Friday, 31 October 2008

Hallowe'en blues

Don't like. Mostly. First its so unhealthy to consume all this sweets. Parents, do you really want you kids to loose their tees? Or to get a bad habit which can lead to diabetes? Secondly, for an Orthodox Christian it appears to be slightly on evil side. Well I love costumes & masquerades & traditions & rituals but I think pretending to be evil could lead to becoming evil. If we haven't been able to get away to my mother-in-law, I'll went for a sad princess, widow or a pirate for my kids.

Only thing I love about Halloween is carving a pumpkin, putting a candle inside & putting it on the porch - its pretty. And I love pumpkin soup of course!

But I should admit I'm feeling somehow quite sad if no kids came knocking on our door. It means that either they parents are scared for them and don't let them go, or its that horrible British age segregation - "respectful", rich & quiet pensioners' bungalows far away from tiny young families semis with no much of a garden...

Papua: Point of view

The Curious Tribe *New To UKTV Documentary* Weekdays, 9pm (from Friday 5th
September) A televisual, anthropological experiment, The Curious Tribe sees
Donal MacIntyre host five members of the Insect Tribe from Papua New Guinea in
his London home. Turning the tables on his own visit to Papua New Guinea, the
tribe swap their war paint for sweaters and travel to Britain to satisfy their
own curiosities about the British way of life. The Curious Tribe, new to UKTV
Documentary, is a look at the ordinary things western society takes for granted,
and through their eyes we begin to discover that some of our own customs and
eccentricities are not as far away from theirs as we might have thought.
Throughout the three-part series, the tribe encounters snow, escalators, beds,
and even a football match.

I really liked that documentary from 2007. It is useful to be able to look at your life from a completely different point of view! Favorite moments: when one of the PNG people is in the winter forest and says something like "how strange and sad it is when trees are without leaves"; when in a church one of them says that man can't build this, only God. Well, that's right, man can't build this without God's help! We keep forgetting about this.

I enjoyed this "natural" people's resistance to shopping culture - they couldn't imagine buying things they don't need. And a special treat for a person from Russia like me: how PNG people see "retirement houses". For them its obvious that children abandoned their parents in that nursing care home, didn't returned the favour for bringing them up! Majority of the people from this planet would probably agreed - but not British or Americans. Mind you, seeing my mother and elderly grandmother arguing horribly all the time with the grandmother rapidly loosing any touch with reality I started looking better towards nursing homes. But I don't think it is an option in Russia at the moment, for better or for worse.

Anyway I was amazed how healthy the PNG people looked, even women with 7 children. Imagine a British, American or Russian lady with so many kids! Maybe its because they start early in New Guinea...

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Credo: All saved

I believe that God will save everybody. Eventually. Some people might end up in hell for a while. Ok, for a very long while. But there always should be way out. I can't comprehend when people state opposite and then say they believe in a kind and loving God. A punishment only justified if it is a way to improvement. A loving father will always wait for his prodigal son. If good people go to Heaven they never will be happy here knowing that somebody is doomed to suffer whole eternity.

I also think that all good human ideas & creations will be saved by God for the future perfect world where everybody join together in endless self improvement through love, creativity, learning & helping others.

Lawns are evil!

Well I don't like them and partly blame them for decline in numbers of bees and butterflies in Britain. They're only OK if kids are really playing on the grass. But then of course the lawn won't be neat! Otherwise its a horrible waste of space, owners efforts and electricity. How well all this ENORMOUS space in Britain could be used by individuals & councils for growing edible, beautiful, wild & beneficial plants! No, its few species of grass in gardens (for keeping up with the Johnses) - and the same at the countryside - for the sheep.

I'm not alone ...
Hint of Dementia: Monoculture America

Russian preserve

Best way to preserve fruits is to mush them with sugar & keep in the fridge (our outdoors if it below freezing in winter - it can't freeze). Very popular in Russia. No cooking, so vitamins are preserved.

Mix 1:1 with sugar for most fruits, put a layer of sugar on top of the jar. You won't need an airtight lid. It normally keeps OK till next summer. If any mold appears on top - just discard it, the rest of preserve will be fine. For more healthy option you can try to substitute sugar for honey or agave syrup. We do this way our homegrown blackcurrants, white and red currants (last two are better filtered - they make clear jelly - I think its due to high pectin content), kiwi (actinidia), gooseberries, raspberry, rosehip, buckthorn, strawberry, juneberry. Same for wild cranberries, bilberries, lindenberries, dewberries. For the more acidic fruit better to add more sugar (honey, syrup). Use food processor for convenience. There is similar way of preserving sorrel & other herbs with salt.

Frankly I think ordinary cooked jams are a bit of waste of time - they don't have any health benefits. Although we do apple + aronia (black rowan) or apple + burberries jam or plum jam when we have to much of fruit.

Cross Contry (very cross indeed ;-)

Yesterday we crossed our little island in its widest part yet another time. By train, of course, as we haven't got a car. It takes about seven - eight hours & 4 trains. You can look out of the window from Newtown to Shrewsbury and from March to North Walsham, but not in between - unless you like graffiti & warehouses. Kids always go mad at same point. I wish they had sort of mini-playgrounds on trains (and in airports). In one of the trains we couldn't get easily to our seats as there was a lady with 3 babies (probably 0-1-2) layered in one small pushchair and two more small children with suitcases. She was standing next to a toilet, and older kids had to go inside to let us pass along the train. And no more adults around to help her. She did look SO tired. I just couldn't stop wondering: how on earth she end up like this?

Anyway, seat reservations is a real problem in Britain. Train companies just don't put reservation tickets and you and your kids can't claim your pre-booked sits and have to stand all the way somewhere near a smelly toilet...

Another problem for me, who was born in Russia, is relationship between people of different ages. Once we travelled at Christmas time with my mother-in-law. We did booked the seats but our train got cancelled. So we ended up in a very crowded carriage. There were many students, but for hours NO ONE have been offering his or her seat neither to a very tired lady in her seventies or to small children pushed around in the ail. Finally a Chinese girl did... This situation is almost impossible to imagine in Russia (and probably in China?). On the other hand I remember boarding a train in Newtown with my husband and two kids and a respectfully looking elderly gentlemen literally rushed in and occupied the last free table/4 seat compartment. And there were many single seats available!

Yet another problem is behavior on trains. Loud music, drinking & swearing to be precise. We used to go from Nottingham to east cost (Skegness) to take kids to the beach. That train was normally very slow, hot and full of strange public who never heard of using headphones... At some point I remember starting singing myself to protect children from this mayhem. Conductors do nothing. Other passengers are too scared. I even remember being in the carriage with very badly behaving football supporters and there were policemen on the train but they were just popping their heads in the door for a second (checking if somebody got killed???)and then disappearing!

Well that's what we eco-friendly lot have to put up with! I should say that despite British Government destroying lots of railways there still probably much more trains running across British countryside than in rural Russia.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Recent art

Here are two more samples of my recent oil pastels. Both A4, resulted from random encounters on the Web. The landscape "Warm Lake" has been sold on Ebay for about 10 quid. The nude is still available from Etsy (

Random Images 1

Sometimes I'm lucky to see real beauty right from my window. That's how the American winter landscape on the left has been made.

I do take hundreds of photos every time I go out in hope that one day I can use them for my artwork. They constantly appear in random order on my desktop.

My wild imagination and dreams often bring me vivid pictures worth painting.

I like using 3D modelling for creating landscapes and/or people to paint later.

I also feel its fine to be inspired by random photos in books, newspapers, on the web, in movies. After all, I'm not copying them photorealistically, merely interpreting. Artist Pablo Picasso said "Good artists borrow, great artists steal." And, of course, all artists & photographers steal from God a bit... Poor Van Gogh copied his favorite artists when couldn't afford live models.

Last, I sometimes do copies of historic art from all over the World to learn about old masters approach.

Random Images

I love finding inexpected inspirations for paintings all around me. If I have a chance, I'm going wandering with my sketch kit outside. Here are two examples out of a series of ACEO miniatures I did during this spring in Newtown, Powys.

Three Things you should Never do to an Artist...

From my own experience & what other artists told me:

- Never say "you have talent". For many artists it translates into "you don't work hard - just use your talent every time".

- Your painting is very good: it looks almost like a photograph... (then whats a point of doing a painting???)

- Never give to an artist an artwork of another artist as a gift unless you are ABSOLUTELY sure he or she will like it. Just ask! We lot have normally very strong preferences in art!

PS. Personally I found patronizing words like "clever girl" be real killers...

2009 Calendars from the Distant Lands...

There still is time to order calendars with my artwork at I think they will make an unusual present - not many of them around anyway. Full previews available. I maybe even manage to make a couple more till New Year - Britain & People.

Distant Lands by A.Cook by Alexandra Cook
Welcome to the Distant Lands! Fifteen of my artworks (mostly seasonal landscapes) are included in this 2009 14-month calendar. It has British & Christian holidays (could be changed - just send me a message). I hope you'll enjoy it!(26 pages ) Paperback: £9.97

Fantasy Lands by A.Cook
by Alexandra Cook
This it 14 months 2009 calendar illustrated with my fantasy artwork. It contain British holidays (this could be changed - just send me a message). I hope you will enjoy it. (26 pages ) Paperback: £9.97

My Russia by A.Cook My Russia by A.Cook
Print: £12.49 (with postage in the UK)
This is 14-month calendar for 2009 illustrated with my own paintings and drawings dedicated to landscapes, people and buildings of my native Russia. Contains British and some Orthodox holidays. If you would like other / custom holidays please let me know before buying and I'll create additional version for you. I hope you'll enjoy my calendar!

Monday, 27 October 2008

Any artists from Newtown, Powys? Lets start a group!

I moved to Newtown about a year ago but haven't met any local artists yet.
I used to belong to the Nottingham Society of Artists ( and a local Art Club ( in my old place. Couldn't find anything here (maybe there is a group?). We don't drive (eco-friendly) so I can't really go to nearby towns to join their groups.
Ideally I would love to be a member of an open-minded & friendly all-media & style art group (club, society, association) with an aim to actively help each other improve they work, exibit it and, of course, sell it. Also get painting outside together. Let me know if anybody else interested.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

An Art Gallery

Just wanted to write down few thoughts about a local art gallery (Oriel Davies)

Small quiet town, not really much arty folk around... Exhibitions in the gallery are mostly very -very - very weird (strange). I love experiment and feeling of strangeness - as just one side of creativity. But why poor people have to think that only this is ART? Where are simply local artists? There was an "open" exhibition with entrance fee I couldn't afford... Where anyway are works which somebody could have in ordinary comfortable home and simply enjoy them? I know there is good art created right now - look in International Artist Magazine (, for example. Who profits from promotion of weird and disgusting in art? Why feeling of peace and happiness in art is ignored?

My novell

I've sold the first copy of my Russian novel few days ago.

I'm thinking of translating it to English, widening the story at the same time, but have to find somebody to review it first...

Why write in English?

Well, my native language is Russian and of course it would be easier to write in Russian. But
1) I live in Britain;
2) I've already got a Russian Blog at
3) Some issues interesting for English readers are not interesting for Russians and vice versa.

Recent art

Marshland and Kids with Pond. As you can see, at the moment I'm very much into painting in oil pastels and influenced by Vincent van Gogh (have been reading about him half of the summer). The image on the right inspired by a scene in my garden (Pond, hills&kids:Original Oil Pastel Painting by A.Cook). The one on the left is very loosely based on a picture from a Baltic wild nature book (Marshland in early spring - Original oil pastel painting). Both are still available.

Total brainwashing...

I am normally not interested in politics much. But now, living in the UK and being predominantly Russian, I'm horrified by the amount of hatred directed by news towards Russia and everything Russian. Politicians and mass media won't tell the truth (they never do anywhere) but this time they unfair propaganda really making me very depressing. I hope there still are some free thinking people. It feels now if I tell others where I was born - they will throw stones at me. I'm really almost ashamed of having a British passport.

Well, this is the opposite side:
It will be biest too, but at least then you can balance points of view for yourself.

Time to start blogging...

Hello, I'm a Russian Ukrainian Gypsy British artist and a housewife, EII. My interests (at the moment) include Sci-fi, fantasy, art, socionics, gardening, crafts, cooking, languages, medieval & traditional music, walking, writing, science, folk & classical music, permaculture, decorating, photography, Russian literature & poetry, philosophy, religion, wild nature, travelling, history, survival, self sufficiency, Native American cultures, Tolkien, ethnography, Star Wars.