Monday, 10 August 2015

Pocket hugs….a little animal totem, a box of love, hope, peace….

I made some pocket hugs with my son a few years back for a lovely friend of mine who needed some hope and love sending her way. I told her to keep them close to her, to know we were thinking of her every time she held or looked at them. We blessed them with happy positive thoughts, kisses and love before we sent them.

I have created quite a few since those first ones and have mainly stuck with an animal theme, as they bring me and others some essence of calm and connection with nature.

Animal totems express the spirit nature of the species and exemplify qualities we can learn from. They are psychological and spiritual symbols that convey to us qualities we are needing or lacking in our daily lives. They are a mirror of us reflecting our own innate qualities to help ourselves better understand our connection to all things.

Although my little pocket hug animal totems are not of a traditional style, my representations hopefully also bring a little smile and happiness when viewed.

Created in ink and acrylic paint on natural stones from the beach, they are then protected with a varnish.

 I have now made some little match boxes to put them in to send and keep them safe.

A pocket hug…… a little critter, a little hope, a little love, a little peace, a little calm, a little friend x

I will have to photograph some of the others and the new ones I am creating very soon, you can always request your animal.

Everybody needs a little hug now and again x.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

A different twist…on the wedding guestbook.

To say I have had a year of change is an understatement, a constant test of perseverance, strength and patience, finding friends, leaning heavily on my supporters (thank you and sorry I still am) and learning to try not give a hoot, the latter I find hard.

So in this year of change I have sketched and noted many ideas on paper and in my head. The following is my first play on 'Til death do us part. Lots of changes can be made and ideas always welcome. 

This one leans heavily on the darker side, more suited to those who like a touch of the macabre, but sums up the words perfectly.

Many more variations still to be doodled for ideas for Alternative Wedding Guestbooks, on this one guests sign the hearts.

 til death do us part, etsy shop

This one is sized 16" x 20" and features 240 hearts approx, less obviously is a possibility but they then would be bigger.

Start of drawing.

                                   Layout done, centre detail done, inking hearts, lots of hearts!

Close up of centre detail.

                                                     Guests sign their name on hearts. 

Lots more ideas coming soon, not all weddings have to be pretty pastels, rustic, or retro, I am always looking for an alternative, something a bit different, bit like me really.

Check it out here if you fancy having one of my alternative guestbooks as part of your life:

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Hand pulled Prints: Monoprinting part 1

Additive Monoprinting

 Bear with triangles.
There is something about print making that excites me, the processes involved, the experimentation, how 2 prints are never the same even in the same run. Hand pulled prints are my number one purchase when I buy art……..I also love creating them.

Monoprinting is easy to set up, easy to clean up, no need for a press, quick, experimental and as it's name implies each piece is an individual run as it is only pulled from the plate once.

There are many ways to create a monoprint here is just one of the processes that I use:
The additive technique, painting directly onto a piece of glass with a water based block printing ink.

The glass I use (can be easily sourced…it was a glass chopping board, originally it had a vinyl picture adhered to the back..this I peeled off to create a clear piece, it has to be smooth. The good thing about a glass chopping board is that it's thick, has rounded edges and can be moved easily………if you have a granite worktop this can also be used or a metal surface.

Monoprinting equipment:
A baren and/or a wood or metal spoon
Paper: good cartridge/drawing paper but not too thick
Glass plate
Paint brushes
Block printing ink (water based or oil based depending on your finish preference and cleanup choices.)
Paper towel

Stage 1.
Decide on an image to create. I quickly sketched some very basic animal outlines. I then placed the image under the glass.

Stage 2.
The printing ink I use is very thick, it is water based and sticky when brushed onto the glass. I paint the image, leaving areas white that need to be white. Although it is important to cover the glass in ink, applying it too thick can cause smearing when printing, too little the ink will be too dry to transfer onto the paper when burnished.

Stage 3.
When I am happy with the image to be printed, I make sure there is no ink anywhere I don't want it to be…wiping up any drips or edges that need to be neater. I then place a piece of paper over the top of the print area, trying to position the image in the middle of the paper. I lightly press the paper to the glass so it adheres to the ink.

Stage 4.
I then take the barren and rub the back of the paper over the print area, pressing firmly and repeatedly moving over the image area in different direction, carefully in order to not to snag the paper. If you removed the paper now the image would be transferred but not as intensely as I like. So now I take a metal desert spoon, and again rub the back of the image. I burnish the image by pressing hard and moving the spoon fast, horizontally, diagonally and vertically as I like some directional line to show in my prints. I lift up the paper a little to see if the print is how I want it to look and then remove it fully.

Just a few prints created in a mono-printing session

Mono-printing is fun and has so many possibilities, and with some very basic equipment anyone can do it.

Friday, 15 November 2013

A year has past.

I can't believe I am sitting here writing a year after my last post.  Tut Tut. This year has flown by and I honestly don't know where the time has gone.

A busy art year for me, with wedding fingerprint trees going to all corners of the world, but a very sad year for our family with the loss of my gorgeous nan.

Dementia had taken it's cruel grip on my lovely nanna a few years back after my granddad passed away and it became so upsetting to not be able to communicate any longer with her and to see her health deteriorate. My nan was always a strong willed character and I wanted her to fight this battle but in reality she didn't even know what was the real world anymore or what her battle was, complicated with health problems this has been a traumatic few years for my mum and her sister and I have felt helpless.

My nan supported me 100% in all my endeavours from being a child through university and into my teaching career, and my move to Bermuda and Spain. She came to visit us in both of our adventures overseas. She was proud of me and always told me so. I take great joy in knowing I made her feel this way. I spent every Summer with her and every Friday night and she taught me a lot of common sense and established that women were a force to be reckoned with.

 A little Christmas tree decoration my Nanna made with me and I still hang on my tree every year.
She also taught me 2 other very important lessons… if you can make something out of nothing you will always survive and how to play cards. Both vitally important in how I have succeeded in life…..not that I play poker for a living… I will explain.

My Nan had time for me, she made time even when she was busy. We spent hours in the summer holidays baking, gardening, growing fruit and vegetables, and making craft projects out of anything we had saved. Now my nan wasn't a hoarder but she saw value and worth in creativity and knew the qualities of shiny chocolate wrappers, pine cones, shells found on holidays, doilies etc……we even made jewellery out of dried melon seeds that we threaded one by one with a needle to create bracelets and necklaces. We made christmas decorations from wooden pegs dressed up in tiny hand made felt clothes we had made (I still hang them on my christmas tree now see the pic above) and so many more things including drawings of flamenco dancers with their ruffled skirts made out of long pencil sharpenings we had carefully collected.

She encouraged me to create things whether it be in the garden or crafts from nothing. It amazes me now how I can take a piece of paper and a pen and create something of worth and value, and I owe that persistence in keeping on creating to her.

We played games for hours on end and she taught me to play every card game there was, she was keen bridge player and I would often see her hustle a few of the local ladies at a game and watched her moves at the blackjack tables at the casino. Playing cards with her certainly taught me to perfect a good poker face and to think a few steps ahead, essential as secondary school teacher and in management.

I hope I can pass down to my son some of the qualities she taught me.

My nanna loved cuddly toys and in her last years they were very important to her, she seeked comfort and friendship in them much like a child does.  She had a love for Hippos and they would be dotted around her house from tea mugs to little sculptures. A few days after she passed away, I bought this lovely hand pulled collagraph print of a hippo to hang on my wall, to remind me of her and her love of these creatures. The UK artist is Clare Sherwen and her prints can be found on etsy.

I am sure she would approve of my choice.

I also have been doing some print making and have done a little hippo mono print as well as some other   animals, and have created some with geometric details. I will do a blog dedicated to them next. But for now here is my little hippo for my nanna with a pink background.

I miss my nan terribly but her tormented last years are over and I hope now she has found peace. I am sure she is dancing with granddad up in the clouds. I miss them both more than words can say.

My grandparents wedding photo with the hand painted details traditional of the times. This one photo although very staged compared to the 1000's of digital photos that are taken at weddings today somehow seems more precious. Photography was expensive and a portrait photo was something that was saved for and cherished, with often only one photo being selected. We have become such a throw away society and the advances of technology, and social media has somehow devalued photography as an art form.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Fingerprint guest books with dogs

I sometimes find myself looking at a tree and trying to add up how many times I have drawn it….so it is so nice when someone contacts me to see if I can create something for them that is a little different or has those special personal touches.

Anyone who knows me or my work knows I have a passion for dogs, I have 3 adopted dogs here in Spain, they drive me nuts but I love them all and I think they appreciate the space to run, get muddy, chase rabbits, birds, frogs, and the odd cat that strays into our patch. The snakes and tortoise that get in however are met with a lot of barking. I also love to draw and paint them, I don't know what it is about them, something in their eyes I think that captivates me to create them.

So because I have a lot of dog portraiture on etsy I often get requests to add dogs to my fingerprint guest books.

Here is Buster, he was sent as photo dressed in his cardigan.
But for a wedding I though he needed to be more formal. 
So I gave him a bow tie :) I decided not to colour him black as his details would have disappeared, and it was in keeping with the style of the tree to just do line.

A request came in that was very open to my suggestions, Barrett was turning 2 and his mum wanted to somehow include 2 golden labradors into the guest book picture as they had 2. We toyed with ideas of how to tether the fingerprint balloon strings and include the dogs. Ideas of a large 2 with the dogs lying next to it, dogs with strings in their mouths…..then I had an idea to do a hot air balloon basket with the dogs in. This would then allow all the guest to create balloons with an inked finger and help them fly away!!!

 Originally I was going to do 2 generic goldens, but I couldn't do that…It had to be their dogs so using some pics sent to assist me with colouring, I created the dogs without telling Barrett's Mum.
She was so excited when I sent her a preview pic

 A softball bat, 2 mitts and a ball plus 2 family pets were the request of this wedding guestbook.

And here were the 2 beautiful dogs that were drawn above.


I am always open to new ideas and a bit of diversity when creating a guestbook, I just think those special personal touches are what make an occasion even more special.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Unusual and novel guest book requests…Part 1

Sometimes I get a challenge come through into my email box….."would it be possible for you to paint x with x and get it to me in 24 hours half way round the world!" What was at first a bit of oooooo and what a great idea often hits the realism fan…….
I create art, it takes preparation, messaging details, compositional ideas, color matching requests, wording and layout ideas, and then finally painting, detailing, adding little final request touches, sending proofs, packing, wrapping, post office runs and mailing time……so often the answer is no and I feel a bit negative, one for letting someone down…but more that people don't grasp that artwork takes time and hard work, love and attention. It is not just print out and send.

Sometimes though I get a request that ticks all the boxes, and it is super exciting to create something new. It's a bit nerve racking when you send the final proof though, and I hope to holy mackerel that what I have created fits the ideas of the person.

So here are some of my alternative fingerprint guest books that were created on those requests:

One of the first was for Erin and Mike ( I will link later to a fab wedding blog that featured their handmade wedding (mostly by Erin by the way). What a beautiful setting on her parents christmas tree farm!

Erin came to me with a very unusual request for a fingerprint guestbook. At first I thought this might be for a birthday party, but the more info I got the more I realised this was for a wedding, making the request more unusual……but truly individual and quirky and meaningful for them……..

Erin had some great ideas, but the more we played with ideas and initial sketches, on an angle, with twisted strings etc……we decided that really the simpler the better, and it gave in the end to a clean image that didn't have distractive elements or background to it.

So here is the Old British police call box painted in water colour.

And the finished fingerprint guest book ready for all the wedding guests to leave their fingerprint as balloons to help the police call box fly…see the little shadow underneath.

 Here are some more pics from Erin and Mike's wedding go and take a look as they were featured here on this great wedding blog:

A big round of applause to Erin who made nearly all the hand made elements of her wedding. And congratulations on their wedding.