Sunday, 30 June 2013

Monthly Calendar

I don't  know where the time is going.  Another month has flown past and it's time to make our July calendar.  If you want to know more about the idea behind the monthly calendar please look on Kate Crane's blog as the whole thing is her idea.

Our flower of the month for July is the dandelion and I have a great stencil and some stamps.

I put gesso through the stencil randomly over the page and stamped with Archival Ink.

I sprayed two shades of yellow Dylusions Inks with some water.  However the gesso resisted far more than I thought it would.  When the ink was dry I used Distrss Inks and a blending tool to ink through the stencil.  I didn't worry too omuch about whether the stencil lined up or not.

I punched circles from a piece of doublesided cardstock and stuck them onto the page, stamped the month and wrote the days and dates.

All is ready for July 1st.

Please link your calendars via the linky below.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Roses in Design

Susan wrote this post for us about using roses in design.

The Rose in Architecture, Design and Decoration

The rose is one of the most beloved of all flowers. Not only has it been grown and hybridized through the centuries, it has made its way into our homes and has adorned our bodies for centuries. You do not have to look very far to find a rose pattern or motif. Roses adorn fabrics, both for the home and for fashion. Whether realistic or stylized, roses appear on furniture, glassware, china, ceramics, wallpaper, carpets, tapestries, clothing, jewelry, fashion accessories, stationery, and much more.

There is a design to match every style – traditional, country, shabby-chic, Victorian, modern, Asian, English.

Here are a few links to my personal favorite designs and designers in the history of the rose as used in design and decoration:

The rose window, made of stained glass, was an integral part of the design of cathedrals during the medieval period.

Arts and Crafts Movement:

More images and information on roses in decoration can be found on the Victoria and Albert Museum website.

Contemporary and vintage depictions of roses in design are so numerous; a personal web search will yield pages of results.

Here are some links added by Bernice

Walk through your home, open your drawers, closets and cabinets. Take photos or make a list of the items you have which contain a rose design. Or visit a shop near you and see what items you can find that contain the rose motif.   Post your photos or list on your blog, in the Facebook group, or link up below.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Art Challenge

Great is the sun, and wide he goes
Through empty heaven with repose;
And in the blue and glowing days
More thick than rain he showers his rays.

Though closer still the blinds we pull
To keep the shady parlour cool,
Yet he will find a chink or two
To slip his golden fingers through.

The dusty attic spider-clad
He, through the keyhole, maketh glad;
And through the broken edge of tiles
Into the laddered hay-loft smiles.

Meantime his golden face around
He bares to all the garden ground,
And sheds a warm and glittering look
Among the ivy's inmost nook.

Above the hills, along the blue,
Round the bright air with footing true,
To please the child, to paint the rose,
The gardener of the World, he goes.

Robert Louis Stevenson, Summer Sun

Art Challenge
Use the poem as inspiration for your artwork today.

Pleae link up your work with the linky below.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Postcard Theology

Our guest post  today is from the Reverend Andrew Hall who is Curate at St. Martin's Brighouse & St. John's Clifton, West Yorkshire.  I met him at Art from the Heart where he works in tandem with Dyan Reaveley  to enable participants to take part in a Postcard Theology workshop.

A strange name for a blog post I know, however ‘bear with’ and more will be revealed.
This concept has evolved by interaction with groups of people with differing levels of biblical literacy and creative skills; ranging from an Aged person’s luncheon club to artists and students in a studio in the north of England.

The concept combines the pilgrimage and biblical literacy of the Christian life; the ‘being and doing’   Both speak to each other of journey, and one without the other isn’t good for the soul.

What better place to start this journey than with the “Songs of Ascents” the collection of Psalms from 120 to 134. Most scholars agree that these are likely to be songs that were sung by pilgrims as they were journeying to Jerusalem for the three great feasts - where we get our Easter, Pentecost and Harvest festivals. Quite literally because of the topography of the surrounding land, the pilgrims did ascend to Jerusalem.

Reading this group of psalms in succession, one does get a real sense of journey, including the ups and downs of life, something that we can all understand.

My engineering and academic background, which is full of quantitative data and statistical information, can sometimes leave my ‘left brain’ very sore!  My darling wife has helped to release my ‘right brain’ and its creative nature, through her mixed media classes. This is where the real breakthrough came, the meeting of ‘high concept and high touch.’

By combining these quotients I have devised, from the psalms, a series of postcards that give factual information, personal revelation, and lovely creative images.

Over the course of a session people in the group are introduced to a psalm and given time and space to think and meditate about the psalm. I ask them to think of a word or a phrase that comes to mind when reading it, then to consider what it means and how they could write about the word or phrase that appeals to them - what image does it evoke?

Combining the two creates a ‘haptic experience’ it connects left and right brain together. I can hear you say; “what does that mean?”  Haptic refers to one of our five senses – touch. The sense of touch and creativity combine with our cognitive reasoning, adding value to each other, reinforcing our learning experience.

What you write, imagine and produce on a “postcard theology” workshop has a lasting effect upon your journey of faith. Interestingly there is an Old Testament example of Haptics in the text of Numbers 15:37-41. The background to the story relates to the tassels on the garments of the Priest – as he walked around, the people would touch the tassels, this gave them a feeling of being in touch with the Torah, which was the code by which a good Jew lived his life.

Distilling information onto the postcards through different mediums enables us to retain a richer message intrinsically; this in turn affects how we share our story with others. Many times I have heard people say they have a deeper connection with what they designed, wrote and created.
  • To make a series of creative postcards around the song of ascents.
  • To increase biblical literacy through a cognitive, haptic experience.
  • Use art mediums, paint, sprays inks, gesso, watercolours, fabrics, indeed, any other media you care to choose!
  • Journaling thoughts and feelings of your own spiritual journey.
  • Increase research skills.
  • To promote dialogue in a safe space.

I hope you feel more enlightened by the background to my idea of Postcard Theology! 

Now enjoy some of the postcards….

Art Challenge
So your challenge today is to choose one of the Psalms between 120 and 134 and meditate on it.  Research it if you wish by looking through a commentary or online.  Then produce a postcard - size of your choice - to illustrate your meditation.

I hope you will try this and show us your work via the linky.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Children's Book for Summer

Here's Carolyn with her Summer Book choice. 

For my summer book I have chosen a children’s author who is probably one of the most read in the UK, if not worldwide and whose books dominated my own childhood. Even her signature is instantly recognisable to millions, adorning as it does the front of many of her books. I am talking of course about Enid Blyton.

Blyton died in the year I was born, but her books continue to sell massively today, for instance wiki says that over 2 million Famous Five books are sold each year, and that is just one of her series. Blyton was also responsible for creating Noddy, The Secret Seven, The Five Find-Outers, Malory Towers, St Clares, Naughty Amelia Jane, Mr Pinkwhistle, Mr Twiddle, The Faraway Tree, The Wishing Chair, The Naughtiest Girl in the School, The Adventure of series, The Secret of series, The Barney Mysteries and many other series and stand-alone books. She also wrote a long standing column in Teacher’s World magazine and other articles. Her output was 600 books.

I don’t think I really need to say much about Blyton, so much has been written, and if you are interested a cursory google will lead you to lots of books, articles and websites. Her books are now collectable, especially in early editions, although more recent paperbacks of the more well-known titles are of course not. There has been a lot of controversy about her, firstly over her use of simple language and repetitive plots and then later over her dated and xenophobic attitudes towards sexism and racism. It is taken for granted in many books that the boys protect the girls and do the adventurous parts whilst the girls keep the camp tidy and it is enough proof of probably criminality that someone sounds foreign.

The Famous Five series was one of my favourite summer reads, although different books in the series do take part during various times of year. However they always have a summer feel to me, and the iconic image is of the five out exploring in boats or on bikes, wearing shorts and drinking ginger beer. The first book is the one I am highlighting today and takes place on a ‘Treasure Island, Kirrin Island that belongs to one of the five, George, a girl who wants to be a boy. Her three cousins, Julian, Dick and Anne come to visit and along with George’s dog, Timmy, first manage to make friends despite George’s initial reluctance and then to explore the island, of course having adventures and finding treasure along the way.

The books were initially illustrated by Eileen Soper who was an artist producing etchings and a royal academician. As an artist her work had two strands, depicting children and depicting wildlife, although in later life she devoted more time to wildlife, becoming a founder member of the Society for Wildlife Artists. Her illustrations of the Famous Five books coloured my view of the characters, and I visualise them very much in that vein. I also find them much truer to the characters as they appear in the books, at the time they were written and set than the more recent updated versions with all the characters wearing jeans.

For the project this season I’ve decided to go with a treasure map. There are lots of ways this could be done. Your map could be a real map to buried treasure or a map to a special place. You could invent a map based on traditional elements such as ‘Dead Man’s Cove’, ‘Here be Dragons’ ‘X makes the spot’ etc. You could make it a more personal treasure map and use it to show a life journey to a special point (eg through a pregnancy or engagement). Or you could go and find treasure using a real map and do some geocaching!

My treasure map is a map of the area I lived in as a child taken from Google. I have highlighted a lot of the places that were special to me in some way and notated the map. I did a general ‘old’ background for the page with torn edges, and this lets the pages before and after show through, so this is how I have photographed it.

Thank you Carolyn

Don't forget to share your work with us using the linky below.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Creative Date for June

Julia Cameron in The Artists Way suggested the idea of making time for a regular creative date.   This idea is also picked up by Matt Tommey in Unlocking the Heart of the Artist.   You can also find inspiration here: 101 Artist's Date Ideas.

I am suggesting that we should each make time for a creative date each month.  Ideally we will go out.  Go to a local museum, a local art gallery, go for a walk!  Whatever idea you have that will feed your creativity.

However sometimes it's not possible to physically visit those places.  So here's my idea for June. A music trail.  Click on this video link and watch the video on YouTube.

Then click on one of the video links on the right hand side of the YouTube screen.  When you've watched that video, click another one of the video links on the right hand side of that YouTube screen.  Keep repeating this for as long as you wish.  Make a list of the links to the videos you went to and share them with the rest of us.

Of course surfing YouTube videos can use up time like nothing else can.  So you may want to set yourself a time limit - say an hour - or a number limit of videos - say 6.  Choose what suits you best and 
have fun!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Eco Printing on Fabric

I am so excited that Susan volunteered to write this blog post.  She introduces us to a technique that I have never tried.  Over to Susan:

As a horticulturist and avid gardener, I am always looking for ways to use the plants I grow. I have been experimenting with natural dyeing for three years and this technique, eco printing, for two. It really is about experimenting, so don’t feel intimidated by the instructions. Read through them and start as simply as you feel comfortable. You will soon be hooked!
Eco Printing on Fabric
Eco printing, also known as eco bundling, is the discovery of India Flint, an Australian textile artist who works with natural dyes. In her popular book, Eco Colour, she explains the process of eco printing. The name I like to give this technique is “nature printing with steam”.   It just seems to more easily explain the process.

·         Fabric made from 100% natural materials – cotton, linen, silk, wool
·         Sumi, kozo or other washi paper (Asian papers made from strong fibers) - optional
·         Alum*
·         Washing Soda*
·         Steam pot OR large pot with colander placed inside OR sticks, skewers, chopsticks, etc to wrap bundle to in order to elevate it above the water – it is best to use a dedicated pot for this technique and work outside with an electric hot plate.
·         String and rubber bands
·         Fresh flowers and leaves. In this tutorial we are working with rose flowers since it is the flower of the month. Do not work with toxic or poisonous plants – if you are unsure, do some research first. Roses are not toxic.

*alum is a mordant which enables the dye color to adhere to cotton fabric. It is available wherever natural dye and marbling supplies are sold. Washing soda assists the alum.

Step 1
Mordant your fabric by soaking it in an alum solution (4 tsp alum & 1.5 tsp washing soda per 4 oz (100g) of fabric, dissolved in boiling water and added to 1 gallon of hot water), for 8-24 hours - source: Wild Color by Jenny Dean. The fabric may be mordanted, dried and stored beforehand. In fact, if you are going to do eco printing often, it is worth your time to have a batch of mordanted fabrics on hand.

Alternatively, try the technique without first mordanting. It is not necessary to mordant silk or wool.

I used a large piece of alum mordanted cotton and cotton gauze and a piece of kozo paper. I also used a small un-mordanted cotton handkerchief with crocheted trim and two pieces of silk fabric.

Step 2
Wet your fabric*, wring out excess water and lay on flat surface. Place flowers and/or leaves on the fabric randomly or in a design or pattern. Optionally lay another piece of fabric or washi paper over this.

*experiment with placing material on dry fabric to see what different effects can be achieved – the steam will moisten it.

Step 3
Roll up or fold the fabric into a tight bundle.

Step 4
Secure with cotton string and/or rubber bands.

Step 5
Place in steamer rack and steam for 1 hour.

Step 6
Allow to cool before unwrapping. It is best to let it sit overnight so that the colors continue to dye the fabric, but if you are too excited to wait, unwrap it and remove plant material.

Step 7
Let it air dry, then heat set with an iron. You can also put it in the dryer on a low setting. If you plan to use the fabric as an article of clothing (if you dyed a t-shirt, for example), hand wash it with a pH neutral detergent.
un-mordanted cotton handkerchief and silk
close up
close up
alum mordanted cotton sheet – notice the difference in color
close up
kozo paper close up
cotton gauze
cotton gauze made into a scarf
Step 8
Enjoy your handiwork!

  • Start with small pieces of fabric and try whatever you find interesting. Keep a record of your results. If there is something you particularly love, try to replicate the technique on a larger piece of fabric, t-shirt, or other article of clothing.
  • Shop at tag sales and thrift stores for white clothing (remember 100% natural fibers) and linens, even those with prints on them will give interesting results.
  • If you want to learn more, and this is just the very small beginning, buy India Flint’s, as well as Jenny Dean’s books. They are essential resources. Then keep us posted on your experiments!

It is difficult to compare the photos taken outdoors with those taken indoors. The lighting is different. The cotton handkerchief was very pale in color when I unwrapped it (how it appears in the photo on the grass), but as it dried, it darkened to that rich pink!

Thank you so much Susan.

I  hope you will try out this technique.  What beautiful covers you could make for art journals!   Please add a link to your expepriments using the linky below.