I’m sitting at the table in my pink flannel pyjamas at four o’clock this Sunday afternoon, procrastinating the hell out of dealing with the house mess and lesson planning that still needs doing. Those who know me can attest that I’m not the most domesticated or even organised person. As I’ve reached my late thirties my children seem fairly well adjusted, despite a mother who chooses reading, drawing or writing over every type of housework, and I’ve come to terms with this dreamer aspect of my personality. The reason for the attire is due to my whimsical habit of sometimes hanging laundry out in the late afternoon on Saturdays, without realising we were going to have rain showers last night. Now my husband is down at the laundromat watching four loads of wet washing circle the interior of several dryers at once. My nightwear is all I currently have!
As a child I read fiction voraciously because the stories transported me to exciting new lands and times, as well as serving as a protective blanket from juvenile social expectations. As a teenager in my school art class I discovered I could shade and blend colour quite effectively, receiving top marks in the subject. But more importantly it taught me that time stood still for several hours, shutting out my tumultuous emotions and allowing me to just be. And as an adult, my social anxiety means I am far more eloquent through writing than I could ever be with ‘off the cuff’ discussions, although in teaching I have had to hone this skill to some extent.
When I moved back to Australia seven years ago, nurturing each of these creative abilities went a long way to helping me heal from a dark period of debilitating grief and depression. I determined to paint my new environment, and as a result fell in love with the raucous parrots, sultry summers and arching palm trees. I continued to read, mostly articles on the internet and websites such as Beyond Blue to realise that others had come through this devastating state of mind I found myself stuck in for too many months. And now I write to share some of my many and varied thoughts with others, to encourage debate, stay connected and build a wider community. It is the same with teaching, discovering the ability to reach beyond oneself, give generously and hopefully motivate others to discover their own hidden talents.
I can’t talk for other artistic types but I find the desire to find an audience for my craft is often tempered by the embarrassment of bearing my soul for others to critique. Sensitive by nature, rejection hurts. But every now and then, not enough to make a self-supporting living mind you, someone is prepared to pay for a piece of work. But how do you put a price on something that feels like an extension of yourself? It can be difficult. (I was going to say excruciating but I’ve recently become more self-aware of my tendency to overuse hyperbole and am trying to cut down. New mantra = life doesn’t always need to be dramatic…) But transactions all must be effectively dealt with, because to find that someone else receives some joy, excitement and even amusement through putting this work on their walls gives me immense pleasure and makes it all worth it.
When an article or an artwork is waiting to be accepted or rejected for a competition or publication and I’m waiting (for what feels like forever) to receive an answer either way, I remind myself that the need to create is about so much more than expecting validation from someone else. It’s ‘just because,’ and that is enough.