What if breath was my buffer

Hi Everyone, I hope you are all well. I’m making great progress with the experimental film and creative project. Pretty happy with where I’m at. I haven’t started shooting footage, however I’m busy testing the camera and location hunting.

Today I’d like to share some prose. I wrote this a couple of weeks ago when I was feeling very overwhelmed and reading it over made me feel lighter – so this is for anyone out there needing to breathe.

Read a couple times through – like a mantra. For me the words ‘wish’ allowed me to think on things differently.

I wish my head was not so clouded.
I wish my thoughts were clear and light,
Like crystal water seeping through my system.
I wish I walked with ease - a slight smile on my face,
And a hum of a tune behind my lips.

My feet moved across the earth in a dance.

I wish my shoulders carried no weight, time seemed filled with possibilities and potential,
And I enjoyed filling this time with purpose.
But this purpose was not a striving, or an obligation.
This purpose was simple, carefree, easy.

Every moment had magic and I stayed in that moment, never thinking ahead or behind, never worried or concerned, just breathing in fresh, light life. 

Usually I buffer with screen-time or sleeping. I wish I could buffer with lightness.
What if light and life was what I turned to.
Image from the Hamilton Gardens, Kirikiriroa, Aotearoa New Zealand.

Hope you all have a good week. Catch you next time xx.

Caring for Creativity.

There is a lot of discussion around self-care at the moment. A lot of information about how to look after ourselves when things get tough. And, I just want to add to that conversation when it comes to looking after our creativity.

I don’t have a huge amount of time each day to work in my creative area. Usually my days are packed with work, family, friends, commitments… you know what I’m talking about. All the life stuff. So when I do get a morning or a few hours, or even occasionally a whole day, it’s pretty special to me. I guard that time.

But sometimes and probably more than I’d like to admit, I’m not in the right headspace, or physically I’m lacking energy, or I tell myself I should be doing other things.

Like anything we engage in, we need to prepare. If I know I’ve got all Sunday to myself, I start to mentally psych myself up. I let myself get excited about the upcoming day. The anticipation builds, I’m telling my creative mind to get ready. Lately I’ve also been trying to keep myself physically prepared.

This might sound odd, especially if your creative field is sedentary; like writing on your laptop, or painting at your desk. However, mind and body go hand-in-hand, the connection is vital. Don’t underestimate how much the body affects our minds and in turn our creative output.

For the longest time I didn’t really put the two together. I thought about body image and being physically fit or a certain clothes size. Looking after my body, meant dieting or exercising in a way that didn’t suit me. However, my body is my vehicle and it allows me to be creative. I need to look after it so I can do the things I want and need to do in life. Yes, I’d rather eat cake than salad – I’m that type of person, but I’ve realised that the salad is going to help me get where I want to go – and it has NOTHING to do with my waist line. NOTHING.

I’m not a dieter, everything in moderation. But my thoughts around my body and looking after it has changed. If I look after it, it will in turn care for my creativity. And, creativity is one of my main focuses in life. So it’s important to me. It makes sense.

When I’m caught up in creativity and need a break, and want to scroll on my phone, I’ll take that 15min walk outside in the sunshine, or in the rain instead, because that is what my body needs. If, in the afternoon I’m hitting the wall, I’ll drink the green tea and eat a banana instead of the fourth coffee and chocolate bar. It’s not about right or wrong, it’s not about dieting it’s about looking after one of the most precious things I’ve been given. My body.

Please let me know what you do to keep up creative fitness. Catch you next time. xx

2021 Art in Process: Having Faith

What is it to have faith? Faith is about believing in something you can’t prove. I can’t prove that when I start a creative project I’m going to see it through, that I’m going to create something I’m proud of, or that I’m going to have success.

When a writer starts a novel, when a musician starts a song, when a sculptor starts a new project there is no way of knowing what the results will be. But they start anyway.

Yep. It’s frightening even terrifying at times and without faith in the process creatives may not make a start at all.

When I started to prepare for my upcoming residency at RM Gallery I only had a vague idea of a starting point – no idea how the process would go let alone the outcome. And it is nerve racking, part of me is constantly criticising the process and sabotaging my faith in my ability. And, that’s absolutely normal.

Creativity isn’t always easy, and it’s not always fun. I love being a creative but sometimes it’s just bloody hard work, and most of that is inner-work for me, combatting fears and overcoming my own insecurities. But, with all that I have faith in the process.

Faith isn’t completely blind. This is where we need to remember the things we have done before. Even though they may not be the same, the process may differ, the creative project may be completely different, we have accomplished things before. We’ve done stuff!! When in doubt try to take your mind back and remember that thing you did… at the time you also didn’t think you could do it, or didn’t know how your were going to do it – but you did it! You did that thing! Whatever it was, you did it! So faith in the process is not completely blind.

Below is a recent Vlog I did, where I comment on my process and admit that I don’t know exactly where this project is taking me – but that’s OK, as I believe in the process.

Remember to keep going. Have faith. You can do it.

Catch you next time xx

2021 Art in Process: Is it too late?

Is it too late? Am I too old? Am I too young? Do I know enough about this topic? Do I have enough experience? Am I too jaded? What will people think? What will my family think? I can’t start something new now! How do I start? There are already so many people doing it. There’s so many talented people out there. No one would care about it. People will think it’s stupid…

And on and on it goes. You know what I’m talking about.

What the hell! Really? Stop it! How on earth can you let creativity be part of your life if you are starting on this note?

It’s not too late. Your not too young or too old. And experience comes with doing, so if you want it, you have to do it. You are your best friend, you are your own ally. Creativity isn’t for those ‘arty’ ones, it’s for everyone.

I’ve been creating stuff… songs, poetry, films for over 2 decades for myself and professionally and I still have all those insecure thoughts. I still get nervous and doubt myself, we all do, it’s not just you. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t. But those people who can get past the thoughts and push through are the ones that achieve some sort of creative progress.

I went to an abstract painting class for the first time – this is not great art, it’s me making creative progress.

Thoughts really get in the way. But they’re just thoughts. Yep, just thoughts. Say it 10 times. They’re just thoughts.

Ask yourself, what is the worse thing that could happen if I take that pottery class, or learn photoshop skills online? You could find that it’s not for you, OR you could find some joy.

I’ve gone through the creative process a few times now, and if something is nerve racking I’m probably on the right path. Creativity isn’t cookie cutter, it’s part exploration part expression; it opens us up to see the world differently. It gives us confidence to fail and succeed- both as important as the other.

So don’t believe those thoughts of yours because they’re just thoughts.

Catch you next time xx.

2021 Art in Process: Validation

Hello everyone, I hope you are all well. I’ve been thinking a lot about validation recently and because of this thought it would be a good time to write about it. I’ve been thinking about it because I’ve realised that even though I paint, and write poetry I am very unsure of myself in these areas because I have had little or no training, and I’ve never been involved professionally in them.

At the moment, if you have been reading the ‘Art in Process’ posts, you will know that I’m working towards a residency at RM Gallery where I will be making an experimental film. The process of making this film has been hugely challenging, however I find myself confident even when I’m unsure about this new method of ‘making’. I think this is mainly due to the fact that I’ve been involved in creating moving image for quite some time both commercially and artistically. I feel like I don’t need validation to continue on, I’m confident in the process and confident in myself when it comes to this type of creativity.

So, does experience and training validate creativity? Good question.

Validation stems from the term ‘valid’. The original French ‘valide’ was to do with the law – having something legally binding. However the Latin term ‘validus’ seems more likely to be what I’m getting at; ‘validus’ means strong, powerful, active. The Proto-Indio-European root word is ‘wal’: to be strong, “sufficiently to be supported by facts or authority, well-grounded.”

There is a lot here to unpack, especially when creativity and the act of an individual creating is completely personal. I love this quote:

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique.”

Martha Graham

Could the validation then be OF and FROM ourselves. OF expresses the relationship between artist and work. ‘The work OF you’. FROM expresses that you are the source. If we are unique as Graham suggests then the validation is supported by the fact – the work is ‘OF and FROM us’. We can be strong, powerful and active knowing that only we could ever make this exact piece. Our validation is already in the work.

So, even though we may not have experience or training – validation is already part of our uniqueness – and we can’t take our uniqueness out of our creativity.

Hope you have a great week. Catch you next time xx

2021 Art in process: Just continue on.

Can’t believe it’s the start of May already. I’ve got six weeks until I begin at RM Gallery, so I need to press on. It’s been a very busy week, and I didn’t get a lot of research accomplished but I will continue on.

One thing I have been doing is re-watching films from early avant-garde filmmakers. It’s interesting to see the development of film following the great art-movements of the early 20th century like; Dadaism, Surrealism, German Expressionism and such. I’ve never enjoyed the aesthetic of Surrealism in the plastic arts, but now find myself caught up in these 1920 and 30’s films, especially Un Chien Andalou (1929) by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali. There is a looseness to the work, which I’m intrigued by. Marcel Ducamp’s film Everyday (1929), which I cited in What the heck am I doing, has more of a structuralist approach – very tightly edited, extremely controlled, but Un Chien Andalou allows for more abstraction in association between each image in a sequence.

I’ve never worked this way myself – but might try experimenting with this in editing. Not sure. But I want to push myself and this to me would feel very uncomfortable – so that must be a good thing.

I want to also look at the Russian filmmakers again, especially Sergei Eisenstein, Dziga Vertov, Lev Kuleshov and Vsevolod Pudovkin. Eisenstein, of course well known for developing the montage. I’m not sure I see these filmmakers as avant-garde probably more experimental if I have to come up with a label. However, their use of montage is intriguing and I know it did influence the Surrealists at the time.

The only other thing I’ve been doing towards the research is pondering. Yep, pondering. Especially on the development of the ‘event’ in my last post. I had a good conversation with a friend about how the narrative should develop technically. For example, if I’m developing the idea of a spiral narrative form inspired by a shell the camera could constantly be moving in a spiral formation. So another layer to ponder on. And of course sound! How to develop sound is something I also need to think about – so pondering is important.

That’s all from me. I’m just continuing on. I didn’t get done what I thought I would, but sometimes life has other plans and gets in the way of our creative intensions.

I hope you all have a great week. Let me know about your own creative endeavours.

Catch you next time xx.

2021 Art in Process: The Pinecone

Out of all the natural objects I’ve collected, I didn’t think the pinecone was going to be the pivot-point for this research. In last week’s blog I put up a photo and a drawing of a pinecone, and the two main ideas that come from brainstorming around this shape was ‘vacancy’ and ‘layers’. Then I decided to reduce the pinecone into an abstract drawing, then into a more diagrammatical image. I just allowed myself to mull on these images, without rushing.

This is hard to do. Just being and thinking is hard to do.

In this mode of ‘mulling’ I come up with an approach to narrative that I don’t think I would have thought of without this reflective process. Which gives me some confidence in the work. It is difficult to push ahead, especially without knowledge of where the project is heading. I guess this comes from judging what I have done before and projecting that into the future. What I mean is that if I haven’t done something before, I can’t judge it on my past work. So the lack of knowledge or lack of known pathways can cause discomfort. But I have to push through.

So, the pinecone. Who knew?

I thought the research would be based around the spiral in the shell, or the speckles in a river stone. I wasn’t going to even use a pinecone, it was a random decision on my part. And, I wonder if because the shell and the stone already have connotations of narrative to me in their make-up they are in a way loaded in the research. But this pinecone I’d never intended to use, so my thoughts were a lot more free to roam and question how this object could inspire narrative or narrative structure.

Original sketch of the pinecone
First adaptation of the shape
Diagrammatic render with brainstorm

The words I initially used to describe the sketch of the pinecone, ‘vacancy’ and ‘layers’ have not been developed. Rather the idea of an ‘event’ presented itself. How to develop that further, will be the work of this coming week. But I’m quietly confident I can work with this idea. It certainly has potential for narrative or non-narrative exploration depending on how I develop it further.

The ‘event’ could seem very similar to the ’cause and effect’ approach of conventional narrative filmmaking, however, I believe the concept of the ‘event’ can strike a deeper philosophical meaning.

So, where to from here?

First I will analyse the term ‘event’ starting with the etymology and then look at any writers or artists that have used or been inspired by the term.

I’ll leave it there for this week. Catch you next time xx.

Oh… before I forget – I wanted to say I’ve posted my very first Vlog. So if you want to see me chatting about this research click here.

Review, Reflect, Refocus

This blog is about revisiting my New Year Resolutions for 2020, taking stock, re-planning and re-focusing. Yep the year hasn’t turned out as planed but there’s only one way out of it – and that’s into it.

Reflecting on my goals I can see that some of them are now out of my control and cannot be achieved. However, there are still several I can accomplish if I refocus and put energy and time into them.

To begin with, looking at all my goals and plans for 2020 was a little bit of a downer.

My daughter and I were planning a trip to Greece and I had other adventures planned, also the interactive-experimental documentary, At The Horizon, which I have mentioned changed. Because of New Zealand’s lock-down the gallery that was to host the exhibition had to push a lot of the projects back to 2021. I wrote about this creative project in Process: A mixture of creativity and chaos – Part 1.

I’m blessed, I haven’t lost my job and I have my health and family, so these aren’t major issues. But I feel like the beginning of June is a perfect time to review, reflect and refocus.

So where to go from here?

I can’t push all projects or goals back. Some are just no longer practical in this changed world. Yes, they may happen, in a year or two, but for my own mental health and creativity I need to focus on now, on today.

In my New Year Resolutions 2020 post, I categorised all my goals; personal, health, creative, and work.

So, in review: two goals in my personal category can no longer happen, the health goals haven’t changed, and the creative goals and work goals need to be realigned

In reflection, and being honest with myself, my six personal goals were probably a few too many anyway. As stated, two can no longer happen and one has been removed, so now I have just three to focus on. The health goals haven’t changed, one of them I have maintained throughout this year, but the other has not happened at all, so I need to focus on this. I had five creative goals, one has been ticked off, YES!!!!! One I’m going to let go, which leaves three. The two work goals will still happen, but I need to develop new timelines for them.

Also, in reflection, I simply can’t ignore what is happening around the world. I’m not an island in space, I am connected to my world. I have to be honest; my mood, positivity and energy have changed. I’ve needed more time out, more rest, more down time.

So that’s they lay of the land, now I have to refocus, while giving myself a bit more time.

Years ago, my partner and I bought a property that needed a lot of work. We were both taken with how cute the house was and could see all the potential.  Some of the issues were dealt with straight away, and some were left for, “when we could get to them”… After a few years, everything began to bug me, I started to see all the flaws and it was overwhelming Then after talking with someone I realised that the house hadn’t changed, it was just how I was thinking about it. Seems cliché but that is exactly what happened, I remembered why we had bought it, my attitude changed, and I actually started doing things on the house again.

Refocusing can be tricky. But there is a reason why you do the things you do, a reason why you create in the way that you do.

You love it.

Yes, you get frustrated, you don’t have the time, you feel depleted before you begin, but you still love it. And just settling on that for a while can assist to grow motivation. I try to remember moments that I’m in the flow, times when my creativity takes over, or seeing someone impacting by work I’ve done. That is often enough to get me going again.

But that is not all it is. It can’t just be daydreaming about the good times. It is also the work. Refocusing means recommitting to the work ahead. Making timelines, breaking goals down, writing lists, putting deadlines in the calendar. You know, all the hard stuff.

I’m not going to leave it too long before a reflect again. I think I need to do this more regularly.

Well that’s it from me. Catch you next week xx.

Lists

Lists to do. Groceries, jobs, crossed out or ticked off.

What lists do you make?

Well I want to start with a few different types of lists, fun lists, list that open up creativity. Something I’ve picked up from the book: L’art de la Liste: simplify, organise, enrich your life. Written by Dominique Loreau.

The first one I want to start with, is a list of self description. A written self portrait. Try it. It is more difficult that is sounds. Below is my attempt…

There are so many lists that are fun – the next one is a ‘wish list’. Dominique Loreau states:

Writing down your dreams – even seemingly impossible dreams – may lead to a strange phenomenon: They may come true.

My wish list is pretty simple:

I wish to travel, see the world, the whole of it.
Everything.
Which now seems further away.

I wish to talk in languages.
German
Te Reo
Spanish or French.

I wish to work in China for a while.

Loreau states:

Make a list of your wishes – date them and keep them. Don’t worry if they contradict each other. All you need to do is believe in the unthinkable, the unimaginable, in mysteries and miracles. Lists of wishes have more potential to change your life than you may think. Every word conceals a certain energy. When we commit our desires to paper, we accord more importance to them; we cherish them. Our words are the cement, and our dreams are the bricks.

One more list I want to try is a memory, this is a time I spent with my Nana.

floral carpet and floral curtains
custard kisses and cheese rolls
horses
flowers
a spare bedroom with coats hanging in the cupboard
a boat in the shed, unused
a rest in the chair after lunch

Try making lists – not the ‘to do’ kind, the type that lets your imagination wonder.

Catch you next week. xx