Wednesday, February 27, 2013

just collage, no cheating....

Over on Collabor-ART we've been having fun with collage recently.  Well, when I say "fun", I mean that we were all painfully dragged kicking and screaming from our comfort zones :)  But I think most of us enjoyed it in the end, at least a bit.

The challenge was a two stage collaborative project to make purely collaged postcards - absolutely no paint, ink, pens and pencils even, allowed.  All we could use were cardboard for the base, printed papers, scissors and glue.  It was hard work!

Everyone did two postcards each, so here are the backgrounds I made for Vicki to work on:

And this is a get well soon card I made for my friend Pam at the same time:

(that one isn't "purely collaged" as the get well plaster was stamped, but I won't tell if you don't ;)  )

This is what Vicki did with my backgrounds, love them, especially the dude on the straw:

And for my part I was sent these backgrounds by Jean:


And my final collaged postcards:


To see more of the amazing collages that resulted from this little experiment, click here

And if you fancy joining in some fun, collaborative projects like this (and you are European based) - then why not join us over at Collabor-ART?  We are always on the lookout for new members....

Friday, February 22, 2013

Artful Readers Club February - America Unchained by Dave Gorman

Another month, another book :)

This month I've been reading America Unchained by comedian Dave Gorman:

The plan was simple. Go to America. Buy a second-hand car. Drive coast-to-coast without giving any money to "The Man". What could possibly go wrong?

This was a nice easy book to read - I had picked it up in a charity shop a year or so ago, a safe bet as I had enjoyed his previous books, the one where he travels the world looking for other Dave Gormans, and his Googlewhack adventure.

I didn’t even have the foggiest clue what the book was about, other than it mentioned America and a road trip, and I do love a good road trip tale – I’ve always wanted to do the coast to coast thing in a nice big RV, and visit all the wacky roadside attractions like the world’s biggest ball of string, and of course, being a huge Neil Gaiman fan, the House on the Rock – so that was enough to persuade me to hand over my £1 to the nice little old lady in Oxfam

It wasn’t until I actually picked up the book and started reading it for the Artful Readers Club, that I discovered the underlying basis of the road trip – Dave’s challenge was to drive from coast to coast without giving a penny to the endless procession of faceless multinational corporations and superbrands.  So he could only buy petrol from independent unbranded petrol stations, only sleep in independent unbranded hotels and motels, and only buy food from, you’ve got it, independent and unbranded shops and restaurants.  Mom and Pop businesses only.

I think this would be nigh on impossible in the UK – when was the last time you saw a petrol station that wasn’t an Esso or a Shell or tacked onto a major supermarket?  Or a reasonably priced hotel that wasn’t a Holiday Inn, a Premier Inn or a Travelodge? OK I guess you’d be alright in seaside towns where there are plenty of independent B&Bs ….. but it definitely wouldn’t be easy

And to be fair it was nigh on impossible in America too – although he made a jolly good go of it.   Overall the story of the highs and lows of the journey makes great reading, you truly empathise with the author when everything goes horribly wrong, and celebrate with him when his luck improves.

The only downside to the book was that there were very few photos, just a couple in the middle, and I would have liked to see more of the interesting people and locations the author described as he encountered them along the way - but maybe that was a deliberate marketing ploy as it has spurred me to purchase the DVD of the accompanying TV show :)  I'm glad I read the book first though, as it goes into much more detail than the one hour documentary.

On to my arty interpretation for this month, I decided to illustrate a favourite quote from the book:

"You don't need a convertible to feel the wind in your hair.  You don't even need wind.  Or hair.  It's not a physical sensation.  It's a state of mind"

Acrylics and watercolour over a background of torn maps to represent the road trip undertaken in the book.  The inspiration for the windswept lady was a painting I saw on Etsy by fashion illustrator Cate Parr.

I have already started reading next month's book - Heart Shaped Box by Stephen King's son Joe Hill.  He has definitely inherited the scare-them-stupid gene from his dad, it's so creepy I can't even read it in bed for fear of nightmares!  I'll see you next month with my full review and some spooky artwork.....

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Infinite Scroll : Monsters

I've been trying hard to resist signing up for the seemingly endless stream of fun free projects over at the Art House Co-op ..... but....but....monsters!!!  How could I say no to this one?

This was how they described the project:

This is going to get ugly...

We're calling out to 500 people worldwide to make one segment of what will become a really long, continuous drawing.

The Infinite Scroll series is inspired by the surrealist drawing exercise known as exquisite corpse, in which a group of people work collaboratively on a drawing without seeing the other parts that come before and after. We'll start the drawing off with a monstrous head and end it with some grotesque feet - everything in between is up to you!

Sign up and we'll email you the template and instructions for creating your design, drawing, or illustration of creepy, scary, and cute-in-a-hideous-way monsters.

We'll string all of the submissions together into one really long monster the likes of which has never been seen or imagined!

And this was my monster segment:

I kept him fairly simple, coloured with watercolours, and his spots came from a pencil eraser dipped in black ink

You can see the final whole monster on the project's blog here - but here's a snapshot of the section I'm in:

I think maybe they should have told everyone to keep the background white, as the sections join together better then, but it's still really cool to scroll through

So, there you go, I painted my little bit of monster, scanned it and emailed it in to the project, but then I still had my little bit of monster, and I didn't really know what to do with it .....

So I thought, why not make a not so infinite exquisite corpse monster of my own?

I didn't want to design the head and feet portions myself, as then they wouldn't have looked as disjointed as they needed to, so I asked my other half Jay to draw a head and my 10 year old son to design the legs and feet.

Then I copied their designs in different media, and ta da:

Meet Marvin, isn't he a cutie!

The end result is about A4 size, which luckily I had an IKEA frame lying around to fit.  I think I will hang him in my hallway so that he can greet visitors to my house with that lovely cheery smile :)

Monday, February 11, 2013

The truth about Mondays.....

So here's a very appropriate circle journal page to post in the early hours of Monday morning, just as I'm off to bed and sooooooo looking forward to the working week! :)

This is my entry in Gill's CJ - her theme is 'the truth about Mondays', she wants us to fill her book with quotes and quips about everybody's favourite day of the week, and she plans to keep the completed book on her desk at work to cheer her up

Neat theme, but I am glad I am one of the first to tackle it, as there don't seem to be that many good Monday quotes out there!

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Rocking January - and introducing my Year of Firsts.....

I pretty much failed last year at playing along with Virginia's awesome weekly gratitude party, Rocking Your World Friday - weekly just proved a bit much for me as I slipped first to fortnightly and then ended up settling with posting every three or four weeks.

So for 2013, I thought I'd take the pressure off myself and aim for monthly roundups instead.  And so here we go, kicking off with my rocking January.

It's been a fairly uneventful month, we haven't been out too much as the weather has been a bit pants, and we lost a couple of weeks to the lurgy, first Connor then me.

But it still had its moments :)

- it's been a great month for hockey, we haven't won every game we've played but they've been a lot of fun to watch

- we've won a ton of new business at work - which means we are crazy busy but it's all good on the job security front

- the January sales - I didn't go mad, but I did have fun buying up half of Paperchase's sticker department :)

- the snow - it arrived, looked pretty, and went away again without turning to dangerous ice or causing too much disruption.  Perfect.  The only pity was that it came while I was all flu'd up so I didn't get to play out in it, but I did enjoy watching Connor through the window making snow angels after school :)

- and on the subject of the weather, winter sunshine!  it's been a little few and far between but we have made the most of it when it has showed its face

- for example, we had a brilliant day out in Stratford upon Avon on the 6th - and the weather was very kind to us.

Shakespeare's birthplace
We had a good stroll around town and visited - and I quote Reece - the two best museums ever! First the creaky cauldron / magic alley / museum of witches and wizardry (it seems to have three names) where we delighted in the Harry Potterish surroundings, solved (with help!) the potion puzzle, found a polite TARDIS and sent ourselves some letters via owl post.

Then the MAD museum - Mechanical Art and Design - two floors of crazy kinetic and interactive sculptures and machinery - it was awesome!

And then we had a nice walk down by the canal and found an art gallery on a boat, a lovely day out all round

- Connor's new graffiti career :)  He had to make a piece of graffiti art for homework, and he made a canvas inspired by his favourite graffiti artist, El Pez from Spain.  He sent a photo to the artist himself and got a really nice email back, plus it's now on display in the school reception.  WTG Connor!

- Darcy's Artful Readers Club - I am so enjoying this new challenge, I had really slacked off on my reading last year, but this has reawakened the urge big time, I am fairly ploughing through my list of books - I'm reading March's book now having already finished February's - and I'm also listening to Game of Thrones on audiobook whenever I'm in the car.  I don't know why I've never tried audiobooks before, they are awesome, SO much better than listening to all the awful noise that passes as music these days on the radio (god, I'm so middle-aged!!)

- I finally finished my months long marathon viewing of Battlestar Galactica - I'd been terrified of the final episode because so many people had told me it was AWFUL and how they were still smarting from it years down the line - but you know what?  It wasn't that bad :) Sometimes it is good to have your expectations lowered so they can be exceeded :)

- and, more TV, I watched the first series of Danish/Swedish crime drama The Bridge while I was off work poorly.... it was amazing, highly recommended.   And I'm now hooked on the Channel 4 series Utopia- which is not for the faint hearted but, in my opinion, the best short drama series to hit British TV screens since The Fades

- playing with new toys - one of my christmas pressies from Jay was a set of pom pom makers, and I have gone a bit pom pom crazy this month :)  I am looking to make enough for a big garland to hang above the double doorway between my front room and kitchen/diner/craft room.  Here's one in progress <------

- another trip out on a sunny winter's day : we headed over to Bourton on the Water - the Venice of the Cotswolds, as they call it because of all the bridges.  Our first stop was the model village - in all the time I've lived in the area I've never been there, and we had great fun staging "giant" photos :)

Jay modelling his new beard :) I love the fact they even have little to-scale sized trees here

posting a postcard home :)
and admiring the model village within the model village - very fractal ;)

Afterwards we had a lovely lunch in a quaint little tea room, and then a walk around the village.  And we were going to do the motor museum too but it was closed for the winter, so we'll come back to that one another day.

- my eldest son finally adding me on Facebook - yay, I'm not shunned any more :D

- getting our accommodation booked for Barcelona ....exciting stuff!  can't wait!  we arrive really late on the first night so we have one night in an airport hotel and then 4 nights in a gorgeous 3 bedroomed apartment right next door to the Picasso museum!

all three bedrooms have a double bed and their own balcony :)  lush!

- back to telly again - my guiltiest watching pleasure is back! :)  Gentlemen, start your engines, because Ru Paul's Drag Race season 5 started this month (along with my favourite judge, Santino).  From the one episode I've seen so far I totally want Detox to win, girl is fierce!

And that's it for my rocking post ..... but, I also have something new (and to an extent, overlapping) that I want to share with you.

For a while in blogging circles it has been the done thing to choose a word in January that sums up what you are hoping to achieve that year.  After some humming and harring I settled for "brave" as my 2013 word.

I'm not talking "wrestle a lion" levels of courageousness, I just want to encourage myself out of my rut a little. Silly things like I always order EXACTLY the same meal when we eat out, because I know I like it, and I'm scared that if I order something else it might not be as nice.

Or, whenever I start a painting, I agonise about the initial stages of it for ages (days usually), whereas I wish I could just get on with it! :)

So, to support my efforts to be brave, I have challenged myself to do, eat, visit, experience 100 brand new things in 2013.  They can be big or little.  But they have to be things I've never done before.

And here is the opening chapter of my Year of Firsts:

1) first cooking of an actual chicken in the shape of a chicken  (I very rarely cook meat at all and whenever I have done a roast dinner before I've always cheated and bought one of those decidedly non chicken shaped joints in a tray).  Connor had to help me with the carving as I could barely get any meat off the thing, it's all hidden behind bones!   

2) first visit to Magic Alley and MAD Museum in Stratford upon Avon (see above)

(as an example of a classic missed opportunity to be brave in the first week, we went to a fudge shop while in Stratford upon Avon - I dithered for ages over lemon meringue flavour but chickened out in the end and bought safe old chocolate and vanilla because I already know I like them.  LM flavour might have been AMAZING!  but I'll never know....)

3) first time published in Featuring magazine

4) First visit to the model village at Bourton on the Water (see above)

5) First use of pom pom makers (ditto)

6) First visit to Leominster.  Not that I saw much of it as was just for a work meeting but it looked purty in the snow

7) First time taking part in the Artful Readers Club

8) Tried a fancy type of roll for lunch instead of the one I always get. It had sundried tomatoes and walnuts in. Didn't expect to like it.  In fact was grumpy about buying it.  But it was lovely :)

9) First time opening my car bonnet! I've had the car well over a year but Jay has always kindly done anything that needed doing. But I ran out of screenwash and in the spirit of the year of the brave, he encouraged me to pull up my big girl panties and do it myself :)

Not a desperately exciting list so far!  But let's hope that as the weather improves and we get out and about more, that I'll have more opportunity for interesting "firsts"

For those that managed it, thanks for reading to the bottom of this mammoth post :)

Sunday, February 03, 2013

What's on YOUR bucket list?

And so, having vowed off signing up for any new circle journals on UKScrappers, I found myself nevertheless volunteering for the final vacant spot on an art journal themed CJ over there, with the words "I expect I'm going to regret this....."

And there was never a truer word spoken, as no sooner had I signed on the dotted line, the first posting date was announced, eight days away.  Eight days???!!  I usually spend a month on and off getting a new book ready, plus I already had a few existing deadlines to hit before the end of the month.

I panicked accordingly and the host was kind enough to put the start date back five more days to Feb 1st, but I still couldn't quite hit it, finally finishing up today, ready for posting tomorrow, the 4th.  I hate missing deadlines, grrrrr :(

But it's all done now, hooray :) :) :) So here's my journal - it's an accordion book with 7"x7" watercolour paper pages held together with washi tape - the whole thing closing up with a ribbon

The front cover is a simple watercolour painting with some colourful cardboard letters that I've had for yonks and can't remember what make they are, and little washi tape pennants stapled on.

The theme of my book is 'what's on your bucket list?' - here are the instructions for those taking part:

In short, I've asked people to list ten life experiences they would like to achieve in their lifetime, on the back of their page, and then to choose one of the ten and create their main journal page about it - in the style of a travel journal

Here's my list and sign in tag:

I chose point 8 - take a ride in a hot air balloon - to illustrate:

Can you spot mini me in the basket? :)

And that's about it for my book so far, other than an "outtro" page at the end:

And now I send it off out on its travels, and I can't wait to see it come back to me full of everyone's goals and dreams....