Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Less Fatigued

Woke up early, not by choice. Had to answer an urgent text from a place I have been temping at. They, sadly were desperate for someone to cover today, but I was too tired to do the shift and needed to spend the day working on finishing things off in preparation for getting to work on the finished piece for my college project. I needed to clear the decks have a proper tidy and learn how to finish things properly. Yeah, right!

I promptly fell back to sleep after answering the text so all that extra time got wasted, but I do feel less tired and somewhat refreshed from the extra sleep, even though my back still isn't improving as quickly as i would like, but at least I am down to just taking pain relief in the morning and not needing it for the whole day. Good sign of definite improvement.

So far today I have made 2 cushion covers. Won't post pics as these are gifts and I don't want to spoilt surprises. I will be making another 3 soon, but I'm just having a brain break. I'm feeling rather creative today, I've tidied my studio and feel fresh and energetic ready to make more things for friends, and for sale to strangers, or people I barely know. It feels good to make stuff and sell it for a small profit. I feel like I am really making something worthwhile. The small pleasures people get for things I make gives me a glow inside that cannot be replaced with a salary from a boss who barely knows your name and bills all up to date. Don't get me wrong, I like to get the bills paid, I just don't like the soul destroying day job life. Too little time for anything else.

When i am working in my studio I listen to the radio, usually radio 1, but today R6. The news is on at the moment and the first bits were about death. When will bad news come to an end? I find it so difficult when I am feeling this vulnerable to cope with bad news and often just switch off.

I think Josh is now home, so I'd better go and wash the dishes and make toad in the hole for tea. With creamy mashed potatoes and steamed curly kale.

Oh and I've been writing my good recipes down, so eventually some of them will find their way onto here I'm almost certain.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Post Christmas fatigue

I'm tired, I worked all day yesterday, not physically tiring, but emotionally, intellectually and socially. today I made a Christmas present in about 15 minutes flat, with Josh's help. He stuffed the draught excluder that i made from some fluffy cow fabric I had in a drawer. A joint effort of a Christmas present. That was fun. It's the first present we've made together. It may be the last, he is a less than enthusiastic helper when it comes to things like that.

Went to my friend Janet's for Boxing Day lunch, which was, as ever, superb. Janet is a wonderful cook, who has the knack of producing very simple food which is harder than it sounds. I always enjoy food there. Me and josh left after a couple of hours because Janet was very tired. By the time we got home I realised that I too was very tired. Working for a day makes me so tired I need a day's rest to get over it, but when I am in my studio for days on end I don't feel the same level of fatigue. Why is that?

I've been making and creating a lot of the past few days, trying to make things for everyone I know and love for Christmas. Not got everything done, but everyone will have something home made and completely personal for the season, be they Christmas celebrants or solstice worshippers. No matter, I love you all.

I think I will stop with the soppy telling every one that I love them, someone always feels uncomfortable with it. Usually me.

There is little point to this post today, mostly because of my tiredness, and backache, which isn't resolving in the way it normally does. I think i seriously pulled a muscle in my back and Helen is not here now to fix it with her magic hands, and I'm pretty sure she won't travel from Aus to fix it for me, much as she loves me.

This Christmas has been tiring for a lot of reasons.

Not got a job and doing whatever work comes along to make ends meet.

Worrying about whether I can pay my bills and college fees next year.

Missing Sapphire, who I lost in August this year.

Missing Helen and Leo who moved to Australia in the summer and I'm wondering if I'll ever see them again because its such a long way away and so expensive to get to, but maybe the universe will smile on me.

Still missing my mum. Three years on. Will that ever change?

Worrying about my friend Debbie, who will be in hospital for a while, wanting her to be well and knowing that there simply is not enough time to say how much she means to me as a friend in all the ways I'd love to say and feeling impotent about her illness. I wish, I wish, I wish I could fix her. And her I know the universe cannot grant this wish. Bugger.

Time got away from me and I've no idea where it went. it's always the same.

Wondering where that cup of tea is that Josh is meant to be making.

My usual preoccupations and obsessions, Face book, Twitter, new books, unfinished projects and new techniques with fabric.

I'm wondering whee I'm going with this post, and I've just realised, I'm too tired to make sense, so i abdicate all responsibility for the nonsense posting that is coming and I'll just carry on with this stream of barely consciousness.

One thing I want to say is to wish everyone a great new year and that all of their wishes wants and needs come true, go to the doctors if you are worried about anything, don't put it off. Give your children a hug and tell them you love them, they are beautiful and wonderful and you are proud of them. Take the dog out for a walk, stroke the cat, phone your Granny, commit a random act of kindness and eat a big fat cake all to yourself at least once this year, but make sure you eat your veggies too.

I'm off to bed soon I think.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Last minute Christmas

I'm not one for buying presents, being very poverty stricken and a complete tight wad, so I make them. But I've had a busy year. So I'm kind of doing the presents today. All day today. On Christmas Eve. All day on Christmas Eve. And i have to go to bed very early today because I'm working all day tomorrow. Maybe I should've planned better.

To all who get their presents after Xmas, sorry about the delay, but I am a born procrastinator and had loads of other stuff to get done and time just gets away from me. I'll be better organised next year, promise. OK you got me I promised this last year, but honestly I mean it this time.

So for those who know and love me, and you have to love me if you know me, if you don't get your pressie for crimbo, it is in the making and you will get it before next Christmas.

Love you all.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009


When I started blogging it was just somewhere for me to vent how I was feeling about things and wasn't intended to be a public thing. But hen something strange started to happen, and people started to follow me. Firstly my friends, and now I have followers who I don't know personally. This was initially very strange for me, but now I really like the idea that people may actually find my ravings entertaining.

To those who read and follow me, welcome, pull up a chair, the kettle is on, and the cake will be out of the oven in about 5 minutes. Leave a comment when you visit and I'll almost certainly respond to it, I love to chat.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Jumping on the bandwagon.

So here we are again, nearly at Christmas, and no money, no presents, and a pappy number 1 single. Except, hang on, could it be????? RATM at number 1. What the xfactor didn't take the number 1 single? I'm not dreaming, it isn't a hallucination. Rage against the machine is number 1.


I cannot express the joy and excitement I feel for the first time in years I am actually excited by the music scene. I am happy about the number 1 single and surprised by the outcome.

Of course it still leaves the prospect of a totally skint Christmas and no presents. Ideas anyone?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Late Night Creativity

I made a handbag.

I've never done anything like this before.

I'm supposed o be making books, or sleeping.

So now I have to decide if it is a Christmas present or if I should keep it for myself, which is tempting, or sell it.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

What am I like 5

Had a really good week, rediscovering the joy of dry point etching. In learning lots of different, exciting, intricate and complex methods of producing a printable plate, I forgot about the first technique I learned.

A light touch is needed, but heavy lines have a strong value and areas can be scored out completely to have blackness like no other plate can give. Things can be stuck on top to give texture, and textures from all kinds of materials can be impressed into the dry point board to create effects and textures not seen in other plates.

Here are a few of the plates and prints I have succeeded with, from the very beginning.

This was part of my self portrait project from last year. I only printed this twice, as we were looking at lots of different techniques and needed to move onto the next fairly quickly.

I love the cross hatching and the sparseness of the line.

This was part of the cutlery project that nearly sent me insane, but I like the colours I used on this print and the clarity of the lines. It was a very simple print which worked really well. Then we didn't do any more dry points, moving on to etching and collagraphs, which were OK but have to be worked at to produce a good print.

This is the first plate for the new project, What Am I Like? I started this at home as I only have facilities to produce dry point and collagraphs at home, and don't have access to etching equipment here. I will do next year though. I love the quirky perspective and the deep dark blacks.

This is really not my usual style or subject matter, preferring the darker scarier dead kind of subjects. But it's one of my cats, Thunder, taken from some sketches I had done for the new project. I love the lightness of the lines and the way that using dry point I can vary the strength of the lines without too much effort.

This is the plate for the as the print is still drying. My dog, Gaspode. He of the squidgy face and the desperate need for love and attention.

The rest of these are as yet unprinted, and vary in size from A4 size down to about 3 inch squares. When I have prints from these I'll post them with the next update.

This one is Gaia, she of the yip yip yippee and the anteater tongue.

This is the Chaos monster and I don't think I need to describe a cat with that name!

Mantelpiece details

Floor details

More mantelpiece details.

Sorry that this is such an image heavy post. But I just really enjoy playing with dry point at the moment and I wanted to share, I'm nice like that.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Unmitigated disasters 3

Well, strictly speaking tonight wasn't a disaster. Verdon Street Rec centre was open, had a real member of staff there, who stayed the whole time, the kitchen was open, I had a model and there was heat.

None of the annoying little twerps from last week even attempted to get into the building, but they were playing coin toss outside, and were too afraid once they realised who I was to actually do anything. One or two comments about the fat nuddie woman and things like that as I walked past them. Ok so if you're scared of me naked, be really afraid when I'm dressed!

The model turned up, well prepared and looking wonderful and beautiful to behold.

Only 2 people turned up to draw, but on the upside the wonderful Aislinn didn't charge me the rent, I think she felt a bit sorry for me, only having 2 people in the class with me. I don't mind because the 2 who turned up were 2 of the people who came last time, so good news all round. It can't get any worse. My natural optimism says, next year, all being well, if we can keep the oiks away, we may well get more people coming to life drawing at Verdon Street.

Fingers crossed.

Toes crossed.

Touch wood.

And whatever else you can think of to bring good luck.

I'm giving it 3 months to such the money out of my wallet, and if it isn't breaking even by then I'm calling it a day.

So what I want to know now is, what's your excuse for not coming? It better be really good.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Nights out.

Last night I had a fantastic night out with my ex colleagues from a well known Northern hospital. Laughed until a bit of wee came out and drank myself into a hangover this morning.

The best part of the night was everyone who came in fancy dress, as is the tradition for a Christmas night out.

Love you all for making the supreme sacrifice of dignity and professional conduct in the name of a damned good laugh and a dance to all the disco classics!

Can't wait til next year.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

What am I like 4

Had quite a good day today, and yesterday, and even a bit the day before.

Wednesday I had a good day in printing, completing a very nice kooky dry point etching. Then I went to the base room in the afternoon and started a stitch sample for my sketchbook. Later on I watched my son, the beautiful boy with the wonky nose, boxing for a small amateur trophy. He won and I am immensely proud of him.

Thursday I did all of my invoicing up to the Christmas break, so hopefully I will have some cash for presents for the above mentioned wonderful son. I also went to the pub and socialised with actual people, something I've not done for a while.

Today, Friday, I spent the morning creating another dry point etching and printing if off twice, then used a copy of the print from weds to create some textiles for presents for friends for Christmas. I also managed to get paid for the shift I did at the hospital last weekend. I came home, washed the pots, cooked dinner and a damned good pudding (rhubarb crumble and custard) and I am feeling generally very good about life at the moment.

In all although I am incredibly busy, somewhat poorer than the church mouse of the poorest church, I realised today that I am happier than I have been in a very long time. I am chilled, fairly stress free and looking forward to Christmas with the kind of zest I had as a child. Who knew that poverty could change your world for the better?

There is no deep meaning to this post by the way, but I have regained my sense of humour, my energy levels are increasing and I think I may actually be feeling human again. I feel alive, fresh and full of ideas that I actually have time to play with. I should have quit my job years ago.

Here is the print of the dry point I did on Wednesday. I like the crooked perspective. It amuses me. Hope it amuses you too.

The other two pictures are of a stitch sample trying out different stitches for the finished work and the other is a sample of drawing with stitch and leaving lots of ends hanging to create an effect of messiness and clutter.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Josh Dexter - Winner!

Here are the videos for Josh's fight last night.

I am so proud.

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

The Proud Mother

When Josh started boxing I was unsure I wanted my beautiful, lovely, angry, mixed up boy doing something so violent, but you know what? It has been the making of him. He is physically and mentally fitter than he was 2 years ago, he is focused, motivated, hard working and polite (mostly - he is after all only 18!) He respects the people around him and helps with the shopping and the household chores.

His nose is a different shape to what it was a year ago, but in all it's a small change that, in general is a small price to pay for all the positive changes in him.

I'm trying to upload his fight to you tube, but as we know you tube sucks and I may need to get Josh to upload it to his account so that I can post it.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Unmitigated disasters 2

Not really but it follows on from previous thread.

I went to the Verdon Rec centre and spoke to the co-ordinator, who was annoyed that the woman employed by the centre to open, supervise and close the centre had let me down so royally. She let me off the rent (phew) and we agreed to give it four sessions to see if we can get it going and keep the oiky kids out unless they are going to pay and join in properly.

Thanks to everyone for the messages of support and the hugs both real and electronic. I'm starting to regain my sense of humour, which is partly down to having blogged about the catalogue of disasters yesterday, re-reading it and realising how funny it actually was.

By the way this is the face that kept peering through the doors at us last night. Really. It was just like this.

Anyway, I'm going in the bath now and off to bed, college tomorrow and I have fines to pay for my books, and I then have to go out tomorrow night and watch my gorgeous lovely son boxing and hopefully winning. I prefer it when he wins, he's in a better mood afterwards.

Unmitigated disasters

Tonight was the first (and possibly last) life drawing class organised by me at the Verdon Recreation Centre.

To say it was a total disaster is to play down how dreadful the whole experience was.

Only 4 people turned up. My heartfelt thanks and gratitude to those who did.

The heating wasn't on.

The woman who opened the centre didn't turn up until about 5 mins before the class was due to start.

There was a large group of unexpected, unsupervised pubescent boys who had never and I mean NEVER seen a naked woman.

The kitchen was locked, the adjoining doors were open.

So the evening went something like this:

I arrived, early, had to wait for ages to be let into the building, which was warm but not toasty.

A whole bunch of teenagers arrived and started running around the place.

I roped them into helping me set up.

The woman with the keys allowed these teenagers to stay in the building even though there were no supervised activities for them to do.

One person turned up.

Another person turned up.

Two more people turned up.

It was now 6.35, and I was starting 5 minutes late.

I got naked and stood in the first of 4 five minute poses.

1 minute into the pose a small teenager put his head round the door, his eyes popped out of his head and he closed the door.

Immediately he open the door again and stood staring at my naked.

I turned into a fish wife and shouted at them to go away, put my dressing gown on and chased them out of the room. They were allowed to stay in the building by the woman who opened up.

I resumed my pose, they broke into the kitchen and opened the serving hatch to the room we were in and half a dozen pubescent males faces leered through the hatch. I shouted again, like a fish wife, and the hatch was closed, the kitchen locked and the teenagers removed from the building.

2nd pose, the teenagers got back into the building and proceeded to come through the main door and the adjoining door to the gym, which was supposed to be locked. All were laughing and staring, pointing and generally reacting as all teenage boys who have never seen naked people will behave. I shouted again, and the members of the life class shooed them away.

Finally they were ushered out of the building and the doors locked. The kitchen was also locked and the heating seemed to go off.

The first half of the session finished without further incident. Break for a cup of tea.

The kitchen was locked, no cup of tea. The room is starting to feel cooler.

I apologise profusely for the interruptions and the disturbances, as well as the lack of tea.

We start the 2nd half of the session, 30 minute pose. Goes without a hitch but by now I am feeling the cold.

5 minutes into the 2nd 30 minute pose I am shivering, my feet are like blocks of ice and I'm feeling very uncomfortable.

I am forced to give up, apologising again for the inconvenience, and, much to my surprise and shame, everybody pays their £5.

After cleaning up and putting the chairs away I have a word with the woman who has opened the centre and explain that the occurrences are unacceptable, that I won't be paying the rent tonight, but will be seeing the centre manager the next day to discuss what happened as I am very unhappy.

So what do you think? Disaster or total calamity, and should I bother trying to run the class at the Verdon Rec Centre again?

Saturday, December 05, 2009

What am I like 3

I seem to blog more when I am in the middle of a struggle with my work. Why is that? Anyway, I have really been struggling with my living room, and sketching it. I can't seen to get the horizontals right, but I will bear with it because eventually I know I will get it and it will be brilliant.

Today I have been sketching the cats after having moderate success with the dogs last night.

Here's what I've managed so far.

Of course the problem with two cats who really really REALLY hate each other is getting them to stay still and not move qabout or start fighting when I want to draw them. I'm happy with these sketches as they were all 1 or 2 minute sketches and generally they look like cats!

I'm going to have another go with the dogs later and then try the fireplace a few more times. I may have to resort to using the tried and tested photographic method. That usually works well for me as I can get the proportions right a lot earlier in the process.

I'm going to get back to it now and hope I have something worthwhile to show later.

Friday, December 04, 2009


Right, let me just say this. I like people, I find them interesting. I like children, they are the only original thinkers on this planet. Poetry and photography have their places in my life as does literature, belief and baking.

Why is it then, that whenever I have a wander through the next blog button on my blog looking for some-one interesting to add to my blog list all I ever seem to get are people obsessed with their (to be honest) really quite dull offspring, or banging on about their belief in the "one true God", haiku's they have written but for some bizarre (yeah really?) reason can't get published, turgid poetry and truly dull book reviews. Yawn!

So here I am on my really quite dull blog asking if anyone knows of any interesting blogs worth following. Please? Thanks. XX

What am I like? 2

Finally made a start on the drawing, I just have to get over this blank paper block that I have. It doesn't matter how good my drawings are, repeated work on the same image improves the drawings at each stage, I get it, but I still have that psychological blockage. I will get over it, I will.

So here is what I've started with.

I am also working on a sample of stitched marks to see what will work best for the finished piece. I'll upload an image of that when it's done.

I spent a couple of hours doing this sketch last night, and will be working on this view more, with charcoal later and probably some inks later to get a good practice of the scene before I start adding other aspects into it. The whole thing will be full of parts of me, including dogs and cats, so I need to start drawing them again.

I feel quite fearful with this project, because even though it isn't a live project, it is based on a competition brief and I haven't yet had the guts to look at entering a competition. I will be doing it next year thought, even though really I'm not an illustrator. I do like to have some narrative in my work, so maybe that could be a way for me to go.

Anyway, let me know what you think. I need feedback.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

What am I like? 1

New project brief, based on a Victorian parlour game.

Basically you construct a self portrait with the things you like, obsess about and love. The things, living or inanimate you surround yourself with that become a part of your personality and identity. Easy then..........

Trouble is, it's an illustration project. I'm not really an illustrator, but there are some I really like and think are fantastic artists. How do I not copy their styles? Not sure.

First thoughts are that I maintain my relationship with stitch, as I like to work in textiles and stitch and it is supposed to be about me. Oh its all about me! Me, me, me, me!!!!!!!!............. And I'm back in the room.

Many and various are the things that make me, me. Cats, dogs, snakes, tattoos, mess, clutter, tv, music, food, fire, computers, art, people living and dead, anxiety, money, work, more food! tea. Cups and cups of tea, sci-fi, words, scars, pain, addictions, past and present. My son, my abortion, my mental health, my weight, my disappointments, my alleged family. Oh bloody bugger this is not going to be easy.

I think the best thing to do is just plunge in and go for it. I have ideas, but not sure I am a good enough artist to pull them off. But what the hell, I'll go for it! Yes I can! Ooh, I'm the little (big!) engine who could. Yes I can, yes I can, yes I can!

What I have so far is a sketchbook, made as usual by my own fair hand and some fabric that I have stiffened with cellulose glue to stitch into. I know the form of the work, I just need to work out the details. Off I go.