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

Is there a name for

the one who loves to bring a group painting together?

To synthesise it? To smooth the rough edges?
To make sure each person’s unique expression has a place, a space, yet contributes to a cohesive whole?

Rainbow Woman Creature collaborative artwork
RubyJenSal

We hold a meeting of a sub branch of the Anti Polo Melted Chocolate Art Captain Society. (You can click this link if you want to know what on earth I’m talking about). In other words, niece Ruby says – let’s make art together.
We are three. Niece Ruby, sister Jen and me.

Ruby prompts. I groan. Does this surprise you? Art and Soul Sally? Groaning about an art-making opportunity with her favourite (only) niece and favourite (only) sister? Whaaa? Sally doesn’t feel like making art? 

Truth be told, I often don’t feel like it. Specially at night. It’s a daylight activity for me. There. I’ve said it. Maybe this art-reluctance confession can bring something of value to YOU. Tell me if so.

I stop groaning. I say Yes. Let’s. 

Ruby suggests doing those creatures – that same pass-it-on process we did before. Each person starts a head and shoulders, then folds over the paper so the next one can’t see it till the Big Reveal.

1. Head and neck 2. Torso 3. Legs and Feet

and…Ruby’ suggests a colour theme. OK. One creature is warm colours, one is cool colours and one RAINBOW. We begin.

Rainbow Woman Creature collaborative artwork
RubyJenSal

We continue.

Cool Colour Woman Creature collaborative artwork in progress
RubyJenSal

Don’t you love how people come up with different ideas and approaches? Quirky ones? I never would have thought of a jacket made of flowers with eyes. I didn’t think of doing white galaxies on purple legs. Wow.

It’s rather rushed.

Warm Colour Woman Creature collaborative artwork in progress
RubyJenSal

Everyone has a different painting pace.
That’s life.
How to express uniqueness of style within a collective format?
Hmm.
Deep. 
Profound.

Fun.

 

Not fun. Roadblocks. 
Not every one of us is happy with our work. 
Not every one of us is happy with how our work fits with the others’ work.

With permission, I attempt to rescue an area of unhappiness.

Warm Colours Creature Woman
group artwork
RubyJenSal
She’s fine. Let’s see if I can help bring her together without negating any contribution. Celebrating each expression.

Ha. That’s life. That’s creativity.

But overall, it’s fabulous. There’s nothing at stake. We play. We connect. We experiment with the media.

Ruby adds some colour washes. It’s great to see her enjoyment of the Brilliants. 

Rainbow Colour Creature Woman
RubyJenSal
wash added around the flower-eyes

Cool Colours Creature Woman group art play
RubyJenSal
the joy of watercolour wash

I ask permission to come back to each piece and ‘bring it together’. I like doing that, mostly. Synthesising the slightly mismatching, disparate pieces, soothing the awkwardness, unifying and harmonising. That’s a big part of my Leaf-by-Leaf collaborative artwork process, which I would love to share with you some time. It will need its own blog post.

Weeks later, in a seaside, light and airy place, I do that synthesising, gently nudging misalignment into alignment.

Is there a name for this role? I don’t know. Please make a suggestion.

Rainbow Woman Creature collaborative artwork
RubyJenSal

Cool Colour Woman Creature collaborative artwork in progress
RubyJenSal

Warm Colour Woman Creature collaborative artwork
RubyJenSal

The team seem happy with the outcome.

with love, art and soul
from Sally

Sea of Compassion

aka Keep Your Feet on the Ground and Your Brush on the Page

*thank you to last fortnight’s 3 poets

Last week, politicians stirred up a nasty brew of disruption and destabilisation in the nation’s central cauldron.

I was blessed with downtime. I kept my ear to the radio, my feet on the ground and my brush on the page. Still besotted with my near-new ‘Brilliants’, I self-soothed in the pleasantly safe, contained space of a small Art Journal. I followed the brush, the play and flow of watercolour. I did not plan my pictures. I stayed open.

I had a cuppa and chanced upon a Hugh Mackay article about compassion as a form of love. Compassion. Possibly a missing ingredient from the approaches and actions of the country’s main destabilisers. He says,

‘It is normal for humans to show compassion towards each other, because, in the end, we are each other.’

compassion sea art creativity

Sea of Compassion
with Heartfish
Sally Swain © art

Hugh Mackay is not the first or the only person to express such a sentiment. Poets, philosophers, religious guides have said the same thing countlessly. However, his words spoke to my bruised brush, my ailing spirit. His words spoke to my dismay that those who dehumanise and brutalise innocent asylum seekers are those who ruthlessly engineer to rule a country.

‘Although we like to think of ourselves as independent, we are more like islands in the sea – separate on the surface but connected to each other deep down.’

We are each other
Sally Swain © art
inspired by Hugh Mackay’s words

My bruised yet bountiful brush, my ailing yet

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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

What do you see in this picture?

Delight at the Aunty Art Cafe

heart art underwater

What do you see in this Picture?

All Ingredients of Joy are Present:

Art materials (portable)
A nice cup of tea (English Breakfast)
A nice niece (well, more than nice, really – fabuloso)

A splendid location (water views)

A breeze (the bees knees on a hot day).

watercolour art co-creation

Upside Down Waterscape

I am in love

with my new watercolour Brilliants.

They are called Brilliants and indeed they are. Brilliant.
(I hope my aquabrushes don’t feel jealous. We have a longer term relationship. We are calmly companionable, my aquabrushes and I.)

Ruby and Sal begin.

Actually, I begin. With a simple blue swooshy line across the page. We are across the road from an ocean beach, so it makes sense.

watercolour collaborative art

Beginnings

Ruby continues. Swirly seaweedy

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Tree Fern Woman

Wishing you peace, art and healing

for Easter,

Pesach,

Just-Post-Equinox,

Full Moon

and

Blue Moon.

I fell over in New Zealand. In February, I fell over in New Zealand Aoteaoroa outside Piha General Store. Just a little fall, but a pulsing ankle resulted.

How might I heal? How might any of us heal?

tree fern radiate art

Heart of the Tree Fern
Waitakere greenness

Rest,

ice,

arnica

and….Tree Fern Woman.

A bit of art and

a bit of nature didn’t do any harm.

It helped.

It helped that I was staying in a cabin amongst the treetops, able to gaze softly into the heart of the fern.

It helped that I was able to ponder the spine of the kauri.

That ankle eased up in no time.

art healing fern NZ

Tree Fern Woman
Waitakere Ranges

Finally! I

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Sister Pools

A Creative Support Partnership

Swain art watercolour

Rosey
a Sister Pool picture
by Sally Swain

Last week, we looked at the Handala – a small mandala with carry-handles.

The Handala arose while I waited for my sister to ring for our creative conversation. An Art and Soul Space blog reader (thanks, Gallivanta) loved that my sister reads me her writings. Inspired by my dear reader, let me tell you about … ta daa … Sister Pools.

For the past year, whenever we can, my sister and I form an interstate telephonic dual Creative Support Partnership. We read each other our writing-in-progress. We talk about current glitches, hitches, joys and successes in our creative process. We divide the time fairly equally.

I paint while she talks or reads.

She writes (or doodles) while I talk or read.

I might paint a preliminary shape on one page of the art journal, then squish the pages together, forming a Rorschach-type mooshy print. (Squish and mooshy being highly technical hoity-toity art terms).

I develop each page differently. Intuitively, spontaneously, I listen to her words, thoughts, feelings and to my own art desires and intentions. It’s a type of Response Art.

Here’s what emerged

in our very first meeting.

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Lateral Grieving for

the Queen of Blobbage (pronounced in the French way).

Lateral Grieving.

lateral grieving watercolour art

Lateral Grieving
for the Queen of Blobbage
Sally Swain © original art

Who’s heard of it?

Not you. Not me before now, because

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