Tuesday, 7 September 2010
Wednesday, 11 August 2010
The school summer holidays roll on & tumbleweed blows around my blog. I've been doing that 'being busy but seemingly achieving nothing' thang that parents know oh so well.
Ellie has begun to ask me for memories of the Brood as babies & toddlers, but I haven't yet dared to confess that so much time passed in a blur of nappies, feeds, washing machine loads, post-natal depression and then full blown bipolar, that my recollections are faulty & a little blurred around the edges. This feels me with guilt - it's as though the absence of memory represents a form of neglect! After all, wasn't it my intention to be a fabulous parent and to bring something fresh & vibrant to this child-rearing lark? I was going to do things differently - why I even had delusions of perfection! Well ha ha, the joke's on me - the grind got to me and I am instead a faulty, guilt-ridden parent. But they're loved, adored & cherished and I feel ever so certain that they know this even in their bones.
Of course the idea of being a perfect parent is a mirage - the only thing you can realistically hope for is to be, what John Cleese & Robin Skynner described in their excellent book, 'Families and How to Survive Them' 'a good enough parent'. So as this imperfect parent didn't manage to keep her baby books & photo albums in pristine, lucid order, the wannabe good-enough parent is going to trawl through her diaries, journals and notebooks in order to find the notes & scribbles she dashed off about her Brood.
A six month old Tom in diapers & dungarees - scribbles dashed off in between his cries and mine!
I thank Lord Dodo of Dodo Towers for his gift to the busy family of the splendid five column Dodo diary - without the help he's given us during these past years I wouldn't be able to rummage through old diaries and find the landmark dates that Ellie wants me to remember. Ah yes, Ellie's first steps. Wow, I actually remember that day!
Wednesday, 4 August 2010
I ♥ the Advanced Style blog which features, amongst others, the fabulous designer & artist Debra Rapoport. As a die-hard fan of hats and wannabe adherent of the rule that 'more is not enough', her lavish sense of style fills me with rapture. Watch out Brood because the older I get, the more exotic plummage I intend to adopt. As the ladies & gentlemen featured in Advanced Style prove, the older you get, the more fabulous you can become. Beauty is most definitely not the preserve of the young!
I was feeling glum, raddled & gloomy until I watched Debra's videos on YouTube. Allow me to share a few of my favourites with you...
Monday, 2 August 2010
Whilst you're there, check out the other fascinating podcasts available at 'Notes from the Voodoo Lounge'! Artists from a variety of disciplines such as Roz Stendahl, Wendy Hale Davis, Michael DeMeng, Melanie Testa, Diana Trout, Bernie Berlin, Pamela McCarville, Richard Salley & Ricë herself talk about their artistic careers & challenges, all the time offering us nuggets of inspiration to contemplate.
Now, have you bought Carla's book yet? I also have two more books for you to check out when you're next visiting your chosen book store? Ricë's books are the perfect fodder to nourish your creative juices with - go & squeeze them out!
Wednesday, 28 July 2010
Saturday, 24 July 2010
For the first time today, I used Google Earth to access some of the masterpieces housed in the Prado in Madrid. Looking at the 'Descent from the Cross' by Rogier van der Weyden in such close and staggering detail moved me beyond words. The stricken face of the swooning Madonna is a harrowing portrait of maternal grief. She's on my computer screen in miraculous close-up - I can see how van der Weyden painted the tears with shadows & highlights, yet on the other hand I can't. My brain simply won't accept that something this raw is artifice. Oh, the extraordinary power of art!
If you would like to venture into the Prado for yourself, this link will show you the way.
Friday, 23 July 2010
As evening approaches, the sun turns the unmown heads of the long grass in the valley snowy white in the lens.
Remind me to show you some of our sunsets - our house faces west. We are lucky, lucky people to share our lives with the sky.
Thursday, 22 July 2010
I'm getting very excited as the utterly brilliant Kate McKinnon is adding the finishing touches to her DVD set, 'A Workshop In Fine Silver' Soon, I hope to lay my hands on a copy and suck all the lavish, luscious juice out of it. Kate's gifts as a teacher are LEGEND & as she talks and writes like an archangel, an extraordinary experience awaits you. I have all her books, including her latest, 'Sculptural Metal Clay Jewellery'. I owe you a book review for this volume and the accompanying DVD, but for the moment let me just say that it is SO magnificent that I'm going to be dictatorial and say 'go, buy!' I'm not on commission so this is an entirely altruistic prod. If you want to learn how to handle metal clay safely & sensibly and make deliriously beautiful, well-constructed jewellery, then this is the book for you. If you're interested in Wearable Art, then this book should be by your bedside because the lavish illustrations will deliver you into a trance fuelled by the most entrancing dreams.
I stick to Kate's books like a leech - is it any wonder? I learnt much of what I know about making jewellery from my copy of her 2003 Project Workbook (which is now in a ragged but highly venerated state) and now that she's releasing a set of DVDs, I'm going to be able to set her up on my computer & have Kate sit by me on the workbench. If I fall, I know that Kate will have answers for me because she thinks things through. I have a few books about metal clay, but most are simply a list of instructions which don't make many allowances for the questions of a beginner. I don't want, 'Do this, do that.' I want to know the whys and what-ifs and maybes too! I know from the DVD which accompanies 'Sculptural Metal Clay' how well Kate addresses the practicalities of a beginner's situation - I rejoice to hear phrases such as 'this might happen'. Kate drips confidence into your ear!!
And just look at the pieces that she makes...
What an extraordinary artist Kate is! Let her teach you too!
Tuesday, 20 July 2010
I send grateful thanks to Jean Yates for alerting me to this extremely interesting article. Anything that might aid an early diagnosis is CRUCIAL!!
Sunday, 18 July 2010
More blog love!! Seth Apter of 'The Altered Page' (which is an immensely enjoyable read) is conducting a Buried Treasure 2010 collaboration in which he is encouraging people to search through their archives and repost some of their favourite articles. May I in particular point you in the direction of Danny Gregory's blog. The Slow=Know post is a particular favourite of mine - indeed a printed copy of it sits inside my Moleskine pocket.
Three cheers for Seth!!! Three cheers for Danny!!! And three cheers for Moleskine for putting pockets in their journals which is a throughly well thought out idea - I do so approve of thoroughly well thought out ideas! Anyone got any spare ones I can borrow?
Talking of archives, should you ever wish to look into mine, I've added a list of topics (or 'Labels' as Blogger rather irritatingly refers to them) that I regularly talk about, to the sidebar on the right-hand side. Go down past the list of places which I visit when I'm feeling curious, past my profile and there before you is my list of 'Labels'. Grrrr - I hate labels!
Saturday, 17 July 2010
A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that my stress levels were on the increase again & that my brow was settling into a state of permanent furrow. I guess I could have solved this with industrial strength wrinkle cream & a chill pill, but instead I reached for a new book, 'Drawing Lab for Mixed Media Artists' by Carla Sonheim. Oh boy - THIS IS FUN! This book is packed to the brim with imaginative ideas designed to help you to learn how to develop your drawing skills & broaden your creativity. It's not a stiff drawing course - it's a lavishly illustrated fun factory, full of experiments & prompts that will inspire & feed you. It's so full of juice that I defy anyone not to find something that inspires them & sends them scampering off to gather up their favourite art materials. If you're in a drawing rut or feeling artistically blocked, then this book may well be able to coax your brain cells into exciting, exhilarating action again.
This isn't a children's book but I'm very grateful to have discovered it prior to the start of the long summer school holiday. There are ideas aplenty for each member of my Brood, whether it be creating imaginary creatures with 10 year Lula, developing illustrations & collage with Ellie or looking at life drawing with 16 year old Tom. I'm going to pack 'Drawing Lab' in our holiday luggage so that we can take it out sketching with us when we're out on the prowl in Devon & Cornwall.
As this book explores creative thinking in tandem with drawing matters, I think Carla's book will empower me to delve deeper into my imagination. It will be interesting for me to see anything 'rubs off' on my jewellery!
Carla's blog can be found here. Another art blog I'd like to recommend is UK artist Sarah Wilde's 'Curious Crow'. Sarah is another summer holiday saviour as she is currently on Day 17 of a Sketchbook Challenge which is so fascinating that the Brood & I are going to trace her journey as soon as they break up from school. Don't forget to check out the sidebars on Sarah's blog! There you will find links which will take you to her sketchbooks & art journals - I find her Non-Dom Hand Sketches both mind-boggling & enthralling! Go, see, enjoy :-)
Can I squeeze in a quick mention of a blog that sees me through moments of stress? Henrik Edberg's The Positivity Blog is a little gem that dispenses sensible advice that's easy to read & follow. It's neither preachy nor sanctimonious - I heartily recommend it!
And now for the chair....
Oh husband of mine! I know you won't probably won't read this, but if we win the lottery, please could I buy the stripey Louis patchwork chair for my Shack? If I had this chair, I would curl up in it to read & you wouldn't see me for hours. Just think - you'd have the kitchen to yourself & be able to make as much mess as you desire whilst cooking. This chair by clever Kelly Swallow would keep me out of what's left of your hair ;-)
Your Shack Hag xox
Wednesday, 14 July 2010
I'm not as organised as I once was because I've filled life up with other things during my spell adrift from the world. There's my mark-making for one thing. I prefer not to call the mess I make 'drawing'. I LOVE to make marks, but as I don't want to make myself bitter & resentful for not turning in the perfect, presentable work I think of as drawing, I stick with mark making & my search for that one perfect, zen-like line that we can all achieve every now and then. It happens. And when it happens, it feels remarkable - all puns intended!! It's why I enjoy blind-contour drawing - the pressure is off and that line you've been longing for, seems to offer itself up much more readily when your eye's on the subject and your hand is freed from the judgement of your ocular article.
This week I've been making marks with my new Pentel Pocket Brush Pen which is used to extraordinary effect by such wonderful artists as Roz Stendahl. I've used brush pens before ( hello Sakura), but this is a real wayward beauty which offers a different experience to the others I've tried. I love it for it's a real Zen pen but it's going to take some time to get used to it.
Here's me struggling with my new pen, trying to get to grips with Gussie, our border terrier puppy.
What's with the neck?
Forgive me for slipping in a ghastly old photo of a pastel of mine from days gone by, but for the sake of family record, I can't have Gussie in this post without also including the best friend a lass could ever have had. A beautiful girl - no longer by my side, but forever in my heart!
Tuesday, 13 July 2010
Monday, 12 July 2010
I had my wrist grabbed today! And, as is usual when this happens, it was because I was sporting some rather delectable beads. Clare Scott's dazzling 'Continuum' art glass beads arrived in the mail last week ( along with some other dazzlers) and I was so entranced by the way these beauties toy with the light that I set my heart on making a chain bracelet. As I'm a bead-fondler & a colour-junkie, I have a habit of holding art glass up to the light in order to suck up the colours - with the movement afforded by chain bracelets, they're an ideal vehicle for captivating, light-manipulating beads.
There's a tender aqua & an exhilerating purple at work in these beads (which sadly I couldn't adequately capture in my photographs, but Clare has, so scoot off to her website or Etsy & take a closer look). These colours tickled my memory bank so into the bead trays I dived and I surfaced with a collection of ceramic beads by Emma Ralph. I then scattered handfuls of silver and rainbow amethyst tubes into my lap and started work on the bracelet which you now see before you.
The lady who grabbed my wrist made my day! Having your jewellery examined in such a complimentary fashion is a boost and a half! On so many levels, creating jewellery is a therapeutic occupation & I thoroughly recommend it!
Sunday, 11 July 2010
One enjoyable facet about creating your own jewellery is that you can freshen up your jewellery box whenever you wish. Haven't worn that bracelet in an eon even though the beads are a dream? Then take it apart, Dear Reader and revive & revamp.
This is how Saucy came about. I was looking at some delicious borosilicate beads which were languishing in a pair of tired earrings that were buried in the bottom of my jewellery box and the cruelty of my neglect finally shamed me into setting them free. And wouldn't you know it - as soon as I had liberated them from their old setting, a fresh idea occurred to me & I ran to my bead trays and got out these gorgeous saucers by Emma Ralph. I now have a pendant whose colour I revel in so much that, when I'm not wearing it, it's on permanent display in my study. It's a zinger!
Roll up, roll up, roll up. Head on over to Jean Yates' blog & read about her first selection of favourite jewellery designers. 'The Jean's List' is to become a regular feature on her blog and I'm looking forward to reading it immensely! What Jean doesn't know about jewellery design could be written on the back of a gnat so join her followers and make sure you don't miss any of her posts. I'm extremely honoured & bowled over to feature in her first selection which also includes Naomi Fujimoto, Cynthia Thorton & Margot Potter - how's that for glamourous company!!
So, keep reading her blog because next time, it might be you!!
Wednesday, 7 July 2010
My computer is behaving very badly & thus it's got to go to the doctor for a few days which is infuriating as I was planning to share some photos of my bead trays & assorted tins of titivating titbits with you this week. That would have meant looking at ravishing work by such art bead luminaries as Emma Ralph, Laura Sparling, Beverley Hicklin, Melanie Moertel, Sally Carver, Helen Brodt-Savage, Heather Powers, Melanie Brooks and many more.
I also have a rather tasty bracelet to photograph which features beads by Emma Ralph & Clare Scott, together with that Saucy pendant I've been talking about. But alas, my plans are blighted.
There's no doubt about it - this is a bad hair day!! I hope to see you very, very soon!!
By the way, if you're ever looking for a tin to store your semi-precious stones or silver findings in, why not pay Emma Bridgewater a visit? There are things in her shop which, in my humble opinion, are irresistible!
Tuesday, 6 July 2010
During the recent Glastonbury Festival, I was lazing one 'Sunny Afternoon' & singing along with Ray Davies. Julie Fountain's beads were on my mind as I was planning to make a variation of one of my Leather Garland necklaces using some of her summer-themed beads. It suddenly struck me that the most obvious name for this knotted necklace was 'The Kinks' !
Whilst you're here, if you want to join me in a rendition of 'Waterloo Sunset', here are the lyrics. I could warble this when the summer grass in the meadow was taller than I!
Monday, 5 July 2010
A sterling silver wire & leather necklace featuring not one, not two, but three sets of beads by UK glass artists Laura Sparling & Josephine Wadman. Laura's conch shells and Josephine's scallops & decorated rounds are partnered by a set of Laura's famous 'Kamino' beads together with a smattering of wood for added organic accent.
Friday, 2 July 2010
Namaste Dame Beryl! I hope you meet Samuel Johnson & all your other boys in heaven!
I really enjoyed Rodrigo y Gabriella's set at Glastonbury last weekend - was it truly just a week ago? They also played there back in 2007 which was my first introduction to their music. Here they are playing 'Vikingman' - I LOVE Glastonbury crowds!
If you want to dance all day, these two will fill you with jumping beans. I'm performing my bi-annual Shack studio muck-out at the moment and Rodrigo y Gabriella are rocking the rafters for me!!
I've also been making jewellery using beads by Emma Ralph, Josephine Wadman, Laura Sparling & Julie Fountain. There's a saucy pendant, a funky leather & Lush Lampwork necklace which goes by the name of 'The Kinks' and some beach babe drapery which features beads by Josephine & Laura. When I finally pack my hoover away, I'll unearth the tripod & get clicking.
Wednesday, 23 June 2010
If you're as obssessed with jewellery as I am, may I recommend fordforlano's blog? Actually I can offer you even more juice because their website is ravishing (my knees have been trembling ever since I viewed the gallery) plus I have a video to share too.
Sunday, 20 June 2010
I love the luscious art beads that I use in my work with a passion. Because I'm not able to get out to any shows in person, I search out artists online and thus I rely heavily on the wonderful SRA scheme. If you want to avoid buying fakes or getting involved in scams, check out the SRA index and hunt for the logo. And then you'll be able to find ravishing beads like these by Emma Ralph!
Saturday, 19 June 2010
My Saturday nights have just got sadder & duller for the excellent Swedish detective series, 'Wallender' has ended its run on BBC4. It's the only programme I regularly watch so I'd be bereft were it not for the fact that I've found someone who can supply me with the DVDs. I didn't see the first series so I've got 13 more programmes to look forward to. Yippee!
I hope you enjoy Anna Trenheim's haunting theme music which sadly isn't available on CD. I've fallen for her charms so I'm now off to download her album, 'Leaving On A Mayday'.
With birthday week coming up ( Lula is ten on Wednesday, Ellie has an honourary on Thursday and Tom hits the big one six on Friday) I'm living in a flurry of wrapping paper. Having tussled with a sellotape dispenser that is refusing to dispense, yesterday I allowed myself time off for good behaviour and did a little light stringing. The result is 'Rosa & Co', a sweet little combo that would flatter any one's skin tone. I've added some blush pink Murano glass cubes & lashings of silver from Shiana to a truly delicious set of beads by the UK artist, Beverley Hicklin with the results you see before you.
Marghanita Laski's book is available from Persephone, one of my favourite bookshops. Jewellery and a good book - what more could one ask for on a Saturday afternoon? A working sellotape dispenser - that's what!!
Friday, 18 June 2010
Boo hiss that they didn't give the Wollaston Award to Gillian Ayres, though having said that, the winning piece is wondrous. No more spoilers here - you'll have to watch the programme to find out who won.
Thursday, 17 June 2010
Sunday, 13 June 2010
On Thursday 17th June, at 11.30pm. BBC4 are showing a documentary profile of Louise Bourgeois in the 'Imagine...' strand. If this programme makes it on to iPlayer later on in the week, I'll add the link so that anyone from overseas can watch it too.
Dear Reader, I send you warm greetings on this chilly summer's day!
Thursday, 10 June 2010
From Sunday morning to midnight yesterday, I managed a total of five hours sleep so I've been feeling very disorientated & restless during the past few days. Last night, my brain finally submitted and allowed me to sleep so I feel better today.
Now that a quieter place has opened up, I'm going to see if I can't paint it out. I think the trick is not to analyse it but to gently acknowlege it & see if it will work through. And I shall also count my blessings, for I am fortunate & have many.
Sunday, 6 June 2010
I've been wearing this bracelet with these scintilatingly beautiful beads by Emma Ralph for quite some time, but I'm now delighted to be able to partner it with this mix & match group of four earrings featuring Laura Sparling's famous Luminobeads. The earrings go by the name of 'Don't Tell Chris' - this posting from Laura's blog should explain why. I do hope Chris will forgive me ;-)
Just look what I've done with Helen Breil's stupendous focal beads! You're probably wondering why I've spilt the original setting (as seen on Helen's home page) apart. I promise that there is method in my madness. I purchased another stunning focal from Helen and, as I want to make maximum impact in a demi-parure of earrings and a collar, I decided to create these earrings in a sculptural form. I love wearing them; the line is so flattering to the neck. I call them 'The Peacocks' as they bob & weave in a similar way to the waltz of those stately fellows as they parade before shaking their tail feathers out. Once I've figured out how best to do justice to Helen's other dramatic, scene-stealing focal, I'll add a photo of the collar.
I have Emma Ralph to thank for the Harebell Ice beads in this set of earrings. At just over 6cms from the tip to toe, these are lovely & long. I'm heavily into dangly ear gear this year!!
Tuesday, 1 June 2010
Sunday, 30 May 2010
I'm an old fashioned photographer in that I know a fair amount as to how to manipulate a camera shot, but place me in front of Photoshop & I'm sunk even with the aid of the doorstop of a manual that I bought to help me negotiate the programme. I get a pain in the neck just lifting the manual up so Photoshop & I have remained strangers up until now. With the arrival of 'Digital Expressions: Creating Digital Art With Photoshop Elements' by the highly talented Susan Tuttle, all this has changed.
Susan's intention is to teach us how to create beautiful digital art, something I've yearned to learn about as I want to incorporate such images into the art journals I keep. But hold on for one tiny second. In her introduction, in a lovely, lucid format, she has taught me what I've been looking for a long time - how to start working with Photoshop Elements! My days of a pain in the neck are over. She then proceeds to take you deeper and in thoughtful, step by step detail & with clear, luscious illustrations, shows you how to create digital art with chapters devoted to manipulating images, painting & drawing, layering elements to create digital collages, merging images to create montage art and incorporating traditional art into digital works. There are 25 projects to follow and a bonus CD with goodies for you to play with.
This book is lavish - information, inspiration, techniques & ideas abound. This is the perfect introduction & springboard for those of you who want to learn how to create digital art. Read this book and then run with it. Susan is giving you the key to the door and is the perfect companion to usher you into the world of digital art. I'm enjoying playing with this book so much & would heartily recommend it.
Friday, 28 May 2010
Courtesy of the BBC, a televisual offering can be found here: 'Behind The Scenes at the Museum'
This film is the epitome of all that beautiful BBC2 & BBC4 do best. It's one man's look at the community who oversee the running of the Freud Museum in London. It may sound dull, but I can assure you it isn't! From the developing 'atmosphere' between upstairs & downstairs to the organisation of the dating evenings - yes, you really could meet the partner of your, ahem, dreams ( joke? get it?) and the delightful Freudian slip-pers in the museum's gift shop, this is an hour full of gentle delights.
Fancy making friends with the museum's official dog? Or does finding a lost painting by Lucien Freud appeal? If so, please watch and enjoy. Because you're worth it :-)
Wednesday, 26 May 2010
I'm a person of extremes and much as I adore succulent colour & a clashing contrast, I'm also a sucker for the pretty nudes & blush pink dresses that are currently walking down a High Street near you. And here is my solution to the 'What Should I Wear With That?' question; one that I hope would stand out in a crowd.
My fingers tiptoed through my bead trays until I alighted upon this set of beads by Dora Schubert. 'Parfait' as the French say, and then I went scurrying off to sift through my collection of pearls because nothing enhances skin tone better than the oyster's greatest gift to the world.
So here is 'Neutrality'. Could this be an answer to the question?
Jean Yates kindly reviewed this necklace in this post from her blog.