Wabi-sabi a tranquil alternative

This morning I ran a Sketch group session (thanks to Eve the wonderful organizer of this drawing group in Falmouth) and I mixed wabi-sabi and one line drawing together.

First let me set the scene by explaining that this strange word means. Wabi-sabi is a Japanese philosophy a few centuries old that embraces natural materials, the cycle of life and imperfections. Do not confuse this with wasabi which is the spicy green stuff you add to your sushi. This could not be different. It is calm and beautiful in  an understated way.

wabi sabi 1

The group of about 28 people (not exactly sure but this was the largest workshop I have delivered so far).Now I find sharing skills and knowledge gives me a real buzz. When I came across it a about a years ago, I did not realized how well it fitted with my work but reading a book about this week has given me in depth knowledge  that goes a log way to explain why I strive for unique works, muted colours and a gentle and calm approach. In a world of bold designs, I am clearly standing on the edge. But the magic is when it gets combined with other things like one line drawing that led me to embrace whatever happens. It is a wonderful tool  that I would almost qualify as a life skill in a fast moving world.

Ribbet collage

Wabi sabi is about taking a pause, not rushing and looking. Taking in the essence of what is there and honoring natural materials.

Finding out more about who we are through meeting people, learning about other cultures and taking in new information forms who we are and become. I am now a very different person to when I dew as a teenager and I had hardly any techniques in my tool box. This has changed and the last 2 years have been especially great in teaching me new perspectives. So much that I can wait for the next discovery…


When books lead you to other things

I have to admit I have never read as many books as for the last 4 months. None are fiction or even the type I would normally go for but it felt refreshing.

Now and then, I have started to read about a concept, a person and a tool. Whatever it was, if it picked my curiosity, I started Googling it. In fact, I started using my search engine, Wikipedia, Pinterest. I clicked on links and more links and I have gathered stars and gems. They started filling my heart with happiness, the very thing I was looking for but this time it came from inside because I was finding elements that resonated with me or should I say within me?

I grew up in a rural setting, had friends that were rarely my age (this is how few kids were living where I was) and at a time when Internet was at no one’s fingertips. I know it is now becoming harder to remember times before the www. and for the new generation it is an inherent part of life.

The one very subject that kept coming back was mindfulness. Then one night I was listening to a long (very long) talk of Tai Lopez and one of his colleagues (sorry I did not write down the name) mentioned MOOCs (in plain English a worldwide free access to courses on just about anything). I was there like a flash and found this www.futurelearn.com/courses/mindfulness-wellbeing-performance.

Screenshot 2016-04-20 16.29.39

Delivered by Monash University in Australia, I spent the last 6 weeks learning about tools I wished they had taught me at school! I learnt so much. The teachers Craig Hassed and Richard Chambers are amazing. The format was nothing I had experienced before. A mix of videos, articles and resources to read, a forum to answer questions and learn from others, feedback at the end of each segment. This is a new way of learning at a time that course fees are so expensive they are becoming out of reach… You guessed it, I don’t take no lying down very easily and I try to find solutions…

Now these tools of mindfulness are making a big difference in how I work, think and connect with others. My social and professional circles are expanding in unexpected ways but nonetheless very positive. On the face of it I have changed so little but these tiny changes are like an earthquake, shaking all the dust from old thoughts patterns and habits one step at a time.

(Futurelearn has a lot of other courses too…)

All of that started with one book! Choose well is all I can say, whatever works for you. Drop me a line and tell me what was life changing for you. It might be helpful to me and others.


From the heart

What a year this has been! We have just come back from France for a cosy Christmas with my family. We left this morning for a 12 hours journey with many white roads, a light covering of snow and our little one saying ” I really, really want to make a snow ball!”. Not enough down and having left late after a lazy relaxed breakfast with my mum, there was not enough time either. Now we are back, it would be nice to have a snow dusting here too. I love snow, It completes Xmas ad makes it really magical.

We were in such a rush before leaving. Making many handmade Xmas cards and some presents added to the pressure. When people still had 4 days of shopping and the like, we had to be packed and ready. Well, we were, just after recovering from a lingering cold and my voice going very raucous for a couple of days but we were ready. What is it when you make something really special that the pressure builds? It is not that I did not know what I was doing, far from it. One of them simply had to be finished in time for us to take on our journey It was just a mix of trying to impress my mum and making something she loved that may not be something I would have in my home. I had to reflect her taste and not mine but without compromising on quality and a style I would be proud to add to my portfolio as someone else may like it and ask me to do something similar.

So what did it take? Lots of cotton to sew the different trials and final lampshade. A few hours of carving lino stamps that are stored until I use them for a different version. A few heated moments struggling to get some fabric glue to work and going for a an alternative in desperation. Spreading myself literally quite a bit leaving sorting out the house to the last minute… After a lot of anticipation, my mum loved it, my brother too and I think quite a few of the people that saw it since too. It is deceptively simple but has a lot of flowing lines sewed in the background and orchids added for the final flourish. This will join mum’s collection and cover that bare bulb naked for over 3 years! Here are a few pictures.

Orchids lampshade  with close ups from both side.  This was designed for a ceiling  but has not been fitted in situ yet as I have discovered since the French fitting is different to the one we have in the UK and  needs changing. Nothing expensive but a picture of it properly fitted will hopefully soon.

Orchids lampshade with close ups from both side. This was designed for a ceiling but has not been fitted in situ yet as I have discovered since the French fitting is different to the one we have in the UK and needs changing. Nothing expensive but a picture of it properly fitted will hopefully soon.

So, after all this making, I have just had a free week which felt quite strange and the main reason is my brain has engaged into a very creative process for the last few weeks, even during the orchid lampshade. Ideas are just parked in a corner of my head waiting to come out. I have also bought new materials and tools before I left which I have not had yet the chance to “play with”. Yes, some of what I do includes paying and experimenting. What I call “happy accidents” when something turn out unexpectedly to create a bit of magic. You can’t rush it, you can plan for it. You just do it.

So now the new year is approaching, I am planning more experimenting time, a few lines of wonderfully bespoke lampshades and artwork. Oh and planning a wedding! Yes a we are back on after putting things on hold for a year. Less than 6 months (if we get the date and venue we want) to organise a handmade (you could have guessed that) and laid back wedding filled with wild flowers and unconventional moments. If you like formal, look away now as they say!

But before I do all that I wish you all a year filled with health and happiness. I also wish for more peace in a very agitated and suffering world. It should not be that way and if we can all put out two pence of peace in our patch, maybe it will have a ripple effect, you never know. Fancy trying?

Best wishes to all.

A slice of summer

It has been a while since I posted anything. It is not that I had no ideas or contents, i wrote things which will feed through my blog soon. Life just took over and with the summer and my little one out of school, I had very little time to spare. However I am back with new contents, a new “about me ” page  and new header. I hope you will enjoy it and that it will help making my work easier to visualize.

So back soon with more… Have  a nice day. :)

Because I cannot see

Since I was a little girl, I dreamed of an inclusive world, one that does not care for rules (apart from one’s freedom stops when one’s starts, and we should not hurt others), where we have one beautiful world and great people on it. We should not have boundaries to separate countries having people fighting over territories. We should be understanding of differences of opinion, races, beliefs and not impose them o others. We should embrace difference and that, I’m afraid is still with me to this day.

So, when I go to an exhibition, I make it count. I either learn something or it opens my eyes onto something I did not see or know before. This weekend, I went to the Poly in Falmouth for an exhibition called “because I cannot see” by the student Tom Pullen. In 5 months, he has put together a stunning collection of photographic portraits of visually impaired individuals through a sensory experience for all. Why is 5 months relevant? Because achieving what he has achieved in such a small amount of time (even if he won’t agree with that bit) is no small thing. First he had to make many new connections to meet  and then go to clubs, listen to stories, take the portraits and include elements like Braille, interviews available on earphones and 3D blocks of his photographs. Now I know from past collaborative projects that this last bit alone has taken quite some time in developing… Tom manages to makes us understand glimpses of people’s lives, some that we don’t know about or don’t understand. I learnt not seeing did not stop you dancing, playing guitar, shooting, gardening and making art. Actually the socials groups mentioned in this exhibition probably have been a life saving activity for many. If you would like to know more or even visit a future venue for his work you can contact Tom at tom@tompullen.co.uk as the exhibition finishes early this week. (This was a week ago as I did not get the chance to post this earlier)

Because I cannot see exhibition by Tom Pullen

Because I cannot see exhibition by Tom Pullen

Because I cannot see exhibition by Tom Pullen

Because I cannot see exhibition by Tom Pullen

Because I cannot see exhibition by Tom Pullen. Art created by visually impaired people joining in sculpture, drawing and weaving workshops

Because I cannot see exhibition by Tom Pullen. Art created by visually impaired people joining in sculpture, drawing and weaving workshops

My little P. now 3 1/2 enjoyed it too because she could listen to music or stories and she is open to new experiences. I will build on that. I just wished that people in general did check these things out because there are many stories untold and many great people to meet. And if you think about it everyone is different and everyone needs love and social interaction… It means slowing down and taking the time  to hold a hand, listen and ask questions. So what about challenging yourself this week and open one door, talk to someone you usually would not talk to, get involved in a new project or look into something you have no knowledge of? You never know what you may discover about others and about yourself too…

Enjoy a preview of the exhibition through these photos but go there and touch, feel, listen… well done Tom and I wish you every success in your career.

The calm after the storm

So it has been a while since I posted anything. Life has been weird for the last few weeks.

The winter has been rough and while some of the worst storms have battered the country time after time, relentlessly, I have to say that life felt like a conscious hibernation with low levels of energy. I was not the only one, mind you. Many people I knew especially creative people found it difficult this winter. Many were affected badly and our thoughts are with them. Fortunately, Things are starting to look up and settle.

We have had sunshine for the last two days. No big news you will say but for us it made a world of difference.

Amazing blue sky!

Amazing blue sky!

Yesterday we have been for a gorgeous walk at Trelissick. 5 minutes away from home, this is a National Trust property, a cafe and art gallery and public free access on the side to hills, woodland and a beach at the bottom. After weeks of torrential rain, high tides and gale winds, the damage was extensive. So, blue sky and broken branches on the ground, driftwood and a whole wall by the beach layered with seaweed!  It felt wonderful to finally be outside after so long inside. We look for bits of lichen on broken branches, driftwood to use in our garden and generally breathed happy! It is amazing what beauty lies around after some storm damage. We came back inspired!

I love he texture of driftwood

Lichen has so may intricacies and I look forward to see it setling in our garden. No trees were harmed in the process of collecting these!

Lichen has so may intricacies and I look forward to see it settling in our garden. No trees were harmed in the process of collecting these!

We also have visited a venue for our wedding which is in the woods and has tipis! We postponed 2 weeks ago due to serious weather warnings and we were lucky to have a dry and clear day. It is to early to disclose where it is because even if we love it, we don’t know yet if we will get this one. The problem was to imagine everything green and warm when we were seeing naked tree, a raging torrent (usually a gentle brook) and were shivering in our wellies! I guess it is the same as seeing nature anywhere in the winter and trying to picture it when it is lush with life and buzzing with bees and butterflies, not having to wear many layers. So after having to postpone the wedding around Xmas, we are now starting from scratch again and now that the house is done, it is easier to concentrate on make this a day to remember. So you will start to see in the next few weeks ideas, inspiration and teasers as we make decisions and start experimenting with many handmade and homemade goodies to make it personal. Obviously, I will have to hold back a bit so that we can still do a big reveal and not spoil the surprise.

So what else is new? Well, I have added new frames in my collection on Etsy You can see more hereLet me know what you think.    

Also with a couple of friends, Abbi and Helen, we are organizing an event to promote our work. More later but this could turn out to be one for the books! Oh, and I am planning to have work in a community art gallery close to where I live.

So my mind is filled with inspiration, ideas and dreams.


flawed education

I always felt that important lessons were missed out of general education and mine in particular. In between other things life skills,… and a few other things that help us go through life and be happy. (This is in no way a complete list you understand!)

photo credit: Mixtribe Photo via photopin cc

photo credit: Mixtribe Photo via photopin cc

Today I came across something about Japanese design. It was not so much about the aesthetics but more about the meaning behind design. It puts into words simple concepts that I am going to share here.


Wabi stands for a kind of freshness and quietness. It can also refer to quirks and anomalies arising from the process of construction, which add uniqueness and elegance to the object. Sabi is beauty or serenity that comes with age, when the life of an object is evidenced in its patina and wear, or in visible repairs. The Japanese word for rust is also pronounced as sabi, and the two words surely share some connotations, when it comes to the impermanence of things. Wabi-sabi then is the art of balancing those two, which is neverending process in itself. In short: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, nothing is perfect and that is a good thing.


It means original, calm, exquisite and sophisticated but without being perfect or complicated. A bit like the French word “chic”, but as the English would say: understated chic.

keep things plain and simple. Reducing designs to their essence is seen as strength of character.

Read more: http://www.tonyadavidson.com/musings_and_mullings/2012/07/5-concepts-to-improve-your-design-the-japanese-way.html#ixzz2qOfJ61ZW

(this is mainly an extract of an article called 5 japanese design concepts. click here if you want to read more http://www.batikk.be/post/47622466669/5-japanese-design-concepts)

photo credit: Thomas Leth-Olsen via photopin cc

photo credit: Thomas Leth-Olsen via photopin cc

One thing is for sure. The wording above meant more to me than many things I have read in the past and the reason is simple. Of course education puts a lot of design styles and movements into descriptions and set of artists. But here’s the thing, none of them talked to me. Putting the essence of design decisions and style like iki or wabi-sabi is not common knowledge. I am not surprised though but I feel very strongly that if it was, it would do a lot for many artists and designers. It would simplify their communication and most importantly build their confidence no end.

This post may not be for everyone but if it makes a difference for one person, then it was worth writing. And if this person is you, drop me a line and tell me how.