I'm obsessed with these colours at the moment. And I'm also very much still learning about watercolour. I like how this musing feels like a map of my state of mind. I generally let the paints flow but tried to also experiment with putting water on the paper first and dotting colour here and there to see how it progressed. Very good for the soul.
This week, here in the UK, 6 Music have been celebrating New York with a series of brilliant programmes and playlists. Until I visited last year, I hadn't been to NYC for over 20 years. In fact I could hardly say I'd been there at all as that first trip was only a fleeting 24 hours in which all we really did was rush up to the top of the Empire State Building and rather than feeling in awe of the city, we simply felt giddy about being so far away from home unsupervised. But then I found myself booked to go back to help to organise an event.
The first trip over was a 48 hour whirlwind recce. We landed late on the Monday night and at 5am on Tuesday morning I lay wide awake in my hotel room one block away from Central Park. What else to do but get up and walk? I decided I would head to Radio City Hall and zig-zagged across the blocks, round the side of the park and straight down Broadway. I stood and stared up at the vertical signs feeling excited and disorientated with commuters around me, my wide eyes giving me away as a jet-lagged tourist. On the way back to the hotel, I stopped for coffee and a bagel and then took a detour past Carnegie Hall, which I've wanted to see since listening to Ryan Adams' beautiful album of the night he played there. The city had me hooked.
We returned a few weeks after the recce to deliver the event and threw ourselves wholeheartedly into the city. I found myself feeling completely intoxicated by its creativity, energy and movement. It's clearer than London with wider streets. You can see it more easily, have more perspective. There's noise and madness but I also found so many quiet, creative corners.
When I first went to New York, all those years ago, to see the Empire State building and nothing else, I was on my way to spend a summer working in the Rocky Mountains. I met an American guy who made me a mix-tape. It included New York State Of Mind by Billy Joel and one lyric resonated more than the rest, "Been high in the Rockies, under the evergreens." On this trip to NYC, a group of us went to a brilliant piano bar in Greenwich Village one night. At 2am after one too many glasses of red, I paid twenty bucks for the pianist to play the song. The waitress stepped out from behind the bar. leant casually against the piano and belted out the words like a Broadway star. One lyric resonated more than the rest, "I don't have any reasons, I left them all behind... I'm in a New York state of mind." It's a moment I'll remember all my life. What a town.
You know that feeling when you discover a new show and know you're going to get lost for a whole day because you can't stop watching it... Well, this is that show. It's set in New York in the 1950s and tells the story of a rich upper West Sider who finds her life falling apart when her husband leaves her. The main character Midge is confident and contradictory. She has to find something else that she's good at now she's no longer a wife. And naturally, accidentally, she falls into stand up comedy.
The storyline feels so new and fresh. The production values are high, the sets amazing, the costumes gorgeous, the story multi-layered. A real treat.
The Kindred Studios creative community opened their doors today and I popped along to have a nose around. I was so absorbed that I totally forgot to take any photos of the artists' studios but you can find out all about them on their Instagram. The studios are in a huge converted Victorian school with high ceilings and white painted rooms that are flooded with light. I've never seen anywhere quite like it. I chatted to several of the artists who all talked about loving being part of a creative community and sharing their ideas. It felt like it should be a model that is followed in every town, a place that values and celebrates the creative industries and gives people a proper space to pursue their passions. Wonderful.
This week I took myself away for a short but sweet writing retreat. I'm working on the second draft of a novel for 8 - 12 year olds and after having the first draft professionally critiqued last year I've been struggling to find time to dedicate to writing. Four days in wonderful Copenhagen helped me to focus. It's such a beautiful city and it was great to feel like an international student writing in cafes and restaurants. I really recommend the following lovely places to write...
I really like the cuteness and simplicity of this video. Beautiful light and beautifully shot.
A day of touring Harry Potter world with the little ones left me feeling so inspired to keep creating. Over 4,000 people were involved in making the film series, collaborating to create something quite phenomenal. Such passion, creative energy and attention to detail triggered by a single idea that JK Rowling had on a train journey. Amazing.
Easing into the New Year with a little brush lettering. It's such a calming and meditative way to give me time to stop and think about what I'd like to achieve creatively in 2018. I did a course with Quill London which was a lovely relaxing way to learn. If you're London based, I highly recommend them.
"Come in." Two short words heavy with meaning. Step out of the big, bad wet world and into my home. You'll be safe here, toasty and well fed. "Come in." They are two of the loveliest words to say and to hear.
I settled down with some echinacea and elderberry tea and homemade ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg biscuits to start reading this beautiful book. Nigel Slater is the most lyrical writer. His words are the literary equivalent of curling up in an armchair with a blanket over your knees by an open fire. I received this book as a gift from a lovely friend. It's the perfect treat for start the Christmas season.