April 27, 2017
Long hours and seemingly endless work pressure and the last three weeks have been a blur of stress and anxiety, the anxiety never really kicking in until the stress starts to drop for a couple of hours at which point it sneaks in though a cranial back door to slap me round the metaphorical face for daring to relax. I’m fine I’m fine I’m fine I’m fine I’M NOT FUCKING FINE. (I am fine, all is under control).
I always get trigger happy with the impulse buying at such times. With no time allowance for relaxation (wake up, work, sleep, repeat) and little opportunity to leave the house I spend the few minutes down time I have each day browsing tat on the internet. It’s a self destructive habit and I know it at the time but I do it anyway. Last week I bought Warhammer Quest: Shadows over Hammerhal (looks lovely, can’t afford it, don’t have time to play it), most of the albums of Grace Petrie (beautiful and makes my cry a lot) and a Crenova Trail Cam the trail cam caused great excitement for the family and although I do regret throwing money we don’t really have at tech we don’t need it’s already proved a great addition to our tat mountain. First night we used it in the garden we got some footage of a hedgehog we were not aware we shared a space with snuffling round the garden.
Since then we have managed to capture:
I’m enjoying trying different places to put it round the garden for best results. So far I’ve learned to not put it too low down as otherwise it gets coated in dew which doesn’t damage it (as far as I know) but does make for blurry photos, also having it too near the ground causes wind in our expertly unmown lawn to set of the motion detector.
Here’s our tiny visitor, which my child has kindly named ‘Hedgehog’.
March 11, 2017
The woods breathe. Imperceptible, exhale mist, expel dew, form sparkling crystals on the mossy floor. Cracked and jagged limbs dance still to winter’s brittle rhythm. Half imagined faces in the peeling wooden skin, joyful at the glittering of frost. Listless darkness pierced by shafts of low sun, these alone hold up the sky. A movement out of sight, blur of legs and eyes. Timid deer tread soft and invisible while squirrels thunder unconcerned. Hard ground, cold like a threat, a vessel for future life but for now restrain growth. Everything slows to stasis. Sharp edged shattered stumps, broken bones and crooked teeth. Tea stained lace bracken muddied underfoot. Give in for the year, retreat until spring’s reconciliation. Masts without sails envy still clothed firs, waiting for the new wardrobe of summer. Filigreed leaves now morbid decoration. Branches against the sky form intricate chaotic geometry. Hold tight, move forward with conviction, change will come and we will advance into warmth.
February 26, 2017
Following on with the experiments with the field recording I’ve also been getting back into writing music. This is the first piece I’ve done in a couple of years, its’ 16 minutes of ambient/industrial/drone/field recording. So basically birdsong, industrial noises and general ambience.
The field recordings were all done in Ruscombe.
It’s had some quite nice feedback so far so will be doing some more soon.
February 24, 2017
HELLO. Here’s a piece I’ve had marked as ‘work in progress’ for about two months. It’s not going to progress so here it is. I was worried it was a bit too ‘cheap gothic horror book cover’ but I like the symmetry. It was the rough which gave me the ideas I’m working on now and which have caused me to spend too much time dragging myself round cold moors looking for crows and magpies.
February 1, 2017
BOOKMARKS. I have bookmarks.
So I was getting some merch made up, mostly postcards and stickers to give away and I wanted to do something else as well. It was going to be badges but NO, BADGES CAN SHUT UP (for now), also there may be a bit of self interest as I am reading far too many books at the same time and keep having to use old envelopes and receipts as bookmarks, which frankly doesn’t work properly.
THESE are properly engineered, stress tested, measured to within 0.002 of a millimeter* and they smell nice**
I have failed to include a photo of a book for scale because I am terribly unprofessional (and it’s late), but I assure you, they are a great size for books, as they are actually bookmarks.
Picture of a flamingo shouting at a penguin on one side and a silhouette composition of starlings taking off on the other. I’m REALLY happy with how the starlings came out, it’s the first time I’ve seen one of my silhouette designs printed and it came out far better than expected.
Anyway, I’ll be giving them away with any orders from the Etsy store and as gifts with other things I will be working on shortly.
I am considering selling them as well. What do you think? Do people actually buy bookmarks? Would they have to be in packs of 5 or similar? Should I do more designs to do a nice pick and mix set?
* these are lies
** this is not a lie but it is subjective
January 21, 2017
So today I went out to try out the new Zoom H6 and do a little field recording (in an actual field). I’ve got some audio I want to capture for an animation project I’m working on and had some specific sounds I wanted to try and get.
I’m generally aware of how close to flight paths I am but christ I didn’t choose the best place today. Knowl Hill is lovely, great scenery and generally quiet but it’s got the Heathrow flight path far too close and it’s dead in the path of the local airfield from which came a constant swarm of helicopters and biplane. Regular joggers and cyclists didn’t help much, trying to get a recording of some Red Kites and ended up with both Red Kites and the sound of a cyclist loudly clearing his throat as well. Slightly spooked a gang of power hikers while I was setting up at the side of a path, clearly the sight of a hairy man with a briefcase full of cables is a little offputting.
The H6 itself is bloody amazing. I tried out the XY mic which gave a wonderfully clean directional recording, I got some good clips of crunching ice, squeaky gates and footsteps through leaves, although I need to practice a bit more to get the levels right. Going to attempt to go deeper into the Chilterns (and check the map for airfields) in a couple of weeks.
Field recording face:
The lovely device with it’s furry hat:
December 10, 2016
Dreams of light bugs. Exploding into life, blur of electric blue. Fading quickly, haze of dissipating sparks.
Light painting with Alexander (and a bit of photoshop).
November 30, 2016
I’m honoured to have had a short piece of fiction featured in the first edition of Miss Mouse and Friend’s magazine by Eternal Magpie. You’ll need to support Claire on Patreon to read it but it’s worth it (for the rest of the content not just my nonsense). As Eternal Magpie Claire creates beautiful hand made dolls of woodland creatures and chronicles their adventures. The dolls are amazing and the adventures witty and entertaining.
Claire has always been very supportive of my cack-handed creative attempts and is an inspiration as someone who gets out there and actually does stuff.
It’s the first time I’ve set out to actually write something, I’m happy with the result and want to do more in future.
September 10, 2016
As part of the anxiety counseling I received earlier this year I was given the gentle target of completing a creative project. The logic being sound in that two of the aspects of existence I struggle with are my lack of control over my life and my frustration at not being able to complete the creative targets I set myself. I agreed with my counselor that I would break a couple of creative projects into easy to achieve steps and try to complete just a single step on a single project each week.
At first it worked great. I managed to get the first couple of tasks on a couple of projects done and felt really positive about finally making some progress on projects I’d abandoned as hopeless. But then my self destructive procrastinator kicked in. The first tasks on the projects I’d chosen had been effectively admin: choose a location, order some materials, list out the intents, etc. As soon as the admin (easy) tasks were done, the bits I couldn’t “fail” at I just started creating new projects to work on instead. By the end of the counseling I’d accrued quite a list of projects and made no real progress on any of them. For the record I don’t put this down to the counseling it’s something I’ve always done, I caught myself doing it this afternoon, buying fishing wire and ball bearings on Amazon for a completely spurious project instead of trying to make some real progress on anything I had already started.
This doesn’t help with the anxiety, it makes it worse. A repeated mantra of the evil liar that is my depression is that of “you’ll never achieve anything, you’ll never finish anything” and sometimes even my objective self believes this. The house, my hard drive, my head are all full of bits and pieces of creative projects, ten percent, maybe twenty percent finished but no further. I fear what will happen if I finish one, but I think more than that I fear that I will never finish one.
Today I acquired a totem of impending creative failure. A while back I came up with an idea for a series of photos which required a small selection of props, I did the initial admin by working out what the props were, considered a couple of locations then procrastinated violently. The props are easy to come by and available in most hardware stores for a couple of pounds, but rather than just walk to the hardware shop and buy them I decided to ask on Facebook if anyone I knew had them to hand and could I buy them off them. I had a logic which I won’t go into here. Of course lots of people offered to help and a couple of friends had what I needed so I agreed to pick them up off them next time I saw them, considered the next step of the project done and dropped it. I never found the time to visit the friends and so never progressed. Today in a moment of hope I walked into a hardware store and bought most of the bits I need. Two of them being plastic light fittings (they cost about 70p each). I am considering them a totem, a warning. If they are still sitting untouched, unmodified and unphotographed on my workbench by the end of the year it’s a signal that I’m not sorting myself out and I really need to do something about it.
I will face my new nemesis and destroy it, or at least modify it and take some photos, regardless of the outcome.
(I will probably still buy fishing wire and ball bearings because hey, who the hell doesn’t need those in their life).
September 4, 2016
I’ve been kicking through the long grass, ferns and ant battalions of Burnham Beeches recently. Working in Bourne End has it’s positives but the same spaces every day begin to lose their interest and the hard walk up Hedsor Hill which on a good day is bracing becomes a chore when anxiety is tactlessly scratching at my nerves. Work became hectic and I needed an escape so I’ve started driving out to the beeches. It’s not such a trek, and I probably get more use of my time as traveling on foot I lose the first 15 minutes of any journey just getting off the industrial estate and into the countryside.
I had forgotten what a varied and beautiful environment it was and there’s so much of it I’ve never explored. In an hour’s walk I can find meadows, deep woods, beautiful swathes of foxgloves and inquisitive deer, although only the latter on days I forget my camera. My ankles have seen more insect bites over the last couple of months than in a long time but I’ve renewed my love of this tranquil seclusion which I live so near to but rarely visit. If I can keep my focus now that autumn is here I’ll try and spend a couple of hours with the camera and field recorder putting something a bit more involved together.
Here’s a selection of recent shots of the wildlife of Burnham Beeches. Full set is here.
I am Bob. This is my blog. It is an outlet and a substitute for real life. It contains my art, photography, illustration and thoughts on mental health (I deal with anxiety on a pretty much constant basis).
Help fund my existence. Buy my stuff (t-shirts, art prints, stock images & graphics)