I'm travelling into a new way of working, a new country, a new language, and a new hobby which I'm passionate about. Come with me for some of the journey...

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Birthday Blues (and Browns and Greens!)

Hello all, and thank you for stopping by today.

There's been altogether too much pink around here lately, so I wanted to revert to some of my more favoured colour tones for my birthday (yes, today).

So here are some glimpses at work in progress inside the Dina Wakley Media Journal which I ordered at a bargain price from Joann's while I was in New York recently.

And since we're taking a bit of an art journal journey, I'd like to share the first and last pages at Art Journal Journey - somewhere I always mean to play along far more than I manage!

There's not much that is in any way "finished", except perhaps the first page, with its ripped teabag texture and finger-painted circles.  I'll try to get round to sharing some more detail soon.

These are mostly just beginnings and backgrounds and works-in-progress.  But that's what an art journal is for, isn't it?  Exploring, and following your instinct, and not trying to force anything to be pretty or perfect or complete.

You can certainly see some of my art obsessions playing themselves out over these pages... the colours, the textures, the motifs.

I love working in the Media Journal - it's an inspiration in itself with all the different substrate surfaces.

And I will be back to add more to these pages in the future...

... but there are various "deadline projects" which need taking care of before I can have some more playtime to myself again.

These pages reflect how my New York crafting seemed to work - I would sit down to have a play, reach for something I loved, start something off, and then get completely stuck.

My creative attention was needed for my theatre work at the time, but I think these snatched moments of sticking and brushing and dripping helped to keep me sane in some pretty stressful circumstances...

.... even though they didn't necessarily lead anywhere at the time.  The burlap is so exciting to work on - a whole different way of thinking.

The blues and browns and greens are definitely part of my crafting happy place, as regulars here will be well aware.

And I'm never far from some texture paste or crackle paint, or some vintage script or ephemera, or from grasses and meadow flowers or other elements of nature.

My new and already much-loved Walnut Drawing Ink certainly got an outing amongst the finger-painted circles and splatters and splashes (aaaahhh, splatter!).

I love how the various pages in the Media Journal already have their own qualities - even the "plain paper" has a wonderful texture.

I've got plans for somehow incorporating these tags on the first of the canvas pages.  They're lightly taped in for now to keep them in place while my imagination comes to the boil.

Not quite sure how it'll go yet, but there'll be paint and mixed media and I think some interactive flaps or inserts.

And sometimes I just have to have almost all my favourite things in one go...

I've been enjoying incorporating my "proper" watercolour paints into the mixed media backgrounds, along with all the ephemera layers.

The colours make me so happy.  Who needs a focal point or a finished page?  With this one you just need to let the fingertips go wandering over the texture...

So, as I said, I hope I'll be back before long to share the first completed page in detail, and I also hope I'll be back to develop some of these backgrounds soon, or just start lots of new ones.  I'm not going to put any pressure on myself either way.

Thanks so much for stopping by today and indulging me in my birthday treat of some of my favourite things - even though most of the work is unfinished.  I hope the week is treating you well, and I'll see you all again soon.

Happiness is not a finished product, it is a work in progress.
Khang Kijarro Nguyen

With the ripped teabag papers providing texture and shadow in the first page here, as well as all the collaged ephemera in the final one including some old book pages somewhere under there, I'd like to share this at Art Journal Journey, where the fabulous Craftytrog - also Alison - is looking for pages which Recycle and Collage

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Spring Blossom

Hello all!  I hope you're enjoying a gentle Sunday.  Now that we've finally had a taste of springtime here in the UK, I thought I should probably share a couple of the samples from the third of my recent PaperArtsy stamp releases, EAB06 The Spring Edition.  Well, it's not really that recent any longer, but you know what I mean.  And since today is Earth Day, it seems only right to head to the natural world for these...

It's another pair of tags (if you saw No Small Dreams or Lose Sight of the Shore, you'll know I often work in pairs or sets when I'm creating samples).  We're still in the official launch colour palette, and this time I was playing with some of the charming new stamps by Kay Carley.  These delightful springtime trees are from EKC16.

I love tree blossom.  We've got lots of May trees blooming already in our area, but most of the blossom is yet to come.  It may be my favourite form of flower, I think - and part of that beauty comes from its impermanence - it's always with us for far too short a time.

And although white blossom is my favourite, blossom-time is one of the times when pink is also very welcome in my world, so the launch palette worked really well in this case!

The backgrounds of these tags are done in my "soft crackle" technique.  The background layer of paint was one of Seth's new blues, over which I applied PaperArtsy Crackle Glaze as normal.

When the glaze is dry, I then use a natural sponge to apply my top coat - in this case Fresco Chalky Finish in Chalk, a lovely soft white - and let that dry too.  

Then I do another soft sponged coat of paint over the top of that.  This softens the look of the crackle and gives a subtle aged look to the background.

Once the soft crackle was done, I blended on watery washes of the blues to give me spring skies, and then stamped some of the grasses in Venice Blue and in Mushroom.

The trees themselves are stamped in Watering Can Archival and clear embossed, and then I used the Mulberry Fresco paint and a water brush to colour in the blossoms.

It's great to have the two sizes of tree on the one plate.  As you can see, the large on is perfect for a standard size 8 tag in portrait, and the smaller one works beautifully in landscape.

But you could also use them within one scene to create depth, by using the large one in the foreground and smaller ones "further off" in the background.  You could have a whole Chekhovian cherry orchard!

I tried out a few Archival ink colours for the Charles Lanman quote, and in the end I think it was a secondary stamping in Plum Archival which did the trick.

And for the long Mark Twain quote which is the main feature of the landscape tag, it's Vanilla White Wow embossing powder applied with Versamark ink over a Mulberry-painted background.

I've used the whole quote - it's long but so lovely, and oh, how I know the feeling! - but there are plenty of phrases and sections which you could use by themselves.

Some simple white doodled borders frame the tags, and they're finished off with some seam binding dyed with the same Mulberry paint and fastened with white twine.

I hope you're enjoying some spring sunshine and some spring blossom wherever you are today, at least if you're the right side of the planet for that.

And whatever season you're in, I wish you a very happy Earth Day.

It's still pretty quiet here on the blog, but I'm gearing up behind the scenes for a busier May on the crafting front.

I promise there are more good things coming your way in the not too distant future...  Thanks so much for dropping by and I'll see you again soon.

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
Marcel Proust

Friday, 13 April 2018

Lose sight of the shore

Hello all!  I hope you're all thriving and that there is some spring sunshine finally wending its way in your direction.  I'm aware that I've been neglecting both this blog and all of you... I haven't even managed to share most of the samples from my latest stamp release with PaperArtsy, and that was back at the end of January. 

So there are several short but hopefully sweet posts coming your way with some of the making-of details of those samples.   There's been just the one catch up so far - No Small Dreams - sharing a pair of tags made with EAB07 Dreaming & Doing.  And today I have another pair for you, this time using a quote from EAB08 Strength & Courage.

For these, I was also lucky enough to use some of the fabulous new Scrapcosy designs (also by PaperArtsy) - a serendipitous combination of one of my all-time favourite quotes with some of Raquel's wonderful vintage nautical images.

I had a colour palette including some of Seth Apter's beautiful new paint colours with, for me, the unusual inclusion of the pinkish Spanish Mulberry.  But once I found it could be used to create dawn and dusk sky colours, I was a happy bunny!

These are very simple tags really.  I gave the tags a coat of Chalk Fresco paint, and then stamped my images in Watering Can Archival Ink.  I love the softened vintage look of the grey ink.

Then I used water brushes to apply my Fresco paints, building up from light watery washes to deeper shades where needed.

The quote itself is also stamped in Watering Can, but got a touch of Clear embossing powder to make it pop a little more.

It fits very precisely across a standard size 8 tag when it's upright, or with some more space if you turn the tag to landscape.

And of course you get the lovely glisten of light on the clear embossing, like the sparkle of sunlight on the waves.

The main ship images are magical, but I also love the compass and wonderful vintage script included on the Scrapcosy 11 plate.  They make for delicious extra detailing in corners and edges.

Simple white twine (a bit like ship's ropes in miniature) and a white matted layer finishes them off for display on the PaperArtsy show boards.

So that's today's sample catch-up... I hope to be back fairly soon with some more.  The new stamp sets are widely available online (details at the foot of the launch post) but by all means ask your local retailer about them if you can't find them.

There are various experiments going on at the craft table, but I seem to be doing a lot of starting and not much finishing of things at the moment.  I need to get back in the swing of things!

Thanks so much for stopping by today, and I hope you all have a great weekend.

It is not that life ashore is distasteful to me.  It is that life at sea is better.
Sir Francis Drake

Friday, 6 April 2018

Rusty and Crusty

Hello all!  Time for a new challenge at A Vintage Journey and, to my surprise, I've had time to join in with some inspiration for you.

The fabulous Autumn wants to see all things Rusty and Crusty.  I managed to find time to play with my newly arrived Seth Apter Baked Texture powders to create a rusty and crusty tag for you.

There's lots more sensationally decayed inspiration over at A Vintage Journey for you, created by my amazing fellow Creative Guides, so do hop over to take a look.

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I really have only had time to play with a few Oxide backgrounds and a couple of half-done journalling pages during my time in New York, but I've pressed one of those backgrounds into service for this brilliant challenge.

I also used some wax paper which came as the wrapping for a bagel I bought - waste not, want not.  The crumpled wax paper forms the base of the rusted strip which is making its way across the tag.

The background started off with some stencilled gesso, and I "printed" the reverse side of the messy stencil onto another tag to give me double playtime.

I then applied my favoured mixture of Distress Inks and Distress Oxides, smooshing and spritzing until I had a grungy look that made me happy.

I love the texture of the gesso and how it resists the Inks but not so much the Oxides.

I think the effect is pretty cool.

I added some stamping detail to my backgrounds, and then there they sat for nearly two months awaiting further time/inspiration.

Autumn's Rusty & Crusty theme in combination with the arrival of the Baked Texture powders was just what I needed to kick me into action.

I tore a strip of the wax paper and applied some of the Chunky Rust powder to it over Potting Soil Archival ink.  I also added some granules of the Rocky Road, a tarry black powder with some shine. 

Once I'd heated a couple of layers of those powders, I wanted a darker look, so I rubbed Ground Espresso Distress Ink over the knobbly texture and added some Clear embossing powder for a bit of shine.

You know that burnished look you sometimes get with rusty surfaces... that's what I was after.  The fibres in the Chunky Rust Baked Texture Powder give it a really crusted look.  It's worth clicking the photo for the close-up view.

Once I was happy with my crusty rust, I darkened the edges of the tag, and then wondered what to do next.

I played around with a couple of alternatives.  I perched this chap on the rusty strip at one point, and I almost wish I'd gone with that, but I decided he was covering too much of my rust.

So instead I went the metallic route with a simple coppery gear wheel and pointer...

... and added this quote by Lao Tzu from my new PaperArtsy EAB08 Strength & Courage plate.

It's stamped in Faded Jeans Distress Oxide to tone in with the splattered grungy background, and I added some Walnut Ink to the edges to make it look as though the word strips are also rusting.

I applied some more clear embossing powder over various brown inks around the edges to give those  a rusty, crusty look too...

... and some simple twine finishes the whole thing off.

I hope my rusty, crusty tag inspires you to come and join us on A Vintage Journey this month.

If you're still in need of more ideas, do check out the amazing creations my fellow Creative Guides are offering up for your delectation.  Rust has never looked so beautiful!

Thanks so much for stopping by today.  I hope you all have a fabulous weekend.

Change and decay in all around I see.
From Abide With Me by Henry Francis Lyte