Kerrie Woodhouse

Whimsical words and watercolour

Pen

The Meaning of Home

Series of the MonthKerrie Woodhouse

The first home I painted this month was so nestled in its environment. As though the trees and gardens held the home in a safe embrace, much like the walls of the home hug the familiy within.

 
Home no 1 - Nestled (Pen and Wash, on paper, 6"x 8")

Home no 1 - Nestled (Pen and Wash, on paper, 6"x 8")

 

That’s what home is to me.

Layers of comfort and security.

Safety and belonging. A place where all is familiar and you have what you need.

 
Home no 2 - Belong (Pen and Wash, on paper 6 x 8 inches)

Home no 2 - Belong (Pen and Wash, on paper 6 x 8 inches)

 

Cozy places to curl up with a book. The smell of a chicken roasting in the oven. The chatter and laughter of children over the soft purr of the ever churning washing machine.  

 
Home no 10 - Sheltered (Pen and wash, on paper 6 x 8 inches)

Home no 10 - Sheltered (Pen and wash, on paper 6 x 8 inches)

 

Home is where you find your way easily even in the dark, you know every part of it like the back of your hand.

 
Home no 6 Hilltop (Pen and Wash on paper 6 x 8 inches)

Home no 6 Hilltop (Pen and Wash on paper 6 x 8 inches)

 

Your hand drops the keys in the bowl by the door, of its own accord, never missing despite your lack of attention to the task, so well do you know the space and your place in it.

 
Home no 3 Snug (Pen and Wash on paper, 6"x 8")

Home no 3 Snug (Pen and Wash on paper, 6"x 8")

 

Skipping the stair that squeaks is such second nature you don't even realise you are doing it.

 
Home no 4 Welcome (Pen and Wash, on paper 6"x8")

Home no 4 Welcome (Pen and Wash, on paper 6"x8")

 

Because of this comfortable familiarity with the physical building and its contents, it's easy to start thinking that it is the house itself that is the home.

 
Home no 8 - Safe (Pen and wash, on paper 6 x 8 inches)

Home no 8 - Safe (Pen and wash, on paper 6 x 8 inches)

 

But I have moved around so much I have learned that it is not the physical space that makes the home. 

 
Home no 5 Sanctuary (Pen and Wash, on Paper, 6"x 8")

Home no 5 Sanctuary (Pen and Wash, on Paper, 6"x 8")

 

Surprising, really how quickly we can start applying the label home to an unfamiliar space. 

 
Home no 9 Retreat (Pend and Wash, on Paper, 6"x 8")

Home no 9 Retreat (Pend and Wash, on Paper, 6"x 8")

 

The sanctuary of home is an idea - a feeling that is made in our hearts and minds. It is when we bring that feeling to the bricks and mortar that accommodate us and let it breathe life into the space that the shell can become the embodiment of our home. 

 
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Learn to paint what is meaningful to you… one of these might help…

Keep on reading…

Do you have too many plump and juicy ideas?

Series of the MonthKerrie Woodhouse

Berries and seeds are tiny symbols of hope and possibility - don't you think?  I love that something so small can be so mighty. From a tiny little seed a whole new plant can come to be - nature’s everyday magic.

 
 

From the tiniest acorn grows a mighty oak.

Only it doesn’t have to.

Not every acorn will become a tree. We do not judge those acorns that don't end up transforming themselves. 

We see their fascinating shapes and textures and delight in their current stage. They are valuable just as they are, right now.

We don't see their worth as conditional on what they might become.

 
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“When we plant a rose seed in the earth, we notice that it is small, but we do not criticize it as “rootless and stemless.” We treat it as a seed, giving it the water and nourishment required of a seed. When it first shoots up out of the earth, we don’t condemn it as immature and underdeveloped; nor do we criticize the buds for not being open when they appear. We stand in wonder at the process taking place and give the plant the care it needs at each stage of its development. The rose is a rose from the time it is a seed to the time it dies. Within it, at all times, it contains its whole potential. It seems to be constantly in the process of change; yet at each state, at each moment, it is perfectly all right as it is.”
— W. Timothy Gallwey, The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance
 
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Those little seeds and berries remind me of all the ideas we have and the projects we begin. A new idea is exciting - as plump and juicy and wonderful as a berry. So is every book we add to our reading lists and every online course we begin.

 
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But just like those seeds, not every idea will manifest its largest form. We enjoy an abundance of new books and courses, ideas and projects - more of these are available than we have the resources for. That’s okay. Nature shows us that this is simply the natural way of things.

 
 

There is value in beginnings: the burst of enthusiasm, the creative zeal that sparks us into action. The joy of possibility is enough.

Some of our ideas and projects will see completion. It’s okay that we probably don't know which ones they are at the outset.

 
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Many seeds fall from the tree. Only the passing of time and allowing events to unfold can determine which ones will will flourish. And since we don't know which ones will flourish we need them all.

 
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Unfinished projects, or forgotten ideas are not wasted, they are a part of the process. They all have a role - it just might not be the one you expected. Some are stepping stones, some are just practice. Some are for exploration and help you find your way by a process of elimination.

Revel in the abundance of all your beginnings. Please don't berate yourself for the ones that didn't appear to go anywhere.

Let them go in the knowledge that they are enough just as they are.

 
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The tiresomeness of goal setting

Series of the MonthKerrie Woodhouse

At the time of writing this we are about to see in the new year. I love the reflectiveness that seems to arise so naturally at this time. I’m less keen on the exuberant advice on goal setting that abounds. 

You know what I mean… Big Hairy Audacious Goals, (that are SMART - obvs) and shooting for the moon. 

Exhausting.

 
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No, this is not for me.

It's not that I don't have ambitions, I believe we all have those.

It's just that this year I am choosing to focus on how I want each day to be, rather than the big things I want to achieve. 

Those big achievements are great of course, but in a rather fleeting way.  It is the way we approach each ordinary day that ultimately determines the way we feel about our lives. So it is the process rather than the outcome that I am interested in. 

 
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I have been filling my sketchbook with mandalas, as is my wont at this time of year. Each mandala is built by the persistent repetition of a small mark or shape all the way around the circle.

The next ring of the mandala then appears the same way. Stroke by stroke. Gentle meditative strokes gradually accumulate to create a lovely whole. 

 
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The word that always comes to mind when I am creating these mandalas is repetition. I see the whole process as a series of micro steps.


Initial marks made in pencil, 
then repeated in pen. 
Choosing colour palettes, 
colouring each tiny space. 
Then returning to each space with a waterbrush to make my watercolour pencils of choice - Inktense - leap to vibrant life. 

 
 

Each mandala turns out quite different from its predecessors and yet they are all born of the same process. It is such a good  metaphor for any project, I think. There are multiple phases - pencil, pen, colour and water in the case of the mandala. 

 
Mandala-flower-kw.jpg
 

Each phase comprises its own tiny steps. Having a protocol eliminates, or at the very least drastically reduces, big project stress. (Nice to practice this approach to big projects on stress free mandalas, don’t you think?). 

Once you have a protocol, all that is required of you is to show up and execute those little steps. Over and over again.

 
 

For me, making art is always about the process, not the final product. Usually though, the more enjoyable the drawing or painting process, the nicer the final piece turns out.

The joy of the process seems to express itself tangibly in the painting in a rather magical way.

 
Mandala-planetary-kw.jpg
 

Mandalas are one of the best ways to discover this for yourself. Any sort of meditative drawing (have you tried zentangle?) or even colouring offers this experience. 

That’s what I want both in and out of the studio this year. Days happily filled with small simple processes.

 
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Of course, if one is persistent in following these carefully chosen processes, achieving the bigger goals becomes rather inevitable. 

What a pleasing irony.

Explore accessories, homewares and stationery featuring mandalas here (affiliate link)

How to use your strengths (and each other's)

Kerrie Woodhouse

I used both ink and watercolour this month - they play so beautifully together. Of course, each is perfectly adequate on their own. But when they work together there is less to be expected of each one - the load is shared. There is a message in that for all of us, to be sure.

 
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Actually it fits so well with a sketchbook practice. In my opinion anyway, a sketchbook is a license to free yourself from undue expectation and be more open to play than perfection. An ink drawing is a great way to capture a scene. So is a watercolour painting. But if you put them together they can compensate for one another. 

 
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Watercolour is so good for a splash of loose but vibrant hues. It offers life and energy. People often think that watercolour is hard to control - it does seem to have a mind of its own. But if you let the pen join in, then inky lines can firm up any details that you feel are lost to the wilful nature of the paint. 

 
 

Ink on its own can sometimes feel a little stiff. A pen is a far more precise instrument. It is easy for it to lure you into tight little details. If you know that watercolour will come in and play its part then it is easier to loosen up with the pen. Easier to stop before it feels too finished and before the lines strangle the life from quick energetic sketch you began with.

 
 

Each medium has its strength. Ink gives bold strong lines, and fine, precise details. Watercolour is relaxed, loose and suggestive. Allowing each to offer its respective strength to the page means you have a good chance of capturing a lively but recognisable scene in rather short order.

 
Sketchbook-getaway-no-6-three-on-a-path-kw.jpg
 

One medium need not do everything. Nor are there rules about which one goes first. Start with ink, or with paint, do what the sketch wants. Bring back the pen after the paint is dry to reinforce some details. Flexibility and teamwork - that’s what its all about. 

 
 

There is no need to try and be a jack of all trades - this applies as much to art supplies as it does to people. Ask for help when you need it. Trying to do something that you do not enjoy or find a struggle makes no sense if there is someone around who can do it better, and faster than you and actually enjoy it.

 
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Spend your time and energy on your strengths, not your weaknesses. Unless there is something new you really want to learn to do, you are probably wiser to step back - outsource or find someone to collaborate with.

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If we don't ask for help, we are denying someone the opportunity of sharing their gift. Likewise trying to be all things to all people may come at the cost of time spent doing that special thing that only you can do.

Let’s work with our strengths, and each other’s.

 
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Are you ready for an instant vacation?

Series of the MonthKerrie Woodhouse

It came as something of a surprise to me that I chose to paint bicycles this month. I am not a cyclist myself - not by any stretch of the imagination. Even so the idea of doing a whole bicycle series  has bubbling around in the back of my mind for ages. I thought it was because the bicycle presents a good challenge from a sketching point of view. All those spokes and angles and lovely round wheels.

 
 

But of course there is always more to it. As  I drew and painted bikes I kept finding myself describing it as a ‘romantic notion’. And it is. The bicycle represents freedom. An independent way to propel yourself to a location of your choosing and not miss a thing along the way.

 
 

Fresh air and bright skies. Grassy fields or beachside tracks. The world can be your oyster. 

 
 

To be totally honest, the idea of this alone is enough for me. I am happy to pedal through  the world vicariously, by paintbrush. Freedom and escape are a state of mind. If you can’t or won't venture out you can still take a little mental vacation.

 
 

On the subject of romantic notions, I can't go passed the blossoms that are just as important to me this month as the bicycles. Flowers have always been one of my favourite painting subjects.

 
 

Actually, they are just one of my favourite things. To me they are a symbol of joy. A radiant, fragrant expression of delight. Their energy and colour testify to the simple beauty of everyday things.

 
 

Natural,  extraordinary but fleeting things to be appreciated before they fade. So if I were to ride around on a bicycle, one of the best things I could think of doing would be to gather blossoms wherever I saw them. In the words of Robert Herrick,


“Gather ye rosebuds, while ye may”.
 
 

I love the idea of riding around with a bunch of blossoms embellishing the bottom of my view, framing whatever appears before me.

 
 

The basket on the front of the bicycle feels like a childhood delight. I picture streamers on the handlebars and the basket filled with childhood treasures. Teddy bears, bits of string and interesting seedpods, perhaps?

 
 

While my adult mind has retained the basket I choose to mentally fill it with blooms. An abundance of blossoms that remind me to gather the small joys in each moment before they fly by. 

May you pedal through life with your heart a full basket of joy.

 
 

What have you achieved so far?

Series of the MonthKerrie Woodhouse

If you are feeling in need of a little calming, reflective time then drawing mandalas is just the thing. One of my new rituals is to spend a month with mandalas at the close of every year.  There is so much about the mandala that feels apt at this time of the year.

 
 

The circle is the perfect symbol for a time of reflection. Its gentle  even curve will hold whatever you choose to put inside - a safe container. 

It brings me no end of delight to be able to start with a little seed of a shape in the centre of the circle and then watch it grow into something bigger and more complex.

 
 

I love that just by surrendering to consistent repetition of a simple shape something significant appears. Just like all those tiny, seemingly meaningless repetitive tasks that we do everyday. Considered on their own they seem so banal, perhaps even tedious. Beds need to be made repeatedly. Counters wiped down. Again. Mothers repeat their endless refrains: 

Pick up your towel.

I love you to the moon and back.

Feet off the sofa. 

But each of these tiny things plays its role in making up the complex pattern of our lives. There is reliability in the repetition. They form the structure within which our children (as well as ourselves) find a sense of security. Certain things in an uncertain world. These things provide some stability - a backbone to support the fluid organic expansion of their little lives, the framework on which to pin all the colour and interest that life has to offer.

 
 

Once a soothing trip all the way around the circle with one shape has been completed there is a sense of closure. To close up one round of shapes brings fulfilment. There is a feeling of achievement in reaching the end. However one of the joys of a circle is that every end is also a beginning. The end of one day is the beginning of another.

 
 

My process for drawing mandalas is circular in so many ways. Aside from the obvious shape of their overall design and the repetition of the shapes within, there is a cyclical nature to the process itself. I begin in pencil and complete each concentric circle of shapes, usually beginning in the centre. Having repeated that process to fill the whole mandala I begin again going over the pencil lines in pen.

 
 

And then a final return to each concentric circle to add the colour. As is so often the case, the process of creating art mirrors life. The first time we try something new we may be a little shaky, uncertain - the pencil version. As we repeat this action we are more confident, we probably refine our previous work - the pen stage. And now that we are more confident with this new thing that we have learned we find even more joy and execute the task with flair - the colour stage. 

 
 

 

At each stage, we have the chance to improve or amend our previous decisions. The more we persist, the more our new project begins to collaborate with us in its creation. We can choose to take feedback from what we have done so far, to work with what is working and let go of what is not.

 
 

In mandalas, as in life there is comfort in the repetition, and the opportunity for growth. If we persist to completion there is the chance to experience each new thing in all its glory. Every so often we need to pause, stand back and see how our small repeated daily actions contribute to the glorious mandala of our lives. 

 
 

Take a moment to observe what you have achieved so far. Acknowledge your efforts and contributions. Be proud of how much you have learned and grown.

And then begin another round.

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kitchen comforts

Series of the MonthKerrie Woodhouse

Have you noticed how little time it takes before everyone in the house gravitates towards the kitchen? The kitchen is the hub. The heart of the home.

kitchen wall art prints

 

It is where the momma is, and that’s what makes it home. It is the place of comfort and sustenance. It is where the best conversations happen.  On a kitchen stool over a cup of coffee with a chocolate chip cookie.

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I think it is because there is no pomp and ceremony in the kitchen.  It does not suffer  the formality of a dining room where we might be more guarded and reserved.  It is warm and is filled with our favourite things that we use every day.

kitchen wall art prints red tea pot

It is the place where wholesome ingredients are prepared by generous hearts. 

kitchen wall art prints eggs kw


No matter what kind of house you have it doesn’t take long before hungry mouths appear at counters and fridge doors start opening.  And a tower of pancakes makes you feel safe and welcome, no matter who you are.

kitchen wall art prints pancakes kw


Spending a lot of time in the kitchen is part of the job description for every mom. But honestly that relentless food production that a family demands can certainly dampen one's culinary enthusiasm. Simplicity is the key I think.

kitchen wall art prints red tomatoes kw


If you start with something fresh and vibrant it doesn't need too much from you. 

kitchen wall art prints avocado kw


Its vitality is apparent from the its juicy colour and gleaming flesh. 

kitchen wall art prints purple aubergine kw


Makes you feel better just looking at it.

kitchen wall art prints beets kw


Food doesn’t need to be complicated to bring comfort. In fact the less complicated the better. Is there anything more soothing than a piece of toast with chunky strawberry jam?
 

kitchen wall art prints toast and jam kw

The kitchen stores the memories of the generations. Aren’t your favourite recipes the ones passed down from grandmothers? How delightful are those handwritten recipes in books with pages now yellowed by time and splattered by batter. 

kitchen wall art print eggs and whisk kw


As efficient as it is to have the internet deliver infinite versions of recipes from all over the world, there is nothing quite like the ones in a familiar hand on well loved pages. Even better if there are notes scribbled in the margins.
 

kitchen wall art prints muffins and recipe book kw

May your kitchen continue to provide comfort and nourishment for both your body and your soul.

Explore more kitchen art prints and originals 

Yoga Values

Beginner Resources, My art journeyphoenixarttally
Yoga Values No 3 Upward Dog arttally

Yoga Values No 3 Upward Dog arttally

This month I am drawing value studies in pen. I have chosen yoga poses as my subject because I love drawing figures and I  am a something of a new convert to yoga.

I took a course with the lovely Julie Johnson over at the Jeanne Oliver Creative Network (a place of many lovely art classes, if you are looking...). This course is entitled Scribble Art, and was a marvellously fun way to study and practice the all important values.  Here is the first one I did, Tree Pose.

Yoga Values No 1 Tree Pose arttally

Yoga Values No 1 Tree Pose arttally

I loved using loose and messy scribble to bring form to this figure in a pose that is known for bringing stillness. Rather apt, it seemed. We take our messy, scribbly jumble of thoughts and emotions into yoga class, and hopefully leave with a little more stillness and calm.

The second pose I tried was Warrior III. Somehow I couldn't help but add a little bit of coloured pencil. I had originally thought that I would leave these black and white - just pen and paper. But the muse suggested some subtle colour. Who am I to refuse?

Yoga Values No 2 Warrior 3 arttally

Yoga Values No 2 Warrior 3 arttally

The third pose I tried is  Upward Dog, shown at the very top of this post. My favourite so far.