27 August 2016

Appreciating your town

Glenrothes is one of those places that doesn’t have a great reputation for beauty (in fact, it won the 2009 Carbuncle Award!). But I like to find the hidden beauty and appreciate the interesting things in my surroundings, so I’ve done lots of projects related to my home town – I’ve written a local history booklet, drawn a postcard design, designed some retro postcards, done drawings in my Moleskine, taken lots and lots of photos of architecture, nature, and town art, and I have ideas for lots more projects!

So how can you gain an appreciation of your own town, especially if it’s not that special? Here are some hints and tips!


Do... some drawings




Go... on a nature walk









Exhibit... at a local craft fair (bonus points if you sell items inspired by your town!)


Support... local independent shops


Visit... charity shops or car boot sales


Write... about your town (this could be fiction or non-fiction)



Look... for cool murals or graffiti


Find out... about your town’s history by visiting libraries




Get involved... with local projects or campaigns or protests


Create... some guerrilla art



Improve... your surroundings (even if it's just your own garden)




Go... geocaching



Play... Pokemon Go



Get on... your bike


For more ideas, see my post on how to be a tourist in your own town
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24 August 2016

Celebrate your home town with a vignette

I love creating little displays and vignettes around my house, and when I decorated my craft room I added these shadow boxes with just that in mind. I like to change the displays every so often, and recently I have been doing a few projects based on my home town of Glenrothes, so I based this display around that.

I used various items in the display, including a scrapbook I made from postcards of the town, and a couple of vintage booklets about the town. I also used a plastic dinosaur and some decorative mushrooms, to represent the town art, and a couple of dishes and pieces of jewellery that remind me of certain pieces of town art and architecture.





21 August 2016

Sunday self-portaits: Russian doll


For these photos I piled on lots of pattern, colour, and as much jewellery as I could!




15 August 2016

10 ways to be a tourist in your own town


A few years ago I saw there was a photography exhibition called “A Holiday in Glenrothes”. I didn’t even go to the exhibition, but the phrase stayed in my head. So how do you holiday or be a tourist in your own town?

It’s more than just having a staycation because it’s about appreciating what’s right on your own doorstep, rather than having day trips here and there. And the great news is that most of these activities cost very little or nothing at all!

Start by giving your house a good clean and getting all the other chores out of the way – you don’t want to be distracted! Stock up on some of your favourite foods so you won’t have to go food shopping. It’s also worth combining your “holiday” with a digital detox to help you relax, so get all your digital chores, like replying to emails, done too!

1. Find out what’s on
Have a look at The List and other online directories of what’s on, and look at posters and leaflets in your local libraries, museums, etc. You’ll probably find that there’s more than you realised going on in your local area, especially in the summer - exhibitions, shows, tourist attractions, open gardens, open studios, craft workshops, car boot sales, craft fairs, sporting events etc. Be prepared to try some activities that you haven’t tried before, or things that you are not sure about – you’ll probably have much more fun than you expect!

2. Take photos
Get out and about with your camera and look at your town with the eyes of a tourist. You could photograph nature, architecture, or even graffiti! And at the end of your holiday you can create a photo album!

3. Walk or bike
Get a bit of exercise and really look around your town. Go to areas of town that you haven’t explored before. Look at the details. You could combine this with photography, sketching, foraging, or other activities.

4. Sketching
Find a spot in your town to sit and sketch. This could be in a park or garden, local tourist attraction, beauty spot, or even just in the street (or in your own garden if you aren’t confident about sketching in front of other people)!

5. Send postcards to your friends
Do something nice for your friends – send them postcards when they are not expecting them. It’s lovely to get a surprise through the post in these days when everything is done online. You could buy postcards of your own town, design your own, or just buy any postcards that you like. Sit outdoors in the sunshine (if there is any!) to write them.

6. Eat out
Try a restaurant in your own town that you have never tried before, or one that you know and love.

7. Have a picnic
If the weather permits, head out for a picnic. Make all your favourite picnic foods, and pack them up in a lovely picnic basket (or any old bag if you don’t have one), take a blanket or groundsheet, and go somewhere lovely. You can combine this with walking or biking, and sketching.

8. Have an at-home spa day
If the weather is poor, and you don’t fancy heading out anywhere, try having your own spa day at home. Stock up in advance on a few essential oils that you love. Look online for recipes for face masks, scrubs, massage oils, etc. Eat some healthy but delicious foods. Relax in a long bath. Look online for some tutorials on yoga or tai chi. Try some relaxation apps or just put on some relaxing music.

9. Reading
Stock up on some good books (or ebooks). These could be your favourite novels or short stories, or non-fiction, whatever you prefer. Try including some local guidebooks – you’ll probably learn some interesting local facts from them and they’ll give you ideas of some places to visit. Read your books while sitting in a local garden or park, or try sitting somewhere at home that you don’t usually sit to read.

10. Sleep somewhere different
Whether it’s pitching a tent in the garden, sleeping in the spare room, making up the sofa bed in the living room, or rearranging your bedroom, it can be fun and refreshing to sleep in a different place!

08 August 2016

Creating an illustrated map of your town


Creating an illustrated map of your town is a fun way to celebrate where you live and what’s important to you about it. It really makes you look at your surroundings and think about what landmarks there are in your town, what places you find interesting, and what’s beautiful or notable about the town.

You can make a really realistic map, that helps people to find their way about, but I think it’s more fun to go for a more stylized map that gives an impression of the place, with a rough layout of the town and lots of illustrations of things that can be seen in the town.

I’ve only done a couple of illustrated maps so far, but I’ve found them a lot of fun. The first one was of my routes to work, and I drew that 10 years ago. The one I did recently was of the area around my primary school, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
Creating a map of your town at a particular point in time is also a great way of seeing how it changes over the years. In the 10 years since I drew my routes to work, the local area office has closed, the weird green caravan is no longer there, the health centre has moved, the old folk’s home is being rebuilt, the car boot sale place has shops built on it, the library may be closing, and there are some new houses being built next to the flats! So the map has a real sense of nostalgia now.

I started each of the maps by thinking about what area of town I wanted to draw, and looking at a map of that area to get a rough layout. Once I had an idea of where all the roads should be, I worked out what landmarks I wanted to include. Many of these are personal landmarks rather than things you’d usually find on a map, so I really had to walk through the map in my head to think of all the things of interest to me. I played around with the scale of these so that I could make the important ones larger, and also to give balance to the map as a whole.

And if there's a big space left in the map, it's a perfect place to put the title of the map!
I drew my maps in pencil then went over the pencil drawing with pen, but creating a digital illustration would be an easier way of doing it in some ways – you could move items around or resize or recolour them as necessary. I went digital to add colour to mine.

Here are some great resources on how to create illustrated maps:

04 August 2016

Kiko lipsticks, and a little lipstick tip

I just love matte lipsticks, and I love lipsticks in bright colours, so when I visited Kiko in Glasgow for the first time I fell in love with their Velvet Passion Matte lipsticks. I only bought one on the day, but I ended up ordering three more online!
The colours I got were 306 (Fuchsia), 305 (Hibiscus), 308 (Papaya) and 314 (Plum).
They aren't the cheapest lipsticks in the shop, but I really love the matte finish, gorgeous colours, and the very satisfying magnetic closure!
The only problem I found with them is that there's nothing on the outside to indicate the colour (apart from the tiny writing on the bottom) and that's where my little tip comes in - nail varnish! Assuming that you have a nail varnish collection that's just as extensive as your lipstick collection, just add a little dab of the nearest colour of nail varnish to the lipstick label!
The only problem now is deciding which to wear! Well, that and trying to stop myself buying more!

Yes, I am actually wearing 3 colours at once here!