Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Try again tomorrow

I had intended to preceed this 'how to' with one of my random musings, you know something uplifting or insightful, possibly even vaguely interesting, but as soon as I put fingers to keyboard my thoughts turned to marshmallow and then 'foof' - nothing. Like any creative process really, sometimes it just doesn't happen.  So, rather than force yourself to make art, write poetry, sew, knit, take the next David Bailey style photograph just walk away. Don't try relentlessly for hours to create, don't punish yourself for what is not happening on the paper, with the material or in the camera, just accept that at this moment you are not in tune with your creative side. Walk away and do something else, remember the famous phrase from Gone with the Wind - 'Tomorrow is another day'.

At least I can share my step by step intructions for making the Pumpkin Bookmark featured over on the Chocolate Baroque Design Team blog.
  1. Trim a piece of kraft card to 25 x 5cm and round off the top corners using a corner rounder. Ink up the cobweb stamp from the Book of Spells set with Versafine Onyx Black and then randomly stamp over the whole piece of card, re-inking as necessary.
  2. Using Cut 'n Dry foam and Pitch Black Adirondack dye ink add shading around the edges of the card.
  3. Punch a hole at the top and add a paper hole re-inforcer which has been sponged with Pitch Black ink. Stamp the spider in place with Onyx Black and set aside.
  4. On thick white card stamp out the pumpkin from the Things that go Bump set three times. When dry paint the images with colour washes made from Brusho Crystal powders in Orange, Grey and Leaf Green. To make a colour wash put the tiniest amount of powder onto a palette and add water, a little at a time, until you achieve the shade you want.
  5. When completely dry add shading to each image with coloured pencils, then cut out all three pumpkins leaving only one on the stone base.
  6. Attach 3d foam pads to the first pumpkin, add one small pad at the right hand side of the second with double sided tape to the left and tape only to the third one. Stack on the card as shown and adhere one of the spare stone slab images underneath the stack.
  7. Ink up the words 'midnight dreary' from the full phrase and stamp onto a small piece of Kraft car. Ink up 'Once upon a' and stamp above. Ink the cobweb again and stamp off excess ink on spare paper then very lightly stamp over the words to give the faintest image and shade around the edge with Pitch Black. Attach to base of card using foam pads.
  8. Finish with some co-ordinating ribbon threaded through the top.
I won't promise to see you tomorrow, but I'll be back soon.

Monday, 8 September 2014

When you need to find your wings (plus a little artwork)

Hi everyone, thanks for joining me. Today is all about getting back into the groove. You know what I mean, you've been on holiday, or had time away from the things you do because of other commitments, health problems or whatever. Getting your mojo back, whether it be creative or otherwise, is often a difficult path to find. And, depending on how long you've been 'missing', you may find your confidence has disappeared a little too. I have no magical solution to offer you except to say this. 

Sometimes you will have no control when you can return to your normal way of life, if you've had health issues for example. When you feel able you will start to build your way back in your own good time. However, if you have gone off the path completely for other reasons finding your direction again can be harder. Especially if the committee in your head have joined in (see my post I is for, to get a full explaination of the committee).  Sometimes the only way back is to jump off the cliff and free fall. It will be an interesting journey down, but it doesn't half make you fly again quicker! And soaring back upward is so rewarding. All you need to do is find your wings.

Now onto the real reason for my blog post today. If you liked the look of my postcard on the Chocolate Baroque Design Team blog then here is a tutorial for you to follow. It is a little lengthy so please make yourself comfortable.

  1. To create the beach/skyline background first take a piece of copy paper and tear it in two across the width, creating a series of 'hills and valleys'. Don't be too careful with this, the more random the better.
  2. Next take an A6 piece of silk card and lay it down portrait style in front of you. Now choose one of the torn edged pieces of paper and lay over the top of the card approximately half way across. You may want to tape down the top and bottom edge of the paper to your work space to stop it moving, but don't tape the card. 
  3. Now ink up your brayer with Adirondack Pool ink, run off some of the ink onto a piece of scrap paper (you want a pale covering on the brayer) then. holding the torn paper and card with your free hand, lightly begin to brayer up and won the exposed piece of card. Repeat until you have a shade of sky you are happy with (re-inking and running off the excess onto the scrap paper as often as necessary). Clean and dry your brayer.
  4. Now turn the card around 90 degrees and match up the other piece of torn paper over your sky. Leave the smallest amount of blue showing before taping in place as before (this will ensure you have no white gape between sky and sand). Ink up the brayer with Scattered Straw Distress ink and run off the excess as before. You will find that with distress ink you probably only need to run the brayer once over the spare paper as it doesn't coat a brayer as much as other dye based inks. Brayer over the card until you achieve the sand shade you require.
  5. To give both the sand and sky some depth use the torn paper pieces and either a brush, cut and dry foam or a small piece of makeup sponge. Choose a curvy part of the torn paper that resembles a cloud, place in the sky area and very lightly dust Pool ink across the edge where the paper meets your background. Lift the paper to see how your 'cloud' looks and repeat if nexcessary.  TIP: When inking up your brush, sponge or foam dab off the excess onto your spare paper until you think there is no ink left. You will be surprised how little is need to achieve this effect and you can always build up more colour if required. Repeat this technique in the sand area with the Scattered straw ink to give the effect of dunes.
  6. Stamp the beach huts from the Seaside Dreams set onto a self adhesive label with Memento Tuxedo Black ink and colour with pencils of your choice; I used watercolour pencils to give that seaside style washed look. Cut out the individual huts, the flag pole and the flag and set aside.
  7. Now stamp the beach huts over the sand background with Archival Jet Black ink and allow to dry thoroughly. You can always 'blot' with a piece of clean copier paper to ensure the image is completely dry. Remove the backing paper from your cut out huts and stick into position. Add the flag pole and flag.
  8. Finally ink up 'Dreaming of the beach' with Jet Black and stamp in position.
This is the first proper brayering I have done since my accident twenty months ago so I am a little out of practise. Getting back into this groove was certainly harder and I definitely jumped, but I really had fun making this postcard and am tempted to make a series using the rest of the Seaiside Dream set. Thanks for stopping by, see you all again soon

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Coming back to blogland

I know I have been missing for several months and actually went AWOL almost mid-post. Sadly it was part due to a sudden worrying health scare (OH) which required lots of doctor and hospital appointments for some weeks and also our beloved doggy companion, Alice, had to be put to sleep. I am afraid blogging had to take a back seat. But let's face it I've had more comebacks than a few pop bands I could mention and feel as if I'm making yet another excuse for neglecting this space.  In reality I am not one for bearing my soul to everyone either so I seem to end up with all or nothing and withdraw from everything. 

Then in June our bestest friends Glenda and Adrian, who own Chocolate Baroque, moved to bonny Scotland. Tearful day as we have been friends for a lot of years now and shared so much. However it also heralded a new role for me in as much I am now General Manager at Chocolate Baroque and run the business for them on a day to day basis. Plus we get to have some fantastic weekends north of the border.

So time has continued to tick time by and I think it actually becomes harder to get back to it. It's easier to say to yourself 'I'll blog again next week' than it is to just sit down and do it. Bit like life really. Sometimes we opt for the easy path rather than the one that takes some effort when, in fact, the difficult one would be much more rewarding. We cannot expect to find health, wealth, happiness etc  without turning up and contributing. It's like the joke Adrian has told on several occasions about the guy who prays to God to win the lottery and God replies ' Meet me half way, buy a ticket!"

I think the key is possibly what I call baby steps. Make the effort certainly, but don't throw everything in all at once. By pacing yourself and taking baby steps you will not sicken yourself or tire yourself from the task. Going from zero to hero in one or two moves cannot be sustained, you will either burn out or lose interest. And each comeback becomes longer and harder until you eventually turn your back on it altogether. 

So here is comeback number whatever and I would like to share something with you though, which I created last weekend whilst spending time 'over the border'.  Glenda has been re-running her weekly inspiration email called Monday Mojo and incorporating brand new artwork. Last year she used one of the cards I had taught at a class as her inspiration and conincidentally that particular email was due out again on Bank Holiday Monday.  As We decided to each make a card using the instructions from last year and set to. Despite the fact we were working in the same room we paid no attention to the other's work. So you can imagine how surprised we were when we did show and tell. We had both used very similar colours and the same sentiment stamp. Sisters under the crafting skin!  You can see and read about Glenda's card here.

I used an 8" x 8" card blank, but this would work with a small card, just adjust the sizes of the dies to be used.
  1. Using three dies in progressively smaller sizes and cut three masks from Masking Tissue, making sure you leave a broad edge around each die cut.
  2. Position the larger mask (the negative from your die cutting) on the card and with some Cut and Dry Foam and Crushed Olive distress ink, colour through onto the card.
  3. Now take the actual large die cut and position over the area you have just coloured. Using the next size down mask position to the left of the first block and colour as before, this time with Wild Honey distress ink. Add extra colour to the edge closest to the middle panel to give depth.
  4. Remove the mask but leave the large die cut in place and position the smallest mask to the right of the first block and colour again using Dried Marigold distress ink. Again add extra colour to the edge closest to the middle panel.
  5. Ink up the key from Key to my Dreams with Versafine Olympia Green and stamp in the centre panel.
  6. Ink up a smaller key with Orange Blossom Archival ink and stamp off onto a piece of spare paper (you want to achieve a very litight covering of ink) before stamping into the left hand panel.
  7. Finally ink up the Be Happy stamp from the Happy Words and Birds clear stamp set with Orange Blossom and stamp into the right hand panel. To finish off I used a toning coloured pencil to create an edge around the centre panel.
I hope you have managed to stay awake through this extremely long post and I thank you for staying with me. And, whilst I am making no promises about regular posts, I must remember my own words and at least turn up once in a while 'Oh' and maybe buy a ticket.

Monday, 10 March 2014

'A Week of Encouragement - Day 1'

Hello everyone and welcome to a new 'Week of..' series. This week is all about encouragement, of oneself, of other people, from other people. And I hope that by the end of the week we have managed to encourage eachother in some way.

The official dictionary definition is 'words or actions that give someone confidence or hope'. We use words of encouragement all the time, from taking the dog out for a walk in the morning 'Fetch the stick - Good Boy!' (pat on the dog's head) to yelling 'Go on my son' at the TV when 'encouraging' your team to score a goal. I've done that myself, during the 2012 Olympics, like they could hear me screaming 'You can do it' at whichever GB athelete was competing at the time! I was watching the Winter Paralymics earlier today and one of the downhill skiers was shouting at herself as she hurtled down the icy slope. 'Listen to her encouraging herself' remarked the commentator. All good stuff, all positive. But what about negative encouragement?

How many of us have said 'If you don't behave Santa won't come', or 'You can't climb that, you're too small'. I only caught myself saying the Santa type thing to my daughter once and then immediately realised what I had said and tried never make such a remark again. But I have heard this type of thing in the workplace too -  'You are never going to get that report done by 5 o'clock' and 'You're never going to let so and so get that finished before you are you?' Making someone feel guilty to get them to do what you want is off limits as far as I am concerned. But everyday you will hear this type of thing from parents, grandparents, employers - much of it said in jest, much of it causing silent pain. 

However we all need encouragement, its how we gain confidence to carry on but its only good if it is genuine. It doesn't do anyone any favours to tell them their work, project, art etc is wonderful when quite plainly it isn't. That's how we get so many untalented people appearing on talent shows - no-one said they couldn't sing/act/dance.

My artwork today is of two cards I made for a magazine article on resist about 4, maybe even five or more years ago. 

Looking at them I wonder how they got publish, but believe it or not at the time they were considered innovative stuff and the feedback I received encouraged me to feel better about both myself and my artwork. Seeing it again now it looks very dated and very basic, but I can still remember the feelings of positivity and self worth. It's a good feeling and that's just how it should be. It is very easy to give negative encouragement almost by accident, but we must think before we speak or act. After all, how do we really want our words to be remembered in the future by the recipient?

Tomorrow I shall be looking at other peoples' artwork that definitely deserves a positive word or two.

Friday, 7 March 2014

A Week of Inspiration - Day 5

Well this is the last day in my 'Week of Inspiration' and I have a small selection of quotes which I am calling inspiration soup. These kind of sums up my thoughts on the subject and there is truth in every one.

I shall leave with a piece of my own artwork, created over the past few days; a combination of inspiration drawn from several places. 

The background is a mixture of dictionary paper and modeling paste, painted over with acrylics and then inked. The heart has been run through an embossing folder and then spritzed with inks and sponged with distress. I made the paper feather from more dictionary paper and then coloured with a mixture of inks and paint. There are a couple of handmade flowers in there, the rest are paper along with some mini pine cones, some wires I twisted into spirals and a pearl pin.

Finally I stamped the word imagine from the Artistic Expressions stamp set.

Thank you for taking time out to comment, your support is always valued and I hope that some of what you have read has given you food for thought. I shall be back on Monday with a brand new 'Week of...'

Thursday, 6 March 2014

A Week of Inspiration - Day 4

Welcome to Day 4 of my 'Week of Inspiration'. Yesterday I promised you eye candy and hope you feel inspired by the illustrations that follow:


I love everything about this canvas by Sandee Setliff, especially the words.

What a great start for a journal page, a rainbow of watercolours from Shannon Ganshorn

Love the colour and the idea. There are loads of inspirational photos on gingerblue's photostream

Remember what I said yesterday about fashion. This photo comes from a blog called Fashion Plates and Dirty Dishes (isn't that a great title), each pohoto on here opens up to other stunning images.

 I love monochromatic and this piece of art is shown on a blog site hosted by

Very OTT, but there is so much to take inspiration from in Stella de Libero's Wedding Inspirasi

I adore mixed media, especially when it it as stunning as the work created by Finnabair

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

A Week of Inspiration - Day 3

Hello on Day 3 of my Week of Inspiration, I hope you managed to have a look around some of the fabulous artwork I curated yesterday - there is some truly inspiring stuff there.

Today I want to tell you about other ways I get my inspiration. Although I do believe that the biggest influence on your creative senses is beautiful artwork, if you are into writing, or photography or jewellery making etc then you need to inhale other sights and sounds to help keep the well topped up.

There are a couple of people I find very inspirational; one of whom I have only discovered recently, I mentioned her on one of my Alpha Tag post. Her name is Jennifer Boykin and her blog is called 'Life After Tampons'. I like her because she tells is like it is, and although you might think her blog may be for ladies of a 'certain age', a lot of her writings will resonate no matter what date is on your birth certificate.

Another person I greatly admire is Christine Kane, she is an American folk singer/songwriter who is somewtimes referred to as the 'Mentor to women who are changing the world'. That sounds quite scary and you possibly think what on earth could you have in common with her, but she is the lady who helps you believe in yourself. Even if not everything she does is for you, there are some very wise, and inspiring words, on her blog. And if you do nothing else you really need to create a vision board for yourself.

Okay, so what else can help with the creative process. Music is probably the most emotionally evocative. When I am lucky enough to have a playday with my friends, there is usually music playing in the background. Even when I am on my own I'll  have a CD running - it can calm you and relax you into a creative mood without you knowing it. Depending on what you play I suppose.  I love Bat out of Hell by Meatloaf and admit to playing that at earsplitting levels, but it does focus me and charge me with energy. For those of you who would like something a little less wild try listening to Denmark by the Portland Project, a beautiful haunting cello solo.

Reading matter is another way to find your inspiration. Sometimes the characters in a book will trigger something in your head, or looking at a magazine can spur you into writing in your journal; fashion magazines are great for patterns and colour and believe it or not watching the Chelsea flower show on tv always makes me want to explore and experiment with colour and composition.

Of course all these stimuli are just a fraction of the things surrounding us that we can draw upon to give our artwork, and ourselves, a new lease of life. So now it is over to you, what inspires you and where do you go to keep the well from running dry. Please let me know as I would like to share in some of your inspiration. After all that's what we are all about isn't it - inspiring eachother.

Lots of eyecandy to inspire you tomorrow.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

A Week of Inspiration - Day 2

Welcome to Day 2 of my 'Week of Inspiration'. Today I want to share with you some of the kind of artwork that I find inspiring.

I love the artistry of Valerie Sjodin. Her colours and shapes often spur me on to get out sprays and inks and paints.

I was lucky enough to do a mini online course last year which was devoted to embellishing edges and text.

Here is a sample of her artwork from that course

Sometimes doing a short online course like this can really wake up your muse. You can turn up to class in your pyjamas (!), you can learn at your own pace and most of all you get to practise without anyone looking.

For a more subtle approach to art I often turn to a lady called Monica Sabolla Gruppo whose beautiful style just thrills me with a sense of peace and calm.

She creates the most wonderful pieces of art from watercolour paintings to mixed media to home decor and all of it with a gentleness that I find so appealing.

Monica's art almost makes you want to take everything at a slower pace, to stop and actually look at the world that surrounds us. 

Her Book of Grace, shown on the left, and the Coffee Filter Roses are just two of the projects that she freely shares and kind of sum up her style

Margaret Storer-Roche's artwork is just fascinating and I have been particularly inspired by her ATC work. She combines so much in very little space. Amazing. 

In fact, if you haven't tried doing ATCs (Artist Trading Cards) this is another way to feed your inspiration. Because of their size (3.5 x 2.5 inches) they are less daunting and you can use them to experiment with colour, techniques, stamping etc. A good way to produce lots of pieces of artwork quickly.

The artwork I have shown here is just a sample of some of the styles that appeal to me and to which I often turn; not just for the inspiration but just for the sheer pleasure of admiring someone else's creation.

So do you know what inspires you, what helps you to keep your creative well full? If you don't already know the artists I have mentioned here, perhaps the next time you seek inspiration you might spend a few minutes in their company.

More inspirational stuff tomorrow.

Monday, 3 March 2014

A Week of Inspiration - Day 1

This is the first week of my 'A Week of' series and I am starting with Inspiration. For the next five days I'll be bringing you a post every day that has a connection with this and hope that you find some inspiration of your own along the way.

Let's start with the dictionary definition which states that inspiration is 'someone or something that gives you new ideas and the enthusiam to create something with them'. People may even refer to this as the muse or their mojo. However you wish to define it inspiration comes, and goes, at often very inopportune moments (the going usually happens when you have a deadline for something). What we need to do is open our minds to see inspiration in our everyday llife.

One of the things we should realise is that very few times do we come up with totally unique and original ideas. Yes, every once in a while we do have a flash of brilliance, but on the whole our creativity is based on some subconcious memory flash that suddenly just 'pops' into our heads. And there is nothing wrong with that. Remember we don't have to continually try and reinvent the wheel, as long as we are expressing ourselves in our own unique style then that is alright. I have seen so many people almost turning themselves inside out because they haven't been able to come up with a new, clever idea. And then, ultimately, they feel as if they have failed because of it. And 'yes' I have done that too in the past.

So what inspires me? Sometimes everything and sometimes absolutely zilch! And sometimes I get in the way of my own inspiration, I'm sure you know what I mean. It's many of the things I talked about in my Alpha Tag series, trying too hard, not letting myself breathe, life, trying to be too clever (see above)! But I am truly inspired by others who have overcome great difficulties and hardships, by the colours of nature -  which can be absolutely extrordinary, by other artwork, by patterns, by magazines or sometimes just by playing with my crafty stash. 

I am sharing some artwork with you which I recently taught at a workshop and although I'm not sure where the inspiration came from I am honest enough to say that it is probably from a combination of 'stuff' I had running around in the filing cabinet I call my brain - fed by images from a myriad of places I had already visited.

This strip is the inside of the card, created by masking off the required width and then inking, stamping and colouring or removing colour. 

The idea though is to turn the inside into part of the outside

The front of the card has a strip of acetate inserted to reveal the inside panel. I haven't been able to show it very clearly in this photo because the light reflects too much off the acetate. The corresponding matted layer under the sentiment was created in the same way as the masked strip.

So although I don't know exactly where the inspiration came for this card I do know that it fulfilled the definition. 

Please check out the beautiful artwork that both Sam Macdonald and Debbie Martin have created since the class.  Thanks girls.
 Be back tomorrow with more inspiration.


Sunday, 2 March 2014

Another series

Well, I've had a day off from blogging and I've been putting together some ideas for my next 'series'. Apparently some of you said you would miss my daily postings - very sweet of you and if I'm honest I enjoyed them myself. 

So I am starting a new series, well mini series really, which will run Monday to Friday each week throughout March. The whole five days will be dedicated to one particular topic and will include my artwork alongside other interesting thoughts, ideas and images. I'm calling it 'A Week of....' and hope you will join me, starting tomorrow. 

Here's just a sample of some backgrounds I prepared a few days ago, one of two of which you might recognise as ending up in my tag series, think the rest may be a starting point....

I'm looking forward to this next chapter, see you tomorrow.

Friday, 28 February 2014

Z is for

Well folks this is it, the last letter in my alpha tag series. We have reached the terminal and the bus has stopped, so its now safe for you to get off.  I have thoroughly enjoyed writing these posts and hope you have gained something from them. Probably 5 minutes relaxation whilst reading each one, but that's a start.

The final letter is, of course, 'Z' for which I have chosen 'Zenith'.  There are several ways to look at this word - pinnacle, comeback, period of success, glory days. I have certainly made a comeback with my blog; managing to post every day despite the best efforts of the techno gremlins etc. But the inference of Zenith is that you reach the highest point and then what? Is it downhill from then on, do you never raise to those dizzy heights again? 

I don't believe this to be so. Most of the time our lives run along a track which is sometimes bumpy, curves once in a while and then every so often becomes a helter skelter ride. Throughout it all there are various signposts along the way, and these are the ones we take lessons from.

I think, that as creative souls, we experience our own personal glory days, periods when our art just flows - our purple patch. Accept it for what it is and don't mourn it when it is not there, it will return.

My final tag is not my Zenith, this is in fact my 'Xanadu', this is how I imagine the place where I can rest from my weariness and find perspective in my life.
First I took some tissue paper and sprayed it with a selection of Dylusions Spray inks, drying between colours to avoid 'mud'. Just before it was totally dry I scrunched it up to form a crinkled effect and then left it to dry naturally.

I cut out the tag from a piece of grey board (I needed a base that would accept wet mediums without buckling). I then covered this with a thin layer of PVA glue (because I couldn't find my Glue 'n Seal!!) and attached the tissue paper to it, wrinkling it up slightly as I pressed it down. Again it was left to dry. 

Using the Joggles stencil Anicient Ruins I sponged with Turquoise acrylic paint and sprinkled very fine crystal glitter over it whilst still wet. More drying time!

I stamped the castle from the new stamp set Fantasy Castles onto a self adhesive label and coloured with Aquarelle pencils. 

The border at the bottom of the tag is a torn strip from the coloured tissue which I have attached using Ultra High Bond 12mm Tape. Finally I cut out the castle, peeled off the backing paper and stuck it in place, adding the shading around the image with black and grey pencils to give it dimension.

I think we can all say that life is a challenge and we must count ourselves lucky if most of our journey consists of just a few bumpy rides. But if you do find yourself on the helter skelter, hanging in there by your fingernails, remember your glory days and look out for more Zeniths on the horizon so that when they come again you can celebrate and cherish such heady times.

Well that's it, the end of this particular journey. I would like to thank all of you who have accompanied me and supported me with your wonderful comments, it has meant a great deal. Now all I have to do is plan another one...... where next?

PS If any of you are on Pinterest I have created a board to which I have pinned all 26 tags, so if you would like to see them in one place please click here

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Y is for

Well this is the penultimate post in my alpha series and the bus has almost reached its destination, However, don't jump off just yet there are still a couple of letters to go.

We have arrived at 'Y' and I've got not just one, but two words for you - 'Yin and Yang'. This is part of Chinese philosophy in which Yin and Yang represent the two opposite principles in nature, that everything comes in pairs. For example the sun and the moon, male and female, cold and hot - you get the drift; and  that although they are opposites, they rely on eachother.  Basically Yin and Yang are all about balance, if one is stronger, then the other will be weaker.  Possibly the best way to illustrate this is with night and day. During the Winter the nights are longer, the days shorter, in Summer it is the reverse, but there are still only 24 hours in the day - they balance themselves out across this period.

This is how we would all like to live our lives - in balance. David (my OH) and I have a Yin and Yang relationship; most times its 50/50 but sometimes the scales move and then its a case of whoever needs to be stronger in a particular situation will take the lead and then the scales return to the 50/50 mark.

And our art is all about balance - juggling our creativity with everyday lives, understanding the light and shade in our masterpieces. Learning that for every one thing there is an opposite and exploring that opposite when we can.

Today's artwork again started life as an acrylic block background. You really can't beat doing a batch of these.
This one was created with Mustard Seed, Spiced Marmalade and Aged Mahogany Distress inks. I stamped it with a variety of stamps using Archival Deep Purple and Blue Violet.  

The butterfly from Tangled Garden was stamped in Memento Tuxedo Black on a self adhesive label and then coloured with Promarkers. I then covered the whole image with Diamond Stickles and cut it out when completely dry.

I coloured a piece of sisal ribbon with Archival Orange Blossom and attached with PVA glue and added an assortment of flowers in shades of orange and purple, together with pins etc, using a glue gun. I used black pearl stamens for the antennae and glued the butterfly in place (I did not remove the backing from the label on this occasion).

Here is a close up of the butterfly so you can see the colouring a little better. And I have angled it away from the light so that the sparkle from the Stickles doesn't obscure the image.

These colours are almost Yin and Yang, (the opposite colours on the colour wheel would be purple and yellow) but I still think they are in balance.

And that's how it is in our day to day lives, making adjustments where needed so that we can live in balance as closely as possible.

See you tomorrow with the last letter.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

X is for

When I first talked about writing this alpha tag series two questions were top of the list 'What are you going to do for 'X'? and of course 'Have you any ideas about 'Z'?  Well I'll leave 'Z' for another couple of days but here we go with possibly the hardest letter.

For me 'X' is for 'Xanadu', the definition of which is 'a place of great beauty, luxury, and contentment'. And I am not talking about the movie with Olivia Newtron Bomb! Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote the poem 'Kubla Khan' in 1797 (published 1812) which begins 

"In Xanadu did Kubla Khan 
           A stately pleasure-dome decree..." :

Although this is a mythical name it is believed that it may refer to Shang-tu, an actual place that existed in South East Mongolia in the 17th century. Whatever the story I like the idea of some beautiful, magical place far away. And isn't this where we all want to go sometimes? Not physically, although that would be wonderful to find such a place, but to venture there in our minds. We all go through periods in our life when, for all sorts of reasons,  it is difficult to live with the reality of our surroundings. And we need some kind of 'safe' haven we can run to. I think that somewhere like Xanadu seems the ideal place; it costs nothing to get there, you don't have to pack a suitcase and you can visit it whenever you want.

There are times when we need this space in our creativity too; when we lose our mojo, when the muse temporarily leaves us, when we are not in a happy place. Just somewhere to rekindle inspiration and relight creative passion. 

Here is my tag for today, another one that I created yesterday.

I started with an acrylic block background using Broken China, Faded Jeans and Evergreen Bough. I then stamped over it with several randomly chosen stamps including the music sheet from Music Fanfare and the Once Upon a Time clear single stamp. I used complementary inks including Adirondak Clover and Versafine Deep Lagoon.

I stamped the Julie Nutting Ruffle Dress onto a single self-adhesive label sheet using Versafine Onyx Black and used Aquarelle pencils to colour the image, blending them with a waterbrush to achieve the shading.

Finally I cut her out, peeled the back off the label and stuck her in place. I do like using self-adhesive labels you can get them in all sorts of sizes and they are a good cheat over masking your images.

So there you have it, I hope you feel I have done justice to the most difficult letter in this alpha series. And although Xanadu may not actually exist if you can envisage somewhere that is beautiful and comforting, where your imagination can fly, then you have found your healing place, your own personal Xanadu.

See you tomorrow

PS Look out for a mixed pack of useful sized labels on the Chocolate Baroque website - coming soon.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

W is for

I guess this is the last of the easier letters, it's probably downhill from now on??

Today it is 'W' for 'Well'. This word is used in phrases that range from 'Are you keeping well?' through being 'well ahead of the others in the class' to 'Didn't they do well?' From my own point of view I always want to do things well. I don't necessarily mean perfectly, sometimes it is not possible, or practical, to achieve perfection. But if you have done a job well, and to the best of your ability, then that's all that can be expected of you. And we should praise others for doing well, after all it costs nothing to say 'Well done' but those two little words can mean so much.

When it comes to our own creative well what do you do to keep it full and how do you ensure that the ideas keep flowing. We all find inspiration in different ways - from books and magazines, blogs and Facebook groups and Pinterest (how to waste an hour or two creatively!!). Sometimes we need to go to a workshop or have a play day with friends to stimulate the creative juices. 

This tag was made today after having an inky play day of my own.

The background was created with Peeled Paint, Shabby Shutters and Mustard Seed Distress inks using the acrylic block technique.  If you would like to know how to do this technique please read Glenda's Mojo Monday article.

Next a piece of copy paper was sprayed with Lemon Zest, Pure Sunshine and Fresh Lime Dylusions Spray inks. A second piece was sprayed with Lemon Zest, Squeezed Orange and Bubblegum Pink. After semi-drying with a heat gun it was set aside.

Making sure the tag was completely dry a strip down the right hand edge was masked off and then a border was randomly stamped down the side with the Leafy Trails Big Bold Background and a Versafine Onyx Black inkpad.. The length of the tag is longer than the stamp so it was re-inked and stamped again. With the same Distress inks a waterbrush was used to 'paint' over some of the leaves to give a varigated appearance.

The Leafy Trails were stamped on both pieces of the dried copier paper. Then a waterbush was run over some of the leaves and blotted with kitchen roll. This was repeated until some of the colour was 'bleached' out.. Several leafy branches were cut out and set aside. Once the leafy border was dry a soft graphite pencil was used to shade around the leaves to give a dimensional feel.

The cut out leaves were attached by randomly gluing the stems and fixing to the tag. By only adding glue here and there the leaves stand away from the tag. After stamping the word Truth from Artistic Expressions a pencil added shading. It was then finished with co-ordinating ribbon.

I thought I had better show up with some current artwork, just to make sure my own creative well was still working. What are you doing to feed yours?

See you tomorrow

Monday, 24 February 2014

V is for

Hello again, here we are in the last week with just five letters to go. I hope you are managing to stay the course and can finish the journey with me.

Today's letter is V and the word is 'Vision'. The common meaning of the word is the ability to see, and as this is probably one of the most important of the five sense we should all be grateful for this.  But what about those who have the vision to want to change the future; whether by some deed or invention. Leonardo Da Vinci, Charles Darwin, Ghandi and Martin Luther King are amongst those who had the imagination and determination to bring their vision to fruition.Great people with great ideas.

Sometimes we need vision when we are creating, and we also need the willpower to see it through; especially when it is not turning out how we planned. It is easier to throw it away than to work through the challenge, but trying to 'see' past the visual impression is often difficult.

Today's tag is yet another from my box of 'keeps'.

I sponged the tag with Scattered Straw, Spiced Marmalade and Forest Moss to create the background.

I used Potter's Clay Memento to stamp the border from Decadent Brocade. A variety of inks were used on the trees, which are from Woodland Design-a-Tree, whilst the blossoms are from Glade Design-a-Tree.

I die cut the leaves and ran them through an embossing folder before inking with Spiced Marmalade and Forest Moss.

The bottom of the tag was punched to give the elborate edge and the leaves were loosely attached with wet adhesive. I quite like the simplicity of this tag. Must use it.

Okay so the next time you find it difficult to turn your art vision into a finished article think of those who have suffered to bring their vision to the masses; and remember the many people who have turned their visions into reality. If they had thrown their ideas away where would we be. Possibly not reading this blog post for a start!

See you tomorrow