Monday, 4 August 2014


On it goes.

So I can't decide if I'm concerned that the visual diary is becoming a little self indulgent. I know. That's ridiculous, because the whole thing is just one big exercise in self-indulgence. But one thing I decided a while back that I wanted to get out of this (aside from self-reflection) was to get better at drawing people. And much of the time, the only person I have access to is myself (or Alex, but he gets a bit grumpy about being drawn sometimes). So as a result, I'm just drawing me a lot. With varying degrees of success, and varying different styles and levels of realism. It feels a bit vain but I AM much better at drawing legs than I used to be, so I figure that's a worthwhile tradeoff.

Without further ado...

NUDES! Well, sort of. I went to life drawing classes a while ago, but it's quite expensive, and they ended up constantly falling on evenings when I couldn't make it, so I've not been in a while. I should start going again though. In the meantime, next best, me. I've been quite achey recently, probably because I've spent my whole life carrying heavy bags on one shoulder. Oh dear. On the bright side, I understand shadows a lot better than I used to, apparently!

Still can’t draw faces though.

Another thing I’ve been trying to improve is typography. So maybe this is cheating a little, but I’ve decided to start copying (not tracing, just visually referencing) actual typefaces, so that I can improve my lettering, before trying to create my own typefaces. The brilliant Myfonts offers a lovely tool where you can see how a phrase of your choice looks written in any of their typefaces, so I’ve been using that as a reference. Still got a lot of getting better to do though...
This is both a Radiohead tribute and a celebration of a good solid tidy.

This was a fun one. Tweet @youarecarrying with ‘inventory’ and they’ll let you know what you’re carrying in your inventory. For fans of computer games and drawing, the idea is that you then send them over a drawing of you carrying everything in your inventory. Some really lovely illustration from far better artists than me can be seen over there!

Alex asked me to draw a birthday card for our friend Chris. “Can you do Freddy Mercury and a seal trying to solve a rubiks cube?”

When I was little I used to love drawing maps. Haven’t done it in a long time though. Me and Alex went on holiday to Hebden Bridge, and we stayed with Alex’s friends at Nutclough housing co-op. They have the most beautiful, gorgeous, incredible, huge garden, full of ripening fruit and vegetables, quiet places to sit, bee hives, a summer house, and general loveliness. I tried drawing it several times over the previous days but just couldn’t do it justice, so here’s a map instead… and some pictures which Alex took of me walking round the garden to research the map…

Did I mention the weather was BEAUTIFUL?! The weather was beautiful. It was one of the loveliest little holidays I’ve ever had.

Two of the residents of Nutclough where we stayed are Keith and Winston. Keith has had Winston since he was a puppy and Winston’s now very very close to the end of his life. They had the most beautiful friendship. Makes me wish I was in a position to build that kind of friendship with a dog.

YAY TMI alert!
So previous readers might know I’ve got IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). I don’t have a really bad case, but I get the whole array of symptoms (while some people only suffer from specific aspects). I know a few other people who have it, and all of them swear by peppermint oil capsules to ease bloating/cramping. One of them (who shall remain unnamed) warned me that they do give you a touch of the ‘minty bum’ (you know how your mouth feels when you suck a strong mint? Imagine that in your bum). But on a particularly bad day I decided to give them a try and THAT’S NEVER HAPPENING AGAIN.
Because I’m a crippled wreck of digestive anxiety I also suffer from emetophobia (a phobia of vomiting), and started freaking out when, after taking the capsule, I started burping mint. Sounds fun? Sounds fresh? Mint STINGS. Imagine the worst heartburn, and every time you burp it’s like burning toothpaste. I became terrified I was going to have to do a minty sick and nearly had a panic attack at work. AND I had minty bum later. AND I didn’t even feel better. No thanks. (Disclaimer: if you have IBS you should probably still try them, as so many people do swear by them!)

I know I usually maintain a facade of dignified, Dita-von-Teese-esque glamour and sexiness, but [spoiler alert], when the weather gets warm I sometimes just slouch around with my skirt rolled up over my pudgy tummy to try and stop my legs from getting so hot.

Don't like storms.

Bought myself this ridiculous blouse. It's not entirely flattering but it's SO COOL (as in, temperature wise) and kind of weird enough to make me happy. (I don't like blouses normally)

Aforementioned Chris is married to Anna, who also has her birthday in July. “You can’t do a card for Chris and not Anna. Do some kind of celebratory cuttlefish”
(Alex thinks we should go into business making very specific greetings cards…)

More hand type, stating the obvious. (not that I’m complaining. Give me too hot over too cold any day!)

Some days you just lose faith in yourself a bit. #selfpity

And then you successfully cook an amazing Vegan Full English breakfast for people you love and feel a bit better about everything. 

Well go and watch your own telly Mr. Judgeyface, OH WAIT YOU DON’T HAVE ONE


Wednesday, 2 July 2014


The first few days of June passed by in a blur of trying to make sure my partner Alex's 30th birthday on the 5th filled him with exactly the kind of radiant joy and happiness that one should feel upon turning 30.
I think (hope?) I succeeded. As a result, those first few days visual diary were pretty rubbish one way or another, and it was only on the 6th that I actually got my act together and took my visual diary into work to work on at lunchtime, to try and briefly document what had occured the previous day on Alex's birthday. Basically:

Well... basically lots of fairly terrible drawings happened, because his day was TOO ACTION PACKED for me to document it at the time. But all good. It was actually more fun for me than my own birthday was, so I can only imagine how good it was for Alex.

Once I'd finished drawing Alex's birthday I sat on the balcony at work and drew myself reflected in the glass panelling. I'm still not sure my legs are right, but it got so ridiculously got out there I had to go indoors. SUMMER!

As if Alex hadn’t already had enough birthday action, on the 7th he had a big party downstairs at the Globe at which he got very drunk, put on lots of his favourite records and had a dance. I think it was a good one.

Kier also came to Alex’s party. He arrived already drunk from some kind of GIN TOUR and then proceeded to get even more drunk. Here he is the next day, asleep on our sofa at 4 in the afternoon.

Aren't feet weird.

Bought some shoes in order to solve my feet problems. They're GREAT.

During this week we didn't have internet in the house. Hence yesterday's ridiculously over-detailed shoe painting, and this day's ridiculously over-detailed room painting. Well, I say ridiculously over-detailed — ridiculously over detailed for someone new to water colours. Also I messed up my eyes because eyes are HARD okay.

Outer glow > drop shadow > comic sans > papyrus

Had a great after-work beach picnic with LJ, Amy and Dani. We bought lots of tasty food and played frizbee. I ran around and ENJOYED IT, what madness is this?

Ah Brighton, I love you.

Had a pleasing day at work, drawing a contour map of Bournemouth in Illustrator. Decided to do one for Brighton when I got home. I love a good map!

I can't eat chickpeas unless I'm willing to be miserable for about 24 hours afterwards. BUT SOMETIMES FOR A SWEET FALAFELLY MOMENT THAT SEEMS LIKE A SACRIFICE WORTH MAKING

So this really nice top just appeared in my house and I'm not sure who it belongs to or how it got there, but I kind of want to keep it. Alex thinks it might be Lou's. I should probably ask her about it really...

This drawing of our garden is technically very accurate in terms of perspective but appears very flat and I can't quite work out how to make it better. Ho hum.

Cycled to Goring. NEW RECORD! (Got the train home cos that's how I roll)

I'm a terrible daughter. Dad turned 60 and I didn't get him anything. In my defence, his birthday is really close to Father's Day, and I did manage to get him something for Father's Day. Also, every year since I can remember he's gone off on a fishing holiday with his BFFs to the deepest darkest depths of Scotland, so he's never around to receive a present anyway. I've got him something now and I'll give it to him when I see him next week. In the meantime, I drew this picture of him. It's not very, but it does actually look like him, which is a fairly spectacular achievement for me.

I bought a new moleskine and it's really YELLOW. I'm a bit grumpy about this. Sorry everything is so yellow from now on.
Anyway. I thought my window had been painted shut but it turned out it just needed Alex's SHEER BRUTE FORCE to open it. Now I have fresh air again!

We have made peace with them now though. Thankfully. Things got a bit sinister there for a while.

I've got a bit fat. Not a lot fat. Just a bit. But enough that some of my favourite clothes don't fit any more. I'm still trying to decide whether I care enough to do anything about it though. I had a ruthless evening where I got rid of two big binbags full of clothing, but in the end I actually decided to hold on to all the dresses I drew here. Even if I never fit into them again, they mean too much to me to get rid of just yet. [the formation of the beginning of a massive hoarding habit]

Look guys. Sorry (not sorry) if this is TMI, but this is just too important to not share. Well, with you ladies out there anyway. Menfolk might want to look away, but I'll think less of you if you do.

This journal is all about my love for MOONCUP. (Or Diva Cup, or MeLuna — my preferred option — or any other menstrual cup you care to try.) Periods suck, and this is fairly well acknowledged by all women out there, but you have NO IDEA how much less they can suck until you've tried a mooncup. First couple of months you'll be a bit like 'Aaargh oh this is weird, oh no is it stuck inside me? Why won't it go in? AGH ACTUAL BLOOD', and then suddenly, or possibly gradually, you'll have the dawning realisation that everything is better. I've been using one for a couple of years now and it's a total period game-changer. It would seem crazy now not to use one. The only reason, I think, that they're not the no.1 choice for most women is that no mainstream supermarket heavily promotes them, because obviously once a woman has bought one, they'll never buy tampons/pads ever again, and that's bad news for money making! Boots sell them though, and in Brighton you can also pick one up from Infinity foods, or order from their website.

Honestly, I know ~£20 seems like a big initial investment, and for the first couple of months you might be unsure, but stick with it and hopefully it'll be the best £20 you spend that year.

On Monday I took the day off work to go to my housemate Justin's initial PhD presentation. His PhD is called 'Urban Infrastructure Uncertainty and Situated Practice: A Technography of Water Supply In Ahmedabad'. His presentation was very good, although contained lots of long words, and I became very strongly aware that I was in a room with a lot of people who were a LOT cleverer than me.
I consoled myself when I realised that despite all being very clever, I could almost certainly design a better 'do not use marker pens on the interactive whiteboard' sign than they had done.


Friday, 27 June 2014


So my friend Naomi posted one of those ‘let’s get more X on Facebook’ memes where they share a link to a relevant thing beginning with a particular letter (the main one I’ve seen in the past is art), and if you like their status, they give you a letter in return, so you can share a thing beginning with that letter on your wall.

Well anyway, the one today was for music, and although I usually try and avoid these things, I thought ‘sweet, I’ve been listening to loads of amazing new music recently, this could be a fun way to share it’. But what letter did I get? E! The letter in my music collection with possibly the fewest artists. Grump!

Well anyway, I’m not one to break an internet chain commitment promise (goodness knows what curses would rain down on me if I did), so I’m going to try and make the best of it with a blog.

Now Naomi insisted that it has to be an artist, but I’m totally going to cheat later on.

First though… Artists beginning with ‘E’.

Now I’ll admit, I think El Guincho are a bit of a one hit wonder, but what a hit that was, and with one of my favourite videos of all time to accompany it.

There's also the Emperor Machine, probably the E artist in my music collection with most listens, but mostly just because I had this one song on repeat for much of summer 2008.

Finally Errors. Who I know next to nothing about and have been meaning to look into more for ages. The only reason I own this one (quite good) song by them is because a boy from OK Cupid once gave me a mix CD with it on. (It was such a good mix CD that it actually made me want to kiss him, but sadly that never came to pass)

But anyway. Let's get to the good stuff now, huh?
Albums beginning with E. Because there ARE some good ones of these.

First up, HOT OFF THE PRESS, Taylor McFerrin's absolutely gorgeous debut release, 'Early Riser', which I think was delivered just last Saturday. Dare I say it, already an all time classic for me? I was wound in by hearing the beautiful 'Stepps' on Gilles Peterson's Saturday show, and ordered it expecting more sublime instrumental electronica, but it's oh-so-much more than that.

It's so new I can't find any links for you to go listen to it. But you really should. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Next up, the incredible 'Ex-Aquarium' by Kelpe. I'm not particularly good at writing about or describing music, but if you're into beautifully produced, vaguely sinister, underwater themed electronica, this is the album for you.

A highlight (it builds into something quite beautiful):

Next up, good old Prefuse 73 with his 29 TRACK ALBUM: 'Everything she touched turned Ampexian'. Don't be intimidated. They're all like a minute long and are just delightful snippets of weird. 'Natures's Uplifting Revenge' is basically how I feel whenever caffeine enters my system. Kind of glitchy and nauseous and frantic and terrified and uplifted.

And finally on the albums front, possibly my favourite album by one of my favourite artists, Daedelus' 'Exquisite Corpse' from back in 2005 I think. If you're not aware of Daedelus work I'd encourage you to have a listen to his most recent album 'Drown Out', and work back from there.
I didn't listen to his music for a very long time after I first heard of him, because although I figured I'd probably like him, I was intimidated by his vast body of work (the man is insanely prolific, I think he's released like 13 or 14 albums and he isn't even 40)
I was finally prompted to get around to it when me and Alex got to meet him in the flesh, and he is just THE LOVELIEST MAN, and his live show transcends possibly any other I've ever seen.

Last of all, let's have a song, eh? The wonderful Todd Terje's 'Eurodans', followed by the EVEN BETTER New Mondjalen Disco Swingers cover. (Seriously, if you've hated everything else I've posted here, give that last one a go. If it doesn't make you want to dance even a little, I'll still like you, but I will wonder if you have a soul.)

Sunday, 1 June 2014


Themes this month:
  • Trying to get better at drawing individuals and groups of people really quickly from observation or from memory.
  • Having days really full of action packed exciting stuff that tire me out so much I get a bit terrified that this is what old age is going to be like only WORSE
  • Watercolours and oil pastels.
Without further ado...

Very excited about my new and improved desk setup. DIGITAL DESK! ANALOUGE DESK! However in practice it seems like digital desk = almost everything desk, and analouge desk = sewing and general dumping stuff desk. Still, it's good to have a system, and I'm lucky enough that my system now involves TWO DESKS!

My friend Lucy from uni came down to Brighton for the day with her boyfriend Josh. We had Pompoko in Pavillion Gardens in the sunshine and talked about adulthood.

I’m not sure whether these ‘comic strip’ style diaries are good for my creativity/improving drawing skills or not, but I mostly do them when I have a day that’s super busy and full of stuff, and nice (or occasionally not nice — see 31st) in a way that I want to remember.
This was a nice day. A long cycle over to Saltdean for a lovely garden party with friends, followed by a long cycle back and dinner out with some of our new housemate Justin's friends.

Sometimes when I’m stressed and grumpy, having to do the washing up just makes me even more stressed and grumpy. Other times, I find the process oddly calming and methodical, and if there’s a particularly large amount of awkwardly shaped dishes, correctly loading up the rack is an oddly cathartic process. I wonder if my love of cleaning/tidying is symbolic of restoring order inside my brain as well as in my external physical spaces. Or maybe I’m just terrified of germs.

Justin is great. We’ve so lucky to have him living with us. One of his strongest points (amongst many) is that he’s one of the best listeners I think I’ve ever met. Must try not to take too much advantage of him by TALKING AT HIM ALL THE TIME but it’s just so hard not to when he’s so good at listening faces/wise words.


For Eurovision I went over to Jonny and Kris’s house in Peacehaven, with Elly and Kitty, and we had a Euro-tastic party. Where the European elections of later in the month were a show of depressing right wing bigotry, the European pop music elections (as I like to think of Eurovision) were a sparkling, LGBTQ friendly, European community delight. I decided I was going to try and draw every act. They’re pretty terrible drawings but I had fun, and they proved quite useful during the points section when we kept having to remind ourselves what various countries had done.

As always, May heralds a ridiculous flurry of Brighton funtimes, The Brighton Festival, the Fringe Festival, The Great Escape, and Artists Open Houses. I haven’t taken nearly enough advantage of any of them, especially the Artists Open Houses, which are basically just an awesome way to get some exercise walking around Brighton and looking at people’s beautiful expensive houses. This was the only weekend I managed to go and see a few.

Part of the reason I was so low on money by the end of this month was because I spent over £50 on art materials. I decided to invest in a big box of watercolours, some water-soluble oil pastels, and some nice paint brushes. The rest of the month features quite a few days of me trying to get good at using them. Here was my first go with watercolours (well, in a few years, anyway). Moshimo!

Justin’s friend Adam came to stay. He’s from Portland in America which I found exciting. He cooked us great chilli and we all ended up using the word ‘infrastructure’ a lot. I'm still terrified of doing faces and him and Justin are so cool I didn't want to risk messing up their faces while they were watching me so I just didn't do them.

As payback for avoiding faces the day before I tried my own face in oil pastels. I’ve done far worse self-portraits, even if it still doesn't reeeally look like me.

I don’t ever tell people these to their face because I think they might hate me, but it’s becoming apparent to me that when washing up needs doing I’m probably better off just doing it myself because I’m just too fussy.

Made some pretty bangin' salads.

Trying out the oil pastels with water while watching the European election results with Alex and Justin and getting upset about UKIP. Still terrible at faces.

From a terrible drawing of Alex to possibly the best drawing of Alex I’ve ever done. (If a drawing where he’s mostly facing away counts)

There are just too many invertebrates in my life right now. So far today I’ve evicted three woodlice, cleaned up slug trails in the kitchen, sprayed washing up liquid on aphids to try and kill them, found two moths dead in the bottom of an empty mug of tea (note to self, catch more moths using Alex’s old sugary tea mugs), flicked a money spider out of my hair and squished like 20 flour beetles that were living behind the toaster. THIS HOUSE.

One of the Fringe events I did make it to was our wonderful friend Chris aka oneoneoneone aka that guy who posted the walrus gumtree ad poetry night. It was a delight.

This is not how Friday evenings are meant to be! Sometimes circumstances do conspire to make life stressful. We'll be okay though.

So I’m sharing this because after I told Justin about my day he mostly just said he was relieved to know he’s not the only one who has days like this. You know those days? Where everything just seems like TOO MUCH?
So as well as a slight cramping IBS flare-up, I had that old curse of womankind, cystitis, coupled with a fairly hefty dose of PMT. All conditions which make you basically just want to curl up in a ball and not go anywhere. Sadly, that wasn’t an option, with the wedding of some close friends of Alex’s up in London, I somehow managed to squeeze myself into some semblance of a wedding outfit and flump onto a train. Only to have a crying breakdown in Victoria because I NEED TO WEE AGAIN AND I JUST WENT LIKE FIVE MINUTES AGO AND IT HURTS AND I CAN’T GO ON THE UNDERGROUND LIKE THIS. (Look, if you’ve had cystitis really badly, you’ll know what I’m talking about.) Then I somehow flung myself into a room full of many of Alex’s favourite old friends and mostly managed to function well enough that hopefully none of them thought he’d made a terrible choice of girlfriend… And even managed to entirely hold my fragile self together when I went to the bathroom and a girl in the stall next to me was noisily vomiting (new readers, I have emetophobia and that is MASSIVE progress)…And then we came home and I drunk loads of fluids and had the best sleep ever and now everything is OKAY! Bodies, eh?

Anyway. Onwards to June. Alex is 30 this week and I'm currently preoccupied with making sure that everything is lovely for him. Because 30! That's a lot of years! And also because he's great and still loves me and looks after me even when I'm having a hormonal cry in the middle of Victoria Station. :)