Monday, 17 January 2022

Hello hellebores!

I have been cheered by some happy things in the garden, so though I would share them.  My snowdrops are only just starting to bud up, so more on them when there is more to see. In the meantime, here are two hellebores. Hello Ruby above, growing in a pot near to the back door.
This is Hello White Pearl, also in a pot.  I am really pleased to see them again and perhaps I would like a couple more...  They seem to be coping admirably with the frosts at night, so I am looking forward to seeing those flowers.  In other news, I received a new plant today, which I needed to buy to cheer myself up, after a pretty rubbish week at work last week (that's my excuse, anyway!)

Sunday, 9 January 2022

Stamp carving

I have always enjoyed lino print carving and have seen books and videos where people are carving their own stamps using pencil erasers.  I had a few old ones lying about, so decided to put them to good use.  The one I am showing here is double sided as it is quite thick.  Above is the stamp I carved from it together with a page in my Care December mini journal where I used it.  It wasn't designed as a repeating pattern necessarily, but I am really happy with how it turned out.
The other side of the stamp has a simple leaf pattern on it. I was inspired by a rubber stamp set I saw from Rubber Dance Stamps, who are based in Germany.  I have ordered some stamps from them before and they are good quality rubber stamps which stamp well. I carved my own leaf and then printed it with acrylic paint onto a book page, which I shall use for collage (just as Susanne (Susanne Rose Art) has done on her Youtube video here - she is the owner of Rubber Dance Stamps).

I would like to make more of these - they are really enjoyable to make and they are my creations, even if they are inspired by others.  I also have some lino and also some softer cutting material, so I could cut that up and make some more... 

Saturday, 1 January 2022

Happy New Year 2022

Jasminium Nudiflorum flowering in a photo I took this morning

Happy New Year!  Let us all hope that 2022 is a kinder year than the last two. As I usually do, I have aims during the year which I look back on at New Year. 

Read interesting books:  This has certainly continued and I have read lots of old favourites as well as some new ones.  Some which I particularly enjoyed were: Wintering by Katherine May, One Moment by Linda Green, The Beauty of Broken Things by Victoria Connelly, and The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H G Parry.  I also revisited my favourite Miss Marple stories and Jane Austen novels (of course!)

One of the pages from my Care December journal
Be Creative (using what I have):  this is also a big tick - my  mixed media art journalling course (Wanderlust 2021), the ICAD in June and July, making cards for all occasions, a swatch book, junk journal, Care December journal.  I have used lots of what I have but I have also purchased more things, so this is something I need to keep control of more effectively this year.  (However, if energy prices soar as they are predicted to do, I won't have much money to spend on my hobbies anyway!) I have sewing projects which I would like to complete too, so they are also on the 'to do' list.  My new Wanderlust 2022 course starts next week, so I am looking forward to that.

Get rid of (or donate) things I no longer want or need: I have talked about this for a long time without really addressing it.  Having watched several TV programmes about sorting your life out, I have finally realised that this won't happen magically and that I need to get stuck in and make those decisions myself.  I made a start before Christmas by donating some of my books but this needs to continue.  Once the books are done, there are many, many more possessions which need to be assessed.  However, I feel encouraged that I have finally made a  proper start.

Another Care December journal page

Take more notice of nature: Being at home more has made me appreciate my little garden so much. I am grateful for this space outside and I need to rearrange some pots of hydrangeas which have outgrown their space.  I may have one more rose in mind ('Emily Bronte') but no more large things.  I am planning to grow verbena bonariensis in pots and some cerinthe.  I need to do some re-potting and dividing, so have lots to keep me busy. Oh, and the compost bin wants turning too.  However, amongst all this, I plan to look more, to sit and appreciate more.

I need to remember to be present in the moment and crafting and gardening do help with that.   Also, I need to be grateful for what I have.  Good things to remember in the coming year.  

Friday, 24 December 2021

Merry Christmas

A watercolour I did as part of a Care December daily journalling course

As has become my Christmas tradition, I quote from one of my favourite Christmas carols, "It came upon the midnight clear", written by Edmund Sears in 1849.

"Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long
Beneath the angel-strain has rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not 
The love song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing."

To end on a positive, I again quote from Desiderata (a 1927 prose poem by Max Ehrmann):

"...And whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.  With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.  Be cheerful, Strive to be happy."

To all my readers and commenters who celebrate, may you have a happy festive season.

Wednesday, 22 December 2021

Christmas baking

Traditional Christmas food is not something I enjoy. I am a vegetarian, so no turkey.  I don't like dried fruit so no Mince pies, no Christmas pudding, no Christmas cake.  
However, I don't miss out!  Christmas dinner for us will be Linda McCartney Rosemary and red onion sausages, loads of yummy veg and then chocolate pudding with chocolate sauce. 
I did some baking ready for Christmas and the following week and made Grantham Gingerbreads (above).  These are a sweet gingery biscuit which are slightly risen with hollow areas inside.  They are traditionally from Grantham, (a town around twenty minutes away from us) and date from 1740, made by the baker, William Egglestone.  Mum has an old family recipe for them, but there are lots of recipes available and a company in Grantham has recently starting making them again.
I also made some shortbread, just butter, sugar and flour and I really like these biscuits with a cup of tea.  (I am trying to reduce the amount of palm oil we eat, so am now making my own biscuits every week.) Biscuits made, tick!

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

Wanderlust 2021 - weeks forty-five to fifty - Fables and Round up

 Wanderlust 2021, the mixed media art journal course, has come to an end. I have really enjoyed it and have learnt a lot.  It has been a challenge, but one that I have thrown myself into and done the best I could. I now have a lovely full journal to look back on.  I have signed up to Wanderlust 2022, so my journey will continue.

The final theme was fables, where animals illustrate a moral or a story. This page illustrates my own artistic journey, anticlockwise, from the top left:  a little kitten failing my A levels, retaking them and passing at evening classes, then twenty years later, going to do a Foundation in Art and Design course (with a photos of my felt behind the owl) and finally the tiger, more confident and ready for challenges.
The next week was about choosing an animal to illustrate and I chose a hare.  I have improved in my watercolouring and remembered the tips I had picked up from a previous watercolour class - leave white space, start with mid tones and don't be afraid of dark shadows.  Also, 'don't colour it all in, it's not a colouring book!'  I was really pleased with the end result.
The next fable theme was about creating a character (the example was a wolf in sheep's clothing)and using a phrase.  I chose the golden goose which is about being thankful for what you have.  While creating this page, I thought about the last line in the film 'Now, Voyager' so used that as my quote. "...Don't let's ask for the moon, we have the stars".
Week forty-eight was illustrating a fable which the teacher had created about an antelope called Tall Boy. He has managed to evade the hunters so far.  
Week forty-nine was a word for next year. I loved creating this collage and went for rich, luscious colours.  As you can see, I am hoping to continue to grow, in confidence, in my skills and in my knowledge.
Week fifty was a round up and creating the journal covers.  As I had deconstructed my journal, due to the spine binding breaking, I have four covers to make.   
These were collaged bits and pieces, including lace and die cuts, words and marks.  The little cover has the phrase 'a library full of treasures', which I thought was very appropriate.
On to Wanderlust 2022!

Wednesday, 8 December 2021

Junk Journal progress

 I have recently decided to have a go at making a junk journal with pockets, tabs, tucks etc. and interesting things to look at.  I am not sure whether I shall use it to journal in, but it will be a nice project that I can work on as and when I feel I want to. I have been working on a few pages and here they are.

Here is a pocket containing a card...
...and here's the card.
Another pocket with images from a magazine...
...and another pocket with bits of collage all over it.
This pocket contains a little book with Beatrix Potter illustrations in it.
Another large pocket waiting for me to make something to go in it.

This 'Alice' flip out was made from a junk mail window envelope.

Inside is Alice in a couple of different illustrations.

They are a mix of scrapbook paper, book pages, scraps, gel plate prints, images from books and the internet, digi kits, and any other bits and pieces I want to put in.  I am really enjoying the relaxing collaging and this will be an ongoing project, which I may share more from occasionally.

Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Colour swatching

Colour swatching is one of my favourites things to do when I have got new paints/inks/crayons.  Previously, I put these into my techniques book but have recently decided to make a swatch book separately from anything else.  The pages of colour are just so satisfying to look at and make a very helpful directory so that I can see what I have and choose what I need to use for a project.  So far, I have done gouache paints,  sparkle inks, inktense pencils (my new favourite watercolour pencils), Woodys and Neo Colours. 

Lovely rainbows of colour...

These make me happy - so bright and colourful.  I still have dye inks, oxides, pigment inks, stickles, pixie powders and more watercolour pencils to do.  I can probably find other supplies that I need to make swatches for...

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Late Autumn in the garden

It has certainly turned more wintry this week and we have had a couple of frosts. The garden has reacted accordingly, with leaves falling quickly.  I took these photos last weekend, before it all changed. Above shows one of  the miscanthus grasses which changed to a buttery yellow.
The blueberries are taking on their fiery Autumn colours.
They are such good value plants.
Lysimachia Clethroides is also showing changes of leaf colour.
These little cyclamen in the shady corner bring me joy with their beautifully patterned silver and green leaves.
My Fatsia Japonica is trying to flower.  This flower is just starting to open...
..this one is much further along.
A bright splash of orange/red is provided by the pyracantha berries.
One of my little ginkgos has buttery yellow leaves now too.  I have put a standard ginkgo on my 'one day' wish list - they are such beautiful (and ancient) trees. I am trying to have something of interest in the garden every month of the year and I am slowly getting there...

Tuesday, 16 November 2021

Tulips for 2022

I have finally started planting my tulips for next Spring.  I have gone for Brown Sugar (pictured above from this year)...
...Ronaldo (again pictured from this year)...
Ballerina (on the left, pictured from a couple of years ago, with Brown Sugar,  in the border)...
Beautiful blowsy Danceline (photo from a couple of years ago)...
...and just because I can, another photo of Ronaldo and Ballerina together (photo from a while ago). I do love the combination of orange and purple for tulips.
These are favourites and have proved to be a good buy as they have all come back once planted in the borders.  I also have some from last year which I need to plant in the borders, somewhere.  The borders are pretty full, so that may be a challenge!

I have also bought some double orange 'Sunlover' tulips, which I haven't grown before, for a couple of pots at the front and they need to be planted too - hopefully this week!

Saturday, 6 November 2021

November - the seasons turn

The temperatures have gone down a bit this week (although surprisingly, have gone up a bit this weekend) and the autumn colours are starting to glow.  However, there are still some plants bravely hanging on. Above is the 'old velvet' colours of the hydrangea flowers.
The standard cherry Kojo-no-mai is showing fiery shades... are the blueberries.
Salvia Nachtvlinder is still in bloom, with its deep purple flowers.
Rose Kew Gardens is also still putting out the odd flower.
Fuchsia Thamar is the only fuchsia I have now - the others got rust and I got rid of them.
Liriope Muscari is such a reliable plant for me.  I really need to divide the poor thing and give it a bit more space.
Hydrangeas are still flowering at the bottom end of the garden.
I like the mix of the bright white flower against the earlier flowers which have turned green
The Magnolia is now losing its leaves - and that is a proper November sky.
There are still some autumn fruiting raspberries ( I ate this one straight after taking this photo).
Lysimachia Clethroides in the front, starting to go yellow, with the cherry behind.  I need to start on the pot insulation I think.  We have had one frost so far and there will certainly be more to come.