I’ve been a bundle of nerves lately. I am due to give my first ever conference presentation in 3 short weeks at a major conference in the US. Public speaking is still (even after teaching and several presentations to the department) about my least favorite thing to do on earth, and there are likely to be a lot of really really smart people who know an awful lot about my field (much more than me!) in my audience and I’m bricking it a bit, truth be told. I’m sure it’ll be fine; it’s only 15 minutes of my life, so even if it’s terrible, it’ll be over relatively quickly, right? As my mother always says, it’ll probably be horrible, but in a completely different way than I’m expecting, so why bother worrying? And afterwards I get to go see my family, who I haven’t seen in over a year, which I am really looking forward to. But for now, the presentation is kind of looming over me like a big scary cloud. I’ve also noticed people pinning pumpkin recipes on Pinterest lately. Stop it, people! Autumn can’t be right around the corner! That means my PhD thesis submission date and viva are looming as well! :-/

Inspired by the looming dread that will hover over me for the entirety of the rest of this year, I’m sure, I did a little drawing/watercolor the other day. It reminded me of a poem I wrote (don’t laugh!) back in my oh-so-gothic undergrad years, as a sort of dark twist on Emily Dickinson’s Hope is the thing with feathers poem. I’m an Eeyore, I am! ;)

hope is the thing with feathers all right…
——————————————————

oh em,
you said once
“hope is the thing with feathers”
and i agree;
but the song it sings isn’t sweet

it’s a dirge, a death knell

and it doesn’t perch
all cute and perky with dewy eyes

it hovers and lurks
circling high in a sick sweaty sky
waiting
just waiting
for something to die.

copyright 2000ish? by GothicGenevieve’sTorturedSoul

Dread

Dread

First of all, I’d just like to announce that the winner of the 100th blog post giveaway has been chosen, and it is Nancy Robinson Mullins :) Congratulations, Nancy!

For this 101st post, I thought I’d share some non-painting bits of creativity that I’ve been up to, which I am quite chuffed with. The most recent was inspired by some posts I’d seen floating around Pinterest, of making lanterns out of empty food jars with some gold “leading” and glass paints. We have a new garden (more on that later in this post), which we have been decorating slowly with solar lights so that we can sit outside on nice summer evenings. But I wanted to do some candle holders or lanterns that we could string up outside as well, you know, like a little garden party for two. So I saw the idea for these faux Moroccan-style lanterns and gave it a go. I’m quite pleased with the results, although somehow I thought the patterns would be more visible when they were lit. Still nice though.

Lanterns (Unlit)

Lanterns (Unlit)

Lanterns (Lit)

Lanterns (Lit)

I’ve also been trying out some crochet crafts. One was a sweet little flower wreath that I put together, inspired by this one from the brilliant Attic 24, to decorate a particularly blank bit of wall in our bedroom.

Flower Wreath

Flower Wreath

The other was this pony, using this gorgeous Fatty Lumpkin the Brave African Flower Pony pattern, that I gave to a friend of mine as a Christmas present. Time-consuming, but I think the result is quite nice. My friend named him Roman and apparently the ladies at a craft group she goes to tried to nick him!

Roman the Pony

Roman the Pony

Lastly, that garden I mentioned… We live in a block of flats with a communal space out in the back. It’s a concrete space that had been neglected for over a decade and had become a communal dumping ground. There was even a derelict TV set out there for ages! Starting last summer, hubby and I started work on transforming it into something akin to a garden. It was difficult work as there was no soil, it was all totally concreted over. So hubby built a bunch of raised bed boxes, and we started putting together a container garden. It’s still looking a bit rough, especially with all that hideous concrete, but it is sooo much better, and we are really enjoying watching things grow. For the longest time I was convinced I had the blackest thumb on earth, but even I have managed to grow things! There is hope for us all! ;)

I should have taken pictures before we even started clearing up and building the first boxes, but unfortunately it was so embarrassingly hideous that I didn’t bother until after hubby had already done most of the hard work of clearing up most of the garbage and built the first raised beds. So trust me when I say it was much worse than this even when we started:

Garden (Before)

Garden (Before)

And now, things are going strong! We have a climbing clematis in an obelisk, a rose bush, raspberry canes, a cherry tree (attacked by aphids sadly, but getting better – but we ordered some ladybirds so those should be a happy addition soon, and will hopefully help control that problem!), strawberries, spinach, daffodils, tulips, heather, pine trees, cabbage, radishes, wild garlic, and so many more plants growing out there! We are very proud :)

daffies

Daffies!

Garden (After 1)

Garden (After 1)

Garden (After 2)

Garden (After 2)

Solar Fairy Lights in Garden

Solar Fairy Lights

tulips

Tulips

Working garden

Working garden

I’m finding gardening takes a lot of creativity and planning and patience, and I think it’s teaching me new skills and new lessons about creating, so it makes a nice change to painting, as does the crafting. I like the practical nature of it too, that I produce something that doesn’t just hang on a wall somewhere, but results in food, or a lantern that is both pretty and produces light. I can recommend it :)

I’ve had a kind of cruddy week and right now I just kind of want to hide somewhere dark and quiet, maybe under the sea. Hang out with narwhals or something, I don’t know. I just can’t face things right now, particularly PhD stuff, so I thought it might be time to take a wee break and concentrate on art a little bit instead.

I’ve neglected my shops something horrible for a while now, especially my poor Folksy shop. In fact, I was kind of considering closing it down. But I recently made a sale through the shop (yay!) and through that realised a lot of my listings were about to expire, and I figured it was time to maybe give it a little TLC instead. In the course of that, I started browsing to see what my fellow Folksy sellers had been up to, and found some really lovely finds. And then I realised it was Friday, so what better way to highlight these things than with a Folksy Friday post?

The theme is vaguely ‘From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea’ – I’ve been listening to a lot of Cure songs lately, can’t you tell? ;) And if you see something here you like amongst these lovely pieces of handcraftery, please show these sellers some love and go click on their shops, favourite them, maybe even buy a little something…? ;) Enjoy!

MTA: Apparently this is my 100th blog post! To celebrate, I’ve decided to do a little giveaway for my subscribers. Subscribe to get updates from this blog, and I will choose a random subscriber from a hat next Friday (May 9th), who can choose a favourite print for free. :)

Typhoon Lagoon Mermaid Bookmark - Bobby's Boutique

Typhoon Lagoon Mermaid Bookmark – Bobby’s Boutique

Hand-Knitted Mermaid's Tail Long Necklace Scarf - Alona Kemmett Textiles

Hand-Knitted Mermaid’s Tail Long Necklace Scarf – Alona Kemmett Textiles

Turquoise and green cereamic plate - Elemental Ceramics

Turquoise and green cereamic plate – Elemental Ceramics

The Kraken Silver Octopus Necklace w/ Pirate Charms - Armadillo Creations.

The Kraken Silver Octopus Necklace w/ Pirate Charms – Armadillo Creations.

Wire-wrapped green jasper ring – Gimme That Thing

Terns Linocut Print - James Green Printworks

Terns Linocut Print – James Green Printworks

Whale of a Time plates - Yvonne Ellen

Whale of a Time plates – Yvonne Ellen

Fused Glass Coral Bowl - Swallow Glass Studio

Fused Glass Coral Bowl – Swallow Glass Studio

 ship in a bottle necklace - SockJems Creations


ship in a bottle necklace – SockJems Creations

sea and mountains glass panel - Reflections in Glass

sea and mountains glass panel – Reflections in Glass

Seahorse Sea Green Resin Heart Brooch - THE GLITTER KITTY


Seahorse Sea Green Resin Heart Brooch – THE GLITTER KITTY

Siren Song Wire Cuff Bracelet - AUNTIE TRACE'S EMPORIUM


Siren Song Wire Cuff Bracelet – AUNTIE TRACE’S EMPORIUM

Octopus Hand-carved Slate - Hannah Smith Stone

Octopus Hand-carved Slate – Hannah Smith Stone

Saltwater cure screen print - Crafty Lou - Louise McLaren

Saltwater cure screen print – Crafty Lou – Louise McLaren

And this is my own contribution to the collection:

Mermaid - Genevieve Cseh's Art

Mermaid – Genevieve Cseh’s Art

And now for this post’s namesake…Have a great weekend, everyone.

I woke up this morning feeling rather nostalgic for the days when I actually had a signature “style”. It’s the one that made a brief reappearance in my Violinist painting. Back in high school, I used to paint a lot in pretty much only the three basic primary colors: red, yellow, and blue. Technically it was a couple more than that, because I used various shades of each of those (for any paint geeks out there, the basic set is usually: ultramarine & cobalt blue, permanent rose & alizarin crimson, and cadmium medium & light yellow, plus white and dioxazine purple in place of black – which just muddies colors in my experience – for lightening/darkening). I’ve felt rather self-conscious for a while now about the fact that my paintings are kind of all over the place stylistically. I guess you could say I’m experimenting, and any good artist will experiment, but I can’t help feeling envious of artists with a unique, signature style that people can recognize as theirs. I don’t feel like I have that, at least not anymore. But this morning I felt like painting like Past Genevieve, so I did just that, and it felt lovely, that cozy, warm feeling of having a long chat with an old friend you haven’t seen in a while, but with whom you still get on very well because you’re just kindred spirits. The subject matter was all just random stuff pulled out of my inspiration folder that I thought would lend themselves well to the holy trinity of primary colors.

Whiskers on Kittens

Whiskers on Kittens

King Volcano

King Volcano

Sakura

Sakura

And a couple of suitably retro songs to accompany the paintings…

In light of my PhD project on creativity and some of the stuff that’s come out of the interviews I’ve been doing with local artists, etc., it occurred to me with some horror just how much I usually plan my paintings ahead, and how that might mean they come out a bit… stilted. Everything I read and hear and see seems to say pretty much the same thing – that creativity is all about the subconscious, tapping into unusual associations and spontaneity. I don’t often try to tap into that because, frankly, I’ve wondered for a while now if I actually may be the Subconscious-less Wonder. Seriously, I have the most boring dreams ever. They’re all so literal and… eh. Even when they’re wacky they’re such thinly veiled metaphors that they might as well be the boring literal truth. It was part of the reason why I couldn’t stick it out in art therapy – my own experience is that I don’t hide much from myself, and I just couldn’t identify with the idea that we’re all just a tip of an iceberg. I’m not all that deep, I guess. A cigar is almost always just a cigar for me.

Lately I’ve been seeing some pretty amazing abstract art around. I’ve never really done any abstract art before, and the paintings I’ve been seeing kind of inspired me to give it a go. So today I got out a packet of postcard sized canvas boards and tried my hand at it. Stick on some music, just let the paint be my guide, and see what happens…

Well. I was rather disappointed. I suppose if I had to choose, the Ragnarok one is my favourite though (inspired by the fact that apparently some people thought today was going to be the Norse apocalypse…). Further evidence to suggest that I am indeed the Subconscious-less Wonder. I guess I’ll just stick to my paint-by-numbers routine of planning ahead, painting figurative stuff, and being rather uncreative. Sigh… Anyway, here you go, my first and last attempt at painting abstracts.

Ragnarok, G. Cseh

Ragnarok

5 Ghosts, G. Cseh

5 Ghosts

Atlantis, G. Cseh

Atlantis

Iris, G. Cseh

Iris

And just to leave you on a nicer note, here’s a pretty song for you (thanks to awesome fellow artist Esther Green for introducing Patrick Duff’s music to me :))

There is no particular theme for today, nothing particularly noteworthy going on just now, but I’ve done two paintings today, and made chicken tortilla soup (I can heartily recommend this recipe from the Pioneer Woman).  Both of these things make me happy.  Oh, and I’ve (finally!) finished grading my class’ papers, so…hooray!  FREEDOM!!! (I’ll just ignore that they have another paper due this week…) I’m not exactly blown away by either painting, but enjoyed the process of painting nonetheless.  This painting is just another variation on one of my favourite subject matters – underwater scenes. There are actually a lot more colour variations in this, but I can’t capture it via photo apparently.

Up

Up

The second painting is another entry for Virtual Paintout‘s Iceland location this month.  I liked the kind of duo-chromatic thing going on in this scene.  This was just a quick, wee painting.

Iceland 2

Iceland 2

Hope you’re all enjoying your weekends and doing things that make you happy too. :)

I have a slightly embarrassing confession to make. I’m a bit of an Icelandophile. Now, I should say, that’s said as someone who’s never actually been to Iceland, so if I ever do finally get to go there it could very well go the way of my Francophilia after my first trip to Paris took care of that… But I hope not. So you can imagine my sheer dorky delight when the new November Virtual Paintout location was announced and it was Iceland! I had been hoping to get a jolt of inspiration to get me painting again, and here was the answer to my prayers. My husband likes to joke, whenever I wistfully suggest our next holiday be to Iceland, that we should go and have tea with Björk. Because apparently that’s what one does in Iceland… of course. Anyway, since going anywhere (even JUST across a tiny stretch of water) from Aberdeen costs an arm, a leg, your firstborn child, and the blood of a virgin who also must have been born on the cusp between Aquarius and Pisces and have blue hair and a lisp, I have not been able to afford a trip there yet. One day though… I’m thinking reward trip after my PhD? In the meantime, thanks to the genius of Google Streetview, I was able to get the next best thing to tea with Björk in actual Iceland, and went exploring virtually. In addition to gorgeous landscapes and Lilliputian villages, I stumbled across a small town (Heiðvangur, Hella) that appeared to be having some kind of Smurf festival when the Google Streetview van rolled through town. Life is strange and wonderful and random.  Hella rad ;)

I have already done my first painting for this month’s VP. You can submit up to 3 a month, so there may very well be some more in the near future, I am feeling inspired! My first impression, virtually wandering around the countryside, was that it isn’t actually all that different than the wilder, more remote parts of Scotland. I’m not sure why that should surprise me – we’re not that far away from each other geographically – but it kind of did. But all the things I love about the Scottish Highlands were also here, including the dramatic, sweeping valleys coming out from behind veils of mist that I found so jaw-droppingly gorgeous in Glencoe, Skye, and the far north of Scotland on our trips there. So that was the first view I chose to paint.

Iceland 1

Iceland 1

I thought I’d pair this painting with (appropriately) one of my favourite Björk songs, as it is apparently a sort of love song to Iceland, and the video for it features some lovely Icelandic landscape footage.  Enjoy!

The last few months have been mental and stressful and busy and exhausting and although I have a stack of papers to grade, I arrived at the threshold of Spring Break unable to carry on. Something had to give, and I needed a change of pace and something different, and to get the hell away from psychology for a little while. I decided it had been way WAY too long since I did any painting, and figured paper grading can wait. So I got out my art supplies and had at it. It was SO what I needed. I feel heaps better. Now that I have 2.5 weeks of no teaching and probably no running of studies (since all my potential participants have also likely absconded elsewhere), I am taking a bit of an actual holiday from psychology. See you later, suckers! ;)

Polaris

Polaris

I’ve done two paintings, in two quite different styles. The first was kind of based on a painting idea I’d had bubbling in the back of my mind for a while now. It actually turned out about halfway as I’d pictured it in my mind. I must say, I couldn’t get away from psychology entirely (given my PhD topic is about artistic creativity…), and was kind of intrigued to watch my own process unfold. I started out with an idea, and I was faithful to it to some degree (the mountains and aurora in the top half were planned that way), but then the bottom half was sort of supposed to be based on a picture I’d seen of neurons, except it didn’t quite work and the neuronal connections I’d painted started looking kind of like the masts of a ship instead, so it turned kind of into a painting of an olde timey ship in the arctic seas during a storm, which wasn’t my intention at all, but I quite like the way a mistake sort of evolved into something unexpected all on its own.

The second is an entry for Virtual Paintout, which I haven’t done in quite some time. This month the location is Vilnius in Lithuania. I’m a sucker for Eastern European locations (my dad’s from Hungary) so had a look and it’s quite a lovely city architecturally (and sunny!). I found a quiet, chestnut-tree shaded cobblestone street to paint and gave it a whirl with watercolors. I was happy with it, until I got to the shadows on the houses on the left. I think I’ve botched those a bit, but I got to a point where I was fiddling and trying too hard to fix it and it was just making it worse, so I took Alwyn Crawshaw’s advice to stop fiddling, and called it a day. It’s okay, but it could have been better.

Quiet Cobblestone Street, Vilnius, Lithuania

Quiet Cobblestone Street, Vilnius, Lithuania

Anyway, the moral of the story, kids, is that sometimes you need to get away from work and play a little, do something creative and fun. Creativity: It does a body (and soul) good! :)

I know we’re well into the new year now, but happy new year anyway!  I have been so swamped since Christmas with PhD work.  I’m still completely overwhelmed with all the stuff I have to do, but I am about to go completely crazy bonkers mental doing tedious transformational complexity ratings (don’t ask…), so I’ve decided I need a break.  I thought I should prove that although I have been remiss in my duties as a blogger, I have nonetheless been quite creative, at least in the run-up to Christmas. 

You see, I’m a broke PhD student now, so my gifts had to be relatively cheap, so I decided to make most of them this year.  Yeah, just like that…as if it didn’t cost a lot in time, if not money.  What a numpty I am.  But I think it was a success all round.  My thumb got so chafed from all the crocheting that it hasn’t really been the same since, but I was quite pleased with how far I’ve come with the crochet-work.  I’ve expanded into the amigurumi stuffed animal arena, which I’ve been thoroughly enjoying, and did my first lacework shawl, which was quite a task, but came out better than I’d anticipated.  

However, my loving husband gave me a t-shirt for Christmas that reads: ‘Just because you can crochet something doesn’t mean you should‘.  I’m still not entirely sure how to take that – he swears he wasn’t saying my crochet was the problem and was instead referring to hideous projects like this, but I think it’s a sign that maybe I ought to cool it a bit with all the octopi etc… especially when my sister-in-law said, voice full of horror, that she’d seen someone mention crocheted jellyfish and how pointless that seemed to her, and I remembered I had a crochet jellyfish pattern or two saved on my Pinterest crafts board… oops!  I’ll just leave it at octopi, whales and little Cthulhus then… that’s normal, right?  Right…?! 

Anyway, in addition to the crocheting of hats, shawls, blankets, slippers, mittens, wall decorations, and stuffed animals, I also decorated an oil lamp, painted a portrait of my sister’s dog for her birthday, and baked up a storm.  Whew!  Just as well there’s another year before the next Christmas…

(Click to enlarge)

(Christmas 2012 in a nutshell)

<

So it’s November, apparently.  The date’s already in the double digits even!  You know what that means… (*whisper* The Holidays *whisper*).  Yikes!  I generally like to be done with my Christmas shopping by late October at the latest (and most of it done online or handmade so I don’t have to actually interact with anyone, Scroogey introvert that I am…), but I haven’t managed it this year.  So it’s finally dawned on me that I’d better get cracking, if I’m planning on doing anything handmade, which – given that I’m a broke grad student – I am.  Now, I haven’t done much artwork or crafts in quite some time, so I thought I should dust off my old crochet hooks and work on something just to get back into the swing of things.  I’ve been addicted of late to Pinterest, and have a board on there with all the cool crafty things I’d like to, one day when I have more time (yeah right…), make.  So I had a browse and came across a crochet pattern for an adorable amigurumi cactus pincushion I saw there, and since I’d never tried to make something like that – with a face and everything – I thought I’d give it a whirl, just for fun.  It was so tiny, I thought it wouldn’t take very long.

Amigurumi cactus pincushion

Amigurumi cactus pincushion

And I was right, it didn’t take me long at all, and it’s super cute, if I do say so myself.  I’m not usually into the anime or kawaii!!!! stuff, but this one’s rather adorable, I think.  I may give it to someone for Christmas, if I can bear to be parted from it… in which case, if they’re reading this blog, it won’t be a surprise.  Sorry!  I also crocheted something else today, but I think I should probably keep potential Christmas presents under wraps for now.  Maybe I’ll do a reveal in the New Year, a little Open House of Santa Cseh’s Workshop.

In other Christmas-related news, I have finished the two paintings from the previous-to-last post, which have now been submitted for the Peacock Visual Arts grotto-themed Christmas Show coming up soon.  The opening is this coming Friday, 16th Nov, 6-8pm, so if you are in the local area, do please come along – all are welcome to the opening, and it’s on for a few weeks until just before Christmas.  If it’s anything like last year, it’s a great atmosphere, with mulled wine, mince pies, and feels very festive, and is a good place to pick up original art for Christmas presents…  Here’s a preview:

Cavern

Cavern

In The Walls 2

In The Walls 2

And lastly, should you too be struggling with Christmas present ideas… ;) I’ve also added some new prints (Redwoods & Sunshine, Croatia – Sea Wall, and Cavern) to my Etsy & RedBubble shops.  My RedBubble shop also has some useful merchandise on offer, including calendars, t-shirts, and a couple iPhone iPad cases featuring my artwork, and bear in mind that if you’d like something bespoke, I am happy to oblige, just get in touch :) .

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