I have been practicing with my new camera that I got for my birthday and sampling a new way of painting after watching Bob Ross. He was on during lockdown and since I think we’re soon to be locked down again I thought I better get cracking.
The Lefkás pictures are not mine by the way. (Also, I’m still reading the feminist books as I took a break for my birthday to visit friends and have my parents visit me.)
Since here in the UK the lockdown is only just starting to be eased with shops opening, social distancing being reduced and the ability to see friends and family through bubbles I thought I would show some of my art that I have made recently.
Lefkás inspired ones followed by Coronavirus inspired ones and pictures of the area.
Art is timeless therefore somebody, somewhere at some point in time will like your work. Don’t censor yourself and make whatever is inside you. The best art just like the best stories, songs, sculptures, movies or photographs contains parts of ourselves. It allows us to look back and say “yes I was feeling that way ” or “yes I was thinking that way.” It allows us breathing space and the ability to gain catharsis in our often frequently congested brains. All art is unique in that way for we are all unique.
Art should not be made into a commodity for sale or profit. It should not be designed because a particular movement is popular or sells well. It should be made because you love to do it. It’s a way of expressing your truth. It tells the world this is who I am. It is what I think and what I feel. It makes me feel alive to be a part of the world by connecting into a greater consciousness. Creativity is the path to self actualisation and becoming the best version of who we are meant to be.
Do not create art for arts sake. Art has a higher purpose which is why you achieve a higher state of consciousness by just letting it all go. When the surroundings are blocked out and there is just you and the canvas then you can create a masterpiece. Don’t overthink it as the purpose here is to let those parts of your brain that are usually inactive to awaken. When your accessing the pieces that are usually only available in sleep then you are making something spectacular.
Art and money do not go together. Do not go into art and expect to make money. If you do then you have hit a lucky fluke by meeting the right people at the right time at the right place. It looks like this happens all the time but the percentage is really quite small. If you want to make money do something else. Only go into art if you can do nothing else. The old adage of the poor artist is true.
However, we do have a ray of hope with Covid 19 changing the world beyond recognition. It maybe kinder, more empathetic and family based with more respect for the environment and less motivated by money especially greed. Here’s hoping that when this is over we live in a much nicer world that we are all proud to belong to. Let’s also hope that we look after it much better than we have been doing recently.
I recently read an article about an autistic woman writing about how she recognised so many of her traits upon diagnosis that had been gained from her undiagnosed mother. Usually this would trigger quite a reaction in me so I was quite relieved when I read it and I remained quite peaceful. It did make me think later that perhaps I may have some of her problems in that I can’t remember things as well as I used and therefore need photographs to remind me of events. She had a condition that means she can’t formulate things in her minds eye and I think I have this because mostly my mind is just blank nowadays.
Couple this with my short memory loss meaning I forget things very easily and you can see how this would create many issues for myself. The things may come back to me but if it’s something that requires coordination and sequencing then there isn’t much hope to be found there. It’s why my cooking doesn’t always turn out well and my projects get abandoned half finished.
I’ve been trying to do some crochet or macrame to entertain myself when my creative juices for my painting run out but I’m not getting past opening the craft box and reading the instructions. Even remembering the exhibit I went to in Los Angeles that was all about string craft or recalling that the South American’s used knots as a system of recording events isn’t helping me.
I have made friendship bracelets before, done some cross stitch, embroidery, sewing and even tried my hand at knitting but I don’t think this is for me. I have even looked into the special techniques they use on Lefkás and I’ve seen the magnificent lace they make in the Venice lagoon but none of this allows me to actually be any good at this. I think in this respect I am much more like Arya from Game of Thrones.
I know the feeling because today I vacuumed the house, did some more laundry, dishes and weeding. I also wrote a couple articles which will turn up in the next couple days and called a couple people since physical distancing is good but social distancing is not.
This is a style of art from the 1930s that was again a reaction to the harshness of world war 1. It took its name from a exhibition that took place in Crystal Palace show casing all of the new items for sale. Art Decoratif in French or Art Deco as it came to be known in English. Wikipedia has a very good article on this so I don’t need to go into too much detail here but it was fascinating when I went in the Design Museum in Berlin to see object from this era on display. I also love it when I come across examples in painting, architecture or tile.
I really like this as it’s angular and embodies the principles of form and function without redundancies. There is not superfluous lines there just to make it look good. It is streamlined and efficient. It is also aesthetically pleasing.
It was taking place not long after the Bauhaus movement in Germany. It also influenced many of the Greek poets that I have previously written about since they lived in Europe at the same time. I have also written about Bauhaus along with Picasso impact on Cubism.
Which art movements have spoken to you over the years?
I can’t believe I’ve never written about one of my most favourite art movements before! I absolutely love Cubism. I have been a fan of this style since I first discovered this at college. I did an Access course to higher education which grants you entrance to university after one year instead of the usual 2 if you were not able to do your a levels for some reason.
I had a good Art History teacher Lorraine Monk who was also a bit of a feminist so we studied people like Frida Kahlo which is another one of my interests and one of the reasons why I was very happy when I got to visit Mexico. Anyways this is getting away from Picasso.
Picasso invented cubism with his seminal art work Demoisselles de Avignon in 1917. He was affected greatly by the First World War as was everyone else who served in it. Being Spanish Picasso was very emotional so the world was constantly recreated in an abstract way on his canvases. When a friend of his committed suicide he entered his blue period for the next couple of years until he had recovered. It was the Spanish Civil war which caused him to paint Guernica which is another era defining painting.
I think a certain amount of anguish is necessary for art to be created as we need to tap into that resource of feelings which are usually hidden behind logic. The best music is usually created by musicians when they are currently under going some kind of trauma like Rumours by Fleetwood Mac or the Winner takes it all by ABBA.
He Thomas Heatherwick, creates architectural works of art. His buildings that are more like installation art than anything else. He likes using the symmetry of nature along with art, structure, line , form, colour, and material as you would expect from an architect. The Art of Architecture on Sky Arts ran a program on him creating the Vessel which is how I came across his work. They are unique in there design and he has made buildings all over the world.
Since I like to celebrate the unusual I thought I would showcase some of the things that inspire me. I spend a lot of time alone with my thoughts but it is nice to connect with others. I’m not good at communicating my thoughts to others in a way that they can understand so I’m trying to improve that. One way is by sharing what I have been interested in lately so that others can possibly find common interests and start up a dialogue about these things.
He is a famous author and chef who has written several books on the history of food that are on Blinkist and I’m working my way through them. He also has a four part series on Netflix – Cooked after the title of his book that it follows. The episodes deal with the effects of Fire, Water, Air and Earth. It comes as no surprise that he has worked closely with Samin Nosrat on her Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat cookbook. He taught her how to write while she taught him how to cook.
In Fire he ventures around America looking for the secrets to bbq and grilled meats. He compares traditional methods to the ones used to industry. He goes in for the science and analyses the proteins present in meat with the transformation they undergo when being cooked – denaturalisation. He also indulges in some male bonding too while learning the secrets of southern cooking in addition to the history which is rooted in slave culture.
In Water he looks into the changes that have taken place in the American food industry since the 1950’s. He also tackles the rise in obesity and type 2 diabetes. I’m shocked to find that there is no longer an adult onset diabetes as type 2 used to be called. It’s now often found in children. This is directly linked to the fact we spend less time the kitchen and more time working. Even in India, one of the poorest countries in the world, you can’t live off one income and processed food is becoming the norm.
In Air he looks at the importance of bread to the daily diet in Morocco. He gets political about what happens when the price of bread rises too much; and how these conflicts cause shortages all over the world. Due mostly to over reliance on imports from bad harvests because of changing climatic conditions. He also gets scientific examining the role that gluten performs and why it’s so difficult to get a good gluten free loaf.
In Earth heexamines the process of fermentation. Here he discovers that cacao beans are first fermented for a week before they are dried and then turned into chocolate etc. I didn’t know it was necessary to do this because the raw beans are so bitter as to be unpalatable. If you’ve ever eaten cooking chocolate you might know this taste. In contrast to chocolate, cheese is a another food that undergoes fermentation that we all know about. Here still there are more secrets to be discovered by looking into the science of the rind on cheeses. He also experiments by making his own beer to continue on from when he learnt to make bread.
I have found this series fascinating to watch to realise that there is a lot to learn from traditional methods of cooking that we can’t replicate in our modern high tech kitchens. The culture of disgust in relation to the French appreciation of stinky cheese is an amazing topic to have a discussion on. Our overuse of antibacterial sprays to clean with and antibiotics to cure to disease is causing a backlash in the health of our gut biome which is only just starting to be looked into seriously. I liked the anthropological look into ancient cultures and how they would pickle vegetables to get through the winter which is why vegans need to eat kimchi etc to remain healthy. Its a source of b vitamins and even vitamin c.
I’ve been fascinated by adults in Greece who can speak both Greek and English to native levels yet as they get older they stop being able to do both. This has perplexed me in the UK too with people who learnt languages fluently at a young age yet can no longer speak the language.
This isn’t just related to an average person though. If you look at Ricky Martin’s career he speaks with his native accent in Spanish and English but then he moved to the US and gets married to an American. His accent changes so drastically that he can’t even sing his own back catalogue properly anymore!
Luckily this change can be reversed as on his most recent song he is back to sounding how he used to when he was younger.
As the article above suggests it’s all to do with emotions. If you associate positive emotions with a language and a specific purpose then you are more likely to remember it. If however you try to use a language for another purpose like your native language for work purposes in an English speaking country your likely to fail. Too much mental control is required for this to occur.
When I was just starting out to cook for my self I made the usual student meals. Everyone knew that bacon and cheese were wonder foods that could pretty much rescue anything disaster that you happen to make in the kitchen. Bacon was also the cure if you had drunk too much. What those experiments teach you is the importance of salt and fat to your food.
You don’t realise this then as the object of food then is fuel that is to be cooked quickly and eaten just as quickly so you can get on with whatever activity you were doing before.
I also realised why you always eat pancakes with honey and lemon. There soft, sometimes chewy but also crispy and sweet so all your taste buds are covered.
I’ve have had Hugh Fernley Whittingstall’s 3 good things cookery book for a while. It’s another textbook sized cookbook that goes into detail about the ingredients that chapter is focused on. I’ve used it quite a lot as it’s simple and quick to put together but the results are amazing. I have his River Cottage cookbook and his Bread cookbook too. Bread is a thing the British don’t do particularly well as anyone who has even eaten a slice of white sliced bread will know.
I also like Jack Monroe as I bought her first book about cooking on a budget. She it turns out is autistic and has some Greek heritage too so that might have something to do with it. It’s a good book as the receives are simple to follow and there all costed and portioned well. They use some unusual ingredients like tinned peaches but if your as limited on funds as she was you have to improvise.
Another one of my favourite chefs is Jamie Oliver as when he first came on the scene he was known as the Naked Chef due to his stripped down style of cooking. He has made many a book and program since his Jamie’s Great Britain but I find this a brilliant book.
I also have a Readers digest book on potatoes which I find quite authoritative when coming up with new ideas for what to do with spuds.
I thought I would list the best books that I have found for autistics to use so that they can learn some independence. It works for students just as well as there are no fancy ingredients unlike Nigella Lawson.
Just like my earlier post In praise of wine, it sometimes takes a novice to learn all the necessary requisite skills of an activity, to be able to explain them to others in an easily digestible manner.
She has a 4 part Netflix series which I watched over Christmas as it gave me insights into Mexican cuisines use limes and sour oranges (acid), The Japanese obsession with the sea (salt), The Italian love of dried meats (fat) and her own life as an American immigrant from Iran. (heat).
There is also a Blinkist book which I read this afternoon that gives some scientific explanation for the use of different elements in cooking. She explains why
Middle Eastern cooks love salt to an unhealthy degree (not just the climate),
why vegetarian cooking takes some re-education (fat is flavour),
why white wine or tomatoes are counted as a cooking acid where as lemon juice is a garnishing acid
and why we love crispy food (heat).
I have just received her cookbook in the post from Amazon and it’s a veritable textbook! It’s at least an inch thick so it’s certainly a distillation of all other knowledge that she has gained while working as a professional chef in America.
I like cookbooks that go into depth about the why things happen rather than just assuming you know all of the kitchen tricks already. When girls left school during my parents era they were given a book that detailed how to do all the different dishes that were commonly eaten them as well as advice about the ingredients. This was to back up the domestic science lessons that they had received. It helped them to run the household a lot smoother. While this was patriarchal, gender equality wasn’t present then. It did however allow women the skills to perform to the best of their ability.
I think we have lost something essential by stopping teaching cooking in schools. I don’t have the innate knowledge that has been passed down from generations or a handy cookbook to assist me to run my own life. I think it would benefit all students if they had such a book. Good mental health comes from good food and the knowledge that you can look after yourself on a budget. With this in mind I have decided to make this a part of a series on things that an autistic adult needs to survive in the world. When there mind is calm then they can contribute there brilliance to the world whatever it may be.
Just in case you were wondering what happened to the language posts here is one.
I recently went to a birthday party and the guests there were found of using the Sims computer game in foreign languages to learn all of the basic household items. They also liked to play Command and Conquer online with Russian and other eastern block people as it was a good way to learn the language as it was used by the people. My way of naming my Pokemon after Greek animals seemed rather inferior after that. I have thought about changing my devices to foreign languages but that never goes well. I’ve done it by accident and I’ve used items abroad and it’s just too confusing for me. I also came across an Alexa recently so I thought I would see if it could talk to me in foreign languages. This Alexa was new so didn’t seem to be able to even tell me whether she was an Echo, Dot or what version she was. I gave up after asking the same question in 3 different ways and getting the same default responses. So as much as games and technology can help you learn a new language, the best way is always going to be to get out there and to be social as much as you might dislike this method.
This is a new technique that I have learnt that helps to address what is usually lacking in your language studies if your an introvert like me and really dislike talking to people.
You need to get hold of some clear audio (an audiobook) that is at your current level.You also next to get hold of the corresponding text (e and physical is the most beneficial but you choose which is the best for you).Next you need a recording device, there is one on your phone.
When choosing your text make sure that the subject matter is interesting to you otherwise it will not be as useful to you and you will be wasting your time.
Have the text in front of you and listen to the audio at the same time.
If you are someone like me this is quite difficult because I absorb information at light speed. I’m not really reading but seem to pick up the gist as quickly as a sponge sucks up water. (Most of the time)
In this example though we are going for pronunciation practice here. So we’re trying to assimilate as much of the sound in terms of its physical qualities. By that I mean it’s intonation, spacing, pitch, rhythm, accent, emotion etc as possible. All of the different components are important here to get an authentic sound which is what we are aiming for.This is so that we can repeat it into the recorder as accurately as possible. This round is on a phrase by phrase basis.Then we try to repeat as much of it as possible listening to the audio recording from the beginning again. This is so that we can get a flow to the whole piece rather than isolating each sentence.Next we are going to compare our recorded speech with that of the prerecorded speech to check for differences.Finally we repeat the process until we cannot distinguish our own speech from that of the recording. (This maybe optimism as you may get bored if this doesn’t happen quickly).
Again if you are like me, your reluctant to listen to your own voice recordings because what you hear doesn’t sound anything like you think you sound. It’s sounds pretty awful as it’s weak, pathetic and indistinct a bit like a newborn mewling kitten.
This is the link if you wish to learn Russian from Max its creator Shadowing.
If you have been following my blog you will know that this approach is next to impossible to apply in Greek. I have recently found audio books on YouTube but I have had to separately purchase the e and physical books from Amazon. It took quite some time to arrive as even though they were on Amazon UK, it had to be shipped from Germany.
I have started to follow a lady on WordPress un petite bibliophile (this platform unless your reading this on my fb page) who reviews Greek children’s books in Greek. However, without access to the texts themselves; they are of limited use to me for this particular technique. They are simple children’s books but they can still teach valuable concepts. I like to use them for grammar and reading practice. It helps my comprehension and understanding having her texts there to consult.
If you wish to watch and listen to the worlds most expressive Russian check out the above video. It’s a simple story with questions afterwards. There are subtitles to help you out as well as pictures and his actions.
The best way to learn a language in my opinion is with the ease of a child. By that I mean don’t approach it head on. Don’t get bogged down with grammar, declension tables or memorising lists of vocabulary.
To effectively learn a language you need to engage your unconscious and sub conscious minds. This is where our creative powers reside and the majority of our brain power.
Communication is mostly done unconsciously. This is where body language comes in and Freudian slips of the tongue. This is challenging behaviour for a child to control but relatively simple for us unless we are under duress, in a new scenario.
A child will interact with his environment absorbing everything and gradually processing it into a shape that takes the form of words. However, before this children will express themselves in art. Even Picasso knew that the still resides an artist within every adult yet it has been obscured by becoming an adult.
Children have no innate sense of fear so this allows them to explore and practice language without worrying about the implications of what they are saying. This is how we get such phrases as “out of the moths of babes”. The honesty of children gets lost as we learn to say white lies, to sugar coat our words or simply to say the opposite of what we mean entirely out of politeness. This all builds up to prevent us from being able to communicate in a foreign language.
We are often reduced to the linguistic level of a child when it comes to second language acquisition and this frightens us. We are scared of the unpeeling of ourselves and the vulnerability that we now exhibit since we are no longer able to mask our true feelings.
In order to master our linguistic abilities we need to learn to appreciate ourselves for who we were, who we are now but also who we wish to become in the future. We can’t change if we don’t know that we need to in the first place.
Have you had to do any “unprogramming” of yourself to learn how to live a better, more authentic life for yourself?