The Autumn Path



Defining moments

Do you remember those moments where you truly connect with something that defines you? Where you see something, or do something, and you think, ‘blereerrgh that’s beyond awesome’. For some friends these moments are things defined by achievement. There was that mountain they climbed, owning their first home, or the first time they held their baby in their arms. For some friends, those moments are more sensual… the moments when you first taste that blend of tea that you know you are always going to adore, or that moment when you look at someone and you realise an new dimension of love, or that moment your body flows like a god and you hit that ball just ever so perfectly. And for some friends those moments are experiential – that awesome concert, that magnificent dinner, that first kiss. (Mickel! Call me!) And for some, the defining moments are more things that happened on the internal landscape, like that time you realised you are far stronger than you think. Powerful emotional landmarks, that may or may not fade with time. Experiential, sensual, emotional, and linked to creation and action, these moments make us who we are, right?

The other day I was flicking through a digital magazine (yes I was using my digital fingers), and quite by chance I landed one a page displaying artwork by Victor Richardson. It completely blew me away. I was absorbed, fascinated, and moved. Something has changed for me. The Earth moved in its orbit… and it wasn’t an entirely a comfortable feeling.

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Beautiful Rose Bay, Sydney Harbour, afternoon


Rosebay on a sunny afternoon is a beautiful place. A soft pastel drawing by Danielle Hickie of Rose Bay, Sydney

The boats on Sydney Harbour, soft pastel

This drawing took me a few nights to do. I actually feel quite anxious splitting up drawing time over multiple nights, because when I leave a work unfinished, I get a feeling of trepidation… “Will it work?”
The original scene was taken from a lookout here in Sydney, on a fabulous day, with my son’s hand in mine. We tried to count the boats but there were too many. 🙂 I took out quite a few for this drawing, because, well, art is mimicry and pictures have their own logic.

A happy lunch time spent rescuing an old drawing

One of my recent commitments to myself has been to start creating things again. But like everyone, I have very little time to do this. Still, I really want to just… play… and through that, learn visually what it is to be a great designer. So this lunch time, I opened up an old drawing of mine. This Curled Cat was originally done as an etching. But unfortunately, the plate was ‘bitten’ too hard, leaving me with an extremely mottled surface, that would have only gotten darker as the etching progressed. I remember being quite sad that I had to give up on this work. I really loved pulling prints, so I scanned all of my prints – the ones that worked out and the ones that didn’t – and saved them.

Today I had another look at this lovely curled fellow, and I spent a few minutes playing with him digitally. One of the idea’s that Ken Robinson puts forward in his book The Element is about flow – which is when you find your passion,  you enter into a state of connectedness, concentration and delight. It’s really energizing to engage in this way. My lunch time was over too soon. But it’s great to feel that one can revisit old ‘mistakes’ and make something beautiful from them, that nothing need ever be lost.

Three things I learned about building my first iPad app for children

A few months ago, I launched my first app on iTunes. It is a free game for children aged between 2 and 4, featuring Australian animals and puzzles, called Clever Possums. I wire-framed the game interactions, designed the game branding, drew hundreds and hundreds of animals, and recorded all the voice over, and my co-founder Dan did all the programming and launching of the game. That’s what we call a straight up Design/ Tech split. We did it without a scrap of investment, in our own time, after our small children were asleep at night. You may ask “So how did it go? Did you launch, become a huge success, and get filthy rich?”, and I would reply “Rich in experience, my friend, so very rich in experience… but still so humble of wallet.”

If you were a bit curious, you might ask a little further… “So, were you expecting to actually make money?” And if I was going to be truthful, I might tell you about the huge dreams Dan and I had about making a modest 10 grand, splitting it, and going on holidays with our families. Like seriously, I never indulged in dreams of rubbing wads of cash on my nipples, since that would be a little over the top, and I do that on Sundays anyway as a sort of hobby, but I did hope that we’d have enough to buy a cocktail with at least 4 layers of colours in it, and a tiny umbrella. Perhaps even a jaunty olive, or a debonair swizzle stick. Then when we launched the app for free, I finally figured out there was a slight hole in my strategic plan. So, in answer to your question, these days I’d say that we gained a lot of experience and I’d love to share three key things that really stand out for me.

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