Abstract Watercolour WIP

What a grey, cool, windy and showery/rainy, changeable day it is here in the Valleys of South Wales, UK. Such a huge contrast to the three days of a heatwave earlier this week. Mind you, I’m one of those people who prefers to be cool rather than too hot, and on Wednesday and Thursday it really was too hot for me!

I’m still not quite right in terms of mental focus and emotional balance. After the rollercoaster rides I’ve had over the past month, it takes a while for the stress hormones to leach from my system. Each time they had started to lower, I found myself on that rollercoaster once more.

This is nothing that is affecting me directly, other than emotionally. However, it’s the emotional stuff that makes it difficult to deal with, despite me meditating and self-soothing and losing myself as much as I can in creativitity. That’s hard when I can’t settle to anything.

I do find I can settle somewhat more today, but I am still tired and my mind still feels fuzzy and unfocused. So, I won’t be chancing doing any work that requires my absolute focus, not today.

I was up early-ish this morning for a delivery. While waiting for it, I cut up a sheet of St Cuthbert’s Mill Bockingford watercolour paper and washi taped a 5½” x 4″ piece of it to an old cutting plate. I then took a 3mm mechanical pencil and sketched out an abstract design based on clouds, believe it or not.

I’m now part way through adding colour to it with White Knight’s watercolours and a size 2 Graduate round brush by Daler-Rowney.

Yesterday, I thought that this Bockingford paper was the one I’d used for the first of these abstract watercolours. It turns out it isn’t. I’m begininng to wonder if it was some mixed media paper as it is a brighter white than either Bockingford or Canson Moulin du Roy. It definitely wasn’t Daler-Rowney aquafine paper nor Tim Holtz’s watercolour paper. Nor was it the 100% cotton paper either. How curious.

I have enjoyed the process of drawing the design and starting to add colour. The colours are softer than yesterday’s watercolour, but more vibrant than the one I did earlier this week. Perhaps the change in colours is a sign I’m continuing to settle back to my usual chilled out, calm and content state.

So, I’m going to take a break from arty stuff for a little while. My concentration is wavering and I’m tempted to go back go sleep. However, I know that will prevent me from sleeping well tonight.

Inspiration – WIP

Inspiration WIP ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Inspiration WIP ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

I’ve got some more of this design done today. It’s growing quite nicely I think.

I’ve also managed to save the WIP file as the cropped image, like above. So, I’ll have to try to either combine the original drawing with this one, or just work with the square format. Either way would work I think. Maybe. Perhaps.

For now it’s become too warm, too uncomfortable for me to work in my work area, which is upstairs. Time for me to move downstairs to a cooler room until this one cools off somewhat.

Today is set to be one of the hottest days in the UK on record. Here, my weather app tells me it’s 28ºC (that’s 82.4ºF for those who still measure temperature that way). While not hot for some parts of the world, it’s way too hot for me! I’m starting to wilt…badly.

We have a fifty-fifty chance of thunderstorms forecast for early evening and again later in the night. I hope they arrive, with rain to cool things down so I can sleep! So long as it’s not a little rain which then creates high humidity…

Us Brits are very good at talking about (read complaining about) the weather. We have quite changeable weather here on our little islands thanks to the location on the eastern edge of the Atlantic and right where the Gulf Stream can flow along our western edges. It makes for some interesting weather for sure.

No matter what the weather is doing, we find something to moan about it. It’s a national pastime!

Anyways, it’s too hot for me to continue working, even with a fan on, as the Surface Studio is blowing out hot air. The fan is circulating warm air. And being upstairs in a south facing room, it gets rather warm on days like this.

When it cools, I shall return to art, but for now I’m either going to go crochet or read in the cooler environs of my living room


It’s really raining heavily here at the moment.  I love the sound of the rain, and the wind, while I’m cwtched up warmly at home.  I went out around 8am to do my food shopping and was pleasantly surprised.  I expected people to be at the local Tesco’s in their droves, but it was really quite quiet.  Hurrah to that is all I can say! For a change, the process of shopping close to the bank holidays was relatively painless.

I finished the small piece of artwork above not long ago.  It is just the thing to brighten up the gloomy day.  It’s 17cm x 11cm and is worked in various media on white cartridge paper.  There’s metallic gold on various parts, but it hasn’t shown up in the scanning.

I’m now officially way past bone tired and I suspect that after having another mug of tea and a bite to eat I may go and join the cat in bed.

Oh the joys of being on the winter break!

Proudly presenting the letter ‘i’ (and some jewellery)

The letter ‘i’

Initial 'i' © Angela Porter 21 Feb 2011

Approx. 5cm x 13 cm worked using wires, metallic threads, beads and custom made ‘sequins’ on black felt.  The colours are silvers, blues, greens and purples.  Again, my poor photographic skills do this a disservice, but then again, no photography would capture the way this shimmers and shines and catches the light in different ways as you view it from slightly different angles.

I’m quite pleased with it.  The letters are a much more rigid format than I’m used to working with, but there’s still scope for so much embellishment and patterns within them.

The bonus is that it’s very relaxing for me to do this, almost meditative in nature.  That can only be of benefit to me.  Also, it’s been nice to be cwtched up under a fleecy blanket whilst working both this letter and the jewellery.  It’s a chilly day here, with heavy rain from time to time.  It’s nice to hear the rain on the windows and know that I do not need to go out in it.  It was doubly nice this morning as I was sat in bed, the purrfurrball (cat) draped over my legs, purring loudly, as I could hear the rain on the windows.  It was a very comforting place to be.  Also, it is the only place that the cat will sit on my legs/lap – his favoured spot is upon my chest, head nuzzled into my neck or shoulder, and that brings an end to anything that involves using my hands!

The Jewellery

Jewellery 21 Feb 2011 © Angela Porter 2011
The earrings are approx 2cm x 3cm.

The pendant is approx 3cm x 3.5cm.

Both worked with silver beads, purple/green iridescent ‘sequins’, silver threads.  The earrings have purple beads on them.

Just a few little items made for a friends’ daughters’ birthday this week … they didn’t take too long to do either, just a couple of hours, simply because I kept the design simple and not over embellished.  The pendant has a different ‘edging’ to  my usual over-stitched beads; I’ve used bugle beads sewn close to the edge of the felt so that there is a black border around them.  I don’t know if it works well, I’ll see what the feedback is from my friend!

Winter Solstice 2010

All the very best of the Winter Solstice greetings and wishes to all!

The exact point of Solstice is at 23:38 UTC, which is when the Sun enters Capricorn.   In the Northern Hemisphere, this marks the longest night and also the gradual returning of light to the world as the days gradually lengthen once again.

What makes this year’s Winter Solstice extra special is that there is a Lunar Eclipse fall on the same day, for the first time since 1638.  Sadly, it was not possible for me to view the Lunar eclipse as the skies were cloudy here, and no doubt the hills would have obscured my view of the Moon in any case.

In my immediate environment, in the Northern Hemisphere, nature is in it’s annual dormancy and the return of the light from this day on is a reason enough to celebrate the continuation of nature’s seasonal cycle.  With the snow still covering the ground, life having slowed down due to the freeze here in the UK, there’s an even bigger sense of the big sleep of nature.

The Winter Solstice had, no doubt, great significance to prehistoric people, no doubt linked to the uncertainty of seeing life through the harsh winter months.  Evidence for this remains in the apparent alignments of Neolithic and Bronze Age sites such as Stonehenge (Winter Solstice 2010 at Stonehenge) in England and Newgrange (Winter Solstice at Newgrange 2010) in Ireland to astronomical events such as the Winter Solstice.  The lives of these people depended very much upon the seasons and weather and it must have been important for them to mark the cycles of the seasons in some way, just as we do still.

The Feast of Yule was a pre-Christian festival observed in Scandinavia.  At this time of year, fires were lit to symbolise the heat, light and life-giving properties of the returning Sun.  A Yule log was brought in and burned in the hearth in honour of the god Thor.  A piece of the log was kept to act as both a good luck token for the year and to act as kindling from which the next year’s Yule log was lit.  Ashes from the log were also collected to be spread on the fields to ensure a good harvest that year.

There are many festivals coinciding with the Winter Solstice around the world, as can be easily read about on the web – see for instance Wikipedia.

How will I be spending the day?  Well, not as I would in years past.  Normally, I’d replace my bundle of mistletoe at dawn, burning last year’s old bunch.   This will have to wait for a day or two until I can get out and about!   The mistletoe hung in the home acts as a protection against negative thoughts and deeds.  Burning it releases and purifies that which it has absorbed over the year.  Part of the day will be spent in meditation/quiet thought/reflection on the past year and particularly upon the progress I have made in achieving goals in life and giving thanks for all those people and circumstances which have aided me in my progress, whether they realised it or not, and whether I realised it or not at the time! Sometimes, the people and situations that vex us most are responsible for the greatest progress in our personal development.

How will you spend the day?

  1. Guardian – Article about the coincidence of Solstice and the Lunar Eclipse
  2. National Geographic – Article about the coincidence of the Solstice and the Lunar Eclipse
  3. Winter Solstice at Time and Date.com
  4. December Solstice Traditions at Time and Date.com
  5. Winter Solstice on Wikipedia
  6. Yule on the BBC website


Well, the white stuff has fallen again here in South Wales.  While the world looks pretty, especially in the bright sunshine and pale-blue winter skies, everything seems to have come to a total standstill in the area where I live.  It is actually bliss!

At the end of what felt like a long, tiring, stressful half-term at school, there is no pressure on me to go out anywhere or do anything other than keep warm, sleep, read, be creative.

There is no way the car is getting out of the street I live in.  The hill it connects to is impassable.  And it seems to be pretty much the same right the way around the town.  Which means the background noise from traffic and work going on outside is zero.   Another reason why it is bliss!  For the first time in years I can hear the sound of planes overhead, distant birdsong and cawing of the corvids too.  And at night the silence is wonderfully enveloping, sleep deepening.

So what if it isn’t possible to get the gift shopping done?  My yearly purchase of mistletoe will be later than the Solstice eve methinks.  A meal out on Monday night is very likely to be cancelled.

Yet all of these things can be completed at a slightly later time.  I may have my own tradition of replacing last year’s mistletoe with new on the morning of the Solstice, but if I’m a little late it won’t matter too much.  The meal can be rearranged.  The shopping can be done at a later time.  I have more time to create the gifts of jewellery that are going to those close to me, though the cufflinks that I wish to create may have to be a belated present if the post doesn’t arrive in time!

I certainly won’t miss the craziness of the shops at this time of year, the stress I feel in going to such places, and I’ll no doubt feel a lot better as a result.

A silver lining in the blanket of snow?  Very much so!  Pure platinum rather than silver I think!

Focusing on the positive

Being Star Wars-ed?

Well, now, where to start.  I know, I’m going to Star Wars you!  Here’s a quote from Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones

“You’re focusing on the negative, Anakin. Be mindful of your thoughts.” – Obi Wan Kenobi

Over the past week or two, there have been numerous times when I’ve felt I’ve been in a Star Wars movie, being given advice about The Force.  However, the advice given by a dear friend of mine and my counsellor has been about focusing on the positive, good times and things in my life.   The counselling work has been about rebalancing my view of me and my life.  This has involved condensing the negative perceptions of myself and my reactions and thereby reducing their significance and expanding on the positive perceptions with evidence to support it.  The positive evidence, and focusing on the positive is not an easy thing for me to do.  To acknowledge my successes, my achievements, the times I’ve been praised and gained acclaim, these are times that are easily brushed aside.

All the same, I have endeavoured to focus on the positive.  I’ve made a concerted effort to write a list of good events, good feedback, things to be grateful for in my offline journal at the end of every day as I sit in bed before sleep.  I do write about problems, confrontations and so on still so that I can reflect on them, work my way through them, and come to a balanced perspective on them, but I have been doing my best to write down a gratitude list.  And even on the murkiest, darkest, trouble-beset days there are things to be grateful for.

Jedi philosophy, Buddhism, eastern religions … all seem to tie in, don’t they?  I remember seeing the first Star Wars Film – Episode 4, A New Hope.  It was the first time any kind of belief system had struck a chord within me, and though I knew the film was fantasy, the ideas would eventually ignite my own search for my personal brand of spirituality.  And it turns out that things for me aren’t too different from the Force!  Is this worrying?  I think not!

New phone

That time had come around again – the renewal of the mobile phone contract with T-mobile.  This time, I opted for a new phone rather than the £10 per month loyalty discount as the price for my tariff had plummeted considerably.  Essentially, the new bill is £20 a month, compared to £26 with the discount or £36 without the discount!  Brill!  And what phone did I get.  Well, the lovely chaps at T-mobile recommended the Motorola Defy to me, seeing as I have no idea about phones, am not interested in fashion statements and the like.  I wanted something that would be durable, easy to use, and they told me I also would want a phone that would let me use my unlimited internet allowance too.

Well the phone arrived, I was totally bemused for a while, but within a few hours was comfortable with it, and now find it a marvellous thing to have with me!  I certainly won’t get bored when waiting … I must remember to carry my glasses with me as I am getting eye-strain from looking at little letters on a little screen close to me.  Oh the joys of being long-sighted!

My favourite app so far is Google Sky, which was free for me to download and one of the student teachers at school was most disgusted at that as he’d have to pay to get it on his iPhone!  Result I think!  I also downloaded, amongst other things, a nice meditation timer which I’ve yet to use but is likely to prove useful in the future.  I’ve not got music on the phone yet, but there’s no rush for that either.

Having said that, the weather reports have been very useful given all the snow and traffic chaos that has ensued.  And it’s been nice to cwtch up nice and warm in bed and email/message friends rather than get drafty-cool sat at the ‘puter.

So, I march on into a new realm of communication, wondering why it took me so long!

Snow – bleurgh!

I’ve already mentioned the snow.  There’s not been too much of it around South Wales, generally, but enough to cause chaos at times with travelling.  The main roads have mostly stayed pretty clear and I’ve found it perfectly fine to get around, though I’ve not been to the higher reaches of the Valleys.

A bonus has been a couple of days at school with few pupils in.  Small classes, quiet, calm.  It should be like that all the time!  It’s amazing the difference it makes with just 5 or 6 out of each class – the mainstream class sizes then become around 25 to 27.  I’m a lot calmer, the pupils are a lot calmer too.  How on Earth class sizes have been allowed to creep up to such huge sizes.  Some days I feel like I’m engaging more in crowd-control than actually teaching.

New career needed … ideas anyone?

The good thing about smaller classes and the snow is that it reminds me of how teaching can be, how it would benefit the pupils and the teachers.

As I type this blog entry, it is now raining here.  I hope it washes away the snow and ice quick-sharp!

Arty stuff

I’ve not been able to settle to do much art in the last couple of weeks.  I seem to have been either tired or dashing around from place to place.  But that’s ok.  That’s how life is at times.

I have completed another auragraph for a lady, but I won’t post a picture of it until she’s had it and had a chance to show others it, if she wishes.  It is personal for her.  I have another two to do, and I hope to get one done later today.

Music and railways

Some musical events are coming up for me.  Firstly, I’ll be playing my flute with Marcus (of Marcus Music, Newport, South Wales) and his wife, Pauline, at the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway on the 19th December.  Christmas carols/songs will be the order of the day.  Pauline asked if I would go and play with them again this year, which was really nice of her to do so.  That’s as long as I can get there given the weather conditions!  I always enjoy playing with Marcus and Pauline – no pressure on me with them at all.

There’s also the school Carol Concert coming up, where I’ll be playing flute in the orchestra and singing alto in the choir.  In years gone by it’s always been a stressful time for me and I often come down with tonsilitis, pharyngitis or some horrible form of ‘flu all brought about by the stress of performing in school, which goes back to my school days as a pupil!  I wish I could find a way to get over this … I really do.

However, it’s always nice to play with other people, and I do wish I could do so more often.  I’ve not found people to do that with … yet.

Things have taken an interesting turn concerning the railway and myself recently.  The creaking door that was still open by just a nano-metre has finally been closed.  To be honest, this is a relief to me.  I can now walk away from there without any guilt and find somewhere else to volunteer my time where I can learn and also teach others things.  One adventure has come to an end, many more await me.  That is perhaps a sign of a more positive me about me!  The only problem is getting me out there to take part in the adventures!

Rainy Saturday

I love the sound of rain, I really do.  There’s something very soothing and calming about it when indoors and warmly cuddled up under a noo-noo (cuddly blanket) or quilt.  I will have to venture forth later to acquire some vittles (there isn’t a single banana in my humble home, which is serious!).

I am on the mend from the tonsilitis/cough/flu that has given me a horrid case of pharyngitis and the doctor has signed me off work until 1st November.  I’m feeling better today, though a little woozy most probably from the drowsy version of Benyllin cough mixture which did give me some hours of sleep last night.

All the down time has given me a chance to do a serious amount of knitting – I have a small pile of squares for KAS done, and another gown or three for Cuddles.  But with no charged batteries for my camera, I can’t take any photos of them!

Dew, dew or is it Duw, duw?

Morning dew and duw…

This blog title is a kind of a pun.  In Welsh, Duw means god.  The expression ‘duw duw’ is often used to mean ‘well I never’, ‘well,well’, or ‘dear me’, though it is often used in the place of a swear word.

After a chilly night, I woke to find the first dew of late summer covering the cars in the street.  As if any other reminder of the rapid approach of Autumn is needed.  I do love dew, the way droplets of it cling to spiders webs and sparkle in the early morning Sun like jewels; the way the wetness intensifies the dusty, dry colours of late Summer.

Dew and folklore

Dew gathered on St Bride’s Day (1st February) was considered to be particularly good for the complexion.  Bathing the face in dew early on May Day (1st May) Morning was excellent for the complexion, helping to whiten the skin and eradicate freckles. [1]

Samuel Pepys, on 28th May 1667, recorded the following in his diary:

After dinner my wife went down with Jane and W. Hewer to Woolwich in order to a little ayre, and to lie there tonight and so to gether May dew tomorrow morning, which Mrs. Turner hat taught her as the only thing in the world to wash her face with, and I am contented with it.

His wife obviously believed that any time in May would do.

May dew was also occasionally reported as generally medicinal, especially for weak limbs.  Also, some claimed that you could ‘make a wish’ while gathering it [1].

Some dewy weather proverbs [2, 4] are:

When dew is on the grass, rain will never come to pass.  When grass is dry at morning light, look for rain before the night.

If three nights dewless there be, ’twill rain you’re sure to see.

With dew before midnight, the next sure will be bright.

If you wet your feet with dew in the morning, you may keep them dry for the rest of the day.

Dew beliefs from Launceston, Cornwall include

…a swelling of the neck can be cured by going to the grave of the latest young person of the opposite sex before sunrise on the first of May (Beltane, ‘May Day’) and gathering the dew by passing the hand three times from the head to the foot of the grave.  The dew is then applied to the neck… A child weak in the back may be cured by drawing him over grass wet with morning dew on each of the mornings of May first, second and third. [3]

Herse was the Greek goddess of the plant-nourishing dew.  Her parents were Zeus and Selene [5].

  1. Steve Roud – The English Year
  2. Dew Folklore
  3. Gandolf.com
  4. The Old Farmers’ Almanac
  5. Theoi Greek Mythology


It’s started to rain steadily and quite heavily here. It’s also feeling rather chilly for an August day. The rain prompted me to look at folklore and superstitions mentioning rain. As I was sat at the ‘puter it was easier to go and do a Google than to go looking for my books on such topics.

There’s a good list of weather-lore at Down Gardening Services, and a lot more on the world weird web.

I like ‘The daisy shuts its eye before rain’ simply because I like daisies! I always think they look bright stars set in a green firmament. They always cheer one up!

The name daisy comes from the Old English ‘dæges eage‘ which means ‘day’s eye’ because the petals open at dawn and close at dusk (unless it’s about to rain!).   In Welsh they are called ‘Llygad y Dydd‘, which also means ‘eye of the day’.  It’s scientific name is Bellis perennis.

According to Roman mythology, Vertumnus, the guardian deity of orchards, pursued a young tree nymph named Belides after he saw her dancing with the other nymphs at the edge of the orchard.  Belides did not want his attention and so she asked the gods for help to escape Vertumnus.  As the powerful King of Argos was grandfather to Belides, the gods agreed to help.  They transformed her into a tiny flower called Bellis, and so she escaped a terrible fate.

The Celts had a legend that daisies were the spirits of babies who had died during birth. The daisies grew to help relieve their parents’ grief with their simple beauty and innocence.

Making daisy chains was a childhood activity enjoyed by many of us. I wonder how many of us knew at those tender ages that parents used to put daisy chains around children’s necks to prevent them being stolen by fairies. Apparently, daisy chains should always have their ends joined so that they form a circle that represents the Sun, the Earth and the cycle of life.

Plucking the petals from a daisy, one by one, and reciting ‘s/he loves me, s/he loves me not’ is a common divinatory superstition. Placing the root of a daisy under one’s pillow is said to produce a dream or a vision of one’s future love/partner.

The symbolic and legendary meanings of flowers dates back to Elizabethan times, however it was the Victorians who assigned simple messages to flowers. It was a period in time when social etiquette meant that men and ladies could not express their feelings openly and so the use of the colour and type of flower to express what they could not say or show became popular. The daisy was associated with simplicity and modesty. The message of the daisies in the language of flowers is that of gentleness, innocence and purity in both the giver and receiver.