Tuesday, 30 September 2014

In the style of...

Every now and again I try to do a page in the style of another artist. I find it helps me not to reach straight for the things I would normally use. It makes me step out of where I'm comfortable. It makes me try new colour combinations or techniques.

On Fridays Julie Fei-Fan Balzer hosts a link-up where you can link up any journalling you've done that week called Art Journal Every Day (there's a button in the sidebar). This week she posted a fast forward video of a page in progress. I was fascinated by the way she put down colour and wasn't afraid to cover up what she'd done. Also the sure strokes she made straight away with paint, no pencils to sketch anything out. There was so much texture and interest from all the layers when the page was finished.

So I thought I'd give it a go. Faces are not something I'm necessarily comfortable with, but after doing the 29 Faces challenge in February, I feel slightly more confident about having a go. After all, it's only my journal, right? It's not going to hang in the National Portrait Gallery!

So I set to work, and I'm really pleased with how this turned out :)

Whose style would you like to try something in?

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Creative Blog Hop

Today's post is a little different. Last week Ruth - known to many of you as Lerusho - very kindly asked me to join in a blog hop designed to make known blogs that people might not know about and to share about the creative process. Each person chooses another two to pass the baton on to. You can find her post for the hop here. Ruth is great at sharing her creative process. Her step-by-steps are brilliant tutorials and there is always something new to be learned from her posts. The textures she creates just make you want to reach out and touch the screen.

As it happens, a couple of people also asked me shortly after Ruth, and some of the people I thought of had already been asked by someone else or were about to ask me. There's nothing like spreading the love :)

Anyway, the idea is to answer four questions and just share why and how you do your creative thing. 

journal page

Question 1: What are you working on at the moment?

I always have several journals on the go - my prayer and Bible study journal, that I don't share on this blog; an empty one that I am working on backgrounds in; a couple that have some background stuff in that I dip in and out of to put down my thoughts or quotes or whatever I'm working through. 

I also have some knitting, some classes on art journalling and prayer that I'm writing, and some ideas for jewellery going round in my head. 

Usually I would have a few more things on the go, but I've just moved house, so finished up several things beforehand. I like to sew, knit, crochet, make jewellery, bind my own journals, make cards, write stories for children and illustrate them.

a gelli-printed patchwork bedcover

Question 2: How does your work differ from others in your genre?

I'm not really sure that it does, necessarily, except in that each of us has our own unique style. I suppose what I really like to do is combine things. I've made paper beads, so why not make them with my own printed paper? I learned how to bind books, so why not write the story, illustrate it, and then bind the book? I suppose I like to get as close to the basic building blocks as possible. That's why I like to cook from basic ingredients; sew my own clothes and such, sometimes from fabric I've printed myself, such as the bedcover above; and make my own stencils and rubber stamps to journal with.

journal page

Question 3: Why do you create?

The simple answer is that I have to! If I haven't made something, in one way or another, for a couple of days, I can feel myself getting antsy :) My family even notices and push me into my studio with instructions to 'paint something!' My faith means that I believe that everyone is creative in some way, even if they haven't worked out exactly what that is yet. My creativity is something that helps me to process things, and as an introvert, to be energised. If I don't create, I start to wither.

gelli-printed rolled paper beads

Question 4: How does your creative process work?

This is a difficult one! With journal pages, what I generally do is start by putting down some colour without actually thinking too much about things. While my hands are busy my mind can chew things over. A bit more colour, some shapes, a little stamping. Then I might leave it for a bit until some words come to me - maybe a phrase or a quote or a single word. I'll use that as the 'title' and then add a few thoughts. Sometimes I find that a theme emerges over several spreads. God might be saying something to me and it takes a while for it to percolate through :)

journal page
At other times I might work through a book of prompts such as Journal Fodder 365, which I worked through in the last year doing one prompt per week. This can make me deliberately think about a particular subject rather than what just happens to be going through my head.

a prompt from Journal Fodder 365

gelli-printed leather hair clip
And now a shout-out to a few other people.

I came across Jessica Sporn's work on several challenge blogs. She has a distinctive style and I am blessed to have some of her work from where we were both involved in a circle journal/round robin project earlier this year. She teaches from her home studio in New Jersey and as a bucket-load of designs out there for stencils and the like. Jessica will be posting her answers to the questions above next Monday.

Also, check out Susan Carol's blog. She will also be posting next week, although Felicia Aaron asked her just before I did (sigh). Susan Carol explores her faith in her journal pages, sharing her thoughts and hopes and wrestling with faith. She has only been art journalling for a short while, but it has been great to watch her develop her own style and blossom on her blog.

For awesome lettering, hop on over to Mary Brack's blog. I love Mary's distinctive lettering style, her lists, and the love we seem to share of circles :)

For simple, heartfelt pages, check out Kathy at Paperpumpkin. Kathy can say such a lot with so few words. Love her pages.

Finally, I would like to say an enormous 'thank you' to everyone who reads this blog and takes the time to make comments. I don't acknowledge every comment - I'd rather spend my webtime looking at and commenting on your blog :) - but I appreciate every single one and endeavour to answer any questions you might ask. I would blog anyway, but your encouragement lifts my spirit.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Art Journal Journey

Somehow I missed last month's Art Journal Journey, and this month I'm just squeaking in at the last minute, what with the move and everything. But here it is, just in time - living beings.

The circles on this page set the words from the hymn going in my head - creator of the rolling spheres, ineffably sublime. Then my thoughts went to something I read about stars singing (they vibrate at a particular frequency that corresponds to musical notes), although they cannot be heard in the vacuum of space.

And hence this page, with its many living beings in the widest sense.

And to join in with Carolyn Dube's play date week, this page also has some spray paint play on it - the mauve circles at the top right and the yellow ones at the bottom right are made using both sides of a stencil. I sprayed the mauve ink through and then used the excess on the stencil to 'stamp' at the bottom.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Familiar… yet different

Well, we've done the first Sunday in our new church. It's always strange to attend a different church service. Each one has its own way of doing things. The liturgy may be the same, but the tune you sing it to is different.
Or things are done in a different order.
Or you sit and stand at different points.
Just little things that can make something that can become so familiar just a little off-kilter.
It's good to be reminded how strange it can all feel to visitors.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

One Little Word - Fear

If you haven't discovered the One Little Word monthly challenge yet, hop on over and join in the fun! Each month a word is chosen. This month's is fear. And did I mention that each month a random contributor is chosen to receive a prize? Last month I won!


Yes, the big one.

The thing that holds us back.

The feeling that paralyses.

How do we overcome?

How does courage overwhelm the fear?

Quite a few times the Lord has asked me to do something that has fear raising its ugly head and laughing in my face.

Did I do what I was asked?

Yes! Because I have to tell you that the thought of being disobedient has me feeling much worse than those butterflies. And no, it's not fear of God in that I'm frightened of Him. I am moved by love. The thought of missing out on an opportunity for growth, on a chance to make a difference in a way I cannot yet comprehend, is a fabulous motivator to kick fear in the teeth and go for it anyway.

And you know what? That feeling when I have not let fear get the better of me?

That feeling of perceptible growth?

Pure joy!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Giving thanks

So much to be thankful for! There are lots of little things that might not seem much to some people, but to me are small mercies and blessings.

For example, I am thankful that I no longer have to crawl around on my hands and knees to see what is in the back of the food cupboard because I have a pantry. My husband thinks it's extravagant to have a room 'just for food' - and maybe it is - but God is extravagant, and to me this room is a blessing.

I am thankful for a hob that has enough control to set things to a simmer rather than to a constant rolling boil.

I am thankful for a larger studio that means I can have play dates with others.

I am thankful for the high ceilings that make everything feel so spacious.

I am thankful for the lemon and mandarin trees in the garden.

I am thankful for the myriad blessings and mercies the Lord shows to me every day.

What are you thankful for today?

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Order out of Chaos

It seems pertinent that my first piece of art in my new studio should be about bringing order out of chaos after the mammoth task of emptying all the boxes (see my last post for the full horror of it).

This page just felt too dark. I tried to lighten it up by printing with cream acrylic on to the blue/grey background, but the arrows ending up pointing in so many different directions that it felt chaotic. I had the definite feeling of wrestling with the page, trying to bring some order to it. In the end, I gave in and let it say what it was saying.

Do you ever wrestle with your pages?

Friday, 12 September 2014

At last!

Finally, we have moved! This blog has been quiet this week because this is what my new studio looked like when all the boxes arrived on Wednesday. This photo is taken from the doorway and the room is about 15ft long (5m). Those boxes are four deep and that's a 3-door wardrobe in the back that needs to not be there.

And here it is about halfway through:

And finally:

My new studio! And it is a deliberate change for me to call it a studio. Before it has just been 'my room' or the 'art room'. I guess calling it a studio for me is like calling myself an artist. It changes how I view myself and what I do.

I'm looking forward to posting some new art very soon :)

Friday, 5 September 2014

Fun with a small gelli-plate

I've spent some time this week playing with a small gelli-plate, using it as a stamp, inspired by this post at Gelli-Arts. These are some backgrounds for my prayer and Bible study journal.

Using the plate as a stamp is fun. You can print through stencils and over masks, use the ghost prints, and also print with the paint left on the stencil.

Once I'd made the background below using the blues and greens, I used a baby-wipe to add yellow over the top to pull everything together.

I found that using stencils with small, repeating patterns worked best, but perhaps that's just my preference for geometric shapes :)

Wednesday, 3 September 2014


The theme for September over at Mix-it-Monthly is trees.

I've said it before, and will doubtless say it again - having the seasons turned around when you move into a new hemisphere really messes with your head! There is no mass drop of leaves in the autumn leading to the bare greenlessness of dark brown limbs reaching for the sky in winter. There is no sudden burst of new life with the greening of spring. The new-life symbols of Easter just aren't there as it now happens in the autumn. Christmas brings rising temperatures - the furthest from snow you can get.

So I'm having to learn new cues from the trees. The bottle-brushes are red with blooms and the May blossom is out, so it must be September. When the jacarandas are Dr. Seuss purple, it's November and Christmas is coming, even though the days are getting hotter and longer. If the lawn has suddenly gone from flat, brown, and crunchy to green and knee-height overnight, the first rains of autumn have fallen and it must be April. When there are crunchy leaves on the floor it's of no help whatsoever, as the plane trees seem to drop leaves all through the year depending on how extreme the temperature is!

The seasons may not be so baldly plain as they are in the UK, but I'm starting to see the subtle differences in the trees.