The Good Room

Of late, I have let too many things that do not matter -matter. After a good few weeks off doing things that are not Art I feel like I’ve had my time and now it’s time to get back to it.
I forget how good it is for the art and for the soul to just stop every so often. Break bad habits, shut the socials down and do life things like garden and cook and sometimes laying on the floor and having a good cry. But also, boxing! I’ve taken up boxing and I am completely in love with it.

But today I wanted to write and talk about The Good Room. Gene and I were lucky enough to buy our first home about two years ago. The house we got defo was in need of some TLC. It’s still got a long ways to go, but it has already come so far. Gene’s been woodworking and he’s so very clever while I’ve been gardening and learning the art of not killing plants, but growing them and growing them well. We are so lucky we get to share this with our almost eight year old daughter. She’s helped paint and wood work and garden and chooses things out also.
There’s a big room out the front of our place that we just used to store and dump stuff. When we moved out from Melbourne a number of years back, it was pretty sudden and up until a few months ago we still hadn’t unpacked a lot of that stuff. So we got in there a number of months ago. Pulled things out, cleaned and sorted and delivered unwanted but good things to the op shop. Luckily when we had first moved in here it was one of the few rooms that we had professionally painted, so after we cleaned up it was time to source some furniture.
It took a while to work out what kind of style we wanted to go for. After a visit to a very wonderful writer’s house in Mildura earlier this year – I knew I wanted to head towards mid century style of furniture. Gene agreed, but on the condition that we do not get those fuckin spiky clock things. ( Which I had spent the day looking at on eBay! )
After lusting after things on pinterest I simply googled ‘mid century Ballarat’ not thinking I’d have any luck but what came up was Pamo Industries. I was very, very excited when I found this. We went to their showroom and lucky for us they had chairs already restored but also a coffee table and a sideboard which had yet to be restored. It would take some time for the table and sideboard to be finished so we looked for a rug that would fit in with it all in the meantime, which we did. ( The whole house will need to have to floorboards re done at some point, but that’s a thing for the future.) When the furniture arrived it was better than Christmas – it is so beautifully restored and looks beautiful. Kidlet, Gene and I sat in there just marvelling at it and the space and laughing together. Perfect. We also sourced a couch from gumtree and have art from other artists and myself to hang on the walls.

The Good Room still has a ways to go. The plan is to find a few more lamps and side tables for it, that will take some time to hunt and find. We would also like to build a unit to store all of the books. There’s a TV port in the room but we’ll leave that, this room is for reading and crafting and tea drinking. Kidlet calls it the ‘Relaxing Room’ – it really, really is.

( L to R ) Small painting by Nadia Toukhsati, drawing by Lily Mae Martin, painting by Monique Revell, painting by Nom Kinnear-King.

Furniture by Pamo Industries.

OK, now time to get to the studio and see what I can do. See you soon.


Articulating new work has been really hard. I get the impression that people think artists come up with an idea in their head and then make it. Maybe for some artists it does work that way, but it never has for me.
It is very important to me that I see some sort of progression throughout my pieces. I understand that not every work will be a masterpiece and I know not every work will be moving forward as there can be a sort of one step forward two steps back kind of thing. As frustrating as this tends to be I can generally move through it.
At the moment, however, I am a little stuck. Perhaps this is a life thing too – there are moments where we feel like we can’t get a break, can’t get a win. I just can’t seem to crack it. I’ve begun many works that I have had to abandon, I’ve also been working for a very long time on a piece only to realize it is an epic fail and or I’ve accidently ruin it! Very disheartening.
I guess with art there’s no trajectory. I thought I was on an up for a bit – my work was moving forward and the many, many applications and prizes that I enter paid off. But this year, so far – brutal. I cannot get my work to move forward, or I am failing to see/ work out how to satisfy this within myself and the work. I feel like I’ve burnt out but hardly done anything. Or have nothing I really want to show.
At the moment I can’t see anything good in my work. It’s nowhere near where I want it to be and I have no idea what I am doing. I’ve set myself the task of spending a few hours each day, doing something practical in the studio, When the alarm goes off I leave and do other things with my time and try not to get too emotional about it all. It’s a massively emotional thing for me – so much of my identity is tied up within this. So failing over and over again – well, I feel pretty rubbish.

Experimenting and failing

I’m trying to do new things, I think it is good to try and push oneself. But it’s also good to be able to see when it’s not working out. I don’t usually allow for this. Time restraints weigh heavy on me… I don’t like having to do difficult things in my studio when life is a little difficult at times and then I end up having nothing going my way. But – I’ve been wanting to try things and it is getting to a point that I think if I don’t do it now, I never will.
So I have been painting, and I’ve been trying out different drawing styles – so far I’ve just pushed myself to keep going with them until I feel like I have explored it enough. I’ve also been reading a lot – some fiction for a book club, and a lot of history on ancient Celts. I’m also reading about climate change and thinking a lot about landscapes and our demands on it.
Incredibly fascinating stuff.
I thought I had an idea where all of this is going, but I don’t. It’s a little terrifying at times but I do boxing to balance out my frustrations and we will see where this all goes or doesn’t go.
Keeping most things offline have felt important at this time too. That was hard because notifications are like a drug ( shut up, you love it too ) and I can’t help but want to be reflective online rather than present in real life. I’m trying to correct that too. I keep thinking about 2008 – ten years ago, when I was in my final year of university and how I let that large body of work develop in my studio and no one saw it until the exhibition at the end of the year. I’m aware that this is not how things really work now and progress shots are interesting – however I need to balance this out better and I find social media is too much involved at times it shouldn’t be. For me, anyway.

I’ve not successfully completed a work for some months now – except for two small portraits of animals, which I think worked out pretty awesome – but this is OK. This is good to do, or so I keep telling myself 😛

Observing nature with Lily Mae Martin

I begin teaching next week, here are the details and at the bottom are some handy links 🙂

Observing nature with Lily Mae Martin

Wednesdays, 25 April to 13 June (eight weeks), 4pm to 5.15pm

Have a look at Lily Mae Martin’s work at — want to know how she can draw like that? Well, she’s coming along to share a few of her secrets! This is an entry-level course, introducing you to ideas of observation and breaking objects in nature down into simple shapes. Learn the basic skills for translating your observations from your mind onto the page. Ideal for students looking to further their studies in VCE.

Recommended Ages: 10 to 18 years

To book go here: FOLLOW THIS LINK

Also I might add that you should really go see the BECKLER’S BOTANICAL BOUNTY: THE FLORA OF MENINDIE – 24 Feb to 27 May, LINK

And you also must see EUGENE VON GUÉRARD: ARTIST–TRAVELLER – 24 Mar to 27 May, LINK The paintings are interesting but what makes it for me are the sketch books and small drawings, they are really, really wonderful so go see them!


Kittens, 40 degrees

Stuff You Missed in History Class released an older episode about the history of the domestication of the cat. It is really interesting so I suggest you have a listen: LINKY

Podcasts are the thing I listen to while working and one day I will make a long list of all the podcasts I love to listen to, but not yet because the washing needs to be hung, the banana bread needs to be taken out of the oven ( and eaten ) and the words need to be read.

Back soon!

Hands in the dirt

My back is very sore but my heart is pretty happy. We’ve been working very hard on the garden and it looks so different from even just six months ago. Gene is so bloody good at wood working and has built some beautiful things. We have a whole lot of late blooming sunflowers which are very joyful.

I’ve also been potting and re potting the patio and indoor plants. It’s only been a couple of years now that I have really tried to garden and I think I have gotten a lot better at it.
There are many seedlings sprouting – they are just little colourful flowers as I know Kidlet will love them. I’ve also planted a bunch of Australian native plants but they will take a little longer to establish and grow.

And this guy ^ ^ – he’s good cpmpany while we are out there, digging away. He likes to know what is going on but also likes to lay down on my seedlings O_O

It’s a wonderful thing to garden with the Kid, she’s very caring about the natural world and how things grow and come to be. It’s truly special to be growing this garden together.