Friday, 31 July 2009

The Wrecking Ball

Well, did we have a ball or what? I certainly did. It's been so much fun!

If you can bear to sit though it, the vlog does a whistle stop of the journal. You'll spot a couple of pages still waiting for a bit of the Lisa treatment but on the whole it is a complete wrecking experience. Even if some were a bit of a last minute rush!Making the vlog was funny. I gave up in the end. I either didn't turn the pages fast enough and the music ran out or was way too fast. So you get the music just ending suddenly - all part of the wrecking!! It all adds to the experience. I think some time soon I might invest in some video software so I can make a proper film.

Well, that's it then. Wrecked. Each week I've posted and talked a little about my journey so I don't want to repeat myself. Perhaps just a little recap on lessons learnt and the joy of the experience.

1. It's been great wrecking with my son, boyfriend and total strangers! I certainly didn't expect them to throw themselves in so whole-heartedly. My son, being a five year old boy, naturally loved anything involving getting messy!
2. I've made some great new friends and found some inspirational new blogs to read, groups to join, courses to attempt and a whole new creative outlet. I've loved seeing what you've all been doing and being able to travel this whole journey with you. Thank you for sharing and for taking the trouble to comment on my posts.
3. I've learned not to be too precious about my work - to be free and not worry about the end result too much. I've learned to let go and fly with the faeries (well, maybe I already did a bit of that flying stuff...)
4. I've mastered a few new interesting artistic techniques and been inspired to learn more.
5. I've finally had the guts to actually use all those art supplies and bits of ephemera I was keeping for that 'special project'. THIS IS THE SPECIAL PROJECT!
6. I learnt the word 'chica' and discovered that I am probably one! Am I? Do I qualify?
7. I have spent way too much money on more art supplies!
8. I have created a very messy house which has stayed that way for the past two months - and now I am hooked on creation is likely to stay that way forever (except when I'm expecting a visit from my Mother)! What fun!
9. It has proved rather a distraction. Both as itself and sometimes far away from wrecking and into the newly discovered land of art journaling, layering and developing on my long-neglected collage.
10. It keeps me sane and saves me from my boring 9-5 world of terrestial broadcasting.

And what will happen to my journal now? I wrote last week that it was sharing with the Group that kept me at it. Will I finish off those last remaining pages? Will I add a little, dabble some more with those already done? Will I throw it out? Well, no chance of me losing this little baby to the dustcart. I want to keep her to remind me of the journey and yes, I'll probably pick her up every now and again - especially when looking for inspiration. I may find some interesting object on the street that's just crying out to join the random things page. I may eventually smear proper dinner in it and not just the half hearted attempt. I may even take it in the shower without the shower cap!

A huge thank you to Jamie and the rest of the crew - I couldn't have done it without you! And, I guess it's not really goodbye - merely adieu until the next time.
Finally, before I go post this and check out all your blogs, my list of more ways to Wreck This Journal:

1. Leave it on the shelf untouched - what a wrecked opportunity!
2. Send it into space.
3. Wet it, then freeze it.
4. Smear with catnip and let the moggies do the rest.
5. Put it under a sofa cushion for a few days.
6. Cover with jam and see how many wasps you catch.
7. Dance salsa on it.
8. Pour bleach on it.
9. Leave it at a lost property office for 24 hours.
10. Drive over it.
11. Fix wheels to it and use it as a skateboard.
12. Eat your dinner off it.
Until next time mes amies... Keep in touch!

Thursday, 30 July 2009

A would be what?

105 posts in and time for a spot of reflection. I should have done this five posts ago but the moment passed without me realising and then there was always something else to write about!

When I set this up one chilly night in February I sub-titled it musings of a would-be writer. I truly didn't expect that I would find quite so much to write about or what a creative journey I would be embarking upon. Finding all these other lovely blog people has been a real inspiration. I love bouncing from one site to another following the link love!

Well, am I a would-be writer? Some very nice people have pointed out that I am in fact already a writer which was a lovely thing to say. After 100 posts I guess I feel like a writer too. The novel may still be residing cosily in my head in a chilled out pose, but I've achieved a new year resolution: I write (nearly) every day and above all I enjoy it. I love writing! There, I've admitted it now!

I would like to consider myself a would-be artist. You never know, I might sell something one day :)

Much as it pains me to admit I am also well on the way to becoming a would-be expert in broadcasting and transmission and satellites and stuff. Though fear not, the very fact that I had to write "and stuff" shows just how far away this currently is. This week my six month work contract was extended to permanent. They want to keep me which is jolly nice of them and they seem pleased with what I've done so far. Half of me wants to say "more fool them" or possibly "more fool me for saying yes" but I guess I must have done an alright job here and there. It feels a bit like I'm only firing on minimal cylinders though. I've still not really clicked at all with the subject or the culture of the business. It's such a dichotomy to my real passions - my writing and creating, disappearing into a land of fantasy inhabited by elves and fairies or getting up to my elbows in scraps of paper and acryllics. It sure is a different world at work. Today, for example, I discovered that Jack Field and Anna Morphic are not actually employees of the company but in fact engineering terms.

And on that ridiculous joke, I will leave this rambling for this evening as I have to finish wrecking my journal in time for tomorrow's end of term celebration party! Night folks!

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Sign up here

Those magic three words that I can't resist... You see, it's all these creative blogs I keep reading. Cool artist types are running and joining these classes and groups left right and centre and they all sound such fun. If you read me regularly (AND IF NOT WHY NOT!!??) you'll have seen some serious evidence of my Wreck this Journal experience. Regrettably, this draws to a close this week - which reminds me I still have some destruction to take forward - I've got a little bag full of my own hair which which shortly be creating 'art'. That sounds so disgusting doesn't it! Imagine the conversation I had with the hairdresser when I asked her to collect up some clippings. I confess that I actually took my journal in there with me to prove that I wasn't a complete nutcase, though she may have only been partially convinced!

Where was I? Ah yes, groups and courses. So, as well as WTJ I am also enjoying myself thoroughly learning some new techniques and getting inspiration from art journaling 102 (not sure what the 102 bit means but the art journaling should be self-explanatory). I joined this as an archived course so missed all the fun of learning with the group and sharing experiences... next time...

Fantasy Folded Art Book is where I will be getting sticky collaging and turning an old book into a work of art (well, that's the plan anyway). What makes this course even more enjoyable is that it was free. I won my fee back in a giveaway from the lovely Patty at River Bend Ranch. So thank you Patty. This has given me suitable impetus to work really hard and create something you will be proud of! It will also mean I get to use up all those lovely pictures I am snipping and tearing from my growing magazine and general ephemera collection.

And last but by no means least is my 'this should help me write my novel course' which I am ashamed to admit I started back in January then dried up on around March. However, I still have all the materials so will get around to it... eventually. It is run by Holly Lisle, a fantasy fiction author.

That's the list of the ones I'm actually dabbling in at present... Then we have the wish list...

I found another great source of learning and inspiration at the land of lost luggage and after an email chat had me so close to hitting the PAY NOW button I held back for the next course in September - Art Journaling Super Nova - the name on its own is enough to get me to sign on the dotted line.

Tonight, was the nearly the paintbrush that broke the camel's back (or something like that). I was just checking out my regular haunts and came across this post from the Queen of Creativity on juicy journaling. Can there be no end to this wicked temptation??? But the thing is... I am having sooooo much fun!

A late edit: AGGGRRRHHH Now look what I've found! I just have to join this too...... I have to.... I must.... I want to be a part of it....

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

A customer in need is a .... pest?

Last night I dreamt I was trying to buy a train ticket and catch a train to London.. from Polzeath… not sure what I was doing there and if that small Cornish resort even has a railway station, but that’s dreams for you! After experiencing some frustration in purchasing the ticket, including a near punch-up with an old lady who tried to queue jump and looked a bit like my Grandma, I finally got my ticket only to miss my train by one minute because I couldn’t find the train times. (Stick with me, there is actually a point to this rambling!)
The scene then switched to another angry customer complaining vociferously that they were bombarded with irrelevant information all over the station, including useless facts on advertising hoardings. All they wanted to find out what platform they needed to be on and when. Was that too much to ask? Rather than do the usual English thing of avoiding making eye contact with everyone; I instead stood on a chair and applauded this revolutionary outpouring. I was joined by the person standing next to me, then another and another, until eventually the whole station was applauding. It felt great. Then I woke up.

It may be entirely unrelated but I believe this subconscious rallying against poor customer service stemmed from a trip to the library earlier in the day when I waited patiently at the counter to pay my fines (tish – bad girl!). The ‘assistant’ was fully aware of me standing there trying awkwardly to balance a pile of books on a service desk that contains no space for such items. I mean this is a library, what do you expect!

However, he was rather busy sticking pointless labels in books. Pointless because the library has now gone self-service and your book is no longer stamped with the expected return date. Instead you wave your ticket under a laser beam and receive a receipt which you are expected to keep track of for however many weeks or remember when your books are due back (hence the fine…. I believe it’s a stealthy way of making more money out of us personally….). When he finally deigned to acknowledge my presence the look he gave me was one of withering contempt. How very dare I interrupt his important work? Who did I think I was? His eyes bored into me and I shrank a good few inches (not around the waist though, which would have been useful).

Quaking in my flip flops I explained I owed him some money. Tap tap tap on the computer as he fixed me with a beady glare and pursed his lips and prepared to tut. I handed over my coins and scurried off to the self service machine to check my books out and collect the receipt that I’ve already lost.

I left dejected and feeling slightly guilty. Am I really such a nuisance? Or had he perhaps somewhere along the line forgotten the point of his occupation. For surely it is to provide a service to the community - that being me. I may bring my books back a little late occasionally but it's my visits and token fines that pay his wages. The library is there for me not as a warm room in which to stick bits of paper on fly sleeves.
So, if you are reading this young man - take note - I have stamped your ticket!

Still, at least customer service is not dead in this country. Far from it in fact. I can think of plenty of great examples but it's late and I'm tired and I guess you're probably bored by now anyway! All this talk of librarians is sending me to sleep. Night folks.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Colouring in

Remember when you were a child and presented with a colouring book and a stack of crayons and pencils? What simple pleasures filling each segment with bright reds, blues and greens. And who can forget the frustration when the blue felt-tip pen ran out half way through filling in the sky!

Well, in my relentless pursuit of creativity and thanks to the inspiration of many of the cool creative 'chicas' out there in Blogland I have rediscovered this practice - with a twist!

I always struggled with painting faces - never could quite get that shading right and let's not talk about noses...

Well, dear readers allow me to let you into a little secret....

I've found a way to cheat/practice/have fun - call it what you will; it's sure working for me. Grab yourself a copy of Vogue (other style magazines are available!) and hunt out a striking pose - ideally black & white. Slap some gesso all over the shiny paper, but nice and thinly now because you still need to be able to see the shadows. Wait for the white stuff to dry then flex your fingers, fumble in your art supply treasure chest and empty your mind of pre-conceived ideas of what colour a face should be. Revisit that 6-year-old within you who happily painted a face blue just because they liked the colour or felt like it.

Now, colour in! In my first few forays into this technique I dabbled with acrylics (zip down and visit Rio), then added a spot of oil pastel and now I'm just experimenting with the pastel. For me, the point of the exercise is to really understand how that facial shading works, to experiment with colour and reawaken little Lisa. It's letting go, practicing and not being too precious. It doesn't have to be perfect, far from it. Like us all, it's just work in progress.

Wow! My first online art tutorial! I feel all grown up now!

Thanks to inspiration from Dirty Footprints (fighting the fear) and Jennyfur's Sketchbook for the bold use of colour.

Anyone recognise the pretty lady?

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Monsoon season

The tropical palms waved overhead and the sunlight filtering through dappled and danced along the path like a troop of fairies on their way to the summer ball. She strolled arm in arm with her lover in blissful ignorance of the adventure that awaited.

Suddenly, something caught her eye and the hairs on the back of her neck began to rise a little. Truth be told, she had half been expecting it; after all it was the season for such an event. Like a moth to the flame she directed their otherwise meaningless amble towards the bright, shining colour and tried to control the rising excitement in her heaving breast.

Monsoon summer sale - up to 70% off. Ahh, it was pre-destined. How could she avoid the pull of what was meant to be? Her lover tried to put up a fight against the mesmeric pull that took her towards the swinging signs above the multitude of print and pattern. He was no match for the power of the Monsoon and was forced to retreat to the bench outside under the indoor palms in the shopping mall.

Inside a shower of colour - vibrant and fresh. She was drenched in texture and detailing, fighting alongside the heaving, steaming mass of other Monsoon worshippers drenched in the thrill of the chase.

Pitter patter pitter patted chimed the clothes hangers as they clashed together as each hunter fumbled through the bright but dense foliage. At last she found the treasure for which she was searching (something actually in her size) and then the river swelled by the Monsoon burst forth into a fountain of twinkling delight.

Weighed down by the silky fabric she retreated behind the velvet curtain to observe her finds in privacy. As each caressed her skin and she twirled in its reflection, she knew she had to possess it. The beauty must be hers.

Trembling she dashed to the raven-haired and bewitching smile of the attendant and handed over a small, yet dangerously powerful plastic token.

Retreating finally back into the bright white light of the path she found her lover waiting. He did not look happy. "Two minutes you said you'd be" he muttered as they continued on their journey. But his discomfort and annoyance could not dispel the magic that was held within the paper package and laughing delightedly she smiled at his perplexed yet handsome features and offered to buy him lunch.

(And yes, the dusky maiden is my likeness - with a dash of hope and imagination!)

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Saturday afternoons were made for...

I'm supposed to be at home right now dabbling in a spot of gardening while boyfriend paints my house. Regrettably, we are instead ensconced in his abode as he 'suddenly remembered' that his country were playing rugby this afternoon and there was no way he was missing it - it's another 'does Bill Gates know anything about of computers' type comparison here. Not having the relevant sports channel on my more humble (cheaper) cable connection we have postponed the DIY adventure until tomorrow (when it will no doubt be raining).

It matters not though as it has given me the perfect opportunity to leave him downstairs shouting at the television while I escape upstairs to write... and what better subject to ponder on than the man himself.

Boyfriend is not from these fair white-cliffed shores originally. He comes from a wilder, open landscape where you're in danger of being nibbled by a lion while out for an afternoon stroll. Perhaps it is this survivial of the fittest way of life that fires his unbounding and undented South African loyalties - no matter how many years have gone by since he last trod the bush. As the 'Mighty Bokke' take on the Maori magic of the All Blacks he is at present almost beside himself with frustration and excitment. He can't even remain in the chair for more than a few seconds. His beer goes untouched beside him, and he yells a commentary rich with expletives up the stairs. I'm surprised that they can't actually hear him in Blomfontein but am glad for the safety of the referee that they are many thousands of miles away.
At the moment the rest of my weekend is safe. South Africa are winning (but apparently, according to my very own commentator, they should be at least a further 12 points ahead). Any kind of loss does not go down too well. A dark cloud of gloom will settle above him and follow him around for at least a week like a lost and hungry puppy dog (the fierce, rabid kind). When this happens it's usually best to creep away in silence and blow a kiss from the safety of the car.

It really is most amusing to watch and gives me hours of pleasure. He's the same with cricket though the slower pace means he does at least get a chance to sit down and rant. And we don't even want to mention football - though here it is the 'Mighty Arsenal' (as I am ordered to call them) that he worships.

We have enjoyed many a discussion on sporting patriotism and I find the cultural differences between us a source of both entertainment and interest. South Africans never give up. Defeat is not in their vocabulary. They will keep going until the last man standing. Much as it pains me to admit it, he may have a point.

If you compare some of the lack-lustre performances of English sporting sides you have to wonder if much of the team are not motivated more by the bank balance than the pride of wearing their country's shirt. Perhaps after writing this praise of the determination of his sporting heroes he will forgive me for dragging him round the shops this morning (and a most fruitful shopping expedition it was - but that, dear readers, as they say is another story)!
Late edit: just noticed that this was my 100th post! Feeling rather chuffed with sticking ability to this blogging malarky!

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Last minute rush

Well nearly. I have to confess that time did its passing thing (as previously documented) and suddenly with less than two weeks to go my journal was still requiring serious wrecking. However, a bit of pressure is what always makes a Lisa perform and so I've been letting rip this week with one page even getting a spot of double wrecking - there's enthusiasm for you!

The question that's been most of my mind this week is "would I even have got this far had I been wrecking alone?" Probably not. I have a real need to share my life experiences - I'm a gregarious soul - and finding this great gang of fellow wreckers has really been really rather lovely. How will I spend my Friday afternoons at work now? Might I have to work? (In case anyone from work reads this - that is a joke - lunchtime web browsing only, honest!). Working with you guys has taught me how to wreck, how to let go and not be so precious. I suspect that had I done this alone I would only have managed a few pages and they would have been very carefully thought out and pretty. Although, journal would definitely have gone for a walk - that's just the kind of wacky activity that appeals to me!
Adding to what Jamie mentions in her vlog. Well, I am certainly the enthusaistic starter with all guns blazing. The first few weeks I could have blogged every day about WTJ; I was doing so much and thinking about wrecking when I wasn't! The middle weeks sloooowwweeed right down and then it's all systems go again at the end, because this is one project I am determined to finish. It's a bit like that at work - initial excitement and getting stuck in, boredom with the whole thing as inevitably things never go to plan, then last minute panics which fire me up all over again and gets the creativity sparking again! However, the bit that always gets me, that I cringe over - the final finishing off, the filing, the tidying away... I want to be onto the next project! I know that there will be the odd page that doesn't get done... but here at least I can easily get away with just ripping them out and hiding them under the carpet!

So, what did I enjoy the most this week? Weeeellll, I'd been saving a couple of pages. Not quite sure why and I did them both.

'This page is a sign'. Well, this one perplexed me and I dabbled with thoughts of spiritual signs, road signs, sign language. In the end, I multi-tasked. I'm taking part in an another online course (Q: Do I ever stop? A: No!), doing some creative journaling. I needed to practice my motifs, so voila! Heart motifs - telling me to 'follow my heart'. Something I made a promise to myself to do a while ago. Heads are all very well for working out how to pay for it; but hearts are the journey's vehicle and they want you to have so much fun!
Both this and 'white stuff' are good wrecking for me - I just kind of slung the paint on my sign to see what it would turn out like and my carefully selected white collage got the gesso treatment then scribbled all over so you don't even get to see half the white things... but I know they're there - especially the unicorn who is normally very shy and came out to play just for me!

I've really grown to like wrecking. It's relaxing not worrying about what something might turn out like.

"It's supposed to be messy" - what a glorious phrase!

Before you ask, no I didn't rub my boyfriend on the page - for that is he you see atop a Majorcan mountain. It is instead a slightly twee story. Long before I met him, I always loved the perfume Ralph. And, that is his name. So, the journal smells of 'Ralph'. He smells nice too actually :)

Not content with squashing a cake on this page during a previous wrecking spree, I decided it looked a bit dull. 'Greasy stain' never was going to win an art award now was it? I doubt even Damian Hirst could pull that one off!

So many pages, so little time. But perhaps just enough for one more... Somehow, many years ago I used to be quite good at embroidery. I guess that some talents just curl up and die.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Thoroughly good pictures

"The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood"...

Just the name sounds rather romantic. The good old BBC have knocked out another classical drama for our delight, bringing to life on celluloid the majesty of the canvas created by these three young Victorian 'punks'. We romantics love a bit of revolution and they stirred up the art world as surely as they mixed their oils. Laughed at and ridiculed, they believed in their artistic values:

> To have genuine ideas to express;
> To study Nature attentively, so as to know how to express them;
> To sympathise with what is direct and serious and heartfelt in previous art, to the exclusion of what is conventional and self-parodying and learned by rote;
> And, most indispensable of all, to produce thoroughly good pictures and statues.

I rather like the last one - I think it's quite possible that despite the early criticism, they may have succeeded.

The message is there fellow creatives. Believe in yourself. Push yourself and above all, persuade others to believe in you too (they'll be the ones that end up paying you!).

I would like you to believe I painted this picture but suspect you may guess it was one of those Victorian rebels. A certain Mr Dante Gabriel Rossetti (they sure knew how to name themselves in those days!)

Monday, 20 July 2009

What magic?

What magic lurks on this distant shore? What treasure from the deep is this? Who is she? What does she want?

"Write" she whispers through her sea drenched tendrills. "Write from the heart and soul. Set your imagination free to ride the winds of fancy.

"Run with the elves through the verdant woodland, soar with sprites and come swim with me in the phosphorescence."

She has inspired me, my damp maiden - sending my thoughts back to the land of fantasy where my lonely book characters await my tender ministrations. Yes, I will write... or maybe just quickly paint you a friend...

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Don't stop me now...

I'm having such a good time... I'm having a ball.

Yes, after I promised myself an early night I could not resist walking past 'sticky corner' and just squeezing a little acrylic out and sploshing a bit on this obliging model doing an arty black & white swimsuit shot in Vogue. "Look at me, I'm a mermaid" she seemed to be shouting. Well, my dear now you are!

She's still work in progress - waiting for the paint to dry a bit before she gets mauled with some oil pastels and has her face made up, so thought I would blog for a while and share her unfinished state.

I have also signed up on a whim for another online group/class. A fantasy folded book no less! It keeps to the wrecking theme only this time we get to (artistically) destroy a real book! Woo! Can't wait. For me though it has to be the right book. There's a couple of old bookshops near work, no doubt run by old men in tweed and knitted tank tops, which I may have to go and have a rummage around.

We shall be 'altering' the book - which means, I think, folding; cutting; inserting; collaging and finding a home for all those interesting pictures and ephemera I have been collecting - most notably a growing pile of magazines.

Whilst browsing a market with the boyfriend the other day I discovered a purveyor of glossies 'past their sell by date' at a fraction of the cost - 3 for £2! Week 1 I bought 3. Week 2, when I dragged the poor fella all the way back again, I bought 6. Surprisingly heavy to carry around the shops in a cheap plastic bag that tries to slice through your fingers. (Thanks for being a packhorse sweetheart! xx)

Actually I think Missy Mermaid will have to wait for her make up until tomorrow. I have to be up early for a car boot sale and my eyelids are a touch heavy.... Night all

Friday, 17 July 2009

A summer shower

Well, would you believe it? As if I haven't suffered enough indignities being thrown out of windows and dragged along streets; suddenly she decides I need a wash. Well, sweetheart I've got news for you - of course I need a wash. I've got cake crumbs stuck in my spine, bits of picnic smeared all over pages and a whole host of unmentionable stains. I don't smell too fresh either (Jack Daniel's BBQ sauce may taste good but it gets a touch whiffy after a week or so!). I have to admit dear readers that at first I panicked - did you see what happened to the page she put in the washing machine? Well, let's just say there was actually nothing left to see.... You sense my nerves?

Thankfully, I needn't have worried. As soon as I saw the Moulton Brown I knew things would be OK. And such a fluffy towel! But what about my frills? Would they go limp in the water and steam? Once again, my ever care was tended to - apparently she always knew that free shower cap from the hotel would come in useful one day...
Cheating? Who dear? Me dear? No dear?

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Buried Treasure

I've joined this blogging collaboration though I feel a bit of a fraud since I'm not really an artist - just an ethusiastic dabbler! We've been encouraged to trawl through our blogs to rediscover those little titbits of buried treasure and bring them out to sparkle in the sunshine once again. Well, my bright shiny jewel is not so much an artwork but more the key to the chest. You see, for many years the treasure lay hidden under the sands of time. Life and its many priorities moved on above it, pressing and compacting it beneath the surface until its whereabouts was nearly forgotten. One thing remained though - the magic little key. Once I had the confidence to hold it in my hand it drew me back to the chest and out of it burst a free spirit full of colour and passion. It fed and nurtured me leading me back on the path of self-expression. I write, I draw, I paint, I create. I feel alive!

See where it started... and then discover that there really is a treasure chest involved in this story!

Her name is Rio...

I'm so bored at work. It feels like all my energy is being sucked out of me leaving this shrivelled and tired old prune to come home of an evening. Most evenings I manage to jump start myself after a little sustenance and a bit of fun with my son. Then, once he is in bed, the creativity tends to begin (aka making more of a mess of my house and/or being glued to the PC - sometimes literally if blogging follows collaging - sticky business!). Tonight though I really am drained. I snuggled up in bed while talking to my boyfriend and then had to prize myself out, so wedged in was I by duvet and comfort. Now I can't get out of this chair because I am weighed down by big fluffy cat who himself is in no mood to go anywhere. If you watched the vlog last week that was small, skinny cat. Big fluffster is about twice that size. He is purring very contentedly now... who am I to move him? I shall just have to sit here and ramble.

Shall we just have a chat tonight? What shall we talk about? Do you want to see my new picture? This was quite an experiment. All manner of ingredients went in this cooking pot. Firstly, I spotted a pretty black & white lady in a suit with short hair in a magazine. I asked her nicely to sit for me... on this rather colourful sheet of paper that called to me one day in Hobbycraft. "Take me home with you" it's delicious tones whispered. I want to be with all your other supplies that you'll use one day." Secretly it hoped for a quiet life, undisturbed for years with lots of other interesting bits and pieces for company. Ah! But that was before. That was the old me!

So, pretty lady sat neatly on the bright paper and I had a think. The swirls in the paper intrigued me and I wanted to weave them into her hair. She said she'd always wanted extensions so that was OK. I stuck her down and we began her transformation.

Into the mix went some acrylics - including the most gorgeous gold colour that I seem to use with everything these days that adds a real intensity of light. Unfortunately the label fell off when it got left out in the garden for months (don't ask!) so replacing it will be interesting! Anyway, she took quite a battering with the hair and make up. Her hair started to get rather tangled up with the swirls on the paper and flowers began to entwine themselves, oil pastels dashed and splashed, rubbed and scrubbed. We were both having fun but we wanted MORE. So, we hopped on a flight to Brazil and joined the throbbing carnival beat, dancing in the coloured lights and moving to the demonic beats... Her name is Rio... and she dances on the sand....

Monday, 13 July 2009

Education is wasted on the young - part 1

[subtitle] ... not helped by useless teachers.

I have been pondering a few posts under this theme and it's taken me weeks to write any of them so here goes with Part 1. You'll just have to keep guessing when the sequel is due out!

All this sudden burst of creativity has taken me back to school and specifically my A level art study and exams. (For those of you not from these shores, A levels are taken at age 18 after two years of study. Each student typically studies 3 A levels, they are a pre-requisite to get into University/College).

Back in the faraway lands of the 1980s (late 1980s, I hasten to add), such a thing as 'coursework' was unheard of in an examiner's vocabulary. Instead, everything hinged on two papers. One a life-drawing exercise over around 3-4 hours and the second a 'painting' which you completed in a set time period, taking no more than 5 or 6 hours I guess (don't ask me to remember that far back - I'm nearly 40 remember!).

So, did our teacher (and I use this label in the loosest definition of the world) spend the two years he had with us nurturing our creativity, love and appreciation of art? Did he take us on a journey of exploration into a treasure trove of artistic materials? Did he encourage us to find and create art from the unlikeliest of sources? Did the school system provide us with interesting media with which to experiment? No, dear readers, he and they did not.

Instead, our two years of 'study' were spent drawing figures over and over and over again. When we weren't sketching our unfortunate models (clothed, I hasten to add - one of them was my mother!), we were given a few tubes of oil paint, a saw and access to the wood store. The whole of at least one lesson would then be spent hacking a piece of wood into a suitable 'canvas' and priming it ready for the hated oil paint. I can't remember the reason why, but we weren't allowed water colours, inks, acrylics or anything that washed off with soap and water. And then came subject matter. "Find something you are good at and stick to it" was the next lesson. OK, I'm not bad at landscapes... Right, says Mr Bailey, there's always an option in the exam paper for a landscape so just paint those. I distinctly remember rebelling at one stage and attempting something a little abstract. Knuckles rapped. Bad student. Back to landscaping for me...
Bit I suppose you're thinking that at least this art teacher would ensure that our life and landscapes were the best they could be. That he would strive to pull from us the very essence of our spirit and push this onto canvas. Nah, course not. He would turn up briefly at the beginning of the 3 hour session then then only magic seen in our artwork was his mysterious disappearance for the rest of the lesson.

And then, the day finally arrives when we receive our exam papers with our choice of subject matter. Naturally, there was no bleedin' landscape option, nor anything that could remotely be interpreted as such. I ended up painting a sink full of washing up and getting a crummy grade. Thank goodness for all that life drawing practice I say or the whole thing could have been a complete disaster!

So, we fast forward a few years (and maybe a few more for luck) and where do we find our heroine now? Well, not at art school and employed neither as artist nor muse. She is however thoroughly enjoying her new-found creative experimentation. Armed with a few more coins these days and access to the cornucopia that is Hobbycraft and the magical store and place of inspiration known simply as 'the Internet', she at last is diving into what she should have done back when her skin was wrinkle-free and T-Pau topped the charts. Yes Mr Bailey, that's right, it's called 'mixed media'... and having fun!

This evening's experimentation (with a huge thank you to every single creative blog, online demo, artists pages, fantasy artwork, books, books, and more books and everyone else who has both inspired and taught me... after I left school!)

Pic 1 was the original magazine advert just after I'd started embellishing it and experimenting a bit with some tissue paper. Pic 2 is final version. Think I'll call her 'golden girl'. Real life colour is a bit more vibrant, but it's late and I haven't got time to mess about fixing it now...

Oh, go on then... maybe just a little tweak with the colours and shadows in photoshop...

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Everyone's a winner

Well, look at me. I am the proud owner of a Watermelon blogging award for my perseverance in the pursuit of my art and blogging. Thank You Hybrid J for bestowing this accolade on little old me! I must say, I'm nearly 100 posts in after 4 months which is exhibiting some pretty good staying power. I never thought I'd find so much to write about, nor did I expect to find so many other like-minded cool chicas out there. (Chica is my word of the week - a little expression I picked up from a fellow blogger across the pond!).

But do you know what? It's actually been far easier than I thought, mainly because it's just so enjoyable sitting in front of the PC of an evening and just letting the words escape from my fingertips. Back in January, I made myself a promise that I would write something (nearly) every day to gain that sense of personal satisfaction that comes from just creating. And look what it has led to... Creativity is bursting forth out of the cupboards it has been hidden in, art supplies are finally seeing the light of day, inspiration is my food and sustenance (along with chocolate, naturally). Despite the fact that the novel has made zero progress, I am pleased with what I have achieved with my other endeavours. The novel will come. If I've learnt anything from my journal wrecking experience, it's not to be too precious about it. I'll just write from the heart - something I'll enjoying doing. It doesn't have to be Pullitzer Prize winning. It just has to be mine.

So thank you Hybrid J for bestowing this award on me and providing inspiration for yet another blog post. And thanks go to a few other 'cool chicas' whose blogging has the power to light the creative spirit in us all.

I would therefore like to pass the melon along (careful, it's heavy!) to:

And apologies to anyone I missed. Hence the title of the post!

Friday, 10 July 2009

Take off

So, Jamie asks us if we slowed down a bit. Well yes... and no! Less wrecking has been done in the last few weeks but it's inspired me to be more creative and outside of my journal I have been making all sorts of little goodies and, most importantly, not being afraid to be creative and, dare I say it, DESTRUCTIVE!

I should perhaps explain the boring event page in the vlog - it was a meeting at work that was so dull I found myself in that awful situation where your eyelids appear to be having a science experiment with gravity and no matter how much you fidget and pinch yourself, nothing is going to stop them closing. Sleep wants you and it wants you NOW! Eventually you give in and nod off - probably just for a second - but always to wake up with a slight start and the question: "Did anybody notice?" written across your distraught forehead! Well, dear readers. Let's just say that this particular meeting was so boring that I probably wasn't the only one. I observed quite a number of colleagues exhibiting the symptoms listed above. When I looked back at my copious notes later (all five lines of them), and saw documented by strange scribble the actual point at which sleep took me, then I knew I had my boring event just waiting to be documented.

The page I was vainly searching for was actually hiding just behind my copious four letter words - stick the magazine page in and circle letters. I've been spending most of my creative time this week gesso-ing up magazines and pulling creations from the pages so I couldn't resist a little play with this page, though to be quite frank, painting cobblestones is not half as entertaining as catching a mermaid!

The article is from Conde Nast; the place L'Ile de Re - a beautiful island just off the west coast of France near La Rochelle. I visited for the day many years ago when I was staying with my friend Janet who lived in La Rochelle at the time. She now lives in Australia - she's very well travelled is our Janet.

Circled words include: France, sea, beaches, elegantly weathered, creamy, loveliest, rustle, glass, wine and rose-tinted! The strange marks on the text are from my wreckers' method of folding the page so it fits inside the journal and believe me, it's harder than folding a map to get it back in exactly again!

Paper airplanes are great fun - and naturally more fun when you embellish them a bit. I thought actually that this might make a great swap page as Carolyn (Beautiful Ripple Effect), my swap partner, is the 'other side of the pond' and my page will require airborne assistance to reach her. My son has been making them all week too, though I had to explain that a sheet of A4 folded in half was not quite aerodynamic enough to glide through the air in the manner in which he hoped. A short lesson in avionics later and paper plane mark II went all of 2 yards!

Right I'm off to see what all you other wreckers have been up to...

Wednesday, 8 July 2009


In my second year at University I lived in a road with a name that conjured up dirty railway bridges and industrial revolutions. Viaduct Road was not the most glamorous street in sunny Brighton and indeed, at that time it was also known as the A27 - one of the main routes through the town before they built the shiny new by-pass. What it did have though, sitting quite regally at the bottom of the rows of terraced houses, was a fine old cinema.

The Duke of York's was, and still is, a great art-house cinema where you can find the uncommercial gems, old classics or subtitled beauties. It only had one screen, squidgy old seats that got seriously uncomfortable if you ever went to see a double-bill and a proper cafe that sold cakes and cups of tea - not a popped piece of corn in sight!

In 1989, one of the most talked about films, and winner of an Oscar for best foreign language film was Cinema Paradiso. This, naturally, was the kind of film that the Duke of York's was open for! The hopeless romantic in me called me down the road and one enchanted evening, housemate Rosie and I bought our tickets and settled ourselves in the red velvet plush.

Imagine our disappointment however when the film started... those subtitles surely weren't Italian, they looked trés français. Gerard Depardieu was not supposed to be in a small town cinema in Sicilly. Zut alors! We were in the wrong film. That's the trouble with only having one screen - it tends to suggest that you just request "two tickets" rather than adding a qualifying "for..." Well, the Cinema Paradiso run had ended the previous evening. Trop belle pour toi was a pleasant enough way to pass an evening I suppose but it wasn't Italy.

Fast forward life's projector 20 years (surely, some mistake here... was 1989 really TWENTY YEARS AGO??). Tonight I finally watched it. Beautiful, romantic, nostalgic, gentle... worth the wait.

PS: the music from the film is really beautiful - love theme by Ennio Morricone

Saving their bacon

I love this picture, it epitomises creative thinking. I stumbled across it completely by accident while I was googling and it caught my eye in one of those magical “what on earth….?” moments. In fact, tomorrow morning I am presenting creative thinking to a bunch of engineers and my closing slide leaves them with this exact picture to get them thinking a bit (probably that I'm a bit odd!).

Imagine the marketing team at the bandage company sitting around trying to figure out how they could apply a new take on sticking plasters:

"Just how can we make them more interesting and appealing?"
"Can we persuade consumers to wear one to make a statement or just have a laugh regardless of whether or not they are bleeding profusely down their arm?"
"What else is this shape and size?"
"What might look really out of place and stand out?"

Yay, a bacon rasher! Of course, why didn't I think of that! And, as if the picture on the box were not enough to entice you to place it into your shopping basket, then the free toy will definitely get you!

Priceless. Where can I buy them?

PS: Do you think the design team went out and got plastered after this?? hehe (English colloquialism)

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

When the muse strikes

I keep staring at this blank page. I am not normally at a loss for words when it comes to blogging, but yesterday I made a dreadful mistake. I told someone that 'there is a story in anything; you just need to find the right angle'. But where is my story tonight? Why is there so much white on this page? Instead, I shall share with you a little creation I was rather chuffed with. Experimenting once again with the plethora of materials I have so thoughtfully stored for art supply shops over the years, I had a bash at a technique new to me.

I've never been happy with my figure drawing, so imagine my joy when I learnt that creating a mermaid could be as easy as ripping a page out of a magazine. This lady started off in a silver sequined evening dress strutting her stuff on a page of high fashion. Now she resides in a watery palace, a siren of the sea. She seems quite enamoured of her new home and I think has her eye on a sexy merman, or maybe she just wants to nibble on a lobster or mollusk or two. She loves her flowing tresses and thinks I made her eyes up most prettily. Off she swims to find her muse again...

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Mostly there

Today I am not here, in fact I am mostly there... Where? Well at the moment it's somewhere that's a cross between a sun-drenched Greek island, a Provençal vineyard and the soft sands of a Barbados beach. I'm drinking rose wine, nibbling on honey-sticky baklava, reading Conde Nast and watching Sir Trevor McDonut exploring the secret side of the Caribbean. I bought some out-of-date cheap magazines today with a view to rip them up and collage with them, but they are drawing me into their glossy pages and distracting me with images of a warm breeze rustling through the palm trees, sensually draped windows, oak-beamed farmhouses and evocative trelliswork. Maybe I shouldn't be reading the likes of The World of Interiors and Conde Nast when I can only justify buying them past their sell by date - and with the intention of turning a profit with my artistic creations! Or, maybe this is the stuff of dreams that can come true. Why not move to Barbados?

PS: And what another serendipitous moment to discover that the page of palm I tore out of from Conde Nast mysteriously matches the woodwork of the windowsill in a Wiltshire manor in (expensive) Interiors.

PPS: And then, even more serendippidussly, I browse some blogs and find this post...

PPPS: How much is the ticket?

Friday, 3 July 2009

Colour me beautiful

Jamie's question this week was really interesting. "Has the wrecking moved to other parts of our lives?" Well, I've already mentioned that my house has never been so messy and frankly it is getting worse by the week, but it's also interesting to see the enthusiasm with which I'm using up all my art products - especially the ones I've been sitting on for years. I'm no longer so precious about them. I've been having a creative old time this week collaging on little boxes - ripping, sticking, painting... if the paper dries a bit creased it doesn't matter, if the rip goes wrong then that's cool too - it's just opening up another creative possibility.

It's funny, but as I wreck I often find myself planning out my blog in my mind; but the other day I did it the other way around. I lay in bed unable to sleep and thought about a page I had to tackle (colour the entire page). In my mind I wrecked and journeyed through the wrecking. You see, my original plan had been to paint a pretty picture but as I lay there thinking about it (and then jumping up to capture these thoughts on paper), I realised that I should just save that for my sketch book or an art journal. This is for new and unleashed creativity! So, I planned to just get out some colour and slosh it about in a Jackson Pollock fashion. Splashing, smearing, dragging and generally getting mucky. I imagined that at some stages the result would look quite cool but that I'd resist the temptation to just stop there and preserve my 'art' and carry on until it felt well and truly wrecked!

So, that's what I planned to write about then go and wreck. However, this felt a bit like cheating. It was too staged and planned. So, a few days later I just sat at the table surrounded by artistic paraphenalia and stuck colour on the page - paint, paper, fibre... you name it I stuck it. I even sprinkled some salt onto the watercolour (a large quantity of which seems to still be falling out of the journal). So, what did this exercise tell me - err not sure? Don't cheat? Was I cheating? Ah, what does it matter? I had fun and the page got coloured! I like it, it's messy and fun.

The gold page reminds me of being a child again and being oh so careful not to colour over the lines (I think I did better when I was 6!). The addition of shoe and handbag was another example of me being a bit bored by the task and adding a little extra interest and challenge - plus finding a use for these free stencils I got with a magazine a couple of weeks ago!
You can just see some writing on the facing page. Guess what... it was me blogging as I created again! I love the fact that I just grabbed the first piece of paper to hand - my journal - and wrote. I got wet gold all over my knuckles too!

Last thing to show you this week... a bit of fun with my 'sunset strip'.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Youth of today (grumblings from a nearly 40 year old)

Yes, well it happens to all of us eventually... We turn into one of those "things were much better in my day" orators. We even find ourselves moaning that we can't hear the words on songs and asking what gender the lead singer is in that noisy band on the TV (mind you, let's face it, the first time we saw Boy George we all wondered didn't we now?). So, here we go...

Youth of today eh? They just don't know they're born. Take my boyfriend's 16 year old son, Tyler. He has ambitions to go to university, study media and become a journalist or work in TV. Not wishing to dash such fresh-faced hopes, I put my wise old(ish) woman hat on and advise him, using my many years experience of the real working world, how to ensure he gets himself noticed. The more observant among you will have noticed that I quite like blogging, so naturally I steered him in this direction as a virtually effortless method of seeing your work in 'print' instantaneously with a potential readership of millions (not bad for a free online tool). If he's willing to put in a bit of extra effort he could even start a school e-zine distributed via Facebook or at the other end of the spectrum if he wishes to communicate only in short sentences (he is a teenager remember... grunts are an integral part of his vocabulary), then twitter could be his channel of choice. Let's face it, the opportunity is endless. The effort fairly minimal.

What is essential of course is that he approaches his University applications with some tangible evidence of his passion for his chosen profession. Faced with a pile of identical applications and predicted grades, he will need to stand out by demonstrating determination, ambition and writing skill. Lecture over, it is now time for me to indulge in a spot of reminiscence... and when Tyler you read this (no doubt under extreme duress) at the weekend, I will be able to lament that you never had it so good.

Back when I were a wee gal the word blog didn't even exist let along the technology to power it. The closest thing to a net I had at home was one used for catching fishes in Cornish rock pools. If we wanted to keep a diary we bought one and wrote in it using a pen or pencil (often with real ink that came in a pot!).

My first magazine editorship - the imaginatively titled Pelargonium - consisted of one childish scrawled and illustrated copy that had to be passed around its expansive readership of the other kids in the street and my family! I was so dedicated that I wrote 6 of them!

When a group of us started a school magazine in the 6th form, it was mainly hand-written with a few 'special' pages typed on an old machine called a typewriter (powered by fingers pressing very hard on keys on stalks), then the whole thing was photocopied at great expense and drawing in a few favours at a local print shop (and let's not even mention Banda machines - remember them? The original wind up photocopier). Also, when we went on holiday we used to buy these little pictures, write on the back and post them back home to friends and family... postcards I think they were called...

I think there's still something very special about the physical presence of an old diary or notebook. My sister has some old diaries belonging to my Grandmother. Most of these date back to the 1940s during the war years in London. She describes a life seemingly full of wash days, dodging bombs and going to the movies. It seemed that, despite a lack of money, the threat of a doodle-bug landing on your head at any moment and being heavily pregnant, nothing would get in the way of a weekly trip to 'the pictures'. Communication with loved ones was not the instant gratification of the 21st century. I can just picture her waiting for cherished letters every day from my Grandad serving in the army.

It is wonderful to be able to treasure these records of the past. I wonder if my future grandchildren will ever read this blog, created on the ancient and clumsy Internet. A technological dinosaur where you actually had to sit down and type words into the computer rather than just 'think them' onto the mobile screen that transmits from the device embedded in your wrist...
Youth of the future eh?

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Miss Writer

It's late, I haven't blogged for a few days and I'm getting kind of antsy. I want to write! I want to do lots of things but unfortunately there aren't enough hours in the day. I did do a spot of writing today, work stuff. I managed to get away with writing complete fiction though. Don't worry, no fairies or mystical worlds (which is rather a shame), I just mocked up some sample content for a newsletter I'm working on and crafted some interesting stories in a style which breaks from their usual tradition of 'bore the reader senseless'. I'm working on them, it's taking longer than I would have hoped but I will get there.
I have this real niggle at the back of my subconscious. It's my book. I still haven't done anything. However, what's interesting is the avoidance techniques I have been using. Rather than busy myself cleaning the house (I mean... come on...!), or watching TV; I have instead been doing the creative thing which is a hugely positive step. And I am loving it! Writing the blog is great practice, many of my 'creations' have a fantasy element to them. I guess you could scrape the barrel a little and call it 'research'. Having great fun with the new camera too - look what I spotted hiding behind the foliage and fairy dust in the garden...
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