Art journalling to clarify thoughts

I don’t just art journal to have fun and play with cool supplies – although there’s nothing wrong with that, and I do a lot of it. I also art journal to record my thoughts and clarify how I feel about things; sometimes this is about my job, as well as personal stuff. Today’s first journal page is a work-related one. I like how it turned out.

journal page


Ticking jobs off the list

I’m on leave this week and, aside from relaxing, my aim was to get through my to-do list which was looking a little awesome. I had my usual weekend, Sunday and Monday, so today’s my first real day of leave. I have:

  1. Completed my LIANZA Professional Registration revalidation journal
  2. Prepared my talk and some activities for tomorrow’s Amish event at the library, which I’m speaking at despite not being at work
  3. Competed the text for my LIANZA conference lightning presentation and checked it’s all 20 seconds per slide
  4. Participated in a conference call for the Emerging Leaders Working Group
  5. 99% completed my first assignment for the #HyperLibMOOC

I’ve also slept in every day, watched the America’s Cup races on my laptop in bed, chatted with my best friend Sandra, and tidied up my art desk.

I’m about to:

  1. Work on the mixed media slides for my LIANZA presentation
  2. Do the last 1% of my first MOOC assignment
  3. Email my partner from the ILN project and see how she’s doing
  4. Make a start on the newspaper which is due at the printers on Sunday
  5. Launch into the readings for Module 4 of the MOOC

Tony says I’m scary when I’m on a roll…




It’s time to get sorted

I just posted this on my librarian’s blog, and so much of it applies here, that I am going to re-use it, with a few changes. Here goes:

For a while now, months in fact, I have been mucking around and squandering my time. Enough already! I have things I need to get done:

  • complete my signatures for the 2013 International Signature Exchange
  • create new works to send to Italy for Legato in 2014
  • update my work on my own website, Etsy, Redbubble etc
  • create some new, smaller works, to sell within NZ
  • start marketing my artwork again (it’s been a while)
  • And I have a whole bunch of library-related goals too!

So, enough messing round, enough excuses about grieving for Mum, enough napping in front of tv in the evenings – just enough already. Today I am writing a list and getting back on track.


A theme emerges

Mum’s funeral service, conducted by a local JP who had a lot to do with Mum, has made me think about what I do and don’t believe. Mum was an atheist, as was her dad. I spent some time in the church as a teenager but I suspect that was about belonging more than anything. I certainly don’t call myself a Christian. Thinking all that through seems to be a recurring theme in my journal, as does my changing relationship with my now-retired husband, and career/art time, now that Mum is gone. Here’s what I have been creating with all this in mind:

image0-004 image0-003 image0-002 image0-001 image0


Last year Tony had a couple of health issues, one major, and has not worked for the last 3 months or so. He’s looking very well now and has a clearance to go back to work. The time off has given us time to think and we’ve realised that, at 66 years old, it’s time he retired and enjoyed doing what he wants to do. My Dad died just before his 66th birthday, so that’s had a role in our decision-making. Tony’s been doing front line ambulance work for 15 or so years and, as his boss commented when he handed in his resignation, that’s a long time in a high stress / high adrenaline role.

So, changes are afoot. He has finished work already, bought a bicycle, we’ve sold both cars and bought a smaller car to share (I always had a big car for Mum’s walker & wheelchair) and we no longer have a cleaner or someone mowing the lawns. Tony can potter his way through the housework and gardens etc and still have plenty of time for fishing!

It does feel odd though. Until now, if someone asked what my husband does, I’ve said “He’s an ambulance officer”. Now the answer is “He’s retired”. It has quite a different feel to it somehow…

Our new Toyota Ractis.

Our new Toyota Ractis.

Tony, in uniform, with Mum about 3 1/2 years ago.

Tony, in uniform, with Mum about 3 1/2 years ago.


In the middle of the muddle

In my last post I mentioned that I need to make 20 A4 size mixed media pieces for a Pecha Kucha presentation I’m doing at the LIANZA Conference in late September. I’m almost at the half way mark and having a great time. I’ve stencilled, stamped, painted, weaved paper, cut, glued, ripped … and, as usually happens, I forgot to put gloves on before I got started. Here’s the evidence:


Choosing art over (almost) everything else

In November 2007 I posted about finding time for art. I am going to repeat that entry below, because it is something that is as relevent to me as ever. Perhaps more so, with social networking taking up more time than 2 or 3 years ago.  So tell me, do you make your art your #1 priority, after self and family? Or is art right at the back of the line? It’s a choice we can each make every day…  (I may put a couple of edits in – and will make sure it is clear they are changes form the original)

Do you ever stop and think and what your responsibilities are? And how best to juggle your time so you get things done and still have “art time” or “me time”. It’s a topic I often come back to.
I work full time as a librarian, study art by distance learning, publish a monthly community newspaper and Tony and I are Mum’s caregivers. Am I going to gripe about how busy I am? No way. I think that is one of the things we do wrong. People seem to play “I’m busier than you are” like it is some sort of game, and I think all it does it drain your energy. Accept you are busy and get on with it.
So how do I get art time? Well, for starters…I employ a housekeeper for 3 hours a week, someone comes and does the lawns once a fortnight, and someone else tames the gardens from time to time. (we now have a dishwasher as well, and all the laundry goes in the clothes dryer. Hey, it’s only a power bill, right?)
Due to serious health issues, the medical system provides a breakfast helper, lunchtime helper, and home delivered midday meal for Mum on weekdays. (We still have this level of support, for which I am grateful. I should also have said, my sister comes down once a month for the weekend, to visit Mum and help out. I love her to pieces.) That way I can go to work and not be worrying about whether she is okay, out of bed, had her breakfast and meds etc. Night time is my responsibility. Two days a week a rest home collects her for day care so she has some other company, and I pick her up on the way home from work. Weekends the care is up to Tony and I. So, we are getting a good level of help with Mum. Even though it can be really tiring, I am very grateful that we still have her with us; not everyone is so fortunate.
So, what else? I forgo television. Yep, that’s right. Except for the news, and some art programs, while Mum and Tony watch it while I head for my art room. I try to do other jobs in batches, like paying bills etc, rather than fluffing round endlessly with that sort of task. I try and relax about the state of the place; whilst clean enough and tidy enough, this is no show home.
In the end is comes down to – what would I rather do with this moment, these moments? This, that, or art. Unless my family wants or needs me, art wins most of the time. For me, it’s about knowing what my passion is and going for it heart and soul.
What do you choose most days?

Back home, and off again

I have been away at the annual LIANZA (Library & Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa) conference, held in Christchurch this year. I flew down 36 hours early so I could visit our daughter Yasmine, her partner Adam and our 2-year-old grandson Rory. It was wonderful to see them. The photo is of Rory and I (also known as Grandma Cath).  [I can’t believe I am putting a photo of me on the internet – yikes! Amazing what a grandchild makes you do…]

As always, Conference was very inspiring – I have a had full of ideas, things I want to try, people I want to email, new services to trial. Of course time, money and resources will mean there is some serious prioritising to be done! The flip side of all that is that I am very introverted, so being with so many people for 10 or so hours a day is just exhausting. I have done the Myers Briggs personality test twice, and both times I have scored the top score possible for introversion. It means that at the end of the day I head for my hotel room and lie in the dark for a bit – no radio, tv, lights – nothing – just me and some peace and quiet.

Tomorrow Tony and I are heading of to Wellington for two nights in a good hotel for some r&r. I don’t remember the last time we went away together. My sister is Mum-sitting for us, which is much appreciated.

rory cath 1

Getting back out there

I haven’t entered much lately, or applied for many exhibitions either really, compared with what I have done in the last year or three. I’m not sure why. Maybe I was tired, listening to too much recession talk and being a bit lazy. Today I decided it was time I got over myself and got back out there. So I have …

I have booked exhibition spaces, applied for art awards, put my name forward here and there. To keep track of all the due dates etc I have printed out a new timetable that’s now on my whiteboard directly above my work desk. No more excuses!timetable

New Mt Egmont painting – looking at the values

This week I have four days off work, and I intend spending the whole time painting. I have to get some big works done for an exhibition in Auckland. BUT this coming Friday is Waitangi Day. It’s the day New Zealand celebrates the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, the document that more than 150 years ago was signed between Maori and the Crown detailing how this land would be in the future. It gives Maori equal rights in law – amazing for a colony in the 1800s – and probably one of the reasons New Zealand has, in the main anyway, thrived as a bi-cultural society.

This Friday my town, Patea, celebrates with an event called Paepae in the Park. It’s a massive day with music, food stalls, speeches – all celebrating our diverse community (Patea has a high percentage of Maori, as has this area generally). Businesses are closed but to support the day I open the library, which is next to the park where the event is held. A top NZ band, Katchafire, is playing this year, and we expect about 5,000 people to attend. The library has disabled access toilets, and offers people time out in the shade and quiet. I also think it is good for the library, and me as library manager, to be seen to be involved in events within the community. Last year the event did not go ahead because of a massive industrial fire in town on the day. The year before I had more than 700 people through the doors on the day – amazing, because at that stage our usual weekly footprint count was only 500.egmont-and-cowsWhat does that have to do with painting? Well — I am going to do some small, 4×4 or 6×6, acrylic paintings of Mt Egmont to display – and hopefully sell – in the library. The Mountain (Maunga) is very important to local Maori. When they have been away form the area, seeing Mt Egmont signals that they are ‘home’. So I have cropped a favorite photo of the mountain to square-ish, and turned it to gray-scale to make  the values more obvious. And tomorrow  head into my art room to get messy. Love it.