To view more of Sophia's art go to or

to purchase prints and cards of her artwork go to

If you see an artwork on this website that you like but it's already sold - please contact Sophia as she does commissions.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thought for the day

By happiness I mean here a deep sense of flourishing that arises from an exceptionally healthy mind. This is not a mere pleasureable feeling, a fleeting emotion, or a mood, but an optimal state of being. Happiness is also a way of interpreting the world, since while it may be difficult to change the world, it is always possible to change the way we look at it. - Matthieu Ricard

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas gifts

Painting by Tony Brown

Although Christmas isn't about presents I have to say this year I was blown away, not by the gifts per se, but by the incredible thought behind several of them.

I was so spoilt by being given a stunningly, beautiful, Swarovski, crystal ornament of a butterfly on a leaf - a true work of art. The butterfly has a very special meaning to me - not because I love it as an living creature but due to the symbolism behind it. This was a present that left a lump in my throat. I want to share the symbolism behind the Celtic Tribal Butterfly "The butterfly is a symbol of the Resurrection. Rising from the seemingly lifeless chrysalis of the ugly caterpillar reminds one that after suffering through some major change in life we will be rewarded with a more beautiful phase. The spiral often symbolizes the continuity of life and spiritual growth. Out of the cocoon the butterfly arises anew."

When I was a kid I was a complete bookworm - it was a great form of escape and I could never read enough. One of my favourite series was Trixie Belden. I had the whole set 37 of them however when my marriage ended the books ended up somewhere but not with me. My two sisters this year presented me with the complete set that they had painstakingly collected from Trademe - I was just gobsmacked - I would never have thought of that for a gift - the time that was involved, effort and thought - wow!! I really am blessed with two wonderful sisters.

I was also incredibly touched by an amazing artwork from my very talented artist friend Tony Brown. (Photo above) This is a new technique of his and involves sanding back the paint on wood to create the portrait. The floral design is carved into the wood. Such a breath taking piece which brought tears to my eyes.

And lastly my very thoughtful kiddies - a new map book (because mine had pages missing) an electric can opener (we have needed a new one for years) , nail polish (I'm running out) and dressing gown (the last one I had was 10 years old and from my pregnancy days!).
I honestly felt blessed enough having these people in my life - for all their love, support, encouragement and friendship without the gifts - but the thought behind all of these just shows how fantastic they are - and reinforces again that I'm lucky to have such generous, considerate family and friends.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays etc

I would like to wish all my readers, customers, supporters, friends and family a very happy and safe Christmas and Holiday season and a prosperous New Year.

Things have been very hectic this last month and my posts have got fewer and fewer - life has well and truly got away on me and I feel the need to have a clean out and start afresh with 2009. I am taking a weeks break from the NZ Art Guild Management side of things - time out just for me and my kids - and hopefully squeezing in much needed painting (have a gallery owner waiting for some art, exhibition in Jan, and one in Feb, not to mention my big exhibition in Nov) - however this week between will be my "clean slate" and planning week.

Alyson B. Stanfield (art biz coach) wrote this fantastic piece of advice .... (By the way it doesn't just have to apply to artists - extend it out, think laterally and look at your life regardless of what you do)

Tie Up Loose Ends

Seeing January 1 on the calendar is enough to get almost anyone's blood pumping. The thrill of starting fresh! The anticipation of creating new benchmarks and attaining new dreams! Oh, but wait. There's a lot of crap that you need to get rid of --stuff that might get in your way if it doesn't drive you crazy first.

What would it be like if the New Year felt... well... felt truly new?

This week's action was first inspired by a previous edition of Rachelle Disbennett-Lee's 365 Days of Coaching newsletter. She wrote:

"I have what I call a Clean Slate week between Christmas and New Year's. During this week, I clean my office, clean out files and cabinets, set up new files for the New Year and wrap up any loose ends. I also review my business and marketing plans and update them with my new goals for the New Year. And, of course, I make a new prosperity board that pictures what my goals and aspirations are for the New Year. Doing all this helps me start the New Year with a clean slate."

With Rachelle's advice in mind, make this week after Christmas or even the next 10 days just for you. Don't schedule outside appointments. This is your time to get straight with yourself. After you've carved out the time, consider the following as candidates for a good slate-cleaning.

►Task List
What has been on your list for too long? If you're procrastinating, do you really need to do it? If it's not a definite Yes, it's a No. If it is a Yes, take care of it. If you want to put highly productive habits into place,

► Studio
What's broken? What materials aren't being used that you could store or give away? What emits negative energy and stifles your creative juices?

► Filing
This is a biggie! Get those papers off your desk and off the floor and put them into some kind of system that makes sense. Set up files for the New Year. Recycle anything you don't use or could find online.

► Mailing List
Take all of those names and business cards you've been hoarding and add them to your database. This is so important that I'm offering an entire class on building and taking care of your contact list.

► Artwork
Complete a piece you've been neglecting.

► Correspondence
Write your Thank You notes from holiday gifts and send New Year's greetings to those you missed before Christmas. (Or, if you're like me, send New Year's greetings just because it's different from everyone else who sends Christmas cards.)

► Computer
Back up your files and throw out old files you no longer need. Do the same for your Web site.

► Supplies
Inventory your office and art supplies. What do you need to order that you're running low on?

► Personal Space
Tying up loose ends doesn't have to be just for your art biz. Creating a more hospitable personal space will help you run your career smoothly. Clean out cabinets, drawers, and closets. Schedule a home pick-up for anything you no longer need. Donate and recycle.

► Errands
Tackle any after-Christmas returns or supply runs and stock your pantry with staples that make menu-planning easier.
Know This . . .Tying up loose ends will give you a fresh start in the New Year.

Think About This . . . What will it feel like to tie up all the loose ends that you've been tolerating until now?

Do This . . . Tie up loose ends between now and the end of the year. You probably don't have time to take care of everything on this list, so prioritize. Go through each prompt and write down some things you'd like to make happen. Then, look at your list and decide what you'll focus on.

Copyright 2008 Alyson B. Stanfield. Alyson takes the mystery out of marketing your art and making more money as an artist. Visit to get articles just like this one delivered to your inbox.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Vegetarian Artists

Back in October myself and two other talented vege artists showcased our art at the Vegetarian Food and Lifestyle Festival in Auckland.

Here's the article in Vegetarian Living NZ magazine about it.

Following on from this article I received an email from an online lifestyle magazine who have asked to do a feature on me so keep an eye out for that.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

"10 Inspiring Last Lectures and Commencement Speeches Everyone Should Watch"

I received an email from Kelly Sonora (thanks Kelly!) who told me about an article they had just posted "10 Inspiring Last Lectures and Commencement Speeches Everyone Should Watch" Makes for some interesting viewing - and I would encourage you to make the time to hear some of these great speeches

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

How quickly people seem to forget this ....

" When you are successful, remember you didn't get there on your own. Now it's your turn to reach out and help others along the way."

And I think it's important to thank those people that did help you along the way too ... none of us do it alone - as much as we think we might have there's always someone that has helped us in some was on this journey .... and of course Pass it on - pay it forward ... just like my earlier posts about Chavah's challenge ...

Thought for the day

Sent to me by my very dear friend - and the timing couldn't have been more perfect ...

''The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours - it is an amazing journey - and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins."
- Bob Maowoh

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Have you been the recipient

of a random act of kindness?

I would love for readers to share their story's just as Chavah has on her blog (listed in the post below)

I think Christmas is a great time to reflect on our blessings - to feel gratitude - and to remember .... I have been very privileged in the friends that I have who have always been supportive and caring - they have huge hearts ... but one story I would like to share from this year is about a fabulous artist friend of mine Tony Brown (now he would be ducking for cover if he knew I was writing this as hes such a humble person who does many acts of kindness with out a second thought ... )

Earlier this year a friend of mine was having some struggles with depression and self esteem - Tony had only met her once - and asked me if I thought she would like one of his paintings ... I said she would be stoked ... so we agreed I would take some photos of her without her knowing why .. then he created an incredible artwork for her - a portrait with Maori words carved into it ... to remind her that she is beautiful inside and out and very much loved by everyone. We then surprised her by delivering it unannounced. Now Tony's generosity of spirit completely overwhelmed me (and her of course!) he didn't know her - but obviously felt for her - he spent many hours creating this artwork - using his own materials and he did it just simply to bring joy to her life and to give her hope for a brighter future ... Now that's a random act of kindness ....

Random Act of Kindness Challenge

Fellow NZ Art Guild member and fantastic NZ Artist - Chavah Kinloch - has created a fantastic Chritmas challange. Well really it should be a lifetime challenge .... Random Act of Kindness ....

This is what she says ....

"Well, can you believe it. We're in the last month for 2008. It's the season of festivities and love, where we celebrate the birth of Christ and remember all the good things that have been made possible through him. Now, whether you are religious or not, I'd love for you to take part in this challenge! It's been on my mind for the past few months. Here's what I'd like you to do. I would like whoever may stumble upon this post, to perform a random act of kindness for someone this month.

Starting date is TODAY, December 4th 2008 and this will run until the new year finishing at midnight on January 4th 2009. Once you have performed this act of kindness,
1) I would like you to blog about it on your own blog.
2) In your blogpost, I would like you to link back to this post.
3) Then leave me a comment on this post so I can view your story.
4) Once confirmed that you have indeed spread some love this holiday season, I will add your name to my lucky dip basket and on January 5th 2009 I will draw and announce the winner of this gorgeous painting (below). "

See website

Definition of a random act of kindness:
A random act of kindness is a purportedly selfless act performed by a person or persons wishing to either assist or cheer up an individual or in some cases even an animal. There will generally be no reason other than to make people smile, or be happier. Either spontaneous or planned in advance, random acts of kindness are encouraged by various communities.

*You may enter more than once but must have one act per entry.
**Everyone is invited to participate no matter where you live.

For full details

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Quote of the day

Dare to reach out your hand into the darkness, to pull another hand into the light. - Norman B. Rice

If there is any one secret of success it lies in the ability to get the other person's point of view and see things from that person's angle as well as from your own. - Henry Ford

Thursday, December 4, 2008

thought of the day

Every single moment has a particular rhythm to it, and we have the capacity to expand or contract an individual moment as appropriate. One way to shift what's going on in our world is not to try to rush to do more, but to allow ourselves to go deeper into that moment of being present. Our ability to shift gears, to shift our rhythm to meet that moment and be present in it, is what allows us to experience the fullness of life. - Stephan Rechtschaffen

If you have the time - this is a GREAT read - well worth making the time ....

Monday, December 1, 2008

Just Listen .....

The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention... A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words. - Rachel Naomi Remen

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I've Been Tagged

Well actually I was tagged weeks ago but I've just been slack ... ok busy .... I was tagged by fellow artist and NZ Art Guild member Chavah Kinloch, check out her great blog -

The rules are simple, now I've been tagged I have to list 6 things you don't know about me, so here goes -

1) I actually hate dots - I know - hard to believe - but yes I''ve always hated dots .... however I love my dotty art ...

2) They say patience is a virtue - it's just not one of mine - but I'm working on it - however people seem to think I must have enormous patience to do all the dotty paintings .... hmmmmm

3) I go through fads with my creativity - so long as I have an outlet I'm happy - over the years I have focussed for various periods on writing poetry, cross stitch, paper tole, latch hook, cooking, gardening, belly dancing, costume making, sewing (which I also hated prior to doing it) now I found my niche - painting ......

4) I was a bit of a geek at school - entered Australian Maths competitions for fun and got a prize each year. Came top of my school for school cert English and got accepted to Uni at 16. I decided to do nursing instead and graduated top 5 in my year for nursing and was the youngest registered nurse in NZ.

5) I was a red head for 16 years. Mum said that I could dye my hair when I left school - so the very day I left I dyed it red. My hair is naturally curly (completely wild but tameable with GHD straighteners - gotta love them!)

6) I hate mushrooms (uggghhhh!) - which is apparantly unheard of with vegetarians!

Now I'm tagging these fantastic NZ artists -
Ronda Turk -
Maria Hartley -
Jen Longshaw -
Tony Brown -
Kay de Lautour Scott -

And one non NZ artist who is just as fab!
Derek McCrea-

The rules:
1. Link to the person or persons who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up

Saturday, November 22, 2008

What's on your bucket list?

Last year the movie "The Bucket List"sparked a lot of conversation, lists and even websites. For those not familiar with it it was a movie starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman who have nothing in common except terminal illness. They hit to road to complete their "bucket lists" - things to do before they die.

People all over the world have been writing lists which include outrageous things like searching for extraterrestrials, to sky diving, to visiting the South Pole to reconciling with estranged family.

My best friend was very ill a few months ago and we started to write a list for her of the things she wanted to do - they were sooo simple ... walk on a beach with white sand, have a day spa and be pampered and to see friends and family. One was harder due to finances - to go on a cruise - we now have an agreement - whoever wins lotto pays for the cruise ... keep your fingers crossed.

I've never written one - I tend to live in the now - (makes life a lot let stressful! lol) but it did get me thinking ... if I were to write one - what would be on it? .... really only a couple of things.

Mine is definitely simple - friends, family, laughter, food, sing and dance. There were two specifics which are very personal and I suddenly realised they shouldn't be on a bucket list ..... if they made it there - they are important enough to deal with here and now surely? Regarding material things - I find that hard since I've never been a person that wanted the next xyz, or the best or expensive things, - it's just has never been my focus in life.

What's on your bucket list?

I think that is one of the secrets to happiness. To have a short bucket list with only simple things on it. It's a reflection that you are really happy with life - with where you are and what you have. This was a good exercise for me - writing a bucket list made me feel gratitude.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thought of the day

Everyday courage has few witnesses. But yours is no less noble because no drum beats for you and no crowds shout your name. - Robert Louis Stevenson

My dear friend sent this to me - so true - so many people are being very courageous in hard times - with the current economy and job market - redundancies everywhere you look - in fact the friend that send me this was made redundant this week after 21 years with the company - I was made redundant yesterday (from the same company) and another friend of mine (from a different company) was also made redundant. These times call for inner strength and courage - and to have faith that there will be something better round the corner. To remember that it's not personal - that it's not a rejection of you - or you that's redundant - but simply a business decision and your job that's redundant.

We always have to look on the bright side of life - and although I'm looking for work straight away - if it doesn't appear - I will embrace the positive. The upside for me as a single parent - school holidays with my kids!! yay!! I won't have to farm them out to my sister and mum - I can actually spend the time with them myself. Finally I will also have a little time to myself too - time to paint - to create - to get back to my passions - after working such long hours with no breaks - holidays or days off - this is going to be quite a novel experience.

Let's see what's round the corner ......

Romantic Commission Finished ....

Well today I just finished a very romantic commission. One of my work friends who has come to a few of my art events is the proud owner of 3 my dot paintings already. He is off to the Philippines soon to be reunited with his bride to be and they will be making a new life together in NZ. He came up with an idea of an artwork for their new home - and we worked together for a few weeks to get the design and lettering just right (easier said than done we can both tell you!)

It's a special piece that will be seen when visitors enter their home. It embrace her culture and says "mubahay" which is welcome in Filipino.

I added my own little twist to embrace the NZ culture by putting koru designs in it. The Koru depicts new beginnings, growth, strength and harmony, taken from the symbolism of a unfurled silver fern leaf.

It was great to be painting again - and once I started I didn't want to stop - my shoulder and hand are feeling it a bit today - not to mention a bit of sleep deprivation too! But it was well worth the effort. Here's a sneak preview of the artwork.

Title: Mabuhay
Artist: Sophia Elise
Media: Tissue and Acrylic on Canvas. All the dots are hand painted by brush in black, grey and white on a red background (Same colour scheme as the other ones he owns)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fidelity - a dying moral??

This is something I have been pondering all day - and I came to the rather tongue in cheek conclusion that some people don't actually understand the part of their vows when they say - forsaking all others - they are not saying fornicating with all others - yes its an old fashioned word - but if you don't know what it means - then ask someone before you make that vow.

Seriously, I've been trying to work out why it seems that infidelity is HUGE. Is it because there is no really deep love and respect for their partner, is it arrogance that they won't get caught, or is just that it's so easy these days with the internet, cellphones, bars etc to find someone else.

I do think that the modern technology has facilitated infidelity - what starts out as an innocent email or text - can turn into light flirtation and then progress from there - people hide behind the supposed anonymity of the technology to start with - no risk of being turned down to your face ... test the waters - instant gratification even - always someone there.

Then you have bars and clubs - well we all know that alcohol helps people to loose their inhibitions - and most people when they are out seem to drink to excess - and therefore have no inhibitions left...although it does seem quite interesting that they are still inhibited enough to make sure they lie about their marital or relationship status.... hmmmmm

Being out of town, away on conference, stag nights etc - seem to make some people think they can behave in any way they like - that their misbehaviour is invisible if it's away from home town eyes - or their partner.

That's the thing - if the partner knew how they were behaving then they wouldn't behave in this manner (well you would hope not at any rate) - so that shows that they know their behaviour is morally wrong - however people still do it.

Why do it? Why get married (or into a committed relationship) if they have no intention of staying true to the one that you have pledged to love til the day you die? No one is forcing people to marry - or to be in a relationship they are unhappy in. In some cases it's just gobsmacking that only a few months after marrying a stunning women that they are out on the prowl again.

I have done a bit of market research over the last few years and spoken to many unfaithful married men (all ages and walks of life) - I've asked why they do it and how they manage to cope with guilt (surely they must have a conscience?) Well the guilt is the easy part seemingly - "You just disassociate yourself from it - its purely a physical thing" And why do it "excitement, new person, risk, fun, makes me feel good, haven't had sex for several weeks or months even" but surprisingly the most common one for serial adulterers - "I don't know"

I talked to one man the other night (who was flirting outrageously) who said that if he was going to be unfaithful he would rather pay someone - that way it becomes a business transaction for a service - and not an affair - two completely different things in his eyes...hmmmm not so sure his fiancee would agree with that?

How can we regain the morality, honesty, trust? I feel we need to do this for many reasons but first and foremost, so that we can preserve the family unit for the sake of our children going - for our society as a whole?

Do we start telling the partners? (that's if the person has been honest enough to admit to having one in the first place!) Maybe if we start telling partners then people realise the risk of being found out is great - and the repercussions (ie loss of relationship) may be enough to make sure they don't risk it. It's like children - if they have no consequences for their actions - then they will keep doing it - esp if it feels good - no ones going to stop them so why not do it? But really should imposement of negative consequences be the influencing factor for fidelity? Surely fidelity should be based in love, respect and honesty?

Do we say no to even dating someone until we have done a thorough background check to ascertain that they are in fact telling the truth? (Facebook and other social networking tools do come in handy these days to check out these things) Or am I overreacting - do we not worry about it - just accept it - and maybe just aim for honesty within the relationships rather than fidelity being the focus?

Really I don't know what the answers are ... does anyone else have the answers? Is anyone else even concerned about this epidemic we have?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Why Women should vote ....

Today I had the privilege to vote in our nations general election - yes sadly it is still a privilege to vote. Not all nations have that choice, nor do all women. Not only is today an opportunity for us to have our say about who will lead our country - for me it is a humbling day as I reflect on the women before me - who I will never meet - who fought hard, sacrificed a lot so that I could walk in and place my tick on a piece of paper today. My primary reason for voting wasn't because I felt passionately about our country - I voted out of respect and gratitude to the women before me. How wrong it would feel to treat the privilege so lightly - to be apathetic - and not to pay our respects to what they have achieved for us fellow women.

I took my children with me today - and I explained that not everyone could do what we were doing today - and I went on to explain to my 7 year old daughter about the suffragettes - it moved me to tears. My children proudly wore the "I've voted today" stickers and told everyone we met that we had voted. They now understand that how lucky they will be when they turn 18 and can actually vote for themselves.
It saddens me that we still have people in our country that don't vote - that aren't on the Electoral role - that don't appreciate how lucky we are to be able to do this. I don't expect people to be passionate about politics - or to like politicians - but I think that we should all vote as a sign of gratitude - much like we get up early for the Dawn Parade on Anzac Day to remember the men who fought for our country ...
It is with enormous gratitude I thank the brave suffragettes world wide ...

My Aunt sent me this email last month as a reminder .... (if we ever needed one)
A Message for all women
This is the story of our Grandmothers and Great-grandmothers; they lived only 90 years ago.

Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote. (this is American history not NZ)

The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote.

(Lucy Burns)
And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic.'
They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.

(Dora Le wis)

They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the 'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote. For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms.

(Alice Paul)

When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

So, refresh my memory. Some women won't vote this year because- -why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn't matter? It's raining?

Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's new movie 'Iron Jawed Angels.' It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder. All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient.

My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women's history, saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked angry. She was--with herself.. 'One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie,' she said. 'What would those women think of the way I use, or don't use, my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn.' The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her 'all over again.'

HBO released the movie on video and DVD . I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum I want it shown on Bunco night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn't our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock therapy is in order.

It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy.

The doctor admonished the men: 'Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.' Please, if you are so inclined, pass this on to all the women you know. We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these courageous women. Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party - remember to vote. History is being made.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Expectations are killers

or at very least one of the things that seems to hurt us the most ....

I think one of the things I find the hardest is having the expectation that people will treat you with the same consideration, loyalty, compassion, unselfishness, honesty, respect etc that you give them - and it always comes as a shock when they don't. Some how you don't seem to be able to shake the hope - the expectation that they will see the light and act in a moral and ethical manner. Now in reality they are not doing anything to us - its us that are doing it to ourselves - by even having this expectation.

There is one person in my life that I keep hoping against hope that they will learn to love and put their ego aside for the betterment of the children they have - however - every time they prove me wrong (or right as the case may be) Now of course - the only person that suffers (aside from the children involved) is me. The person who is perpetuating this behaviour doesn't suffer at all (well unless you believe in karma then at some stage it will come back to them)

Its a hard place to be - if you give away all your expectations of moral behaviour from other people then you risk becoming negative and cynical - however if you continue to have hope and positive expectations you risk hurt and people thinking your naiive and taking advantage of that.

So what do we do - which is better? Try and see the good - live in hope - trust that one day the expectation you have will be fulfilled? or let it go - accept it - move through it - acknowledge that the expectations is actually damaging to you - and not helping the other person act appropriately ...

hmmm I think I may have just answered my own question - if only it was that easy ......

Monday, November 3, 2008

Thought for the week

The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt. -Frederick Buechner

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Original Fine Art Greeting Cards

You can now purchase my "Journey of Life" paintings (the dot artworks) as Original Fine Art Greeting Cards from NZ Niche Greetings. Check them out Sophia Elise Fine Art Cards

They approached me over a month ago - but with everything else I've been doing I forgot to post it on my blog! oops!

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Instruction - Living the Life your Soul intended

I hardly have any free time to do the things I love - like reading, painting and cooking - but this last week I've stolen a few minutes here and there to read a book loaned to me by my wonderful artist friend Julia.

"The Instruction - Living the Life your Soul intended"- by Ainslie MacLeod. According to him, each of us has a soul type that describes the core of who we are. By unlocking the secrets of your purpose you can help illuminate the path of your life. Read more about the soul types and find out your SOUL TYPE now with this QUIZ...

This book has been discussed on Oprah and theres heaps on the net about it - but I would really encoruage you to read the WHOLE book - most of the stuff on the net is about the first chapter - only one part of your soul etc - there's a lot more to it than simply identifying your soul type. You can learn more about your soul type and how it influences your soul’s age, mission, talents, and challenges etc

Oh and for the record - ironically enough .... I'm a spiritualist ..... (with helper, creator, thinker all pretty much an even 2nd place)

What unites Spiritualists is a deeply held belief in a world beyond this one. You will have a desire to express your spirituality in some way, and may be drawn to religion or other spiritual practices. Many Spiritualists are highly intuitive, which is why you may have had psychic experiences in the past and why you will tend to use your sixth sense when it comes to decisionmaking.

You have a great deal of compassion, and may feel a strong need to create a better world, or to help people make the best of their lives. Charities and nonprofits are places where you and other Spiritualists can express your soul’s desire to help others. Whatever work you choose, you must feel you have a higher purpose. It is not enough for a Spiritualist type to simply pick up a check at the end of the week. There has to be a feeling that someone has benefited from your efforts. That’s why many doctors and healers are Spiritualists.

Whether you know it or not, you frequently inspire others through your behavior. By expressing Spiritualist values such as compassion, fairness, honesty and altruism, you encourage others to live by these values—especially younger Spiritualists who will wish to emulate you.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

International Artist Day - October 25th 2008

October 25th is International Artists Day and it's gaining support worldwide. This grassroots movement is not mainstream as yet but artists and galleries in communities everywhere are jumping on the bandwagon. Why?

Artists are a much ignored group although almost anything you use day to day has an artistic design at its root. Throughout history art has been the most important defining characterization of a culture or people. Art survives personalities, dynasties, movements and civilizations. Artists are pioneers and are usually at the forefront of changing times and events. We might well ask why.

True art is timeless and universal and recognizable to all. Where does the inspiration for art come from? What makes some art priceless and other art mediocre? The artist themselves are the lynch pins. Art that is inspired comes from the “unexplainable” and is translated by the artist. If the artist is “tuned into” this area of consciousness, masterpiece works in painting, sculpture, music or prose can manifest. There are thousands in the arts over the centuries of this magnitude, they are natural conduits and are household names because of the recognition of their contribution to culture and humanity.

The day chosen to honor artists worldwide is October 25th, Picassos' birthday. Why this artist and not another was more a matter recent contribution. Picasso was instrumental in bringing art to the masses more than any other artist up to that time. Picasso is the iconic artist personified.

Now more than ever it is important to focus on art and culture. Mainstream television, globalization and the internet are wiring everyone up to the lowest common denominator. True living requires atunement to our common humanity which is accessed through inspiration and the arts. By giving our attention to artists, we have the opportunity for one day to focus on what is eternal and timeless in our civilization. Just as Remembrance Day is important for the pausing to reflect, Oct. 25th can give us a reason to participate in the arts personally.people, you didn't grow up with art as an important aspect of living, but “the buck stops here” when it comes to your kids and we need to take more of an interest for their sakes.

By Marilyn Hurst - Founder

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Thought of the day

Once you begin to acknowledge random acts of kindness - both the ones you have received and the ones you have given - you can no longer believe that what you do does not matter -Dawna Markova

Friday, October 24, 2008

North Shore City Art Awards Raises the Bar Even Higher

Winner Barbara von Seida with her painting "Stony Bay Coromandel"

Christopher Johnstone and Di Smallfield, judges for the North Shore City Art Awards 2008, were very impressed by the high standard of artworks, making special mention that the entries are getting stronger with every year. Artworks came from all over NZ with 83 finalists selected. This is certainly an event to keep an even closer eye on in the coming years.

Once again the Mairangi Art Centre created a fabulous opening night with live Jazz and over 150 people attending. North Shore City Mayor, Andrew Williams, officially opened the Art Awards and was particularly taken with the winning artwork by Barbara von Seida – Stony Bay Coromandel.

The judges felt the winning artwork included a wide range of painting conventions such as confident media application, a selective and complimentary palette, high viewpoint and an asymmetrical strength to the composition. Added to this was that the artwork epitomized the qualities of a contemporary context and the risk-taking they were looking for.

The artworks are diverse and eclectic ranging from traditional oils to contemporary mixed media. It’s a must see exhibition and is at the Mairangi Art Centre, Hastings Rd , Mairangi Bay , Auckland until November 15th.

Congratulations to all the award winners who also receive an annual subscription to the NZ Art Guild.

Factory Frame Merit Award - $500
Sue Collins – Moutere Coromandel

Laurie Coon Merit Awards - $500
Dana Rose – Out of the Mist

Comworth Systems Merit Awards - $500
Jos Coufruer - Children

Runner Up
Gordon Harris – The art and Graphic Store Award - $1000
Janet Williamson – Summer Sunshine

North Shore City Council Premier Award 2008 - $4000
Barbara von Seida - Stony Bay Coromandel.

The Bunnings Warehouse Peoples Choice Award of $500 will be announced at the end of the exhibition on November 15 - so make sure that you cast your vote for your favourite artwork.

North Shore City leading the way in the Arts

From Left to Right: Victoria Anderson, Margaret Copley-Bishop, Sophia Elise, Ellie Drummond, Rachel Irwin (The Fantastic Hats were created by Natalie Bliss)

ShoreSpace, a NZ first, was officially launched Tuesday 21st October 2008 at the Bruce Mason Centre, Takapuna, Auckland. North Shore City have created a first of it's kind - a unique art portal to unite all the arts organisations in the local community and further afield.

As early as 2001, the North Shore City-Te Raki Pae Whenua arts community has been working with the to find an effective way to support and promote the energy and vitality of the arts and creative activity within its communities. With ShoreSpace Arts Portal, North Shore showcases these talents and services through this interactive arts portal, in recognition of the proud and progressive arts community we are home to.

ShoreSpace is an online arts hub which gives easy access to everything that celebrates the arts in our city. All sectors are invited to register; visual, literary, performing and multi-dimensional arts and crafts, as well as technicians and other supporters of our evolving and growing creative industries sector.

Shorespace follows the model of shared governance of arts outcomes by being a collaborative initiative between the arts organisations and North Shore City Council. Shorespace will continue to support this value through ongoing development and management of the site.

Last night saw the team from Mairangi Art Centre (including NZ Art Guild Members - Victoria Anderson and Sophia Elise) taking art out to the community and getting everyone to pick up a paint brush and express their creativity. Two giant canvases were set up to encourage the hidden artist to appear - North Shore City Mayor Andrew Williams was keen to show his support of the local arts community as well as his artistic flair with a painting of the Pumphouse.

To find out more about Shorespace and to become involved go to

North Shore City Mayor, Andrew Williams

North Shore City Mayor, Andrew Williams

One of the finished community Artworks which will be displayed at Mairangi Bay Art Centre

The second of the finished community Artworks which will be displayed at Mairangi Bay Art Centre
Creating the Community Artworks

Sunday, October 19, 2008

My new website

As you all know the NZ Art Guild website underwent major changes a few weeks ago - its fantastic - and offers so many more opportunities for online promotion for artists - even a free artist directory for non members to be included in!

Check out my site

I have loaded many images on yet - it takes time and I just don't have a lot of that at the moment.

Tomorrow I'm at MAC (Mairangi Art Centre) helping to hang the North Shore City Art Awards which opens on Wed night. Then Tomorrow night I'm attending the opening of the art auction and exhibition to raise funds for the Hibiscus Coast Community House in Orewa which is in need of repair. The exhibition will be on for two weeks - and the auctions are silent. (ie. Write your highest bid on a piece of paper and pop it in the box - person with the highest bid wins the auction)

Then Tuesday I'm nursing followed up by the launch of Shorespace at the Bruce Mason Centre - the new internet portal for the Whole of the North shore to isn't all the different arts together. Check out the website! Anyone that happens along that evening will see the MAC Trust Board members wearing these VERY colourful and specially designed hats by Natalie Bliss - they are awesome and you def wont miss us!

Wednesday night is the opening of the North Shore City Art Awards and it will be a fabulous event - everyone is invited - it opens at 5pm but speeches wont be until about 6pm. Be great to see you there!

I think that's enough to keep me busy so far .... :-)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Six Steps to a more relaxed life

I received this via email from Alexander Green - and it was very timely for me .... So thought it may be timely for some of my readers too.

Many of us lead hectic lives, feeling pressured, harried or overwhelmed by responsibilities and deadlines.

In his book "The Secret Pulse of Time," Stefan Klein argues that the culprit is modern society itself. The pace of life has accelerated over the past few decades - and we are faced with almost limitless opportunities, making it tough to decide how to best spend our time.

Klein recommends six steps to avoid being a slave to the clock, regain control of your time, and live a more relaxed life:

1. Take sovereignty over your time. Many of us have a tendency to load up our schedules unnecessarily. For example, studies show that faced with a choice between a bigger paycheck and more free time, most people go for the money. When we get home from work, many of us are still taking business calls or checking our email. Yet much of this work is unessential or can wait until the next day.

If you find you don't have time to relax, the first step is to break out of your routine. Plan your days - and weeks - more effectively. Set boundaries between work and home. Change what you're doing.

2. Live in harmony with your biological clock. Our genes determine whether we are early birds or night owls. I know I do my best work in the morning, for example. If I get waylaid early in the day by non-work-related activities, it takes me twice as long to meet my deadlines in the late afternoon or evening.

Psychologists say you can accomplish more in less time, and make fewer mistakes, by conforming your daily routine to your inner circadian rhythm.

3. Cultivate leisure time. The world seems to be made up of two types of people, those who must be goaded to work and those who have to be reminded to stop. The latter often develop the unconscious habit of believing that an hour without anything accomplished is an hour wasted.

That's so untrue. We all need to relax to achieve some balance. As Klein writes, "Two hours at a café without a cell phone, travel, a stroll, music, gardening, the almost forgotten art of conversation - all of these are occasions to modify the pace of life. Leisure does not simply happen when there is a lull in our crowded schedule. We have to create it actively."

4. Experience the moments. We all spend the majority of our time thinking about the future or reminiscing about the past rather than lingering in the present moment. It's a tough habit to break. But the present moment is all we have... or ever will have.

Our resistance to this notion is partly cultural. In the West, we tend to think in terms of efficiency and productivity. It's different in the East. The Japanese tea ceremony, for example, exists so that participants can calm down and sharpen their senses, leaving their worries and responsibilities at the door. It is a reminder that life isn't just a race against time.

Vietnamese monk and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Thich Nhat Hahn says, "We are very good at preparing to live, but not very good at living. We know how to sacrifice ten years for a diploma, and we are willing to work very hard to get a job, a car, a house and so on. But we have difficulty remembering that we are alive in the present moment, the only moment there is for us to be alive."

5. Learn to concentrate. Americans are famous for doing two things at once. We answer our email while listening to a conference call. We watch TV while we have lunch. We drive down the road, listening to the radio, nattering to the kids in the back seat and talking on the cell phone at the same time.

We think we're multi-tasking. But are we really doing any of these tasks well? Every time you turn your attention from one problem to another, you interrupt your train of thought. Important information vanishes from your working memory. Most of us can do better work in less time by concentrating on the most important task at hand and eliminating distractions.

6. Set your priorities. Life is mostly about making good choices. Do you want to be the best production manager or the best father? Do you want to earn a higher income or spend more time playing tennis and getting in shape? It's tough to excel in one area without giving short shrift to others.

Only you can decide what is most important. You may be happier working on a Red Cross event than a corporate function. You might get more satisfaction spending time with your family rather than chasing that promotion. (After all, it won't be your boss and co-workers weeping when you're gone.)

Your life revolves around the calendar and the clock. But they shouldn't dictate it.

Studies show that continual time pressures create stress - and chronic stress affects your quality of life, undermines your health and lowers your life expectancy.

The key is to slow down, prioritize your activities, and appreciate the many people and blessings that surround you.

As Henry Van Dyke said, "Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Update - NZ Health Industry Awards and UNICEF auction

What a fantastic event this was on Saturday night - Credit to Nigel Fowler and Jenny Hammond for thie vision, dedication and passion.

Great food, fabulous entertainment (my personal favourite Fiona Pears - violinist), tribute to the health industry professionals and of course the Charity Auctions for UNICEF.

Petra Bagust did a brilliant job of hosting the evening - and Alison Mau gave a very sobering talk about Women and Children wtih HIV and AIDS in Papau New Guinea.

Given NZ's current economical climate and the impending elections - it was great to see there were still people willing to get their cheque books out for UNICEF. I wish I had some spare $$ because the artwork was top - and the prices were sooooo low!

NZ Art Guild members donated all but 2 of the artworks - and two members also doanted items from their original clothing brands.

Amount raised -
Sofia Minson $2050
Sharlene Ngatapuna $700
Nataha Wheeler $600
Sally Blyth $600
Sophia Elise $500
Tony Brown $500
Julia Dungan $500
Kirsty Black - Ties $150 for 2
Beate Minderjahns fantastic range of positive kids tshirt and caps - 8 tshirts and caps for $200!!! this was the bargain of the night alongside Sofias painting valued at around $5000

Combined amount raised $5800 which was over half the total raised in the auction!

Thank you to all the artists for their generous contributions.

Update - NZ Shore Plover Art Auction

Well Friday was the Art Auction night for the NZ Shore Plover Appeal in London. NZ Art Guild member Sally Blyth was there in person - the atmosphere was great - feedback fantastic and the auction raised 10,000 pounds!!

7 NZ Art Guild members kindly doanted artwork for this event and below are the amounts raised by each (in pounds) ...

Sally Blyth 1240 !!!
Nancy Frazer 420
Tania Verrent 320
Sophia Elise 240
Chavah Kinloch 160
Elspeth Alix Batt 140
Tony Brown 100

2620 combined - over a quarter of the total amount raised! Well done guys!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

NZ Art Guild Artists Shave for Leukaemia

Artist: Tony Brown
Title: Life
Media: Acrylic and Pastel

Well known NZ Artist, Sofia Minson and 9 other top NZ Artists will donate artworks for the fine art auction and line up to have their heads shaved in a fantastic, not to be missed event. The opening night is Feb 3rd 2009 at the Bruce Mason Centre, Takapuna, Auckland. All the money raised from this event will be donated to LBF.

There will also be a month long exhibition of amazing artworks depicting various aspects of life. 20% of the sale proceeds will be donated to LBF.

The Leukaemia and Blood Foundation started “Shave for a Cure” as a fundraising initiative and it has now turned into an annual event. March 9th – 15th 2009 is the official shave week and month. People are sponsored for shaving their hair off – or if you’re not quite that daring then you can always dye it purple or some other exciting colour …

For more information about the Leukaemia and Blood Foundation and Shave for a Cure go to

Or for more information about this event please contact
Sophia Elise
NZ Art Guild

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

NZ Vegetarian Food and Lifestyle Festival - 28/09/08

NZ Vegetarian Food and Lifestyle Festival

Every year vegetarians around the world observe World Vegetarian Day on October 1st to celebrate a healthy, compassionate and environmentally friendly way of life.

On Saturday 28th Sept 2008 the annual NZ Vegetarian Food and Lifestyle Festival was held at Mt Eden War Memorial Hall in Auckland. I was there for most of the day displaying art by myself and two other vegetarian artists (also members of the NZ Art Guild) - Melissa Muirhead and Michelle Whitehouse.

Over 1300 people came through in just 6 hours - the place was packed all the time - amazing food - great information and incredible atmosphere. My kids came with me and had a ball - helping on the table selling pens and bags and of course taste testing all the great foods.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Mental Health Awareness Week 2008

Mental Health Awareness Week 2008 started today and runs until Oct 12th.

As you all know the NZ Art Guild donated the use of the collaborative project image Reach Out for all the promotional material and posters this year. It has already been in several newspapers and posters are everywhere. We are all very proud to have been able to contribute to this cause.

The Limited Edition Prints of Reach Out are still available through the NZ Art Guild online shop. $5 form every sales is donated to the Mental Health Foundation of NZ.

29/09/2008 09:33:00 AM

Make Your Mark For Mental Health:
Mental Health Awareness Week
October 6 – 12, 2008

Mental Health Awareness Week kicks off on October 6 this year, with “Make Your Mark For Mental Health” as the theme.

The Mental Health Foundation, who organises the annual event, says the theme is all about taking action, working with friends, family and work colleagues to promote wellbeing, celebrate difference and value diversity.

“We all have a role to play in making our mark for mental health,” says Judi Clements, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation. “We can start by making good mental health a priority in our lives, which is just as important as looking after our physical health. In fact, the two are quite strongly linked.

“In the workplace, employers should be looking for ways to reduce stress and work with employees to promote wellbeing. For those experiencing mental illness, we’d like to see the health sector focusing on recovery rather than symptoms, and for mental health service users themselves to feel empowered to lead that recovery.”

With one in five New Zealanders experiencing some form of mental illness in any one year, the Foundation also hopes that people will be encouraged to talk about their own recovery journeys, in order to inspire others.

Sophia Elise, Manager of the New Zealand Art Guild, is one person who has decided to speak publicly about her experience of post-natal depression. Sophia was one of 88 artists who contributed to ‘Reach Out’, a collaborative Guild artwork which has been used as the main image for Mental Health Awareness Week this year.

“It really illustrates the importance of making connections,” Sophia says. “The one thing I wished I had been able to do when I had post-natal depression was to reach out, to be able to tell people without fear of judgement.”

The Foundation is encouraging New Zealanders to speak up for diversity and social inclusion and realise that what they do makes a difference.

“We’d like to see people challenging any stigma and discrimination about mental illness they encounter, whether it’s at work, among friends and family, online, or in the media,” Judi Clements concludes.

Mental Health Awareness Week begins on Monday October 6, culminating on World Mental Health Day on Friday October 10; endorsed by the World Federation for Mental Health and marked in over 150 countries.

A calendar of events planned for the week throughout New Zealand and supporting information about the theme can be found at .


For further inquiries please contact:
Chris Banks
Senior Communications Officer
Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand
09 300 7028 or 021 790 236

Website packages for sale

The NZ Art Guild are now offering website packages for artists - these websites are really affordable and so easy to use. The software is fantastic - you don't need to pay someone to design, edit or maintain your website any longer - it's all made so easy for you with a Woogloo website system. They have a great content management system, full e-commerce and anything else you could imagine.

You don't have to be an artist to purchase a website package - we can design one for you whatever your business needs.

Please contact me if you're interested or want more details.

(Oh like I didn't already have enough to do! lol)

NZ Art Guild new website!

The NZ Art Guild new website went live last Tuesday.

Ok yes I should have announced it then - but seriously I have hardly had time to breathe or eat over the last few weeks - it's been crazy busy - but totally worth it.

The feedback has been great so far - a few teething problems while members adjust to the new site - but it all seems to be settling down now which is awesome!

It has an online store, payment facilities, new membership structure, new profiled artists pages, websites etc

All NZ artists can now have a free listing in the artists directory.

And we have also added a Patron membership option for those people that are passionate about NZ Art and Supporting artists.

Sooooo check it out!!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

What a week ...!

Working 70 - 80 hours a week can get a bit tiring esp when you can see no end in sight - but the positive is when you can look back and see what you've achieved ...

The biggest thing this week is the NZ Art Guild new website - now hopefully this will go live Monday - its FANTASTIC! Really exciting - it really easy to use and navigate - offers far more promotional opportunities for members - online store and much much more! So keep an eye out!

This week we also had 3 more businesses approach the NZ Art Guild to establish a discount relationship for our members which is awesome!

On a down note we have made the hard decision to make the NZ Art Guild Art Awards a Biennial event rather than annual. The economy now is really hard on business owners esp with the elections looming ...

However, well known NZ artist Sofia Minson approached me with a fantastic idea for an event for Feb at the Bruce Mason Centre - so keep and eye out for more details ... its going to be big!

This week I collected and delivered all the fabulous donations from NZ Art Guild members who are participating in the NZ Health Industry Awards and UNICEF Charity Auction - what an amazing collection that is. The organisers were so excited and impressed with the calibre too. My kids were particularly fond of Beate Minderjahns range of positive fashions for kids - with slogans on tshirt and caps - so they are now very proud owners of their own sets!

On a personal note I was approached this week by a company who sell original NZ greeting cards, prints, calenders etc. They want to reproduce my dot series onto cards - perfect timing too esp with Christmas just round the corner - so I've been busy with them trying to sort that out. Once that's all finalised I will post a link here so you can check them out - and buy them of course! lol

And of course - tomorrow we have the Vegetarian Lifestyle Festival where we are exhibiting artwork - so I have to get things organised for that too.

Throw my nursing work, trust board meeting, kids, kids birthdays into the mix and you can see why I haven't posted all week. lol

Sunday, September 21, 2008

NZ Vegetarian Food and Lifestyle Festival

NZ Vegetarian Food and Lifestyle Festival

Every year vegetarians around the world observe World Vegetarian Day on October 1st to celebrate a healthy, compassionate and environmentally friendly way of life.

Set aside Sept 28th now - this is a vibrant and fun vegetarian event with a variety of stalls and activities, cooking demonstrations, food tasting,lifestyle products, craft and of course original NZ Artworks from 3 Vegetarian Artists (myself included)

WHERE: Mt Eden War Memorial Hall, 489 Dominion Road, Auckland
WHEN: Sunday September 28th 10-4
Sophia Elise, Melissa Muirhead, Michelle Whitehouse

For more info -

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Personal Invitation to all my blog readers ...

Your Personal Invitation,

You have been invited, to the ‘New Zealand Health Industry Awards & Benefit Gala’ on Saturday 11th October 6pm at the Bruce Mason Centre, Takapuna, Auckland

The awards are to celebrate and honour the outstanding New Zealanders for their many years of dedication in the field of Natural Healthcare. This amazing evening consists of a dinner, awards ceremony, UNICEF Charity Auction and spectacular International Entertainers that has come to New Zealand to perform for you.

The NZ Art Guild is a proud supporter of the evening with several of our artists donating artworks for this event.

Would you like to Celebrate this evening with us? Please go to the following website

Kind Regards,
Sophia Elise
NZ Art Guild

P.S: If you would like to view the top art work and items in the Charity Auction Catalogue please visit

Thought of the day - Giving

While you have a thing it can be taken from you - but when you give it, you have given it. No robber can take it from you. It is yours then forever when you have given it. It will be yours always. That is to give. - James Joyce

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Six degrees of seperation ... ?

The girl with an apple - remarkable story

This is a long one but its worth the read - received it via email - or google 'Herman Roma Rosenblat' Video

(This is a true story and you can find out more by Googling Herman Rosenblat. He was Bar Mitzvahed at age 75)

August 1942. Piotrkow , Poland .

The sky was gloomy that morning as we waited anxiously. All the men, women and children of Piotrkow's Jewish ghetto had been herded into a square.

Word had gotten around that we were being moved. My father had only recently died from typhus, which had run rampant through the crowded ghetto. My greatest fear was that our family would be separated.

'Whatever you do,' Isidore, my eldest brother, whispered to me, 'don't tell them your age. Say you're sixteen.

'I was tall for a boy of 11, so I could pull it off. That way I might be deemed valuable as a worker.

An SS man approached me, boots clicking against the cobblestones. He looked me up and down, and then asked my age.

'Sixteen,' I said. He directed me to the left, where my three brothers and other healthy young men already stood.

My mother was motioned to the right with the other women, children, sick and elderly people.

I whispered to Isidore, 'Why?'

He didn't answer.

I ran to Mama's side and said I wanted to stay with her.

'No, 'she said sternly.

'Get away. Don't be a nuisance. Go with your brothers.'

She had never spoken so harshly before. But I understood: She was protecting me. She loved me so much that, just this once, she pretended not to. It was the last I ever saw of her.

My brothers and I were transported in a cattle car to Germany .
We arrived at the Buchenwald concentration camp one night weeks later and were led into a crowded barrack. The next day, we were issued uniforms and identification numbers.

'Don't call me Herman anymore.' I said to my brothers. 'Call me 94983.'

I was put to work in the camp's crematorium, loading the dead into a hand-cranked elevator.

I, too, felt dead. Hardened, I had become a number.

Soon, my brothers and I were sent to Schlieben, one of Buchenwald's sub-camps near Berlin ..

One morning I thought I heard my mother's voice.

'Son,' she said softly but clearly, I am going to send you an angel.'

Then I woke up. Just a dream. A beautiful dream.

But in this place there could be no angels. There was only work. And hunger. And fear.

A couple of days later, I was walking around the camp, around the barracks, near the barbed-wire fence where the guards could not easily see. I was alone.

On the other side of the fence, I spotted someone: a little girl with light, almost luminous curls. She was half-hidden behind a birch tree.

I glanced around to make sure no one saw me. I called to her softly in German. 'Do you have something to eat?'

She didn't understand.

I inched closer to the fence and repeated the question in Polish.. She stepped forward. I was thin and gaunt, with rags wrapped around my feet, but the girl looked unafraid. In her eyes, I saw life.

She pulled an apple from her woolen jacket and threw it over the fence.

I grabbed the fruit and, as I started to run away, I heard her say faintly, 'I'll see you tomorrow.'
I returned to the same spot by the fence at the same time every day. She was always there with something for me to eat - a hunk of bread or, better yet, an apple.

We didn't dare speak or linger. To be caught would mean death for us both.

I didn't know anything about her, just a kind farm girl, except that she understood Polish. What was her name? Why was she risking her life for me?

Hope was in such short supply, and this girl on the other side of the fence gave me some, as nourishing in its way as the bread and apples.

Nearly seven months later, my brothers and I were crammed into a coal car and shipped to Theresienstadt camp in Czechoslovakia .

'Don't return,' I told the girl that day. 'We're leaving.'

I turned toward the barracks and didn't look back, didn't even say good-bye to the little girl whose name I'd never learned, the girl with the apples.

We were in Theresienstadt for three months. The war was winding down and Allied forces were closing in, yet my fate seemed sealed.

On May 10, 1945, I was scheduled to die in the gas chamber at 10:00 AM.

In the quiet of dawn, I tried to prepare myself. So many times death seemed ready to claim me, but somehow I'd survived. Now, it was over.

I thought of my parents. At least, I thought, we will be reunited.

But at 8 A.M. there was a commotion. I heard shouts, and saw people running every which way through camp. I caught up with my brothers.

Russian troops had liberated the camp! The gates swung open. Everyone was running, so I did too. Amazingly, all of my brothers had survived;

I'm not sure how. But I knew that the girl with the apples had been the key to my survival.

In a place where evil seemed triumphant, one person's goodness had saved my life, had given me hope in a place where there was none.

My mother had promised to send me an angel, and the angel had come.

Eventually I made my way to England where I was sponsored by a Jewish charity, put up in a hostel with other boys who had survived the Holocaust and trained in electronics. Then I came to America , where my brother Sam had already moved. I served in the U. S. Army during the Korean War, and returned to New York City after two years.

By August 1957 I'd opened my own electronics repair shop. I was starting to settle in.

One day, my friend Sid who I knew from England called me.

'I've got a date. She's got a Polish friend. Let's double date.'
A blind date? Nah, that wasn't for me.

But Sid kept pestering me, and a few days later we headed up to the Bronx to pick up his date and her friend Roma.

I had to admit, for a blind date this wasn't so bad. Roma was a nurse at a Bronx hospital. She was kind and smart. Beautiful, too, with swirling brown curls and green, almond-shaped eyes that sparkled with life.

The four of us drove out to Coney Island . Roma was easy to talk to, easy to be with.

Turned out she was wary of blind dates too!

We were both just doing our friends a favor. We took a stroll on the boardwalk, enjoying the salty Atlantic breeze, and then had dinner by the shore. I couldn't remember having a better time.

We piled back into Sid's car, Roma and I sharing the backseat.

As European Jews who had survived the war, we were aware that much had been left unsaid between us. She broached the subject, 'Where were you,' she asked softly, 'during the war?'

'The camps,' I said. The terrible memories still vivid, the irreparable loss I had tried to forget. But you can never forget.
She nodded. 'My family was hiding on a farm in Germany , not far from Berlin ,' she told me. 'My father knew a priest, and he got us Aryan papers.'

I imagined how she must have suffered too, fear, a constant companion. And yet here we were both survivors, in a new world.

'There was a camp next to the farm.' Roma continued. 'I saw a boy there and I would throw him apples every day.'

What an amazing coincidence that she had helped some other boy. 'What did he look like? I asked.

'He was tall, skinny, and hungry. I must have seen him every day for six months.'

My heart was racing. I couldn't believe it.

This couldn't be.

'Did he tell you one day not to come back because he was leaving Schlieben?'

Roma looked at me in amazement. 'Yes!'

'That was me!'

I was ready to burst with joy and awe, flooded with emotions. I couldn't believe it! My angel.

'I'm not letting you go.' I said to Roma. And in the back of the car on that blind date, I proposed to her. I didn't want to wait.

'You're crazy!' she said. But she invited me to meet her parents for Shabbat dinner the following week.

There was so much I looked forward to learning about Roma, but the most important things I always knew: her steadfastness, her goodness. For many months, in the worst of circumstances, she had come to the fence and given me hope. Now that I'd found her again, I could never let her go.

That day, she said yes. And I kept my word. After nearly 50 years of marriage, two children and three grandchildren, I have never let her go.

Herman Rosenblat of Miami Beach , Florida

Friday, September 12, 2008

Tell Me Your Story by Dan Gottlieb

As you know, not only do I manage the NZ Art Guild, paint, blog and raise two kids - I also work as an Occupational Health Nurse 2 days a week. The reason I haven't blogged for the last 2 days - is because I've been at Occupational Health and Safety Industry Conference.

There were approximately 500 people from around NZ and overseas speakers too - who came together to share their stories, experience and knowledge - to work together to help prevent the 1000 deaths a year in NZ from occupationally related injuries and illnesses.

As you can imagine, there was some very sobering information - but also uplifting information about new initiatives and ways forward. We also had the opportunity to network - meet other people working in different areas of health and safety - different roles - different expertise and naturally different stories.

Therefore coming home and checking my emails it was timely to find this one.....

Tell Me Your Story by Dan Gottlieb

It came to me in the middle of the night a couple of weeks ago, four words that could change the world: Tell me your story.

These four words could have an impact on everything from global conflict to personal well-being. All we have to do is ask others to tell us their stories and then be quiet. Oh, one other thing: While you are listening, try to imagine what it would be like - and how you would feel - if it were your story. That's called empathy.

So just ask people for their stories, listen, imagine, and feel - sounds naive, doesn't it? Stick with me here.

First, saying these words will change you. Listening to others is an act of emotional generosity, and there is ample evidence that generosity stimulates the brain's endorphins - natural antidepressants. [...]

Second, this little exercise will change the person whose story you've asked for. Socrates may have overstated the issue a bit when he said, in modern translation, "an unexamined life is not worth living," but we humans do have a fundamental need to be understood for who we are. Think of how full we feel when someone looks in our eyes and says she wants to know how we experience our lives.

In today's world, social networks are shrinking. The number of people who report having no intimate friends is increasing. Simple eye contact, along with a caring "tell me your story," can go a long way toward diminishing someone's feelings of alienation and aloneness. I've spoken those words to kids of all ages in all kinds of neighborhoods. Most thank me for asking - and say that no one has ever done so before.

Third, beyond diminishing alienation and increasing a sense of connection, these four words can have a biological effect on both parties. According to Herbert Adler, a psychiatrist at Jefferson, compassion in the doctor-patient relationship actually changes each person's biological healing system. And if that happens in those relationships, it happens in other relationships. It literally promotes healing.

(...) Try it with a neighbor you don't know very well, a relative with whom you've had a misunderstanding. Try it with a street person and see what happens to both of you.
Just four words. We could start a movement.

- Dan Gottlieb

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


At some point in our lives most of us realise that we are not going to achieve our childhood fantasies of fame, power or wealth. Nor are our lives going to be a never ending adventure or romantic novel.

Its at this point that we really need to remember that we shouldn't be disappointed - our final goal should not be about wealth or self gratification. Genuine contentment and lasting happiness don't come from fulfilling all our desires - it comes from reaching high levels of understanding and exercising virtue in our every day lives.

Like anything this requires work and practice. Our behaviours quickly become habits - good behaviours - virtues - bad behaviours - vices. Aristotle said that peace of mind is only achieved through reason, temperance and noble character. Confucius also said that having virtue wasn't just knowing what was right and wrong but it was living your life by what you know to be right.

Charles Murray asked a really good question in his book - "If your children grow up to be courageous, temperate, able to think clearly about the consequences of their actions, to be concerned with the welfare of others, with a sense of obligation to set a good example for others in their own behavior and to accord to others their rightful due, do you really care whether they were raised to be good Christians or Buddhists?"

Sometimes we need to get our children back to basics as Charles Murray also points out - we used to encourage children to play sports so that they learned "fair play, courage in adversity, loyalty to teammates, modesty in victory, dignity in defeat." - certainly gives food for thought .......

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Marketing Tip of the Week and Success

I received this via email today (one of the numerous email subscriptions I have these days!)

Artists are notoriously bad at marketing and promotion - they simply want to hide away in their studios and create - however there really is no benefit (or need) to being a starving, struggling artist - we need to be savvy - we need to sell to purchase materials - to feed ourselves so that we can survive and create more.

It may not be easy - but its simple - sooooo ......

Marketing Tip of the Week
- Set aside time in your diary for marketing.
- Use this time to create and send direct mail, do email newsletters, or arrange post box drops.
- Write ads and test them.
- Give talks to relevant audiences.
- Promote your web site.
- Make cold calls.
- Present proposals and follow them up.
- Not all marketing is equal - work out what works for you, and spend your time on what gets you results.

"Desire is the key to motivation, but it's determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal - a commitment to excellence - that will enable you to attain the success you seek." - Mario Andretti

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Title: Confusion
Artist: Sophia Elise
Media: Acrylic on canvas - hand painted dots in black, white and grey on red background
Size: 30cm x 30cm
For Sale at Mercure Hotel, Customs St, Auckland
Yay! I have finally finished my 4 paintings for the Mercure Hotel on Monday.
Also the NZ Health Industry Awards website has gone live so you can now check out all the amazing artworks up for auction.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Title: Contained
Artist: Sophia Elise
Media: Acrylic on canvas. All the dots are hand paintined in white, black and grey on a deep red backbround.
Size: 30cm x 30cm
For Sale at the Mercure Hotel, Customs St, Auckland

I really enjoyed doing the one for the NZ Shore Plover auction with this design - completely different pattern and background - but similar concept.

Self-discipline begins with the mastery of your thoughts. If you don't control what you think, you can't control what you do. - Napolean Hill

Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret. - Ambrose Bierce
Nothing gives a person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances. - Thomas Jefferson

Friday, September 5, 2008


Title: Radiate
Artist: Sophia Elise
Media: Acrylic on canvas. All dots are hand painted in black, white and grey on a red background.
Size: 30cm x 30cm
For Sale at Merucre Hotel, Customs St, Auckland

To do something, however small, to make others happier and better, is the highest ambition, the most elevating hope, which can inspire a human being. -John Lubbock

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Fractured - red abstract painting

Title: Fractured
Media: Acrylic on canvas - all the dots are hand painted in grey, black and white on a deep red background
Size: 30cm x 30cm
For Sale at the Mercure Hotel, Customs St, Auckland

I've been busy creating 4 small new artworks for the Mercure Hotel in Hobson Street, Auckland These will be exhibited in their restaurant from Sept 8th til Dec 8th. The Restaurant is at the top of the Hotel and has stunning harbour and city views.

This artwork is one of my dotty paintings - quite a different design from my others - its called fractured - which is how I'm feeling at the moment a bit - so many projects on the go - and many commitments - that I'm pulled in so many directions ....

My friend sent me this quote today - I think shes trying to tell me something ;-) I think I might just heed the advice - thanks :-)

Rest when you're weary. Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work. - Ralph Marston‏

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

NZ Shore Plover Charity Art Auction - Artworks

The artwork is hung - and now listed on the NZ Society website. Check them out here

Amazing artworks by NZ Artists Elspeth Alix Batt, Sally Blyth, Sophia Elise, Nancy Frazer, Chavah Kinloch, Tony Brown, Tania Verrant (all NZ Art Guild Members) and NZ Artists Kay de la Tour Scott, Jono Carmichael, Jonathan Clark, Judy Ellis, Mary Jane Kay, Steve Moase, Rae West and Graham Young.

If you're in London an event not to be missed!!

Monday, September 1, 2008

NZ Art for the NZ Shore Plover – Press and Preview Night - by the NZ Society UK

NZ Art for the NZ Shore Plover – Press and Preview Night
Unfortunately I'm too far away to accept the invitation to attend the preview and press evening in London ... but here is the invitation for anyone else that is interested .....

We would be delighted if you would attend our forthcoming preview night to view the art which has been donated by a number of NZ artists. This art will then be auctioned to raise funds for the NZ shore plover conservation project in New Zealand.

We are delighted that
The New Zealand High Commissioner, Derek Leask, will host the preview evening which will take place at Suze in Mayfair on Wednesday 10 September from 6.30pm until 7.30pm.

Artists who have contributed works of art include Graham Young, Nancy Frazer, Sophia Elise, Steve Moase, Kay de la Tour and we hope that you will be able to meet some of the artists at the preview evening. In 2006 this event raised more than £7,000 for the Campbell Island Teal Appeal and this year’s is expected to raise an equivalent amount – hopefully more.

The auction itself (tickets £45 each to include a gourmet menu with kiwi “champagne” and wines) will take place on Friday 10 October at the Penthouse of New Zealand House. We expect the event to be a sell-out and places are strictly limited.

We are delighted, that thanks to the support of Crown Fine Arts, we have been able to bring over nearly 10 works from New Zealand and that Tom and Susan Glynn of Suze have allowed us to display the works in their private dining room for the month before the auction.

Please RSVP by emailing or telephone Katherine Hersey-Meade on 01634 318825.

Yours sincerely
Helen Campbell
NZ Society