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...

Wednesday, 30 November 2022

Belated Inktober Page

Hello all!  Long time no blogging again... sorry.  I'm trying to shake off a horrid sore throat and chesty cough (tests say not Covid), and writing a blogpost is about all I'm up to at the moment, so here I am!  I've finally got an Inktober update for you, another page of botanical sketches done from life.

I didn't manage anywhere near the full 31 days... in fact, reverse those two digits and you'll have the actual total.  And the last of those was actually done yesterday morning - I needed it to fill the gap in this second page before I could share it. 

Anyway, here are a few photos (click for a larger view) to show you some of the leafy life models and the pen sketches which are the start of the process for these.  It was Inktober, after all, so I made myself start with pen rather than pencil.  I've been using a Staedtler Pigment Liner 0.3, Daniel Smith watercolours, and Silver Black Velvet brushes in a Moleskine A4 watercolour journal.

Sometimes there's a part way stage that seems worth sharing too, and sometimes not.  I was particularly pleased with how the shadows made these rosehip stems "lift off" the page...

As always, there were good days and bad days.  The trouble with doing them all on one page is that the risks feel greater... what if today's painting is so bad that it messes up the whole page?!

The Czechs are great fungi foragers - it's a national pastime - so there had to be at least one mushroom in the autumnal gatherings.

Another acorn (or two) made it on to the page... they are a real challenge to get the shaping right.  I'm still working on it!

The Echinacea or Coneflower has been a gorgeous addition to the garden this year (not sure whether it's going to make it through the winter, but we'll see).  Even in its decayed state it has such beauty...
And finally the little brown oak leaf from yesterday - and it definitely wasn't my finest hour.  As the annotations say: lesson learned... don't try to paint when you're not feeling well!

As well as garden gatherings (which was what was on the first page a few weeks ago), this second page has some things gathered on one of my walks.  Here's a glimpse of the treasures I came home with, and which I was planning to make the subject of other Inktober paintings.  Sadly, most of them didn't get painted in the end.

I think the first trio of leaves and the ragged rosehip stems are probably my favourites - how about you?

I'll leave you with both pages... 13 out of 31 - not brilliant, but not nothing either.  I'm pleased with the results of challenging myself to paint from life.

I'm aiming to continue the watercolour practice throughout the year rather than waiting for July (World Watercolour Month) and October (Inktober) again this time, so I may be back with more botanicals some time soon.  Hope you're all doing well, and I wish you all a wonderful December.

As long as autumn lasts, I shall not have hands, canvas and colours enough to paint the beautiful things I see.
Vincent van Gogh

Thursday, 27 October 2022

New Winter Botanicals Stamps at PaperArtsy

Hello all!  It's already been an amazing week of releases over at PaperArtsy, and tonight I couldn't be more excited to introduce you to my latest stamp collections for the company.  All is being revealed over at the PaperArtsy blog right now.  The stamp plates include my botanical sketches, ephemera and quotes with a wintry twist.  

We're forecast a hard winter here in the Czech Republic, so the trees are heavy with berries for the birds - and so are these stamps.  In fact, they're very berry delicious!  

I do hope you'll hop over to PaperArtsy to take a closer look at the stamps and see some of the samples I've been making.  

You can also catch up with the launch video here - to hear more about the inspiration behind the stamps, and see the samples moving (I promise with some of them, it's worth the movement!)... I think I've managed to embed it here for those that don't do FB... nor do I in the general way of things.  (If you've never watched a FB Live, don't be confused by me responding in real time to comments people are writing - you won't see them here, I'm afraid!)


Thanks for stopping and hopping, and I really hope you like the stamps.

On the motionless branches of some trees, autumn berries hung like clusters of coral beads, as in those fabled orchards where the fruits were jewels.

Charles Dickens

...the winter is kind and leaves red berries on the boughs for hungry sparrows...

John Geddes 

Monday, 24 October 2022

Rusty Rosehips

Hello all, I'm here to share some Rusty Rosehips with you today.  These tags have so many of my favourite things... nature at her finest, rusty wire and plenty of crackle and weathering!

I mounted my tags - cut with a Tim Holtz die from some plain card - onto some stiff waste cardboard before I started, so that they wouldn't curl up once the crackle paste started doing its thing.

And I kept things nice and messy around the edges as I was spreading the paste on, so that you get all those nice distressed edges.

The rosehips are from my PaperArtsy botanical stamps - EAB26 Rosehips Edition.

I had a glorious time painting them.  Look at this array of rainbow colours of PaperArtsy Fresco paint... not my usual jam, but it was such fun using them!

I generally put a dot of each paint onto the craft mat, spritz it with a bit of water and then use a water brush to apply the paint.  So really it's a kind of "watercolouring" even though it's using acrylic paint.  The watery technique gives me the ability to get a really subtle application...

... and to add layers of colour, even when the paints are opaque rather than translucent (PaperArtsy has some of each in their line-up, and semi-translucent paints too - worth keeping an eye on which type you're playing with).  The blue sky behind provides contrast to make those berries really pop!

I created some especially rusted bits of weathered crackle where I wanted to wind my rusty wire around the tags.  DecoArt's Quinacridone Gold, Raw Umber and Payne's Grey Fluid Media Acrylics do a grand job of rustiness.

And I added an Idea-ology Muse Token to each wire, keeping the words to a minimum on these tags. 

Actually, if you look closely, you'll see there are quite a lot of words.  There's text detail going on over the crackle background, as well as the Latin name for the rose (all also from the same stamp plate).

So I hope you like that quick tour of these rusted, crusted, crackled tags, with the glowing rosehips at the heart of them.

The to-do list in the garden to get ready for winter seems to keep getting longer rather than shorter, and there's some very big stuff going on behind the scenes at the moment... watch this space on Thursday, that's all I'll say!  Do hope all is well with all of you and I'll see you again soon.  Thanks for stopping by and happy crafting, all!

It is the time you have spent on your rose that makes her so important.

From The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Tuesday, 18 October 2022

Pockets full of blackberries

Hello all, just a quick post to share these little blackberry pocket envelopes with you.  They're full of tasty blackberries, some of them ripe enough to pop straight in your mouth, others that are going to need a few days yet...

I used my PaperArtsy botanical stamps, EAB24 Blackberries Edition.  They're stamped onto some fairly cheap watercolour card and I had a lovely time watercolouring them with Distress Inks. 

The pockets are cut with Tim Holtz's Collector Thinlits set, and I used my stamping platform when I was stamping and painting, so that I would be able to recapture any details lost in the process.

I played with both Distress Ink pads and some Distress Stains (not the sprays - I still have some of the old ones in dabber bottles), smooshed onto the craft mat and spritzed with a little water. 

My trusty Pentel water brushes were perfect for being able to add extra water for shading as I went.

There's Seedless Preserves, Wilted Violet, and touches of Villainous Potion and Crackling Campfire on the berries; Peeled Paint, Bundled Sage and Crushed Olive for the leaves and stems... 

... and a little Broken China to hint at the sky.  Watery Vintage Photo gives the paper an aged look. 

The same paper, this time dipped in slightly less watery Vintage Photo looks almost like leather as the fasteners. Simple fine twine loops around to fasten them.

Simple to do, but I think they look really effective, and you could use them as little gift card wallets or to store little photos and ephemera.

Thanks for stopping by today - I hope you're all doing well, and I'll see you again soon.  

On the motionless branches of some trees, autumn berries hung like clusters of coral beads.

Charles Dickens

Saturday, 8 October 2022

Garden Findings for Inktober

Hello all, a belated happy October to you.  I'm on the Inktober trail again, approaching things slightly differently this year.  Firstly, I'm trying to work from life rather than from photos as I did last year.  And secondly, I'm gathering small sketches onto a large journal page, rather than them each getting a page to themselves.  So I'm here to share the first spread with six sketches on it, as well as a few process photos.  I hope you like them.

(Yes, I know it's the 8th already, but I'm not bullying myself to do it daily, given there's quite a lot of other stuff going on at the moment!  I may catch up tomorrow, or I may not... we'll see!)  

And here they are in order from day 1, with a chance to see the pen sketch and the model in each case - which was just whatever I happened to pick up in the garden that day.

A sprig from the miniature crab apple tree...

Some random grasses from the "wilderness garden" round the back of the house... (some day I hope it will be a wildflower meadow under the plum trees, but for now it's a wilderness!)

A couple of slightly bedraggled leaves from one of the plum trees...

Some of the dried Aquilegia seed heads which I use quite a lot on my tags too (you've just seen them in action in the previous post)...

Some random dried out leaves (maybe plum?) - I thought this would be simple, but it was the trickiest one on the page...

And finally, some wild strawberry leaves.  This one took quite a few layers, and as I was doing chores in between layers, by the time I got to the finishing touches the strawberry leaves were starting to curl up around the edges...

So, that's the first page pretty much full.  It's a slightly stressful way of working, I've discovered... if each one is on its own page, if you mess up then it's only that one that's spoiled.  But here, if I do one I'm not happy with, that's in danger of undermining the whole page.  It was touch and go with those pale dried leaves, but I think I pulled it round!

For those who like to know these things, I'm using a Staedtler Pigment Liner 0.3, and Daniel Smith watercolours with Silver Black Velvet brushes, in a Moleskine A4 watercolour journal.

I hope October is treating you well, whatever you're up to, and I'll see you again soon.

I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.
From Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
(And it's on my EAB04 Autumn Edition quote set from PaperArtsy!)