Painting, Creativity & Intuition

creativity, News, Thoughts & Ramblings, Visual Art

It’s been a while since I blogged (sorry), partly because I’ve been productive and focused, but mostly because there has been so much learning and insight that whenever I sit down to write something, I want to talk about ALL the things.

Story of my life.

So I’m going to try to keep today’s post to one topic. Painting. Creativity. Intuition.

One of the perks of working at a bookshop is that you get reading copies of books (not Fantastic Beasts, unfortunately). Some time ago, my manager recommended one to me: Iris Grace.

I finally got round to starting it last week and WOW. If you’re not familiar with her story, Iris is a young girl on the autism spectrum. The story is written from her mother’s point of view, from her own life and marriage to the grief of Iris’ diagnosis, to seeing beauty in her difference.

Now the reason I started reading it had nothing to do with autism, and everything to do with art. Below is one of Iris’ paintings. She’s only four or five years old.

'Explosions of Colour' - Source:

‘Explosions of Colour’ – Source:

The book describes much about Iris’ perspective (through the lens of her mother) and about autism, but what I picked up on the most is her sensory awareness, her deep connection with nature, and how she is able to communicate this through her paintings. My first thought when I saw her work?

One day, I want to paint like this.

I’ve blogged about my identity as a creative, an online persona, and just as a human being, several times before (here and here, and also on my old blog here and here). It’s obviously something I’m still working through, and that’s okay. Since working solidly on my painting with the goal of an exhibition, I’ve realised how much I am ‘in flow’ with painting; how easily it is able to transform what is inside me into a tangible product (exhibition details here if you’re in Auckland and interested in attending).

Reading Iris’ story has inspired me to do what comes naturally, and not feel apologetic: it is not selfish to dig deeper into myself. It’s helped me realise that intuitive art, à la Jackson Pollock, is real and true; I don’t need to have an intention or conceptual meaning before the work is finished.

Most of all, it has helped me realise that I am an artist (as a friend was trying to help me realise the other day). What’s interesting is that when I embrace the identity of being ‘an artist’, I feel a lot better about my writing as well. It doesn’t need to be excellent in the usual methods of judgement, because it is a creative work of art – not a traditional work of fiction.

So in all of this rambling, what I’m trying to say is that I’ve found my way home.

Also, expect to see a LOT more art in the future.

Zee 🙂

Out and About: Onehunga Primary School Book Week

Children's Fiction, Events

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting with the staff and students at Onehunga Primary School. After every visit, I’m always re-inspired and motivated to get back into my own writing.

This time, there were two students in particular who really touched me. Here were their questions. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to know I was holding back the tears!

But how could I become an author?

What if you’re not good at anything?

The first question was asked by a girl who came up to me after the Q&A session. I told her that an author was basically someone with a book published, so to become an author you write a story, you get feedback, you edit until you’re happy with it, and you publish it. Case closed. I don’t think she was quite convinced, but I can hope that I’ve planted a seed of possibility.

It re-inspired me to get into my non-fiction art book, I am an Artist, because people need to know that being a creative isn’t just for the chosen few; we should all be able to find and nurture our creative souls (and yes, I believe we all have one).

The second question was asked during the Q&A. I thought it courageous to be able to ask this in front of his peers, but more than anything I remembered the times that I had asked myself that question – there’s nothing I’m good at, so why bother? My advice was to find things that he enjoyed doing, find the people who liked it, and let other people worry about whether it was good or not.

Obviously this is advice that I try to tell myself every day!


From the Onehunga Primary School Newsletter

(I also had a session booked at New Windsor Primary School, but I’ve been sick so I had to postpone. I’m looking forward to visiting them on Thursday!)


In the studio: Immersing myself in my unique purpose


Heads up – this is a LONG post! There’s a lot of learning going on in my life, all the time. But from time to time I have an aha! moment, when something that’s been simmering percolates into a tangible, understood idea.

I’ve said several times, to myself and in conversations, that when I focus on my own work – and the purpose behind said work – then I’m happy. I have an unfortunate habit of letting other people’s ideas get in the way sometimes, and waylay my enthusiasm.

Recently I saw an old post on Facebook:


The two important bits:

  1. Use of the word fun.
  2. The apparent creative energy.

Well, those two things have been evading me lately, though I’m sure they tried. I just wasn’t a willing recipient. Well, now I am, and it’s precisely because of one thing: I’m focusing on MY purpose.

Why am I making this project? Who is it for? That’s what matters.

I’m writing I am an Artist because I want to de-mystify the artist career, and show it for what it is: something anyone (who wants to) can do, at any age, in any situation. It’s for children who kinda sorta want to be an artist but don’t think they can, and adults who used to be that child.

I’m writing my fiction series to get all these crazy – and important-to-me – ideas out of my head, in a tangible form, for other people to interact with. They’re for children who are tired of being spoken down to, but still want an exciting read. They’re to get people thinking and creating and philosophising.

I’m painting to share my emotions, my losses and my spiritual journey. As Louise Phyn said in the latest (wo)manpower zine: the more personal you make something, the more universal it is. So I’m going deeply personal for my own sake, and to resonate with the emotions of others. We are not alone in the world.

I’m making my (wo)manpower zines because I like the idea of fanzines, but I’m way more impressed with women I know in my life than I am by celebrities, and I reckon you guys should know about them too. Not only are they talented, strong and creative, they’re also inspiring, humble – and just plain nice.

I’m doing the annual NZ Young Writers’ Anthology for similar reasons to I am an Artist: there is no reason why children can’t be writers now. Their work has a different quality and style to adults, and is often more raw, but that’s exactly what I love about it. Let’s forget this ‘when I grow up’ business – we all know that we don’t really ever grow up, anyway.

There a couple more projects I haven’t touched on here, but I think this is enough for one day!

And now, back to writing.

From the Bookshelf: Singing Bones & Daydreams for Night

News, Uncategorized

I don’t buy (new) print books for myself often, mostly because they’re pricey here in NZ, but last week at the bookshop a new book came in that caught – and held – my attention and, more importantly, my imagination.

daydreams for night

Its title, Daydreams for Night, is fitting. The stories are strange, snapshot tales, that have a real dreamscape quality to them. Some of them give you a shiver, and others just fire up your own imagination.  They’re accompanied by illustrations – spot illustrations and a two-page spread for each vignette.

singing bones

The other book is one I’ve had my eye on since last Christmas, but just couldn’t justify spending money on. By Shaun Tan (who illustrated The Arrival), it’s called Singing Bones and is a collection of vignettes from fairytales, accompanied by minimalist clay sculptures. To me, it’s as if the simple clay sculptures, and the few words of each vignette, form the ‘bones’ of each story.

What fascinates me about these stories, other than the pure strangeness of them, is how much they can imply in so few words. The mood, and possiblities, are conveyed concisely and with grace. Stunning books, that would be great on any coffee table (or like mine, which are within arm’s reach on my desk).

And they’ve inspired me to write my own (well, combined with the pieces of poetry / prose from Chris Mahan that pop up on my Twitter timeline). And so, I bought them, and I am working on a zine of slightly-dark vignettes and slightly-more-dark illustrations. More on this in the next post, where I’ll get you up to date with my current projects.

The most important person in my life [reblog]

Thoughts & Ramblings

I originally posted this reflection on my old blog, but I’d like to bring it over here to share with my new readers – and re-share with my old ones. I had begun a daily writing challenge, and the prompt for the day was:

“Who’s the most important person in your life — and how would your day-to-day existence be different without them?”

The first person I think of in response to this prompt is Pa. Though no longer a physical part of my life, it would be blatantly dishonest to claim any other figure as more important than this one man.

Pa (the little chubby one in the middle) with his siblings, before being shipped off to India to live with his Aunt & Uncle, upon the death of his mother.

Pa (the little chubby one in the middle) with his siblings, before being shipped off to India to live with his Aunt & Uncle, upon the death of his mother.

Pa (or more correctly, “Cuthbert Douglas Southcombe”) is my granddad – the only grandparent I really got to know, and a man who had been living on this earth for so long I took it as truth that he would always be there. For me, growing up as a child in the nineties with fast food, computers, and other first-world goodies, a birth year of 1917 was basically forever ago. As far as I was concerned, Pa was timeless.

From weekly walks to the local library, to the ins and outs of chess, to retold adventures of jungle and desert (though the truth may have been bent on occasion), Pa was the cornerstone of my being. He taught me so much of what I know now, and what I live for, that I cannot even begin to imagine what my day-to-day existence would be without him.

However, this is the challenge put forth today, and so I shall try. Pa had many, many stories to tell – as many elderly folk do – and as I got older, his stories got deeper, darker, and gave me more than a little glimpse into the life of an English-soldier-immigrant, but a real taste of some of the bigger issues. As the harsh realities of his life story dawned on my consciousness, my admiration for Pa grew. He upheld righteousness in the face of adversity (in solitude if necessary), and he did everything with a smile, a wink, and a good sense of humour. On reflection, my motto in life may be: what would Pa do?

Without this influence, this taste of hardship (albeit second-hand), I might have been inclined to take the luxuries of the first-world Western lifestyle for granted – or at least, more so than I do now. For even with his influence, a safe place to sleep at night (or indeed, a place to sleep at all), a half-decent meal, and copious amounts of tea are almost an expectation.


Pa also held a genuine respect for multiculturalism – something we are grappling with even now. Though raised in English colonies (in both Kenya and India), Pa never spoke of anyone as lesser than him – at least based on race or background. The people he spoke of with distaste were those who committed wrongs, did not have respect for others, or did not seem to have common sense. He did, however, talk about some of his friends and family who treated others as lesser than themselves, and it was always with a hint of guilt and shame, as if he was at fault for their errors in judgement.

Throughout my life, I have had a tendency to be quick to judge – often fairly, but based on nothing but first impression and ‘vibe’. Pa taught me to look for the good in people and to respect others and their cultures. Inadvertently, he also taught me not to take on the blame for others’ shortcomings. As humans, we each have our strengths and our limitations: one’s own burden is enough.

Essentially, Pa helped me to become a wholesome being; someone with worth beyond her self-vision, years beyond her age. Though frailty of body and old age eventually took its toll, it is not uncommon for me, especially when making decisions against the grain, to take solace in knowing that Pa would be proud of me.