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What I’ve been Reading 2019 – Victory Disc and The Hard Way

If you’ve been reading here a while you’ll know that I take part in Ali Edwards One Little Word class. For the creative prompt in March she suggested we commit to practice something everyday for the month. I’ve done this prompt before with varied success. Although not directly linked to my word Heart I decided to ‘practice’ reading everyday. Generally I do read everyday but I have a very bad habit of surfing the internet before sleep rather than reading and I wanted to see if I could cultivate a habit of reading every evening before lights out.

I’m happy to report that I was successful only missing three evenings in the month and two of those were before I had decided to do the reading thing as the practice.

The reason I mention all this here is that I discovered (re-discovered?) something about my reading habits. I may have said this before but I’m going to state it again.

I like to read what I like to read!

I don’t like to read books I’m told I should read. Let me clarify. Many of the folk I follow on Instagram or  blogs I read talk about books. Mostly they recommend books that are out of my comfort zone. They could be literary fiction, which I have read in the past but sometimes is simply above my head. They could be the book of the hour, you know, the one everybody is reading. These books may be well written, interesting stories but often containing some hardship and trauma. I know, I know, you can’t have a story without tension and drama. But I choose to spend my leisure time being generally happy not pulled apart by a story.

So I have decided to stick to my comfort zone for a while and see if I manage to read more. I’m still going to try and read all on my pile it just may take a bit longer!

Since my last reading post I have joined the nameless Vinyl Detective again for his third outing. These are fun easy reads that I just like and I’m looking forward to his fourth.

And naturally I have gone back for more Jack!

Set mainly in NYC this was another good one, if you like murder and mayhem…….

Oh and for full disclosure I picked up another book recently from my pile called Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead but I couldn’t get on with it. I was a few chapters in when I decided there was nothing likeable about any of the characters so back to the charity shop it went. (Mary-Lou that was the one you were interested in! You may enjoy but it wasn’t for me).

Anyway we will see what this new (old?) idea brings…….

Layout Share – Cafe Perfection

You would think that after all this time I’d run out of stories about our 2017 USA trip……. But no there’s more! Ha, ha.

Cafe Perfection

Here’s the story –

Gav does a great job on the research front when we are about to go on a road trip. He found Panera Bread and we ‘pinned’ a few to our map. He struck lunchtime gold with this one. First it was so cool in there compared to outside and second the choices were wonderful, overwhelming wonderful. But that was okay. Those 4 went in on our first stop but I sneaked in the side door for the ‘air’. So delish. And we stopped again on the way to Disney. A fav for sure. 

Although I really like this page, especially that group of embelishments on the left the story is a bit meh! I think I was in a rush to write is out. Always a mistake. I’ve waited 18 months to make the page and then don’t get the story right….

Here is what I should have written.

We were on our way to New Orleans the day after the Eclipse. It was oh so hot. We’d only driven about an hour and came to the first area Gav had marked on the map. There was a Target and a place we’d never been before called Panera Bread. The car park was busy. I was grouchy. I sent the four of them inside and said just get me whatever.

After about five minutes I decided I couldn’t sit in the hot car any longer and got out to see what they were up to. I peered in through the window to find them all stood, transfixed, staring up at a big board full of food options. It was funny to see them all stunned by the array of choices. I noticed there was a side door and I sneaked in there and just mooched about waiting for them. It was so gloriously cool. The place was buzzing. People coming and going or sat chatting and eating. It seemed like an age but at last they appeared piled high with drinks, salads and sandwiches. We were on our way again at last. We ate as we drove and were all impressed by the food. Well done Gav for finding this one and lucky us there was one on the way to Disney too.

Maybe I’ll add a smaller page with this printed on. But I do feel better for getting the full story down.

Photo a Day – Week Three and Four

And some more……

Blueberries. Yum.

No words……

Garden greens.

More…… plus my shadow.

In a tight ball.

Construction going on…

Breakfast on a Sunday.

Work hard little Ladybird.

Couldn’t resist those paws….

Self sown Cerinthie. Mother nature has it all sorted.

A trip to the seaside with my sister and niece. And a stop at our favourite ice-cream parlour. I didn’t try to get her in the background. It made the shot so much better for that accidental capture.

Although it looks like it was a nice week weather wise it was still chilly, hence the hat!

That Cerinthie, along with some wallflowers made it into a vase.

He was helping with a bit of weeding………

And there we go.

Layout Share – Remember

Back with another 2017 USA trip story.

Remember

Here’s the story –

I want to remember this place. I want to remember the heat, that Gav and I headed straight for into the shade on the steps. I want to remember that pool didn’t have water in it last time we were here. I want to remember the crowds and the buzzing of it all. I want to remember the reason for this amazing memorial how Americans celebrate their history. I’ll always remember.

Something I have learned from Ali Edwards is using the prompt ‘I want to remember….’ as a jumping off point for story telling. I loved that my niece was taking photos of us on the steps while I was taking photos of them. That in itself is a story but I decided to focus more on the feelings of this place. We have been here three times now and I simply love this memorial. Glad it features in this album.

The 100 Day Project 2019 – 100 Experiments in Art – 25 Days Down

As always I am loving this project. So far I have enjoyed trying various media, styles and concepts. It’s making me think which is good because I can easily get stuck in a rut and churn out the same sort of thing over and over. I don’t want to fall into that trap. My whole ‘brief’ for this years project was to play and try things, to hone in on my arty style.

I thought it would be good to dissect some of my pieces so far to help focus my mind as I go onward to the next 75 days. Here are 15 of the first 25 with some notes and thoughts.

 

Above we have day 21 on the left and day 1 on the right.

Let’s talk about day 1 first. This is probably the most ‘free’ I have been. I had looked at my Pinterest board and seen something I liked and tried it out. My version wasn’t anything like the inspiration. To me it is a total mess. Splotches of colour with no real composition but I will always remember I just went for it and although I may not like it it isn’t completely bad. HA!

Day 21 was marker pens and inspired by more on Pinterest. I like the floral pattern but when I stepped back and looked at it I realised that my smaller filler shapes were all very similar in size. To create a pleasing composition a variation of sizes would have helped here.

For day 5 I used layers of acrylic paint. I was finding no success using a brush so resorted to a technique I have used many times before when playing with paint – the hotel key card! Dab on some paint and drag it ‘smooth’ with the edge of the card. If there are layers of paint underneath some of those will show through depending on the pressure you use while dragging the card. I had the layers of blue underneath this one and used white over the top. The black was an afterthought but totally transforms this piece. By complete chance I made them look like buildings and their reflections (well that’s what I’m telling myself!)

Day 10 is a wet on wet technique using watercolour. I made the daisy shapes by leaving some of the white paper dry, a negative shape if you will. Again more thought would have helped this one but wet on wet is a bit of a panicky technique. Having the colour washes mixed and ready to go helps and also a plan of where the paint is going…..

Day 13 is a combination of wet on wet and wet on dry with watercolour again. I love this one and that it looks like a waterfall. Definitely want to try and recreate this idea to intentionally make it more waterfall like.

Day 16 is a flower inspired by the work of Lisa Congdon. Black brush marker with white gel pen. I took a class from Lisa last year on the Creative Bug platform and loved her style and work.

Day 22 was an attempt to copy an image I saw on the NASA Instagram feed. It was a photo from way above Earth of a snowy mountain scene that had bright blue rivers snaking through the peaks. My first attempt was cast aside as I had tried and failed, to copy the scene. Far too technical for me so I went abstract instead. I love these colours and the overall piece.

A pretty village made from marker pens for day 8 . More Lisa Congdon here and inspired by a drawing she did in the same class from Creative Bug. Adore this one. Adore!

Day 19 I went subtle. More of the scraping away technique. I used a star mask to create that background with acrylic paint.

Micron pen and flower shapes for day 14. Again inspired by Pinterest. Not keen on this one. I think my poppy type shapes and not quite right.

 

A cute rainbow with collaged paper for Day 11. Inspired by Kelly Rae Roberts. A background of gouache with a layer of white acrylic over the top. I will try this technique again as it was fun and looks so adorable. I could see it living in my great nieces room!

Day 23 I used a black painted background and a white marker sized paint pen. Another inspired by pinterest. My intention had been a circle shape but that went wrong so I made it more into an oval design and just added shapes and lines till I was happy with it.

Day 3 is gouache again. This was done using a big flat brush with a less is more idea. Something I need to try more often! I liked the colour combination, yellow is not my go to choice but I really like it here. Good to remember to try different things.

For day 24 I layered more gouache as a background. I tried to add a different colour by using the purple and then went with random daisy shapes. As an afterthought I outlined the flowers with black micron and liked that better.

Day 25 was the quickest one yet! Micron line drawing. Simple and not at all bad.

I think my favourite so far has to be the village of brightly coloured buildings. I just love this.

As you can see I have tried lots of styles been inspired by the work of artists I like and played a lot. I am learning that making is art is hard! But I don’t want that to put me off. Even though I have dabbled in painting and mixed media for many years I am still discovering, the hard way, that practice and patience are some of an artists key personality requirements. I am also learning about composition, mixing paints and making shapes. And I need to be conscious of less copying and more being inspired then going my own way when I look at all my pinned ideas.

But overall so far so good. Plenty still to learn as we go forward into the next 75 days!

Layout Share – Best Time

I interrupt the usual layout posts to share one that is NOT from our 2017 USA holiday! I made this layout as part of the Hello Story 2 class over at Ali Edwards last month.

I love this photo and happily scrapped it with sort of list based journalling. The class was split into three ‘themes’. Lists, colour and grids.

You can’t really tell from the picture but I was riding a bike! Yes very dangerously taking a selfie…

Loved using the acrylic words from some sale story kits I bought a couple of years ago as well as other Ali Edwards embellishments with those circle cork pieces and word stickers. Simple fun story and a layout design I can see myself over using!

Photo a Day – Week One and Two

Here we go again!

Nothing like a beautiful blue sky and contrails to start the week!

Daffodils on our walk. Couldn’t resist that light.

Found this wonderful new installation! Never seen one this side of the pond before! How adorable is that?

If you’ve been here a while you know how I love to look out of my craft room window at the garden. And a little doggie was out there enjoying the warm spell.

Local florist potted plant display. See that little bench? I’ve got Gav on the case to make some! So cute.

More daffs. This time in our garden. I think this is the variety Rip van Winkle.

Can’t remember if I mentioned that a Poplar tree blew down into the wood at the back of our garden. Anyway the owner doesn’t want the wood so Gav and our neighbour are in full log production. We both have log burning stoves so this is a true gift. Using local wood that might just have rotted away. As you can see our neighbour has some serious log splitting kit!

Yes the daffs were in full swing this particular week. I think this one is Minnow.

Out for breakfast with my great niece.

Another pretty sky.

And more walking with that pooch.

Lunch with friends. That salad was delicious.

A photo I love to take. Evidence that our niece was here…..

Breakfast ‘tacos’.

And there we go.

Looking forward to Flowers

Just popping in quickly today with some photos I found from last year. Thought I’d share them to cheer us all up on this Monday and get us all looking forward to the summer. I know it’s a way off but still…..

The macro lens is still a challenge for me but I keep picking it up and giving it another go.

And it always helps to have good light.

Enjoy your week!

Bloom 2019 – Planning and Seed Sowing

The planning began a while ago. That photo above was taken on a Sunday morning in January when I was addicted to that cereal and had the beginnings of big plans for my cutting garden.

I still have big plans it just took a couple of months for me to decide what seeds I wanted to try this year.

I’m trying some new plants as well as some old favourites. And as well as seed from Sarah Raven I am giving Chilterns Seeds a go. They have an incredible array of seeds to choose from. Very unusual varieties and very ordinary ones too.

Below are some of the new seeds I’m trying.

Here is a list of what I hope to be growing –

  • Calendula Indian Prince
  • Ammi visnaga
  • Ammi majus
  • Ridolfia
  • Salvia
  • Orlaya
  • Scabious stellata
  • Scabious – a perennial form
  • Helianthus various
  • Phlox
  • Nicotiana
  • Centaurea
  • Cosmos
  • Nigella
  • Sweet Peas

They are magical things these seeds!

I had already sown some Helianthus seeds and they popped up last week with the help of a new heated bench Gav built.

It feels like we are up and running now. Looking forward to this growing season.

The 100 Day Project 2019 – 100 Experiments in Art

Here we are again. My third year embarking on this project and I am just as excited to get going as in previous years, although I’ll say it right here, right now I don’t think I can ever top last years 100 hearts on fabric for sheer joy and fun every day. (And yes, one day I will finish the quilt).

But onward.

For 2019 I’m going to make 100 pieces of artwork. Here are three reasons I felt pulled towards this idea.

  • I follow lots of artists and makers over on Instagram and feel inspired by them.
  • I have tried my hand at many different arty crafts over the years but flit on to something else.
  • I constantly find myself uttering the words I could do that!

I know I already have a challenge of making going on (my plan to open an etsy shop for macrame and weaving!) but this is different. This is going to be paint, pens, pencils, collage on paper.

My overall aim is to focus my arty voice. I want to experiment with different techniques and I’ve been pinning ideas over here for reference.

I hope that by giving myself 100 days to play I will be able to hone in on what I most like to make. You can see from the Pinterest board that it’s mainly abstract with some graphic line art thrown in.

After pondering how to approach this I eventually decided that I’m going to start with a pile of 100 pieces of mixed media paper cut to A5 size. I may go smaller depending on the idea that day. When I was discussing this idea with Gav he asked me how I intend finish a piece of art every day. It is a concern but I’ve made a deal with myself.  I’m going to be okay not completing every piece. My intention is to finish each day but if I don’t as long as I have something to share over on Instagram that will be fine. I can go back and finish off later, or not!

I know that the idea of a stack of blank paper may scare some but I’m looking forward to seeing that pile of potential, what will I try today? Oh yes I’m ready to go!