Climbing Mountains – January blues and 31 days of madness!

As we start February I look back at the madness that was January. From the world being plunged into the realities and dangers of Trumpland to the usual January blues. At this dull time of year, after the festivities and fun of the festive period I always think of CS Lewis’s words:

“I’ve always found this a trying time of the year.  The leaves not yet out, mud everywhere you go.  Frosty mornings gone.  Sunny mornings not yet come.  Give me blizzards and frozen pipes, but not this nothing time, not this waiting room of the world.”

January inevitably, is always a pensive time, a time of anti-climax, of looking back at the past year and looking to the future – sometimes in hope, sometimes in anxiety. I suppose now with the turmeric turd (as I call him) ensconced in the White House, there is more reason than any to be anxious about what the future may bring. For me personally, being such a lover of nature, a conservationist and environmentalist at heart, I worry about his ignorant, unsubstantiated (and quite possibly insane) views and denial of climate change as merely a ‘Chinese hoax’. That instead of listening to the independent views of thousands of scientists and climate experts around the world, of proven facts about climate change resulting from human activity, that Trump’s ego and his love of money and power could easily cause unparalleled environmental damage that may take years to reverse, if it can be at all. We don’t own this world, we are merely custodians, another animal species that rely on it for life itself. This world is such a precious place, its eco systems so fragile, its wildlife under so much threat from humanity already, that 4 years or dare I say it, 8 years of Trump insanity, of arctic drilling, fracking, extra oil, gas and coal exploration and pollution, may well be too much to recover from. Only time will tell.

January is also about setting goals especially life goals which are always tricky, the positive vibes of saying to yourself that THIS year will be different, this year you will lose those annoying pounds (or stones), achieve those long held goals and dreams, that this will be YOUR year.

It’s a double-edged sword. Yes you should have aspirations, goals, dreams, things that make you happy, but the reality of not achieving them can be dreadful. January is also a time of year that I often find myself falling back into bad habits and bad thinking – the time when depression often rears its ugly head.

So, as a way to combat those feelings and that awful January inertia, back in November I had an utterly mad idea…

painting-outside by Sophie E Tallis

Being Facebook friends with the lovely Children’s Laureate, illustrator extraordinaire Chris Riddell, I’ve been watching his posts all through the year. Every day Chris draws or sketches in what he calls his ‘Laureate Log’, a wonderful visual diary of creativity. Well, as Picasso himself said “The best ideas are stolen!”, I decided to do my own daily art record – what I call ‘The Artmaniac Challenge’!

So I set up a friendly inclusive group on Facebook – the Artmaniacs – open to anyone to draw, sketch, paint, sculpt, create a new artwork EVERY DAY for 365 days, starting from January 1st 2017 – January 1st 2018 and post it online in the group and anywhere else they fancy! It was a way for focusing the mind, being productive and a way of forcing you to be creative every day, even on days when all you want is a cuppa and a duvet to hide under.

I had no idea if it would work, but it has, we already have 27 members and growing! It’s been a wonderfully positive thing, a great way of driving out those damn January blues and giving a real sense of achievement to those participating. So in the mad 31 days of January, I and others have 31 pieces of art to show for it, an ever-growing portfolio – and the lovely thing is that it doesn’t matter if they are rough sketches, finished drawings, doodles, paintings, experiments, photography, anything goes! 😀

For someone like me, who has found it so hard to put pen to paper in regards to writing, doing this daily challenge has actually helped me in my writing too, because, if I can spare a few minutes to draw every day, if I can force myself to create something every day, then I can do the same for writing! WE CAN DO THIS!!!

So, here is the gallery of my first month of art, some good, lol, some not so good! 😀 xxxx

Dragon and warrior sketch by Sophie E TallisFallen Angel by Sophie E TallisSaw Gerrera character sketch (from Rogue One) by Sophie E TallisPen & Ink sketch of my dog, Korrun by Sophie E TallisCharacter sketch from my short story, Silent Running by Sophie E TallisRough sketch of Fenn, given that he only sat still for a few seconds before moving! by Sophie E TallisHand study in pen & ink by Sophie E TallisMy rough illustration from my children's book, The Little Girl Who Lost Her Smile', by Sophie E TallisThe Little Girl Who Lost Her Smile by Sophie E TallisCharacter sketch of Lord Perral from White Mountain by Sophie E TallisDragon sketch by Sophie E TallisRough sketch by Sophie E TallisSketch in blue by Sophie E TallisCouple Portrait by Sophie E TallisFinished Couple Portrait by Sophie E TallisBenedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock character study by Sophie E TallisRough fairy study by Sophie E TallisView of Kallorm 'City of Light' from White Mountain by Sophie E TallisDragon sketch by Sophie E TallisSelf=Portrait in blue by Sophie E TallisStudy in blue by Sophie E TallisMy blue toned drawing of Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia by Sophie E TallisWolf study in purple by Sophie E TallisBurnt umber and ochre study by Sophie E TallisLong-Tailed Tit by Sophie E TallisPortrait study in blue by Sophie E TallisFigure study in purple by Sophie E TallisPen & Ink pheasant study by Sophie E TallisOde to John Hurt RIP by Sophie E TallisPen & Ink drawing of my dog, Tolly by Sophie E Tallis'Do not be silenced' watercolour pencil study by Sophie E TallisChinese New Year dragon rough sketch by Sophie E Tallis

Well that’s it – the good, the bad and the ugly! Let’s see what the next month brings. 🙂

N.B. I will also let slip, that a couple of weeks ago, I had some VERY good news involving HarperCollins… I’ll let you all know once everything is signed and sealed. Watch this space…! 😉 xxx

Inspired? Hell, yes!

Well after receiving the Sunshine Blogger Award from the lovely Kay Kauffman http://suddenlytheyalldied.com/ I’m utterly thrilled and humbled to be nominated for another award! The very talented and dragon friendly, Lindsey J Parsons  http://lindseyjparsons.wordpress.com/, has nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award! Wow, wow and wow! I’m so touched!

A huge thank you to Lindsey J Parsons. Lindsey is a fellow fantasy writer, lover of dragons, breather of fire and inspiring blogger herself. Please check out her wonderful site: http://lindseyjparsons.wordpress.com/ and be inspired yourself! Highly recommended!

The Rules:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.

2. Share seven things about yourself.

3. Nominate other bloggers you think deserve the award, and post on their blog to let them know they’ve been nominated.

*****

Right, ummm…seven things about me, eh? Here goes!

Seven Things:

1.      I have nine lives, as in a cat with nine lives, not previous reincarnated versions of myself…scary thought! I have currently used at least 3 of them as I have nearly died 3 times! I drowned and was brought back to life, was almost decapitated (a real close shave!) and was involved in a motorway pile up which wrecked my car and should have killed me, but left me with only scratches. I’d love to think I’m a superhero aka ‘Unbreakable’, but sadly no. That’s not counting all my mishaps as an adventurous Huckleberry Finn type tomboy, like falling twenty feet out of a tree while trying to build myself a tree house with some rusty nails and scrap pieces of wood I’d found!

I figure I’m doing alright as I still have 6 lives left! 😀

2.     I used to play the piano and reached Stage 4 of my examinations before quitting, something I still regret to this day. I had absolutely no natural ability for it, it was hard slog all the way, but I did enjoy it and my elderly music teacher, Miss Allen was a delight. Although I can’t read music anymore, I still remember and play one piece by heart, called ‘Breakers’ (C major so it’s easy!), which reminds me of the ocean and breaking waves…very soporific! One day I will return to my piano playing days, though I doubt I will ever find a gentler soul than Miss Allen to teach me.

3.     I love art and thankfully, unlike my music, I do have natural talent for it. Before I could walk I was drawing and painting with amazing precision for a two and three year old. At four I was drawing complex designs from art books and the decorative china we had around the house, including a very ornate Japanese cheese dish with birds all over it…don’t know why I remember that! As a young child at school I used draw portraits of people, or anything they liked, for pennies, not sure if I was being a little entrepreneur or a kindergarten con-man!

The first time I went to London and saw Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘Madonna of the Rocks’ and Caravaggio’s ‘Supper at Emmaus’, at the National Gallery, I cried. It was so moving and inspirational to me. THAT was how I wanted to draw and paint!

I got a BA (Hons) in Fine Art, with a specialism in drawing, painting, sculptural ceramics and photography (studio & landscape), which I love! Dark rooms are wonderfully magical places!

Anyway, I’ve been a particular fan of Caravaggio’s work my whole life, and though I can’t paint like him, it doesn’t stop me trying! 😛

4.     I once kissed Michael Foot on the cheek! For those of you who are too young to remember or for my overseas friends, Michael Foot was this archaic looking gentleman with a wild scruffy shock of white hair, who was the leader of the Labour Party back in the late 1970’s and early 80’s. Being a lefty myself, I’ll always believe in helping those less fortunate than myself, but I must say, having a photograph of me kissing this old chap – wasn’t my best move! Ewwwwww!

5.     I do like my food, especially Italian, which is clearly visible on my hips! I adore Marmite – there, I’ve said it. Love it, love it, love it! When I’m on my own, I always prefer to have my dessert first then my savoury. That way, you get the sweet stuff out of the way and then you can fully appreciate and savour your main course! 😀

Alcohol and me don’t mix though. Something about the fermentation process, but so much as a sip of wine or beer and I want to throw up. Of course, it could be that I just have immature taste buds like the rest of me!

6.     I do have some strange quirks I admit. I am incredibly bendy, though you’d never guess it to look at me. Now, although I can no longer do the splits or get my feet behind my head, I can hoist them up to my shoulders and as all the children I have ever taught in my classes can attest, I do an amazing above the door high kick! That’s right…I’m a high kicking teacher! Damn, if only that was a usable skill in life. 😛

7.      Writing will always be my first love and passion. As a kid I was writing stories before I could really do anything else. Novel ideas, poetry, short stories and ideas for world building – some of it in incredible detail. I literally have bags and bags, reams and reams of character bios, story plots, background material for worlds, sketches of planets, ships, dwellings, really mostly rubbish, but it has always just been a part of who I am. The stories that always inspired me the most and fuelled my desire to be a writer, were always fantasy and science-fiction. When I wasn’t playing air guitar or climbing trees, I was buried in some sci-fi or fantasy book. If you cannot claw your way out of your reality, you can grow wings and soar instead!

Now, down to my nominees. There are many fabulous bloggers out there, but these are the ones I am most inspired by.

In no order at all, because they are all equally fabulous for different reasons…

Tricia Drammeh  http://theclaimingwords.com/

Ryan Holmes (Griffin’s Quill)  http://griffinsquill.com/

Morgen Bailey  http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/

Rose Wall http://rosewall.weebly.com/

Hazel Butler http://aadenianink.com/

The Alliance of Worldbuilders http://theallianceofworldbuilders.weebly.com/

Mandy Ward (WelcomeTo Wherever)  http://welcometowherever.wordpress.com/

Ashen Venema  http://courseofmirrors.wordpress.com/

Lesley Carter (Bucket List Publications)  http://lesleycarter.wordpress.com/

Again, I would love to nominate Kate Jack http://kateannejack.wordpress.com/,  Will MacMillan Jones http://willmacmillanjones.wordpress.com/ , Kay Kauffman http://suddenlytheyalldied.com/ and of course Lindsey Parsons herself http://lindseyjparsons.wordpress.com/, but Lindsey has already, quite rightfully, nominated their wonderful blogs, so I won’t repeat. But please do check them out folks, inspiring every single one of them!

…in yourself and you can achieve anything! 😀 xx

Blog Awards! The techno-idiot gets two nominations!

Sunshine

Every time I think my IT skills are improving, something happens that reminds me of just what a techno-idiot I am.

I was very VERY kindly nominated by the lovely Kay Kauffman for the Sunshine Blogger Award. What a wonderfully kind and lovely thing to do! I was thrilled that Kay had been nominated and had then nominated me.

BUT, it was only today after being nominated for another blog award, Very Inspiring Blogger Award, by the equally lovely and kind Lindsey Parsons, that the penny finally dropped.

D’uh! You are supposed to answers questions and nominate fellow bloggers!

Firstly, a HUGE thank you to Kay Kauffman. I’m utterly thrilled and rather humbled! 😀 xx

Here is Kay’s blog http://suddenlytheyalldied.com/ – a wonderful mixture of poetry, short stories and musings on life. Highly recommended!

So, here are the rules for all those that get nominated:

Rules

  • Link the award to the person who gave it to me.
  • Answer questions about myself – see below.
  • Nominate ten bloggers for the award.
  • Link my nominees to the post and comment on their blog, letting them know about the award.

*****

1.What is your favorite Christmas movie?
Although I am a complete film nut, I’m one of those people that loves obscure films and remembers things like directors, release dates, every actors’ name…ummm I’m really sounding like a nut here, but I’m not big on Christmas films. I guess I don’t like anything ‘designed’ to illicit a certain response, which holiday films invariably do. It’s the freak in me that likes to push my own buttons rather than have someone else contrive to do it. So, my choices are remarkably narrow. I’d probably go for either Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, or something wonderfully daft like Trading Places and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (yes, I know it’s not a Christmas movie, but it’s SUCH fun!). 😀

2.What is your favorite flower?
I love white flowers, the purity and simplicity of them. Daisies, lilies, tulips, anemones…but my favourite are poppies. Poppies are such delicate papery flowers yet they have such a vivacity about them. They herald the coming of summer and warm hazy lazy days. I love red poppies, but white and Himalayan blue poppies are my very favourite!

3.What is your favorite non-alcoholic beverage?

I drink lots of milk. My favourite drink is a toss up between Shloer, Elderflower cordial or my own kick-ass homemade lemonade. The secret is a squeeze of lime! 😉 Do love a good hot chocolate though.

4.What is your passion?
Writing, writing, writing. Other than that, my problem is that I have too many passions really. I love drawing, painting, sculpture and photography – creating something special from a blank canvas, lump of clay or camera lens. For me, being creative is as important as eating and breathing…two things I’m rather fond of! 😉

5.What is your favorite time of year?
Definitely summer…the promise of warmth. I love all the seasons, though Autumn has always meant ‘spider season’ and ‘school’ and another birthday coming round. Spring is a wondrously rejuvenating time of year but so often drenched in rain. I love the quiet peace and stillness of winter, but nothing compares to those precious few days of the year where you can lie on the grass under cerulean skies and feel the sun on your face! Bliss! Summer means adventure and possibilities…

6.What is your favorite time of day?

That’s easy to answer – night owl here! Daytime is for work, job, stresses of life. I love the night, when everyone is asleep and the world is quiet. Those magical few hours of stillness, with nothing but the soft night breeze and a halo of stars drifting above you…that’s when the magic truly happens!

7.What is your favorite physical activity?

Lol! Ummm…I could have been naughty there! I love walking especially in wild places. The wilder the better. The countryside, especially the remoter parts of it, hold such a mystery to me. There is nothing better than climbing a hill or mountain or tor and viewing nature at its best. Very humbling and deeply profound.

8.What is your favorite vacation?

I love Italy. The culture, the history, the people, the food, everything about it. I’ve been about four times now and it is such a special place. I love Rome but Tuscany, Umbria and Florence is my favourite. The art galleries alone are intoxicating. But, more than anywhere I’ve ever travelled to, New Zealand will still always be my favourite. If it is possible to have a ‘soul connection’ to a place, then New Zealand is it. Astounding, breathtaking, awe-inspiring, humbling, unforgettable. Back in the winter (their summer) of 1997/98 I spent four months travelling around the North and South Island having adventures and awakening my senses. A real odyssey and life-changing experience. They filmed Lord Of The Rings there for a reason, the place is simply magical! Ahhhh… 😀

*****

Right, very difficult to choose just ten, but here are my nominees for the Sunshine Blogger Award  (in no order) :

1. Morgen Bailey http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/

2. Lindsey J Parsons http://lindseyjparsons.wordpress.com/

3. Ryan Holmes (Griffin’s Quill) http://griffinsquill.com/

4. Ashen Venema (Course of Mirrors) http://courseofmirrors.wordpress.com/

5. Will MacMillan Jones http://willmacmillanjones.wordpress.com/

6. Mandy Ward (Welcome to Wherever) http://welcometowherever.wordpress.com/

7. Fantasy In Motion http://fantasyinmotion.wordpress.com/

8. Andy Szpuk http://andyszpuk.wordpress.com/

9.That Fantasy Blog http://thatfantasyblog.com/

10. Fabulous Realms http://ashsilverlock.com/

I would like to mention the wonderful blogs of Katrina Jack http://kateannejack.wordpress.com/ , Tricia Drammeh http://theclaimingwords.com/, A.F.E. Smith http://afesmith.com/ and Emily McKeon http://www.theabsenteeblogger.blogspot.com/ but I’m trying not to mention those which Kay already nominated. 😀 xx

file000174095712