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Things I am doing and reading and making.

What are you doing in these strange and new times we find ourselves in. What are we all doing to stay sane, to use our time wisely and productively?

I have been working on a few projects for the library (where I work part time in the normal world) but is of course closed now until we don’t know when.  I like to have the focus of these projects because they are not optional but still fun to complete, not a class I found on Instagram which I may or may not finish.  Having said that I have found so much goodness on the inter webs and most of it via Instagram.

I made sourdough bread from a starter my friend shared with me and I have sown zinnia seeds given to me by the same lovely lady!  It is nice to be in a time of sharing and helping, I have made  some sketchbooks and given them to friends and shared novels when I finished them.  I do like to think that most of us would be doing all of this anyway but somehow we are more grateful during a united unwanted situation like this pandemic.

So what have I been doing apart from making bread and planting flowers?  Well I am glad you asked!

I have read ‘The Mercies’ by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, ‘The American Fiancee’ by Eric Dupont which was a monster of a book but such a wonderful story. ‘Writers and Lovers’ by Lily King is the first book I have ever read on the iPad via Hoopla Digital and I did enjoy it.  I like that I had access to a shiny new release on Hoopla but I am not totally converted, there is nothing like your favourite bookmark charting your progress through a book and turning the paper pages.  The next book I am about to read is also on Hoopla and is ‘The Case of the Missing Books’ by Ian Sansom which I am really looking forward to as it sounds quirky and interesting and it is set in a mobile library! There are 4 books in this series, so I hope I like them, maybe I will start to enjoy digital books.

There are lots of art classes around as well, some free, some new, some existing and some created just for lockdown creating.

Some of my favourites are Amy Maricle’s Facebook live classes which are on her Mindful Art page and well worth checking out.  Jeanne Oliver offers a generous amount of free classes along with a huge array of great value classes with instruction from a variety of talented artists.  A class I am very much enjoying is Misty Mawn’s Watercolour class which is cram packed with so much information, I am taking it slowly because I don’t want to miss a thing and I want to practice all the exercises and it is proving to be well worth it.

As a spin off from Misty’s class I want to make my own watercolour paints!  She has a section in the main class about making your own paints which is something I have been wanted to do for a while.  I have some pigment on the way and I am planning to have a go at the weekend, so watch this space!

I am always making books anyway and I am making more and more small books ranging from simple accordion books inspired by The Traveling Bookbinder to the sewn coverless books I love to make from the tutorial from Peg and Awl.  These books make it easy to fill them and are not intimidating to use.  I can use the paper I love for the project I am planning!

These are a few of the things I am entertaining myself with, how about you?

Happy Wednesday x

The 100 day project 2020

The 100 day project starts tomorrow and I am in! I have done the project for about 5 years now and I have always got into it and ended up with a nice chunk of work. Some themes worked better than others and I hope this years will be a winner!

In the past I have drawn mandalas and recorded ideas and last year I did 100 days of blueand I think this and the first mandala year are my favorites.  

This year I have made a book and I am going to fill it with 100 days of black and white.  This way it will have a theme but I will also have enough scope for lots of ideas to fill it with.

Inside my book is mainly plain drawing and watercolor paper with a few sheets of vintage ledger paper.

The tutorial for this book style is from the wonderful and gorgeous Peg and Awl website.

Are you doing the 100 Day Project?  What are you doing?  Do tell!

Happy Monday x

Colour Found

When I watched Kasia Avery at Everything Art UK using Stabilo Woody crayon/pencils in her art journal pages I thought ‘Hang on, I have seen those before and I am pretty sure I still have some’.  I scurried off to see where mine were and I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had quite a nice collection of colours.

I used them last when I was at Trent Polytechnic, soon to be Nottingham Trent University (yes I am that old!) way back in 1989-91.  The course was BA (hons) Fashion design and the illustrations were always on paper and lugged about in a giant black art folder which clunked my ankles on a regular basis!

They were a joy to use then and they are still as lovely now, I am super pleased I kept them and I will use them until I can’t sharpen them any more.

Happy Sunday x

Estate sale finds from the weekend.

I do like a full estate sale and this one was full, full of dolls and beanie babies! Thankfully it was also full of old paper and books!

It was pretty local and my husband had been the day before and picked me up this box of photos and the scrapbook full of film make up research from 1941. When he suggested going again on Saturday, I ditched my yoga class for some bargains.

I found a modern paper cutter for $2 which was a good start but a bit boring. I seemed to wade through dolls, beanies and Garfield paraphernalia for the next few rooms and was beginning to feel deflated. The basement was full of Christmas decorations and some books so I had a browse through the books. I picked up a couple from the 1960’s which I can use images from and maybe use the covers for a sketchbook. I am not sure I have any plans for the 1966 calendar but it has some beautiful paintings in it.

One last look through the old old old books and I spotted this giant ledger at the back for $4.00. It had newspaper clippings stuck in like a scrapbook but the last few pages were original but empty ledger pages, so I decided to buy it. On closer inspection when I got it home, I noticed that under the clippings on the first few pages were ledger entries from the late 1800’s to 1920. The clippings were from around 1930, so I can remove the newspaper and use it in my collages and the ledger papers will be great to use too!

This last photo shows how I use ledger paper in my sketchbook. It adds a lovely background for collages and sketches.

Do you enjoy an estate sale? What do you look for?

Happy Monday x

The Books I read in 2019

These are most of the books I read in 2019, only ‘most’ are in this pile because I own two which I can’t find for the life of me, I even wonder if they have been donated. The others are new at the library and all checked out and I forgot to add one to the pile!

They are not a ‘best of’ selection as they are all the ones I read from the first page to the last.  I don’t finish a book if I don’t like it, so these are those I liked (and finished). I remember them all except one and I have more favorites than not.

Where the Crawdad’s Sing by Delia Owens.  I was late to this party as I didn’t really fancy it to be honest, but I am very happy that I eventually read it as I liked it, great characters helped by the main character’s talent for sketching and observing.

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn.  This was a classic case of judging a book by it’s cover which is beautiful and the book is worth a read even though I did get a little irritated by the couple featured at times.  I don’t usually read much non fiction but this has made me look more at the non fiction shelves.

Professor Chandra Follows his Bliss by Rajeev Balasubramanyam.  This was an ‘in-between reads’ book.  I had nothing to read as the books I was waiting for had not arrived and I needed a book right now, so I scoured the shelves at the library and this one popped out.  It sounded ok, so I took it home, it was an entertaining read and a good ‘in between’ book.

The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas.  There was a lot of backwards and forwards in this book as you may well expect.  It was well written and easy to keep up with all the characters and times, even though I did have to hop back a few times to establish the time we were in!

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley.  Another ‘in between’ book found on the Waterstones website when I was looking for a ‘right now’ book.  This is not at all the sort of book I usually read, I have no interest in the ‘who did it and why and when will we find out’ type of story and yet here I was with a classic whodunnit in my hands.  I enjoyed it and it was a satisfying read. This was my last book of the year and it is set over New Year, so that was appropriate.

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames. I enjoyed this book although I noted when I had finished ‘good, but quite bleak in parts’.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles.  I know, I know, late to the party doesn’t even count on this one, everyone had gone home to bed by the time I arrived!  I read this beauty on holiday, in large print as that was all the local Cape Cod library had where we were staying and I loved it so much.  It is crying out to be a film directed by Wes Anderson, I just hope someone is on this!     Oh, I just did some looking on the Google-webs and it is going to be a mini series with Kenneth Branagh, I’ll take it!

Little by Edward Carey. This book caught my eye early in the year as it is written by the same man who wrote the ‘Iremonger’ series which my youngest son loved when he was about 10 or 11.  I dove right in and loved it.  It is a historical fiction novel about Madame Tussaud and her beginnings.  It is just the right combination of dark, clever and historical for me.

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert.  I grabbed this as soon as it landed on the library shelf and devoured it!  The story romps along and the characters are wonderful and full of life. Another one which would make a fabulous film.

The Rosie Result by Graeme Simsion.  I have read the other two Rosie/Don books so it was only good manners to read this one too.  I liked it but didn’t love it.

Akin by Emma Donoghue.  I spotted this on my director’s desk and was so happy to see a new book by Ms Donoghue.  I love loved ‘The Wonder’ and couldn’t wait to read this new book.  It was not disappointing, very good story and relatable characters.

Lost and Wanted by Nell Freudenberger.  Ok this is the one, I saw it on my list of books read (I note them in my planner) and I don’t remember reading it!  I looked at the synopsis on Amazon and yes I definitely read it as it did ring a bell,  and I must have liked it otherwise I would not have finished it.

Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner.  I started this warily as I wasn’t sure it was my thing and I didn’t love the ending, but I did get to the ending!  Liked it but didn’t love it. Don’t need a movie of this one…

The books not pictured but read are:

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett.  Loved this one, loved the cover, loved the story.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern.  I made notes from this book, wrote down quotes. I never ever do this but this was so visual and the story is astounding and wonderful and wondrous.

The Girl who saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson. I am the worst for owning a book and then never reading it which is how this book came to be on my shelf for so long before I read it.  It is full of story and character, packed to the edges of each page with interesting stuff to read and story to follow.  I couldn’t find it to add it to the pile which makes me think I donated it.  I hope the next person to read it loves it too.

The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan.  This was the first book of the year and I liked it but not my favourite.  Another one I owned and then donated (I think).

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson. Funny, clever, original and relatable.  Such a good book.

Queeny Malone’s Paradise Hotel by Ruth Hogan.  Almost my last book of the year and what a cracker, it is heartwarming but not sappy, the characters leap off the page and there are enough twists and turns to be interesting but not frustrating. I loved that it is set in Brighton, England which is somewhere I love!

That is my books of 2019, did you read some of the same ones?  What did you read in 2019?  I am always collecting book recommendations.

Happy Thursday x

 

I like Friday. Art Witch Academy review.

Art Witch Academy is a fairly new membership art website exploring the concept of ‘art as ritual and ritual as art’, which I like the sound of, so I asked the founding witches if I could have a preview of the Academy to review for Brush magazine. Brush is no longer in print, but the website still has lots of inspiration.

The  A.W.A. website provides tutorials, inspiration and information with projects on a variety of art topics, all art witch and magic related. The witches run the academy in semesters and they are full of original projects and ideas.

The Academy is the vision and work of three art witches, Vanessa (@dansmoncrane), Caroline (@freya.fennec) and Emily (@fern.and.oak.art).  Each has a unique take on their contribution to the Academy.  Their passion, knowledge and generosity is apparent in every part of AWA as you browse around the site looking at book recommendations via detailed seminars and tutorials.

The website is clear and easy to navigate and revisit to carry on with a class or to follow an interview.  

It starts with ‘Orientation’ where you can read about the founding witch sisters and consider your own witch goals while pondering the question “What does ‘witch’ mean to you?”.  I liked this introduction to the whole website as it did make me think about the concept and what it meant to me.  I have always been very interested in all things witchy although I don’t consider myself very witch-like.  Everything from crystals and tarot cards to my fascination with dragons and totem animals is of interest to me.  I worked for many years with a self professing witch and she was always one of my favorite people.  Having said that, no matter what your level of witchness (I think I made that word up), there will be something at Art Witch Academy of interest to you.

The ‘Seminars’ section has traditional tutorials with ideas and practical applications all with a solid helping of magic. I personally enjoyed the classes which have a specific goal but can be used for all kinds of other projects. Some of the tutorials will carry on across future semesters which I like the sound of, guided ongoing projects are always rewarding to me.

Watching my first tutorial by Caroline literally had me stopping part way through to grab a notebook, art journal and playing cards to add gesso and work on. I had specific ideas related to the class about exploring personal symbols which I had to write down there and then!

Another class taught by Caroline included some very innovative bookbinding which I was overjoyed with and as this is an ongoing project at the academy, I am looking forward to the next stage.  As you know, bookbinding is one of my very favorite things.

One of my favourite parts of Art Witch Academy is the ‘Laboratory’ which has practical and super interesting projects like how to make your own set of hand made water colours taught by Vanessa.  

All three witches make the projects interesting and accessible, with their own style and way of working and explaining.  

After watching and reading the tutorials and interviews from the first semester (they are now on semester three), I get the constant feeling of total inspiration.  Art Witch Academy is full of information and actions which are accessible and doable whether you are a fully fledged art witch or just like to see a black cat cross your path once in a while, or just wonder about a dragon as a pet like I do.

Whether you are working in a handmade grimoire or a journal from the store, Art Witch Academy will have some inspiration waiting for you.  The energy and ideas just bounce off the screen and you will be creating in no time.

Visit www.artwitchacademy.com for all the information.

Happy Friday x

Snow on a Monday

We have had a snowy day today here in the mid-west as the temperatures plummeted from the sunny sixties yesterday straight down into the frosty twenties by mid morning today.

I braved the snow and wind to walk down to the YMCA to pilates class, I arrived looking like a snowman and with a slightly damp mat!  I enjoyed the work out though, so worth the wintery walk, and I got to stomp through the snowy woods and discover that one of my winter boots has a hole in the back heel…..ewwww wet cold sock…

Apart from the trip out to pilates I have mainly been drinking tea, eating home made gooey butter cookies and doing a little bit of art journaling.  Oh, and I vacuumed the floor!!

Hope you have had a good start to the week.

Happy Monday x

 

I like Friday – trip to see the Ai WeiWei Bare Life exhibit

I liked the bikes!

I went with a friend to see the Bare Life exhibit by Ai Weiwei at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum here in St Louis and it was  well worth a visit.

There is so much to see and learn here, and all for free!  If you are in the St Louis area, be sure to see this exhibit.

Of course the other galleries of the art museum are worth a look too, I loved this mini hall of mirrors in it’s own tower.

Happy Friday x

 

Get Messy Season of Reflection week 1

For this season I explored the Japanese stab stitch book binding technique.  I have to admit that I have always looked past this method as I didn’t think it would be a great journal binding as it doesn’t lay flat readily.  I always thought it looked too bulky to work with the papers I like to journal on and I was right, it would not work very well with a  watercolor paper even though I am sure it could be persuaded to open flat. So I explored some different papers.

I followed the advice of the experts and went for the four hole binding to start with and I used a soft unbleached mulberry paper and my trusty waxed linen thread.  It opens nicely and I like the folds at the outside edge of the book.

This technique does not require folded signatures, you can use single sheets or folded sheets with the fold at the spine or the open edge.  I am thinking of all the possibilities to be had with this book binding magic!

Of course I can always make a book any size I like, tall, square, long, skinny, landscape or tiny.  With the Japanese stab stitch, I can also use almost any paper and I love old paper which doesn’t always like to be folded, so that should be fun to try.

So far, I have been filling this one up with mandalas, I can put my template between the pages and paint on the pattern.

I got some straw for my garlic as a winter blanket and turns out it makes a nice background too!

Happy Thursday x