I'm travelling into a new way of working, a new country, a new language, and a new hobby which I'm passionate about. Come with me for some of the journey...

Monday, 31 October 2016

Flying with the Witches

Hello all, and a happy Halloween to you all.  I'm flying with the witches today - travelling home to the UK from Columbus, Ohio after an exciting three months here.  I'll be sharing some of my Romeo and Juliet adventures soon, but I'm here just now to offer up some Halloween spookiness.

I had my first go at pumpkin carving at a Pumpkin Carving Party last week.  You know me, so you'll probably guess that I didn't go for the classic scary face but decided to try my hand at a spooky bare-branched tree instead.  There have been a lot of trees around here lately... I seem to be hooked!

I think it's rather good for a first try, though I do say so myself!  There were points at which I was a bit scared I was going to lose a whole branch or two, but I managed to keep control of the knife.

I also did a bit of crackle on some of the gorgeous tiny pumpkins you can get here, using craft glue and gesso.  I did mean to add some more distressed detail with paint shading and spatters, but sadly they still weren't dry by home time, so I had to leave them as they were.

The rest of the R&J company came up with some more traditional pumpkin faces, as well as the odd sports team fan-pumpkin.

It was all great fun - a lovely way to spend one of our two evenings off from the show.

I also wanted to share pictures of some of the fabulously decorated houses around the streets of Columbus.  I know that for the American followers amongst you this is probably old hat, but to those of us from east of the Atlantic, they're pretty impressive!

I was passing these houses on the bus every day, watching the decorations become ever more elaborate each weekend as people had time to add the next layer.

I love the friendly skeletons on the balcony, as well as those creepy spiders making their way across the walls.  Fabulous cobwebbery... even spreading onto the bushes all the way down the drive.

Sadly, I didn't get a picture of the one which was probably my favourite.  It had three full-size, very realistic skeletons simply sitting on the porch furniture having a drink and a chat... it made me laugh every time I went by.

This one with a whole graveyard in front of it was a treat though.  I think that purple spider above the door may be going to be inflated for the actual Halloween celebrations...

... the gatekeeper certainly doesn't look very welcoming...

... but all the various carvings on the gravestones are so cool in their different fonts.

How about this rather terrifying bat - with wiry wings at least ten feet tall - guarding the porch at this house?!

Of course, my real favourites are the stoops where you see the lovely autumnal gatherings.

I just love the variety of gourds - shapes, sizes and colours - and they look wonderful arranged on the steps.

I hope you have a great evening whether you're trick-and-treating or just hiding away from the ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties.  I'll be tucked up in my aeroplane seat keeping an eye out of the window for witches on their broomsticks!  Happy Halloween!

Pixie, kobold, elf and sprite,
All are on their rounds tonight;
In the wan moon's silver ray,
Thrives their helter-skelter play.
Joel Benton

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Watercolour Doodles

Hello all, and thank you for stopping by.  I'm so glad you enjoyed wandering amongst the meadow flowers and in the birch forest with me (the forest is one of my favourites too, I think).  I'm here with some more flowers and trees today, but these are all my own work.  And for once there are no words!

As most of you know, I've been playing with watercolour paints here in Columbus, and these are some of my experiments with no stamps or stencils involved.

I'm still working in the tiny Moleskine journal, 3x5 inches, so these are small doodles.  The Moleskine pages are not watercolour paper, so there's not quite as much play from the paints as you get if you've got the right substrate.

And while I do like playing with the Koh-i-noor travel set, I do find the colours a little too vibrant generally... not quite to my tastes.

I've some watercolour paints at home which are in colour tones slightly more suited to my vintage preferences, but for now I'm happy to live with the vivid shades.

I've no idea what species either the trees or the flowers are - they're taken from my imagination, not from life!

I did a little bit of pen work for the detail of the stamens, a little definition in the grassy stems, and for the border around the edges.

I think maybe I liked the flower page better before I doodled the frame...

... and I also think maybe I prefer the flowers before I added the details.  I don't know, what do you think?

Trees have always been one of my doodles in idle moments - as I said in the birch tree post, I find them to be a source of mental nourishment.

Just looking at a tree can bring a sense of peace and proportion.  They have an ancient wisdom and a serenity.

The detail work here is all done with paint and waterbrush - no penwork this time.  As I mentioned with the birches, the Pentel waterbrushes have a very fine point, so you can get some pretty good detail with the thinnest of the set of three.

And I enjoyed creating the ground for these two trees to stand on - with a rocky area and even a pond amongst the grasses.

I really ought to try to capture some of the autumn foliage in the pages of my journal before I leave here - it's starting to look very impressive on campus.

It's strange how different it feels sharing something where I've made all the marks - a little bit scary.  But Craftyblogland feels like a safe place to make these creative experiments - so I'm always happy to hear what you think, and thank you for your visit.

Water supports all our endeavours, from the simple task of making paint flow, to sustaining life. It is the common denominator that all humanity shares.
Sharon Crosbie

Sunday, 23 October 2016

The Wonder of Trees - or Etched Branches II

Hello all!  After a crazy week opening Romeo and Juliet - which, thankfully, is going down extremely well - I'm back with the promised second nature spread using the Etched Branches stamp by Penny Black.  As you'll see, I also took the chance to play with my new Tim Holtz Birch stencil.

It's another fairly simple page but, like What You Love or Etched Branches I, it gives me great pleasure.  And after visiting the summer meadow we're now definitely moving into an autumnal forest.  I actually made both pages at the same time - but clearly I was travelling through seasons that day!

I started by blending Chipped Sapphire, Stormy Sky and Weathered Wood inks through the stencil. 

I did a bit of spritzing and flicking for extra texture.

Next I stamped the branches in Archival ink and blended on some more ink to give the impression of further tangles of brambles around the foot of the trees.

I already rather liked it at that stage, but I decided I would have a play with my watercolour paints to add some more detail to the tree trunks.

You can see the early stages on the right hand page here.

I used my Pentel water brushes which have very fine tips, so it's possible to work in great detail...

... as well as to add soft washes of shaded colour.

I love trees - they have such beauty and wisdom and serenity - and birch trees are right up there near the top of my favourites.

I love the dimension it's possible to give the trees, and the whole process was very calming... a soothing way to while away a couple of hours in the midst of a pretty stressful work schedule.

I left it at that for a few days, before deciding that I would add just a few words to the pictures.  After all, I need to live up to the name of my blog, don't I?!

Small Talk stickers to the rescue again...

Once I'd stuck the phrases down, I used the water brushes again to add extra shading between the tree trunks around the words with Chipped Sapphire lifted direct from the mini ink pad.

So there's my autumn forest for you.  I hope you've enjoyed wandering amongst the trees with me today.  I have managed to transfer some photos from my phone to my laptop, so I hope to be back soon with some pictures of the R&J set for you.  Have a lovely Sunday everybody!

Well, one can't get over the habit of being a little girl all at once.... I'm sure I'll always feel like a child in the woods. These walks home from school are almost the only time I have for dreaming.... Here in the woods I like best to imagine quite different things…I'm a dryad living in an old pine, or a little brown wood-elf hiding under a crinkled leaf. That white birch you caught me kissing is a sister of mine. The only difference is, she's a tree and I'm a girl, but that's no real difference.
From Anne of Avonlea by L.M.Montgomery

I'd like to play along at Anything But Cute where they have An Autumn Day as their theme
And at Stamps and Stencils there's a wonderful Elements of Nature theme this month

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

What you love... or Etched Branches I

Hello all!  I'm here with the first of a couple of nature pages in my small journalling book (see Away She Went... for the details if you want them).   Both spreads use the Etched Branches stamp by Penny Black, but I think you get a quite different look in each one.  We're enjoying an Indian Summer here in Columbus, Ohio, so here's probably the last of the summery meadows for this year...  (The set of pages still to come is definitely heading for autumn!)

It's a simple page, but it's very much in tune with the words.  I'm still working on it being okay that I tend towards similar themes and colour palettes very often, not to mention favourite techniques and products... the things which make me happy when I'm creating.

I hope that it's not about being repetitive, but about recognising what feels like "me" when I make something.  I hope that it's about expressing something inside me which wants to come out in those ideas and colours.

I know quite well that this year, when I've had relatively little time for crafting (and usually on the move, as you all know), I'm even more inclined to use the time I have in ways which make me happy rather than trying to push myself in other directions.

In any case, here we are amidst the wild meadow grasses again... 

There are some delicate Distress Inks in the background, spritzed with water for soft texture.  I think it's mainly Old Paper, Weathered Wood and Antique Linen.

The Etched Branches are stamped in Olive Archival...

(It's all looking rather bleak and wintry at the moment, but things are about to change with some more inking around the edges.)

... as is the Cow Parsley (or Queen Anne's Lace if you prefer the posher version!) from Tim Holtz's Wildflower set.

I used a white pen to add detail to the flower heads as well, of course, as some white paint spatter to add the impression of a summer's day with pollen and haze in the air (better enjoyed on the journalling page than in real life if you're a hayfever sufferer as I have been for much of my life).

The words are from one of my Donna Downey sets by Unity.  I brought a grab bag of them with me, so I'm not sure which particular set these are from.

Simple pages, but they make my heart happy.  I hope they do the same for you.

There'll be some more seasonal nature pages along soon, and if I can get my devices to cooperate with one another I hope to share some pictures of the beautiful set we have for my production of Romeo and Juliet.  Talk about favourite things... watch out for crackle and splatter on a huge scale!

Thanks so much for stopping by today, and I'll see you again soon.

Little things seem nothing, but they give peace, like those meadow flowers which individually seem odourless but all together perfume the air.
Georges Bernanos

In a meadow full of flowers, you cannot walk through and breathe those smells and see all those colors and remain angry. We have to support the beauty, the poetry, of life.
Jonas Mekas