Apologies for being M.I.A.

Well, in contrast to my cynical and perhaps vaguely depressing post of  a couple of weeks ago, we have here in Ayrshire been gifted with a few WEEKS of something that resembles Summer – at least to our sun deprived, rickets ridden selves.

I have spent vast quantities of my time outdoors, alternately savouring my blissful surroundings and running away from things that buzz or have eight legs – nature for me is a double edged sword. Sure flowers and sunshine and bunnies are great and I could spend forever sitting in one of the nearby fields watching the hares race around leaving dust clouds in their paths…I just have to take a chair to sit on to avoid mimicking a Jack in the Box every thirty seconds.

I can’t help having this fear of spiders, I so wish that I could. It’s irrational and limiting, but unfortunately I think it’s here to stay. I don’t beetles or earwigs or really anything else – but spiders are just downright terrifying. And how sad it really is, to be afraid of a creature just going about it’s business, struggling to survive. How sad to avoid camping or picnics for the sake of these little guys, completely oblivious to our fears and harsh views of them. But alas, all I can do is live in hope that someday I can overcome all this… or at the very least develop a less embarrassing squeal and run.

I haven’t drawn a great deal either this past week or so. I go outside armed with sketchbook and pens and watercolours, taking note of all the beautiful things that I pass  with intent of stopping to draw one of them, but I never do. It isn’t laziness or shyness or even that I don’t want to – it’s just an unshakeable feeling of inadequacy. In my room, or even in a cafe or other building I feel I can draw something well enough to at least capture it in my own style, sure it’s imperfect, and sure I’m no master at it (actually a lot of the time, I’m far from even being competent), but I feel like I can record what I’m seeing in ‘my world’ in ‘my own language’ if you will. But outside, surrounded by nature’s masterpieces, I take out my little book and ball point – myself  just one tiny little speck in nature’s great landscape – I gaze all around me, and wonder at the tremendous beauty and enormous scale of everything, and then realise that I’m not even fit to attempt to draw this. There is no line on paper that I could make, no watercolour I can mix, that could do any of this justice.

I hope that as I grow as an artist, I will feel more able to draw the trees and flowers and animals that surround me, but for now I really am content to be out there among them, observing. And when faced with sunsets like this on a regular basis, how could anyone not want to be out there?:

I think it will be along time before I feel up to painting this!

And yes, I do know that I could be still doing things inside. But honestly, as much as I love art, and my journal after finishing a very stressful year at college it’s been nice to have a little time off from it all, though I do miss it everyday. So here is one I did inside…rapidly and whilst staring out the window longingly!:

Inside drawing it or outside eating it on a barbeque... hmmm tough one!

Oh, and as a final side note, I be you’re all (all two of you) eager to hear how I’m getting on with slack lining? (What do you mean you never read that post???) Well I’m not making much progress to be honest – take the same three or four steps and fall off each time. Normally I can kind of hop off at least, but occasionally I end up face first in the dirt. Yey. As frustrating as it is my enthusiasm and determination are unwavering and I think this will be something that will be with me for a long time – unless of course I develop freaky butch legs or worse… cankles!

So that’s all for now, I’m off back out into the sunlight to enjoy it while it lasts…

Kitty

 


Ahmed at Adobe; My New Best Buddy

Well today, for the second morning in a row I was wakened before 8am with a call from the lovely Ahmed. 

I do worry that this post, like yesterdays, seems awfully British: are we ever happy?

I mean I yearn for better customer service here, for sales assistants to receive the apparently necessary speech therapy to allow them to form words rather than grunts and for Argos to take a good, long look at itself in the mirror and realise it’s not the store it used to be. I have lost count of how many times recently I have emailed companies and received no reply, not even a mass generated one, or how long I have spent listening to crackly, unheard of 80’s music as I hold patiently, my call being passed back and forth over oceans and continents only to be sooner or later disconnected – usually when the company realises the problem is theirs and that they will have  to do something about it. I feel tears of frustration welling up in my eyes as I remember all of this…

So my wake up calls from Ahmed should be a relief, no?  Well… yes and no.

They had been phoning me for a few days and I was genuinely missing the calls because frankly I refuse to move my phone around the house with me like a newborn baby, ever listening out for it’s cries for attention. I only knew it was them because I called the number back and was put through to the Adobe help line, despite all six of the calls coming from different numbers – Adobe; stealth phonecalls.

So yesterday morning laying in bed my phone rings and the number is withheld – normally I avoid these like the plague because the only withheld number calls I get are sales calls, Orange mobile and my sister (just kidding Jens), but of course with it being 0717 in the morning the part of my brain responsible for making these decisions is switched off along with basically every other section, except whichever part controls breathing, thankfully.

I answer and Ahmed introduces himself and says he is phoning because he’s just emailed me my serial number and have I had a chance to use it yet?

Why no Ahmed I have not, I have not actually had a chance to open my eyes fully or take a wiz yet this morning so you can see why I have not yet booted up my laptop, logged into my email and began typing codes into software.

No problem says he, I just wanted you to know it will work.

Super.

I’ll give you my email here at Adobe, any questions and you send me a message and I will call you.

Super.

Click.

I spent the rest of yesterday feeling faintly guilty about the whole thing, because unlike a  lot of people who dislike talking to people in foreign call centres, I love it! I love talking to people in all different times and seasons and moods, it fascinates me a bit – one of my odder hobbies probably. Long ago I stopped thinking of them as employees of whatever corporation and started talking to them like people, asking about the weather, their day, just anything that makes the experience more human and less like a.. well like a recurring nightmare frankly.

Highlights of my experience include a 40 minute phone call to Sanjay to help fix my internet, it was a rainy day there and really getting him down. I could relate. By the end of the phonecall I had him saying “awesome” and shouting “Well done Katty!!!”

Also “Holly” based in China (debatably not her real name methinks…) who, in between printing my UPS packing labels, was counting down the minutes until the end of her shift because she had a date that night .

Sure every so often you get someone who has no interest and probably regards my questions as rude, suspicious or worse, but mostly they react brilliantly, as most of us do, to some honest, human communication.

So as my phone rang this morning at stupid o’clock I smiled and answered with a “Good morning Ahmed, that code you sent is working perfectly”.

He’s having a good day but can’t wait to finish work because the weather is lovely,and he’s an outdoor person. And you know what – maybe it’s just me, but I do sleep a little better for knowing that.

Kitty


Blink and you’ll miss it…

I am of course referring to the elusive, mysterious and often downright absent Scottish Summer here…

Well, yesterday we had Summer. Warm, windless, wonderful and a one off. Cynical? Me? No way!

I should start off by explaining that I do not live for Summer, far from it – I have always regarded myself as a winter person, I have a love for snow so intense my enthusiasm is only shared by Lorelai from The Gilmore Girls … and probably polar bear cubs:

I could have snow 365 days of the year and be a little happy eskimo, but alas, snow here is a ten minute affair that people regard as a constant nuisance… until it melts completely half an hour later.

And that brings me to the real issue I have with the Scottish weather – the utter unpredictability of it. Let’s say in a 365 day year you know it’s going to snow about three times. But when? It could be any time between October and April – and if it snows over night or while you’re at work, forget it. It will be completely gone before you’re able to go outside and enjoy it! And if you’re trying to catch Summer, well that’s even harder: I would avoid going to see any particularly long films in the cinema in case the whole thing happens while you’re in there…

So, as I mentioned prior to that delightful and typically British rant, yesterday was Summer. I was home alone, with no plans, nowhere to go and nobody to go anywhere with… but I would not be deterred! Summer is always a busy day I find, trying to squeeze as many of the seasonal activities in as possible. For example I started yesterday by sitting with the door open in the kitchen (Summery thing one) while posting on an internet forum about how hot it is (Summery thing two) and eating fruit for breakfast (Summery thing three). I then put on some cropped trousers (Summery thing four), sat in the backgarden (Summery thing five) and while applying suntan lotion with one hand (Summery thing six) used the other hand to eat a Mars Bar Icecream (Summery thing seven). I could go on, but I imagine that’s quite enough!

I had, admittedly, ulterior motives for sitting in the back garden, my beautiful cat Smudge. Bless her little white toes, but we’re not sure all the lights are on up there and I do worry about her outside in the heat and her complete lack of understanding about sun, shade, water, why not to try and eat bumble bees… even the birds seem to be getting one over on her at the moment as they bathe and then shake the ice cold water off their wings and on to her! So like I said, this way I could supervise her… and make a few gesture sketches also:

Not the best, but she really is a fidget!

Then, because I was enjoying the sunshine so much I did some other sketches out in the back garden:

Sightly distorted by the camera, the sun in my eyes, and my lack of ability to persevere with perspective

Long awaited, precious outdoor time!!!

It’s something I enjoy very much as an artist – drawing outside. I have spent many a February morning huddled outside with four pairs of fingerless gloves, three coats, several hats and icicles hanging from my nose, in a desperate attempt to capture the outdoor world around me. But these rarely work – either it rains, two of my fingers fall off or the police ask me to “move on” again (which is strange and rather offensive!), so days like yesterday where I can truly sit at peace and try hopelessly to capture the great beauty of everything around me mean a great deal to me indeed.

In the evening I also embarked on a new Summer adventure – an outdoor sport! (Anyone who knows me will be curled up with laughter at the moment.) I decided to try slacklining with a friend who spent the whole evening … curled up with laughter. I am bad at it. I mean reeeeeaallly bad! For anyone who is interested in what slacklining is or how it should be done check out this kid:

VERY talented slackliner kid (embedding was disabled)

To put in in perspective of how hard it is, after two solid hours I am nowhere near able to even get onto the thing unaided, let alone stand on it or move! But then I probably should have figured that with poor balance and no muscle strength this probably wasn’t the sport for me! Still I refuse to be beaten – especially by inanimate objects and will try again if the situation presents itself!

I enjoyed myself anyway, just being outside, seeing doggies and getting eaten alive by midges felt like a true Summer experience – even if I was wearing two hoodies whilst doing it!

So as today dawned grey and drizzly and the cats returned to refusing to go out in it, I was satisfied at least in knowing that I made the best of Summer while it lasted. Now if you don’t mind I’m off to make a mug of Horlicks and find a fleecy blanket…

Kitty

 

How do you plan to spend Summer? Ever tried slacklining? Can you think of any sport that might be better suited for me (translated = less likely to injure me)? Any thoughts on how to prevent my cat from frying like an egg in the sun? Please feel free to leave a comment!

 


The Frustration of Creation

This week, after months of berating, bargaining and basically bullying, my lovely Mum caved in and took her first steps into the world of visual journalling! 

The conversation that finally broke her was surprisingly deep:

MUM: “I just don’t have a creative bone in my body!”

KITTY: “That’s because creativity isn’t a bone, it’s a muscle that needs to be stretched and flexed to be kept strong and alive.”

Where that moment of wisdom came from, I have no idea, to say the least it was very out of character! But it worked and on Friday June 24th my Mum and I sat and drew together for the first time since I was about three. It was a wonderful experience… at least for me.

Before starting I had asked her to read Danny Gregory’s amazing “Everyday Matters” which I feel best sums up the spirit of visual journalling in a way that my mum could relate to. I also showed her online at Flikr some of the fantastic work that gets uploaded there. All of this provided her with inspiration and lit a fire under her so hot she wanted to start NOW… this was great – until that initial wall of frustration sets in.

It happens the first time we do anything new, but I think in a situation like this where a person is really out with their comfort zone, the insecurity and feeling of inferiority can be extra intense. Nevertheless she has stuck with it for three days and I have everything crossed that she will beat that initial creative block and start to have some fun – something she claims she has forgotten how to do!

In terms of my journalling this week it’s been quite uneventful. Despite being out in coffee shops three times over the course of the week I only managed one feeble “out of the house” sketch:

A poor drawing effort at a pretty poor coffee shop!

It’s just a bad habit I suppose. I know it isn’t fear or shyness… so is it just a lack of commitment? Distraction? Laziness? I’m not sure, but it’s certainly on my list of things to remedy – I’m not happy with every journal page being produced at my desk or the kitchen table, not when there’s a whole wide world out there waiting to be drawn!

I finally worked up the nerve to use my lovely tin of Derwent Inktense pencils this week that have been sitting intimidating me (and gathering dust) since I received them as a gift at Christmas time. It’s not that I wasn’t sure what to do with them or anything – I just love when pencils are brand new, all the same length, all perfectly shaped leads… aaaaaaah, bliss. Silly you think? Tell that to the beautiful unopened set of Winsor and Newton watercolours sitting in my desk drawer! ( I can’t even bring myself to unwrap the little watercolour blocks!)

Anyway, I really enjoyed using these Inktense pencils. I thought the colours were incredibly vibrant which was a great thing when it came to drawing my sewing box:

My insect covered nostalgia filled box

Initially the questions one might be tempted to ask when looking at this are: Why are all the insects upside down on the box? or, What on earth happened with the text at the top of the page? But actually, here’s a much more pressing question: Why do I have a sewing box when I don’t sew. At all. Ever. Couldn’t even reattach a button. Well basically this box houses my Grandmother’s button box. She passed away long before I entered this world but I always like stroking my hand through these buttons and taking a moment to think of her once in a while. And to be honest, to wonder what she would think of me as a granddaughter.

I am, to be frank, also experiencing the frustration of creation. Still with my text. Or inability to insert it nicely into any spread that I produce. To be honest what’s compounding the issue is that I am completely unaware of how to fix it. I gaze at people’s beautiful lettering, their quirky writing, their effortlessly charming fonts… and then I save all the images into an “inspiration folder” and cry looking through them, feeling so utterly inadequate. I think a part of my problem is that I do everything with ballpoint pens. I love love love drawing with them, and am happy to continue doing so at this stage in my life (because I’m broke!). But I wonder if using a fancier pen  with nice quality ink would help my writing any? Or would it just add a £10 price tag to my feeling of hopelessness? I guess it requires some research and frankly, I’m open to trying anything at this point.

I have also started using the awesome EDM challenge list, working through them starting at #1. Ideally I’d alternate between using the list one day and working from my own ideas the next… but, as if I’ll ever be that organised/disciplined! I’m enjoying doing some proper drawing again, which is ironically, something we did very little of at college! Experimental drawing yes, but old school sit down and observe stuff, no. Here’s my favourite “proper drawing” that I did on Saturday:

Chunky, Shiny, Awesome-y

It’s a necklace that’s huge and so so original! I got it at a little stall at a fundraising event and am so glad I came across it! Though that is the problem with volunteering for a charity at events like these – there are always other stalls full of tempting goodies! I end up spending a fortune!

So that’s all for just now, thanks again to everyone who takes the time to read this.

Kitty

Any comments or feedback on this post? Any recommendations for pens I could try? Do you know of any support groups that could help me with my fear of brand new art supplies?  


Look! A New Journal Page… I wasn’t Making it all up Honest!!

Well it’s a bit shocking that four posts into a blog that is primarily about Journalling there hasn’t really been a post about it, except you know, a very very brief overview. But here we go…

Recently I’ve been seized with the urge to chop, sautee, whisk, fry and flambé… along with, no doubt, some burning, scraping, charring, frazzling and flinging out – but that’s besides the point! It started really about a month ago when Brian went back to work – all of a sudden I just wanted to don an apron and be able to whip up treats at any hour of the day for him or anyone else who would be willing to take their life in their hands. And all of this is coming from the 20 year old who can’t proficiently boil an egg.

 

Cooking/baking has always been something I’ve meant to get around to. Unfortunately it’s just loitered down at the bottom of the to do list for a long time, kept there by other things like pass exams, pass more exams, oh yeah  pass those exams too and complete every Pokemon game that has been released for the Gameboy (which I have still yet to do!). My Dad cooked when we were kids. We were totally spoilt by being presented with a home cooked meal every night – I just assumed this was normal and that somehow, when the time came, I would magically be able to whip up all of these meals too. Well, the time came a few years ago when my parent’s separated and it was suddenly just my equally hopeless in the kitchen sister, my very busy hard working mum and me. It took us a few months or so of toast, but we got there – or rather my mum did. Sidetracked by college work I was kept from achieving my culinary potential… until now!

 

For some reason I’ve started with baking – I think it offers me the thrill of the crack of an egg and the gentle dusting of sieved flour without the pressure of making “real food”. So I’ve been trying to find some very easy recipes – although what is easy when you can’t boil an egg?  I like Nigella’s stuff because she uses short sentences and I only have to Google about four words per recipe! So far I’ve tried two – cereal bar things which never set, had to be eaten with a spoon and had a mysterious chalkiness to them, and the far more successful Banana Milky Bar Muffins.

 

Banana Milky Bar Muffins are an alteration of her Banana and Butterscotch Muffins because I couldn’t get a hold of any butterscotch! They’re easy and quick to make and a great way to use up past edible bananas that usually just lie there sobbing for a few days before inevitably getting trashed.

 

So… here’s where the art comes in. (Finally! I hear you say!) What I have decided to do is to create a journal page for each recipe I try and like. This way I won’t have to flip through endless recipe books to find the recipes I like and it means I can re-write the instructions in ways that make more sense to me and remind myself of things so I don’t keep making the same mistakes over and over again (i.e. preheating the oven is all good Kitty, but try to remember to actually set the timer when you put them in!). I also hope that by making art about cooking it might make it more appealing to me somehow, joining together my new interest with my long time raison d’etre.

 

So here is my page about the muffins:

I like the image of the muffins – mostly anyway. I had originally wanted them to be a little more formed and to have some nice contrasting blues in the background, but to be honest I don’t really mind that that changed, that’s just creative development. What really bugs me here, and in so many of my pages, is the writing. As usual I spent quite a while on the image and was happy with it, then, late at night when I’m uber sleepy I decided to “just put the text in” and ruin the whole thing! I really need to work on my writing styles but to be honest I don’t really know how to go about it! It’s frustrating to be honest. I look at all these beautiful pages on Flikr and in books and these incredible and varied writing styles and I just can’t seem to make myself do it! I’m sure I’ll get there some day, but I do feel like I’m making no progress with it and I would really welcome some feedback or direction from people!

 

Anyway, I’m off to go and see if I can find a recipe for carrot cake – I fancy having a bash at that next. Is that easy? Do I have to use nuts? Does carrot cake have raisins in it??

 

Kitty

 

Do you have any foolproof recipes you’d like to share? Any tips on how I can improve my text – writing excersises, books I could read? Or any other comments, suggestions or feedback?

 

 

 


Prom… Not Mine of Course!

Well it was my “baby sister”‘s prom on Monday night. Scary stuff.

I didn’t go to my prom for a variety of reasons, chief among them were the fact I hate dresses and overly formal affairs… well, that and basically I’m relatively certain that nobody in my year actually wanted me there! I thought proms were over the top, materialistic, shallow, flashy, uneccessary and much worse than that!

For people who have not had the joy of going to a recent Secondary School Prom themselves, or watch someone close go through it here’s a Reader’s Digest explanation for you. It’s Huge. What? A little too brief? Okay, well, think America. Think limousines and one of a kind dresses, corsages and photographers, tears and well… tears. The preparation and the stress these young girls (and possibly the boys… though I doubt it) go through is enormous and watching my sister I actually began to wonder if it was worth all the stress and drama.

That was until I saw her all ready in her dress. Hair all pinned up, makeup done, shoes on and hands shaking with nerves and excitement. I felt the importance of it for the first time and I stopped making jokes about “why can’t they just have a disco in the school hall?”. I understood that it was not just one last party and a way relax and say goodbye to friends who will soon be departing for Universities and scattered over the country.  I could see now that it was a rite of passage – maybe too materialistic and showy – but still, a rite of passage into adulthood where they would dress, eat and dance like the “grown ups” society would now expect them to be. it wasn’t just goodbye to a school and to friends, but goodbye to their childhood’s and the only life they’ve known so far.

As we got her all ready to go (in a blind panic, no time to be thinking any of these deep thoughts then!) I wish I had taken just a moment (yeah, like I had any control over it) and taken a photo of her here, at home with me and with her mum. To record this moment, this important transition in her life, and in ours. But alas, the champagne reception and more importantly the boyfriend was waiting so the only photos I could take of her were at a house I’d never been to, with people I had never met.

Artistically they are sub par – I think my nerves were rattled with all the preparations! I wish I had had time to capture her mood and what she was going through, to freeze this moment in time. But no. All I could get were some stiff and rough shots that document little more than a dress and a smile – nothing of what’s behind it. My beautiful baby sister.

So here she is, in a few of my better shots. All grown up.

The attaching of the corsage

Caught off guard

 

Nervous but excited

 

My favourite shot

 So there it is, another chapter closes. 

I must admit the artist in me was ever present – as I saw them all in their dresses all I wanted to do was paint them! Maybe I can get Jens to put her’s back on sometime and sit for me…

So on a strangely ponderful and unartistic note I’ll leave it here for tonight. The next post will be about art I swear!

Kitty


Journalling and I

I am a journal artist. I am. I am. I am.

It took me a long time to be able to say that, to refer to myself as a real artist and not finish it off with “but not really I’m only learning”. Sometimes I think I thought of artist’s as Gods too much – these mythical and infallible creatures – all the while forgetting that above all else what makes us artists, what we’re all expressing, is that we’re human.

I’ve been studying Fine Art at college for three years and was introduced to Journalling when I found a copy of Danny Gregory’s amazing “An Illustrated Life” floating around a classroom cupboard. I was hooked from that moment on – hooked before I even knew what it was I was drawn to, before I had even tried it, I knew this was it. What I had been looking for and what the college had never been able to show me, my passion in art. My “area”, my “thing”.

I have been journalling for a year and a bit, or, more specifically I have been journalling for this long:

The last year of my life

I’m proud of the progress I have made and that I have stuck with it: I am notorious for starting projects and never returning to them. But… I am not producing as much as I’d like to be, mainly because of my coursework at college. Despite being a Fine Art student I made the decision a long time ago that I would keep my Journalling as far away as possible from the college… I needed these books to be my happy place!

They are the place where I can play, experiment, escape the rules of the fine art world (that’s right folks there’s black paint and stickers in here) and just be ME. These books don’t exist to please anyone else, to tick any boxes or to “show off my skills”. They are from somewhere so much simpler than all of that.

That being said I have always been happy to share my books with anyone. Initially it did feel weird having a bunch of strangers reading what is essentially my diary but after not very long at all it became normal and I even enjoyed watching people go through them. Laughing with me, at me, whatever, it’s all good fun.

breakfast cake goes straight to your butt!

Declaring my love

So there we are, a bit more of a proper introduction made. I’m not sure about the size/quality of these images, so I may change things as posts progress. But anyway for now, I feel there’s a little more of myself in this blog, an incentive to keep going!

Gotta Jet!

(That’s from Flipper. God, d’you remember that film? How cute was Elijah Wood in it!? Not the dolphin, I am terrified of dolphins. Going to go and look at how much Flipper is on Amazon…)

 

‘Lil Kwalla

 


“All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost…”

Hello! Is there anyone out there?

Well, no not yet is probably the answer, but that’s okay! I’m not sure I’d actually want people witnessing my slightly humiliatingly confused entrance to the world of blogging. 

I’m Kitty, I’m 20 and I’m from Scotland. I’m hoping that my complete lack of technical skills here are a reflection of what things will be like after the Summer when I go to Uni and straight into the third year of a Digital Art Degree but we shall see!

Why am I blogging and what’s it all about I hear you asking, well I don’t know. Okay??? despite being an Art Student, I’ve always felt a writer at heart and while I can incorporate a lot of this into my visual art I do long for a verbal outpouring – not that I’m promising this will be any good!

I’ll be focusing mainly on art – my journals in particular – and also just a general blog with things from my point of view. My other big love in life is Walt Disney World, but I cannot see how I can combine those two subjects seamlessly… make art from Disney World…? nah!

So basically that’s it for now.. but I promise it will get better than this… just bear with me people!

For now,

LilKwalla


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.