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Welcome Back

There is a budgie shaped hole in my broken heart. When I came downstairs yesterday morning, I discovered my beloved bugie Tiny had passed away. He had been sleeping a lot since April but was 5 years old so had put it down to his age. In the last couple of weeks he had got super cuddly and at every opportunity wanted out of the cage and would run up my arm to snuggle in my neck. Then when I had my cowl on the other day, he dived in and snuggled down in there like it was a nest. He would even go to sleep in my hands.

Budgie Cuddles from Tiny

Budgie Cuddles from Tiny

I still have another budgie Robin, who hasn’t had as much attention as he might of, because of Tiny being so tame. Its not poor Robins fault, he was roughly caught in the shop when we first got him and I was laid up with my busted ankle when he first came home so he didn’t get as much attention in the vital early months as would have been ideal in helping him settle and get over his fear of hands. He will take food from me so will take lots of time and hope he learns that I’m not a threat and just bring him nice things like food and treats.

Billie :( :( :(

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Welcome Back

Like, I’m sure a lot of others, a holiday this year wasn’t an option. Mind you, given that when we go on holiday that means camping and given the weather, I’m not quite as sad as I was at first. To make up for the fact we will be having a stay cation, I decided to treat myself to some new art supplies and have my very own art retreat instead.

Staycation supplies

Staycation supplies

These were the new supplies (thank goodness for Ebay ;) ) and I dug out some stuff I hadn’t used for a while and some art books from the book shelf that had been neglected and I’m going to art out instead. We all do it don’t we, you splurge and buy supplies then don’t always find time to actually play with it.

Join me for a virtual Art Retreat

Are you stuck at home this year too? Dig out some supplies you have but haven’t used yet, and some of your favourites and let’s have a play. This doesn’t have to be about Art, you can use the concept of any kind of creative activity you love.

You will need

Free downloads of retreat ideas to spark your creative spirit. Print the pages below. (Details of how later in the article.) More downloads to come, later in the week.

Staycation Turned Art Retreat: Introduction

Staycation Turned Art Retreat: Introduction

Staycation Turned Art Retreat: Supplies

Staycation Turned Art Retreat: Supplies

For an Art led Retreat:

  • Sketch book or paper suitable to the medium you want to use
  • Pencil
  • Putty eraser
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Jar of water
  • Brushes suitable to your chosen medium
  • Your choice of art/craft materials
  • Non stick craft sheet (for messy play)
  • Your choice of books
  • Fancy trying digital creating? Most affordable & user-friendly is Craft Artist software by Serif. Digikits (content is from £1.99) Very affordable, and lots of styles and options

Options

You can of course use the retreat concept for any kind of creative style not just art.

Stuff the rubbish weather, stuff the pollen keeping you in coz of hay fever. Lets have some fun. So who’s with me? Print out the two pages and gather your supplies for S.T.A.R.

How to Use

  • Click on the Download image you want to print, to open the picture to full size.
  • Right Click with your mouse and choose ‘Save As’ from the list of options.
  • Once it is on your machine, you can print it as, is or open a Word Processing programme and insert the image. This will give you more control of the final size of the page.

Leave me a comment to tell me what you are bringing on the ‘STAR’ – Art Retreat

Best wishes and thanks for reading

Billie :) :)

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Welcome Back

On Wednesday,  I put up a new Virtual Crafting Challenge, completely different to its earlier form. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this alternative concept, but as a result of this, I have taken my own challenge and come up with the following.

I give myself permission to…

  • Blog a little less, to give myself time to create.

You have no idea how scary a thought this is! But I am a firm believer in ‘To thine own self be true’.

I don’t follow fashion, I buy things I like because I like them, be that in clothing or art related. When I started this blog, it was as a way to share links to my favorite subjects. Links that had taken FOREVER to find with search engines and I figured others would find them useful too.

Thanks to my dyslexia, I have a terrible memory. If its not written down, I will forget, fact! As a result, when I experiment with projects and materials, I keep notes as to what I used, which colours and how I created something. That way, when I want to use that technique again, I can check my notes to remind myself what I did. This led to my sharing my notes with you all, in the form of tutorials. Which I love to create, either written or the video versions.

The reviews came from the fact that if I was considering buying something new, I would often search for peoples reviews to help me decide. One problem I found with some reviewers, was that although they may have had strong views for or against a product, they often didn’t explain why, or why they bought the item in the first place. This is why I go into the detail I do with my own reviews.

Do what you always do, get what you always got.

I’m terrible for spending more time organizing materials than using them. Do you do this too?

Between unreliable health and unreliable internet connection, I blog ahead of time. Even so, the posting schedule I have kept up, often overwhelms me, so I’m going to keep all the key features and try blogging once a week. Adding extra posts where possible.

In this way I hope to keep up the quality of the blog content and create some space and time for exploring my mediums. When I discover new techniques and designs, I’ll then share them with you along the way.

No changes to the layout, that’s working fine as it is and keeps the older posts easy to access. An integral part of how I hope the blog is useful as a research tool.

I hope you’ll stay with me and will enjoy seeing where this blog goes next.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

Today I’d like to share a couple of very different photos with you. On friday I shared a tutorial with you for how to create this first one.

Embossed stone book

Embossed stone book

I liked the effect so much I decided to make a tied cover for my loose sketches. I bound some mat board, embossed some cardstock and made the error of trying to copy what I’d done before. For my mixed media art, it tends to be much more organic, more a case of throw things on the paper and see if I like the results. I’m still very new to acrylic paints, so although I’m used to creating texture and aged effects with ink, it’s all very new with paint. So far I’ve been replicating the techniques I use with inks with paint, following my nose you might say. It’s all very experimental, which is fun but often unpredictable.

It doesn’t always go to plan though, when I have a plan, an agenda I have a tendency to ‘try’ rather than just letting things happen. On this new piece, I put too much texture paste on, and lost some of the embossing detail, then over did some of the colours and didn’t have the skills to hide or alter it. Refusing to give up and having recently learnt the power of a unifying wash (see my dark wood book & video) I decided to put a wash of colour over the whole piece and ‘save it’. It was going fine, until I tried adding some gold to try to lift the colour a bit, then didn’t like it and ‘tried’ to scrub it off BUT the blue wash wasn’t totally dry and I lost the last of the white background and it looks dark again :(

The card was saying ‘Just let me be, stop ‘helping’! so I did and this is what I have

Grunged version of embossed stone

Grunged version of embossed stone

I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either. Sometimes when you are working on the edge of your comfort zone and things go a bit off plan, you have to just put them away for a few days, and look at them again. Or just leave them on your desk and see how they look in different lights. I couldn’t decide if I had made mud or a master piece. OK a master piece is a bit optimistic, but it was a new level of layers and grunge and it was kinda good but new!

I let the piece dry, then had it sitting on the desk next to me. In the morning sun the blues really shine, later in the lower light of the afternoon the colour changes and the browns come out. I think I like it, I like things that you find new things each time you look at it. I have toyed with adding more metallic or white areas to lift the piece, but I think its time to let it be :) I can make another, another day and change the colours and patterns and I’ll get a totally new piece. I like art that takes you on a bit of a journey, when a piece shows you more the more time you spend with it, rather than a bright brash piece that is in your face. Personal taste and all that.

Mud or Masterpiece?

How about you, what do you do when you get a Mud or Masterpiece moment? Do you battle on and keep ‘bothering’ it till it looks the way you hoped? Or accept whats there and start a new piece with what the first one taught you.

Each book I bind teaches me something, that I need to cut more thread next time, how to join extra thread so I can finish a project, how to measure how much thread a book took to make so I’ll know next time. Instead of seeing things that go ‘off route’ as failures I try to see them as the projects teaching me things, that will help me for next time. Its only failed if you give up and never create again.

Would love to hear what you do when faced with a mud or master piece moment, do leave me a comment and let me know. I still prefer the clean design at the top as the texture is easier to see, but I love the depth and tone with the second one. What do you think?

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

I adore garden birds and we always have feeders up and provide shelter and water for the local birds. There are quite a collection of regulars including; blackbirds, sparrows, blue tits, chaffinches, collard doves, wood pigeons. Occasionally we have a greater spotted woodpecker drop in and in the winter we have been known to see a redwing, if there is snow on the ground and we have put apples out.

The other day I was in the garden and noticed although the large flocks of starlings had come down for the crusts of bread I’d put out (soaked in water, so not a choking hazard to little uns) that once the bread was cleared they start to prod at the grass looking for leather jackets and ants. There was an ant’s nest under the bird bath and I saw one starling delicately picking up single ants and placing them under its wing. It’s known as anting, the ants spray formic acid as a defence and its thought that the birds are using this either as a mite repellent or as a feather conditioner. We get large flocks of starlings, and call them the Dyson Squad as the descend on mass and hoover up any food in the garden. They gather at dusk on the house roofs and leave on mass. We get to see them swirl sometimes, especially if the sparrowhawk comes round as they chase it off.

The sparrows have nested for a third year running in the loft. They are on their third brood this year.

The blackbirds need asbos! They are bonkers! They have decided the bird bath is theirs and chase off anything that comes..but the sparrows come in gangs and the black bird can’t chase a dozen of them, so while he’s chasing one the others nip in the water. There are dedicated ‘wash a starling’ sessions where one bird notices we have a bird bath and the whole crew comes down for a wash, very social birds, they bath with a friend or 3! The sparrows sit just out of reach and enjoy the splashing till the starlings finish then they go in.

Wash a starling day

Wash a starling day

Time Team investigations in the garden

After the ‘Dyson squad’ made a visit at lunch time, I went out to refill the baths for them all and noticed the grass looked like it had been Geo-physed by the Time Team people, the lawn was covered in holes. (Good for aerating the grass though).

Garden Birds do a Time Team Investigation

Garden Birds do a Time Team Investigation

Loads of holes where the starlings beaks had dug in the ground looking for tasty morsels.

Garden Birds do a Time Team Investigation

Garden Birds do a Time Team Investigation

The blackbirds are joining in with the Time Team experiment and have opened up a ‘trench’ in the rockery!

Blackbirds opened up a 'trench' in the rockery

Blackbirds opened up a ‘trench’ in the rockery

All the feathered Time Team are very keen and have been back several time for further investigations.

Haven’t seen the robin for a while, I think he’s hiding out moulting as there was a juvenile robin some weeks back. The pair of dunnocks has gone into hiding after their little un fledged too.

Bless em!

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Welcome Back

If you love the texture of crackle but would like a fuss free way to create it, check out this video tutorial for creating texture with gesso. This is a dimensional paint effect so not one to stamp or journal over, but it makes a fantastic tactile finish.

Faux Crackle paint effect. The really EASY way

Faux Crackle paint effect. The really EASY way

You Will Need

  • Daler Rowney Gesso; White
  • Broad Palette knife. I’m using Langnickel K4
  • Rag
  • Jar of water
  • Non stick craft sheet
  • Palette
  • Paint colours of your choice

Method

I’ve included a written version of the instructions so those who need to can use the translate this site, to have the instruction in your chosen language.

  • Apply a generous layer of gesso to your mount board using the palette knife.
  • Using the flat face of the knife pat/dab into the gesso, this will leave a texture in the surface. Vary the pressure for different sizes of texture.
  • Continue until you have an effect you like and allow to dry.
  • For a coloured background add a light wash, then use a rag or sponge to apply colour just to the raised areas of the texture.

Options/Added Extras

  • For a coloured background texture, mix your colour into the gesso, bear in mind the colour will appear lighter as gesso is opaque.
  • Put a small amount of gesso in a separate container and add particles of sand or glass beads for a different more textured result.

Links

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial, would love to see what you create using the techniques shown.

Best wishes and thanks for reading see you soon

Billie :)

Adventures in Acrylics: Online workshop

Adventures in Acrylics: Online workshop

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Welcome Back

Today I’d like to share a past post with you as part of an online art collaboration with Seth Apter’s blog The Altered Page.

As Colour Wash inks are back in fashion here is a video tutorial featuring; Tiger Paper. Tiger paper is my name for the background papers I produce using particular distressed inking techniques.

You Will Need

  • Ranger Color Wash inks, in three colours. I use Stream, Denim and Eggplant in the video
  • A larger spray bottle of water
  • Gloves, this is a messy technique ;)
  • A plastic box to spray into
  • Blank newsprint or copier paper
  • Cardstock
  • Mini Mister bottles (optional)
  • Sponge
  • Plastic mat or similar to protect surrounding areas

***It is important that you protect the area, around your spray box. These inks do tend to spread and any unprotected surface may be inked if you do not protect it ;) ***

Method

Use a variety of different card stocks, each kind will give a different effect. Suggestions for cardstock to try:

  • Water Color Paper with a texture
  • Mat Board
  • Coated card (laser printer paper could work)
  • Glossy Card. Works very well.

Project Links

To find stockists of the products used in the film, here are links to their manufacturers.

Tiger Paper is great fun to make. I hope you give it a try, do show me the results if you do. If it isn’t working for you, try different cardstock. This is one of those techniques where results vary, depending on the card you use.

Do Check out Seth Apter’s amazing blog; The Altered Page for lots of mixed media inspiration.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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