A new chapter – misc ramblings and @she_threads

Hello all on this beautiful winter morning, the sky is blue, the golden leaves are glimmering in the sunshine and I am sitting in my usual place in the bay window looking out across the common. I have sat here over 6000 times in the past 20 years, minus of course the time spent in Greece, but even when working this was where I had my morning tea, wrote my journal and tried to put my tangled thoughts down on paper so I could offload the tangled creative whirlwind that lives within me and start the working day afresh. The seasons have turned now 20 cycles, the sun has risen and have watched trawl across the skies, seen all the colours from deep coral red, orange and good to the palest of pink and lilac as the sun has risen and set. The luminous full moon hanging there in the dark skies so full and abundant and her feminine glow has illuminated those dark spaces within that are hard to reach sometimes. The trees have gone from skeletal forms to exploding green buds and then to full lush verdant green swaying in the summer breeze and the then golden autumn coat is donned until no longer required for the deepest winter sleep. 2020 is just around the corner, the solstice in a few weeks time will herald the waking of the sun and slowly, slowly after the winters blanket is thawing all the work that has been going on deep deep in that dark moist magical place will gain momentum and push up through the soil. I shall be watching the spring come to life from a new view, I shall no longer be sitting here but shall overlook rolling fields as they slope down the english channel, which is very visible from most of the windows.

Happy, of course, I started this search in February and have travelled all along the Pembrokeshire coastline, the south and south and south east looking for a home with an elevated view of the sea, think I was about to give up when out of the blue my new home came into my vision, its a compromise of course as the south east is more expensive, but I shall have a lovely garden where I plan to grow veg and flowers, a large terrace and creative studio big enough to paint in and sew and make that has a balcony to boot, lovely views from all the principal rooms and an open and airy feel. Will I miss Tunbridge Wells, where I have lived since 1969, my first thought is no, but I know that I probably take a lot for granted here, like I can walk from my home across the common to the Pantiles for a nice coffee, something I shall not be able to do. Obviously I shall miss my kids and my brother but I am only 50 mins drive away and envision lovely lazy lunches out on the terrace However I shall be near the sea, not walking distance by choice but a very short car ride away. The sea has been a big draw all my life, a place to go to relieve stress, restore my energy and enliven my whole being. It is all very exciting and is taking up all my time planning, organising my home to rent out and packing for my January move.

@she_threads

So what else have I been doing, well I have been supporting my very talented creative daughter in preparing her winter collection of sumptuous woollen wreaths and garlands that are for sale, she has been so full on, I am the tea maker and confidence builder !! I just love to visit and see the wool samples and her chosen colour pallets, the test samples, hear about the provenance of the wools selected, types of flocks, the texture and so on. There was so much to get done I had no idea, all the packaging and carrier bags, display stands, labelling, ribbons, postcards, business cards, keeping track of the sales and invoices. Guess working for me for 10 years I know how methodical and organised she is and how our perfectionism makes us work so much harder. Kirsty can be found at the next Support local fair at One Warwick Park, Chapel Place, TW. on 8th December, to see them in the flesh you realise just how much work has gone into making them and just how luxurious they are . Well done Kirsty and one very proud mum. @shethreads on instagram

A path well trodden, but how much longer will it be?

Coming here to the North of Kefalonia  it always felt like I was coming home, arriving at the airport, the warm moist air enveloping me as I take the first step from the air conditioned cabin. The familiar face of Makis greeting me and taking my case to the taxi, the breathtaking views as we climb north driving ever higher.   I have been coming twice a year now for 6 years, a long time for me but for others I have met here this is nothing, Some people have been coming to Kefalonia for 16-20 years or more.    The farmhouse always held me, its wild gardens, olive groves, views across the ionian seas to Ithica, the wildlife,  the chickens and goats, this was a sanctuary away from the deadlines and constant pressure that hounded me  when back in the uk.   Now that the pressure is off  I wondered if returning to Kefalonia this time would feel different as I am no longer fleeing the pressure of trying to spin all the plates in the air, run a home, a business, staff, family issues and so on.  Its doubly hard when there is nobody to share this burden with me.  Designing interiors, mixing colours and textures, choosing original artworks, designing my own furniture pieces it gave me the  best feeling in the world and I was in my element, but the procurement  and installation , working along side architects, and building contractors and the male dominated construction industry who wouldnt know good design if it bit on the bum, all this side of designing took away that feeling completely.  Even though I won awards and various accolades it just wasnt enough to keep me fighting the design battles anymore.

So her  I am and  pleased to say that the feelings, even though the first two weeks have been in the coldest ever apparently, haven’t changed a bit,  I still love the island, well the norther part anyway, south more built up and busier.   Guess the one thing that has changed  is the longing to live here.  For one ,I do not like the fierce summer heat, so July and August would be a definite no no for me and two, I have found the uk version of northern Kefalonia, its wildness, rugged cliffs and coves, forest and quiet windy roads where I feel drawn to make my permanent home.   Still visiting Evreti, Kefalonia for 2-3 months each year I can have the best of both worlds, and still continue to travel and explore the uk and of course spend time manifesting creative objects into the world.

Of course with the advancing years, 70 last January, there is that little conumdrum of how much should I be spending?  how long will my money have to last, how long will I be walking in this world?  Something one never considers when younger, there is always decades to enjoy, thing to try out and if mistakes are made, plenty of time to put it right.  Now though decisions seem more important to make as not time left to rectify anything. Do I say to myself another 15 years, divide it up and spend the said sum each year?  Do I buy a house with an income, (holiday rental cottages} and run it as a small business?  Guess I am lucky that my business was successful and have these kind of issues to contend with.  I am not having the live on a uk state pension, the lowest in the whole of Europe!  Actually there was no luck, I gave my all to my company, blood sweat and tears to make it successful!  All I know is that this is whole new chapter in my life, one where for once I have the total freedom to choose, a real adventure awaits and I am very excited to watch each day unfolds and just where this path will take me

A few pics of the past weeks

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Moel Hirradug

This painting of Moel Hirradug has had several lives, three different attempts, one all green, one multicoloured and this one I think I like the best.  Still feel the need to try again though, next time might be acrylics and pastel.  This one is oil and it shows the iron age fort that sits atop.  I have it on my friend’s authority that the view from the top is amazing, sadly I didnt even attempt it.  Far too hot.  The painting also depicts the parched earth, no rain now for 54 days.IMG_9614

Faces and Cold Wax

IMG_9515Not working at the day job today so had time to relax, breakfast on the Pantiles then back for painting and trying out a new medium, new to me anyway.  Gamblin’s cold wax, its a mix of pure refined Beeswax and Gamsol, odourless mineral spirits.  Wonderful stuff and it makes the oil paint a thick butter consistency.  Thought I would try painting the South American woman’s face I tried a couple of week or so back and this time I am much happier.  It  has colour, the paints rich texture makes wonderful marks, using long flats and egbert brushes I managed to make  really nice painterly strokes,  even painting alla prima I could still, with a light touch flick a different colour over the first layer and create wonderful colour mixes and movement to the strokes.  Blending the colour to create a blurred outline is something I am always trying, this medium it just happened without really trying.  I used Rosemary Ivory brushes, long flats in sizes 6,10 and 12

day 6 many days late

I am still taking time to be creative, but not always with colour and image making. My writing is taking up some days, spending time looking at all the books I have collected over the years and seeing if they still inspire me now.  Researching materials and storage for all the pastels, they are such a messy medium, but oh so vibrant

This paper is Sennelier pastel card, doesn’t seem to hold the layers very well.  Going to try a 400 course grit UART paper next time, have also ordered a trial pack of all the types from 250 – 800 grit

this is today’s 30 minutes of creativity

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making marks

stack of white paper, stark white canvases,  plentiful tubes of luscious colour, pastels, charcoal, pencils, ink.  The weekend has arrived, my art studio has been professionally cleaned and organised by a friend  and I am about to make some marks on all this whiteness !!

Looking at the images surrounding me, the marks I have made on paper, board, canvas and card have all been curves, swirling, entwined, marks, curvaceous  languorous limbs, swirling fecund growth with swelling fruitage, usually heavily paint laden, deep grooves made on the paper with my pencils, there is a will,  a strong will that controls not on the visual element but in the way the medium is applied.

Today will I produce something similar, without a doubt it will be “rounded and abundant” ,  this is how I think, this is how I am and this is  how I express myself.  Maybe I could try something different, or perhaps could say that I do try to make marks in more geometric, angled shapes, but it doesn’t come easy, I have to think about it and when I think about painting or what I am to do, its then that a blockage restricts  my flow and nothing comes out !!!

One more sip of coffee, perhaps sitting in the sunshine, then lets see what happens

Yikes

this morning awoke at 4.45am.  not unusual for me on these long summer days, I then had the urge to create something, not the usual paper, paint, pencils kind of stuff but some flapjacks !!  Then It suddenly dawned on me I have been in the creative doldrums! Yikes !.  So much of my energy has been consumed by the interior design side of my creativity which has been very much to the forefront these past couple of years, but  that when it comes to my time, the output has almost come to a standstill.

peanut butter and almond flapjacks

Design doldrums, kind of design constipation, but if I am honest the interior design is like a fast flowing river and maybe separating this from my personal work is actually diminishing my talents?.  Maybe it’s not Yikes I am in the doldrums, it’s that I am creating  so much that I need me time to rest . replenish and find inspiration to keep the river flowing

 

The nuts and seeds here, not only look delicious and nutritious, but they are an abundant mass of ideas that inspired me to make an entry on my blog. Nuts and seeds are kernels of ideas, this is where the magic happens and design ideas get triggered.  However this morning “little meeces” came to mind,   I have been invaded by mice, dear sweet faces looking up at me whilst stuffing their faces in my cupboards !!.  I have caught three in a humane trap, but still they come.  They are now bypassing the trap and  gnawing their way through hard plastic containers,plastic lids and having a feast !!  3/4 jar of peanut butter and a whole untouched jar of Nutella whilst away this week !!  I love mice, had them a pets when a child, but having them cheerily peeking at me from my food cupboards is getting a bit much.  Going to bait up my trap with some of my flapjacks, all the things they love here, so keeping fingers crossed I can catch the blighter’s.

 

Have to save some for me !  especially as they contain wonderful golden  honey from my daughters bees !!

1 1/2  cups of toasted whole rolled oats

1 cup of whole toasted almonds

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1  1/2 cups dates, sour cherries and barberries (combined)  dates only whizzed to a paste in blender

1/4 cup of whole Earth crunchy peanut butter ( heated until runny with the honey)

1/4 cup of Honey

Combine all, flatten in an oiled tin and refrigerate. When cold slice

Be warned, put in a small tin so they are at least 1.5-2cm thick, too thin they fall apart.

also they are very morish so cut and put in a tin out of site, and bring out one with a coffee.  If you don’t it will disappear in a flash

 

 

 

 

 

 

needles and pins

these past weeks my ever enquiring creative mind has been journeying along a sewing path, in fact there are two paths running parallel.

One fairly structured, neatly folded lengths of pure grey merino wool, inky blue linen, oiled and waxed cotton, and an armful of patterns and notions.  All awaiting the alchemy that happens when scissors,  fabric, pins and sewing machine  work their magic.  All courtesy of Merchant and Mills in Rye, they have a great on-line shop but there is nothing like a visit, getting to meet the owners and feeling the cloth in one’s hand………………..

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My other path of threads and fabrics has taken me along the route of  a totally hand stitched product,  repurposed fabrics, frayed edges, hand dying and embroidered embellishments, a lot of this is still in my head and sketches.  I want to create a “cloth” something that speaks about the world I inhabit internally.  A world away from machines, from the world’s hardened edges, a soft yet powerful place where the seeds of creativity are birthed.  These two ladies helped help spring this journey into life

2Judith Hill – spirit cloth

its coming, can feel it my bones

Hallelujah! it’s coming, I can feel it my bones…………   The creative life can be such a roller coaster of emotions, for some time now its really felt quite barren, a wasteland ,  a desert where the seeds of creation would just not take root.  Even the day job where I am constantly walking around in my  heads own version of virtual reality, was looking a little lack lustre.  I have been so busy, such a huge amount of pressure since March, not conducive to a free spirit who needs to fly without constraints. Too much Pressure squeezes the creative mind dry, like a blockage I suppose and the ideas become stuck.

Wednesday a rush came to me,   like a real high, so many things have been racing through my mind, colours of prussian blue, magenta and turquoise, aubergines, organising a holiday on the island of Hydra,  working out recipes for dinner tomorrow night, indian stuffed vegetables, wonderful purple hues and the aromas of cardamom.  For some reason All along the Watchtower started playing in my head, and I just had to play it out loud, gimme shelter too, how strange? real blasts from the past………  Cherry ice cream, purple thick compote………..  sketched a dress to be made to take on holiday,

This is how it usually starts, it’s as if the creative mind has a life of its own, it lies dormant, guess it’s resting, taking a restorative break perhaps, like Persephone  travelling to the depths of the underworld for 6 months until she is ready to come back up and create that spark that brings nature back into growth.

Be good to hear how this creative minefield affects you!

above are a few things that have been coursing through me recently

 

 

 

See the beauty everywhere

I would like to share this video with you all, its of a woman, 109 years old, telling her secrets of a long and happy life…….. she has many gifts, one that spoke to me was seeing the beauty everywhere, even though there can be darkness, still finding optimism and a connection to the beauty of nature will keep our hearts open

Thank you Dawn for sharing this video with me

I give you ALICE HERZ SOMMER

The creative mind

Not sure what is going on with my mind at the moment, its kind of all over the place, one minute creating a patchwork of colour, sewing, sewing, sewing, with blocks coming out of my ears……………  Then wanting to sketch with a mapping pen, all inky blots and scratchy lines

Then after the orange spurt on Monday, partly prompted by bitter orange library scheme I am creating for my next project in my day job, like luscious tangy marmalade all juicy and ripe.  Partly inspired by the wonderful parrot tulips I treated myself to.  But now its purple, the wonderful pinky purple colour that hot beetroot makes when doused in sour cream swirls……..  Deep magenta,  oozing damson liquor when baked in a pie.  I cooked myself beetroot and courgette with warm lemon yoghurt dressing tonight, the taste was just sublime.  As I  rubbed the warm skin from the cooked beetroot just couldn’t resist taking a photo of it,  Hey presto it turned into a humble beet to kind of Beet Mandala !

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Beet Mandalabeet mandala 2

 

 

from sun to snow

Beginning of the week was 10 degrees , blue skies and sunshine, today, Saturday, its thick white skies, flakes a fluttering and snow-capped roof tops and -1 degrees

I love the way snow seems to blanket sound, everything is quiet, like time stands still.  The colours of snow reminded me of a piece of work I made . It started life as grisaille painting, a still life of some treasured items of mine , silver and reflective.  Taking a photograph of it to study the tonal qualities I started to play with it digitally and turned it to this……………  exactly what today has conjured up for me

 

tablescape week 1  pattern 2 SF I call this my  snow mandala

 

tablescape week 1 detailthis is the original piece of work , a creative  exercise in trying to capture differing qualities of metal, stone, and shiny objects

 

Full to bursting with ideas

Ideas of all “kinds” have been racing around in that head of mine, from creation myths to creating huge interior projects and drawing out designs or my new quilting obsession.

Its been awhile since I posted anything, I have been sewing, reading, writing , researching and getting ready for the workshop I am facilitating in Malta  with two dear friends,

A fruitful time in many ways, designing and detailing an interior design project thats being installed in March, and another in Leamington spa which is the most amazing building see here .  Then I have been sewing my first large bed size quilt.  Up to now have been practicing on small items, lap quilts, sewing accessories for the kitchen and amassing fabric!

In between all this activity it was my birthday, a very special day indeed, felt very loved by my two children and all my friends.

Here is a pictorial diary of the last weeks…………….  Off to Malta Tuesday, so no posts for week !

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