Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday inspiration ...

Just a few links for this sunny Friday (well, here in NY anyway) ... Much as I would love to grab photos from all these websites, I never feel comfortable doing that - but the links are all included here so you can check them out for yourself.

A new issue of MOYO is out (it's online and it's free) ... the paper issue.

I am looking forward to the new issue of Kinfolk magazine ... always beautiful and inspiring. It is available June 4th.

Loving anthropologie's home page right now - it's all summer and hot lazy afternoons. I have been waiting for years and years to go to Mexico (i am coming Peppi, i am, i am) and that's where the latest catalogue was shot. Just love browsing and window shopping online.

I love her work and her blog ... (Mae Chevrette) - i may have shared about her before. Based in Boston, she's all about the sea and travel - two of my favorite things. She has a shop on Etsy too, the link is on her website.

I found her site a few days ago (Milk Farm Road) and love the simplicity of her work. It's kind of inspiring. Love finding new blogs, new lives, new stories.

I subscribe to her blog already (Hands free Mama), but then today she was guest posting on Momastery and this is a lovely read ... for all you busy mamas out there. And if you go to her blog, read her most recent post on how to fill up a child - loved that too.

If you live in the States, you might know the HGTV design star show. A group of contestants go up against each other week by week in interior design challenges and each week someone gets voted out, until we have a winner. Emily Henderson was my fave from the start last year and she won. Now she has her own TV show and does freelancing design work on the side - i am really liking her blog ... her sense of humour and her very cool design ideas. Always a good place for a bit of inspiration on the home front.

Whether you're heading to the beach and enjoying the sunshine in the North, or bundling up for the colder weather in the South (hello Africa), I wish you a lovely and inspired weekend.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

To a new home ... (hopefully)

We are moving ... i think it's official. I am so worried about jinxing it - our track record is not that great. Not since we moved to the States anyway. But i think buying a fridge and a bed before getting the keys is more of a jinx than posting here and so i am taking a deep breath to share this with you.

It's been many years in the making. Years and months and days. Daydreaming of our own home. Watching HGTV and sighing in envy. We had a house in England and we sold it before we came here, thinking it would be ever so easy to just pick up where we had left off there. Not the case. But here we are.  On a new threshold. Less than a month to go.

A little nostalgic as boxes are packed and memories are stored away. This is the only home Hayden remembers. This is the home we brought Lexi back to after the hospital. It's where she has learnt to crawl and walk and laugh and talk and eat and sing and dance. It's wooden floors have born countless trails of sand and drips of water from outside playtimes. There have been car races and princess balls and dressing up as a fire fighter to save the day. Pizza playdates and late nights drinking wine. Long phone calls to friends and family far away. There has been finger painting and cakes with sprinkles and wrestling on the carpet and tantrums. Tears. Sulks. Loud peals of laughter. Yelling. Calling. Giggling. We're not a quiet family.

This is the house where i remembered how much i love to paint. Need to paint. And write. Where i woke up again. Where i brought home clothes with colour from the store instead of my London wardrobe of mainly black and grey. Where i watched the snow falling and listened to the silence. Watched the seasons coming in and out and the magnolia tree bursting into white bloom. Where easter eggs were hidden and candles burnt on Christmas trees. All the small daily parts of family life. It's been a good home to us. But we are off on another adventure.

So forgive my rare appearances. I am still here. I am on pinterest a LOT looking for ideas and inspiration. Dreaming of a garden. 

Thinking of dark blue walls for Hayden and finding pink paint swatches to meet with Lexi's approval. She is one tough customer. I am taking deep breaths when i get a bit panicky because we are going to have more space and a lot of trees. It's a lifestyle change to a more rural setting - a longer commute, a longer drive to see our friends. But more space and more green. It is new schools and so many changes. And at the moment it's all a mixture of sadness and anticipation in between boxes and more boxes and just waiting to get started.

I'll share photos and details once i'm not longer worried about the jinxing. And maybe some inspirations along the way. But for now, i'm off to pack another box. Wish me luck.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sunday photos ...

 The past two weeks have gone so quickly ... there was a little having to stay in bed for a few days with a really bad cold ... there was packing and then some more packing and boxes piling up. A little freaking out at the sheer amount of STUFF our family of four has gathered. How much of this do we really need ? How am i going to stop the new house from feeling cluttered and overflowing ?All the packing and sorting has led to a little more chaos than i would like, and our house not feeling very calm or tidy. But there's progress in the chaos. There's also been a lot of day dreaming about wall colours and kids bedrooms. I promise to share once it's actually happened. After all our almost-moves in the past years, i am not tempting fate. Nope. Not this time.

There was a birthday celebrated as our princess turned 4. She is feisty and beautiful and creative and gentle and we love her to the moon and back.

In between the spring rains we have had afternoon tea parties in the garden.

 And some studio time. This weekend i spent a few hours finally clearing out half packed boxes and clutter and it's a relief to have once calm clean space in one room in the house. It rained today .. soft gentle rain .. and after a lovely breakfast with friends we came home and i started work on some small commissions for friends which I want to finish in the next few weeks before we move (is that jinxing it, i do hope not). It feels good to have some space to work. Movie and popcorn for the kids and i had the sound of rain and the smells of the earth from the studio door open to the garden. 

And then a little helper to come in and use up my left over paint to add to her masterpiece.

This week my mother celebrated her birthday and i wished with all my heart that i lived just down the road or up the hill or around the corner, and that i could have taken her for coffee and cake and we could have sat outside on a warm winter day in Durban and felt the sun on our skins and sipped and chatted. Instead we have to send our love across the seas where it's just too far away and somehow the ache of having left home and family never really fades. We just learn to live with it. I think that's what happens. We hope you had a lovely lovely birthday Mutti, you deserved it.

Wishing all of you a beautiful week ahead.


Friday, May 17, 2013

On art school and finding some old drawings ....

I went to the wrong art school. It's not a secret, I have known it since i got to my second year. In the rush of choosing what to study at the end of High School it came down to Graphic Design at Tech and a BFA with Psychology and Art at Rhodes. Chosen in the end not because i knew a thing about the art department, but because of the Grahamstown Festival and the ability to apply long after all the other universities had closed their doors. Totally makes sense to choose your school based on an arts festival happening in the town once a year, in the freezing cold of mid-winter. Also i had been to the beautiful Eastern-Cape town and stayed on campus and fallen for the graceful old buildings and tree lined streets, so it was less daunting than Stellenbosch or Cape Town, the places which might have been a better fit.

I was going to be an art therapist - somehow, someday. Even though it wasn't possible to study this in South Africa at the time and I had no way of studying overseas. But some day. And so the actual art department and it's lecturers and style of working were not even on my radar ... it was enough of a dream to actually be going to art school, and then it was only on the back of my major in Psychology. It had always been clear to me that art was not what i was destined for - the only career worth having was one which helped others, where i could be of service. And so pyschology was to be the main focus and art was just slipped in on the sideline to fill out my degree. Or so i said. When really that's what made me come alive and want to get up in the morning but i had never felt like i had the right. That sense of entitlement. Or belief in myself, in having any real talent. If it hadn't been for the most amazing high school art teacher, i wouldn't have fought to take it during high school in the first place, it definitely was not what had been expected for me.

I remember that first year at Rhodes so well. The silence of the room as we sat hunched over our charcoal or pencil drawings - marble busts and figures. Two talented though very different lecturers who encouraged and taught and made me know why i was there. I was so in awe of the talent around me, the personalities, the different lives lived. The students who had always known they would be artists and had no guilt or doubt involved in the decision. I still remember how brave i thought they were. How lucky. How not like me. I was never going to do that, never be able to do that. I wasn't good enough, not ever. I wasn't made for that. But I learnt to draw a figure in full in under three hours. The lines flowed and my fingers came alive. There was luke-warm sweet tea on the sunny lawn outside at break time, and koeksusters dripping syrup from the tea-room across the road. There were sketchbooks and half poems written by candlelight while a yellow moon sailed across the backgarden on light-blue-skied nights, sending chameleons into the shadows to hide.

And then came second year and instead of choosing sculpture, which is where my heart was wanting to leap to, i played it safe. I went with what i had done before - just dabbling, tiny little paintings in high school, but i understood the process. It wasn't as frightening. The sculpture studio was like an alchemy lab with boys with long hair that i wanted to shadow, puppy-like in adoration. The things they made. The sculptures. I was so shy. So scared to join that group, feeling young and completely inept, not part of the inner circle. If only i had known then that it's the very things which frighten us most that we need to turn towards, to push ourselves into. That's where the treasure lies, the deep true places. 

            Copy drawing _ after Matisse 

But i didn't know that then. And i struggled. Really really deep down in every fibre of my being. Those nude models so bored and tired of the same poses in the studio. I was bored too. I started skipping studio sessions to drink tea at home. The same colours, the same battles. The lines which wouldn't come. The oils which turned muddy. I wanted to throw some Tretchikoff colours onto the canvas. Add a bit of Matisse. But it all had to be realistic, brown, earth colours. I shall hate sienna red for as long as i live. The colour of the polished floors, speckled with paint and pencil sharpenings. The colour of my paint. Every tortured day. I hated it so much, and lost all my confidence to the point that i walked out of the art school a month before my final exam, and lost my credit for that entire year of blood and tears. I tried to come back the year after and waitress to support my studies of sculpture full time - finally two years later having realised how wrong my choice had been, and what i really wanted. But it was too late - there wasn't time in the day to waitress and study. After three months of hardly touching the floor of the studio with my feet, it was time to admit defeat and call it a day. I packed up my room in the crazy but wonderful eleven-room-mates house looking down onto the cathedral. I ordered a container and dove into the eastern-cape sea for the last time ... and went home to Durban.

And I painted again. Slowly. And i really tried to figure it all out. Amongst so many other struggles along the way. But confused and unsure and torn between a new career in desktop publishing, the chance to lecture, and travel. I chose adventure and went to London. Where it was all about making ends meet and figuring out what to do when i grew up and no space to paint, and getting married and a new full time career. A few of those actually. And anyone else, maybe the ones who were so driven back then, who always knew - well, they wouldn't have let anything stand in their way. They would have made a plan, worked nights to paint by day, shared a bed to afford to rent a tiny studio. But not me. I got side tracked by life. And i made my peace with that. All along, back at Rhodes, we had been brainwashed about artists having to be dedicated only to art. 'She should be your mistress, your wife, your true passion.' Anyone not obsessed, completely devoted - well they weren't true artists were they ? And so i knew it, all those years in London, trying on new skins in publishing and picture framing, falling in love again ... getting married. Clearly i was too trivial to be an artist. The calling wasn't real or deep enough. I'd been kidding myself all along. There really was no point. If i wasn't good enough or brave enough or dedicated enough to do it 100% of the time, there really was no point. There was no middle ground. That's what i kept telling myself, and it worked.

In all the jobs i had, i kept my fingers in the pool but i didn't dive in : working with design agencies but not designing, framing art made by other people, not myself ... then we came to New York and i stopped working to be a stay-at-home mom. And then one day Hayden went to preschool and i had almost three hours to myself, five mornings a week. Add some personal crises and there it was, the urge to paint again. I didn't know what else to do. The addictive smell of turps and linseed oil, the feeling of smeared paint on my fingers. A commission for a good friend, a lot of encouragement, and there it was - it was flowing again. After more than a decade. And i loved it. I was back. Back in my skin again. After years of arguing with myself, being so sad and feeling as if something had died. There it was.

And i've come to realise that yes, i am jealous of the friends who have done well, who paint for a living or are in the art world for good. The movie directors and the musicians, the brilliant choreographer and the painters. I've watched them from afar and I'm so happy for them, proud even sometimes. And it's taken me a lifetime to know that i wanted that for myself too, I just didn't think i deserved it. And maybe i didn't want it on those terms i believed to be true. all or nothing. Struggling artist. The constant need to prove oneself. What is that all about ? I'm not the only one with that struggle. I'm reading about people all the time who feel the same way, who struggle like i did. Still do. But now ... for me .... well there's a wonderful online community of artists here and some of them would have outright failed a crit at Rhodes (like i did once or twice !) and some are incredibly talented and honest and open and generous. And they are sharing and learning from each other and there's this beautiful community that i never experienced before. And i'm not sure where this is going, or where i'll be a few years down the line. But at least i know what matters to me now, even if it's 20 years later.

And i don't believe you have to be obsessed. I don't believe it has to rule your life to the exclusion of happiness. It doesn't mean you can't have food on the table or a marriage or a family. You can be 'normal.' You can sing to a pop song and spend a day at the beach without sketching. You don't have to be reclusive or a complete intellectual or dress in black or any of the stereotypes we carry around inside ourselves. It's just about what makes your heart sing really. And for me that's paint and a beautiful drawing. Words. Music. The way light plays in the garden in the early morning. 

This isn't the post i planned on writing today. In fact this came out of nowhere and took me for a ride after days of feeling a little daunted by the white blank screen in front of me and wondering what new song or other blog post to share. Which sometimes is the best way, just to dive in and see where it goes. Clearly i had something to tell myself. 

You see i was going through some old piles of papers and drawings today while Lexi was playing at her sand table, and i found drawings ... scraps of ideas, half finished sketches. They've been lying there waiting. Waiting while i had a second child four years ago, knowing it was all on hold again and that it would be a long time before i had pockets of precious time to myself again. We can't have a nanny, and i don't want to. On hold again. More reasons to wait, putting this on the back burner. But that it was worth it. That little girl sitting pouring orange juice from a blue teapot and singing to herself while i took these photos today.

And they're still there, waiting for me. All those ideas are just quietly floating above the paper, lines to remind me. And i remembered why i love this. I remembered why it's part of me. And i was thinking to myself that soon hopefully i'll feel more settled, after the move, and i can plant my toes in the soil and unpack my paints and hopefully, maybe, if i am really careful, i can start to work again. And take it from there. I'm going to leave the door wide open.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Sunday photos on a Monday ...

A Sunday walk on Greenwich Beach before Hayden's baseball game ...

... playing with paint ...

... driftwood treasures carried home from the beach ... it's spring, it's spring ...

... sharing secrets and laughter in an impromptu photo session .... 

... our first piece of furniture bought in a long time ... making me very happy in a new-home-daydreaming kind of way ...

Friday, May 3, 2013

How it goes sometimes ...

It was the perfect kind of Friday afternoon. No activities, after a week which was way too busy and over scheduled, leaving us all cranky and tired. I have learnt my lesson - the mom who is usually so careful got carried away and now our weeks are spent rushing. Never again. So today was just perfect. A quiet afternoon at home, much needed. A gorgeous spring day with light dappling through the backyard trees. A pile of magazines and a fresh cup of coffee. An 8-year old playing Lego again - Iron Man flying through the garden. An almost-4 year old driving polly pockets to the beach and dipping fingers into the water in the sand table. 

I was sitting leafing through magazines and thinking what a perfect moment it was ... looking at beautiful rooms and day dreaming about a new home. Yes. Almost. Not wanting to jinx it just yet so holding my breath to share the details. But soon. Hopefully.  So lots of dreaming going on. Wall colors and furniture. And i was thinking that it's been a few days since i wrote and that maybe i would just post some photos of the light today and tell you what a lovely afternoon it was, the three of us chilling and doing our own thing, together.

And then there was the fight on the trampoline and the silence was shattered. He sat on her. She pulled his hair. One on time out. The other wailing at losing video games for the rest of the day after not listening as his mother shouted herself hoarse. I wonder what the neighbours think. That crazy lady. She's so nasty to her kids. Always yelling. So controlling. No wonder they call her mean.

And then there was more wailing about bathtime and what we were having for dinner. The precious golden hour over. It was lovely while it lasted. And tomorrow is another day and we get to try again. That's the beauty of it. That's what i am grateful for. Knowing perfect is hardly ever (except in the glossy magazines where life is staged anyway, and the perfect does not last) ... this is real life people and sometimes it's messy and a little up and down. And that's ok.

Wishing you a weekend of some tranquil moments in amidst the chaos. A little sunshine. A hot cup of coffee. A few glasses of sangria maybe. 

Cheers. x