Category Archives: Randomness and Musings

Things fall out of my brain and I write about them

Everyday Alchemy

I was fascinated with potions when I was young. I clearly remember sitting in the yard to the side of our house at around 6 years old, carefully mixing together various ingredients in the jug taken from the bathroom. A little of this, a little of that; water, flowers from the garden, shampoo, even mud – anything was fair game. I was a witch and anything could be used to make a spell. Talcum powder in particular always gave a particularly pleasing horrible lumpy effect; the worse it looked and smelt, the better.

I can’t remember what I did with my potions once they were made – the point wasn’t the result; it was the process that mattered.

That playful feeling of experimentation, of mixing things together and seeing what happens, is, I think, something that we should take with us into our adult lives. Whether it be in the kitchen, in art, music or any other creative endeavor, sometimes the process matters more than the result.

The process of experimenting can be rewarding in itself – and most importantly, each time we do it we learn a little. Like cooking without a recipe, we learn that this flavour works with this, but not with that. We learn that adding a little something new can change the nature of the whole dish.

Even if the results are not the focus, sometimes they are a pleasant surprise and you have produced something that you may not have, had you had a specific goal in mind. Sometimes the outcome is average, or even a complete failure, but even then you can take away something from the experience of doing.

And what’s more, that child-like feeling of ‘let’s see what happens if..’ is fun. So why not have a play?

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Mobile Phone Photography

There is, in my opinion, a degree of snobbishness from people who are into photography about cameras in phones. And while I agree that there are limitations, I actually appreciate having a camera on my person when I don’t have my DSLR  with me, when I’m just off on a short walk for example. Mobile phone photography is a compromise in quality (although a lot of mobile cameras are pretty good these days), and in control (exposure settings are usually pretty basic), but the convenience often means that you’ll get a shot that you wouldn’t have had you not had your phone with you. And I think that’s a good thing, overall.

Anyway, I’ve been collecting pictures on my phone and haven’t done anything with them for a while now, so I thought I would get back into blogging after an extended break  by sharing a few of the shots here.

These are all un-edited, as they came off my phone. The focus is not great on some of them, which is more my fault than the phone’s, but sometimes it’s tricky to tell when you’re a little off using a screen and not a viewfinder (well, at least I find that’s the case). Some of them have come out ok though, and are pictures I would have missed had I not been able to get my phone out to capture the moment. And that’s what photography is all about, really.

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Filed under Me, Myself. I, Randomness and Musings

When is a bad gig not a bad gig?

As musicians, we all have our share of bad gigs – myself included. It’s worth remembering though, that regardless of how you felt a performance went, the audience doesn’t necessarily share your feelings.

I’ll give you an example: I played at a venue a while back where I really struggled to hear what my percussionist and I were playing due to inadequate sound separation between where we were playing and another room where a rock band had been booked. As an acoustic act, there was no way we were going to win that battle! I came off stage thinking ‘well that one was a write-off’ – despite trying to keep a professional front on things, I felt that my performance really suffered. I hadn’t played as well as I know I can, and I beat myself up for letting the situation get on top of me.

That ‘awful’ gig got a glowing review from one of the audience members, which he kindly shared on my Facebook site.

An even more poignant example is described in the post below from Rennie Sparks on the DIY Musician blog:

DIY Musician – How Good Things Can Come From the Worst Gigs

I’ll leave you with a quote from Rennie’s post, as it’s a nice summing up:

“…every chance you’re given to offer your art to the world is a chance for adding meaning to life (yours and other people’s). You may not know how meaningful your work is for some time. You may never know. Have faith, though, that what you’ve put your heart into will speak to the heart of another… It adds up.

There have been many other “horrible shows” along the path of my musical career, but the amazing thing is this: There have also been just as many times when fans have told me that they first saw us play and fell in love with our music at a show I remember distinctly as being god-awful, ignored, meaningless.”

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Filed under Opinionated, Randomness and Musings, Techniques, Tips and Advice for Musicians

First Tattoos and Body Image:

I got my first tattoo done back in March. It’s something that I considered doing for a very long time before actually taking the plunge. I’ve admired tattoo art for years and years, but I’ve always been a bit put off getting my own for a few reasons: a. it’s permanent and I am a fickle beast, b. the pain/being slightly freaked out by needles, and c. justifying the cost.

So what changed my mind?

Well, it started with a Valentine’s day treat (or an Anti-Valentine’s treat I should say). My husband and I don’t usually ‘do’ Valentine’s; we’ve been together a long time and both of us hate the commercialism that has taken over  Feb the 14th. So, when I saw a Bands and Burlesque ‘anti-valentine’s’ night advertised at one of our local venues I thought it sounded like a great idea. And so we went.

It was a brilliant evening: the band were Cannibal and the Corpse (full-on high-energy psyco-billy), the burlesque acts were highly entertaining – and then came the raffle. I had bought some tickets more because it was for charity than for the sake of winning anything, so imagine my surprise when the very last ticket drawn was mine – and the prize… a voucher for two hours of tattoo time with a local artist.

I am not one to let such good fortune go to waste, but nor am I one to jump in willy-nilly – so I duly checked out the website/Facebook page of said tattoo artist and, following some advice from the good old interwebs, looked carefully at his past work to make sure it was of good quality, seemed to be to my taste stylistically, and that the tattoo parlour itself was legit. All seemed fine, so after popping in to discuss what I wanted, I booked the appointment.

Tattoo first sketch

Tattoo first sketch

Above is the sketch I gave to James, the tattoo artist – the green dragon represents Earth and the red dragon, Fire; together they represent balance or harmony. If you want, it’s also like the two opposing sides of my personality (sensible me and reckless me), which co-exist together as part of my whole. Or, it’s just two dragons – but dragons are awesome, so that’s ok.

When I returned to the tattoo parlour for the appointment, I was shown the design as it would be done on my skin – James had embellished it with clouds and lightning and it looked amazing. He transferred it on to my skin before starting with the outline. The tattooing did hurt, but it was never too painful to deal with – kind of like a cat scratch but over a longer period – and we took a few breaks when it started getting sore. One little tip though: if you’re getting a tat done make sure you eat properly first (in hindsight a small bowl of cereal was not enough breakfast – felt a bit weird afterwards!).

Aftercare wise, it was pretty simple – keep it clean, don’t soak it in water, keep it moisturised (James recommended Bepanthen),  and don’t scratch while it’s healing. It was sore for a couple of days, itchy/peeling for a week or two after that, but it healed up well and I’m so happy with it.

Showing off the final tattoo (pic by David Hobson)

Tadaa! Finished tattoo (pic by David Hobson)

Reactions have been mostly positive, though the most common ones are ‘wow, that’s quite a big piece for your first one’, or, when I explain that my husband doesn’t like tattoos, a slightly confused ‘but you got one anyway?’. Yes, I did. Hubby would never dream of dictating what I do with my own skin.

 

The thing I didn’t expect though, was the strange side-effect – my tattoo has changed how I feel about myself. When I catch sight of it looking down or in a mirror, I feel kind of proud. Proud to have endured the pain of getting it in the first place, yes, but mostly of how it represents who I am, where I am now, and how far I have come to get here. The last couple of years have made me re-consider a lot of things, make changes in my life and attitude towards it, so this is a visual marker of my progress.

As I said – the two dragons represent balance and harmony, and sometimes, just sometimes, I’m starting to feel like I’m finding it.

 

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Filed under It's My Life, Me, Myself. I, Randomness and Musings

Post It Note Sketches

Post It notes – I love them… But we’ll get on to that in a bit.

First, I’d like to explain what’s been going on in my life recently. Of course, if you read my last post, you’ll know that I quit my job a while ago, and at the time, was not-so-patiently waiting for life to re-start when I’d worked the last of my notice there. Well now it has, and I have to say, the difference in my mood and personality has been amazing. It’s so nice to wake up in the morning and to decide for myself what the plan for the day is. Yes, it’s now completely up to me to get motivated and to get stuff done, but I can work on what I like when I like, and that has made me so much happier.

Financially it makes sense for me to look for another job at least part-time, but at the moment my priority is to get the never ending album project finished and that is what I am concentrating on.

So anyway, back to the point. When I was not so gainfully unemployed, I used to sketch little things on Post-It notes. It was kind of a coping mechanism as it gave my mind a small break from whatever spreadsheet I was staring at. Apparently doodling has been shown to help memory and concentration, but even so, my little sketch collection seemed to be frowned upon… yet I couldn’t bring myself to throw them all out.

Recently I was tidying up the studio and I found a stack of ones that I’d brought home with me, so I thought I’d share them:

And if you like those, here’s a tumblr dedicated solely to the art of Post-Its. You can even send in your own!

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Filed under It's My Life, Randomness and Musings

In Limbo

It’s a Thursday afternoon and here I sit, in limbo. Having handed in my notice at work, it feels like I am just waiting for the end to start. And once that happens, perhaps I can begin anew.

I do feel better though, despite the nagging fear that there won’t be another job out there, or that I won’t be able to find the self-motivation to finish the projects that I am determined to make time for. In this limbo state, I can see more clearly that this is not a bad thing.

Change is important, and whether life after my old job turns out to be good, bad or even a complete surprise, I know that I would have regretted staying.

So, thank you to everyone who sent me messages or who I’ve chatted with since my last blog post . Thank you for your support, concern and advice – I appreciate your thoughts, both positive and negative (or sensible, as they’re also known :)). It’s good to know you’re there.

And the countdown continues…

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Oh XKCD, you say the truest things…

I am wondering whether it is a good idea to print this out and stick it above my desk at work (it’s only fair to warn my unsuspecting colleagues…).

Or possibly I should just stick it to my forehead.

Just Alerting You XKCD

From the most excellent web comic XKCD

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