Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Life Is Beautiful

With the leftovers from the card I made in the previous post, I created this. It was, honestly, totally serendipitous. The act of moving bits of paper around to find something I was happy with, brought to light that I was playing with the same tricolour as the French flag. I'm a Francophile. Enough said.

And rather than stage it against a clean background for the photo, like I usually do, I took my camera and snapped it as it was on my desk.

It's a bit rough around the edges but I'm growing to like that.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Dipping My Toes

My creative output of late has not been prolific, to say the least. However, after spending a few hours mucking about, I ended up with one solitary card.

Okay, not quite true, as the majority of the play was in making colourful backgrounds onto various pieces of card, using Ken Oliver's Colour Burst Powders.

Once I had a selection, I cut out the shapes using a Spellbinders Die, Contemporary Circles. I took a separate piece of card and sponged over yellow and orange distress inks, adding texture with stencils. Finally, I stamped a Hero Arts sentiment using black Archival ink.

So yes, I can say I've dipped my toes into making inkier, artier projects. I haven't quite abandoned the clean and graphic style, though. It's a start. I have plenty of coloured card and offcuts leftover. Enough to make at least one other card.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Meeting an Online Chum & Misty Installations

I took a day off on Tuesday to take a trip down to London. I had a fun day out, meeting up with an online friend from New York, who is over here for a brief visit. And though I took my camera with me, I was so swept up in the day that I didn't pull it out once. As far as memory-keeping/blogging goes, I'm sooooo crap at the moment.

Thankfully, my friend took this photo and sent it to me, so I have something to show for the day.

So let me back up a bit. Here's who I met up with...

(I grabbed this photo from his blog)

You may or may not recognise him as the mixed media artist, Seth Apter.  And he is a kind, generous,  witty and charming companion to go around London with. Am I gushing? Then don't get me started on his talents as a teacher in mixed media art. He creates the most stunning, textural work and has shared some of his techniques in a couple of DVDs, both of which I own and were how I first came to know of him.

To say I'm a fanboy is an understatement. I own his stencils, his stamps, his books. He's lucky I didn't grab the shirt off his back when we met up lol.

Much as it may surprise you, he did not fly all the way from New York solely to spend a few hours with me (and joking aside, Seth, if you are reading this, I know I've said it to you already but I'll say it again, I'm incredibly honoured and grateful that you took time out from your busy schedule to meet up).  No, he's also on these shores to teach classes at Art From The Heart up in Harrogate.

So what's with the photo at the head of this post? Well, we went to the Wellcome Gallery, just round the corner from Euston Station to see Ann Veronica Janssens: yellowbluepink exhibit. You know I'm a sucker for these entertainment/art installations. You enter through closed double doors into a room, painted floor to ceiling in white. It is filled with a thick fog, lit by coloured lights from above. You can barely see what's in front of you. A couple of times, my nose nearly touched a wall before my eyes could focus. It's disorientating, for sure but then I have no head for directions already, before you put me in a fog filled closet.

So yes, I'm fully made up for the rest of this week, possibly month :) And last night, the arty fun continued when I attended a demonstration from an artist who painted a beach landscape, from start to finish, in acrylics, in an impressionistic style. Absolutely breathtaking to watch.

The only thing that seems to be missing is any art or craft within the walls of my own creative space. Hopefully soon. Hopefully soon :)

Sunday, 1 November 2015

How I Avoided Halloween

As I mentioned in this previous post, I had arranged an outing which coincidentally allowed me to avoid Halloween. Yes, I was out the door before any small people could come a knocking and begging for sweets. But before you write me off as a total killjoy, I was still surrounded by kids and their parents.

Does this give you more of a clue?

No? How about this one?

Pat yourself on the back if you guessed I was at Chatsworth House. I know. I'm there so often, I may as well take up lodgings with the Duke & Duchess. I had successfully grabbed tickets for their firework event before they were sold out. And boy was it packed. Thankfully, their gardens are huuuuge and can accommodate the thousands who attended.

The event began at 6pm, we arrived at 7pm and the fireworks weren't until 8pm. To fill the gap, Chatsworth had erected a stage (it was almost like being at Glastonbury folks) with a band booked to play nineties house and acid music on trumpets. It sounded better in real life than it does on paper. And it was quite a sight to see middle aged parents, in wellies, dancing around, reliving their younger years before they sprogged. It's an image I can not erase from my mind. That was a true horror to witness.

And in front of the house was a fire garden display, instead of a bonfire.

Far classier, even if it came across as if we had wondered into Wicker Man territory.

Then, come a little after 8pm, the compere on the stage, took to the mike and lead the crowd into a countdown from ten. And when we all bellowed out "One", music erupted from the speakers and the display began.

Chatsworth, once again, did not disappoint. It was an incredible display with plenty of quality fireworks lighting up the sky in sync with the music.

And the finale, the pinnacle of the display, decorated the sky to an instrumental of Michael Jackson's Thriller. How perfect, to end the evening, watching the last firework explode and die in the clear sky above, with the sound of Vincent Price cackling away.

We may have had to drive home in the dark, through fog and under the light of the moon but when we finally parked in our drive, all trick or treaters were tucked up safely in bed. What better way to avoid the season hahahahaha.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Over on Instagram

It's a little known fact that I have an Instagram account. Which, until recently, has been gaining online dust. However, I've joined in with a 100 day challenge. And I've chosen to draw an assortment of illustration characters. I've kept quiet about it, hiding in the shadows whilst I gain confidence.

However I've done 25 now. And no I haven't done one a day, every day. Just as and when. I do them as often as I can but if I miss a day by being busy, I don't beat myself up.

And I'm not sure how often I'll be posting to Instagram in the next week or so. I've updated my Mac to El Capitan and one of the small glitches has been that it's stopped reading my camera. Once I've resolved how to upload photos without having to keep removing my memory card, I'll resume.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

A Trip to YSP to take Arty Photos

To treat ourselves at the end of the week, we took ourselves off once more to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. It's a relaxing park to wonder around, usually quite quiet during the weekdays and we've never been in Autumn before.

It does have a larger than usual audience at the moment. On a wet, grey day, the car park, as we arrived was almost full. Now it could have been because it was lunchtime but to be honest it's these red ceramic poppies which are to blame.

For anyone who didn't manage to see them in London, there's a display entitled 'The Wave' which YSP are showing. And yes it's certainly an interesting display. The colour alone makes it stand out. The blood red poppies against the green scenery are a visual dream.

If it gave one advantage, it was that the rest of the park was mostly free from people. We had a walk around the lake largely to ourselves, which made the silence feel even more tranquil. Just us and nature.

I had my camera with me - of course - and I wanted to try out the AV setting and play around with shallow depths of field and Bokeh.

However I also managed to snap some arty shots too

And here I am sitting on (or is that within?) a piece of art

I think the poppy display is on until January. If it's your thing, I'd certainly recommend it. Just make sure you take a camera.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Halloween Cards

I'm from the UK and I'm a guy of a certain age. Which means, in general, I don't celebrate halloween. That's because when I was young enough to enjoy it, it was an American idea. Yes it's come over here, for better or worse but in the main, I can happily ignore it.

However, I'm in an all-male craft group (there's a group for everyone if you but look) on Facebook and we have a halloween card swap which I have joined in with. In fact, I'm the only UK guy who didn't bottle out at the last minute haha.

I think the idea of making a bulk batch of cards put some off but it's real easy if you keep it simple. For my design, I took two sheets of white A4 card and created an inky background using distress inks. I then die cut out circles from these sheets and stamped some extra texture images on top. I finally stamped the lips in Archival black ink on top. All I had to do was adhere these to black card and the job was done.

This year halloween falls on a Saturday so I've made plans. It's nothing to do with halloween or the resulting desire to throttle any urchin who knocks on our door.  But it should be fun, something different and I'll share any decent photos after the event.