To Paint with Soul is an Act of Love

Art is love expressed in colours.

And to create is to love; that is how I see it. (Don’t ask me why) It’s just how a hard-core romantic must think. 

I was privileged to know 2 amazingly talented artists lately. Looking at their beautiful paintings, I could not but think (and conclude) that painting with soul is an act of love 🎨.

The Portraitists

Who are they? Firstly, painters with a burning passion for people; they specialise in portraits 👤. Secondly, art teachers and healers: Margaret Sloan of Mockingbirds at Midnight, and Natasha Nashadka of The Art Remedy both teach at their home studios, and seek to heal the world by adding meaning to people’s lives through art. Thirdly, they are (just like me) nature, animal lovers and fellow bloggers 😍 !! 

” … What fascinates me most, so much more than the rest of my craft, is the portrait, the modern portrait …”   – Vincent Van Gogh

Margaret SloanMargaret Sloan, inveterate story-teller and watercolour expert                                                                 

Wild at heart with a compulsive obsession for stories, Margaret paints primarily in watercolour for its lucid translucent quality, to render lifelike portraits of faces. Painting a portrait, is to her, like a conversation she’s having with the person, the paint, and the paper. 

”  I love painting portraits and people more than anything else, because humans are inherently about story, but I’ll branch out to inanimate objects and landscapes if they have an interesting tale. “

Visit Margaret’s portfolio of watercolour portraits here 🎞 .

She is now working on a series of cloud paintings, because she feels that clouds tell the narrative of our blue planet. A series about humans and their relationships with other animals and the land is also in the works.

MargaretSloan_BeginnersReelElephants, just like the great wilderness, have always held a special place in Margaret’s heart since young. For the Love of Elephants (her blog post) showcases her soulful rendition of this complex and intelligent mammal. It’s no surprise that Margaret had offered a portion from the sales of her Etsy shop 🛍 elephant prints (very beautiful !) to support the elephants at Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).

It’s been 25 years since Margaret began to pursue her art seriously. Working tirelessly at her visual and writing skills every day, she reflects ” I find that my muse will only come knocking when I’m working hard. She only drops inspiration in my lap if I’m sitting at my desk; she only hands me an idea when I’m standing at my easel. “

She is equally enthusiastic about playing Irish tunes, or cooking madly ambitious dinners for friends when not at work 😋 . To get updates on what Margaret Sloan is up to, do visit and follow her Blog, Instagram or Facebook !

” To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts – such is the duty of the artist. ”    

   – Robert Schumann

Natasha Nashadka, guardian of memories and problem solver

Adept at artful solutions for life’s problems, Natasha (whose aptly named business is The Art Remedy) is on an all-out quest to reach out to anyone who needs some help. After all, for one whose personal motto is likely ” Art equals life “, help is just an imaginative spark away 😜 .

A self-appointed keeper of memories, Natasha is more than happy to immortalise your loved ones (whether two-legged or four-legged 🐕) by creating realistic portraits that capture and reveal their essence. Well, portraiture is one of her favourite subjects …

I really adored her portraits of those loyal dogs , the way she captured the texture of wavy fur, the expression of those melt-your-heart doggy eyes; also the wide-eyed guileless innocence of the children portraits, and not forgetting, her oh-so-pretty ballerinas ! And free colouring sheets !

“Maryssa” © 2016, 8×10, oil on canvas

Like many creative types, Natasha’s early creative adventures were sporadic and unfocused. Working infrequently, she tried her hand at many things. Woodworking, gardening, jewelry making, and scrapbooking to name just a few. Painting for her came about when she volunteered to paint a mural for the Salvation Army – of Jesus Feeding the Five Thousand. A huge undertaking but she was hooked !! So how did she finally specialise in portraits? The story according to Natasha is:

” Early on in my painting adventures, I painted whatever caught my eye. Then a man at an art show told me that he only bought landscapes that had people in them. A light switched on for me at that moment: we humans identify with humans (who knew?). Think about when you flip through family photos – the scenery is nice, but we are way more interested in and linger the longest on the ones with the people. Science confirms it. So this is what I paint: people. ” 

Next in line, Natasha aspires to become like the daily painters; not just for their dedication that is motivating but the mastery that evolves from so much exercise. Why not visit and follow her efforts on her Blog, Instagram or Facebook ?

So have you been inspired to have a portrait for yourself? For the elder or little ones? or how about the furry ones? A song came to mind as I wrote this post, as you might guess, it is Don McLean’s ‘ Starry, Starry Night ‘. How could I help it? Vincent loved his art and subjects so much it tore him apart. (I am thankful, however, my painter friends here are soulful but not angsty.) Here is the (You-tube) video-slide of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings to the lyrics of this melancholic song. Cheers to art, love and life 🍷🧀 !   Till next!

One Busy Sloth and the Creative Soul

One Busy Sloth and the Creative SoulThere lived a creative tribe.

A family of dreamers and makers named Chan in Singapore. Granddad had apprenticed to a tailor, daddy dreamed up and made amazing lantern designs – ones that could roll on the floor 😍 that he would sell during the mid-autumn festival in Chinatown. Mommy held her own: sewing dresses and kimono-styled nighties for her children, four lively girls, on a Singer treadle sewing machine. She had even sewn her own wedding dress!

The said lively girls were, of course ☺️, my sisters and I. We loved drama, amusing ourselves play-acting and singing in mum’s lovingly made kimono night dresses. And we grew up creative people, loving design and working with our hands – like our parents.

One Busy Sloth, an oxymoron

In her own words, my sister, Jo, “was the laziest person One Busy Slothwhen growing up”. Doing as little as possible, like a sloth. These days, as a mother of two, she could not be more different. Productivity is the rule of the day; she would have ants in her pants if she had to sit around doing nothing 😮. So she is now One Busy Sloth!

The Creative Soul

Like many makers who ventured into starting a small creative business, Jo started out happily dabbling in all kinds of crafts; starting with scrapbooking, card making, then jewellery making. One fine day, Jo found herself staring at her Ikea easy chair and the tired looking cushion cover peered sadly back at her. She decided it was time to learn to sew. It was dad, who taught her how to sew on a sewing machine, on her next visit home. Jo bought her first sewing machine 3 months later, a 2nd hand 1970s Husqvarna. Then she was just unstoppable. One Busy Sloth-2

One Busy Sloth: beautiful bags for practical souls was born 3 years later. Jo handcrafts every single item from both her MadeIt store and her Etsy store. From the shopping for fabrics (which she finds terribly addictive!) to the sketching and design of a new range for her brand – that could take weeks or months to tweak, to seeing the finished product: each process brings joy, challenge, and a satisfaction so immense that dear Jo simply cannot put into words.

Community and Joys of the Creative Life

Apart from the joy of handcrafting all her gems from a little studio amongst the gum trees, with the sounds of kookaburra laughing (in a beautiful suburb of Sydney), her business has introduced her to an amazing new world of creative souls out there, some of whom Jo is privileged to call friends. One Busy SlothShe is now a long time member of the Handmade Cooperative: a collective of like-minded business women working together to celebrate the best in handmade for kids. Last weekend, Jo was delegated to attend the Etsy Captain Summit in Melbourne, a two-day workshop where she was overjoyed to connect and bond with fellow leading Etsy entrepreneurs and administrators as they discussed ways to thrive and grow their businesses together.

“A creative life is an amplified life” as Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear quipped. “It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life … Living in this manner — continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you — is a fine art, in and of itself.” 

Sharing this creative, enchanted life with Jo are her wonderful husband, two vivacious kids, and her very grumpy but gorgeous old cat, the Dowager! (Not forgetting the cockatoos and kookaburras too.) I must add here that my family and I have been the happy and grateful recipients of many of her hand-made gifts: from Christmas cookies, cards and jewellery back then, to bags, quilts, purses, and pouches now. Yipee! 😜

If you would like to see more of my sister’s work and keep in touch with One Busy Sloth, why not follow her on Instagram or join her Sloth club here 📬.

Here’s wishing you reader, a great start to the week! I hope you were inspired in some way to live your own creative life too, so what’s your creative outlet? Leave me a comment.

Till next!

Thank God It’s Good Friday!

Annectar's Room-3Bubbles drifted merrily above borne by the tender evening breeze. Little lit trees and street lamps illuminated the broad square where I sat on a bench, sipping a bottle of Bacardi Breezer. It was Friday – the end of another week of clerical slavery – and I was in real need of soothing my strained senses.

It was my duty at work, on the last working day of each week, to send the training schedule of next week’s to all staff; I had affectionately called this weekly mail: my “TGIF” mail, for it always began with “Dear All, TGIF!” So I came to be the herald of weekend: the time for rest and leisure 😊.

German Catholic philosopher, Josef Pieper, who wrote ‘Leisure, the Basis of Culture’, claimed leisure is the key to reclaiming our human dignity in a culture of workaholism. Not only essential to the human spirit, “leisure is a condition of the soul .. a form of stillness” that disposes one to receptivity, being at peace and letting go. It certainly is the fount of creative impulses – without, there would not be great works or genial inventions that many of us so enjoy and take for granted. Mark Rowlands, professor and writer of philosophy did most of (his) serious thinking while running, and Einstein got some of his greatest inspirations while playing violin. 

It wasn’t any ordinary Friday night – it was the one before Good Friday. I was sitting there and just thinking about what to write (if I would write a post for Good Friday?) when a girl and a boy approached me and offered a prayer. (I’m afraid I politely declined them even though I appreciated their goodwill and faithfulness.) Dear sister and brother in Christ, if you get to read this: please know I was touched that you came over to reach out to me, however, I was simply not in the frame of mind to talk to strangers and certainly not about to share my cares then (yes, I’m terrifically introverted).

So they left and I continued thinking … It wasn’t long before two girls approached me this time. “WelI, I was approached before”, I told the girls. “Could we just give you something?”, she handed me a folded paper heart on which wrote “God loves you more than you can ever comprehend. God bless! ☺️”  I was grateful, “thank you!” and Amen!

Surely God’s love is much more than I can comprehend, why else would He send His son to die so cruelly for us on a cross?  God, I feel your love tonight even if I was not that receptive to your servants, I’m sorry .. I know you care for me, you sent your love to me twice tonight. And I know Jesus is the greatest gift and best friend I could ever have, because He is freedom. 

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart,

and you will find rest for your souls.

For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” 

(Matthew 11: 28 – 30)

It’s Easter Sunday, I hope you have a great one! 

Tend to your soul as you would your favourite garden 🍃🌲☘

Leave me your comments, I’d love to hear from you.

Saying Goodbye: Sylvester, the ‘Cow’ and other farewells

Sylvester, the 'Cow' and Other Farewells-2

A family had moved away for 3 months now; along went their cats, Sylvester and the ‘Cow’. They were not particularly fond of me, like I was of them.  Sylvester never allowed me to pat him though I stopped by daily to salute. Molly (whom I called the ‘cow’) greeted me at times: strolling over to rub her head against my ankles😊, or rolling over on her back when she spied me.  Still, I learned not to pat her. For often her initial coyness changed to an eerie hiss!! a conduct I could not fathom.. was there something wrong with me? Nevertheless I adored them. Their mere presence made my neighbourhood – just that much lovelier.

Around this time of my neighbour’s exit was another one: at my work place. A group of colleagues whom I had come to know – for almost a year, and genuinely like – were leaving the office, one after another; trickling out the company and from my life.  

Yes, life and work still goes on. The adult in me moves on, shakes the dust off and continues the daily march. (Or maybe, grind.) The child in me aches for the time – not so long ago, when work was almost play – filled with daily streams of laughter, mischief, anSylvester, the 'Cow' and other farewellsd plain wackiness 😉 😉 .

Heraclitus said ” the only thing that is constant is change “. How about farewells? No one said anything about what to do with these half-sown relationships. The constant ebb and flow of people in our lives – like shifting sands over the Saharan desert. Is it easy to just say goodbye? 

If ” to say goodbye is to die a little “, how much of one is left when those whom we connected with are no longer found? Are not friends witnesses of our lives, whether in little or great moments? 

Being alone sometimes feels unreal. How can I be sure – if what I saw, or what I did – wasn’t just imagined, without a companion or witness? When I stood over the beautiful Seine river for the first time, 5 years ago, I had asked myself – is this real? Was I really here in Paris beholding this beauty? No one was with me to share that blissfMolly, the 'Cow'ul moment. So I took lots of pictures, as souvenirs and witness of my journey, many of which appear on pages in this blog.

Looking back at the many chapters of my life, I found treasure in the motley collection of persons encountered through my shifting trades. From my wild ‘hairy’ days at Toni & Guy, to days of song and dance backstage of musical theatre, to where I presently am in a corporate academy: this is a tribute for all the boys, girls, men, women, whichever race and sexual preference you are of; who have crossed my path. I am the sum of these memories of you. Like differing shades of a painting, you have coloured my world ..

I dedicate to you a luminous performance of Cole Porter’s ‘ Every Time We Say Goodbye ‘ (YouTube link) by the multi-talented Lady Gaga. Did you know she sings jazz and classics really well? I hope you enjoyed this post and the dedication, leave me your comments .. 

Till next!

 

One in a Trillion You: remembering LKY on SG50

The clock just struck twelve. Today marks the 50th year of independence for my country, Singapore; known also as the little red dot 🙂 . I can't remember how this cute name came to be but it has stuck to the national psyche somehow. An earnest pride of our achievements in spite of all limitations - of land, of resources.

And here, a man. A great man. Of immense energy and charisma, but not just that - a steely will; brave heart; a master of both great and small - Lee Kuan Yew, led this pygmy nation to this day. He is not here to celebrate with us today sadly. He had departed on 23 March 2015.

I recall distinctly the raging tempest, the night before the dismal announcement. Fiery claps of thunder. Wild lightning bolts. Torrential sheets of rain (they might have been tears from heaven). It was the same on the day of the State Funeral Procession. Throngs of thousands waited in the downpour, lining the streets to bid their last farewell to the dear man, our founding father. 

I kept one particular illustration of Mr Lee (picture on the right) that moved me most, among the copious articles surrounding his death (which had set both local and international media abuzz substantially). He is depicted with his back view in the midst of a garden; seemingly inspecting it with both pride and caution: this garden he planted by his sweat and blood.  The blue jacket is one he often donned while in office. This garden - is both my country, the Garden City, and perhaps, paradise. I'm quite sure Mr Lee would be peering from heaven today, watching if everything is well with his garden; and may I add, with pride at our National Day Parade in its Jubilee year. Rest in peace, Mr Lee. 

And to all my fellow citizens and residents, I wish you all a wonderful Jubilee Weekend!!

 

LKY in the garden

Picture: Lianhe Zaobao
(line is caused by newspaper fold)

 

Sex and the City and why I blog

It mwhy do I blog?ust have been Carrie Bradshaw, journaling thoughts for her next column as she mused over her sexual life and that of New York City’s at large; that I had my first inkling of someday doing what I am doing now. Somehow the picture of Carrie’s reflective gaze at her MacBook always stayed in my mind. 

So here I am, typing on the MacBook at my favourite McCafe. A robust Long Black and strawberry sundae for company. Chill. This moment is one I always look forward to and cherish.

Besides getting cozy with the MacBook, notebook and coffee (like the picture 😉 ), I am simply disposed to enjoy this solitude, and many hours of contemplation.

I could contemplate on shoes, for one. Shoes make or break an entire look. They say “Shoes Make the Man”, “Give a girl the Right shoes, and she can conquer the world”. I think they’re right. My favourite is the oxford for its unmatched class and adaptability.

On the subject of shoes, Carrie Bradshaw was an undisputed authority. A huge fan of shoe couturiers: Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin; she could, not just write about shoes but be seen striding through New York City on almost any shade and variation of them.  

I recall this wildly popular series with relish and a little nostalgia. Broadcast from 1998 till 2004, Sex and the City was iconic. Its candid and witty depiction of four best friends and their love lives in New York City, complete with glamorous scenes and extraordinarily stylish costumes (designed by Patricia Field), earned this cable show more than 50 Emmy Awards and 24 Golden Globe Awards nominations. 

Carrie Bradshaw, played by the talented Sarah Jessica Parker (SJP), became the buzz of the fashion world for many years. Her iconic looks, on top of her many quirky insights on fashion, love and life made her a fictional style icon who stood the test of time. This year marks SJP’s 50th birthday, a bevy of fashion and dating blogs have commemorated this day by sharing once more, their favourite looks and quotes from the incomparable Miss Bradshaw and company.

Besides forming opinions on fashion and ogling at gorgeous designs 😛 , I find myself simply inclined to write and bridge ideas. Writing is magical for bringing thoughts into clear perspective. I like to think of writing alike arranging a jigsaw puzzle: each piece is an idea that is linked to another; the writer works to give form and flow producing the complete picture. That is what drives my writing – I write to paint with words. 

This blog is my canvas, my sail, and little voice in the big wide world. It is through words that I’d find my way, to get to a place – where I can be as the wind: a free spirit doing what I love. And I blog simply because musing and writing are my simplest pleasures in life … just me, the pen and the notebook.

Building a tree house

Isn’t it every boy’s (and perhaps some girls’) dream to live in a tree house?

Would I not love to live in this dream house too?

Wish I had a dad, brother or boyfriend who would build me one to live in…

 

I came upon this amazing video in one of my favourite magazines, Smith Journal.

Their content is for the most part masculine; veering towards adventure, DIY, real stories of places, people and their crafts, hobbies and lives; in short, really meaty stuff. Think a strapping handsome cowboy on a black stallion, and a cool gun … whoa!! 

A book is in the works to document the building process of this tree house, quirkily named ‘The Cinder Cone’ by Foster Huntington, so many others could follow the dream.

Ah .. and when will I meet a prince who’d build me a castle in the trees?

How about you, reader? Tell me what you feel about tree houses 🙂