Archive for November, 2013

A month ago I was in America visiting my great friend and creative inspiration, Anita. I’ve had some short but incredibly powerful adventures with her over the last 18 months, from being slapped and covered in yogurt in naked bathhouses in Korea, to being her “drive-thru bridesmaid” as she walked down the aisle in Las Vegas, to our most recent adventure, tai chi and sand dollar hunting in her new patch on the planet, North Carolina (she followed the man of her dreams from Beijing to Raleigh, Durham!).

As Anita settles into her new groove she’s been dabbling in creating some beautiful art and I was lucky enough to have dinner with her and a tour of her recent paintings with an insight into the technique of intuitive painting. Anita had created some amazing, colourful, evocative, beautiful paintings. They sang and danced with feeling and little peeks of nature and creatures and I was captivated. She also allowed me to peruse her art journal, again each page packed with colour and intrigue; part scrapbook, part wall hanging, this seemed to be a wonderful collision of musing and art itself and appealed to the journal/diary writer in me, as well as the wannabe scrapbooker and closet painter (REALLY!!). As I bade farewell to Anita after that supper, I promised I’d send her some interesting tickets and bits from my next destination (New York) and I immediately wrote a mental note to Google “Intuitive Art workshops in the UK” when I returned home.

So I did both. I sent scraps of tickets and receipts to Anita when I got home, traces of my trip, and I Googled Intuitive Art. Alas, courses in the UK are few and far between. But I found an interesting book, “Brave Intuitive Art”. I read it. Then I ordered two stretch canvases, a box of 10 tubes of economy acrylic paints, and some foam brushes. They arrived this weekend. I got a buzz of excitement. I collected together a couple of jars and a fish shaped dish to mix some paint. And I waited…

It took me three days to be brave. Then, tonight, when my other half had left to go to the gym (a rare quite moment to myself!), I made the leap and ripped off the cellphane covering on the canvases and squirted some colours into my fish dish.

And suddenly I was so excited, and inspired.

I’ve been thinking about the white space on the canvas for a couple days. I’ve been projecting a scene from my memory when with Anita in North Carolina – walking along the beach with a sweep of yellow sand to the right and the tumbling blue sea to my left. So this is what I painted. And then I washed a sky – I read and heard from Anita that the starting point is the wash of the background. From there you add and build and it really takes its form through the layers and peeling and revealing the underneath.

I was using a foam brush, a completely foreign implement, but it was perfect. I let go of any desire for perfection, found my inner child and painted without judgement or criticism. It felt amazing! I then dipped the foam in water and swept across a stormy sky. The watered down paint dribbled and drooled down the canvas making beautiful lines like tears down the picture. I swept across with a clean brush and it revealed white streaks beneath the paint. It just got better and more interesting and more fun.

I was ready to leave that canvas for now and lay in out to dry, I’d suddenly been struck with inspiration for the next canvas and had to get cracking.

So I’m off to Australia in January and I’ve never been before. I’m looking forward to it a ridiculous amount and have so many expectations and dreams about what it will be like. So I thought it would be really fun to paint my current idea of “Australia”. Reds, browns, oranges. Rocks, mountains, roots. And a blazing sun scorching down.

And before I knew it, the doorbell rang. He was back from the gym. I had finished my brave intuitive painting just in time and I felt elated! I can’t wait to do the next step and start layering and building on my ideas.

So here are my paintings so far. They are just the start. I’m hoping they’ll look better by the end, but for now I’m revelling in the experience and the feeling of being swept up in a waft of inspiration. At the moment I am naming them “Kure beach” and “Australia” but that may change with time. I’m going with the flow, and it’s all thanks to Anita!





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Every day I cycle to and from work. It takes around 15 minutes each way and it provides the perfect time slot to either pysch myself up into “work mode” or decompress from my day in the office. I have my regular route, at this time of year cruising through piles of leaves, dodging lazy pedestrians or random pot holes, as the Oxford streets break apart, and as I ride I pull my collar up and bobble hat down to prevent the creep of the cold wind. I am alert, I have to be with buses and tourists littering my path, but it’s also a time when interesting thoughts drift through my mind. So today I decided to start a new series on my blog – Ponderings from the Pedal – to document these thoughts.

Today two thoughts crept in.

One, my new discovery-slash-momentary-obsession with Coconut Water. Now I recently discovered Coconut Water, the kind you find in a carton in Tesco. Sure, I’ve had it au naturel when in Thailand or Sri Lanka, and I kinda liked it then – a bit hit and miss as to whether I’d select it over a banana smoothie, but certainly at least once in each country for the novelty factor of having such an exotic receptacle. But this time I discovered it after my first ever visit to “Hot Yoga” – I’m in the middle of a two week trial right now – more on this later – and immediately after my first 90 minutes I was exhausted, euphoric and delirious and staggered into tescos and found myself piling my basket high with organic vegetables, wholemeal pasta and… coconut water. It was like I was on auto-pilot, almost gawping in amazement as i watched myself walk down the aisles selecting the healthiest items in the shop.

Then I got home and drank the stuff. And it is THE most delicious, mouth-watering and thirst quenching drink I have ever tasted. And I keep buying it and drinking it. And now I think about it when cycling home from work and wanting to drink it.

Weird. But good for you. I think. So good.

Two, Zombies. Zombies regularly enter our living room. Not entirely my idea, but the last time was earlier this week when we decided to watch World War Z (after having read the book, which was fantastic). The film is really good, nothing like the book but really entertaining and it must have been this that planted my second thought. Chain mail. Why don’t people in zombie movies wear chain mail to protect themselves? Zombie teeth would break surely? You could move in it, function pretty normally, and it would even look pretty good. OK you’d have vulnerable eye areas, but you could team it with a snowboard mask.

I can’t believe no one has ever thought of this. Maybe they have. I’m not going to Google it in case they have and I’ll be disappointed I wasn’t the first person to think of this.

So some good thoughts today, exorcised accordingly.

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Four thirty

It’s not every day I’m up at four thirty. The thought last night was quite horrific, buy maybe my circadian rhythms are working for me as right now I feel pretty good.
I’m on my way t o London those morning, having to be at my desinaction by 7, hence the early start. And I’m loving the four thirty. It’s this secret place in time; too late for student revellers, too early for the early risers. There are only a few lonely souls shuffling the streets at this time, other than that I pretty much have the place to myself.
Even the traffic lights are sleeping. With their eyes open at least, stuck on a permanent green in one direction. It’s been a while since a car passed…
The only sounds are the gentle drips as the night rain slowly drains away, an occasional twitter from a confused bird and every now and then a background hum. A far off train. Some people really do commute at this time, it seems.
There are a few lights on in houses I pass – not many, but a few. I guess why… Making toast after a night out, ending the night shift or starting the day, sleeping with the light on…?
It’s beautiful, it’s tranquil, and for a short short time it’s all mine.
Now it’s five am and the cars are more frequent, ripping up the peace. A few cyclists and some new shadows at my bus stop. I’ve rapidly transistioned into the bonafide morning now. It’s over. And so the day begins…


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