If you read this blog regularly you’ll know that four years ago I got three hens. Here they are: I think they had just started laying around the time I took this picture of them perching on this old tyre.
As soon as they arrived, one of them immediately established herself as top hen and the most sociable of the three. This is Lucy, an amber star (the white one).
She was cheeky and inquisitive and soon found her way into our affections. She was never a very good egg layer but made up for it in friendliness and personality. Sadly, Peggy (the little brown hen) died about a year ago but Prudence and Lucy carried on until a couple of weeks ago, when Lucy got ill and died. She was a good age – 4 .5 years is pretty old for hybrids who are bred to produce eggs and not for longevity and I think they had a nice life pottering round the garden and giving us eggs.
While I was painting the wood slices, I decided to paint one as a tribute to Lucy. I showed a photo of it to my eldest son who is in Australia on an extended backpacking trip and he asked if he could have it – until he realised that there’s no way a slice of wood would get through Australian customs. So I scanned it and put it on Redbubble and arranged to have it sent to him as an art print. I was so touched that he wanted it, and I was going to finish it up and add more details but he said, no, I like the unfinished look to it… While I was on Redbubble, I resurrected my shop there so this painting is available to buy there now, as art prints or even as a cushion or a mug!
Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been joining in an art making challenge called the Make Art That Sells: Assignment Bootcamp 2015.
It is run by Lilla Rogers, a prominent art licensing agent in the US, in conjunction with the various courses she runs. I took it to help me get used to making art on different themes aimed at particular product markets, and I’ve been enjoying it tremendously, even though it is pushing me out of my comfort zone. The way it works is that Lilla gives participants a mini task on the first Monday of the month, which usually involves sketching or painting on a particular subject. Then the second Monday of the month we are given an assignment, with 2 weeks to complete it, based on the mini but for a specific market or product. If you would like to see some of the artwork which has been produced so far – here is a page with a link to the galleries.
In January the theme was Edwardian brooches, and the final assignment was to design a journal cover with that theme. I started playing with handmade stamps first because I like the rough, abstract feel. I used some of these in the background or for texture (and they also found their way into my train ticket art!).
Then I started sketching and eventually I scanned in the sketches, vectorized them, printed them out and painted them in different colour schemes. Here are the two designs I came up with in the end, mocked up as journals.
This is the one I eventually uploaded, I quite like the ‘scary creatures’ sort of take on it though maybe a darker background would suit them better!
I like the delicate lace designs on this one but I think the colours pop more in the first.
For February the mini task was to paint or draw scenes inspired by imagery seen on vintage plates. This is one of mine – as you can see I’m not very good at painting people!
The following week the assignment was to paint these scenes on circular pieces of wood! I discovered that wood slices (with bark still attached) seem to be fashionable at the moment for wedding table settings so I bought a pack of 20 and have been busy painting scenes and pictures on them! We only have to do one so it means I have plenty to spoil along the way!
I prepared the surface and then got going! Here are a few of them in progress – I eventually uploaded the two boat scenes to the gallery.
I really enjoyed February’s challenge – I liked the broad nature of the theme and, as you will see if you look at the gallery, people interpreted it in very different ways and styles. It reminds me a bit of the sort of designs I used to make in fabric with my Rainy Streets series of postcards and my print gocco notebooks.
Here is my second book review. The book is called The Artist’s Guide to Perspective by Janet Shearer. It is a large paperback with lots of photographs and diagrams, and step by step instructions like the felting book.
The chapter headings give an idea of what the book covers:
How perspective works
The picture plane
Questions and answers
Foreshortening in figurative drawing
More advanced perspective
There are lots of exercises involving holding a pencil in front of you while looking at the horizon and I can see that it would be useful for quilters who wanted to make realistic images of landscapes or street scenes. The author does include lots of photographs and examples of what she is talking about. However, I think it would take a lot to make me go and stand like a lemon in the middle of a country road with a number of large cardboard boxes as she suggests! Although, to be fair, she does suggest an alternative exercise indoors..
I would imagine that this book would be useful to go through if you wanted to get a clear understanding of how perspective works (in order to break the rules, maybe?) but I must admit I prefer the approach of Betty Edwards in Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. The author is a teacher and I found her style a bit patronizing at times, such as when she tells you to stand up straight and not slouch because it’s good for your health as well as good for the drawing!! Having said that, it does seem to be very systematic and clearly explained and maybe if I actually went through the exercises rather than just reading through them I would change my mind. She does have an interesting section on painting the sea and sky and mixing colours. Maybe this is why I didn’t get on so well with the book – I am a colour and texture person rather than someone who likes shapes and mathematical exercises and I’d much rather eyeball things than be scientific!
A reminder: The books I’m reviewing are called Self Sufficiency: Hen Keeping/ by Mike Hatcher (£7.99), The Felted Bag Book by Susie Johns (£14.99) and The Artist’s Guide to Perspective by Janet Shearer (£8.99) and New Holland Publishers are offering 20% discount plus free P&P if you buy them through their website – put the code Spiral at checkout (this lasts till 31st March 2011, UK customers only).
First of all, let me show you a photo of the reeds in February, just so you know I’m keeping up with my resolve! (Not that one lot of photos a month is exactly onerous but still…)
I love the colours in that one. It was a glorious, crisp, sunny winter’s day last week.
A few weeks ago I signed up to do an online course, hoping to get my creative mojo going again, and it definitely worked! I did LK Ludwig’s Printed Patterned Painted journal making class – Karen Stiehl Osborn was doing it and mentioned it in her newsletter.
Here are a few of the painted papers I’ve made:
Can you believe these were made with acrylic paint, a few old credit cards and some foam stamps or stencils? My (mostly) home made stamps box is getting fuller:
I have actually made two journals out of them so far, but don’t seem to have any photos yet! Here is one in process of construction.
Besides all this, I spent most of last week monoprinting over them with a gelatin plate – this time I used Rayna’s recipe and it is still going a week later!!! Last year it cracked up after a day or so, and Rayna’s recipe is definitely easier so I will be using that from now on… I seem to have been so busy printing that I haven’t taken any photos yet so that’ll be the next post. Last week it was half term and DH was away in India and I seemed to get a lot more done, for some reason! I also finished the two large reeds hangings finally so pics of them will be forthcoming as well.
For a FREE sample pack of printable painted papers, sign up for my newsletter today!