A little sickness = down time

Here is a little train doodle I made on my way to work.
Here is a little train doodle I made on my way to work.

So I’m sick again – woo hoo. I know it’s super boring to blog about so that’s all I’m going to say. It’s not serious, I’m not dying, I just have a wee head cold and I’ll be back to work tomorrow (I’m saying this as I know my family look at my blog…. love you xo).

As I’ve been laying in the dark and contemplating the meaning of life I realised something. I got sick to slow down a bit. Recently I’ve been working 4 days a week at school, tutoring for four hours on Saturdays, going to the gym, painting and blogging, teaching a bit at Work-Shop, organising my mind for a possible proposal for an exhibition….shiiiish.

My body woke up yesterday and said ‘Bitch – slow the f$5k down’. So here I am blogging when I should be resting. Anyway….so this post will be ultra short as it is just to say 3 tips for wearing lots of hats in your life and making it through without passing out….

1. Listen to your body and rest when it tells you to. If that means laying still in the dark or silence for a while, then that is totally fine.

2. Just get shit done and then you can stop stressing and your brain will stop whirring so you can sleep, watch a movie or just have a normal conversation. But as a human you can only do so much, so take it easy.

3. Watch your favourite shows, eat cake/chocolate/chips and be nice yourself as often as you can.

That is all.

A train doodle I made on my way to work.
A train doodle I made on my way to work.
Advertisements

Saying thanks…

This is where I make stuff.
This is where I make stuff.

Being grateful for things is something most people associate with Oprah and woo woo feelings stuff. So I guess it’s perfect for me to write about this topic today on my blog because, let’s be honest, I’m always talking about my feelings.

Yesterday, a public holiday here in Victoria, I lay in bed thinking of how I had arrived at this very moment (how philosophical of me, I hear you say). I thought about the Big Hearted Business un-conference that I went to last year. Thought about everything that has happened since I went to it, how I cried for a whole week. How I looked through the notes I wrote over the course of the un-conference and made some serious goals.

Since that time in the early months of last year some major changes have happened in my life. I have been the change that I thought something else needed to be. I have been the motivation that I thought I could get from a book or a yoga class. I have refocussed. I decided to take the steps needed to make my life the life I want. But I didn’t do it alone and now I want to say thanks.

Of course I’m really grateful for good health, a job that helps me live my life and buy the things I like and for living in Australia. I think about how lucky I am often. Thanks universe!

Whilst I lay in bed yesterday I felt an overwhelming urge to send Clare Bowditch and the Big Hearted Business team a long (very long) email.  Feeling very emotional, I’m sure that the email may sound a little crazy in hindsight, but in essence I was just writing to say THANKS!

And that has unleashed a friendly thanking monster inside of me, he needs to talk, he is screaming in fact. So I’ve edited down my thanks to 6 people, groups etc. So here goes…

1. I want to thank my husband Luke for being a most wonderful, beautiful, supportive, loving and caring partner in life. For always standing by me. For leaving articles on my desk and for buying me art books when I was feeling down. He is always proud of me and that feels freakin awesome. THANK YOU LUKE.

2. I want to say thanks to my Mum and Dad for always believing in me, even when they have been dubious about some of my choices. They have always been proud of my person, proud of everything I do. THANK YOU.

3. I want to thank the universe and our friend Gerome for finding us this absolutely smashing house. Every time I sit in my studio (pictured throughout this post) I pinch myself a little. This house has made Luke and I truly happy, calm and most of all creative. Wow!

4. I want to thank my family and friends for always being the first people to like my photos on Instagram and Facebook. I also want to thank them for coming to my exhibitions, workshops or commisioning me to make stuff for their family and friends. It makes me feel so loved to have your support.

5. To Kelly Thompson and Work-Shop Melbourne. Kelly is my neighbour and suggested I started teaching workshops from home one day last year. It worked, and now I am tutoring, ha. Thanks mate. Also to Work-Shop Melbourne for promoting my workshops and giving me a chance to teach adults. I love it, thanks guys.

6. To Tasha Hassapis who has designed my brand and logo (for free) and who always knows what to say to help me through a creative rutt. Thank you make. One day we will take over the world ;).

There it is. My thanks is out in the universe. I feel good.

Oh and thanks for reading. Please share your thanks to peeps and stuff with me, I’d love to hear from you.

Some of my materials. And some images I got overseas. Coco Chanel smoking and Michal Sowa's artwork from the movie Amelie. Just some of my favourite things.
Some of my materials. And some images I got overseas. Coco Chanel smoking and Michal Sowa’s artwork from the movie Amelie. Just some of my favourite things.
This is a drawing of my grandma on my desk. I never met her but my Dad has always told me I'm just like her. She was a creative and a piano teacher.
This is a drawing of my grandma on my desk. I never met her but my Dad has always told me I’m just like her. She was a creative and a piano teacher.

Five Random Things…

I have mined the depths of my ‘my-ness’ so here goes my round of 5 random things about me inspired by Pip at meetmeatmikes.com…

1.I once had food poisoning so bad that according to my parents I nearly died. I was about 11, I think it may have been food poisoning and an allergic reaction combined – sorry yuck. I remember seeing my reflection in the mirror and the rash/ swolleness had deformed my face a bit. Also I had an adrenalin shot to my chest that made my heart beat like in the cartoons.

2. I bungy jumped in Queenstown with my friends Katie and Karen when I was 21/22 and it was awesome.

3. I always wanted to be a teacher. I have denied myself the truth of admitting that for ages but it’s true. I especially wanted to be like Mrs Cairns from primary school who used to decorate the whole room in theme, like under the sea, Irish etc. She also used to play music and dance on her desk. I’m building up to that one.

4. I really don’t like stand up comedy. I know I’m sorry – does this make me ‘unMelbourniane’? Perhaps I would break the rules for Dylan Moran but the rest just make me want to put my fingers in my ears and sing ‘la la la’ to ease the pain of listening to them. Sorry comedians.

5. I like to moisturise my entire body after I shower. I love it. My skin is really soft all the time, it makes me feel pretty.

I loved doing this. Thanks Pip xo

Guilt free creativity…

A close up of an little thing I've been working on lately in gouache, coloured pencil, watercolour, gold foil stickers and gell pens
A close up of an little thing I’ve been working on lately in gouache, coloured pencil, watercolour, gold foil stickers and gel pens
I drew this on the train the other day.
I drew this on the train the other day.

Being creative is a strange and curious thing. As wanky as it sounds I feel like this way of thinking and looking at the world  is something I had no choice in having. I remember making things and loving to draw and paint from a really young age. In fact I can’t remember a time in which drawing and painting or even writing wasn’t part of my everyday life.

I remember there was a sense of preciousness about making things back then. A sense of freedom I suppose. I guess as a child we don’t really worry about paying the bills or having enough money to put food on the table. But I don’t think that is really what makes me feel so crazily guilty for making time to be creative.

In fact I don’t think it is me at all. Well I mean technically it is, but really I think I have been brainwashed over time to believe that creativity is not something to take seriously, it’s not important, or even scarier, it’s not valuable.

As an educator of the Visual Arts I often struggle to answer the question ‘but where will this lead me?’, ‘what career path can I get out of this?’ Well to be totally honest I have no idea. It may lead to a myriad of awesome jobs in the Arts or it may not. For most of us ‘creatives’ jobs come secondary to our art practice. It helps to pay the bills and take a break from our brains, that are often overloaded with ideas that we just haven’t figured out how to make something out of yet. The most important thing about learning (in my opinion), whether it is through the Arts or not, is that it opens up your mind, it helps you problem solve and critically engage with the world around you. Being creative means that you can take all these things and use them as fuel to create an artwork, a piece of music, a poem or a dance – isn’t that something important!

For me creativity is like a monster in my brain that never sleeps. It is always moving around, screaming thoughts into my mind. It never ends. It has taken me a long time to realise that working 5 days a week, like everyone else, didn’t really satisfy my need to make stuff. My husband Luke confronted me last year (whilst I had a bit of an emotional breakdown) and said ‘The happiest I ever see you is when you are drawing or painting’ with tears in his eyes – he gets it, that’s why I love him. But in my mind I was stressing out like a mad woman, thinking what am I supposed to do with this information? How can I justify not working full time like the rest of the people I knew? What would people say?

The guilt was immense. But I knew if I didn’t change something about my lifestyle then I risked killing that little monster in my brain, and I really didn’t want to do that.

I now realise I was afraid of ‘making’ because it would unleash that strong sense of uncertainty that comes with the creative process. I tried for years to squash it down into the recesses of a ‘normal life’. Taking risks, being unsure, a state of flux – this is what being creative feels like for me. It feels 50% uncomfortable and 50% amazing. It makes me 100% emotional. Feeling uncertain makes me feel totally vulnerable and ‘spongey’. The world gets soaked into to my pores, people, the light, images, music, sunshine – I turn into one giant sponge and often cry about everything. Making images, painting, feeling inspired  or ‘spongey’ gives me a great sense of wholeness and calm. Don’t get me wrong, I really love teaching but I don’t get this from working 40-50 hours a week.

When I went to the Big Hearted Business conference last year a lot of what was said hit home. For some reason being told that ‘what you make is important’ and ‘you don’t need to be one thing, you can be many things at once’ really resonated. I cried for about 3 days after the conference. The presenters reminded me why I loved making and made me question why I didn’t let myself have the freedom to do what really made me happy. I’d forgotten my little monster, I’d forgotten what made me, me. How awful?

Almost a year later and the sense of guilt as I make every image hangs over me still. I’m getting better at introducing myself as an artist again and a teacher second. I’m trying not to say either in a way that makes them seem unimportant like ‘Oh I’m a teacher’ – with a sad, sullen expression on my face. Or ‘I’m an artist’ really quietly spoken so people can’t hear me properly.

I’m sure one day the guilt will go, I hope so anyway. Let me know if you ever feel guilty about your creativity or how you deal with it or if you have never felt it? I’m interested in sharing our thoughts on this topic.

Bye for now.

I drew this on the train as well. I can't stop with the repetition of colour and shapes at the moment.
I drew this on the train as well. I can’t stop with the repetition of colour and shapes at the moment.

Colours, shapes and finding inspiration to dance to…

INSPIRATIONAL STUFF – EXHIBIT A: Letitia Green

This image was taken from http://www.letitiagreen.com/ and has inspired me to work with bold colour and pattern.
This image was taken from http://www.letitiagreen.com/ and has inspired me to work with bold colour and pattern.

Thanks to the wonderful women at ‘The Design Files’ at http://thedesignfiles.net/ and their Instagram feed I, and I’m guessing a whole bunch of other design file followers, have been lucky enough to have discovered Letitia Green. Letitia’s designs on her scarves make my eyes dance, a crazy kind of jungle dance with some fist pumping and air kicks. I really love this kind of work and this year I have endeavoured to look at more colour and shape as inspiration. Coming from a Mauritian and Sri Lankan background has meant that I have always been surrounded by coloured and patterned fabrics, tropical plants and the brightness of freshly ground spices. I want to look more at these things now to help make work that is more alive and kind of hynotising.

You see once upon a time back in Art School I was obsessed with all things minimal. I realise now that I’m not really a minimalist at all.  This kind of design is pretty fashionable and popular right now I know, but I think these pieces by Letitia are like artworks, and therefore, will stand the test of time.

Letitia has totally inspired me to work with bolder imagery, play with colour and layer up my stuff. And as it turns out she owns a Whippet (lucky lady) and once lived along the Crocodile River in South Africa – how amazing.  You can find her stuff at http://www.letitiagreen.com/.

This images was taken from http://www.letitiagreen.com/, another beautfiul piece.

This image was taken from http://www.letitiagreen.com/, another beautfiul piece.

INSPIRATIONAL STUFF – EXHIBIT B: ‘Express Yourself’ exhibition by Romance was Born at the NGV International

I liked it so much I bought the kids activity book for myself and it's awesome.
I liked it so much I bought the kids activity book for myself and it’s awesome.
Colour coding objects - I freakin loved this idea. And I had this Star Sprinkle when I was a kid so what's not to like.
Colour coding objects – I freakin loved this idea. And I had this Star Sprinkle when I was a kid so what’s not to like.
Umm that's my Carebear. How great are these displays filled with 80s trinkets?
Umm that’s my Carebear. How great are these displays filled with 80s trinkets?

I don’t know what not to say about this exhibition. All I know is I keep making excuses to go back and see it (or rather play in it) again. Romance was Born as I understand is made up of fashion designers, and in my eyes creative gods, Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales who met whilst studying fashion design and launched their Sydney based label in 2005.

Their clothing is seriously special and super duper playful. For the exhibition they have created 3 different spaces to negotiate through. Each space is different with a unique interactive component for kids (or anyone who has a pulse) to work with. I think this exhibition is one of the best I’ve seen for a while. It’s not pretentious, it’s just really jammed packed full of colourful, crazy, creative spunk and who doesn’t like that. From the photos you can see that I embarrassingly loved it so.

Yes I made myself a crown with my cousin Ethan.
Yes I made myself a crown with my cousin Ethan.
This was the wall paper in the second room - AMAZEBALLS. Inspired by Del Kathryn Barton.
This was the wall paper in the second room – AMAZEBALLS. Inspired by Del Kathryn Barton.
Floor video projections of psychedelic fish and lilly pads - if I wasn't going to squash the toddlers I too would have jumped onto these. Maybe next time.
Floor video projections of psychedelic fish and lilly pads – if I wasn’t going to squash the toddlers I too would have jumped onto these. Maybe next time.

INSPIRATIONAL STUFF – EXHIBIT C: Mirka Mora

This is what I'm reading right now.
This is what I’m reading right now.

Last year I was lucky enough to go to the Heide Museum of Modern Art. I don’t get to go to this splendid place very regularly and I had forgotten what great gifts they had to offer. Of course Mirka Mora is an artist whose work totally seduces you and her work was on display on the day I went to Heide. Her choice of colour, freedom of gesture and cheeky characters make for a most wickedly fun art experience. I also had the great opportunity to view a retrospective on Gunter Christmann, but I’ll discuss his amazing work another time.

Since that day I have been wanting to read the Mirka bio, but I didn’t buy it and couldn’t find it on the internets. Luckily one of Luke’s friends has lent it to me. It’s taking me a while as I am terrible at committing myself to reading time, but boy is it interesting. The way she writes is I’m guessing how she speaks – either that or I’m just weird as a strong French accent is in my mind in every word I read. Her energy and playful nature is captured in this book, as well as her insatiable appetite for men and their cute bottoms. It’s really very fun.

That’s all for now folks. If you have any tips or things you think would help inspire me even more I’d love to hear about it.

A thing or two about teenagers…

As a teacher in a Secondary school I spend a good majority of my week around teenagers. Lots of people say kind of inappropriate things when I say I’m a high school teacher; most of them are around having to spend that much time with people aged 12-18 years. But of course I find them pretty cool and I quite enjoy their energy and often miss it when I’m not around them. One of my goals this year is to write about teenagers and the great things I learn about them or from them in my line of work.

(Please note that the things that I write are sometimes huge generalisations and are only my humble ponderings on what I see in my job. They are not gospel, they are not fact, they are just ‘ponderings’ – sharing moments with you and they are not about specific people or events. Phew,  glad I got that little anxiety off my chest.)

As part of my weekly ‘A thing or two about teenagers’ I have created a little character, I still haven’t named her but I’m open to your suggestions. Here she is…

L1310464

This is what I’ve learnt in the past week

(some are things I learnt over the last 5 years of teaching too but have learnt again in the recent week)

1. Teenagers are really good at judging whether or not you are having a bad day. Whenever I feel down or am having a rough day the students I teach are the first to notice. And they say great things like ‘Are you having a bad day?’, ‘You don’t seem very happy today’ or ‘Why are you so cranky?’ I think as adults we don’t say this stuff to each other enough and we should take a hint from the kids and ask each other if we are okay more often. It really helps to know when someone is having a bad day as it can make us more empathetic or less inclined to take their reactions too personally.

2. Regardless of how they are feeling most of the teenagers I see always say ‘Good morning’. The kids at my school are so great at this. Even when I haven’t taught them or they don’t really know me, if I’m walking past them they will say ‘good morning’ or ‘hello’. I walk past adults everyday and they often just look away or pretend not to see me. The kids see me, its not awkward or annoying for them to just say ‘hi’, I like that. The students I teach also always ask me, ‘And how are you today?’ – nice!

3. Teenagers are really easily hurt by the stuff that adults say. I know that most of us as adults know this but I think at times we forget how easily our actions and words affect others, especially kids. On Monday a student in one of my classes told me that he thought his old Art teacher thought he was stupid, like really, really stupid. I asked him how he knew this and he said it’s because she used to always pause when he showed her one of his artworks and say ‘Woooow…..Iiiit’s…..goooooood… ……..Weeeelll….dooone’ – my repetition of letters represents her condescension. Even though he made a joke out of what she said to him I could see that it hurt him and the whole lesson he kept saying that he wasn’t good at Art, I think she (probably unknowingly) convinced him that he was bad at Art. Poor guy.

That’s all for this week. Let me know what your thoughts are on any of these issues in my comments section.

Cheers,

Selina

What do you want to see and read on my blog?

As I head back to work tomorrow I’ve decided to use (some of) my last day of holidays to get organised and plan for the year ahead.

After reading lots of hot tips and suggestions from Pip Lincolne (meetmeatmikes.com/) who is a blogging queen I thought I would ask you what you wanted to see and read on this blog. Of course I have some ideas of my own, that I will present to you with an accompanying photo for your visual pleasure. I really want this blog to be dedicated to all things related to my creative life such as art, food, teaching, learning and fun stuff. I want it to just be like me, down to earth and not too wanky.

Anyway please send me ideas through the comments section on this blog or shoot me an email at selbraine@hotmail.com with any suggestions and I mean any. Please and thank-you!

SUGGESTION 1: Favourite art material of the month. This would include a short ‘how to make stuff with it’ video?

Favourite art material of the month. This would include a short 'how to make stuff with it' video?

SUGGESTION 2: Things that inspire me. This could include books, movies, food, overheard conversations, student work, discussions, plants, outings, exhibitions and articles?

Things that inspire me. This could include books, movies, food, overheard conversations, student work, discussions, plants, outings, exhibitions and articles?
Inspirational things like Romance was Born exhibition book, pasta jewellery by Kate Rhode, Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition and hanging with me family.

SUGGESTION 3: Things I’ve learnt. Seeing as I’m a teacher I thought this could be quite an interesting topic to write about on my blog every week. It could be broken up into groups like ‘Things I learnt about teenagers’, ‘Things I learnt about teaching today’?

This is me learning how to paint at kindy.
This is me learning how to paint at kindy.

SUGGESTION 4: Our house. Maybe a monthly retell of things like how I created my succulent garden, photos of how I designed our living room/ selection of furnture etc. , my collections of objects, cool design stuff in the house etc?

This is our house. It is awesome. It was designed by Robin Williams and freakin love it.
This is the back of our house. It is awesome. It was designed by Robin Williams and freakin love it.

SUGGESTION 5: Food. I know everyone does it so I understand that this may not be so interesting, but I thought I could share some spice tips, Mauritian and Sri Lankan recipes, as well as my own recipes which I pretty much make up almost everyday etc. I do really love to cook and it is a big part of my life. I think this could be something I update once a month?

Here's a little spicy prawn dish I made a little while ago.
Here’s a little spicy prawn dish I made a little while ago.

Cheering myself up, end of holiday blues…

The summer holidays are nearly over for most teachers and kids who will be heading back to school next week. I’m feeling a little low today thinking about all the things I didn’t get around to doing, like painting everyday, finishing novels, posting on my blog more etc – what a downer I’m being.

Anyway here are some pics of things that made me happy – flowers in bottles, a clean workspace, yellow nails, new gel pens and working in my new sketch pad – I’ll post some more things I’ve been up to these hols in a few days. Happy Sunday!

IMG_2561.JPG
IMG_2559.JPG
IMG_2564.JPG

Art on the streets…

Yarn bombing down Swanston Street.
Yarn bombing down Swanston Street.

 

L1310398L1310400 L1310399

My cousin Ethan down in Caledonian Laneway.
My cousin Ethan down in Caledonian Laneway.

L1310403 L1310408

My cousin Joshua loving posing with Sully in Caledonian Laneway.
My cousin Joshua loving posing with Sully in Caledonian Laneway.
Mike Wazowski and Joshua in Caledonain Laneway.
Mike Wazowski and Joshua in Caledonain Laneway.
Some beautiful Indian girls above up high in Union Lane.
Some beautiful Indian girls above up high in Union Lane.

I had a most excellent day today with my cousin Belle and her kids Ethan and Joshua. Ethan loves Street Art so I thought I would meet them in the city and show them a couple of the laneways. On our way we got to see some amazing work, artists in action and all kinds of cool characters. 
My highlight were the yarn bombed trees down Swanston Street, I can’t think of a more beautiful way for the trees to be dressed. Makes me smile and makes me wish I could knit like a demon. Maybe that’s something to save for the winter holidays.

Tutoring, workshops and teaching in 2015

Learning observational drawing skills at my workshop in early 2014.
Learning observational drawing skills at my workshop in early 2014. Photo by Samara Clifford.
Drawing equipment from my workshop in early 2014. Photo by Samara Clifford.
Drawing equipment from my workshop in early 2014. Photo by Samara Clifford.

Hi guys,

Happy New Year. I’m so glad 2015 is here because I made some big decisions in 2014, some were more difficult than others but all has led to my new approach to work/life balance.

As most of you know I have started teaching workshops for adults, teaching watercolour, drawing and all other media. This includes printmaking, collage, acrylic painting etc. I will have more workshops throughout the year so stay posted to my blog.

This year I am going down to 4 days a week of teaching Secondary School Art and Visual Communication Design. This means I have more time to make my own art, yay, and I get to teach in a less formalised manner.

Starting this month I will be taking individual tutoring sessions for adults and children/teenagers (11 years of age and up) from my house. I am also interested in teaching for corporate functions etc. All the info for how to contact me about any of these teaching activities can be found in you click ‘LEARN’ at the top of my blog. Email me if you have questions at selbraine@hotmail.com.

I’m super excited to get my little business going. My first workshop this year will on Thursday 15th January at Work-shop Melbourne. Go to http://www.work-shop.com.au/event/painting-with-watercolour/ to get your tickets.

Hope to see some of you at one of my workshops.

Happy Saturday.

The beautiful Adele concentrating on her drawing skills. Photo by Samara Clifford.
The beautiful Adele concentrating on her drawing skills. Photo by Samara Clifford.
This is Gerard being a most excellent water-colourist.
This is Gerard being a most excellent water-colourist.