Thursday, 30 July 2015

Just doing my job...

I am really enjoying my holiday. This week I have taken off every one of my commitments; no where to g, no one to see, just a chance to DO stuff in the house. I know I work what is laughingly called 'part time', but it really stops me getting things done. I miss whole days just pootling, or taking a sickie from supply to paint or decorate a room. Now I must really store up my plans to do during holidays, and I have done precious little over the last couple of years.

This year I want to get a lot done. I've started this week with the boys' room. It hasn't been decorated for 13 years, and they aren't the little children they were then, so a more adult approach to the room seems sensible.

Above is the before shot; blue walls and piles of everything. Don't get excited, the after doesn't look a lot different. I gave the lads the choice of colours, and they said they liked the colour it was, and why did I have to paint it at all? Duh.

Part way through. It's actually a darker shade than the one before, which is good, because it makes the white woodwork look better!
I paint using a brush, I prefer the coverage and the brush marks don't wind me up. I started on Wednesday at 10 am, and had the room 3/4 covered by the evening. (time is slow in their room because I had to keep stopping, moving furniture, cleaning and clearing clutter!)
Thursday another 3 hours of painting, separated by a run out to Dunelm Mill for more mature bedding (they had Thunderbirds, Star Wars and Doctor Who. Nuff said)
The run out was to allow the first coat to dry. I came in and started the second coat (and the second pot of paint) only to realise.... the paint was silk and not matt. Whoops.
So tomorrow (Friday) I shall drive off to B&Q for another pot of Sarong Blue paint in MATT finish and repaint the wall I had painted over before realising that it was shining, not because it was wet but because it was... well... shiny.

And the bedding is good. Silver fitted sheets and a Skandi duvet cover that has grey and yellow triangles. I have plans for establishing a proper housework schedule so that the washing, cleaning and tidying needed to run my house can be done by all of us, not just You-Know-Who. Taking time off to decorate has shown me that I need to make others capable of cooking and washing (definitely washing; I haven't touched it and the pile rises up the wall!) and I want to upgrade my bedroom next week, I can't risk nobody washing for two weeks running!

The boys room isn't finished yet. I'll be painting one last time, and then moving them in with shelves, books and clothes. Look out over the weekend, I will try and post a finished Ta Da!!!

Saturday, 18 July 2015

The Salt of the Earth

 I will apologise in advance for the length of this post; there's a lot of pictures and I can never just sum up things in a word or two. When Man invented so many excellent words and ways of saying things, why should we reduce it to a few terse interjections?

 And besides which, I have thank you s to say to my Yorkshire friends, without whose posts today might not have happened. I can't even remember who visited; I know Diane of Heart-Shaped did, but I'm sure somebody else did as well. Apologies. If it was you, comment below!

 The children (young adults) are with my Mum today as we have a weekend just a deux for a change. We like heritage and industrial history so when Mr AJ asked for suggestions, I said "Saltaire.". He hadn't heard of it before, so he looked it up, agreed it sounded good, and took me there.

The picture above is of the United Reform Church. Saltaire is a model village built by mill owner Titus Salt. He and his family are buried in the church, which is still an active part of the lived-in village. We got talking to an old lady who had bought one of the 5 bed houses 50 years ago for £950 and still worships there, so she volunteers to man the place so it can stay open to visitors.

 Meeting and talking to people happened everywhere in Saltaire. There was always a person happy to say hello and to talk, from the lady in the Information to the sweetest old retired teacher who approached me on the third floor.... more of her later.

And art. Good modern art, not really abstract art that needs a degree to understand. Visceral art, that makes you appreciate it, clever art. The installation above is a cotton reel for every woman who worked in the mill and recorded in the 1891 census. The artist, Caren Garfen, had embroidered the name, age and occupation of every working woman on very fine gauge linen. Some of them were as young as 11, and of all of them only 3 were married.  The artist had also embroidered a reel for each married woman, listing the number of children, but these were separate from the wall art installation.

Saltaire had a lovely park, where we sat and watched the game. Summer afternoons are built for relaxing, after all. 

But the biggest revelation of Saltaire was the free to enter gallery with Hockney paintings. The collection is called The Arrival of Spring and is a series of paintings created between 1st and 31st May 2011.

They are not made using paint, nor brushes, pens or ink. Oh, no. These paintings are truly impressively created using the ipad.

Yes. The I PAD. And a stylus and a programme. David Hockney sat in his car and drew and painted using modern technology.

And I really like them. They're not like paintings or pastels, where sometimes you go close to see the techniques or brush strokes, or drawings where you are looking at the interaction of graphite and the texture of the paper, but something quite different.

Distance lends enchantment, the old saying goes, and these paintings need you to stand back and look. Until you know, until you go close and see the spray paint effect or recognise the limited palette it would be very hard to decide exactly what medium had been used.

Indeed, there were some postcards of Hockney watercolours on paper in the shop that had a bit of a look of the ipad work, a fore runner of these.

 Look at the colours, the vibrancy, the effects. I'm a sucker for snow, and the painting above has such a contrast between the monochrome snow and the trees here shining brown and gold.

I couldn't get a good shot of these two pictures straight on, just because of the windows shining onto the glass, but I loved the contrast in tone between them. I love the softened, misty, pastel quality of the picture on the left compared to the sharp, graphic clarity of the field scene. To think they were both created on something not much larger than an A4 sketchbook and then printed out is amazing.

It was as I was looking at these that a little old lady approached me. She lived in Huddersfield, she said, but had a caravan near Bridlington, where Hockney lives and paints. She wanted to tell us that she had gone on a search to find the lane where these were done, and had found the ruin of wall.
She had also gone to the artist's house to deliver a letter and met the man himself, "Not driving himself, of course, but I told him, I said 'You need to display some of your paintings up here, where you come from.' " She was lovely to talk to, she had studied art way back in her past and then gone into primary school teaching. Now, she said, she didn't paint any more. "Bad hands," she whispered, "and then every wall in my house is full and all my friends have paintings. I tried to sell a few, but they are so hard to sell..."

I suppose die-hard purists would argue that these are not paintings, strictly speaking, or that the limited palette lacks the versatility of pen or paints, but I don't agree.

I've only used simple note apps or easy paint programmes on pc, but I appreciate the ability and skill that goes in to the work. Yes, he hasn't used pencils or paint and, yes, the eraser facility means any mistakes could be taken away, but if you've ever used a drawing app on your phone you know how controlled and skilful you need to be.

That a man in his seventies should so willingly and beautifully embrace modern technology is a lesson to us all. That he still pushes the envelope without needing to shock, offend or use tricks is really impressive. I love the picture above, with the wild garlic and the trees beginning to fill out. It makes me want an ipad (or android tablet) and to have a go myself.

I don't know how long the exhibition is there for, so you may need to ring and check before you go. And if you would like to read more about David Hockney, I enjoyed the information on this web page, part of a San Francisco gallery's programme for an exhibition last year.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

The Summer Reading Challenge 2015

I set myself a challenge; to read 2 books a week in the summertime. This is my list; wish me luck!

Monday, 13 July 2015

Thank you for my RAK!

This post goes out to Crafty Northerner who has sent me a care package, a most beautifully wrapped and delivered little parcel of joy.

Thank you, most beautiful lady, for this act of kindness!

I love the knitted.... strip. I think it might be supposed to be a bookmark? But I'm going to sew up the two sides and make a usefully sized holder for some more stuff in my bag.

I love the polka dot badge. I have a bag already marked out to carry this symbol of friendship.
And the pink socks with blue hearts are very cute. I think a certain daughter already has her eyes on them so they may not last long in my ownership!!

But cutest of all are the stickers, with the woodland creatures. I have pages ready for these in my planner already! And finally the yellow striped straws, proper paper straws. I am going to break these open on Thursday 22nd July when I am at last and OFFICIALLY on holiday!!!

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Thank you so much Sally, I am so blessed to have friends in the blogosphere. Your RAK is very much appreciated!

If you would like to receive a RAK, love passed on around the world, please leave a comment below and I will pick 2 names at random to delight with a parcel of care at an unspecified time and date!!!

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Dolce far Niente.... prego!

The last few weeks at school are always a mad race. I'm finding that between actual timetabled work, the extra time I give because time is so short and my extra curricular lessons I give from home, apart from everyday life as a wife and mother, that my life is beginning to resemble one of these;

And I don't do well when life gets like that. I don't do multi tasking. I just stop.

So the time has come, dear readers, to apologise again and to say that I shall be here again come September in a regular rhythm and pattern of writing, reading and responding, but that this summer I am practising the art of Dolce Far Niente. I haven't read Eat Pray Love (yet) but this might be the summer that I do. I intend to blog less and to do Instagram instead as a quick, easy and immediate form of journalling. My posts will always need to be #keepingitreal because I don't do pretty (ever) but if any of you are on Instagram and fancy spotting me over there, I'm on as angeljem5. Please drop by and say hi.

If you fancy dolce-ing some far niente, then this article by Courtney Carver, How to Cultivate Dolce Far Niente is the one that started me off. To read Eat Pray Love click here and to watch it, click here.