Feline Focus

Feline Focus
My latest puma, July 2016


Beloved companion to Sarah, Nov 2015

Window To The Soul

Window To The Soul
Watercolour Horse, June 2015

Sleeping Beauties

Sleeping Beauties
Watercolour Lionesses, Nov 2012


"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."

"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others."

Groucho Marx

Snow Stalker

Snow Stalker
Another snow leopard - my latest watercolour offering - July 2013

29 October 2012

Colour Blind?

There is a certain irony to the fact that, as someone who tends to view things as either black or white, I happen to love colour.  But then you might find it difficult to believe if you saw the way I dress.  I have turned into a monk: that is, I wear rather a lot of brown (or, to pinch a quote from Eddie Izzard, “Brown, brown, fuckin’ brown.”)  And black.  And blue.  The three B’s.  Could be I chose them subconsciously because of the symmetry of them all beginning with the same letter. 

Or maybe it’s just because I have all the fashion sense of a seaside donkey:  I am, after all, the woman who once owned, and adored, a bright salmon-pink, velour, sweatshirt.  Perhaps I was just being rebellious?  A shame I couldn’t do it with a bit more style.  Or even a modicum of taste.  Or the excuse that I really am colour-blind, and I mistook it for an autumnal rust colour.

But no.  The fact of the matter is I’m damned if I know why I did choose them, other than that they appear to be the easiest colours to co-ordinate, so that even I, surely, can’t possibly make them clash.  Or maybe it’s because, as a child, I was instilled with the idea from my dad that brown was ‘my colour’, because of my colouring – I’m a redhead, with pale, creamy-coloured skin, masses of freckles, and dark blue eyes.  Just screams out “brown!” to you, when you put it like that, doesn’t it? 

Well I guess it does if you’ve got no imagination, no colour sense, and you just want to make it easier for yourself when it comes to buying clothing for presents at Christmas and birthdays - which basically describes my dad.  So, I’d get brown, and my sister would get black.  For some reason, only apparent to him, this was the colour that he decided suited her because she was a rosy-cheeked blonde.  Lucky her!

Also, I didn’t just get to wear brown, but live in it.  Yes, my dad’s incredible taste extended to our surroundings, too.  So we had magnolia walls, white paintwork, and carpets in various shades of brown: one of which had a startlingly loud geometric pattern that demanded to be noticed above all else in the room – which it inevitably was.  At least, I couldn’t keep my eyes off of it, and it gave me something to stare at when there was nothing remotely interesting to watch on television.  

Funny thing is it would probably be considered the height of fashion now, since brown and neutral shades all seem to be the rage.  Though I don’t think that carpet would ever be considered stylish or in vogue, not even at the time that he bought it.  Someone was probably taking the piss when they sold it to him.  Whoever designed it was probably pissed when they came up with the idea.  Or stoned, and still living in the seventies.

So, having been raised in the land of bland, I took a decided disliking to anything remotely resembling beige, white, or brown, when it came to decor.  Which is rather fortunate since my own first home happened to be fully decorated and carpeted (a real blessing, as I hadn’t got a clue how you went about doing such things): and, apart from the kitchen, which had cream walls and a brown carpet, the rest of it was a mixture of pale greens, pinks, blues, and a splash of lilac on the wallpaper in the bathroom.  I thought I’d died and gone to heaven!  I’d never seen so much colour, and with matching carpets too. 

And it made it so light and airy, another thing that had always been missing in the houses I’d lived in with my dad.  It made it almost impossible to ever feel cheerful, inhabiting such gloomy surroundings.  Not to mention the lack of light.  And the ever-increasing piles of useless crap that my dad hoarded, which seemed to take on a life of their own like some living entity, taking over the house, and encroaching on our living space so that there was hardly room to breathe, let alone move about. 

He was a true autistic, unable to resist collecting anything that he thought might come in useful, and unable to throw anything away.  And, unfortunately for us, he had the autistic’s lack of judgement and common sense, being unable to determine what constituted useful or important enough to keep.  So he kept it all, “Just in case.”  (There’s a film called ‘Mozart and the Whale’, which is based on the true story of two Aspergers trying to have a relationship with each other, and the male lives in exactly the kind of home that we had – the film’s depiction is not an exaggeration!)

By the time I moved on to my next home it was time to develop my own taste, as I now had to decorate from scratch.  And so I came up with the idea that I wanted my surroundings to resemble something Mediterranean – all yellows, burnt oranges, sea-blues and greens, and the like.  Just no white, even though it is rather a predominant colour in that region (but hey, this was my idea of Mediterranean, so it was bound to stray from authenticity, and be a bit of a confused jumble).  I’d become obsessed with the area after reading ‘A Year In Provence’ by Peter Mayle, and then developing a special interest in Italian football.  Doesn’t take much, does it? 

In the end I got my dream colour scheme – every room painted in the same colours to give a sense of flow (another thing I’d always wanted).  And I liked it so much I brought the same ideas to my third, and present, home, complemented by a beautiful copper-coloured carpet that also extends throughout the flat.  All a far cry from what I was raised in: and, for a long time, beyond the scope of my imagination, not to mention my practical capabilities, which were nil until my best friend taught me how to decorate, and develop my home-making skills.  I have a LOT to thank her for.

Like now, with the clothes.  Yes, it’s her fault that I am currently contemplating the contents of my wardrobe with a mixture of disdain and bewilderment.  Or disdainful bewilderment.  Or even bewildered disdain.  Take your pick.

How, I ask myself, have I ended up wearing such drab attire?  When did I start dressing in compliance with my dad’s idea of what suits me?  Why do I insist on wanting to follow the crowd, and conform to some unwritten dress code, especially when I don’t need to anymore?  I have to say I seem to have a thing about uniforms.  I really loved my school uniform, which was navy blue and white, my favourite combination.  I especially loved my PE kit, which probably explains why I now spend a predominant amount of time wearing my yoga gear, especially the bottoms.  It appears I still haven’t left school behind me – and I haven’t been anywhere near it for well over twenty years.  And I wonder why they say autistics have difficulty with change.

Of course I wouldn’t be making such radical changes to my wardrobe were it not for my aforementioned friend’s helpful input – not to mention her initial, inspirational, instigative comments along the lines of, “You look drab.  Your clothes are boring and uninspiring.  The colours are awful.  They don’t do anything for you at all.” 

(I must point out at this juncture that, despite how it sounds, my friend is not one of those people who go around offering their unsolicited opinion and advice willy-nilly, blundering forth like an elephant on the rampage, without stopping to consider the ramifications of what she might be about to say.  Nope, that description best suits me.  What she is is honest and straightforward, a necessity for autistics if you want us to “get” what you’re trying to tell us.  There’s no point speaking in code, or hinting at me: I’ll just completely miss the point, and possibly end up taking offence (which I still often do even with the direct approach – nothing’s fool-proof).  This is one of the reasons I like her.  I asked, she answered.  ‘Nuff said.

Which is why I am now the proud owner and wearer (not all at once, mind) of nine (of course nine – one for each day of the week, and two “just in case”) new,ethnic-style tops, in a multitude of bright (but not clashingly so) colours, all of which complement my colouring, and express more truly who I am.  Or who I’m discovering myself to be.  Yet another reason for changing the way I dress. 

I’ve been a yogi for nearly ten years now and I am, in my soul, a gentle, peaceful, sappy, alternative, free-thinking, independent, artistic individual – who still wears combat trousers and big CAT boots, has a hankering for military-style clothing, and sports gear, all left over from my days of being in conflict with myself (especially hated being female), and the rest of the world, from whom I thought I needed to learn to defend myself.  And who would rather have learned martial arts than yoga, thanks all the same.  Not for me all that peace-loving, hippyesque wussiness, and standing around pretending to be a tree.

So it’s perhaps a little long overdue that the outside of me should begin to reflect the inside.  After all, it’s not like people haven’t known for years that I’m really a bit of a sensitive soul, and not the mindlessly combative moron that I’ve ended up trying to emulate and project.  The only person not aware of it has been me.  But then I’m always the last to know.

And, as my friend pointed out when I mentioned that I really love the beautiful orange and red colours that the Dalai Lama and his Tibetan monks all wear, he probably doesn’t keep a set of combat gear in his wardrobe for times when he doesn’t feel so calm and spiritual, and wants to have “a day off”.  Which is, essentially, what I’m trying to do.  I’m dressing two different people.  Is it any wonder I don’t know who I am half the time?  I just can’t decide who I want to be.  And they say yoga is about uniting the whole person.  Guess I’ve still got a lot of work to do there, then. 

But now, at least, I can do it in style and bright colours, so I might cheer up a bit about the whole business.  No more Eeyore grey for me.  At least, not on the top half.  I’ve had to temporarily bring a halt to my wardrobe renaissance, on account of a lack of finances, and poor planning.  But fear not, the bottom will catch up one day, and then I really will be a whole person.  But for now I shall have to remain half and half – the Combat Yogi of Misterton.  

P.S.  You may have noticed that there are rather a lot of links in this piece.  Yes, I have discovered the LINK button, and have, of course, gone rather berserk.  Fear not, I'll calm down when I find something else more exciting to take its place.  But for now you'll have to put up with "The Links Effect"!

Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard
An experiment in watercolour and gouache

Quotes Quota

"Do you believe in Magic?" asked Colin.

"That I do, lad," she answered. "I never knowed it by that name, but what does th' name matter? I warrant they call it a different name i' France an' a different one i' Germany. Th' same thing as set th' seeds swellin' an' th' sun shinin' made thee well lad an' it's th' Good Thing. It isn't like us poor fools as think it matters if us is called out of our names. Th' Big Good Thing doesn't stop to worrit, bless thee. It goes on makin' worlds by th' million - worlds like us. Never thee stop believin' in th' Big Good Thing an' knowin' th' world's full of it - an call it what tha' likes. Eh! lad, lad - what's names to th' Joy Maker."

From 'The Secret Garden', by Frances Hodgson Burnett


Copied from photograph of the same name by Roberto Dutesco

Quotes Quota

"There is no way to happiness - happiness is the way."
The Dalai Lama

"If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything."

Malcolm X

On The Prowl

On The Prowl
Watercolour tiger

Quotes Quota

"What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step."

"There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind."

C S Lewis