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, 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!

Thursday, 25 May 2017

City lights

I wanted to have a play with Powertex, and see how it worked with stuff I've already got. It was first formulated as a fabric hardener, but you can use it on so many other things.

I've used corrugated cardboard, cotton threads and microbeads for the textures, and Dylusion sprays, and gilding waxes for the colour.

I first spread ivory coloured Powertex over the box canvas, then placed all the elements, using more Powertex as they were added.

I left it overnight before applying any colour.

When dry, everything is quite solid and secure. Powertex do their own sprays, pigments and varnish, but you only need to use them if the item needs to be weatherproof. I'm not likely to put a canvas outside, so I wanted to try the sprays I already had. Decided to use the Dylusion ones, as the colours are so strong and vibrant. I then used some gilding waxes for the highlights, and sprinkled some mica flakes too.






Thursday, 18 May 2017

Today ... I shall frolic

We are up to May with the Craft Barn twelve month challenge, and the next two lines of the poem are:

May brings flocks of pretty lambs,
Skipping by their fleecy dams.

and there are no compulsory components this month, although there is not a lot of choice with that couplet - maybe a lamb?

The best thing about doing postcard size is I can use up the small scraps in my ever expanding scrap box.

I started with a small piece of watercolour card that I think I created using Brushos. I then found a piece of handmade paper, which is very easy to tear if you create the tear line with water, and it does look a bit fluffy! I also tore round the head after drawing it, and then a few sticks for the skippy legs!

I've named him Frolic ...


Still in the middle of decorating the living room, so I'm camped in the kitchen. Looking forward to getting stuff back in its rightful place, as I'm already starting to mislay things!

At last, I can feel some warmth in the sun (when it makes an appearance), so happy frolicking ...

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Another bluebell wood!

As I've spent most of the past couple of years in watercolour classes , I thought I would get the acrylics out and attempt my bluebell wood - again!

I did find it hard going to start with, and obviously the finish is totally different to a watercolour, but I did find it interesting that I used my brush in a different way to how I used to paint with acrylics, so it turned out to be a bit impressionistic. Also, I realise this is the first painting I've done with just acrylic paint, and not mixed it up with collage bits and pieces.

I used a canvas board which I found lurking at the back of my cupboard, and the acrylics were the heavy body Basics by Liquitex (the student quality ones).


Still waiting for summer to arrive so I can throw off the jumpers and coats, so ...

a little summer something from Emily Dickenson while we wait ...

A soft Sea washed around the House
A Sea of Summer Air
And rose and fell the magic Planks
That sailed without a care -
For Captain was the Butterfly
For Helmsman was the Bee
And an entire universe
For the delighted crew.