Saturday 1 February 2020

Berry theme reveal for Art Elements

Karen from the Art Elements team hosted this months themed challenge, the first one of 2020.  You can see her post HERE

It has been so long since I took part in a challenge as my motivation to do anything art related has been at an all time low.  So much has happened over the last few months and I am worn out emotionally and mentally, throw in the cold and grey days and I have celebrated getting out of bed in the morning and getting dressed!  

Time has come to push oneself to do something other than wallow in self pity and greyness, so I decided to start small.  Don't think too much, I told myself, just think berry and do a little something once in a while.  So I did.  Here are my three little somethings that came about because I was thinking of the berry challenge.

First up is Strawberry Nellie.

I had my first Facebook show of 2020 and was making characters (in glass as beads) for that.  It was a struggle to get going and find my whimsical muse but I am pleased to say that getting into the studio and just turning on the torch has kicked started my arty needs and the grey days are starting to become a bit brighter.  

The other 'somethings' are really just 'doodles' but art is art and creating is good for the soul, even if it is on scrap bits of paper! 

I threw everything at this doodle.  On watercolour paper, I started with a dip pen and some ink that Secret Santa from the team sent me for Christmas.  It is a delicious green ink - which you probably can't see because I then layered over it many times as I got 'into the groove' and found that time stood still and I enjoyed 20 minutes of 'arting'.  I grabbed the Arteza watercolour pens on the desk, I wanted a bit of brightness in my life, but it was too bright, so I dulled it down with a white Posca paint pen which I admit I over did it so I grabbed the purple Posca paint pen, then I went back to the dip pen but this time with black ink.  I stopped just in the nick of time I think, I rather like this mixed media piece and I am going to cut it out and use it as a book mark as it has all the qualities of art I like, colour and lines.  It is simple and it is over worked but I will use it to mark the pages in my book so I remind myself that all 'funks' come to an end eventually.

Lastly a Posca paint pen doodle on wood.  It was a Sunday afternoon, it was grey and miserable and damp and dreary and again I wanted some colour.  The great thing about Posca pens is they are so vibrant, the down side is they are so vibrant!  I enjoyed messing about, again for probably only 20-30 minutes, mixing, layering, smudging....  

A doodle a day keeps the misery away ;)  

No doubt everyone else that has taken part in this month's challenge will have produced something a little more significant than my doodles so join me in hopping the blogs below....

Art Elements Team
Our Guest Contributors

Thursday 31 October 2019

Art Elements Challenge Reveal - Eyes

It is the time for the reveal for the Art Elements monthly theme challenge.  This month I set the theme for the month and I chose 'Eyes'.  I love eyes.  I love their depth and mystery.  I can't say I was over productive this month, I have a lot of various things going on and so my free time is a bit disrupted but I did have an idea to create something felted.  I delved into the world of felting.. more dipped in a little toe... last summer.  I blame Art Elements and the ladies in the group with their diverse and talented creations they show which inspire  me to try new things and buy new materials!  

I 'acquired' some soft round balls from someone who was selling them off as surplus to their requirements.  I had absolutely no idea what so ever what to do with them but they appealed to me in their round white softness so I 'had to have them'!  My daughter had this enormous pom pom on her car keys and she managed to lose it and wanted another one, so rather than her buy one I said I would make her a new massive ball and created this felted eye, added a key ring thingie and 'ta dah'.....  it is now on her over night bag she takes to the boyfriends.  I am rather pleased with how it turned out and she loves it so a good afternoon spent stabbing my fingers whilst felting I think! 

 Another one of those round balls and this time I had the idea of 'building' up the ball into a shape.  I also have these 'googly eyes' which I was determined to use.  I created this frog with the idea that he will have felted arms and feet but I am not sure I like him enough to continue so he has been banished to the UFO (Un Finished Objects) pile.
This is still 'under construction' as I am not happy with the scale but I want to make some eye pendants with my eye doodles.  I have rekindled my love of coloured pencils after a couple of years dabbling in watercolours... I always return to my beloved pencils....  This one is a little too big for the pendant frame, which when you consider the frame size is tiny.  I also used the 'wrong' pencils.  This is done with Derwent Coloursoft which do not lend themselves to fine detail but they have a great colour spectrum.  I need to use some of my harder pencils like  my Polychromos... I might have an eye wateringly large collection of pencils.....

To end my post a few doodles from this month in my sketchbook playing with various brands of pencils.  This one is Caran d'Ache, nice pencils to use.  I wanted a tonal study in colour rather than a realistic one.  

Some blue eyes in Derwent Artist and Studio pencils - I did say I have rekindled my love of pencils and my collection is rather extensive..... These are harder pencils which lend themselves to nice sharp points!

And finally a quick study (actually they all are in my sketchbook....) of Gordy, my little cat, eye.  He has the most gorgeous deep golden eyes with very large pupils due to his brain damage. 
I think I need to get out some good quality paper and do a few big studies of eyes again... after a bit more practise that is ;)  
I hope you will follow the links below and see what the others who joined in this challenge created.

AE Team

Saturday 31 August 2019

Art Elements theme challenge reveal - Octopus.

This month's Art Elements theme was set by Claire and was Octopus.  Not a subject I was overly familiar with and I struggled...alot!  I have nothing 'concrete' or finished or even started really but I did spend a few evenings doodling and as octopus was on my mind here is a few of the doodles and experiments.  I am sure that everyone else who participated in the challenge will have been far more productive and can show something rather spectacular.. or should that be tentacular? which according the Urban Dictionary means something of many parts which is difficult to manage!  I rather like that word...tentacular...  

So first up was Sharky Malone, actually he was last up and as such I got distracted so I never finished 'colouring' him in - as has been my way just lately my muse is being quite elusive, or is that my staying power for finishing anything!  So Sharky Malone is a shark, obviously and I had this fleeting thought of how Sharky would capture his dinner if he was devious, why of course he would build himself an Octopus Theme Park and fill it with stolen pirate treasure to attract the youngsters.... 
If you can't see the 'story poem' I wrote all over the page here it is...

A plan was hatched by Sharky Malone
Who pretended that he was still at home
But, down at the park, just left of the shell
Was Sharky Malone, disguised very well.
'Come closer little fish, there's treasure to see
Don't be afraid of little old me.....'

I brought some peg doll 'things' the blank wooden wotsits (all technical terms) recently and had this idea I would do a peg doll octopus - I have endless doodles of that but nothing came of it!  I also came across some ply wood (I think) door hanging thingies and as I have Arteza watercolour pens AND Posca pens I decided to see if they would work together on the wood.  They do!  fancy that!  I need to varnish this but I ran out of spray varnish so need to buy some more, then I will hang this on my bathroom door, my kids might have grown up but I think I am regressing!  

Close up of the Octopus door hanging thingie...  I was thinking of costumes for some reason, I think I had been in my wardrobe and spied my dragon onesie - for winter you understand ;)  - and wondered if you could get an octopus one.. I bet you can! 

Just a random doodle in water colour pencil with the same pencil used dry on the top.  

...and another doodle in the sketchbook this time using my lovely Faber Castell Polychromos pencils, oh how they glow with colour and so gorgeous to use...  I like layers and some evenings are just made for sitting and layering....  

That is all from me this month for the challenge.  It isn't very much or very complete.  I doodle a lot!  I can't keep still!  But I thought I would show that although I don't have anything particular I still was thinking of the challenge.  I am looking forward to seeing finished pieces from those that have taken part as I have seen a few 'in progress' photos on Instagram and am intrigued....

Tuesday 30 July 2019

Art Element monthly challenge reveal - Flowers.

 This month the challenge theme for the Art Elements team blog was flowers and it was hosted by Marsha.  To see the original blog post you can click HERE

 It has proved a very popular theme with so many entries this month but given the time of year I am not really surprised nothing says summer like an abundance of flowers and even, if you are like me, I just love the fact that the garden is green and buzzing with life, the flowers are an added bonus to the beauty that is this time of year. 

Posca paint pens and wooden tag.
 I have never thought of myself as a flower person, although I spent a good couple of years 'just' creating lampwork glass flower beads and I love looking through my huge book of Flower Fairies by Cicely M Barker, which was originally brought for my daughter many years ago and I have taken it back now she has grown up.

I have had a bit of a tough time this month and Lesley from the team sent me a wonderful gift of a set of Posca pens - I have admired her collection in several of the Art Elements blog posts.  I was moved to tears; not all of it hormone induced!  Having been in a bit of a slump creatively they kick started me into doing.  Above is a wooden tag with bright Posca paint pen folk art flowers.  I love using these paint pens and can't thank Lesley enough for dragging me out of my fog.

Before my lovely new Posca pens arrived I had experimented with using my coloured pencils on some other wooden supports.  They give a love effect, grainy and tactile looking.  The one above is a small disc for hanging. 

The flower above, again pencil on wood, hasn't worked enough for me, it just doesn't appeal.  The disc itself is quite small, magnet sized, maybe I should have gone for a different style/abstract to counterbalance the size of the disc?  

I am a little addicted to paper dolls.  They make me smile.  This one, and others, will be in my Etsy shop as soon as I pull my finger out and list the pattern, they are most relaxing to just sit and colour in, cut out the pieces and by adding the brad pins you have used an hour by indulging in a bit of art therapy!    The bunch of flowers is removeable and of course the head and tail move.  I have stuck a magnet on this one and he is now on my fridge, you just can't help but move him a bit when you pass!  

This came about because I was hanging out the washing!  Honest!  I have some wooden 'dolly' pegs.  I got them last year because they reminded me of my grandmother every time I hung out my washing, all those long school summer holidays spent with my grandparents on their allotment picking flowers for market or peas for Sunday lunch.  I have wonderful memories of those long sunny days.

Quite often, over the last year, I have looked at these pegs whilst pegging up thread bare underwear - they don't hold jeans very well you have to use boring old regular pegs - and thought they would make great wooden dolls.  One day, thinking of flowers for the challenge whilst hanging out the clothes I had an idea of a wooden cat doll in a garden of paper flowers.  I think Gordy must have been out with me that morning.

Straight after hanging out the washing I grabbed my little jewellery saw and on the garden table I sawed off the 'peg' bit and was left with a head and body which I painted with my Posca paint pens.. of course!  I spent TWO evenings doodling small flowers and leaves and cutting them out.  They are teeny tiny!  I had this snow globe which makes the perfect 'home' for my garden and with some painted polyfill for grass I spent quite a bit of time getting covered in glue attaching small flowers to wires - I am that 5 year old with a glue stick it goes EVERYWHERE! I enjoyed this so much I might have ordered some 'proper' wooden peg dolls, for my Posca pens you understand....

As I said earlier I 'used' to make a lot of glass flower beads so my son asked me to create for him a special bead to give to his wife to be on their wedding day next month.  I decided to go with 'something blue' as my daughter has seen the dress and described it to me - my son was obviously clueless!  so the bead has to be small to fit with the neck line of the dress. 

..and finally.. more glass and more flowers but  his time more my whimsical style...well it is nearly Halloween - I did say the year is flying by!  This pendant bead will be in my next show over on Facebook.  You can find out more about the show by visiting my Facebook group

Considering I was very out of sorts this month this challenge has seemed to have helped me be creative!  Hope you enjoy visiting the other blogs that have taken part.   Thank you for the theme Marsha.  

Here is a list of our Visiting Artists:

And our Art Elements Blog Contributors:

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.