There is a video that is doing the rounds on Facebook at the moment. It is about the Dalai Lama, and what surprised him most about modern humanity. It's a pretty sobering video about the realities of modern life. I shall link it here so that you know what I am focusing on. https://www.facebook.com/JayShettyIW/videos/1977663155881473/
As someone who has stepped away from the now normalized way of life, of pursuing a career outside the home, while someone else cares for your preschool to school aged children, the cracks in our decision are beginning to surface, in terms of my ability to fit seamlessly slip back into the world at large. My role as a stay at home mother, is now seen as old fashioned, backwards and very non feminist. The model of the nuclear family, introduced in the 60's has prevailed. Due to our old fashioned believes about raising the family, and my taking full care of the three children, I have become very isolated over the last 12 years. Staying within the four walls of my home, be that in the UK or here in Australia, may have taken their toll on my sanity, too! The extended family ideal, is no more, and the stay at home mother is seen as an oddity, rather than a necessity. We have future plans to re-ignite the extended family construct, starting with our own!
I have allowed myself to become a victim of my fears, amidst feelings that I am no longer good enough to venture out into the world, unless I am accompanied by my spouse or my eldest child. Trapped by the anxiety, I have let one day blend into the next, not expecting to see another soul, from outside my small family circle. I have lived reliant on tales from my husbands workplace or the dramas that go hand in hand with the school lives of my daughters. Occasionally, I have had moments of courage, and ventured out to a playgroup, or signed up for a school committee, I have tried relentlessly, to beat the demons that kept me a prisoner, and will continue do my very best at any outside task that I may be given along the way, although a constant battle, and one that I have lost on many previous occasions, I will continue to put myself in situations that challenge me beyond my wildest expectations. I often find that other areas of my life become compromised, despite all my valiant efforts, I make mistakes, usually in the form of social faux pas. Some are quickly forgiven, others are not, and so only serve to compound, and to push me further into my depths of isolation. I have yet to find a kindred female Spirit, willing to accept my short comings, and drag my fearful behind back out into the sunlight. If you think you are up for the job, then drop me a line, or better still come round and force me to leave my self made dungeon.
The alternative, to my lifestyle choice, however is laid out in front of me in the above video. To go to a job that I hate, to get money for a house that is empty all day, and to live only for the two extremely shorts days at the weekend, and for less than a month of additional leave each year? That all sounds crazy, and soul destroying, too!
The more you get, the more they take from you. So you see, there really is no alternative for us; If I wasn't a stay at home mother, the house would go to waste and our children would have to be cared for by others, and we'd have to pay for the pleasure, so any monetary benefit to my working full time in a regular 8 til late, would soon be swallowed up, and gone forever! That is where the 'follow your dreams', part of this video really kicks into high gear. Creativity is something that is unique to every individual, and I am lucky enough to have stumbled upon an aspect of which, that others can relate. My portraits of all the beautiful animals! Animals reflect the true virtue of life. They hunt for food, or for fun, they lay in sun, or swim in the ocean, if it pleases them to do so. They call ecstatically, and in unison to greet their brethren, whether it be across fields, forests, or in Juno's case, fences! They never stop to contemplate their loneliness, or whether they are on the right path, the path, is that which lies in front of them, should they choose to stay on it, or go crashing through the undergrowth, that is entirely up to them! Unless, you happen to be a dog, in Australia, but that's another story!
Whilst writing, I have come to realize, my isolation from the general population is a temporary circumstance, a necessary trial, that I must pass through, on my way to insuring that I am living my life, on my terms! I am using my own creative talents to benefit others, surrounded by an environment of my own choosing, this is all I, or anyone, can really strive towards in life. The beach, the turquoise waters, and smiling sun-kissed faces, are yet to come, but I am heading in the right direction.... they may still be over the hills, but they are not that far away, considering how far I have traveled so far! My advice is, that although it may not always be easy to take back the reigns of your own life to follow your deepest creative desires, that are in all of us, and the path before you is not always a clear one, or very forgiving, but once you have reached that point in time where there is no turning back, then you know you have already achieved your goal, and your life finally belongs to you, and to you alone....
"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I? I took the one less traveled by!'
This has been a tough couple of weeks for me, going from the high of believing I had discovered the meaning of life, to losing it at the click of a mouse button, when a misplaced picture box deleted my profound discovery. And to the even greater low of losing a very dear life long friend, to a sudden heart attack, and then staying down their because of an anonymous note in my mailbox, saying my dog is a noise nuisance, when I am housebound 95% of the time due to ill health, and the fact that we've only been letting him out in the back yard, when we are out for the past 3 weekends!! I have feared this kind of negativity, so much so, that I've forgone medical treatments, or meetings with friends, all because I harbored this fear, and now it has materialized. Heartbroken, was I, at the lack of kindness and understanding in the community around me. Whatever makes them feel big and important, I guess!! I must not let them control my life so, or darken my energy, my life force....
According to me... and many others.... The deep and secret meaning of life is to love all things and show gratitude for their existence no matter how small and insignificant they seem to you, or how small and insignificant you feel you are to them! To lead a great life filled with meaning and purpose is to be a positive source of energy no matter where you go, what you do and most importantly, what you predominantly think, and feel! I may have felt very negative for the last few days, at the loss of my friend, and at the unsocial method of communication received in my mailbox. I may even have felt negative when starting this blog post, but the point is, I don't have to keep feeling that way. I can change how I feel by changing how I react to any given circumstance, and so can you. Love is Love!!
My friend Paul Alexy was a great man. He had no fears, and loved everyone he met, with open arms, and an even bigger wide open heart. It didn't matter if you where from a high rise New York Million Dollar apartment or from the Slums of India, Paul would have treated you in the exact same way. He loved PEOPLE, and LOVED to put people in uncomfortable social circumstances, so that they would be challenged, and these challenges would make them grow as a people and enable them to conquer their fears. At 16 he suggested I try flying in a Microlight hang glider thingie... I told him to go and jump in a lake! At 21 he suggested I move 10,000 miles away from home to Japan and become an English teacher, and I did! Maybe I will go fly in that Microlight or do something equally as scary, all in his honor Paul did many great things for the poor and improved the lives of many kids around the world! He worked with Mother Theresa in India, cheated death in the Boxing Day Tsunami in Thailand, and he made me into a world traveler! He funded his astonishing adventures through the education of others in the Art of The English Language, I have followed in some of his footsteps, at least. More will follow...
What Paul has taught me is to live well, and help others live well, too! I may be struggling with many of life's great unanswered questions, and battling with the demons of crippling fears, and self doubts, and self sacrificed health, as many others do, but if Paul taught me. anything, it is to have faith in others, and believe in yourself; someday, maybe I will find that light, that energy source, that I have been looking for, and will come to realize that has been within me this whole time, if I can begin to see it in myself, then pretty soon I'd be able to see it in others. I hope others can see it, too?
So, to begin with, I will give ALL of my lovely neighbors a 50% discount on my Pet Portraits, for them and their Families and Friends!!
Love Thy Neighbor - Even if they don't love me, yet!
I give a Shout out to #YarraRangesCouncil! Thank you for your tremendous support! Big Love!! XOXO
Always hit save periodically... This is a life lesson that I appear to have not yet learned as I just lost one of the most thought over and well pondered posts I'd ever written. I guess that the powers that be weren't ready for me to divulge to you the meaning of my life, and the lives of everyone else, for that matter! Too bad for them, that I have a near perfect recollection and am well versed in this subject as I have been researching this subject for over a decade! However time has caught up with me an I must provide sustenance for my family, so this dramatic breakthrough for all of humanity will have to wait until next week!
Enjoy your weekend,
In my professional capacity, I would just like to know that my artworks are the pride of place in homes around Victoria and beyond. To know that a treasured pet will always be cherished and remembered and that my portrait captures the true likeness and personality of the subjects to the point where their masters feel they are still with them. This is reward enough for what I do, although the remuneration does help me to keep putting pencil to paper.
I love to write, and at some point I hope to find a professional outlet for this other passion of mine. In this period of my life, I a quiet observer, I find many aspects of this complicated world fascinating, and would dearly love to record these observations for the future generations to come. I struggle with reading in the sense that, long scripts become jumbled, and as the pages turn, it becomes harder and harder to find the words, the whole process of untangling them is extremely exhausting, so I am afraid that my many failed attempts to conquer these mountains are currently collecting dust somewhere, hidden in a cupboard. It takes a very special book to make me commit to using the level of energy required to go from cover to cover, although when I am determined I can finish and retain a book, in a fraction of the time taken by others. My spelling or grammar may not always be correct, but when reading something I have written, you can rest assured that each sentence has been carefully pondered, and each paragraph well read and rehearsed in the context that is, my mind!
Of course, my main priority in life has to be that of sculpting my three daughters into fully functional, independent, and above all, happy, individuals, free to accomplish whatever their hearts desire is, in their lives. Today's experiment, see if they can get themselves off to school with minimal interference from me. My only role? I am keeper of the golden snack box, as the seemingly endless supply of school snacks was too much of a temptation for them, and one each was never enough, in their eyes, or rather, their stomachs! That is where my involvement ended. They may have been a little late but they made it out the door, they still squabbled all the way but they seemed to have everything in order. I eagerly await a full report at the end of their day.
Today marks a very special day in Julia's life. The kindergarten which she will be attending next year is having its open night celebration. It is a chance for her to meet some of the other children in her peer group, and marks her first tentative steps into the world of formal education. For us it is a chance to meet some of the people who will walk alongside us as we journey through the next 15 or so years of Julia's school life. Having just moved here recently, we missed out on forming these early connections for Emily and Olivia. They seem to be doing well regardless, as you can imagine, it is somewhat harder for us as adults, to walk into, and find our place in, an already established community. Without these formative bonds, I guess we will always feel as though we are on the outside, looking in. Julia is our last hope!
My plan for today, is to spruce Julia and I up and make us look 'presentable' as we embrace our joint future and embark on our journey through the various local schooling facilities she'll reside in along the way.
Upon arriving at the meeting we soon realize that the meeting was for adults, and not suitable for noisy rambunctious three year olds. The popping of a Champagne cork gave it away! I usher Tim and the girls away, pick up Julia's purple coloured folder and take my seat along side some other ladies who also happened to be clutching purple coloured folders. A couple of glasses of bubbly later, the four of us in our newly formed Purple Folder Alliance, found ourselves all signed up to form various parts of next years committee. I am The Fundraising Coordinator for 2018! 2018 sure will be exciting....
A gallery of how I created my first acrylic on canvas commission, it is also my largest portrait to date. Now taking orders for custom canvas portraits. ;-)
In July I was commissioned to do a very special portrait of a beloved seeing eye dog that had passed on at the ripe old age of 11. This was no ordinary commission, it was on canvas, in acrylic, and it was huge! 1.6 meters by 1.3 meters. I have been using pastels for a number of years now. I knew how to paint, but never had I used it for a portrait commission, and never on such a large scale.
I always use black card for my portraits and so decided it would be best to start with a black canvas, I had to prime it with black gesso and leave it to dry between the two coats, this took a couple of days. During those few days I stared at the blank canvas and wondered how I was going to make my vision come to life before me. I'd watched a few you tube videos on painting scenery and animals in acrylics. My painting style developed into a hybrid somewhere in between Bob Ross and Chuck Black!
6 weeks in and I completed my portrait. When I found myself hiding little animals in the forest, I knew it must be finished. The portrait was delivered yesterday evening, no easy feat with a portrait of that size! It received a warm reception, as did I, and I am sure he will remain in pride of place for many years to come. It was clear to me that the family recognized their dearly missed friend in my portrait, and my goal of capturing the life energy of this special being on canvas, had been achieved, so that each day he will be fondly remembered and continue to be a large part of their lives and hearts forever more.
I moved the studio back to the new house. It has space and good light and doesn't cost $2000 per month to run. Another plus, I can keep an eye on Julia and don't have to send her to childcare, plus the dog is a lot happier knowing that I am in the house. He still jumps on the doors and windows trying to get in the house but he isn't braking or pacing so much and even settles down in his bed from time to time.
This month I have completed an A5 and two A3's and have been working on my gigantic dog portrait. Today, I did the first few tentative strokes on the dog itself. Black dogs are always the hardest to get started as they can be difficult to see properly. The only way is up from here on though. Once finished and handed over I will be able to add giant canvases in acrylic to my repertoire!
Gone through quite a few pencils and paint this month too and have had two trips to The Art Shop for supplies! $$$$
of working things out... Alanis Morrisette, a true artistic genius! So, the notification to end my lease on this studio in October has been handed in. That doesn't mean the end of Pet Portraits - Animal Artist, just that I will be shifting my studio back to the home. My new house is close to the centre of Tecoma and has much better light and surroundings than the last place. Why pay money for something that hasn't really made that much difference to the number of commissions I am getting? It has been good, and has allowed me to build my confidence as a professional artist.
Maybe more in the community know of me now, or at least they will after my next ad comes out but there are other things I could be spending my rent money on... my first tax return is going to be an interesting one!! I wish I had managed to build my online presence a bit more before I took on this place, but we live and learn.
Juno is still with me, for the moment..... He is happy at my side, hopefully he can learn to walk on the lead soon or he will have to go to a hunter or some one who can handle his energy.....
We've been having issues with our 1 year old Brittany Spaniel, outside of the home, he is a live wire, to the point he is uncontrollable. A recent conversation with a new neighbor led to us seeking out the opinion of a local vet. The response was not good, he said, "You've been miss-sold, A Brittany is a working dog and absolutely no good as a family pet!" Having invested thousands of dollars, considerable time, effort and love into this dog over the last year, this is not what I wanted to hear. He suggested we re-home him to people with other working dogs and go get a different breed of dog. I cried all day yesterday as I considered my options. This is my dog, I chose him from 1 of 14 other Brittanies and countless other breeds. I wasn't about to turf him to the curb due to the opinions of one man, all be it a very matter of fact and knowledgeable man. So today I braved the not so busy streets of Tecoma and made one last trip to a pet shop.
I took back full responsibility for Juno's care from Tim, as he was more than willing to trade him in, I felt he wasn't 100% invested in turning him around. A gentle leader head collar, a muzzle and some natural calming drops were on my list. So far so good. The muzzle is for my peace of mind, as those playful and over exuberant jaws could easily find their way around the wrong person, the head collar, for the moment is giving me complete control over his movements. He may look like the cutest, fluffiest Hannibal Lecter ever, one major plus, a muzzle has a funny way of keeping those dog coochicoo-ers at bay, you know, the ones that assume all dogs want strangers pinching their cheeks and wrapping their arms around their necks. At your own peril, be it!
Time will tell. For someone suffering from CFS, Fibromyalgia and whatever else is wrong with me, these first 10,054 steps I have taken today, have not been easy for me. I needed a nap, along with Julia during our lunch break today, I am still suffering from last weeks cold, Julia too! The little green monsters have firmly set up home in Julia's little pink nose. My chest hurts from breathing, and my legs are fatigued and in pain, but I did it. I walked Juno through the town 3 times, no one got nibbled on or tangled in his lead, and he is sleeping happily on the studio floor, while Jules watches MR Maker and we wait for the girls to come here after school. Not much art happened today but I did teach myself how to put on the collar and watch a few training videos on the subject.
As I close, Juno is now stretched across my knee, Julia is watching Play School, and the girls are on their way. The tales of Juno the Firecracker will continue... hopefully.....
OK, so it is never going to get this cold here in Melbourne, but at the moment, is sure as hell feels like it. Not in a physical way, you understand, but in a Spiritual way. It's like I am freezing on the inside. The sun is shining down outside in truth it is around 12 Degrees C out there, not exactly the bitter Northern UK Winters I am used to, but something has changed. People are coming and going from the surrounding businesses, although there a few more empty shops than there were a few weeks ago, I guess I am not the only one feeling the pinch, of a town that hasn't quite found its place on the map!
As you may know, I recently moved down the hill side to be closer to the girls school and to cut out one big expense, the car, as it has become no longer necessary, now that my proximity and ease of access to the township and public transport has changed. The new house has everything we need, even room to run my studio from home, a scenario that is becoming increasingly more likely as the days draw onward. I was hit badly by a power outage that lasted 4 days last week, and being of my constitution, I could not function without heat, light, tea or internet. Its a shame that one of my big dreams is in jeopardy, I think that I maybe just reached for the moon a little too soon. As I have Julia at home and full time childcare is not an option for us currently as it is just so expensive, so are the overheads. Next time I will be ready, however, if you'd prefer not to see my dreams crash and burn then order that special portrait today! Prices range from $200 -$600 A5-A2. I've never taken more than 7 days to complete a portrait start to finish.
I always pour my heart and soul into my portraits, and these blog posts for that matter, I am not sure if anyone is reading them but they are something I feel very strongly about and if more people were honest with there feelings and experiences and others weren't so dismissive, then the world would be a much better place. When a portrait comes in I work really hard for my clients, to the point of exhaustion, I forget to eat, to drink and to even stand up, as I am determined to do the best work in as quick a time as possible. I am not complaining, that is my flow, my passion at work. The rest of the time, I am anxious, jittery, I feel like there is something else I should be doing. The only other things that come close to that are writing and being in nature.
Time for me to teach Japanese, another one of my talents..
Hi, my name is Chrystal Carter, I am a mother to three lovely girls. I emigrated with my husband to Australia in December 2014, and have been living the dream, ever since! We are settled in the Dandenong Ranges and I have recently set up my brand new home art studio , in the heart of the hills, Tecoma. Here, I can follow my life long dream of being an artist drawing another of my greatest passions, animals, in particular, peoples beloved pets. I have always been fascinated by animals, nature and wildlife and where better to pursue my passions than here in Australia, and it certainly hasn't disappointed me! Follow me as a take on this new venture and brave new world, together with my wonderful family, and not forgetting my furry companions, Vin the Cat and Juno the Dog!