Falling off her perch

Did you wonder if Winter Owls had fallen off her perch?

Well, she did for a while, she moved from a pretty 1920’s weatherboard in the suburbs , to an apartment in an Art Deco converted silk spinning mill, in the inner city, just above the Yarra River. Her family, naughty dog and goldfish came with her.

She had to cull lots of treasure (a.k.a clutter) and was still faced with this when she moved in:

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90 boxes to unpack. Eeekk!

She has had lots of fun decorating with things like this:

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Sky planters swing from the heating pipe three metres up. Quite a challenging exercise to get them up there…

Most of all though, she has fallen in love with this, just a minutes walk away:

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The Yarra River, flowing through Melbourne’s heart.

See you all very soon,

Jen x

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Cupcakes and Tattoos

Last year, I lost my job of ten years at a university, our course was cut. I taught young adults with mild intellectual disabilities and I wanted to continue, but felt disenchanted about working for another large education institution. In March this year, with a friend, I was fortunate to be able to set up a group one day a week at a Neighbourhood Community House.

We teach our young adults literacy, numeracy and art and craft. I  love  working there, but just didn’t have enough work. Exciting news for me though. I am going to be running an art and craft class for a group of adults with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities as well as an art class for a group of teenage boys who have become disengaged from education for various reasons. I’ve had the boys for one class so far and we did Zentangle style drawings of our arm and hand which captured their imagination as most are fascinated with tattoos. Some of their drawings were amazing and I think there are definitely a few budding tattoo artists there. I don’t know a lot about tattoos; I think I’m going to learn a lot more from this group. They will be a challenge to keep motivated, so if you have any wonderful ideas, please let me know! If you want to know more about Zentangle drawing then visit here: www.zentangle.com

You might wonder why I have photographs of cupcakes, I think I will not do cupcake decorating with the boys(they wouldn’t even use the pink Sharpie pen on their drawings). The cupcakes were decorated by my group of young adults. I gave them piping bags with coloured frosting and some decorations and then left them to it. At the end of the class, some were busy photographing their cakes for their Facebook pages. The highlight for me, was looking at their proud faces.

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cupcakes1 cupcake 3

Blanket Bunny Rabbits

When I was a little girl I slept with my old baby sleeping bag. I had loved it to pieces, so soft and comforting, a little rabbit stitched on it, I called it Baggy. I still have Baggy but do not fear dear reader, I do not still sleep with it! I could never bear to discard Baggy after a sleep over at my grandparents around the age of five. My grandmother was rather aghast that I still slept with such a ragged old thing and so, she sent Baggy to the rubbish bin. I rescued Baggy and hid it inside my pyjamas until I went home. This is the inspiration behind my Blanket Bunny Rabbits. They are made from vintage pure wool Australian Blankets and have their own little blanket firmly attached to their paw. Nobody is taking away their blankets!

Blanket Bunny Rabbits have joined the owls in Winter Owls shop.

Blanket Bunny Rabbits have joined the owls in Winter Owls shop.

Blanket Bunny

Tipping the scales

Look what I found in a charity shop on Monday. These beautiful vintage blue kitchen scales. They were a little grubby, but hot soapy water soon remedied that. I like the nice big bowl on the top and the fact that they can weigh up to 5 Kilograms. In them you can see my stepmother and father’s lovely organic apricots they grew. They don’t have a large garden but manage to cram in an amazing amount of edible crops. In the front garden is an apricot tree, crab apple, strawberries, rhubarb and herbs. In a little courtyard are tomatoes and lemons. You walk under an arch of passion fruit, past a natal plum, snow peas and beans, to the narrow backyard where there is green tea, another lemon, a kaffir lime as well as assorted vegetables of the season. No nasty chemicals are used. Luckily they sometimes produce too much and we get to reap the benefits! I was going to make my grandmother’s delicious fresh apricot cake to share with you but it is too hot to bake today as it is still 39.5 C at 8.15 pm. Hopefully tomorrow will be cooler.

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Vintage scales

scales and apricots

Home grown organic apricots

A parliament of owls

I love collective nouns for animals such as a parliament of owls or a clutter of cats. Other favourites include a murder of crows, a mob of kangaroos, a mask of raccoons, a pandemonium of parrots and a prickle of hedgehogs.

Wondering who first came up with the term a parliament of owls, a bit of online research revealed a few different theories. One of the theories that I found interesting was that C.S Lewis made a pun from Chaucer’s The Parliament of Fowls when he called a chapter in The Silver Chair, A Parliament of Owls. There is an interesting forum on this topic at Into the Wardrobe – a C.S Lewis web site.

Below is my Parliament of Owls. They were painted mainly in 2012 and then I made prints which I sell at markets and in my Etsy store. My husband thought they would look nice as a collection on the wall behind our dining table. I think they look a little like a quilt all placed together. Perhaps a Patchwork of Owls?

A Patchwork of Owls

The longest conversation

“The longest conversation”

Detail of “And as handsome as I am”

til one day etsy quality reduced

“Till one day”

The end of the summer reduced for etsy

“The end of the summer”

She gazed once more etsy leaf

Detail of “She gazed once more”

Rose and lit her candle001 quality reduced for etsy

“She rose and lit her candle”

love offering print ready watermarked copy

“Love offering”

bookworm in frame watermarked

A bookworm framed

The Owl and the Pussy-cat

The Owl and the Pussy-cat

By Edward Lear 1871

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
‘O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!’

Pussy said to the Owl, ‘You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?’
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose,
His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

‘Dear pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?’ Said the Piggy, ‘I will.’
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

“The Owl and the Pussy-cat” is one of my favourite childhood poems. I love the sense of nonsense and rhyming lines; who would have thought of eating mince with quince, with a runcible spoon. I have never actually seen a runcible spoon. Have any of you?

The painting below, “Owl and the Pussy-cat” is  in my Etsy store, available as a print. I really love the way this painting has turned out. It was painted on a vintage fairy tale book page. It’s so vibrant and whimsical. I’m thinking of doing a series of “Owl and Pussy-cat” paintings. Perhaps one of their wedding, or travelling at night or meeting the Piggy-wig.

Owl and the Pussy-cat

Two afloat in a boat

Detail

Hello

My grade 2 teacher wrote that I tended to day dream. Well nothing much has changed there.

Following a serious illness in 2009, I began to paint my day dreams and now all I want to do is paint and make, I think perhaps, I am obsessed………..

Painting was inspired by a pair of owls. They were a welcome distraction from feeling ill and sad. An owl and its mate sat for days in our old apple tree. The three of us studied each other intently, enjoying the winter sunshine. Owls have become a symbol of life and hope for me.

I would also like to share things that inspire me, make me laugh and just make me feel grateful for being here.

Jen