Friday, July 26, 2013

Artful Readers Club July - Black Coffee Blues by Henry Rollins

Back when Darcy first mentioned this very cool idea of hers – what’s that? an arty reading club?  I’m in! – she said that we should pick some books that had been lying around our house unread for ages and we just needed an extra incentive to pick them up and actually read them.  Straight away I knew that this book had to be on the list, and in fact it was the first one onto my ARC pile.  Because I had bought this title (along with its two brothers - Black Coffee Blues is the start of a trilogy by ex-Black Flag vocalist and spoken word maestro Rollins) yonks and yonks ago, but had been actively putting off reading it.  Why?  Because I knew it would be bleak, and tense, and quite frankly hard work, and I never seemed to be in quite the right mood to start it.

So thank you, ARC, for forcing my hand ....Because yes, the book was indeed bleak, and tense, and angry and testosterone fuelled, and downright depressing a lot of the time – but it was also fascinating, and enlightening, and even, in spots, funny.  Very much like a Henry Rollins spoken word gig, in fact ..... you can absolutely hear his voice as you read.

The book starts off with a section called 124 worlds – single paragraph glimpses into (mostly) pretty depressing lives.  A lot of them are kind of extreme, dealing with violence, abuse, dependence….. it’s a harrowing read.  Here’s a couple of the tamer ones:

#18: He goes to the same job every day.  He comes home to his wife every night.  they rarely touch.  They're not attracted to each other anymore.  Neither makes a big deal about it.  A few years ago, they would fight and swear that they were going to leave each other, but then they found that when it really came down to it, neither one had the courage to go out and meet someone else.  They don’t hate each other.  They are roommates waiting for death.

#26: School made him sick to his stomach because he had to fight all the time.  He never ran away from fights.  He got beat up a lot but he did win some.  It seemed like every time he turned around, there was someone in his face trying to start something with him.  He used to get up hours before school because his guts would be on fire getting ready to face them.  One great day he punched this guy just right.  A broken nose is a many splendoured thing.  This guy’s face just exploded.  It was like a rainbow – but all the colours were red.

The other main section - with the rest of the book taken up with dream diaries, poems and short essays - is Henry's tour diary from a European tour in the late 80s.  I saw the Rollins Band a couple of times on that tour, so it’s very interesting to read his journal entries from the time.  The diaries are very personal – I’m pretty sure he didn’t have publication in mind when he first wrote them, and are a real window on the mind of a touring musician – dealing with the endless parade of soulless hotel rooms, the boredom, the loneliness, but also the joy and energy of performing, which makes it all worthwhile.

So – all in all – I loved this book, but I won’t be rushing straight into reading the other two books in the series.  I want to read something happy and uplifting first :D

For the art page to accompany my review, I used part of another favourite quote from the book, our Hank really has a way with words:

"How memories lie to us. How time coats the ordinary with gold. How it breaks the heart to go back and attempt to re-live them. How crushed we are when we discover that the gold was merely gold-plating thinly coated over lead, chalk and peeling paint"

I used the Summer of Colour week 5 combo for this one - pale pink and charcoal grey - using a coral stencil for the background (I was going for the look of a brain, as Henry certainly has a big one of those, as well as a big mouth!)

Next month I'll be reading Thud! by Terry Pratchett - so I'll see you again then, my fellow ARCers!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Time for a bloggy catch up

I've neglected this poor old blog recently, haven't I....... no "Rocking Your World" or "A Year of Firsts" posts since March, and half the stuff I make doesn't get onto the blog any more either.

Sorry peeps, it's all down to wok craziness, it's been such a busy year and I've been working silly hours, so a lot of my free time activities, including keeping my blog up to date, have had to give

But anyway, enough excuses, here are a few things I've made recently that I haven't put on here yet:

First up, I've been taking part in the Summer of Color challenge this year - and a few of the bits you'll have seen already, but here are two you haven't:

Week one - colour combo Citron Green & Turquoise - I made a batch of gelli prints and then used one of them to make my dad's Fathers' Day card:

Week two - Hot Pink & Orange - I used on a CJ entry already blogged here

Week three - Lime Green & Purple - well purple always makes me think of chocolate thanks to Cadbury :)  so I used this combo for my Hollow Chocolate Bunnies book review artwork, already blogged here

Week four - Charcoal Grey & Pale Pink - I can't share that one yet as it's on the artwork for my next ARC book review, but watch this space!

Week five - Candy Apple Red & Yellow - I made something for myself to keep for a change.  I bought this wooden plaque a while ago in the Works for £1.99, and used it to make a bit of tribute fan art to the wondrous webcomic Romantically Apocalyptic

Any of you who haven't checked out RA yet - do it now!!!  Head for the archives and read it from the beginning or it won't make sense.  Well, it doesn't make much sense anyway :) But it is so funny and beautiful and just brilliant.  What are you waiting for?  go!   (but do come back here afterwards and finish reading this blog post :) )

The week six combo is looking likely to be Sage & Sepia, not sure yet what I'll do for that one....

What else haven't I blogged?  This ICAD portrait of my cat:

And this CJ entry:

(I cut that 4 layer stencil of the Krays by hand, it gave me a knife finger blister! more details over here)

I think there are probably other things I've forgotten to blog, but that's a reasonable attempt to catch up.....

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Trapped in the amber of this moment....

I'm a proper girly swot this month, as I've finished my entry in Sian's art journal CJ already, and it isn't due to go in the post until 1st August. Which is most unlike me, I am usually a stay-up-till-3am-the-day-before-the-deadline-to-get-it-finished kind of a girl

The theme of Sian's CJ is 'word play' - she has provided a list of words from which each participant chooses a word (or two) to illustrate.   In that respect it's a little bit like the pair journal I'm doing with Shirley (which I haven't blogged about on here for yonks, but it is still ongoing, the latest update is over at Collabor-ART)

Sian has some awesome words on her list - lots of nice happy ones, but also lots of cool angsty words like 'fear' and 'addiction' and 'alienation' - and being the horror movie/rock/metal/comic book fan that I am, I was more drawn to the darker words.  In the end I decided to illustrate the word 'trapped':

Sci-fi fans might recognise the quotation, it's from Kurt Vonnegut's classic Slaughterhouse-Five:

"Why you? Why us for that matter? Why anything? Because this moment simply is. Have you ever seen bugs trapped in amber? . . . Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why." 

To give the illusion of poor Billy Pilgrim being trapped in amber, I sprayed the central section with a couple of coats of glossy varnish:

I did want to give him a little hope though, so I stamped the crackles on top with white paint to show that the amber is starting to break, maybe he'll escape from this moment soon enough....

Finally we were asked to make a matching tag for our sign in:

I've used a lot of stamps this time around, which was kind of fun, it's a while since I've played with my rubber :)  The crime scene tape is from Viva Las Vegas, the corrugated iron background is by Darkroom Door, the round Circle Journal stamp is by Cats Life Press, all the crackles are from a cube by Stampers Anonymous, and I think the woodgrain that I used for my planks is by All Night Media

The man was painted by me, though.

I do hope that Sian likes it, and that it hasn't overly spoilt the mood of an otherwise pretty and uplifting journal!

So it goes.....