Wednesday, 8 October 2014

The end of another Magical Journal Journey


I can't believe that we've reached the end of our third year of journal swapping. Me and my little tribe of artist friends have been creating our books, devising our themes and passing them round the globe.

This year's theme was Inspired by Artists. We chose such a wide selection from old Masters like Matisse (my choice) to modern surrealist artists like Duy Huynh - Tammy's choice, whose journal I have just sent flying back across the ocean.

Huynh paints surreal portraits and landscapes often inspired by stories. So that's exactly where I took my creative thinking. I've been reading a series of books by Laini Taylor - Daughter of Smoke and Bone: Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy. The main characters are a girl with blue hair and a chimera - half woman, half deer. Sounded pretty perfect to me and the best thing was I got to create them exactly how they appeared in my imagination.

Madrigal came first - in a scene in the book, her lover magically 'weaves' a cloak of hummingbird moths to cover her shoulders when her dress is ripped. Then Karou's streams of blue hair came cascading from my paintbrush!

The second set of pages feature a little paper doll performing acrobatics at the circus - in day and at night. She unclips and moves from scene to scene!

 Finally, we collaborated on the back cover of the journal - I am not sure where the cat and the fiddle came from to be honest. One minute it was a half-finished canvas and then suddenly a moggie was playing a merry jig! I added a few clouds too just for the hell of it (and to distract from the contorted paw holding the neck of the violin... maybe I shouldn't have mentioned that!)

Sunday, 5 October 2014


Life is not a rehearsal. How many times have I heard that? Of course it’s still a true story and, as I romp through my 44th year, it has become an ever-louder nagging voice increasingly making its message known from the back of my subconscious.

My half-formed characters are screaming at me from the scrappy drafts that languish in the pits of my hard drive. If I don’t do something with them soon, they will be packing up their meagre possessions, escaping their stifled dungeon and setting off an adventure of their own choosing. Their fate was in my hands but there are many other writers’ imaginations out there, perhaps they will find their place through another pen.

Then there’s paint and colour and pattern and paper... Every time I pick up a paintbrush or look at a fellow artist’s piece of work, I feel this yearning deep within my soul to place art firmly in my working life. Why have I listened to the voices that would tell me I’m not good enough for so long? Perhaps they are the ones that deserve to be banished to a corrupted computer file.

But all is not lost for this particular biopic. The winds of change are finally wrapping their tendrils into my lethargy and pushing me forward into a new Act. Last month seemed like an awakening in many senses – most of all my intuition. I have focused more attention on my writing, rediscovering the joy of paragraphs that don’t require the corporate spin that pays my wages and the art-related business my friend and I have been slowly planning is almost ready for her debut performance.

I realised that I’ve turned up, learnt the script by heart, practiced and honed and even danced the boards in a series of dress rehearsals. It’s time to take centre stage and have my moment as the leading lady that I know I can become. Watch this space!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

The offensive

 The soldiers silently waited, ready for the signal that would start the offensive.

The mission was one of attack and rescue. It was one they had done before, in fact many times. It should be straightforward. In. Out. Home.

Sarge looked at the motley crew that made up his squadron. They hadn’t lost a man yet and they didn’t intend to tonight. Sure, there were a few battle scars between them, but they were worn like badges of honour – with true pride. His men were made of stern stuff, they trusted each other more than family. It was what kept them alive.

They were hidden in the undergrowth. Corporal Jones was their eyes, his long-range binoculars trained on the enemy position. He reported that two guards patrolled the perimeter, but other than that security seemed lax.

Sarge didn’t like that. He smelt the sweet stench of a trap. He was no fool. They would approach assuming the worst.

Darkness fell and the troop grew restless. At last it was time. One by one each of the soldiers crept forward across the rough terrain. Silent as stars they moved undetected, their camouflage blending them perfectly into their surroundings. Using owl hoots and a series of harmless-sounding chirps they communicated their progress to each other.

Slowly, stealthily they approached their targets.

Meanwhile Jessie, tied up and alone in the dark was trying in vain to escape from the tough old ropes that bound her to the chair. She slumped down feigning exhaustion in the hope that her captors might leave her alone. All afternoon she had held out as they determined to discover her true identity. It would not be long before she broke… She only hoped that help was on its way.

It was.

Right at that moment Sarge and his troop were scaling the sofa. Mrs Potato Head was climbing on Ellie’s back, using her trunk as leverage. Cheeky Monkey swung up the cushions with Sarge hanging onto his tail and Tigger bounced right on up as if he scaled impenetrable fortresses every day!

The guards didn’t stand a chance. Eeyore just lay down and went to sleep and Sammy the snake slithered off down the back of the sofa to hide among the crumbs and pennies.

Billy reached under the old shoe box and grabbed Jessie. At that moment Wendy came into the lounge and, taking one look at her beloved Jessie tied up in a chair, burst into tears…

“Mum” she wailed. Billy’s been kidnapping Jessie again…

Billy sighed and thought that maybe next time he’d use tell-tale Wendy as his kidnap victim. And he’d tell Sarge to take his time over the rescue…

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Fact or Fiction?


I love to draw and paint faces. It’s an act of creation, of bringing a person to life. I rarely paint ‘real’ people though, instead preferring to allow a form of fiction to tell its story through colour and line. Seeing an eye peer at me from the page really does open a window to a soul revealed. I like it when they smirk at me too as if hiding their secrets from the vessel that pulled them from a hidden place and gave them form.

Last week though I took a break from pencils and brushes and my ‘art’ came to me through my fingertips when personalities were created by tapping out their DNA on the keyboard.

When I’m in the fiction flow the characters more often than not create themselves. I sometimes read stuff back and wonder where on earth it came from. These mystical folk seem to tell me who they are and who they are going to be. Their features take shape in my imagination without any help from me. It’s as if they have been waiting in the wings for their cue. They know their lines, their costumes and make up is in place. I just have to give them the signal to step onto the stage.

I love it! It feels great … when it happens … when I let it …

Why then is the dressing room so crowded as the novels I keep starting or dream of writing stay back of mind? Am I scared of failing my characters, of drying up in front of my audience and turning into a gibbering wordless wreck?

Writing these daily prompts are at least helping me to put a spotlight on my stagnation and scare the fear back under the bed where it belongs. I have managed three short stories in the last week. But then, in the last couple of days, stage fright hit again. It is so much easier to write a blog post or a silly poem.

Is ‘fiction’ actually the story I tell myself as to why I can’t get that novel down on paper?

Sunday, 21 September 2014

A Forest Fungi Forage (for Fotos not Food!)

Took my camera and my feet to the woods today. Lots of lovely fungi to photograph. Most of these photos involve lying prostate on the forest floor though. Fortunately the weather has been kind and so I got up covered in dust and dried leaves rather than caked in mud. The things we do for our art... I found all sorts of sticks and seeds stuck to my clothing when I got home!

Fortunately for my boy, he was not with me today or there would have been much embarrassed muttering about hippies...

While 'wandering' I came to 'wonder' at the mentality of some of the dog walkers. Why go to all the bother of collecting your four-legged friends poop in a bag only to then sling it in a tree or leave it by the path? It's a forest - just encourage your pooch to do its business in the undergrowth away from the path if you can't be bothered to carry it away.

A short post today about nothing much. Just an excuse to share a few fungi photos and write a few words!

Friday, 19 September 2014


Billy hated vegetables with a passion. Especially the green ones. Broccoli with its hard stalks and soggy ends, a million varieties of cabbage that all tasted like… well cabbage… Sprouts of course are just miniature versions of the giant green footballs and should be shot like the bullets they are as far away from dinner plates as they can possibly go.

Courgettes always looked promising but turned to the texture of glue once in his mouth. Peas were OK at a push – a push around the plate and surreptitiously off the side.

It was nearly time for Sunday lunch and Billy had made a sneaky foray into the kitchen to check out the contents of the chopping board and various saucepans. It was not looking good. Mum had hurried him out before he’d had chance for a proper look, but there was definitely something green on the counter top and he was sure he caught a whiff of cabbage in the air. He was dreading sitting down at the table.

Up until recently the dog had been his ally, happily snapping up falling bits of vegetation that somehow made their way off the edge of the table. But Pongo was living up to her name and on a strict dry diet because of it. Mum shut her out of the dining room at meal times. She whined and scratched at the door. Billy felt sorry for her, but was truthfully more upset that his only meal-time friend had been banished.

Inevitably the moment came when they were called to their seats. Billy tried to smile and look happy but until he saw what was in those serving dishes his nerves were a wreck. He reached for Sue’s hand hoping for a bit of solidarity but she pulled it away and glared at him. Sue loved vegetables, she was quite strange in that sense.

Dad brought in a joint of beef. It gave off a heat haze scented with merlot and thyme. Billy salivated. He noticed that he was the only one not to have a plate, but then Mum appeared behind him and placed in front of him a smiley face made from carrots, baked beans and sweetcorn with mashed potato for hair.

“There you go son” she winked. Your vegetables, just as you like them.

Sue, Billy’s wife burst out laughing. “You spoil him” she gently admonished her mother-in-law before reaching over to give Billy an affectionate kiss on the cheek.

Billy ignored them, piling his plate with roasties and drowning everything in gravy. A couple of carrots fell under his plate. He hoped nobody noticed…

Thursday, 18 September 2014

The Laundry Basket

When I was a little girl a large woven basket stood in the corner of my parents’ bedroom. It looked like it came from an Arabian souk. I liked to believe it had once been home to a charmed cobra that rested in its depths before curling out to dance in front of ogling onlookers when the lid was removed and the magical music stirred its coils into rhythmic movement.

Stored at the bottom (for reasons I never bothered to ask) was a beautiful peach silk robe embroidered with floral designs. It belonged to my Mum but I never saw her wear it – the long kimono-style sleeves weren’t terribly practical for a housewife. What they did make though was the perfect garb for regal Queens who ruled over magical islands. Matched with a pair of over-sized navy blue high heels (not kept in the laundry basket), the outfit transformed little girls into anything their imaginations desired.

The laundry basket made a great hiding place too, just so long as you could keep your balance and avoid a bruising and giveaway topple to the ground. Eventually we grew too big for such games. The robe got put somewhere else was forgotten about – until a timely prompt about ‘laundry’ dials up a memory!

I phoned my Mum to see if she remembered the robe. She still has it and I discovered my Grandfather had brought it back as a gift for my Grandma from Burma where he fought in the 2nd World War. It was hiding its story in the laundry basket! Mum has it safe, but she still never wears it!

Now I am grown, I own a similar laundry basket to that one from my childhood and, although there are no silken Burmese robes hiding in its depths, it does hold its own stories. Last week it was filled with sarongs and shorts and brightly-blossomed blouses telling a tale of balmy sunshine days and soft sandy beaches – fragments of holiday memories that thankfully won’t wash out!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014


I have a Sat Nav built into my car – it’s fabulous. No more trying to memorize a map, taking wrong turns or setting off 4 hours earlier than strictly necessary.

When it works of course. We’ve all got our stories to share about the navigational nightmares. There’s time I just used the street name instead of the actual postcode and discovered that there was more than one street with the same name in the City of Nottingham – one on a completely different side of the city to the other. I also remember when it somehow thought it was in the US and tried to convince me I was only half an hour outside of San Francisco when instead I’m on an entirely different continent about seven time zones away.

I’ve learnt that it’s always best to double check exactly where you’re going BEFORE you set off and to know a rough set of directions. A recent trip ‘oop north’ offered a couple of alternative routes. Being a canny driver, I knew that going via Birmingham in rush hour through the road works was definitely going to be the poor alternative to driving ‘over the tops’ and taking in some stunning dales scenery. That route promised dry-stone walls, inquisitive sheep peeking through the gaps and the very best of rolling English countryside. There was the risk of getting stuck behind the odd tractor, but it promised a better view than the likely 15 miles of stationary traffic.

My Sat Nav by contrast actually wanted to see Spaghetti Junction, concrete jungles and traffic cones. I ignored her when she summoned me up the M6, then again when she tried to divert me through Rugby and I sensed her extreme annoyance when I continued to dismiss her pleas to come off the M1 at Leicester.

I’m a very law-abiding citizen normally (well, most of the time…). I do what I’m told. My Sat Nav lady just sounded so disappointed in me. I was sure I could sense a touch of exasperation in her directions and recalculations and I actually started to feel guilty! I tried to reason with her to assuage the feelings she was stirring up within me but I was met with a stony silence (I think she was trying to figure out how she could get me lost as suitable punishment).

In the end, I switched her off and followed road signs. They don’t judge…

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

The Neighbours

The neighbours were always banging about at all hours. Trevor despaired at the terrible cacophony that disturbed his sleep yet again. There was a constant barrage of thumping, shouting, rattling, banging, music and mayhem. Was he the only one that liked a bit of peace of quiet around here?

He wished for the umpteenth time that he had never moved into this neighbourhood but he was too old and tired to move again. Instead he resigned himself to another ruined rest and, easing his aching limbs slowly into movement he made his way to the kitchen to grab a bite to eat. There wasn’t much to choose from. There was a fresh pot of peanut butter but he couldn’t get the lid off. He stuck to bread and sipped at the lukewarm cup of tea that Lucy had abandoned before rushing off to school.
The day stretched out in front of him bereft of suitable entertainment. He missed Lucy when she was at school, despite the fact that oftentimes she made more noise than a whole street of neighbours put together.
Speaking of which, perhaps he would pop next door and share his displeasure at this morning’s rude awakening – even if they ignored his noise protests he could at least have a nosey around at what was going on, there wasn’t much else to keep an old boy amused around here.
He let himself out of the back door and took a furtive look over their fence. Half of their kitchen appeared to be missing. A gangly youth in overalls carrying a plank of wood smiled at him and saluted. Trevor glared back rather pleased at the attention but certainly not about to show it. The youth wandered over, clearly in a more sociable mood than Trevor. His goofy smile didn’t shift even when Trevor started to complain in some detail about the importance of sleep patterns for the elderly and how much he disliked the noise of out of tune radios mixed with irregular hammer beats.
The youth reached over and tickled Trevor behind the ears. It immediately shut the old moggy up turning his indignant meows into a soothing purr. Maybe these neighbours weren’t so bad after all… at least until the next time they woke him up!

Monday, 15 September 2014

Upside Down

I'm taking a feral writing course - a bit of running about wild across the keyboard. I've become so stale, my writing joints have stiffened up and I needed the proverbial kick-up-the-backside to get going again.

So, the next three weeks promise 21 responses to prompts written in just 30 minutes.

We start today with a short story.


Billy woke up upside down in bed. His feet had found the comfy spot on the pillow where hundreds of dreams had softened the fibres into the shape of his head. His top half was rather hot under the blankets and there was cat hair getting up his nose. No sign of Lottie though, she was no doubt about her morning business terrorising the neighbourhood dogs and grabbing an early breakfast from her feline victims.

He crawled out onto the floor, his hands landing on the pile of yesterday’s crumpled trousers and sweatshirt. His arms began to sag and his head hit ground level. From this angle he could see right under his bed. Mum said it’s where the dust bunnies lived but he’d never spotted one. Perhaps they were like the monsters and only came out at night. He saw something small and grey by the skirting board though. It was very still, maybe it was one of the mythical creatures or perhaps just his sock. He seemed to remember only having one on for most of yesterday. Billy wasn't really a sock person.

It was quite good fun looking at his room from upside down. He span around a little, keeping his balance by hooking a toe on the open drawer where Mum kept his t-shirts. She was always telling him off for never pushing it closed, but he was glad he hadn’t listened to her now. Under the window Billy spied a floating island of cars. Each bright vehicle was fitted with suction tyres that kept the wheels on the ramps and made satisfying squelchy noises when they moved around. It was a very jerky way of moving and not very fast but the drivers enjoyed it. Billy wanted a go, but first he had to get his head off the ceiling. It was stuck and the dust bunny sock was starting to crawl towards him. Friend or foe? Billy wasn’t sure he wanted to find out.

He needed help. Fortunately Rainbow Bear was also glued to this strange woolly ceiling and within easy reach. Rainbow Bear whispered in Billy’s ear. His fur tickled in a nice way. Rainbow Bear was very wise. Billy drew in a deep breath – which wasn’t easy when you were upside down – and called for Mum.

Billy and Rainbow Bear watched as the feet came towards them. They were wrapped in pink fluff. A voice from above asked them what they were doing.

“We’re being upside down” Billy patiently explained. Sometimes he wondered if Mums really did know everything…. “My head is glued to the ceiling and I can’t get it off. I want to play with the floating island”.

Mum turned and twisted her head a bit looking. She put one leg on the bed and bent over. She balanced a hand on Rainbow Bear (he squealed a bit but didn’t complain – he’s brave like that). Finally she put both legs on the bed, stuck a toe in my underwear drawer (which was handily half open) and her plonked her head next to mine.

“I see it” she laughed!

“There’s just one problem though” she added. We both looked at each other. “My head’s stuck to the ceiling now too!”

Monday, 9 June 2014

Dream state

I love those magic bedtime moments where you hover with one thought on the logical (I must get my car booked in for its MOT) and the dream (a metal stag chases you through a bluebell wood whilst singing My Way). At this point you either pull yourself back into wakefulness or slip into the Land of Nod.

Just saying...

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Busy as a bee

Hello, hello! What do we have here? I can smell something seriously sweet and delicious but where the wasp is it? Are these actually flowers cause they look a bit like dragons...

Aha! I have located the source of that scent, it sure is intoxicating. The only problem is though, that to get at it appears to involve me opening up and then climbing inside the mouth of this dragon. Probably not wise, but seriously you should smell this stuff. I'm intoxicated!

That's it! I'm in. It's a bit dark in here. Anyone got a light? Eek, the mouth is closing... Help!
Phew! Made it out alive! Ooh, what do we have here? I can smell something seriously sweet and delicious...

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Chaos theory

I'm not entirely sure how I do it, perhaps it's a genetic thing or maybe it just comes down to years of practice; but the truth is that I can can't help but make mess wherever I go.

This time yesterday I had a tidy kitchen table. It was set up perfectly for its intended use - notably: 'eating from'. This morning, as if the fairies had come a-visiting during the hours of darkness, it has turned into this.

Yes, indeed it is the resulting peril that comes from taking an artistic course entitled PaperLove. It means I am allowed to pull out all of my many stashes and scatter them to the wild domestic winds as I breeze through my home on a creative high.

I have been saving many of these scraps of wrapping paper, receipts from foreign retail emporiums, old paper bags and brightly patterned scrapbooking sheets for a 'special occasion' and, dear readers, it appears that very event has arrived. Yet, despite the fact it has sat in a box for years just 'waiting', I am still strangely reluctant to use my precious. I suspect this is why I am sitting here looking at a pile of paper rather than a beautifully hand-crafted book made from the same. I have the rough pressed ragged edge equivalent of stage fright.

Time to take that handmade paper with real flower petals embedded in its glorious texture and make something. Avast me hearties. I'm off!

Friday, 23 May 2014


It's a terrible beast - it pulls me around the house performing tasks that really could wait; it sticks me in front of Facebook reading 7 ways get rid of a mobile phone in a horror movie and finding out what animal I was in a previous life. It makes me cups of coffee and feeds me biscuits and has me watching the wind shake the branches outside and wondering if it's worth hanging the washing outside.

And then, when I finally start on my submission, the old enemy makes itself known. It whispers into my ear that I'm not good enough, my story is of no interest and I'm wasting my time. I fight back as best I can but it retaliates with a bombardment of other ideas that might be better.

Will I ever be published in a Stampington magazine? Well, not without submitting something first that's for sure!

I'm thinking of sending a selection of these in. What do you think?

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Camera obscura

Photo by me

Apparently my camera has more computing power than Neil Armstrong and his pals had in their entire spaceship when they flew to the moon ... and back! That's kinda scary when you're trying to learn how a piece of equipment works. What if I got in a cardboard box with a rocket drawn on the outside and pressed one of those buttons I haven't tried yet? I might end up sending a probe out into space or taking flight to another galaxy. Imagine the photos!

Trouble is, if I presented a set of photogenic aliens sitting astride six-legged, hump-back beasts against a backdrop of pink bubblegum mountains, would you believe them to be real?

Only this week, I helped someone grow a plausible beard and put them into a sequined evening dress using nothing but the power of Photoshop. Are we losing our sense of wonder? Does nothing impress us anymore?

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Taking Flight

Fuelling my addiction to art classes, I am picking up my watercolours with Danielle Donaldson and playing in the Land of Light and Shadows.

I've explored what my wings require to lift me off the ground take me to magical places.

A sense of wonder - an ability to marvel at the mundane and find wonder in all things. Spotting the hidden textures of the fungi at the base of a rotting tree trunk, enjoying the

Curiosity - the eternal WHY?

Unfolding your own myth - figuring out my own characterisation and place in the plot of the world.

Standing in my own light - figuring out what it is I'm good at and being brave enough to stand in that spotlight and proclaim it as my own

Creativity - keep on making!

Serendipity - harvesting happy accidents

Spirit of Adventure - where angels fear to tread.

Today I'm playing with magic mushrooms - all on paper!!

Monday, 28 April 2014

You don't have to be mad or suffering from TB to be an artist...

Modigliani has been invading my thoughts and canvas this month. He is the inspiration gifted to me by Priti Lisa in our Magical Journal Journey.

His is such a tragic tale, of illness, addictions, death and broken-hearted suicides. He sold few paintings in his lifetime and was once again only really valued after we had lost him. So tragic to think that his TB could have been cured just years later.

Would his output have suffered though had he been in the fullness of health and free of addiction? Did he have to be tortured to be a genius. I hope not. I will admit to having a few oddments of eccentricity in my own creative basket, but would not want to be standing on a precipice to create my masterpieces.

As always I must thank the Master whose lessons I lapped up this month. Modigliani taught me a refreshing simplicity in portraiture. Painting in his style felt almost like taking aim with a camera. I snapped and captured in a moment a fleeting expression. I don't even know if that is what he intended his portraits to be, but it doesn't really matter. We all take our own lessons.

The nude at the top of the post was quite a departure for me. I rarely stray further down than the neck when it comes to figurative drawing. I thought I would be brave and daring and experimented with a number of sketches before settling on this pose.

I love how these projects push us from our comfort zones and surprise us when we discover that drawing a nude figure isn't quite as tricky as I thought it would be - especially when you're borrowing the loose style of Mr M (I shall call him that from now on as it's too hard to get the spelling right!).

Mr M met my style in this next piece.

I had intended to take it further, but once this layer had dried I rather fell in love with the simplicity so decided to let her be. I wonder what or who she is looking at...

It was hard to force myself to keep the features flatter than I normally would and I know I put far too much detail in this lady's eyes. I painted them too big and I don't think there's enough angle in the nose. We can be so critical once a piece of work has gone in the post!

Monday, 21 April 2014

With the tribe


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

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

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

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

Photo by Lucy Sharpe

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

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Creativity, The Muse & Me Part 2

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

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

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

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

Why do I create what I do?

I simply have to!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 14 April 2014

Creativity, The Muse & Me - Part 1

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

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

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

What am I working on?

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

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

1. Online art courses

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

So far this year I have been taking three courses:

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

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

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

2. Collaborative Art Journals

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

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

3. My book!

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

4. Continuous bookish learning

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

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

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


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Work shoes

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

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

Monday, 7 April 2014


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

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

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

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

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

Answers on a postcard to the usual address...

Saturday, 5 April 2014


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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Ah.... the weekend

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Inspired by ... Jennifer Judd McGee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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