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After another long dry spell of feeling completely uninspired but nonetheless itching to create, I decided to try out Zentangling. A friend had recommended it to me as a nice meditative practice that didn’t require much thought or planning. So I got out my nice new apple green sketchbook that I bought myself a while back but had yet to use, and some pens, Googled what this ‘Zentangle’ process really entailed, and launched right in. And indeed it was meditative and nice, but I felt a bit frustrated as well if I’m honest. My abstract ‘doodles’ seemed childish and boring to me. But as I drew little intricate circles, I started to think about how this looked a bit like grains of sand, or the bigger circles like sea urchins, and the swirl ‘string’ I’d started out with reminded me of waves on a stormy sea, and a nautical theme kind of started to come to mind. I’ve been working on a story for a while now that is based on a seafaring village and a storm at sea, and the two kind of merged and I started to think maybe I could turn this zentangle into an artwork kind of based on those sorts of themes. So a big thumbs up to the Zentangling for helping with brainstorming when you don’t have any ideas, but I’m not sure I have the patience for pure Zentangling, which is meant to be purely abstract pattern and only black and white ink. I like colour too much and although I like the abstract motifs as a kind of decorative touch, I like my work to have some semblance of a story to it as well. So what started as a Zentangle ended up really not a Zentangle. In the end, I came up with this:

Sea Shanty

Sea Shanty

This was an interesting and new experience for me in many ways. It feels very different compared to my usual ‘style’ – whatever that may be. I’m not a pen & ink sort of artist usually. I have friends who are professionals in this medium, and compared to them, I feel like a rank amateur, like a little girl playing dress up with her mother’s clothes. I also tend to plan ahead before I start on a work, but this time I wasn’t planning to do anything except put down some random geometric patterns on paper. But nonetheless I’m pretty pleased with the way it turned out for a first attempt, as well as the process. I enjoyed getting to feel absorbed in creating again, something I haven’t really been able to do much lately. This reminded me I must make it more of a priority in life, and make more of an effort to try, even when I’m not feeling the Muse’s presence particularly. This seems like a good method I think for getting me into that mindset when I don’t really feel like I can, which is really useful.

If you’d like to try Zentangle, I can highly recommend it for quieting the mind and relaxing. Adult coloring books, move over! This is much better, because you are really creating something, rather than just decorating a pre-existing pattern with some colour. There is a tonne and a half of stuff out there on YouTube etc, showing you what Zentangle is, how to get started, and some examples of patterns you can use. I found watching people drawing these patterns is itself pretty hypnotic and zen. The basics of Zentangle are really kind of simple – just doodling really, with starting structure, and within bounds. Give it a go sometime!

And here’s a ditty to act as the soundtrack for this piece… 😉

It was Valentine’s Day a week or so ago. I am not the biggest fan of Valentine’s Day. I wasn’t a fan when I was single and I’m not a fan now that I’m married. I don’t even know how to express why. It’s not even the commercialization aspect. I don’t know, but it puts me in a cruddy mood in the best of times. Anyway, this year I was on my own and missing my husband, and really really not in the best mood. So I did the only thing that I know how to do to cheer me up – I painted.

I’d tried painting the day before, and it did not go well. All the colours went muddy, nothing came out. But the next day, things were flowing better, and I managed to do two paintings, go me. The sky painting was actually already halfway done and had been sitting in my living room halfway done for about 6 months, mocking me, guilting me about how long it’d been since I got out my paints. So I finally finished that sucker. So THERE.

The other painting I did was a smaller one inspired (in a macabre, GTFO Valentine’s Day kind of way) by the holiday. My mother said it disturbed her when I showed her. I’m not sure if that was my intention or not. I think it reflects how I was feeling this Valentine’s Day though.. a bit conflicted. It is based on the Lovers of Valdaro, a skeleton couple unearthed by archaeologists near Romeo & Juliet’s Mantua. In a way, it’s a testament to love that goes on forever, even into death. But in another way it’s two dead people in a pit – HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! 😉 Anyway, I named it after a Bauhaus song because reasons. The two just were entwined in my mind immediately for some reason.

Passion of Lovers (Is for Death)

Passion of Lovers (Is for Death)

I’m still not sure about a title for this sky one. My FB friends have given me suggestions. They were all very good, but I’m still not sure. It reminds me of the colors and above-the-clouds-edness in Robot Unicorn Attack, the ’80s-Lisa-Frank-aesthetic game app, so I’m just gonna call it that for now as a placeholder till I can think of a more poetic name.

Robot Unicorn Attack (TBC)

Robot Unicorn Attack (TBC)

And now for a (related) musical interlude…

Well, it didn’t really turn into a very disciplined portrait-a-day sort of thing, because the run-up to Christmas was a bit mental and life got in the way. But I did go several more pictures, including one that wasn’t a portrait… because I needed a break from faces. So here’s the final set of images. I’m considering getting back to it and doing some more soon actually. Most of these drawings are now available as prints on my Etsy shop.

*** Oh, please note: If you’re a Bernie Sanders supporter (as I clearly am), I’m running a donation scheme on that portrait – I’m donating $10 from every sale of his portrait directly to his campaign, for as long as he’s running. Feel free to spread the word 🙂 ***

Behold!

bernie_withname_etsy

janegoodall_etsy

dalailama_etsy

columbo_etsy

helen_keller_etsy

opa_sm

obama_etsy

mariecurie_etsy

This is where I got tired of faces…

neuschwanprint_etsy

….Aaaaand then I was back in the portrait saddle.

einstein_etsy

johnny_cash_etsy

And here’s my latest musical obsession, because it’s now tradition to end on that note. It gives me the same feel as a John Hughes ’80s film. It makes me want to watch the Breakfast Club or something. In fact, I think I might just go do that. And then maybe do some more drawing! That is how I party on a Saturday night, folks… 😉

Hello again to anyone who’s still with me… As usual, life has gotten in the way. Since my soul-destroying job hunt which plunged me into a bit of a depression, life has got a bit crazy. I did finally get a job, researching creativity!!!!, but it necessitated a move to England… So my art fell by the wayside for a while, while I moved house and dealt with being in a new place and working a new job. Which is actually perfect for me, by the way… I get to do psych research on creativity, but within an art department. Dream come true!

Anyway, I’ve finally taken some inspiration from my art department work environment and I have started a project now in the run-up to Christmas to get me back into the creative saddle. I decided to give an app I installed on my Galaxy Note tablet ages ago another try and discovered that it’s actually really great for drawing. I haven’t drawn in years… so I felt rusty. But drawing on a tablet is really not that different than on paper and it has some nice features that make it superior to paper drawing, like quick erasing/clear, and better blending options. The Galaxy Note S-Pen stylus is fab – pressure sensitive and feels like you’re really using a pencil.

The first drawing I attempted was a portrait of Obama. It did not go well and will never see the light of day, unless I give it another go and it gets heaps better… But the second drawing I tried was of Bernie Sanders, which turned out much better. I hadn’t really intended to turn it into a series, but then I started thinking, I should pick up the discipline that I tried to self-impose at the start of this blog, and do some art every day. At least until Christmas. I can manage one drawing a day till Christmas, surely. So it kind of morphed into a sort of Portrait Advent Calendar – drawing a portrait a day of someone I like or admire or find inspirational (some more serious than others 😉 ) until Christmas – I started a little late for it to be a true advent calendar, but you get the gist. I figure with the news being so full of stories about heinous people doing evil things, we (I) need a reminder that not all people are bad, and there are people who restore my faith in humanity. I need that especially right now as I am feeling like such a Scrooge this Christmas season! I’m lacking in merry and bright at the moment.

So far I have only done four portraits. Actually, there’s a fifth, but it’s going to be someone’s Christmas present, so I’m not sharing that one. I’ll update again once I’m done, with the complete set. But for now, here’s a teaser…

Bernie Sanders drawing by G. Cseh

Day 1: Bernie Sanders

Jane Goodall drawing by G. Cseh

Day 2: Jane Goodall

Dalai Lama drawing by G. Cseh

Day 3: HH the Dalai Lama

Columbo drawing by G. Cseh

Day 4: (Peter Falk as) Columbo

And because it’s becoming tradition now, I’ll share a song I listened to a lot while I was drawing as these kinds of driving instrumental electronic songs are good for getting into the flow…

I am finally (! only took 6 months or so…) starting to come out of the hazy crazy dazy days that were the entire end of last year, when I was finishing up my PhD (I’m a Dr. now!!!!!!), and I realised it had been quite some time since I updated this blog! Which is a pity, because I have actually been pretty active artistically lately. The post-PhD psychology job hunt has been difficult and unfruitful thus far, unfortunately. But to balance that disappointment, I have actually been having a bit of a boom in my art career. Who knew the so-called starving arts could be so much more lucrative than having a science PhD…? Anyway, I have had two recent commissions for paintings, and I could not have asked for nicer clients, either! One was for a painting of a pretty pink and purple bouquet of flowers (a lovely memento of the first bouquet the client ever gave his girlfriend):

The First Bouquet

The other (handed over to the client just today) was a landscape of a local Aberdeenshire landmark, the hill they call Bennachie. Both were a pleasure to paint, and I am so grateful to my clients for the opportunity :).

Bennachie Sunshine, May 2015 Commissioned Painting

I have also given my portfolio website an overhaul – I thought it was time to bring it a bit more up to date. I intend to soon set up my own e-commerce portal on it, so that I can sell more original paintings and prints without the intermediary commission charged by Etsy etc, which should make things more affordable to potential buyers. I still have my Etsy shop, and sales there have recently started to increase again after a bit of a lull. So it’s happy times, artistically speaking 🙂

These commissioned paintings have also been a nice reminder of how much I’ve missed painting, and I fully intend to get back to doing more creative and artistic work now that the PhD is behind me. So watch this space!

Here’s a lovely song that I’ve been listening to lately… I find it comforting, plus it’s pretty. Hope you enjoy it too 🙂

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 :))

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!

Vintage Vote poster by Obey

Vintage Vote poster by Obey

I’ve only done one other ‘political’ post before (about Aberdonian politics) which proved popular actually, but it isn’t what this blog was created for, so I want to keep it to a minimum.  However, I feel strongly about the upcoming US election and felt I wanted to say something about it before people go to the polls.

Just to give some context to where I’m coming from, I had a very multi-national upbringing.  My father is Hungarian, my mother American, my half-sister grew up in Germany, as did I for the first eight years of my life.  I have family members through marriage from Iran and Turkey and now Scotland, where I now live with my Scottish husband.  When we moved back to the US when I was just about 9 years old, I was really confused about my national identity.  I’d been taught some things about my American roots and spoke English (with a slight German accent apparently!), but having lived in Germany from infancy, I didn’t really feel American, although to be honest, I never quite felt German either.  When I was fresh off the boat in the US, going to school for the first time in the US school system, it felt odd and I felt like an outsider.  But I threw myself into it.  I remember memorizing the Pledge of Allegiance with my mom with enthusiasm, wanting so badly to fit in with my American classmates.  We moved to California (after brief stints in South Dakota and Colorado) after that, where I discovered that America is the melting pot it is purported to be.  Most of the kids I went to school with were first generation Americans, or had moved from other countries themselves.  I didn’t feel so odd anymore, so many of us were immigrants.  I once asked my dad if he felt like he stuck out – as I do here – every time he speaks with his accent.  He said no, because so many people in California have accents, it’s the norm.  As time went on, my identity as an American grew, but so did my identity as a citizen of the world.  We are all just people.  Boundaries are manmade and false.

That said, I love the US, and I’ve tried to defend it from some ignorant British anti-Americanism that I’ve come across since moving over here.  Being an expat once more in the UK has taught me to appreciate the little differences between cultures and geography.  There are things about the UK that are superior to the US (e.g., universal healthcare, better work/life balance, dairy products – seriously, people, the dairy in the UK is amazing…) , and there are things that the US does better (e.g., customer service, mixer taps, non-dry-crappy-cake, laundry equipment, Halloween…).  Sorry US & UK, but that’s the way it is. The grass is greener on both sides of the fence, but only in patches.  And although I no longer live in the US, and don’t have any immediate plans to return to live, my parents and other family members from my mom’s side are all still in the US, as are many friends.  I care what happens to them.

I’ll just admit right off the bat that I’m a firm Obama-supporter, and voted for him with my absentee ballot a few weeks ago.  If that makes you feel uncomfortable, read on.  I’m not the rabid liberal type – in fact, I used to be quite a lot more conservative than I am now – and my purpose with this post is not to try and convert you to my cause.  With one day to go before the polls open, most people’s minds will be made up really.  I’m appealing for restraint and sanity, to remember that we’re all Americans, that we’re all just people, and we’re all in it together.

This morning I watched the video that’s been floating around with Romney supporters in Ohio.  It’s pretty appalling, with some extreme ignorance on show.  But it also clearly was edited, and as we all should know by now, editing can make all the difference.  Yes, there are some morons out there supporting Romney, but perhaps this lefty media project purposely cut out the more logical-sounding Republicans.  So I had a look at the side bar to see if there was a similar project with Obama-supporters, and found this video of the same interviewer (who seems very Strong with the Force) interviewing more liberal people at Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity a couple years ago.  They sound almost as dumb.  The point being made by this interviewer is an important one that I wish more people would pay attention to.  There are a lot of people at these rallies because they just want to be a part of something, but they don’t want to do the work to actually inform themselves about any of the issues or facts that support them.  Romney’s camp has said that they don’t want to be bothered by fact checkers.  I’m not even going to dignify that with a comment, except to say that this kind of idiocy is rampant on both sides, the Republicans just seem to be a bit more blunt about this.  Many people vote based on nothing more than emotion and instinct, or a gut reaction to the candidate and the party they don’t like.  There are too many polarized red people and blue people.  Too many people taken in by spin and propaganda on both sides.  It’s not those people who are going to decide this election.  It’s the folk in the middle who are a bit more discerning.  There’re a lot of people making fun of undecided voters, but I can see how it could legitimately happen.  Someone might be fiscally conservative but believe that Romney will set women’s rights back by 50-100 years.  Or maybe vice versa, I don’t know.   Or someone who is ultimately really an Obama supporter but feels depressed and let down by their own high hopes last election, who can’t seem to get the energy up to care either way this time around.

I have one final message for my American friends ahead of this election before I shut up and let things be what they will be.  This election is incredibly important, and you can’t afford to just let this one slide and let other people decide one way or the other.  There are 2 Supreme Court justices nearing the end of their terms – the next president will likely majorly influence that branch of the government with their choice for many many years to come.  I have my own strong opinions of who is the better candidate, but that doesn’t matter just now. I just want to encourage every American to vote and express an opinion – people fought and died for that right, so make the most of it. And make sure that your opinion is based on facts.  Neither the liberal nor the conservative news agencies are telling you the whole truth.  Read and watch across the aisle, read sources from outside the US, no matter how uncomfortable it may be to face the opposition’s alien-seeming point of view. Play devil’s advocate. Try to get as good a picture of the whole truth and the global, long-term picture as you can. Try to sort the propaganda and rhetoric (and both sides are guilty of that!) from the kernels of truth hidden within, and then VOTE with your conscience. It’s the best any of us can do.

And now, commence nail biting…

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