Thursday, 30 December 2010

Holiday Time

Just a brief stop by today. It's been christmas and as busy as always. I've finished work and am really getting into the creative flow. I got a whole heap of materials today and started work at lunchtime, only now realising it's almost 9pm and I'm sitting here amidst an avalanche of horrendous mess. I'd forgotten how untidy it gets when I'm in the zone.


Much more in my head dying to get out into the world.

Ikea was great this morning by the way. The sales have been kind to us this year, though I shall resist the temptation to list all my bargains.

Scotland was awesome. Spent time with my sis and her girls and went for a walk in the very snowy, icy conditions, landing upon my posterior in most ungraceful fashion. Lucky I didn't crack my headbone in two. Saw an amazing heron very close up on the way home, it was vivid blue in colour. My internet research tells me these are rare in the UK, being an American native. Imagine how beside myself with joy I was! Yes, I am being careful not to become a bird watcher. I think I'm safe, since it's only herons that interest me.

I must now away to my bed and sleep off the pastel dust that is swirling before my eyes.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Grapefruit

There was somebody on TV just now talking about eating grapefruit for breakfast.

Here's the thing. I could not eat a grapefruit at any time of the day, least of all when I first wake up. My mouth would turn inside out.

Who was the first person to eat a grapefruit and declare it edible? If I was a caveman walking along and finding a grapefruit tree I would taste a bit and spit it on the ground, before running off to warn my tribe (or whatever they had back then) to avoid the poisonous tree.

Terrible terrible things.

In other news, we've just been to see Paranormal Activity 2. Scary stuff. Jay screamed at the top of his voice at one bit and I giggled for about 10 minutes at him. Excellent movie, even if it does ask a lot of the audience in return. Definitely one of the best sequels I've seen in a long time.

I still have some pumpkins to carve. That's the sign of a true enthusiast - pumpkins in November. Oh yes.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Busy

I got heaps done today. I finally got to that stage where I could see the jobs disappearing from my inbox. It's taken three full weeks and there have been over 500 emails, but I'm alost there.

My neck and back are suffering for being trapped at a desk all day and a constant headache has made me a bit grouchy (not that anyone will notice the difference of course). Still, I are high achiever.

Naturally I needed to balance out the days industriousness with some mischief. There's been a furry halloween toy spider hanging round in the break room at work all year and I've had my fun with it - putting it in the fridge on people's lunches, sitting it in the vending machine, that sort of thing. Anyway, I thought since it's halloween soon he should become a little more high profile. I sneaked him out under my coat and brought him home and tonight he has had a makeover. He now sports a black satin (lined with silver fabric) vampire cloak, complete with shiny gemstones all over it. He is carrying miniature dried pumpkins and has little diamontes on his feet. I also gave him huge orange and black googly eyes.Tomorrow I shall put him back when nobody's looking They'll know it was me of course, but they can't prove it and I will deny all knowledge.

Jay always tells me that if any idea I have makes me giggle for more than 15 seconds then it's bound to be bad and I am not allowed to go through with it. Usually he's right of course. I think this is an exception to his rule though.

I need a new keyboard and mouse. These cheap supermarket ones are all well and good in an emergency, but I have to keep going back and adding capital letters that are failing. I really don't need a constant irritation like that in my life.

No heron again today. The river was way too full this evening for him. Very soon it will be too dark on the way to and from work for me to see as far as the bit where he likes to hang out.

Am pondering what to wear for our company awards night on Thursday. I never go anywhere that requires anything dress-uppy, so I'm stumped. I'm hoping I'll be saved by the fact that the do starts at 6, which doesn't leave us long to get there. They reckon we should be able to dress down on the day, so everybody will be in jeans (apart from the princesses who are dolled up all the time anyway). I am to carve a pumpkin as a table decoration. We're going to a chinese restaurant so I thought I'd do a Willow Pattern or other traditional design on it. I shall do a little research before I go to bed.

Been studying some Photoshop tutorials online. They're very good indeed. Oh how I look forward to having the time to really learn some new stuff. I am also going to go for a walk every morning and either photograph something inspirational or draw something I chance upon. Shouldn't be too long now until I am free of the shackles of full time work. I still need to find a part time job though.

It's off to Google images now for me.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Weekend at Last


My other half is out so I made plans to do all sorts. We popped to the shops this morning for ingredients so I could make a lamb stew for everyone (done and in the oven now). He disappeared about 9.30am by which time I'd already done the washing and was ready for the next project.

I have installed the scanner/printer down here at my new desk. This is vital for me because there's no way I'd drag my sorry carcass up and down the stairs every time there was something to be scanned or printed. I'm ever so good at procrastinating. Well, usually, but not today of course.

The scanning commenced at about 10am once I'd found some sketchbooks. There are still several missing, hiding upstairs in the geek room somewhere. I've also misplaced a whole bunch of things that I wanted to play around with in Photoshop. Still, I'll find them eventually - I think they're tucked away inside a book. I know which book it is, just not where it is (we have so many).

I've added a couple of images to the site, but then I thought I should go and do some jobs, hence the food being in the oven now. Dishes also done (mostly) and more washing. I am a domestic goddess.

The phone has been ringing about 5000% more than it ever does. Since the accident on Wednesday we've had all kinds of contact from insurance, solicitors, and companies associated therewith. I don't think I've ever been so popular. It's becoming a tad tedious now. A chap is coming here tomorrow to help me fill in a form (!) and read some legal stuff to me. I do wonder what the other party is going through. We weren't at fault and they've pesetered the skin off us, so I dread to think what the driver of the beast car is being made to do.

I got a pumpkin this morning. I have two small ones form the farm to work on as well, so I think I shall carve them this afternoon. Photos will be posted in due course.

The heron hasn't been around as much this week. I reckon he's off chomping on fish from people's ponds ready for the winter. Suzie at work says there's one in her garden always after the fish, which makes me think he merely holidays at the river. Goodness knows there can't be any food worth having down there. I saw a jellyfish by the bridge once, but they can live in any sort of filth can't they?

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

It's a Wild 'Un

What an adventure we had on the way home form work tonight. Someone in one of those giant 4x4 things went right up the back of us. A Fiesta doesn't stand much of a chance against such a beast, so I suppose we were lucky it didn't just drive right over the top of us.

Not much in the way of work being done tonight due to me being on the phone to the insurers and solicitor and all that, not to mention the shaking hands and sore neck (which I am reliably informed will be "much worse tomorrow" - oh joy).

The heron was there this morning.

I've had a day where several times I've felt like throwing myself to the ground and paddying like a two year old. All in all I'm glad it's getting on for bedtime. Let's hope for a brighter day tomorrow, though since it will be starting with a long bus ride to work, doesn't look too clever really.

I added an image to the banner up there *points*, because webs sent me an email suggesting it would be a good idea. I think they were right. Soon I'll get the adverts removed too and then we'll be looking very swish.

"Can act on good advice" - add to CV?

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

The Heron Chronicles

We have to go across the river every morning to work. It's not your pretty type of waterway, more a wide expanse of silty water that comes and goes across the sandbanks, but it's mine and I love it.

I get really cross every time more detritus is added to the pile under the bridge, such as the 40 or so old car tyres that some moron chucked over a few months ago, or the shopping trolley that is slowly being engufled by the mud, or the child's bicycle alongside it. You get the picture. People actually go out of their way to littler what could be a semi beautiful place, and gawd knows we don't have much natural beauty in Widnes to start with.

Anyway, the joy of my trip either way is looking out for the heron. He likes to stand at the edge of the little pools between the sandbanks, ankle deep in water. He remains aloof from the other birds, in fact I'm certain he only goes there to look down on them. I love his expression of utter despondancy. He hangs his head in what looks like a permanent sigh at the state of the world. He strongly disapproves of the skittish seagulls and other foul who galavant about him with no dignity. Usually he keeps just away from the others and turns his back ever so slightly, like a disappointed teacher questioning why he even bothers. What's not to love about such a creature?

I have binoculars and I would love to get a closer look at the heron, but then people might think i was a birdwatcher and where's the rock 'n roll cred in that? Perhaps I can learn from him and look whilst not actually looking? I'll let you know if I ever manage it.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Thanks For Joining Me

It's not really the start of the journey, more a minor punctuation right here and now.

I wrote a bio page today that goes on and on, despite being harsh with myself about not including too much. I knew there was a blog here, so why bore people who just happen to be passing by? I'd be interested to know if anyone ever got to the end of the bio page, and if they did, were they still awake? Still, I feel more complete for doing it.

Anyway, the here and now.

Website is born, finally. I'll do lots more to it in good time as it's a right old headache getting it just so. Sundays are good for doing such chores, hence my appearance today.

I should probably mention why I'm doing this now, you know, as oppose to last year or whatever.

A few months ago I made the massive decision to change my life. Not the good bits, naturally. Mostly I have happiness going on - I have a suerb family (lunatics one and all but I love them) and probably the best husband in the known universe. If it weren't for these things I would not be the individual I am and would likely be hanging round outside Asda with a can of 17p Smart Price beer in my hand.

As it is I am tweaking things. This may sound minor, but it's bloody scary. I've been working in an office for a number of years now, the whole time feeling like I will go crazy one day and run screaming from the place amidst a flurry of administrative papers. I'm  one of the many who always say they will find their dream job one day, but just like them, I'm still there. Dreams don't land at your feet, it's the way of the universe that you have to suffer and scare yourself half to death in order to achieve them.

So I resigned.

I now plan to get a part time job (for we must still eat) and chase after that elusive creative "thing".

The website is the first step. It will be my foundation, the place where I put my work, the teacher upon whose desk I leave my exercise book for marking.

I've uploaded some stuff. There's plenty more where that came from but it's a time consuming business. Goodness knows how geeky I'll have to become in order to learn to html it myself. That's way down on the list of things to do.

I have a broad plan.

I want to learn a few new software programs such as Illustrator and the like. Gone are the days when Photoshop was enough.

I want to make things. Constructions and "things". I won't bother going into detail just yet.

I want to draw and/or paint every day.

I want to develop my skills and be as creative as I can be.

Somewhere in the midst of all that I hope to find a direction. I'm not the sort who can have one focus for the whole of my life, I need different projects.

Once I'm happy with my progress I want to get a job that pays me for drawing or making things. Somewhere with nice people. People who don't mind being around me all day. Or maybe working from home, that's a great dream of mine.

So this web stuff is my first project in my new beginning. I have a new PC and desk, at which I am sitting now, and I have come this far since just after I did the food shop this morning. Oh and I've alse made a lamb stew for weekday dinners and there's a roast dinner on the way.

I am a multitasker. Note to self - add that to CV.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Biography - An Introduction to Me

This is me

Sitting comfortably? I can go on a bit....

An Overview of Things
 
There were years of playing around with paints and pencils, clay and glue, tinfoil and newspapers. There was sewing, building, inventing and much mess. This is the story of lots of people, so what makes me any different? Probably the fact that I never grew out of it.

There were times I should have been doing other things but I simply couldn't drag myself away from the latest project. Lots of those times in fact. Then there were years where necessity was the mother of invention, which is when I learned to knit and sew and decorate rooms, make toys and games and generally recycle anything I could get my hands on. I baked cakes and decorated them with models of people (I'm no Delia Smith, the eating part was not the best), painted old wall tiles in enamels, broke up discarded glass and begged a few hours here and there to melt it in a kiln, borrowed and stole old materials (my greatest guilt was the dried seahorse I liberated from a dusty old store room somewhere. He remained with me for years and was the subject of many a painting and pencil sketch. Someone stole him from a display of my work years later and I fancy he lives on, being hijacked by those in need of inspiration before moving on to the next vagabond with sticky fingers).

I sometimes think I spent a lot of my earlier  life like a long term prisoner, scrabbling for bits and pieces to play with and losing myself in my imagination. A whimsical Hollywood interpretation of the wronged artist no doubt, but then folk like me are prone to such fits of fancy.

It's not all been doomed scrabbling of course. I live in a northern English town and I've had a life other than trying to make things that will change the world.

I've worked in all sorts of jobs, had children, studied and travelled a bit. When I say travelled, it's mostly been by accident, like the time I was stricken with depression after some ill fated events (mostly of my own doing) and my sister gathered me up on a trip to France with her and her daughters. Then there was another trip to France many years ago with my Nan and yet another one to stay with an English friend who'd take root over there. I still don't speak the language enough to do more than order a pain au chocolate, but it gets me by. There have been two visits to the US, the second being to New York which ranks up there with some of the greatest events of my life. I was enchanted by Hell's Kitchen and the people there, especially the flea market they have on Sundays. I plan to go back one day.

The UK has its joys for me too. My family live all over the place, so I've stomped up and down from  the south coast to Scotland, the latter being my latest journeying. There's much inspiration to be had in the countryside there, and the skies over Glasgow alone could inspire an army of painters.

Growing an Artist 

So, backing up a bit.

There came a time when I decided I would give a formal art education a go. I'd studied art and design full time for a year after I left school, but in the way of a lot of teenagers I was rebellious and wanted to escape education for what I (typically) thought were the greener pastures of grownup life. It was to be ten years or so before I went back (with humility I'd lacked as a youngster), to grow myself into a proper artist.

I can say with absolute honesty that I would never have appreciated the opportunity to study when I was younger. Starting college again in my mid twenties was a joy to me. I no longer had to justify time taken away from everyday life to do creative things, on the contrary, this is what I was supposed to be doing now.

I didn't think I would be successful, nor did I have the confidence to barge my way in there and make my mark like you would expect from a repressed creative. I was just a shy and underdeveloped person trying to find my path. I don't know if fate had a hand in it (just a turn of phrase there, I don't do airy fairy crystal-rubbing nonesense) or if I was just tremendously fortunate, but whatever it was, I fell in lucky as they say.

Firstly, I was utterly enraptured with the masses of materials and equipment at hand. Imagine a graphics department, print room, kilns, paints, computers, books, easels and everything you could imagine right there at my fingertips. It was a veritable Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory of wonder to my eyes. Secondly there were people. Artist people. You have to understand that I had spent many years without adult company and certainly lacking the views and conversation of those who had lived their lives outside the confines of a small town. It was like landing on an alien planet full of people who were making a living doing the stuff that I'd only dreamed of.

Most importantly, though I didn't realise it for some years, was John Charters. John was the senior art tutor at the college and I could spend pages describing him. I won't, because this can't go on too long. In sumary, he was warm, hilariously funny, intelligent, experienced and humble. I adored him and he believed in me more than anyone ever had, apart from my little sister, who has always been one of the few rocks in my life.

John seemed to love everything I made and ran alongside me at breakneck speed as I grew and developed. He would write little notes of encouragement on index cards and post them to me, often including the paw print of his beloved dog as a signature. He engaged with every tiny idea I had, suggested new routes and rejoiced in my achievements. It was he who taught me  how to make my own sketchbooks in the traditional library binding style, and he who sat with me in his little Victorian herb garden at his home, discussing the way forward when I couldn't find the confidence to make decisions by myself.

Foundation year at college was a huge success for me. I finished with a distinction and amazingly managed to secure a place on the university course I wanted. It was a horrendously difficult decision to make, as I wanted to study everything, but I settled on constructed textiles at Liverpool John Moores University due to the scope they gave students in their studies. John was to follow me there eventually when he was made redundant form the FE college and took up a tutor position on my degree course.

The Degree Years

I doubt there has ever been a more nervous degree student than I was in that first semester. Not being the most confident of people I struggled to find my niche at first, and I admit to being somewhat of a prat. It can take a while to get rid of the small town mentality when you suddenly find yourself in a city and in close confines with people of whacky ideas.

People talk about university life and education, but my take on it is that if you utilise everything on offer you can come out the other end as a much more enlightened and mature being.I entered that three year stretch with nothing but a small talent and a desire to learn. The finished product was so much more than I had known I was signing up for (apart from the student loan of course).

The variety on offer to me was immense. I learned a huge amount of skills and didn't stop there. When I reached an impasse and my tutors no longer had the answers I needed I took myself off on unpaid work placements to  pick the brains of people in industry. I had the cheek of the devil, I would ring people and announce that I was a student who needed to learn x, y and z, or needed materials, advice or whatever else I could think of. Mostly the people I contacted were extremely helpful and sent me materials, letters full of advice or in some cases, the offer to work with them. Clark's Shoes sent me shoes to butcher and adorn (they had no provision for me to work with them but they did all they could to help me in other ways), textiles companies provided me with fabrics, glaziers sent me broken window panes, manufacturers allowed me to use their machinery and the expertise of their employees. I soon grew the gift of the gab and could get all sorts of freebies and help. I always offered my services free of charge in return and spent my holiday weeks on jobs, making whatever I was asked and helping out in workshops.

The tutors would take our design samples to trade shows a few times a year and if they sold we would get the cash, a welcome injection for any student. One show in Paris was a major success for me and I sold to Calvin Klein and DKNY on the same day. I was overjoyed of course, then even moreso when I was approached by a glossy Paris magazine who wanted to showcase my work. I recall that they included an especialy ugly photo of me, but I didn't care because I was seeing my work in print for the first time.

A few weeks after I had been made famous (indulge me here, I know it's hardly earth shattering) I was called from my studio to reception to take a phone call. An American voice on the other end told me she had seen my work in a magazine and she wondered if I would accept a commission to work on a movie she was involved in. Naturally I thought this was a joke, someone winding me up. I thought the best thing to do was play it cool and ask her to call me at home later, which I did. Amazingly she did ring back and make her proposal, which was to produce latex fabrics to be made into costumes for the X Men movie which was in pre production at the time. 

To cut a long story short, I did make and submit the work, which was included in the film. I got a horrible fright though. I was approaching the end of my final degree year when I was working on this job and my tutors very kindly agreed to allow me to use the designs as my final project. This was a stroke of luck, as I doubt I could have done both to any acceptable standard in such a short timescale.

The bad part was on my last day at university, the day when all students are putting the finishing touches to their degree show and inviting important people to come and view it. I had worked towards this day for three years and suddenly here I was with nothing but some books of sketches and photographs on a table. How horribly disappointing when all around me were huge professional displays of impressive artwork. I felt a fraud and a failure and cried all the way home, so convinced was I that I had messed up at the last minute.

We had to wait a while for our degree results. Dissertations were marked and work assessed as we waited at home for a month or two with baited breath. I will never forget the day we went to collect the results. I drove to Liverpool in tears, not knowing what to expect. I was certain I'd shot myself in the foot by doing the movie stuff and I had been vexing about it continuously. I can't convey the emotions I felt when I finally found my name in the huge list pinned on the wall at the entrance to my university buidling. I stood there in silence for goodness knows how long, staring at my name and "1st Class Bachelor of Arts with Honours" alongside it. I think I cried.