Friday 20 September 2013

Life is like a pot of tea...

After my thoughts about art journaling and how I want to use my art journal, I decided to use it to try out an idea I had in my head for a painting. My beloved, but rather neglected tea pot, that somehow got itself to the very back of the cupboard. It's a wonderful little tea pot that is about three times as big inside as it looks from the outside. Amazing. I guess the inspiration for painting it came from a repeat of Victoria Wood's Nice Cup of Tea, an excellent two part series about "Britain's love affair with tea", that was on the other day. Isn't it funny, how inspiration sometimes comes from the most unexpected places?

I want to paint it on a canvas, but decided to make a version in my art journal first. It's an excellent way to try out and see what works, and it also has the advantage that, should I ever actually get to selling a painting, I'll still have a version of it in my journal. I wanted to keep it very simple. Just the teapot on a patterned table cloth.

I was lucky to get about four big bags of all kinds of maps from all over the world recently, and I decided to use one as a background.

My collection of dried used tea bags to be used for some future tea art projects is every growing, and I took one of the labels add it onto the page. It comes from a most delicious butter mint tea that I discovered earlier this year. Tastes like minty toffee. Mmhhhh. Unfortunately, I couldn't find it anymore when I was in England, three weeks ago. And there's no way that something like butter mint tea would ever make its way to Switzerland.

Even though I'm now quite happy with the thought of art journal pages without any words at all, I decided I wanted to add a tea quote - "Life is like a pot of tea, it's all in how you make it". Next now is the canvas. The design's already drawn up and I'm just waiting for the weekend, to get my paints out.

Now I suggest you make yourself a nice cup, or pot, of tea, and hop over to Paint Party Friday to enjoy all the fabulous and inspiring art work that is shared there today.

Wednesday 18 September 2013

Colour or no colour?

I love doing little sketches in my sketchbook. I don't have as much time and energy for getting out my acrylics and a canvas or art journal, as I would like. But I want to do something creative as often as I can, every day, if possible. And sketchbooks are just perfect for that. I have a number of different sketchbooks for different themes and media.

Nature is my biggest inspiration, and I love sketching flowers, and flower/nature patterns. I usually make a pencil sketch first to get the design and composition right, then go over it with a variety of pens.

I love colour, but I also love the purity of the black and white sketch, and I often can't make up my mind whether to add colour, or to leave the pen version. Like in this case, where I really liked the black and white version, but felt that I had to add colour, because this is a sketchbook with proper water colour paper. Such sketchbooks aren't always easy to find here, and this one, I had ordered in the United States, so it felt like a bit of a waste to not add some watercolour paint.

At the end, I made three versions of my simple flower pattern. The first one I left without colour, in the second one I only added colour to the flowers, and in the third one, I added a background too. I love to see the three different versions, and the different effects the paint give. But most of all, I love drawing up the designs. So relaxing, and therapeutic.

Friday 13 September 2013

Treasures from nature, autumn, and a new pen

It's beginning to feel like autumn outside. Mainly grey, misty, cold, wet so far. But in my sketchbook, the warm colours of autumn have already arrived. I picked up some acorns and a beautiful litte pine cone on one of my (much too rare, I admit) Sunday walks.

I was using a pen for a little flower sketch the other day, a beautifully rich, deep black ink pen. It was fast becoming a favourite pen for future sketching and doodling. That was until I added some watercolours and discovered, that, contrary to my belief, it was, in fact, not waterproof. It turned the whole sketch into a bit of a mess, but the bleeding pen, together with the watercolours, made for a quite interesting effect, altogether. So I did another sketch, a simpler one, to explore the possibilities, and I think it works really well, giving my autumn leaves that slight autumny feel of decay. So I'll definitely continue to use this pen. I just have to remember not to use it when I don't want that effect! Maybe having put the pen itself into my sketchbook will help.

I'm already looking forward to sketching all those autumn leaves, and whatever other autumnal treasures nature will throw at my feet. I'm really hoping for a beautiful, colourful autumn.

Linking up with the wonderful Paint Party Friday. Pop over and get inspired!

Wednesday 11 September 2013

More penguins, and some thoughts about art journaling

Sketching those penguins just made me happy, so I painted some more, this time in my art journal, with acrylics.

It doesn't look finished yet, but I'm not quite sure yet what's missing. Maybe some journaling? I must admit that, very often, I find the adding-of-words part of art journaling really difficult. After all, that’s why I paint, because I find it easier to express myself in images than in writing. But that's what art journaling is about, right? Keeping a diary that combines the visual element with some added words, instead of just writing. The journal part is an essential part of it, it’s what makes it an art journal. Or is it? Actually, what is art journaling, exactly?

I only heard the term "art journaling", and learned about it, about two or three years ago. Before that, I just kept a sketchbook, in which I mainly made little versions of the paintings that we did at a painting class, with notes about the techniques, paints, colours, inspiration etc. It didn't have a name. It just was a book most of us in class kept. Then I learned about art journaling. And that’s how I conceived the whole art journaling thing, that it was all about pouring your soul onto the painted pages, in words.

After two or three years of art journaling, and always feeling that somehow, I did it wrong, because of lack of words, I decided to look a bit deeper into the matter of art journaling, to find out more about what it is, how it’s done, how others do it, and what they think what it is.

Definition of "art diary" from Wikipedia:

An art diary, art journal or visual journal is a daily journal kept by artists, often containing both words and sketches, and occasionally including Mixed media elements such as collages. Such books will frequently contain rough workings, in cartoon form, of ideas later to appear in finished works, as well as acting as a normal diary, by allowing the artist to record their day-to-day activities and emotions.

 Definition of "art journal" by Marion Boddy-Evans on
An art journal is a journal or diary that has a strong visual element to it, an expression of your artistic creativity and imagination, not filled only with words like a traditional journal. It's a journal for using your art to express your memories, dreams, and thoughts. How you create the images, and what type of imagery you make, is entirely a matter of personal choice. There are no rules. You can paint or draw, use pen and ink, photos, collage, doodle, stickers... anything and everything.
There’s an added element in both of these definitions to my perception of art journaling (although still including the journaling bit), the element of it serving as a collection of ideas for reference for later paintings. The same idea also appears in wikiHow's "How to Use an Art Journal", which suggests to use your journal for trying out new techniques, and making notes about the experiments (point 4), and also to chart your supplies (point 3) in it.

So what is an art journal? Well, there really are no rules. It's entirely up to you, it’s your playground, to do whatever you want to in it, whatever suits you. And if you don't want to add your thourhgs and emotions in the form of meaningful words to your pages, that's totally fine too. It doesn’t even have to be a journal, and you don’t even have to call it an art journal. As long as you have that special place to play, that’s fine, whatever form it takes, whatever it contains. For me, my art journals are more about trying out new techniques, and ideas, creating references. They are the place where I can uninhibitedly try out ideas for a painting, which I don’t yet want to paint straight on a canvas. It’s a record of my creativity, or to just do 'something', when I don't have the time and energy to paint a 'proper' painting. It’s my playground.

Treat it like a real diary if you want, or simply use it to collect your works and practice. The whole point is that the journal is for you, by you, and its contents are completely up to you. (wikiHow "How to Use an Art Journal")

Unfortunately, I still don't quite know how to finish off my penguin page...

Saturday 7 September 2013

Project 365 | April to August 2013

I just realised that the last time I posted a photo of my Project 365 was that of March. But while I completely forgot to put them on my blog each month, I have been keeping up taking a photo each and every day. 

It can be a bit of a struggle at times, when it's a boring, dull, wet, grey day, and I just can't seem to find anything to capture. On such days, I usually end up taking a photo of food, or tea, or something like that. On other days, it's the choice that makes it difficult to decide which one photo to choose. What is it about that day that you want to remember most? A special sight, place, view? Or something less obvious? Like last weekend, which I spent in lovely Dorset again, when we went to Bridport the last day of August. The obvious photo would have been one from the beach, with the deep blue sky, the yellow cliffs and sand, and the sea. But at the end I chose a photo of the lunch we had at a charming café. Looking at the photo instantly brings back the memory of that day - the market, the delicious lunch, waiting for the bus to take us to the coast, which was over half an hour late, and the rest of the afternoon spent relaxing on the beach. It's the special moments of every day life I want to catch with these photos, not the 'holiday views' (although they're there too, I admit). And "having" to take a photo each day, makes me look out for those special moments, be more aware of what's around me, notice the little things, find beauty in the ordinary.

So here are April to August

Friday 6 September 2013

Village ladies

On a cold and snowy mid-winter day, the ladies of the village have met up for a brisk walk, and some gossip, in the crisp fresh winter air, before retiring to the little village café, to indulge in several cups of Earl Grey, some cake, and of course more gossip.

It's been quite a while since I started, and more importantly, actually finished, a painting on canvas. This little 30x30cm piece developed from a vague idea in my mind, as usual an idea more of colours than subject. I think the landscape was inspired from my lazy Sunday the other week, flopping on the sofa, watching Tea with Mussolini on tv.

It's still hot and summery here, and I must admit, I'm getting a bit fed up with it. I mean, it's okay it being sunny and warm, but it doesn't need to be near 30 degrees anymore. That's probably why I felt I had to paint a cold, snowy scene. Yes, I'm looking forward to winter and snow!

Linking up to the wonderful Paint Party Friday again. Make sure to pop over there and have a look at what everyone's been up to. It's always such a wonderful source of inspiration.