Discovered in Loft: ‘Charlie the Crazy Cavalier’

Charlie the Crazy Cavalier, 1985

This is a sketch I did of one of the family dogs, Charlie, a crazed Cavalier King Charles spaniel.

Of course, he wasn’t crazy when I did this sketch.  He was just an excitable and adorable puppy who had fallen asleep.

Charlie was an attempt by Mother of Mine to recreate the memory of her childhood dog, Ricky – the same breed, but from what I’ve gleaned over the years, a million miles away from Charlie in his temperament.

Sadly Charlie’s days were ended prematurely when a visit to the vet deemed him to need the doggie equivalent of a mental ward.

I cried for days.

The other family dog was Dad’s – a giant, black, hairy, bouncy Briard who we named Harry.  I forget the detail of the story (I’m really bad at remembering family history), but the gist is that Dad knew the people who imported the first Briards into the country and fell in love with the breed then.

I don’t remember ever drawing Harry – I don’t think he stayed still for long enough – but you get the general impression from this photo of him taken in 1987.

Harry the Briard, 1987

Husband of Mine is not a fan of dogs, and was especially freaked out by Hairy Harry every time he came to pick me up for the evening.  On hearing the doorbell, Harry would charge to the front door to greet visitors by putting his paws on their shoulders and slobbering over them.

Discovered in Loft: ‘Things’

We’re nearly on to the last of the sketches.  Thankfully.

Things, 1985

Vanity case.  Mine.  Still used by me during show weeks.

Bikini.  Green if I recall correctly.  Mine.  Not still in my possession.  Although I’d still fit into it – my breasts didn’t grow any bigger.

Draped material/clothing.  Could it be the dressing gown again?  Probably mine.  No idea what it was though.

Vest top.  Probably mine.

Shoes.  Definitely mine.  They were white (weren’t they all in the 80s?) and I think I still may have them.  In the roof. 

Copy of ‘Woman’s Own’ Belonged to Mother of Mine, definitely.  Although I do remember avidly reading Claire Rayner’s agony aunt pages.

It’s so obviously a staged composition.  There’s no earthly reason why any of these objects would be together like that in reality. 

Discovered in Loft: ‘Crisp Packet’ and ‘Flint’

These two aren’t really worthy of a post at all, but for the sake of completeness, here they are.

Crisp packet, 1985

Shading is a bit suspect on both – I can hear my art teacher now asking me which direction the light was coming from.

Flint, 1985

Both drawings look as though they had a nice cup of tea spilt on them, although that could just be the aging process caused by being sandwiched between a piece of hardboard and a flattened banana box for 25 years.

So if you’re going to comment on these, be kind and just humour me. I was only 15 when these were done, and I’m not claiming to be an artist.  Well not in the true sense of the word.

Discovered in loft: ‘Hanging Folds’

Ok.  Here it is. The first piece in my O level art portfolio that I found in the loft.  The amazing thing is I’ve put it back up there.  Why?  It might be a discovery for me but it’s hardly going to be a major one for the art world when I’m dead and gone.

Hanging Folds, 1985

Mmm. I’m not sure what was interesting about this particular dressing gown.  It looks much the same as all the others I’ve had in my life.  The one I have at the moment is pale pink (not really me) but very warm and fleecy (very me; chilly mortal that I am).  Oh and unlike this one, it has a hood.  So I can look like a grumpy teenager at breakfast.

My current dressing gown is an artist in its own right.  Every morning, it casts fantastic shadows on the floor of the bathroom; the overhead spotlights are at just the perfect angle to exaggerate the curves and folds of the material and bring them to life as the silhouette of a face in profile – sometimes an animal, but more usually a witch, alien, goblin or demon. 

Deformed fantasy or sci-fi characters seem to be the focus of my artistic ability.

More to follow. Oh, the excitement.

Dream of sheep…

I turned the computer on tonight to do one thing.  And ended up doing something completely different.

What I was going to do was to continue ‘housekeeping’ on my newly revamped PC by checking all was in order with my digital photos, before writing a post about what I found during my recent tidy of the loft.  What I actually did was to log on to WordPress and got sucked into reading a freshly pressed blog post entitled Surrounded by Sheep.

To steal a line from the author, Elizabeth Lewis Pardoe, I too am ‘… forever surrounded by sheep.’

I have loved sheep for a very long time now.  I think I can trace it back to my first visit to the Lake District, where I fell in love with all Cumbria has to offer. Now every time I see a sheep, I am transported in my mind to the majestic mountains of North West England.

One of my early encounters with a sheep was on the summit of Pillar, where friends and I got talking to a group of walkers who had got into difficulties the night before and slept on the mountain in preference to heading down the mountain in the dark.  The group leader had asked us to take some of their surplus food to ease their load on the way down, which we did without question – but this lone sheep on the summit had his own ideas of how to help. Keen to check out the left-overs, he proceeded to munch his way through a packet of cream crackers, thus earning himself the nickname, ‘Jacob’, and then devoured a nectarine before deftly spitting out the stone.

Over the years I have collected, and been given as presents, many ‘sheep’ objects –  among them a sheep puppet which I bought for myself at a psychology conference in Vienna; a wooden 3d sheep jigsaw which now serves as a worthy addition to our Nativity crib at Christmas; three ceramic ‘flying’ sheep (like Hilda Ogden’s flying ducks), not to mention numerous photographs and pictures, cards and notepaper, pens, pots, keyrings and fridge magnets.

My prize sheep though is the rocking sheep given to me as a 29th birthday present from my parents.  As a child I was desperate to own a rocking horse – of course now I am a parent myself I know what a ridiculously expensive present this is to covet – yet my grandparents went some way towards satisfying my childish wants and bought me a rocking chair, which I still own.

But my lovely dad always remembered this childhood desire of mine, so of course when he saw a rocking sheep sitting outside a shop, somewhere on the way up to London I believe, he persuaded Mother of Mine that nothing else would do as a present that year.  Of course, Daughter of Mine came along about 18 months later, followed by Son of Mine, so it has been played with by children as it was intended, but always on the understanding that it’s ‘Mummy’s special rocking sheep.’  It’s now back in my room, at the foot of the bed –  so the memories are always in sight.

So I’ll leave ewe with a few more of my photographic memories of being ‘surrounded by sheep’…

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It’s gone, all gone…

In the weeks since my last post, I’ve felt my creativity has all but disappeared.  Back in the real world of 10th birthday celebrations, Dogs’ Dinners, St George’s Day parades with the Beavers & Scouts, the permanently over-flowing laundry basket, work, endless trips in the car to clubs and activities, and those Children of Mine demanding what seemed like all my time, energy and emotions, I felt as I usually do post-show; thankful for a night in to allow myself to snooze in front of the TV in the comfort of my own living room, yet bereft of that adrenaline-fuelled rush that only show week, or in the case of the 24 Hour Musical,’ show day’, can provide.

It’s good, isn’t it,
Grand, isn’t it,
Great, isn’t it,
Swell, isn’t it,
Fun, isn’t it?

Clinging on to performance in any way I could, I took Children of Mine to see the touring production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicoloured Dreamcoat, a show that I, but not they, had seen live before.

Then the Family went en masse to a production of Titanic the Musical in Godalming. We all thoroughly enjoyed the show; as predicted I cried for probably the last 20 minutes, from ‘To the Lifeboats‘ to the very end. Particularly when the young lad who had boarded the lifeboat, cried out “Daddy!”, and threw his teddy to the father he knew he would never see again.

An impromptu trip to London with friends to see Hair and Jersey Boys completed my theatregoing for April.

So it wasn’t all bad.  I just was on a different side of the stage than I’d been used to for a while.

You can like the life you’re living…

A recent family walk in the woods reminded me of some of the other things in my life that I enjoy.

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In a week in which Son of Mine announced that if faced with the choice of cuddling me or the Devil, he would choose the Devil; he was actually extremely cute on our walk around Burton Mill Pond. As he was leaning nonchalantly on the sluice gate, I asked, “All right, matey?”, to which he replied, “Yup, I’m just enjoying the view.” Just as if the view was the best thing in his possession at that very moment. Priceless.

You can live the life you like…

Out on a walk is often the time Husband of Mine and I get to ponder on Life’s Big Plan.

In my fantasy in my head, I’m living in Keswick in the Lake District. Shopping at Booths for essentials and seeking out local produce to support the independent shops. I climb the fells by day, and hang out at the Theatre by the Lake at night. Sipping my pint of Jennings in The Oddfellows Arms, I listen to folk music from a local band, The Renegade Dogs, who despite being wussy southerners, have managed to gain acceptance of sorts.

Cut back to reality – explaining Life’s Big Plan is too tall an order for today’s post. 

Yet thinking about it, I have realised that I have been creative in the last four weeks – practising photography, successfully auditioning for productions of Jesus Christ Superstar and Little Shop of Horrors, spring clearing (I love tidying but hate cleaning, spring or otherwise) during which I discovered my O level art portfolio in the loft, and playing a bit of piano and guitar.  The creativity has just slowed down for a few weeks to a pace that doesn’t involve me being out every night.

And that’s good, isn’t it?