Thursday, 29 November 2012

Blog of the month (after mine obvs!)

Only 4 weeks to go until I can put my feet up, wear my Santa PJ's and reindeer slippers for 2 weeks and munch on a ridiculous amount of chocolate oranges whilst watching the Wizard of Oz for the 64th time!

But until then, there's a lot of work to get through, and 30 students to get into uni so I'm currently up to my eyes in personal statements and UCAS applications! However, in amongst the craziness it's always good to keep abreast of interesting blogs, mainly about fashion but sometimes about nothing in particular!

Today I've been having a discussion with my 2nd years about interesting quotes which could be used on personal statements. Coco Chanel was rather fluent in saying what she felt although I'm not convinced my students should write 'I don't do fashion, I AM fashion' on their statements as it might come across a slightly over confident!!!

I kind of like 'The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud'

No point in keeping things to yourself girl!

Anyway, it got us talking about Karl Lagerfeld and the fact that I find him quite vulgar at times. He's a genius but can be rude and arrogant, especially about people who might have a bit of extra padding on them (remember Adele-gate?!) but what a lot of people don't realise is that Mr Lagerfeld once used to be a bit of a porker himself!! Oh yes indeedy... Mr Skinny was a perfect advertisement for any fast food chain!

We started looking for pictures of him back in his larger days and came across a rather amusing blog... Tres Dope!

I love the comments and little quotes! They've created a ripple of laughter across the room!!
And yes, I do think he looked happier and more friendly with a bit of extra meat on him!

Having investigated further I find the blog to be quite good overall and especially as I find that my Liam/Noel Gallagher eyebrows, or slugs as my sisters once called them (which I've tried to tame unsuccessfully for many years) are finally back in fashion... It says so right here!!

I'll definitely be following this blog... I kind of just like the title!

Monday, 19 November 2012

1 easy step on how to be forgotten - stop using Facebook!!

It's been a few weeks since I've updated this site. The main reason is because I've been busy with work and having a life but the other reason is because I just haven't been using the internet as much as I was recently and the irony is, this has caused me to have a bit of a rant which I must share... on the internet with my cyber friends.. and people I don't know and will never know!

A curious situation has developed and I'm not sure how I feel about it! It appears that the minute you stop using social networking sites, in particular Facebook, then you are instantly forgotten!

I'm not saying that I've been dumped by every friend I know, that would be tragic but I certainly feel as if I'm being shunned in some way; and what is worse, I feel like I have no idea what's going on in the world, but the truth is; I just don't know what's going on on Facebook and because of that I feel like I've been shut in a very dark room!

It's not that long ago when there were no such things as mobile phones and we had to telephone people from our house to arrange to meet up.. who uses house phones anymore?!! I have one, I know I still have one as I checked the other day and I found it under a pile of magazines and dust. It's more like an ornament than a useful form of communication.

The last time a friend rang me on it was probably December 2011, but only because she'd lost my mobile number. It still rings on a daily basis but the person at the other end of the phone is automated and is rambling on about PPI claims or something! It doesn't exactly make you feel wanted when they don't answer you back and keep interrupting you... how rude!

I used to meet friends at Greys Monument in Newcastle on a Saturday to go shopping. We would arrange to meet up a day or two before but if one of us was held up there would be no way of telling the other person. They would just have to wait, and perhaps after 2 hours you would presume your friend wasn't coming.... OR, you would use a telephone box!!! I remember those as well! You would shut yourself in the tiniest enclosed space, struggle to hunt through your bag for your address/telephone book & phone your friend to see if they were on their way!

Aw, I lament the demise of the address/telephone book!

In all seriousness, who, can honestly 100% say they know the telephone number of anyone else other than their parents off by heart?!!! I don't!!!! Actually, I think I still remember the number of an ex boyfriend but only because it was seared into my memory so I could filter his calls when he started stalking me after I broke up with him!!!! Hmmmm, that still makes me shudder!!

We rely so heavily on our mobile phones! I never realised how much until mine was stolen in an Edinburgh nightclub once and I felt like I'd lost my right arm! I couldn't even call my housemate as I didn't know my own home phone number off by heart as I would just go straight to speed dial 'Edinburgh flat' on my mobile, without a 2nd glance at the number!!!

It gave me a wake up call and I now save everyone's number in a folder in my e-mail account. But then again, what would happen if my e-mail account failed?!!!! I think I'm going to have to hunt for my old address/telephone book!

I'm trying to remember the days before Facebook! Again, it's like we're talking 100 years ago, but it wasn't... it was only 5 years ago!!!! 5 years, that's all!!!!

Who remembers MySpace... the most popular social networking site before FB took over?! I remember being convinced by some students that MySpace was so cool.. I just had to join!
I did and admittedly, I found it quite fun! It also got me back into contact with a friend I had lost touch with years before so it definitely had its advantages... but I don't remember needing to go on it 24/7's! I still rang friends and e-mailed them, oh, and I still wrote letters too!!!!

And so, in 2007 the world of Facebook was introduced to me!
I can barely remember the original FB site but it was a lot less complicated than it is now! I remember uploading pictures and coming across schoolfriends who I had always wondered what had happened to them & it was fun finding out!

My first feeling of unease & my first indication that Facebook came with disadvantages was when people that I had lost contact with for a reason i.e. I didn't like them, got in contact with me!!!!

Why would the girl who bullied me at school want to contact me?!!! I mean, really?!!!

The second sign was Christmas 2008. I always sent Christmas cards! In my busiest year I sent 80 cards... I did question sending one to the Great Aunt of my ex boyfriend when I was 21 who probably died in 1996 but her address was in my address book & I didn't want to miss anyone out!

Admittedly I never received 80 christmas cards in return but I always received something in the region of 40-50 and my mantelpiece and windowsills were full of festive greetings.

And then in Christmas 2008 I received my first 'virtual' Christmas card... via Facebook!
It was a waving Christmas pudding with suspicious evil eyes if I remember rightly! Not long after I received another virtual Christmas card, and then another!

Whilst I was furiously writing my 28th real life Christmas card and complaining about getting repetivive strain injury, or the ink of my sparkly silver pen kept running out, Facebook kept delivering these virtual cards! I even got one from someone I'd never heard of... ever! Weird!

I spent £25 on 2nd class stamps that Christmas, but I felt safe in the knowledge that I would receive lots of lovely cards and letters from friends and family telling me the news of the previous year.

But no, that Christmas I received less than 20 'real' Christmas cards!!!!
I put it down to the fact that I had just moved house the year before and perhaps, I hadn't let everyone know my new address, so that Christmas I made sure that my address was on the back of every envelope of every card I sent!

But in Christmas 2009 I received only 15 real life Christmas cards, and over 40 virtual Christmas greetings via Facebook!!

We joke about the fact that the internet, and Facebook inparticular, is taking over the World, but in all seriousness it could actually be stopping people having a connection with the real world and actually hinder communication skills of the younger generation!

I teach 16-18yr olds who can barely imagine what it must have been like without Facebook and Twitter and Bebo. My students can't understand how I possibly managed to complete 2 degrees without the internet to help me. It's inconceivable to them!

They arrange to meet up for break after sessions by Facebooking each other. Their mobile phones are surgically attached to their right hands and if they lose their phone there is all out panic! There would be less panic if the college had been set on fire... as long as their phones are safe then stuff the college burning down!!

Don't get me wrong, I am not anti social networking, I think social networking can be incredibly useful especially with getting freelance work (I got my hen drawing work through FB); I have a very active FB account with 900+ friends (the difference between me and my students is that I've actually met those 900+ people at some point in my life whereas my students have 1000+ 'friends' and have probably only ever met 20 of them in real life!). I also have a Twitter account and I think my MySpace page is still there in cyberspace somewhere but it has come to light recently that just because I've decided to have a bit of a Facebook/Twitter/general internet sabbatical I am actually being shunned!!!

I feel forgotten!!

I'm going to Centerparcs for a weekend away with old friends in a few weeks and when I texted one of them to find out what the plan was for the lodge gang, she told me that everything was on FB... a 'page' had been created especially!

Yes, I agree, it's so easy in one click to access everything you ever wanted to know about anything but what if you don't want to spend your days on a computer?!

I haven't come off Facebook for any specific reason other than over the summer holidays I felt that I was wasting literally hours sat in front on my computer. I was still sat in my PJ's at midday on some days been on the internet for 3 hours!! It was starting to stress me out at how much time I was wasting online when I could have done so much useful stuff, even going for a long walk!

I was also starting to become a bit sick of reading about what people had had for breakfast, or how tired they were, or how annoyed they were that Rylan (who?!!!) had got through to the judges houses on X Factor (apparently he's still in... apparently!)

It made me realise that just last year I was in very real danger of becoming one of those people who based their daily routine around what time X Factor Strictly Come I'm a Celebrity Big Brother was on TV and 'I must update my status to tell everyone that I am sat in my front room drinking wine and eating popcorn whilst watching X Factor & I hope I get at least 6 'likes' for writing that otherwise I will look unpopular'

I managed to step away from the computer before it happened but I could have been a goner!!

It's been a few weeks since I've been regularly surfing the net and I was kind of thinking it would make me feel free and alive, but instead it's made me feel a bit uneasy and it also occurred to me that some people might actually think that I don't care about them because of my lack of FB interaction!!

The other day I popped on just to check my messages (a lot of ex students ask me for advice and reference requests via FB so I can't really come off altogether) and I noticed that I'd been invited to 2 birthday parties!!! The only invite I had was via FB. I definitely hadn't received an e mail or text... or a real life birthday party invitation via the post.... (AWW, I miss the real life birthday party invitations!!!)

So, if I hadn't gone on FB I would NEVER have known about these parties and if I hadn't replied my friends might think I was just being incredibly rude and then they may never invite me to anything ever again!!!! A scary thought!!

It leaves me in a bit of a dilemma. I don't really miss Facebook. I don't miss the constant updating of peoples daily routine (why does no one ever post 'today I got up, did a skydive for charity, came home to find my home taken over by hooded terrorists, was bundled into a car and driven across Europe, escaped down a mine shaft and swam across the English Channel making it back home in time for The Big Bang Theory,)....  but I do miss not feeling part of the in crowd!

I feel like there's only one thing for it. I'm going to have to go on Facebook and update my status to say -

'If anyone needs me, wants to invite me to anything, wants to talk to me,  just wants to remember who I am or just generally cares about me then please call. You have my mobile number.... and if you think you don't, you probably do. It's the same number I had in 2006 (before FB) and it will probably be in your address/telephone book which is probably in your bedside table under a load of old Christmas cards from me! Thanks now!'

Four reasons to avoid social networking

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Untouchable - the must see film of the year!

It's not often that a film moves me to tears, or makes me almost stop breathing but that's exactly the affect 'Untouchable' had on me so I felt I had to share my thoughts on this little gem of a film with others!

I quite like going to see films that I know nothing about previously.. I don't read reviews of write ups as I like to make my own informed unbiased opinion, and so, although I think I'd heard of the name of the film I knew absolutely nothing about it!

In the opening scenes I thought it was possibly going to be a gangster type movie with car chases, it also surprised me that it was a French film with subtitles. It doesn't bother me but I did think it might become all deep and meaningless!

For the next couple of hours though I was drawn into the world of 2 people who were so different yet they shared a friendship that is rare to find. This was interjected with laugh out loud funny moments, amazing music (70's disco... Earth Wind and Fire... my favourite!!) and moments where I just wanted to let out a big sob!

In the words of the IMDb website this film is based on 'The true story of a wealthy, physically disabled risk taker, the picture of established French nobility, who lost his wife in an accident and whose world is turned upside down when he hires a young, good-humoured, black Muslim ex-con as his caretaker. Their bond proves the power and omniscience that love and friendship can hold over all social and economic differences.'

Directed by Eric Toledano, Olivier Nakache and with the main characters played by 
Omar Sy & Francois Cluzet, it is a beautifully depicted film which to me, sums up the whole phrase 'don't judge a book by its cover'.

I don't want to give too much away as I really think it has to be seen to appreciate it fully but I was lost in a little bubble for the whole duration of the film, and tears were pouring down my face by the end!

I agree with the Guardian review 'For once, the hype is justified. This is a charming, uplifting French drama – an irreverent, humorous take on disability, closely drawn from real-life.'

You can watch an interview with the directors here. I also have to post two songs which are so very different but which I love equally. The first one here is the piano soundtrack when you needed no words, it summed up the emotions perfectly. The 2nd one is one of my all time fave disco tunes and I love it even more now.... get your boogie shoes on when listening to this!! Woohoo!!

This is SUCH a feelgood film... I want to go and see it again and again... so I think I will.. and then get the DVD and watch it again and again... and get the soundtrack too!!!

Friday, 5 October 2012

The new generation of Illustrators

So, my 1st years are about to start the 6th week of their course and they appear to be settling in very well! There are a few 'wobblers' as we call them, but I've started individual tutorials to ensure that they're as happy as they can be!

This week they all had to do a Powerpoint presentation to me on 5 digital artists of their choice... why they picked them and what they like about their work!

It's scary and I do feel for them. I remember having to stand up at uni and do a design presentation in front of the class and feeling like I was going to faint; but then I remember having to present a range to 150 buyers when I was working in industry & that practically sent me over the edge, so I do know, the more I get my students to talk in front of people, the more confident they will become!

What stood out more than anything is the amount of new illustrators who are coming out of the woodwork and a lot of them are either newly graduated or still students!

In the past my students have always talked about digital illustrators that I am very aware of, the usual suspects... Jason Brooks, Sandra Suy, Alberto Seveso etc. etc. but I am finding that there are a number of names being mentioned that I haven't heard of so I have started my own investigation!

I do feel that it can be a lot easier to be good at illustration in the digital age as software packages such as Photoshop and Illustrator can do so much now, however, I am also a staunch believer that you have to have a good understanding of the human figure to be able to convince people that you are a good fashion illustrator!

We started fashion illustration this morning and I was proud of what my students achieved in a relatively short time using the 9 heads technique!

So, getting back to these new illustrators there were a number that stood out to me. I have already mentioned Mustafa Soydan in a previous post! He appears to be an elusive character, there's not a lot of information available on him but his work is stunning! I'd like to see him work with just a pencil though and see what he achieves without his tablet and pen!

There were a number of Dutch & German artists in the mix including Anna Bours who mixes traditional with digital techniques. I love the quirkiness of her drawings and how she stylises them with patterns and colour!

Annabelle Verhoye produces very simple yet striking drawings which are full of colour.

Hilla Hryniszyn is another illustrator who produces some beautiful digital work based on traditional drawings. Just gorgeous!!!

I think, in conclusion it has certainly not only made my students more aware of what's out there and the different techniques that are used, but it has opened my eyes to how stunningly talented these new illustrators are and it makes me want to try even harder to better my own work.

After all, if we give up trying to improve then we become boring! I may have done my degree many moons ago, and regardless of me being the teacher, I never stop learning myself!

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Only 93 days until Christmas!!!!!

So, it's been a while since I've been able to blog simply because every day seems to have merged very quickly into one!!

A bit of an update on the previous blog and the exciting news is that I did become an Auntie again to the gorgeous Charlie Clarke who was born on 14th August. I met him a few days later and he is just amazing. He'll definitely be a heartbreaker... a dark haired stunner!

We had some very sad news in the family as well though. My lovely 92yr old Grandma passed away on 4th September after a very short illness. We miss her a lot but it's her funeral on Monday and I will be doing a reading which I hope will be a fitting tribute to a wonderful woman. The poem is called 'She's Gone' and was read at the Queen Mother's funeral. RIP Grandma! :(

It has been nearly 5 weeks since I returned to work from a fantastic summer break and 3 weeks since the students started and it's flying by! I can't believe half term will be upon us soon!

We appear to have some lovely 1st years and some very motivated returning 2nd years. So far, so good.... :)

Outside of my daytime job I've been desperately trying to keep on top of my own personal work which is proving difficult as the day job is so time consuming... it ain't easy keeping abreast of 72 16-18yr olds even thought I wouldn't have it any other way!!

I started doing some illustrations again and my work has been featured in a North East magazine called Etc. which is great! I still get an amazing tingly feeling when my work is published! It doesn't seem like it's my stuff at times but I'm loving the fact that I can do this outside of work.

Because of the work that I did, the editor of the magazine came down to work to interview me about my background and how I got into doing what I do! I guess I never quite imagined that I would be doing what I'm doing now when I entered the world of fashion at college when I was 16. Lots of people don't survive in the industry. It's a tough one, but I was determined and I'm proud of what I've achieved! I really don't think I'd change what I do at all. I have been so lucky! :)

I also got my work published in the Tallulah Times, the magazine which was launched in Paris to promote Tallulah Love, the beautiful lingerie range created by my beautiful fellow Northumbria graduate, Michelle Taylor!! She's a true inspiration!

I am trying to do a few more drawings in my spare time and have gone back to doing pencil drawings, particularly faces! I have no idea what it is about faces that I like so much.... but I LOVE drawing eyes, they are definitely the windows to the soul... haha!

Etc. magazine have been back in touch as they want me to do a feature on Winter fashion also! It's all happening & I'm loving being involved!

So, within the CCAD camp it's extremely busy and I'm getting very involved in researching stuff for the students to look at. Within the computer unit we are currently looking at digital artists and we had a very interesting discussion the other day about how you can tell if something has been digitally manipulated or not. I felt quite strongly that it was quite easy to tell and then I came across the work of a fashion illustrator called Mustafa Soydan.

He has blown my theory out of the water!

I was convinced that his work was done by hand.. beautiful pencil illustrations... and I told my 1st years this. And then I went onto his website... and found that he does it on a computer!!!!!
I was flabbergasted!!

It doesn't detract from the fact that he is amazingly talented. I adore his work... it's stunning, but it changes everything about what is digital and what is traditional. I have yet to find out what program he uses but here he is drawing Rachel Weisz..... just unbelievable!!

It is my mission to find out what program he uses... and then I might have a go myself!

Right, that's enough waffling for now... I might go and start my Xmas shopping list!! :) xx

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Whooooosh... and that was Summer!!

In the words of Julia Fordham, where *does* the time go?!

It's hard to believe that I last wrote on here just before I finished work for the Summer and was looking forward to a long 5 week break & now I have just 8 days until I return for the craziness that is a new term and the arrival of brand new, shiny, impressionable 1st years!

I think I might have just about cracked this summer holiday stuff though! It's only taken me 8 years, but I do remember my 1st summer off as a lecturer and not doing anything with it! Massive fail as going back to such a demanding job without making the most of your time off only makes you feel like you need another holiday within a week of returning! This year I feel like I've done loads & I've really made the most of it which will hopefully see me return to work feeling refreshed and with lots of stories to tell the students!

There was no rest for me as soon as I finished for the summer. Not even a chance to sit down and reflect on the past year as I went straight out to celebrate another birthday. I guess most people who know me know that it's a rare event seeing me sat down! My birthday was brilliant! I suggested karaoke, lots of people suggested that they were not interested but would 'come along'. Those people who 'came along' couldn't be removed from the karaoke!! In my eyes it was a success & I look forward to booking a karaoke pod, & maybe a silent disco, in the not too distant future! It would be great to see some more non singers up!!! :)

Oh, and for those of you wondering if I was lucky enough to receive the Tatty Devine necklace that I really, really wanted for my birthday as mentioned in a previous post?!! I was lucky!! :) :) :)

Without a doubt my favourite birthday present in a long time! xx

So, pretty much straight after my birthday celebrations it was off to my favourite island in the World for some rest and relaxation with the folks & also to use the voucher I was given by my Auntie and Uncle for my big birthday last year, to have a go at powerboating.... they know me too well!! A voucher to have a go at crocheting wouldn't have gone down so well!!

I would recommend it to anyone! It was fast, exhilarating and fun... and my mum decided she needed to have a go too! We were lucky enough to speed out to Ailsa Craig, a stunning volcanic granite rock which is now only home to seabirds including the huge gannets with wingspans of up to 6ft! Approaching the rock was quite unbelievable as the sounds of the birds shattered any peace that we thought there may have been! My breath was literally taken away as we were surrounded by seals frolicking in the water, puffins feeding their young and just thousands upon thousands of white seabirds nesting on the cliffs. The leader of the trip, Russ, was highly informative and what he didn't know wasn't worth knowing! My mum's rather renowned for asking 100's of questions but Russ was able to answer every one!! :)

I'm not sure the outfits would be classed as particularly fashionable but it kept the sea spray off us!!

I've uploaded a few more pics including Ailsa Craig as it looks from Arran and then what it looks like close up. I also came across an abandoned house with the frying pan still on the stove... and beer on the shelves! Very Marie Celeste!

It was a fantastic trip and a lovely few days of just chilling & walking our gorgeous black lab on the beach!! I will *never* tire of Arran!

So then, I had a few hours back in the Toon before being picked up to start the journey to Berlin via Liverpool Airport! It was hard to imagine that we were on our way! I'd been looking forward to it for such a long time so boarding the plane at JLA saw me a little bit giddy!!!

I went over with Aly Agar, my colleague from work and her friend AJ & then we met up with another friend Rebecca, who had arrived after travelling around China and Russia so she more or less slept for the 1st 24hrs after arriving!! I didn't blame her!!

I had no preconceptions about Berlin. I tend to go to new places without reading up on them much apart from looking for recommended places to go. But I much prefer mooching around a new city and finding things myself! The only place I knew I wanted to go was the Aquadom, the largest cylindrical Aquarium in the World which was built as the highlight of the Sealife Centre 8 years go! I have already mentioned it on this blog so that's another tick on my bucket list even if I did have to wait 4 days to get there!!!!

It's as stunning as it looks on pictures! It's kind of like the finale of the Sealife Centre exhibits! You leave the main building then you head over to the Radisson hotel which houses the Aquadom. So, as you're checking into the hotel you have this huge aquarium looming over you! Pretty cool!!

Yep, my pic's a little wonky... but I was in awe!!!

I bet the diver gets to see a few strange sights in the hotel rooms!!! Cool job! :)

We spent the first few days just wandering around the area we were staying in called Mitte! I think what took me by surprise was just how big Berlin is! I knew it wasn't going to be a small town but it's quite easy to get lost! The public transport system is very efficient and clean although it's like a warren underground and there was more than one occasion when we ended up on the wrong platform!!
We usually kept stopping off to try the local beer! Well.. it would be rude not to!

We were very close to Alexanderplatz which is more or less the centre of Berlin and the location of the infamous TV tower which features on most postcards of Berlin! It is very impressive and although we never went up to the top (apparently the coffee & cake is severely overpriced and I refuse to pay extra for something just because it's sold in a tourist attraction!!!!) I took lots of pics!

We also visited the Brandenburg Gate. This took me back to being 18 and watching the footage of the Berlin wall coming down. It was just as impressive as it looks in pictures although it was full of tourists and gypsies and people selling rubbish. A good experience though & it's hard to imagine what life was like before the wall came down!!

The Sunday was spent in an area that had been recommended to us & only 5 mins walk from our apartment. The Mauerpark and its infamous Sunday fleamarket! It was a beautiful day and as expected the park was absolutely packed!! Every inch of grass was taken up by a body just chilling! Beers were out (even at 11am) and it perfectly depicted the very relaxed attitude of the Berliners!

The market was great. Like the Newcastle Quayside market but 30 times bigger!!! It was so easy to get lost amongst all the stalls... and it was even easier to spend lots of ££'s as there were so many bargains! I did manage to restrict myself though!!

We stayed in the park more or less all day as there was so much to see and do. We spent the afternoon watching a street artist perform in the ampitheatre. She was very good and had a huge crowd watching her & managed to encourage lots of audience participation!!

Our week in Berlin seemed to fly by but I felt that we packed an awful lot into a relatively short space of time! I feel confident that if I go back I will know my way around & would probably stay in the Mitte area again as the bars and restaurants were fantastic with lots of quirky places!
Oh, and the view from my apartment window was pretty special!

My trip across Germany continued as I took the train from Berlin to Hannover (with a weird incident of a mad German woman hitting me over the head with her handbag!) & then I caught the train from Hannover to Celle where my friend Gemma picked me up.

Gem's been in Germany for 5 months now working on the Army base at Bergen. She seems to have settled in well and has a pretty good social life in what she calls 'Little Britain'!

I have to admit, sometimes it was easy to forget I was in Germany as there were more English cars than German ones passing us on the street and every shop we went into, there was always an English person based at the barracks doing their shopping!

Without a doubt, my best first experience of arriving in Bergen was being taken immediately to the local ice cream shop! I saw the different flavours as we walked in and I oooh-ed a lot at which point Gemma told me to wait until I'd seen the menu!! Upon opening said menu I was rendered rather speechless! They did Spaghetti ice cream!!!!!!! Such a simple idea, get a machine which produces ice cream in a spaghetti shape, but it was highly effective! All ice cream shops should have a spaghetti ice cream machine!!! I went for the Spaghetti carbonara! A taste sensation! :) It really doesn't take much to amuse me!!!

Bergen was great. Quite a small little village but with a lot of history. On the 2nd day whilst Gemma was at work I decided to visit the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Famous for being the camp where Anne Frank and her sister Margot died.

I knew it wouldn't be the most pleasant of experiences but what surprised me more than anything was although my emotion levels were heightened, the actual location was one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited! It was just unbelievably hard to imagine the horrors that went on in such a beautiful space! I was more or less alone as I wandered around the vast area and all I could hear were birds tweeting and crickets chirping. You would have never guessed what had gone on but the signs dotted all over were a grim reminder.

I was rooted to the spot at times just drinking up the atmosphere. I just stood and stared, lost in my thoughts of the people who suffered at the hands of animals. Tears would spring to my eyes every time I passed a mass grave. First holding 1500 victims, then 3000 and then 5000.

The memorial committee have done an amazing job turning what was a relatively derelict and overrun site up until early 2011 into a place which is so fitting in tribute to the victims. Although beautiful the facts are there clear to see and we should never forget!

The rest of my stay in Bergen included a visit to the very pretty town of Celle & a trip to the cocktail bars of Bergen which is where most of the squaddies hung out on a Friday night which was amusing to watch! Squaddie dancing should be an Olympic sport... definitely a sight to behold!!

All in all, a great 2 weeks of travelling and experiencing a different culture. It does feel hard to believe I've been back almost 2 weeks though!

However, the days haven't been wasted! I managed a day trip to Edinburgh which was great fun doing touristy things I never got to do when I lived there!

And then I went back up for the weekend to see the show of the brother of a good friend. Called Grimm Up North it's an animated show which is quite dark but amusing! I managed to see it twice and laughed both times!!! It was also a a good chance to catch up with friends I hadn't seen for a while & I also managed to go and visit some of my Scottish family including my 2nd cousin and her baby girl Anna who I hadn't met!

I've also managed to spend a weekend in Leeds to catch up with some other friends who I haven't seen for ages! Now I have a week left to make the most of the remainder of my holidays! I intend to do a spot of decorating & also maybe a bit of illustrating & I also have 2 hen party classes to run.. oh, and I have to get over a nasty throat infection I seemed to have picked up.... possibly burning the candle at both ends! :/

But the best news of all is that I've just heard today that my sister Amy has gone into labour with her 2nd baby and my 4th niece or nephew! Hopefully I will become an Auntie again within 24hrs! I can't think of a better way to finish off an amazing, fun filled, crazy 5 weeks spent with the best people!

Monday, 9 July 2012

Nearly there....

So, I'm into the final week of work before a much needed 5 weeks rest and recuperation... and after nearly 8 years in this job i'm finally beginning to understand just how much those 5 weeks off mean to anyone who works in the FE sector!

I made the mistake of wasting my first ever summer break and just bummed around for 5 weeks.. the very next year I made sure I had lots planned so that I didn't return to work feeling like I needed a few more weeks break to get used to returning to the mayhem!

The last week before we finish is always a bit of a 'mare. The week after the students leave we're all still on a bit of a high after the summer shows and there's still a bit of a buzz! But after 3 weeks of completing the Course Review (like doing a uni dissertation but every year!!), writing up assessment feedback and planning assignment briefs I'm developing a severe case of cabin fever and right now I'd be happy not to sit facing the wall in front of my computer for 5 years never mind 5 weeks!

I'm like a deflated balloon that's been stood on. Energy levels are low, sugar levels are low (I blame the vending machine for not having my favourite chocolate bar stocked!)... and the goddam twitch that I've had in my left eye is still twitching... it needs to stop!!

This time next week I'll be hopefully powerboating around the Isle of Arran before my first trip to Berlin on the 19th! I am excited but I think at the moment I'm so tired that my excitement levels are relatively reserved. I keep having mini flaps that I have too much to do. When I go to Arran I normally throw all my stuff in the back of the car and hope for the best. This time there is going to have to be some form of order to my packing so that I don't go over my 20kg flight allowance... argh.. I'm not exactly renowned for travelling light... my make up bag is like a small trolley case... well, I'm getting older.. I need more help!! :)

I'm looking forward to my birthday night out on Friday. Another Friday 13th under my belt... I always thought it was quite cool to have a birthday on this date although I am thinking I could have done with a bit more luck recently so I'm dressing up as a black cat and I'll attempt to cross my own path a number of times... see if that works!!! :)

I haven't really had the opportunity to do a lot of illustration work recently with 'normal' work being so busy but the lovely Michelle from Tallulah Love passed over a job to me which was to draw some faces for an editorial on make up for the Sunderland Echo magazine.

Again, I decided to stick to traditional methods and got my pencil out... a bit of pencil dancing, that's what I like best!! I did 4 faces using an HB pencil and my trusty Staedtler Lumograph 8B to enhance places like the eyes!!! Ooooh, I love that pencil!!

I then scanned them into Photoshop and added a bit of colour to the lips! I'm not sure which edition they will be featured in but they went down well with the editor... so much so in fact that she wants to do a full interview with me about my work!! It was meant to happen last week but she wants a photographer available to it's been rescheduled for 7th August. I'm fine about the interview.. not so much about the photographer being there.... I hate doing posed shots!!!!

Anyway, I've added my latest drawings here! Hope you like them! :)

4 sleeps..... it can't come quick enough!!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

My hero is back!

I've just had a small shiver go up my spine after receiving news on a new online exhibition from the Fashion Illustration Gallery. It only happens to be an exhibition of David Downton's work... and anyone who knows me and what I do, knows that my love of all things David Downton is unconditional!!!

So for the next month everyone has the opportunity to check out his recent work and hopefully develop an appreciation of it... although it might not be as obsessive as mine!

When I teach my students illustration I always try to explain about how the empty space that you leave on an illustration is just as important as the marks that they make. Sometimes the empty space can speak volumes and David Downton is the king of leaving empty spaces but producing illustrations that speak volumes!

Look at the lines he creates... they're fluid and free yet the lines are few and far between. Sometimes there are no lines at all, only blocks of colour, and the way he portrays eyes... it's like looking into the soul of his subject!!

Anyway, before my gushing becomes embarrassing please check out his exhibition for yourself here.

The only thing that makes me sad is the price of his work... I'm going to have to do some serious saving in order to display just one of his original pieces on my wall. In the meantime I'll have to make do with the Downton greetings cards that I have framed!

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Another year... another amazing show!

I did it, they did it... WE did it!! The CCAD ED Fashion & Clothing Summer Show of 2012 has been deemed a success and yet, I still look back and wonder how the hell we ever get to a finished show!!

8 years ago, there was no indication of what this job would entail. Naively, I just thought I'd come in on a morning and teach a bit of fashion design and then go home! Nothing could have prepared me for the reality and although I only imagined I'd be there for a year or two, nearly 8 years on I can't imagine doing anything else!

This job isn't just about going in and teaching. I'm a counsellor, a confidante, a friend, a stand in parent, an ear to bend, a shoulder to cry on & so much more! Some days are tough. Some days I want to walk out of the front door and not look back but most days I thrive on the development of my students & their funnyisms keep me going!

They come to me as shy kids just out of school. They have no idea what they have let themselves in for but in just 2 short years, we mould them and help them to grow. We build their confidence, we guide them and we support them. We also give them no bullsh*t. We tell them like it is. We yell at them and reduce them to tears. They yell at me and reduce me to tears... it's called tough love. They'll look back one day and it will all make sense!!

I adore every one of my students. As much as they do my head in they make my job so worthwhile! I will never forget being a fashion student myself and I want to pass on the experience that I had. The good times and the bad times.

The fashion industry is one of the toughest industries to survive in. It can be pretentious and fake. It is full of arrogant people.. but it is also one of the best industries to work in. It has unlimited talent and there are no restrictions! It's what makes the world go round. We need clothes!! My gang are just starting their journey. They're going where I've been, and I want to help them through it!

My uni days were the best days of my life. I worked as hard as I played & I reaped the benefits eventually. I got to work for some amazing companies and I got to work with some amazing people and I feel like I've gone full circle. 

So, for the 7th year I can finally sit back again and feel proud of the achievements of my students. And I guess I can feel a little bit proud of the part I've played in helping them realise their ambitions!

I also look forward to the 33 Facebook friend requests I'll get at the end of this week as they know that although they leave CCAD on Friday, they will never leave my thoughts & I will always be here to help them in any way I can!! They will remain 'my kids' for life! xx

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Summer plans!

It's been a week or so since I've updated this blog but simply because I've been incredibly busy trying to get everyone sorted for the 2012 Summer Show! I can't believe it's come around so quickly and I can't believe it's going to be my 7th Summer Show... I just don't know where the time goes!

There's been a bit of stress with the build up to deadline and the look of the living dead surviving on only Red Bull in the eyes of many of my gang but nothing unusual there... it happens every year! We have to get the show up by Friday at 4pm as the extra bank holiday (thank you Queen Liz!!) has meant that the show opens on the day we return! Arggh!!! I AM calm, I AM!!!!

Hopefully we'll have everything up in time and once again I'll be able to look on like a proud mother on the night of the show when all the families and friends come in and see exactly what we've been up to with their precious ones over the past 2 years!! Hopefully!!!!

I've had a busy few weekends away from work as well & I have now planned my Summer holidays!! Yeehar! I realised in my first year of working as a lecturer, that it's so important to plan the 5 weeks off otherwise they just get wasted and then you have that awfully long term from August to Dec.... it's really really long!!

So I've been pretty good with planning my time off effectively. Obviously last year was pretty crazy with turning 40, a fab ceilidh on Arran and jumping out of a plane at 15,000ft so it was important for me to do something equally interesting (or crazy!) this summer!

And I can confirm that I will be undertaking a German road trip (no throwing myself out of the plane getting there though!!)

I ummed and ahhed about going for a cheeky week or so on a beach but to be perfectly honest I just get bored of lying around doing nothing and I've never been a sun worshipper so I decided to go all cultural & hit Berlin!

I'll spend a few days on Arran first as I have to get my Scottish air fix, and then I fly to Berlin with Alyson, my friend from work & her 2 mates! We're going to get a central apartment in Berlin for 5 days and when they come home I'm going to train it across country to Hanover and stay with my friend Gemma for 5 days!!

I'm so excited as it means I'll get to see the AquaDom, the world's largest cylindrical aquarium & as I said in a previous post I've always wanted to see that!! I also intend to get a new camera as I've been quite obsessed with taking photos recently and I'd like to pursue that more as a hobby!

As soon as the show's over I'll be straight on to planning for work and for my trip!! :)

I really hope I get the chance to spend more time getting back to my drawing over the summer as well as that has slipped by the wayside, again, just because I've been so busy with the day job!

I did a few drawings for Tallulah Love and went back to my hand drawing which made a change! They're going to be published in the 1st edition of the Tallulah Times hopefully this week so watch this space! :)

It made me realise just how much I miss drawing by hand so will definitely try and do more stuff like that this summer.

Other than that I'm off camping this weekend with a fab posse to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee. I'm very much looking forward to it as I've gone a bit OTT with my jubilee regalia and the tents are going to be covered in flags and bunting! At least we should be easy to spot! We're going to have a jubilee barbecue party on the Monday and go for the World Record attempt of the most people wearing paper crowns on a campsite!!! ha! Yep.. it's going to be a fun weekend! Let's hope the weather stays as nice as it has been!!

Happy Jubilee weekend everyone! :)

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Richard Avedon - another genius with a camera!

I'm in the middle of the madness of the fashion department at CCAD right now. Deadline day is tomorrow and there have been tears and tantrums but nothing different to usual.
I try to keep an element of calm throughout all this but I have my own deadlines, such as making sure the FMP show is going to be amazing & that I have put together posters and write ups for all the students!
I'm trying to create a Classic Dress poster for the 1st years & because I used a David Downton illustration last year I wanted to use photography this year.
I have a number of images in my head when I think of the classic dress, including Audrey Hepburn but when I think of photography and a picture which involved a classic dress I immediately thought of Richard Avedon's photography and the classic picture of the model Dovima stood amongst some elephants wearing a Dior dress... as you do!!

These pictures are perhaps 2 of my all time favourite fashion photographs! I love the sophistication of the model stood on straw mixed with the playfulness of the elephants!
Of course, this involved me going through the rest of Avedon's archive on his website and gasping with admiration at his photography. It's just stunning! He is definitely another one of my photographic heroes!

Saturday, 5 May 2012

My birthday wish list... I'll have everything from Tatty Devine please!! :)

Oooh, it's the weekend... and better than that, it's a bank holiday weekend!!!! Woo and indeed hoo!!
For some reason my body won't let me sleep in anymore!! I had nothing to get up for in particular this morning... well, I thought I had an opticians appointment at 8.30am but I got the wrong Saturday.. doh!

Anyway, what better way to start the day than to mooch around in my PJ's with a cup of coffee trawling the internet for items I wish I owned!! :)

And as it's my birthday in 2 months(ish) I thought I may as well start a wish list (and hope someone will look at it!!!!)

I've always been a fan of quirky retro jewellery, anything that makes a statement!! I used to buy a lot from this seller on Ebay but she's disappeared recently! :(

My favourite jewellery designer has to be Tatty Devine!!!
Tatty Devine

The thing is, it's not exactly cheap and you'd need to take out a small loan for their most popular items but I'm counting on getting one of their best sellers... the Name Necklace!

Thing is, I could go for the very obvious choice of getting my name!!!! Original eh?!! But I want to be more quirky than that... so I'm thinking, what word sums me up?!! Glittery?! Crazy?!!!
Oooh, I like this...... I do say Crikey a lot!! :)

I think it's time to put this out to the masses!! What word sums me up?!
The most popular word is the necklace I get made!!!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Gemma Correll - my illustrator of the month! :)

I've been doing my daily trawling of the internet in my search for things that inspire me & came across this little Gem of an illustrator, Gemma Correll.... did you see what I did there... Gem.. Gemma?!! no.. ok, I'll get my coat!

Anyway, I recognised her artwork as the work that is featured on a number of greetings cards I have purchased in the past!! We have a similar sense of humour! Small things amuse me... talking cats and vegetables that have intelligent thoughts... you get my drift!? Gemma draws such things in a way that just makes you laugh! Well, they make me laugh! Such simple drawings but so detailed!

I love her website - it's got everything! I even love the fact in the section which has what other people have said about her work she has “wtf. worst cartoons ever!” – Luc Hook Walker of Australia, and “How is this funny? Like at all?” – Mariah; when most other people would be bragging with amazing comments, but not Gemma! Yep, she definitely has a very warped sense of humour which I like a lot!!

Oh, and her drawings are just brilliant! Here's a few of my faves:

Girl after my own heart in this one.....

This one just makes me laugh out loud, or lol if I'm getting down with the kids...

I love the thought that fruit could have personal problems....

I think I might get myself some Valentine's cards like this next year.....

I could keep adding more and more of her drawings until the cows come home but it would be easier for you to take a look at her website!! It will keep you amused for hours!