Wednesday, 31 March 2010

One Hundred Days - no. 77

I'm so lazy today I can't even be bothered to clean this one up.

Elspeth Thompson

I made a quick search yesterday for more railway carriage houses and came across the beautiful home crafted by writer, gardener and all-round amazing lady, Elspeth Thompson. It was created on the Sussex coast from two dilapidated Victorian railway carriages and her ambition was to turn it into an eco-home, complete with a sedum roof, greywater recycling and solar panels. It truly has been a labour of love, and is more beautiful for its green credentials.

Sadly, however, I discovered on her blog that she passed away less than two weeks ago, having suffered from severe depression which resulted in her taking her own life. I really don't know how to express what this made me think - that life isn't about having the most amazing home, or an apparently enviable lifestyle. Thompson wrote beautifully and lived her life with such honesty and joy, and goodness - it makes me quite sad to think how it must have been blighted in the end by her illness, despite outer appearances. It makes me grateful for my own health and what I have, which is a wonderful husband and a beautiful home, exciting possibilities on my horizon and a lifetime ahead of me, I hope. I would love to conduct my life with as much grace as she did.

Read her obituary in The Telegraph here.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

One Hundred Days - no. 76

I'm sorry, I have nothing to say for myself today. I am already tiring of estate agents. Can't someone do it all for me, please?

Monday, 29 March 2010

One Hundred Days - no. 75

Gosh, suddenly I'm on 75!

I'm so listless today. I feel like we have a million things on our to-do list but have done none of them so far. I also sound like I'm talking about myself in plural, but I mean the husband and me :-)


I would love to be able to upholster my own chairs, I see so many at fairs and auctions that would be magnificent if only I knew how to fix them up. I have so far managed a piano stool - not difficult :-). I think I could do a few other things too, but when it comes to chairs like these from The French House (do take a look around their site for some lovely farmhouse tables and some nice industrial chairs), I wouldn't have a clue. I am sure they would turn out all saggy and wrinkled and then fall apart after the husband had been at them (he has a particularly damaging way of sitting, I think!). I rather like them in this skeletal, raw state, but how lovely would they be, covered with a nice stripe or a plain linen? I like simple fabrics from shops like Tinsmiths and Ian Mankin, and have a weakness for ordering free samples just so I can coo over them.

Anyone else fancy going on an upholstery course like The Traditional Upholstery Workshop in Wales? I think it sounds like the perfect way to spend a week.

One Hundred Days - no. 73, 74

Two for the weekend. I was busy cleaning and painting the outside of the house with the husband, making more soup, eating curry. It was hard work :-)

Friday, 26 March 2010

Railway carriages

I would love to have an outbuilding in my garden to use as a studio and hideaway. I would make it my own space, paint it pretty colours, furnish it with things I love. Right now I work in our spare room, which gets precious little light even on a bright day and is usually also occupied by a rack of drying laundry, piles of paperwork (I'm in the process of selling my London flat and I had NO IDEA how many questions I'd have to answer for the solicitors!), and plenty of electronic ware, all at risk from damage if I were to tip over my painting water. It is a chaotic dump. If I had an amazing space where I could have two desks and somewhere nice to lounge for frequent tea-drinking maybe I would keep it much better. Or maybe not. I'm an incurably messy girl and I hate to admit it.

I have seen a fair few old railway carriages in interiors magazines mostly used, like this one, as an outbuilding or summerhouse. They are always utterly beautiful, surprisingly spacious and ooze a very special vintage railway charm. This would do very nicely as a work space, but could inspire any interior with its loving preservation of detail and simple decor. From Light Locations.

One Hundred Days - no. 72

More from the football.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

I'm so sad

I am at a loss. I am bored to tears with work right now (animating tiny figures warming up for a game of cricket is soul destroying). But at the same time I appear to have vacated all interesting thoughts from my head. Perhaps I shouted a bit too hard last night and my brain fell out or something. Anyhoo, with nothing particular to tell you, I thought I'd have a play on Polyvore and collate a few bits of clothing you might wear on the hallowed terraces of White Hart Lane if, unlike me, you don't want to look like a fledgling thug in your Spurs scarf and shirt, wax jacket and lace-up black boots. OK, maybe a skirt is a bit soft for football - after all, I think you should go dressed like you want to karate kick someone in the chest. Your choice!

I had to, however, include an obligatory piece of chav bling (the SINGLE earring - I mean, really? Is that for a man to wear?), just to lower the tone to the right level. After all, part of the experience is eating dodgy fish and chips whilst watching the ticket touts and apprentice hooligans pass by. It wouldn't do to be too well turned-out. And of course the whole thing needs a pop of canary yellow to reinforce the message. My god, I'm sad (and bored).

Come on you Spurs
I even gave it the title Come on you Spurs just to make things worse.

Items in this set (as usual with no regard for whether or not one can buy them): Stripe Jersey Dress by Rare**, $90, Handbe-T Navy Vest, 40 GBP, Gemma button-down cotton skirt, $170, Striped cotton skirt, $165, Shoes -, $20.

Now I'm going to bury my head in the garden for shame.

One Hundred Days - no. 71

(click image for larger version) Some of the characters at the football last night, including the husband (I declined to draw myself in my wax jacket and thug boots... we looked like a pair of yokels come to town to pick a fight). COME ON YOU SPURS!!!!!! (sorry, I can't help myself)

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

vintage school posters

I'm a sucker for scientific collectables, from old microscopes, prosthetic eyeballs and medical equipment to opticians' charts and educational posters. I don't own much stuff like this because of my innate miserliness but I still like to look.

I was browsing Present & Correct this morning and spotted a few good things, including these posters. I especially like old charts that you imagine might once have adorned school science labs and classrooms, teaching the children, as they daydreamed and stared at the walls, about the life cycle of a frog, or what their urinary system looks like or how to use correct grammar. Speaking of grammar, I'm not too sure about Peter's Eggs there (£30, above) - I would always say 'fewer' eggs myself or am I wrong? Were they lying to me in English lessons at school? Whatever the case, it bothers me :-). But there is a good selection of these kind of posters at P&C, as well as lots of other papery goodness.

Fruit chart
, £75.

1950s eye chart, £100.

If your budget doesn't stretch as far as that you can get some pretty good ones on eBay sometimes, or try your luck haggling at antiques fairs. If you happen to be in Paris, I have seen some good stalls in the flea market, Les Puces de Saint-Ouen. Here are two I found on eBay just now:

Right, I'd better get on with some work!

One Hundred Days - no. 70

A quick one from yesterday. I am busy animating people throwing balls today... then I'm off to the football again. Since we will be moving north before September, I am cramming in as much White Hart Lane action as I can (sob!) while we live relatively close by. Pity me and my sad, boyish ways.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

One Hundred Days - no. 69

Reverse graffiti

Ever heard of reverse graffiti? I hadn't until I came across it yesterday on the Salvoweb blog and followed a link to this example in South Africa (above), inspired by other projects around the world, including this one in California (image below). I think it is a really beautiful way of making street art - I like it better than regular graffiti, which doesn't appeal to me a lot of the time. It just seems more organic and natural.

In the UK you can even commission your own, perfectly legal, reverse graffiti as advertising or whatever - from these people :-)

Monday, 22 March 2010

One Hundred Days no.67, 68

OK, I cheated and it's just one drawing for two, really. Forgive me. How are my colours? over/under saturated? Oddly red/blue/yellow? Or OK?

the weekend

was relaxing. You know how it has been this winter, and it felt like it would never end. Even those promising little peeps of sun we had last week were quickly smothered by cloud. On Saturday it rained all day and I was stuck indoors doing housework and setting up my new computer. But yesterday it was glorious and I spent the whole day in the garden tidying up the flowerbeds, sweeping up dead leaves and trimming away all the dead stuff that I had neglected for too long. It was blissful and calming to be out there with nothing much going on in my head, absent-mindedly scratching my arms to shreds in the gooseberry bush, and sending a cascade of accidentally-woken woodlice into my hair (oh yes, that happened when I was wrestling with the compost bin!). Oh, and I terrorised this poor caterpillar until it stood still for long enough to let me take a photo.

I haven't got much to say for myself today. I'm just back at the desk and shouting at my work. Hope you had a good weekend too :-)

One Hundred Days no.66

Saturday's drawing. Sunday's and today's to follow...

Oh dear. I have been busy... let's blame the computer. I have been migrating from my poor old iBook (five years old, one serious f***-up, whirs and groans constantly) onto my shiny and super-powerful new MacPro this weekend and I am having SERIOUS problems adjusting the colours on my monitor so that they don't hurt my eyes when I'm looking at it. So if my images appear a bit weird in colour for the next few days (or until I can work out which settings to use!) I'm sorry. I don't want to hurt your eyes either.

I'll be back later today with something random...

Friday, 19 March 2010

One Hundred Days - no. 65

A bit more effort!

This weekend I will be tidying the garden in between the rain that we have been predicted. If it rains a lot I might also start work on making a blue blouse - the pattern (made up by myself because I never do things properly) has been in bits on my floor for a couple of weeks now. I bet it turns out horribly or I'll never finish it or something. I also plan on making a big batch of leek and potato soup. That is the extent of my plans. Have a good one!

Whitecross Farm

A lot of you in the UK will have heard of Baileys, a great vintage and vintage-style homewares shop based in Herefordshire. It is run by Mark and Sally Bailey who live on a farm and showcase their wares in a series of barns on their property. If you go over to their website and click 'the store', you can have a look around these barns. There is also a cafe on site, they've written two inspirational books about simple, recycled living... they seem to have the dream life!

To get to the point, when I was bored yesterday I had another snoop around Light Locations and came across Whitecross Farm, which I believe is their house. And what a house it is! OK, so a lot of people wouldn't want to live with so much raw wall and peeling paint, or such an austere atmosphere, but the colours are just that right kind of washed-out for me, and things like the flooring and furnishings are beautifully unfussy. I like the random bits of junk, the airiness of the colour scheme and the imaginative use of lighting. I hate it when a period house has been 'renovated' in the sense that it has had all the character knocked out of it, all the roughness smoothed over, all the corners sharpened. It makes me sad when someone has gone into a house and shoved downlighting, awful modern furniture and a big plasma TV into it. Urgh. I'd rather go the other way and be half-feral, living with cracked walls, dodgy electrics and having to wash from a bucket. Really I would. Although maybe not in winter ;-)

Anyhoo, these are some of the location photos of their house. I don't know how anyone really lives like this - where do you keep all your books and teddies?! :-)

Thursday, 18 March 2010

One Hundred Days - no. 64

I am lazy. I might not give off that impression. In fact I probably come across as a slightly manic, attention deficient nerd (and lord knows it's probably true). However, I like to cut corners, I like to make things easy for myself but I think that has a negative effect on the quality of my, uh, produce as it were. I think from tomorrow onwards (because today I can't be arsed), I will try to make the last 36 images I produce for this One Hundred Days thing a bit more than just something I drew whilst waiting for the kettle to boil or for some website to load over our snail-like internet connection. I will, gasp, use paints! I will THINK (just a tiny bit cos it hurts sometimes). I can't make promises, I have work to do too, but I'll try.

For today, I have this. Maybe sometimes people do wake up to find a squirrel reading a newspaper on top of their heads. I'm sure it happens somewhere...

Yuri Norstein

Yesterday I was frantically trying to come up with ideas and a treatment for a new animation job I've just received, and I went off on some over-ambitious plan to make the film using a combination of Flash, Photoshop and After Effects. I wanted it to look a bit hand-made, like traditional paper cut-out animation, or the silhouette animation of the incredible Lotte Reiniger (here's Hansel and Gretel). I also referenced the sweet end credits of the Lemony Snicket film, 'A Series of Unfortunate Events'. I've not seen the film itself, but the credits are great fun.

So I was scrabbling around for examples to send to the client, and remembered one of my very favourite animators, Yuri Norstein. He worked using paper cut-outs under a traditional rostrum camera, moving each element with painstaking attention to detail, creating the film frame by frame. I admire such dedication and patience since I lack so much of it myself! His chef d'oeuvre, his masterpiece, will always be the gorgeous and melancholy 'Tale of Tales' (watch part 1 here), but a lot of people find it weird, over-long and a bit tedious despite its luminous beauty. When you consider that he created everything using bits of film and paper (as well as some clever lighting - that fire in the early scenes was created from reflections of a real fire!), rather than fancy computer effects, it is truly breathtaking. His skill and vision still make me dizzy with wonder and envy.

One of his other, much shorter and funnier films is 'The Hedgehog in the Fog'. So if you're feeling like something a bit lighter, this is the one for you. It is a delight.

Of course I'm not about to make something as beautiful as any of the things I've shown you, nor am I intending for my film to be close in style to them. I just thought you might like to look. Plus I'm quite convinced that the client will hate what I've done and ask for something else :-)

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

One Hundred Days - no. 63

Literally drawn in a minute - stupidly busy juggling three jobs today. Sorry it's rubbish, but I have to say I would agree with him.

my own Welsh farmhouse... I wish

OK, since I wrote yesterday about moving houses, how about this one for size? This is pretty close to ideal for me: a big-windowed Georgian farmhouse in the middle of nowhere with five bedrooms, outbuildings, greenhouse, five and a half acres of land (eep! I would try taking part in the wonderful thing that is Landshare), only one neighbour, stunning views, and absolutely RIPE for a bit of renovation inside.

Only problem is, it's in South Wales. Like, nowhere near anything useful to us. I think I'd have to pick up the whole place and drop it in North Wales instead.

Just in case you want to see more pictures, I've uploaded the full details from the estate agent (pdf) here (either click, or try right clicking depending on your browser). All images from Profile Homes.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

One Hundred Days - no. 62

Feeling a bit unhinged today. The work is piling in again and I think I am about to pop with anxiety. I have deadlines! Lots of them! All this week! Poor me :-)

cabin fever

This is the back of our little house in summer. Today, it looks like spring at last and I was squinting like a freshly awakened hibernator as I walked to the post office this morning. It is beautiful here.

But things are getting worse and worse. I can't shake the desire to leave and start on a new adventure somewhere else, I've got the moving bug so badly. I always knew I'd be a fickle homeowner, especially since the properties we can afford are so SMALL! There simply aren't enough rooms for me to decorate so I suppose I've just gotta move house when I'm done with each one :-) But lord am I fussy when it comes to criteria for a new one! I wonder sometimes as I trawl the estate agents' sites whether I will ever find one that fits the bill. I'm not looking for my dream home - I can't afford that - but I am looking for something exciting to play with.

However, with all that said, I will always love this house - it was our first home, our lucky house. We got married, shared our first Christmas, grew our first proper vegetable garden, threw our first house-warming and tiled our first floor here. It is a special place, especially on a summer evening when we can stand at the end of the garden in the glow of the sunlight and talk nonsense whilst looking out for deer at the edge of the forest. Or sometimes we go out on clear night in the darkest hours to spot the Milky Way, visible despite bright old London to the south. I remember the first time I went out to work on the vegetable patch, on a cold February day with my neighbour's bonfire smoke drifting across the garden. And that March afternoon spent planting seeds in the greenhouse after I'd been let off work for the day. It is blissfully peaceful here, a little patch of happiness. I wonder sometimes if I am right in wanting to move on.

Monday, 15 March 2010

One Hundred Days - no. 61

My mother brings gifts of ginseng. I struggle valiantly. Would much rather have a big mug of builder's tea.

French interior

I came across this stunning French interior via the lovely Head Over Heels blog just now, and I had to write it up. I am smitten. It was bought by an architect and his wife in a state of dilapidation, having seen precious little renovation work since 1900. All the electrics, plumbing and heating had to be replaced and then began the wonderful re-imagining of the interior. It is perhaps a little dark for me, but it is wonderful nevertheless. Those red chairs! The raw walls!