Friday, 21 December 2012

Phew that was close!

I thought the world was about to end ;)

But it hasn't, and the sun has risen again, so all's well that ends well.

Midwinter blessings to one and all
May the strengthening Sun bring you love, light & laughter in the coming year.

Tonight is the great Midwinter feast,
so I'd better go and start cooking and baking.

Midwinter Menu

Mushroom Butter
with home-made toasted bread

Main course
Pork & herb sausages
with roasted winter vegetables.
Kippered Mackerel
with leeks & crushed potatoes.
Cheese stuffed chicken
wrapped in Bacon.

Individual fruit puddings

Mince pies
Cheese board

Tuesday, 18 December 2012


Winter long
Winter deep
Snow & ice
The Cailleach's keep

Mist shrouded morn
Crystal white
Shortest day
Longest night

The land sleeps
Earth rests
Heartbeat slow
within the breast

Darkness falls
Fires blaze bright
The vigil kept
All through the night

Travellers arrive
To join the feast
And await the Sun
Watching the East

A pale glow
The first soft ray
The sun is risen
Darkness driven away
The land sleeps
Earth rests
Yet heartbeat quickens
within the breast

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Five more sleeps......

until Midwinter/Yule/Winter Solstice/insert festival of choice here
and I'm really looking forward to it,
as it will be the first one that I've been able to host in a place of my own.
But more of that later in the week.

I just thought I'd stick my head up and say hello. I'm still here. 

There's been no crafting, no poetry, not even photo's of the dead leaves in the garden.

There has been partying though :)
Tuesday was Come Dine with Me at a friend's
(we don't score each other, or rummage through the drawers)
Friday was the office party
(very civilised and nothing to gossip about)
and Saturday was the Cubby Hole party
(fairly civilised, and I don't think there's any gossip)

Today has mostly been pottering about.
Made my first batch of mince pies, and they came out well. 
Maybe not as photogenic and uniform as Mr Kipling's,
but much nicer (even if I do say so myself).
And that's about it really.

Gratuitous seasonal photograph.....

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Now what?

Well now here's a conundrum. 
I've packed away my crafty stuff so that I can sort the house for the festive season,
so what on earth am I going to bore you with for the next couple of weeks?

I suppose I could regale you with tales of my Midwinter preparations and various social events,
or try and write some new poems (they may even rhyme),
perhaps a day by day photoshoot of the leaves blowing around the yard.

Decisions, decisions.......

Tuesday, 4 December 2012


Still on a roll...........

Listening to Sting's "Englishman in New York" last night, and I was inspired by the line
"At night a candle's brighter than the sun"
It's a journal page in acrylics, but applied really heavily to give some texture
(which doesn't show in the picture)

Sunday, 2 December 2012

23 days to go.....

.....and all my Christmas presents are made! 

AEDM seems to have certainly fired up my mojo.
These are the last two presents (youngest daughter & her girlfriend)
as well as another rugby canvas for a friend who wanted to pinch the one I'd made before.

On top of that I've baked,
bottled my Solstice Brew
and started planning the Midwinter Feast
which came to a shuddering halt when I got to dessert.

Anybody have a dessert recipe which is:
not too complicated,
doesn't include dairy produce,
or alcohol,
or chocolate,
or banana
and preferably can be made in advance!

Friday, 30 November 2012

AEDM Final day

 Before I get on to today's post,
I'd like to send a big thank you to Leah for hosting another wonderful AEDM,
and also to those who've joined in and made it worth while.
I hope to see some of you wandering around blogland in the future.

I promised you that today's post would be slightly different, and it is.
Instead of being the artist, I am the art.
I've been rattling around the planet now for fif*cough* years;
and for the last couple of years I've promised myself that when the time was right
and certain things had come to pass, I'd have a tattoo to mark the occasion.
Well, those things have come to pass, and the time is right, so I've spent an hour getting needled.
If nothing else, it's got to increase my street-cred with my kids ;)

(If you're wondering about the design, go and have a look at day 1)

Thursday, 29 November 2012

AEDM Day 29

Almost there, just one day to go.
And you don't want to miss tomorrow's post as it will be something completely different...........
In the meantime, back to today.
This is the latest spread in Sian's one-to-one Attitude journal.
She sent it to me with the background colours and border already in place.
As soon as I saw that quote, (bottom left) I knew where I was going with this.
The quote has been modified slightly in response to Plebgate*
Apologies to those who are offended by the picture on the left hand page**

For the enlightenment of overseas readers....

*Plebgate - also known as The Downing Street Bicycle Incident

**The smarmy ***** pictured is (unfortunately) our current Prime Minister.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

AEDM Day 28

Another quick burst of silliness today.
Not much chance to create as I've been busy with Life™.
I've even included the tools of the trade for this one ;)

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

AEDM Day 27

Another piece which has come to a (reasonably) succesful completion.
I'm not completely happy about the hand, or the face; but as a beginner with faces I'll accept it for new and move on. I'm sure there'll be more practice somewhere down the line.

Monday, 26 November 2012

AEDM Day 26

Sneaking in at the last minute today......

I've been away at a meeting all day, so no chance to blog hop.
I got home frozen through after the train was delayed,
so have had to thaw out before I could do anything creative.

Anyway, now I can feel my fingers again, here's today's offering;
the Angelic Shield in all its finished glory.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

AEDM Day 25

The biggest problem with Christmas is that there's always somebody who you can't figure out what to buy. The fact that we're doing a hand-made Christmas just exacerbates the problem.
I'd got to the stage where my grandson was going to get a tenner in a decorated envelope.
Then I saw this quote.
Problem solved!

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Friday, 23 November 2012

AEDM Day 23

Clouds scud swiftly in a leaden sky,
leafless trees bend and bow,
whilst pigeons shelter in their skeletal arms;
and all the while,
the crows dance and gambol
and ride the wild wind.

Just a flying visit for now. There may be more later.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

AEDM Day 22

Nothing spectacular today, just an update on the angel canvas.
The wings have been given a couple of coats of Stewart Gill 'Alchemy' paint to give them a good shimmer when the light hits.
The background will be getting a re-paint to make the wings stand out more,
and the centre will also be changing.
Watch this space......

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

AEDM Day 21

Blimey, we're 2/3 of the way through AEDM and still going strong (even if I did miss a day).
Today it's back to the journal, although I have done a little on the angel canvas.

As some of you will know, a while back I was diagnosed with heart failure.*
It's not the end of the world, it just means that my medicine cabinet now has something more interesting than Rennies and Paracetamol in it;
and I have to make a couple of changes to lifestyle and diet.
Don't worry, wine is allowed!
Anyway, one of the symptoms is that occasionally my heartbeat doesn't quite feel right, sort of fluttery. I've kept quiet about it at work, but a couple of people know, and to stop too many questions, if I'm feeling a bit under the weather, it's become known as "a touch of the flutters";
which just had to become a journal page, so here it is :)

*No sympathy required, just filling in the background
If you want sympathy, go and see the padre.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

AEDM Day 20

Another canvas for a friend, and another spiritually inspired piece.

I have a rough idea where this is heading, and hopefully by time I've got the wings in place (rather than the current rough sketch) I'll have the rest of it figured out.

Out of curiosity, does anybody else paint 'blind' (so to speak)?
I need glasses for close work (less than 3') but I sometimes find it helpful to work without them, especially on backgrounds or for drafts.
I find that it stops me fixing on details, and instead work on the structure. It's especially good when doing under-painting as it reduces things down to dark & light.

Monday, 19 November 2012

AEDM Day 19

Another day where life didn't go as planned, interruptions and distractions aplenty, but there has been some creativity.

I've been able to add some detail to the canvas I started on Day 2. There's still a way to go yet, but it's taking shape. It's mostly detail work now, especially the face and hands, which will probably take forever, but it will get there.

The lady in the picture is Brigid or St Brigid, depending on your viewpoint. It will be a Christmas present for a friend.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

AEDM Day 18

Some of you may remember my Steampunk butterfly from this year's Cubby Hole Exhibition. Well, here's a smaller, simpler version as a present for a friend. This is a 4x4 canvas.

It's a glorious, frosty autumnal morning here, and I'm feeling energised which is why this is being posted so early. There will hopefully be more art later, but for now it's time for making bread.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

AEDM Day 17

Unfortunately, there was no AEDM post yesterday due to illness (nothing serious, just enough to stop the mojo).

Today's offering is a journal page. It's my page in Sonja's Desert Island Discs journal, inspired by the Waterboy's "Whole of the moon"; No' 6 on her list.

There's also a canvas on the go, but not quite finished yet.

Finally, for those who were worried about my recent music choices; I'm back to normal;
Tom Waits, Screamin' Jay Hawkins & Airbourne.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

AEDM day 14 & 15

Day 14

There has been creativity, but nothing for the blog. Some has been prep work for upcoming projects; priming canvas, cutting card and so on. 
The other I can't show as it's work related. I look after our database at work, and the afternoon was one of those quiet periods that happen from time to time. So I decided to put the time to good use and reworked the front screen to include candles, ribbons and other Christmas stuff to cheer the team up in December. What can I say, I'm all heart:)

Day 15

This is the second recipe book. I've decided to scrap the pot-luck idea and decorate them to suit each daughter.
The one from the other day will go to the eldest.
This one will go to the middle one, the Goth one, who has black & red walls in the front room. It should fit right in.

I have to say, it wasn't easy to get this right whilst listening to cheesy 80s/90s music. Maybe I should have gone for Evanescence or Within Temptation.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

AEDM Day13

If you're waiting for an explanation of this, don't hold your breath; there isn't one!
 I have no idea where it came from, what it represents or what deep and meaningful message it's supposed to send.
I was enjoying a nice glass of Shiraz, some cheese & crackers and listening to Edwin Starr* when it just popped into my head.
Suggestions, interpretations and plain old guesses on a postcard.

*Specifically, "War!"

†Woman silhouette is a stamp.

Monday, 12 November 2012

AEDM day 12

This is inspired partly by last week's Reiki share.
After we had finished and I was on my own again, I chilled out and put on a CD whilst I had a play with ink & paper. The CD was Canto Gregoriano by The Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo De Silos, which I've had for donkey's years. 
Gregorian chant was the 'latest big thing' in the early nineties, for people to chill to, until it was replaced by another 'latest big thing'. There are probably thousands of copies of this gathering dust at the back of people's CD collections, along with Enigma and Mr Blobby
(if you don't know what that is, be thankful).
Anyway, as I was saying, I put the CD on, and was happily inking away, when the thought came to me that this beautiful, soulful music comes from a place that would normally be associated with solemnity, restraint and dullness (monastic orders are known for their spartan, reserved life-styles; not their psychedelic tie-dye skills).
And so this page was born, a grateful nod to the beauty of the serene music that originated within cold grey stone walls.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

AEDM Day 11

It's back to Christmas presents again today.

My daughters have decided that we're doing a hand-made Christmas this year (for grown-ups and the older kids at least).

I've decided to put together recipe books for my daughters, with recipes that they won't find in books, or on the 'net. These are recipes that I've collected from friends and family, or made up (or adapted) myself. There's a couple of their mum's recipes too, so I'll make sure there's tissues handy.

This is the first one; "Ye Olde Recipe Boke". 

No idea which daughter it's going to, it will be pot-luck.

We will remember them

This isn't from me (though I did contribute).
Full details here.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

AEDM Day 10

Today was going to be a day of much arty craftiness. Needless to say, life had different ideas.

By now there should be a journal page, Christmas gift and possibly something else for me to display, instead there is the vaguest start of a journal page to show.
If anybody can guess what it is before I finish it, they can have a 4x4 mini-canvas as a reward.

Friday, 9 November 2012

AEDM Day 9

Nothing spectacular today. 

Last night was Reiki share night, so not a lot of time to create.
This was me playing around with inks and a stencil, just keeping my eye in, so to speak.

Have a happy Friday :)

Thursday, 8 November 2012

AEDM Day 8

He sleeps
His pack for a bed
Cold unyielding metal for a pillow.
Cradled in his arms, his rifle,
His constant companion.

Tyres whine on hard road
Metal squeaks and creaks and groans
Canvas slaps in the cold slipstream
The engine sings its song
A steady, monotone lullaby

The lullaby changes
The tyre's whine becomes a rumble
He is aware
Head lifts, hands move, alert
Around him in the dim light others react
Listening, waiting

The truck slows, gears descending
A lurch and he's pushed against the side
The engine growls, speed picks up
Just a bend, just a bend
He relaxes, huddles down

He sleeps,
And listens,
And waits

I had thought of saving this for Sunday, but I'll do something different for that occasion..

As I said on Monday, this idea has been rattling around in my head for quite a while. I can't remember what initially sparked the desire to sketch it, but the imagery comes from my past.
I can't count how many times I've sat in the back of a Bedford, huddled up against the cold, lulled to a shallow sleep by the sounds of the truck, trying to put off that final moment when it will come to halt and we'll have to climb out and face the future.
Mostly it would be the prospect of spending a day on a barren freezing range, or having to spend a few days in the middle of nowhere on a training exercise.
But occasionally the future was unknown.......

This is for all those others who have taken the same ride.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

AEDM Day 7

So, I had a play with the idea from Day 5.

Rather than water colour I decided to try gouache, a new medium for me, and this is the result. I'm not happy with it. 

It's not how I envisage it; it's too bright, too much colour. It should be darker, more shadowy.

Oh well, I'll just try something else until I get it right.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

AEDM Day 6

Well, it's only 48 days away, so I figured I could safely post something about Christmas.

These are handmade pocket diaries for friends. The covers are made from recycled calendars, covered with PVA soaked kitchen roll and tissue. They've taken a few days of patiently watching them dry, but last night I was finally able to add the embellishments to finish them.

I took the easy route with the inserts and bought them.

Monday, 5 November 2012

AEDM Day 5

This is an idea that's been floating around in my head for quite a while, so I figured I'd actually do something about it.

A quick draft sketch on scrap paper. I may transfer it to a journal page and add some water-colour, not sure yet.

There will also be words.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

AEDM Day 4

If I said "mediæval music" what would you think of?

Maybe some wonderfully harmonised choral pieces by the Mediæval Bæbes?
Or folksy type ballads by Blackmore's Night?
Perhaps you went for sacred choral chants sung by hooded monks.
All very wonderful music, and quiet relaxing in their own way.

Turn It Up! isn't about relaxing music, it's about volume!*
Allow me to introduce Corvus Corax, a German group of very talented musicians who are the mediæval equivalent of heavy metal.
Whilst the Bæbes and co were trying out for "Britannia haveth talent",
Corvus would have been headlining "Ye Olde Download Feftival".

Turn it up, and enjoy!

and a clip of a live performance (keep still if you can).

*For new readers, Turn It Up! is a collaborative journal between myself and Sian at Live-Scrap-Love. Sian's journal is Attitude!

Saturday, 3 November 2012

AEDM Day 3

And no baking!

A quick silly page to get a new journal broken in.

This was inspired by a snippet of conversation overheard whilst selling the baked goodies at the market. £60 raised for BHF.

Thanks to Wendy for inspiration.

Friday, 2 November 2012

AEDM Day 2

and more baking...

Bread this time, and thankfully that's it. Now I've just got to sell it tomorrow.

I've also had a dabble with the acrylics, and got the foundation in place for a painting.

Hopefully I'll have more time to play each day now that I've escaped the kitchen.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

AEDM Day 1

Today sees the start of Art Every Day Month.

I've been a little busy today with a different kind of creativity - baking.

This is the second day of a 3 day baking marathon, ready for the Artisan Market on Saturday. Yesterday was Slug Cake, today was Parkin, tomorrow is bread.

I couldn't let AEDM start without something though, so it's a quick 5 minute sketch.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

"The time has come,"

 the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of songs--and canvases--and Featuring: magazine--"

Well, another 3 week gap, despite best intentions. Every time I sat down to write this, something happened to distract me. ho hum, such is life.

First off, Songs!
Over at Collabor-ART we're starting a new CJ based on Desert Island Discs. Each of us has created a top 10, which will do the rounds, with each person picking a song and creating a page for it. Mine is a "Tracks of my years" list, not necessarily my 10 favourites, but 10 tracks that mean something  to me; a place, a person, a time.
The hardest part was picking 10 songs. There's dozens to choose from and narrowing it down wasn't easy, but I got there in the end.  Once that was done, it was a case of creating pages, sign-in discs, etc and then creating the first page.

 Yes, I was once that young!

The whole list is;
Brighton Rock – Queen
Caroline – Status Quo
Tainted Love – Soft Cell
Vienna – Ultravox
Street Tuff – Double Trouble & the Rebel MC
A New England – Kirsty MacColl
The Lark Ascending – Vaughan Williams
Beltaine – Jethro Tull
Read ‘em and weep – Meatloaf
Freebird – Lynyrd Skynyrd
Another project at Collabor-ART is now coming to an end, a travelling canvas. This left me six months ago as a blank canvas with a bit of red paint on it. It returns as a multi-layered piece of collaborative art, ready for display, once I figure out where.

Lastly, magazines. Or one magazine in particular - Featuring:
Generally I don't read  craft magazines as I find most of them to be dominated by card making, scrap-booking and cuteness. Nothing wrong with that, but it's not for me. The exception in the past has been Somerset Studio, but recently I've found that it doesn't hold my attention. I received the latest issue and skimmed through it in 10 minutes, with only one article catching my eye.
Thankfully there's a new kid on the block Featuring:
It's edited and produced by Marit from Marit's Paper World, and it is a real breath of fresh air. In the whole magazine I noticed only one (yes, one) advert. The articles are well written, well illustrated, and are actually worth reading, rather than just looking at the pretty pictures. Also, it's not centred on the US/Canadian market either, it's international. Seriously, get a copy and read it if you can - you won't regret it.
Oh, and there's no adverts on the back cover. Just mini art from readers - like me :)

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Dad dancing?

This is a crafty version of an ear-worm*

I have no idea why it came to be stuck in my head, but it did, and like an ear-worm the only way to get rid of it was to journal it.

Ok, by now, those outside the UK are probably wondering what I've been 'using' (as well as many in the UK) but I'm clean - well, apart from the stains on my shirt, but that's because I couldn't find my bib.

Big fish, little fish was a dance move from the 90's, usually performed at raves, and for a while the phrase was used in a mocking way to describe what some of us pass off as dancing.

This was started yesterday at the Cubby Hole, and finished off at home. After much discussion, we found that only 2 people (plus me) knew what I was on about, which led to accusations that we were weird. As the other two were Paul, and Sue Roddis there may be some truth in it.

*Ear-worm - a song/tune that becomes lodged in the brain and keeps repeating, possibly only one or two lines. Usually something banal and irritating e.g. The Wichita line man. The only way to exorcise it, is to listen to the whole song, or find something else to replace it.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Odds & sods, bits & bobs

Ye gods!  3 weeks!

So much for getting back to blogging etc. Once again, life has managed to get in the way. Nothing spectacularly earth shattering, just life. Oh well, it's better than the alternative!

There has been creativity, just nothing really worth blogging. Some birthday cards, gift tags, that kind of thing. Plus background work for other projects; making blank journals, backgrounds on canvases and so on.

At one point I got a little bored of all this preparation, and just wanted to create something purely for the sake of it, and inspiration came in the form of a blog entry by the wonderfully talented and inspirational Pauline Leger.

It's nothing fancy, deep or meaningful, just a quick burst of 'stream of conciousness' random creativity.  

I've also signed up for AEDM2012

Last year was my first year, and it was a blast. Apart from art I also managed some poetry and short prose, and it's a great way to get the mojo going. It also introduced me to some amazingly talented blogger artists. 

Thursday, 6 September 2012

And the featured artist is......


If you want to know a little more about loon behind the keyboard, I've been 'interviewed' by the wonderfully talented Jennibellie.

Take a look here for the answers.

P.S. Yes, I know it's now Thursday, I've been busy, OK! 

*wanders off muttering*

Sunday, 2 September 2012

The Morrígan

It's done!

Some of you may recall that the wonderfully talented Palma Rea was kind enough to paint an image of The Morrígan for me a while back. She produced a wonderfully vibrant painting, drawing on the myths and legends for inspiration, which is currently on display as part of an exhibition, but will soon be coming home to be proudly displayed.

However, I now present another view of The Morrígan, a modern view, based on my own perception. She is neither good, nor evil; She simply is. I've been asked before, how does an English/Welsh Reiki healer end up with an Irish battle goddess as a guide? I guess she's there as a reminder that the world isn't all sweetness and light.

This is acrylic on canvas, and my first attempt at a portrait. I'm still not 100% about the face, but there's only so many times I can rework it before it becomes a mess. Also, ignore the slightly patchy look to some parts of the image, it's my dodgy photography.

For those who are unaware of The Morrígan, a quick Google will pull up plenty of historic/mythical information (some of which should be taken with a large pinch of salt).

Monday, 27 August 2012

Two steps forward.... step back.

So much for being on the mend. Since my last post my artistic output has been Nil. Zilch, Zero, Nada. That's what you get for bragging. Ah well, after two weeks of being poked, prodded and scanned the medical profession have finally come up with an answer and it's now official, I'm another step down the path towards being a doddering, decrepit old fart (who said I'm already there?). Oh well, more bloody tablets to try and remember to take. Hopefully I'll now get chance to come and visit more blogs, and actually have the energy to comment.

Anyway, moving on...

In my last post (you know the one where I said I was on the up) I showed you a background for a picture I'd been prodded to paint. Well, I've now managed to get a bit further with it.
So far it's not too bad, a quick sketch, a bit of gesso, and then some underpainting. There's also a hint of a face in there, but that's the scary bit, so it will be left until last. This is me going out on a limb. I've done the occasional bit of painting before, but nothing as detailed as this, and I really want to get this right. No pressure then!


In other news......
I had dinner (tea) at my daughter's today, and had a nice long chat with my eldest granddaughter about art and GCSE's. She's just scooped 4x A* in Art, plus another 4 As in other subjects, and nothing lower than a C. She's about to go to college to study art.
*Proud Grandad moment*

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Mojo rising?

There has been creativity over the weekend, as well as harvesting, so things may be on the up. Having said that I was at the docs this morning being prescribed ABs for a bug. 
Maybe I should have called this "Temperature rising" ;)

Before I show off the latest creations, I'm going to brag that I harvested around 6lb (3kg) of potatoes, and a large tub of chillies on Sunday. Not a bad first attempt from somebody who doesn't have green fingers.
All I need now is for the apples to finish ripening :)

And now, back to the art.

This is the backdrop to a painting which is probably going to take me weeks/months/forever to finish, as it includes a face, and I'm not that skilled at faces - yet.
This has already been re-painted once, and would have been redone a third time but I decided that it was good enough for the background, especially when a big chunk of it will be painted over.
Watch this space......

Sunday, 29 July 2012

And now for something completely different.....

and it's nothing to do with Monty Python, it's the latest page in the 'Turn It Up' journal, and there's not a single electric guitar in site. It is, however, loud; Very, loud!

This page is inspired by the "Dies Irae" from Verdi's "Messa de Requiem" (Requiem Mass). The Dies Irae (or Day of wrath) is based on the Day of Judgement, and it's possibly one of the most powerful and stirring pieces of music ever written.

You'll want to turn this one up; but don't blame me if you have to buy new speakers!