Sunday, 21 July 2013

Three Little Birdies !

A few posts back I recommended the "Art Journal Freedom" book by Dina Wakley - it's full of good stuff about mixing colours and composition with lots of suggestions for journal page design, challenges and techniques. I was taken especially with one particular technique for an "artsy bird" design, so decided to have a go. This is the result and I tentatively gave it to Lindsay for her birthday last Friday - she seemed to like it a lot and has hung it on her wall anyway, so I guess it's okay - it's so hard to judge your own stuff objectively! - but I did enjoy making it and that's what counts.

I used an 8" x 8" canvas, gessoed and then painted with acrylic paints.  The trio of birds were a copyright-free image from The Graphics Fairy, traced onto the canvas, then outlined again with a Stabilo All black pencil, some of the lines wet-brushed over and painted.  Various stencils added with Dylusions Ink Sprays.  A little quote written onto the bird bodies - "Wherever There are Birds There is Hope" - and embellishments added to the top left-hand corner.

"Life is the Flower for which Love is the Honey"

Feeling ambitious - hmm - I had a go at another smaller 5" x 7" canvas using the same technique.  I'd been really drawn to this vintage bee image, again on The Graphics Fairy website, and knew I wanted to use it.  I used a flower stencil in the background, then rather overdid adding painty details to them, so I'm not very happy with the result.  But I may well  use the bee image again on another canvas.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Mystery Moth?

We've just had a whole lot of well overgrown ivy chopped down - it was beginning to creep in round my son, Max's bedroom window which he's not been too happy about considering he hates spiders and is convinced they all come rampaging into his room purely to frighten him.  Graham isn't keen on them either.  Why is it that it's mostly men who are scared of spiders?  I've had to be the spider-catcher in our household for years!

However, Max discovered this large moth in our bathroom last night - he was fascinated by the size of it and I was called into action to help rescue it.  It was too large for Max to comfortably hold it in his hands without fear of damaging its wings, but he used a spider-catching contraption (a gift from an ex-girlfriend I believe!) to capture it and we let it happily fly out through the window.  Pretty sure it must've been living/resting amongst all the ivy and flown first into Max's room through the window then followed the lights on the landing into the bathroom.  Graham spotted a similar one (guessing not the actual same one) this morning when the remainder of the ivy was being cut down.

I've tried "googling" to see if I can spot what moth it is but without much success.  It was very dark looking, almost black really, but the flash of the camera on the photos I hurriedly took (this was at 2 in the morning I might add!) make it appear much lighter than it was but at the same time clearly show its markings.  I would estimate its resting wingspan was around 5-6 cm and its colouring mostly dark brown.  It's probably a very common moth but I'd love to know which one.

Any ideas?

Saturday, 13 July 2013

A Trio of Faces

I've completed three new faces in my little book this week .....


 "Worn Out"


I've used mixtures of acrylic paints, pencils both black and coloured and Neocolor II wax pastels to create the pages.  When I start drawing I'm never sure where I'm going to end up so the results can be quite scary sometimes!  I was a little over-zealous with the Sunshine page and over-wetted an area around her nose particularly, so that the paper scuffed up badly - WHOOPS! - more patience needed I think!

Monday, 8 July 2013

After 77 Years ......

......... Yes, at last, we have a British Wimbledon Men's Final Winner ! - Well done, Andy! - he said he tried to do his best - beating the No 1 Player in three straight sets in temperatures that at times reached 50 degrees centigrade counts as "doing your best" in my book !!!

Lindsay and I settled down to a fantastic afternoon of tennis, complete with an array of nibbles to keep us going, including the obligatory Robinsons Barley Water, Lambrini and a Strawberry/Lime flavoured Cider (as a nod to the strawberries and cream of Wimbledon fame - no real strawberries to be had anywhere *LOL*), and accompanied by much shouting, groaning, cheering and raised arms as Andy and Novak battled it out for the Title.

What a great match it was and what a well-deserved win it was too!


Saturday, 6 July 2013


Here's my latest face drawing effort, which I've entitled "Contemplation".  

I began by colouring the background with a swoosh of Neocolour II Water Soluble Wax Pastels in Salmon, Yellow and Malachite Green, spritzing with water to blend a little. I used a soft black pencil to sketch out the face using the shapes made by the blended pastels as a guide for placement.  I kept everything soft by colouring in the face and flowers with Derwent Artists Colour Pencils.  She's a bit sterner looking than I'd've liked, but never mind - it's all practise!

Yesterday was a very exciting day at Wimbledon - first, the incredible exhausting semi-final between Djokowitz and Del Potro, then followed by the Murray match against Janowitz - again, another "nailbiter" as Murray lost the first set then - despite the break for the roof to be closed - went on to win in grand style. Tomorrow I'll be over at Lindsay's so we can watch the Murray v Djokowitz Final - no doubt there'll be much shouting and shrieking going on if the matches yesterday are anything to go by!

Good Luck, Andy !!!

Friday, 5 July 2013

Let's Face It .....

..... They're not brilliant (it's ages since I've done any real drawing or sketching figures, so yes ..... practise, practise and more practise is definitely the way to go), but I do intend making faces of one sort or another as regularly as I can, time permitting, in my little journal book (which I measured and is actually nearer 6" x 8"). Here are my two latest offerings:-

"Flower Child"
(Drawn with a black permanent ink pen and coloured with Promarkers and Marvy Le Plumes)

"Simply Zentangled"
(Used several black ink pens with different thicknesses - it's quite tricky to come up with fresh ideas for zentangle patterns and I need to loosen up - ended up with achey fingers from gripping my pen too tightly)!

I aim to try out a variety of techniques for creating my faces, some will work better than others and hopefully my dabblings will improve as I go along.  Meanwhile, I still keep on adding snippets to my "Smash" journal - little reminders (ticket stubs, receipts, business cards, photos, jottings) of my everyday goings-on and trips out - the latest being to a regularly held Handcraft and Vintage Fair at the Winter Gardens in town, which Lindsay and I went to at the weekend.  Had a good browse, saw one or two items we fancied but ultimately didn't buy, then had a pleasant lunch at the local Noodle Bar.

Friday afternoon I'll be sat in front of the telly to watch Andy Murray's semi-final match -I believe his opponent is 6' 8" with a very powerful serve, so it looks like being another "edge of your seat" affair - Lindsay and I were exhausted after watching Andy's previous 5-set thriller on Wednesday (it was good to watch though)!  Let's believe he'll make it to the Final again and come out on top this year!

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

I recommend ........

......... a couple of good books I've acquired recently.  The first is "Stash and Smash: Art Journal Ideas" by Cindy Shepard.  It's only a small book, about 42 pages, but packed with over 120 ideas for using your stash and recycling everyday stuff into your journals. It's had mixed reviews on Amazon, so it's one of those you either love or hate.  Doesn't matter whether you're a beginner or an expert, I personally have found it a really useful source of inspiration for my journalling with lots of tips and good ideas.

The second book I'd like to recommend is "Art Journal Freedom" by Dina Wakley which is all about using colour and composition in your journals - love the artwork in this book and lots of techniques/page exercises to try.

Sites worth checking out are Dina's own blog and her website. Also, through reading her book I have discovered a couple of excellent sites - Create Mixed Media (which has loads of arty ideas/videos/links on it) and The Graphics Fairy which is a wonderful site full of thousands of vintage copyright-free images which you can download and use in your own work.

Whilst I was browsing these sites I came across mention of a project/idea to create 100 faces, plus Traci Bautista, in another book I possess (Doodles Unleashed), recommends practise, practise and more practise in making faces. I have a small plain journal book (about 5" x 7" - ish?) that I picked up from Asda some while back, so I've decided to fill it with my own face experiments - here's the first one that I did yesterday.  It's not titled "Feeling Blue" because I was feeling sad, but simply because I'd covered the page with a wash of some leftover blue acrylic paint from another project. I sketched the face first with a Stabilo All Black Pencil, then overdrew with a fine black pen. Coloured in with a mix of Promarkers and Marvy le Plumes.  On the facing page I've jotted a few notes as to what I did and what I used. I used to love sketching figures and portraits in my schooldays, so thought it would be fun to get back into it again.

Not being much of a gardener myself and Lindsay having discovered a big love of gardening in recent months, she decided to make up a lovely big pot of mixed blooms for Graham and I to brighten up our backyard - there's all sorts in it, sunflowers (I love them), nasturtiums, oh and a number of other plants I can't remember the name of now (got a list of them jotted down on my noticeboard though) - told you I was a rubbish gardener!  The tallest sunflower is now tied to a bamboo stake and growing well, but no sign of a flower yet - but this lovely yellow nasturtium flower appeared the other day and since taking this photo, more have appeared plus some gorgeous orange ones too.  I noticed this morning that something purplish was also  starting to peek out too - it remains to be seen what it will turn out to be!

Finally, the results of the test Graham had were inconclusive so he has to have a more invasive test to find out exactly the extent of his illness. In the meantime he has been given an inhaler which is helping with his breathlessness and is on a course of tablets which are definitely increasing his appetite and giving him more (mental) energy, so things are feeling quite stable at the moment.  

Consequently, I have been convinced by Lindsay and Graham to have a treat so - yes - I AM booked on one of Tim Holtz's workshops when he's teaching them in Coventry next month. Lindsay will be there also the day before, in her capacity as a P.I. designer, but we're both stopping over in the hotel that night and will be travelling back home together after the workshop ends. I've never attended any of T.H.'s workshops before so am really looking forward to this one and the tag book we'll be making looks fabulous !