Life drawing and other life

Since my last post I’ve been keeping Thursday nights aside for art of some sort whether it’s screenprinting or life drawing or yesterday’s slight deviation from the theme – an evening of bunting making! We’re back into regular bunting parties now gearing up for Jess & Ben’s Wedding Mk. II.

After finishing my screenprinting course I had a few of the prints of our block that hadn’t come out so well and thought I would see if any of our neighbours wanted them rather than throwing them away, the response was so positive with lots of people asking me to do a second run – a really lovely reaction which I hadn’t anticipated! So a couple of weeks later I went back and did round two – this time a much larger batch in a much smaller timeframe but with no illness to hold me back and they came out brilliantly! A big improvement on the first lot in terms of consistency.

 

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I also managed to squeeze in a one off print for my dad’s birthday card – it wasn’t perfect (code for there’s a massive black splodge in the middle) but still, he was pleased all the same! Here it is along with a photoshop Birthday card that I also made that week.

 

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Life drawing has gone really well the past two sessions as well, on the first I went with just a pen and sketch pad andvery quickly relaxed into a style that I really liked – it felt like real progress.

 

On the second session I forgot my pen (doh) but having got such a feeling for working loosely with pen on the previous session I tried to take that style through into charcoal and was really pleased with how a lot of those came out too. I’m actually more used to working with charcoal but still feel like my drawing style can be quite variable so it was good to keep to a more consistent style across the two different media.

 

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In other news I’ve recently signed up for the Anthony Nolan bone marrow register – inspired by my wonderful friend Hannah who lost her equally wonderful mum last year. It’s really easy to get signed up and for 90% of donations the procedure is no more difficult than giving blood, please do check it out and see if it’s something you might be able to do.

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I had a lovely bit of post the other week from an old friend and brilliant illustrator Esther; she’s been making a feminist picture book celebrating body hair called There’s Hair Down There and very kindly sent me a couple of postcards! You can find out more about her here. We particularly enjoyed the Cold Comfort Farm envelope..

 

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I’ll leave you with a few photos from our last trip to Garthmyl – the house is looking fantastic at the moment with all the work mum and dad are having done on it and with the garden so lush at this time of the year. Adios!

 

Screenprinting: Day 3

My fantastic screen-printing course is over! I’m going to miss it, and the people on the course. It has been a complete inspiration though, and could well be the beginning of something really exciting. I’m certainly feeling very excited!

Here is the produce of Today’s work, with a little of the process.

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..and the finished product!

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Screenprinting: Day 2

The second day of screenprinting was only slightly marred by feeling like death all day. Actually it was entirely marred by it, however I managed to last the whole day and am supremely glad that I did! Regardless of spending half of the day sat in the corner with my eyes closed trying to imagine I was tucked up in bed.. I created something which I am really pleased with! Four of the 8 prints came out fuzzy – apparently due to putting too much pressure on the screen, but then that’s how one learns. Plus I have the excuse of being half dead. On that note – amazingly I went to bed still feeling like death last night and woke up feeling almost completely fine! No idea what that was, I’m putting the miraculous recovery down to macaroni cheese – Nick was a complete hero last night and surprised me by making a vast vat of the tastiest macaroni cheese on earth complete with cherry tomatoes and chorizo. This regardless of the fact that he hates both pasta and cheese! What a sweetheart. Anyway, here are the prints – stage one and stage two.

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Screenprinting – Day one.

On Wednesday I started my screenprinting course at East London Printmakers and it was FANTASTIC! I came out of it feeling so excited and inspired, I can’t wait to get into it again this week. The course is three days with the first two days learning techniques and the third doing a project of our own under guidance of Ann Norfield the lovely woman running this particular course.

In the morning of the first day we learnt the very basics of how to print, we played with different colours and printed through a rectangle to give us a background. Then we did a quick sketch in black inks and in the afternoon we learnt how to develop the sketch onto the screens before printing those designs onto our backgrounds from the morning.

Here is my batch! Not bad for a first days work, I’m really looking forward to seeing what we can produce with a little more planning. The course was made all the more wonderful by being taught and attended by a really friendly and interesting bunch of people, it makes such a huge difference.

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Not so New Year

Good evening one and all! Well it’s taken me a good three months to write my first post of the year, and with a sort of good excuse. After a few years out from writing my diary during which time I have doing this blog (albeit not very reliably) I suddenly realised mid-January this year that I wanted to write a diary entry, and once I’d started I couldn’t stop! I’ve been writing endlessly every day; it’s been really wonderful to get back into writing for myself and though the two aren’t mutually exclusive I haven’t felt such a need to write online about all that is happening in my life. I think instead I shall use this as a space to share any creative output – that is more in keeping with the rest of my website anyway!

So with that in mind what is there to catch up on from the past few months. Well first of all I have a new camera! I got it a couple of months ago and it remains incredibly exciting, a really wonderful and generous present from my parents and uncle. I’ve been using it endlessly and through it have learnt a vast amount about the manual side of photography. I’ve been trying to use it only in manual mode with the occasional foray into TV and AV. It’s amazing how much you can learn just by trial and error, but I learnt a whole lot more that I never would have figured out myself by going on a short course in photography at Central St Martins which was brilliant! Here are a few shots from the course, I don’t think they give you any inkling of the course content but you can see a little of what I was having fun with.


A little earlier this year I did a painting for my Alice after her beloved dog Lola who she has basically worshipped since the year dot died. Lola was a demi-god so I painted her and Alice as mother and child in the style of and idol painting! Here is the real Alice and Lola..

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..here are the stages along the way..

..and here is the finished article!

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She was pleased with it which made me enormously happy.

The only other big thing that I’ve done in these past few months is my Alphabet poster – I’ve been working on this for yonks; I think in fact my last entry gave a sneak preview! Well here it is completed and here is where you can buy it for your walls.

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Now I’m off to bed, no doubt I’ll have more to show you soon as I’m off on a screen-printing course Tomorrow! Hooray!

Doing, doodling & Alphabet

I continued to be more than a little distracted over Summer, the year has flown by with endless dramas, Weddings and complications. But Autumn has at long last arrived and I’m feeling very good right now – things seem to have calmed to a comfortable rhythm and with it has come the time neccessary to do the things I like to do!

I made a skirt recently from some fantastic silky material I got from a charity shop years ago, it needs a bit more work to ensure the delicate fabric will resist wear and tear but I’m very happy with it – the colours and pattern are so beautiful that I needed to do very little to make a very lovely thing.

Mum has set up a daily doodle group both on Whatsapp and Via Paul on Flickr – a lovely bit of inspiration that continually reminds me to get doing. Really it’s the others on Whatsapp who are doing noteworthy and gorgeous bits of nonsense that I’d like to post but as it is a private group I think it’s best I only post a few of my own from there!

The Flickr group on the other hand is public so here are a few bits of loveliness by mum, dad and Paul – the whatsapp being so immediate and easy tends to be full of more quick silly doodles and the Flickr uploads are more like fully fledged drawings, all lovely in their own way.

All this doodling has given me the bug and I’ve started a project making an Alphabet! I’ve got to C so far but I’ll just show you A for now and the patterns I’m starting with – you can see the rest when I’ve completed the set..

Summer of Shit

I recently read an article where the Summer of 2016 was compared to the Summer of ’68, but instead of being remembered as the Summer of Love it was christened the Summer of Shit. I marvelled at how unfortunate it should be that on top of it being not only a nationwide but a worldwide catastrophic Summer, it should also be a personal Summer of Shit.

Just over a month ago my sister in law was standing on a balcony in Brighton with her fiance and three of their close friends when the balcony fell from beneath them leaving only Ben teetering on a lone chunk of concrete that had resisted the pull. All the others were hospitalised, each of them had numerous breakages having fallen two storeys into a heap of bodies and rubble in the basement below, amazingly they have all survived with little permanent damage.

The feelings of sadness and stress over the accident were compounded by it’s terrible timing; poor Jess and Ben were two weeks away from their Wedding Day which we’d all been working towards and looking forward to for months. Jess spent ten days in Hospital during which she had to have an operation screwing her pelvis back together, she’ll be on crutches until October and so the Wedding has been postponed until next Summer.

Awful things like this seem to forever come in groups, for Nick’s family this was the second catastrophy of the year – Nick & Jess’ Nan had had a stroke a month or so beforehand. However the Summer plummeted to new levels of awful just over a week ago when my dear friend Hannah’s mum died. It is such incredibly sad news. Her family are one of the loveliest on earth, they are all so kind and forever full of smiles and so close, I can’t begin to imagine how it must feel for them, nor can I even start to comprehend how anyone can simply cease to be. The funeral will be this week and she has been – and continues to be – on my mind a lot, as she must be for all who knew her.

At the weekend I read that Leonard Cohen had written a farewell letter to his long-time muse Marianne as she lay on her deathbed, I like the feeling of it and perhaps it struck me particularly because of having death on the mind.

“Well Marianne it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine. And you know that I’ve always loved you for your beauty and your wisdom, but I don’t need to say anything more about that because you know all about that. But now, I just want to wish you a very good journey. Goodbye old friend. Endless love, see you down the road.”

Storms and Italy

We had a very exciting day last week when the storms came – we’ve been looking forward to the next lightening storm ever since moving to our crows nest flat. It started at the end of a full day of bunting making and we all dashed out onto the balcony and watched the skies above London erupt. It went on for an hour or so and stretched right across London from East to West, focusing particularly above the centre.

We took lots of photos and were completely delighted with this one which I sent in to the BBC – lo and behold they published it in their Your Pictures section! Very exciting (fame at last).

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I’ve also been meaning for the last month to tell you about Italy! A few weeks ago we went on the most wonderful Holiday; me, Nick, my parents, my brothers and Bru’s girlfriend Julia. As a family we aren’t very Holiday focused, in fact until last year when we all went away with my cousins we hadn’t been on a holiday together since childhood! Last year’s jaunt to Spain was such a success that we got a taste for it and so to celebrate my Dad’s 70th Birthday we went for a week to Italy; three nights in Florence and three in Baratti – a tiny place on the coast.

We had a string of disasters in the first 24 hours ranging from a trip to A&E to not being able to get our hire cars because we didn’t have the right card.. but when we finally arrived at our destination (having got trains and buses and then battled through the pouring rain for twenty minutes) we found ourselves in the most wonderful place. We had booked an airbnb called Elegance which had looked almost too good to be true; in reality it was even better! It was in a really good location and the flat was just stunning, covered in frescos and furnished brilliantly. We were all on a high from that point on and fell completely in love with Italy. In Florence you can wander happily for hours; around every corner you’ll find yet another beautiful church filled with wonderful frescos. All of the buildings are stunning, even the pavements are lovely! One of the things I loved most were the intricately carved and painted ceilings of which there were so many, I came back wondering why on earth we don’t make the most of our ceilings in the rest of the world!

We visited the Uffizi and the Bardini museum both of which were wonderful. The Uffizi is an incredible collection (and again the ceilings are unbelievable) but it is SO vast, SO busy and SO saturated with wonderful things that you can’t really give any indidvidual item it’s due, it’s also pretty exhausting – especially when you take into account the enormous queues to get in. The Bardini on the other hand is the perfect size and when we went we were the only visitors. It is such a lovely museum – a really varied collection of sculpture, art, achitecture (doorways, ceilings etc.) and even weapons and ceramics. Here I realised that what I loved most out of all the art we saw in Italy were the painted wooden sculptures, particularly the busts which I hadn’t ever come across before.

 

Baratti had a whole different feel to it, we were staying in a holiday home of a friend of Julia’s which we loved – it reminded us all of caravaning by the sea in Cwmtydu in years gone by. The Sea was so close that you could walk through the fields full of poppies to a more or less private beach, then from there it was about an hour to walk into Baratti itself, which seemed to consist of one very good sea food restaurant and very little else. We saw fantastic lizards everywhere which caused much excitement for some of us!

Julia’s Birthday fell on our last full day out there so we celebrated by taking a ferry over to the Island of Elba where Napoleon was exiled to in 1814. It was roasting hot and the sea was a fantastic blue, we had a picnic on the beach, swam in the sea and then walked around the town – ice cream in hand. OH and the ice creams! It’s worth going to Italy for the ice creams alone, they are unbelievably good.

Hen hen hen! Cluck cluck cluck!

A few weeks ago was Jess’ hen do, and what a do it was! It took me about a week to recover..

Nick and I had stumbled across an enormous bear in a charity shop in Stoke Newington and what with Jess being Jessie Bear and the hen do being animal themed we couldn’t resist inviting him. This meant a very entertaining day’s travel with him; I had a half day at work on the Friday so he came with me on the journey in to work, helped out in the office for the morning and then took the underground to Brixton where we hopped in a car with a couple of other hens and set off down to Brighton. Thankfully my friend and neighbour Rob was getting the train with me and so helped me with the many stairs at Seven Sisters!

He started the weekend as Bernard and ended it as Harold and is now very happy in his new home with Jess and Ben, though possibly much to Ben’s irritation!

We spent the weekend at Pop Up Brighton; a really beautiful camp site on the Sussex Downs where you can stay in beautiful bell tents with the option of communal tipis and fire pits (which we had and were great) or bring your own tent if you just fancy a cheap escape. The woman we dealt with was about our age and unbelievably lovely – we all had extreme girl crushes on her by the end of the weekend! Jess knew nothing of what we had planned and was in a state of complete excitement all weekend, peaking on the Saturday morning when we all dressed up in animal print and traipsed off to Wildlife festival. I’d made Jess an animal print veil (with ears) and bought her a fantastic tail: she looked the bees knees. I had also wanted to get some bunting to decorate the tents with so took the opportunity to do a practice run of animal print bunting, it came out beautifully though it may need some serious TLC after that weekend!

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It feels like an age ago now as suddenly we are fast approaching their Wedding Day.

This can only mean MORE BUNTING! We’re having very regular bunting parties at the moment which are loads of fun, on Sunday we doubled up with Wedding planning AND bunting making, and the boys not only did lots of work on the bunting but also made us all Sunday Roast! It was really lovely.

Seeds, food and Invitations

Good Morning! I’m sitting writing this on what is the fifth day of Meteorological Summer and the first day since Summer’s beginning that has felt like you could really call it that. My toes are still a little cold but the balcony door is open, a pigeon is sat on our balcony table eating seeds and the sun is streaming through the trellis-balustrade making patterns on the floor.

Pigeons are the most recent addition to our limited urban wildlife collection; we also have starlings and crows – perhaps not everyone’s favourite birds but they are very welcome here! The only other birds that we see flying this high up are seagulls, if they join then we might well have a full house of London’s least favourite feathered miscreants.

We’ve been enjoying a little gardening recently; my uncle Dick gave me a grow-your-own kit with a mix of coriander, cumin and chilli seeds a few months ago which has been a real joy. We started it off in the pot it arrived in and then moved the seedlings into a windowsill tray (where the few puny cumin plants swiftly died) and from there onto separate pots for the chillies and a couple of big pots for the coriander. The coriander did very well and has all now been eaten and we are left with nine very happy looking chilli plants just starting to flower. Mum gave us a couple of tomato plants too – adding to the greenhouse feel.

We’ve been enjoying delicious and extremely healthy food recently, more influence of the wonderful Anna Jones. Nick is a recent salad convert and so it’s been a total pleasure.
There’s a particular joy in fresh green food at this time of the year; looking out of the window across London you can see new eruptions of green in every direction, our window sills and balcony are overflowing with green, we have pots of delicious green herbs on our kitchen table that you can pick and scatter straight onto your food and even the food itself is fresh and good and green.

I’ve been starting my days with either banana bread or fruit and yoghurt or occasionally pea, mint and lemon mashed on oatcakes.

My lunches are usually big tasty salads – mostly variants of the following:

quinoa/cannelini beans/chickpeas + sometimes a little giant cous cous
shredded spinach leaves
avocado
a little soft goats cheese or feta
raisins
roasted pumpkin seeds
fresh chopped herbs
sometimes chopped preserved lemon

But a couple of weeks ago I remembered the existence of broad beans and made an even more delicious lunch! I started with bulgar wheat cooked in ham stock (probably not great on the salt front but oh-so-good) and mixed in some chopped preserved lemon, then a layer of steamed broad beans, a big dollop of broad bean, pea, mint and lemon juice mash (done in the whizzer), a few roasted cherry tomatoes, feta and chopped mint on top. It’s unbelievably good.

We’re having lovely suppers too but I’ll leave those for another day..

In other excitement Jess and Ben’s invites have gone out! They gave me free rein on these and it was really fun trying to keep the feeling of a Wedding invitation while also making it undeniably Jess and Ben. I’m very pleased with the result and they’ve had lots of positive reactions which is nice. Here they all are fresh from the printers..

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..and this is how they look inside.
N.B. I’ve had to blank out a few bits to allow for internet publication – hence the odd blank spaces!

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Only 6 weeks until the celebrations begin, we are VERY excited.

I’ve got plenty more to tell you but that can wait, I’m off out to enjoy the sun.