Thursday, 25 July 2013

What's In A Journal? Part 2

Fiiiiiiiiiiiiinally!!  Holy cow, could this have TAKEN any longer? (just channelling Chandler from 'Friends'....because I am sad and have no life, apparently! aha.... )

So this is PART TWO of my 'What's In A Journal?' series, and very welcome back to my blog to you! In part 1, I wrote about some of my art journalling, a little about my reasons for doing it and about my processes and such like. I have more to talk about on that subject, but that's at some amorphous, indeterminate future date...this post is focussing on the sketchbook as a jounal.

Sketchbook as a journal? Am I MENTAL? (I'm having a dramatic day - can't you so tell?) The sketchbook, I think, is usually seen as a practise tool - a means of honing drawing skills - that's how they're pimped by art tutors et al. But for how many years have these little books been used as a means of recording journeys, events, ideas and inspirations? The sketchbook is as valuable a journaling forum as any other with the added bonus of [generally] being extremely personal, viewed only by the artist. It contains as many scruffy, yucky pages of frustrated scrawl as it does arty examples of talent. It works the artist through the most frustrating days of artist's block, and helpfully records snippets of ideas that wait patiently to be grown into more impressive artworks at a later date.

The sketchbook - even moreso than the art journal - is an artist's best friend, a confidant, an archive -  a camera for your artistic mind, taking snapshots of inspired ideas and shapes. It's non-judgemental....nothing within its pages needs to be 'finished', presentable or even recognisable! Where I see the art journal as being a process towards an end, I feel the sketchbook is the means to achieving that.

An artists sketchbook very much represents his or her personality and as a consequence, each one is different - no right or wrong - and they evolve with you, accompany you on your artistic journey and put up with you on even your most grotty of mood-days! More than ANY other journal type, a sketchbook teaches freedom, an ability to be 'in the moment'.

I have a couple of sketchbooks on the go at the moment, but I'm going to share some pages from my big'un  - a Daler A3 plain paper book, unpretentious and loyal! The reason I've chosen to do this is to show you - as methodically as possible -  my thought processes, which are usually scatty at best! I shared these pages with a friend of mine a while ago and he says he found them helpful, so hopefully you will to. Okee - here goes...

Right - this first pic is to PROVE that your sketchbook is there SOLELY to help YOU! It doesn't mind being messy or scrappy. If I've had a busy few days or weeks of life, then making art that I'm happy with and deem 'successful' is kinda like pushing water uphill, and the longer it takes for an idea to find a path OUT of my head and onto paper or canvas, the more frustrated I become aaaaaaaaaaaaand then the longer the idea takes to escape.....sooooooo I get more on... ya whole Catch 22 thang... So I've found that grabbing a black Sharpie marker and a sketchbook and just scribbling away the mental block really helps. Of course, the resulting page is a horror, but I leave them all in my book because they're part of the process and if nothing else, they remind me that a block is just temporary, not the end of the world!

Seriously - I have SO many sketchbook (and journal) pages with just  "ARGH!!!" written on have no idea....

But the very act of holding a pen and making indelible marks on paper seems to get the creative juices flowing again.  Personally, I try not to follow the breakthrough with an art construct of epic design, rather I just go to my safe zone and pick an image that I traditionally find pleasing to draw....usually my cat, yet another mermaid or a tree:

I've opted to leave in my scribblings - they usually make little sense (even to me) but I don't have a problem with WRITING in my sketchbook... it's just another form of journalling the moment.  I like drawing trees because as I draw I can feel my arty brain waking up as the image 'grows'. Am I a sad hippie? I'm a sad hippie.....pfff...... But hey - whatever works, right?

Once the first couple of steps are taken, I'll allow whatever ideas have been rattling round in my brain to escape to the page. I tend to wake up with ideas and images that fade quickly, so I keep a sketchbook and a mug full of pens and stuff by the bed so that I can make notes. Sometimes they'll coalesce just right and I'll follow the whole process through to a finished piece, and that's great! Often, though, they'll still need time to brew - not cooked yet (to paraphrase Judge Judy!) - and that's ok too....they're going to sit there happily 'til I need them. For example, at some point I want to paint a series of canvases based on birds in orchards, just because the imagery and colours are appealing to me. These are a couple of ideas I sketched in really quickly one morning before I lost them:

Not wanting to lose the colours I had a play about with some pencil crayons (a spare set I had years ago in school!) -

It's all I need to store the idea for a future's not about perfection, but about moving the process on to that happy jump-point when I progress to a finished canvas piece. It's comfortable and pressure-free. When I look at this now, the original images that I had in my mind come RIGHT back to me. Without sketch-journaling them, they'd be lost in my spaghetti brain for good!

The next set of piccies show a full process from concept to finish.  Because my art journals archive my moods and emotions (more than specific events) it's important to me that the final image truly describes how I feel at that moment in time. When I look back at the pages, I need them to reflect those feelings back at me, then memories follow. It's not for everyone, but it works for me. On this occasion I had a very specific state of mind that I wanted to capture. (I'm not intending to explain this aspect to you as it's personal... I know how the final piece makes me feel, so that's ok. Hope you don't mind.)

So my thought process began as follows: what kind of image, and what kind of style? Bring on the sketchbook! To banish that mental block, grab that Sharpie and scribble.....

...a set of swirly, scribbly doodles ended up with a sea theme...Hmmm.....sea theme..... Oh I KNOW - a mermaid! THAT'S what's needed. Yup. Not that I'm in ANY way predictable.... *ahem*....  Now to make sure she's the right kind of mermaid.... the right look....the right ..everything! Tall order. First of all, engage brain and switch to mermaid mode. Yes, I have a mermaid mode. Shush.

Okee the whole fin thing sorted.... now for mermaids..... 

Follow my thinky-speak: First attempt. I do quite like her, but she's not right for what I want. She's a nice mix of retro and modern, but she lacks a sense of movement and emotion.  The lines are fluid but lack freedom and she's a little too doll-like, so on to the next idea...

Mermaid #2. I like the lines better - she's less posed and more natural. Not messing about with detail here so on to the next page:

This isn't the kind of mermaid I'm looking for. She's a bit too Disney - not that there's anything wrong with that, but I want to get away from the whole 'Ariel' thing for this picture. Plus, she's way too angular - I do like the idea of the hair though. I still want a mermaid shape and look that I'll feel warmer to... one that doesn't look like she'd dispatch a shark with one blow from her boney, pointy elbow. Ok - next:

I like this mermaid a LOT better. I wanted to concentrate more on mood than shape, and I'm happy with the result. Yes, she has red hair like Ariel. Shush again. 

This is my last sketch - a decision about whether my mermaid will be under or out of the water has been made. And I know what mood I want to capture and what kind of mermaid she'll be. Bingo!  And my sketchbook gracefully gives the stage over to my newest art journal for the finished picture: 

She's painted with mainly Caran D'Ache Neocolor II watersoluble wax pastels, and Derwent Inktense bars and pencils. The white dots are done with a Signo Uni Ball white gel pen. I opted for minimum effort with the background, using the design on the paper as a base with just a little gesso applied as an undercoat for the mermaid and a little light patch here and there. It's just what I had in mind when I began, way back with that scribbly doodle so every time I look at this page I not only have the feelings that I wanted to capture in the image itself, but also the satisfaction of a job well done. 

So - is this really journaling? In my opinion, yes - it's a personal record of ideas and their development which I add to on a regular basis. I'm not afraid to write in my sketchbook, record my feelings and my intents, goals and directions, thoughts and abstractions...that's good enough for me to see this as an addition to my journaling jigsaw. It fills an important niche and has a definite role in archiving the days of my life. Other people may not feel this way - and that's ok. All I'd like you to do is to extend your boundaries and concepts with regard to recording your art, producing work that makes you happy, and enjoying these processes.

I really hope this has been helpful to you in some way. And yes, there will be a part 3!! HA! Smash books and junk journals! Are they SUCH a new concept? You may find you've been keeping a 'junk journal' or 'smash book' for YEARS, just calling it a 'scrapbook' or somethin' like that.... How do they fit into art journaling? Well - I'll take more photos and have part 3 out asap, although I suspect there'll be other posts before then!  In the meantime, you might want to check out these pages on supplies:

And these people for their AWESOME sketchbooks and art materials:

Also you could have a root through the many MANY Youtube videos of artists' sketchbooks - some of them are incredible, truly! But all of them will reflect the personality and experience of the artists themselves and reflect their art journey, their developing skills, their moods and their preferences and ideals. Then grab a pad of paper, a pen or pencil and start scribbling! Most of all - enjoy yourself! If you want to ask me anything about art processes or materials and such like please contact me or leave a comment and I'll get back to you as soon as I can. Hugs as always - Shroo:)

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Apologies, And A Sneak Peek

Howdy all!

Thank you for sticking with me over this past couple of weeks. I'm so mahoosively sorry not to have posted more regularly, but one thing and another in the hurly-burly of everyday life and all its dramas and hassles has kept my focus elsewhere.... But - I'm determined to kick myself back on the tracks of creativity and purpose this week and so will be posting - AT LONG LAST! - part 2 of my 'What's In A Journal' post this very evening, once the day's processes are over and done and I'm settled with a glass of wine. And a cake. Not a big one, just a ikkle one. Cake good. Wine good. Mmmm..... So here's a sneek peek of what's on the way, just to tantalise/torment/aggravate (delete as applicable):


Moowahaha....! Have a day of awesomeness - see you later ! - Shroo:)

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Tattered Angels Glimmer Glaze Mermaid

Hello again, and happy Sunday!

The hot weather and mahoosive pollen count continues! Even the squirrels in the garden have given up scampering...they're all on their little recliners with their long cool glasses of Pimms, being fanned by sweaty mouse slaves...not sure where they found the palm leaves for the job....or the grass skirts..... or the mini coconut shell bras. Mystery...

Anyhoo - after the last postie-post I thought it might be a good idea to highlight a product wot I rambled about (and will undoubtedly do again): Glimmer Glaze from the sparkly loveliness that is "Tattered Angels". Most crafters and mixed media types are familiar with the glimmer sprays and chalk sprays that Tattered Angels make, which give a shimmering delicate colour to your project, or a more textured, brighter colour in the case of the chalks. It seems to me that many people are a tad tentative when it comes to playing about with the Glam or Glaze ranges....I think, not least of all, because the prices can seem a little prohibitive - especially outside America. Here in the UK, Glimmer Glam ranges from £4 to £6 a pot, and the Glimmer Glaze is a little pricier at £5.50 - £8 a pot, depending on where you source supplies. Personally, I haunt the sale sections of MANY a crafting website as well as auction listing on trusty old ebay. I mentioned in my last post that I (awesomely) picked up a whole lovely heap of Glimmer Glazes for roughly £1 each on ebay auction - that was a spectacularly good deal!

Here's a bit of 'fo about them.

Glimmer Glazes are a glaze medium, which adds a sealing topcoat to a project whilst also adding a tint. Depending on which colour you buy, you either get a delicate - almost transparent - overlay, or a heavier translucent or even semi-opaque vibrant shade.

They're incredibly versatile. Not only will they act as a sealed top coat, but also as a medium in their own right. Excellent effects can be had from splattering them, blending them, adding them to Ranger's Glossy Accents (or other brands of) wet, pre-set enamel, heating and burning them with a heat-tool, using them as a permanent tinted resist or even just as a 'paint'. The best way to see how useful they are is to buy a couple and just play. They're colour-compatible with other Tattered Angels products so you can combine them to great effect. Have a look at the Tattered Angels site, or Youtube for suggestions too. Try them with different brands as you often achieve varying results with similar products...weird but true.  Each pot contains 1 fluid ounce of glaze, which you have to shake to disperse the mica element that gives them their gentle shimmer. If you don't want the shimmer - don't shake 'em!

The Glimmer Glams are similar in that they act as a glaze and sealant on projects. The key difference is that they contain much larger pieces of glitter which add a more textured sparkle and finish. I find them useful for adding heavy texture on some pieces and to add a bolder light-reflective surface on others.

Again, the transparency of the product changes from colour to colour. Each pot contains 1.35 fluid ounces and needs to be shaken to activate the glitter element.

With both products I find I can achieve excellent definition with a brush, although you should remember to wash the brush out immediately as, being a glaze, it'll set the darned thing rigid if you don't. Here are a few sample colour tests (laid on medium thick!) -

Sorry it's not clearer - I think I'll have to scan this in rather than use the camera (still gippy!) but I hope it gives an idea. You can see the sheen that you achieve by using them.

So....when that lovely ebay order arrived I did have a play. The last entry shows the journal pages made from colour testing the Glazes and the memo pad holder where they'd been used to add texture, but I also had a painty faff-about with the colours, ending up with a mermaid. Mermaids are my default setting for drawing a thing. It's an addiction. There should be a Mermaid-aholics Anonymous somewhere. (My next blog post will prove this!!)  I'd not intended to KEEP anything I faff-painted so I used my chippy (newsprint-esque) paper as a surface. It has a tendency to wrinkle a LOT, but I quite like that. I just used the brushes that are pre-attached to the insides of the lids on the Glaze pots and smooshed about the glazes with my fingers.

NEATNESS ALERT!! - if you get this stuff on your fingers and in your fingernails it's a devil to get off! Also, if it ends up on your clothes or soft furnishings it's pretty much staying there, so watch out!!

Splodgy, splodgy, faffy, faffy.

See the pretty lovelies? Ooooo I does likes me Glazes....YUM!

So - having made a mermaid shape I decided to further faff, seeing how much shade or depth I could add ONLY with glaze and ONLY with the brushes provided and now already mucky, glazey fingers.

See how that chippy paper goes wrinkly? Actually works REALLY well when you paste it to a page or canvas....Anyway, I added glaze swirls, more splatters and some darker glaze colours. The shades are all pretty clean and vibrant, and they don't really 'muddy' if they mix, which is nice. I added a bit of guideline definition with a gel pen.

At this point I thought I'd finish her and pop her in an art journal - as reference apart from anything else! I added definition with Uni Ball Signo Gel Impact pens, outlining her basic shape and hair in black, with white gel pen to add further detail. The The only other medium used was a blue Derwent Art Bar for her eyes, and for the 'sea' background, which was painted over entirely and then dabbed with a piece of kitchen roll to mop up the excess from the glazed areas, which acted as a superb resist and retained their true colour excellently well! I did give the mermaid a quick spray of lacquer to ensure the gel pen ink stayed in place once it was dry. It's worth remembering that the glaze base allows you to rectify a multiplicity of mistakes as it creates a basically wipe-clean surface. Test products yourself to see which media this works with.

Mermaid finished -

...Can't decide - is she sultry? Smug? Bored? Hey - that's how she turned out.... So - see how the glaze gives a GORGEOUS shine and shimmer? It's REALLY pretty and ideal for highlighting specific parts of your design. Here's some detail:

You might just be able to make out a little blue glitter on her tail from the Glimmer Glam....portentiously called "Mermaid". Once she was done (and was staring at me somwhat judgementally!) I glued her into one of my art journals with the glory that is Mod Podge and added some 7 Gypsies rub-ons and a couple of collage images for a bit of detail and journallyness:

....and voila! Bob's your auntie's live-in lover! One journaled mermaid.

I'm really glad I finished my moody mermaid, a) because it created a chance for me to tell you about the Glam/Glaze products which I find so useful and b) because it ALSO affords the opportunity to remind you that art doesn't always have to start off as a well-defined project, you can ceate something almost from the next time you doodle or test some new product, try and figure out a way of making something from it that pleases you. Challenge is good for the creative brain - it sparks inventiveness and enthusiasm. Without that we would all just sit in front of a canvas or sketch book and just STARE at it through a fog of frustration and doubt. Go for it. BE SPONTANEOUS! Make sand sculptures on the beach...a doodle on your work pad...ANYTHING, but don't just throw it away - make something from it, "a hat, a brooch, a pterodactyl" (to paraphrase Airplane!), photograph it and journal it...however you choose to record your creative side. It will act as a handy stepping stone to your next project. 

I hope this has been useful. If you want to check out Tattered Angels products you can find them here:

For anyone who's concerned - I'm not PAID by them in any way to endorse their products. They don't know I exist!! I will ONLY recommend products that I've tried and tested and will only give an honest account of my experiences.   ....That sounds like I'll blog something like "The Day Mod Podge And I Climbed Mount Everest!"...... but you know what I mean.

So I'll be back soon with part two of that 'What's In A Journal' post - if you like mermaids then it's one for you. Solidarity, mermaid obsessives, solidarity. Peace is the popular phrase! MWAH! - Shroo:)

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Steampunk Altered Memo Holder


Hope you're well? Apologies for the unimaginative title there....I opted for 'descriptive' over 'inventive' - it's hot, my brain has melted! Do forgive!

Anyhoo - just a small, interrim post-ette between art journal/sketchbook ramblings to prove that I've been creative since the last blog entry. I bid on a whole bunch of auctions on ebay last week - didn't anticipate winning know the kind, the 99p too-good-to-be-true kind of auctions? Then, hey presto! The ebay fairy granted me wins on pretty much ALL of them, which meant bargain celebrations coupled with spending guilt, but these REALLY WERE bargains! I won a whole heap of Tattered Angels Glimmer Glazes for 99p each! They're normally about £6 - £7 so that was a VERY happy thing, and as soon as they arrived I just HAD to test them all. Of course. Naturally. Anything else would be insane, obviously!

I keep a stack of chip paper on my art table for just such a thing- it's like newsprint paper, but with a slight satin coating. It's thin but soaks up excess paint and such and leaves me with some cool patterns and 'homemade papers' to use in my journals. I tested the glazes in two batches, warms and cool colours and when I'd let them dry they looked kinda like sea and sand. So - not to waste them, I cut out the two sections and pasted them into my journal as backgrounds:

I added some 7 Gypsies rub-ons and some collaged elements, then some definition colours to the waves and sand with blue and white paint marker pens, along with a few Faber Pitt pens. I added sky effect with some turquoise crafters acrylic paint and some white Magic Color acrylic ink, adding deeper colour again with Pitt pens, then splattering some more glaze to make 'sea spray'.

I find that, without intending to, my journal pages tend to rely heavily on symbolism, rather than text. I try to journal my emotions - fears and hopes, dreams and goals, and often it's only when I sit back and look at the page as a whole that I realise what I'm doing....where I'm at, as it were. They can often be something of a surprise or revelation. Weird. Weird but true.

SO - as I had all my STUFF out there in front of me, I took the opportunity to alter a little DCWV memo box that had been sitting gloomily in a corner. It was also a cheapie auction win (just £2) but arrived battered and looking sorry for itself. NOTHING'S a throw-away though, so I attacked it with sandpaper and my teeny metal-hammer until it was utterly knackered, then gave it new life!!  Lookee -

I used acrylic paints to cover the surface, inside and out, adding some distress ink (Tim Holtz, what would we do without you?) in the colours: broken china, vintage photo and shabby shutters, then further distressed the edges with Pitt pens.  The collage elements are a mix of cut-out images from the Papermania 'Chronology' line, and G45's gorgeous 'Steampunk Debutante' collection (now sadly retired, but check out their new 'Steampunk Spells' release!) The butterflies are from G45 again - their 'Botanicabella' collection, and the flowers are from 'I Am Roses' (awesome company). Glues used were the staple stand by, Mod Podge (matte finish), and a hot glue gun for the flowers and metal adornments (leaves and a teeny weeny bee). 

I 'aged' the surfaces and the flowers with a combination of Tattered Angels glazes, Distress Stickles, gold gilding wax, copper gilding liquid and Pitt pens. I added a few flat collaged pieces from the same paper lines to the inside of the box, just to make it all pretty like!

And that was that! I made sure all the flat surfaces had a couple of layers of my trusty acrylic satin lacquer, just to help splash-proof it, as it'll no doubt have many cups of tea presenting opportunities for peril in the future months! that's that! I had really good happy fun with both the journal pages and the memo box. I think sometimes people sneer a little at the idea of altering or re-purposing an item, but I REALLY believe that in our throw-away society, we should take any opportunity to upcycle tired items and not only enjoy the result, but benefit from the imaginative creative process.  Your turn to have a go now! Have fun! Hugs - Shroo :)x

Stuff used in this Steampunk Altered Memo project:

DCWV memo pad holder (any brand will do though!)
Docrafts Crafter's Acrylic Paints (turquoise and avocado)
Graphic 45 papers ('Steampunk Debutante' & 'Botanicabella')
Papermania 'Chronology' papers
I Am Roses paper flowers
Brass leaf & bee charms
Treasure Gold 'Classic' gilding wax
Treasure Gold 'Copper' gilding paint
Faber Castell Pitt Pens
Ranger Distress inks (Vintage Photo, Broken China, Shabby Shutters)
Ranger Distress Stickles (Bundled Sage, Golden Rod)
Tattered Angels Glimmer Glaze (Waterfall, All That Jazz, Indian Summer, Cowboy)
Mod Podge (matte)
Acrylic Satin Lacquer

Places to visit for cool stuff:

Sunday, 7 July 2013

What's In A Journal? Part 1

Welcome, welcome! Hope you're well? It's jolly toasty here...finally....and in typically British stylee, it's not just warm 'n' summery, it's the depths of Tartarus on tabasco-enema day. It also seems to have been National-Summer-School-Fete-Day where resentful teenagers made completely out of elbows destroy rock classics on over-amped guitars, six recorders and a cassio auto-samba-beat portable organ for five hours. Throw in a dozen cider-crazed Morris-Dancers and a cheese-flinger and that's the finest summer entertainment anyone could hope for! *ahem*

Aaaahhh.....makes me wanna journal the day away.....but, hey there, buddy, wait a pig-wrestlin' minute....just WHAT kind of journaling are you talkin' about? ART journaling? SMASH BOOK journaling? TEXT journaling? SCRAPBOOKING type journaling? SKETCHBOOK idea journaling? Or some weird kind of interpretive dance in a crop circle, wearing only tin-foil pants? (Well - each to their own!). I mention this as there seems to be a kind of epic debate going on between artists, writers and crafters about HOW to journal and store your memories and ideas and old cinema tickets. I think most people are open to trying something new, but seem to imagine that it has to be an 'either/or' situation, which is just not true! As far as I'm concerned, the more books, the better! So I thought I'd take you through some of my journal collection a bit and hopefully  show you some of the benefits that variety brings.

It's fair to say that I hoard books - and journals are no exception. I've picked a cross-section of ones in current use. I don't follow a chronological or linear path, nor do I finish one book before starting another (a side-effect of making my own books I think.) Anyway - here's a group pic:

Going through all of them in one post would be epic, so I'll split them up for you. The only one I'm NOT gonna show you really is that li'l orangey one with the funny piccy right in the front-middle, as that's an ACTUAL writey journal and a bit private, as these things tend to be. You'll understand... you're a nice person... Each of these has a specific purpose. The big mahoosive multi-coloured thingy's my most recent junk journal - it records events as they happen, a visual collection of eclectic ephemera that form the jigsaw that is my memory. The big boring-looking black book at the bottom's a sketch book, mainly for recording arty ideas but also works me through art-blocks when I [regularly] get them. See? Different book = different purpose.

So in THIS post I'll talk you through some ART journals. OK? First up, this is a re-purposed hardback text-book (well out of date, fact-wise). It's as scruffy as it looks...I'm in the habit of never decorating the covers and spines until I'm done. And that can take a while! This way I don't stress about making a mark or splodge. Art journaling's not about stressing.

 I mod-podged pages, four or five in a block so they'd be like working on art-board. Nice. THIS book is where I try and overcome negative emotional issues in a positive way, creating a motivational, inspiring page as a result. Often the image reflects a kind of journey, or an idea of 'moving forward':

The 'Keep on Swimming' page. This is a multi-layer exercise, a gesso base, acrylic paint layered coloured foundation and several further layers of collaged shapes and designs (waves, fishy-wishies, sea-floor and marine flora), with words and detail added with gel-pens.
If memory serves I was feeling sort of 'stuck in quicksand' - this reflected my determination not to get bogged down, but keep moving forward and let the flow of life take me somewhere better down the line. (Sorry if the pics are a bit iffy, by the way - I'm getting the hang of a new camera as my old one has been retired!)

This has an acrylic paint layered colour background with cut-paper-shape-collage hills and trees to create a patchwork look. The hills are outlined with wool and this is all made by using off-cuts from my 'bits box', which is generally in overflow mode. I added faux stitching with a white gel pen to add to the patchwork effect. This is a simple-looking page and I like it - colours and shapes all look open and make me feel happy and free.

This page came about when I'd had a looooong spell of arty block. I'd already painted the green wash background and I just picked up the first three pens I saw (black Sharpie, white Sakura gel pen and a Pentel Metallic Brush pen - yummy!) and took things back to basics, choosing to play with shape and patterns and doodling, using my garden as inspiration. I opted for panels as they're fun - less intimidating! Luckily, the selection of pens worked awesomely for me and my mood - especially that gold! Page finished: arty mojo reclaimed! Sorted.

 This is a reflection of my love of Australian Aboriginal art. It was relaxing and fun to do and helped me free up my over-stressed brain (again) It was inspired by one of my favourite li'l poems/quotes, which I keep jotted down in yet another book for reference...:
 "Only as far as I reach can I grow, 
Only as far as I seek can I go,
Only as deep as I look can I see, 
Only as much as I dream can I be."
The tree trunks are heavily textured and glazed, which I love, and the dots were done with Sakura's gorgeous Souffle gel pens, which I'd highly recommend.

I also use my art journals to test out new stuff - texture bases, mediums, know, stuff! This is one such page (which I'll finish one day.....probably):

Just playing around with colour and texture is incredibly cathartic and I would recommend it completely. Don't get hung up on a final image, just faff about and see where it takes you. This was a fun page which had acrylic paints, micro beads, textured moulding paste, Tattered Angels Glazes, ink pads and gilding wax thrown at it, pretty much randomly. It was really, REALLY good fun.

Here's another art journal, pretty much completely for testing how stuff works with other stuff. (Stop me if I'm being

This is made of heavyweight 300gsm cartridge paper with a heavily crumpled and mod-podged paper cover. It's a mess of a thing to look at but feels cuddly and is great to work in. It's roughly A5 size.

This (based on lovely flowers my mum brought for me) was done to test several different brands of black fine-line pens and their capacity to be water-resistant. Basically - none of them...but THIS was the page where I discovered the wonders of that satin acrylic lacquer that I waffle on about so often.

This was a quick, doodly page test for Sakura glitter pens to see how they work over watercolour, acrylic paint and glaze. The answer - pretty darned well, thank you!

I surprised myself by liking this one....eventually! The goal? To test my [then new] Sennelier oil pastels (blending. scratching in shapes etc) and then playing with black india ink and the effects of gold gilding wax compared with metallic paints over the top. Mainly.

This is a great paper weight to take layers and collage. This pic is another instance of selecting some random odds and ends from the 'bits box' and challenging myself to create an image which reflected the view out of my window....(why not?)

Stuff used? The standard acrylic paints that I love so much, scrapbook paper off-cuts, ephemera/cut-out images, inktense pencils and gilding wax. Oh - and some paint-dyed kitchen roll....never throw anything away!!

The main thing I feel when I use one of my art journals is a sense of freedom. There are no constraints and no expectations other than the ones I place on myself. Usually, no one sees the pages, so if they go wrong, it's no biggie... I've not wasted valuable products, wrecked a canvas or knackered a, rather I've worked through blocks and problems, discovered new techniques and increased my confidence with new media. No rules, no judgement, just fun and a feeling of having achieved something.  

I've a couple more journals that I want to show you, but as this is a long post aleady I'll leave it here and show you some more pages once we've all taken a breath and had a cuppa and a lie down in a dark room! I hope this has been helpful, or at least informative. Remember- if you want to ask questions about art or my art processes or the STUFF I use to make it (SO technical...) please comment or email me and I'll respond asap.  That's it for now - see you in Part 2!! Hugs - Shroo :)x

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Graphic 45 Steampunk Spells - MINE!

Hello - Happy Wednesday! I think it's time for a couple more posts, don'tcha think? Well - I'm doing them anyway!

And FIRST up is a  celebration of all things Graphic 45! Well - mainly the papers. I do love other stuff, but the paper's always sooooo pretty! Not least of all is this gorgeously yumcious new addition to their collection of colourful printed addiction-equivalent to crack or crystal meth: 'Steampunk Spells'. I've had a couple of 'meh' moments with their 'Secret Garden', 'Little Darlings' and 'Place In Time' collections, not because they're below par, just 'cos they're not really very 'me' - a bit too chocolate boxy, kind of. This 'Steampunk Spells' collection heads back towards their richer, vintage colours and quirky, slightly surreal designs - and that very much  IS 'me'! Here's my delivery from the awesome Craftie Charlie which arrived with characteristic swiftness this morning:

Oooooo it's so lovely!  It's their Hallowe'en release for this year, combining the peculiarities of the 'Olde Curiosity Shoppe' collection with the beautiful colours and Victoriana of the 'Steampunk Debutante' papers to produce this exquisite selection of unique designs. As always, it's so much better in real-and-huggable life than on a pooter screen, so if you're even VAGUELY liking the piccy above, go ahead and buy - you'll not be disappointed!

There's only one main problems with Graphic 45 papers. Well, two, two main problems.....The first is that actually CUTTING INTO THEM causes ACTUAL PHYSICAL PAIN AND EMOTIONAL TRAUMA! They're SO beautiful that you almost have to check and see if the Lovely Things Police are hiding behind your curtains with a frying pan to hit you with for desecrating the awesomeness of these designs. I've yet to meet ANYone who can cut into a sheet of this stuff without feeling the kind of guilt you'd only get from stealing the Pope's rice pudding on Papal Divine Rice Pudding Day. (It's my blog, my world....there's a Papal Divine Rice Pudding Day, ok? You have to cook with nutmeg sprinked in the design of the Shroud of Turin. Jam forth..... ). Yes, and the OTHER kind-of-related problem is that you can NEVER - NEVER - have enough G45 papers.....which leads to hoarding.... and a Gollum-esque obsessive paper sorting/inspecting/hugging in the dark hours of the night. No - that one's not just me....I KNOW other people do that too! It doesn't make it normal - it makes it a SYNDROME! 

I've got better at cutting paper up. It's become quite theraputic, and I have folders now of cut-outs ready to hand for collage and general crafty faffing:

 ....and it's really odd, 'cos now I have these 'bits' files, I kinda wanna cut things out in order to fill them! YAY! A new compulsive tendency! Have to say that it makes using collage elements in art and craft SO much more fun! I do the same with magazine images....and if there're lovely patches of coloured or textured print I'll have that, thank you very much, as it's awesomely useful for cutting hearts, oval frames, leaves - ANY shape that fits the project. 

Saving different text fonts saves a load of cash - an alternative or addition to using branded alphabet stickers. I find it's even worth saving clippings of colours (keep them grouped....yellows with yellows...etc) as that's useful for mosaic patterns and such like. You can achieve some really attractive borders using odds and ends of magazine clippings. I'll see if I can find time to do a demo for this here blog so you can see what I mean....I have a LOT of projects on the go at the moment so I'll add it to the list! 

That's about it for this post - if you've never looked at Graphic 45 papers, stamps and stickers then, oh, you so should! You should know that all of their designs have a limited time of release and it's an expensive buy to pick up designs that are no longer in print. On the way out now is the 'Magic of Oz' collection, as well as 'The Olde Curiosity Shoppe', 'Tropical Travelogue' and 'Happy Haunting' so grab them now before the prices shoot up and you have to sell an internal organ to pay for some! Check out the links at the bottom of the blog for recommended online sellers.  If you live in the U.S.A you'll have a WAY bigger choice (you lucky little imps you) but I'd recommend Craftie Charlie or Craft Emporium here in the UK especially. Also root through ebay's listings - you can always hope to snap up a bijou bargain-ette! You'll love your first purchase, and your second, third....all of them. Only when you find yourself stroking the pages of your latest purchase lovingly, murmuring 'My Precioussssss' will you know that you have joined the ranks of the G45 Syndrome sufferer. Welcome.....welcome to you, my friend....   xxx