Red shoes…otherwise known as it is time to move on.

What sort of a title is that?  I am sorry – really I am but stuff is spinning round in my head and when that happens I do what I always do – I write it down.  And this is my last blog post on this page so maybe I’ve got more to write about…or perhaps more accurately – more to think about exactly what to write.

I am back at home from the Australian Print Triennial and that was an amazing freaking experience.  So many artists, so much talking, excitement and enthusiasm.  So, so, so many new ideas and possibilities.  If you are a relatively new printmaker like me, and particularly if you come from a regional area, start saving your pennies for the Australian Print Triennial in 2018 – it will change your world.

On top of all that energy that we created as a group the whole Triennial experience was interesting to me on a personal development level.  And by that I mean personal rather than professional.  I am a chatty person, I can chat to the cows come home.  I can usually find something in common with the person I am talking to and fill in the conversation gaps as needed.  Go me!  But…I panic in group situations and the flip side of being chatty?  Talking incessantly out of nervousness and perhaps tending to EXAGERATE just a teeny bit.

So if my Stepping Up grant had been less sensible and less thought through (thanks so much for being sensible the lovely Country Arts WA team!) and I had attended the Australian Print Triennial at the start of the my year of professional development I would have come away with a completely different outcome.  I would have rabbited on about how fabulous it was but it would have been observation based rather than experienced based.  While I was there I would have babbled to anyone who would have talked to me and I would have been more terrified about how I was being perceived rather than just absorbing and enjoying the experience.

Example?  Well it became pretty apparent pretty quickly that a lot of these guys know each other, know each other’s history and know art history with pretty much everyone having some sort of art qualification.  As I pretty much knew nobody most of the conversations started with…who are you, where are you from, where did you study?  I seriously didn’t realise how much the study part of things would matter – I really thought that there would be a few more people like me without an art qualification.

A year ago that would have thrown me into such a spin – I would have felt so inferior that I would have either stopped introducing myself to people and five years ago I would have been tempted to call in sick and miss the whole conference.  But after 12 months of sucking it up, making myself get out there and forcing myself to push through barriers that really were only in my mind, I am seeing things much more clearly.  There are options for me – I have choices.  I can’t study art where I am but if we move one day I might study art…or I might not.  But I am not going to let that stop me doing what I want – I won’t let that fear of what people think take over again and push me in directions that I don’t want to go.  This may have been the year of professional development but the biggest thing I had to overcome was lack of confidence.  I thought it was my lack of confidence in my artwork and that I would learn skills to make better art.  But it turns out it was a lack of confidence in me – I have spent the last 12 months making a better me.

So the red shoes?  Gosh – I am obsessed with red shoes and boy were there some good ones at the Print Triennial!  But back to me and my obsession – I like red shoes – bright red shoes (none of this maroon or burgundy business for me thank you very much).  And I like comfortable shoes.  I found the perfect pair of red ballet flats at Target a few years ago and wore them to death.  I even found the exact same pair in Adelaide awhile later (woohoo!) and wore them to death too.  Then I tried to find more red shoes.  I scoured the Target online site – no luck.  I looked in Kmart every time I went there (Kmart is our only source of shoes in Hedland).  I looked online.  Every trip I looked and I couldn’t find the same style of shoes in the right colour.  So I bought the cheap Kmart shoes and tried to wear them in – they hurt my feet and made squeaky noises when I walked.  I bought peep toe ones from Target but they were the wrong material and gave me blisters.

So I hit Mildura and THERE ARE SHOE SHOPS.  Whole shops…where they only sell shoes.  Well – bags as well as shoes but mostly shoes.  And there are red shoes – oh yes there are – but they are sandals because ballet flats are a winter shoe and red ballet shoes are not to be had.  Now the thing is I don’t like sandals that much – they remind me of high school.  They make my ankles look weird.  They aren’t as comfortable as ballet flats are to me.  After all – pretty much my whole wardrobe now is designed around matching my red ballet flats.  They are what I am used to and I don’t want to change.

In between trying on shoes at shoe shops I go to the Triennial and I watch feet.  When I am walking around the street I watch feet.  I notice that people my size and shape seem to wear sandals and they look good.  Unlike my hot sweaty feet in my worn out old Kmart ballet flats these people have cool looking feet – their feet look relaxed and they look good.  While I am sitting by myself on a break it occurred to me that if I could buy clothes that suited my red ballet flats then maybe I could start buying clothes that suited sandals.  Maybe, just maybe, it was time to change?  I had lived and loved my red ballet shoes and I wanted to have that same experience again and again but the world had moved on.  Giving away my dream of the perfect red ballet shoes was hard but…I did it…I moved on.

So for me life is less like a box of chocolates and more like a never ending quest for what I think is right for me…for what I am sure I want.  But what I have learnt over the last twelve months is to stop presuming what I want…what I know…what I have always done – is what fits and is what has to happen.  My grant has given me confidence to be me but also to change me.  It wasn’t what I was expecting but I am so very glad it did. Thank you for sharing the journey with me.

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The Regional Arts Fund is an Australian Government initiative supporting the arts in regional and remote Australia, administered in Western Australia by Country Arts WA. Stepping Up is auspiced by HARTZ (Hedland Arts Council) Inc.

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PS – if you want to check out my new blog it will be attached to my new website hope to see you there.

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Triennial time…

I am here, in Mildura, once again.  This time the stress is at the other end of the scale though – this time I am here as a participant at the Australian Print Triennial and this time I am pretty damned relaxed.

I love Mildura – but I love it more now after being here three times this year.  Each trip has had a different purpose but each trip has weirdly convinced me more that while this is the place of my memories – it is no longer my home.  Not that I couldn’t live here because I think it would be a great spot to live.  But rather by coming back so much and after so much time I have finally managed to lay the ghosts to rest and if I did live here it would be as the person I am now.

So what does the person I am now do in Mildura?  Go to The Art Vault obviously.  I did my residency there, had my first exhibition there but apart from that – the people there have created something so special.  People from all walks of life flock there to be part of what they have created, artists go back time and time again.  To have a printing conference organised by them is just such a special treat and I feel so lucky that I can be part of it.

Moving on then – then we have the Triennial itself.  I will report more next week but printmakers…all over the place…chatting, laughing, discussing.  Oh the joy!!

Then there is the weather…and the food…and the shopping!!  Now I live in a really, really hot place so Mildura at this time of the year feels so lovely – the heat without the burn.  People lounge around outside, stroll about everywhere and it is really lovely to see.  Strolling about I may have consumed quite a bit of food and spent quite a bit of money on shopping but hey…it is all part and parcel.

So my poor husband, who has been so supportive this year and has been left with the children and the house quite a bit, says that I am on a junket.  I try to deny it but the grin on my face gives me away.  My grant for a year of professional development has been full on – one I wasn’t even sure I would get through a couple of times.  But I did – I made it.  And I seriously can’t think of a better way to finish off the year than here, hanging out with other artsy people while internally celebrating my journey this year and how much joy it has given me.  I am extremely grateful.

The Regional Arts Fund is an Australian Government initiative supporting the arts in regional and remote Australia, administered in Western Australia by Country Arts WA. Stepping Up is auspiced by HARTZ (Hedland Arts Council) Inc.

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Catching up!!

I finally am – I am finally catching up!!  Guess what?  I did my tax – and I got all the costings for my grant sorted and recorded ready for my acquittal.  I finished off two commission works, got my workshop organised and reduced my to-do list down to about five items.  Now I am a little exhausted and ready for a good lie down after this full on week but the amount of pressure that is off me after getting those jobs (big and small) done is amazing.

I keep thinking about pressure and how it makes me feel.  It doesn’t matter that I know it is in my own head – it doesn’t matter that I know a certain about of pressure is what actually makes me get up and get going.  I just hate it – I hate the feeling of expectation and that I am going to disappoint myself and everyone else.

This year I have ended up doing some big artworks that all seem to have emotions at their base…remembering and letting go, stocktaking the past to look to the future, and fear.  I keep thinking about pressure and how I would represent this in a linoprint.  The best I can come up with is a bunch of balloons.  That doesn’t really make sense to me at all – how can balloons represent pressure?  But that sound that they make when they are squeezed?  And the point of no return…the POP.  Yep – that is how I feel.

Perhaps if I made my linoprint balloons real enough I could just float away on them instead of dealing with the pressure?  Or…perhaps like my other artworks this year the thinking, drawing, making and creating will give me a space to think through why I react to things the way I do and whether I can change that.  Here’s hoping!!

The Regional Arts Fund is an Australian Government initiative supporting the arts in regional and remote Australia, administered in Western Australia by Country Arts WA. Stepping Up is auspiced by HARTZ (Hedland Arts Council) Inc.

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Christmas is a coming…

Christmas sure is coming, and because as part of my Stepping Up grant I am doing a workshop for our local arts council HARTZ, we are creating prints and printing Christmas cards.  We will also be holding a question and answer session on Stepping Up – what I have done for the year, how other people go about it etc.

This is one of my last official duties for Stepping Up – well that and attending the Australian Print Triennial (woohoo!!).  I’ve also got to get some photos taken to decorate my new website with but pretty much things are coming to an end.

I can’t say I was expecting this to be such a crazy, full on year but I would totally recommend the experience to anyone.  If you are in Hedland and you are at all interested in doing something similar come along the to Q&A session at HARTZ on Sat 24 Oct from 11-12noon or contact me directly.  If you are an artist you would be amazed what support is out there from groups such as Country Arts WA.

The Regional Arts Fund is an Australian Government initiative supporting the arts in regional and remote Australia, administered in Western Australia by Country Arts WA. Stepping Up is auspiced by HARTZ (Hedland Arts Council) Inc.

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Times of change…

I feel like those facebook posts that say OMG – only xx days till Christmas!!  I just can’t get my head around the fact that it mid October already.  So much has happened recently in my life that my head feels like it is spinning and I wonder if it is ever going to stop.  Most of it is good mind you – but I have that feeling of pressure – like if one more person asks me to do one more thing I think my head might simply explode.

We moved house lately – and that was a big one.  I am definitely still recovering.  I am also still cleaning out the other house we were in and that is leaving me feeling a little sad as I wipe away the traces of little hand prints on walls but also extremely glad that this is the last time I will have to clean those walls!  I am like an emotional ping pong ball.

There is also that weird feeling of things not being in the right spot.  I nearly burnt myself making a cup of tea the other night because strangely enough the bench in the new house is just not in the same place as the bench in the old house and when you are tired and on automatic it is hard to remember which house you are in.

I have also made some big decisions about my future as I have mentioned previously – shutting down my business Moon Stars Play and just focussing on my art practice.  The decision was easy but wiping out the traces of a business I worked really hard for and owned all by myself was more difficult than I expected.  Even my new website that I am working on for myself as an artist – it was extremely weird to delete Moon Stars Play websites that I spent hours creating.  And to stop using my Moon Stars Play logo feels bizarre as well – I love that logo and it always reminds me that simple can be enduring.

So next on my agenda is the Australian Print Triennial back in Mildura.  I will be going to the Triennial such a different person and artist than I was when I went for training in Perth back in February.  How can one person change so much in half a year?  I really couldn’t have predicted the outcome of Stepping Up – I definitely achieved my goal of developing my confidence in myself as an artist which is great but I wasn’t expecting to work out how that and simplifying my life in other ways would make me so much happier.  So I just need to get through this high pressure period, remember that Santa has to come soon (eek!), and that my life is what I am making it.  Which is good.

The Regional Arts Fund is an Australian Government initiative supporting the arts in regional and remote Australia, administered in Western Australia by Country Arts WA. Stepping Up is auspiced by HARTZ (Hedland Arts Council) Inc.

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Moving on…

We have just moved house.  I’ve moved house a whole heap in my lifetime (this move was number 30) so you’d think I’d be good at it but actually this time was different.  This time we’d settled into the house for seven and a half years and that was the longest that I’d ever lived in a house.  Besides there was the kiddie factor – that house was their home – the only one they really remember and they had managed to own / mark nearly every inch of it in some way. Making the decision to move on wasn’t easy but it had come to the point that it was fear of the change holding us back so we knew we had to do it.

So now we are at the new place which suits us down to the ground but is a lot, lot smaller.  I have gone from an art room to an art desk and trust me when I say I am currently typing surrounded by piles of paper, paperwork, printing stuff and general artistic debris.  I guess it will take us all a while to settle in but I know we have made the right decision.  So many big changes for us as a family, and for me as a person, this year…it makes me wonder what will be changing next!

The Regional Arts Fund is an Australian Government initiative supporting the arts in regional and remote Australia, administered in Western Australia by Country Arts WA. Stepping Up is auspiced by HARTZ (Hedland Arts Council) Inc.

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Balancing act…

Now that the pressure is off and I am officially finished in terms of artwork requirements this year I have been catching up on paperwork etc.  All fine and good but I know from experience that if I don’t keep creating I go a little loopy so after a week off I sat down yesterday to do some carving.

It was with absolute astonishment I realised that I was tensing up…I felt a bit icky and really didn’t want to start carving.  Of course I ignored the feeling and just started carving but I kept thinking about it on and off for the rest of the day.  I love carving…I do it for fun, I do it because it is a vital step in my artwork, I do it because it is the one thing that stops time for me – I loose myself in it and for a person with a busy brain like mine that is like a holiday.

So what was the problem?  When I thought about it some more I realised that I’ve done a heck of a lot of carving this year…much more than I’ve ever done before.  And I’ve done it under extreme pressure for much of that time.  The pressure was what kept me going when I wanted to give up – when my wrists were aching, my back was sore and my eyes could barely focus – I knew I just had to push through.

But now that the pressure is off I just thought it would be back to normal and I would just carve for the absolute pleasure of it.  Apparently different parts of my mind and my body didn’t necessarily agree.  So it is back to little, gentle carving sessions…baby steps back to fun.  Carving is my happy place and I can’t that go.  The lesson here for me is if I push myself too hard in one direction I can’t automatically swing back in the other direction and if I am not careful I may loose something that is one of the biggest pleasures of my life.

Tis all about balance…but perhaps because I have never been very good at balance I should admit it is more about controlling extremes.  Wish me luck with that!!

The Regional Arts Fund is an Australian Government initiative supporting the arts in regional and remote Australia, administered in Western Australia by Country Arts WA. Stepping Up is auspiced by HARTZ (Hedland Arts Council) Inc.

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