Monday, 31 August 2009

Not very Nicole Kidman

The Night I won two MEMEs
It's time to don the exclusively-designed evening gown and put my best foot forward upon the red carpet once again. For tonight, I collect, not one BUT TWO awards. Yes, two fellow bloggers have seen fit to bestow upon me a MeMe award for my services to blogland. I could be modest and shy and mutter a quick thank you only to shuffle back to my seat and hope no one notices me.... But nah, not very Nicole Kidman is it?

Instead, I rise elegantly from my red velvet chair, the folds and golds of my dress flowing around me. I pause dramatically before turning to glance briefly at my audience, then turn to glide towards the stage. George Clooney and Hugh Jackman stand resplendent in dinner suits, each gripping an award in a hand suddenly seized by nerves. They have waited a long time to meet me, and now have to face this moment with an audience of thousands.

My poise puts them at their ease and pass them each a secret smirk.

Facing my audience, I begin my acceptance speech as every mouth in the auditorium hangs open in awe.

"It's customary in these situations to share 7 little-known facts with my audience; but my darlings, seeing as I have won two of these little beauties, let's have 14" I give them my most magnetic smile accompanied by a little wink. (Come on, I'm not Gwyneth!)

1. I am (very distantly) related to Charlie Chaplin.
2. I think I might have an ear infection.
3. I once went to see Howard Keel in concert (and quite enjoyed it - but only quite).
4. I starred live on Radio 1 on the Peter Powell show when I was 15.
5. I once met Peter Powell in a lift and thought he was a builder.
6. I got in a tangle with Michael Portillo in a revolving door.
7. I still haven't got any further with my novel.

Hmm, actually I'm quite enjoying this... Maybe we will go for the full 14.

8. I scratched my car while on holiday demonstrating how not to parallel park.
9. I just ate Ben & Jerry's straight out of the pot.

10. I have a BA in Geography, 3 A levels, 9 O levels, an Advanced Certificate in Marketing and some typing qualifications.

11. I had a joke published in the Daily Telegraph when I was about 9. (I'm still laughing).

12. I have no intention of ever auditioning for The X Factor.
13. But if asked I would leap at the chance to perform on Strictly Come Dancing (aka Dancing with the Stars), although clearly I first need to build a little on my celebrity status...
14. At this (brief) moment in time, my desk is actually tidy!

Weighed down with silverware, I barely have chance to return to my seat before I am called once again to the limelight. However, this time the spotlight shines not on me, but my fellow bloggers. I am delighted to rip open the gold envelope and announce the next 7 winners of this coveted award.

Not wishing to upset anyone I've missed... because I love you all and you're all winners in my eyes [pause while I delicately dab away the emotional outpouring with a silk handkerchief] ... the winners are... in no particular order:

1. Patty at River Bend Ranch whose wonderful Altered Book Project has kept me happily snipping and sticking for weeks.

2. Julie who has lost her luggage poor girl, for being very friendly and helpful and who I can't wait to join on her journaling class.

3. Altered Art & Stuff - so much to look at, so little time.

4. Kelly Rae for being so delightfully inspiring.

5. Smart Cat for starting her blog - a little encouragement to get past Post Number One.

6. Mana Moon Studios for the most beautiful jewellery and asking where she could buy my stuff!

7. Pimp & Paint for pretty things.

At last I can relax and crack open the champagne. Thank you Judipatootie and Of Stars & Hummingbirds for your gracious nominations. Most kind.

You know readers, you really should try this little exercise in briefly banishing modesty. It sure makes you feel positive. Believe.... If you build it....

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Words and pictures

I've been participating in a number of creative blog challenges lately. As I love the power of the written word, I personally find it difficult to just post up my artwork without some sort of accompanying text, and when I'm visiting other sites I do so love good read alongside the eye candy.
It struck me that we don't necessarily see enough of this combination of creativity. I visited the Tate Gallery in St Ives when I was on holiday. Did I enjoy it? Not much, I felt I was missing something as I stared at some boring-looking shapes and tried to figure out why they merited a place in such an important Gallery. I know art is for personal interpretation but when you just 'don't get it' does that become a wasted opportunity? Can the addition of prose intensify the colour in paint splashes? And, likewise, do rich hues and evocative texture acting as neighbours on a page enhance the written word?

Obviously it's not always required, because that would be ridiculous and we'd be talking serious overkill. But think of how well it works when art enhances words - take a children's book where the illustration helps communicate the message to the reader alongside the prose. Watch the expression on Babbity Rabbit's face as his mood changes from grumpy to joyful; see the terror in Sammy's eyes as he peeps from under the bedclothes to investigate the mysterious growling coming from the corner of the room.

I'm not necessarily talking about requiring some sort of physical description to sit beside the art along the lines of "this piece represents a stormy sea throwing its aggression alongside the frustrations and anger of the sailor". More playing with words, being poetic, telling a story...

The wild ocean matched his stormy mood as he faced life without the one person who brought it meaning. With every wave crashing and destroying his flimsy craft he felt the lifeforce she had given him washing away...

Or am I barking up the wrong tree? Should art always be interpreted according to the individual - leaving them free to make up their own story? What do you think? Is there room in galleries for more 'illustration'? I just love words I guess. Share some words with me - let's discuss...

Friday, 28 August 2009

Quoting creativity (2)

In another moment of glorious serendipity I alighted with anticipation upon this week's 'Theme Thursday' challenge to discover that they are thinking along the same lines as yours truly and have chosen 'beautiful words' as their subject for us all to dabble in delight in.

So, for the second time this week, I continue my journey among creative quotation and borrow inspiration from the creative thoughts of others. Today we thank Alan Alda for bringing life and colour to the page.

I willingly leapt into the wilderness for this - a wild and romantic garden overlooked by a brooding medieval castle, whispers of magical creatures and secret pathways to the depths of the imagination. The more I create, the more I do indeed find myself and I'm starting to like what I see.

Much of this work was prompted by my 'artist date' yesterday - just me, my muse and a very magical place - but more on that in another post... (you see it better if you click to enlarge).

(Very) mixed media - scrapbook background, collage, acrylics, photography and photoshop.

Speaking of creativity... I'm planning on signing up for the second of these two journaling supernova classes in September from the Land of Lost Luggage. Very excited!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Didn't she do well...

Oh what fun Wishcasting Wednesday is proving to be; for when else do we allow ourselves the opportunity to look at ourselves and say "what prize do you want to award yourself Lisa?" Instead of listening to the inner critic, it is time to rummage around in your insides and untangle a compliment or two. I know they are embedded in there somewhere - hidden in amongst the self doubt and niggling fears.

I acknowledge myself today and say well done girl for keeping up this blog. Well, I know that doesn't sound like much but at the beginning of the year I set myself a resolution to write something (nearly) every day for how else was I ever to begin to become the kind of writer I know I want to be? For after all, practice makes perfect and points make prizes dear girl.
So, I stand before you today in my best dress and give a twirl to acknowledge not just my 129 posts (two today!!) but, most importantly, all the fun I've had and that wonderful little rush when the words just seem to flow, tumbling and playing like a babbling brook!


I just paused in my writing to see what others were thinking and read the BlissChick's entry on this theme. She said something that made me leap out of the chair in great joy shouting "Yes, yes, me too. I've discovered that".

Real writers don't have to be novelists. (near enough quote)

It's quite obvious and simple really if you think about it and, although I still feel I have the novel in me', what I have discovered by blogging this year is the pure joy in words - spinning stories, giving magical flight to imaginations, dabbling and dappling scenic backgrounds and just expressing.
And, in true acceptance speech style, I would naturally like to thank everyone who made this possible. Without the support of friends old and new giving words of encouragement along the way, I doubt it would ever have happened.
I thank you all... blub blub..... Nice to see you... Now, where's the champagne?
(Apologies to anyone who doesn'gt get the Bruce Forsyth connection - I guess you have to be familiar with British national treasures! He is one of our best-loved TV entertainers with a number of catch phrases which I've peppered throughout this posting - 'Didn't she do well' being a particular favourite. Did you spot them all? Try looking 'higher'.

Hand painting

Viewing life through a child's eyes can be a magical experience. Last week while at the beach, my son was playing in a large rock pool. The sun was skidding in and out behind clouds giving the water a multi-tonal reflection with shades of shimmering green and blue.

Another child asked him to fill a bucket with water. "Do you want the green or the blue?" he enquired. Priceless.

The feeling of soft sand between our toes and icy sea water brushing our pale skins is still with us, so what better inspiration to take for this week's Three Muses Challenge - give us a hand than a vibrant seascape?

As my child sees the humble rock pool differently, so his mother decides to take an unusual approach in her art and have a bit of fun in the process. So we have this 'hand trailing through the surfscape'. Who said art had to be sensible? Quite an interesting challenge just using the one hand to paint, squeeze out acrylics and then take the photograph! A wee touch of the ocean ripple filter in Photoshop and we're done. A living work of art!!

Would you like some? I can offer blue or green!

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Quoting creativity

I thought I might have a theme of posts set around the wonderous words of others. We'll start with a short but dramatic statement by Tolstoy (short on name too!)

"Art is infection"

Pretty powerful words there my friends, but what pray does it mean? Should it in fact say 'affliction' as Art does seem to torture the souls of many who pursue its fickle fancy.

Infection it is though and to me this means catching something from the written word or splash of paint on canvas. (Personally, I take the word 'art' to mean any form of creativity.) You walk away with a change to your soul; a little part of you will never be the same again. Think to when you closed the final pages on a life-changing novel - perhaps it was the joy of knowing 'she married him' or that Peter Rabbit escaped the clutches of Mr MacGregor. Or maybe, like me, you stood in front of the Canalettos at the National Gallery utterly mesmerised, imprinting every brush stroke onto your mind's eye to bring out for sustenance and inspiration whenever necessary. It doesn't even have to be the work of a great master. I was drawn to a painting recently under £100 which just winked at me and said "you know we're meant to be together" and sure enough my soul cells were transformed and the longing became owning. She hangs on my lounge wall now. In fact, if I turn my neck to the left I catch a glimpse of her dainty fairy pose.

Similarly I am always drawn to visiting blogs like A Fanciful Twist - in fact, I would go so far as to say there is something rather infectious about her posts and parties. And just how do you get that glittery effect onto your imagery? Do check out the Halloween adventure coming up - see sidebar.

What art has infected you dear readers? Do dispense with the tissues and share your contagion!

Monday, 24 August 2009

What lies behind this door?

I think there's something very special hidden there... Is it perhaps the new hidey-hole of the fairies from my previous posting - did they flutter up here and sneak through the keyhole? The mossy steps would cushion the most heavy of footfall as you climbed up to its heavenly frame, so perhaps it hides a giant, folded into the eaves with his arms wrapped around him and his toes tucked behind his ears. Odours of damp flora waft up as you brush past to take a closer peek as the tinkle of the stream finding its way to the sea serenades your steps.

What lies behind this door?

I'll tell you... an artist's studio! How could anyone fail but to be inspired when their creation gives birth in such a setting. See the green-eyed monster lurking among the fern fronds!!

Another little sharing from my holiday as I try to blank out the dreadful day at work with dreams and memories. This is where I stayed dear readers - well, underneath the studio, in the converted barn. Ahhhh......

And what passion behind those clouds... Feeling most dreamy and fanciful tonight. Inspired to post my holiday snaps by Anahata Katkin's dreamy photographic meanderings.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Let fantasy give flight...

... to your dreams.

They crept through the garden and floated on silken wing. Who but Lisa knew they were there? Landing delicately in the soft blossom they drank in the scents of both perfume and freedom, for once they were mere photographs in a magazine, immortalised yet trapped within heavy pages - until she gave them wings of gossamer. Fly fairies... fly... for the garden is yours.

Bopsie and Mopsie are the product of both an over-active imagination and the Three Muses weekly challenge - this week we are required to give wings to things and, let's face it, fairies are far more exciting than chunks of flying metal (though last time I checked I don't think they were able to take you on holiday to exotic places, so scratch that last remark... planes are great!).

As I contemplate my last night of freedom before the lockdown commences at 9am tomorrow with my return to work, I thought: "Why stop at one wing picture when you can have two". This is a digital bit of fun. I found the barley ages ago and thought it looked a little bit like tiny fairies swinging on grass stems (I may have been under the influence at the time!). So, I added a few fairy wings to increase the illusion. Can you spot them all? The fairies' bodies are invisible because... mmm, let me see, because... they go invisible in fields of barley. Not many people are aware of this unique trait. Pixies, for example, can't do it, nor elves. Lucky fairies I say!

PS: Despite my previous posting alluding to forthcoming musings on holiday experiences, this entry clearly has nothing to do with Cornish beaches, cream teas, wild moorland or pasties. Its whimsical nature though might hint that perhaps it might be best for my sanity if I did indeed return to the work-a-day land of antennas and transmission before the author takes an extended flight with the fairies.

Post-holiday blues

The washing machine is flinging itself into a crazy spin, the hoover readies itself to suck up half a beach worth of sand from the car, my son woke up early and I didn't sleep well.

It's that awful feeling as you contemplate another 12 months of hard slog before you next feel the waves tickling your toes and take in great lungfuls of tangy fresh sea air.
I've already written two posts on this subject but neither were worthy of publication. One was just far too self-pitying and the other just not very interesting. It struck me suddenly though that the secret was not to look forward - to the dreaded return to work tomorrow - but to look back and celebrate the holiday that was, to share in some memories and images and relive the experience a little. I also have kisses and hugs to look forward to later today when I catch up with my sweetheart after a week's absence.

So, readers, expect to see some Cornish-inspired posts coming up this week, no doubt carefully disguising my feelings of workplace melancholy. You'll have to wait until later though as washing line calls...

Mousehole Harbour

Friday, 21 August 2009

Cherries and almonds

I have been lying in bed lusting over a warm croissant filled with gooey almond paste and a warm cherry compote. What more delightful combination can there be. The top of my perfect breakfast would be crusted with toasted nuts and a light dusting of icing sugar. The whole sticky, calorific mess gets washed down with a milky coffee.

Ah the day is set up so nicely.

Unfortunately I have no croissant of any nature, so I write about instead and dream...

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Summer Summer Summertime...

If you require a soundtrack for this post - kindly click here.

Well, it's Theme Thursday and this week we are invited to create a 'season'. Seeing as I am on holiday it felt only natural to pick Summer and, bereft of all my normal tools of the trade - most especially a scanner, I have created for your delight a digital rework of a photo I took but two days ago of an azure Atlantic. How much more summery can you get - look at the sunlight twinkling on the water, tickling the wave tops so they laugh and play their way to shore.

Naturally, it has received a few tweaks in Photoshop - given that I can never leave well alone, but hope it makes you feel like dipping a toe or even a leg in. However, I will warn you that despite the bright rays dappling the surface it is rather cold and not for the faint-hearted. Something went wrong with the saving (owing to consumption of holiday grape-based drink) and it is a little smaller than anticipated but you get the drift. So, dear readers, allow yourself to flow with the tide and take yourself somewhere warm and balmy; fill your pockets with shells and allow a cool and velvety ice cream to refresh your tired palette, for tis summer (at least in this neck of the woods) and one must rejoice!

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Me, myself and I

It's that time of the week again - Wishcasting Wednesday - when all around the world bloggers are casting their dearest wishes to the wind and hoping it blows in their favour. This week Jamie Ridler asks us "Who is the 'you' you want to be?"

I watched a DVD a while back that a friend leant me called The Secret. Its message was simple. Ask the Universe for what you want and, just a pizza, it will be delivered. Just like that? Surely not? Or maybe... I've also read books suggesting that writing down your goals means you are 80% more likely to achieve them. So, when I started this blog I wrote down that I wanted to be a writer.

Since then I would also like to add the words 'and artist'. OK, so I'm not trained and the old inner critic frequently has a fine old time laughing its socks off at my ambitions, but that's just what they are. Ambitions. Artist and Writer. No particular order and let's face it I also allow for a little definition stretching.

I would qualify myself as an artist once I had sold a couple of pieces. We're not talking breaking the bank - just creating something that another human wanted to own and part with a few coins for the pleasure of.

Blogland has already satisfied one ambition. For is blogging not writing? I have had several lovely comments from people telling me I am a writer. At first you just smile but secretly think "well, not really...." But am I not published? At work they employ me because I can write, so I am a professional writer. Wow. It feels great typing that! What the ambition really is though is to follow up from those childhood stories I loved writing about - cute little squirrels and fluffy rabbits living in woodland; girls having high japes at boarding schools and sequels to Star Wars where maybe I just cast myself in the Princess Leia role (naturally I spent my early teenage years with a huge crush on Harrison Ford!). I've frequently blogged on and on about THE NOVEL that is sitting up there in my imagination getting fat and indolent through lack of exercise and so pale and pasty as it pines for sunlight. It really needs to get an airing and sooner rather than later. This week I painted a character that will play a key role. And I mean that literally painted... with paint... rather than figuratively. I would share the picture but I am holiday and was not quite desperate enough to pack my scanner as well as laptop!

The character 'painting' is, so my inner critic reminds me, avoidance technique. As long as I'm creating something then that's OK. It's just not the novel. Is it laziness or do I just really enjoy blogging and painting? Is it simply that there aren't enough hours in the day to cram it all in? My life frequently feels like an over-stuffed suitcase with a loose lock. Any second now the whole lot threatens to fly - watch out for socks and smalls over your heads!

What a ramble. Shall I finish up now? OK, so the answer to the question is:

The 'me' I want to 'be' is a writer, artist and good mother. There. I could have said that six paragraphs ago, but where would have been the fun in that!

Now I need to select a picture. Shall we just have a holiday snap? Yeah, why not... We have an appropriately magical-looking staircase in Mousehole - where we may have just caught a glimpse of Mowzer's tail disappearing around the corner at the top. And, just check out that beach (Porthcurno). Believe me it looks even better when you are standing on it wriggling your toes in the sand and catching a sharp intake of breath when the icy water splashes on them! Oh to be in England in the summertime...

(by coincidence, the Mowzer link takes you to BBCiplayer where you can listen to the story of the famous Mousehole cat - but only for three more days - what serendipity! It's a lovely story and the illustrations are beautiful)

Monday, 17 August 2009

Artistic inspiration - Cornish style

What is about Cornwall that encourages so many writers and artists? Could it be the purple heather ablaze on the clifftops? The sea that shimmers with a myriad of shades of blue and green? Verdant hedgerows bursting with the chirpings of wildlife? Or simply the presence of so many other artistic souls? Does their creativity spread on the scented breeze like a pleasant contagion infecting all with the desire to write, paint, doodle and just generally 'create'?

Today I visited one such artist - Sujati Art in Trevaunance Cove. I've bought a few cards and bits and bobs from her in the past and follow her blog. We're friends on Facebook too. How could I therefore miss the opportunity to meet her in person when I was but a paint splash away from her shop? I knew I wouldn't be able to resist coming away empty handed but did not anticipate that I would fall in love with a gorgeous painting. I feel very grown up now with my first proper artwork purchase ready to hang proudly on my wall at home.

This is a short post because I have an urge to go paint!
(The little cutie in the picture is Otto. I met him today during feeding time at Paradise Park. He put on quite a show, but I discovered, that just like my son, he is happy to wrap you round his little finger if food is likely reward. Once he'd munched his way through a spot of brunch, he and his pals disappeared back in their burrows - presumably to watch OtterEnders on their TV.)

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Sodden with history (but fortunately not rain!)

Cornish holiday - day 2:

You just can't escape it here. Myth and Legend seeps from every crack in the rock and the ghosts of pirates, sailors, wreckers and King Arthur himself whisper their stories to you across the wind.

Of course, we weave our own yarns too. Today was a high energy experience leaving me somewhat worn and ragged round the edges... I was all for a spot of exercise on this holiday so a morning spent sprinting up and down a beach, clambering over rocks, climbing (at speed) sand dunes and playing a fairly spirited game of football was just what the doctor ordered. In fact, I'm not sure why I bothered taking something to sit on because that was clearly not on the agenda.
Despite the fact that the English weather was apparently glorious in the rest of the country; the far South West kept its blanket of grey cloud for most of the day. But we British are nothing if not hardy and resilient. We still packed the beach and lit it up with a rainbow of windbreaks, bucket & spades and beach balls. Some brave souls even ventured in the sea further than their ankles. However, they were wearing wetsuits. Is my memory playing tricks or when I was a child did we just wear our cossies and put up with the chill?
Aside from the lack of sunshine and waitered-service pina coladas, the beach was perfect. Miles of soft golden sand, rock pools presenting interesting exploration opportunities, rolling dunes, granite cliffs and caves that surely were the home of dragons. Regrettably the rapidly approaching high tide forced us to beat a swift retreat to the cliff top just as the sun was threatening to make an appearance; but rest assured we'll be back again. This time we might just get around to making that sandcastle or perhaps a sand mermaid may take shapely form leaning casually against a rock.

Then, in true Lisa holiday style (aka pack as much into one day as you possibly can), we continued our adventures. Managed to trick my son into an art exhibition where the canvases of this artist particularly caught my eye. Her works seems to have a particularly magical quality about it. Interestingly, although small boy sulked around most of the exhibits, he really liked these ones too.

In keeping with the ne'er do well traditions of ye olde Cornish folk who loved a bit of smugglin' and piracy (allegedly!); I was suitably fleeced a number of times today by car park attendants. £4 to park at Land's End... and that's on top of the £3 earlier at the beach and it should have been £5 yesterday in St Ives but I was donated a ticket by a nice lady who was just leaving. Outrageous. Still, one simply cannot travel to within a stone's throw of the very end of mainland England and not stand on those windswept cliffs and take it all in. And the sun came out so I guess it was worth it after all!

I painted last night which was very satisfying and the acrylics were pleased to get out of the box. Well, I am rather tired now so will retreat to my cosy nest and dream of mermaids, Knights of the Roundtable and dodgy pirates.
Until tomorrow landlubbers...
PS: I love the fact that I can not only post my holiday journal online for all to read but my snaps too (yes, those are my feet on the post below and that above is a bit of Land's End after an encounter with photoshop - note the forbidding grey cloud) - ah the wonders of modern technology.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

A toe in the water

Today I dipped my toes in the ocean – specifically the Atlantic, as its wave crashed onto the golden sands of a Cornish beach. My ‘proper holiday’ began in earnest today and the boy and I packed up our buckets, spades and flip flops and headed south.

After an 8 hour drive we were actually less tired than I thought – but perhaps it was just the anticipation of feeling the sand between our toes and tasting the salt on our lips. Undaunted by the slight drizzle, we headed straight for the beach and ran right in. Small boy managed to soak himself quite thoroughly despite only going ankle deep. After I admonished him, I then got hit by a similar ‘freak wave’ and got a little damp around the edges myself!

It’s such a joy being on holiday with one so excited by every nook and cranny of a new place. So much to explore and we will be out there all week doing just that – armed with our trusty beach tools and fortified with ice cream and scones we will adventure together.

Once he is in bed, exhausted by the day’s activity, I will get out my paints and try and capture some of the colour of the day onto paper. I brought a whole crate load of art supplies so I must make their long journey worthwhile or they’ll only sulk – even if they did get to sit in the front all the way!

Thursday, 13 August 2009


This rather represents my mood today - or at least my brain. It's full to bursting with thoughts, lists, ideas, hopes, aspirations and things to do...
Everything is half done or dabbled with as my bemused and befuddled self reaches out to the next task and the one after before finishing anything. In fact, I know I won't finish this post now... I have to go out in a minute, but at least I made a start.
I know, I know. I should make a list and prioritise the key tasks. Finish those first then move onto the next. Sometimes though I just can't concentrate on any one thing. I tried to listen to a relaxation CD but the guy teaching me how to relax talked way toooo sloooowwwly. I don't have time for that nonsense. There's too much to do. First week of holiday nearly over. It's passed in a complete blur.
Anyway, this is my creation for Theme Thursday on the subject of 'orange'. You may recognise the lady - she is Little Boots the singer. I cut her out from Vogue and stuck her on a swirly background. We played with acrylics and oil pastel then she was unceremoniously flattened in the scanner before being magically transported into Photoshop. There she was mixed with some luscious photographs I'd taken which in their turn were adjusted and tweaked until the result was Little Boots exploding from the blooms. A little bit of fun and fantasyland.
Does your head ever feel this full?

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Opening doors

Jamie Ridler invites us to share our wishes. Which door do I want to open?

My door is already opening. In fact, every day it seems to get just that little bit wider. It's the door to possibility, to creativity and following the true self. It's a door I gradually closed to myself a long time ago as the weight of life and responsibility took over. I doubt that many of us allow this secret door much access - we hide it behind the pile of our life and just get on with existing until so much is accumulated in front that we forget it was even there in the first place.

The door opens the room to ambition and dreams. Society pushes us away from living our dreams. We don't recognise that this is a fight we need to win. Instead of rolling over and dragging ourselves to work in jobs that suck us dry, we should roll up our sleeves and do battle... Life is not a rehersal. My dreams of being a writer/creative are in that room and I am going in to rescue them, to play and have fun. I've spent that last few months pulling away all those boxes of excuses from the doorway. I held the key in my hand and tentatively unlocked.

At first tiny tendrils of creative expression began to peek tentatively through the tiny gap, but the shoots grew strong and helped push from the other side until the gap opened wider and wider... To borrow an expression from Connie at Dirty Footprints, I am living the 'creative juicy life'. I'm sucking up its fruity deliciousness and licking my lips. It fortifies me with energy. It opens the door to new beginnings!

No pigeon was safe...

We invaded the City my young Knight and I to continue our adventurous quest. Some kind of magic had been performed when the Moon shone; for the morning dawned shiny bright and crisp with the spirit of exploration.

We transported through an incredible time machine to tread the same earth as mighty dinosaurs, curious mammals and ginormous birdies. Well, actually we caught the 0948 to London Euston and then a couple of tube stops later arrived at the Natural History Museum!
Them dinosaur bones sure are big and a bit scary-looking - especially to a five-year-old... and was Mummy quite sure that the animatronics weren't real..? 'Cause those teeth looked mighty sharp and those eyes seriously beady!

Great fun charging around a Museum with a young escort and then the day's fun just kept on coming as I took him on a whistle-stop tour of my favourite city. Best bit for probably both of us was him discovering just how fun it is to chase pigeons (or chippins as he kept calling them!) - especially when they have been so foolish enough as to gather in a flock in the middle of a nice bit of grass.
Taking time to see life through a child's eyes is such powerful therapy. Their speed at digesting all they take in seems somehow to assist in your own slowing which is rather a contradiction! Away from the stresses of work and the continual battle to keep the house clean and tidy and manage the 'to do' list, it seems we finally allow ourselves a little moment to just stop and watch and smile.

Monday's relaxation had helped pave the way to allowing this stepping back off the treadmill.

Today, however, threatens a return as I drift around the house attempting to achieve everything while not accomplishing much. Relax Lisa, for tis your summer holiday (even if it is raining AGAIN!).

Monday, 10 August 2009

Ode to Indolence

Ah, who would have thought that weather most foul could have brought forth such a day of delicious indolence.

Today, my brave Knights and I were to do battle with tourists a plenty at ye Olde Castle of Warwick; but we were defeated at first hurdle by a most malicious drizzle. For who wouldst pay good coinage to become dreched in England's fair yet damp mistings. Tourist battle may only be undertaken with full sunshine beating its fists upon one's breast; or else one risks a melancholy most terrible to drown the pleasures like a poor, helpless butterfly trapped in a raindrop.

We ventured instead closer to home and partook of light refreshment at local a Costa-lry before raising the home drawbridge, prepared to sit out the weather and its foul scourge of a siege.

Fortified by a roasted fowl and crispy pommes de terre, we spent the afternoon in a state of blissful indolence. The young Knight fought Monsters Inc, while the fair maiden and he of the shining armour took refuge in great literature - for had not the mighty river at last delivered her Creativity missives and did he not discover some light-hearted romance to gladden his heart?

Ah... the delights of a British summer.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

My Muse - inspiration trois

Following on the theme of my inspirations, let's have a chat about the creative Muse.

I promise that this will be the last post in which I mention her for a while. It’s just that she is so narcissistic at the moment and, having been commented on favourably once this week, just wants all the attention. In another moment of serendipity (and they seem to be happening all over the place at the moment), I found this amazing YouTube link on Hybrid J’s blog. It’s well worth 20 minutes of your time.

Author Elizabeth Gilbert recounts her own experiences of creative block and the pressure that artists and writers put themselves under to create their next masterpiece.

She ponders the eternal question: Where does creativity come from? Is it a gift? Is a part of you or a mystic being that visits you from time to time, but only when it feels like it?

Fasten up your sandals and take a step back in time to the ancient Greeks and Romans. They believed that the spark was outside of you – and even named it. The Greeks referred to their creativity as a Daemon and the Romans, most interestingly, a Genius! She doesn’t mention the Geni in the lamp but surely this is linked too – after all it is the granter of wishes the creator of dreams come true.

Sometimes when I return to something I’ve written or created I almost don’t recognise it as something that came from me. Does that sound strange? I internally marvel at where the idea came from, the sentence structure, the ideas. I admit I only think this when it’s something I am particularly proud of. When it’s a pile of old pants I always seem only to willing to take ownership! Am I just not believing in myself or is there really a Daemon that takes over at the keyboard or picks up the paintbrush through me? What defines creativity? What makes one person say “I’m not creative” and yet gives another the freedom to take materials or words and just let go with them?

We’re all born with the survival instinct, but what about creativity? Does everyone have it but it just lies dormant? I heard another amazing quote here today - it went something along the lines of : If you give a four-year-old paper and crayons, you never hear them say 'I can't... I don't have any talent'. How true. To a child creativity=fun. This is something I have had to teach myself again as a grown up. A little reminder of youthful pleasures.
We are so afraid of embarassing ourselves. Putting our work on show. I don't care anymore though. I just blame my Muse now - she can bear the brunt of criticism and take the praise; my half of the deal is that I get all the fun! I entreat you all to do the same - go invite a Daemon or Genius into your lives and let them show you how it's done.

As Elizabeth Gilbert says: Just do your job. Turn up (and hope the Muse does too).

I’ve ordered a few books on the subject from those nice folk in the Amazon so no doubt I will be sharing a few more thoughts on the subject soon. Providing they ever arrive… seems like they are being paddled down the winding river, rather than employing a faster mode of transport. Ooh the frustration…

Illustration: My Muse posed for me here (or was she just perhaps painting a self portrait?). She's another of my 'colouring in' experiments from the pages of Vogue - mixed media and spot of smudging in Photoshop. I really should save the 'before' picture as well as the 'after'. You'd never guess she was once encumbered by a pile of over-sized soap lying atop of her. Remember kiddies - this technique is easy and fun. Just paint over your subject with gesso, then acrylic and oil pastel on top (other mediums are available!).

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Endless possibility

This morning I awoke to a wonderful feeling. Something very special was awaiting, a time of endless possibility. Well, two weeks anyway. Today I start my Summer holiday! Ah, the blissful thought of no work, sunshine*, travel and creativity.

* One can but hope. This morning greeted me with such promise with ne'er a cloud in the sky. I celebrated the fact by putting some washing on so my smalls can enjoy the opportunity of flapping about in a warm breeze later!

And the plan to make the most of every second of the these rare moments of magic? Well, naturally some serious creativity but above all some time to play with my son and let loose a bit more of the child in me. Also, some exciting travel. Watch this space and enjoy taking flight with us...
The seagull is Juan. We met him on holiday last year in Menorca. Note the blue sky. Here's hoping...

Thursday, 6 August 2009

A dabble with Dante

Just rolls of the tongue nicely that title doesn't it. I refer not to the inferno but the pre-Raphaelite. One Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Yes, I have been partaking of a little of the Desperate Romantics again and it leads nicely onto this very post I was contemplating last night while attempting to sleep.

I realised that the weekend's Five Degrees of Inspiration post had indeed done its job - thinking of the magic of Italy manifested itself in Monday's Tuscan dreaming. Suddenly I was no longer short of ideas for posts this week - 5 posts on my 5 inspirations! One down, four to go.

What could possibly follow the Italian countryside? Well, you know how that little rascal inspiration works... one minute it's as coy as a fair maiden then next it's flirting and teasing. It dances the ideas before you, whirling and swirling with wild abandon.

First I toyed with a few words on my Muse but you'll have to wait for that one as Inspiration 2 most definitely decided to be 'artists and creatives' and who better tonight than Mr Rossetti with his rogue-ish charm and charisma. Oh yes, and the rather fabulous paintings! Add to the mix a little challenge I found lurking about on the web last night - 'create something purple' and we had the evening's entertainment.

So, while I observed Rossetti and pals (courtesy of the good old BBC) attempting to take the art world by storm whilst also trying not to ruin the reputation of fair maidens and knocking back copious quantities of Gin and substances of a dubious nature, I rummaged through my treasure chest for those little gems that said both 'purple' and respected one of the key principle of those Pre-Raphaelite painters: the beauty in nature.
Voila - my 'purple bloom' bursting forth in an abundance of earthy pleasure ... feeling at one with the flora and fauna. Yeah, whatever.... I do talk rubbish at times! It matters not, it was just great fun sloshing the acrylic about, rubbing the pastel, snipping and collaging and pretending I was a Victorian dandy! Methinks that now might be a good time to get some rest!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Postcard from Tuscany

I closed my eyes and took flight on the wings of my dreams. The soft elixir of the birdsong, wine and intoxicating scents carried me high into the hills above Firenze. Delicate flavours tinged with grape and olive caressed my taste buds lulling me into a state of soporific indulgence. Music enveloped my senses like the softest duck down and the setting sun bronzed my skin until it glowed with pleasure and warmth.

I thought that having written about the inspiring affects of Italia, I should perhaps let the Muse free to run under the Cypresses for an hour while I got the collaging and painting materials out. A little teamwork (and a glass of wine) was just the thing we needed to soothe ourselves after a trying day.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Corrupting music

I'm scared, really scared. I think I might be losing it a little, the old mind is not what it used to be... it's becoming addled or maybe just corrupted - yes that must be it - I've been brainwashed. This morning I was struck by a terrifying experience. I actually enjoyed listening to Perry Como on the radio - and this is not the first time an event of this magnitude has happened. I marvelled at the smoothness of his voice, his talent, was uplifted by the romance and passion of the lyrics. What on earth is the matter with me? It's that bleedin' Wogan fellow with his TOGisms and cronies bantering on about snorkers and vittals (you have to listen to understand what on earth I'm bathering on about). And, dare I confess that it gets worse. Yesterday I downloaded the latest Neil Sedaka song [hangs head in hands]. But you see, it's just so catchy with its Latin rhythms (although has anyone noticed that he seems to sound like a woman?). It's actually playing now...[cringes] and I am bobbing around in my seat to the hypnotising beat lie lie low lie low lie low lie ...

Surely just because I'm approaching 40 it doesn't mean I have to start liking the same music as my Mother? Next thing we know I'll be reading SAGA magazine... (which is the kind of publication your parents subscribe to!)

What will Lindsay say if she reads this? Will I be removed from the Christmas card list? She won't believe that I did actually listen to Kings of Leon on the way home - loudly (and then switched it for some easy listening because I wanted something soothing).

Maybe if she just listened, she might just understand....

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Once upon a time...

I do so love a challenge, more particularly a creative one. So, when I stumbled across 'What would you do with this creative background' last week I knew I was destined to be getting the art supplies out once again. Well, that's not strictly true I suppose - more poetic licence. You see the art supplies have not actually been put away for many a month... It's lucky it is summer and we can use the outdoor table for eating, for I'm afraid there is rarely enough space showing to place a fork, let alone two plates of lasagne!

I printed off the creative background and sat and looked at it here and there for a few days with the thought of doing another face from magazine style alteration/collage that I have so enjoyed experimenting with recently.

So, why look at it for a few days? Why not just dive in and get sticky, building texture and rubbing colour with the usual boundless enthusiasm. I'm sure you can guess... Yes, suddenly this was 'for show'. I had accepted the challenge and like a fearless Knight setting off to slay the dragon I could no more turn up with a poor attempt than the Knight could return to ask for the fair lady's hand without at least a singed eyebrow and a small, yet terribly romantic, scar on his left cheek.

Pressure on and the Muse failed to cooperate. I tumbled through Vogue and swam into Conde Nast. I skipped through meadows in Homes & Gardens and longed for £3,000 to spend on a wooden screen in World of Interiors. Distraction was in plentiful supply. Inspiration was taking a siesta on a beach in the Maldives.

However, if I've learnt a thing or two these past weeks from my wrecking and other projects; it has certainly been to give that old inner critic the necessary boot up the backside and remind myself that I am doing this for ME! For my pleasure. Sure I would like to share it with others but no one is expecting it to be in Royal Academy Summer Exhibition so let's ditch the perfectionist attitude and just have fun.

With the critic's hasty exit, space was freed up for the welcome return of the Muse who arrived in the nick of time all tanned and rested. We spent a pleasant evening leafing through magazines and tearing out a page here and there that looked interesting. We still haven't grown tired of the pretty lady theme so we snipped, glued and gessoed. Then, that's where the fun really began...

Out came the acrylics for a bit of blending in the images and the joyous 'colouring in'. Some new art supply stencils got a pasting and the gold paint was retrieved from where it was hiding under an 'artistic pile'. And the beginnings of the a title started to illuminate ... Well, what else but Once upon a time...

Four words that open up a magical world of handsome princes, wicked stepmothers, wiley wolves and feisty heroines. My story was looking a little bland in comparison though. OK, so we had Cinderella looking for her slipper and possibly the little mermaid, but what else was missing?

The magic!

Then that's when that clever old Muse piped up with the perfect suggestion to continue the creating pleasure. Since this was essentially a digital project then what's stopping a little photoshop pleasure and I knew exactly which picture to use...

Mirror Mirror on the wall...
[just wave your wand (click) to enlarge]

Saturday, 1 August 2009

5 degrees of inspiration

I've been invited to a wonderful party - fancy dress of course! Come dressed in your five favourite inspirations... It's not too late to join in, grab your 'drive' and journey over...

Inspiration. The word seems to brush gently as it passes your lips,

gossamer soft and strangely enticing.

Primo - My Muse

She is surely a magical thing but playful too. My secret self who will creep up on me when least expected, and don’t think she follows any rules. No way! Inspiration makes an appearance only when she wants to. It’s her terms or no terms.

Inspiration is my muse; she is what turns a dull day into a fine one; a pile of old paper into a work of art and a tiny germ of an idea into a full-blown pandemic of explosive creativity! Sometimes I just have to sit at a keyboard or in front of some art materials and she will weave her spells. Occasionally she makes me work a bit harder for her services. However, the time she pays me most visits (the little minx) is late at night when I am trying to sleep. POP goes the bubble of idea she sends me scuttling into my brain and spreading out its interesting tendrils, exploring a myriad possibilities. Will I remember by morning? Possibly not, so my muse gives me a quick nudge, turns on the bedside lamp and presents me with my beautiful floral notebook into which I diligently record her delightful suggestions.

Secondo - Artists & Creatives
The creativity of others – whether it be a beautiful ACEO on Etsy or gazing in awe in front of the great Masters. Standing in front of the Canalettos in the National Gallery in London, I once had what can only be described as a moment of self-discovery. It is almost impossible to put into words. I felt uplifted and suddenly in touch with lost emotion, with the desire to create and dig for soul treasure.

Websites like Etsy had me dreaming and drooling until suddenly I stopped thinking "if only" and instead dived in head first into a box of art supplies. I came out sticky, paint-stained, crumpled, creased, frustrated, exhilarated but above all motivated. No matter the result, it's the journey that counts. It doesn't have to rank alongside Canaletto, Rosetti or Monet. It just has to please me.

My soul is like a sponge soaked in all this inspirational juice. Everywhere I turn I'm drenched in showers of it. Thank you to all you lovely creative people. This week I was inspired by a simple challenge... Here is a background, go make something. So I pondered and splashed and stuck and experimented. A tiny detail on display here. Come back tomorrow when I post the full version.

Terzo - Italy
What magic lifts from the fragrant hills? What secrets lie behind honeyed walls and terracotta tile? What secret elixir inhabits the vino rosso? Maybe it is the incurable romantic in me, but there is something timelessly enticing about the land of Romeo and his sweetheart. Artists and writers across the centuries have been drawn in mesmerised and, growing up in such surroundings how can you fail but to become Michaelangelo, Da Vinci, Puccini or even Ferrari?

The first time I sat open-mouthed in front of the film adaptation of the E M Forster classic, A Room with a View, I was in love. I only have to catch a passing glimpse of rolling Tuscan countryside and I am reaching for paintbrush. Ah if only I could truly capture that essence.

Quarto - Feedback
Well, I admit that no one really likes criticism but if ever anything was guaranteed to goad me into action to improve anything I have created then a little niggling dig is sure to rile the Muse into action - providing of course that you see their point of view (there's always a caveat!). "I'll show them..."
But thankfully the scales of happiness do sometimes swing in our favour. How wonderful to receive praise... but is it really as good at kick-starting the Muse? Does it not put extra pressure to out-perform or at the very least equal?
And who can ever resist the pull of a little healthy competition too?

And now alas my inner critic is chastising me. How can I possibly post this without an appropriate picture? I don't have any artwork that quite epitomises the inspiring power of a few choice words. No, not excellent.

Quinto - Heston Blumenthal
Just watch and tell me you're not inspired! Anything is possible. Pure genius.

Heston is arguably one of the world's greatest chefs and undoubtedly the most imaginative.

He is a man who thrives on creativity, cut him in half (not recommended) and he'll have it written through him. It doesn't matter whether he creates culinary concoctions, advertisements, films or breeze blocks. It's about having the nerve to fire up that creativity with inspiration from the most unlikely sources; never being afraid to try something different and, possibly most important, keeping at it until you get the results you're after - it may not be exactly what you set out to do at the start, but it's giving people what they didn't know they wanted - and boy do they want it!

Thank you for the invite. I'm having fun so far, but a little lonely at the party on my own... Who will turn up next and what costumes will they be wearing?

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