Saturday, 30 June 2018

Art Elements Themed Challenge Reveal - Sunflowers hosted by Susan Kennedy

This month's challenge was set by Sue from SueBeads from the team and was for Sunflowers.  
You can see the original blog post on Art Elements blog here.  With the introduction to the challenge, on the post, Sue posted some wonderful inspirational photos but these caught my eye...

I was bemused even at myself because I can't even sew a button on straight and I hate sewing.  When my son was still at school I used to patch his school trouser knees up with special fabric glue and patches - he was one of those kids that was never clean and always lost a jumper and ripped his trousers, I am quite glad he has 'grown up' and now provides his own clothes!  My daughter is a wonderful seamstress, when she is motivated and does all her own alterations.  Being 5ft and petite nothing fits her right so she has learnt to be quite proficient, even taking one of her high school exams in Textiles and gaining A* in her exam.  She didn't get her skills from me.  

So you can see I was bemused.... and interested.

So I hit Pinterest and collected together an enormous amount of pins that I liked with sunflower themes, here is just two of them, you can link to the original owner of the photo with the caption link beneath. 

crochet sunflowers

Felted Mouse
OK so the mouse is holding a daffodil but it is yellow and I liked it! 

So I decided that seeing as some time ago I was gifted some felt for felting I would have a play.  I wanted to create a mouse that was sit in his own sunflower.  I did doodle the original idea but it was on a scrap of paper and it is obviously in a safe place... I can't find it!

I first did a mouse with the felt I had.

He really wasn't successful.  I didn't have the right pink.  He was too bright.  The only other pieces I have ever done was when I was first gifted this felt and I made a cats head, which after watching lots of Youtube videos on needle felting turned out I had done it wrong and it was over 'stabbed' and quite hard.  I don't have a photo and he is buried at the bottom of a drawer somewhere.

So there was nothing for it.. I had to order supplies and whilst I was at it, a few more needles and a new stabbing surface as mine was secondhand and well loved which, according to Youtube meant I needed a new one.  Whilst I was watching videos on needle felting I stumbled across wet felting and seeing as I now had quite a bit of felting materials being delivered by my patient postman (my daughter does a lot of on line shopping!) I thought, 'I like that' ... and promptly went off to get some bubble wrap as told to by the video.

VOILA!!  my first ever wet felted piece.  The sunflower, which I 'stabbed' onto the wet felted background I did using yet another Youtube inspired technique in which I wanted to make a 'picture' so used shop brought felt as a base, I drew my shape on and 'painted' with the felt.  I rather enjoyed both processes.  The wet felted piece did make me be more abstract, which when I am illustrating I like to be a little more controlled so that was out of my comfort zone but I have to say I really did enjoy it.  It is very 'zen' like to roll soggy wool into a shape, to squeeze it to rinse when it is created and to see all the fibres all matted together to create something out of wispy threads.  

But I still wanted a mouse!

Meet Edgar,  the pink I ordered was so much more fitting for ears and tails.  I rather enjoyed making Edgar but have to admit the process of the wet felting did intrigue me more.  Maybe it is the placing of the fine threads to create a texture and movement in a piece and letting myself be a bit freer with how the method works was extremely relaxing.  I will be doing more wet felting... I probably didn't need those new needles as Edgar was fun but he didn't inspire me to create more creatures unlike the glass which I can go from creature to creature.

Although my finished piece isn't the sculptural piece I set out to do I did end up with my sunflower and my mouse in a fashion, just not together exactly....  the only problem I have now is what do you do with the finished felted pieces?  This piece isn't huge, I thought about using it to cover a sketch book, my daughter suggested hanging it.  Part of my inspiration came from the gift from Jenny of the team, hers hangs in my studio and I see it every day, which is probably why I was taken with the textile inspiration that Sue put up when she announced the challenge.

For now I will just look at it on my pile of arty stuff that sits next to the laptop.

I hope you can join me in the blog hop to visit the blogs that took part in this months challenge.


AE Team

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Art Element Tidepool Theme Reveal Blog Challenge

Last month Lesley from the Art Elements team posted the challenge of Tidepool and today, 31st May is the reveal.  (click on the link to read the original blog post).  

May has been a busy month for me as I am getting ready for the Flame Off  which is a glass fair in Uttoexter.  I am both exhibiting and teaching a small class of 12 on Saturday 2nd June getting people hooked on the art of whimsy beads in glass making.  My little cat Gordy has been recovering from last months set back so I have been spending a lot of time with him getting him active and 'fattened' back up. We have had lots of lovely sunshine which has been great for getting Gordy into the garden but not so great for glass bead making as it has been too hot by 11 in the morning to light the torch and cook in the studio.

I was however inspired by the theme of Tidepools.  I remember as a little girl we lived in Cornwall near the beach and I loved walking on the sand after a good storm - I do love a good storm.  The waves would be crashing to the ground splattering foam and sea weed across the beach.  The smell of salt and fish, of damp sand and mildewy rocks that are seeing the sunlight after the dark of the storm, assaulted your nose.  The skies would be coloured in pink and purple with fading grey on the horizon and the tidepools, or rock pools as we call them here in the UK would be teeming with life.  You could see starfish, anemone, sea weeds in all shapes and colours, small fish and limpets that had been trapped as the sea receded.

These memories sent me into the studio very early in the morning to create glass fish, in my style...  

 ..and every good tide pool has to have a shark.. right!

I had fun creating my tide pool fish in glass, obviously they are not your normal visitors to these little rock pools nestled by the cliffs here in the UK but you just never know they might just live there if you look hard enough.

On a rummage through my cupboards of art supplies and beads I came across this beautiful cabochon by Jenny , one of the members of the team, she had gifted me this piece when I first joined the team.  I love the colours and the swirls, it just reminds me of water and Pisces.  I am a Piscean.  So using it as my muse I painted some goldfish (I am still learning my watercolours but loving the journey, I am finding painting so restful and relaxing... which after years of hating them and being so frustrated by my efforts I am finding using them something of an enigma!  

This finished doodle illustration is not perfect, far from it and the fish are not as whimsy as I imagined nor are they realistic enough to pass scrutiny in the art circle BUT I rather like it!  I love the colours and of course the 'doing' was something that gave me much pleasure.  I stuck this on the front cover of my new sketchbook so I get to touch it and see it every day. 

As with the 'sketchbook' piece I have found I am quite taken with creating mixed media flat illustrative work at the moment.  I like creating levels of depth and combining cut out pieces to give a more 3D but yet still flat look.  The other thing I have found is that when creating a 'full sized' finished piece of work I get easily bored and distracted.  This is quite a revelation for me as I have never really understood or 'been into' mixed media pieces but I have found, I think through creating small glass sculpture animal beads and then dreaming up silly stories for them, that that is my niche.  Small but lots of it!  

I have been reading a lot of fantasy stories on my Kindle - another move from the norm for me.  It wasn't until my ....ahem...  40s ....that I realized I love these stories of magic and folklore, before I read widely but it was biographies and classics like Little Women, Where Angels Fear to Tread as well as more modern works like The Colour Purple,  and the likes of Joanne Harris, Lollipop Shoes and Chocolat.. but I digress...

My latest, reading, passion has been for stories of Selkies and the sea which has set my imagination off for this challenge.  
I wondered what you would see if you gazed into a rock pool and there amongst the star fish and the shells was a Selkie in seal form.....

I used very rough watercolour paper for the 'base' or background, tinted in shades of yellow ochre, light violet for shadows and maybe a touch of grey.  On this I painted star fish, shells, rocks and sea weed as well as the Selkie himself.  I cut these out and arranged them how I wanted using a raised mount to give me depth.  On the mount I put my person looking in and some more shells and rocks.  I wanted to give the illusion of ripples on the water, another level and for this I used some clear film cut into ripply shapes.  I rather like the over all effect and have plans to create more like this.  This way I can indulge in my love of quick, immediate and 'movement' in designs, small pieces and link them all together.

I hope you will hop around the other blogs that took part in this themed challenge and I will try and do the same over the weekend, although as this weekend I will be melting glass in Uttoexter I suspect it will be early next week before I am able to do that.


AE Team Members:

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Art Elements Horse Challenge Reveal

It is the Horse Challenge reveal for Art Elements, set by Jenny   (click on the link for the original blog post).  This is a LONG blog post and very photo  heavy as I am lucky enough to host two wonderfully talented Facebook friends, Raven from Raven Craft Creations and Paulette Scott from 'across the pond' on my blog who wanted to take part in this challenge but didn't have a blog of their own.  Please grab a beverage of choice and see their wonderful creations.

You have to read through mine first ;) 

Horses don't really feature in my muse, I love to see them from a distance but I am a little afraid of an animal so big and powerful.  I have a wonderful friend who has horses and she brought one round to my garden a few years ago and let me have a go...

This was a few years ago... 2012!  That is Tanya and the bum you can see is Jazz who came with her.  Tanya was very patient with me she knew she had a complete novice and as you can see I was terrified!  All I kept saying was 'where are the brakes!'.  It is a long way to fall when you are looking down from up there, but I did love the experience and probably would try again.. maybe... in the garden...  possibly...

My month this month has been chaotic.  Gordy, my little cat, has been very very poorly and we nearly lost him but all is well now, except we have a few more grey hairs and worry lines but with my energy completely taken with caring for him and general life stuff I didn't create anything complete, but I did dabble.

I found a photo on Pinterest of a lovely horse with a rider and decided to have a go at a unicorn.  I drew the one on the left one Sunday afternoon.  I was tired, the weather was rubbish and I had a lovely time sat doodling.  I couldn't quite put my finger on what was wrong with it but I carried on regardless.  I showed my husband, who was on his way to work a night shift and he took one look at it and said 'the horn is in the wrong place and it isn't very you, other than that it is ok'.  That put me in a bad mood so on my own I sat and watched a re-run of Speed 2 and sulked!  Then I looked at the drawing again and thought 'he is right.  So I doodled another (not shown).  This one was similar but the horn was moved up.  I showed the husband the next day and he said 'it is better but it just isn't right'.  I tried to tell him unicorns are not real and it is an illustration doodle but something nagged at me.  My third attempt (right) I put away the reference photo and just used my imagination, I work better that way.  I giggled my way through this doodle and when finished I showed the husband.  'That is it' he exclaimed 'that is your style.  It looks gormless'. 

I had to admit he was right!

I did a few horses in glass too, a unicorn - horn in the correct place and a horse and rider.  I might not have completed something 'finished' for this project, although the beads are finished in their own right (and off to new homes ;) ) but I was hoping to do something more but time and life got in the way.

Now I get the pleasure of introducing my first guest for this challenge, Raven from Raven Craft Creations. You can find all the links to visit Raven on Facebook and Etsy beneath her challenge piece, which is amazing!! 

Hello. Yes, my real name is Raven and I am a yarntisan.

I live in the small town of Ligonier here in western Pennsylvania, USA! I have ALWAYS loved to work creatively, however my original medium was food!! I went to Johnson & Wales University in RI and earned my degree in Culinary Arts. I worked in restaurants in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and PA before moving out to Aspen, Colorado right after graduation. Learning to ski (and by that I mean “snowplow”) became a must to say the least! I moved back to PA after one ski season and continued working crazy hours and ALL holidays in restaurants, private clubs and catering companies for the next ten years.

Then, chronic illness caused me to “retire” and go on disability in 2009 at the ripe old age of 30!!
THIS is when the true passion in my story really began. I taught myself to crochet and express my creativity in a way that I could do even on the “not so great” days. It is my outlet, my meditation and my JOY! I love working with quality fibers (none of the scratchy cheap yarn for THIS yarn snob) and making a wide range of products that are functional, artistic or just make people smile. I make everything from clothing to photo props to household decor to one of my favorites, amigurumi toys! I prefer to follow other designer’s amazing patterns so that I can skip all that heavy lifting and just PLAY with my yarn. I get to do what I love every day, work in my pajamas and watch movies and listen to books while on the clock!!! I have a shop on Etsy, a page on Facebook and sell in a local book and gift store in town called Second Chapter Books.

Pattern credit for the sea horse is by Patchwork Moose on Etsy.

Custom orders are always a blast and I love to see where our imagination can take us.

My second guest is the lovely Paulette Scott and I am lucky enough to own one of her AMAZING dragons... over to Paulette...

I have been a toymaker and seamstress for almost 40 years now. And have been making my own patterns for around 25 of those years.
I wanted to try to see I'd I still had the ability to make a pattern for a new toy..It took almost the entire month to get this little guy made...
I drew the pattern out and thought (wrongly) that I could just jump in and make a unicorn...nope.. I cut out the first one out of satin and, well let's just say it did not look much like a unicorn..( it looked more like a horse that hadn't eaten for over a month.. bad, very bad) made the pattern larger and still, no.. just no...

Next I made the pattern a bit larger through the belly, and made the head smaller...maybe it was the fabric that was the problem, so, I tried velvet, those of you that sew know this was the dumbest thing I could have done....big head and skinny body and legs and when I tried to stuff it....if I wanted something out of a horror movie maybe...nope...
Shrink the head and make the body larger but using up the last of the velvet scraps... oh God help me, I am, upset!?!..Nope didn't work and this one learns to fly across the room...4 tries 4 fails...was my ability to make a pattern lost to age??? One more and if this one fails I give up...
Pull a half yard of fleece out of the scrap box. I cut out the pattern I have adjusted (again) it is looking better... I see it out and it looks a bit skinny but will keep the fingers crossed and stuff it. This one is looking good!! So I sew the ears, horn and eyes on. YES!!!HE IS WORKING!!

Next is the mane and tail, even better!! This guy is going to work!!

Well through the tears and the laughter I found this challenging and almost gave up, but after 4 failures number 5 turned out the way I was hoping it would...Thank You Laney for encouraging me!!

You can find Paulette on Facebook if you want to send her a message.

For even more entries into this challenge please click on the links below

The guest participants are:

AE Team Members: 

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Art Elements March Theme, Nests, Reveal.

 The first themed challenged for Art Elements, since the change from Component of the Month announced in February, was set by Cathy Spivey Mendola  and it was Nests.

I spent a few weeks going round and round with birds, nesting... birds... Spring but nothing was right for me.  I searched Pinterest for ideas and again was coming up with birds, nesting...  I was getting frustrated.  Then like all good ideas this one happened as I was doing something completely different and the idea of 'leaving the nest' came to mind.  

It is a bit of a standing joke in our house that I tell my 'grown up' kids that they need to leave home as I need an indoor studio - my studio for glass is out in the garden a purpose built shed studio and I love it but I need somewhere for my paints, my paper... I need a studio in the house and the only way I can have that is if one of them leaves home....  for now I use the kitchen table!

I 'knocked' this up literally within about 20 mins.  I found a little box, some watercolour paper, grabbed my pen and paints, my new set of block letters to print - of which I get covered in ink! - and whilst waiting for some potatoes to boil I created this and stuck it all down with glue.  It amused me and so I put it on the mantle above the fire in the kitchen and really didn't think more of it.  As far as I was concerned this was the beginning of my thought process for this months challenge.  

How amused was I when I got up the next morning and my 'grown up and still at home 24 year old son' had added to my 'art'.  It has amused me so much that it is still like that now, a reminder that neither child is going to leave the nest anytime soon!

I have a love of words and puns and a chance remark from someone over on Facebook inspired this shadow box design.  I forget whom it was but on some of my doodles this person had commented that I should sell the doodles to give me a nice nest egg... I ran with the comment.

I am still smudging my printed letters, I am too eager to cut it out and stick it down I need to leave it to dry!  I wanted to layer this piece and contrast the greens of the money and background but still give a reference to leaves, nesting, trees... so used some yellow card to create the front layer of leaves which I then painted over with a light wash of green watercolour.  I rather like the contrast and effect.

To see more of the entries in this months challenge, follow the links below.. I am intrigued to see how others have interpreted the word nest.  

Guest Participants-

 AE team members-

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Art Elements Rune Reveal with Niky Sayers

This month is the last month of a Component of the Month with Art Elements as from next month we are trialing a new themed challenge to incorporate all forms of medium and that is something I am really looking forward to!  

But before we head into new waters we had the pleasure of working with a wonderful piece designed and created by the very talented Niky Sayers from the team.   A rune.  My rune was Algiz the rune of Protection, of the all seeing into other worlds and represented by Odin the God of the Gods, known for his ability to walk in other worlds amongst the living and the dead.  Odin is the God of War and is accompanied by his wolves Geri and Freki.  It is said that Geri and Freki struggled to find food so Odin gave to them the gift of sight in the form of two ravens, Huginn and Muninn who would fly high and find the prey for Geri and Freki.    The antlers from Odins helmet represent the antelope which is the animal normally associated with this rune.  I took most of my inspiration from Norse mythology but it is sprinkled with the stories from other cultures. 

I love myth and folklore and magic.  I had my runes read when I was in my late teens, I won't share the experience from that as it was quite dark - my life was very dark at the time and not just with teenage angst!  

This is the rune Niky created. It is so beautiful that I knew if I tried to create a wearable piece of jewellery I wouldn't do it justice so instead I used it to inspire me to draw.

My finished piece is not quite finished or quite right.  The mount is the wrong shape but it was one I had already!  This is the first time I have used acrylics as a watercolour, light washes and layered, but I wanted the vibrancy that the acrylic colours give as my first attempt (no photo) was too dark and heavy that I created with a different medium.  In this finished pieced I 're-styled' the ravens to give them more of a illustrative look, something more in keeping with my style and I turned the wolves around and made them howl.  This worked better than my original design (below) which was leaning too much towards realism and I lost the quirky narrative style I like.

In the original sketch Odin was too dominant and the ravens too 'real' compared to the more illustrative look of the wolves.  

I won't be doing any more to this piece, I enjoyed the process and have ordered myself some acrylic inks - watch this space! - as I love the vibrancy of the colours.  I need to concentrate more on not straying into the realms of realism, I prefer my work to be quirky although I have to admit the ravens in my finished piece do make me chuckle a little more than maybe I should!  

I hope you like the inspiration for my piece maybe one day I will execute it a little better.

I hope you will follow me and hop over to the other participants in this fabulous reveal.


Art Element Members: