Cabin Fever

It’s Grey Outside.

I find myself painting without ‘colours’ this week. I speech-mark this because I do artfully consider black and white to be colours – ‘non-colours’, I call them, like my hair. Recently my topic has been oceans. I find I am painting black to grey to white waves and grey skies with dank hanging mists. I’m normally determined to use colours, especially when I usually feel so inspired by Gustav Klimt and my friend Suzanne’s work. She makes the most vibrant and happy landscapes of sea, sand, flowers and weather. We need these colours in our homes – especially those who must bring something of the outdoors in (along with Vitamin D3 capsules) for their lack of eye-food in the office.

But, woefully, I find my canvases laden with thick slatey dorbs. I can feel the weight of the mists in my head and behind my eyes and in my sinuses. Good Lordy-loo where has this come from?! And it comes to me as I gaze mournfully out of the window that the sky is feeling the same mournful melancholy as I. I find myself counting the months on my fingers since our last day of real summer… 14 months!! Winter has been here forever! Here in Wellington, New Zealand, Better-Half and I seem to have found a gaping patch of United Kingdom Home. In recent googling for weather maps of the area, Wellington does look to be the only truly moist region of New Zealand – correction, “Sodden” would definitely be befitting – gusts of cold South-Poley wind slapping the waters along the Cook Straight reaching the 165km per hour mark before it woofs into Wellington on a NORMAL day. It’s hard to believe now that our summer here post arrival from South East Asia, gave us a year long heatwave. Beautifully blue, clear skies, delicious scorching sun and sandy beaches, succulent sea-food and Sauvignon Blanc… OH MY SAINTED TROUSERS IT WAS SO GORGEOUS! So can it be that this is the Karma I have heard so much about? Have we had our slice of heaven, and now it’s time to be back with reality?! And then I look around me and, yes, I find we’ve somehow fallen back into our Monday-Friday, messy-house-gameofthrones-Nintendo-facebook-chocolate pattern! We worked hard to leave that behind in the May of 2015 and somehow we’ve reverted! 

Our intention here was to work for one year, enjoy the Mountains, and rolling landscapes, the walks, the skis and the seas! And then move onto India, Caribbean, Canada, Alaska (not necessarily in that order). Those are what colours I should be painting – golds and reds of India; turquoise, lime-greens, blues and oranges of the Caribbean etc etc. Since becoming an Artist I have become a sit-on-bum, coffee-sipper. I netflix-on-in-the-background Rosy-Lander. It occurs to me that there is more fun to be had and more journeys to travel.

So, my Sam and me look at the costs of house-busses and even just normal old ones to rip the interior out of and re-fill with comfy, squishy sofa, neat and compact storage units, futon, tiny kitchen and log-burner. The hippy inside us is screaming to be set free and suddenly I have a rainbow of colour swimming back through my veins! I’m even reading about how one travels with their cat – It’s a thing! It can be done! Murray (our snugly, happy, chatty, spotty and striped tabby) would love it! All I need to do is train him to enjoy being on a lead and we can do it! (We can do it, we can do it, build a bus for Cinerellie, dum-de-dum-de-dum-de-dum-dum…!) So, it’s on the list, rubbing shoulders with the others in the bucket.

I am lucky that I was raised in a family who told me that life is short, so you must live. I find this hard sometimes, what with being slightly on the spectrum. I feel more secure in my own surroundings which makes it hard to step out of the door even though I desperately want to be out there and not stuck inside. If it goes on much longer this time, the walls will be covered in grey paintings and I’ll have developed a character for my cabin-fever and called it Arthur or Ned or something terribly ordinary… And once I’m out there, I’m okay.

Next week, my Sam and me will break the fourth wall and travel to Wanaka where there’s some of NZ’s best skiing! Yes there will be a lot of white and grey, but they’ll be only the best and purest forms. Best of all, I’ll be IN them, touching them, breathing them in and the vibrant, happy colours will be flying down the blue, green, red, black runs like phoenixes in their wacky skis, salopettes, jackets and goggles. I’ll be exercised and jolly.

Picture from

I might just ditch the canvas for a bit and go for a walk around the botanicals. I might drink some too…


My First Negative Feedback

I know I’m still in the beginning stages with my work. I’m still learning, progressing, still not perfect, but learning, progressing. I know that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and I don’t expect my small business to hit the target immediately. I expect all manner of feedback, and you should know that I appreciate it all, but the first ever negative comment on facebook for all to see – whilst deeply unkind and unconstructive – was true and correct and worst of all… I completely agree with it.
“This is a bit sh*te, I don’t know why you’re sponsoring this.” 
I cried in the shower. The shower’s a lovely place to cry sometimes.
This comment came overnight, while I was snug and warm in my safe, blanketted heaven. Very few likes came from my post. Just one or two from a couple of friends and my parents. Of course I will be humoured by my nearest and dearest when the barely passable stuff is plonked on my page. Even though I know their intentions are good, I still wish they’d be honest – quite a number of them are Creatives and I’d benefit from their feedback. But their likes were crystal-clearly balanced out by the lack of likes from acquaintances and strangers – normally a healthy and complimentative handful (thanks, team!)

I only have 90 likes on my page, so after this rude awakening from Tanooki Detos, I withdrew my post…

I’ve been trying something different. With these I was trying to relate to all the modern every-day habits of the young and young at heart of social media. We love our selfies – especially the ones of us being right lunatics with chums at parties after lots of gin and general riotus behaviour. How could I make these ultra special, but still reflect the craze of today? Colour is eye catching, no? It highlights our favourite/funniest/most beautiful parts. But, I drew/painted these in a rush. My heart was absent and I felt desperate after watching World of Nate’s live webinar about making a business online. I needed to get something out there right away – a specific brand. EXACTLY what any self respecting human being should never do is undersell oneself by throwing their perfectionism to the wind because of the unfriendly total glaring tauntingly back at one on one’s online bank statement.

Of course I don’t expect it to be easy! I gave up working for The Man after numerous attempts, realising and finally accepting that generally I do agree with all who made it abundantly clear that I was no good, and would never believe those who said I was good at the work. (Apart from the team at Waitrose in Bath, Somerset, UK – I’m totally in love with all you guys!) So once you’ve accepted that employment by The Man isn’t for you, it becomes hauntingly apparent that you have only one choice left and it comes with an insurmountable quantity of risks – more than getting a simple supermarket job in town where all the background work is done for you and all you have to do is ASK for a raze (raze? Raise? Argh spelling!), ASK for a promotion and in doing so, show that you’re confident and ready and hey presto – you’ve got a neat and tidy influx of cash. Maybe not a lot, but you’re SAFE. So in writing this I pose the question, WHY ON EARTH HAVE I DONE THIS?! I MUST BE OUT OF MY SILLY LITTLE MIND!! But I already have two answers for that.

I don’t have a choice & I believe success is a possibility.

The pictures above ARE “sh*te”, Tanooki, and I don’t know why I payed to boost that post either, so I have deleted accordingly. Thank you from the heart for reminding me that my opinion of me matters as much as yours or anyone else’s – if not more. 

To my nearest and dearest who love me. Please don’t be afraid to criticise my work. It stings a bit, but I recall all the aches and pains that came during growth in the early stages of life. It reminds us that we’re alive, and being alive – for me – reminds me that life is so frighteningly short, and we have to let a lot wash over us and do everything that makes US happy. In the words of a revered Artist and friend of mine, Clare:

“SO… the weekend, during supper, I was questioned by a complete skeptic about the nature of ( my) ‘abstract’ painting. I patiently tried to explain what the term meant. He, with a look of utter blankness continued with the questioning until he was blue in the face! 

Even though I absolutely abhor talking about why I do what I do, I felt calm in the face of his utter ignorance.

Today, as I sit in my studio it hits me, that I have absolutely no idea why I am painting my current painting , other than it asks to be done. What it is ‘about’ I don’t know or care. And the best part is….. I find that completely magical and exciting!!!! 😀😀😀

Just KEEP IT UP all you creatives out there. It’s a very valuable part of who you are. Xxxxxxxx”

Thank you, Clare.

If anyone is reading this, please, I want to hear your story. I want to hear all the stories. And I believe in every single one of you.


Study Practice, Practice Study

Woooaaaay, my first blog! So, lets get down to business –

I’m going to make a sincere confession here, and that’s that it’s actually been a while since I just sat down, focussed, and drew something. And lately I’ve been trying to extract what skills I have remaining in what was once my imagination and is now a closet. I’m sure many of you who have that little closet at the back of your mind feel as I do, that it’s really very daunting to open it up and coax all those perfected skills out again. It’s easier to assume that they’re not as shiny and polished as they were back when you drew that wicked self portrait, or the adorable Staffordshire Bull Terrier because you fear failure. Why ruin the success you already made, right? Thing is, if you do cock it all up, that doesn’t ruin what beautiful work you managed in the past – sod it, you should frame the damn things and have them looking over your as you try, try, try again to remind you of what you’re capable of.

So this is something I’ve been telling myself for the past week, while paying no attention to it and procrastinating like hell, making a website (and failing and doing it all over again *cough bloody WordPress, cough cough* [although, may I point out that I adore wordpresspleasedonthurtme!]) and doing yoga and bloody cleaning things. Only one good thing has come from this and that is that my back has never felt better from the **yoga after a lot of desk time on my website! But really, all that’s been a black hole for the subconscious at the back of my mind to sit in, rocking moronically and shakily mumbling “can’t do it, not proportionally correct, shading wrong, hairy lines, failing, failing, failureooooooooh buggerty, buggerty!” But today I looked at this shrivelled little person in it’s stinky black hole, pulled ‘er out, dusted ‘er off, pollished ‘er up, gave ‘er a swift jolt back into life with a short, sharp slap across the chops and told her “we can bloody do this!” Hive five, heck yeah!

I took a look at my charcoal work, mainly consisting of some gorgeous doggies, and pulled out my practice pad. Today has been, what I like to call, a much needed SPPS day or “Study Practice, Practice Study” day, for those who dislike abbreviations. Basically, once you’ve helped up your own little subconscious you, just draw and draw. Make mistakes and AMBRACE them – they are your guidelines, your moulds, your structures. Occasionally your structure might drop a prop or two, but that’s okay. Use the tools you’re gifted with to pick ’em up and re-build with bigger nails and thicker cement. Tell yourself, “okay, now I’m going to warm up with a number of cock-ups before I get to work.” I can happily say, that by telling myself this, I nicked some pictures of my Bro’s dog Soap off Facey-B and had a little go. You can do this too! Just chill; drink tea; have a biscuit. Eventually you’ll get back to where you were before the daily grind took over…

Say hi to Soapy! So, this was the first attempt of the day. My eye can spot a lot of mistakes here – he’s sitting with an awkward sort of cock-necked pose, and having not drawn his little life jacket (d’aaaaw!) it’s actually just thrown me on the shape of his body. A good start, however. I feel I’m on a role…

This sketch is a little rusty, but it felt good to draw. I can see clearly where to improve – his nose is a little too long and his right eye a bit lower than that of the reference image. I can work with this!

Same with this one, but I’m getting the gist!

So, as you can see, I have mastered the ability to unlock the closet and piece by piece, gently-gently. I have finally brought up the nerve to unleash it’s stories! Have a go yourself!