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,

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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…

Continue reading

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

Reasons to Blog

Number One: Coming Home to Yourself and the Beauty All Around

My head is full of lumpy clatter. What on earth will I blog about? I don’t know.

What if I give myself permission

to not know,

to down-slow?

 

mindfulness home

I notice the garlic clothed in spectacularly stripey purple and off-white skin. I notice the dented, browning bits.

What if I pause? What if any of us pause, slow down and allow the spaces; even brief ones. Is it possible to allow a minute or two to let up with the voice that badgers us to get something done?

How is it that capital P Productivity became King, while the Duchess of Doing-Very-Little lurks in the shadows? She is guilt-stricken and spurned.

Can it please be OK to relish a moment of Simply Being?

mindful photograpy Swain

If you can’t manage real flowers in your micro-garden, fabric flowers are the go, even if they become soil-stained

We seem to know that mindful self-care is essential nourishment, but hey. Intellectually knowing something and embodying it are two different things.

Might I allow a pocket of presence?

And might I bring self-compassion to that presence in an act of kindfulness?

Can I rest in the empty space – the minuscule bracket of blankness between one thought-train and the next?

mindful photography garden

Cracked rabbit, neon centipede. All the garden friends.

What will I blog about?

This. Exactly what’s happening (or not happening) in my creative process. Even someone who has pretty much dedicated her life to her own creativity and to nurturing creativity in others, struggles to justify the carving out of fertile space. Even someone who deeply knows the value of letting the field lie fallow, is obliged to wrestle with inner critic creatures.

mindful art Swain

a city flamingo meets its leaf

So

Continue reading

Do you dare?

Playing with my new Brilliants

Yes, that is their name. Brilliants. Art’s honest truth. Micador watercolour round palette portable set of TWENTY FOUR.

A Heart Might Grow in a Prickly Place
Sally Swain © art

Delicious.

watercolour brilliant art

Tree Or Body?
Sally Swain © art

I’m loving them. They weren’t that easy to track down, either. A set of 12 is more common, but hey – 24 means there’s a deeply nourishing rosey crimson, a bottle green, a sheeny cream and more than one shade of yellow.

Uluru watercolour

the water in the air
the air in the earth
the earth in the water    (ooo that Uluru continues to permeate my being and emerge in unexpected moments)
Sally Swain © art

I don’t often crave an art material. In this case, I coveted my friend’s set of 24 Brilliants in the way that you might have had an aching desire for a set of 72 Derwents (coloured pencils) when you were in primary school in the 60s or 70s. Did you?

Oh. And have I told you

I am the proud owner of 24 Brilliants?

My car and house might be falling apart; care responsibilities might be denting my soul, but Continue reading

Between a Rock and a Soft Place

The Opposite of Anxiety

I’m breaking my own rules. Best kind to break.

Who wants to make a spinifex mandala in the desert sand within view of Uluru, Kata Tjuta, a sunrise and a moonset?

Instead of waiting an entire whole year to share another ‘Late Middle-Aged to Early-Old Crazy Art Lady’ adventure, here’s a tale for you a mere two weeks since the last episode.

It’s because I can’t resist shouting from the rooftops about Uluru and Kata Tjuta. I simply must extol the beauty, the majesty, the mystery.

Uluru shape form

The Rock close up has infinite shapes, folds, rifts, caves, dips, portals, layers….each of which tells a story.

I shall attempt to do my rooftop shouting quietly, however, with the minimal word-count induced by awe. 

{By the way, if you wish to peruse a previous Crazy Art Lady story, click here: ‘Late Middle-Aged to Early-Old Crazy Art Lady Goes to the Beach’}

desert colours Uluru

Once you’ve seen the desert colours, you can’t un-see them. They are in your fibres.

Let me just say, my first experience of spending time with Uluru (formerly known as Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (formerly known as the Olgas) was transformative. I felt that my Field of Vision was expanded.

And that

once you’ve seen this place,

you can’t un-see it.

Generally, I love lushness. Luminous green trees, ferns and waterfalls are my idea of gorgeousness. So I resisted the Red Centre, but now I am a convert.

Kata Tjuta (many heads) brims with bulbous body-like sacred formations. Powerful. Oh dammit. My words do not do it justice.

The rock has rocked me.

Both rocks have rocked me.

Uluru beauty

Exquisite Uluru ahhh

And hey. I happened to be there on the morning of the blood-moon-plus-long-lunar-eclipse, with a dash of rare planetary alignment on the side. How special is that?

Uluru sunrise glow beauty nature

It truly does glow. No human hand has performed colour mishmashing here.

The sun rose

wonder awe rock

Uluru Sunrise Slice

while the just-post-eclipse moon set over Kata Tjuta.

nature beauty awe wonder

Just. Post. Eclipse. Blood. Full. Moon. Becoming. Crescent. Setting. Over. Kata. Tjuta.

Spurred by beauty beyond words, I suddenly spontaneously gathered loose strands of amazing, hardy spinifex (Tjanpi) and made a mandala in the red orange glowing desert sand.

In those moments, I was not anxious, fearful or stuck in my head trying to solve nitty-gritty problems. Believe me, I know the Art of Worrying inside out. As a friend said, in these moments, my softness of being, my presence and expansiveness was the Opposite of Anxiety.

creative ageing Swain

Late Middle-Aged to Early-Old Crazy Art Lady Goes to the Desert

The funny sun-dial type sand and spinifex mandala?

Twas an offering of gratitude to the elements and to all who allowed me to be there. 

I wish to close by expressing gratitude and deep respect to the Anangu traditional owners of this country – to Elders past, present and future.

with love, art and soul from Sally