Starting EDM again

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Quick update! Enjoying a relaxing evening, sat in bed with my sketchbook and 8 out of 10 Cats on Netflix. I decided to start EDM again – Danny Gregory’s list challenge named after his wonderful book, EveryDay Matters. I’m pleased that my sketching and shading has improved with the class I’ve been taking and the practice I’ve done. Might do the next one tomorrow!

Also I discovered Art Assignment today! I might have to join in – this week’s is using something unusual to print a pattern.

ICAD #7

So I’m dipping in and out of the ICAD one, as I said before, not really doing one index card every day because I don’t have the time to do everything I want in piece in a day at the moment. So here’s number seven – the prompt was ‘Yellow’:

ICAD #7

ICAD #7

I love the Autumnal feel of this – it was unintentional, but the yellows and oranges with the leaf-shapes just make me think of Autumn. 

As usual, because I like layers and textures, there’s a lot going on in the little 6″x4″ card! I started by layering a few embellishment pieces – the leaves, the corrugated card and the die-cut piece with circles cut out. I cut the die-cut piece down to a single strip, and once I was happy with the composition I worked into the background of the card with yellow acrylic paint, and an orange paint I mixed myself. I used the die-cut as a stencil – I just love circle motifs. Over the paint, I did a little decorative machine stitching – using white thread which I then painted.

Once I was happy with the background, I put my embellishments back in place. I glued and stitched the corrugated card and the die-cut strip as the corrugated card doesn’t give much surface for the glue to adhere to. But that’s okay – more texture! Again, I painted the thread to fit the theme of the piece. 

The leaves took a little longer – I backstitched the veins on the first one, stabbing myself in the fingers multiple times in the process as it was quite difficult getting the needle and pin I was using through three tough layers! But it was worth it because it looks so much better than the plain yellow leaf did. The smaller leaf on top already had a pattern in it, which I didn’t want to cover too much, so I brushed a little of my orange paint mix over the top just to highlight the texture.

Leaf detail

Leaf detail

Finally, I stitched on some beads – which are rapidly becoming one of my favourite things to use to add extra texture and colour – glued the resin rose, and clipped on the bicycle paper-clip. I also added a hessian pocket but unstitched it because it ruined the composition of the piece and made it too crowded. Instead, I tied my journal tag to the ring binding.

I love the string – it was originally bright white, but I used my new Letraset Promarkers to add a tie-dye effect to the string. The markers are so versatile – because they’re alcohol-based, you can use them on pretty much any surface, and they’re also blendable which can create some stunning effects. I really need to play with them more!

Letraset-Promarker-dyed string!

Letraset-Promarker-dyed string!

 

PS I’m sorry for the slightly blurred photos – they were perfect till I published the post, WordPress must compress them and reduce the quality, which is so irritating.

Paper and Papercloth

It’s been busy, busy, busy again, but I wanted to get a post up asap about my paper-making activities! 

Firstly, all the papercloth has been dried and removed, and I’m so pleased with how they turned out! Definitely have more confidence with the technique now, ready to try doing my own thing with it. Here are the finished pieces (I’ve laid them out on my A2 sketchbook as I don’t have any paper large enough to use as a background at the moment!):

Front of the papercloth pieces

Front of the papercloth pieces

Back of the papercloth pieces

Back of the papercloth pieces

I had so much fun making them, can’t wait to get started on the next pieces – but they’ll have to wait now as we’re getting ready to move house and I don’t want to risk ruining a piece if we have to pack up quickly!

In the mean time, I’ve also managed to get the pieces I needed to make paper! I didn’t want to fuss about trying to get hold of screens and frames, and I found this tutorial for making paper using a splatter guard! They’re cheap and easy to find – for those of you in the UK, you can buy them at Wilko’s for £1.50, and they’re huge. The paper does come out round but you can cut it to whatever shape you like.

I made my first piece out of newspaper, just to see how it would go, and this is what I got:

Handmade paper

Handmade paper

Considering it’s made out of newspaper, it actually looks pretty! I didn’t add anything to it as it was just a tester piece, but I’m really pleased with the result so I’ll probably end up using it for the project I had in mind.

As for the method I used, I took a bunch of other people’s methods and put bits together to suit my needs. So from the above tutorial, I took the splatter guard, but I hated the fussy (and slightly wasteful) method of getting the paper onto the guard. Instead, I made a smaller amount – by eye measuring approximately how much mulch would fit onto the guard (and got it pretty much bang on!) – then after mushing it, I used a spoon to ladle it onto the guard and spread it out with the spoon and my fingers. I didn’t worry too much about getting it perfectly even, just evenish, as you have to press and sponge it later anyway.

I also didn’t use a blender, because I don’t own one at the moment and didn’t want another thing to move to the new place. So I just used a fork – yeah, it took a while and some extra water, but it achieved the same effect. It did look a little gross for a while though:

Yucky stuff - that turned into pretty stuff

Yucky stuff – that turned into pretty stuff

Finally, thanks to the weather in England being a little less than dry… it took over twenty-four hours to dry, with occasional blow-drying and also popping it in the toaster oven after meals were cooked! But it was so worth it!

I currently have another batch in the making, using scraps of wallpaper samples leftover from the project below. It’s going to take a while longer to turn to mush, and some very hot water, but it should produce some lovely paper (even added a bit of red napkin to add a tinge of colour!)

Rubbish picture of enormous project stretched across my floor! I didn't have enough room to get a good photo

Rubbish picture of enormous project stretched across my floor! I didn’t have enough room to get a good photo

My latest ongoing huge project is made up of a really long strip of paper and pieces cut out from wallpaper samples. At the moment, it just looks like wallpaper, but I’m pleased with it so far because the different samples have come together nicely. It’s gone away now until after the move as there’s not enough room for it while we’re so busy…

 

Papercloth – first piece

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Quick update before my guests arrive – the first piece of papercloth has been pulled off the plastic this morning. I’m in love with this technique. It’s so simple and produces brilliant results; I’m so pleased with this piece! The others are still damp in patches so I’ll have to wait and see how they turn out – I’ll update when all the pieces are ready, I was just so excited about the first piece that I couldn’t wait to share!

Almost there…

If you’ve read my previous posts, you’ll know that over the past year (since last September) I’ve been writing my MA dissertation as well as working full-time for the first time – it’s been a challenge! At the end of this month, my dissertation will be in and I’ll be enjoying my second year in my job – which feels like a success in itself. Fingers crossed, they’ll love my dissertation, and in October I’ll officially have graduated from my Masters and be celebrating the conclusion of three years’ hard work.

Due to all of this, I haven’t had much time for playing – my art has fallen by the wayside and when I have attempted to create, I just haven’t been relaxed enough to enjoy it so I haven’t produced anything I’m happy with. However, this week has seen a change in this trend! I’m mid-way through my holiday and apparently relaxed enough to create, try new things and I’ve ended up with some work I’m really, really pleased with.

Firstly, I’ve been participating in ICAD over at Daisy Yellow Art. ICAD stands for Index Card A Day, the idea is to produce artwork on an index card each day, it can be as simple or as complicated as you like. I’m rubbish at doing them everyday, so I’m just sitting down to one whenever I get the itch to do so. The one below is my favourite so far, produced this week, and I spent hours and hours on it:

ICAD #6

ICAD #6

I started with a card I had already painted with layers of white (I didn’t want the pattern on the card). Then I started mixing various shades of orange, red and yellow in acrylic, using my brush and a homemade stencil to dab the paint onto the page. Once dry, I added further layers – the paper doily and the frayed hessian pocket which I then added more paint to. The pocket is machine-stitched on – I used straight and zig-zag.

Down the left-hand side, I have used a decorative machine stitch in white, and on the left I have chain-stitched by hand in cream. I then spent a while having fun creating the beaded bits! I’ve never added beads to my work before and I love the added texture – if there’s anything I’ve learned about myself this week, it’s that I absolutely adore texture and my work seems boring without it.

Next I created the tag – I trimmed it down to size to fit the pocket (the hessian wasn’t cut to size as it was an impromptu pocket) then painted the edges in orange to make it fit with the rest of the card. I also tea-dyed the string, though the photo doesn’t show this up very well.

Finally, I added a few scrapbook embellishments from My Mind’s Eye (the enamel dots) and Basicgrey (the triangles and curly bracket) then outlined various bits with a fine Faber-Castell PITT pen.

While I was making this card, I worked on top of a blank sketchbook page in my moleskine so that it caught the paint that went over the edges. Once I was finished with my ICAD piece, I switched to the sketchbook to use up all of my leftovers and a few extra bits.

ICAD spillover page!

ICAD spillover page!

I used the rest of the paper doily, the ends of my machine and hand-stitching thread, the pieces of hessian sacking that were leftover – including the frayed bits I pulled out – and the edges of my journaling tag which I cut off. I even used the paper towels I’d cleaned my brushes with to texture the background. Nothing gets wasted at my art table!

Again I built up layers, added more paint, hand-stitching and machine-stitching. I tried to create a larger version of my ICAD page, essentially, repeating certain aspects, changing the way I used certain elements to match the new page (like the shape the beads create). This time I also added white gel pen around the black PITT pen, used corrugated card as a stamp, and I used a library pocket from Fancy Pants.

The thing I loved about this process was that one page inspired this other, it was like doing a first and second draft. I still love both of the pages, they share so many elements, but they look completely different. They also made me feel that I was getting back to art and art journaling the way I love to do it, rather than trying to emulate someone else or keep it minimal because I don’t have much time. If If I only have a short period of time to produce art in future, I will do a little bit of a piece then go back and work into it later, rather than rushing myself! (It’s the one thing I dislike about ‘one-a-day’ art prompts – too much of a rush).

 

Finally, I just wanted to share a new thing I’m trying – papercloth! I’ve been researching into ways of making handmade paper for a project I have in mind and came across a tutorial by Diana Trout on Createmixedmedia.com which was a quick and easy way to create papercloth. I thought it would be perfect for the cover of what I’m hoping to create so this evening I’ve given it a go, changing a few points here and there. Here’s what I have so far:

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Papercloth – Drying stage

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I watched Diana’s tutorial and printed off the awesome free PDF provided, followed the instructions on the video to the letter except I used mod podge instead of PVA and splashes of watercolour paint as I don’t have any liquid acrylics.

For the paper I used tissue paper, paper napkins (pulled apart so it’s single ply) and the kitchen towel leftover from the ICAD and moleskine pages mentioned above (again pulled apart to get single ply pieces). The kitchen towel pieces are my favourite so far as they were saturated in acrylic from the ICAD session the other day so are really bright – almost day-glo among the duller grey napkin illustrations and dark watercolour paints.

The process is messy and fun, and I highly recommend giving it a go. Right now, I’m still waiting for mine to dry so I’ll let you know how successful the attempt was as soon as it’s dry.

Back to Normality

So this week it was back to work – and it went incredibly quickly! Which is lovely. Except when the little part of my mind, hidden away at the back goes ‘One more week gone, one more week closer to that deadline!’ My dissertation is due in on the 4th September, so now just less than nine months away, and while the reasonable part of my brain is telling me I have plenty of time, just keep doing what you’re doing, that little part of my brain is making me worry – I can see whole weeks vanishing before my eyes, it’ll be end of July and end of supervision before I know it, I’m not doing enough. And round and round this goes. So last night I decided to settle down at my desk with Richard Castle and Kate Beckett (my latest favourite TV show, Castle) and my school sketchbook which I use to help out the kids. I decided, as I was feeling quite inspired by their lesson yesterday, I would have a go at the little homework they’d been set – creating a research page in their sketchbooks on Kandinsky. This little project did exactly what it was supposed to do: distract my mind and allow me to relax and have fun without worrying for a couple of hours. I’m also really pleased with the double-page spread I produced!

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I used images from Kandinsky’s works and cut the letters free-hand for the title, I then selected some of my favourites to add to the rest of the page. I stuck to the same mini-brief that the kids were given: Key facts, no white spaces, plus both cut-outs and drawings from Kandinsky’s works. I tried to use the elements of Kandisky’s works that I love; mainly the geometric shapes, the colours, and the layers.

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My own drawings and the background have been produced using watercolours and my lovely new set of Derwent Academy Sketch and Colour pencils which I won from a Niki Pilkington Facebook competition (an awesome artist who creates images for Derwent’s packaging among other things). One thing I borrowed from the teacher’s demonstration was cutting out bits from the image and layering them onto the page – I then had a play with trying to recreate the effect of the slightly faded colours around the circles using the pencils.

2014-01-11 11.15.28

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I had so much fun creating this double-page. It’s been a long time since I produced an artist research page, and it made me think that I should do it more often – it forces you to look a little closer at artists’ works, how they’ve produced certain effects, whether those effects can be produced in other materials, and even looking at the influences behind the pieces. What was even better was discovering just how much I loved the format of this little sketchbook. It’s size and shape meant that I could work at my desk, where I don’t have much space, and it also forced me to think about how I was going to compose the page as I wasn’t used to working in such a small area. I think I’m definitely going to be doing more of these in future!

And so 2013 ends…

So I haven’t done quite as much blogging and arting as I would have hoped this year, but that just comes from being busy doing other amazing things! This has been a fantastic year for me; there have been some moments, obviously, that have gotten me down, but I’ve achieved so much and I can’t help seeing that the good times outweigh the bad this year. Here’s just a few things that have made me happy and grateful this year:

  • Started my new job – and quit a job I hated
  • Started my dissertation
  • Published – twice!
  • Gave my first conference paper
  • Celebrating six years’ of being with my gorgeous fiancee

It’s been a pretty good year!

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 960 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 16 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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