Friday 25 December 2020

Merry Christmas 2020

 Merry Christmas to all blog readers and commenters (who celebrate this festive season).

(One of our rather quirky angel decorations)

As has become my Christmas tradition, I quote from on 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 have 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."

Stay safe and here's to a better 2021.

Sunday 20 December 2020

December in the garden

So far, December has been pretty wet, mild and dull, although we have had a few sunny days.  One of these was yesterday, so I headed into the garden with my camera.  Above is a new winter flowering hellebore called Winter Princess 'Victoria'.   I found her at B&Q - a DIY store - and was intrigued that the label said she would flower through December.  I have several hellebores in the garden, but these are all late Winter/early Spring flowerers.  I can report that she has been in flower since we bought her, in November, I think.
This nemesia 'Confetti' is also still going and this was one of the cuttings I took in the summer, which were my first ever successful cuttings.  
Irises in pots and snowdrops are starting to grow.
Camellia buds are plumping up.
A self-seeded primula is flowering on the patio.  I haven't had any coloured primulas for years so am not sure where this one has come from.  Perhaps it has just been waiting for the right time.
One of my autumn fruiting raspberries is still fruiting too and I ate a raspberry as I wandered round the garden. It still tasted fine.
My small winter flowering jasmine is flowering, but that is more to be expected at this time of year.  It is still a young plant, but is brightening up this part of the border.
Camellia Yoimachi has flowered once this winter, but there are more buds.
This is hydrangeas 'The Bride' which has one flower still looking good.
Snowdrops in a tub.
Camassia starting to grow - I think this is much too early, but they have been enjoying the rain.
Snowdrops in the border.
Another hydrangea, giving really good value for money is Coco - lovely white flowers in summer and then a range of colours as the flowers fade.
More Coco...
...and again.
Winter flowering honeysuckle is in flower and on a sunny day, the scent is lily of the valley.  Again, this is flowering quite early for me - it is usually in January or February.
Small, insignificant flowers, but the scent is wonderful!
To finish, here is a flower from the new hellebore - Victoria.  She is giving me a lot of pleasure, as are all the featured plants.  

Sunday 13 December 2020

Advent Calendar Journal

I have been busy taking part in a free online course by the organiser of Wanderlust 2021, Kasia Avery.  Although it is described as an Advent Calendar, it doesn't really have anything to do with Christmas but is more about making a piece of art everyday for fourteen days.  There are prompts and there is also a video each day.  The first prompt was 'Wasting Time' and you can see my page above.

The next page I am sharing was 'Art is Freedom' where we had to choose a piece of art and then create something inspired by it.  I chose the 'Wilton Diptych' - images are from the National Gallery website.  I have seen this in the National Gallery and have always been struck by the colour.
Here's my piece, based on it - patterned gold which is in the background, the blue, roses which are in the angels' hair and a sort of feather pattern.
This prompt was 'Don't complain' - where we had to think about something we have found out this this year.  Having taken part in another course, I was encouraged to think of myself as an artist - someone who creates art - so I thought I should do something based on this.  The image is a gel press print, using soft pastels and a stencil.
Here is 'Bring some colour' where we had to have one colour we liked and then create different colour palettes around it.  The top one is the colours I would naturally be drawn to. I used a colour wheel to help me find split complementaries and triad colours.  
These are colours I would not naturally put together, so some experimentation is needed now, I think.  The course is certainly giving me some challenges.

Tuesday 1 December 2020

Artists' Trading Card (ATC) - December

Here is the final ATC in my monthly project.  I am sad to have finished this project as it has been really enjoyable, but I have my year long mixed media course to look forward to and that starts in January 2021.  I used paint and stencils to give the tree branch effect and then added clear texture paste with glitter added to give the effect of sleet.  I think it has a suitably wintry feel.
The back shows a Christmas star and some presents, to echo the verse, "Chill December brings the sleet, Blazing fire and Christmas treat".  I think after the year we have all been through, a Christmas treat will be very welcome.
The gemstones also echo the wintry tones, with rutile quartz, white moonstone, rainbow moonstone, amazonite, sky blue apatite, tanzanite (also a birthstone for December) and black snowflake obsidian.  The charm is a piece of turquoise.
Here is a photo of all the cards together - not the best quality photo, but you can just about see them all.
Here's the backs of the cards.  It was a lovely project to do and I now have a set of decorations for my seasonal tree which I shall use every year, with great pleasure.
Edited to add:
Amanda asked whether I will display the ATCs and so, for her and any other interested parties, here is how they are displayed.
Here is my seasonal tree with its winter decorations, with the December ATC in the middle.  The tree will get Christmas decorations on it briefly, but will then return to winter.  

Thursday 26 November 2020

Exploring Mixed Media - Small Abstract Landscapes

Following on from my inspiration book, the second workshop by Laly Mille was about using the inspiration book and creating four small abstract landscape collages.  We were shown the process step by step and I took lots of notes so that I could remember what to do!  I cut the watercolour paper and backed it on cardboard to make the pieces easier to work with and then stalled.  
However, I decided one afternoon that I needed to get on with them.  I drew in the horizon line with a watersoluble black crayon and then smudged it with some matt medium. I began by making four bundles of collage pieces - the same one for each picture.  These were then stuck down on the four pieces and I was off!  I tried to make different shapes with the pieces. Once the collage pieces were in place, I had a cup of tea and a break. 
The collage pieces were a mix of paper scraps, tissue paper, printed papers and  gel press prints.  Once theses were dry, I could begin adding colour and texture.  I used texture paste, acrylic paint, white gesso and watercolour crayons.  
The finished pieces are more blue than the teal I had envisaged, but I used my inspiration pages to find contrasting colours and darker colours and I like the colour mixes.  I think I like the one on the bottom right best as it reminds me of standing stones, although they could also represent trees!  I haven't done anything like this before and I really enjoyed the whole process, once I actually got going. 
The third workshop was creating a mixed media canvas.  I haven't done this yet - I am thinking about it a lot though...

Saturday 21 November 2020

Exploring Mixed Media - Inspiration

I recently took part in an online mixed media art workshop with Laly Mille.  I really like her mixed media work and this was an opportunity not to be missed.  It was a free course to celebrate her ten years as a mixed media artist. 

 The first thing we needed to do was to create inspiration pages in a book - either a sketchbook or journal.  The pages could be filled with images from magazines, colour, our own pieces of art work, images that we liked and which appealed to us in some way.  My pages came together really quickly and I was surprised at the amount of images I found with a similar theme - in this case, colour.  I raided my scraps box and also my gel print stash.  

I knew there were certain colours I was drawn to, but hadn't realised how many things I had which were these colours, collected without thinking about this. Above is the teal/blue page . These colours have been a favourite of mine for many years.

The next page was all about the rich jewel colours - pinks and purples.  Again, another favourite but also a surprise at just how many images and pieces of gel prints and papers that I had already got in these colours.
The third page was one I was more concerned about - neutrals.  I am not really a 'beige' person and have no clothes in these tones.  However, again I was surprised to find lots of images with these colours, beige, grey, cream and some light purple, which appealed to me and which I had kept, thinking they would come in handy.  The owl feather was sent to Chris from someone in America, as part of

So far, just three double pages, but they were so enjoyable to put together.  

The next part of the workshop moved on to using the inspiration pages and finding small bundles of collage to add to four small pieces of art work.  More to follow... 

Saturday 14 November 2020

Autumn leaves - real ones this time

The garden has changed a lot over the last couple of weeks, with the wind and rain.  Autumn colours are coming and going.

Clematis Wyevale has suddenly lost all the colour in its leaves.
Hydrangea Merveille Sanguine is putting on a lovely show.
The blueberries are looking wonderful. but it won't be long before their leaves fall.
A joyful celebration of autumn colours.
The lilac and magnolia leaves are carpeting the path.
The hydrangea at the bottom of the garden is providing lots of interest.
The miscanthus in the border is slowly turning golden.  Colours in the garden have changed more since I took these photos, but I am enjoying the display.

Saturday 7 November 2020

More autumn leaves - made from paper and cardboard

I recently bought a new Sizzix Bigz dies called Tattered Leaves.  I noticed that my seasonal tree was looking a bit sparse, so  decided some extra mixed media leaves would be just the thing.  I cut them out of greyboard which was recycled from a posting envelope.  I decorated them with book pages, kraft card, inking around the edges with red or orange pigment ink and a bit of gold gilding polish for a touch of richness.  On one, (top right in the photo), I covered kraft card with gilding flakes. 
I used a leaf vein embossing folder to give the backs some interest and the inking and gilding wax too.  I am really pleased with how they turned out and they have livened up the seasonal tree.
They go well with the felt leaves I made, using my own felt, a few years ago.  You can also see the November ATC in the middle of the tree. 

Sunday 1 November 2020

Artists' Trading Card (ATC) - November

Here is the penultimate card in my monthly ATC project.  It is again a little more literal, with a simple stencilled background to suggest the breezes and tumbling leaves.  The gemstones I have chosen also reflect the more muted colours of autumn, with oranges and browns.  They are red agate, golden rutile quartz, Tiger's eye, grey moonstone, black rutile quartz (x3) and smoky quartz.  The gemstone of the month is topaz or citrine and I have gone for citrine.
I stamped the leaves, painted them with gouache then cut them out, stuck them on and applied glossy accents to give them a shine (you can just about see it shining on the leaf on the left).
 The back reflects the front, with stencilled leaves this time.  One more left to do and the project is finished.

I am entering this in the Country View Crafts Challenge - 'Anything but a card' - wish me luck!