hello friends! wow that last two weeks have been the most amazing adventure! Ben and I, and two of our kids (preston and allie), just got back from a two weeks teaching trip to Australia (with a stop in fiji on the way! :)).
I was so excited this last spring when Jane Davenport, the creative genius of Aussie land, asked me to come be the first teacher to teach in her Studio down under! Of course I was thrilled and said yes!
My kids and ben have spent time with Jane and loved her so much, she said they MUST come with me! So.. the four of us, decided to make a trip of it. I knew they would probably never get the chance again.. so it was just something you just do right? Usually I travel and teach to make income for our family, but this trip would basically be paying for itself and allow me to bring ben and two of my kids along to experience something they would never forget! and it was AMAZING!
(us heading on our first of four flights to australia)
Our first stop was a layover in fiji. We had a 3 night layover there, and so decided to venture off the big island and head to a smaller island to enjoy the TRUE Fiji experience of white sand, blue, turquoise and green waters, and calm clear water, as far as the eye can see. It was only a short 1 hour boat road, so we decided just to do it! We would probably never have the opportunity to come back again, so we were going to make the most of it! (not to mention the beaches were horrible on the mainland near Nadi, and the prices for hotels were CRAZY expensive!).
(being greeted by the locals as we arrived on the tiny island we stayed on. Plantation Island)
(just getting off the boat and staring at all the beautiful fish right there on the beach! see our little huts there in the background?)
we had an amazing time snorkeling, swimming, paddle boarding, kayaking, reading, sleeping, creating art and just relaxing on the beautiful beach right in front of our little bungalow.
(just sitting under a palm tree, working on my embriodery, looking at the beautiful ocean! look how calm it is! I spent most of my time IN the water.)
We seemed to get on this weird sleep schedule as soon as we got there and found ourselves going to bed when it got dark (like 8 pm) and getting up right before sunrise every morning (around 5). I LOVED IT! nothing better than to watch the sunrise each morning, when the island is so still and everyone else is still sleeping and nesting in their beds.
(in our pj at 5:30 am, just enjoying the high tide of the water, quiet moments and the sunrising each day)
After our layover in fiji, we hopped a plan to Brisbane where we rented a car and headed to Jane's house in Byron Bay, about 3 hours away. Driving on the other side of the road was CRAZY and fun and scary all at the same time! Australia is beautiful!!! On our way to janes, we stopped at a nature Zoo, (allie found a brochure on it, in the airport and insisted we stop to go see the Koala Bears!) it was called Lone Pine. IT WAS AMAZING!
(this was the ONLY thing she wanted to make sure she did while in Australia! hold a koala bear!)
We saw so many beautiful cute koala bears, allie got to hold one, and then they had this HUGE massive area of free land, where kangaroos just roamed and jumped around and you could go inside and basically feed them, pet them, sit around and hang out with them. It was SOO cool!
(this little guy was so cute, allie ended up just hanging out with him and sitting by him for like 15 mins, petting him!)
We also made a stop at the Brisbane LDS temple, which was so beautiful as well! Then we headed on our way to ms. Janes for our 10 day adventure in Australia!
Jane's house is near the beach in a beautiful junlge like setting, what they call the "bush". From her deck you can see the ocean and rolling hills of green beautiful jungle trees and plants of every kind! AND animals! It honestly sounded like you were in the jungle too! all the cockatoos and kookaburras and birds chirping all day long. Seriously music to our ears!
(this is a picture of us setting up for the retreat/class part. but normally jane has couches and comfy chair all over her deck, where you could find us each morning watching the sunrise (and pretty much any other time of day, when we weren't out sightseeing)
(sunrise the first morning there. um yes please and thank you.)
We spent most of our time just hanging out with Jane and her awesome husband Angus! Who makes the best BBQ lamp chops ever! (and the best salads ever). The kids went to the beach, the water-park, Jane took them Trapezing. We went shopping to some handmade outdoor markets (hello i was in heaven).
(allie, jane and I shopping down in Byron Bay having THE BEST NACHOS in my life!) ps. Don't you just love Janes smile??!
(ben and I enjoying the "gold coast')
(below is a cool shot of the kids trapeezing! they learned how to do this in just one hour!)
But mostly we just sat on Jane's deck everyday and painted, made art journals, laughed, being silly, talked and enjoyed the amazing company we were in!
(i brought a Dyan Reavely small art journal with me and pretty much wrote and created art in it, everday of the trip. I mainsly just used my stabilo and watercolor pans I had brought)
(me art journaling for the day, and ben painting. Seriously life couldn't get any better. This is the day jane introduced me to COLORING PENCILS and the magical world in which they can trasnform your drawing into detailed pieces of artwork! Hello, now you can't pull me away from my Prismacolor Pencils! EEK!)
Jane showed me how to make an art journal out of pretty much anything and I showed her how to make stamps and printing plates out of foam! (its one of the techniques I show in the mixed media studio class I am teaching with big Picture!)
( I drew her this stamp and then let her keep it.. so she drew me one too! it was a win win!)
Here's a fun little video with Jane and I showing you peeks at the art journals and stamps we made!
(this is the cover of my art journal, i decided to start with that first, so I could have something pretty to look at when it wasn't open!)
(this is the back of the journal if created, where Jane give me and Allie a mini course in how to use coloring pencils and draw her signature Jane girls! I treid REALLY hard not to Christyfy it! Hello I am in love with PrimsaColor pencils now! I bought a bunch from her shop and then i came home to find I had purchased a bunch last year and totally forgot about them, because I didn't know how to use them! I love when I learn how to use new products!! )
I ALSO bought a set of Jane's Peerless Watercolor Sets (she has her own line of colors with Peerless) and she showed me how to cut them up and make your own "travel" palette with them out of cardstock and glue! The colors are beyond gorgeous and some of the most pigmented watercolors I have ever seen! they have become another favorite!
(seriously aren't these gorgeous!!)
AND of course the MAIN reason I was in australia was to teach!
I taught two different weekends while we were there, to two fabulous groups of women! I HAD THE BEST time with them!
(this was our first group of girls! we did the quilt girl (one of the girls I will be teaching in my upcoming fall course!)
(this was my finished girl, which I gave to jane to remember me by!)
Seriously nicest people you will ever meet! AND I LOVED Their accents! The funniest part was when I was talking and I turned to them and said, "sorry, I am talking too much" and they all said.. NO! We love hearing you talk! we love your accent!" I have NEVER EVER been told I have an accent! I have traveled all over the world and in the US and people always just said that I talk "regular". Nothing cool or special about it. So it made me giddy to hear them say I had an accent! I was like.. so does that make me cool because I have an accent? and they said YES! so i made it a point to always talk in public wherever we went, so people could hear my accent! lol.. it was like a little kid. Hahaha. I LOVE the australia accent. oh my gosh, simply beautiful! Sometimes a bit hard to understand.. :).. but I LOVED IT!
(my second weekend class.. we found some fun lanterns and galrands during the week and mr. Benny hung them up for us :) Thanks ben!)
(this was a two day class, and we created both a quilt girl and what I call my "flower girls".. also going to be in the Fall on-line class coming up!)
(my finished quilt girl for week two.. THANK You to Toni, Gen and their mom for the beautiful vintage wallpaper they brought me! I HAD to use it!)
(here is the flower girl I made.. she is probably one of my FAVORITE girls ever! I also gave this canvas to Jane as well (though I made sure to scan it on her scanner before I left, so I can make a large canvas print of it). It was Jane inspired.. maybe that's why I love her so much!)
I loved spending time with Jane, I loved having my family there. I seriously could have stayed another week. ANd most of you know me, I get homesick SUPER fast. SUPERFAST! even when I am surrounded by family or friends on trips. But this trip was so different! I didn't want to leave!
I felt so relaxed, so at peace and so inspired by my surrounding and the creative juices that were flowing between Jane and I, as we created each day. Even just taking walks to the beach, or down the street was just food for the soul. My classes were the funnest for me, they have ever been! I usually get super worn out, tired and loose my energy after day one. But this trip, I was bounding with energy, excitement, creativity and loved every minute of it!
(this is me day two of week 2 teaching.. and I was still just GIDDY and happy to be teaching and creating! it's amazing the setting Jane creates, that just makes your soul and body feel rested and happy!)
It probably helped that we found ourselves on the same schedule as Fiji, and went to bed each night before 9 pm, and were up at 5:30 in the morning, watching the sunrise on her deck. Reading our books, journaling, or just enjoying the view.
It was just amazing. We have already decided to go back next year and teach again. This time, it will just be Ben and I traveling, AND THIS time, Jane is going to teach a day class too, so it will be a three day workshop!
(jane always wearing cute floral headbands and flowers in her hair, decided I needed to wear one too :). Im pretty sure she is the only one who can get away with it lol. I MISS HER GOOFY SELF!)
That will be next november sometime. But I am already counting down the days! I thought the flight would kill me with my fibro and I was pleasantly surprised it didn't! Totally we flew 19 hours. (the main flight, from Los Angeles to Australia was a total of 14-15 hours). Then we had to get from idaho falls to LAX too. that didn't include layovers, but honestly, wasn't bad at all! I would do it again in a heartbeat! Which is funny because after 18 hour flight to South Africa a few years ago, when I taught.. I swore I would never fly that long again! I proved myself wrong.
I took lots of things to keep me busy on the flight which probably helped.. art journaling, watercolors, mixed media supplies, my embroidery and a REALLY good book I couldn't put down! (Unbroken.. you MUST READ IT!)
(i actually got a lot more down on my embroidery than I thought I would!)
Plus they had loads of tv and movies to watch on your own personal tvs. If you ever fly to australia, I recommend Fiji Airways. They were VERY inexpensive compared to everyone else AND their service was AMAZING. The planes are gorgeous and they just have a awesome staff. I thought it would be worse because the flight was so cheap compared to alot of other companies, but I was pleasantly surprised and felt bad for pre-judging them :).
Plus having the stop in Fiji, to break up the long flight was PERFECT. On the way back our stop was only 5 hours, but it still was nice and relaxing. We slept, read, did art. They even had showers in the airport you could use. (ps. if you ever fly through fiji.. go downstairs where the bathrooms are, and they have this large open area with long couches everywhere and no one is down there! It's quiet and you can sleep, or relax and its COOL down there! upstairs was hot and smuggy! So theres a tip for you :).
I did miss my kiddos at home though and was ecstatic to see them when we got home! NOw back home, our sleep schedule is totally off lol and we find ourselves staying up until 3 or 4 am and sleeping until 11! NOT GOOD! I feel like half my day is wasted! gonna have to work on that schedule because we have a She Matters Art Retreat here in 10 short days!
well thanks for letting me share about my wonderful experience to Australia. If you ever get the chance, you MUST go! And Visit down in Byron Bay. It's simply beautiful! Small town, beautiful beaches, away from the huge crowds you find in other cities and towns. Promise, you will love it!
Next week I will be announcing my new Fall workshop AND a giveaway for my upcoming workshop with Big Picture! The Mixed MEdia Studios Workshop! Watch for that tuesday!