***PaintingwithThreads - Thank you

The news about my little class was released 10 days ago today. And I just wanted to pop over to say THANK YOU if you have signed up already.

I have been so touched by the love and well wishes - thank you.

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I will be running a promotion on facebook in the next few days for 2 free spaces. Please watch this space. If you are still interested in signing up please follow the button below.

Thank you again and so much love.

Painting of a different kind....

I have been painting the interior of our home walls the past week or so. This is not an easy house to paint because of all the quirky zones and the high ceilings. I’ve been waking up early and doing a few hours before life starts and stealing moments here and there to do specific spaces to help break up this mighty task.

At the beginning of 2018 we started painting a few walls inside… A wall in the dining room and two bedrooms. We thought we would carry on but life happened and fast forward a year and half and we are finally at it again. I am not sure how so much time has passed. The old painted walls have really been getting me down and it’s been on my to do list for ages. I finally couldn’t take another day of it and I’m happy to say painting is underway. I have a small section to finish in our bedroom and the back zone of the house needs to be finished. Kitty will paint her room when she’s finished with her exams and Corks painted her room these holidays.

I managed to do our entrance hall where my beautiful framed 365TinyCaptures lives.

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The darker walls in this zone works beautifully and I’m so happy.

I love ticking off projects on my to do list and this one feels particularly good because its such a big project and it’s so visually pleasing. Happy hearts this side of the world.

It really is in the small things and in the details.

Inspiration…

I have been studying some artists that have been deeply inspiring to me so I thought I would share some of them with you…. as you know I am a huge fan of color and this past year I’ve been so inspired by nature and have been including both these elements in my work. These beautiful works keep appearing in my Pinterest and each one is more inspiring to me than the next.

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Brooke Wandall and on Instagram

Brooke’s floral work is breathtaking to me. Loose, free and her colors are exquisite.

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Anne-Sophie Tschiegg and her Instagram

I LOVE Anne-Sophie’s work and her portraits are brilliant too.

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Cathy Cullis and on Instagram

All I can say is I am a huge huge fan. I love every single thing Cathy puts out and one day it’s my dream to own one of her works. Her latest window and book scenes are my favorite. Her colors are so pleasing.

In fact, I think all the artists I’ve shared here’s use of color is so utterly appealing to me and probably one of the main reasons I’ve been so drawn to their works.

I would love to hear your thoughts about them and what’s inspiring you at the moment.

Much love, Jeanne-Marie

When in Florence….

When we knew Kitty was heading to Florence, we asked her to pop into Zecchi’s Artshop.

In 2012 when we finally found it in Florence, I bought some special watercolors there and some treats for the girls. It was one of those special encounters in my life. Art supplies to the ceiling and the beautiful smell sensations. I had regretted not getting a little Zecchi’s fabric bag. So when I knew Corks was going to be in Florence in 2014, I encouraged her to find the cutest little artshop in the world and to bring me home my fabric bag :-). She struggled to find “my” little shop and told me that when she did eventually find it that it was closed. When she got home, she surprised me with her picture standing outside Zecchi’s and my fabric bag. Two years apart and we had both stood in the same place, that moved me deeply.

We asked Kitty if she would consider doing the same gesture… to carry on traditions and all but she said she couldn’t promise us that. I didn’t put her under pressure.

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While she was away she said she had my gift for me and asked if I wanted to know what it was. I said if she felt she wanted to share it with me early, that I would be open to listening. Then in the next minute, her image came through of her standing outside Zecchi. Corks and I erupted and fell in an absolute heap, once again so deeply moved and a little tearful.

Kitty was studying her map to find it when her Principal asked her where she was going, so she told him the story how I had been there, so had Corks and that she had to find her way there. He told her to lead the way and they would all go with her. She ended up leading the whole art group to Zecchi’s to get her picture for me and then all agreed to have their picture taken for me.

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I was totally in tears.

The best part for me was how deeply moved Caitlyn was about finding the spot where we had both stood before and capturing her moment. It hit her square in the chest. How unexpectedly connected she felt to us and that place and how important it became to her too. Each of our journeys so unique to each of us but so equally touching and so important. I know being in Italy really affect her deeply. I had a feeling it would, as it did Corks. She carried me with her every step and I was with her in heart. I love that about us, all of us.

What I didn’t know in 2012, when I took my first trip to Italy when I fell head over heels in love with her, that firstly, I would be back. Somewhere inside of me I knew I wanted to take my peeps there one day. I went back again in 2014 when I included Florence and Venice to my travels and in 2017, I took Digby back with me and we toured new areas together. I couldn’t personally take my girls but they have now each had their own turn to discover beautiful Italy with their art school studies.

My heart is so blown away by this. What started out as a small dream of mine to take my whole family one day, has now actually come true. None of us can say these words… “I’ve never been to Venice”. That has been a long time family joke of ours from when the girls were small and it has tickled us all pink.

I head back to beautiful Italy in less than 2 months and I will find myself standing outside “our” precious Zecchi Artshop for my 2nd photo… standing where both my two girls have now stood too and I simply can’t wait.

#InMyStudio...

While Kitty was away we escaped to the coast for a week. The rest of us are all on leave. While I was there I filmed my lesson for Ivy’s beautiful Studioworks and did some painting and stitching for myself. I can’t remember when last I got to work creatively uninterrupted by life and all the demands on me and it was so good for my heart and soul. No words can express I grateful I was for this time of quiet. I set up a temporary studio in our room and got to leave everything out for that week. In between creative time and rest, we walked a lot and read and really rested.

The past while I have been mindful about wasting my leftover paints and when I’ve finished a block painting session. I’ve been keeping blank canvases close at hand and I use the leftover paint on that before I clean up. This is where this special girl came from. Originally she was painted solely from my leftovers and I was blown away about how profound that was to me. There was a kind of detachment in creating her this way. Which created this ease and how she just seemed to flow right out of my brush.

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I have subsequently tweaked some final touches with normal paint. But she’s really special to me and I really loved creating her this way. I keep thinking if I had just washed those paints away, maybe she wouldn't be here.

I know it’s not quite like that but it’s a sweet thought.

***A New Class - Painting with Threads....

At last… I have a little tutorial style class to share.

Thank you for being patient with me and waiting for me to feel ready to share again. And I’m feeling like I’m ready to share this new addition to my body of works and it feels very close to my heart. I know people have been asking me to share my process and my threading stories… so here is more information.

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I can’t wait to share more about this amazing little one in my class. I know it’s going to be a small and intimate class and I’m strategically not making it too overwhelming. It will be a simple and sweet class of creating emotive tiny portrait painting with our needles and thread this time as opposed to our paint brushes.

Can’t wait to share more as I create my classroom.

Much love, always Jeanne-Marie

#InMyStitchingBox...

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I kept thinking this piece was finished and then I would see more to be done. I wanted to test stitching to the edge of the fabric, not bound by the ring or frame. I loved this so much. She really does feel more resolved now. The edges are sealed and she’s completely stand alone, ready to be framed or to be sewn onto something or anything really.

I am so glad that worked out and now I look forward to testing more ideas. Yay.

Kitty went on an adventure...

My beautiful KitKat took a journey during these winter holidays to tour Europe with her school to study Art and Art History. It was the first time she has ever been away from all of us and certainly the furtherest she’s ever gone without at least one of us. Boy, I was nervous. I knew for both of us this was going to be a huge milestone.

I am happy to report we both did beautifully. Europe is so jacked with wifi everywhere so we were able to check in most days/night, which really helped. It was an epic adventure and one I know has changed her deeply. She’s an incredible soulful being and being in these parts deeply moved every essence of who she is. I’m so proud of her courage, being an introvert - I know traveling with around 100 other students and being at it from early to late, back to back days, was by no means easy for her. She managed to get a few slower days in Italy and got lost in Venice and the beautiful ambling helped restore her energy to get her home.

But 18 days in, home was required. She got home and really slept. She refused to leave home for 4 days. I’m happy to report she’s unpacked, washing done and life is restoring to normal… well almost. As for me… I am so grateful for everything she had and experienced, the good with the challenging.

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It was emotional, deep, sad, hard, powerful and utterly life changing time for our girl. It settled so much for her around her future and university and above all things, we missed her like crazy.

Courteney took this journey 3 years ago with her school and we knew for 3 years that Kitty would too so it was something she worked towards and we are so humbled by her school and all they did for our kids. Holding 100 kids safely was no easy feat. And thank you Granny and Pops for generously spoiling your girl too. You will never know how your generosity impacted her life and ours. Eternally grateful to all who made this incredible journey possible for her.

For now we keep unpacking the incredible stories and moments she had.

#InMyStitchingBox... getting my DIY on

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Last week I spent a good few days searching Cape Town high and low for a threading hoop stand. I have seen them all over Etsy, eBay and Amazon and although I could order this way, I just didn’t feel like waiting months for one to arrive, especially with the amount I’ve been stitching. I have to say I am amazed at how hard it is sometimes to find supplies still. After 3 days I managed to find something remotely resembling something I was after at a backend shop in the middle of nowhere. I got it home and took it apart and rebuilt it to my own specs. I few cuts and hurts later I now have my own stand.

I’m feeling pretty stoked with myself.

Studioworks - Guest appearance...

I was so thrilled when Ivy invited me to be part of July’s Studioworks and I absolutely loved putting together a little lesson using symbolism of plants and nature to represent creative growth. Everything Ivy Newport is doing each month in Studioworks, is such deep and emotional material and work. I’m so thrilled to be part of this incredible journey with her. Thank you my sweet friend for including me in those months edition.

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I hope you will join there.

Home away from home...

When we settled it in our hearts that we wouldn’t be able to afford buying a property in Cape Town… we started toying with the idea of buying out of town.  By out of town, I mean way out of town.

In our married life we have owned two little houses, our first marital home we got just before Kitty was born and Corks was toddling.  We sold up a few years later and moved to a slightly bigger family home as the girls were getting bigger and we had two additional puppies to consider.  We eventually sold this home to move to the other side of Cape Town to be close to the schools we had chosen for the girls.  We thought we would buy again once we settled down into high school and new schools.

But as each month slipped into one another and those months slid into years, we found ourselves clearly out of the property market.  It was very sore for us to find ourselves in this place.  While out of town with friends for a long weekend, a seed was planted about buying out of town and out of curiosity we started looking at properties.  We started looking and dreaming outside the box and we returned to an area up the Garden Route, close to a place we always vacationed through the girls childhood.  We found something quickly in a one ‘traffic-light’ town with one food supply store.  If you blinked you could totally miss that you just rode through an inhabited town.

It’s a little old spot that no one wanted because the kitchen was 1970’s and very outdated and it was a deterrent to most but we could see past the cosmetics. The beautiful wooden flooring and the natural lighting was exquisite. It’s old and definitely needs some love but I’m all about the love! It was an easy decision and one we could finally afford being so far outside Cape Town. It was love and first sight!  

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We have been going backwards and forwards the past while, visiting and getting to know this “new to us” little town. We have partially furnished it with thrift pieces and slowly slowly it’s becoming our little home away from home. We had to strip the kitchen and Digz refurbished the old cupboards with chalk paint, the ones we could rescue. The rotten ones we turfed out and we have added some freestanding pieces and it’s quirky but beautiful.  We broke down one wall and the whole house is centered around the kitchen which is very much the heart of every home. There is much to do but the rest will be a #wip and we have time.  With us heading into the empty-nesters stage of our lives, it’s been a beautiful distraction and a perfect project for us to help us focus on other things. There is so much to do but we are so excited to tackle small things projects at a time.

As for the area, the weather has been pure perfection, each visit. The beaches so breathtakingly pristine and the water so warm, it feels like we have stumbled upon a secret town. The best part is that is so blissfully quiet.  A quiet that we long for and but seldom get in the city.

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In our years together we haven’t always made the right decisions and we have made some wrong choices, forks in the road and some of those decisions have been far reaching. But we have made some really good ones too and I have to say this one has felt like one of those really good ones where the goodness seeps into your bones with a knowing that we did something really good here... for each other and for our little family!

And for that I’m so deeply grateful!

#InMyStudio - warming up exercises...

When I don’t paint everyday, I always feel anxious about picking up my brushes.  I know it’s silly but it’s just a little quirky thing for me.  Usually when I feel like this I move around in circles skirting my work space or rather the inevitable... to just get on with it.  I’ll tidy up, tinker around and finally I will pick up an old piece or a canvas I’ve been struggling with.  It does feel less intimidating than a blank canvas when I do that and of course, I already have a starting point.   The other day when I went away for a few days to paint, I was struggling with this canvas and I abandoned it for a week or two and it became my under painting to this piece.  I love painting like this and working alla prima.  It reminds me all over again, why I love paint so much.  Thank you sweet little 6”x6” for bringing me joy tonight and warming me up ready for creativity and filming tomorrow.

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For the love of dots...

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I so loved working on this piece and I took my time with all those therapeutic dots... this piece was inspired by our beautiful Guineafowl that are endemic to Africa. They roam freely on my parents farm and most places actually and have always been very much part of my childhood. I love their perfectly spotted feathers and beautiful colors.

At one stage on this piece, I froze and was overwhelmed to finish but I’m so pleased I pushed through.  I love the circle elements that I can see that help take my eye around this piece and I am pleased that I kept their faces neutral with everything else that’s going on.  On the whole, this piece really filled my love tank.  I’m so grateful for this studio time.

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A little Stitch in Time...

I worked out this week that I haven’t done any filming for 8 months. I literally couldn’t bring myself to do anymore. Now looking back, I think I might have over done some things. My camera is set up above my table and over my creative space and I had worked out literal parameters to work within. For a while I felt so hemmed in and bound by my “shooting square” and I was feeling like I needed to break out of that tiny zone. Even if it was self imposed and self inflicted.

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Surprisingly the break did me good. Changing my studio and the way I work and stand has been ergonomically good for my body but also my soul. Setting up my new studio space with my camera rig, this week past has felt refreshing and filming my mini lesson for PYHAS was a pure delight. I’m so grateful for the break and I’m feeling so inspired to turn my little camera back on, even if it’s just slowly and in small “byte” sizes. I want to be careful not to overdo it.

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If you haven’t already, it is still not too late to sign up for PYHAS, see my button below and if you are already signed up, I hope you love my mini lesson. I had so much joy putting this together for you.

Thank you Olga Furman and PYHAS for having me on your platform this year.

What a crazy month...

What a crazy few weeks….

Digby has been so hectic at work with his financial year end and more, I had tax filing season and tax certificate filing season for all my clients. Corks had her 1st semester exhibition and exams, which has been her toughest semester yet. It was all conceptual and a tough subject. Kitty had her first set of exams for the year, at the same time registering for University and meeting with our dear friend Ingi to help design her degree choices. Ingi is a curriculum advisor and she helped Kitty understand her options and possibilities for next year. She also went with a friend to his matric dance which is like final year prom - she looked exquisite. When we are all operating at full throttle… I can feel we are all feeling the crunch collectively. I’m happy to say as of today we are all on leave. I’m pretty much off until the end of June. I’ll be doing some odd days work in between but mostly I’ll be flying low. Kitty is leaving for Art Tour and Corks will be hanging with us for the next few weeks which is always a treat of treats.

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As we slowly start exhaling from the whirlwind of almost 6 months of this year, we are starting to reap some of the rewards of hard work. It makes the hard days a little more worth it.

I am aware that with social media and even with #365TinyCaptures that the visual story being told with perfectly selected pictures that are atheistically pleasing that it could come across that we are living this perfect existence, right? But we know the truth is that life is messy. I’m noticing that there is this delicate balance of good with the bad, hard with the easy, crazy with the sane and of course so much joy mingled in with sadness too. Always. This is our life… our crazy crazy imperfect, unpredictable and at times unmanageable life. The gift of #365TinyCaptures is that it gives me but a moment to cling to in each day that feels like goodness, mini reminders that I can find moments of beautiful in what can sometimes feel like a harsh place at times. And for that I’m so grateful and collectively the images are just so pretty.

Thank you to those who have been following my daily gratitude for the 2nd year running, it truly means the world to me.

Creative Play...

A little video of me creating in my handmade journal.

I’ve been loving putting this little journal together.

I thoroughly enjoy collaging pages and working over two pages too. They aren’t big but just a very comfortable size. I haven’t filmed myself doing anything for ages. I haven’t been ready to put my rig up or set up my camera so I kind of just balanced my camera on top of something on my desk and I managed to capture some random creative play. Some days I don’t get huge amount of time to create, but it was more than enough to fill my creative love tank for that day.

Beautiful Orvieto, Italy...

We have around 14 weeks to go before we arrive in Italy for our sweet little class in Orvieto and as life would have it.

2 SPACES have become AVAILABLE….

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because planning a class two years in advance means that sometimes life gets in the way and some things you can’t for-see.

Our class filled up so quickly so it didn’t leave space for people to dwell on the notion of coming because it is such a big beautiful decision and worth taking the time to think about taking a sacred pilgrimage for your art. I am so excited to be returning this year alongside Ivy and with Michelle and Adventures in Italy and of course with old friends and new.

What I do know…. About Italy and my beloved Orvieto.

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I can unequivocally say - I fell head over heels in love with Orvieto in 2012 and it’s been a love that’s renewed each visit thereafter. This old world seeps under your skin and into your bones and it lingers there, always inside of you. I think perhaps me and Italy will never be done with each other. Travelling again, in my 40's is not by any stretch of the imagination easy. However, I do think it's necessary... all my trips to Italy have impacted me so deeply and have profoundly changed me and my art after each visit. It's deep and nourishing and this kind of expanding from the inside out - is never comfortable, growth is never comfortable but I believe growth is imperative to who we are as humans.

If you are considering coming to Italy to join my beautiful friend Ivy and myself, I feel I need to say, it's not a vacation.  It's a kind of pilgrimage and we work and play hard #inthestudio and out of the studio. Creatively, there is something so sacred about the beautiful artisan village of Orvieto, with art around every corner. It’s a visual feast. The intensity of culture, history and more. I know for myself, what I gained in the group learning, kept me unpacking what we discovery together in the classroom for months to come.

In the next few weeks as we draw closer to departure date, I will be unpacking memories and images and moments of sacredness of that precious place and walking those ancient streets, cooking beautiful meals together, creating art together and making friends that last a lifetime.

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#InMyStudio - a works in progress...

I’ve been so inspired by Illustration works lately. Courteney got me hooked. Whenever she finds a new artist on instagram that she thinks I will like, she points me in that direction and a lot of them are illustrative. I know it’s definitely not an easy way to work but I’m loving the challenge and the layers. I have been doing a lot of research about it and my Pinterest art board is filled with it at the moment. I’m going to be practicing a bit over the next while and doing some studies of artists I’ve been enjoying. I’m currently working on this piece which was originally inspired by a combination of an illustration I saw of guinea fowls mixed with garden / plant illustrations.

Gosh so much to learn about this style and how I incorporate it into my own style and theme. Once again I’m smitten with the play. And I hope to linger here a little longer.

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Digby and I have snuck out of town for a few days and hoping to finish these pieces while we are away.

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Finishing pieces...

I was sitting in my writing chair the other day and this piece was up #inmystudio and I saw her halo and I was wondering how it would look if I gave her a bit of a body. Oh I loved moving beyond the embroidery ring. It wasn’t easy because I do very thick stitching and folding my already stitched zone back into the ring was challenging, but I was careful and I loved adding the extra section.

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There seems to be a kind of wisdom and maturity coming from her. Finding any kind of emotion within the threads is equally if not more challenging than in paint which I’m loving very much. There is something sacred about picking up a stitched piece and it’s loaded with layers of thread, feels almost old world.

Home...

We have decided to renew our house lease for another 2 years. This will bring us up to 10 years being in our quirky little house. The shock of that hit us squarely in the chest the other day.

When we first signed the lease - we said it would be for just a year until we were back on our feet and recovered from our relocation from the big city. Now we are steaming towards a decade. It has made us stop and take stock. The truth is where we are situated has been so perfect for us. We are on the outskirts of the city where I have mostly been working for the past decade and of course we are right under our beautiful mountain with the forest literally on our doorstep. We can escape the concrete jungle whenever we like without taking a road trip. We are close enough to the harbour to hear the foghorns blowing on foggy mornings. It’s been a 5 minute trip to the girls school and even though that is now coming to an end, the university is even closer. In terms of location we are very well situated. For a while now we had to give up the dream of being able to own a property this side of the mountain. It’s just too expensive. Cape Town property is off the charts especially this close to the city. We made peace that we will continue leasing until we know what direction we will want to go. In the next six months Corks will be 21 and both our girls will be in university at the same time. Our dogs are also on the other side of the half way mark of their lives. Things are changing for us and our little family and we don’t know what that’s going to look like going forward and we have been apprehensive to lock anything down permanently.

We love our home and it’s quirkiness and all the ease it offers us, but I think the thing I love the most about it, is when we came here, Kitty was so little that she measured below the door handle and now she towers over us. It will also be the longest place we have stayed so far in our married life and once we reach 10 years here, it will officially be the longest I’ve ever stayed in one place in my whole life. Which is a huge milestone, in itself. I had a very nomadic childhood. These restless patterns continued into adulthood and having this level of stability and what that holds for me… is huge. Being able to give that to my girls has been important to me. I love that they have loved this home so much and so many beautiful memories are held within these walls. It’s where my girls grew up into their own adulthood.

So for now… we are embracing this new renewal and all the comfort it gives us in it’s small and humble and beautiful simpleness. The little knowing at the back of my mind that makes me smile when I’m in my kitchen preparing dinner, when my big girls walk in and help me prepare and I see the door handle behind them and remember that little girl that now kisses my forehead while looking down on me.

This is our home even with all it’s impermanence.