Monday, September 22, 2008

I'm Going to Paint!!!

I cannot express how excited I am. But let me start from the very beginning to tell you my news.

A recent book I read called The Wishing Year, by Noelle Oxenhandler, involved art and getting involved with art. In snooping her website, (which I do for all authors I read) I found the site of one of the most influential people she had in her life during the time of her writing. This artist, Carole Watanabe, is a person I would love to get to know and have as a mentor. She's a successful artist AND business person, so a life of poverty for someone living the life of an artist is not a given, as Carole has proven.

So of course I went to Carole's website, to see her works, which are gorgeous. Well, she's got a book out too, about the Ecstatic Marriage of Life and Art. The blurb for the book is:
Do you wish you were an artist? Are you an artist who wishes you could actually build a sustainable life around your art? Then read Carole Watanabe’s beautiful and lavishly illustrated new book, The Ecstatic Marriage of Life and Art. Offering wisdom from a lifetime of Carole’s personal journals, it is a companion volume to Noelle Oxenhandler’s book, The Wishing Year.
The answer to Carole's two questions is a loud and unrestrained YES!!!!

I have always wanted to create art. In my childhood that's all I did. In college I took art classes, but ended up majoring in graphic design (so I wouldn't be a poor pauper) and discovered graphic design didn't float my boat. I let my art side slip away. I still went to galleries often, especially when I lived in San Francisco. I also explored the art scene in Bangkok, and I got the opportunity to teach art to kids at the two schools I worked at when I lived there.

But to learn to paint on my own and create for the sake of creating is something that has slipped away over the years, but now I am inspired to begin again. There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING else in the world that gives me such inspiration, focus and feelings of near ecstasy. When in the midst of drawing or painting a picture, I forget to eat or drink and the concept of time vanishes. Going into an art store makes me feel giddy. The smells of the linseed oil and wood for the canvas framing and other new materials smells creates feelings of deep happiness.

So I decided to carve out the time I need to do this. I have thought long and hard of where to paint in our apartment (far from art studio style) and when I can do it. Yesterday I bought some supplies and I already have my portable easel. You can be sure I will share with you some of my creations and while I'm sure my early works will be a bit sketchy as I get back into practice, my future pieces should be something to be proud of.

Here's to ART!!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

New Review for Expat Women in Bangkok

The first review of The Expat Woman's Guide to Living in Thailand (That Men Like, Too!) has arrived! Thank you, Catherine Wentworth, for such a well-written piece . You can see the original on her website.


What's a woman gotta do around here to get a bite…

When a western woman arrives in Bangkok, she's overwhelmed with a multitude of tasty sites and resources on offer. Mostly for men.

Bangkok, a city for the hungry male? Or is it?

First up (when googling), she'll find Stickman's Bangkok. A classic. And while there's decent information on offer, from a female point of view, we be going hungry.

Bangkok Bob is another fav of mine. But again, it's heavy on the guy angle (as it would be).

Other well-written sites have the same tang. There's interesting chunks for sure, but I don't really need to know that some poor sod paid over the going price, or how to investigate a Thai bar girl, or even the ins and outs of a man's guide to Bangkok life (but I will peek).

With a female flavour, I need to know about reasonable housing and what areas to avoid, the nearest market to suit my tastes, where to eat, the best masseurs (and why), English book stores (should I bring my own), what shops have shoes in my size (ditto), how to make new friends (male and female), and tips on important Thai customs (a biggie for women avoiding uncomfortable snafus). And all in my particular brand; a zesty, zingy, female munch.

And that's where Amy's ebook, the Expat Women's Guide to Living in Thailand comes in.

Amongst it all you'll find needed resources such as BNOW (Bangkok Network of Women), British Women's Group (Bangkok), and the Bangkok Guide (online).

And that's just the icing on the cake. Or (as they say out here), The Big Mango

Take a DEEP breath while I do a quick skim down the index. You know, just to see if I can grab your fancy.

Right away you'll get an indispensable dose of Thai etiquette (whatever you do, do not skip this section), possible ways to get around Bangkok and beyond (airport, taxi, buses, subway, skytrain, tuk tuks, boats, motorcycle taxis, maps, car and driver hire), everything to do with money (cost of living, taxes, tipping, paying bills, credit cards and transferring money), safety tips (emergency numbers and personal tips from women living in BKK), accommodation (where, what, how and how much), communications (landlines, mobiles, Internet and postal services), shopping (supermarkets, hypermarkets, malls, tech malls, markets, book stores and more), eating out and in (street hawkers, restaurants to drool over and who delivers), health (hospitals, dental, insurance, pharmacies, fitness clubs and parks), entertainment (cinema, concerts and cultural centres), organisations (women's groups, Chambers of Commerce, cultural clubs, expat clubs and those with special interest), Thai language learning (where you'll find Women Learn Thai )… all to delight the female palette.

So what I'm saying is this. That Amy has one whopper of a resource for expat women living in Bangkok. Bar none. She updates often, so be sure to read her blog. And if you have tips of your own, don't be shy. Amy's not.

Time to talk about Amy

Although western women are outnumbered here, we are not exactly scarce (even if it seems so).

Expat women in Bangkok are successful teachers, writers, designers, mothers, wives and business owners.

But not all women slide into this city as smoothy as a finely baked souffle. Like Amy did.

Amy left her comfy position back in the US. Packed what she needed. Then changed her life forever.

Within months of being taken under the wing of a knowledgeable American, Amy started helping others coming into Bangkok fresh. And that's really when the idea for the Expat Women's Guide to Living in Thailand came about. From Amy's desire for exploration, excitement and a taste for all things new.

Amy's adventure on buses, boats and tuk tuks eventually led to a greater adventure. Her dear Thai husband Golf. And (as often happens), they now have a sweet addition, Aidan.

Amy presently resides in California with her young family, hopping over to Bangkok for experiences new and old. I can't wait to see what's new on the menu, for sure.

Mentioned resources…

The Expat Woman's Guide to Living in Thailand (that men like too): Book and site
The Expat Woman's Guide to Living in Thailand: Blog

BNOW (Bangkok Network of Women)
British Women's Group (Bangkok)
Bangkok Guide (online)

Absolutely Bangkok: The portal for the Bangkok connoisseur
Bangkok Bob: A guide to Bangkok
Bangkok Diaries: Tales from the "Big Mango"
Stickman's Bangkok: Living, working, travelling, and teaching English in Bangkok
The FARANG Speaks 2 Much: Insiders take on Thailand


Catherine Wentworth, a semi-retired communication designer, is an expat by default. Now a resident of Bangkok, she's making her way through the ins and out of the Thai language and culture via Women Learn Thai. Care to follow along?

Monday, September 01, 2008

Taking a Leap

The current book I'm reading, The Wishing Year, by Noelle Oxenhandler, has got me thinking about art. I've always wanted to get into art, and I have a collection of beautiful papers sitting in a bag in my bedroom, waiting to be used one day in a beautiful collage/painting.

I've always had an excuse not to pursue it: no time, no money, so space, other responsibilities. But I'm getting to a point in my life now that if I could devote a few hours a week to my art, a whole new world could open up to me - it is my passion, it's just been buried for many years. I even majored in graphic design so that I could produce art and be paid for it. I only discovered later that it was a completely fulfilling pursuit.

Today I found a Craigslist ad that could break me of my excuses (except that I must shop for art supplies!)

UPDATE: I just now responded to the ad. What's the harm in finding out more. It's better than letting this opportunity disappear forever. I'll let you know what happens!

What do you think?