Sunday, 30 June 2019

Selkie and the sea - Art Elements monthly challenge reveal

Not an easy challenge!  It wasn't hard to find references to the selkie lore, those mystical  creatures that live off the coast of Orkney and come ashore removing their seal skins and walking amongst the people as one of their own.  There are many stories surrounding the selkies and I have read widely on them, both in wonderful romantic fiction novels where you lose yourself in the words and are transported to the wild shores of the Shetland isles and also the more traditional fairy tale or folk lore that surrounds them.

I have loved the works of Brian Froud in whose art that depicts the fairies and more magical creatures of our richly woven history of Celtic tales he has given form to those which may.. or not.. have ever existed.  As well as many other artists works of selkie genre.  That didn't make it any easier for me to come up with some thing unique to this challenge.  I dabbled a bit with the glass (above) and my little selkie girl was born in the flame.

I doodled 'endlessly' during the evenings in my sketchbook....

using my imagination to create a seal like creature that was uniquely 'my' selkie...

...the many pages I filled in my sketchbooks but still the idea just wouldn't flow....

So I wrote a small .. and unfinished.. story and had the idea to create a small story book dummy for this project but I never got round to finishing it but maybe you can tell the story with your own words using these thumbnail sketches that are the preliminary doodles for my story.

I hope you will join in and follow the blogs below that belong to those that took part in this theme challenge, I am intrigued to see the ideas that this theme generated as it wasn't the easiest challenge but then they are the ones that push you out of your comfort zone and whether you finish them or not you might push yourself to travel a different path......


AE team: 

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Art Elements Forest Challenge Reveal

This month's challenge for the Art Elements blog was set by Susan.  To see the original post for the challenge click HERE

I have found with these monthly challenges that I don't actually 'complete' a finished 'thing'.  I think I am challenge... er...challenged....  On the one hand I could have made a collection of glass creatures for this challenge and I did make a few because I was thinking about this challenge but the other part of me thinks I should be challenging myself, it is after all a ..challenge; but what actually happens is I dabble away and never seem to finish what I started.  So here is part of the collection of 'things' that I was inspired to start, with the intention of finishing, for this month's challenge.

First up is this layered illustrative piece.  It is approx 15cm x 15 cm round and is on a wooden disc that I painted with gouache paints in blue and green to create the backdrop for my forest scene.  I then painted using watercolour and coloured pencil, trees in various shades so I could cut them out and layer them to give depth as well as the castle and the leaves.    In this piece I imagined a castle deep in the forest, a magical place that lives in the heart of fairy tales and books.  I had a whole idea planned for this, not least how I was going to mount it but at the last minute I changed my mind - I have a large circular metal 'thing' that I hoarded ...ahem..  thought I could use in the last month's challenge of repurposing.....  but in the end I decided I didn't like that idea and I don't have a shadow box big enough for this one.  

Next up is another wooden based piece and a ceramic owl from Jenny of the team.  I have had this owl piece for some time and he needed to come out of the box he was living in.  I came across the work of  Betsy Youngquist a few years ago and her work has fascinated me,  the patience she has for her work but also the macabre aspect that I feel when I view it.  Take it from me that using seed beads to create a mosiac effect is exhausting and frustrating, as you can see I didn't get all my beads the right way up because those things are fiddly and I got covered in glue!  My idea started with a simple (ha!) plan to create a tree like texture so the owl appears to be looking out.  I quite like the concept but if I do it again I will need to use a different glue as the one I used did leave a residue.

Because I had the theme challenge idea in my head I quite often thought of creatures that might live in the forest.  Influenced by the art of Brian Froud and the words and stories from various authors like CS Lewis and Terry Prachette who bring to life a world we can't see with the naked eye I doodled a few of these in my sketchbook.  The one above is the 'Bird Lady' her hair is a nest of ever green (nothing ever dies or grows old in magic forests... you know... ) leaves and sprouting white delicate flowers, her limbs are twisted and gnarled - but not arthritic! - like an ancient tree.....

Then I had a bit of scrap paper and Bear Time Story Bear was born.  I modelled her purple fluffy slippers on my very own ;)  I am going to laminate her and use her as a bookmark as I seem to have a habit of leaving my bookmarks in the library books when I return them, I just hope they get used by the next person rather than thrown away. 

..and last but not least, Felix the Fox in glass who will be in my on line glass show on Facebook  when this challenge reveal commences, he will be with his other glassy friends, just click on the link if you want to come and see them, but don't forget to pop back and hop the other blogs of those who took part in the forest challenge.

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Art Elements Reveal - Repurposing hosted by Lesley Watt.

I keep everything although a recent allowance of the daughter into the studio meant my stash of cardboard boxes was reduced as she streamlined my 'junk' as she calls it.  Priceless pieces of something waiting to be even more priceless treasure I call it!  

For this challenge I was torn between using some reclaimed glass that I have from an old stained glass window I was given in which some of the panes of glass are missing/broken or some reclaimed yarn that I brought years ago from a lady at a boot fair.  The yarn in question was once t'shirts that she has torn into strips and redyed to be one colour.  It is still waiting in the big box of yarn for another day as is the reclaimed glass.  

I have said before that my first love has always been drawing and paper and I have A LOT of paper, some old scraps from other projects, some cards from birthdays I couldn't throw away, wrapping paper, old calendars with pretty pictures on....  I keep the lot - and hide that box from my daughter! 

Old envelopes that have lost their cards for reasons only they know.  Make up sponges from years ago when I tried being a proper lady (top photo).....

cut up expensive watercolour paper that I painted on and didn't like and small treasures that have been gifted to me like the one in the photo above which I used in this challenge and 

this myraid of treasure that has accumulated over the years.

I decided I would make paper dolls.  I like paper dolls and I have recently been reading about art dolls, I even brought a book on Dada dolls which both enthralled me and shocked me.  The definition of doll is definitely out there for interpretation!  

In one of the above photos you can see that I sat down one evening and drew some heads.  I didn't have an idea for the bodies other than I wanted to use discarded bits and bobs I had in my varied collections.  This 'cat doll' is made from one of that discarded envelopes and you could easily use an envelope that had been through the mail system - actually that one would be fun and you could use the stamps and have a travelling paper doll!  

An old piece of card became the back of the skirt, a cheap metal costume jewellery ring was stretched out and became the skirt band that holds the pretty floaty folds of cut off material strips.  A bit of old lace and she is done.  All the paper dolls are articulated so her head and arms move. 

Next up is the doll that sparked the idea of the challenge as she holds the special treasure piece as part of her body - close up photo below. 

Jenny from the team gifted me this pendant some time ago and something about it really appeals to me.  It does have two sides to it but I love this side.  It says 'reflections of nature' and that is what inspired her 'theme'

Her legs are from an old calendar that is decorated with pretty flowers, her bodice is the same pretty flowers but a scrap of fabric.  The russet coloured back of her skirt is from a swatch of material that was used in some packaging in a parcel I received from Nicky in the team from our Secret Santa at Christmas.  The golden lattice style leaves I have had for so long I think they have their own air miles as they have travelled from house to house with me for well over a decade, they made the perfect 'front' of the skirt and the green leaves are cut from that expensive discarded paper painting.

But I wasn't finished.  I have these spoons that were gifted to me a few years ago as they reminded me of my Grandmother and I love them.  They are Apostle spoons and have been in a drawer as I won't use them for their intended purpose, we have normal spoons for that!  Her face is a ceramic cabochon from Lesley of the team which I stuck down with some of that makeup sponge above as I need to fill the spoon space.  Her hair is some bits of fleece.

Another saved treasure is this tile, again gifted from Jenny many moons ago.  The yellow silk scrap was in a swop with Nicky  - the middle bit that I cut out to go over the spoon body is the flower in the hair of the cat envelope paper doll, nothing was wasted in this challenge!  The green ribbon was from a birthday gift I received last month.

Below is all the dolls altogether.  I had a lot of fun creating these dolls.  They are not gallery worthy pieces but they used up pieces that would normally have been discarded, laying at the bottom of a box forgotten, gathering dust or at the back of a cupboard languishing unloved.

This piece I haven't quite finished, it needs a frame and I have an idea of how to construct it but haven't had the time to do that.  This was an old tobacco tin that I have had for 'ever'.  I think it belonged to my son and I stole it for some purpose many years ago.  I wanted to create a diorama in it, which wasn't easy as it isn't very big.  I quite like where it is going but it does need a 'finish' to it.

The one other thing I have recycled this month is this cushion - not the cat that is Freddy Bear a recycled feral turned house dweller.  My husband brought me as a surprise a V pillow as I like to read before I go to sleep at night and often complained I wasn't comfortable enough - I can read for hours and forget time if I am totally engrossed.  Sewing isn't one of my skills although this last winter I was on my own for a few months whilst the husband worked away so I 'borrowed' my daughter's sewing machine that was in turn gathering dust in her wardrobe through lack of use and taught myself to sew.

I rummaged through our little stash of materials that I have carted about from house to house and found at the bottom of this box this lovely bright orange and yellow thick fabric that I once tried to make blinds for my daughter's bedroom in the old house.  I failed, obviously but I kept the material.  I made myself a rough pattern with paper and covered my V pillow I even had to join parts of the fabric together to get enough width.  Freddy Bear is modelling the pillow for me so you don't see that I did make it a little too big on the apex of the V so it is a little baggy but he takes the eye away from that mistake.  I can highly recommend V pillows for reading in bed, it is so comfortable!  

Below is the list of the others that have taken part in this month's challenge.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

So... the end of another week....

So... thank goodness it is Sunday the end, or the start, of a new week and what a week it has been. Freddy Bear went back outside on Wednesday, after escaping earlier in the week due to the cat flap batteries dying. After his recapture he became very miserable, looking out of the window with that forlorn look of a cat whose cream had soured so we decided that he could be 're-programmed' into the cat flap and let out. Here he is in the sunshine on top of my studio this morning, having climbed up the tree to get there. That dodgy dislocated hip/leg isn't holding him back too much at all. (Excuse all the old tyres on the roof it is because my studio roof is leaking and my daughter's boyfriend very kindly put a tarpauline on it over Christmas but as the wood is rotten he put the tyres on to stop it all blowing away...let's face it we had a fair few of those knocking around anyway!) There is currently a campaign underway to have a new studio and there is even talk of garage conversion... watch this space...

So our Bear is back out in the sunshine terrorizing the local wildlife. In three days, it was late Wednesday he went out as he is a night prowler by habit: we had had a mouse move in to the kitchen, he did reside under the cupboards for a couple of days until he was moved on... eaten... A dead shrew was found at the bottom of the stairs complete with large mouthfuls of vegetation and last night I spent half an hour chasing Miss 'Mudge and Freddy Bear around the downstairs trying to get them and the poor squeaking mouse in someone's jaws back outside only for them to bring it back in, dead, and eat it in the kitchen spreading the entrails a fair distance! All I can say is 'at least my cats share'.

In other news....

Iz is back on her paws and doing well. I am back in my bed, 3 nights and counting, the feeling of lying down on a nice mattress after spending 6 nights on the sofa just can not be beaten. We have managed to get Iz up the stairs, blocking it off at the top for safety reasons and in the morning we have perfected the 'controlled fall' as she slithers to the bottom with me in front guiding her movements... all except this morning because she thought she could do it quicker on her own and it turns out she can but my training of going down on ones stomach has proved worth its weight in gold and we are not calling out the vet for broken limbs.

My alcohol consumption has gone up, at first it was to numb the pain of sleeping on the sofa but now it is because this lot are driving me to drink!

Here is to next week and all she brings!

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Art Elements Birds of Prey Challenge Reveal.

This month the challenge from the Art Elements team was set by Cathy Spivey Mendola  and was Birds of Prey.  To read the post click HERE

All of the Art Element team members are seriously talented and Cathy is no exception.  Her needlework and mixed media pieces are some of my favourites ever.  

At first, for this challenge, I looked out of my window and watched the birds of prey we have landing in the paddock.  Unfortunately, other than I know they are birds of prey and possibly Red Kites or Kestrels that is where my knowledge ends.  It isn't very extensive!  I did look up a few of the birds, the ones native to the UK, to see if I could identify them but in all honesty I just got a bit more confused.  I wanted to do something that involved the birds I see daily.  I am really lucky to have this opportunity, in fact I have just been sat in the garden (unprecedented weather in February here in the UK) having a cup of tea and watching one of the birds circle round and round and dive down behind my hedge to its prey.... I did have one eye on Miss 'Mudge the only cat of the house out with me at the time! 

I spent most of this month thinking of birds of prey and not really doing a huge amount about it as I really wanted to use the birds I see but not being able to find out which species they were I eventually 'settled' on the humble owl.  A bird well known in all the world.  Again I am really lucky to lie in bed at night and listen to the owls around me hooting away.  It can get a bit creepy late at night if I am on my own.  Anyone who thinks living rural is quiet has never left the city.  It can get really loud here with the wildlife, but I am not complaining. 

Last summer I was gifted by Lesley of the team three little frames that you hang from a hook.  They are small and very pretty.  I decided that being in a drawer wasn't doing them justice so I chose one, the green one - I have another green one and a purple one that I wanted to 'get round to' but this month has been a bit busy with vet visits and life as my big bruiser ex feral cat has dislocated his hip... I digress...

I wanted to layer a painting in this frame which was not for the faint hearted as the frame itself is only 2.5 x 2 inches and the aperture/window is only 1 x 1.5 inches.  I managed 4 layers, the background, the rock, the owl and the grass in front.  The owl is articulated in that his wing moves on a split pin.  He is obviously in the frame so not easy to move but that was how I wanted him so I went with it.  I am terrible at over analysing why I do things and if it is relevant, my promise to myself this year was to just 'do it' and stop waffling on!

I make quite a few owls in glass, I rather like them and they all come out so differently.  Lord Winston is February's owl.  I think he looks rather austere and could possibly be the chair-owl of the parish council, he just looks that sort of fella!

...and doodling....  I am rarely still and doodle constantly, these little owls appeared one evening during such a doodle....

To see what the rest of the team and guests have done with this challenge please click on the links below.  I hope you enjoyed seeing what I have created this month.  


Team Members: 

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Art Elements January Theme Challenge Reveal - Moon

This post is not very long because like everyone in January I think the month just got away from me.  I had plans, actual plans this month but....

Anyhow, this month Lindsay from the team hosted our monthly challenge and she chose Moon.  You can read that blog post HERE 

Like I said I had plans and even though I didn't do what I wanted I did do something small.

I did spend some time coming up with an idea that was more based in realism - I once 'did' realism as an art muse but I found my way to whimsy and have stayed here, happily...  - because of this I got cross with myself and made myself 'do' whimsy in my piece so this is a bit of a prototype.
In the end I opted for this shadow box and I have used layered paper as the medium - and actually rather enjoyed it.  I like the way you get more of a dimension to the painting and as I like painting small illustrative pieces this way I can combine the elements/images and create a larger piece with texture. 

Robert came about as I did spend quite a bit of time this month doodling away in both paper and glass, although not everything came to fruition.  I rather like that these challenges plant a seed in your head that you muse on all month.  Hopefully this year I will muse a little better and have a bit more time to create more.  January is never the easiest month to get motivated or find the time between winter flu virus' and wanting to curl up on the sofa because it is so dark and cold.  Thankfully today is the last day  of January and time for the reveal so I hope you can visit the blogs below to see what those that took part in this month's challenge did with the theme.

Art Elements Crew:

Saturday, 29 December 2018

Reveal for the Art Elements themed challenge of 'white'.

At the beginning of December Claire from the Art Elements team announced that the themed challenge would be 'white'.  To read that blog post click HERE

To me white is not a colour, maybe that is the 'colourist' or 'artist' in me but I have always understood white to be a 'non colour' like black because it isn't present on the spectrum and can only be mixed by the eye mixing light wavelengths - I do love the theory of colour but that is not the topic for this blog challenge.

wooden painted pebble, white acrylic ink

   I love colour.  Big, bold, vibrant colour.  I love contrasting colours or clashing colours.  I love black too because it is slimming! but white in our house and in my life is a no no....I have dogs and cats!  whether that alone makes me avoid white I don't know but because I rarely use it in my art I decided rather than use 'white' for creating I would not use colour.   

I concentrated my doodle sessions with just the white of the paper, but I couldn't avoid using black fine liner pens to define for me the white areas.  I did try using just a pencil but for me the contrast wasn't enough.  So really my challenge is more 'monochrome than white'. 

I started doodling 'dolls'.  I had this idea in my head that I could create a doll like figure in just white.  I did think I would use fabric for this but then decided I wanted to use paper.  Just white paper.  The 'doll' above was originally going to be cut out and have some other outfits to clothe her like the dolls from my childhood that you used to get in magazines - the more I read about paper dolls the more fascinated I have become with them and their history is as old as mankind itself, well maybe not mankind exactly but certainly since paper has been used by scribes.

This little chap and the mouse below were just doodles in my sketchbook.  I did enjoy creating 'just white' doodles although I will admit to be itching to colour them in!

Which brings me to my 'finished' piece.. well actually it isn't finished because I wanted to create more of a world for her but life and Christmas got in the way....

My little fairy mouse, Esme,  from an Art Elements previous challenge  
 has grown on me and I doodle her quite often.  I have got rather attached to Esme as a character, so I decided to create her as an articulated paper doll.  The photo above is the original sketch working out where the pins would go and then separating the 'pieces' to cut out.  Both papers are white and fascinate me that 'white' comes in many 'colours'.

I didn't have any white split pins so I decided to use beads and thread which works really well.  I did attempt to create a tiny articulated doll with beads as the movable parts... it was fiddly!!  

Below is a project I started and probably won't finish because it just didn't hold my attention.  The idea was that I would gather together all sorts of bits of 'white' materials.  So the base is a white felt over laid with white linen.   White ribbon was attached and I glued on a white glass cabochon I fused way back when and I wanted to include paper as a material so I cut out a doodle I had of a dogs head and stitched it on with white embroidery thread.  The idea was to surround the glass cab with white beads and embellishments but I became disillusioned with the lack of colour although all the white materials intrigued me with their different hues and tones.

Below is all the guests and Art Elements team members that have taken part in this challenge, I will be very curious to see what everyone has created.  
Guest Artists

Art Elements Team