Saturday, 29 June 2013

Awesomeness of Vess!


OH yeah - it's a laid-back Saturday - overcast and grey...kind of day for drinking tea, watching some youtube, doing the li'l things around the house that there's no time for on a busy day. And now some blog time. It's been a few posts since I talked about my art influences so I thought now'd be a good time. Choosing my next favourite artist's a doddle as I've been re-organising my bookshelves today and ended up spending a good couple of hours looking at some of my graphic novels and art books - just 'cos they're so yummy! My main focus today was a shelf section of illustrated tomes featuring the GORGEOUS work of Charles Vess.

 I first discovered his work a gajillion years ago when I was young enough to have a Saturday job (let's pretend that was only just yesterday!) and my first weeks wages were spent on a big lovely hardback book of fantasy art, including work by other favourites of mine - Bernie Wrighton, Julek Heller, Michael Kaluta AND Charles Vess. I found his illustrations immediately captivating. His work reflects the beauty of classic illustrators like Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac and Hilda Miller whilst remaining completely and identifiably unique in its beauty, imagination and design.

Mr Vess has an exceptional gift and ability to convey spirit and emotion, humour and charm with his sympathetic use of colour and genius for composition. He combines exquisite detail with deceptive simplicity with breathtaking results every time.

Just look at this picture - the first thing that strikes me is the rich, vibrant red of the tree leaves. Then the stark white, almost oceanic curve of the snow against the dark night sky (note his careful choice of warm greys - a cold grey would kill the whole thing stone dead). The image is FULL of motion - the swell of the snow, the energy and power of the stag, the flow of the cape...then notice the flight of crows adding kinetic shadow to the reaching limbs of the tree and the open-mouthed face almost hidden in the tree trunk. Everything about this picture is organic and compelling - it captivates me completely. (See - this is why I lose HOURS when I tidy my bookshelves!)

Vess has also illustrated a lot of superhero comics and books - panel work and sequential pages. I admire his versatility and his ability to capture a moment of energy or emotion. He seems capable of challenging himself whilst holding true to his style and artistic ethic (read his blog ).

I LOVE this ... It reflects elements of the Art Nouveau era or Arts & Crafts ideals. I have a wide appreciation of art styles and movements, but we all have our favourites (don't we?)  and this fits neatly into my love of nature-led design as well as my fascination with myth and magic and the tales that transported me in my childhood to imagined lands of fantastical creatures, enchanted landscapes and beings of light and mystery. It's where my mind still goes to when I sit down to draw or paint. Every time. Even if I wanted to draw corn-flakes. Not that I can think of a moment when I would ever have to or want to draw popular cereals... *ahem*

Hopefully I've inspired you to go look at more of Charles Vess's STUNNING work, and just to make things easy for you, here's a link to his site (just click the pic ) :

There are several books which contain his artwork, I'd recommend

Also 'The Book Of Ballads and Sagas' (Neil Gaiman/Charles Vess) and 'Rose' (Jeff Smith/Charles Vess)....aaaaaaaaaaand pretty much ANYTHING else.

I have SO many artists whose work I'd like to highlight and pay tribute to so you're stuck with more of this kind of thing for quite some time to come, but I hope that SOMEwhere along the line, you'll find SOMEthing you like. So cheerio for now...Be inspired and be happy! Hugs as ever - Shroo :)x

Two Soups

Well and hello there!

No - not dead...still here...I've deserted my poor little blog and left it hanging here in the scary internet ether, abandoned on the webscape pavement with its teddy bear and a bag of its little bloggy duffle coat....awwwwww.... Yep - and I've had guilt! But there's a good reason I promise! Don't be calling blog-abandonment social services! I'm here now and my blog's all wrapped up warm and snug with a mug of hot chocolate and bunny slippers....

Yep - reason for being away? My body hates me. Quite a lot apparantly. First, a migraine of death, with all the grot that comes with it, then - just as that's fading at last - I put my back out. And I mean, WELL out! And not in any interesting way...nooooo, rather by - oh I dunno - breathing, or blinking or whatever it was that pissed my body off further. All the fun of the fair. So yeah, pretty immobile there for a week or so, with only the classic bent-double shuffle reminiscent of a classic Julie Walters character - Mrs Overall, or possibly the awesome 'Two Soups' waitress (we love Julie Walters - and Victoria Wood....I think it's a law? THOU MUST BOW DOWN BEFORE AWESOME COMEDY ACTING/WRITING TALENT OR ELSE....THAT law....)

 (Hopefully this pic should link to Victoria Wood's long-overdue BAFTA award and the 'Tip Top Tap' routine starring the epic Ms Walters and the spectacular Celia Imrie.)

Better now - I can stand upright and sneeze and lift a kettle for that vital cuppa and EVERYTHING! Fabulous!   And while I got stuff-all done, art-wise, I have thought of many blog entries, so brace yourself and grit your teeth 'cos there's more rambling to come....seems I have an inexhaustible supply of complete drivel and I shall happily inflict it on the blogophere. Moowahahaha.

I'll be a bit more planned in the next post. HA! that's a lie.....I'll make it up as I go along as always....BUT - I'll have a theme and structure.....HA! I lie again..... But in this post I thought I'd show you some of the stuff I made for my mum. Not all of the stuff as she whisked it away before I remembered to take pictures. Planning, planning..... So, yes - when there's a notable date or event, beit birthday, festive Yule/Christmas as is yer pick, Mum's Day, so on, so forth, I make things as gifts a- because it's fun; b- because I find so much commercially produced stuff boring and/or overpriced; and c- because I'm invariably skint, being that I am now officially a starving artist!! Trouble is that I feel I have to trump the last set of gifts with something new - and it's getting tougher! I've made mum felted figures, decorations and ornaments, garlands, copious amounts of jewellery, teddy bears, photo albums, journals and sketch books, altered boxes and chalk boards, coasters, picture frames, painted pictures, written stories and poetry and probably stuff I've forgotten....upping the ante is easier said than done.

SO - with all of this in mind I decided to alter a set of shelves which had belonged to her brother, which were plain and knackered and gods alone know what he'd kept on them, but they were a mess! After MONTHS of debating a theme, I chose to paint them with a design to remind her of all the trips to the seaside we had when I was a kid, the fun I had there and all the cool stories she told me to keep me amused. Pirates and mermaids and buried teasure...all the cool stuff - she's no fool! Anyhoo, I (being an idiot) forgot to take pics for you right at the beginning, but here're the ones I have:

 I sanded the whole thing down and cleaned it off then gave it three coats of gesso undercoat. Then I used spray oil paints to give a thorough colour base in green, blue and sandy yellows. The grass, sea, sand and sky were painted in with liquid acylics - decoart and docafts as they blended perfectly on  the coated wooden base. I ended up using Faber Castell Pitt pens to add depth of colour and outline shading. The Pitt pens are basically india inks in pen form, and on a non-porous base they can be moved and blended like any ink or liquid medium. If you've not used them before I'd HIGHLY recommend them for their vibrant colours and overall versatility. They're not cheap, but better value than the likes of Copics in my opinion.

I opted to use Magic Color Liquid Acrylic Ink for the white clouds, combined with a LITTLE matte gel medium for body. I didn't want this to look realistic as such, more idealised, which I suppose is the way I see seaside trips in my mind's eye. I wanted a SLIGHTLY cartoonish, illustrative feel to the whole thing.  I also lightly sanded and Pitt penned the edges to create a 'weather-worn' look.

Given that the shelves would be covered with STUFF, I kept them plain and gave a light gesso whitewash to the top and sides to add to the beachy seaside look. I kept the layered base colours to compliment the rest of the design.

I used my gorgeous, sexy Neocolor II pastels to paint some scabeous flowers and hairbells (mum's seaside favourites). Again, I wanted to keep the designs illustrative rather than botanical, softer and simpler - the colour's what I remember most from my childhood so that's what I concentrated on.

I coated the whole thing with a quality satin lacquer - another product I absolutely can't do without ...

 ...I order it in quantity so I don't run out and 'cos it saves me cha-ching on post fees.  Once the whole lot had had a couple of good coats I mod podged the (also pre-lacquered) flowers onto the shelves, Pitt pen shaded around them and painted on some representations of sea grasses and weeds.

I wanted to add a 'thing' - something that hinted at the stories I was told, and made up for myself... I tried a few things and was grumpy about all of them so in the end I painted and decoupaged this diving tail. You can see it as a whale, a giant fishy-wishy thingy or a mermaid, whatever. In MY mind it's a mermaid, but then I am a tad mermaid obsessed...

I added some spotty detail with a uni ball gel pen and a couple of distant seagulls and added three more coats of lacquer, allowing good drying time in between coats.  (note the spray-painted chives..... I'm a nightmare with a spray can in my hand - I wanna paint everything!!)

My photos are not so awesome, I'll admit, as they were a bit rushed, but I hope they give you an idea of the thing. It actually looks better in 'real life', as it were.... at least I think so. What do you think? Mum likes it - that's what matters, right? I had fun doing it too so that's cool !

Ok - I think I'll leave this post here otherwise it's gonna be one of those epic ones that make your face go numb by the end! I hope you like my piccies - thank you for reading and for being patient with my wonky back-related absence! Hope this day is awesome for you. Hugs - Shroo :)x

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Cheap vs Quality At A Nice Price

Hi again you People of the Blogosphere!

Hope you're all well, and lovely and coping with whatever weather extremes the universe is a-throwin' atcha. Ooooo it's hot here. Well - hot for Britain. We're a lovely lush but generally drizzly and damp country of temperate weatheryness....heat's a bit exotic and we're not awfully good at handling it well... There's a lot of people on show....things that need to be covered up.....or possibly quarantined....possibly put out of their (or everyone else's) misery...! Ugh. But aaaaaaah.....there's the lovely garden, the pretty tweety birds and the foofy squirrels...And the hayfever...

Ain't summer awesome?!? Here, have a butterfly...aaaaaah....pretty....

So right... I've run out of a few bits and pieces from my studio - things I consider pretty darned essential. Which is annoying, mainly because I'm having one of those 'low on funds' months which presents me with that always-fun-dilemma: which essential thing is the MOST essential thing? Can you prioritise 'essential'? Also annoyingly, it rules out any of those li'l new release crafty treats that we all love....'cos even though we all (hopefully) recycle, and hoard we so totally NEED all the preeeeeetty new things! oooooooooooo.

It'll all be sorted - eventually - but it got me thinking about my arts and crafts spend learning curve and the ongoing arty-crafty argument - Should I buy CHEAP stuff, or QUALITY stuff? Let's face it, most of us starving artists are on a fairly tight budget so it's tempting to buy cheaply because you seem to see value for money...what's that phrase - more bang for your buck? (oo-er) I've done it myself - standing in an art shop with lovely, gorgeous Golden Fluid acrylic paints costing a kidney on one side, and decoart or docrafts crafters acrylic on the other. Three teeny bottles of Golden vs 12 relatively large bottles of crafter's acrylic. It really does seem like a no-brainer. Cheap stuff wins, yeah?

What about all those lovely scrapbook papers, with their gorgeous designs and inspiring colours? Pricey - especially when they're new releases... But they're soooooooooo tempting! Are we ACTUALLY going to use them all though? Or hoard case? I sheepishly admit that I'd happily hoard a thousand times my own body weight in pretty papers IN CASE zombies attack and all the shops close and the internet explodes and THERE'S NO MORE PAPER!!! NIGHTMARE!!! Um..... It's my reality - leave me be dammit!!  ahaha. Yeah, but here's the weirdness - I have TONS of pretty paper....yet what do generally I use for my backgrounds and art journal pages and canvases and stuff? My own paper scraps, covered in paint and stamped image bits and such, old wrapping paper odds and ends, book pages, and magaziine images. Still the pretty paper calls to me......sweet, sweet paper.....*drools like Homer Simpson*


This same dilemma - pretty branded pretty vs cheap or free options - applies to pretty much every area of art and craft supplies. Realistically, we'll all buy what we wanna buy, buy when funds present an obstacle, here're my suggestions and musings and such.

1 - Enjoy what you already have.  You don't NEED (no, really) ALL those matching new releases to be a happy crafter. You don't NEED ALL the colours of paint, ALL the sizes of paper pads to be an artist. Art and craft should represent not only your imagination and skill, but your inventiveness in being creative. Look around your house at what you have - you undoubtedly have more than you think you do. Rummage round and find some stuff you've had for ages and forgotten about and CHALLENGE yourself to be individual with your design. Be inspired by others, don't copy -make your OWN art! Run out of pricey Prima alpha stickers? Go ransom note a magazine - cut out different text styles and glue them down! Print text from your computer...or even WRITE it yourself! Your handwriting makes you unique - it'll do the same for your art. When the cash is low and the need to make art is there, grab the opportunity to think outside the box - you'll be glad you did, I promise!

2 - Don't get caught in the Youtuber hype! What I mean to say is - just because some people video their hauls and stashes remember it's NOT A COMPETITION! Sometimes I think that the more stuff you have, the more you limit your creative self. You honestly don't need to hock your spleens to buy the latest releases in their entirety on day one. Be patient. Craft stores have sales - if you're careful and clever you'll pick things up eventually at a fraction of the price, and if you genuinely LIKE them, it won't matter if you have them the week they're released, or 6 months or a year later. Seriously....paper and embellishments, stamps and accessories - fashionable? Gimme a break. Be honest about your craft and your art - it's a reflection of you, not a reflection of superficial profiteering. Relax... remember that old saying - 'good things come to those who wait'.

3 - Weigh up your options. You'd LIKE the best quality all the time, right? Ok, Rockerfeller, knock yourself out. Back on planet Earth ... It's never an option for me - and that's ok. Trying new brands - even the cheapies - means I get to play with media that produces different effects and I like unpredictability in art so that's ok. When I need - or just plain WANT  - new supplies I weigh it up thusly: spend smart - buy quality on no-compromise items that are tried and tested favourites as and when I need, anything else, buy the best quality possible for the best price possible (yes, that includes generic as well as branded stuff!), even if it means spending some serious time comparing websites or ebay/etsy auctions. If it's not in budget, swear a bit and be grumpy, but make a nice cup of tea, have toast and jam, and be patient - it'll show up at the right price sooner or later (see point #2). Don't spend just for the sake of it - you'll end up with drawers full of shoddy tat you'll never use - that's not a saving....that's one hell of a waste!

To sum up: Art's about expression, not competition. We all search for validation, but it's our own security and self-worth that we should strive for and cherish the most. Creativity won't come from completist buying and peace of mind's fairly elusive when there's not a brass farthing left in the pot and two weeks till payday....pretty, expensive new-release stickers only get you so far. We are all WORTH MORE than the sum of our possessions. Enjoy what's there around you. Go look at that picture of the pretty butterfly again.

Much love as ever - Shroo :)x

Monday, 17 June 2013


It's another rainy Monday!!!  ....It IS Monday? *checks pooter clock thing*....YES! It's a Monday... I'm a bit with Garfield on the subject of Mondays but today I woke up with some degree of determination as I wanted to list some of my hand-made art journals in my BRAND NEW ETSY SHOP!!!


I'm so happy. And nervous. Nervously happy! SO far Ive listed some cards....

.....and some journals.....

....and I've taken a LOAD of photos to trim and faff about with so that I can list more tonight. I have some jewellery too - not a lot, but some pretty beadwork bracelet & ear-ring sets (not had a lot of time!) that I'll try and put up too.

This is my first time on Etsy - Awwwwwwwwwww..... I've used ebay for SO darn long and it's SO not my favourite place to be (most of the things I wanna write about ebay are OH so offensive!! so I'll refrain right now I think!). I'll be glad to see the back of them and start playing in a new playground of arty awesomeness! Fingers crossed that everything's well received by fellow Etsyers. Please feel free to have a look at my Etsy stuff and mebbe buy something if the mood grabs ya? Love and hugs - Shroo :)x

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Vampire Diary

I like lots of visual "noise".

What I mean is that, although the IDEA of a minimalist lifestyle sounds incredibly appealing, in reality I'd go completely mad within a day. I need to be surrounded by colour, by interesting items and collections, artwork and books....they cover every surface several times over! I keep anything that fascinates me - retro toys, action figures, fossils, statues and models, shells, light-catching crystal clusters, feathers - ANYTHING that will distract, inspire and enthuse me somehow. I dunno - it keeps away the brain-demons and sparks creativity, even on the grimmest of days when the weather's mean-looking and grotty and light is bad and I'm feeling grumbly or ill.....SOMEthing will catch my eye and start me thinking down a new path.

Now....given that my entire home and studio are pretty much one huge inspiration hive, you'd wonder why I need an inspiration journal? Ok, well, ONE reason is that it's simply yet another excuse to have more books - and to MAKE those books, which is a hobby I do so very enjoy... Another is that sometimes I need to draw in my focus (no crappy pun intended) and narrow my view a little, otherwise my brain will swim with too much imagery and colour and idea-trifle and will get NOTHING done at all. It just sucks it all up and gets fat and lazy and won't produce anything useful at all! So - exercise my brain.... To this end, mainly, I have several books where I stick or draw or paint quick images, colour samples, patterns and ideas and i try to keep them a little more themed....Many themes = many books.  I have some just for sticking down pictures of faces, hands, folded cloth - more for reference, in a way. I have books of poetry snippits or quotations or affirmations.... books of patterns and designs.... some of words and text shapes and styles. Each is helpful in its own way. It nails me to that path which is very often what I need. 

Anyhoo, enough with the rambling... I've taken some pics of one of my journals. It was created during one of my whim-driven moments after watching The Vampire Diaries (silly awesomeness - magnificent yummy eye-candy) and I decided to make my own "Vampire Journal" to display in my study. It was really easy and fun to do.  The cover:
...was made from a scrappy piece of thin card which I backed in a dark DCWV Heirloom paper with textured leather-ish design. I added some red mica paint onto it for that blood-splattered look and heat dried it. Then I coated it HEAVILY in matte mod-podge and left it to dry. Took a while. Had a sandwich. JUST before it was completely dry, I smooshed my palm into the glue, repeaedly, gently but firmly to allow to glue to take an impression of skin (kind of) and to make the ridges and folds in the surface. When it was completely dry I repeated the proceedure and allowed to dry again. When dry, I added some dark ink with a compact sponge, and some Treasure Gold 'Classic' gilding wax, then sprayed liberally with a satin laquer. It looks exactly how I wanted it to - like leather or hide - and it feels gorgeous.
For the inside I used a selection of papers I had spare from other projects - I folded and trimmed them into three signatures and decided to just tie them in with waxed linen thread. SO easy! Then I had some fun burning and tearing each page and splattering like a loony with more mica paint. I wanted it to look old and used and abused and it so does! Ha!

Such fun to do! I added a couple of altered, inked envelopes with wax seals and some feathers:

...and sort of immediately decided that this would be my book for the weird and wonderful...images, colours, textures that would spark ideas for spooky or surreal art...a jumping off point for allowing the quirky ideas to have some space to grow. I try and group images together, although I'll add to them at different times. I'll try out colours, various media, textures - all sorts of stuff! 
 (pic: vintage images and textures- crumpled, inked tag, irridescent feather, k& co cut-out vintage leaf tag with thin, heat-dryed layer of Glossy Accents stuck on to vintage French book page, A couple of cut outs from Graphic 45 and 7 Gypsies.)

 (pic: a few printed vintage images (see The Graphics Fairy ) and a play about with layering paints and inks and glazes over a spare embellishment I had lying around)

 (pic: I enjoyed the comedy of these images - I do see the one on the right as a drawing to inspire courage and inventiveness, whereas the other on the left is what happens when idiots are allowed to run free with their delusions! Bless 'em... Just makes me smile is all...)

 (pic: being in a Wonderland state of mind. Choosing my colours for an Alice project which is still yet to happen. I think I like the idea of using feather imagery a lot.....I think)

 (pic: Found the vintage image of the formation bees and loved it! Had to stick it in the book and have a couple of ideas to play with, but THEN found the Queen Bee lady! How awesome is she?!? She had to go in the book - love the costume and the vintage look)

(pic: I liked the colours - that's about it. Now and again I'll ad a thing - like the vintage fur snippit, or the rub-ons etc. The point is that this will give me an idea for SOMEthing at SOME point. )

The book's there as a means of collecting ideas REALLY quickly - and quite randomly. It's not meant to make much sense, or be planned, or even be pretty, it's just storing ideas for when I need them.
Adding layers and new bits and bobs can spark ideas for using words or phrases, which in turn can help kick a distracted brain into touch. 

I know this won't be for everyone, but this book was SO much fun to make and it actually looks cool open on display, which is rather nice. I think it's important to find what works for you. Some people know EXACTLY what they want to do when they sit down to work on a piece, some people prefer to map out a concept from beginning to end. Some work through a sketchbook (I know I'd be stuck without mine) and some have scrap books or smash books or art journals - and some have a bit of everything! There's no right or wrong about it, in my opinion.Whatever's right for YOU - go for it!I don't know if you'll find this useful, or even interesting, but I hope that somewhere along the line it might be handy for someone. Have fun! - Shroo :)x

ps - yes, when it's finished I'll add some beads and charms to the spine. It's my treat for completing a book and not leaving a bajillion blank pages like I normally do because I get distracted or bored and make another book. Beads & charms = personal 'good girl' reward system!

Friday, 14 June 2013

Rating Rackham

Heh heh heh...  I so love finding cheesey titles for these posts. It amuses me. I know - I'm an idiot, but as long as it makes me happy, hey, what's the problem?

AAAAAAAnyhoo - I have a post for later about inspiration journals (kind of) but while I'm waiting to get the light right to take photos I thought I'd make mention of another early influence on whats I likes in the artyverse. And that would be the moody and uniquely wonderful illustrative work of Arthur Rackham.

I don't know what I love more - the style or the subject matter... I love his expressive use of muted, blended tones, picking out significant detail with a perfect eye for presentation. I've ALWAYS been fascinated with myths and legends and so I suppose I was naturally drawn to these images as part of the storytime reading experiences when I was a kid, but the love just stayed with me and I adore them as much today as I did then.
His work appears as stunning illustrations to editions of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, Alice in Wonderland, Grimm's Fairy Tales, Gulliver's Travels and more and they've been the source of inspiration for thousands of artists, both amateur and professional right to this day. 
 Rackham's an interesting guy - and you can learn more about him and enjoy his art by checking out this site:

I've linked to the site's own link page as it's probaby the most useful one. Go rummage and enjoy and I'll be back later with more rambly stuff and pics. And stuff.  xxx

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Expert Schmexpert...

SO I've stared at this new blog page blankly for a while now, on and brain-face isn't playing nicely today and I all the words are sitting in a big, moody, tangled clump of unhelpfulness so I've looked at the blue, sunny sky, the pretty garden flowers, taken a deep, cleansing breath....and poured a lovely long glass of peach schnapps and lemonade which suits the day and will help untangle the grumpy word ball a bit.


Aaaah....peachy..... :-)

Here's a thing that happens - whenever I get around to telling a person that I "do art" (saying "I'm an artist" still makes me feel dodgy and sheepish), the first thing they inevitably say is, "oh, what do you draw?" Now, it's a perfectly natural question to ask, but I find it a tough one to answer really. There're generally a good few "um"s and a smattering of "err"s surrounded by inarticulate snippits of sentences and some foofy hand-waving.....sort of thusly:

"Oh, you know, well..err. um, kind of a bit of everything, sort of? I mean - not really anything IN PARTICULAR, just sort of, um, well I suppose mixed media? Um, yeah? No, well, er, well, yes I do draw but also use, um, well anything I find that looks or feels right? Hmm? Oh - er, sort of nature-based things, but also people, and I like different styles and I don't really do pet portraits... Eh? Oh, no, thank you - I don't want to paint you really, I hope you're not offended haha? Err.. no - oh really no, don't be...I don't really find portraits to be inspirational...No - I don't mean that you're boring...GODS no! Where are you going?............"

......and so on....... It would be SO easy to say "I paint flowers" or "I draw cats" but as soon as I try to describe what, to me is an abstract set of ideas and how I translate them into an activity I go into mumble mode. Maybe I'm trying to avoid sounding like a self-important art lecturer, or like one of those late-night art forums - like I'll burst into flame if I use the word "concept" or something. Maybe it's just me? Maybe every other artist can pin their art and expression down to a simple phrase or sentence which can be easily understood by anyone? I dunno.  Anyway - if I've not driven a person away in disgust by not wanting to paint their children's portraits then the follow up question (which would clarify things for them and give me an opportunity NOT to sound like an arse) is always: "So, what would you say you're an expert in then? Oils? Watercolours? Hmmm?" Again, unfortunately, my chance to be all interesting and superior sidles furtively out of the room because, see, I don't consider myself an EXPERT at anything.

That's just how it is. I have a butterfly mind and the attention span of an easily distracted goldfish...I have a REALLY low boredom threshold, which means that I tend to learn a lot of things JUST enough to add to the art-brain-file-collective thingy but I don't spend enough time with each thing to be able to even stand next to the 'Expert' badge, let alone wear it. But see - it works for me....I kinda LIKE that way of doing things.... It's not for everyone, I know, but it just fits like a comfy cardigan - the one with the holes in and the soup stains on that makes you feel better when you're ill, happy when you're being at home curled up on the sofa in front of the fire and tv with a cup of hot chocolate when everyone else is stuck in the ice cold rain with bags of shopping and uncomfortable shoes.

It's hard, as an arty type, to clarify and justify my art to others - it's a part of me, and when it's perceived to be 'done the wrong way' it feels like a criticism of self and it's sometimes hard to say "you know what? Stuff it! This is how I work - you may not understand it, and that's no one's fault, but I love it, it's who I am and it makes life better for me every day. Now, take your costumed children and your primped, posed pedigree dogs in gold lame trousers and be gone!" ...or some such... Think I might be working out a bijou demon-ette or two there....

So, EXPERT I am not - nor would EVER profess to be. The thought of knowing so much that I couldn't learn a new thing every day scares the spaghetti outta me. I'll continue to faff about and dabble and play and have FUN - 'cos without the fun, what's the point?

I'll go do some unravelling of thinky word pile so I can do another post - probably about inspiration journals. Or something. Umm........ Till then - hugs and summer sunshine, Shroo :)x

(pic: A hare! I like drawing and painting wildlife and love hares as they're so wild and messy! I had a real old play with colour here - mix of acrylics, painted then dabbed on then some Tattered Angels Glimmer Glam and Glimmer Glaze splattered on and heat dried to mak it bubble and burn a bit. The hare was painted with - ooooo - them sexy, cuddly ole neocolorII pastels - utterly yummy - and india ink with white acrylic ink for whiskers and white detail. Real fun to do - scratty and messy and wild, just like the animal! The colours make me squillions happy!)

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Making A List...and checking it, like, forty billion times....

Another day another bloggy postie (now that I've retrieved some basic brain function) some spelling corrections on previous posts....pfff......

Hello! Again :) So - I promised a post about my arty influences, amongst other things, which set me to thinking and some list-making as a result. I do like my lists - I make mental (probably really QUITE mental) lists ALL the time....dumb stuff like top 10 movies/comedies/tv shows/ know.....VITAL stuff. *ahem*. SO - it's not unusual for me to sit down and make an actual, on paper list of favourite artists, conveniently enabled by my standard levels of insomnia. Only when I added a third sheet of paper did I realise that mebbe I should split this thing up into a few posts as a preferable option to an all-in-one epic that would put War & Peace to shame (in word-count at least!). Yuh-huh. So I shufftied back into the dim recesses of my brain and chose a couple of early influences from my childhood books that I STILLL love and always will.

Okee- my mum bought me some AWESOME books when I was a kid and she was heavily influenced in her purchases by the book illustrations. After sitting and listening to her read the stories - and when I was older, reading along with her - we'd take time to talk about the they made me feel, what I thought about the colours and art styles... It may sound like maybe a tedious weird parent school lesson thing, but it was genuinely awesome - loved it  - and it really taught me to be observant and think about how art made me feel. One of the books I loved the most was a selection of Shakespeare stories illustrated by Victor Ambrus.
There are a lot of books that he's illustrated, but a lot of people know his work from seeing him sketch on the UK Channel 4 series "Time Team"...awesome stuff. He has such a distinctive style which I just love. It's a dream of mine that one day I'll own a beautiful gorgeous original piece of his work which I can hug. 

I love his use of organic form - his use of circles and curves.  There's an element of warmth to the images - no matter what they are, and a hint of comedy I think? Yeah? And HOW lovely is his Lady Macbeth?
So yep - this book and these illustrations are some of my early influences - hope you like them. Honestly - there are so many it'll take me ages to go through done bit by bit. I think. Probably. I'll add another post later as I feel I have some rambling left in me.... Mwah! x

  ps - if you want to enjoy more of Mr Ambrus's awesome work you can drink up the lovely at this site:

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

A Little About Me...

Okee - first postie post about me and my art and stuff and such. Err... where to begin, eh?

Right ... so... I'm an artist. I cannot TELL you how weird it feels to write that! I've been an artist as long as I can remember, but I've drawn and painted and created to keep myself happy and make beautiful things for the people I love in life, not for commercial gain as I've found self-promotion SO difficult, doubting myself and my abilities in typical artist fashion.

The beginning? Well, as soon as I could sit upright and focus, my mum - also an artist - jammed a pencil into my eager grippy fist and let me loose on ginormous pads of paper. I can't say I created anything recogniseable, but my mother would have you believe I was a genius. Well...a genius at random squiggles and splodgy mess! Mothers, eh? Pretty much from that point on I lived life with a pencil or brush in my hand, mainly cartooning, like mum and her friends did. As time's gone by I've faffed about with various styles and would now classify myself as a mixed-media illusrative other words, I like to play with all art media and have a wide appreciation of styles and am WAY too graspy and selfish o pick just one! I wanna play with ALL of them! And why not? There are so SO many limitations in life - those we impose upon ourselves, and those imposed on us by others - that we should grasp the joy and freedom of choice whenever we can and create something that brings on a smile - even if it's just for us to brighten our lives with.

(pic: scrappy paper collage in one of my art journals. Background's a watercolour crayon/sennelier oil pastel and acrylic mix with flowers and swirls added with acrylic inks and Cosmic Shimmer inks...which are very sexy - highly recommended for adding gentle shimmery sparkle! I don't draw out collage paper shapes - just hack away at paper till it looks right. Kinda. )

In talking to friends and colleagues, I know that artists often lose their muse. Life and all its tribulations and distractions get in the way and block the beauty of what's there around us to see and feel. Often we have jobs which are all-encompasing or relationships with people whose goal is to diminish and destroy those who they feel envy towards and don't understand. And so was the case for me for a while. Family troubles, relationship nightmare and job pressure conspired to capture my fragile muse and lock her up in a room with no view and I stopped making art, bit by excrutiating bit and eventually felt that it was lost to me forever. NOT SO!! Life has a way of presenting oppotunities to find paths to freedom, to break those grim, oppressive shackles and break into the light - to a world full of colour and beauty and LOVELY people and kindness and encouragement. We have to remove the things that poison us and have the courage to embrace change. So it was for me. I left my job, and removed the destructive, small-minded people from my life and all of a sudden, the muse was back and art has been my happy and constant companion ever since!
(Pic: this was a play with acrylic paint mixed with gloss medium. It's good fun! This ...for want of a better word....'landscape' took just shy of 10 minutes with a selection of sticky splodgy gel/paint mixes and was entirely finger-painted! AWESOME messy fun - highly recommended as it really frees your mind to do splodgy quick art!)

Like most creaive people, my confidence to promote myself as an artist is low. I judge myself and my art VERY harshly - in fact, for most of my life I've ended up destroying my paintings and drawings once they're done - a weird kind of catharsis. However, thanks to the encouragement of those around me now I've found the courage not only to keep my art, bu show it around...and bizarrely, people LIKE it! I find that insanely awesome! And a bit frightening! I've been invited to exhibit in a couple of galleries and competitions, my first gallery exhibit being last autumn as part of a national exhibition of art. I've been asked to blog about my work and ideas so that people can get to know me as an artist, which is WELL freaky, but I'm taking the plunge (hence, blog) so I hope you wish me luck and remain kind in your comments.  If you're an artist please get in touch as I so love to see other peoples' work.

In my next post I'll yatter on a bit about my influences and generally about art wot I likes... and hopefully not bore the socks of you and leave you chewing off your own leg as preference to reading further! Thank you bajillions for your time - I appreciate it! Big hugs to lovely people - I'll add some pics for you to look at!

Shroo :)x
(Pic: Horsey horsey horsey! Love horsies! Awwwww.... This pony horsey cutie was done almost entirely with water soluble oil pastels/crayons. The brand used was 'Aquastic' by Cretacolor and were my first ones - just a few - bout in a closing-down sale of a local (much missed) art shop. Since then I've been seduced by the divine Neocolor II pastels by Caran D'Ache. I swear I would marry them if I could. They are a real artists must-have! Pricey in shops, but check out ebay as a lot of sellers can give you a real bargain! Oh - horsey background is torn book pages stuck with matte Mod Podge and brighter colours added with a teeny bit of acrylic crafter's paint and, again, sexy Cosmic Shimmer inks. I love that the versatility of the pastels allowed some text to show through the main image. Cool. )