Posted in Elephant Creek, Happiness, Health and fitness, Other stuff, Writers, Writing tips

My writing epiphany made me hit reset


I had an epiphany.

From the Oxford Dictionary

epiphany

noun

1. the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi (Matthew 2:1–12). (Nah, not this kind)

2. a moment of sudden and great revelation or realization. (That’s it)

My epiphany: To write in a healthy way.

The updated front cover up upcoming release Elephant Creek.

How did this moment come about?

A close friend dropped by my house. Nothing unusual with that, at least I didn’t think so. As I made tea I waffled on with my dramas (trivial ones in hindsight). Though she seemed a bit quieter than usual, my normally attentive emotional radar did not kick in. I should have twigged when she started on the lame jokes (her cover), but no I kept rambling. Finally, I asked her how she was (a smack in the head moment).

“I found a lump in my breast,” she said simply as my jaw dropped along with my shame. Breast cancer, the big C, the frightening, dreadful disease that no one should have, let alone a life-long friend.

Usually a non-crier, her tears fell, joined by mine and then my husband’s too. It was a moment of no, why, what, how, and this totally sucks! Of course, we talked about her options, emotions, ethics and yet to be made decisions until she was obviously exhausted from revealing the news.

When she left, I cried some more. Shock. Though I believe she’ll fight the big C and WIN I found myself thinking the oddest thoughts. Anger. How can I help her? Care. What would I do if something did happen to her? Selfishness and fear. Why someone so healthy? Questions. Why so many with cancer? More questions. I don’t want this to be happening to my friend. Sadness.

The next day I entered my home office. I answered emails, filed, created spreadsheets, did research and other things for four hours on autopilot. Occasionally I glanced at the books lining my shelf. Two are my own self-published books, two anthologies I feature in and the rest are writing references. When I finished my employed work (RWA), I stared at the books again. I looked at my desk with fresh eyes. I was organised with all my trays, nooks and folders. My office was functional and pretty. I loved working in my own writing space. Problem was I was not writing enough.

But what if my health stopped me working or writing? What if something happened to me, like my friend. I’d previously overworked and my health had suffered. I realised how important health is.

Another good friend (a fellow writer) has kidney disease and is awaiting a transplant. She’s ten years younger than me. Her first book will be out soon. Her disease spurred her on to get it done.

My epiphany made me hit reset. Restart all goals. Writing goals cannot be achieved without good health. The brain does not function properly with a lack of exercise and bad diet.

What will I do now (and yes, I have started)?

  • Wake early each morning to jog (I’m unfit so this is tough)
  • Walk the dog as a warm down (appreciating nature too)
  • Eat cleaner, fresher, wholesome foods
  • Always have breakfast (usually oats plus fruit or nuts)
  • Stretch the fingers after being on the keyboard all-day
  • Step away from the laptop if the neck or shoulders hurt
  • Go to the beach at least once a week
  • Write on notepads instead of always on a screen
  • Take supplements (like magnesium for cramps)
  • Eat more Keto-type foods
  • Buy a standup paddleboard and paddle on weekends
  • Get my skin checked
  • Purchase more hats to wear in the sun
  • Wear sunglasses in the sunshine
  • See the grandchildren (they give us life and lessons)
  • Listen to what people are really saying (watch body language)
  • Be mindful
  • Relax more
  • Keep learning about writing
  • Write more
  • Finish Elephant Creek
  • Start the next book (and keep going and going)

There’s probably plenty of extra things I could add but that will do for now.

Keep writing you never know when you will no longer have time

Until next time here are photos of my new office on the Sunshine Coast. Plus, the updated version of Elephant Creek’s cover. I hope you like it. Please let me know what you think.

 

Posted in Art, Family life, Other stuff, Writing tips

The painting life of Donna begins


The painting life of Donna begins or maybe like writing it was always there

Okay, that’s not totally true. You’ll have seen through this blog that I like to find old tired furniture and paint it new. Not in a traditional sense either. I have an artistic view on what I’m painting so each piece is original. Some don’t turn out perfect but that’s half the fun of giving it a go. It can always be sanded back and repainted if need be.

Apparently so can a canvas painting. My mum’s advice before I stared on the canvas she had lovingly bought for me was. “You can always paint over it and start again.” So with that in mind, what did I have to lose?

My last post tells of my inspiration to paint this particular painting was the photo below.

Sunset Currumbin, Queensland
Sunset looking up Currumbin Alley to the west. July 2016.

The canvas I have started with is 75 x 60cm. Mum usually paints on much bigger canvas but I didn’t want to start too big, especially if I may be awful at it. I had to make a easel out of a pergola pole facing the light, by screwing in two flat hooks. The frame was too wide so I added flat piece of timber (ruler width) to the bottom and inserted an open paper clip to the top to anchor the painting so it wouldn’t blow off. Strangest easel I’ve ever seen but it did the job.

Painting outside
A nice spot in the sun to paint. I like to improvise.

Mum said to paint the canvas white first. I tried crisscrosses, then waves and the brush seemed too small, so I got a bigger one (I’m impatient) and gave it good cover by watering down the white pearl paint a bit more.

Painting on canvas
I covered the canvas with Pearl White Mont Marte Dimensions.
Painting from a photo.
An almost blank canvas and a photo for inspiration.

Next step: drawn in the lifesaver tower (I used a ruler). Though I want it to look real it’s just a silhouette in the foreground and the sunset sky is the star. I found when I started to paint I could still see the pencil so though I tried to paint around it to start I realised it would be better to paint over it so it flowed behind the structure. The blue is Monastral Cerulean. I think in hindsight I should have mixed a colour closer to the real sky because it was a stunning blue.

Drawing on canvas to paint
I drew the main structure, the lifesaver tower, before starting to paint.

Next step: paint the black parts which are all the things in the shadows. The land, the tower, trees and inlet.

Lifesaving tower in painting
Starting with the blacker areas such as the lifesaver tower.

Next step: start creating the detail with whites (clouds), colours such as Brilliant Red and Medium Yellow. A bit of Hookers Green Deep for the land detail and wash some blue where the creek runs. I seriously didn’t think it was working. I didn’t seem to be getting the shadows and light right. I probably needed to get further away from it because when I did I sort of liked it a bit more.

Painting on canvas Currumbin Alley
The painting details came together in the end.

Next step: when the canvas was dry I took it inside and propped it near the TV so I’d be forced to look at it and analyse it. The details didn’t quite look right. I thought the cloud shadows weren’t correct and needed more shadow above.

The next day I corrected that and also gave the sky a bit more red and pink leading to the clouds, where before it just went from red to vibrant blue. I don’t mind what I did at the bottom of the painting (particularly from a distance). I’m still not sure about the clouds. They just don’t look enough like clouds. I think the overall effect of colour is what I was trying to achieve. I like the brightness. I suppose like all art you can love it or hate it, and sometimes not even be sure what you feel about it. Using acrylic paints meant that the paint dries darker than when it’s applied. The painting also looks different in the bright light of outside to the more subdued inside light.

Painting of Currumbin Alley sunset by Donna Munro
This is how it looks on the wall in the lounge room.

I found this blog post on About Home website that I probably should have read before I started. There is also Acrylic Painting Tips for Beginners, another I should have read first.

Tell me what you think and if you have any advice on how I can improve please feel free to be a critic (only in the nicest of way). Thanks once again for reading.