Monday, 21 April 2014

With the tribe


Add together, a collaborative art project, a pile of journals filled with art, photographs and the written word, a large table surrounded by the creators and what do you get? A lot of talking!

Saturday was the first meet up of eight of the 22 participants of the Intervention art journal project. With each book having its own theme, we spend a few weeks with each before passing onto the next in the circle. Around a year has rolled by since we began and the books are fattening up nicely, bursting with colour and collage, dreamscapes, surrealism, poetry, prose and err... phallic mushrooms!
Photo by Lucy Sharpe
We each brought the book we were working on - there was much excitement when I spotted my own (titled Words of Wisdom) in the pile. I am so in love with the work already inside of it.
I adore hanging out with other creatives - folk just like me who love to paint, write, take photographs and make mess. Even though I had never met any of these seven other ladies before, and only exchanged a few Facebook messages with a couple of them, I knew we would never be stuck for conversation!  Even if the rest arrived with sealed lips, I knew I could keep talking on my own on the subject for hours - but that wasn't necessary!
I don't get to meet with members of my tribe very often, so when I do...
Photo by Lucy Sharpe

We shared our thoughts and experiences from the project and our own personal stories of why we signed up to the project and how it has helped us develop as artists.

Photo by Lucy Sharpe
Crimbo (above) brought us all together, dreaming of a collaborative project that would push our creative direction and bring together a tribe. As we draw close to the final rounds of the books, we are making plans to share these mini-works of art with the world. I for one, can't wait to see all 22!

Photo by Lucy Sharpe

 The journal below is called Isolation. That's why it's on its own ;)

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Creativity, The Muse & Me Part 2

Following on somewhat logically from Part 1 yesterday, I present Part 2 in my Creative Interview (still no call from Graham or Oprah though...)

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I struggled to answer this one. For a start, I am not sure I have one. I do like to try so many different techniques - perhaps that is my differentiator. I am not afraid to try anything new. I freely sample flavours, taking a dip into this, a dab of that and seeing what comes out of the pot when I mix them all together.

I paint when I write too. Words are such beautiful creatures and they love to play together on the page. I just give them free rein.

Why do I create what I do?

I simply have to!

I can't just write for example. It has to be something requiring a thought process, a creative act.

I believe in the power of our Muse. She is a fickle creature though and gets frightfully cross when I don't bring something to life, yet will quite happily disappear off somewhere entirely on her own agenda whenever she feels like it.

She was only a sporadic visitor for a time. I think she got fed up with me pursuing other interests - boys, bars and soap operas mainly...

Then, around five years ago, we were reunited and swore never to desert each other again. It was a special moment!

In my professional life, I mould words into articles, newsletters, scripts, videos. I create for others. I am always firing up my imagination and can't fathom a role where I didn't. In fact, from past experience I know what this does to my soul and it aint pretty!

How does my writing & creating process work?
"It just happens" is perhaps something of a lame answer; and when I pause to think in depth of course, it isn't true.
A useful trick is to just START! Yes, sometimes it is indeed as simple as that! Put you pen to paper and let the words flow, get the colour onto the page.
When I'm painting I'll often start with an abstract background using layers of paint and collage - old book pages being a particular favourite. You can go from blank page to the opening chapters of your 'visual story' very quickly. I find that drawing or painting on this new surface is very forgiving removing a need or desire for perfection. It opens up a gateway to be BOLD. Go on, give it a try!
Writing is a layers game too. Don't feel you have to start at the beginning... cut and paste ... Just show up and let it happen!
Next week, showing up on this little blog hop we have...
Kat of Wright Story - Kat is a I'm a Mum, writer, artist & generally creative person with health problems - primarily dealing with a chronic illness (multiple sclerosis).
She explores creativity and story through art, writing, music, photos and journaling and is discovering how creative activity can benefit health and wellbeing.
Alexandra of Blue Chair Diary is a simple girl turning life's difficulties into something beautiful through writing and art. As a self-taught illustrator she is currently finishing my studies for entrance to Law School.  She LOVEs perfect hot cuppas, cozy blankets, hot water bottles, her adorable puppy and amazing guy!
Tracey Fletcher King the wittiest artist I know who paints the everyday and makes life oh so much prettier!

Monday, 14 April 2014

Creativity, The Muse & Me - Part 1

This week I'm interviewing myself (as Graham Norton and Oprah still haven't called...). It's all part of a lovely little blog hop. I was nominated by Latisha Guthrie of Petal and Moss. I met Latisha last year on Pilgrimage - she's a special lady.  Go visit her blog and find out more!

Anyway, I started answering the required questions and got totally carried away with my answers, so I am going to split them over a few days so you don't get sore eyes reading it all or, worse still, nod off!

So, without further ado, let us begin at the beginning.

What am I working on?

Now there's a question! It might have been better to ask what I'm not working on! I'm one of those people who likes to have a whole pile of irons in the proverbial fire. Some might say I take on too much, which is often true (and I never learn!). I go through phases of frenetic activity followed by a bit of singe-ing around the edges that threaten to ignite to full-blown burnout. I am getting a little better at managing this ... or at least I am trying my hardest ...

So, let's focus on a few of my current rash of projects:

1. Online art courses

I am a self-confessed art course junkie; but this is an addiction of which I have absolutely no intention of quitting. You'll see a recurring theme here for a passion for learning - more on this later.

So far this year I have been taking three courses:

Studying under the Masters led by Jeanne Oliver and a host of passionate artists. We have imagined ourselves into the art studios of the geniuses of Matisse and O'Keeffe, sitting alongside their ghosts and feeling our way into their paintbrushes. We didn't just restrict ourselves to those of bygone eras and centuries though. One of my favourite modern artists is Francoise de Felice and I loved the week we played with her soft techniques and beautiful ladies.

With Misty Mawn's Full Circle, we have journaled, sculpted, snapped, painted, drawn, collaged and gone digital. I have gone through nearly a vat of gesso and filled my phone's memory with photo manipulation apps. If it's captured... I'll grunge, double expose and recolour it!

Finally, the smiley face of Carla Sonnheim brightens my inbox with a monthly dose of fairytale magic in the Year of the Fairytale. This month we are building up mattress layers of story in our illustrations of The Princess and the Pea.

2. Collaborative Art Journals

I am a joyous participant in two of these projects. The Magical Journal Journey is now in its third year and iteration. This year our themes centre around our favourite artists. Matisse is my man. I created the first few pages then sent it on its globe-trotting way to receive my friends' art!

The second of these collaborations involves around 25 artists. This Saturday I am getting to meet many of them for the first time - I can't wait! We might all be relative strangers to each other - but I know we will have PLENTY to talk about!

3. My book!

Yes, those that know me well will be aware that I have promising to get myself published for centuries... But at last I may have actually made a start with the semblance of a plan, and as fortune would have it, there's ... you guessed it ... another online course to help me get there ... Christine Mason Miller's Conscious Booksmith course will help me launch my words from head to page and to take the plunge into becoming a bona fide author. Who knows, I may even write two - depending on writer's angst...

4. Continuous bookish learning

I have a recurring dream that I am back at University and realise far too late in the term that I haven't attended any lectures or written my essays. I think it's a form of regret that I didn't study harder. I did OK, but didn't exactly set the academic world on fire - I kept all that passion for the social life to be honest... They say education is wasted on the young and I would have to agree. Now though I devour 'text books' - on business, marketing, creativity, positive thinking, self help, motivation, organisation, feminism and magic. I just can't get enough of this learning malarkey!

Well that will do for today - come back tomorrow for the next question and the line up of bloggers who will take up the baton next!

Today, here's a quick link to the other two bloggers on the hop with me this week - Lisa Hofman and Eileen Nishi.


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Work shoes

I have several pairs of work shoes. They don't have steel toe-caps, rubber grip soles nor do they glow in the dark. They aren't specifically designed for being on your feet all day with soft linings or moulding to protect the feet. They aren't hard wearing and I wouldn't wear them for an interview.

No, these are special shoes for ladies. The kind with high heels and flimsy straps. They don't stay on very well and require practice to walk in them. They are extremely uncomfortable and I can only really them indoors when I don't plan on moving about too much (e.g. at work!)  - but darn they look good...

Monday, 7 April 2014


My friend Moyra introduced me to this word today on her Facebook page. I think it will fast become one of my favourite words for saying aloud - alongside rhubarb and bunting!

But what on earth can it mean I hear you ask. Did Moyra make it up, or in fact is it ...

a) An Australian 'delicacy' of the type favoured by men of the bush like Crocodile Dundee? Bungaroosh is a simple dish made with the root of the Bunga bush and ground, dried witchetty grub. Delicious... (if you've got no taste buds!).

b) A form of bribe. Bungaroosh is the poorer cousin to Baksheesh. It's a bribe made by offering a promise rather than hard cash or goods. It can be found in the original Aladdin story within 1,001 Nights when Aladdin offers bungaroosh to the sly shopkeeper in return for his freedom.

c) A building material used only in houses in Brighton. Bungeroosh is a mixture of bricks, cobblestone, pebbles and other hardcore which is set  in lime and used in construction. It is liable to erosion from water and never really caught on outside of the Brighton area.

Answers on a postcard to the usual address...

Saturday, 5 April 2014


There's an English Maple tree outside my office window that has, in the course of a week, begun to glow.

Each day the green tinge has become just that little bit brighter and the shapes more defined. It is Spring! Now, if the sun would just come out...

I am slowly unfurling this morning too. Pulling myself out from the blanket of a cold virus and attempting to dislodge the thick layer of down in my head. After two months of exercising nearly every day, a week without and I feel like my joints are rusting.

The new me had felt like she had a full tank of fuel on board and was ready to hit the road. I was bursting with energy and drive ... until POP! Flat tyre!

Be gone runny nose and tickly chest - you are no longer wanted!

I took the photo this morning (in my PJs - to give the neighbours something to talk about as I haven't done anything eccentric outside for a while), and was rather pleasantly surprised to see a little friend hiding among the leaves. Can you spot her?

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Ah.... the weekend

Ah... the weekend. It stretches out before you full of promise - all those activities you promised yourself you would embark upon, the walks in the sunshine, the books to read, words to compose and paintings to dive into.

Then, quite suddenly, it reaches its limit and PING.... Suddenly it's Sunday evening again!

This weekend will be different though for I am making a LIST. Yes, my to do list is migrating from a weekday habit over to leisure time and I shall take great joy in ticking off...

1. Paint a masterpiece
2. Run a marathon
3. Tidy the house

OK, maybe just one of those... and after I've put my feet up ... and written a blog post.... QUICK! Add those to the list!

PS: The image doesn't really have much to do with this post - it's just a bit of fun I did a few weeks ago with a copy of a Matisse I painted and a holiday snap. It's my Muse on holiday...

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Inspired by ... Jennifer Judd McGee

The Magical Journal Journey continues again in 2014 as myself and eight other artists continue to send our books around the globe to share our art.

This year our theme is Inspired by... Each of us chose an artist we love and that we felt would provide suitable creative lessons to our friends. We are studying their work closely then producing our own from the inspiration gleaned

I took Matisse as my maestro. Kat Wright, whose journal I received first, chose a living artist who fresh, lively and fun work she felt truly drawn to. Jennifer Judd-McGee is passionate about nature and her patterns.

Now, here is confession time. I looked at her work and thought it would be easy to create something inspired by it. I couldn't have been more wrong! I laboured long and hard to create this first spread. I pulled my hair out as nothing quite sat right next to each other or fit. I pulled off collage and layered more. I swore... I know, naughty me... I got really angry when my base layer of book page came unstuck too!

Things got a bit better on the other side, but I still wasn't entirely happy:

But then finally I felt I got into my stride. I stopped looking too closely at Jennifer's work and let my Muse pull the strings. We'd soaked ourselves in JJM tea and now it was simply time to pour.

It's a fine line to tread between copying the style and being influenced it - "making it your own" as TV talent show judges are so fond of saying! I'm not entirely sure where this work ended up but it was a challenge from which I learnt about the power of the line, the 'doodle', positioning and colour choice.

I loved the organic shapes of her work and the simplicity which hid a carefully planned composition.
Jennifer Judd-McGee - I am your newest fan!
Final part of the project promises to be the most nerve-wracking - we are collaborating on painting the covers of the journal. I guess I was lucky to have a blank canvas so didn't have to put anything over anyone's work. Although, I did cover up Kat's painstaking layers of gesso with a sheet of paper I had created a mono-print on... Sorry Kat!
I wonder what my artist friends will add to this! I felt it was the kind of background Jennifer would approve of!
Before I go, I thought I'd also share these greetings cards made once the inspiration was fully flowing through my veins.


Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Beards and other things less hairy (although a little hair-raising)

Have beards suddenly come back into fashion among smart young men? I saw some incredibly attractive specimens while travelling around London town today - beautifully groomed they were too - no shabby fuzz balls or harbourers of crumbs and bird nests. Nor were they masquerading as full facial hair under the guise of a bit of a stubble. No, these were class hirsute young men, carrying their accessory with aplomb. I wish I had the balls to photograph a few - I should have pretended I was a model scout or something...

It was a strange day for people watching to be honest. There seemed to be a staggering quantity of people who looked or sounded 'familiar'. Faces that rang bells somewhere deep in my subconscious but for whose names I just couldn't pull out. Then I popped my head in the National Gallery and could have sworn this chap smirked at me... We definitely made eye contact...

Perhaps he was trying to tell me why he had shaved his beard off!


As a respectable writer, I thought some research might be called for. It turns out that I am about 12 months behind the times - beards are "so 2013 darling". In my defence, I do live in the boondocks where it takes a year or too for any trend to catch on, unless it's a new type of tracksuit of course...

Monday, 17 February 2014

Are you a writer or a typist?

Photograph (c) Lisa Wright

When I'm brainstorming writing ideas it has to be with a pen and paper. I mind map, scribble, snake lines across the page, underline as my stream of consciousness runs rings around thoughts and words. It's a mess yet organised chaos.

Then, when it's time to pull everything together, to allow the prose to flow then everything calms. The thoughts organise themselves into a neat line which marches down from brain to hand and out of my fingertips onto keyboard.

Once on screen there's a little jostling for position as the words decide where they are most comfortable and if they'd much rather be in another sentence entirely. It's a method that just doesn't quite work on paper. The jigsaw builds itself.
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