Wrong time, wrong place?

I did the lines and patterns on the plane – four and a half hour journey and then coloured it with Sakura Koi water colour brushes, just two shades of blue and some gray shading. A bit wobbly but I blame the pilot.

You may have noticed that the loved one and I get about a bit. “Why?” You may ask. England is very beautiful, especially when the weather is good.  However,  that has not always been the case. I come from what was once the industrial heartland of the UK, where the air was yellow with sulphur from the coking plants, or grey from steelworks smoke.  Men worked in the foundries and rolling mills; the pits or the coking plants; the glassworks or the cutlery factory. A job was for life but life wasn’t always long, with asbestosis,  pneumoconiosis,  emphysema,  bronchitis, asthma or chemical related cancers as a constant and the fear of industrial accidents forever hanging over us. We never wanted to hear the siren from the pithead, it could only have meant one thing.

Had a sudden desire to go all Mondrian, can't say why. It didn't lend itself to curved patterns, so I stepped out of my comfort zone in two ways. firstly Using all patterns new to me and, secondly, by leaving empty areas.
Had a sudden desire to go all Mondrian, can’t say why. It didn’t lend itself to curved patterns, so I stepped out of my comfort zone in two ways. Firstly using all patterns new to me and, secondly, by leaving empty areas.

My dad worked down the pit from being a teenager and hated every minute of it.  He wasn’t educated enough to do anything else so it was that or the steelworks and the pit was nearer.  So he escaped at every opportunity, through books, through films or through travel. And he infected me too. I read from an early age and there were no restrictions on what I read. I was welcome to try anything in the house and ask questions that always got a considered answer. It did cause a little fuss at school once. I was about 10 and had been reading a novel called “the rainbow” by Wanda Wassilevska. We were asked to bring a book we were reading to school and share it with the class. I started reading aloud a passage where a resistance worker in the Ukraine gave birth to her baby hidden in a barn. As the Gestapo officer took the newborn and threatened to kill it, which I thought was really exciting, my teacher thanked me with a rather fixed smile and someone else got up to read. I can remember being mildly disappointed at having to stop but was completely amazed when school contacted my parents and suggested at least a little censorship might be in order.

I still have a book of his that is a bound volume of Picturegoer magazines from 1937, when he was sixteen. His favourite was Claudette Colbert. So films were his second escape route.

And then, I don’t know exactly when, he started hiking in the Peak District – the world’s first ever National Park, and he never, figuratively speaking, looked back. You can read about one of his adventures on this blog in the section called Le Journal. I know le Journal means newspaper but he didn’t, he thought it meant diary, so that’s what he called it. He loved being out and about and longed for foreign travel, he was just born in the wrong place and time. (This is not a sad story, he may not have got away as far as work was concerned but he certainly did some travelling over the years.)

So getting away was a big deal for my family from as far back as I remember, not to crowded beaches or resorts but up onto the moors and hills and mountains. Freedom and clean air. In the mid 1960’s we finally went to France and from then on he and my mum were off round Europe every year, more than once if they got the chance. And I’ve got the bug. Fortunately for me, so has the loved one and we mix idle poolside life with towns and cities; we love swimming in the sea, me more than him, he likes his water tepid, whereas I just like it wet. (He says I have no feelings.)

So we we’re off to Tenerife again and the WiFi isn’t so good and, although I started writing this in plenty of time, when it failed to load about three times and lost what I’d written, my Mr Hyde side replaced my Dr Jekyll and had to be forcibly restrained from chucking the damn thing out of the window and into the pool, like a 1960’s Keith Moon with a hotel TV.

Before any patterning went on.

Anyway, as a result, I did do the Diva Challenge 225, which was a guest challenger (Jen Crutchfield), who asked us to use a limited colour palette and see what we could come up with. I had my Koi water colour pens with me and did, as I thought, quite a nice background, which I then proceeded to pattern.  If I turned it yellow/green side down, it looked a bit like a twilight seascape and I was tempted but I resisted and kept it non-representational. Frankly, I’m not convinced the final version is an improvement but you know, no mistakes in Ze….

Well I used a couple of "new" patterns and I've just realised I forgot to put some white on the Cubine. Doh!
Well I used a couple of “new” patterns and I’ve just realised I forgot to put some white on the Cubine. Doh!


another possible for Diva Challenge 225, with squares piled up and coloured, ready for more patterns and some shade.
Another possible for Diva Challenge 225, with squares piled up and coloured, ready for more patterns and some shade.

I had already started a coloured piece, using squares superimposed one on top of the next and I quite like it so far. Clearly, not finished with the patterns yet but I think it will be OK.  And then I started another one on the plane coming home, using one of my fall back patterns, Fengle, as the string. I really enjoyed this and am hopeful it will be really pretty when it’s done.


Clearly unfinished, I did some of this on the plane home. Not decided whether or not to use colour yet.
Clearly unfinished, I did some of this on the plane home. Not decided whether or not to use colour yet.

It may find itself coloured but I’m not sure yet. There’s still something very satisfying about the plain black and white, relying on the patterns to have all the impact.  Who can say?

Anyway, it’s Thursday and I think it’s a bit late to post this for DC225, so I’ll wait until Monday and see what the next guest challenger has us doing. Looking forward to it, as always.


See you then, world…

And lo, it was the diva Challenge and guest challenger Katie Crommett says keep it simple. Limit patterns to no more than three, give in to white space and breathe…

I can do that, I think.


Well it's alright but doesn't float my boat.
Well it’s alright but doesn’t float my boat.

So my first attempt nearly went in the bin but, following the Diva’s unspoken advice, I didn’t. It’s simple, just two patterns, (Inaura and Riki Tiki) a string based on my initial and minimal shading but, oh I don’t know, it’s just, as my daughter would say with a shrug “meh”.

Second attempt worked a little better and I used Quare, which I don’t remember using before, and Quib, which I love in spite of it never turning out as I expect/hope, and Henna Drum, which I ALWAYS love using.

Much more fun.
Much more fun.


Simple? Who are you kidding?






11 thoughts on “Wrong time, wrong place?

  1. Hello! I cannot resist to comment on your post, even though I haven’t even started my own contribution to this week’s Diva Challenge yet, because I feel that the most to-the-point realization of the “simplicity”-challenge is the tile that you consider “unfinished”, the one with only the fengle flower and a few patterns to fill it. That’s it, absolutely! Very beautiful, kept simple and a great answer to challenge #226!

  2. I love your story and it is great that both you and your husband are both adventurous and love to go places. I always want to run, go, see and play and sometimes I can convince my husband to do it with me but he is more of a homebody. Your tangles are beautiful. Thank you for sharing. I haven’t quite explored mixing my mediums to tangle on a painted background. I think I was just inspired.

  3. Dear Magratscraft, I loved reading your post about the origin of your love for travel. So eloquently written, I wasn’t surprised to read in your About that you have been a lecturer and head of an English department at a local college. 🙂 I love all of the tiles and tangle art you’ve shared — thinking that they’re way more than “meh.” Simply beautiful. 🙂

  4. Like you, I definitely inherited my wanderlust from my father who luckily didn’t have to work in the mines. (Pennsylvania did/does have a lot of anthracite coal mining. Early in my legal career, I even did one Black Lung disability claim. It was for family benefits. The miner had already died, so I was representing his heirs, and the Feds were claiming he didn’t have Black Lung disease. This is where being married to a lung doctor can come in very handy. One of Mr. Excitement’s mentors was what they call a “B” (expert) lung xray reader for the Department of Labor. However, I think I recall that I won the case because after I obtained a report from my “B” reader, the government wanted to have one of their experts read it, but then they lost the xray and this was before digitization of medical records and my client was dead so, —-oh well.) But, I digress……or is it pathological tangential thinking? Anyway…..

    As I was saying, I inherited my wanderlust from my father who was a high school art teacher. He took us to live in Mexico when I was 9. I suspect I already pointed you to this link, but this was my blog post, remembering that experience. http://www.boomeresque.com/mexico-1963/ Then, he was an exchange teacher to England when I 15-16, so we drove all over England, Scotland and Wales during school holidays and camped through France, Italy and Spain for 7 weeks after the second term ended. (There’s a blog post about me and a bathing suit (costume) and my participation in games day at school in Devizes. I won’t link to it here, but you can find it on my blog if you are so inclined.)

    I was also a precocious reader. My mother says that when I was 6, I found a book she had put away to give me when I was 12, called “Where do Babies Come From?” She came upon me reading it, let me finish and then asked if I had any questions. I said “no” and that was our talk about the birds and the bees. (I do recall that the book had a lot of imagery involving a rooster and a chicken. I probably thought the book was mostly about how to get eggs for breakfast—which explains a lot about my confused teenage years).

    OK. Down to “business”. First, maybe you can help me with my ink on water color paint problem. (Or maybe you already did. I’m so confused). Do you have any problem with your black pen nibs when you’re tangling on top of a water based paint?I bought myself some water color crayons. Even though I let them dry completely after wetting them, I quickly wrecked a few Sakura felt tip pens trying to tangle on top of the color. Judging by the amount of black tangling on top of your color tiles, you either ruined a lot of pens or you have figured out a solution to my problem.

    I am very fond of your “simple” tiles. I actually do like the first one, but I agree that the second is just lovely in a whimsical sort of way.

    Is there a prize for the longest (winded) comment? 😉

    1. Hi Suzanne, If i can remember how to do it I may also put this reply on your blog. My experience with water colours and cloggy pens is as follows:
      Water colour paints and pencils are made from a powder type base, which is why they clog the Micron pens. Alcohol based pens (Promarkers, Spectrum Noir, Copics, Sharpies etc) or water colour brushes like the Koi water colour brushes, are ink based and therefore do not clog pens.
      So, if you want to colour and then pattern, use the ink based colours.
      If you want to use the water colour paints or pencils, do the colouring AFTER the patterns.
      That’s what I do and it mainly works OK.

  5. Oh! that “seascape” with the luscious color palette is stunning. The depth of color, and the shape of the coloring, then your choice of patterns…absolutely yummy! and I did chuckle at the “simple” piece…right. So simple. But just wonderful. Quib with the floaty ribbony henna drum…I like it a LOT! And don’t disparage the “meh” one…I think the M string is pretty cool, and that’s the perfect pattern to fill it with.

    Lovely story to go with, too. What a legacy your father leaves for you. My cousin and I were talking about our great grandfather last night, who was quite an orator and poet in his day…and how his “style” has come down to us, his progeny three generations later. We do “catch” the character and habits of our forebears. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

  6. Your father was a very special person, that’s for sure. It;s great to have warm memories of out loved ones.
    I myself LOVE to be somewhere but HATE to travel. So, that’s quite complicated 🙂
    I like your work and when I keep it to this weeks challenge, I do like them both bus the first one is my favorite.

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