Friday, 26 July 2013


I have not been home much these past weekends as I have been on two consecutive retreats.  It is time to catch up on projects and to try out new things, and in between my bags were left packed ready for my next escape. And because my weekdays leave little time outside of work for other things I look forward to this time away and being with friends. 

One thing I do not enjoy is unpacking so on Wednesday, after my return, my workspace looked like this:

Something I started this month is an art journal using an old atlas. It is part of an online course called Passport to Art that runs daily through July so it is giving me techniques to try and a focus.  I have been planning to spend more time art journaling so this is a good push towards doing that. I love things to do with 
journeys and quotes, so it was time to get messy and play! Here are some of my pages so far:


Each day a new technique, quote and prompt is posted as part of the course.  As always I am having trouble keeping up and I find my best way is to just dive in and spend a number of hours at a time. But opportunities like that are hard to come by unless I am on a retreat. No more are planned until November, but then I have two booked. Retreats are like buses it seems. You wait a while then two come together. And who's complaining? Certainly not me!

Over at Julia's there are lots of other projects and workspaces being shared.  You never know what you might find, so why not pop over and say hello.  Thank you for visiting and have a good week.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

5 in 5 - MELANIE July 2013

Melanie lives in Australia.  She is a long time friend and I was really excited recently when she came to UK for 10 weeks and we had time to catch up in between her travels.  Melanie loves photography and was interested in my 5 in 5 post that I was starting up.  She wanted to take part but there was one problem: she didn't know how to upload her photos as she doesn't have a blog! 

I decided the only way round this was to post on her behalf. I love the colours and contrast in textures.  Thank you for taking part, Melanie.

I asked Melanie if she'd like to add a few words to go with her photos and I think you would agree, she really does need to set up a blog so we can enjoy more!! 
Over to Melanie:


Top left the chicken.  This chicken is laying me an egg which these days are few and far between.  If you ask our daughters about my chickens (I have two at the moment) they will tell you they are replacement daughters.  They certainly filled the space left when both our daughters moved out of the family home.  I am getting through chickens very quickly though as they seem to have a short life span.  This is chicken number five. 
Middle the marigolds and rusty chicken.  I love marigolds they always cheer me up to look at their beautiful bright colours and I never have to plant them as they continually self-seed in fact I pull up rather than plant as left to their own devises they would completely cover the garden although they might come against competition with the nasturtiums who also self-seed. There are actually a pair of rusty chickens hidden in this marigold patch but you can only see one clearly.  They were given to me for Christmas one year by friends who always manage to find something on a chicken theme for me.
Top right hibiscus.  The bush that this flower is on was in the garden when we moved here, one of the few.  I leave it to look after itself and it rewards me with an abundance of flowers.
Bottom left the clock and spider on the shed.  This garden clock is a reminder for me of how time flies when I am working in the garden and also marks time as it was a present given to me by my brother on my 60th birthday.  The spider who keeps it company I found when my daughter took me to the Chelsea show one year which was a highlight of a visit to the UK.  Dangling over the clock are branches from the native willow which sits next to the shed.  That tree really does need a haircut.
Bottom right the orchid flowers.  I have an orchid in a pot by the back door and most of the year it just sits there with a bunch of green leaves sticking out the pot.  What a delight it was to arrive home from our overseas trip to find it in full flower.
If you want to know more about 5 in 5, please go here.
 And here is a photo of Melanie taken when the four of us went out for a meal.  As Melanie is a card maker it was lovely to take her craft shopping.  She was restrained as she was conscious of the amount they already had to take home and cost of excess luggage. However, she found it hard to resist one 12" paper pad and her husband smiled sweetly when she showed him on our return. He could do little else since I bought it for her!  I wish Melanie didn't live across the other side of the world, but she is great at keeping in touch and one day I hope she will set up a blog!

Friday, 5 July 2013

5 in 5 - July 2013

Welcome to my first post which will be a regular feature from hereon. 
On the 5th of each month I shall be posting
5 photos that I have taken in 5 minutes. 
I love setting myself small challenges,
I find it focuses me, gives me motivation, and more than anything I have fun!
Being playful and experimental is a great way to learn,
and my previous post tells about how '5 in 5' evolved.
It also includes 2 example videos.  So if you have time, you
might want to make a cup of tea and make yourself comfy.
And here is your personal invitation
to join me! 
Because there is nothing I like more than online community
of friends who share and learn together. 
 Here is the plan:
1. Choose a location.
2. Have your camera ready.
3. Set a mobile timer for 5 minutes.
4. Take as many photos you can until the time is up.
5. Choose 5 photos to download and share by using the linkytool. 

That's it!!

And a couple more things. I know from experience if I have too many deadlines I can not meet them all, so I would rather you take part than be under pressure or unable to. So,

Do the photos have to be taken or posted on the 5th?   The answer is no. 

Take your photos whenever inspiration or opportunity takes you.

And you can post your photos for that month anytime up to the 25th.

And on 5th of each month I will post an invitation for you to join me again. 

As well as posting my photos I will include things that may inspire, prompt, or add fun. I do hope this idea sparks you as much as it does me! I love photo challenges and so I hope you will join in when you can. And if you want to post more than once during a month, that's great. Just do a separate linky so we can come see!


So let's get started! 


Recently I went to London and to avoid commuters I always leave early.  This means I arrive early for my meeting and I am not someone who gravitates to a coffee shop.  No, I grab my camera and find somewhere that will spark me.  On this occasion I decided to
take photos in the locality so I took some photos around Oxford
Circus. This set me on a roll so I set my timer again and took
photos of shop window displays. It is amazing how you see things  when you look from a different perspective... reflections in the glass, colours and angles of displays.


The two experiences were entirely different, and they demanded different approaches. Already I was being challenged in a positive way.

And then, still with time a-plenty, I went to John Lewis. Now I love their displays and they did not disappoint. I reset my timer and did two photo shoots before going to a green space. And I started over again! Now, I am not obsessive about setting time for taking photos!But on this occasion I wanted to experiment. To check that 5 minutes was realistic and achievable to set as a monthly challenge.  I had considered 10 in 10 minutes but choosing and downloading 10 photos takes time in itself and could be overwhelming.  So I decided to keep it simple and that day I came home with lots of photos I was really pleased with. So here are just some: 
5 photos taken in 5 minutes:

The bench was a bonus as it also counts as part of Rinda's 2013 Summer Scavenger Hunt. This is another photo challenge that I love to take part in!  I've you've not heard about this you might want to join in. Go here to find out more and hopefully we can enjoy each others photos there too!

I have spoken about how and why I took these photos, but that is not expected.  Just post your photos, and if you have time or want to tell us about them that is a bonus.  If I have missed anything or you need clarification please let me know. This is all about learning through doing!!
So that's me. Now it's over to you. If you'd like to join in please click on the linky below.  As a thank you I'll be offering a small giveaway to the first person who does this, and as 5 is an important number here, the 5th person to link will also receive a thank you.  

As with all sociable gatherings it is good to mingle, so please pop over to say hi to at least two or three others who are here. Thank you for visiting and if you stay to join in, an even bigger thank you !!

I experimented with a trial Link tool and did not realise that the list would be removed when it expired.  So I am trying to add other 5 in 5 posts here. It will take time to find them so apologises if it takes time.


Wednesday, 3 July 2013


I have signed up to Passport to Art this month. During July I will be working in an Atlas that I bought at a charity shop.  Bernice suggested that in advance pages are torn from the book leaving one for each day plus a couple more if you want to do double pages or add anything extra.  So on my workspace today (actually the dining room table again!) is my Atlas minus a pile of torn out pages.  I was quite excited about removing these because it occurred to me I can sew these together and make more books!  Or I can use them in other ways. I love maps!

Also on my workspace is the paint I used.  Tester pots from a well known DIY Store.  They had a large range of colours and were selling them off cheaply.  Nearly all of them are chalk based and as I have been using PaperArtsy paints which are also chalk based I thought I would give these a try to see if they were a suitable substitute for some projects.  So far so good!!  I won't use them for anything special, but where I want to be experimental, I am happy to try out different mediums.  On these pages I covered the page in the paint using two colours, then when it was nearly dry I gave a spray of white Dylusions.  It has worked well as a base cover and more layers will be added to my pages using masks and other techniques.

Bernice is giving daily prompts and tutorials, including a quotation for the page. I haven't got as far as adding these as I only discovered the course a couple of days ago. But I am catching up and enjoying the messy play. Another suggestion was to add masking tape before painting, then lift to reveal the page underneath. I like this effect and I added white Dylusions spray after which helped to soften and blended the strips. 

If you want to go check out this course for yourself you will find details here.  I will be posting more photos as I complete the pages.

Another thing on my workspace this week is my sewing machine.  I do not want to show this as it would reveal giveaways that I am making for my new monthly challenge that starts this Friday 5th.  If you like photography you may like to check it out.  Called '5 in 5' you are invited to take 5 photos in 5 minutes and then post....  you've got it.... your favourite 5!  There is more information here so please pass on details to anyone you know who might be interested.

Meanwhile over at Julia's there are lots of other exciting projects and workspaces being shared.  You never know what you might find, so why not pop over and say hello.  Thank you for visiting and have a good week.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

SCAVENGER HUNT 2013 - photos 1

Welcome to my first sharing of Summertime Scavenger Hunt photos.  Rinda has compiled a list of 21 subjects to be completed by 21st September.  Last year my family became involved too which made it extra fun, as well as giving excuses to explore or go out. Though I don't need much encouraging! 

I have just enjoyed revisiting the photos I took last year and if you want to do that too they are here.

So, back to this year. This is the list I will be working through and the photos I have taken so far:

 1.   Open air market
2.   Theater for performing arts (not a movie theater)
3.   City Hall, Capitol or other similar civic building
4.   Airplane
5.   A sunset
6.   Someone or something taking a nap
7.   A sign that is intentionally or unintentionally funny
8.   A tower
9.   A photo with someone or something that is clearly out of place or doesn't belong
10.  A bench that is outside
11.  An animal in a zoo, aquarium, nature preserve, etc.
12.  A cloud in the shape of something (please specify what you see)
13.  A fence
14.  A stained glass object or a mosaic
15.  A fire truck or police car
16.  A windmill 
17.  Candle(s)
18.  Your local pub/bar, coffee house or tea shop
19.  A fisherman
20. A dinosaur
21.  A photograph of you with an artistic tool or craft supply (you cannot substitute for this item)
Bonus/substitute items.  If you find any of the above items too difficult, feel free to substitute either (or both) of these items.  You can substitute up to two items, but you cannot substitute Item #21:
A person wearing an outfit (or item of clothing) that symbolizes your country
A sundial



I do not like the outdoor market photo and hope to replace this when an opportunity arises. And the sundial will be replaced if I find everything on the main list. It is here just as a standby meantime. 

The sundial is in my garden and one of the photos I took yesterday as part of a new monthly challenge I am starting this week.  Called '5 in 5' it invites you to pick up your camera, set a timer for 5 minutes and to take as many photos as you can in that time. Finish by sharing 5 of your photos and link back.  On the 5th of every month I will post my own and invite you to join in. The bench was also a 5 in 5 challenge, taken in London.  It's even more exciting when you get a photo that ticks two boxes! 

 I liked Karen's idea of going out with the list, knowing where she could locate some of the photos. I plan to do the same when I have more time. I photo excursion sounds just what I need for some fun and I know just where to go!  Hope you are having fun with your own lists if you are taking part and I'm off now to browse Rinda's linky! 

Monday, 1 July 2013


A few years ago I was in London on a training. It was a hot summer day and I finished lunch and had time to spare before the training resumed. I decided to go outside and to take some photos and I still remember that snatched moment quite vividly.

More recently I have been wanting to write a regular post. My head has been spinning with ideas and none get started because it feels overwhelming.  So I had to smile the other day when I read a quote by Julia Cameron:

Most artists get blocked not because they have too few ideas, but because they have too many.

And on the same day, the idea came to me. And it had been there all the time, only because my head was so full, I had not seen it.  And I recalled that day in London, how excited I was, and how much I still love those photos and the memory it pulls. 

And if that wasn't enough, there was more synchronicity. That day I came across 2 videos.  And no! I was not doing a search!  They came to me through Facebook, posted by friends. Friends who did not know what was going through my mind as I had not spoken to them about my idea.

And after watching these videos I was even more sure that I want to have more fun with my camera and at the same time be challenged to improve my technique and creativity.  And so my plan is to take as many photos as I can within 5 minutes and then share 5. 

Here is what I plan:

1. Choose my location.
2. Have my camera ready.
3. Set my mobile timer for 5 minutes.
4. Take as many photos I can until the time is up.
5. Choose 5 photos to download and share. 

The emphasis is on having fun, as when I am feeling playful I can be more creative and connected with what I am doing. I work best when I am focused, I need a time frame, a challenge. That helps me to think outside the box, to push myself. This might mean:
  • Being challenged by light or lack of photo opportunity
  • Finding ways round this such as changing position or using something to improve light (a table lamp, white paper to reflect, or simply changing my own or camera angle). 
  • Taking photos of an object or area from different perspectives: zoom in, out, take from a distance, high, low, above, play with the focus, shadows and so on. 
Remember - the emphasis is on FUN!! 
So if you are someone who strives for perfection or a means to an end, this is also helpful.  Because sometimes we learn from experimenting and making mistakes. And by being spontaneous. Sometimes photos taken in this way have been my best.  Not for technicality but because I was totally absorbed in what I was doing and the experience left a positive imprint.  

I will be posting '5 in 5' on the 5th
 of each month, starting this week. 
I hope you will visit. 

And the invitation?  I'd love you to join me!  So if you are interested, pick a location, take your camera, set the timer and have fun shooting!!  It's not about quantity.  Aim for good photos
that inspire, stretch, or please you. And remember, you are looking just for 5 to share. If you have a short story that goes with your photos that would be good, but is not necessary. Sometimes a picture says it all.

I will be back on 5th, meanwhile, here is a link to the 2 videos I spoke about earlier.  Creativity takes Time is very short and it shows what you can achieve  when you have freedom to have fun. 

I found the first half of the next video especially interesting. Tim Brown had a great way of involving his audience and talks about how we need to break rules in order to bring play into our creativity. A must watch if you are interested in how we best think and develop ideas.

Finally, I spoke at the beginning of taking photos in London and how the experience has stayed with me. Here is the photos link if you want to find out more.  Thank you for staying with me to the end and I like to include a photo in my post so here is a collage using 5 of the photos I took in my garden today, using the 5 minute challenge.


Since posting I have been asked some good questions. Thank you Jo and Ruth.

Do the photos have to be taken or posted on the 5th?  The answer is no. 
Take your photos whenever inspiration or opportunity takes you.
And you can post your photos for that month anytime up to the 25th. I know from experience if I have too many deadlines I can not meet them all, so I would rather you take part than be under pressure or unable to.

So, just join in when you can and on 5th of each month I will post an invitation.

I am learning as I go along
and jumping in and finally getting started. 
It's time to let my ideas free and have some fun! 
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