What colour is YOUR rainbow? LB 25

I am determined to get better at watercolours. I still struggle but at least the struggle feels like it is helping me get someplace. I decided to tackle one of the LB classes called What colour is your rainbow? and it is really all about playing with colours. One of the first things the teacher shows is a swatch thing she did with her watercolours. I had a goo but crikey – with 42 colours (leaving off the metallics) that would be over 800 combinations. I did make a start, with just one line along the left edge and every colour not from that line in the grid. It is no way all the combos, and I focused on the combos I thought would be worth doing – so four shades of yellow is a lot to swatch if two are very similar and the other two are at least close IYKWIM. And I didn’t bother with white or the colour + the colour. Duh.

I did not have a compass to draw he rainbows so I had to wing it, after the first couple of arcs.

I have tried so many pencils, drawing as light a line as I can, but I still have no luck rubbing out the lines with any of the erasers, even ones suggested, or recommended by watercolour artists. I just must have too heavy a hand. While I liked the final rainbow

those pencil lines bugged me. I had recently gotten some manuscript ink (gold) so I added fine lined of that over the pencil marks. Liked it a lot!

Slightly shaky but organic, so OK by me. I never aim for precise cause I could not achieve it. All it needed was the perfect quote:

and the shot to show the glistening gold:

I have done four classes now, and while most of them have been a bit of a challenge, I guess I am learning. So that has to be a good thing, right? My only complaint is that I am not focusing on the art than comes entirely from me. My idea. My execution. Because I own the classes I don’t HAVE to race thru them. I can take my time and dip in when I need inspiration. That sounds like a plan….


Can you resolve a blurry art journal page? Printables for you

{sigh} Yeah, I had an idea but it went badly awry. I planned to do a fairly simple art journal page in my very small Roben-Marie journal and decided to begin by stamping a large-ish Dina Wakley figure on it. I thought I had worked out a way to use my stamp positioner so I could get a dark impression on the heavily coloured base page. It did not go to plan.

The page shifted, which I should have expected, and I got a bit of a double image, as you can see. There went my plan, out the window. I won’t share the original plan, cause I am not giving up hope I can use it some time in the future. I will share how I … fixed it is not right, but how I resolved it, I guess. I added some mark-making and some watercolour and stamping to complete the background and focal point image

I decided I would embrace the blur, and find a quote that said something about the blur to complete a page. After a short hunt and a bit of reading to winnow down the choices, I came up with a small handful of quotes that I thought could all work. I began working on the text, readying it for printing and while doing so I ended up making a full sheet that I thought might be useful to others who find themselves in this predicament. Only a handful of quotes, but in different sizes, fonts, spacings, etc.

I printed the sheet and cut out some to test them. You can grab a PDF copy here. I liked the ones I tried and had kinda settled on this one:

But then I saw that the final line on the page was blurry as well! I think I pulled it out of the printed before it had finished printing! It was perfect for the page:

And there you go. The longer quote bears sharing – it is from a BBC interview with J.R.R. Tolkien:

J.R.R. Tolkien: I suppose … I was about three and a half. Pretty poignant of course, because one of the things why people say they don’t remember is, it’s like constantly photographing the same thing on the same plate. Slight changes simply make a blur.

And over the last 18 months it has all been slight changes, hasn’t it, after the massive changes the pandemic brought? Glimpses of freedom, slight easing of restrictions (some self-imposed, some mandated) and really the whole thing just feels vague and unclear. There are no defined and sharp edges. Just a slight blur to everything.

Will the world ever resolve into clarity again? We can but hope.

Leave a comment

LifeBook class – the accompanying mini-journal

So, the little “no-sew mini art journal” from the class is actually one of the one sheet zine style books. I found the istructions a little hard to follow, but maybe because I have made so many of this style booklet, some with way more pages, and I have in my head the way to make them. I looked thru that stash of rubbish and found another over-spray sheet that was A3 and decided that would be what I made my booklet out of. I used the 16 square option, to make a booklet with 16 pages/faces to decorate. I wish I could recall where I found this image, but basically, it’s this. If you recognize it, do let me know.

Again, my sheet was A3, and I have made these from many different shaped and sized rectangles

this final book is about 3 x 4 -ish.

And here is where the text, and a few other quotes from Kurt, came in to play. I messed up a page and some of the text is edited or re-arranged, but the sentiment is still there. and I love how it turned out. All the stamps are by Teesha Moore.

I spied a little bit of a clear sleeve on my desk, and fashioned that into a holder for the book – and the book will sit happily at the back of the bowl piece as a little surprise.

The quote bears repeating:

Creativity flows from deep within, a raging torrent so powerful it will destroy if kept in check, or restrained in any way.

And while I am at it, the little image on the bowl also has a good quote but it is tiny and hard to read. It says:

Sailing on the edge of creativity.

So, there you go. I learned a lot from this whole process and I found it quite useful. I made art that I love, and is uniquely my own, with only the barest influence of the original class (and the words of the letter, and the stamps – what part of using them made it mine, in putting them together in the exact way I did, is a discussion for another day LOL!) and that class was one I was dead set against even attempting. Lesson learned. I can take SOMETHING from every class, even it is is not at all what the teacher intended. And I am OK with that.

It took a long time to make this book. and my desk is littered with little stamps and all sorts of other stuff I used to make it. Time for a pre-WOYWW tidy up. Then on to the next class. I may need to do a jar, and pull the classes at random…


Life Book re-think and a new attitude

Settle in. I had a bit of a revelation when working on my Owl last week, and it all stemmed from an old letter I read, many years ago, that always stuck with me. It was a response from Kurt Vonnegut to some students who wrote to him as part of an English assignment. He was the only person they wrote to who responded, and his response was wonderful:

Dear Xavier High School, and Ms. Lockwood, and Messrs Perin, McFeely, Batten, Maurer and Congiusta:

I thank you for your friendly letters. You sure know how to cheer up a really old geezer (84) in his sunset years. I don’t make public appearances any more because I now resemble nothing so much as an iguana.

What I had to say to you, moreover, would not take long, to wit: Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.

Seriously! I mean starting right now, do art and do it for the rest of your lives. Draw a funny or nice picture of Ms. Lockwood, and give it to her. Dance home after school, and sing in the shower and on and on. Make a face in your mashed potatoes. Pretend you’re Count Dracula.

Here’s an assignment for tonight, and I hope Ms. Lockwood will flunk you if you don’t do it: Write a six line poem, about anything, but rhymed. No fair tennis without a net. Make it as good as you possibly can. But don’t tell anybody what you’re doing. Don’t show it or recite it to anybody, not even your girlfriend or parents or whatever, or Ms. Lockwood. OK?

Tear it up into teeny-weeny pieces, and discard them into widely separated trash recepticals [sic]. You will find that you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what’s inside you, and you have made your soul grow.

God bless you all!

Kurt Vonnegut

The little video a UK based school did, inspired by that response, is also worth a look:

So much of what he said stuck with me, but it took my recent experiences with Life Book to bring it all to the forefront. I had looked at the classes released so far and printed a list. I went thru that list to determine which classes I thought I might do. It was pretty bleak. There were about 60, some full classes, some bonus content (shorted classes but still full projects) and a handful of chats and well-being sessions. Knocking out all the well-being ones (far too airy fairy for me) and most of the chats, and focusing on the actual classes, there were nine that I classed as FOR SURE I would do, 10 that were likely ones and about 14 maybes. That left 17 HELL NOs. For many reasons. To be fair, some of the art in the HELL NOs was stunning, but not something I would do. In some cases the projects as shown were just not at all to my taste. But that letter was still swirling around in my head. And in a kind of big bang of creativity, I took a HELL NO class and ran with it.

The class called for some of that plaster-of-paris infused gauze they use to make casts for broken bones so I had to really re-imagine the whole class from the jump. Instead I began with a series of graduated rings cut from cardboard, stacking them into a sort of bowl like structure:

I covered that with a bunch of torn up lightly spotted with paint paper towel, to give it the feel of the original.

From there, I used mop-up paper towels, quite colourful, to cover the bowl rather than the original paint job and grabbed some gift tissue paper with big gold dots on it to add some sparkle.

At this point I was well and truly gong down the use-my-rubbish road and I began auditioning some of the pick-up/waste papers to use to cover the board this bowl will be mounted to:

You can see the addition of the gold dots there – love that. In the end I went with the same paper towel I used to cover the bowl. I thought it might be too samey-samey but in the end I loved it:

So much texture and the colours are very varied and interesting:

My plan had been to use the black, gold edged circle with wings behind the bowl

but in the end it detracted from the look rather than enhancing it. There were some other final touches that I really liked, like the way you add a dangle of beads to the sides of the canvas to create a hanger across the back. Something to file away for later, for sure:

The final is something that I could not have envisioned from the original class sample, but somehow, that big bang set off by the letter from Kurt sent me down a just do it path and it ended up like this:

I love it. I have dithered and dithered about whether or not to add a shot of the original project and in the end I think it is impossible to see how far from it mine is without doing that. I don’t think there is enough in the photo to give away much about the process (which I pretty much ignored anyway) but it is needed for the contrast:

I think you can see an echo of the original, and it definitely inspired my piece, but they really look nothing alike. And THAT is the point. I just need to follow the guidance from Kurt.

Practice any art, … no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.

I’mma gonna do that! And maybe move some of the HELL NO classes over to at least the MAYBE column.

The other part of the class was a small folded mini-journal. It is a very simple version of the one-sheet booklet and again, I went my own way on that. I’ll have to share that tomorrow, cause this is already way too long. Again, I went at least slightly off on my own on that and that letter plays an even bigger part in that section of the class. And then, cause my desk is a wreck, I need to tidy up for WOYWW…again!


That LB Owl is done and…

…I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it either. I used a plethora of supplies and some of them, especially the watercolour pencils, were a disappointment. I’ve never really used the pencils but the ones I have are cheap and not very pigmented. They seem quite … waxy, really.

Anyway, I wish I had grabbed a shot of the piece when it had just the first of the watercolour work on it, cause it was quite misty and nicely blended and I really liked it at that point. But no, I carried on and added all the extra stuff the class had and since I am pretty crap at doodling, I didn’t really like it. Having said that, I like it better in the photo than I did at first.

It’s not AWFUL, and looking at the gallery for others who have done the class, I feel like it sits kinda in the middle on the Good –>> Less Good scale (IMHO only.) But it doesn’t make me super happy either. I was thinking back on an….essay? No, that’s not right, a letter, I remember reading a few years back from a famous author to a group of school kids about art. I’ll find it. The lessons in it always stuck with me and having that swirling around in my head informed my next decision, as well as a project I have begun, from another LB class.

So, yeah, my lettering was a bit crap, partly because my Posca black fine-nib pen does need replacing and I tried to be brave and do it with the wide nib. Bad idea. Anyway, it says what it needs to say and even if it is something I will flip past quickly as I page thru my journal, it is an important step in my Life Book journey, I think. And I’ll share more on that when my project is done.

Tomorrow, if I get another experiment done today, I will share a substitute for a retired product that might work out ok. Not holding my breathe, but I have something coming in the mail I am anxious to test out. And then, for the summer, I am 100% taking Sundays off for a breather. I might have to resurrect Sunday-Someplace-Else, where I would highlight something I found that really inspired me or made me smile or I just thought was cool.

Leave a comment

The Happy Owl – Lifebook again.

I am determined. Like I mentioned, I quite liked my Quirky Bird so I thought I would try the Happy Owl. This is a much more realistic (but still not actually realistic IYKWIM) bird and as ever, the teacher is amazing at guiding you thru the drawing – although she also adds a traceable PDF as well. This is honest to god, my first attempt, right in my journal. You can tell because it is really a little too far over to the left, but I like all the rest of it so I am not going to erase and re-do. For me, this is a pretty good effort!

The first thing was to select my colours. The teacher used something called analogous- complementary colour scheme that she says is less well-know. So much less well-known that there is not a lot of info out there. It looks basically like you take your three analagous colours then take the compliment from directly across the wheel. Once again, her colours may be the very best choices, warm orange, peach and red plus a lovely blue-green teal. So I (obviously) had to find another colour combo. I have been quite drawn to purple and lime recently but that didn’t go great with the journal page so I just picked out colours I liked, that had some contrast, with the idea I could tweak them as I paint. I used the Kuler colour wheel tool to do it. A couple of options, close to the original but not exact. Can’t decide which I like better:

There is a whole exercise that has a bunch of the airy fairy new-age-y stuff that irks me and she does say feel free to ignore it.

Listen to your higher self/ inner wisdom or ‘the wisdom of the owl’ when answering your questions.

The idea is that we imbue the painting with our intentions and for the owl to safeguard and support our intentions for the year.

I’mma gonna do that. Ignore it, I mean. I am at the point where I have collected my supplies (pan watercolours and pencils) and I am ready to crack on. And I am terrified I’ll squander my good start. I am torn between doing a test version on another sheet of paper, to see if my colour combo works well, and just going for it. If I were more confident with watercolours I would know which way to go. Maybe just swatch the colours using my watercolour set and see? That seems like a plan!

Really, it shouldn’t be so darn HARD should it? So I made a start but not sure if I am heading in the right direction yet. It is maybe looking to o similar to the original. Oh well.


Another LifeBook class, and satisfying an MME challenge too

Gotta love when you can make something do double-duty, right? I opened another LifeBook class and it was the thing that sets my teeth on edge. The class was for creating a charm for the year. I don’t buy in to all the “cast your dreams to the universe and the universe will provide” malarky so I knew I was going to struggle. It was all a bit airy fairy for sure, especially when I read the bit about creating a SIGL. The only reference to that I can recall is in fantasy books where the sigl is the symbol of a clan or group (pretty sure I heard it in GoT at some point too) and I figured I’d google it for more info. That led me to a You Tube video about witchcraft (!) and implied that creating the sigl was “magiks” and that added another layer of weird to the whole thing.

Soldiering on, I followed the instructions for creating “my sigl” based on an affirmative present tense sentence then crossing out the vowels and every duplicate consonant and (shifting to the instructions for a video rather than the class) matching the remaining letters to a number according to the alphabet laid out in a number-grid, THEN assigning the number a dot on a circle and connecting those dots with curved lines. I came up with something that is meant to represent my positive sentence to the universe. Right. I didn’t hate the IMAGE, but then I like palmistry images, and goddess images, and all sorts of new age-y image. I just don’t care for the self-obsessed belief system behind it all. That’s just me.

The arty part is where I covered a cardstock circle with tin foil, and with the stencil (actually that guide for rock painting I already mentioned) embossed with UTEE gold. The little Teesha Moore figure on wheels that I found as I was trawling thru my stash, looking for a focal point. It made a phrase pop in to my head – more on that later. The stamped figure is painted with some metallic watercolours and I assembled the layers with the “sigl” created for the class sandwiched inside.

The whole time I was assembling it, all I could think of, the only thing that was in my mind, was not my positive affirmation but the line from Blazing Saddles (mis-quoted from the older Treasure of the Sierra Madre) adapted for the exercise, Sigls? We don’t need no stinking’ sigls! (Note: the line from TotSM is actually Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges. I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges! and that is your obscure bit of movie trivia for the year)


So what do I do with this? Having done the work to complete the exercise it seems silly to just ignore it, so my way to deal with this sort of thing is to include it, but hide it. And mock it, cause that’s how I roll. And THAT was the other text that needed to be included

The “charm” has layers. The layer that has the image is one side, the movie quote is the other side, but I sandwiched the sigl in between. It is there, even if I am making fun it on the surface. Cause that is totally how I roll, like it says.

I enjoyed the process and like the piece, and so long as I can set aside the parts of the classes that don’t speak to me (OMG! what is wrong with me?) that don’t appeal to me, then I will probably find something in each class (ok, I did look at a lot of them and no, not every class, for sure, but many)that I can do and make the cost of the course worthwhile.

Just slap me, digitally, if I seem to be slipping in to the whole self-centered, goddess and moon and witchy and neo-paganism new age….stuff. I will totally deserve it.


LifeBook warm-up done and a tip about gel medium

Well, I soldiered on. And I finished, but am I happy with the end result? Maybe.

Yesterday I was a t a place where I could have stopped but I still needed to add a few layers. I began with some dark purple ink drips.

That, and more stamping and stencilling, added back a lot more darkness and chaos. But I decided not to give up on the adding-white-back idea

and added some creamy white brush and brayer bits then a bunch of finger-dots of brighter yellows and creams. Of course I didn’t grab an in-between shot, but I did grab a shot of the printed elements that would top the page – I had exactly three stamps of bees, in graduated sizes, so I went with those.

I was looking at words that focused on a journey, with purpose

and in the end decided on:

Quest. The quote is meant to shown that a journey that is a quest is not meant to be a short one. It requires many steps, much distance and input from many sources.

Do I love it? Probably not. But it says what I want it to say, if works pretty well as a warm-up, and that is really all it is meant to do. It taught me a little more about how I “follow” a class and maybe how I might do so differently in the future. And it made me look at the LifeBook classes and review the ones so far to really assess any that even vaguely appeal, to see if I could do them and either learn something, or make something I like. The jury is still out on that one.

Oops. Almost forget! The tip about gel medium is this. I was running out of my usual matt medium and when I went looking (at the height of the pandemic) for some online, I found the only thing available where I already had money to spend, was extra heavy gel medium.

It is, I think, meant to stick quite weighty things, like my mate Debbie would use for her art. But I found that a large tub like this could be used slightly watered down in my smaller tub as normal consistency gel medium OR watered down even further to a more liquid consistency to be used as a glue, like I used for sticking intricate die cuts with the gel plate or added to a fine-tipped bottle for use as normal glue. Because it is matt and dries clear it is a really great option for sticking things where the glue might seep out and mar your project. The cost of this big tub, whgich I have had for 18 months at least and have not made a dent it, was way less than the cost of the multiple tubs of normal weight matt medium that I would have used in the same time frame. My frugal tip of the week! Hope it is useful.

WOYWW tomorrow!


Did a Lifebook warm-up….finally

I have mentioned before that I bought the Lifebook classes, against my better judgement after reading if you don’t like portraits this may not be for you. On one level I thought I should push myself to try something I am not a fan of and am not good at. I decided at the very last minute of the “discount” period (althought I found later that if I had used my American credit card to buy it it would have been cheaper still – why is THAT?) so not really in the best place for making a rational decision. And pretty soon after the classes flowing I was totally Yeah. Nah. It was a huge mistake and next year I will be sure to look at Wanderlust, which is, I think, more art journal/abstract art focused and less airy fairy. I am very much NOT into the mystical/goddess/self-love (that sounds so … not what they mean when they say it LOL!) crap that I find it hard to take the whole thing seriously. On the plus side, the organizer, Tam, does art that I admire. The Quirky Bird I did from her taster session is not brilliant but it is the first of this type of thing I have done that I actually liked.

I wasn’t keen on totally wasting the money for the class, so I opened up the warm-up session and had a go. I was feeling like I was very out of practice with the whole art journaling thing anyway, so it has been a hard slog. To begin with, the colours are the ones that EVERYONE seems to be fixated on (turquoise, magenta and another) maybe because they are good ones, but I never want to just follow a class that closely. So it’s a pain – if the class uses really great colours, my nature makes me rebel and use “other” colours that maybe don’t work as well IYKWIM. So first, I did the collage bit:

and I wanted to get that sort of warm green from the book page of herbs, so I grabbed some black and yellow. What was I thinking?

I kinda got that muddy green-y olive-y colour and felt like I needed to get some light back in there. Adding the gesso in the next step helped a bit:

and the stenciling of the lighter, brighter yellows was good too. I love that one stencil, which is actually one from a set designed for rock painting.

I kinda think at this point it might have been a good place to stop but I wanted to add a nice bright pop of colour so thinking on the Mixed Media Emporium challenge and contrasting colours, I went with a violet. I used a technique I have done before, of painting on to a plastic bag and tapping colour onto the page, then using the little kids PlayDoh cutting wheel to get some very fine lines onto the page by running it over the back of the bag, transferring only a line of the nearly dry paint

From here I have NO IDEA where to go. The original page uses butterflies – and yeah, even I have done them to death, so I need to find another image I am happy with, as well as a quote/word that communicates … something that I want to say about the whole process/class.

At the end of the day, my stuff, when I try to follow a class, always ends up being way more grungy and chaotic than either the class depicts or I intend.

We are into something like week 14 (although that includes a tone of “bonus” or smaller lessons, so there are 25+ classes) and there are only 2 or 3 more that I actually think I might try. I sound petulant, and I am in no way disparaging the art shown. Some of it is truly stunning, even if it might not be to my own personal taste. I am more critical of my own thought and decision-making processes that anything else. I am now going to do what I should have done before buying the class – take a moment to breathe before carrying on and moving forward, unthinkingly.


Leave a comment

Little Boxes art journal page

I am still doing my best to do the Mixed Media Emporium FB challenges and the one from July I didn’t yet manage was the Tone-on-tone one. I also have not played with my Dina Wakley goodies for a bit so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and use the gloss sprays in all the blues for the challenge.

I went back to that odd HiTi paper (that I have a ton of) and when mad with the sprays, adding in a bright blue from the set I got from Lidl – plain acrylic, not gloss – and a spritz of alcohol at the end:

I stuck the labels in my small journal to make a page. The Dina stamp had words on it that didn’t fit my theme so I added the printed text, except the word laughter, which fell nicely in with the words I wanted to add, sort of.

The quote is from The Little Prince and is said by an adult who feels more kinship with how a child views the world than how other adults do (or that’s my take on it anyway :D) – it was either this or the Pete Seeger lyric about “little houses all made out of ticky-tacky” and a comment on suburbia, which might have worked back home in the DC suburbs, but from my little Dorset town, not so much…

Oh it does feel good to get back to pure play and I find challenges helpful as a jumping off point to rev my engine. New challenge, two videos today in the group so I will watch them and see. Perhaps this will be my weekend share moving forward….