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.