Saturday, 30 March 2013

In the pink (and the dark)

I blew the fuse to the upstairs lights. Unfortunately I can't find the screwdriver to remove the cover of the fuse box so it's a bit dark up here in the office. The PC still works though - and it feels good to be a touch typist!

I've missed Sunday Sketches for a few weeks. In fact, I've been strangely absent from my blog this month too. Maybe I'm just building a head of steam for April. You see I've taken the possibly rash decision to join the A-Z challenge. 26 posts on a theme. I've written S already, but I guess I should start planning the remaining 25 - especially 'A'.

I'm finding it very hard to sit still (nothing to do with the rash in the previous paragraph). Listening to Ray Charles and the beat's got me.... Head's a bobbin, legs a twitchin...mashed potato... Let the good times roll...

I've been framing up my floral art in readiness to take it to the gallery. It's amazing the difference a frame makes - takes it to a whole new dimension.

It suddenly occurred to me that I could experiment in PhotoShop with different coloured frames and mounts. I can't quite believe that this has never occurred to me before. Why is it that we often fail to see the bleedin obvious when it's poking us in the eye?

So I present to you for your entertainment, 'pink poppies, framed'.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Around the corner

I went to New York this evening. The buzz was incredible. It was raining, but I danced through the downpour, high on the big city feeling.

OK, so it was the NY of my imagination, but I'm telling you those bars were something else...

This painting totally went with the flow. Starting with a few coloured streaks of general skyscraperishness, then built with collage and spot of rain-soaked mood, the city grew before my eyes. Monoliths of commerce and fashion rising before my eyes.

Flow is something that has been swimming around my mind today. I posted a Steve Jobs quote on my Facebook page about the mysterious creative process - where ideas are formed on the hoof as we ride through a wash of colour, texture and form. I knew this would be a picture of a city skyline before I started, but that was it. Everything else appeared on the page rather as it would on a first-time exploratory adventure around 'the city that never sleeps'. Corners were turned in my mind as new vistas appeared on the page.

Thanks to Michael over at Creative Tuesdays for the prompt - I needed a new direction and clearly it was across the Atlantic!

Teal, Magenta & Silver

What a delightful palette of colours to play with - soothing but with a cheeky dose of passion to give an edge.

Today these pieces are winging their way across the Atlantic to their second stop on the Magical Journal Journey round robin. These have gone in Kat's journal (which is more of a treasure chest really - complete with silver key...).

In a week or so I'll take delivery of Ange's White Journal which no doubt will pose an interesting artistic challenge... 

Kat made us little booklets to fill. I got carried away and added an extra page...

I'm not sharing it all here though - have to save a little surprise for when it arrives in the mail!

Definitely a mixed media mixed bag, but not many words. I seem to be suffering a word drought on this blog. Hoping for inspiration to come along and bash me on the nose!

Monday, 18 March 2013

It's the way I tell 'em

A great comedy sketch needs a few simple ingredients to make me laugh. Firstly, a liberal serving of cheese - over lots of corn. Mix it with effortless acting and sprinkle with comic timing and you have the makings of a classic - all that's needed to finish it off is a cracking punchline ... four candles anyone?

My sense of humour was nurtured by the likes of Tommy Cooper, The Two Ronnies and Morcambe and Wise - very end of the Pier showtime (without the rude bits) and I'll take any opportunity to grab a laugh with a well-placed pun.

Imagine my joy then when faced with a Quiz last week where, instead of testing on questions cricket or the spin-bowling of politics, all that was required was to supply the punchline to a list of jokes... I was in my element!

And guess who won first prize... Who's laughing now then eh?

I am now the proud owner of a digital photo frame... Why did the picture go to prison? Because it was framed...

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Wanna buy a ...?

Selling makes me really uncomfortable, which is stupid really because it turns out we're all in that business. OK, so we might not be trying to convince someone to buy a used car; but we're persuading all day - whether it's convincing our children that they really won't be able to taste that tiny bit of spinach you thought you'd managed to hide in the curry or persauding colleagues to take up a work project. It's all sales.

I'm struggling with the whole sales aspect to my art course. The teaching and preparation are a total delight and come with consumate ease. But stick me in front of Mailchimp and ask me to compose an email to invite folk to sign on the dotted line and I lock up. You see, I don't want to 'annoy' people, which is bonkers really, because if people don't want to read, then they can just hit delete. After all, I do it every day. I get sales emails from some people four or five times a week - they bombard me, but still don't annoy. I read the odd one but most of the time I just hit delete. I figure I might buy something one day... and sometimes I do... it's nice to see what they are up to...

So, here I am on a Sunday morning supposed to be composing another sales email and where do I end up - here in Blogger, basically hiding in a corner and coming up with excuses... I'm even worrying that readers will think this a sneaky attempt to try and sell - which it isn't. I just want to know if I'm the only one that cowers in the corner...

My business advisors would shoot me if I didn't now put a link to my course, so I'm going to slip it in, quietly at the bottom, where it won't disturb...

Here it is...

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Happy Mother's Day

I painted this for my Mum. Since she moved into the 21st Century, bought a laptop and discovered the internet she's also begun reading this - so I had best be nice! No teasing or cracking jokes about her computing skills - especially as it's Mother's Day today. It's easy to be nice about my Mum though, she's pretty wonderful. Loving, supportive, tasty food maker, creative, caring and generally everything a Mum should be. She's even doing the cooking today (I did offer readers, I assure you, but she insisted...).

I doubt she's checking this too early on Sunday, so can post this image of the card without fear of spoiling the surprise when I see her later. It represents a move to a different flora (although I am still painting poppies). Echinacea is my new obsession - or Cone flower as it is more often known (probably because no one can spell Echinacea (even the spell check is bemused, offering up 'machinable' as it's best guess).

I am also very enamoured of my Dylusions spray inks. I own six rapidly diminishing bottles and am lusting after the rest of the range. My fingers are permanently stained giving the impression of a nasty skin condition and severe bruising. What can I say... I'm an artist!

Sharing for Sunday Sketches... it's a bit beyond the sketch stage, but hey I like hanging out with that bunch so let's just pretend....

Friday, 8 March 2013

Prolific Painter of Poppies

I have been a prolific painter this week and even discovered a rather marvellous new technique purely by accident. These poppies were serendipity gift-wrapped in petals and ink. I want to try more... me likey!

This weekend my son is away and I am supposed to be sorting out my paperwork and accounts... but then again, maybe I could just squeeze in another painting or six...

As always, it being Friday and all that - I'm sharing these with the crew at Paint Party Friday (who are probably sick of the sight of poppies from me by now, but what can I say...

What will art be distracting you from this weekend?

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

The power of story

Our 21st century brains are swamped every day with a raging torrent of messages that we are expected to digest and decide upon. Little sticks, the flow too fast and furious. But there is a way to tame this deluge and still get your message across - it's called The Power of Story. I was hit with two such tales yesterday.

The cardboard coaster that took me to 1942

The British Red Cross sent me a free gift through the post, a couple of coasters and a notecard. It was a lumpy envelope - the kind you are intrigued to open.

The coasters depict some embroidered flowers. Nothing special to look at, and I assumed designed perhaps from something donated by a nice lady at the WI. Then I read this...

"The design featured on the front of this card has been taken from one of the panels from the Changi Quilt, made by women imprisoned in Singapore during the Second World War.

Please use this card to inspire others to support the life-saving work of the British Red Cross."

Suddenly it stopped being a coaster and became a story. Real women enduring terrible hardship. The embroidery contained fear, hope and determination. It was a story of surviving from day to day, a journey that many more would start than finish. It was a powerful piece of communication that conjured up the spirit of camaraderie, overcoming adversity. I could almost see the ladies sitting on a humble bed or gathered together allowing the concentration of the stitches to push back both the boredom and fear. I noticed their faded dresses, the hairstyles they struggled to maintain, the humidity. For a brief moment, I sat among them and I thought about the Red Cross and the work they do to relieve suffering.

It doesn't have to happen

Spending an hour of one's precious evening crying is not really what I'd pick out for myself normally. In fact, it's just as well I had no idea what I was letting myself in for when I decided to watch a TV movie called Mary & Martha (or possibly Martha & Mary...). I was browsing the catch-up TV listings and spotted Hilary Swank and Brenda Blethyn and figured that such distinguished actresses were likely to make engaging viewing.

Had I known it was about these two mothers both losing their sons to Malaria, I may not have watched and would have gone to bed dry-eyed and without feeling the desperate need to hold tight my own boy in my arms and thank God.

I've seen plenty of documentaries about tragedy of this preventable disease and I've donated money to buying mosquito nets because of those. However, this was a story where you could connect with characters. You became a part of both their happy lives and their subsequent heart-breaking grief. It also took the disease out of the far-distant third world and firmly into the sitting rooms of the West. Malaria was suddenly in the room with me, not just a sun-baked distant land. We felt their pain and the frustration of knowing that this is and should be prevented. It also told us that we can all do something - even if it's just donating enough cash to buy one net...

My thanks to Richard Curtis - writer of this dramatic film (and co-founder of the Comic Relief charity) - even if I was crying for 60 of the 90 minutes of this film.

You can buy a net here.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Show and tell

One of my favourite art mediums is mixing my paintings digitally, layering up the textures, blending here, enhancing there, chopping a bit off - ouch!

The finished creation above came from the piece I 'made earlier' below - a grungy collage of a bit of this and that.

I liked where it was headed - some urban scene frequented by the rich and famous. There's a splash of night-life, a dash of fashion and and a hint of a dream.

It was the latter that prompted the additional layers, remnants of night time memories floating across her consciousness. What is she remembering I wonder... What do you think?

Well, that's my Show & Tell this week for Inspiration Avenue.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Waste not...

A bit of ink left on the back of a stencil goes a long way... in fact it may even present a result of far more interest than the original intention - especially when applied to the paint spattered reverse of the birthday card you are making... Then if you apply a little stamping, some tape and a dash of loving care and attention you end up with this. Rather like it if I say so myself.

I've never really been one for throwing things away truth be told. Birthday cards, bits of string, concert tickets, toys, drawings... all help to feed the memory, each containing a small part of the story of me.

I wonder what a psychologist would make of my art stash - tiny scraps of paper with interesting patterns, ribbon, acrylic skins, rusty bottle tops, beads, random words from magazines... It's almost as if the hard drive of my brain reached its maximum and had to download somewhere!

Sharing with Paint Party Friday - hello friends - what's in your art stash?


I'm running my art course again online if you are interested in participating. There's an early bird offer on until Monday - details here.

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