Saturday, 12 September 2015

Colourful houses & sparkling jewels.......

Last month on the Magical Journal Journey swap it was my turn to create for Tammy. Tammy's prompt/theme was 'colourful houses'. Painted in acrylics, with some black ink detail, the picture is a mix of Cornish villages I've visited and scenes from my imagination. 

As is usually the case, these art challenges highlight my lack of skills to me and make me want to learn more. But each prompt/theme provides lots of learning experience simply through doing. Most importantly I really enjoy creating for my friends in our Magical Journal Journey group and as always the creative activity brings a mix of positive benefits to my mood and wellbeing.

I've been busy creating all sorts this past fortnight. I have no sewing machine skills whatsoever and so I began to learn by trying to make cushion covers. This was my first very poor attempt:

Although I made lots of mistakes working the machine and in joining my pieces of material together; I did feel quite pleased that it did at least cover a cushion and was useable :-)! It's a learning curve and hopefully I'll keep learning from my many mistakes!

I've also been making jewellery to sell:

My next craft fair is at the beginning of October but I also continue to sell and take commissions via facebook and locally.

Now both my children are back at school I shall hopefully get back into a working routine and work on my massive to-do list that includes things like finally building a website. I have so many ideas, work plans and want-to-dos. I just need enough time and energy to put them into action. I never seem to have enough of either - do you know what I mean? I bet you do.

I'm trying to focus on each day seperately and have filled my art journal with a creative decorative to-do list that comprises of lots of small goals. My idea was to get the ideas out of my head, broken down into small goals and displayed in a fun way so that I could refer to them and choose to work on one acheivable chunk of a dream at a time.

  • What ways do you approach acheiving your goals, dreams and want-to-dos?  What creative ways have you found to organise your plans? 
Wishing you all a creative weekend and week ahead!
Kat :-)x

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Sunday, 16 August 2015

Painting a Beach Scene & then Distressing/ageing it......MJJ2015

This past week I've been working on a painting for Kim as part of our Magical Journal Journey 2015 art project. Kim asked us to be inspired by the beach & add a distressed or vintage feel to our artwork. The following shows how I went about creating my finished piece as shown above:

1. An old blog post of Ashley Hackshaw aka Lili Blue Boo once suggested decoupaging layers of newspaper and medium that would provide an uneven creased effect that would help add a distressed look to a painting. The idea stuck with me as a useful tip and so I used a Cornish newspaper (to add to the beach/coastal feel) and PVA glue. I chose to use canvas textured paper mounted on mount board as a base so that it would withstand the glueing, layers and distressing process.

2. In the bottom right hand corner I added a layer of Golden coarse pumice medium to add texture to where I would be painting my sand.
3. When all my glue and medium had thoroughly dried I then painted my basic beach scene using acrylic paint.

 4. Then continued to paint in more detail & depth....

 5. I had a starfish silver tone charm that I wanted to add in the bottom right hand corner to add further dimension. Because the charm was very shiny I spent time dirtying it with paint until it looked older. Then my daughter said "it would be good if it could look as if it is partly buried in the sand". This gave me the idea to use more of the coarse pumice medium & PVA to blend the charm into the painting. When the pumice & glue had dried I then painted it to match the rest of the sandy beach.

 6. Finally, to age the painting I used a Tim Holtz tea stain ink pad. Using a bit of foam I lightly passed the ink over the surface so that it caught on the uneven creases and also added a little to the edges and corners.

Its difficult to see fully in the scan below but the overall effect was a bit like an aged photo that had perhaps been pocketed and creased a little.

I was quite pleased with the result. I've done similar with ink drawings and stamping projects but this was the first time I'd distressed an acrylic/mixed media painting. I hope Kim likes it. I certainly enjoyed creating this for her!

  • What technique have you tried for the first time or adapted to use with a different medium? What were the results like?
Wishing you all a Happy and Creative Week Ahead!
Kat :-)

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Monday, 20 July 2015

Better late than never (hopefully)...Hearts & Birds MJJ2015

As you may have guessed by my long absence, life has been doing its best to "test" me & get in the way of blogging (amongst other things). Therefore it was with joy that I finally got to spend some time painting this past few days. The painting above is for our Magical Journal Journey swap & is for Stephanie's hearts and birds theme.

I have used metallic paint and layers to create texture and interest. Unfortunately, these details don't successfully translate to the screen. However, this scan of the original will give you some idea. I've used a mixture of acrylic and fabric paints. The bird is an "Inspiration" bird that if you're lucky enough for it to visit will help supply your muse with ideas and enthusiasm. Can't find it in your bird watchers guide? Well, evidently the writers/publishers of your book were never lucky enough to have seen this rare species ;-)

I hope life will allow more blogging & creative time soon. Meanwhile, to get your imaginations working, consider this....

  • What kind of imaginary bird would you like to see?
  • And, what would be so special about it?

Wishing you all a happy & creative week!
Kat :-) x

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Sunday, 10 May 2015

Painting by Music (and April MJJ)

In April my challenge, set by the lovely Gemma, was to paint a Mona Lisa self-portrait. Oh wow, this was hard. I struggled until I realised that the challenge wasn't to paint as well as Da Vinci (phew) but to inject a bit of our individual personality into a Mona Lisa style portrait. So I tried for a whimsical, doodley, cartoon like feel that matched my crazy imagination. The scan doesn't show the range of colours and layers that the original has and similarly, unfortunately, nor do the prints. But hopefully Gemma will enjoy the original and forgive my lack of portrait skills!

James Newton Howard "Flow Like Water"

In my last post I talked about my son having enjoyed a painting-by-music exercise at school. I've been having some problems with my vision/head the last couple weeks so its taken me a while to get to it. However, this morning I asked my son and daughter if they wanted to have a try with me. Happily, they were both enthusiastic about the idea and we had a couple of hours of creative fun together! We used a variety of music. Each time we'd listen to the music whilst choosing our paint colours and then would play it again using it to guide and inspire our paint strokes. For instance staccato rhythm may produce dots and splotches. The mood and pace of the music may put a certain picture in our minds. We covered a few pieces of paper and listened to a variety of music. I think our favourite was James Newton Howard's "Flow Like Water" which I've linked to (above) in case you fancy a go. Here are some of our favourite painting results:
My son's painting using Luna  "BrunuhVille"

My painting using James Newton Howard's "Flow Like Water"

My son's painting using "Secrets" by One Republic

My daughter's painting using Luna's "BrunhuVille"

My daughter's painting using James Newton Howard's "Flow Like Water"
My daughter seemed to use the image in her head that the music inspired whilst my son & I used a free flow approach in sync with the rhythm and melody. We all found it hard to stop and leave the painting alone at the end of the few minutes of music. The fact that my daughter managed this last painting in just a few minutes impressed me. Maybe next time I'll try her process of going with the image the music gave me. But both my son & I enjoyed the free form freedom of having nothing in mind and just going with the flow of the music.

  • If you're inspired to have a go please do share your results.
  • How do you approach your art? Do you favour structure and planning or a see-what-happens method?
Wishing you all a Happy and Creative week!
Kat :-)x

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Wednesday, 22 April 2015

"Two for Joy" and "Being Wonderfully You When You Create" (MJJ2015)

Where have I been? You may ask. Not far, but it seems that I am behind with everything on my to do list, including blogging. Part of this has been all the jewellery orders I've been making which has been a positive experience. I keep telling myself that panicking is futile and that the only thing to do is take one task and one day at a time. Sometimes that keeps the screaming voice of panic at bay but what helps more is getting so immersed in my creative activities that I forget to worry.

The picture above is a 6 x 6 inch embroidered painting that I recently completed for my fab friend Maggie whose brief on this year's Magical Journal Journey swap was simply "texture". She loves magpies and so these became the central theme in this "Two for Joy" piece. I spent days creating texture with embroidery thread. It turns out to be more difficult to sew paper than fabric even when using these basic stitches. One reason is that the process is less forgiving to mistakes and yes, this wasn't my first attempt. Yet I prefer how this second attempt evolved and so I'm glad I decided to start over. I do hope Maggie enjoys this. She is such an amazing artist that I can't hope to measure up to in skill so instead I always try to just be me whilst trying to inject a little of what I know she likes.

Years ago I'd be so in awe of talented artists that I'd be frozen & unable to attempt my own art for fear of failure. But the MJJ girls have become my dearest friends and their encouragement to be me in my creations has meant a lot. They've also inspired and taught me skills and approaches I may not have tried on my own. Similarly many of you readers with your kindness have done the same and your support has been very appreciated over the years.

I've learnt that you can only ever be you in your art. It helps to try new styles and undoubtedly practicing your skills is valuable. However, don't be afraid to put yourself into your creations because of a fear of ridicule or failure. A piece of art that comes from you with heart and joy will always have a special quality to it no matter what mistakes or lack of skill is involved. That's why children's art seems to warm the viewers hearts and brings joy to the beholder. It is the honest imaginative fresh approach that comes from not overthinking or trying to conform.

Today my 11 year old came home happy because he'd enjoyed art at school. They'd painted to music letting their brush strokes be dictated by the music in a freestyle unscripted way. For instance the drum beats would become dots & then the flowing passages long colourful ribbons. I've done a similar exercise with my writing but I'm definitely going to try this with painting. I suspect it would make a wonderful creative meditation. Why don't you give it a try? If you do, or have tried this before, please share your experiences. I shall share mine in my next post.

Wishing you all a Happy & Creative Week!
Kat :-) x

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Monday, 23 February 2015

Creative Half term & a new Magical Journal Journey

This year our Magical Journal Journey group is doing a swap that allows each participant to display their received art in whichever way they choose. Most of us want to create a collaboration that can be displayed on our walls. For instance: I am asking everyone to create two pieces of circle art, using the theme magical/mystical/mythical, that will form the blossom on a tree I'll paint on a large piece of board.

This month I am creating for the lovely Lisa (Priti.Lisa) who has asked us all to paint a portrait of ourselves. I admit, this was a task that exceeded my skills and challenged me immensely. It was also a psychological challenge as I began to notice every wrinkle, lump and imperfection as a result of days focusing on painting myself ;-)! The picture above is my finished piece but it was by no means my first attempt. The other incarnations went into the wood burner to provide heat whilst I painted this one :-)! I wanted to try and paint a traditional self-portrait of my outer image mixed with a reflection of what is inside of me. I'll leave it to you to judge the result. Needless to say I can find a million things wrong but I am also proud of my attempt. I certainly feel I've learnt new skills through the many hours of trial and error.

This past week was school half term holiday. We had painting days and amongst other things my children painted masks. Above is my son's tribal inspired mask. Below is my teenage daughter's more gothic approach...

Another fun activity we tried was when visiting the beautiful Lanhydrock woods. I gave them both a photo challenge that included a list of prompts and things to include in their photos. For example: themes, objects, letters of the alphabet, groups of 2 or 3 etcetra. They went off exploring, each with their own camera and then we viewed the photos back at the lovely cafe over tea and hot chocolate.

I was so impressed with their creative interpretation & imaginative reasoning. It was such a fun thing to do on a sunny day in a beautiful location. I wanted to share a couple of their photos but at the time of writing this I'm having a job downloading their photos. Hopefully I'll manage it soon & at that point I'll update this post with them.

  • What creative projects are challenging you this February?
  • What creative adventure have you recently enjoyed with your kids, grandchildren or friends?
Wishing you a Happy & Creative Week!
Kat :-) xx

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Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Creative affirmation with a dash of music & glitter...

My New Year has started with an even greater passion for creative living and keeping 'creatively well'. I took a break from jewellery making work over the Christmas holidays but kept up a creative practice, albeit reduced, making decorations food and playing lots of Christmassey tunes. Once our household went back to work and school on the 6th January I sat down and threw myself into jewellery making and writing. Every part of me seemed to sing with feelings of joy and a sense of coming home. Akin to the relief of stretching out tight muscles, sinking gratefully into a hot bath and being held by a loved one. At the same time inspired and filled with the excitement of possibilities. It felt like an affirmation for living creatively well and for me to further share my 'Creatively Well' ideas/experience with others. I have already begun building my new website and have lots of ideas to work on. Watch this space!

Why a photo of my piano? Well, glad you asked ;-)! 
I have a certain amount of nerve damage down my left hand side from past MS relapses. Part of this results in my left hand not working as well as it should. I've been practicing the piano, trying to retrain my hand and brain. A couple of days ago I managed to play a whole piece that I previously couldn't and it felt great; causing me to 'whoop' and cheer myself! Unfortunately, a fair amount of nerve and muscle pain followed. My children gave me a strange look when I held up my hand and talked to it: "don't think your grumbling is going to get you out of more practice - no pain, no gain!" 

Below is a picture I drew to celebrate the recent engagement of two friends and lovely people:

This original drawing was created using a black pitt artist pen on Bristol board card. He is a tree surgeon and they got engaged at the top of a cherry picker where he'd tied the ring box to a tree branch. As a self confessed tree hugger I found this wonderful. 

I couldn't decide how to display my drawing. First I scanned in the original, printing it on self-adhesive acetate and fixing coloured paper to its back:

I liked this but wanted to try another idea. This time I printed on printable acetate and then used glitter on the under side to accentuate certain elements. I have to admit it didn't go as well as I wanted but as it was my last sheet of acetate my obsessive perfectionism had to put up and shut up ;-)

After some deliberation (& other attempts including printing on window film that the couple now plan to attach to a mirror) I decided to use these three versions by mounting them on a trifold display card:

I decorated the back side with Anna Griffin paper. On one side I wrote a note to the happy couple:

The next photo should show the whole thing folded up with the note on top and beautiful ribbon tying it all together.......but I forgot to take that last photo before giving the gift to my friends. So you'll have to imagine and I know you all have amazing imaginations! Just be sure to be kind with your imaginative image ;-)

I hope 2015 has started well for you.

  • How has your creativity expressed itself so far this year?
  • How did this creative activity make you feel?

Wishing you a Happy & Creative week!
Kat :-)

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Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Festive thoughts & my addiction to glitter....

 It is the season for celebrating. Whether you celebrate Christmas, the Winter solstice or any other wintertime festive occasions: I wish you all a very Happy Holiday, Happy Christmas & A Happy New Year 2015!
 As you can see from the photos, the last couple of months my creativity has been primarily focused on making jewellery, beaded cards, bookmarks & lots of sparkly things :-)

 I have been blessed, this second half of the year, to be well enough to really grow my little home jewellery design & craft business. It does mean that I have been a little slack with my blogging & for that I apologise. I have kept in touch a bit more on my facebook pages CreativelyWellCreations & WrightStory. I also now regularly post on my Creativelywell Instagram page. But blogging is my first love and I hope to blog more regularly again in the New Year.

Other than jewellery & crafts the recent weeks have been full of Birthday celebrations & Christmassy events. This year was my son's last primary school nativity & carol service. Very emotional to come to the end of a special era. Yet as they grow they are involved in new beautiful things. For instance my daughter singing carols for the elderly & my son playing his guitar for the first time in public at a candlelit service. 
 One of the best parts of this time of year is time spent with friends. Games evenings, craft sessions, sitting around an open fire and having everyone over for dinners, drinks etc....  Lots of people have Christmas parties to go to and some of these photos show items made to match people's dresses. I love designing things especially to suit an occasion and/or outfit. The best bit is when people are happy & enjoy wearing my creations as much as I enjoy making them.

 I like making fun festive wear too - like Christmas charm bracelets or the jingly bells earrings below. They always seems to encourage a smile and a giggle.

Christmas Eve tomorrow and the excitement level is increasing in my home. I'm looking forward to us all giving each other our full attention over board games, dinners, cards, crafts and winter beach/coastal visits. Those times with the children are precious and make lovely memories. I also love having the house decorated. I am a glitter & bling addict, like a magpie attracted to the pretties! I do think fairy lights and a decorated tree are magical. And yes, I still believe in Santa.

What ever & however you celebrate this winter festive season, I wish you happiness, warmth and love. I also wish you lots of opportunities to be creative.

Kat XX

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Friday, 17 October 2014

Inspired by Henri Matisse (MJJ2014)

The last journal in this year's Magical Journal Journey swap belongs to Lisa Wright who chose Henri Matisse as her inspiration. As you can probably tell, I struggled to capture Matisse's style. However, I did relate to and enjoy his love & bold use of colour, pattern and the idea that one could throw the rule book out the window. Matisse also went through a period of time where he used paper cut outs to create art. Above is my version of this. I spent time painting and creating pattern on one piece of canvas paper. Then on another I blended greens and metallics to create a background. With a sci-fi fantasy story in my head whilst I did all these pages, I cut out shapes and glued them into an arrangement that pleased me. I do think it has a sci-fi fantasy feel to it. 

Matisse often used unexpected colours in his landscapes and portraits, choosing not to conform to the expected colours of nature. This gave me a story idea that included travel to parallel worlds, one of which had a very different coloured sun and subsequently an alternative natural colour pallette.

Having studied Matisse's landscape paintings I tried to emulate his use of large bold brush strokes of colour. The result was far from resembling his style but the inspiration encouraged me to try to work in a different way. It is good to stretch myself and try different ways of painting.

The next painting was inspired by a couple of Matisses's painting of women in hats and his love of the feminine form. Once again I attempted to recreate bold use of colour and brush strokes. I attempted to use alternative colours in my shading of her skin in a similar to the way he did. It was a lot harder than it looked. Unfortunately the proportions of this girls face went wrong but I decided not to assign this painting to the bin; there was something I was pleased with in the use of colour in this.

This lady doesn't feature in my story but the characters in my fictional world do have a faint violet tinge to their skin, hair and eyes caused by their exposure to the very different sun, in a similar way to this lady's own blue shading. As always, if you'd like to read the story just send me an email and I can send you a copy to read.

During this swap we have all been collaborating on the journal covers. I decorated the back inside cover with this use of bright colour and example of pattern.

 So another Magical Journal Journey comes to an end. I have just received my journal back from its travels. It is absolutely gorgeous and I completely adore every page that has been created for me. I shall share my journal with you in a blog post coming soon.

I feel so lucky that as a group we have all grown close as friends. The bond we have all formed is special in a way that we couldn't have predicted three years ago, even though we were already online friends. The connections we make with some people in our lives have a profound and powerful effect on us. For me, life is about the connections we have with the other people who share our journey through life. The fun thing is that we never know when, how and who we'll meet.

  • Who has inspired you recently? 
  • What connections have you made that have altered your creative life?

Wishing you a happy, inspiring & creative weekend!
Kat :-) x

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Thursday, 2 October 2014

The joy of creating daily and new achievements...

Happily I've been able to create most days this past couple of weeks which has brought me plenty of joy. Creating seems to calm me and ignite my spirit all at the same time. It continues to be a magical way of boosting my wellbeing.

In addition, for the first time in many years I was well enough to attend a craft fair with my jewellery.

My friend took this photo half way throught the sale so there are a few gaps. I decided to set up & do a little jewellery making in between serving customers. I found that people liked to see the jewellery being made. I was so nervous at the beginning of the day but quite quickly I relaxed and began to enjoy. It felt a worthwhile achievement to have managed to have my own stall. I have to say I wouldn't have managed without the support and help of my husband and children who were fabulous.

I managed quite a few sales and a few custom orders. Even better was the boost to my confidence and the pleasure of meeting some lovely people; fellow stall holders and customers.

I was wiped out for a few days afterwards, so I wouldn't think of doing these sales regularly, but I'd like the chance to do another craft fair and maybe a jewellery party before the end of the year.

  • Have you tried something new recently that made you nervous but turned out to be beneficial and/or enjoyable?
  • When is the last time you pushed your creative life in a direction that took you out of your comfort zone? What was the result?
On the way to the craft fair, at one point, I was tempted to turn back and chicken out. I'm so glad I didn't. Its hard to publically display things you've created because you are then open to opinion and judgement. Over the past year I've discovered that the rewards are worth the aprehension. I get a real buzz when someone enjoys something I have created. Whether a picture on a wall or a bracelet being worn, spreading a little enjoyment and joy feels good.

Wishing you a Happy and Creative week/weekend!
Kat :-) x

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