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Rainy Days, Rainforests and Reflections

It's been a long while since we've seen heavy, settled-in rain around these parts. Only early last year we were experiencing the tail end of a long and brutal drought which culminated in the worst fire season Australia has ever seen. Last summer we were relieved by rains the likes of which we hadn't encountered in years, but still, they didn't match some of our more memorable subtropical summer deluges. But now, here we are in the midst of a big wet, and these hills have shifted into jungle mode! Lush green growth is everywhere, threatening to take over everything in its sight. I've spent a lot of time in the garden between rain showers making sure that things aren't getting too bonkers out there. Not that I'm complaining about the rain, oh no - I love it! It's so satisfying to see these hills looking so healthy and verdant. The creek is flowing again, rain tanks are filling up all across the suburb and the low clouds have kept the temperatures pleasant. It's an entirely beautiful thing to witness these early summer rains and the promise of life that they bring with them.

Of course, when it isn't raining we take the opportunity to go outside and get amongst it. On the weekend we drove up the mountain and visited Maiala on the tippy-top of Mount Glorious. I believe a walk in the rainforest to be medicine for the soul and once again the forest delivered on that. As an added bonus there were all kinds of fungi popping up, so we spent a good portion of our walk searching for mushrooms. These kinds of outings make me incredibly happy. The rainforest reveals the cycles of life so clearly with all its new life and ancient trees springing up from a forest floor layered with death and decay. It's a comfort for me to be amongst it all, to feel a part of it, and see my place in it. - unfiltered, raw and real. One day I will return to the forest and I hope that new life will spring from the place where my cells transmute into dust.

Back in the studio I've shaken things up by deciding that I want to paint with oils. I started a whole heap of canvasses about a year ago and abandoned them as I waited for the backgrounds to dry. Turns out that they are well and truly dry now so I've returned to them and I'm enjoying it very much! Oil painting is a much slower process than watercolours. It requires patience and a different set of skills. In the past I have always been too hard on myself when it comes to oil painting but now I find myself more open to experimentation and creating ugly art if that is what results. I think my expectations are more realistic these days and after years of being an artist I'm well aware that improvement only comes with a lot of practice. Oil painting has proven a beautiful activity for these rainy days too. Between brushstrokes I can gaze out the window at the heavy, breaking clouds and ponder my next painterly move.

So, this is where I'm at as the days guide us into December 2021 and I wonder at the uncertainty of these times. It's hard to believe that we have been living with the pandemic for almost 2 years now. Art has been my sanity through it all, as it always has been. It enriches every aspect of my life and I've felt increasingly grateful for this creative practice. I am deeply considering how to move it forward into next year and I have decided that I'll be taking more time away from social media to develop a new body of work. I want to work without distraction or influence for a while and feel my own way around my own ideas. I want to detach from the constant churn of imagery and desire for validation. But mostly, I want to go deep inside my own psyche and poke around in there for the gems hidden in its far corners. I've done a lot of internal work over the past 4 or 5 years and now I'm ready to integrate the results of that into my creative life. It's a funny thing to say, but it has taken me a long time to build up the confidence to take my work seriously. I've always felt guilty, ashamed, and frivolous for choosing this life where I tinker about and make things. But today I value what I do and for the first time I feel unapologetic about it. Maybe it's just maturity, who knows, but it does take a certain level of self-compassion to witness all the ways in which we mess ourselves about, self-sabotage and fall victim to oppressive self-doubt. No more. We're done with that here.

So, with that said, I've painted a dreamy, floating whale to ignite your wonder spark!

Much splashy love!

Michelle. ☮️

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