Genuine locals!

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I’ve been busy completing paintings ready for our exhibition. Some of you may remember the montage of scenes from around Clowne I completed last year for the Derbyshire Open Art competition at Buxton. To liven it up a bit, I’ve now started to add figures to it, and these are genuine Clowne locals munching their chips (who look just like other UK residents, oddly enough). I also plan to add some medieval figures to some of the older landmarks in the painting.

One of our members had been ill and Maggie, who had been making cards from her artwork, donated one as a “get well” card for her, and we all signed it and sent it off. She has created some greetings cards featuring her paintings, using decoupage (layers), and also some with an edge made with a decorative cutter, producing a doily-like effect, all which will be on sale at the exhibition. Kevin had lightened up his moody Whitby seascape, but was leaving the sides of the canvas dark. John finally completed his pastel tiger, which has taken at least all this year so far, by adding the whiskers, “I hardly dare do this” he said. Karen was being given a “scumbling” lesson by Sue. Scumbling is painting thin layers of light colour over a dark colour to give a shimmering, broken colour effect - or at least that was the idea.

Last week, I was in Chesterfield for a meeting with two reporters from the Derbyshire Times. You may remember that I won a competition to have my blog featured from the newspaper’s web site. Ellen Beardmore and her colleague Ellie (who I think must have been Ellie Hunter) are trying to meet all their website bloggers - there are five others as well as me. They wanted to know more about me, and also whether there were any places, people or events in Clowne worth featuring. Although we only have 7,000 people here, there’s plenty to do if you scratch the surface, and I was not short of ideas. Ellen told me that, to help attract more readers, each of us bloggers will be featured in the paper on a revolving basis, with our latest blog post.  This is obviously good news for me.
Whilst I was there, I visited “Chocolate by Design”, a small high class shop in the town centre. They sell a range of chocolate novelties that you can’t find anywhere else – here are two of their Easter range, bought for the youngsters in the family. They also had large Easter eggs for adults, and smaller ones for the kids, some had sweets set into them – highly original. Here’s their website link: http://www.designchocolate.co.uk/


Jane Eyre, the film is spectacular

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This film really ramps up the eerie in Bronte's gothic masterpiece. The director keeps everything in Jane's point of view by having the sounds barely audible when she's in shock, which makes it tough when you're in a theater where people are popping gum, shaking bags of popcorn to let the butter coat every kernel or whatever....Why would anyone have to shake their popcorn bag, you tell me?

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A little duck

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This week has been a flurry of spring cleaning, in the middle of which I found this half-finished painting from several years ago. I might complete it and put it into the art group show, or use it as a background for a blog on books I’m hoping to create soon. Perhaps I’ll make a montage of it, like I did with my flower designs. With a month to go before the big day, I have also got all my paintings ready for the exhibition, and they only need prices putting on them now. I was going to order mounts for them, and order some for Elizabeth while I was at it, but it would have cost £17 for the ones I wanted, and £62(!) for Elizabeth’s (around £3 each) Elizabeth doesn’t have a computer. I might try and persuade her to just wrap them up in cellophane instead, as I have with some of mine. I spent about £100 on frames around 4 years ago, and still have most of them, and use them every year. It would be a bit quicker to use mounts when we are actually setting up, as I can just stick them on the exhibition boards with Velcro, whereas with framed paintings, I have to wait to be given my share of “butcher’s hooks” and then do something complicated with string, which I won’t go into here.

My parents visited earlier this week and brought with them my great aunt’s old autograph book. It had a picture done by her niece, Dorothy, when she was 13, of Donald Duck. The writing underneath reads, “You are a little duck”. I am going to add this to our family tree, which I researched a couple of years ago, as it helps give an idea of what the person was like. It is nice to know artiness goes that far back in the family.



O'Neill's play. Long Day's Journey into Night is a perfect study for not only character development, but how the wounds of family life live in not only the characters, but each of us. Study it for the way O'Neill, through letting us into the character's circumstances and histories, will not allow the reader to walk away with blaming any one character for the mess, and this in a play that involves a constant bombardment of blame!

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Don't get caught in the free I-Pad scam!

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Someone raped my friend's facebook info and sent me an email supposedly from her, telling me how she'd just gotten a free I-Pad and wanted me to have one, too. I didn't even want a free I-Pad, but I have a wonderful son-in-law who I'm sure would love one, so I began filling out the form, gave them my email address, then thought better of filling out the rest of the info. But, alas, once they had my email address, they had a pop-up that I couldn't get rid of, that froze my computer. Now, with the help of AOL's advice, all of my settings are off and the computer clicks and turns on as if it's crashing. My techie, Kathy, is about to hear from me.

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Gesso guess

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Here’s the “fantasy bug” I’ve been helping my son with, mentioned last week. We’ve since added antennae and legs made from pipe cleaners to finish it off.
I’ve painted the blue parts of my abstract triptych, using a tiny watercolour brush to do the tight sharp points at the edges of some of the shapes. Luckily, the blue came out thicker than the magenta. Next stop, pale green, then I will complete it by painting the parts where the colours “overlap”. Margaret at art group told us that she was using magenta and it was translucent, so perhaps it’s how that particular colour is (see previous post for my experience of this). She had bought some canvases bought from our local Aldi, and was having to treat them with gesso first. For those of you not in the know, gesso is a primer for canvas. Fortunately, we had some good quality gesso in our materials box. She painted a large circle in metallic blue-grey, leaving a white silhouette of a bird landing, and she will paint the bird in later.


Karen gave us some promotional posters she'd produced for our forthcoming exhibition, ready to hand out to friends and relatives, and display in as many places as possible. She was painting a dark background for her next picture, which I think was going to be a “moody” sky. She helped her mum Madge get started on a new picture.


John has found a shop willing to display his stunning animal pastel pictures. He has almost completed his tiger now, which has taken many hours.


I added two rabbits to my snow trees oil picture, but they are not quite complete yet.  You can see them when they are.



After spending two hours in the restaurant, Zachy, myself, and our husbands ended up hanging out in the parking lot another hour and still it was hard to leave. Now that's great company!

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Ladybird, Ladybird

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This week I have been busy with some Moroccan-inspired designs, using the computer to help me copy the basic motifs and change the colours.
In preparation for the art group exhibition, I have printed out some of the designs and stuck them on a large sheet of paper to show how the idea developed. I often try to give people attending any event I do something interesting to look at like this, not just flog my paintings (or try to!) I have begun to print publicity posters and have already taken two into the community centre, and will take one to the library, although the latter are not allowed to have posters on their notice board, and will have to put it in their Events book which people have to ask to see, so let’s hope they do.

At art group, Kevin proudly showed us a miniature of a windmill at sunset, which he’d painted at another group. It measured about 13 cm x 12 cm (about 5” x 4¾”), the size that would fit into a CD case. His wife, Barbara, another group member, was working on a similar size painting of some houses and trees by a waterfall. It was her birthday and we had chocolate cake and sang happy birthday to her. Elizabeth was doing a watercolour painting of Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland, but without the water around it, as the tide was out. Sue was working on a painting of a sunset over a river, possibly the Thames (I thought I could see the Houses of Parliament in the distance). I gave another coat of magenta to my triptych, it may even need more before I can do the turquoise and green I’m planning.
This week, I went to look round our local secondary school, and was pleasantly surprised to see that children nowadays are able to do pottery and sculpture at school, not just drawing and painting. My own son has had to produce a “fantasy bug” for his homework, so I had to remind myself how to do papier mache this week. A rather large and plump ladybird is gradually taking shape, and will hopefully survive the journey to school.




Write your own tribute for Mother's Day, 2011. Honor your Mom by composing a leter: Dear Mother. Make it honest--humorous or serious. Selections will be read by actors. There may be an anthology put together at some future time. http://jonelsenonline.com

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Subject: Deadline Reminder
March 15th is the deadline for the open submission reading period for the first of the two 25th anniversary issues of the Comstock Review. Submit up to five poems with self-addressed, stamped envelope to: The Comstock Review, Reading Period.4956 St. John Drive, Syracuse, NY 13215 All poems received will be considered for this commemorative issue of our journal. For full submission guidelines, visit:http://www.facebook.com/l/f5b23H9caA-JPeHxs6bgXPRqUVA/www.comstockreview.org/howtosubmit.html

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Writing Challenge

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Write about a personal habit such as biting your nails: when it began, the actual way you do it. Are you a cuticle chewer? Do you start at a corner and bite down as far as you can before continuing. Have people commented about it? Anything you can think of, go for it. Let yourself have a riff, an improv. And maybe, when you're finished, the habit will leave you like blown dandelion fluff.

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Tennessee Williams's, The Glass Menagerie, is a great play for rich characters, dialogue, and plot development. In a play, these factors are much clearer than in a novel or short story. And you can feel like a genius because you can read it in an hour or less!

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Of Gods and Men and Snoring

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My husband, son, and I went to see it today. This is a challenging movie for New Yorkers in constant motion. I'm posting this as 1:17 a.m. We all fell asleep, loudly, I'm afraid.

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Marrakech Medley

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“Oooh!” said Karen at art group, as she saw what I was drawing this week. The weather has turned colder over about the past 10 days and I’m back in my hat and gloves, just as I’d got out of them. To warm things up a bit, I have been inspired by a book I bought several years ago on a trip to Morocco, so cue something a bit – well - toastier.  So here we have a bellydancer, complete with purple background curtain. Exotic yet understated. I’m also planning to do some geometric designs, inspired by the Tombs of the Saadian Kings, in Marrakech.
I’ve continued with my triptych, and this week you can actually see the patterns as I’ve picked out the magenta parts, whereas last week, I’d only done the white bits, hence I didn't bother showing it to you then - you wouldn't have been able to see anything. Getting to and from art group with one wet oil painting, let alone three, has proved tricky, so this is one for home. The magenta was a new tube, and unfortunately all the oil seemed to have floated to the top end, because they are stored upright hanging from racks in the shop. I stirred it in but it meant that the paint was a bit thin and will need another coat – a job for later this week.
Elizabeth had returned from a cruise, which had warmed her up nicely, only to cool down again when she arrived back home. The Panama Canal had been an unforgettable experience, as had Alcapulco (I don’t know if she went “loco” there, in the words of the song – but perhaps she didn’t “stay too long”). She was working on a picture of Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland, which Gill has painted before.

I have a new link at the bottom of the page, Alistair Rice is (like me) from the UK but (unlike me, sadly) is young.  His blog gives his interesting and entertaining opinions on every subject under the sun.


Writing Challenge

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One of my students had recommended that I give a writing challenge every now and then. Write a letter to yourself, discussing your worst quality. Justify it, condemn it, analyze it. Whatever your pleasure!

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