a note on International Women’s Day

mike-wilson-113304Image via Unsplash

On Sunday, I was lucky enough to see actor Geena Davis speak at this year’s All About Women event here in Sydney. Davis spoke about her experience in Hollywood and the underrepresentation of women in film and television. Her address was funny, informative, and eye-opening. But it wasn’t statistics about the lack of gender parity on screen that struck me the most. (more…)

just keep moving: lessons learned completing my first City2Surf

Completing the City2Surf has been on my ‘Sydney bucket list’ since moving here six years ago. For those who are unfamiliar, the City2Surf is an annual 14 kilometer run/walk starting in the city center at Hyde Park and finishing on Bondi Beach. It seems like everyone in the Sydney area has participated in this event at least once. The 80,000-some participants at each year’s event certainly attest to its popularity and status as a Sydneysider right of passage. (more…)

7 things I learned at the All About Women festival


After discovering the Sydney Writers’ Festival and Graphic last year, I’ve been on the lookout for similar events. All About Women, with its feminist bent, sounded right up my alley. Instead of dabbling with a single talk like I did during SWF and Graphic, I opted to jump right in and attend three AAW talks to get a real feel for the event. (more…)

sydney writers’ festival

swfI’ve lived in Sydney for nearly four years now, and somehow the Sydney Writers’ Festival escaped my notice until a month ago. This event is a must for anyone who loves writing or reading. The week long schedule is packed with thought provoking discussion from authors writing in all different genres.

Not knowing what to expect, I only bought tickets to one event. This was a mistake. The hour long discussion I attended, A Life of True Crime, left me eager to read the books discussed by the three authors profiled (The Tainted Trial of Farah Jama by Julie Szego, Have You Seen Simone? by Virginia Peters, and One of Us by Åsne Seierstad). I can only imagine how much longer my to-read list would be if I’d attended more sessions. I also regret not immediately booking a ticket to see author and mortician Caitlin Doughty discuss her memoir, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematorium. I went back and forth about whether I wanted to go into the city two days in a row, and when I finally decided to just do it, the event was sold out. (Yes, I’m well aware my tastes are on the morbid side.)

Next year I plan to make a day of it. Or maybe two. I might even take a day off work. (There were several events I wanted to attend, but didn’t because they fell on a weekday.) Though my interests this year were purely in non-fiction discussions, I’m interested in hearing more from fiction writers as I work on my own story. I also never know where I’ll get my next creative idea, and the diversity of topics presented lends itself to learning something new or unexpected.

I’m glad I finally found the Sydney Writers’ Festival, even if I only dipped my toes in the water at this year’s event. Now that it’s on my radar, I’ll commit to a fuller schedule next time.

on drawing again

pastel still lifestill life | pastel, charcoal and gesso on kraft paper

I used to draw a lot. Majoring in illustration meant it was a priority for four years of my life. I spent hours in the classroom and at home drawing and painting everything: hands, feet, still lives, nude models, cartoons, doodles. It was necessary practice, and often part of my homework.

After graduation creating art fell by the wayside. After moving I simply did not have the space to set up a studio. Drawing and painting can be very messy and often means leaving that mess out for several days (or weeks) while the piece comes together. Creating in a shared space is incredibly difficult, so it became a lot easier to work on less space consuming projects. Graphic and web design became my new passions. Each project was nicely contained to my hard drive, I could work virtually anywhere with zero cleanup required.

I absolutely love working digitally, but it often feels like something was missing. I’ve always loved working with my hands, creating something physical that can be touched and held afterward feels special. A second move meant I now had studio space, and I started crafting and scrapbooking to fill this void. But I rarely picked up a pencil or charcoal. I started paintings, but never got past the underdrawing. My passion for drawing and painting wasn’t there.

Late last year my husband signed us up for a one day drawing workshop at the Art Gallery of NSW. He also likes to draw cartoons, and thought this would be a fun activity for us to try.

Drawing again for the first time in over five years was strange. I felt stiff at first. My hand wasn’t doing what my mind wanted it to. After ten minutes I realized I was holding the pencil wrong. Suddenly I could hear every drawing and painting instructor I had in college saying in unison, “Draw from the wrist!” Things went smoother from there, but I was reminded of another saying a professor used to often say, “Everyone has 10,000 bad drawings in them. You have to keep practicing until you get to the good ones.” I was still in the under 10k range.

Maybe I’m being a little hard on myself. I do rather like my pastel still life. Once I started holding the tools correctly the drawing came together well. I especially loved the colors, though my use of compliments outed me as someone who’s “done this before” to my fellow workshop goers. And the smell of workable fixative being sprayed took me right back to my college days.

Will I keep drawing? I’d like to. I have the space now, I just need to set about reacquiring all the tools I left behind when I moved to Australia. Getting my hands dirty again was a lot more fun than I expected it to be. I also have many ideas floating around in my head for drawings and paintings, many gift ideas. I guess my 2015 resolution is to get on that. Christmas is less than 12 months away…

post-free comic book day wrap up


Yesterday I participated in my first Free Comic Book Day!

For those not in the know, every year on the first Saturday in May comic shops around the world give away comic books and other freebies. This is a great event meant to promote the industry and local shops. It was great seeing so many different readers gathering together to celebrate the art form.

When my husband first asked if I’d be interested in going this year my mind immediately went to Archie Comics. The Riverdale gang were my first introduction to comic books as a kid (along with Barbie, Scrooge McDuck, and Casper the Friendly Ghost), so they’ve always held a special place in my heart. I’ve also been impressed with stories of how the books have changed with the times, most notably by introducing LGBT friendly story lines.

So of course when I discovered that an Archie Digest was available today I knew I’d be choosing it. I look forward to getting reacquainted with Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead and the rest. I’m also excited to discover some new characters (Guardians of the Galaxy) and learning a bit about the source material of some of my new favorite films (Dredd, via 2000 A.D.).

Only 364 days until the next Free Comic Book Day…