The Wool Company

Despite roasting in a studio yesterday along with 5 other models for an exciting shoot involving ghosts, cliffs & scaffolding(!!!) I feel like autumn is considering stopping twiddling its thumbs today and sadly, yet beautifully, hitting us with some cooler air…

To get over this shock (and also because I was, quite frankly, knackered, after non-stop shoots galore plus the horrible news that my doggie suffered heart failure while away; she is now on 3 different medications per day, poor thing (and we are grappling with the trauma – for all parties – of having to shove little tiny pieces of ‘make-you-better-I-promise’ down her little throat), and she is dealing incredibly well with her gorgeous little heart beating at several million miles an hour to cope with all that’s going on in there; seriously, I know it sounds weird, but the X-rays of her tiny little body were adorable!), I decided to take a nap this afternoon and make the most of a recent purchase: welcome The Wool Company’s mattress topper.
Wow. My entire bed is anew. Not that there was much wrong with it before; but seriously, I feel like it has new soft, floaty depths!
Gorgeous, afore-mentioned piglet certainly agrees (click to enlarge):
(yes, I have a rose on my pillowcase!)
Anyway, back (more directly) to The Wool Company. I’m delighted to be able to say that I’m their ‘face'(/body), having recently shot for the second time around the moors and beaches of Cornwall, and finding their lovely website adorned with pictures of my mug and windswept hair. It’s such a huge pleasure to shoot for them and I’m already looking forward to next season’s photoshoot. After spending a couple of nights at the family’s farmhouse I felt very much at home, and loved chatting to Harry and Sarah in the evening about music and life as much as snuggling up to the wool capes and cashmere scarves on little bridges and next to lakes. Definitely my cup of tea, that sort of thing! 🙂
I obviously had to make the most of the discount I was kindly offered and purchased a few things of my own after the shoot, one of which I’m wearing below (clue; I look particularly happy in it!). I just think it’s so nice to own things that feel so beautifully made and of the kind of quality that has you dreaming of autumn/winter nights by the fire…
Some shots and screengrabs:

 And in other news, I duck into La Galleria in Picadilly last night after a shoot in London to have a quick look at the painting ‘Access to Justice’ by Andrew Brady, which I posed for (as Justice herself!). I was pleased to get a text from Andy just beforehand telling me he’d won the ‘People’s Choice’ award! The exhibition, ‘Injustice’, was run by London Legal Support Trust in association with Arts for Justice and you can see the entries here.

Here’s ‘Access to Justice’:

About the artwork:  ‘Painted especially for this exhibition, this piece is an  allegory for the way in which the disadvantaged in society find it difficult to gain proper access to justice. Justice here is represented by the figure on the right; she is blind, which traditionally represents her impartiality.The bejewelled figure in the centre represents those with money, influence or power; able to gain the ear of Justice while at the same time obstructing the figure on the left, who, with her threadbare blouse represents the disadvantaged. Making cuts to Legal Aid is one of the greatest injustices in our country today.’

Fruit, Fog & Romantic Pleasure…

Until quite recently I’d never posed alongside a male model except for during fully-clothed commercial/wedding work. The idea of doing nudes had vaguely interested me on and off, but I was intrigued by the possibility of doing so without creating a body of work which is overly sexual or, well, porny. Having looked around for inspiration in the world of photography I found surprisingly little that inspired me – there’s a lot of modern erotica, some of which is beautifully done, but very little which is more classical, like the kind of thing you’d see in the work of certain painters or sculptors (obviously there is also plenty of explicit erotica in any medium, old or new, but I was looking for something else). I began to see it as a challenge…

I wanted to see if I could create something sensual, loving and intimate without being too erotic; depicting pure love and romantic pleasure, desire and playfulness… all while still keeping a mood of innocence. And yes, the line is so fine in part because it is so vague and perhaps dissolves completely on too much consideration.

Having been in touch for a while with Joel Hicks (who currently stars in the brilliant Harpic ad on TV, amongst many other things), we decided to see if we could find a photographer who might be interested in shooting us together. I asked ManCave, who I’d shot with twice before, if he was interested; and he was, so we made a plan. I waffled looong involved theories (about love versus lust, etc. etc.) at them both, and I couldn’t be happier with the results! ManCave planned these classical sets and arranged everything beautifully, and Joel was absolutely perfect in both looks and professionalism. His facebook page is here, and is well worth a ‘like’ in my humble opinion; he’s inspiring both within and without his modelling work, and competent male models are massively under-hired in the freelance world.

Anyway, to the images….

Quick plug: We think we worked quite well together and make quite a good combination, so just in case anyone is interested in booking us as a duo this summer, possibly in a beautiful outdoor location (Joel happens to live on a 13 acre plot in the Midlands, which incorporates a fully-equipped studio as well as the lake, ponds, stables and wood), please let me know. I’ll be available to model there alone or along with Joel, for commercial/wedding images, classical or a mix. The opportunities there mean some really amazing images could be made, and as a photographer himself, Joel is also able to mentor any beginners.

Thanks for looking!

La Source, River Adur

After an exciting full-day shoot in a studio with a Norwegian photographer and four other dance models, all posing en pointe and together in various tangles, I met up with Jeremy Howitt for our three-thousandth shoot, a quick themed piece by the River Adur in Sussex.

Jeremy had attempted a version of Ingres’ painting, ‘La Source’, once before, but wasn’t completely happy with his results (I personally quite liked his earlier version, but it just wasn’t exactly as he’d intended), so he wanted to have another go at it using me as the model.

Here’s what I’m talking about – ‘La Source’, by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres:

As seems to have been a recurring theme in some of my recent shoots (though I don’t take credit for it) the weather was drizzly and required wellies, so I took my pink polka dot ones, bought in the Scottish Highlands (a lot less cool than the red hunter wellies I was gifted by a photographer once after a shoot, but nevertheless, pretty cheerful), out for another airing, having slung them readily in the back of my car.

It might look easy and serene, but holding a fairly heavy jug of water over one’s shoulder and controlling the angle best suited to photographic purposes while not soaking oneself and turning one’s hair into wet, lank waterweeds, while standing in damp, sinking ground is not the simplest of tasks. Blood (from a mysteriously cut finger) and a lot of mud went into this image, too. I thought you should know that.

Seriously, though, I absolutely love this first image, which is shown here in wonderful sepia, a process I think should be flaunted much more, as well as in a ‘vintage’ colour toning. Feeling like we’d possibly nailed it just a bit too quickly, I insisted that we do a few variations of poses with the jug afterwards (though they aren’t quite as strong, probably), and then, on the way back to the car, Jeremy suggested we do a quick 5-min set on the little wooden bridge we’d walked over on the way there. I love the effect of the lens.

All hail the English countryside!

You can read Jeremy’s forum post on purpleport about this shoot here: http://purpleport.com/group/share-a-shoot/16936/la-source/. Hopefully we’ll be working together again soon – it’s always a pleasure and I love the fact that we always do such completely different styles and distinct themes each time.

In other news, I’m reading an absolutely amazing, though-provoking and mind-opening book at the moment, that left me wandering around London yesterday in a total dream-state of awe at all the things and people around me. No, I’m not on drugs. Will maybe talk about it in my next post…

In Vivid Paint

Just a quick update… Things have been quite wonderful here in my world with the usual balance of endings and beginnings and new stuff and new plans. Amongst other things I’ve started putting the final pieces of the puzzle together for my upcoming trip to Scotland (4th-14th May). Pllleeeeease let the weather be beautiful! I was quite amazed by how quickly this trip booked up, to be honest; it made me think I really ought to go to Scotland more often, not least because I absolutely loved my last trip to Edinburgh. That said, there has been a cancellation and I am also doing my best to squeeze in any extra shoots people might want to arrange with me. I’m going to be in Edinburgh, Fife, Dundee, Perth, the Highlands, Glasgow, then back in Edinburgh. Do get in touch if you like the idea of having me pose for you and I’ll see what I can do.

I’ve had some great shoots recently, including a commercial shoot for a jewellery company in London, some dance/movement work, and a shoot which partly involved wearing moss and twigs! I do love the variety. I’ve got lots in my ‘to blog’ folder, as always; it’s overflowing, in fact, and I still find it so exciting to be able to share the work I’m featured in.

Another fun thing that happened recently was receiving a huge print of a painting by Nurhilal Harsa from Turkey, which I rolled out on my bedroom floor and gazed at in amazement. I imagine it will make a really good feature on the wall someday, as part of my quite eclectic collection of stuff.

The painting is based on an image shot for Digital Camera Magazine (full info here – it resulted in 14 pages and a front cover). The pictures here (sent initially to show me the painting) don’t do justice to quite how vibrant and striking the colours are, in my opinion; the blues/greens in particular are very bold. If you click on the link above you can see Nurhilal Harsa’s distinctive style. She says:

‘A strong, secular, humanist art is critical for Turkey and art can help everybody challenge limitations of understanding and consciousness. Izmir is a magical city on the shores of the Aegean Sea. I throw open my windows every morning and both the sea and sky open their arms to me, welcoming the day. Every day the sea and the sky are different and also the same. They can be serene or tempestuous. They are moody, like me. My paintings are emotional and vibrant, colorful and expressive.’

I am often contacted by painters who wish to paint versions of the photographs I post online, or by those who already have.

Copyright is a funny thing. The images taken of me, by default, belong (along with associated rights) to the photographer/artist. (When I post them here, it is with permission.) I agree, on each individual occasion, to pose for a person on a particular time or location, for them to produce my likeness and use it in any (legal, non-defamatory, etc.) way they like. It is thereafter not my right to have a say in what derivative work may follow on from the exchange for which I have been compensated, or to which I have agreed. Therefore, I occasionally find (often after the event) that I have ‘remotely’ modelled for someone I have never met or made an agreement with…

I’m happy to be inspiring people – it’s quite exciting to see the results, but I hope that good ethics can be remembered by those who use my likeness in this ‘remote’ way, and that for any kind of commercial use or public display/sale, permission must be sought beforehand, from the copyright holder (I can usually put you in touch with them; it’s no problem at all!), and that my role as the subject ought to be respected too. And yes, being sent a physical print really does make things a lot sweeter, from my point of view. 🙂

…So thank you, Nurhilal Harsa, for sending me a copy of your beautiful painting, all the way from Turkey. I really do appreciate it! I also hope other artists might be inspired to send on copies of their work to the models too, where possible and appropriate; it might be appreciated far more than you realise. 🙂

Bulbs and Benches

This morning I wrote roughly a million words of my WIP. Feeling very inspired at the moment, if a little exhausted after a much needed 24-hour jaunt to a place I adore. And now I’ve just come back from a garden centre, of all places. Why is buying birthday presents for my Dad so difficult?! Anyway, I think I’d quite like my own garden one day, if only so I can buy pretty watering cans. Sadly, though, I never even remember to water anything when I attempt to have plants on my window sill. After I came back from Amsterdam, I put one of those one-euro tulip bulbs into a pot, only to discover, months later (and, I admit, having never watered it), that the bulb had completely disappeared. It wasn’t there anymore. I had been displaying, in this non-fruitful but expectant interim, a small pot of soil. I imagine it had given up on me and decided to disintegrate, thinking ‘I’ll just be soil, it’s easier’. I hope one day I’ll be the sort of person who can water a plant. In the meantime, and between some other things I’m doing today, I thought I’d post a quick miscellany of images I haven’t blogged yet, but which I love, with thanks to the photographers.

By Barrie Spence, Scotland:

By Rayment Kirby, Sussex:

By OnePixArt, Beverley Hills:

By Eddie Ray, taken at Paul’s Studio, Reading (inspired, of course, by Rossetti and Arthur Hughes):

By Davefish, taken at Eye For An Image Studio in Banbury, Oxfordshire:

By Paul Bartholomew, Oxfordshire:

2012: a Retrospective

My New Years Resolutions are going to be quite pared down this time around. I’m actually not keen to change a huge amount. I’m feeling happier than I’ve felt in a while and am gratefully aware of it. This last year has been hard in certain ways, but I’ve got through it by frequently reminding myself how much I have to be grateful for, how independent and capable I have become, and also relying on my (full of questions, full of curiosity) spirituality. I am extremely lucky in so many ways and thankful for it! On top of that, I feel like I’ve finally found my ‘tribe’ in terms of dance classes, which are very important to me (missing them terribly over the Christmas break, but I would like to officially announce that I at least went on my exercise bike ON CHRISTMAS DAY, in between fistfuls of ferero roches), have made lots of new friends in the last few months by putting myself out there and meeting up with people based on shared interests, and am feeling more confident that I will be free to finally focus on what I want to focus on, now that upset and confusion are out of the door. I also have a lot of very exciting possibilities to look forward to!

Anyway, enough of all that. I’m shamelessly copying something Ivory Flame did last year, and showcasing some of my personal favourites from my 2012 year of blogging. What an amazing year it’s been!!!

From Happy New Year, by Ron Skei, Vancouver:

From Rich Caramel Chocolate, by Cam Attree, Mexico:

From Mosquito nets, Metaphysics and Mississippi Mud Pie, by Mel Brackstone, Mexico:

From Pottery, Petals and Peach Sunset, by Cam Attree, Mexico:
From Luxury Strikes Again, by Keith Cooper, Cheltenham Film Studio
From Natural Women, by Stephen Billups, Mexico:

From Bug Off*, by Cam Attree, Mexico:

From Dance in the Studio, by TarMoo, Eye For An Image Studio, Oxfordshire:

From Trips and Leaves, by Robert Farnham, Mexico:

From A celebration, some wedding princessing and some Lions (and a monkey), by Mike Croshaw, Cheltenham Film Studio:

From The Edge of the World, by Billy Sheahan, Mexico:

From Costume Changes, by Mike Croshaw, Cheltenham Film Studio:

From Spring Flower Portraits, by Richard Tuckett:

From Technicoloured Earth, by Billy Sheahan, Mexico:

From Silk in the Dark, by Barry Barker:

From Let’s Dance, by Jeremie Nassif, Paris:

From Mean, Moody and Magnificent Muse in Montmartre at Midnight (post macaroon), by Jeremy Howitt, Paris:

From Strength in the Dark, by Eric Kellerman, Nijmegen, Holland:

From Swathes of Lavender, by Imagesse, Gloucestershire:

From Paris by Day ~ Travelogue, by Jeremy Howitt, Paris:

From Portraits, Box, Stripes and Lightning, by Eric Kellerman, Nijmegen, Holland:

From Postcards – an Exhibition, by Robbie Wraith, Oxfordshire:

From On the Plank, by Vanijzen, Amsterdam:

From Fairy Paintings, by Philip Malpass:

From Lioness Lightplay, by Neil Snape, Paris:

From Trees and Bicycles, by Jules Photography:

From Riverdance, by Britalicus, Edinburgh:

From Extreme Eiffel Tower Exploits, Etc, by Jeremy Howitt, Paris:

From White on Black, by Klaus Kampert, Dusseldorf:

From TWO ~ Ella Rose and Ivory Flame, by Karen Jones, Eye for an Image Studio, Oxfordshire:

From Yerbury Fine Art Nude Masterclass, by Max Operandi:

From Pebbles, by Jeremy Howitt, Brighton beach:

From Public Service Announcement ~ A Book! 😉 (And I’m hoping to start putting together a massive book for myself in 2013, covering various styles) Cover image by Keith Cooper, digitally magicalised by Moonmomma:

From Bedroom Glamour, by Tony Ornstien, Oxfordshire:

From Clouds and Poppies, by Rayment Kirby, Sussex:

From Colouroids, by Steven Billups, Black Forest, Germany:

From Lions, Points and Window Light, by Nige W. Hallam Mill, Stockport:

From Gypsy Dance, by Frank (Pangolin). Gregory Brown’s LoftHouse Studio, London:

From Red Jellyfish and Black Tutus, by Richard Spurdens. Hallam Mill Studio, Stockport:

From Painting with Chaos, by Terry Joslin, featuring Ivory Flame. Eye For An Image Studio, Oxfordshire:

From Sunset, Candle, Tree, by Rayment Kirby, Sussex:

From When We Had Summer, by Max Operandi:

From Hands and Roots, by Steven Billups. Black Forest, Germany:

From Peaches and Cream, by Richard Lund, Buckinghamshire:

From Purple Haze, by Keith Cooper, Cheltenham Film Studio:

From Mr Cupid, by Karen Jones, Buckinghamshire:

From Enchanted Forest, by Calandra Images. Fife, Scotland:

From Solarised, by Zoe Wiseman. Palm Springs, CA:

From Beetroot and Rocks, by Bob Freund. Joshua Tree National Park:

From Cracked Earth, Sleek Fashion and Tumbleweed, by Jeremy Howitt. Lucerne Valley:

From Ourania Ascending Mount Wilson, by Jeff Wack, featuring Anoush Anou. LA:

From A-flitting and a-fluttering, by Brian Martin. Fife, Scotland:

From Mirrors, by Neil Snape. Paris:

From Otters, Rocks and Water Lillies, by Imagesse. Pembrokeshire, Wales:

From Running in Heels, by Tony Ornstien, Oxfordshire:

From Underwater Fires, by Zoe Wiseman, featuring Meghan Claire. California:

From Grapes and Ferrets, by Vincent Rijs, Amsterdam:

From Thinkin’ About Your Body, by OnePixArt, LA:

From Guide us to Thy Perfect Light, by Karen Jones. Eye For An Image Studio, Oxfordshire:

Back to the New Years Resolutions thing, I’ve realised that, for me, black and white decision-making is liberating, though it’s definitely not something that comes easily to me. With that in mind, one new thing is that I’ve decided I will probably no longer drink any alcohol – not because I think drinking is bad (it’s not!), or because I don’t like the taste (I do; wine and cocktails especially!), or because I have a problem with alcohol (I hardly drink as it is!), but because I’ve finally acknowledged the fact that, for as long as I can remember, I’ve shown signs of alcohol intolerance. I looked it up on Christmas Eve when one drop of sherry made my face red, and apparently most of my Mum’s side of the family were tee-total for reasons unknown (hhhmm….); and I’ve since learnt that alcohol intolerance can be hereditary. Ha! Thinking back, as a teenager, there are a few things that stand out: I only started wearing make up on my face to pre-emptively cover up the extreme ‘flushing’ I’d get over my face and chest after just a couple of sips of wine, and I remember sitting with my friends and wondering whether I was wearing the wrong size underwear because my chest felt painful and tight after a few drinks. I also know that the ‘depressant’ aspect of alcohol, especially after drinking wine, is a real thing for me, where a party high is followed by feeling really down the next day. So I’ve decided not to bother drinking alcohol at all. That’s not really a ‘resolution’, though, as it’s not something I feel compelled to do for moral or health or other reasons of self-improvement (and I won’t be strict about it); it’s just a new, official validation of what I’d suspected all along. So bring on the lime soda and cranberry apples! Or something. I can still dance and have fun; I just won’t feel like my cheeks are on fire, and can drive home at the end of it. 🙂

On the other hand, I’ve also learnt that black-and-white goal-making is not so helpful for a person who is already extremely ambitious and has high expectations of herself. So sometimes ‘I will do a bit of x every day, and just so long as a bit of x gets done, I will have succeeded’ is more helpful as a goal than ‘I will do precisely y amount of x everyday, so that by z (where z = an unrealistically short term), x will be completed’. You all know I’m talking about my writing. And that I will probably still aim to do y most days. It’s just that I’ll be kinder to myself if I don’t manage it, so long as I’ve ‘shown up’ and done something. (But see ‘free to finally focus on what I want to focus on’, above.) 🙂

…Wishing everyone a happy and peaceful final few days of 2012… and a fresh, bright and hopeful start to 2013!

Paint, Feet, Magalazine Cover!

Sorry for being a bit quiet – things are a bit crazy in my personal world at the moment with a massive upheaval caused by having to very reluctantly remove myself from a situation I’ve been in for 8-and-a-bit years (my entire adult life thus far), and I think I need to clamp my head together to keep all my thoughts from spinning off in different directions. Incredibly annoying to find that I can’t harness myself into writing at the moment, having put aside time especially; seems I’m best at writing when things are peaceful, not dramatic, and otherwise I have the attention span of a self-doubting, mourning-for-something-that-seems-only-to-have-existed-in-my-head-anyway hamster. 
To ‘make up’ for this, I have been buying myself jewellery and being frivolous; spending more on one piece (vintage, rubies, pearls; rose gold being my weakness) than I ever have before. I really want to buy myself a ring next, but we shall see (and currently the ring I want does not exist). I actually rang my Mum from the shop (a little place in Oxford which makes me very happy) for reassurance, asking if I was mad to be spending so much on the very opposite of what I’d gone in for (I went in hoping to find a silver/white gold SIMPLE pendant), and she said it was fine… haha… and that at the very least, gold was an investment… (And I remember my old painter friend telling me gold was the way forward, not that I’ll be buying any big chunks any time soon!!) so obviously my little burst of jewellery buying was highly rational and clever… Jewellery has always been very meaningful and emotionally important for me, especially when either inherited, or ‘worn before’… or bought for me… or bought as a gift for myself… who am I kidding – I just love it. And I don’t really shop very often. (There I go again attempting to justify my splurge!).
Anyway, this is my personal blog, so I can write what I want, but while the urge to express upset and rantings is one I can definitely identify with, I always find it a bit of a shame when people bare their souls online/on facebook etc rather than among friends in person. So, here are some updates I should have posted a while ago, from my ‘to blog’ folder.
First, a painting by Kristian Mumford, recently shown at the Loreto Art Exhibition, 113×78 oil on linen (courtesy of John Evans, who photographed the original image in a crumbling mansion): 

By Holly at Jewelled World, yet another book cover featuring… well, my feet again. Haha. It amuses me greatly that my little tattoo seems not to have been edited out by the relevant department at the publishing house; the absolute testament to the fact that no one ever notices it. I will have to see this in real life to be sure. Well done Holly!

Finally, my mug on the cover of Digital Camera Magazine recently, shot by a competition-winning reader up in Manchester. We had a great day; there were lots of sets and beautiful images made that I really wish I could have seen finished versions of after the shoot, but trust me that there were some absolute beauties! My hair and make up was stunning, I thought, and done by Zan, who was excellent!

I’ve also been told I’m featured in a book out at the moment, ‘Practical Photoshop: Creative Projects’. Someone spotted it in WHSmith for me (thank you!), so I emailed the editor and he’s kindly sending me a copy. I’ve got some lovely shots in waiting which I’ll be excited to show soon, but bear with me if I do disappear for a little while. Thanks for reading!