New Easter Traditions

Easter for me in the past has meant the time of year when Dad wanted the rain to fall so he could get the soil ready to sow the seeds for the crops. It also evolved around Christian meaning with the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

At school when growing up there was the fun and mystery of the Easter bunny. The eating of hot crossed buns, and Easter eggs. This still remains! (I plan to go on a diet after Easter!)

Mum began a tradition of buying us all pyjamas for the winter. A tradition I’m now continuing with my son. I have his new pyjamas ready to give to him on Easter.

There was always a big family focus over Easter for me. This year, this has a new meaning, as my son turns one, and it is his first Easter.

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It’s a big milestone, for my son, and for me, making this time very special, and not in the tradition sense. I’ve planned his first little birthday party. Printed photos of him growing over the last year, to make the milestone. The fun of his first birthday and Easter, being a perfect mix for the weekend. The Easter bunny feet are ready to put out (my big of fun too!), and I’ve planned my son’s first Easter egg hunt. It’s a time of transformation, and this year for beginning new traditions for my family. And the creation of new memories.

Happy Easter, however you choose to mark this point of the year.

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How Writing Nurtures Me

Today, I have children’s poet Kristin Martin giving an insight to how writing nurtures her. Thank you Kristin for giving a valuable insight to the creative process for yourself.

How Writing Nurtures Me

by Kristin Martin

I am a children’s poet. I write poems about nature, and about children’s wonder and awe at the natural world. I find it easy to put myself in the shoes of a child, because I still am that child. I still feel that wonder and awe.

On Monday Lilliana asked me to write a blog post. I typed the title on my laptop: How writing nurtures me, but I didn’t know what to write. So I closed the document and went back to writing poetry.

Today I spent the entire day writing children’s poetry. When I say ‘the entire day’, I mean that I dedicated today to writing poetry, rather than I sat at my computer and typed poems all day, because that is not possible, at least not for me.

In order to put myself in the right frame of mind this morning I looked out at my back garden. I saw something moving under a tree, and realised it was my turtle! I hurried outside because I rarely see her out of her pond, and watched as she rambled off into the bushes.

turtle hiding
Can you find the turtle?

And that was when I noticed the path. A smooth path under the rosemary bush, leading into the darkness. She obviously has wandered along this path regularly, as she has worn it smooth. I put my head down and peered along the path, under the jumble of branches and sweet smelling leaves, and her little face peered back at me.

And then I returned to my laptop and tried to capture my joy at discovering this mysterious path.

That poem is not finished yet, but the challenge of writing words, with perfect rhythm and rhyme, to tell a story about this path is one that I relish

Next, I opened a poem that I have been writing over the past week, but that still had a couple of lines I didn’t like. I read it, then left it open on my laptop while I went into the kitchen to make apple sauce. While I chopped apples I ran over the words in my head, and played with alternatives, and that is when I came up with the solution. I rushed back to my laptop and typed in the words. After finishing the apple sauce I re-read them, and they still sounded perfect.

I had solved the puzzle I had set myself. I had written a poem that tells the story I want and conveys the emotions I want it to, as well as having the correct rhythm, and rhymes that are true.

I felt an enormous sense of accomplishment.

After going for a walk, and then working on several other poems, all of which are unfinished, I realised that I felt happier and more fulfilled than I had in weeks. I felt nurtured. So I returned to the ‘How writing nurtures me’ blog post, and wrote this.

 

Kristin Martin writes poetry and short fiction for children and adults. She is the author of two poetry collections, To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme? published by Glimmer Press in 2019 and Paint the Sky, published by Ginninderra Press in 2016. Her poems and short stories are published in numerous anthologies, including Tadpoles in the Torrens and Wild, in magazines, including Page Seventeen, Orbit, Count Down, Blast Off and The Caterpillar, on websites and in art exhibitions. You can read more of her children’s poetry on her website, Poems For Kids, at kristinmartin.net.

“Blank” Canvas

The first steps in this task of completing a collage, was to add a background colour in acrylics. I only had three tubes of acrylics with me, which limited the colour palette.

I could’ve brought more, but I’d recently purchased some acrylics but had left them at home.

So I decided to make do. And I’m glad I did.

The look was more rustic, perhaps a bit industrial than I was going for (I might actually re-do this background in the future for other projects, there’s a few ideas sparking). This is for a collage. I’m going to build on this first layer. And when I stepped back I could see in my mind’s eye where the next layer might go. Even though this wasn’t the ‘look’ I wanted, it was a start that I could work with and build on. Sometimes it’s better when things don’t go to plan and you are moved by the creative flow and take notice.

When have you started a creative project but it’s not gone to plan? But the result has been better than you had initially planned? Please share in the comments below.

Tinkering

I’ve painted enough to know to try and be mindful of overworking the image. It can be difficult to know when to stop, and consider if the painting is finished or needs to be left for a while. This also applies to tinkering.

When tinkering too much the painting can be changed in way that wasn’t wanted. A bit different to overworking. Tinkering is the adding another bird in the sky, or flower in the field, or apple on the tree, when the painting may well have not needed these extra additions.

The same can happen when writing, and editing. The life of the story can be altered in a way that was unintended. Not a big deal if the result is liked, but it’s a problem if the new direction ends up in a dead-end, or the wrong way. Then it’s a lot more work to get the manuscript back on track.

But when to stop? This is when it’s helpful to check in with yourself and ask question like; is what I’m doing improving the work?

I didn’t do so much tinkering when doing my last painting of a seascape, but it was something the teacher kept mentioning during the class. Stop tinkering! And I got what he was saying. Maybe that’s why I didn’t tinker so much. It’s another tool I can have ready to use when I’m painting. I can even extend this to editing a manuscript. There becomes a point when words are being changed but not necessarily adding to the story. At this point I need to stop tinkering. Leave the project, and either come back later, or consider that it may be as good as it’s going to be and release it into the world.

Stop tinkering! Is now something I’ll have in mind to help guide me through the painting of my next canvas and other creative projects.

Lilliana

Quick Study of Seascape

To start a recent workshop on seascapes, the teacher had participants do a quick study. With only 20 minutes to do the painting, I had no choice but to go with the flow. And to keep it simple.

I learnt that this was a fun way to experiment, and learn. And it will be something I’ll try again at home. This is always a good sign as I’m inspired. Often I don’t get to paint in short time frames like this, normally it’s much longer, and can take months. So it’s also refreshing to do a smaller image in a short time.

Sometimes writing is a long drawn out process. And I can’t map the process like I can when painting a canvas. So to be able to see the stages from start to finish in a short time is exciting. It’s a different creative process for me, which helps to keep me inspired, and ready to try new things, and to experiment. Because it’s also a quick study, if things don’t turn out, then because it’s not taken a huge investment of time, I don’t get hung up on that. I can take what I’ve learnt, and apply it to another study or if I’m happy with my skill set then a canvas.

With this new level of inspiration, and off to get creating. Who knows what I’ll create and learn!

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Seascape

The fine line between not liking your work to being constructive about what you’ve created is important. Actually, it’s important in life as well.

I was reminded of this boundary between my perspective of negativity versus constructive thoughts in regard to a recent workshop on painting seascapes. Not only did I learn how to paint waves I also learnt the value of looking at my work, seeing how I feel about it, by asking myself some questions.

Do I like what I see? Is the painting working? No. What can I do about it? What can I change?

It’s the last two questions which I found particularly helpful. Because the answers gave me positive action to take. By asking these questions, it also prevented me from spiralling down into a puddle of negativity that what I’m doing isn’t good enough.

Why were these questions so valuable?

Not only did the answers help keep my mindset positive but also allowed me to pause and consider how I could improve the painting. The answers gave me a positive focus. And a chance to try something with the intention of progressing the painting.

Whatever I do may not improve the painting (to my liking) but I can keep repeating these questions until I do. Or worse case, if I’ve tinkered too much or overworked the painting, then this becomes a valuable lesson for me to have learnt, which I can apply to the next painting I do.

How did I apply this process to my seascape? The big wave in the centre wasn’t turning crashing over like it is now. It was rolling in a white top across the canvas. This looked a little boring. I wasn’t happy with it.

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With the help of the teacher the wave was changed part way across so that it was partly rolling over. It worked. It could’ve easily not have. And if that was the case, then I would’ve tried something else. Or learnt what not to do for the next seascape I painted.

 

Seascape Finished

It’s too easy to get down on your creative project, so it’s a good safety net as such to have process like asking yourself a few questions. “Am I happy with this? No. Then what can I do about it?” Because this can help generate inspiration and ensure the creativity keeps flowing.

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…?

 

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.

 

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.

Inspiring Myself

Today, I’ve given myself a time out of life. I’m doing the minimal today. As part of relaxing, I sat down and watched the DVD of The Greatest Showman. I’d seen it on the big screen a few months ago, and loved it. This time around I enjoyed it just as much, and it was a good chance to continue with a crocheting project. The music, the costumes, the acting, the singing, the story, were fantastic. Then to continue the day of chilling I watch the ‘extras’.

I found myself inspired.The Greatest Showman.jpg

I found myself reaching for my phone so I could type down the thoughts that were flowing from the ideas that had suddenly come loose and floated to my consciousness, catching them in black words on my phone.

It was great. While I haven’t been in a drought, it’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed the simple flow of inspiration through me.

Often as a teacher, and mentor, even writer, I’m inspiring others. I love it. But I also need to be inspired myself. Sure, I have the things I do to stir up the creativity, and ideas, and get myself inspired – like walking along the beach, reading, painting, crafts, blogging, and going out with people. But this was the first time I was conscious that by watching a movie (while crocheting), and then watching the ‘extras’ and seeing other artists enthusiastic with what they were doing, my own creative well filled. I was overflowing with inspiration for the different creative projects I am planning.lettie and barmum.jpg

And I’ve been reminded that there are hidden benefits for me in watching a movie. Maybe it had a lot to do with the movie being The Greatest Showman, which was an amazing product of so many different artists coming together, and an inspiring story. I’m sure it was the determination in Lettie, in particular, which got my creative juices flowing.

I’ll be watching this movie again.

Are there any movies which have inspired you? What are the go to movies for you when you want to be inspired? Please share below.