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 30 March 2020

Creative Skypeing

Hello all.  I hope that you are finding ways to be creative, calm and joyful at times during this confinement.  I'm lighting more candles, listening to more music, taking delight in the tiny seedlings unfurling from the seeds we planted only a few days ago.  And the spring sunshine helps too, though it's not quite as constant as it was for most of last week.

What also helped was another creative Skype session with two wonderful crafting friends - Brenda (of Bumblebees and Butterflies) and Nikki (of Addicted to Art).  For more than four hours on Friday we chatted and crafted, or created in companionable silence as we each got wrapped up in what we were doing.  This is a long post, but then it was a long session - though it didn't feel that way.  We were all astonished when we looked at the time at the end!

As usual, we took it in turns to suggest the next layer/activity and once again - although we were all following the same steps - we ended up with three completely individual pieces of artwork by the end.  (You can check out the previous Skype adventures here if you'd like to.)  Here's my double spread art journal page.

You'll find sneak peeks and links to Nikki and Brenda's posts at the end, but first let me share how it all happened on the craft table here at Words and Pictures.  I've put the instructions in bold and listed them at the foot of the post in case you want to try out the process for yourself.  It would be brilliant to see what other journeys people go on with the same steps.

So, process first... but if you want to scroll straight down to some finished close-ups, feel free!

We all prepped our various surfaces - a free choice, though we'd agreed to work fairly large format.  I went with my Dylusions large journal, so the whole spread is 30x40cm.

And then I (A) gave the first instruction - 1. use some tissue paper and/or tissue tape.

Nikki (N) then wanted us to 2. put down some texture through a stencil.  I'd re-gesso'd over the tissue paper (Tim Holtz's Typeset/Composer collage paper) so that the surface would receive any mediums in the same way as the gesso'd pages underneath.

This is a giant 12x12 Crafters Companion stencil and I used some cold press watercolour ground as my texture paste - it has a lovely grainy texture.

Brenda (B) suggested 3. some stamping with text and/or numbers to fill in the gaps for her first contribution.  I was really happy with that because it worked so well with the numbers/letters already on the go in my collage paper.

Next up: (A) - 4. add more than one colour of paint in any way that you want to.  I used Granny Smith and Lawn Fresco paints  - still obsessed with spring greens round here! - and applied watery washes to the edge of the page, spritzing them with more water to get them to dribble down towards the centre spine.

I dribbled the lighter green first, dried it, and then added the deeper one over the top, dabbing with paper towel when the drips and drops got too enthusiastic.  (This shot's from later on, but I think you can see what I mean pretty clearly here.)

And since we were allowed to add our paint in any way we liked, I also spattered what was left on the craft mat across the pages.

(N) 5. create a resist using any product.  Although we were all talking about Andy Skinner's Resist Paste, I ended up going another way... in fact, two other ways.

I repeat stamped one of the Entomology insects and used some Wow Vanilla White powder on that.

And I also flicked some of Tim's Resist Spray (unscrewed the top and flicked with the inside end of the tube) and put Bright White embossing powder over the splatters.

(B) 6. Use a colour medium to reveal your resist.  Brenda originally said "paint" but I asked if she was prepared to be flexible and open it out to any colour medium, as I had a yearning to use ink so that I could have a nice translucent layer over my earlier paint layers.  Happily, she was fine with that.

I opened up my bottle of Stormy Sky Distress Spray and applied some to the edge of the page, spritzing in the same way as I had with the paints.

After a few goes, there still wasn't enough blue going on, so I just dipped in a brush and applied some more wherever I wanted it and spritzed with water to let it move.  It's still quite subtle, but I like it.

(A) 7. Add some more stamping but not text and numbers.  This is where a theme really started to kick in for me.  Yes, I had those resist insects in soft vanilla, but I wanted more!

So several more bugs and ants put in an appearance, stamped in Watering Can Archival ink (in case of more wet mediums in the future - I wanted something that would stay put).

(N) 8. Select a focal point (or points) and gather elements.  And with the theme already cooking, this is the point at which the storytelling started to happen.  I found myself reaching for the vintage photos... Paper Dolls to start with, and this couple wanted to be part of things.

I wanted a balancing focal point on the other side of the page, so I went in search of Photobooth photos which could play the part of the same couple in earlier days.

Clearly with all those insects around, they must be entomologists - each with their own field of study, so that in the early days of their relationship, they would each be pursuing their own studies in various parts of the world, in search of new or rare species.

Their only communication would be by letter... so that upper corner of the pages is almost like a memory of the start of their relationship, with that postage stamp reflecting their epistolary love affair.

But now here they are, married, working as a couple, and able to travel together on expeditions and tread the same path as they follow, collect and study the creatures they are both so passionate about.

I gathered all my ephemera from one place, to be honest - the new Field Notes pack by Idea-ology (and the mini version of the same set).

It had everything I needed, from postage stamps to note pages to specimen labels to species diagrams.

Oh, and of course the butterfly and the bee.  We're on finished photos now, so the process has pretty much moved on to (B) 9. alter/colour up/prepare and position elements for your focal point/s.

I didn't really do much in the way of altering.  I mainly stuck with inking the edges of all my elements, and also did a bit of doodling with white ink and my dipping pen to frame some of them.

The quote needed to be part of the focal collages too.  It's from my PaperArtsy set The Love Edition.  I toyed with two different stampings - first in pale Stormy Sky...

... but I ended up using this version in Faded Jeans Oxide ink.  It gives the words a bit more presence, and also tones in really nicely with some of the darker blue elements amongst the ephemera.

I also grabbed a couple of metal embellishments to add to the mix - the number two for the two life partners...

... and this little "found" token.  How many insects have they found over the years together?   How many have you found in these pages? 

They're hidden all over the place in this spread - stamped, embossed, on paper - so you need to go exploring and hunting just like the two entomologists.

There are even creepy-crawlies hiding between their legs!

I kept my next instruction very open so that we could each do what we needed to do!  (A) 10. highlight or refresh the original background before adhering the embellishments. 

I tried sanding back the original stencilled texture to highlight it, but found I was losing my lovely grainy texture, so I stopped doing it!

I cut some lengths of white thread to wind behind the ephemera as I glued it all down.  I do like this effect, just to add a bit of randomness and movement to a piece.

There was a sort of general agreement that we would all add whatever Finishing Touches were needed.  For me, that was a bit more spatter - in white this time.

I love that this spread now has three different kinds of spatter... the leftover paint spatter, the resist spray embossed spatter, and the normal whitewash sort too.

All the layers make me happy - paint and ink...

... stamping, embossing, and ephemera.

Of course there's that scrumptious texture...

... and you can even see the tissue paper all the way back there somewhere!

So that's my result from the steps that we took.  I hope you'll have time to go and see what Brenda and Nikki created.  I've already seen them in slightly blurry form over the Skype connection, but can't wait to go and examine them in detail over at their respective blogs.

To tempt you further, here's a sneak peek of Nikki's project over at Addicted to Art.

And here's Brenda's at Bumblebees and Butterflies.  Just click the links to go visiting.

You can already see how differently each of them turned out, despite having all the process steps in common!

I've only just noticed that we all have winged insects in common - even though nobody mentioned that!

It was such a joy to do some shared creating - even though it's usually a solitary pursuit for me.  Don't get me wrong... I love it that way.  But it's great to share the fun too - and dividing the task of deciding what to do next just adds to the fun and unpredictability of the creative process.  Usually I create alone and then share via the blog.  This just moves the sharing up a notch!  And a big thank you to Nikki and Brenda... I wouldn't have done it this way without you.

Thanks so much for stopping by today to share in our creative playtime.  I didn't manage as much visiting over the weekend as I'd hoped, but I'll be making my way round as the week progresses.  I hope you're all doing okay, and look forward to seeing what kind of creative activities you've been keeping busy with in the safety of your own homes.  Take care and stay safe, everyone.

Friends share all things.

For pleasure has no relish unless we share it.
Virginia Woolf

Here's that list of instructions in full so that you don't have to search for them through all my ramblings if you decide to try them out for yourselves.  Do let us know if you do!

Prep your surface - it can be anything you want, from an ATC to a tag, a canvas, a journal page...
1. Use some tissue paper and/or tissue tape
2. Put down some texture through a stencil
3. Some stamping with text and/or numbers to fill in the gaps
4. Add more than one colour of paint in any way that you want to
5. Create a resist using any product
6. Use a colour medium to reveal your resist
7. Add some more stamping but not text and numbers
8. Select a focal point (or points) and gather elements.
9. Alter/colour up/prepare and position elements for your focal point/s.
10. highlight or refresh the original background before adhering the embellishments.
Finishing Touches

At the Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge Macarena has created a Spring Mood Board - I've definitely been in a Spring mood lately, and I particularly like the top left picture on the board with the blues and greens and book text
I'd like to share this at Art Journal Journey where Eileen's theme for March has been Green
The Sisterhood of Crafters are playing a Spring challenge
Anything Goes with an optional twist of Green over at the More Mixed Media Challenge

Thursday 26 March 2020

The air is full of sunlight

Hello all... some things to be happy about today.

It really has been the most gloriously sunny week here in the south-east of England.  It's wonderful as a lift to the mood, but it makes it quite hard to come to terms with what is happening everywhere.

We've been prepping troughs and planting seeds, in the hope that there will be some fresh garden produce to add to the food store in the weeks to come.

The spring weather has made being in the tiny courtyard a pleasure - I'm so thankful we have some outside space of our own - and the busy road we live just by has been that little bit quieter, which is a big improvement... for the worst of all possible reasons, though, of course.

Still, it's the positive mood instilled by the spring sunshine which has made its way onto this tag.  I promised when I shared my Spring Greens journal page that there would be some more springtime creations, didn't I?  And this isn't the last of them by any means.

This started as another mop-up tag (there are always lots of them hanging around on the craft table).  There's some Peeled Paint, Bundled Sage, Tumbled Glass and Stormy Sky involved - inks and/or Oxides of each.

Some time later on I added some more of the blue tones, as most of them had got covered up, but for now I did some stamping with my Field Notes and Entomology stamp sets.

The labels and postmarks are stamped in Watering Can Archival.

And the repeat stampings of the insect were done in Pumice Stone and clear-embossed for that light-capturing magic.

I gathered a few ephemera from the Field Notes pack as well as some homemade versions done with the stamp set (the bird and the flower book page fragments).

Those homemade ones are left over from another project which you'll get to see at about this time next week... (tease!)

(Sorry for the weird lighting on this one - crafting by night, so it's the daylight bulb.)

I did a bit of doodled framing on the ephemera with my dip pen and some white acrylic ink.

And I used the same pen and ink to add similar scribbled frames around the edge of the tag.

My favourite Rubber Dance tendrils are twining their way (in Leaf Green Archival ink - Weed Love is the name of the stamp set) around the background too.

And the delicate wooden Scrapiniec grass stem seemed the perfect choice to layer over the top of all that.  It's had a gentle wash of gesso to make it even more pale and delicate.

(These grasses definitely bring out my palest side... you may remember the Windswept Grasses from a couple of years back.)

One of the Idea-ology acetate butterflies takes pride of place.  I brushed gesso onto the back of her wings to make them more visible against the background.

You still get the glimmer of the acetate from the front.  And that's a little Game Spinner forming the body, as you probably know.

Some words... naturally.  These are from the Clippings stickers.  Somehow the necessary phrases always just seem to leap out.

And yes, despite everything that's happening, the world is still a beautiful place.  I only have to look out of my window at the trees and flowers and listen to the birdsong to be sure of that...

... or watch some of the uplifting videos of shared singing and music from the balconies and streets of Italy, Spain and around the world, or the applause from those same balconies as the hospital staff and health workers come and go on their changes of shift.

The next weeks and months are going to be about finding happiness and calm where we can... and this tag does that for me.  There's a lightness and gentleness about it which bring me joy.

I hope it will do something of the same for you, and that you are finding ways to make the quarantine gentler on your spirit.

Take care and I'll see you again soon, either here or elsewhere in Craftyblogland.

The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt with the heart.
Helen Keller

This too shall pass.
Persian proverb

I'd like to share this at Tag Tuesday where the springtime theme is Bunnies and Butterflies.  I'm not sure whether you have to have both of them present, but I'm hoping either one or the other will do...
And it's another entry for Anything Goes with an optional twist of Green at the More Mixed Media Challenge - what can I say, I like green!
At the Mix It Up Challenge Blog the theme is Anything Goes with an optional twist of Smooshing - well that's the background in a nutshell, so...
The Sisterhood of Crafters are hosting the perfect challenge theme for this tag - Spring

Springtime happiness bonus extra

Here are a few photos of the plum blossom in the garden today.  Exquisite.  And it's worth clicking on to see them full size, though I do say so myself!  Again, I'm so grateful to have some outside space, even though it's small.