An update

So when I started the day of what?! I had assumed that I would be feeling a lot better and I’m not… which is making it all a lot less fun that it should be… So, as you may have noticed, I’m mostly stopping it.  There are some days which I think are too important to go unmarked so there will still be some posts.  Hopefully I will return to this project in the future.

I am managing to do some very carefully paced art and writing though!  I am still doing a bit of dyeing but horrific brain fog and nearly burning my flat down means I have to have supervision to do it… The following are mostly works in progress, some almost finished:

bear claw wip wip

Left: Bear Claw.  Right: Ammonite

goat spine wip

Goat spine

lungs in progress

Human lungs

moorlands in progress

Moorlands nature reserve

scarborough in progress

Scarborough north bay

skull wip

Bird Skull

Trees: autumn 

My autumn project for my year long study of trees was inevitably going to involve leaves!

I collected a range of leaves and preserved them in glycerin. I then used them to create a collage type thing along with lace, fabric, old book papers etc.  The effect on the corregated card in the background was made by mixing paint with some Golden Clear Tar Gel and dripping over it.  It’s hard to photograph by the drips are sort of draped across the bumps and add some great texture.

I’m part way through my winter trees project and then January sees the start of my year long look at the caterpillar to butterfly process!  I’ve already started collecting bits and pieces and have a few ideas!

Does anyone else focus on a particular theme for a year?

Converge mixed media course 

Over the last six weeks I’ve been taking part in a mixed media course with Converge.  If you’re in York and have mental health issues and enjoy creative activities, definetely have a look at what they offer.  Their courses are free, relaxed and they have a wide range from creative writing to film making to drawing.

The course looked at a different medium each week, starting with mark making and pencils:

Then inks which I loved.  We started by watching a video of under the sea and painting whatever we saw as a way of getting used to the inks and how they work.

Then adding a second colour for a more planned piece of work:

I missed week three due to illness but it was drawing people using graphite which I know wouldn’t have played to my strengths.

Then collage which I love!  Normally my collages are really busy so I used this opportunity to get advice from our teacher about more minimalistic approaches.

Annoyingly I didn’t take a picture of my work for week 5… It was a free for all so we could do anything we’d covered so far.  I chose collage and created a head with thinky words on and a hand with creating words on.  They’re mounted on a black piece of paper.

And the final week we went back to inks (yay!).  This time we flicked through magazines for ideas and I painted a sea urchin:

I’ve really enjoyed doing an in person art class and love that it’s relaxed and friendly.  There’s no pressure to create a masterpiece and it’s ok if I need to stop and rest my hands for a while.  Everyone has produced some great pieces and they’re so different which I love seeing.

Next week, we start the advanced course!

Collaged Oracle Cards

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Collaged card

A few months back I started making some little collages on a set of sample playing cards I had.  I really enjoyed working on them and eventually had 55 little individual collages.  They are wonderfully textural and I have collaged the backs in neutral-ish colours.  Each card had a word or phrase on and I decided I’d like to use them as oracle cards part way through creating them.  However, because they are wonderfully textural, they are very tricky to handle and shuffle…!

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Selection of collaged cards
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More collaged cards

So I, with help from my carer, scanned each front and back in, edited them and sent them off to get printed.  Because this hadn’t been my original plan, they weren’t all set up great for this – you have to leave a printer margin and some of my words were very very close to the edge so some of them have white edges.  Also my scanner was a bit patchy so that affects the quality a bit as well.

Printed cards
See the white edges?
Backs of the cards

However, despite that, I love them!  And as I use them, generally alongside tarot cards, I find myself seeing new things in them and discovering more meanings.

Mixed media prayer flags

I’ve ended up falling behind on wanderlust which is disappointing.  I think it was because the watercolour section coincided with my nasty tramadol withdrawal.  I don’t find watercolours very good for my hands – you tend to have to do a lot of mixing and obviously you don’t get much colour for your effort which means more hand use.  I do however have a new love affair with ecolines which some people argue are watercolours, other people insist they’re inks.  Either way, beautiful products, lots of colour for your effort.

Anyway, one of the weeks I’ve just caught up on was about using watercolours to make mixed media (non traditional) prayer flags.

This caught my attention and, being in a bit of a creative slump, I quickly got onto it and although I’ve not used watercolours (except for dipping fabric in my ecolines, great tip from wanderlust) I have managed to make three flags.  The idea is that you then hang them outside and let the weather alter them.  But I only have a yard and my neighbours (not nice people) use it far more than me (I don’t use it because they do… can’t wait till they move…) so my flags are going to be indoor flags…

Traditionally, a prayer flag is a rectangle of coloured fabric with words and images on.  They are often found hung in the mountains in Tibet and are traditionally used to promote peace, compassion, strength and wisdom.  According to wikipedia:

The flags do not carry prayers to gods, which is a common misconception; rather, the Tibetans believe the prayers and mantras will be blown by the wind to spread the good will and compassion into all pervading space.

Our lesson asked us to choose some words to focus on and inscribe on our flags.  I choose three words which are coming up a lot for me this year; intention, awareness and synchronicity (which I keep spelling wrong and true to form, spelt wrong on my flag… a lesson there in accepting things we cannot change I guess!).

To make my flags I used squares of cardboard (amazon packaging to be precise) for the base and have used old book paper, fabric and trimming dipped in ecoline and inks, buttons, washi tape, dress patterns etc.  I’m quite pleased with how they’ve turned out, spelling mistake and all.  I’m not sure even if I had the option, I’d put them outside…

Mediums

Before wanderlust I didn’t really know anything about mediums other than online crafty people used this thing called gel medium in much the same way that I’ve always used pva glue… I’ve been using gesso for about eighteen months now but that is the extent of it.

Now, I’m only just starting to realise how much there is that I don’t know about them.  we had a lesson about some of the main types of mediums, including why we might use one over another and a second lesson where Kasia took us through the process of creating a piece using different mediums.  Both have really helped me get a better understanding. There’s lots of info out there (which I’d never bothered looking at before) so this isn’t going to be a post about the why’s, how’s and what’s of mediums.

Realising there are so many different types and not knowing which ones to start with, I treated myself to a golden starter kit which helpfully came with a wanderlust discount. It contains:

Extra heavy gel (matte)
Regular gel (semi-gloss)
Soft gel (gloss)
Light molding paste
Coarse pumice gel
Clear tar gel

My starting point was to grab a piece of card and add a bit of each, playing with creating textures, peaks etc and then seeing how it look and held its shape once it was dry – a lot of the mediums dry clear and its obviously useful to know which before you slap it onto your art. Once dry I played with adding a layer of paint and seeing how that went on.  alongside this I also mixed each medium with a bit of paint to compare the results. I’m obviously picking things up from wanderlust because this kind of experimenting and testing and comparing is not something I’ve ever done before!  Normally I just start using things and learn as I go along.

I then got started with my project for this week – creating a mixed media landscape including different mediums.  As I got working I realised that as well as the different effects you get by applying paint with and over mediums, you also get a different effect by putting the medium over the paint. And it’s good to know which dry opaque in this case!

I don’t think photos will ever do this justice because of the importance of texture but left to right we have paint with heavy gel on top, paint mixed with heavy gel and heavy gel with paint on top. Top to bottom we have dylusions turquoise, dylusions crushed grape and white opaque ink. Chosen mostly because they were what I saw first on my art table. I’d be interested to have a play with other things such as gelatos, chalk pastels and paint pens.

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On the right, where colour is over medium, you get more obvious shadows where the nooks don’t get paint cover or in the case of the ink, it pools into the nooks. The middle, where medium and colour are mixed, offers a more solid cover. On the left, medium over paint, you get a mix of texture, that of the paint and that of the medium. The medium has the effect of pushing the paint backwards in the image.

Conclusions

If you like working with texture and haven’t seen dabbled in mediums, try a taster set like the golden one so you can compare different ones, find your favourite and learn what works well for different things.  And whilst I’m normally all for jumping in and just giving it a go, I think there’s value in doing some comparison first – you can always cut it up and use it in your piece later.

Print swap with dianne tanner

I recently took part in a print swap organised by dianne tanner. You get given a person to send your art to and someone else sends you art.

Mine was sent off and hopefully received long enough ago that I’m going to share it here.

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Along with a little handmade book and one of my greetings cards of York Minster.

This week I received my art which was from the lovely dianne herself!! She sent a couple of prints, a notebook and postcard – look at the dinos!!!  If you like her photography, you really should check out her website. She has some beautiful bits and pieces, I’m lusting after the coin purses and carry alls

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