Friday, 9 May 2014

How Copying Someone Else Helps Your Art Grow

This week I've had the pleasure of painting along with the lovely Danielle Donaldson in her online class creativeGIRL: the land of light and shadows. I followed my tried and tested formula for online classes as follows:

1. Copy exactly what the instructor offers for at least 2 projects.
2. Play with any materials they use that appeal to me in a non-structured/non-results orientated way in my journal.
3. Don't do any art for at least 24 hours.
4. Come back to my journal and use at least one of the techniques and one of the materials from the online class with the materials I love to use and a subject I love to paint.

This picture is the result. I think it might be my most favourite piece yet... and I can see lots of potential improvements.

Do you join online art classes? How do you make what you learn there your own?

Thursday, 1 May 2014

How to Use Water Based Inks to Create a Bright Background

After I posted my 'She Wore Flowers in Her Hair' piece a fortnight ago, a few people asked me how I used spray inks and managed to keep them so bright, clear and 'unmuddied'. So I did a video. Where I actually TALK! This is a big thing for me.

I hope you like the piece I created.

I hope you enjoy the video, learn something useful, and are inspired to create your own bright background.

If you'd like to read more about my technique you can visit my Lulu Art Design Team post for more details.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Drawn to Flowers

Everywhere I look at the moment I'm seeing flowers. Despite the fact it is autumn here in the southern hemisphere and the days are getting colder. Or maybe because of that... sometimes the Australian summer is just too hot to do anything but wilt.

Hibiscus are out on full parade,beautiful white/pink/magenta camellias too. And those showy bird of paradise flowers. So tropical looking. So fabulously gaudy!

So I've been enjoying creating some floral inspired pieces in my art journal. Which I've actually completed the last page of today. I love that feeling. Especially when I've made the journal myself.

Back to the flowers though. Two very different pieces here. One illustrative in nature and one more abstract. I enjoyed creating them both.

The first one uses twinkling H2Os on an ink/stencil background that I've then added a quote from Matisse too. I used a black and white vector image of an hibiscus as inspiration for the flower shape. I find I try to make things too complex when I draw from life so while I'm learning how to simplify things this works as a great short-cut. I'll be using some techniques from this piece in my next video for Lulu Arts.

And this is my other more abstract piece. It's pure watercolour (except for a little pencil left over from the sketch) and the first time I've ever really used this medium on its own. I hope you can see it's inspired by Georgia O'Keefe and Danielle Donaldson - I will definitely be doing some more work like this again.

Because I was so afraid (!) of doing this piece badly I actually did it on the scrappy/messy back of my hand made journal (that's why those red spots are in the middle at the top). The process (of going slowly and leaving things to dry) is a long way from my usual 'slap it down and move on' methods but I really do love the transparency (see many previous posts) of watercolour and want to keep trying.

And I am not unhappy with this first result despite its many faults. :-)

Do you love watercolours? Do you have any tips to share? What's your favourite flower?

Saturday, 19 April 2014

She Wore Flowers In Her Hair

I am an avid reader (when I'm not painting/creating) and this quote is from one of my favourite books - The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.

At one point during the creating of this page my 4 year old son said to me 'Has a rainbow been sick in your book Mummy?'. Oh how I laughed... and got the gesso out!

I posted this in Joanne Sharpe's facebook group for her book 'The Art of Whimsical Lettering' because I was so pleased with the way the quote came out (and my courage to put it on the page!) and several people asked questions so, in case you have the same ones, I'll leave my answers here too.

1. The butterflies in the background come from the original paper. I used a piece of beautiful butterfly wrapping paper when hand making the journal this piece is in. When I gesso'd it to add inks and paints I only did so thinly over the edge of the page so the butterflies are still peeking through.
2. The skin tone on the girl is created by mixing a tiny bit of watercolour  (quinacrodone rust & quinacrodone rose)  with gesso and then shading with prismacolor pencils.
3. The flowers in her hair were created with a modelling paste stencil (after all the background and face had been completed) which I then brushed diluted watercolour over the top of.

Do you use quotes from your favourite books in your work? Or have a favourite recipe for skin tones you'd like to share?

Friday, 11 April 2014

Lettering and Hafiz

As an art journaler I sometimes like to add quotes & thoughts to my pieces. But, like a lot of people, I find my handwriting messy and quite often end up resorting to using Photoshop to add words.

Like this.

I made the background using glimmer mists and Dr P.H. Martin Bombay inks (which are permanent) along with stencils, some acrylics, gesso and modelling paste.

Afterwards I scanned it and added the quote with Photoshop.

I loved the process of making the background but I felt like I'd cheated with the words.

Then my copy of Joanne Sharpe's new book - The Art of Whimsical Lettering arrived.

It's packed full of ideas and exercises to help with your lettering so I set to straight away and began practising, practising, practising.

And after a few days I felt confident to try another quote from Hafiz on a background I'd made at the same time as the previous one.

I didn't cheat. And it turned out OK.

Do you like your writing? What books have inspired you to try something you were afraid of? What have you practised every day and then felt able to try?

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Live Love Surf

This week I made my first youtube video of my painting process. Actually it was my first youtube video ever.

This is the piece I painted.

And this is the video.

I created this piece for my friends at Lulu Art Mixed Media Supplies in Australia. If you take the time to watch it I hope you learn something interesting and enjoy watching my process.

In my journal this week I've been playing with quotes and birds. This one is words by Hafiz, text by Photoshop and background by me.

I really have to work on my hand lettering. I wish I could write this kind of thing myself but my writing never looks this good. Practice no doubt will make a huge difference...
Have you caught the happy virus this week?

Friday, 28 March 2014


I've been doing a lot of thinking this week. There are some new things happening in my life that are taking me in a direction I've barely imagined for a long time. It's awesome, but also a little daunting.

I found it very useful to use my art journal to write some difficult things down before I covered it all in paint & collage. Then when I looked at the jumble I'd created I found this thoughtful soul.

Does art journaling help you see things differently/clearly? What do you do when you have stuff you need to think about?

Friday, 21 March 2014

Fragility and Flowers

I've wanted to be able to draw/paint flowers for a long time but I never seem to have the patience to get in all the detail they seem to need.

However, it struck me this week that they didn't have to be that complicated to still get their fleeting fragility (which is what they symbolise to me) onto the page. As I've been feeling pretty fragile all this week it seemed a good time to try a different approach.

Instead of trying to capture every crinkle, every shadow, I've gone for something much more illustrative and simple. Using acrylic ink & a dip pen to create an outline, I drew the basic contour onto a pre prepared layered background. Then, after the ink had dried, I went in with Twinkling H2Os and used wet on wet to get a mottled  textured petal coverage. Of course they don't look 'real', but I do think it's kept the fragility that the flowers represent to me so I'll definitely be trying this more.

The quote is from Alice in Wonderland. When I read the book as a young girl I always knew the flowers who say the words were referring to girls like me.

Do you have any tips for drawing/painting flowers? Or any special symbols for how you're feeling now?

Sunday, 9 March 2014

A Little Bit Crazy

It's been a lot crazy round here the last few weeks and I think it's only the start. My parents are visiting from overseas, I've done an intensive training course and exam (which I passed) for a new consulting business, and I'm now part of Lulu Art's design team. It's pure magic.

Lulu Art is an awesome online mixed media art supplies shop here in Australia and the choice of products is incredible. And I'm not just saying that because I'm part of the design team. The owner is an artist/art journaller herself and really knows the kinds of products we all love.

I haven't had much time for art in amongst the crazy but managed to put this piece together for a round robin journal swap I'm doing. This is a photo because I can't get neon to scan - if anyone knows how to please leave full instructions in the comments.

Do you still feel young and wild and a little crazy? If so we're in good company together. :-)

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Happy Valentine's Day

How unique to this human experience that we all just wish to be the most important thing on Earth to someone else. - Tyler Knott Gregson

I hope you're someone's most important thing today and every day.

Here's a free printable valentine I created just for you.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Finding My Style

Did I find it? Or has it found me?

This week I went absolutely mad painting and creating. The 'what shall I create' is gone (for now) and I can't get the paint down fast enough. I created at least 10 pieces despite the fact that I work 4 days a week. Adults did not get fed.

Mindy's video on the artstronauts is what pushed me. It made me see what I like in her work in particular (but in other artist's too) and for the first time be able to articulate it, replicate it and have the skills to bend it to my own way of doing things.

These are the things I love

Transparent water media (distress stains, water colour, tombow markers).
Quinacridone colours (transparent)
Gesso (transparent again)
Texture stamps (on paper = opaque, on the piece = transparent)
Neon (we aleady knew that!)
Tissue paper (transparent again)
Glimmer mists (glitter AND transparent)
Washi tape (transparent)
Prismacolor pencils (transparent the way I use them)
Layers (transparent)

Are you seeing the theme? :-)

What realising this has done is given me a way to create a background (which I always struggled with) that has all the things I love in it so I can concentrate on improving my drawing/painting skills. And my work has a cohesiveness that was missing before.

Friday, 31 January 2014

A Sprinkle of Me

Last week I posted that I'd had a revelation about what might be my style. The next moment I had I rushed to my journal and created this.

A touch of Teesha Moore... a smidgen of Mindy Lacefield... a pinch and a half of Jane Davenport and a sprinkle of me...

Then I got sick. And so did my son. So I couldn't paint, I couldn't create. I had to rest. I had to pause. For 5 whole days.


Friday, 24 January 2014

The Artstronauts & Mindy Lacefield

Have you heard of The Artstronauts Club? Run by Teesha & Tracy Moore? It's an amazing hang out where beautiful people share their tips/tricks and creative inspiration and I'd happily spend all day hanging out there if I didn't have a job to do!

This week the gentle and lovely Mindy Lacefield posted a video where she created a journal page and  her process totally lit my creative fire. I literally pulled out my journal and created 4 pages, one after the other in a fabulous art filled afternoon.

Afterwards, when I caught my breath, I had a revelation about what my 'style' might be.

Watch this space.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Quick Sketch

I love neon. And hats. And looking at shadow shapes. And getting things done!

Quick 10 minute sketch from a magazine picture with my neon aquamarkers and this is the result.

Lots of fun!

Friday, 10 January 2014

How Far?

I'm not a big fan of comparisons. Especially in the creative world. If you try to compare yourself with other artists/writers/singers/actors/creatives you are never comparing apples with apples because you're trying to compare your life (that's what creativity is) to someone else's.

But comparing your own work is a whole different ball game. Then you can see how far you've come. Then you can see that you do improve and that you do change. And that's pretty awesome.

Picture on the left Jan 2nd 2013. Picture on the right Jan 2nd 2014.

Now, I'm not saying I've mastered it all (will I ever be able to draw a nose!... or hair!) but I can see the journey and that's good enough for me.

What about you?