Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Go with the flow ...

Today in my house, we did not drive to pre-school ... instead there was a visit to the doctor and a nebulizer to play with at home.

paintings did not get finished ...

the room i am sitting in right now ...

 still looks just the same ...

my version of tidying up the lounge looks like this lately ....

and hubby is working late.

But cars got inspected and blogs got read, children got taken care of and if the day ends with a bit of this (bought for the hubby but as he's not home ...) 

I think it's OK.

Some days are messy and chaotic and not at all on plan. 
That's just how it goes.

Years ago I used to be the one saying 'Go with the flow Babe'. 

I think the Universe is having a lovely long chuckle at me at the moment, having to learn this again, in a different way.


Friday, January 27, 2012

Window displays

Earlier in the week I got to play at a friend's bakery in Mamaroneck. She opened it a year ago in March (I am so proud of her) and every few weeks i get to go in and play around in the window. Nothing professional or too glamorous (this is me talking after all) and I keep thinking everyone else would do it so much better, but I have fun and hope it makes at least a few people stop to take a second look.

From New Years and celebration theme ... 

To one of my favorite holidays ... 

It's been a long week with an even longer TO DO list (do they ever go away?) and today I was supposed to be in my studio for a few hours while Lexi is in pre-school ... but unusually for me I think it's time to find some order in the chaos that is home today, as I can't think straight anymore and need some tidyness around before the weekend arrives. I am hoping to get a few hours painting time on Sunday when hubby takes the kids (now I just have to tell him!).

If it's cold where you are too, I am wishing you warmth and cosy corners to nestle into - maybe a good book or some music on ... coffee ... gluhwein ... friends coming round.

Happy weekend everyone.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

On holding hands ...

Yesterday I planned what I would write tonight when I got time to myself to add a new post but then the day took it's own turns (as days often do) and I am writing something completely different. I wanted this blog to be from the heart and not all about the good and the easy, sometimes also the struggles and the cloudy days ... still positive but also true to life ... seems i am writing not so much about art and more about other things but hey ho ... so it goes too.

Today I thought about how hard it is sometimes to parent. To really do right by our children and to know when they need us, and how. Just a small family situation but it made me think. My little boy had a really tough time at the dentist today - he had to have a procedure done which was not easy and he did not know it was coming (we didn't want to scare him ahead of time). An ordinary cavity appointment had to be a bit more and he was so brave and 'good' (how we reward that, don't we, when actually sometimes a bit of tantrum and shouting actually gets one's needs met more than being silent does). I couldn't be in the room with him (he is big enough to go on his own now, but not really). I couldn't hold his hand and just be there with him through the hour he was in the chair because i had my 2 year old in the playroom area with me, trying to keep her entertained so that the dentist could do his job. 

In bed tonight  my son told me that he was scared, but kept thinking of the future - knowing I would eventually come back into the room and that he would see me then. My heart broke a little at that thought. Of how brave he had been, and how scared and lonely. Of how I had been just a few doors away, not aware of how scary it all was for him today.

How awesomely huge the responsibility really is - to raise our children - not just to bring them safely through childhood but with health and happiness and wonderful memories and experiences and all the best chances and believing in themselves and having confidence and social skills and good friends and role models and good family relationships. And do we tell them too much or not enough at all - do we sugar coat or let them see more than they should. The list goes on and on. Sometimes it can be a little overwhelming, the bigness of it all. The capacity for getting it wrong.

I know, really not a serious life threatening situation at all for us today - just a dentist appointment and there are so many far more serious things going on for children everywhere ... but it still made me think how hard it sometimes is to know how to be there for our children, to know what they need and when. I often wonder what my children's memories will be when they grow up - what short comings they will see in me, what they will remember me not doing, or not doing well enough. Wrong decisions made, things not always seen in fullness but in isolation ... not the whole story. 

No matter the things they think I did not do - I hope more than anything that they know I tried to do my best (humanly, ie not at all perfectly). And that I did it all from a place of love, even if sometimes I got it a little wrong. Which i guess is the most any of us can do. Really.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Today ...

We had plans for today ... Big Plans ... first it was to go away for the weekend with friends, but then both our boys were not so well so we changed to an Ikea trip to get organized and shopping for a new car (long overdue) ... but then it snowed and snowed and we stayed home instead and it was good in so many ways... the first weekend in ages where my husband was not working, so that meant someone else to play hide-and-seek and lend a hand with the two monkeys (said with deepest love).

There were snowballs and hot chocolate...

I finally dealt with THREE baskets full of papers which have been piling up for months and reclaimed my studio space which I haven't been able to work in properly since the end of November, when it became the hub of gift wrapping and gift hiding.

I pottered around, re-arranging treasures and hanging up old pictures ... 

I reframed an old drawing from college days ...

Around here, I cannot bear to pack away the lights ... 

Wishing you lightness and brightness in the week ahead.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Holding on or letting go ...

A long time ago I had things to release ... to let go of ... sadness, pain, grief. 

The first I dropped into a bottle and sat at the edge of a pier, far away in Africa ... except it wasn't far away then ... it was home ... i wrote a letter and set it sailing and it was symbolic but it helped me to feel that in time I would really be able to let go of all that I was holding on to ... so that I could move on.

The second was a balloon on my 30th birthday - another continent, another time - a silver helium balloon went drifting up above my rooftop and away into the skies ... my way of goodbye, my way of sorrow ... not to move on, but to accept the finality of what was.

In some ways this blog feels symbolic in a similiar way ... I am facing a big birthday milestone and it's really made me assess where I am, the choices I have made, where I thought I would be when I was staring at 20 and at 25. I feel that it's this year where I either start shining and doing and making something of myself, or it will be too late - in the conventional sense anyways. I'll stop dreaming of exhibitions and paintings hanging on walls and will make peace with being a Sunday painter, or maybe take up pottery again. And that will be that. No more thinking 'what if' and just accepting where I am and what I do have. And not in a way which is sad, just an understanding that sometimes things work out differently to what we thought. The thing is that i never dared to dream about any of it until so late ... so now I feel like if only I had started earlier ... but these are exactly the kinds of thoughts I want to let go of, so that I can make peace. Somehow. And for that not to be failing.

And so instead of the bottle or the balloon this time, I am sending my words sailing out into the blue for a year ... hoping they will come back to show me the way, or to set me free. 


Friday, January 13, 2012

Finding the time

I am obsessed with interior design ... on TV, books, online - but especially in magazines. I think because i can touch and smell and it's the whole experience of time to myself, sitting on the couch with a huge cup of tea. I collect piles of them and then, every few months when the basket is spilling over, i go through and choose which ones to keep and which ones to tear pages out of.

Ideas of homes or paintings or just things I love. I think part of it is that when i'm paging through photos of other people's homes, i get a glimpse into other people's worlds and lives ... and I get to dream. About having that sofa or that beautiful cup to drink my eat out of. Sitting on that beach on those driftwood chairs or having a barbeque at sunset with my family all around me. I daydream and i think 'one day' .. 'if only' and it's good, that feeling of hope - of thinking I could have that too, if i wanted, one day. And sometimes there is a leaf or a shape or a beautiful photo and i dash to my studio, feeling that buzz of wanting to capture an idea quickly, before it slips away.

I love the family home of Ben Fogle, especially the patchwork couch (perfect for rainy days drinking tea and reading magazines)  ... it's from the Feb '11 issue of British magazine Living etc - one of my all time favorites.

Yesterday was rainy, a perfect magazine day for me, and lots of tea (and Handy Manny tools thrown in of course).

The thing is, it's hard to find time for me right now. Husband working loooong hours and weekends, and I am kind of single parenting right now ... which I am not complaining about because usually it's a lot mroe balanced and i get a few hours a week to do my thing. But not right now. And somehow the house is always messy and there are always chores to be done. Or games to play.

I try to paint when my daughter goes to pre-school, 6 precious hours a week. But sometimes there are dentist appointments or friends I really want to see. It's hard - this balancing act.

So i go into the studio and sometimes all i do is 15 minutes of playing, letting things happen. And sometimes I have the best accidents and sometimes I spend all my time putting paint on, only to take it off again.

 ... the scraping off ... 

... and the happy accidents...

And so it goes. That's the story of my week.

Hoping you get to have a little special pocket of time to yourself this weekend to do something you really really want to. And a little time to play.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Where home is ...

If i had to choose a word for today, it would be 'nostalgic', a little 'sad', maybe 'wistful'. 

The kind of day where years ago I would have walked the back dirt road behind the tennis courts, lemon trees in the night breeze, floodlights on the field where the rugby team practiced .. a deep blue sky and quiet night-time peace .. walking walking and space for thoughts to gather in the silence, broken only by shouts from the field and the crickets in the long grasses. 

Today is a day where the conversations have been about moving - one to across the country and the other, far more personal to me, has been about moving home. Home. Should be where I am now. Right here. Home is where the heart is after all. But what happens when one leaves pieces of one's heart scattered in different places, unintentionally ... what does one do then ? One can't always find those pieces again to gather them up - sometimes they take root or go wandering on their own and then there is always that feeling of something missing, not being quite complete or at peace where one is.

That's how I feel sometimes .... today is one of those days. I started writing this blog because I want to step off the fence I have been sitting on for so long, to start doing more and putting myself out there just a little bit, one tiny step at a time. But sometimes all of this is part of why we paint, what occupies our thoughts - and so it is all part of the journey. What we feel sad about, where our thoughts to. So i guess it is OK to write about this too.

I was born in South Africa and left when I was 24, to go travelling before it was time to settle down. I went to England planning to save up enough to get to South America and then i met my husband and next thing I was doing the very thing I swore never to do. I got married and got a real job and we bought a house ... and then we were there and we kept saying one day at a time, one more year ... and then a decade passed, and then some more ... and we missed home - it was always home to us - we missed it deeply. But we got used to that ache and had a good life in England. We had adventures and friends and there were new chapters in our story. Then it was time to leave and we came to the States ... where we have been for 5 years now. We are hoping to stay and are waiting for our Greencards to come through but our lives have been on hold on so many levels, these past 5 years. Are we staying ? Where do we want to live ? When can we buy a house ? Can we ? When we can finally buy curtains that match and furniture we know we can keep with us instead of just thinking about the short term ... when can we really put down roots and feel like we are part of a community. That we belong, finally, somewhere.

I feel like i belong on three continents .. each of those places is home. I have friends flung across the world in England, South Africa, France, UAE, Australia, Mexico, New Zealand, and here. Part of this life is saying goodbyes and knowing that it's all part of the story ... part of the ebb and flow. But sometimes it's just that bit harder than others and sometimes I want it all to stay the same. Want all my friends to be just around the corner, able to pop in for tea or a last minute glass of wine. I want to feel rooted and at home and that feeling of belonging. It has been a very long time since I felt rooted like that. Sometimes I don't want friends to leave or move on. Not even to the next town.

Last year I went to the Art Expo in New York and saw the work of Dragan Sekaric Shex ... he had some paintings on display about leaving, migration, families and goodbyes and they hit me really hard ... if i had had enough money to take one home with me i would have. One of my favorites is 'Eternal Travellers.' His paintings are beautiful and soulful and very sad but they capture how I feel about all of this sometimes.


Friday, January 6, 2012

A little bit of Sparkly

I have a daughter, Lexi, who is 2. All of a sudden, it's become about choosing her own clothes, dressing herself, pink and princesses and everything shiny. It's really cute and altho I am not at all girly in that way, i really love it. Maybe because it allows me to play along a little bit, which is good for my grown-up-soul.

A few days ago we went to Target and while we were looking for snow-boots she fell in love with a pair of sparkly pink princess shoes. She started sobbing when we couldn't find them in her size and I said we had to go. Tears streaming down her cheeks. I found a box at the back of the shelf and the joy on her little face was priceless. She clutched the box all the way round the store and is completely and utterly in love with her new shoes.

Today she wore them to pre-school - totally impractical for playing outside in the almost freezing cold, but she insisted and I said, just for today, it was OK. 

At college a good friend of mine had a pair of red high heeled shoes - a kind of grown-up version of Lexi's pink sparkly ones. They had impossibly high heels and sequins and satin - completely not the kind of shoes she ever wore, but she had to have them and they were always on a shelf high up in her room. A little whisper from inside - the little girl who loved to play and have things pretty and shiny and not always practical. I loved that she kept them there, on display for us all to see.

Sometimes when we grow up, life becomes so much about being sensible and mature and doing the practical thing. Sometimes we let it get a little grey and mundane. Maybe it's a good thing for all of us to let a little of the pink sparkly into our lives ...  a reminder to play ... to laugh a little ... to have fun and to let ourselves be in love with something beautiful and magical for no reason other than that it makes us smile and feel a little giggly inside. 

Wishing you a weekend with a bit of sparkly thrown in.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Journeys

For the longest time, I have thought about this blog and never started writing it. What i would call it. What I would write. Would anyone ever want to read what I have to say. What do i have to say ? What is the point in starting another blog when there are so many amazing voices online already. What gives me the right as a stay-at-home mom who is just dabbling in painting ? No professional letters behind my name, nothing to give me credibility. Why do i even want to ?

That's the problem sometimes with starting something new ... the not-knowing. Not having all the answers. Not knowing where the journey will end up. Not having a map and heading out anyway. Not knowing where the dirt roads will lead and not knowing if there will be amazing adventures on the way, or if the trip will be quiet and uneventful. Trusting in the adventures and realizing that sometimes quiet has a place too. Not knowing what to pack but hoping that what is needed will turn up somehow, at the right time. 

It's not so easy to do that - to throw a bag together and head out the door ... but here i go. No map. No GPS. On a road so many have driven on before me but hoping i'll find some adventures of my own, some dirt roads and off-the-beaten-track. Music and coffee and a chocolate bar for just-in-case. 

I haven't figured out all details - how to link to blogs I follow or to photos of my work ... I haven't laid it all out with photos to go along, and made it all perfect before I publish this first post ... and that's not usually how I go ... usually, i have to have it all planned out first. But there's a first time for everything and sometimes the best trips are the ones we take at the last minute, without a guide book or a perfectly packed suitcase.

Bag thrown in the car, the music is on loud. Wind in my hair and the road is calling. Off i go.