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Take a look at how the tree lifted the sidewalk, making it like a headstone. The upside is that later I saw kids skate boarding off of it. Joy can spring from mourning.


Robin Hood Festival

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Fun with cabbages
This year, I went to the Robin Hood festival, at Edwinstowe, which takes places every August for several days.  English readers, especially those from Nottinghamshire and surrounding areas, will be well aware of the legendary outlaw, who “stole from the rich and gave to the poor”.  I’ve been to the festival before, but it was with my in laws, and my father in law is not able to walk very far, so I hadn’t seen the full extent of it.

"Robin Hood"
When we arrived at the main arena, a falconry display was in full swing, and there were also some other birds on prey in a marquee, which I would have had to pay to photograph.  The fairground next to it, which is a fixture most of the year, was open and seemed to be doing a roaring trade.

The main arena, with fairground behind
After the falconry, there was jousting.  I thought this would mean knights trying to knock each other off their horses, but it was actually people dressed up as Robin Hood and his merry men, (without hats) and the Sheriff of Nottingham - the baddie - riding at a small swivelling target with a spiked ball on a chain on the other side that flew into the air when the shield was hit.  They also tried to spear cabbages on lances and there was some hand to hand combat on the ground.

The pottery lessons proved very popular
There were also crafts and food on sale in the area around the visitor centre and Major Oak, together with small equipment for children to play with, such as diablos, and juggling balls, and professionals to show them how to use them.  Some of the food and crafts were more authentically old than others – I don’t expect Robin Hood would have eaten stuffed olives or fudge somehow.  The forest has many old oak trees, and the Major Oak is the one Robin Hood is supposed to have hidden in.  It is hundreds of years old and has a girth of 10 metres (33').  The area around it is fenced off, to help protect the tree’s roots, and there was a archer in the fenced off area showing off his skills with a bow and arrow.  A juggler had just finished for the day and was chasing being chased around by small children.

The Major Oak - the archer's target can be seen just to the right
The festival is free, but parking is £5 – there was an extra car park set up especially for the event, and the village of Edwinstowe was cut off so that people could safely cross the road to it.  The event was well attended, and we noticed many foreigners from all over the world.

I have featured the Sherwood Forest craft centre before, and was pleased to find it open, as was my husband, who bought a piece of amber to add to his fossil collection.

Seeing Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris reawakened my interest in Anais Nin. Noel Riley Fitch's The Erotic Life of Anais Nin (Little Brown & Co., 1993) not only took me into her life: her tumble of affairs, notably with Arthur Miller, but also led me to awarenesses about Freud that were like kapows! Like this one on p. 151.

In 1896, Freud was booed at a Psychiatric and Analytical conference when he presented a paper about hysteria being caused by childhood sexual abuse based on the testimony of his patients and his own experience. He knew because he admitted "my father was one of the perverts." Unfortunately, he called it "the seduction theory" which implies that the children are somehow at fault. At that time, incest was considered extremely rare. Frued said his reception "was icy by those asses." That paper caused Freud so much aggravation that he was forced to retract it in 1905, shifting the emphasis to the unconscious. In 1906, he developed the theory of the Oedipal Complex in which hysterical children fantacized about seducing one parent and eliminating the other. Neuroses was supposed to arise from the guilt of that fantasy. Oh, what a hindrance to truth!

Rockies and Teepee

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I have used a turquoise blue on the sky on the left,
gradually blending with a more royal blue on the right
both mixed with plenty of white 
Firstly, a warm welcome to anyone new who has found me via the Derbyshire Times website.   I hope to do two updates this week, as the following week looks as if it is going to be busy.

I have begun a painting of the Canadian Rockies, and at this stage, have just pencilled in the outline, and put in the sky and some of the distant mountains on the left, and begun the forest on the mountains themselves.  I am using acrylics on canvas, because they dry more quickly than oils, so are easier to transport to and from art group on foot.

Teepee before decoration
I have also begun decorating a small “cat tepee” (made for our kitten last week) with traditional American Indian symbols, many of which are different types of bird, and stand for good luck, long life and so on.   Instructions on how I made this will be featured on my Kizzie Cat blog later this week (link on the right).  Madge at art group pointed out that I might need to make a bigger one as Kizzie grows, but she (puss) is quite small for now and just under six months old, so I will probably wait until she is about a year old before trying to make a new one, if at all.

We have recently acquired two new members at the art group.  Jim and Aiden both knew each other before they joined. It is good to have some fresh faces, especially over the summer when members are often away on holiday.  This week, Maggie was working on a painting of some geraniums, with the leaves embellished with gold leaf.  I would not have thought to use it in that way, but it seemed to work well for her.  She seems to be going through a “bling” phase at the moment.   Gill was continuing with her pink and white flowers picture.  She creates a blotchy background by putting water based paint onto a wet watercolour paper sheet, then putting cling film on top and scrunching it around.  It is an easy way to create an abstract background and works well for her.  Sometimes, she removes some of the colour by using salt.  Once the background is right, she paints different flowers on top using acrylics – last week she had some freesias, which I had a sniff at as they are my favourite.

I finally found where Chesterfield art group have their display in the Chesterfield market hall this week – it is on the ground floor of the market, in a disused unit at the back near the hairdresser’s.  I knew they had a display somewhere, and had tried to find it before.   They try to have someone there to deal with sales as often as they can.  This time it was locked up and no one was there, but you could see all the paintings through the security screen, and they had contact details for group members who could deal with sales.  I even spotted one of Kevin’s trademark landscapes – he and his wife Barbara belong to both groups.

Cats - and Cupcakes

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This week, I finally completed little pastel puss.  I have added her to my website (link above) where she is renamed “Tabby Kitten”, with a price tag of £35.

Do you know how it is when you sometimes see a good idea on someone else’s blog, and perhaps even leave a comment on that blog to the effect that you want to have a go at it, then never have time (or can’t get the materials) to try it out?  Well, this time I overcame a few obstacles to do just that.  I saw this cupcakes in a cup idea on the “Sunny Bug” blog, which has lots of delightful recipes, amongst other things:  The idea was intended for adults, but I thought it would make a good kids’ activity for the holidays.  Buying the ingredients was no problem, but where I live, you can’t get see through plastic cups – or at least my husband couldn’t find them in Tescos.  I therefore had to order some from e-bay - only to find them in Tescos after all.  No matter.
The cups arrived just in time for a visit from our nieces, with Nanna, and a cupcake decorating session ensued! Rather than take the buns out of the cases, I let them decorate them in there, then dropped them into the plastic cups, before stacking them up.   I wish we'd had a few more now, for a taller and more even effect.  Still, you get the idea from the photo below.

Messy but colourful result
 I didn't get chance to show them how to do piping properly, and we were short of time as we were about to go out for the afternoon, but not a bad result, all things considered.  If you could make tallish stack, it could be a good alternative to a birthday cake (although using candles could be a bit risky).

Good Graces

By Leslie Kagen

(Dutton, 2011)

Leslie Kagen’s latest novel, Good Graces, the sequel to her best-selling Whistling in the Dark, is a juicy, hilarious, salty, sexy grown-up version of Nancy Drew. You’ll be drawn in immediately by the O’Malley sisters, Sally and Troo and the whole Milwaukee neighborhood where, beneath the humor and the small town life, you learn, right in the preface, that amidst county fairs and church suppers and childhood play, there will be murder-most-foul. And Kagen writes such a nifty plot that you won’t even be sure who will be murdered until the end when you’ll wish that there were hundreds of pages more.

“The devil is in the details,” Donny O’Malley, Sally and Troo’s father had told them before he died in a car crash. And devilish details you will get. You’ll find out just what the town is gossiping about. Sally, the narrator, is so un-PC that you may hawk a loogie when you hear her goings on about Polacks and Goombas and Homo Henry.

The details also bring us into a time capsule of the fifties where one character throws Dina Shore kisses and the kids eat button candy off of paper strips and chew on jujubes and Snirkle Bars and play Mumbly Peg and watch Senor Wences on the Ed Sullivan show. You’ll be reminded of blouses with Peter Pan-collars and muuu-muus and Evening in Paris cologne.

Kagen has assembled a huge cast of characters, including the town which smelled of cookies from the local factory. But Kagen miraculously pulls all of them together with their individual stories into a big sprawling howl of a book that will make you go back to read Whistling in the Dark and search the bestseller list for her next novel, which probably is already in the works. Since Kagen is an actress, a voice-over talent, a restauranteur, and a mother of two who published her first novel at age 57, you’ll be sure she won’t waste any time.

Puss progress

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For domestic reasons (see cat blog – link below left) I was unable to get to this week’s art group meeting, but I did progress my cat pastel picture at home, adding blue shading for the cushion and darkening some of the fur.  After reading the article that Gill found me, in SAA Paint, I also think it needs more work now, although I’d been happy with it before. 

Here's the sun exploding!
Meanwhile, the little one has been at home for the school holidays, and I gave him some dark pastel paper for him to draw stars and planets on, as he is keen on astronomy.  There was even more excitement as his dad gave him a small telescope tonight. 

Tom Otterness' cartoon figures are appearing all over parks, subway stations. I ran across this one at The Nassau County Art Museum. Ah, to be tango-ing over a bag of money. Yes!!!

New Artist!

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Langwith Viaduct after snowstorm - Christopher Atkinson
Once again, I am updating slightly early this week.  As it is the school holidays, it’s a busy time and “anything” can happen. 
I am pleased to announce a new artist on the Artists of Derbyshire website (link above), who is Christopher Atkinson. Christopher is from Bolsover and is a student of Matthew Palmer, a well known local artist, who has had his own TV series, and gives watercolour lessons. He has six paintings on the site, and one of my favourites is this one of the Devonshire Arms, with its red telephone box –so very English but not often seen in our country nowadays. 
I also like this one of Gold Hill, Shaftesbury.All his paintings are priced at £110 including delivery in the UK (and he may well be able to export too, if any overseas readers are interested). You’ll enjoy browsing his gallery on the site.

As regular readers will know, after a recent try at drawing our new kitten, Kizzie,  John at art group gave me some special velvet textured paper, and Gill found me a magazine article on how to depict cats in pastel.  I decided to put both of these to use last weekend and drew puss in another pose, this time lying down. 
Little puss needs something to lie down on, otherwise she looks as if she is levitating, so I plan to draw a blue-grey cushion.  On the original photograph, she is on a dark green seat pad, but I think that would be too overpowering and take the eye away from the subject matter, so I am sticking to more subtle shades.

Bernie and the Brooklyn Bridge

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Is it any wonder that Whitman, Harte Crane, and Kerouac wrote about the Brooklyn Bridge?

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