Category Archives: Art

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…



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.


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??




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?




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