Silver Crow Project

Rocking My World Friday - The FREEEEEEDOM edition

Whoopidooings@ Mixed media artwork by Virginia Hoskings, Celtic House Blog - Founder of Rocking Your World Frioday
The practise of positive thinking - retraining my brain, one smile at a time
Guess when I started writing this post? Guess. Friday! Not the Friday I'm due to post but Friday just gone. Posted in the morning, started writing again in the evening. Oh yeah. (Can we keep it up through the week? Let us see.)

Musical Meanderings

So it's 11pm Friday night, I'm sat at my desk tippy tapping away. A little voice wafts in the door asking if she can sneak in my bed. Sure, go ahead, but I'm working up here. In she gets, get her tucked in, turn back to my desk...

"Mum can you put that lullaby on that you listen to?"


"That soothing lullaby that I hear you listening to. Can you put it on?"

You mean the Pans Labyrinth soundtrack? The one I had on last night?

"Yes - it was really lovely, how long is it?"

Um... it's like a whole CD someone has put on Youtube so... over an hour?

"Whoa - Have you ever listened to the whole hour?"

Er... yeah... last night for one. Most nights I suppose.

"Really? Wow, it must have soothed me to sleep I don't remember it that long. Would I like the film?"

Well - It's in Spanish with subtitles, set during a revolution - which is a type of war and has creatures like that in it? It's a faun. Spelt F.A.U.N (Chavvy accent sounds like forn)

(I point to the picture I've printed out and stuck on my wall of the faun embracing the child. I am saving up for a copy of the real print.)

"Oh. Oh no. I wouldn't like that. But the music is lovely."

I'll put it on then. 

Massive smile. And yes, she is soundo now.

The British Tea Party

My neighbour hosted a tea party in aid of Cancer Research on Saturday. We had been invited along and the kids were really excited.  My neighbour had been telling me, the day before, that she was worried about the heat and people sitting out in the full glare all afternoon.

She needn't have worried.

Cue thunder. Cue lightning. Cue torrential rain. Add a dash of high spirits and laughter and you've got yourself a British tea party. We all felt so bad for her, she'd worked so hard. But the atmosphere was one of fun and "wouldn't you just know it?" We had cakes and scones, sandwiches and tea. Bear was made up to have a cup and saucer. He takes after his Mama Bear - loves his tea.
Whoopidooings: British tea party - in a thunder and lightning storm.
The next day my neighbour popped round to let me know that they had raised over £300. How brilliant is that? Plus - I won a little basket on the raffle, full of goodies to have a cheese and cracker feast. Perfect. Do love cheese and crackers.
Whoopidooings: The hamper I won at the teaparty


For the first time in 20 years I have the house completely to myself for more than an evening. If you disregard a grumpy dog. Roo has gone to Canterbury to stay with Devvie for a few days, Phe has gone to see her Dad and Bear is unexpectedly in Hastings. His Daddy surprised me by whisking him off on Monday so that I can get some project work done and just basically recharge I think. It's been a bit of a bonkers time here and I was losing the plot just a tiny bit. By the time they are all back I will have had two full days and two part days completely. Utterly. On my own. It's weird. It's quiet. It's bloody lovely.

I have gone to bed when I want, I have got up when I want, I have had the bed to myself - apart from aforementioned grumpy dog - I have had my dinners late and there have been no more than one set of dishes at any time. No mountains spontaneously spawning in the sink. I've been wandering out to the workshop as and when I like without someone trailing after me, touching stuff they shouldn't. I've been playing with my new spray paints - getting a wee bit wheeeeeeee  in the process. I'm sat on my pc now having downloaded a trial of Photoshop Elements and can spend as long as I want up here without having to roar down the stairs that I am going to bang heads together if they don't stop squabbling. 

Bliss. Utter, utter bliss.

* Legal disclaimer. Of course I miss the little darlings madly and cannot wait for them to come home and follow me round trailing their mess and carnage as they go. I also really miss their constant whinging, whining and bickering. Of course I do. (Actually - they do give good cuddles.)

I do love them. But this time has been brilliant. I probably haven't got as much done as I should - I have had catnaps during the day and don't feel so tired and cranky even though I still have broken sleep at night. I do feel recharged. 

I was able to spend a whole morning on my business plan and it's now finished! Hurrah! My mentor says she thinks it and my proposal is really good and I should have no problems getting it passed ready for the next stage. Hurrah, hurrah!

So yes, a little bit of solitary confinement has been good for the soul I think. I can remember when I was at school - the first time round - as a class we had to write an essay on what we wanted to be. I wrote two things. Hermit living in a book lined cave with loads of rescued cats or long distance lorry driver but it had to be a sixteen wheeler. (I believe I was obsessed with the films Convoy and Over The Top at the time) Both pretty solitary past times though eh? I also remember my teacher saying "I can always rely on you!" I wasn't sure what she meant at the time but I take it as a compliment when I look back now.

Here Come The Bullet Point Smiles

  • I ate a whole pizza to myself while the kids were away! (I haven't lost weight this week and baby I don't care)
  • I bought a new man jumper and it wasn't even in the sales or from a charity shop. Oh, what a rebel! It's huge, ginormously baggy and comfy and is crochet (I have a thing for black crochet effect jumpers) and I love it. Want to see a picture of it on a man?
    Whoopidooings: Mens crochet jumper bought from ASOS
    Mens crochet jumper - ASOS - Source
    I wear a vest underneath - let me just put that out there. The sleeves come right down past my hands. Snuggly buggly in this Autumnal Summer weather.
  • A surprise present from a very, very naughty friend to keep me organised while at uni. Isn't it beautiful? The black book is a bullet journal, Jack Skellington is actually a beautiful watch and I just love the crow art work too - I'm taking it as a dare to do well! I am. Challenge accepted. She knows me so well.
  • My new spray paints. I'm going to have a go at grafitti style as one of the pieces for my Summer project. I LOVE THEM! But don't have a flaming clue what I'm doing. No change there then. Going to have a go at stencil cutting when PS Elements and I become friends.
    Whoopidooings: First Spray paints - Kobra spray paints
  • I have been sourcing some of the books on my uni Summer reading list. Found a couple in the library, owned one already and good old Amazon used & new has come up trumps. So postie has been bringing me lots of happy mail this week. Well, I say happy, I did feel sorry for him in the torrential rain but he always has a smile on his face so... And OK, yes, the list did say you don't actually have to read them all just those you can get your hands on... they jest of course. You need to buy all the books. Especially if you find them for 1p plus postage... Crikey - no wonder I'm skint this week! When they all show up I'll post my haul. 
That'll do me this week. A little of what I've been watching then - I shall leave you with a bit of Jim Carrey. But not as we know him. I'm not a massive fan of his films, there are a couple I like and I must admit that at first I thought this would be a mickey take. But it's not - it's quite lovely.
Jim Carrey: I Needed Color from JC on Vimeo.

My second share is Glen Campbell. So sad to hear the news this week of his passing. He was part of the soundtrack to my childhood. I went onto Youtube to hear a few favourites and came upon this one that I didn't know. It's beautiful and affected me the same way Hurt by Johnny Cash does. So I apologise if it affects you the same way but thought it was to beautiful not to share.

Thank you for stopping by today - how has your week been?

Rocking My World Friday - The Oops I Did It Again Edition

Artwork by Virginia Hoskings of Celtic House blog - Founder of Rocking Your World Friday
The practise of positive thinking - retraining my brain, one smile at a time.

(TL;DR: Food, food, trains, books, a new camera and oil pastels and the uni Summer Project)

Guess what day it is? Thursday. How much of this post have I written up to now? That's right - none. I've decided it's the kids fault - they need to go back to school already. Blame them. Lets see if I actually can get this written and posted by Friday shall we? Game face ON!

Lady What Lunched... Again!

Crikey this is becoming a bit of a habit! I only went and socialised again. Alright it was with the eldest but I don't see her that often so I reckon it counts. We decided to meet each other roughly half way between the two of us which was Faversham. We both haven't been for years and we decided to have a day hitting the boutiques. (Charity shops.) It was lovely, we walked, we talked, we shopped, we found some bargains. I was particularly chuffed to pick up this ceramic pen pot, originally from Tiger but found at the back of a shelf in the Shelter shop. £2.00! I love the squished up jar shape of it.
Whoopidooings: Charity shop bargain! Tiger Stores ceramic scrunched jar found in a Shelter shop.

We ended up in Wetherspoons, just in time for breakfast. Devvie convinced me to try the Eggs Benedict and we added a bowl of fruit to share between us. It was one of their "under 500cals" meals. We accompanied it with some refillable coffees and ate and chatted and ate and chatted some more. We polished our healthy halo's and then ordered  a squidgy cookie dough cake and ice-cream each! 
Whoopidooings: Wetherspoons Eggs Benedict - Cookie Dough cake & ice-cream

... I tell you what. I lost 2lbs this week! Judge me not! It obviously works ;)

So we ate and chatted and ate and chatted some more! The food was absolutely lush, that Eggs Benedict, so good... never tried it before. Would definitely have it again.  And I don't need to tell you how good the cake was. We were stuffed and groaned our way around the rest of the walking we did.

To top it off. As well as babysitting the kiddo's, when I got home Phe presented me with a cuppa and one of the rice crispy cakes they'd made while I was out.
Whoopidooings: Cuppa and rice crispy cake
Did I mention I lost 2lbs this week? I did!

Public Transport

I've been using the train a lot more over the past few weeks. I've decided that when it's just me travelling it's probably cheaper in the long run when you factor in parking costs... and stress levels. I used to adore driving, it used to be one of my favourite things in the world. Not any more. Drivers round here seem to have got really aggressive and angry lately, they take unnecessary risks, jump lights, cut you off on roundabouts... is it really worth that extra few seconds? I can remember doing Rocking Friday posts where I was champing at the bit to do the drive up to Scotland. Not just the getting to Scotland but I loved the pure act of driving up there, seeing the scenery change, hearing the accents change at the rest stops. The thought fills me with apprehension now. It makes me sad and a bit angry that other people have taken that away.

However, the positive in this is that I have rediscovered train journeys. OK - there is the waiting around and the delays occasionally - particularly on some lines there has been terrible disruption . It probably does take longer in some cases to get where I want. But on the two journeys this week I think there wouldn't have been much difference. Other than I got to sit there and read my books instead of having my eyes everywhere. In fact I nearly missed my stop on the way to see Devvie, I was so into my book. It was a particularly good bit!

Also, where I'm not sleeping well still, it feels a bit safer to take public transport where I can. I am honestly thinking that when the kids are older I will probably be happy to do away with the car - better for the environment too. I'm going to be driving all the time during the week in a month or so - it's nice to have that break. And no - it's not feasible to train to uni. Not if I have to be leaving at lunch time to be sure of getting back for the kids.  It wouldn't be worth my going. I wish I could.

The books? Of course. I'm glad you asked. I finished the Dreams & Shadows one and now am about half way through Heart Shaped Box. Both so good. Thoroughly recommend. Heart Shaped Box nearly made me miss my stop. If anyone wants to read Dreams & Shadows give me a shout, I'll send it on.
Whoopidooings: Books read and reading: Dreams & Shadows C.Robert Cargill - Heart Shaped Box Joe Hill

Naughty Purchases

I finally saved enough for my camera this week! So that was my second train journey and my second socialisation. A friend has been kind enough to do me a good deal. It takes lovely photos, he demonstrated it all and ran through all the functions of the many, many buttons... and I promptly forgot it all the minute I walked away. It no longer takes lovely photos. It mocks me even as I talk to it nicely. However, once again Youtube is coming to my rescue. Amazing what you find when you type in your subject and "for dummies" into Google. There is a whole world out there, uploaded just for me. I do like the chchchchch sound it makes. I might have sung Lady Gaga; Paparazzi while trying to make it work... could be why it mocks me. The machines - they know.

Ain't she purty though?
I have been looking back over old work this week - getting ideas. I found an old index card face I did when I was dabbling in oil pastels. And it made my fingers itchy to try them again. My old original pack is nearly dead so I bought some more. These are my very favourite oil pastels. To be fair I've only tried two brands. These and the uber expensive Sennelier. I do like the Sennelier but, dare I say, I prefer these? These were just under £6.00 for 50 pastels on Amazon. No brainer really. Once you warm them up and work with them a bit they are lovely and smooth and creamy - they blend so well. I still felt naughty buying them after the camera but - in a good way.

This was the old image that made me want to have another go - remember her? 
Carmen Wing - Wide eyed girl portrait in mixed media - predominantly oil pastel & water colour

Summer Project

Today the uni emailed me it's welcome pack, first week timetable and... Summer Project.  We have to complete the Summer Project ready to hand in on induction week. Eight pieces - that's EIGHT pieces of artwork ready to be shown in a pop-up gallery. I may have had a mini meltdown. Alright it was a full blown freak out. A real "what the actual Hell do I think I'm doing?" moment.

But I've calmed down now. I've re-read the brief about 20 times. I think I can do this. I think I can. When it's done I'll upload it all on the arty page. So that'll be about September 11th. I've been advised by a couple of uni friends not to upload before because apparently, sadly, some people do just steal other peoples ideas off the internet. Don't really see the point of that but apparently it's rife. I might do snippets of works in progress on instagram though - that can't hurt.
Whoopidooings: So apparently I'm going to uni - at 40! Yikes. BA in Illustration & Animation here I come!
The screen - the reaction
Oh yeah - and as you can see, it has been so windy I have been cool enough to be back in my paint stained man jumpers. Yeah. Classy. Trend setter. Comfy - that's what I am ;)


I've been recommended a couple of apps this week. Well, one indirectly - I just ran with it. That one was the Peak brain training app (Android, Apple) which Virginia recommended on her Rocking Friday post last week. I am a big fan of brain training games as I think -  I hope -  it helps with my bad memory. Surely anything that keeps your mind active has got to be good right? I also already use another called Lumosity which I really recommend. (Android, Apple) Anyway - I have been enjoying Peak equally as much as Lumosity, so thanks Virginia.

The second is called Twilight (Android,  Don't think it's on Apple, unusually.) and this is one that Devvie recommended to me when we were chatting over lunch and I mentioned my not sleeping. It's an app that filters the blue light emitted on your phone. Description borrowed from the app store:  
Recent research suggests that exposure to blue light before sleep may distort your natural (circadian) rhythm and cause inability to fall asleep.

The cause is the photoreceptor in your eyes, called Melanopsin. This receptor is sensitive to a narrow band of blue light in the 460-480nm range which may suppress Melatonin production - a hormone responsible for your healthy sleep-wake cycles.

In experimental scientific studies it has been shown an average person reading on a tablet or smart phone for a couple of hours before bed time may find their sleep delayed by about an hour.

The Twilight app makes your device screen adapt to the time of the day. It filters the flux of blue light emitted by your phone or tablet after sunset and protects your eyes with a soft and pleasant red filter. The filter intensity is smoothly adjusted to the sun cycle based on your local sunset and sunrise times.

I only remembered to download it last night and it has been interesting to watch the screen start to change from about 8.30pm. It's not a BAM in your face change, it's gradual over the evening. It is more easy on my eyes tonight for sure. However, I did try and edit some photos to add to this post and it kind of makes judging colours when doing that a bit harder. So if my photos look weird - you know why. But so far - I'm hoping it will help. Something has to!

Here's a screenshot of what a Youtube page looks like on my phone with what I am guessing is the full filter on. (It's now 10.30pm) 
Whoopidooings: Example of YouTube page with the Twilight filter app on.

Quickie But Still Appreciated Smiles:

  • Friends that seem to genuinely like me for being me. I sometimes can't fathom why - I don't think I bring much to the table. I feel like such a boring person - I'm not fishing I swear I'm not. It's honest truth. But somehow, somewhere along the way - I seem to have gathered the most amazing little group of friends and I'm not quite sure how it happened. True what they say it's definitely quality over quantity. 
  • Art therapy. I was not in a very good place during the week. So I pulled this canvas down, squirted some paint on and just moved it around with my hands. Added some texture eh? Lost myself for a bit there too.
Carmen Wing - Canvas - textured work in progress
  • Conversations with far away friends that make you laugh out loud. Properly, belly laugh out loud.
  • The internet for enabling such conversations to happen.
  • Talking to the train guard on the station about her unintentional new pet. A butterfly that had moved in two days before and it kept flitting playfully in front of her as she tried to print my tickets.
  • My quilt and my comfy bed. I am so tired, it looks so inviting - I'm hoping that means some shut-eye tonight!
Well, it's pretty much 1am Friday morning now - we did it! I am going to leave you with Savage Garden and also the Song of the Sea soundtrack this week. Thanks for the comments about these videos - am glad you like them. It's just literally what's on the tabs in front of me so I share what I've been listening to or watching :)
Thank you as always, for stopping by :) How has your week been? 

Rocking Your World Friday - The "Oh Crap, I Forgot!" Edition

The practise of positive thinking - retraining my brain, one smile at a time.

Sooo, it is now 11.30pm Thursday night and I have written precisely nothing to post this week! Where have the last seven days gone? Kindly tell me? OK, OK, we can do this - we can get this written and posted before Friday ends! Here we go. I would lean back and crack my knuckles if just the mere thought didn't make me want to vomit... I'll go make tea instead!

(The sub-headings were a hit last week, so they are staying.)

Illustrated London

So Saturday saw me doing a few firsts. These may not seem big things to the majority of grown-ups who do this every day without thinking. But personally, these are big milestones right here. Firstly I travelled up to London on my own, navigated the tube with a big arse giant map like the old street maps - I even walked around a tiny bit of London, got a coffee and perused the Whitechapel Gallery for a little bit, on my own. The art was a little bit over my head, but I did enjoy just mooching around at my own pace. I'm turning into my Mum, I just make comments to random strangers as I'm stood there. I also nearly nutted one of the paintings when leaning in to look at the texture and didn't realise there was a wooden bar on the floor to stop people getting to close, tripped on it and fell forward. Was nearly a very close up view! 

Luckily it was at this point that Sarah and Jay found me. Yes, this was the week that I was being sociable and getting my personal guided tour of what turned out to be a very rainy London. But oh my God what an amazing day. I think Sarah and now Jay are probably the coolest people I know - sorry everyone else, I love you dearly but they are. Their heads are just full up to the top and coming out their ear holes with artist knowledge, where to find it, when they did it, what was there before, where they've been to see other works by the same artists. I'm just like... "well, I love the one who does the birds with skull heads, whatserface, oojamaflip..." (Midge, in case you were wondering.) I wish I could remember things like they do. So the next bit may be image overload - oh, it was a visual feast I tell thee!

I'm actually finding it hard to share a select few photos - this is taking way longer than it should. They were all so good. I'm going to make a Flikr folder so if you want to see all the photos I took, click here. Even then, it's not even half of what we saw.
Whoopidooings: Street Art London July 2017 - My Dog Sighs
So chuffed to see some actual real My Dog Sighs
Whoopidooings: Street Art London July 2017
Gorgeously textured and weathered walls
Whoopidooings: Street Art London July 2017 - Phlegm
A beautiful, detailed and massive Phlegm wall.
I can see why he is Sarah's favourite.
Whoopidooings: Street Art London July 2017 - Shok-1 and ?
Two favourites because they made me laugh. The Top one by SHOK-1  is called Elvis...
Now, this one below is the stand out piece of the day. It was done during an event called Meeting of Styles and is a collaboration between several artists. Seeing it in a picture just does not convey the awe you feel when stood in front of it. That guy, who was a little obsessed with photographing that ball for ages, gives a bit of perspective on size.
whoopidooings: London Street Art - Meeting of Styles 2017 - Nomadic Community Gardens - Artists - XENZ, Tweshone, Rasmus Balstrøm, Jim Vision, Dr Zadok, NEIST
Artists - XENZ, Tweshone, Rasmus Balstrøm, Jim Vision, Dr Zadok, NEIST
If you cant zoom in and out then I urge you to look at the image on my Flikr page where you will be able to zoom in and move around the picture. It's just mind blowing how all these artists worked together to create... well, this! You'll see something different each time. I loved the distant scenery and the tiny birds flitting throughout.

If you would like to see it in real life, it was in a little gem of a place that Sarah and Jay took me to called the Nomadic Community Gardens. brilliant place - so nice to see something like that in an area where I suspect any free space is at a premium.

One last art picture, this one was in a coffee shop and we almost walked past till Sarah remembered it was there and took me in, goes to show how similar our tastes are. I adore it and would love to know who the artist is so I can see more of their work. If you know - drop me a comment below please? Found the artist after much googling - it's Word To Mother and ALL his stuff is amazing!
Whoopidooings: London Street Art - Spotted in a cafe - artists unknown. Please drop me a comment if you know who it is, I LOVE IT!
Word To Mother
I got off the tube at noon and I got back on my train home at 7.30pm. The time spent inbetween was constant walking and drooling. It flew past, I couldn't believe it when Sarah told me the time. Even factoring in that the rain, by the end was literally running down my back, it wasn't cold and the company and scenery was fantastic. I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Thank you, both.

Happy Faces...

Whoopidooings: Before and after the rain - Sarah Harris aka The Lost Dogs & Carmen Wing aka Whoopidoo
Before the rain and after - Sheltering from the rain :)
This definitely made me smile - Whenever I'm in London, I love to partake of a pasty from the West Cornwall Pasty Co stand on Victoria station. Mmmmm.  This, along with probably the biggest cup of coffee I've ever seen, definitely revived me on the train journey home.
Whoopidooings: Yummy scrumptious West Cornwall Pasty Co - Cheese & Onion pasty
Salty, delicious cheese & onion in case you're wondering.
Who am I kidding? The train hadn't even left the station and this was all gone! Cor blimey - it was good!

Self-employment Progress...

Well, there is some. Progress that is. I've half completed my business plan, fully completed and submitted a personal cash flow forecast and have still to do some other maths (urgh) related paperwork. The paperwork, I feel like I'm just repeating myself  but my 'business broker' (I prefer mentor so that's what I'm calling her) seems to think it's all going well. Apparently my tendency to waffle and expand on things is helping me on this occasion. Her words were that I'm "going to be a doddle." So that can only be good, right?

I have another appointment with the Job Centre chap next week and her again the week after and then the workshops start. She reckons I will be up and running by October. By that I think she means without her involvement - unless I need her. Yikes.

This adulting is flipping scary stuff - and it all seems to be happening around the same time - uni in September and my own boss by October. Sheesh!

Slight pause there to go make a calming cup of tea. Yes I know millions of people do this stuff every day. I do have moments of panic and massive self-doubt. Only moments, don't all jump on me for being a Negative Nelly. 100% will work my bum off to make this all work. But crikey - there's moments when I'm quaking in my size 9's.

I think it's the time element that is scaring me more than anything. Knowing where I have to be and when. Leaving uni at lunchtime every day to be back in time for school pick up, getting work not done at uni done at home, doing the self employment side of things inbetween it all and doing that well so that it sustains us... Making the most of uni, progressing and getting better. I hope I can do it. I do know I have an amazing network of support.

Some Quickie Smiles: 

  • The diary bought from Poundland last week has been brilliant for aforementioned planning and knowing where to be and when. Making much use of it. 
  • Sarah loaned me two Doctor Strange graphic novels. Whoop! Getting those read before I watch the Benedict Cumberbatch film.
  • Cooler weather - I'll take the rain... I got the little Bear out of bed to see a rainbow the other night :)
  • My workshop/studio/garage - it's finally getting used lots!
  • Danish Blue cheese on malt loaf! Joy on a plate.
Apologies for the picture, it was dark. What? It's not weird to eat blue cheese on malt loaf in the dark while binge watching NCIS! Shut up!

  • Catching up on my reading while on the train up to London. 
  • Instagram chats
This week I shall leave you with Blue October. This is one of my favourites at the moment. I enjoy singing it dramatically to Roo, complete with exaggerated breathing, wide eyes and deep voice. She hates the song. I love it. I am a wonderful mother. I will say, singing the song the same way quite loudly, alone, in a parked car at a petrol station and not realising that a) your window is open and b) there is a police car next to yours also with their window open... Well lets just say the police in my area have a sense of humour. (I happened to be at the clutching my chest,  heavy breathing and crazy eyes part when I turned and noticed them there. Um...)

Thanks for stopping by today - didn't quite make posting on Friday... but Saturday afternoon isn't so bad :) How has your week been?

WOYWW - The Paperwork Edition

Greetings fellow desk surfers. I'm not showing the outside desk today because I haven't been out there all week. However hot the weather is, it's at least 5-10 degrees hotter in the workshop. Even the fan is not cutting through the sweltering heat.

I present the upstairs desk, it's pretty uninspiring today. I'm doing paperwork at the moment. Got to be done.
So on on the desk you can probably see:
  • My breakfast
  • The increasingly precarious book pile (New bookshelf is definitely on the list of things to save for, will fit it in somewhere!)
  • On screen is the Creative Push podcast site which I highly recommend. I'm listening to podcast number 217 - Illustrator, Shane Madden.
  • The jiffy bag holds a new book. Not for me Guv, I swear. It's a birthday present I have to wrap... having said that, it's a very cool typography book and yup, it will eventually be repurchased for here. Research! Essential purchase. Right? Right?
  • Calendar - I have to write down absolutely everything - memory is a shocker! I swear if I could hold on to information I'd be unstoppable. As it is, I bumble through life trying to remember why I am where I am.
Any other questions just shout in the comments. If you'd like to see what other creatives have on their workdesks, tables, floors, counters right now then you are in good company. Head on over to Julia's place for a link list and have a good old snoop with the rest of us.

Thanks for stopping by today :)

Rocking My World Friday - The Fifth

(TL;DR: Swings, grunge, a gallery visit & beginnings of a film obsession - I feel it in my bones!)

You Guys! I have to start by saying thank you - I seem to be saying that an awful lot lately. Kinda have to, can't think of what else to say. You probably know by now I don't have much of a brain:mouth filter or, in the case of these posts, brain:keyboard. Believe it or not they are heavily edited before I hit post. Like, humungously edited. And they are still a massive brain fart on the screen.

For example, I just deleted and rewrote this whole beginning bit about five times. Last time now - it's staying in. Last week after my post went live I got a couple of messages saying it made people smile, well that makes me smile. It's a chain reaction see? I want you to know you are appreciated. I have been accused in the past of being cold and unfeeling, emotionless. I have talked before about the walls I have built up. They are coming down I think but it takes time. They took so long to put up. I haven't been emotionless in the past I just learnt not to show emotion. It's a different thing. So many people walk around this world feeling like no-one sees them or values them. I'm guilty of losing people and them never knowing what they meant to me. I'm trying to become a better person and these days I try to let people know that I see. Just sometimes still can't quite physically say it or will make a joke. So I'll send you a message or write you a blog post instead. I'll keep finding ways to say it. Thank you.

Anyway, enough mushiness. Other than you, what else made me smile this week?

Well, this happened...
Whoopidooings: RMWF - The Swing
Moving swiftly on - I spent a lot of time in my happy place making a grungy mess. All hail The Grunge! Yes this means more zombies are coming. Ah, it's been to long. I've kind of got an idea in my head that I want to play around with after this one. (This is a commission! Whoop!) A way to meld my love of grunge with my love of clean lines too... we shall see. We shall see. (Wishing I had a cat to stroke ponderingly, with an air of menace.) 
Whoopidooings: RMWF - Artists Hand
Pan's Labyrinth. I have wanted to watch this film for years and it's just never happened. I even have it on DVD. I think I was just waiting for someone to watch with me but it's never been one that appealed to anyone else. I found it on Netflix the other night. I was on my own, in the dark and I watched it. And I loved it.  Beautiful, dark, provocative and enchanting. It will stay with me for a long, long time.

 I so wish I had seen this on the big screen.
Quentin Blake has a new show on at the Jerwood in Hastings. he is one of Roo's favourite illustrators so guess where we went on Saturday?
Whoopidooings: RMWF - Gallery
This exhibition was so much bigger than the last one of his we saw. There is a phenomenal body of work there, all completed this year. The title is The Only Way to Travel and it was amazing. It was so lovely watching her examine these pictures and say what she thought was happening in them and even commenting on what she thought he'd used to create certain effects. Some of the pieces were huge too - in the write up Mr Blake comments that he doesn't see why illustrations shouldn't be as big as oil paintings. Boy, does he go there and then some. Seeing his work in real life, it amazes me how he can get so much expression into so seemingly few lines.
If you can get to Hastings I really recommend the exhibit, it's on till Sept the 15th. At times whimsical and fun and then you turn a corner into thought provoking, sinister and sad. Definitely reminded me of things happening around the world right now and I didn't expect that. Or to feel how I did when seeing some of the paintings. 

While there we looked around the rest of the gallery. I loved this write up about another artist. I thought some of you would too - especially you Virginia. Didn't she just have an amazing ethos? Celebrating the everyday. Makes me smile every time I read it.
Picture was taken with permission. Thank you lovely American curator guy - because he wasn't sure if it was on the website. I've since checked and it is but am not comfortable nicking a screenshot from there. So here's my dodgy blurry photo and if you'd like a proper read - go here.

I love how they designed this place, even the windows seem to be a frame for the outside world. A lot of thought has gone into the placement of them, don't you think?
Whoopidooings: RMWF - Jerwood Gallery
Whoopidooings: RMWF - Jerwood Gallery
Someone, who shall remain nameless (but whom maybe has a tendency to waffle) decided it would be a good idea to walk back to Nanna's by way of that hill. Not by the tram lift. Oh no. Lets do the stairs. Ho hum.
Whoopidooings: RMWF - Hastings
I think Roo might just about have forgiven me. It was a lovely walk to be fair. Kids these days, no stamina.
The relationship between the Bear and the Bird. This particular bird, Lumpy. It's pure love. I think it's mutual - do you?
Whoopidooings: RMWF
I seem to have developed insomnia. It started a few months ago - I think it's insomnia. I am absolutely knackered but I cannot sleep so I lay awake zoning in and out and sometimes I'm not sure if I've been asleep and am now awake or if I've been awake the whole time. I've tried going to bed early, going to bed later, taking a nap during the day, not napping. Changing what I drink - cutting down on my tea, no screen time before bed, more screen time. Reading, not reading... you get the drift. I've tried stuff. Anyway - it gets to the point that I'm so tired I will stop talking mid-sentence thinking I've finished what I said. Or, the new thing, I'm now talking gibberish. Well - more than usual. Apparently the other day I said something along the lines of "have you been to the iron works lately?" What? In my head I said something completely different. The iron works? Where did that come from? So my positive out of all this (Yes, there is one) is that I've decided I must have had a previous life in Victorian times and it's seeping through my sub-conscious. Really - only logical explanation wouldn't you say? Could get interesting. Just wait till September when things get really manic. Oh boy - there's going to be some crazy arsed crap coming out of this sub-conscious then! Maybe I should literally gag myself... and draw! Oooh - might get some good material out of this. Double positive!

Just coming back to this post a day after writing that insomnia bit. I have had the Pan's Labyrinth soundtrack playing for a good while this evening and am so chilled out and calm. I wonder if I let it play through the night if it would help. I may have to get the CD at some point so I can play it in the car. Have a listen - it's beautiful. Otherwordly - that lullaby...
The Doctor Who finale was so good. We've been left hanging. I wont say anymore as I know some people haven't seen it yet. Peter Capaldi has been my Doctor - I don't want him to go :(
Whoopidooings: RMWF - Doctor Who - Peter Capaldi
It's Wednesday night now and I'm just going to stop saying these posts will get shorter. Quite plainly they wont. 

Here's a few quickies to finish up:
  • Bananas gone over ripe in the heat means banana bread! Nommy nom!
  • The job centre man for being really very helpful at my appointment this week - still moving along nicely. Another appointment with the self employment peeps next week.
  • Someone coming to me for help! Because, get this, I am "into unusual and creepy things!" I was able to help someone! Yes! Get in! An excuse to continue reading the weird stuff I read. Glad I am on another persons list of people with (albeit questionable) knowledge as so many of you are on mine. (Though yours is invaluable.)
  • Devvie is home for a few days. We watched Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them. Really enjoyed it - finally seen an Eddie Redmayne film! Yes, he is such a good actor - I can see what all the fuss is about now.
  • Started exercising again, had stopped due to the hot weather. Back had started niggling again this week so there's proof I need to continue. Feels good to be trying again.
It's Thursday now - the day after starting exercising again. Oh my god I'm buzzing!  I only did 20 minutes on the wobble board last night! I feel so energised this morning! Dropped the kids off, headed to town to pick up some shopping and a quick trip to the library. (Rude not to!) Picked up a coffee, headed to the beach for a 20 minute chill. Beach empty because it's only 9am. Tide in. Gorgeous breeze. Coffee. Sound of the sea. Good book. Total utter bliss.  Recharged and positively bouncing now. 

A collared dove just landed on my window, poking his head in, watching me type. Yes, I'm smiling.
Whoopidooings: RMWF - Nosy collared dove
Excuse the state of the window, the starlings drop moss on there.
Being in the roof it's hard to clean
Oh, what books did I pick up at the library? Is that what I hear you say? Well, I'm glad you asked...
Whoopidooings: RMWF Library books
Library haul.
They all looked so good, I had to bring them home. The Marvels was a reservation - it's very shiny. All gold on the cover and down the edges of the pages. Not that I judge a book by the cover at all, you understand. (I so do!) The other two just jumped into my bag.
In previous posts I have shared what music I have been listening to during the week. This week it's been pretty much solidly the Pan's Labyrinth soundtrack when I'm in the house,  I find myself humming it when I'm out of the house too. I might have to watch the film again and maybe dabble in some form of arty homage... remember when I got obsessed with Coraline? I think this may be worse. No duckies this time though! It's to hot to get all gluey.

Thanks as always for stopping by - how has your week been?

WOYWW - What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday

Good afternoon, evening or morning fair desk surfers.  I suspect you have landed here via What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday to see what's on my desk. So here we go...

First of all my bedroom desk - it's had a tidy believe it or not. I need a new bookshelf, just have nowhere to put one! I'm listening to the Pans Labyrinth soundtrack on Youtube as I type. The book on the mat is one I am trying to translate from French to English. I am a huge fan of the author and llustrator Amélie Fléchais and would like to be able to read the book as well as drool over the images.  It's slow going, my French is pretty non-existent but I think I'm getting the gist.
Next the desk out in my workshop. This is the view from the door - yep I've tidied here too. I'm learning if I tidy as I go I'm more inclined to go do stuff rather than just close the door on it all. It goes against all my natural chaotic instincts I tell you. But it works.
View from above. A few people wanted to see progress on the canvas I'd started building layers on last time. This is started on an old canvas that I wasn't happy with - it's a great way to build texture. And you know - waste not, want not. It will be cut off the frame and chopped down to make smaller pieces when I'm happy with the base. 
The last time I blogged my desk I had a few comments about people spying a dragon. Close! But no biscuit. What you actually spotted was my were-bat-bunny lino prints. Long story short, he was invented as the final piece to an Access to Art & Design course I did last year. I took inspiration from local animals and my love of folklore to create a new local myth. I had been printing up a fresh copy to donate to a charity raffle and the tile was fighting me all the way. Thank you though for all the lovely comments - I was grinning from ear to ear!

Thanks for stopping by today :)

ATC Swap - Paint Like a Woman

Please do not adjust your screens - this is, in actual fact, an arty post. Yes indeed. I'm playing catch up with things done but not shared.

Last year I took part in an ATC swap entitled Paint Like a Woman.We were provided a wiki list of women artists of the 20th Century. The idea was to learn about new to us artists and to learn some new techniques too. Because of that, we were not allowed to pick artists we already knew a lot about.

Having recently finished the Access course but not yet started the English GCSE, I was hungry to keep researching something, anything. And to keep that creative flame flickering. This was so perfect.

Weeks were spent going through every single person on that list. Every one. I found so many new artists to admire and some whose work I knew but didn't know their names. I noted down each one I'd like to look into further and then whittled that down to a shortlist - trying to go for four different styles. This research side of things was easily equally as much fun as the actual making. Really loved it.

These are the original artworks and the final ATC's inspired from them...

Whoopidooings: Carmen Wing ATC swap - Norah Nielson-Gray
Original - Norah Nielson-Gray - Mother and Child, oil on canvas
This one is based on Norah Nielson Gray (Mother and Child) The original is oil but I tried to achieve the same or similar effect with acrylic paint. I learnt the most from this one. I thought it would be a dead easy 3 colour job. Nope - ended up mixing the greys from red, blue, yellow and white and had to learn a LOT about using minimal brushstrokes to maximum effect. Not my forte. I may be a little in love with her now. 

This was the one I didn't want to send.

Whoopidooings: Carmen Wing: Norah Nielson-Gray inspired ATC
ATC - acrylic on card
Whoopidooings: Carmen Wing - Audrey Niffenegger Raven Girl
Original: Audrey Nifenegger - Raven Girl, engraving
This one is based on Audrey Nifenegger (Raven Girl) I didn't realise Audrey Nifenegger was an artist and illustrator as well as an author. I had loved her book The Time Travellers Wife so this was a pleasant surprise. This is an illustration  from her book Raven Girl, the original was engraved - I tried to create that effect using watercolours, fineliner and posca pen.
Whoopidooings: Carmen Wing - Audrey Niffenegger inspired ATC
ATC - watercolour, posca pens, fineliner on card
I went on to purchase the Raven Girl book, it's quite short, written and illustrated by Nifenegger. It is a very Grimm-esque tale. Needless to say I loved it.
Whoopidooings: Tove Jansson - Moomins
Original: Tove Jansson - The Moomins
Next up is Tove Jansson, illustrator and creator of The Moomins. I was aware of the Moomins growing up, they were kind of on the peripheral of my vision but I didn't really know much about them. I got a little obsessed with Tove Jansson while doing this ATC, there was a fascinating documentary on BBC iPlayer which is no longer there but, strangely an advert for it is. It gives a real flavour of the documentary - if you can find the programme anywhere, I recommend a watch. She was an extraordinary woman.  

I can't find for sure what was used in the original illustrations but I used watercolour and posca pens to try and mimic the effect.
Whoopidooings: Carmen Wing - Tove Jansson Moomins inspired ATC
ATC - watercolour & posca pen on card
Whoopidooings:  Frances MacDonald - Girl With Butterflies
Original - Frances MacDonald - Girl and Butterflies, watercolour (?)
The last ATC is based on the Frances MacDonald painting Girl with Butterflies. I believe the original is watercolour but I don't know for sure. It's just assumption based on what I read on websites while researching her. Apparently a vast amount of her work was destroyed by her husband (source) which is why she is not so well known as her contemporaries. I didn't do her justice, her style is deceptively difficult. However, Art Nouveau is one of the styles I admire most so I was glad to pay her a tiny homage in some way. 

I used watercolour, posca pens, graphite pencil and fineliner to try and achieve the effects she did.
Whoopidooings: Carmen Wing - Frances MacDonald inspired ATC
ATC - watercolour, posca pen, fineliner, pencil
I really enjoyed this swap, it was different than any other I have participated in with regards doing all the research and the amount I learnt, was drawn in to the back stories of the artists etc. I would definitely take part in something similar again. It also hammered home the need to study other artists and their techniques in order to hone in your own style and technique. As Austin Kleon would say - Steal Like an Artist!
Thanks for stopping by today :)