No Ordinary Stranger

“No one is ever really a stranger. We cling to the belief that we share nothing with certain people. It’s rubbish. We have almost everything in common with everyone.”

Mark Haddon

She walked through the door of the information centre on an ordinary Friday.

“Hello, can you tell me where I could get some good food?”she asked. “I feel like a burger and chips.”she said.

“Well Im afraid the Train Cafe has closed down but you could try the Pub at the end of the street.” I said.

She then went on to ask me if a bus stopped here that could take her all the way to Melbourne (around 600km away). And would they take her bike on board?

When I rang the bus company they told me they had stopped running that service. But she could get a bus, then a train if she went to the next town.

The local bus wasn’t coming for hours, I could see the frustration on her pretty young face.

Remembering my backpacking days on a shoestring budget. I decided to help. My volunteer shift was about to finish at the information centre.

“How about I take you and your bike to the next town, I have to go there anyway.” I said. Her face lit up, that is all I needed. I could see the relief and understood it well enough.

“My name is Hani.”she said.

In one car trip into town. I learned many things about Hani. She was 25, had studied chemistry and computer science. Her biggest shock about Australia was how expensive the food is. I agreed it does indeed soak up much of your holiday monies.

Hani arrived in Brisbane with her bike. Riding some of the  way and catching trains and buses down the Australian coast (No small feat). I learned she had been couch surfing (https://www.couchsurfing.com). Something they never had when I was travelling. Yet if she did not have somewhere lined up to stay, she camped out under the stars. There are many free camping sites for the braver traveler. I know I could not have done this, especially on my own. I told her to be careful camping out in the bush alone. It wasn’t the snakes and spiders I worried about.

The kids thought it a big treat taking Hani into town.  Especially when we made a stop at the golden Arches for the long over due burger.

My daughter has a fascination with Chinese language. To her, someone from South Korea was just as interesting. We drove to the hostel. My standards had risen over the years on accommodation. To me this hostel looked a bit shady. Hani said it would be fine. I gave her my number and told her to call me if she felt unsafe.

We decided to meet for lunch. An Aussie beach day with fish and chips on the Sunday. The kids grinned from ear to ear when Hani met them holding two giant size boxes of chocolates.

The spring weather did not disappoint. I saw a little of my young self in Hani. I felt like we had met before, she talked with the kids and played in the surf alongside my daughter and our friends. I smiled watching them. Such a beautiful sunny spring day enhanced by a stranger.

It’s funny how a total stranger can feel like an old friend. Hani you are an amazing, intelligent young women. I wish you much joy in your life, no matter where you travel. You touched our lives with your smile and sense of humour.

We will treasure our special day at Tathra beach. With one hundred and one seagulls, fighting for our lunch and a happy backpacker named Hani.

No one is ever really a stranger if you just give them some of your time.

Hani sent me a message from Melbourne. She said when she arrives back home in Seoul she will pass on our kindness to another traveller. I hope she does.

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I have met many strangers through my blogging and like my experience with Hani I feel very blessed.

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Bird O’Clock

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Sometimes when inspiration won’t come and I feel like I am stagnant and uncreative I know I need a reboot. I go on an outing, I did this with my last trip to the zoo and getting out and about is a great way to fuel those creative fires.

An opportunity arose to visit a bird aviary on my recent trip to Canberra.

My husband wanted to see the War Memorial, art galleries all the usual stuff the Capital city has to offer. We agreed to see as much as we could in the three days, whilst the kids were at school camp.

The aviary went way beyond my expectations. They had many species of birds from all over the world. The time passed quickly. I sat captivated. Looking up to the tops of the aviary I did feel a little sad. The birds were not free but most of them had only known captivity and would not survive in the real world. The caretaker told me sometimes hawks and eagles tear the nets and grab the birds. When the netting is open he mentioned most of the birds come back because they know they get fed and feel safe.

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When you walk through the gates with your bowl of food beware. The cheekiest lorikeets make themselves known. Using your arms as bar stools, they eat and bicker among themselves.DSCN7065 (copy)

 

I noticed the park also accepted birds that people no longer wanted. I overheard an elderly woman talking to her pet Lorikeet, saying goodbye. She told him he would meet some new friends in there. (broke my heart) She said she and her husband were not able to care for the bird anymore. At least he would have a good home. But I could not help noticing the sadness in her voice as she handed him over to the park owners. Me, yes, I felt her loss too.

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I think I must have taken at least a hundred photo’s on that day. But as usual not all of them turn out well, but these are a few that I love.

 

My only disappointment, I could not find the bird I love to sketch. The blue wren. The gardener said they escape out of the holes in the nets (which they fix daily) and come and go as they please.

The good news  I found some on my morning walk. They had made their home in the blackberry bushes, far away from my cats.

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So my message to you.

Go for that outing for some extra inspiration. You may only need to step out into your own back yard.

Ending with a little story….Why do birds make me happy? I don’t know, I only know that I feel a connection to them. I remember a day when I was young and my cat had climbed up into a tree hunting a nest of poor newborn sparrows. I scolded her, grabbing a ladder I leaned it up against the old gum tree and climbed high to get her down. My father laughed at me and said that the cat was just doing what cats do and if I loved birds I should not own a cat. It was on that day when I came home from a trip to town. I found an empty nest and a cat with a full belly; I realised I had two conflicting passions. Such sadness I felt, that I could not save those birds. My conflicting passions still haunt me today. I think my father was right all those years ago.

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The Magic of Virtual Friendships

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Jewellery By Mary From MagicsOfCreation her Etsy shop.

It really is a small and wonderful world.

I can get to know a person on the other side of the globe, without leaving my house. Learn about how they live in a matter of a few posts.

There are no limits to where I can go. I only have to extend my fingers and type a comment on someone’s blog and something magical can happen. Blogging for me began as a way to  journal about the things that inspire me to write or sketch.

But I did not plan on the many connections I have made with you, oh the people I have met. So many talented and unique people who inspire my creative mind to dig deep. (You all know who you are.) If I visit your site and follow you, then you are sharing something of value to me. Like Mary.

I met Mary through her visits to my blog and then we discovered we both enjoy art.

Mary is an artist I admire. Every time I visit her space I am in awe of her work. Mary helped me set up my Etsy shop. It still needs work, but having friends like Mary made the process easier. So I just wanted to say thank you MARY I appreciate YOU.

When I purchased one of Mary’s beautiful pendants there was a surprise. A stunning moon pendant had been gifted to me (above) . Mary believes we should make art our fashion. How could I not, with her wonderful designs. I hope you skip on over to her shop and take a look. I walk the town proud to wear her art. It complete’s me, knowing it came from halfway across the globe makes me smile.

If there is an artists shop you love who inspires you please share in the comments.

Below is my hand painted stone pendant that I will treasure always, it is everything I imagined it would be. Thanks Mary.

The link to Mary’s shop

https://www.etsy.com/au/listing/243335362/sun-necklace-original-stone-art-original?ref=hp_mod_rf

Jewellery by Mary from MagicsOfCreation at Etsy.com

Jewellery by Mary from MagicsOfCreation at Etsy.com

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Follow Your Heart

Zebra (Mogo Zoo) by Kath Unsworth

Zebra (Mogo Zoo)
by Kath Unsworth

When you discover your gifts, those moments of inspiration take hold. The hours speed past, yet you feel like you are in a place where time stands still. A place where you feel complete.

“The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.”

Joseph Campbell

I love that quote. I know that my art is complete if I listen to my heart.

You know that little voice or vibe you get in your very soul, it’s a creative itch that won’t go away, that’s your ticket to freedom.

If I force something  my work is never as good.

On a recent trip to the Mogo Zoo to entertain the children, I found myself inspired by nature, as always. I feel sorry for caged animals, but zoo’s play a very important part in educating us on how amazing this earth can be and the breeding programs alone, assure the continuation of each species.

A bunch of happy children ran wildly about the park soaking up zoo life. I found myself in a daze, captivated by the light and shadow. I imagined the art I could create with a handful of pencils and some good paper. But the luxury of sitting still and doing a couple of animal portraits, was not the order of the day.

This day was all about the kids. So with trusty camera in hand I collected the memorable moments to store for later. When I returned home the zebra called to me and I could not wait to sketch, there is something about that photo that inspired me. I don’t question why any more I just follow my heart.

After our visit (we walked the circuit twice) we all agreed that nature indeed is an amazing gift. Every visit I learn something new. My daughter and I adore snow leopards (below) but dream about seeing them in their natural habitat (brrr). We wondered if they were dreaming of the same thing.

Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard

When you do the thing that inspires you, wonderful moments float to the surface. I know my art is just a hobby. Yet it is leading me somewhere wonderful. To a place of completeness, where I peel off the layers of self-doubt and become my true self.

How about you, when you follow your heart does your heartbeat match the beat of the universe?

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Happiness is……..

Art work by Kath Unsworth FOR my MUM

Art work by Kath Unsworth

My joy is the silence, waiting and listening.

 I am grounded, within those small moments

Life in all of its complexities does not exist.

The birds song is the sound of happiness.

The real joy, is finding someone who shares that passion.

A recent trip to the Botanical gardens, a day out for my mothers birthday, I asked for a hint on what I could buy her as a gift. She said she would like one of my bird sketches. We stopped at the café, and ordered  hot chocolates before our walk. The first thing I noticed was the amount of wrens flitting about and jumping from table to table.

Happiness washed over me.

I cannot deny the simple fact that birds make me happy. On this particular day I did not have my camera with me. The children thought the cheeky birds were cute and fed them crumbs. I sat quietly grinning and savoured the moment.

I think we forget to enjoy those tiny moments. A wren sat on the back of my mum’s chair and we both smiled. My mum loves birds too.

My mum knows happiness and makes every day count. She is thankful for the sunshine on a winter’s day. She smiles at the children playing in the playground and enjoys her surroundings where ever we go, especially the birds. I feel blessed she handed her positiveness down to us.

Happy birthday mum you are my inspiration.

After that day in the gardens I decided I would sketch a blue wren for her birthday. I added a bit of extra charm by using newspaper and was happy with the results. The best way to express how much I love my mum is through my art.

Happiness is sharing my passion for birds with my beautiful mum.

I leave you with Mary Oliver, she really knew how to see and enjoy the smallest of moments. Her passion for nature shines through.

“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”
― Mary Oliver

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Discover your passion

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Sugar from the picture book Sugar and Spice By Kath unsworth

The picture book has taken a different turn AGAIN! When you think you know exactly where you are and then BAM! Something happens and you see an opportunity to grow.

Discovering how far you can take a dream is worth the effort. I’m in no hurry to finish. I want it to be the best of what I can produce. And so I took and online Craftsy course.

The Art of Picture books with Shadra Strickland

http://www.craftsy.com/class/the-art-of-the-picture-book/1128?_ct=sbqii-sqjuweho-dum&_ctp=10&rceId=1435020627643~75d44cmp

Shadra has opened my eyes to many issues with my layout, mood, perspective, the list is endless. I think its okay to take a step backward if it means you will learn. I’m making progress in more ways than I can imagine. Building skills I can put to good use over and over.

This week after many changes to my story I came across Susanna Leonard Hill’s post.

A CHALLENGE

A competition for illustrators. The word DISCOVER is the theme.

The BRIEF

does the illustration evoke a sense of story,
 – is the picture readable to a young audience,
 – how well does it show the character(s) and
 – is/are the character(s) appealing (character development),
 – originality,
 – skill.

My draft of Sugar the calf (above) discovering how frightful a day at the fair can be. Needs more work, I want to push it further I have submitted this image. I will be improving on it no doubt.

I am hoping to win the big prize, please wish me luck

 

I hope I filled the brief? What do you think? Would you vote for me after reading the brief?

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A Room with a View

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I will take you back a couple of weeks.

Life needs to slow down, sometimes we just need to cease.

Being told to rest after blood tests and many visits to the doctors, with no results about why I was fatigued and weak.

The word REST is not in my vocabulary.

The Specialist said I will probably never know what caused my illness. Maybe a virus?

I don’t like to talk about being ill. I believe it just feeds the negative but I have not had the strength to blog, sketch or even read books. That loss of energy and inspiration is nothing short of dismal, when all you can do is NOTHING.

My busy life of art, replaced with nothing but time and looking out the window.

Sitting there day after day, watching the beautiful Rosella’s come and go and watching my husband do all the work. You would think I could relax and enjoy the break. I found it so frustrating to do nothing.

LESSON LEARNED

It gave me time to think, it gave me time to worry.

Six months gone and I am nowhere near finished any of my projects. AGAIN you say. But after being unwell I had to take a new approach.

At the moment I’m happy just to be able to do my chores. I’m smiling as I put the washing on the line or making my kids a Vegemite sandwich for school.

I’m laughing with my daughter as we sit through a Harry potter Marathon (her suggestion to help me rest).

Happy being able to give a tasty dinner for my tired husband. He has been up every day working at 5am chasing cows and then coming home to run the house.

I’m chuffed to sit with my son and watch him win every race on Mario Cart.

I never appreciated being able.

And now that I have my strength back I give thanks for a wonderful supportive family. I have even more admiration for those who go through their day unable to do the little things we all take for granted.

I will leave you with a few images of my Sunday picnic at Brogo Dam. Soak up life people and appreciate the most basic of human needs.

To sit and do nothing if only for a while.

Appreciate the sun, the moon and the stars above but most of all appreciate you are still here and every day is a gift.

Picnic at Brogo Dam

Picnic at Brogo Dam

Kids playing

Kids playing

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You Can Do It!

Life challenges and surprises me often as do my two gorgeous children.

I am now armed with new prisma-colour blue drafting pencils. As I found my black ink outlines on the illustrations were a little too heavy and using these pencils I can change something if I need to, before rendering the image.

Yes I know I am fussy, I should have had these illustrations for Sugar and Spice done already. But each time I re-do them I learn something. It’s not easy making a decision to do them again, let me tell you. It hurts each time I don’t get it right. All that work, all those hours and countless copies of the one image.

This image below is a good example the cat (Spice) is coming along nicely, the kewpie dolls need canes as when I shared the draft on Facebook, people thought they were ballerina’s. The lines are too hard on the dolls and so when I do the next one I will use the new drafting pencils. I must deliver the best piece of work that I can muster and I will not settle for less. I’m getting closer now I can feel it.

Draft from Sugar and Spice

Draft from Sugar and Spice

My daughter inspires me to never give up. The other day she came home a little frustrated. She has been practicing the recorder now since last year. A few of the children from her school will be going to play at the Opera House with over 200 other kiddies. Last Thursday she found out, that she may be playing with the wrong hand.

“All that hard work.” she said “For nothing.” she said. I tried to console her reminding her no practice is for nothing and I offered her a challenge.

“You can do this! How about if you can play the three songs by August with your other hand, I will give you fifty dollars.” She huffed at that. But went away to her room. I heard her playing the songs over and over. Four days later she came to me and played this with her other hand. Not bad for a few days practice, looks like she will get that fifty dollars. I also told her brother that he can earn fifty dollars too, if he sticks with his new Karate classes. (Another story) So I may be a bit poorer in August.

Willow is also working on her picture book (The Magpie Tree). She is practicing sketching birds in illustrator pens, (such detail) each bird is created in fine dots. I have no doubt one day she will get to see her work published. It is such an honour to sit alongside her and watch her work so hard and have beautiful things to show for it.

Art by W. Unsworth

Art by W. Unsworth

And so I keep cheering my children onwards and they inspire me every day. I hope you enjoyed the music and our view from the deck. I hope we inspired you in some small way to never give up on your dreams.

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Making ART with the sisterhood at Bundanon

“ART is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.”   – Oscar Wilde

Art by Kath

Kath

Two nights and three days attending an art retreat at Bundanon, it would not be stretching the truth if I said I could not wait . Up at 5am and eager to get on the road. Sharing time with two of my younger sisters is a rare treat these days.

We met up at the Arthur Boyd Homestead, we greeted some of the group and enjoyed a scrumptious morning tea. Then a wonderful tour through the halls of The Homestead, where some of Arthur Boyd’s work is on display, along with many other family members. Walking into his studio, the smell of oil paints and unfinished paintings resting on walls, left me dreaming of a studio….. one day.

The family members still use the studio when they come to stay at the homestead.  Admiring a generation of Boyd’s, each unique and talented in some creative form. Needless to say I was also fired up and ready for the art to start.

My sisters warned me not to expect a masterpiece from the experience. They explained it was more about the process, having FUN and using mediums that I may not have used before. Both my sister as you will see from some of their art pieces below, are very talented artists who inspire me in so many ways. A group of women, from all walks of life greeted us like old friends at the Bundanon Education Centre. Some of them die-hard attendees like one of my sisters, coming to the retreat for the last 11 years. There were a few newbies among them, like me.

Our ART Teacher Jim talked us through the lessons, he possessed a cheeky sense of humour. I could tell he enjoyed his job. I will spare you the fine details of each lesson but I must say my mind began to fill with new possibilities and new mediums to express myself through art. We attempted one collaboration piece (see below). We had a wonderful morning sketching nature down by a creek, in the shade of the leech infested trees. Which found their mark on a few bodies (not me).

We sketched layers of collage pieces, from above looking up to the wonderful canopy and then the forest floor. On our last day we created 3D art which challenged me the most, a boat from recycled materials. (Mine went in the bin, when I got home.) To witness such a diverse range of work, every piece unique as the person who created it. Everyone encouraged each other. It was not a competition, it was all about letting go, stepping outside my comfort zone and trying new things.

The nights brought laughter, the odd wine, delicious food and silly games. Silly games are good for the soul and for getting to know people. The view from my window each morning was heavenly. I soaked up every inch of that wonderful holiday.

The classroom in art mode became so intense (in a good way) and a very individual experience, we all got carried away with our creations. Transported to some realm where anything is possible, if you just…… let go.

My Banksia picture using charcoal, tea stains for the background, bright pastels and then posca paint pens left me with a sense of achievement. A bonus, a piece I could hang on my wall to remember the experience.

I also enjoyed sister giggles, the silly games, pushing myself out of my comfort zone and sharing in the laughs with our fantastic teacher Jim. I thank the sisterhood of Bundanon for making my first retreat an inspiring one. To that crazy group of talented women I salute you. If there is a place for me, I am booked in for next year. Have you been pushed out of your comfort zone? Tell me about your experience.

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Art by Kath Unsworth

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Releasing the Magic

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My guests Anne and Jessica Peterson

I have been lucky enough to find myself recovering (still in a creative haze) from an art retreat and will be posting about it soon. In the meantime. I would like to introduce a mother and daughter team who I met whilst chasing this writing dream.

My guests today are the talented duo Anne and Jessica Peterson, I met Anne through completing a Jeff Goins online writing course. Anne has an interesting journey of how she came to write children’s books. I thought it would be nice to share a slice of her writing life. It inspires me to hold onto those dreams and work hard to deliver my best work.

Where we begin is sometimes different to where we end up.

Anne speaks about those stories that bubble up inside her and spill onto the page and I can relate to that, I am inspired by her drive and creativity and the fact she found a wonderful world she can share with her talented daughter, Jessica (amazing artist). Jessica is an artist with a magical sense of the whimsical. Jess sees the world in a unique way, you only have to look at her work to see the magic. Emma’s Wish is a beautiful story the words and illustrations take you on a visual journey like no other. Please visit the trailers to get the whole experience, they are short and very sweet. I will leave it to Anne to explain her journey.

Releasing the Magic

I did it. I knew I needed to write my story, and so I did it. It was one of the hardest things I ever did. Writing my memoir was like opening up the door of my life and letting everyone inside.

But I need to tell you about what happened afterwards.

You see, once I wrote it another part of me opened up. And in that part sat a trunk, filled with children’s stories. And they started to bubble out of me. And then an opportunity appeared. Sometimes that happens when you start looking at your dreams. It was a chance to see one of the stories come to life. All we needed to do was get it down on paper in three months. But my daughter Jessica wasn’t sure three months was enough time.

“I wish we could do something with the art I already have,” she told me.

The mom part of me loves trying to solve problems so I said, “Let me think about it.”

Looking at her charcoal self portraits and her paintings, I let myself get lost in them.

But as I focused on one particular piece, Emma’s Wish was born. It was like Emma stepped out of the painting and told me her story. And all I had to do was write it down.

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Emma’s Wish artwork supplied by Anne Peterson

Most books are written and then illustrated, but this was not the case. Emma’s Wish is the story of a girl who had dreams of seeing the world. But one day everything changed. Real life is like that. Emma still had her adventure, but it just looked different.

Then we created The Crooked House. And in this book you’ll meet a little girl named Kerri who has a secret. Have you ever been embarrassed about something? Well Kerry was. She didn’t want anyone to know where she lived. Find out how Kerri changed her mind about her house and how it changed her life.

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The Crooked House artwork supplied by Anne Peterson

I love books. As a little girl, I’d climb up on my Aunt Jeanette’s chair to read A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. Getting lost within the pages, I never wanted to come out. That’s when a seed was planted, the desire to create stories for others.

Collaborating with someone on a story is special. But when that person is someone you love, it’s like a magical dance. But if you don’t believe me, ask Emma.
To see the trailer for Emma’s Wish click here.

To see the trailer for The Crooked House, click here.

Coming soon: two poetry books. One is illustrated with Jessica’s photography, the other with her ink drawings.

To find out about upcoming books:

Anne’s website
Facebook Page
Pinterest

Twitter

Jessica’s website
Facebook Page
Twitter
Pinterest

I hope you enjoyed Anne and Jessica’s journey, please leave a comment or check out the links above.

Posted in Guest blogger, Inspiration | Tagged , , , , , , , | 78 Comments