended gold underneath. I am still trying to work out what exactly makes me want to touch it - perhaps it is the solidity of the resin and the knowledge I can touch the artwork without damaging it, I'm not sure.

Another interesting outcome from this series of work is that I don't give a damn about whether other people like it or not. In fact my husband who is normally my biggest supporter, doesn't get them and prefers my realistic work. But I am absolutely okay about that because I love them and I will keep on with these for a while yet. And other people who have seen them in real life have had quite different responses to my husband so that's okay too.

Why that is important for me, is that in the past I have been quite concerned with receiving the approval of others in order to feel validated in myself. About 6 years ago I was going through a Human Synergistics course prior to going through the training to become accredited to use and deliver these materials myself. During this, you do a survey on yourself and then get 5 other people to complete it on you too. You end up with 2 circumplexes and can compare the difference in how you see yourself and how others see you, as well as understanding whether your behaviours fall in the construction areas or not. These tools are fabulous and backed up with huge amount of research from Harvard and all the big names. Anyhow, my results showed that other people saw me as quite high in requiring approval whereas I didn't see that in myself. This really upset me and I got home, burst into tears in front of my husband saying that I was so upset about this result and how I didn't think it was true.

My very honest husband said "Look what you're saying, you are so upset about what other people think about you, perhaps there is something there". That was a bit of an ah-ha moment and I realised that I obviously was very concerned about how I was viewed by others and their approval of me that it upset me so much when I received feedback that I viewed as negative. And a very important step in the development cycle is to accept and recognise where you are at so that you can then move forward and develop more constructive behaviours.

So I do think I have moved on with this since then, especially in my professional career life, but with my art and perhaps because I am still relatively new at this, I still have required validation from other people liking what I do in order to determine if it is "good". But not with these, I love them and I don't need others approval and I will keep going with them.