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 30 January 2015

A Game of Two Halves

Hello all!  Here's a post I wasn't expecting to offer up... my take on Tim's January tag.  I really didn't think I'd be playing along this month.  Truth be told, it wasn't my favourite Tim tag ever - sorry! - but now I take it all back...  I had a great time with it.  I should have known better really - after all, the tag this month is all about the words.

And now I'm not only here but I have two versions!

It all happened because I was putting off planning the workshops I was supposed to be planning!

Suddenly I found myself at the craft table and when I tore off my tissue wrap the piece was big enough for two tags, so that's what I made.

I thought I'd play with my two favourite colour-ways - the vivid blue/greens I favour in Jan/Feb and my all-time top combination of brown and blue.  And suddenly I found myself on an altogether unexpected journey into the duality of my life.

(I pretty much followed Tim's tutorial to the letter, so you can't do better than find out from the man himself how it's all done.)

As many of you know, I'm incredibly fortunate to have a real-world job which means I get to be creative with words (not just any words, but most of the time the best words ever - written by William Shakespeare).

However, that work requires intense people-focussed energy; a strength, generosity and positivity on others' behalves; not to mention a lot of travel; and listening, listening, listening with all of yourself.

All well and good... it's work which is massively stimulating, very exciting, usually highly fulfilling - always learning, exploring, inventing and discovering.  You constantly work with new people - a fresh company of actors to play with each time.

On top of all that, I get to work with words I'm passionate about.  I get to share that passion and inspire others to be amazed, curious and excited about those words.

I know I'm extraordinarily lucky.


There's the other part of me - probably the major component of me - which needs to close the door, turn the phone to silent and leave the world behind.

The part of me which finds solace in books and music and nature...

... and perhaps above all in silence.

It's one of the reasons this crafty pastime fits me so well.  When I'm at the craft table, engaged with the journey taking place on the mat in front of me, hours can go by without me noticing.

I love being in the moment - focussed, in a state of "flow".  I get to experience that at work too, but here I'm not offering that energy up to others.  It can circle round and refresh me.

I've worked out as I've got older that the quiet time is an absolute necessity to keep me on an even keel.  Without it, chaos is likely to ensue.

As long as I know there are quiet times coming up, I thrive on the busy-busy...  One of the reasons these tags got made is that the more I'm doing, the more I do.

But it's only because I know there are havens of peace on the horizon and that, once the doing is done, I can close the door and melt into the solitude.

That's more than I'm used to sharing... but these tags opened up an internal conversation and it seemed right to let that conversation continue here.

Obviously, if you've just been looking at the pretty pictures, that's perfectly fine by me!!

So big thanks go to Tim for an inspiration tag which took me on a completely unexpected journey - my favourite sort! - and thanks to you for your company on this longer creative journey.  It's a joy to share the travelling with you.

Without Contraries is no progression. Attraction and Repulsion, Energy and Reason, Love and Hate are necessary to human existence.
William Blake

I'd like to enter these as my version(s) of the January Tag in Tim Holtz's 12 Tags of 2015.
And I'd also like to add them as another Fresh Start over at the Inspiration Journal, sponsored by the Inspiration Emporium.

Thursday 29 January 2015

Through the arched window...

Okay, that post title dates me... anyone for Play School?!  Welcome all.  I'm here with my second inspiration offering for this month's Country View Challenges theme to Use Something New To Me, and I've been working with the Wallflower Vellum again.

This time, rather than candle-light, I decided to work with natural light to illuminate my vellum.

One of the things which delights me about the vellum is how it changes according to the light, and that's what I wanted to take advantage of.

So I put it in an arched window.

It's really a very simple tag...

I cut the aperture using one of the Movers & Shapers Sized Arches, and added DecoArt Media Texture Sand Paste through a Prima brick stencil.

In places, I just smoothed the paste on directly, to give an impression of the stones being worn away with time.

I then used various Fresco paints to build up layers of colour.

There's some dry-brushing to highlight the texture, and some dark green for an aged mossy look.

The "window" was easy.  I just selected the part of the vellum page I wanted to use and cut it to fit the arch aperture.

I've gone for a window celebrating the beauty of the natural world... like Edmund in King Lear, my cry would be: Thou, Nature, art my goddess!

In further celebration of nature I added one of my favourite of her manifestations - some ivy - cut out of Kraft Core with the Spring Greenery Decorative Strip Die.

The ChitChat stickers add just a little thought to take with you on the journey.

And some simple undyed ribbon and twine make for a monastically austere topping.

I'm pretty pleased with how this changes according to the angle the light strikes it.  With the sunlight directly behind you get something very dramatic indeed!

I'm trying to be quick (with limited success) as you've only got two more days to come and play along. (Can you believe it's almost the end of January already?)  Use Something New To You, and you could be in with a chance at winning a voucher from our generous sponsor Country View Crafts.  And if you simply can't wait to go shopping, you'll find some product links below!

Thanks so much for stopping by today.  I'm flitting around the place for workshops for the next few days, but as long as I can get the hotel wifi to work on my various stopovers, I hope to be hopping around Craftyblogland to see what you've been up to... after all, what better way to while away an evening away from home?! See you soon.

Where there is much light, the shadows are deepest.

There are two kinds of light - the glow that illumines, and the glare that obscures.
James Thurber

Ingredients (or similar) available at Country View Crafts:
Tim Holtz Wallflower Vellum Stash
PaperArtsy Fresco Paints
Manila Tags
Tim Holtz Spring Greenery Decorative Strip Die
Tim Holtz Movers & Shapers Sized Arches
Brick Stencil similar to this one
Ranger Texture Paste
Palette Knife
Idea-ology ChitChat Stickers
Picket Fence Distress Paint

Monday 26 January 2015

The hand of a master...

Hello all... I've been journalling a lot recently (a subconscious resolution which seems to have taken hold - I was at it again at The Artistic Stamper over the weekend!), and today I'm sharing another exploration.

It started as a first attempt for the Vintage Journey recent Use A Portrait challenge, but I couldn't quite get it to go anywhere satisfying at the time.  But I let it sit and simmer for a little longer and now I think it's found its way to where it wants to be (for now, at any rate).

I'd like to share it over at Art Journal Journey where the January prompt is Inspired by the Masters.

I think it's pretty clear which particular master is involved in my page ... Leonardo da Vinci's Head of a Woman, also known as La Scapigliata, takes centre stage (as well as hovering in the background), and the words are his too.

I wouldn't begin to claim to be working in his style - so I hope it still counts for the AJJ prompt - but I have always been inspired by his drawings.  In fact, I've used La Scapigliata before, very early in my crafting days.

Seeing his cartoon of The Virgin and Child with St Anne and John the Baptist on a school trip was the first time I experienced the profound effect a piece of art can have on you.  I stood in front of it for half the visit, and missed lots of the things we were supposed to be looking at as a result!

Although I'm not trying to "do a Leonardo", the colours remind me of the cartoons...

... and I've also tried to capture something of a Renaissance fresco look...

... with plenty of distressed crackle...

... and weathered texture.

I started with adding some structural texture in the pages of an altered book created on the France Papillon workshop I was lucky enough to attend late last year.

I hope to get around to showing you what we got up to on the workshop some time soon - at least before we get to 2016.  I think these pages are influenced by her art too.

Once the tissue tape, lace, papers, stamping and some Archival stencilling were in place, I added crackle texture through a stencil as well as just smearing it on in some areas freehand.

After that was crackled, it was out with the Distress Sprays... Vintage Photo, Walnut Stain and Stormy Sky to start with.

Then a round of slightly more vivid colours, adding in Rusty Hinge and Faded Jeans.

There may be some others too.

I love how the colours have interacted with the textures to create whole new shades!

Now on to the focal points... Leonardo da Vinci's words and pictures.

I printed La Scapigliata onto some regular paper, and then also printed the image in various sizes onto tissue paper so that I could play games with it amidst all that texture.

The small version hovers almost on the periphery of your awareness, softly contemplative, and with a touch of sorrow too - partly because of those tear-stained spatters.

And I love how the large version hovers protectively over the main portrait.

The words are attributed to Leonardo...

I think they are very beautiful...

And probably true...

I hope you like my Leonardo-inspired pages.  There'll be some more art journalling along soon!!  Happy crafting, all.

I'd like to enter this in Inspired by the Masters at Art Journal Journey
And at the Inspiration Journal I'd like to join in celebrating A Fresh Start with all this journalling energy

Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.
Leonardo da Vinci
How's that for Words and Pictures?!

Saturday 24 January 2015

Photo Friendly

Hello all... I'm so glad you liked my vintage book board and enjoyed the story of the Russian bride and groom - though I fear it may not be a "happily ever after" ending.

I seem to be on a bit of a run of vintage photo-inspired creations.

I'm back today to tempt you over to The Artistic Stamper Creative Team Blog where I'm sharing an art journal page with another photo at its heart.

All the usual suspects are in place... blues, browns, crackle, book pages, butterflies, and some rusty accents - it's yet another variation on my favourite themes.

I hope you'll have time to hop over to The Artistic Stamper and check it out while I'm busy with my tax return.

And I also hope to be able to use my Sunday to return some of your generous visits... as long as it all goes smoothly!!

Everything has the potential to be extraordinary, whether an old photograph, a book, or a life.  If you find it ordinary, you simply need to take a closer look.
Claire Cameron

Friday 23 January 2015

Love is in the air

... or is it?  Hello all and welcome.  It's challenge time.

The amazing Astrid is our host this fortnight at A Vintage Journey and, according to the challenge theme, Love Is In The Air!

As usual, my wonderful team-mates have come up with a wealth of inspiration for you, all with a Tim Holtz twist (we certainly all love Tim Holtz at any rate!), but before you hop off to check it out, here's my offering for you.

And love is in the air... but it's under considerable pressure, I'm afraid.

I thought I would use an old hardback book cover as my substrate.  I have a bunch of them, removed and preserved from disintegrating books during our big house move just over a year ago.

I happened to pull this one out of the shelf, and was delighted to find that, unusually, there was some ephemera on the inside leaf... and that inspired the direction I took with the piece.

The book was a copy of Six Months in Red Russia, by Louise Bryant, first published in 1918.  She was an American journalist who spent time in Russia before and during the revolution.  (If you've seen the film Reds, partly based on her writings, she's played by Diane Keaton.)

On the inside cover there's a Russian letter - a permit to travel, according to the blurb underneath - the perfect ephemera to provide a background for this pair from the Idea-ology Found Relatives (I've just re-appropriated it from Louise Bryant and re-written it in their names - in my head, that is, not actually!).

Suddenly they started to talk to me...

Here they are... a young Russian couple, caught up in the maelstrom of events.  The arranged marriage had to take place in a hurry to allow the two of them to travel together out of the country, to try to find a safe refuge from the turmoil.

The young man is filled with the excitement of the adventure, optimistic about the future and what it holds.  His slightly older bride looks considerably more wary, unsure about the wisdom of what they're doing.

The book page hearts echo the letters in the background, but the crackle and rusty wire perhaps show that all is not simple and straightforward between these two.

They have a long and dangerous journey ahead of them, even with the letters permitting them to travel through the country and across the border.

You have to wonder how much it cost their respective families to get those letters signed, and who they had to bribe for the travel tickets.

Although she has now committed her life to her new husband, and they must depend upon one another, obviously she still thinks about the family she has left behind.

Her thoughts are bound up in the letters she writes, never knowing if they will reach their destination.

She has brought mementos from home: a piece of her childhood bedroom wallpaper, snipped from behind the headboard of the bed, so nobody will notice it's gone; a portion of the lace her mother so carefully chose to adorn the wedding dress - already torn and stained with travel.

The dress itself had to be left behind - there's no room in the luggage they carry for anything but absolute necessities.

His constant urging is that she should look on the bright side, encourage her hopes not her fears.

He has promised to take care of her, to cherish her, and he will find a way to do that however far from home they have to travel.

I hope the distressed state of the book board is not a sign that their marriage is already fraying around the edges...

I hope that he is right to indulge in his high hopes for the days, months and years stretching out ahead of them...

I hope that love will strengthen them as they journey together through the world and through their lifetime together...

I hope...

(You may have noticed in the past that Valentine's Day is rarely pink and fluffy round here at Words and Pictures!!)

In any case, I do hope this hanging has offered you some inspiration for the challenge.  Do hop over to see what my team-mates have been creating for you, and we'd love to have you join us for this leg of the journey now that Love Is In The Air.

Check out all the challenge details as well as our Travelling Instructions to make sure you qualify for the prize voucher, generously sponsored by Country View Crafts.

Apologies that I'm somewhat missing in action again at the moment - it's a busy start to the year work-wise and crafting-wise, and there's the dreaded tax return still hovering.  I hope to be back visiting very soon.  Would so much rather come and see you all than do my tax return!!

We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word is spoken.
Fyodor Dostoevsky

Circumstances define us; they force us on to one road or another, and then they punish us for it.
Ivan Turgenev

All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love.
Leo Tolstoy

I'm entering the lovely Choose Your Challenge at Craft Hoarders Anonymous - they have a chart and you need to include one ingredient from each list on your project. So I have Colouring Medium - Ink, Fibre - Lace, Technique - Die-cutting, Texture - Distressing and Wire, Embellishing - Eyelets and Ephemera
I'd also like to enter this at The Inspiration Journal where they are looking for A Fresh Start... a January anything goes, really.
And at Anything But A Card they are looking for New Beginnings, and since this Russian couple really are looking for a fresh start, it seems right!