This is a book I just finished reading...

The Continuum Concept: In search of Happiness Lost by Jean Liedloff, 1975.

The author lived with a remote Amazon tribe for 2 or so years.  Here is a quote about water that I loved, after she noted the arduousness of the women having to walk down a perilous track 3 times a day to collect water...

"Once a day each woman put her gourds and clothing on the bank and bathed herself and her baby.  However many women and children participated, the bath had a roman quality of luxuriousness,  Every move bespoke sensual enjoyment, and the babies were handled like objects so marvelous that their owners felt constrained to put a mock-modest face on their pleasure and pride.  Walking down the mountain was down in the same accustomed-to -the-best, almost smug style, and their last perilous steps into the stream would have done credit to a Miss World coming forward to claim her crown.  This was true of all Yequana women and girls I saw".  She then says she can't think of a better system of collecting water!

Jean was working as an untrained observer of these tribes.  As such her observations were not colored by previous studies - she was not a trained anthropologist.   She saw and was amazed by their internal happiness: in their whole existance: happy in their work, in carrying large loads, happy in the trials etc.   Everything was accepted and not fought against.  Even their rituals for when a guest came, was completely unhurried and slow, and utterly respectful, on both sides.    The lack of judgement also stood out a mile.   However it is largely what she wrote about child rearing, that this book is famous for; babies are loved and nurtured, and kept close to the mother, sleeping with, and being carried by the mother ( or another), and always part of the day to day life.  Never left alone to cry. And pretty much the opposite of what was taught was 'the right way' to raise a baby in most baby books.  What Jean noticed was that as the babies grew, they were confident, responsible, never fought with each other, never cried unnessarily, never had colic or vomiting, or trouble sleeping!  Yet they were jostled, and carried from hip to hip, or slung on a back, being with the mother as she worked, walked, climbed, cooked, and went about her day.

"It is observable among us (being Western civilisation) as well that the more frustrated, the more alienated people are, the more they feel they must judge and distinguish between others as acceptable or unacceptable either on a personal basis or in groups, as in religious, political, national, etc..."

This is the book that prompted a wholeness movement of baby rearing i.e. of not timing feeds, sleeping with your baby, etc... which I never knew about.  And only did some by pure instinct/ dumb luck :-)... but I love what she has to say about what she learned about treating babies, ( and each other) in such a human, respectful way.  Without judgement.  There was complete freedom for men to cry when in pain.  Or to do something wild and silly.  No one passed comment.

I have noted since Jean's time there in the 1970's, these tribes are becoming westernised in dress etc, and schools, but they have high hopes of maintaining their traditional living, and are fighting against illegal diamond mines.

Anyways, I got to thinking, what has western society lost that tribes living in the Amazon have so much happiness, and their children are so respected and loved, and grow up so well behaved, and responcible.  Why we rush through each day in a pace they must find bizarre; why I don't enjoy the luxury of bathing like they do, but rush through a 4 minute shower, and left feeling like I'm missing out on something truly remarkable?

I am challenged to live each day with a simplicity of belief and enjoyment in all things...


She Looks 2


Wow, faces are really difficult.  Practice I guess.   Plus I find it easier to get a different perspective by photographing and looking at it on the screen - funny.   Worked the hair a little more in this one.  Not quite sure where to crop this image, so still playing with it.  A busy day of being creative today.

She Looks

She Looks. (10 x 10cm, part of a larger picture), Oil pastel on multi-media.


Some of the harvest from my garden this morning.  Eggplants, okra, chilli, capsicum, pawpaw, and our very first mandarins - so sweet and super juicy!   There is something very therapeutic about being in the garden, pulling a few weeds, a little pruning of things that are finishing, planting a few more carrot and kohl rabi, and pea seeds, while enjoying the sunshine on a cooler autumn morning.    I was able to coax my youngest to come out of her sick room and sit in the sun.  She looked at flowers, investigated new plants, and pulled a few weeds.   I am struck by the simplicity of living - my needs are basic - fresh air, water, a space for a garden, a time for creativity, a chair for finishing a great book, fulfilling friendships... and I am happy.


Music in her hair

Music in her hair. (28x30cm) Collage, watercolour, and acrylic on heavy brown paper.
The painting on the top was not quite finished, but I wanted to see what it looked like photographed.    The one on the bottom is finished.  I started by playing around with some torn pages from an old church hymnal, and gluing a few torn pieces haphazardly onto a pre-prepared page.  Then I found a couple of other small papers to add interest.  Next I penciled in a rough girl shape, and with the music theme still on my mind, and because I seem to have devoted so many hours over past weeks with my daughters music, I thought of the phrase, 'music in her hair', and wondered what the torn pieces of music flowing as if hair would look like.  This is the result.  I will probably add some distressing ink, and then glue on the words.

You know, overall, I am pleased with the result.  Sure there are things I would change, I know I need to work on my faces, and I think if I had the eyes focusing on something, the effect would be better... but this was a completely unplanned, and off the cuff.  I think I'll probably do another.

In my attempts to do a little art every day I am forcing myself to focus, to experiment; and int he process I am learning something new everytime I pick up a paint brush, pencil, or glue something down.
The finished artwork?  Still needs a title though...


Taking Flight

Untitled mixed media (23cm x 30cm).
I havn't thought of a title for this new creation.  She looks a little pensive?  Maybe that's how I feel, as I start to take seriously what I do with my day, how I create art,  and what form it will take.   Or maybe it's a reflection of the rainy day we are having!   I am pleased with the results overall, and it was one of the workshops in the Book Taking Flight by Kelly Rae Roberts.    I learnt a few new techniques with this, including using acrylics thickly, then sanded, for the face.

Having finished this however, I really feel that although learning new techniques is great, I need to be mindful of developing my own style.  That will be part of 'thinking' big... believing that I have a style that can be developed.


My Art Space


I'll have to take a better photo, but this will do for now.  This is my 'Art Space' .   It is an old kitchen table, (? 1960's) that is in our family room.  It has a laminate top, and aluminum edging and legs, and it is a good height for me as I am tall.  I have a collection of old'ish mainly glass containers to hold my art supplies, and the things I reach for most often, although I also have a very good crystal vase holding my favorite pens!  But I figured better to use it, than have it stuck in a cupboard somewhere.  I use the Ott-lite a lot, as it give natural lighting, but in the morning I have great light through this window. 
Here is a close up of an old book that I am removing pages from.  You can see the cut threads. If there was glue, you might need to gently ease out any pages that might have glue on.   I am currently removing pages from the Answer book on Geography, a book on cricket by Aussie hero Denis Lillie, and a science book in German!

Starting a New Art Journal


This is the start of a new art journal for me.  I actually have a bunch of brand new, hardbound art journals, but have a 'white page' phobia  - so I find it more comfortable to make a small signature, one at a time.  A signature is 4 or 5 pages, folded, and then stitched together.  16 pages to fill is not so daunting for a new beginner ( like me).  It is also a comfortable place to experiment, and not feel intimidated that I might make a mistake, and 'ruin' my new book.   I like to put down acrylic paint straight from the tube, and mix it on the paper using a plastic scrapper ( or credit card) , and blending that way to quickly cover a large area.

The front cover is the blue 'What's Going on Here?" which I have started stamping... I was inspired by the title of the text, which I left unpainted.  Actually this page was all about earthquakes and tsunamis!

There is also a collection of some pages ready for another signature to be made.  You can see the variety of pages I am using - basically anything that I find.  Here I have taken apart an old 1950's geography book, and a univeristy accomodation brochure.  By carefully cutting the threads of the signatures, or opening the staples, you can remove the double pages to slip straight into your own.  I then prime with gesso over most or all of the writing, and/or any pictures, but you can see in mine I have opted to leave a lot of the line drawings.


Gum leaves

I love picking up dropped gum leaves.  Not only are they quintessentially Australian, in both look, feel, sound effect (when you walk on them and they 'crunch'), and the smell of the eucalyptus - they also make such interesting subjects to draw or to study.    This is the 2nd page of my mixed media journal.  After a background of acrylic was laid down, I added the elaves over the top using water colour pencil.  I actually cheated here a little and traced three different leaves, sometimes reversing the leaves to get a different perspective.   Then using the pencile I shaded, and I was particularly trying to continue the transparency effect of the different layers showing through.  It is square, and it is hard to fit all the image into a picture format.  The support is re-cycled heavy duty brown wrapping paper.

I Love old TV Chairs

I just love old TV chairs.  When ever I go to my favourite 2nd hand store, I always look at the chairs first.  When I saw this one I couldn't resist.  My Latest 'find' is, I think, probably late 1960's or  early 1970's.  When you lean into the back it reclines.  The varnish is original, with only a few marks, and it is possible it has been re-covered - although could be original too.  I can't see any manufacturers marks, but looks to me like maybe a Don Rex.  Don Rex was a furniture manufacturer in Brisbane who made higher end furniture, often copying from Danish design.    When you can pick up something like this for $10, why buy new?  Eventually I may have re-covered, but currently enjoying the shabby chic look, and the no stress that the kids might spill something on it.

Recycled Messanger Satchel

I made this messanger satchel over the weekend using recycled materials.  Basically it is the cut-off's from a pair of white wide legged jeans, paired together and stitched just above the cut edge, with the jean hem as the top.  Then I frayed the cut edge a little.  Next I hand stitched the two pieces together along the side with a whip stich using variegated embroidery thread.  Thinking it looked a little plain I used the same embroidery thread to hand stitch on some vintage lace.  The strap was made from long ties on a white cotton dress that were long enough to tie into a bow.  This has now three large sections to put my phone, keys, purse, sunglasses, etc... and being white I can see inside so easily.  

This was very easy to do... might even make another!


multi-media project 1

Multimedia project:  acryllics, watercolour, pencil, and gel transfer on heavy brown paper.  An early exploration into how to approach multi-media projects.

A hot chocolate on a sunny, Sunday afternoon, just seems to make the world all seem better somehow.   Especially when made in my favorite mug.
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