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

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!

Friday, 29 September 2017

My favourite colour is sunset ...

... I just love that pink and orange combination that spreads across the sky, and is always so fleeting.

This piece is pure experimentation!

I started with an 10 x 8 canvas board, and covered it in iridescent orange acrylic paint.

I've got these little boxes of wood shavings in various colours, courtesy of my sister. Regular readers of my blog will know that Laura is a woodturner, and some of the wood she uses comes in fantastic natural colours (see Laura's Etsy shop Treasures From the Tree here).

By the way, the link to my Etsy shop is on the sidebar!

One of the wood shavings is from a tree called Pink Ivory, and is also a stunning pinky-orange colour.

I took that and sprinkled it over lines of PVA glue, patted it down and then waited for it to dry.

Meanwhile, I added some blues to the sky.

When the wood shavings were dry, I took Pebeo Prisme paint in a couple of colours and poured it between the wood trails.  Note - when poured this paint spreads far and wide, so it soaked into a lot of the wood! Never mind ... my sandbanks are being inundated with the turning tide!

When everything was dry I took some metal leaf and created a setting sun. I also used metal foil for the wave tops.

So, a semi-abstract creation which has quite a few errors, but I had fun - which really is all that matters!

Clouds come floating into my life,
no longer to carry rain or usher storm,
but to add colour to my sunset sky.

Rabindranath Tagore

The current Paper Artsy challenge is all about metallics, follow the link to see some fabulous inspiration! I'm going to add my effort to all the other great entries!

Friday, 22 September 2017

All things being equal ...

Today is the Autumn equinox when the day and night are nearly equal in length, apparently there is about a 10 minute difference in the UK. The days on which the length of day and night are exactly equal is called the equilux, and occurs a few days after the autumn equinox. This date will vary depending on where on Earth you are, and indeed equiluxes do not occur at all close to the equator. Mr Google can give more info!

So, I've nearly run out of time on this month's Craft Barn challenge. The next couplet is -

Warm September brings the fruit,
Sportsmen then begin to shoot.

There is an abundance of blackberries around at the moment - blackberry and apple crumble - yum - proper comfort food!

Anyway, I have done a quick watercolour of some blackberries.

Happy equinox - and if you are reading this on Monday/Tuesday - Happy equilux!

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Pals, Powertex and Pebeo

The Fearless Four recently got together, and we are still on that Powertex road! This time using a mirror as the base. As I had recently done a mirror with other friends (see here), I decided to turn mine into a picture.

Last year, I had a Pebeo play and used some Eco-board tiles, to create this ... using the Moon and I think a bit of the Prisme, not sure though, so long ago!

Since then they have sat in a box waiting for inspiration to strike. I found they fitted perfectly over the centre mirror ...

I first blocked the mirror aperture with cardboard, and covered the whole piece with a mixture of ivory and grey Powertex. I then used Stone Art all over, into which I embedded some loose woven hessian.

Once dry, I've used acrylic paint for the colour, and dry brushed gold paint, together with some copper gilding wax.

And what did the others get up to ...

Lin's mirror has some metal butterflies and flowers, with Bister. There's a bit of crackle going on there too.

Linda went for texture and flowers, with a bit of silver sparkle.

Monica used buttons - makes a change from shells!

I think we all have a button box, so a great way to use up those odd ones.

Another great day. We have already put the next one on the calendar, and we will not be using Powertex!