Friday, 29 April 2016

Trip planning: Venice Break

So, we are just a little bit super excited to have a little trip to Venice this weekend. I am mostly planning on eating this:

Ice_Cream_Gelupo_Venice_Knicker_Elastic_Fantastic

As well as pasta, pizza, cornetti, seafood, fritto misto, fresh fruit, chiccetti etc...etc...etc!!!

I have already done a little research into top spots in Venice, particularly for ice cream, hot chocolate and chiccetti (quintessentially Venetian and wonderfully delicious bar snacks!). So certainly got our priorities right there. But I still need help to plan out the rest of our trip! We have four days in the city, staying in a cute Air BnB spot we found in a quiet square away from the touristy centre. The flat overlooks a small canal on one side and on the other opens up to the square, with it's own local pizzeria, bakery and bar. Dreamy! 

We're hoping for a mix of meandering, culture, culinary adventures, living like a local and relaxing like an Italian! So, if you have any top tips, no matter how big or small please do share either here or on IG and I'll add it to do list! :) 

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Birthday boy!


This weekend has been a very special someone's birthday! I don't go bragging about this fella on here all day every day, but I probably should do. So, I figured it was high time to embarrass him with his very own five minutes of blogging glory! 


He's the kindest, most thoughtful and patient person I have ever met. He brings out all the best in me, keeps me calm and on the straight and narrow!! He gives the best cuddles and kisses and oh and did I mention that he's super handsome?!?!


He laughs at my silly jokes, he's given up horror films for me, he loves everything Italy and Italian even more than I do! He pretends to enjoy going to the ballet with me, he let's me use him as a climbing frame and makes me lukewarm teas and milky coffees (yep, that's exactly how I like them!). 


He eats everything I cook, no matter how random/terrible (you know those fridge hoover dinners where you turn all the random leftover veggies into a stir fry!). He humours my seedlings in the house, he encourages my blogging and humours my incessant photo taking!


We've had a super busy weekend filled to the brim with celebrations and friends. It's been brilliant! But tonight, after all the birthday antics, it's just him and I, curled on the sofa, reflecting on the highlights of the weekend and planning our next one. This might seem like the most low key part of the weekend, the down time. But these are just as great in so many small ways as the big eventful hours. In fact, I think that these are some of the best bits of life, the daily routines, the quiet reflections, digesting the day and planning our future. And most importantly  I love sharing them all with you Ben! xxxxxx


Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Pineapple art


What is it about pineapples?!! They look like nothing else on earth. For a fruit, they have such great architecture - that funky hair! And the diamond skin? Genius!! What's more, they are eternally associated with hot tropical climates, holidays, good times, parties and cocktails. It's no wonder I love them!

I've been experimenting with pineapples in different paints and mediums recently and wanted to share some of my results..


I've taken some liberties with colour and form. But this one is fairly graphic and in my signature ink and watercolour. I'd love to be a little free-er in my drawings and watercolours - to employ a little more artistic license! But it seems I am always drawn back to clean lines, precision and cleanliness! Drawing from small photos or out of focus images is my worst nightmare - you have to make stuff up!! I think my training as a kiddo and beyond has been so much about drawing exactly what you SEE, regardless of how strange or unexpected it is, that I now really struggle to let go of this and experiment with shapes and lines to create an illusion of reality. So maybe I just need to embrace this as 'my style' and get on with it!!! It certainly seems to be going that way!

This is a work in progress once the ink outlines were complete:


If stage one like this goes well then it's such a mental battle to continue with the plan...what if I screw it all up when adding colour?! (Urgh, self doubt!) I'm far too impatient to start over again from scratch, I get bored far too easily! I wish I had the time and patience for practice sketches, planning and dry-runs. Nope, straight into the final piece for me! Hence it's always a gamble and if it doesn't go well, I get frustrated. Why is that a suprise?! 

But this, enough soul searching! Luckily this time I pushed through to a finished piece and am super chuffed with the results! 



Thursday, 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

It's that time of the year again!! We've passed the shortest day of the year, the pile of presents under the tree is growing, the larders are fit to bursting and families are journeying across the country (and further!) to be with their nearest and dearest. No matter what your habits, faith or creed, this is something I think we can all get behind 100% - food, family, friends and fun! 


We are breaking with years of tradition and spending Christmas with my family! They are usually dotted all over the planet, so this is a rarity. In fact, my parents actively avoid Christmas usually. They use it as an excuse to flee the country for warmer climes!! So, you could almost say we have anti-Christmas traditions. A few years back our 'faux' Christmas dinner was actually as late as Easter! Christmas pudding and gift giving in Spring, with chocolate Easter eggs on the side was confusing!!


What's even more important is this will be our first Christmas with the next generation. Young Marlow, my first little nephew arrived in this world only a few weeks ago. I simply can't wait to meet him! I'm sure he'll be completely non-pluses by the whole Christmas shebang, but the rest of us will surely be beside ourselves with excitement that he's here to share the day. 


These illustrations I did for our Christmas  gifts - one for each member of the family, including new Marlow!

So here's to wishing you a wonderful few festive days, full bellies and happiness and health to you and yours.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

10 Top Tips for Home Framing

Having spent rather a large amount of time framing and putting photos on the wall over recent months, I can safely say we've learnt a thing or two about what the process (and had a few heated debates along the way!!). Be it 'to dos' or 'not to dos', I think we finally have our process down! Although it's unique to everyone, I thought I'd round up TEN of our top tips for home framing to hopefully help you on along the way.



1. Don't be precious about your walls


Fill them with nail holes if needs be. Most will end up covered by the frames themselves anyway and any that don't will only take two ticks to hide with a dab of quick-dry polyfill, a dainty sanding and a teensy dollop of paint. :)

This is sometimes the hardest part - getting started! Once you get a few nails in the wall you'll find it hard to stop! Or so I'm hoping...



2. Frame things you LIKE and that make you HAPPY


I don't care if it's not THE latest trend or by THE latest artist, if it creates a happy harmonious home that's what really matters. You're the one that will be spending the most time looking at them, so if they offend your eyes, keep them locked up in the dark!

A real mixture of mediums is idea - anything from photos, artwork, prints, ticket stubs, doodles or sketches and the family's finger paintings. Whatever it that reminds you of the good things in life, get 'em up!


3. Frames first


If you have a fortune to spend on custom frames, then ace, go for it! If like most of us you're not made of money, then buy the frames first and then fill them! Even better, keep a little list of things you want to frame WITH THEIR DIMENSIONS alongside in you Filofax/smart phone/paper diary (I may be the only person left in the universe that has one of those still!). That way you can check before you buy.

Every single frames image in this post has been thrifted or inherited and we've had to learn to work our magic from there!




4. Mix and match


I am a big fan of mix and match. Be it a mix of colours, shapes, styles or sizes. What's more, I love frames with character. Ben keep berating me for picking out the most battered chipped frames I can find. In addition to what you're framing, the actual frames themselves bring a whole lotta fun to the party too! If they've been around the block a few times, they have their own story to tell too...

On the flip side, if you like a bit more consistency or a smarter look, then a simple splash of spray paint is a fabulous fix for a themed look. A variety of frame sizes and shapes look fabulous all black or white. You can see more on spray painting frames here.



5. Mount


If there is anything that will make you family snapshots looks like premium pro prints or you dabbles in watercolour look like masterpieces it's a good wide mount or mat. They can cost as little as a few pounds and yet make your work look a million dollars! You can opt for a simple wide neutral mat or a experiment with a little colour as we did here. Seriously give it a go, I promise you won't look back.  

6. Go BIG


Your walls are likely to be waaaay bigger than you think! When sitting on your sofa you don't want to have to squint to get a glimpse of your favourite Auntie's pea-sized head on the opposite wall. Go down that route and you'll be wearing thick as your thumb GLASSES in no time. Instead go for frames, art and prints that will make an impact, be big, brash and bold!




7. Get creative with your layouts


There are so many options when it comes to layouts on the walls. From a regular Instagram inspired square grid to a free form, organic, mix and match gallery style. Try a long single row all aligned at the top or a single supersize frame. Cluster frames together in small groups or pile them up on a shelf. Experiment and try all the options until you find an approach that works for you.


8. Experiment with colours


So many options when it comes to colours, in my opinion the colours in an image/photo are almost the most important thing! Pick out colours you love, or colours that bring out the theme of the room, go all black and white for a timeless classic look, stick to a few key colours for a harmonious pulled together feel or go all out for an over the top eclectic look (yup, that'll be me then!). 






9. Balance


This is important to get that intentional put together look for a room. Your art work and walls are a huge part of the room and need to work WITH the rest of the decor, NOT against it. Think about balancing scale, colours, alignment, themes, motifs etc. The way we worked photos into the shelf above our hallway hooks is a good example.

Unless of course, the theme is 'More is More'. In which case, just go for well...more.



10. Have FUN! 


With this cheap as chips approach to framing the most important things is TO GET THEM UP ON THE WALL! Sounds crazy, but all to easy to sit with a pile of frames on the floor waiting for the PERFECT image, the perfect FRAME, the perfect SPOT etc etc etc. instead, just go with what you've got and once you end up with something better, switch it up then. Easier to modify what you've got than start from scratch!! 


And finally a sneaky bonus point - I was on fire and couldn't let you miss out on this gem! ;)


11. Think outside the box


Anything that you can safely mount can go on the walls, it doesn't need to be square and flat! You can add mirrors, empty frames, ceramics, decorative plates, wall hangings, textiles, carpets, tapestries. Basically ANYTHING goes on them walls!!

So, what you waiting for. Go fill those walls...

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Creative habit update

I have been loving my new creative typography habit! It's has been ever so slightly thrown off track by building work in our house - all my craft gear had to be burried away under dust sheets for a couple of weeks while we had a wall pulled down! But, thankfully that's all done and dusted now, so my pens and paper are back out and in constant use...


A little confession - this new habit had not literally translated into writing EVERY single day. I have to be honest - I have occasionally been a little sneaky and front-loaded a batch at a time - e.g. when we're sat on the sofa watching a winter tv marathon! But, do you know what, that is A-OK in my book! Also, I've not necessarily been sharing the results daily on insta (@knickerelasticfantastic). Maybe I should have set out with slightly less lofty ambitions - like an every-now-and-then creative habit!! Haha. But you've got to aim for the stars, right?! 


So far, these are my three most notable observations about the process so far:


1. Experimentation 


After a few days of using he same font or the same medium things start to get mundane so experimentation become natural and super exciting! I quickly moved on from my trusty sharpie on to watercolours. And I am currently experimenting with a brand new set of brush pens ('fanks Izzy!), which is a whole new skill set it seems! These aren't quite ready to see the light of day yet just yet, but hopefully you'll get to see some soon!! 


2. Sharing


Now I have committed to sharing, either here or on Insta, I continue to feel an obligation to do the same. It may be completely in my mind, but that's works just fine too!! And while it's not daily, it's frequently enough that I can already see small improvements since day one and hopefully I'll continue to progress further... 


3. Collecting


I already have amassed a large bundle of quotes all written out on plain A4 paper, it's amazing how quickly you build up a collection when you're doing one or two a day. So I've now started planning what I'm going to do with them when I get to the end of this process (seems very distant right now mind!!). Ideas people have already suggested include binding them into a booklet or I may even frame one or two of my absolute favourites once I'm done! 


4. Inspiration


This one was a little unexpected, I have to admit. But since I've started this project I have actually spent more time with my paints and pens out doing other little sketches and practices than I previously had done all year long. So it really has had a snowball effect on all my creative habits! Something I couldn't be more excited about and am super determined to keep up. Woop!



5. Fun!


Last but not least, this is so much fun!! Doing something daily totally takes the pressure off. I'm not precious about these in the slightest. I see them as little exercises and practices. They've not taken me months and months (unlike this!). I'm not terrified of making a tiny small error and ruining all that hard work. I know I don't have to share absolutely every single one I do. And if today's is terrible, then there's always TOMORROW! And for that reason I can really let loose and enjoy! :)

Has anyone else started a new creative habit recently? If so, I'd be super interested to know how it's going! 

Plus, what with new year being just round the corner (waaaaaaat??!) it's the perfect time to start thinking about any new habits you want to start building into your daily life from 1st Jan!! New year's resolutions here we come! Anyone tempted?

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Shoreditch Photowalk with Xanthe


When you're wandering the streets with your pals do you have to keep stopping yourself from dashing across the road to snap the perfect photo you just spotted??
Do you let perfect photo opportunities pass you by everyday because you're mid the wrong side of the road or too busy dashing for the train?
Do you lie in bed at night and see all those untaken photos flip through your mind as you drift off to sleep?!

If you've experienced any of the above (and I really hope some of you have and it's not JUST me!) then you need to join one of Xanthe's fab colour photo walks!! (Check out her inspirational instagram account here).


Nobody bats an eye lid of you suddenly crouch down in the middle of the road with your iPhone to snap a shot. Everyone gathers around to take a peek when you point out an obscure squiggle of street art. When you excitedly claim, 'look at this shot' - you get hearty exclamations of approval, rather than mumbled 'yes, yes my dear' responses. You're not being dragged along the street to try and get somewhere before the shops shut or having to run to catch up with everyone else after pausing for a snap. You don't have to worry about the cars - everyone's looking out for your back as you step into the street to get the perfect wide angle and haul you back to the safety of the pavement! 


I could go on (and on!). Suffice to say, if you love to explore, gossip, make new friends and experiment with your phone or camera then a Photowalk is definitely for you!! Check out Xanthe's blog and insta for more details, I'm sure she'll be offering more very soon and I'll be the first to sign up! :) 



The top highlights of the morning for me were:

1. Slowing down



Marching around the streets of London is what I've done for the last 12 years or so. It's actually incredibly difficult to purposefully slow down!! But the rewards when you do so and vast. The streets we walked down were filled with so many layers and layers of graffiti and collage that even a full day would have not given you time to really take in each little piece of artwork. But we certainly packed in more of Shoreditch than I have seen before! 

2. Morning light



It's rare that I'm up and out of the house before late morning at the weekend!! So setting the alarm early was a rude awakening, but totally worth it for that bright crisp morning light before the clouds gathered. I really hate the darkness of winter, and I think it's a photographer's worst nightmare. But this Sat I barely noticed it at all! Sounds like my solution is to set that alarm an hour earlier each Saturday...we'll see how long this one lasts!!

3. Colour is allowed



Xanthe's instructions were dress in colour, wear pretty shoes and clear all you camera memory space. Anyone who knows me will be all TOO aware of which out of hose came naturally to me and which was a tough challenge!!! That morning my hardest decision was deciding which colours to veto from my outfit. After a week of office dressing in always primed to bust out all the colours of the rainbow at the weekend!! And my second hardest decision was which photos to delete. Worst. Job. In. The. World. Luckily I culled just enough to let me snap away with ease all morning. Thank goodness!

4. Making new friends



Making new friends is always fun, but finding the opportunities for it can sometimes be tricky! So when you rock up and everyone is new, everyone is on their tod and are all looking for new experiences to push them, it's a melting pot for a fun and varied few hours. 



5. New angles



It's super easy to get stuck in a rut. The safety of a familiar shot that we know and love and can repeat ad nausium is difficult to shrug off, especially if it's worked well for us in the past (or got lots of 'likes'!). But watching and learning from others, sharing successes or failures and learning from them is super valuable. Even more interesting is seeing the trickle of images on insta over the following few days and seeing what people have picked out to share from the hundreds of images we took!! 



So a truly inspirational morning and something I am super keen to try again. Have you ever done something like this? You could join an organised event, or drag a few friends out for a walk with benefits, or simply grab your camera when you have a spare hour and go explore your neighbourhood!