We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
"Little Gidding"
T S Eliot

Friday, 2 December 2016

Its all about the balance ...

The Craft Barn's Alpha Dictionary challenge next letter is Y. I have chosen Yin and Yang. I've copied this fuller definition for those who are interested!

Yin Yang is perhaps the most known and documented concept used within Taoism.
A starting definition: Yin / Yang : Two halves that together complete wholeness. Yin and yang are also the starting point for change. When something is whole, by definition it is unchanging and complete. So when you split something into two halves – yin / yang, it upsets the equilibrium of wholeness. This starts both halves chasing after each other as they seek a new balance with each other.
The word Yin comes out to mean “shady side” and Yang “sunny side”.
Yin Yang is the concept of duality forming a whole. We encounter examples of Yin and Yang every day. As examples: night (Yin) and day (Yang), female (Yin) and male (Yang). Over thousands of years quite a bit has been sorted and grouped under various Yin Yang classification systems.
The symbol for Yin Yang is called the Taijitu. Most people just call it the yin yang symbol in the west. The taijitu symbol has been found in more than one culture and over the years has come to represent Taoism.


I've tried to create a balanced page! The background pieces (which I found in my off-cuts box) consist of brayered acrylic paint and some stamping.

I then cut the symbol from black and white card.


Happy December!


Thursday, 24 November 2016

My sister and me ...

My sister, Laura, is a wood turner, making all sorts of (mainly small) delicious things. Her lathe is in a 6 x 4 unheated shed, which can prove problematic in the winter months! She has recently set up an Etsy shop, so you can see her creations here.

Anyway, at the end of each session on her trusty lathe, there is this small disc of wood, which she polishes and puts into a little box.

Well - I couldn't pass up the challenge of doing something with them!

I've used a wooden box frame, with acrylic paint for the background, a bit of texture created with the gesso layer, and copper gilding wax. The tree truck is made from fabric dunked in fabric hardener (Powertex). I've also added a little airdry clay owl. We called this creation Watcher in the Wood ...


Since Laura has been wood turning, I've learned so much about wood, and the amazing array of colours you find beneath the bark.

Sticking with a tree theme, this from Emily Dickinson makes me smile -

Not at Home to Callers
Says the Naked Tree -
Bonnet due in April -
Wishing you Good Day -


Thursday, 17 November 2016

I'm out to impress you!

There are only a few letters to go in this year's Craft Barn Alpha Dictionary challenge, and I've managed to stick with it!  This time the letter is I.

I wanted to impress you with an alternative definition of that word!

The background is some spray inks with cling film scrunched on top to create a random pattern. I then found some metallic effect sticky backed stuff and die cut and embossed (or impressed) the butterfly.

I've also got a set of metal sticks with the alphabet letters on the end which you hammer into a surface to impress the letter. You can just about see the letters.


I think there are 4 letters to go - just hope I don't get brain freeze as the weather seems to be turning colder now!

Loving all the autumn colours against blue skies, just a perfect combination.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Prime time!

I've finally finished the second primary layering exercise that I started a couple of weeks ago in my art class.

Primary layering is mixing primary colours on the paper - each layer must be dry before doing the next layer.

All the layers (I did about 20), were done wet into wet.


First, yellow - there is about 3 layers here ...












Then red - probably 5 layers ...
















Before I started on the blue, I did some adjustments with more yellow and red layers. There is an impression of a roof, and I had to remember to lift out the paint after each layer! I didn't use masking fluid as it had to remain quite soft.

I then added blue layers, before painting in some trees.

I made final adjustments with some more red and blue layers.

This looks quite Turner-esque to me!


I love the softness of wet in wet multiple washes, and primary layering is a fantastic technique to do, all you need is a little patience - so have a go!

It is only when we are no longer fearful
that we begin to create.
JMW Turner

Saturday, 5 November 2016

An ultra celebration ...

The Craft Barn's next dictionary challenge letter is U.

As I'm currently learning about primary layering in my art class, and as it is my all time favourite colour - I've chosen Ultramarine.

So this is a bit of an abstract celebration of ultramarine, on watercolour paper, with ink and ultramarine paint (in graduated steps) with a bit of coloured pencil too. I've also added some sparkle with glitter glue.


It is the most used colour in my six colour palette, and I'm already on my 3rd tube of the stuff!

Its history ...
Ultramarine is a deep blue colour and a pigment which was originally made by grinding lapis lazuli into a powder. The name comes from the Latin ultramarinus, literally "beyond the sea", because the pigment was imported into Europe from mines in Afghanistan by Italian traders during the 14th and 15th centuries.
Ultramarine was the finest and most expensive blue used by Renaissance painters. It was often used for the robes of the Virgin Mary, and symbolized holiness and humility. It remained an extremely expensive pigment until a synthetic ultramarine was invented in 1826.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Looking after the pennies ...

I seem to be in the middle of a few lengthy projects, but nothing is yet finished! So, as a break from painting I decided to decorate a moneybox blank, perhaps in the hope I may save a few pennies!

I was taken with my butterfly of butterflies wall plaque (see here), and I had some leftover die-cut butterflies, so went with the same theme.

Stuck all the butterflies on first, then covered in black gesso.  When dry I used a dry sponge (as opposed to dry brush!) to apply irridescent paints, and finished off with some gilding wax.

I protected it with a coat of varnish.

I thought I had used different colours to the plaque, but when I put them side by side ... virtually the same colour palette. Well, at least I'm consistent!




Detail close-up






















Now - where are those pennies!


Sunday, 23 October 2016

Green remembered days ...

The current Craft Barn challenge letter is V.

As my soul is still in the Scottish Highlands after my recent trip (see previous post), the first word that came to mind was verdant.

I got out my Distress Inks and a selection of stamps and used a brayer for the background, followed by a bit of stamping. I also used a little water to pull some of the ink into the images.


This morning was a little misty, with the sun looking very wistful as if remembering summer - I should probably write a haiku!

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

It's all about colour ...

On my current art course (Intermediate Watercolour and Mixed Media), we learned about primary colour layering, which I'm finding fascinating.

Instead of mixing, say, a purple in the palette with red and blue, you mix on the paper. So, the first layer would be red, and when that is dry, you paint blue on top. Because watercolour is transparent you still get purple, but it is more vibrant.

Just making various strengths of primary colours and layering them up can create any colour you desire - but on the paper!

The first session involved creating an abstract painting, using primary layering - amazing! The only colours I had in my palette were yellow, red and blue. I also did the outline with India Ink and a dip pen.


We are now working on a landscape using this method, so watch this space!

I had a fabulous time in the Highlands, it was great seeing my friend and going for walks. The air is so clear and the landscape is so beautiful it hurts.

Just a taste -

Eilean Donan Castle on Loch Duich at Dornie, on the way to Skye

Featured in many films, including Highlander.

Bridge over to Skye

The last time I went to Skye on the ferry, as the bridge hadn't been built!














Glen Affric - National Nature Reserve - stunningly beautiful

















Glen Affric again


















Back to reality, traffic jams and pollution! but I've got lots of photos for painting inspiration.

Monday, 10 October 2016

A little bird told me ...

The current Paper Artsy challenge is all about die-cuts, a topic close to my heart, as I love the dimension and texture die-cuts can give.

This is a mirror I did a little while ago, starting with some texture paste through a stencil, die-cuts, and bits & bobs from my "maybe I'll keep this" box.


Then lots of acrylic paint - Paper Artsy Fresco - of course! And other bits, including some paper flowers I painted first, and some little butterfly beads.


I'm now all packed for my trip - very early start tomorrow. Must remember to set my alarm!

See you soon, with lots of painting inspiration!

Saturday, 8 October 2016

It can be just black and white ...

The next letter in the Craft Barn's dictionary challenge is E. My first thought was emboss, so I'm going with that!

For a change, I've kept it really simple and used just black and white card, with embossing folders.

There is something quite liberating about creating a project very fast!


I may not be able to visit everyone this time, as I'm going away, but I'll try and catch up later.

Off to bonny Scotland, visiting a friend in the Highlands - hope it's not too cold, but whatever the weather it is stunningly beautiful. Hope to get a few photos for some painting inspiration.

"There are two seasons in Scotland: June and Winter."
Billy Connolly