My entry in response to last week’s prompt ‘stairs’ with an old photo from 2012 for MMPC#160 (this is looking down on the staircase at New Art Exchange, Nottingham, UK).


Task It Tuesday (To Do this week!)

Click here to visit this week’s challenge post and Inlinkz  (clicking the badge below takes you to the homepage)

badge for the Task it Tuesday chllenge hosted at bloggiesta dot com, click the image to visit this week's challenge post. The badge image shows the background as a piece of lined paper with a vertical pale red line for the margin, the words 'Task it Tuesday are drawn large in grey aligned to the left side margin and one word per four lines; there is a picture showing a diagonally placed yellow pencil and a two-tone pink eraser in the page space toward the right of the image; along the top line to the right side in small text are the words 'Created by the Geeky Blogger' and along the bottom line to the left, also in small red text, are the words 'Hosted by Bloggiesta'.

It still looks like it’ll take forever to get my master list tasks ticked off. I’m not even looking at it this week!

Progress on last week’s to-do list:

Of course there’s always more washing-up…!

I’m still waiting to have my phone and new garden gadget in hand, so I’ll hopefully be busy later this week getting to grips with those, as my feet wouldn’t carry me far enough to go collect them from the store and I need less confidence in my abilities, not more. I should have ordered them for delivery not collection!

I paid one of my urgent bills – just waiting for the red letter and enough cash in the bank on the other; I topped up my pre-payment electric account (the meter was so low it was off by then, but not for long) and I grabbed some food and coffee shopping enough to last until I can complete my online grocery order. As I have to get to the store anyway and I usually have plenty of store cupboard type foods at home, online grocery shopping can be delayed a few days, next week or so . My freezer’s looking a bit bare but it contains bread and vegetables enough and there’s even an ice lolly or two from last summer and some ice cream that’s hopefully still good since Xmas! (yes i know they say use within 3 months but I bet it doesn’t give me a bad tummy, if it does I’ll know better next time and will throw it out before a second helping!)

The A to Z reflections post due anytime between Monday 7th and 18th May is taking a raincheck while we’ve been having a heatwave here and I’m still reeling from my little walk out last Thursday. I barely picked up a paintbrush or pen in the meantime. I’m still a bit behind with my reading list from the April A to Z blogging challenge too. The road trip doesn’t start until 23rd May, but I hope to cover plenty more ground before that starts.

I posted elsewhere  for milae’s Recycled Book Reading Challenge just prior to drafting this so as not to need to add it to the list of ToDo having missed posting my response. I have an ongoing problem with my brain assuming I have already done the thing that I add to my list just because I listed it! Obviously I forget to look at my lists! I have little else to put in my spare pocket diary so entering my blog posting schedule there seems a better idea. My pocket diary happens to have made itself invisible to my eyes having had it close to hand last week! Neuro problems. Aye!

I joined in at Joy’s British Isles Friday event (#BriFri)but in doing so completely missed Skywatch Friday even though I’d taken pics to post– so postponing to add them this Friday instead in a  catch-up. I don’t like taking part while I might not get round seeing others in the link-up enough. I also managed to post a photo for MMPC#158.

#May-be-A-B is on track, taking a day off posting yesterday got me ahead by a day and I’ll set to work on getting further ahead by scheduling some posts.

Priority Tasks this week:

  1. Remember to add this post to inLinkz as I forgot to do that last week too!
  2. Reading those A to Z post series I’m still catching up with. I read at least 24 or more complete series so far. Most are short or short-ish posts. I’ve enjoyed it, but it’s frazzling. Having posts to write on the day reduced my reading time, but I’m not sure I could extend my reading capacity by not writing posts, to be honest.
  3. FRIDAY! Join in with Joy’s British Isles  Friday event and Skywatch Friday.
  4. #May-be-A-B … more alphabetical blogging to keep on track
  5. more Creative writing to join in with blogging neighbour Sarah C’s prompts ( posted for part A so far and have some bitty drafts and vague ideas to work with)
  6. more Time with art: drawing, painting, doodling, looking at art history, definitely more than I have these last few days.
  7. home and garden spring cleaning has to start soon if only I can stay on my feet more! (not being able to sit at a desk or table and not being able to stand for long are really hindering progress in all areas!)
  8. Come up with a mundane photo as response for MMPC#159 prompt at KO‘s.
  9. It’s M.E.Awareness Day on 12th May, so it’d be a challenge to post something to mark the occasion and to be able to do so without embarassing myself further. I might give it a whirl.
  10. Eat well and get plenty sleep and rest! Remember to take my CoQ10 with my food!

I tend to post more here and there than is on my list, if and when I can, and while they might enter my posting calendar, they’re not fixtures and my list here doesn’t need bogging down with them. I might just go back to playing Sim City Build It more instead, but my brain got too tired of it and needed a break, and I got blogging again instead.

Finally, my thinking of just ONE thing to simplify my life this week? All the spare fuses seem to have been used and the last of my working lamps hasn’t sprung to life with a new bulb, so its’ problem is either the fuse in the plug or it’s old age, as it must be more than ten years old by now. All the other lamps and all the light fittings except one need a replacement bulb so as well as replacing them, extra spare bulbs and fuses would be a very good idea. Not being limited to torchlight in all but one room of my home would definitely help simplify things! So would a butler, to reach high and change the bulbs, but I can’t afford one just yet 😉

May 2018 MLA

MLA challenge hosted by VDonovan at Coolbeans4

This month I’m looking forward to things very much alike last month:

  1. Remembrance of my Dad (and continuing remembrance of my mum).
  2. Outdoor attempts: small tasks in the garden. Obtaining compost, not achieved yet from previous MLA [ideas]. Again!
  3. Pressing my neighbour’s landlord to fix the boundary fence before it completely falls over. I need to be able to use my garden! I completely neglected to tackle this.
  4. Skywatching more often than not even a daily snap and maybe from further afield at least more than once. Further afield so far was just across the road from my home – but I did take daily pics (other than a couple of days without a camera and making notes in the meantime until I sorted old tech).
  5. Shopping for my b-day treats – a book or two or a few. I have my wish-list ready, but no rush just now. Yes, I still need to do this too.
  6. Cooking and food! Salads with warmer weather! Attempts to gain increased natural enzyme production less artificially and increasing calorific intake. Eating lots of cake and crisps and snacks wasn’t quite what I meant but it does add calories. I ate better during April but May dietary improvements would be good.
  7. My 37th month of posting with WordPress. More alphabetical blogging no less (#May-be-A-B) and more reading A to Z bloggers.
  8. More time doing (and looking at) arty things.
  9. Listening to music some more, air my lungs more, bang about or rattle along and enjoy moving around here and there. Some Spring cleaning. Hopefully.
  10. Getting out to spend time with my kids and grandkids. I do hope so!

TBR – Ten more Blogs from the A to Z Challenge

I fell a little behind with blog-hopping toward the end of this week while having wi-fi issues, but hopefully will catch up again soon enough. I’ve found my round-up list of 50 useful in keeping up with visiting better, without getting lost in the Reader or distracted by other things in my email notifications – although I am definitely missing some of my regular reading visits!

Anyway, I’m adding some new blogs I’ve had a quick visit to and fancy reading more at, as a To Be Read list, for next week, starting as soon as I’m up to date with other reading:

  1.      [= ongoing fiction]
  2.       [quite long posts, miscellaneous]
  3.    [quite quick reads, textile art images]
  4.     [=travels in Israel]
  5.   [=tongue twisters]
  6.      [=medieval names]
  7.     [= miscellaneous]
  8.        [=Mother Goose nursery rhymes ]
  9.    [=health]
  10.  [=author’s own characters]

There are so very many blogs in this challenge I’m sure it’s not humanly possible to read all of them – and I’m not an avid fiction reader, so in the main I’m avoiding those types of postings, although I will make the effort to see a few more from that category once I’ve had a good rest.

Az Values and Vanities

letter V badge for April 2018's A to Z Challenge; click image to visit the A to Z Challenge dot com websiteStill Life with a Twist ~V~

Victorious I emerged from the vastitude of my storage area with a sketchy painting from 26 years ago that I wanted to show this month. (I’m still vexing for my paints etc!) I’d been tasked (as an art student) to arrange and paint a collection of objects that held significant personal value at that time. It’s not a well-finished painting and is the most complex ‘still life’ I’ve ever attempted. Here’s a couple of close-up sections first (I’ll need to return to visual describing for alt text for these images):

The section below shows my Bible, I’d bought that myself when I was eleven, either with gifted money from my Nan or with the book voucher I’d won as a prize for attainment in English lessons at school. I’m still trying to remember that detail, maybe I combined both £5 amounts – that was a lot of money in those days and I’m fairly sure my Bible was quite expensive. I wonder now what were the two other books in my painting and why were they there? And do I still have my C-leaf pendant?

The VODKA bottle made it into the picture as an empty bottle that I retained after it was gifted me by a special friend at my 21st birthday celebration. I’m not sure I still have it. My guitar was also a gift for my 21st birthday from my parents, they’d visited me here in Nottingham and took me to the city to choose it.

Apologies for poor quality photography, I’m struggling for areas with enough light where I can get this large painting flat! Here’s the whole shaboodle:

At the very back of the painting is a brass teapot ornament that I dug out of my very first garden after moving from my flat to my first house – probably my very first ‘found object’. At the very front left is one my son’s first walking shoes, they squeaked when pressure was applied to the soles to encourage walking – he’d been pulling himself up and standing for ages but couldn’t walk until eighteen months old, I dunno if the shoes helped, but at least he learnt to walk! The whole arrangement is on a blanket I still have from childhood, more faded and worn now than then, as am I.

That’s a lot about me, so there went my vanity excercise… I have nothing new I want to show today around remembering my Mum, other than this photo of a plaque with VERSE I bought as a gift for her while I was quite young – I was surprised to find she still had it. (I placed it on one of her cushions, it’s not wallpaper.)

Two more female painters have vied for my attention in my virtual explorations today (they’re both French):

  • Suzanne VALADON (1865 or 1867- 1938, I’m not sure why there’s a discrepancy with her date of birth, intriguing). Valadon was painting in Paris around the time of French Impressionism and was  associated with Degas and others. There’s something vaguely ‘Van Gogh’ about her style in the still life paintings I’ve seen so far.
  • Anne VALLAYER-COSTER (1591-1632) was a very skillful painter, one of only four women to have entered the Royal Academie de Peinture et Sculpture before 1800 (or thereabouts). She’d entered two still-life paintings for exhibit in 1771 and was subsequently unanimously elected by the academics who saw her work. Perhaps her work would be an example of VIRTUOSO still-life, but some of her pieces definitely appear to qualify as VANITAS works.

VANITAS still-life paintings are “a collection of objects to remind the spectator of the transience and uncertainty of mortal life” and “speak an immediate universal language” (Penguin Dictionary of Art and Artists). They often have a  moral or religious context with symbolic or emblematic visualisation and are sometimes also devotional. The name apparently derives from Eccliastes (i:2), ‘Vanitas Vanitatum…’ and now I have a vested interest to pick up my Bible and read that chapter and verse, so perhaps will.

I was also reading a little on the traditions of Varnishing Day, when painters retouched their paintings before exhibition opening, often competitively when they saw each others work to be displayed. Turner is said to have habitually only half-finished his paintings, completing them only on Varnishing Day. The now customary VERNISSAGE apparently grew from that earlier tradition, that being the Private View, the preview for invited guests.

Back to VALUE – in technical terms, this usually refers to tonal value, as gradation of monochromatic tone to suggest darkness and light. Colour values in the pictorial space often require creative license to be applied to add contrast to or emphasise areas with similar tonal values. Tip: When observing objects for still life drawing or painting, looking through squinted half-closed eyes helps to reduce the areas of colour to reveal visible tonal contrasts.

Briefly, before closing and veering slightly off-topic perhaps, VERISMO was an Italian form of Realism preceding Impressionism – I haven’t yet found any still life examples but wonder there must be some (it also has a musical meaning in operatic terms). VORTICISM was a British art movement around 1914 that fascinates me for the abstract compositions, similar to Futurism and Cubism, some few examples of which might appear to relate to objects.

Finally, VEHICLE is a word sometimes used in place of medium when discussing VISUAL arts and so far, the A to Z Challenge has been a fine vehicle for returning to learning more about art, and practising a little once more. [909!]


Az Unsettled Undertakings

letter U badge for the A to Z Challenge; click the image too visit the A to Z challenge dot com website

Still Life with a Twist ~U~

Today, I’m  bringing not ‘tone and texture’ results, as I’m saving those for another days’ post. Instead and in lieu of (uh-huh, with my best-naturally-lit drawing room also being my lav…) I’ll be usurping this space with some line excercising, while I play with ideas around my Still Life project…

…but before those …

I’ve added digital text to my photo of a 2012 drawing of mine, originally made as a design element for the cover page of my ‘career plan’ made during work-related activity training, hereby updated, especially for ‘U’.

The following photo shows another element of that coverpage design, again, untitled…

… I’m undecided if this drawing is unfinished or not, as at the time it was deliberately left as is.

I’ve been wrestling with my conscience over making art for art’s sake and drawings for the sake of drawing. However I’ve arrived at the conclusion that while I continue to practise drawing, ie. next month and beyond, I could do so with the intention of collecting my loose-leaf stuff together and assembling it as a memory book or personal journal. I don’t usually do artistic ‘journalling’ although I admire those whose work I see online – and mine probably won’t turn out anything alike.

Those pics (above) were ‘old’ … what’s new for ‘U’?

Ok, you can barely see the photo (shown right)… one of my drawings from timed excercises. I got that far in seven minutes – and should have got further.

I could have worked more on this drawing but decided to leave it as is, because I see it’s potential as something to complete another time for that memory book.

Similarly, I’ve left most of my timed excercises for their potential repurposing, wondering I can colour them, tear them up, make them somehow else – anything other than this one significant picture I’m reaching for.

The next two examples show the same three-minute excercise repeated, first using my dominant hand, then my non-dominant hand…

3 minute drawing with dominant hand 24/04/2018
3 minute drawing with non-dominant hand, 24/04/2018









I definitely need more practise to get my drawing speeds up. Although there’s really no need to rush.

As an art student we had to fill large sheets of paper with whole images sketched in as little as two, three or five minutes. That was a very long time ago though, and I have to keep reminding myself that the unwanted devil of a fine art tutor on my left shoulder voicing jibes and prodding me to remember formal conventions is an academic trapping and unnecessary to listen to in the context of my project here. I’m not trying to make a portfolio or accomplish a set of standard criteria.

I’ve found myself hankering after making abstract versions too during these excercises. The following non-dominant hand drawing was one of my favourites for potential abstract play (at a later date of course, needing to keep some UNITY to my theme).

3 minute drawing with non-dominant hand, 23/04/2018

I’m reaching the point of ultimatums as we near the challenge completion date. Do I need a frame for a watercolour or am I using acrylic and painting a canvas? I still need to UNEARTH paints  – or should I dash out and buy more?! I really need to make a start with UNDERPAINTING if I opt for an acrylic painting on canvas. Am I wasting time by drawing when I really want to be painting? (No, I don’t think so, observational excercises are helpful to the process, I just mustn’t use up all my time and energy with them). Am I really waiting in the hope of getting flowers and anything else I convince myself I really NEED? Have I even decided my final selection of objects?

Just as I have a fine art tutor uttering in one ear, in the other I hear my mother whenever I think of shopping for flowers and art materials for this project. She’s there reminding me of the uneconomic-ness of buying flowers for the sake of sentiment and art – and the uselessness of art full stop. She worried about us ‘wasting money’ on flowers to take to her grave, but she knew we would want to. As I live over a hundred miles away I’m easily excused the luxury of keeping flowers at home when I buy any in remembrance of my Mum and she preferred it that way too. She was a very unselfish lady.

ULTIMATELY, I’ll simply show this final example from the past, as another technique I’ll perhaps try again while playing with ‘Still Life’. I enjoy the effects on the underside of drawings made with marker pen – ideally that would require drawing a mirror image on the upper side of the paper, but might not be necessary…

Finally, a tip I was given (as an adult learner from a practising fine artist/tutor rather than ever learning something so USEFUL from a full-time academic fine art tutor) and really must remember whilst drawing: always turn your drawing round and look at it while it’s UPSIDE-DOWN to check accuracy of things like proportions and perspective.

Any drawing or painting tips you’d like to share? What’s your favourite memory around art-making? If you’re doing the A to Z challenge, or any other project over time, do you have a devil and an angel on each shoulder and what are they telling you?