Silver Crow Project

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.

I hope you know how much you guys help. Putting up with when I email or message you, even if it's about something random at stupid o'clock in the morning because I can't sleep. Or sent you a word game because even though my brain is like "What? Words? At 2am? Nooo, crazy lady! You can have 3 letter words and that is all. Stupido!" You've calmed me down - just the act of writing the message (not expecting a reply at that time of night/morning I should add) even just knowing I can do that when sometimes it feels like I'm going  bat crap crazy... Or simply just want someone to talk to. You've helped. I hope I don't wake you up when I do it though. Tell me if I do. My phone is nearly always on silent or vibrate but not everyone does that... she says, just this second realising how annoying she might be... oops.

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?

Rocking Your World Friday - The Easier Layout Edition

Whoopidooings: Rocking Your World Friday - Art by Virginia Hoskings
The practise of positive thinking - retraining my brain, one smile at a time.

(TL;DR: Self employment update, thinking about a new blog, a graduation, a book and smiles) 

Hello - how have you been this week? I've been a little all over the place. Nothing new there you might say. I have been really tired, which has made me really... odd feeling. Still not sleeping well, though thank you for all the advice and tips I received in my inbox about that. That was a pleasant surprise - as a result I am looking into mindfulness and breathing techniques.

Mentorship Meanderings...

What's happened thus far? Well I had the appointment with  the self employment mentor and after working myself up into a right old state, am now on the program. So had nothing to worry about. She is lovely and she seems to like my plan of action. I don't know why I stress like I do. It's anything remotely exam-like or testing. I should do way better but I get so worked up and then fluff it through nerves, not lack of knowledge - or my memory lets me down. But I went armed with a notepad of bullet points so I was all good there. In your face, saboteur brain . I now have four full day entrepreneur/employment workshops over the next two months. Apparently the tutor is a psychologist so gets into all the nitty gritty of running a business and the money side of things - which is what I need. I have the idea - I don't know how to extract the cash ;) Looking forward to it.

Graduation Day...

A certain little Bear "graduated" from nursery this week. Next step - big school. He's been placed in the same class as his little friend group so he is really pleased and seems to like his new teacher. The nursery held a graduation ceremony which was really lovely. The same teacher has taught three of my kids and knows the eldest as well. At the last parents chat I told her I was going on to uni and starting a career of my own. When Bear finally leaves this school altogether I will have been walking to and fro that place for 20 years! She said that will have been the length of her career there! Madness.

I am so grateful to this school for so many reasons. They recently got Outstanding from Ofsted but they have always been that to me. Teachers both past and present have gone above and beyond what they are paid to do and I'll always be thankful. It's actually one of the few reasons I have never moved away.
whoopidooings: RYWF - Bear graduation

So, About That New Blog...

I've been looking into setting up another blog - yes, that old chestnut again. Hear me out though. I've been reading up about this self employment malarkey. And when Cam reads up on things that means questions aren't far behind. So, to all those that have been at the brunt of my pester power this week - thank you for your patience and your advice. Some online advice is to keep personal blogs mixed in with your arty stuff - people like to feel they are getting to know the artiste. Thus buying a piece of you as well as art. Not sure how I feel about that... I understand it - I follow enough artists and illustrators myself, I like getting a peek into their lives. Not sure how I feel about it being me.

Others advise to have a blog - kind of portfolio style, which is more professional. Should agencies *guffaws loudly* come looking. I get that. I know I have no filter and this blog offers way more than a peek into my life. I don't want to stop these kind of posts - they really do retrain my brain... and I feel like I'm talking with friends. Which, judging by the messages I get - thank you - for the most part, I am. I've said it before, I'll say it again. Most of the people I consider my very best friends were met via Blogland. But of course, other people who come via Pinterest or however else they find me, probably don't want to be sifting through my mind dumps to find the arty stuff. Separating the two and giving the option to come and read the ramblings instead of them being front and foremost... is kind of making sense to me.

So, this is a positive. I promise, not just a ramble. The first for my pester power victims. Gotta love you putting up with the "yes but what if..." questions I throw at you. Second, dusting off the rusty (very basic) html knowledge and having a play around is really getting my brain saying "what the actual flip are you doing woman?" Been all week, all week trying to figure out websites, wordpress, wordpress templates, free vs paid blahblahblahblahblah... (Oh I love it, you know I love the research! That isn't even sarcasm - that is the sad truth.)

Youtube has been my best friend this week. So much gratitude for the free tutorials on there. So much! And also you may notice I am dabbling with sub-headings. Breaks the text up when you are a rampant waffler don't you know. Oh yes indeed, I can now drone on even longer because I have broken it down for you. With sub-headings! Don't say I'm not good to you.  What do you think? Does it help?

I'll link to the new blog when it's up and running. At the moment it is still in pieces, bare bones, scattered everywhere. Me sat in the middle going "why? WHY?" I am a bit worried about building up followers again - has to be said. But hopefully, fingers crossed, it will be a case of build it and they will come.

Mandatory Book Mention

Book bargain of the week is this beauty. Found in the RSPCA charity shop and priced at a mere shiny £1.
whoopidooings: RYWF - Book purchase - Collins British Birds by John Gooders, Terence Lambert
Just look at the gorgeous illustrations inside - every page is popping with full colour paintings or beautiful line work. It fell open at the crow pages when I picked it up. You know what that is don't you? That's a sign - it was meant to be mine.
whoopidooings: RYWF - Book purchase - Collins British Birds by John Gooders, Terence Lambert

Some More Smiles...
  • Meeting up with two friends from my Access course. We haven't seen each other since the course finished a year ago! It doesn't seem possible. They both went on to their different degrees and I of course deferred till Bear finished nursery, started my English GCSE instead. We haven't had the time to see each other but this week just decided to do it. We were ladies wot lunched! It was fab, like we had just seen each other yesterday. We set the world to rights and talked of all things... but mainly arty stuff. That was so much fun! We've decided if nothing else we will definitely meet up yearly. Oh what news will there be next year!?
  • My lovely neighbour offering to bring me over a pot of tea during a power cut. Apparently my tea addiction precedes me. Luckily we were only off for about an hour so there was no need. Though if you'd heard the cheers and thunder of feet as the kids ran up to my PC, you'd think they'd been without internet for days!
  • A lovely friend sending me this cool postcard and back to school ephemera package because it was "Carmenish." I love that! Carmenish... code for weird? Creepy? I loved the package and the contents so much. But equally I just love that someone could look at something and it make them think of me - especially this kind of thing. Yeah - I actually am saying that I think it's cool decomposing skulls trigger thoughts of moi. Massive smiles.
whoopidooings: Creepy ephemera from Notes on Paper via Etsy.
  • The weather cooling enough (albeit for just one day) to allow me to wear a baggy oversized man jumper. They are my snuggly comfort blankets. I don't care what they look like. They don't even belong to a man - I lurk in the mens section just waiting to spot a reduced bargain and then I buy them up. I would say my winter jumpers are probably 80% mens jumpers... so are my shoes. Why should they have all the best designs? My jeans too - about 50% ...  My socks are 100% mens  but that comes with the giant feet. I'm waffling now. I'll stop. Suffice to say - I like mens clothes - especially jumpers! And socks. And shoes.
  • An amazing thunder and lightning storm - being in the attic makes it feel like I'm in the middle of it all!
  • Poundland for their Back to School range. Got a small diary to help me keep a track of where I need to be and when in September... and in life, generally! Going to put all my calendar bits in there. I will beat you, cursed memory! Also got a humongous pencil case which will be great for carrying paint brushes and paint pens. Lovely jubbly.
  • My bank writing to me to let me know they have reduced my overdraft through lack of use. This one is actually huge. When I was younger I got into a lot of debt. Through really bad life choices and bad money management - I actually lost my house. Over time and with a lot of support (I can't stress how much) I became debt free. It took a long time. If I want something now I save for it and I save hard. I don't use credit - the exception being my student loan. But that's to help me actually get on the career ladder finally. I have now been managing my finances completely on my own for the last year and a half. And the bank has reduced my overdraft through lack of use. I can't believe it. I'm so happy. So, so happy.
On a side note - you would be amazed at how many credit card applications are coming through my door recently - I don't know if it's anything to do with becoming a student. I shred them all. There needs to be better education in schools about this sort of thing.
  • ASDA for their always quirky and unusual homewares. I was shopping for teacher gifts for the kids and this accidentally leapt into the basket for my studio. Could it be any more me?  Only £2 as well, you can buy a whole set as a dinner service but I would be to scared to eat off it for fear of scratching it. I love having this little pretty out in the workshop though.
Whoopidooings: RYWF - Beautiful illustrated Forest porcelain plate from ASDA

And Finally...

Something a bit different for you this week. I think it's down to my increasing obsession with Pans Labyrinth but I fell down a bit of a lullaby wormhole on Youtube. I started off with my usual listen to the soundtrack, then I listened to the amazing Song of the Sea lullaby. I discovered this film last year while researching selkies. Now one of my all time favourite films not only outstandingly beautiful in it's own right, both visually and musically, but it also introduced me to the illustrator Amélie Fléchais. There were a loads more songs in-between, Enya, Enigma and Era all snuck in - bit of Bing Crosby... Slim Whitman, blimey I've listened to them all this week!  But the one I keep coming back to time and again is the one below. Mademoiselle Noir. I defy you not to feel something when you watch it.

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

Rocking My World Friday - What's New Pussycat?

Rocking Your World Friday - Art by Virginia Hoskings
The practise of positive thinking - retraining the brain, one smile at a time.

(TL;DR: Phobic friendly pressie, Tom Jones and foraging fun)

Hello you. Eurgh. I didn't start writing this post until Monday night. Already I am regretting not starting straight away on Saturday, immediately after the last one. So much easier to write each evening than in a big block like this. Memo to self - don't do it again. It's been to damn hot and also I've been busy - that's a good thing though - right? Nah - am so worried for September! That's going to be chaos - so much chaos! Total utter freak out time!

Here we go - I need to set up this first smile with a little back story. Otherwise it's going to seem like someone massively insulted me when in fact it was quite the opposite. I can't remember if I've ever talked about this phobia. This one started when I was a teen, involving someone sitting behind me on a very jerky bus ride home from my youth training scheme. From that day to this I have had a very real phobia that I smell. This one particular smell. I have a problem with being to hot anyway (I know, I hide it well.) The heat thing is probably from growing up in Scotland - used to a cooler climate. However, as well as not liking being to hot - I really hate to sweat. Because sweat smells and links into this particular phobia. It got so bad at one point when I was younger, pre-children, that I was having up to 4 baths a day. One in the morning, one when I got home from work, one if I was going out and another when I got home again. That was the height of it. I am nowhere near as bad now, I have it under control these days. As long as no-one tampers with the way I make myself smell. The fragrances that give me comfort in the knowledge that if I do whiff it's of ice-cream and cupcakes. (So I've been told. By little children and random strangers who sniff me in the bank queue.) I have favourite combinations, my morning and afternoon rituals, as long as I can wear them, I have my anti-pong armour on. I'm fine.

Till maybe a company decides to discontinue one of said scents. A scent that constantly sells out I might add. Who does that? What marketing genius stops a line that is always selling out? One that should have their arse FIRED, that's who! I'm looking at you Impulse people. One of my daily scents is no more. I have messaged the Impulse people, very nice they were in suggesting one of their other beautiful aromas. *Insert crazed laughing and eye twitch* I replied that it wasn't the same. (IT'S NOT THE SAME! MUSK IS NOT VANILLA!!) And that I would be trying to buy up all their extra stock to tide me over until they realised their monumental mistake. They were very helpful, going to pass my concerns on in the hope that maybe there would be a reconsideration in the future. (And maybe to stop the crazy lady messaging them, now I think about it.)

I have been trawling the internet trying to find stocks at affordable prices because, obviously now that it's discontinued, people are charging crazy prices. Now, to my big cheesy smile. A parcel arrived, from a company I had found with limited stock. I'd ordered some last week and was hoping they would still have some in a week or two when I could afford to buy some more. But I hadn't ordered this box. There were 25 bottles of Impulse Vanilla Kisses inside. TWENTY FIVE!
Whoopidooings: RMWF Impulse Vanilla Kisses
*Angels choir*
Very long story cut not very short -- It transpired to be a very thoughtful gift from someone who knows me and my quirks all to well. I was seriously freaking out about this being discontinued, no lie. I know it's silly - I do know that. So, instead of this person laughing or making fun, which I kind of expected - they did this. I can honestly say this is one of the nicest gifts and most thoughtful gestures ever received. All safely tucked away and on ration. Thank you x
On Saturday we went to see this bloke...
Whoopidooings: RYWF - Tom Jones Canterbury
And let me tell you he blew our socks off! What an amazing, amazing performer! It was actually Devvie's idea to go! I'm so glad we did. He was one of Mums favourite singers and she would have loved it. The crowd was a real mix of ages. Devvie came back from a toilet break a little traumatised at seeing some "older" people getting a bit frisky. (Sorry, am sat here laughing as I type - just her face. Oh dear.) Safe to say - he's still got it. He was still having knickers lobbed at the stage and we were all up belting out the songs with him. Absolutely fantastic night.
Whoopidooings: RYWF - Tom Jones Canterbury
The support act was Into The Ark, the group he mentored on The Voice and they were really good too. Loved hearing it in the open air as well, have only been to one other open air concert and that was at Leeds Castle years ago when we took my Mum to see Pavarotti. She had growled at me and my friend to behave when Ole Sole Mio came on. We had inhaled deeply, ready to belt out the cornetto version and she cut us off before we could utter a peep. Flaming cheek. I had great pleasure in singing "he's only gone and had his weetabix" to Delilah on Saturday. Knowing full well she was up there, on a thundercloud, itching to slap me. Teehee. I did nearly face-plant the pavement on the way back to the car. It could've been the dodgy slabs... Or it could have been celestial revenge... Who knows.
"Get the stage in Devvie!"
I never knew they did shows at this ground and it's one of the most organised I've been to. Roads surrounding the area were closed at the end to aid people leaving. There were people with loud hailers directing where to go. It was really reasonably priced for tickets - around £45ish each. These days - that's cheap. We only paid £1 parking at the local park & ride and that included a bus to the ground and back - though it was mobbed on the way back so we walked the short distance to the car park. I will definitely be keeping an eye on their listings in future.
We found a blackberry bush laden down with fruity treasure!
Can't tell you how many a certain little Bear scoffed, more than went in his tub that's for sure!
  • Listening to Your Creative Push Podcasts. Discovered via Instagram a while ago. Different creatives - illustrators, fine artists, photographers, musicians etc giving interviews on how to be the best you can be. 'Tis really good. 
  • This plant...  Look at the bloom - doesn't it have the air of smug arrogance? Take that urbanisation. Laughing in the face of concrete. Nature win.
  • I'm not a fan of icepoles generally but I have now discovered Tip Top Freezepops! Their Pear Drops and Kola Kube flavours! Oh my! Taste of my childhood in ice form. Absolutely delish. And refreshing too. Yum! Icelands - £1 a box. Bit of a reviving saviour this week.

  • It's Tuesday night now and it's raining. the air smells lovely and the breeze coming in my window is sublime.
  • I've just realised I can smell the rainy air! Have developed hayfever this year (I know! At 40!) It's showing in the form of a loss of my sense of smell and sometimes taste and a bit of a cough. When I do get wafts break through it's a lovely surprise! (As long as it's a nice waft!)
  • Youtube for all the music and tutorials - I use it a lot and it should really feature every week. It really helps me discover new artists both musically and artistically and also allows me to go on long nostalgia trips. Couldn't do it if I had to buy the CD's (am so not a digital download girl!) BUT in saying that it also helps me decide what to spend those pennies on when I am buying new music. Am slowly getting all of Blue Octobers back catalogue of CD's. Where did I discover them? YouTube. I wont tell you how any books have been added to my wishlist because of reviews on there. You don't want to know.
I'm taking part in a seven day free challenge run by Amira Rahim to help people get the most out of instagram. At the time of writing this I'm only on day two but am already getting more out of it than just improving my instagram feed. Thinking about what our favourite tools and materials are and thinking how to share this in a picture... I already know that I'm a flutterbye creatively - I fall in love and am distracted so easily. Ink drawings, realistic, cartoon style, clean lines, messy - print - lino carving, watercolour (oh how I want to master watercolour... you mysterious medium, you.) Thinking about this today - I don't think I'm ever happier than when it's just me and the paint. No brushes, hands in there, smooshing it about, pushing it into the textured areas and just seeing what happens.
Whoopidooings: RYWF - Artists Hands
*Happy sigh*
No matter how I admire other peoples styles... I'm coming to realise that I am Grunge with a capital G. Usually with a creepy folkloric element.  And maybe I should just embrace that - is this me realising who I am creatively? Do I carry on experimenting with other styles? I'll probably have to at uni anyway - it's a ponder moment for sure. In a good way though. Another ponder moment - when you try and be girly for the first time in a while and put clear nail varnish on... And then you go scrunching your hands through mounds of acrylic, squeezing it through your fingers... when that acrylic then has some kind of reaction with the nail varnish and welds itself to your nails... Um... What do you do when you have an appointment with the employment mentor the next day? Any advice? I should not do the girly stuff - it never goes well. As in art, so in life - grunge!

*edit* It's OK, it's all good. I am now onto the next phase of the self employment ladder. I have been put forward for the program and by my next meeting I will have completed a business plan and financial forecast and I'm going on 4 full day business workshops. (I'm adulting! It's flipping scary stuff! But exciting!)

This week I've gone back to George Ezra. Look - I have limited CD's in my car and he has a gorgeous, gorgeous voice. Leave me be... I leave you with this one - sorry George the video is rubbish and doesn't fit the song. But the song... I might have had that on repeat this week. Just maybe.

Thanks for stopping by today - 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. From my post last week, a few that it was aimed at got what I was trying to say and I'm glad. 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. To 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 :)