Archive for April, 2010

Being famous, its not that bad

April 30, 2010

I grew up in a household where the idea of being famous was looked down upon.  Oh, it would be terrible!  Not being able to go about your daily routine, having every move scrutinized.  It would be a hideous thing.  But what we never did back then, was distinguish between different types of being famous.  Sure, there is the world wide household name where you cannot move without a horde of paparazzi following your every move.  Where every little tidbit of silliness is used to sell magazines.  But lets face it, that kind of famous is a rarity, up there with winning lotto twice, on consecutive weeks.  Even Sam Neil, probably our most world famous face can still go about his business by and large without being too disturbed.  But what I’ve learned over the years is that fame comes on a scale and the kind I’ve gained is actually quite nice, thank you very much.  I’m by no means a household name.  My picture certainly doesn’t splash across billboards, or grace tabloid magazine covers.  But I have written a bestseller and I am a well known artist and I did get a minute of attention for selling Speedrenting.  All those things, you could argue has lead to a smattering of fame, which I have to admit, I rather enjoy.  Thing I enjoy is that it is a marker for how far I’ve come.  I look back 20 years ago, when I was thirty and none of those things were even near the radar.  Then 10 years ago and they started to be on the radar.  And now, I see them as a demonstration to others that humans are remarkable things. They can conjure up reality from the workings of their imagination.  Its a lovely reminder to me that all those people who have heard of me or know my work have in front of them a lovely example for themselves that their dreams too can be achieved.  That brings a smile to my face.  It also makes me realize that I have a responsibility to keep expanding myself.  Fame, I imagine, would only be difficult if you lost sense of integrity.  If you lost sight of the fundamental principle that we are all responsible for our actions, for how we respond to our circumstances.  If we somehow swung over into the world of thinking something ‘unjust’ had been done to us that we had no power to react to.  Now that would be grim.  But it keeps me honest. It keeps me clear about who I am, what I have a choice about (how I react to things, including my own emotions, and other peoples actions) and what I don’t have a choice about (how other people choose to live their lives).  So I embrace my fame, not that it makes a difference to who I am (my family and friends are great reminders of that) but to keeping me real about my responsibilities as a human.  We are blessed, being part of this race.


Physical bodies

April 29, 2010

The other pleasing side effect of the ocean, that I swim in on a daily basis, is the health and vitality that my body has recieved.  As I swim in the soft, soothing, stress free ocean, opening up my pores to the abunance that it offers up and letting my cells fill with love, wealth, health, energy, freindship, or whatever else the want, I imagine the strength and power recieved by my body at large.  Here I am, 50, and full of life. I’ve never been healthier.  I haven’t had a cold for years. Years and years even.  Back at the turn of the century I went through a phase of colds every three or four months.  And if it wasn’t a cold I was injured.  There was something physically ailing me almost all the time.  I haven’t experienced that for such a long time.  Now, I run the routeburn every year, always under 5 hours.  It’s hard yes, but I recover quickly, have very few aches and pains and generally feel good for it.  My joints are strong, my muscles wiry, my lungs bouyant and my back sturdy.  I’ve become one of those people who just get fitter and fitter with age. It feels like I’m going to be able to be active until the day I die.  The kinds of foods I desire has changed over the years.  I crave vibrant, fresh foods.  I like to eat fruit straight from the tree.  My picking garden is all organic.  My favourite way to cook is to pick fresh veges and herbs right out of the ground and use them then and there.  Graeme goes fishing at least three or four times and week, so our diet is rich in fish; snapper, flounder, gurnad, red cod are all staples on our plate.  I still eat chocolate and puddings and biscuits and cream and butter and all those fabulous foods.  But I don’t wish for them like I used to.  They are more of a delicious after thought that are real desire.  I also have gained motivation to run and ride and get out and do physical activity. I’m much more peaceful about it these days. I don’t have training plans.  I never push myself.  I do what I want to do and that, strangly is almost everyday.  I love to run with Maddie after school.  We run around the hills in Queenstown. Sometimes we will head up the lake and run up the Routeburn.  Or if we are in Waiheke, we will run around the coast.  Then we will go down to Palm beach and have a dip in the sea.  She has taught me how to appricate the cold sea after a hard run.  Its always a quick dip, but we charge in, shouting at the top of our lungs, then charge back out whooping and laughing.  We bundle ourselves into the car and head home for a good hot shower.  Love those days with her. Such a treat.

An ocean of love

April 28, 2010

This is how I started thinking about love a few years ago. Probably about ten years ago, truth be told.  I made up an ocean.  My ocean is not like most oceans, or perhaps I should say it is like all the best parts of all the oceans we know.  It is warm, it is vast, bigger than the eye can see.  It is soft.  It is always sunny at my ocean.  The sand, if you ever do see the shore, is white and delicate and soft between the toes.  The one difference other oceans have to mine is that you can breathe under water in my ocean.  I go there often.  I swim around and watch all the wild life there.  Its healthy and fresh and full of beautiful bright fish.  When I’m in the water I know that nothing can harm me.  I can breathe, I can be with all the other animals and we feel safe with each other.  No one needs to compete for anything in this ocean.  When I swim in my ocean I know that every drop of water in it has more energy, more abunance, more wealth, more love than anything else on earth.  More energy than the hottest ray of sun. More wealth than the richest person, more love than the biggest, lovingest happiest extended family.  And all of that is available to me in the ocean.  All I need to do is open the pores on my skin and it all flows into me.  The love, the wealth, the intelligence, the security.  Whatever I feel might be lacking in my life I just open my pores and let it flow into me and through me.  When Maddie was a baby and I felt lacking in sleep, I’d go to the ocean and feel the rest of a good nights sleep flow into me.  When I felt the squeeze of financial lack I’d go to my ocean and imagine riches flowing into my pores.  Abundance is always available in my ocean.  And over the years of visiting my ocean I’ve noticed that I stopped ‘trying’ to get things.  I stopped fretting, or working hard.  I relaxed.  I believed good things were on there way.  I observed the fruits of my ocean flowing towards me in the real world.  My art works became increasingly popular, commanding larger and larger prices.  Speedrenting took off around the globe.  My relationship with Big G grew deeper and deeper.  My ability to parent Maddie became more second nature and less thought through.  Houses got built.  Holidays got taken.  Fun was had.  Laughter peels regularly from my surroundings. Everywhere I go I’m followed by fun and people who are interested in creating good times.  We often have a dozen or so people arriving for a weekend.  Gorgeous meals are created (sometimes by ourselves and sometimes we hire a chef).  Family is never far.  Not just G myself and Maddie.  But the whole Whanau.  Mum, Dad, their respective people and other children, Ellie, all the respective steppies, dating back to when we first started accumulating them.  G’s family.  Uncles, Aunties.  And then sometimes it is just us.  The three of us.  Lovely.  Just simply divine.


April 27, 2010

Liz and I began to get a group of mentors, or advisors really, around us in the early 10’s for speedrenting.  Once speedrenting had sold, we had formed such a strong bond with each other, we realised that haveing a group of adviors was necessary in business, always.  Now that we are onto our second business, we still have that same group.  We know each others strenghs and weakness, are totally straight with each other and deal with the highest level of integrity that I’ve every known.  I read an article in queenstown when we were down there doing the routeburn about Geoff Ross, who had created the 42 below brand and we immediately asked him to be an advisor for us.  We knew right from the start that he would be inundated with requestes, so we would need to stand ourselves apart.  Liz simply rang and said, what would it take for you to be an advisor to us.  We have a new invention that is going in global in bars around the world and we want you on our board.  What do we need to do to make that happen?  He gave us a list of requirements, we went away and a week later gave them all to him.  We had to haggle a bit with him, but in the end he came around.  We went to see him in his herne bay house and over coffee hatched a plan.  Afterward Liz and I sat in her car and whooped with delight.  Wow.  We just knew at that point that SPeedrenting was going to be a global success.  He pin pointed a couple of issues right there that we knew we needed to work on, but it wasn’t that stuff.  It was the how or we were going to do it, it was just that all of a sudden it was a given.  It was like the moment you know you are going to loose weight.  You might have known for years ‘who’ too.  But there is a point at which it switches in  your mind and you know its a given.  That was the moemnt for us.  Sitting in Lizzie’s little red alpha.  Maddie at home with Noelene, Grameme on the building site and there we were, the wold changed.  From then, the work got fast and furious.  We got very clear about what it would take.  More time that he had imagined.  More energy than we had anticipated, but it folded out in front of us and we set about it.  I look back on that time with a fondness in my heart for the young woman I was then.  I have empathy for her now.  She was a courner cutter back then.  A bit dilusioned by her positivity.  These days when I take on a project I tend to see what I will need to do to make it happen. I’m still very positive about how things can work out.  I still always look at what is possible, but back then I needed to learn to be a bit more mindful of what was actually happening around me and prepare for it.  I love that I’m moved on from there.

An unshakable belief in myself

April 21, 2010

When I close my eyes at night, before I go to sleep, I like to picture who I am.  I call this my unshakable belief in myself.  Of course its not who I am in the spiritual sense, but who I am from a playful, this is what I imagine my life to be point of view.  The spiritual while probably the most important to me is what is behind all of the obvious stuff.  The painter, the writer, the mother, the businesswoman.  That’s all just a game.  A fasade for the real stuff in the background.  The forgiver, the observer, the lover, the timeless, eternal being.  The bit that connects us all to each other.  The bit that when all else moves away is steadfast, dependable, beutiful and peaceful.  But its not that stuff that I rest my mind on just before I go to bed.  Its the game.  Its the creativity that I ponder on for a minute..  Who am I choosing to be.  I’ve become more and more certain that who we are is a matter of choice.  That what looks like unyielding circumstance is just an illusion. One that most people, still to this day, although its changing rapidly, believe is the truth. Oh how the world can twist itself in knots over the truth.  I’m about as interested in the truth as I am in dental surgery.  Anyway, I stray.  I let my mind wander to my belief in who I am.  I imagine the fun I have as a painter.  I see the exhibitions unfold in front of me.  I see the people buying my paintings. I see my houses that Justin and Lou designed.  I see the holidays I’ve taken with Jane and David hiking in the european alps.  I see the delight on my loved ones faces when I offer them gifts, unexpected and delighted in.  I see myself skiing in montains full of adrenaline.  I see myself writing in at a mac looking out over a view that toches every nerve in my body.  I imagine Graeme and I learning new things about each other even in our ninties, giggling, talking, loving each other more every year that passes.  I see the world I live in become one of possibilities, of challenge of excitement, of grace and determination.  I look back over the last ten years, when I started writing every day and I see how important those few mintues when I close my eyes and go to sleep have become.  I anticipate them each night.  I climb into bed excited and thrilled that I can take that time.  My sleeping has become deep and restful and nurturing.  I wake everymore full of energy.  I have the right decisions to make in front of me and I make them easily.  I have let go of fretting or fear.   I take on way more than I know how to manage.  I enjoy challenge and excitement.  I surround myself with happy, successful people.  I wouldn’t give those ten years up for anything.  50 is a blessing.

Being a business woman

April 20, 2010

I know.  Being an artist and a business person is not always thought of in the same person.  I went through a phase of thinking maybe I didnt believe it myself. That maybe why my art suffered back, all those years ago was because their was an integrity clash of creating paintings for the love of the art and being a business person interested in sales, marketing, employment, growing a brand. The machanics of how and why a business worked was, and still is facinating to me.  Over the years I have learnt that to pretend a part of yourself is not true, or doesn’t exist has way less integrity that thinking you have to fit into a box labled what-most-people-are.  Or the other box called this-is-the-way-its-usually-done.  I had to forgo all those social norms, stay ture to myself and plow ahead like I knew and believed in myself.  Sometimes, I’ll admit I had to play the game of acting like I believe in myself, but the reality would always catch up with the game. So I played it more often.  Now when I sit down at my beautiful desk overlooking the hauraki gulf islands, working on my mac computer sitting in my eames chair I love doing the business side of my work.  I love the particuarly type of creativity that business requires.  The steadfast reminder that there is no right way, that there is always something you can improve on.  And I love sitting there knowing that later on in the day I will get to be in my studio and paint.  I get to engage in two types of totally different creativity, that use two parts of the brain and build on both.  That is a blessing.  And these days I feel very comfortable with both.  In fact I have seen how both has totally instucted each other in the way they unfold.  Not many people can see how my love of business has helped me be an artist over and above the becomeing successful in my fame and fortune as an artist, but really that had had very little to do with it.  Becuase, truth is, its other people that made that happen. no.  What really was at the heart of my business skills impacting on my paintings was the business lesson and prinicple that integrity always wins over.  Just like a painting comes from within and you have to allow it to be painted, so to is that true in business. Sure I’ve leart techniques and skills in business, but it was learning that the buseinss was inside us and all we had to do was allow it to unfold and stay true to ourselves while we were doing it, tursting the process, trusting our instincts, being honest, working hard.  All those lessons come from my business world.  And look what I’ve created.  The global phenomenon, Speedrenting.  The three boards I’m on at the moment.  And not to mention all those little start up companies that I was involved in all those years ago.

x3 artists

April 19, 2010

Im’ thinking about my Wright, Blackmore, Jean show today.  Its our tenth annual annisery this year.  the paintings i’m doing for it this year are like none other that I’ve done to date.  Sure, you can see some of my signiture style in them.  The chotic versus the deliberate.  The spiritual versus the considered.  Geometric versus organic.  But that is where the similarty stops.  For the first time I am doing a show of 15 canvases all exactly the same size.  1200x1200mm.  15 large squares.  The colours this year are different.  They will follow the pace of the seasons. So that if you start at one end, you will feel yourself move from Spring to summer to autum to winter and then back to spring.  But not traditional colours of those seasons, more the light of those seasons.  The summer ones, the light falls heavily and from directly above.  The winter ones fall less directly and much more gentelly.  A cooler less glary light.  The spring ones fell romantic and free.  The autumn has a sense of winding down.  Easing back, slowing up.  Those paintings didn’t take long to come out of me.  The thinking about them, the watching the seasons, the painting practices took a year at least, but the actual 15 for the show just flowed from my hands without too much thought.  I love that.  The energy just working through me without having to get my brain involved.  That is what I call a spiritual experience.  The show this year is in Auckland, in the new gallery up by the old museum.  It is a near perfect space for three artists to show in.  Light, warm and remarkably quiet for a blank walled, shinny floored space.  I don’t know how they have done it.  But unlike many gallery spaces, you walk in and feel safe.  Almost like a angle has wrapped its wings around you and you’ll be cared for, every second you are in the room.  There are no awkward moments in that gallery.  No ego’s come in.  Noone who pretends they have the upper hand of the art world.  Its all appreciation of the works.  Its all about everyone working towards the same end; a better world for all who inhibit it – without thinking that anyone has a better opionion about that that anyone else.  When I found out the show was going to be there I opened a bottle of wine and had a celebatory drink.  Not only will get to enjoy seeing people enjoy my work, I’ll get to enjoy seeing poeple enjoy being in that building.  That could well have contributed to the way the paintings allowed themselves to be painted.  They knew they would have such a wonderful start to their lives, and they knew that the poeple seeing them would do so from a point of absoulte trust in the world.  That show sold out the opening night.  I’ll never get sick of that feeling.  What a privilege to be part of.

My studio.

April 18, 2010

My Waiheke studio is one of my favourite places in the world.  After we sold Hauraki Road and bought the land by Mudbrick, one of my first instructions to Justin when designing our house there was I wanted a Studio designed to compliment my work. One that I’d walk into and feel creativity pulling at my fingers.  One I’d walk into and know paintings were sitting there waiting to be painted.  It needed to be light and warm and airy and quite and energetic.  All of which equally important.  Oh, and did I mention large.  So here I am now sitting in my award winning studio, where I’ve painted a couple a award winning paintings looking back on the process that got me here, and a sense of satisfaction courses through my viens.  Once we had bought the land we took our time getting the house built.  We wanted to make sure that the design we built had everything we wanted.  Firstly Just and Lou came up to the site and we took three days eating picnics there, camping there, walking around it.  We even hired a helicopter and flew over it.  We drove around every road to look at all the angles.  On the last day the whole family came for a picnic lunch.  Those three days were one of the best times we spent there.  We talked about all we wanted from the site and I in my mind took a whole lot of thought about where I wanted my studio, and what I wanted it to be.  Graeme of course built the house with another builder. It took almost a year.  But we lived onsite in a caravan for about 8 months of that.  And I moved into the studio after about 4 motnhs.  It was one of the first rooms completed.   We put a sign up on the road, put my gallery/studio sign up on the door and almost immediateately we got loads of poeple into the gallery.  It soon became clear that having other artists take residencies there was going to be a great way to keep the space fresh contribute to the art community and forward the Waiheke brand of being an art destination.  We’ve had a lot of fun over the years with the resdients.  I think if I never saw this studio again, I’ll always be able to remember the smell of the paint and the grass mixing on the warm wind.  The light filtering through the high windows, bouncing around the tall walls.  The sound of my feet against the wooden floors.  Those memories will stay with me til the day i die.  Luckily, I’ll never have to rely on my memories. There really is no reason we should ever leave here.  Other than for time in Queenstown and our annual holidays.  My studio has become part of me, that is all I’m saying.  And its a part that I love.  I’m grateful to all that allowed it to be part of my life.

Cleaners. Love them.

April 17, 2010

Oh yes.  Cleaners. At 50 I guess I can guarantee that I’m never going to be a very clean person.  Not that I like dirt, but I’m just not someone who notices it as much as others.  I’d much rather have a tidy house than a clean one.  Clutter just about does my head in, buy I can walk past a grubby window for weeks.  And I know I’ve got a way bigger tollerance for clutter than some. Janey for example.  When I was in my 40’s being a better cleaner was something I toyed with the idea of becoming.  And then, hell, as my friend oliver brown said to me once. I”m perfectly happy paying someone to do things I love doing, why should I blink at paying someone to do stuff I hate.  Never a wiser word has been spoken. So now, I have a cleaner to do everything accept the washing. Which to this day I still love doing. Sometimes I get someone to do the ironing, cos I love the feeling of ironed sheets but I often do that myself too.  I find it peaceful and satifying. Cleaning the bathroom on the other hand has never been a source of pleasure.  We have the best cleaner in the world.  In fact I have two best cleaners in the world.  I have one in Waiheke and one in Queenstown and in both places, Myself and 4 other households employ her full time.  So she doesn’t have to go out and look for work.  She is fabulous. We give them holdiay pay and sick days etc.  She comes to each of our houses one day a week and does all sorts of things.  Mowes grass when need be.  Takes out trash. Windows.  Cleanes fridges, never lets towels go stale or shelves crumby.  My shoes are always lined up.  She notices when cushions get scruffy and goes to the supermarket when thing are getting low.  Hiring my cleaners was one of the turning points in my career. I knew that I had the ability to make a difference in the world – hiring other people etc.

A brush with fate

April 16, 2010

the world is conspiring to shower you with blessings. This has been my motto for years and years and it has also been my experience.  This solid, steadfast plod toward that which makes me tingle inside is what many journalists have written about for years.  My favourite article was the one in vanity fair.  Could not believe my ears when I got a call from them to say they were doing an article about me.  The angle was the way that I had, at a time of recession all those years ago got so many people to believe in the boom that was going on around me.  How my art started a small revolution that ended in a strong movement of artists.  It was another revolution caused by creative minds that will be discussed in history for years to come.  So there was vanity fair on the line and I was going to be photographed by annie Leiowiz herself.  Just about fell of my chair.  My idol.  Was going to take my photograph.  How cool was that.  So I flew to NY.  Stayed in a very cool little hotel in Soho – just down the road from Max Gimbletts house and they took my picture outside the museum of modern art, where they had just installed one of my paintings.  That was pretty cool.  Maddie came with me to NYC and we had a blast in the city after the work part of it was done.  We ate hotdogs in central park, spent hours at all the museums and art galleries, when to the movies, took the ferry out to see the big green statue of liberty, walked around central park, giggled at how bad the trump tower was and how hideous that kind of architure was, ate sushi at a tiny downstairs sushi bar on the east side, had lunch at the waldolf astoria to see if we could spot any celebs, took a million photos generally revelled in the city!  Oh, and of course we bought shoes.  Well, at least I did.  G went on a fishing trip at home, cities not being his thing.  It was fabulous to be just the girls.  Liz came and joined us for the last 3 days.  And when the article came out I had a small dinner in Queenstown with G and Maddie and a couple of friends who spent the night giggling at how there down to earth mate could end up in Vanity fair and the next day we all went mountain biking.  One of the best things about the article was that the next year my fundraising show in Melbourne made twice as much as it had in the past. I love that.  People started digging deeper to make a difference elsewhere.  That is the kind of thing that makes me look back on my life and feel satisfied at how I’ve lived.