Monday, 31 December 2012

Standing on the threshold

Standing on the threshold to the adventure of a brand new year.

So much promise.

So many possibilities...

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Out with the old...

This time of the year is a good one for reviewing your life and deciding what changes need to be made. I like to make resolutions that are a bit more fluid than 'I will... every day.' Those sorts of things make you feel guilty if you don't stick to them. I like to make resolutions to change that I might actually be able to stick with :)

So this year I am aiming to take more photos, wrestle and win with Photoshop, learn how to use my Bamboo to full effect, stretch my comfort zone, tackle uncomfortable things head-on rather than retreating into myself, and dreaming big rather than dialling down my dreams.

What about you?

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Open the box

For all of you who celebrate Christmas, I'm sure there has been a lot of giving and unwrapping of gifts going on in the last few days. My husband's sermon on Christmas Day was all about gifts. There are certain things that need to happen to get the most out of a gift.

First, you have to receive it. It is possible to be given a gift that we don't actually take.

Second, you have to unwrap it. A gift that is received but not unwrapped is just a pretty box.

Lastly, you have to use it for its purpose. A gift that is never used just gathers dust and is as useful as a block of concrete.

So my question is: have you truly received your gifts, torn off the wrappings, and plunged right in to make use of them?

Monday, 24 December 2012

Why can't I read all day, every day?

My husband found this question on pinterest which just sums up our household so I made this for our daughter. I had great fun making the pile of books for it which are made out of craft foam and covered them with patterned papers. The frame is an old chocolate box.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Reverb12 - day 20

Yes, yes, I'm a little behind on this. I have to admit that doing the A to Z challenge was easier because I knew what was coming and could prepare beforehand :) This has been harder. Sometimes I have to sit with a prompt for a little while and then I get behind...

So, today, What was lost and what was found?

Well, I like to think that the timidity I have always had about standing in front of others has now been lost - or at least is in the process of being lost - and that a new boldness will be found as time goes on.

As for some art work to go with it, I'm going to leave you with this, which I have blogged before, but fits the question.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Happy Birthday Sojourner!

I can't believe a year has passed since I set out on my journey into Blogland!

I would like to say a big 'Thank you' to all of you who have visited, commented, and encouraged me through this last year. I've had so much fun visiting your blogs and seeing the wonderful work that is going on in creative spaces all over the world. Keep up the good work!

As the year comes towards an end I am inevitably looking forward to the next one. What will it bring? Where will it take me? One of the things I want to do is learn how to dream big. To dream without limits. I am the sort of person who finds it easy to spot the flaws in a plan. Unfortunately that means I am not very good at dreaming because I can see the possible pitfalls and shy away from things that don't look as if they will succeed.

So I want to make 2013 the year of dreaming without limits. Of taking the chance to believe that the impossible can happen.

What new path are you going to take?

Linking up with Art Journal Every Day (see button in the bar) and finally getting around to putting something on Paint Party Friday!

Friday, 14 December 2012

Reverb 12 - day 14

I've been finding it difficult to keep up with a page a day for the Reverb12 challenge as it gets closer to Christmas. Some of the questions haven't resonated with me and a day isn't enough to ponder them and do a whole page. Today's page was done using minimal additions on a background I prepared a while ago and didn't know what to do with. I'm not really happy with it but wanted to get something done today.

So, today's question: What is the most important thing you learned in 2012? How does this learning shape the path going forward?

This really fits with 'what was the greatest risk you took' for me. In taking the risk to say yes to an invitation to speak in front of 50 people, I had to stand up to my fear of... well... standing up and speaking in front of people. In doing that I learned that fear is a bully. When we stand up to our fears they don't go away, but they stop having so much power over us. They're not quite so frightening any more.

Fear may stand in a narrow part of the path. We can either turn around and go another way, or stand up to it and move on through. It is a choice. As to how it will shape the path forward, I will be more courageous, taking on fear and facing it down.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Fall Fearless and Fly #6

Headline Prompt:  Divided by God:  What does "God" mean to you?  How do you access"God" or the divine or the sacred in your life?
Color Prompt: Metallics - gold, silver, copper, bronze, or all of them!
Quote Prompt: "This is my simple religion.  There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy.  Our own brain, our own heart, is our temple; the philosophy is kindness."  The Dalai Lama 

For me the answer is simple - God is my light and life and breath, the very beating of my heart. Without Him I cannot live.

How do I access Him? By prayer. By listening with my heart. By looking for all that is good and pure and right and just.

Some of the details don't show well in the photo. I wanted to keep the colours gentle rather than bold to show the gentle way that God deals with me - His patience is boundless for which I am hugely grateful :) The green is for life, the yellow for light. The gold heart in the woman is a smaller, not-yet-perfect reflection of the larger heart standing in for God's heart. Lines radiate from the large heart to show God's influence on my heart, my mouth, my eyes. 

Hop on over to Artists in Blogland (use the Fall Fearless and Fly button in the sidebar) and check out everyone else's take on this prompt.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Reverb 12 - days 10 & 11

Whoops! Missed yesterday's prompt. Here is my short answer to 'What risk did you take?' I said yes to an invitation to speak to fifty people for five minutes. The outcome was favourable in that I didn't throw up, fall over, or otherwise embarrass myself :)

Today's question was, "What was music to your ears?"

As you can see from the page above, "Thank you" is music to my ears for two reasons. Firstly because manners don't cost anything and rudeness is unnecessary,  and secondly because if I'm hearing it, I must have done something helpful.

Click on the #Reverb12 button in the sidebar to see what everyone else hears as music.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Reverb 12 - day 9

First up, apologies that there is no art for this prompt but Sunday is a busy day in the life of a clergy family so I haven't had time to do a page.

What was the best book you read in 2012, and why? (And by "Why?" I mean: Why did you read it? And why was it your favourite? Although these answers could be one and the same...!)

As an avid reader I read many books on a variety of topics for many different reasons. Just thinking about what I've read this year gives me a headache! I suppose the answer would really depend on what I was reading for. I read the Bible every day and obviously it is my best book in that if I was left on a desert island it is the one I would want. It is my life manual.

If you talk about reading for pure pleasure, I re-read all the Vorkosigan novels by Lois McMaster Bujold every year. I'm reading the latest one at the moment. One chapter to go and I don't want it to end. It makes me want to read all the others again. The writing is wonderful, drawing you straight in to a totally believable world with wonderful characters that you can't help rooting for. 

In terms of growth, I read Flourish by Catherine Hart Weber which was very useful and practical in looking at how we can lead lives that are flourishing - looking after yourself spiritually. It was so good I have started to read it again.

In biography, Delerious: my journey with the band, a growing family, and an army of historymakers by Martin Smith and Craig Borlase was a wonderful read because I lived through that era, having seen Delerious in concert when they were playing town halls and buying the Cutting Edge tapes that they made themselves and sold from a cardboard box at the gigs. Just a real nostalgia trip.

And to grow in artistic endeavours, I have enjoyed Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists by Carla Sonheim and The Journal Junkies Workshop: Visual Ammunition for the Art Addict by Eric M. Scott and David R. Modler. I borrowed both from the library, bought the first and would consider putting it the latter on my wish-list, too.

I guess that's enough to give you a flavour :)  

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Reverb 12 - day 8

What was the most important relationship that you fostered in 2012? How will you continue to nurture it in 2013?

This is the question for today in the #Reverb12 challenge

For me this is easy - my relationship with God. It's the one that all the others spring from. Being rooted in God allows me to show love to others and grow in my relationships with them. It was the nurturing of this relationship that led to me starting to art journal in the first place.

One of the things about a relationship with God is that you learn about blessings. I find myself in a position to bless someone today. You may know that I won the one of the giveaways in the Fall Fearless and Fly challenge a couple of weeks ago. Having looked at the online shop I can use it in, I find that actually the postage to have anything sent to Australia is the entire value of the voucher :( 

Being a thrifty sort, I thought that rather than spend money just because I have a voucher, I could pass it on to someone who can make better use of it (and be blessed with some freebie art materials). If you want it, be the first to email me at tracywoodsford(at)gmail(dot)com telling me that you'd like it. (It's a $35 voucher for Dreaming in Color)

Hope you're enjoying your day!

Friday, 7 December 2012

Reverb12 - day 7

A week in to the Reverb12 challenge (click the button in the sidebar to see who's taking part and how they're answering these questions about 2012). Today's question:

What's the one thing you want to take with you into 2013? 

One of the things about having a question a day is that you have to think and work fast. I tried to think about what this last year has given that I didn't have before and that I value enough to carry on into the future.

Then it hit me - I know more now than I did a year ago.

Now that I am in my mid-forties I am more comfortable in my own skin. I have a lot more wisdom and knowledge than I did in my twenties or thirties. I want to carry that through into the future. If I don't learn from my mistakes, if I don't build up my skills, then what use are they? If I don't understand the value of joy, peace, love, grace, and contentment then my life will be empty.

So, I'm going to take my accumulated wisdom and knowledge with me, and hope to live better in 2013 than I did in 2012.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Reverb 12 - day 6

Any of you who have been following my blog or have looked at a few posts over the last six weeks will have noticed that I have been taking a drawing class. So when today's prompt came up it was obvious to me what the answer was.

What did you learn? Compare the 'you' from the beginning of 2012 to the 'you' that you are now. What new skills have you learned or discovered this year?

I learned how to draw accurately what is in front of me. I learned how to see light and shade and put them down on paper in several different ways with different media. The class gave me confidence. I'm still not sure I can draw things out of my head, but if I have something in front of me I know I can get down a good rendition of it. A drawing that I am pleased with.

And that's a big step forward.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Reverb 12 - day 5

The prompt for day 5 is: What was your dream destination in 2012 and why?

As a family in church ministry, getting away from home is important and difficult. This year we have been blessed with two trips to Kangaroo Island. As the name suggests this is an island just off the coast of South Australia. It is like a nature reserve - mainly wild, low population even by Australian standards, and four main roads with no traffic lights on the entire island. There are a lot of dirt tracks with that red earth that is so definitive of Australia. 

We had such a great time seeing all the native animals in their natural habitats - koalas, echidnas, snakes, roos, wallabies, cockatoos etc. We haven't yet seen a platypus or a wombat other than in a zoo, but there's time yet :) We were able to relax, and that was so precious.

Here is a close-up of the tree. That isn't blossom in it but cockatoos! Imagine rounding a corner and seeing that wonderful sight.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Reverb 12 - day 4

Prompt for day 4 - How are you going to celebrate your self this festive season?

This was a difficult one. If you refer back to this post, or this one, you will find how a northern hemisphere girl finds a southern hemisphere Christmas difficult.

After thinking about what I am going to do in the next month I realised that I celebrate myself by being who I am. I am a nurturer and helper. I will help my husband by preparing the Christmas package that we give away at our Christmas Day service - I will celebrate my creative self in this way.

I will cook a nutritious meal for my family that does not indulge in the excess that is often seen at this time of year but will be well-balanced and the right size, even though it will still be festive. I have made my own Christmas pudding so I know exactly what is in it - I will celebrate my nurturing self.

To see how everyone else will be celebrating, click in the Reverb12 button in the sidebar.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Reverb 12 - day 3

The prompt for day three is:

Imagine a scenario where you had one year to live. What is one thing that you really wish to do that you just haven't had the chance to accomplish yet?

After some thought I decided that having a studio large enough to hold classes and host retreats is the thing I would love to do. At the moment I have an art room that will just about hold three people. I have held classes elsewhere, but it would be great to have a studio attached to the house.

I love to share skills and see people released into creativity. I'll never forget the evening I taught one particular woman how to make a book. She told me that everything she ever brought home from school that she had made her mother threw straight into the bin. She was convinced that she wasn't able to be creative but for some reason felt that she wanted to come to the informal class I held in my home once a month. That woman made a book that evening and her face shone when she left.

I would love to see that more.

To join this challenge or see what others are up to, click on the Reverb12 button in the sidebar.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Reverb 12 - day 2

Today's question is: What was your most significant expenditure of 2012 - the one with the most impact? What difference has it made to your life?

I had to think about this for a while. Then I remembered that this year was the year that we bought a new laptop. Not such a special thing, you might think, but there are three of us who all do everything from home and we had one laptop and one desktop between us. I was sharing the desktop with my husband whenever I wanted to access the internet and the laptop with our daughter when she wanted to write (which was quite often!)

Now I have a laptop with internet access and our daughter has a laptop of her own and I am not reduced to everyone else's leftover time! Plus our daughter can now write whenever she likes and is up to over two hundred story ideas. The extra laptop has allowed me to expand my blogging, start to get to grips with Photoshop, and continue with my writing.

The expenditure has allowed us all to expand our imagination.

Now that's priceless!

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Reverb 12 - day 1

December 1st. The start of advent, the lead in to Christmas. And the first day of the #Reverb12 challenge.

The first prompt was: How are you starting?

For me that can be summarised in one word: discombobulated!

My insides and outsides do not match up on this. My head is in the north and my body in the south. On the outside I am at the beginning of summer, the sun is shining, and plants are flourishing. On the inside I am at the beginning of winter, things are dying down and I'm heading for a time of hibernation. Outside it's all floral, inside the days are drawing in and getting darker (not in a depressed sort of way, but just like the short days and long nights of winter).

So there you have it. That's how I'm starting.

How about you?

Friday, 30 November 2012

drawing and collage

Today was my last mixed-media drawing class and I feel I have learned so much. I seem to see things differently now, noticing the light and shade, proportion, etc.. Earlier in the week I drew the rhino at the top and added a little watercolour. Today in class we did collage so I decided to collage the rhino. I'm pleased with the result :)

Now for new challenges! 

If you look in the sidebar you'll notice a new button. I've joined the reverb12 challenge. Click on the button to go have a look. It starts tomorrow and goes on all through December and I, for one, am looking forward to it. Thanks to Gumnut for putting me on to this.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Fall Fearless and Fly #5

When I logged in to Artists in Blogland to find the new challenge in the Fall Fearless and Fly series I was delighted to find that I had won the giveaway for the challenge #4. Not only a brand new challenge but a bonus as well :) Thank you, Jessica and Carolyn.

So, challenge #5:

Headline Prompt:  Lifelong Fan:  What or who have you consistently valued or looked up to in your life?  What lessons have you learned from people you admire?
Color Prompt:  Your favorite color now or from childhood or both!
Quote Prompt: "Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator; but among those whom I love, I can:  all of them make me laugh."  W.H.Auden

Again, so much material! Favourite colour was easy - red. As for the headline, I could have done half a dozen pages. Instead I ended up making a list of what I admire in others, what I am a lifelong fan of, in no particular order.

Integrity - people who stand up for what is right even when it costs them something. People who are the same wherever they are and whoever they are with.
Humility - those who serve others and do not seek to gain at the cost of others.
Friendship - as an only child my friends have always been precious.
Courage - those who face fear, especially when they are doing it to help someone else.
Learning - I love to learn new things!
Giving - there is something so satisfying about being able to give something to someone, whether it is in terms of money, time, or skill.
Loving - so much more powerful than hate and more useful than apathy.
Sharing - I so appreciate those people who are good at what they do and secure enough in their skills to share generously with others. They do not hold tightly to their expertise but take joy in teaching others.

This is the sort of woman I would like to be.

I am a work in progress :)

Linking to Fall Fearless and Fly and Art Journal Every Day.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Into the wilderness...

I've had this background sitting in my current journal for a while now. When I looked at it yesterday the two pictures of plant cells just looked like tired eyes to me, so I flipped the book around and did a portrait orientation double-page spread. 

These tired eyes are just how I'm feeling at the moment, so I put them into a face. They seemed to be looking off to the side, so what could they be looking at? My daughter had a pile of kirigami that she has been doing lying around on the table. One of them looked just like a sun to me so I took that but it melted into the background of the page a bit too well, hence the darker pink behind it.

I've been feeling a little flat lately - tired, the heat sapping my energy a bit. I've also just realised that after a victory in my life, I'm back out in the wilderness again, building the beginnings of growth for whatever is next. The tired woman under the hot sun just described that beautifully for me. (Even if she does have an Adam Ant stripe across her nose - which probably just shows my age :) )

So where are you on the journey? Climbing the mountain? Deep in the valley? Crossing the desert? Or resting beside the still waters? Wherever you are, relax into it and don't resist. Each place has something to teach us.

Friday, 23 November 2012

More sketches

Week 5 of the 6 week drawing class I'm taking. I find myself looking at things with a different eye, taking in where the light and shade fall. The thing that was the most fun today, though, was that the teacher wanted to know all about art journalling :)

Last night I found a stack of pages I'd removed from a book to thin it out to journal in. They were really thick, good quality pages, so I bound them together to make a book for journalling quotes. I like the square format.

Also, a new K-Mart has opened in the city centre and I managed to pick up enough erasers to carve a lower-case alphabet for $4! Guess what I'll be up to tonight...

Monday, 19 November 2012

Does not compute!

Here in Dr. Seuss-land the bright red of the bottle-brush trees has given way to the mad mauve jacarandas. Spring is definitely here.

And that's the problem.

For a northern hemisphere girl Christmas is firmly ensconced in the winter. It comes when the days draw in, the weather turns colder, and all the pretty lights appear in town centres. Christmas in the summer just isn't right.

Yes, there are fairy lights and decorations (inflatable snowmen, anyone? Yes, really) but the sun is shining, the temperature is starting to soar into the thirties and promising to go higher, and the days are long. We are enjoying time at the beach, swimming and beach-combing. In my head it's July or August. It is not approaching Christmas.

During the rest of the year I am pretty organised - I manage to send out birthday cards 3-4 weeks early so they arrive on time - I am always looking ahead on the calendar to make sure I don't miss anything. But it hits November and all of that seems to go out of the window. All of the environmental cues are wrong.

I lose the plot.

So now you know. For the next few months I will be disorganised, unfestive, and too hot. Such is life.

Friday, 16 November 2012

What's growing?

Sometimes things don't quite go how you expect. You teach a class or lead a retreat and the reactions aren't what you anticipated. Those are the times I have to remind myself that God is planting seeds that I don't know about. Just because things didn't go the way you planned doesn't mean that people didn't learn something or go away with new ideas. Sometimes we have to widen our horizons and realise that there are way more links being formed than we can even dream of. 

So don't sweat it when things go awry!

Here are some close-ups:

stamp embossed in white

I shall be linking this to Art Journal Every Day. Go check out what everyone else has been up to!


This is my second go at the Fall Fearless and Fly challenge #4. I had a lot of thoughts to work through :) I drifted a little from the questions that were asked as I thought about what security allows me to do. It is like the anchor that allows me to try things, take risks, but still with the safety of knowing I'm loved even if I fail.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Fall Fearless and Fly #4

Fall Fearless and Fly Challenge #4:

Headline Prompt:  Security:  What makes you feel safe and secure?  What rattles your sense of security?  Where do you go for comfort and refuge?
Color Prompt:  Cool colors (blues, greens, violets, etc.) 
Quote Prompt: You can't make a place for yourself in the sun if you keep taking refuge under the family tree.  Helen Keller

I used the colour and headline prompts. I started with a page covered with Chinese writing which I then gessoed (with an inadvertantly blue brush - whoops! At least it fit with the colour scheme :)) and added circles which I find pleasing, comforting even, like the enveloping arms of someone you love.

Next I photoshopped a photo I took a few years ago of a tower, giving it a bluer caste. The tower represents the comfort I find in solitude. When I need to think something through, or just need some space, I come to my art room - not quite a studio yet, but I'm dreaming. It's where I run to.

I added a border to the photo and some tape.

Then the words 'security' and 'safe' and 'comfort' coloured in with Copic markers. 

Thinking about those words led me through the usual places. My home is a safe and secure place for me; a place where I can lock the world out and retreat. But like Carly at True Color I know that it is not the physical building that makes the home but the people - my husband and daughter. They are my home.
My security comes not from riches or possessions but from being loved - by my family, but ultimately by God. I added some verses from Habakkuk: Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. (Habakkuk 3:17-18) And from Psalm 46:1 about God being my refuge and strength, always present in times of trouble.
If we put our trust in riches or in other people and use them as our security, we will be let down at some time. With God as my security I know I stand on solid ground.

At this point I added more circles and some rays with water-soluble oil pastels and the word 'refuge' down the side of the page.

The finishing touches were the definition of security being the freedom from fear, anxiety, danger or threat, and the words 'God, home, family, solitude' - the things which bring security, safety, and comfort; the places I run to when I'm rattled. 

So there you have it - the journey thoughts about security led me on. Why not use the link at the top or the button in the side bar to check out what everyone else thought about this challenge. 

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Making progress

Does your life ever feel as if you are rowing into the wind? It just feels as if you are working away and not getting anywhere - like the red queen in Alice you have to run to keep still. It's draining. 

I feel a bit like that at the moment. 

I started to think about how sailboats deal with this sort of thing. Instead of heading straight into the wind, they tack back and forth across it. Sometimes the shortest way from A to B is not a straight line but a zigzagging one. Sometimes you have to go sideways to go forwards. 

Are there any places in your life where you feel you aren't making any headway? Perhaps you can find a way to come at them from a different direction. It may take a little longer, but you get to conserve your energy when you work smarter. 

And on the drawing front, a visit to the zoo yesterday yielded these:

A drawing of the sculpture of a chimpanzee's finger that stands near the entrance to the zoo. I had to work fairly quickly as the sun was moving and the shadows kept changing.

A napping koala captured in a ten-minute sketch.

Hope your weekend has been fun!

Friday, 9 November 2012

Not pumpkins but lemons...

Week 3 of drawing lessons had us using watercolour pencils. I found that they aren't my favourite medium. According to my husband this picture just lacks eyes and fins...

I had been practicing my shading with graphite pencils, though. Quite pleased with the results:

And the page where I get to try out different types of shading. I like the stippling and basket weave. Must explore those further.

Missing next week's lesson, but it's on collage, so at least it's not something completely new to me. The week after that is free choice so I need to find something to draw...