Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Art of Memory

Last Sunday my neighbour cleared out his garage to tidy it up before winter closes in. And, man oh man, do they have a lot of stuff. The lawn just kept filling up but what caught my eye were the trunks.
They had those old trunks used for travel, or a bride's trousseau as she set off for a new life, or families large and small that set off from the old world for the new world. Big deep sturdy trunks with leather handles and brass clips.
I had one when I went off to boarding school for the first time at the ripe old age of nine. It wasn't considered too young, there were lots of children much younger than me sent off with trunks and good wishes back in those days. My parents were moving about mid-year and thought it best if I started school in the town we were going to rather than move half way through. We were moving from way out in the sticks to a mid-sized town a few hours away. The school year in South Africa runs January-December.
The school I went to was run by nuns in a convent and let's just say it was not a meeting of minds. I think they were as delighted as I was when my family finally moved, later in the year than planned, but at last I moved back home to be a day scholar.
A year or so later at the age of 12 I was sent to another boarding school for the remainder of my school years and they were very happy years.
I haven't given any of this time much thought for many years. But seeing those trunks on the lawn reminded me of that convent and how strange that whole experience was to a small child.
I know the old trunks hung around at home for a while but I'm not sure what happened to them. I spent a good part of the day wondering if I'd taken mine to my happy boarding school. I think I did for a year or so but they were mighty heavy and bulky to move around. The only difference from these was mine had strong leather straps around it.

Anyway, the flood of memories made me pause and paint a couple of the trunks on the lawn here in the USA. There were way more than 3 but this was enough for my journal. Now I can take it out every often to be transported to another time. It's funny how something so simple can cause an avalanche of memories ... good and bad.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Art of Life

Things happen for a reason... if you're lucky, what seems like a painful bite in the butt, actually sends you off in a better direction. Well, that's what I'm hoping just happened.
Last week I muttered about technology and my failed efforts at resizing my images for my book. Days later, when all else had failed, I phoned the source... the folks who developed the program.
Oh no,” they happily said. “You can't resize them, they will look awful...they will just look stretched. This program is developed for digital use only, not print.”
Did I think of checking any of this trivia before I started drawing? Did I hell. Which is a little irritating because I can't sulk and blame someone else.
But they were gentle and kind, and they suggested another program I should try. They said it was user-friendly and easy.
Really, they said that. Never trust a person under 30. It used to be anyone over things change.
Easy? What would they consider hard? It might seem easy to a young techie type who can design programs and manipulate computer stuff.
To this old brain, it's “What the @)(*(&^% do I do with this thingie?” and “Oh, if I click on this... shit, now what?
But, sort of hate to admit this, but I am beginning to like the new program. I still haven't the faintest idea what most of the thingies are or what they do, but I am finding it fun and challenging.
I was skyping with my sister this morning and said how easy the old program was which is why I loved it so much but I also felt I had gone a bit flat with it.
She replied, “Well, that was probably the reason you felt flat about it. It was too easy. You need a challenge.”
It must run in the family.
So, here I am... 37 illustrations for the book done and they can't be used. I face a new program and it's quirks. It will take me a bit of time to get the hang of it I suppose.
Give me a while and no doubt I will be waxing lyrical about how fun it is... the grand unexplainable circle of life.

You just have to have a sense of humour to survive the experiences. Luckily, mine seems to be over-developed.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Art of Technical Know how - HA!

A couple of weeks back I blithely said I would concentrate on my book all during August and get it out soon. What was I thinking? I am in the behind the scenes, nitty gritty part of the writing process. I have most of the illustrations and more or less what I want to say or convey pretty much done. Not 100% but pretty close.
Now it all gets technical – I could say it goes downhill from here on out. I had no idea fonts were an issue. There are certain fonts you can't use legally in e-books, or certain matching fonts for print books work better than others, or page layouts, or image resolutions and size. And that's just a fraction of the technical stuff you have to wade through.
Oh! my poor non-technical brain and non-mathematical brain aches! I stare blankly at the screen and say, “You mean I have to convert pixels to inches? I have to convert those image sizes to what?”
And then to throw another curve ball at my good self, I did all the illustrations on my IPAD. Not the traditional paper and paint or pen. Oh no, not me! I go for digital and technical. And I'm not in the least bit gifted when it comes to technical. But the IPAD sketches are so cute and perfect...charming I would say... so there! Deal with it I say to my good self. So.. the learning curve continues.
Perhaps it would be a tad simpler if I was writing a non-illustrated book. But no! I have to jump right in with illustrations and text. Why be easy on yourself?
I belong to a writers discussion group on a publishing site and I am sure I will drive the others bonkers pretty soon. Or they will think I am a lame brain of the top order.
But, then, where would the fun and the challenge be if I knew what I was doing?

As we say in South Africa...EISH! And then get on with it. C'est la vie.
Who drives a truck? © 2014 Anne Jenkins

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

the Art of Lightness

A feeling of lightness, not quite contentedness, just a lightness in the soul is a marvellous thing. A series of negative things haven stolen my normally happy path through life this past year, mentally bringing me down, way down and shaking my confidence. I am normally very confident and an incurable optimist, so it was an unusual time for me.

Catalysts aren't always a big bang dramatic event. Sometimes they are the in your face big moment and sometimes just a quiet whimper. This one was the quiet type. I just felt myself breathe deep and say, "Hell, I don't care about it any more," and the lightness came. I don't know where it will lead, nor do I worry much about it, I just know I feel comfortable again and my mind no longer lingers over the past year. I look to the future with confidence once again. I am glad and relieved. I missed my old self for a while there.

Many people have told me I should do more writing. I enjoy it and now I am combining my writing and my art down a new avenue. A children's book? Everyone who knows me falls about laughing, it is obvious my knowledge of children is pretty much zero. But as not a few people have pointed out, I haven't grown up myself so I should be fine. And I live with one of the biggest kids around. All is well, I have my test readers aged 4-12 and Lee.

As with most of the adventures in my long and eventful life, I am embarking on this one without much planning nor the faintest idea what I am doing. I am just doing it.
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These three tranquil blue candle holders adorn the coffee table in a place of great peace and refuge for me, watching them and listening to the silence of the place helped the lightness come back to my soul. Thank you Ellijay once again.