Sunday, 17 October 2021

A new project and some cards

I don't really need any more projects, but I have been increasingly drawn to junk journals and ephemera journals so decided on a bit of a whim to make a junk journal and tea-dye some copy paper.  This was the first time I had attempted such a thing and I got some interesting results.  The purply patterns came from the baking tray I used - it is an old one and the coating is starting to come away.  Where the paper touched the metal, these patterns emerged. 
I also got a range of colours, which I was pleased with.  The sound of the paper is rather nice too - all crinkly!  The junk journal will be an 'as and when' project - the fun will continue in making things to go in it - pockets, journal cards, tucks, bands etc.  Currently,  I would like some illustrations from some of my favourite books as a child - Alice in Wonderland, The Wind in the Willows, Winnie the Pooh, the Secret Garden, Beatrix Potter, but I have a feeling the journal will be a mix of all kinds of things I like - there won't necessarily be a theme as such.
I have also been making cards for various occasions - the one above was for my colleague at work who needed some happy mail.
This one was inspired by the season...
...and this was for my very clever nephew.
This happy sun was for a family friend who is 102 years old!
This Christmas card is winging its way across the sea to South Africa.  Sadly, it won't get there by Christmas - my last letter took four months to reach the recipient!

As well as cards, my art journal course, my watercolour journal and my junk journal, I  would like to do some sewing and have just got a very nice pinafore pattern which I am going to try out shortly.  So much to do - I love it!

Sunday, 10 October 2021

Autumn days and my thoughts on composting

It is a lovely October so far in this part of the country and I am trying to savour every minute that I can. Above is a 'Magical revolution' hydrangea, slowly taking on some autumnal shades.
This is the colour of the sky recently.
The perennial sunflowers are still going strong, but you can see how much more shade this area gets now.
The sunlight on the miscanthus flower heads is always so beautiful.
The asters are also still doing well - this is Symphotrichum Novae-angliae Mrs S T Wright (she will always be an Aster to me!).
More gorgeous miscanthus heads...
...and again.
In other news, I have emptied my compost bin and sieved the compost.  Those of you who are gardeners will no doubt be familiar with the whole compost making process and how to achieve the best results.  

I had a few bad years, because although I thought I understood the process, it needed some tweaking.  However,  I think it is now working well.   I have a plastic 'Dalek' shaped bin and you have to remove the whole bin to get at the compost.  I left it for two years, thinking all would be well, only to find it really wasn't. The compost had condensed into a solid mass  and there were no worms to be seen.  I emptied it out and started again, this time adding a layer of paper and egg boxes in between the kitchen scraps.  I also started to turn the heap a couple of times over the year.  Adding the paper layers and turning the compost have made the difference.  The resulting compost is now lovely and soft, crumbly with an earthy smell.

Having sieved the compost this time,  I shall refine my additions to the bin further.  While tea leaves rot down beautifully, tea bags don't.  Egg shells take a while too, but the pieces that are left in are small and will rot down and also provide some air.  Some compostable plastics take a long time to rot down.  I am not  adding citrus as the worms don't like it.  Potato peelings need to be added in small amounts as sometimes they have a habit of sprouting.  

It has been a real learning process but I am so happy with what nature and those clever worms have given me.  The compost will be added to peat free multipurpose compost for planting and potting on and as a mulch around some plants.  

Sunday, 3 October 2021

Wanderlust 2021 - weeks thirty-seven to forty - Haven

Wanderlust 2021 continue to inspire and I continue to enjoy the lesons each week, giving me a creative focus.  The theme was Haven - it turned out to include different kinds of havens, whether places or specisl items.  Week thirty-seven was about an outside space as a haven for me.  We had to sit in the outside space we had chosen and listen to the sounds around us, trying to transfer these into marks and colours.  These pieces were used as the collage in the background.  For the first time, I used leaves and flowers on the gel plate and was delighted by the prints I got.  A fern leaf, some hydrangea flowers and a japanese anemone flower all featured on this page.
Week thirty-eight was about special things around us which can inspire us or which we enjoyed using.  Mine included my paints (and I do love a colour swatch),  a chunky crayon, a paintbrush, a stencil, a fossil stone, my water jar and a foxglove I had been growing indoors before going out in the garden.
Week thirty-nine was all about home, or a place in which we felt secure.  This was all about the layers and stencilling, stamping and doodling.  It took a while to complete, as the layers had to dry.  I do like the end result though.
Week forty was about a mediterranean seascape viewed out of a window.  The teacher is based in Greece, hence all the beautiful blues.  I absolutely loved creating the collage papers and the seascape with a minimum of materials - acrylic paint, an old credit card/hotel card/membership card, a piece of cardboard for printing and a material for printing on the windowsill (I used bubble wrap).  Oh, and some scissors for cutting the shapes.  I think I may well do other versions of this in other colours - perhaps a more muted UK version?

On to the next theme - Movement.

Monday, 27 September 2021

I made a watercolour journal

I recently made myself a watercolour journal, following an online workshop with France Papillon.  The journal course information is here, if you are interested.   It has a nice material cover which is loose at the moment, but once the pages are complete, they can be added into the journal cover with an elastic cord.   This allows the pages to grow if other media is added to them. The pages are bound with a sort of coptic binding, so that they lie flat when you want to work on them.  I found the binding a bit tricky and it certainly isn't as tight as it should be, but for a first attempt, it's fine. 
I had a go at an abstract page with added doodling in black and white pen, inspired by a Youtube video (Nianiani) here.
This iris painting was one of the six I did for part of my art journal mixed media course (Wanderlust 2021)
Here is another of the six iris paintings. (This journal was a good place to put them).
(image from Amazon)
I would like to be more confident with watercolours, particularly loose, abstract images,  so bought this book to help me with that.  Although I don't necessarily subscribe to some of the author's ideas, I do like a lot of the lessons.
This is my first attempt at one of them - Ancient Song - using a poetry/ballad rhyming scheme (ABABBCBCAC plus D) and choosing colours to correspond to the letters.  The D was the addition of gold.  I really enjoyed this and will do it again with different colours. I will also use a fine liner pen to add the vertical lines, rather than the chunky pencil crayon I chose - I think it will look better with a more delicate line.  There are lots more really lovely lessons to try, so I will enjoy working my way through them. 

Sunday, 19 September 2021

Treasures in the garden

There is that feeling of autumn, particularly today as it is raining, but the garden has been so dry that it is good to get some rain.  There are a couple of little areas that I am particularly enjoying at the moment.  Above is my collection of cyclamen hederifolium, with their dainty pink flowers and marbled leaves.  Two of these I rescued as they had self seeded and started growing in cracks between the patio paving.  They would have been walked on, so I had to intervene and they have rewarded me by flowering. 
They are such little beauties, aren't they?  They are on the patio at the back, in a nice shady area.
In a complete contrast, here are some bigger treasures to enjoy.  Helianthus Lemon Queen (perennial sunflower) which is bringing a touch of sunshine despite the clouds.  It can be a bit invasive, but it has to compete with asters and a rose, so it is kept under control.  I think the rose is winning at the moment!
It has such bright and cheerful flowers.
They make me smile (and the insects really like them too).

Monday, 13 September 2021

Latest cards

My card making has continued and I like to take photos of the cards so that I can remember what I did and what worked.
I do like Clean and Simple cards and these are sometimes the most difficult to make successfully.  Inky fingers can be a big problem!
I have been using my dye inks/Distress inks a lot, both for backgrounds... 
more backgrounds...
..and for focal points.
There have been mainly birthday cards but the occasional anniversary one too.
Florals have been a go-to choice.
Whether die cuts are used...
...or just stamping.
Just some of my most recent cards - I am definitely improving and becoming more confident. I need to start on festive cards next, so that I am not rushing around at the last minute!

Sunday, 5 September 2021

Wanderlust 2021 - weeks thirty-three to thirty-six - Rainbows

The theme for these weeks was 'Rainbows'.  For week thirty-three, we chose a landscape photo that meant something to us and then looked at David Hockney's landscapes, noting his mark making and use of colour.  We then created our photo in that style, using contrasting and complementary colours.  My photo was one I took in the Lincolnshire Wolds.
Week thirty-four was more rainbow colour-inspired and was about colour and texture.  I used watercolour sparkle inks and had fun letting the inks drip down the page.  
Week thirty-five was an abstract flower painting, using a 'mother colour'.  This was a new concept to me, where you choose one colour to be the mother colour and then add a tiny bit of that colour to all the other colours you use, to create a harmonious colour palette.  My mother colour was that lovely teal blue/green.  
Week thirty-six involved going for a walk or into the garden and seeing what flowers there were.  I picked these two little posies from the garden for my page.
Lots of pink and purple, but a punch of orange and yellow too.  We then made a colour swatch of the colours we could see and made some ink and pencil sketches of parts of the flowers.
I really enjoyed this and spent a very happy couple of hours yesterday.

The next theme is 'Haven'.  I have already signed up for Wanderlust 2022 as I have really enjoyed this year's course and can honestly say it is one of the best things I have bought.  The course has a different structure next year, with the themes being over seven weeks and focusing on specific materials.  I am really looking forward to it but am pleased to say there are still more lessons to enjoy in this year's course. 

Saturday, 28 August 2021

More late summer blooms

There is a feeling of autumn just round the corner and the garden is responding.  Above is Japanese Anemone Bressingham Glow, which has proved to be really reliable over the years.
Clematis Heracleifolia New Love is also flowering nicely - it has a pleasant fragrance a bit like soap.
Hydrangea Paniculata Sundae Fraise is colouring up well - it reminds me of coconut ice.
This is a tri-coloured hibiscus - so far, just the pink is flowering.
Phlox is bringing a splash of colour to the bottom of the garden.  This one is planted in some not brilliant soil, but somehow manages to flower every year.
Another phlox, in a pot this time.
My favourite hibiscus, Oiseau Bleu, which features on here every year.  Such an exotic-looking flower. 
Finally for now, a Buddleia 'Wisteria Lane' which has long hanging flowers.  This is a couple of years old and has been planted in a big pot this year.  It has responded with some beautiful flowers.  The crocosmia Emily McKenzie is just starting to flower, so that will bring a punch of orange to the rather pastel proceedings.