Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Pyjamas & The Fins

I am still busy with nocturnal sessions - doing Danielle Donaldson's wonderful online course, CreativeGirl: Storybooks and Studious Girls.  I am learning so much. 
What's more is that I'm getting back to my "first love" of painting mediums - watercolour.  
But I am learning an entirely different spin on it.  

I am always amazed at how small changes can lead to mind-blowingly refreshing results that open up entirely new possibilities in an area that you think you know so well.  
You just have to make time available, be open to changing your actions and stick with it.  
It is something that I may apply to other aspects of my life as well.

It all started with this...
... which led to this ....
After a year of swimming lessons to get our little one water-safe, her daddy bought her a pair of fins and water goggles in December. She spent hours and hours in the pool with them.  Sometimes she would be up and ready for the water at sunrise!  

On one such a morning,  she tumbled straight out of bed and put on her fins and goggles. Barely awake and still wearing her pyjamas but ready for action.  
I had always wanted to capture this moment more poetically.  So I decided to use it as inspiration while practising these new techniques and developing my style.

Geared up and ready.
She still needs some work, but I'm happy so far...

Saturday, March 21, 2015

An Impatient Heart, a Pencil and some Watercolour

This week is a bit of a whirlwind.  
So I've taken to my old routine of working in my studio late into the wee hours again.  
Those blissful hours when everyone is asleep and all is quiet. 
 I sleep less and I don't watch television - that is what frees up my time when days become hectic.  
If I don't make time to do something creative everyday - music, mixed media, writing, whatever -  it feels like I haven't eaten for days.  I become grumpy.  I feel caged.
It is a hunger that never goes away.  
At best, it only fades temporarily after some creative time.

So I've been looking forward to doing this week-long online illustration workshop with the uber-talented Danielle Donaldson for months now.  It started on Monday.  
And it is the ideal accompaniment to another online workshop I'm currently doing called 
"Writing Storybooks for Children".  
In this week's course, Danielle gives guidance on how to develop your own characters 
and then illustrate them.

You absolutely have to see Danielle's work!  Click here -

I was so thrilled that the first thing we had to do in the workshop was to make our own "storybook" out of watercolour paper.  I'm a bookmaker, so I jumped at the opportunity!  
And then I started playing around with ideas for little characters based on Danielle's wonderfully inspiring class notes and videos.  

This little one reminded me that everything happens for a reason.  
I get frustrated with having to scratch around for little nuggets of time 
to make the creative stuff happen and grow small dreams into big reality. 
 "All in good Time",  she knowingly says - while she carries a tiny potted plant on her head.  
She knows about nurturing new growth.
My impatient heart needed reminding.

Go to to read more about this online course 
and other wonderful and inspiring offerings. 
Danielle's workshop was live this week, but you can enrol anytime plus you get lifetime access.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

2 Girls, 2 Boys and 4 Journals

Last year I got a call from my husband's cousin, Aneska.
She had heard about my journaling and bookmaking adventures and had a wonderful idea.
She wanted to know if I could make a personalised journal for each of their children.
I'm a bit of a rogue bookmaker, you see - not an artisan at all.
I just love making them.
And I guess passion precedes (and compensates for) skill - it fuels our learning until we have learnt and practised enough, right?!
So of course I said yes!

She sent me a folder with images, anecdotes and documents related to their births, their names, their interests, her and Claude's hopes and dreams for them.
That way I got to know each one a little better.
And the pictures and stories culminated into ideas.

Aneska is incredibly busy - no rest for a mommy of 4 littles.
Yet she remains mindful of how fleeting these early childhood years are.
So she holds these journals close by so that she can take a few random seconds every now and then to paste down little hand drawn pictures, cards or write a short one liner or anecdote in their journals as life unfolds.
Ultimately over a period of 18 years, those tiny threads of scribbled words and one liners will become a detailed tapestry of story that would have been lost otherwise.

Last weekend I got to photograph them, each one beaming with pride as they held and paged through the books that are being written about them.
The youngest one is 18 months old - but even she seems to get it!
I left there feeling so inspired.  I felt that if she can journal her childrens' stories in the few random seconds in-between - so can I with my sweet little One.
And the looks on those little faces told me that those seconds are so worth it - for it tells them that their stories matter, that what they do and say matter enough to be cherished, that they are noticed and listened to, that they are loved, that they belong.


To make a positive impact in the world as an adult, you have to believe that your contribution is good enough, that it carries weight, that your presence here does make a difference.
Those seeds are planted (or not) during early childhood development.
I believe that journaling children's stories with them is a way to nurture this aspect of self esteem.

So thrilled to have had the opportunity to create these precious, precious containers for each child's story.  It will mean the world to them and their parents 30 years from now.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Good Hope

Franschhoek - wine country and culinary capital
I have just returned from a week of traveling to one of the most beautiful areas in South Africa.
They don't call it the Cape of Good Hope for nothing.  Although the "Good Hope" tag is something that has a long, long history - to this day one cannot return from Cape Town and the Winelands without feeling revived and inspired and a little envious towards the blessed souls who are able to live there!

Here's a quick run-down of what inspired me..

Aneska's Garden

Franschhoek Sunrises

Franschhoek Sunsets

Aneska's Home

Things that dangle from trees in a secret garden

Schoon De Companje, Stellenbosch

Two Oceans Aquarium and Victoria & Alfred Waterfront

5 kids, an Irish Terrier called Madiba and meeting with 2 fellow visual journalers

Glorious food at Bread & Wine, Moreson Estate, Franschhoek

A gorgeous place called L'Ermitage Chateau & Villas in Franschhoek