Hey There!

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London, United Kingdom
A site about my crafty, adventurous, london life. Things that I make, things that I like, things that I do. And my attempts to find my own London. All the while trying not to be too homesick for California and the Bay Area.

Friday, June 25, 2010

New Location For An Unknown Time

Hey Guys!
Sorry I have not posted much lately. I am in Oakland, California for the time being! Taking a little vacation before I start some intense work training.

But enough about that. You want to know what I've been up to since I've left Merry Old.


I have to say when I took my first BART ride into town I got a little misty eyed seeing those infamous cranes on the water. IM HOME!

Saturday: I have arrived!

Sunday: ...I have jetlagggg!!!

Monday: Im in Cali the first day of Summer. How perfect is that? Was invited to a summer solstice celebration at Ocean beach. Bonfire, adult drinks hidden in water bottles, crunch n munch. Perfect combination.

Plus this guy in the group dressed up as a fishing boat captain. Mustache, pipe, etc.
Jason and Brian joined me in the bonfire fun
Plus Brian has been puppysitting his friend's dog Tatum and I got to get dragged around the beach by her. SO beautiful, I love the ocean at night.

Tuesday & Wednesday: Uh....nothing major to report. But I'm sorry there was no interview posted on Wednesday, but I will be getting some great ones done while I'm here!

Oh Wait...hey yeah I got me a tattoo. Duh. I'll post it when it's healed.

Thursday: Received a newsletter from an awesome artist collective down the street. ROCK PAPER SCISSORS. Inviting me to a hat making party! Apparently there was an overabundant amount of hats donated to them one day and they decided to use them to get some crafty people together. I started making it there but there are still some finishing touches I need to perfect before posting pictures up here. Suffice it to say, it's pretty much the best hat I have ever made.

More to Come!

Love and Home Sweet Home

~Valiant V

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bees Love Rape

Just a quick update. It's been super busy and lots of things are happening soon. But more on that later.

Had THE best time yesterday in Highgate. Jesse and I were in recovery mode from the night before (I'll post about that separately) and a website suggested we head over to this cafe in Highgate to eat some tasties. And we did BUT we happened upon this festival that was on the way to food and it was awesome. A classic ideal English fair, faire?, and in such a quaint but modern little town. And of course there wasn't a camera between us. I always do that. The one day I go out of the house without my purse (which always has a camera) and it's a great day for taking pictures.

There was a bee keepers booth, with information and displays and local honey for sale. I saw a few different hues of honey and always wondered what the difference was, and they were very willing to explain. One of the most interesting parts of the lecture was when they told me that bees love rape...it was just the way they were explaining it combined with the fact that they didn't realize what they sounded like.

" Bees love rape. The nectar is very easy to extract, usually the bee's flying radius is about 3 miles but they will go 12 miles for rape... rape honey tastes awful though.... luckily there's no rape in London ".

Rape the plant, as in rapeseed oil. But they just kept talking about bees and rape. Very weird experience. I also went up to that booth because I am having the worst case of allergies I have ever had I think. And I heard that if you eat local honey it will make it go away or at least lessen the symptoms.

Love and the strange habits of bees,
~Valiant V

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Mid-Week Creative Speak!

And yet again this friggin thing is late. Sorry to all of you who are salivating for the next installment.
Week 3 of Artsy Fartsy Interviews!

This, is Jason.
A cyclist, a wine & beer tasting connoisseur, an awesomely talented music man.
Let's get started shall we?!?!

You are a musician yes? What are your musical influences? What drives you to make music?

To answer the third question first: really, no idea. Cause music is awesome? hard to argue with that one. But yes, I'm a musician. I'm a guitarist mostly, but musician is a better definition of what I do, what with all the singing and other instruments and songwriting and whatnot. As far as influences go, my early influences are pretty typical of teenage boys - I liked grundge and classic rock. Hard to say after that - I like a lot of experimental and indie rock, a lot of 20th century "classical" music, and a lot of modern jazz...it definitely comes out in my music, if you know what to listen for. To put it succinctly I could just say I like Bartok & Radiohead. That probably gives people some idea, and will probably make me look like the kind of guy who like whiny British music, which would be true. Soooo, yup.

Is there anything that has influenced you that you actually wish hadn't? Like majoring in classical guitar or being forced to listen to all the Beatles albums by Brian Fidler?

Ooo, good question. You know what sucks? Majoring in music (or anything disciplined really) means you learn to be critical OF EVERYTHING. ug, it's so awful. Being part of an institution like that, you get in the habit of tearing everything apart, into little analyzable bits, from famous work to your friends' work and your own. Not that I don't understand the importance, but institutionalized music doesn't focus on the emotional elements of music, the human bits very much, so you get very intellectual about everything. And snotty. I'm really trying to work back from that. I like melodies, and tension and release, and repetitive rhythms...and epic choruses! Nobody's teaching that in the programs I'm familiar with. Popular music is great like that - it's an example to me that at least in some ways the system is working, cause people under 30 don't generally get excited and go run off to listen to Beethoven, they want to see something new, something like St Vincent, Jake Shimabukuro, Animal Collective. As for the Beatles, there was a time when I hated them. I have no idea what was wrong with me, but it was pretty damn wrong.

If you have to choose to live the rest of your life as a duck or a lemur, which would you be?

Man, those are some awful choices. Well, the sex lives of ducks are particularly curious, and lemurs look constantly surprised and are sometimes known to pee on their feet to help them grip things. Or is that a bushbaby? Is a bushbaby a lemur? Given my choices, I'm going to stick with Mogwai.

Are you mostly musical or do you do anything else artistic or creative in your life? What are you working on at the moment, in any field of artsy fartsy creative stuff?

Artsy fartsy creative stuff, eh....hmmmm....mostly finishing two albums - one of my own, and one with my band,Farewell Typewriter. Both rock, but very different. Probably release them mid-late summer if all the art and mastering goes quickly. I did that super-lo-fi-song-a-day project January. I'm still uploading it, but what I have so far is available free at jasoncountryman.bandcamp.com. Other than that I'm writing new songs, learning new instruments. I guess I do little bits of drawing and photography, and a lot of things in my life could be considered to require creative thinking, but no crafts at the moment. I am picking up fire dancing again, so maybe my lack of crafty output is just that I'm feeling very kinetic as of late.

What is your creative process? I mean do you have a usual pattern to how you write a song?

HAHAHA. My process is a mess. If I'm writing a song, well....you hand me an instrument I can write a song in a matter of minutes, just melody, chords, 3-5 different sections. No problem, on whatever - ukulele, piano, guitar, banjo....even stuff I don't play, like cello. Without an instrument I can write a song on a post-it pad (used to have to do that at work if I had an idea, work it all out by intervals). Absolute no brainer for me, it just comes out. Lyrics? That's like...I just think of Terry Gilliam's cartoon foot coming down at the end of the opening sequence for Monty Python's Flying Circus...like a wall. That happens to also make a farting noise. For lyrics I have to sit down in complete isolation, in a park, in a near-empty coffee shop with earplugs. I stare at the paper and just try stuff. Or lately I find improvising in front of a video camera on my bathroom floor helps. Then I go back and see what worked, pick out the bits I like and work from there. Starting that process, setting the time aside and just letting my mind go blank, and then once I start it, getting into a flow. That's the hardest. I'm very distractable.

Once turned into said duck or lemur, then thrown in a battle rink with opposite choice, who would win?

Mogwais always win.

Especially with the whole multiplying-and-turning-into-Gremlins thing. Unless it was during the great flood of the Old Testament. Then ducks would win.

There you have it folks!
Go get some free awesome music from Jason! I especially like the tribute to Dr. Who.

Love and Lemurs

~Valiant V

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Well this is off to a great start...

2 weeks in and I already forgot to friggin post the next interview. It's been a pretty crazy week.

This week is the lovely lady Jill!

She's a Jack Jill of all trades. Especially in the art world. She creates, curates, organizes, slices and dices. You name it! Plus she's a happy homemaker with a mean sewing machine ready to handle any project that stands in her way.
She's a crafter like me but on hiatus to rekindle her artistic romance. You can go to her shop and ask to be updated if she graces us with her etsy presence again though.

Do you consider yourself an artist? If not then what would you call yourself?
I consider myself to be an artist among many other things. It's interesting how we identify ourselves and I think that I am many things, an artist, a business owner, a music/art/media junkie, a part time smoker, an animal lover, a gallery curator, a helpful person, impulsive at times and other times quite contemplative, a meditator, a lover, a friend...but one thing has always been constant and that is I love to create!

When did you realize that you were an artist? Or that you wanted to be one?
When I was little I lived with my mother's family for about 4 years. It was a full house which held not only me, my sister and parents, but 2 aunts an uncle and grandparents. During that time I marveled at my Grandmother's crocheting and gardening, my uncle's drawings and vinyl collection, my aunt's sewing and design skills and my grandfather and father's wood working. The arts and culture became an integral part of my life from that point on. One one hand art acted an easy escape, entering an imaginative and strange world on a whim...and on the other it took care of my antsy side by constantly using my hands. Later on after high school I took a break and worked in the "real world" for a while. It left me uninspired and stressed out so I went to college not knowing what I wanted to be, but that I had to be involved with art somehow.

You have multiple things that you do to earn a living, do you ever wish for a single nine to five, five day a week kind of job?
YES! But as with anything there are pros and cons. Part of why I even ended up as a small business owner with my husband is that the economy is so bad that no one is hiring in our fields. So we capitalized on our freelance work and made a business to assist artists with their own juggling acts. I love the fact that I did not settle for a job I did not want just to buy me time. It is a struggle though and my biggest challenge is making enough money to take time off. In a regular gig you usually have some vacation or sick leave. Since I have no one to tell me to take a break, let alone pay me to do so, I am somewhat of a work-a-holic because I am constantly looking ahead for more work. I am still dreaming up a life that let's me do what I love and will pay me to take breaks. I hope someday that a regular weekday job will fit in somewhere and these days I am considering going to graduate school for art therapy.

What is something that you've always wanted to do?

Travel to Europe--Germany in particular since that is my mother's heritage and all my life I have felt attracted to all things German. Travel somewhere not in North America at all would suffice. I did get to Tahiti once and that was wonderful! However, when I returned it was very apparent to me that I have been missing out on the real experience of culture. I feel like most of my cultural experience has been a bit watered down, especially living in America where we get a version of something like Chinese food. I seem to live vicariously through books, music, theatre, and education than actual experience--almost more imaginative than real at times.

How would you describe your work? Or at least your most recent things you're working on. What ARE you working on right now?

A couple beautiful pieces from Jill

I would say my work has no real voice yet because I am at one of those in between stages. I took time off after college and crafted away, making whatever I felt like--a great relief after plugging away on an art degree for nearly 8 years! The break was good and although I enjoy crafting and sewing, I have recently put down the fabric and scissors in favor of painting again. I am picking up on some recurring themes that appeared in my undergraduate portfolio but giving them new life and a more deep and honest look at what it is I am trying to say. I have two paintings in progress, one oil and the other mixed media. I am planning a series that will be shown in October at the Oakland Professional Development Center. The series is vaguely about my ancestry and memory. I am tying in American Indian and German symbolism and staging scenes where animals are the main characters and act out fragments of memories that I have from childhood. I have always been very interested in how memory works-or doesn't. Part of this series, that I am in the planning stages of, will actually incorporate my families memories. I have asked them to choose an image, family related or not, and write about a memory. Then I will see how my own memories tie into their's and make a piece of art based on it. It's exciting to be back in the studio working on something that is so far outside of an academic environment!

What do you think popular art will look like in 5 years?
Chaos. Pandemonium. The thought actually makes my head spin. I think the art world is so vast and full of emerging artists right now that whatever you can dream up there will be/already is a home for it. Old hats, new hats, brown hats, blue hats. On a fine-art-trendy-level I think the trend of craft meets fine art world is just lovely and I can see it holding strong in 5 years. I also see older processes of film, such as cyanotype or alternative darkroom techniques like scratching the negative being more in the lime light. In general I think artists are reacting to the overly digitized world we live in... so here's to handmade everything and subverting mainstream anything!

Some cross stitch pins at her craft fair booth

These interviews are going great! But I still don't have a title for this segment. Jill's significant other Phil suggested "You Gotta Date Wednesday, Baby"... Mmm it's close but not there yet.

Until next time!

Love and Lotsa Artsy Friends

~Valiant V