Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Colouring A Sunset Scene - Handmade Card Project

I've been watching some Instagram stories lately with nature and sunsets in them - two things I love to see, experience, and watch, and just on impulse the other night decided to get my colouring pencils out and try and create a sunset myself.

I count myself as a crafter much more than an artist, but have a collection of adult colouring books, and love playing around sometimes.

To help me with this doodle I looked up sunset images on Google, and chose a scene with the type of colours I was looking for, that I thought I could do a version of.


I coloured on to white card, and tried to blend in the shading as much as possible. When I was happy with the result I added in a little landscape of rocks, inspired by Roque Nublo in Gran Canaria, which I had just mentioned in an article on the island, and a touch of glitter, as white pencil does not show up enough and I needed to create some whiter cloud parts.

As a finishing touch I mounted the finished piece on card, then added a musical note stamp, inked in the same colour scheme, from Creative Stamping Magazine. The final touch was the quote, something that has always resonated with me, and seemed to fit really well with the drawing I created. After adding in a few touches of Nuvo Drops, it was a complete card.


It's not very often I do things like this, but I was pleased with the result, found it really relaxing, and would definitely try again. Would love to know what you think, and if you have any other ideas for nature scenes/landscapes, or settings I could add a sunset to. Let me know below, and thanks for reading. 

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Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Going To Gigs & Anxiety

Although life with anxiety is never plain sailing, and there is still a long way to go to get my life where I want it to be, one of the things I am most proud of is my gig going adventures. They are and have been just local, and are not without their challenges, but to have pushed myself to do as much as I have done, is something that I always come back to for motivation.

I think part of it is that music is a powerful motivation. I've always been a huge fan of music, it makes me feel alive! I enjoy music and dance based films, sometimes write lyrics, and more recently I have written about it as a freelance writer. So that has pushed me where other things haven't, and perhaps the other thing is I have done all this on my own. I'm not always the best with any kind of planning and social expectations, and don't really have a close social circle locally for support on these outings. I have tried and succeeded, tried and failed, tried and found things got a lot easier. It's an entirely different experience going on my own, but in some ways it works. I can come and go as I want, don't have to think about anybody else, and have got to know quite a few people, to varying degrees, that I might not have done otherwise; people in bands, music fans, people that promote and run events locally, and people that have been very supportive of my writing.

I've been there and done it as far as tension, anxiety, and unsettled feelings go. I've been beating myself up a bit if I have gone home or missed a specific performance, fidgeted through a whole theatre show and struggled to relax, then equally done other things and felt absolutely fine. Sometimes I've also seen a band that I know for the first time in ages, and quite happily and confidently chatted to them, feeling better about doing it, than I have done all the other times I have seen them before.

But there are things I make sure I do every time I am planning to go out, so I thought I'd share a few with this post, in case they help anyone else who might need some coping mechanisms.

- Aisle Seats - if it's a theatre show these are always a must-have with me, even if I was with someone, I wouldn't want to be in the middle of a crowd, I just think it would be a bit claustrophobic. I also try and book in the sides of the theatre, sometimes the back, or maybe even the balcony, so I am a bit away from it all, and it's easier to relax.

- Try a 'practice visit' to a venue - this only really works for local venues, but I found going to something I wasn't that fussed about helped me to scope out different places, their vibe, and decide whether I would feel comfortable going to gigs there. It didn't 'matter' how long I was there for.

- Be prepared - I always make sure I have certain things with me, even if I never use them for weeks or months on end, I always feel better if I have a supply of mints, rescue remedy, tissues, water. It may seem like a simple thing, but it all counts for me.

- Don't be too early or too late - I always check timings before I go to an event, especially if I really want to see a specific act or band above all others. If it's a festival, I try and work out the time I most want to be there to get the best experience, but so I'm not trying to amuse myself hanging around too much waiting, or with nothing to do. I try and give a decent time to get ready, travel, and deal with any unsettled feelings, then go and enjoy as much as I can.

Anxiety and the way you deal with it always has it's critics, but equally people I know have said to me that I am doing things they wouldn't ever do on their own. I hope your gig going experiences are successful ones, and if you suffer with any kind of anxiety, you've found lots of ways of dealing with whatever comes your way. I have my first gig ticket booked for 2019, and can't wait to buy more and see what happens.




Monday, 24 December 2018

'Let's Decorate' - Daring Cardmakers Christmas Decoration Challenge

Happy Christmas Everybody!

As I type this it is Christmas Eve and I'm just enjoying some quiet creative time to myself, before all the Christmas fuss and mayhem kicks in. I noticed the Daring Cardmakers Challenge Blog had one more crafty challenge for this year, and couldn't resist showing one of my favourite decorative crafts this year.

I first tried out these origami star decorations last year, making a few to give to friends and presents. I really enjoyed making them up and decorating them, so thought I'd do a few sets this year. Unfortunately I can't find the source tutorial for them at the moment, but they are really easy to make, and there are so many options for paper/card combinations, and decorating the central circles that complete the star.

While easy to make, it was tricky sometimes getting exactly the same fold and finish on both sides of the star when making them up, and I did pick the wrong type of card once, which wasn't really meant for folding and scoring and looked a little bit scruffy/creased.

The only really difficult bit for me was when it came to punching the holes in the points of the stars for hanging; it just seemed impossible to position the hole punch exactly where I wanted it, to get a hole right in the middle. Then I thought I'd mastered it and did some perfect ones, then they went a bit wonky again. Luckily when the ribbon is threaded through and each star is decorated and finished you don't notice that at all.

I've inserted a few pictures of the different designs I made this year, I also decorated them on both sides, as I thought it would be nice if you could switch between a sentiment and a picture if you wanted to. I am planning some non-Christmas themed stars for next year, so I'll do a full project with one of those, or post on my Instagram feed, in the meantime thank you all for reading and supporting my blog in anyway this year, and see you all again in 2019!

All the best for Christmas and the New Year. http://www.instagram.com/thesecitydays

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Claudio Desideri - The Strangest - Music Review

I was looking for a work sample the other week and came across some of the music reviews I have had published in the past. So many different artists, and music ranging from indie rock to pure pop music. Ambient, ethereal music is not something I've come across much as a reviewer though, so I decided to challenge myself and review Claudio Desideri's first solo release 'The Strangest'.
Claudio has a background that includes tribute bands, and the new wave punk of Zephiro (worth checking out their very creatively shot music videos), and currently does beautiful things with his voice singing in a Queen tribute. That's quite a mixing pot of styles, and indicates a varied ability and musical taste, but no clues as to what a solo release would be like.

'The Strangest' is ambient and ethereal at it's core, with various effects employed to add to the atmosphere, tension running through the lyrics, and visuals in the music video. There's a quite quirky disco instrumental part, which on first listen didn't seem to quite fit with the song, but makes much more sense when you watch the video.


The repeated lyrics of "oooh ahhh, and if you wanna sing" have been stuck in my head since first listen, and overall the song is growing on me nicely.

The effort is clear in the accompanying music video (I wouldn't know where to start with something like that) with some well chosen shots, and sharp movements to convey the message in the lyrics. There's enough to grab your attention early on, and keep it until the end. Sometimes it seemed to move a tiny bit too quick between shots, and the gestures could have been more relaxed, but these are tiny things that I'm sure I won't even notice in the next video.

Sometimes you come across singers, songwriters, and musicians that capture your interest, and give you ideas of things you could imagine them writing, singing, and being great at. Claudio is definitely one of those. While this song was more of a grower, and lacked some of the energy and emotion I've heard in his cover versions, the potential is definitely there, and I look forward to hearing what comes next.

Download 'The Strangest' on all the usual download platforms now.
Check out future song teasers and more on Claudio's Instagram.

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