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Which Pen?

I never realised how important it was choosing a pen to write with. I’d always been a little fussy, and I had a love for stationary, but I didn’t realise how deep this passion went, right down to the point of having to decide what pen I would write with for a particular story.

When I come to write with pen and paper I had developed a ritual on choosing the pen to use – without realising it until taking photos of my coffee and writing implements and noticing the different pens that featured. So it got me thinking about this process and what it might reflect about my approach to writing and creative expression.

The pen chosen depends on what I’m writing; poetry, journaling, first draft of a prose piece, or what pen happens to be in my handbag. But it’s more than what I’m writing.

When I started writing more seriously, I decided to treat myself and buy a modern fountain pen. I enjoyed writing in ink, more so when I was journaling or writing poems. The fountain pen was easy to move, and the ink flowed, helping the words to come into existence on the page forming their own type of imagery. I couldn’t help feeling like a scribe of old, and it provided some of the magical energy needed to create.

It’s not all romantic-like when writing, there’s also a practical side to consider. The ink cartridges for the fountain pens weren’t cheap and I would use them quickly. Also I had some cheaper journals and the ink would seep through making it difficult to read what was on the other side. At the time I was being mindful of money so I retired the fountain pen and returned to my cheap ball point biro. I can write quickly with this pen when I need to. When the images come, and the creativity flows, it’s important to catch the words, and not have to be concerned with a pen that’s not handling the heavy duty workout.

I’ve also discovered coloured ball point pens to mix it up, but I always return to my blue coloured pens. And black pens just don’t work for me. I like to see the blue ink on the white paper.

Thinking about the pen I use to write with gave me an insight to how I approach my writing and how choosing a pen is part of my creative expression, even if I’m the only person who reads rough draft. This process of pen selection revealed a hidden aspect of my creative expression that I hadn’t previously noticed.

The equipment you use to express your self is important. It’s not enough just to grab a pen and book. At least it’s not for me. I want to be using a pen that is like me; fits well in my hand, moves with my fast strokes to create word after word. After all it’s an extension of my arm, it’s the movement from neurone pathways directing the dance on the blank page, which in parts creates my story. And that’s why the pen used is important.

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Plan B

Having to drive over the other side of town for an appointment, I thought a I could combine the trip and then go to one of my favourite cafés. I had to drive past the café on the way to the appointment, and it was closed. And not a closed for today, or opening late today sort of closed. It had shut up shop. Forever. I had so been looking forward to being naughty and buying a cheeky lamington with my coffee, and spending a little time writing (or trying to write as bubs was with me).

What was I going to do now? Plan B wasn’t forming in my mind. Simply I needed another café. But where? And there’s always the risk of trying a new café and it let’s say, things don’t always work out. I was in a risk free mood, and yet, here I was having to do that. I wasn’t in the frame of mind to try something new or different to my routine or what I was used to.

Through the appointment all I could think of was where am I going to have my morning coffee where I can write? I wanted to go to a café where I could take a pram, and one where there was a bit of a rustic, organic vibe to help the creative flow. I wanted to soak up the atmosphere so the inspiration would stay with me for the rest of the day.

It took a lot of thinking, then I remembered a café down the road I had gone to earlier in the year. Relief! And it was the perfect solution. I had a lovely coffee, room with the pram and a few minutes to write. Beautiful organic vibes for me to absorb. Thank goodness! And I’ve got another café to add to my list to go and visit.

All wasn’t lost.

It’s obvious to think there’s not really any risk here, and that it’s simple just think of another café to go to. In a way it was. But it did take a bit of thought for me to work through this. And it reminded me of the process of problem solving. The chance to think on my feet. And to be flexible with the pre-made plans of the day. I also got to practice it for something simple, so when the big problems come along I’ll be ready.

So there’s a lot more than just plan B and having to go to a different café. It’s all about being willing to try something different, to change the plans – on the fly. And to remember that this can actually help the inspiration and lead to some creative progress.

I might just need to try a new café more regularly!

 

Travel and Creativity

It’s been a while since I’ve travelled. Now, it’s different because I have bubs with me. Recently, with a book signing and an academic conference, I had 5 flights in 8 days, with bubs. It was fantastic (and hard work!). I was reminded how beneficial travel is for me. It helps me to connect with who I really am. I’m on an adventure, and off exploring new areas. I’m learning. Growing. Problem solving. Having fun. Meeting new people. During this time, I really get a new perspective on my life, and the areas which matter most. And so much more. It was also a relief to find out that bubs was a good traveller himself.

During this recent travel, I realised there was an unexpected influence on my creativity. While I wasn’t directly being creative when traveling, I ended up coming back tired, but with huge levels of inspiration and ready to get into my writing. I had a whole new level of creative flow. An added benefit to this crazy stint of travel I’d recently done. And it hasn’t just lasted for a few days, this new inspiration is still going, after two weeks and hasn’t faded.

It took 5 flights in 8 days for me to find this new level of inspiration which has spilled out in to my creative projects from painting, to crocheting to writing. For me, travel feeds my soul, and now I know it also helps to call in creativity which can last for weeks.

So, where will I go on my next trip…?

 

Lady at Café

As part of a three week project in art class, I had to measure a figure from an image, transposing it firstly on paper, the on canvas, and finally painting it with oils. Figures aren’t my strength. Neither is measuring. I’m much better at making things up…sort of.

Once again I found myself at the bottom of a steep learning curve. I learnt the importance of planning, measuring and taking the time to draw out the main outline of the image I was copying – a lady sitting at the table at a café. I was inspired by the image, hey it was a lady sitting at a table at a café! This is what I love to do, except I’m usually writing, or catching up with friends.

I managed to draw the figure on the canvas, I got the idea of using tones to build up the colours, yet it just didn’t feel like it came together for me. Why not? Just a week or so before I learnt a new technique, produced a Bunny and was inspired to go and try this at home. But with the Lady at the Café, it felt flat.

lady in cafe 2The photo here shows where I’m up to, and I’m not quite finished, but I’m so uninspired to try and do any work on the canvas at home. How can the Bunny work but not the Lady? Well, different teachers? I do understand the different techniques used, but I am struggling to apply tones with the oils. With these canvases there are two very different techniques. That could be an influence. For whatever reason even though I wanted to push through and try and point a figure using oils it just didn’t work. To me it feels flat.

Then I realised that in the last lesson of working on this painting I did feel flat. Maybe my frame of mind came through into my painting. After all, a week before when drawing the lady on the canvas, even though I had done her wrong (the measurements were way out), I felt inspired to go home and try and fix her up (I didn’t which perhaps was a shame, but life does get in the way sometimes and it’s just what it is).

But the final lesson of working on this project because of a variety of factors unrelated to the art (hot weather, looking after bubs, and writing) meant I was feeling a little flat.

While doing art or craft or other creative projects can help lift your mood, be good for wellbeing, and help process life, the reverse can also happen.

I think this is what could have happened in this painting. And it’s helpful for me to be aware of this. To be mindful, so that if it happens again (which is a reality, because it is part of the creative process), I can recognise it for what it is, not be judgemental on myself, and choose to work to fix the art, or move on to another project.

All is not lost with Lady at Café, I can still continue with this painting. I won’t as right now I’m not inspired too. But I might be in the future. Now at least the process of creating this canvas has given me insight on how my mood can influence my art, and that by being mindful I can gain valuable insights to how the creative process works for me.

Have you noticed a time or stage when going through the creative process where you have gained insight to your approach? Please share below in the comments.

Surrounded by Creativity

I started the Georgia O’Keefe full-day workshop apprehensive, but I left inspired. Partly because I had a great art teacher, as well as keeping my mind open to learning. I also think a big part was due to being surrounded by like-minded people. This can be seen in the beautiful finished products by every single person in the class.

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To me, this reinforces the importance of surrounding myself with fellow artists, and being in an environment where we are all sharing (albeit quietly) the creative journey. This in itself helps to inspire, to fill the subconscious with creativity without even trying. All that needs to be done is to be present, and get creating.

I was nervous and tired at the start of the class. By the end I was energised and wanting to try another canvas using this technique. And when I look at the classes completed canvases I think it’s more to do with being in a shared space of creativity which has helped me feel uplifted and inspired.

As a writer, it’s important for me to remember this as I spend a lot of time creating alone as is the nature of being an author. It was insightful to be in an environment with other artists, sharing the same journey for a moment in time, and how this can positively, subtly influence my art as well as my well-being.

Have you ever experience starting a workshop apprehensive, but then finding quiet inspiration within the class by the end? Please share in the comments below.

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Sheep Mobile Finished

Finally, I have finished the sheep mobile for bubs. After having to pause a number of times because I ran out of filling for the sheep and clouds, having to look after bubs, and then running out of white fluffy wool. It’s been a long process to get these cuties finished! And bubs is rather captivated by the sheep hanging in his room. A lovely addition, and rather symoblic considering my heritage growing up on a farm with sheep. The tradition lives on, just in a new form.

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The sheep and clouds are a little wonky, but I’m very pleased as this is the first project completed following the crochet written pattern – which is like learning another language. It’s too easy to have lots of unfinished craft projects on the go, so I’m glad that this one has been finished, and now hanging in the baby’s room to be enjoyed by him – and me.

Now, a break, and then to think of the next fun crocheting project to start. Because that’s all part of the joy and journey of creating. There’s always another project to discover.

 

 

Halt!

After getting over my trepidation of attempting a more difficult crochet project, and then discovering I could actually read a crochet pattern I thought it would be full steam ahead.

Not quite.

Like all projects, whether creative or not, there are the unexpected halts. The impasses. Which can be frustrating as they take away the momentum making it even more difficult to overcome ‘the block.’

The problem with my current project wasn’t big. I simply needed some fibre filler before I could keep going. This meant going to the shop to buy some which of course I couldn’t because it was well past closing time.

I had to stop because I didn’t have all the materials to keep going. I knew I didn’t when I started. But I had such a strong motivation to want to start, now, and to see if I could read the crochet pattern. After all, I may not have reached the point of needing the fibre filler. I could well have ended up in a crying mess on the couch.

Somehow the instructions made sense and I knotted the yarn until I couldn’t go any further. This was frustrating because I so wanted to keep going but couldn’t. I sourced some fibre filler from my sister – oddly it was what I’d given to her a number of years ago but because I wasn’t using it I had decided to find a new home for it. I just had to wait a few days before I got it. Not long. But long enough to lose my momentum.

The upside to this, because I’ve got two other crochet projects on the go, I could return to them. It meant stopping on the sheep project wasn’t as much of an issue. I could still create. Still make progress on other projects.

I’ve not yet picked up the sheep project, but I will. I know I will. I just need a few hours where I can sit and work on it, because it’s harder and I need to be in the right frame of mind to concentrate more compared with the other two projects I have on the go.

Sometimes halts can be beneficial, or at least not as much of a hindrance as first expected. And by going with the flow, and being patient, I could source the fibre filler for free and progress two other projects. A productive outcome for an impasse!

When has having to stop or pause a project actually been a benefit for you? Please share below in the comments.

New Skill Level

I’ve always found it difficult to read crochet patterns. It’s as if they’re written in some old secret language. I’ve only been able to start new projects with the help of YouTube.

By starting a new project where I can only finish by reading the crochet pattern, I found I’ve actually got a feel for what the pattern means, and I’m actually able to progress and reach a new skill level. It surprised me really. I’ve tried to read crochet patterns for many years and it was a skill I’d given up on ever understanding. It’s harder than trying to learn a new language!

What it reflects to me is that I’m getting a feel of what’s required when crocheting. I’m slipping into that creative flow, to a deeper understanding to where I can begin to make confident decisions on the stitching and knotting to produce what I want to (and if not then I can see where I’ve gone wrong, frog it, and start again).

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It’s a new skill, a new level, and it’s exciting because this opens up so many more possibilities for me to try and explore in the crocheting world. I’m looking forward to it.

When have you unexpectedly found your skill levels improve? Please share below in the comments.

 

Stuck

I’ve been stuck on these two rows for about a week! I found a mistake, so frogged it, re-did the rows, made another mistake, frogged it again. Caught up. Another mistake! Frogged it.

Now I’m taking a break.

It’s a basic stitch, so something else must be going on here. I’m rather busy right now, so tired when I sit to crochet. While I want to crochet I don’t have the headspace for it. Frustrating on one hand, but so is re-doing the same two rows.

Sometimes you just got to step away from the creative project, breathe, have a break, then get back into it.

I look forward to getting back to crocheting this blanket…next week sometime.

Not Writing Time

Coffee time at the Royal Adelaide Show.

No writing. Just coffee time.

Purely time to ponder, daydream, and to let my thoughts wander at will. Though maybe it’s writing in my head which makes a nice change to writing with pen and paper or typing on the computer. Considering some of my books are set at the Show, sitting and soaking up the environment is all part of filling the creative well.

My well is now full.

Inside/outside

I’m sitting on the inside/outside boundary of a cafe, on a sunny spring-is-almost-here day.

Perfect inspiration!

Plus I have a large coffee and a gorgeous journal.