Archive for the ‘painting’ Category

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Every month, the organisers announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. Remember, the question is optional!!!

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OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: Besides writing, what other creative outlets do you have?

I’ve had many creative outlets over the years: photography, dress design, and dance, however, I would say art has been the most constant. In fact, I started out writing for children as an author/illustrator. In the margins of the first fictional story I wrote, as a seventeen-year-old, I doodled what the characters would look like. That set the stage for illustrating my own picture books, a time when I juggled the jobs of developing the pictures and writing the story.

Then, in 2005, a pivotal moment happened in my life.

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I went to a children’s writing workshop, with the award-winning author, and teacher, Kate de Goldi. After showing her one of my picture book manuscripts, Kate said, it was good, however, she felt I needed to focus on either writing or the illustrating.

I took the advice to heart. About half a year after taking the course, I finished illustrating my story, and I packed the paints and brushes away into the cupboard. Within another year, I was writing up a storm.

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Kate’s sage advice helped me to funnel all my energy into my writing and from there, wonderful things began to happen. Coincidentally, this lesson about focus became one of the story themes in the resulting trilogy, The Chronicles of Aden Weaver. The hero, Aden, is taught by his wise mentor, Geo, to focus in order to prevail. It’s a lovely full circle moment.

By focusing on the writing, I became more productive:

I found my genre, middle grade (or junior fiction).

I wrote a middle grade trilogy, The Chronicles of Aden Weaver. I went “Indie” and self-published my first two books, The Or’in of Tane Mahuta and The Sasori Empire.

I had an essay included in a book for writers. I also self published a short story, along with a group of authors, in a children’s anthology titled Kissed By An Angel.

I built a mailing list and started a monthly newsletter.

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In both The Or’in of Tane Mahuta, and The Sasori Empire, I included two of my own pen and ink illustrations.

Art and writing have gone naturally hand in hand for me, however, I feel like I’ve found a way to make them complement one another.

I still enjoy drawing to bring my own characters to life. I also do illustrations upon request for certain projects. I painted the cover art as well as the colour illustration to go with my story, Grandpa and Loor, for Kissed By An Angel. The difference is, instead of the art absorbing all of my days, now with small art projects, I’m more in control of my time.

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The thing about painting – and probably any kind of art – is that it’s a time suck.

I remember an old landlord, Arthur, when he saw me at work on one of my illustrations, said, ‘Ah, painting, the thing that sucks time into it like a black hole.’ It’s true. It’s the kind of hobby you do, that you look up and realize its dark, and you wonder where the day went. I loved it, but once I was raising my two younger two boys and writing, there wasn’t time left in the day for art.

Being able to surrender my illustrator’s hat has been a significant improvement in my life. These days, I do what I love to do most, which is to write. Then I dabble at my art when I have the time and the inclination. It works.

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(artwork by Si Kingi)

I’m also more productive. This year, I intend to self publish the third book in The Chronicles of Aden Weaver, The Last Tree. I’ll need to figure out which drawings I’m going to do for it within the next few months and get them done before then. But, that’s okay. When art isn’t asking for every spare minute, you feel you can relish getting little jobs done like that.

A life in balance, between my writing, art, and the rest of my life, that’s my ultimate goal for 2019!

What about you? What are your creative outlets?

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Keep Writing!

Yvette K. Carol

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A painting is never finished – it simply stops in interesting places. ~ Paul Gardner

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I’m not on the bestseller list. Yet, as a friend and I were saying in a podcast the other day, it’s not ultimately about having to “sell” our artworks, it’s about having a form of creative expression and how vital it is to our health and well being to express ourselves in creative ways. The crazier the world gets, the more we need to ground ourselves through creative expression, whether that be through art, writing, dance, drama, cooking, music, gardening, or whatever form it takes. It’s a way to be happy and build happy memories which helps us to be healthy.

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I’ve been lucky enough to pursue art and writing throughout my adult life. These things have given me a release valve for the stress and have given me great joy. At the same time, my creative hobbies have given me a solid base in life and a means of transforming energy into something new. Art keeps me on an even keel, and, telling stories is satisfying on a deep level.

Did you know that storytelling is the second oldest profession in the world? ‘Storytelling has a shape. It dominates the way all stories are told and can be traced back not just to the Renaissance, but to the very beginning of the recorded word,’ wrote John Yorke. And, so it does.

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Humankind has always sought to communicate what has yet to be expressed. Since we first developed ways of communicating 150,000 years ago, artistic expression has separated us from the animal kingdom. As author, Terry Pratchett said, ‘Lots of animals are bright, but as far as we can tell they’ve never come up with any ideas about who makes the thunder.’

Our creative pursuits, since earliest times, have defined and refined humanity.

‘Before you can change the world you have to be able to form a picture of the world being other than it appears.’ Humankind’s development comes down to having used our imaginations and creating new things that had never been seen or done before. Our very survival as a species may depend on inventions yet to exist.

Thomas M Madsen, visual artist

Thomas M Madsen, visual artist

I believe for this and many other reasons, it’s necessary to foster the arts. It’s vital we encourage ourselves and one another and our children and grandchildren to express themselves. I say this not only in favour of humankind’s continued evolution, but also, because I came so close to stifling my own child’s creativity.

For about three years, I had resisted the youngest son’s desire to play drums. I made him take piano. At the start of last year, I said to the youngest son, “Shall we sign you up for piano lessons, again?”

He said, “Okay…I will, but only because music lessons make you smarter. What I really want to learn is drums.”

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For the first time, I really heard him, and I realized I have to let him do this. No matter how uncomfortable it may be for us, no matter how big the potential financial input needed, I have to let him have a go at learning drums.

I gave him one term of lessons to see if he liked it. He was a natural and took to it like a duck to water. Within six months of weekly half hour lessons, my son took his first drum exam and passed it ‘with distinction.’ Now, in 2018, he’s just passed second grade, again ‘with distinction.’ He tells me the exhilaration he feels when a piece becomes natural is unlike any other. What a blessing.

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It surprises me, looking back. I saw that even someone like myself, who truly values the arts in every way, had still come close to stifling my son’s artistic outlet, simply because I was on auto-pilot around what I thought he “should” be doing. The only difference – the key that turned it around – was that I listened to him. I think that’s the best thing we can do for our children and young people, is to really listen when they speak.  When I saw what I was doing, I took the youngest out of the piano lessons, started him with drum lessons, invested in a nice drum kit, and he was away.

In the mid-year report, his teacher wrote: ‘His natural talent is showing through, he seems to have an aptitude for picking up drum pieces very quickly, by using his ear, and reading at the same time.’

Of course he does! And last month, he joined the school band for the first time. I’m so glad I opened my ears.

What about you, what is your creative outlet?

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Our ability to create other worlds made us humans. ~ Terry Pratchett

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“Where There Is No Vision, the People Perish” ~ the Bible, Book of Proverbs

Last night, I went along to a speech contest, one of four which take place each year within Toastmasters. The Humorous and Table Topics Contest this year had within it a most thought-provoking question. The chair asked each contestant, “Is art essential to daily life?”

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Wow, what a great question. I thought about it all the way home.

When you think the earliest examples of the cave art of our ancestors began to appear around 30,000 years ago, it makes you realize how deep this question really is. From that artistic moment in man’s history, we sought to express strong feelings through imagery. This proved a great intellectual breakthrough for our species.

In effect, man could ‘freeze’ part of his environment long enough for his powerful intelligence to think about it, to manipulate it, to understand it fully. ~ Readers Digest, The First Two Million Years.

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Art can show us who we are and who we want to be, and it can give us the metaphors and thematic connections that let us understand our world in a bigger, weirder, more resonant way. ~ Chuck Wendig

When you think that our primitive art led to teaching aids, toys and tools, you realize that art has played a quintessential part of our evolution. Therefore, the answer to the question could be, art is not only essential to life but life as we know it today would not have been possible without it.

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This morning, there was a new post out by Wendig, entitled, It Is Art That Will Help Us Survive http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2016/09/21/it-is-art-that-will-help-us-survive/

Wendig gave verdant life to some deep concerns people have these days about the future of everything. Yet, he leavens the doom and despair of “reality” with the message, ‘Spoiler warning: it’s art that will save us.’ In other words, he’s doing through his blog what art does for the observer.

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He likens the positive effect to being healthy for us: ‘The act of art as a probiotic boost to our emotional and spiritual immune systems. Art as rebellion, revelation, renewal.’ I like the idea of that, art as antioxidant! Thanks, Chuck. You, the man.

I’ve been an artist all my life, whether through art or the written word. About a year ago, a talented, creative friend asked, Does being able to draw have a purpose these days…it doesn’t seem to have any artistic or financial merit.

I replied: “My oil paintings will outlive me. I kind of like that. However, leaving legacies aside, a world without art and artists of all kinds I would not want to live in. Our purpose may not be expressed in the same clearly linear format of hours done/recompense given/living earned sort of thing as other people get to do. The arts are about much more than that. They’re about spiritual, emotional, mental, physical expression and transmutation and magical processes.

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‘The arts provide the rest of mankind with those most important of elusive experiences: hope, and inspiration, and aspiration and joy. They’re about the alchemy of being reminded to look up and remember the bigger picture.’

And as Wendig reminded us, ‘We learn who other people are through art — it’s not just our stories we need reflected, but everyone’s. Art maybe won’t create empathy out of whole cloth, but it can stir it, it can stoke it, like breath blown against cooling embers.’

Empathy is a vital asset in these explosive, uncertain times. Therefore art provides a vehicle for understanding one another.

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This is why in times gone by, the Ancient Maori, for instance, would greet a group from another tribe by stating who they were, who their kin were, and then by sitting and sharing stories (the “mihi”). In this way, they would create common ground with those they needed to ally with and trade with or whatever. Art greases the wheels of reciprocity and peace.

Therefore, you could say, art is essential to future life.

It was the wonderful writer, Terry Pratchett, who said, Before you can change the world, you have to be able to form a picture of the world being other than it appears. I think this is the essence of the argument right here. Yes, as Wendig says, art provides an escape, and this opens us to envision, to build new worlds, better, greater, more sustainable worlds.

Imagination, said Pratchett, not intelligence, made us human. It’s art, said Wendig, that will save us. It’s art, said Carol, that will preserve our species and our world.

Yes. Art is essential to life!

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Humans, in order to live effectively and happily, need a goal—a vision—to pursue. ~ Paul Rosenberg

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Teresa Robeson

After rashly deciding to join in with writing pals, Teresa Robeson, and Catherine Johnson, on the Selfie Art Day challenge a few months ago, I now find myself part of a regular artistic quest to capture one’s own features. An elusive, multi-fold quest.

So far, my attempts at Selfie Art have stimulated all sorts of self-discovery. I’ve felt confronted by my own sense of self image, and self worth. The process has also brought me up against my own need to control things, a.k.a. perfectionism.

The first month I participated, I blogged an in-depth pencil sketch. I didn’t like it.

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The second time, I submitted a pencil outline of my face. I didn’t like it.

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My attempt at a self-portrait for May’s #SelfieArt Day is in triumphant #doodlewash for the first time! That’s the good news.

The bad news is that it doesn’t look a bit like me.

Except maybe for the hair. I did notice I hadn’t quite captured my likeness when I started, however, I assumed it’d come right in the end. Only it didn’t! It was too late to go back; I’d already committed the time slot allowed. Here again, I met face-to-face with my perfectionist streak which made me just want to toss the portrait in the bin.

Thankfully, I did not throw my portrait away. I made myself stick with it.

I decided to like it anyway.

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I had to say to myself in no uncertain terms, “It may not be perfect but I accept this portrait.”

This then became a sort of personal mantra, “I accept my imperfections.”

With that in mind, I decided to carry on and finish my “imperfect” portrait as it was, and see it through to the end. Thus, the transformative process of Selfie Art unerringly continued.

These are the pics I took documenting my progress:

I began with a pencil outline of my face.

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I added the first layer of flesh-tinted wash.

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Then I darkened the lines with an ink pen.

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I added shading to the face with warm flesh tones, and a wash for the shirt with Rose Pink gouache paint.

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I used black watercolour for the hair.

While my resulting portrait does not look like me, it does look like a gal who might be fairly interesting!

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If you decide to join in on the challenge, make sure you swing by Teresa Robeson’s wordpress blog and tell her about it. She’ll include your links on her regularly updated list.

Include the hashtags on your post: #SelfieDay and #Doodleawash Day! Have fun.

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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If your world doesn’t allow you to dream, move to one where you can. ~ Billy Idol

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‘Paul Klee once described an artist as being like a tree, drawing the minerals of experience from its roots – things known, observed, read, intuited, and felt – and slowly processing them into new leaves.’  ~ Shaun Tan

This concept still resonates. I love the idea of this organic process, of transforming the “stuff” of our lives into beauty, whether that be art or prose or song.

This week, on her excellent blog, One Good Thing, Author and illustrator, Teresa Robeson, put out this resounding challenge. Anyone else up for Selfie Art Day on the 25th?

Teresa Robeson

Normally, every time my creative friends have put out these sorts of calls to action on the art front, my first thought has been, no. I’m a writer. I have to focus on the words. This time, I thought, why not?

I don’t know whether it’s menopause or turning fifty, but I seem to find myself saying “Why not?” more often in the last couple of years than I ever have done before in my life.

That being said, selfie art has always intimidated me. There, I’ve told you! This is the problem with being a perfectionist. With selfie art, I want the image to look like me. I feel if it doesn’t resemble me then it’s rubbish.

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I decided to throw caution to the wind and apply myself. I started with getting the basic features and shape of the face and line of the neck with HB pencil.

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Then, I started on shading in the dark areas with 8B pencil.

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I built up the layering with 4B pencil as well, feathering the edges of the shading. I purposefully added more than I needed, thinking I wanted substance.

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Then I used an eraser to rub away the areas where the light strikes the ‘high points’ of the face.

The eyes were not quite straight and I did my best to straighten them, yet, in the end, I had to say, ‘you know what, they’re not perfect. That’s okay.’ Again, one could meditate on that for days!

At that point, I used some watercolour paint. I added white highlights to the cheekbones, chin, nose, and hair. I used black to deepen the shading.

I cannot tell you how many times I nearly threw this sketch away. I had to get over my negative thinking. The transformative journey of creating art is multi-fold; it entails looking outward and inward, and it acts as a mirror for how we feel about ourselves. Despite the part of myself that yammered in the background, it doesn’t look like you, I continued with my piece of art for Selfie Art Day!

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I love the Klee quote about turning experiences into new leaves. I feel it is true for me, not just with my small attempts at sketching or painting, but with my writing, my speech giving, and also with raising my children. All the things I produce in my life are the new leaves. And the better I feel about myself as I grow and develop personally, the more unique and expressive the art.

What new leaves are you producing? Did you participate in Selfie Art Day? If so, leave your URL and I’ll tweet your posts.

Look! New leaves!

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My Selfie Art. Ta da!

#SelfieArtDay

Yvette K. Carol

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“Be not afraid of going slowly. Be afraid only of standing still.” — Chinese proverb

“If you can see yourself as an artist, and you can see that your life is your own creation, then why not create the most beautiful story for yourself?”― Miguel Ruiz

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Have you heard of the Art of Positive Reinforcement? Rewarding the behaviour you want in children with your attention, in order to encourage more of the good behaviour. According to aish.com, ‘Warm fuzzies, also known in the 1960s as “positive strokes,” is something that parents who want to raise emotionally healthy children cannot do without.’

I’m here to report: warm fuzzies make adults feel good and ‘emotionally healthy’ too. 

We can give warm fuzzies to others by being generous with supporting others, and we can give them to ourselves through practising self-appreciation.

This week, a dear friend, author and illustrator, Teresa Robeson posted a terrific piece on her blog called Decades of Progress.

‘Kim Zarins shared a post on Facebook of a well-known illustrator’s art as a child versus a piece he did recently, contrasting the improvements in his craft. I thought that was a fun thing to do.’

Me, too. I like the whole concept behind this post idea and it seems to me that this could be a good way of giving ourselves as artists, warm fuzzy material. First, we get the positive reinforcement from other people, our friends and peers who see the post.

Through the images on her blog, Teresa demonstrated how her artwork had evolved over the years. We all said, wow, your artwork is awesome.

Then, Teresa also got to bear witness to her own growth.

So, second, there is the fuzzy warmth inside of saying to ourselves, ‘Wow, your art has changed and improved.’

Teresa Robeson

A visual retrospective is a nice way to chart our progress. It creates positive reinforcement of ourselves. Warm Self Fuzzies.

This morning, I went back through the archives and scanned my artwork, which I’ve faithfully kept from the age of five. This is about taking stock.

So with this is mind, here are a few examples to show the evolution of my art…

Family portrait, age 5

Family portrait, Age 5

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Character portrait, Age 8

I loved drawing pictures at school. As a lot of writers do when they’re little, I made my own books. The above drawing of Roma is from my book, The Spring Fairies.

The Wateow, from 'The Colour Secret,' late teens

Character Study, colour pencil, late teens.

This picture is from ‘The Colour Secret.’ ‘The WaTEOW,” or Woman-at-the-end-of-the-world. It marked my first attempt at an early chapter book series, The Great Adventures of Splat the Wonder Dog.

MaryThought, pencil sketch, age 27

Teddy bear portrait, pencil sketch, age 20

I enjoyed art and I continued to sketch in pencil as a hobby after I left school.

 

Self-portrait, pencil sketch, age 25

Self-portrait, pencil, age 25

In my spare time, side-by-side with writing, and raising boys, I always did some sort of drawing and art.

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Character Portrait, ‘Free Wally!” age 29

When I was in my twenties, I started writing and illustrating picture books, experimenting with painting using gouache on simple watercolour washes. I took one of my picture book manuscripts, ‘Free Wally!’ to show a friend, Liz Sutherland, an artist and art teacher. Liz said, “They’re good. But you should learn oil portraiture, because you need to learn how to be bold.”

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Oil portrait, of my youngest son, Nathaniel, age 40

I studied oil painting with Liz for the next three or four years, through two pregnancies, when I could hardly reach the easel for my enormous stomach. By the time I finished my last oil portrait class, I had learned how to be BOLD!

Nice one. Retrospective done. Warm fuzzies abound!

How do you give yourself and others warm fuzzies? How have you kept a record of your creative evolution?

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Keep Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” ~ Henry Miller

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“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” -Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.

Christopher Campbell

This week a dearly beloved and heart-inspired project came to fruition. My author friends and I have been putting together a children’s anthology to support our dear friend, Robyn Campbell, and her son, Christopher (29) who lives with the little known or understood syndrome called Sturge-weber.

Our beautiful book, Kissed by an Angel is out now, available on Amazon.

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I thought that I would re-issue this earlier post, detailing the illustration I did to go with my story in the anthology, ‘Grandpa & Loor.’

A Photo Essay for ‘Grandpa & Loor’…

A few years back, I tried using computer software to “draw” but I didn’t take to it. I simply prefer pencils, erasers, pens, colour pencils, and paints. I’m old school. So, bear with me. For some people, this might be a trip down memory lane.

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First, I had to work up a sketch I liked. I borrowed the man’s expression from an old photo of my boys’ father and aged him by adding wrinkles, I borrowed the idea for the hair out of a Santa book from the ’70’s. I was seeking with this illustration to express how we caregivers and parents of special children feel about them, and how they feel toward us. Once I was happy with it on a feeling level, I had a pencil template.

Grandpa & Loor

I painted the background over with a pale wash of pink.

First wash, G&L

Next, I applied the first coat of watercolour. At this stage, I made a timeline of the process, by taking this snap when I started.

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I gave each area a slightly different shade, in order to alter the end look. The lesson I’ve taken from training in oil portraiture is to build layers. That’s where you get your depth.

At that stage, I added the second layer to the characters, according to what I thought the colours might be later.

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As I got onto the third coat, I started to use three or more variations of the shades and add areas of light and dark.

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The fourth layer always makes the tones more solid and real.

At that point, I switched from water colour to gouache, and started using the fine tipped brushes.

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I made the shadows more convincing.
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And, just like that, in the twinkling of a back-breaking eye, I had finally crossed the finish line, thirteen hours later!

I feel victorious. Art is magical, isn’t it?

What sort of art do you do in your life? What’s important to you creatively? Tell me in the comments….

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Keep Creating!

Talk soon,

Yvette K. Carol

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‘I’ve been thinking about my Christopher and how our family could never make do without him. He is the epitome of this quote: “People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” -Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.’ Robyn Campbell

My family and I are taking turns at the weekends to go and stay with my father. Dad lives in a fairly isolated spot on the Coromandel of New Zealand. It’s been just over two months now since Ma died. As one of the younger and wiser members of the family said, “We don’t know how much longer Grandpa’s got; we want to spend time with him. He’s a pretty amazing guy.”

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I’ve literally just walked in through the door, having returned from my visit with Dad. I realized that instead of putting my jacket away, I was carrying the jacket around with me as I unloaded the car, and unpacked my bags. I remembered that it was originally one of Dad’s old coats – Ma didn’t like it so she gave it to me, she liked snugly-fitting jackets on men, and this is made of thick corduroy, lined with quilting. It’s a sturdy all-weather coat. I love it. I’d taken it on the trip with me and worn it home, and was reluctant to put it in the closet.  I realized I was a bit teary-eyed and was wondering if I’d ever see my father again.

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Blessed are the flexible, for they shall never be bent out of shape. ~Anonymous

Will that be the last time Dad regales me with his jokes? “Do not argue with an idiot. He’ll drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.”

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Dads are…special.

And I was thinking of one particular moment…Dad had shown me a pamphlet from stonemasons, showing various shapes and styles of headstones, and we discussed the kind he’d chosen for Ma’s burial plot. We are going to have a family gathering and commemoration on the anniversary of her death, June 25, 2016, for the “unveiling” of the headstone.

I asked, “Have you planned what the dedication will say?”

Dad said, “No. It’ll only be written on half the stone of course, because I’ll be buried there, one day.” He looked down at the pamphlet and then away out of the window.

Normally, I can pride myself on figuring out something to say, even if it’s the wrong thing. But I just sat there this time, looking at him, helpless, unable to summon a single thought.

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Dads are…special.

We had a lovely time together. We ate lunch in “his” cafe. We took a nice hearty walk around the top of the mountain behind his house. We ate together, played cards, and sat talking over many cups of tea and sweet things to eat.

And of course he has his little rituals. Dad likes to show me when he feeds the birds in his garden – a little ritual he does for the local wildlife every afternoon at three on the dot – for the waxeyes, gold finches, tui, blackbirds, sparrows and thrushes, he puts out (very carefully) sliced banana, apple, pear, grapes, halved mandarins, and a big spoonful of firm dripping fat.

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The deafening chorus of the flocks as they started to gather in the trees before the feast suddenly went quiet the instant Dad appeared at the front door. They waited in respectful silence while Dad performed all the different steps. Not a peep. Once he was gone, the birds swooped in and cleaned every speck up in about ten minutes flat.

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On my stay, Dad and I watched television. We sat side by side, companionably, comfortably occupied each doing our own thing for an hour or two here and there as well. He was doing his cryptic crossword. I was doing a pencil sketch, which would form the basis for a pen & ink illustration, to go in my book, upcoming release, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta,’ and it was really nice.

I drove home thinking, will there be another time?

Will there be another chance to listen to his jokes, “The shinbone is a device for finding furniture in a dark room!”, or another chance to hear him count his blessings, “I am SO blessed to have all my family coming to see me,” another chance to play Cribbage and hear all his funny, little, old English sayings that get attributed to counting every hand: “Five’s alive,” “Eight’s in state,” etc, and the always funny, “One for his knob”?

Another chance to laugh at Dad’s cute protestations, with raised eyebrows, when I started to streak away from him on the peg board in Cribbage, “You’re not going to beat your poor old dad, are you?” he asked with hand clutched to his heart. Ha ha. I think we all got our funny bone in this family from Dad. He’s a fun guy to be around.

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I’ve returned from a very pleasant time and yet I feel sad….

This has only started to happen since Ma died. I didn’t used to come home swamped in pathos and nostalgia. But now, I am. I’ve stared at the unflinching reality of my mother leaving her body. Now, I’m staring at my still hale and healthy, 83 year old independent father and I can’t help but be fully in touch with the impending reality that looms.

Ma was also 83.

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Dads are…special.

 

So I hug my coat, and I write blog posts to my friends and online family. I will turn to my artwork, next, as a source of solace. Whew. I have set myself the challenge of finishing another pen & ink illustration for my book this afternoon, and then hopefully, I’ll get to write.

How do you deal with the challenges in life? Do you have a creative outlet?

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Happy Father’s Day to all the dads in this neck of the woods, for tomorrow! You are loved!

Talk to you soon,

Yvette K. Carol

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‘You have to accept whatever comes with the best you have to give.’ ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

A long time ago, in a land far away, I liked to sketch and paint. In this land, I illustrated my own children’s stories. You can see some of these paintings on the side panel. However, sketching and painting take time. As life moves on and brings more responsibilities, it becomes harder to indulge one’s creative sides.

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When I started writing The Chronicles of Aden Weaver, in 2005, I attended a writing workshop taught by award-winning author, Kate de Goldi. I showed her one of my hand-illustrated manuscripts.

Kate was blunt. “You need to choose whether you want to be an illustrator, or a writer, and really focus on that.”

I wanted to be a writer. Letting go of illustrating freed up my time, which was at a premium with children underfoot and in my hair. Here I am, with my first book in The Chronicles of Aden Weaver, series coming up for release.

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At the same time, another amazing project is coming to fruition.

A year ago exactly, some of my writer friends and I, gathered together to support our dear friend and colleague, author, Robyn Campbell, in her on-going efforts to raise awareness about Sturge-Weber Syndrome. We decided to write an anthology of short stories. Our concept was to write about gifted children. The book is called, Kissed By An Angel, and the proceeds will go to benefit the Sturge-Weber Foundation.

The launch date for Kissed By An Angel, is set for mid-September (TBC). Catherine, another contributor, also wrote about it in her post, Anthology Illustration.

Some of the writers in the group asked me if I would do the cover. I thought, Can I? I didn’t know. I hadn’t touched a pencil or paintbrush in years and besides, I might have gotten rusty. Nevertheless, I brought out all my art materials. I literally had to dust them off!

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I made four sketches and the KBAA collective of writers chose one, which most importantly also got the seal of approval from Christopher, Robyn’s son, who has Sturge-Weber.

Doing artwork however, as previously stated, takes time! Back in the day, I sat down and worked for hours on end. Move on a decade, and the sketch for the cover lay among the tissues on the kitchen table for days while the kids had flu. I’d draw one stroke, then dash away to blow someone’s nose, come back to the piece, draw a line, then race off to take someone a drink, come back, do another line, etc.

In the background, I still hadn’t finished putting in the edits to my own book. I got overwhelmed.

Friends suggested wisely, that you need to prioritise at times like these.

I made two things the top priorities: to finish putting the proof-reader’s edits into my novel, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta,’ and to do the cover for the Kissed By An Angel, anthology.

I sat down at my computer with the proof-reader’s notes and stayed at my post until the pile whittled down to nil at eleven o’clock last night. Then, I posted the manuscript to a friend, who’s going to make the final check for typos.

Yes! The satisfaction of ticking off that box!

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Although it was late and I was tired, I looked at the art supplies on the bench, and the template for the KBAA cover, and I felt this real wave of enthusiasm to get started. I applied the first background wash of watercolour. I didn’t go to bed till 1.30 a.m. yet I sprang up at six this morning! I’ll paint the next layers with water colour and add the bright gouache today.

This is what I have so far for the cover of KBAA.

KBAA, cover art, 2015

Getting to do something different creatively, to draw and paint, I realized is like taking a vacation.

It’s an artistic absence that is good for the soul. I’ve had about five hours sleep, and yet I feel utterly refreshed, energised and alive. I have a new skip in my step.

There is energy to be found in doing what you love.

There is definite wisdom in Kate’s advice, to focus on mastering one talent at a time. And there’s also something to be said for taking a break from focus and mastery, and allowing oneself to play and have fun!

One needs to be replenished in order to be fruitful.

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The whole anthology has such poignancy and meaning for all of us. It’s an honour to be involved. And when you’re busy putting out your own book, it’s nice to put your attention on someone else for a change.

Each writer contributing to the KBAA collection was invited to do an illustration or send a photo to accompany their piece. I can see an ink sketch in my mind’s eye. But I’m saving that for third on my list of priorities, once the cover is complete.

With the anthology and my debut novel due for release in the next four to five weeks, things are hotting up. If I occasionally fail to show up here, please mark it down to artistic absence. Either that or I’ve run away to be an artist!

How about you? Have you another creative outlet that gives you joy? Are you doing what replenishes your soul and restores you to fruitfulness?

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*Watch this space: release dates for, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta,’ and, Kissed By An Angel, to be announced soon!*

From Chaos Central…

Yvette K. Carol

Keep Creating!

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After traditionally publishing a few, I switched and won’t go back. I love the control over my book’s destiny. Every choice is an act of love.  ~ D. Wallace Peach

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The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins. ~ Bob Moawad

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