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How journaling made me organised

By | Art, Disability
When I was a child and couldn’t find my shoes or some other possession, mum would tell me that she would not always be around to find things for me. That as a person who is blind, it was even more important that I was organised and put my things away where they belong.

Every time I can’t find my shoes, my keys (the list could go on for several pages), I hear mum’s voice in my head reminding me of the importance of being organised. My brother, who lives with me will also tell you that I am constantly buying tools, storage etc to help me be more organised. I still lose track of my keys, my purse, my damn shoes. And then, my saviour arrived at Art Mania.

Well, Bek has in fact been with us for the last twelve months, or close to it. If you haven’t met her, Bek is responsible for all of the social media Art Mania puts out to keep you all informed. She also makes it possible for you to read these posts that I write. I write a blog post, email it to Bek and she does the proofing and uploading for me.

Last year, Bek came up with the brilliant idea to run a series of workshops on journaling. The first of these workshops was held on Saturday at the Hunter Wetlands. This first one, was called Journaling for Organisation.

I just knew, if there was going to be a workshop I had to do this year, it would be this one. And I was right. By following the simple structure and methods that Bek taught us, I have been able to put everything on paper and break things down. I came up with step by step strategies that leave me feeling less out of control. I felt like I could breathe again.

What’s even better is that this Saturday, the next journaling workshop takes place at the Wetlands. And a week later is the last of the three. This second workshop is journaling for creativity. I love the idea that I will be able to get all my ideas out of my head and on paper.

I don’t know about other creative people, but personally, sometimes my brain feels so full of ideas I don’t know how to untangle them.

And hey, you get to play with stationary of all kinds. So all you stationary lovers will be in heaven.

The third workshop is Journaling for well being. One of the downsides of being a creative, is that you can so wrapped up in your creations, the simple, day to day things can slip the mind and get buried in the other incidental tasks of day to day life. I know when I am creating, I don’t look after myself as well as I could, or should. I can forget to eat, miss medication. It should be such a natural, instinctual thing to do, to take care of yourself, but this isn’t always the case.

Does any of this resonate for you? If so you really should come join us for the next two Saturdays. You will have so much fun and learn some really handy stuff for dealing with life. That way you can stop worrying about the little things and have more time for the fun stuff, like creating.

 

-Sam Ogilvie

MEET OUR NEW DRAWING TEACHER

By | Art, Lifestyle

A big welcome to our drawing teacher, Gail!

Gail has lived in Wallsend for 30 years with her husband & 5 children.

Gail completed her Fine Arts Diploma at Hunter Street TAFE, graduating from Newcastle University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, then with an Honours degree in 2011.

Her work is inspired by an interest and love for people & community.

Gail works in painting, drawing & textiles. These disciplines often cross over producing interesting hybrid art works of colour, image & stitch.

The essence of Gail’s art practice is acknowledging people’s lives, validating & empathising with their experiences. She finds teaching & exhibiting rewarding as she is able to connect with the community.

 

Gail has exhibited widely, she has shown her art within:

  • John Hunter Arts & Health programs
  • Wallsend Library
  • Watt Space Newcastle
  • Newcastle Art Space
  • Art Systems Wickham
  • Maitland Regional Gallery

Gail believes the world is the richer for the contribution of the creative soul.

She is looking forward to cheering others on to discover their unique voice & mark so that they can confidently express who they are & what they have to say.

NATURE’S SERENADE

By | Art, Disability, Lifestyle

One of the major themes in my art is the natural world. I’ve used leaves and trees in lino carving that I then printed onto different hand-made papers. Some still feel like the stringy fibres of the trees that they originated from. In my glass work I’ve been using the natural elements of earth, fire, water and air to create pictures using powdered glass. I’m building up quite a collection of clay animals as well.

When I found out I would be having an exhibition of my own, I was of course, very excited. Learning that it would happen at the wetlands was even better. I’d never been there, but I did know about it and everything I heard was positive.

A couple of days ago, I finally got a chance to visit the wetlands for myself. It was the perfect day, sunny but not too hot.

My first impression was one of peace and of the world slowing and taking time to breathe. I felt the warmth of the sun on my skin. The various birds sang, intermingling and creating a symphony of joy and life.

As we slowly walked along the paths, the gravel crunched beneath our feet and I could feel the texture through my shoes.

I stopped to feel one of the totem poles scattered around the wetlands. It felt worn smooth over time. Criss-crossed by carvings that read like road signs in a tactile language akin to the braille I read. I could feel my thoughts slowing and images and words drifted through me. They slipped in and out in a meditative manner, not necessary to be held onto or analysed.

I learnt of a bird known as a magpie goose and arrived in time to witness their daily meal. They gathered in a group on the bank where their food had been left. They ate and a couple in particular kept up a gentle honking conversation. As each bird took to the water again, their entry sounded like a gentle wave washing over the shore of a harbour.

Their black and white colouring made them a good contrast with the earth they fed on and so I was able to make them out. They were bouncing balls of contrast to my eyes.

We ended up sitting by another pond along the sensory trail. The seat we sat upon was in the sun, while in front of us, the ground was dappled with sun and shade. As we sat quietly sketching and writing, magpies strutted back and forward in the space before us. The only thing making it possible to make their existence out, was their movement. The shifting of something before me.

I found myself sketching the trunk of an old tree. It had pieces of bark, some as large as my sketch pad peeling away from the trunk. Peeling away like old skin, making room for the new, clean and green regrowth to come through.

Those couple of hours were exactly the nourishment I needed. To be able to touch nature with my hands, my feet. To be serenaded by bird song, snapping twigs and gently shifting water. The sound of the light breeze in the trees. I found myself writing poetry as well as sketching.

I’ve come away feeling revived and my creative flow running smooth and thick with ideas. It was definitely an experience I will make sure I have again.

If you are feeling smothered, stale, just over the world, especially now with Covid- take a walk in nature. Nothing will revive you as well as the natural world. And you don’t have to worry about social distancing from trees.

– Sam Ogilvie

LIFE DRAWING WITH NO EYES

By | Art, Lifestyle

One of my favourite things about being part of Art Mania, is that it’s given me the chance to try different things. The opportunity to explore ideas and mediums I haven’t had access to before.

One of the things I’d never considered before, was the idea of life drawing.

It always got categorized in my head as one of those purely visual styles of art. It wasn’t something I’d even contemplated as something I could do. I do remember, years ago, living in Melbourne, my flat mate worked as a life model. One day, I went along with her to one of her sessions, but didn’t stay in the room. I sat in the garden and worked on my poetry.

A picture of a hand using charcoal to draw the outline and shading of a side-on body.

It was only after her session was over and we were heading off to the tram, that I learnt about some of the artists who she regularly posed for. One of these artists always left her without eyes. I found this intriguing and an interesting spin on a purely visual art form. The idea that the artist sees the world, but the model isn’t allowed the same ability. Or was it about the blinding of the naked female because of her nakedness?

Still, it never occurred to me to attempt this form. It continued to remain in that folder of impossibilities due to a lack of vision.

Recently, however, there came a shift in my attitude. I was talking to a fellow artist who had wanted her partner to pose naked for her and the partner refused. This friend and I got talking and agreed that we were happy to pose for one another.

This is an incredible gift that my friend was offering. For life drawing is possible for me, it just means I have to touch the model. Something that then brings up its own challenges. Such an intimate act, made even more so by the need for physical contact. It is a beautiful gift just having the offer made to me. And then the playing field changed again.

I was approached not long after, by a guy who had worked as a life model before and was interested in picking up more work in the area. I explained the situation, the need to touch. He told me that he had no problem with that.

Sam sitting at a canvas painting. There is pink paint on the canvas.

I realised however, that maybe I did. Being female, and a small one at that, I couldn’t help feeling that even though I would be clothed, I was the vulnerable one.

It is always interesting when I meet people and witness how they take my lack of vision.

Some simply take it in their stride. To them I’m just a person who happens to be blind. For others, I bring out that fear within them, the fear of how they would or wouldn’t cope, in my shoes. Another group have trouble getting part the question of how I see them and the world without sight. This often involves them thinking and/or ask me if I need to feel their face to know what they look like.

This is one of the concepts that drives my art. The desire to show people that I do see the world, just not with my eyes and that the images in my head are often very different to theirs’.

I find the act of touching someone’s face, incredibly intimate and not something I feel comfortable with at first meeting, in some cases if ever. The exploration of another’s face is something I’ve only done with lovers, family and those I feel particularly comfortable. This comfort is a two way street. The person in question needs to be comfortable enough in their own skin for me to feel comfortable touching them.

Sam holding Jimmy the lizard.

All of these thoughts and others have been racing around my brain. There was also an implied sexual element on the part of the guy offering to model for me. Obviously some body functions occur in particular situations and I could see where he was coming from. The problem for me was the idea that this would mean a further intimacy was expected on his part.

I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to sort it all out in my head. My final decision, that I only reached last night, was that I couldn’t do it. I’m still perfectly comfortable stripping off for my friend and having her sit for me. I think the difference is that I know that there are no hidden agendas with my friend. That I won’t be walking on unsteady ground. At risk of plunging over a cliff at any time.

So, I’ve surprised myself. Without consciously doing it, I’ve discovered that something I thought was impossible for me, isn’t.

As my mother has always told me, “just because I’m blind, doesn’t mean I can’t do anything I want. It just means I might need to find a different way of going about it.”

Perhaps this will help you look at life differently. Look at something you’ve always seen one way and found there is another way to go about it. Enjoy what you discover.

-Sam Ogilvie

5 REASONS WHY ART GIVES TEENS THE LIFE SKILLS THEY NEED

By | Art

We all know that being creative has a certain essence about it that makes us feel good, right?

And, by saying ‘being creative’ it doesn’t mean creating a masterpiece on a canvas that is intended for an art gallery. 

So why does it feel good and seem to affect so many other areas of life?

Creativity is a human trait. We are a species born to create. From meals, to buildings, to babies, to packing a lunch box. Creativity must be fostered, it needs encouragement and room to grow whilst still having limitations to exist within. 

For young people that have a higher than average exposure to creating art and the media for creating it, possess qualities that many others do not have. Exposure to art, ripples out to many other areas of learning and life. 

1. EXPRESS YOURSELF

As children develop, they move from the outward stage of exploration and finding identity to one of social integration and figuring out where they fit in the world. Many experience an internalisation of their true expression as the desire to ‘fit in’ and ‘be normal’ in this hyper-stimulated world dulls their externalisation of self. By expressing oneself on a physical medium, teens find a voice that may otherwise have never been accessed. Language is only one way ideas can be expressed, all youth need to build skills in other avenues to convey what they may be struggling to express in words.

 

2. FINDING SELF CONTROL

We’ve all had moments where we feel like life is out of control. For teens this can be a constant state and as they try to harness control of their life. Artistic engagement stimulates the mind and when they create something, they can call it their own. Overcoming problems in other areas of life becomes easier as they regain the sense of self-determination creating something physical.

 

3. PROGRESS IS POSSIBLE

When we see our improvement as we refine a skill, the sense of achievement is tangible. Youth increase in confidence when their talents begin to improve, such as with drawing, building, painting and designing. When teens see progress and change in something they have persisted at, it offers a reflection, illustrating that all things can get better with time and effort.

4. INSTANT V’S DELAYED GRATIFICATION

It can be hard when we’re young to truly grasp the notion of doing something now for later benefit. Most Teens want instant gratification and an instant result that is tangible. Art offers both. Creating something positive and worthwhile is an instant and tangible result. Being able to look at a beautiful creation over time, allows them to reflect on how they were feeling when they created it. They can see how the passage of time changes things, they also see their own capacity to create something real and lasting which adds to their sense of self.

5. SKILLS FOR LIFE

Every step we take teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. When our journey is guided by the freedom and boundaries art allows it offers a platform to develop skills that will be applicable to every area of life. The process of creating art is a healthy way to develop skills in making choices and solving problems, something we are all faced with each and every day. From a simple choice of which colour to use, where to draw a line, what size to make something, each choice makes something more their own. Art goes beyond, as through the process of creation, until that point, it was only in the imagination. They have the capacity to bring something to life that previously didn’t exist.    

 

Art Mania Studio’s Teens After School Development Program fosters not only artistic skills in the group, it also offers social, communicative and self-expression skills that will equip them for life.

 

WE HAVE A COUPLE OF SPOTS LEFT FOR OUR TERM 1 PROGRAM – for more details click here

 

Written by Jen Majenta Moon, Art Mania Team Member

Why enrol your child at Art Mania?

By | Art, Lifestyle

Creative Kids Voucher

Do you remember the look of pride and joy in your child’s eyes when you put their first piece of artwork onto the fridge? Remember the sounds of excitement and enthusiasm as texta’s or pencils scattered across the kitchen table as they decided to start their next creative project?

Recapture that excitement and pride by taking advantage of the $100 Creative Kids vouchers! Kids are taken on the most amazing journey over a term here at Art Mania Studio, they visibly blossom as their skills improve and their perspective on what’s possible widens.

Creativity is a foundational key to life. Kids shine and the ripple effect can be seen across every area of their life.

Art Mania Studio offers their After School Development Program for kids (age 5-12) and teens (age 13-18), to make sure that every child who wants to get creative, can! Wednesdays and Thursdays 4-5:30pm for 10 weeks of term is when it’s on! Weekdays no good for your family? The Krafty Kids Sat morning class also runs for the 10 weeks of term and gives an equal opportunity for growth and creative expression. These classes are a fantastic way for your child to delve into the creative world, and explore a variety of methods and techniques each week.

As parents and caregivers, there are a million different activities you can register your child for. So why should you choose to enrol your child at Art Mania?

  • Creativity is for every child (and adult!). It isn’t about having a special inclination towards being artistic; it’s not about how talented you are; it’s not even about whether or not you like your own work. Skills and techniques can be learned (just like riding a bike!), under the guidance of our wonderful tutors. Being creative has its own benefits – benefits that are just as important as those your child might get from team sports or similar.
  • Did you know that encouraging creativity in children encourages concentration, critical thinking and problem solving? Our classes engage participants in receiving and giving feedback – an essential social skill. Also, being creative helps your child learn to express themselves in different ways – this is a particular benefit for teens and preteens!

One thing that is so important is helping your child find their niche in life. The way of the world is changing and learning to use different parts of the brain will help your child in managing the demands of living in contemporary society and finding creative solutions to what life throws at them.

Our after school and weekend programs at Art Mania are a safe, fun space for your child or teen to really experience the world of art. They’ll explore different techniques and artists each week, with practical experience at the heart of each session.

Every child deserves the gift of creativity and expression.

APPLY FOR A CREATIVE KIDS VOUCHER

AVAILABLE KIDS & TEEN CLASSES

Creative Kids Voucher

By | Art, Lifestyle

Creative Kids Voucher

We’ve got some fantastic news – we are now a registered provider of the NSW Government’s Creative Kids rebate offers! These rebates give you $100 towards your school-aged child participating in our awesome kid’s art programs!

Parents and Carers can apply for a Creative Kids voucher through their MyServiceNSW account (you will need to log in or register) link here. You get one voucher worth $100 per school-aged child, and there’s no need to print the voucher after you have applied for it – all we need is the voucher number, expiry date, and your child’s name and date of birth.

From there, your child will be ready to enter an amazing world of creativity!

What do our Kid’s Art Programs offer? Your child will have the opportunity to express themselves in new and exciting ways, experiment with a whole smorgasbord of art mediums, but most of all, have FUN! To date we’ve experimented with painting, drawing, clay work, basket weaving – students have even created selfies – self-portraits away from the screens!

Kids need regular opportunities to work out their creative intelligence: it gives them a chance to make choices, express themselves, be creative (applying techniques in new and unusual ways), and to gain confidence in the process of creativity, rather than focusing on the finished product. These things are so important for kids of all ages, so that they can really hone not only their sense of self but also their ability to make choices. This program also helps kids who may not excel in traditional after school activities such as sport: we give them a chance to find something they can excel at, and spark a lifelong passion for creativity.

We’re running special Creative Kids classes for term 2, for new participants. If your child is already enrolled in our exciting kid’s art program, they can continue in their regular time slot. For new participants, we are opening two special classes for you to choose from.

Wednesday afternoons, 4pm – 5:30pm (two classes: one for primary and one for high school)

Saturday mornings, 10am – 11:30am (one class, with all ages learning together)

Both of these classes run for ten weeks, and the total cost is $300. For that, your child receives expert tuition, all gear required, new friends, time to explore, the chance to learn creative skills and the chance to explore art theory (this is always incorporated into practical and fun activities!).

With your voucher, you will get all this for $200! Awesome!

APPLY FOR A CREATIVE KIDS VOUCHER

AVAILABLE KIDS & TEEN CLASSES