Thursday, April 27, 2006

Spill the beans!

I've been tagged directly by Melba and indirectly by Laini to "Spill the Beans"

Well the first bean that comes to mind is that I really don't like eating beans; at least not much... but growing them is fun - they grow so well and I love the way the climbing ones curl around their sticks and lift themselves up. Maybe I should just grow them for their flowers. I'm sure I read somewhere that when runner beans were first brought to the UK they were grown purely for their flowers as their beans were rumoured to be poisonous. In trying to confirm this I find a site that states that runner bean flowers are edible though sweet pea flowers are not.

Which brings me to my second bean. When I was young I was always trying to find ways to earn some money. One of my least successful attempts were the sweet peas that I planted in garden earth in plastic coffee cups. They germinated and grew but the earth went all hard and cracked. I tried to sell these unappealing specimens but no-one bought a single one. (An equally unsuccessful venture involved tracing pictures from a book called "Le Petit Lapin" then stuffing them in envelopes and attempting to get people to buy them without looking first... )

And for my third bean... I used to regularly spend my lunch hours with a few others exercising under the expert guidance of Mr Bean. He was a rugby coach and discovered that we were not up to running to his standards but a hard core of us regularly turned out for circuit training. As he was the rugby coach for a nearby RAF station we got free admittance to their gym provided it was available.

My fourth bean is the more famous Mr Bean. I can't stand him! And that's as much as I want to say about that one.

My fifth bean... I once made a small bean bag in the shape of a frog. But I filled it with grain that we had for feeding the chickens. It got left out in the rain and the grains sprouted. Which the end of that bean bag.

My sixth bean.. Another bean bag... I have one of the kind you can sit in. A turquoise one. I like to use it when reading in bed. Or in the sitting room too. Much nicer than ordinary chairs...

My seventh bean... One of my favourite stories as a child was "Jack and the Beanstalk".... maybe that is why I like seeing beans grow.... but I was always frustrated that all the heroes in the fairy tales were male and the heroines had to be saved. When I was involved in creating and putting on a pantomime I cast a woman as Princess Connectionism and she saved the sleepy prince in our version of Sleeping Beauty.

My eighth bean... If I have to eat a bean of some sort my favourite is the chickpea. Or maybe its that I like the garlic that goes with it in such things as houmous.

My ninth bean... I do like jelly belly beans... My favourite flavour is strawberry cheesecake... But I've not had any for ages... Too sugary...

My tenth bean... Is my favourite of all and is the cocoa bean.. because that of course is where chocolate comes from!

Now I've bean really mad here and insisted on spilling only beany beans. One of the last things Melba mentioned was that she enjoyed being tagged because it made her feel loved. So on that principle I'm going to tag, in no particular order:

Andrea, Reluctant Nomad, Kyknoord, Viking, Wandering Coyote, Janey, Holly, Nan, Johnny Norms and Zinkibaru

And having mentioned Andrea I really must also mention her small art blog. At the time of writing these ones are still available for $100 + $10 p&p - world wide delivery is also available - enquire for cost of shipping outside Canada.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Seeing Faces in paint

Seeing Faces

On Saturday I bought a new sketchbook - its A4, has sturdy covers and is ring bound down the long side - just what I was looking for. I immediately painted the first few pages with sepia acrylic ink which I squidged around - often by shutting the book up and then opening it again; so making two similar, but different, patterns on facing pages. This ink dries very quickly so some brush marks were often left despite this blotting. (You can see that I'm still being influenced by that Rorschach Monster blot I did almost a month ago ;-)

Since then I've been playing with the pages finding faces in there. I've found that I can do a little, leave them, then return and find new faces I'd not seen before. This is a page that I've only worked with a bit so far and a detail from it.
Seeing Faces-  detail

And now I've found that ArtsyMama is just starting an altered book challenge, inspired by A Book of Dreams. ArtsyMama is going to post one new technique a week on Wednesdays. As I already have the themes I want to work with this focus on techniques suitable to go inside a book seems synchronisitic and potentially very helpful. She has also made it clear that its fine to start with a blank book. There is still time to join in if you are interested too! See her invitation to join in here.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Wood Sprite?

Wood Sprite

Can you see what I see? I added in the faintest lines to make it clearer...

IF - Robot, Sunday Scriblings - Chocolate & Inspire Me Thursday

You may run....


... especially if its sunny and you are made of chocolate.

Robots collaged in Quality Street and Cadbury's chocolate fingers (broken), on a background made in Painter IX.

I'm not sure whether this is the way that Inspire Me Thursday was meant to be pushing with its suggestion to "Challenge Yourself to Find the Art in the Everyday" but once I'd got the idea into my head I had to play with it.

Sunday Scribblings - Chocolate

Chocolate has been an important part of my life yet I spent 17 years avoiding it. At that time I got a migraine if I had even the tiniest amount. Those days are now behind me, cured through the use of health kinesiology. I'd known how to do such a correction for 2 years before I used it and then only because I had accidentally put some chocolate in my mouth, tasted it and spat it out but then still felt the familiar bubbles at the top of my spine that heralded a migraine for me. (Some people get interesting visual distrubance with migraines I had weird sensations.) So I did the correction and discovered I also needed one for experiencing pleasure too! (HK testing is very accurate when performed competently but you either need a good practitiner or, like me, train so you can treat yourself.)

Nowadays, except when attempting to slim ;-), I have chocolate everyday... and like Johnny Depp, in Chocolat, my favourite form of chocolate is Hot Chocolate.

I hope Mr Depp likes chocolate and is not himself allergic to it as he has had two such tasty roles, Chocolat and Charile and the Chocolate factory.

Hmm... well I'm not quite sure how I got here as I'm not really much into films... but chocolate seems to have led here. Just imagine if all those coins in Pirates of the Carribean had been chocolate... the curse would have been unliftable... luckily I have learnt to lift this particular curse and I wish you all to be free of it too, if you'll accept my blessings!

And I'm sure the chocolate robots are going to have some very melting moments soon....

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Swan & Sunday Scribblings - When We Were Wee


This young swan was spotted in the Craig-y-nos country park in Wales on Easter Sunday.

I played with the magic wand (and deleting seletions) and straight cloning tool to get this effect.

Sunday Scribblings
topic for the weekend was When We Were Wee.

When I was young I got bitten on the bum by a swan

I didn't see it coming as I bent to pick up a feather

I shrieked and everyone all around heard my hurt

And I cried "Wee Wee Wee" all the way home.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Hanging on in there!


Thank you to all of you who left me messages even though I was away - your generosity is so heart-warming - thank you! I'm fine and everything here is fine too. And now I hope to have time to get back to blogging properly!

I was in Wales for Easter - amongst the things I photographed was this leaf - isn't it incredible how some trees hold on to their leaves throughout the winter?

Friday, April 14, 2006

Illustration Friday - Spotted & Sunday Scribbings - Real Life

IF - spotted

Dear Blog Friends,

Real life got in the way. I thought it would only last a day or maybe two at the most; but sometimes I just cannot tell... sorry for not replying, for not visiting and not posting for over a week.

Unfortunately real life does sometimes get in the way and over this weekend, being a holiday weekend, it may well continue to do so.

I will be back to see you all soon.

With love



Thursday, April 06, 2006

Books, books, books


Another plant using same style as previous two days. (The eraser rake I'm using was made by using the brush creator and changing the action of a rake to one of the erase actions.) I experimented with a coloured background but I'm not sure about it...

I got this over at Andrea's Colouring Outside the Lines. I didn't do as well as she did, but it was a fun exercise anyway (I copied that bit too...;-).

Meme instructions: Look at the list of books below. Bold the ones you've read, italicize the ones you might read, cross out the ones you won't, underline the ones on your book shelf, and place parentheses around the ones you've never even heard of.

The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy - Douglas Adams
The Great Gatsby - F.Scott Fitzgerald
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee This recently went from probably not to probably will read it sometime...
The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger - this has been recommended by several people and is on my list to acquire and read
His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman - fabulous triology I particularly loved the first two books...
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J. K. Rowling I've read all the Harry Potter books so far but was so put off by this one that I won't be reading the next... not even to complete the set? Well maybe...
Life of Pi - Yann Martel - I've got this on my shelf as an audio CD does that count? But I haven't listened to it yet...
Animal Farm - George Orwell
Catch-22 - Joseph Heller - read it ages ago I don't remember it at all now...
The Hobbit - J. R. R. Tolkien
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon - its there but not read yet, not sure why not...
Lord of the Flies - William Golding
Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen - I'm a Jane Austen fan though I used not to like her at all... so I'm aware my tastes change!
1984 - George Orwell - I've read most Orwell, was once a huge fan (tee hee I left Andrea's comment in here as its true for me too..) - not sure that it is on my bookshelf but it ought to be..
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J. K. Rowling
(One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
(The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini)
(The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold)
Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut - not sure - I may have read this in my dim and distant..
(The Secret History - Donna Tartt)
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - C. S. Lewis
(Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides)
(Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell)
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
(Atonement - Ian McEwan)
(The Shadow Of The Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon)
The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway - I tried this and didn't get past the first paragraph...
The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood - I've got this as audio
(The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath)
Dune - Frank Herbert

Wednesday, April 05, 2006



I liked the effect I used yesterday for the Fritilary so today I did something similar with this Magnolia.

I'm using a mixture of cloning brushes and an erasing rake in Painter IX.

The photo was taken yesterday in the last sunlight of the day.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Singing a happy song?


Following on from posting about singing on Sunday, and all the encouragement I got (thank you!), I decided to have yet another go at doing something about it...

I tried using an ecstatic body posture. The one I used came from a book called "Ecstatic Trance Positions" by Belinda Gore (uk, us). I choose one that is in the section on transformational postures. It is called the Machalilla Posture as it follows the form of an urn found in Machalilla in western Ecuador. The posture is described well in the book and is one I've used before with other intents. The position is described as one that helps shift one's perspective - which seemed like what I needed to do.

I listened to "Amazon Drumming To Journey By" by Kay Cordell Whitaker (us). And I had the intent of finding my voice.

As usual, for me, with these postures I just felt uncomfortable whilst holding it and didn't experience any kind of journey. (The book describes all sorts of wonderful daydreams that people have whilst in specific postures but I seem to only do that find of journey when I'm much more comfortable!)

But when I came back I found that something really has shifted. I can hear my voice in quite a different way and I've been laughing much more fully.

I felt sufficiently inspired that I went to my local charity bookshop and for the first time ever braved the basement where they keep music. There was a very friendly chap in there who was looking for trumpet music - he turned out to be a music teacher and he was encouraging too... I've come back and have been picking out various songs on our keyboard and singing along... (it does help that Jim is away at the moment...) and I've discovered the range within which my voice is most comfortable - somewhat lower than fits most of the music ;-)

I have also been going around singing for the fun of it - not songs just singing my thoughts and my voice sounds much better than I recall. Even my speaking voice sounds better to me.

Of course all of this is still whilst I'm on my own but even if this is all the improvement I can expect it is a wonderful step forward and I am daring to hope for more.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

IF - Spring & Sunday Scribblings

Illustration Friday - Spring

I was struggling to think what to draw this week for "Spring" until after I'd written my Sunday Scribblings. Where its clear that today, at least, I wish I was a lark or other songbird...

And for those of you who commented last week on my monster blot - I've put up an interpretation.

Sunday Scribblings have started and the first prompt is:

What would you attempt if you knew you would not fail?

I'd fly - like superman without the cape though - I'd love to just fly. I fly in my dreams and it brings me to strange lands but I'm more interested in the sheer joy of flying.

I'd fly to see all my friends and, if I knew I would not fail, I'd teach them all to fly too.

To fly without wings
To fly without things
To fly

What else?

I'd sing. Now that's a big one for me. I love to sing but not to be heard.

I've had too much bad press, poor reviews, even from cats.

But when I sing my heart really does have wings.

I have attempted all sorts of different ways of singing. I've chanted. I've practised overtoning. I've been on courses where I have to sing. All to no avail. I still get the concerned looks and bad press...

It all started when I was a little one singing in a school carol practice and the headmaster, Mr Curtois, noticed someone was singing off-key and the finger was pointed at me. I was so enthusiastic that I tried and tried...

The next finger to point at me was from my Brown Owl she said I couldn't sing in tune when we were practising carols.... but worst of all was one of the days when I'd just started comprehensive... I was called up by the music teachers to stop for an audition after assembly.... it turned out that one of my mother's friends was a locally famous singer and my mother had asked her to put in a good word for me and my music abilities at my new school... the audition was one of those hellish moments where you see people's faces turning from happily expecting to have found themselves a new soloist to wondering how they are going to mask this child's wail when she insists on singing in class!

So now maybe you wonder why my mother did this? Well I don't know! At the time I was doing well enough playing violin and recorder. But I took no exams even though I was playing grade 5 music - was I really any good at all? I don't know. My violin teacher heard me playing the piano and said I had a good hand at it. So I swapped. I bet he sighed in relief... My piano teacher was horrid and I wished I hadn't swapped. She even convinced me that I had no sense of rhythm too and after that my recorder playing went downhill - the kind teacher who organised our Renaissance Recorder group tried to help me pick up the rhythm again and started to stand behind me and gently acted like a metronome tapping me on my shoulder... all this did though was reinforce the idea that I had no sense of music.

So if I knew I would not fail I'd take back the joy of making music and not care whether or not I'm in time or singing off-key - I'd lose my self-consciousness of all this past history of upset and just go back to the joy.

And if Mr Nomad reads this he may now understand why I don't like talking about music....