Friday, 29 April 2011

A right Royal do

Ah it was such a lovely day to be British... We do know how to put on proper show, bring out the ceremony and throw a great party!

I can't admit to being an ardent Royalist, although I rather like that we have them to smash champagne on launching ships and put their faces on stamps. However, I have been shocked at myself for the fever pitch of excitement that I built up for this wedding today.

I was glued to the TV all day and, in the presence of the comforting Welsh tones of Huw Edwards, took my part in the spectacle that is the British Royal Wedding.

Westminster Abbey has never looked so glorious packed full of the great and good (and the "Who is that? They look familiar"). Real Royalty, football and entertainment royalty and dignitaries from across the globe seated themselves near to Kate's 'common' family and bottoms around the world plonked on sofas to join in. My son was convinced he spotted Spiderman in the congregation, but I wasn't so convinced...

It's hard to pick a high point. Would it be first sight of the beauty of the Sarah Burton dress? The balcony kisses in front of thousands of flag-waving fans? The "I will" moments?

For me, it was the happy couple riding in horse drawn carriage flanked by the household cavalry and cheered on by crowds of well wishers. It was just so 'British'. It was a patriotic moment.

My son had a street party at school yesterday. He had to decorate a paper plate for display. This is not that plate. We forgot to photograph that one, so I made him make another last night (he was not impressed!). You see, I had it all planned that I would share it with Blogland for the Inspiration Avenue Royal Wedding Challenge. It seemed a bright idea when I set the challenge this week. It's not quite Wedgewood but it's all our own work. However, we were a little disappointed to see the Prince in red after we'd drawn him in RAF blue!

Before I go, and if you're feeling all duey-eyed and romantic after the day's proceedings, you might like to read this - To Marry a Prince by Sophie Page. Bella (another commoner), meets and falls in love with the Prince of Wales - (not Charles, a fictional and much younger one, and let's face it I don't think the country would quite hold with him having wife Number 3!). The adoring feelings are mutual and there follows the inevitable conflicts between young couples the world over as well as those peculiar to those where one of the partnership just happens to be heir to the throne.

I won't spoil the read, although I did feel that the title and front page image did give the game away somewhat... But, as they say, it's all about the journey...

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Just playing


Sometimes you've just got to embrace the toddler in you and just play. Watch the textures building up, look for the hidden image and let that secret place you build pull you in for adventure.


One girl's mess is another girl's Jackson Pollock after all...


And when one is invited to a party with a whole heap of other artists, then frankly darling what more could you expect?

Floribunda detail

I want to dive into that texture, lick it and stroke it. Am I deranged? Probably! But hey, I'm an artist... we're allowed to be a bit strange - it's part of the job description.

Happy thoughts

I'm off now to go drape myself in scarves and jangly jewellery so I jingle when I jig!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Dirty laundry

April watched the sheets dancing in the warm Spring breezes and smiled as she realised what pleasure such a mundane task as washing became on a day like this. In a moment she would step outside, most likely barefoot so she could feel the fresh grass under her feet and gather in the laundry that smelt like the breezes which had dried it. In a moment she would think about making love with her husband under those fragrant sheets. In a moment her whole life would be turning upside down.

For when April collected the duvet she felt something small and bundled in a corner. Reaching in to pull out the expected stray sock, she removed instead frilly underwear. It was black and delicately patterned with fleur-de-lis. Funny how you noticed such things she thought, as shock fought its way to forefront of mind pushing out aesthetic appreciation. For April did not own frilly black underwear with a fleur-de-lis pattern...

Later as they glared at each other over the dinner table - the underwear of guilt between them - she waited for an explanation.Waited for the dagger of deceit and betrayal to strike in her heart.

"Whose are they?" she asked again, her voice too made of cold steel. "Heather?" she questioned. "She never stops flirting with you... Or Isabel?" Sly sneaky Isabel who coveted everything her elder sister held dear.

The silence continued as Bradley sat forlornly head in hands. Finally he raised his eyes to hers and spoke.

"Not Heather's. Not Isabel's" he stated, humiliation written across his features...



A short story in response to a creative prompt by another writing Wright! Kat Wright's Ticc Tock - where this week we wrote about something unexpected on the washing line.

Erm... a post about woods, chocolate and frog Princes.... (amongst other things)

Springtime in the forest and the magic begins to unfurl. Whispers of spirits mix with the rustle of hidden creatures and beings that we sense but never see.

I've been communing with nature - here in the UK we have been blessed with endless days of not just warm, but HOT sunshine (like July temperatures), so I've been outdoors cycling, walking and adventuring through the forests near my home.

I was hoping for a glimpse of the Green Man or at the very least evidence of elf or sprite but I fear that the noise my young companion made alongside me may have sent them cowering for terror (he doesn't really come with a volume control!).

I've been working on this post for three days... which is most unlike me. My words have got stuck in a chocolate sludge... speaking of which...

Ah... that's better - cocoa on my taste buds... mmmmmm..... must visit shops for sale of Easter surplus...

Eh? What? Where was I?

Yes, deep in the woods. So anyway, there we were... the boy and I when suddenly we came upon this...

A cottage hidden right inside the forest, down an long private track - I had to check that we hadn't inadvertantly wandered into a fairy tale for it seemed most likely. Was this the house of Cinderella perhaps? If you pan back, you'd find a babbling brook breached by a rickety wooden bridge and a pond beside which a frog croaks. I would have kissed it, but some young slip of a gal called Kate got there first...

Gosh, darn it....

(I'm quite looking forward to the Royal Wedding. I'm not particularly Royalist, but I do love a good old British Occasion! We do know how to put on a show...).

Oh yes... And I really want to link to this post because this is just EXACTLY what I was trying to write about when I started this post, and before I travelled in a parallel universe via a galaxy far, far away...

Photos by me, taken in the woods while the elves looked on...

Thursday, 21 April 2011


This painting has been through quite an evolution over the years and I finally think I'm happy with her!

She began life nearly two years ago with one of my first attempts at a female portrait on, as we shall see, a very forgiving canvas board! See fig 1 below.

She's not really very good is she? But I did love the grungy background I created.

Then, thankfully, I took some lessons (thank you Suzi Blu)...

After she'd spent some time gathering dust or being squished at the bottom of the pile, I decided that I her days were numbered. The poor lass with her autumnal scenery disappeared until a pattern of papers and paints, only to be reborn... (see fig 2).

In the pink! BUT, still not quite there... though I liked her at the moment of creation. But, like a small child with a bladder full of juice... she just had to go!

More layers later and I picked out in paint some pattern that remained in the form of swirls and floral embellishments. She was growing and becoming who she wanted to be and I'm very happy with her now. This feels just right. Have I finally found my style do you think or am I going to be painting over her again in a few months? I'm sharing her with the Paint Party Friday gang - so what do you think?

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Charity auction

Inspiration Avenue

How would you like to be the owner of a beautiful piece of original artwork and contribute to an incredibly worthwhile charity at the same time?

Over at Inspiration Avenue we are holding our second Charity Art Auction in aid of Angel Faces.

We have a special place in our hearts for the amazing work that is done at Angel Faces to help adolescent girls who have been burnt in disfiguring accidents.

Last year we raised over US$500 through the generous contributions of visitors to our auction from across the globe, and this year we hope to top that amount.

To find out more,  please visit the Angel Faces website. You will be touched by the overwhelming struggle these girls face daily and the strength they need to deal with it.

The auction begins on the Inspiration Avenue blog on 1st May and ends on 7th May. I'll post another link then - worry not!

We hope you'll return on May 1 to look over the items up for bid and find something you can't live without!

If you would like to help us out, we'd be thrilled if you would spread the word and post the auction button on your blog.

Here's the code for the button

Inspiration Avenue

(Feel free to copy the flyer at the top of this post as well)

Monday, 18 April 2011

The Mojo it returneth

The cough it is banishedeth

The dark circles are begone

The paint it floweth

The creativity aboundeth

It is indeed a good day.

Can't stop creating. Have a bounce in my step and for the second night in a row I am nowhere near ready for bed at 10pm. In fact, I am dancing around the kitchen...

I'm wired for sound. I'm lost in music. Angels make me feel... I'm back for good...

I have to go and dance now... I bought the new Duran Duran album - All you need is now. It's so 1983... I feel the need for shoulder pads. Duran Duran + Mark Ronson = Pure Magic. It seems my mojo had taken a time travelling vacation. Now, I've found her again sporting a dodgy haircut and hanging out with heterosexual men wearing make up, we are partying like it's... 19...

PS - Yes, I have been drinking (first drop in over two months)... but frankly didn't really need it. Just feel TOP! I love music.

PPS - Yeah, that's me dancing round the kitchen in that picture! Well, kind of! Mixed media on cardboard - lots of layers (just like me and Shrek) and some image transfering.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Finding Arcadia again

I've been crying over music...

I can't have listened to this album for nearly 20 years, yet it seems like yesterday. I feel almost embarrassed to admit it brought a tear to my eye - a mixture of the haunting and exotic creativity of the piece and the emotions of a teenage me brought back to the surface.

As each track began the memories stirred. It's hard to explain. A mixture of long-forgotten words and puberty's angst. Hours spent living in a dream world ... Those were the days when we had hours to dream...

For those not obsessed by everything Duran Duran circa 1985, perhaps I should explain that Arcadia were a one-album offshoot from the band and, despite missing my 'darling' John Taylor, produced the kind of music that makes me cry. I know, what can I say? I'm artistic and prone to being irrationally emotional.

When I was 14, I was convinced I would one day become Mrs Taylor. Clearly I never did, or perhaps this blog might be called 'Tayles' or 'Hey look at me, I bagged a pop star'. I did marry someone who shared the same birthday, but that didn't turn out too well, so I'm guessing some things were just not meant to be!

It's strange, but I have no idea what prompted me to type 'So Red the Rose' into the iTunes store. Maybe it was the bizarre dream a few days ago when myself, Take That and Duran Duran chewed the fat in the sunshine in Brighton. Perhaps it's just because they are getting quite a bit of airplay lately with a new single (yes, still going strong into their 50s... there's hope for us all yet!). I've dreamt about them again since... twice in a week... my 14-year-old self would have been beside herself! This time I helped Nick Rhodes write the lyrics to their new song (separated well away from the musical instruments of which I am not adept!).

I still own the vinyl album with its stunning artwork, but sadly have nothing to play it on. Lucky for Messrs Le Bon & Co's bank accounts that I bought it again digitally - likewise much of the Duran Duran back catalogue. The vampish gypsy Queen was great inspiration to a teenage artist too. How we miss album art in these digital days...

Whatever the reason that prompted the re-purchase; I've been back in dreamland, back in Arcadia and on Sri Lankan beaches, riding yachts dashing through shining seas and driving in chauffeur-driven silver-blue cars through rainstorms.

My personal playlist 'Flim Flam & Judy' - dreamiest songs

Ordinary World
The Chauffeur
Skin Trade
Save a Prayer
Hold back the Rain
Lonely in your Nightmare
The Promise
El Diablo
Election Day
All you need is now
Point of No Return
Still Breathing

Saturday, 16 April 2011


Pure and simple

Nature at her finest

Life's greatest journey

What more can I say? This was going to be a Klimt-inspired painting for the Inspiration Avenue 'Mother' challenge, but I loved this simple sketch so much I left it as is. Makes it a good Sunday Sketch too!

Friday, 15 April 2011

I wanna paint....

I need some time. Anyone got any they're not using?

Take this afternoon, I had a free moment when I could have got out colours, but what happened? I fell asleep, that's what! Honestly, I turn 41 then start needing an afternoon nap!

Yesterday saw me out in the fresh air all day with a team of young things doing some conservation work. I was the oldest one there. One young gal (a mere slip of a 20-year-old) kindly pointed out that I was old enough to be her mother (sob...). I had to go out today and buy a really trendy handbag just to make myself feel better and younger... and while I was at it, somehow a cool scarf and necklace were given over to the assistant too... and then some trendy sunglasses.

I painted this flower last week for my Mum on Mother's Day and seeing as I had nothing to wear to the Paint Party Friday (again), and many of you had expressed a desire to see this picture, I thought I would present it to you this week (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!). Special thanks to Mum and little Sis for kindly scanning in it for me, when I'm sure she they much better things to be doing with their time!

A palette-knife-painted flower on a brayered and textured background with a bit of stamping.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Wishing to read

What do you wish to read? Asks Jamie Ridler of the Wishcasting crew.

I wish to read the email offering my partner his dream job (after the interview he had this week) and us both the new opportunities that it might bring.

Fingers crossed sweetheart...

I've been visually and asking the universe (very nicely).

Perhaps some global wishing alongside us may be just what we need to blow the luck this way!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The three strange keys

Once upon a time in the imagination of Enid Blyton lived a Princess held captive by a wicked witch in a tower. The story went that she could only be set free by three strange keys...

A Key to give the witch a fright
A Key to scale the wall
A Key to carry a burden light
Right over the palace wall

The keys turned out in fact to be a red turKEY and brown monKEY and a grey donKEY.

I loved this story and over the years have read it countless times. It was in an old collection of short stories that belonged to my Mum when she was a little girl, and now I read them to my son.

When the Three Muses shared their creative challenge for the week as any type of key... well, naturally one of these three strange keys sprang immediately to mind - I like to think outside the box!

~So, I settled down with a box of pencils and pulled up some pictures of fine red turkeys. I looked at quite a few. The thing with turkeys is that... well, actually they are not at all bootiful. In fact, they are rather ugly what with their wobbling wattle thing and beady eyes. They all seemed to be giving them the evils for eating them on festive occasions and I started to feel most guilty and considering vegetarianism.

No turkey was clearly going to either drawn or eaten in this house last night. I turned instead to the next hero of the tale - the monkey. Staring at this cheeky face for a couple of hours was really no hardship. He's just too cute! I loved drawing him too - watching him take shape on the page; his eyes peering up at me looking all interested in what I was doing.

Thank you my little mon-key. You did a grand job.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

A wird of Dahl and a skitch of Blake

We've been romping through the imagination of a mighty talented writer these past few weeks. My son has been studying the works of Roald Dahl at school. We wrote a story together called the Magic Sketchbook (wonder where he got that idea from!).
We're working our way through Dahl's back catalogue. Just recently we got scared by fire breathing monsters in the Minpins (which were so hideously frightening that they had to be constantly hidden in plumes of smoke), ran from ENORMOUS crocodiles (and celebrated when they catapulted into space), dug tunnels with fantastic foxes and wagged magic fingers at people with guns causing them to turn into ducks. It's been a romp!

When I had to think up a subject for my turn to host the Inspiration Avenue challenge, I consulted my imagination and it really had only one answer! The world of Mr Dahl of course.

It being another week from hell in terms of workload, I didn't have time to write and illustrate an entire children's novel... which was a shame... So instead, I thought I would try my hand at the work of Dahl's illustrator - Quentin Blake. They are surely a partnership as close as salt and pepper. I, for one, can't imagine one of his books not illustrated in Blake's trademark scribbly and spontaneous style.

It's a style a lot harder than it looks to emulate. It's a shame I didn't have time to do more, but here's a few sketches of people, a peacock and a palm tree. Somehow Blake manages to make them look child-like yet professionally illustrated; whereas mine just look like my son drew them! Oh well!

Now I just need to tie all three up into a story. I'm thinking of calling it the Peacock Tale...

I think this makes a fine case for going in Sunday Sketches too... Perhaps I should tell everyone my son drew them???

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Abstraction distraction

I painted a richly hued flower for my Mum last weekend (for Mother's Day) and I was all set to show it to you for Paint Party Friday.

Now, the more observant among you will be looking at these geometric drips and failing to see a connection. Well, I can hardly blame you, for try as I might I can't see the fragrant petals and verdant foliage that made up my floral piece either.

It appears that silly Lisa forgot to scan it before she presented it with love to her Mother. Oh no. How will I go to the party now for I have no 'creation' to wear/share??

"Fear not" cried my Fairy Godmother (in a somewhat exasperated tone, and frankly I don't blame her). "You have piles of art cluttering up the entire house, allow me to wave my wand and you can 'wear' one of those instead."

Et voila! (Bet you didn't know my Fairy Godmother was French did you? I didn't either until just now). I am now swirling in what I'm calling 'raindrops on window'. Given that the sun hasn't stopped shining for two days, it hardly matches the weather, but hey, needs must.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

So close

"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever." Jacques Cousteau

I live about as far from the sea as you can get in the UK. Admittedly, in the grand scheme of things it's actually not that far. A couple of hours drive should see me there, but it's still rather an effort. When the sun shines of course, that couple of hours drive gets doubled as everyone with a pair of sandles and knotted hanky to their name heads for the coast ready for a day of sand blasting and seagulls nicking your chips.

Yesterday took me coast bound for work. I was about as close as you can get without getting sand in my sandwiches but never got a glimpse. Too busy readers. I was up to my eyeballs in brocolli and cauliflower - I bet your mind is boggling.

After a day of meetings, examining seedlings in fields and understanding packing processes I was homeward bound. The brilliant blue sky of morning had been replaced by mizzling rain and time was racing. There wasn't a moment to spare to gaze at seascapes and even the pull of a sign post enticingly reading 'Sea's End' wasn't enough to keep me from my homebound journey.

I miss the sea though. I'm rather fond of our British coastline with its rock pools, shingle banks and sandy dunes. Put me on a beach and I just want to run - not necessarily into the sea, this being the UK and all that... But I love charging about in the sea breezes and letting go, crinkling my toes in the sand and crashing through pebbles.

A trip to the seaside is never complete without returning with a pocketful of pretty shells and interesting pebbles. My son has inherited this little habit of mine. Between us we'll have collected enough for a whole beach in the back garden soon.

Do other countries enjoy the coastal fashion that is the knotted hanky I wonder? I very much doubt that the French or Italians would ever be seen dead in such an item. I can almost feel their shudder of distaste from here.

So, Monday was the day that I nearly got to see the sea. Still, not too long before I'll be dipping my toes in the Aegean... Ah bliss....

Here's a seascape I painted a year or so ago. I actually sold this one! Think I'll take the paints to Greece with me this year.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

A duet of adorable cute

It is with great honour that I share with you that today I shall become Godmother to my twin nieces. I am already Godmother to their sister. What a lucky lady I am.

They celebrate their first birthday this week too. A duet of adorable cute keeping their parents dancing. You can't look at them but shower them with hugs and kisses.

I would also like to share that this picture up top is at last the finished piece I have been working on for too long. I had despaired of ever having the perfect gift and, if you saw Friday's contribution to Paint Party Friday you will have learned the fate of versions I and II of this piece... It became an eye... That canvas just did not want to be a fairy, I am telling you. What can I say? I am weird!

There I was lying in bed this morning trying to convince myself of good reasons not to get up when I spotted the soothing portrait of Madonna and child that I have by Flor Larios. At last it came to me how my piece should look. I attribute this to Flor's wonderful style - you should pop by her websites and take a look if you are not familiar with her work.

Sharing this piece and the rather special one below for my nieces, Sunday Sketches and the perfectly appropriate Illustration Friday theme of Duet.

Let me present to you now Len and Sid. Firm childhood favourites, this little pair of scamps reside in the Blackberry Farm series of stories. My son and I thought a picture of them would be most appropriate for the other twins in our lives, and given the mischief they are apt to get up to, well we couldn't very well pass up the opportunity to turn them into a card now could we? I admit he had a little help... I sketched the outline and then, as it was for a very special occasion, let him loose with my Inktense pencils to colour in. We turned the pencil to paint together (I did the small bits!). He was over the moon when I said I would share his work of art on my blog!

Saturday, 2 April 2011


Yeah, so I'm really naughty. As far as I know, Kate Middleton does not follow my blog. I have not been invited to the Royal Wedding as a conseqence of my inane ramblings... and nor has Elvis!

What can I say? I love April Fool's Day! A good prank needs to be topical and strangely believable, but also hold a few clues as to its mischief and I always like to get more and more ridiculous towards the end of the story which catches out those who skim read! Elvis sitting next to Amy Winehouse at the wedding? Surely not!

Inserting an anagram of April Fool helps too. Floral Poi is not really a type of tea leaf favoured by royalty... although it does sound rather refreshing - possibly a blend of Jasmine and green leaves, rich in anti-oxidants blended by ladies wearing flowers in their hair.

I doubt too that Jeeves the supercilious footman personally delivers each invite - especially not to commoners like myself! And anyway, I doubt I would have invited him in, he probably had smelly feet.

And so, I apologise to those I caught out on April Fool's Day with my Royal Wedding invite - blame the internet, PhotoShop and Google image search for making it so easy! You have a whole year to think up one to get me back!

Friday, 1 April 2011

Who am eye?

Eye am creative, innovative, dreamy, full of cold (yes, still) and chock-a-block with mischief (see last post).

Eye love to watch words spread themselves out in front of me creating story. Eye look for the hidden angle, the shy wallflower in the shadows that needs to tell its tale.

Eye like to step where angels fear to tread - though often find myself looking down from scary heights and wondering how on earth I got there and might get my feet back on the ground again...

Eye have a vivid imagination which gets exercised in my dreams... Who would have imagined that there was an extra room in my house I had forgotten all about that I could use as an art studio - once I'd removed Duran Duran from using it as rehearsal space?

Eye use my creativity at work but not enough. Eye need to focus more on how I might achieve this. Eye think I might like to teach on the subject.

Eye have to go now and cook dinner...

A self portrait for Inspiration Avenue's challenge (of sorts - well it matched my old Avatar anyway, and has now become my new - thanks Heather for the idea!) and something for the party goers at PPF.

Regular visitors might be interested in the story of this painting. Just a few days ago it had a fairy and twin girls on it.... Then it just had a fairy... and then? Well, eye just don't what happened?

Canvas with more layers of paint than an onion. Eye mainly created using palette knife - reflective of my mood.

Something rather special

You cannot imagine how much I have wanted to share this news with you my readers but I have been under strict instruction from the powers that be to keep schtumm until a certain day. Well, my loves that day has arrived and at last I can tell you the rather wonderful news that has befallen me courtesy of one of my avid readers.

Yes, it appears that none other than a certain Kate Middleton has been hanging on my every written word for the past two years and could not allow her nuptuals to pass by without grabbing the chance to meet yours truly.

With access to the sneaky bods at MI5 it was clearly no problem for her to seek out my true identity - though she didn't bother with such subterfuge and just dropped me an email asking for my address. Shortly thereafter a gold-edged envelope was personally delivered by an elaborately dressed footman called, somewhat appropriately, Jeeves. I invited him for tea while I penned my response but he turned his nose up at my run-of-the-mill teabags and instead brought out a flask of the royal blend of Floral Poi - the Queen's favourite apparently.

So, clearly I will be busy on 29th April. I'll be seated on the bride's side of the cathedral if you want to catch sight of me on the telly - five rows back from Amy Winehouse and Elvis - hope I can see over the top of her beehive!

Now, there remains the ultimate challenge.... What to wear?
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