Sunday, July 02, 2017


When you discover the one thing you thought about yourself wasn't true and all along it was the other person. It is enough to make you want to run through the streets singing at the top of your voice.

By the by, how disappointing that the official video for this song is not on YouTube.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Just Surviving

I am still not out the other side yet, I've had to make some tough decisions this past couple of weeks thanks to things not really working out for me. Dark days make it harder to see the dawn, I'm not there yet.

Things I have learned:

  • I am too soft. I happily support others yet when all I ask is for a little hello, a share, a like, I get nothing. 
  • I hate being a "businesswoman" although I am back in the travel industry and now kick myself for ever having left I am not in a happy place. It is exhausting, and when you have no energy to start with exhausting is simply impossible.
  • I am probably a very shit businesswoman. I just can't see how others are growing. I know the tricks, I've had the advice and been to the workshops. I've followed all the rules and yet, I post to the world and it is ignored. Normally, I would be happy with that - this blog is pretty much ignored - but not when it means I am failing at what I wanted to do.
  • I have lost sight of who I am. I no longer paint, I no longer sew, I no longer write, I no longer go on days out with my sons, I no longer do anything that would constitute as "me time". Instead, I've fallen into this cycle of working endlessly for no return at all.
  • The anti-depressants don't always keep the wolf from the door. I hate that analogy, wolves are wonderful creatures. I should maybe say werewolf as being part human would warp the most marvellous of creatures. I can't take a higher dose as it makes me even more tired as if that was possible. Well, it is.
  • There are things that I am good at but unless people take note then it is not worth anything at all. I can't raise my sons on zero money.
When I was a teenager I loved watching old films and foreign films. I would wish to be as beautiful, articulate, to be as cool as the female protagonist. Not just to bewitch the handsome leading man but to also to feel happy in my own skin. 

This film, in fact, this one scene of the film, had me wear kilts, black jumpers and black tights for many years. Not to copy Anna Karina, there was no way I could be that beautiful, but because I loved to wear that uniform of mine. It made me happy, I felt comfortable and confident. I haven't felt that way in years. How do I get back to it? I am lost.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

February Done

Already a sizable bite has been taken out of March and it's another busy month ahead. In the chaos I forgot to say goodbye to February so here we are -

Todo transfer:
Edith Holden
Rie Cramer, maandenboeken : Februari, sprokkelmaand. 1:
Rie Cramer
Alphonse Mucha - Février 1899 // The Months - February, 1899.:
Alphonse Mucha - 1899

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Dream Interpreters - Interpret This!

First a whinge. Bought a shiny, red apple coloured new car. Lovely. Went to pick it up, alas there is a problem with it. This doesn't bode well and I knew I shouldn't have gone to that dealership but as self-employed (credit cliff edge) I didn't have much choice. This is why people drink.

Anyway, onto the dream which, ten hours after waking up, I can still remember really well. It's too bizarre not to post for posterity.

I arrived at this ordinary terraced house (the kind you find in every Scottish town). I was to look after this huge 10-month-old baby. And I mean, this lad was the size of a three-year-old.

Turns out the family were throwing a birthday party for him (at 10-months-old) and I had to take him there. Off I went, had to take a tram, while carrying this baby who had a distinctly wet nappy and, oh, I had nothing to change him with. He was a perfectly nice baby, by the way, all smiley and cheery. 

The tram had the seating arrangement you'd usually find in a subway carriage and to get to the door you had to pass through one set of doors and stand on this open area which then would let you onto the platform.

The building this party was in was underground too (so maybe it wasn't a tram but I remember people using the word "tram" and talking about taking the tram, being on the tram etc. rather than underground or subway). We ended up in this purple corridor which led down to the rooms. It sounds sinister but didn't feel like that at all. I got to the door where the family and friends were and handed the baby over.

At this point, it turned out the family were Polish and I was wondering how they had heard about me (obviously, my job in this dream was giant baby transporter). I thought about Polish friends I have and if they were in the room, no idea why I didn't go in but I went to another room which was like a school gymnasium and there was some sort of performance going on.

A group of children (looked like about P6-7 so 10ish in age) were sitting in rows as though to get their class photograph taken. People standing in front of them had different coloured sheets which they then held up and you had to reach through them.

At that point, I woke up.

You can imagine my disappointment.

Analyse that!

Image result for red fiat 500x
This is the kind of car I should have been already driving but it'll now be next week...hopefully...
This is why it's taken my six years to change my car, it's a painful experience when you're self-employed!
I can feel a crash bubbling away in my forehead, I really cannot deal with another hard year. I do feel like I want to check out. A simple life with no stress would be bliss right now.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Normal Service Will Resume...You Know The Score

This last week has been an education in stress levels. In other words, if my hair wasn't dyed purple it would no doubt have gone completely grey. 

I'm behind on my art project, I can't afford those lovely, relaxing moments with my pad and paints. And it's very telling how much those stolen moments have meant to me. With that in mind...

I'm going to keep using these prompts. They are giving me the opportunity just to paint, not to have to think of subjects. Just paint.

This time I'm going to upload in batches, it seems to work best. And I might use pastels instead of watercolour or mixed media or possibly something else. I'll take these ideas and run with them.

Meanwhile, it's bad to the stress. I'm not quite out it yet...not quite. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Another Little Bunch of Sketches - Day 17-20

It seems to be working, uploading a few at a time. So here we are again, let's go.

Day 17 - Shells

Oops, missed the plural, so just shell then. I have dozens of shells, collected from all over Scotland, whenever I visit a beach I look out for interesting shells and sea glass. It makes for a happy day. Simple things and all.

I had difficulty in trying to make the shadows not look as though the whelk shell was coloured. I don't know that it worked so well. Again, this is another subject I'd like to come back to in more depth. Yet painting everyday has been very cathartic, even though the results are sometimes iffy at best.

Day 18 - Plants

For weeks we had beautiful violet-coloured hyacinths filling the living room with their rich, heady smell (or as youngest son put it "Wow, they stink!") The flowers are gone and the leaves are now gathering sunlight for the bulb. Yes, my disastrous gardening efforts are about to attempt to regrow hyacinths rather than chuck the bulbs in the compost.

We'll see what happens when the leaves finish their job and begin to die. Until then they are still resplendent in green.

Day 19 - Eggs

Oh dear, it looked okay but the dim February light was kinder than the camera on my phone. It didn't work as well as I thought and I didn't realise that until uploading the photograph. 

Many years ago I visited Germany just before Easter and bought a set of plastic, decorative eggs. Hence the brown string. They now sit in a dish on the hearth. 

Let's call this one a fail.

Day 20 - Bugs

Okay, see what I did here? Ho ho, clever clogs me.

In light of last week, when this bottle saw me through the night without coughing up a lung, I thought it apt.

A bit wonky but lots of fun to do and that's the point.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Play Stopped By Cold

My darling youngest son kindly passed on his nasty cold to me so this week has mostly been spent with a cough that makes me sound like a barking seal and battling against a river of snot. 


Again, updates are a few days at once. Some better than others, it's calming to paint when you know you should be working but can't because stringing more than a few words together is impossible. Under the influence of cough syrup you see.

Day Twelve - Puddles (and a new word that I sort of already knew)

If you can't read my scrawl it says "Hoppipolla (Icelandic) - Jumping into puddles"
I remembered the word from this by Sigur Ros -

Love the song and the video, why I didn't find out at the time the meaning of Hoppiloppa when, from the video, it's kind of made obvious. For what are puddles made for if not to jump in?

Day Thirteen - Rainbows

How tempting would it have been to draw a stupid looking bear or egg type creature? (Yeah, only me then.)

Painting an actual rainbow would have been interesting but would have reminded me too much of being back in primary school. Maybe throw a unicorn into the mix for luck. So I went with the idea of colours, colours in nature and, of course, that meant (to me) - 

Day Fourteen - Fire

One of my favourite places on this earth - Timanfaya means fire mountains. Apt.

Day Fifteen - Leaves

I haven't managed to kill this plant yet. 


Day Sixteen - Rocks

I might come back to this one again but rocks to me mean the Scottish seaside - rocks and beaches in equal measures to be fair.

Went far too dark in the background hills, makes it look like another piece of clothing on the line.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Seven to Eleven

I did forewarn this challenge with the disclaimer that I would mostly be doing quick watercolour sketches and not to expect much. That has come true. So here we go with the dodgy and skew-whiff -

Day Seven - Bone

Oh, see what I did here, the prompt was bone and I painted a bone china cup and saucer. (At least I think it's bone china, I wouldn't know the difference. It's from my grandmother's tea service so I've probably guessed right.) 

Day Eight - Birds

I want to keep practising on items in front of me and as the local birds never stay in the same spot for long then I decided to honour a little ornament I have.

Day Nine - Silver

Oh-oh, almost binned this, then I remembered, it is all good as no one immediately paints perfectly. And if they do, well, boo to them! It's *meant* to be a silver ring.

Yes...quite...oh dear.

Day Ten - Mammals

Just one mammal, my mammal - believe it or not (and I think you'll believe it) this is my first time sketching Happy Dog. He stayed long enough to get this done before wandering over to see why I kept staring at him.

Day Eleven - Trees

I have a few birch trees visible from my window, so I added some more. All "contemporary" like. Yeah.

Despite the somewhat dubious results, I am enjoying the 20 minutes I'm setting aside each day to paint. I'd like a little more but earning pennies is taking up nearly all my time at the moment. How lucky are those who can afford to do this all the time. I've been pushing myself too much these past few weeks and the ME/CFS faerie has granted me a stingingly sore throat and barking cough as a reward. I can't stop.

Tomorrow it's "puddles" - I've lost track of the days and the boys only had Friday off so far. It's February break, any break would be nice.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Day Five - Landscapes

(Hint: when taking photos of somewhere try to write down the location. It's always helpful.)

I think if I worked on this a little more it might actually be okay.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Day Three (sort of) and Day Four #Worldwatercolorgroup Challenge - February

First the easy one:

Day Four - Fruit

Bonus, you get to eat the subject afterwards. Not always the case, especially if you're a portrait artist. This was fun. Note to self - sketch more fruit. Then eat it.

The reason I skipped Day Three? The prompt was "fossil", now I could be a jolly japester and paint an old person but I'm trying to be polite. We do have one fossil, for the life of me, I can't remember what it's called. Sons bought it on one of their visits to Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh. It would be an interesting sketch so I may come back to this if I get the time to look for it.

With this in mind, I thought of something that would still encourage creativity. My other favourite - reading. And there's only one book that came to mind.

Remarkable Creatures

By the author of two of my favourite books (The Girl with the Pearl Earring and The Lady and the Unicorn if you're asking), this is the story of Mary Anning. An amazing woman with an intriguing life. Once again the familiar tale of a woman's scientific achievements either being accredited to men or dismissed altogether. She overcame this adversity to become one of the most renowned palaeontologists of the 1800s.

Hey, maybe instead of sketching a fossil I don't remember the name of I should do a quick sketch of Mary instead? (Dangerous as I'm not a portrait artist at all and avoid people where I can.)

Watch this space!

Thursday, February 02, 2017

A Twofer - Day One and Two of Watercolour Challenge

Day One - Sea Life

And the sharp eyed will notice the use of pastel in what is supposed to be a watercolour challenge but it's my painting so "ner"! This was a lot of fun to do. It didn't start off as a seal, I had a play around with the background without a formal plan of what would happen. I did think it would end up as a landscape of some form. But I do love seals, from watching the little harbour seals play off Newport beach in Millport to trying to distinguish them from grey seals. I'm incredibly bad at recognising the little differences. Last year I thought I spotted baby seals, turned out it was otters!

Day Two - Flowers

Following orders for this one and yes, my inability to recognise things also includes flowers so I don't know what this is. I have lovely hyacinths which have wilted somewhat, I should have maybe painted them instead so I didn't sound so daft. Am noting I went slightly (more than slightly) skew-whiff on the glass pot I used but it's meant to be a quick sketch so I'll blame that.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Goodbye January

Usually, January is a slow, seemingly endless grey month. Not this year, this year will go down in history, hopefully not as a precursor to the awful events that follow but as a warning. 

So that was January.

Edith Holden

Several people who are dear to me were born in the month of January | Artwork by the Artist/Naturalist Edith Holden:

Wonderful Victorian illustrator painted these lovely bunnies...:

Elsa Beskow

Elsa Beskow~ so fresh and rosie cheek wintery sweet!:

Rie Cramer

Rie Cramer - January:

 Rie Cramer - 1939:

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Starting Wednesday

My only artistic outlet at the moment seems to be hours of browsing wonderful images on Pinterest and as lovely and comforting as that is it's not a patch on actually creating.

I miss the art class only because for two hours all I concentrated on was the painting or pastel or sketch in front of me. Being in that creative bubble was extremely healthy but I can't switch off enough to replicate that at home.

So, does anyone care to join me on this? 

Perhaps I'll only be able to fire off a quick sketch, I'm in the middle of starting a new venture in the hope that I can stop being a poor mouse but I need to force myself to take a break. I might even end up continuing my posts on artists as they are so enjoyable to collate. But I'll stick to the theme. No taking bets on when I tail off as happens occasionally (all the time) when I have such noble intentions.

January has been madness, February needs to be that moment of calm before Spring. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Burn's Night

And in lieu of haggis, neeps and tatties, this seems appropriate.

A Man's A Man For A' That

Type: Song
Tune: For a' that.
Is there for honest Poverty
That hings his head, an' a' that;
The coward slave-we pass him by,
We dare be poor for a' that!
For a' that, an' a' that.
Our toils obscure an' a' that,
The rank is but the guinea's stamp,
The Man's the gowd for a' that.

What though on hamely fare we dine,
Wear hoddin grey, an' a that;
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine;
A Man's a Man for a' that:
For a' that, and a' that,
Their tinsel show, an' a' that;
The honest man, tho' e'er sae poor,
Is king o' men for a' that.

Ye see yon birkie, ca'd a lord,
Wha struts, an' stares, an' a' that;
Tho' hundreds worship at his word,
He's but a coof for a' that:
For a' that, an' a' that,
His ribband, star, an' a' that:
The man o' independent mind
He looks an' laughs at a' that.

A prince can mak a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, an' a' that;
But an honest man's abon his might,
Gude faith, he maunna fa' that!
For a' that, an' a' that,
Their dignities an' a' that;
The pith o' sense, an' pride o' worth,
Are higher rank than a' that.

Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a' that,)
That Sense and Worth, o'er a' the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an' a' that.
For a' that, an' a' that,
It's coming yet for a' that,
That Man to Man, the world o'er,
Shall brothers be for a' that.

In a week that saw the Scottish Parliament told they are subservient to Westminster (as always has been, as always will be until independence) then this version of the song is apt. I wonder how much more unionist inclined Scots will take before realising we need to be making our own decisions, for good or for worse. Many of them will be celebrating at a Burn's Supper tonight, completely ignoring the meaning of the words they recite. It's a strange mindset. I'd like to be in an independent Scotland as part of the EU but I'll take the former first and foremost. For a' that.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Vulpes Vulpes

The Way Through the Woods - Hester Cox:
The Way Through the Woods - Hester Cox
Uuju aka Paula (Finland) -Kesakettu (The Summer Fox) from the Fox series, 2012:
Uuju aka Paula (Finland) -Kesakettu (The Summer Fox) from the Fox series, 2012
Hello, Mr Fox - Belle and Boo
Too soon perhaps
Photo by groene_inkt on Flickr
A friend to Lucas by bobi + bobi:
Un ami pour Lucas
Photo by _bobi + bobi on Flickr

Saturday, January 21, 2017

When They Go Low, You Go High

So said Michelle Obama during the presidential campaign that, despite highlighting Trump's worst behaviours, saw him crowned as president. And yesterday saw his inauguration in Washington D.C.

There was a bit of a difference from when Obama became president, just a teensy, weensy bit.
It was the weather that kept the crowds away...or they forgot....or....

His equally abhorrent VP - Pence, who believes gay people can be "cured".

So today was the #womensmarch and it went global. If yesterday filled everyone with dread then today showed that hope is still alive. Starting in New Zealand and Australia, with the timezone differences, it grew in strength as each continent woke up, made their placards and hopped on the bus or train.

Follow these links to see what happened in Denver, Chicago, Washington D.C., St Louis. You get the idea. Since yesterday the White House website has scrapped their pages on LGBT rights, climate change, immigration, health care. Trump is going to be every bit as bad as imagined. Never mind about giving him a chance. A chance to do what? He has shown what he intends to do and it's not good (unless you're an old, white, rich man or are married to one).

A friend said to me the other day (on Trump) that the darkest hour is before the dawn. I think we have our new dawn. Now if people would just protest against injustice here like

Friday, January 13, 2017

Friday 13th

It wasn't the mad masked man, Jason Voorhees, who showed up to ruin the day but my own bad penny version. I wish I was strong enough not to let it turn me upside down but I guess I never will be. The worst part is that it worked it's way between Eldest son and so I sit tonight with a gut-wrenching sadness.

At times like this, I feel adrift, that I wish it would end. Even though I'm aware of how completely unreasonable I'm being. Ten years on and I should have moved away from this but I can't and that's something I have to deal with. Perhaps it's me. It's probably me.

I mustn't leave it like this so here is a comforting image from Elsa Beskow. I've lost my inspiration to draw and paint, I need to get that back, for my own wellbeing. Let that be the anchor that holds me fast when all is churning around me.

Elsa Beskow:

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

It's Cold and January

You would think that being a winter month hints at the temperature to expect but thanks to mild winters caused by climate change (oh, yes) we've been lulled into a comfortable laziness over the cold.

And it does feel colder today than it has for a while. And I hear people in the shop today moan at how chilly it is. It's been just over six years since scenes like this stretched from November until early March.

I admit to having wished for a snowy winter every year since. Especially as, unlike last time, I won't be expected to drive through storms late at night to get to work.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Green Woodpecker ~ Charles F Tunnicliffe

Familiar to anyone fortunate enough to own vintage Ladybird books or to those old enough to have read the originals, Charles Tunnicliffe illustrations brought each subject to life.

He was much more than the illustrator of children's stories, as wonderful and inspiring as those little books were. Born in Macclesfield, England in 1901 he studied at the school of art there before winning a scholarship to the Royal College of Art in London. He later moved to Anglesey, Wales.

Known best for his naturalistic scenes, he worked in several media - including watercolour, woodcut and oil. As well as the Ladybird books, he illustrated many RSPB magazine covers and was a recipient of the RSPB Gold Medal.

After his death in 1979, his personal collection of work was bequeathed to Anglesey council as long as they were kept together and made available for public viewing.

They can be seen at Oriel Ynys Môn gallery.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Of all the things to come across during a browse on YouTube but one which features a very brief glimpse of little me. It's very strange to see but I remember my mother (who took the photo) talking of local historian and film-maker, Eddie Smith, wanting a copy of the photograph which graced the wall of our living room and now is probably tucked up somewhere in my attic.

We lived in the little cottage next to the large white building, which had been a subscription school but was a community hall the entire time I knew it. Sadly, I think it's privately owned now. Our house had been built in 1806, weird that I know the history of each building in my little row.

Lots of familiar faces in this video and I'm sure my dad and mum are in a couple of frames but too far away for me to be sure. It looks like it was always raining, I promise, it wasn't, but what a great name for a blog...

(I'm the wee girl at 4:13 in my natty white jacket and orange bag.)

Sunday, January 01, 2017

A New Year Resolution

Gillmorehill in Snow (circa 1930)  by Tom Maxwell, Scottish, 1870-1940:

Gilmorehill in Snow (circa 1930) by Tom Maxwell, Scottish, 1870-1940

Yes, I know, resolutions are a bad idea but bear with me. 

Every day I want to do something creative, even if it's only sharing someone else's talent (in fact that's possibly the better idea).  I have an entire Pinterest board...okay, several, full of inspiring images. This world is going to be difficult and tumultuous enough this year so, for the sake of the mental health of all then I will persevere. 

Let us begin with a Scottish artist and a scene that will be familiar with Glaswegians, that impressive building is Glasgow University. This etching is from around 1930 and is so wonderfully atmospheric, you can hear the crump of footsteps, muffled in the heavy snow. For such a simple piece it conveys the scene entirely. 

I sound like I'm about to disappear into that awful artistic elite speak, I'm not. When you see a piece of art that reaches out and keeps you looking, long after all the details have been taken in, then it's a talent to be appreciated.

Tom Maxwell is not very well-known, which is a shame. He was an illustrator for the Evening Times, a daily newspaper in Glasgow. His home and studio were based in Elmbank Street, Charing Cross, Glasgow. If you go on Google Maps you'll see the street has some original buildings left. The Glasgow City Council town planners have a lot to answer for.