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...

Thursday 18 October 2012

Permanent Ghosts

Hello all, and welcome to a very special post here today at Words and Pictures.  I am thrilled and delighted to be the inaugural guest at Our Creative Corner's new look Top Talent Thursday (a slot earned for me by my Musical Notes).

Rather than Guest Designing alongside the amazing Design Team, I have been invited to create my own personal "Anything Goes" project, and have also answered a comprehensive questionnaire - so the curious can hop over to Our Creative Corner and hear me spill the beans!

As for the project... well, as you know "Anything Goes" is a wonderful gift, and a scarily open proposition: I can do anything... but what?!  Well, in the end, it all happened accidentally, and I arrived at this "canvas":

To tell the truth, there wasn't really any planning to this piece.  It developed out of simply sitting at the desk and playing.

I was experimenting with some new Artistic Outpost stamps and the metallic Distress Stains I ordered from the Funkie Junkie Boutique (after winning a 25% reduction in Frilly and Funkie's Sunday Share - too good a chance to miss to add these to my stash).

My chief crafting obsession is with stamping and inking, and this Think and Wonder set from Artistic Outpost had caught my eye whenever I saw anyone using it out in Craftyblogland, most often over at the AO creative blog.  So when they arrived in my hands, I just wanted to ink them up and try them out.

I was also messing about with the metallic Distress Stains, trying out different colour combinations, marbling them onto tags using Tim Holtz's Marbled Stain technique (Compendium of Curiosities II), so it made sense to try out the stamps onto these backgrounds with their lustrous sheen.

After stamping, I also added some Perfect Pearls powder in places, for extra gleam - the patina of the past.

I was, of course, working in my favourite colour palette of blues and browns, with the odd bit of Pumice Stone (a new favourite) thrown in.

And before long, I had lots of tags lying on the desk looking up at me, with the haunting beauty of the little girl, and the tight grip of the handhold of the brother and sister repeated over and over again.

Looking at them lying there, I suddenly realised I had the core of a piece right there.

I have very hazy memories of most of my childhood, but there are some moments that stand out with diamond clarity - and many of those have my little brother in sharp focus:

I remember the wind on my face as I ran across the school field when I saw that he was being bullied by some older boys (the only time I ever ran faster than my best friend who ran for the County!)...

I remember the silly game we were playing in the garden just before our parents told us they were separating...

I remember lots of explosive quarrels and lots of shared laughter... and I identify so strongly with the mixture of trepidation and determination I see in their faces, and that shared grip.

Strange how memory works... and creativity.

So, I had all these tags, and I knew they needed to be together... but how?  I needed to create some kind of frame or mount for them.  Again, serendipity lent a hand.  Amongst the house-clearing we're doing (see the questionnaire over at OCC), I found a discarded picture frame, the mountboard of which turned out to be the perfect size to hold eight of my favourite experiments.

I turned to my current favourite texture creator - tissue paper, and then the battles began!

I had in my head the idea that I wanted the tags to be embedded in their background, or somehow growing out of it.

So I had to create spaces within the texture to fit the tags.  It took lots of tearing, and gluing and messy moulding around a spare tag, but eventually I got somewhere.

Then I started painting, spraying and spritzing - I went through many layers and colours via gesso, acrylics, ColorWash sprays and Perfect Pearls Mists.  

Some were disastrous, and I thought I would have to start all over again, but finally the shade and patina seemed to work with the tags rather than against them.

All this time, my mind was wandering in search of a quote that was flickering in and out of focus in my head - something about childhood and loss of innocence, but I couldn't quite summon it to the surface.

So I went off to do a Google search (what did we do before Google - or indeed the internet generally?!), and on my keyboard travels I stumbled upon the quote by Cynthia Ozick which now sits at the centre of this piece.

I could hardly believe my eyes when I found it... I had to keep re-reading it to make sure it wasn't my imagination - how could it be so perfect?  I mean, "stamped, inked, imprinted" - come on!

I created another marbled background on plain paper, and stamped the quote using my little £1 alphabet.  I backed it onto some metal mesh from the Funkie Junkie Boutique, and played for a while with the placing on the board.

Without any punctuation, I needed to let the spacing do the phrasing for me, so it was really important to get it right.  Some words are glued using flat tape, and some using padded tape, so that there's variety in the dimensionality of how the words come up to greet you and overlap each other.

The clocks - TH Idea-ology - were obvious embellishments given the journeys into the past, and the cogs and gears are touching on that idea of the workings of memory and the mind.

Because there are metallic sheens of all sorts, I mixed and match the metals I chose for the clock faces and hands and for the gears - each of them picks up something going on in the colours of the tags and the background.

I didn't want to disguise the fact that it was all built around tags, so I added twine to each tag top, and ended up loving the added texture it gave.

I'll leave you with a few extra shots - as I've shown you lots of individual elements, but I think it's in how they collide that the meaning grows...

Thank you so much for visiting Words and Pictures today - I'd love to know what you made of my "accidental" project... I value your comments and feedback so deeply.  And do take a trip to Our Creative Corner - especially if you've never been before.  They run wonderful challenges, and there's always fantastically inspirational work from the amazing design team.  I'd like to say a big thank you to them for inviting me round to play this week in the brand new look Top Talent Thursday - I've had a wonderful time!

I'm entering this for the following
Simon Says Stamp and Show want to see our Favourites - I'm sticking with stamping and inky backgrounds
The Artistic Outpost October challenge which is Anything Goes using an AO stamp
A third and final entry for the Anything Goes challenge at the Crafty Bloggers Network
At Sugar Creek Hollow, they'd like us to Show Some Sparkle - it's perhaps more of a gleam, but with lots of mica powder, the metallic Distress Stains, and the Perfect Pearls Mists there's a lustre about this which I hope qualifies it
The Vintage Stamping Challenge are on their inaugural Anything Goes challenge
There's an Anything Goes at the Deep Ocean Challenge Blog too
And with the metal mesh, AO stamps and metallic Distress Stains all from the Funkie Junkie Boutique, I'm really going to have to add it to the Sunday Share at Frilly and Funkie - since it was the products themselves which were the real kickstart to this piece

I don't feel I want to add a separate quote to this post - the project one speaks clearly enough:

What we remember from childhood, we remember forever: permanent ghosts, stamped, inked, imprinted, eternally seen.
Cynthia Ozick


Andrea Small said...

ooh - no time to luxuriate in this until later today, but just wanted to say CONGRATULATIONS! x

annes paperfun said...

Wow..wow..wow... your work is gorgeous..
Love it!! ♥♥♥
Hugs, Anne

Julia S-W said...

Crumbs - if this is what you produce as an accident, what on earth will we see when you plan meticulously??!! I adore the child images and that quote is so perfect, no wonder you had to re-read it. The colours are beautifully vintage and atmospheric. Think I need to did out my stains and have a play too. A wonderful piece Alison. Please send me a small package of your mojo - mine is off on holiday at quite the wrong time!

Sue said...

Wow seems very inadequate, but WOW. A fabulous project and a tiny insight into your thought processes. Congratulations on your guest spot - very well deserved. Sue x

Inkypinkycraft said...

Congratulations on your guest spot and with this stunning piece , I am not surprised!! Your work is full of beauty and technque and an understated gentleness and beauty...love this and the quote is wonderful! Another stunner Alison! Trace x

Cestina said...

This made me cry - and you will understand what that means. AMLx

Kate Yetter said...

One fabulous piece, Alison! The texture in the background is stunning. I love how you ghost stamped and repeated similar images on the tags. Congrats on your guest designer spot. I am going to head over and check out your interview.

Paper Profusion said...

Hi Alison, I love your project. It is very beautifully crafted and is so particularly special because of your personal story attached to it. You will be a hard 'Top Talent Thursday' act to follow! Nicola x

Deborah said...

I thibk Julia and Sue have already said what I planned to write. Just stunning!

Jenny Marples said...

So how do you follow that? It's gonna take something special from next week's talent:) Congratulations on this honour and blimey oh riley didn't you do it justice! Fantastic to see the evolution of this piece and hear what it means to you. Best of luck with the house clearance. Hugs as ever, Buttons x

Sarah said...

This piece is hauntingly beautiful and one of your best works to date.
Your latest honor is so well deserved. Congratulations!

Gio said...

Apart the technical difficulties that show how a good artist you are , this piece comes straight from you heart and due to this is a very special one.

House of Bears said...

Oh my, what you produce by just playing is as stunning s anything planned. We must find some new adjectives for describing your work, we fear we're getting a bit boring but your work really does have the wow factor. Off to read your interview now, congrats.

Love the bears x

Angela D said...

Great project, thanks for joining us over at the CBN Challenge this month
Crafty Bloggers Network DT
My Blog: A Crafty Blether

froebelsternchen said...

oh my gosh! genius!


Claudia N. said...

This time, Alison,

I am really sad because of my insufficent English skills. They could never express what feelings and thoughts your stunning artwork evoked in me.

Do you know that feeling - when something not only catches your eye but goes so much deeper - directly to the core in an instant? Touching and evoking signals deep in your soul, you cannot even name...?

That is how I feel right now. And will be feeling for quite a while.

Thank you so much!

Claudia xxx

Yvonne Garner said...

You have left me absolutely breathless! A once in a lifetime piece, never forgotten. Thank you for sharing I with all of us. Best, Yvonne

Anna-Karin said...

Wow, Alison, I think this is my favourite project of yours, and I love everything you do. All the tags are wonderful, love the stamping and inking. The background is so cool! And that qoute was absolutely perfect. Thank you for sharing with us at Simon Says Stamp and Show!

Mrs.B said...

Hi Alison, Stunning.............
I feel as if I say the same everytime I visit, but once again a truly wonderful piece, with such hauntingly beautiful images and the perfect quote.
Avril xx

Andrea Small said...

Hello again. I've had a chance to luxuriate now and I find myself in the unfamiliar position of not knowing what to say. The emotional impact of this is so great, it goes to a place in me that is beyond words, or before words perhaps. Something about belonging...connection...to/with people and time. I just want to keep looking x

Shelby said...

Another beautiful masterpiece! You could be crowned the Queen of Vintage. I absolutely adore the sentiment you've used and all of the other elements work beautifully together.


Redanne said...

Firstly, many congratulations and haven't you done them proud. I doubt anyone following you can top this gorgeous piece of work. Words fail me - how do you describe such a perfect piece - perfection I guess! Love the story attached to your piece too and loved your interview as well. You are such an inspiration Alison! Crafty hugs, Anne x

sam21ski said...

What an absolutely fabulous canvas Alison, I just love how you've used the tags. The images and ghosting is fantastic.

Sam xxx

pearshapedcrafting said...

Absolutely stunned!.....and then you made me cry! Fantastic post! Chrisx

Silvia(Barnie) said...

Congrats on your guest spot - well desevered. You've created a masterpiece with so many fantastic details. Just outstanding. Thanks for joining us at Vintage Stamping Challenges.

Chrissy said...

Amazing project and post Alison, stirred up a lump in my throat, as I can relate to so much..beautiful images and love the softness of colour, and textures, and all the details...beautiful.


Janny Jager said...

Wowwwwwwwwww what a great piece of art is this Alison.
With a lot of lovely details.
Love it
Congrats on your quest spot.

Greetings Janny

Daniele said...

what an amazing piece of art, just loving all the texture the backgrounds of the tags and stamping is just ummy

Lucy said...

This is wonderful, Alison! That is such an evocative stamp as it always makes me think of my brother too, although the roles/ages are reversed,

Lucy x

Craft Addicts - Tracy Evans said...

Congratulations on your guest spot, so well deserved. This pieces fabulous, I love how,the tags appear to be embedded in the tissue, lovely idea. Love the muted colours, a favourite colour palette of mine and I love your use of the AO images. Thanks so much for joining in the Simin Says Stamp and Show Challenge. Tracy x

Asia King (aka Joanna K) said...

Wooooooow, I mean WOOOOW! This is a truly gorgeous piece of art Alison. So much beautiful vintagness to look at, the textures and soft shades - amazing my friend! xx

JoZart Designs said...

What a remarkably stunning project. I took a stroll through some other pages on your blog and decided I must become a follower!
thanks for your comment and you spied my TH cargo box, which I love. It is so useful when I demonstrate at shows but I'm disappointed as I took it to the WOYWW crop and a lock fastener dropped off! If you decide to get one check them out.
It opens out in tiers with cantilevered trays so all your inks and bottles are readily available.
Lv Jo x

Bonnie Irvine said...

This piece is hauntingly beautiful. Absolutely stunning both artistically and in its power to evoke such strong emotions.I love the stories you told when explaining your process...what a wonderful gift you've given us. Thank you.

Fallingladies said...

This is great and you're right, that quote is so,perfect!

Lisa Somerville said...

Stunning Canvas Allison! Love the ghosting of the images, added embellies! Fab piece! Thanks for your continued support of Artistic Outpost!

Barb said...

OMG, what an amazing creation !

chrissie said...

This is just so amazing and how wonderful that it just grew from ideas -I would love that to happen as it obviously shows in the final artwork.

Well deserved guest spot for sure

Love Chrissie xx

Brenda Brown said...

This is indeed a very deep and wonderful post and work of art Alison. Your tags are beautiful as individual pieces and collectively, they sit together perfectly and the ghosts shine out to the world. Congratulations on your guest DT spot, you have created a very inspirational piece.
Hugs Brenda xox

Anonymous said...

Fabulous post as always Alison. Really enjoyed reading it. This project is just incredible. You take stamping to a whole new level. What a talented and inspiring lady you are. Have a wonderful weekend.
Regards Florence xx

Andrea said...

what a beautiful 'accident' and thank you for sharing such personal and powerful memories, to attach such personal reflections and memories to your work is a wonderful talent that you have and you express it beautifully both in your words and images. I'm so pleased you found the perfect quote its amazing and the end result is stunning. I actually hopped over to say hi and thanks for visiting me, now I'm your newest follower. I cant wait to visit again best wishes ,have a fab weekend x ,

Netty said...

Terrific canvas and loving all the wonderful embellies. Annette x

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your guest spot. What an incredible piece you have created for them.
I am hesitant of using the word captivating as I use it so often when commenting on your art.
There is a beautiful mystery to this piece, as though we only know half the story and a wonderful sense of serenity to it.

Anita Houston The Artful Maven said...

I had no idea OCC was doing this...BRAVO!!! I will read all about it! This project of yours is AMAZING!!!! Oh the texture...yummy! The images are innocent yet invoke a sense of spookiness! Love love love the dark palette! You have outdone yourself here!

Daniele said...

just popped back to say I'm so glad you joined us at Sugar Creek Hollow, still in awe of your amazing piece of art

May said...

O MY WORD!!! Alison this is AmAzing work... WOW, WOW, WOW,... words can't describe how fabulous this work of art is!!it is such a pleasure to visit your blog it Really is... Your creative mind is so inspiring... Hugs May x x x

Congrats on your Guest spot so well deserved!! x x

sandysewin said...

What a lovely piece. The quote is perfect, as are all the TH gears & such. It all works together just right. :-)

Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier.

Belated Happy Woyww!

Sandy #23

Candy C said...

Alison...oh my gosh! This is another fabulously creative piece! I LOVE it and all of your instructions! Thank you for All of the very sweet comments you leave on my blog. I read to them and they are much appreciated....especially From someone as creative and talented as you are. Hugs, Candy

Franz♥ said...

Hi hun! Your tags are too cool! Thanks for sharing them with us at Deep Ocean for our Anything goes challenge :)

Hugs, Franz.

Hettie said...

This is just beautiful Alison and love the fact that you have shared the story behind the piece and how you put it together. Simply stunning. Well done!

Princess Judy Palmer said...

Another fabulous piece! I'd like to borrow your creative brain for a day or two and just explore inside of it.

I love how this piece has special meaning to you and that you shared it with us.

I have a little brother also and we were thicker than thieves growing up. It was us against the world. I never understood people who quarreled all the time with their brothers.

SueH said...

What an amazing piece of work Alison, I love the subtle shades you’re used.

Happy Crafting!

Marjie Kemper said...

Oh, Alison, this is just unbelievably gorgeous! I bet you smile each time you look at it... what a treasure... I love the way you varied the height on the words and I'm with you on how utterly cool it is that the quote including 'stamped, inked, imprinted'! Congrats on your guest spot at OCC... very well deserved!

Lisa Minckler said...

Ohhh YEAHHHH!! Such glorious feedback you've received on this magnificent canvas Alison :) I'm thoroughly taking in every little bit of it as I STILL listen to the song link playing on my computer..LOL. LOVE IT! You have a true talent of making your art speak volumes.

Shirl said...

A well deserved guest spot Alison and wow have you pushed the boat out this is just totally amazing. The colours and total creativity is outstanding.

Thank you for sharing with us on our very first Vintage Stamping Challenge.

Hugs Shirley x x

Anonymous said...

Wow Alison, what an amazing project ! i love how you've created the background (I really need to get my hands on the metallic Distress Stains!) and the stamping, as usual, is fantastic ! Thanks for sharing it with us at VSC. Sue C x

Linda Coughlin, the funkie junkie said...

I think you need to slap me upside the head, Alison! I can't believe I never got by to say 1) how amazing this piece of work is, 2) congratulate you on being our first Top Talent Thursday artist and 3) say thank you for sharing your amazing talent with us at Sunday Share over at Frilly and Funkie! So now I'm saying all of that and more - your work is always so inspirational and I can't tell you how much I enjoy every new piece you share. Sorry I am so late getting around to thanking you for sharing in all of these venues.