Thursday, September 26, 2013

Google Translate for iPad

Love the Google Translate for iPhone/iPad - Star Trek communicator crazy sci fi stuff! You talk into it in one language and it will speak it back to you in the language of your choice!

You will never need to learn a new language again.

Oh! But I love learning new languages!! I still want to learn Japanese when I retire!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Water Walk

It's a while since I've painted any watercolours! Lately, all I've found time for has been mono-printing with my Gelli plate. But I was given a commission!! (It sounds very grand!) Someone I know asked me to paint a scene from a recent trip to Lourdes as a gift for a friend. (That sounds better.) I was given a choice of a photo of a religious statue or of the "water walk" by the river. The statue was actually quite nice, but I felt it was way beyond my ability. The scene by the river, on the other hand, had an abstract feel to it that I found very appealing.

When you have a dog, you don't have much time for yourself, let alone for painting. So, when BB took the Sunday morning walk shift, I decided to get up at the same time and get started on my work. Two hours later, I had the bulk of it done. Another hour after breakfast, and it was finished.

Sometimes it's good to take a break - I don't think I've painted as good a watercolour since the start of the year!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Dead Set

I'm going to throw in all sorts of movies here. thankfully We haven't watched that many this summer. A combination of nice weather and the arrival of our puppy!

Dead Set is based on a simple but excellent idea - zombie movies are popular - Big Brother is popular. Let's mix the two. A zombie epidemic is plaguing the earth. The only place safe is the Big Brother house. You see, zombies don't know how to open doors - they're not that clever. They're very strong, yes, but not that clever. Will the Big Brother contestants be able to work together to fight off the invasion? What do you think?

You will never be able to look at Davina McCall the same!

Not for the faint hearted!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Autumn Leaves

I did promise you more leafy gelli prints, didn't I? Rather than drip-feeding them to you, here they are all in a neat Picasa collage. (Click for larger size)

But be warned, I may not have done any painting or printing this weekend, but I've been gathering and pressing lots of lovely leaves.

And for those of you wondering what to do with all your lovely gelli prints, don't forget that you can scan them and make gorgeous Zazzle cards with them! They always come out even more beautiful than the originals!

Flight Behavior

Barbara Kingsolver always writes interesting stories. Flight Behavior is set in the Appalachian mountains, in a small town. The main character is a young wife and mother who feels trapped in her life. One day, she sees a wonderful sight, a cloud of light flying through the mountains, catching the light. It turns out the sight is a colony of Monarch butterflies. They are in the wrong place at the wrong time. But they will change her life.

Not quite to the standard of classic Kingsolver, but a good holiday read, I thought.

That's it, I'm all done with my book reviews. Next the movies!

The Virgin's Lover

OK, getting more vague, as it's probably a couple of months since I read this one. The Virgin's Lover is a Philippa Gregory, about Queen Elizabeth I, and her favourite, Robert Dudley. Typical Philippa Gregory. Great story. But not quite as good as The Queen's Fool.

Bring up the Bodies

I'm working in reverse reading order here. So as I move back in time, I
will remember less and less. And you will be delighted to find that my reviews will get shorter and shorter.
Bring up the Bodies is Hilary Mantel's second book in her Thomas Cromwell trilogy. I found it a much easier read than Wolf Hall. A simple thing, like adding the word ", Cromwell" after "he" clarified a lot of situations for me. Her editor must have recommended this after the first book. I actually remember finding it particularly hard in the first book to figure out who "he" was, throughout the book.  

But where the book has gained in clarity, I feel it has lost in dreamy quality. It was something I loved in the first book, this feeling that you were floating inside Cromwell's mind. Bring Up the Bodies tells its story in a more straightforward manner. But I think I preferred Wolf Hall.

La nostalgie heureuse

OK. It's high time I started reviewing the books I've read over the last few months. It's not like I've been reading that much anyway. Maybe it's just a case that I haven't read anything that gripped me to a point where I wanted to tell you all about it.

La Nostalgie heureuse is Amélie Nothomb's latest book. You may not know this but Amélie Nothomb is Belgian, and she lived in Japan at various stages of her life. I never lived in Japan myself but one of my best friends did. And I've always been fascinated by all things Japanese.

This book is the story of the author as she travels to Japan with a TV crew to film her journey as she meets significant people from her past (her minder when she was a small girl, her one-time boyfriend) and visits locations from her childhood (her school, etc.)

It was a pleasant book to read. And I probably will enjoy reading it again in future. But I can't say it was earth-shattering. Am I missing the point somewhere?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

More autumn leaves

You're going to be fed up with me by the time I'm finished with all these leaves. You'll be wishing for a sudden frost or an early winter storm to pluck all those leaves from the trees around me!

And I'm seriously going to have to pick up a book on leaf identification so I can tell you what these are. I remember it was something I was very good at at secondary school, in biology, I guess. But now I'm useless at recognising trees. The same with fish. I never know what is what, and even more so when I'm asked what the name is in French.

(steps on how to make a print like this on my previous blog post)

Now we're talking

While I was enjoying the process, the leaf prints I did at the weekend were nothing to write home about. Last night, I grabbed half an hour to try out a few textures with some other leaves I had picked up on my walks around the area.

I had been looking at a video on pre-inking the stencil, which I had bookmarked on Pinterest. But my previous attempts had not worked out - too much paint, too little, paint drying too quickly,... It was frustrating. But then I thought I could apply this to my leaf prints. How to delineate the overall shape of the leaf and to show the fine detail at the same time. It might be obvious to those of you more experienced in mono-printing techniques, but it was a breakthrough for me!

The steps are:

  1. Apply acrylic paint to your gelli plate and spread it evenly with a brayer
  2. Drop a few leaves onto the paint - textured side down
  3. Press your paper down. Rub it well with the palm of your hand to ensure good adherence of the paint to the page.
  4. Lift the paper - but the trick is to keep an edge of the paper on the plate (just like the lady shows in the video) so you have good registration (alignment) - and pick up the leaves and set them aside
  5. Press your paper down again, pressing gently and evenly with the palm of the hand.
  6. Lift the paper
  7. Voilà!

Monday, September 09, 2013

Day Care

Timber is at day care today. We went back to the gym - the first time since 3 July! He house is clean and peaceful. Cat was able to walk through the house without being chased by dog. I didn't need to take Timber for a walk at lunchtime.
But of course I miss him!

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Speaking of Canada

Another variation on the theme (same colours, minus the cadmium yellow, but mixed more, same leaf)

This time with a winter video from a famous Canadian singer - Gilles Vigneault - I used to love that song: "Mon pays, ce n'est pas un pays, c'est l'hiver"

Les feuilles mortes

There'll be a lot of leaves on gelli plates these next few weeks. It's cliché, but it's also so lovely. I loved our beautiful hot sunny summer - the last one this good was 1995, so it felt very special. But I find autumn much more peaceful for the soul. It's a busy time work-wise, but I feel myself more settled into a rhythm. And there is something serene about being the only person in the park at 8 am on a Saturday morning (the only problem being that it's just me and my dog, who needs plenty of running and interaction with other dogs if we want a quiet time at home, so I am so happy to see another lady with a dog that I ask her if she wants to take her little guy to the dog park to play with my big guy, and it ends up in a major play-biting session and two very mucky doggies).

But I digress - Let's come back to gelli printing - here is my ode to the autumn leaves. Or an alternative Canadian flag:

And for those of us from a francophone background:

Friday, September 06, 2013


I usually share those kinds of videos on Facebook. There are millions of cat videos out there. I hope you like it.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Timber at day care

He got accepted at the local day care!

Last day of summer

Yesterday was just the perfect last day of summer. The kind of day that stays with you for a long time. 



Wednesday, September 04, 2013

natural resemblances

This is not a tree...

natural resemblances - Jordi Forniés's exhibition at the Smock Alley Theatre - A Must See!

Running until this Saturday.

After that, the paintings are travelling to a number of museums in Spain.

Don't miss it.

(Picture taken from Olivier Cornet Gallery's facebook page)