Time has flown since I set up my new home and blog here at Michelle Seelig HQ three months ago (to the day), and yet I don’t really feel as though I have settled in yet.
So I thought we could get a bit more intimate by inviting you into my life over the past month. The visual parts of my month can of course be seen on Facebook or on my Instagram account but so much of what goes on behind the scenes and finds its way into my work and life happens in my head in quieter, private moments, so here is a look at how it evolves.
Grab a cuppa, have a read and I would love you to leave a comment below with a question for me to address next time.
1. What I have been working on…
It’s probably no surprise that I am someone who reflects on my life experiences visually. I have always kept a drawing journal that I sketch in at the end of each day. It comes with me everywhere so that no matter where I am I can reflect and process things. It is an important aspect of my creativity. It’s where I think visually. Themes emerge. Ideas form. It’s a safe place to experiment and fail. It’s also where my work dictates what comes next (and I listen).
The next part of my process is taking these visual ideas and bringing them to their fullest fruition, and this is where I am currently at. My journals are now brimming with enough material and consistent themes to begin the building phase. The journal entries are being reworked into a series of large charcoal drawings. Despite the roadblocks that come up when trying to resolve a piece I am working on, this part is a joy.
2. Life changing event….
The last few weeks have been extremely challenging for my entire family. It has presented us with opportunities to grow, learn and look life straight between the eyes. This month saw the passing of my beautiful grandfather. He died as he lived – with bravery and strength. He truly loved life and despite the generosity of a full, healthy 97 year long life, he still wanted more. He is an inspiration to me and it is a privilege to be able to travel alongside someone during this poignant part of their journey. It was heart-breaking, confronting and extremely intimate but I am so grateful to have been there, holding his hand and whispering in his ear. Sadness, pride, anger and a big dose of reality have been part of this experience which has naturally sent ripples through so many aspects of our lives. It is taking time to really absorb the impact both his life and death have had on me but I do know that I will greatly miss the example of his optimism and unerring self-confidence.
3. Things I am proud of….
In the absence of my grandfather we are trying to establish new family traditions. I hosted two big family dinners at our house this month and in doing so it feels as though the baton has been passed on to me. Overnight the responsibilities of each generation has changed, and so the ripples continue to be felt.
4. Lifestyle changes….
Now that Melbourne mornings are getting lighter earlier it has been easier to resume a more regular morning meditation practice. This really helps me stay focused on the bigger picture which in turn helps me avoid either getting stuck in the minutiae or caught in the overwhelm.
I am also getting back into running and incorporating more intensity into my regular exercise routine. It feels good to push myself physically and the endorphin rush helps.
5. Studio routine ….
I have managed to reconfigure my week to free up 2 full, uninterrupted studio days. I also have irregular afternoons during the week in the studio, but having a larger chunk of regular, dedicated time is so much more productive.
6. What I am reading…..
Lately I find myself seeking out my weekly horoscope (in multiple publications) and any astrological predictions. There is comfort in being told it all turns out ok in the end.
7. Best podcast I listened to this month (and recommend)….
Tony Robbins Podcast on The 6 Human Needs. Tony discusses the true motivating factors behind our thoughts and actions -certainty, significance, variety, love/connection, growth and contribution – and interestingly they can often undermine our goals. It has made me really rethink my course of action in terms of art, business and life. Well worth a listen.
8. Best artist date this month….
I am spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing the best of the artist dates this month. I was lucky enough to see both the Archibald Portrait Prize and the Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera exhibition in Sydney earlier this month. (There were some beautiful and recognisable paintings on show, but the photos and videos of Frida and Diego demonstrated a passion and strength of character that really brought the work to life).
The real highlight of the month however was stumbling upon John Olsen’s artist talk at his retrospective show at the National Gallery of Victoria here in Melbourne. The 88-year-old Australian artist is living a rich, creative life and is still so passionate about art. He painted a romantic picture of the early days of art in Australia without being sentimental. He was greatly encouraging of those who marched to the beat of their own drum and his wisdom and zest for life was truly inspiring. I found comfort in his words and experience and could have listened to his stories for hours. It felt like the passing on of knowledge from the elders.
9. Greatest parenting challenge…
Staying calm and centred whilst my eldest daughter set off on a challenging hike in the bush for 3 days. Rock-climbing, abseiling, traversing narrow mountain ridges. There was no reception, no contact, no toilets, no rubbish bins, just a back-pack, a tent and whatever wits she had on her at the time. She did of course return home safely, had a brilliant time, was better for the experience and no longer feels scared getting up to use the bathroom in the dark, knowing there are no feral goats lurking nearby.
10. Secret pleasure…
One thing I love is weeknights spent at home with my family without any work or social commitments. Once early evening hits (or earlier if the day allows) my guilty pleasure is to change into my PJ’s. It’s a signal that I am not leaving the house one more time (for anything!) and I am officially home for the night.
And that, my friends, is my month in a nutshell.
Adela Dabscheck says
Absolutely beautiful Michelle, I had a cry and feel better for it
He would have been very touched that he had contributed to the positive way we all look at life.
Thank you Adela. He touched many. xx
It’s so difficult to let your children grow up and learn things on their own. Thrilled you don’t have feral goats I have dealt with feral pigs in the past . I reflect back on my youth prior to cell phones and phone booths out on the farm . Life is so different I think getting unplugged off grid might be healing. What say you.
I totally agree Gaeyl (and remember those days too!). It’s an important conversation. I think the first step is definitely taking some time out to reconnect with oneself, but the bigger challenge, particularly for the next generation, is learning how to manage the temptation to engage/respond when technology is ever-present
Karen Watson says
I really enjoyed reading this post. Thank you. I am so sorry to hear about your grandfather passing away but wow what a wonderful man he sounds like. I lost my mum earlier this year very suddenly so I know what an interesting ride grief can be. I love that you have started the new tradition. You will be a wonderful baton keeper.
Reading about your oldest daughter also made me smile. It seems like only yesterday thst we shared a classroon and the great sock puppet epic. What a great experience for her.
Your guilty pleasure sounds exactly like mine…just throw in a bit of Chocolate.
Sending love your way. More blogs please!
Thank you Karen and I am sorry to hear of your loss. Losing one’s mother must raise a lot of challenging and confronting life questions.I hope you are travelling well.
The reminder of the sock puppets made us all laugh, and I am pleased to report they live a quieter life these days!
And….here’s to chocolate.
MC Milhaupt says
Thank you for sharing such a heart-felt update, Michelle. It’s nice to see where other people have been and are headed. I envy you your dedicated art time, and will do everything in my power to seek that out myself.
Condolences on the loss of your grandfather. Our family had the pleasure of having grandparents live in our home for extended periods of time. There is nothing like gaining knowledge from an older generation!
Please keep sharing when the spirit moves you!
Thank you MC for your words and for sharing your own experience.
Yes, I have really come to appreciate the wisdom that comes from witnessing so much across a life-time, and there is much to be learnt from a life well-lived.
As for art-making time, I think it is a gradual process. The more we do, the bigger our art practice becomes, and in turn the more time we seem to need to satisfy the hungry monster. I recommend feeding the ‘monster’ regularly and in turn its appetite will drive you to seek/find more time.
Be patient, but mostly enjoy the making process.
Let me know how you go.