Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Secret Beach

Yesterday, I took time, found it, right there in the middle of my day, my week. Wandering, I went a different way and in doing so, I found ... a secret beach!

I've lived near here for twenty years, so it was a lovely suprise. Of course I can't tell you were it is, but it's what happened next, when I sat there, alone and still, that made me me wish all of us could find that secret beach inside us, inside our busy world. 

- Secret Beach - 

theres a quietness, 
a peacefulness, 
to passing boats hum, 
birds squawking, 
chirping in the trees, 
on a secret beach, 
thoughts can be heard, 
there is time to listen. 

- s u z i - 2015

sketched with a 0.3 Derwent Graphik line marker 
in a Stillman and Birn Alpha series sketchbook 
with watercolour wash

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Winter Solstice

Sitting quietly,
on the Winter Solstice.

Here, now,
through the thinnest veil,
comes wisdom and insight,
hidden in Summers glow.

Here, down below,
I can hear my hearts desires,
learn where she wishes to go.

Here, down deep,
I can share my greatest fears,
with my heart,
she listens,
she knows. 

From here on,
it is up,
days will be longer,
I will get stronger,
and the courage gained,
will stay with me,
on into next year. 

Peace be with each of you,
on this special day,
the longest of nights, 
the shortest of days.

- s u z i - 2015 

Please click here, for the first in this season's Winter Dreaming blog series,
where you will also find links to previous years.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Winter Weekend

the sun sets, 
on another week, 
winter is here, 
but all is not bleak, 
walks by the sea, 
nourish me, 
long sleeps, 
under puffy clouds, 
warm my heart, 
comfort my mind. 

there is time, 
in another season, 
to run and to play, 
right here, 
right now, 
it's time to dive deep, 
sink in and retreat. 

- s u z i - 2015 

... so begins my Winter Dreaming for 2015, a season of rest, a time to go in, to explore the inner world and it's poetic imagery. I have been here many times now, it's so restorative that I would it hard to live without. 

I welcome you to visit previous blogs in this series via the following links and whilst you are doing that, I will be quietly painting and doodling, photographing and filming, being by the sea, waiting and watching for the whales that pass the coast at this time of year.

Winter Blog Tale
A twelve part blog tale shared over the Winter Solstice of 2012 exploring the depths of creativity and living as a practicing artist, through film, art, teaching, painting, poetry and more, pulling together posts from my previous blog. To read the tale all the way through, it's best to begin here: 

Throughout the Winter of 2013 I doodled on paper with my new Lamy pen, learning to letting the image evolve. Spending more time indoors, allowing my art to reflect more of the inner world as I replenished, reconnected and listened to the intuitive wisdom that comes through at this time of year. These are the three posts I published that winter: 

Winter Dreaming
Painting and doodling in paint on fine paper, allowing poetry to flow, photographing and visiting different parts of the city, I spent the winter of 2014, the first after my mother left this world, finding out more about who I was, where I came from and what makes my heart sing, some of which I endeavoured to share in these three posts: 

For those of you where it's warm right now, I wish you a wonderful Summer and hope you find time to get out and play like I have for the six years of my 1000 words for Summer project.

Working seasonally is now vital to me, it revitalises my art and whilst it means I am not always in tune with everyone I come to meet online, it means I am in tune with where I live and the natural rhythms of the world. I invite you to do the same and see if it too nourishes you, maybe not all of your art but some small part. It really is a wonderful way to work. 

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Saying goodbye slowly

We got the news the same week the storm hit. A visit to the vet confirmed it, lumps not just in his throat but his back, his legs, everywhere, tiny lumps on his bones.

Shattered we burst into tears, awakened our fears and got ready to somehow hold on tight to him, to each other, all of us in this together. This ride isn't going to be easy and it isn’t going to be long, but it is worth going through.

It’s not easy saying goodbye to our dear beloved dog, who’s been part of our family for over nine years. No one expects a dog to go so soon. My husband believes it’s the tick medicine, but it doesn’t really matter what it is, we have to go through the next bit.

You see we are also saying goodbye or rather Bon Voyage to our eldest daughter and her loved one as they head off on an extended overseas trip. Off to discover the world and our youngest is half moving out. Within months the two of us could be the only ones left at our house.

A similar thing happened some years ago when my brother died unexpectedly three weeks before my youngest daughter left to go overseas. It’s me linking these events I know, grouping trauma into one, hoping I might cope with it better, but that’s what we humans do.

But how else do we cope? How do we hide from the horrid realities we sometimes wish weren’t true. For some it’s chatter, sharing the details. For some it’s shopping, eating, rallying the troops or putting up a fight. For others like me, I’ve come to realise, it’s isolating myself, going deep and feeling what’s going on, on the inside. It's slowing things down to take each moment as it comes, to do less and experience more.


During the storms I doodled in the dark, now I find myself sketching my dog. I’d make a plaster case of his head if I could, for patting and massaging him has been the greatest comfort to me throughout his life. Stroking my hands through his thick black fur, or gently caressing his boney arms and paws.

I can see now why people stuff their animals although I'm not sure I could, but any way to preserve the memory is what I'm searching for. I did the same before my mother died, sketching her room in the hospice, all the the flowers people gave her. This is real, it’s happening, we have to go through it and sketching is my way of seeing what is in front of me.

We’ve had so many good times with our beautiful dog, playing games in our yard, chasing sticks, traveling far and wide, including a 6,500km road trip to North Queensland and back. Swimming in rivers, in the sea. We’ve taken him to my brother’s block of land, on the ferry and so many places we love to walk locally. He’s the glue in our family, the one being we all care for, the one we all love, but those times are ending and I am devastated. I am about to lose a good friend.

We first met him at the dog pound all those years ago when my girls were much younger. Before choosing him, we took him to the exercise yard and my girls tried madly to get him to run, to jump, to play. We’d had another dog who kept escaping and once, when heavily pregnant, I had to run down the street after her. I decided that was never happening again, so when he sat down quietly beside me I had a chat with him and we've been chatting ever since.

It’s a beautiful thing to have a companion that secretly knows your inner thoughts, that sits quietly by your side, that jumps up and interrupts arguments, that knows when your car turns the corner of your street. It’s no wonder ancient people kept dogs, why people still keep dogs, the relationship between humans and dogs is inexplicable.

Their unfathomable, never-ending companionship and devotion is beyond us, giving away their emotions with a simple wag of the tail. Always happy to see you no matter why, where or how long you’ve been away. Total unrequited, unexpected, limitless love.

I will miss this love, I will miss our Toby and the only words I can think of come from Alfred Lord Tennyson …

 “Tis better to have loved and lost 
than never to have loved at all“ 

Saying goodbye slowly is like placing a boulder on the ground as though it was a feather. It’s exhausting, but every step, every moment, done with awareness counts and gives us experiences that matter. They help make us who we are and whilst I dread every minute of it, I wouldn’t miss it for a second.

The next little bit is unknown, but I hope it goes gently for all of us.

We said a very sad farewell to our beloved Toby on our front deck in the afternoon sun with all of us together. It was a peaceful passing but his absence will take some adjusting and he will live on in our hearts for a very long time. Thanks to so many of you who wrote and said so many beautiful things.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

100 Artworks Challenge #21-35

Continuing on from the first ten and the second ten, a rhythm began to emerge, an efficiency of sorts. Painting whilst also studying the Conscious Booksmith online ecourse, I was able to see that completing a body of work is what I need to do. I learnt lots in that course but also learnt to press pause on thoughts of a book as a form for my creativity. I've learnt not to give up but allow it to grow and emerge if and when it needs to. 

It seems this set in this series is a lot about breaking, about breaking old patterns and dreams about letting go of old ways of working and starting again. As I painted imagined vessels, a favourite antique glass broke, one that I've had since my studio times, so I decided to make it part of these paintings.


The slight abstractions in this series, the loosening, shows my slide as the year goes on, gets cooler and wetter. It's my Heart to Home season from Valentines Day to Mother's Day, a time for personal and public festivities a time between Summer and Winter. It's a busy time but this year it's been good to spend more time in the studio. Working alone from home has always been a challenge especially with all the distractions, so this challenge has been good for me.

The last ones in this set were painted during the heavy storm we had here in Sydney. As the wind blew frantically tearing down trees in our garden and the neighbourhood, we did our best to stay still, survive in the dark and I can see now those emotions and feelings in the brightly coloured bottles doing their best to stand upright!

By then I had moved on to begin Doings of a Doodle with Diane Culhane and Carla Sonheim. It was crazy busy two weeks learning a new style of artmaking. Doodles were another theme I'd thought of for this series as I've done a lot of doodling in my Winter Dreaming. It's been a great course, I've done lots of fun things and I've met lots of wonderful doodle-loving people.

Now as I pass one third of my way through this 100 Artworks Challenge, part of me wants to shift with the seasons, go with my new learnings. It was a happy accident to see the effect of stacking all the paintings with their colourful edges. The layers of 3mm MDF sheets reminding me of fairytales, of the Princess and the Pea … see how my mind is shifting, my heart is slipping into dreams? Soon we'll be turning on the heaters and I'll be diving deep into my winter sleep, layers and layers deep!

I will in due course collate all the artworks in this challenge into one post, but if there are any that appeal feel free to email me if you'd like to purchase them. I am happy to say a few are on their way from my heart to new homes and that really was always my dream for this challenge. What a wonderful experience it's been.

Thanks, as always,for popping by. I hope you've enjoyed what you've seen.

other posts about this challenge include:

100 Artworks Challenge #1-10
100 Artworks Challenge #11-20
100 Artworks Challenge #21-35

Monday, April 13, 2015

100 Artworks Challenge - the second ten #11-20

Mixing it up as I move along from the first ten, learning to create on a larger scale, not size but number creates problems to be solved, distractions of the bigger picture, preventing me from getting bogged down in the detail, hung up in any one painting.

Stepping back, standing back, I am able to play with the combinations of pattern and colour. Placing them together, sorting and shuffling frees up my mind, my preconceptions of what this challenge is about and in doing so I see my natural tendencies. Like human mathematics I have a preference for dimensions so much so that edges in paintings worked on intuitively begin to line up. It's fascinating stuff.

My subjects for the 100 Artworks Challenge are vessels, fragments of domesticity and I'm wondering why when I fill the odd one with food it feels quite out of place. I soon realise this series is about comfort not food. It's is about creating containers about fragments and edges and placement of objects. It offers the viewer the freedom to fill each container with their own stuff, their dreams. These are incomplete fragments, hinting, evoking their memories as much as mine.

I'm wondering if there's something about my time of life that is part of all this, my mother now gone, my children almost moving out. Maybe my desire is to recall the familiar used in my childhood as well as create gifts for my girls and their friends as they begin to leave home. A passing through the passage of time. Vessels to be filled, homes to be created, vessels to be used, containers for new life, without knowing what that life is, where it will be, where it will lead. Curious stuff to ponder as I paint. Sweet thoughts of comfort from heart to home.

What I'm not certain about yet is the range of the subjects this series will draw on or the range of perspectives I will use.  Elevation, plan, oblique diagonal. I seem to be settling on colour, but you never know, I'm only twenty in, eighty still to go. This is afterall creation not production.

It's been a great week and what I'm really enjoying is working inside as the weather changes. It's a commitment to self that I've needed, a task to be completed but in my own way, on my own terms, as long as it takes me. I am letting go of this series being related to season and allowing them to simply be how I want them to be. It's a rewarding experience.

Leading into the next week, I prepare by getting more bases ready, coating them with gesso. There is work to be done and I am ready. 

In time I will create a space to display all the works from this challenge, but if any paintings catches your eye that you'd like to buy or put one reserve, let me know by email

Thanks as always for visiting.

other posts about this challenge include:

100 Artworks Challenge #1-10
100 Artworks Challenge #11-20
100 Artworks Challenge #21-35

Saturday, April 4, 2015

100 Artworks Challenge - starting out #1-10

I've finally found the contents and the container for the 100 Artworks challenge. These are the first three but I'm still working on one because I sense as I go, they will develop into what really is my style.

100 Artworks Challenge #1-3, acrylic on board, 14x14.5cm by suzi poland

Coming off the back of my 1000 words for Summer project and heading into the cooler months of autumn, I want to take what I've developed in my Summer Sketchbook and apply it to indoors.

I haven't painted in ernest since I moved my studio home almost two years ago, before my mother died and I need to get into a new rhythm now both my daughters are at university. This is also my "Heart to Home" season, between Valentines Day and Mothers Day.

100 Artworks Challenge #4, acrylic on board, 14x14.5cm by suzi poland
100 Artworks Challenge #5, acrylic on board, 14x14.5cm by suzi poland

After trying various materials to work on from paper to canvas board, I've chosen the hardness but lightness of 3mm MDF. I had some lying around and it felt nice to work on so I found someone to cut 100 to size 14x14.5cm. I've gessoed them to add texture and will draw on them with WC pencil and paint them in acrylic.

I want them to be sketchy fragments, small moments in a still life. A combination of reality, memory and poetic whimsy as I go about celebrating the fondness felt for domestic objects found in the home. I am not sure whether I will stick purely with vessels because my intention is also to explore the relationships between things that we see everyday and capture the curiosity, connection and sense of calm that they bring.

100 Artworks Challenge #6, acrylic on board, 14x14.5cm by suzi poland

100 Artworks Challenge #9, acrylic on board, 14x14.5cm by suzi poland

As you know I am also doing a printmaking course, my Coffeeosophy and cafe sketching, photography, filming and poetry and playing with clay and textiles as well as collaborating in a hope of finding what it is that I do well, but I am going to enjoy doing this as a personal challenge and allow it to flow on into my Winter Dreaming depending on how long it takes me.

100 Artworks Challenge #7, acrylic on board, 14x14.5cm by suzi poland

I see it very much as an extension of what I already do and a return to some of what I've done before, albeit on a smaller scale, returning with fresh eyes, an open heart and an empty mind. I can see though that I am going to bounce around a bit as I settle in and find my groove playing with subject, colour and style. I'm working intuitively and going with the flow but somehow I sense some are going to form sets.

100 Artworks Challenge #8, acrylic on board, 14x14.5cm by suzi poland

These are my thoughts as I venture out on this adventure, thanks for joining me and please feel free to offer any feedback or words of support as I go. It's a bit like heading off on a marathon or a long hike!

I must thank Kellee Wynne again for creating this challenge, this container. I'm enjoying seeing what everyone else is doing in the facebook group and on some people's blogs. I sense it's going to be a magical journey. If you'd like to jump on board, there's still plenty of time and room, click this link to the 100 Artworks Challenge to find out more.

  100 Artworks Challenge #10, acrylic on board, 14x14.5cm by suzi poland  

Yay, I made it to 10! Here's to the next 90!!! 

It is my intention to make all of these works available for sale so they can make their way other people's hearts and homes. At some point I hope to create an online space to display all the works from this series, but if one of the artworks catches your eye that you'd like to buy, please be in touch by email It would bring me great joy if one of them became yours, or a friends to enjoy.

other posts about this challenge include:

100 Artworks Challenge #1-10
100 Artworks Challenge #11-20
100 Artworks Challenge #21-35

Saturday, March 21, 2015

1000 words for Summer Year 6 - summer sketchbook

Starting where I left off last Summer, I began this year by working in black and white line with my Lamy Safari pen and water colour wash in a Stillman & Birn Alpha landscape sketchbook. I quickly progressed to coloured watercolour pencils and then in mid-January added a tube of gouache and a waterbrush to my bag of tools. 

Shifting to coloured pencil allowed me to go let go of the pressure to get figures 'right' first go. The softening of tools, allowed a softening of expectations and enabled me to learn to see people as they move, something I'd studied in Sketchbook Skool storytelling and something I'd done previously in graphite, but doing it in colour pencil was so much more fun.

Doing multiple sketches on one page was another technique I used.  Capturing fragments of activity allowed me to build up a sense of how people move like collecting pieces of a jigsaw rather than doing long studies which never seemed possible.

As I went along, I also began to play with multiple coloured lines. This gave a wonderful sense of movement and a welcome feel to the sketch. Working with a limited palette allowed me to play with the range of colours that brought me joy and add the feelings of summer that I love.

After visiting the Artspace exhibition in Avalon and seeing Fiona Verity's sketchbooks, I added gouache to my kit and a waterbrush which allowed me to achieve a more painterly effect. I've had these tools for a while and done illustrations with them in my studio but not taken them sketching. Blending gouache with the watercolour pencils created a gelato bar of paint that I instantly loved and allowed me to add to the fun, creating chalky textures that sometimes sat off the coloured pencil. Messy play was happening on the page!

As well as playing with materials, this year, I also played with composition, playing with capturing what I saw rather than the scene. By this I mean, some sketches are a sketch over time, capturing events as they happened within the frame, rather than a specific static scene, like the one below which I did when I attended the Urban Sketchers Australia and the Sydney Sketchers event at Collaroy in early January.

Sketching this way enabled me to capture the vitality, the frenzy of activity and the vibe of the day. From the patterns of fabrics, outlines of people as they crossed paths with one another to the movement of water, the flapping of flags, the comings and goings of life as it happened were all captured there in some way on the page. These sketches are more like a collage of photographic impressions than any realistic frozen scene and this really has become an enjoyable way to work.

Whilst I dated the pages and noted the places where I sketched, I didn't work in my sketchbook from front to back or left to right. Instead I worked on whichever page felt right and as a consequence I allowed the book to evolve as a reflection of a season rather than a chronological record of events. I first tried this technique in my submission to The Sketchbook Project and it's one I really like and recommend. 

After six summers, I'm happy to say, I have a lot of memories, a lot of fragments of other sketches I've done that I can call on to ad-lib as I am sketching. Sometimes it's simply too hot to sketch and I can get easily tired or bored. It's a fine balance between being a slave to the scene or being dedicated to the art.

Seeing the scene isn't the same as being in the scene and as the years go by I get more and more comfortable about sketching in public. Being spotted initially meant losing anonymity and created a degree of anxiety that disrupted my sketching, but now it's become part of the fun and having children stop and look has become a gift to me.

Moving from the back of the beach to the front row, to be in amongst it all, was brave but rewarding. My sketches seemed more alive than anything I'd achieved by sitting back capturing the whole beach. I also learnt how to respect the people I was sketching, beach-goers simply enjoying at a day at the beach, often photographing the sketch from a different location, on another day, or once the people I was sketching had moved out of view.

Flicking through the sketchbook, it feels more like a series of essays than vignettes. It feels less a record of a place and it's people and more the beginnings of a work of art. I'm no longer concerned with capturing a specific beach or person as capturing the moment, telling a story of the day. I've given up simply observing, annotating or recording like a journalist might, choosing to allow a story to come through, a more universal feeling of what summer is about.

At some points throughout this summer, certain children showed up in my sketches. They were not real but simply appeared out of the page. Who they are I am not quite sure, but it's such fun to allow this to happen and I am so curious now to follow them and see where they want me to go. 

As well as these children, I also got a greater sense of the relationships people have at this place. Families interacting together, parents passing babies to each other, watching the slight shift from one hip to another as the weight of a child gets too much or feeling the weight of a child's head sink onto a shoulder as they start to fall asleep in the heat, then bounce back excitedly kicking their legs as they spot something in the distance.

Relaxing together, sitting alone, playing in groups, gathering together, people of all shapes and sizes with all sorts of paraphernalia, some of which I chose to not to draw. Big family groups who came down for the day or families who came everyday. People taking time out, creating childhood memories. It was fascinating to be part of it all and I feel extremely fortunate to have spent so much time amongst people having so much fun. 

What I've shown here is a small selection of the 84 pages I sketched this summer. I sketched at night on New Years Eve and doodled in colour, but by focussing on the beach, what I am left with are the fractured sights of the scene, the sounds of the sea, the squealing of children, crashing of waves, feelings of the breeze and the ease of it all. It's wonderful and I'm so happy I started this project all those years ago. I had no idea I would end up here.

As well creating a few Steller Stories using my sketches and photography, I've done a Drawing with Thread workshop and stitched some of my sketches. I am also doing a Printmaking course and the Conscious Booksmith ecourse, playing with what might happen next with this body of work as I head into the cooler months and my Winter Dreaming.

I can only encourage you to take a moment each day to capture life as it happens around you, maybe even start a project of your own. It's really a wonderful thing to do and leads to the most interesting life experiences. Thank you for being part of my journey, I've loved sharing this story with you.

Other blog posts about Beach Sketching:
Beach Sketching on Friday afternoon
(a steller story in sketching, film and photography)
Beach Reader
(a woman reads at the beach) 
Sketching People at the Beach in late Summer
(leaving my phone at home meant I got super busy sketching people at the beach)
Summer Beach Sketching
(as part of my larger 1000 words for Summer project, I went beach sketching over summer)
Saying Goodbye to Summer
(sketching people at the beach, reflecting on the change of season)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

100 Artworks Challenge

Before I tell you about The Custodian Project which I've just been participating in, I must tell you about what's next. I've accepted Kellee Wynne Studios 's #100ArtworksChallenge which I found out about on Kellee's Instagram

As you might have observed, I don't need incentive to make art, but I do love working alongside others especially in online studio groups and the Facebook group Kellee's set up has a nice vibe. She's a really sweet leader with lots of great insights and advice. She did this challenge a while ago and I really like her fun colours and semi-abstracted work. 

If you are keen to get started or like me, want to create a Body of Work you are welcome to join in. It officially starts today, 15th March 2015 but I'm not starting for another week as I'm still working on my 1000 words for Summer project until the equinox next week. I've also started The Conscious Booksmith ecourse (but that's another story!) and I'm also doing a course at Warringah Printmakers which is still a work in progress!

For the #100ArtworksChallenge, you can do an artwork a day or take as long as you like, the aim is simply to "Do The Work". I'm sure there'll be champagne and tears along the way but it's going to be lovely to see what everyone creates. Oh and it doesn't have to be painting it can be anything you like to make. If you want to accept the challenge but would like to know more, you can read about it on Kellee's blog

If you follow me on Instagram you'll see I have dreamt up an emoji that we can use as we go along. Somehow I sense it's going to be lots of fun. Have you ever created 100 artworks? What's the most you've done in a series? Will you be joining in? If this isn't quite right, you might also like to check out another fun challenge 12 Pages in 2015. It's quite different but might be more your thing.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Summer sketching in thread

It's late Summer and I've been dreaming about what comes next for my Summer sketches. I've not quite finished my sketchbook but I'm really enjoying playing in a variety of mediums and techniques. Exploring, playing, dabbling, learning. After six years on this project I am also looking for new directions, seeking new ways to connect and share my work with the world. 

In previous years as part of my 1000 words for Summer project, I created a virtual quilt where participants used the summer words I'd collected to create an image on a square piece of calico. I enjoyed playing along and stitching a recipe for Pavlova, frangipanis, scorching sand, swimming costumes, a summer christmas tree and my favourite, a knitted ice cream!

I've also done some stitched lettering for clients I love you to the moon and back, and more recently a stitched sketch of my Coffeeosophy coffee cup and I've illustrated the full moon over the ocean. Each year I try to create something in textiles, in fabric, knitting or thread. There's something about textile illustration that I love, the slowness, the tactility, the curved surfaces and over the years I've followed other textile artists and created a Textile Board on Pinterst. 

I also follow the works of Julia Crosslands, Ana Isabel Ramos aka Air BillyPoppy Treffy, Jude Hill aka Spirit Cloth and Deborah O'Hare on Instagram and I used to love the textile works of Kirsty Elson, although she's now doing more work in wood. Each one does quite different things, but in the direction of my dreams. I am lucky enough to have my mothers old Singer sewing machine, but I've yet to work out how to do free arm sewing. Clearly I need to do more learning, but whilst the sun still shines, I'm also trying to capture the Summer beach scenes! LOL is there ever enough time?!

Recently I came across Alex Falkiner aka Alfalky on Instagram. I saw images of her work and her Drawing with Thread workshop and they looked so appealing. The best part was they were on in Sydney! After doing courses online, I've been really keen to do some in-person classes, so I quickly signed up and it was a wonderful experience.

Attending the workshop on a scorching hot Summer afternoon Alex shared her super cool approach to embroidery and it wasn't long before we were stitching our way in a new dimension. It wasn't so much that they were new stitches, but a whole new approach and I found it so relaxing! Play is a BIG part of Alex's art philosophy and something I love to do.  

Here's how my work looked by the end of the workshop. You can see examples of other students works here.


Did I say it was fun? Tell you it was enjoyable afternoon? The way Alex had us let the thread appear on the fabric was so expressive. As you might be aware, I LOVE doodling and this process felt very similar to my doodling in ink and paint. Working with the concept of "start where you are", I went home and used my Summer sketches as inspiration, but rather than copying or transferring the image exactly, I took some offcuts of linen and simply started sketching with thread! As you can see I made some light graphite lines to get me started, but the whole textural quality soon took over and the thinness of lines that could be achieved in thread was like the finest of pen nibs! 


The next weekend I went along to Alex's follow-up Stitching off the Page workshop. It was quite a different process and a little bit more complicated. I can equally see how I could use it in my work but more play is required and definitely with some neon thread!

As you can see below I've been to the lolly shop! In the photo to the right, mine is the third one from the top and you can see other examples from this workshop here.

It's been a lovely way to play with my Summer sketches, sketching then stitching and sketching in thread allowing images to appear on the cloth just as they do on the page. I am really enjoying allowing this body of work to grow in this way, it's fun, playful and I find textiles very nurturing so I hope I can take this with me into the cooler months. I'm also doing a printmaking class, but I'll share more about that in another post.

Thanks, as always for popping by and joining me on this artful journey that is life.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

celebrating a year of Coffeeosophy

It's hard to believe that it's a year since I was sitting quietly in the cafe, sketchbook and pen in hand sketching my coffee when Coffeeosophy images started appearing on the page.

"so glad to hear #coffeeosophy 
has been deemed a worthy pursuit."

Yes, it was this time last year in the months after my mother and mother-in-law passed away within three weeks of each other. The festive season and the summer holidays had passed and my 1000 words for Summer was over for another year. There in the cafe, the two of us sat and whilst my husband chatted and debriefed, I sketched and drew my coffee cup.

It was a big achievement in those unstable days to complete an elipse and then another. Clean lines connecting with each other. If they aligned that was great, if not, well … that's when thoughts appeared on the page, little expressions of love emerging from my coffee cup.

It's been comforting to share the images sketched in various cafes throughout Sydney and I am humbled by the response from many people who have conneted with this series. To celebrate and give thanks, I made a little flipagram with a selection of the sketches, set to the evocative music of Yann Tiersen.

Sketches and Flipagram created by Suzi Poland
Music by Yann Tiersen - J'y Suis Jamais Alle (soundtrack to Amilie)

Five sketchbooks later, I'm not sure what to do with the originals, if they need to become something else, so I'm exploring a few options, various techniques and possible forms. I am also exploring new ways to sketch, new scenes and expressions to capture. After a year in black and white, I'm really enjoying playing with colour.

A lot has happened in a year, life has moved on and changed in many ways. Art really does heal and I feel so lucky to be able to express through my art, even more that others like what I create. I really love the act and daily practice of sketching and I especially love the wisdom of my coffee cup.

I have enjoyed how amusing some of these images have become and how they have reflected aspects of life around me, people, places and events that have happened. This series has introduced me to many people across the globe and I'd like to thank those of you who've joined me along the way.

If you'd like to see the sketches that led to this series, read coffeeosophy and the art of cafe sketching.

If you'd like to see what comes next in this series, follow me on Instagram or Behance.

If you'd like to make a flipagram, you might like to read this post about Sketching with flipagram.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Around the World Blog Hop

I’ve been invited to participate in this Around the World Blog Hop by Michele Cooper from the Pacific NW of USA. Michele sketches, teaches and writes on her blog Michele's NW Studio. We met by accident one day on Instagram when she hashtagged one of her sketches #coffeeosophy. It was a sketch of a cow cafe cart which was so funny we ended up having a lovely chat and now here she is inviting me to participate in this blog hop. That’s why I love social media! 

This blog hop is described as being "quite simple: answer a few questions and invite up to three more people to join in. Each publishes on their blog the following Monday after being nominated." Blog hops and talking about one's art are never simple, at least not for me. Although it's a challenge I love as it calls me to focus and define in as few words as possible, what it is that I do. Before I go on, I must thank you for visiting, I hope you enjoy what you read.

What am I working on?

Currently it’s Summer here in Australia so I am working on my 1000 words for Summer project. Now in it's the sixth year, from 12/12th to 26th Jan, I let Summer be my muse. It has been a wonderful way to creative a variety of works in numerous media under one theme. It’s also been the vehicle for meeting many people and learning lots about creating online as each year I’ve incorporated a different social media into the project. I’ve also run classes for families and children and interactions online. Last year I spent the summer sketching in ink line, this year I’ve written visual stories and played with coloured pencil. Other years, it’s been more about photography, words, painting, pastel or film. It's been a lovely thing to do and you can find out more about it on the project blog. 

I am also working on a series I’ve called coffeeosophy which literally appeared in the months after my mother and mother-in-law's passing. They are are essentially daily mediations about life and love found in the sketches of coffee cups.

I have several other projects on the go, some of which you can read about here. 

How does my work differ from other’s of it’s genre?
If I am honest I am still working out “my style”, what makes my work unique. As I haven’t limited myself to one medium or subject matter this may take some time, but essentially I like to capture the sense of life as it happens and distill it to it’s essence. I find great joy in creating my art and I hope that others find it enjoyable to view.

Why do I write/create what I do? 
I guess its a combination of being trained in Landscape Architecture and Tourism, living in a different country as a child and being quite a philosophical, poetic person. I am quite spontaneous, enthusiastic and very sensitive to the both the outer world and the inner emotional landscape.

Using a variety of mediums in my artwork and sketchbooks as well as having a variety of projects on the go allows me to remain fluid and even though I have a structured program throughout the year, what I work on each day does depends on how I feel. Art for me is an expressive act. Throughout significant life experiences I have found solace in my art. It’s the one constant and my most loyal companion. I cannot imagine life without it.

How does my writing/creative process work? 
As a passionate creative, I have found Projects to be a most useful way to create. By adding artworks on a regular basis the sum of the whole becomes greater than it’s parts. Projects allow me to focus on the individual piece that I am working on that day, to be in the moment, whilst consciously creating a body of work. 

I work intuitively and allow the work to tell me where it wants to go. In doing so, a calendar of events has evolved based on the seasons of the year and the phases of the sun and the moon. From 1000 words in Summer, to Heart to Home, Winter Dreaming, Spring Flowers, the Solstices and Equinox and Full Moon Intuitive Drawing, I can constantly be working on more than one body of work at a time. I also have projects based on stories and film and the more creative I am, the more poetry I write.

It’s a little like having lots of children or blooms on a tree. One can be about to bloom whilst another can be just emerging. I used to think them up, but now the contents seem to create their own containers. I love how they find me and how having an underlying structure has allowed me to build a diverse creative life.

Whilst this seems super organised, I must also stress the invaluable art of Dreaming, of doing nothing, or the art of Wu Wei, that I have lived by since high school. I am a plate spinner, a valley wanderer and although I admire those who reach the mountain tops, whilst they are walking back down, I seem to have arrived at the next valley. It's a funny thing, how we work, but it's one of the most useful things to know. It's as important as any tool or technique, for we are all vessels in which creativity dwells.

There never seems enough time or space in this world to do all that I would love to do, so now in my 50th year, I have also begun to participate with others in Collaborations. My most successful ones have been online, in small secret groups on facebook with others I have met through ecourses. Online studio exchanges with other artists or like minded creatives. I have been incredibly lucky to have met some wonderfully inspiring and creative people this way and one of them is the next person on this blog hop.

Sandy Mair and I met in Kelly Rae Robert's Flying Lessons and since then we have done writing, illustration and other creative ecourses and joined in other groups online. We now skype regularly and share much of our working life. Last year we were lucky enough to do a poetry collaboration on Instagram called To Define Beauty. Sandy is a wonderful creative mentor/buddy who shares a need not to specialise. She also loves sketching, illustrating, textiles, photography and form and last year a little character appeared in her life, but I'll let her you all about him, please pop over to her blog Sandy Mair Art on Monday 19th Jan, 2015.

Working alone, having creative soul mates online, being connected but having enough space to develop your own unique style, is something that motivates me to make more and more art. Thank you for popping by, I hope you have enjoyed being here.