Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Wrapping Up The Year!

Well here we are...the very last day of 2013!

Where does time go? I say that EVERY year but still it seems like only yesterday that it was the last day of 2012. Do you make resolutions when it comes to 1st January? I admit that I don't... I try to achieve something every day - even if it's a tiny little thing. Less pressure and a helluva lot more success and happiness to be had that way. I'm not sure that major goals are the key to achieving ANYthing...especially when you consider that life changes so dramatically at the drop of the proverbial hat - how can anyone plan that far ahead? Here are my daily goals:

* Don't be so hard on myself.
* Consider someone else before myself.
* Learn something new.
* Remember to smile. 
* Listen to music, make art, or enjoy a beautiful view - if you can do all three, so much the better.
* Achieve something - even if it's just washing the dishes when I really can't be bothered!

I find that small things and little successes are what get me through, even when things are tough, and they build up and make me feel stronger and more confident so that when life throws a curve-ball, I'm set up to deal with it.

I do have a really big decision this year - personally, that is. I have to decide whether to pursue art as a full-time career. It would mean focussing all my time on being an artist, which is a bit scary.... It's a lot easier to make the jump if there's money to fund it, but the prospect of losing everything is a worry; I think it's important to make the decision though - if I don't give 100%, how can I expect to know whether anything will work out? Same with any job I guess!  I'll think about it all this week and hopefully the inspiration fairy will guide me as to which way to jump! Wish me luck!

The prompt for this decision comes after an art-intensive month painting and making stuff for Christmas - I am OH so sure you know what I mean! As promised, in this post I'll be showing you my hand-painted wrapping paper.  I know... I mean, there're SO many gorgeous designs released by gift companies EVERY year - and they're all pretty darned cheap, if I'm honest, but I REALLY like making my own gift wrap. I don't know why! It adds a LOT of work to an already busy schedule, but when it's done it makes the gift completely original-looking and that makes me happy...so I guess it's worthwhile!   I used to decorate paper with stamped images... then I drew patterns like snowflakes, or holly leaves and stuff... then I went a bit mental and, well, I ended up with these:

These are painted - with very little planning, I'm afraid, onto the heavy duty kraft paper that I use for my mail order sales. Once they're dry I give them a quick 'foof' with laquer spray then crumple the heck outta the paper.  When it's flattened out again it leaves all the scrumptious peakes and wrinkles that I highlight with golden gilding wax. It FEELS like a kind of heavy duty fabric which is weird but also awesome! I paint the designs to fit the parcel so that when it's done I can get most of the picture showing on the front, with space for decoration.

You can see the crumples a bit better on this one - the first two were photographed hastily as they were scheduled to be wrapped around pressies and sent THAT DAY to my wonderful friend down in London - before his Christmas work rush started again! I've also made HEAVY use of the Winsor and Newton gold ink this Christmas - it dries a LOT like gold leaf and has a really classy shimmer to it.

The plain kraft paper colour is FINE once the parcel's wrapped - it looks kinda rustic, and ya knows I'm all abouts the vintage, baby! I do like things looking rumpled and loved.

I also opted to use the theme of 'Christmas baubles' throughout my art and my wrapping this year and decided that I wanted to make pom-pom baubles to adorn the pressie boxes. I was OB-SESSED with pom-pom making as a kid - must have driven everyone mad! I still had immense fun making some HUGE pom-pom decorations and as a bonus, I got a mahoosive bag of off-cuts (from trimming them to even them out) which will make THE most excellent toy stuffing - lookee:

Foofy! Once the pom-poms were all done I added some stickles for sparkle-ness (now a word, thank you) and tied some pretty enamel jingly bells into them - they looked so pretty! And I KNOW my mum - she'll never ever put a present decoration away...OH no! They're all hanging round her house - so these had to be pretty enough for that.  See - proof that she hangs stuff everywhere...:

...Not that I'm any better - I do exactly the same thing...

They're there for the year now. Yup.  Apart from anything else, I feel that Han Solo is FAR happier when surrounded by pretty festive things. *sigh*.... no life.....

Back to the paper - here are a few more piccies I took to show you - hope you like them!

I think my love of colour and texture takes over. I managed to incorporate everything I'd wanted to - the rustic kraft paper combined with bright festive colours, tartan patterns and bows, pom-poms, foxes (very awesome are foxes) and, of course, Santa and his elf helpers!! I made that Santa bag from the kraft paper with gusseted sides and a piece of card in the base to strengthen it - it was mum's Christmas 'stocking'! I think they all came out ok....

The holly patterned bag with sticks poking out is a bunch of chocolate-coated marshmallows - ideal for hot chocolate and REALLY easy to make. It's a very affordable Christmas gift for friends and neighbours and looks really quite lovely when you add a little pretty ribbon and a gift tag. 

Ok - that's my latest festive arty instalment and some thoughts on new year. I'm off now to open a lovely bottle of red wine and attempt NOT to fall asleep before midnight. I'll be off in the Land of Nod by 10pm..... I know it!

I'd like to send you all the very best of all lovely sparkly wishes for a WONDERFUL journey into 2014 - may the year bring all of us happiness, success and peace. And some cash. And possibly a flying pony. You know - the basics! Love and hugs to all! - Shroo :) xxx


Monday, 30 December 2013

Christmas Treats :- All Seasons Hand-Painted Treasure Box

Fa-la-la-la-laaaaaaa! Yep - still festive here!

How's that turkey lookin'? A little sparse I bet! Well, I'm here to distract you with more by way of Christmas catch-up! I promised in my last post that there'd be more of that LOVELY treasure chest that my mum made for me, because she is the Empress of all Awesomeness and she's sooooo talented. You liked her lovely Yule dancer so much that I thought you'd enjoy sharing this latest wondrous piece of gorgeousness with me too.

So picture Christmas morning... mum and I still in our snuggly jammies wrapped up in brand new fluffy blankies (courtesy of my lovely neighbours - who are epic) while my kitty tried to play with ALL his new dollies at the same time, high as he was on copious amounts of nip...  There's always a build-up of excitement as mum and I always leave the pressies we've made for each other 'til the very end - a grand finale! This year, my last parcel was a big cube. Hmmm....what could it be? I opened it and -

 I so love this! Christmas fairies! She says it's a treasure box for all seasons.  It has pride of place on the shelves in my bedroom. I love it so much! I'm not sure of all the things she used to make her beautiful illustrations - I know she'll have used her Derwent Inktense pencils and a selection of acrylics and gouache paints as well as twinkly glitter... I'll ask her and add any details in a paragraph at the end of this post asap.

Hope you enjoyed that - I'll be back again tomorrow with another festive update about hand-painted wrapping paper and pom-poms!  See you soon, bug hugs from Shroo :) xxx

Sunday, 29 December 2013

My Christmas Day - Plus A Zombie!

Hello again!

Well, I've had a good long think about the stuff I want to post here, and the order to post it in, and I'm none the wiser nor more prepared! You'll just have to take things as they're posted! All very exciting... (I have no life - shush!)

FIRSTLY - I had a LOVELY Christmas staying with my mum. It's the first time I've had Christmas eve night there since I left home and I felt like a little kid again! Not LEAST of all because 'Santa' brought me the very same Christmas stocking that I've had since I was a teeny weeny little girl !  It was filled with all the lovely, silly traditional gifts that make me remember earlier Christmases with a happy smile -

Groovy li'l wooden toys - including a bendable zombie?! And a duckie-shaped compass -  like I'm TOTALLY sure Bear Grylls has (*ahem*). Note the awesome reindeer socks. Oh yeah. They go perfectly with the knitted Santa leggings! Yes....knitted Santa leggings. I thank you. Yes. I also got VERY warm woolly fluffy socks which are perfect for chilly evenings - see?

Toasty! I have LOVELY crafty arty things too -

A new spiral bound sketch book and some fabulous ephemera packs from mum - including those sweet little fabric patches...

Not sure what I'll use them for, but it'll be fun hoarding them 'til I figure it out! My friend also sent me THE most GORGEOUS paper - a DCWV Garden Tea Party 12"x12" stack, and a Bo Bunny 'The Avenues' 12"x12" paper pack which.....are......SO pretty! I'm itchin' to get my scissors to them, but I'll be good and have a plan in mind before I begin! He also sent me the most wonderful craft tape. It's from Paperchase and is more like a proper smooth paper than washi paper. The vintage designs are VERY me and there's a LOT of it on the rolls so I'll be able to add it to a helluva lot of projects - I am crazy excited about that!

See? Isn't this just THE most awesome tape collection? The box it comes in even has a tube that keeps them all in place AND a metal cutting edge - so cool!

I'm still in the process of clearing up my house after the decimation caused by all the pre-Christmas/Yule crafting projects (art stuff EVERYWHERE!) so my presents are mostly still boxed up but here's a pretty, PRETTY Little Mermaid statue my friend sent me (MERMAID!!!!! OOOO!!!) and a wonderful treasure box my mum gave me (more on that in the next post) , out on display with my big massive 2013 journal, a 'Fables' book from my friend and a lovely teacup my mum gave me for my birthday this year -

We had a lovely Christmas dinner surrounded by Christmas lights -

That was my Christmas day - warm and snug at home with mum and my little kitty cat all snuggled up in front of the fire with the wind HOWLING outside (I returned home to fallen garden fences!). A really lovely day which I wanted to share with you.

I'll be back tomorrow with some lovely pictures of the treasure box that my mum painted for me. You've seen her artwork so you KNOW it'll be lovely! I'm ridiculously excited to be able to share this with you - honestly!

Sending love and hugs to you - hope you're warm and happy! See you soon - Shroo :) xxx


Hello you!!

Did you have a scrummy yummy awesome Christmas? Are you now over-stuffed with nummy food and completely knackered? Welcome to the club! Ha!

I FINALLY have so much stuff to blog - if I did it all at once it'd be a mentally maHOOsive post (which would drive us all nuts...) so I'll split things up as best as I can and hope that works better. I think it will.

So - here's a sneak peek preview of stuff to come..... -


Mum's lovely things she gave me -

Handmade  wrapping paper projects & pom-poms! -

Handmade journal -


Book project for mum -

....and just some of the fun of Christmas -

There's the teaser trailer! I'll be back daily (if I can) to catch up with stuff as I've missed my blogging! Look forward to seeing you soon - Shroo :)xxx

Sunday, 22 December 2013

It's A Very Merry Christmas!!


I'm so sorry to have been away - SOOOOOOO busy!! You know how it is at this time of year... I hope you're all well and not TOO frazzled with all the rushing about. Just three full days to finish those gifts before Christmas...... No pressure......

AAAAARRRRRGGGHHH!!! Can I have another week please, Universe?

SO - I'm taking this last opportunity to write a festive Cristmas blog post for you with a bit of artwork you've not seen, just so I don't feel uber guilty! First of all, yesterday I quietly celebrated Yule, which was lovely. I opened all the windows and doors - which was chilly! - and lit candles and mum brought a Yule logs decorated with yew, holly, ivy and mistletoe and lovely ribbons.  We do give Yule gifts - and we try and make them if we can. I made mum some jewellery which was based on the gorgeous white berry trees we saw on our day out a couple of weeks ago. I forgot to take pictures for you - I am a moron....  My mum painted me an AWESOME picture - a Yule dancing lady!

 Isn't she beautiful? I love my mum's unique and gorgeous art. She's been drawing and painting for me pretty much since the day I was born! I don't think there's been a Christmas, birthday, Easter or ANY celebration that's not been accompanied by something she's either painted or made for me! She's AWESOME - thank you, mum! I love you SQUILLIONS!! xxxx

I STILL can't show you any of my stuff at the moment, but here are a couple of piccies from last year's projects that I hope you'll like.

A 'Merry Christmas!' robin! ....and his reindeer buddy -

I'll have to get back into doing more of these in the new year... I promised myself I'd have a new portfolio by April.... ahahaha...... don't hold your breath!

Anyway - hope you like these. I'll link up to the 'Inspiration Avenue' website and their Christmas challenge. They're FABULOUS people and there's such a wealth of talent on display there.

I'd like to wish you ALL a WONDERFUL time, whatever festival you celebrate. I wish you happiness and joy for you and your families - including pets! May your festive meals cook to perfection, may your gifts be loved and may there be no arguments, hangovers or breakages! A great big hug goes out to all of you. I'll be back after Christmas with a project catch-up and festive piccies too, no doubt!  Have fun! Fa-la-la-la-laaaaa!!!   Shroo :) xxx

*   *   *   *   *

A Visit from St. Nicholas

By Clement Clarke Moore
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave a lustre of midday to objects below,
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer,
With a little old driver so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blixen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the housetop the coursers they flew
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too—
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”
*   *   *   *   *

Friday, 13 December 2013

Bargain Books & Quick Journaling


It's December 12th!!! ALREADY! It's so not fair - the Christmas elves have stolen time, I'm sure of it!

I had another awesome day out with mum this week - adventures galore! We visited a local gallery who have been exhibiting some of my work for a while and HAPPILY (amazingly!) they've been fabulous and SOLD some of them for me. I love these people! That was excellent news so we decided to celebrate with a yummy meal at a newly refurbished pub.

We had some time to kill before serving started so we popped down the road to a botanical gardens and had a stroll around their gorgeous shop. They've made some cute reindeer for their Christmas display -

So cute! Anyhoo - I never miss an opportunity to add to that hoard of stuff I have lying about for arts and crafts, and here they have an area filled with second-hand books SO CHEAP! *sigh*  But then I have been EXCEPTIONALLY good and NOT bought craft things for WEEKS (apart from lacquer - but that's an essential!) so I picked up some lovely hardback vintage books - a couple about gardening and a few old encylopedias FILLED with yummy collageable images....oooooo.....

...all scruffy, gorgeous hardcovers printed in the 1940s and 1950s. The pages all have nice ageing (saves a lot of inking!) and the green one has that lovely tissue-type paper that usually comes in bibles or dictionaries which is fabulous for collage.

The encyclopedias are chock-full of fantastic images - some of them pretty weird, including this WILDLY unlikely picture of our Royal Family, which shows them at Y Bwthyn Bach - The Little House at Royal Lodge in Denbighshire, North Wales. Such an unusual image which is kind of sweet in that 'benign propaganda' way that our press demonstrated during the war years.  I just LOVE this page - and these books! So entertaining!

Anyhoo, I've had next to no time for my own arty endeavours this week, but I did yank out a couple of pages and make a couple of VERY quick collage journal pages to record elements of the day out that we had.  The lanes are still so lovely as the leaves seem reluctant to drop this year. The fields are bordered with groups of tall evergreens which are so dark against the winter skies - the scene is breathtakingly beautiful.  So I pulled out a couple of county-related images from the books and stuck them into my mini collage art journal (see the post: 'Time Versus Creativity" HERE) then coloured over them for quick journal pages -

"In the coldest Winter, the fragile yet eternal spark of life nestles safe & warm, protected by  the huddled evergreens, to be reborn when joyous Spring arrives."

Just a few minutes with a bit of glue and some coloured pencils and it's enough to record the day - if I want to draw any more in the future, at least I've stored the moment.

Remembering the trees at the botanical gardens, covered in pink and white berries.

The only other thing I've vaguely managed is a mandala doodle, done while chatting on the phone to mum in the evenings. Inspiration Avenue hosted a challenge LAST week to draw a mandala - and this is all I've had time for! It's a meagre offering, but in the spirit of taking part - voila!

That's it for the moment - like I say, anything else I'm working on at the moment will have to stay a secret 'til after Christmas. I know that there are still people out there who stress about old books being dismembered for art projects, but - for them - I found THIS printed inside the front cover of the encyclopedias:
So that this will work with the Google translator programme, this is what it says:

"To inspire ambition, to stimulate the imagination,
 to provide the inquiring mind with information told in an interesting style,
 and this lead into broader fields of knowledge 
- such is the purpose of this book."

This book was published as a tool of inspiration - a jumping-off point for adventures in learning and creativity. This book would have been pulped in the New Year, when unsold issues are taken to the recycling plant. This is my recycling and it makes me very happy!

Hope you're all coping well with the run-up to Christmas? Sending you all a virtual cup of relaxing tea to help you through! Remember it's just one day - make it about being happy and full of love.

Great big hugs from Shroo :) xxx