Sunday, 23 December 2012

Nice New Paint

So I'm one of those people who has their birthday a little close to Christmas, (my birthday was actually on the 15th). I recently asked the incredible illustrator Laura Callaghan what watercolours she used because her pieces are always so vibrant and she told me she used Schmincke. They were a brand I had only seen every now an again but I've been getting bored of my own set and wanted something a little more special and with a little more punch.

I was actually lucky enough to receive two sets! One larger set and one that'll be great for any inevitable short backpacking trips. 

(for some reason my camera made the colour go a bit strange here) One even came in a beautiful little case. Can't wait to try them out!

Monday, 17 December 2012

The Journal of Wild Culture

I recently entered a jamboree for The Journal of Wild Culture. A fantastic looking online magazine about to relaunch that describes itself as " exploring the broad and fertile intersection between culture and the environment. " So far their twitter feed has been full of interesting articles and art focusing on rather a wide range of things but the articles catching my eye focus on juxtapositions between our technical modern world and that of the natural world surrounding us. Basically the magazine sounds right up my street so I had to enter!   I ended up sending them a couple of pieces from my Tribe project and I received a wonderful email from their assistant editor telling me my Spirit Bear piece had received a unanimous YES from every judge and that they wanted to send me this beautiful book! I've had a little snoop through it on my recent long bus ride up to Scotland and it's full of those questions you ask about the environment but never really got a proper answer to. And even better than that each question is accompanied by a full page illustration. It even features work by some of my favourite illustrators. I will definitely be doing a post on some of my favourite things from inside this beautiful book.
A huge huge thank you should go out to Sarah Lester and Wild Culture for this lovely gift as well as choosing my work. It really does mean so much to me.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Museum of Curiosities

I recently visited that absolutely incredible pop up gallery Museum of Curiosities. It occupies a few little rooms hidden away in Soho and good god I loved it. I even went back for a second look, not so sure if the friend who accompanied me the second time enjoyed it as much as I did haha! It definitely made for a strange experience but that of course made me like it more.(A few of these pictures are from my phone from my first visit as I actually forgot to take pictures of certain things when I went back with my proper camera so I apologise for any graininess.)

You can just about make out the tiny skeleton clinging onto the moth.

This reminds me of Neutral Milk Hotel for some reason.

On my first visit to the museum I went with my dear friend Charlotte who pointed out this skeleton that we think is a cat skeleton. It led her to tell me about her pet cat that had died and how they dealt with its body and we ended up swapping stories about our pets that we had lost. In that moment it was almost like a lot more meaning was placed on the bones around us. It was like displaying bones and stuffed animals was for more than just a fun curiosity but it was a way of remembering those animals that had died and showing our respect for them after death and our continuing love for them. It made me think rather more deeply about my collecting and the reasons behind why I do it.   

Amazing work by the world famous Swoon.

There was a room downstairs with the door open but no lights on so we weren't sure if we were allowed inside. It looked like a store room. We were curious so I turned my flash on and took a picture inside the dark room an low an behold, a unicorn!
I can't recommend the Museum of Curiosities enough but hurry, it closes at Christmas! 

Presents for the Future, Tags from the Past

I have so much to blog about and it's sort of overwhelming...I need to find my discipline I had when I was away! Right now I'm a bit ill though so while painting in bed is a little tricky I am very much able to edit and get a good few blog posts up or indeed ready to post. So while I get on with that here's a little picture of my Christmas wrapping. It's a robin skull! If I had the money I would have bought real little robin skulls an wedged the recipient's name on a little scroll through it's little eyes...Festive! Alas I will have to make do with little paintings, perhaps this is better considering most people don't share my err...slightly more curious sensibilities..

Monday, 26 November 2012

The Hunter

In my last blog post I introduced you to Jeff. An amazing hunter working towards self sufficiency in the woods of Washington. He got me thinking about the people that have relationships with the forest and how my ongoing Tribe project could be influenced by this. I realised that my tribe might need to make contact with a few certain external people and that a hunter might be able to supply them with things they need. Hence my addition of "The Hunter" to the project. He is rather heavily based on Jeff and I'm yet to email this over to him, but I hope he likes it.

The Hunter
I have realised there's a few specks on this which I have cleaned up and you can buy a print of Jeff over on my society 6.

Jeff wasn't the only person who isn't a part of the Tribe to make it into the project, but she will have to wait for another post.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Backpacker Post 12: Washington State

This is my second to last of the backpacking through America blog posts and it features one of the most amazing people I've ever met. We made two trips out to Washington, the state just above Oregon. Personally all I knew about Washington was that it had some beautiful forests. I soon learnt it had a volcano called Mount St Helens and that it was safe for us to hitch hike there from the train station. A guy that picked us up on the way was a hunter named Jeff (who is in the picture above.) 

Before I met Jeff I didn't know what to make of hunting. I didn't really understand the differences between hunting and poaching. Jeff is NOT a poacher, he kills what is in season and what he can eat (or indeed likes to eat.) He lives in a house out on its own with his dog Pepper (who is a useless hunting dog but very cute) next to a river where he fishes, near the land where he hunts elk almost what seemed exclusively, and on a huge plot of land in which he was planning on turning into an orchard. His plan is to be almost completely self sufficient and to give his surplus to his family that live in the nearby town.

Marionberry pie in the nearby lodge.

I'm not a vegetarian but I do believe if you kill an animal you should use every piece of it, Jeff told me he believed in the same thing and demonstrated massive respect for the elk he killed and told me he ate nearly every innard. He even described how he would fry the brain up sliced very thinly! But would only bring skulls or antlers back if it was a particularly interesting or large specimen because animal's skeletons are actually a part of the food chain that animals will eat to get certain minerals.
Jeff seemed oblivious to how strange we found it when he told us how most hunters in his area will eat what they kill, whether it is bear (which he would eat if made into jerky but he didn't like it much), or bobcat (which he had a lot of in his garden but wouldn't shoot because "at the end of the day you're still eating a cat." )

(he also taught us to fish..)
We ended up staying the night at Jeff's where he fed us elk burgers and steak and chanterelle mushrooms he'd foraged and dried himself. He promised me his next elk skin but told me I had to figure out how to get it from his house to mine in England but did give me a set of red deer antlers and an amazing "small" elk skull he'd found in the woods. I've named it Jeff and I'm sure he'll be featuring in another blog post soon.

Our other trip out to Washington was in search of bald eagles. For most of the day we were told we would definitely see bald eagles sitting on this beach. We walked and walked and kept taking other people's advice without much luck.  

(I really like pelicans)

We were giving up and went to one last spot and suddenly this huge thing flew over really low. The sun finally sort of came out and they were everywhere! And we ended up being very close to a few fishing. As a novice bird watcher I couldn't have asked for a better birding experience in America. 

Monday, 5 November 2012

The Spirit Bear

So remember this little teaser post featuring a few little spiritual guides. Well I realised I hadn't shared the finished product with you so here it is.

The Spirit Bear
Click through to view bigger on flickr. You can also buy a nice print of it here (might make a nice Christmas pressie?). The tribe project is a live and well, I'm just getting some commissions finished up before I share them with you. In the mean time, tell me what you would like for Christmas? I could do with some gift ideas, I'm normally finished by now!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Backpacker Post 11: Portland, Oregon Part 2

Good Evening from the UK!
 I am back in very different type of countryside to the one I have been in for the past 2 months. I am now home and sort of almost over my jetlag and work has to get under way. But before I put my head down I've got time for a few blog posts. This one focuses on two brilliant things I got upto in Portland. The first I took in a shop called Paxton Gate. I somehow missed their flagship store in San Francisco so I was determined to go and see a shop full of oddities and ethically sourced taxidermy. However it was on a trendy street of shops on the other side of the city to where we were and funnily enough my boyfriend doesn't share my love for oddities so I was a woman on a mission. An god it was worth it. I came away with my little turtle skull, a poster of mushrooms and err...a deer cape...the deer cape is probably the strangest part of my collection but the shop were so wonderful in helping me ship it home and I can't wait to sling it over an arm chair I've inherited that I'm trying to find room for...

Another fantastic and rather silly thing we did was go and see Portland's annual Adult Soapbox Derby. We don't have this tradition in England. The closest thing I can think of is when we build little plane type things and jump off a jetty somewhere and see how far they can make it....I cannot even remember the name of that event! Anyway it was so silly and great fun. People threw water balloons out as they came down or had even had portable hoses. I think it's something we should definitely have a go at here!

This one was my favourite.

Next post will feature our two trips out to Washington, and a few more animals, and I promise some of them will be alive!