Strange Dreams and Making Stuff

It’s 4am, and I can’t sleep. I had a strange dream, and that led to lots of thinking, which is never conducive to getting back to sleep. I dreamt about hospitals. Being in one, visiting people I knew who were there, and the trickiest part, dreaming that my dad was visiting me there. That part was the most real. I remember my hand on his arm, feeling the warmth of his skin, and the strangeness of the vibration of his fistula (he was on dialysis for many years).

Last week, I was given the eviction date for my baby boy. I’ll be having a c section at 38.5 weeks. It’s a strange thing to know in advance the exact date your baby will be born. Of course I knew there’d be a c section happening, and let’s face it, there’s not really any fun way for a baby to come out! That said, it’s got me thinking a lot about hospitals, my last two c sections, and wondering what it will be like this time.

My first was born via emergency c section, 26 hours after I had been induced. It was surreal and dramatic, full of fear and confusion (perhaps it is always a bit like that the first time?). I remember the slowness of the induction. Waiting for things to “happen”. Wanting to be shut away alone as the contractions increased. It felt quite primal, despite the medical intervention that got me there. I remember my sister and my husband trying to entertain themselves through the long, and rather boring hours (for them, anyway). No iPhones back then! Arguing with my husband about whether he was allowed to video the event – no bloody way, as far as I was concerned. Then suddenly things got very serious very quickly. A whole bunch of people rushing into the room, strange faces telling me what they were about to do to me, being rushed down a corridor to the operating room, the terrified look on my husbands face, and that painful wait to hear my baby cry, and know that he was ok.

I spent the next few days shell shocked, while I tried to process exactly what had just happened. As I lay there in pain post surgery, doped up on morphine, I thought of my dad, and how brave he was to have so many operations, so many times. Despite what people say about mummies who are “too posh to push”, a c section is really bloody painful. I know it isn’t always like this, but I couldn’t walk upright for weeks. Getting out of bed, out of chairs, pretty much everything, hurt for months. I still have a numb section on my stomach from the nerve damage. After that, I was pretty nervous about the prospect of baby number 2.

My second c section was very different. I had a date booked at 39 weeks. At just over 36 weeks, my daughter decided that was too long to wait, and I went into labour. 10 minutes after I got to the hospital, the spinal was in, and I was off to the operating room. 30 minutes later, she was out. It was all so calm and civilised. While I was in recovery, I chatted to the nurses about their holiday plans. Then up to my room for the first proper cuddle. It was surreal, in that it was so fast and calm, but had none of the terror of the first time around! The recovery was painful, but no where near as bad as the first time.

I am expecting (hoping?) this time will be more like the second. It’s still hard not to feel fearful though. Scared of the procedure, scared of something going wrong, scared of the pain and recovery. I won’t be able to take as many painkillers (I can no longer tolerate NSAIDs), and that makes me nervous.

This time around, I also have two older children. I think they will be helpful, and love their little brother. I also suspect they will be a bit cranky and resentful of the amount of time he takes up.

All of the contemplation and waiting of pregnancy is a great motivator for creativity. When pregnant with my son, I painted about 70 watercolours. With my daughter, I took up knitting and did lots of abstract acrylics.

This time around, I’m making endless flowers. Watercolours, pen drawings, collages and embroideries. It’s like there is a surge of ideas, and an urgency to get it all out NOW, while I still have the chance. I kind of like that while my body is performing the ultimate act of creativity, my artistic self is on such a roll.

Here are some of the things I’ve been making…

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Line Drawing and reigniting my creative spark

Recently I went and did a little course at Longina Phillips Design. The class focused on drawing for fabric design. I had such a lovely time. I was surrounded by some seriously talented artists, gorgeous flowers, not to mention snacks and tea!

We did a series of drawing exercises, and then got down to work on our main drawings. There were some lovely flowers to use as inspiration

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How gorgeous is this enormous rose?

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I had the most fun with this magnolia branch.

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I’m not sure what I will make with my drawings yet. When they are finished, I’ll scan them and have a play on photo shop. Regardless, it was great to do a class for the first time in years. I’m feeling a lot more motivated and inspired! I’ve been working on a lot of detailed roses, and I’m really enjoying the meditative process of all of the detailed line work.

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Finding Your Creative Spark

Creativity is an interesting thing. A lot of people think you either have it or you don’t, but I don’t really think it works that way. In Living the Creative Life, Rice Freeman-Zachery states “creativity is less about having the ideas and more about working with ideas” (pg. 21). In essence, its having the ability to actually make something of your day dreams.

A lot of people are creative in non “arty” ways. The beautifully stylish, and well put together friend, who clearly has a very finely tuned visual aesthetic. That friend who is a visionary cook, crafting beautiful flavours. The one who comes up with amazing spaces for their children to play in. There are so many ways to be creative in everyday life.

As an artist, theres a perception that I am a never ending source of creativity and ideas. In truth, thats often not the case! Sometimes creativity needs a little push, and some effort to see things differently.

So where do I find my creative spark? Well, there’s the obvious one, the internet. I get a lot of inspiration from Instagram, Pinterest and other blogs. There are so many people, doing such lovely things in the world. So many beautiful ideas to draw upon.

Pinterest is a particular favourite of mine. So many visual resources at your fingertips! I used to collect images in visual diaries. I have at least 10 books floating around in my studio, full of little clippings from various things. Now, more often, I use pinterest. Pictures of birds, flowers, vintage prints, artists I love, beautiful spaces… Its almost endless. I find it can also be a bit of a vortex though. You can easily lose yourself in all of the gorgeousness, and find yourself overwhelmed by the perfection. Too much instagram and pinterest can actually be a bit demotivating. So much pretty! How can I possibly compete? Sometimes its good to step away, seek your inspiration elsewhere.

So where else can you find inspiration?

Children. There’s something so lovely about the way young children like to stop and spot the tiniest things when you go for a walk. A tiny flower hidden somewhere, little bugs, a beautiful plant in someone’s garden. If you stop and listen, children can help you see the world from a different perspective. So much of my colouring book, Hidden Places, was inspired by walks with my daughter around the local neighbourhood.

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Memories. I will often draw upon my memories of a place, a person, a smell, when I’m looking for ideas.  There are particular flowers that remind me of people, that I find myself drawing over and over (Camelias pop up all the time, whether I want them to or not!)

Book shops. A wander around a beautiful book store will always get my imagination flowing. Kinokuniya is my all time favourite, but I also love Modern Times and Better Read then Dead in Newtown.

Art shops. I could spend ages in an art shop. Just wandering around, looking at all of the materials, imagining the possibilities. Sometimes I have to stop myself from buying random pieces of beautiful paper. There is only so much space in my studio! Ditto for fabric shops.

Playing with my vintage silk collection. The colours are always inspiring. One of the things I love most about Japanese silk, is the unexpected colour combinations.

Reading. So much of what I make is “pretty”. Which is nice, I love pretty things! But often, I feel like I need something deeper then my work just being beautiful. At the moment I am reading Hugh MacKay’s “The Good Life”. It’s got me thinking about things not being too “nice” and about the beauty that can be found in imperfection.

Cookbooks. Obviously, cooking is a big part of my creative life. I spend a lot of time poring over cook books, looking for ideas. I love Jamie Oliver and refer to his books a lot, but more often, I find myself reading my mum’s old books. The Women’s Weekly cookbook from the 1970’s, and mum’s old copy of The Common Sense Cookery Book get a big work out. I find getting an understanding of good basic recipes, helps me to then break them down into allergy friendly versions.

Creative People. My sister is one of the most creative people I know. She can make pretty much anything she sets her mind to! She has a gift for creating beautiful spaces, with a distinct mood, and I often think of her when I’m searching for ideas. Its great to surround yourself with other creative folk (even if its only online!).

There are so many ways to get the ideas flowing. The trick is bringing them to fruition!

So where do you find your creative spark?