Sunday, 31 January 2010

What was she thinking?

A little bit of digital fun for Mixed Media Monday. It is gratifying to see that icons of style didn't always get it right. Perhaps Uncle Basil was forced to wear Coco's little black dress in a cross-dressing up jape! I'm sure it was all jolly good fun anyway!

I found the picture in Vogue, transferred the image to an acrylic background then played in Photoshop. I doubt she would approve.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Pure of heart

Can I let you into a little secret? I so enjoyed painting this! Regular readers will know I have become a member of the Suzi Blu art class cult and I worship at the Goddess & Poet shrine. I even dreamt about her the other night - that will teach me to watch her course videos just before I go to bed! This is my second painting which I created especially for the Inspiration Avenue 'Pure' challenge. Does she look suitably saintly? She started life as a graphite pencil sketch, my brand new prisma-colour pencils gave her face tone and colour then the acrylics came out. And, because I can never leave well alone, the collage sneaked in too. The windswept Princess below was my first - a double page journal spread, same materials as above with some stamping and stencils. Hope the colours turn out OK, they were too big for the scanner.

Portrait painting is such a new thing for me, but I feel so drawn in (excuse the pun!). I want to practice, practice, practice and get really good at this. Constructive criticism appreciated :)

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Hippy Happy Hoppy

My boyfriend calls me a hippy and I'm drawing a few. I'm feeling rather happy. I've been doing a lot of hopping.

Well, that's my week, how was yours?

I'm rather tired and should go to bed, but I wanted to write a post ready for Jamie Ridler's happy sharing group tomorrow where we spread jolly happenings thicker than the sweetest marmalade. I thought I may as well use it as an excuse to ramble anyway!

Firstly, I would like to turn to my stomach. It is very happy with me this week. You see I rediscovered a particularly tasty delicacy that it hasn't had chance to digest for possibly around 30 years or more. Said treat is, by its very nature, hideously bad for you, but I figure that eating organic seeded crackers (dry) for lunch has more than made up for this little transgression and counts as being part of a 'balanced' diet.

By now, the more observant among you will have noticed the large slab of Battenburg cake floating on the page and guessed the reason for my acute salivation. You may also be thinking it's not terribly sophisticated or even tasty. There you would be wrong. Washed down with a nice cup of tea in a china cup, its delightful sweetness and rich marzipan is just what a girl needs on for a drear January. My son chose it while we were shopping in Tesco - no doubt attracted by the resemblance to ice cream. Poor lad only had one slice before Mummy hid it away. Just think of it as trendy 1970s retro chic and enjoy...
Hippy Happy
Well the icing on the cake for me this week could have been a spending spree in my wardrobe's hippy spiritual home - Monsoon - but I drew hippy instead. I've been devouring my Suzi Blu course and will be posting some Goddess portraits shortly. I need to be a very good student becase... I HAVE A PAINTING COMMISSION! Yes, someone has actually asked me to paint a gift for their hippy friend. Well, I'm thrilled. AND she bought, not one but TWO paintings from me! Thanks Tina!!
I've hopped about more than the Easter Bunny and Skippy the Bush Kangaroo put together this week. You see, I hurt my left foot but was determined to carry on with my exercise regime so did it all on one leg... Err, and also I've been doing a spot of blog hopping bouncing my way around the, at last count, 783 entries to the One World One Heart challenge. Well, not actually all 783... but quite a few.
Have you visited? How do you browse? Are you an orderly person, working their way through chronologically? Or, like me are you a bit more random - diving into those with the most intriguing names or keeping an eye out for old friends? I'm drawn too, like a magpie, by promises of bright sparkling things. It has been such inspirational fun - so many wonderful blogs to run around. Hello new friends! Glad you came back for another read. Hope you stay!
So, between that and Suzi Blu I've been keeping my evenings busy.
Daylight hours have been for working! Yes, another week of paid work and more next week!
PS: Don't you just love the way the sun is glinting off the sugary marzipan on that cake?

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

The eyes are the window to the soul

You may recognise this eye - it's my profile picture. I don't know why it has never occurred to me to draw it before. The sketch is sitting in front of me now. It seems strange to be staring into your own eye; a part of you that says so much about you, yet you rarely see yourself. When that photo was taken my soul was a little lost. Did I capture that? Can you see into my soul? What else can you see?

This piece, although intended for The Three Muses 'quote or quip' challenge, is also a bit of homework for my Suzi Blu Goddess & Poet portrait class. What a wonderful teacher she is, I could watch and listen all night. Personally I think that all artists should wear feathered hats at least once a day and dance around with parasols. There's something else I adore about Suzi - it's her recording studio aka bedroom. The room is a tip! I can just hear my Mum tutting "you think she'd have tidied up, fancy filming with all that mess..." Don't listen Suzi! I love you just the way you are!!!

I had planned to working some more on this and incorporating the quotation, giving it some colour... but time ran away (through an open window!)

Monday, 25 January 2010

Riding the magic carpet: One World One Heart 2010


Join me and hundreds of other bloggers on a wonderous event where bloggers from across the world come together for a fab party. Just click on the picture above for more information.

Welcome friends old and new alike. Your magical carpet floats delicately before you. Before our flight departs, let me give you some history and a small safety briefing.

You are about to be taken on a wonderful ride through Bloglandia. The journey (since it is magical) can be as long or as short as you like. Perhaps you merely want to gaze at a few sites and treasures before alighting at your next stop, or you may stay and explore. Whatever you choose you are most welcome - for this is a One World; One Heart journey as the residents of this land of the imagination open their doors and share a little love.

The carpet before you may look a little threadbare and lack the usual creature comforts one expects with modern travel - there will be no drinks service I'm afraid, nor indeed any chairs; but I can assure you of a trouble free and safe flight.

(image: Annie Liebovitz)

Are you sitting comfortably now? Then we'll begin. Let's go right back to the beginning...

My Great-Great-Great Grandmother Elvira was a lady born with wanderlust sewn into her silk stockings. It was many years however, before it made its way from such a bizarre home and took this fine lady on her many adventures.

Her husband Ernest had regrettably grown into his name for he was a most serious fellow and not taken with the idea of travel outside of England's green and pleasant land, nor indeed even the small country town where they had made their home. After spending her honeymoon gazing wistfully at the lands across the English Channel from a wind-swept Brighton beach, Elvira begged her husband to take her to see the world.

Ernest thought he could placate his wife with trips to Bath and Edinburgh, but not even the ghosts of Holyrood Palace could tame her wild spirit. Eventually, for he was a kind man at heart and dearly loved his wife, he agreed on one special trip. They would travel to Spain.

Elvira's heart was bursting with excitement as they clambered aboard the steamer in Plymouth that would take them to the magically named Bilbao. However, what followed was not quite the journey of their dreams. Foul weather followed in their wake tossing and throwing their craft across the Bay of Biscay. A mysterious ailment struck the crew down who were unable to fulfill their duties. Ernest and Elvira took turns with the other passengers to steer the ship and guide her away from the terrible rocks that threatened to smash them to pieces. Wild storms swallowed them whole and spat them out into a maelstrom of confusion and far off course. After days of terror listening to the moans of the crew and wrapped in a blanket of confusing fog, they at last sighted land and made for the welcoming arms of a harbour on what appeared to be a small island.

Elvira and Ernest thankfully stepped onto dry land once again. A bustle of humanity greeted my relatives and their fellow travellers, whisking them up into a small town which appeared to be in the middle of a busy market day. Crowds thronged the streets admiring exotic fruits, vegetables and spices piled high. Garishly coloured clothing swung like washing on lines and the noise of colourful birds and beasts fought to be loudest among the strange language spoken by the residents of this haven.

The travellers wandered lost among the chaos unable to make sense of any words. The Captain, now sufficiently recovered, was using the universal language of barter for food and a new compass (since their own was behaving in a manner that indicated six poles instead of two). He instructed his crew and passengers to be back at their ship before sunset when he would guide them back home to Plymouth, thinking they had possibly had enough adventure to last a lifetime. Or at least he hoped he would, since at this moment he hadn't the slightest idea where they were.

Knowing that this might be her only chance of travel in this lifetime, Elvira grasped at it with an enthusiasm that surprised even her. She lifted her skirts and, leaving Ernest surrounded by chattering ladies, ran through the market laughing and waving at the surprised traders. Her senses were alive and devoured all that she threw at them. There was one sense however that was just waking up... Her sixth sense suddenly took Elvira away from the crowded market and into a narrow alleyway. With no fear she walked alone toward a small shop almost hidden in the shadows. Moving aside a dusty curtain she entered...

An old man bent his head in greeting and beckoned her in. As her eyes adjusted to the gloom, Elvira noticed that the tiny room appeared to be covered completely in carpets of the richest hues. There was not a scrap of wall, ceiling or floor to be seen among the beautiful patterns swirling before her eyes.

At last she stopped in her inspection as she beheld a small rug of outstanding beauty. Ruby reds, met sea blues and greens that were surely the colour of mermaid tails. Elvira stroked the soft fibres and breathed in a mysterious spicy scent that wafted from them. The man smiled and lifted if from its hook on the wall. He gave it to her to hold and Elvira gasped with surprise when she felt a weight no heavier than the silk shawl she wore over her shoulders.

Elvira knew at that instant that she must have this carpet. It already seemed a part of her. She had no money with her and somehow doubted that this shop would accept her Queen's Sterling. The man, sensing her thoughts just smiled, placed a gentle hand to her back and guided her towards the door. Elvira turned in confusion, attempting to return the treasure, but the man would not take it. It seemed he wished to gift it to her. Elvira could not possibly accept such generosity from a poor stranger and the man, again reading her thoughts, continued to smile and pointed at silk shawl.

Elvira shrugged it from her shoulders and gave it to the man who wrapped it around himself and smiled, before returning to find her frantic husband and return to their ship. They sailed within the hour and two weeks later were back at home believing they had visited a small and uncharted island off the coast of Africa.

You might think that the story ends here, but readers, this was just the beginning. I am sure you have guessed correctly that mysterious illnesses, navigation equipment failure and unknown islands appearing out of the fog can only mean one thing... that magic was afoot... and it wasn't long before it showed itself again.

The very first night they were home, Elvira carefully placed the carpet on the floor of her bedroom. She slept fitfully and after waking from an incredible dream clambered out of the warmth of her blankets to fetch a glass of water. The second her bare foot touched the carpet, she was thrown first to the ground and then in the air. Bracing herself for impact she was shocked again when none came and to her utter amazement she found herself seated on a carpet suspended mid air. When it took off out of the window and she disappeared with it into the night she was tempted to faint, having no suitable lady-like reaction stored up for just such an occasion, but curiosity and her sense of adventure got the better of her and so she was fully conscious when they landed just outside the Parthenon in Athens. Just as she was when subsequent trips took her to the Pyramids, The Grand Canyon, Paris in the Spring, The Ganges, Victoria Falls, Machu Picchu.....

Elvira recorded her adventures in her many journals illustrating each with words and drawings that excelled the imagination. After she died (at the grand old age of 102), the carpet and her 'fanciful' stories were packed away in storage waiting for the next female in the line to come of age... Many sons were born to my family.... until 1970 when a baby called Lisa made her entrance into the world!


Well, I have to confess that this post wasn't at all how I thought it would be. I had no idea that Elvira would appear and tell me her story. I was just going to give you a short tour around my blog. If you're still with me by this stage I'm sure you're exhausted so I'll give you leave to depart. Thanks for your visit and do pop by again. What you'll find (apart from evidence of an over-active imagination) are the varied ramblings of my words and creativity. I'm a rather enthusiastic blogger who rediscovered a passion for art and enjoys combining the two. I hope you'll return for a longer look around.

Before you go, you may like to enter my little giveaway and take a piece of Elvira's story with you. Who knows, there may be some magic lingering with it. This mixed media painting and collage is made from fragments of Elvira's journal, letters, photographs and paintings (yes, that's her bottom left, she was quite a beauty!).

To enter, simply leave a comment to this post ensuring that I can reach you if you win via your blog or email. All comments must be received by February 14th and I'll announce the winner on the 15th.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Unravelling the Mystique

This is the other eye of the painting I did for 'something in the air' at The Three Muses this week. I had a little more fun in Photoshop for the Inspiration Avenue Mystique challenge - you need to look really closely... I had huge plans for a whole series of mysterious paintings this week, but then I happened upon a rather nifty little art course which has swallowed all my attention.

It is Suzi Blu's Goddess & Poetry course which takes a little of the 'mystique' out of portrait painting. After nearly 40 years it looks like I am finally learning how to draw a nose! What fun! It was always noses that put me off faces, but since my artistic rediscovery last year I have been 'drawn' more and more to this subject matter.

Regulars of my blog will know that I have become a big fan of 'colouring in' faces. Copies of Vogue have been gesso-ed and models' perfect complexions given make-overs. Then I learnt the transfer technique and there was no stopping me. Occasionally, with a sudden burst of confidence, I have created my own, freehand, with varying degrees of success (you only get to see the half-decent ones!).

I want to do more... The course is wonderful, Suzi is a great teacher and lovely and wacky - wearing mad hats and waving parasols about mid-lesson. So far I'm just on pencil sketches... next comes all that lovely colour! Can't wait!

Watch this space...

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Happy talking

"You gotta have a dream; if you don't have a dream; how you gonna have a dream come true?"

Well, this evening I am planning on writing a happy post for I have many reasons to be cheerful. I also have many excuses for using words like joy and delight.

The first being that Ange has given me a Happy 101 award which is jolly nice of her. As usual these awards require some form of acceptance speech and seeing as I missed out on a Golden Globe (again) this year I just happen to have one I prepared earlier - but more on that later as I am still rather busy explaining to you why I am writing Happy posts.

Another gleeful reason is that I am once again joining Jamie Blogger and her merry band of Ridlers (or have I got that confused somewhere along the line?) in a blogtastic book club. Jamie is rather skillful at choosing books with little in the way of reading required (see numerous Wreck this Journal posts back in the Summer of '09); which at first glance may seem a little odd for a book group, but bear with us, for The Happy Book requires the readers to do the writing. As a reaction to these credit-crunching times she also hit upon the marvellous idea of sharing the book so we're passing it among us and don't even have to buy a copy. What a jolly wheeze! As I'm near the bottom of the list it could be some time before said book arrives on my doorstep - the question is - will the dog ears have to be quarantined? Of course, being in a book group where you only see said book maybe six months or so into the project could be dull. Worry not dear readers, for clever Jamie is running a blog where we can all meet up every Friday and share what makes us happy which I think is a lovely idea. You may have gathered by now that this is therefore my first post on said subject. Hello Happy bloggers!

But now, my audience awaits and I must struggle up the stairs in an evening gown that was never designed with movement in mind and gracefully accept my Happy 101 award.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I've read so many posts recently about bloggers' words of the year - a great way to focus thought and direction. I thought first what my word for 2009 retrospectively should be. Stronger. I was stronger last year, not all of the time but I felt that word propping me up throughout the last 12 months. This year I feel the Universe tugging me in a 'Happy' direction so who am I to argue?

What makes me Happy? In no particular order... (am I supposed to do 101?)

  1. A small boy age 5 (nearly 6)
  2. A big boy age 44 (nearly 45)
  3. Cuddles
  4. Making art and... making Art of the Week on Mixed Media Monday! I was so excited I emailed most of my address book
  5. Singing and dancing (not necessarily at the same time). Regrettably this does not necessarily put a smile on the faces of those around me and would give Simon Cowell good reason to shudder, but I like it!
  6. Writing. I bet you never would have guessed it...
  7. Being my own boss (this probably warrants a whole post in itself so I'll save it for another day)
  8. Girlie days or nights
  9. Strangers walking up to me in the street and gifting me several hundred thousand pounds (no strings attached). This hasn't actually happened yet, but we live in hope
  10. Friends, Romans, Countrymen
  11. Being silly
  12. And finally, for this post anyway, I just laughed my socks off when a neighbour's cat poked it's head and left paw through our cat flap intent on stealing some my moggies' food. I often catch him in the act and tonight we had a 'battle of the stares'. He backed down first and reversed back out still hungry. That's 15:0 to me I think!

I've enjoyed compiling this list, in face I might go so far as to say it made me very happy! I'm looking forward to sharing some more next week. I think we all need a bit of happy sharing every now and again.

Speaking of which... one of my favourite comedy sketches of all time which never fails to provoke some loud chuckles...

What is love?

A conversation with my five year old this morning ...

Mummy: What do you think love is made of?
Son: [thinks carefully for a while]... I think it's made of glass
Mummy: Why glass?
Son: Because if someone hurts your feelings then it breaks.

This seems as good a place as any to record these little wisdoms!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

An anthropological dig

I do so love words. I'm playing in the title (not making spelling mistakes). You'll see...

Now, in my blog ramblings I have come across what seemed to be something of an American love affair with a store called Anthropologie (couldn't they have picked something easier to spell?). Writers and artists like Kelly Rae and 52 Flea had me hooked with their words and delightful imagery of vintage/indie/boho/hippy chic. What was this wonderful shop and, more importantly, where could I find one?

Well it turns out that lady luck was smiling upon a happy shopper and she had waved her fairy wand and, hey presto, the first UK store was now open for business in London. Where did I go today dear readers? Well, our nation's capital of course. I was there for an exciting business meeting (hello Mark!), but managed to engineer an early enough arrival to warrant a small detour to Regent Street. (Sometimes these things just have to be done!)

If Pandora was a shop it would certainly be called Anthropologie (I can't type this too many times, may need to abbreviate soon). Wooden floors, beautiful assistants who write your name on your fitting room door and clothes, clothes, clothes, jewellery, sparkling things for the home, bits of old picture frame hanging off reclaimed timber tables, patchwork quilts that want to wrap you in motherly cuddles, dainties, pretties, sweet and fruity smells wafting from the furnishings, plants growing out of the wall, nick nacks, trinkets, silks and satins... Do you think I liked it? Readers it was wonderful, heavenly, a sensory delight.... Note past tense and use of italics....

I am sorry to say my love affair came to an abrupt and sorry end almost as soon as it had begun. At first I thought I had to be mistaken - surely this was a one off or mistake? But the more I turned and peered closely, the more my illusions were shattered. Every label revealed the same horrifying truth. The PRICE!!!!

No wonder they can afford a Regent Street three floor prime location. I envy those whose income is substantial enough not to flinch at paying what appears to be a 90% mark up on most items. The label 'made in India' fixed to most items give a clue. A feel of the fabric and close examination of seams and general quality reads further volumes. Anthropologie, your products are incredibly beautiful and desirable, the shopping experience is magical and I could quite happily live in your stunning store, going to bed every evening wrapped in your sumptuous quilts and bathing in your enticing aromas... but your prices???? I'm too disappointed for further words...

But I will try...

In my bag was a small purse (made in India) I recently purchased from a market trader for £1. An almost identical item was selling here for £18. Knitted toys which can be spotted at church fetes for £1.50 (or knitted by Nanas for nothing) cost an astonishing £20. A single 'vintage' playing card which had been placed in a plastic sleeve - £4; a t-shirt £44; an A5 notebook £22; a cardigan (that was already starting to unravel) £148; a chandelier made from unfired clay beads £1,200.

Beautiful as these items were, you can pick them up elsewhere (notably Etsy, or indeed Mumbai) for a fraction of the cost. Frankly I'd rather not be ripped off and shop in a store where the previous occupant of the fitting room had written their own name in graffiti on the wall than pay over the odds for Penny to write my name for me!

I'm taking my disillusionment and disappointment for a browse on Etsy instead...

Tootle pip.

Something in the air

I'm a hopeless romantic and as soon as I read the prompt for the Three Muses' challenge this week... something in the air... I knew it had to be love!

I had an interesting time with my Muse tonight. She pushed me back in the direction of portrait painting though I wanted to wait until I start my new course (more on that another day). She was insistent. "Paint someone who looks like they're dreaming of their new love" she urged... Easier said than done. I laid down a few layers to my story first before she began to take shape. She wasn't enveloped in a gentle romance though. There was a sadness to her eyes tinged with jealousy. Was it unrequited love?

I took her to the magician called Photoshop to see what could be done for such a terrible love sickness. The remedy called for a trip to Paris. Surely that's the last place she should be going to alone? Ah... we see she wishes to inflict more pressure on the cracks in her heart... Is that a wintry moon shining down on the passionate embrace of her love with another or perhaps the green-eyed monster? There's surely something in the air on the banks of the Seine this chilly evening...

Background: my painting
Embracing couple with street lamp: getty images
Over-active imagination: I think I'll claim that as mine too

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Taking Flight

I so wanted to paint tonight. Something was in the air and as I hadn't managed to rustle up something for the Mixed Media Monday 'wings' challenge, that flighty subject seemed the very thing to wet my paintbrush.

Yet how I pondered... how I stretched and searched for the lift onto the thermals of inspiration. Then the words 'taking flight' fluttered past and I knew... I would like to say thank you to Ms Kelly Rae Roberts for her truly uplifting book - Taking Flight - and her delightful blog where she shares her insights into her creative soul. Kelly is one of those people who proves that YOU CAN DO IT! After years as a social worker and without formal training, Kelly is now a successful artist and writer with her creations reproduced as prints and stationery across the world. She had a dream. She went after it. She caught it and netted the rewards.

I've taken informal lessons from many artists these last six months or so and the experience and techniques lovingly shared by Kelly in her book have given me not just endless fun and inspiration but have also given flight to my creativity. So for this challenge I wanted to create a little something with a nod to Kelly but still very much my own.

After my foray into portrait painting last week I couldn't resist another go. This canvas block started life as a completely different picture which never quite lived up to expectation. Layers of acrylics, transfers and collage have been painted over leaving an intriguing background. I painted the girl who represents me (though she was never meant to look like me!) and made her wings from words because, for me, my words and art go hand in hand. I added some collaged hearts and got grubby with pastels and detailed with caran d'ache. I was pleased with the result. I feel like I've come a long way since I last posted a Kelly-inspired creation which I felt was far too much an inferior copy of her work rather than something of my own.
I think I like painting portraits!

The good old days

May stretched out her aching legs and scratched absently at the new dressing the nurse had applied that morning. She threw off the blanket on her legs, it being far too hot with the central heating going full blast. "Shall we watch a bit of TV before meals on wheels come?" she asked Sid. Her husband picked up the remote for the flatscreen their Simon had bought for their diamond anniversary and flicked through the channels. The cat chased cake crumbs disturbed by Sid's movement, stopping only momentarily to watch some birds fly across the screen of a nature programme. The channels flicked past in rapid succession and they rejected antiques, soap operas, quiz shows, gardening, horse racing, football, golf, talk shows and card making (though May was rather keener on watching that than Sid). Finally they settled on an old black and white movie set in World War II.

As the bombs dropped on Mrs Minerva, and her family shivered in the air raid shelters before heading home to powdered eggs, May and Sid relaxed into their matching electric riser chairs and watched with contentment. "I miss the good old days" May voiced for the pair of them as Greer Garson confronted a downed Nazi paratrooper in her kitchen.

"Aye" agreed Sid as he answered the door to the young 'un who brought round their dinner every evening and smelt the appetising aroma of lamb hotpot. "Things was good then..."

A Sunday Scribble on the theme of: the good old days.

Friday, 15 January 2010

A pocket full of...

Take me away
A secret place
A sweet escape
Take me away
Take me away to better days
(from: A pocketful of Sunshine by Natasha Bedingfield)
A warm and sunny prompt this week from Inspiration Avenue to help melt away the snow and January blues.

I thought I'd make a greetings card this week. I had planned on an adventure into advertising having the somewhat over ambitious idea of creating a new advert for fabric conditioner with sparkles and sunbeams flowing out of pockets in newly laundered clothing while tossed delicately on a Spring breeze. I thought a soundtrack of sunshine on a cloudy day might add soul fragrance.

Well, would you believe it. I only went and got some paid work! Well, how inconvenient! My foray into the world of advertising had to go on hold for a few days. Then, I was suffering serious boyfriend and shopping withdrawal symptoms, so managed to get my fix of both on Thursday. Fortunately for the boyfriend, first stop was Costa Coffee where we lolled on sofas, inhaled neat caffeine and he stole secret nibbles of my cake when I wasn't looking. All very indulgent. This put me in such a good mood that I suggested he remain there with the sports pages and a couple of Grannies for company while I quickly nipped in John Lewis to the Bobbi Brown counter... (well, those gift vouchers had been cluttering up the place...)

This morning I was laid low artistically by a rare disease in this house - it was the urge to clean. I advise sunglasses before entering my kitchen readers - the glare is quite dangerous and if you're looking for anything I may well have actually put it away... Put the boyfriend to good use reorganising my desk and moving electrical equipment. And Mum, before you ask, yes he did do something about that tangled mess of cables.

And so, Friday afternoon edged into a foggy sky and no artwork done all week! There was one corner of the house though that had been untouched by the cleaning typhoon.... the art studio aka dining table... well, it wouldn't hurt to get a few more paints out then would it... a few acrylics sloshed about and splashed over hands and fingers and I almost felt my old self again.

No pockets I'm afraid, but hopefully plenty of sunshine!

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

You can have it all

It's Wishcasting again and Jamie Ridler prompts us with the question: How do you wish to shine?

Naturally I can't possibly think, write or say this word without the Take That song popping into my head and out of my mouth. Shiiiiine Shiiiine... For those of you who don't know or dislike Take That - shame on you... Maybe I'll stick a link to YouTube in at the end of this post (a perfect excuse to play it again and again and again and ...).

I quite fancy shining as a pop star or Shirley Bassey-style diva, but I don't think even the best vocal coach could perform that miracle, so we'll have to think of something else.

I've always thought of myself as a bit of a Jack-of-all-trades. I'm not sure what I most shine at. Lately though it's definitely the desire to shine in my creativity. I think that's my essence and what propels me through the day. The last year has been all about writing and painting and long may it continue. It gives me strength, makes me smile and has started some incredible new friendships. Here's to shiny words and pictures!

All together now...

So come on, come on, get it on
Don't know what you're waiting for
Your time is coming don't be late, hey hey
So come on
See the light on your face
Let it shine
Just let it shine
Let it shine.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010


A Sunday Scribble prompt - written on a Monday and probably posted on a Tuesday as I've only just published - don't want to look too keen do I?

The heat was intense wrapping itself tightly around her, choking the air from her lungs. Around her other figures shifted slightly in the thick mist which helped them not look at each other.

It was an uncomfortable place in every sense of the word. Claustrophobia grabbed at her throat and she wanted out. Her head felt so heavy she could barely move but limbs finally obeyed and at last the rush of cooler air hit her as she opened the door.

But this wasn't the extreme she was after. She turned and smiled at the stranger who happened to be standing watching and, holding her nose, plunged into the icy depths.

Rising to the surface in a maelstrom of exhilaration and shock she laughed and shook the water from her hair.

"You're brave", said the stranger as she gingerly dipped a testing toe in the freezing water. "The steam room's always enough torture for me..."

Monday, 11 January 2010

We must take the current when it serves

There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.
William Shakespeare (from Julius Caesar)

What a wonderful thought from the old bard and such a simple philosophy given such poetic treatment - he was a clever fellow wasn't he? I thought I'd find a nice seaworthy quote to float alongside my art today and this one splashed me right in the face as soon as I started looking.

Don't you just love the sea? This piece reminds me of my holiday last summer in Cornwall. When I read that the Three Muses challenge for this week was 'water' I knew I had to stretch myself and attempt what I've always found impossible - crashing waves. Lick your lips... Can you taste the salt spray? It's a bit of wild day on this stretch of coastline. I don't like the look of those clouds...
I bought two large canvas boards a week or so ago and they'd sat in my lounge all white and pristine for too long. One became The Mad Hatter and the second this. Can I let you into a secret? I'm a bit pleased with it. I love the texture, brooding sky and churning water. I got nice and sticky glueing and moulding tissue paper for that rugged effect. I also threw in a little bit of that old book I'm slowly ripping to shreds. Most is covered up with paint, but if you get in close you might just snatch a word or two. I used a palette knife for much of it too which is new for me and made me feel like a proper artist!

I like to create art that gives you something different depending on where you view it from. From a distance I hope this shows the power of the sea, the crashing waves and heavy looming sky. Then, close up are the little hidden secrets, words floating in the waves whispering stories onto the shore and tiny fragments of colour.

Perhaps this is a bit like me. From a distance I may appear as one thing, but get to know me, bring me close and take a peek into my soul and you'll find out so much more.

How very deep and philosophical for a Monday evening!

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Entering a crazy Wonderland

If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?
The Mad Hatter

Oh yes, I am very excited about this upcoming cinematic extravaganza - who wants to see Johnny Depp play a straight role when he can lose himself in his, Tim Burton's and Lewis Carroll's imaginations?

This is a grown up piece of work from me. I use that definition for several reasons. The first being that I had to give it a PG certificate because it scares the pants off my son. In fact, he said "it looks evil". Well, he does have a point. It sort of became the Mad Hatter meets Johnny Depp meets the Joker...

Secondly though, this was a proper painting - on a big canvas (16" x 20"). There's a bit of collage in the background - you can just see some playing cards and pictures of Alice and friends, but other than that is just my painting. Mainly acrylics but with a little oil pastel and some watercolour pencil to add texture and detail.

I'm putting it for sale in my Etsy shop on the off chance that a Mad Hatter fan who doesn't mind being given the evil eye might happen upon it.

Inspired this week by Inspiration Avenue's 'Wonderland' challenge and Mixed Media Monday - 'Something New'. For the latter this meant being brave and tackling both a big painting and a portrait! The advantage of painting the Mad Hatter of course was that the slightly insane look in the eyes and strange skin colouring was perfectly acceptable!

Friday, 8 January 2010

New look

What do you think to my new background? It was made by a very talented friend and you can get one too! Just pop over to Plumrose Lane for an amazing selection of banners and backgrounds to delight and amaze! This background was free but for a small fee you can have your own unique design. Watch this space for a fancy banner on its way too.

I've been meaning to make one of these myself for absolutely ages but never got around to it. One of the many 'must learn how to do thats' on the list. Perhaps this year sometime...

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Getting into the spirit

I once started a book group. It was at work. I made some posters, sent out emails and got a fair few people signed up. I can't remember who chose the first book, but I suspect it was probably me - His Dark Materials by Philip Pulman. It was a cracking read. I arranged the first meeting and the grand total of one person, other than myself turned up, and she hadn't even read the book yet. That was the end of that book group.

Efforts since then have been considerably more successful. Last year saw my gleeful and enthusiastic participation in the Wreck this Journal Group run by Jamie Ridler. What incredible fun that was and who knew that it would be the start of such a wonderful creative journey and the introduction to some lovely new friends?

The Joy Diet followed, but like most diets, I fell of the wagon near the end. It was fun while it lasted though and in particular I just loved reading what everyone else felt and then jumping up and down with glee when they felt the same as me (in other words, I was pleased I wasn't alone in my strange attitudes!).

New Year means new books and, even better, new groups. I have to admit though that I have a whole cupboard full of books I haven't read yet. It's not that I don't read, in fact I've usually got several on the go at once, it's more that I just can't resist... Yesterday for instance I was walking past a charity shop and saw a sign in the window - ALL BOOKS 50P - well, how could I say no? It would have been rude and uncharitable not to (picked up a Barbara Erskine, Valerio Massimo Manfredi and a touring guide to Britain full of lovely maps which I suspect will be finding their way into my artwork sometime soon).
So, back to the Groups. I am now reading The Art Spirit by Robert Henri and hope to have submitted my application in time for another Jamie Ridler extravaganza - The Happy Book. The latter is a mailaround project with each participant having the book for just one week before passing it onto the next.

The Art Spirit is a bit like having a bona fide famous painter giving you lessons in the privacy of your own home. There's no pictures, no colour guides or step by step painting building. It is simply written advice and shared wisdom. Interestingly, there aren't any chapters or any form of index - it just sort of rambles and is really a collection of letters, essays and articles written by the great man. I find this slightly odd, but by the same token it does mean that this is a book that you can just dip in and out of at your leisure. I've only read the first few pages so no proper post on my thoughts or progress yet but watch this space...

I'll leave you with a quote from the book to have a ponder over.

"For an artist to be interesting to us, he must have been interesting to himself. He must have been capable of intense feeling, cand capable of profound contemplation.... Nature reveals to him, and , seeing and feeling intensely, he paints, and whether he wills it or not, each brush stroke is an exact record of such as he was at the exact moment the stroke was made."
Robert Henri

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

An expedition into new territory

Jamie Ridler's Wishcasting Wednesday prompts us with the word 'explore'. What do I wish to explore? Well, this could be a long post... how long have you got?

Oh the joy of exploring a new place - especially when you arrive at a holiday destination. It doesn't matter how tired I might be from the journey, I just want to get out there...

I remember a short break in Nice with my husband as he was then. I'd booked us a ridiculously early flight out and had been so excited the night before that I don't recall actually sleeping. We arrived on fresh July morning greeted by the scents of baking croissants and hot coffee. What happened next is perhaps indicative of why he is now my ex-husband. While he slept behind blackout curtains I explored, ventured, tasted, tested, climbed, watched, drank, smelt and revelled! Best bit of the holiday for me - always that first explore! How can you possibly want to sleep when so many treasures await discovery outside? So, naturally it goes without saying that I wish to explore more places - from Italian cities to Maharajah palaces, Grand Canyons and wild mountainscapes and tropical paradises. Yup, they're all on the list...

Of course, I could just stop this post there, but where's the fun in that when the world and life offers up so much to us? How could I not but put passion to paper and dream of running amok amongst my creative potential. What alleys and vistas lie in wait for me there I wonder? What exactly is my potential anyway? Have I found it all yet? I don't believe I have, so frankly it's about time I got on and did don't you think?

There is a lot of me waiting to be discovered and unlocked. I fear I may not like all that I find (since it was me that hid it away so successfully and I no doubt had good reason for doing so) but since when was life ever easy? If there's one thing I've learnt over the years, it's that you really must face your problems head on. Locking them away under the floorboards doesn't help because sooner or later you'll need to open up that little 'treasure' chest and deal with its contents.

Finally, I'm rather looking forward to exploring the winter wonderland that greeted me this morning. A couple of inches of soft powder snow and more falling as I write!

I have been experiencing a great deal of coincidence this week (perhaps I should explore why this is so!). The latest is this (unfinished) piece (above) I've been working on just yesterday. I was trying to capture, would you believe, something of that wonderful feeling of holiday magic. It is by no means finished, but the background is trying to represent a sky blue shutter with the sun blistering back the layers of paint, I'm not sure where the picture is from but it looks like a Mediterranean resort, fragments of maps speak of journeys past and future. If I have time I'll try and finish today and repost it.
Postscript: finished version now on show and available for purchase in my Etsy shop!

Tuesday, 5 January 2010


When I respond to art challenges I always take it as a prompt for writing too, often allowing the image to illustrate my words and thought process. There is something so therapeutic in seeing both the flow of paint and letters and creating something unique and personal.

That saying, the more observant among you may notice that there is no paint in the image above - it is in fact a digital manipulation of a photo of a stone angel - but just employ a little dash of that thing called artistic licence if you would!

This angel for The Three Muses angelic theme is very serene and a little sad nursing her broken wing, so I bathed her in heavenly rays of light.

My thoughts turn now to guardian angels. Are they also your Muse I wonder or a separate entity that watches from afar and gently guides you through life's twists and turns? Or perhaps there's a little bit of them in those we love. Certainly there was some angelic presence in my son tonight. I took the little fella out for dinner as a reward for earning 'Star of the Week' at school. He is such a pleasant dining companion and spent the duration of the meal charming both table staff and diners alike. After polishing off every last scrap of his meal he then entertained the crowds with a spot of dancing - quite the little mover he is too, he even managed to entice his mother onto the 'dance floor' too. When I feel low he's certainly the best tonic there is - my little angel!

You might also like this angel I created for an Inspiration Avenue challenge just before Christmas.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Monkey Business

On Christmas Eve a most unusual guest arrived to stay with us for a few days over the festive season. We were most honoured to play host to the little fella for he's got a busy worldwide schedule ahead of him over the coming months and plans to have many adventures. In fact, so that everyone can keep in touch, he decided to start his own blog (a monkey after my own heart). So why not pop along and follow the tails (pun and typo intended) of Mr Sole Monkey as he visits bloggers across our mighty nations. If you ask nicely, he may even visit you too...

Something from nothing

I can't throw anything away, I'm such a hoarder. This annoying little trait is magnified when it comes to art supplies. I keep every little scrap of paper, ribbon, twine. I have boxes of the stuff overflowing across my lounge carpet as I write. My Mum despairs... but it comes from her side of the family - her Mother was just like me. The art comes from that side too.

Anyway, rambling aside, it was a wonderful moment when I discovered that the challenge for Mixed Media Monday this week was 'Leftovers'. What fun! I collaged a heap of scraps then made something from seemingly nothing.

Pic above is the final version. After the collage, I layered some acrylics then transferred the dreamy image and added the words as well as a little bit of this and that. Is she perhaps about to eat that leftover cupcake do you think?
Available to buy in my Etsy shop.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Budget cut slashes movie hopes

Something odd happens whenever I host the challenge at Inspiration Avenue... My Muse decides not to play.

A poor effort from me this week on the theme of At the Movies. Let me explain further. I was fresh from a blockbuster Christmas. I'd been wowed by Avatar and wooed by Mr Holmes. The natural beauty of Pandora was playing games with my imagination. I wanted to conjure a world of fantastical flora and fauna an leave a trail of wonder for great detectives to ponder over.

I assembled my cast and burnt the midnight oil with the script-writers. I argued with the director, fussed over the costume department and focused my attention on the art direction.

It was all coming together so nicely... but then... the actors went on strike, the budget was slashed and the location flooded. My thought processes were interrupted by other projects and I was constantly fighting off the attentions of male leads. So, we are left with this simple digital amalgamation of the two films I watched over the holidays. Shall we call it "Sherlock Holmes and the case of the missing Pandoran avatar"?

Both films are worth watching, even if Sherlock starts to resemble a Bruce Willis action caper on occasion. A little more decorum please - this is England old boy after all... I could quite happily watch Avatar with the sound off, it is a most beautiful creation. I wonder if they do weekend breaks?

Friday, 1 January 2010

Happy New Year!

A little bit of our celebration from yesterday! Best wishes to all my blogging friends, may 2010 be everything you wish for!
Simply take:
One long red pepper
Some goat's cheese or other soft cheese you like
Some herbs - basil or parsley
A small chilli
A small clove of garlic
A few small and sweet tomatoes
Some seasoning
A little extra virgin olive oil
Halve the peppers and remove the seeds. Mix all the remaining ingredients together then spoon into the peppers. If you happen to have just cut a crusty loaf and have a bread board strewn with crumbs then grab a few of those and sprinkle on top.
Bake for approx. 15 minutes in a moderate oven until the pepper is cooked and the mixture gently bubbling. Serve with love, bread and a drizzle of something tasty.
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