The Beach Hut Lady

I have finished the beach hut.

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My friend Margaret came the other day and helped with the high bits. Other friends have also helped me make furniture, paint windows and do the stripey bits. I do sections, stop when my hands hurt too badly, and begin the next day again.

This is the room I always wanted, but I didn’t have the time, the freedom,the confidence or the separation from my small child I needed to create it.

There were no gardens in the place we escaped to!!

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Its lovely. And its mine.  ( ours!!) Now I’m going to make Art in it. The leftover teaching supplies I no longer need are gone, the rest are boxed up in the shed with wonky labels on . The things I want to use in the community art groups get slung in the wheeley bags my lovely group help pull about and there are no to do lists left…I’m on the home front…’

As the final brush strokes were completed there was a call from over the fence.

That lady I told you about in the gala day blog, the one who had spoken to me at her charity lifeboat stall last week.. she was there calling over the sunflowers…..

‘I wondered if you would like my collection of beach hut memorabilia?’ she said.

Ermmm……

‘I  love your house, you were really nice and you said I could take photos of your house. ‘The beach hut girl’ ..I tried to look you up, but I decided to just come by instead. The beach hut I was going to have, never materialised and these things should go somewhere to someone  who will appreciate them…’…

Bunting, tapestry, tins and wooden huts….

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So they did.. they went straight into the newly completed perfectly ready beach hut studio. They fitted perfectly. Like they were made for it.

Cool huh…!!

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It was a lovely and generous surprise. She will of course become a friend. She has to! We Seem to collect cool people around here. Holiday makers and stall holders, artists and neighbours… The melting pot of open, friendly, creative people, willing to share.. in whatever way that will be..As time has gone by, and life has become more distilled.. the people we spend time with, however fleetingly, become more and more important, and valued. I liked her immediately because this lady wore her huge heart on her sleeve and valued friendship over profit. That’s who we want in our corner and in our beach huts.

A few Summer visitors

There is still magic out there . There are still undiscovered treasures. Friendships and connections waiting to grow and flourish if we look under the rocks and between the  lines… and not always who we imagine. It’s fun,  wondering who might pop up and surprise you. Age, country, job, it isn’t important. Leave your armour at the door and your heart open….

And I might never have known so many amazing people.  I might never have got here to our forever home. The studio might never have built.. the friendships never seeded…

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A couple of years ago something happened which could have blown the whole thing out the water.. Nobody knows when these things will strike… mine struck when my cat knocked over all my tablets…

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A combination of stupidity and time short muminess meant not checking what was now in the tub of tablets, I then scooped up in haste…
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I took what I thought was the usual combination and ended up in an ambulance. The mix of meds was not good for me, and I had a really bad reaction .

I was really unwell and it could have been the end of me. I called my best friend. Devastated, I told her the saddest thing I felt was that I had lived for sooooooooo many years already but that I  hadn’t even started to live yet. I had so much more to do. I realised, that if life was snatched now, I wouldn’t be ready. I had things to do and a child to love.

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As I wondered what damage the medication was silently and corrosively doing, I thought of the krypton factor which my life had recently become, the massive mountain we had literally just climbed off, and the dreams I still hadn’t un-boxed.  The reasons I still had to get out of that hospital in one piece.. We had come such a long way and I was not giving up . How anyone could intentionally inhale a box of paracetamol was completely beyond me……..Image result for dont give up

 

It was a close call and a reminder of how fragile life can be. I was dangerously allergic to the combination, and I had half an hour to fix it……

From that moment on.. I knew that if I was ok, I would take the cards dealt with my health and double what was possible to do in my life.

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Not many people knew that story at the time.

I felt a bit stupid….. 

Image result for onwards and upwardsIf it had worked out differently, Nothing that followed would have ever begun. Our friends, our home, and our beautiful, creative journey.

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We are all fallible, and stupid sometimes. We all make mistakes. Some worse than others. Some thankfully, enable the gratitude we feel to be sweeter and more poignant. And the colours we paint to be that little bit brighter..

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Thank you to the beach hut lady, thank you to my daughter who called the ambulance that day, and thank you in advance for the strange and wonderful life we made.

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Much of our dulling down comes from the belief that other people’s perception of us is true. It can be a choice to believe otherwise. Everyone messes up. Humans need to.  Learning from what happens next is to value ourselves a bit more. Give yourself a break. If we can still believe in a sprinkling of magic to chase the past away, who knows who might be leaning over your fence soon, and what they might bring with them.. and what colour you’ll ultimately decide your fence will become.

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Here at Skye Blue House ..We choose rainbow.xx

Image result for heartLove and hugs, Liz xx

You can’t please them all…

As we spent the day painting pebbles for a charity day in St abbs recently, I wandered around chatting to the fellow stall holders  One fabulous lady whom I bought a few beachy bits from, said she had waited years for a beach hut , but it went to her relative and so she was selling her stuff for charity, the lifeboat here in the village., …. Guess who was happy to give the seaside paraphenallia a good home !!!

I got our things and she asked me if she could photograph my garden. She had walked past a few times. she knew it was mine she said  … It had to be !! I was touched and thankful. It was of course, really complimentary. And they were a lovely family. They are in the gang..

Another woman walked up to the stall. I had seen her about in the village.. I knew that perhaps we had a similar taste in planting as both our gardens have thrived in the summer heat. I complimented this lady on her colourful skirt and top saying she looked nice and bright.. Imagine.. the surprise when the reply was.. Well I wish I could say the same about your house.. Ohh!! well, ‘That’s me told…….’. ‘Yes, she said,….. ‘I don’t like your house !!’

OOOOOOOOKAAAAAAY …

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Ok.

It isn’t what everyone has but really? Would you say it out loud!! Image result for say it out loud

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How easy would it be to wipe out that earlier lady’s comment? Or all those other nice comments we hear from people all the time? All the photos we get asked if people can take.. or the joy we can see when people see the achievement , just because of that ONE negative perspective?

BUT we do..

 

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We all do. All the time. The tiny tiny bad bit becomes all we think about in the big scheme of things and it is madness. ( But normal!) We are so much more than the jealous, or sad, or lonely person who chooses to voice their feelings in that way and we happen to get in the way at that  moment, on that day…

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The other 67843 lovely comments are still true.. REALLY. !!! And at the end of the day.. Do I like my garden? Yes.. Does the kid growing up in it feel happy in it .. YES.. !!

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Well then.

Having gone through a long term situation where there was a LOT of negativity.. I try to remember how fleeting these random commentaries are.

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The opinion of those we love.. yes, to a point.. but mostly if we are looking in the mirror and the person staring back is ok with the stuff we are doing/thinking/being… it’s probably enough..Image result for i like me more

Because I just don’t want to be anyone else.. And neither should you . All things which are different  create a reaction..If nobody is harmed, affected or comprimised by your flourishing.. carry on….Be your own reference.

Image result for snails in shellIf you get negative comments….Don’t go back in your shell… Decorate it !!

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Love Liz xx

A Quiet wee village….

Our Little village had visitors in the last week.. Usually so calm and unassuming, contemplative and picturesque.. she has a patient and possibly weary tolerance of film and tv, having practiced her best side many times..

 

As the week wore on.. the house on the hill was transformed day by day by black watery paint making it look mildewy and spookier , and boarded up rotten windows, ivy attached by fairies and ‘dead’ plant props giving an atmosphere of an abandoned old house with a story to tell.

 

Maybe next time they should return in winter,  when this village holds her own in the beauty stakes and braves the elements in a hardy fashion, much like its residents;

 

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If in doubt grab a dog!!

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Which is in fact what the absolutely lovely film crew did.

We had already had an idea of the film from letters that had gone out, asking locals if it would be ok to park in their road. After ( not particularly tricky… detective work) ..

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37393476_10156621665396869_5400133729257521152_nAnd just to prove it !!! 

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The little block became home to a convoy of lorries and tech guys, all of whom told me about their dogs back home, and how much they missed them, as Skye climbed into their vans.. She sat on the camera, barked when they did a take because someone said hello.. And nobody minded. And she was cuddled by everyone.IMG_7677

Skye isn’t very well just now, so it was a special kinda thing for us.

So, from here in St Abbs, to the folk who came that day..

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You were polite, friendly, courteous and helpful, and welcome back any time. It was a pleasure to meet you and glimpse a few scenes..

It was a little too quiet today.. Maybe you could squeeze a dog bed into the premier? xx

 

Thanks from us in St Abbs!

Liz xx37592857_10156623873576869_3073169767394181120_n(1)

 

Homes and Gardens

I believe if you are supposed to be/do/get somewhere.. you will.. if you put in the effort and get out of your own way. ..Sometimes things are worth waiting for..

Somehow the more we stare at something directly, the less likely it is to move.. or boil or in fact perform.. Life is what happens in the margins of your essay.. pay closer attention to your doodles..

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And sometimes you have to make, remake and make something over and over again. You thought it was done and it breaks, or you have to walk away or it burns down ( a friend had this happen recently… a terrible ordeal, but she has told me a little re- modelling isn’t a bad thing, or your dream disappears, or it gets given to a passing traveller ( yes my first caravan literally was sold without my knowing for £100 with all my grandparent’s stuff inside) … ( wierdly as I have written this.. twice I’ve lost all the content and had to re- write…. )

But you start again. …

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I could write an entire blog on the patience needed to create this one… Ten years of trying, multiple broken dreams along the way.. But she has existed now in her own special way for nearly ten years now!! A to B to create the perfect family home is often a circuitous route through the rest of the alphabet…………

 

I made this home twenty years ago. For the family I thought I was making. I was fit, hopeful and full of dreams. I also taught high school full time.

 

It was meant to be the big chapter, the one where it all comes together. But there is only so much fairy dust can do.. and after it not turning out quite as planned,  when we left it, mini and I left with a carrier bag. Hope, trust in a support service and a hotel with a big bed and an extremely  lockable door…. it was the scariest day of my life. My friends told me to leave…. It was just a house.

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But,  a few months on, we created this house. …

And for five years it was our hug house. It built us back up and we evolved together, getting to meet some amazing people on the way. .. Again, personal issues followed us , and the stairs too were also getting tricky on crutches, … so after it was clear we needed to jump again, we decided a dream life by the sea was the only sensible choice.

The house sold in a week of being on the market and we had to find our dream home

( and the cash to buy ) it in twelve weeks..Image result for people in a box

…………we wanted something like this

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And I wrote an awful lot of affirmations….. Kept believing it would be ok and kept an absolute focus on what it would be like…

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But you can give them the occasional kick up the bum…….

We stumbled on this little number last February after driving around the area for a week…. And we saw its heart and potential…….

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The estate agent rang the next day, after we had only seen it for ten minutes. I heard myself saying I would buy it….

 

A year on;  This is our house now.. There are many days I hurt too much to move my hands or, in the winter, most of my limbs.. so when there is some energy, I go for it. Paint, rest stop, paint, plant, rest , stop, paint , put washing on, feed someone, paint, stop, etc ….

Lately as the weather has been kinder to limbs and there has been no school or  homework for small person.. I have mostly been out here… making this kind of thing… We have loved being outside creating,  painting  and planting , from early in the morning to a chorus of chirruping Starlings.. It hurts, but it hurts whether you keep going or whether you give in. Armed with voltarol and pain patches….

And for the beach Hut obsessed of us…

In a few weeks, the exterior makeover should be completed by a local painter too, with a few extra bits I have been painting.  When we moved here, a neighbour asked me why I was doing so much to this little house. It was quite simply meant to look like this. Our things have come home. As have we. And I don’t know when the good days will become less and less often. If you get poorly, better to have flowers to look at than gravel. And if you can’t change the world right now, at least you can paint a pattern on it..

Enjoy the home you make with each and every one of your senses and have a great Summer. Enjoy the sunshine, some things are worth waiting for. xx

Liz xx

 

Belated Happy Retirement

Twenty years ago, in my friend Kate’s house in Granton, we sat on the sofa drinking wine, looking out to sea, and I decided I wanted to teach. I had always taught Summer school classes, adult education groups and worked with children making giant puppets, felt making and mixed media treasures; but this was being a big grown up teacher in big grown up school.

Image result for lonely artist garretBeing a lonely artist wasn’t working for me. I was creating colourful felt products in my ‘Curious Creatures’ Business and exhibiting at craft and trade fairs. I loved making and I realised I loved meeting people and sharing what I knew more.

From a naturally quite shy kid, this was a surprise to me, having not expected to find the guts to face continuous rooms of teenagers, most of whom  looked older than I did! But that firing squad was faced, time and time again.

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Anyone who ever did teacher training knows is not for wimps. Like dogs, Children can smell fear ! And being the new girl in a new school every six weeks, is hard.

The hoop jumping, essay writing, module passing, lesson planning, course writing, behaviour managing, crit enduring…

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But somehow you do it..

And eighteen years of teaching later, before my early retirement, I was still in the heart of of a buzzing and happy classroom so I must have done something right.

I loved my job, and had a great rapport with kids. My every waking moment was spent collecting resources.. from shells to pictures to art

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materials to plastic pots and cardboard, feathers,

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Grades were passed and clubs run, reward ceremonies organised, c.p.d done in everything from hat making to car maintenance, and thousands of children ticked and registered into a room full of colour, plants, masks, pictures, sculptures and ideas.

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It wouldn’t be healthy to be too negative about my journey’s end in teaching. I became disabled through years of surgeries and through falling at work on an operation site on my knee. Another operation didn’t work and I was left on crutches, exacerbating arthritis and causing deterioration elsewhere. It was a battle to continue in so much pain but for a long time, I taught on crutches and managed without any support.

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The last five years have taught me that the journey’s end you seek might not take you on the planned route. As I sat at my desk pre -disability, wishing I was an artist, living by the sea; I could not have imagined the dragons I wouldImage result for working on crutches need to fight on the way to get here. Having already done it once to protect my child, the momentum needed to carry on was huge. With Amazing union support , I emerged from that chapter, having won in one sense, but never having had a real story’s end. When you stand up for yourself, there is no carriage clock. Image result for retirement getting carriage clock

But… that’s ok. It wouldn’t go with the house anyway……… I had experience and a good career which was fulfilling. It made me laugh and cry and at times it was my respite from pain elsewhere. And after all this time, it is now a dim and distant memory, another piece of my jigsaw puzzle and a step into the future which brought us here and now. So, I celebrate my self, as I never heard the words from my friends in the speech I could have had. I was a fabulous, kind teacher and I loved my job! And it was an interesting, challenging and mostly fun 18 years! The other bits.. well. You can keep them. I’ll choose to celebrate the effort it took to get and stay there and the effort it took to get here too. Perhaps I should have been better at feeling proud along the way.. who knows. Age is a great one for giving us tools we could have done with years ago.. But then.. where’s the fun in that? Image result for retirement getting carriage clock

 Happy Retirement to me.

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Thanks kids and the true friends I made. You literally kept me glued together

Now for whatever comes next. See you on the beach .

Liz

xx

Do Sweat the Small Things

There is a feeling of inadequacy in certain circles if you aren’t going at a rate of knots and cramming as many experiences and selfies in as you can , you aren’t doing life properly .
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On holiday in Spain recently,  madam and I watched as Montserrat was viewed , not in awe through the eyes and ears of its spectators , but through a couple of thousand phone lenses . In the cathedral chapel , a precious choir of Angelic boy’s voices , who only sing for a few moments per day in solemn and beautiful prayer was drowned out in clicks and buzzes as the stretched out arms of selfie sticks , rose above the crowds to ‘capture ‘the magic .
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Once sated, the crowd , en- masse, shuffled into each other to escape , whilst the singing was still continuing, and began queuing for their next picture … to kiss a statue .
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It’s true .

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There were very few who were actually really there .

 So it made me think about how we have to be more than tourists in our lives . There are moments everywhere to be appreciated and knock us out in wonder, to balance out the worst (in most… ) situations, if we look hard enough: and trust in something bigger than ourselves .
Some of you will know that my small person can struggle with certain emotions, as a young carer and just generally .. !!! I recently posted this on my fb page :Image may contain: 1 person, closeup

………So today I was at my at my wits end.. a strop from madam , whilst I was in the wheelchair , her refusing to move … lashing out at the wheels , quite quite horrible and embarrassing , at a sacred site in the rain …😫… oh dear … but ….. tonight 💕an elderly Irish man came up to us at dinner and said .. I just wanted to tell you both how amazing , and brave and inspiring you are. ( he got a kiss ) and a little faith and equilibrium was restored . When the chips are down , even if one person sees things, and your loved ones the way you can … well .. that’s enough for me ♥️♥️♥️ xxx

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I posted this, not to receive the ..(very, very appreciated !!) comments, but to remind myself that I had substance still. I was more than the sum of my legs in a wheelchair or on crutches, and wasn’t an ‘imperfect’ parent because I couldn’t do what other parents (look like) they can do. And to notice that moment and celebrate it. I may never see that man again, but his kindness will stay with us always.
I had got us to Spain for heaven’s sake and up a mountain in a cable car . Maybe the disco would have to wait until I get some new joints, but there is always a way to have fun.
We stayed to hear the choir, whilst being bumped and jostled . It was incredible .
Fruit is clearly made for making  faces.. and at home we watch as our starling feeds his  wife and babies at our kitchen window ( and someone else’s babies too I think ! )
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And we will carry on noticing when nice things are happening under our noses .
You are lucky . You might not know why yet . In an art class recently one of my wonderful group was making a word picture . I asked him to think of his favourite person . I wasn’t expecting it to be me. I was humbled that the couple of hours given to my group had netted me that honour. Every day someone might see you in that way.
Remembering that you might be the only person someone sees today and something you say to them might wake them from their doldrums or turn their world on its axis .. simply by you noticing them ..it’s a powerful reason to notice your own good qualities and the small but wonderful things only you can do .

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Many of our community classes love to see their artwork on line and celebrated on our Facebook pages . It is lovely to see finished projects and pull together a series of finished  art projects .
But sometimes people and classes need to be quiet.

Contemplative……………, of the moment and about the moment …………. Some days photos aren’t needed. Some days the process and the company is enough, and provides a safe and assured space to just be . Some artwork never goes on the wall .

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It’s enough to be fully in a moment and record that moment it in a way that will stay in your heart – in whatever makes the most sense to you.  I love a good selfie, and you know I am attached to my camera like a third arm! But for us, they capture more than a pose … Our pictures capture all the patch-worked fragments of the magic we couldn’t paint / photograph or write about at that time. And when we see those pictures they will come with a soundtrack and a sensory record of what daft conversations or creative experiments we were in the middle of.

 

Share everything you feel you want to, never let it feel repetitive, but most importantly, slow each precious moment down to a snails pace for future joyous repeat performances.
Be there with bells on.
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Liz xx

Stop apologising

Every day I feel the need to apologise for something or other.. Usually for reasons I have conjured up from my perception of other people’s feelings..

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No idea why!! But We ALL do it..

It’s human, and so so tedious!! We spend our lives being good parents, friends, work colleagues and children, and most of us strive to do good in the world. Yet, somehow, all the wonderful, creative, kind, selfless things have bypassed our self -back -patting buttons and our focus crashes into… the slightly odd conversation with the distracted friend we met..(Must be our fault), the letter we haven’t written yet, the cupcakes the school expect, the dust not swished, the family feud not resolved..

Negative voices get in the way of a peaceful existence. That’s a little bit of a waste of precious head space.

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In my work as community artist and in mental health, I have seen firsthand how quickly negative self talk can destroy our abilities to function, let alone create. We can literally paralyse ourselves.

The creative process works best when our brains are free to explore and intuit, rather than stiffly attempting to produce under the harsh scrutiny of our own, or another’s glare.

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For most of us, this inner critic began in the classroom when we decided at five or six that we couldn’t draw, and this belief became conditioned in us from an early age. We were then categorized in school and out into bands or grades, creating was about ‘having-to’ draw like a photograph or else you were rubbish at art.

It is wonderful to be able to draw, and to acquire the patience, dexterity and focus to copy a photograph. But not everybody can do that.

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It is clever to be clever and intellectual and have such great ideas that corporations pay huge amounts for concepts and installations.. But rarely do artists make livings producing and sustaining these works, and not everybody understands (or chooses to) understand them… There is a lot of Art out there….

There is a feeling surrounding ‘making’ that it is an exclusive domain of the already talented. However, Being at peace, Creating Art and learning craft skills are not mutually exclusive. They are all very much interlinked and they are your tools to learning how to communicate a, to yourself and b, to those around you.

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Play first!!  What our groups focus on is what young children do. To understand materials and explore the potential without judgement or (and most importantly) without expectation of an end result. Letting the therapeutic experience of being amongst friendly people of different backgrounds, building confidence and leaving judgement and worries at the door.. Lets the creative genie in. And then anything might happen. There is teaching. There are exemplars and inspirations to follow if you want to. But it’s a choice and a starting point.

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The blank sheet of paper metaphor for life is the stumbling point for so many creative and inspiring adventures we could take. Guilt for more worthy things instead, fear for not being good enough flank either side of our poor little brains.. Then we think…”What’s the point.”

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Easier to dust…..

Except, you don’t make friends by dusting, or chat through the feelings you’re going through or learn something you might actually love doing and benefit from .

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The first creative endeavors you twiddle with when you start exploring are never going to set the world on fire.. Who cares! Starting somewhere is the important part of the journey. I still have feelings of guilt every time I step into my studio. But here what I’ve learnt. Those feelings are normal, and ok because it means I care about the people in my life and I have a conscience. However…

What about… If you Feel the guilt and do it anyway….

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I now know; that everyone in my life who matters and who has stayed with us on our journey/met us on the way understands that we (mini me and I) are as we are. Juggling disability/single-mumdom and life in the wilds/childhood traumas/village life and days where limbs don’t work.  ……They know that our hearts are firmly on our sleeves, and we value our extended family of friends to the moon and back, so lapsed contact is usually for a good reason.  I am getting better at sitting still occasionally, and not giving all my time/money/stuff away.  Actually not leaving my artwork until I am too knackered to give it the attention it deserves;  because I am realising that a guilt free, better-rested me, is able to ultimately create more authentically, and connect more deeply.

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It is so worth challenging those guilty feelings and asking why and who makes you feel that way?

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TURN OFF YOUR COMPUTER… It is ok not to be glued to the demands of replying to other people by email or message. They chose to communicate at that moment.. You choose when/if you want to reply. Pick a time that suits to do that stuff and have a list, or you’ll get lost in technology land.

It is so so easy to get trapped inside your house. Even for the most confident person, self talk will flood in and take over. It is ok to be anxious after illness, but getting to a creative and easy going space will do wonders for your heart. SPEAK TO SOMEONE YOU FIND INTERESTING AND COMPLIMENT THEM. Immediately you are not defenceless, you are powerfully giving, and can save the world with your loveliness…Have no expectation other than to keep breathing…

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TRY SOMETHING YOU FEEL DRAWN TO, NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE ELSE SAYS; There is a nagging thing in your head that you know you want to do. Do you really want to be wishing you’d tried in twenty years? If it’s your parent’s voice telling you not to.. (That’s a whole other post) but it’s their guilt/ fear and anxt they’ve passed to you… Feel the guilt and do it anyway, then stop feeling bad because ….nothing bad will happen (there are exceptions to this obviously… but I am assuming I have a certain calibre of audience!!)

Nobody has it perfect before they start.. If you wait until it all comes together before you step outside/breathe life into that project or plant that space… the day will keep magically getting further away. When we put our house up for sale last year, it sold in a week, we had 12 weeks to move a lifetime of home/teaching possessions , buy a house, ( we didn’t know where,) find the money for a mortgage and I wasn’t working as I had retired from my teaching job. I was literally winging it….It took an enormous amount of belief..

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I felt a bit guilty. I had visions of having to saw my crutches in half to fit in the cardboard box I was certain me, my child, our dog and two cats would be living in!!

But I also had a massive amount of faith in it being ok. And it was in the end through sheer grit that we sunk everything into getting here and making it happen! Our friends are thankfully now able to visit an actual house and not a cardboard box, and one by one the have-to’s and musts are being zapped to make room for want-to’s and love-doings…  I’ll post updated pictures next time. If you can think it… anything is possible. Pop the guilt balloon. Come and play. images (4) Share what makes you tick,  and you might surprise everyone, not least yourself.

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Liz xxx

 

On Re-invention

How often do we get to really re-invent ourselves? Or re-discover styles and ideas we may have forgotten about? I have been thinking about that a lot recently, having just celebrated our one year anniversary of a new life here. Frantically painting, planting, creating this space… What.. And who do other people see ?!! There is no history of us here….nothing to gain ground on, for anyone to say, ‘Oh that’s ok, that’s just like them !!’
( I do think the neighbours are starting to now, as our garden paths get painted patchwork colours and more sculptures appear in the flower beds……)
It takes a lot of little things to makes us ‘us’. And a long time to realise that there is no formula, no magic ingredient and that no-one else can do the job quite like you.  But it is a tricky thing to be really and truly ok about…1950s hat fashion shot by Philippe Pottier (1)
Think about  airports.. I love a good airport departure lounge. Looking around at the thousands of snapshots of people’s lives, people between places, people on adventures, lovers in liaisons, people in meetings, families heading towards new lives, or the brave  away from old ones. It’s a wonderful opportunity to be absolutely anyone, dress as our alter ego, smarter self, more casual self, more romantic self and travel with the essence of our compacted personalities. Tiny bottles of perfume and miniature versions of normal dressing tables and wardrobes.. slivers of ‘us’… Mr Benn … through the door to a brand new adventure…. ( now I know your age!! ) ….
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Guessing where people are going, where they live and if they always dress like they are in this moment, that is much more fun than gazing at the departure board… But is it a true indication of who they are? Probably not.
Perhaps if you had to design your absolute true summing up outfit it would just be too difficult, because, our us-ness is far far too flighty for that.  !
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If we think too much about how we appear, we go bonkers. The best thing about getting older is the freedom to sink into our true form without the anxious voices of doubt questioning if it is fashionable or stylish enough to be credible. Our clothes are like layers of rock and sediment compressed into time capsules, until one day we can dig them up and reuse them once more..
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When I think of my friends now, every single one of them is a different size and shape and has a unique way of dressing which would be recognisable to me anywhere.. But this thing that we see in others, is the hard thing to pin down in, and is even harder to do for ourselves. We can spend our lives trying to catch it.. the perfume of our own essence.. what other people see, feel, sense about us that builds up over time and experience .
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It is like a little bird just flying off out of reach.
Love your style
So much of the world out there tries to force our uniqueness by making us copy each other. Technology plays a large part in this and loops us in so easily . (It has a place, if it weren’t for virtual friends we wouldn’t be chatting here..)  We can become an expert on everything from the internet, wax lyrical on every subject until we explode..
but..  Our wonderfully unique us-ness is not to be found on a phone.
Actually making, daubing, planting, stitching, twiddling once in a while.. is therapeutic, calming, mindful, and adding to the details of your existence in a unique way which lasts.. even in a power cut..
Creating your world in a unique way, no matter how small, is your gift. No matter what anyone thinks. You can’t please everybody. not everyone will get you, not everyone will know why your colours resonate, your shed is striped, some of your flowers are plastic..But some will and you keep them and add to your collection as you go…
Our Recent Fabulous Team.
Without help, our garden and Art Space would not be coming along in the way it is. We intend to build access in for wheelchair users and an outside space for group-work. Being challenged on the mobility front, makes me so grateful and aware of the time and generosity given by other people towards this goal. To help set up a space for creative exploring for artists and makers by the sea, regardless of ability or disability. More of you will be involved as the years go by, and that is the best medicine and foundation for  art projects and creative connections.
Thank you so so much R and co. !!! For your uniqueness helping us create ours. xx
We are round pegs in square holes and we make no excuses!
On our anniversary, we celebrate keeping on being creative, unique, working through pain when you can, the generosity of those who join you on the way and never ever apologising for your differences. You are all wonderful you are all welcome no matter what you’re wearing!
Wanted : friends for life , lovers of fun, makers of sand castles, eaters of delicious food at midnight, persons of tolerance and humility, lovers of art and books, sharers of souls and hearts, keepers of treasures not grudges , makers of magic not troubles , appreciates of people, gardens, places and stories and believers in happy endings . All others although wished well , need not apply .
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Love the management xxx 

Exhibition Day

 

A few of the details of work in my part of the St Abbs Art exhibition., which begins tonight at 6pm in the Ebba Centre. I am proud to have been included in this community event and look forward to meeting other artists and makers.

For more details go to; https://www.facebook.com/EbbaCentre

This post was beginning as an arty one… But, I am returning to normal (ish) after a week in hospital . A sudden spinal problem on top of the usual wonky bits ended in an ambulance trip and a black hole in the usual routine. Thankfully the artwork was completed beforehand or we may have come unstuck! Two days ago it was beginning to feel like this new pain gremlin was a  hurdle too many ,  a route through frustrating and seemingly never ending and worsening symptoms, with little hope of anything changing. If you have one condition, at the appropriate age , you’re fine.

s-l400.jpgChuck in a couple of them.. early.. at a time when your peers are running about with their young children and working in their hard won careers, as should you be, and the course gets trickier. If you can stand pain for any length of time before they operate or fix you, is deemed chronic.. If you then get labelled chronic..any new illness is tagged onto that and is belittled and categorized as symptomatic of illness ‘A’. regardless . You can become part of bigger drain on resources simply by accumulating further conditions,your health, sleep and fitness deteriorating because of a lack of interest in the source of the problem.

I don’t believe in feeling sorry for myself but ……….oh man!!!

You should be patient and tolerant and try to battle on but when the decisions of a medical system , or lack of decisions are literally breaking you into smaller pieces.. There has to be a moment you say ENOUGH!!!! I am done with patience!

I was starting to hear myself giving up. I was beaten. I heard the negative voices of every bully I’ve ever met re-asserting their hold, proving I was less worthy than they were, and undoing all the wonderful creativity you and I have shared since I stopped living that reality. … I started to give up on believing this can be better. Pain does that. And if you lose your grip without telling your friends.. well that’s what happens when you stop trying anymore

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Because you know what?

That's not me. 
I was forgetting who was right there in the middle still.

I might be little, a bit delapidated, incredibly sore, and have a mountain to climb.. but I remembered..new iphone 059

I have an army of people there too. And without them I couldn’t do any of what I do. I write this for them, I think about them all the time and they are the reason I got through everything so far. My daughter, face-book family, my neighbours, my art group and my friends.

new iphone 040A simple comment on my facebook page letting people know I was in hospital with no pyjamas , resulted in an anonymous delivery of new nightwear, underwear, a bag of toiletries , fruit and chocolate. It was an unimaginably lovely thing to do, and so so appreciated. Another took time to visit, and bought me yet more wonders and pyjamas, another sent a wonderful book and another took me home, remembering pillows for my spine. Others looked after the monkey and the zoo. And kept the house ticking and restocked for returning. I am humbled by the good of people and of how, in adversity we have the gift of changing someone’s experience for the better.

So, this time we don’t take no for an answer. I am going to stop worrying what I haven’t achieved, who I haven’t phoned, or written to, and what anyone else is thinking..  I will try and remember to be as kind to myself as you are! And, I am going to focus on gaining some physical strength over the next few months. My inspiration is you and I want to make our art-space happen. I will update progress on here and also let you see new artwork as it unfolds. And I am going to get some answers.

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With love Liz xx

A little light on decoupage …………

 

Well folks, I am a little bit in love with this technique.. I decided to hobble about the house and see exactly how often I use my ‘Go –To’  way of applying colour, pattern and interest to just about anywhere.. and it has to be said.. it is probably more than normal!

We are all a little bit scared of paint, even those people who have been applying colour to canvas or sculpture for an age. can get brain freeze when faced with a blank canvas, or a white ghessoed figure.

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To cover a surface quickly or to give a beautifully chalky surface to paint your acrylics on, simply cover your canvas or paper you can use a base layer of coloured tissue. This gives you a much broader starting point where your next layers can tease and build in depth on top .

You might wish to keep areas of the original tissue as the ‘true’ layer’ and add a glaze or ink to brighten. You can trap things between layers,, like string, flattened objects like tickets and dried flowers and use the mix of plain colours to jar against each other or blend in interesting textured layers .

So I love tissue generally, because it is cheap, easy to pick up, use, apply, mix, and work over. Kids love it and working with groups who find art challenging ( the elderly, recovering from illness or health issues) or in my own case struggling with bad arthritic days and because it is immediate and can be cut or torn into an infinite variety of shapes.

And that is only the beginning…

So.. the next thing is the massive choice you have in skinny patterned layers of lovliness you can use on surfaces which are just made of paper.. There are so so many and once you start seeing how they can be incorporated into a collage you will see potential in the most everyday materials. !

Napkins, patterned tissue paper, crepe paper, wrapping paper, and the fancy stuff.. decoupage paper ( more sturdy and less likely to break up in application).. although you’ll pay for the privalige.

And all you do is this…

Prepare the surface you’ll be working on. In each case it will be different, but you need a kind of tooth ( a grip) so the glue won’t just slide off.

On a paper mache surface or a canvas, you’ll need a chalky clean but waterproof surface. Prime with ghesso or white acrylic first.

On a wood surface , sand down any gloss paint and get the surface to be a little rough before you start.

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Mix up a magic mixture of 50% pva and water 50%. Warm water is better as it makes the glue a bit meltier .. and the paint it onto your preferred surface. Apply glue  mixture with a generous brush, apply papers, and then  importantly Apply another of glue mixture painted on top. This will flatten, secure and seal the layers. Repeat until you are done! Add detail with acrylic paint and when dry ( next day) add a layer or two of strong yacht varnish. Preferably matt ( but some kinds of art can tolerate the glossy kind and it has it’s uses in some kinds of painting, and certain projects, ) Your project should now be pretty cool and hardwearing 🙂

Here is a tour of my house and its decoupage projects.. I hope it inspires you to try it for yourself…… xxxxxxx

These projects have included a couple of trunks in the living room, a set of coffee tables, the kitchen wall !!! a vintage style magical cookbook and Leah’s homework desk . The papers we use are from old recipe books ( thanks to a friend for a gift of a particularly perfect ice cream and cake pics, torn from an old dairy cook book, manuscript books, napkins from holidays, online buys.. you name it.. you just need to know what you like and put it out there to all your crew that you need inspiration!!! Good luck and show me your finished projects, I can’t wait to see what you’re up to too!!  Love and Hugs Liz xxxx

 

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