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!