Friday, 30 January 2015

Self Portrait with Catbeard

Self Portrait with Catbeard, January 2015
Self Portrait with Catbeard
This is it, the final painting for this goal:
055. Create 52 paintings in 1 year.
All the others have been posted, though this is actually #46.

I realised that I hadn't attempted a self portrait, in fact it's a topic I usually avoid. So I thought I would paint one, but with a difference. Well, if people can take photographs like this, I sure can paint this selfie!

The cat in the painting is Alfie, who tends to follow me around (and trip me up) and sleep in my room and get hair all over my clothes, so it only seemed right to include him in the picture!

I discovered through this image that hair is not as easy to paint with watercolours as it is to 'paint' in Photoshop (no surprise there, really). It was also difficult to mix my hair colour, which is currently a reddish brown!

Still, I like this as it's a bit silly. :)

Well, that's the goal done and dusted!
I'll eventually make a master post with all 52 pictures as thumbnails linking to their corresponding blog post. For the time being, you can browse the paintings by checking out the tag for goal 55.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

A Blank Page (or Art That Isn't There Yet)

Now I've completed my goal of creating 52 paintings in a year, let me tell you: I've spent hours staring at blank pages, knowing there is an image there.
Art involves a lot of invisibility, starting with a blank page (and sometimes a totally blank imagination, argh!)

Very rarely do I have a precise idea of how the finished piece will look.
I may have decided to include certain elements or colours, or wanted to evoke a particular emotion, but that's it.

Eventually I put on some music and get on with it.
Last time it was asobius, so here's their music video, 'Starlight'. It's bouncy and happy.

Music always helps to jog my brain into creativity.

Soon enough, by putting pencil to paper (gasp!), the 'Invisible Art' starts to appear...

Traps & Suggestions

Today I'm sharing four new paintings towards the following goal:
055. Create 52 paintings in 1 year
This includes more suggestions, so is a mixed bag of subject matter!

Inside, January 2015
Originally this one was going to be quite different, but once I'd drawn the person in the box, I thought to add a hand closing the box--and a box in the person's hand.
Unfortunately, in my wisdom (hah!) I picked up a fineliner when I'd finished painting, and outlined the person, which ruined it somewhat. This was one of those paintings where I didn't quite know when to stop.
That aside, I'm pretty pleased with how the big hand turned out, particularly as I tend to struggle with drawing hands.
I took inspiration for this piece from the feeling of being trapped inside oneself, by oneself, and the despair, fear and lack of control one feels over it that only makes the situation worse.
Medium: Watercolour on watercolour paper
Size: A5

Cheerful, huh?!

These next three are on much happier topics.
They're actually the last three I painted for this goal (yes, I've finished!) but I'm choosing to post them first. As I was stumped for what else to paint, and had already bothered Facebook for ideas, I decided to bother tumblr instead.
And quite helpfully, gained three suggestions:

Thank you, tumblrites!

So here goes...the tumblr suggestions...posted in the order I painted them, rather than the order they were suggested.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Angels, Asking and the Arkenstone

With the start of the year, I've been continuing with my reading goal:
050. Read 3 books per month for 1 year
I started on this goal in July, so now I'm 7 months in!

Here's what I read in January, as usual marked out of 5 according to my overall enjoyment of the book.

Good Omens - Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (5/5)
I've read this before, but after listening to BBC Radio 4's adaptation during the festive season, I decided to read it again.
The antichrist has been brought into the world to start the apocalypse. The angel Aziraphale and demon Crowley, who have an Arrangement and quite like the world thank you very much, set out to find the antichrist (they lost him) and stop the apocalypse happening.
This is an entertaining book with lots of typically British humour, clever plot devices and a whole bunch of lovable characters. Yes, even the antichrist. It also has Queen references.
I may or may not have dug out Queen's Greatest Hits after reading this book...

The Art of Asking - Amanda Palmer (5/5)
Some may remember that I blogged about Amanda Palmer's TED talk of the same title a while ago. This book is like an expanded version of the talk. In it, Amanda explains how by simply asking (and trusting), she has made some great stuff happen. I can't put to words how fantastic and inspiring this book was, not to mention interesting, but I didn't give it five out of five for nothing. I'll definitely be reading this one again. You should read it too.

The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien (4/5)
This was another re-read. The last time I read it was around 2000/2001, when I wanted to wade through The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings before I saw 'Fellowship of the Ring' at the cinema (I didn't).
The Hobbit is about a small and hairy fellow named Bilbo, who is a hobbit and goes on an adventure with a bunch of dwarves to reclaim treasure and the under-mountain halls that were lost to a wicked dragon. There's also goblins, elves, men, and more.
What you won't find in this book (unlike in the films) is female characters. Seriously. I didn't realise until I saw a mention of it online, and having read the book again, have found it's true. Women are mentioned, but they play no role in the storyline.
I'm half inclined to deduct a point for that, but gender of characters aside I enjoyed The Hobbit. It only gets 4/5 because it took me a while to get into the story.

And that's it for January! I finished the last book on the 12th, and am now giving my brain a break from reading until February arrives!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Suggested Scenery

Whilst I post pieces for my painting goal here, I also share them on a particular art group on Facebook. Recently I grumbled a little about lacking in inspiration, and had some great suggestions from other members...

(Have edited out userpics/surnames because privacy rocks)
So, I took those suggestions and got painting! Thanks girls!

Mourners of Mountain Moon, January 2015
Mourners of Mountain Moon
Terry (who also blogs over at Write.Create.Connect.) suggested falling snow, or a girl with head bowed and a single tear.
Alright, so I didn't get to the falling snow part, but from her suggestion, I ended up with this!
I tried to use very pale colours for the skin and tears of the characters. Originally they were going to be flower-like, but I decided to go in a different direction. The mountain part really happened because I'd just finished reading The Hobbit (which I'll blog about another time) and my brain was full of the Misty Mountain!
Some of my moon craters ended up a little wonky but overall this turned out better than I expected.
Medium: Watercolour on watercolour paper
Size: A5

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Sewing Me, Sewing You...

Recently I added a new goal to The List:
089. Make 3 items of clothing from patterns
Alright, so this is another goal that doesn't really involve Going Out And Doing, aside from the initial buying of fabrics and notions.

What this goal will do is 'Challenge my Self' and 'Enhance my Skills'--two more reasons for starting The List.

Curtain Skirt at Unfortunately Oh!
Click image to see tutorial! :)
When it comes to sewing, I'm very lazy.
I don't use patterns if I can help it, and when I do, I don't stick to them. Once I have the basic shape around the neck/arms, I tend to guess my way to the end.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Pathways of the Mind

The mind is a curious thing. It brings us dreams, discovers links between otherwise unrelated things, and of course chugs along merrily as we go about our daily lives. Scientists have devoted their lives to understanding the mind, whether in matters of psychology or neurology. They have tried to discover the full extent of the mind's power, and unlock the mystery of imagination.
When we let our imaginations run wild, there is no telling what our minds may come up with, nor how ridiculous and nonsensical it may appear.

Which is why the theme of this art post is Pathways of the Mind, and comprises of a nice big helping of surrealism. 

A Stage of Consciousness, January 2015
A Stage of Consciousness
A figure dances on a checkered stage, hemmed in by rock and riches. Nearby stand two structures of unknown origin, as more hover in a red sky, and all this seen from the mouth of a cave. But the dream is ending, and the scene slowly melting away.

I painted this to represent that point in slumber when you are caught between dreams and awakening--when you are conscious that you are dreaming, but powerless to affect the dream, or immediately wake from it.

Medium: Watercolour on watercolour paper
Size: A5

Friday, 16 January 2015

Bagelman, Brighton

After going ice skating the other day, my sisters and I returned home via Bagelman's Brighton Station branch.

I'd never been to Bagelman before and boy have I been missing out!
On sister #1's advice I went for vegetarian sausage, hash brown and mozzarella with tomato sauce, which I had in an onion bagel. It sounds (and probably is) carb-o-rific but the tastiness was well worth it.

Since I'd not eaten there before, this can count towards another of my goals, hurrah!

036. Eat/drink in 30 new places (cafes, restaurants, food stands...)

It's been ages since I ate from anywhere new, and I'll definitely be going back to Bagelman for more of their amazing bagels!

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Heroes, Villains and Salsa!

Several months have passed since I last blogged about films. I didn't watch many during the summer, and then became lax with writing about them. I was even lax with posting this; I wrote it up in November and somehow didn't post it (yet I could have sworn that I did!) 

As usual, this is for a goal:
061. Watch 100 Films
Here come films 11-20!

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Skating on King George's Lawn

Remember how, a few days ago, I said I was going ice skating somewhere rather special?
That somewhere was here:

The Royal Pavilion in Brighton was built between the late 18th and early 19th century, for the Prince Regent (who later became King George IV). The building is open to the public and is exquisite inside and out.
For the past several years the Royal Pavilion has set up an ice rink during the winter season. I've thought about going before, but have always talked myself out of it.

This year, I talked myself into it.

I also persuaded my sisters to go with me, which meant I couldn't back out!

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Sheltered Life

Sheltered Life, January 2015
I've been churning out paintings like there's no tomorrow, and still haven't caught up with posting them all yet. I'm not going to post them all together, because I still want to share them in sets wherever possible. Today's painting comes all on it's own...

Sheltered Life
Admittedly this isn't a new idea. I drew something similar several years ago, using biro, and it took forever to draw all the monsters!

For comparison, I'll add the original drawing at the bottom of this post

Normally I paint purely for the sake of creating something aesthetically pleasing, or to illustrate a scene. This image is different--it has meaning. It depicts a 'Sheltered Life'. The faceless subject beneath the cover of the umbrella is wrapped up against the world, in a clean but relatively barren and boring landscape. Beyond the protection of the umbrella, the monsters of reality await, unable to reach the figure inside. At first glance they appear fearsome, but on closer inspection, whilst some have savage teeth and cruel eyes, others have an expression of kindness and humour.
Such is the reality of a sheltered life: whilst the horrors are kept at bay, so too are the joys.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Vegan Chocolate Isn't Boring

Once again I've been munching my way through various chocolates that are new to me, all in the name of reaching a goal!

This selection is thanks to Lilia (Paracosm of Lilies) and is all suitable for vegans!
People seem under the misconception that vegan food is bland and boring, but these certainly aren't. I'm not vegan, so I'm used to chocolate containing animal products, but honestly I couldn't tell the difference.
Thanks for the chocolate, Lilia!

Choices Caramel Flavoured Choices
This comes in a little box of individually foil-wrapped chocolates, like you'd get in a selection tin. Being vegan, these chocolates are dairy free but as with the other vegan chocolate I've tried, the flavour is barely any different.
These chocolates are actually good news for anyone with food allergies or sensitivities, being free from dairy, wheat, gluten and egg.
The caramel inside the chocolates is soft and smooth, without being too runny or sticky. It's fairly sweet without being overly so, and two chocolates (a serving, according to the pack) is just enough to sate a chocolate craving!

Moo Free Original Organic Bar
If the name of the bar didn't make it obvious enough, this is an organic, dairy-free chocolate bar! According to the information on the back, it is also lactose free, gluten free, wheat free, egg free, casein free, and of course suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

The chocolate itself smells gorgeous--as soon as I opened the packaging, the scent of cocoa wafted out to greet me. Though I don't drink coffee, I would imagine this chocolate to be an excellent accompaniment, as the flavour isn't overly sweet or too 'chocolatey'. However, it's just as nice with a cup of tea :)

Mini Moos Lily-Lu's Minty Moo
Another chocolate bar from Moo Free Chocolates, and once again brilliant not only for all you vegans and vegetarians out there, but also those with food tolerances--like with Moo Free's Original Organic Bar, this is also free from dairy, lactose, gluten, wheat, egg and casein.

The smell of mint catches you the moment you open the package, and it tastes just as good. As well as lovely smooth chocolate, the bar also has little crunchy bits which enhance the texture.
This bar is as delicious After Eights (and I'd happily eat an entire box of those in once sitting). The difference being that this chocolate bar has a cute mascot, Lily-Lu Lemur, on the front. I'm sold on this one!

That's another three down on my goal of 50 new (to me) chocolates, bringing the total to 25! I'm halfway there, and far from having tried all the chocolate on the market. Hurrah!

Read about more of the chocolate I've tried here

Saturday, 10 January 2015

The Gathering

The Gathering, January 2015
Yup, this is another art post. Technically this does count as Doing, even though it's not Going Out And Doing.

I flew into a bit of a panic a few days ago when I realised how many paintings I have left to paint before the beginning of March. My goal was to complete 52 within a year, with the first one being painted on 3rd March (though I didn't share it until July, whoops).

So I got on and created some more paintings, and here is one of them.

The Gathering
I wanted to paint something magical set at night, with lots of tree silhouettes and so on. So I painted a gathering of fairies/elementals--but of course, we can't see anything of them but light and energy!
The grass posed a problem, and the trees took ages to paint, but I enjoyed painting them.
Medium: Watercolour on watercolour paper
Size: A5

By the way, if you've started to think this is a blog solely about what I do when I'm sitting on my butt...that is going to change! Next week, I'm planning to go ice skating with my sisters, which will not only be another goal off The List, but a real challenge as I've never tried it before!
Our ice skating adventure won't be at any old rink, but somewhere rather special.
Watch this space!

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Minimalism, Love Letters and Bananas

Today I bring to you some more TED & TEDx talks. I watched all five of these in one sitting, and some of them were mind-blowingly awesome.

Enjoy them!

A rich life with less stuff | The Minimalists | TEDxWhitefish
This talk, by minimalists Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, was, as you may have guessed, about minimalism. During the talk, Ryan explained how he came to find minimalism and the improvement it made in his life.
An entertaining talk with a good introduction to what minimalism is (and isn't). I found this talk via their blog,, along with a whole heap of articles which confirmed for me that I could never be a minimalist, but reminded me I need to clear out some stuff! 

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Slightly to the Left of Human

Alright, so this blog is supposedly about Doing, but all I've done lately is post about books, share artwork, and eat chocolate.

Today...I'm going to share more artwork. I shall blog about Doing Things when I get around to doing them (plans are afoot!)

Today's theme is Slightly to the Left of Human* and includes paintings from as far back as last March, so you can see my improvement ;)

Daisy, March 2014
With this, I was trying to imitate a style on a Facebook art group I'm part of (everybody was doing it, I thought 'Why the heck not?') Needless to say it didn't go too well. I think her pupils are the best part of it! I utterly destroyed parts of the paper in trying to colour her face, and the ink pen I used turned out to Not Be Waterproof, so I had a few smudges. Gaah!
Medium: Watercolour and fineliner on paper
Size: 17.7x24cm

At least I'd improved by the time I painted the next one...

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Somewhere Far Away (and a Weird Story)

Somewhere Far Away, September 2014
Today I'm sharing another painting, and not only is this in a different medium to the others I've posted so far, but it has a weird story to it...

Somewhere Far Away
This depicts a scene from memory, albeit a faded one...

Story time!

Thursday, 1 January 2015

A Little Light Reading

So 2015 is upon us, and whilst some may be getting on with their New Years Resolutions, I'm pottering about working on The List.

It's no surprise that, when asked what I wanted for Christmas, my answer was "Books". Or more specifically, "Here's a link to my Amazon wishlist."

My parents gifted me the above books, and very happy I am about them, too!

So I've added them to my reading pile...

Some people have shoes. I have books.