In for a penny, in for a pound…

watercolour-paintswatercolour-setwatercolour-pad

In for a penny, in for a pound! Well, nearer £20 actually, all in all, but it’s a good investment for my creative/ artistic future – I now have new watercolour paints, a couple of new brushes and some watercolour paper, and I’m determined one way or another to make a start of some sort today…

Partly what holds me back is the emotional insecurity of uncertainty – what if I’ve completely lost my touch? What if I’ve forgotten altogether how to paint? What if my imagination fails me and I look at the blank page in front of me and don’t know where the hell to start? What if I do make a start, then mess it all up? What if I fail…?

But logically I know that whatever I’ve forgotten, I’ll remember eventually. I know inevitably I’m going to be really rusty, and clumsy, and my painting is likely to be clunky and heavy-handed rather than loose and flowing to begin with. Thirty-six years is a long time in which not to have lifted a paintbrush – and I have to remember that whatever skill I may have had while I was at school developed only after a lot of practice…

I know as usual I expect far too much of myself, but I also know that if I don’t just strike while the iron’s hot and give it a go, I’ll be forever wondering what might have been if only I’d found the courage to try… 🙂

Daily Prompt: Prickle

old-water-colour-paints

These are my old watercolour paints from school – well, what’s survived of them, anyway! I haven’t actually done any watercolour painting since 20th May 1981, and the reason I can be so confident about the date is because that was the day I sat my Higher Art practical exam, just before I left school… I found the old exam paper with my paints 🙂

old-exam-paper

I never intended to give up painting altogether, because although I wasn’t ever great at it I really enjoyed it, but after leaving school I worked for a while, then got married and had a baby – actually three babies, one after the other – and somehow there never seemed to be time to paint. I carried on tentatively drawing (mainly simple pencil sketches) for a while, then that too dwindled away to nothing.

Over the years I have occasionally picked up my drawing pencil every now and again, but never my paintbrush. In fact, although I still have my paints I have no idea where my brushes even went, or my watercolour paper for that matter? There were more tubes of paint initially, but sadly after close inspection these nine were all that were salvagable – mind you after 36 years of total neglect it should probably be more surprising to me that any are still usable!

Recently I’ve been feeling the stirrings of creative curiosity again though – that prickling sensation of anticipation that comes with a renewed desire to have another go, just to see how it feels after so long to wield a wet paintbrush on heavy paper, feel the flowing undulations of diluted colour spreading out and tinting the pristine page beneath. I think that’s why I like using watercolours so much – there’s a delicate softness of touch to it, a gentle fluidity that resonates with me emotionally.

My mum was an art teacher before she got married, and she always used to paint with oil paints, and my eldest daughter moved on from the bright acrylics of her teens to the pastels she uses now. But my favourite medium was always watercolour paints – whatever else I experimented with along the way I always came back to watercolours. And now here I am at 53, itching to pick up where I left off 36 years ago.

The thing is, starting painting again requires an initial outlay – fresh paints, and replacement brushes and paper. Nothing too fancy, I don’t need to equip an entire studio, just get the bare minimum to give it a try. But if I’m actually going to do this then I need to commit to starting somewhere, so I guess there’s no harm in picking up a few basic supplies, and taking it from there – how exciting…! 🙂

Daily Prompt: Prickle   

 

Light Pollution 1: Meteor Shower 0

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Well, at least we tried! Last night with an almost clear sky, my husband and I ventured out to try to see if we could see anything of the Perseid Meteor Shower – the night before had been far too cloudy, but last night seemed to provide far more favourable weather conditions, so we decided to give it a go.

However, having walked to the darkest place close by our home, we soon realised that even in the middle of an open green park space as far away from lights and buildings as possible and with minimal cloud cover, here in London there’s still way too much light pollution around to see much of the night sky with the naked eye, no matter where you are.

We could see the waning moon lying low on the horizon, and a sparse few stars – but only the absolute brightest dotted here and there, and not enough of them to make out any constellation patterns to help get our bearings. And standing together in the ‘dark’ of the city night we understood it was always going to be far too light, and however long we stayed outside we were unlikely to see anything in the way of a meteor shower.

We saw several planes with their winking lights – not that out-of-place as we live under a flight path – and a surprise firework or two in the distance, and one late-night dog-walker in a high-vis vest, but nothing else of any note during the hour or so we were outside. The air was beautifully still and calm, refreshing and energising, and it was fun to be trying something different, even though we were sadly unsuccessful in our quest.

So after a while we just called it a day and gave up – but at least we tried!

PS I took a few street shots, just because everything looks different at night – empty, silent, still. And lit up like a Christmas tree…  🙂

Daily Prompt: Jiffy

Random disjointed thoughts from me today for today’s Daily Prompt word…

For some inexplicable reason it made me think first of an old ad for Jiffy condoms that ran with the not-so-subtle play-on-words strapline, ‘Real men come in a Jiffy’. And then going off on a bit of a tangent I also thought immediately afterwards of the way some men (well around here, anyway) have in the past referred to their infertile friends as being a bit of a ‘Jaffa’ – as in a seedless Jaffa orange…

OK, I’m definitely stopping there before my tangental brain takes me any further off-track! 🙂

Playing about with f-stops

I stuck my camera on my mini tripod this enjoyably lazy Sunday morning and played about with shooting close-up with different f-stops – these images were taken at f2, f4, f8 and f16 respectively…

f2-flowerf4-flowerf8-flowerf16-flower

Personally I find the f16 a bit too flat, and the f2 a bit too fuzzy – but for focusing specifically on these close-up flower heads with this particular lens, I find between f4 and f8 gives the best result for me.

But when I try to capture more of the bunch in focus, I find between f8 and f16 looks best…

f8-flowersf16-flowers

I like to play about like this, experimenting with taking multiple images that really don’t matter – the idea being that when I find myself in a situation where I need to know what works best for a particular subject, I don’t have to mess about wasting time fiddling about too much with settings and risking mistakes when it matters most 🙂

Every Cloud has a Silver Lining…

cloud-cover

Although my husband and I had hoped to go out locally to try to see the Perseid meteor shower last night, even by 8pm (see above pic) a blanket of cloud cover was coming in – and by 11pm we couldn’t even see the moon never mind any potential meteor shower, so in the end we didn’t venture out after all.

However, our disappointment was mitigated by having spent our evening watching the Athletics World Championships (held only about a mile away in Stratford) live on TV – GB distance runner Mo Farah won a Silver medal in the men’s 5000m, as did the GB women’s 4x100m relay, and to cap it all the GB men’s 4x100m relay won Gold!

So not quite the evening of potential star-gazing we had planned, but I guess it’s true that every cloud has a silver lining – or maybe even two silvers and a gold… 🙂

Daily Prompt: Organise

I’m actually quite an organised person, in an abstract kind of way. I’m sometimes considered a bit untidy and laissez-faire by some standards, but I generally know where all my stuff is and can usually locate it (whatever ‘it’ is!) pretty quickly, without any difficulty.

My personal filing system consists of a series of multicoloured plastic folders held upright in a plastic filing tub or two. They’re not filed alphabetically but organically, in order of logical accessibility, and with those I use most often to the front. For example I file my leftover Euros and US dollars with my passport, until the next time I need them. But my passport also lives in the same file as my birth certificate, National Insurance card, and National Health card, right at the back.

I know some people who keep everything lined up leaf by leaf in single file with almost military precision from A-Z (without deviation) in a traditional filing cabinet, and I have great respect for such uber-organisation but that level of regimentation is just not for me. To be honest I don’t think it really matters how we choose to file all our important papers, as long as we have a system that (a) works, and (b) works for us – after all, it’s our stuff!

Because I also know other people who may appear neat-freak organised on the surface because everything in their home looks neat and tidy externally, but open their carefully closed drawers or cupboards and myriad papers of all shapes and sizes are just crammed in hap-hazard all over the place in no apparent order – but to me that’s neither tidy nor organised, that’s just creating a burying-your-head-in-the-sand facade that fools no-one, least of all yourself… 🙂

Daily Prompt: Organise