Monday, 30 July 2012

Totally uninspired

I don't know what it is, but I'm feeling totally uninspired at the moment. I had been looking forward to a long three-day weekend filled with paint and creativity, but instead I ended up spending most of the time on the sofa, with no energy at all to pick myself up and do something useful. Although that is not strictly true. I have actually covered four pages in my Moleskine sketchbook/art journal with collages and paint, but these were more repeated manifestations of severe procrastination and frustration than real inspired creativity. The obligation of having to produce abstracts of two articles in French (a language I will never master), filled with a whole range of terms related to some new degree courses I had no idea of how to translate into German, had repeatedly woken the urge in me to grab some glue and paint and stick something into my sketchbook, in order to put off the unpleasant task.

So my weekend ended with two unfinished abstracts and four finished journal pages, but I didn't have the energy to take pictures of them and write up a blog post. So Instead I'm posting some photographs I took during my holiday earlier this month, taken at one second favourite National Trust place, Angelsey Abbey. I've visited this place several times and at different times of the year. It is a perfect place to spend a happy and relaxing day.

The silver birches with their beautifully coloured and textured bark always make me happy:

The herbacious border is full of forgeous plants and flowers, like this delicate "chandelier" of blossoms:

Or these beautifully patterned flowers:

The gardens are full of busy bees of all kinds collecting pollen:

Daisies - simple but always pleasing:

I'll have another day off on Wednesday (our national holiday), and I hope to spend it in my studio. With the abstracts finally out of the way, there should now be nothing to distract me. Hopefully.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Pen & Ink

These week's theme for Artists' Play Room is Ink, pens and paper. And I'm rather proud of myself for having done this quick little drawing already on Monday night, rather than in the last minute (or being too late). Although, admittedly, it is neither very original nor "out of the box" thinking. And there isn't any paper in it either, apart from the paper it is drawn on (which is, of course, my favourite Moleskine sketchbook).

I have a whole collection of inks and calligraphy supplies (but never enough time to actually use them), but I love this Indian ink, which I recently discovered, because it is waterproof. I still prefer to use pen and ink to add details and outlines in my paintings and art journals, rather than pens. I know that there's now a whole range of high quality, high pigmented pens available (and I have quite a few of them), but I somehow I still have this deep rooted fear (implanted many years ago by my painting teacher), that pens will eventually fade away. So I used to use diluted acryl paint, instead of the watersoluble inks, but this waterproof Indian ink is so much more convenient. And they come in a whole range of gorgeous colours.

The ones I have at the moment are black, white, and a beautiful deep indigo, which, unfortunately, due to the terrible quality of my photography (late evening with no good natural light) is completely lost. I got a new scanner at work, and hope to be able to get some better results with scanning my sketchbooks with this one (the old one was hopeless). I'm just waiting for our IT support to give me the temporary rights to install the software on my computer. It might take a while...

I used a lovely, warm walnut ink to give the bottles their brown colour.

So while the subject might not be very original - just the tools I used to do this little sketch - I kept to the theme by using (almost) only the theme's materials - pen and inks on paper (and a small brush for some of the details).

I'm very pleased that I actually managed to do this little drawing without making a total mess. I love pen and ink, but I usually can't help to smudge and smear the ink all over the page and myself, no matter how hard I try not to. But this time, I (almost) managed. Yay :).

Make sure to visit Jenn's blog on Saturday, to see what the others have created. So inspiring, and  always so beautifully presented by Jenn.

Saturday, 21 July 2012


I wanted to do something for the Artists' Playroom this week, as I haven't managed in ages, but I think I'm actually too late, as it's already Saturday. But I didn't have the time to sit down and paint until last night.

This week's theme was pears (or your favourite fruit), as Jenn loves to draw, sketch and paint pears in particular. I was thinking about doing my favourites, blue- and blackberries, but then decided to give the pears a try, especially after having a look in the internet, and finding all those gorgeous colours. I didn't even know there were purple pears! So I got out my Moleskine sketchbook, my Necolors II and some gouache paints, and spent a relaxing evening painting pears.

They all have such beautiful names too. I meant to add some names, and writing along with black outlines and details, but decided that it looked right as it was, without anything.

Well, even if I'm too late with my entry for the playroom, I totally enjoyed painting these pears.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Shopping in London

A page in my new Moleskine sketchbook/art journal I started during my holiday in England, inspired by my favourite art shops in London. There's a number of shops I always enjoy going to when in London, and I'm sure that some of you might like to know about them too, so here's my list of favourite London shops.

Art shops:

Cornelissen: my favourite, and in my favourite area, Bloomsbury, 105 Great Russell Street. A wonderful shop where you find everything your art-heart desires. The shop itself is worth a visit, it's like a step back in time to when artists relied on their trusted colourmen to provide them with paints, before the invention of paint tubes and synthetic pigments. It's a bit more expensive, as they don't usually have so many sales and special offers as some of the others, but there are a number of things you won't find in any of the other shops. Apart form painting materials, they also have tools and materials for printmaking, guilding etc. Among the things I come here for are oil paint sticks, and "liquid metal" metallic acrylics.

Cowling & Wilcox: there are several branches in London, but the one I usually go to is their Soho branch, at 26-28 Broadwick Street. They often have special offers with up to 40% off Liquitex paints, for erxample. It was also the only one where I found Liquitex Soft Body paints. They have some general arts and crafts materials too, as well as stationery.

Cass Arts: also has several branches in London, one of which very conveniently right around the corner from Cowling & Wilcox, at 24 Berwick St. I come here for the Derwent Sketching pencils, which have an extra wide graphite core. They ufusally have some great special offers, although I was beginning to get slightly worried when the sales assistant kept running off to get a free jar of clear gesso with the paints, a box of pencils instead of the individual pencils, etc. ..., as I was trying to figure out how to fit all that extra stuff into my suitcase.

Other specialist shops:

Shepherds Falkiners: back in Bloomsbury, 76 Southampton Row. A specialist shop for fine papers and bookbinding supplies. On the ground floor, you'll find the most tempting range of beautiful patterned paper, and a whole lot of patterned cardboard boxes in all shapes and sizes. In the basement are bookbinding supplies and tools.

Blade Rubber Stamps: Another fine Bloomsbury shop, in 12 Bury Place, pretty much opposite the main entrance of the British Museum. They have a wonderful range of stamps, mostly wood mounted, but also other kinds of stamps, and ink pads, as well as scrapbooking and card making supplies, and a selection of Stampington magazines.

And last but not least, a shop that has been on my list for ages:

Intaglio: 9 Playhouse Court, 62 Southwark Bridge Road, not too far from Tate Modern. The place to go to for everyting about printmaking: tools, materials, and a range of books too. Unlike the others, this is not really a shop to go to for just having a look around and browse, but rather one where you have to more or less know what you want. This is also the reason why I have never been htere until two weeks ago, when I wanted to buy some wood engraving tools.

I was really very proud of myself that, after already having bought some stuff I could easily have got here at home as well, I didn't end up buying wood blocks as well. It really did seem rather silly to fill up my suitcase with wood. But after looking at the websites of the art shops here at home, it doesn't seem like such a silly idea after all anymore. So now I might end up ordering wood blocks form England soon. Luckily, most of the above shops do mail order (although last time I checked, Cowling & Wilcox had ridiculously high shipping costs to Switzerland, something like starting at £40 or so). I just hope that Intaglio have normal shipping costs, like the rest, otherwise, I might have to start planning my next trip to London soon :).

Linking up to Paint Party Friday, which I unfortuantely missed for the past three weeks. And if you know more great shops in London, please share!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Back home again

Back home again after a great 2 1/2 week's holiday in England, where, with the Queen's jubilee earlier this year, and the Olympic games later this month, virtually everything is blue, red and white.

I had taken some water soluble coloured pencils with me to work in my storyboard sketchbook, but I wasn't happy with the pencils, so instead I went to my  favourite art shops in London and bought some paints, stains, inks, stamps... and started a new sketchbook/art journal. Staying in a student hall room without telly for the first 10 days, I happily spent some of my evenings collaging and painting away. With all the Union Jacks, or Union Flags (as it is usually called Union Jack only when at sea, although there seems to be some debate about the whole name business), and with having just purchased some red, white and blue paints, a Union Jack/Flag naturally had to go into my sketchbook.

I had the paints, a couple of brushes, and a water glas, but I hadn't really thought about a palette to mix my colours. A simple plastic carrier bag worked perfect as substitute palette.

I found some Liquitex soft body paints in one (and only that one) of the art shops in London. I really like them, they're perfectly smooth and creamy, but not too soft and runny. I just wish I could have bought more of them, as I haven't seen them anywhere here in Switzerland. But there's a limit to how many tubes of paint you can squeeze into a suitcase.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Time to relax

The time to relax is when you don't have time for it
(Sydney J. Harris)


Hope you are all enjoying a relaxing summer :)