I'm travelling into a new way of working, a new country, a new language, and a new hobby which I'm passionate about. Come with me for some of the journey...

Monday, 26 September 2016

Rainbow Wheels

Hello all!  I know, I know... I'm a shockingly poor blogger at the moment.  We're arriving at the sharp end of the production, the last few rehearsals before we head into technical rehearsals at the beginning of October, and then dress rehearsals, and then opening, so it's pretty full on.

It's still good for my soul to play craftily in my hours off, though, so here's just a quick peek at one of the main ingredients in my travelling stash, and how I've been entertaining myself in my hotel room in between times.

When I was staying with Cestina in the Czech Republic earlier this summer, we found some brilliant little watercolour sets made by Koh-i-Noor (a Czech company) for the equivalent of only a few pounds... so no need even to try to resist temptation!

There are four wheels with six colours each and they stack in a very neat and tidy little bundle, less than three inches across and 1.5 in height - so they were an easy pick for the travelling craft stash, along with some water brushes.

Obviously, the USA is a place where it's all too easy to augment my limited supplies.  I bought a large watercolour pad at Michaels in the first week, and then succumbed to some stamps designed by the very fabulous Andrea Ockey Parr of Snapping Monsters.

It was mainly the colour wheel which caught my eye, but I'm having great fun playing with the whole set - a delightful step sideways from my usual style of stamp (more of those games another time).

These colour mixing pages were just the results of me taking the colour wheel out for its first spin (sorry, couldn't resist that one!).  It's also a good way of testing out the Koh-i-Noors, and great practice for me in handling watercolour as a medium.

Each sheet uses just the colours from one layer of the watercolour set, mixing an intermediate colour at each stage to double my colour tones at a stroke.

The joys of having the colour wheel as a stamp are a) that I can stamp it straight onto watercolour paper to play with and b) I can stamp it as often as I like.

That means I can carry on mixing to my heart's content.

Obviously the next stage will be a page with some of the reds and oranges from different layers combined.

And then one with the blues and greens from different layers, and so on and so forth...  The variations will end up being almost endless.

The white has a pearlescent effect in it, and is also slightly opaque, so that will alter every colour it comes in contact with.

The rest of each page is just me cleaning the water brush between colours, while enjoying creating different strokes and pigment intensity.

So, nothing mind-bending for you today - just a touch of playtime and a little travelling stash reveal.  I'll share more some time of what I chose to bring along if you're interested, and we're heading for a Tag Friday over at A Vintage Journey at the end of this week, so I'll be back then with another tag created with my hotel supplies.

Thanks so much for stopping by, and I'll see you again soon.

I'll dip my brush into the sunrise, and the sunset, and the rainbow.
From The Barretts of Wimpole Street, a 1930s play by Rudolf Besier

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Never Give Up

Hello all!  I know I keep promising you a tour of Shanghai, but somehow I don't seem to have the time or the inclination to write a post which is likely to be quite long, not to mention complicated to put together.

If I don't do it soon, I'll have forgotten what happened back in February, but for now it's still on hold.

Instead I'm here with an autumnal tag today, featuring a woman who is entering the autumn of her life determined not to give up on her dreams, even though they haven't shown much sign of coming true yet.

For the background, I used the gorgeous new Autumn layering stencil from Tim Holtz (another addition to my travelling craft stash here in Columbus).  I blended on Pumice Stone through the stencil, and then added shadings of Vintage Photo, all over a wrinkle-free distress background.

The next layer was a Potting Soil Archival stamping of the Memory Box leaves you saw in my Come What May journalling pages...

... and then some random stamping of the TH text in white acrylic paint.

I really love the depth created by the layers and if I'd been at home, I'd have worked out something which would have left more of the background exposed.

But with what I have with me, there are limited options for where to go next once I have my backgrounds (no die-cutting for starters!), so I at least tried to keep the collage elements pretty minimal.

I sorted through the Photobooth photos and as soon as I saw this woman, I knew she was the one for this tag.

The resolute set of her mouth coupled with the slightly wary look in her eyes told a story to me of a somewhat hard-lived life, always seeking but never quite finding success or happiness or maybe love.

I think she's been hurt along the way - perhaps she's had to buy an Admit One ticket by herself one too many times.

But there's a light in those eyes too - a clear sign of a strength of character, a sense of humour and self-knowledge.  She's not one to give up.

Regardless of age or past disappointments, she is heading into the autumn of her days with a sense of purpose.  She will carry on taking risks, exploring the paths on her own.

And if, at some point on that journey, someone should turn up to help carry the load, she will be ready to take flight into a whole new life adventure.

Thanks so much for stopping by today.  I hope you're all having a wonderful weekend, and I'll see you soon.

There is no failure except in no longer trying.
Elbert Hubbard

Courage doesn't always roar.  Sometimes it's the quiet voice at the end of the day whispering, "I will try again tomorrow".
Mary Anne Radmacher

Given my sombre colour palette, I'd like to play along with The Colours of Autumn at Stamps and Stencils

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Come What May

Hello all!  So, as promised when I shared some of the pages from the France Papillon workshop, I'm back with the newest bit of playing done in that same art journal, and this one's all me.  This page spread was created here in Columbus, Ohio, with my travelling stash, and it really was just playtime for me.

I think I may have started with a thin coat of gesso.  Then I stuck down some book page strips and added some stencilled texture using a semi-gloss heavy gel.

Over that I added some blobs of DecoArt Deep Midnight Blue and used a water brush to spread the paint out in interesting directions.

You can't really see much of the gel texture at this point, but I do like how much texture there is from the paint where it is thickest...

... as well as the watery effect as it spreads out towards the edges of the pages.

That's pretty much it on the process photos, as I got into the swing of things and was enjoying myself too much to stop and keep walking over to the windowsill where the decent light is.

(I'm still missing my outdoor photo backgrounds.  There's nowhere to do it round the hotel where I'm staying.  Well, there is some greenery, but there are also busy roads all around and far too many people who will look at me strangely if I hover over a bush or a patch of grass trying to get a tag to sit at the right angle!)

As you can see, I've added plenty of stamping.

These lovely leafy branches are a Memory Box stamp called Windswept.

And the swirling threads are by Gabrielle Pollacco for 49 Market.

The leaves are stamped in Sepia and the threads in Potting Soil Archival Inks.

I used the water brush again, this time to add some Vintage Photo Distress Ink in light washes.

There's also just a touch of Rusty Hinge in places.

I just swirled the brush on the ink pads and then applied it to the page, sometimes with an extra squeeze of water.

This helps to pick out some of the leafy gel texture in relief.

And you can also spot it when it catches the light, of course.

Some Idea-ology Small Talk stickers provide the words...

... important ones I try to live by.

And finally, as an alternative to my usual spatter, I put some DecoArt Whitewash paint onto my craft mat and used a toothpick to add marks and squiggles.

I love the way the random markings add highlighting accents and draw the eye into all that lovely texture.

So, I had a lovely time with these pages... blue and brown again, you'll notice.  A crafting obsession in a year with not that much time for crafting!

Thanks so much for stopping by today.  It's always a pleasure to hear from you, and I'm starting to do better with catching up with what all of you are getting up to.  I hope you're all enjoying a great weekend, and I'll see you again soon - maybe in Shanghai (if I get round to writing that post), or maybe just with some more blue and brown stuff!

Every great dream begins with a dreamer.  Always remember you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.
Harriet Tubman

At the Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge they are celebrating STAMPtember with a Stamp It theme this week, so I'd like to play along with that.
I don't usually play along at PaperArtsy - always felt a bit strange, given I'm one of the people who bobs up to provide inspiration now and then - but I haven't been able to do that for ages so I thought I might come at it from this direction for a change.  So with those toothpick squiggles, as well as all the brush work with the paints, I'd like to share this in the Making Marks challenge this fortnight.
And I'd like to make this my second entry in the Anything Creative/Mixed Media Goes at the Love To Create Challenge

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

When butterfly met Papillon

Hello all!  I'm dredging up some fairly Ancient History again.  Recently I shared the altered book made during a fabulous weekend workshop with the amazing France Papillon back in November 2014, and in that post I mentioned that we'd done lots of other things with her too and that I'd try to track them down.

Well, by chance, the art journal I grabbed to bring with me to Columbus, Ohio, as part of my travelling stash is the one we got at that workshop and did some experimenting in.  It's the Ranger/Dylusions small journal, 8x5 inches.

While I was playing in it today, I thought I might as well grab some photos of some of the exploring we did over that weekend, so this post has more of what happened when butterfly met Papillon (which is French for butterfly, in case you didn't realise!).  I like some results better than others...

France explained how she often uses her journals just to find out how products will work together, so the early pages were our chance to mess around with some of the sprays and pastes and other toys she'd brought for us to play with.

(The trouble with sharing this now, of course, is that it's making me crave access to the many and varied products I have at home, whereas I've got to make do with my limited Ohio craft kit!)

There's more shimmer around than I'm used to working with, but it made such sense to play in this way - trying out some of my favourite colour combinations but in three different colour mediums over one page spread, and with different finishes.

Whilst I like the mysterious look of some of that shimmer over black gesso, especially with the added texture, it doesn't feel very me.

I'm an occasional user of black gesso, for sure, but in limited amounts, and it usually vanishes under layers and layers of other stuff.

This page spread feels a bit more like a butterfly one - from grass to sky, texture, crackle and text...

This was a chance to create with the products or effects we'd enjoyed the most so far, and I leapt at my often-favoured blue/greens (second only to the blue/browns here at Words and Pictures).

I enjoyed "messing up" the clean edges of the harlequin crackle texture - I think I was going off-piste with that, as is my wont in classes.

I really love the script stencil - might have to track that down and put it on the Christmas wishlist, I think.  And the spattery water droplets in the background do make me very happy.

I find myself quite taken with the level of shimmer here - as you know I love things that catch the light... I'm just not used to so much mica.  

I was in two minds about whether to share this next page - it took me a long way out of my comfort zone and I remain pretty ambivalent about the results.

France set up the process deliberately to take away our control.  On each table of crafters, we had to take it in turns to say what would be the next element added to the page, whether that was to use a specific colour, technique, or even a particular stamp.

As I've just mentioned, I really don't go for black in my crafting very much (it's even rare for me to stamp in black), so I was very resistant when somebody required the addition of the black stencilling.  I do like the spatter though.

We happened to have the lovely Magda Polakow at our table and this little Nina figure had just been released by Stampotique as part of her range of stamp designs.

It's not an image I would usually go for and again I was aware of a crunch of resistance in my spine, but what's a workshop for if not to try new things?  And I do now think she's pretty cute - if still not very me!

Orange is, if anything, even rarer than black here, and I nearly went nuts when I was only allowed to add my fabric texture to one side of the spread, which upsets my sense of balance.  So overall, this page feels a long way off from conventional "butterfly" creativity.  I don't know... what do you think?

Actually the quote on this page is very apt because, in being made to do this, I learned a lot about myself as a crafter.  My heart spoke loudly throughout, and I took good note of its protests for future reference!!

For the next page, France herself called out the stages.  She kept it much vaguer - add texture, add colour with sprays, add some stamping - so it was possible to be both out of control of the process but also make it feel like one's own work.

Given I'm known also as butterfly, and given the workshop was being run by France Papillon, it seemed only right that they should be my featured theme on these pages.

Lots of my other usual suspects are here too - lots of texture, as well as lots of text...

...tissue wrap, lovely inky blues and greens...

(I love these Stampotique hearts, which I do actually own, but they're only rarely inked up - time to change that when I get home eventually.)

... some metal and some book page scraps...

Definitely a good sentiment for the weekend!

And the tiny bright red heart is a deliberate homage to France's own work - she very often uses one as an accent in her beautiful journalling.

Sadly my train home was booked at a time which meant I had to leave before the very last exercise of the day, in which France was making the group create to classical music without any chatting at all - something I'd have loved to do... though, of course, to be honest, it's how I create almost all the time, so it would hardly have been new to me!!

It was an absolute joy to meet France Papillon in person.  She's been a huge inspiration to me online, and the chance to take part in a whole weekend of playing with her was fantastic.

There are some (as yet unfinished) ATCs hanging around somewhere in my craft room from the same workshop.  If I ever get them done, I'll share those too!

Thanks so much for stopping by today.  I'll be back in a few days with the new page spread I've just been working on in this same art journal, and then at some point I hope to catch you up with some more of my real-life travels.  Shanghai (from back in February this year - I'm a long way behind!) should be our next port of call for that, so I'll hope to see you again soon.

The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.
Kahlil Gibran