Wintery wanderings

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Just a few pics of our wanderings of late. Sniffles and sore throats have kept us close to home but that’s ok, it’s nice to have the time to breath in your surroundings and winter is more of a snuggly indoors sort of season anyway.

The creek has well and truly taken on it’s winter look. All the lush green has moved from the branches to the ground in wonderful carpets of emerald moss. I still wish I lived somewhere snowy in the winter, but I love the distinct change in seasons here. The light is softer and the shadows bluer. I love smelling woodburning fires in the evening and seeing my breath in the morning. And there really is nothing better than the crisp air of a clear wintery day, especially if you find a sunny spot to curl up in like a cat. I would have made a good cat.

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In other news:

  • I’ve been really enjoying the Pinterest community lately and the wonderful new links it has thrown my way. Especially thisthis and this.
  • Over the weekend I showed my little chickens this cute clip from ‘Ride’em Cowboy’ and have had to play it again and again and again. Good job I’m a huge Ella fan!
  • Watched Garden State and Black Swan back-to-back and loved them both. Now I’m addicted to this song and have listened to it again and again and again and again. Sadly, it didn’t go unnoticed, comparisons were made and I was forced by sheer whining to remedy the shortfall quick smart! I fear my Mummy swindling days are over, either that or my cons have to get much craftier.

Water Paper Paint… Play!

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I’ve been following the work of Heather Smith Jones over at her lovely blog for quite a while, having fallen in love with the delicacy of her watercolor works and her wonderful compositions. So you can imagine how thrilled I was when she brought out a book. I couldn’t get my copy fast enough.

Now that I have it, and have greedily consumed every word on every page, I have to gush… This book is fantastic! It’s not just a dry (haha!) how-to, it offers a bunch of projects to unleash your experimental side and makes you feel like a kid with your first paint set. It’s liberating!

I also love the gallery section which showcases the work of eleven other fab artists. Some, like Geninne, are firm favorites and some are new to me; like Andy Farkas. I have a passion for hand printing and Andy uses watercolor pigments mixed with rice paste instead of the usual oil-based inks to achieve stunning watery woodblock prints. Ooooh (rubs hands together) I’d love to give that a try! – And that, and that… and that! Seems like the perfect mantra for the entire book.

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I’m really enjoying Heather’s exercises, being generally inspired and working with some new challenges. I love the natural loose texture that watercolor has. But finding just the right amount to use in a composition is a bit of a balancing act. What you leave out can often be more powerful than what you leave in. So I’ve been playing with the idea of just capturing the essence of something. Leaving out everything other than the essential. Revelling in one element rather than all. Sounds like a good life mantra too.

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Pop on over to Our Creative Spaces for tonnes more inspired peeps.

Credits | Top four images from ‘Water Paper Paint’ by Heather Smith Jones. Published by Quarry Books. |
Pgs 140-141 : September Pages and Three Little Birds by Geninne D. Zlatkis | Pgs 134- 135 : Refresh, River Study 5 and River Study 6 by Andy Farkas | Pg 155 : Layers by Heather Smith Jones | Pg 50 : Painting for Using a Colour System by Heather Smith Jones. | Images from ‘Water Paper Paint’ are used with kind permission and are subject to copyright. Thank you Heather | Bottom two images by Alisa Coburn. 

I love the postman…

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Look what he brought me today!

This is my beautiful brooch from the Flowerpress Brooch Swap. Thank you Jesse, I absolutely adore it!  Made by the hugely talented Jesse Breytenbach from Jezze Prints it has travelled all the way from Cape Town ready to be fawned over and shown off to all and sundry by me. (I will do an excellent job of that Jesse, promise.) Check out all those teeny-tiny perfect stitches and french knots! And the lovely cards all packaged beautifully … contented sigh! There’s nothing for it, now I have to find an elegant new coat to do it justice.

Susie did I mention what an inspired idea your Brooch Swap was.  : )

Smuggling

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It’s school holidays… again… where did that term go. It’s all systems go on the home front but sadly not much on the creative. We’ve started the holidays in wonderful mid-winter style, timing a couple of kid-seeking lergys with being one parent short. So until the jetsetting Mr returns and Daddy Daycare reopens I’m on a mission to get as many vitamins into our systems as possible. I’m taking on the ‘Getting a Fussy Four Year Old to Eat Greens’ Challenge. Which is the height of creativity in it’s own right.

A while ago when I saw this recipe on Morrgan’s sweet blog I swear the heavens parted and angels sang. It was bookmarked at the speed of light. It’s got heaps, literally heaps, of zucchinis smuggled within it’s moist cake body and it’s got gooey cream cheese icing on top.  I figured she’ll love it, it’s a winner for sure.

I did all the grating on the sly and the littlest was sniffing the yummy baking smells and helping smooth on the icing in no time. All the while I’m thinking if we pull this off it could be the smoothest con of all time.  I sprinkled on some flaked almonds and served it up trying not to drool all the while. And then we waited, perched on the edge of our seats as she took a nibble …  smiled …  inhaled the icing and …

… tossed the rest.

Needless to say the zucchinis are jubilant. Cheeky sods!

Down the Rabbit Hole

For a while now I’ve been thinking about opening a little online shop and I think I’m ready to take the Etsy plunge. But before I leave dry land I thought it might be time to reveal a little more about me. (Yep, that’s me up there. Eep! I’m usually on the other, much comfier side of the camera) If you check out my About Page you’ll find it all updated including this, the only dodgy holiday snap of me to be found ’round here.

Although feeling super silly about it I realize that it has other huge benefits. I have been drawn into the amazing and wonderful world of Pinterest where time no longer seems relevant. I don’t know how long I’ve spent in here pinning away but I’m seriously loving it. I love that I can have loads and loads of boards and I can theme them or go all chaotic. I love seeing everything all at once and noticing patterns and rhythms in them. So addictive!

I wish I’d packed some chocolate and I’m not sure how long my water will last. But at least now that you’ve seen my picture I’m hoping someone will find me… eventually… if they don’t start looking at boards themselves… Sigh! Scratch that, please someone just throw me in some Green & Blacks.

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My Pinterest link is now in my sidebar making friends with my Flickr account. Come and look, if you dare!

All finished

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Ta Dah!! Here is my Gocco-ed fox with his final colour, all done and dusted. I can hardly believe it myself.
I promised I’d show you soon and I am, without getting distracted by a new idea. Yikes! I could be setting myself a new standard.

I’m so happy with the way he turned out despite the many lessons learnt in the process. Some were embarrassingly obvious, some not so much. But most due purely to over-enthusiasm. Anyway I wrote myself some notes and if you’re a gung-ho Gocco-er like me you might find them useful too.

Gocco tips for the over-enthusiastic:

  • Take your time making up artwork for screens. Check and double-check. Otherwise you can spend donkey’s years getting things registered and centered properly.
  • Have the paper merchant cut all your stock to size, especially when you don’t have a guillotine.
  • Blocking can be cut mega-thin and ink puddles spread further with each press. So use it and apply before inking the screen.
  • Respect Gocco ink. Gocco ink is sticky. Super sticky!
  • Gocco printing comes with inherent irregularities. So play with them. Play with the amount of pressure applied to the handle and different types of stock. Design to make the most of it.
  • Allow at least 24-48 hours drying time (in cooler weather) before stacking your prints to avoid transfer.
  • Dark colours in small areas look darker. Dark gray looks black in line work. So ask yourself is it worth hand mixing ink for smaller areas if there is only a subtle difference.
  • Registration will shift no matter how careful you are, don’t worry that’s part of the Gocco charm.

 

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And the other thing that is apparently finished is Autumn. I downloaded some leafy photos I took a little while ago only to notice that those trees have shaken off practically all of their lovely crimson and now look quite skeletal. Not that I mind, I love winter. But without seeing these shots I would never have guessed how completely influenced by the Autumn palette I’ve been. Now I’m looking forward to what winter will bring.

Right, now I’m off to see what the other Creative Spacers have been up to. So much goodness in one place!

Foxing

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There is something a little romantic about foxes. I have to admit before living in London I’d never given them much thought. Never wondered if there were anything in the sly, craftiness badge. But late one night, on my way home through the sleepy streets of Southfields I came face to muzzle with a sleek red fox apparently out for a stroll. I stopped, he stopped. We both stared for what seemed like an eternity. Then, having deduced that I wasn’t much of a threat, he continued on his way. You’d guess a little more briskly and in the opposite direction, since I am a tad larger. But no, no, no. He strolled right past me. Right under my nose at an entirely leisurely saunter. Bold as brass.

That’s a kind of confidence you just have to admire. And to be cunning, to be a trickster I imagine you would have to have bucket loads of the stuff. Which brings me to the title of this post. I finally have a project I wanted to try out on my Gocco, and since it’s been, ahem, quite a while since my last Gocco frenzy I may need a bucket load of daring myself.

So this last week it’s been all busy-ness on paper rather than online. Designing, illustrating, mixing inks, working out how the whole registration thing works, playing with how much pressure to apply etc. etc. and writing lots of notes for next time. Oh yes, there most definitely will be a next time, I already have a design in mind. I’ll post some pics of the finished print soon and hopefully the winter light will play nice.

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p.s. Thank you so much for all your sweet comments about my little snoozing fox. I can’t tell you how chuffed I am that you like him and you took the time to say. You are sweeties one and all! I’ve just finished nestling him in his packaging and he’ll be on his way tomorrow. I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone else has done, so far there have been so many gorgeous brooches. Such a fab idea Susie!

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Images | Fox on our fence, Hatchibombotar | Fox nap, Pat Gaines | To view larger or for licencing click on image titles.

Shhh!

FoxyDuoBehind the scenes I’ve been working on a little secret project. I signed up for gorgeous Susie’s Flower Press Brooch Swap not a hundred percent sure if I could do it justice but wanting to give it a try.

So here is my little friend all finished and napping peacefully in the grass. (As it turns out felt is pretty forgiving. Phew for that!) Sadly I can’t tell you who he’s for but I hope she loves him nearly as much as my girls do. I’m going to have to watch them like a hawk till he gets to the P.O. Now all I have to do is settle him into some super comfy packaging and off he goes to his new home.

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If you are thinking of using felt for a project like this I recommend visiting Melissa at her beautiful blog Tiny Happy.
I found her brooch tutorial wonderfully helpful.

Visit Our Creative Spaces for lots of wonderful creative goodness. Make sure you’ve a cuppa in hand and some time up your sleeve, it’s hard to drag yourself away. Thanks Kirsty for setting up such a swanky new space! 

Leafy Shenanigans

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This weekend whilst on a mission to find leaves, we headed for the biggest fattest park in our neck of the woods. We needed big trees and lots and lots of leaves. We’re talking mountains of leaves. At the gates of Edinburgh Gardens we knew we’d hit the jackpot. Under all those big beautiful trees it was positively raining leaves.

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We threw ourselves in. We crunched through them, kicked them and lay in them… then all of a sudden a leaf battle broke out. A frenzy of scooping and hurling. No one knows who started it and no one knows who won but all agree it was wild. They were in our hair, down our necks and in our pockets. I laughed till my cheeks ached.

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Oh yeh, I had to include this shot. This is my little inventor’s way of transporting her collection, hands-free. Hope your weekend was fun too.

Atmosphere

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Lately I’ve been drawn to the palette in these beautiful images. Nut browns, Delphinium purples and mustard yellows. I love the sombre feeling of the purples and browns and how even just a touch of  yellow instantly lifts them. Speaking of brown, did you know that nut brown was the most loved colour of the Edwardian Era? It’s true. So much so, it was thought to be very unfortunate to be blonde. I always wondered why brown was ever present in early 1900s clothing and homes.

I love putting together image montages, it’s become a valuable part of the process for me and a lot of fun. It helps finding an atmosphere for an illustration.  But I’ve been wondering whether it would be even simpler to start up a Tumblr or Pinterest page like this or this… hmmm.

Images | Untitled, Lesley Kerr | Misty Forest, Tariel | Edwardian Portrait, Otto Sarony Co. | Life is Love, YvesMorning Awakening 1876, Eva Gonzales. To view larger or for licencing click on image titles.

The Lesson

So here is my latest illustration, albeit at semi scruffy pencil stage. There’s a bit more to tidy but I’ve really loved working on this one so far. Now I’m itching to play with some colour. Hope your weekend is fun too.

Happily it also falls easily into this weeks Illustration Friday theme.

Carnations and Corsets

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Just popping in to post some work in progress roughs.

Working on this illustration it’s easy to be completely absorbed in this era. The contrasts that exist within it are stark and completely compelling. I’m fascinated by the Edwardian love of the great outdoors, of wonderful wild gardens, picnics, boating and plein air painting and yet this was a society trussed up in a rigid system of old fashioned etiquette and class structure. Having said that, who wouldn’t want a time machine to go back and see those Gibson Girl cinched waists, enormous ‘Merry Widow’ hats and ride the Daddy Long Legs.

Try this link for amazing things to see in our era, thanks Kirsty.

Image | Lily Elsie Postcard 1909, Wikipedia.