About thecontentedcrafter

Hello from New Zealand! The Contented Crafter is my blog containing random thoughts on every thing from the weather to the meaning of life, occasional mixed media creations, bead work, handwork and tales about a cat named Orlando and a puppy called Siddy. Swing by and say 'Hi' ......... I love to make new friends!

A Woman Who Can – and Does!

My friend Laurie who blogs at Life on the Bike and Other Fab Things had a birthday recently.  It wasn’t one of those ‘significant’ events but still,  I felt it was time for me to celebrate this amazing woman.

I met her via another mutual friend, the delightful Boomedeadda who noted on her blog when Laurie had sustained horrific injuries when her bike was crashed into by a car.  It took pretty much two years for Laurie to rebuild her body and her life after this event – but one of the wonderful things that came out of the whole awful thing was that a lovely friendship built up and grew.   Laurie was one of the bloggers I flew to the US to meet up with two years ago.

Let me tell you just a little about this woman and why her painting looks as it does. Laurie is a full time, sought after Nurse Practitioner.  Her patients adore her and rely on her.   Her work is demanding, with long hours and high standards of professionalism to adhere to.  Despite this, being aware there is a dearth of women in politics in the US, two years ago Laurie ran for her State Legislature on the Democratic ticket, in an area that historically voted Republican and male.  She narrowly missed out on winning. (She now actively supports the latest, male, candidate in his bid.)

An active member of her local community over many years Laurie’s dedication and pride in her town and the surrounding areas was palpable when I visited.   She takes an active part in the ‘Ride of Silence’ every year.  A thoughtful and touching tribute to those who have lost their lives in cycling accidents and a punchy reminder to everyone else of how quickly these events happen, how devastating they are for family and friends and how often these avoidable accidents occur.

Despite her active civic and political life Laurie has a huge circle of friends, a busy ‘things to do’ schedule that leaves me gasping for breath and needing a cup of tea and a wee lie down just hearing about AND a big red truck and a big red motor bike – a Harley Davidson no less.

This tiny, feisty, beautiful brunette drives or rides about with her camera and takes fabulous photos wherever she goes.  And then, when she has a moment she blogs about her rides, drives, trips and adventures.   She is positive, upbeat, cute, funny, capable, energetic and motivated – she’s pretty jolly amazing really!

Laurie makes a difference –  She works hard, knows how to play and enjoy herself and cares about her community, her family, her many friends and her country.

And this is what I wanted to hint at in her painting – she’s a Woman Who Can – and she does!!

If you haven’t met her yet, pop on over and say hello, tell her I sent you if you like – I know you’ll love her, just like  I do.

Laurie May 17 (C)

This is a mixed media painting on 300 gsm media paper, size A3.

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!

Autumnal April Art

It’s been almost a month since I last posted – did you notice?  I’ve been enjoying some lovely Autumnal weather, kicking my way through carpets of brown and gold spread across damp green fields in my pink ‘bovver boot’ gumboots with my happy puppy gamboling alongside.  It’s turning cooler now and the days are noticeably shorter.  Serendipitously, I decided to change ISP providers and got ‘LightBox’ free as part of the deal so it’s time for me to catch up on some TV programmes.

My tiny courtyard has been half demolished as a new fence had to be built.   My lovely neighbour went to hang a piece of garden art on his side of the old brick wall and it wobbled alarmingly.  So it was decided it needed to come down before major damage ensued.  As the replacement is a lovely white painted solid wood fence the garden that was built up against the brick wall (and which was probably the only thing holding the wall up for the past twenty years) also went.  I get a tiny bit of extra space and now want even more….  It’s a work in progress.

‘We Are All Made of Stardust’ stands on my dining table, leaning against the wall  – I’ve grown quite fond of it.

(C) Stardust

With the big painting finished,  and when time allows, I’ve been playing quietly in my art room.  Nothing big and bold – just playing with paints and inks and shapes and colours.

I’ve learnt a lot.  I turned most of my experiments into cards and have photographed none of them.  Oooops!

I finally scanned the painting I made in the dying days of 2016 which bears my mantra for this year:  ‘Create Beauty; Cultivate Kindness; Expect Miracles’  I’m practising living it, I fail every day but it’s an excellent challenge.

2017 Mantra

Most recently I laid out four sheets of yupo paper and played with alcohol inks and metallic mixatives

Set 2 Brown cropped

Set 2 Green cropped

Set 2 Blue cropped

and my personal favourite:

Set 2 Pink cropped

I may or may not doodle on these, but I do have some interesting plans afoot for them which involves a largish art board and scissors and glue ……

This month I also finished a collage and mixed media painting for a special friend which I’ll show you when she has received it.

Just a heads up – Siddy is apparently considering moving to Canada

16 4 17 Canadian bandana

It was a gift from the delightful Ms Boomdee.  He’s a boy who likes a bandana!

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!

 

The Books Piled Beside the Bed – Pt 4

 

the-wonder

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

She wrote ‘Room’ which was made into a movie.  Did you see it?

In The Wonder Emma Donoghue was inspired by the phenomenon known as ‘the fasting girls’. apparently wide spread in terms of both global reach and ages, with fifty cases documented and no conclusions necessarily drawn.  She tells the story of Lib, an ‘educated sceptic’, a nurse trained under the great Florence Nightingale who is summoned to Ireland to become an observer of an 11 year old girl, Anna, said to have been months without food yet still thriving.  Entering into an impoverished and pious household Lib is determined to discover the truth.  How is the child being secretly fed, by whom?

It’s hard to feel warmth for Lib as she bumbles about in a community that makes no sense to her.  Yet as her heart warms towards the child, so we warm to towards her. It’s an engrossing story, with an unexpected ending.  How far would you go for the love of a child?

Image result for the muse by jessie burton

The Muse by Jessie Burton

This is her second novel, the first being ‘The Miniaturist’ which I reviewed relatively unfavourably ages ago.   I was assured this was a very different read.

It was.  It is unusual, intriguing, multi-layered and contains a bit of a mystery…… a great mix for any novel!  The story moves in place and time between London in the late 60’s to Spain thirty years earlier.  We meet two young women, both it seems dealing with a feeling of inadequacy about their art, unsure of who they are and what their place in the world might be.

It begins in London, 1967 where Odelle Bastien, originally from Trinidad and now living in London for five years is still looking to find her place –   a home, a good job and publishing success.  Abruptly life changes when Odelle is offered a typists position at a London Art Gallery under the tutelage of the glamorous Marjorie Quick.  About the same time a lost masterpiece with a secret history is delivered to the gallery.

The story moves to Spain 1936 as Civil War breaks out and the Schloss family, Harold and Sarah and their 19 year old daughter Olive take a finca and become acquainted with the young artist and revolutionary Isaac Robles and his sister Teresa.   The five become entwined as danger and unrest moves ever nearer and tragedy unfurls around them.

Moving between the two stories a mystery builds and I enjoyed following the clues that lead to the eventual outcome – not quite what I expected it to be!

Image result for salisbury square by geoff le pard

Salisbury Square by Geoff Le Pard

I’ll start by saying this is a book I would definitely not have chosen to read had it not been written by a writer I admire and fellow blogger and Master of All Genres Geoff Le Pard.   On his blog, Geoff  practises  his art, flexing his typing fingers and  letting his imagination go where it will with weekly doses of short or shorter writing prompts.   And nearly every one of ’em a gem!  Many of his stories are humorous.  This novel however, is not one of that kind!

The subject matter is grim, the reality gritty and Geoff pulls few punches in leading his readers into the harsh, sad world of the underbelly of London.  Peopled by survivors of dysfunctional families, featuring the lot of immigrant workers, drug addiction, homelessness and hopelessness and dealing with survival, betrayal and revenge.   I found it hard going at first.  The situation is grim from the start, the characters are not easy to love, their lives are messy, they are messy and things just keep getting messier.  Despite this however, somehow I was drawn in.  Empathy kicked in. Once that happened I was hooked, I needed to know somehow, somewhere, there would be redemption for someone.

The chapters are short – and get shorter as the book progresses.     Each chapter is headed by a place and a time.   This becomes imperative reading as the novel progresses and the pace picks up.  The short chapter format is an excellent device, it’s like watching a movie where the scenes switch between two or more places as the characters reveal more of themselves, as the tension builds and we sit on the edge of our seats, holding our breaths watching, waiting, hoping  ……  Every time I review one of Geoff’s books it seems I can see it as a movie.  This one is no exception.  The first was a comedy, the second a drama and this one gets filed under ‘bleak’ as in films like, say, ‘Trainspotting: I and II’ (and I say this without ever having seen either of those particular films, but I saw the trailers and that was enough for me).

Bleak!  But as I closed the book there was a certain satisfaction, there was redemption,  there was heart, there was hope.  And I realised I had grown to know and become fond of many of the characters that  shuffled through the pages.  And that, from this reader’s point of view, is quite something!

I have just one harsh criticism to deliver Mr Le Pard sir.  Please don’t end your book on page 280 and without blinking give me Chapter 1 of your next novel on page 281.  I needed time to sit and think and relive what I had just read and to allow the characters to file before me so I could weigh and measure and say – well, yes, there was redemption and there is hope.  And to stare at a blank page while doing so.  This is how I come to terms with the end of a good story.   At that precise point I didn’t give a damn about either Buster or Moo!  (But now of course I’m quite looking forward to reading that tale!)

**********************

So there we go folks, three of my latest reads – from which I learn that judging a book by it’s cover (or it’s predecessor) may not necessarily allow me the opportunity to widen my world view or deepen my understanding of people.  I’m grateful to all three authors for taking me into unexpected places and thereby enriching me and adding to my gratitude for the life I live!!

If you’ve read any of these books please do chime in with your responses and if you haven’t read them, stick them on your ‘books to read’ list ……  I’d love to know what you think afterwards.

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!

The Mystery On the Easel Phase VI

It is done – and what a marathon!  I have to thank you, my dearly beloved regular and loyal readers – or in this case, viewers – who came by with so many thoughts and guesses and questions and who inspired me to tweak a little here and adapt a little there until the final version appeared.

So here we go folks, for the last time let’s recap and see where it did end up

Phase 1

Phase1

Phase II

Phase 2

Phase III

Phase3

Phase IV

Phase4

Phase V

6 Phase 5

We Are All Made Of Stardust

8 Phase6 cropped

Detail pics

9 Phase 6 detail1

10 Phase 6 detail2

I always knew it was going to be a dream catcher drifting in the wind.  I did not know until you interacted with me that it would become a dream catcher drifting through the cosmos, gathering stardust and starlight.  Carl Sagan’s words came to me as I began the final work on the many little galaxies and universes scattered about:

“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.”
― Carl Sagan – Cosmos

And having mentioned Mr Sagan, how can we not end without going there, to his Pale Blue Dot

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!

The Mystery On the Easel Phase V

Here we go folks, I just know you’re wondering where we are at with this. Here’s Phase V – I wasn’t happy for the longest time with what happened and I forgot to take photos so you have this to go one with.  It’s nearly there …….

Phase 1

Phase1

Phase II

Phase 2

Phase III

Phase3

Phase IV

Phase4

Phase V

6 Phase 5

Can you see where it’s going now?

Maybe, perhaps, some of you might have a vague memory of this page from my art journal last year – this was the piece that inspired this latest experiment

dreamcatcher-14-oct

Phase VI, the final phase is almost ready to show.

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!