It tastes like bird,

…said the hag as she cooked soup from a twig where the crow had sat.

As my regular readers are aware, I spend a lot of time optimizing my environment aka house to minimize obstacles to my hobbies, such as rearranging stuff to free up floor space and storage, and building missing equipment. In fact that’s just as fun and creative as painting a picture in some ways….

Continue reading “It tastes like bird,”

Loom boom

I never published a post about the tapestry looms that I was making, things got in the way of finishing them and when that happens life has a way of moving on to the next project regardless. In fact I still have one thing to do to finish my large tapestry frame! And the medium one (being warped on the red table cloth below) will be ditched or remodelled after I finish the project on it.

Continue reading “Loom boom”

Forced painting

I’m slowly getting back to hands on tasks, and I’m determined to break a barrier or two before the year is over.

It’s funny how I can happily mess about with painting abstract backgrounds / washes forever, and then I get stuck. Or any idea I might have doesn’t work out – probably because I’m so scared to ruin it that I overthink, and then paint over the failure with a new background. It’s quite clear I have a performance anxiety here that I don’t experience with photography, probably because I can’t trust my hands to be able to do what’s in my head, the craftsman part of it. And we all know how that part is achieved!

wip  ruined04 wip2

It mostly happens when I paint without a plan, which is what I’ve been trying out for a while. Just picking a set of colours and see what happens. Of course, it could be that I’m simply not suited for the so called intuitive approach. I do have several complete illustrations in my head, but they don’t even get started apart from some very preliminary sketches or even just descriptions. And I have a feeling they’re kinda blocking the doorway for any new ones…

So I’ve decided to just make them, force myself to begin – and if they’re no good, I can make them again. Totally new experience to me, I never did the same image twice. Or rehearsed them.

As for the backgrounds sitting in a pile, I’ll try to put anything on there now, even if it’s not what I think is my usual topic matter. For instance, even though I love gardens and take copious photos of flowers, I never considered myself a floral painter. But I quit resisting when all this canvas wanted was some poppies – now I just have to work on them a lot, as you can see they’re going through multiple stages before being even close to a sketch. (I was interrupted the other day, as usual. By the same person who interrupted me with the same painting a month ago, when I was doing the background! I just hope it won’t be another month before I get back to it – last time I completely forgot my actual plan with it. And well, the famous thumb and all…)


I don’t really wish to paint from life – that’s a camera thing for me. Painting is for the world inside my head.

I actually have a third hurdle, as if the first two weren’t enough. I never painted or drew people. I never take photos with people if I can help it, even as a tourist I wait until everybody is out of the frame before I click. But it appears that some of my “illustrations” have people in them. Which means I have to learn from scratch and develop a “style” if I want these images to live. It’s not going to be easy, I’m no good at people in any aspect. I even avoid mirrors.

I’m still not certain whether this new thing is really coming from me though, or if I’m simply influenced by all the mixed-media art journaling I’ve been seeing around. So the figures may or may not happen.

And that’s what I’ll be dedicating December to. No more touchy feely I’ll bloody well do what I feel like-a-day. I’ve got a job. Not like pretending to make art, no, this will be deliberate and planned destruction. Because I am in the mood and still nothing happens, as opposed to not really feeling like it but thinking you should.

I don’t know why I persist, but it seems I have to give it a go. And yarn. Silly, useless, colourful string. I always have my Adobe studies to fall back on if my hand acts up. And plugins..

All I know is, I spent many years doing just tedious jobs and nothing creative at all and I don’t like the person that turns me into – I don’t think anybody else does either. So I need to keep giving this as much space as possible, because even if it sounds like I struggle, it really is the only thing that keeps me alive. It doesn’t have to end with painting – after all it’s been on the shelf for 20 years while other crafts are more recent and perhaps more likely to yield “products” I’m happy to call finished. But just as I always considered myself a horse rider even when I didn’t ride for a decade, I still have this image of myself as someone who paints. Weird, huh?


My homeschooling project

After debating this with myself and some of the regular readers (thank you for responding), I’ve decided to not embark on extra subjects just now, but instead try to structure my current activities better – which will incidentally also allow me to go deeper, make research and so, learn more. I will be diving into the Adobe Suite again, but since it’s related work I feel that it’s not too much of a distraction.

Perhaps these things (choosing and whatnot) are a lot easier if you have a vocation in life, I don’t know. Some say you should not be looking for your path, since you’re already on it – so perhaps it’s more a question whether you were gifted with streetlights or not?

I won’t be picking up Flash again any time soon, so that’s a huge chunk I’m leaving out. Photoshop I can use not only for photography but also tapestry designing and colour work, InDesign for my layout skills. I have some painterly books with tasks and tutorials I’d like to work with, some of which can be tied into Illustrator learning.


I have a library list of various authors I’d like to investigate, but it’s mostly fiction for a change, so not really a chore. My A-level French books have been sitting on a shelf waiting for 30 years, I don’t suppose they’ll disintegrate all of a sudden and they can’t get much dustier already, so there, another confusion/procrastination away from the list for now.

So while I’m still tackling many things, it mostly comes down to images, colour and yarn. And I’ve said that before, haven’t I, when I “gave up” knitting. I just have to remember and stop confusing myself.

The schooling I’m after then is more structure, better work ethic, being able to work on one project at a time and still tie things together.

I was looking at my goals list for 2013, and really, I’ve been all over the place and hardly completed any of it. Especially with my physical goals, all talk and no action (and it shows). I still can’t drink my water! (I went and got one glass now)

Ok, it was an ambitious plan where I was coming from, but if you aim low you never get off the ground. And tiny steps were very much allowed, but I got carried away with the gardening and the plant dyeing and spent the remaining time sleepy.

12 weeks of the year to go. I better get serious! Not that I put very much importance in paper calendars and numbers, but I do feel a tiny bit of failure here.

Did I forget something? Writing. Horses – they’re the only ones that don’t fit in apart from the spot on my idea list which says “draw and paint many horses”. And my body issues of course, exercise and stuff. I can use the horses for some of my body issues and save time that way. I just lack the discipline it seems. (I trained both ponies this morning! And I feel way better than before I decided to! Yay me!)

Will there be blogging? I have no idea! I have a feeling I’m using it to procrastinate bigtime (no, actually it’s not just a feeling, I know I do it), but one has to socialize just a little bit, so they say.

tea time

How to study?

It’s no secret that I am and always have been, attracted to and intrigued by a multitude of subjects. And when I get my mind caught on something, I want to research and know everything about it, be it plant dyeing or horse nutrition. We’ve discussed how to learn, now I’m onto what.

photo collage

During a conversation about strengths last week, I realized, although I haven’t done Strengthsfinder 2.0, that one of mine is probably being a learner. All my life I’ve just sucked up information like a sponge and I love being a walking databank (others, not so much, my brother fiercely protested that I could not always be right, and my friend Nicole calls me “Hermione”). So although I feel I need more strengths to actually put my learning to good use, I think it’s altogether a pretty good superpower. 😉

I don’t know if all superpowers have a down side, but this one does: I get so absorbed in the theory, that I never get around to practice. When I get a new camera (like – once a century or so) I want to know what ALL the buttons do and then proceed to take really boring crummy pix because I’m in technical mode, not artistic. I just watched some videos on Golden products and began making a list, I want that one and this one and I gotta try such and such and…. Never mind that I need an extra wad of cash coming in if I want to buy ALL the things , they don’t do much on their own while I’m reading tutorials (I guess this link totally dates me).

I mentioned brain art before and it goes very well hand in hand with my desire to learn. And nothing to show for it except a lot of supplies!! (And then when I do get cracking I discard all exercises and just do my own thing – I guess I’m weird that way (too)). People are often asking me “what have you made?” (or – can’t you sell your stuff?) Um, yeah, right, what stuff, I’m just playing, err….

Incidentally on my list is for instance black gesso, could somebody please tell me what is was that I wanted that for? 😉 Note to self: when making wish lists, also write down why. (I know what it is – but why?)

I sometimes regret being a jack of all trades and master at none, while I also don’t really want to give anything up unless it fades on its own. And I feel like I’m up to adding more knowledge right now, less randomly. I love to study (much more than “working”) and I’d like to go deeper, the question is, what would be the best method.

I have a whole list of topics that I specifically want to develop further such as Photoshopping and more languages.


So I’d like to know what other people do and why that works best for each of you.

Do it like we used to at school – various subjects every day or week for a few hours/a day at a time, or all-in doing just the one thing for a week, month or longer? Normally I use the completely unstructured variety called “whatever I feel like” which isn’t very efficient because I keep going off on tangents. I think I need to make up a curriculum for myself for, say, the winter? To remove the urge of doing ALL the things NOW.

I’m not planning on taking actual out of the house classes, which is inconvenient for me as well as not very appealing. With bookish topics I want to do MY thing and not wait for everybody else or follow their agenda. I’m much more likely to do weekend workshops on the crafty subjects such as weaving.

So far I’ve been thinking a maximum of 2 topics per week + whatever else I feel like doing, as in not studying per se. What I don’t know is if I can keep up the same two for several months and not even look at other books/articles? Perhaps one longterm and several that take turns for a week or two or until I feel like I’m done with each for the “semester”?

A topic lasting “all” day will most likely be only once a week. I do have some kind of life on the side, ya know? Sometimes I do well with that, other times I can’t focus on the same for so many hours. Half days are more realistic at present. I also have to consider not overdoing it, putting more and more pressure on myself to perform, because then my brain shuts me down completely.

And then after some pondering and writing this post, I’m beginning to think “just one”. One “serious” topic at a time really is enough or I’ll run myself into the ground with ambition. Part of me hates to limit myself like that, but the second thought appeared to say, perhaps it’s also a path to freedom (strange choice of words, but that’s what it said). Can you hear how hectic my previous paragraphs sound? That’s the old me. Do I want to go there? Not really.

Now for the hardest part: pick one from the list. 😉 “You can do anything, but not everything.”

Gardening application UI
One study project that never went further because of job stress – learning to make Flash Air applications. It says “Garden calendar”, and my inner perfectionist already pointed out AND made me go correct the Illustrator file, that the K and the A are too far apart… 😉