Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Nanowrimo here i come ... or maybe not.

To kind of get my creative juices flowing a bit better, I am trying to get into as many writerly type things as possible.  I am suspicious about fanfaring my writerly intentions on this 'ere blog, as nine times out of ten, I don't actually ever get the project started (par for the course with me).   Anyway, I suppose the best thing to do is just do it and then write about it afterwards, hey? So shut up.
Yes, I do sound like a person with a mental disorder in that there paragraph up there.
It's the kids.

They're on holiday, so I am in 'kiddie-entertainer/teacher' mode for the rest of this week.  At the moment, they are jumping about in one of the bedrooms trying to kill each other, pack away Lego, role play and get dressed - all at the same time.   We made pirate maps, pirate treasure chests, gold dabloons and then I got stuck in and made three sets of Halloween pumpkin earrings.  Somehow my crafty side didn't want to go to sleep, so last night, I quickly crocheted up a string bag for my grand-daughter, from a ball of string I had lying about the place (as you do).    Today, we're supposed to be going to book creative activities for the kiddywinkies to do on Thursday morning down at the Leisure Centre, although if they don't quit the stomping about in the room next door, I might end up burying them both in the back garden.

Speaking of winkies - I did manage to get a bit of a laugh out of my grandson yesterday though.  He was getting dressed before we went out to the library, I am typing away on my laptop doing wurk ... i peep over my shoulder to see how he's getting on (cos I can see his room from my bedroom door) and he's standing there hanging on to winkie, which has er grown a bit.   'Nana, my winkie is exciting cos we made pirate things and now we're going to the liberry' ... I had to keep a straight face, cough and tell him, 'That's nice dear, now get dressed.' However, inside I was laughing so hard, it hurt.   Little boys are just the best.

We've booked our holiday over to SA for February next year. I didn't think I was going to be able to do this, to be honest and actually can't.   Anyway, the South African credit card still works, so if a thing's worth doing, it's worth over-doing is what I always say. 

Still no work on the transcript front - but I'm trying my best not to clench my jaw, or bang my head against the wall. 

I've decided that I don't like the word, BUT
but besides that, everything's peachy.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Travels with my Aunt.

Well first of all, the one glaring fact that emerged during my trip to the Highlands of Scotland with my Auntie, was that THURSO - the place where I had set my ... er ... story (you know, the book that I've been writing since I was in South Africa) - is NOT remote at all.   Yes, it's stuck up there on the edge of Scotland but it's by no means a remote little place - all windswept, lonely crofters cottages perched on the top of the cliffs (as I had imagined).   So the story, such as it is, will have to be set somewhere quite a bit further South.  The areas around Aviemore and Blair Atholl for instance, are very remote, true Highland vistas.

Scotland is magnificent.  I believe we went at the right time, all the trees were wearing Autumn dresses and the colours were quite breathtaking in many places. 

 Dunrobin Castle ...
Well honestly, there's nothing bad you can say about the home base of the Dukes of Sutherland.  Magical place, hardly worried by tourism.    

I took reams and reams of photos, which I will probably dig into and put on here in coming months as they speak to me. 

I've already started planning a possible camping trip up to the areas around Pitlochry ... just the place I'd like to spend a couple of weeks in a tent. 

Queen's View - Pitlochry - not my image.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Back from the land of the Noo

Yes, I managed it, all by myself.  Drove the hundreds of miles to Wales and back again, with no problems. Did the trip up North on the train for four days ... photos and some comment will follow.  I've posted the whole epitaph over on our family blog, a bit tired to do it again on here.  So bear with me.
No, I didn't meet Rory McCann.  But I tried hey.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

One more sleep ...

Test Satnav - Check
Pack clothes - Check
Sort out/find chargers/plugs/adaptors for tablet, camera, phone, hairdryer etc.- Check
Download 2 hours worth of new (ish) music from YouTube and put on Tablet, to go with the rest
         of the old shite I've already got on it - Check
Do the trip on Google Maps - Check
Print out directions in case Satnav fucks out - Check
Fill up car - Check
Check oil and water and tyre pressure - Not checked (doing tonight)
Figure out which shoes I'm taking with - Check
Put highlights in hair  - Not checked (doing tonight)
Load airtime onto ye olde trusty Samsung Android - Check 

Stuff not to forget to put in bag tomorrow morning:
In-ear teensy weensy headphones for Asus (tablet)
Brown camisole (that my daughter's currently wearing today - which I have to wash and tumble dry tonight)

Then it's off at about 930am to the wet, wintry, wastes of Wales, hopefully to arrive 4 and a half to 5 hours later.  (it's 220 miles or therabouts from where I live to Knighton).

Following morning (Friday) we leave my aunts house at 6 to go to the train station (about 30 mins drive from her house) to board our train, which will eventually take us up to Inverness.

Och aye and awa' we go, laddie.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Altered Booking

I've started an 'altered book' ... it's er basically preparing an old book for art journalling.  Art journalling, I hear you shout, are you fucking losing it woman?
Well the more I trawled around on YouTube trying to understand why people are doing this art journalling stuff, the more I ended up listening to a whole bunch of women (mainly American) wax lyrical (and God do some of these women like to talk to themselves!) about WHY they decided to do this and what they've gotten out of it.  Yes, it's therapeutic kids.
Anyway, I wasn't interested in going out and buying tons of fancy stamp pads, inks, transfers, stencils, stickon embellishments etc. etc., that kinda defeats the object, in my mind.  I've always been happy to turn something old into a new item - tinting my hair, creating new clothing out of old, I'm a dab hand at doing that.  So why not take one of my really old diaries (1993 to be exact) and have a go at turning it into something a bit better.

I started on Wednesday morning and the bug has bitten.  The outside covers are almost done, I've ripped out tons of pages, glued three pages together at a time, to make the more sturdier pages required for artworks and doodly doodles.  I've gesso-ed the pages, I've even started with the background colours on three pages already.  It's addictive, you don't realise how much time has gone by.  You become engrossed in it and you can't rush the process (because the glue that you're sniffing ... har har ... has to dry, the paint has to dry ... yawn).  But the mere fact that you can't rush it, means that you just have to sit back and chill a bit.  So your mind starts to wander, you start feeling guilty (for about 8 nanoseconds), then you do the mental grocery list shopping and tidying up the house (all in your head).   Before long, you're thinking about much deeper things, like how you're going to cook two chickens together in the oven tonight and why Supernovas don't make more of a bang.

I'm actually liking this altered book stuff, I feel like I'm reducing my carbon footprint.  And all the other green bollox that people waffle on about these days.
I'll post pictures of the finished thing. Eventually. No rush.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Not more bloody sunflowers

There is this adage that goes around whenever 'artists' bemoan the fact that they haven't sold anything lately ... 'Oh well, Vincent [Van Gogh] only ever sold one painting in his entire life! So I guess I shouldn't complain just yet'  (or words to that effect).

It's common knowledge that Vincent only really got going as an artist round about 1884/1885, although he'd been drawing and painting since his boyhood.  He died in 1890 and in that short period he managed to paint over 850 oil paintings (not cheap stuff oil paint, specially in those days). In addition to the oil paintings, he drew hundreds and hundreds of sketches, created magical prints and watercolours etc. etc.

Vincent 'sold' most of his output to his brother, who was his regular patron.  His brother (Theo), was supposed to on-sell the paintings to friends, or other patrons of the arts but this never happened (to the best of my knowledge).  It was a kind of gentleman's agreement, I guess, to make Vincent feel emasculated and not a 'soak' on his brother's finances.  He sold the paintings to his brother and used the money to buy more art materials and a bit of food and absinthe.  (I'm over-generalising here but you get the picture ... cough). 

It's hard enough, in today's economic climate when art supplies are actually muck cheap, to sell paintings but people do and most artists sell regularly to varied clientele.   How utterly demotivating it must have been though, to plough such huge sums of money into your materials, as well as time and physical effort ... only to never manage a sale to anyone other than a family member. Let's be honest, most artists would pack it in if they didn't get any recognition after creating such a vast output.  860 oil paintings!  That’s a huge amount of work.     I seem to remember someone once saying if you keep at something, eventually you'll become famous.  Sadly in Vincent's case he wasn't famous (in his lifetime) but he still kept at it.  There's an alternative view to this as well, if you work at something for a couple of years and don't get any recognition, perhaps it's not for you?  Perhaps, just maybe, you're actually quite shite as an artist.
Thankfully, it doesn't look like Vincent had those kind of thoughts but it's hard to imagine how a person could work for so many years and be largely ignored.

I can’t actually imagine how much space those paintings would have taken up.  I know that Theo didn't keep all the paintings with him but I'm not sure where they ended up, they must have been stored somewhere. 860 oil paintings!  That’s a hell of a lot of work.

How could an artist work for 5 to 10 years amassing all those canvasses and not shifting any of them to buyers?  How depressing is that?  And wouldn't you think, as an artist, that if you hadn't sold a painting legitimately to someone other than a family member, in your ENTIRE career, that maybe it was time to re-evaluate your career.  Maybe you just don't 'cut it' as an artist?  It's incongruous to think that Vincent battled along all alone, working at his genius.   It's amazing that he continued to produce such awesome work and so miserably sad that he wasn't alive to witness the upswell of interest in his paintings much later on.   Despite severe mental issues, getting scant recognition for what he was trying to achieve, he soldiered on, often battling with the paint, his inner turmoils, lack of money - it must have been soul-destroying and no bloody wonder he offed himself.  

It's impossible to speculate 'what if he hadn't died prematurely and had continued to paint' ... he was taken from the world, I think, at the height of his creative surge as an artist.  This is my favourite piece ('scuse the watermarking):