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

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Open Sesame ...

The fourth project in my acrylics course was to create an eastern doorway using stencils.  I found several references for shapes, colour and texture, and I decided to use a canvas board for this piece.

I did an under-painting first, and then used resin sand for the distressed wall (I added colour first), which I applied with a palette knife.

The surround I painted a dark blue and then used a stencil with two shades of gold.

The inner surround is paste through another stencil.

The door itself I have "studded" using a pearl pen, which creates 3D dots. I found 2 rings in my box of delights, no idea where they came from, but perfect for handles.

There is a saying that I came across many years ago, and which has stayed with me - no idea who said it -

There are things known and things unknown,
and in between are the doors.

Only two more projects on my course, and I've managed to keep up apart from the very first project, which is still waiting to be finished!

Happy 2018!

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Happy 2018!

I wanted to write a post on New Year's Eve, but I have a few projects on the go and not a lot finished! Nothing unusual there then ... Anyway, this little box canvas I did back in the summer, at an all day workshop where we did 2 canvases, but the other one went in the bin! It was a good day, as equal focus was on the food provided!

Today is a bit dark, rainy and dank, so this is a good reminder of summer!

If I remember rightly, this involved stamping onto tissue paper to create the background, and using inks and pens for colour. The dragonflies are stamped and hand cut (not my most favourite occupation), and there is a couple of die-cuts in there too.

Thank you to my readers and followers for all your comments this year, they are really appreciated.

Wishing everyone a peaceful and happy 2018, whatever you do - I seem to remember a quote about 365 blank pages, well I'm looking forward to 365 blank canvases!

Saturday, 23 December 2017

No snow, but it is pouring!

Last weekend I did another Powertex workshop - 5 hours of getting messy and having fun, this time using Powertex in a pouring technique.

The box canvas used is 16 inches square. I started by creating the accumulation of flotsam by using shells, bits of wood, and other detritus. This was stuck to the canvas using ivory Powertex. When dry, I sprayed some Bister, followed by dry brushing with metallic colours.

While this was drying I mixed up my chosen colours - I used blue Powertex, purple acrylic paint and green Powertex (though the green completely disappeared). The colours were mixed (in separate cups) with Floetrol (this makes the Powertex/acrylic paint more fluid), and a few drops of silicone oil. I also had a cup of white Powertex also mixed with Floetrol (but no oil).

Using a clean cup, I poured in some white followed by the other colours in a random order.

Holding the full cup of paint, I placed the canvas on top and then flipped both cup and canvas over. When released the paint moves pretty fast, and I guided it where I wanted it by tilting the canvas. The addition of the oil creates the cells.

Finally I added some more white Powertex to give an impression of sea foam.

I had such fun with this, probably because it is unpredictable! Anyway, there is lots of info on You Tube about acrylic pouring.

It is Christmas Eve eve, and we won't be getting any snow, so ...

Happy Christmas everyone, and wishing you all a peaceful 2018.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Time to hibernate!

It's the last part of the Craft Barn's year long challenge using the poem The Months of the Year by Sara Coleridge.

The final couplet is
Chill December bring the sleet
Blazing fire and Christmas treat.

I have struggled with my chosen postcard size format, but I have had fun the past couple of entries using Photoshop. I found a photo of my friend's dog Tia in front a woodburner. A photo I took a year ago when I visited the wilds of Scotland! Regular readers may remember I did a portrait of Tia (see here).

Anyway, I've played around with it - and Tia is waiting for her Christmas treat!

I've done a montage of all my entries -

not sure what I'm going to do with them, but the obvious one is a calendar.

“It's snowing still," said Eeyore gloomily.
"So it is."
"And freezing."
"Is it?"
"Yes," said Eeyore. "However," he said, brightening up a little, "we haven't had an earthquake lately.” 

― A.A. MilneWinnie-the-Pooh

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

It's all about the (British) weather!

I started my Intermediate Acrylics course in September, and have only finished one project so far. There is quite a lot of homework with these classes, and given the time of year ...

The first project still needs quite a bit of work, and the current project has a couple more weeks to go. This is the second project, which I have managed to finish!

I'm using a canvas sheet, which comes in a pad, and means I can roll it up for storage!

The aim of this particular project was to paint reflections in water. I'm reasonably happy with the result, although the reflected colours could be a little more subdued as the water is on dark tarmac.

Recently went to Tate Britain for the Impressionists in London (French artists in exile 1870 - 1904) exhibition. Absolutely loved it - so many artworks on show.

In the 1870s, France was devastated by the Franco-Prussian war and insurrection in Paris, driving artists to seek refuge across the Channel. Their experiences in London and the friendships that developed not only influenced their own work, but also contributed to the British art scene.

Here are just some of my favourites.

Camille Pissarro
Charing Cross Bridge, London 1890

J A M Whistler
Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Chelsea 1871

James Tissot
The Gallery of HMS Calcutta (Portsmouth) 1876

I don't know much about this artist, but I loved his few paintings that are in the exhibition. Reminded me very much of Renoir (another favourite of mine).

Claude Monet
Houses of Parliament, Sunlight Effect 1903

There was a whole room dedicated to Monet's Houses of Parliament series - it gave me goosebumps!


Claude Monet
Houses of Parliament c. 1900-1

Had to include another one!

The exhibition is on until 7 May 2018, and if you love Impressionism it is a must see!

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Looks like a rather blustery day ...

The penultimate part of this year's Craft Barn challenge has arrived, and this month's couplet is -

Dull November brings the blast,
Then the leaves are falling fast.

I enjoyed doing last month's entry in Photoshop, so I reviewed all the autumnal photos I've taken over the years, and found one which I took at Wakehurst Place. It looks like an Acer with fabulous deep orange and red colouring.

I played around with it in Photoshop and eventually decided to use the Ink Outline in the brush strokes section. I then added the text.  I felt it needed something else, so dug out a small leaf punch.

Creating something on the computer has certainly helped me get round the restrictive postcard size!

Can't believe there is just one more month to go with this challenge. Pleased I didn't give up, which I have been close to a couple of times. Not going to do postcard size ever again!! (never say never)

Happy windy-day!

Monday, 6 November 2017

And then there were three ...

We recently arranged a Fearless Four get together to create a triptych using three cut down wood panelling boards. Unfortunately one of us could only make the lunch ... good decision on priorities there!

Anyway, my inspiration was "rainforest". Don't ask where that came from, I have no idea - maybe because it was on wood?!?

We had decided not to use Powertex this time, so I went for some texture paste through stencils, some skeleton leaves, hessian flower shapes, plastic frogs, wallpaper, string, and a wooden spider (courtesy of Lin).

I used quite a few layers of acrylic paint, and drybrushed with irridescent green and copper.

I then decided to fit all the panels together, as I thought it looked better. It was a bit of a struggle, but I managed it, though I don't think I'll be able to get them apart again!

Both Lin and Linda decided to start with all three panels together, but didn't get anywhere near finished, so no pics to show.

As I had somehow come up with the rainforest as inspiration, I did some research.

We all know about deforestation and the problems that can cause. Fifty percent of the world's plants and animals can be found in rainforests. They extend from as far as Alaska and Canada to Latin America, Asia and Africa. They nurture thousands of plants and animals found nowhere else on Earth, besides providing food, water and air to the rest of the world. And temperate and tropical rainforests play a key role in climate change, helping to regulate the Earth's temperature and weather patterns.

New ideas are being proposed to save rainforests. For example, government and companies are finally starting to recognise the value of goods and services afforded by healthy forests, including carbon storage, buffering against flood and drought cycles, and safeguarding water supplies.

Another recent development has been the acknowledgement that local and indigenous communities are often some of the best stewards of forests. There is a growing movement to help these communities win the legal right to manage their traditional lands instead of letting the government hand out concessions to companies that clear forests for plantations.

Forests are being monitored far more effectively than just a few years ago, knowing what is happening to forests empowers us to do something about it.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Lost in space ...

I did another Powertex workshop last weekend, again on a large canvas. This one is all about the night sky. I do love all those photos that the Hubble telescope takes, so that is where the inspiration comes from.

Powertex is mixed with 3D Flex powder, which makes it stiffer so that it can hold whatever shape you create.

The colour comes from a combination of Bister sprays and acrylic paint, in several layers, finished with a bit of splatter and gold dry brushing. I did finish it off at home, but I love how it turned out!

One of my favourite programmes from 1980 is Cosmos with Carl Sagan - so here are a couple of quotes.

“We inhabit a universe where atoms are made in the centers of stars; where each second a thousand suns are born; where life is sparked by sunlight and lightning in the airs and waters of youthful planets; where the raw material for biological evolution is sometimes made by the explosion of a star halfway across the Milky Way; where a thing as beautiful as a galaxy is formed a hundred billion times - a Cosmos of quasars and quarks, snowflakes and fireflies, where there may be black holes and other universe and extraterrestrial civilizations whose radio messages are at this moment reaching the Earth. How pallid by comparison are the pretensions of superstition and pseudoscience; how important it is for us to pursue and understand science, that characteristically human endeavor. ” 
― Carl SaganCosmos

“A still more glorious dawn awaits
Not a sunrise, but a galaxy rise
A morning filled with 400 billion suns
The rising of the milky way” 
― Carl SaganCosmos

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

... from little acorns

At the weekend I went foraging for acorn caps with Laura, my wood-turner sister. Laura turns acorns from all different woods then puts them into the natural caps. The difficulty is turning them the right size so they fit into the caps (which are all different sizes!).

Last year there were hardly any acorns to be had, but this year there is a bumper crop, so we collected bagfuls!

With that excursion in mind, and this month's Craft Barn challenge couplet being ...

Fresh October brings the pheasant;
Then to gather nuts is pleasant.

It was obvious to me that I should use one of Laura's creations, so I resorted to Photoshop and played around with the images, settling on a couple of the artistic filters.

When the oak tree is fallen, the whole forest echoes with it;
but a hundred acorns are planted silently by some unnoticed breeze.
Thomas Carlyle

Friday, 6 October 2017

Feeling a little rusty!

Did a fabulous workshop recently, incorporating Powertex into a painting. This was all done in five hours - pretty intense at times trying to keep up!

The base is a 18 inch by 15 inch box canvas.We used corrugated cardboard with the Powertex, and when that was dry, we painted over it with something that contained iron filings (can't remember what it was called but it had a rather strong odour!). To create the rust we then sprayed copper sulphate (I think). It started going rusty within minutes.

The bottom corner is random detritus - bits of wood, hemp, sand and dust.

In between all those steps, and whilst the layers were drying, we painted the farmyard scene with acrylic paint.

It is difficult to convey what it feels like looking at this, as it is quite large, it really does seem like I'm inside a rusty old barn looking out!