Sunday, September 16, 2012

Not!Echo - a monochromatic watercolour

Well, the less said about today, the better.

But one good thing about our plans for the day collapsing with gusto, is that I tidied up my front room - I only seem to get inspired to do housework beyond the bare minimum when I am in a foul mood - and I've been far too happy in recent months so it was a tip! :D

And the other good thing, was after I had calmed myself down with all that therapeutic clearing-up-by-filling-black-bags-full-of-clutter, I had time to finish up a painting I have been faffing about with all week, and I'm really pleased with how it turned out.

So - here she is - inspired by Whedon's TV show Dollhouse and an image from the opening credits which really resonates with me.  I'd love to just hide away at the bottom of a deep pool for hours (if I could get past that little needing to breathe issue) - nobody could get at me and I wouldn't be able to hear them trying - perfect solitude.

The finished painting is around the width of an A4 sheet of paper and about 1 and 2/3 the height - the little lego cowgirl is there for scale (which, of course, relies on you knowing how big a lego cowgirl is :)  )

I'm glad that I managed to capture the expression of serenity on her face that I was going for.  And that she doesn't look anything like Echo, the character that she is based on, as she's actually my least favourite character in the show....   That's why I've called her Not!Echo

Not so pleased with her hands or feet but they are always impossible....  need more practice.....

And here are a couple of in progress pics - I did mean to take these all the way through, but I forgot - you'll have to imagine the rest, soz:

First I stuck my paper down to my table using torn masking tape to give an uneven border, and then sketched the girl's outline and used masking fluid to mask out her silhouette (minus hair as I knew that would be dark) and the bubbles above her and reflection ripples on the bottom of the pool

Then with a round brush and a dark blue watercolour I wrote in a little bit of what the image of the girl at the bottom of the pool means to me, and then started building up the washes of colour for the background of the painting - dark at the top fading to light at the bottom.

Most of the writing was covered up by the time the painting was finished, but I like to see hints of it peeking through....

Now I just need to find a frame that fits this odd size of paper, as, for the first time ever, I actually would quite like to frame something I've painted :)

Friday, September 07, 2012

Rocking Your World Friday weeks 34 to 36

I’m getting slacker and slacker with this RYWF thing – I have THREE weeks to catch up on this time.

I just don’t think that regular bloggery is really my thing.  Too lazy, clearly :)

And that counts for reading and commenting as well as writing, I'm afraid – I came back from my hols to over 1,000 unread articles in my blog reader, and, well, that overwhelmed me sufficiently at the thought that I somehow needed to ‘catch up’, that I’ve been pretty much absent from reading blogs for the last 3 weeks.  I’ve been mainly reading Firefly fan fiction online instead.  So apologies if you have posted something super cool and not got a comment from me.  I must do better!

So – back on topic - what have we been up to?

First of all, we had our annual holiday – a week in beautiful Cornwall – and it was wonderful!

There were so many rockin’ moments on our trip it’s hard to know where to start .....
  • On the way down, we managed to find a geocache in Exeter, thus adding Devon (and later in the week, Cornwall) to our list of counties cached in, bringing us 2 closer to our family goal of 30 counties by Sept 2013
  • The holiday apartment we rented was gorgeous, and huge, so much nicer than I was expecting having booked it online virtually sight unseen

  •  It was right on the promenade at Penzance with HUGE windows and a sea view from every one, plus a balcony

  • Right outside our home from home was a golden postbox – for Helen Glover the rower, joint winner of Team GB’s first gold medal at this year’s Olympics – plus we got to see her homecoming victory parade on the Sunday morning that went right past our balcony – a little bit of unexpected Olympic excitement :)

  • We spent the best part of a day at Geevor Tin Mine – a UNESCO world heritage site (which also helps with a family goal – we have now visited 7 of the 8 we need).  It was fantastic fun – lots of exploring both above and below ground, plus who doesn’t enjoy wearing a hard hat?  An absolutely fascinating day out enjoyed by the whole family, I can thoroughly recommend if you are ever down that way.

  • A (delicious) evening meal at a beachside pub in Marazion, followed by a walk along the beach in the dark overlooked by the beautiful, floodlit, St Michael’s Mount.  The most perfect evening I have had in years.  I felt so relaxed and stress-free I was virtually comatose! :)
  • A day out at Flambards.  To be fair, not the best theme park in the world, certainly not quite up to Alton Towers standards, but hey, we had a lot of fun!  The park was really quiet so there were no queues to speak of to get onto any of the rides, and Titan the 8 foot robot was awesome!  The Victorian Village, though?  Spooky as hell!  Those waxworks come alive at night, I reckon, and terrorize the locals :)

  • After Flambards, with still many hours of sunshine left, we drove down to the Lizard, the most southerly point on the mainland, and did some geocaching in the village there and along the coast walk.  Wow, the scenery!!  Cornwall has to be one of the most beautiful places on Earth.  Full stop.  We even saw a huge papa seal sunning himself just a few yards out to sea from the little beach we explored.  Fab!

  •  After venturing as far South as we could go the day before, the next morning saw us heading as West as possible, to Lands End.  Blimey, this place has changed a bit since I was last there as a kid.  Back then it was just a sign post and a café and some cliffs.  Now it’s an all out tourist extravaganza!  The kids were pretty chuffed about that, and they thoroughly enjoyed all the attractions, like the King Arthur mirror maze quest and the 4-D pirate show.  The flight simulator Air-Sea Rescue ride was cool too, and the petting zoo (we especially liked Felix the Lands End cat who was very friendly).  There were so many people there though, that my favourite bit was when we escaped the crowds at the end of the day and took a nice long walk along the clifftops.  

  • Back in Penzance later on, we took the kids crabbing off the quay for a while.  Simple pleasures.  They enjoyed it so much (in fact, not once in the whole week did either of them mention missing You Tube, Facebook games or their X-boxes.  And that’s a miracle!) 

  • And then we took a drive out to Lanyon Quoit – a Neolithic dolmen – and explored the area as the sun went down – turning the sky a gorgeous purple – and then went home to munch on a very tasty Dominos pizza - another perfect evening :)
  • The following morning saw me achieving a personal ambition – I’ve always wanted to visit the clifftop Minack Theatre, ever since seeing a programme about it, and the remarkable who built it, on the TV.  It’s even more impressive in real life - such an amazing achievement, and what great views!  Pretty steep concrete steps to manoeuvre, mind, I’m amazed the Health and Safety nazis haven’t moved in on the place (but I’m glad they haven’t, it’s perfect as it is)

  • In the afternoon we walked across the tidal causeway to St Michael’s Mount and had a look round the castle, which was cool (if a little crowded, but I guess it’s high season) – and then back across to the beach where the boys swam for hours and we paddled and watched them play, and took photos of the kitesurfers as the sun went down.  Would that be another perfect evening?  Yes, yes, I think it would…

  • Another day, another adventure.  The next day took us to the Eden Project.  I first went here over ten years ago, not long after it opened.  I loved it then, but had heard from various more recent visitors that they had been disappointed in it or that it had gone downhill, so I was a little apprehensive.  But I needn’t have worried, I loved it just as much as the first time around, more so if anything as they have added lots of new bits so there is even more to see.  Both the boys really enjoyed it too, despite everyone telling me they would be ‘bored stiff’.  I think people underestimate children sometimes, they don’t always need all the interactive bells and whistles and flashy stuff to have fun.  

  • After Eden we went down to the nearby Charlestown Harbour to see the tall ships, and the boys spent a happy hour or so skimming stones into the sea, while we watched the Red Arrows doing their thing just across the bay at the Fowey Regatta.  It was just lucky timing on our part but it was fantastic, almost like they were putting on a private show for us!

  • And then, to top off yet another great day, we headed to Falmouth to meet up with our friend Leanne, who is lucky enough to live in beautiful Cornwall (I’m jealous!).  we had a delicious dinner in an Italian restaurant looking over the harbour, and then did some night-time geocaching, which was fun.
  • At this point I have to give a shoutout to the amazing weather we had while we were away - given the pants summer we have had overall, and the less than stellar forecast when I checked the day before we set off, we were so lucky!  We had six full days in Cornwall, and five of them gave us glorious sunshine from sun up to sun down.  The last day we were there was rainy, but as that was a day we were mainly indoors, looking around art galleries and doing a bit of shopping, that wasn’t a problem.  So thank you, sunshine!! :)
  • So yes, our last day, the weather when we woke was horrendous – which at least made for some pretty spectacular waves to watch!  We didn’t do an awful lot on this last day, we explored Penzance a little, visited some art galleries (and I bought a gorgeous painting in one of them - well, it's a print with chine-collé collage on top – my first ever proper grown up art purchase, get me!), had a quick drink in a 13th century pub, etc.  The kids did a bit more crabbing in the evening, although not for long as the rain started again.  And then we had a yummy Chinese take-away for tea.

And so that was our holiday….

Highpoints of the subsequent fortnight:
  • Seeing my in-laws (and Reg the adorable puppy) on the way home from Cornwall, as we went via Dorset to drop Reece off for a week with his Granny-by-the-sea
Reggie playing with his worm - fnarr
  • Getting a fab set of 24 good quality watercolour tube paints from Lidl for only £4.99 – I’m supposed to not be buying any art or craft materials for a year – but this was too much of a bargain to pass up
  • Bank holiday Monday – very grateful for the extra day of rest after hols before I had to go back to work, and the resulting 4 day week
  • Finishing my final entry in the Rock CJ I’m a part of.  It’s always a nice feeling to complete a commitment.
very blurry action shot
  • This month’s “chill out” at work – on the last Friday of every calendar month we all down tools at 4:30 and gather, usually in the board room, for drinks and nibbles and a chat.  The trouble with this arrangement is that the tendency is to show your face, grab a snack, and then slink off and go back to your desk and back to work to get stuff finished.  This month, to stop everyone doing that, the boss took us to a nearby pub instead, which had an old fashioned skittle alley.  It was so much fun, I didn’t want to leave!  Unfortunately though I had to skedaddle after an hour to get home for Connor.  I hope we go back there again next month :)
  • A trip over to Bristol to check out the finished See No Evil artwork, after which we met up with my middle son Darby, had a little spend up in Forbidden Planet, and then went on to Za Za Bazaar (apparently Britain's largest restaurant) down at the waterfront for dinner.  Nom nom NOM!

  • Making myself a Joss Whedon / Mutant Enemy t-shirt which turned out even better than I had hoped
  • The start of the ice hockey season – much missed over the summer months.  As usual there was a barbecue and a skate out to introduce the new Swindon Wildcats team, which happened last Sunday, and then this Wednesday was our first pre-season friendly game (vs Slough Jets, final score 5-5, if you’re interested :) ).  It felt good to be back at the rink.
  • Connor getting back off to school without a hitch – we usually forget something vital, or oversleep, or the uniforms don’t fit, or something, but touch wood, this year it all went well.
  • Dollhouse – I thought I had better watch the last remaining new-to-me Joss Whedon TV show, seeing as I finally gave in and watched Firefly and was blown away by it.  Dollhouse started off ok, but not brilliant.  But I’m now up to season 1 episode 8, and it’s REALLY getting good now.  To the extent that I’m not getting anything done creatively as I’m spending all my spare time watching it!  

  • Jay buying me a super cute gift of two identical Swedish stuffed rats (as in soft toys, not taxidermy!) in IKEA - some women might prefer diamonds but I love my little ratty twins and they are the perfect present for me - I've called them Hank and Dank :)

  • My eldest son mowing the lawn for the first time this year, and cutting back the ivy that had completely covered the patio - I have a garden that actually looks like a garden, again, not a Vietnamese rainforest.  Hooray!
And that’s a wrap….

Time to go and share this with the other Rockettes at Virginia’s blog – where she encourages us all to take pause on a Friday and consider all the high points and blessings from the past week.  They always say that the happiest people are those who count their blessings, and I agree.  Even in a not-so-great week, in fact ESPECIALLY in a not-so-great week, a little focus on the good things (and there are always some, even if you have to look hard for them), can be just the ticket to getting everything back in perspective.