Friday, 30 September 2011

Beware the giant oystercatcher of doom

Gosh it seems like I've actually achieved something this week!

I had a lovely time with the Girl last Sunday.
We played cutting and sticking, and I had a go and those Sue Dove collages (see Carolyn Saxby's blog - I found the instructions on Workshop on the Web for July 2001).

I'm not sure I did it "right" and I found the oil pastels difficult, so this is my first effort:

and then I gave up with the pastels and used childrens' crayons, which worked better:

Then FINALLY this week I finished enough teaching samples to go and meet my students and teach the first class.  What a lovely group!  Most of them seem quite good already, so I hope I can think of ways to stretch them!

And while it's been so hot and sunny, it's been perfect for playing with water soluble. 
I've had this little idea noodling around on the "to do" list for ages, so this is it WET

and this is it DRY and (sort of) mounted:

We'll be doing these after Christmas, so I'm ahead!  Woo hoo!

Of course, when I decided I'd had enough of stitching teaching samples and could do my own thing, I couldn't think of what it was I wanted to I picked up Blob 2 and started to stitch that.

This is how Blob 2 started out:

and this is Blob 2 at breakfast this morning (sorry about shadows, was very sunny already)

Blob 1 was started last year, as documented here and now looks like this!

I just love those marble eyes...

I am inordinately excited by the Blobs, but need to come up with a new name for them.

And finally, the title of this post.
Last Sunday when playing with glue and scissors, I also made a sort of fantasy landscape

I love it, and I think it means I should live on the edge of a wild landscape, by the ocean, but somewhere warm enough to grow flowers.  Somewhere like this
But Mr Gonecycling with his eagle eyes took one look at it, clocked the cyclists, and said

"Blimey, haven't they noticed the giant killer oystercatcher standing on that hillside?"

Friday, 23 September 2011

Still breathing

Only just, though:
I am currently working on no. 8 on my list from holiday "I like swimming" and today I managed three lengths of front crawl in between the usual breaststroke.  I'm not your classic "old lady" swimmer, with legs trailing, spectacles on and hair not getting wet, but neither am I a plough-up-and-down sort of swimmer.  I don't mind getting my hair wet, but I find front crawl is more like trying-not-to-drown than swimming.

I've been reading all sorts of things about swimming mindfully, like yoga, and today I practiced my Superman Glide.  I love floating, on my back or on my front, but I do worry that if I float for too long it will look like I'm dead and someone will blow a whistle and jump in and rescue me...

But swimming makes me hungry and so I made a pudding:

This is it before the crumble topping, but it looked bland and the pears (a bargain at the farm shop, and now I know why) looked woody and tasteless.  So I raided Mr Gonecycling's stash of after-dinner dark chocolates and had a go at improving things

It worked quite well, but the pears were a bit watery.  So of course someone had to drink the excess pear chocolate raspberry juice with a spoon.  It wasn't me.

Meanwhile, my head has been fried by the traditional September activity of writing a scheme of work and devising a year's worth of meaningful learning objectives.  I still haven't managed all my samples, but we plod on.  I have managed the superb wheeze of ordering a great mountain of supplies for my course, as the admin office gave me the wrong figure for my budget and sorry folks, I've spent it.  Too late!

Laters.  'tis Friday and time for telly.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Creative courgettes

First up, cake.  Obviously

Same recipe I use for carrot cake traybake, but with was squared off and the end bit cut into pieces to freeze for the Girl's lunchbox this week...she was most upset when she realised the icing doesn't freeze...

Next in line, courgette muffins

Yuk.  They are a bit spongy.  Think I'll try courgette scones instead next time.  These are now in the freezer for the Whippet's teatimes this week (thanks Mum!)

And then for lunch on Saturday (and Sunday and Monday and just about squeaking into seems to keep well....) courgette cluster bread, which had bigger clusters than I thought...

We even had stuffed courgettes for dinner on Friday.  Girl was sceptical, but decided it was quite nice actually.  Oh yes, and I sneaked a tiny one into last night's dinner - but as I'd already confessed to the fennel I thought I'd keep quite about the courgette....

And I've been creative on other fronts too

Preparing a year's worth of samples for teaching - deadline in 12 days.  Yes I can.

Friday, 9 September 2011


I forgot to check the courgettes

That's a teaspoon for reference...yup, its a two-pounder.

And hello to new followers! Watch this space for courgette recipes...

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Seaweed 2

There's more!

But first, a couple of seascapes - trying to capture the colours

and now the seaweeds...I think this one could be translated into a fabulous felted scarf, all waves and undulations:

And now the first of the "paddling" sketches

I tried blind contour drawing, where you look at what you are drawing and not your page.  I used a sharp pencil and added the black fineline and the paint when I got back to the tent.

Because the beach is just such a huge expanse of sand, the tide comes in and goes out very quickly - so the seaweed is constantly moving, swirling gently in the currents.  It makes it challenging to draw, but I love these little paintings:

This is what it looks like before I add the paint

Bit faint, nevermind.

Thus emboldened, I tried a crab.  It was alive and I had to mind my toes

and I found it hard to keep track of how many legs it had.

Here is my favourite part of the beach, about 1km from the dunes, where the low tide is at it's furthest point, and where the sea comes round the little island and meets itself, creating fabulous cross-ripples

We also drew in the sand with shells, which was incredible.  Try it!  It is so easy to create fabulous flowing patterns, I'm almost tempted to construct a sandpit at home so I can do some more.  It's either that or looking a twat at Newhaven, and everywhere else round here is shingle!

I forgot the camera so I had to redraw my sand drawing into my sketchbook

I've no idea what this little creature is, but I think it would make a great felt sculpture

I discovered that I can't draw seagulls

and I need to work on my swallows

Finally, here's one from another sketchbook using paper collage.  I added to it today and I'm rather pleased with the result

I am so pleased with all that I did on holiday, and only wish that I'd done more - but injured whippets weren't able to run on the beach in case the "wound" got sandy, so we lost a fair number of days to that.  There's always next year...

When I wasn't falling asleep or sketching, I read two books that really helped with the knotty problem of daring to put pencil to paper.  Actually, one of them is still being read - and the other is going to be re-read very soon.

If I can sort out my Amazon sidebar, I'll put the links up.  The first book is "Art and Fear" by David Bayles and Ted Orland, and the second is "The Confident Creative" by Cat Bennett.  Highly recommended!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Seaweed 1

As promised, here's the first installment of my holiday creations and sketches!

First up, a collage of scrap paper and a poplar leaf.  There is a bank of poplars behind our tent pitch, and they get quite noisy when the wind rustles the leaves.  In fact, you can predict the weather that will greet you before sticking your head out of the tent - the amount of rustle indicates the wind strength (it's never not windy in Brittany) and the lighthouse foghorn tells you everything else you need to know....

and then another collage, which has been festering in a clingfilm sandwich for three weeks now and has developed some alarming spots.  Probably a bit of a biohazard now...could it be cured by ironing it?  That would mean finding the iron...There is a piece of ripped paper in the shape of some seaweed in the middle of the collage, but its almost impossible to spot.  I was going to do some more work on it, but I'm not so sure now. 

And then some seaweed.  I was fascinated by the hexagons formed by the overlapping branches.  This is not as "free" a drawing as I would have liked, I was distracted by a leggy French teenager in a bikini who stopped to chat and watch me draw - I hate people watching me draw, and thought I'd found an out-of-the way perch on the rocks, but she actually wandered right over to come and see what I was doing.  Also, I cannot converse that easily in French (see previous post, no. 3 on the list) so I didn't know the gentlest way to suggest that perhaps she didn't watch and just went away, please.

And then some more seaweed, using Gina's technique of sponging over a masked shape - in this case, some paper ripped up to make "seaweed" (the real thing proved to be too slippery and curly).  I sponged the background over the seaweed shape (which then got stuck onto biohazard collage above) and then painted in the pink seaweed into the white space and added some white crayon.

Finally, some shells.  Hard to do as this was a hot day and the paint dries so quickly in the sun.  Well, it's either that or a wet misty day (a day of foghorns) when the paint doesn't dry at all...I wish I knew how to make shells look 3D.

My favourite sketches are my paddling knee deep seaweed sketches in my tiny sketchbook.  I'll scan them tomorrow. 

Now, I'm off for a restorative cup of tea.  Remember no. 7 on the list of resolutions - sleep on a firm surface?  Well my wishes came true last night. 

The Whippet has decided to be a Very Naughty Boy about bedtimes.  He went to Granny's house last week while we went to the wedding, and at Granny's house he's allowed to jump on the sofa and sleep on the bed...ahem.  All was well for a few days, but on Sunday evening when we gave him a bicbic and left him in his crate in the dining room - perfectly normal practice, have been doing it for two years - he kicked up a right old row and cried ALL NIGHT.  And he did it AGAIN on Monday night. 

Perfectly fine all day, happy to sleep in his crate whenever, JUST DON'T LEAVE ME HERE WHILE YOU GO UPSTAIRS TO BED.  Last night, I thought we could just leave him loose in the dining room and he could take himself to bed.  Which lasted about 2 minutes, because he STARTED EATING THE DOOR! 

So in the end, because Mr Gonecycling had to get up v. early for work, it was approaching midnight, and we were worried the neighbours would start to complain, I got a yoga mat, a blanket, a spare duvet and my pillow and slept in the dining room, on the floor.  I had enough of sleeping on a firm surface at about 4.30am and the Whippet was snoring, so I went up to bed.  He woke up and found I'd gone a bit later, snickered for a bit, but then settled himself and slept until 8am.  HOPEFULLY normal service resumed!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Can you hear it?

No, I can't either.  Isn't it marvellous?

I love the Girl and her joyous nature

but I also love a little bit of shush and the chance to THINK!

To celebrate, I've spent a happy morning emptying the Understairs Cupboard of Doom just so I could put away my 20lbs of jam that has been sitting on the stairs for over a week...

Today marks our final recovery from the "return from holiday" phase, which has involved driving another 1500 miles, staying up far too late and way too much dancing.

First up was a round trip to Somerset to celebrate my Grandmother's 90th birthday.  She wanted to do a parachute jump but had to settle for a flight in a Tiger Moth

Logistics meant we missed the flight itself, but we had a jolly good party afterwards and I saw all of my Father's side of the family.

Then after a few days sorting out the kitchen cupboards, it was off up the M1 to see my Mother's side of the family at my cousin's wedding.

And finding myself back in North Yorkshire

where I spent a huge part of my formative years seriously messed with my head.
And I don't think it was just the champagne and the late nights and all the dancing.

But we can't move North.
Not sure why, but we can't. 
At least not yet.

And just for the record, my holiday resolutions/revelations were:
  1. Declutter
  2. Stay on French time - we were in bed by 11pm and awake at 7am, so that's bed by 10pm and awake by 6am...
  3. Languages - get my French and German up to speed
  4. Live in the moment
  5. One thing at a time
  6. No telly
  7. Sleep on a firm surface
  8. I like swimming
  9. The internet, while fun and useful, is largely a waste of time
  10. Home is wherever we all are
I've already caved in on a few, but I'm still holding strong on the majority!

Finally I'll be back to stitching and creating things soon.
I have projects in mind...