Sunday, 28 September 2014

Boxing Before Culture

Hello there my lovelies

If you're a long time follower of my blog, you'll know that every couple of years, Chatsworth House has an exhibition of modern sculpture for Sothebys and that Nick & I will move mountains to go and see it.

This year was no exception and on Friday, we were blessed with blue skies and warm sunshine. Perfect for walking around the tranquil gardens. But the day didn't start so promising.

Before we headed off, we already had booked our monthly boxing lesson. There we were outdoors, with our trainer, thumping seven bells out of him, when the sky turned a dark, murky grey and the heavens opened. The three of us scurried quickly indoors to the gym to dry off and continue.

When our hour was up, we looked again at the weather forecast which maintained that it would be sunny over the hills, where we were heading. So we bit the bullet and decided to take the chance.

And lucky we did.

Here's why...

Isn't that such a gorgeous setting?

This piece was highly policed. Apparently there are nine types of Japanese stone used in this sculpture and the reason for keeping an eye on the visitors is that placed around, within and on top of these pieces were small figurines which could tempt the light of finger.

If you notice the area I circled in the previous photo, this is the close up. There were little houses, peacocks, monkeys and lions hidden amongst the stones. And for the eagle eyed, there were tiny human figures having, what I can only describe coyly, as adult fun. Yes I have photos but probably best I show you the giraffes and elephants instead.

Loved the colours of this one against the blue sky & green grass.

A large metal tablet shaped design.

A fragile spiral of white metal coiled into a stunning abstract shape.

This was entitled The Swarm. And round the corner from this piece was an old fashioned ice cream cart where we ordered two large cones, dripping with chocolate sauce and finished off with a flake. It felt just like we were on holiday, sitting on a bench, basking in the sun and indulging our sweet tooths.

An arty shot of a marble sculpture. Love the minimalist style.

Nick in the tunnel which runs underneath Chatsworth's beautiful water cascade. It was pitch black and this photo is down to the flash on my camera.

And finally, me taking a self portrait in a rotating mirrored sculpture which is permanently on display in their vegetable plot.

A perfect day.

We'll be returning to Chatsworth in a week's time as we have tickets to visit their Luminaire Event. We've never experienced it before, so it should be interesting to see the place in a completely different light.

Keeping fingers crossed that we'll be lucky again with the weather and that it won't rain.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Creative Blog Hop

Hello My Lovelies

I'm here with a slightly different post today. I've been asked, very kindly, to participate in a Creative Blog Hop by my lovely friend and fellow blogger Neet Hickson. As well as having the warmest, biggest heart that I know, she is one heck of a crafter - she teaches it, she demos for other companies at craft shows and she's been published in a variety of craft magazines. She has even looked after a local craft group for several years. Where she finds the energy I haven't a clue. She is a wonderful friend with a terrific sense of humour. I love her to bits.

Back to the challenge. Last Monday, Neet posted her answers to four questions. She then nominated little old me, to keep the chain going. And as her nominee, one week later, it's my turn to answer the same four questions.

So here goes...


What am I working on now?

At the moment, other than the occasional card here and there, I’m mostly sketching and doodling. I love the playful, whimsical nature of the drawings I’m doing in my (sort of) art journal. And because I’m purposefully not sharing them, they don’t have to be very good or original. I can sit in front of the TV or in a waiting room and just scribble away without a care. There are lots of artists I currently admire out there and I’m learning by copying. What will hopefully emerge one day will be a hybrid version of them all. There’s a wonderful book on this method for mastering art, called “Steal Like an Artist” by Austin Kleon which I highly recommend. 

How does my work differ from others in my genre?

I don’t think it does. I haven’t found my oeuvre yet. I dabble in all sorts of styles. I love making stuff in a range from clean & graphic to layered, shabby chic. However, that said, after a lifetime of opting for conservative colour schemes, I’m discovering I actually love bold, bright palettes. In my art, in my clothes, in our home - I’m slowly replacing all the safe neutral tones with a rainbow of colour and I can’t begin to tell you how much more fun it is. I think the future might see me differing through my use of a multi colour palette and maybe the incorporation of more doodles. Ask me this question again in a year’s time lol. 

Why do I create what I do? 

Very good question and one that has been chewed over by greater minds than mine through the annals of history. The simplest and easiest answer as to why I personally create is because it brings me joy. I’m happy when I create. I could dig deeper and come up with a profound answer. But what I know is that when a certain amount of time has gone by and I haven’t done something creative, I miss it. No, more than that. I crave it. It becomes like an itch I need to scratch. I don’t question it. I go with the flow and give in to it. 

How does my creative process work?

Crikey, I bet this question has stumped a few people. Or am I alone here in scratching my head? If I have a creative process, this is the first time I’ve thought about it. I suppose it starts with seeing something which inspires me or triggers off an idea. It could be something I saw on a blog, or photographed on my travels or popped into my head whilst taking a bath. 

Once inspired, I dig out all the tools and materials I think I’ll need and just begin. I have the finished vision of it in my mind’s eye from the start but it tends to change as I create. I’m fairly methodical and I’m usually thinking about design principles and colour theory as I go. 

When I’m finished I instantly find fault with whatever I’ve done. Thankfully, these days I know I’m not alone and that the nasty critical voice in my head is normal. It’s never going away but I do have better strategies for dealing with it. 

My ritual is to tidy away any mess I’ve made and put the piece I’ve created away - be it a drawing or a card. If I look at it again the next day, after having slept, I generally view it with a less critical eye. In fact, I have a poster in my room which says “Done is better than perfect”. Words I need to remind myself of frequently.


And there you have it. How creativity fits into my life right at the moment. A strange time to be answering these questions as I'm only just coming out of a creative ebb. It'll be interesting to read my answers back to myself a year from now and see if I still agree with what I wrote.

In the meantime, that itch has started again and I need to go take care of it :)

Friday, 12 September 2014

Voodoo ATCs

Hello There Lovelies

I have a couple of cards to share today, made from ATCs I created from an online class I'm taking. It's called the Voodoo That You Do by Megan Suarez. It's been a different style of online class for me as the first lesson went up a month ago, lesson two a few days ago and lesson three to come at a further unknown date.

I'm an impatient so and so and in truth, how to draw the figures and colour in the faces has now been covered. I think I can figure out the rest, so I had a go at producing a couple of them and here are my results.

The only part I missed out was the splattered paint decoration. A step into messiness too far for my tastes. And though Megan teaches how to use a circular stencil to draw the figures, I did mine by hand which is why they look more, shall we say, organic? (and not rough lol).

I was tempted to coat them in triple gloss varnish as I've seen my friend Mark Gould do but opted instead to attach them to a couple of cards. I love how vibrant the backgrounds colours become when paired with the grey of the Voodoo guys.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Channelling Hattie Stewart

Hello there Dear-hearts

I'm back with a card! I know!!!! Been a while hasn't it?

As I've mentioned before in a previous post, I've been drawing and doodling away in my sketchbook of recent. Nothing fancy and worth sharing on here but it's fun and relaxing. Hence why, until now, my blog has been quiet.

Besides, Summer is drawing to a close and nights are closing in. When it's colder and darker outside, I'll be found indoors again making stuff.

In my online absence, I've discovered and developed an art crush on a professional doodler, based in London, one Hattie Stewart. Her glorious portfolio looks rather similar to that of an art journaler, don't you think? She has a beautiful distinctive, colourful style which I'm completely compelled and inspired by.

(Taken from Hattie Stewart's Tumblr)

Her work is deceptively simple. I've tried my hand at covering magazine covers in Hattie's style and it's certainly no walk in the park. It's a sweaty jog, tripping up on loose stones and flailing as you fall headfirst into a muddy puddle. That said, it's great fun and intensely satisfying.

My own pitiful attempts have definitely been a learning curve and I don't have any examples worthy of sharing (yet?)

So I made a card instead!!!!

I took a piece of yellow card and using a purple Posca pen, covered it in one of Hattie's doodle styles. I cut the resulting design out with a die, backed it onto white card and along with a stamped sentiment, added foam mounts and attached to a purple background card.

When I can make something which incorporates both art and design, I am truly a happy and most satisfied bunny.

Wish me luck, in a few hours, I have to trick the cat into it's carrier and drag it off to the vets. It's a battle of wills and cunning and one of us normally has a sharp claw sunk in deep. Mark my words, there will be some hardcore sulking demonstrated later on when we return.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Doodling & the Talents of Friends

I've been doodling again. I wasn't sure whether to post the result or not as it's rougher than a bear's backside. It was something I idled away at whilst curled up on the sofa at nights, normally in front of a TV show or film.

In real life, it's quite a small page and the imperfections don't show up as bad. The moment I scanned it and saw it on screen, it's like every error had a flashing red arrow pointing at it. And yes, I feel just as vulnerable as everyone else who shares their stuff online, especially when it's a crappy play project for fun.

But heck, I just wanted to scribble away and produce something colourful. I stumbled when I realised the black pen I was using wasn't a water resistant one which meant the best way to add colour was to use pencils.

I dug out my Spectrum Noirs and soon found out how easy it was to cripple the carpal tunnel in my wrist! They produced a lovely rich colour but boy did I have to press down hard and keep going over until I had as smooth a colour as I could. I think you can tell where I gave up.

Next time, I'll use the correct black marker and use ink or watercolour.

In the meantime, I have much better artwork to share with you. My lovely friend Richard Pettitt now has a website up - check it out here - and he's taking commissions for pet portraits.

(Taken from Richards Web Page)

I have to say I love this particular one. The evil glowing eyes are mesmerising.

Anyway, although I knew he could draw dogs, I commissioned him to do a portrait for Nick & I of our furry housemate, Basil. And this week we received it. It's something I never thought to have done. It always struck me as a bit too sentimental and nauseating to have a pet portrait. But you know what? I should slap myself hard for ever having that thought. There's something utterly soul-lifting about having an artist draw an animal you live, love and care for.

Now I don't have the finished piece to share, it's too precious to put under the scanner and I'm keeping it pristine until it is framed.


I can share the photo Richard sent over whilst he was in the middle of working on it.

When we saw this, we went batcrap crazy over it. Photos of pets bring you wonderful memories but the experience and emotion you feel over a piece of art is beyond my humble means of expression. I have no words to do it justice.

Nick & I have had quite a few adventures and firsts this year. This has to be one of the highlights. So, so very happy with it.

Ironically, the day it arrived was the same day as a trip, for sir, to the vets, to have his annual injections. Two days later, he is only just forgiving us. Ever seen a cat sulk? His majesty can out-diva both of us.

And that's saying something

Sunday, 10 August 2014

It's Time to Lipsynch....For....Your..............LIFE!

I am, of course, quoting the Queen of the Glamazons, Ru Paul for the title of this post. As I intimated in my last, I have been watching and obsessing with the fabulous Drag Race over which she presides.

As you may have noted, there has been an absence of crafting going on around here. I've been drawing and doing small household projects but I've largely left my craft room untouched. There is a reason and it's something I've talked about on here before. The ebb and flow around creativity. And I've been in the Ebb mode recently. I'm okay about that. There comes a point when it's good for me to take a break and go look for inspiration instead. And strangely enough, this time around, I've found it in Ru Paul.

But before I go on, here's a teaser...

Now when I find a source I love, I really go full out and dig deep into it. I've been reading Ru's books, including his autobiography. I've been listening to his fortnightly podcasts, "What's The Tee". I've been watching his shows. And I've been learning a heck of a lot about creativity, authenticity and determination.

The TV show is a competition starting with 14 drag queens who are whittled down episode by episode until three remain. There is a grande finale show and from the top three, a winner is crowned Drag Superstar.

Now bear with me, there's a reason I'm going into this. You see, to the mainstream, this is what drag looks like...

Roxxy Andrews from Season 5.

These are the Pageant Queens.

But in Season 4, right from start, I was bewitched by Sharon Needles (Geddit?), whose look was more like this...

And she was forever having to defend her unique aesthetic. Then, in Season 5, I routed for Jinkx Monsoon....

She was another who had an original look, creating characters of a vintage era and was given a difficult time because of her oeuvre.

SPOILER ALERT: Guess what....

They both won in their respective seasons.

The outsider, in a community of outsiders, walked away with the title and crown. They stayed true to themselves against some harsh bullying from the Pageant queens. They had their own style and authenticity and kept at it when the competing queens were constantly putting them down.

Are you beginning to see why I instantly loved them both and cried buckets when the underdog won? Add to that, the story of Ru Paul's life and all the other queens, winners or not and I've been swept away in the tide of resilience, irreverence and creativity.

Now everyone has their own different preferred places to go seek some inspiration. The courage and convictions of drag superstars has been mine this summer.

Okay you've got this far...shall I post a card to show that the ebb is giving way to flow?


It's my cliched homage to the world of drag

Now with that out of my system, it's time to grab my supplies and start crafting again

Sunday, 3 August 2014

TV, Rocking Chairs & Squashes

Hello my lovely darlings,

I haven't posted any craft projects on here I know. I've gone a bit quiet. Only because I haven't created anything of note to post about. Whether it's the summery days or the humid, muggy weather, I'm not sure but I just haven't felt like sitting down and creating.

I've been drawing, sketching and designing vectors for work but in my free time, nothing! I know that we're supposed to give the impression that when, as bloggers, we aren't blogging, it's because we're off doing worthy pursuits. But I haven't. Not this time. Instead, I've been enjoying pop culture. Which is a fancy way to say, I've been watching T.V. Programmes such as the devine, RuPaul's Drag Race.

I know, I know. I'm supposed to switch it off and do something better with my time but sometimes, just giving the old brain a rest and filling it with trashy pop culture is as good as it gets. Sometimes you need to stop and fill the well folks.

Anyway, I've not been completely lazy. I've been making progress on my goal to add more colour to our humble home. So be warned...this is going to be one of those before and after transformation posts.

A while back, Nick brought home a family heirloom. A rocking chair. I have to say, I wasn't overly impressed with it on first sight. But oh, when I sat in it, it was love. Only problem was that it was in need of some repair and a complete overhaul on the upholstery. In fact you may recall me mentioning it in a post a few weeks back.

So here we go...the before shot (after the seat & back had been ripped out).

I shredded my hands sanding the chair down, what with all those awkward curves. I gave it a couple of coats of undercoat and then the exciting part. I took it out into the garden and let loose with around three cans of spray paint.

The upholstery required a professional, so the painted chair was left in the capable hands of a chap whose shop is just across the road. I chose the fabric & trim and left him to it.

A few days later and looked what arrived back...

Isn't that so much better? I squealed and nearly wet myself when it was brought into the house. I'm still giddy with excitement at how fabulous it now looks. It's my pride and joy. It's now sitting proudly in the bedroom where it is perfectly positioned for me to sit and read in the evenings, rocking away like a modern day grandpa.

And finally, an update...

My little seeds are growing up. Yes, my Spaghetti Squashes are finally bearing fruit. In a month or two we should have a crop of fully grown, ready to eat veggies. I'm intrigued to see their resemblance to spaghetti strands once cooked. My carb-free spagbol is nearly here.