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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

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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)

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Hi, remember me?

The prevailing excuse for why I haven’t updated the blog anywhere nearly as frequently as I once did is that grad school took over my life.  It turns out that to get a PhD you actually have to do quite a lot of work.  Go figure.  Anyway, although I got through the first year okay, I also ended up rather depressed, and I’ve therefore decided that I need to make a greater effort to balance my psychology work with my artwork a bit better.  All work and no play makes Genevieve a dull girl…

In that spirit, I’ve decided to do a few little art projects alongside setting up psychology experiments, for my sanity’s sake.

First off, one of the artists I follow on Facebook, Shanon Playford, has started a project recently, where she makes a bunch of handmade postcards and then sends them to a batch of random Facebook followers.  A very generous, cool idea, and I was lucky enough to make it into the first group, and am currently eagerly awaiting my present!  I promised Shanon that I would return the favor and send her a postcard from Scotland. I almost chickened out and sent her some ready-made but amusing Scottish tourist tack, something like this perhaps, but decided that was really unfair, and that I should make the effort to send her something handmade, as she is doing for me.  I gave it a whirl today, and although I started out planning on only doing one design, I got a bit carried away and ended up doing five.  You know, in case the first one was crap, I’d have another shot or four at getting something halfway decent to send to her; it also gives Shanon a choice.

Image

5 Postcards (all together)

 

Image

Postcard 1 (Fence Through the Glen)

 

Postcard 2 (Moody Glen with Heather)

Postcard 2 (Moody Glen with Heather)

 

Postcard 3 (Great Glen)

Postcard 3 (Great Glen)

 

Postcard 4 (Harris Beach)

Postcard 4 (Harris Beach)

 

Postcard 5 (Standing Stones at Callanish, Lewis)

Postcard 5 (Standing Stones at Callanish, Lewis)

 

I’m not sure what I’ll do with the others… I may “borrow” Shanon’s idea, if she doesn’t mind, and do a giveaway for my Facebook “followers”, if anyone’s interested.  I’m not sure though if the interest is there, or whether I’ll really have the time to do very many more, as grad school gets started again in earnest.  But if people express interest, it’s something I might do… Or if someone has any other ideas, I’d love suggestions.  Not feeling very creative at the moment!

In The Walls 2 (WIP)

In The Walls 2 (WIP)

The other project I’ve got in the works is entering a couple paintings into this year’s winter exhibition at local art gallery/group, Peacock.  They’re a doing a selection panel this year though, so who knows if anything of mine will actually end up displayed, but I thought I’d give it a go nonetheless.  They have a theme this year – grotto.  I had a look to see if any of my existing stuff would fit the theme – the only thing I could think of was my In The Walls painting, but that was too large to fit their A4 size limit.  So I figured I’d do another version of it for the show.  I’d always kind of wanted to revisit it with black ink to see if it gave it a more dramatic feel, and now I’ve got the ink to try it out.  I have started.  I’m finding – as I did with the last version – the stones problematic.  But I will persevere… This is a work in progress.

Not sure what I will do for my second allotted work.  I am thinking something in acrylic, possibly underwater.  We shall see… Stay tuned.

It never rains but it pours. Today has proven prolific – three paintings! I didn’t sleep much or well last night, so woke up feeling rather low and felt in need of some soul nourishment, so decided to take today off just to do some painting, and it has done me the world of good. I feel so much better… You can take the girl out of the art, but you can’t take the art out of the girl. Or something. Shush up, I’m tired…

Colorado Wood

Colorado Wood

I started out with this watercolor sketch, using a Google streetview that I originally found for last month’s Virtual Paintout – the theme was Colorado. Again, I had intended to take part, but just didn’t get around to it in time. Story of my life these days… Grad school’s FUN!!!! (This month is Elba; I had a look and couldn’t find anything inspiring about it. No wonder they exiled Napolean there…) Anyway, I’m not terribly happy with it – the forest looks like it’s floating, and I gave up and moved on to something else out of sheer frustration…

This (in watercolor and ink).

Jellyfish

Jellyfish

Sticking with the nautical theme, I decided to do an acrylic painting as well, of another underwater scene. There’s something really calming about doing underwater scenes.

Shipwreck

Shipwreck

And to finish off this (mostly) underwater-themed day of painting, here’s an underwater video by a recent music obsession of mine, Warpaint. Enjoy.

Warpaint – Warpaint

A lot of people have asked me about the TBC exhibition, how it was going, when they could see the finished pieces. I have been keeping things under wraps until after the actual exhibition to encourage as many local readers as possible to visit the exhibition itself. Now that NEOS is over, I can share the finished paintings with you guilt-free. In the end, Limousine Bull ended up hanging only three of the five paintings I did for this exhibition due to curatorial factors. I only got out to see the exhibition once, as I was away on holiday in the far north of Scotland for most of the week.  I just got an email from LB saying turnout was good and people seemed to enjoy the booklets. Judging from the weather during the NEOS week, anyone who did make it out probably should receive a medal for battling through the rain and wind to see art. A huge thank-you goes to my hubby, and friends Shona, Drew, Mike and Louisa, for coming out to the opening with me; the support was very much appreciated. And once more for good measure, thank you so much to all of you who contributed such great ideas in the beginning stages of this project. Those of you whose ideas I picked to paint have been contacted, and as soon as I sort out my printing/computer issues, you’ll be receiving your free prints, I promise.

One of the most gratifying parts of the exhibition for me was reading the comments people had written in the booklets afterwards. I was delighted to see people getting into the spirit of it and adding their thoughts to the mix. I’m not usually one to go in for the whole conceptual/interactive artwork thing, so it was a new and interesting experience for me, and I really liked reading what people saw in my paintings, and how their thought processes and memories triggered were sometimes quite different to my own.

Since two of my paintings (TBC1 and TBC4) didn’t get to make their debut at this exhibition, I thought perhaps I could do my own little virtual version of the TBC exhibition with all five of my paintings together, here on my blog. Feel free to add your comments to the virtual booklets… What do these paintings make you think of? Do you see how the TBC theme relates to them?

TBC1

TBC1

TBC2

TBC2

TBC3

TBC3

TBC4

TBC4

TBC5

TBC5

In other news, I am just returned from a whirlwind of a trip up to the far northern “mainland” parts of Scotland (Ullapool/Thurso/Wick area). The weather could have been better (to say the least), but we still had a great time and saw some amazing sights. Scotland luckily can be beautiful even in inclement weather, and all the fog, wind and rain actually just made the isolated, lonely, dramatic highlands look really atmospheric and moody. I drank a LOT of hot tea, fell in mud twice, wore two wooly sweaters non-stop and took millions of photographs of mountains, lochs and heather and overall had a lovely time. Also, I’d like to give a shout-out to the absolutely fantastic holiday lodge we rented for the week, at Highland Glen Lodges. Highly recommended if you’re ever in the area! Speaking of which, I did do one painting while away on our soggy adventures – of the stellar view from our lodge. It isn’t the greatest painting, but given it was done in about 20 minutes over morning coffee, it’s not bad, I think.

View from Highland Glen Lodge

View from Highland Glen Lodge

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to produce something new, but I guess it’s better late than never. I have been busy planning paintings in my head, but lately I’ve been in a strange mood – bordering on the moody doldrums of a down patch, but not quite. I feel okay, actually, but whenever I went to actually do anything, I couldn’t seem to get myself to lift a finger. I think it’s called being… lazy? 😉 Anyway, I’m coming out of this patch gradually now, and I have actually managed to produce something and get some things done I’ve been putting off. This includes joining up with another local art group, giving my card out at a cafe for a possible exhibition there, and redesigning my portfolio website. I hope to maybe one day soon even begin to offer the option to buy paintings and prints directly from my website!

This painting is from a photograph I took on holiday back a couple years ago when we did a tour of the Western Isles of Scotland. On our trip, we visited Skye, Harris and Lewis. One of the last things we did on Lewis before we headed home was visit an Iron Age broch. I’d heard people talk about the brochs before, back when I used to work in a museum, but I was pretty blown away by the fact that there were stairwells IN the walls of the building, and that you could still (partially) climb them. I took a picture of the stairwell in the wall of the broch, and it was a very moody, dramatic picture. One I thought would make a nice painting…

Broch steps (reference photo)

Broch steps (reference photo)

Unfortunately, I think the blacks need to be much blacker to get that sense of drama. I had sort of intended to add some ink, but for some reason, the selection of inks I bought didn’t include black, so I will need to go and buy some first. Watercolour is evidently just not going to cut it for deep, deep blacks. As I tend to shy away from plain blacks and plain whites in my paintings, I had to add blues and greens and browns instead for some depth, which I like. But all in all, I think it might need some more work before I’m truly happy with it.

In the Walls

In the Walls

This will just be a short post, just a little show-and-tell of another drawing/painting I did recently. I have only recently returned from a 2-week holiday home to California. I took my sketchbook with me thinking, again mistakenly, that I would have the time and inspiration to draw and paint on vacation – never happened…. with the exception of one watercolor pencil drawing, inspired not by my surroundings, but from a photograph one of my Facebook friends (Saori Kuroda, a woman I met in grade school and who now lives in Japan) posted on Facebook. Such is the nature of inspiration… I loved the way the water rippled and the muted mossy greens.

Might I also take this opportunity to remind people that I have some prints for sale on all three of my shops – EtsyFolksyRedBubble – for which I donate 60% to the Japanese Red Cross’ Earthquake/Tsunami relief fund. It may be out of the news these days, but is definitely still a major problem in Japan… I have extended the offer through June, so please consider this option if you like any of the prints this applies to (Black Cherry, Snow on Bennachie, and Bamboo Forest – and I will add prints of the above picture as well, as soon as I get it scanned). Thank you.

Japanese Garden

Japanese Garden (from photo by Saori Kuroda)

Hello. I know I’ve been rather MIA lately… a lot going on round here – went to a reunion of my college roommates down in London, 2 bank holiday weekends in a row with stunning weather lured me outdoors, and just finished one of my two day jobs. So there has been much merriment and partying.

But now it’s back to work and back to painting…

Today I painted a painting that I’ve been meaning to do for quite some time – it’s a view of my own flat, specifically the plants along the windowsill in my bedroom. I love lying in bed and watching the shadows and highlights on the curtain and the leaves of the geraniums when we get a sunny day, which – blessedly! – we have been having a lot of lately. (Scotland in Spring on a sunny day is so beautiful!) I was a little worried I wouldn’t do it justice, but I’m pretty pleased with the way it turned out actually.

Along a sunny windowsill

Along a sunny windowsill

I decided not to enter a painting into the Aberdeen Artists’ Society show this year, mainly because I didn’t have anything yet that I thought would appeal to the ‘Aberdeen style’ (and yes, there definitely is a style…). But I did start a triptych painting based on panorama landscapes from our highlands and islands trip back in 2008. I’m almost done with the first one…

The Quiraing, Skye (WIP1)

The Quiraing, Skye (WIP1)

I have a whole year to finish the other two 😉 Actually, there’s more that I plan to do to these paintings, but that’s a surprise… 😉

And also, because I love sharing music finds, this is the song I’m listening to on repeat today…

Lately I’ve been kind of sort of feeling more like an actual ‘artist’. Partly this is just because I’ve been spending a lot of time updating my RedBubble and Etsy shops (Folksy to follow) and realised that I’ve got quite a few paintings actually to put up there! More prolific than I thought I was… of course, if I’d been painting daily, like I said I was going to when I first started this blog, there would be an awful lot more, but I digress… 😉 I’ve just renewed my membership for the Aberdeen Artists’ Association – not sure what good it’ll do me, but it can’t hurt. I’m still deciding whether to bother entering anything into the exhibition this year or not, but I probably will try to get something in. I even had a couple ideas this morning that I’m quite excited about trying – it’ll be something unusual for me, actually, but I’m looking forward to trying it and seeing if it works. I have the day off work today and have spent it painting so far, which is a very nice way to spend a day off from your day job. I guess people would consider that I was just indulging in a hobby. It makes you wonder when you can really start calling yourself an ‘artist’. Does anyone who makes art quality as an artist, or only people who are making a living out of it? I often shy away and cringe a bit whenever I tell people I’m an ‘artist’, but if I’m not an artist, what am I, and what is the huge stack of paintings taking up the corner of my room?

Anyway, I have done another Virtual Paintout painting, a watercolor/mixed media deal. Bill Guffey, the creator and host of VP, felt it important that this month the challenge be set in Japan. I agree that it was a timely choice, although I have to say that looking through the streets and countryside of Japan, particularly the coastal areas that are now pretty much non-existent, was heartbreaking, picturing the houses I was looking at swept away… I then looked around Hiroshima and Nagasaki, hoping to remind myself of Japanese resilience – and it is amazing how completely rebuilt those places are, with hardly anything to betray what happened there only 66 years ago. But it’s a reminder that Japan has had an awful lot to deal with over the years. I was looking for something to paint that showed growth and rebirth, something green. I finally found this bamboo grove that caught my attention. Once it is scanned, I will be adding prints of this to my Help Japan collection, for 60% donations to the Japanese Red Cross. (Update: This is now up on both my RedBubble and Etsy shops – links above)

Bamboo Forest, Japan

Bamboo Forest, Japan

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