Saturday, 3 October 2015

Life Book 2015: Week 39 - From here to there with Roben-Marie Smith

So many layers ...

This weeks Life Book lesson with Roben-Marie Smith was entitled 'Fom here to there" which meant taking a blank page (here) through to a full blown creation (there) using lots and lots of layers.

We started by adding random writing in pencil across the page about things we loved.  Then we added a little watercolour paint.  Next was tearing random scraps of paper and adding to the page. Once dry we scraped white acrylic paint over the surface with a palette knife before adding doodles with pencils and ballpoint pen.  The next layer was acrylic paint through a selection of stencils.  I chose to use a paint splatters stencil and some small circles.  We let this dry before adding paint drips from the top of the page, adding lots of water so they ran right down to the bottom.  

Roben-Marie then asked us to choose a stamp or a picture by using the first letter of our name.  My letter is "D" so I used a doily as my prompt.  Actually I added a couple of doilies - one whole and one cut in two and pasted on the edges of the page.  

The next layer was adding accents of paint using pot and jar lids to create rings on the page followed by more doodles with pencils and ballpoint pen (but this time using my non-dominant hand).  And no, we are not finished yet.  

The next task was to create repeating shapes and as I had used the circular paint splatters I decided to follow the circle theme and create more circles and splatters.  Once the colour was added we started to add detail by drawing around some of the features with a pen.  This made some of the images pop out and others recede into the background.  We kept layering more stencil shapes with paint before adding cut paper circles from an old book.  These were glued to the page and I ran a little watercolour paint over them to blend them into the page.  A pen was used to further define these.  And here is the result. 
Roben-Marie also had us make tags alongside this page which were then to go into a little pocket on the the bottom right corner but I opted not to do that as I wanted my page just how it was. 

I love how it has turned out.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Life Book 2015: Week 38 - The journey of acceptance with Jill Berry

Two techniques to learn today - actually both I have done before but not to the same extent of development, so it was interesting to learn more and then actually make something out of it.  

The lesson was presented by Jill Berry and the first thing we did was to make coloured tissue paper using acrylic paint.  

The next was to make gel skins using gel medium and acrylic paint.  Both of these are quite addictive and it was hard to stop making them - I just know there will be more of these in my future.  But for now, I just needed enough to make a collage.  

Jill had given us a blue heron and a wood duck to use for the focal point - I chose to use the blue heron.  This was drawn onto tissue paper, adhered to the page and then the collage was built up around it using the coloured tissue and the gel skins.  Once that was dry it was time to paint in the heron.  A few little accents and it was done.  

I wasn't sure I was going to like this but I just love it - the gel skins look so effective.  

What do you think?

Monday, 14 September 2015

Life Book 2015: Week 37 - Intuitive healing session with Andrea Schroeder

An interesting process was presented by Andrea Schroeder this week whereby we followed her on a meditation, at the end of which a symbol was given to us.  By working through a series of exercises, that symbol changed and our artwork was to reflect the process.

My symbol started as an "X" but as I worked through the exercises the "X" became more fluid.  As the transformation took place I could see, in my minds eye, a ballerina, her body the shape of my fluid "X".  

She's not the most attractive girl in the world but she is just going with the flow - something I need to do more of.

It's funny how you start out doing something, not knowing where it is going, and then you end up with this ...

Life Book 2015: Week 36 - Finding strength with Donna Downey

So excited to get todays lesson - I have been a fan of Donna Downey's work for a while now and managed to do some of her classes at Creative Adventure Downunder a couple of years ago.  It was a message from Donna that got me started on this course at the beginning of this year actually.

The lesson was all about finding your inner strength.  We started by writing on a blank page and then covered most of it up by building layers of paint.  Donna had a stamp for the figure but I sketched mine.  The background was painted using my fingers.  While Donna used fabric covered with joint compound, I wanted this to go in my Life Book and opted for staying with water colour paper.  I also added some stamping and texture paste which was a little different from Donna's. 

The text reads "it is in herself she will find the strength she needs".

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Life Book 2015: Week 35 - Creating new possibilities with Andrea Gomoll

So excited to have another lesson with the lovely Andrea Gomoll.

This lesson was more about techniques to get you out of a creative rut or overcome a creative block.  By choosing a word, doodling something to go with that word and then randomly applying water colour to the paper, it was simply a case of adding water and then allowing it to blend, adding some texture paste, a few paint splatters, a doodled border and it was almost done.  All that was left was to cut out shapes from a paper towel, colour them with the same watercolours and adhere them to the page - how easy and inspiring is that.  

Life Book 2015: Week 34 - Painting the muse with Alena Hennessy

I really enjoyed this lesson by Alena Hennessy.  

We got to choose our own Goddess and create our own interpretation of her.  

Alena had given us some options and one immediately jumped out at me - that was Cerridwen.  I love the name and I love anything Celtic, and she is a Celtic Goddess who symbolises the moon, magic, nature, music, art, and astrology ... and so she called to me.  I did read all the others but nothing else spoke to me like she did. 

So, Cerridwen it was, with a twist in that I have painted an amalgamation between Cerridwen and the High Priestess, which felt just right.  Thanks Alena for a fabulous lesson.

Life Book 2015: Week 33 - Inspirational power words with Joanne Sharpe

In this lesson with Joanne Sharpe we explored the concept of the feminine healer archetype by using hand lettering to understand and express various characteristics of the archetype both from the perspective of the healer and/or needing to be healed.  

Using our own handwriting we made art words by playing with and embellishing our own handwriting.  

Such fun, but also an awesome meditative and reflective process.

Life Book 2015: Week 32 - You are wise with Tamara Laporte

Another lovely whimsical girl with Tamara Laporte looking at beliefs that we hold that limit our ability to grow and develop and prevent us from changing and ultimately thriving.  

After a reflective exercise we wrote our limiting beliefs at the bottom of the page and covered them with texture and paint so that they were covered up.  

The girl flies above her limiting beliefs, transforming them into liberating beliefs, or in my case, her liberating beliefs are contained in the balloons that are taking her up and away from those beliefs that are stopping her from becoming all that she can be.

Life Book 2015: Week 31 - Traced hand hamsa protection with Rachael Rice

"The hand has been used as a symbol of protection since ancient times.  It is seen all over the world in the form of a hamsa, Hand of Fatimah, Hand of Venus, and Hand of Mary.  Traditionally it protects from “the evil eye” or bad energies." - Rachael Rice.

I didn't want to use the traditional 'hand' for this exercise but instead traced around my own hand adding symbols and doodles important to me.  I found this process quite therapeutic - it took time but it took me out of myself and into a quiet contemplative space for a while.

Life Book 2015: Week 30 - Letting go and letting in with Flora Bowley

Not so inspired with this lesson, in a bit of a dark space when I created these ... and it shows.  This is more intuitive painting from a lesson with Flora Bowley.  We made lots of marks very quickly on several pieces of paper before choosing a couple to develop further by painting in and around the marks made.  It was an interesting technique but not sure it's one I feel that comfortable with.  Still, for what it's worth here are my two creations -

Life Book 2015: Week 29 - Tiny story-telling with Danielle Donaldson

Oh my gosh, Danielle Donaldson's little girls are so cute.  Danielle provided us with some random words which she invited us to cut apart and make up a story to go with our little girl.  

If you read my blog earlier about the illness I have been battling for most of this year you will have read how I spent a lot of time pacing like a caged animal.  This story tells of how I worked my way through my illness knowing deep down that I would come out the other side having learned something from the experience.  It would take time, I would need to be gentle with myself, and there would be things I would need to let go of, but I would be okay. 

Here's the story - it starts: there's a very tiny story ... a really tiny one ... please read it "Here's the thing about her, walking, talking, always moving in circles ... she feels lost ... it seemed to her that, looking within her, working through the hardness, holding the unloved, she gets the idea, stands tall, knowing in her heart, just like that, her eyes shimmered: picture beautiful thoughts of all things that can be.  She always thought she would sparkle."

There is always HOPE.  You just have to believe in yourself.

Life Book 2015: Week 28 - Layers of you with Tamara Laporte

Another lesson I put off because it was just too painful and I didn't think I would ever be able to do this one, however, after a session with the psychologist I just knew it was time.  

The lesson, from the lovely Tamara Laporte, used a face/body from a fashion magazine (something that represented us) and then a background of collage and paint applied.  I didn't have a fashion magazine but knew that I wanted to use a photo of our grand-daughter, Ellie, to be the base for my painting.  It was important for me to do something playful and childlike, yet wistful.  Something that would reflect my inner child, and the magic associated with letting that child have the freedom to express herself.

It didn't matter that the lesson was completed 'out of order', it was important that it was done 'at the right time' for me.  It took me a while to complete it but a lot of healing took place during that time.  It was really good therapy and I love the result.

Life Book 2015: Week 27 - Artist interview with Jessica Swift

There was no actual lesson for this week but I was inspired during the interview with Jessica Swift  to create this page.  About the same time I saw the bird from the Tim Holtz collection and thought it was really cute so I drew it onto my page as the focal point.  It went well with the quote I had chosen.

Life Book 2015: Week 26 - Our inner Warrior Princess with Andrea Gomoll

I am so in love with the work of the lovely Andrea Gomoll (and she has the most gorgeous accent).  This lesson was designed to help us get in touch with our inner Warrior Princess, or as Andrea puts it "the little Lady inside of us that is strong, courageous, who is fighting for her goals and for what she believes in, who loves to discover new things, who is mindful and therefore at peace with herself" - something I was SO NOT!!!  I certainly did not feel strong, nor courageous, especially given the battle I was facing at that time but this came just as I started turning a corner, and, as usual, the timing was perfect.

First up was to sketch the face, hair and tiara before laying down a basic watercolour wash, then building up layers of colour, outlining with a fine black marker and adding texture paste and acrylic paint through stencils (stencilled quote from Donna Downey), followed by a little hint of Pan Pastels to intensify the colour.  The shield was created separately and then added to the finished page with foam dots to give a 3D effect. 

Absolutely loved this lesson and loved the finished page.

Life Book 2015: Week 25 - Stencilling what you love with Lynzee Lynx

Lynzee Lynx showed us how to create our own stencils.  This was a fun project.  

Lists of what we love, what brings us comfort and healing were written on a blank page.  Doodles and messages were then written around the writing.  The stencil was created and then paint splashes added.  Water was sprayed on the page and the paper tipped to move the water and paint around the page.  

Once dry I used a foam brush to apply paint over the stencil and then all the doodles and details were added using drawing and paint pens.  

So cool to make my own stencil.  I also used one of the stamps I made from an earlier lesson so lots of 'me' in this page.

Life Book 2015: Week 24 - Happy painting with Juliette Crane

This is a real 'mixed media' painting - it uses multiple papers and washi tape collaged to form the base of the painting followed by both oil and water paints.  There was no sketching involved in this painting - it was just painted direct onto the background.  Self portrait ????  Thanks Juliette Crane for an interesting lesson.

Life Book 2015: Week 23 - Magic, Vulnerability & Courage with Tamara Laporte

Again, another challenging lesson from the lovely Tamara Laporte.  This time - looking at the masculine archetype.  Right through this year we have been painting female faces and I did not want my male to look effeminate - he had to look masculine.  The concept was about vulnerability and how this requires having strength and courage - it certainly took a lot of courage to put pencil to paper.

In typical Tam style the background was created with collage, colour, stamping and gesso.  Stencils and doodles added, then time to paint the face and body. Finally the text was hand written on and I was done.  It took me a while but pretty happy with the result really - if I do say so myself.  I think he looks masculine - do you?

Thanks for looking.

Life Book 2015: Week 22 - Reflections of you with Jeanne Oliver

When this lesson from Jeanne Oliver was released I was not ready to face it, so I put it on hold for a few weeks.  Anything that had to do with looking at myself and/or my emotions was just too hard.  When the time came to start it was a challenge but one I knew I just had to do.

We started by taking a photo of ourselves then sketching it with charcoal and white gesso.  From there we photographed the sketch, printed it, cut it out, and used gel medium to transfer the image onto a blank page.  I added torn up pieces of wrapping paper and adhered to the page for the clothing.  We painted around the image with white gesso followed by paint and etching patterns with a skewer (I sponged gold paint to mine to give it an oriental feel).

It was then time to paint the face over the existing image and make any final changes - I added the flower embellishment and text to complete mine.

Life Book 2015: Week 21 - Black and white cookie with Lynn Whipple

This weeks lesson came with a bonus from Tamara Laporte where we were invited to paint an apple, complete with shading.  The actual lesson with Lynn Whipple I had difficulty following the concept (given my health at the time I'm not surprised) and so I focused on the bonus lesson instead. 

Seems funny that somewhere along the art journey there is always a still life drawing of an apple.  In the past I have never been too successful at this but I really enjoyed this lesson and came out with a reasonable looking apple.

Life Book 2015: Week 20 - Unravelling through mark making with Jenny Doh

This was a very freeing exercise with Jenny Doh.  Allowing ourselves to just smudge, doodle, and drip paint onto the page using whatever utensils we had on hand, we then looked at the page from various angles to try and identify a concept or idea that came out from the page.  

When I looked at mine, this cat jumped out.  It reminds me of the cats you see sitting on the counters of Asian restaurants - I see it as a 'lucky' cat.  For me it was a sign of better things to come (plus the part my own kitty cat played in my recovery).

"Cats leave paw prints on our hearts."

Life Book 2015: Week 19 - Stamping shadow and light with Jessica Swift

Emerging from darkness into light seemed an appropriate title given It reflected how I was feeling at the time.  This lesson with Jessica Swift involved creating a shaded background, hand carving your own stamps and then stamping onto the background.  

Using silver ink I stamped the feathers and bubbles over the dark area of the background and the plants and flowers were stamped in black over the lighter part of background.  Each of the stamps was hand-carved by me.

I then drew a pecked border around to frame.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder

Well it has been ages since I posted here.  Life took a different twist earlier in the year when I came down with a virus.  Appearing out of nowhere it took my feet out from under me and I was confined to home for two weeks.  What was even more debilitating was that I developed an anxiety disorder very early on in the piece.  It started off as being a night-time thing to 24 hours a day constantly in a state of high anxiety.  Being an art therapist you would think that I would be able to get myself out of this but unfortunately I couldn't even pick up a pencil or paintbrush as my motivation completely disappeared and I was unable to function.  I couldn't read, listen to music, watch TV, sit at the computer - all I could do was pace like a wild animal.  Being inside made things worse and I just wanted to be outside in the open air AND it was winter - not a good combination.  

I tried going the 'natural' route with homeopathic remedies and these provided some relief.  I also worked through some stuff with a friend of Jan's who is a spiritual therapist and this was really helpful, but in the end I had to go back to my GP and get medication to fix the chemical imbalance in my brain.  Ending up in hospital with a suspected heart attack was not where I wanted to be - my heart muscles were on the verge of serious damage and I could no longer fight it.  

The first medication I was put on was addictive and I quickly became dependent on it.  I tried to wean off it and start a long-term medication but had a violent reaction to the second medication and the anxiety got totally out of control.  I was desperate and ended up seeing one of the other GP's in the practice as my own GP was away.  He immediately doubled the dose of my 'addictive' medication and changed the second one.  It took a few days of some slightly unpleasant side-effects from this drug but slowly things started to change.  I finally also gave in and allowed myself to be referred to the local Adult Mental Health Service.  I saw a Psychiatrist who sorted out my medication for me and reassured me that this was only a short-term thing and likely came about as a result of the virus.  There was also a Psychologist there and I am currently still seeing him - he has been re-establishing techniques I had forgotten about with the onset of the illness.  Things like relaxation breathing, meditation, exercise, and grounding.  He also worked with me to establish what things occurred around the time of my illness which may have been triggers for the the anxiety.  Identifying possible triggers was the turning point - now I knew what I was dealing with and the healing could begin in earnest.  I have one more session with him next week.  

In the meantime I have been slowly weaning off my 'addictive' medication and hopefully will be off completely in a week or so.  At that point I should be able to drive again - I haven't driven in just on 4 months (when I first got sick).  The last few weeks have been an incredible journey.  I have been able to start drawing again and I feel so much better.  It is thanks to this amazing team that have got me through this and especially to my lovely Jan who has been through this with me every step of the way, my rock - i could not have done it without you.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Life Book 2015: Week 18 - Here's looking at you kid with Kristin van Valkenburgh

Still feeling far from well but am prepared to have a go at this weeks lesson regardless. 

Kristin van Valkenburgh took us on a journey to explore our inner child by reminding ourselves how important it is to be present, let go and have fun.  Using a variety of media we created two pages - the first page would form the top layer with a door which opened up to reveal the second layer.    Inside the door flap we attached a letter from the perspective of our “little” selves. 

While the top layer was essentially black & white, with a third colour of our choosing, the second layer was a riot of colour painted from a childlike perspective. 

What more can I say, I did it, it's not my favourite piece, but I did it!

Life Book 2015: Week 17 - Feel the Moment with Jenny Wentworth

Not feeling too flash today, have been laid flat for the past few days with a major chest infection (well, so the doctor says - feels more like pneumonia to me).  Anyhow, after a week in bed I decided to tackle this weeks lesson from Jenny Wentworth

The challenge is to work intuitively to paint a face, no sketching it out beforehand, just lay down some gesso, a wash of colour and then move the paint around with your fingers to resemble a face.  Add charcoal to start defining features and then see what evolves from there.  Easy to let go today because my brain is a foggy haze anyway and doesn't want to do anything so it's just play, play, play and would you believe it I actually came up with a half decent face. 
I love how the background looks old and worn and I quite like how the face looks.  She's not perfect but then she's not meant to be.  Her eyes lack life - but that's exactly how I felt as I was creating her - if you look at my eyes at the moment they have lost their sparkle, they are tired, and heavy ... just wanting to sleep.

I will create again using this method - but when I am feeling better.  Then, and only then, might she come truly alive.  Funnily enough, I loved working in this manner.  Thanks Jenny for a fabulous lesson.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Life Book 2015: Week 15 - It's the little things with Tamara Laporte

Todays lesson with Tamara Laporte was focusing on colour and specifically about using black & white in your painting and how that can add real drama and contrast to a piece of art.  She also discussed contrast and about playing with contrasting shapes such as combining triangular shapes with more rounded shapes.   Tamara showed us how to proportion and lay out a 3/4 face.  This was a two page layout. 

I had been watching one of my favourite movies "Lost Horizon" prior to starting this lesson and it's influence is clearly evident in my painting today.  The movie tells the story of five people who are on the last plane out of Baskul (ahead of an invasion of armed revolutionaries) but are unaware that their plane has been hijacked.  It eventually runs out of fuel and crashes deep in the Himalayan Mountains, killing their abductor.  The group are rescued and taken to Shangri-La, an idyllic valley sheltered from the bitter cold. Initially anxious to return to civilization, most of the newcomers grow to love Shangri-La, and the story goes on to follow their lives, loves, joys and sorrows.

Life Book 2015: Week 16 - Be Here Now with Alena Hennessy

Todays Life Book lesson was more about painting in the now and with that Alena Hennessy challenged us to do three paintings - the first over a period of 15 minutes, the second over ten minutes, and the third just five minutes.  These were to be done with just what was on hand in front of us.

The painting to the left has lots of layers and was fun to create but I had difficulty in just letting go and painting freely. There was a lot of mark making but I found myself wanting to make it look like something. 

Mostly this was paint applied with my fingers, with paint markers in black and white to add accents.  I also used a little bit of bubble wrap to add texture.

This was the fifteen minute painting and it surprised me just how long fifteen minutes was when you were clock-watching.

I also struggled with letting go for the other two time limits.  The lion was playing with the circle/rectangle animals from a previous lesson - this was the ten minute painting; and then the flowers below which was a five minute painting.  

While some students added 'extra' items after the time frame was up I stuck rigidly to the allocated times.

I'm not altogether happy with the outcome but in hindsight I was coming down with a nasty infection and am sure this influenced how I approached this lesson.

I think the other thing is that I have had an issue in the past about rushing my art and have been working on slowing down the process over the past few years.  This lesson felt like I was taking a huge step backwards and it didn't connect with me at all.

Oh well, onwards and upwards - I love Alena's work but putting myself under time limits doesn't sit well with me I guess.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Life Book 2015: Week 14 - Field journaling with Alisa Burke

This weeks lesson with Alisa encouraged the students to go outdoors and draw things from nature.  Prior to going out I prepared a simple watercolour background ready for drawing on after my field trip.

As Anna and Michael were here with Ellie for the weekend it was a great time to go to the park.  Michael was busy with the Omaka Airshow so the rest of us went to Pollard Park in Blenheim.  After feeding the ducks, Anna, Ellie & Nana Jan went to the playground while I went off to sketch, photograph and collect my specimens.  

When I was almost finished the fantails starting flitting around me.  I love fantails and can usually only get photographs from behind so it was with some luck today that I managed to get some front on.  One cheeky little fantail, known here in NZ as Piwakawaka, was darting around my head and almost landed on my shoulder.  Naturally he had to be included in my drawing.  I found three leaves that I liked the shape of, photographed them, drew some quick sketches and I was done.

Back home I quickly drew up my subject material and painted with watercolours and acrylics.  The fantail proved a challenge but as it was the first time I had drawn a bird I was very happy with how he came out.

What do you think?

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Life Book 2015: Week 12 - Bonus lesson with Tamara Laporte

This week was an artist interview with Jenny Doh - a very interesting interview and inspiring to say the least.  As an 'extra' Tam brought out a lesson from last years Life Book.  I fought with this lesson - several pieces of paper went in the rubbish bin as I just could not get her out onto paper.  'She' being my Inner Artist Guardian.

I left it for a few days and then one of the students posted a painting that she had done - not as part of a lesson but just for her own personal development.  She had done it on canvas - maybe I could try that.  

I used a similar technique and similar colours and I thank Carol Fielhaber for her inspiration and encouragement.  She came easily and I am in love ...

I still cannot believe she came from my hand, or more correctly, from my heart.  She did not want to be put into a book, she wanted to be on the wall.  

Inner Artist Guardian I adore you and thank you for showing yourself to me.

Life Book 2015: Week 13 - Happy Painting with Juliette Crane

Who would have guessed that a circle and a rectangle could create almost any animal you want.  I love this new found freedom in creating whimsical animals thanks to the lovely Juliette Crane

Juliette got us creating our own little menagerie of whimsical creatures which was just magic.  Here are just a few of my little creations.

Just very quick pencil sketches - one day I'll have a go at putting these into paintings using the techniques Juliette taught us as I think they'll be heaps of fun to do.  In case you don't recognise them they are - a rabbit, a cat, a cow and an elephant on the left hand side and then an owl, a sheep, a racoon and a pig on the right.

Anyway, the actual lesson for this week was to draw an owl.  Most of the painting was done with a palette knife and my fingers - right up my alley - getting mucky.  So here's my finished owl.  Rather well fed and contented me thinks.  I love how my background came out and I even included some gold leaf randomly placed to make it look crackled.  Very happy with this little cutie.

Watch this space for the rest of the paintings at some future date.  In the meantime, thanks for popping by to check out my artwork.

And thanks Juliette for a fabulous lesson and fun playing - just loved it.

Life Book 2015: Week 11 - Inner and Outer World with Jane Davenport

Oh wow, this week was challenging in that we had to add the start of a figure to a face, but very satisfying. Jane Davenport set us the task of exploring the following questions and then using our responses to create a collage upon which to build our creation - how our inner world creates or influences our outer world.

What makes you tick? What lights you up? Who lights you up! What is your favourite food? Colour! Place! Think about yourself and the things, people and places that you feel gratitude for. What makes you feel like celebrating? Small moments and big events you hold close to your heart. 

For me those things are music, robins, dolphins, butterflies, water lilies and, of course, the colour green.  I also brought in a little turquoise and cerise as accent colours because they are so very vibrant.   The clock is representative of how important time is to me - to make the most of what time I have, to make the most of life.

I started off with putting down a collage base and then adding some base colours.  The figure was added in pencil with the face having been cut from another painting I did and then photocopied and glued onto the collage.  The body was then drawn and everything outside of the figure was given a light coat of gesso thereby helping to define the figure.  Her hair was given a light wash of colour.  The skin tones were added to the face and body with the photocopy being painted to blend it all together and then the eyes, nose and mouth were defined.  Her dress was then given a wash of colour as well and linework added to define the bust etc.  Shading was added to bring the figure off the page and add dimension.  To finish I added the quote and a few lines to create wisps of hair.

I just love how she has turned out - thanks so much Jane.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Life Book 2015: Week 10 - Layers of your Heart

This weeks lesson came from Tamara Laporte.  We were to create a layered heart combining several collage elements.  She gave us two options as to how to do it - one being to make a fan with the hearts and put them into a pocket, the other being to have them stacked and pivot on a brad to reveal people/things I am grateful for.  While I loved the various techniques on the hearts I had some technical issues when it came to placement of the gratitude texts.  It's all there, but is now hidden under subsequent hearts. 
The text in the background is lyrics to a song from when I was a teenager about things I nearly forgot to say thank you for.  It seemed appropriate for this particular assignment.  I love the border.

I'd like to try the other option and see how that goes as I was not happy with the overall look of this one once finished and don't know that I want this particular piece in my completed Life Book.  It is growing on me however so time will tell.

Life Book 2015: Week 9 - Favourite Favourites with Lynn Whipple

Oh what fun, creating a jar and including on it all of my favourite things.  Where to start.

The shape of my jar is similar to a family heirloom that is handed down from eldest daughter to eldest daughter in my family .  I just love the shape and so used this for my jar of favourites.

What to add was the dilemma as it is hard to think when put into this type of situation.  I think I have covered the obvious things but I am sure I will think of a lot more I could have added.

After I finished I realised that I had spelt the word "favourites" in both the American and English way - oh well, never mind.

I finished off the jar with a butterfly charm and a piece of thread and love the overall effect of the jar and the background.  The frame around the outside makes the picture feel complete for me.  Thanks to Lynn Whipple for a fun lesson.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Life Book 2015: Bonus lesson - Tree of Life

A little bit of fun with Tamara Laporte.  I didn't follow the lesson, I just decided to draw with my watercolour pencils and paint markers.  My 'girl' is a girl at heart but not in years as you can tell from her face and the song lyrics (Gerry & The Pacemakers - boy that's going back a bit). I love that she is so happy being back on a swing after many years of trying to act her age but now she wants to just play.
a little bit of whimsy

Life Book 2015: Week 8 - Treasure Seeking

A wee bit of an epiphany this week.  The lesson was provided by Mati Rose McDonough and involved incorporating gold and/or silver leaf somewhere into your artwork.  

Mati Rose created her background and then added a boat.  I got part way through the background and loved how it was turning out.  I dutifully carried on following her instruction but came to a point where I felt I no longer liked it.  Ready to throw it away and start again a little voice told me to "just keep working through it".  I finished the background and went to bed still not happy with how it looked.  When I looked at it again the next day I could see a tree sitting there and knew that I needed to leave the boat and go with my vision. 
The quote, "when someone you lose becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure", came to me from last weeks 'heart community' which set me thinking about those gone before.  So, the tree represents my family tree with it's gold leaves made from gold leaf. I thought about the boat, and the owl and the pussycat were there in the mix, and I could not resist a gold moon. 

I feel that, for the first time, I was really conscious of my art speaking to me.  It was an 'aha' moment.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Life Book 2015: Week 7 - Your Heart Community & Magical Mystery Tour

I struggled a little with this weeks lesson, particularly the heart community.  This lesson was presented by Jill K Berry and involved making a book shaped like people.  Each page was to represent a person who was important in your life, had supported you in some way ... and that's where my dilemma began.  I had no problem with the technical aspects of making the book, and I wasn't even worried if the resulting people didn't actually look like who they were supposed to be, after all it was just supposed to be representational.  My problem was ... who do I include? 

I thought about all the people who had been and still are important in my life.  Teachers who made an impact on me, people who guided me through my life, people who supported me through illness, stood by my side when things got rough, the counsellor who helped me deal with a major trauma, people who were right beside me when life events challenged and changed me ... so many people, and how to decide who to include.  I thank you all for the influence you have had on my life - maybe I need to make a bigger book?

Anyway, I put off starting this assignment and got on to the second part - much easier and less emotionally challenging.  I didn't initially know why I was finding it so hard but then I realised that I was concerned that if I chose just four people then someone might be offended if they were not included and I didn't want to upset anyone.  I would not be who I am today without any of these amazing people but that need to keep everyone happy was stopping me from starting the lesson.

Then, just as I was waking one morning, the image of a four generation photo, taken when I was just a baby, came to me - it was of my great grandmother, my grandmother, my mother and me.  My gran passed away when I was ten after being hit by a car, my nana had a major stroke when I was only seven (although she did not pass away until I was in my mid thirties) and my mum is now in her late seventies.  How awesome would it be to recreate the four as adult women together - so that is what I did.  Gran, Nana, Mum - I will love you forever.
There is a little lift up flap on their dresses under which is written something about them.  Without these women I would not be the person I am today - and I am including me in that, each time I make a decision, I am effecting some sort of change in my life.

The Magical Mystery Tour with Violette Clark was a little different.  I think I actually missed the brief on this one and totally just did the assignment by following what the tutor did.  Now having seen some of the other students work I would like to have another go at this one and own it.  Some of the students had sandcastles, castles, cottages, motorhomes etc on theirs - they had made it their own, but not me.  I am happy with what I produced but it is not mine - I love the wings on the dragonfly and I love the hearts.
I am still searching for 'my style' but I am learning what is not me if that makes any sense.  As one of my elderly residents at work keeps saying "we'll get there".  Watch this space!

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Life Book 2015: Week 6 - Seeds of Love

This week is right up my alley - doodling.  My challenge however was to get the background shading done including deliberately muddied colours.  Don't think I did too badly myself although I have worked out that I am a little heavy-handed when it comes to applying paint - my collage background completely disappeared.  Never mind - I completed the assignment and I will be doing more of these in the future (once I get the correct pens for doodling with, and get the background colours mastered).

I love the way the white paint pen has picked up the colours from beneath it - it kind of accentuates the shading.  This was my first attempt at 'structured' doodling (if you can call it that) - some of which I am happy with and some I wouldn't do again.  I quite like the wee butterflies - I think I am going to add them to all my artwork in the future, sort of like my signature.  

Unfortunately when I scanned this the doodled border was outside the scan boundaries but you get the general idea. 

Now, off to play some more and start making this technique my own.

Thanks for a great lesson Tamara Laporte and roll on week 7.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Life Book 2015 - Week 5: Dreamcatchers and affirmation feathers

Oh good, I thought, something simple - no faces here, no need to stress.  Ha!!!

The dreamcatcher was straightforward enough and was lots of fun to make.  Thanks to Rachael Rice for this different way of creating one.  A quick trip to the local secondhand store for a doily and it was underway.   Here's the result -

Second task - the affirmation feather with Tamara Laporte ... should be a piece of cake ... nope!!

My first attempt the lines were too heavy as I had trouble finding pens that would write over my painted surface.  Attempt number two was abandoned because the pens I used to colour the feather were too dark and the whole picture ended up very dark and not at all like a feather should look.  Attempt number three however was a little more successful.  I found some pens (Faber Castell Pitt Pens) that I had used years ago - there was very little ink left in them but they sort of did the job.  Needless to say I have ordered a new set and am eagerly awaiting their arrival.

Attempt number three -

I am quite liking this - it is good to challenge myself and go outside of my comfort zone.  Now looking forward to new supplies arriving and next weeks class.  Thanks Tam, you rock!!!

Friday, 23 January 2015

Life Book 2015 - Week 4: Courage Dear Heart

Another whimsical girl, this time a ballerina on a tightrope.  I was definitely feeling a little intimidated before starting this lesson, oh my goodness.  Anyway, I decided to jump right in and start with what I was already confident doing - the collage background.  

I used scrapbook paper off-cuts and washi tape, plus I coloured and stamped some plain tissue paper and added a small piece of printed music.  Further colour was added using water soluble crayons and then toned down with gesso. I sketched in the ballerina and then using some of the techniques already taught us by Tamara I started layering paint for the body and then the dress.  

This project was presented by Patti Ballard who provided a quick video showing how to create this delightful girl on a wire.  Although there were no detailed instructions, by stopping and starting the video it was easy enough to re-create her. 
Since finishing her I have painted another one on a block canvas with lacy paper for the background - very happy with how she is progressing.  I still have a long way to go before I find my own style for creating these wee ones but it is a fun journey and I am learning every day.

Life Book 2015 - Week 3: The Artful Wordsmith

Writing is ones worst nightmare especially when it comes to decorative lettering in particular and I am no exception.  This weeks lesson was by Joanne Sharpe who is the author of "The Art of Whimsical Lettering". Joanne provided excellent instruction on how to start developing your own style of decorative lettering based on your handwriting.  She suggested getting a small exercise book and joining adjacent pages together with glue then sealing the edge with washi tape - this makes the pages slightly thicker and more resistant to inks showing through.  This book becomes a lettering journal in which to practice your lettering and start experimenting with different styles and different products, checking out what each pen type and style does.  For this lesson we learnt how to position our lettering along with our graphic to produce a cohesive and balanced project.  A simple onion flower provided an easy subject to draw - love, love, love. 
My lettering journal is also taking shape and has many pages of doodles and other creations filling up its pages.  Yet another awesome lesson.

Life Book 2015 - Week 2: Playing tag & Celebration jar

This week the challenge was to create a tag which was created under the tutelage of Roben-Marie Smith.  I made my own tag from a piece of white cardstock which I coloured using different sprays.  I used the same colours on a separate piece of card and then I stamped, doodled and added washi tape before gluing it to the tag.  I made faux stitching around the tag using a fine pen before adding the label and coloured seam-binding ribbon.

The other part of this assignment was the celebration jar.  The idea is to decorate a jar and each day write something positive or good that has happened to you and put it in the jar.  At the end of the year you take out all the pieces of paper and you can read back over your year, or if you need a pick-me-up during the year you can delve into the jar.  Here's mine -
I bought the jar from Briscoes (on sale) and decorated it using a paper serviette.  The original serviette was lime green with white spots.  The layers were separated and the plain white layers were randomly sprayed with various coloured dyes.  The serviettes were torn into pieces and all the pieces were collaged onto the jar.  Washi tape and embellishments were added and the project was complete.

Thanks Tamara Laporte for another fabulous lesson.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Life Book 2015 - Week 1: Beacon of Light

A beacon of light ... I thought aboutwhat this might look like when I went to bed that first night.  In my dreams this little faerie princess came to me and I remembered her so clearly when I woke up - she had a gold crown, pink wings shaped like hearts and she carried a wand in one hand and a heart pendant in the other.

I sat down to watch the video, to see the beautiful creature evolving from Tamaras hand, so serene and beautiful.  It was exciting, intimidating, thought provoking, daunting, terrifying almost - what if I couldn't do it.  It involves drawing faces - albeit whimsical, but faces all the same.

I decided to just bite the bullet, no use putting it off, I had signed up for the year and here I was baulking at week one. 

I did my basic sketch and was relatively happy with the concept but then came the painting and shading.  Tamara made it look so easy and my inner critic was sitting there saying, "you've wrecked it now, you can't do this, what were you thinking" and then a little voice popped into my head and said "trust the process".  I remember this from my Art Therapy days with Marnie De Wolf in Hamilton - she introduced me to the amazing Shaun McNiff who said that it isn't about the final product, it is about the process.  So I trusted the process, in fact, I loved the process, and I love my faerie princess who is going to be by my side, inspiring me throughout this course.

Here she is ... right down to her little heart shaped shoe laces
I am so happy and can't wait until Week 2.  Yay!!!

Life Book 2015

Towards the end of 2014 I started thinking about what I wanted from 2015 - as you do ...

I posted the following on Facebook "I don't like making New Years resolutions as I never seem to be able to keep them very long, but what I am going to do is re-focus. This year that is coming to a close has seen a number of changes and no doubt 2015 will see more changes, but my wish for the new year is to spend more time in my heart (exploring my arty farty side) and less time in my head (ie on my computer). This may mean that I am not as active on Facebook but it doesn't mean I will be thinking of you all any less, it just means I might not be commenting on posts as much - please don't be offended and please don't take it personally. A very wise lady once told me that I spend far too much time in my head and not enough in my heart and I have decided to take her advice and change that - thanks Aud, love you!!"

I have been participating in a couple of ATC swap groups - one a monthly calendar swap and the other on a given topic every 3-4 weeks.  I also joined a Creative Card Art group where you create a small artwork on a given topic and this is done on a weekly basis.  While I enjoyed participating in these groups I knew that this wasn't where I wanted to be this year, but exactly where I wanted to be and how I was going to achieve that, I had no idea.  Then on New Years day I opened Facebook and Donna Downey was promoting a course called Life Book 2015.  I decided to click on the link and it led me to Willowing and the lovely Tamara Laporte.    As I read through what the course had to offer it ticked all my boxes so I signed up there and then.  

I am so excited.  Every week there is a new lesson given by Tamara or one of her awesome tutors (including Donna Downey I might add).  There are videos and accompanying PDFs to download and it is the type of course that you will get out of it as much as you put into it.  It took less than 24 hours to get accepted into the group and then I was away.

The first task, after watching the intro videos, was to do a warm-up exercise using mixed media.  We had to come up with a word for the year and also write our intentions for the year on an envelope which was attached to the final artwork.  Without even thinking about it the word 'nourish' popped into my head - it's not a word I would normally use but I decided to go with it.  Funnily enough I saw a post later by Donna Downey and it is the same word that she has chosen for this year.  I am very aware of syncronicity in my life and these events all tell me that I am on the right path.

Anyway, here is my warm-up exercise

To come ... assignment for Week 1.