Wednesday, 26 December 2007

my first art doll, am I being led astray?

Well today is boxing day and I have been browsing the web. I found an art doll project which made me think I could show the ladies in my new web-art-group that I could make these too. The group has been getting into what they call Dottee Dolls ( using needle craft) and I have been left behind, not my fault that I am a male of the species.

I have changed several features and developed the design, it has turned out better than I thought for a first attempt. This one was to get some idea of sizes (e.g. how thick and how long should the limbs be?) and I hope I will now be making more. But what about my painting???????? It is crazy I want to paint but being creative is giving me so much pleasure that it is definitely taking a second place at the moment.

Anyway here is the beastie:-

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The head is a wine cork, crowned with a beer bottle top (the contents of both consumed by me during the day). The face is a photo from a TV listings magazine and the hair is from a feathery wool. The body is made from corrugated cardboard, hand-made paper and an open weave material symbolising chain-mail with a breast plate made using heat embossing powder. The limbs were cut from a eucalyptus tree in my back garden.

I intend to develop the idea further, if you are interested in more details of the construction leave a comment with an email address and I will endeavour to get them to you.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

New doodle art

Hi, Sorry to all my friends for the somewhat protracted absence but I have been beset by a number of (minor!) problems at home which have limited my time at my PC. I have also been away for a short break to Bourton-on-the-Water, in the Cotswolds. A marvellous little place and full of little gift shops and tea rooms. I simply had to take a photo of the tree in the middle of the river running through the village - although there is a bit of camera shake apparent, I share it with you here:-

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I have also got three new ATC cards, in the series that I started at the end of last month, they are all what I would call throw-away cards as I feel that I have been learning this new technique of stamping and decorating the images with doodling.

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The last I believe is an example of a ZENTANGLE although I am not certain of this. It is another strange new world which I have been exposed to thro' my new Art Group.
lastly I would like to wish all my readers and friends a happy christmas and a prosperous new year, and leave you with a quick water colour sketch

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Friday, 30 November 2007

ATC with Doodling

I am still collecting stuff for making ATC's, I bought a set of stamps on the theme of the ballet on Ebay; it arrived yesterday. I have also been learning and trying out some new techniques. Doodling seems to be all the rage as I mentioned in my last post. So what else but an ATC using these various elements on a watercolour background:-

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This has (the w/c background) with stamped images of the dancers and ballet shoes, more stamped images framimng the top to represent the stage curtain (don't know what it is called!) and hand written prose to bring it all together.
I may still colour in the dancers clothes to make them stand out a little more - looks fine in my hand but when I saw it on the screen I was tempted to increase the contrast as it looks washed out. but the colour seems a better idea.
There are quotations from in the text.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

ATC addicted

Just back from a short stay in Bridgnorth, Shropshire. lots of new material for paintings, and will hopefully be able to show you these in the next couple of weeks (christmas preparations and my wife permitting). I was going to spend a few hours on Tuesday night sketching from some photos when we got back to the hotel room after dinner and a night out but it didn't quite work out. On the way back to the hotel we were congratulating the council workmen putting up the Christmas lights along the main road. The problem began when we got back to the room, Bang! someone had blacked out the entire town as far as we could see. Too much of a coincidence not to have been those same workmen. Well, at least we got to bed early that night.

My latest creation I am going to post here is another ATC. I have recently joined a group dedicated to expanding our artisitic horizons ( unfortunately small, private and with a waiting list). This does however mean in the field of "crafting " rather than painting but cross-fertilisation is to be hoped for. My first new techniques were heat embossing, great watching the little crystals take on a new appearance as they melt and merge into one another. Art -doodling seems to be a growing trend amongst those doing journaling at the moment and I have also been exposed to this. Both techniques have been put to use in this card:-

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Hope you like it it was meant for a cyber-friend who I thought needed some cheering up!
See you soon with some paintings of Bridgnorth and its environs, cheers

Sunday, 18 November 2007

graphite sketch - The Inn

Hi, not been posting too frequently the past couple of weeks but I have had so much to keep me occupied. You will have seen my latest installations made during the days and weeks prior to helping my son move house - never again - and once this was completed my wife (bless her) decided that we needed to decorate the house for Christmas. So I have been doing lots and lots of painting. Unfortunately, the kind I would rather have put off.

I have however managed to at least do a sketch in graphite pencil (6 and 8B), this is from a photograph (I know) but the text sign on the gable end of the building caught my attention. Presumably, the owners thought that walkers would see it from afar. It is I believe in the peak district and probably relies on walkers for the bulk of it's trade. The animals do show however that I have been neglecting my "drawing skills" of late, I never was a natural with a drawing implement but I do try and if/when sketching regularly I can do better, see my web-site. Anyway here it is:-

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The text ,BTW, was off-centre as depicted, I wonder wether the writer made a mistake with the start position and was one of the reasons I noticed it. The trouble with photos is that it is not easy to change the composition and I wonder if I should have removed the wall and guessed at the hidden parts of the building???
Till the next time, cheers

Saturday, 10 November 2007

getting back to watercolour painting

Well ,I have done well! Starting to paint again after what seems soooo long. It's just like beginning afresh. After the watercolour skies workshop with my art group I have been worrying that I am finding it so difficult to paint what I consider a "good" picture. I am basically a landscape artist, although I have dabbled in all subjects, and this is what I want to be able to do again. I seem to have lost the knack of utilising the learned rules which help to make a painting interesting.

Here are three I finished last week, the first two are terrible and show just how much I have lost out by all this collaging. the third is passable and actually gave me a glimmer of renewed hope.

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Untitled: still trying to get a decent sky, looks like a real beginners work. Not quite sure what is supposed to be happening in the foreground.

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Untitled again. There are some things about this one which I actually quite like. BUT again what on earth is happening in the centre foreground? My only excuse is that I was still trying to paint skies and was not concentrating on the rest of the picture.

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Now this one I am begginning to like. The reference picture that I was using actually had far more trees in it but I was quite pleased with the background so decided to stop. The only problem I have is that in trying to show the texture of the two large treetrunks, I have lightened them and left the more pair of distant trees far too dark. Of course in the reference they were in heavy shade but I have not allowed for this. Of course all is not lost as I can easily take out some of the tone fro these trees. But at least I am beginning to feel that my watercolour brushes will not have to be thrown away.
On a downer, I went to an Art Materials/Craft show at the National Exhibition Center (UK) and found myself buying lots of "crafty" items as well as art materials. Battle is about to commence!
Art or Craft?

Saturday, 3 November 2007

My latest installations!

I thought I would share with you today some photographs of my latest art - this time installations.

I have recently been conned into helping my son move house and I was able to use some of the "found" objects to build a number of installations. They were I am sorry to say only temporary so there is no chance of enabling a tour of this work after the main event at his new house.

I have included four photographs from the "ground floor collection" :-

The first is entitled, "under the stairs" . Note particularly the suggested triangular composition and the references to my son's musical leaning.

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The second is called, "Living Room" . Here there is a humerous reference to the fact that there is actually no room to swing a cat. Note especially, the dining room table moved into this installation to facilitate the first (and only planned) installation in the adjacent space.

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The third photo is called "Behind the Doors" . One end of the dining room where I could actually step inside to take this picture. If I had swung round thro' 180 degrees I would have been faced with a six foot wall of cardboard boxes - not a good subject for a photograph, I think you will agree. better left out of this collection.

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Lastly in this little collection is, "In the Kitchen" . Not too much to get your teeth into here. But do note the fuit and the fridge door providing an excellent counterfoil to the cardboard boxes and the washing-up bowl.

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I feel that this little tour is probably as much as your excited state of mind can take for now, so I will leave "the first floor collection" for another time. Please come back and look out for, "The Master Bedroom, The Landing, The Office and The Smallest Room" .
have a good day. John

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Abstract exhibition canvasses

Alright I know I am milking this, but I thought that you might like the opportunity to see all my abstract 2007 exhibition canvasses in one place. You can find these in previous posts on this blog but I have just posted a video on You Tube, so I thought I it deserved to be included here as well.

Please feel free to comment here or on You Tube if you are registered.

The story can be followed from completing my first canvasses, preparation prior to starting to paint, completion of the portfolio and the exhibition report.

I am unsure of wether I am really up to this, I enjoy it..... but am I imaginative (or original ??) enough to be doing abstract art. Must give this some thought before commiting to do the same again next year. Honest answers will be appreciated......


Tuesday, 23 October 2007

A new video of my ATC's

Just a quickie to let you know that if you can't get enough of my ATC's, I have posted another video on You Tube with the latest from these pages.

I am just trying to be generous and share my work with as many people as possible ;-)

It's quite a nice piece of music backing the video which I obtained from , there is actually some very nice material on there if you are into this sort of thing and it is completely free to download for personal use - nice!

BTW, while you are on You Tube, don't forget to watch some of my other videos. the frog charming one is a real hoot.

and if you like Thomas the Tank Engine, well here he is:-

catch you next time, John

Sunday, 21 October 2007


Just found this blog post on the question of wether something is art or craft.

Queen mum explains this very well. there appears to be a difference but it is one that is arbitrarily applied by ourselves. Once you look deeper then there is really no difference at all.

Perhaps the question should be, " Is this original in its thinking and application, or just an applied technique". Wether we paint or craft this seems very relevant, does the work show originality.

"Craft" is often seen as something you make to an instuction sheet. I.e. You can make the same item again and again. But as I said in my last post, artists are keen on making money by selling prints and this is still seen as art (???) Conversely my own crafting of ATC cards uses items which I have aquired by various means, but it is the way that I use these and the thought that goes into the design which makes them what they are. After all very few painters make their own paints and canvass.

ATC collages and papercraft

I think one of the real addictive issues about these cards is the making of new friends (on the net), and one (whhooo!) becomes used to mail from these new friends landing on the doormat as the postman passes. It is the swapping of the cards which is the truly addictive part - not the making of them.

Having decided this, I feel much better about the addiction than I did. After all there is nothing wrong with making friends. And the swapping of the physical cards is far more interesting than simply swapping blog posts on the web. (Please do not feel offended by this remark, as no offense is intended).

Of course my theory falls down, when I remember that I started this addiction by painting and selling ACEO's on ebay, but was this simply to make money - if so then it is not a well founded premise as anyone selling these on ebay will testify. But I did get sort-of tired of painting them and very readily turned to collage and swapping.

Here is my latest batch:- the first is another waterfall card - a simple almost monchrome card pandering to the ladies who love cats. This is called, "Feline"

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The next was knocked off very quickly and was done for a particular purpose, which it suited quite well. I do not ask anymore, " Is it art?" I know what it is and what that purpose is! The title is "Hearts".

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The next two were more in my developing style ( according to some) and both were swapped within minutes of my posting them in my gallery on the Do-Craft site where I do most of my swapping. In fact one of them, "Remember" was requested twice and I am having to do a similar card for the second swap. Again, art is bought into question - but my contention is that making a similar version is no worse, probably a lot better than providing prints.

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Titled, "Remember"

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Titled, "Dream"
So, I have decide that it is OK to be addicted to swapping ATC cards. Now I must work on making more time for some "proper art". I will let you know how it is going next time.
By the way, I forgot to mention that my exhibition canvasses will be going on to Ebay over the next few weeks if you are at all tempted. They are priced quite inexpensively, which is another topic of discussion which I will put off for another day.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

New watercolours at last

Well here I am and not a collage in sight, promise.

This week in my art group we had a fun session. the subject of the workshop was "fast and loose with skies"; the leader of the session was one of the group. We have about half-a-dozen such sessions in each year in order to stretch and introduce new techniques/media to the group. Well most of us had used w/c's and of course we all paint skies - don't we? This particular member had been on a course with Ron Ranson and her paintings had improved tremendously because of it so we asked her to lead this evening for us.

Of course I quickly lost interest in blue skies. I always was a rebel! and my paintings began to look more like my recent abstracts, what a surprise. Such as:-

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In the end everybody had great fun and we all felt that we had learned something. Personally I have always had great difficulty using the HAKE for painting; I find that it is either too wet and there is water everywhere, or too dry and the brush takes on a life of it's own. But I tried it once more and again tended to go my own way:-

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At least I actually got out a brush and put some paint to paper. If I am honest, I even have a sneaking suspicion that I quite like the outcome; and guiltily wondered if they might make useful background for some collage work.
I did in fact take a 2.5x3.5 inch mount and take several photo's to see if they might even make one or two ACEO's (there's a freudian slip, I am now thinking of paintings in ths format as ACEO whilst collages are ATC's). Anyway here's how they might look with a little digital enhancement to the contrast since I took the photo's with flash and it has washed a lot of the colour depth out.

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Well, make your own mind up, it's not great art but I have to have my fix!

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

ATC's with a twist

What a title? couldn't think of anything better so I have borrowed this from.....???.. will add the link asap when I have found it again!!!!

ATC's that fold / open / or something similar are the next step to my getting to grips with these little critturs, perhaps when I have had my fill I might be able to put them down and get on with my life as a painter.

First of all, I bring you two more examples of recent cards:-

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There I Go - from the title of the music folio print

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Million Dollar Baby - using another print of a sheet music folio cover

The next card is one of the so-called waterfall cards ( no water and no falling) but the pictures are presented one by one when the tag is pulled, a great novelty effect.

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Beauty (can you think of a better title?)

The last one I present here is a simple card with opening doors (rather than a more straightforward fold) which is unfinished. I had had a bit of a cold which caused me to lose a little sleep the day before I did this and I actually made it late at night......... You can see in the picture where I cut off the edge of the front of the card (LHS of the front) instead of the print which I had just matted it to. We all make mistakes!!! I stuck the cut-off scrap back on to the backing and decided not to finish it, I will start again and try to do it properly. But at least I got to see what it would look like.

the first picture is of it open
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and the second shows the doors closed
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Another mistake was the mismatch in the height of the handles (brads), Must remember to leave watching TV to when I am not making things.

This is one of a number of ATC's which I have found on the web, which are more images on a simple piece of card. I will find the damn link and edit this post soon, to include it. More of these cards with a twist to come soon.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Addicted to Collaged ATC's

I have most definitely become addicted to these pesky little works of art. They are taking over my life, well my art anyway.

At one time I would settle down to paint (in any of several media) draw or sketch and creat something from scratch. At first I started to paint ACEO's, and found that this pastime overtook the creation of larger artworks. I had to be really determined to start something on a larger sheet of paper/card.

Nowadays, I am spending all my time cutting and sticking bits and pieces to little scraps of paper and card. I need help. I think I am even suffering withdrawal symptoms when I don't use the scissors for a couple of days. Are there any substitutes which could help to wean me off these monsters. Now that I have discovered the docrafts site I am even making some of them 2 and three at a time to satisfy members who want to swap with me. Now is the time to call a halt before I become too far gone, I must start to ration my ATC making sessions and pick up my paint brushes again. I will keep you informed.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch ......... here are a few more :-

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All offers of help to my ARTYFAX gallery

Tuesday, 2 October 2007


Nearly forgot! Had the first group meeting tonight since the exhibition and started the long road to next years event.

We have considered many new ideas and I will, as promised post them here as I have something concrete to report.

As a group of "leisure artists" we know that selling is always going to be difficult but we would be happy to simply see more people step thro' the doors. Our main concerns are to advertise and make the group known locally so that we can attract potential members. As a small group we often do not have sufficient fund for special events/evenings. Secondly, we feel that perhaps just to put on a show to which we can invite friends and relatives and get a real feeling of satisfaction - a job well done - is an end in itself. Sales would be nice but none of us see that as a primary purpose of the event.

We spent lots of time discussing marketing, but felt that the venue may have been wrong. We will be looking at a venue in the centre of the large shopping centre nearby (SOLIHULL) where we might gain from passing trade, as it were. The local aspects will be taken care of with smaller shows at the local library and at local fetes (or even craft fairs, for those members who would like an opportunity to sell their work). These smaller events could also be used to market the main show. More of this later.

The other topic was wether to change our name. we have been the KNOWLE ART GROUP since our formation about 15 years ago. It has been suggested that we change our name to KNOWLE ARTISTS. It may not be relevant to the above problem but we all felt it had a nice ring and was a little more upmarket. Many potential members expect to see a teacher/leader in the group and we are very much a co-operative. We do hold workshops and seminars but one of the group will volunteer to lead the event and everybody benefits especially the leader. We think the name change reflects the way the group works.

So, the problem remains but we have at least made one decision which we hope will turn us around. I will try to regularly update you with our deliberations over the next few months.

More collaged ATC's

Well here I am a few days after the big day and I have been busy swapping ATC's with my buddies on the Do-Crafts site . I seem to have let this form of expression take over my creative juices. I don't know if it is because it is like a new toy, but I am simply not into painting at the moment. Here are a few more examples of my latest creations:-

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Simply called WEST WIND

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It is also significant that I am now calling these cards ATC's and not ACEO's. This is simply because I am swapping them. Always did find that I tended to buy as many as I sold of my watercolour ACEO's so no probs there. Maybe because they are different to the cards produced by a largely "crafting" population on Do-Crafts but they seem to zip off the shelves like nobodies business. Although to be fair the good cards do go quickly. there is a large and active membership -which I have found to be very friendly.
Doing something different is also very good for one's creativity. So as well as enjoying the making of these cards I am also very pleased with the results. Lots more to post soon.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

The exhibition opens

Hi all, today was the day! All the hard work came to a head, we turned up at the venue at 8.30am and spent the next 90 minutes putting up our work for perusal by the general public - hoping it might turn out to be the buying public.

The first photo here shows a general view of the main area of the display:-

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A close up shows the centre of our display - shown here only because it has the name of the group writ large.

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It might be of interest to note that the display boards were designed and made by ourselves, this means that we can put on exhibitions of various sizes in almost any area. Each board has a central area and hinged side areas. We can therefore butt-up the boards to create a large display area. A feeling for the size can be got by considering that the larger central paintings are 16X20 inches, mount size. I.e. not counting the frame dimensions. The boards are stabilised by fitting them into table top runners. They have been an excellent investment for a group such as ours, we no longer have to look for venues where we can hang on the walls.
We have worked hard at planning the installation so that on the day we have a good idea where the boards will go in the room/venue. We know which paintings will go where and we set up teams to do the necessary tasks, everybody knowing what to do and in what order. A real military operation. In this case, we can provide the basic layout of tables and lay banqueting roll on them. Install ten display boards, seven table easels and three free standing easels. We also set up tables for program and information sheets, visitors book, and treasurer (hoping that we will see sales). We then hang/install about eighty paintings in the space of 90 minutes. Quite a feat for seven people.
The day was not as successful has we would have liked with only half the number of visitors that we would have expected:

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Also we did not make any sales - what a downer! We spent most of the afternoon discussing ways of marketing the group and our exhibitions for next year - how sad is that? but we did have several interested people asking about the group and its programme. We have always said this is the main reason for all our work on staging these events, sales are a very welcome side effect but we do not paint with sales as a target. we are all hobby painters, if I can call us that without upsetting anyone.
I will post some of our thoughts on marketing as we harden up our thinking and plans over the next few weeks. One thing that we have decided is that planning for our next exhibition starts today. In the past we have tended to leave it until fairly late in the day. We can do the paintings! We can set up the exhibition! It is the unpalatable marketing aspect that we do not get a grip on. This, we have promised ourselves will change!

watch this space!

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Exhibition and Collaged ATC's

Well almost everything is ready for next Saturday's opening. Few last minute admin details, like payingfor the rental of the hall in advance. Making sure we have adverts strategically placed in local shops and noticeboards. And a few other things which have to be done but will only start to take up space here. If any body is local, the exhibition is held at The Knowle Village Hall and will be open from 10.00 am.

I am still making ATC's, and include another batch here, the first two are made with the old family photographs which I have previously mentioned

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The next few are again something that I now do for relaxation - whatever happened to my sketching?

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Well - back to more mundane things, I have to go and help serve up the sunday dinner, catch you later...............

Thursday, 20 September 2007

just joined up with Blogrush

Just found out about this apparently simple way to increase readership. Blogrush offers a way of directing new readers to your blog, try it out by clicking on the link in my sidebar. If you like it it is easy to join and benefits could be worthwhile - try it!

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Some recent ATC's made for relaxation

Hi, I'm back from a wonderful, but far too short, holiday and raring to go. I am busy with my art group colleagues putting together the last few admin details for the exhibition on 25th of this month. So much to do even when the paintings are complete. Planning the layout, advertising, preparing catalogues and posters, hand-outs about the group and 1001 other little tasks.

But, I can still find time to relax, and what better way than enjoying making some ATC cards.
Here are a "random" selection made just prior to hols:-

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As you acan see the early style which I seemed to have adopted is changing. May be due to the ebay group which I have joined, Papercrafting for fun and money , a new group and as yet has few members with a bias toward (greeting)card making. It is however a lively group and some of the techniques are rubbing off. I found a web site, DO-CRAFTS which has a very active swapping fraternity and again I am learning new techniques.
A pair of scissors and a pot of glue, all that is required to start swapping. Great fun!