Sunday, 31 March 2013

Happy Easter & A new Moleskine journal page

When I did my Gelli printing the day before yesterday, I used a page from an old journal to roll off the excess paint on the brayer. Well, it would have been a pity to just throw it away, especially as it was the perfect size for a background in my Moleskine art journal, which I haven't used in ages.

Pasting down the background page and cutting off the paper around the edges. I love the rounded corners of the Moleskine.

Just added a circle and some dripping in my favourite liquid acrylic colours at the moment - Genesis Green and the metallic Platinum Pink.

Adding some words and details. March has been an eventful month, which brought about some unexpected change in the last few days. The "new shores" are only local yet, and only concerning one part of my life, but I'm still dreaming up bigger dreams. Sounding all about mysterious? I know, but it's all so fresh yet, that I still need a little bit time to get my head round it all before talking about it.

I love how my Moleskine journal gets fatter and bulkier with all the textures on each page.

I'm going to have a lazy Sunday now, after having been woken up in the middle of the night by the church bells calling the churchgoers to the late night Easter service for 15 minutes at full blast at eleven, and then being woken up this morning by the Easter concert from the Methodist church next door, and more church bells from the other churchs for morning service. And I thought this was going to be a quiet little holiday... And on top of it all everything was white outside this morning, and it just started snowing again. It's a never ending story this year.

Have a wonderful Easter Sunday, whichever way you're going to spend it!

Friday, 29 March 2013

Playing with my new Gelli Plate

I've been reading about this new gel printing place everywhere on blogs, but as it was something that, as it seemed, was only available in the States, at the moment, I decided to just ignore it. But it was a MONO PRINTING plate, and printing is something I've longed to do for ages, but without much success to put into practise (the printing workshop I signed up for last year was cancelled, probably because of lack of interest). So I couldn't resist for long, and finally ordered one. And I've been longing to try it out - and completely forgot about it last weekend, as I was too busy painting my easter eggs!

Today I finally sat down with my plate to try it out. The planned decluttering for today just had to wait for a bit. I looked for some tutorials on YouTube first to get an idea of how to get started, and found a whole number of useful videos. This introduction by Roben-Marie Smith I found quite useful:

Carolyn Dube of A Colourful Journey has a whole range of tutorials on  YouTube. She's also running a Gelli printing workshop, which starts soon and which I'm sure will be very inspiring.

Here's a few more useful and inspiring links that help to get you started: Gelli Arts on YouTube, mybasketofscraps, artistcellar, Jane Davis. And here's even a tutorial of how to make your own alternative printing plate, if you can't get an original one, by Jennibellie.

Getting everything ready. A virgin gel plate, ready to be messed around with.

The first print. Room for improvement...

Adding another layer makes an improvement, and that's where I should have left it. But I added some more layers, after which some of the first details were lost. But that's the fun with this plate. It's so quick and easy, that you can just keep printing, trying out what works, and what doesn't, and finding out which techniques you prefer.

I kept experimenting all morning, producing a whole pile of sheets, playing with colours and layers, and different stamps.

Here I used a rubber stamp with leaves, which I had carved myself some time ago.

I especially like these two, the colours, and the layers and textures.

Linking up to the wonderful and inspiring Paint Party Friday
Have a terrific Easter Weekend!

Linking this also to Carolyn Dube's Gelli Print Party, a great place to share your prints and projects.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

"Egg Sunday"

It wasn't until two days ago, that I decided that I wanted to paint some eggs for next week's Easter weekend. Eggs for decoration, that is. That's why they didn't need to be real eggs. Plastic eggs would be perfectly fine for this. So I went to the supermarket on my way home for work, and was lucky enough to get the last two bags of plastic eggs. And today, I spent most of the day in painting one bag of them. That's twelve eggs altogether. 

With the eggs being round, there is always the problem of how to hold them best while painting them. The plastic eggs all have a little hole in them, and the easiest thing is to screw in one of those little metal hooks. This way, you get a handy little handle to hold them while painting, and then can just hang them for drying. Also sand down the surface with some sandpaper, to make the paint stick better.

And then spend the rest of the day happily painting them (and watching Downton Abbey).

Adding some texture once the first layer is dry...

... and then adding some decorations with a pen.

They're not quiet finished yet, but it was enough for today.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Simplicity, the continuing journey, and an art journal page

The last two, three years have been a journey of change in many ways for me. But I feel that I still haven't arrived. I'm still trying to figure out the life I want to live, and how to get there. Blogging, the internet, has played a big part of this development so far. I found inspiring online workshops and met like-minded artists around the globe, all having an impact on my own work. And my way of painting has changed a lot through these experiences. New techniques, new paints, new ideas. Painting, art, have become a much bigger part of my life than it ever had in the whole of my 15+ years of painting, and there are things I'm now beginning to feel are possible, which I'd never even dared to dream of three years ago. It is all part of something I don't yet have the right words for yet. Part of the journey. 

I'm reading a book at the moment, which I came across on a blog, the way you find these things in blogland, by one click leading to another and another... The book's called "Less is More", ed. by Cecile Andrews and Wanda Urbanska. It's a collection of essays on the concept of Volontary Simplicity. As someone who never seems to be able to get rid of the chaos, I'm naturally drawn to the idea of simplicity. But most books just seem to be practical instructions on how to declutter your home and get rid of half of your wardrobe. Which is not a bad thing as such. But what I like about this book is that it's about the bigger picture of living a simpler life, which includes such issues as sustainability, commuty etc. It's not just about having a home with less stuff in it, but about a fundamental change of our society, about the way we live, what we value, and what ultimately makes us happy. I find it very inspiring, and it makes me think a lot about my own life, and how I want to live it. It's yet another step on the way. 

It also inspired me to create a page in my art journal. First a layer or two with some vibrant colours.

Then trying out the new liquid acrylics I bought during my long weekend in England two weeks ago. Absolutely love this metallic pink!

The last step was adding the word with the help of a new stencil alphabet. I first wanted to do the letters in colour, but at the end decided that the outlines would work best here. Keeping it simple.

Linking up to the wonderful Paint Party Friday, which is such an inspiring place.
And a big Thank You to all of you out there in blogland, who have been, and continue to be, such a great inspiration, and who help me to keep continuing on my journey in so many different ways.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Just an ordinary life: Overthinking and A good soak

I have a new work colleague, who's also into painting, sketching and other creative activities. She's been telling me about a cartoon class she's taking, and showed me some of her sketches of situations in her life, how she uses those sketchings to process certain situations, fears, challenges, events. I was totally inspired by it, and last night, I took out one of my new sketchbooks with watercolour paper and did a couple of quick sketches. I often use my diary to write in, especially in times when I've got too much on my mind, but I haven't had the energy to sit down and write much lately. This is a perfect alternative to get things out of your system, and an excellent exercise in sketching on top of it.

Life can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming. Especially at 4 o'clock in the morning. And being a notorious overthinker doesn't help either.

A nice cup of tea, and a good soak can fix a lot. The bathwater almost got too cold to qualify as a proper "hot bath" though, as I decided that I had to sketch it too. Of course I couldn't wait till after.

I'm always in a bit of a dilemma when it comes to sketching. Should I just leave the pen sketchings as they are, or should I add some colour? I usually go for the colour option. And in this case, I was using one of my new watercolour sketchbooks, so it seemed a waste not to add any colour. I just like colour. But what I want to work on, though, is to add less colour. Just a bit her and there, and leave white space too. Somehow, I seem to have this deep rooted feeling that a page needs to be covered in paint, and that's what my sketches usually end up like. But I'm working on it. And I hope to keep these "ordinary life" sketches up. We'll see.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Stockholm i mitt hjärta, Part 2 - Daytrip to Vaxholm

It's time for another visit to lovely Stockholm, but before we venture into the city to take in all the sights, we go on a little day trip. A few miles north of Stockholm, on Vaxö, one of the many islands of Stockholm's archipelago, lies the town of Vaxholm. To travel there in style would of course be by boat. But as someone who loves to be at the sea, but prefers not to be on or in it, I took the bus. The journey takes about a good half hour, if I remember rightly, so a little walk was the thing to do first upon my arrival. I walked along the water, not really knowing where I was going, just following the path. And a very nice path it was.

Eventually, I came to a lovely little bay, Norrhamn, the northern harbour. What a beautiful sight it was, even if the sky was rather grey most of the time of my visit.

At the other side of the bay was a lovely café, Hembygdsgårds Café. It's back garden at the water offered a pretty view. As it was lunchtime, I decided to stay there for lunch and had a delicious meal, of which the café's cat was obviously very envious.

After lunch, I set out to explore the rest of the town. But alas, I didn't get very far. The cake's buffet was just far too tempting. I mean, who could resist a lovely Polkagris Cheescake? Not me, certainly. And anyway, it's a holiday. So where was I going to rush to anyway?? So cake it was, and a cup of coffe, and I was lucky enough to get what was probably the best seat on the entire island, on the café's porch. And the sun came out for a short time too. Perfect.

Now I really set off to see some sights. I walked back the same way I had come, simply because it was such a lovely walk, and then took the little ferry to take me to Kastellet, Vaxholm's castle, which sits on its own little island. It's origins go back to the early 15th century, but to be honest, I don't think it's a very exciting place. There's a museum, but I didn't go in. Instead, I just walked once around the island, and once around the courtyard, and then went back to catch the next ferry. 

What I did like a lot, though, were all the little details in every corner. Flowery bicycles and boots, and a perfect corner to spend the evening reading in the afternoon sun.

It was getting late in the afternoon, and so there was just time for an ice cream and a stroll around the town's centre and harbour, before it was time to get the bus back to Stockholm.

I'm trying very hard to stick to the "less is more" principle with my photos, but I'm afraid I'm not doing a very good job. But I've got just too many of them. Believe me, this is still just a very small selection, I've got loads and loads more. And I hope you'll join me again next time, when we will finally venture into the city of Stockholm.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Foggy beach walks, sea shells & and a rainy Sunday afternoon

For me, who's living in a landlocked country with no coast anywhere close, a trip to the beach is as exciting as birthday and Christmas together. Walking on the sand, listening to the sound of the waves, the fresh sea air in your face. It's so exciting, that it doesn't even matter that it's about 0 degrees C, the wind biting cold, and so foggy, that you can't see anything of the dramatic cliffs that stretch along the coast. In fact, the special mood created by the fog and dusk made it all even more beautiful.

And then of course there's the sea shells. Such beautiful treasures, that are just too irresistible not to be picked up, even if you can hardly bend down because off all the layers you're wearing to keep warm. Oh, there's another one, and another one, and another one, and yes I know, we already have loads of those, but just this last one. And that one... We returned with a whole pocketful of them.

The following Sunday afternoon was rainy, and after another walk on the beach in the morning, a warming soup at the pub, and a handful of more shells, it was best spend at home sketching those precious shells (or watching Rugby, wathever you prefer).

I'm especially pleased about that little pink shell we discovered, and which looks quite different than all the other ones we found.

Most of the more delicate ones were a little damaged, but I thought that just added to their charm.

I had taken my new cheap paints with me, which so far, I had only used in thick, opaque layers. But I was very pleased to see that they also worked very well with more water, creating those typical watercolour effects.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Putting the paints to the test & Gel pen love

With my Sunday being taken over by formats, file copying, and too many computers on my desk, I decided to try and do a little Sunday sketch at least. To be honest, my new cheap paints, and the newly begun second sketchbook were just too irresistible, and so much more attractive than just watching files being copied. And so I ended up painting my new paints.

Which on top of it being quite a good exercise in perspective (I challenged myself not to do the simple view straight from above this time) also serves as a reference for how the colours look on paper.

I first put some water down in the black area of the box to get an even layer of paint, but I didn't use that much, so I wasn't that surprised when no paint bled through (and I checked about every 5 seconds!). But rather pleased, nevertheless. But I wanted to put them to a test. A real test. I soaked the page with lots of water, and then added several layers of black, to get a really dark background. And guess what: no bleeding through, at all!

I was also very pleased about how beautifully opaque the black became after three or four layers. A perfect background for what I had in mind. Which was trying out my new funky gel pens. I already couldn't live with my white gel pen(s), and I only discovered more colours at the local stationer's the day before.

I spent both my train journeys on Monday, morning and evening, with adding all the flowery details, first white, then with a range of metallic pink, red, purple and green. It was a bit of a challenge for me, as I like the safety of the pencil to start a sketch with. But I really like the result. And I've alreay got a new background prepared. I wonder how many colours they have in their gel pen range?

Unfortunately, I'll have to give tomorrow's Paint Party Friday a miss, as when this (scheduled) post appears on my blog, I'm already in England, for a long relaxing weekend of beach walks, picturesque villages, and cream teas. I just hope that the weatherpeople got it wrong, and it's not going to rain the entire 5 days, as they forecast.

Have a terrific weekend!