Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Christmas Eve

Here is a mixed media artwork of mine I did (and sold) a couple of years ago filling opposed to commercialization and secularization of Christmas.

Merry Christmas


for everybody who celebrates it tomorrow!

Monday, 22 December 2008

Decorating...

One of the angels my mother gave to us (photo from few years ago)

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Latest sales

Two recently sold artworks:

St Michael church in Breaston, Derbyshire in pastel (gone to Switzerland)


and Approaching Storm in acrylic.



Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Santa Run in Newtown - some photos

Here are some photos from Newtown Santa run on Dec 14th. Quite busy at the moment trying to tidy the house before the guests coming...

Just a quick remark. Lots of parents were very unhappy that this year the kids had to start running with adults in the same crowd.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Santa Run in Newtown

On Sunday my daughter took part in this annual event.
http://www.newtown-santa-run-2008.co.uk/
http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/mid/sites/newtown/pages/08santarun_photos6.shtml?11
She did very well although because of bad organization and confusion we can't really say how well. Our Mayor and local MP Lembit Öpik were engaging in boring personal show off. But we still had good fun and are very proud of our little girl. Photos, videos and more story (hopefully) to follow.

DR. LAURA C. SCHLESSINGER's blog

Here it is:
http://www.drlaurablog.com

I can't say I agree with everything she writes but I certainly appreciate how this modern very conservative American "Mary Poppins" tells mothers to return home and take care of it. And I've seen her name in some MBTI description of ESTJ! (double benefit for me in reading her blog then). Anyway, she doesn't like people spending too much time on the Net, so I better go and do something real :)

Friday, 12 December 2008

School blues

I had a happy childhood. Of course I hated or laughed at all that communist staff but I was so lucky with teachers at school and plenty of friends. I hope my kids will remember their school years with happiness and warmth too.

I started school at eight and this didn't stop me (or any of my friends in Russia) from getting to universities and colleges we liked. I've been shocked when at the time my kids were something like 3.5 or 4.5 a nearby school head teacher knocked on our door and said its time for my little ones to go to their Nursery (just for a couple of hours first). As I didn't have any friends in this country, nobody for my kids to play with, and I wanted to do more art at home, I decided, OK, lets do it. It wasn't easy for my son to fit in at first. Once when he didn't want to get inside after a play time, a teacher grabbed and pulled him and he, scarred, baited her in the arm. Needless to say we received a very angry letter from school, got really terrified and had to apologise.

We and kids started to have colds continuously. And little ones started getting head lice. My husband and me we haven't had them at schools - full stop. My mother-in-law didn't had this problem in Britain, same my mother in Russia. Even in my grandmother times, during famine and incredible poverty of 1920s on the boundary of Russia, Ukraine and Belorussia, they didn't had much of this head lice issue. So why its so bad in modern British and Welsh schools? Well it either 1) parents don't care for the welfare of their kids so much now; or 2) headlice got more resistant to treatment; or 3) kids are starting school too early when they can't understand that they shouldn't touch each other heads; or 4) they encouraged to sit on the floor rather than at desks as we did, and that helps little insects spread; or combination of these.

In Russia kids haven't been allowed to walk (almost everybody walked, of course) in school wearing outdoor shoes. You had to have a pair of clean ones to change. NOT HERE. All that dogs, birds, rabbits, cats droppings on the way end up in the classroom... Where everybody sits on the floor. Brrr...

There is a VERY STRANGE attitude to sweets in school. They are encouraged! Its your birthday - bring sweets for everybody, you have been good at studying - get a sweet. School parties of course only have sweets and cakes to eat. No surprise, the life expectancy is falling.

When we decided to move to Wales, people were saying how better the schools there are. We were delighted to here about it. What a disappointment! Our children had been doing joint writing for about a year, but here they have been FORBIDDEN to do this. Only typing (I can't TYPE letters at all!). They had started a foreign language (French) but now have to forget about this because they are learning a little bit of Welsh (why not have both?). They also had to go back to reading very simple books again. At least now they have a free swimming lesson a week (but my daughter said they DON'T HAVE P.E. IN WINTER). My husband can't forget his football at school in any weather, and I quite enjoyed skiing for 2 hours a week through winter wonderland in the park next to the school (the park is long gone under some apartment blocks in Moscow, but that's another story). So they start early but they exercise less... Here is a good recipe for childhood obesity. Plus school meals. In England kids actually had some organic food for their dinners. Not here - and that's for the same price. And some form of potatoes almost every day.

Two more things make me really sad: encouragement of football and pop / rock music culture. When I was at school we were told to strive for the best. If its music, it should be quality music. We don't listen to much pop or rock at home. It's not OUR culture. Now my kids are preparing for their Christmas concert and they have to pretend TO BE ROCK OR POP STARS. Something called X-factor? I have no slightest idea what it is (I only know X-files :). In England we had to choose if we want to send the kids to school discos or not. Here in Wales they are hold in SCHOOL TIME. And foolball. We don't watch sport. All we see is drunken and swearing supporters we have to share trains with. Why our kids should be pushed towards that?

Sorry for some bitterness. Of course there are lots of positive things. Religious education has been good so far (I haven't had any in my time). Kids had interesting trips to farms and theaters. There are quite a lot of male teachers (unlike when I was at school), and most teachers looks like clever and friendly people. And there are affordable music lessons for everyone. I sort of admire home education enthusiasts but I wouldn't be able to do this. At least not alone. Anyway, hopefully, everything will be for the best.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Star Wars ACEO


Four more images are ready for my ACEO commission.
About the drawing on the bottom right - "It is impossible!" was the first phrase I ever learned in English.

Bullies harm themselves

If somebody deliberately tries to offend you, this person puts a burden on his or her conscience and has to live with it for the rest of the life or do something with it (eventually). Not YOU! You walk free. Just try to look at it as a page from a novel you read. And no hard feelings. Just another lesson.

It is obvious the body can't function well without physical exercise or hard work. Same is the soul. It needs its lessons and exercises too, to grow stronger and better...

Violence will undermine any good course. Look at the rebellious Greeks. Maybe they have a bad government. It doesn't matter now. People starting violence are always wrong, in my opinion. If you like democracy, you vote for somebody else. Or peacefully propose another solution... If you throw stones at police cars, don't expect them throw chocolate bars back at you. And this (like protests in Thailand) will damage your country's economy in bad times thous making everybody's life even worse. So, it's very strange to hear about people violently protesting against job cuts or low salaries in such times...

Speaking of so called democracy, its looks like the poor people of tiny car-free island of Sark don't have any free choice to live their traditional way anymore: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/european-feudalism-finally-ends-as-sark-heads-for-democracy-1061281.html
Billionaire newspaper magnates got their way. Heaven is still the Kingdom, I hope...

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Sticking cloves into oranges...


That's what my kids are busy doing now. Not just oranges, of course, but any citrus fruit I could find in town. I think its called "making pomanders". Smells really great. Some of them actually dry for ever like this.

Also on the picture: crepe paper garlands similar to ones my mother taught me to make back in Russia: cut two long stripes of differently colored crepe papers, put slightly narrower one on top and sew them together (better using sewing machine). Then cut the edges carefully with scissors every centimeter or so making sure you won't cut the thread. Fluff it a bit and its ready to be hang across the room. We used to do them from four corners to the lamp shade (making sure they won't get too hot to catch fire) and I had a real jungle for the New Year celebration.
There also some last year's paper chains kids made and the charity shop tinsel.

A great way to recycle numerous kids drawings (I do photographs of the good ones first) is to make paper snowflakes out of them and stick with blue tack on the windows. Its a double recycling, as the kids draw on the paper my husband used at work for printing on one side...

We bought a nice tall Noble Fir Christmas Tree form a local grower who kindly delivered it to our door. This kind of tree doesn't drop needles EVER.

Speaking of citrus fruit, almost every time I peel one, I put the peel in a potpourri bowl. Also you can try putting some of it in the hot oven or working microwave oven just for few minutes (make sure it won't burn) to release the aroma.
Another seasonal fun my kids found is listening to all kind of Christmas music on Last.fm and from my Russian, Ukrainian, European medieval, English, French, African and Philippine collection.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Broken Solar Panels

There is a house not far away from ours. Just one more of the simple 70s dwellings. It is the only one (as far as I know) having solar water heating system in the area. And it is BROKEN. I don't know what had happened but it looks like somebody had thrown a stone at it from the street, breaking this expensive piece of technology and the owners couldn't afford to (or just didn't wanted to) replace it. Some people don't forgive you for being different, be it an accent or solar panels...

Another sad thing, I've noticed quite a lot of desperate messaged from artists on the net like "this recession kills me", "I have to lower my prices for a time being" and so on... Well, somebody actually told me that people may invest in art during depression as its price ought to go up eventually. So, lets hope for the best!

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Google Earth fun

My kids discovered a new game: they type a funny word and look (using Google Earth) if the place with this name exists on our planet. Lots of fun and it helps to learn a bit of geography, I hope!

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Bag

She is sitting here in front of me but I can't see her eyes. I suspect they are triumphant. She's got the window seat by the table and she put her handbag on the seat next to her. Dark glasses surrounded by unhealthy looking folds of skin, headphones on and knitting something green. Must be in her fifties. And pitiful me trying to find seats for a family of four with two kids so we can have our lunch on the train. No chance here, dear! The bag stays. I see her muttering to herself something. Yes, she is triumphant. How on Earth do I expected to love people? Her, or that rebellious youth, empty eyes, feet on the seat, horrible telephone music as loud as the device can play. I don't know. Maybe if they told me about their life, they struggle, their hopes, I would.

I think I'm growing to be like that "bag" lady. She is like my mother, full of old scars. Hatred for old, hatred for young. Oh, dear... I really want to be better that this. But is it possible?

Friday, 5 December 2008

Christmas Turkey

Mrs Sad and Angry :) is back: I wanted to buy a turkey in the Iceland shop. But found out they all are "ready basted" with E numbers. Thank you very much, eat your E-E-E yourself! Why can't they have JUST TURKEY? They never have.

Also my browsers go mad when I'm trying to read other people's blogs in Google Reader - I guess its because I've subscribed to so many of them. I do enjoy reading you, people out there!

I'm into publishing my old poetry on a Russian poetry site at the moment and surprisingly, there are some people who even like it! Amazing...

Artist & Recession

A link with advises on running a business:

http://studioartdirect.wordpress.com/2008/11/13/art-of-the-recession-studio-art-direct-shares-how-to-market-your-art-businees-in-an-economic-downturn/

Thanks to http://sophieploeg.blogspot.com for posting this link!

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Free speech myth

I don't think free speech exists. We hear from time to time, that it didn't existed in the Soviet Union, or it doesn't exist in modern China. Well it doesn't exist anywhere. Its just a pretense. Lets be honest. If you forbid saying anything offending - that is it. Any strong opinion on important matter can offend the opposite side. So governments, organizations, etc forbid some allegedly "bad" groups of people or individuals to speak on their own behalf. And what does that do? It turns them into martyrs for indecisive people. It shows to those who didn't make heir opinion yet - the government is afraid that if "baddies" speak, they will take over, that they may actually have Truth on their side. Its so easy to wave your sword at somebody who is not allowed to do so in our "civilized" society. For me its strange, how on Earth you can convince somebody what's right and what's wrong if you don't let other side publicly defend itself?

Of course no viable government will allow open propaganda against itself on the prime time TV. Its understandable. Of course children should be protected from unappropriated content. But why not have a web site (or a radio station) easily accessible for all adults where absolutely anything could be said, any opinion discussed, and where any crazy lunatic could explain his or her point of view (and being praised or remotely"beaten" for that). And then, we WOULD have freedom of speech.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Polish shop closed

We used to have a little Polish shop in Newtown. There was some publicity about it:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/mid/sites/newtown/pages/jarekmydlak.shtml
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/mid/7162691.stm

Its looks like another charity shop is moving in now. Well, the Polish Corner used to have very good natural cordials and herbal teas, but, for my taste had too much junk food made by international manufacturers with Polish labels. Anyway, its a bit sad. That was the only ethnic food shop in town!

PS. And the only place in town accepting Western Union money transfers is stopping doing them from Friday. It really feels like being cut off from the rest of the world!

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Last weekend


On Friday Christmas lights have been switched on in Newtown. Its one of the biggest events in the town but as usual you only can find out about it if you you talk to people: there wasn't any announcements on streets (no, sorry, there was one - outside the town, for car drivers). The official town's website







haven't been updated since September the first (NEWS! its even worse for local school websites) and so on. Well we asked some men installing merry-go-round and ended up coming 2 hours yearly on freezing-cold night. BUT we managed to see the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle passing above as two very bright stars (soon after they separated).



Traditional light-switching speech by our mayor http://www.newtown.org.uk/index.htm (her "unique selling position" is being a single mom) was aimed against people trying to save electricity (she called them Scrooge). Well I think we have to have Christmas lights. But on Christmas EVE. The joy of Christmas is really spoiled by such an early start. There also is lot of controversy about switching 2/3 of street light in the Powys county. Some people think it will help criminals (not that there are many of them here, thank goodness for that!). I think its more difficult for thieves to use torches than for local residents as they (criminals) don't really want to be spotted.


Anyway we had a nice firework display and kids got two more lightsabers (I know I complained of too many toys at home, but it so difficult for me to say NO to kids).


On Saturday we visited Ten Drawings by Leonardo da Vinci and Mapping the Welsh Group at 60 exhibitions. For my daughter, who likes art generally, famous Leonardo's works didn't mean nearly as much as some of symbolist contemporary works from the second exhibition. I literally couldn't pull her away from them when we had to go.


We also seen wonderful mirage (distant mountains on the other side of the huge bay looked much closer, hovering over the sea) and sunset with myriads of starlings flying around the pier in Aberystwyth.

White Horse

This painting (size A4) is on the way to Germany now.

I'm working on a Martian landscape in acrylic and multiple ACEO commission at the moment. The work is progressing slowly as I'm more interested in few writing projects. I seems to oscillate between various creative activities and hardly can make myself do something which my heart doesn't want at the moment. I am often angry at myself for that but haven't find the cure yet.

Non-creative activities like cleaning & washing are always at the bottom of my list. I am a horrible housewife!

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Greeting Cards

It bothers me, why on Earth people need to send or give greeting cards if they actually SEE the person they are sending them to at his or her Birthday, Anniversary or Christmas? And why people BUY cards with somebodies else message printed in them? It's difficult to find a blank card in shops here. Anyway, now so many people have computers, cameras and printers, why not to do something original, from a heart? Even if it's just a citation form a favorite poet, etc. Its all totally above me. I guess you have to be born in this culture to understand. Mind you, it starts to catch up in Russia too, unfortunately.

And why relatives and friends have to give kids mountains of toys on Birthdays and Christmas? I've seen so many times poor children crying for hours because of over excitement! And a piece of advice for toy-buyers: if there are more thanfour jigsaw puzzles for kids at home - they will get mixed up. Complex games will have irreplaceable pieces lost or broken. Expensive electronic toys will get unintentionally broken too. If you kids have too much toys it will became impossible to tidy them up properly neither for you nor for kids themselves (we are learning all this hard way). By the way, the best birthday present my daughter had for her eight birthday was a big Yamaha keyboard just for 34 pounds. It really helps her to learn to play good music. And my son does wonders with his K'nex construction kits. Also at eight they still don't mind if the toys are second hand - save your money and enviroment!

I like traditions, but only when they came from a heart and generally good for you...

A Christmas video I stumbled upon while surfing:
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=eVqqj1v-ZBU&eurl=http://proverbs14verse1.blogspot.com/

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Newtown Hills

And a new addition to the Ebay shop:


The September certainly was a very productive this year - thanks to the good weather.

I did this from my garden, but moved some of my neighbours' houses and turned the hills into the mountains.

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=280289498708

"Dawn" in pen & ink and pencil


The latest addition to my Etsy shop. I've got a friend who does stunts for movies in Russia and she kindly sent me a reference photo for this artwork some time ago.

http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=17845046

By the way Etsy does looks so much nicer for an artist than Ebay, but there is a small problem: nothing seems to sell so far...

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Churches for sale and "karate kids" in Newtown

A sad picture from Newtown life: two of the nicest churches in town are empty and for sale - and they have been like this almost since we moved here a year ago. They are right in the centre of the town, near the bus and train stations. I think from time to time, that it would be great if an Orthodox community could buy one of them but I understand there is not much chance for that. I can't get to the nearest Orthodox church two towns away because there is no public transport on Sunday mornings (ironically, for religious reasons, I guess).

Another problem for a car-free person possesses (surprise!) kids sport club. They joined a local karate club last spring. Karate is very popular in Newtown and I thought its good healthy exercise plus a chance to learn to protect themselves if needed. No, wrong. Its all about the color of the belt. Every so often I'm given a form to fill and expected to pay 18 pounds per child for "grading" (strangely, that procedure haven't been explained to me when kids just joined). And for this continuous grading business (meaning belt changing) we have to travel to another town... On Sunday morning, of course! When I am trying to explain our situation to the trainers I usually meet one of these looks: cold, suspicious, judging, refusing to understand, separating me into "strange & alien" category. Oh, well... I seriously think about tennis club for kids now ...

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Life without Google

I can't stop thinking: what if this crisis kills Internet? Or something else does? What we are going to do? By the way there is new Survivors TV series (remake) on BBC:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2008/05_may/30/survivors.shtml

I don't know yet if its going to be any good but feels somehow possible now. What scares me the most its the loss of order, when everybody who is stronger takes what he or she wants. I just hope we never see it in real life!

Monday, 24 November 2008

Sea of souls

There so many voices muttering, sobbing, preaching, laughing. So much more real than in the censored news, polished and profit-oriented films or books. Fascinating. I wish I discovered all this blogging earlier. I know not all people are honest and not all tell the truth. Often we don't realize when we lie anyway. And fiction is literature too...

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Skies no fire


We had an awesome sunset a couple of days ago:




I think there are some Mammatus (mammatocumulus) clouds

Friday, 21 November 2008

I am who I am

Once I met an artist who liked my works, bought at least two of them and on one occasion offered me a lift home from an exhibition. So he went inside ( it was our old home), he's seen kids screaming and running everywhere, worn out cheap furniture, books scattered around, wallpaper badly needed to be changed and so on. And he said something like "to sell art you have to be respectful" (or was that "presentable"). Anyway it sounded that I was not. It really hurt. Well, I think I don't really live my life to sell art only. Even to do art only. Maybe there are artists, who have a professionally designed gallery instead of the home, a polished blog where they show themselves always positive, happy, concentrated, top class, witty, kind, clever and respectful, but I'm not even going to try doing that. I am just a person. Don't judge me too harsh. I can have my ups and downs. Some of my artwork and writing is successful, some is horrible, but I'm not going to hide this fact. People can buy my paintings without caring much for who I am - that's absolutely fine too. But I'm not going to pretend to be something I am not. Probably, I am wrong. Probably I should never have any blogs or "about me" pages. Just pictures. Or better - no pictures at all. Just let them rot in the attic. Or even not making them in the first place - rather doing something useful. Anyway...

Farewell to two more pictures

That's it, time to pack them as they have been sold. Both are fantasy works in acrylic. The first one is Observation Point, the second is the Shinning World. It is always a bit sad to say farewell to artwork, but then I haven't got enough space to hung all my paintings anyway plus it would be really great if somebody else could enjoy them too. And I hope to buy a second hand violin for Christmas for my daughter with the money. I had a real barter recently when somebody from an organic shop bought a sketch of mine. So I exchanged it for a packet of tofu. Marvelous!


The idea for the first picture came from a photo of my friends and colleagues overlooking a submarine port in the Crimea. The second one was inspired by a photo of my great auntie (a ballet dancer) as a girl.






"Who Am I? 101 Ways of Seeing Yourself. An identikit of self-discovery" by Malcom Godwin

I've read this book in the spring just another attempt at self-digging. Here are some results. But, I wonder, is it really me?
Body: mesomorph (William Sheldon's system: a greater tolerance to extreme conditions, but insensitivity can be a trait. Oriented towards action) 441 of endomorph-mesomorph-ectomorph body-mind scale;
Face: rounded contours (jovial, gentle, gluttonous, indecisive, frank, slow); oval - mobile, impressionable, impulsive, changeable, versatile, non-persevering, credulous, prescient, intuitive; Siang Mien - jade - diamond - mystical, elegant , talented, durable, sharp, possessive, active, dutiful, caring, attractive
Hand: Earth - melancholic. Practical, honest, physically hard-working, espesially at tasks bringing the sunject close to earth, like pottery; stable, orderly, tenacious, unimaginative , sceptical, habitual, enjoys doing and making things and being physically productive, slow, generous, indulgent, enthusiastic, epicurian, physical. Can be stolid, insensitive, dull. Logical, very practical & pragmatic, orderly, habitual, hard-working and tenacious, stable. Can be unimaginative , over-sceptical and not very original. Palm(right hand - left hemisphere - analytical, logical, precise, time-sensitive; left hand - right hemisphere - emotional, creative, intuitive) clear & strait, steadfast love, devotion, great affection, sympathy and compassion; cautious, mentally capable, spirited, independent .
Chinese elements - fire (or water?) by description; Yin Metal by birth
Chinese medicine: the Alchemist - Metal - Returning to the Source - Discerning, purifying, distilling the essentials, defining, refining, concerned with aesthetics, beauty, virtue and morals . Enjoys the discipcline of order, ritual and ceremony. Letting go of Autumn, restraint, separation, elimination.
Vedas: Pitta (Fire + Earth) 142 - Vata (Air + Ether) 125 - Kapha (Earth + Water) 101
Humour (temperament): Melancholic - 13, Choleric - 8, Sanquine - 4, Phlegmatic - 2
Child (Rudolf Steiner) - same, maybe slightly more Choleric & Sanguine.
Gurdjieff Type No 2 - limbic system or emotional brain, the heart.
Brain hemisphere Right - 28; Left - 12 (non-verbal, visuo-spatial, simultaneous, spatial, analogic, holistic, intuitive, sensuous)
zodiac Sagittarius - fire - intuiting -mutable - active (fire brings myth and drama to experience, relating them to an inner world of its own which reflects, but is often removed from, reality. Adapts energy in order to explore, have a problem with sensuality. Vital and spontaneous and often live in a rich fantasy world more attuned to the theatre than the workplace. They need to experience life dramatically and significantly so their behaviours are exaggerated. Colorful figures, full of mythological splendour and heroism. Often self-centered and self-absorbed, but is also warm, psychic and lively. Problem coping with material world (drab & threatening). Optimistic, adventurous, extravagant, just, honest, stimulating, religious, boisterous, argumentative, impatient, fanatical, hot-headed, indulgent, tendency to preach, hides sadness).
Chinese animal boar, companion: sheep - gallant, gentle, lively, impulsive, chivalrous, courageous, generous, gregarious, sincere, thick-skinned, shallow, vulnerable, materialistic.
Feeling types: emotional, not joyful, not phobic, girl-child, life-explorer, Artemis (Jungian), animus Apollo, between indifference and compassion, introvert, stress level slightly higher than average, between optimistic and pessimistic, intuitive (p.61) and then somebody took that book from the library and I haven't seen it since...

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Wolf charmer or "Mike with Wolves"




Two more drawings. First one (my favorite) has been sold, the second one I've just put on sale on Ebay.
Two attempts to illustrate the first scene from my book "The Return" in Russian. I am working on this series of illustrations first creating 3D models of my characters, props and landscape, then drawing everything "traditional" way, by hand.


Two still life photos with a story

I've found a couple of photos from few years ago. There were some trouble in Russia and I felt very upset, particularly because the media here in UK, instead of being just a little bit compassionate, was using this for anti-Russian political propaganda. And then a kind elderly lady next door just brought me the carnation flowers. She died soon after that. (Just mapping my life)



Think, girl!

A fragment from a sketch I did a couple of years ago

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=280287379969&ssPageName=STRK:MESE:IT&ih=018

Fighting additives

An interesting site about natural living:
http://www.imperfectlynatural.com/index.php
I've read Janey Lee Grace book "Imperfectly Natural Woman" last year and in some respect it was an eye-opener, especially about unnatural fragrances and other additives. Well I think most people still don't suspect that if you can smell something - there is some substance in the air and it may be very bad for you. Natural essential oils are easy available, I think lavender (for headache and just very nice smell), Olbas (oil mix for blocked noses) and tea tree (for scratches, etc) are must have in any household. But people still use artificial perfume dispensers to mask perfectly natural cooking smells... Instead you can either open the window, or peel an orange, or boil a bit of apple with cinnamon. I sometime put some mandarin peel in the microwave or hot oven (just for few minutes).

Few years ago I bought a little packet of child juice drink (you know, that square type, with a straw) and found out it was full of artificial colourings. Why??? There is no way a child could see what color is his drink inside the carton.

Another thing which bothers me is additives (colorings, flavourings, even perfume) in medicines. Why again??? I'm an adult person and can swallow any bitter pill if really needed. Even kids at eight can. As our funny doctor said: stick it into his baked beans...

Saying all that, I still have lots of problems trying to feed my family healthy food. I don't have a strong will, and even small amount of nagging, moaning, screaming or frowning makes me give up. My son often points to me how much factory made food is better than mine. All those E numbers which enhance the flavour plus I'm not a very good cook... Well yesterday improvisational "curry" sauce was a success and I even was asked to make more of it:

Take 2 chopped onions, 2 garlic cloves, some fresh ginger, a teaspoon of
oil, a little bit of lime, cranberry and orange juice, plus a lot of your
favorite dry curry spices (e.g. coriander seed, chili, cinnamon, allspice, curry
leaves, black pepper and so on) and put with enough water in a food processor.
Process until smooth then gently boil for 5-10 min, adding creamed
coconut. Could be added to meat or vegetables when they are almost
ready.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Sketching

I've managed to do a bit of sketching today (apart from shopping, bread- and yogurt-making and other cooking, taking kids to school and back). I was trying to capture what's left of golden leaves on silver birches, oaks and hazelnut trees.



Also I'm packing and sending away an acrylic painting I've sold recently. It features Thai houses and was based on a photo I took from a taxi window on Phuket Island many years ago.
(Sometime if I don't write down what I actually did today, I feel like time slipped through my fingers).

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Current project (commision)

ACEO cards with movie themes. 4 done or almost done, nine to go.

Zazzle

I've found a new outlet for my art:
http://www.zazzle.com/linandara/gifts

Its a bit like Lulu but more fun: you can order a lots of items with custom pictures on them. Unfortunately I think they only ship in the USA.

Villages - Towns - Cities

White Horse Village - changing China:

I watched a bit of this programme yesterday

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/5103100.stm

and was somehow surprised by a female presenter attitude. She pointed at a lady and said something like that this unfortunate one has to abandon the idea about going away to work in a factory, instead she is doomed to stay with her kids and work on a farm, and that's such a hard work. Well, we switched the TV off after that. I think almost any way to earn money is hard, one way or another. It may be the stress (separation from family and home) or unhealthy lifestyle instead of the hard physical work, but the hard bit is still here. Interestingly, I've heard there was some research showing that men's health is worse if they stay at home all the time, women's health is worse if they go away to work.



I haven't been to China but I see how in the Russian countryside the city folk dreams to live close to the nature, not just stay here on holidays, but most of the village and small town dwellers wants to move to the city, to give up their land, to fill up yet another huge ugly apartment block. There used to be quite a lot of tension and hostility on the buses, but now the better off people unfortunately mostly use their cars.



Once I was walking through a village, seen a nice old house and decide to take picture of it (no, its not that one). Immediately a very angry elderly lady popped out and started shouting at me. I was surprised - I would count it for a compliment if people started to take pictures of my house or garden. Anyway, she disappeared next year - probably moved to a town...



So, I'm bothered with question: Why people who live close to nature, see the beauty every day, have fresh air to breath and birds to listen to, are often so unhappy, jealous and hostile? Are they already so deeply affected by modern consumer culture watching TV and doing their shopping in towns and cities? In that angry lady's village, there are crowds of tourist and pilgrims passing by yet local folk don't even try to organise any farmers market which would be of a great success and helped them to stay afloat, I think. Its just looks like they don't want to be happy where they are. Even here, in Newtown (Wales) I recon my encounter with xenophobic hostile youngsters shows that there is a class of people why don't feel any inspiration from marvelous countryside around them, instead they think themselves being on some unfortunate margin of modern society.

PS. And the size of local gardens doesn't help either. All the fields around, but the ordinary person in Newtown is lucky to have enough land to hung the washing in the back garden! Not surprising there is not much connection to the land.

Citations from Tolkien

A few of my favorite paragraphs from Lord of the Rings by Tolkien:

"He deserves death" - "Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live
deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do
not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot
see all ends."

"What a pity that Bilbo did not stab that vile creature, when he
had a chance!" - "Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not
to strike without need."

"Why was I chosen?" - "Such questions cannot be
answered, ... You may be sure that it was not for any merit that others do not
possess: not for power or wisdom, at any rate. But you have been chosen, and you
must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have."


"Travellers scowl at us, and countrymen give us scornful names. "Strider" I
am to one fat man who lives within a day's march of foes that would freeze his
heart, or lay his little town in ruin, if he were not guarded ceaselessly. Yet
we would not have it otherwise. If simple folk are free from care and fear,
simple they will be, and we must be secret to keep them so. That has been the
task of my kindred, while the years have lengthened and the grass has
grown."

"Here is the Heart of Elvendom on earth", he said, "and here my heart
dwells ever, unless there be a light beyond the dark roads that we still must
tread, you and I. Come with me!" And taking Frodo's hand in his, he left the
hill of Cerin Amroth and came there never again as living man.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Music shop


I've promised to tell my Ebay subscribers about new music in my shop. Here is a real gem - if you have a key to open its box, that is, if you know Russian well:





There is a big collection of songs by my favorite Russian singer, philologist, poet and songwriter










Here his poetry is translated to English:




Its very clever, deep, emotional, witty, thought-provoking. I can't say I love all his songs (the latest ones I don't understand very well) but lots of them always are on my playlist.


Together with Mr Krivoshejev & Mr Stepanov we suspect he is a INFJ too.


By the way, I'm not actually running a business selling music. I though in the past I would, but its too complicated regarding to taxes, customs, etc. So we just sell out (recycle) our (and our parents) CDs, tapes and LPs which we don't use any more as we went digital. Same applies to videos as we are switching to DVDs.






Sunday, 16 November 2008

BP PORTRAIT AWARD 2008 in Wolverhampton

I've seen this exhibition recently
http://www.24hourmuseum.org.uk/nwh_gfx_en/ART56726.html
http://www.wolverhamptonart.org.uk/wolves/exhibitions/003715.html
http://www.npg.org.uk/live/bp2008index.asp

Lots of good art - painterly, skill full and thought-full portraits. For example, Lliana by Krasimir Kolev, Amanda Smith at Vincent Avenue by Simon Davis, Kristy, 3rd Attempt by Geert Schless, Natalie by Jason Walker, Her Name Is Rio by Lucie Cookson, Blue Pool (Datuk Vinod Sekhar Family) by Paul Benney (kids favorite - swimming pool), Melanie by Jackie Anderson (my favorite - a lady in fog).

But two tendencies a bit upset me. First, quite a number of works looked just like good resolution professional photos blown up on canvas. (E.g. Untitled by Peiyuan Jiang - Young Artist Award; Metamorphosis by José Luis Corella Garcia (I actually like the picture), Meralby Joanna Yates). Whats a point of painting then? The eye sees differently to the camera lens anyway. The only case (in my opinion) when photorealistic style really works its when there is no way that you can actually take picture of the subject (if its from the past or from fantasy)

Secondly, there is that hint of admiration of ugliness, illness and injury in some works (like in Sunny Jim by Sue Burns, Hannah O'Brien by Robert O'Brien). I don't mean at all that only classically beautiful people should be painted. But I always thought that the good portrait artist should try to find inner beauty and kindness in any subject. Unless the artist wants to offend or humiliate somebody (including themselves).

Current situation & frugal against my own will

I've read an interesting article by Dmitry Orlov

http://www.energybulletin.net/node/47157

It compares the collapse of the USSR (which I sort of experienced) with present economic situation. Frankly, I've already started to gradually increase amount of tinned and dry food in my storage, buying seeds of edible plants and reducing spending even more.

During the Soviet Union Collapse I was young and naive, lived with my mother and spent most time just dreaming. So I mostly missed it and I don't feel sorry for that. Now I did criticize the consumer culture living in the USA and UK for the last eight years but I feel a bit upset I didn't participated. We never went on a cheap holiday to a popular destination, visiting kids' grandparents instead. We never had flown by a cheap airline (they don't have flights between the destinations we need!). We never had a car. We were buying mostly second hand clothes. We never had thrown away something we didn't need anymore but still useful. Instead we were trying to sell it in our Ebay shop - to earn few pounds. I've been to hairdressers maybe 3 or 4 times during this period because that would cost too much and personally I don't like being interrogated about my life during my haircut. We never borrowed any money apart from mortgage which was unfortunately unavoidable. We had to switch heating on in our house only when it was really needed - to save money. We haven't been buying perennial flowers in big boxes from a plant nursery just to throw them away next season as I've seen many people (and councils) do. I've been trying make my own compost as I couldn't afford to buy some (once it did went really wrong :-). We didn't went much to restaurants. I had nobody to chat for hours on the telephone, mobile or not. We haven't been replacing old things with new unless we really had to. I've missed all that and it looks like its gone for good now...

That's very good, somebody might say. Yes, but it wasn't entirely my choice of lifestyle! Well I think all this happened because I didn't went out to work but stayed at home with my kids and my paintings. That was my choice... although I'd still love to have a Landrover Defender or a motocaravan to visit beautiful and exotic places (Gypsy blood), to have nice organic clothes for the family and to start my own large orchard. Hope dies the last.

Another thing I wanted to say - thank you very much to everybody who sent me kind comments during last few days (sorry for my English by the way). Now that I know that somebody is actually reading what I write - I'm really scarred...

PS. There is a long list of labels (topics, subjects) on the left, so if you want to read say about oil pastels only you can do this. I also have a nasty habit of rewriting old posts or adding something to them - sorry

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Meeting

I've stumbled upon an interesting photo from 2 or 3 years ago in my archive. Its from a medieval Robin Hood Pageant in Nottingham where different times and cultures meet. Not at all that I am advocating for this but I think people often forget that there was a tradition in Europe for women to cover their heads with scarfs and hats.

Friday, 14 November 2008

It was a nice day. I've sold a picture I did in my garden September (moving few hills and houses around). And yesterday I had a call from a repair shop saying my broken PDA has been fixed!
So, another trip to the city is imminent. Last week when we went here I was astonished how city life is strange to me now. And I spent most of my life in cities. Crowds, bad air, rubbish & graffiti... But the choice of things in shops is so much better. Just as well we can't carry much without a car! Anyway, I'm happy I can see so much sky and green hills from my porch now.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Autumn in Newtown

Here's another picture from my Newtown, Powys, Wales. I did it sitting by the river Hafren (Severn), in this September. The colours of fall are more muted in Britain than in Virginia, Vladivostok or Moscow, but it is still the most beautiful time of the year - in my opinion. The combination of golden brown leaves and emerald green grass is stunning.

The painting is available from Etsy:

http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=17268017

Happy summer days

From few years ago...
Just to remind myself how incredible lucky I really am.

Anachronism

I'm an anachronist. Science moves forward, but the rest is not. All so called new ideas are just well forgotten old ones. Reading a diary or an article from long ago I can see that the problems bothering people didn't change. What they call "modern art" is often at least sixty years old...

That's why I'm interested in cultures living independently from time (I think this corresponds to fourth stage of ethnos development in L. Gumilev works http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lev_Gumilev or the spirit of fourth quadra in socionics http://www.wikisocion.org/en/index.php?title=Delta_Quadra), groups where children follow examples of parents, traditions are kept and so on.

Microsoft blues

"Windows Sidebar stopped working"... Not again! Who designs software so badly?

Why can't I see myself typing a password? I'll never have anybody trying to steal it at home. This should be optional.

Program windows popping on the screen all of the sudden without me pressing on them - that's not right too. I used to on several occasions accidentally close wrong window and lose my web page because of that. I wish Microsoft didn't had such a monopoly...

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Xenophobic youngsters in Newtown

Right, me and my children were... I think its called "verbally abused" for two days in the row by a couple of local high school teenage girls. I almost didn't noticed them yesterday. As we were passing them by on the way home from school they were asking each others in unnatural loud voices "How to say f... in Polish". Not actually being Polish I just thought "what a sad life the local girls have" (me and my family, we don't swear and are trying to keep the kids away from this).

Today in the morning, when we just have leaved our entrance door, they unmistakably shouted at us something like "Polish scum" & f. word (a lot). As I started taking pictures of them, they got scarred and walked quickly away towards the Hope Church. I should admit it was the first time I actually almost went to report somebody to the police. As I citizen of this country I feel responsible. People shouldn't be abused based on their nationality, Polish or not (they probably heard me speaking Russian to my kids & I guess Poland is the only Eastern European country they know at their age of about 15-17 years). And I think, nobody should swear in public, especially with kids around. But I stopped just before the police doors. Lets give them another chance, I thought. They looked frighten enough when I pulled my camera from the handbag! But any other incident like this, and I'll do it. As an artist I've got a good visual memory (and my kids too), I know they live on Treowen and go to the Newtown High School. My children immediately told everything to their teachers & friends, so, its looks like incident will be known in town.

I had a bit of a shake because all that - always happens to me in similar situations - part of being an INFJ, I suppose. I'm so easily deeply offended but after that I get to such heights of inspirations and revelations, so, thank you, girls, for that!

Well, I should admit, growing up in a major capital city, I've been a bit xenophobic myself. Sadly, its seems to be natural for human beings. Its more understandable, if immigrants misbehave or form some sort of mafia. As far as I know, its not the case here. Maybe the condition the two girls live in or a family situation are really bad and they just jealous, maybe they have been brought up with hatred, without a slightest idea about moral and legal norms. Maybe they have been offended by somebody from Poland and now think all foreign-born people are evil. If by any chance you, girls, read this, please came forward and explain your point of view!
When we lived in the USA one of our American friends told me: "Don't move to Britain, they don't like Russians there, but we do"... I have been wearing this Russian scarf for 4 years in Virginia and DC. Then, about five years ago, we moved to Long Eaton near Nottingham. I went to a charity shop as usual. It was winter and quite chilly, so I had my scarf on. Exiting the shop I've been asked by two boys about 12 years old "what's the time". I told them and went forwards. Suddenly they started shooting me from their DIY blow guns, passing by Christmas shoppers looking at this with empty eyes. I absolutely froze and couldn't do anything. Well, I understood they had asked time to be absolutely sure that I had an accent. Maybe they even though I'm a Muslim, wearing scarf. Later at home my relatives instructed me that I had either get my telephone and (pretend) to call police, or take some photos of the offenders. So I am prepared now... :-) But I don't risk wearing scarfs on the streets of Britain any more... I also probably should be much more careful speaking my native language (or speaking at all!) : -( Mind you, if people want to hate, they will find a reason for this anyway.
PS. Just can't stop imagining. Years pass, times change, our rude girls are trying to earn some pennies in Poland and Polish teenagers mock them for not being local... Sorry. I'm just being taking myself too seriously. "Educated, sophisticated, but shouted at and hated by some absolute zeros just because I've got a wrong kind of an accent in this part of the word". I really should learn to get ride of my pride... Sorry...

A word about animal research

I watched a program yesterday on Newsnight Review
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/

I think the animal rights people should opt out of the National Health Service and stop using all medicines which were developed using tests on animals (and that should be marked on the packaging). That would be really honest. Scientists don't want to torture animals. They want to save human lives, that, in my opinion, is higher priority than animal welfare. Of course, torturing is bad. Even if kids are torturing a dolly it is bad because the crime is in the mind.

No good scientist would want to make animals suffer unnecessary. Do animals suffer? I think, C.S. Lewis wrote that if you can't understand "I am (suffering)" you can't really suffer, as humans do. Well, that's a point of view. I often think that cats and dogs are suffering living in cities and towns and really should be kept only at the countryside where they don't get run over by cars so often & don't stay in little dirty pens all the time, they have good natural supply of herbs & maybe allowed to hunt (they are hunters after all!), plus can run as much as they want.

Who is really an animal torturers, in my opinion, its creators of wild nature films & programs, who watch and film animals (especially little ones!) suffer and do nothing about this for the sake of "nice" picture. The duty of a human being is to help animals. Obviously we can't stop all the animals hurting each other. But I sometime think, maybe we were meant to. Maybe in an ideal evil-free world all animals would be happy, domesticated and vegetarian (or scavengers)?

Instead of sabotaging research and by this harming lives (both animal and human), the animal rights activists should sponsor the research to gradually reduce and eliminate animal's suffering. Full stop.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Reference photos

All my photos in this blog, my Russian blog, Picasa or Flikr are OK to use as an artist reference (for paintings, sketches, drawings). I'm not greedy (well not too greedy, I hope). I would love to see what you do with them but of course it's not mandatory. I normally take only low resolution pictures because they are good enough as reference for my artwork and I can take really a lot of them.

There is a good reference library at
http://www.wetcanvas.com/RefLib/
but you have to be a member (its free) to save images.

I can't remember where I took this. Must be in a castle in England.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Nice speech

I've been sent a link to a speech by Steve Jobs
http://vbox7.com/play:2226528b
Its in English but from a Bulgarian site. Very mood lifting. Main ideas: Nobody knows what future brings, follow your heart & intuition, but remember about death.

Goblet / Chalice fantasy art work

Here's one of my first oil pastels - few years old by now. I haven't got a place for it at home, so selling for a symbolical price at Etsy:
http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=17136882

I even thought of destroying it, but I just can't. I still like the picture even though I moved forward a lot since that. I did it dreaming of a light pastel & silver colored dining room in something like Cloud City's from Star Wars style. I don't know if we ever will have a room like this...

Fear of old age

I should admit, I really fear becoming old one day. Lonely granny in front of TV in a nursing home... Mind you, its not too bad being a granny on a bike or a granny with an easel. Helping her children and grandchildren everyday and receiving help from them, being an active part of a large family...

Another thing which bothers me is this: Did anyone ever committed suicide because of constant breaking, dropping, spilling everything, hitting corners and door frames? :-)

Food home delivery in Newtown.

Somerfield people are thinking to start home delivery service. They've got a piece of paper by the front cashier to put your name on. So, if you are eco-friendly, car-free, want so save money on fuel, etc, please, do it. Somefrield has a choice of organic and healthy food unlike Iceland - sole home delivery service provider in town at the moment.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

More fireworks


There was a nice firework display in town yesterday. A big official one with jolly Star Wars and Superman music and lots of DIYs. People gathered to watch at their favorite spots. Hilly landscape really helps with the viewing.
I know some people would like to ban fireworks completely because they dangerous and frighten animals. My opinion: people of all ages should be allowed to have fun. Especially kids. On the left a child is trying to reach the falling stars - they looked so close...
I think fireworks are banned in Israel but I've heard from friends, youngsters still do them. Illegally.
The best display I've seen was in 1990s in Geneva (below), over the lake, with music. Mind you, the DIY part went a bit crazy, with people (silly young me uncluded) blowing their fireworks in the crowd, scarring poor tourists... Moscovites too go mad with fireworks on the New Year night for the last few years. Regulations needed but please, don't throw the baby with the water!

Friday, 7 November 2008

Recent art & lots of trouble

I made yet another beach sketch in Mundesley, Norfolk (I love the place!) when we were on holidays. But that's about it. I haven't had a chance to work much on my commissions or in fact any other serious job partly because of school holidays, partly because a strip of bad luck. First, my smartphone broke down and I lost quite a lot of data (look here if you want to avoid my mistake in Windows Outlook: http://www.microsoft.com/communities/newsgroups/en-us/default.aspx?dg=microsoft.public.outlook.contacts&mid=b4b0cc4a-e9ca-437c-a816-55e8a036f5f9 ). Second, my son got ill with a cold or something else. Third we had a pipe leak in the middle of kitchen celling. Plus a gloomy weather & economic situation. Plus my husband radio interview got cancelled. There probably was something else, I can't remember right now.


Anyway, we had some fun on Firework night:

Spam @ .com

Two providers for Internet email accounts today classified their own messages as spam or dangerous:

Google Mail


and Microsoft Hotmail















Who would they trust then?





Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Supermarket blues

Its looks like that there is going to be a Tesco in Newtown. Hurray! I know some people don't like supermarkets, but for a person with the family and no car, home delivery is the only way to have healthy affordable food. There is Iceland, of course, but it hardly ever have any healthy food, and never anything organic! Also I love online shopping and really hate off-line madness: being pushed by trolleys and baskets, and shouted at occasionally... In Nottingham we had a choice of Tesco, Sainsbury, Ocado, Asda & Iceland for home delivery plus local organic vegetable box. We went almost completely organic. So far from it now, despite being "close to the Nature"! There is one place - the Cwm Harry Land Trust:
http://www.cwmharrylandtrust.org.uk/
We had their smallest vegetable box last year but ended up a bit disappointed - with lots of brussel sprouts (half of the family don't eat them) and inedible green hard cabbage leaves. We were so busy trying to eat up the stuff we really hated...

Living in the Soviet Union, I thought angry shoppers were only typical for that side of the Iron Curtain - because of food shortage. How naive! Just a few days ago I've been to local Morrisons (hands full of bags & kids, people with trolleys rushing to the queue in front of us) and my son, being curious, vent standing next to cashier. An elderly gentleman in front immediately suggested that my child was going to steal his pin number!!! A child! I don't know, maybe his little grandson is like this, or maybe he has overheard me speaking with accent and decided to indulge in his xenophobia...

Anyway, once there is Tesco with its home delivery, there will be no need for all that.

Monday, 3 November 2008

More Newtown ACEOs

http://picasaweb.google.com/Linandara/NewtownLandscape#

Some of my Newtown, Powys plein air ACEO card/miniatures.

Textile art with the TV.

Here is one of the examples:
I watch TV just 1 -1.5 hours a day, in the evening. Even so, I feel its a waste of time if I don't do anything else in parallel. So I'm recycling fabric and make something (usually improvising). Most toys end up in kids rooms but few go for sale. This one is called Cheburaha and is available from Etsy.

There was just a few minutes of sunlight today to take the picture. The afternoon was incredibly gloomy...

http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=16873264

American election - I'm tired...

I'm so bored watching the American Election on the News all the time. We are not in America here! None of the candidates looks kind or interesting to me, neither radically different from each other. But Americans sound angry and divided at the moment... Few years ago I was sort of sad when Gore lost (can't remember which party he belonged :) but I've seen him in real life when we lived in the USA. Normally all politicians are for me something like computer generated models - deep inside I don't really believe they exist.