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

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.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Powertex, pattern and perfume

I've still not caught up with everything! Currently in the middle of having some decorating done, so everything has to be moved out and distributed around the house - no wonder I can't find anything! Then there are decisions to make on colour, design and what I'm going to replace ...

Anyway, took time out recently to do a Powertex workshop. Powertex is basically a fabric hardener, but can be used in so many different ways. This was a three hour workshop, and I did remember to take photos along the way, mainly to remind me what I did, and in what order!

First, arrange the pieces on the canvas until happy. Take a photo as a reminder.

I've used some open hessian (or burlap), cotton threads, cardboard, honesty seed heads and a cedar cone.

Next, everything is taken off and some ivory coloured Powertex poured onto the canvas, and spread around with a large palette knife. Working the knife back and forth also creates texture.

Then all the items were coated in Powertex and placed onto the canvas.

The cone was backed with some scrunched up hessian to stabilise it.

Whilst everything is still wet, applied some Powertex Bister (a coloured waterbased spray ink), and then heated with a hair dryer.

The Powertex will crack - the thicker the Powertex the bigger the cracks.

At this point, the canvas should be left to continue to dry naturally, but we had limited time, so I used more heat until most of it was dry.

I made some adjustments by applying more Bister, before moving onto the pigments, a dry powder mixed with the Powertex or a varnish and dry-brushed; I used some blue and copper. I don't think the seed heads worked as they are too delicate, so I tried to highlight them. I liked the cone, but it is in the wrong place!

This was a fun workshop, and as I love doing canvases, I'll be exploring Powertex more in the not too distant future!

Must just mention a recent trip to Hatfield House, where there is the most magnificent wisteria.

View of the original house where Elizabeth I spent her childhood

 Just love the little door - think I might have a go at painting it.

And here is my wisteria - not so magnificent, but the perfume is just as stunning!

It has turned really cold again, so I'm getting impatient for some warm sunshine.

Happy May!

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Togetherness: (noun) the pleasant feeling of being united with other people in friendship and understanding

I've been a bit slow with my blogging of late - no excuses, just not enough time. Sometimes I just want to shout STOP EVERYTHING while I catch up!

Anyway, recently the Fearless Four got together for a crafty day. Linda had a pack of 4 box canvases, and Lin provided some hessian ...

To start, I painted the canvas with pearlised paint and set aside.

The main panel is a piece of mountboard that I stamped and embossed first, before adding some texture paste at the bottom. Next, a sprinkling of Brushos, spritzed with water. I coloured the flowers with Inktense pencils (used with water). I then intensified the colour over the paste, and finally used some pearl glaze (a Fresco one made by Paper Artsy).

When dry, the mountboard was layered with the hessian onto the canvas with PVA glue.

And the other masterpieces ...

Linda didn't quite finish.
The mountboard was cut into four after stamping, and there is a bit of decoupage there. Love those flowers.

Lin also didn't finish.
The canvas has some texture paste on it, and I like the matching canvas and mountboard colour.

Monica did some decoupage too, with an effective monochromatic look.

Another enjoyable day.

Love Spring, when my garden is at it's most colourful -

My tree peony, with blooms as big as dinner plates!

And one of my camelia's - so pretty.

It's going to turn cold again next week, with an arctic blast, which will probably wreck havoc on the flowers, so I'm enjoying them while I can!

Thursday, 13 April 2017


It's time for the Craft Barn's monthly challenge using the Sara Coleridge poem The Months of the Year.

April's couplet is -

April brings the primrose sweet,
Scatters daisies at our feet.

We also have to include either a primrose or a daisy.

As I've already mentioned in previous posts, I am struggling with the postcard format, but I am determined to stick to it!

I've used a piece of Yupo as the background, which was created with Brushos and clingfilm (see previous post here).

I then gesso'd a book page, cut out some petals, and added a bit of sparkle for the daisy centre (cut from another scrap).

Less is more with this size, so I'm not going to fret about trying to get too much into these small pieces.

Really enjoying all this sunshine, though it is a bit chilly in the mornings. But ... I did wash the car today and did the inside too! Not sure what came over me - it must be Spring!

Happy Easter!

Friday, 7 April 2017

Unmasked ... and a revelation!

The last exercise on my watercolour and mixed media course involving using masking fluid in several different ways, when we were asked to do a bit of experimentation!

We were given a reference of blue poppies to work with, so firstly I made an outline drawing, then I completely masked out the poppy heads with neat masking fluid.

The background is created in several layers, using diluted masking fluid 50/50 with water (I use Pebeo Drawing Gum).

The dilute masking fluid can be applied by brush or by spattering, but I decided to try it in a spray bottle.

The several background layers are made up of various watercolour washes, spraying the masking fluid at various points between the washes, so I could build up different densities/colours of wash. Once I thought the background was complete I removed all the masking fluid. In some areas I applied further washes until I was happy.

I also used some masking fluid on the stems and leaves too. Most of the stems and leaves were painted with my Inktense pencils and water.

I removed the masking fluid from the flower heads, and then added more masking fluid for the stamens before I painted the flowers, wet on dry in several layers. Finally, I painted the stamens.

Using dilute masking fluid was a revelation, and I so love the sprayed effect, but although I tried to thorough wash and rinse out the spray bottle, it did gum up the works, so I need to find very cheap spray bottles!

I've been taking my art courses for nearly 2 years now, so I'm taking a break from them while I consolidate what I've learned - which is an awful lot! But ... I've already signed up for a short course in May!

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Recipe for a good time ...

Yupo Paper
Alcohol Inks
Smoked Salmon
A good friend

Had a session with all of the above last week. I tried Yupo paper some time ago, but I recently got together with a friend for another go!

 Here is all that I produced, and I'll go through some individual pieces in more detail.

Doing a landscape with alcohol inks is fun. For the sky I used a cotton wool ball with some blending solution and swirled it around.

I used the solution in a mister to add texture, and the corner of a credit card to create some grasses. The edge of a coffee stirrer moves the ink around.

The moon is a drop of silver mixative.

Similar techniques used here.

I thought I could use this as a background and stamp some fish on it!

A little more random using Isopropyl alcohol in the mister (which is a bit stronger than the blending solution), and dropping in some Isopropyl too.

I'll probably use this for a background.

Now to Brushos - I spritzed plain water onto the Yupo and sprinkled the Brushos. I then just left it to dry.

Makes a very subtle background for stamping.

I love using clingfilm on all liquid media but I can be impatient.

As Yupo is completely non-absorbent I had to be extremely patient! But I do love the effect.

I sprinkled the Brushos on dry, then spritzed before applying the cling film. I have a tendency to peek under the film quite regularly, but I had to wait til the next day before removing it!

On this one, I created a Brusho background, then added a couple of drops of water and Brusho on the bottom edge, before taking my trusty straw and blowing.

The paint moves very freely on the Yupo so not much puff is needed!

And here is what Linda W created with Alcohol Inks too.

Great colour combinations.

A fun session getting reacquainted with these materials!

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Hello Spring!

Another month has passed and its time for the Craft Barn challenge, using the third couplet in the poem by Sara Coleridge The Months of the Year.

March brings breezes, loud and shrill,
Stirs the dancing daffodil.

And the extras to include this time are daffodils and hares.

I'm finding my choice of a postcard format quite restricting, especially with the specific additions that need to be included. Anyway, this is supposed to be a challenge, so I press on  - I can only get better ...

I drew some daffs in pen before doing a quick background watercolour wash, then coloured the flowers with Inktense pencils.

Surprisingly I found a hare stamp!

I love this time of year, especially with the warm sunny days we are having. I just love to see the yellow daffodils with the pink cherry blossoms against a brilliant blue sky. Such a joyous sight!

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Introducing Molly ...

You may recall I did a portrait of a friend's dog called Tia (see here).  I thought I would have a go at a cat, so this is Molly, sadly no longer with us.

I was asked to use pastel colours, so I did the background with very dilute acrylic inks, wet on wet, and just let them mingle.

I then used a photo as a reference. The outline is drawn in acrylic ink, and then I've used a combination of watercolour, Neocolor II crayons and coloured pencils. Quite tricky getting the fur colours and patterns!

This formed part of a birthday present to Molly's owner, who now has a black cat - which could be a little trickier to paint methinks!

Whiskers and tails
And thousands of frails
Lion-like nose
With an angelesque pose
Silky pattern'd fur
O'er heart-touching purr.
Terri Guillemets