Thursday, December 5, 2013

Cards using paint sample swatches

Don't you love going into home decorating stores and seeing the wall of paint sample colour swatches!
I have often felt like taking a bunch of them home, for no particular reason, but I've resisted that urge until now.  I discovered a blog that shows what you can do with those little colour cards.   I went searching the internet for more ways, and found there are dozens of neat things you can make!  But I don't have time at the moment, so I just helped myself to a dozen sample cards at Bunnings, and made three Christmas cards with some of them.  Here is the link to the site with the details of how to make them.
Sorry about my shadow over the cards - I would have taken another photo, but the camera battery was flat and this was the last one I took before it 'died'...:-(

Experiments in painting.

Last Sunday I did a workshop at the Light Factory in Eltham.  It was run by Lynne Lund, and was advertised as a 'fun class in which to learn about a variety of mediums'.  There were only five students, which was good for us because we all got more individual attention than if there had been more people.
Lynne spent the morning demonstrating how to use oil, watercolour, acrylic and pastels, then we had to make up our mind which medium to use to paint a picture in the afternoon.

I chose pastels along with another student, as I've had very little experience with them and wanted to learn more.  The other girls chose various paint mediums.   Lynne set up a still life of white flowers in a blue and white vase, against a black background.  She wanted us to stick to one or two colours, to make it simple, but I found it very difficult using pastels, so she suggested that I bring more colours in to my work.  After an hour struggling to draw something that resembled  a vase of flowers, and failing miserably, I called it quits, and turned to oil paint.  Within half an hour I'd done a painting using just one colour, and everybody was most impressed!  But I was able to achieve that because I'd previously had classes in the technique.
The other girl who was using pastels was also having a hard time of it, and I said to her my pastels were going straight to the opshop next week as I can't see myself using them again!  Lynne overheard me and said 'Don't give up so soon!  If you took some more classes which focussed only on pastels, you would probably find it easier and more enjoyable".  She's right, and I was only joking about taking them to the opshop, as I would like to have another go with them, as I really like the effect of pastel drawings in art shows.
I like water colour too, and failed in my attempts using that last year, but want to try again.  Maybe next year I'll find some classes where I can focus on learning those two mediums.  Not one day workshops - a six or eight week course is much better.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Calligraphy workshop.

Last Sunday I spent most of the day with Val at a workshop put on by the Calligraphy Society of Victoria.  Most of their classes are held at Melbourne University where they rent a room for their meetings, but this time the lady running the workshop had it at her studio behind her house.  There were six of us and we were drooling over M's studio, which had been a garage, but converted to the studio after she outgrew one of the bedrooms in the house.  What we could all do if we had unlimited funds and unlimited space!

The workshop was actually a two day one, but Val and I hadn't wanted to commit ourselves to two days in a row so M. very kindly invited us to pay half the fee and just attend on Sunday.  The workshop was all about Christmas.  M. showed us how to make an insert for a plastic coaster and a key ring holder, how to put your own writing on a candle, and how to write on those metallic Xmas tree decorative balls.

Val and I had lots of practising to do before we got to the stage of writing the words to be used on our items.

  See the two really beautiful scrips in boxes?  That's not my work - M did that as an example for me to follow.  I think she was having me on....

I wasn't feeling well (had a cold coming on) that day, and after I'd spent all morning on this piece I decided enough was enough, and gave it to M. to scan and reproduce for me to cut up to put into cards or coasters.

The candle was an interesting exercise.  We wrote a name on a piece of tissue paper which was then burnt on to the surface of the candle with a special burning tool.  (That is a simplified explanation - it wasn't that easy, but will do for the purpose of describing it for this blog).

These decorative balls were tricky to do.  We had to write a name on the ball with a tube of glue, and while it was still sticky, dip the ball into a tray of sparkly stuff, which stuck to the glue.  By this time in the afternoon, I was feeling so ill I could hardly concentrate, so I packed it in and went home, feeling disappointed with myself.  If I'd been feeling my usual self, I would have done a much better job of all these little projects!  But it was a fun day.

This is an example of what the other students were doing.  They were all long term members of the society and attend most of the workshops.  They told me that the only way to keep improving is to keep doing the workshops, and they were right.  I just don't get the time, but it's my own fault for having too many hobbies!

Friday, November 1, 2013

More origami from Val.

The last time Val came over to my place, she brought some little bags she'd made from wall paper. She asked if I knew of anywhere we could get some wall paper scraps, and as we are having our house painted at the moment, and have been getting sample paint pots, I asked the shop if they had any wall paper offcuts or sample swatches, and they gave me a bundle of bits. So when we got together again last week, Val was able to show me how to make these little gift bags. I used a scrap of black and silver wall paper with a silver grey ribbon.

Knowing how much I love little tiny things, Val made me another one of her REALLY tiny books! You can see just how small it is by the second photo showing it beside a fountain pen.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Val's origami.

Val finds such interesting projects!  I love seeing what she has found and made herself.  These two little boxes are made from greeting cards.  The front is used for the top part of the box and the back of the card is used for the bottom half.   Val found the tutorial on YouTube for the owl box, but she made the kitten one in traditional origami style, just folded, with no glue.

Another of Val's little treasures - a tiny concertina 'book' with a message inside. I put the pen beside it so you can see how tiny it is.

Hand made Christmas cards.

Val showed me a quick and easy way to make cards - she discovered it on YouTube and as I have to make nine cards for a website exchange this year, I got busy!
The first five are made from card stock and Xmas wrapping paper.

These four are made from patchwork fabric scraps.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Oil Painting workshop.

It has been so long since I've done any painting or drawing.  If I've done any craft at all lately it has been needlecraft or patchwork and quilting.   I had been booked into three painting workshops at the Light Factory in Eltham earlier this year, but they were all cancelled due to not enough people enrolling.
Finally I got an email saying they were going ahead with an oil painting for beginners workshop on Saturday, and did I want to attend.  Did I what!   I've accumulated four boxes of oil paint tubes that have been at our opshop over the past year or so, but I didn't dare play with them because I didn't know enough about how to use oil paints.
The workshop on Saturday was with Vicki McInnes who is a well known artist around these parts.  I've have been looking forward to doing classes with her, and I wasn't disappointed.  There were only three students - me, a man and his son, so we got all Vicki's attention which was great.  She is an excellent teacher, and I learnt so much about using oil paints, it really inspired me to use them again soon.  I enjoyed using them more than I did acrylics or watercolours when I first started learning to use those.  I still want to do more classes using those media, as well as pastel, and Vicki told me she runs classes in pastel, so I'll be looking out for those in the future. 

Vicki spent the morning explaining how to use oil paints, and demonstrating her techniques.  In the afternoon we did one painting ourselves, with Vicki overseeing our efforts.   We did still life indoors rather than go outside, and my choice of objects was an old brass plate with a rose, on a background of white damask cloth.
It got smudged today when I picked it up to have a look, and didn't realise it was still wet!  Ooooh, naughty girl.  Vicki did warn us that oils can take days or longer to dry!
I won't have time for any more painting for a few weeks, as I've committed myself to a swap of hand made Christmas cards - nine of them. I'll do some with paper, and some using patchwork fabric.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Origami fun

My paper loving friend Val had a new origami book show me when I was at her place last week. She had paper ready for us to play with, and I made a little flotilla of boats,

A penguin and a fish.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

More Japanese brush art at Box Hill Community Arts Centre

This morning I attended another workshop on Japanese brush techniques - this one was called 'Japanese SumiE Ink Painting' and our tutor was Junko, who was just as charming as Miho was last week. The ink and brushes we used were the same as last week, and the technique very similar but this time we were painting pictures instead of letters. After showing the students examples of her own beautiful work, Junko demonstrated how to use the brush to create different effects on the paper. After we'd practiced for a while, she encouraged us to paint bamboo, which she said was the easiest one to start with.

Then she showed us how to paint two fish. I was too heavy handed with the ink, and my poor fish are much darker than they are meant to look.

Then we could choose what we wanted to do. One of Junko's paintings was of a fluffy cat, and I asked if I could copy it and she gave me her painting to work from. I am very critical of my own work, as well as being impatient and wanting to do something perfect the first time, so I wasn't overly pleased with my version of her cat. But she was delighted with it; I was the only student who did the cat, the others were doing flowers and birds.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Japanese Calligraphy workshop

On Saturday morning, I attended a two hour workshop on Japanese calligraphy.  One of my friends did a workshop with the same tutor a while ago, and she enjoyed it very much.
I would love to have attended that class, but it is on the other side of town, and a bit too far for me.  So I was pleased when I heard about the workshops Miho was doing this weekend closer to home.
The morning workshop was about brush painting on canvas, and the afternoon one was on making greeting cards.
Miho is a charming lady and an excellent teacher.  She provided all the brushes, ink, paper and canvas for us to work with, and she was very patient with our efforts to handle the brush correctly to get the brush strokes right.  After we'd practiced various brush strokes on paper, she gave us each two stretched canvas boards to do a final  painting.

Here are my two - a Japanese letter meaning "Happiness" and a very basic plant (which I think I have placed on the wrong angle for this photo, darn  it).  Miko provided the red seal to stamp on our canvases to denote the finished art.  She insisted mine was good, but admitted that it takes many years of practice to achieve excellent results.  As it does with any calligraphy!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Button crafts.

I borrowed this book from the library some time ago and have renewed it three times - now it has to be returned!  I have been tempted to try and find a copy online, but decided not to, as I have so many craft books already, I must stop buying them.  Instead, I set out to make as many of the projects in the book as I could; luckily only  a few appealed to me.

This was the first one I did - a stretched canvas, painted lilac, with squares of fabric and matching buttons glued on to it.  Not a spectacular piece of art, but fun to do.

From this page -
 I made two of my own versions.

The bag in the picture below inspired me to convert a green supermarket bag.

By sewing a patchwork piece on to the bag and embellishing it with ric rac and buttons. (As you can see I haven't finished sewing on the ric rac yet - it is by hand, and such a tedious job).

I have nearly finished an owl like this (mine is red), but I won't post a photo until I've finished it, as it looks odd without the feet.

I've come to the conclusion that the best way to utilise library craft books is to actually do some of the projects right away, instead of photocopying them and filing the copies away for 'another time', as the other time never happens in most cases, and you end up with a fat folder of fading photocopies.  
The last project in the button book that I wanted to do will have to wait, as it will take a lot longer than any of the above items.  It is a map of Australia drawn on to a piece of strong fabric, with each state coloured in a different colour by using buttons to fill the areas.  I've started off by tracing a map of Australia from an atlas that happened to have a map exactly the size I wanted.  So at least it is on paper, and ready for me to transfer to fabric when I make time.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Creative envelopes

On the previous post I featured a book that I've borrowed from our library, and as I have renewed it twice, it is now due to be returned, so I made a last ditch effort this weekend, to make as many envelopes as I could, to keep and use as a reference if I want to do them again (and I'm sure I will, they are so much fun to do, and people love getting little surprises in the mail).
Sorry these are a bit hard to make out; the camera flash caught the top ones, but as you can see, I've labelled each one with the name they are given in the book.

Three ready to to be posted.  One each to my niece's little girls, and one to my good friend Val.
If there is anyone reading this who would like to receive a little surprise envelope from me, just leave a comment on this post, and I'll contact you for your postal address ;-)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A variety of envelopes.

My friend Val is an expert in all kinds of paper crafts, and I often receive fascinating little creations in the mail from her, so when I found this book at our library, I borrowed it.

The first envelope I made went to Val, and she was delighted. She recognised it straight away as she had borrowed the same book from her library many times. I forgot to take a photo of my first envelope, but I've done two since then.

They both involve using decorative papers folded in various ways to make up an envelope that you can write on inside, and enclose photos or other small items. I've going to make a few more of these and send them to Ken's niece's little girls. They love all the craft things I make, and they will get a buzz out of these envelopes from Great-Auntie Gina! I'll write something inside, but I'll also stick kid stuff in there as well - cute!

More paper napkin creations.

Some more CDs covered with napkin motifs, with accompanying origami envelopes.
This box originally held 12 packets of single serve Whiskas cat food sachets.  It was mostly bright orange, so I thought my elephant napkins would look great on it.  I painted over the darker bits with acrylic white paint so they wouldn't show up through the napkins.

I have heaps of old cork backed coasters and placemats that I can't bear to throw out.   With these two coasters, I experimented with modelling paste that I bought recently.   For the one on the left, I applied the modelling paste (it is like a very thick white Gesso) around the border, and painted the whole coaster with acrylic paint when the paste was dry.  Then I brushed the border with gold acrylic paint to jazz it up a bit before I glued the chicken motif on it.
For the elephant one, I tinted the modelling paste with acrylic paint first, using a light brown, and applied that to the border.  Again I brushed it with gold to jazz it up a bit because it looked dull.    Both methods of using the modelling paste are acceptable, but you have to be careful tinting it with colours because it can look overpowering if you use too much.  I'm not going to do anything with these, they are purely experimental.

Once I'd played around a bit with modelling paste and paint, I decided to use one of the canvases I've been buying up cheap at opshops etc.  First of all, I coated this one with gesso.  I wanted to use this napkin from Japan as it is the only one I had left from the packet.  It had a scallopped edge, so I had to lay it on the canvas, draw a light outline around it, and put it aside. (It is not advisable to glue paper napkins over the modelling paste, although it can be done with a special technique)

Next I tinted the modelling paste with blue acrylic paint.  I thought it would be okay, but I used way too much blue, and it came out a lot darker than I intended.  I waited a day or two, then decided to glue my napkin to the canvas.  That was achieved without problems, but I thought the blue surround was too overpowering.  So I used silver acrylic paint and brushed a border around the edge of the napkin, then brushed it lightly across the blue, so the high bits of the modelling paste have a silver sheen.  I'm still not happy with it, and would love to receive suggestions from anyone reading this!

This is the book that I have been basing some of my ideas on. It doesn't use paper napkins in all it's projects, but a lot of them are, and there is heaps of helpful information about things like the modelling paste, which I'd never heard of before.

Monday, March 11, 2013

A different art media.

I like to dabble in all kinds of art, not just painting and sketching.  My sewing/craft room is chockers (overflowing) with fabric, paints, paper, books, magazines, etc. and I play with whatever media I'm in the mood for when I wake up in the morning.  So far on this blog I've just been posting about the sketching and painting, but I've decided to add my paper craft bits and pieces to it as well.

You can do some wonderful stuff with paper napkins and Modge Podge or other PVA glue.  I've been gluing napkins to old CDs and DVDs, pasting plain paper on theback, and making up an origami envelope, posting them to friends, and they have proved very popular!  I've posted some photos of my first ones on my other blog here, but will post any future pics to this blog.   I've just done two new ones today- the Iris decorated CD is for a lady who saw my previous CDs on another forum and said she would love to have one, so I asked her what her favourite colours are and she said purple and lavender.  This was the closest I could get to that, so I think she'll like it.  The paper circles are to make up the origami envelope for the CD. 

Some friends visited us yesterday and brought a beautiful plant in this lovely box, so I took off the labels and used the same Iris napkin to decorate the box for a future purpose!

The other CD is covered with a napkin given to me by a friend who bought a pack of them because she loves this artist's work (Klimt?).  So I did this CD for her.

 Below is an old cork placemat which I have covered with a Japanese napkin, then cut out individual motifs from another Asian-motif napkin, glued them to light card, and used double sided tape to attach them to the placemat.  I found this idea in a book about using canvas boards to make collages, and thought it would work equally as well on the placemat.

Almost a year later....

It feels like ten years since I last posted anything here.  Lot of water gone under the bridge with birthdays, Christmas, deaths, funerals, and health issues.  But that's life, isn't it. 
I didn't finish the water colour classes in the end; Ken got ill and was taken to hospital, and I was also involved in a linens display, and I just could not get my head around learning the water colour techniques.  Dorothy was such a great tutor, and I think she was disappointed that I dropped out, but I assured her it was nothing to do with her teaching - it was all to do with what was going on in my life at that time.

I'd like to have another go at learning how to paint with watercolour, but I'll make sure that nothing else will distract me during the course!  In the meantime this year I signed up for a six week course with the Eltham Living And Learning Centre  - 'Drawing For Fun'.  It sounded like it didn't need too much concentration, and I was right.  The tutor does make everything fun, but she also teaches us a new drawing technique each week.  The first week we just doodled in our own way while she discussed with each of us what we wanted to achieve.  The second week we tried drawing faces from photos that she handed around to everyone, and showed us the basics of drawing head and facial features. Last week she taught us how to understand and use the principles of perspective, and I found that very useful indeed.  Then she gave us a quarto sheet of paper folded in half and instructed us to draw a simple landscape on the left hand side.  After we'd done that, she told us to pass our drawing to the person next to us, and each person then had to unfold the paper, and continue the previous person's landscape in their own way.  A very interesting exercise!  We all had fun with that one, and afterwards we were able to photocopy our drawings so we each had our two versions.

My camera battery has gone flat, and although I have a lovely new scanner/printer, I feel too lazy to scan anything I've done so far, but I will eventually.  It is just so damn hot here and it is sapping the energy out of everyone at the moment.  All I feel up to doing is typing to bring the blog up to date!