Happiness through colour

This week’s been really quite dreary – the kind where you sort of start hoping it’s going to miraculously become Saturday mid-morning by about…erm, Tuesday lunchtime.

Not sure why, I think it’s because I had such a fab weekend (wedding dress fitting for one of my best friends, a walk and ice-cream by a West Country beach, barbecue with the boyfriend), that the commute and eight-to-ten-hours-a-day-in-front-of-a-screen was always going to seem dull in comparison.

I’ve also been feeling slightly overwhelmed by everything I want to achieve, career-wise, health-wise…just, life-wise, and wondering why I always seem to have to overthink everything instead of just letting it “flow”…the constant self-bashing internal monologue on everything I haven’t done yet doesn’t exactly help.

To try and combat this feeling, I’m going all out on colour today. My dress is a mishmash of pink and greens, but it’s the desk furniture, nails and lipstick that’s really giving me a kick.

The lipstick isn’t that new, but I decided it needed some nails to match. The daffodils are just because it’s spring, the clocks went forward last weekend, the days are longer, and because why the heck not.

Not the most original idea in the book, but it seems to be helping slightly so far… :)

Adventures in journalism: The perennial problem

I don’t like to be defeatist, but *sometimes*, this is how it feels…

Photo-rotate

When in doubt, do a crap doodle :P (ps. Is it just me, or does a “crapdoodle” sound like the name of a really rubbish dog, or the sound a rubbish rooster makes in the morning? No? …Anyway…)

Gotta love that bit in the middle though – at least you get to read all the interesting posts!

*Goes away to think of another idea*

Wednesday love x

 

I got nominated for a Liebster blog Award! :)

So I got nominated for a Liebster Award! I didn’t even know that was a thing! But it is, and now I know what it is, I’m very grateful! *claps*

As I have learned, via the wonder that is Google, the Liebster Award is a way for bloggers with fewer than 200 followers to celebrate other small bloggers, and “pay it forward” in acknowledging blogs they know (and, dare I say it, like to read).

(If you’re reading this because I nominated you, and you have more than 200 followers, then I’m sorry, please only take it as a compliment! I know that a couple of the people I nominated have WAY more followers than that, but it was just because I was desperate to include you because of how inspiring I find you! So please just carry on with your awesome self.)

You then have to answer, and ask, a bunch of questions from the blogger who nominated you, and then nominate other bloggers, with the aim of sharing a bit of yourself in the blogging community and (hopefully, very hopefully) creating more stuff that other people want to read, and more awareness of the award. Maybe some people would see it as a pain in the butt, but I think it’s pretty cool.

Thanks to the lovely theodd1in who nominated me – it’s so great to know that at least some people like your blog enough to remember it, even if extremely briefly.

I don’t write with a specific audience in mind, and am largely aware I’m basically shouting into a void, but it’s nice to know that there are some people out there sometimes!

Anyway. ONWARDS!

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Life in lyrics: Giving Monday the Elbow Part II

Some of my most vivid ideas for paintings come when I’m standing on the tube home, listening to my music, escaping the sweaty, noisy, shuffly, sighing carriage into my own world of lyrics and fabulous songs.

Although I love music, and have been known to shed a tear over a particularly beautiful song (yes, I know, cheese, sorry) I’m the kind of person who listens intently to the lyrics of a track – even the simplest phrases can be extraordinarily moving, funny or flippant, and I live for those moments when you realise a songwriter has perfectly captured your feeling or mood.

As you may know, I also love to faff about on my free evenings and play with paints, and I love vivid colours and experimenting with blending. SO, I’ve often thought about combining these two passions (lyrics and painting). Last night was the first time I actually sat down and did it….here’s the result.

It’s a definite first draft, although on balance I quite like it.

Lyrics-Elbow-Day-2

There’s a lot I’m really not happy with though, and I’ve learned quite a bit from this first try:

  • I think I’ll try blending only a couple of colours in the background next time
  • Maybe choose a shorter lyric (I initially wanted to put even more on this, before I realised it wouldn’t achieve the same look with teeny tiny writing! ALSO I changed the “looking like a beautiful day” lyric slightly – sorry Elbow :( – to make it fit better on the page).
  • Try outlining the words in black pen so they stand out a little more, especially on the yellow?
  • Put more red and pink in it. (That’s just me. Heh)
  • Overall though, it pretty much captures that feeling of happiness and serenity that I get listening to this song (One Day Like This, by Elbow).

It’s totally unintentional that I’ve ended up writing about Elbow lyrics for two consecutive Mondays (I would barely have even called myself a fan – I think these two songs are the only ones I have, sadly; maybe that should change, I seem to like them more than I thought!) but there we have it.

The next verse is also gorgeous, so I might do a follow up. (‘Cause holy cow, I love your eyes; And only now I see the light; Yeah, lying with you half awake; Stumbling over what to say; Oh, anyway, it’s looking like a beautiful day…So throw those curtains wide, one day like this a year would see me right).

Guess there’s something in these here tunes that makes me feel better about the week ahead… :)

My painting: An homage to Mucha (and good old gin and tonic)

I finally finished another painting – this time, an homage to both Mucha and gin! As someone who has only recently discovered how great a cold, refreshing gin and tonic at the end of a long day can feel, I wanted to honour this fabulous pairing.

Lamour-du-gin-edited

[The Love of Gin, in homage to Mucha (c) Hannah Thompson, acrylic with metallic silver pen]

I’m not actually that happy with a lot of this, however.

Obviously, I’m happy enough to post it here (frankly I’m just satisfied that it’s bloody finished, it’s taken a while!), but I am genuinely surprised that it’s turned out OK, because at the beginning (throughout the whole thing, actually) I came within a hair’s breadth of scrapping it – many, many times.

The skin and the shape of the arms didn’t really turn out how I wanted, and the face looks a shade too cartoon-y for my liking. There are other bits of it that I struggled with, such as the waistline of the dress and getting a uniform covering throughout (my new paints are definitely thinner than the old ones I used, not to mention more unpredictable colours compared to the shade on the tube!).

The hair is OK, but not my best. I did enjoy doing the “botanicals” bit at the bottom, though – using shades of yellow and brown and white for the lemon, browns and fawns for the nuts and spices, and attacking the lavender and juniper berries with a million shades of purple and blue. It was definitely fun, if nothing else, but for a lot of it, I only kept going because I didn’t want to quit (story of my life! haha).

close-up lemonsAs with a lot of my art, I often knew what I was working on wasn’t quite what I was looking for, but I didn’t know quite how to change it. I guess that’s what happens when you’re completely “self-taught” – which is, in my case,  a nice way of saying I HAVE NO BLOODY IDEA WHAT I’M DOING. And YET, considering how much I doubted it, I think it’s turned out OK.

And it’s about gin. Enough said.

ps. I realise the lemon is a political point. Entirely intentional. No lime in my G&Ts please, even if we’re only drinking Hendricks :P

Life in lyrics: Giving Monday the Elbow

New-York-MorningSo it’s Monday. *YAY*

It was a beautiful weekend in London (I basically did nothing but lie in, sunbathe, read, paint, watch TV, do a bit of a workout, and eat good food. No, there were no Instagram photos of daffodils or pub lunches or rousing countryside walks (I don’t even use Instagram, I KNOW. OMIGOSH) but it was good all the same.)

But on Monday? GRR. Like pretty much everyone else in the city, you have to get up about three hours before your body naturally feels like it, and get on to a pretty slow, expensive tin can (some people call them trains) packed in with other people’s shuffling and eating and perspiring and sodding breathing. Yes, it’s the morning commute. Gotta love it.
But for the past week or so, I’ve not been struck down with quite the same level of dread as has happened on other days, because (apart from the quiet arrival of spring, which is completely FABULOUS) I’ve been listening to this song by Elbow as soon as I get on the train.

Headphones in ear, I play it first, before anything else, and just breathe and listen.

And so far, it makes me extraordinarily calm and optimistic, even when it’s Monday and I’m tired and running late and some anti-social twazzock is sitting next to me rustling and twitching and eating and drinking and sighing FAR BEYOND what is necessary to get comfy. SIGH.

Also, the pedant in me is also disproportionately pleased by the quiet symmetry held within the idea that, as the bloke next to me elbows me in the side, I am also giving him the Elbow – in the form of beautiful harmonies and mental PEACE. So nuh.

Now, I realise the song is about New York, but the quivering notes and the uplifting lyrics about people coming together to build and lifting their heads towards the sky and being in a city – WELL, I reckon that applies to London just as much as the Big Apple (but also I like the idea of living in NY one day, and I know people who live there, so hey, it’s all good).

Also I love the lyrics. The ones above seem particularly creative and optimistic, even if it’s sadly not quite true that everybody owns the great ideas (otherwise hey, we’d all be quids in on the iPod). HOWEVER I also love

  • The first to put a simple truth in words, binds the world in a feeling all familiar (this is so true)
  • Reaching up into the sky….Why? Because they can… (they CAN, dammit, they CAN!)
  • The desire in the patchwork symphony (just a beautiful line, with a beautiful melody)

I read somewhere [edit: HERE, in the Independent] that the lead singer of Elbow, Guy Garvey, fled to New York after a particularly painful break-up, and just sat and people-watched and felt the spirit of the city nourish his smashed-up heart, and it transformed his song-writing forever.

Now, some of us, sadly, have neither the means nor the time to dash off to wherever whenever anyone decides to be a total dick, and are also (sob) apparently unable to create original and wonderful music from our personal tragedies.

Some of us have to be content with mediocre blogposts. C’est la vie, huh?

BUT TAKE COMFORT. Because here, I’m passing on my morning optimism solution. Yes, I may get sick of the song before too long, but so far, so good. Listen and love. It’s unabashed anthem-writing at its best, confectionery in musical form, but it’s also perfectly created, with echoes and soothing riffs and Garvey’s soulful voice, and it just sounds like something that some cheesy romantic movie director would set to the background of a sunrise when it’s going to be A REALLY GREAT DAY.

And it makes everything feel like it might be OK even when it’s not. Even on Monday. Amazing.

Blogger guilt: In which I totally fail to review stuff

Wanna read a random list of stuff I’ve done recently with no extra info? Nope, didn’t think so! At the very least, you want to know what I thought about it, right? Whether there’s anything there that might help you, I don’t know, decide which book to read or movie to see?

Well, the short answer is – YES, you should do and do/see/read them.

Being the amiable(-ish) kinda girl that I am, I pretty much enjoyed every single one of the below, more or less, which is maybe the only reason I have to not have ACTUALLY reviewed any of them.

Not a single one. I always think, immediately after an event, or final page, or discovered song, right, I’ll review that – and then promptly don’t get round to it.

WHAT, I ASK YOU, JUST WHAT KIND OF WRITER AM I?

One who has wayyyy more ideas for blogposts than I ever seem to have time to write, that’s what. I admit it.  I have serious blogger guilt. And this goes further than just being a self-obsessed millenial with nothing else to do.

Isn’t the whole point of blogging to share ideas?

In this spirit, in true (cringeworthy, yes) millennial style, I even take photos of pretty much all the restaurant food I eat and find myself making mental notes throughout movies, so I can reference them later.

I also find myself mentally making notes of what it is I like about books, even as I’m reading them – how “real” the characters are, how beautiful the writing, how honest the storytelling, how well they captured that mood or event.

For the most part, I’m also gauging whether they live up to the reviews and hype I’ve inevitably read up on before downloading to the Kindle or watching on Netflix or bought on iTunes or *gasp* actually GONE OUT to the cinema to see.

And yet, I hardly ever ACTUALLY MANAGE TO WRITE THE THING.

Frankly it’s hard enough to find time to even make a list.

Maybe the simple act of writing down ALL THE THINGS will free up some space and time (literally and mentally) for me to actually sit back and consider what I actually thought about something.

I know the world is JUST HANGING on my every word (nope) to see my views on the latest Coen Brothers’ outing, but even though probably no-one will read my thoughts except me, I like to think that, as a journalist who’s interested in a BILLION things, it makes sense to record experiences and reactions to things.

It’s not about showing off or obsessively making notes (after all, a quick look at the list below will disavow you of the thought that I live in any way an especially exciting or noteworthy life).

But what’s the point of personal blogging if not to share experiences and thoughts? Especially about cultural things that other people might enjoy?  

Especially when one of the things I most love about blogging is that it opens up your eyes to a whole world of other bloggers.

People who have done, seen, read, tried the same stuff as you – or stuff you’d love to try but are too busy/scared/poor/disorganised ‒ and whose reviews and tidbits only serve to enhance the experience when you actually get round to it.

Where would I be without those reviews of books, films, restaurants or events?

I mean, I also work on a restaurants and hotels magazine – writing about some of this stuff is pretty much literally what I do for a living.

And yet, I hardly ever manage to apply that experience to my own life.

I hardly ever manage to pay back all those bloggers or Google searchers; anyone who may wish to come across my blog, and for that fleeting moment, go “OMG YES, that’s mildly interesting” or “OMG yes that’s exactly what I wanted to know” (that’s what I think when I read a great blog, anyway).

There comes that blogger guilt again. I need to pay it forward, people. Not to mention practising actually writing stuff.

So, in an attempt to at least make amends, or a start, at reviewing some of the good things I’ve had going on recently, I’ve made some lists (with pictures, to make it pretty).

Maybe it will actually spur me on to tell you whether you should read/see/listen/do any of the stuff anytime soon…that is, if you haven’t already read/seen/listened/done it all already….

Films watched for the first time in the past few weeks

Books read recently

Restaurants/bars I’ve been to recently

Places travelled to in the past few months

Music I’ve discovered

Shows I’ve seen

Other vaguely significant (to me) stuff I’ve been up to