Chewing my keyboard

Friday, May 27, 2005

I personify all that is good, pure, and peaceful... apparently...

You scored 54% Esotericism, 34% Power, and 24% Malevolence!

A mythical being of Chinese mythology, comparable with the Western unicorn. Ki-lin personifies all that is good, pure, and peaceful. It lives in paradise and only visits the world at the birth of a wise philosopher. The unicorn, which can become one thousand years old, is portrayed as a deer with one horn, the tail of an ox, the hooves of a horse, and a body covered with the scales of a fish. It is one of the four Ling.

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online dating
free online dating
You scored higher than 61% on Esotericism
free online dating
free online dating
You scored higher than 30% on Power
free online dating
free online dating
You scored higher than 30% on Malevolence

I think I'm going to try find a picture of a Ki-Lin and paint one; I've never heard of one before.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Wielding the radiator roller of destruction...

Two more pieces of artwork:

My first still life I did at my Oils and Acrylics evening class. This is in acrylics on paper.

A unicorn in pastels. This is 70x50 cm. The shadowing doesn't come out too well (the unicorn does have 4 legs, not 3) but you can get the idea.

I painted the unicorn for a friend (or drew it - pastels are a dry medium and you can rub them out) and she really liked the half-finished picture... then I realised I had a bit of a problem.

Pastels are, in essence, chalk. The painting is done on a 70x50 cm slightly floppy piece of paper. I can't 'fix' it because it darkens the colours to soot. Pastel paintings are so fragile that you can lose detail even carrying the thing about and the pigment will drift if they are stored the wrong way around. They have to be framed under glass immediately and that means glass because perspex causes static which leads to the pigment lifting off the picture. Even glass can cause 'lifting' so you have to use a double mount to give distance between the pastel and the glass. Framing for a picture of that size would be probably about £60.... I'm giving the picture away for free and thus problem.

I didn't want to bitterly disappoint Liz since she's seen the unicorn half-finished and loved it. I don't want to do a copy in a better medium since it'll look different...

Anyway, I've now bought a 60x40 cm canvas. It's a deep-edged gallery canvas which means it can be hung without framing and the shop provided it in a nifty translucent plastic bag with carrying handles. I've primed it with black primer (using a radiator roller. I had one accident with the carpet but fortunately it's an industrial carpet and I *think* it's come off) and I'm going to paint a large red dragon in acrylics. If it turns out ok, I'll probably repeat with some other fantasy animals.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

The War on Fashion

Has anyone noticed that the Labour government seem to have a real uniform/fashion thing going here.

They've obviously decided that why they don't like yobs wearing hoodies is because they'd look far better in orange. Has anyone ever considered that maybe a load of youths wandering about in bright orange jumpsuits hanging floral baskets might be intimidatory? In fact, more intimidatory than youths in hoodies on the grounds that they're not just suspected yobs - they've been tried and judged to be yobbish already.

I can almost understand the 'evading CCTV' thing at Bluewater. After all, people are discouraged wearing crash helmets, balaclavas, etc. in banks. It's not even the dress code thing necessarily (after all, lots of clubs have dress codes and a shopping mall is private property), although this is a debate in itself. It's the fact the government felt the need to jump in and agree that I object to. I think they're missing the point entirely, and have an abnormal fixation on fashion... and I'll explain why.

The CCTV issue can be pretty much dismissed as a red herring immediately, unless Bluewater instigate a policy so that all headgear must be removed before entering the shopping centre (a bit authoritarian but at least vaguely comprehensible). Why? Well, I somehow suspect that if I wore my very wide brimmed black hat in Bluewater (it shadows the whole top half of my face so you can only see my lips which I usually paint bright red. I think it looks glamorous), I wouldn't get thrown out. In fact, if a whole gaggle of us went in wearing large floppy straw hats completely shadowing our faces from CCTV, I doubt anyone would blink an eyelid. However, if a load of vaguely 'chav-looking' youths were standing about taking videophone pictures and flicking cigarette ash whilst wearing tweed, cords and brogues, I bet they'd be chucked out fast enough.

Hence, the problem isn't the hoodies. So perhaps it's the fact they're in a group loitering... Although what's loitering? Are we going to prevent people standing about in a particular place in a group in a shopping centre for a specified amount of time? After all, if a group of 15 old ladies are sitting about in a shopping centre smoking then they're theoretically 'loitering' but I'm sure we wouldn't want to throw them out. However, if a similar group of 14-16 year olds wearing sportswear were sitting about in a similar place then they might be intimidating people by 'loitering about in a group'.

Hence, the problem isn't CCTV, it isn't hoodies, it isn't being in a group loitering. The reason why these particular people are intimidating is because they are 'youths who may have a resemblance to people on the chavscum website or Vicky Pollard'. These youths at the moment happen to wear hoodies and the fact of their presence, regardless of what they happen to be doing, intimidates people doing their shopping.

Given that these youths can't exactly change what they look like (as I say, I doubt they'd stay undisturbed long in the shopping centre even if they were wearing pinstriped suits) then who else might intimidate people doing their shopping? Well, black people. So how about Bluewater ban black people? Offensive? Racist? Well, obviously.

Everyone agrees that being harassed or assaulted whilst visiting a shopping centre is a problem. However, there is plenty of security in shopping centres (usually out the front of shops) so why don't they wait until someone (in hoodies or otherwise) actually does something that is intimidatory or violent and THEN throw them out. A perfect system that doesn't discriminate against 'possibly scary-looking' people, 'foreign-looking' people, groups of people standing about, people wearing large hats, people wearing hooded tops and caps, etc. Simple...

Sunday, May 08, 2005

The thin end of the obesity crisis...

I decided to go for a walk to Cribbs Causeway, the Maaallll on the edge of Bristol. Maaallll being how they pronounce it in the vaguely creepy and dystropic public service announcements that keep ringing out. It kind of sounds like deep south American pronounciation of mall but produced in that intensely reassuring sort of British voice they used to have on government educational adverts in the 1960s. The ones about what to do in the case of nuclear war. In this case, instead of making annoucements like "This is a colleague announcement. Can Mr Jones go to the south door?" they make announcements like:

"If you get separated from your friends, family, children, shopping trolley full of grenades [ok, I made the last one up] or pets please meet at the fountain. This is the fountain in the centre of the maaallllll. Welcome to the mallllllll and enjoy your stay. In the case of nuclear war, do not panic. Please assemble with your family in the furniture department of John Lewis. Ensure that you have bought a flash torch and some bottled water and tinned food from Marks and Spencer. Tilt a table slightly to the side and then collect some duvets from the second floor. Prop the duvets up against the table. Now, ensure that you have found a radio and switched it on before crouching under the table wtih your friends, family and pets. Then, wait for further announcements that it is safe to come out from under the table." [SNIP]

Returning to topic, I was looking for a skirt. I came back sans skirt with something of a grudge against clothing manufacturers. The 'creep' of clothing sizes is pretty common knowledge. My mum is 1 1/2 stone heavier than she was when she was my age and yet has miraculously decreased a dress size. Shoe sizes have also increased although this is possibly due to better nutrition rather than obesity. I used to wear a size 5 1/2 and my mum wore a 3 1/2. I bought a size 3 pair of shoes in a sale that are slightly tight on one foot; normally I wear a 4. I'm sure my feet haven't shrunk.

At age 14, I outgrew my mum's size 12 skirts. I wore a modern size 12 and was 9 stone. I dropped to 8 1/2 stone where I've remained to this day. I then was a borderline size 10/12.

Today, I have reached a point where I can no longer buy clothes that I like on the high street. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not gaunt. My problem is several-fold:

a) Teenage girls clothing (think Topshop, New Look, etc.) is about 1 size smaller on average than more mature women's clothing (think Wallis, M&S Per Una). However, teenage girl's summer clothing assumes that you have a perfect body and that you are actually a meek naturist. It's all lycra and enlarged belts/handkerchiefs. I model my dress sense on Jackie Onassis and Audrey Hepburn, not Jodie Marsh. This means I want to buy clothes from Wallis and the Per Una range, not Top Shop

b) The minimum high street size in 'mature' women's clothing is a size 8. I used to look good in size 10 M&S jeans (I still have then; they still fit). About 2 years ago, I discovered I was wearing size 8 in Kaliko (expensive older woman) and size 8 in M&S (try finding a size 8 in M&S. I dare you?! I dare you?! If there is one it'll be stuck on a size 16 hanger and there'll be one of them in the entire store). Today I tried on a size 8 top in M&S and it was huge about the waist and had enormous gaping armholes that made my arms look like a couple of broom handles. This leads onto...

c) I'm a funny shape. Apparently women have increased waist size disproportionately compared to their hips, etc. meaning the hourglass is becoming increasingly rare. I'm an hourglass; manufacturers cater for the average woman and, hence, this doesn't really assist dressing. Things either ride up over my hips and fit my waist OR they fit my hips and end up being inadvertant hipsters (or just form unsightly folds at the waist). My chest is pretty similar. I have to wear an awful lot of elasticated waists and lycra to look like I have a waist. It's very difficult to get styles to fit me too. If I wear tops for a woman with a small bust then I end up nearly falling out of the thing (think keyhole tops, tops with gaps in) or looking like I have a huge, bulky mound stuck in my mid-section. If I wear styles that suit a big bust, I look flat chested (a bit like this) and it normally draws attention to the fact that I have huge visible ribs extending from my neck to my bosom.

d) I'm skint. I have a feeling that I could probably get into Karen Millan. However, I can't afford £120 for a top that is dry-clean only.

Hence, despite spending 3 hours in Cribb's Causeway, I could find not a thing to wear! Apart from a corset - sadly that was £100... I'm probably going to try the funky independent shops on Park Street/Park Row and see if I have more success and, if not, the Le Redoute website (Le Redoute size 10s are tight).

Friday, May 06, 2005

Join the Lib Dems for fresh air, freckles and freedom!

Just processing out my data and desperate for a chatter with someone about the election. Sadly, everyone else is in bed.

I had an interesting day. I've had terrible 'mental fog' and insomnia for weeks and ended up lying awake until midnight on Wednesday night. I was mentally tired but physically it was as though I'd just got up. Good I was not in work on Thursday, then.

By 7:30am I was attempting to pick-up a 'leaflet drop' Tom had left me of 'Good morning' leaflets behind some trees. What Tom didn't tell me was the trees were in the centre of a roundabout on a busy road and it took me about 10 minutes just to get across before I could do anything :P I leafletted two council tower block. One was utterly lovely - the front was deceptively dull but the back was 'open access' on about 6 levels facing a scar of rock. It seemed to be predominantly occupied by old ladies who had put garden gnomes, wind chimes and plants on the landings. One waved at me as she read her leaflet :D From level 6 I could see the distant, misty hills and the sun rising over the buildings. My only quibble is that access to the upper levels was by an open access, spiral staircase which was a bit hair-raising given that I have vertigo. I kept feeling I was about to fall off almost constantly despite the fact there was a mid-high wall around the stairwell.

The other one wasn't as pretty but was higher and the view was amazing. From there I leafletted in Clifton for a couple of hours near the Suspension Bridge (again, pretty scenic) and in the high street of Clifton where all the nifty designer clothes shops are. After a short detour to check my e-mail and buy some mushrooms, I spent the first part of the afternoon leafletting students in the campus area. It was wonderfully sunny with a light breeze. I was wearing no tights and an above the knee satin skirt and the occasional gust was sufficient to lift it. Just as I was addressing a group of young men lying on the grass near the Wills Memorial Building, a gust of wind lifted my skirt right up across my face, causing one of them to remark he was definitely going to vote for us following a display like that, that I was a definite plus point for the Lib Dems and that I should flash my pants more often! If we had won by 1 vote, I guess I could have said it was my skirt that won it (maybe, just maybe).

After that, I walked back to the committee room and got a lift to the edge of the Clifton ward to deliver more leaflets. Clifton is very hilly and has great views. I suss that 'Clifton' probably means 'Cliff Town' or 'On top of cliff' or something. It also has lots of Georgian old houses and trees. I spent a while leafletting near Clifton College which is oddly Oxfordian. Whilst there, I met a bad tempered old lady in a retirement home who refused to take leaflets since "The election is almost over and the poor dears are all in bed at this time" (it was 3 in the afternoon). By this point, the wind was getting up (I accidently 'mooned' some students on the way home and probably gave some lads playing rugby a thrill. Fortunately, the girls were having similar problems with their wrap skirts and we all found it very funny), I had several blisters, one of my toenails had concertined into my foot and my soles had friction burns. I carried on leafletting and got colder... and colder... and colder... I started shaking. I finished the delivery round and managed to get to the polling station by a force of will. I had goosepimples all over and it was 5pm. I had eaten most of my dinner at about 10 am and had only had soup since then and I'd been leafletting solid for 10 hours, only sitting down once for 2 minutes. I had 'glucose crashed' in a way I hadn't since I nearly collapsed on Grassmere during my first Lakes trip.

I had perked up again by about 7pm after I'd made dinner but was utterly exhausted. I watched the Culture Show in bed and went to sleep at 9pm. I woke at 1:30am when I realised I had forgotten to switch my phone off and Chris N. had texted me a Kettering result. I checked the Guardian website and found Labour had won. Thus content, I slept again like a stone until 4 am when I woke up due to having cold feet. I was dreaming I was canvassing some people who were having a rock carving party in their lounge. I recall dreaming about hanging onto some netting over an abyss but don't remember what that had to do with the rock carving party.

Once again, I switched on my phone and by this time had accumulated quite a few text messages about various constituencies. I found we had won Bristol West from a text from Tom and one from Jonathan who had just seen the result. Jon didn't mention Cambridge so I assumed we'd lost it. I slept naturally and deeply until 6:40am when I woke up and checked the BBC website and found we had, in fact, won Cambridge. I had two conversations with people who hadn't gone to bed yet on MSN. I felt full of energy, mental fog that's been plaguing me for weeks lifted, well rested and what I thought was my face darkening with cold last night is actually a facial tan that is unsurpassed since I went on holiday to Chamonix. My nose is dark brown with freckling. Luckily, I only have a tiny bit of a burn on part of my exposed neck. My hands and wrists are also very tanned. It's beautifully sunny again and I want to chatter to someone about the election... Sadly I can't until tonight since everyone else has gone to bed... :(

Monday, May 02, 2005

The borrowing of Liberty Belle

Checking through the aggregated blog I noticed that Liberty Belle has been borrowed!! :D I'm pleased because I think she's kooky... She should be appearing as the cartoons for "Young, Free and Liberal: A Young Person's Guide to Liberal Democracy" soon... In fact, YFL is being launched (preliminary date) on Sunday 15th May in Bristol so watch this space.

The violet eyes of Venice

As a break from work (lots of it) and deliveries (lots of those too), I'm doing a new piece of artwork, this time in acrylics.

It's currently at this stage but after some thought and a poll on the LDYS forums I'm probably going to take out the right-hand side of the picture just after the tower and replace that area of the picture with distant hills. I am going to draw the Emmanuel II monument on the right-hand edge of the picture under the eyes and 'near-field'.

I printed lots of pictures of Venice to get an idea how to draw the houses, etc. and being very good at visualisation, I could imagine standing on the edge of the Grand Canal looking out over the water. I've never been to Venice but I now have a deep and burning desire to go sometime after I finish writing up since I adored Rome so much. Sadly I have no one to go with and trekking about for more than a day on your own sucks... It is at these moments I wish I had a boyfriend (or a non-coupled-up close female friend or even a group of people who are really into the Venice/Florence idea and want to do it the same time as me). Travelling anywhere in the company of one other person requires you both to more than enjoy one another's company. You also want to either be very flexible or want to go the same places, have a similar 'activity level' and work together well and support one another in the case of problems.

I think I've been taking the wrong approach to 'potentials'. My personal revelation for the day is that it's about more than meeting well-educated, cultured guys who you fancy a duvet day with. Although initially you need to have some connection to the person of some sort that makes you want to find out, even if it's pretty faint. It's about meeting someone who (when you get to know them) you believe you could go to Venice with without beating them to death with your suitcase before you get out the departure lounge. Or having them storm off in central Venice in a huff. Or just being bored out of your mind because they want to sit out in the sun for 5 hours and you want to visit another 15 places but neither of you are prepared to compromise. If you enjoy their company but you can't envisage the Venice trip really working - it's a friendship. If you don't really hit it off and you can't imagine the trip at all then it's probably lust. I'm not entirely sure I've met any guy yet who I could make that trip with painlessly. On the other hand, perhaps I'll have more success finding them now I know what I'm looking for...

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Still life... (just not as we know it >8) )

I attended my first art class on Tuesday evening (after delivering leaflets - delivering leaflets always comes in somewhere) and I began a still life in acrylics - a hat and a tomato. I didn't get to the tomato and I didn't really 'feel' the hat, at all, as an object. It ended up being a set of random, abstract colour that I didn't feel looked much like a hat.

The instructor said that I had a good grasp of tone. I learned how to draw angles using a pencil as a guide.

Yesterday, I decided to practice drawing the hat and tomato (in a slightly different position) from imagination using oilbars since I knew the lighting angle and the shape and colour of the hat because I had been drawing it all Tuesday evening. Again, this was on a really tidgy bit of canvas paper (I've now bought a larger pad... and a larger white oilbar since I seem to have eaten the way through about 1/4 of my white oilbar).

I still haven't quite mastered the hat. I didn't remember how the folded edge of the brim looked so it's not quite right, and the shading isn't quite correct. However, this is probably my best piece with the possible exception of Le Signore del e aumentato.

Link: The Mythological Profile Test written by LacedWithASmile on Ok Cupid