Monthly Archives: October 2010

A month behind schedule

The New York skyline

Look at that massive beast.  For the past two weeks I have been trying to get to grips with Illlustrator, Photoshop and how to print big, big, big.  I spent Wednesday afternoon using the big screens and big printing frames at Edinburgh Printmakers Studio turning that nice linear artwork into a screen print.  On fabric.  Although they will not allow me to print on fabric in their facilities, they are at least letting me print this project.  I have decided that all isn’t lost, as I will be able to use their studio to print the small post card size works on paper.  So, even though I will be printing this work for the big project at home, it is good to know that my year’s membership isn’t going to be wasted.

As you an see from the title, I am a month behind schedule.  I’ve had to take a minute out of work to consider what is happening with my time.  I am very good with my time, clocking in working hours from 9 to 6, Monday through Friday.  There is a lot of running around that happens during those hours….most things work related.  Whether it’s dashing out to buy more fabric, taking a trip to the local hardware store, or meeting with another ‘work from home’ person to discuss our projects and how they are progressin (or not) I just find that I am not getting enough done.

And this time, I don’t think it has to do with Time Bandits.

What it comes down to is money, money, money.  Everything seems to boil down to that very basic thing.  My Gee How Quaint sales are rolling in nicely, I keep receiving commissions for small projects and just yesterday I agreed to another collaboration.  I am also trying like mad to keep the shops that sell my work pleased with deliveries of artwork.  They are selling at rather a healthy rate which is really very brilliant. I need to earn my living.  Unfortunately, it’s getting to a point where earning my living and completing the work for this project are at odds with eachother.

Then of course there is the very boring but very pressing matter of all matters domestic.  Due to my husband’s extremely long work days, most things house-wise are left for me to deal with.  Buying food, making dinner, cleaning, hoovering, 2 dog walks a day, everything. On my shoulders.  To somehow just get on with whilst running an online business, creating artwork, and working on this project.  It makes me very tired just looking at this list.

Eventually, something is going to give.  Either that or I am going to burn out and become useless for a few weeks.

I think for the next few months, I am going to have to postpone commission work.  And then when I feel like I have a grip on this project, I will open my schedule up again to receive more requests.



Filed under struggling here, the process


'Ecstasy' by Maxfield Parrish

Yesterday as I was driving home from the mundane task of buying food, I noticed that the sky in that very minute looked like something from a Maxfield Parrish painting.  It made me think of Ecstasy.  Which made me think of other things and this is when my mind brought me back twelve years to the point in my life when this artwork meant so much to me.  Or rather, when it entered into my life and has been with me ever since.

I almost want to apologise for liking this.  It is so far outside my usual interests.  I think it comes down to the narrative or story or what it represents to me.

SO this is what I remembered.  I remembered Martha.  And I remembered me, having just arrived at her house after I had spent a week, two weeks, three days, sometimes three or more weeks in hospital.  I went frequently due to all sorts of complications caused by a previous surgery that had gone tragically wrong.  So, I would be admitted for some sort of minor or major procedure, stay a bit, and then one day they would tell me ‘Lucky you!  You get to go home tomorrow.’  And that lack of warning was a bit of a problem because my parents lived a five hour drive away and couldn’t just drop everything to retrieve me.  I would then ring up Doug and Martha and ask very kindly if I could stay with them for a few days so that my parents could make arrangements to collect me.

*A tiny side note here.  I met Doug and Martha through their son.  After said son and I broke up, Doug and Martha kept me on as an ‘adopted’ daughter.  I am one lucky lady, I tell you what, as they are incredible, wonderful people.

During this time, Martha was suffering from what was later diagnosed as Fibromyalgia.  We were a sorry pair.  For entire days we would lay in the living room, chatting, reading, watching inspiring shows on t.v.  We would discuss life and God and our illnesses.  Our talk was generally very positive.  ‘I can’t wait until I get better…all the things I’m going to do…’. Doug was so kind and wonderful and cooked for us and took care of us, between his rushing to and from work.

A short time later, when I was having a recovery spell, I found a poster of this artwork.  I bought it for myself and put it on my wall.  But then, it just didn’t seem right that I should keep it.  I knew I had to give it to Martha, as she was still going through a very difficult spell.

Since then we have kept in touch, visited eachother, shared stories of struggles and also shared with eachother the great things that have happened.  It’s been brilliant to just think about where we were and how far we’ve travelled in our separate stories.  She is up and mobile as anything, teaching and having fun.  Me.  Well, you know me.  Always on the go.

This week, I needed to be reminded of all of this.  It has been a bit, er, trying.  I had a bad day which started with be sitting in the Royal Infirmary waiting room.  Pregnant girls to the right of me, pregnant women to the left.  Infront of me was the scheduled c-section entrance.  Expectant mothers and fathers looking excited and nervous, carrying in their overnight bags.  When I finally got into my doctor and was asked the ‘do you think you might be pregnant’ question, I just burst into tear.  Of course I’m bloody not pregnant.  After years of IUI and IVF I can most certainly assure you this is not a possibility.

And then later in the week I had a MAJOR set back in the life of this art tour.  It sent me reeling, honestly.  It was a piece of information I needed to have months ago and having it delivered at this very late stage of the game, well.  I went home and swore a lot.

Plus I have a cold and haven’t slept well in over a week.

And then I saw that sky.  And then I remembered the painting.  And then I thought of Martha.

And now all of these things that have happened to me this week seem rather small.

And now I can climb mountains (2008)


Filed under a good story, Nebraska, struggling here, the process


Today I have been playing with the positioning of the various buildings I will be using in my artwork.  I have had to write small notes to myself, to double check whether or not that was the version of the building as it stood in the mid 1800s.  Obviously, the cathedral will need to be revamped.  You know…sans scaffolding and a few other features.

This is not a dog bed

It is important to note that the scale is not correct in my layout as you see it.  I just needed to see it all set out, piece by piece.  Not only am I relying on my own photographs recently taken during my trip to Devon, I am also having to rely on other artists depictions of the area.  I don’t have permission to publish these copies of etchings, so will not, in this case, show them in this photo.  I can use them as research, but that is it.  It’s important to get these things right…what is permissable and what isn’t.

At one point, as I was walking into my office to fetch a few prints, Josey decided that I had layed out for her a very nice dog bed.  When I returned, she was happily curled up on top of the cathedral, settling in to a snooze.  I had to carefully scoot her away as I didn’t want her damaging the papers.  At least with this sheet, it isn’t going to be the final sheet for the artwork.  However, I would prefer that it didn’t get messed up at this early stage of the project

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Filed under Exeter/Ivybridge, the process

A day in the life of this project

If you could see my work room right now, you may be slightly appalled.  Or offended.  Or both.  Every couple of days I just have to postpone work and tidy.  I am not a disorganized person by any means, but I do find the the volume of paperwork I generate and receive, the information I accumulate, the reference books I refer to, all jostle for the top position on the piles that seem to appear on every available work surface.  At the moment I have the following piles on my work desk:

A parcel to post to the states (full of Gee How Quaint merchandise)

A stack of loose papers full of illustrations, notes, scribbles

Books, files, notes on the different computer programmes I need to get my head around in order to make this project happen

Correspondence in the form of letters, printed emails, postcards

My sewing box

Exeter and St Leonards reference books and notes.

So, as you can guess, most days begin with trying to decide which pressing matter needs to be tended to first.  I write a list of what needs doing for the day, ensuring long term goals somehow make their appearance in my writing.

Today has been a particularly fruitful day.  I received a letter from my Grandfather’s cousin.  I first wrote to him several weeks ago, introducing myself and detailing the project.  My aunt Patty pointed me in his direction, informing me that Edward had been in correspondence with grandpa, looking up family history records and such.  When I saw the handwritten letter, complete with photos of my great grandfather and great-great grandfather, I became completely giddy with excitement.  I was also informed that Edward’s grand daughter has also been running with the research.  Which is quite amazing.  There is someone close to my age, doing similar research on my family, and I don’t think I have even met this person before.  I want to know more!  I want to find her.

Today I also received a very helpful email from Colin Harris, the author of the Stowford Paper Mills book that I have been using for research.  The email was full of much needed information regarding Richard Kingwell.  Apparently, there were two residences at the mill and he very possibly may have lived in one of them.  How wonderful to think this a possibility.  Colin’s email also addressed the reason for Richard Kingwell’s frequent moves.  It wasn’t that he was either really good at his job, or really awful, it was that he was learning the trade.  How obvious, now that I think of it.  I feel a bit silly for not even thinking of that option.

Well, anyway, until tomorrow.  I may be faffing around with computer programmes again.

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Filed under a good story, research, the process

This is the beginning of my story


Mike and Kathy


I.  Love.  This.  Photo.  Not just love it, but wonder about it.  What was my mother thinking when this look passed across her face.  I am so pleased that the camera caught it.  From the expression on my Dad’s face, I can imagine he possibly said something a bit silly.  He does that.  Often.  Says silly things.  Using his sense of humour seems to be his dafault mode.  And well, it isn’t always appreciated.  What I read, then, in this photo, is my mom’s unappreciation of my Dad’s sense of humour when someone clicked the ‘take photo’ button on the camera.

So.  This is where I bagan, is it?  A few years later, I a materialized.  And a couple years more, they severed their ties.  It’s a bit weird seeing this photo as I have never seen them stand together in my lifetime.  It’s weird because I know my parents as Bev and Mike, Kathy and Gordon.  I don’t even remember a single day when my parents were together.  Instead my childhood is filled with memories of living in McCook with Mike and Bev, then flying off to Cleveland to stay with Kathy and Gordon for the summer.

I don’t really know why things went sour between these two in the photo.  I actually really don’t feel like I need to know.  Some stories work out and others don’t and that’s just the way life is.  In any case, I am greatful that there was a spark there, for at least a few years, long enough for me to be.

So, thanks God and fate and chance and luck for bringing these two together.  I am very happy to be here.

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Filed under a good story, Nebraska

For one day, I was a destination

As seen in the Hannah Zakari article

As it’s a bit difficult to read, here is my bit of the article:

‘The shop opened at the end of July with a vintage-style tea party and workshops run by some local designers. On 9 October, Cassandra Harrison from Gee How Quaint – known for her bold and vibrant Edinburgh tenement canvases – will be making art to order. A quirky memento from your visit to the Scottish capital.’

For those of you outside of the UK, Easyjet is a budget airline that flies all over Europe and beyond.  Here are just a few of the countries you can hitch an Easyjet lift to:  Ireland, Belgium, Romania, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Czech Republic, Eqypt, Morocco, the Netherlands, etc, etc, etc.  I’m just fascinated that my name has travelled so far.  And hopefully those travellers in Easyjet were bored enough with their journey that they quickly leafed through the magazine nestled in the seat pocket infront of them.

So.  Anyway.  I was there at Hannah Zakari, making my little creations.  Making these little tenements is what I do to earn my bread and butter.  Just thought I would share.


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Filed under a good story, Edinburgh

A Gap in the Story

The mountains of paperwork, documents and reference material I have for just the Ivybridge/Exeter part of the story is quite something.  I have had to shift my art supplies and fabrics to make more room for books, pamphlets, folders and files.  And again…this is all just for the Devon leg of the trip.

Even with all the census data, birth certificates and death certificates, there is a very noticable gap in my information.  No matter how many times I have trawled and other such sites, I cannot find the whereabouts of Maria Kingwell and Joseph Green in 1851.  This is just 5 years before they got married at the ripe old age of 27.  I have found Maria’s mother and three siblings living very near St Leonards church.  The mother is basically a pensioner, by the way.  Or more precisely, due to her late husband’s will, she is living off the sum of money he left to her.

As for Joseph, I did find him in an 1841 census as working as a labourer on a farm, but again, he seems to have disappeared off the scene during the 1851 census.  I am still wondering how these two young people even met, as he was living in Wiltshire and she was living in Devon.  She a daughter of a paper maker and he a son of a farmer.  Even this story would be worth finding out about and sharing.

But alas, I am afraid that I will not even find this information in time for this project.  I am aware that very soon, I need to make my way to Dudley and start collecting the necessary information and documents and photographs.  The other day I told a friend that I could easily research this story for another 3 years and still not find out all that there is to know.  Unfortunately, I don’t have another 3 years…and in fact, in 5 1/2 months time, I should have most of this work completed for the preview show in April 2011.

With that said, I must get back to my sketches.

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Filed under Exeter/Ivybridge