Basement Makeover

As you may recall, our basement flooded in late June.  We lost a great number of possessions, the damage was pretty catastrophic, and my stress levels were elevated for several months as we dealt with the aftermath, including a lengthy renovation process.

A week after the initial flood, our basement was a shell.  Most of the walls had been ripped out, the carpeting was gone, fried electrical equipment had been disconnected, but things were dry, our insurance company paid out pretty quickly (though the funds covered a small fraction of the costs), and we had accepted that we had a long road ahead of us.  Incidentally, we had to pay a fine for not having pulled a permit giving us permission to conduct the demolition – even though the insurance company, health and safety, and common sense required that we complete the demolition on far too tight a timeline for that to have been feasible.

2019-06-28 12.57.04

Fighting through layers upon layers of red tape was a persistent, aggravating, and stressful theme of this whole restoration process.  As with so much of our contact with bureaucracy, we found that we were caught in this perpetual Catch 22 of submitting paperwork which we were then told could not be accepted and filed because it was missing some components or that more detail was required but they could not inform us as to what we needed to do to successfully amend it.  Over and over this was our experience.  Thankfully the inspectors that came to the house were always pleasant and helpful but, man, there were a lot of inspections for us to get through at various stages of the work.  This, therefore, extended the timeline for the whole project as work would have to shut down in order for us to be inspected, submit the next permit, and be given permission to proceed to the next stage of work.  It was frustrating and mentally exhausting.

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As I wrote before, we were grateful that, while our basement was finished, it was overdue for a makeover.  I think the basement had been finished in the late 1970s with a bit of remediation work done some point in the 1980s.  We, therefore, decided to focus on the silver lining of having this opportunity to really turn this useful but dark and dated space into a light and appealing living space.  Having the space reduced to its bare bones even provided us with the ability to spruce up the electrics and the airflow for heating.  We installed two egress windows so that we could turn the basement into living space, including a bedroom, and those let in a whole lot more light than the hideous windows there before.

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Anyway, after all of the hassle, expense, stress, and frustration, we now have two lovely rooms in the basement.  One is a teenage hangout space for our four boys (which they are especially loving during this social distancing time) and one is a bedroom that means all four of our boys can now have their own bedrooms.  Our soon-to-be 13 year old has the basement bedroom and is loving it.

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We still have some decorating to do in the basement – pictures up on the wall and that type of thing – but that is all on hold right now because of the Covid 19 pandemic.  However, I am sure you can see from the photos how much the space has been transformed.

As a reminder, this is what the basement looked like not long after we moved into the house.

Before - Basement 5

And this is what it looks like now.

2020-03-20 15.57.15

Rainbow Art Journal – Daphne

As in so many of Greek myths, Daphne’s is the story of a woman victimised by a man and ultimately punished by the patriarchy.  Essentially poor Daphne was used by Eros to curse Apollo, one of Cupid’s arrows having created his obsessive infatuation with the naiad Daphne.  An arrow fired at her ensured that she would always flee Apollo.  Therefore, poor Daphne was basically stalked by Apollo, which effectively means she was being punished for no reason.  In order to escape Apollo’s sexual violence, Daphne pleaded with her father, a river god, and his solution was to transform her into a laurel tree.  Daphne, treated like an object by these male gods, was therefore rendered completely and utterly passive – so much so, in fact, the Apollo ended up possessing the laurel as his special tree.  Ugh.

Anyway, still plodding on through the green section of my Rainbow Art Journal, I decided to illustrate Daphne’s tragic story.  I wanted to communicate something of the violence of her situation and of her transformation while also suggesting something of the fact she was forced to become even more passive.

 

48 - Daphne

Rainbow Art Journal – Valley Cottage

I had this page that was covered in smears and spatters of leftover green paint, washi tape, and offcuts of origami paper.  I had placed the collage elements with the intention of them eventually becoming some sort of landscape.  Once I began to draw lines around the patches, the drawing started to take form and I had the idea of where the cottage should be placed within the scene.  The finished piece is reminiscent of a journal page I created in 2017 and a page from the orange section of this rainbow art journal.  I guess this is my style and approach to landscapes.

49 - Valley Cottage

Rainbow Art Journal – Among the Leaves

I just realised I had never written a blog post for this illustration in my Rainbow Art Journal.  My entire county is, as of last Friday, under lockdown for at least the next two weeks because of the Covid 19 outbreak.  My kids are, therefore, home from school and, as a teacher, I am obviously off work.  I, therefore, thought I would return to working on this project and I found this page.  Maybe I had considered it unfinished and was expecting to return to it.  I am calling it done.

Anyway, this is a quick little ink and watercolour illustration I knocked out in response to the prompt “Relax” in the Art Journal Adventure group.  I drew it a few days before Christmas so I was pretty much the opposite of relaxed.  I thought about where my “happy place” is.  I am not very good at getting into a zen headspace when doing yoga but, when I am in shavasana pose with my eyes closed, I often think about being in the woods, among the trees, smelling the leaves and moss.  So I drew myself lying in a pile of leaves.  You may spot a good few little insects among the leaves too.

52 - Among the Leaves

Coral Orbs

This is the art journal page I created with this month’s Art Snacks supplies.  The figure is painted using two Faber-Castell markers that can be activated with water to imitate watercolour.  What I really got addicted to, however, was a Kuretake pen that makes circles.  I had thought I would just add a few dots in the background but clearly I got carried away.  You can see how  much of a battering I put my art journal through by how crinkled and buckled this page is.  It will flatten out over time because of the weight in the rest of the journal.  It’s one of the reasons why I find photographing my doodlings to be a challenge.

Art Snacks - Feb 2020

Rainbow Art Journal – Heart of the Forest

Will I create an illustration in the green section of my Rainbow Art Journal that does not involve foliage?  It is looking doubtful based on the evidence so far.  Women with antlers crop up in my artwork from time to time and I really don’t have an explanation for why or what they might symbolise for me.  I wish I had a deeper explanation than the fact I just seem to enjoy drawing this subject.  Also, I should probably develop my skills with painting leaves as I am pretty sure my abilities in that regard have not developed since my age was in single digits.

47 - Heart of the Forest

Woman in Red

I had not worked in my random art journal for a while so a good way to grease the cogs and grind the rust off my creative gears was to complete this month’s Art Snacks challenge and complete a page using just the supplies in this month’s box.  I used the pencil to draw the face – and it was refreshing to use a pencil as more than just a medium for rough sketching – and then set about using the other items to create the rest of the illustration.  I had no idea how either of these media worked and had no vision of how I wanted the finished piece to look and, well, it probably shows.  I truly did just mess around and created puddles of pigment and scraped things around, let things puddle, and encouraged dribble.  My conclusion was that I did not particularly like either of the materials that are new to me and that I had very little skill with either of them.  I don’t like the finished illustration.  However, I am happy to have experimented and sometimes learning what doesn’t work for you is of as much value as learning what does.

Woman in Red - Art Snacks - Jan 2020