Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Something to share

Why, can it be Wishcasting Wednesday again already? How the week has flown! If you never joined in, then pop along and visit Jamie Ridler and the wonderful gang and cast your wishes to the wind with us. This week we answer the question: What do you wish to share?
I would love to share something wonderful with my fellow bloggers who always offer such support and guidance - a slice of this chocolate cake from Konditor & Cook perhaps? Or, if you don't like chocolate (strange person!), then a pretty flower from an English country garden?

This is my second attempt at this post tonight. I hid the other one away. It became too open.

After the hidden attempt, I wasn't going to bother writing another post today, but then I whacked myself around the chops a few times and told myself off for being so selfish - Jamie has asked us to share and so I will. I'm sure I've got more than one thing to impart - the other post was a dilemma - this one will be something to make you smile. I'm not sure what yet, I'm hoping for inspiration as we go along.

Today I shared fuss. My son crept in my bed this morning rather early because he wanted some. My boyfriend needed a bit too, but he had to have 'virtual' fuss because we didn't see each other today. My Dad deserves lots of fuss as he recovers from his heart attack and my Mum definitely requires us all to fuss over her as she worries about the rest of us too much.

I like sharing fuss. Would you like some?

I love sharing stories about my son... He believes I have eyes in the back of my head and that 'little birds' really do tell me that he got that huge scratch on his belly from falling out of a tree he wasn't supposed to be climbing, rather than just 'falling over on the playground' as he 'innocently' explained to me...

It gives me great joy to share exciting discoveries. My friend just visited and she was bombarded with books and websites I wanted to show her (I may have pushed her in the direction of this blog a bit too, but hey, we're only human!). I introduced her to Etsy and books by Kelly Rae Roberts and Susan Tuttle. I predict it will only be a matter of days before she makes her first Etsy purchase - her eyes lit up when she realised just how many wonderful shops are waiting, just a simple click away. She shared with me a book I should read - something about being a Goddess ... I need to go look it up on Amazon...

You know what, I enjoyed writing this post. It felt good sharing nice things. I wish to share more nice things, it's a happy thing to do. And now, I am going to share my thoughts on what the other wishcasters have to say.

Monday, 28 September 2009

I got sunshine...

I got sunshine... on a cloudy day.

When I saw the Mixed Media Monday Challenge this week asking for a piece inspired by lyrics from a song, this immediately sprang to mind. I love this line. It's so romantic.

I've had the idea for this painting for a while. I was captivated by the magazine shot of the woman in the rape field and wanted to give it a bit of a 'Lisa treatment'. OK, so it doesn't quite conjure up the romance of the lyric but the brilliant yellows from the blooms in the field keep her shining as the clouds gather above.

Acrylics, magazine collage, some more of that old book, tissue paper scrunched up (just like we did back at primary school!), charcoal pencil (my new favourite toy) and a dash of oil pastel.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

A cheesy tale

Fran wriggled her nose rabbit-style and slowly sniffed. Deep, earthy scents tickled her senses, teasing with promise. Salivating, she smiled coyly at James and begged for a tiny taste. He speared a ripe brie and held it out tantalisingly before snatching it back as her mouth leant forward. The exercise was repeated with a gooey stilton, a pungent gorgonzola and the freshest of unpasteurised goat's cheese.

The precious dairy products were packed away and replaced in the fridge. "Do I need to padlock it?" James laughed.

Fran patted her round belly and heaved herself out of the chair, waddling upstairs to bed. "I think I can wait a few more days", she smiled.
My entry for this week's Sunday Scribbling. The theme this week? Well, cheese naturally!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Nothing doing

Switch everything off. Close your eyes. Relax. Listen to the soft swoosh of waves dragging their cargo of sand and shells up the beach. Empty your mind. Do nothing. Think nothing. Good things will happen.

But what sort of beach? Is it sandy or bumpy with pebbles. Is it in this country? Cornwall perhaps, or maybe a golden curving dream ringed with gentle palms. Is the sea rough or calm?

It doesn't matter what beach, just listen to the sounds of the waves, allow them to wash away your thoughts...

No, it's no good. I can't stop my imagination taking me on a whistle-stop tour of Conde-Nast's Top 10 dreamiest holiday hot-spots.

A candle, that's nice and simple.... Did I turn the stove off? I'm sure I did, but I know for sure I've forgotten to hang out the washing. What time is it? Only 5 minutes since I started, well I suppose technically I should begin again as I've been rather thought-filled...

What have I done with the book anyway, haven't seen it for a few days... I can't remember what is supposed to happen when you 'do nothing' anyway. Some sort of state of calm I guess... Hmm. I'm a bit peckish... I hate my job... Shall I quit? Is that the phone?

***
Well, no I haven't gone completely mad (well no more than usual). This is simply an open dialogue typical of my attempts at switching off this week. Together with a group of bloggers, we are working through The Joy Diet by Martha Beck. Week 1 required us to 'do nothing' for 15 minutes each day. It is not very easy. When I actually remember, I simply cannot switch off for more than about a minute at a time. However, I'm not overly bothered. I never for one moment thought that this was a skill that would come naturally. In fact, I also suspect that I'll learn most from reading others' experience. I'm off now to read up on what everyone else has been doing.
I'll keep trying anyway. Next week's chapter is called truth. OK, I admit it. Twas I that stole the cookies from the jar...
To see how everyone is getting on, take a look at 'The Next Chapter' with Jamie Ridler and the gang.

Friday, 25 September 2009

For my Dad

I love you Dad, you really are a wonderful father. I know it shouldn't take a heart-attack and a spell in hospital for me to say this 'out loud'; but sometimes I guess we all take each other for granted - especially when that someone is 'always there for me'. Together with Mum you did a pretty good job of bringing me up and sending me out into the world. I guess I'm a bit of handful sometimes (but only a little!). I've not always been the conventional daughter but at least I keep you on your toes. I'm sorry about the teasing and mickey-taking - but it really isn't necessary to wash the crockery quite so thoroughly before putting it in the dishwasher!!

This blog has become such an important part of my self-expression which is why I want to tell everyone just how great my Dad is. He doesn't have a computer and watching him work a mouse is frankly quite hilarious, but I know I can be sure you'll read this sooner or later.

It's pretty hard knowing quite what to say here. Once I start listing your qualities I'll struggle to stop. So let me just make everyone jealous and tell them you're always willing to help, to offer support and guidance (even when we don't think we need it!). You're funny and clever. You're a wonderful Grandad. In fact, you're everything!

Get well soon, have plenty of rest and, next time you have 'indigestion' for over 12 hours, do us all a favour and call an ambulance after about 10 minutes!

Your loving, troublesome daughter Lisa
xx

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Luxuriating in...

I've been doing a lot of wishing lately (keeping the fairies out of recession, it's a hard job but someone's gotta do it). It's all the fault of that nice Ridler lady and the ever-increasing gang of Wednesday Wishcasters. Do you know what, it's quite nice asking the Universe for things and this week we get to choose a 'luxury'. Hmm, what shall we say - a bath filled with chocolate? A yacht filled with toy boys? A ring filled with diamonds? Nah, not that they're not nice of course, but let's face it - too much chocolate makes you fat and spotty, I doubt the toy boys could handle me and if your best friend is a diamond, then you're really in trouble girl.

No, I'm afraid I am going to be a bit cliched here. It's TIME I'd like a bit more of. I go to bed every night frazzled, trying to pack into my evening what I'd be far more comfortable spending all day enjoying. I need a little time to find me. I need time to find a job where I feel I'm actually achieving something, but that finishes nice and early so I can spend more time with my boy. I need time to do nothing - cause I'm supposed to be doing this for 15 minutes a day for the Joy Diet and I'm finding it really hard (more on this on Friday's posting). I most definitely want more time to write and slosh paint about. I might get around to doing more housework or, hey... what about someone to do it for me?! I would have posted a longer missive tonight, but guess what... I'm a bit pushed for time... (I'm multi-tasking hanging out the washing and making tomorrow's sandwiches as I write this).

And Universe, if you're listening and feeling really generous. Could you possibly give me a hand turning the spare bedroom/junk room into an art studio?
Painting by Will Cotton: Chocolate Bath!

Monday, 21 September 2009

Strictly metal

Naturally, I could not allow the beginning of a new season of Strictly Come Dancing* on our screens to pass by unmentioned. I just had to sashay onto the page with dancing superlatives. I even created this little artwork inspired by the lights and glamour of the show. It also fits in rather nicely with the 'metal' theme at Mixed Media Monday.

(*aka Dancing with the Stars elsewhere in the world or simply 'Strictly' in the UK).

Waltz along with my words tonight darlings as I take to the floor with my dance partner - Prose. Step to the sexy Brazilian beat of the Cha Cha Cha by taking in this rather crazy composition of silver foil, shiny metallic acrylic paints, iridescent inks, a little collage, shiny tissue paper, lashings of glitter and an overdose of swirling chiffon and rhythm. It is perhaps a little over-done and clumsy, but hey it's only week 1, there's time to improve... Over to you judges...

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Hungry - a Sunday Scribbling

This autumn we Brits once again seek to get our fix of talent shows. Up against each other in the ratings we have Strictly Come Dancing and The X-Factor.

What does it take to be a winner? Is it down to talent alone? Do you have to possess a burning hunger that drives you to seek sustenance for your soul? Was Susan Boyle hungry? Probably not. I think she just liked singing. But then is hunger necessary to sustain a lengthy career, to keep up the rounds of tours, interviews and recordings. I suspect that a burning desire to hold onto this magic will have to come, or else a different yearning will pull her back to a Scottish village again, away from the limelight.

And what of the other thousands of professions that don't require audiences of millions to view your 'audition'. How do you portray hunger at interview without coming across as desperate? When you hear the magic words "We'd like to offer you the job", how much do you have to continually want to make your living like this to really enjoy it and be successful?

This is a turning into a list of questions? Shouldn't I be answering some or is that your job readers? If I was a hungry writer, surely I should be giving more of my opinion.

I am a hungry writer, so I'll do something with this knawing, nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach. I believe you need hunger to really succeed, you have to 'feel the pain'. Programmes like the X-Factor put the belief in heads that all you need to do is turn up and Simon Cowell will do the rest. What the unsuccessful auditionees fail to spot is that, of those that make the TV shows, the majority have 'been there and done it'. They have felt the knawing, they've toiled at singing lessons, worked the clubs and put themselves in front of an audience. They want it. They know they want it and so, they keep trying every avenue until they get it. There'll always be the few blessed with effortless talent who sail through to the finals. But watch them... see them get the hunger, the desire to win, to be a success.

So, I reflect on my own hunger. How much do I want a new job? How hard am I prepared to work at a (nearly) middle-aged second career as a writer, for I still need the day job to keep a roof over my head? Well, I do want that new job. I have so much to offer a business. I am all about building engagement - hunger if you like - in employees. When I'm set free I write to engage, to entertain, to educate, to nurture. Last time I checked, Simon Cowell didn't do a talent show for Internal Communication Managers or budding novelists, so I'll have to make it on my own.
In short:

I'm hungry
I've cupboards full of the juicy sustenance of ideas
I'm very clever with blending ingredients and creating tasty dishes
I have the power to feed the hunger, feed the soul

So, what am I waiting for? Life begins at 40, so in 6 months when I hit that milestone I'll be loving a cracking new job and have the first manuscripts out to the agents!
Now, I'm off to feed my stomach. There's a blackberry and apple crumble in the oven. Heavy on the apple. Dragged my son off blackberry picking this afternoon. We were gone over an hour and came back with six! Still, it was enough to give the apples a slight pink tinge!
This post was in response to the Sunday Scribblings challenge - write on the subject of hunger. To read more, pop along to their website.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Vintage drama


Jacqueline floated onto the ice, relishing the sound of skate on her stage that gave her such comfort. Out on the rink she was another person, far removed from the broken-hearted, dejected housewife she became when she crossed the threshold of number 43. She was a princess, a warrior, a diva, a fairy. She was anything she wanted to be.

Another, hidden in the gloom of the seats, watched Jacqueline’s every move. Motionless, she was a shadow against the shine from the ice stage. She was always in the shade even under the lights. No one ever noticed. No one cared. But not for much longer, for Pamela had something of Jacqueline’s that she knew the beautiful, foolish woman would give anything for – including her place in the limelight. Pammie’s time was coming. She smiled and slipped out of the auditorium. No one saw her go.

A bit of drama for you as my entry for the 'Vintage' challenge at number 3 Inspiration Avenue. Strictly speaking I think I should probably have made something, but couldn't resist showing you this vintage programme I picked up at a car boot sale last weekend for the bargain price of 10p. Aside from the fact I've since found an identical one for sale online for £10 (now that's what I call I bargain!), it does conjure up a lost era. I couldn't help but wonder what their stories were, so thought I'd have a bit of fun and invent one. I actually got two programmes - the other for a 1954 Holiday on Ice. I went to see that as a girl (in the 1970s, not the 1954 one!) and I think it still tours now, fitting in around the X-Factor, Britain's Got Talent and more modern and cheeky upstarts!

Fairy dust


There's much magic in the air tonight. Can you hear it whispering through the trees? Fragments of spells fly with the fairies as they dust the unsuspecting. The fae background comes to life with a heady mixture of acrylics, inks and old texts revealing hidden secrets. Are you brave enough to look in the mirror?

There's a magical theme to this challenge from TGIF (strictly speaking it is now Saturday morning, but I'm sure it's still Friday somewhere in the world)

Friday, 18 September 2009

The joy of dieting

I’ve been comfort eating. I am unashamedly addicted to chocolate, it makes me feel better about my miserable job for at least… ooh 5 minutes.

A couple of extra pounds are sitting round my waistline and I feel lethargic and morose. I am not a happy bunny. What better week then to start my new blogging group book – The Joy Diet by Martha Beck. Although not strictly a diet book in the traditional sense; if I get it right I will hopefully feel less need to eat the brown sweet stuff.

The Joy Diet - find out more

Together with life coach Jamie Ridler and a group of inspirational bloggers/dieters – some old buddies and new friends in the making – we will work through each chapter that teaches us how to feed our soul all the nutrition it needs. We will learn how to make the most of our potential, what it takes to lift us from the arms of Morpheus each morning with a smile on our faces and a spring in our steps. In short, we will be mastering how to bring more joy into our lives.

I have read the first chapter which invites us to do ‘nothing’ which seems a strange start! Easier said than done though when you’re a Lisa. I thought at first we just had to still for 15 minutes a day which I’m sure I could just about manage… at a push… But no, doing nothing also means thinking nothing. We have to empty our minds; stop listening to the ticker tape of jabber; silence the inner critic; wipe the to do list off the brain’s blackboard. The benefits? Well, it's the place where you find your true self, your inner strength. It's probably best summed up in the words of Lao Tzu:

"We shape the clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want."

Worth thinking about for sure.

First attempt: I darkened the room and went all ‘new age’ with my background music. I relaxed and tried some of the techniques Martha recommends. My mind however, was still tuned into 300 channels (and a couple of muxes*) all competing for my attention. Doing nothing, it turns out, will take some perfecting… Tune in next Friday to see if practice makes perfect and the following weeks when joyful creativity, tenacious truth searching and brave risk-taking will abound.

I made this journal page a few weeks ago in a delicious moment. My creative inspiration melted on my tongue sending a rush of endorphins through my bloodstream and down into the paintbrush. It looks a bit of a mess but it was a rather joyful experience!

PS – I think the UK version of the book has a much more jolly cover dontcha think?

* Mux: technical term I picked up at work. It's a grey box - need I say more?

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Stretching wings

Jamie Ridler's Wishcasting Wednesday invites us to share how we 'wish to stretch'.

I feel like I'm a story that still needs to be told*. We got past the once upon a time bit many magical moons ago, but the heroine's still on quest to find her true direction. She's been solving quests, fighting off monsters and map wandering for a long time now.

Today work can only be described as miserable. My story should not be dreary and grey, it should be catching rainbows and getting sprinkled with sparkling drops of colour. I am not stretched in my current job - I'm not even gently pulled!

I want to stretch my creative muscle - to take on what I finally understand I was meant to do - I want to write, to paint and create. If I don't stretch myself this way for at least one year of my life then I will never forgive myself. Life is for living.

Tonight I start my Art Journaling Supernova online class - what a wonderful way to stretch - I'm limbering up already. I may pull a few muscles on the way but a little bit of pain is all part of the learning. I'm looking to that finishing line and plan on crossing it whooping and cheering.


* I read this line today on Kelly Rae's blog and it had me leaping out the chair shouting YES YES YES - Me toooooooo!

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Challenging times


As the Prime Minister announces cuts in public service spending...

Gotcha! Don't worry, I'm not about to go all 'political' on you. Instead, I'm stretching the creative muscles and doing a spot of serious limbering up for some strenuous challenges coming up over the coming months.

In no particular order:

National Novel Writing Month
First up and undeniably the biggest, most ginormous online event I've ever dared stick my nose into is this challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days (of November) - whilst also working full time, being a mother, girlfriend, daughter, sister, friend, and organising a craft fayre (more on that one later). Well, why not I say? The emphasis with this challenge is on quantity, not quality. In other words, the old inner critic can be told to take a running jump. Writing without inhibition may just be what is needed to get this novel off the ground.

I'm excited to be a writing buddy of another blogger - Hybrid J. We'll be encouraging each across that finishing line. I actually can't wait for this!

Pocket contents
I guess I shouldn't dive too far into this posting without perhaps attempting to explain why a blobby pocket watch is serving illustrating purpose here. Well, by now you may have perceived a slight addiction to artistic challenges. This is for the benefit of the Three Muses and followers and this week's theme - pocket.

Journal page background scanned then digital collage. Thanks to Graphics Fairy for Mr Brownlow, the Victorian ghostly gent who has come looking for his pocket watch and found a few memories too. I can't remember where I got the watch from - 'somewhere else' on the web. I gave it a bit of a pounding in Photoshop butI think it's still working! I do feel I cheated a little though. I had planned to paint the watch, but it got too late and I wanted my bed...

Inspiration Avenue
I wanted to give a quick plug to the talents of the ladies at this Etsy group & blog. They have begun a new weekly challenge - open to all, so do pop along. This week's theme is 'Vintage'. Hmm, vintage wine... would love a glass thanks!


Mail art challenge
Here's a guaranteed gallery entry. Simply create a piece of mail art that will have the postman swooning (or possibly cursing, since I don't believe there is any restriction in size) and send it in. Clearly the organisers felt that since the advent of email they didn't get enough real post, or maybe they just wanted to provide work to their local postal service. We may never know... I need to investigate this one further but the closing date isn't for months so I'll probably apply the tried and tested 'leave it to the last minute' technique. Works every time...

'Champagne' Supernova
Well, 'Art Journal' actually but that Oasis track is a particular favourite and I seem to have wine on the brain... This starts tomorrow! Most excited, will no doubt be telling more. Bought two pristine journals today which I've sat and stroked and dribbled over.

The Joy Diet
The second of Jamie Ridler's blogging groups I have joined. Together we work through this book by Martha Beck (our Maitre D') who presents us with a menu of ten behaviours to add to our Life table. I've had a bash at the first chapter. 'Do nothing'. It's a bit like asking me to eat parsnips cooked in blue cheese - hence I include it under my challenging list! Later weeks will have me taking risks, playing, laughing, feasting and getting creative (that sounds easier [whispers], but time will tell - there may be a few parsnips hidden among the chocolate mousse)! Starts this Friday; it's not too late to join.

A real selling opportunity
In the last 6 months I have created and crafted; painted and patterned; melted and moulded. I have single-handedly kept Hobbycraft in business. It is time to recoup some cost. I have persuaded my son's school to hold a craft fayre in November. A bit of a ladies' night. I've sourced other local artisans and together with another Mum will be going all 'entrepreneurial'. We'll hopefully make money for the school too which they'll probably need because... today the the Prime Minister announced cuts in public service spending...

Monday, 14 September 2009

Getting there... in a roundabout sort of way


Round and round whirr the cogs of my mind, grinding and processing a million thoughts, fragmenting images, formulating plans. My head hurts today. Perhaps I am not well or maybe it's just overloaded. I can't begin to write.

I opted for some artistic therapy and sought inspiration from a regular haunt. Mixed Media Monday bounced a 'round' theme. With a brain too tired for any clever, off-the-wall interpretation I just went literal. I got a round...

I drew round.
I printed round.
I cut round.
I painted round.
I collaged round.
I shaped round.
I baked round .
I found round.
I stuck round.
I rounded off...

In a roundabout way I ended up with this. It was fun. I feel a bit better now.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Tattoo tales

OK, deep breath.

This is the opening page or two of a story I've been working on... and I'm keen for a bit of feedback. I never felt comfortable posting it before, but my creative ramblings have led me in the direction of another weekly challenge - Sunday Scribblings. Their theme this week is tattoo and since a tattoo of sorts featured in my story, I thought maybe fate was nudging me to dangle my characters into blogland and see if anyone bites!

It's strange, because I don't feel nervous writing blog postings. In fact, as you may have observed from the prodigious quantity of posts (particularly this month when I've purged out more posts than there's been days in the month - with even more 'waiting in the wings'). I quite happily pour out my heart for all the world to see - from Moldova to Brazil if my little widget is to be believed - I tell it how it is. Yet, posting up a little fiction is an entirely different matter. Anyway, enough procrastination. Here is my entry for:

Sunday Scribblings: Tattoo

“Scratch my back will you”, murmured Tabby as she rolled over in bed shrugging off the last vestiges of an alcohol-fused sleep. The returned answer was more of a grunt as Mark flung a hand in the general direction of her back and gave a half hearted rub while desperately trying to regain sleep.

“I had that weird dream again” Tabby said to the hand doing its poor job of relieving her annoying itch. Giving up hope of getting back to his dream of playing alongside his hero Thierry Henry, Mark gave his girlfriend his full attention. “Not dungeons and dragons again?” he smiled at her, marvelling at the powers of her subconscious imagination which was currently conjuring up the contents of a Tolkein novel most nights.

“Dragons and unicorns actually” Tabby remonstrated, “as well you know, and don’t laugh. I’ve never had such vivid dreams, they’re freaking me out”.

“I keep telling you… too much cheese… “ laughed Mark stumbling out of bed towards the shower. “If it bothers you that much, go and see the doctor, though be prepared to leave in a straight jacket!”

Tabby sank back under the duvet consumed by thought and duck down. She had no intention of going to the doctor over a series of odd dreams but they bugged her none the less. What she might see a quack about though was her birthmark which seemed to be changing. Climbing out of bed she tried to peer at the unusual markings on her back which had begun to itch and become inflamed in the last week or so. Her fingers traced the strange pattern at the base of her spine. She was rather proud of it in a way, it was certainly unlike any birthmark she had seen on anyone else – more like a tattoo, a mixture of swirling lines forming what seemed the beginnings of a pattern. Mark, an artist, had even created a series of paintings based around it. He came out with some supposedly romantic notion of it forming a bond between them., but Tabby didn’t need a painting to know that they were meant to be together. She blew an invisible kiss towards the steam filled shower and headed off to the kitchen to make the love of her life a coffee.

***

Tinker glared at Tony, his eyebrows knotting in anger and frustration.

“There’s nothing wrong with it, just do the tattoo” he ordered, but the artisan sat firm on his artist’s stool and stared back with as much determination.

“I’m telling you man, see a doctor, then I’ll do the last part. There’s definitely some inflammation around that mark that’s nothing to do with my artistry. Probably nothing, but I have my reputation and more importantly my insurance to think about.”

Tinker leapt up and got dressed wearing his frustration and disappointment alongside his leathers and filthy jeans.

“Looks bloody stupid now,” he bemoaned. His hands smoothed over the intricate design on his lower back made to match his weird birthmark. It was starting to look really cool, much better than the dumb mark he’d had to put up with all these years. Tony had skilfully mirrored the strange markings creating a labyrinthe design. It was too big a job for one session though and he’d returned for the last part today only to be turned away for “medical reasons”. He slouched out of the tattoo parlour and headed for the doctors. Might as well get the all clear today if he could, maybe Tony could fit him in later…

***


Friday, 11 September 2009

Listmania

I sat on the train yesterday with the sun-drenched countryside whizzing past me as inspiration and wrote. Thoughts unravelled themselves randomly across the page and from part of this outpouring somehow appeared a list of things to do. The first half was a dull list for sure involving dreaded paperwork, finances and filing; but necessary chores that needed doing and couldn’t be put off any longer. The second half naturally leant me in more of a creative direction, reminding myself of various juicy websites I should soak myself in and new techniques to have a dabble with.

When the sun had set and with the small boy safely tucked up in bed, I bravely turned the notebook pages once again to reveal my bĂȘte noir of unpleasant tasks. I quivered in my slippers and felt myself drifting towards ‘sticky corner’ (aka what was once my dining room table but now resembles a very messy artist’s studio!).

However, something deep inside me, that secret longing to walk around my lounge without tripping over something, pushed me into action.

Readers, I tackled that list. I ticked things off. I worked through it. I did it! And do you know what? It sure felt great! A great feeling of calm and serenity descended upon me. I felt virtuous, organised, in control. And when I had finished, then I allowed myself time to create and have fun. And do you know what? I’ve made another list for this evening, for there are still things to trip over. It starts with clearing out my hallway to allow for more easy access and egress from my abode. It moves onto rediscovering my dining room table (albeit only temporarily). What tremendous fun… but it ends with splashing a bit of paint about and posting this blog – I confess I am writing this while at work – though it is still lunchtime (in some parts of the world!).

My mind is so full of ideas at the moment that it feels overflowing – they’re dripping down my hair and falling into my ears (no wonder I caught an ear infection!). I need some semblance of control, flying by the seat of my pants is no longer enough. Perhaps I am just getting old and the reflexes that allowed juggling a whole canteen of cutlery (carving knives included) just aren’t so sharp any more (unlike the knives).

I think I will surgically apply a small notebook to my personage so I can jot down ideas in one place rather than scattered wherever they fall as they are at present. At least writing this blog allows for a spot of focus. Maybe in the future someone will invent a memory chip that supplements brain power and helps you remember things. How cool would that be?

Well, the evening is spent and I am ready for my beddy. I was a good girl. I tidied, I cleaned and cleared then relaxed. I'm a bit too tired to think now, but might as well post this or it will be out of date and an opportunity missed. And I did spend my (ahem) lunchbreak writing it!

Postscript: Saturday morning. Well, I was too tired to even think about illustration for this blog; yet it was the first thing I thought of this morning (after a blissful 9 hours sleep)! I'm in a bit of a rush, but once inspiration strikes... We have a quick journal page on the theme of lists! Well, we will once the paint dries enough to go in the scanner...

Orange you lucky!

Roll up, roll up.Two oranges for the price of one. Come on ladies, pick up a bargain why don't ya. Lovely juicy oranges...

I do like a bit of Inspiration to set my creative cogs a-whirring. When I stumbled upon Inspiration Avenue's blog a wee while ago it was indeed a day most fortunate as it has already led me to make some lovely new friends as well given me opportunities for more tasty creative outpouring. Now they are hosting a weekly challenge.. Well, you know me and a challenge... Why don't you come along and join in!

This week they suggest 'orange' as their theme. Very autumnal. My garden is slowly turning orange as the leaves begin to curl and wrinkle in the sunlight that finally decides to show its face now summer is over. As an aside - why is it that at this time of year spiders insist on spinning their webs at face height across pathways so you end up wearing them like some kind of halloween bridal veil?

I was in the mood for getting sticky this week in my creativity, so made some collage & acrylics boxes. It's a most restful exercise - until you view the mess strewn in a 5 mile radius around the work table. Even the cats have little bits of paper sticking out of their fur which they carry round the house to deposit in their favourite sleep spots.

Then I also couldn't resist a bit of spooky digital fun. I was actually going to save this for a forthcoming Halloween project, but have a sneak preview.

Watch out Mr Spider... or I'll set my pumpkins on ya!

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Myth and Magic

I spent an hour today with foolish knights, devious and sensual seductresses, bewitching mermaids and tragic heroines. I was swept into a rapture of brilliant hues and textures, brush strokes, passion and colourful emotionalism.

I visited the J. W. Waterhouse - modern Pre-Raphaelite exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts. I stood in front of priceless treasures completely enraptured and bowled over by what one man, a paintbrush and a few tubes of paint managed to convey.

With my nose just a mere inch away from the canvas I soaked up the inspiration flowing down the river with the Lady of Shallot; shining scales of mermaids sent glimmers of ideas into my heart, captivated as I was by her sweet song and light brush strokes; and magic floated from castles and battlements, hanging in the air like fairy dust.

I fear I cannot do justice what it felt like to be among such paintings. Similarly, the colours in reproductions do little to capture the iridescence of the real thing. I have become fascinated by the Pre-Raphaelite style as of late - the beauty of nature is such an inspiration.
I created this piece last weekend which I've called 'Back to Nature'. It doesn't really sit too comfortably alongside the masters but allows me at least a very tiny moment of solidarity with the Victorian rebels. How I wish I had studied the History of Art at University. I was so close to choosing that path. My mind is full of questions and craves deeper understanding. Aside from being stunning works of art, each piece tells a story, many on the theme of man falling bewitched by woman. What secrets and stories lie behind these paintings? My artist date proved somewhat expensive as I purchased a book from which to learn more and soak up inspiration.


Mixed media - collage, acrylic, oil pastel, mica and a dash of inspiration

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Moonstruck


This is the closest I got to writing my fantasy novel this week. She looks a little lost - caught between chapters perhaps; or maybe struggling to find her identity! Why, my frightened elf, thanks to this week's Three Muses' challenge, at least we now have a name for you.

Moonstruck

What magical delights this word conjures!

And how appropriate a name for one whose skin shines with moonbeams. Moonstruck is a creature of the forest with eyes the colour of soft moss and hair downy as the feather blanket she sleeps upon. She carries the troubles of centuries upon shoulders equally weighed with responsibility and now, suddenly, she must deal with..... Ahhhh not so fast.... wait and see.... buy the book!

Bit of a mixed bag with media. I didn't have time to paint her a proper background so cheated a little and used some fantasy background paper - with an added moon and moonglow in photoshop. Moonstruck just wandered in from my sketchbook (or did she perhaps fly in by unicorn - one can never tell with these fantasy elves - a law unto themselves!). Her basic facial features began life as a photo from a magazine, then she was painted over with a ghostly pallor. She doesn't see the sun much, living as she does in the depths of a legendary forest. How will she cope when.... oops, she's at it again - giving away plot secrets....

***

And finally, just for fun. Last week's Three Muses' challenge was Charlie Chaplin. I never quite got around to this one - I was poorly remember. However, how could I possibly let a little fact like 'he's actually a distant relative' pass by without mention (actually, I've mentioned before, but who's counting?). So, we have Lisa and Charlie - can you tell which is which from the striking family resemblance??!!!! Well... maybe we just share a wacky, slapstick sense of humour! (For the avoidance of doubt - he's the one with the mustache.)

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Licence to Dream

It may have taken me most of the Summer to finally complete but I am pleased to announce the grand unveiling of... The Fantasy Folded Art Dream book.
Having some trouble with the feed - just click on the link below please


(if the feed doesn't work, click here to go to slide.com)

Dreams. Soft and beguiling - full of wondrous places, sensations and joy. Write down your dreams and they will be on the first step to coming true, illustrate your heart's desires and you will see them appear before your eyes.

It's been a summer of discovery for me this year, and also one of getting gloriously messy and sticky. 2009 - the year that creativity made a welcome return. I tackled this latest project with the same gusto as my blogging and painting. But I wanted to do something more than just make it look pretty. It had to mean something too and in the spirit of all my fellow creative lovelies, I created a dream book. Every page had to represent a part of me now or who I want to be. Places to visit; lifestyles I may wish to adopt; beds I'd like to sleep in; youthful figures I'd like to regain; and vistas to quench the thirstiest palette and fill my life with colour and inspiration. There's also an awful lot of cushions... See what I mean about dreams being 'soft'! I've tied the book closed with a pretty ribbon, it somehow adds to the magic!

I don't want to bore you by going through my thoughts on each page but ladies.... check out the cover - is that not your dream walk-in closet? Does any other page reach and grab you?

Enjoy your travels through my dreams...

If you'd like to find out more, take the course run by Patty at River Bend Ranch.


Monday, 7 September 2009

A new dawn

I wrote a list last night. It wasn't a shopping list or a housework list. It was a VERY IMPORTANT list. It was a 'MY FUTURE' list. My creative aspirations and soon to be perspirations. It was the beginning. Expect to see some career changes posted here over the next 12 months and some exciting opportunities opening.

I listened to an interview with Robbie Williams on the radio. He's back from a three year break after a not terribly successful album (at least compared to most of his records). Did he sound nervous, scared, lacking in confidence? Did he 'ekkers like*. The man is bursting with confidence. Success is written all over him (and yes, I can read through the radio - I'm clever like that!). I sat there and thought. "Here is someone who believes in himself". I'm sure he has attacks of the old inner critic like the rest of us but the important thing was that he announced to the world that he was proud of latest work; that it was great; that it would make you feel good. It wasn't big headed, it was just fact. Belief.

What does that do to someone listening to him talk? Well, I'll tell you. How can they hear a critic that he has so effectively silenced? They can't. They are carried along with his enthusiasm and believe too and then, they go out and buy his records. I, for one, can't wait.

I will be following this principle. I will BELIEVE in myself. I will let go of fear and then trample all over it. Now is my time and I am going to take it!

Finally, we get to the original point of this post. I found another arty blog challenge. Mixed Media Monday - what a pleasant start to the week. I was invited to develop a piece that evokes a particular time of day.

Well, after last night's list making, it had to be a new dawn.

I used to drive to work early down a dreary motorway and certain times of the year the sun would rise as I joined the commuter line of traffic. There's one spot where the road lies above the fields and the mist would hang like a magical see-through counterpane keeping the river warm. I wanted to recreate some of that mystical quality and also the remnants of dreams as you wake and rub the sleep from your eyes to take on the new day.

Acrylics, collage (old book and tissue paper), silk paint and oil pastel.

* I appreciate that many of my readers may wonder what kind of crazy spelling this is - it is in fact colloquial Yorkshire meaning 'as if'. Apologies to any Yorkshire folk as I've probably quoted it wrong - me being a Southern softie and all that...

Sunday, 6 September 2009

A time-travelling artist's date

I do like a spot of time travel in my lunch break. And what better way to remove oneself from the tedium of modern transmission than a stroll through the centuries.


Following the winding cobbles down this street, the years peel back as you pass every quaint house and the noise of traffic thundering through Warwick fades. In fact, if you listen not terribly carefully you can actual capture the sound of a jousting contest floating to you from the other side of the river (and that's not actually a flight of fancy, I really could hear one!).

Coming from here... the view at the bottom of the road.

For the uninitiated, an 'Artist Date' is an hour or so a week where you take yourself off to soak up creative inspiration; to 'fill the well'. It's all part of a 'creative finding of yourself course' I'm taking through Julia Cameron's book. Regrettably, I'm a little over-committed at the moment - there's only so much of myself I can handle finding at one go - so I have stuck on Chapter 1 but with a definite ambition to move further once a few of my other creative projects have taken flight. I will however, endeavour to keep up my weekly date. This was actually last week, it's just taken me a while to post. This week was spent in HobbyCraft and cost me a King's ransom. No photos there but hopefully some creative output!

And so, where did this first date take me? Did we wander romantic battlements or lurk in haunted dungeons. Actually none of these, for the castle was merely decorative backdrop to a wander around a quintessential English country garden in a setting of such beauty as to send any pre-Raphaelite painter into a frenzy of oil and canvas.


Imagine what trysts and assignations were carried out in the shadow of this bridge. Did you ever see anything quite so romantic? And how kind of that swan to just glide by at the precise moment I chose to click my shutter. Then, dear readers, if you've not swooned enough over ruined bridges, how about diving in, all guns blazing into this riot of colour!


... all the more dramatic when you spend a patient time in Photoshop



I feel quite wistful composing this posting. Tomorrow I return to work after an absence of a week nursing a minor illness. I feel the garden calling me again. I want to envelop myself in the soft scents and drink in the magical elixir of colour and then stand, bankside and dream of ghostly knights in shining armour galloping over long-gone bridges fresh from slaying evil demons and back to claim the fair lady's hand. This lady of course would have been busy in his heroic absence saving the castle from the torment and starvation of a lengthy siege. By her wit alone, was she able to defeat.... Yeah, yeah, another time perhaps.....

And was the date with my creative muse a success? Is my well over-brimming? Well, actually YES, IT WORKED! Tune in later this week to see the output of what happened when I immersed myself in a magic garden and mixed it with an ear infection!

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Season of mist


Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Spider webs are carefully spun;
Laden with conkers and acorns we bless
With fruit the vines that provide such fun;
To crunch the fall among the golden trees
And fill the heart with pleasure to the core;
To carry pumpkin, rich with earthy smell
becoming sweet soup; we all desire more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees
Until they think warm days will never cease
For Summer's songs will always tell

Lisa Wright (with a little quite a bit of help from a certain Mr John Keats)

This morning was beautifully autumnal. I admit no mist, but that special crispness in the air alight with sparkling colour and charm. It was wonderful to be out soaking it all in, feet sniffing through the leaves looking for conkers, wiping the sticky webs out of your face and dusting the very same web-makers from your hair. I felt most lyrical upon my return, so poor Mr Keats was subjected to a little 'tampering'. He's probably turning in his grave poor fellow.

I've realised that early Autumn really is a special time of year that is too soon forgotten. Today reminded me of how September hangs onto Summer's beauty - rich and ripe before October's damp and the icy claws of November reach out and drag away all the colour and warmth. I so love the crunch of dried leaves underfoot and watching them swirl down around me dancing in the muted light. If you're not familiar with the (unmessed with) version of Keats' Ode to Autumn, you should google it. A stunningly evocative piece of poetry.

I feel the need to paint acorns now and partake a little of the fruit of the vine... (though reading this, you'd be forgiven for thinking I'd already enjoyed a little Bacchus nectar!

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Of airy tongues...



Of calling shapes, and beck'ning shadows dire,
And airy tongues that syllable men's names.
John Milton


Yesterday's post proclaimed loudly that I still feel Summer's gentle touch, yet today I am thinking Halloween...

Well, I blame my friends across the pond where clearly this celebration is a much bigger deal than here in the UK, when if we want to get scared, we just look at our politicians! I'm amazed yet also intrigued to see Halloween countdowns abounding on blogs and a whole host of parties to join. Naturally, never being one to turn down an invitation, I am getting my pointy hat ready for one such fanciful twisting of a do.

Today's ghoulish thoughts come courtesy of Theme Thursday and their apple bobbing, pumpkin carving, things-that-go-bang-in-the-night challenge.

A little ATC triptych to tickle your taste buds ahead of the season of spookiness...

Mixed media: acrylics & collage (click to enlarge)

Mwwaaahhaaaaaaahhhhhhh

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

A schmakerel more mackerel

Well, I started getting all lyrical and decided to rewrite my descriptive prose to go with my Cornish postcard below, but then left it too late to publish before nice folk started commenting. So, might as well make another post. Why not eh? Three in one day is a bit of a first (or, should that be a third? Just get on with it girl...)

It may be September and the mornings already heralding Autumn's chill fingers, but I still feel summer in my heart and bear her honey tones on my skin.

So, I'm sending myself this postcard as a reminder of racing across sandy beaches and tasting the salty tang of sea in nature's fishy harvest.

As the leggy supermodels cry out to be photographed in the season's latest hues, so do the shiny scales of mackerel dare you to attempt to get a grip on their shine in paint. Twice captured - by line and then cast onto canvas and immortalised. A taste of holiday, a feast for the senses.

A mackerel sky

This is cheating a bit. You see, on Sunday I spotted Sunday Postcard art's challenge of fish. So, the old cogs got going and I saw in my mind a Cornish beach postcard with some typical Cornish fish. Then I just didn't get around to painting. Today, Inspiration Avenue invited me to re-visit my summer - which to me meant Cornish beaches and delicious food.
I also had the most incredible urge to paint today. So, a couple of mackerel swam from their acrylic tube hideaways onto the page bursting with Omega 3 and other nutrients! Then they swam onto the beach and were not happy fishes. They looked... well they looked like a fish out of water! Until, staring at the cloud-scudded sky finally the penny dropped. A mackerel sky looked back at me and a mackeral sky it became.

Summer & fish. What an intriguing combination! Just goes to show that inspiration can arrive and slap you round the face like a wet fish when you least expect it!

Feeling strange now. Think it must be these tablets I'm on.... Perhaps I should lie down....

New beginnings...

What do you wish to begin? asks Jamie Ridler as it is indeed Wishcasting Wednesday once more.

Aside from wishing to begin feeling better as my head is still befuddled with dizzyness and feels full of rolling marbles, I know exactly what I wish to begin.
It begins with an 'e...' and ends with... ah what does it end with? The letters are easy but what does the future hold if I head down this path? For tis a most risky track to take where the fierce monsters all strangely known as 'bill' lurk hidden in packs in my enchanted forest. Yet the treasures that lie along the way seem to warrant such a perilous trek.
The next careful steps take us to the letters '..ntre...'. Sounds suspiciously like enter to me - is it beckoning me in do you think?

Have you guessed what it is yet. Shall we add the final 'preneur' to make the wish real. Yes, readers I want to be my own boss, a dabbler in a portfolio of projects from writing to soap-making from internal communications consultant to artist, teacher to troubadour (well maybe not the last one, but it sounded good!). I wish to create and above all I wish to create this new story in the life of Lisa because I think it will be good for her and she for it. Time to stop sitting around writing about it and actually get on and do...
(I used this photo a week or so ago, but it seems quite appropriate for this post - enticing colours for your first steps on the magical stairway to tomorrow...)

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

I'm so dizzy...

My head is spinning; like a whirlpool it never ends... la la la

Well, yes my diagnosis of yesterday was in fact correct. I do have an ear infection which in itself is not too debilitating. It's the side effect of feeling ten-sheets to the wind all the time that is causing the problem. I just walked into both edges of a doorway while trying to exit the kitchen. My head feels like it has gained 20 pounds in weight and memories of a mis-spent youth drinking too much cheap wine are spinning and gurgling back to the surface.

And curses, despite being signed off work and having a table full of art supplies calling to me, my head hurts too much to create. My memory has become a sieve and I keep having to retire to a darkened room.

It's all too much... Fetch me the smelling salts for I fear another attack of the vapours is upon me...
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