Tuesday 26 January 2021

Wanderlust 2021 - the first four weeks - Reflections

I am well into my mixed media art journaling course and am loving it, even when it is a real challenge.  I will post about it once a month, as the course is split into monthly sections, each with a theme.
The theme was Reflection.  For week one, it was to think about a positive feeling from last year.  I chose 'being calm when surrounded by nature'.  The photo is one from a magazine and  I have had it for years so it was nice to be able to use it..  I chose greens and blues to to give a feeling of nature.
Week two was so much fun.  The title of this week was 'A Garden of Wishes' and the start of this page was journaling about things we are grateful for.  These would then get covered up with many layers.  Collage, acrylic paint, alcohol inks, watercolour crayons  and gesso were some of the media used.  It took several days to complete this page as layers had to dry, but the end result is so colourful.
Week three was the biggest challenge for me.   I don't enjoy drawing or painting people at all.  This week we had to think about something we wanted more of in the coming year.  We had to paint a self-portrait and then use the colours we'd mixed for that on the surrounding page. These were not colours I would normally choose.  I am proud that I completed this, but won't be rushing to do any more portraiture!
Week four was much more up my street.  Paper bags were used as the background, then gesso and watercolour, which was then bleached out using salt, to create some really lovely patterns.  We painted a dandelion head on one side and added collage and words.  Under the right hand page is a list of things I am looking forward to in 2021.  I also got to use glitter and sequins on this page too.
The theme for the next month is Ephemera, which I am really looking forward to.  I am so pleased I signed up for this course, as it is giving me a great focus and as the classes are shared on a Friday, it is something to look forward to each week.

Thursday 21 January 2021

A little promise of Spring

With the onset of storm Christoph, flexing his muscles and causing flooding in some parts of the UK and snow in others, I was in need of some optimism and I found it in the garden.  Above are some iris reticulata which I bought last year and didn't get round to planting out.  I have not been successful with getting these plants to flower for a second year, but I am hopeful that these may do just that.
Snowdrops I bought last year and again didn't plant out (there is a pattern developing here...) almost opening.
These are planted out in the borders, but need a bit more sun to open fully. 
A solitary flower on camellia Yoimachi which hasn't been as floriferous this year as it was last year.  It may need re-potting.
Camassias starting to grow - they have enjoyed all the rain.
The first flower on hellebore 'Hello Ruby' which I am going to pot on in Spring.
I liked the silvery leaves of these cyclamen, which are brightening up a dark corner.
The markings are beautiful.
As are the miscanthus flower heads, giving movement and elegance as they fade.
Finally, the award for the most tenacious plant this winter goes to Nemesia Confetti.  This is a cutting I took in the summer and has continued to flower ever since.  It only has two flowers left, but what a star!  The garden certainly lifted my spirits today.

Saturday 16 January 2021

Latest card makes

These are a few cards I made last year and one from this year.  Above is one I made for my sister's birthday.  It is a Woodware stamp designed by Jane Gill and I really like her designs.  I have amassed quite a collection!
This was for my good friend Alison's birthday, using Sizzix dies (my latest favourite!)
I use this 'happy' die a lot.  I like the font and the way the letters aren't straight.
Here's the 'happy' die again, taking centre stage this time.
The card was for my other sister and I gold embossed the flowers stamp and watercoloured the flowers, which was a lovely relaxing activity.
I added a few butterfly stamps to the back as well.
A card for my sister-in-law, using gilding flakes, sizzix leaf dies and an embossing folder to make the background.
Another embossing folder background with a leaf cut out of gold card and coloured with alcohol inks.
This panel was the second I made using the flower stamp and watercolouring the flowers. I haven't sent this one to anyone yet.
This one was using sizzix leaf dies and I coloured the panel behind.  This card was for a colleague at work who likes bright colours.
She also likes cats...my favourite stamp sets of the moment - Tim Holtz's 'Snarky Cats'. (I have got the Snarky Cats, Snarky Cats Hallowe'en and Snarky Cats Christmas. They appear quite often in my cards!)
Even the back of her card was given a Snarky Cat!
A new stencil enabled me to have a play with inks, for a birthday card for Chris.
A Snarky Cat appeared on the inside too...

...and on the back.  I added the little party hat from another stamp set.
Finally, here is my most recent card, for a friend's birthday last week.  Although the photo doesn't pick it up very well,  the pink panel is all glittery.  She loves pink, so I hope she liked it!

In other news. my art journaling/mixed media course is going well and I am really enjoying it.   I will share the first four pieces I have made in a future post. 

Saturday 9 January 2021

Books to be read

I mentioned in my previous post that I had a pile of books to read and these would be the ones to start with this year.  In fact, I have many, many more books than this, waiting to be read, but these are the chosen few at the moment (until something else distracts me...)  I am pleased to announce that I have read the first one, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd since Christmas. So, in case you can't see what they are, we have from the top:
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (it is always interesting to see how much a dramatisation of an Agatha Christie story changes from the book - this one did).
The second book is a craft book I received for Christmas, Mandalas to embroider and initially, I was a little dubious when I opened it as I have not done that much embroidery and don't really like too many complicated stitches.  However, on looking at the book, the mandala patterns are pretty and straightforward, with only a few different stitches needed, so I think, on reflection, this book will suit me very well. I look forward to having a go at some of these.
The next is a book I had had for years, but never read, so 2021 is its time!  A History of English Food by Clarissa Dickson Wright.  I am interested in social history, which is probably why I bought it in the first place.
The Diary of a Modern Country Gardener is a book I am in the middle of enjoying, but I kept getting distracted by other things and so it kept getting put down.  I will finish it!
Written in bone is the second book by Sue Black and I really enjoyed her first book.  I did an online course in Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology last year, which was a bit over my head at times, but was very interesting.  If nothing else, the course gave me a new respect for what these people do, which is incredibly complex.
The Well Gardened Mind is another book I have started, but then put down. It deserves my concentration and I will read it this year.  I bought a copy as a present for a colleague at Christmas so it will be interesting to compare notes when we have both read it.  Gardening is a wonderful hobby and its effect on mental health cannot be underestimated.
So, there are my first few books for this year. No doubt there will be many more to come...

Friday 1 January 2021

Happy New Year 2021

(Big Ben at midnight off the TV)
 Well, after the year we have all had, it is good to welcome a new one and hopefully, a better one. Photos below are from the frosty garden yesterday morning.

As has become a tradition for me with the first post of the new year, I will review my aims for last year and think about ones for this year.

Read interesting books 

 I have continued this but haven't read so many books this year.  I think this is partly because I have been working from home and haven't used my lunch hours for reading, which I do when I am at work.  Some of the highlights have been: 'All that remains: a life in death' by Sue Black; 'Fifty Fifty' by Steven Cavanagh; 'The Thursday Murder Club' by Richard Osman; 'The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry' and 'The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy' by Rachel Joyce and re-reading some old friends such as Miss Marple.  I have a stack of books I really need to sit down and read, so they will be my first aim.

Be Creative (using what I have) 

 I have continued my creative journey into art journaling and mixed media and successfully completed my ATC challenge.  I have also signed up to a year long art journaling mixed media course which starts now.  I have bought new stamps and dies, which I just had to have, but have now realised that I don't have the storage for any more, so from now on, it needs to be 'one in, one out'.  I really don't need any more, but no doubt will see something I just have to get...  

I haven't done much sewing this year (except for face masks) and still need to make those two pinafore dresses.  I also haven't yet attempted sewing with stretch fabric, so that would be a good aim too.

Get rid of or donate things I do not want or need 

I did get rid of a few bits and pieces to charity shops when they were open during the year, but I have a long way to go.  I do have too much stuff and could do with emptying everything out of a room and then only putting back what I actually want, but unfortunately, there isn't the space for that.  I must try to make more of a concerted effort on this one over the next year.

Take more notice of nature

Like many people this year, I have been so grateful for my little garden. Sitting out there has given me much pleasure.  I love gardening, so am attuned to the changing seasons but I need to be much more aware of nature and its joys and not take them for granted.  I bought a few new plants last year and will enjoy seeing them grow and flourish.  I have a few more in mind for 2021, but need to remember my lack of space in the garden too.  I also need to give some established plants more TLC and repot a few.

There we are.  Lots of good things from last year, a few not managed, but there's always this year to try again.  I hope that 2021 will prove to be an encouraging and hopeful year for us all.