Thursday, 29 September 2011

Here's one I prepared earlier...

I can't believe that a whole week has gone by so quickly. I missed my usual Friday party hangout last week owing to being a gadabout gal in Madrid (well... you know... someone has to go!). And now, here we are again looking at the backside of another week.

I am a little torn tonight. My fingers are itching to wax lyrical about all I learned today at the Be the Brand event in London, but the link up between brain and fingers has gone on strike in protest at forced labour (it just wants to sleep... or watch trashy TV).

It's taken me an age just to type this, so perhaps I'll listen to my body for once and just post up this picture for the party and then slip off. I'm not sure I even have the energy to describe it in my usual 'flowery' detail (still managing to squeeze out the dodgy puns though!). Painted this about two weeks ago, but only just getting around to posting. Enlarge - if you want to read something into the petals!

Mixed media - acrylics, collaged book pages, crackle medium - all painted over the top of an old painting I'd got bored of.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Getting in a scrape

The white streak stood out starkly against the shocking red background. It looked like a heavily laden brush had swept across. It might have made a rather interesting abstract... had it not been the door of my car which I'd just scraped against a pillar in the car park...

Kat is inviting us to use what stressed us today for inspiration in our writing. I was torn between the lack of my parking skill, the two and half hour journey to work and not having opportunity to draw breath the entire day, then there was the rushing home to pick up my son from swimming only to find he hadn't gone because he'd managed to lose his kit since this morning... It was tough to just pick one!

I did try and start this post with a different flavour and see the bright side, but found myself getting a soaking in the draglines of the day. I guess I am tired, but it is so long since I've had time to blog that I can't forego the opportunity.

Of course, in the grand scheme of things, a scrape here and there is but a mere drop in the ocean of trauma. In fact, thinking about it, I feel better already! I've been rather busy this past week - I've even globe-trotted all the way to Madrid and back for a little Spanish fiesta time.

I have also managed a little paint flicking as antidote to the hectic nature of my days. Nothing much to show for it yet - just rather a lot of amazingly therapeutic backgrounds that require little concentration and much wild abandon (a bit like my parking!).

I could have posted a photograph of my nicely scraped car with ruined paintwork, but that would be too much of a gentle self torture. Instead, I thought recreating it in PhotoShop was the way to go. Can you see why I got just a tad annoyed with myself this morning?

Monday, 19 September 2011

My place

I had a sudden realisation. There's a place in my house that is full of 'me'. It's the top of the drawers in my bedroom - piles of art and creativity books, boxes full of treasures, jewellery and pretty things. If I'm feeling low, I often find myself drawn there to ponder, to feel, to dream and above all to be inspired.

It's a place where I can look through the layers of life into what and who I am. A retreat.

Do you have a special space?

Artwork is made from layers of collaged paper with a graphite sketch on top, finished with an overlay in PhotoShop.

It's a relief to post something new so I don't have to keep looking at the Zombie from yesterday!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Coming to get you...

Well this is a charming picture is it not? I'm hoping it doesn't prompt my recurring zombie dream tonight. Haven't had that one for a month or two, so we must be due. Last night was just a psychopath with a Hitler 'tash and werewolves chasing me - all set to a jaunty musical soundtrack written by Gary Barlow. Even in the depths of unconscious I did question myself whether this was the most appropriate musical accompaniment to that particular night-time adventure.

Amy is hosting a zombie vs unicorns party on her blog, so I thought I would join in (and multitask with a bit of Sunday Sketches). The living dead are far easier to draw than mythical horned beasts so I went team Rotting Flesh.  I think we're gonna win... After all, a zombie gorged by a unicorn horn is still a zombie... it just has an additional horse-shaped accessory attached. You can't see said beast in this picture - mainly because I didn't draw it, but I can assure you it's there.

It's quite a refreshing change to draw ugly (on purpose!) too.

Did anybody watch that TV series The Walking Dead? So, I ask you, if the world was overtaken by starving flesh-eating zombies, would you set up a camp on the edge of a forest and live in a tent? No?... I thought not.

My favourite news story this year had to be when some bright spark wrote to Leicester City Council asking what plans they had in place to combat a zombie attack. When it came out that they were not prepared for such disaster, the following happened....

PS - If I don't get round all the sketchers, zombies and unicorns today, I'm on my way. Broadband keeps breaking...

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Painting Autumn

I was going to paint acorns, but you know what happens when you plant those little seeds don't you? Yes, that's right - the squirrels dig 'em up and eat them.

Then I thought about conkers, but I got my consonants muddled up and went for what comes before c and found myself in all sorts of mischief.

Perhaps I should just post and have done with it. It's for the Inspiration Avenue Art Challenge. But you know me. I can't just put up a picture can I? I have to put on my hiking boots and go for a ramble. Tonight though my tongue is tangled in my laces which I have to say is rather uncomfortable and that damn squirrel just nipped my ankle.

Perhaps I should just quit while I'm in the middle of the pack and can sneak out un-noticed...

Here's my entry anyway. A fae of the autumn woods who quite literally did pull herself through a hedge backwards to achieve that look.

Oops, it's no good... can't be serious.... off to bed....

Friday, 16 September 2011

What would you do with... (and a discussion on value)

Now it's time to my metaphorical money where my mouth is. A couple of weeks ago I responded to IamRushmore's question about what exactly should be done with her background.

"Post it" I cried and see what we all come up with. So, last week at Paint Party Friday she did just that and here it is.

So then, of course I'm under intense pressure to come up with something good, being as it was my idea and all. As usual I forgot to scan in work in progress. However, that may be for the best as it a while for all to go to plan. In fact, at one point I gave up and went digital. But giving up is not really in my DNA, nor does it mix particularly well with my life motto - Where there's a will, there's a way. So, I called up my old friend Percy Vereance and we worked on it together. The wild wind outside may have penetrated our subconscious and influenced the girl's flowing locks.

So, I  present you with a jumble of images to view on this post. I'm sure you can figure out which was which! I wonder if anyone else took up the challenge. I'm off now to look!


When I posted my link on Paint Party Friday, my heart and soul were moved to comment by their question of the week - How do we price our art?

This is my response below - you can see I got more and more passionate about it as I went on! I'd love to know what you think too. To join the debate, follow this thread of comments.

This is a great question this week. I get upset when I see so many great artists practically giving their art away. I think we have to consider a number of aspects when we price our art.

Firstly - how long did it take? What is your hourly rate? Consider how many years of experience you have and what training you have taken. Do not under price your talent!

How much did you materials cost? A rough estimate at least!

What would you pay for it?

What would you think if it was only priced at $30. Would you think it was too cheap and therefore inferior? If you are buying a piece of original art, wouldn't you want to think it was special (ie expensive). Don't undervalue yourself.

Of course, it's all very well me writing all this, but we all know how hard it is to sell art. This is the theory, but in practice????

I just think it is unfair that so much talent is undervalued. I think we, as artists need to work together to shift a mindset. After all, we'd go out for dinner and happily pay £30 for a meal that's gone in 30 minutes. We'd pay £8 to see a movie, £40 for a skirt, £100 for a pair of boots.

WE ARE SPECIAL! Until we all stop undercharging for our work, we are never going to earn what we are worth. How on earth do we fix this??


Thursday, 15 September 2011

Hula Hola

My hoop arrived today in the biggest parcel I've ever seen - albeit a touch on the flat side. I couldn't wait to shake my booty.

I am hooked. Having been using my son's £1 from Tesco version up to this point, I now realise I have been attempting to wiggle the equivalent of a toddler's bicycle around my grown up hips. This hoop is huge and heavy and it don't fall down. You just shake your hips and round and round it goes.

Soon I was performing my first tricks - just a few bends to start, then a little walk around. The pounds started to drop off, the hoop span faster and faster and faster. Beyonce asked me to stop because I was ruining her reputation. Then, a knock at the door and Cirque du Soleil implored me to run away and join them...

Well, you know I'm a mother. I have responsibilities and a mortgage, but in the end they asked so nicely that I offered them a 'one night only' performance which you can see on this YouTube link above. What lovely people - and they even provided extra hoops.

In all seriousness though, if I could hula like this chick below, I'll be a happy bunny

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Customer service - how to and how not to

My biggest client - a company called Rackspace - are absolutely passionate about customer service. In fact, if you ask what they do, they'll tell you they deliver Fanatical Support. The IT Hosting bit comes very much second. Being surrounded by all this customer love has taught me a thing or two. It has also made me a lot less tolerent of companies who forget that customers ultimately pay their wages.

A couple of recent examples. I was trying to pay for three pairs of various footwear in SportsDirect (yes, three pairs... having a small boy interested in sport is a very expensive affair!). It had been something of a drama getting this far in the store as there is never anyone around to assist in finding you the right size, but at last we'd got to the point of passing over cash. Except, we hadn't quite. The queue was about 10 deep with one till open. Don't get me wrong, they weren't short staffed. There were a couple of other girls behind the till tidying up hangers and security tags - because as we all know, that is far more important a task than serving paying customers. To cut a long story short (because this was just the start of the whole sorry affair!), I ended up practically leading a rebellion of angry customers and giving them lessons in how to create a pleasing customer experience (this from the girl who wouldn't say boo to a goose for the first 30 or so years of her life!). The only reason I didn't walk out was because my son had broken his trainers and needed them for school the next morning. I shan't be shopping there again any time this century.

Then, on Sunday, my Broadband suddenly stopped working. This in itself is annoyance enough, but your heart sinks after 10 minutes of no miraculous repair and you realise you are going to have to phone Sky Technical Support. After you've been through the maze of press 2 for this, 4 for that, 1 for the other, and 5 for will someone please just answer the ****** phone, you are then through the labotomised operative who, no matter what you tell them you already know, will insist on going through a set procedure. They will then diagnose a fault with the exchange which they don't know when will be repaired. Call back later and you'll find your ticket closed (with no repair), so you have to go through the whole procedure again.... and again.... and again..... No matter how many times you tell them you've already tried switching the router off and on, they are unable to move to the next question without an answer. The second time we called, it was a fault with our machine. The third time it had moved back to the exchange, the fourth it was clear that they just making it up as they went along, by the fifth attempt I had packed my screwdriver and was on my way down there to fix the thing myself.

At no point in either of these two examples did any member of staff take ownership, admit there was a problem and use their brains to solve it.

OK rant over. We are back on Broadband but Sky lost us as a customer - not just Broadband, but TV and phone too.

Bit of a stark contrast to the BMW dealership. I went in to buy a new key - which is probably the cheapest thing in there (but still £126!). I was also worried I had a bit of an oil leak and wondered if any of the mechanics could check it out for me. Despite the fact that I was clearly not going to be parting with £40k for a new motor, I was still greeted by a smiling lady who plied me with proper coffee from a fancy machine and cake and sorted my son out an X-Box to play with, while I waited to be served in a comfy chair with a fresh newspaper. As there was a bit of a wait (ooh, at lest 5 minutes) because I'd picked a busy time, she popped back to let me know they hadn't forgotten me and make sure I was OK.

It's just a shame they don't sell trainers or supply Broadband...

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Run music draw clean create hula

I wonder is it possible to multi-task to the extent that one can paint, exercise, listen to music and type a blog post simultaneously? It's what I'm trying to do right now. Inevitably I'm getting in a bit of tangle with limbs flailing in all directions. I've also just bought an adult hula hoop but, perhaps fortunately, have to wait for delivery. I realised that trying to hula with a child's hoop that cost £1 from Tesco was probably the equivalent of attempting to ride a bicycle meant for a 5-year-old. I love hula hooping. I used to be pretty good at it. Well, I could keep it going for ages and performed the odd trick. I've decided that I'll have a go at something a bit fancier that might trim a few inches off the waistline in an enjoyable fashion.

What? At 41? Well, hey why not? A friend has just taken up roller derby (although she is a lot younger than me....).

Has anyone invented a swimming pool tank that works like a treadmill? I'd quite like me one of those.

A google moment later...

Oh my.... someone has invented one! Shame it costs £8k and I don't have anywhere to put it!

This piece of art is a result of multi-tasking too - but don't worry, I wasn't jogging or cooking dinner. I like slinging down backgrounds then seeing what wants to happen next. This is another of same set I made a few weeks ago. The round stamped pattern (now barely visible) was the catalyst for a daisy middle.

For Sunday Sketches.

Strange post this. I think I've been drinking too much coffee.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Her life followed a pattern

If you read my previous post you'll have noticed several things.

The first is that I love reading, the second that I was rather excited about painting over text. So thrilled in fact that I decided to do it again. They do say that there's a story behind every face after all, so I took a literal interpretation. I took a piece of patterned scrapbook paper, added some romantic novel and painted a picture.

Who is she? Well, she's a girl that follows a pattern... What kind of pattern? Does she always fall for the wrong sort of man? The kind that breaks hearts as easy as dry twigs on a forest floor? Does she give up before she ever gets started? Does she procrastinate and miss every moment? Is she afraid of living? No, it's nothing so dramatic I'm afraid. She just likes to dye her hair all the colours of the rainbow. This month it's pink, replacing August's orange. (I'm expecting October will be wicked witch green for Halloween).

Posting for Paint Party Friday & Inspiration Avenue's Pattern theme.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Mysterious goings on...

Have you ever wondered what happens to the characters in a book when you close the last page? Do they actually sail off into the proverbial sunset living in a state of perpetual bliss or are they perhaps destined to just begin again at page 1?

Imagine being Cathy and Heathcliff and having to relive that nightmare existence over and over and over? How many times has poor little Oliver had to ask for more? For Scarlett tomorrow would never come and Bridget Jones... well, could her liver cope with that much wine?

Every time we read these stories our imaginations bring each character to life. We give them soul and meaning. We take their hand and lift them from words to create our own picture. We create life only to shut it away once we've drunk our fill of joy and sorrow, exhileration, passion and despair.

One day maybe they will revolt. Will Elizabeth Bennett mysteriously take real form from the words on the page dragging Darcy in her wake then dive into a copy of Dracula to add some bite to their life? I'd have to caution Miss Jones from entering Wuthering Heights. Heathcliffe is just the sort of wrong man she'd fall for! And Peter Rabbit should avoid the Fantastic Mr Fox for obvious reasons. Alice and the Hatter would be sure to have fun at Hogwarts and I'm sure that Sauron and Voldemort would have a great deal in common!

Or, once free, these characters may just prefer to hang out in the 21st Century spending time analysing our behaviour for a change - especially those who are the favoured texts of examiners. Frankenstein might be only to pleased to have a chance to explain why he is so misunderstood...

The idea for this post came from when this mysterious lady started taking shape from the pages of a romantic novel... She's for Illustration Friday's Mysterious theme. I rather like this whole train of thought. Think I'll do some more... Watch this space!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

The sun will come out...


Of course it will, for is not tomorrow Monday when we are back at work?

Tomorrow is of course another day. Tomorrow is hope and promise, but it's also most decidedly not to be trusted. Who has put off until tomorrow what they could have done today, only to find out that tomorrow had other plans for you?

Tomorrow has this clever way of making you feel safe. "It's OK, I'll do it tomorrow" has a touch of the Groundhog day about it, for how often has tomorrow never actually arrived - being forever the proverbial day away?

Tomorrow is in cahoots with 'too late' - partners in crime stealing your destiny and giving it to others who grab today by its hooves and ride off into the sunset of success.

Tomorrow is the Dark Side seducing you with indolence today only to blast you with regret later.

If I didn't listen to tomorrow so often I wouldn't have to worry about it so much.

What is tomorrow for you? A Sunday Scribble written today!

Beach treasure

Who can resist combing the sandy shore for treasure? Not me! Though I've never quite been lucky enough to find a shell of this size to stick in my bucket.

This Summer I brought home from Greece a teeny tiny bag full of teeny tiny shells that I thought I would include in my art at some point. When the IA challenge this week was 'beach treasure' you would think that this presented the ideal opportunity... Alas, I only remembered the teeny tiny bag as I was writing the accompaniment to this shell sketch that I'd done instead! I do worry about my memory sometimes.

Far too much time lately is spent searching for the 'thing I had in my hand just a moment ago'. Do you think perhaps there's some sort of mischief sprite in the house that delights in hiding things the moment your back is turned? We certainly have a knot fairy in residence. My son just showed me what she'd been up to last night. That little scamp visits us every evening and puts knots in computer cables, necklace chains, phone chargers and anything else stringy she can get her little hands on. We've yet to catch her in the act... but beware little madam we are on your case... it's only a matter of time!

Now, what was I doing? Oh yes, writing a post about beachcombing!

Never mind. This will do.

For Sunday Sketches too.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Topsy Turvey

Season of mists and fellow fruitfulness.... that'll be Summer then.

Autumn dawns with unbroken blue skies and temperatures reaching the 20s for the first time in weeks. What's occuring?

I feel a bit topsy turvy myself at the moment.

There are so many things I want to achieve right now: courses to take, assignments to finish, work to complete, adventures with my family, words to write and painting itching to see the light of day. I'm so excited. I just can't get enough. I am a growing, learning and creative wild woman! Then sometimes it all gets too much to contemplate and I just go to bed.

Goddess Leonie says that "The energy is a bit of a bucking bronco at the moment. Everything will be okay, we are just going through a shift". It certainly feels like the Universe is playing funny games with me. Is it behaving for you?

This painting attemped to capture the topsy turvey weather. Those moments of mystical light when the storm clouds gather, brooding and heavy but the sun still sneaks through a gap and illuminates almost from beneath. That was the general idea anyway and I thought sunflowers were just perfect! Posting for Paint Party Friday (on Thursday - see, told you I was all at sixes and sevens!).

Now, what shall I do next? Art or go to bed?
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