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...

Friday, 21 June 2019

Inspiring Herbs

Hello all, and welcome!  I'm on a bit of a roll with my Neal's Yard Remedies found words.  (If you don't know what I'm talking about, you can find out in the previous post, Pace Yourself.)  So here's another journalling page for the Art Journal Journey theme, Words To Live By.  This one heads into my favoured world of wildflowers, but let's imagine there are some herbs too somewhere in the deep layers of the background.

And this really is a very layered background.  I've been doing a series of landscapes in this large 10x10 inch journal from Paperchase.  (I may choose to share them soon - they feel a bit personal, so we'll see.)  In those landscapes I've been playing with a lot of textural paint, heavy body acrylics and palette knife work, and this page layered some more over the top of one which wasn't really working for me.

I don't have any process photos, I'm afraid.  I've been doing my best to stay in the moment, follow the flow of what's happening in my imagination and on the page.  That doesn't really allow for stopping to take a picture!

The dip pen has been in action, working with black India ink.  Black is a rare departure for me, and one that seems to release something of sadness into the work when I use it.

There's some book text transferred into the layers of paint in various places, as well as a bit of script stamping.

Paint and pen work give a lighter touch of greenery to the black shadowy stems of the flowers.

And the flowers themselves are done with some more of the heavy body acrylic, trying to capture the fullness of the heads of the blooms with all that texture.

They have a very different energy from the watercolour versions I've been playing with in recent months (have a scroll through the Watercolour Birthday pictures if you missed those).

Here are the Neal's Yard words, which I went over with my dip pen and ink to give them a less formal appearance.  I really like the effect, so you'll see it again soon.

I am, as regulars here know, hugely inspired by meadow grasses and wildflowers, but if we're in a garden rather than a wild meadow, one of my favourite things a proper Elizabethan herb garden.

Walking down the tiny paths amongst foliage in greens and greys and blues, twisting a leaf between your fingers to release the fragrance of pungent mint or tangy lemon balm - all the senses tickled.

In Stratford upon Avon, on Shakespeare's birthday each year, people parade through the streets wearing sprigs of rosemary in his memory (There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray, love, remember, says Ophelia), and the whole town smells amazing.

There's a slight shimmer to the teardrops of High Flow acrylic dripping down the page.

And the scribbles and scratches and paint textures all add to the interest which comes from mixing your media in so many layers.

I hope you've enjoyed dipping in to these painty layers with me.  There are some more Words To Live By on the way shortly, and maybe those landscapes will put in an appearance too.  In the meantime have a great weekend (we're nearly there), and I'll see you soon.

Next to the larder, a door led out to our courtyard, which Mamma had kept filled with herbs. An ancient rosemary bush took up most of one side, and the air in summer was always full of bees. Sage, thyme, various kinds of mint, oregano, rocket, hyssop, lovage and basil grew in Mamma's collection of old terra-cotta pots. A fig tree was slowly pulling down the wall, and a tenacious, knotted olive tree had been struggling for years in the sunniest corner.
From Appetite by Philip Kazan

I'd like to share this at Art Journal Journey where they are looking for Words To Live By
I couldn't even count the number of different mediums used here, so I'd also like to play along at the Creative Artiste Blog where they are up to their 50th Anything Mixed Media Goes challenge

Monday, 17 June 2019

Pace yourself

Hello all, and thank you for stopping by.  The sun is out for the first time in days so there's a slight lift in the mood here.

I've got a quick journal page for you, created with the current Art Journal Journey theme in mind.  It's called Words To Live By, and Halle the host is specifically looking for us to use "found" words or handwritten ones.  

I don't generally have magazines around, and I haven't had much time lately for trawling through books to find phrases that excite me, but then a Neal's Yard Remedies catalogue popped through the letterbox, packed with lovely words and phrases, and that's what I've used here.

I was playing in my Dina Wakley Media Journal, so the page is about 10 x 7.5 inches in size, and it's the canvas page, so it's got lovely texture going on before you even start.

Paper scraps were my first port of call... leftover pieces lying around the craft table which needed using before I lost patience and started yet another scraps-to-use box!

Over that I used a palette knife to add a rough coat of gesso, keeping plenty of texture and movement in it.

Then some strips of washi and design tape (yes, it's another variation on Live the Dream Jennie's fab technique)... 

... followed by some DecoArt Media Crackle Paint, again scraped on quite roughly.

Once that had done its thing, I spritzed on some Stormy Sky and Faded Jeans Distress Sprays.

I love how this looks when it's still drying, but am always a bit sad at how much it fades as it dries.  I could have gone in with another spritzing, but I was ready to move on.

These two Paper Dolls were crying out to be allowed on to the page!

They've got the customary shadowy tissue tape to give them something to stand on...

... and some simple layered lace and cheesecloth running behind them to give the page some horizontal structure.

I've no idea where the little wire heart came from, but it's been tucked in my bits and bobs box just in front of me on the table for months.  This seemed to be the right moment to put it to use.

And here are some of those words from the Neal's Yard catalogue.

Not only lovely thoughts, but in just the right colour tones too!

I love all the background texture... a gentle page, but it makes me happy.  I hope it does the same for you.

Thanks so much for stopping by today, and I'll see you again soon, either here or elsewhere in Craftyblogland.

Slow down and enjoy life. It's not only the scenery you miss by going to fast - you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.
Eddie Cantor

I'd like to play along with Words To Live By over at Art Journal Journey
I'd also like to join in at Frilly and Funkie where they are looking for Embellishments, Trinkets and Trims - well, having finally got round to using that little heart, and with the lace and cheesecloth trims, this should qualify
At the Creative Artiste Blog they are celebrating their 50th Anything Mixed Media Goes challenge - it would be rude not to join in, don't you think?!

Friday, 14 June 2019

Doodling with watercolour

Hello all, and thank you so much for your lovely comments on my Holding On, Letting Go journal.

After that mammoth post, I'm here with something much shorter today.

I'm just sharing a couple of watercolour/doodling pages inspired by CeeCee Creations on youtube - particularly this video about being creatively stuck.

It's not so much that I'm stuck at the moment as that I'm slightly flooded with possibilities, and so don't really know where to start with things I'd like to try.

And then just as I get really fired up and ready to play, I realise I have some sort of deadline (not always crafting) that needs meeting and it all slips away again.

But with these pages I just played with CeeCee's combination of watercolour brushwork and pen doodling.

Actually it's mostly brushwork doodling on these pages, with a very fine brush, and the odd bit of white pen highlighting later.

I was also keen to try out some new handmade watercolours ordered from Jazper Stardust on Etsy.

They're really beautiful...

... lovely shades with some really nice granulation in some pigments, and great for mixing.

I stuck with my favoured organic and nature motifs for the most part.

I'm not as pattern-oriented as CeeCee is.  To be honest, I was mostly just enjoying the colours.

And then I did a larger page flower doodle, also borrowing inspiration from some of her doodled flower videos.

These are all in a 6 x 8 inch watercolour sketchbook, by the way.

I think it's pretty, and I did enjoy doodling with the pens, but I'm not sure the end result is quite my thing.

But that might just be because I strayed into the pink and purple zone, so it just doesn't feel like home!

But it's always good to try stuff out and see where it takes you...

... and there's always something to be learned along the way.

I hope you've enjoyed my light-hearted doodling- it's nice to create without an end product in mind.

I hope you find some time for light-hearted creativity this weekend, and I'll see you again soon.

To practise any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow.  So do it.
Kurt Vonnegut

I'd like to play along with the June Watercolour Challenge over at Happy Little Stampers

Friday, 7 June 2019

Holding on, letting go

Hello all!  It's a pretty grim, grey June so far, and I seem to be a little under the weather too (post-show doldrums).

It probably shows in today's creation!

I took part in the free three day art-journalling challenge hosted by the lovely and brilliant Kasia of Everything Art a couple of weekends ago.

In just a few minutes of playtime a day, we created a whole little book of art journal pages, cover and all, and I'm sharing it here today.

I'm not going to give away everything we did, that wouldn't be fair to Kasia.  I'm mostly just going to turn the pages for you., with a couple of close ups of each of them. 

There were challenges along the way, not least having to make our own marks.

With each instruction, Kasia's urging was not to think but to do.

That's probably how we managed to get so much done!  This was the end of day one - a six minute video class, and probably fifteen minutes at the craft table.

I made colour choices which suited my mood and preferences.

And I went rogue with a couple of instructions in various ways... just to keep it feeling like me.

For instance, rather than marker pens, I used my much loved dip pen with some ink.

Rather than collaging from magazines (which are not something I ever have around), I went another way with my paper scraps.

And I ended up having to do rather more with my cover than was instructed or than I'd intended...

... partly because it ended up falling apart rather more than I wanted...

... but also because it was originally a bright red colour (not me, as you know).  And when I gesso'd it, it turned pink.

And despite sealing it with matte medium, the red kept on seeping through. 

So in the end, I had to take fairly drastic measures and cover it with some papers...

... before painting it the colour I actually wanted it to be (the lovely Smalt Blue acrylic paint by Golden).

On the inside pages are words drawn from our moods over those three days of creativity.

There are little pen sketches of faces and figures.

Sometimes they're almost hidden amongst everything else that's going on.

But I really like how they suddenly come into focus as you look at a page...

... even though you maybe haven't noticed them at first.

They are really rapid sketches, but I think that speed can sometimes capture something...

... which long planning and painstaking execution misses out on.

I couldn't resist adding some wildflower stamping.

And given I'd yielded to black ink for the sketches and the writing...

(the brown ink didn't really show up well enough against the backgrounds when I tried)

... I allowed myself my favourite brown inks for the stamping.

I would estimate the total time I spent on this as only just over an hour, maybe 70 - 75 minutes...

... and that's including the three six-minute video classes each day.

So that pretty much deals with the age-old complaint of not having enough time! 

But you do have to have a little bit of mojo around to get you going.

 (Or lots of prompts to follow - thank you Kasia!)

Otherwise, no matter how much time you have...

... the stuff which turns up in front of you isn't going to make you happy!

It's messier than lots of my usual work, but it's a messiness that I'm often trying to capture.

It has a freedom which I like to aim at, and only sometimes achieve.

It's probably more often achieved on things I've not even shared on the blog...

... because they feel more personal and more vulnerable somehow.

The forward momentum of doing rather than thinking means that, in a very healthy way, you're less in control.

I think these pages probably tap into something close to my centre, unmediated.

It's not as orderly inside as one might hope, clearly!  But then I knew that, because I live in here.

I hope you've enjoyed seeing some of my inner workings laid bare.  And I hope you can find just a few minutes this weekend to be creative.

Who knows, if you don't think too hard, all sorts of things might work their way up from the depths?!  Happy crafting all!

If everything seems under control, you're not going fast enough.
Mario Andretti

With plenty of my own mark-making, some of it geometric, some of it not, I'd like to play along at Try It On Tuesday where they want us to Make a Mark 
And at Art Journal Journey, Halle's theme is Words To Live By - there's lots of handwritten text here, over multiple pages, from those individual words to the hidden scribbles expanding on some of those thoughts
I haven't had a chance to play along since lack of time forced me to step down from the design team at Mini Album Makers, so I'd love to join in with their June challenge this month