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, 19 February 2017

Happy Big Birthday Little Sis!

Yesterday was my little sister's 60th birthday, and I had a go at book folding for this auspicious occasion. I found a free pattern on the internet, and then found a book with the requisite number of pages in a pound shop.

I think it turned out quite well -

The folding is relatively easy because you are using the pattern measurements for each page. I did this over a few sessions; just remember to mark on the pattern where you last stopped!

You Tube has some good tutorials.

Another thing to remember is that each page on the pattern is equal to 2 pages in the book (front and back), so remember to double the number of pages when looking for the right book. Hope that makes sense!

I also wanted to decorate the cover with some appropriate photographs, printed onto wood veneer (my sister is a woodturner).

I designed the grouping of photos and words on the computer, then used the backing sheet from some sticky labels, which is completely non absorbent. Remove the labels first!

Run that backing sheet through the printer and the ink stays on the sheet, completely wet. Handle with care!

This is the tricky bit, lay the sheet face down on your piece of wood, and without moving it, press down all over. The ink will be transferred.

Oh, and remember to flip your pictures on the computer first, otherwise you will transfer it back to front! Yes, that was my initial mistake!

I also made this, as I found the lights at the end of last year, and then had to think of how to use them!

A perfect day!

Friday, 10 February 2017

Love reigns in my heart ...

The second part of the Craft Barn's twelve month challenge (based on Sara Coleridge's poem The Months) uses the next couplet -

February brings the rain
Thaws the frozen ponds again

and must also include a cherub and heart somewhere.

Sticking to my personal challenge of the postcard format, I used the last piece of the painted textured paper that formed the background of January's postcard (see here). I also found a small picture of a couple of delightful cherubs, which I must have had for many years in my 'maybe collage' box of treasures!

Finally, I cut out some clouds and added some heart-shaped raindrops ...

The postcard size is certainly making me think differently, but it also feeds a bit of my abstract soul too!

Cherubs fan our foolish fires, filling hearts with mad desires.
They prick our pride and haughtiness with quick, angelic naughtiness.
John Biccard

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Disaster alert ...

My art class session on mixing greens and using gouache allowed me time to have a go at another painting, which turned into a bit of a disaster.

I finished it at home, but I found it a bit boring. I had read about a technique of putting an extremely dilute colour wash over the whole painting to provide some unity, so decided to do a dilute pink wash.

What I didn't know was that gouache is very readily reactivated with water.  I carefully put the wash on and then before my very eyes the whole thing started to run! Shock, horror, and a bit of panic ensued ... I quickly mopped everything up and was left with a bit of a washed out picture.

Never daunted I tried to rescue it by redoing some areas, including the gouache ones.

I decided to let you see the finished item, so you can learn what I've learned - don't re-wet gouache and a rescue job isn't going to really work!

Though I'm quite pleased with my (albeit rescued) clouds!

Friday, 27 January 2017

A pinch of salt and the sublime Monet

At the moment I am into a 3 week art class project using textures. In the past I have tried many texture techniques, but with acrylic paint; I have not considered using textures with watercolour.

Our first exercise was to try several different textures, and this is the result.

If you click on the picture you can enlarge it. Starting at top left and moving down the columns -

Pieces of tissue paper with starch based glue (e.g. wallpaper paste).

Pieces of tissue paper with PVA glue (acts as a bit of a resist compared with starch based glue).

PVA glue dribbled in a pattern and left to dry before covering with paint.

Resin sand - a gel medium with sand.

Glass beads - a gel medium with glass beads; a strong resist.

Salt sprinkled into wet paint, and let dry before brushing the salt away (rice will also work).

Clingfilm - in two layers. Let the first layer dry before removing the cling film, then apply more paint and cover with film again.

Using watercolour paint mixed with wallpaper paste, which enables patterns to be drawn into it whilst it is wet (also known as glue painting).

So now we are working on a painting using texture and watercolour with other media, but there are 2 more weeks to go before I finish it.

This year I have a National Art Pass which allows free entry to many museums, galleries, stately homes and castles, or a reduced price entry to special exhibitions.

Used it for the first time this week, when we visited The Courtauld Gallery in Somerset House (on The Strand in London). The Gallery has a fabulous collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings, as well as from the Renaissance.

These are some of my favourites:

Frank Auerbach
Carreras Factory, Mornington Crescent 1961

Loved the very thick textured oil paint and monotone.

Paul Cezanne
The Lac d'Annecy 1896

Limited colour palette and the lines drew me to this. Very atmospheric.

Claude Monet
Antibes, 1898

Still my most favourite Impressionist! His work is instantly recognizable and they way he paints light is breathtaking.

There were some very small sketches by Georges Seurat, known for his development of pointillism. I was very struck by how good they looked grouped together.

So I'm going to collect some small ornate frames for my own (yet to create!) paintings, which I can hang on my wall.  Probably a very long term project!

We just had to visit the shop (well it would be rude not to!) - lots of lovely stuff; could have spent a fortune but restrained myself, and bought this fabulous book ...

well, it was on special offer!

I want the unobtainable. Other artists paint a bridge, a house, a boat, and that's the end. They are finished. I want to paint the air which surrounds the bridge, the house, the boat, the beauty of the air in which these objects are located, and that is nothing short of impossible.
Claude Monet

Monday, 23 January 2017

Friends Forever!

It has been too long since the Fearless Four got together for a creative day - with lunch of course! But last week we managed it and we all did an MDF shape with stand.

Watercolour has taken over my life for a little while now, so it was good to dig out some bits and pieces and my acrylic paint and put together a dimensional piece.

I forgot to take a picture before applying gesso, but did get an after-gesso shot!

I used various flowers made from paper, fabric and metal, plus a few beads and charms. I also used some texture paste that contains glass beads - love that stuff!

I haven't used much blue in my watercolour projects, so it was time for a blue overload! But for the letters I did put an orange layer under some crackle glaze before the blue!

We all finished too -

Lin's fairyland - using some metallic glaze on top of the wood pieces.

Monica's vision in graduated pinks.

Linda's another blue girl!

So, a good painterly time with lunch and a natter - nothing better!

"We'll be friends forever, won't we Pooh?" asked Piglet
"Even longer" Pooh answered.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Introducing Tia ...

You may recall I visited a friend in the Highlands last October; she is owned by Tia - a cross between a German Shepherd and a Greyhound! I said I would have a go at painting her ...

This is something I've not done before - creating a painting that should be recognisable as Tia  - so no pressure then! After all, if I didn't like it I could always quietly bin it!

I decided to stick to my favourite mixed media components, and started with an outline drawing in pen. The background is created with acrylic inks dropped into wet; I used green for all Tia's walks in the glens, orange, because she has some orange tinges in her fur, and yellow, as unusually the sun shone when I visited!

I then used watercolour, coloured pencils and Neocolor II crayons for all the detail.

I sent the portrait up to the snowbound Highlands this week, and I'm so pleased my friend loves it!

My next challenge is Molly the cat  ...

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend.
Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.” 
Groucho Marx

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Not puss in boots ...

The Craft Barn have launched their year long challenge for 2017, which is based around a poem by Sara Coleridge - The Months.

I've decided to challenge myself too, as I much prefer to use as large a canvas as possible, and for past Craft Barn challenges I have always used a 10 x 8 inch format, which is the limit of smallness (for me!).

So, I considered doing ATCs - but no - a step too too far! I've compromised on the postcard format; time will tell if I struggle with it!

Anyway, the first couplet from the poem is -

January brings the snow,
Makes our feet and fingers glow.

There will always be an additional twist, and this one must include a bird in a wellington boot.

I've used all scraps from my paper box for this - one upside of the small format!

The background is acrylic roughly painted onto textured paper - this scrap is at least a couple of years old!

I've used acrylic sprayed scraps for the bird, stamping and die-cutting one of Tim Holtz's crazy ones. I then cut the legs off (ouch), but gave him a much better pair in boots which I hand cut from a really small scrap! Which just goes to show there is good reason to save even the tiniest piece of painted paper!

Also entering the current Craft Stamper Anything Goes challenge.

Happy Sunday!

Thursday, 5 January 2017

I must have flowers, always, and always ...

... that's a quote from Claude Monet.

What do they say about best laid plans? I had quite a few paintings planned for the break in my art classes, then I went down with a pesky head cold, and even lost my voice for a few days, so the inspiration fairy was feeling a little pale and wan! I'm on the mend now, but still got a very fuzzy head and an irritating cough!

I did manage to finish off this painting, which I started about a month ago. Echinacea is one of my favourite flowers, as I'm drawn to the shapes they create.

I did the outline drawing first, using a dip pen and India ink, and then applied a little masking fluid to some areas. The background is acrylic inks dropped into a very wet surface, and then crinkled up clingfilm applied. Don't be tempted to remove the film until the paint has dried!

I then coloured the flowers with watercolour, Neocolor II crayons and coloured pencils.

Finally, I covered the whole piece with a very dilute yellow wash.

I hope that 2017 brings lots of arty inspriration to everyone!

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

A positively peculiar photographic production!

It is the final letter in the Craft Barn Alpha Dictionary challenge - P.

I realised as I looked around me when working on my latest art project that so many things I use start with P. Then - light bulb moment - it is my paraphernalia!

For this last letter I decided to do something completely different. This entry is done entirely on my computer. I took a photograph of all my stuff - paint, pastel, pencil, paintbrush, palette, paper, pipette - and created this ...

So, I've survived the year, and managed to keep up, here is a montage of the complete alphabet. If you wish to revisit any, just pick Craft Barn 2016 challenge in the label list.

Thank you for all your comments, I've really enjoyed reading them and they are very much appreciated. I've also enjoyed visiting other participants in the challenge - such an inspiration.

Wishing everyone a happy and peaceful 2017.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Green Christmas!

Recently completed my latest art class exercise, all about mixing greens. Now I understand a little about the science of mixing colours, I have no fear of mixing green, and the infinite number of tones and shades that can be achieved.

We used a very stylised picture as a reference, and we were also introduced to gouache. We only used the white goache and mixed it with the watercolour, but a very useful tool to have, as it creates an opaque colour, so you can paint over watercolour. The gouache mixes are the cornfields and also the far right field, plus a little on the near trees.

A three week break from my classes now, and I'm hoping to do some of my own "thing" in watercolour over the holidays.

Here is a photo of my bay tree suitably festive!

Wishing everyone a very Happy Christmas,
and a peaceful 2017.