Today my youngest son Tom is 25 years old.

Although he lives away, I think of him out there in the world, living his brave and colourful life.

This week my exhibition, Elemental, opens at Wangaratta Art Gallery. My sons will be there, and it’s a marvel how happy that makes me feel. A strange business, being a happy parent. Taming this too enthusiastic joy down to a less embarrassing version of delight when they’re around.

Happy birthday my dear Tom.

Copy of Tom2009

Paint like a child

February 22, 2012

Recently I was invited, along with 4 other artists, to be part of an exhibition of works inspired by our children’s art, which would also be exhibited in the show. A fabulous project called A Child Could Have Done It.

The best part was remembering how children just draw or paint or make without worrying about the result ahead of time, and emulating that. So much fun.

Here is a painting by my son Tom just before he turned 5. It made me remember how he’d climb up onto the carport roof to watch the sun go down.

Gently comes the night

With veils of day soaked in dreams

As behind blinded windows we retreat,

But for children and the like.

 

She will wrap surprised creatures

In hues that unfold and hover

Like maids-in-waiting, then lightly

Drape the world in peaceful dark

Babies versus the art life

February 8, 2012

There is the pull towards the making, drawing, creating something out of the stuff that gets absorbed via curiosity and by just being open. The need to process and give it out again.

And then there’s the wanting children. Fortunately for me, I have three.

Wanting the two things – to make a great family and to make great art – sets up a pull between them. They each want full attention. It seems almost impossible to do both things well, at once.

Recently I found a stack of drawings that I made in the early days of raising a family. Modest drawings made in small moments. (Lots of sleeping babies.) And it looks to me now that, although I spent less time on the art side of things, in those moments I was so alive, and so glad to keep hold of that thread.

Making these drawings I was remembering who I am, in amongst the crowded days that belonged to my family. And now they are such a delight – a record of my children being who they are, apart from me, way back then. I felt it was imperative to make those moments, not only for myself.

Causes for worry

January 18, 2012

Since my last post, a considerable number of opportunities have presented themselves to me as practice for not worrying. Even before the post went up, it disappeared, due to a failure in the system to save a draft. So what you read is my rewrite from memory of the first attempt at publishing. An immediate test of my resolve. And only the first.

That evening I watched with alarm a doco about the diminishing numbers of big fish in the oceans and the consequences thereof. If you wish to test your own ability to not worry, it’s called The End of the Line. At the end of the film it suggests ways to help – a kindness to a worrier. (Mm, from worrier to warrior. Sorry)

But beyond small irritaions and global disasters is another catagory of worry that you suddenly have access to when you have a child, or three.

Two nights ago my youngest son Tom called me around 11 pm from a lonely tram stop in the suburbs. An over-active imagination being a classic cause of worry, he suddenly felt the need to talk to someone, and he figured I’d still be up. We talked until the tram arrived with one other man on it. We said goodbye, and I went back to bed.

Now, I knew it was a half hour trip home, so I lay there not worrying til midnight, then called to make sure he’d arrived safely.

During that half hour of waiting, while my grownup son travelled home on a tram in a faraway city, I found myself remembering events from his childhood. In particular, the first time I sent he and his two older brothers on a walk to the shops on their own to buy icecreams. It was a deliberate moment, a decision on my part to let go a little, and trust that they would be safe out in the world of that small town.
Copy of woodend_445

Sammy and no-one else

June 12, 2011

Today I phoned my son’s house and my grandson answered. Sam is 3. I heard his mum’s voice somewhere behind him. Who are you? he asked. Oh Rosi-Pip can you come with us on the train?

I needed to speak with his mum but he said no only he wanted to talk with me. And next thing he said Bye Rosi-Pip and hung up.

I called again. He answered again. We had a similar coversation except that I attempted to cleverly persuade him to give the phone to one of his parents. Bye. And click goes the receiver.

A third call and once again he answers. Not wanting him to hang up again I was careful to keep the conversation going. As we talked of eating all the corn in the vegie garden and being a watermelon or a pineapple I found that what I needed to talk about with his parents didn’t seem as important as it had. We both had a laugh and remembered how we like each other so much and then said goodbye.

I must call him more often.
Copy of sam mothers day 09

Falls Creek in May

May 8, 2011

Today a cloud was blown around me by a small breeze as I sat on top of Mount McKay. It covered the sun and arched above my head and filled my view in a half dome. A chill came with it and a feeling of expectancy.

For much of the past two days up there in the alps the clouds skipped across a blue sky and threw shadows on yellow ochre plains. Silver skeletons of burnt bleached snow gums looked like fur from a distance and like cast metal close up.

While I sat there painting, my son Tom rang to wish me a happy mothers day. I was very happy, and here is the painting.

Copy of rocky valley 5

I have always loved the sea, but living here near the mountains I’m discovering a different peacefulness that comes from emersing myself in a wild place. It’s the quiet and the coolness.

I know it can be the opposite to that, but not this time.

Copy of pretty valley

Violence

May 3, 2011

A few days ago we heard on the news that a young man and his three children were killed in an air raid. His father, a megalomaniac, was the intended target.

Last night we heard that a man who is responsible for many acts of violence around the world was killed in a surprise attack. ‘He used his wife as a human shield’ they said.

Both reports made me feel sick. It was the smiles on people’s faces that did it. Of course the world can do without such men. And I reckon I would feel like avenging a murdered loved one, and it all makes me feel sick.

I feel compelled to post a quote I saw in my friend’s studio recently.

“I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.” Mahatma Gandhi.

Copy of Tom babe

Happy Birthday Benjamin

April 23, 2011

It’s late on Easter Saturday night and I’ve just painted some boiled eggs just as my mum used to do, ready for Sunday breakfast.

At breakfast time 25 years ago my body flicked the automatic switch that heralded the delivery into the outside world of my second beautiful son. Now he is 6′ 7″ and I wonder how this feat was possible.

That babe, so new and filled with his own kind of wonder, is still in the man.

There’s so much to wonder about in all of this, and I’m grateful for it all.

Ben

A few years ago I lost the nerve for performance. On a whim, and with no practice, I sang a few songs in public, badly. I hadn’t sung for a year or so – and didn’t for another four. I swore never to sing alone again. And indeed I went off music altogether. But slowly slowly I’m being drawn back, by friends and opportunities.

The art that my parents gave me was music. We all had music lessons, all nine of us. This was considered essential for a meaningful life. My parents had come from southern Netherlands where everyone was in a choir. Mum sang contralto. Dad sang solo baritone, and when he came to Australia he formed choirs and directed them. All through my childhood he went out two nights a week to draw out dozens of voices and weave them into beautiful pictures.

So when I’m away from it all for too long it feels like something’s wrong.

Copy of Belle Musette 1

Tonight I saw and heard some gorgeous music by Belle Musette, a Melbourne band who play all kinds of French music.

Copy of Belle Musette 2

Each time I hear something good, I’ll let you know.

 

Christmas aftermath

December 28, 2010

Yesterday was for rest. Today I can’t think, only do – a good thing. Today I wiped down much of the house, following the discovery on Boxing Day of a flea infestation which we subsequently ‘bombed’. This is fast becoming the era of the bug. I haven’t put grasshopper-proof shade-cloth over the car grill yet but the pressure is on.

I remember an Easter Sunday when we discovered lice in 4 out of 5 family members’ hair. Not a chemist open. Only an experienced mum and hairdresser over the back fence who graciously cut off most of my hair – an early nineties acid perm. We were staying with friends at the time because all of our belongings had gone to our new home town in a truck.

Christmas is fraught with traps, and that thing called hope. I like the funny moments, when no-one is thinking too much. The quiet after lunch is good too.

ChristmasDay 4pm 2010