Wild Pink Flower

Houses Tiny Worlds

Can you paint grumpiness into joy?

Wild Pink Flower Houses Tiny Little Worlds

The microscopic transformations

of making one small picture

ripple through the pages of personhood,

radiating ever outwards.

Grumpy. Tired. Hyper-vigilant.

Stray shreds of tissue. Let’s make a beautiful flower with spiral centre. 

Oh no! It’s a grumpy tired spider flower.

Bright. Too bright.

Spiky. Too spiky.

Art doesn’t lie.

Can’t let the world see me like this.

Too Bright. Too Spiky.
Art Doesn’t Lie.

Paint over, paint over.

Paint pink, white, gold.

Vigorous. Begin to feel better, calmer. Practise the art of upliftment.

But it’s pretty. Too pretty. Sweet. Too sweet.

Pretty It Up

During creative community pod gathering, add pre-painted magazine page.

Viscous, white on shiny, black paper.

Define, strengthen, re-introduce the truth.

Bring substance and depth.

Friend says, ‘I can see tiny little worlds behind the petals’.

Bring in the black and white. The spine. The substance.

Later. Black fine-liner. Scribble, scrawl with restless, artful purpose.

Red oil crayon. Swirl firm spiral centre. Scrape side across the raised dry tissue texture. Feel the old skin and know what’s beneath.

Voila.

Rough and smooth.

Concealed and revealed.

Authentic layers of life.

Joy.

Wild Pink Flower Houses Tiny Little Worlds

(Here’s another Tiny Worlds post.)

with love, art and soul from Sally

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When Life Gives You Lemons,

Make Lemon Art.

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemon Art
Sally Swain © art

That’s right.

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemon Art

This is my new saying.

I’ve lemon-twisted the old phrase,

‘When Life Gives You Lemons,

Make Lemonade’.

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemon Art
rip the fabric
place it on the little square canvas

The revised axiom, the paintage creation, arose from a lemony situation. Not that there’s anything wrong with lemons. Just as there’s nothing wrong with pear shapes. Indeed, I prefer lemons to lemonade…and they are so much more healing.

Let’s reclaim fruit beauty. Let’s reclaim our lives from the sour times.

(an earlier post including pear-shaped delight)

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemon Art
glue it down
adore the frayed threads

But if we are talking lemons as in bitter, difficult times,

Continue reading

Disencumbering and Strange Divinations

Does this capture creativity for you?

bird moon art therapy

Night Flying Work
Sally Swain © original art

I reckon the following quote from Salley Vickers’ ‘Mr Golightly’s Holiday’ is a great galumphing grandulous ode to the joy and depth of therapeutic creativity.

Anyone who has ever felt exquisitely transported by an act of creativity, please read. Art therapists or would-be art therapists, please read. Those who aspire to paint, write, moosh clay or sing rhythms for self-care, nourishment or release, please read. If you are up for a poetic description of the healing, transformative power of art-making, please read.

Are you ready?

bird boat art watercolour

Bird and Boat
Sally Swain © original art
teeny watercolour in journal

She,

in her nightdress, stood at her easel in the garden, painting birds in the flowing, dappling light. In her mind, they flew upward … ever onward and upward, into unimagined stratospheres, where time and space dissolved into the limitless aether beyond.

 

She had thrown down the burden and now the birds lifted her, out of the little doom of irrelevance, the awful terror, the state of huddle which had cramped and hurt her. Never had she felt so clear, so free of polluting distractions.

bird paint collage

Blue Bird O’Clock
play-in-progress3
Sally Swain © original art

As she painted, she found that whatever jarred she could at once paint out – and this too, this editing process, this disencumbering, peaceable eliding, which she did without thought but without regret either – it was remarkable how it seemed to be cutting the strings which had entangled and bound her, loosed her free to be whatever it was she was to be.

 

With no sense of where she was going, or what was proper to this enterprise, she followed her inclination, which was, mostly, to remove and excise, to take out.

Passionwing acrylic painting grief art

Passionwing
Sally Swain © original art

Yes, she was softly rubbing things out as she stood there, her needs, her desperations, her inclinations, all were disappearing – till she was left, footless and featureless, bodiless, almost, with only the strange divinations of the birds to speak for her.

 

The ancient soothsayers looked to birds for auguries – the birds upon the wing were the flexion of her soul.

From ‘Mr Golightly’s Holiday’ by Salley Vickers

bird painting Swain

Smiling Bird
Sally Swain © original art
fragment on calico

A friend brought a book along to a café, opened it up at page 219 and read the entire quote out loud. She knew it would lure and captivate me. I wasn’t even sure of the meanings of fancy words such as ‘eliding’ or ‘flexion’, but hell, it sounded good, right and true.

watercolour woman wings

Wing-ear woman
Sally Swain © original art
little watercolour painting from art journal, created while listening on the phone

And you?

{I really must figure out how to ongoingly link this blog to my Art and Soul e-newsletter. Sometimes I am stumped by the most basic tecchy stuff. Here’s an invitation to Creative Flame and Fortune on Saturday 13th July. It’d be a delight to see you there. Bookings essential.}

with love, art and soul
from Sally

bird art Swain

A Random Sally Heartbird

Exquisite Level of Care

How are you

at balancing

other-care with self-care?

Is it a bit of a challenge?

A lot of a challenge?

A Dementia Australia counsellor told me that I offer an ‘exquisite level of care’.

I breathed in the fine compliment. I breathed out a delicately complex response, including a watercolour-plus-collage artwork – a paintage.

I’m showing you the pretty bits and leaving out the grisly ones. Ah yes well. Sometimes it’s a grisly process, this caring palaver.

Exquisite Level of Care
art fragment
Sally Swain

Here’s the question of the day (or year or lifetime):

How might we apply

an Exquisite Level of Care

to ourselves!?

Last weekend I led ‘Nourish and Flourish – the Art of Self-Care’. It was my first Art and Soul playshop in a while. Why? Because I’ve been caught up in eldercare.

Nourish and Flourish was delicious.

Nourish and Flourish
the Art of Self-Care
playshop participants
making heartfelt, gorgeous, authentic art

Nourish and Flourish
the Art of Self-Care
playshop participants
making heartfelt, gorgeous, authentic art

What sorts of things happened in the playshop?

I invited participants to consider…if their care for OTHERS had a colour, shape, texture, sound, title … for this moment … what might it be?

If their SELF care for this moment had a colour, shape, texture, sound, title, how would that look and feel?

Participants wrote or made art in response to this contemplation.

What else?

They each chose a miniature from the sandplay collection to represent their ally or companion on the journey.

We heard different individual self-care strategies. We pooled them. They range from dancing to reading with a cat on your lap; surfing to spending time with friends; saying No to having a massage.

Nourish and Flourish
the Art of Self-Care
a playshop participant
making heartfelt, gorgeous, authentic art

Nourish and Flourish
the Art of Self-Care
a playshop participant
making heartfelt, gorgeous, authentic art

We did a walking sensory awareness meditation. We sipped tea. We ate chocolate. Or healthy stuff, as the case may be.

The dear participants

each made art, art and more art.

They found ways to nourish themselves

in the process of making art about self-care. 

It was a treat for me to host these splendid Art and Soulies; exploring, playing, being authentic, expressing joys and difficulties, beautifully showing kindness and insight as they offered positive feedback to one another.

Nourish and Flourish
the Art of Self-Care
a playshop participant
making heartfelt, gorgeous, authentic art

Nourish and Flourish
the Art of Self-Care
a playshop participant
making heartfelt, gorgeous, authentic art

Gratitude. I feel gratitude.


I do believe the next Art and Soul offering

is probably Saturday 13th July.

Most likely it’ll be

the annual ‘Creative Flame’ playshop.

Maybe see you there.

with love, art and soul

from Sally

Exquisite Level of Care
art fragment
Sally Swain

We are Stepping Stones

We are community

We are Stepping Stones
We are Community

If you are feeling sad, scared, angry,
dispirited, devastated, disgusted,
please know you are not alone.

‘We are Stepping Stones.
We are Community.’

Who knew the little picture I painted yesterday,
alongside two art therapist pals, would resonate today?

You take one step at a time.
The stones are in the water.
You take one step at a time.
The water separates, connects, flows, nourishes.
You take one step at a time.
Each stone has space around it, yet is close to others.
You take one step at at a time.
You do not fall in the water.
You do not drown.

Who knows what is beyond this picture?
You take one step at a time.
For the moment, you are not alone.

Thank you for reading this, Art and Soul Space friend.

It was an aftermath expression from the recent Australian election weekend.

I share it with you with the intention of inspiring connection, hope, creativity, community.

In the words of a speaker on a post-election

Australian Conservation Foundation video,

‘Take time to grieve, reflect and connect….

Connect with your community, rest and recharge.

We’re really going to need you.

We need to look after each other so that we can be dangerous together’.

Here’s a link to a post-election article from the wise Stephanie Dowrick

Feel free to voice your responses.

with love, art and soul
from Sally

I can’t get enough of this

The Light at the End of the Tree Tunnel

image.

It was love at first sight.

The Light at the End of the Tree Tunnel

The Light at the End of the Tree Tunnel magicked itself into my vision.

The Light at the End of the Tree Tunnel

A couple of months back, down the south coast, I followed the signs to a beach I hadn’t previously explored.

The pathway had always been there, ten minutes walk away from the campground cabin, but to me, it was a hidden Secret Garden-like treasure.

The Light at the End of the Tree Tunnel

I was captivated by the soft, bushy archway of trees travelling down to the sea.

Was it a near-death experience? Perhaps, as this was indeed the light at the end of the tunnel. Even better, the tunnel itself was exquisite. I was bowled over by beauty, as well as bountiful metaphors.

Tell me your perceptions, please.

And now to continue the recent theme of art founded on tree-plus-female-human, here’s a sequence I wish to share with you.

(see a couple of tree-girl-rich posts from recent times…

Sustenance…..Tree Girl.…..)

Tree Perch Girl
initial watercolour playtime

Let’s look at the creative development of a teeny picture, once again inspired by the new year’s Ruby-in-tree photo.

Tree Perch Girl
I attempt to soften the brightness with white paint

Guess what?

Tree Perch Girl
I add collage – paintage

Somehow the girl-in-tree

has combined with

the archway shape

to form this picture.

Tree Perch Girl
I return to the paintage much later to strengthen it

I see tree.

I see girl-woman. I see softness, strength, colour, life, sitting in spirituality.

Tree Perch Girl
the archway, the inverted heart, the candle flame, the sanctuary….it becomes blue, gorgeous rich ultramarine blue

What do you see or feel?

with love, art and soul

from Sally

Climate Hope?

We see

the devastating effects of climate change.

We are beginning to know

climate grief, anxiety, loss, despair.

Is climate hope possible?

It’s the Ides of March. I attend the School Strike 4 Climate in Sydney.

My body propels me there.

The soul

of my being

ignites me

to join the throng of passionate youth.

School Strike 4 Climate
March, 2019 in Sydney

It is a privilege. I am moved.

John Lennon’s Imagine plays over the sound system. Thousands sing along. Those who know the song best are the mainly older women supporting the mainly younger women who form the phalanx, the guts, the heart, the mass movement.

School Strike 4 Climate
Sydney in March, 2019

How can I not cry, given the presence of considered, compassionate youthful force, coupled with That Song? Lucky I’m not the mother or grandmother of a self-conscious teen, as my river of tears pours down, down, into our damaged earth.

My thirteen year old self would have said, ‘How embarrassing’, and shrunk behind a rock.

However, self-consciousness doesn’t appear to dominate the scene.

School Strike 4 Climate
Sydney in March, 2019

Amazing, inspiring young women such as Jean Hinchliffe, age fifteen, host the huge rally and speak with extraordinary clarity and strength.

They are the sensible ones.

They are the alert, proactive, reality-based ones.

School Strike 4 Climate
Sydney in March, 2019

The old, right, white, male politicians? The new old Roman emperors who loll and bumble on their hot beds of greed, corruption and inaction? Or even take retrograde, destructive, willful action on a large scale?

School Strike 4 Climate
Sydney in March, 2019

Do they care?

Do they care about the world, or not-world, they are leaving for their progeny?

School Strike 4 Climate
Sydney in March, 2019

I won’t bang on. This is Art and Soul Space, after all. A place of light, but deep sharing of creative connection.

Meaningful creative connection

permeates the rally.

School Strike 4 Climate
Sydney in March, 2019

See Jean’s TEDx talk here. Her talk begins after about 25 minutes of proceedings.

As she says, she and her colleagues

might be too young to vote,

but they are not too young to take action.

See an article by Mary Robinson (ex-president of Ireland) here. Climate Change Denial is Evil.

See Artists and Climate Change blog site here.

School Strike 4 Climate
Sydney in March, 2019

And the thousands of young women and men, the school children? They are considerate and polite, as well as fierce.

School Strike 4 Climate
Sydney in March, 2019

Listen…

What is that sound?

Could it?

No, surely not. Could it be

the tinkle, the rustle, the whisper

of Climate Hope?

School Strike 4 Climate
Sydney in March, 2019

with love, art and soul
from Sally

The Anti Polo Melted Chocolate Art Captain Society

provided the most fun I’ve had in ages. The sort of fun that includes getting the giggles. Uncontrollably. Even if you are sixty. Let’s travel back to early January.

Five of us arrive from far-flung corners of the country, meeting at a gorgeous Sydney harbour pool.

There’s Jennie my sister, Ruby my twelve year old niece, Marg my friend and colleague and Tara her thirteen year old daughter.

creative play group pictre

The Anti Polo Melted Chocolate Art Captain Society
combined picture by Ruby, Tara, Marg, Jennie and Sally (in order from youngest to oldest)

The swimming’s done. It’s time for art. We have watercolour Brilliants, waterbrushes, pens and five small pieces of paper.

Shall we do a group project?

Will it be a serious reflection on the year that was, or a visioning for the new year? No. We opt for non-serious.

Tara suggests a paint-a-bit-and-pass-it-on process.

You fold your page into five sections. You start with the head of a person, animal or hitherto undiscovered creature, then fold it over so it’s invisible. The next person, uses the reference marks you made to paint the neck and shoulders of a creature onto the next fold. And so on.

creative play joy painting

The Anti Polo Melted Chocolate Art Captain Society
combined picture by Ruby, Tara, Marg, Jennie and Sally (in order from youngest to oldest)

Then

Continue reading

Tiny New Worlds

Caregiver Art

tiny world art Swain

Tiny New Worlds
Sally Swain © art

Where did we leave off? 

rock pool sand scribble

Scribble Life

At the lap lap sound of the sea. At the miniature plein air studio, making miniature self-soothing art. Where we parted two weeks ago was in the place where art, nature and self-care meet. (see Art and Emotional Labour)

plein air studio

plein air studio

Since then,

I have supported a close elderly relative

to move to a deeper level of aged care,

into a tiny new world.

 

I easily love a tiny new world, when

Continue reading