Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Singapore Surprise!

Thanks to a very dodgy old laptop, I  couldn't post to tell you we have been to - wonderful Singapore!  Some of you will know this is not our first trip :)  Singapore is a place that we both feel so comfortable and at home. We haven't had a holiday, or any break for a long time,  so when the opportunity unexpectedly arose,  we had to take it!

This trip was especially great as we met some of my on-line artist friends! I belong to a great Facebook artists group,  and several friends there are also  members of the Urban Sketchers,  who some of you may be familiar with. These lovely people made space in their busy lives to take us out and generally spoil us! I was fortunate enough to be taken  sketching,  and also have a wonderful  tour of the amazing art shops in the city. We were both made so welcome,  and had a truly fantastic time.

This is me,  receiving a copy of Urban Sketchers Singapore's book,  We love Tao Payoh  as a gift from my friend and super talented artist Patrick Ng.  With me is the lovely Chris Ng ( no relation!) and Tony Chua, (in the wonderful hat!). I also had another wonderful afternoon sketching,  and learning a lot from the great artistry of Francis Theo. Thank you  all again,  you are such a fantastic bunch of people.

OK,  here's a quick taster of our trip,  I'll post more photos once I have sorted  them out, but I  took over 700!

The stunning Gardens by the Bay,  with the Cloud and Flower Domes and some of the SuperTrees. Garden loving friends, it is indeed out of this world,  and I know you will want to see more!

The amazing hotel at Marina Bay Sands. 56 floors up and the most incredible views from the Observation deck. ( I would not want to stay there though,  even if I had the money;  it is incredible,  but way, way too high for me!) I had to see it though :).

 Stunning flowers.....
everywhere.

 Light and laser show in Marina Bay - all free!

SEA Life Aquarium 
Fascinating and beautiful.

And so much more. Hope you're all well and happy, I'm looking forward to catching up with all my blogging friends soon!x

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Making watercolour journals

I'm going to be somewhere very different for the next 2 weeks! To prepare I've been making these little watercolour paper blank journals.

 Front view
 Back view
Inside, each of the pages folds out to make a bigger spread.There's a great tutorial  which shows you how to do this here

 Another one from the inspirational Cathy Johnson here.
 These are so easy and fun to do, and would work with any paper.

I hope they will look a lot less blank in 2 weeks! Can you  guess where I'm going? There is a big clue in the fabric!:)  I'm really excited as I didn't think I would be making the trip again,  and it's all rather a wonderful surprise. I'll try and post soon from my secret location! Meanwhile I hope you're all having a very happy spring.x

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Making a Fabric Animal Character come to life:Part1


I hope all of you who celebrate have had a very Happy Easter, or Spring festival break. We had a few spells of glorious sunshine here, but mainly, it rained. It's still quite warm though, and the birds don't seem to mind, they're still singing gloriously.  The fairy blue haze and scent of bluebells fills the wood and there's been much activity and digging at the badger sett.

 
This  inspired me to start thinking about bringing  a new character to life, and I thought  you might like to see the progression of a new creation.

First, I delve into my design sketchbook. This is full of very scruffy/scrappy sketches, notes, thoughts and ideas. Many of these are put in last thing at night or scribbled at odd times when I'm inspired!


When I've decided which animal/character I want to work on,  I begin to research  my subject more thoroughly. Then, I make some preliminary sketches, notes and doodles, to try and get a 'feel' for who I want to create.

Once a picture is forming in my mind of the final character, I start thinking about how I can simplify the form to create a 3D replica in fabric. This part of the process usually involves a lot of mind changing as things don't work evolve!

After I am clearer how I can make a three dimensional figure - and how it will work with costuming/accessories etc, I begin to work on ways to fit the shapes together. This is a very flexible process, I don't create a 'formal' pattern, (unless it's going to be used by other people) or use graph paper or computer software, as I find them too restrictive.

I start playing about with the pieces on scrap paper. Quite often I just cut into my pattern pieces and alter the shapes as I go!


Now I'm at the stage to start roughly piecing in fabric, and thinking about joints and stability. All  my characters are designed to be tactile, and usually positionable, so they must be robust.
I constantly think about fabrics, materials, and the personality of the final character. Often my ideas change as he/she 'grows',  but that is part of the fun! You've probably guessed by now what sort of animal this is going to be - but his/her character is still a mystery!

Just for a further tease - I found a number of things on my walk through the wood,  common cockle shells dropped by gulls,  a lovely, brick red coloured, brown lipped snail shell, and a fragment of a blackbird's egg. I decided to paint them in my journal, and I think some of them will become part of my mysterious  new friend!


I'd love to know how others work. Do you keep a sketchbook or journal? Or do you have other methods of recording and remembering your creative journey and putting projects together?x

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Welcome Hare

 This is my new hare, little Welcome!  He has a very important job.


Every morning he's up before the sun with his cleaning tools.
He carries a little crocheted cotton cloth in his pocket.

  In his right paw is his special, gentle brush, made of the softest reeds.


 In his left, he carries his rusty old pail, which is always full of sparkling dewdrops.
Welcome dusts and polishes the flowers as they wake, and freshens them up with a dewdrop jewel.


 He's been doing this for a very long time,  so his clothes are rather worn.  but he's very  proud of his stripy red dungarees and wouldn't change them for anything. They smell of morning coffee and spices too, which he likes very much!

He's very proud of his job,  but when he's finished he loves to take a long rest and a well deserved snooze!




 He's a thoughtful and loving little hare - but  he's also very friendly and sociable. When it comes to playtime he can be quite mischievous, and has  a lot of adventures!

For now though he's happy to sit and have his photo taken and say 'Hello' to everyone!



Welcome is made entirely with natural products and is hand painted with watercolour paints.  He will be in my on-line shop in June with his personal story scroll and carrying bag! 
Wish me luck please, I am finally taking the plunge to put my characters,  patterns and embroidery designs for sale!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Playing around - simple DIY printing

The last couple of weeks have been frantically busy,  both work and home/family-wise. I also succumbed to a sinus infection which put me out of action for a few days, after which, rushing to get everything done  I felt I was meeting myself coming  backwards. But - the mindfulness/gratitude strategy is slowly sinking in. Instead of panicking (my usual strategy) I realised I needed to take things a bit more steadily and further playtime was necessary! In place of stitching today I decided to have some fun with paint.

This is so good for me - I really don't do messy - and I find it hard to play and push back  my neat and tidy comfort zone! (Himself  says I  am Monica from 'Friends!') Sadly he's not wrong,  I do tend to work in a detailed and controlled way,  so loosening up play times aren't natural to  me, but I'm learning!

I was very impressed with my friend Alison's Gelli Plate for mono printing. I didn't think I'd really use one enough to warrant buying my own,  but  it did inspire me to try a few DIY printy things,  without spending a lot of money.

First I picked some leaves from the garden,  sloshed a mix of Artist's watercolour paints on the back and pressed them onto watercolour paper - using a kitchen towel.


This was really fun!  I tried a few more watercolour prints in my journal on cartridge paper. (These are St Petersburg White Nights watercolour paints which I love.)


Then I got out my fabric scrap bag and tried using acrylic paint onto calico. First I tried some Jacquard Textile paint. I really like how these buddleia leaf prints turned out.


 Flushed with success -  I made up a rough plate using a piece of mat board with some acetate stuck on it  - to see if it would work. I didn't have a brayer, so used a natural sponge to apply the paint (just cheap acrylic craft paint to which  I added some fabric painting medium.(All very high tech!)


Pretty rough and ready, but it worked ok!

I don't have any stamps, so I drew into the paint using a rubber tipped art tool,  then laid fabric scraps over the design and lightly rubbed. These are the results:

 


Not too bad for a first attempt,  and these are much more free and expressive than how I normally work.  I think I may try a thick silicon mat for a base,  as it will have more spring and flex - and get a proper brayer! Anyone got any tips or suggestions for other DIY/recycled tools and equipment to share -  or more fun ways to play with printing?

I'm going to take some of these prints and see how I can develop them a bit more too.x