And the Livin is Easy…

Still focused on Porgy and Bess because  it is, for the time being, Summertime. And we’re having a real Summer too. Sunshine, blue skies, gentle breezes, the smell of lighter fuel drifting across the garden as various neighbours desperately try to light barbecues and cremate some sausages. It doesn’t seem to come naturally to us Brits, this barbecue stuff. To start with, there’s a tendency to make a pyre the size of a small block of flats; then it won’t light properly so everything is dowsed in kerosene or the like; cooking either takes place in a miasma of petroleum vapour, making the addition of smoky chippings totally pointless, since all that can be tasted is refined fossil fuels, OR, we go and have something to eat while we wait for the coals to achieve an appropriate temperature (Generally, people test the temperature of the coals by sticking a metal skewer in. If it melts, it’s ready to cook.) and have no appetite by the time the food is  ready.

AND THAT’S NOT ALL…

There is a naive assumption that barbecue is an easy way to cook. And another is that everything has to be barbecued – veg, fish, fruit, neighbours, you name it, we can burn it to a crisp in no time. Conveniently forgotten are the hours of preparation making the burgers from scratch, marinading the belly pork or steak, building the kebabs, creating at least three types of salads (with dips or dressings, of course) and generally making a meal for a family of four from enough food to feed the village.

We don’t do barbecues at our house. I’m quite good at pies, pastries and cakes, casseroles, stews and gentle curries but barbecues R not us.

Anyway, when we go to Spain and/or Greece, we eat out a lot and that’s the time for lamb cooked on a spit over their version of Towering Inferno, souvlaki with Greek salad, and proper rare steak, singed on the outside and red in the middle. You should try the paella cooked over a firepit,   on the beach in Nerja or the sardinas on a skewer on the seafront at Torre del Mar or the kleftiko at Valantina’s in Lardos  ….  Dammit, I’m faint with hunger now.

I’ve “improved” the middle one a bit since I took the picture by adding a few white highlights and I do think it looks better.

It’s been so consistently hot and clammy and old fashioned English Summery recently that I’ve retreated indoors and done a fair bit of art work. I’ve done some more journal pages, some finished and some still incomplete. I had another go at this one, which I just hated  and it now looks like this… (I’m sorry Michele, your page disappeared entirely under the gesso.)

 

 

Still not confident I think, but I’m getting the idea. And the idea that I’m getting is that the extreme mixed media stuff, with collage and gesso and texture and old bus tickets and who knows what else,  is not for me,  but the many layered drawing/inking/stencilling probably is more my style. I have  “discovered ” a video channel on Youtube recently and am now an addict  – the site/page/ channel is called Creationsceecee and I would heartily recommend it. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYqZWhdaGh8 )

These are a couple of completed journal pages which are better but still… However, I did have fun doing these and I realise it is very like Zentangle in that the process is more important than the product a lot of the time. You may not be able to see them but there is some tangling on these.

As a result, I’ve been trying water colours and inks again and getting better results than before. At the top of the page, you can see one of the cards I made following the videos and I’m mildly addicted to this particular method. Here are some more:

All variations on the same theme but I really did have fun with them. There’s a bit, but not a lot of Zentangle involved but that doesn’t mean I have given up, oh dearie me, no.

However, I think that is for another day. I’m getting back into blogging too, although a little erratic. i hope you’ll check back every now and then.

Until next time, world,  be good – ish.

 

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Ain’t No Use Complainin’

Using Abundies, Mooka, Flux and Hollibaugh.

When I was a child I liked music – still do – so my Mum and Dad joined a music club to buy me classical records to play on my Dansette Major record player. It was my pride and joy. I can remember standing  in the front room (Sitting room/parlour, depending where you come from. The room that was only otherwise used if we had visitors.) conducting the Halle Orchestra and singing along to the Messiah at the top of my voice. I bet our neighbours loved that! One of the early records that I got was Porgy and Bess, which I fell for hook line and sinker. It led me to love blues and soul from a comparatively early age and I’ve never stopped. And one of the songs in Porgy and Bess (“I Ain’t got no Shame”? possibly) has the line “Ain’t no use complainin'” and sometimes it is so right. However badly done to we may feel, there just ain’t no use complainin’.

This comes home to me at present because we’ve just come back from a trip that was less than perfect. All sorts of things were wrong – they wanted us to share rooms when we had booked (and paid for!) separate ones.  We were travelling as a couple and a single lady, so sharing a room really wasn’t on. We’re good friends, but not THAT sort of good friends.) The compensation offered didn’t materialise. The supposedly five star hotel just wasn’t. (It was mainly very nice but it wasn’t five star.)  The Dining Room staff had arguments over our heads as they cleared the tables.  The airport on the way home was a shambles, badly dealt with by the tour reps. The goods we’d ordered on the outward flight were not there for us on our return.  It just went on. It was especially galling because for the  friend we had with us,  this was her main holiday of the year and it should have been just so. So the day after we got home I got a customer satisfaction survey.

You may imagine how long it took to complete it. And my language when the site timed out and I had to do it all again.

But thing is, as my grandson Ben would say, the thing is, my carefully worded and desperately fair critique of the poor service we experienced will have no effect whatsoever. I won’t be compensated but even if it was offered, what compensates for a series of comparatively small, badly dealt with problems? And the smooth apology, if is is forthcoming, will be worded in such a way as to be no apology at all. “I’m sorry that you feel that way, madam…” I mean, they’re not sorry and it’s not how I feel that they should deal with, it’s their poor standards of service. It’s annoying to be ignored but but it’s almost preferable to being insincerely schmoozed.

Icanthis, Sheleaf and Fiore getting ready for some shade and colour.

So let’s do some tangling and get some focus and relaxation. I did too. I’m doing a set of postcards for the latest swap and using them as 100 Days too. (I’d be drawing 18 hours a day if I tried to cover everything separately!) The first one just fell out of my pen. No thought, no plan except to have a border and be vaguely floral. (The brief is to do a bordered card with either a floral theme or a Summer landscape.) You can see it at the top of the page.

And then, as I was part way through drawing out another one, a thought came to me out of the blue. (It doesn’t happen often so I treasure these moments.) ” Clarice Cliff,” a little voice said to me, “try to do a bit of Clarice Cliff.”

And my poor homage to Clarice Cliff in colours way outside my comfort zone.

This is not my usual colour palette but I got out the Sharpies and gave it a go. Now poor old Clarice will be spinning like a top at this travesty, but I got an awful lot of pleasure out of doing this one.

And when we got back from our trip, the floor was covered with post, much of it was what the loved one  calls “hate mail” but is really happy mail from various swaps. So I’m showing you them here because you will understand what a thrill it is to get tiles and zenbuttons and bookmarks and who knows what else from friends across the world.

So much lovely work.

 

ATC from Pam Purk
Bijou on a Tile also from Pam Purk
What a delicate floral tribute this bookmark from Barbara St Pierre
Another bookmark, this from Brenda Perreira. Look at those lovely colours.
Speaking of colour, how about this from my swap buddy, Terri Byrkitt Brown
More from Pam, love sinuous curves on these.
Pam again – she’s been doing some catching up and this is her vintage Winter Ornament.
Zenbuttons Janet Prouty Morrison May 2018 Fabulous shading
And Pam again. Even the envelope is jazzy!

So I’m going to leave it there and wait for the next Diva Challenge.  We’re off down to Wales to see my wonderful Ben soon, so there may be a pause in the drawing for a week or so.  Well, ain’t no use complainin.

Until next time, world, be good-ish.

 

Under Starter’s Orders

Welcome to the world of the terminally bewildered, Yorkshire Branch. (You should be hearing Twilight Zone music in the background…)  In addition to my normal state of slightly querulous vaguenicity, I am suffering from what I am beginning to know as Tangler’s Doubt.  The condition, for which there is no known cure, can be triggered in either of two ways;

  1. The receipt of a partially completed piece of artwork from another tangler, to be finished by the sufferer and then displayed for the world to see her shame and degradation at ruining a perfectly good start.
  2. The preparation of a card or paper with either inks or colours, ready to be tangled over.

In both cases the result is a sudden loss of memory about any suitable patterns, an indecision about where or how to begin, leading, in the worst cases, to Tangler’s Block. (The music playing in the back of your head should have changed from Twilight Zone to Jaws round about now, possibly The Ride of the Valkyries will be there too.)

I have recently suffered from this condition thanks to the appalling kindness of a woman who I had previously seen as a friend but who is, I now see, a fiend.  She goes by the innocuous title of Michele but I have seen through this thin disguise. She is a Princess of Temptation and Despair. Each week she writes on her blog (Coffee and Creativity)  about artwork and her trials of new skills and each week she gives the impression that it is possible for anyone to do this. But I suspect that she uses Dark Arts to produce the effects that we see.

And, then she draws in the poor unsuspecting fool, someone like me, for instance, and offers to send starts for them to finish.  In all innocence I asked her for some and she, oh wicked woman, sent them to me. (Dragnet music here, I think.)

Why did this bring on an attack of Tangler’s Doubt, you may ask. Well these are the two starts she sent. Just look at that gorgeous background.  How could you draw over it? How could you draw round it? Where would you start? I am currently sitting in the corner of the room, facing the wall, sucking my thumb and rocking to and fro.

And the atc is just as bad/good, depending on how you look at it.The shading is terrific and I can’t help feeling it doesn’t need anything else.  Maybe the answer is to scan them, practise on the scans and then risk the real thing.

But it doesn’t end there. In a moment of madness I mentioned to her that I’ve been dabbling with art journals. (This, essentially, has meant cruising You Tube watching OTHER PEOPLE doing art journals.) so in with the two pieces above, she has sent a page ready to be used in an art journal. And, even worse, it’s a page torn from a book. Dammit, woman, I am a recovering English teacher for whom writing over the pages in a book is tantamount to sacrilege.  NOOOOOOoooo! (Now I will admit that it is a page from The Brothers Karamazov, I think, and therefore will be improved by being covered with gesso and the like but still, it goes against the grain.) You can see it at the top of the post.

Well, world, I bit the bullet and stuck it in my journal ready for the next stage. (The printed page, not the bullet.) What will it be? Your guess is as good as mine, since I’m still dithering over making a decision about any of them.   But, assuming I have not been dragged screaming into the booby hatch, I’ll let you know.

LATER…

Well there has been no Diva Challenge for a couple of weeks because Laura has health problems. You might find her post on the subject an interesting insight into mental health problems so I offer the link here.  http://www.iamthedivaczt.com/2018/06/that-time-i-went-awol.html It resonates with me because one of my children suffers from anxiety and depression and what Laura describes is very much what my daughter has described to me of her experience. The desperate helplessness we feel as her parents is nothing in comparison to what sufferers go through but it hurts nonetheless.  You may wonder, in view of this, how I continually make reference to going bonkers and the like, casting doubts on my own mental health at times. Well just remember i live in several worlds, Zentangleworld, Facebookworld,  Blogworld and none of these is the real world I live in every day. They are where I go on mental holiday and only my rules apply.

So instead of doing the Diva Challenge, I decided to dive back into Artjournallingworld a bit more.  I managed this page, which I feel is a bit thin but will do as a starter.

But then, in a fit of overconfidence, I started to work on the page with Michele’s contribution. Now I’ve watched videos of people slapping black paint around like nobody’s business and getting a finished product that looks, as my Grandad would have said, “Summat like…” But not for me. After hours, and I really mean hours, I have a page which is

A. Unsalvageable

B. Looking like a bloodbath in a horror film

C. The best thing about it is the quote.

Sorry, Michele, I will try harder.  Or maybe I should just go and have a lie down.

Until I feel a little stronger then, farewell world and be good to each other. Not good-ish, you don’t know what they are going through inside – so, just this once I say to you – be good.

 

100 Days

The final bookmark.

This refers to the 100 Day Project which I rashly started at the beginning of April.  I think I was made over confident by the success of the Little summer Project I joined and completed last year. (If you go back to my posts in July and August 2017 you can follow my joys and frustrations at the time.) Below is what Admin put on the FB page to get us started.

here it is in a nutshell. this is the 5th year for this project promoted as a ‘free global art project’ that anyone (that’s us) can participate in.
here is how I want us to do this: starting April 3rd and running through July 11th, spend 15 minutes a day tangling. I don’t care what you tangle – you can use our weekly patterns or any others you know. set a timer and commit to 15 minutes daily. when that time is done – – – stop and post what you have. you can post daily here on our wall or save it up and make one big post for Getting Sketchy! don’t worry if you didn’t start on the 3rd, just jump in now and join us.
AND
if you are really brave – please be brave – post your art on Instagram with the hashtags #The100DayProject and #zentangleallaround so we can all see the work from our group. That’s it, create art for 100 days. Then it becomes a habit. There is no hard and fast rule that it has to be tangling. really any art will do, but for posting here remember it needs to have some amount of tangling – even if small.

Anyway, I started a brand new journal to keep it all in and it was quite a good start, I thought. The title was drawn on acetate and then stuck on over the rather attractive cover it came with. That was Day 1 of the Project.  The inner title page was supposed to be days 2 and 3, possibly day 4 too.  well, there were at least three attempts just to get started and then it kept going wrong…

So page 1 became days 2,3,4,5, 6 and 7. at this point, the optimism was fading somewhat.

Not a success, Two versions in this layout found their way to the bin. there were going to be patterns all around the words.

Eventually, this became the title page.  Deliberately left without colour, to concentrate on the line work.

Days 8 and 9 were much more relaxed and I really enjoyed them  Just a little colour in the shading. It was one of those “Quit while you are ahead”  moments.

The zenbuttons were Days 10 -17  (Here are pics of the final three, the others were in my previous post.) and last week’s Diva Challenge was Day 18.

Day 19 was the final bookmark in the series for swapping, which are being mailed even as I write. You can see it at the top of the page.

I quite enjoyed all of these, although of course they all took a lot more than the minimum 15 minutes, but that’s OK, I still count them as a day each, which puts me a bit behind schedule at the moment.

This is not an unusual position for me to be in  and of course, it leaves me with nothing in my journal for those days. I think I’m going to print off copies and stick them in, just to remind myself at a later time that I wasn’t slacking!

So I’m a bit behind but I have actually tangled every day for a lot more than 15 mins so I’m fine with myself. However. I mean a really BIG however. I am seriously fed up of Instagram. You can set up membership on PC but you can’t upload your pictures. You admire and comment on people’s stuff but you can’t post your own.  I don’t want to use my phone or tablet for this – I like my PC, or laptop. Well, to add insult to injury, when I thought to myself “Sod Instagram then, I’ll un-join.” You can’t. Or, at least, if you can, I can’t find out how.

So, all in all, the 100 Days idea is proving to be something of a mixed blessing. Ah well, onward and upward. (Of course it may just be that I am technologically incompetent – it wouldn’t be the first time. But why can’t it be simple and transparent?)

LATER

Sitting on the terrace with a small beer and a big smile.
About a quarter, maybe a third of the way through. So far, so good.

Much later, actually. I missed last week’s Diva Challenge because I was busy packing for our trip to Greece and doing the alterations to my new strappy tops. ( Being a bit of a chunk, but not very tall, I usually have to shorten the straps on Summer tops and vests. ) Not to mention trying to finish off the several crochet projects I had on hand. For some reason, I don’t like to take an ongoing project on holiday but like to start new. This time, I’ve started a shawl in a pattern called Lost in Time, free on Ravelry.com. Oh how I love that website. I’m going to have to live until I’m at least 110, just to do all the patterns I like.  Then there’s all the Zentangle. Oh, and the embroidery. Better make it 120.

I’ve missed a couple of Challenges, as I said but the latest one has made me have a look at some of my old stuff and see how it could be reworked. When I first started Zentangle, almost four years ago, Phicops was a patterns that I just loved, either to see it in someone else’s work or to draw it myself. So I found a tile I did on 3rd of June 2016 and did a new version of it, using colour this time. Frankly, I like ’em both. The new one is not much of an improvement but I’m not unhappy with it.

And on that reasonably happy note, I’ll bid you a fond farewell. Until we meet again, world, be good – ish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fitting it all in.

Well what a busy time we have had,  but not in a good way. Three funerals in eight days.  All three were old family friends, of my parents really,  but still precious links to my youth.  All were over 85 and tired, but funerals, you soon realise, are not for the dead but for the living. Only one member of that group is still with us and he attended all three, looking frail and, of course, seeing his turn getting closer.

And now we, their children, are the older generation, no buffer zone of grannies between us and the final frontier. (Well, yes, I know that’s space, if you’re a trekkie but it avoids using the D   word.) Does that mean we are revered for our wisdom  and advice? Hmmmm. Not yet, it would seem. For our bank balance maybe. Cynical but sadly accurate.

And funerals do seem to be drab affairs. I don’t expect it to be jazz bands and New Orleans, dammit, we’re British, but how lacklustre it all is. Two of them were non religious ceremonies and, believe me, ceremony is NOT the word. Once upon a time it was the local vicar talking about someone he knew. (And one of them was still like that and quite moving.) Otherwise,  it’s a professional ‘celebrant’, you heard me, who reads out the words the family have given.

The two we witnessed were

a. Dull and clearly

wishing to be elsewhere, or

b. Sanctimonious beyond belief.

So I’m going to write my own eulogy. It’ll be full of really long words, like fundamental dichotomy or onanism, and Latin or French quotes. Semper in excretum, solum profundum variat. That’ll make ’em earn their money.  Unless one of my children feels up to it… I’ll do an easier version for them. Maybe.

The thing is, what’s the purpose of the eulogy? It’s not for the deceased – he or she is long gone to whatever final destination he or she believed in – so it must be for us. To fix in our minds a lasting image of the absent loved one to keep us going until we are able to remember them naturally, without the barrier of grief. Or is it just a convention that we daren’t fail to observe?

For those of us without religious conviction, it is the gathering together and sharing memories, comforting each other over our loss and fear of the inevitable.  I think I might set up a company for alternative funerals. Get rid of the mouldering corpse unobtrusively and let the mourners get on with the rest of it… a nice meal, some music, a comfortable place to sit and be together. Maybe a slide show of old photos.   Perhaps get everyone doing a bit of Zentangle. Do a mosaic of the deceased’s name?

LATER

You know, sometimes I read back over what I’ve written and I worry about what goes on in my head. I mean, I have very little control over it; the words just spill out. Still, better out than in, as my Dad used to say when he burped. That’s it, of course, it’s a sort of mental burp. Well, I’m glad I sorted that out.

You will see that there are pics scattered throughout this post, none of them related to the text in any way but just me keeping you in touch with my “artwork”.(Bit pretentious calling it art but there you go.) They are the Zenbuttons that I’m doing for the latest swap on FB and also for the 100 Day Project. The swap asks for monochrome – linework and shading all in one colour, which was tricky for me, as I started them while we were away last time and only had several black and one red pen with me. So the red ones were done in sunny Tenerife and the others in rainy England.

In an attempt to emphasise the shading, I prepared a couple of tiles with ink first and then did the patterning.  By the time I’d finished the brown one, you couldn’t see the original colour work! I’ve not finished the blue one yet but here it is, with  both versions of the brown one .

 

 

 

 

I’m not finding the 100 Day Project all that rewarding to tell you the truth. I finally gave in and created an Instagram account on my PC, because that’s what I use for posting. (I use both tablet and phone for other things but i like the big screen and proper keyboard best.) So then I discover that I can’t post pictures from my PC, which was the whole point of the exercise. (Apparently, if I download another app, give them all my personal details, dance naked by the light of a full moon and send my bank details to a nice man in Nigeria, there is a way round this but I really couldn’t be bothered.) So bugger Instagram, I’ll just do the 100 Days and not show anyone!

At which point, I checked in with the Diva and there she wasn’t. Because of her younger son’s health issues, if she doesn’t appear one week, thousands of Tanglers across the world go into panic mode in case there are problems at Casa Diva, and I’m one of them, Hope it’s just a national holiday in Canada or something.

So I’m banking this post until she reappears and then I’ll add the Challenge tile too.

LATER

She’s back and health was the problem but all seems to be pretty much ok now, much to the relief of her followers.

Weekly Challenge #361: “Amanda Day – Earth day YEAR 7!!”

If you have been following the blog from the beginning you may remember that when Chewie was just a wee boy, we were talking about Earth Day and he asked me if the Earth had a name, and i said yes – it’s Earth.  He didn’t think that was good enough, and so he re-named it Amanda.  And hence forth, Earth Day has been forever known as Amanda Day here in my home and on the blog!  So, for this week’s Challenge – try to use some recycled material for your tile!

This year i used a Pizza Box, and as an added challenge – or an alternative if you don’t like working on tan coloured tiles, you can make your string a “Sunshine” string.  It feels like it’s been winter here for sooooo long, and the sun this weekend was so amazing that i made my string into a sunshine and it was super fun.

Well I sort of did it, maybe. I didn’t recycle so much as up cycle.We had some table mats and coasters in faux leather. (Alright, plastic.) And rarely use them because they seem a bit dull. So I took a coaster, a Posca 0.7 pen and got going. The shading uses a Promarker pen, with which I had to be careful because the alcohol ink smudges the rest if you linger too long. The white is just a Uni pen. I’m going to spray it with a coating in the hope of “fixing ” it.

Coasting along on Amanda Day. Dragonair, Curved Rain, Frickle and a couple of others whose names escape me.

And that, world, will have to do. Hopefully, we’ve done with funerals for a while and can get on with being thankful to be alive. Until next time, world, be good-ish.