Day 6 of ’31 days of playful drawing’ – kitchen love

You inspire me to stick to this playful drawing days too!

nicseventysix's Blog

Today’s prompt is an ever-favourite. Kitchen! Yes, I am in love with my kitchen,

  • the wooden cinnamon coloured cupboards I bought from the Family who had this Apartment before me,
  • the “latte macchiato”-coloured wall facing the cupboards,
  • the windows looking out on my other very favourite room, the Loggia and even further to the back gardens with their beautiful old trees.
  • the fact that there is always a gentle scent of coffee in the air
  • the fact that I could do a “Cup Party” with lots of People, as I do have …well…lots of mugs and teacups. Each has a history, really each.
  • the big kitchen table who today met sepia ink. It took it quite well. 🙂

On another note: Yes, I am happy to have 2 weeks of fall break, it’s a bliss. For this reason I dedicated 3 hours of this afternoon to drawing and colouring today’s prompt, kitchen.


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From spark to inferno

A repost from the blog of artist, teacher and creative encourager Tara Leaver ….

from spark to inferno :: the story of a creative spark

August 4, 2014 By Tara Leaver

This post is by Jo Collyer, a participant in both the Creative Spark ecourse and Artist Inspired, and a generous {and trusting!} volunteer practice client aiding me in my creativity coaching studies. I am overjoyed to share her story today, in her own words, not only because she helps to make it possible for me to do what I love, but more importantly because she demonstrates so beautifully how embracing your inner creative, or your inner artist self, can change and benefit your life in so many ways.

I invite you to read and enjoy eloquently told story {she is also a writer} and her gorgeous art, and allow it to open up doors of possibility within you too.


Fresh from finishing a period of creative consultation with Tara Leaver I am left slightly grieving my loss. From the moment of the first blind contour drawing I did in her Creative Spark course, I was hooked on the style and teaching of Tara. She is giving and generous in her instruction and feedback. More than that, her sheer enthusiasm and authenticity are apparent and contagious. When I look back at my first blind contour drawings, created in the Creative Spark course, they still raise a smile.

Blind contour drawing of Ganesh by Jo Collyer

Creative Spark was my first online art course, and it was certainly a good fit. I had barely raised a paintbrush in the past thirty years (unless it was to paint a wall;-)), let alone allow myself the decadent pleasure of such a regular creative practice.

The Creative Spark course allows you to tap into your inherent creativity. That font that lies within us, pulsating and ready to be released if only given permission and a few little tricks to assist. That’s what Tara’s course offers. Lots of ideas, techniques and inspirations to get all the creative sparks going.

It was a bonus that the online group that accompanied the course was also delightful, friendly and supportive. Actually, probably not so much a bonus as an indication of the safe space Tara creates. After the course finishes you get to join an ongoing Facebook group, where the support and encouragement continues.

I will be dramatic now, and admit, the Creative Spark course kinda altered the direction of my life. I am not one to expose myself. Posting my various scribbles and paintings, daily, was therefore a somewhat liberating experience. I even posted some stuff on my personal Facebook page, I was that intoxicated and bolstered.

Klimt inspired mermaid


It shifted things. My career, gone somewhat stale after motherhood, got a new perspective. Making art in a supported and creative inspiration feast opened my eyes to the things I wanted and didn’t want in life. Although changes are small for me, (and I have come to accept I do change slow), they are no less significant.

My creative journey continued, when Tara offered her inaugural Creative Spark participants to trial her Artist Inspired course. I was beyond thrilled. I knew it would be awesome. It was. Each lesson delves into the story and style of historically significant artists. Old habits die hard, and despite myself, I was sceptical, based on my lingering doubt of my own creative talents, that I could possibly produce anything ‘in the style of’ a renowned artist. But you know, I did. What’s more I loved the results. That would have been enough for me (although I do love the positive feedback from the online group), but I have received positive feedback from family and friends too, completely unsolicited, making it all the more delicious. I still look at those videos for inspiration. They delight me, as does the play time that generally follows. Yes. I still play art. Regularly. It is an integral part of my week. Without it my mood is typically affected, in the negative. Much like my yoga and writing practice they are key elements to my equanimity.

I am a firm believer that in life, we need outlets that make our soul sing, or at the very least, offer us solace. I like more than one outlet, because, hey, a fall back position is a good thing to have. Also, I have attentional issues. 🙂

I have been doing yoga for many years and it has supported me through some pretty funky times in my life (funky bad, not funky grooves). It is an added delight that Tara supports the idea of a connected practice. Connect to self, connect to others, connect to your surroundings. Connection to your creativity is yet another delight to be tasted and enhanced by first connecting to yourself and environment. If it’s something you feel the itch but don’t know how … embrace the Creative Spark course. Live it, breathe it. Throw caution to the wind and allow Tara to take you on the most amazing discovery of your own latent talent, just like she did for me.


While I blush in the corner, you may like to take Jo’s words to heart and find out more about the Creative Spark ecourse, which I am running again in September, most likely for the last time in its current live format. To find out more go to

That Ubud feeling

Visiting Ubud as a solo traveller to engage in a yoga retreat with like minded people was sublime. When here last year, I travelled with my four year old daughter and my mother. I was distracted by germs and danger and just generally preoccupied with keeping my daughter safe and healthy.

This time, I had only to worry about myself, and well, that’s pretty easy. The immersion in the beauty of Ubud was complete. I had long conversations with local taxi drivers and shop keepers. Wandered streets I did not even realise existed last year. Traversed many steps to the ancient and mesmerising Gunnung Kawi. I immersed myself in Indonesian food intoxicated by the chilli and ginger. It was like I had stepped back in time. I felt like my younger self, travelling, unfettered and with all nerve cells responding to the glorious stimulation around me.

It reminded me, all over again, of the different perspectives travel gifts you with. Last year, despite the parental worries, I was in awe at viewing the world through a four year olds eyes. This time, I was transported back to that place of reflection that solo travel does for me. It is like I slipped out of the known world I create around myself at home and slipped on a gown of spirited enquiry. Last year, I really liked Ubud. This year, I became hooked.

There were so many magical moments. One that stood out was the one day, I actually sat down and sketched. Contrary to my pre trip plans, I did very little mark making at all. But this day I sat (lounged really) on my patio that overlooked a rice paddy and barely moved anything but my hands and eyes as they played on paper. I sat, immersed and content. In my Ubud bought colourful harem pants and sipping on a juice I had sent over from the kitchen. Whilst I was sitting local women begun to walk past me. Each walking, ballet like … Graceful, posied, steady … And with a basket the size of a bathroom sink full of soil perched on their heads. They walked past me repeatedly. I sat there, decadently splayed on the day bed and watched as they toiled away. It was quite incongruous. We shared many smiles. They each smiled, that deep smile of meaning that shines out of eyes, and I returned it. They chatted as they worked, and almost looked as if it were they that sat on the daybed daydreaming away instead of toiling under loads of soil. It was if they knew a secret … In my imaginings the secret became … It is not where you are or what you are doing as much as it is how You approach that moment. Each moment can be its own special treasure.

It is that, more than anything, I took home. That image of those women, happy in their shared work and with a smile to share and spread.

Sending smiles your way.






Top Ten Things to Know BEFORE Opening a Shop on Zazzle

Thank you for the very useful tips as I head toward starting a zazzle shop!

All I know about Zazzle

Who am I?

As an amateur artist in 1999, I began selling art trading cards on ebay, and eventually acrylic paintings.  I developed a following (both locally and online) and always on the look out for other art venues, I stumbled upon Zazzle in early 2009.  It is free to open a shop (nothing I reccommend in my articles requires money or advanced computer skills) so the price was right and they let you design your own storefront.  But I had no idea what Zazzle was all about.  I began by uploading scans of my doodles, drawings and paintings and proceeded to put them on greeting cards, mugs and t-shirts.  I did this randomly with no particular plan in mind and promptly forgot about them.  A few months later I recieved an email from Zazzle saying Sold!  I had sold 100 copies of one of my greeting cards.  That was all the encouragement I…

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Paris – city for non lovers?

It is long understood that Paris is a city for lovers. The beautiful architecture, long winding river through the majestic buildings. Streets abuzz with second hand book sellers, crepes and vintage style posters. Impromptu bands busking in front of cafes that look like they are from movie sets, with seating designed for lovers. Seats, side by side, overlooking the passing parade. Even the language is magical in its sing song quality. Everywhere you go in the city of Paris, particularly in summer, you see couples holding hands, canoodling and generally looking, as lovers do, smitten. No longer able to claim myself as part of ‘youth’ I get a secret pleasure at seeing the delight in the faces of young love. Fresh, hopeful and not yet scarred by broken romances or the often unromantic nature of mortgages and parenthood. Here then, in this city of lovers, I find myself with child (4) and partner (bed ridden with tummy bug). How does one manage in the city of lovers without the aforesaid lover?

Well, as a parent, the love of your child can feel as powerful as a love affair. Paris was, despite my whimsical wishes that my partner was with us, still delightful. From the moment my daughters face lit up with amazement at what we called ‘lovelock bridge’ (there are actually three bridges festooned with lovers padlocks, this was the closest to us). I got to see Paris through a child’s eyes. The glittering magnificence of the lovelock bridge was indeed magical. Speckled with hopeful lovers wishing their romance would stay as it was in that moment, forever. In love, connected and surrounded by the beauty of Paris. It was through my daughters eyes that I enjoyed the Luxembourg gardens as she scampered over play equipment, different from that she plays on back home in Australia. I watched in awe as she made friendships despite speaking different languages. A look, a gesture and smile and off she would go with her little playmate. Climbing, digging, spinning and having a riotous time. Then they were the walks on the Seine, the ogling of the Louvre and the amusement I felt as she dipped her feet in the waters of the Louvre fountains. Something I would hesitate to do without the impetus of a child. The journey up the Eiffel Tower and look of wonderment as we looked from such lofty heights over the vast city of Paris. Her excitement as we ate at a restaurant where she was given a special menu declaring it the best spaghetti she had ever eaten. I watched in delight as she pored over her travel journey to pinpoint all the destinations we had travelled to. Remembering them in her own way… ‘that was where the man had a funny hat on’.

There were other magical moments too, spent alone. I ventured to the Musee D Orsay art gallery on an orgiastic eye feast without any need to consider if others were bored with what I was looking at, hungry or wanting to look at something that did not catch my interest. Then there was the gardens of Monet. Not difficult to see why he was so inspired to paint this scene. The Japanese section of the gardens managed to retain its tranquility despite the crush of visitors. I sat, overlooking Monet’s house munching on a Delicious French crab salad and reflected, that beauty can be found and held in all circumstances. It was easy to slip into sadness that my partner was ill, could not share the lovers Paris with me. The path of regret leads only to lost opportunities. To really make the situation work, even if it is ‘not what you had planned’ can produce such gold, even when you expected only some silver. It is something I hope I remember, the next time, that is inevitable, that things will not go according to plan.





A proper English tea

Like many of my romantic inclinations, I whiled away hours of my youth reading novels by such english authors as Enid Blyton then Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Thomas Hardy and Elizabeth Gaskell. Tolkien, Auel and other fantasy style novels. My favourite poem was penned by William Wordsworth ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud ….’. The imagery of the settings of these books excited and transported me from my australian backyard and problematic family happenings to rolling country sides, palatial manors, English lords and ladies and heroes and heroines that overcame adversity and their own perversities to boot.

The serving of tea always sounded so delightfully ritualistic. The little pots of jam and cream. Freshly baked scones and tiny points of sandwiches. The Enid Blyton books were of ruins and coastlines, secret tunnels and mystery. Delightful tomboy girls and children companions getting up to adult like adventures and mystery solving excited my adventurous spirit. I lived, breathed and ran free via these books whilst my own life was contracted by circumstance and location. Coming to the UK, I still held these treasured memories in mind and secretly hoped to discover some of their pleasures in the country from which these books were derived.

It is of course, another era. The world has long moved on from ladies and chivalry. Even the aristocracy have moved on from the incumbency of women on the income of their father or husband. The importance of virtue and a good marriage still held precious by some, but not necessarily the ingredients of rack and ruin. Personally, I have long reached a point of understanding that the ‘romance’ of those novels are often rich in irony and satire. It is perhaps a window into my underbelly that I still secretly harbour the pleasure of the romantic english ideal. The proper tea, the english countryside walk, the gambolling larrikin children managed with the assistance of a loving, doting nanny or governess. It is therefore with pleasure that the yearnings of childhood are currently tugged and pleased as I shamble about the country lanes of England and Wales. The tea service might be somewhat tarnished by the clotted cream and jam in plastic throw out packs, but not enough, never enough, to stop the daydreaming child that was, and is.



Looking for peace in all the wrong places

Marathon travelling for a four year old. Four am start. Long queues, long sitting. Hilly twisty roads designed for car sick prone little girls to empty their stomachs. On arrival, sugar hit and stillness resolves illness. The green beauty and stone mossy rock of Ubud quells the anxiousness. Morning sun and afternoon drenching brings out the vividness of the green foliage and tropical blooms. Peace and serenity are the common occupants of this location. ‘Ananda’ – bliss. Well named cottages.

Little time to absorb and settle before the first yoga session. A welcome from a spiritual being, a yogi par excellence. Her eyes are bright with the light that shines from within to all who come in contact. A gift of soy and linseed eye pillow, sewed with love by a mother in law who no doubt also recognises Dana’s inner beauty. The intention is set. The practise of yoga feels imbued with love and serenity, care and nurturance.
As the day progresses to dinner time, the rain pours, the tiredness settles into a headache. An overwhelmed little girl, mother and myself drag ourselves to the group dinner. The views down the valley bordered by magnificent hills mollifies and soothes for a spell. The food, vegetarian and delicious. A little girl satisfied with the offering of her pasta and sauce. For the rest, a vegetarian gastronomy of tempeh, tofu and coconut cakes. All is devoured with appreciative gusto, even by my staunchly carnivorous mother. Geckos flit about the ceiling, wait staff are attentive, friendly welcoming. Dotted around the restaurant and foyer are art pieces by local artists. The use of palette knife to create texture and image observed with interest. The cocktail sits warmly and uncomfortably. A bad choice, water the better option. Insidiously the tiredness creeps back. A tired little girl becomes restless, fitful. A short walk across the road. The little one snuggles into her mosquito netted bed, without complaint, without hand holding and drifts off to sleep in minutes.
A fitful rest marred by lack of alarm clock and panic that I will not wake in time due to my tiredness. A little excited girl wakes at 5.30am. Can not go back to sleep, though she does make the effort. And so, day two commences.
The headache remains, an artefact of dehydration, carrying a heavy bag with a knot in the shoulder joint and a little girl who is tired and insecure in her new environment away from all that she knows and loves.
During the yoga session the pain abates, the anxiety resolves and the tiredness and fatigue subsides. Looking out over the rice paddies as the workers in their conical hats hack away at the sheaths of rice and pound them into carrier bags is a soothing and meditative accompaniment to the yoga practice. The reason for being here swells over me, the worry and pain forgotten in that moment of connecting into the yoga practise. The shared energy of people and place. Afterwards, I practically skip back our room.
We meet Nyoman, our driver, on the Ananda grounds. He looked about himself, seemed nervous. He queried our names, where we were from – did we want transport? Where did we want to go, he rattled off some locations. He was in uniform, an employee of Ananda. He seems clandestine and raises my suspicions immediately. Turns out he is not a rare employee, many Balinese have more than one job. Common also, the questions, the need to orient this new person into the correct place in their universe of understanding. I later learn of his two children, his hobby of wood carving. His soft, gentle kind manner and consideration. Even in the face of the rib nudging he is given by his peers for taking out two unaccompanied women and a little girl – evidently he is teased for his surrogate wife and family. I ask tentative questions and begin to get a story of this man, this place. We arrange an outing to the Monkey forest. He says his brother Made will drive, but it is Nyoman that turns up – Perhaps he picks up on my anxiety.
My mother declines to do outings without me, security or company I know not which. She becomes restless at the hours I spend in yoga. The sessions last at least two hours, she can not fathom how exercise can last that long. Yoga is hard to explain to those who do not love it. I observe and ruminate that I continue to be in the same ‘borrowed time’ position I am at home. I get a break for yoga – albeit longer – but the time out for other pursuits is hard fought. The constant presence of others wears down my need for solitude. The lack of routine makes Bella needy, clingy and tired. My calmness slips away in the face of neediness, I find myself snappy, cross. This of course only makes Bella’s behaviour worst, and I immediately regret and soften.
I skip a session – It seems like a good idea- to not be rushed to take time out. But instead I feel tired and grumpy. Nonetheless, the cuddles with my girl are sweet and it is clear she has missed this morning ritual of ours.
Bella is mostly having a fine time. Swimming and exploring the Ananda grounds. At times she is overwhelmed with the attention she receives. Every local we engage, on hearing her name and seeing her sweet face, comments on her beauty. They are surprised by, her age and surprised that I am her mother. This latter is difficult to ascertain … because of my age or because of her beauty? Both feel confronting – imagine if it is both? I don’t dare seek clarification and pretend I am imagining it. The former, is based on her high level of communication skills and confidence. No shy wall flower this girl of mine.
Dinner time – how does the conversation turn to my insecurities? How has my mother not understood their painful existence? It proves a watershed. The revelations about my insecurities – and a chance to enjoy some music and dancing move us into our travel groove. Or, perhaps it is the yoga. It is strong, powerful amazing. My body although fatigued is invigorated by it. With yoga comes emotional release. In the context of the dynamic of mother child nanny – this is an interesting time, history triggered and so is acceptance.Things are calmer from that point on. I feel m mother and I have reached a better understanding of one another and hope it can continue into the future.
On the last day, I sink into my yoga practise. I feel the joy of it. I reflect on my struggle against what is. This is my reality. Why did I think it would be different in a different setting? It is obvious now that it was always going to be highlighted, our differences. This realisation occurs to me in the middle of a yin yoga session. Slow, held yoga poses. Challenging in their stillness. Emotions well, I am engulfed by tears that I hold behind my eyes, wanting them to remain private. I look out over the room of fellow yogis and further at our new view, of the lush gardens of Ananda cottages and a sparkling blue pool. I embrace it, I let it seep into my soul. I remind myself to hold that. As I always try to do. In daily life. I seek that space of bliss, of union with others of community. I am not alone. There is a whole world. We each have our roles in this life, some are wanted, some are inherited without our realising it. All must be borne. How we carry them will determine if we remain in a state of tense agitation or slip into a state of acceptance. It is our ability to think creatively, to manage these burdens in a manner that can render them painless. This is now, this is happening. It won’t last forever. Relish it, Hold it … for this too, soon, will pass. Life is fleeting and deserves our utmost attention.

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