Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Catch up time

I have really lost the knack for this whole blogging lark - as in I have no idea what to actually WRITE - but here are some pretty pictures of stuff wot I have been doing recently....

First of all, over there on the left, I'm pretty proud of this one.

It's a painting of Matthew the Raven (from the Sandman comics) - he took me months as he’s a big old fella (about 5 feet tall, see blurry pic of me below for scale) – and I thought I might never get him finished.  But I got there in the end – yay! - and I have proudly hung him at the top of the stairs.

Next up, a couple of circle journal pages:

This first one was for the Stay At Home CJ over on Collabor-Art – the theme was Mermaid Tales ….. you can see the whole gallery of everyone else’s entries here

And the second was for the Fabric CJ I’m a part of over at UKScrappers.  The theme, as you might have guessed, was cupcakes.  Very much not my usual style this one!  But I enjoyed the needle felting element, it’s always fun to get stabby!!

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Day of the Paintbrush

Well, it's a long long time since I last took part in a UKScrappers swap - but the challenge "take an old decorator's paint brush, stick a face on it, and decorate it Day of the Dead sugar skull style" was just too tempting to pass up!!

So here's an in progress pic:

(the skull was sculpted from air dry clay)

And here, after many hours doodling with my trusty Posca paint pens, is the end result:

This will go in the post this week, I hope his forever owner likes him and doesn't find him too creepy!

Monday, March 03, 2014

Another circle journal update....

I've done a couple more CJ entries since the last time I blogged, so for the sake of completeness, here they are (apologies this won't be a wordy post, I am soooooo tired and my bed beckons :) ):

This one had a Shakespeare theme, so I did a portrait of Titania and her beloved Bottom from A Midsummer Night's Dream

The theme for this one was Innocence and Experience....

And finally, this month's "Bestitched" fabric CJ entry - the theme was 'bejewelled' .... which made me think of jewel toned fabrics and sari silks, and paisley motifs....

So I hand cut a paisley stencil (fiddly little bugger!):

And then sewed together strips of fabric in jewel tones as a base for the stencilling:

A smattering of sparkles finished it off

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Circle Journal catch ups

I haven't blogged since last September??? Blimey!  Didn't realise it had been that long!

So - anyway - here's a catch up on my current CJs

First up, my first entry for a new fabric based CJ taking place over on UKScrappers.  My theme is tattoos, and I've asked each participant to make a 8" x 8" mini art quilt:

That blooming swallow took me two weeks to embroider, and not all the stitching is perfect, but I am fairly pleased with the end result.  I look forward to the next six months, some of the themes are going to be a bit of a challenge for me I think, but that's why I enjoy CJs, I like being forced out of my comfort zone a bit.....

Next, and I'm not sure why I haven't blogged any of these already, I've been taking part for the last few months in a very different kind of CJ over at Collabor-art.  It's called a Stay At Home CJ, and the basic premise is that each person taking part has made a background, and chosen a theme - we all have been sent colour copies of the ten backgrounds, and each month we all work on the same background, to the same theme, blind.  There's a big reveal at the end of each month of what everyone did.  And the big plus points are that 1) there's no postage costs or the worry of things getting lost in the post and 2) you get to keep all your artwork

Here are my entries to date, and links to the Collabor-art posts for each month so you can see what everyone else did from the same starting point:

Month 1, theme "for the love of trees":

Original background, by Lou
My entry - the quote is Emily Bronte if I remember rightly
Full gallery here

Month 2, theme "Beastie":

Background by Carmen
My entry - Cthulhu
Full gallery here

Month 3, theme "steampunk":

Background by Pat
My entry - this was a 2 layer hand cut stencil which rather annoyingly fell apart on first use, so this is a one off!
Full gallery here

And last one for now (I'm currently working on Month 5), Month 4, theme "song lyrics":

Background by me
My entry - the lyrics are from Cochise by Audioslave
Full gallery here

Phew, that was quite the update, I'll try not to leave it so long next time....

Friday, September 27, 2013

Artful Readers Club September - Just My Type by Simon Garfield

This month for the Artful Readers Club, I read 'Just My Type' - a non fiction book about fonts.

That sounds kind of dull, doesn't it?

But it really, really wasn't!

This book genuinely is a lot of fun to read, packed full of fascinating anecdotes about the history of typography from the 15th century Gutenberg press, to the digital modern day.

It covers beautiful fonts - powerful fonts - lost fonts - functional fonts - ugly fonts - and has a whole chapter devoted to the font everybody loves to hate, poor old 

It explains why the quick, brown fox jumped over the lazy dog, and even directs you to a youtube video of the actual event

And it will leave you thoroughly font obsessed, I can promise that you'll never look at a road sign, product packaging, or newspaper masthead in quite the same way again

In short, I can thoroughly recommend this book, it's a cracking good read.

One of my favourite chapters in the book, and the part that has inspired my art page for this month, starts with these ominous words:

Good type never dies, but there is one notable exception - Doves, the type that drowned.

It tells the story of the traditional typeface 'Doves', designed in 1900 by T.J. Cobden Sanderson, who was "a real aesthete. He thought he could invent the perfect, most beautiful type" .  It is seen in action below on a page from the Doves Bible.

Sanderson formed a publishing house that printed using Doves type, but after a major falling out, Sanderson decided that he did not want his business partner to be able to use the font after he died. So he took all the cast metal letterforms that had ever been made using the Doves typeface, and he took them to Westminster Bridge and threw them into the Thames.

This took him five months, and over a hundred separate trips to the river with his heavy bags of type, a considerable undertaking for a seventy-six year old man .... he must have REALLY been in a bad mood with his partner.

"Doves was never recovered, at least not the full alphabet.  Even now it seems likely that the disintegrating typeface is stuck firm in the riverbed, resisting both dredging and the digital age, perhaps occasionally breaking free to form its own words and sentences as fortune and the molten tide allows"

My page this month is watercoloured, with black pitt pens used for the details.

And, just for this month, here's a bonus bit of digital art - in one of the final chapters of the book, the author lists a few typographical games and apps - one of which is an iPad app called 'TypeDrawing' which looked a lot of fun, so I downloaded it.

Here's my very rough attempt at a portrait of Death (from Neil Gaiman's Sandman comics), rendered in a combination of Zapfino and Verdana-Bold.  The text is one of her quotes from the comic: "For some folks death is release, and for others death is an abomination, a terrible thing. But in the end, I'm there for all of them."

This took under 5 minutes and was a breeze - I think I'll be playing around with this app quite a lot!

Next month I'll be reading 'Selling Hitler' by Robert Harris; until then, TTFN

Monday, September 02, 2013

Always be a unicorn.....

End of the month - it must be circle journal time :)

This is my entry in Karen's CJ, her theme is something along the lines of witty sayings or quotes - so here's mine:

I painted the unicorn using acrylic paints, over a metallic background made on the gelli plate

Wording was all done (not very well!) using Posca pens

I think next month is my last one for this circle, it's been fun, I'll miss it

Friday, August 30, 2013

Artful Readers Club August - Thud! by Terry Pratchett

This month sees me back in Terry Pratchett's Discworld for the first time in a very long time.  I used to devour these books as soon as they come out, but I kind of got out of the habit and now I am trailing a bit behind.

This title is number 34 in the series (and the 34th that I have read as I've gone through them strictly in order) - and so far he is up to number 40, so I'm not too far behind, I will catch up :)

One of the things that our Terry is incredibly good at, is taking a real world situation, perhaps political or to do with the economy, and handling it satirically but with great sensitivity within the fantastical (but oh so recognisable) realm of the Discworld .....

And this book is no exception - it's essentially about racism/sectarianism - and it hits some home truths along the way - but in the usual charming and witty way, so at no point do you feel preached at

The story in a nutshell - is that the anniversary of some long forgotten battle between the dwarves and trolls is fast approaching - and the city watch are expecting trouble - and this tension is further exacerbated by the murder of a leading dwarf demagogue

Commander Vimes and his motley crew therefore need to solve the murder and keep the peace, all in a day's work for Ankh-Morpork's finest...

The book was very entertaining to read, classic Pratchett (although with slightly fewer footnotes than in the earlier books, which I missed), funny, sad, thought-provoking in equal measures.

As for my artwork this month, I've kind of messed up as this will mean absolutely zilch to anyone who hasn't read the book - but I can't explain it as it relates to a pivotal scene at the end of the story, which I can't tell you as it would be a big spoiler!

So all you need to know is that is supposed to be Sam Vimes, and he REALLY wants to know where his cow is :)  Oh - and those symbols in the background are dwarvish mining signs which crop up frequently throughout the story:

Sorry to be so vague...... you'll just have to go and read the book for it all to make sense :)

See you again next month, when I'll be reviewing Just My Type by Simon Garfield

Friday, August 02, 2013

Results of an arty collaboration with my buddies....

For a while now, mentions of the Tofu Millenia mail art project have been popping up on a lot of arty blogs - clicking on the link above will take you to a Flickr group with lots of examples.  And Tofu, the artist who started the whole thing off can be found here.

Basically, the concept is that you divide a postcard up into a number of 'strata', and it gets passed around from artist to artist until it's full up.

I kind of had this pegged as something we could maybe do as a project over at Collabor-ART, and maybe we will one day, but in the meantime, one of my pals on facebook suggested we could do a round just between us buddies, and so we did!

We all chose a theme, mine was 'copper and teal' as that's one of my favourite colour combos, and we each arted up the first layer of our postcards (well, I say postcards, we actually agreed to work at a larger size, so most of the participants went for 10"x8", mine was a little smaller).  That's how mine started off up there ^

And this is it all completed, as it came home this week - it looks so cool all filled up:

From top to bottom, me, Carmen, Sami, Jo, Susan and Virginia

And here are the contributions I made to the others:

First of all, Virginia's - her theme was red and black:

I know she loves Celtic imagery, so I drew her this design, based upon an image from the Book of Kells which I have as a tattoo (I had it done back in my Uni days, a long time ago now, when Celtic tatts were all the rage, but I still like it)

Next up - Susie, who went for Steampunk as her theme:

I went for a bit of a pun .... as I don't think there's always enough 'punk' going on in the steampunk trend

Here's my layer along with the other two that had already been filled in at that point, I love how Virginia filled in that heart with loads of tiny, real watch parts:

Jo's rainbow themed postcard was next - we were allowed to choose any colour we liked, they didn't have to be in order a la Richard of York ....  I went for green and painted a pair of envious green eyes:

Next was Sami's - theme 'the motion of the ocean' - most people had gone with fish so I went with an octopus:

And here he is added to the card and embellished a bit in line with the previous additions:

And last, but certainly not least, Carmen's ace Edgar Allen Poe themed card - I was really hoping nobody else would have done something relating to the Tell-tale Heart, as that's my favourite Poe story - and I was lucky....

Here's my contribution:

The quote from the book reads "I admit the deed!  Tear up the planks!  Here, here!  It is the beating of his hideous heart!" - it's kind of supposed to look a bit like it was engraved into the floorboards but I'm not convinced it quite worked, never mind :)

Close up of the heart, smothered in a thick coat of Diamond Glaze - you can see the reflection from my window in it's shine....

I can almost hear it beating .....boom boom boom ..... ;)

And here it is in place with Carmen's poe-tastic postcard now complete:

This was a really fun project, let's do it again sometime girlies!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Artful Readers Club July - Black Coffee Blues by Henry Rollins

Back when Darcy first mentioned this very cool idea of hers – what’s that? an arty reading club?  I’m in! – she said that we should pick some books that had been lying around our house unread for ages and we just needed an extra incentive to pick them up and actually read them.  Straight away I knew that this book had to be on the list, and in fact it was the first one onto my ARC pile.  Because I had bought this title (along with its two brothers - Black Coffee Blues is the start of a trilogy by ex-Black Flag vocalist and spoken word maestro Rollins) yonks and yonks ago, but had been actively putting off reading it.  Why?  Because I knew it would be bleak, and tense, and quite frankly hard work, and I never seemed to be in quite the right mood to start it.

So thank you, ARC, for forcing my hand ....Because yes, the book was indeed bleak, and tense, and angry and testosterone fuelled, and downright depressing a lot of the time – but it was also fascinating, and enlightening, and even, in spots, funny.  Very much like a Henry Rollins spoken word gig, in fact ..... you can absolutely hear his voice as you read.

The book starts off with a section called 124 worlds – single paragraph glimpses into (mostly) pretty depressing lives.  A lot of them are kind of extreme, dealing with violence, abuse, dependence….. it’s a harrowing read.  Here’s a couple of the tamer ones:

#18: He goes to the same job every day.  He comes home to his wife every night.  they rarely touch.  They're not attracted to each other anymore.  Neither makes a big deal about it.  A few years ago, they would fight and swear that they were going to leave each other, but then they found that when it really came down to it, neither one had the courage to go out and meet someone else.  They don’t hate each other.  They are roommates waiting for death.

#26: School made him sick to his stomach because he had to fight all the time.  He never ran away from fights.  He got beat up a lot but he did win some.  It seemed like every time he turned around, there was someone in his face trying to start something with him.  He used to get up hours before school because his guts would be on fire getting ready to face them.  One great day he punched this guy just right.  A broken nose is a many splendoured thing.  This guy’s face just exploded.  It was like a rainbow – but all the colours were red.

The other main section - with the rest of the book taken up with dream diaries, poems and short essays - is Henry's tour diary from a European tour in the late 80s.  I saw the Rollins Band a couple of times on that tour, so it’s very interesting to read his journal entries from the time.  The diaries are very personal – I’m pretty sure he didn’t have publication in mind when he first wrote them, and are a real window on the mind of a touring musician – dealing with the endless parade of soulless hotel rooms, the boredom, the loneliness, but also the joy and energy of performing, which makes it all worthwhile.

So – all in all – I loved this book, but I won’t be rushing straight into reading the other two books in the series.  I want to read something happy and uplifting first :D

For the art page to accompany my review, I used part of another favourite quote from the book, our Hank really has a way with words:

"How memories lie to us. How time coats the ordinary with gold. How it breaks the heart to go back and attempt to re-live them. How crushed we are when we discover that the gold was merely gold-plating thinly coated over lead, chalk and peeling paint"

I used the Summer of Colour week 5 combo for this one - pale pink and charcoal grey - using a coral stencil for the background (I was going for the look of a brain, as Henry certainly has a big one of those, as well as a big mouth!)

Next month I'll be reading Thud! by Terry Pratchett - so I'll see you again then, my fellow ARCers!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Time for a bloggy catch up

I've neglected this poor old blog recently, haven't I....... no "Rocking Your World" or "A Year of Firsts" posts since March, and half the stuff I make doesn't get onto the blog any more either.

Sorry peeps, it's all down to wok craziness, it's been such a busy year and I've been working silly hours, so a lot of my free time activities, including keeping my blog up to date, have had to give

But anyway, enough excuses, here are a few things I've made recently that I haven't put on here yet:

First up, I've been taking part in the Summer of Color challenge this year - and a few of the bits you'll have seen already, but here are two you haven't:

Week one - colour combo Citron Green & Turquoise - I made a batch of gelli prints and then used one of them to make my dad's Fathers' Day card:

Week two - Hot Pink & Orange - I used on a CJ entry already blogged here

Week three - Lime Green & Purple - well purple always makes me think of chocolate thanks to Cadbury :)  so I used this combo for my Hollow Chocolate Bunnies book review artwork, already blogged here

Week four - Charcoal Grey & Pale Pink - I can't share that one yet as it's on the artwork for my next ARC book review, but watch this space!

Week five - Candy Apple Red & Yellow - I made something for myself to keep for a change.  I bought this wooden plaque a while ago in the Works for £1.99, and used it to make a bit of tribute fan art to the wondrous webcomic Romantically Apocalyptic

Any of you who haven't checked out RA yet - do it now!!!  Head for the archives and read it from the beginning or it won't make sense.  Well, it doesn't make much sense anyway :) But it is so funny and beautiful and just brilliant.  What are you waiting for?  go!   (but do come back here afterwards and finish reading this blog post :) )

The week six combo is looking likely to be Sage & Sepia, not sure yet what I'll do for that one....

What else haven't I blogged?  This ICAD portrait of my cat:

And this CJ entry:

(I cut that 4 layer stencil of the Krays by hand, it gave me a knife finger blister! more details over here)

I think there are probably other things I've forgotten to blog, but that's a reasonable attempt to catch up.....