Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Finding a style

I've been playing with a variety of techniques, stamps and stencils as I try and work out my own style. I'm getting closer. I've worked out that I don't get on well with traditional watercolours, paints, sentiment stamps, very messy grunge, industrial styles, brayers or orange.
I do like using distress markers for controlled water colour effects ie with a water pen and spritzing with them with a spray tool. I like twirly, curvy, ornate stencils, limited grunge, printing or writing quotes, Kraft cards and book pages, cool colours such as greens, blues, greys with a hint of warmth from rose or lavender and slightly wacky stamps. So I wouldn't be a fan of stamps featuring cute children or animals although a quick look online will show how popular those stamps are, it's just not for me. If this all sounds a bit prescriptive it probably is, in a way that's what I wanted. I needed to work out my preferences.
I think I've found a foundation I can work on.
Years ago I had a fairy stamp from Lavinia stamps but as I'm also not a fairy person, it was rarely used and then given away. But I remembered the website and revisited it again recently and bought two stamps which I absolutely love. Above is their Fairy Thistles stamp. I stamped this onto a scrap piece of card and cut out a mask. Then I stamped it onto clean card using an oil based versa mark grey ink. I put the mask over the top and spritzed with distress markers ripe persimmon, picked raspberry and worn lipstick. What you can't see in the pic is that once I removed the mask I coloured in those thistle heads using a clear wink of stella glitter pen. Shame you can't see because it gives the whole card a lift! The edges were smudged with worn lipstick ink and the whole thing was mounted onto orange backing card. I ran it through a printer to add the sentiment. Finished, but it's a bit plain. Lesson learned.
For card 2, I added a stencil background round the edges and corners. It's all the same as the first card except I used distress markers old paper, pumice and worn lipstick for both the spritzed background and the stencil. I plan to work on this a bit more and see how else I can add layers or texture to make it a bit more interesting. It's nearly there but not quite!

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Searching for a creative voice - part 3

The experiments have continued, I've used techniques which are new to me and treid to get greater use out of my crafting stash. Some things have been more succesful than others but instead of dismissing these, I've tried to work out exactly what didn't work.
Grey and pink is a colour combination i wanted to try and they suggested something architectural. This is the background created using a crafters workshop stencil and some puffs of the 'old paper' distress marker using a distress sprayer. To be honest, I liked this so much I didn't want to add anything else.
I chose a rubber stamp from this collection:
I stamped onto a separate piece of card stock, added some words on a piece of kraft card and stuck it in place.

If I were to do this again I'd mute the background more, perhaps with a layer of gesso over the top. I think this would allow the stamped image to stand out more, I'd also use a black ink pad for the architectural image rather then the grey. What I like is the accidental effect of shadow created by the kraft card on the left of the image, so I'd cut the kraft to the same length as the image to enhance that.
Next I wanted to try and add some texture to a page. I've had these jars of ultra thick embossing powders for years and I don't think the colour selection is that bad and the stencils gave a lovely background but I definitely chose the wrong stamps for this project!
As you can see this page is a bit of a mess.
Note to self - don't use ultra thick embossing powders on detailed images, dummy!
Having learned that lesson, this morning I woke up with a page in my mind and got it finished quite quickly. First I covered the page in a layer of matte mod podge, then added torn strips of printed tissue paper before adding another mod podge layer to seal it all. it was coloured with a pink and peachy gelatos which I rubbed in with a wet wipe so it's quite subtle. I had a bit of fun too with some crackle glaze I found at the back of a drawer.
I drew and cut out a heart shape from deep red card and scuffed it up by scraping at the edges and cutting out seqctions. The kraft paper was used again to cut very thin strips to join the heart sections together. Some stamped letters were cut out and scruffed up again before being added in the bottom corner. Done! And this page, I like :)
Supplies used were:

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Tim Holtz, stencils & markers inspiration

As part of my current experimentation to discover what floats my creative boat I've been coming at projects in a new ways. Instead of having a visualisation of how I want something to look and then choosing supplies, I've been doing it the other way round, gathering a random collection of things such as stencils, colours and stamps and seeing what they suggest. That's how this arrived....
The background was made using one of Ken Oliver's colour bursts (the green one) which work in a very similar way to brushos colour pigments but are more vibrant, sometimes this is what I want, sometimes I prefer the more muted and subtle results of brushos. I stamped over it with a grey ink using a random stamp which just fitted into the space left by the background and used a Tim Holtz stencil and Hickory Smoke mini ink pad to make the diamond shapes. I didn't want to leave these blank so I added some doodling.
The stencil I used was this one...
I seem to be turning to this one a lot so I decided to go for softer, less industrial supplies for the next project. Starting with the colours, I turned to Tim Holtz distress markers, regular readers will know I love these. I made a little scribble with the brush end and went over it with a water brush to see which worked together best. Then selected some pretty stencils.
I used this gorgeous Hero Arts stencil and spritzed old paper through it for a background.

Then using milled lavender, picked out the flower heads from this stencil in random places over the background. Finally I added the bird on a branch stamp below. I stamped it twice, first in wheelbarrow greythen in black. I wanted a shadow effect, not sure if that worked or if I should put my glasses on.

I added some spottiness from the stamp in the same pack in brown round the edges and added two branches on the left of the page. The sentiment was written by hand, smodged a little round the edges with brown again and stuck in place. It's from a Beatles song and I have it on a silver necklace which was a gift from Himself.

I changed the words a bit. Sorry Beatles.
Last weekend I made myself a mandala wheel to colour in the evenings. I wanted to try out the water colour properties of the Tim Holtz markers.
I selected my favourites shades of blue and green and used words from a song I'd heard on the radio which was buzzing round my head. (Mama Cass, make your own kind of music. Turn it up LOUD and tell me it doesn't make you smile.)
Nice colours but a bit I added more doodles. I don't think this is finished yet, it needs more interesting detail added. It's a work in progress. But I absolutely love how softly the colours bleed. So that worked :)

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Searching for a creative voice part 2

I mentioned that there has been a lot of inspiration coming out of this year's CHA (the American Craft and Hobby Association) trade show and I've bought some more of the lighter, brighter distress markers and some new stencils. I want to mush them all together, inking, stencilling, staping and doodling to see what happens. And all of this is in an attempt to see if I can find my unique creative style!
My first simple experiment. Some spring coloured stencilling, a word to frame and doodles to frame it.
For my second experiment I gethered together the things below which were a mix of colours I wanted to see work together and a new stamp I wanted to use.
Between us we made this...
The quote from Jean Anoiulh has a personal connection which I never feel from the sentiments and words you can buy as rubber stamps. I scroll through online stores looking for the right words but never find the ones which really speak to me. I've learned my first lesson then about what my style is - and it doesn't include off the peg word stamps. This is great and I'll save money on stamps!
The following day I decided to use the same "recipe" ie make a background, add a stamp but instead of adding writing, I wanted to add doodling.

I splatted the colour burst on a piece of smooth hot pressed watercolour paper and spritzed it. Then I used a permanent ink to stamp on a piece of tissue paper. I added a layer of gesso to create a whiteness under where I wanted to place the image. Once I'd smoothed the stamped image on the sheet, I sealed it with matte Mod Podge. There needed to be more blue so I sprayed some salty ocean one the page and spritzed with water before drying with a heat gun. The doodles were added and where I'd drawn onto very dark colours, I tried to get the flowers to pop by making a small with dot with a white sharpie.
Both of these experiments are a good starting place and I look forward to playing further! After all this hard work I was shouted downstairs by Himself and the mutt for our first cuppa in the later morning sunshine. It's Valentine's Day today and is early in the year for outside drinks. We had to wear thick coats and wrap our cold hands round the mugs but the promise of spring to come and life outside again is exciting :)
And this spring we have a puppy to share it with.

Searching for a creative voice part 1

I have so many interests I sometimes feel like a fibberty gibbet butterfly brain. Constantly fluttering between paper arts, quilting, needle felting, zentangling and baking. But the truth is I've discovered each has its season and they feed into each other so instead of being widely varying activities, they compliment each other. Take quilting, this is generally an autumn and winter thing for me, appreciated best when the frost outside bites.
Fabrics and quilts are cosy things which speak of dark nights spent with a needle by a glowing fireside.
Baking fits in with this season too. One of my favourite things is to curl up in a well cushioned chair with a pile of recipe books researching new recipes to freeze or store away ready for when visitors drop by. The boys sometimes help out too but I removed the biscuits with their rude words before taking the photo!
It's lovely to spend time in the warmth of a kitchen on a cold day, filling the house with the festive scents of cinnamon, apples, cloves and oranges.
A row of jars and tins filled with welcoming nibbles or Christmas specials feels like a practical way to hibernate when the days are short.
As we leave the short days behind us and climb into spring my interests change. The new year is when I feel curiosity building up, time to learn a new technique or develop an existing skill. Usually it's paper crafts and zentangling. After tidying away after the latest quilt or growing weary of washing up baking trays, I like the simplicity of pens and paper and instead of needing to follow precise measurements or weighing ingredients, I can freewheel. My mind is off the hook and floating free.
In all these things I'm searching for the unique spark of creativity. I can copy a pattern and follow a recipe but creating something new, original and unique doesn't come so easily. How do you find your unique style? That thing that makes your artwork instantly recognisable as yours? I'm beginning to think it will only be found in the art for arts sake, things you do when your mind is not hindered by instructions or under pressure to produce a finished piece of work. And it's very relaxing to just doodle...
Something I rarely mention is music but it plays a huge part in my crafting life. There are some quilts I've made which in my mind will always be associated with a particular piece of music which I listened to over and over while setting my stitches. I listen to a lot of radio drama and comedy and those have special associations with things I've made. The quilt I've just completed for my nephews first birthday is linked in my memory with Bleak Expectations, a very silly radio comedy based (very loosely!) in Victorian England.
Another quilt given as a Christmas present last year was made while listening to series 4 of John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme and another remains associated with the radio dramatisations of Cadfael. Kate Bush is fairly prominent and her lyrics are prime source material for some art journaling I'm planning. Equally Eminem has loads of words which spark off cretive thoughts and may feature somewhere soon. So as I continue to search for that creative voice, I'll pay more attention to the music.
My experiments with paper, inks and pens will continue in part 2 of this post....

Friday, 12 February 2016

Stuff my dog does

We got our Parson Russell puppy, Buster, late last summer. He's now 7 months old and as the weeks pass, his personality is developing. He laughs a lot and is very enthusiastic about everything and everyone. His hobbies include jumping up to say hello to visitors, barking at cars, hugging other dogs and licking horses. His crate is in our kitchen and he has always been very good about going to his cosy bed at night with his favourite squeaky chicken. He loves this so much we're on chicken number 3.
I think it helps that his bed is right by the warm radiator.
Most mornings he is quite happy to stay settled in his bed, listening to the sounds of the shower or hairdryer upstairs as we get ready for work. Hearing our footsteps on the creaky stairs is his cue to bounce up and down and welcome us. His sheer joy at the start of each day is brilliant and now we have a routine, he knows all his favourite things are coming his way. Outside for a sniff and a wee, round the corner to visit the ponies, home for a massive game of fetch followed by breakfast and surveillance duties from his window seat. If he's lucky and there's a bundle of washing going into the machine, he might score a sneaky sock.
The only cloud in his endless blue sky is when the servants take away newly acquired toys (toilet rolls) and put him in doggy jail (behind the baby gate in the kitchen).
These are his favourite things in the whole world, especially the red ball. If the servants let him, he would play fetch with these until he fell over.
But sometime the servants adapt his toys, for example cutting the chewed and frayed fronds off his squid. Meanies.
I currently work from home and have a small office set up in our back bedroom. Buster visits me there because he thinks my office is his Fartorium. He also thinks he's very funny.
Despite his sometimes unsavoury presence, we are very appreciative of our good natured, scruffy little dog. There are no cushions left on our sofas, the floors have a permapaw covering, we have to hide the toilet roll, be on call when he rings his bell to go outside for "dog time" and groan with frustration when he forgets his manners, refuses to sit for anything less than sausage and behaves like a devil dog on the lead. For all that we find him irrisistible.