Sunday, February 26, 2012

Bound for Down Under

I am so excited! I'm finally, after three years, heading home to Australia to visit my family and friends.   I've been in a packing frenzy for the past week and trying to decide what art supplies to take.  Never an easy choice! The transit from where I am in the mid-west to my mothers front door is close to 35 hours...not the part I'm looking forward to the most, especially with children in tow. But the transit can be exciting and enjoyable if I just stay relaxed, give myself plenty of time, and soak in all the diversity and interest of the traveling experience.

I'm always been an avid traveler and spent many years exploring the world as a woman alone. My daughter had visited Australia twice and New Zealand once before she turned 3.  My son, however, is a completely different ball game.  We don't know what to expect with a special needs child, but we're ready to take it all in our stride  I'm confident because I'm prepared, but it's uncertain....we'll see.

We're heading down to the late part of summer and we're all in desperate need of some sun and surf. My mother has ocean on three sides of her house, so there will be plenty beach fun to be had. But the part I'm looking forward to the most is seeing my family.  Brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, but most of all parents. None of them have met T yet and it will be wonderful for both him and M to get to know everyone.

It will be business as usual for me, so when you're reading my blog over the next couple of weeks, don't be surprised if you find yourself with a pina colada in your hand, and you notice the slight fragrance of tropical flowers coming from your screen.

Thanks for checking in. xx

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Watercolor Pencil Mysteries Revealed

In two days my Watercolor Pencil Workshop through begins. I'm am wildly excited about this class as it's been a joy to prepare.  I get asked so many questions about how to use these little sticks of beauty. They are hugely underestimated, and as anyone who has ever picked up a watercolor pencil will know, they are inexpensive, no-mess, easily portable, come in a huge array of colors and are PERFECT for art journals and sketchbooks on the go.  Yet still, understanding how to get the best from them is elusive to so many people.

I've been using watercolor pencils for a long time and it's only been in the past year that I have really embraced them.  Preparing projects for this class, I've learnt so much more about ways to use them, and like any artistic endeavor, the more you do it, the better you become. This is especially true for watercolor pencils.

Watercolor pencils can be used in so many different ways, and in this class, we delve into the mysteries and myths through a series of projects and exercises that attempt to uncover some of their best kept secrets.

This autumn leaf was done using several different techniques, which I will show you as we will work through lots of step-by-step exercises. You will learn how to get the best from your own watercolor pencils.

I use watercolor pencils a lot and they are especially perfect for travel.  In fact, I'll be packing a little set into my carry-on luggage next week as my husband, children, and I take a little trip down-under to visit my family.

Yep...after months of home-sickness, we're finally heading south for a dose of Aussie...everything. Yep, Australia, the land of gum leaves, Vegemite, surf, and the endless summer.  Of course, it's artistic business as usual for me as I'll be blogging about my adventure and deeply engaged in my Watercolor Pencil Workshop.  In fact, participants of this class will get to hear about some of my Aussie fun first hand.

However, I'm a little nervous about taking my toddler on such a long trip, but the hospital has given us the fact they are encouraging it because here in North America, we are heading into the worst time for respiratory viruses. It has been March/April every year since his birth that Thomas has been in the PICU fighting for his life against a common cold.  We're hoping to avoid that this year by heading down to what is turning out to be a beautiful summer down under. If you have any tips for traveling with a toddler, I'd love to hear them.

I hope to visit many of my beautiful art and play friends while I'm there, so let me know what you've got going on and I'll try to drop by. In the meantime, it's not too late to sign up for Watercolor Pencil Workshop.  

Thanks for stopping by xx

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Worthy of Friendship

Sometimes, there are people in your life that are very special.  Some people just stand back and love you from afar.  No fuss, no bother, no fanfare.  It's obvious they love you for who you are, nothing else.  They give you what your need, which is mostly understanding, and they ask nothing in return.

I have a friend like this, in fact I have several. They're the kind of people who stick with you through life...regardless, who share your ups and downs, and make you feel supported.  One in particular is Elizabeth, another is Amy! They are both generous, kind, loving people.  Always positive, always happy, always with a kind encouraging word.  They are the kind of people I value so very much, and often feel completely unworthy of.

Last week, just because she knew I was trying to keep my kids healthy (unsuccessfully I might add), because she knew I had a lot going on, because she knows how homesick I get for Australia at this time of year, Amy turned up on my doorstep with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. She didn't want to stay, didn't expect crazy gushing squeals of delight, didn't want to add to my load, and didn't expect anything in return. She just wanted to let me know that she was thinking of me, that she is there for me, and that she loves me.

And a couple of weeks ago, just because she was visiting the States for a few weeks, because she was already trekking half way around the planet, because she knew how homesick I am, Elizabeth arrived in the US with a HUGE box of Aussie goodies for me.   She didn't crash on my doorstep, didn't mind the excess luggage, just wanted to let me know she was thinking of me.

Have you ever felt unworthy of such friends? Wishing that you were just better at being a friend in return?  I do.  Someone once told met that if you feel unworthy of someone, then you probably are...I don't think I buy into that sentiment.  But I do wish I had the capacity to express my friendships better than I do.  I'm not one of those people who gushes, and goo's over babies, who oozes charm in social situations, who dazzles a crowd with fascinating stories or glamorous shoes.  I'm quite a plain and simple person really, there's nothing flash about me at all, I'm! 

Don't get me wrong.  I'm very happy in my own skin.  I'm happy with my life, my family, my interests.  I think I'm probably what you call well-rounded.  But I'm not an alfa, I'm just doer, a quiet, in-the-corner kind of person, a reader of books, a thinker, an artist...plain and simple. 

But these expressions of friendships were profound.  They made me realize how loved I am, how lucky I am to be loved, and I want these women to know that I love them back.  I want them  to know what beautiful people they are, what special friends they are, and how grateful I am to have them in my life.  Even if I don't express my friendship in ways I wish I could, I do love and appreciate you both for everything you are.

This journal page was a flower from the bouquet Amy gave me.  It's done in watercolor pencils, paint and ink. I did it as a way to express my gratitude to them, and to all my friends. 

Thanks for checking in. xx

Monday, February 13, 2012

Silky Wisdom

Lately, I've been absorbed in preparing my Wisdom Circles workshop as part of 21 SecretsIt's been quite the journey as I've been giving myself over the healing, calming process of making mandalas.  It's a passion of mine, and is a very personal art journaling experience, especially when I'm trying to deal with the issues and anxieties of a micro-preemie.  Sometimes, I need to find a way to abstractly weave my frustrations into my art journal. 

Writing about adversity doesn't always come easily, so when I'm facing challenges and roadblocks, as any parent does, all I can do is plunge my mind into the sacred circle and let all the fears and frustrations pour out onto a page in the form of color and symbols.

My little guy, who was born 16 weeks premature, has faced many challenges in his short 2 year life, none more than the challenge of breathing.  A baby born after only 24 weeks gestation doesn't have much in the way of lungs.  Well, they're little lung buds really, and if they survive, then they face a lifetime of pulmonary challenges.  Every tiny little cold or sniffle can turn into a 4 day stay in the ICU, and often does. Needless to say I spend a lot of time trying to keep the bugs away, especially at this time of year...and not always successfully I might add!

My 6yo came home from school last week with a raging sore throat.  She's such a trooper, taking it all in her stride and trying to so very hard not to pass germs to her brother.  But it's probably inevitable that Thomas will get it.  How it plays out is another matter altogether.  For now, I'm just pushing forward with all my commitments and hoping like crazy that I don't have to spend any sleepless nights in the PICU over the next few weeks.

In the meantime, I've been playing with Luminarte's new line of Silks Acrylic Glaze.  Oh my, if you haven't tried them, you simply MUST get your hands on them.  These little babies are exquisite.  They are a liquid acrylic form of Twinkling H2O's that result in a simply stunning, semi-transparent, and insanely shimmery coverage.  They can be used on virtually any surface, including fabric and wood, with incredible results.  This page was done by layering Silks over black gesso in my sketchbook. It's like the circle has been illuminated from behind. I'll be using them as part of my Wisdom Circles workshop so you'll be able to see how they perform.  I highly recommend you hop on over to Dreaming In Color or Creative Imaginations to check them out.

21 Secrets begins on April 1st and runs for 10 full months.  As a participant you get to take all 21 workshops from an incredible team of instructors and its only $59.  Workshops are self-paced and include pdf's and video, and there's still time to register.  Click here for more information.

Thanks for stopping by. xx

Friday, February 10, 2012

An Artist You Should Know

When I first started sharing my art, it was as part of The Sketchbook Challenge. I set up an account through Flickr so I could participate in the group.  WOW, little did I know where that would lead me.  I remember looking through the gallery of work and being so inspired by the way the participants courageously interpreted the monthly themes. 

One of those artists was Catherine Parkinson.  Catherine set herself a challenge, to create every single day, and she was inspiring.  As I followed Catherine's inspirational journey through the Sketchbook Challenge I got to know her.  I was humbled to discover that her primary focus is art quilts and photography.  Catherine's quilts need to be seen to be believed.  She is an award winning quilt artist, mother of 5, New Zealand dairy farmer with the most amazing fortitude, generosity, and kindness.

Catherine and I have become friends beyond our online endeavours, and that alone makes this art journey worthwhile. She has two blogs, here and here. You must check them both out, and if you're a mother, then you'll especially LOVE her second blog.  Catherine isn't just an artist you should know, she is a person you know, and one you'll LOVE.

I am Catherine Parkinson a quilt artist, art journal-er and photographer.
I am married to an amazing man who supports me and loves me in all my endeavors.

I am a mother to 5 beautiful children who range in age from 7 to almost 20.  They are a great joy and inspiration in my life.  They make life worth living.  

We live in South Auckland, New Zealand on a dairy farm.  It is the most beautiful country to live in and inspires me daily to create art.  If you haven’t been here Google some images and you’ll see what I mean, it's just a daily feast of eye candy.

I am an artist who uses fabric and textiles to express myself.

From a young child I have enjoyed the feeling of fabric, the way it moves and how it can be manipulated. I love working with fabric and fibres, it is the tactile nature of textiles that appeals to me. Quilting has to be touched and felt to be appreciated and to be understood. One of the nicest things I get asked is "can I touch your art?"

Last year I began doing The Sketchbook Challenge.  My goal was to draw a page every day of the year.  Although I didn’t quite make that goal I managed to draw a page for most of the year.  Doing this has really improved my drawing skills and pushed me to a place with my drawing I have never been before.  I now consider art journaling a medium of mine too. I have overcome many fears of paint and putting colour onto a page.  This has taken a lot of courage and been worth every particle of energy and time.

Life is a journey that keeps evolving through experiences and relationships.  Art is the same.  It moves and evolves through a process.  It is a fun ride which I love being on.  It is not always an expected journey.  Many experiences of life have sent me off on tangents and down surprising roads to explore.   If anyone had told me 10 years ago that I would be an art quilter and artist I wouldn’t have believed them.  

Another path of art I have been exploring for a few years is photography.  Photography fulfills my instant gratification side of my personality.  I love how it is only a click of a button and a few minutes on the computer to create a work.  Photography has also helped me to record ideas for future work and future themes.  It has given me a selective eye, helps me with design and has helped my eye to notice detail.

Art is a wonderful way to express my inner feelings and to see the world for its wonderful possibilities.   The light around us needs to be captured and injected back into our society so that we can really see clearly the potential human beings have in our world. 

Please come visit me at:


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Wisdom Circles

This month was always going to be a crazy one for me.  Two of my classes are running in Feb, as well as deadlines for other projects.  I love it!!  I've been enjoying teaching my "Mastering Twinks" class through immensely.  The participants are amazing and I'm blown away with their work. Next up for me is  "Watercolor Pencil Workshop" which starts on February 23rd, I can't wait.  Registration is still open for both classes, but if you can't make them this time around, they'll definitely be running again.  Watch this space!!

In the meantime, I've been burning the midnight oil in preparation for my contribution to "21 Secrets".  This beautiful program is being hosted by Dirty Footprints Studio and offers 21 amazing workshop.  My little piece in this class is called "Wisdom Circles".  It's a workshop that uses myth and legend to infuse the art of making mandalas.  I've just finished this short little video to give you a taste of what to expect.

Wisdom Circles from Dion Dior on Vimeo.

21 Secrets begins on April 1st.  Click here for more information.

Thanks for checking in. xx

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Off & Running

Yesterday, the first of my online classes for, Mastering Twinks, started.  Wow, I'm just thrilled at the response so far, but more excited about the incredible group of participants.  I'm still getting to know them, and there are a few I'm yet to meet, but I have to say....who's teaching who??

These people have shown themselves to be generous, considered, and very very smart.  I love it when a class asks lots of questions, offers lots of ideas, and most importantly, helps each other out.  I'm quite simply humbled, moved, and blessed to be in their company and to be touched by their enthusiasm and passion.

I'm very much hoping that as the class progresses, these wonderful artists will give me permission to share their work on my blog, and I hope they they will even allow me to include them in my An Artist You Should Know series, because really, they are artists you should all know.

Exceptional creative talent and passion isn't just the domain of professional artists. Ordinary people are doing extraordinary things in art, and the internet and online classes like this have enabled us to connect. I'm all the more blessed because of it.

It takes courage to open yourself to a learning process, and even more courage to share that process with people you've never met.  I want to thank those of you who are allowing me to share with you my love of Twinkling H2O's, and trusting me to help you discover your own Twinkling passion through this class.

Hugs & Gratitude. xx