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 29 September 2015

Wilted Violet Moments

Hello all!  Yup, I'm squeezing another post in before the month is out... (It's been a busy few days - there's Steampunk balloon trip, a journalling face of my own, and a Bird Crazy caterpillar picnic to see if you've missed any of them.)

This time it was another irresistible bit of playtime.  I was uncertain about Wilted Violet when it bobbed up this month, not being much of a purple-type.  But on the occasions when I dip in to Seedless Preserves or Dusty Concord I do enjoy myself, so I thought I would give it a go...

Oh dear... it seems Tim knows me better than I know myself - I loved playing with it!  There have been some bolder colour experiments here lately, so maybe I shouldn't be so surprised.

I used the Wilted Violet with my two favourite new colours, Ground Espresso and Hickory Smoke (with a touch of Rusty Hinge thrown in right at the end) and I love the results.

What I found was a connection to the slight melancholy which always overtakes me at this time of year - and these colours really seemed to express it for me beautifully.

Don't get me wrong, I do love autumn, but it always feels like a time of farewells to me; a winding-down, a softening, a transition to the next state.

I'm sharing these two tags together, since I love the light and shade of them, and the subtlety of the shifting colour tones between the two.

The smaller one is actually done on a wooden tag.  I used up some leftover Fresco Chalk paint on it recently and it's been sitting on the table waiting for some more action.

I did a bit of wrinkle-free distressing using Hickory Smoke and Ground Espresso (this is before the Wilted Violet was even announced, I think!).  The pale painted background means you get a really soft subtle effect with the inks.

I stamped the flowers in Ground Espresso and clear embossed them and then used a wash of Chalk again to give them a bit more presence - and that's where the tag stalled awaiting further inspiration.

That arrived in the shape of the Wilted Violet.  Hickory Smoke does have a slightly purply tone to it once it's dry, and so it was crying out to play with the new colour when it got here.

I wanted to use rusty wire to fasten on my WordBand, so I decided a bit of Rusty Hinge would add a helpful warm tone to echo the wire.

I used the Distress Marker to add the colour and a water brush to soften and shade it.  And in places I used some Quin Gold too.

I used it both on the flowers and around the edges of the tag where there was already some clear-embossed Ground Espresso in action.

And there's more rusty wire to complete the simple topping of crinkle ribbon.

The darker tag is probably my favourite of the two (and a current favourite overall, possibly).

I put Hickory Smoke, Ground Espresso and Wilted Violet Distress Stains onto my craft mat and smooshed them onto the tag repeatedly until I liked the look of it.

It was whispering "autumn" to me quite loudly, so I grabbed some wild meadow grasses and layered them on.

They're stamped in Wilted Violet or Ground Espresso or a combination of the two and some are clear-embossed afterwards, though not all of them.

The birds are taking flight, making good their escape to warmer climes.

I've always loved this sentiment - both the thought and the delicate font.  I've only had the small version until now... very happy that this is the first outing for its larger cousin (one of my very few wood-mounted stamps - an indulgence).

It's stamped in Versamark and embossed in Vanilla White so that it pops against the background.

But then I needed one of my ivory card matted backgrounds to complete the look - so that the pale text had a "partner in crime" to echo it.

Again, a simple topping of crinkle ribbon and rusty wire... this tag really pleases me.

I hope you like the pair of them.  I've already been in action again with the Wilted Violet, but you'll have to wait a few days to see what I came up with.  Purple as a new favourite colour... who knew?!

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

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
From Warning by Jenny Joseph

Be eccentric now.  Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
Regina Brett

With the birds spiralling towards warmer climes, I'd like to go Up, Up And Away With A Twist (the twist being autumn colours) at Stamps and Stencils

With paints, inks, embossing powders and rusty wire on paper and on wood, I'd like to offer both tags to the Love to Create challenge in their regular Anything Mixed Media/Creative Goes theme

And the pair of tags form my second entry in Anything Goes with Autumn Colours at Mixed Media World

Monday 28 September 2015

Travelling Calico Steampunk Style

Hello all!  Busy, busy, busy at the moment... I'm trying to make the most of my time before things kick off again work-wise!  I've been playing with some more of the new Steampunk bits and bobs over at Calico Craft Parts.

I've just got a sneak peek for you here, but I hope you'll be able to fly over and see the whole thing.  Gotta fly myself now... happy crafting all!  (How's that for a short post?  Oh, okay, yes... there's more over at Calico - but for once that's quite short too!)

The best way of travel, however, if you aren't in any hurry at all, if you don't care where you are going, if you don't like to use your legs, if you don't want to be annoyed at all by any choice of directions, is in a balloon. In a balloon, you can decide only when to start, and usually when to stop. The rest is left entirely to nature.
From The Twenty One Balloons by William Pene du Bois

Saturday 26 September 2015

Do I dare...

Do I dare show my face at Show Your Face?  I've been watching for a while as some of my favourite crafters share faces of their own creation at Kim Dellow's community link-up, Art It Friday - Show Your Face - there's Kim herself, the wonderful Julie Ann of Magpieheaven is usually there, and Froebelsternchen Susi too, as well as many others.

The idea of Kim's link-up is to share portrait work, to learn, practice, inspire and be inspired. The faces can be of any style or in any medium, but they must be your own work, not created with a stamp or stencil - that's what makes it scary!  I don't know that I'll manage to be a regular, though I know it's regular practice which will help it become less of a scary thing to do, but I'm here to share a face this week.

Regulars will have noticed it's been slightly more colourful round here lately... well, this page started with a full-on blast of colour...  I've seen people having lots of fun with the Dylusions paints, so I was wondering whether I could get a similar blending effect with the Distress Paints.  While I was at it, I decided I should really reach for some of the brighter colours if I wanted to get a Dylusions-style effect.

I'm not exactly sure any more, but I think there's Picked Raspberry involved, Wild Honey, Scattered Straw, Worn Lipstick, some Ripe Persimmon and maybe some Spiced Marmalade.

I spritzed with water and used my fingers to blend and move the paint around.  I really rather liked what I ended up with, but then it sat there in the journal for some weeks not knowing what should happen next.

Finally I decided that, having already leapt quite a long way out of my comfort zone, I should leap a little further and have a play with my newly acquired oil pastels.

And then a little further again... let's try a face with them.  Some of you may remember my little pen and ink doodled faces, and I've doodled faces similar to this in pencil in the margins of scripts for years, but I've never done one on this scale before.  This is a large journal - the pages are 9 x 12 inches.

Once she was there, I added some more familiar touches to try to connect her with things I'm more comfortable with.

So there are some brown stencilled flowers, there's some text stamping...

... and of course some words - stamped in Sepia and clear-embossed...

... and some splatter, naturally.

Then she sat there again for a while, and I would look at her occasionally to see if she wanted anything more.  (You have to look closely, but I promise you the next photo is different from the big one above - an earlier version.)

As I looked, I noticed that the background paint and the white stamping had created a striped top, quite by chance - I hadn't put in any "shoulders" myself at all (just the downward line outlining her neck and one cross stroke to define a clothing neckline) - and that she definitely seemed to be turning her head away from the direction of those shoulders.

I wanted to accentuate the effect, so I got out the oil pastels again and added some more definite shading and lines to help the striped top have more presence, defining the neckline of it a bit.  I shaped her arm reaching out in the opposite direction to where she's looking, and I gave her neck a little more form and substance with some gentle shading.

I also added to the hair (my doodles always have quite a lot of it - wonder why!) to help give the impression of the turned head, a moment of the attention being drawn in another direction.  And (by chance) I think the underlying paint shading on her face helps with that impression of movement.

She does have a disconcerting habit of looking very different in different lights - suddenly she'll burst forth in all that vivid colour, and at other times she's much softer.

I remain unsure whether I don't like the pre-changes version better (check out the equivocal double-negatives in that phrase!!), and I'm still not convinced we're "finished" here... but I think it's time to show my face at Show Your Face and see what you think.

I think your whole life shows in your face and you should be proud of that.
Lauren Bacall

Wednesday 23 September 2015

Crazy Caterpillar

Well, it's been a busy old time here at Words and Pictures, so I'm taking a few days off from Craftyblogland as you read this.  I thought I'd leave you with a bit of fun while I'm having a bit of fun (it's only a couple of days - you won't be rid of me for long!).

This page was just a bit of crazy playtime, letting off steam... so I got out the Crazy Birds.  I tried to feed them a crazy JOFY caterpillar, but I think they're a little bit wary, maybe rightly so!

I'd had the crackly background sitting on the page for a while (and I think it was a cover up of whatever was there before, which I'd given up on), and so I just started stamping JOFY flowers around the place.

I thought they'd make a nice crazy garden setting for the crazy birds.

(I know Cestina will like the "mushrooms".  She's always complaining there aren't enough fungi around here.)

When the crazy caterpillar started climbing one of the stems, I thought, "Ah, crazy dinner!"...

In the long run he got a coat of Glossy Accents and some white doodling.  Maybe that's what scared the crazy birds.

You can tell from the look in his eye that this might mean biting off a bit more than he can chew...

And I think his concerned friend probably agrees!

All the "colouring" is done with PaperArtsy Fresco paints, including on the birds themselves.

There's some Glossy Accents adding light to the butterfly our caterpillar might grow up to be, if the birds don't get him first.

And I've borrowed Alie's trick again of Glossy Accents on the birds' eyes... so that they can keep a beady eye on their prey (or on each other!).

I stamped the words with a Hero Arts alphabet - and added more Fresco paints top and bottom to edge them with "grass" and "sky".

I'm not sure, but I think I prefer the page without the words (though it hasn't got the butterfly either at this stage).  I think the thought is pretty clear even when they're not there.

(Shock, horror!  What, no words?  Now what am I going to call the blog - ... And Pictures?!)

But they're firmly stuck down now, so I guess they're staying... and the birds do look better with a bit of ground to stand on and a bit of shading to bed them in to the page.

So, that's my bit of crazy fun journalling for you.  I'll be back very soon with a slightly more sensible journal page, but one which still has a degree of risk about it.  I remain uncertain whether I'm feeling brave enough to share it... we'll see.

In the meantime, happy crafting all!

The early bird gets the worm.
The early worm... gets eaten.
Norman Ralph Augustine

I'd like to share this with the Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge for their Use a Stamp theme - I've used quite a lot of stamps!
And given that's so, I'd like to play Work It Wednesday at Simon Says Stamp too, where they also want us to Use A Stamp.

Saturday 19 September 2015

STAMPtember with Simon Says Stamp and PaperArtsy

Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather when I got an email from Stephanie Leykauf inviting me to be a part of STAMPtember for Simon Says Stamp!  I'm still slightly dazed...

The whole month is a celebration of stamps and stamping (as well as some of the stuff that goes along with them) and today the STAMPtember post on the Simon Says Stamp blog is a special PaperArtsy feature, and I'm delighted to say I'm there helping to showcase their fabulous stamps and paints and glazes.  

I'm so excited to be involved, because I can still vividly remember Tim Holtz's amazing tag video from my first encounter with STAMPtember in 2012.  I'd only been stamping and inking for a few months by then, and although I'd watched plenty of Tim's videos, this one just blew me away.

Inspired by him, I've worked on tags today, and I've tried to make the most of my stamps.  So, I've used them as focal images, to add background detail and also to create my dimensional embellishments.  I've even both tapped and swiped my ink onto my stamps as Tim did in the video.

I would love it if you could hop over to see the post, and leave a comment there to let me know what you think.  Simon Says Stamp are having all sorts of giveaways to celebrate STAMPtember, so just for leaving a comment there you could find yourself winning a prize.

Not only that, but there's a special 20% discount on PaperArtsy stock at the Simon Says Stamp store if you use the code ARTSY2S as in the banner above.  It's valid until Monday so enjoy yourselves.

Creating the tags was pure pleasure.  I started by putting on some Fresco paint (this version uses Granny Smith and Captain Peacock from the new Limited Edition release, but you can get a similar effect with some Beach Hut, Guacamole and Hey Pesto) quite roughly - doesn't matter much at this stage because...

... the next stage is to cover it with PaperArtsy Crackle Glaze and then, once that's dry (which you can speed up with a heat gun) I added a mixture of Chalk and Snowflake to get a soft white.  This stage you probably don't want to speed up with a heat gun - you can, but then you get very large, much less subtle cracks.

You can see I left an area on each of the tags uncrackled.  I'm perfectly happy to stamp over crackle - I do it all the time and it works beautifully - but this was an extra refinement to leave a bit of clear stamping space.

I stamped my images in Coffee Archival with some Potting Soil added in places for some darker shading.  The main images are from the Hot Picks range, HP1305, HP1506 and 1507.

I added some extra text for background detail - using the surround of the flower stamp from 1305, but inking it by sweeping the pad across it rather than tapping down.  That way you get a much lighter ink application, like a secondary stamping.

And then I started playing with paint!  All the colour on these tags is done with PaperArtsy Fresco Finish Chalk Paints.

One of the great things about PaperArtsy Fresco Paints is they vary between opaque, semi-opaque and translucent - so you can get great coverage with the opaques, or you can use a translucent if you want a lighter, see-through effect.

Now, I'm a great lover of translucence, so I quite often turn even the opaque colours into translucents by adding water to make them into washes.  In fact, I did almost all the painting on these using water brushes.  The joy for me of using translucent colour is you can build up the layers and keep the benefit of all the previous layers shining through.

So for instance, the blue-green butterflies have layers of Captain Peacock, Beach Hut, Granny Smith, Hey Pesto and even some Chalk in places - all of which gives you that lovely look of variegated butterfly wings.

For the flowers it's a similar process.  I tend to start with lighter shades and add my darks for additional shading or to zhuzh up the colour.

The leaves have layers of Guacamole, Granny Smith, Hey Pesto and Hyde Park all in there.

The large tulip started with some Orchid and Professor Plum, then some Claret gave it some extra depth, and then some London Bus to give it a bit of oomph.

I always stroke the paint in the direction of the petals - then, if there are any brush strokes visible once it's dried, they will only help with the look of the thing.

Once the main elements were dry, I gave them a coat of PaperArtsy Gloss Glaze.  This gives them a lovely sheen, and also creates a seal or resist for the next stage which is to put the very light washes onto the background (Beach Hut, Mermaid, Granny Smith, Glass Blue, Southern Skies all taking part, but all diluted with water, even the ones which are already translucent).

The resist means that even if you go over onto other areas - such as the clock - its whiteness is preserved.  You have some resist time to catch the erring paint with some paper towel!

You can see I also stamped some separate butterflies to make my embellishments.  They've also had a coat of Gloss Glaze to keep them shimmering in the sun.

I love that this way you can give them some dimension and let them alight or almost take off from the surface of the tag.

Finally, I added some words (you'll notice from the name of the blog that they're quite important to me too!) using one of the new Simon Says Stamp STAMPtember releases, Big Hugs.

The words come as separate stamps so you can mix and match the phrases to suit your project.  I thought they worked quite nicely with the PaperArtsy stamps.  And the perfect positioning for each phrase on each tag gave me a perfect rising line of words across the trio - pure luck, I assure you!

I hope you like the tags.  You can find all of the products I used today at Simon Says Stamp.  They've got all the links beautifully lined up for you on their blogpost!  As I say, it would be brilliant if you could let them know what you think over there, and you might win a prize for doing so!

I'm actually demo-ing on the PaperArtsy stand at Ally Pally today, so the timing of this seems appropriate.  Big thanks to Stephanie and the team at Simon Says Stamp for inviting me to be part of the STAMPtember celebrations this year - I'm so honoured, and it's a real thrill!

The arts, quite simply, nourish the soul. They sustain, comfort, inspire. There is nothing like that exquisite moment when you first discover the beauty of connecting with others in celebration of larger ideals and shared wisdom.
Gordon Gee