Tuesday, 29 December 2009

collage on canvas - ding dong merrily on high

Hi, hope you have had a great christmas, I have had a couyple of great family days and then a night at our favourite hotel in the Cotswolds. Just chilling out for an evening ( great live music) and then retiring to a comfortable bed with no worries about getting home.

Today I decided to do a little crafting. A challenge on PDA was to create a piece of art with the theme of your favourite carol. Here's mine;


It was made using a stretched canvas ( approx a4 size) as the backing. The top is actually a christmas wrapping paper and the lower portion uses teal tissue paper. All images are downloaded from the collage group on Flickr. The text is hand written. It is not completed yet and (horrors!!) the glue has stained the backing paper. I need to do something about this even if it is only to paint the whole surface with the same glue to even out this unwittingly created effect. I needed to post this in the challenge to meet a deadline, so decided to post here as well. I do always say that I will post the turkeys as well as the art I like. I am sure that I can do more with this and will post the piece again when I consider it improved ...... I do like the contrasting colours tho', need to work on this
BTW a happy new year to all my readers and friends

Monday, 21 December 2009

More hand-made christmas decorations

I have a few more photos to share. My son has made a christmas wreath for the front door, and a star for the christmas tree from bits and pieces he collected from a walk in the fields across the road from us.

For the star he collected a few straight twigs, de-barked them ( not strictly necessary) and useed rafia to create a five-pointed star. This was then wrapped in red and green ribbons.

For the wreath he made a basic shape by tieing willow twigs into a circle and then layering this with holly, ivy, laurel and some mistletoe ( which we had to buy); finishing off with a red ribbon bow.


I also thought that I would show you some gingerbread biscuits which I,me, myself baked. I was quite proud of this, my very first attempt. I am a dab hand at breads and things like stews and fry-ups but these were my first biscuits. Sandra is going to ice these today before they are hung on the tree, which will more or less complete the project. Next year we will probably do the same again but give ourselves a little more time.


Ok, that's it for today, may be back tomorrow with a few more pics.
BTW, we went out last night to see the 40th anniversary tour of Steeleye Span and they did not sing Gaudete - what a let down. However, we did enjoy ourselves. It was a very icy night, so I did not have a drink in the interval (I don't do soft drinks) but enjoyed a pint of my son's christmas ale. A recipe using cinnamon to give a festive flavour to a very enjoyable pint; he is becoming a very expert home brewer. Cheers!!!

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Christmas comes but once a year...

thank goodness!

What a busy couple of weeks. My wife really gets into the spirit of Christmas but does it take some organising? She runs herself (et moi!) ragged with buying all the food and trimmings, presents, cards, organising this and that and generally getting quite stressed out. I'm a laid back sort of guy, but if I value my bits and pieces, I have to get involved. It's not that I am a scrooge, but I believe most things would take care of themselves... if allowed to.

Anyway, we visited Baddesly Clinton recently. It is a National Trust property, and for those of you from across the water; this being the UK organisation which looks after our national heritage. Grand ( and some not so grand) houses, mansions and castles, etc and huge swathes of our countryside. This year for the first time, they had opened this property at christmas as it had been decorated in a victorian style. It was really a spledid sight. The volunteers who man the property had done a wonderful job. We were so knocked out with it all that we decided to try something similar at home this year.

Depsite mountains of decorations in the loft, it was to be a hand-made theme throughout; apart from the lights and a few items like candy canes, etc. So, being seen as the crafty one, I was set down to creating decorations for the tree. A couple of paper chains ( I remember making something like this at school, I am sure) and vintage style tags. Well I was making a few of these things anyway, so what's a few more. Thought you might like to see the results of my labours.

Here are a few of the tags and a partially decorated tree; it still requires in this photo some gingerbread biscuits and a star which is to be made from holly and ivy from the garden. Will try to get another shot posted when completed.








Well got to go and dig the car out of the snow now, beginning to look like a real Christmas. Hopefully back very soon with more crafty creations for Christmas.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Still ATC'ing, just in case you wondered.

I looked back over the last few posts ( which seem to have taken me back a little while...) and noticed that I don't seem to have posted many atc's recently. I am still collaging, even tho I have taken to showing off and reporting on the progress with my watercolours. I thought I would just slip in a few atc's just to prove a point. If you know my Flickr photostream, this is not a point of contention but for those of my readers who know me via this blog it is a bit of a catch up.

Firstly, two cards created for a challenge swap on the group Artful Ideas , the theme was to involve an image (victorian ladies) transfer onto fabric. Transfer on to fabric seemed to be something new for many members, but some marvellous work came out of this challenge.

lady with fan

I used an acrylic medium as the transfer agent for my ink-jet prints. I brushed a thin layer onto the image and also onto the fabric, brayered well to achieve a close contact, waited until the medium was dry ( overnight!) and then wetted the ear of the image slightly and rubbed gently with a finger tip. A little water as the paper seemed to get too dry and continual rubbing soon cleared the paper and left two quite clear images for these atc's. I used flash on this photo so the B&W image seems a little washed out and the sequins have taken on a wonderful multi-coloured appearance. I was going to re-shoot the photo but haven't got around to it; maybe tomorrow?

lady with dragon fly Photobucket

The fabric with the images was loosely cut out around the said images and bonded to a backing. This comprised of another complementary fabric wrapped around a card to provide the backing for the atc. I found some little used bits and pieces for adding detail, including the dragonfly for the second card. Don't ask how this fits the theme, it just seemed to look good. A devil to pack for posting out though! However, I was very pleased to receive this award from Nancy for this particular atc - thanks Nancy!

Secondly, a couple of cards created for a challenge swap on PDA. The theme this time was a vintage christmas. This is a newish site and only the second atc swap, so not too many entries but hoping for great things. I used images of Father Christmas from Suzie Que on Flickr and made a couple of straightforward collaged cards.

a christmas carol

bearing christmas gifts

Well there you have it - atc's are definitely still on the menu. I don't think I could give them up if I wanted to ... I have found so many friends in the process of swapping cards, I know I will carry on making these cards for as long as I am able.

You may be interested in the FREE images offered by Lisa Vollrath in her christmas countdown, why not check it out. You will not be disappointed.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

sketching again

Recently I have been starting to paint again, and this has resulted in my taking a sketchbook out with me. I have to admit that this is something I haven't done for far too long. I do enjoy sketching but there doesn't seem much point when I am mostly making art by collaging and other similar pusuits. BUT painting, now there is a reason for carrying a sketchbook. I always preferred working from my own sketches.

I have been away for a couple of days ( a yearly treat before settling down to the rigours of christmas) and came back with a few entries in my sketchbook. I was particularly pleased with this sketch as I always considered that long distance scenes like this were "not my thing". The view from our hotel window however was so inspiring, that I just had to have a go. It is a view across the front of the hotel which is situated on Cleeve Hill, near Cheltenham. The village of Bishop's Cleeve is just below the escarpment and Tewksbury is just the other side of the M5 motorway, not seen in the mists. The Malvern Hills form the backdrop of the scene. On this particular morning the tops of these distant hills were standing out from the heavy mist.

cleeve hill double page spread from my sketch book

I also include here a watercolour sketch in which I am trying to use the techniques I have been practising. The scene is largely out of my head.

Winter Tree Line

I am quite pleased with it however and will be carrying on with this technique until I am happy that I have got it taped.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

New watercolour painting - "graveyard shift"

Well... never quite got around to completing the wip paintings in my recent post, however I have finished another painting. The reference for this work was taken from a photograph ( not unfortunately mine) of St Just-in-Penwith, Cornwall which was published in Leisure Painter in 2001. Again, I used the technique and methods which we were shown by Barry Herniman. I love the strong coloured, transparent washes and the object of this technique seems to be to get these washes to interact and put in just enough detail to make the paintings interesting.

I called the painting, " Graveyard Shift", a view from the church across some old gravestones towards the village.
It is about 20 x 16 inches, on 200lbs "not" paper

graveyard shift

I still need to work on this technique, but I do believe that I am starting to get something from it. I certainly like what I am doing, and judging by the comments I am getting elsewhere, so do other people. Anyway, it is giving me enough confidence to keep plugging away. ....Just one problem with this is the halo around the moon. I must try to do something with it.

off now to do a little crafting...

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

vintage books to be scanned

I came across a couple of books not long ago meaning to use the as text pages for my collage work, however both have some very interesting photos and images which I now intend to scan in and make available on my flickr photostream.

the first is a book called the Romance of modern inventio by Archibald Williams. According to ABE Books, it was published in 1907, however it does mention dates as modern as 1909 - obviously a reprint and updated version. there is for instance in the mechanical flight section mention of Bleriot's flight across the English Channel but not the first flight across the atlantic in 1919. So if it is a reprint it must be pior to that landmark in aviation history. Here is the cover of the book

the romance of modern invention

and a typical modern vehicle...

horseless carriage

This book is actually in very good condition perhaps due to the fact that it was awarded as a school prize ( from the head of Durham School, 1931) and was treasured by its recipient.

The second book is A history of everyday things in England 1066-1799. It is actually two volumes in one cover and was published 1917. Written and illustrated by MArjorie and C H B Quennell.

A history of everyday things in England 1066 - 1799 ( two volumes in one cover)

a typical colour illustration, showing 17th century costume...


I intend as I said to scan more illustrations / photos and graphics from these books and place them on the flickr photostream for use by anyone who would like to use them for craft / art work. As both books are from prior to 1922, there should be no problem with copyright if I understand the legal issues properly.

If you do use any of these images, I would appreciate a heads-up to see what you have made of them, thanks in anticipation.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Inspired by a water colour demonstration.

Last week, my art group was lucky enough to receive a demonstration from a wonderful artist, Barry Herniman. If you have been a regular reader of this blog you will know that I paint what are described as "loose" watercolours. I do not usually include a lot of what I think of as unnecessary detail. Seeing Barry demonstrating as given me a new perspective. As he approached a stagae which I would have considered as the finished work, he then went on to add the details. STILL painting quite loosely, he bought the painting to life. I was absolutely inspired to get down to some watercolour painting of my own. His technique/methods are not unique and I have used most of them but his approach to putting the paint on to the paper and allowing the colours to mix right there instead of in the palette was a joy to watch. He is also a great performer (??LOL) and everybody enjoyed the evening even a friend who came along for the evening but does not really take to paintings in his style.

I had some very heavy papers handy, which I had been worried about using (spoiling them?) and decided that these would be just right to try oput the method which needs a substantial watercolour paper to stand up to the treatment. I had purchased one of his books at the evening, in order to have something to refer to, and thought that I was ready to begin. My first attempt was of a scene in the Lake District, as a work in progress here it is....

WIP - watercolour painting, Wasdale Head, Cumbria

Actually, the scene is Wasdale Head. I may have chose this because it felt comfortable !!! It was very like a liot of my previous work although for the past couple of years whilst I have been painting aceo's and collaging I have not done anything approaching this size, somewhat larger than A3. I have been quite conservative about the colours, except for the sky which is an unaturally deep blue, but they were mixed directly on to the paper so a bit of a success, I think. I would have probably considered this complete........... BUT I now think I should add more detail and "random" marks to bring the whole thing together, add life and finish it off. I will repost this painting when it is completed.

I did not complete it straight away as I wanted to play with this new method of mixing colours on the paper. So For my next attempt, I chose a painting by Jaume Muxart. It was a colourful mountain scene, actually on a set of coasters bought as a gift for my wife by some friends who had just been on holiday in spain. I saw the image and I was immediately inspired, and just what I needed as a refernce for this next painting. I often find when learning a new technique/method that using a painting I like, allows me to concentrate on the techniques involved. This painting definitely had some very strong and unusual colour combinations, just right for what I intended to do. I do not know if this an actual location, it was on a gift sold at the Museo de Montserrat, and I simply have not been able to track it down on the internet, so I don't even know its title. My version, after the first stages - it is still a WIP - is given here

A work in progress

I have not mentioned that mixing the paint on the paper requires wet-into-wet, but I hope that is obvious. Using only three (well...? alright, I cheated with an additional blue and an earth colour) primary colours I mixed up a quantity of the each colour with water in a deep palette. Took a large brush and started appling the colour to a very minimal drawing. Apart from adding colour, using tissue to remove it from some areas, making marks with the wrong end of the brush and a little spattering were all employed. I am now ready to complete the painting and add the detail. Again I will post the work again when it is completed.

However, tonight I am starting a third, so watch this space for developments

Monday, 2 November 2009

A holiday in Lanzarote.

OK... here as promised ( now don't start groaning) are a few interesting photos and one you can take with a pinch of salt.

We decided after we had booked the UK holiday at Gunton Hall and the weather turned out to be so bad this summer (??) that as MIL was now safely esconced in a residential home and it was our 40th anniversary, that we would treat ourselves We therefore booked a second holiday in Lanzarote. It was in a hotel in Playa Blanca that we had popped into last year and found to be the very epitome of plush. Called the Princess Yaiza Suite Hotel it claimed to be built to the highest standards and boy did we agree with them . A fantastic ( highly-priced) holiday to pamper ourselves.

The two things which stood out for me were the "jungle" in the reception area. Running water filled the streams and paths around the area contained seating areas where residents could rest and enjoy the scenery.


The rooms were of course superb. The size of our room was larger than the ground floor area of our semi-detached, which is itself not a small property. usually even the best of hotels has chairs/seating/etc, but this one in what was the base specification room ( couldn't go too mad) had a kitchenette, a dining area and a sitting/TV area plus a large walk-in wardrobe. certainly got our moneys worth. The maid came in during the late afternoon to turn-down the bed and each night left choclates and a note wishing, "good night". Fine... but on one night my better half had left her nightdress on top of the ded and the maid folded it in an incredibly novel way,


This simply left us bemused at the level of detail/service. Of course the food in the restaurants, all seven of them, was fantastic, we enjoyed the jazz club on site, and the rest of the entertainment in the bars/etc. I have never had such service from every aspect of the hotel and its staff. An incredible holiday. The rear entrance to the hotel opened directly onto the beach and I simply had to take a night-time view and have included a day-time view for comparison.



And of course, those who were reading this blog last year will know that I enjoy the sea, so here I am horsing around in the clear,blue, calm-as-a-millpond water.


We did of course hire a car and visit several of the tourist sites, including this year the Cesar Manrique Fundation and Teguise, where we found (well one of us did and it wasn't me) some fantastic local craft shops where we parted with more of the hard-earned.
All-in-all a fantastic holiday and one we would love to do again but may have to think hard about it. More crafting/art in my next post.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Holiday at Gunton Hall

OK well here I go with some holiday snaps, not many and I hope that they entertain rather than bore you. Our first break was a trip to Gunton Hall, Lowestoft. This is a Warner Holiday Resort Hotel. Bit of a holiday camp for older people really as there are no kids allowed; if truth be known, this is what probably attracted us. At the start of the year the weathermen promised us a "barbecue summer" and with MIL worrying us, I was keen not to go too far away so that we could easily return home if necessary. Anyway, I hate the airport "thing" when going on holiday and felt it would save all the hassle this year. We have been used to going for one week so as not to be away for too long, so it seemed a good idea.

Despite the ensuing, awful weather thru the summer, we actually had a very good week as you can see in a couple of the photos. The first is a view from our chalet, across the golf course ( aka putting green).


The second is of the main complex with its indoor swimming pool and leisure centre a view from the lakeside.


We had a lovely little chalet with a private patio and on one day a dragon fly ( I think) must have popped over from the nearby lake to pay us a visit.


The nearest beach was only a few minutes walk away but nothing too grand. A very quiet, somewhat pebbly beach, with ( so I am told) a nudist area a little way further down. Never did see anybody except fishermen there tho, was a little too late in the year for swimming and the schools were open after the summer holidays. Even the local amusement park only opened at the weekend. About the only thing of note were the old, weatherbeaten groynes. Oh and a small wind generator farm visible up the coast at Great Yarmouth.


Anyway, we had a great break... we really only used the hotel as a feeding/sleeping station and explored the coastal villages as we had not visited this part of the UK before. Also the Hotel had nightly entertainment but as it late in the season, we did not think that this was up to much, but it helped to pass a little time in the evenings after dinner. My next post will show a couple of photos from the other holiday - this time in Lanzarote - see you soon.

Monday, 26 October 2009

still here

Wow, can't believe that I have not made any posts in such a long time. I have had two holidays a little apart as this has been a special year for my wife and I ( 40th aniversary) and we have gone overboard and pampered ourselves. The first was a holiday in Norfolk ( here in the UK) as at the start of the year we thoought that we wanted to stay close to home because we were unsure about MIL after she had a fall and suffered broken bones. Later on after it had been decided that she should really be in a residential home we decided a second holiday in Lanzarote was now a possibility, found the most expensive and exclusive hotel and booked with them. Both were enjoyable as the weather was very kind both times although a little bit stressed at mealtimes in the UK. Is it cheaper for companies to restrict mealtimes to limited hours?

Anyway what have I been creating recently? Here are four pieces, two digital and two collages


This was for a challenge for a flickr group, and the theme was what do you get if you cross.... in my case I crossed a troupe of terpsichorean french ladies with an optomist; result CAN-CAN


A digital collage ( for a challenge on PDA) with a theme of RED.

Another digital collage ( again for a challenge on PDA) with a theme of Halloween/black cats.


And yet a third ( for a challenge on PDA) again with a theme of RED. This was called, "When I grow up"
Well that's it for now, I think I am very nearly up to date with real life so hopefully my posts will resume their usual timeliness.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Still creating atc's

It has been a little while since I posted any atc's on here, you could be forgiven for thinking that I had given up creating in this format. However of course, I could do no such thing, I not only enjoy creating the small art works but havae made so many friends over the net that I could no more contemplate stopping than of cutting off my right hand.

My latest series were for a swap challenge on Flickr, many of my friends will also be members of Maggies Monday Musings (MAMMA). This week the challenge theme ( set by Nancy )was anything to do with water. Well I had to do a little thinking for this one. Once I had my thoughts gathered I then spent quite a while gathering the elements I wante to use. I ended up with enough material for several cards but only entered three, or I might have been swapping with myself. The three entered were:-




I found a number of WC Fields quotes on water which I liked and may well turn them into a series. Here is one which I made which I definitely do not like now that it is finished. But I post it here to remind me that not all cards turn how how you want them to.


I now feel that the background is far too busy for the subject and that the text does not stand out well enough. But that is why I called the blog, "the trials and tribulations ....etc". I am not upset by having to show the failures.

I also made one from a balsa wood boat in a frame which I was given, sorry can't remember the source, but my thanks to whoever it was. I find that filing bits and pieces is a difficult enough job and always mix up the little gifts losing track of where they came from. here is that atc:-


and finally for today's post, a postcard. I found in my altered book, and with other "larger" formats that the simplicity of my atc's is somewhat lost. I don't know wether it is because there is more working space available but I seem to get more elements on the larger formats compared to atc's. Here is the postcard, "Confuscious, he say........."


I also found a number of quotes from Confuscious, so there is another potential series in the pipeline. This was entered for a challenge on Paper, Digital Art and Images by Kim or PDA for short.
Maybe I will include a few more atc's in a midweek posting.....

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

country kitchen pursuits; wine, jams and chutneys

Here is another strange hobby of mine. Well not one I do much these days my old bones don't take kindly to being asked to stretch for those luscious fruits at the top of bushes and trees.

Sandra and I have always enjoyed foraging / collecting wild fruits for our larder. We always had a supply of jams, chutneys and wine and beers on hand throughout the year. However as we grew older ( some would say wiser), we took to wandering around farm shops and markets for home made goodies to buy.

This year however, My tomato crop has been disatrous, the whole greenhouse had to be emptied because of rampaging blight in the plants. I tried to control it by removing the affected leaves but by the time I gave up the stalks were a very sad site and the fruits were beginning to rot anyway. It has been a ver6y wet year in the UK for the third summer in a row. Maybe that it the reason, or contaminated fertilizer in the "inexpensive" growing bags.

Anyway we decided that this year we would make use of the freebies growing in the wild around our house, being lucky enough to have open countryside within walking distance. yesterday we decided enough was enough. We have collected crab apples, blackberries, elderberries, sloes, plums, damsons. Some have already been turned into jams and jellies:-


the plums will be converted into plum and cinnamon jam later today. (Did I say that Sandra does all the cooking, my job is the difficult to reach fruits and cleaning of them). BTW, the bottles at the back contain sloe gin - steadily maturing away. Great at Christmas.

Some of our crop has been frozen:-


and just a little eaten in pies and crumbles; thankfully no pictures, LOL

We seem to passed on this idea of food/drink for ree as our son, the one still at home, has been making wine, is latest is a batch of oak leaf wine. Just bottled from a crop of new leaves earlier this year. He also has an arty streak - notice the hand-made lables and the dripping wax seal on each bottle:-


What a week, I ache all over but it is so satisfying especially when it comes to eating it. Blackberry jam on my toast this morning ... heaven.

more craftiness soon............

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Home made rubber stamps from erasers

OK I finally did it. I bought myself a set of lino-cutting tools from Ebay ( where else? ) and made a series of three stamps from soft erasers from my local supermarket. I set out in this first rubber stamp project to make stamps which I could use as to create backgrounds for my atc's. I will hopefully move on to more detailed images as I get used to the tools.

First here are photos of the stamps ( after use, as the inks seem to have dyed the rubber ) two of them are actually on both sides of one eraser.



Two are very similar and the third is an attemp at a scroll-like pattern.

The stampings from these look a little like the following:




The scroll pattern was a first attempt and I have now cleaned up the area which was cut away. The rubber is so soft (?) that it has to be a very deep cut to avoid spurious marks on the paper.

Finally here are a some atc's using two of the backgrounds:



and also


I certainly enjoyed the experience and will be making more stamps this way (and also using corks ) as soon as I can get enough time to gather my senses.

Try this yourself...