Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Letting go...

I've always loved my garden - a heady mix of honeysuckle, jasmine and clematis climbed the fences and dripped their petals on the cottage garden beds. Roses drooped in summer sun after the bluebells and bleeding hearts from spring went back to sleep for another year.

However, it might be time to concede defeat in the battle of the bindweed. No matter how hard I've tried to get rid of it over the years - even to the point of digging up rose bushes and painstakingly removing the deadly tangled roots before replanting - it still chokes every plant, climbs every stem and smothers my roses the second my back is turned.

All this rain did not help. It's like something out of a horror film out there. I half expect some viscious green tendril to snake out of the undergrowth and drag me in there by the ankle.

No, I fear the only solution is to dig everything up and over and start again.

I'm just rubbish at throwing things away though... I keep little bits of string from the labels of trendy surf-dudette clothing, bus tickets from holidays in faraway places, broken jewellery, rusty things I find squashed in the road. I have this belief that I'll find a use for everything. Digging up plants and throwing them in the bin just makes me feel queasy. I'm reaching a compromise position and will attempt to keep the roses in pots while I assess if they are weed free.

However, I accept that it has to be done. Just as I have to let go of the bus tickets and other accumulated junk and the bits of me that no longer (or possibly never did) do me service. Life is a journey forward and we can't move with freedom if we're tied down by the roots of the weeds we should have dug up years ago.


Sharing the beautiful pink of my climbing roses with Inspiration Avenue's Pink Challenge this week.

Monday, 30 July 2012


Do you like my new background? I should perhaps mention that I chose it for several reasons.

Firstly, because it makes me think of beach huts and let's face it, who wouldn't want one of those? I imagine myself creating a mini art studio by the sea, painting all day while watched by nosy seagulls, then selling my works to wealthy tourists who flock to my beach just for my art! (Don't knock it... this is MY daydream!).

Secondly, it has bunting. Bunting is one of my all time favourite words. There's just something about it that conjures up Britain and parties in village halls and school fetes and second-hand car lots as it rolls off the tongue. I also like the word rhubarb. Go on, say it ... slowly mind ... let your tongue savour the tang of each syllable. Delicious eh?

My favourite place name is Ouagadougou (that's the capital of Burkina Faso). I seriously love exercising my cheek muscles over that one.

What are your favourite words?

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Swirl girl

I like swirls - especially when they are sugary and on a cinnamon bun. These are more meditative (although one could argue that consumption of cake is the same thing!).

I've been reading about the power of the labyrinth. I was going to talk about these relaxing alternatives to finding oneself lost in a maze. However, by the power of the vine, I have instead been swirling of a different nature.

There is something equally therapeutic about swirling around the kitchen, music pumped up incredibly loudly on headset (don't want to wake sleeping child or annoy other half who is performing his own meditation on the shrine of Arsenal).

This swirling journal page has numerous quotes about finding ones way, but I have lost interest in them. I am instead immersed in sound - expensive sound. It makes a difference.

Posting for Inspiration Avenue's swirly theme and Sunday Sketches.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Gypsy bagpipes and a special day

I'm not sure that listening to a celtic melody played by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards will help me come up with some fitting story for this Indian Gypsy Queen.

If nothing else, the sound of the pipes makes me want to head north over the border into the wild glens and daydream of handsome men in kilts as I run through the heather.

I've had a painting frenzy over the past week so am able to once again join in the frivolity over at Paint Party Friday. I've still got the paint down my fingernails to prove it. At least I'll be able to join in on the "Isn't it hot"" conversations as the UK FINALLY starts to swelter in an appropriately summery fashion.

It must have been all those visitors arriving at Heathrow for a certain sporting event. They clearly packed us a little bit of sunshine each which was very kind of them.

I can also join in on debating the hot topic of that book which I am currently reading. Frankly I would like to smack the pair of them... but then again, I fear that may not be the solution...

PS: Something VERY SPECIAL is happening later today...

Fingers crossed Team GB!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

A postcard from India

Who knows what's going on in this postcard? Well, I mean the picture is easy to explain. It's a face covered in the multitude of coloured powder that is the brilliantly delightful Holi festival in India.

It's the back that's more mysterious. I mean these two used to correspond weekly, then there was a long hiatus, followed by that 'almost' meeting in the Isle of Man and now this?

Do they know something we don't?

For The Postcard Challenge by Darcy. Back story here!

PS: I'm kind of bored of them not talking to each other. I wish they'd tell me their story again so I didn't have to keep being all enigmatic!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

I saw the torch!

Excitement is fever pitch as the long countdown to the London 2012 Olympics reaches its final few days.

Yesterday I saw the torch as it passed by Rackspace HQ in Hayes. We lined the route decked out with flags armed with bells and confetti blasters and cheered our socks off! It almost made me want to run the 100m, execute a nifty pole vault and perform some kind of spectacular dive involving a large number of summersaults... almost...

Truth is THE SUN FINALLY CAME OUT! Yes, just in time for the sporting spectacle, we finally have some summer to go with our Olympics. We'd all been convinced that somehow the earth had slipped on its axis and we getting a double dose of winter chill - especially when the Jamaican Bobsleigh team got off the plane at Heathrow!

This seems as good a time as any to share this photo of me, the Torch, a Gold Medal and a very large man.

The very large man is Ben Hart-Davis - it's his gold medal. He won it in Sydney in the men's 8s rowing. It was a race in which his team were very much the underdogs, but they set out on their training regime two years earlier with one goal in mind and proceeded to direct every ounce of energy to 'making their boat go faster'. Go faster it did.

This photo was taken a few weeks ago. This is one of the torches that had already seen action in the relay, performing its part in history.

As I work towards my business goals, attempting to make my own history something worth recording, I'm now mindful of Ben's words - "Will it make the boat go faster?". What are you doing with your time today?

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Lessons from Geese

Our feathered friends bring inspiration today. This particular goose is called Cedric. He likes worms, chasing toddlers and honking really loudly.

My post today comes from an interesting piece of work based on the work of Milton Olson. It really resonates both with the work I'm doing for my creative business and being a part of this online tribe in Bloglandia.

What we can learn from geese:

Fact 1

As each goose flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the birds that follow. By flying in a V formation, the whole flock has 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.

People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier, because they are travelling on the thrust of each other. Taking lessons together and sharing your experiences and work offers just the support that many need to take them from 'thinking about' to actually 'doing'. Thank you to everyone that takes the time to comment on my work and a huge hug of gratitude to all the online art teachers who have helped me grow in ways I never thought possible.

Fact 2

When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.

If we have as much sense as a goose, we stay in formation with those headed where we want to go. We are willing to accept their help and give our help to others.

Fact 3

When the lead bird tires, it rotates back into the formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.

It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing leadership. As with geese, people are interdependent on each other’s skills, capabilities, and unique arrangement of gifts, talents, or resources. In other words, the teacher doesn't always know everything! We learn from each other.

My heart is constantly wrapped in a warm blanket of love and support from fellow bloggers and those I have met through online courses.

Fact 4

The geese flying in formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.


We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. In groups where there is encouragement, the production is much greater. The power of encouragement (to stand by one’s heart or core values and to encourage the heart and core values of others) is the quality of honking we seek.

Fact 5

When a goose gets sick, wounded, or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again. Then, they launch out with another formation to catch up with the flock.


We all have tough days. We will stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we’re strong.

That’s exactly what my creative business is about. I'm building a flock to give you all extra uplift. You don’t need to fly alone.

Across our tribe I've found some very specialised geese – that will not only keep you moving forward but ensure that you’re in the best shape to take advantage of current conditions. Once again I want to thank everyone for their support and helping me believe in myself.

Note 1: Lessons from Geese was transcribed from a speech given by Angeles Arien at the 1991 Organizational Development Network. It was based on the work of Milton Olson. It circulated to Outward Bound staff throughout the United States.

Note 2: Cedric was drawn using oil pastels while under the influence of a couple of glasses of Sauvignon Blanc.

Friday, 20 July 2012

To the Lake District and back...

... in around three hours.

Photo by walkinguphills on Flickr

Normally it's at least a four hour drive to get there. Then, to take in all the scenery, to walk the fells, skirt the shores and nibble on the gingerbread, why that's a few days at least...

Well, thing was I didn't have time to escape and frankly the weather's not really that encouraging of outdoor activity these days. So I cheated... I watched a TV programme while on the cross-trainer at the gym.

I followed Herdwick sheep across their heaf. I rode the Ravenglass railway and soaked in the scenery like a sponge. I wandered lonely as a Wordsworth and watched Peter Rabbit dodge Mr McGregor through the hedgerows. I had such a good time that I actually set myself an additional program on the cross trainer so I could carry on watching. The sun even shone. It was a perfect Artist's Date.

Above all, I remembered childhood summers clambering the fells and dipping toes in the icy lakes and rivers. After our first trip there when the sun reflected the mountains in the still lakes we felt we had discovered Nirvana. It truly is a place of magic where coming across an ancient stone circle or the remains of a Roman fort is nothing out of the ordinary and romantic teenagers can dream about heroes striding across the fields. I have diaries crammed with memories, but sadly the sun never shone quite so spectacularly again, so there's a fair bit of rain-damage to my notebooks!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Bring me sunshine

Bring me Sunshine, in your smile,
Bring me Laughter, all the while,
In this world where we live, there should be more happiness,
So much joy you can give, to each brand new bright tomorrow,

Make me happy, through the years,
Never bring me, any tears,
Let your arms be as warm as the sun from up above,
Bring me fun, bring me sunshine, bring me love.

Bring me Sunshine, in your eyes,
Bring me rainbows, from the skies,
Life's too short to be spent having anything but fun,
We can be so content, if we gather little sunbeams,

Be light-hearted, all day long,
Keep me singing, happy songs,
Let your arms be as warm as the sun from up above,
Bring me fun, bring me sunshine, bring me love.

Words - Sylvia Dee, Music - Arthur Kent

Yes, it's raining again. Yesterday I went to sea (OK, we stayed in the harbour... but it was still the sea), and my skin turned blue. Today I'm wearing socks and a jumper, my nose is cold and drippy and I can't feel my toes.

July? I think I may have gone through a time warp and it's actually January.

Thank goodness for Kristin's Summer of Colour to keep us warm. Final week and we're bringing out the watermelon.

Thanks to our gracious host for holding such a wonderful party! Now, let's just go find ourselves some Summer.

I should point out that the picture below is NOT a black and white photograph, nor has it been altered in any way shape or form. This is what Portsmouth Docks looked like on 15th July 2012. Tropical.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Me likey

I love this! There, I said it. I made it and I love it. Totally, unashamedly love it!

And what's even better is ... now, how can I explain it? It came from a lesson I wrote for my course. I inspired myself how to do it!

It started out like this...

 then evolved into into this

Before becoming this (with a little digital blending)


and I even love the back where the paint soaked through! (I intensified the colour a bit using PhotoShop)

I love ART!

Sharing this for Paint Party Friday. Too excited to wait until Friday to post it.

The inner critic is trying to grab my attention. She's not too sure that I should be quite so pleased with myself. After all, it's not really done to like your own work is it? We're not supposed to think we're any good.

Hey girl, got news for you ... I'm not listening tonight!

Monday, 9 July 2012

What the Muse wants

When the Muse wants to paint a portrait, she gets to paint a portrait. When the Muse wants to paint the same expression we sketched a few days ago, something a bit moody and introspective, then that's what she gets.

The Muse did not care that the colour scheme for this week was entitled Wild & Reckless. Don't get me wrong, she loved the colours. She just did not care for crazy abandon.

The Muse allowed me to pick a name for this girl, so I chose Wendy. The Muse changed her mind and picked Grace.

Who am I to argue with the Muse?

It's the Summer of Ice Cream Colour week 5.

Mixed media on watercolour paper. I layered up some hearts using a stencil and a stamp. I splatted with watercolour and acrylic. I collaged some old book pages, then drew Wendy/Grace with charcoal and picked out her features in acrylic.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Ten minutes

I so wish I had scanned in what this page in my sketchbook looked like ten minutes ago - before I leapt upon it and created Lola.

I will have to resort to a description from memory. It was a textured background dripped with alcohol inks. Pinks with a hint of peach and a simple charcoal outline of a face - hairless and wearing what looked like a swimming cap.

Ten minutes later and Lola was looking at me. She's tapping her shoe to a  flamenco rhythm. She wants to dance, buy first she's going to finish this glass of Sangria and attract the attention of Raoul...

I love to do quick sketches, to watch a face appear and smirk at me ready to tell their tale. I had quite a painty evening - you know it's been good when you discover green and purple stains up your arms and in your fingernails. I'm such a messy girl!

Today is pretty special if you're a Brit and hold even the slightest regard for sport. For the first time in 74 years a Brit will compete in the men's final at Wimbledon. No pressure Andy...

Friday, 6 July 2012

Postcards from the Isle of Man

It has been so long since we heard from our mysterious correspondents X and Y (back story here). I wondered what had become of them both. Had they stopped travelling, or just tired of each other and the mystery hanging over them that neither seemed happy to divulge?

Well, I can tell you that things have taken an interesting turn. It seems the wee folk have taken a hand in this friendship. Did you know that the Isle of Man is chock full of the Fae? It's true. I read a book about it!

It looks like they have both visited the magic isle, the same postcard shop and are thinking the same thoughts... But did they actually meet?

The mystery thickens like treacle on a cold day.

For Darcy's postcard challenge. I said I'd be back!


Here's the book I read... Fairies do exist!

Thursday, 5 July 2012

I painted that!

It's incredible what a difference a professional treatment can make to a painting. I created the original artwork on a piece of A4 paper. It wrinkled a bit and didn't really make much of an impact at that size, but I really liked it.

I asked the lovely people at Hello Canvas to make it up into a canvas print - and WOW! I am so chuffed with how it turned out. It now has pride of place on the wall.

I can't quite believe it's my art! That's me in the photo too... I'm trying unsuccessfully to  hide behind the canvas (just wanted you to see how big it was!).

It's so quick and easy to order prints this way and without the hassle and expense of needing a frame it's cost-effective too. You also get that wonderful excitement of waiting for something special to arrive by mail... Love that knock at the door from the delivery driver!

I have a feeling my walls are going to get crowded!!

Monday, 2 July 2012

Lemonade Mermaid

Ever wondered what happens if you don't drink your lemonade by the 'use by' date?

Well, usually not much. It might go a bit flat and lose a bit of zing... but did you know that if you add 147 strawberry seeds and a pinch of fairy dust, you might just find one of these little ladies taking up residence?

It's true. Nobody knows if they grow or just appear, since none have seen it happen. They just find her there swishing about in the bottle and singing of the sea and lemon meringue pie.

They are quite the conversationalists. This one is called Flossie (something to do with her hair I'm guessing, rather than her teeth). She told me that her sister, Svetlana, was once mixed with Vodka and ice and nearly drunk. Well, actually, she was drunk but in the inebriated sense, rather than swallowed whole.

I'm not quite sure what I'm supposed to do with her now. She seems quite happy swimming around the bottle, but the cats keep showing her more than a passing interest and there's only so many renditions of Bye Bye Lemon Meringue Pie that a girl can take...

Be careful what you do with fairy dust I say - and always consume your lemonade well before the 'use by' date.

Flossie is for The Summer of Ice Cream Colour - this week it's Strawberry Lemonade Punch.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Layered up

I love it when a plan comes together or, more specifically, layers do!

One sketch over some inky paper, one splat on the palette and one 'I prepared earlier'. Then let PhotoShop mix 'em up a little.

She's just the effect I was going for. Grunge, street art, urban, layered.

The colours and texture are just totally lush - seriously, don't you just want to roll in it? I want to wear this painting, I love it so much.

Raw, edgy. Suits my mood, which if you follow my blog may have noticed is a bit of a swinging affair these days. Probably not enough chocolate, despite the supermarket's best attempts.

She is me.

Sharing for Sunday Sketches.
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