Monday, 25 April 2011


Introducing the fourth design in my mosaic series:

Brush pen mosaic on canvas
5" x 7"

After hours of looking at that, I glanced up at my computer screen and only saw the shapes of the letters, without reading them or associating them with sounds, meaning, etc. Couldn't possibly choose to do that and I guess the last time I did was before I could read (30 years ago). Weird.

I really enjoyed this one. From the start I noticed my new batch of canvasses (exactly the same as the ones I've bought before) were bleeding the ink slightly, creating a slight blur, particularly in the centre. I decided to carry on anyway (while primer was en route to my studio) because I learned so much from the prototype I made. Having completed it, I'm enjoying the rather drunken feel that blur gives in the midst of the psychotropic effects of the rest. I really have been staring at this for too long.

I'm a week behind my schedule of a design a week. And that's with leaving no time at all for getting postcards printed and promotion. And the short story I'm working on is coming in clunky clumps at awkward moments, making it harder to plan art versus writing time. Still, Beltain's coming, which always has a new year feel to me, and this weather (plus coffee) is keeping my energy up. And I've spent my birthday money on more PITT artist brush pens :o).

This month's Bookworm book is Cassandra's Disc by Angela Green. I heartily recommend it. The title is a bit meh and the cover wouldn't have inspired me to pick it up, but the story blew me away. We are reading the memoir of Cassandra as she records her exploits, generally in relation to her very different and much favoured twin. She recreates her birth story from what she knows and imagines. The differences between the sisters are immediately obvious: Cassandra is huge, loud and dark; her twin is petite, blonde and demurely quiet. Their mother just cannot find love for them both and Cassandra is much neglected. 

Having often felt a bit of a heifer next to my 'mini me' sister and that our different temperaments have brought us different treatment, the very end of this book shocked me so much I gasped out loud!  I shall say no more, but DO read it if you can possibly squeeze it in. What I shall add is that my sister is very wonderful and our relationship in no way reflects that of the twins in this book. Thank the mercies!

Do let me know if you've read Cassandra's Disc, and any thoughts in my artwork are always welcome.
Happy Easter/bank holiday/Monday everybody!

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

A whisper is all I have

Today's post is whispered. To speak at all is a little too much, but I can just whisper.
Spring. It takes me like this sometimes. I go running into the sun, arms out, clothes off, singing and laughing... too much. Too sudden. My heart has been sheltered in her winter cloak of darkness and huddled safety for so long. This sharp exposure is a shock. My feet burn with each retreating footstep.

I tried to speak to you days ago. I sat for a long time. I typed a little. Every word boomed. Too loud. I wept. I stopped. I yearned for bed, to hide alone with a book for some hours. But it was teatime for my girl so we cuddled and swayed to Jeff Buckley until our Ent had made our food, then we read books and hung out until it was time for robot pajamas and milk and bed.

And the next day Ent worked in the morning. I could hibernate in the afternoon. But no. He had been up much of the night and needed, more than me, to be in his bed. Okay, I said. It's tough being a mum sometimes. Ickle Pickle and I were as gentle with each other as we know how, but she is so small. She needs laughter and bouncing and games and that electronic toy guitar I bought her in a truly selfless moment. She needs me to be out; open; full. I was emptying fast...

And then...Family Day. You may know this as Sunday. And I was posted back to bed, to forget 'together time', housework, planned outings; to rest, write, recoup my soul.

I scribbled in my journal for a while, until even that felt like work, then I read all of my bookclub book. More of that soon, but not now. I read for hour upon hour. I haven't read for that long for over a year and I had forgotten how it is to inhabit a written world without one ear open for a m'aidez. It was after 1:00 when I got up again, full of gratitude for my Ent and my life.

That would have been enough. I could have gone on strong from there. But the day after that was my birthday, so another day of revitalising non-work was spent with my little family. I was given splendid things, the best of which being an impressive holder for my harmonica (with room for a future second harmonica) commissioned by my Ent and made from Devon leather by our inspiring friend Tom Hirons

We spent the day by the soul-quenching sea on a forever beach just for us. Tourists crammed far away where they could see their cars and our half mile tramp/slide over immense sand dunes was richly rewarded. I danced in the sea, watched Ickle Pickle play with shells in a mob cap and lounged about in a thoroughly enjoyable manner. The sun, that tempter, blazed down, but I held true and moved slow.

So today I am a little sunburned, but I have an ocean memory to carry me when the impulse to run ahead of myself seizes me. Steps, is the way. Maybe skipping steps. And when it is really, really summer; then I can run across the green as far as the moor will take me, keeping step with myself all the while.

I have done this before; this rush and retreat. I guess I will do it again. But I am learning how to be still when I need to. I am learning that some days it is best to whisper.

Do you know this? Do you have whispering days too?

Monday, 11 April 2011

Happiness Week :o).

As advertised, Happiness Week is now upon us (yay!) as Action for Happiness launch their nationwide (British) campaign to increase cheer and contentment. For those of you who live elsewhere, all of their ideas and research can be applied anywhere, so please still check out their website.

Each time I blog this week I shall endeavour to bring happiness to you all. 
Thinking about how I might do that, I have come to realise that I am always, in part, doing just that already. This is a way for me to have a voice in the wider world and it's important to me that my input is positive. Sometimes I discuss what's not working or what I'm struggling with (see Love in the Snow and The story of an imperfect artwork), but my hope is that in sharing the trickier parts of my journey, I can support and encourage you when you come to a stonier path. Even if you're not a writer, artist, mother or animist, we're all capable of drawing analogies and learning from each other. Why reinvent the wheel every time?

For happiness in sound form, here's a beautiful link from Thomas Hine of A Basket of Leaves, a truly fantastic blog in every sense.

Just now, as I was eating my lunch, I found a story that brought me happiness in the way I was just talking about. And the strangest thing is that I found it in the Daily Mail's online paper! Now, I don't read the Daily Mail because I get angry. If you're British, you'll get the gist of my politics from that. If you're from elsewhere (please send sun), you'll know of an equivalent in your country which is generally avoided by open-minded, inclusive folk. Either way, do watch this.

So here I have discovered a story of love, courage and wisdom where I expect to find the opposite of all those things. Read it for yourself here

With little time to spare before my working day is over, I have finished my current artwork:

Brush Pen Mosaic on Canvas
5" x 7"

Thank you to those who left helpful comments on  The Spice of Life. The existence of gazanias is a source of happiness for me, as is this mosaic, even though too much light came through the canvas on the scanner. Still working on my technological prowess...

I'll leave you with a story which genuinely made me cry with laughter. Thanks to Terri Windling because I found it on her multi-faceted blog. If you click one link today, make it this one.

What makes you happy? Would you share it with us? Tell us about it in the comments, or email me direct with a link and I'll include it (credited to you, of course) during the week.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The Spice of Life

 Gazanias - 'Treasure Flowers' in progress
Brush pen mosaic on canvas
5" x 7"

Something different again. I'm still calling this a mosaic, although the tessellating technique has been very different with this piece.

I'm so pleased I've discovered Gazanias. They totally deserve the name 'treasure flowers'. All the colours and combinations I've used are true to life, and there are more I haven't used. I've stylised the form, but the variety is accurate, too. Some have pointed petals, some rounded; petals can have four or five colours in them or just one and that bizarre blue and purple example in the bottom left corner is another fantastic variation.

There's still work to do. I'm undecided about leaving white space on this one. I'm tempted to keep layering blooms behind until I've filled the canvas. What do you think? The leaves are a fascinating silver which I don't feel would work well here.

100 Stories for Queensland, including my short story, Cake, will be released worldwide on May 3rd. I was very pleased to discover that my name is on the front cover. Click this and look down the left. There I am!

Like the Gazanias, this anthology promises to be a richly diverse collection of uplifting stories from all over the globe.

And I'm pleased to announce that, in my spare time (mums, try not to wee when you laugh), I have become a Bookworm Babe. My fab friend Maria has set up a 'little' (so we thought until we had to close membership and establish a waiting list!) book club. We're in our third month, but we've only just been named and made official through the library. We're a very eclectic bunch with rather conflicting tastes in reading matter, but that's just what I want from a book club - motivation to read what I would normally pass over.

This month we're reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (catchy!) by  Mary Ann Shaffer and I'd love it if you wanted to read along with us and let me know what you think. You've got until May 2nd to finish it.

[Edit: It turns out The Bookworm Babes are at the back of a 50-book club queue for The Guernsey business, so this month we are actually reading Cassandra's Disk by Angela Green and the word on the street is to not be put off by the cover!]

And finally, if you've ever felt you've made a fool of yourself or looked ridiculous in some way, this will reassure you you are not alone.

Vive la difference!

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Illusory Reality and Breasts

Ocean Sunset
Brush Pen Mosaic

So, I've completed the second mosaic in my planned collection of twenty.  I need to do one a week to have them all ready for exhibition in September - and that's without creating cards/postcards or promoting it at all. Keep breathing, Lunar, it's all possible.

Having much enjoyed the process of creating this and sustained a 'this is working' feeling throughout, when it was actually finished, I felt disappointed. I'd worked from a photo of an actual sunset and stayed true to the colours there, but they seemed so unlikely on the canvas.

Fortunately, overnight some helpful hinky punk  (that's a Devonian pixie) had either improved the mosaic or gentled my eyes. I suspect the latter. Stepping into my bedroom to see if it was time to give a 'big banana smile' to my girl, I saw it from a greater distance; took it in as a whole, and my first thought was, yes - that is JUST how a sunset can look.

And, maybe more importantly, I liked it. Maybe it won't look 'real' to you, or you wouldn't choose to have it in your home, but I like it and that's my criterion for claiming an artwork as a success. For now at least.

And finally, you may know I'm training to be a Breastfeeding Peer Supporter with Barnardo's. At the last class, we were asked to mention it in conversation and see what reactions people have. The theory is that every time breastfeeding is mentioned, it is normalised a little, making it easier for women to do /speak about in public.

So would you please let me know how you feel about breastfeeding itself, seeing others do it, talking about it, etc? Thank you very much.

Edit: I would love to hear from men, women who haven't had a child or haven't breastfed and people who are less than easy about other folk breastfeeding in public as well as breastfeeding enthusiasts. If that doesn't cover you, I'd like to hear what you think too! Thanks. And anonymous comments are fine by me.
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