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..
Ladies know your worth, men, learn to appreciate it! As someone who has given up more than a decade of my life to stay at home and care for my three daughters, I am starting to realize just what a sacrifice that has been; in terms of money, social standing, career and what an impact that will have on my future and the future of our family. In terms of money, my being at home has saved our family a total of at least $305,000 calculating 12 hours per working day, had I be living here in Australia. I would probably double that amount if basing that on the UK! So, had I been working, say as a freelance language teacher or Artist would I have earned that much, to even begin to recover those costs? Probably not! Average costs for a childcare facility here are $109 for 12 hours. I've had my lot for 24 hours, 7 Days a Week, 365 days a year for 12 years, if I only calculate for the first 4 years of each child's life, I am at just under 1 Million Dollars, and that is not counting expenses for meals, day trips, clothes, toys etc. Not to mention the toll on my own health and sanity! I came across a Facebook Video talking about the term Housewife verses Researcher in Human Development. I would have to bracket myself with the latter title too as it sounds a lot more accurate than Housewife or SAHM! The point of this Blog Post is that I and countless other people who stayed at home are worth more than 1 Million Dollars to society, and yet we made to feel worthless, by the people behind the desks, by the Government, even in the eyes of our children and spouses, who fail to see the value in what we have done for them.
Now that I have started trying to work for myself outside the home, I have observed that it is mostly women, who are drawn into my studio, I see this same sacrifice reflected in their eyes, time and time again, some of them don't demonstrate worthiness or belief in themselves, and for whatever reason, the final decision to purchase my art, does not usually rest with them, it rests in the hands of their partners, predominately male! As my field is very specific to animal art, and focused on the connection between the human and the animal subject, more often than not, their human, i.e. who the animal, usually resides or resided with, is a woman, this profound connection between a woman and her animal, is something that a third party could never truly understand. Most women have gone through periods where they have been isolated from society, e.g. due to having a young family, or even lack of a family, and that animal companion has been an essential lifeline to them, as my animals have been to me. So, I can deeply understand their requests for me to capture or preserve that connection through my art. What I can't understand is why the beloved men folk in our society are putting their proverbial feet down when it comes to booking and paying for my services? By saying no, particularly if the animal is lost, you are effectively damning her to never see that spark of life in her animals eyes again and severing all connection she ever had with that creature, she will feel like a large part of her has been cut away from her very soul, and there is nothing that you can do to ever put it back. My art, although it can never bring back her dear friend, keeps that connection alive, it gives her somewhere to go when she feels the loneliness creep in, she can look at that portrait and remember them fondly, when they were at their prime, before death took them away from her, my art is a place where the happy memories can be relived, and the sad ones released from deep inside her, so next time you are asked to hand over a few hundred dollars for a pet portrait, remember your life partner is worth more than a million dollars, not just to you, but to society as a whole, and her sacrifices are only made bearable by the connections she's formed to the living things around her, and more often than not, these living things have four legs and a tail....
A shrew is a little mouse like creature with a fast heartbeat and even quicker feet. I can relate to it, as I get nervous when someone walks in to my studio, or when the phone rings and the mere thought of talking about myself to another person in any way sends me scurrying for the bedclothes. Still, here I am about to give a phone interview and have photos taken for yet another magazine editorial. I have done a few in my time for various reasons. This one is in aid of my art venture, the last was about my book trilogy that I have still to complete! Life has a funny way, of getting in the way of my dreams and for too long I have been putting these dreams off. I decided to stop letting life get in the way of this pARTicular one, and so set up my studio. If you know anyone who wants some animal art done, please let me know, also if you know anyone who wants to pay me in advance for my comic novel trilogy about a young British girl trying to find her feet way out in Japan, then please let me know, too! Any characters that resemble anyone in real life a purely coincidental and not to be taken seriously. ;-P
I may have been a little premature perhaps, when setting up my studio, as Julia is not yet in full time education, but if you never let go of that branch you'll never make it to the next tree, and you will never, ever find your way out of that damn forest!
Yes, I know its not a shrew but its the closest thing I have drawn to one and so will have to do!
Every new venture goes through a learning curve. My studio is no different. As I am finding out, it is not easy starting from scratch in a new area. Most of my clients are still finding me online, even though I have a high street shop front. Not having proper road signing is no doubt complicating things when trying to attract local foot traffic, the joys of dealing with a body corporate I guess...
We are moving house to be even closer into the village in a couple of weeks, and I am sure that having a physical presence near the village centre will make a huge difference for both my personal and professional life, and the lives of my kids. The new neighborhood is more child friendly, a court, and a lot more friendly on the legs, lungs and heart than the other place, plus we don't need to scale a mountain to hang out the washing anymore and we won't be dependent on someone with a ride on lawn mower to cut the grass either!
The new property comes with a bar, which we'll need to stock, and an outside spa, sadly not working at present, but you never know! In the next month or two I will need to decide if continuing to have a separate shopfront studio is a viable option. I hope so, but if not, we live and learn!
More and more we are being told to slow down, to mediate, to focus on the present moment. Even my website platform is sending me emails about being Mindful in business. As someone who has always known the benefits of relaxing and calming the mind, this is not new to me, but is it suddenly new to everyone else? Is the world catching up? I have my mediation music playing on the PC, I am surrounded by brightly coloured throws and tapestries, my incense and candles are burning, even my artwork is transforming from being that of a straight laced copy artist to adding bright colours and I am now open adding fantastical interpretations of the natural world around me.
Mindfulness this the art of experiencing life truly in the present moment, being total focused on the task, person of thing that is in front of you, without being distracted by thoughts, images or memories that take your mind elsewhere. In this instant I am mindful, focusing on the words as they flow from my mind, to my fingers, then on to this virtual page in front to me. I see only this screen and hear only the words I wish to see appear on the screen in my mind. My studio is not the thriving hub of activity, that I'd imagined it to be, but rather a tranquil pool where the occasional wandering soul comes by to bathe their feet in to the refreshing waters of my Zen Like Palace.
Although, physically it doesn't look much like a palace, I can feel its energy changing, I will have my running water, fish, hanging plants, twinkling lights, and floor to ceiling artwork on the walls....
This week has been a busy one, I had a birthday, our Demi Pair arrived, Julia went to long daycare for the first time, I had a doctors appointment and I completed an A2 portrait in 5 days!
Having our Demi Pair has meant that all those small housework jobs that never got done, are finally being done as she is taking care of the main ones, and the kids are no longer under my feet when I am preparing meals etc. It'll take a little while to get used to someone else in the house but so far it has been good, and tonight my husband and I finally get to have our first proper date night in over two years!
The doctors appointment was good too, as I think I have finally found a Doctor that actually cares about me as a person! I am more than just a number to her and she has really put some thought into treating my injury that has plagued me for over a decade. I have been given new stretches to do and have a referral to a Sports Medicine Clinic. Fingers crossed! All I can say, is thank goodness I am left handed, because if this was my dominant arm that felt this way, I'd never be able to put pencil to paper. So, I am diligently doing my stretches daily and massaging my shoulder muscles whenever I get a chance while I wait for my appointment, next month.
My art style too has been stretched; this week as I was requested to do a portrait in crazy colours of my choosing. It took me a while to settle on which colours to use, but I came up with turquoise, purple and pink! My favourite Bohemian colours! I am really please with how the portrait turned out and the clinic sent me a glowing review. Lets hope the recipients feel the same way! I can now do pop art, should you require a portrait that is a little funkier than normal, then I am open to anything. Challenge Accepted!!
Long day care was a welcome change for both Julia and I. I finished my portrait ahead of schedule and she spent the whole day playing and making a mess that someone else had to clean up! She was so tired she could barely stay awake when she got home, and was a little clingy to me the next day, but I think she'll soon settle in, and this give me the break I need to concentrate on growing the business and also gives me a day when I can book in clients and know that I won't be distracted by my very demanding child.
Getting older.... how to put that on a positive spin,,,, At least there is hope for me now, through the CFS Recovery program I can see myself in a future where I am better and able to do all the things I have dreamed about. Before, I saw only more pain, and more exhaustion as the years went on. I have hope again, where I thought it was lost. Baby steps, if we can fix my shoulder, I should get more sleep, then more energy will naturally follow and where there is more energy, there is always room for a little more improvement... a little at a time, not to much, not too little....slow and steady, just like everything in life...
So, the moral of today's story is to - Keep Stretching! Whether it be your body or your skill set, never put yourself into a box that is too small, never stop reaching for that top shelf, no matter how high it is, or how far our of your comfort zone it is, you might just surprise yourself by what you can achieve if you never stop striving for what you want in this life.
There is more to life than chasing the illusion that money will bring you happiness and freedom, it doesn't! Happiness and Freedom come from within, having wealth is an outward reflection of your inner state of being. My inner being needs a lot of elbow grease in order to shine.
So yesterday evening, my IT Super Genius DH decided it was time for me to upgrade from Google Ads Express to Google Adwords, So for the Artist and Day Dreamer that I am, I have spent the day trying to wrap my head around the complicated foreign language that is Google Adwords. My little two line Ads have disappeared from the top page of Google and the only way to get them to appear back there again was to bid 65 Cents per click! That was the cheapest and I could only allocate one search term! If I managed to hang on there at all I can see that my budget will be burned through very quickly indeed. Surely, there is a better way?! Answers on a postcard!!
This is a black cockatoo. They are pretty common around my home, but are a little more illusive than their white counterparts, the Sulfur Crested Cockatoos. As you can see, they are not really black, but iridescent, like oil in a puddle. They sound a lot different too. They have a shrill cry, more song like than the terrifying pterodactyl squawk produced by the Sulfurs. I took the photograph I worked from for this portrait at Melbourne Zoo as I have not been fortunate enough to capture one of our local inhabitants up close, as yet! They travel in small groups, and you usually see them flying over head in formation. I have been hearing them in the garden, early in the morning the last few days, but with an acre of land, containing hundreds of trees, it is hard to pinpoint their exact location, but it is nice to hear a few new voices from time to time.
Last year at Melbourne Zoo, I had the great pleasure of watching this little one frolic and play, while his mother looked on, ever watchful and protective of her little one, as any mother would be. Her eyes were wise and full on knowing. She understood her surroundings, and her predicament. Please do all you can to protect the Orang-Utans natural environment or her story will have been for nothing, and her future generations will never again know what it is like to be born free.
Food manufacturers are still allowed to hide palm oil on their labels.
Without clear labels you dont know if you're contributing to the deaths of over 1,000 orangutans a year as their habitat, and that of Sumatran Elephants and Tigers is destroyed through unsustainable palm oil production.
In late November 2016 the decision to provide consumers with clear labelling of palm oil was delayed by the Australian and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation.
This is a disappointing result for the 84% of Australians and 92% of New Zealand consumers who support palm oil labelling and fails to give consumers the right to know what is in their food.
Leadership is possible. The Victorian Government has announced they support mandatory labelling of palm oil.
Tell the other Ministers that you want transparent labelling.
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!