A Garden for Danella

My apologies to the early birds who popped into Version 1 of this post. I could see the photos, everything looked good at my end, but it appears nobody else could. I tried to fix it, failed and had to take it down as I couldn’t work out why WP wouldn’t let you see my photos – so I started again. In doing that I lost the comments attached to the first version – but thank you for letting me know all was not as it should be. Fingers crossed it works this time!

Any hoo – here we go again………

Chrysalis

June 1st 2020: A month has passed.  Maybe even more.  Time telescopes, bends, flies, crawls, disappears, comes and goes.  Essentially it means very little to me these days.  Maybe it was so even before the days of the Great Pause arrived upon us all.  I confess, I’m no longer sure.

Danella’s Garden – Detail

I pass my days doing essentially the same things I have adopted as my life’s activities since I retired and became a lady of leisure. I create, I make, I talk, I visit, in reality again, or still virtually; I am quiet. I read, I walk, I think – maybe too much and not always kindly.  I am cross with myself about that – I’d rather be kind than not.  Yet I fail in my aspiration constantly.  But still, I am grateful and a little in awe of how a life unfolds and reflects back to what was and opens up to what could be.  There’s a kind of magic in this space we have been given.

Danella’s Garden – Detail

I am privileged and I recognise this every moment of every day.  And I am immensely grateful for where and how I am able to live.  And so, I make. Using Pinata Alcohol Inks, Blending Fluid and an air blower I played with colour and form so that my daughter could have a new arty layout on the wall above her sofa.  A Garden to inspire her during this darkest time of the year.

Danella’s Garden

And when all the pieces were chosen and the chosen pieces were framed up we spent quite some more time arranging and rearranging the hanging layout – until finally, it was declared done

Image may contain: indoor
The Garden in place May 2020

And while photographs and copies can never hold the depth and richness of the original pieces, if you like anything, please feel free to download a copy for your own use.

And finally, here is Siddy waiting patiently for the light to return.  Just three more weeks til the Winter Solstice here in the Riviera of Antarctica

Waiting May 20

Oh, and here – finally – really – just moments before he was at last able to visit his friends at MudPuppy and get a proper haircut.  Oh how happy we all were!

Shaggy Siddy May 20

I hope all the photos have been allowed to show for everyone this time. Please do let me know if you can’t view anything.

Thanks so much for coming by today, I’m so happy that you did.

Five Weeks in NZ LockDown

Here in Autumnal New Zealand we are preparing quite excitedly for a change in our national status. We are to move down ( or up, depending on how you view it) from Level 4 to Level 3 at 11.59 pm Monday 27th April. Five weeks after shutting the country down our leadership team thinks we can give a bit more physical freedom a shot. It’s not too much more than we have become almost used to – Level 3 has been variously described as ‘Level 3.9’ or ‘Level 4 with takeaways’.

We didn’t really have a chance to experience Level 3 as we progressed quite quickly from Level 1 (no pandemic) to Level 2 (cases of Covid19 being dealt with in hospitals) to a two day panic stricken, toilet paper buying frenzied Level 3 in preparation for the Level 4 national Lockdown to halt the spread of the pandemic that had entered our shores via international travellers returning home and visitors arriving and a cruise ship or two off loading infected tourists into our ports. As a country we travelled at lightening speed from a blase disbelief to an understanding that this was now a ball fairly placed in our court – we could pretend it wasn’t here or we could accept that it was and take full responsibility for halting the spread. We could as a nation ‘Stay Home’.

And we did – we stayed home! On the whole, as a nation of grown ups, we’ve handled this quite well. There’s always numpties and VII’s (Very Important Idiots) to contend with in life generally – they are here in times of crisis as well – they are a global pandemic all their own really – and despite them the rate of infection has dropped, there appears to be little or no community spread (I type that with my fingers crossed) and the deaths that have resulted are all from age care facilities where the virus snuck in undetected in the early days prior to the borders being closed. The tragedy of course has been that lockdown meant families could not be with their loved ones in their last days and funerals could not be conducted in the way those families would have wished. You have to be Class 1 VII not to be sobered by that simple fact.

A week into Lockdown and I decided to use some of my time productively and joined in with an on-line sketching and doodling group that came out of the UK. Some of you are aware my arty type mojo packed up and left a couple of years back and I’ve been on the whole completely unable to do anything more than make an endless array of greeting cards. With no confidence, no ability and no idea where to start this seemed like a good idea – at least this way I would pick up a pencil and follow some instructions on a daily basis and empty my mind of everything while I tracked the movement of said pencil on paper.

I’ve loved it – and I’m still doing it. It’s my dose of daily Zen. It keeps me sane and happy and cheerful. I was pleasantly surprised with how quickly I took an instruction and ran with it and in less than three weeks that elusive mojo was back sketching, drawing, colouring, creating ……

I woke late this morning and the room was light and filled with bird song. We had a warm and sunny walk and met several friends along the way – there is a more relaxed feel to everyone right now, a perhaps premature celebration that we might have found a way to overcome this thing….. Soon we hope to see an end to this lockdown, an easing of restrictions, the chance to meet a friend for coffee if we can get back to Level 2…. There is hope and therefore it seemed fitting that today felt like spring. I joined two neighbours and a passing friend on the street just now in the warm sun. It felt a little like a party with the dogs moving about freely and the adults a little easier on the physical distancing. We’ve all been in isolation for five weeks – there’s a common feeling we have nothing to pass on. And then there’s that sudden quiet moment, a brief pause and we make eye contact and hope we are right ……

When I shared this doodle on Facebook my friend Jan (The Snail of Happiness) in Wales attached this marvelous ditty from the late, great Spike Milligan

Smiling is infectious,
you catch it like the flu,
When someone smiled at me today,
I started smiling too.
I passed around the corner
and someone saw my grin.
When he smiled I realised
I’d passed it on to him.
I thought about that smile,
then I realised its worth.
A single smile, just like mine
could travel round the earth.
So, if you feel a smile begin,
don’t leave it undetected.
Let’s start an epidemic quick,
and get the world infected!

Let’s pass on the good kind of infection – a smile, a kind word, a happy dance. Be your own vaccination and raise your immunity with positivity, hope and kindness. If I might misquote the great Mahatma ‘Be the change you want to see’ ………….

Thanks so much for coming by today, I love that you did.

Creating Interrupted

I’m currently packing up my house for the re-building work that has to take place thanks to a sneaky, slow leaking hot water cylinder that has rotted out a large part of the floors in the utility rooms and possibly further areas as yet unidentified.

Several large and burly men from different trades have been through to identify their part in the reconstruction and renovation required. Almost all of them have stamped a big burly boot somewhere on the floor causing further collapse to occur, making it increasingly difficult for me to negotiate my way through my tiny house without twisting an ankle or inadvertently going completely upside down .

We won’t discuss here the amount of stress this has all caused, but we can celebrate the fact that Siddy, Orlando and I get a holiday with our dear Danella. None of us is sure how her kitty George will handle this influx, but time will tell.

George

Due to the need to move things from places of immediate danger – and the original idea that work would be started some four weeks ago – my makings room has been untenable for that amount of time. I rummaged through though and I’ve packed up a large amount of painting/crafting gear, a change of clothes and all the food, toys and etcetera that the furry chaps might need and we move on out today.

I found this as I was sorting through – it’s my version of Yoda in his forest. One of the few photos I’ve remembered to take of work in progress – it’s a bit blurry 🙂

The weather has been worse this summer than last – but here is a pic from a walk we took one day when the wind wasn’t howling and the rain had yet to tumble down

Taking the High Road Feb 2020

I don’t think I’ll be posting here much, but I am on Instagram as ‘contentedcrafter’ if you want to see what might go up there as the days pass by. I’d love you to join me there.

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you do!

Surprise!!

Hello, hello!!  Are you still there?  Here I am – it’s only been four months and a couple or so weeks ….. Life got in the way of blogging, things happened, we got through it all and now I’m even back making again. 

Siddy is visiting his second favourite place today. He’s up at MudPuppy for his monthly beauty treatment and play date with his girls. My car is in the hospital having its own spa treatment and I have a whole day to myself.  So I thought I’d pop by and get this show on the road again.

While I’ve been gone I spent a couple of weeks sifting and sorting through my makings room.  I found stuff tucked away in drawers and cupboards and boxes that I never used because I couldn’t see them.  When you are a crafter it’s important to have the supplies out where you can see them isn’t it.  I discovered I have so much stuff it was overwhelming and I scarce knew where to begin.  I decided to start slow, to work my way through my stamp collection and to use as many supplies as humanly possible while I did so…….

Starting slow.  

A card for a friend who is plagued by lagomorphs in her garden plot.  I have a wicked and mean sense of humour and just wanted to send her something cute to alleviate her garden angst ……  She may not appreciate it, but I think it’s hilarious.  If you follow Lisa over at  https://arlingwords.wordpress.com you’ll know what I’m referring to.   (Good heavens, what’s happened to my ability to link to blogs?)

I’m still making starry night sky backgrounds – they are satisfying way of playing with all kinds of inks and sparkly stuff, there are bunny dies and word dies and that leafy surround is also a die.  Finished off with some faux grass I found tucked away in a drawer

Not a card, a pen and ink and glitter making for an old client who needs some cheering. It measures 24 x 21 cm.

Llamas have replaced owls as my new fad for fun cards. I started with plain Llamas and dressed them up. One stamp, two cards ……….

This first one is an A4 card, Ms Llama sports a jaunty turban, stylish neckwear and a begemmed blanket and the card is strewn with gold leaf flakes and various sparkly facets that add to the necessary gorgeousness of it all.

The second, a smaller A5 card utilised some of the shiny cardstock in the stash, a larger turban and just as much bling

I think 2020 is going to be a year of sparkle and bling…….

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did.

Catching Up in September

Well hello there – it’s been a while hasn’t it.  Two months since my last post and I’m amazed that there are still new folk following and liking and even reading – thank you so much and welcome, I’m very happy you are all here  🙂

So, please bear with and I’ll give you a quick catch-up and then it’s done and we won’t refer to it ever again.  And if you just want to see what I’ve been making, just scroll down past all these many words to the photos – I won’t mind at all.

Because I have to admit this past winter has been a tough one for me – you know we have times when it’s not all roses and lollipops even though there seems to be no particular reason for it being that way.  So it was this winter.  It’s not that it was particularly cold – it wasn’t. July was the warmest on record and while I don’t know yet about August, the icy Antarctic winds that hit were pretty chilly, so maybe that lowered temps overall.  It wasn’t particularly wet either, no flooding so far this year.  But it was grey, endlessly grey and I don’t do well without blue skies and sunlight.  I simply felt extremely tired and unmotivated.

And it was a shock when my dearest and oldest friend, an active and robustly healthy woman, was abruptly diagnosed with breast cancer and had a radical mastectomy.  (So far so good, she has radiation treatment beginning soon, we feel positive!)

And then there was the personal issues going on.  I have a heart issue, it’s nothing new I’ve had it for over twenty years and I manage it very well usually. But it gave me some problems in the lead up to my significant birthday earlier this month and for a while I doubted I was going to make it – but then I did.  So that was good!  🙂 I have an excellent homeopath and she helped me get to the root cause and cleared the path to recovery with well prescribed therapies and I got on and did my own personal therapy.  I had lost my last surviving sibling, my next youngest brother abruptly, five days after my last birthday.  I found I was still mourning him and mourning all that we had, all five of us, gone through together.  I was/am literally, the last one standing to bear witness.  I had to let it all go, it was time. So, that’s my work and I’m doing it.

On top of all this I was having ongoing issues with being online – such a first world problem!! it was I thought initially, an issue with my wireless keyboard.  So aged and well used the letters had all disappeared from the keys and typing was done by guesswork alone.  It’s connection was erratic and odd things happened when I was online so a new keyboard was purchased.  But the issue got worse.  I announced to whoever was listening in at the time that Google Chrome was about to be replaced by a more reliable search engine – and voila!  An announcement that an urgent update and reboot was imminent was delivered on-screen within minutes and all has been well ever since.  You can’t tell me there isn’t a little man living in there listening to my every word  🙂

I celebrated my seventieth birthday quietly, in the company of my delightful daughters and with welcome interactions with friends both nearby and far away.  It was a lovely way to spend a few days and I was quietly pleased that I had broken another immediate inherited taboo – that of living past the age of 69.  Onwards and upwards!

So, that’s the catch up.  Everything is fine and better than fine and spring is here.  Despite all the challenges and the lack of painting, I have sometimes mucked about with inks and pencils and stamps and dies and made some bits and bobs.  I even did some card designing and worked away with greater and lesser success at some Christmas cards.  If you have a favourite do let me know….

(PS I don’t know why I always have a shadow at the bottom of the photos – clearly I’m doing something wrong, but can’t figure out what – so once again apologies for the less than stellar photography level and if you have a tip I’d be grateful if you wanted to share it)

I started with some luggage tags.  I like these, they are fun and make great gifts.

I had purchased some dies and played around with them. The idea is to use my own papers as backings, only one is in use in this trial collection

Next it was time to start designing this years Christmas card. I started with not a lot of a clue – but thought the one on the left which uses a die of Santa and his favourite reindeer had potential

This came next

Swiftly followed by

Then I threw in a bit of Siddy with offerings

And finally, a couple of days ago I thought I’d better get Santa up off his butt and into the air

It’s a bit meh! but you never know where it will lead. And I have some more to show you too – but it’s been a long catch-up. So I’ll save my favourites for next time. If you stuck with me, thank you. Now, how about you, how are you? How’s things at your place, do share – and if I’ve missed anything, I hope to be popping in soon to catch up.

Oh, and just in case you need a bit of cute – here’s Siddy and his favourite reindeer wondering if anybody mentioned ‘elevenses’ ………………

And as always, thanks so much for coming by, I love that you did!

ScrapHappy July: Paper Scraps

I really love this scrap happy thing! I don’t always join in, in fact this is only the second time I’ve made it – but I often finish things as a result of seeing what comes by………..

Two days ago, in search of something else, I emptied a pile of papers from my scrap drawer and searching through the leftover-unfinished-discarded pieces

I unearthed these – all patched up and ready to go

paper patchwork

I remembered finding these left over papers – years old – and thinking them terribly unattractive had been about to consign them to the bin when I decided to challenge myself and make ’em into something useful. I’d cut and layered and patched and doodled and still not really liked them very much. Then I’d had a wee flash from ye olde lightbulb and whipped out some black card and white lacy washi tape and voila! You can tart dress anything up with a bit of lace can’t you? But then they had been consigned back into the drawer again, covered over with succeeding layers of half finished items, discarded left overs and assorted bits and bobs…….

Feeling rather pleased with this find and knowing ScrapHappy was due, I decided to finish off these poor neglected scraps. Barely half an hour later, three notecards and one greeting card completed

Perfect for a patchworker or quilter or seamstress or anybody really. And I was so pleased when I put together that sentiment on the greeting card – it’s a universal metaphor isn’t it?

Join in with Kate and all the other ScrapHappy artisans here or just go look, admire and be inspired.

Thanks for coming by today, I’m so happy that you did!

Vivid Colours

I was asked by a shop owner recently to bring in some of my work as she had heard of it and was interested in offering some for sale.  She gave a glowing description of how she loves to support local artists and has several whose works move swiftly through her shop.

So, a few days ago, I packaged up a range of cards and small art pieces and took them in. I laid a few of the cards in front of her – leaving more cards and all of the artwork in my bag. She swept her hand through the examples and said “No, these aren’t what I sell – too vivid.”

The viewing took maybe five seconds.

I gathered up the rejected work and put them back in my bag.  I didn’t offer her any more to look at and she didn’t ask to see them.

The impeccably attired, ochre clad shop owner then showed me through her little boutique, stuffed to the gunnels with imports from the UK and Asia in varying hues of beige and grey.   Amongst the neutral and impeccably exhibited artifacts sat the odd single hued floral jug. Small, ochre and grey prints in large frames with exorbitant price tags hung from the wall and fine scarves in shades of grey and beige with equally exorbitant price tags were neatly folded and stacked alongside matching, finely spun woollen driving gloves.  Some charmingly autumn hued cushions were stacked on a chair by the front entrance. When I asked where the work of the local artists was I was shown a few small printed ochre and brown greeting cards made by a university student. 

I saw very clearly why my work wasn’t her style, but did rather wonder why she had ever shown any interest.

We are all different and that is a good thing. The world would be a boring place if we were all the same, wouldn’t it? But I left wondering what it must be like to live in a world of dun neutrals and to be unable to even consider a colourful card.

Back home, I rifled through the examples I had packaged up for her and glumly regretted my wasted morning.

It took me a few minutes, but then I remembered that not only does playing with colour make me happy, but I have Marlene (#1 Fan) and all my other friends who applaud loudly from the sidelines and now and again offer valuable feedback.  Plus of course I have an unending supply of cards I can send off for birthdays, holidays and other celebrations. 

I marched myself back into my art room and spent a happy couple of hours making some more highly unsuitable vividly coloured art cards.   Hey ho!!

Oh well, that last one is a bit of a bust! A lot of a bust if I’m being honest. Overcrowded, overworked ….. And really! I don’t know why I decided to go doodle crazy with a white pen – but then, it was my last hurrah at the end of a long and somewhat trying day!

So, okay, let me leave you with this one then, today’s effort features Orlando

So tell me, when choosing cards do you look for more colour or less colour? Do you choose plain or intricate designs, are you attracted to Hallmark or local artisans work? There is no right or wrong answer and I don’t mind hearing if you don’t even like any or all what I’ve shown here – I’m just really interested in your thoughts. And thank you for sharing them!