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

Friday, 16 February 2018

Introducing Dixie the Diva ...

that's pronounced "diver".

I've had a particularly nasty virus for the past 10 days, when I've had no energy or inclination to anything. Feeling more human now, so I though I would introduce you to the latest member of my family!

This was a Powertex workshop which was particularly exhausting as it lasted 7 hours, but so enjoyable.

We started with a piece of shaped polystyrene and wrapped it in various layers of kitchen roll, masking tape and tin foil, which we then covered in Powertex. This was then fixed onto a steel rod embedded into a randomly carved piece of breezeblock. Wires were added for the fins and tails.

Eyes and mouth created with 3D Flex mixed with the Powertex and hand-shaped. The fins and tails made with fibres coated in Powertex.

The main body is covered in textural stuff such as paste and sand.

Finally got to work with various paints, overlaying mainly metallic and pearlescent colours.

I need to put some felt on the base so it doesn't mark surfaces. She is quite large so I need to find a good position for her.

But Dixie is ready for her close-up now!

 Kung Hei Fat Choi

(Year of the Dog)

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Infinite possibilities ...

I've been juggling too many projects recently! My floor is covered in "project trays".  These trays hold all the materials for each project so that I can find things easily. But it is not so good when you have to negotiate an obstacle course to get to my work table!

Anyway, following on from my first experience of acrylic pouring (for more detail see here), I decided to have another go with a pour and a swipe!

I've done these on pieces of mount board, about 8 inches by 5 inches.

This is a cup pour, and I used chalk paints and an interference paint too. Both worked, but it is impossible to photograph the effect of the interference paint which gives a lovely glow.

Next I tried a swipe using an old credit card, and the swipe colour is black. I included gold too.

Fascinating to watch the cells develop, and I didn't use any heat.

I had one failure, but only due to the fact I was doing it on a small piece of mount board. This should have been another swipe using a damp kitchen paper towel. I had to hold the towel with two hands, and with the board being so lightweight ... well the towel just swiped the board across the table!

So I dripped more paint on and took to blowing through a straw to see what happened ... quite interesting!

There are plenty of videos on You Tube about acrylic pouring. I prefer a pour to a swipe, and I do like the effects created. I'm now thinking about incorporating some in a painting.

Lovely to see some snowdrops and winter cyclamens; the days are getting longer, and I felt the warmth in the sun yesterday - happy days.

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