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

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Abstraction, Modernism and a pinch of Surrealism

I've just remember I haven't told you about the last 2 day workshop I did on encaustic collage.

This combined my love of collage with trying wax, so of course, I had to sign up!

I decided I would do an abstract using a beach sunset as inspiration. I also thought I would not use any paint (apart from a quick under painting), and all the collage pieces would be rectangular - I do like to challenge myself!

I used watercolour paper, which with hindsight is not really robust enough for adding a lot of wax. When I cut it off the support board it becomes quite difficult to handle. I need to think about what kind of frame to put it in.

The wax we used was a mix of beeswax and Damar resin, which strengthens the beeswax.

After doing a quick watercolour under painting, I started cutting up various bits and pieces, including speciality papers, cardboard, fabric, hessian, bookprint, and laid them out as my initial thoughts on construction.

As you can see, it is very rough at this stage, and I took a photo to remember placement, but I knew it wouldn't turn out like this!









Next, using wallpaper paste, I starting sticking everything down - quite tricky to get the order right!













I used the wax to stick the corrugated card and hessian, and started layering wax is a few places. I also spattered some wax for a bit of sea spray.












Finally, after several layers of wax, and a few more additions - including orange for the sunset reflection, and a rockpool (bottom left) using seed beads and abalone shell, I finished with some gold paint through a fossil fish stencil. You will have to enlarge the picture to see them properly.


I liked using the wax as it provides another dimension, but I need to get to grips with the technique a bit better!

This week I had a day trip to Charleston and Farley Farm - fabulous day!

Charleston, home from 1916 to Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, was the country retreat for the group of artists, writers and thinkers known as the Bloomsbury group.


I loved this house, and wanted to move in immediately. Every room was decorated by the artists, with murals on all the furniture, fireplaces and walls. It had a beautiful atmosphere, and the studio was to die for!







Not allowed to take any photos inside so if you want to explore further I'm sure Google will help.

The gardens were stunning too.

















Then on to Farley Farm, which in 1949 became home to Roland Penrose, Surrealised artist, and Lee Miller, American model, photographer and WW2 correspondence.

Another stunning home, full of artworks ... many created by their friends and visitors, including Pablo Picasso, Man Ray, and Max Ernst.












You may recognise this one by Roger Penrose, of his first wife Valentine, entitled Winged Domino.












The gardens were extensive ...

















... and full of  modern sculpture.

I was quite taken with this one - Sky Seed
by Mark and Rebecca Ford (2017).



















I bought a couple of books and some postcards.













I was fascinated by the stories regarding the Bloomsbury Group, so I'm going to get some books from the Library and have a good read!

Friday, 4 August 2017

It's not about what it is ...

... but about what it can become!

Recently the Fearless Four got together for a Powertex play, using empty Horlicks containers.

We used bits of fabric, string, wood shapes, shells and other found stuff. Also included in our ingredients lists was Bister, acrylic paint and ink sprays. Because the Horlicks containers are plastic, we wrapped masking tape around them so the Powertex would stick.

So, here are the results ...apologies for the quality of most of the photos, but I forgot to take my camera, so used my phone.

Lin used ivory Powertex, with ric rac ribbon around cotton fabric, and embellished with some wood shapes. Bister and gold sprays used too.



















Linda used bronze Powertex on cotton fabric, with some string, and a skull (Linda is a little bit Gothic too). She also used Bister and silver spray for colour.















Monica seems has a never ending supply of shells! Some have been incorporated into the cotton fabric, together with lace and string.

Bronze Powertex also used with  silver spray.



















Every Halloween I'm on the lookout for likely stuff to use in projects, and I found a bag of plastic skulls one year and still have loads! I had to saw the backs off so they could be incorporated into this project.

I  have always been a little bit Gothic and fascinated by skulls, so I put three on my pot, but the other two are round the other side!

I've used some t-shirt fabric, with hessian, string and dishcloth material.

I also thought the plastic cross added to the look!

I used black Powertex, and dry brushed some blue paint, and also used Linda's fabulous silver spray (I've now bought some too!).

I'm using my pot for some of my (rather large) stash of paint brushes.



So, another fabulous day. We've already booked the next get togther, and guess what - yes - we will be using Powertex again!

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Pieces of silver ...

I started this painting about 3 months ago, and then lost my way. I've gone back to it about half a dozen times, and finally finished it last week.

As usual, I was experimenting! I drew the outline of the trees then covered them with tissue paper, wrinkling it as I stuck it down. I then wondered if I could get away with covering the tissue with masking fluid while I did the background, and then get the masking fluid off successfully.

You don't know unless you try! So that is what I did, painting the background with a dark blue watercolour mix - I did about 4 watercolour washes.

The masking fluid had been on for about 48 hours, and now was the time to try and get it off without ruining the tissue paper. I rubbed it off very slowly and ... it worked!

The Autumn foliage is done with gouache, which was not intense enough for me, so I then resorted to heavy body acrylics - much better. I think there also may be a bit of oil pastel in there too!

I used texture paste for the grass area, and then watercolour,  also some gouache - oh and - heavy body acrylics!

Finally, added the dark patches on the trunks, using the tissue wrinkles as a guide.



Since I've been doing all those art courses (it has been 2 years now), I've learnt that most times when I begin something it looks awful, and I'm tempted to bin it, but it is only once I've been working on something for some time (like this one), that eventually it may come together (probably!). So not so much goes in the bin now. I'm also quite happy to use any combination of media to get the result I want.

I'm entering this for the current Paper Artsy challenge, which is all about dark to light (contrast).

Having finally finished the painting, I was inspired to write another Haiku ...

Gold red cloaks falling
Pale figures reaching skyward
Ere long silent ghosts

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Seeing red ...

I'm still on a Powertex wave!

With a couple of friends, I took part in another workshop; a good way to try stuff before maybe buying - this time I tried the red Powertex. Now, I'm not usually a red girl, but, I fell in love with the richness of this colour.

On a 40cm x 40cm box canvas, the texture is created from bits of wallpaper, hessian, cotton strings, sand, and paste through a stencil.

Also, some plaster ammonites from a mould and a couple of metal embellishments.

I also used black Bister and gold mica powder.



Followed by a good lunch ... another perfect day!

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Gilly what?

All this heat addles my brain so that I can't think about anything creative, but I did complete this month's Craft Barn's Twelve Month Challenge using the July couplet:

Hot July brings cooling showers,
Strawberries and gilly-flowers.

And we must include gillyflowers, which I had to look up -

Gillyfloweralso spelled gilliflower, any of several scented flowering plants, especially the carnation, or clove pink (Dianthus caryophyllus), stock (Matthiola incana), and wallflower (Cheiranthus cheiri). However, the gillyflower of Chaucer, Spenser, and Shakespeare was the carnation. Other plants that are types of gillyflower are dame's gillyflower, also known as dame’s violet (Hesperis matronalis); mock gillyflower, also known as soapwort or bouncing bet (Saponaria officinalis); feathered gillyflower, also known as the grass or garden pink (Dianthus plumarius); and sea gillyflower, also known as the thrift or sea pink (Armeria maritima).

Hunted through some stamps, and found an old one by Paper Artsy which must be a wallflower (well, it certainly looks like one!).

Stamped onto watercolour paper and coloured with Windsor and Newton pens.

So far, so very boring ... 

...looking around I found a small piece of Bondaweb (a double sided adhesive usually used to bond two pieces of fabric). I had sprayed this particular piece with ink (probably Dylusions). So, I thought I would iron that over the top, for a bit of interest and texture.



Really enjoying Wimbledon this year - nothing like spending a lazy afternoon watching the tennis with an ice cream!

Postscript: just noticed the Sara Coeridge poem I downloaded has strawberries and not apricots. So I've just done another search, and found 3 different versions of this poem! 

So, I'll stick with strawberries - especially with cream - yum!

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Wave power ...

I'm still playing with Powertex, and I found an offcut of MDF in my cupboard, which I thought I would use as a base. In preparation, I roughly cut some strips from an old T-shirt and some flower shapes from calico.

I coated the MDF with black gesso, and put some plasterboard tape down one side for texture.

I poured on ivory Powertex and spread it around before dunking the fabric bits into the ivory Powertex, and creating the flowers. I added  sand and small balls (also by Powertex) to add weight at the bottom.

I let it dry before using some bister sprays. I also added crushed glass to the centre of the flowers and a little gilding wax; although the photo doesn't really show the glimmery bits!



The measure of a man is what he does with power(tex)
With apologies to Plato

Took a trip to the British Museum last week and saw "Hokusai beyond the Great Wave" exhibition (on until 13 August). I love these kinds of exhibitions because they bring together artwork from around the world, which normally I wouldn't get to see.

Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) is mostly know for his Great Wave (woodcut) - have you noticed the boats and the people?











I also love the way he did waterfalls ...






















... and this one with carp.

In fact water features a lot in both his woodcuts and paintings, as well as Mount Fuji.



















This is an ink painting I wouldn't mind hanging on my wall - The Dragon of Smoke Escaping from Mount Fuji.

I've always had a passion for dragons - probably because I was born in the year of the dragon!



















Usually our art trips start with a coffee and almond croissant, and this one was no different! Perfect day.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Forever in my heart ...

Towards the end of last year I created a piece with my sister, Laura (see here for a reminder).

She recently gave me another collection of turned wood discs, which I thought about for a little while, moving them around like draught pieces!

Then (lightbulb!) - I've recently acquired some Powertex Stone Art, which I've been wanting to try, and thought it would make a great background for the wood.

I used a wood box canvas again, for complete stability, and covered it in Powertex (a mixture of black and ivory), and then applied the Stone Art, which is weird stuff; I think it is made from paper.

After several layers of the Stone Art and Powertex I was happy. I then sprayed it with Bister (3 colours), and once that was dry I knocked it back with more ivory Powertex.

I waited about 48 hours for it to thoroughly dry, and then added the wood discs. I had already worked out the order and pattern of the discs, but it was tricky to place them precisely. I think I held my breath for the entire time, as I so did not want to make a mistake!



We have called it Heartwood, and it is now in Laura's Etsy shop (see here).

Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul.
It is daily admission of one's weakness.
It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.
Mahatma Gandhi

Friday, 16 June 2017

Going round in circles ... (story of my life!)

I did a three day coloured pencils workshop last month, spread over three weeks. I wouldn't have thought there would be much to learn, but as I seem to have collected quite a few sets of pencils I decided it would be good to start using them!

I was amazed at how much I learned over the three days. I'm not usually into detail work, but using coloured pencils became quite compulsive (and very therapeutic!) and I just became lost in the moment.

My favourite set of pencils are my Prismacolor ones, and I've used them on these two pieces.

We learned about different ways to colour - hatching, cross-hatching, and going round in tiny circles (my favourite). It is possible to use just primary colours to create any other colour, and there was also blending and polishing too. Like watercolour it is all about slowly building up in layers (without the drying time).

For this one we had to bring in some fruit and/or veg as subject matter. So I did a stir-fry that evening!

Using white  hot pressed watercolour paper (A4); after sketching it out I did a light coloured watercolour wash over each piece of veg.

The onion skin is created using an embossing tool to deboss the lines before any colour pencil is added.

My mushroom is a little wonky - but hey - what mushroom isn't!


For this one I borrowed a vase as all my stuff was packed away during some decorating work.

The paper is a grey pastel paper.

The vase neck is a bit off, but I got the colour right!

It is surprising how long this took (the paper is also A4 size).




Really enjoyed the workshops, and now I need to remember to add coloured pencils to the list of possible media to use in a project!


Saturday, 10 June 2017

A rose by any other name ...

Time for the Craft Barn's twelve month challenge - half way through now, and still waiting for summer to really kick in!  June's couplet is

June brings tulips, lilies, roses;
Fills the children's hands and posies.

Additionally we have to include a bunch of flowers ... don't think I'll have room to fit in anything else!

Rummaged through my scrap box and made some die-cuts, then decided a black background would be perfect.  I'm learning that the postcard size needs to be kept simple, and I'm not fighting that premise now!


A friend has an absolutely stunning rose in her garden, which has inspired me to write a haiku -

Many petal beauty
Pale rose - softly scented cloud
Dreams of languid days


Thursday, 1 June 2017

I'll take cake with that - oh and some clotted cream!

Recently had a really enjoyable all day workshop with HobbyArt, which involved making a few cards using their stamps.

Ir was good not to have any real challenges but just create some nice cards. I think there were about 24 of us, and so much food was provided throughout the day I think it should be called a "food fest and by they way, make some cards too"!

I'll be providing a menu guide for the day!

We used Kuretake Clean Color brush pens (water based) to colour the images. I've never used these pens before, but I was really impressed how easy they were to blend. Though I don't think I'll be buying any, as I've go sooooo many different types of pens and pencils already ...

On arrival, coffee and biscuits.

For the first card we used a magnificent "monarch of the glen" stamp. Isn't he beautiful? This was my first go with the pens - not bad! Also used a fern stamp for a border.

I know exactly who I'm going to send this to as a birthday card!

Tea break, with more biscuits!











The second card was was a little more adventurous.

Stunning bird stamp - with my fantasy colouring! Think I'll call him a pink chaffinch!

A few cone flowers (decoupaged).












Lunchtime! so I opted for an egg and cress sandwich, but it came with a lovely salad and crisps. Then the hot stuff came out (sausage rolls, spring rolls, quiche and more).

Followed by pudding - either apple crumble or fruit salad. I went for the fruit ... but had to include a dollop of clotted cream.

Back to work (!?!).

The next card had a Brusho background, and a couple of lovely peacock stamps. Now I'm not one for fussy cutting, so I think I did quite well!















The card opened out like this.

Tea break - with cake!















Our final card was reasonably simple - which was a good thing, as after all that food my body wanted an afternoon siesta!

Distress Inks for the background, a little embossing too.

The dandelion clock is stamped and embossed onto parchment, and cut out.

Very pretty.














Fabulous day, and I have some lovely cards for the next few birthdays.

I wobbled home very content!