Catching up with creative things

Having crossed quite a lot of things off my very long “to do” list I rewarded myself by shutting myself away for a few hours yesterday evening to catch up with some more of the lessons of the Sketchbook Skool class “Expressing” that was run earlier this year over a six week period. I’d done the first three weeks but then was in Spain with virtually no internet. I have to say that I really really enjoyed the class by Michael Nobbs and really like his “Sustainably Creative” website. I’ve been striving all of this year to be creative every single day and this is mostly working out – there have very, very few days when I don’t do at least something creative – even if it is just a few rows of my crocheted blanket work in progress.

Michael suffers with ME/CFS and he gives plenty of advice on staying creative when you have little energy (or time).

I’d already decided that as from 1st July i’m going to do a collage every day for the month – I will look upon this as my daily playtime 😀

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Beautiful Eriskay!

Lochboisdale Summer Market

Phew, Now that I have quite a few retail outlets, let alone here at my studio, I’m struggling to keep up with the cardmaking and printing of prints! And that’s apart from all the other work I have on at the moment (a couple of new websites for people in progress, some print work for another artist and some graphic design work for another client!). But, it’s a short tourist season here in the Outer Hebrides so I have to work flat out for a few months. It’s the same every year…

Thankfully at this time of year, this far north, it’s light until well after 11pm so i’m able to chill out and have a late evening walk if the weather is nice.

Midsummer Midnight

I received an invitation to participate in the Lochboisdale Summer Market which sounded like a good opportunity so I said yes. The market is at Talla Chidhe and will be open Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturday from the 29th June until the last day, 7th August which is actually a Sunday but is the day of the Ben Kenneth race – usually a really fun day 🙂

I went down today to set all my stuff up and the organisers had very kindly given me a table by the wall and the wall had a rail system for hanging a couple of framed prints.

The official opening of the market will be on Saturday so i’ll be down there for that. At other times the market will be manned by a variety of either staff or volunteers. I’ll post photos on Saturday or Sunday of the opening.

My daughter and her husband are due to arrive on the ferry from the mainland late on Saturday evening so i’m very excited about that – i’m looking forward to having lots of mother and daughter knit/crochet sessions 🙂 Kat wants me to teach her how to crochet so i’m sure that will be possible during the two weeks that they are here.

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Creative Every Day

Well, even though i’ve been away from home for over two months i’ve still managed to be creative every day. I wasn’t so active on the art side of things – I had taken a lot of painting and drawing supplies with me but I think I underestimated the amount of time that I would have for art!

Anyway, I took around 3,000 photographs (nearly all birds!) which I am still working my way through and also managed to crochet every day.

I was very systematic with the photographs – whatever i’d taken during the day I would sit at my laptop in the evening and go through the images, throwing out all the ones that I wasn’t totally happy with.

2016 is here!

Time to do my daily painting. I have to say here and now i’m not much of a painter but really want to improve, so here goes! I’ve signed up for the 30 Paintings in 30 Days challenge as run by Leslie Saeta. As inspiration I have also been reading the book Daily Painting – Paint Small and Often to Become a More Creative, Productive and Successful Artist by Carol Marine. I’m enjoying the book a lot, haven’t quite finished it yet.

I’ve decided that the first week will be devoted to experimental painting, I haven’t decided yet on themes for the following weeks.

Today’s painting is acrylic paint on 6″ x 6″ card and is really a kind of a loose sketch of something i’m working on that will be on a 20″ x 16″ canvas and in mixed media. It was me feeling my way into the work and trying different things. The final painting will no doubt be quite different but it was very useful to do a small version.

I was up early as always on the 1st January to spend the daylight hours birding, working on the year list. The weather was pretty grim, cold and windy but it has to be done. Ended the day on 53 species, the highlights being two Golden Eagles and three Snow Buntings.

Bit of a crummy phone pic – the waves looked way more impressive than this!

The crofter was busy on the beach collecting seaweed, it will be left in a big pile to rot then will be spread onto the crofter’s plot on the machair to fertilise his crops. This time of year there is always massive piles of seaweed after the winter storms – i’ve seen it 10 or more feet deep.

Storm Frank

Well I think we got off fairly lightly last night, storm Frank came and went, with a high gust of 65mph, power out for just a very short while but, thankfully, no damage to the house.

An afternoon spent doing some gelli printing for my Journey Book, chatting with my mum on Skype and a fabulous sunset late this afternoon to end the day – I had to run out and capture it with my phone.

Storm Frank, aftermath

Taking stock

During 2014 I signed up for an art degree, a distance learning course with the Open College of the Arts but that has currently gone by the wayside as 2015 has been a bad year for me. Late last year my best very dear friend was diagnosed with terminal cancer and I have spent many weeks with him during 2015, supporting and looking after him until his death on the 8th December. Advice received from another friend is “to try to focus on positives, whilst also being sad.” With this in mind, and remembering how art helped so much after I lost my son in 2003, I am working every day, making art.

Not everything was bad or sad about 2015, I was able to return briefly to the Camino de Santiago in September and walk for three weeks with my friends Jane and Peter, I had a week in Gibraltar with another girl friend and I have been able to visit with my lovely daughters and my parents.

So, I’ve had a sense all year of life being on hold and not too much art has been done, although what I created during the summer – mostly little mixed media works, made into cards and bookmarks – sold very well both here in the studio and at the local craft centre. 2016 is almost upon us and I will be kind and gentle to myself, not too much stress, and allow myself to paint and draw what I want, when I want. I will experiment, have fun and do something creative every day – whether that be painting, drawing, working in my sketchbook, photography or crocheting. With that in mind i’ve signed up for Leah Piken Kolidas’s Creative Every Day Challenge

Navarette to Nájera

Walk: Navarette -> Nájera 11.1 miles

A cool, breezy start to the day and I kept my fleece on for walking. A little rain in the air. Chatted with another peregrina with mashed up feet and who was under instruction to rest up.

Missed the optional route into Ventosa and so had to walk the long way round into the village as I knew P and J would be waiting for me there at a bar! Rehydrated with coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice and water.

Felt like a long slog into Nájera – my broken rucksack is taking it’s toll on my back. Did enjoy walking through the vineyards though and the contrast of the green vines and the deep red soil. Thought about dad – he would love these vineyards, his own grapes, in England, are not ready for picking yet.

Treated ourselves to a private room as it was only 15 euros each, although poor P still got lumbered with the top bunk – I did offer though! 🙂

Restored myself and my feet, sitting at a bar by the river, lovely drink of coffee. White Stork over and Cetti’s Warbler calling from the reeds and a little later 14 Griffon Vultures over – everyone else there seemed totally oblivious to all these. Blister on little toe 🙁

Hoped to have a meal out with P and J in the evening but the choices in the bar they chose were paella/risotto, pizza or pasta, none of which i’m able to eat. Could have gone to a shop and bought something but getting a bit sick of a constant diet of paté, cheese and ham. Went beyond hunger so didn’t bother – survived on cigarettes and coffee.

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Pilgrim’s poem, just outside Nájera

I believe the rough translation of this graffiti poem is:-

Dust and mud, sun and rain,
Such is the way to Santiago.
Thousands of pilgrims
And more than a thousand of years.
Pilgrim: who calls you?
What hidden power attracts you?
It’s not the field of stars
Nor the great cathedrals.

It is not the beauty of Navarra
Nor the wine of Rioja
Nor the seafood of Galicia
Nor the fields of Castilla

Pilgrim, who is it who calls you?
What unseen power attracts you?

Not the people of the camino
Nor their rural customs.
It is not the history nor the culture
Not the rooster of the Calzada
Nor the palace of Gaudi
Nor the castle of Ponferrada.

All that is seen in passing,
And it is a joy to see it all,
Is still less than the voice that calls
The feeling that is yet so much deeper.

The power that pushes me
The force that attracts me
I know not how to explain it.
Only He who is above understands it.

Viana to Navarette

Walk: Viana -> Navarette 7.8 miles

Actually not a bad night’s sleep on the two inch mattress – it helped that we had the room just to the three of us. Early morning coffee in the square opposite the albergue and watched the sun coming up as we waited for the bus to Logroño. Chatted with some American ladies, one of which had a badly infected toe and had already been laid up for two days and was under instruction for no more walking for four days.

A brief explore of Logroño – the wine festival is on – would have been fun to stay (I stayed here in 2013 during the wine festival and it was great!). Pretty warm walking and we’d had enough by the time we reached Navarette so checked into the municipal albergue which was very nice. A picnic tea in the albergue and Jane had an early night so P and I retired to the bar next door with glasses of 70 cents wine 🙂

Chatted with a young German guy who had a very wise head on his shoulders and was taking the walk very slowly. Today we have gone over the 100 miles of walking mark, woo hoo!

Lots of snoring people in the dormitory tonight but i’m too tired to care!

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One of the lovely brass waymarkers in Navarette

San Sol to Viana

Walk: San Sol -> Viana (8.2 miles)

I woke feeling quite dehydrated so P and J walked on and I visited the wee shop in San Sol for a can of soft drink then stopped a mile up the road at Torres del Rio for coffee, fresh juice and water. During the 7.5 miles walk to Viana my stomach felt uncomfortable and I feel quite tired. I think it’s the heat and lack of a decent meal – my diet is so restricted because of my ulcerative colitis.

The hotel in Viana was fully booked so i’ve plumped for a 2 inch thick mattress on the floor at the parochial albergue Santa Maria. No pillows either. It was J’s choice to stay here so P and I ribbed and teased her terribly but we all had a great laugh 😀

The back adjustment on my rucksack has broken so i’ve tied it up with string. Enjoyed my first pilgrim meal of the trip at the 3 forks restaurant Casa Armendáriz and very nice it was too!

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Trying out our mattresses for size…
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Wonderful stonework on the floor around the church in Viana

Monjardín to San Sol

Walk: Monjardín -> San Sol (12 miles)

A good walk into Los Arcos where we rested for a while, rehydrating and then onwards in the heat of the day as far as San Sol.

Nice private albergue and we joined the queue for the washing machine. A little limited on the food and drink options here but I had some supplies with me so no problem.

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The long road in to Los Arcos