Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Tips to Beat the Winter Blues.

It is thought the winter blues or seasonal affective disorder affects around 2 million people in the UK. It can affect people of any age including children. So, as it's a gloomy start to November, cold, grey and damp, here are some tips to beat the blues. And a happy picture to remind you of more colourful days to come.

As soon as you wake up, open all curtains and blinds- any light is good light.
Maintain your routine- don't neglect your hobbies.
Get outside- dog walkers have to do it.
Ditch the sugar-  sugar feeds depression.
Develop wintertime interests- become a super-chef, a knitter, a blogger, a singer, a dancer.
Practice relaxation- breathing exercises, yoga, mindfulness.
Watch a funny film- it is hard not to laugh.
Keep warm- hot water bottles are great, hot drinks, warm socks.
Keep working out- you will feel better even if it's a struggle.
See friends and family- they might need cheering up too.
Book a massage- a study shows massage appears to increase your brain and body's level of serotonin.

So, don't hibernate, you are not a hedgehog.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

A Picture of 1966.

1966. Oil on card by Celia Turner.

Here is a painting to celebrate 1966, the year in which many of my peers were born. 50 years seems like a long time ago yet also not that long. In England the year is best remembered for the winning of the World Cup against West Germany, good job we have that memory at least. (Well, I don't remember it as such and all it gets in the painting is a little goal at the bottom of the picture)
Other notable events that took place in 1966 included:
The last UK concert by The Beatles.
John Lennon meets Yoko Ono.
Anti- Vietnam war protests all over US and London, Tokyo, Stockholm and Lyon.
Cigarette packs started to carry health warnings.
USSR launches Lunar 9 towards the moon.
Dow Jones index reaches 995 points.
It's the 23rd Golden Globes.
Ba-ath party takes power in Syria.
Muhammad Ali beats George Chuvala in 15 rounds.
215,000 US soldiers are in Vietnam.
Harold Wilson (Labour) wins the General Election.
Soviet Lunar 10 completes its first orbit of the moon.
Andy Warhol films The Velvet Underground.
Frank Sinatra records 'Strangers in the Night.'
Muhammad Ali TKO's Henry Cooper in 6 rounds.
2,400 people attend The White House Conference on civil rights.
The period of relative peace following WW11 exceeds that following WW1.
Brian Jones' final appearance as a Rolling Stone.
Muhammad Ali KO's Brian London in 3 for heavyweight title.
Lunar Orbiter 1 takes first photograph of earth from the moon.
Race riots in US.
'Monkees' premieres on NBC TV.
Walt Disney dies.
Five inches of rain fall on NYC.
The National Organisation of Women is founded.
Jimi Hendrix writes 'Purple Haze' backstage at the Upper Cut Club.
Monkees' 'I'm a Believer' hits number 1 and stays there for seven weeks.
The cult classic 'One Million Years BC' starring Raquel Welch is released.

Our mums were wearing mini skirts, our dads were wearing flowery shirts.
And here we are, fifty years later.
I wonder how I would paint a picture of 2016?

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Not a Rainbow- a Fogbow

A beautiful shot of a white 'fogbow' has been captured by photographer Melvin Nicholson. Mr Nicholson was out walking on Rannoch Moor in the west of Scotland on Sunday when the stunning white rainbow appeared. A 'fogbow' is a colourless rainbow that is made up of tiny water droplets that cause fog. A windswept tree, framed by the fogbow completed his magical shot.
As an artist myself, I especially love this photograph, I can imagine Melvin's delight at capturing this particular image at this particular time, not staged at all, nature doesn't do dress rehearsals or repeat performances after all. He was in the right place at the right time and was rewarded with this gift from nature, and he unwrapped his present and shared it with the world.
                                                             Magical work Melvin.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf by Roger Fry (1917)

I love this painting of Virginia Woolf. The faraway look in her eyes seems to encapsulate the myriad of thoughts that constantly swirled around in her head. I think she looks beautiful which would not be a common description of this great lady. It's such a shame that a generation of cinema-goers will only know of Virginia Woolf through the narrow portrait given in the film 'The Hours' where she comes across a dull and dour woman.
I would have so loved to have been a part of The Bloomsbury Group, those artists, philosophers, writers and intellectuals who revelled in each others company during the first half of the 20th century.
Fancy belonging to a group whose members included Vanessa Bell, Roger Fry, E.M Forster, Duncan Grant, Lytton Strachey and Leonard Woolf himself of course.

What the Bloomsbury Set would have thought of life today is anyone's guess. I think I would have preferred to live in an era of dramatic and important literary and artistic developments and to have had the pleasure of discussing these developments with a group of friends who were also so central to those discoveries.

Sadly Virginia suffered from depression and ended her own life.
But I hope to learn more about her and in doing so celebrate her life.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

The Creative Columnist.

This will be my 51st post. So far the subject matter of this blog has been rather eclectic, a bit of glamour, quite a bit of politics, a smidgen of philosophy, a tiptoe into tarot and a lot of a art.
I do tend to flit from one subject to the other but that's a characteristic of the creative brain.
Some people assume that artists- musicians, writers, poets, painters- are strong on the fantasy side, whereas politicians and business people are realists. This may be true in terms of day-to-day routine activities. But when a person begins to work creatively, all bets are off.
Artists need to combine playfulness and discipline or responsibility and irresponsibility. There is no question that a playfully light attitude is typical of creative individuals. But this playfulness doesn't go far without its antithesis, a quality of doggedness, endurance and perseverance.
When I am feeling creative I feel like I am living life more fully and can easily become absorbed in a project for hours on end. But don't be fooled, having a creative brain is also hard work.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Emotive Intuition and the Victory of Donald Trump.

Good Morning America.

Half of the American people (well, nearly half) will have been nursing their first coffee of the day feeling rather sick. Think of us Brits on June 24th, (well, nearly half of us.We feel your pain) 
A vast disillusionment would be setting in: that as of now the romantic idealisation of America is dead.
As they shift uncomfortably in their chairs they will come to the conclusion that there may not be a happy ending to the novel that is their homeland.
Nearly half of the American people presumed that their fellow citizens still believed in a more liberal approach to life, a bit more of a leaning toward racial harmony and sexual equality; believed them to be an open and tolerant lot, believed them to be, well, more like themselves. It comes as a horrible shock to realise that it's actually you in the minority. It's actually you who voted for the losing campaign.
It's horrible to realise that perhaps you overlooked those fellow Americans, mainly white people, living in mainly rural areas who don't share your views on what it's like to be an American citizen. Those people who base their values on blood and soil, traditional patriarchy and racial hierarchy.
It is very unsettling to learn that the fragile harmony of your political song has been shattered.
But politics is a reckless game.. The American people, like the British people, wanted change, any change and they tuned into their emotive intuition get that change. The problem being that when anger or fear are deployed as the driving motivators for political action, the capacity for discernment is muted to say the least.
We voted for Brexit, you voted for Trump.
When the dust has settled and the shock has worn off a bit you will be able to sit back and ponder the problems that brought you to this point in your history. This will require a good look at yourself and your belief system. It will require you to look properly at our world today and what it has become. 
Then it will be up to you to step up to the plate, edit your novel and start writing the sequel.

God Bless America.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Life and Death

Today I remember my brother who died in 2002 at the age of 42. He had been ill for some time so one would assume his death did not come as a shock but it did. We had grown accustomed to his illness, he had a brain stem tumour. My sister-in-law nursed him at home and his estimated life expectancy had been a few months yet he just kept going. He was bedridden but could recognise us and every now and then would surprise us all with bursts of conversation before silence resumed. Every now and then we were treated to glimpses of his wit and charm. I remember one particularly poignant conversation I had with him. He told me he had been out in the fields with Joe (his father-in-law who had passed away many years previously) and  a few of his other mates. A quizzical look came across his face as he said to me, "But, Cee, Joe wouldn't open the gate, why wouldn't he open the gate, why wouldn't he let me go with him? I wanted to go with him." I imagined a sun kissed field and a big farm yard type of gate, I could practically see Joe with his black shiny hair shaking his head at my brother before shutting the gate and leaving him on the other side.

Joe must have returned and opened the gate.

My brother left behind his wife and four children and a grandson.
The children were devastated, They won't mind being called children even though three of them were teenagers, the other even younger. It was a truly terrible time.

Years march relentlessly on and my brother would now be the proud grand-dad of 12 lovely little (and not so little) people. His children have done well.
But the lilting sadness is still there and probably always will be.
The following passage from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran is for them.

...Then Almitra spoke, saying, We would now ask of Death.
And he said:
You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day
cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death
open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river 
and the sea are one.

In the depth of your hope and desires lies your
silent knowledge of the beyond:
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your
heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate
to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd
when he stands before the king whose hand
is to be laid on him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling,
that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind
and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing but to free the
breath from its restless tides, that it may rise
and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence
shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top,
then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then
shall you truly dance.

Kahlil Gibran. The Prophet.
Heinemann: London