Friday, 30 July 2010

Dripping into Photoshop

Hot on the heels of my previous post, written while once more in a mood that belongs more to a bear with a sore head, I return fresh from a bout of restorative creativity.

I have been pondering what to create all week for the IA Water challenge. I had high hopes for an abstract acrylic, but the week is running away with me and I have many plans yet to fulfill, so I turned instead to my stash of 'not quite sure what to do with this' creations and my old and trusty friend Photoshop.

Last week I painted a watery moon at sunset, but it was a very half-hearted attempt that never amounted to much. This week however, it was viewed in a new light - the beginnings of an idea began to unfurl. Into the scanner went the moon where she reappeared magically in Photoshop. Now to play... A spot of duplication and she was now reflecting perfectly in a sea sparkling with moon dust. Was this enough? Well, no. How about some play with the ocean ripple filter... And what about a bit of blending? Very nice I'm sure but lacking a focal point.

Hold on, can you hear singing? The sirens are calling. I landed one of my friendly creations and she dripped her way onto the screen. Can you see her appearing through the phosphoresce?

Thursday, 29 July 2010


Forgive me readers, but I have not been doing the things I should...

My VAT return
Despite my good intentions, naturally this was left to the last moment to complete and file. Still, it was done before the closing date so I will not be required to hide from the threat of the tax man beating down my door. Funny how, in this age of equality, we still refer to tax officials as masculine. Must be a message in there somewhere!

The stall at the art market
Err, well I didn't book it. OK, OK, I know... How can I sell my wares if they aren't out there to sell? It is only £10 for a stall so it's no great loss if I don't sell much. However, the thing is that I always feel that if a job is worth doing, it's worth doing properly. My research leads me to believe that success at such an event will be as much down to presentation as the artwork itself and while I am steadily building a pile (in the corner of the lounge) of paintings, if I can't display them well... Well, you get what I'm saying.

Diane has given some wonderful advice recently on selling at craft markets, plus there is all I learnt from the Kelly Rae Flying Lessons course. I think I need to make an investment in display materials. Perhaps nice boyfriend might help me build something portable. Should I frame my pieces too? I mount most of them, but it's not quite the same as being able to buy a piece of art and take it straight home and hang it on the wall.

Practising what I preach
I committed a fashion crime. Yes, I went out "dressed like that". In my defence, wearing lycra cycling shorts while cycling surely is better than strolling around the supermarket in them. They are very expensive shorts too - padded for comfort. I haven't cycled for about two years so I was taking no chances! Boyfriend and son pretended I wasn't with them... Then, in a truly pot-calling-kettle-black moment I let my inner bitch loose last night on the fashion disasters at a charity ball I attended. (I was working there - in my new career at croupier! Well, actually, it was a one-off-helping-out-at-the-last-minute, but fun none the less!). Anyway, so there I was waiting for the crowds to drift away from the canapes and over to the casino tables. What was there to do but indulge in some serious people watching. I fear that neither Gok, nor Trinny & Susannah combined would have been able to cope with this many fashion faux-pas in one evening. I feel bad for having silent hysterics at the mis-matched dress sense of the denizens of my town, but clearly not guilty enough not to tell the world about it (just as well I didn't take my camera!).


What a strange blog post this turned out to be. Am I forgiven?

Monday, 26 July 2010

In reply

Readers I am delighted to report that following a deep and restful sleep I am once more myself. Admittedly, come 6.30pm as it is now and a day involving my son having a play date and learning to ride his bike without stabilisers, I am perhaps a little jaded round the edges, but the mood remains buoyant even if the energy doesn't!

I read a delightful blog post this morning that hit my creative soul like a dose of espresso. Amelia from 101 Bird Tales (aka my art teacher from Experimental Art) is writing on the joys of finding your creative outlet. Art is not necessarily about paint she reminds us. I had this self same conversation with my sister at the weekend as we looked back not too fondly at our 'art lessons' at school. Art at school was about paint. It was either watercolour or oil. It was still life, portrait or landscape. It was about passing exams. Creativity and imagination, let alone providing food for the soul apparently had no place. We were only shown how to pass exams, not explore what sparked our creativity, what made us laugh out loud with pleasure at the sheer fun of it or to experiment with what art meant for us. I really hope things are different now...

Now I know that while sometimes, you have to think about your audience - if you were hoping to licence your work for a stationery range perhaps or working on a commission. However, most of the time I personally just let go. This week I had fun with the Three Muses 'Odd Bird' challenge. My imagination was given free reign to rummage around in my subconscious (and my magazine stash) for the very treasures that an odd bird like myself might wish to use with such a prompt.

So, I created this crazy piece for me - a most literal interpretation! I collaged a background, painted over it and rubbed it with a soggy tea bag before leaving it out to dry in the summer sun. I poured over Vogue and snipped and formed the features of my feathered friend. She's quite the fashionista this bird - look at all that bling too. She totters around the savannah in her 4 inch heels and flaps those feathers regally. If she had a nose, she would look down it at her lesser plumed cousins.
Oh yes, and before I forget, Amelia will be running the Experimental Art eCourse again in the Autumn - I can't recommend it enough.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Grumpy scribbles

OK, I'm warning you now, I'm in a foul mood so continue reading at your peril. At this stage I have no idea if writing is going to create a positive or negative aura around me. You have been warned!

The cause of said grump is just being plain tired. I was up all night with a poorly child who now is right as rain and full of beans, while poor old Mumma is moping and suffering with a black cloud hovvering menacingly overhead threatening further storms. The thunderous weather system is growling and sparking - I'd stay well away if I was you!

I tried escaping to the countryside but it was too hot and muggy. I tried art but didn't come up with much. I went to the supermarket (necessity rather than choice I must stress), but that just raised the temperature even more. Shall I have a glass of wine? I may just knock the day on the head and begin again in the morning.

Anyway, enough of this grump. I thought I might as well post to Sunday Sketches the results of my little doodles and my regular foray into The Drawing Lab. Today I scribbled, then tried to make sense of the tangle. I thoughtfully saved my pre-sense-making, thinking that maybe it would be cool for you to print out and let your imaginations loose on my chaos - there's even a couple of bonus ones! I'd love to see how others interpret. Frankly I'm surprised mine didn't end up as dark as my mood, so perhaps a spot of art was soothing after all. Go on, have a go and post a link to your pieces so I can have a lookie-see!

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Head in the clouds

Yes, it has been said, but then again the view's great from up here!
Inspired in the Avenue this week by the theme of clouds and one of my favourite songs. See if you can guess what it might be... take a look behind the rows and flows of my angel's hair and see if you can spot the ice cream castles.
This is the second piece I've done on this theme, the first was a good few months ago when I didn't feel confident enough to paint faces. She's not quite finished yet. Some purple eye lashes needed perhaps? I'm not quite sure.
It's interesting how these art prompts hone your observation skills. A couple of weeks ago I was finding paisley in the most unlikely of places and this week we've been blessed (if that's the right word!) with some serious storm clouds rolling over the hills and such variations in texture and colour. So many times when you wish you had a camera.
So much magic wrapped up in the down of a cloud too - the way the light filters through in holy streaks, the shifting colours as they obscure the sun. Personally I love when black thunder clouds are illuminated underneath by the sun's desperate attempts to keep them at bay and the whole world takes on a yellow glow. And, who can resist clouds from the top - fluffy cotton wool observed from a flying tin can!

Mixed media journal piece - coloured pencils, acrylics, water soluble crayons, angel hair and ice cream.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Peacock blue

I painted this a while ago after I purchased my wonderful peacock handbag. I'm sure I blogged about it, but can't remember sharing this picture. I wanted to meld girl with bird and attempt to capture some of nature's deepest colours and shimmering highlights.

I always felt this picture wasn't quite finished though and meant to return and add an embellishment or ten but you know how it is, you move onto the next one and the next...

Tonight however, my peacock lady has been given the opportunity to spread her tail feathers once again and show off a little (artistic licence naturally required since we all know that its the male peacock with the fancy feathers!).

I'm playing with the Digital Whisper artists again this week and using the peacock images provided to layer up and blend. Look at those amazing colours, textures and shapes. Isn't nature just the most wonderfully inventive artist - with the richest palette imaginable?

I feel I finally did my peacock girl justice. I think I like the close up dark one best. She seems to be hiding some mysterious secrets don't you think?

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Mail art

Now here's a new opportunity for creation - decorating envelopes. And why not. How much more exciting after all to have a piece of art dropping through your letter box than a plain white envelope - or, even worse, a brown one with the words Inland Revenue written on.

This really set my mind thinking. Why are envelopes normally so dull? Wouldn't it be fun to create some just a little more interesting. Why should they be devoid of colour and line? Many artists are already creating mail art, but why can't we make this mainstream? What sort of envelope would a creative soul at the tax office really like to use? Something that suggests they've got their eye on you perhaps? I resolved there and then to practice my sketching on envelopes from now on and use them to brighten the mail of the unsuspecting. This week I will complete my VAT return and use this to send it off in. Perhaps it will inspire someone at the Revenue...
Coloured pencil and ink pen on envelope.

Monday, 19 July 2010

A little ball, a lot of fun

My cat loves a game of catch. She will play with these little balls for hours batting them too and fro across the carpet and miaowing very loudly at me to join in. I throw them for her to catch in her paws and chase around the room. We have several of these balls. They get lost very quickly so every so often we have to pull out the furniture and rescue half a dozen or so under sofas, beds and sideboards.

I wanted to paint this photograph I took for the Mixed Media Monday 'play things' challenge but ran out of time, so here's a little digital play instead.

I'm off to find cat and ball...

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Lessons from long necks

Remember last Sunday when I pulled on my white coat and stepped into the drawing lab? Well, I did say that Giraffes were next and sure enough, these long necks have been receiving some special attention from yours truly.

I took small boy to the library yesterday and we came home armed with tales of Mr Pusskins, spacemen and athletic cats as well as a sneaky collection of mammal texts. I'm intermingling the nature lessons with the fiction so sneakily that he'll never realise he's being 'taught'.

Today we both learned that Orangutans make two nests every day - one at night and the other to just sit in during the day while they digest their lunch. But as usual I digress we're here to talk about giraffes.

I was practising a technique where the artist is not allowed to look at the paper - merely the subject. It was harder than you might think. Not so much the drawing part (though that was of course tricky). No, it was the 'not looking at the paper' bit that caused the greatest hardship. Try it and see!

I do however present my best efforts. I was allowed a quick peek for repositioning the pen for internal features - which is the only reason the eyes are not half way down the legs - but other than that I was a good girl and managed to refrain from looking.

I recommend the technique. If nothing else, that constant staring at these beautiful creatures teaches you so much about them - the tiny nuances you normally miss like the wrinkles around the eyes and neck, the fluffy horns and the incredibly nobbly knees! Drawing animals is definitely outside my comfort zone too, but has really tested my observation skills.

I became so enthralled that I then tried a proper sketch too and then decided my long necks needed a splash of colour so, in a further step outside of the 'zone', I experimented with some mono printing. Dabbing some savannah colours on acetate, I then placed it over my sketches and brayered. Had to go over the lines again but quite liked the result.

These 'lab experiments' are becoming my regular Sunday habit thanks to Sophie's prompt for Sunday Sketches. Why not join us. No theme - just draw!

I finish with a moment of serendipity. I have no idea which keys I accidentally pressed to cause this colour inversion in Photoshop, but boy was I happy with the result. Cool eh?

Saturday, 17 July 2010

A fairy story

Illustration by Margaret Tarrant

The Queen and her tiny daughter watched the fairies dancing with delight around the crib. They had heard the good news of such a wondrous birth and travelled on swirls of magic to see the beautiful child and grant their blessings. The baby gurgled with new found joy and reached a soft and chubby hand out to the soft gossamer winged creatures who crowded around her and chattered with excitement - for not only was a royal birth a truly special occasion, but a royal birth to this particular Mother promised magical times ahead indeed.

When the King and the other courtiers returned to the room, they smiled at the child seemingly playing with the shafts of sunlight that streaked in from the half-shuttered windows and the Mother entranced in the joy of her first born.

As the months turned into years the fairies kept up their visits, always greeting the Queen and her daughter with gifts of fairy jewellery woven from gossamer and strung with shells and scales gifted by mermaids. The young Princess was the envy of her friends who never could fully understand quite what made these necklaces and adornments sparkle so purely. The Princess told them that the fairies brought them, but the other girls laughed and mocked her belief in such nonsense, teasing her until she told them instead that suitors dropped them off in the dead of night in an attempt to woo the teenage beauty. Besides, thought the young lady, it had been some time since she'd actually seen a fairy. She was beginning to think she had imagined them. What had once been a special secret between mother and daughter was becoming, to the younger woman, nothing more than... well... fairy tale.

Finally the day came when once again the sound of a baby's newborn cry echoed through the stone walls of the castle. The Princess, cradling the tiny child in her arms took her to visit her own Mother, now in the Winter of her years. The old lady took the baby and kissed her gently before resting back on her cushions.

The baby smiled at its Grandmother and his eyes widened in wonder at the tiny creatures fluttering around her. "Ah," said the old lady, seeing the direction his eyes took. "You've spotted our friends". She carefully introduced her dainty companions to the innocent child while her grown daughter looked on amused.

"I used to love those stories you'd tell me about the fairies," she remembered fondly. "Thanks for sharing them with William too."

The old lady turned to her daughter and asked "Why did you stop believing? I never did". A soft caress rubbed against the younger woman's cheeks unsettling her and she instinctively fingered the delicate necklace lying at her neck while she considered the question.

"Close your eyes and remember" begged her Mother.

The caresses become more insistent and were joined by soft whispers and the echos of long forgotten songs. The Princess smiled and remembered the stories, remembered the adventures, the friends and ... the magic. Opening her eyes, she saw the wings that tangled in her hair and the faces of the long forgotten.

She unclasped the intricately woven silver locket around her neck and read once again the inscription that had puzzled her more as she grew older.

Believe and you will see..

She remembered, yes she remembered...

Something a little different today - a written challenge for Monday's Child - to write a children's story based on the image given. What do you think?

Friday, 16 July 2010

Happy Creativity

I have been so creative this week. I have become surgically attached to my coloured pencils and sketch book. I can't get enough. I work hard all day only to come alive at dusk when the graphite scrapes across the paper and faces appear to me from the white pages urging me to listen to their stories.

The last year has been the most creatively prolific of my life. I'm like a woman possessed. I am not sure that I have ever been so dedicated to a cause or maybe the word should be 'addicted'. Is it a high I am experiencing? A rush of endorphins dancing through my veins into my creative soul? Whatever, I love it. It makes me happy and gives me such a giddy rush.

It's a shame I didn't feel like this while studying art for A Level back in my youth. Why did I allow the bare minimum to be enough? Where was my passion then? My drive, my fire? Was it the lack of inspiration from my teachers, or was inspiration missing?

Well, let's take those as two questions.

1. My art teachers were pretty rubbish. This week Suzi Blu has been teaching me. No contest. The woman is my hero.

2. Inspiration. Again. No contest. How lucky the youth of today are to have an entire world at their fingertips. I can reach out from everyone from the great Masters to new arty friends I met through blogging in seconds. I can type a simple keyword and be bombarded with colours, textures and dreamscapes. It is the most incredible thing and I love it as I love my new friends and this wonderful tribe of creatives I have become a part of.

This is my Friday Happy post for the Happy Book Group. Yesterday, our tribal leader Jamie wrote an interesting piece on how even little nibbles on the creative delicacies can be so good for our souls. It had me leaping around in my seat with agreement. Now I am off to paint some more. For now, I'll you with a work in progress, a finished mermaid (prompted by so many positive comments on my original post last week and originally inspired by artistic blog hopping) and a little sketching experimentation...

Have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

It is a truth universally acknowledged...

If those words set you swooning over the mere thought of Mr Darcy emerging from a lake dripping with sexual tension then read on my friend, for this shall be a tribute to one of my all time favourite reads...

I first read Pride & Prejudice when I was 12 and didn't really get it. Well, let's face it, what experience did I have of such adult emotions? A few years later and a different English Literature teacher and we read it again. Ah, this time I was starting to get it and, you know what, it was actually quite funny too.

Then, A levels came along and guess what - yes, there it was on the syllabus again. Now, we could actually have gone a different route but this was our teacher's favourite book ever and he was totally in love with Elizabeth Bennett, so was he seriously going to forgo the opportunity to swoon over her bosom so his pupils could read something different? Of course not. This time however, something special happened. I too became hooked. I was not in love with Elizabeth Bennett, but I loved her feisty nature, I despaired at her prejudice and poor decision-making and how I yearned alongside her for Mr Darcy.

Well, readers the sun has set a few more times since then and my copy is well thumbed - it gets an airing every year or so and sometimes I just dip a toe in. The BBC adaptation that turned Colin Firth from a 'he looks vaguely familiar' actor into an overnight sex symbol was truly inspired. If I myself had been given the job of casting those roles I doubt I could have bettered the Beeb decision making. I still have a battered video recording. The tape around about the lake scene seems to have got a little stretched over the years - can't think why?

Then, more treats with a cinematic version. I was ready to be a little disappointed here. How, I thought could then condense all that characterisation and turns of plot into 2 hours. Well, they couldn't really. And Keira Knightley playing Elizabeth. Now, while I have nothing against the girl, (I mean this is the second time this week I've given one of her films a plug), she really wasn't suitable casting. Too darn pretty - that's why! Elizabeth, while not plain, was never a striking beauty. Her attractiveness lay within her wit and charm - her feistiness. Saying that though I enjoyed the film, even if the final scene of Elizabeth and Darcy running around in the morning mist was highly dubious!

This piece, a mixed media collage, was created for the Inspiration Avenue challenge 'Books'. I thought I would attempt to bring these two well loved characters to life - lifting them, as Jane Austen manages so admirably, from the pages and into the realms of your imagination. First attempt at drawing a man too - how do you think I did?

Background is ripped old book (not Pride & Prejudice for that would indeed be sacrilege), acrylics, Prismacolour pencils and Derwent Inktense pencils.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Watching paint dry

I'm working on a new piece and while I was waiting for the layer of paint to dry I thought I'd blog hop. Of course, I could have cleaned the bathroom or made sandwiches for the morning, but where's the creative inspiration in that might I ask!

First hop had me hooked. Lori at Ravenpainting (if you've never been to her virtual gallery, it is seriously worth a look). As I balanced on one leg I was transfixed by a most angelic scene. She took part in the Digital Whisper challenge to take an already beautiful angel picture and go create some more...

So I hopped on the other leg over to Digital Whisper and gathered the angel into my arms. A little play in Photoshop and here she is looking like she has been through a bit of a Renaissance (she was rather Pre-Raphaelite when I started). Bet you didn't know that Michaelangelo was hiding in Photoshop did you? I pressed the Help key and suddenly there he was, paint splatters all over his robes and a very old looking bottle of wine in his hand. We shared a glass then set to work...

Got to dash, my paint's still not dry so there's still time for another blog hop - especially as this leg is getting tired now...

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

If you could ride...

... a magic carpet, where would it take you?

Hmm, an interesting prompt from the Three Muses (who else?).

Well, firstly it would take me to the perfect excuse for posting this painting. I completed her a couple of weeks ago but not shared her beyond these four walls so far. She was inspired by Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, though she isn't necessarily her. I just wanted to paint an elegant lady with big hair (the Marge Simpson of her day). She is ironically titled 'The Weight of Responsibility'.

And so to the point of the magic carpet. Well, if you've a) seen the film 'The Duchess' with Keira 'far too pretty for her own good' Knightley; and b) like to dress up, then you might start getting a clue. My magic carpet ride would take me to...

Ha... got you. No, not the 18th Century boudoir of a spoilt rich chick, for who after all would wish to be centuries away from modern conveniences of antibiotics, central heating and online shopping? No, dear readers, my carpet (treated with Scotchguard naturally) would transport me to the wardrobe department of the BBC/Paramount production department. Oh imagine what fun it would be to run amok among all those dresses and shoes - and let's not mention the wigs... I think I could be happy for a week there...

Monday, 12 July 2010


I don't know why, but I find painting girls' hair a traditional shade a dreadful bore. Give me green, pink or blue any day! Perhaps I secretly harbour a desire for technicoloured locks.

This is another in the series of cards I'm creating. Mixed media background with lots of texture, then coloured pencil face on top. I've done about 6 or 7 of these now; I find them rather therapeutic and love how the background gives you such interesting colours and textures for the face.

This one for Mixed Media Monday's blue theme. I'd made the background with the navy accents on all that lush orange and knew it was just crying out for a blue-eyed, blue-haired girl.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Sunday Sketches, Scissors and Rockets

Next up - drawing giraffes without looking at the paper! I'm enjoying these exercises - all about freedom of expression, imperfection and not thinking too much. Just getting pencil on paper. They are from The Drawing Lab by Carla Sonheim.

Still woozy from this labywotsitinnerearinfection. It's such a nice day too - I should be running about outside and practising the 'Ronaldo Scissor' with my son, but any sudden movements are most risky and liable to have me falling into flower beds. Next time I see someone wandering down the High Street apparently drunk, I might have to give them the benefit of the doubt!

Half an hour later and I return from NASA launch pad in the front garden ready for a rest. We have blasted numerous rockets into space. Two sadly failed to return safely. They landed on planet Rowan and planet Sycamore where their astronauts are waving and hoping for a stiff breeze to send them on their way again.

Note to self: launching rockets does not exacerbate labywotsit symptoms. Clearly safer than driving, picking things up off floor or lying down. Maybe should write a report for the British Medical Journal...

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Paisley ponderings

Get ready for a rambling post. My excuse is that I am ill. I have the rather thrillingly-named Labyrinthitis. You might be forgiven for thinking that I am wandering in a maze of confusion or perhaps under the delusion that I am in a fantasy-film pursued by a Bowie baddie. In fact, it is just an inner ear infection that manifests itself in doses of dizzy and whorls of woozy.

And now the reason for the title. Paisley being the theme for the creative challenge at Inspiration Avenue this week, and Paisley being in the picture above. Since I read the prompt earlier this week I seem to be spotting paisley's swirls in places I had never noticed. For one who is supposed to be creative and observant, I only just realised that the pattern appears on one of my favourite summer skirts (a really long hippy affair). It also popped up on the packet of last night's dinner accompaniment.

I was inspired this week by the work of artist Nikki Farquharson (examples below):

Cool eh? I discovered I didn't quite have the patience for this level of detail and wasn't entirely happy with my final output, but I'll try some more I think. My original looked like this, then I played in photoshop for the final version up top when I decided that perhaps the tissue paper ruffle to the skirt didn't have the quite the desired effect. Think I'll borrow my son's felt tip pens , rustle up a dose of patience and have another go...

Thursday, 8 July 2010

This, that and the other

I wanted to blog tonight. I was having withdrawal symptoms. I was also having 'can't think of anything to write' syndrome.

In search of inspiration, I grabbed my not-very-well-thumbed copy of the Art Spirit by Robert Henri. It's a series of notes, letters and ramblings about art. The first quote that jumped out at me (err the truth is it was about the fifth - but where's the story in that?) was this:

"Ever since the beginning there have been artists who have found in the simple life about them the wonderful and the beautiful, and through the fact of this inspiration have sensed the way to make the combination of form and colour we know as art."

Well, knock me down with a feather (a big one) if that wasn't just what I was trying to get at in my previous post (if a little less poetically).

While I'm on a ramble - for it seems this is becoming one - let me tell you about a giveaway on another blog... Now the trouble with telling others about this is naturally that it reduces my chances of actually winning. However, I do like this author and I think you will too, so pop along and visit a funny lady from Australia - a big round of applause for... Comic Mummy. (See, told you I would give you a plug if you were a good girl!).

Finally, very excited that my most recent art purchase dropped through t'letterbox today. The Drawing Lab. I'm off to scribble...

This blob may become something... or it may not... I was using up some spare paint on my palette. In the spirit of Robert Henri (and indeed my previous post), I'm seeing primeval predator or just a curious cat. I guess we'll have to wait and see...

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

What do you see?

A rusty old padlock?

Beauty in age?


An owl?

A teddy bear face?

My entry for The Three Muses' Rust Challenge. Photograph I took last autumn, digitally enhanced. Other visions and stories supplied by your own imaginations!

Monday, 5 July 2010

The Cool Hunter

I can't quite believe I never knew of this site's existence, but there you go - I guess we can't know everything!

So, readers, why not step inside a world of creative inspiration this very day and let this team of 'cool' hunters take you on a culture safari that is definitely outside the box. Open up your mind to the colour, design, innovation and originality of art, offices, architecture and lifestyle.

I was directed to the site as part of a project I am working on for an office move - we're opening our minds to what makes a unique and special work environment and there are some wonderful examples here. Some require six figures, but there are plenty of others that any business could adopt - whatever their budget. Thinking differently, after all, is free!
The pic I used was a personal favourite. Ad agency Ogilvy & Mather's offices in Guangzhou offices. Imagine how much more creative your output would be having a meeting in that room compared to the usual grey box we think sufficient for extracting innovation from the deepest, sleepiest corners of our mind. I remember a few years ago I was working for Siemens. I hadn't been there long when I was invited to a communication session where the Board encouraged us to feed back on what we thought about the company. Without really thinking I piped up "Can't we do something about all this grey. The walls, carpets, furniture - they're all grey (a lot of the people were too, but I did resist mentioning that). It's like working on a battleship..." I did wonder if it was perhaps a career-limiting move but you know what, they did actually listen. OK, so the result was a only a few splashes of colour here and there - but better than nothing I say, better than nothing.

Anyway, I digress. From the cool office spaces showcased on the site, I naturally couldn't resist a quick peek at the art page. Go take a look - some wonderful stuff!

Today was also 'exciting post day'. I just love shopping online and then coming home to find that cardboard wrapped, book-shaped package on your doormat! So, I will settle down later for a browse through Living the Creative Life by Rice Freeman-Zachary and maybe get through the first hundred or so of 1000 Artist Journal Pages. I also have a further confession to make - and I blame Natasha May for this one (in a nice way of course). I sort of bought another art book which hasn't arrived yet. You see, she wrote a lovely blog post reviewing her favourite art books and this one called Drawing Lab kind of caught my eye (and my credit card). So, I just sneaked onto the Book Depository and it forced me to buy it - I swear it did... Honest!

Friday, 2 July 2010


An artistic prompt on Freedom... Hmmm... my mind wandered to revolutions and liberty. My voice sang along with George Michael and my heart soared with the words of Martin Luther King. That's where the problem began. I read his most famous speech and I felt so humbled, so overwhelmed. This was the freedom I wanted to paint. But wow, how do you paint that passion? How do you get inside that ring of freedom and bring it to life?

My paintbrush just sat there laughing at me. Sometimes it is so easy to respond to these creative prompts. This week though my mind was overflowing plus I was so busy with ... well ... life that I didn't have the freedom to create.

I gave up in the end and decided to just give myself the freedom to create whatever I fancied. I just let the Muse take over. She was clearly in a strange mood... But thinking about it, why shouldn't we just paint whatever we like. Why do we need to be focused on what other people might think. This painting was not going to be for sale. Yes, it would be placed on t'internet for all and sundry to gawp at, but should I care what people think about my art? I think I grew up believing that art should be realistic. I carefully painted flowers and landscapes to match their natural counterparts. Now, at last, I am letting myself go. Art for me now isn't just about delicate watercolours. Now it is about experimentation, collage, texture, feeling and, yes, Freedom!

So, this is my post this week for Inspiration Avenue, but also I'll stick it in the Happy Friday category too. Creativity is what makes me happy and between the day job and the small grabbed moments of messy play this week, it has been a good one!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Branching out

I'm nearly at the end of the Kelly Rae Creative Business course - Flying Lessons. I have enjoyed the course though haven't been able to spend nearly as much time on it as I would have liked. Still, I can catch up on the material later. Biggest achievement has been to become a Tweeter or Twitterer or whatever chirpy name we like to give ourselves! I've also begun my Facebook Fan page. Well, I made a blank page... that's a start anyway!

I'm also really beginning to believe that I could so something here. With my sensible hat on it feels very much like a small something - an income supplement rather than a pot of gold but you know what, that is my goal for now. I have a 'proper' job I enjoy too where I get to write, write, write. Why not turn this artistic hobby into something that pays for itself and allows me a few treats along the way too?

I was trying to sleep the other night and thinking about this course. It feels like all Kelly's students (several hundred of us) are seeds ripening on a large tree. As the course finishes and the wind of change blows many of us are heeding her lessons and beginning our tentative flight out into the world. As is nature's way, some of us will fall by the wayside, distracted by other events and challenges, or remain stuck to the branches afraid to let go. Some saplings will begin to grow and reach out tentative shoots. One or two will become mighty trees with many branches. We all have the potential to be what we want to be. Sometimes the wind does need to be blowing in the right direction and lady luck be there to guide us to fertile ground, but we all have ambition and determination. We need to feed ourselves with the right dose and we'll make it.

So fellow flyers as we leave our teacher. Good luck out there! Let's all believe in ourselves, set those goals, take the rough with the smooth and take a firm hold of opportunity!

Image from Matt Hunt on Flickr. Look at how the seed carries a picture of its future self - Nature's own artistic impression. Deep inside we do too. I wonder what I look like?
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