"Whatever you are, be the best you can be."

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Living with the Amish

I've just finished watching the first episode of the new Channel 4 series, Living with the Amish. I loved it. I expected it to be an interesting insight to how the Amish live, with perhaps a little amusement at how the teenagers manage to live without their mobile phones and personal music players (MP3's and iPods). It had all this and more, and I was so surprised by how emotional and moving it became.

On first sight, when meeting James, one of the British teenagers trying living with the Amish for six weeks, I found out he was 17, unemployed and a college dropout. I thought lazy bum, can't be bothered to work or study. But then I got a surprise. I learnt about how his mum was arrested for arson when he was 14, his younger sibling went to live with his nan, and he went into foster care. After that, he went into a hostel. He now misses living in foster care because it was nice living with people, now he lives on his own in a tiny, dingy looking hostel, with nothing but a tv and video games console for company. He actually appears lonely. And after he got to know Jonathan, the kind young Amish man he was staying with, he actually seemed to wish he was his father.

All the teenagers were moved by the people they met, even Urma, an older Amish woman who had been brought up in the Amish community, and later spent 18 years living "in the world" (away from the Amish community), got married and had children. She now lives back with the Amish community after realising she missed the community and the feeling that if anything happened to her, the Amish community as a group would all come to help her.

Urma was speaking with Siana, the young girl originally born in Sierra Leone and moved to England when she was 2, and runs a Fashion Blog, amongst many others. Siana seemed to find the Amish clothing to be the hardest lifestyle changes so far, as she felt she was losing her identity. And this made me think, I often believe the clothes I wear express my personality, almost without different and striking clothes, I wouldn't be me. Now I think the Amish lesson here is that clothes do not make who you are inside. Change your clothes, you are still the same person. The Amish accept you for who you are, and Charlotte said to Jonathan's wife (Maryetta I think her name was), that she wished her own community was more accepting like that.

In British society, we make so many judgments of other people based on what they wear. So we feel we have to dress a certain way, either to meet expectations, or to stand out from the crowd. We cannot accept ourselves and have peace with ourselves in plainer clothes.

Charlotte freely admitted that back home in England, she would sit outside sunning herself, while her mother painted her nails and brought her cups of tea and coffee. She had never done washing up in her life, her parents never nagged her, and it seems she doesn't do any housework at all. So it was quite a shock to her to learn to tidy her room, do the laundry and washing up. Yet surprisingly, she loved it! She got on very well with Jonathan's wife, and in the short space of a week, they grew very close. As did James with Jonathan. It became a very emotional farewell at the end of the week, with a eat-out, and the British teenagers tearfully giving heartfelt thanks to Jonathan and his wife, with not a dry eye amogst them. It was beautiful.

I think the Amish have a lot to teach us, and I am looking forward to the next three episodes of this series.

Friday, 18 November 2011

New Music: Il Divo - Regresa a mi (Unbreak My Heart)

Today I got an email from Muzu.tv letting me know about some new music videos Il Divo had uploaded, about some of the songs from their new album (they sound really good by the way), and then I stumbled across another music video they had uploaded. 'Regresa a mi' which means 'Unbreak My Heart' - which if I remember correctly, was originally a song by Toni Braxton, many years ago? Anyway, this is a beautiful and emotional version of the song, which somehow they've managed to make amazing in the way they arrange the song with their harmonious vocals. I fell in love with this, not only an amazing song the way they sing it, but also a lovely video, with an old-world feel to it. Is it set in the 1930s, or somewhere around there? I just love it. And I hope you do to...

on MUZU.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Nanowrimo 2011 Here I Come!

Nanowrimo 2011 is fast approaching, and I have decided to have another go at it. The challenge is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. It is a Big, Fun, Scary Challenge, but it's addictive and I love it. I am spending the last couple of weeks of October planning it, and hope to have a blast writing it next month. Here is the synopsis so far, it's called "Urban Sci-fi" (working title):

Urban Sci-fi

Earth, the fabled long lost homeworld of the human race has been found. There are billions of primitive humans living on the planet, blissfully unaware of the many extraterrestrial species eager to explore and exploit them and their little planet. In it's defence, an interplanetary Union despatches a covert team of human and non-human specialists to find and protect this planet from extraterrestrial exploitation. For some it is an exciting voyage of discovery, for others, an emotional journey to their homeworld, and discover the secret origin of their own species.

Yet just as they begin to uncover the mysteries of this planet, on the verge of discovering how the human race miraculously crossed over into space with no knowledge of their home planet, extraterrestrial enemies start crawling out of the asteroid belt, and prepare to wage war on them and their long lost planet.

You can follow my progress on the Nanowrimo website, my username is Green_Raven.

Wish Me Luck!

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Hitch (A Short Writing Piece)

Here's a short piece I tried to keep down to 100 words, but landed on 116 instead. It's inspired by the move Hitch starring Will Smith. I recently rewatched it and loved it. So here's a little Drabble Day style writing based on the main character...
Tall, dark, and handsome. That was how they’d described him. The description fit pretty good. A pretty generic description, although Alex Hitchens was anything but generic. With a suave style all his own, a walk and a smile that exuded confidence with every sway of his well built shoulders. One wink and a lopsided grin from him, and every woman he aimed it at, would gladly fall to her knees. No woman could resist him. Except the one woman who stole his heart. All the while he was busy teaching others how to win the woman of their dreams - it was the woman of his dreams that finally taught him how to fall in love.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Autumn Cigar Box - 1/24th Scale!

Here is a new Cigar Box miniature scene I have just done, in 1/24th scale! I usually collect 1/12th scale doll house miniatures, so this was quite a challenge working with items half the size - especially with tiny apples! Hope you like what I've done, and everyone have a happy Autumnal Equinox! :)

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Tree Landscape Complete!

I finally completed my landscape! It's been difficult working on this one, but I am so glad I finally completed it. It was worth finishing as now I am proud of it! There are still areas I need to improve on, I am a fledgling landscape artist, I do need to improve the contrast and make the picture darker in some areas. But this is a good start I think with a difficult reference image (see previous post). Thanks so much to Retha for offering me so much help and support - without you and would not have completed it!

It just goes to show that it is worth finishing your pictures, no matter how badly you think they are going - they do improve once completed, and you have something to be proud of!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Fantasy Creature - Gryphon

Today I had a go at Wetcanvas' Creature Feature - the challenge this month is to create a Gryphon, a fantasy creature with combined elements of an Eagle and a Lion. I have since discovered that I need a little more practice at drawing animals, as that's the best way to learn how to create convincing supernatural creatures. I am pleased with how my beak turned out, the eagle's head is good although I think I shortened the neck a little too much. The wings I would move further along the back, and possibly make them larger. Proportions are very difficult to get when you are combining various elements of different animals! Here is the reference photos I used to create this Gryphon.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

A Happy Little Shieldbug!

Finally we have colour! I really had to push myself today to have a go at something. I haven't done any drawing for a while, and I guess the insecurities start to creep in. Can I still do this? But thankfully, once I chose a picture I liked, and looked simple enough for me to have a go at, this is what I came up with - A Happy Little Shieldbug!

I've seen these creatures in my back garden, I think they're really cute! Tiny, but they seem able to just leap from one plant leaf to another. Love them! :)

Friday, 22 July 2011

Fearless Fashion

Fearless Fashion

Never be afraid to create your own style.

This is what I came up with today when I started to have a play on Polyvore. I created a funky red and black combination, being daring and fearless, and combining anything I damn well pleased! And it felt good! We should have more confidence in dressing ourselves up anyway we please. Never mind what anyone else thinks, this is our style, our fashion, we do it our way!

And this is the image that inspired me today:

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Can't Wait to Put Your 20's Behind You?

I just discovered an article on Sienna Miller, saying she Can't wait to put her 20's behind her. Sienna Miller is a 29 year old English actress, model and fashion designer, who turns 30 in December later this year. She says she can't wait to put her 20's behind her and embrace her 30's.

"I think, if you put a camera in anyone's life and document it daily from the age of 21 to 27, there are going to be things that aren't always pretty. I feel as though I experienced my 20's in all their glory and all their disastrousness. Now, I'm much more calm. It feels like a new, more serious decade." Sienna said, then added, "I can't wait to be seen as a woman. But I know I probably have to contribute to that with behaviour."

I find this really interesting as I am also 29 at the moment, but don't turn 30 myself until next year. And now I wonder, will my 30's be better than my 20's? Perhaps the decade you spend living in your 20's is really an experimental decade, when you are still discovering who you are and who you want to be.

When I was younger, in my late teens, I thought when you were in your 20's, you had reached adulthood, and were a proper adult then. But now I'm not so sure. A lot of people in their early-mid 20's go to university or college, still learning their trade and profession, and figuring out who they want to be, and what they want to do with their life. Personally, I finished my education in my late teens, and started working then, in an office. Since then, on and off through different companies, I have pretty much done the same line of work, with one minor blip in cooking when I worked in the kitchen of a small cafe. But generally, it's been office work for me. I find myself at the end of my 20's decade, unemployed, unable so far to get an office job, and still harbouring what feels like distant dreams to be an artist and writer.

This decade hasn't been easy for me, being a teen in my previous decade seems a doddle in comparison. It was fairly straight forward what you do - you go to school because you have to, then it was a fairly easy decision to go to sixth form and study, because I didn't know what I wanted to do. But in this decade, there has been no straightforward plan, I have moved from company to company, and perhaps found it a little difficult adjusting to working life, student life seemed so much easier and familiar, which it would do after 12 years of education as a child. If I could go back and relive my 20's, I would probably do things differently, I've had some tough times then, so no I wouldn't want to relive it. But I hope that the next decade will be easier, with less difficulty. But who knows what the future holds?

I would like my next decade to be much more productive for me, doing the things I want to do. I want to become a respected lady, like Sienna Miller begins to describe. (I am very inspired by ElegantWoman.org website for that). I want to be ladylike and shed any bad habits I've accumulated over the last few years. I want to practice my art and become a skilled artist. If I had worked hard on my art in the few years I have been unemployed in my life, I am sure my skills would be much farther on my now. I also want to work on my fiction writing skills. Why can't I be a writer and get a novel published? Hard work and perseverance should improve my skills. And I'd like to improve my Maths skills without a calculator too.

Perhaps this next decade will be a self-improvement and accomplishment decade? One where I turn myself into a lady, improve my art, fiction and maths skills; get a part time job, and finally get my art and writing published. Then perhaps come the end of my 30's, I can look back with satisfaction and joy, thinking By Golly I've done a good job!

Friday, 15 July 2011

Book Review: The Vampire Diaries

I recently finished reading the first novel of Vampire Diaries - The Awakening & The Struggle (Books 1 and 2). I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I love the TV Series, and watched the first two seasons before reading this book. I got quite a surprise, the characters do not exactly match those in the series, sometimes it's just hair colour and history, and small differences in names, like Tyler Lockwood in the series, is known as Tyler Smallwood in this novel. But there are also large personality differences, and major plot differences, certain characters are killed and others turned into vampires that certainly hasn't happened in the series.

So in summary, if you are not too worried about differences between plots, characters and mythology between the series and the books, and you aren't looking for something to mirror the TV series you know and love, then happily read this book. Otherwise, I'd just stick to the series.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Writing Exercise - Describe a pen

I found a writing exercise I wanted to have a go at, asking me to 'Describe a pen!' Such an ordinary object, I think everyone knows what a pen looks like! So I've tried to give it a life of it's own, so that you can see it and imagine it with a personality! A fun little challenge that makes you think of the details! :)

"The cold metal pen felt alien in her hand. Even the raised 'MICRON' logo stuck out sharply, embedding itself in her hand. Almost as if trying to brand her."

Monday, 23 May 2011

Fashion - Casual At Home

Casual At Home

I've been rethinking my wardrobe lately, wanting to make it reflect me more, to be comfortable, yet still feel I look good. I remember when I was at sixth form, I loved my clothes, I would choose to put something on because I loved it and it made me feel good. I want to fall in love with my clothes again. And the first step I think, is having some nice casual feelgood clothes, and I really like these! Feminine in colour and pattern, yet traditional tomboy clothes, just like me! :)

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Royal Wedding Spoof Video

This is amazing! I loved watching the real Royal Wedding on April 29th, but today I just discovered the Royal Wedding Spoof Video, which I believe may be the same video the tabloids alledged Prince Harry actually liked and posted on his Facebook page just before the wedding, and suggested it would give people an idea of what to expect! Brilliant!

The following video is a behind-the-scenes video apparently by OK Magazine! It gives a humourous behind-the-scenes look, and you get to talk to some of the Royal lookalikes. This is such a fun video, I don't even think the Royal family could be offended by it. Such fun, I love it!

Friday, 8 April 2011

New Music I Like

Here's some new music I like, there's some country music, some classical music, and some pop music too. I hope you like it too.

1. Thompson Square - Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not

Thompson Square are a new American country music duo, comprised of husband and wife team Keifer and Shawna Thompson. I love this song, it's a cute romantic story, which is helped by the fact this is a husband and wife duo. You get the feeling the lyrics are telling you little snippets of their romance and how they got together. It feels real and natural and totally believable. I love it! This video is currently number 1 in CMT.com's music video charts, and well deserved. Enjoy...

You can only watch this video direct on Youtube:
Thompson Square - Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not

2. Camilla Kerslake - Closest Thing To Crazy

Camilla Kerslake is an English classical crossover singer with a beautiful angelic voice. I originally loved this song when I first heard Katie Melua singing it, who also has a beautiful voice. Somehow Camilla Kerslake manages to surpass the original, with even more beautiful melodic tones. I love this...

3. Sick Puppies - Maybe

Sick Puppies are an Australian rock band who just seem so fresh right now. It could be that they have a new album out, Polar Opposite, and that they're boasting "This is Sick Puppies like you've never heard them before", or maybe just that I've not really paid attention to them before. But they feel new and fresh to me, I love this song, I love the message in it, and I can't help but feel happy and optimistic when listening to and watching this song here...

4. The Hoosiers - Bumpy Ride

The Hoosiers are a fun English pop/rock band, probably best known for their Goodbye Mr A single released a few years ago. This new song has really great vocals, an unusual sound, and just eats into your brain. I really like it...

5. Muse - Neutron Star Collision

This song is perhaps not as new as the others I've chosen here, but I really like it. Muse have done this song as part of the soundtrack to The Twilight Saga: Eclipse movie, and I love it! They sing about how Love is forever, and for vampires, it really is forever. A brilliant and powerful song, to a beautiful and powerful movie...

You can only watch this video direct on Youtube:
Muse - Neutron Star Collision

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

I Want To Be A Skilled and Great Writer!

Lately I've been organising my somewhat chaotic bookshelves, and seeing what novels I want to read. I used to read a lot of novels when I was younger (in High School), and when I spent over an hour each way travelling to and from work. It was either that or fall asleep on the bus! But since then, I haven't read much of anything. I've joined the site Goodreads.com, you can find me as Sketching Girl here. I set myself a challenge to read 12 novels this year, and so far I've managed two, including a graphic novel.

I started reading one and found I didn't like it, the style of writing I didn't care for, the lack of description and not being able to picture what was happening put me off. I have read amazing books like A.C. Crispin's Han Solo Trilogy, and Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series. They have amazing descriptions I can picture vividly, and main characters I can believe in, and thoroughly love learning more about.

But reading a book I really don't care for, and I believe has inferior writing quality, has really shown me what I don't want my writing to be. I don't want to get a book published only to be ashamed of it. I would hate for that to happen. So although in the future I want to be a successful and published author, I want to earn that right properly. I want to write and practice my craft until I consider it really good. I want to be proud of what I submit to publishers/agents. Please don't let me produce rubbish! Thank you to the poor author (who I shall not name) for giving me the spurt of inspiration to write more and to hone my skills. I don't just want to be a published writer, I want to be a GREAT AND SKILLED WRITER!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Rolf Harris Impressionism Class

Right now I am so inspired by Jamie Oliver's Dream School. He's bringing together the world's best in each subject he wants to have teach at his school. I recently enjoyed Alvin Hall teaching Maths Class, as Maths is one of my weaknesses, and he teaches it in a really interesting way, and makes it relevant to our everyday lives!

But I wanted to post this Introduction to Impressionism by Rolf Harris, where he inspires and amazes the kids in this school. I really enjoyed watching it, and it really made me want to have a go at it. Even though I don't use paints, I believe I could use similar rag blending techniques using graphite pencil to create similar impressionist paintings. I really enjoyed it, and I hope you do as well.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Maybe It's Time To Change...

I love this new song by Sick Puppies called 'Maybe'. It's a happy optimistic song, the video is full of sunshine, and gives you hope. The message of this song seems to be if you don't like where you are right now, you have the power to change, you can make things better. You just have to choose to do it. And everything will turn out right. It's a lovely song and video, I hope you like it...

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Researching A Novel...

I am currently researching my novel, (hence my apologies for not posting as much on here). The novel I am planning and putting together at the moment has a working title of: "Ghosts Of Time" - it's a science-fiction fantasy story about various people from different eras of time brought together to save the world from a hidden threat travelling through time. As there is a lot of travelling to different eras in time, and my characters all coming from different eras in time, I am finding this novel needs the most research. I am currently researching the Victorian era, an era I love also as I love dolls house miniatures, I find myself more familiar than I would normally be with the fixtures and fittings in a Victorian home.

Funnily enough, the more research I do, the more questions I seem to find I want answers to. Although I am finding out more about my characters, and there personal backgrounds, I also wonder what else I can do with them, and what other skills I can give them. I know the Victorians were very interested in the Occult and did seances and things, and I wonder if I can make my Victorian Lady character a witch? I know that prior to the Victorian period witches were hunted and burned at the stake, but that Queen Victoria got rid of the laws on witchcraft, so that they were no longer hunted and burned at the stake. Does this mean that witches were more accepted and more open? Or did they still feel the need to be in hiding? How open were Victorians about witchcraft, and did they consider seances to be a part of witchcraft, or just an interest in the occult and the afterlife?

Research does fascinate me and you can learn more to add to your stories, and more questions always seem to arise out of more research. For me, research is exciting and fun. I love discovering new things and picturing my world and my characters more clearly, and finding exciting new things I can add and adapt to my story!

But how much Research should you do? And at what point should you stop researching and concentrate on your story? I can easily get lost in research and planning and never start writing my story! Still, I'm having fun at the moment! Off to research some more now...

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Tuesday Tunes - My Top Five

I am endeavouring to get to know today's modern music. Here are the top five tunes I like this week.

1. Brad Paisley - Letter To Me

Brad Paisley is an American country music singer-songwriter and guitarist, whose musical style crosses between traditional country and southern rock. His songs are usually laced with humour and popular culture references, and this one is no exception. This song is basically what he would tell himself were he to write a letter to himself when he was 17 years old, it has nostalgia, a little sentimentality, and of course, some humour. Makes you think what you would say to your 17 year old self. It's a lovely song taken from his current album, The List, which currently sits at Number 6 in the Official UK Country Charts. Here is Letters To Me...

(N.B. You will have to click on the link below the image to watch the video on Youtube, as embedding is disabled on this song)

2. Sara Bareilles - Gonna Get Over You

Sara Bareilles is an American singer-songwriter and pianist. This song is taken from her latest album, Kaleidoscope Heart, released just this week, and not yet in the charts! It's catchy, it's fun, feels a little jazzy and I love it!

3. Adele - Rolling In The Deep

Adele is an English singer songwriter with an amazingly strong voice. She sings songs of heartache and love lost. Like this powerful song, Rolling In The Deep...

4. Sugarland - Stuck Like Glue

Sugarland are an American country music duo, comprised of singer–songwriters Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush. They do boppy happy country-pop songs, their previous track was All I Wanna Do - another extremely catchy happy song. This song, Stuck Like Glue is an equally happy song, and somewhat crazy when you see the video! Still, he is a cute guy she's chasing...

5. Tinchy Stryder (feat Melanie Fiona) - Let It Rain

Melanie Fiona is a Canadian recording artist, who is releasing her second album later this year (in July 2011), The MF Life. She has a good voice and should have a promising solo career. I don't care for the rapping in this song (apologies to Tinchy Stryder), it's just not my cup of tea. I think this would have been a brilliant song if it had just been down to Melanie's vocals. As it is, it is still a good song, but not a great song. Let It Rain...

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Browncoats, Are You Ready To Bring Back Firefly?

OMG, There's a chance Firefly might come back! According to Blastr.com, Nathan Fillion and a couple of the Firefly series writers, Jose Molina (who wrote Trash and Ariel Firefly episodes), and Jane Espenson (who wrote Shindig Firefly episode), have said they would be willing to drop everything and do Firefly again!

This all started because The Science Channel have bought the rights to the Firefly TV Series and will be airing it from March 6th, in their full originally intended order, with some extras. This inspired Entertainment Weekly to interview Nathan Fillion and ask if he would do Firefly again now, if Joss Whedon and Fox came to him and said they had screwed up. Nathan replied:

"Yes. Yes. I would examine very closely Fox’s reasoning — I’m a little gun-shy. If I got $300 million from the California Lottery, the first thing I would do is buy the rights to Firefly, make it on my own, and distribute it on the Internet."
~ Nathan Fillion

These immortal words have inspired Browncoats to renew their appeal to bring Firefly back again! And most specifically, to help Nathan Fillion buy Firefly! They've set up a brand new website, Help Nathan Buy Firefly, and a matching Facebook page. Their intention is to raise enough cash so Nathan can buy Firefly! They're collecting pledges and raising interest right now, then they'd like Nathan to acknowledge and approve what they're doing, then they'll set up a non-profit organisation for us to donate our money to. I for one would be glad to do anything to help bring Firefly back to our screens. I love that we have new Firefly comics, Joss Whedon isn't totally done with the series, and neither are we! BRING BACK FIREFLY!!!

So go 'like' their Facebook page, and follow their website (works in any Blog or RSS feed reader), and help us bring Firefly back!

Love keeps her in the air when she ought to fall down...

Don't worry Mal, we'll get you back in the air.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Beautiful Music - My Top 5

After watching the Brit Awards, I realised just how out of touch I am with modern music. I am in my late 20s, and it just feels like I am not young and hip anymore. I have no idea who most of the artists are, and I don't feel moved and excited when I hear their music.

So I decided to search out the Official Music Charts and see what I was missing. From that, I have compiled my own personal chart music, of what I am enjoying at the moment. I have to admit, this mostly came from the Album charts and some from the classical music charts. I guess as I am maturing, so is my taste in music. I hope you like what I have to share:

1. Andre Rieu & his Johann Strauss Orchestra (feat Mirusia Louwerse) - Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again

Andre Rieu is a Dutch violinist, conductor, and composer best known for creating the waltz-playing Johann Strauss Orchestra. When you put Andre Rieu in front of an orchestra, magical things start to happen. Music that really moves you, and takes your heart for a dance in the magical moonlight. This track is taken from his current Number One album in the Official Classical Album Charts, Moonlight Serenade. This is a live performance which is sung with the beautiful and enchanting Mirusia Louwerse, a soprano opera singer with an angelic voice, all the way from Australia. Here is, Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again...

2. Katherine Jenkins - Ave Maria

Katherine Jenkins is a Welsh mezzo-soprano. She is a classical-popular crossover singer who performs across a spectrum of operatic arias, popular songs, musical theatre and hymns. She has an angelic, slightly deeper operatic voice, which captures your attention. She recently appeared in the Doctor Who Christmas Special, which featured her beautiful singing voice echoing through the quiet corridors like a sorrowful siren. Very memorable and very beautiful. This song is taken from her Premiere album currently sitting at Number eight in the Official Classical Album Charts. The video below includes an introduction by Aled Jones, which I'm afraid I don't understand a word of as I am not welsh, and do not have a clue what he is saying! Though I am sure it is something lovely about Katherine Jenkins. Here she is, singing Ave Maria...

3. The Overtones - Gambling Man

OMG! The Overtones, where have you been all my life? How did I miss these guys? The Overtones are a five - piece British/Irish doo-wop vocal harmony group from London, their music is bouncy fun, and they put on a great performance completely in sync with one another. They look a lot of fun, and I really hope they stay around for a long time to come. OMG I love them! Here they are singing Gambling Man on This Morning, which also gives us a great opportunity to meet them...

4. Imelda May - Tainted Love

Imelda May is an Irish vocalist and musician, whose music reminds you a little of old Hillbilly music and Jazz combined. It's a little unusual and at the same time a breath of fresh air. This performance is taken from Jools Holland's Live BBC Show, and shows her to be a good live performer too. Why wasn't she on the Brit Awards? Please enjoy her version of Tainted Love...

5. Talay Riley - Sergeant Smash

Talay Riley started out as a very successful songwriter, he is now branching out in his own with his second single, Sergeant Smash, which grabs your attention from the military drums right at the beginning. I love the music video, which features military uniforms and pretty cool dancing to a strong drumbeat. I love this, striking, catches your attention, and soon becomes a very likable track.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Drabble Day 100 Word Story: "Edge"

Today I found Aheïla's Drabble Day post, a challenge to write a 100 word story, give or take five words, on whatever word prompt she chooses. Today she chose Edge. I really enjoyed having a go at this, I've never tried to write a piece of fiction so short, it really taught me to be concise with my writing, and find shorter ways of saying what I wanted. Thank you Aheïla for such a great challenge! Here's my story:

"Standing on the edge of a mid-nineteenth century roof, Anya gazes out over a golden haze covered skyline, smog slowly rising above the dark and soot stained London rooftops. Anya stands out in stark contrast with gleaming white hair, dark red eyes, and an almost matching red pvc military uniform.

Casting a quick glance over her shoulder, Anya sighs, then in one swift movement she dives head-first off the tower of London. Falling like a missile with the ground rushing up to her and the wind whistling through her hair, Anya smiles. And for one brief moment, she feels free."

P.S. This isn't where the story ends, it's inspired by a science-fiction novel I'm currently researching and planning!

For more of my writing, please see my dedicated Writing Blog:

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Sketch #6 Sea Serpent

Today I nearly ran out of time in the day, I literally sketched this in 15 minutes before I went to bed! It's a small sea serpent inspired from a childrens drawing book. Drawn with less details to make it quicker to do, but I did enjoy adding the pattern and changing the shading for under the water and above it. A fun sketch.

To see more of my Art, please check out my art blog:

Monday, 31 January 2011

Sketch #5 Lamp on Wicker Table

Today's Sketch I also found in a mail order catalogue, a fancy lamp with strange globes on the end with bulbs inside and a chrome base, and then I picked a small wicker table to draw underneath it. I don't think I got the ellipse correct that it is sitting on, but then it's not that easy adding a table as an afterthought! I did enjoy it though, and I'm gradually increasing my Still Life sketching.

To see more of my Art, please check out my art blog:

Improving My Art

I am amazed by how much my art is improving, sketching every day is making a huge difference to my art. I want to improve my art equally in all major areas. There are 7 days in a week. If I can come up with a list of 7 things to try, I can do them each week, and ensure I improve.

This idea came to me after seeing my Fashion Girl figure drawing yesterday. My figure drawing is improving much better than the last one I did. If I choose to do a figure drawing sketch once a week, my figure drawing is bound to improve. So I will make a list of the 7 different things I want to work on each week, and see where my art ends up in 3 months time. I am doing this over 12 weeks, which means 12 figure drawings - just imagine where my figure drawing will be then?

  1. Figure Drawing
    (music star, movie star, fashion model, humanoid, fantasy)

  2. Still Life
    (a stationery object or food)

  3. Animal
    (mammal, reptile, fish, bird, insect, spider)

  4. Landscape
    (greenery, trees, grass, plants, water, full natural landscape)

  5. Urban Landscape
    (buildings, parts of buildings, stone statue, street, vehicles)

  6. Sci-fi or Space scene
    (spaceship, stars, nebula, asteroid, aliens, alien technology)

  7. Colour Pencil Piece
    (any of the other 6 items in colour)

This should keep my skills up in all these areas, and I can have fun doing them. I’m looking forward to this.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Sketch #4 - Fashion Catalogue Girl

Today I sketched a Fashion Catalogue Girl. She appealed to me because she reminded me of a Vampire, a real cruel and evil one. I ended up spending over an hour on this sketch, and I think I might have overworked it a bit. I ended up shading away most of the detail in her hair, I had some gorgeous strands and movement showing in there, but she does have really dark hair and it wasn't dark enough in my sketch.

I'm still happy with how she turned out, as people are probably the one subject I find the hardest to do, and this is a learning curve for me!

To see more of my Art, please check out my art blog:

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Sketch a Day Game - Stippling Trees

I just discovered a Sketch a Day Game challenge on Wetcanvas, where they challenge you to do a sketch a day, numbering each one you do, and having to revert back to #1 any time you skip a day! It's ok to not upload every day, so long as you sketch every day, and upload them after. Let's see what number I can get up to without missing a day!

Today I start on Sketch #1 - a practice at Stippling foliage for bushes and trees. I usually just do the shading as on the first couple of shrubs and trees on this page, the stippling definitely doesn't come naturally to me, but I'm hoping they resemble trees and shrubs!

For more of my Art, please check out my dedicated Art Blog at

Short Fiction Post: "Ghosts Of Time"

Here's a short piece of fiction I just wrote about a character I've come up with for my new Ghosts Of Time story idea. It's set in an apocalyptic future where we meet him. I've just written and not edited it or changed anything, so please don't expect it to be perfect!

"Jesse stirred slightly in his uncomfortable bed. He was lying on a dirty blanket and encased in wood, which for some reason was baking hot. His mouth was dry and parched as he tried to unstick his tongue from it. Blinking his eyes in the half-light, he turned to his right to peek through the vertical sliver of light outside his makeshift bunk. All he could see was a shaft of sunlight showing up the grains of dust that gently filtered through the air, down towards the weathered floorboarding beneath them. All was still and all was quiet.

In one weary movement, Jesse pushed the sliding door as far as it would go to halfway down his body, he rolled and slid out of the wall-lining cupboard. Around the edges of the room were dusty circuit boards and bits of clapped out old machines that no longer worked, laid out there just in case they came in handy. Jesse loved the pattern of circuits on the boards, they had a kind of art-form to them. One of the few pleasures left to him in this world. Making his way to his knees, and rubbing his eyes with his sleeve, he crawled over to another open cupboard and pulled out a small tin of food. The label was weathered, but if you looked closely, you could just make out it was an old tin of baked beans. Picking up a medium-sized screwdriver, which seemed to be left there for just that purpose, he carefully started to dig into the lid of the tin, and peel it open. Once he was in, in a well practiced move, Jesse slipped the screwdriver straight in his mouth and out again, in one sleek movement, and the shaft was clean. Carelessly placing the screwdriver on the side, without looking at it, his whole attention was focused on the juicy beans before him. Diving grubby fingers in eagerly, he scooped the beans straight into his mouth, guzzling them down cold."

For more of my Writing, please check out my dedicated Writing Blog at

Discovering Something New - Inside A Laptop!

I finally got rid of my old laptop that's been hanging around for ages. And I had lots of fun doing it! I wanted to take the hard drive out because you're supposed to smash that for security. I know you can use software to write itself over your hard drive to permanently erase any passwords and online banking information you may have left on it, but the only ones I could find would take about 24 hours to complete! And as my laptop is old and overheats to the point of switching itself off, that wasn't going to happen! So I decided to take it apart. After all, how hard could it be?

Much to my surprise, I took the battery out, both my DVD drive and Floppy Disk drive, then proceeded to take all the tiny screws out and separate my motherboard, Processor, fan, keyboard, touchpad and screen; in pieces all over my bed! But I still couldn't find my hard drive! How important an item in a computer, and it wasn't there! How could I have missed it. After some rummaging around through the parts, and some advice from my Dad, I took a closer look at my two drives (DVD & Floppy). I couldn't believe it, my hard drive was attached to my Floppy Disk Drive! What a crazy place to hide it?

I did have much fun though taking my laptop apart, lots and lots of tiny screws, a motherboard full of lots of cool little things I have no idea what they do! LOL! I had a lot of fun! And am still finding the odd screw left on my bedroom floor when I walk across it barefoot this morning! I had a lot of fun!

My Dad suggested that I check out Maplins.co.uk, as they have books with projects for building your own electronic things, and they sell all the electrical components you need to put it all together. It could be fun, and something I've never thought about trying before! I just might have discovered a new hobby to try!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

My 2011 Art Goal: Create Beautiful Art

I think this year I want to concentrate on creating beautiful art. I have been trying to do concept sketches, and am embarrassed by how badly my art looks without reference images. This year I want to really work on my art and improve it. Perhaps rather than trying to create amazing original sci-fi and fantasy art, I should concentrate on doing art from reference images and creating beautiful art. Obviously improving my skills in the process.

I think I am afraid to try creating art that I cannot see clearly in reference pictures before I start the final piece. I don't think I have ever tried to draw lizards or snakes before, and believe I should try to do that before I try to create a lizardlike creature from imagination. I remember seeing fantasy artists sketchbooks in The Encyclopedia of Fantasy and Science Fiction Art Techniques, (one of my favourite art instruction books), and it showed many drawings from life as well as some flights of fancy. The more I practice doing art from reference images the more skilled I will become, and can adapt that skill into fantasy work.

I think this year I just need more practice, work from reference images, and build a portfolio I am proud of. Then I can try more fantasy art. Or perhaps trying some flights of fancy in between? Especially in the Boris Vallejo book, Fantasy Art Techniques. He shows you how to work from reference images of the various elements, and put them all together in one painting.

Reference images is definitely the way for me to go, and I intend to work at them and create beautiful art this year.

(P.S. You can see more of my Art over on my Art Blog)

Saturday, 22 January 2011

What kind of writer do I want to be?

What kind of writer do I want to be?

I am asking myself this question so I can figure out what I want my 2011 Writing Plan to be. My end goal is to be a published writer. I would love to write for TV, but I would also like to write novels and short stories too. I've been looking at Sera Gamble's website, she is someone I admire greatly. I love the Supernatural tv series she writes for, which she has now become the executive producer and showrunner of. She has a great section for Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) in which she answers many of the common questions she has been asked about becoming a writer. (Well worth a read). Reading this, and a recent blog post about why people stop following your blog (apologies I forgot where I saw it and didn't save the link), it's made me think more about my online presence.

I want to promote my writing on this blog, especially as I become a more skill writer (with lots of practice), but I also want to make it interesing and blog things people want to read. I recently read one blogger say they often type blog posts up ahead of time in their Word documents first before posting, and they always have a few ideas for blog posts they jot down before they actually come round to writing their blog posts. They also try to stick to a schedule for their blog posts, as there's nothing worse than a blog that's updated rarely.

With this in mind, these are my 2011 Writing Goals I want to work on this year:
  1. Create a blogging schedule, possibly weekly.
  2. Jot down a few blog post ideas so you have something to blog about when you do sit down to blog.
  3. Comment on other similar theme blogs to increase your blog readership and make friends with similar interests
  4. Practice prose fiction writing every day.
  5. Create Writing Samples to show my work...
  6. A Short Story
  7. An Original TV Pilot Script
  8. A Speculative TV Script of a critically acclaimed TV Series
  9. A Movie Screenplay (original)
  10. Create a new website as a Writer to show off my new writing samples
  11. Practice Writing even more fiction!

ArtOrder Creator - Great for Getting New Ideas!

I just visited the new ArtOrder blog (they've moved!), and found a link to a really cool ArtOrder Creator widget. You click the AO button at the bottom and it generates a whole series of ArtOrder specifications for you. If there's anything you want to twek slightly, just click the grey buttons to the right of each line you want to alter. It's a lot of fun, and you can get new ideas when you're stuck for inspiration!

Here's what it came up with for me, funnily enough I've been really interested in Steampunk lately, so think I may give this one a try!

(Click image for larger view)

This would also be really handy if, like me, you're an amateur artist and want to see how you could have a go at doing commissions, without actually committing to one and risk letting a client down. A test run if you like!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

New Music - My Darkest Days

This new year I seem determined to try new things: new art, new writing, new goals, a new me - and now, new music too! I have a feeling this is going to be an exciting new year! Whilst browsing around the web looking for new music, I stumbled across Mercury Records website, and found an exciting new band, My Darkest Days.

Their website has a cool layout, imitating the entrance to a cool night club, no doubt linking to the name of their debut album, and their debut single Porn Star Dancing Rock, which is absolutely brilliant. They're fresh, fun and exciting!

So who are My Darkest Days? According to Wikipedia, they're a Canadian post-grunge band based in Toronto, consisting of lead singer Matt Walst, Doug Oliver, Brendan McMillan, Sal Costa, and Reid Henry. They were discovered by Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, who signed them up for his production company, 604 Records. And I can see the link, if you like Nickelback, you're gonna love My Darkest Days. They have the same umph in their music, the feelgood foot pounding beat we love so much. As the same time they sound fresh, new and instantly likeable. No need to wait for their songs to grow on you, you love them as soon as you hear them - an instant hit.

The fact the lead singer, Matt Walst, looks pretty cute here doesn't hurt either...

Here's their brand-new video of their first single, Porn Star Dancing Rock...