Creative Cartonia

You can make art from anything

It dawned on me to paint on cardboard food packaging.

I love it.

What’s not to enjoy?

preparing a Dilmah tea carton surface for painting

You’re recycling, if not upcycling, your ordinary dry goods boxes – objects you take for granted; that you might not normally notice.

Par Avion
Sally Swain art
this is what became of the Dilmah tea box

You have a ready-made painting surface. Just add white acrylic paint and maybe some tissue.

Organic WeetBix box ready to paint

You have irregular shapes and edges. Very fitting for this strange, strange world we inhabit. I’ve always nudged and butted against the perfect, symmetrical, 2-D art rectangle.

Who says it should be so?

Freedom
Sally Swain art
created on Rainbow Chai packaging

You have readymade wordy backgrounds without having to do the actual collage.

Organic Grief
Sally Swain art
created while listening to a friend grappling with grief

You can ponder the object of the flattened box itself – its design – the approach to advertising; what qualities of the product are emphasised. You are making a creative deconstruction – a meditation on consumerism.

Dots
What supports my Creative Wellness?
The dots that are already there.
Sally Swain art
painted on polka dot tissue box
while running Creative Wellspring playshop

Weet Bix cereal, Dilmah tea, Rainbow Chai, tacos, alfoil, a polka-dot tissue box.

Most of these pieces

emerged during phone or Zoom conversations.

They are a small selection.

Safe Place
Sally Swain art
created during phone conversation on a small fragment of polka dot tissue box

None of them is finished.

I am not sure yet whether to attach them to sticks to hang them, or to stitch them onto fabric, or umm to glue them to actual canvas. I’m not sure whether to combine some of them – kind of reconstructing the cartons.

What do you think?

with love, art and soul

from Sally

David Swain’s Lyric Life?

I was lucky. I had a good variety of Dad.

A Lifelong Process
from One Thing and Another
David Swain

It’s Father’s Day this weekend in Oz. We are being encouraged to buy buy buy. Wearing our Covid-safe masks, we queue at acceptable distance out the door of the post office.

If we have a Dad, that is. If we have a Dad who is still alive and craving a pair of socks or a power tool, who resides far away.

That was not my Dad.

If there were any commodities he was into, it was musty secondhand books. He was more into creativity, kindness, humour and people. Lucky for me, he  made all the time in the world for his family of women. My Mum, my sister and myself. Oh and Isabel and Soxy the cats when they were alive.

Dad died ten years ago. I sometimes share bits and bobs of his creations. Here’s a link to some of those previous David Swain mentions.

And what a legacy of inspiration!

Here’s a glimpse of one of his books I haven’t shared much before…

One Thing and Another
David Swain
my Dad

One Thing and Another. A selection of ten years of cartoon and verse from his weekly column in the Canberra Times.

The prophecy game
from One Thing and Another
David Swain

I know my Dad was rare for his times. Rare at any time. So I think of you with compassion if you had a less than lovely father.

I send

some David Swain delight

your way.

One of my all-time favourites of Dad’s cartoons
from One Thing and Another

And here’s a poem that my Dad gave to a neighbour years ago. The ex-neighbour found the poem on a scrunched-up, nearly thrown-out scrap of fax paper. Fax paper! Faded but not forgotten. She photographed it and PM’d me. Aww.

Bondi Sonnet
David Swain
gifted to a neighbour, which was the sort of kindly creative gesture my Dad would make

In case you can’t read the Faded-but-not-Forgotten Fax:

BONDI SONNET

IF GOD EXISTS

I CANNOT SAY

BUT DO KNOW WHAT

I HEAR TODAY

FROM BONDI BIRDS

CALLING ‘O-K-A-A-Y’

IN DRAWN-OUT NOTES

OF NEAT DESIGN

PLUS SOUND LIKE ‘BOMP’

TO END EACH LINE

OF LYRIC LIFE

TILL MOST AGREE

THAT KNOCK-OFF TIME’S

AT HALF-PAST THREE 

David Swain and his Lyric Life?
He started out as a cheeky Cockney barrow boy. When he was sixteen, a headline in a local paper pronounced him London’s youngest greengrocer. (That’s what you do to keep the family afloat when your own father dies).

In the early 1970s, he initiated Australia’s first professional writing degree.

And there he was late in life, sitting at his desk in the flat with the view of Bondi Beach, wondering at squawky rainbow lorikeets and modern fax machines, slowly heading towards dementia and decline, still writing.

What a journey. What a Dad.

with love, art and soul
from Sally

What got you through?

FoRest

FoRest participatory community artwork
Sally Swain
with Older Women’s Network/ Newtown Wellness Centre
What got you through the year?

What helped you rest and recharge in 2019?

FoRest participatory community artwork
Sally Swain
with Older Women’s Network/ Newtown Wellness Centre
What got you through the year?

What sustained you, even through difficult times?

FoRest participatory community artwork
Sally Swain
with Older Women’s Network/ Newtown Wellness Centre
What got you through the year?

FoRest participatory community artwork
Sally Swain
with Older Women’s Network/ Newtown Wellness Centre
What got you through the year?

What elements of sustenance would you like to carry with you into 2020?

FoRest participatory community artwork
Sally Swain
with Older Women’s Network/ Newtown Wellness Centre
What got you through the year?

FoRest

I created a participatory community installation.

FoRest participatory community artwork
Sally Swain
with Older Women’s Network/ Newtown Wellness Centre
What got you through the year?

FoRest participatory community artwork
Sally Swain
with Older Women’s Network/ Newtown Wellness Centre
What got you through the year?

Here’s the blurb that went on the wall next to the artwork.

FoRest

was conceived, created and coordinated by Sally Swain

with the Older Women’s Network and

Newtown Wellness Centre community.

Fallen branches were gradually gathered from Kangaroo Valley, Nielsen Park, Annandale and Forest Lodge.

 

They were assembled into the FoRest sculpture during the 2019 bushfire emergency, when swathes of forest – plants and animals –

were lost around Australia.

 

Participants were invited to consider what helps bring them rest or sustenance, then to express this on leaf shapes

to attach to the branches.

FoRest participatory community artwork
Sally Swain
with Older Women’s Network/ Newtown Wellness Centre
What got you through the year?

FoRest participatory community artwork
Sally Swain
with Older Women’s Network/ Newtown Wellness Centre
What got you through the year?

FoRest participatory community artwork
Sally Swain
with Older Women’s Network/ Newtown Wellness Centre
What got you through the year?

Let’s together

FoRest participatory community artwork
Sally Swain
with Older Women’s Network/ Newtown Wellness Centre
What got you through the year?

build

creative community

FoRest participatory community artwork
Sally Swain
with Older Women’s Network/ Newtown Wellness Centre
What got you through the year?

FoRest participatory community artwork
Sally Swain
with Older Women’s Network/ Newtown Wellness Centre
What got you through the year?

to sustain ourselves,

each other and the earth.

FoRest participatory community artwork
Sally Swain
with Older Women’s Network/ Newtown Wellness Centre
What got you through the year?

FoRest participatory community artwork
Sally Swain
with Older Women’s Network/ Newtown Wellness Centre
What got you through the year?

FoRest participatory community artwork
Sally Swain
with Older Women’s Network/ Newtown Wellness Centre
What got you through the year?

FoRest participatory community artwork
Sally Swain
with Older Women’s Network/ Newtown Wellness Centre
What got you through the year?

FoRest participatory community artwork
Sally Swain
with Older Women’s Network/ Newtown Wellness Centre
What got you through the year?

So….what got YOU through?

What might continue to sustain you?

with love, art and soul

from Sally

PS In the vein

of sustain

of Sally Swain
Art and Soul Space

will not race

to post

the most.
At least until June, I intend to shift posting from fortnightly to the first Friday of each month. Reluctantly, I say au revoir until Friday 7th February. I look forward to hanging out with you again then.
If you wish to stay in the Arty Soulful loop, there’s always

the Art and Soul e-newsletter (just contact me to subscribe) or

Sally Swain Art on Facebook.

Creature Conversations

Creature Conversations
Sally Swain art

Who knew these little winged beings would emerge?

I admit I’m rather fond of them.

Creature Conversations was created over four separate chats with fabulous art therapists. I found it an intriguing way to approach art-making – keeping one piece going over several different exchanges.

Conversation one
with the Dotties – an art therapist peer support group I am blessed to have in my life.

Laying down tissue,

adding paint,

gently watching

the watercolour run,

seep,

move across the mini-landscape

Creature Conversations
Sally Swain art
One

Conversation two
It turns out a respected, experienced art therapist is seeking me out for supervision. I am honoured.

Surrounding,

linking

background colours appear.

I spread out.

Creature Conversations
Sally Swain art
Two

Conversation three
with my lovely colleague about Leaf-by-Leaf project possibilities. We spark. We are dually inspired.

I look at the picture so far.

I see blobs and shapes

that could be little critters.

I draw them forth with texta.

First, a butterfly.

Then a winged cat.

This is truly fun.

Creature Conversations
Sally Swain art
Three

Conversation four

in which a colleague generously listens to what’s been happening in my world. She helps me reconnect with the ground of being.

Earth swirls appear.

Lightly.

Yes – the whole thing is watery,

yet

I have a sense of earth and sky.
It’s elemental.

Creature Conversations
Sally Swain art
Four

Do you

ever make art

while on the phone?

Creature Conversations
Sally Swain art

Oh yeah – I am not great at figuring out how to link up my social media stuff, but I recently joined Instagram. I’m artandsoul.sally . Creature Conversations appears Instagramatically.

with love, art and soul
Sally

Teacup Galaxy

Ruby specialises in galaxies.

Galaxy of Ruby Brilliant

Watercolour shapes and galaxies.

Delicate pastel watercolour shapes with fluid interiors and defined edges…

and galaxies.

Teacup and Galaxy
Jennie and Ruby
mother/child art

Niece Ruby is thirteen. She’s found her artist medium and content. For now.

The labour of love,

the neural pathway-powering concentration,

the exquisite immersion in detail.

The calm, the absorption, the creativity, the flow.

Not for her the formulaic, dehydrated art education on offer in many early high school classes.

For her, the uniqueness of it.

The specific layering of materials.

Watercolour brilliants, an aquabrush, a facial tissue, some glue, a white pen.

It doesn’t take much space to be a slender thirteen year old expanding ever-outwards into interplanetary dream play. 

Her mum adds a teacup, an earth, a teapot. Ruby decorates it.

Teacup, Earth and Galaxy
Ruby and Jen
mother/child art

I come in,

Continue reading

Glee

How does art make you feel?
Viewing it, I mean.

My true confession? I don’t go to too many exhibitions. I should. I’d like to. I just don’t.

Mostly,

I prefer to MAKE art

or to witness other people

(often those who don’t see themselves as artists)

make art.

I guess I’m a good match for my very own Art and Soul practice, where I get to witness AND facilitate. 

Cartonography FNQ
Sean Rafferty

I chanced upon The National exhibition in Sydney at Carriageworks
earlier in the year.

I noticed an abundance of installations, groupings of similar objects. Can’t think of the specific name for that type of work. 

Who knew there were so many styles of banana box?
Cartonography FNQ just made me feel plain happy.

Cartonography FNQ
Sean Rafferty
The National

A Sorcerer’s Dress obliged me to explore, inspect, discover. It activated my inner tactility. And spoke to my spiritual nature. 

A Sorcerer’s Dress    detail
Clare Peake
The National

Months later, I saw more of The National. This time at Art Gallery of NSW.
There were more installation groupings of similar stuff. I still couldn’t think of the name of that type of work, but I liked a lot of it. Koji Ryui’s glassy work touched my beauty nerve.

TOT
Koji Ryui
The National

TOT
Koji Ryui

Another grouped glass found objects sculpture brought glazed glimmers of beauty, expansion, possibility…

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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,

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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

Are you a Worry Warrior?

I mean someone who worries well and worries often.

Worry is my Special Power. 

Did you know that about me? Many people don’t guess. They think I’m calm and confident. That’s maybe because do my special intense worrying in the sleepless night and in hidden crevices of the day.

I work at being calm and confident. Do you relate to this?
{Let me assure you I will worry bigtime about sharing my vulnerability here. Especially as I’m about to be away from the internet for a few days and cannot swiftly respond to your response.}

However … as with other revealing blog posts (see How to Tend a Hurt Heart, for example) , I share my Worrisome Worrywart status with you in the hope of validating our humanly flawed experience and thereby feeding creative connection. So. Gulp. Allow me to continue.

If you need assistance with Worry-development, just ask.

Allow me to teach you the Inner-Furrowed-Brow Transmission ritual.

I can guide you through It’s-Possible-to-Worry-about-Absolutely-Anything 101.

{Declaration of worry seems to be a fitting topic for the last scraps of Mental Health month. And I have a question for you. What do you perceive is the difference between Worry and Anxiety? Are they the same thing? Does it matter?}

The opposite of worry? Trust. 

{Of course, I’m worried about whether that’s the right answer to my own question}

The opposite of Worry – the antidote –

is trusting the flow of life.

Creative practice can help.

{You knew I’d say that at some point, right? That’s my thing. That’s why we’re here together in this momentarily joined cyber zone. Because I love to sing the praises of creativity in all its miraculous, bendy applications.}

water goddess painting collage

The Water Goddess Says: Trust the Flow

I stayed in a bush

Continue reading