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...

Monday 27 February 2017

Hessian Hearts

Hello all!  It's sneak peek time here amidst all the watercolour wanderings and oxide experimentation.  I'm hoping to tempt you over to Destination Inspiration at A Vintage Journey to see what I've made with this month's travel bag contents.

I felt pretty at home with most of the ingredients, but the designated colour for this month was way out of my comfort zone.  I hope you'll have time to hop over and see how I coped!  Have a great week, everyone.

If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing. 
Marc Chagall

Saturday 25 February 2017

Two Tree Doodles

Watercolour time again...  After a little Infusions diversion and a quick outing for some Distress Oxide experiments, we've moved from Watery Florals to the first of quite a lot of trees coming your way.  These were doodles playing with colours and brushstrokes, just trying to stay loose and free and not think too much.  Oh, and the people are back!

The tree was the start of this little doodle, and then I thought I'd risk putting some more of my little figures into the landscape.  (If you missed the first little people, you'll find them amongst the Mixing and Daubing.)

I like the soft colour tones here - no surprise, I suppose, given it's a variation on blues and browns.  (Bah - I haven't written the colours down again - not good practice if I ever want to try this combination again.  I'll have to waste time trying to work out what they were.)

I was very happy with my accidental brook bubbling between the moorland hillocks and grasses.

And I am enjoying the tiny people - there's a delightful tightrope walk between control and chance in how they turn out.

It's good for me not to be completely in control!

So that's tree number one.

We're still on the large 9 x 12 Canson pad, and you've probably already caught a glimpse of the second tree I'm sharing today... it's on the same page.

This fir tree is rather large.  It takes up half the page in landscape, so it's nearly 9 inches tall.

I just had a lovely time playing with the brush strokes...

... trying to keep a fluidity and flow in the paint...

... but dropping in more colours in places to give variations in the light and shadows in the depth of the branches.

I'm pretty pleased with the trunk too, and I think I could do a similar thing again, which is after all the point of all this playing and practising.

Altogether, this was a happy page which left me in a very serene mood.  Thank you, watercolours.  Thank you, nature.

And thanks to you for dropping by again today.  I'm detouring on to A Vintage Journey next, in a couple of days, but there will be some more watercolouring and some more Distress Oxides along soon.  Happy crafting all!

In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they're still beautiful.
Alice Walker

The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way.  Some see Nature all ridicule and deformity, and some scarce see Nature at all.  But to the eyes of the man of imagination, Nature is Imagination itself.
William Blake

I'd like to share this at Moo-Mania and More where they are asking to see something Handpainted

Friday 24 February 2017

XOX Oxides

Hello all!  From yesterday's Infusions launch at PaperArtsy and before tomorrow's watercolours, I'm throwing in a quick peek at my first play with another colour medium - the new Distress Oxides.  If you're a Tim Holtz fan, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.  If not, these are the new ink pads containing a pigment/dye fusion ink - creating a whole new ballgame of effects and possibilities.  I already love them!  

I'm only sharing a couple of backgrounds today - though I have already made something with most of these.  It's just a little teaser post for now!  And no prizes for guessing which colours I played with first...

If you want to see Tim in action with these, there are various videos on youtube of him demonstrating them at Creativation last month (here's one, for instance).

The "oxidisation" happens when you add water, and gives a fabulous opaque chalky bloom.

It's quite difficult to get the full effect with a photograph because half the delight is the feel of the chalky smoothness under the fingertips.  I can't really share that with you directly!

Here are some more blues and browns - this time with a touch of the Wilted Violet added to the mix.  (By the way, all the samples in this post are a combination of Distress Oxides and regular Distress Inks.)

It's another combination I've played with quite often in the past... now there's a slightly new flavour to it.

Because of the opaque pigment component of the ink, you can layer colours in ways that wouldn't be possible with pure dye inks.

I haven't tried stamping yet, but easily my favourite game so far (as I thought it would be) has been to play with a combination of Oxides and traditional Distress inks.

That way you get the joyous combination of opacity and translucence which has been an ongoing obsession here at Words and Pictures right from the very earliest days.

It also means you get some really cool patina effects as the inks combine and recombine on the craft mat and then smooshed onto the tag.

The coppery verdigris possibilities are going to be endless (especially if/when we get some more of the blues, greens and browns released in the future - sooner rather than later, I hope!).

This is all basically just wrinkle-free distress technique, a long-time favourite way to play of mine which now has new and exciting adventures in store.  Just look at those chalky splotches!

I'll finish with a quick sneak peek of one of the creations in store, but you'll have to be patient I'm afraid.

There's other stuff to get to first, but I hope your appetites are whetted.  Thanks so much for stopping by, and I'll see you again (very) soon.

A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

Thursday 23 February 2017

Find the Infusions you seek!

Hello all!  It's the official Infusions launch night over at PaperArtsy.  You'll find lots of stunning inspiration there from the PaperArtsy designers, and this is my offering for the night.

I was lucky enough to play with some of the new colours for the Lynne Perrella release last month, so I knew that I'd be reaching for In The Navy and Sleight Blue.

And I've also used one of the new Lynne Perrella stamps which didn't actually get an outing amongst my own samples... so new Infusions and a newly-inked stamp - it's all brand shiny new round here today!

I know this is a rather sombre affair for a launch night celebration, but I love that you can get really atmospheric moody effects with the Infusions as well as the really bright and bold explosions of colour.

I started by putting some heavy gesso through one of my favourite stencils, and adding the tiniest sprinkle of Infusions powders once it was all dry.

I spritzed plenty of water onto this first sprinkling, allowing it all to spread and run amidst the texture.  When it dried, it had a soft cloudiness to it because of being quite a watery mix.

I was then able to add extra powder in certain places to create more depth and detail.

That way you can be really precise about where you want to create really dark accents and shadows.

I don't really know why I seem to end up using arches so often with the Lynne Perrella women... they just speak to me that way.

This one is stamped on a book page stuck on to cardboard and cut with one of the Mover and Shaper Sized Arches.  (The fabulous Brenda Brown is having a Giveaway for these over at Bumblebees and Butterflies if you're quick - deadline to join in is the 28th February.)

I'm not entirely sure that I was right to colour her in...  I think I may prefer the monastic simplicity of the "naked" version against the background.

But I do like the tinting in close-up (embracing the imperfection of the squiffy eyes).  I used the Infusions as well as a few touches of Fresco paint for the "colouring" - all done in watery washes with my watercolour brushes.

There had to be some words involved, of course.  So the Small Talk stickers got pressed into action yet again...

... and I also added my own handwriting (a vague echo of the script on the stamp) at various points around the panel.

In the hurly burly of the world today, it's pretty clear what she's seeking... 

I hope my sombre little panel has created a moment of peace in your day, and I hope you'll hop over to PaperArtsy to see the - mostly much more colourful! - samples from my fellow designers.  Infusions inspiration and temptation galore!

Thanks so much for stopping by, and I'll be back with some more watercolour wanderings soon.

Peace comes from within.  Do not seek it without.

I'd like to play along in the Anything Mixed Media Goes at Mixed Media World

Tuesday 21 February 2017

Watery Florals

Hello all!  More baby steps in watercolour to share, and we're getting a bit flowery today.  Apart from the meadow flowers and Wild Grasses with which I admit I'm slightly obsessed (but I know I'm not the only one), flowers are fairly rare here at Words and Pictures.  But they do seem to suit watercolours, so I've been having a bit of a dabble.

And my flowers are still mostly related to the meadow.  This lavender is my favourite, I think, though it wasn't the first, so we should probably stick to the journey in the right order (though some of the other doodlings you've already seen, and some you've not yet seen, came in between these - it just made sense to group the flowers in one post).

So, you saw a glimpse of these sort-of-dandelions in the Mixing and Daubing post, but I wanted to include them in more detail because there's a looseness and wildness to them which I like.

That's probably because they were utterly unplanned!  I just put down a splodge of green paint to see what the mixed colours were like.

There was so much pigment on the page that I started spreading it with my brush, and that became a clump of leaves pretty much by itself.

I thought I'd try sticking some flower heads on the top.  Since the two colours I was playing with on this page were Nickel Azo Yellow and Phthalo Blue, the yellow seemed the better choice, and they ended up a bit like dandelions in full bloom.

(I'm now tempted, as I write this, to go and try out some dandelions in seedhead mode, which is how I like them best.  I'll finish the post first.)  That doodly page was done in the hotel room.  These next flowers were done back at home, but they're still in the large 9 x 12 inch Canson watercolour pad.

As I mentioned in the last post, I've been watercolouring in the warmer living room rather than the freezing craft room, and there were some unopened tulip buds just by me in a vase.

"Paint those," said Cestina, who's in the UK rather than the Czech Republic (or newly-renamed Czechia, a name she hates though I rather like it) at the moment.  She's fond of hurling down challenges.  Well, I'm still just messing around so I thought I'd see what I could do.

I love the loose impressionistic watercolours you can find on Pinterest, so that's what I really wanted to have a first play with.  There's a definite through line here to my crafting journey - the delight in shimmering light and translucence which has been there from the start.

(I have a Watercolour pinboard - you'll get an idea of some of what I enjoy there... and see how far I still have to go on this particular journey!  You'll also see the inspiration for the lavender stems.)

The shape of the tulip heads is not quite right - though they were in very tight buds - but I like the sense of light and sunshine of all the splatter and the soft washes disappearing at the edges.

And I do like the leaves - and how the colours bleed from the flowers, the reflected glow of the gold on the surface of the leaf.

The bit that pleases me most about this is the completely invented glass vase.  The real tulips were in a dark brown jug which I wasn't very interested in trying to replicate, so I created an imaginary one for my tulips - much lighter and airier.

I'm quite excited about the glass and the water inside for a first go.  Though I suppose, what could be better than watery watercolours to capture water?

Finally, back to those lavender stems.  As you can see, I was again playing with that watery expansion of colour into nothingness at the edges.

There's a freedom in putting down the water first and then letting paint flow into it...

... and then adding more details at various stages - sometimes wet on wet for the flow, sometimes waiting for the whole thing to dry so that you can add more intricate details.

I've watched quite a few artists in action on youtube, but my main guru is Steve Mitchell, whose channel is called The Mind of Watercolour.  (Okay, he spells it 'watercolor', but he's American and I'm not.)

Mitchell veers between very precise work and much softer, looser techniques, and he's a natural communicator and teacher.  My favourites are the ones he calls "spontaneous paintings" - but more of that another day.

I've spent happy hours watching his videos full of fantastic techniques and inspiration (and enjoying the contributions of his studio assistant, Rhys, a plastic skull... you probably have to be there), and I've learned so much along the way.

Now I've just got to put in the hours to continue developing my skills.  I know that I'm just stumbling around in the foothills at the moment.

Thank you for bearing with me on these forays into watercolouring.  I don't think flowers will be a major avenue of exploration for me, though the lavender may continue to pop up (given I have an idle dream of being a lavender farmer).

But it's all about discovery for now - enjoying the steepness of the learning curve, finding out what fits, what feels exciting to me... so who knows?  So far, the Wild Grasses and maybe this lavender feel like the most like "me-in-watercolour", and they're flowers, really, aren't they, so I'm not ruling anything out at this stage.

There's a brief PaperArtsy diversion next before we get back on track, and when we do we'll be heading from the flowers to the first of many trees.  Trees are another existing obsession alongside the meadow grasses, so there are already plenty of them to share, and with some of them I feel as though I'm on the way to another "me-in-watercolour".

I hold no preference among flowers, so long as they are wild, free, spontaneous.
Edward Abbey

Watercolour is a lifetime pursuit... mostly uphill.
Robert Wade