Friday, 18 June 2010

Time travel and other pursuits

After a frustrating gap where nothing has been able to proceed on the studio build, at last some progress. Boyfriend came off 12 hour shifts, and a bloke in Norfolk finally delivered the sleepers that are to be the base for the studio to sit on. The photo shows the sleepers in place, the result of several afternoons work by my boyfriend and his dad. The calm picture does not hint at the heated discussions they had over the interpretation of the word ‘level’. I kept quiet. Never come between two men and a spirit level.

A couple of weeks ago I received an email about an ‘Art Day’ at Layer Marney Tower, near Colchester. Reduced admission fees were offered to art groups who wanted to go and paint. Plus artists were displaying their work and demonstrating. It was short notice, and most of my Saturday group were unavailable, but two wanted to go. R and her husband went along, but with their little grand daughter, it was impossible for R to paint, and seeing the gorgeous surroundings and stunning flowers she said “We simply must come here again.”
Layer Marney Tower Website


S and I set ourselves up in the gardens, facing a flower bed and interesting window. We wanted to paint the poppies close up, but having forgotten sun cream were forced to retreat to a shady tree a little distance back. Of course as soon as the pictures were started the sun disappeared. Due to the complexity of the subject and the necessity to eat mini cheddars and talk about men, children and clothes, work progressed slowly. You could almost see the disappointment as people wandered past, and saw very little paint on paper. By 3.30pm the wind had got up, we were very chilly, and rain threatened, so we packed up, and went for a wander. 

After a quick look at the beautiful poppies and Iris flowers, we went into the long gallery and looked at the artwork, talked to artists (I vaguely knew a couple of them from societies I am in), and generally warmed ourselves up. Then we went up the tower, S surprising me with a sudden attack of vertigo which sent us down again and in search of homemade cake in the tea shop. All in all it was an excellent afternoon, and if it happens again next year I shall certainly go again.

Very little time for artwork this week, as it is already time to plan my Autumn classes and deal with the venue booking etc. But I did at least finish my broken mirror sun mosaic. Next I have to finish a woodland painting started at my friend D’s studio last week, and the Layer Marney garden painting.

I also sold a copy of my beach huts poster on my shop site last week. 

After earning 15 cents on the writing platform Squidoo last month, I was excited to earn over $3 this month. Friends find this amusing, but I think it’s great. Earning money just for writing stuff, there is no end to my talent for not doing proper work.

A strange thing has been happening in my house lately, regarding the digital clock on the cooker. I never wear a watch, and so use this often to keep myself on time. But recently I have had to put it forwards as much as 9 minutes, it just keeps losing time.

My daughter has a problem with timekeeping and is constantly late. In fact even to describe her as late is a misnomer as the word late suggests that she might at some stage actually arrive somewhere of her own volition. When told to dress, eat breakfast, get ready for appointments she just goes off and reads a book. The ongoing struggle to make her do anything within some kind of time frame has resulted in rules being implemented as ‘encouragement.’ So, one of the rules is be downstairs by 7.30am or miss breakfast.

 Obviously the fashion for starving children went out with the Victorians, but if she is late she gets a drink of milk and a banana instead of cereal (and she doesn’t particularly like bananas.) On Wednesday she was warned to be on time, dark threats were made regarding withdrawal of the five quid she wanted for a youth club trip to the golf driving range that evening, as well as the free (to her if not to me) taxi service. At 7.28am I was in the bathroom (which is next to the kitchen) and she had not appeared. Some considerable time elapsed. I stuck my head round the door to catch her red handed: turning back the clock on the cooker. Astonished and furious I forgot my number one rule - never swear in front of teenagers (sets a bad example.)

“What the **** are you doing to the clock!?” I yelled.

The cooker clock is no simple dial mechanism; a sequence of buttons must be pressed. I wonder how long she has been doing that for. Like a jaded army officer in Afghanistan, I have a feeling that the enemy are getting smarter. And not abiding by the rules of fair conduct. Teens 4 Adults 0. Tactical defeat.

Friday, 4 June 2010

A little me time

At the end of a hectic and busy week I did a little birthday mosaic workshop for my friend and student S. She bought along 5 friends and they made some little mosaic plaques. In contrast to my previous mosaic workshop a few weeks back they were calmer and less messy. But then the previous group did come in clutching a wine box… My heart sank when I saw the lovely peach coloured nails of one of the girls (a manicurist I think), grout and pretty nails do not get on, I hope she forgives me! Amusingly one of the ladies turned out to be my daughter’s school Textiles teacher.

The teen is away with her dad for half term, and I couldn’t resist teasing her about her teacher by text. She was mortified: “Oh my God!! You didn’t tell her you were my mum did you??? Ha Ha. Adults 1 Teens 0.

The mosaic group were lovely and seemed to enjoy their time; they were young and pretty and made a selection of pretty mosaics, hearts being a favourite. They were given instructions on how to grout them at home. The brightly coloured house number plaque belongs to the teacher; her design training showing through.

Feeling exhausted last week and determined to chill a bit during my child free week, I attended a screen printing taster day. I found it harder than I expected, a day is not long enough of course, and problems arose when layers were not dry. I hadn’t planned anything in advance and it showed. I was expecting to use stencils, but when told about a ‘blocking out solution’, I resorted to a paint brush, being most used to one. Then for the second layer I used cut out pieces of paper, the workshop scalpels being rather challenged in the sharpness department. I had difficulty with the registration (lining up the layers), as I am unused to using a template for this. When it comes to lino prints, I have steady hands so just line up by eye. The photo I have posted is the best one, and I am no means happy with it. In fact when we get our new cat I may line the litter tray with my screen print ‘art’. I have a bit of a liking for folk art motifs and trees though, and may re-visit this type of image in the future.

In all I was hoping for a quicker alternative to lino printing (and the inevitable hand ache and blisters), but whilst I enjoyed the day immensely I am not sure the process is for me. When I got home I Googled around and found that you can use electric wood carving tools on lino: now there's a thought.

I am known for my housework obsession but this week I have done none, not a jot. Instead I have been catching up on the huge pile of sewing repairs that seem to have built up, and doing my usual yearly files clear out, transferring all the stuff to my new cabinet. On Thursday the weather was so good that I decided I simply must spend all afternoon in the garden… but how to work as well, that was the problem. So I pulled out a spare mosaic base and spent a happy afternoon making a sun mosaic from broken mirror and white and yellow crockery. It came out really well, and I will post a photo when it is grouted.

Checking my emails at the end of the day: a small sale in my Zazzle store. A badge of my Malta painting, sold to… Mohammed in Dubai. Work that one out if you will, it’s beyond me.