Friday, 20 December 2013

Merry Christmas

I'm nearing the end of the journal my arty friend gave me so am filling it with pictures from my favourite time of year.

I'll be off the blog for a few weeks over Christmas but just wanted to wish you all a joy filled festive season. I hope you all find the peace of the season somewhere in its hustle and bustle.

Friday, 13 December 2013

The Hunter

The inspiration for this piece came from some cards I have called 'StoryWorld' by John & Caitlin Matthews. They are originally written with story telling in mind but I sometimes draw one from the pack and use the beautiful illustrations (and thought provoking questions) as a jumping off point for an art journal piece. The cards represent myths/magic/archetypes which I find fascinating.

Plus I love hats...

Other places I find inspiration include books, music and the natural world. What about you?

Friday, 6 December 2013

Skin Tones

The book I talked about in November (The Artist's Complete Guide to Drawing the Head) really has had a huge impact on my drawing and painting. I feel I'm getting closer to 'realistic' style. So this week I decided to tackle mixing my own skin tones with acrylics. I've always used Ceramcoat & DecoArt out of the colour flesh tones and that's been fine but I do like a challenge sometimes. :-)

I did a heap of on line research and the general consensus is yellow, red, blue & white in varying amounts. Which is obvious really because that's all that every colour is made from. Doh!

What I hadn't thought about is that each primary colour has a warm and cool version and that has a big effect on colour mixing and that some colours are opaque (the cadmium colours) while others are more transparent (like the quinacridones) which will have an effect too.

A few mixes to try:

Cool opaque
Cadmium Yellow Light
Alizarin Crimson
Utramarine Blue
Titanium White

Warm opaque
Cadmium Yellow Medium/Yellow Ochre
Cadmium Red Medium
Manganese Blue
Titanium White

Cool transparent
Quniacridone Gold
Quinacridone Rose
Cobalt Blue
Zinc White

Warm transparent
Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold
Quinacridone Red
Cerulean Blue
Zinc White

Whatever mixes you choose the principle is the same. Mix quite a bit of yellow with a touch of red then lighten it with white to create a base colour. Lots of room to play here. Then add even less blue to cool the colour down a little. Once you have a base colour you can add white to make highlight colours and blue or blue/red to make shadows.

Practice practice practice! And let me know how you go.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Lost in a Forest

This piece is why I don't do much work in graphite. I really love the look of a beautiful pencil drawing (Anthony Ryder's figure drawings are sublime) but, aside from the practice I need to get anywhere like good at it, this piece (which measures 21cm x 14cm) took me over 6 hours to complete, of which 5 hours was shading. Phew.

Friday, 22 November 2013


One of my favourite artists is Kate Thompson at Fractured Angelics. I was introduced to her ethereal and delicate work full of grace when working as part of Mermaid Circus earlier this year and I really like the pale colours and the delicate brush strokes. Looking at her work makes me feel connected to something beyond the material world.

Like so many other wonderful artists she runs some on line courses (at the trodden path) and this is a piece of mine inspired by her fabric & composition course.

I think it might be my favourite piece I've created so far.

Friday, 15 November 2013


Trying something new to me... chiaroscuro = no lines/contours instead drawing shadow shapes only. I'm using an amazing book - The Artist's Complete Guide to Drawing the Head by William L. Maughan - which has really changed how I think about drawing.

Most of the drawing I've done previously has been contour drawing (round the edges) so this style is pretty tricky for me. But what an amazing effect. I'm blown away with how dimensional my piece looks and all I used were a couple of pastel pencils on a messy bit of journal page.

Apparently it's how Da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa. Hmmm... I have a way to go!

Have you tried drawing like this? I think it's really going to help my painting too.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Life Book Yay or Nay?

The beautiful soul that is Tamara @ Willowing has advertised Lifebook 2014 and I am debating whether to sign up. On the up side you get 20+ teachers and 52 weeks of inspiration. On the down side there is a lesson every week which seems like one heck of a commitment. But I guess you don't have to do every lesson and can just do what appeals to you.

Hmmmm.... decisions, decisions.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Colour Your Life

I know I'm not alone in this but I absolutely love neon. I love a little bit of it... I love a lot of it... which is where the inspiration for this piece came from.

It's even brighter in real life.

What's your favourite colour? What colours your life?

Friday, 18 October 2013

More Fairies

See... Fairies on serviettes again & this time in an altered book. The kookaburra is not my work, but the fairy is. I'm attempting to channel the Pre-Raphaelites tonight.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Fairies and Napkins

I may never paint anything but fairies on serviette backgrounds again... just saying.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Happy Birthday

It's my birthday week. Guess what I asked for for my birthday? Art supplies and on line art courses of course!

I signed up for  Drawing & Joynal Live with Jane Davenport and have ordered some Liquitex paints from Dick Blick. Although I'm in Australia so postage is quite expensive from the states it's still cheaper and there's so much more choice than buying over here. I even order big sheets of paper from there (which makes the shipping cost even more) and the price works out better per sheet as long as I order more than 10 pieces.

I'm looking forward to the growth that an on line course always brings me. What are you up to?

Friday, 27 September 2013

Repurposing Books

Another thing I like to do at the op shop is look for old children's books to use as they are for journals. I like ones that are A4 size with lots of colourful illustrations and I just add a coat of gesso to each page before painting/creating on them. The way the illustrations peek through in the background is lovely and adds to the layering affect that I love on mixed media pieces.

Here's one I created earlier. :-)

I saw this hair style as a top wedding one somewhere on the interweb and had to recreate it. I just love its messy structure.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Hand Made Journals

I have a bit of thing about books. Well actually it's a lot of a thing. I absolutely love them. I have shelves & bookcases full in my house and boxes of books in the garage because there's no room in the house. It drives my husband nuts. It's an addiction.

So I decided I wanted to make journals out of old books. Not MY books of course. But books from op shops that would be sent away to be recycled if I didn't use them. That's what I tell myself anyway.

The best courses on book binding on the interweb are - hands down subjective choice - the ones by Mary Ann Moss here. For a few different styles of book binding try Full Tilt Boogie. Remains of the Day is also awesome but only shares one (fantastic) binding method.

I take old books apart and rebind them in old book covers. Like this.

For variety I mix in scrapbooking paper & artist quality paper too. There is something lovely about making my own books. And then I use them for art journalling.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Trying on Robot Suits

Sometimes I need to create something completely different from my usual art. When I get this urge one of the things I do is to go to charity or second hand book shops and look through the visual books there for inspiration. Last month I found a Taschen book on old robots. Which inspired me to draw this.

It took me less than 10 minutes and is ink on lovely brown craft paper in my hand made journal from my arty friend Little Raven. A big departure from my usual work, so I added a pretty girl face inside the suit.

Have you tried drawing something different from your usual subjects recently. What did you draw & how did it go?

Friday, 23 August 2013

A Week Away

I'm having a week away from the PC, from the media & from the on line world in general. No blog reading, no facebook, no email and no news. I've done it before when I've started to feel artistically stale and it always works. You have to engage with what's physically around you for a week and that has fantastic repercussions in your art.

See you on the other side.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Channelling My Inner Bride

No post last week as I was in full birthday celebration mode. My baby boy turned 4 and there were cakes to bake and dressing up costumes to make so very little time for art. I don't mind though, as long as I get to create something, but it was so nice to come back to my little journal and make a pretty picture.

When I started she wasn't mean to be a bride but I'd just received a new floral stencil and, when I scrubbed gesso through it, it looked just like a veil.

I'm enjoying using those little tear drop shaped ink pads with my stencils at the moment. It looks more patchy/grungy than paint and I like that.

How's your week been? I hope you had a chance to make something and enjoy being creative.

Friday, 2 August 2013

A stone, and more easily a flower or a bird...

This post title is from a quote by Eckhart Tolle in his book 'A New Earth'.

A stone, and more easily a flower or a bird, could show you the way back to god, to the source, to yourself.

I've been rereading the book recently and have realised that, this is exactly what art does for me. The act of drawing/painting/creating forces me to truly see the essence & existence by taking me away from the labels (a wing, a feather, a petal, a rock) and just experiencing the object I am drawing.

No wonder it makes me feel so good. No wonder I can't stop doing it.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Saying Goodbye and Starting Another

I finished my Strathmore 500 Mixed Media journal this week. I felt a big sense of accomplishment as I completed the last page and looking back through the book I see that there is an incredible artistic and emotional journey contained within. No wonder it feels so good.

This is the first piece in the book.

And this is the last.

There's been a lot of growth in between.

So now I've started a new journal, smaller & hand made for me by a dear arty friend with lots of different types of paper. It's already filling with faces, creatures, textures & colours.

And grumpy cats.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

The Other Half

I drew my mum and sent it to my dad for his birthday too. They look great together. Just like in real life.

Thursday, 11 July 2013


What started out as play in my journal became an act of homage to my wonderful Dad.

I started off by doodling in my journal using a prismacolor pencil. I had some idea that I would want to paint over it and have the colour come through the paint but that was it. This doodle evolved from a video I watched on YouTube - Peter Draws.

Gesso & sprays

Then I added gesso through a stencil to make a resist and sprayed on some Dr Ph. Martin Bombay inks. They're permanent (I add them to my own spray bottles as the come in a bottle with a dropper) so don't reactivate with new layers. I was still thinking about painting on top of this and only wanted the doodle to come through, not the background colour. I left the piece to sit at this point and went off to make a to do list.

Pencil sketch
Which is where my Dad came to mind. It's his birthday this month and I want to send him something special. A light bulb moment. I would use my newly discovered drawing skills and send him a picture.  I would draw him!

This is my pencil sketch. I really like it but there is lots of competing texture/colour that makes it difficult to see some parts of the drawing.

Outlining came next. But now the shading is lost and the outline too intense. Back to the drawing board - literally!

I decided that now would be a good time to experiment for the first time with cross hatching shading with a pen. And here's my finished piece.
My Dad
I'm going to send a print of it to my Dad and I think he'll love it but the best thing is that I learnt new and wonderful things about his face. Things that, despite knowing him for 45 years, I didn't know before. Lines for laughter, the shape of his eyes, what his ears are like. And by drawing him I am honouring him and his wonderful self. This is why I want to be able to make art. To honour people, objects, ideas and imaginings. What about you?

Friday, 5 July 2013

Classic Shading Practice & a Profile

It's school holidays here and my art has to take a back seat. I managed a couple of pieces early on in the week but have been out and about visiting the aquarium/beach/parks nearby. Plenty of inspiration for future works though.

Shading practice continues... this is a classic exercise to help understand how to shade different forms. As you can see I am very afraid of the darks. I am told this is a common problem (but that doesn't help me overcome it!). Practice is key.

And here's a profile. Her nose and the back of her hair are my favourite bits. I have a bit of pink a thing going on at the moment. Add in some collaged paper & some gesso and I'm a happy painter.

Do you have a 'thing' at the moment? Where is it taking you?

Friday, 28 June 2013

Practice is Play is Practice

I continue to practice my 'real life' sketching along with my more imagination based work. It makes my art journal look less cohesive but more whole. I think I'm OK with that... for now.

My favourite thing about this drawing (in graphite) was that my nearly 4 year old son said 'That's me!' and laughed when he saw it. That felt so good. I am not a patient artist so my shading texture is not as smooth as I'd like and next time I will try the blending tool.

This little sprite came about when I was practicing drawing (the teapot shape) but found myself adding a cheeky face without realising. I used Neocolor II on a paper collage & acrylic paint background and looking at it makes me smile. I can think of a few more objects to add faces to in the future...

I hope you made someone smile with your art this week, especially yourself!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain

Last week, after sketching quite a bit, I was disappointed in my ability to draw reality. I don't want to draw it all the time (if you read my blog you'll know this is true) but sometimes I want to put something in front of me and draw it as it is. To me.

Then I remembered a book I brought about 10 years ago that I started but never finished. 'The New Drawing in the Right Side of the Brain' by Betty Edwards. I got it out and vowed to work through every exercise to improve my realistic drawing skills.

As a 'here I am now' exercise she asks you to draw a self portrait (or selfie in 21st century) before you start the course.

This is mine.

At the time I drew it (16th June 2013) I thought it was quite good and felt fairly impressed with my skills...

This is my selfie from today.

3 days later.

Notice the difference?

If you want to improve your drawing and rendering skills I can't recommend this book highly enough. I'm off to draw another one. :-)

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Sketching Practice

After all the drawing & painting from my imagination fun and seeing how much I improved during the 8 weeks of Mermaid's Circus I've decided to work on my sketching from real life skills next. I've joined Juliana Coles's Extreme Journalism ning network and am working my way through her Field Notes course. It's all about sketching in the field then working with those 'notes' and I am really enjoying both the content and, in particular, Juliana's feedback. She is to the point and sees beyond your work with an artist's eye. And she makes you redo things if she thinks you can do better. Gotta love being pushed a bit more!

Here are some pieces I've done so far. The first one (a sketch from the other side of my street) I did 3 times before I pushed the values far enough (I have real trouble with value) to be 'allowed' to go on.

The second one was my response to the question 'What is the essential secret of the day.' I really like it, especially because I would never have attempted to draw a geranium before this course. 

And this last one is a sketch of the beach near me with a colour & a little collage added back at home. There are parts of it that give me hope I will be able to draw/sketch better in the future.

Do you like sketching from real life? Or your imagination? I think they're both important skills to be able to create pieces that make your soul sing. What about you?

Thursday, 6 June 2013

So Long & Thanks for the Fish

The Mermaid's Circus is leaving town & I am sad but so proud to have been a part of an amazing online experience.

The best bit (apart from new techniques taught by a master & amazing journal flick throughs by THE journal master) has been the facebook group. Seeing other mermaid's work and watching their journey's and stories develop has just been life changing. Without question. If you get the chance to take part in something similar please dive right in. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Monday, 3 June 2013

New Techniques

I'm learning some new techniques in a course by Kate Thompson on The Trodden Path ning network and it's giving me heaps of ideas for ways to adapt it to my own work. Kate's work is full of light and magic, there's something ethereal about all the beings that appear under her brush. If you haven't seen it before do go and check out her site at Fractured Angelics.

Here's my in progress piece in my art journal using watercolour and gesso. I really like the layered softness.

It still has a way to go but I don't think I've ever done such a great looking nose and lips before. :-)

This next one is in acrylics and I like it just as much. Don't you just love learning new things? I know I do.

Friday, 24 May 2013

A Little Bit of Fun

...mermaid related of course.
I'm really enjoying text as texture at the moment. Just starting writing on a page and filling up all the available space with my stream of consciousness thoughts. I make some close together loose lines with a pencil then use those lines to guide me. Writing really small, printing rather than cursive, I make all the letters the same size as the space between the lines. I like the effect.

What do you write in your art journal?

Friday, 17 May 2013

Treasure and the Dark

Learning. Being reminded. And pushed to try new things. That's the wonderful effect of being a part of Jane Davenport and Teesha Moore's Mermaid Circus.

We're on week 6 (with 2 weeks left after this) and I have been so inspired because we've had the opportunity to go through about an hour of video showing Teesha flicking through 15 years of her art journals. I've listened to her talk about her style and how it evolved and I just feel incredibly lucky.

It's not too late to join if you want to. Use the link on my sidebar. The lessons and inspiration are all available until the end of August and the facebook page (where we post our work and see other people's amazing pieces) is open forever.  If you're a fan of Jane or Teesha, or if you want to learn to collage better, or draw, or just trust your intuition more, it's money well spent.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

More Circus than Mermaid

I'm at the half way point of the Mermaid Circus online course and have finally started channelling the Circus part as much as the mermaids. This week I've made another hand made journal (using a kettle stitch & a wide variety of papers) and painted the cover. An accident involving water on Tombow markers has made my clown with attitude's make up run but also set the tone for the contents. I've always thought of the circus life as hiding something...
This is some Teesha Moore inspired collage with a bit of dark story too. I still don't think I've quite got her way with the cut outs but I do think using my gelli plate papers for the borders added a lot to this piece and it's something I'll be doing again.

Have I mentioned how much I love neon at the moment? My life was so DULL without it. :-)

Hope you've been shining your art light bright this week.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Upturned Faces

If you read my blog regularly you'll know I really like drawing faces from my imagination. This week is no exception, not least because I've been learning a new pose on the Mermaid's Circus course.

This was my second attempt at the upturned face and uses coloured pencil for the face and the negative print from a Crafters Workshop stencil as the background.

My first attempt didn't go well but had a lightbulb moment when I realised it was because I was trying something new AND using art supplies I wasn't comfortable with. As soon as I switched to my favourites (Prismacolors) I found the whole process much easier and enjoyable.
And here's another upturned face which is more in what I'm starting to think of as 'my style'. I really like how much depth there is on this little moon fish and the patterns created in the background make me smile. Without meaning to I made shells and other beachy stuff. My poor little moon fish is washed up on a beach waiting for a wave to come and take him back to the ocean.

I hope you found time to try something new this week. I'd love to hear what it was and what you learned.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Where Did the Week Go?

Wow, I can't believe it's Friday already, where has this week gone? Truth be told it's gone in a flurry of paint, paper, collage & other arty stuff in this house. My 3 year old has been at home all week (it's school holidays plus he's been sick) and both he, and I, have been painting & creating up a storm. Lucky me!

I'm still in mermaid land but managed to sneak in some zentangle inspired art. It was wonderful returning to this art form (which is where I originally entered the land of online art, blogs, art journaling and found my way here) and it reminded me to slow down, be in the moment and enjoy the details as it is there the story lies. For me at least.

Hope you've had time to slow down and enjoy the moment this week.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Mermaid Circus

I'm a little late posting this week because I've been having so much fun at the Mermaid Circus with Teesha Moore & Jane Davenport and a whole heap of other amazing, talented and supportive mermaids.

We've been collaging, making a mermaid book, painting & lettering and it's been fantastic.

Here are a few of the pages I've created.

I haven't integrated the two the themes much in my pieces but you should see how inventive some of the other students have been. Merelephants, juggling octopuses, clown fish... amazing imaginative stuff.

Have you been imagining this week? I do hope so!

Friday, 12 April 2013


Something's happening to my art. I can't stop doing it (I'm up to maybe two pieces a day now and no one's getting fed anymore!) and it's evolving. All the wonderful things I've learnt from the amazing teachers around, the techniques and the styles are fusing together and everything is changing. And I'm liking pretty much everything I create now.

This is what I did with that lovely moon face from last week. I'm a little fish obsessed at the moment and these moon fish just jumped out of the sea of my imagination.

This is a free painted 'marks on paper' piece that I found a face in and painted using Mindy Lacefield's shading techniques. I left the hair as the painted background again & gesso'd the rest then added Ranger Distress Stains over the top. I really like how graphic she is.
 And this is a wood nymph using similar techniques and some brayering.
Every piece I create is bringing me great joy at the moment, and closer to something I'm seeking.

I hope your art is bringing you joy too.