Thursday, 18 July 2013

The Internet and the Creative Brain

Does anyone else have this image.... that when you copy something ready to paste, it's kind of stored in the mouse until you paste it... or is that just me?! To gain a glimpse into my thinking process, if I saw something I wanted to keep and wanted to make sure I can find it again (somewhere on my computer), then I'll copy it (or a link) ready to paste somewhere so that I can find it again. But if, in the process of copying, I lose power to my computer, anything 'stored' in the mouse at the point where the power connection is lost also gets lost. Following?!

Which reminds me of a funny story of when I first got a computer (in the days before the internet... unthinkable, isn't it - I mean, what the heck is the point of a computer WITHOUT internet?! No wonder I saw it as a glorified typewriter!) - I'd just learned about the copy function.... and used it to copy lots of the same symbols I'd found in an exploration of the character map onto a blank page (yes, I really did that!) to save in case I wanted to 'cut' one out and paste it into another document.... YET... at the same time, I also understood that when I started to run low of symbols (because of my very own 'cut and paste' technique) I could then copy more of the remaining symbols onto the same page to save to use next time! Why on earth hadn't my brain connected with the fact that, if I knew I could copy and paste, I only needed ONE of each symbol to do that?! Perhaps because my brain was used to the cut and paste technique used in collage, and other artwork?!

Which leads me into a theory of mine, actually, about the differences between left and right brain thinking - the left hemisphere, often said to be more logical, analytical and objective (more inclined towards the mathematical side of things), while the right side is more intuitive, thoughtful and subjective (leaning more towards creative pursuits). Clearly, from that, even though I am ambidextrous (meaning, I can use both hands), my earlier 'copy and paste' brain mentality showed a leaning more towards the creative side of things and lacked a certain logic even when in possession of the facts!

Brains have always interested me immensely. I was 3 years old when I tripped and almost fell when out shopping with my mother. I know exactly where I fell because not only do I remember it, I still walk past there extremely often (right outside Penzance Post Office!). I tripped over the curb, Mum pulled on my arm to save me from falling. That was that. It was a week or so later when she noticed I wasn't moving or doing anything with my right arm or hand. I then ended up with my arm in plaster for 19 days and, for some reason unknown to me, I was kept in hospital the whole time - but not in the children's ward, I was put on an elderly people's ward where I wasn't even allowed to play with the toys in the children's ward during the day time! Instead, as a little girl of just 3 years old, I played with my (weird looking) panda toy, Peter, that had my name sewn into his ear and went round the old people asking for their tea dregs so I could pour them into the teapot of my treasured tea set to pour out into my little teacups and offer round again! I remember the old people chatting to me while they pretended to drink, being given Liquorice Allsorts, and watching as nurses came in and pulled curtains right round a particular bed, then the bed reappearing empty afterwards.

There's something more to it than that... my mum told me in later life that she was once a secretary to a doctor who specialised in TB research and that she'd been worried I might have it....which might explain what I can see now was tantamount to being kept in isolation, in with those already on their way out and therefore not posing much of a risk if I had, though I've never understood why she thought that and can't ask her now. Incidentally, after 19 days of having my arm in a cast, it was realised I hadn't broken it at all, but by then I needed weeks and weeks of physiotherapy to get the use of my right hand and arm back!

Anyway, point being - by 3 years old I was already using my left hand to do things while my arm healed. Had I been using it before? I don't remember, but that's when I believe my ambidexterity first began to surface. It's a useful thing to be able to do and I believe it helps balance my brain so I can be creative AND (largely, though as the above illustration demonstrates - not always) logical (not at all that I think the two things are automatically mutually exclusive). 

It might explain why, when people talk to me, I see their words in picture form and therefore need to focus my eyes on a 'quiet' spot while I'm listening to be able to see it, as eye contact gets too busy (by gazing into eyes you see into the soul which often has a different story it wants told - and although I'm happy to listen to that, YEARN to speak at that level, most often I've been informed I'm not paying attention to what's being said!). It might help explain why I can smell certain colours, why I am as confused today as to how a telephone works (nevermind the internet) as I was as a child - visualising empty yogurt pots tied together with a piece of taut string half way round the world. It might explain why, when you talk about a certain type of creepy crawlies I don't care to mention, there might as well BE one in the room and why I can't, therefore, bear you to talk about certain things (some may say 'over-active imagination', but how about 'good visualising skills'?!). It may also go some way to explaining why I maintain a very child like view of my world, bordering on simplistic, and why, when my logical left brain hemisphere goes to name a thing like 'mini-weetabix', it seems to merge that information with my creative right brain hemisphere so that the words that actually leave my mouth become 'wini meetabix' (which just happened! I do that a lot!)... enabling both sides of my brain to be employed and happy!

Somewhere along the way the two hemispheres of my brain 'married' or merged, or at least, became very close friends. One did not favour itself over the other; BOTH are employed to assess my world. I think that has distinct advantages.

And this is where computers come back into the story. Before computing, only writers and secretaries (that's a bit of an educated guess) tended to regularly use typewriters (once they were invented around 150 years ago), everyone else used predominantly their left or right hand to write. If anyone has ever seen the book 'The Way of The Artist' by Julia Cameron, you'll know there are exercises to do specifically with the left hand in mind to help regain or unleash creative talents and skills. This is because the left hand is operated by the right side of the brain - the more creative hemisphere. 

My thinking is along the lines of this - with predominantly right hand writers, it's predominantly the left (logical, linear, analytical, objective) brain hemisphere being accessed, and the left and right hemispheres tend to process differently any information coming their way. If you notice (always exceptions to every rule though), the left handed people I've known do tend to lean more towards the arts, music and creativity in all its various forms. With the advent of computing as a way of life these days, more and more and MORE people the world over are learning to write (type) with BOTH hands (though I don't at all do it as I was taught in the few typing classes I received)... which, surely, can only help balance our brains out?! 

And maybe it's only because of the internet that we're hearing about all these things, but more and more people do seem to be being more creative - my newsfeed is FULL of creative, talented people producing astonishing work. More and more people seem to have swung into their hearts too - feeling, connecting, communicating, empathic - living less in their heads, perhaps?! Maybe the internet - the very medium through which we now express ourselves so frequently, allowing us to sit here, typing with both hands - has the added advantage of not only connecting us all up, but is also enabling both sides of our brains to work in mutual co-operation.

And that HAS to be a good thing – right?! 

(Image supplied by 

Sunday, 7 July 2013

The old dolls house

When I was little we had an old garage to the side of the house. It was built of stone and had a huge wooden door at the front, though it was boarded up so no-one had access. It held Mum's 'things' from a previous existence - a life before my younger sister and me. Two things I remember most clearly - a large, very old grandfather clock - dusty and intriguing, even then I knew it held stories. I just never was sure whose. The other, a large dolls house. It would be worth a pretty penny today, had it survived. I never understood why, still don't to this day (and probably never will know now), we were not allowed to play in there. Whether she was afraid the building may collapse on us (it was old)?

I guess, because access was denied (by almost unspoken rule), I never really paid much thought to what lay inside it beyond occasionally peeking through small gaps, but without much sunlight reaching its nethermost regions it was hard to see anything beyond dark shapes and the probability of large spiders, which I definitely didn't want to see. That is, until the day an annoying girl from along the road, one neither of us enjoyed playing with much (she had a habit of puffing talcolm powder in your face, or squirting air freshener or fly spray over you), appeared on the doorstep wanting to play. Perhaps Mum didn't know how to say no either, anyway, we ended up spending the afternoon with her. Deana Hill (I even remember her name) was the one who 'worked a plank loose' that day, while Mum busied herself indoors making jam tarts. We were able to peek inside this mystical realm behind the stone walled garage for the very first time. Deana, however, not content with just peeking, took it a stage further and squeezed herself through the small gap. Of course, now WE had to follow, if only to prevent her from walking off with 'Mum's treasures' (and yes, that was a distinct possibility). Oh the thumping of my heart as I followed her in, terrified of the prospect of being trapped inside there by an enormous spider guarding the doorway back out. There's probably some deep symbolism in that, given my childhood. However, that's when I first laid eyes on the grandfather clock and THAT'S when I first saw the dolls house. 

My sister and I would lie awake at night, talking about the dolls house. The miniature carpet sweeper, newspaper, bucket, mop, coal scuttle, mangle, jug, furniture we'd seen.... OH the hours we spent, dreaming up everything we could think of that could be in miniature inside that house. In truth, the dolls house would be rather disappointing in comparison with our imaginations, yet it mattered not one jot what was actually inside - for we were dreaming it up as we went along... 

What happened to the dolls house? Were we ever allowed to bring it indoors to play with?  No, and I've never understood why. Eventually, after one gale force winter too many, we lost part of the corrugated sheeting off the roof one night, and once that happened, the weather crept into it. The dolls house rotted along with everything else. Sad but true.

I've never forgotten, though, that 'hidden potential'... the joy of living your dreams as if they were real.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Plans... and don't forget THE GIVEAWAY!!

They tend to change in a whipstitch, don’t they - plans... today was no different! Having found myself with some extra time on my hands suddenly, I got on with some orders... and in the middle of that, happily listening away to my music (visualising myself up on stage as lead vocalist with the Dandy Warhols), I suddenly got an idea for what I wanted to do for my giveaway over on Facebook...  after quickly sketching it I liked the idea of it so much I decided to make it there and then. So here it is...  inspired by the hill I live on and the seascape below it. (You won’t see me in it, I’m flaked behind a pile of grass, unable to continue up the big hill until nightfall, when an owl will carry me the rest of the way).

If you’d like to be the recipient of this mixed textile brooch - just leave a comment underneath. That’s it. Nothing complicated. No sharing necessary (unless you feel to and I won’t nudge your elbow more than twice). Simples.  Now, let me think of a date... hmm...

... ok, how about July the 4th... 151 years ago, on that auspicious day, Lewis Carroll began to tell Alice Liddell a story that would become known the world over as ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’... a book I hold dear for all sorts of reasons (and because the world IS a little crazy, dontcha think)...

So, on July 4th I’ll print out the list of names next to the comments, put them all in my ovenglove and get one of the cats to randomly select one (failing that, my daughter), I’ll then announce the winner via my blog (which I will then advertise on Facebook to keep them happy). 

Good luck! 

And the winner of the brooch is..........

Well done Anne-Marie! 
If you could please get in touch and let me have your address I'll get it ready to post off to you.

To everyone else, I'm sorry it wasn't you this time... but there will be other giveaways :-)

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

I do NOT have the attention span of a ~ ooh, look at that squirrel...

After taking what, to me, seemed like an age setting up a blog I could actually navigate round (once I’d figured out what to do), it seems I’ve been rather... absent. I was going to say negligent, but I figure a blog is something that doesn’t really need looking after, it just sits there, like my black cat, Ted, waiting patiently in the hope that you might wander over to the fridge and remove the cheese.

It’s not that I haven’t been busy.... OR creative... perhaps a little too much of burning the late night candle (and I do SO want to get on with my Paulo Coelho book without the pages rapidly blurring), I guess, like all things, I wait for inspiration to strike. Actually, currently, I have rather too many things on the go. Maybe that’s not just a current thing. I have 2 paintings on the go... go being the operative word - both could go in several different directions, although I do have a general plan (though we all know what happens with plans) - having recently got back into painting I realise there are a few canvasses calling my name... but I really should also get on with the papermâché projects I started. I’m sort of sitting here typing this while waiting for the postman... although even I realise that’s an excuse as the postman round here has a big hill to negotiate and usually doesn’t get to us till early afternoon - I might have at least another hour and a half to wait yet... but you know how it is when you’re excited about something.... he might, MIGHT just have a little package for me containing gold leaf! He might not, of course, there’s always that chance – but half the fun of Christmas is Christmas Eve. I’ve not used gold leaf before... not sure why, maybe because I’ve been parenting for over 30 years and one of the children has always needed something - can’t very well answer the “what’s for tea?” question with “gold leaf on toast...?”

There’s also a series of cards I want to make – an idea I've
 had kicking round for a while now, along with various other textile projects I have dreamed up in folders. Then a new idea struck this morning, which I’m quite excited about if only because I want one! Couple all this with home-educating, ensuring my middle daughter has enough clean clothes to suit her busy social life, chasing round after two sons who seem to be operating a secondhand crockery business from their rooms and currently hosting a Spanish student, you’ll start understanding why days seem far too short and nights seem even shorter. If I just stick to one project and see it right through to the end before starting another I’m afraid the squirrels start looking far too interesting. Are there squirrels in my neighbourhood, I hear at least one person ask? None that I know of (though a neighbour has seen foxes in her garden), I was using artistic licence just because I have one. I made it.

Oh, and just to let you know, the postman’s just been... with my gold leaf... so I’m off to find a squirrel to gild...

Friday, 1 March 2013

Soul food and craft stalls...

Hmm, am I wrong to be feeling this chilled about holding my first craft stall tomorrow?!! I have plenty still to do, it's not as if I'm even ready - a fair few sewing jobs to finish off, magnets to glue on some of them, ways to display items still to work out (one to decorate first!), need to photograph the new stock I've been busy making over the past 2 weeks so I can update my website, price things up,  remember all the things I need to pack ready to take, lists lists lists all over the place (rarely seem to get ideas when in the same room as the original list) and an 'official stall helper' badge to laminate for my daughter - who's helping tomorrow!  

Despite all that I am feeling rather chilled out about it... I'm approaching from the perspective of it all being experience rather than it being about selling all my stock and getting a shed load of orders. [Could I even cope with a shed load of orders??!]

The event itself is a private function. I don't normally do stalls - just doesn't fit in with the rest of life or the fact that I don't drive... getting myself and my daughter to these events via public transport - with all the stock and paraphenalia and a lot of walking to do in-between - is not an option that leaves me feeling very relaxed! Most of my selling is done online or via word of mouth (so do give me a shout out if you feel to!). I know a lot of the people attending the event tomorrow live on low income ~ and in that sense my work is quite suited, since I well understand the restrictions that can impose on anything non-essential and deliberately try to keep prices down to make it more affordable to those in a similar low income situation. I don't belong to the school of valuing one's art a little too preciously. I do, however, believe in the inspiration behind the old Chinese proverb: When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other.

I live in a world that nourishes me through my eyes, through my sense of smell, touch, hearing (bird song in a quiet place, or after rain - divine!) ~ these things are important for our sense of inner-connectedness, our soul-food, as much as actual food is to our physical being. Which reminds me of another favourite saying: “We are not physical beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a physical experience.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

Whilst we need to nurture our physical bodies, we also need to remember that our souls need some nourishment too, or life can get a little overwhelming. 

Many of those going have self-esteem issues, something I battled with in the past ~ my stall will be bright, colourful, cheerful, affordable... people will be greeted with genuine smiles and no desire to push a sale onto them. I'd like people to leave my stall feeling somehow uplifted... and that's the energy I love to work with, that's what I consider to be my *real* work. 

Anyway, on that note - I have a biscuit tin to cover with strips of glued on tissue paper! Have a fabulous weekend! <3

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Hindsight, it's a wonderful thing.

I've sat moreorless all day today [in between other stuff, and actually mostly I stood, following the best light around], decorating felt hearts, sewing tiny glass beads in all colours and shades, sequins and teeny tiny buttons with holes so small it takes, on average, 6 or 7 'stabbings round in the dark' before I actually get the thin beading needle to find the buttonhole through the back of the fabric each time. 

I realise, too - the more I go on - how silly of me it was to mix together all the giant bags of assorted sequins I bought several years ago - how much simpler had I kept them all colour coded and not been so overcome with the colour rush that in a heady daze I mixed them all in one enormous container. Now if I want to decorate, say, a green heart in shades of green I have millions of different coloured sequins to search through for the right ones. 

I'm also wishing I hadn't bought mixed colour bags of beads. I have this thing, you see, about colour. I think it goes to my head quite quickly - like a glass of strong wine mixed with lemonade, drunk through a straw. Seems like a good idea at the time, but there comes a time you regret it...

I briefly had an image of Cinderella flash by, going through the sequin box - sorting colours one by one, but reason tells me I may have to start again, buy individual colours and shades and store them in individual containers that are easy to rifle through and don't cost HOURS!

Anyway, I managed to decorate 11 hearts today, 8 more to go...

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Work with what you've got

We moved into a house last September a lot smaller than the one we'd lived in for 17 years. Our front room here houses our fridge freezer (since the kitchen is also a lot smaller and allows only room for a small under counter fridge - not much good with 5 of us here) and doubles as my workspace. There is no room anywhere for a table. It took time and effort to fuse that room together so it felt less 'confused'.

I don't look back with regret - that was then, this is now... you have to stay focused on what you have now, don't you, but I may have what could be termed 'workspace envy'. I sigh inwardly, inaudibly, sometimes when I see pictures of proper work spaces... you know - a table large enough to spread your work out on, SHELVES for all your boxes of paints, materials, buttons, beads, threads and jars of scissors and pencils - decent overhead lighting.

Anyhow, no point bemoaning what you haven't got, it can terribly affect your ability to be creative and my directive has always been 'work with what you've got'.

A friend recently gave me a lovely wooden computer desk which I managed to make a bit of space for and now has my old Singer sewing machine sat on top - how lovely to be able to just take the lid off and begin sewing straight away, rather than the rigmarole of having to lift the machine out from its hidey-hole, balance it on top of an old blackboard that I had to lay flat on top of the ottoman that holds all our towels (also in the front room, since the airing cupboard I had to have built into the boiler cupboard and is only large enough to hold bedding), then kneel down on the floor to sew! Not very kind on my knees! Yesterday I was able to STAND at the sewing machine to do my bits and pieces ~ what bliss!

Last night I was up late sewing for this craft fair in under 2 weeks - I moved all my sewing paraphenalia into the kitchen for that since the strip light casts less shadows and I can actually differentiate between cerise and crimson in there! How lovely to spread all my boxes of beads, buttons and sequins across the worktop knowing, at that time of night, there was no-one needing to disturb me to get food!

Only problem with being sat up half the night (as so often happens!) is that the following day I feel really tired! Anyway.... this is is a picture of the scene in my kitchen late last night... point being, I suppose, where there's a will, there's a way! :-)