Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Category Archives: Art

Roverandom

I took a break from my big project this week (still can’t really show you it!) It was a bit of a busman’s holiday as a friend’s daughter, Jemima,  who is in the second year of a Visual Communication degree at a local uni, asked me to help her with her final project.  She had found a little known story by J.R.R. Tolkien called ‘Roverandom’ and she has produced 31 illustrations to accompany the text and she needed help binding it into a book – which is where I came in. The illustrations are beautiful – she drew them and used monoprinting onto handmade paper to achieve the wonderful textured effect of the  finished images. Here are some photographs of the book, it’s box and some of the illustrations.

box

The box

The open box with the book inside

The open box with the book inside

The book

The book

Inside the book

Inside the book

The mermaid

The mermaid

roversandboyanddog

I thought the book looked fantastic when it was finished and the illustrations fitted the text perfectly. I’m sure that Jemima will do really well when she presents this finished project to the university for assessment and I’m sure she has a very promising future ahead of her.

Other than this, a mixed week again. My laptop died and had to be resuscitated at the Apple Store in Exeter. It was caused by a faulty graphics card and I am very pleased that NVidia are picking up the tab for the repair. I didn’t really mind having to go to Exeter, it’s a rather nice city which has very good shopping (always a bonus in my book) and I bought some new glasses – which I did need as I keep mislaying my other pair (and then I can’t find them because I need my glasses…..) – it is really annoying. I went to the supermarket ‘sans specs’ the other day and was wandering around in a blur, unable to read any labels or price tags. Luckily, I knew by heart where the keys were on the PIN machine.

I have chosen a rather nice pair of Paul Smith frames and they are going to have the sort of lenses that turn into sunglasses when it is sunny out so I won’t need to keep swapping and changing glasses all the time when summer comes (and we have been promised a good summer this year. Yeah. Right.) or on my trips to sunnier climes – which will mean one less pair of sunglasses to worry about losing (or sitting on).

spectacles

I do find it very difficult choosing new glasses – mainly because of the problem everyone faces – I can’t see myself properly in the optician’s mirror when I’m trying them on. I think they should video you wearing them and then play it back to you (while you are wearing your own glasses of course :-) )

Oops, just had that problem –

xkcdemoticons

Any way, back to my specs. As I was handed the bill for my varifocal, transitions lensed, (very lovely) glasses I was reminded of this ad. Maybe I should have gone to Specsavers…..

Poor pooch.

A very mixed bag…

It’s been a funny old couple of weeks since I last posted. Lots of good things happening and a few bad. The good things included me finding out I was a runner up in a photography competition I entered a few weeks ago. This is the image they liked, it’s East Cliff, West Bay, Dorset.

dianealdred03

I’ve always liked this as we think that one of the clouds looks like Milo running across the sky. There is no prize for the runners up but we do get our photographs displayed in an exhibition so I am well pleased.

Another thing that has pleased me greatly was getting an orchid plant to flower for a second time. You know the ones – you buy them looking like this.

orchid1

They flower for ages but eventually, all the blooms drop off and you try to follow the instructions to make it flower again. It tells you to cut it back to the first node which means in my book, you chop the flowering stem right back almost to the base to the first node from the bottom, so it ends up looking like this.

orchid3

And so it remains until (if you are me) you lose patience, bin it and start again with a new one. However, I now discover that it means the first node FROM THE TOP  and lo and behold…

orchid2

I have BUDS and NEW SHOOTS!! Glory be! There is hope for me as a gardener yet.

The other good news was seeing this on the Falkiners (now Shepherds) blog (which you can also reach from their web site). They have extended their famous and already impressive wall of paper and it now looks like this. I feel a trip to their fabulous shop coming on. They are also starting to run beginners courses and master classes – read all about it on their blog.

ffp

Other good things include my Dad’s 80th birthday weekend over Easter which passed smoothly. My niece arrived, terrified of dogs and screamed at the sight of Milo. With some patient intervention, she was transformed within 10 minutes into Milo’s biggest fan and she followed him around the house the entire visit. I almost had to check her bag to make sure she wasn’t smuggling him home with her. One of my sisters invited me to go sailing in Corfu with her and her husband in June – I accepted immediately and booked it all yesterday. Fab, can’t wait.

abigail

Needless to say Milo sulked for days after they went home.  The bad news also involves Milo. He is now 9 months old and after being a perfectly housetrained little sweetheart for most of this time, even learning to use the dog flap without prompting, he has suddenly started doing all sorts of unsavoury things like peeing all over the house and getting frisky with his toys and people’s legs. He has hit dog puberty! I’m hoping it’s just a phase he is going through but I’m going to talk to the vet and if this is likely to be a permanent problem – then I will have to make a big decision…

The book project continues. I have completed 7 books and matching clam shell boxes and am well into the 8th set. I ordered some new inkjet cartridges for my printer. It uses 10 different coloured pigment inks and the new set arrived today – in 10 separate padded envelopes. How wasteful and ridiculous is that?

To end, I want to point you to the Britweek website, it’s an event going on in Los Angeles to publicize the British contribution to LA life. This is my ex. He is now a rock star and a photographer and has an exhibition called ‘Poetry in the Streets’ at his gallery in LA. You can also see a video of him performing with his band GTA, at a Teenage Cancer Trust concert a few years ago at the Royal Albert Hall.

Blimey.

Groovy.

Happy blog birthday to me.

greatlistener

Those of you who know me will know that for a long time, my role in life has been that of a mother, housewife, lady-who-lunches, type person. I’m not complaining. I loved being at home with my children and being a full time mother, I considered myself very privileged to be able to enjoy this lifestyle. It was my career. Wife and mother. I loved looking after my husband and I loved being around for my children. I enjoyed being able to attend all their school events and to be able to ferry them to their many after school activities and let’s face it, I admit I enjoyed my days, when I could pootle around, play tennis, meet up with friends and pursue my many hobbies. The only fly in the ointment was the feeling of inadequacy that would flood over me when I used to meet new people and observe their eyes glaze over with boredom when they asked what I did for a living. “Housewife’ just didn’t cut it somehow. Then everything changed, seemingly all at once. Children grew up, husband went AWOL and I sudddenly found myself adrift.

It took me a long time to come to terms with my new circumstances. I suffered from ‘Empty Nest Syndrome’ big style. I had a couple of new relationships, each lasted a couple of years, each one ended abruptly, each break up worse than the last and I will admit, this last year I have struggled after the very sudden demise of what I thought was a wonderful relationship with THE ONE. No matter.

I decided I needed a career, but what to do after 20 years of non-career? I tried training to be a maths teacher but realised I enjoyed training to be a teacher more than I enjoyed the job itself. I started to understand that I enjoy the process of learning new things. It was one of the things I loved about my last partner. He has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and a vast curiosity about the world. It was something we had in common and we would often contact each other during the day to share something amazing we had read, heard or seen. Encouraged and aided by him, I started to teach myself to design web sites and I also started to make books. The rest is history.

My life has gone crazy. The book I designed for the record company was received with delight and they have ordered 20 (!) more to be used as promotional copies. The first is going to Bob Dylan, the second to Morgan Freeman and another to Bruce Springsteen. I forget the other names – I was in a daze at the meeting! There is a possibility that when the actual book goes to print, they might offer a limited edition, hand bound version by yours truly. In addition, I have been asked to design several web sites, the latest is a new one for an artist friend and it’s huge – contains a gallery of 70 or so paintings. Each one I do, seems to generate interest and I am now charging serious money (as opposed to ‘mate’s rates’). I have been so busy, I haven’t had time to mope or despair at the lack of suitable chaps on internet dating sites or eat (so I am losing weight – an unforeseen but pleasing bonus). I realised today – I have a life. A full, interesting, satisfying life which keeps me busy and fills my days. I have learned a lot and have much more to discover. And when people ask me what I do, I now have something to tell them. (However, shame on you if you have ever thought being a housewife was a boring job!)

You may wonder why this uncharacteristic introspection? Well, it’s by way of explanation about my lack of blogging and my disappearance from your blogs. I heard recently my husband has got engaged to his new girl friend which initiated a huge bout of retrospection, a little sadness but not as much as I would have thought, surprisingly. It is also 2 years since I first started this blog and I was thinking about how my life has changed in that time and doing that rather under rated thing – counting my blessings. I have my wonderful sons, great friends, a new fledgling career (in fact, two!) a nice house, my blogging friends and of course, I mustn’t forget Milo. (How can I? He’s is lying on my foot….)

For the first time in ages, I feel quite positive about the future. The only thing missing is a partner to share it all with but I have even stopped worrying about that. It will happen one day, I hope and in the meantime, I have more than enough things to fill my time. Long may it continue. Back to the jokes next time I promise!

Busy, busy, busy…

I have a huge bookbinding project on the go. I can’t give you too many details at the moment but the book in question is part of a huge 6 volume anthology and the plan is that I am binding volume 1 which is going to be used as a sample to show to some seriously famous musicians and actors to get them involved in the project. If I tell you that the first person it is going to be shown to is Morgan Freeman, you will see what I mean. No pressure there then. Gulp. So if I disappear off the radar for a while you know I am either getting stuck into the project or having a nervous breakdown.

My #2 son has been home for a couple of days and has given me some really good, useful input into my design ideas. He has just returned from visiting his father in Los Angeles and he brought Milo a gift. A T-shirt. Here he is wearing it.

milotshirt

I have to say he was not very impressed with it. He knew he looked ridiculous and did sulk until we took it off him.

Does my bum look big in this?

Does my bum look big in this?

We spent a large portion of the time #2 son was home trying to train Milo to use a dog flap in the back door. We taped the flap open so he would get used to going in and out without having to push the flap and he can do it. He just chooses not to. He sits with his head poking though the flap crying piteously until I can’t stand it any more and let him in. I don’t want the neighbours to think I am torturing him. The few times he did cave in and come through the flap, we celebrated and praised him and gave him treats but to no avail. Now #2 son has gone, Milo and I are back to him using the door like a human with me as his doorman.  Or we have a puddle on the floor. And the dog flap is so draughty…

#2 son is off travelling on Sunday. He is away until June travelling around Australia, Micronesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar…. I’m not envious. Honest. I felt bereft when he left me yesterday. In reality, he lives up in London anyway so I only see him infrequently but knowing for sure I’m not going to see him for 4 months and he is going to be so far away is very depressing. Have decided the best thing is to keep busy.

Back to my book…..

Add: I have an iPhone which I love and I just read an article by David Pogue in the New York Times about iPhone apps. You can read it here. He mentions this video which is a group of people playing ‘Stairway to Heaven’ on their iPhones using a app which turns an iPhone into an ocarina. I have this app (- and many, many, many, many more!) If only I had time to play with them I might eventually sound like this.

Art for art’s sake

I have been really useless at keeping my blog up to date this week. In my defence, I have been really busy finishing a website and a blog for a paying client (hurrah!) and also updating an old website so I can show it to potential clients as part of my portfolio. I almost feel like a proper working person! In addition I’ve been working on my own website to sell my books. I’ve probably missed Christmas now but with a bit of luck and a following wind,  it will be up and running soon.

rothko_room

I went up to London yesterday to see the Mark Rothko exhibition at Tate Modern. It was just as wonderful as I expected it to be. My favourite room at Tate Modern is the Rothko Room which normally has the Tate’s eight Seagram murals (originally intended for the Four Seasons restaurant in the Seagram Building in New York). For this exhibition, they have brought together others from Japan and Washington and the result is an inspiring exhibition. It also gives a fascinating insight into the techniques Rothko used to achieve the subtle tones and shading in these works.  Rothko specified these works should be viewed in subdued lighting and it makes the whole visit a very peaceful if not spiritual experience. It would have been even better if the gallery had been as quiet as the photograph – on Saturday, it was packed to the gills!

We also went to see a Surrealism exhibition and then had a mooch around the rest of the Tate’s collection. I particularly wanted to see ‘The Snail’ by Henri Matisse which is a particular favourite.

snail

I remember the first time I saw this ‘in the flesh’ after knowing it well from seeing many reproductions. I was blown away. It’s enormous for a start (2864 x 2870 mm) and it is made from paper painted with gouache, torn into shapes and then pasted onto paper which is then mounted on canvas. The colours are rich and vibrant and I loved it on sight. It also reminds me of a trip to the old Tate Gallery (now Tate Britain) when my #1 son was about 8 years old. His school had arranged a visit to the Tate as a treat and I went along as a parent helper.

A guide sat the group of about a dozen boys on the floor in front of John Constable’s ‘The Haywain’.

haywain

She coaxed the boys into discussing the painting. What did they see? Did they like it? Was it realistic? Did they like the colours? And so on. They then moved on to Picasso’s ‘The Three Dancers’.

picasso

The boys were encouraged to compare the two paintings. The colours, the style of painting, the subject matter. Which painting was painted most recently? And then they moved on to this. Rodin’s ‘The Kiss’.

the-kissThe guide asked the boys ‘ What is the difference between this and the two artworks you have just been discussing?’ She was expecting the boys to say that this was a sculpture and the others were paintings. What actually happened was this. One of the boys tentatively raised his hand and said ‘Well, with the other two, you have to put the light in but with this one, the light is already there’. The guide’s jaw hit the floor and we all looked at little Thomas in amazement. So succinct and one of those wonderful ‘wisdom of children’ moments.

We then moved on to ‘The Snail’ and after a discussion, the boys voted it their favourite of all the artworks they had seen. Not hard to see why, in my book.

I started writing this on Friday. Wrote the first paragraph and left it open to finish after my trip. Today, I finished the post,  saved it and then went to view it to check for typos – and discovered that WordPress has changed the user interface in the interim, and bottom line – it had lost all I had written. Aaaagh! So this is version 2. Not half as hilarious and informative and all round brilliant as the first version but there you go, it will have to do :-)

So to end, an art joke.

picassobraque