Friday, 29 April 2016

Starting a new chapter

Starting primary school and being the youngest in the class... starting full-time work again and not being a stay-at-home-mum anymore... It's going to be the start of a new chapter for me and Girlie.

This week I took Girlie on the first of many transition sessions at her soon-to-be primary school. She met her teacher and her new class mates, while me and all the other parents were whisked away to chat in the library. When I collected Girlie at the end of the session, her lip was trembling and she hugged me tightly and cried into my shoulder. My heart ached for her because I knew exactly how she felt. Starting primary school is a big thing, especially when you're almost a year younger than some of your class mates, and all you want is to play outside and live in your imagination. It was the structured snack time which upset her. "I wasn't hungry, but they wanted me to eat a green apple" she sobbed, "I only like red apples and I wanted the teacher to like me. I don't want to go there any more mummy". I knew exactly how she felt. Things in her little life are about to change and it's daunting.

Soon I'm going to be starting work again - Monday to Friday instead of the odd days I've got used to. I've managed to negotiate good hours which fit around Girlie but it's going to mean a lot of change. Just like Girlie, I feel apprehensive.

This week my hours have been ramped up a bit, ready for the full-time transition. I'd been into the office for three alternate days, and on Wednesday I was tired out because Girlie had kept me awake most of the night. I'm a copywriter, so writing when you're tired is not ideal, and my dusty brain cells were fast asleep and refusing to power up. It was a struggle and close to the end of the day I found myself getting irritated by the clunky computer I was working on. "Oh bloody hell", I was thinking, "I can't get on with this stupid f'ing computer, I want my computer from home". 
I was experiencing the red apple, green apple scenario just like Girlie.

Recognising it as just that, I began to think about my own transition. I'm not going to be a 'stay at home mum' anymore... it's the 'end of an era', the 'start of a new chapter', a 'fresh new beginning'.... insert your own cliche here. And it's going to sting a bit.

Me and Girlie were a little team. We planned our days based on how we felt and what the weather was doing. We explored all sorts of new places, had adventures and minor disasters, ate far too much ice cream, embarrassed ourselves in playgrounds, caused mischief in garden centres, and soft-played our way around East Kent. We had fun and lots of it - everyday.

Now with school and full-time work looming over us, it's difficult not to think that seven days of fun a week will be reduced to only two! 
But that's not actually true, of course.

Girlie will be enjoying herself learning new things and meeting new friends, and so will I (I suppose). It's just a bit daunting, and small things, like green apples instead of red ones and clunky computers, are going to illuminate our pesky anxieties. So in September Girlie will begin her little adventure, while I start mine in a few weeks. I know everything will work out and we'll be into the swing of things in no time, but I hope we still have plenty of days to cause mischief in garden centers, embarrass ourselves in playgrounds, eat too much ice cream and have adventures and disasters together. 

Thanks for reading! xxx

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Burning it up in the shed

It's spring and I can finally get back into the shed to do my boxes!

This winter it's been too cold and muddy for me to trek down to the bottom of the garden. The thought of sitting in the shed painting with the heater on wasn't appealing at all, especially since I'd convinced myself that (a) I was ruining the lawn and making it boggy and (b) I was going to die from the varnish fumes. So I've done all my boxes, since December, on the kitchen table and generally made a right old mess in the house. Today the sun was shining and the sky was blue, so I moved my paints, brushes, varnishes, sketch pads, pencils and wooden boxes back to where they really belong. The house is considerably lighter and gave a little sign of relief.

The best bit about spring and summer is that I can do my boxes while Girlie plays in the garden. She can also paint and glue and glitter as much as she likes in the shed, as there is nothing much to ruin. It's perfect.


I gave the shed a quick clean and a dust, moved the table around and voila! Ready to go... Only thing was, we had a thunder storm straight after the tidy-up and we had to go inside the house. "Quick mummy I know what to do, get under the blanket!". So the garden is again boggy, and I really want to start a new box but Girlie wants to play Dotty Dinousars. Somehow I don't think she'll stay in the shed painting with all this thunder banging on. Maybe tomorrow?...

Anyway, I did discover something really useful! If you read my last post I talked out my mum giving me lots of Douwe Egberts coffee jars, which she said would be good to put pasta in?? I decided to use them today to store my brushes and pencils in, and discovered that when I took the plastic seal off the lids, I've got some lovely glass jars for water when I'm cleaning my brushes.

I also got a bit creative with the old plastic plates I use as palettes. I'm quite lazy about washing my palettes afterwards, and so I kept using Girle's old plastic plates and managed to get through five - all unwashed and caked with paint. I now use foil around one of these plates and just change the foil. So I decided to put a hole in the used plates and hang them in the shed, that way I can always find a palette instead of searching around and getting annoyed with myself. They look quite pretty on the wall too.

If you have a painting shed I'd love to see it and hear about how you got it all organised. 
Thanks for reading! XXXX

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

The French poodle burnt pencil box

I've gone all 'French poodle'... as usual, tch! Haven't we all though, let's be honest?! I love drawing French poodles, I think it's because in my world they ALL wear berets, and have an interesting and cultured life. So I needed to make another pencil box. I was going to make it festive, but the last box was too much 'Christmas' for me so this is a Joyeux Noel box without the Noel. 

I had a morning free to paint this box, so I had a lovely relaxing time just enjoying the peace and quiet and listening to Radio 4 (yes, I'm middle aged!). I didn't realise the time had gone so quickly, and when I looked at the clock I only had 15 minutes to get dressed, have a quick wash and get in the car. I needed to collect Girlie from preschool!!! Yikes!!! Honestly, all that was going through my head was 'oh crap, the pre-school teachers are going to think I've just been watching This Morning and eating cake. Why did I wash my nice jeans today? Now I have to wear jeans with paint all over them'. Thankfully they didn't comment on my disheveled appearance, which was made far worse by the grey paint ALL OVER my hands! I blame the newspaper report of a school that told parents off for still being in their pajamas when collecting children. They basically made ALL parents paranoid. In the back of my mind I fear that there could be a time when I accidentally turn up in PJs and then I'm branded a rubbish parent. Anyway.....

The box was finished and I was actually early to pick Girlie up. Thankfully! This is the fourth pencil box I've done and they are addictive to make. Small enough to be quick to do, and a good shape to fit the painted pencils on. I've still got more to make, but now I'm fed up of them, so next up is something different. 

Well thanks for reading! And always remember to get dressed and have a wash BEFORE painting. 

Monday, 11 April 2016

Christmas in Spring!

Yes, I know. This is weird. I've given my head a wobble, but Christmas has unexpectedly reared its sparkly-neon head resulting in a Joyeux Noel burnt box!

I'm trying to build a collection of burnt boxes, so that's why I needed a Christmas one. Problem is, I'm planning on making two more Christmas themed boxes, so watch out!

This box is remake of a larger box I made in 2011 for my mum. It was one of the first burnt boxes I ever made and I still think it's one of the best. It was massive and took me a week to do, because I decorated every bit of it. I did try and steal it back recently, but I didn't get away with it! I think my continuous pilfering of her things has made her hyper alert whenever I visit! I distract her with Girlie's cuteness and then casually ask if she really needs this or that. Usually she says 'yes I do thanks' but sometimes I get lucky. At other times she gives me too much stuff. Like glass coffee jars! I've got about ten now! Apparently, they're good for storing pasta and stuff!! Anyway, I didn't manage to pilfer this box, so I wanted to make a new smaller version. I chose this size box as it's the perfect Christmas present box, especially if you're giving clothing wrapped in tissue paper.

It took a while to sketch, and even longer to burn, and then I started painting it, which took ages! Of course, it's got a lot of gold paint on it, which you can't see in the photos.

I think it has the spirit of the original version, but it's just not the same. Anyway, it still has a French poodle sauntering across it. Hope you like it, and it's not too much of a bright, spangly intruder party-crashing Spring!

Thanks for reading and Happy Christmas for 2016! XXX

Friday, 8 April 2016

The Happy Anniversary burnt box

This box was an experiment with gold and silver acrylic paint, and came about because I had a good lunch and a conversations about super powers.

On Thursday I found myself browsing enthusiastically around an art shop in Canterbury. I'd just had confit de canard at Cafe Rouge and was still enjoying the wonderful glow (confit de canard always makes me happy). Girlie had eaten all of her macaroni cheese and we had had a good chat over lunch about what super powers kittens have*. It was a good day. And then I saw the selection of acrylic paints I usually ignore - the metallic ones. I think the joie de vivre just made me go a bit experimental and I opened the gold tube and saw the wonderful intense colour inside. They only had 200ml tubes, so I now own 200ml of gold and a 60ml tube of silver. I have no idea why. Anyway, when I got home and the canard-induced-glow had run out, I thought 'shit, I better see what I can do with these bloody paints I spent nearly £20 on'!

I had wanted to do an anniversary box as I'm trying to put together a collection of boxes, and it makes sense that an anniversary box needs to look a bit special - so this box was the one to go gold; it also has silver on the leaves but you can't see that in the pictures.

One of my favourite colour combinations is dark gun metal grey and mustard yellow, so using gold instead of mustard goes well. However, this grey theme is getting out of hand, plus now I have 199ml of gold paint, so don't be surprised if every box from now on is gold and grey!

And that's what happens when you venture out with a three and a half year old. Thanks for reading! Xxx

*According to Girlie, all kittens, OBVIOUSLY, have three main super powers. The ability to find cheese, the ability to jump onto houses and the ability to beat mice at races. Yes, this blog is educational too. My pleasure!

Thursday, 7 April 2016

The start of a great adventure - another burnt pencil box

Here's another burnt pencil box, which I made while me and Girlie were having a pyjama day. I think we've had so many days out she was desperate to play at home, just chill out and make a mess. So in-between running around the garden, playing balloon tennis, and numerous games of Silly Moo and Pig Pop, I made this.

I'm finding it quite liberating just doodling straight on to a small box, then burning and painting it without thinking too much about it. Bish bash bosh it's done and I get an immediate sense of satisfaction. Sometimes the larger boxes drag on a bit, and I get lost in the planning.

This box carries on the theme of a little someone starting school in September. A little cat fast asleep oblivious that he's starting a great adventure. Honestly, these pencil boxes are getting more and more sentimental! Note to self: get a grip!

The colours were a bit problematic. I decided I wanted to paint the main bit of the box in a lighter shade of grey than the last one. I mixed the paint, painted the box and then did a comparison - I'd managed to mix the same colour as the last box EXACTLY. I'm just slightly in love with a dark slate grey apparently. But who isn't?

So there you go, another pencil box. If you want one let me know! Thanks for reading! Xxxxxx

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

'Hello Baby' box

My lovely friend Tonya gave birth to her fourth child last week, so a special 'hello baby' box was needed.

This box was an absolute joy to make. It's always easy when I have an idea in my mind before I start planning. With Easter just gone, bunnies were hopping around my head. So I drew three bunny rabbits looking after their new baby sister rabbit.

I hope baby Beatrix likes it! If you have a new baby coming into your world soon and you'd like a 'hello baby' box, just comment at the end of this post and I'll make one for you. I can change the number of rabbits and the messages to make it completely yours.

Thanks for reading! XXXX