Tuesday, March 31, 2015

New shoes!

I got some spiffy vintage shoes! So I had to customise them, naturally. These will be my birthday gift to myself. They're awaiting the just-right-perfectly-suitable laces. 

If you think these are spiffy and you'd like your own custom pair of awesome canvas shoes you can order them through my website:

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Not *exactly* a London journal entry...

Last year I set my sights on Belfast. I decided I really wanted to finally get there, given I've been living the UK for ages now and it's silly that I've not been to Northern Ireland yet.

It didn't happen last year and I determined that this year I'd definitely get there, for sure - no matter what. I had a few possible weekends when it could happen but have to admit I didn't think the decision to go would come the week before it happened. Oh the joys of spontaneity!

And oh the joy of realising that the Giant's Causeway was only an hour and a bit to drive to from Belfast.

So this past weekend I stomped around Finn McCool's Causeway and delighting in all the vibrant colours of the seaside combined with the absolute wonder of nature.

Not to mention a fantastic educational jaunt to the architecturally majestic Titanic Museum.

Fantastic sculpture depicting unity and peace. 

Love street art like this. 

The very cleverly designed Titanic Museum - it's amazing how much they fit in there. 

Sculpture of Titanica

Street artist's sand sculpture. Very impressive! 


The absolute wonder of the Giant's Causeway

Love the purple seaweed

Stunning. :)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

This very moment - Dharma Series

'This Very Moment'
A4 gouache on bristol board
Prints and original available: www.faunawolfcreation.com
In one of her many talks Pema Chodron tells this story about having a lot of anxiety bubbling up for an extended period of time. It was relentless and she kept sitting with it and working with it and finding that it just wouldn't go away, so eventually she went to her teacher and told him about what was going on. 

Her teacher was very receptive and had a lot of questions. He wanted her to really go into great detail about the sensation, where it was, what it felt like, did it have a texture or a taste? She described it for him as intimately as she could and then he clapped and said, "Ah! That's the Dakini bliss!" 

This was the first and only reference to a Dakini I had heard in all my study and practice until a few months ago. In Pema's story she goes on to say that she realised that bliss did have the same intense qualities as the anxious feeling she was describing and she was eager to get back to meditation - but when she did the feeling had gone because her resistance to it had gone. 

I thought Dakini was just a Tibetan word for an an emotion or something. In September last year I learned just what, exactly, a Dakini was. 

In fact, pin-pointing the ‘what’ is a bit of a challenge as the Dakini comes in many forms, but the essence is she is a representation of wisdom in female form. Although even that is an over-simplification from what I’ve learned thus far. 

I am the very fortunate owner of a signed copy of Dakini’s Warm Breath by Judith Simmer-Brown and I’ve been dipping in and out of it for some weeks now. I’ve also found Dakini stories popping up in talks I’m listening to by various teachers. My understanding of the Dakini is that they show up when you’re ready for them. 

This piece itself was one of those ones that was entirely unplanned. I sat down to sketch one evening and found myself drawing a Dakini. I decided to paint her using gouache, something I’ve not worked with in some time, and the words came to me during this process. 

I do feel this is just the first of many I will create as I continue my Dharma series. I also want to delve deeper into the words and why I chose them but at this moment I'm finding a total lack of flow in that regard. I will revisit the topic as the whole practice of life and experience as teacher is something I'm coming to appreciate more and more every day. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

To Terry Pratchett - No one is ever gone when they are not forgotten

Here's to Terry Pratchett - arguably my favourite author of all time. 

I never met him but I feel like I've lost a dear friend. He made me laugh. Often. Loudly. Until tears streamed down my face.

He also inspired me as a writer. He inspired me to be creative and clever and imaginative. He inspired me to think outside the box and write my characters until they felt like solid, real people I might one day meet.

He also taught me a lot. He taught me about politics and literary history, about geography and philosophy, about plays and poetry. About life. 

I am grateful to have lived in his time, to have grown up reading his stories and to know that I can visit him again whenever I want by picking up Mort or Wyrd Sister or Hat Full of Sky or The Hogfather or Snuff or Equal Rites or any number of others - it's nearly impossibly to pick a favourite.

Here's to a man who wrote about the weirdos and the freaks and the little guy and the oppressed in an alternative world of his own imaginings.

Thank you, Terry, for sharing your imagination so skillfully and with such grace and talent. 

The world is better for having had you in it. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

My Little Painting Challenge entry

There's a competition going on right now through the BBC called 'The Little Painting Challenge'. One does not have to actually paint something as the challenge states that drawings are accepted as well, but the idea is that anyone can submit a work of art with one of the post cards they have available in most libraries or in copies of RadioTimes.

I've made my entry! Inspired by a small child I saw at Borough Market a few weeks back. It was a fun little weekend project and I'm quite happy with my feisty little fairie.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Water dragon...

Sketched design

Traced onto leather...

All cut out! 

Adding the detail.


I should be painting this pretty soon. I'll also have the design available in my webshop alongside the fire dragon design already available.

Feel free to post suggestions for design to my Facebook page or, if you want something custom, you can order it through my website.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Amazing mask tool!

When I first dove into leather mask making all the people in the instructional videos I was watching talked about having a plastic face mould for shaping the masks with. They proported that they were 'cheap and available at all major craft stores'. As is sometimes the case this was better rounded out with '...in the USA'. 

As soon as I began collecting supplies for my new-found and rapidly favourite new art project I discovered that a hard plastic flat-lying face was not to be sourced in the big smoke, nor anywhere else on the island, the neighbouring continent or indeed anywhere outside of the US of A. By the time I did finally find a source that shipped outside the US it was the sort of 'international' shipping that actually meant 'We also ship to Canada'.

Fortunately I happen to spend a lot of time in Canada what with my family and most of my favourite people residing there, so over Christmas I ordered some of these elusive items to be delivered to my parent's house.

Well I FINALLY got to play with them! And the result is amazing! 

Gone are the days when I applied a piece of leather that had recently been immersed in extremely hot water directly to my face to fumble blindly over it in a mirror at close range because one can't wear glasses when one is moulding leather with one's face.

Observe! A wonderful tool to increase my productivity and significantly lower the stickiness and risk of burn that previously plagued my mask making.

All ready for immersing with the semi-eerie white mould awaiting

Ta da! It's the simple things in life that bring me joy

Oh yes, and if you like these masks and you want to support an artist (because contrary to popular belief, we do like eating) you can buy them through my site! 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Bethlam Museum of the Mind - London Journal

  1. 1a scene of uproar and confusion.
    "there was bedlam in the courtroom"
    synonyms:uproar, pandemonium, commotion, mayhem, confusion, unrest, furore, upheaval, hubbub, hurly-burly, turmoil, riot, ruckus, tumult, disarray, turbulence
  2. 2
    an institution for the care of mentally ill people.

The Bethlam Royal hospital was founded in 1247 and originally called The Bedlam Hospital. This is where the modern term 'Bedlam' came from and it's believed to be the world's oldest mental health institution. 

Recently, thanks to Lottery funding, they updated their museum and art exhibition, moving it to a single building. The hospital itself is still in operation and the museum sits on the grounds, which are expansive and not unlike a university campus - full of brick buildings spaced far apart - with the noticeable exception of security fencing around certain areas. 

Bedlam had a reputation and mental institutions of old are 'known' for being archaic in their treatment of mental illness - but the modern-day hospital has left those days behind. Patients are far more involved in the treatment they get and the hospital fosters an environment of self-expression. One way they do this is by offering space for patients to create art and the Bethlem Museum has an exhibition of work by current and past residence. 

The museum part of it documents the rather sordid history of mental illness care but not in some gruesome way. It's very enlightening to see how far we've come and consider that, whilst stigma is still rampant and mental illness still compartmentalized as separate from physical illness, we have a far better understanding of how the mind works. There is also a humbleness and awareness of how little we do understand and that mental health needs to be approached holistically and on an individual basis. 

The entire place was really incredible to explore and I, personally, feel it is one of the best museums I've ever seen. 

Sketches by artist Steph Bates

Various sketches over many years by artist Dan Duggen 
Sculptures and sketchbooks by Sue Morgan 
Statue on the ground floor leading to the museum

Artist not identified - incredibly detailed and fascinating painting
depicting a skull come 'unstitched' with interesting 'memories' or 'experiences'
captured in the different compartments. 

Stunning and intricate piece by Vonn Strop.
Would love to have it in my own home. The sort of thing one could get lost in for hours.