Thursday, 30 June 2011

Just call me Beaker

Oh have I been having fun these past few days. Well, actually it has been quite a week. I've spent daylight hours writing until the keyboard starting bleeding, but come twilight and it's time to paint and, more specifically, experiment.

The Experimental Art course finally started and I came over all scientific. I even put my lab coat on and styled my hair like Beaker. Just as well I don't speak like him or you'd have trouble understanding.

I am actually very excited and all I've been doing is doodling and staining. I do however feel like a proper experimenter. Take yesterday for example, I sprinkled coffee granules on a sheet of paper torn from Country Living and dripped water on it. Not at first glance art. In fact, I had to warn my boyfriend against throwing it out. He wasn't the slightest bit surprised that a soggy sheet from a magazine drying out over a mug was part of one of my projects. Funny that...

I knew I'd do something with it and tonight, while fighting a feeling of restlessness, I scanned it, called over Dr Bunsen Honeydew and experimented. What do you think? Is it art?

Catch the week's experiments in my Flickr pool

And remind yourself just how funny Beaker & Bunsen are... they even get to experiment with coffee too!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Nursery Rhymes - Horror stories for the young

It has come to my attention that nursery rhymes are not sweet little ditties to teach children how to be nice each other and share their toys.

No, they are in fact 'soft horror'. Let's look at the evidence.

Ring a ring o roses - this is not a sweet collection of nonsense works strung together for the purpose of dancing and falling over. No, this is a song about the Black Death which wiped out huge swathes of the European population in the Middle Ages. The ring being the red rash, the pocket of posies are the herbs that were carried to ward off germs (not terribly successfully), the sneezing a further symptom and the falling down... well I think you can figure that out for yourselves.

Let's look at some more.

Rock a bye baby. In this rhyme some idiot has placed the baby's cradle in a tree from which it promptly falls out and down comes baby cradle and all. I'd rather not think about the consequences of these actions.

Jack and Jill. Jack 'breaks his crown'. Sounds to me like he fractures his skull. The boy needs hospitalisation and stitches. What does he get? Vinegar and brown paper - yes, that well known cure for a bleed on the brain. Jill comes tumblin after, but we don't get to hear what happens to the poor lass. Presumably Jack just left her there while he messed about with home remedies.

Little Miss Muffet - not only does she have to eat curdled milk, but she gets her wits scared out of her by a giant spider.

The old woman who lived in a shoe - will someone please call child protection.

Three blind mice - no one can pretend that this story ends well for the poor mice.

You get my drift...

And now, for my entry to the Inspiration Avenue creative challenge entitled Nursery Rhymes from which this strange blog post cometh

Watch them go round that bush... for tis not the Mulberry Sale right now and verily are there only four handbags left, but 6 little ladies dancing round the tree...? 

Original illustration by Arthur Rackham, Mulberry Handbags borrowed from Mulberry (hope they don't mind, but I did give them a link...)

Monday, 27 June 2011

In the pink

I've been planning a post for weeks to showcase the incredible handmade items I've bought, been gifted and won from the artistic talents in blogland. However, given that it's going to involve a lot of scanning and photography, I keep putting it off.

So, in the spirit of my new 'more efficient and organised' Lisa, I am breaking down the big project into smaller, more manageable tasks, and will throw a mention in here and there as we go along... Keep reading for the first...

I'm  posting today for The Summer of Colour - Pink. It seems I am keeping to my girl theme for this series. They just keep asking to be painted, so who am I to argue?

This one is on wood. Layers of collaged pink papers make up the background. She's painted in acrylics with a topping of fibres, an admission ticket, some mod-roc and a few other things I found skulking around in the bottom of my art box. Whole thing then softened with a coating of beeswax.

The fibres came to my possession on Saturday morning, wrapping a key chain I'd purchased from Cameron of Paint Myself Pretty. A veritable package of delights awaited me on the doormat yesterday. Tags, postcards, stickers... I was bouncing around the kitchen with joy. So much sharing and care is taken to support each other in this community. I just wanted to say thank you to Cameron and to you all.

Look - it's pink!

Without all this support, comments and messages, to say nothing of the inspiration from challenges, I would never have had the confidence to keep growing with my art. This community we have here is truly a wonderful thing.

At the risk of getting all mushy, it's time to move on. Also wanted to share with you a pink photograph. I took it in London earlier this year when I met up with Amelia and some lovely ladies from the Experimental Art Course - which coincidentally starts again today - I'm a returning student :)

Of course, the sky wasn't actually shocking pink, because frankly that would be a bit disturbing - PhotoShop helped there. This piece is a particular favourite of mine. I love the composition and the contrast of colour. If you'd like to see more of my photos from this particular shoot, you can find them on Flickr.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

ood elddood


Above all I am experimenting!

Limbering up excercises for Experimental Art which starts on Monday and conveniently matches this week's Tic Tocc prompt to doodle.

I have experimented thus:

Pour yourself a chilled glass of Sauvignan Blanc (don't stop to see how to spell it because that wastes valuable time).

Grab a magazine and a sketch book and put on some very cool music. My choice being Classic Chilled Ibiza Mix. Have a slurp of wine and flick through glossy pages until something grabs you.

Draw it with your 'not usual' hand and sort of flow along with the tunes... sipping more wine is a good idea...

Let inspiration drift through your pen. The music was rubbing my senses, the wine soothed them and the lyrics spoke to me... so I wrote them down ...  backwards, with my left hand and back to front. I switched pens. Why make this easy? A calligraphy pen that needs to be regularly dipped in a pot of ink is clearly more of a challenge.

Then, I took what I'd learned and applied it to this half-finished sketchy doodle lady for shading and hair[?]. Can you read it?

Sharing for Sunday Sketches too.

One of my many prepared backgrounds in my sketchbook came in very handy!

Friday, 24 June 2011

The Neverending Painting

Is it finished? Is it? You tell me!

The final canvas from Flora Bowley's workshop at the Do What You Love Retreat. It bears little resemblance to what I brought home. Those on the workshop might remember the memaid who then got painted over! The face reappeared in a different spot on the canvas, but clearly she was determined to be seen! What do you think? Is it too 'busy' now? Does the composition work?

Last time I joined the Paint Party Friday crew she was moving in this direction. Did I got too far?

What do you think? Is it too 'busy' now? Does the composition work?

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Live Laugh Love

"Life is a pure flame, and we live by an invisible sun within us."
Thomas Browne

Normally I would write something now - you know me, never can resist a little essay to accompany my art. However, I am very tired and stayed up too late playing with this. There is however a glimmer of light still in the sky reminding us that, despite the rain and chill, it is Summer!

So, to celebrate the Summer Solstice and for all those knee deep in mud at Glastonbury, this is some Summer sun just for you.

Well, it appears that I have managed to write an itsy little bit... And, well now I'm on a roll, so I might as well share how the prompt of Summer Sun at Inspiration Avenue and anticipation of the Experimental Art Course starting on Monday, got me snipping and tearing shades of turquoise and yellow from magazines to make this collage. After the tedium of waiting for glue to dry, I painted on streaks of real sunlight (tis true!) and snatched a little patch of blue from between the clouds. A little digital enhancement and she was ready.

She was going to be rising out of Stonehenge, but she heard the guitars tuning up a few miles distant on Glastonbury Tor (see pics on link) so pulled on her wellies and headed over. It might be raining, but as you can see, she carries her sun within!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Wishing for Summer

When Jamie Ridler asked "What do you wish for Summer?"... I yelled at the screen "Some Summer would be nice!" It's cold and raining again this morning and the nights drawing in now too...

However, I am a glass half full kind of girl and so, regaining the proper positive spirit (and hoping that temperatures that require skimpy short-wearing arrive soon), I shall cast my wishes to the universe.

This summer, in true Lisa-fashion, I am once more taking on every single opportunity that comes my way wearing an interesting hat. This keeps me out of mischief, but also requires some distinct time-juggling and smarter working. All achievable with a little self-discipline.

I've set myself some easy goals to get me started. First one is to get  up in the morning with the first alarm and avoid the snooze button. It's a small goal, but already working - I think we're on Day 5. Not only am I up 20 minutes earlier every morning, but I leave sleep stupor snoozing on the pillow. It appears that nodding off for an extra 10 minutes, then another 10... just makes me more tired. Well, what do you know? These last few mornings have seen me positively bouncing and throwing myself into tasks with renewed enthusiasm.

Another goal is to exercise at least 10 minutes per day with a proper workout 3 times a week. Mix this with eating less chocolate, cakes and biscuits and we might see a few pounds dissolve from the waist and hips.

So, now we've got the energy levels up, we'll be ready to tackle the big projects. It's going to be a busy few months with plenty of writing work coming in, opportunities to use my creativity in employee engagement exercises and big ambitions with my art. I could tell you all now, but lunch break is over and I have to get back to work (plus, I'm sure you've read enough already!).

PS: What's up with blogger today? Can't load images. Methinks he hit the snooze button one too many times!

Monday, 20 June 2011

Green lady of Fridays

Friday nights just aren't what they used to be. Long gone are the days where you'd find me in some bar in London's West End using my trick of standing sideways to worm my way to the bar quicker. There was never anywhere to sit, but hey where would be the fun in that? We'd go out, more often than not a gaggle of giggling girls, with the intention to mingle, to meet, dance, make eye contact with the opposite sex... fuelled by an intoxicating mix of alcohol, music and bonhomie.

Friday nights meant letting your metaphorical hair down and celebrating the end of the week with a P A R T Y.

Now, a few more years under my belt, things have I admit slowed down a little (for one thing, I can get drunk on only two glasses of wine... would have been a money saver in the old days I can tell you). Last Friday night, with my son sleeping soundly upstairs, my boyfriend fighting mythical creatures on the PC and his daughter watching movies on the TV - I spent my evening drawing!

Not quite the wild times of the 1990s, but actually just lovely! I spent hours on this girl. She is for the theme of green in the Summer of Colour. I pulled out my leafy shades from my prismacolours, took my virgin extra large sketchbook and just drew and shaded and drew and blended - a labour of love. Then, when she was finished, I scanned her and a luscious green background I've painted (but not actually done anything with) and blended them together in the trendy bar known as PhotoShop. The finishing touches to this fantasy cocktail was a giant grungy brush.

She looks a bit like the Absinthe fairy, don't you think?

OK confession, I did also have a glass of wine while I was creating - funnily enough a brand I remember discovering in some fancy bar back in the day ...

PS: While I've got you here, I must tell you about an event happening this September that I would love to attend (but finances and time won't allow this year). It is Sweet Freedom Retreat - where Wild Women go to create. Sounds incredible - especially since my bloggy friend Kelly Berkey will be there teaching. Ah... since I went on the Do what you Love Retreat, I feel an addiction to these gatherings of like-minded souls coming on. An annual treat perhaps?

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Make art

These birds needed some more regal paper than the plain old cartridge they had been drawn upon. I mean, look at them - they're exotic, their plumage doesn't lift in any old damp wind, no it ruffles in tropical breezes laden with scents of spice and bloom.

One of them at least is destined to grace my final canvas from the Do What You Love retreat. It is so nearly finished... it just needs foliage and feathers for finishing finesse! I practiced a few and prepared to post them for Sunday Sketches, but they looked so sad in their black & white. These birds were meant for irridescent colour and songs to lift the heart. I treated them to a little swag and swirl and I think they feel much better for it. In fact, they've started squabbling over who gets to go in the painting, so it's getting a tad noisy round here... Time to move on.


This next sketch went wrong. The poor lass had a mouth that didn't quite line up with her nose. However, there are never any mistakes or disasters in art - just opportunities to create something new (that's what I keep telling myself!).

First I dragged a wet brush over the watercolour crayons to smudge the colour, then I spiced her up in Photoshop with filters and blending - et voila - she sparkles! I learnt some new techniques by experimenting too. She's still hiding under that gossamer scarf though, despite the fact her features have undergone extensive PS surgery! Now, if only I could remember every step I went through for future reference...

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Some fruit for a sweet Saturday

I've been lying in bed this morning with a head bursting with ideas - I even came up with a comedy sketch. It's a bit lame compared to this one though - pure genius!

I had to share this with the bloggers at Sweet Saturdays on Diana Evans' site. To me it is one of the sweetest pieces of comedy writing I've ever seen - and the delivery was just peachy!

While I'm mention the lying in bed business. I might point out that there was a 6 in the hour. Will someone please tell me why, on a 'school day', the alarm has to do its level best to drag me kicking and screaming out of slumber and I spend all day yawning, then on the WEEKEND, yes internal sleep switch - the WEEKEND - I am fully conscious at 6am?

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Castles in the mind

Give me a castle and I'm away with the fairies (and Princesses, Knights, Wizards and other motley members of such a fortification). They are clearly on the mind this week - if I'm not watching Camelot or Game of Thrones, then I'm writing metaphorical stories and knocking down walls with sheer determination.

This is my favourite castle. Interestingly I dreamt about Warwick last night. I had bought my dream house there. It was incredible (though I got lost on the way back after a little exploration around town). I have a feeling about this dream - it's not the first time I've had it. If we take the literal interpretation, maybe it really is my dream house and one day I'll find myself living there. Symbolically it's about new beginnings. At least there weren't any zombies in it, which frankly makes a change. I seem to have the (paranormal) lion's share of undead in my night time imaginings.

I've been writing articles all day and creating all night (with a little bit of monster-bashing on an MMO in between!). Painting with my just received delivery of new Golden acrylics (sigh - those colours just blow me away). Then I took myself off into romantic-fantasy-land for the Inspiration Avenue weekly challenge.

I took the photo when I used to work an arrow's flight from these battlements. A bit of layering, some playing with brushes, textures and applying a little trickery and we have Warwick Castle - with a couple of twists in the telling. Can you spot them?

How could romantic intrigue not but happen in a place such as this - forsooth?!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The wall

Once upon a time there was a young lady trapped in a castle surrounded by an enormous wall. She lived a comfortable enough existence and had pretty much everything she wanted, but often wondered what lay beyond the encircling stonework. Was there still something missing from her life? As the years passed, the mortar holding the bricks began to age and crumble a little offering little peeks of what lay beyond. The gentle lady (note she's not young any longer!) was fascinated by what she saw - a world that previously existed only in her dreams was beckoning. It offered up such opportunity and excitement. The lady had just to knock at the cracks, play with the plaster, and surely a way would come through. She pushed back bricks and the world beyond began to open up before her. Eventually whole chunks came crashing down and she took tentative steps beyond the crumpled remains and began to taste new opportunity. It was all there beckoning her, yet still, she would return to the safety of her castle and weeks would go by when she would not even venture near the breaches in the battlements. What was stopping her?

Fear? A lacking in self-confidence? The devils of procrastination and distraction?

Finally one day (as yet another Birthday marked the passing of time) the lady stood once again by the biggest breach and really looked into the distance. "If not now, when?" she shouted. She was no longer afraid. She listened to her instincts and stepped forth...

A piece of writing inspired by Kat's Tic Tocc which taps into my subconscious thought.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Blue girl

Woke up this morning, couldn't get outa bed
Dreams were haunting
Running through my head
Something odd happenin
Somehow I just knew
My skin and hair had turned bright blue...

Da Ding Da Ding

Oh I got me the blues...Don't know what to do
The Summer of Colour just turned bright blue!

Are you sitting comfortably on your porch with your guitar readers? I got me some blues today for Summer of Color (it's OK, she's American, so she spells it funny) by Kristin.

I thought I'd practice some faces. It's more of a challenge than you'd think using the 'wrong' colours. My hand kept reaching for the peaches and pinks. Selecting shades took some thought. Which blue for where? It was fun. Eyes are a little too big, but the problem I have is that I like drawing eyes... so they just naturally want to stand out; they can't help themselves :)

Saturday, 11 June 2011

A sweet Saturday (low cal)

Hello my little cupcakes. Did you know that there was a day dedicated entirely to cupcakes?

Of course you did! Have you had yours today? Has the sweet and light sponge melted on your tongue sending little pops of happy thoughts through your taste buds? And what about that topping? For me, it has to be cream cheese... Ah... delicious thoughts...

As you can see, I've been baking. I've pulled out a heap of ingredients and mixed them up a little so you could enjoy a little treat. Shall I put the kettle on?

I love cupcakes, but they are banned at the moment. You know when it's diet time when a new season comes around and suddenly those shorts won't do up any longer. Also, it doesn't help when your son grabs hold of a lump of stomach and jiggles it about a bit...

I'm joining in with Diana Evans who likes to celebrate the sweetness of the first day of the weekend. It also squeezes in very nicely with the theme I set at Inspiration Avenue of Bake. One of these days I might actually have something in mind before I set the subject matter.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Slave to the keyboard

No paint has touched these fingers since the weekend... Alas I am but a shadow of my former self (well, actually I think I've put on a pound or two, but we'll gloss over that...).

I am a slave to the keyboard these days, but the writing is paying off as some award submissions I've written for one of my clients have made the finals - that's two this week, plus the one we actually won last week. Not that I'm bragging or anything, but if anyone reading needs an award submission penned, then I'm your gal! (A bit of self-promotion is a rarity on this site, so I'm going to go for it).

Last weekend did however see much paint underneath fingernails and accidentally rubbed into the carpet. I finished my peacock - who turned out to be one angry-looking bird - and had a little play with one of my Flora paintings (from the workshop I took). This one had a mermaid face in an earlier layer but she got washed away. Faces seem determined to reappear. Still very much work in progress.

The face obviously needs more work. I'm contemplating adding another flower, or just making this one bigger. What do you think? Or, maybe, the flower should become a balloon.... Decisions decisions.

I've joined Pinterest this week too. Compiling a board of inspirational artists I love. Take a peek. Will no doubt be adding more after my browse around Paint Party Friday this week.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

The summer of colour or indeed color

I was only saying this morning that I'm in danger of taking too much on, and here I am telling you about another artistic challenge group I'm joining! But hey, the truth is that art stuff is pure pleasure and when it becomes a chore then something is clearly going very wrong. None of these challenges require that I take part every week (despite my attempts to do so).

So, it was with pleasure that I tell you about the Summer of Colour - or Color as Kristin from Twinkle, Twinkle spells it. Each week we're focusing on one colour which sounds pretty easy to me. Week 1 will be blue - I could doodle with a Bic and still have something to post - though I hope for something a little more creative (and anyway, I think my Bic is black ;).

I can also multi-task. A bit of colour play will be great for my Experimental Art e-Course which starts later this month. I'm taking this for the second time as it was just so fab the first. Places still available if anyone wants to come and play - link  in my sidebar takes you there.

I've found it hard lately to differentiate between colour. Don't worry, I'm not having trouble with my eyesight. It's more down to the fact that every time I grabbed a tube of paint while 'on retreat' I inevitably had rather paint splattered fingers and paint... well it has a habit of transferring itself onto things...

Somewhat spookily, this song just began playing through my headset - I have iTunes on random... It's called Daydream in blue...

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Goblin up

I sketched this little fella while watching the final of Britain's Got Talent (or Britley's come Talent as my son likes to call it). He has nothing whatsoever to do with any of the acts or judges I hasten to add... though maybe there's an auditionee or two who've fancied turning Simon Cowell into him! This goblin just sort of appeared on the page. He wanted an audience and while his prize is not to perform at the Royal Variety Performance in front of the Queen, he does at least get to meet some lovely bloggers!

Thought I might share a little PhotoShop tip with you today. Now we all know what a pain it is trying to scan a pencil sketch. In the past I've fiddled with my scanner settings which helps, but if you have PS (I use the cheaper Elements) then all you need to do is create a duplicate layer then use the 'multiply' blending mode which magically 'ups' the intensity of your wishy washy scan, bringing back all the live imbued by your 2B pencil. Simples ;)

For Sunday Sketches - pop over and visit more. Who knows, perhaps someone has drawn Simon Cowell?!

PS: Actually, I think I'll call him Hoff - kind of suits him and is especially appropriate since one of the judges was THE Hoff!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Pots of gold

I've flung every colour of the rainbow into this as I'm sure you can tell. As I was gazing into its depths trying to decide what to do next, what theme to pick, colour to lead with I pondered on the metaphor that links with my life. Yes, I'm about to get all deep and meaningful here... you may wish to jump a couple of paragraphs to where I start talking about the painting again and fairies and stuff...

Right now I feel like I'm experimenting with every opportunity on the creative spectrum. I can't resist trying something new, sampling this, dabbling in that. I'm not sure where my business should go either. The core is the writing and that's how it will stay. I love it and it pays the bills. Why ask for more?

But then there's this art thing... You see I adore painting. It does something deep inside me and awakens this little magic spark. I'm like this piece you see here - a bit here, a bit there, staring to focus on one thing but finding something interesting elsewhere to take my attention. Somewhere at the end of this is my pot of gold but right now I'm not sure where it is or what's in it!

I've taken some advice though and hoping to hone in how I can juggle both writing and art and make enough money to do all things I want to do (and buy more paint!). I just need to focus.

For now, back to the painting:

Using lessons learnt from Flora Bowley's classes at the Do What You Love retreat, I've layered up colour and texture. I've let colour flow and the painting come to me. Listening to your painting is quite something - I highly recommend it. I'm seeing the rich florals of a summer garden bursting into life in the heat of the sun. Or fairy lanterns perhaps dancing in the twilight. There's also the beginnings of the outline of a dancing woman. Where will it go?

Right now the focal points appear to be the areas of strong orange. Are they enough? Does the eye travel around the piece as it should? Was does it need to lift it to life?

While I leave you to ponder, I'll return to my 5 year plan. I'm determined to go places dear readers...

Appropriately, the theme at Inspiration Avenue this week is 'over the rainbow'.

PS: Thank you for all the get well wishes. They must have worked because I am feeling a whole lot better today. Big smiles and hugs all round.

Friday, 3 June 2011


I had great plans for a literary post today to accompany this work in progress painting for PPF. Lots of words, deep thought and maybe even some story. Unfortunately I have once more been struck down by the dizzy inner ear thing I've been plagued with before and my mind has turned to squelch. Movement is a scary process. I'm not in the best of moods.

Still, don't want to miss the party. This isn't finished yet. I'm painting over old works - treating them as a ready-made layered background. Maybe one day when I'm famous but long gone, this painting will be unearthed and scanned by the latest digital technology to reveal the sad 'Lola' underneath. Poor Lola, she lost her youth, her Tony, her mind and her painting!

Hopefully have the finished version to show you next week.

Please send get well wishes my way. I feel pants :(

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