posted on November 12, 2008 at 7:31 pm

beautiful summer morning here in terra australis
a sky including many blues
soft clouds seem to graze up there
from my window i see the palms n pines moving
i see the red roofs light up as the sun reaches them
eve kilbey silently slides out of bed and begins some homework
aurora kilbey the human bunny sleeps on
scarlet kilbey is also out for the count
looking like shes been king hit
and her mum sleeps next to her
gently breathing in a deep rhythm
on the drawing board is elektra
whom im doing a painting of
i certainly have 5 gorgeous daughters
the sort of girls i always was hoping to meet myself
kind intelligent n pretty
but fatherhood is fraught with little traps
not too much one way or the other
or you’ll lose it
you gotta take the middle path
just like old buddha used to say
an even keel
eve comes in looking for a lead pencil
i got red white black metallic n pastel pencils
but no lead….
aurora gets outta bed wearing a cartoon expression of dismay
aurora….what you looking like that for?
eve answers for her: she was tired!
aurora sits glumly sorting thru a huge box of buttons (!?)
it 5 to 7 in the morning
i hear a bus groan past up the street
i’m working on a portrait of elli
usual procedure
paint the white sheet black
someone said why not buy black paper?
you cant buy this paper in any other colour than white
besides i like the interaction sometimes …
i used to find drawing faces was hard
i was concentrating on lines to enclose spaces
thats not how real life looks
real life is shapes n surfaces in relativity to each other
not lines enclosing n defining spaces
but when we draw onto white
we try n represent it thus…which is hard
i try to forget its a face
and i look at all the planes and the way the light falls on them
so what i start with is
a general mass to represent the face
and where the light highlights features
let it all remain as abstract patches related to each other
elli has very regular features
ive found her very easy to “nail”
sometimes it takes a while to “nail” someone
that is
before you capture some essence
of what makes their face so recognizably them
i have found that perfect young faces
are easier to paint
ugly old faces
for many reasons
(tho not always as interesting)
beauty is a funny thing
it IS in the eye of the beholder
there is also classic beauty
ie that that michaelangelo strove to capture
the mimesis of the greeks
the statues of the gods
apollos straight nose
and his huge perfect eyes
his sweeping jaw
his broad brow
his long muscled neck
his curly blond hair
he is a classic handsome bastard
he would be any age or any place
i believe these proportions are easier to capture
than that of less perfect subjects
whose forms are more elusive to get down
elli is all tanned …almost the same colour as her tawny hair
and she has an enigmatic look on her face
a half smile that could become a sneer or a grin
nk points out that she looks a bit like that moaner liza
wonder if elli ‘ll end up in the loo-ve tho
there is a wonderful thing about being a human being
that is
if you do something often enough
you start to get better at it
now i been painting hard for 5 years
lots n lots n lots of paintings
the payoff starts to happen
jesus i’m starting to become a real bleatin’ artist
just because i persevered all that time
just like yoga
if you hit something everyday
a language
an instrument
a discipline
an endeavour
you’ll get better
suddenly in leaps n bounds
one day
you just go from ok to good
like suddenly figuring out how to ride rollerskates
or realising how to swim
or kiss
or kick a football….
so the rewards of perseverance
give us something to look forward to
i am getting older n uglier every day
but my yoga n painting are improving
actually now that they are improving
i care less about being fucking fifty four
than i would if i wasnt getting better at something
it excites me to paint because i dont know what
i might come up with now
now that ive put all the hard work in
i urge ye again n again
begin something
practice something
learn something
it will offset the passage of the years
i’m sitting here going
ok the bad news
in ten years time i will be 64
(will you still love me?)
which is olde beyond olde
imagine how good my yoga n painting will be then..!
so its like…not so bad
if i was just learning doing practicing nothing
then in 10 years time i’ll just be bloody older
n all those tv shows i watched
(instead of actually doing something)
will avail me of nought
so thats my plan
take on a load of things
and time can be yer friend
as well as yer enemy
(tho he’ll get ya in the end)
you can either go out
an old master
or an old couch potato
the choice is yours
im an overachiever by nature
and i produce a voluminous amount of stuff
you could too in yer spare time if you wanted
you do it for yerself
and if you dig it
others will too
if you dont
why wood any one else?
eve kilbey is getting real good at drawing
she should be
shes been going hard at it for about 6 years
so the rewards are starting to kick in
her pictures are grand in scope
and shes always inventing new flourishes
aurora k does complicated cartoons
of bunnies
living in hive like conditions
all with speech bubbles telling the story
on the fridge is the picture which tickled rickys fancy
the bunny band
the lead singer :” in the meadow where its green”
backing vox bunnies :” green green green”
all this practice the doodles have been (unwittingly) doing
their whole lives
will one day pay off
when they miraculously discover
that theyre really good at something
without realising its the years n years
they put in as kids
drawing bunnies n mermaids n fairies n horses
my kids experiment with making up songs too
auroras taking flute lessons
there should be no distance between them n creativity
evie especially entertains no doubts about herself
she expects to be able to do
whatever artistic or physical thing she wants
and lo she can
everyone reading this blog is interested in creativity
how to harness it
the answer is the same
as last time i was trotting out this rant
now even more emphatically
even if you cant draw or play an instrument
then write
its as easy as listening
to that voice in yer head
and writing it down
who knows?
you could be an absolute fucking genius
i know times are hard
believe me
i aint got a wardrobe full of new shoes
i got a blown up car n a debt to the A T O
i gotta dirty half dead laptop most basic old model
i got a little tv doesnt get most channels
i got a messy room full of junk
these must needs be our consolations
and thru them
perhaps a way to our creator
if you believe in that sort of thing
dont despair
you dont need that fancy stuff
there is no where i’d rather be
than at home
painting a picture
list’nin’ to music i love
better than restaurants n niteclubs n whatever
create or be damned then
or sit on the couch n watch telly
see what satisfies ya the most………

34 Responses to “treading water”

  1. avatar
    John | 12 November 2008 at 9:28 pm #

    “but fatherhood is fraught with little traps”

    Now you tell me…

    John Garratt

  2. avatar
    steve kilbey | 12 November 2008 at 9:35 pm #

    hey john g
    your traps will be different
    you wont see that theyre traps till yer in ’em!
    thats why theyre traps!

  3. avatar
    matt davison | 12 November 2008 at 9:41 pm #

    Thank's Slim Kilbee that's the purk I needed I kinda thought of SK live as a new experiment in art (the washed out fades, raw sound etc)..
    I ve lost my girls for the Time Being & and I spose the only way of gett 'em back is the old 'get It happening stuff..Complete tasks..create new ideas drive to that successful place…prove real.attack Idle thoughts and get up off the floor..
    Walked 10 miles yesterday cross town..burning up the beer from the night before, once you start getting into the stride a nice trance state takes over…I love walking..
    I hit Rock bottom a week or two ago and now climbing like a jet dumping fuel over the pacific…fortunatly I am a f-in good pilot who can safely land that puppie…gotta do a painting in the next few day's..been a storm of epic proportions my friends…Oh Yeah!!! Iva play me a tune…….

  4. avatar
    ScaughtFive | 12 November 2008 at 9:53 pm #

    Amen Killah. Practice and practice until you unlock the craft in your work. Craft closes the distance between thought and expression. Practice practice and enjoy practice… and then practice.

  5. avatar
    verdelay | 12 November 2008 at 10:09 pm #

    Creative? Us lot? Nahh…

  6. avatar
    the dean | 12 November 2008 at 10:12 pm #

    Sitting at a crossroad,
    recently unemployed
    interview in the big smoke
    I’m living in the back hills
    Debt that drives me
    To escape the rat race
    I’ve become a rat
    a bush rat, a marsupial mouse

    Croaking of the rain frog at night
    boobook and growls
    my music electric soft ambiguous
    becomes a nocturnal voice
    they know me
    pure joy with each emotion and fear
    magic that divines and defines me

    Still a crossroad
    a friend leaves me
    I still hear that heartbeat
    in every note
    A new song

  7. avatar
    EDD | 12 November 2008 at 10:51 pm #

    How did you know, SK?

  8. avatar
    fantasticandy | 12 November 2008 at 10:59 pm #

    i heartily endorse every single word!

    is the cognitive awareness in cause and effect linking for achieving a goal in a given system, whether human or machine. Its most general sense is the anticipated result which guides decision making in choosing appropriate actions within a range of strategies in the process (a conceptual scheme) based on varying degrees of ambiguity about the knowledge that creates the contextualisation for the action. Purpose serves to change the state of conditions in a given environment, usually to one with a perceived better set of conditions or parameters from the previous state. This change is the motivation that serves the locus of control and goal orientation.

    you explained it better though.

  9. avatar
    Richard | 12 November 2008 at 11:19 pm #

    nothin’ like a beautiful day to put things in perspective

    day after day of shithouse weather in Darwin at the moment!

  10. avatar
    princey | 12 November 2008 at 11:23 pm #

    I love your paintnings sk, but just promise you’ll NEVER, ever stop making music, writing poetry, and blogging everyday,ok!:)
    love mandy

  11. avatar
    veleska1970 | 13 November 2008 at 12:09 am #

    yes, practice DOES make perfect, especially in any creative endeavour.

    your artwork has not only improved, steve, but it has taken on a life of its own. i looked at the two paintings you had up the other day, and the detail is just awesome. and i remember all the figure drawing classes i attended at university and i am reminded of what my professor always said~~that the human figure is one of the hardest things to draw. you are doing quite well with it.

    oh, i echo amanda’s thoughts, too. 😉

    lotza love….

  12. avatar
    Martin | 13 November 2008 at 12:38 am #

    You sure have perseverance!
    Love from Stockholm

  13. avatar
    Finetime | 13 November 2008 at 2:06 am #

    Thanks SK, very inspirational advice today.

  14. avatar
    Jasperina | 13 November 2008 at 3:34 am #

    Abstract patches…for the face. I liked that description. Another great blog about the creative process. I so enjoy hearing your thoughts on this wonderful and elusive subject.

    Me too..

    …if we all aspired to these practices each day I know the planet would turn itself around. Keep writing and keep inspiring us all. You have always been my music guru since the early days of the Church. I think it is wonderful that your creativity has evolved into art and yoga as well. The time being of love and light illuminating the universe.

  15. avatar
    CAPTAIN BEYOND | 13 November 2008 at 3:36 am #

    “create or be damned”, sounds good to me…

  16. avatar
    kat | 13 November 2008 at 4:39 am #

    whew once i get a little petrol going i can keep on. sk, you made me think of a certain musician who said something about my words. hmmm.

    i’m with captain beyond and all of you. i’m currently inspired by some jazz. ok, so i am no health nut…


    mattd, hang in!!!!!!

  17. avatar
    calling down baal and zeus | 13 November 2008 at 6:19 am #

    some new …very..very ..very olde photos of the boys ..never before seen..melody lane ballroom portland from way way back when over at my blog …cheers

  18. avatar
    matt davison | 13 November 2008 at 6:37 am #

    Thank’s Kat… need that at mom..cheers

  19. avatar
    GAM | 13 November 2008 at 7:09 am #

    Yes, yes. Very good. But what if you’re just not erm…talented? All the practice in the world won’t help then SK. Sorry to be a downer, but telly’s for people who *realize* that.

  20. avatar
    sergezéni | 13 November 2008 at 7:55 am #

    Absolutely right, Steven.

  21. avatar
    fantasticandy | 13 November 2008 at 7:59 am #

    that’s two of us telling you the same thing!
    DO it…………….

  22. avatar
    Bon | 13 November 2008 at 8:18 am #

    I do concur…even though I am inherently not creative…my partner has a new lease on life through renewed creative efforts. It’s been like watching someone being reborn.

    Truly wonderful.


  23. avatar
    don joe | 13 November 2008 at 8:57 am #

    Beautiful blog Steve and so very true. Creating in a realm that one enjoys is the greatest joy and one should splurge on it. I got a bunch a things together and made a light box for my photography and having this new device gives me more drive to explore different avenues. Writing with light is a great form of expression.
    Your art continues to evolve and communicate many new a different things which I love about your work and your point of view on life etc. Keep going for 20 years and beyond I say, I’m riding with you.

    don joe

    to Matt D: “Only the tigers survive this planet and even they have a tough time of it”
    More tiger Matt; go get ’em bro!

  24. avatar
    Hellbound Heart | 13 November 2008 at 10:12 am #

    sage words, sir…being a teacher means that i see your advice of practising and persevering every day…look at how small children struggle to control the mighty tasks of reading and writing and working with numbers…it’s only through that perseverence and application that they transform from faltering attempts to acheiving great things….god bless children, they’re wonderful…
    i think just about everybody here can remember being a kid and poring and sorting through their mum’s or nana’s or auntie’s button tin, i know i can!
    love always….

  25. avatar
    lily was here | 13 November 2008 at 12:59 pm #

    Sigh..Im a jill of some trades & master of none but you have inspired me. Love to all. Keep yr chins up Kat, Matt, Johnny & co. xox

    ps yesterday we had the 1 minute silence for Remembrance Day. Later in the afternoon one of our infants students said "can we play that game again? you know the one where you stand really still and dont move?" LOL .. beautiful kids.

  26. avatar
    fantasticandy | 13 November 2008 at 1:15 pm #

    sue…..that’s so charming. little ‘uns,
    bless ’em.

  27. avatar
    restaurant mark | 13 November 2008 at 2:02 pm #

    that was beautiful, inspiring…why i’m here on a daily basis. i’ve loved music since i was a very small child…the beatles, bowie, and a lot of motown stuff constantly played in my parents house. as a kid i never dreamed of being a policeman or fireman…it was always being in a band, a musician. now i did want to be a jedi knight for a little while, but real light sabers are hard to come by! i have a picture of me at 4 or 5 with my dad’s headphones on…just lost in my own little world. one at about the same age playing my little drum kit…couldn’t look happier. got my first acoustic at 7. first bass…from the sears catalogue no less at 12. music’s all i’ve ever wanted. written lyrics my whole life basically…as soon as i could rhyme anyway! won some writing awards in school. did a lot of drawing and painting too…my mom’s great at it, so we did a lot of stuff together. i’ve always created and made music out of love…necessity. it’s gotten me through all the harder times in my life…an escape. if i go through a period when i’m not being as creative…sooner or later (normally sooner) i start getting a little weird…too much boxed up energy. it makes me sad sometimes that i haven’t been able to make a living doing what i truly love…thought i was close a couple of times. but i’ve never made music for the hope of money or fame anyway (even though those would’ve been nice i suppose). i’ve always done it out of love and because i dig it. of course it feels nice, great even when someone appreciates something you’ve done. but i have no delusions of stardom. someone…forgot who…said that whatever age you join a band at, that’s when you kind of internally stop aging and maturing. so i guess part of me will always be that 20 year old, wanting to be in a band and dreaming…

    take care everyone

    hang in there mattd

  28. avatar
    Sandy | 13 November 2008 at 5:20 pm #

    Beautiful. Humbling and inspiring. Thank you.


  29. avatar
    Sandy | 13 November 2008 at 5:23 pm #

    apollos straight nose
    and his huge perfect eyes
    his sweeping jaw
    his broad brow
    his long muscled neck
    his curly blond hair
    he is a classic handsome bastard

    You just described Peter Koppes. Well, except for the blond hair.

  30. avatar
    CSTCoach | 13 November 2008 at 5:30 pm #

    I couldn't agree more. That little bit every day adds up, and you never really notice it. Then one day you pause to look back and are astounded at how far you've come. Focus on the process, not the gains, and you'll have everything.

    I was struck by something you wrote re: painting faces:

    >i used to find drawing faces was hard
    >i was concentrating on lines to enclose spaces
    >thats not how real life looks

    That reminds me of a lesson i learned from martial arts. To look at the space around something. The space around a tree that is "not tree" defines what we see as "tree", just as the space around us and the spaces between us define ourselves and our relationships.

    In MA, if you see only the fist coming at you, no matter how you try to move around it, you'll walk right into that space. But if you see the space around that fist, you can move in infinite directions to occupy that empty space unscathed. You can also occupy the space that other person is seeking to step into, thus throwing them effortlessly.

    There are profound lessons for life in that.

  31. avatar
    glynnisjohns | 13 November 2008 at 7:44 pm #

    Thank you, inspiration in spades.


  32. avatar
    davem | 13 November 2008 at 10:15 pm #

    Such sense and beautifully expressed!

  33. avatar
    Polydora | 16 November 2008 at 4:02 pm #

    John Updike surmizes that Cezanne is an artist, one of the very few, who got better past the age of 65–who learned and expressed something new. I have a feeling you and Cezanne share something in common.

    When you’re 64, you’ll just be hitting yer stride, Kilbey. So much magic and fulfillment and bliss and love and wonder await you. A sentiment, I think, that trickles through your blogs. That potential that grows each day through your daily practice — art, yoga, music, etc. — is palpable. Thanks for sharing!

  34. avatar
    James | 30 November 2008 at 8:53 am #

    Practice. Yeah, it really does work. I’ve been learning songs lately. Lots of songs. Well not as many as I’d like cause I usually stay on one for awhile. Been working on an elliott smith song called “Kings Crossing.” It really takes me back to when he died. I was scrambling to find out what he had been doing for the last several years. Found live recordings of that song done at the Henry Fonda Theatre in LA. It was a devastating thing to hear. I prefer his solo live versions of that song. It really puts the H in harrowing. So I had been looking for a song of his to learn and ran across that one on the net. Learned the chords and put it all together. I’ve been playing it for the whole month of November. I’ve recorded a lot of versions and it gets better and more interesting each time. I’m fascinated by the entire process of learning a song and then letting it move where it wants to. I’m also amazed at how day after day it tightens up and improves and becomes more present, more real. I know for people who have been doing this forever it’s not a big deal, but for me it is an all new experience to really live within a song.

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