Tuesday, November 8, 2022

It's (Eventually) a Hocus Pocus Hallowe'en!!


I missed it this year! I had AAAALL these big plans....which went the way that big plans tend to go! So here we are, more than a week behind the celebration schedule and no Hallowe'en kitty pic...is this one of the signs of a coming Apocalypse? Ha! No - I'm just fritzy still and things take their own sweet time...

Fear not, compadres, for a picture is finally here! I had SO many options spinning in my brain but I finally decided on a particularly witchy theme, prompted by the long awaited release of a cult classic follow up movie - guess which one!


For this I used my watercolours - Mijello Gold and Winsor & Newton with Artistro's metallic shimmers, Faber Castell Classic Colour pencils,  Dr P H Martin's Irridescent calligraphy ink (copper plate gold), Dr P H Martin's Bombay black India ink, and Tachikawa School G Pen nib pen for line work and detail. It turns out that Leonard's actually quite comfy in a frock. Roomy, he says. 

*  *  *  *  *

 I put a spell on you! Finally! 

Happy belated Hallowe'en!! - Shroo xxx

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Fund-Free Fun: A Little Inspiration For Creating In Frugal Times!


 The pandemic of 2020-2021 may have had its many frightening horrors, but one good thing it brought us was the government furlough scheme, which allowed my husband to stay at home safely with me. We enjoyed that time together so much as we are both naturally antisocial people, passing many hours with him in his garden and me in my studio. Time to play, to take our minds of bigger problems and focus on our own little universe.

    Money was tight as my work dwindled to zero and Glynn's wages took a hit so there was no extra to spend on supplies and little treats. The thing is, that to most artists the leaner days are pretty much a standard affair. Our wishlists may make us look like we're near-terminal hopeful Rockerfellers, but in reality we're usually reduced to that squeeze and scrape activity that is the 'making do' with the almost empty tubes and pots of dribblesome gunk that we've had for years. As my Grandmother would always say, "Necessity is the mother of invention."

    So I thought I'd share a couple of projects here that were good fun when the world stood still - a distraction that proved that art isn't about money or endless supplies, but more about using your own creativity to produce something from ingenuity, a sense of fun and the things you already have around you.


    This  here thingy was a thoroughly enjoyable little project that used up odds, ends and scraps. It really had no purpose other than, well...fun! 

    It started off as an old box from my incense sticks, cut, trimmed and prepped with black gesso. One side was to be covered with some designer paper from my [worryingly/satisfyingly substantial] stash, and the other prepped with old saved tissue paper and squidged acrylic painty base:


    Messy old fun.....

    Joyous texture - is there anything more satisfying?

    Everything from hereonin was just ...fun. I didn't take pictures of every step, but it wasn't complicated. I used the base as a template to cut three paper pieces which I glued onto the scrappy prepped base, then used the remnants of the acrylic paint to grunge up the edges. I had a fancy to make it look like a prop map from an old adventure movie... I LOVE those things!

    The fastening is just a circle cut from leftover cardboard covered in more leftover paint. It's glued to the top flap and two slots cut into the overlap part allow the ribbon to be threaded through, wrapped round and tied. The ribbon's an old salvaged bit of sari silk.

     I glued a couple of lengths of waxed linen thread under that cardboard disc and ferreted about in my spare beads 'n' bits drawer for some pretty twinklies to thread thereon, because there's no downside to sparkles and shiny things! I glued a couple of my [again - thousands of] hoarded pre-cut embellishments onto the back, all grunged up with increasingly dwindling paintyness that was rapidly drying in the summer heat...

    A few little faceted gems glued on, and a little heart - again made from offcuts and painted - finished things off nicely.

    The inside painting was, well, you can see.....a mermaid. I do love a mermaid! Painting/drawing/making them just makes me happy!

    She's painted with acrylic paints of varying brands.  I didn't plan her or sketch her, I just let the paint find its shape, so she's not perfect but she's fun so I love her.

    Her scales are spotted and splattered metallic shimmer paints and her shading/outline is made using Derwent Inktense pencils and a bit of water. The textured peaks in the basecoat of tissue paper are picked out a little with gilding wax (Treasure Gold) and a little very runny mica shimmer paint.



     Hearts float in bubbles surrounding my mermaid, matching the one she holds close to her chest. They're painted in acrylic again, with Inktense pencil and a white gel pen. 


    Looking at this, I think its meaning is open to interpretation - the fun of painting intuitively! I think I chose subconsciously to represent isolation and the loss of so many souls in this piece. I just painted - the mediums chose the outcome, I swear!

    I really enjoyed this project and it cost me absolutely nothing. I like things even better when they cost me nothing....AND upcycle rubbish!  

    I hope you like this and that maybe you might be inspired to have a rummage about your home and workspace and see what you can reuse and repurpose into something colourful and fun. Save your pennies - we're all feeling the cost of living pinch! Have fund-free fun and celebrate creativity for creativity's sake!

    Thank you for visiting - please say hello and if you like this post maybe have a look through the blog and maybe follow me to see upcoming rambles and colourful distractions! Much love - Shroo xxx

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

An Abstract Foundation


    In pursuing the path back into painting, I'm finding - as I always do - that leaning into the abstract is what calls to me. It's more loose, more free, more visceral. I get to FEEL the paint and the various other mediums that speak to me in the moment, and enjoy the textures and the chance combinations that are never the same twice. 

     When I was a kid I hated finger painting. Obsessed as I was with cleanliness and neatness, the idea of touching paint or chalk threw me into a very literal panic. All these - way too many - years later, I can hardly believe the pure joy it brings me to fold myself into the paints and powders and feel at one with the piece that I create. I find that I dont even care what it looks like - it's abstract and random, a product of emotion rather than planning. It's just....fun. Layer upon layer, I finish when it FEELS right rather than when it looks right.

     Once everything's dried and set solid, I can go back and explore it like a landscape. Invariably these cards and canvases become backgrounds for a more defined piece, but that sense of freedom and artistic adventure seems to determine the outcome, removing that feeling of compulsive and debilitating control that leads to artist's block and leaving me free to just...make....play....work...create. 

     So - get the foundation right, and the whole process becomes more organic and satisfying. Sounds like a life lesson to me...! 

     Anyway - I feel like some company, so here's one of my background-scapes with all its peaks and troughs for you to romp through. It's with it's sisters right now, awaiting its final purpose, but in the meantime it's still a glorious happy place for me to visit and bury myself in its layers and random textures


A Personal 'Thank You' to Her Majesty, Queen Ellizabeth II


    This last week has been a little surreal. The death of Queen Elizabeth II has been a shock to the system - more than I would have anticipated. I think times like these shake the bedrock of life and remind us of all the times when grief has been so overwhelming that the universe stood still and every second felt like trying to breathe underwater.
    Compartmentalising only works in the short term and the loss of an icon, whoever it may be, allows us to open up the proverbial box, break open the floodgates and let grief take hold in a way that may not have been possible at times where loss has been so close, so keenly felt, that the only way to find a path forward was to restrain, control and suppress.

    This week I have mourned the loss of my family, friends and beloved pets, fading memories of sunny days, and a child that might have been. It has been turbulent, overwhelming and ultimately cathartic.
In an earlier year I would have journaled extensively, written my mind and heart clear of tears, but I don't feel that call any more. So I came back to my happy place, my now, my life here and the peace it brings me, and I finally managed a piece of painty paper that sums things up for me. 
    The pain of loss and the hole that's left when a loved one departs this world is all consuming and it's easy to miss the love that's waiting to fill the void, and the simple moments of beauty that raise an involuntary smile. I am grateful that I have love in my life, friends who fill my heart with joy, and a home filled with happiness. In spite of all that has been, what is now is more than I could ever have hoped for, and I thank the universe for all those instants of beauty, those glorious helplessly funny moments where a smile or a laugh lights the darkness. I can heal and begin to unfold the tightly bound memories that have collected dust for so long and reconcile my past with my present - marked not by loss and pain, but by those bright unbidden dazzling moments.

    Thank you, Your Majesty, for this one last gift - this one just for me. Thank you for sharing some peace. I hope that your loved ones left behind can share some small moments of beauty and joy, together, and remember you as a mother, grandmother, friend. I hope that the sparkle that remains for them doesn't come from your jewels but rather from your smile. 
    We are all just people, moving between moments. May your moments be bright, bold and beautiful. Here's to smiling a memory to mark the day. Sparkle, you gorgeous beauties, for you are all a dazzling cascade of amazing moments. Go share some xxxx


Monday, March 7, 2022

A Perspective On Focus

 I had a message from someone on Facebook the other day which read (I paraphrase): 

    "I'm disappointed ... you seem to produce only cat cartoons nowadays. I was hoping to see more of your proper fine art ... but you're not posting any. Why the change of direction? It's a shame to see you give up ... on a promising career. "


    In fairness, it's not the first such message I've had over the last few years and although they always make me prickle at their presumption and insensitivity, I appreciate that someone has taken time to ask - albeit bloody rudely - about my art and to express their opinions about my work. I mean... I still want to throw sharp things, but I can rationalise. Mostly.

    SO - as obviously this is an issue, allow me to address what has hitherto been a largely private matter so that I may explain the changes in my artistic direction.

    A few years ago I had a series of T.I.A.s followed by three significant strokes. Amongst other things, they affected my motor skills, depth perception and overall vision. It took a LOT of hard work and practise (and tears and cake and temper tantrums and cat cuddles) to recover and return to the fine inkwork which has been my heart's true love for over three decades. Once restored, my art propelled me to commissions, international exhibitions and plans for books and a more significant online presence in the art community. Daunting, but a dream come true.

    Then, in 2021, following a hefty dose of covid, I fell ill with worryingly familiar symptoms, culminating in what my specialist refers to as "a significant brain event". I kind of like that terminology as it implies the presence of balloons and streamers, cheesy music and the ubiquitous cake.... the reality's a bit more grim. This time, the main casualty of the brain slug insurgency was - and is -  *drumroll please* my eyesight. I'd hoped that with work it would improve as it had done before, and although it's showing some positive signs, I have a bugger of a time with my ability to focus. It's hard to explain, and long-winded, so here's a visual aid (the vague irony is not lost on me....):

    This is what I SHOULD be able to see:

...sharp, detailed and in focus. I should be able to HOLD this level of focus...HOWEVER - in any given ten second period, my focus switches to and from ANY or all of the following:

    What used to take maybe an hour now takes weeks and plagues me with headaches and nausea. I can manage maybe 15 minutes a day of any quality detail focus. 15 minutes. This work is much smaller in reality than you may think. This cat:

...is just shy of 14cm high. That's a lot of teeny weeny detail in a very small space. I can start to see the allure of digital art, as anything can be enlarged for the purpose of process and then returned to the desired display size for presentation. Maybe that'll be something I look into....

    For now though, the cat cartoons, although they take way longer than they used to, are easier for me to produce. I can still work with colour and that covers a multitude of sins! They're still fun.

    The realisation that - at least for now - I can't pursue the art that I love so deeply has been hard. I admit to a spell of hopelessness, even a slight depression. I've had to let people down, leave projects incomplete, cancel exhibitions and cancel any publication plans. However, now that I have reached a level of acceptance I am able to look into other mediums and styles which I enjoy and try to find a new 'home' for my work so that I can recover my drive and move forward. In the meantime, my cats are my transition and my ongoing therapy. I know they're loved by others as much as me and if they're a disappointment to some people then that's just not where their tastes lie, and I'm ok with that. 

   Anyway - for anyone who reads this, I hope it goes some way to explaining the changes. If you're still grumpy, I'd suggest a nice walk and a hot beverage and some deep breathing... calm it, baby.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Leonard in Oz

    Britain has been blustery. VERY gusty. Like...."whoops, there goes my skin," kind of blowy! It's affected everybody and everything and whatever hasn't been nailed down has been gusted off into the beyond.
     It would appear that a not-nailed-down-Leonard has fallen victim to the winds of doom, sucked up into the sky by the vacuum cleaner of the gods and returned to terra firma far, FAR from home - right on the opposite side of the planet.... Yep - he's been blown to Oz!
     It appears that the foreign exchange programme has an unsuspecting participant! Leonard, and accompanying storm bait, has plummeted to Earth in the land down under; but instead of crackhead Munchkins and delusional wand-wielding bubble addicts in candyfloss attire he's surrounded by enormous jumping shrooz and crazy beasties with murderous intent. No catnip in sight!
     Without a yellow brick road, our Leonardo DiCatrio will have to make his way to civilization and find a way to contact his sisters and their resident Aussie companion, Maxxie - maybe he can help?
 *  *  *  *  *
*Note..... my ongoing scanner-based frustration is building to Apocalyptic levels..... I know it's a good scanner, and I've seen other people manage superb and accurate results, but no matter WHAT I do I just can't get the colours right! They lose all subtlety and come out way more blotchy and garish than the originals. And it just WON'T pick up the metalics when I use them. I am angry at technology....is there anything more pointless? You think if I lose my temper and throw the thing with the full force of my grumpy frustration that it will fly far enough to reach Leonard in Oz? Grrrr..... We may be finding out soon!!!*



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