Autumn Journal prompt ‘date’

Today marks the 1st October and the start of an autumn artist’s journal guided by prompts from Myfanwy Hart over on her blog.
Apart from creating a mindmap using the word ‘date’ I considered the word within a word, namely ‘inundated’. At work, I’m inundated by chase ups, queries, questions and responses backed up by scrupulous record keeping, cataloguing and archiving. It’s more common – even an unspoken rule now to record everything … life has become evidence collecting. Some days this blog even, gets more traffic than others and I still find myself asking, ‘will I get any responses? Will people like my posts? Will I get a record of the most views to date on my blog so far?’
There are many questions that I still ask myself and it’s always refreshing to read comments that bloggers write after I’ve posted and those who like my work. Some of the experiences I’ve shared with bloggers since January have been very new to me and certainly take longer than five minutes to create such as the 39 Squares project which evolved as I went along. Each image was prompted by a tale or family anecdote and it was such fun to see the embroidery grow into something I wanted to hang up on my wall.
So, with the prompt ‘date’ I drew a little mouse alerting us to harvest and my preparation to take part in the marathon Nano writing month in November.


Day 3 of a Be Creative Month

I’ve started the gentle prompts given by Myfanwy Hart from the Be Creative facebook page and her blog. Using Myfanwy spans the prompts steadily over a weekend, but this month she is providing daily prompts. Considering I work full time, this is much more fitting with the time I have in the evening, given that I also have a commute into the city which gets chocoblock during school rush hour!

On day 3 we have been given a photograph, which you can view here

Before you ask what happened to my response to prompt one and two, number one was to create circles using the base of a cup which had been dipped into some kind of liquid onto paper. We will return to this prompt (I am sure) later this month. Maybe tomorrow?

For prompt two, I did write an acrostic type poem, but I won’t be putting it on here today.
There are many ideas of how I could use the photograph provided by Myfanwy – write a haiku; sketch, stitch or even take a small section and make an asymmetric design. I decided to base my creative exploration around a painting I saw during an Art History lesson. We were shown a white square painted on white square painted on white paper. Brush strokes were just visible to show the shape. So, what did I do with the photograph? Two things.
1 – I tore strips of textured paper and layered it into sort of collage

2 – I then uploaded my creation, making use of the shadows created by the torn paper, into an Ipad App called Doodle Buddy. For some peculiar reason it rotated the image, so I turned it again (which is why the tool box can be seen upside down!)


I have no idea what the prompt will be for tomorrow, but do head over to Myfanwy’s blog. Perhaps you might like to have a go ūüôā

Summer Journal, day 15

I’ve not blogged every day with all Myfanwy’s prompts because I’ve been caught up with other things (such as playing with my printing press!).
However, today’s prompt is: ‘If you could do something that you have never done, what would it be?’ You can see the prompt here:

There have been a fair number of jobs that I’ve experienced over the years – learned the printing and publishing trade; studied a degree in my late thirties; trained and qualified to be a Secondary School teacher; managed a library to name a few. All these opportunities provided new skills which can be added to a CV for a future job. At one time I could have written that I’ve always wanted to keep a blog … I’m doing that now, so I can tick that off or write a novel (I’ve taken part three consecutive years in NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month with the goal of writing a novel over 50,000 words in just 30 days). I also wanted once to experience a ride in a hot air balloon as it seems so romantic. I was put off this when a couple of Christmases ago, a hot air balloon plummeted just down the road from our house and crashed, killing those on board. I think as you get older you begin to weigh things up and reason with yourself whether what you want to do is irresponsible; a huge risk; dangerous; an act caused by a mid-life crisis or just plain stupid!

It’s hard to answer this question without wondering if you have ever had a glimpse into doing something, a taster. For example, I have attempted to learn foreign languages: Latin, French, German, Spanish and Italian and most recently a taster in Russian. I admire people who aren’t native to an English speaking country and learn our language to a proficient level of fluency. Those people who can switch from their tongue to another almost seamlessly.

My eldest is a foreign languages student. She has the desire to bring her future offspring up bilingual. We have friends who have done this and it’s fascinating to watch how the child responds by listening to the mother speak French and the father speak English.

Languages are a very useful skill to possess, so although I can’t say it’s something I haven’t done, but would like to. It is something I would like to do fluently. How nice it would be to have a manual, read it and learn it successfully in a week! Can you imagine?

Only last week we had a visitor arrive at the company I was working for. He introduce himself and announced he was from Russia. I was delighted that i had the chance to try out the words I’d been ‘taught’ in a two hour initial lesson, but do you think that I could remember what the word for hello was? I could recall the word for rabbit and tiger; how to say ‘I loved you’ (note the past tense) and the word for goodbye. All useful vocabulary, but not on a first meeting!

Oh well, back to my ‘Russian phrases for Dummies’!


So, fellow bloggers, what would you like to do if you had the opportunity?

Eggs and Spoons

My summer journal entry prompt involves an egg. Myfanwy Hart asked, “What can you do with an egg?”

I think of my gran when I think of eggs. She used to find many crafts for me when I stayed. We painted pictures on pebbles or pin-pricked a hole in the top and bottom of eggs. By blowing at the hole we eventually ended up with hollow eggs which we then decorated with food dye and the exciting thing was, it didn’t have to be Easter.

I also thinking of egg and spoon races and how these used to be led with real eggs not plastic ones. Spoons also remind me of my gran. She collected spoons for most of her life and they were all proudly displayed in her small conservatory next to a photograph of my grandad dressed as a cowboy in Wyoming (where their son, my uncle lived). It became a trend when my family went on holiday to search for a spoon or two and bring them back for her to add to her collection. As it happened, I even bought her one during a school trip to Lyme Regis, which is still one of my favourite places.


It has become a joke in our house when my son gets his laptop out to do his homework. He has renamed folders on the hard drive as ‘cutlery’ and that he went to Spoons Elementary School! My daughter, on the other hand has renamed one of her homework folders on her computer as ‘Boredom’.

When I was going out with my boyfriend many years ago, I treated him (yes, really) to a home-cooked lunch which comprised of a carrot sticking up in the middle of some scrambled eggs I’d added green food colouring to. I was trying to convince him that I disliked cooking just so that he didn’t have any pre-conceived ideas about gourmet meals and entertaining his family. Every now and again I will bring out the photograph I took of this special event to remind him that cooking is not my favourite pastime. My eldest says that I tend to bake when I’m cross about something – it becomes a way to offload and let off steam – haha – so when I baked some more chocolate and walnut brownies today and was humming away, she said, ‘Mum, what’s going on?’

Obviously as time has moved on, we have heard snapshot stories about growing up, including my parents’ effort to get my brother to eat boiled eggs. They used beetroot to die the egg whites so that the eggs were disguised, he did eat them because of this! I ate them any which way except poached as I didn’t like the texture. Dipping toast into a runny yolk was always a great breakfast. Meanwhile, my husband makes dinosaur eggs for our youngest by partly boiling the egg in its shell then tapping it gently with a spoon until it cracks. He adds blue food colouring into the boiling water, which seeps beneath the shell. I’ve blogged about this cooking technique in a previous post, but here is a reminder picture of it.


My brother introduced me to ‘Eggy Bread’ when I was younger. This was done by beating eggs up in a bowl and then dipping the bread into it. The bread was placed into some hot fat in a frying pan and flipped both sides before serving hot and crunchy.

When my youngest was about three she used to call fried egg a ‘flat egg’ and this was because the only way she would eat it is by completely flattening the egg so that you cannot see the yolk. She refused to eat the yellow regardless of whether it was fried, boiled, or poached!

Summer Journal … Day 5

Today’s prompt for July 5th by Myfanwy Hart was to respond to ‘What do you prefer?’ This was to make a statement about media preferences. ¬†Now, if I was going to decide whether I prefer watching a film to reading a book, I would have to say the book comes tops every time. ¬†Just like a book has to hook me within the first few pages or it lays discarded, a film has to grab my attention. ¬†More often than not, I give up half way through, much to the annoyance of other family members, especially when weeks later, they may watch the same film and I will comment on a section and say, ‘I haven’t seen this before’! They will argue and say, ‘Yes, you have.’ What they really mean is, they’ve seen it and even spot the errors, the stray microphone, the skid marks in a desert from a previous shoot etc and therefore, I must have picked up on this too.

I do enjoy a bit of Sherlock drama (the movies and the TV series). ¬†I also like books which have clear sections in them so that I can return to them several days or even weeks later and still find my place. ¬†I prefer hard copies of books over ebooks too. ¬†One thing I had to free myself on was underlining and adding notes in text books during my university days – harder to do this with ebooks – and I can still hear my dad shouting in my ear, ‘turn those pages from the corner and don’t crease the page!’ ¬†He taught me to protect books from a very young age. ¬†Apparently there was a way to have your palm facing up and allowing it to glide against the back of the page before turning it over.

For my summer journal page, I decided to not only write on labels what I prefer in media ie newspaper over novel or film over Youtube and so on, but I also encouraged my OH, son and youngest daughter to take part too.  These were then attached to four bendy straws to make the appearance of a hat stand (of course), because as you may recall,  my perfect day would be heading out to a boat on the river armed with a sketchbook and some jazz music playing in the background.

summer journal project – day 3 and 4

I’ve been working on a ‘what’s my style’ prompt set by Myfanwy Hart’s Summer Journal project by adding things I’ve changed or in the process of changing as I discover what I really like or dislike (a bit like the main character in Runaway Bride where the bride-to-be is so determined to accommodate what other people like she doesn’t know what eggs she enjoys eating!). ¬†I’ve compromised with holidays because two members of my family suffer from travel sickness, but won’t do anything about it! ¬†I’ve compromised with jobs to fit in with my husband having three! ¬† Now, in the words of another blogger I met via wordpress I am finally doing what I love and at last I am happy. ¬†I set aside drawing for years. ¬†I put my pens away, my paintbrushes got taken over by the kids and then ended up in the bin because they forgot to wash the discarded paint out. ¬†I took a hard route and got stressed out. ¬†So here is a snapshot of my journal entries I did today. ¬†


The prompt provided this morning was to comment on what our perfect day would be. ¬†I haven’t added much in the way of sketches yet, but I can say that it would be sitting on a boat meandering down the river or canal at a leisurely pace, with a sketchbook in hand observing the scurrying wildlife. ¬†Pictures carry so much meaning, that only a few words are needed. ¬†The sun will be shining enough to provide warmth that I wouldn’t need a coat and the boat is substantial enough to offer an area to store cool drinks – an icecream soda (something from my childhood) and ploughman’s lunch. ¬†The deck would be large to sprawl out and completely relax and some jazz music playing in the background. ¬†My favourite music at the moment – tracks by Parov Stelar



Biro drawing

I’ve been a little distracted today with the arrival of our new kitten, however, I’ve been sifting through my journals and preparing a new one solely for illustration preliminary sketches and gathering of images and ideas. I’m writing a children’s picture book and using the tips found in a book I’ve bought called ‘Illustrating Children’s Books’ by Martin Ursell. Some of the first pieces of advice he gives is how to make mock-up books, dividing the pages and sketching out ideas without relying on observation. I’ve been doing this recently … doodling or drawing objects, animals, items from memory. It’s amazing how focused you become as you begin to ask yourself silly things such as which way does the pupil go – is it a slit or a dot? How many ‘toes’ does a frog have? How big is the head in contrast to the body? Does an octopus even have a visible mouth? How big are an elephant’s ears? These questions enable us as artists to experiment with charicatures and stylised cartoons. Pictures become simplified and even comic, yet the idea is to get the idea down as a point of reference.

I’ve just joined a Summer Journal group via Myfanwy Hart’s Be Creative Facebook Group – she’s also mentioned this on her blog. She will be issuing a series of journal prompts over the summer, which I’m really looking forward to – there’s a buzz in the group already!
There is still time to join in. Visit the blog to find out more about this exciting opportunity!

Today, I came across a drawing by one of my children from when they were at nursery. My 21 year old drew a cat where the head was separate to its body and it had enormous claws. Another of my children drew a striped tabby with a tiny head and large claws. I’m glad I kept them.

For now, here is another of my illustrations … All done in biro
As a source of reference, the little boy in the drawing is my son (who turns 18 next week) ūüôā