Monday, 2 November 2015

Creating the Art Journal page - Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves - Detail

It's been a funny few weeks.  Not funny haha but funny strange.  And not really strange just ..... not normal.  Whatever normal is!  I guess it's just life.  Last week I said that "...... life seemed to strike" and of course what I'm referring to is the bad side of life; that said, perhaps not bad but certainly less than good.  All of that combined with other stuff was stopping me from painting; it was at the root of why I couldn't be bothered with art.

However, I'd started painting again and while doing so helped block all of that stuff out for a little while it was all still there like this black cloud hanging over my head.  

Saturday was so grey; indeed so grey that it seemed to match my mood.  After moping about for a while I decided I needed to create, even if I was just doing some backgrounds at least I would be doing something creative.

As I started to get set-up I was aware of brightness outside even though the sky was grey and it was then that I realised that I was looking at the most magnificent autumn colours in my garden.  My mood started to lift a bit.

Inspired by the leaves in my garden
Although the sky was grey the leaves on the trees and those already fallen and now lying on the grass were glowing.

I didn't intentionally set about creating an autumn piece but clearly this beautiful sight influenced and inspired me - as nature so often does.

Given everything that's been going on I thought that it might be good to start my page with some journaling.  It wasn't stuff that I would want to be seen so I decided that I would write in a way that it would be hard to make out what was there.  

I wrote in a large scrawl deciding that I would not worry about grammar, punctuation or spelling. Though I guess I'm a bit 'old school' as every so often I found myself stopping to think about just that!  I wrote horizontally then turned the page sideways and wrote vertically.

Step 1 - Journaling my thoughts

Step 2 - Using the Gelli Plate to create a background layer

I decided that I would use my Gelli Plate to create the background.  While I didn't want my journaling to be seen I was happy for it to show through a bit as the first layer.

When I started to put colour onto the Gelli Plate, I realised then that I was being influenced by what I was seeing out the window.

My page was much bigger than the Gelli Plate but I was happy with that as where one print was overlapping the other I was getting increased depth with the additional layers.
Step 3 - using leaves as stamps

My only concern was that as I wasn't letting the layers dry in between I was in danger of creating mud.  So out came the heat gun aka the hairdryer.

I then had a bit of a fail.  I got some leaves from outside, placed them on the Gelli Plate and tried to use the brayer to put paint on over them.  It didn't work.  So I then took a couple of different sized leaves and with my finger applied a layer of paint to them really working the paint in so that the veins would be highlighted and I then used them as a stamp on the page.  I used the brayer to apply more pressure.

Step 4 - find a quote, add more layers with stamps, acrylics and ink pads

I liked the way this was working but felt that the leaves needed to pop a bit more.  I thought about going round them with pen but didn't want a full and hard line on them.  So I took the leaves again and rubbed in some black acrylic and stamped over each of the prints already on the page.  This gave the leaves a bit more definition.

By now, I was at the point where I was thinking that this was shaping up nicely but there was something missing.  Did I need more leaves?

An aside! This thought took me back in my mind to when I was about 17 in my High School art class.  We'd been asked to paint a scene of umbrellas in the rain.  My art teacher saw my finished piece and said it was good apart from one thing - there weren't enough umbrellas!

He was clearly a city boy used to seeing lots of people in the street.  I was a country girl where even seeing the three or four umbrellas that I'd painted would have been a lot.  It's all about perspective - wish I could have that conversation with him now.

Stamping, highlighting and quote added - job done!

Anyway, I decided I didn't want to add more leaves but I did want more depth both with more layers and some deeper colours.

So I added some stamping and applied colour with my fingers including gold to try and get the 'glow' that I was seeing outside.  I also used a gold pen just to add some little marks here and there.

I searched for a quote and came up with this one:

"Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree" - Emily Bronte 

I felt way better when I had finished than when I started.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Creating Art - Number 1 Priority

Detail: Perhaps an eagle or an owl

1: Some papers to use as collage
It's been a while since I blogged and although not as long it's also been a while since I created art.  I had got into the swing of blogging, or so I thought, then something came along and I missed a week.  The week grew into a month and here I am now several months later.  I did manage to keep creating art for a while spending many days, evenings and even nights into the wee small hours painting in my studio.

2: The collaged page
Then life seemed to strike.  First, I was hit by what I assume was some kind of bug that resulted in dreadful fatigue.  As much as I wanted to paint, I just didn't have the energy to do anything very much.  Then I had what I can only describe as 'artists block'.  This descended deeper into feeling like I just couldn't be bothered painting and in fact it got to the stage where I thought I might never paint again.

More life has been happening the last few weeks and while I did want to paint I just didn't get the time to or when I did I was way to tired because of everything else I was doing.

3: I was drawn to bright acrylics
Today, although I had a lot to do I decided that I just had to paint.  I had a list of things to do as long as my arm but when I sat down this morning to have a cup of coffee and was going to watch something on YouTube I realised that if I had time to do that then I had time to paint.

4: But then toned down with some white gesso
And so I set my phone timer for one hour knowing that I could easily afford that amount of time before there were other things including appointments that I couldn't change. But for that hour creating art was my number 1 priority.

It was so good to feel paper and paints and oil pastels.  The outcome is the piece featured here which is still a work in progress.  It still needs a fair bit of work but it was just so good to get back to creating.
I've made some fairly large and significant changes in my life in order to be able to devote more time to focussing on my art.  I realised today that while I have dreams and hopes relating to my art I've let my self be derailed over the last few weeks and months.  I need to make art a priority more often and I need to set out in more detail how I am going to work towards turning my dreams and hopes into reality.  For today though, I'm just pleased to be back creating and blogging.

5: Less than an hour later - tree, rocks and perhaps an emerging eagle or owl

Monday, 22 June 2015

Art at a Snail's Pace

As I look round the studio and reflect on last week I realise that once again I actually got more art done than I thought I had.  That said, most of what I got done was starting things rather than finishing them.  Oh yes, there's a lot of work-in-progress!  But this morning I've decided that that's ok.  What's the rush to get things finished?  For the most part I can set my own timetable; indeed I don't actually need a timetable except where I am taking part in swaps and I want to meet the agreed date for the swap.  I think this need to march on and get things done is a hangover from my previous existence where things had to be done by certain times and where I had project plans that were as long as I am tall.  So that's the past and this is now.  I want to enjoy the process of creating rather than just focus on having the product completed.

I find that I need to have more than one thing on the go partly because I seem to have taken on so much and also because I need to have drying time between layers on paintings.  And of course sometimes I just need to step away from a piece of work and leave it be for a while.

One of the things that I started last week was a free course from Hali Karla called 7 Directions.  This is available from
It's a really interesting approach to creative journaling and one that I intend to use over and over.

This image was the output from Day 1

I'm several weeks behind with the Documented Life Project 2015.  This is a great project with challenges and prompts that are of themselves very creative.

Sometimes though I'm struggling to think what to do or I get started, get the background done and then come to a halt.

As I've said above I want to enjoy the process and not just focus on having completed products and so I've also decided that I'm going to take my time with this.  Some pieces may remain as work-in-progress for a long time.

I noticed that in one of the galleries, I think in London, there is an exhibition of unfinished works.  The article I was reading also went on to talk about how artists decide when a piece is finished.  And so, I've decided that it's ok to have unfinished work and it's ok to go back and tinker with or redo some things on pieces that I might have previously declared as finished.

One thing that I did manage to finish this week was a face. For this exercise (I'm trying to do 100 Faces) I generally don't do any background - I really just want to focus on the face.

So, other than the swap items that I need to have ready to post later this week I'm not going to set any deadlines or work to any timetable.  I'm going to try and paint for at least a little while everyday but if I can't, then I can't.

It's art at a pace that's right for me and one in which I can really enjoy the process of creating.

Monday, 15 June 2015

A Little Bit of Art Goes a Long Way

Last week was another busy one though I felt that I didn't actually do much by way of art projects.  Good weather provided the opportunity to try and catch-up on garden tasks and jobs.  Oh the joy of sunny, dry weather.  I really missed spending time on painting and art journaling but as I look back now I realise that I did more that I actually thought!

Above is a detail from a journal spread for the Document Life Project.  I'm weeks behind but I'm sure I'll catch-up over the next few weeks.

I started my Garden Art Journal - I altered the journal by gluing pages together so that they would stand up to mixed media and applied a light coat of gesso - I still wanted some of the lines to show through.  My first page was inspired by daisies growing in the grass - this is a detail from it.

I also completed this page which was inspired by the Lisa Cheney workshop The Savage Mirror from 21 Secrets available from Dirty Footprints Studio.

So all in all I feel that I got more done than I had thought.

This morning, I took a trip to our local town and visited a few charity shops and a bric-a-brac shop to see if I could pick up some old books and other items that I could use.  Quite pleased with my little haul. It includes an old dictionary given by a teacher to a school and the inscription is dated 1948. It will be a great to use the pages in mixed media art but I'm actually quite loathe to pull it apart. I need to get over that!

Monday, 8 June 2015

Home is Where the Art Is

It's been a week since my first blog and it's been quite a busy week.  As well as setting up the blog I set up a Facebook page and got started on Twitter and Instagram.  And as well as that I found some time for arting.

Last week saw the final spreecast for the Painting the Feminine e-course.  I really got so much out of it that it's hard to do it justice in a few words here.  So, I've decided that I will do a review of the course in a week or so once I've had time to reflect on it.  I was amazed at the volume of work that I created during the course and all in all I was really quite pleased with what I produced.  I actually made a video flip through of all my paintings which I then shared with the group; I so enjoyed making the video.

I also managed to do a couple of faces for a Facebook Group that I participate in.  I recently got some Neocolours IIs and I created this face with them and added some markings with a black posca.  I need to practice more with the Neocolour IIs especially on the blending.

A friend sent me this sweet little journal for one of my other passions - gardening. Lots of pages in it for recording what's going on in the garden as well as plans and dreams for it.  I've decided that I'm going to make it my Garden Art Journal and to this end I've been taking some snaps of flowers and plants that are out at the moment.  I might prints some of these and glue them in or I might use them as inspiration for drawings; more than likely I'll do both. Looking forward to starting it.

The image to the right is the first stage of the completed journal page at the top of this post.  I didn't have anything in mind when I started the page and what came out at the end I was quite surprised at. But that is the joy of art journaling and intuitive painting.

This week also saw me set up my new studio space which I'm really excited about.  It's not very grand and it's in one of the outbuildings at home but I repurposed some furniture and I've now got all my supplies organised and put away. And I've got my little art desk that I can work at as well as space on the walls to display paintings.  I've recently received some items from other artists as part of art swaps and these will also go up in my studio for inspiration. I'm just so pleased to have some space to call my studio.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Starting Out

Close-up of a part of a journal page I completed as part of Painting the Feminine 2015 e-course run by Connie Solera of Dirty Footprints Studio

It's been a while since I blogged and I'm having to learn how to do it all over again!  But here I am with a new blog just starting out on this new journey.

I've always been an artist but I've not always practiced my art.  Other aspects of life always seemed to take up so much time and for so long I put art near the bottom of a long list of priorities.

I've been making changes in my life and as part of that I made the decision that I would spend more time on art.  And that's what I've been doing for a couple of years now.  I've especially been focussing on mixed media and art journaling.  And I've never enjoyed my art more than I'm enjoying it now.

There are so many great and inspiring artists out there and I expect I'll be mentioning a number of them as I blog more.

In the meantime, I just wanted to get this blog set up and started.  I really want to share this journey, this adventure, this new start with anyone else that's interested.